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2014 In Music - Editor In Chief's View

Having started off 2014 in a healthy state it’s safe to say that the malware infection which threw the Wordpress version of Muso’s Guide off track in the spring was a setback that we’ve been slow to get back up to speed from. Contributors disappearing into thin air over the past few months has also obviously been less than helpful in a year that, initially, was shaping up to be extremely good – we’d covered our first festival in the USA, reviews were being published at a rate seldom before witnessed and UK & European festival coverage was on the increase. Significant progress was also being made in the area of music-related books.

We’re still here though and as committed as ever to reviewing whatever we feel like, agenda-free and entirely honestly & whilst the past 12 months have thrown up challenges we’d definitely not anticipated it’s not been a bad year for music. I’ve personally thoroughly enjoyed my experiences at all of the festivals I’ve covered (Liverpool Psych Fest, Le Guess Who? & Long Division all for the second time and Beaches Brew & Bradford’s Threadfest for the first times). Practically everywhere you look now has a similar urban event going on at some point in the year so 2015 will see coverage from those already mentioned as well as the likes of Hipsville and a look at what Ghent & St. Malo have to offer.

On the recorded music front I’ve lost track of the enjoyable individual songs that have leapt out at me at various times across various platforms but we’ve tried to corral those we’ve particularly enjoyed on our soundcloud-hosted Underexposed playlists as well as collating the bigger named acts in a similar manner over on Rdio. As for albums keeping an ongoing list for the purposes of reference in this article has as ever been invaluable.

In no particular order then I can safely see myself still caring enough to be listening to the following in the year ahead:- Quilt’s Held In Splendor, Holy Wave’s Relax, Mark Morriss’s A Flash Of Darkness (which benefits greatly from his voice sounding a tad cheerier than with The Bluetones), The Faint’s Doom Abuse (possibly their best album yet), Chiaroscuro by I Break Horses, East India Youth’s Total Strife Forever, Bleeding Rainbow’s Interrupt, Pontiak’s Innocence, SkatersManhattan, from way back in December 2013 The Frowning CloudsWhereabouts (the only act amongst this lot who’ve managed to have another album out in the same 12 month period), Todd Terje’s It’s Album Time, Cuello’s Modo Eterno, Luminous by The Horrors (who’ve managed to fully change their spots with a work that came close to being played to death), Clipping’s Clppng, White Fence’s For The Recently Found Innocent and, finally, the musical riot that is the self-titled debut from Meatbodies.

Gig-wise Augustines, Teenage Fanclub, Muck And The Mires & The Black Lips stand out for me but the bulk of performances taken in were during the previously mentioned festivals with Gnod, White Hills, Nissenmondai, Theo Verney, The VaselinesEinstürzende Neubauten all delivering brilliantly (the latter being the best performance for this and many previous years combined). 2015 has a lot to live up to. 


Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia - Day Two

  • Published in Live

Day two of this year’s Liverpool Psychfest kicked off in fine style with Newcastle’s The Glass Moths laying it on thick with their organ drenched, extended workouts. You have to make the effort to get in early to see the opening acts at these things, at least when you’re already in situ, and the rewards for the early birds were here today across all three rooms. Temple Songs tore it up in the Camp with their set very much being at the frantic, manic end of the psych spectrum whilst Rennes’ Sudden Death Of Stars were first on stage in daylight in the Furnace (a criminally early slot for a band this good) and wowed the lucky souls who’d made time for them with their sitar-infused, tambourine-heavy output.

Local quartet Strange Collective were next up at the Blade Factory, with their guitarist having just high-tailed it over from a wedding. Bringing to mind the Beta Band at times they plough a nicely fuzzed-up furrow when they get into their stride. Traams were then briefly witnessed back at the Furnace, leading to one of the weekend’s regrets that we’d not seen more of their thrillingly intense 30 minutes. By now most people had made it out of bed so upon heading back round the corner it was only possible to take in the fact that Cantaloupe had attracted a substantially larger crowd than saw them at Threadfest in May so things look to be going well for them. Islet rounded off the pre-dinner session for us back in the Camp (Nueva Costa were unfortunately a bit too weedy for us and a great amount of the other punters it seemed). Starting off by wandering through the crowd with handheld glockenspiels it was clear that the bigger venue afforded them the scope their ideas required to a better degree than witnessed at Long Division in the middle of the month.

Post-scoff our first stop was back at the Blade Factory but Cheval Sombre came across as being rather too much low-key acoustica for the moment so the visit was brief. Likewise Orval Carlos Sibelius, deemed “too Britpop” by Mr. Allen, got little of our attention in the same hall a couple of hours later. Far more up our street in the same space was Theo Verney, who can pretty fairly be hailed as a UK Ty Segall. As expected after seeing the band’s Long Division performance (albeit with I think a different bassist) they were ideally suited to the smaller and far more intimate confines of the Blade Factory, inspiring crowd surfing and general energetic movement amongst the front few rows of the audience. Big things should deservedly come the band’s way. September Girls were the final act we took an interest in at the Blade Factory but again we were at the tail end and so could see no more than the tops of their heads. Sound-wise though they were as expected from multiple listens to Cursing The Sea and far better than the moronic “Calendar Girls” comment made by some passing fool.

The larger two halls panned out for us largely as one LOUD and one quiet for the nighttime sessions. The Furnace hosted returnees The Lucid Dream whose thundering crescendo of sound & strobes provided one of the undoubted highlights of the two days but then things calmed right down with the harmonious sounds of Grumbling Fur, a solo-filled but rather straightforward set from Sleepy Sun who were hard to hear at the rear of the hall and were not the same exciting prospect as when last seen in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. Quilt, however, with their balance of male & female vocals were another highlight in a night that produced a few of those. Their light undimmed after a month on the road in Europe they were another oddly under-viewed act but pulled off a deeply affecting performance. Closing out our involvement with the Furnace came Woods, whose set featured all the songs you could have hoped for from Bend Beyond as well as a good dollop from current album With Light And With Love and their back catalogue.

The Camp therefore was clearly then the place to be if you wanted to endanger your hearing tonight. Lay Llamas enjoyed some of the best visuals of the day as their set wove, Live At Pompeii-like, from mesmerising to cacophonous. The backdrop technology failed for a short period during Anthroprophh’s set but by this point it was all about your ears as the pounding backbeat and extreme solos took on a physical form to churn your guts. Teeth Of The Sea took things further off down the track towards techno whilst simultaneously making excellent use of brass and maintaining the guitar solo quotient on a classic flying v. By this time the projections were of quite a menacing nature and the sound was flattening out the heads on the pints.

Gnod, augmented by Dave W. of White Hills, added further mayhem & madness to the already volume-laden atmosphere. Like watching Kim Fowley fronting space rock escapees from an off-world cult, the disparate Mancunian bunch elevated things to a whole new level of freakery. Who knows what they actually played – such things as discernible songs were no longer important by this point.

White Hills themselves were the final act of the night for me (so I’ve not a clue about the kerfuffle that apparently went off around the Goat show) and they topped off the entire event to perfection. Energetic, appreciative of the audience, waffle-free and fantastically overdriven the trio thrashed and fuzzed their way through to 01:30 as if their lives depended on it. The crowd were far to polite at the end to clamour for further songs (aware maybe for a change of event time constraints) but if any act that appeared here during the day’s 14 hours deserved an encore it was these guys. 

Our full set of photographs from this year's event can be viewed on Flickr.

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