I think the last eight months have shown that I didn’t know as much as I thought, and my eyes have certainly opened further in regards to a few aspects. The main one being the new scene, which wrongfully, I’d always spoken derogatively of, stating that nothing great comes out anymore, no idols or ideals and that it’s nothing like anything before the mid 90s. That statement still holds challenge, but what remains is a core of diehard fans and bands that create fantastic, electrifying music, displaying vast amounts of talent that keep rock n roll alive. Many have the same ideals as myself, which has been mind blowing at times to meet these people, sharing common thoughts and opinions, sometimes not always being about the gig in question. It’s just unfortunate that we are in a time when it becomes more difficult to get that message across to an ever growing materialistic, soulless world.My Mudkiss adventure has led to so much gratification in terms of the music I’ve listened to, the bands/artists I’ve met and the situations I’ve found myself in that have become pivotal and influential this year. The highlights include interviewing Rick Buckler from The Jam, a true gent and legend of the mod scene. Reviewing and interviewing Ian McNabb of The Icicle Works fame, whose lyrics and music have suddenly become a mantra in my approach to life. That was a great experience, especially after our conversation about The Doors, which led him to sing a rendition of ‘Light My Fire’ at his performance later that night, a masterclass in acoustic guitar. Interviewing the man behind the artwork for Oasis and The Verve was a pleasure, namely Brian Cannon of Microdot Creative. Being at the ‘Justice Tonight’ campaign to see Mick Jones perform Clash songs for the first time in twenty years, as well as seeing the first live performance in fifteen years of Ian Brown and John Squire of The Stone Roses at the same show, ground breaking stuff. That has enabled me to be able to say “I was there when…”, something that is very difficult and rare to say within music in these crazy times. Plus, I managed to get tickets for next year’s reunion show, which will probably be the most anticipated gig in the UK’s history, perhaps I’ll do a review on that too. In today’s mainstream, one of my favourite rock bands is Kings of Leon and being able to review that show with 50,000 screaming fans was also a unique accomplishment. Finally, more fundamentally, was being in Paris for the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, watching the remaining Doors perform that night and being able to write about the most influential band and front man in my life. That was something I’d always wanted to do, and it was a real honour!! On the back of that, the two articles I wrote have been shared amongst Doors related websites.
There have been several highlights that involve the lesser known bands and it is at that level where you really feel that you can make a difference, helping someone get a bit further in their journey. I have grown to love the idea of watching gigs of relative unknowns and being totally captivated by what they’re about, knowing that you may have uncovered an absolute gem. Personal favourites have been The Suzukis and Paris Riots (who I’ve sadly just found out that their lead singer has left). Both bands I felt were the best of what I’d seen this year, truly great rock music. But they weren’t the only ones to entice me. I’ve found that my i-pod is now littered with the music I’ve discovered. Two bands that have come from across the Atlantic have really impressed; The Screaming Females (American) and Chad VanGaalen (Canadian). Both are very different genres but equally as talented. On one hand you have a female guitarist (Marissa Paternoster) who at times is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page she is that good, perhaps the most naturally gifted I’ve seen in the last twenty years. Then there’s Chad VanGaalen who has a more psychedelic approach, playing the fender strat in a way that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1960s San Francisco compilation.
So after this highly enjoyable year, the constant watching, listening and hanging around venues like a groupie at times with my trusty photographers, what are my personal top 5 songs in new music? This is not necessarily what’s been released this year, but what I’ve discovered from new bands in this new journalistic role. Here goes:
The Suzukis – ‘Personal Patrol’. This song is simply sublime, dark and edgy. The lyrics are monumental, all about the controls and big brother type society imposed on us today. It’s a true anthem, the guitar and pedal work just gives the tune that special edge, making it the most captivating song I’ve heard all year.
Paris Riots – ‘Wrecking Ball’. Excellent, high tempo, rock n roll guitar riff throughout, matched by the lyrics and rock voice of Toby Connor that adds a powerful forcefulness to the whole song.
Screaming Females – ‘Wild’. As mentioned before, Marissa Paternoster’s guitar is probably the most creative and exceptional talent I’ve heard in the past twenty years or so. This fun loving, care free and off the cuff simple tune just has her authority stamped all over it.
Chad VanGaalen – ‘Peace on the Rise’ – I’ve already highlighted Chad VanGaalen’s hypnotic and psychedelic attributes. This song is taken from the recent ‘Diaper Island’ album, taking you back to a world now been and gone, completely losing your sense of awareness as if this song is the drug itself that expands your own conscious.
Nerina Pallot – ‘Put Your Hands Up’ – The enchanting voice of Nerina Pallot is my next choice, putting to shame several commercialised female artists who have been manufactured, unlike Pallot. She has a voice that rivals anything perceived as being the best today and writes her own music, coming direct from the heart. This song in particular is quite bouncy and jolly with some intricate guitar work to give a bit of weight to the sound. It’s a song that becomes quite addictive and has that ability to pick you up and wash away any troubles.
On top of all the new bands/artists I’ve reviewed, a special mention goes out to Ian McNabb and the full album that he collaborated with Crazy Horse, ‘Head Like a Rock’. The album is probably unheard of by most but it is one of the best lyrical albums I’ve ever heard, all about moving forward, believing in yourself, doing what you want to do. It really is one that strikes a chord at the heart of everyone who has a sensitive soul. Not only that, it is filled with rock n roll heavy riffs that’ll have you air guitaring in no time.
One thing that I still can’t quite grasp is how many of these dynamic bands don’t get the attention and airplay they fully deserve. It appears that it all boils down to money as usual. The attention is fully on the pop culture, and the heritage of rock music is slowly eroding, becoming an underground phenomenon, but that’s where venues, promoters, management and fanzines like Mudkiss come in, fighting to provide an outlet that lets the music fan know all is not lost by working hard to keep it alive and informative, and it is testament to be part of such a philosophy.
Looking forward to 2012, starting my first calendar year at Mudkiss, I’ll be very much itching to get back into it after a much needed break, meeting new bands, discovering new music, and maybe meet some legends along the way, whilst living the rock n roll dream. 2012 will hopefully see the published version of my book that I’ve been working on for eighteen months now, based on a true story around when I went to Las Vegas with three friends, titled, ‘Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas.’ so keep an eye out for more information on that. Here’s to 2012, may it build on the success of 2011.
I’d like to thank the following for inviting me to interview and review, each one was remarkable in their own way; Nerina Pallot, Sam Pickett, Twin Atlantic and Ritchie Carr from Carsons Bar in Middleton. I’d also like to thank the following for inviting me to review their gigs All the Young, 12 Dirty Bullets, Lisbon Manchester, The Rainband, The Rubys, The Last Party, Hyde & Beast and of course the organisers of Cloud 9 Festival.
Also, my reviews and interviews wouldn’t be half as good if it wasn’t for the two photographers I’ve drafted in to help me out at gigs, Matt Johnston and James Butterworth – massive thanks for your help and input, both are hugely talented individuals with a keen eye for capturing that moment that depicts rock n roll.
Finally, I’d like to thank all that contribute for Mudkiss and make it what it is, not least of all Melanie Smith, who has also accompanied me to a couple of gigs. Her experience and advice has been invaluable. It all started with a photograph and guyliner in Newton Le Willows with Susie Q – right place, right time, reasons for seasons!!!
Full list of my reviews, interviews and features below.