Monday, 11 August 2008

Case Hardin - Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer

Here's a review of Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer the new Case Hardin record.

"On first hearing Charlie Spencer registers undeniably as a superior Americana album. Case Hardin, based around the pairing of Del Skinner and singer-songwriter Pete Gow and augmented by former Cotton Mather drummer Dana Myzer, deliver a batch of well-crafted songs very much in the lineage of Steve Earle and Jay Farrar. There’s a deal of twang, of steel, and on one track, some very nice fiddle. For these reasons alone it’s worth seeking out.

On closer examination it proves more; a finely-wrought writer’s album. Gow is a journalist who has spent a lot of time recently in Iraq, and he clearly has both the writer’s eye for detail and an assured capacity to juggle words and meanings. Knowing titles like ‘Three For The Road’, ‘Sweethearts Of The Radio’, and ‘Dead Lines’, plus a host of lyrics referencing the creative process, demonstrate his acuity.

This is in no way pretentious. It’s not trumpeted, it’s just waiting there to be found. The songs, especially the ‘Tune For Charlie Spencer’ with a gorgeous vocal contribution from Sophia Marshall, in themselves provide more than ample reward, but Gow here has certainly given notice of a singular talent, and there must be more to come."

Released on Ugly Nephew

Bucketfull Show at The Worlds End this Sunday

Bucketfull of Brains in association with Turning Worm presents:

At The Worlds End, Camden Town

Sunday 17th AUGUST - 4.00 onwards, first band at 5.15

Legendary magazine Bucketfull Of Brains and top promoters Turning Worm bring
great bands to the afternoon thing at the World End.

Another in the series of Bucketfull afternoons on the third Sunday of each



Eileen Rose has just released her fourth album At Our Tables through Evangeline Records. Opening a new chapter in her already impressive career, she has now taken her music to Detroit, tracking down the city's deep-rooted musical Soul and making it all her own. Aided by seasoned producers Al Sutton (Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Detroit Cobras, Electric Six), and Eric Hoegemeyer (Charm Farm, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker), plus members of Sponge, Detroit Cobras, and her own band the Holy Wreck, Eileen has recorded her most accomplished record, yet. A joyous celebration of the accidents of Life, Love, and Human Nature.

She currently tours with her new line-up of the Holy Wreck, featuring guitar virtuoso Rich Gilbert (Frank Black, Throwing Muses, Tanya Donelly) and bassist, Nicholas Giadone Ward.

"Dirty, drawling interpretations of the country she loves. It’s Nashville with attitude for the 21st century. Not Sheryl Crow, in other words." – NME


Reading band, Case Hardin skilfully draw elements from rock, americana, country and folk. The core band of songwriter Pete Gow, also a member of Southern Tenant Folk Union, (guitar, harmonica) and Del Skinner (guitars, bass, mandolin, pedal steel), are joined by ex- Cotton Mather drummer Dana Myzer. Formed back in 1999, Case Hardin take their name from the female lead in Boston Teran's noir thriller God Is A Bullet .

Their new album Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer is just out on Ugly Nephew.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Dave Graney in Brixton

Dave Graney is back in London for the first time in seven years. He, Clare Moore, and Stu Thomas played for a select audience in the convivial surroundings of the Windmill. See if you can work out exactly what he played from the setlist. I was especially pleased by 'Rock'n'Roll Is Where I Hide' and 'Night Of The Wolverine' plus Stu's take on 'Big Spender'. Tonight he's at the 12 Bar.

Friday, 25 April 2008

What's Kickin' Vol 3

Stovepony Records bring us What’s Kickin’ Vol 3, the latest compilation featuring bands who’ve played at the What’s Cookin’ club nights in Leytonstone. This enterprise run by Stephen Ferguson and his partner Ali, has been going for four years now in a series of venues in Walthamstow and Leytonstone and there have been many cracking nights along with a one-day festival last summer.
Stephen puts the compilations together along with Bucketfull contributor Gerry Ranson. They’re always good value and provide a good snapshot of the roots bands currently playing around the London pub circuit and beyond. There’s always some exclusive tracks and always some surprises.
This selection keeps up the good work, moving through the punked-up country of Some Dogs through the garage wildness of The Fabulous Penetrators to the differing bluegrass stylings of Southern Tenant Folk Union and Hayman Watkins Trout & Lee. There’s a trio of more pop-tinged tunes in The Epstein’s ‘Hudson’, The Shivers’ ‘Sweet Little Cheat’ and the Byrdsy ‘Friends Like Me’ from Cusack.
They had a launch party the other night over at the Sleepwalk and about seven of the bands played. That followed on from a similar night a couple of weeks back to raise money for Love Music Hate Racism. On that occasion Alan Tyler, Danny Wilson, and Pete Molinari all appeared but the stand-out set came from Steven Adams of the Broken Family Band. Steven played a set of covers from folk like Akron/Family, Clem Snide, Smog (‘Feather By Feather’), Will Oldham (‘No Gold Digger’) and the superb Knife In The Water (‘Nevada Spider’).

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Bucketfull Show - Sunday 20th April

Sunday afternoon saw the latest of the Bucketfull Of Brains/Turning Worm shows at the Worlds End in Camden.Previous shows have been impressive and this kept up the high standards. We had the Outdoor Types, Instant Flight, and Mary Epworth and The Jubilee Band, and everyone played cracking sets.
Everything started a bit late as certain gentlemen were feeling the effects of two consecutive twenty-hour days at the Camden Crawl, However once the Outdoor Types got going no-one cared about the wait. There’s a fine mixture of psych, folk, and proper pop music to them. Luke Novak is an excellent frontman and Laura Forbes mixes it up nicely jumping between keyboards and violin. It was good to hear their Shoenfelt-esque single ‘Jangler Swifteye’ performed live along with the somewhat perverse ‘The Doll Enthusiast’.
They were followed by the psychedelic wonders that are Instant Flight. Despite Marco Magnani being sick as a dog and hiding in the car for much of the afternoon when it came to the show they gave it all up. A mixture of songs from 2004’s Colours And Lights album – ‘Top Of The Mountain’ and ‘Freeway’ – and newer songs from the soon-coming Endless Journey. Most enjoyable of the latter was perhaps ‘Get Away’ where Lucie Rejchrtova leaves off her keyboards and blows a mean harmonica in a style once prevalent on tiny Hamburg stages when the world was young.
Last up was Mary Epworth and her Jubilee Band – Will, Aster, Horse and Andy. This was to be the launch of their new single –‘The Saddle Song’ - and thus it was, though owing to trouble at the pressing plant there weren’t any copies. Anyway you can hear it at their MySpace and they played it live as well. It’s a classic folk rock tune with a lovely sway, percussion and (on the record) a rustic brass band behind. They also played ‘Six Kisses’ and ‘Black Doe’ , an autoharp was exercised and Horse played some banjo behind his head, Hendrix-style, though the lighter fuel never came out.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Danny and The Champs Album Launch

A record I've been listening to lots over the last couple of months is the Danny And The Champions Of The World record. This is Danny from Grand Drive along with various members of Brakes, Electric Soft Parade, and Goldrush, and sometimes live with Romeo from the Magic Numbers. It's a lovely, summery, rustic sounding set of tunes with lots of acoustic instruments, percussion, strings, woodwinds, and unidentified jew’s harp-like sounds. They're open-ended, permitting onstage extension and extemporisation; songs that feel no rush to bid their leave.
Dan's been performing them all over the place. He's been lighting out for the territories in his camper van, playing to anyone who'll have him. The band resemble the Passing Show or the Rolling Thunder Review.
Last night the album got launched down at the Windmill in Brixton. Fun evening with The See See and Indigo Moss playing too. The See See were excellent. Their meld of folk, psychedelia, and fine guitar playing - Richard Olson on an acoustic 12 string, Pete Greenwood on electric - is really taking shape and they've some memorable songs - 'Half A Man And A Horse's Head' come to mind.
When Dan took the stage - following a cheese auction - he was alone in his poncho and painted face mask strumming the guitar but gradually the rest of the band appeared out of the audience with tambourines and trumpets and more. Songs off the album like 'The Truest Kind', 'Red Tree Song' and 'I Still Believe' grew into Dead-like improvisations while Allen Ginsberg danced on the screen behind. Blissful.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Real World - Fatal Shore

Talking of Fatal Shore here's the review of their recent Real World album that I did for Rock'n'Reel magazine.

"Fatal Shore is a trio of exiles based in Central Europe. Australians Bruno Adams and Chris Hughes were in Once Upon A Time whose majestic ‘Planetarium’ was recently covered by Mick Harvey. Yorkshireman Phil Shoenfelt has a long, diverse history that began with Khmer Rouge in early 80s New York. For their third album Real World they are joined by multi-instrumentalist and arranger Yoyo Rohm and a string section.

This Real World is certainly dark and intense. Its soundtrack combines something of the cabaret and something of the Australian gothic, taking in blues, soul, and balladry. A profound seriousness is reflected in Shoenfelt’s precise enunciated vocals, contrasting with those of Adams who tends to the slightest of country inflections.

Roiling, grunge-like frenzies such as ‘Rainy Sunday Morning’ and ‘Train Song’, sit next to beautiful serene pieces like the Cohenesque ‘Faithless’, the tender ‘Out Of The Sea’, and the reading of Brel’s ‘If You Go Away’. A Mariachi element (and a touch of Wise Blood) pervades ‘Blind Jesus’ while gypsy music accompanies both the tale of ‘Vivi The Flea’ and the opener ‘Black Venus’ which borrows its tune from the traditional gypsy song ‘Khamoro’."


Triple Launch Night Revisited Revisited

Last up was Phil Shoenfelt, accompanied by Pavel Cingl who'd been in Southern Cross with him and plays fine violin and mandolin. Their Live At The House Of Sin was recorded live in Prague in December 2007 and features a mix of Phil's solo songs, Fatal Shore songs, and a few other things too. Many highlights but my faves on the night were 'Twisted', 'Saviour's Day' and 'Damage'.

Triple Launch Night Revisited

Next up was Mark Hulholland. I was put on to Mark by Nikki Sudden who reviewed one of his records for us many moons ago. Mark lives in Berlin and plays in a band called Two Dollar Bash. But tonight he's launching his new solo double CD on Easy Action. It's appropriate because half the album was recorded live at the 12 Bar in 2005. He's accompanied tonight on drums and percussion by Chris Hughes out of Fatal Shore - and once of Once Upon A Time Mark's originally from Scotland and has one of those gentle almost whispered voices accompanied to great effect by acoustic 12 string guitar.
The new record's called The Devil On The Stairs and there are a lot of songs from it tonight; along with the new '66 Dylan-y 'Departure Lounge Blues' and Epic Soundtracks' 'Something New Under The Sun'.

A Triple Launch Night

The last Monday of March saw three of our favourite singers all together in one place and all launching new albums.
We don't go to the 12 Bar Club as often as we used to but it's always a pleasure when the opportunity arises. And thus happened when Jason McNiff, Mark Mulholland, and Phil Shoenfelt all converged on the place.
McNiff's got a kind of greatest hits collection out - In My Time - with songs from all his albums and a few new ones too. He got to kick off with a short set entirely made up of songs from it with the exception of his cover of 'Famous Blue Raincoat'. It was very short actually and he didn't get to do his beautiful epic signature song 'Off The Rails'. Fortunately he'd done it the night before at Come Down And Meet The Folks where he'd also done Sally Timms' 'Horses'. A week later I caught him at the Windmill in Brixton where another new addition to his repertoire was 'The Lakes Of Pontchatrain' learnt he says off a live Dylan video.

Friday, 4 April 2008

A February night at the Carbon Casino

Mick Jones must be the happiest man in the world. He smiles so much. No matter who he gets up to play with, he loves it.

Friday night was the sixth Carbon Casino and the second one I’d been to. Last time I got John Cooper Clarke and Tymon Dogg and that produced a pretty good; ‘Junco Partner’ with Tymon on fiddle, but last night we hit paydirt.

I was stood outside waiting for the queue to abate, reading the Independent arts bit, and texting girls in New York. Then my pal Tracy jumped out the door and started looking down the line. She runs up to me and says “I have to take this man inside to help me talk to Pete Wylie”. And I’m bundled up the stairs and “What can I ask Pete?”

Well that’s pretty easy 'cos questions to Wylie write themselves, but me and him go back to 4AD days and the prospect of seeing him again was great. So I tell her and then pick up a wristband and a glass of red wine.

Inside we grab a perch up the front stage left. There’s a whole bunch of bands tonight, not quite the projected 10 but close. Mainly young like the Sandinistas with their cracking guitarist named Francis. Then Adam Masterson gets up and sings his take on ‘Gates Of The East’ and, joined by Jon Byrne, ‘Waterloo Sunset’. Everyone gets quite emotional.

Then it’s Carbon Silicon time. Another fine set from them. I never get over hearing Tony James doing ‘Reason To Believe’, and what would Timmy think? Pete Wylie sings ‘Come Back’ and stays up with band for ‘Stay Free’; always one of my fave Clash songs, and it turns out Robin Banks is backstage too.

Where We Stand...Today

This is a new blog for a new Bucketfull Of Brains, though in many respects it resembles the old one quite closely. Many of the same writers, most of the same concerns, quite a few of our still favourite bands, and a retention of our, sometimes, willful obscurity.

It’s been a few months since #71 appeared and we have since then been looking at ways we can ensure both regularity and security. It’s been no secret that for a while the mag has been financially unstable. When Nigel founded it, and when Jon was running it at six issues a year, it sold through music distributors. Over the last few years many of these have gone out of business; those that remain aren’t interested in the relatively low profit margins of magazines. At the same time magazine distributors aren’t that interested in ‘occasionals’, and if they are they don’t have their interests at heart and end up running them into the ground. Comes With A Smile being a good example of this.

We’ve therefore looked for another way. And over the next couple of months that other way will manifest itself. But in the meantime this site will act as a conduit for information and hopefully will be of interest in its own right.