Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Beard 5


Beard 5
Originally uploaded by Stew of the Beard.
Out now! Featuring an in depth chat with maverick pop's greatest Beard, Robert Wyatt and a rare interview with the first lady of English folk, Shirley Collins.
Beyond that, we have Devendra Banhart talking of dolphins and fighting, cosmic Aberdonians Hookers Green No1, and indie glamourpusses The Pipettes! Oh, and the rebirth of Bis with Data Panik! And folk-rockers Foxface! And pictures and beards from the Green Man Festival! And so much more!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Beard Presents...............

Beard magazine presents a Christmas Gift To You

Beard, the award winning Glasgow based music and arts zine, in association with Levis Antidote, is hosting a free day of live music and fanzine making at Glasgow’s Mono bar on Sunday 11 December.

Dedicated to music, arts and facial hair, Beard was awarded Best Music Fanzine at the EMAP Fanzine Awards 2005. The judges said: "Stood out like a beacon. It has loads of great ideas, illustrations and an ingenious use of language. And very funny indeed"

Headlining the show are Beard favourites Lucky Luke. An eventful year has seen these Glasgow folk-rockers release their debut album Patrick The Survivor (Invada) to great acclaim, support Teenage Fanclub on their UK tour, and record a session for BBC6music. In the new year, they will travel to Texas as one of the Scottish acts selected to play the prestigious South By South West music conference.

Cosmic Aberdonians Hookers Green No1 make a rare Glasgow appearance, promising a carnival of sound and vision. A heady brew of psychedelic art rock, electronica and big band jazz, debut album On How The Illustrious Captain Moon Won The War For Us (Snowstorm Records) has been an underground word of mouth hit since its release earlier this year.

Country-fried power-popsters Skeleton Bob complete the line up. Think Evan Dando, Jonathan Richman and Uncle Tupelo and smile.

During the day, we’ll be holding a fanzine workshop. The idea is for everyone to get together and produce a cut ‘n paste fanzine on the day. Everyone’s pages will be gathered up and collated, so we can dash off to the copy shop and have a finished zine to hand out at the end of the night. Beard contributors will set the ball rolling with a discussion, before we let everyone loose on the paper, scissors, glue, glitter and pens and typewriters.

In addition to all this we’ll have a beardy pub quiz and the infamous Beard DJs spinning a wonderful and perverse range of tunes.

The event comes ahead of the mid-December release of Beard #5. It’s been a long time coming, but we hope you’ll find it worth the wait as we have a very rare interview with the first lady of English folk Shirley Collins and an in depth chat with bearded pop maverick Robert Wyatt. In addition to that we have features on freaky folk dude Devendra Banhart, Brighton girl group The Pipettes, Data Panik, the new incarnation of Glasgow legends Bis, Hookers Green No1, and the frisky Foxface. And that’s not to mention a plethora of reviews, rants and our wondrous new strip, Beatnik Whaling Comix.

For more information contact:
beardmag@yahoo.co.uk

Notes:

From 3pm until midnight on Sunday 11th July in Mono, King’s Court, Glasgow

Free entrance.

Beard online: http://beardmag.blogspot.com and www.myspace.com/beardmag

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Save the Fence Homegame!

It seems that Fife Council are planning to block the Fence Collective from holding the third Homegame festival in Anstruther next year after ONE person complained. You'd think the local cooncil would welcome an event that brought custom to local businesses and put Fife on the cultural map. Here's a message from Glasgow's Viva Stereo. Make sure you sign the petition folks!

Earlier this year we played The Fence Homegame in a wee Fishing village of Anstruther in Fife, Scotland. We opened the weekend's events (which was a great privilege) which also featured performances from James Yorkston, King Creosote, Pictish trail, Adem, Lone Pigeon, Aidan Smith and loads others.....
anyway it was a great weekend, very relaxed by the sea with loads happening and everyone had fun including the local businesses who made a fortune from the festival go-ers. Unfortunately one local person, out of the whole place complained...and this has meant the festival might not go ahead next year which would be a shame.
Anyway,we would be very grateful if you could take one minute of your time....and thats all it would take...to sign the petition to try and prove to the council the event should be staged again next year. We realise this will mean nothing to 99.9% of you would we would appreciate it :)


http://www.petitiononline.com/homegame/petition.html

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cat Power - The Greatest



Not that we need any excuse to post a picture of Chan Marshall, but in case you haven't heard, a new Cat Power album will be with us in January. It's called The Greatest and you can listen to the title track here. Absolutely gorgeous it is too. The opening piano line reminds me a little of Neil Young's Philadelphia, but then it goes into a lush Bobbie Gentry style country soul ballad, all plaintive strings, wisps of tremelo guitar and Dusty in Memphis backing vocals. Oh man! Can't wait to hear the whole album.

Ten Beardy Belters

Here's a little something I did for the Pinup Nights zine...

Ten Beardy Belters

Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom (Ryko, 1974)
In which pop’s greatest beard and most touching singer embarks on a new life, as an artist and human being, with wife and collaborator Alfie. Left paralysed from the waist down after falling out of a window at a party, Wyatt, one of rock’s most inventive drummers in Soft Machine, was forced to rethink his approach. Recorded with British jazz rock luminaries, Rock Bottom is a strange and beautiful work, at turns funny, perplexing and deeply moving. In the peerless Sea Song Wyatt imagines his lover as strange sea-creature, before wondering how to reconcile such romantic fantasies with the reality of playing “at being human for while”. Elsewhere, Ivor Cutler plays his harmonium and talks of moles. What’s not to love?

Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue (Caribou, 1977)
As Brian Wilson retreated into his depression it was left to his brothers Carl and Dennis to lead the Beach Boys. Dennis’s songs were often the high points of the band’s 70s albums, but this is his flawed masterpiece. The cover shot of a weathered, shaggily bearded Dennis against a golden California sunset gives a good indication of the album’s bittersweet mood. It’ s super slick LA pop-rock, Jim, but not as we know it. The opening River Song is gloriously affirmative, sounding like a less opiated Spiritualized, all gospel choirs and grandiose piano and guitar. Then there are the ballads, where lush orchestral bombast will drop out, leaving Dennis alone at the piano, his voice ravaged and aching, vulnerable to the point of desperation. Until it gets a proper reissue, the internet is your best bet for getting hold of this remarkable album.

The Band – The Band (Columbia, 1969)
One band, so many whiskers. Going beyond the beardy weirdiness of the debut Music From The Big Pink to tap into a rich seam of American history, The Band sing of Civil War veterans, farmers hoping for a good harvest and old sea dogs called Willie. Gotta be a few beards in there. Musically, they incorporate such beard friendly genres and country, bluegrass, Appalachia and Dixie jazz. How more beard could this be? The answer is none, none more beard.

The Congos – Heart Of The Congos (Blood & Fire, 1977)
Quite possibly Lee Perry’s greatest production, Heart Of The Congos is roots reggae at its most transcendent. Cedric Myton’s sublime falsetto and Roydell’s tenor float over astonishing dubbed out soundscapes, all tribal rhythms, percolating guitar and organ and otherworldly effects that range from the uncanny (percussion that sounds like creaking ropes and chains) to the absurd (Perry’s trademark moo cow). A beard and dread sporting masterpiece.

Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (Hannibal, 1968)
Along with Paul Giovanni’s Wickerman soundtrack, there is no finer album for growing a beard and dancing naked with wood sprites to than ISB’s acid folk classic. Combing folk with Indian classical, medieval music and whatever bonkers ideas came into their heads, this is a record of vision and wide-eyed charm, a key influence on the likes of Devendra Banhart and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Master & Everyone (Drag City 2003)
Steve Gullick’s masterful cover short captures the Bonnie Prince, aka Will Oldham at his beardiest, looking like some mystic who’s just emerged from the wilderness. But far from being the ravings of a wild man this is Oldham’s most considered album. One of those rare albums that sustains a mood for its entirety, M&E is beautifully spare and understated, recalling the English folk of Shirley Collins and Nick Drake as much as the lo-fi Americana that made Oldham’s name. Ruminating on the give and take of relationships, Oldham longs to be loved as he is in ‘Wolf Among Wolves’, beard and all.

My Morning Jacket – At Dawn (Darla 2001)
Fuck Kings Of Leon; when it comes to modern day Southern rock (and quality beards) the Jacket are the reigning monarchs. Place Neil Young, Lynnyrd Skynnyrd and the Flaming Lips at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, ply them with Wild Turkey and good weed, and they might come up with something like At Dawn. From the evocative title track, through the star-kissed revery of Bermuda Higway and country pop of …MMJ ride a wave of reverb and soar into the stratosphere.

Willie Nelson – Shotgun Willie (Atlantic 1973)
It’s hard to believe but Willie Nelson was once a clean shaven Nashville crooner and songwriter for hire. But then he moved to Austin, Texas, grew his hair and smoked a bunch of weed, becoming a maverick country superstar in the process. Country rock has rarely sounded as loose and as funky as on the title track and the hit Whiskey River, while on ballads like Not For You, Willie’s vocals are immaculately phrased, his guitar playing full of jazzy inflections.

Comets On Fire – Blue Cathedral (Sub Pop 2004)
A band of deranged rock n roll Dr Frankensteins, reanimating the twisted remains of 70s prog and heavy rock, Comets have the power to make your beards stand on end. Running their instruments through archaic effects and echo boxes, these hairy freaks create a sound akin to Sonic Youth jamming with the wacked out Pink Floyd of Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother. With a bit of MC5 bluster and skronk thrown in for good measure. Guitars flail and burn, drums pound and feedback dances dervish like into the heavens. Out of the melee monstrous riffs emerge, leavened by unexpectedly pretty acoustic guitar and organ flourishes. Incandescent and interstellar: Comets On Fire more than live up to their name.


Moondog – Viking Of Sixth Avenue (Honest Jon’s, 2005)
Moondog aka Louis Hardin was a blind, homeless composer of incredible scope. He would perform on the street and in concert halls and is estimated to have written over 300 madrigals, scores for brass and string orchestras, organ and piano pieces and over 80 symphonies. What a guy and what a beard! This wonderful new compilation is the perfect introduction to his odd and beautiful world.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Uh oh, Stew's being let loose on the decks...



That's right, I'm DJ-ing between bands at Glasgow's rowdiest indie night on Friday. What have they let themselves in for?

Monday, October 24, 2005

A few whiskers...

Sorry for the lack of updates folks. It's been a crazy few weeks what with all my working and gig going. In the past fornight I've seen Mogwai, Trout and Arab Strap at Mono's wonderful John Peel Night, the astonishing Deerhoof, Animal Collective*, the amazing Afrirampo and Belle & Sebastian (more on whom later) not to mention the Instal festival. Phew! Half written reviews of some of those are in my notebook, but I'll hold on to them until the next issue if that's alright. We're looking at end of Nov for the launch of Beard 5. It'll be worth the wait, with a double whammy of legends...

In the meantime I'll endeavour to bring you the odd review, ramble, interesting link and Beard news.

First up, I'm going to be a guest DJ at Pinup Nights at the Woodside Social, Glasgow on Friday November 4. I'll also have a wee article in the Pinups zine that gets handed out on the night as well. More info as it comes.

Here's an interview I did for Ideas Factory with Gaelic singer and actress Alyth McCormack on the challenges of performing in different languages.

Beard #4 has received a nice review on Live Journal. Hurrah! Scroll down to Oct 4 for the skinny, as they say.

Current listening: Yesterday's Freakzone on BBC6music. It's their Harvest festival, celebrating the great psych/prog/folk/artrock/punk imprint. We've had Shirley and Dolly Collins, Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd (Meddle, nice), Kevin Ayers, Wire, The Saints and, a new discovery for me, Edgar Broughton Band. They're nuts, like a daft hard rock version of Comets On Fire. Me likes. Any more information on these dudes would be most welcome. *Update. Just heard Sadistic Micah Band, a Japanese combo feted by Bowie and Roxy apparently. Ace female fronted noisy Japanese glam pop. Wow!

Ok, that's all for now folks.

*Thanks to Susie for the Animal Collective pics.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Franz on demand!



Not posting for a month hasn't improved my puns any, has it? As promised, here are my thoughts on the new Franz.

Franz Ferdinand
You Can Have It So Much Better

(Domino)

Alex Kapranos’s eyes glint as he tilts his head back and flashes those vampiric fangs. There’s something of the night about him. All he’s missing is the cape.

That mischievous, amoral persona is all over You Could Have It So Much Better. Check those titles: The Fallen, Evil And A Heathen, I’m Your Villain! “Your famous friend, well I blew him before ya,” he purrs in Do You Want To?

Franz’s second album opens with a killer hat-trick. The Fallen opens with a lightly frazzled synth drone over which guitars and drums break out with the muscular swing of a bantam weight boxer. The song reaches its climax in a dense cacophony of layered and echoed vocals and messy garage guitar. Super fantastich!

You’ll know Do You Want To? of course, the shameless tart of a lead off single. It’s as perfect a pop moment as any this year, jam packed with hooks and arch humour. Can you imagine any of their imitators throwing themselves so gleefully into the fabulously tacky “doo doo doo” refrain? Rather than whinge about the superficiality of fame, Franz head straight for champers and lachsfisch and have a ball. “Your famous friend, well I blew him before ya,” winks Kapranos, licking his vampiric fangs.

Galloping drums and a swashbuckling guitar announce the start of This Boy. A deadpan “yeah” and the band switch to a jagged swagger, Kapranos’s distorted falsetto vocals adding a sleazy, creepy edge to it all.

There’s a change of tack after this with the Sparks go Merseybeat balladry of Walk Away. Any song with that title raises the spectre of Cast’s unfathomably banal plodfest, but happily Franz’s effort is a classier affair, its rinky dink air of sophistication and melancholy conjuring images of Sofia Loren or Steve McQueen skiing in the Alps, decadent ballrooms and diamond necklaces. It’s not quite as tender as the music would suggest however – Kapranos seems to relish leaving someone behind.

It’s only on Eleanor Put Your Boots On that Kapranos lets his Dr Hyde mask slip and reveals his heart. “Climb to the statue with your dictionary,” Kapranos urges of his brainiac amour. With wobbly tremolo guitar and a Beatley piano part that sounds as if it was recorded in the back of small town hall it’s really rather lovely.

The rest of the album is enjoyable, but only ‘I’m Your Villain’ really stands out. You can hear the band having real fun with their three songs in one formula here. It begins with a stand-off on the dancefloor before racing into a Pulp rave up, winding up with a fantastically cheesy coda that take Status Quo down to the disco.

So this might not be the white crunk masterpiece of Kanye West’s dreams, it’s not radically different to their debut, but frankly my chickadee, I couldn’t give a fuck. I’m having too much fun.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Wot? No posts for a month? I know, I know...but I do have a day job now y'know. I'm on the individual learning accounts helpline for the time being. And today I had an interview at the Metro for a listing job. Fingers crossed.
So September flew by in a whirlwind of work, gigs and journalistic unproductivity. Fear not, for Beard shall return soon, complete with some marvellous interviews and a new look.

I shall update this thread later this evening with some thoughts on the new Franz Ferdinand LP.

In the meantime I wish to say that Balls of Steel is quite possibly the worst tv programme ever made. It's jaw-droppingly, brain-meltingly witless and vile. Sitting at home with a cold on Friday night I caught the beginning and like a rubber necker I could barely take my eyes of the whole ghastly spectacle. This is the nadir of the prank show, Candid Camera with all the invention and playful oddness siphoned out, its brains replaced with lager and curry flavoured puke. Basically some annoying media cunts find ordinary punters or celebs and act like, well, cunts towards them, thus proving they have Balls Of Steel. One of the cunts' schtick is to rummage in her handbag while telling a z-list celeb she has a present for him before lifting her hand out, middle finger raised. "You're a horrible woman" says David Furnish with some justification. Pissed up lads just back from the pub guffaw. At least that's the idea. Why oh why must Channel 4 show this crud? It makes The Girly Show look witty amd sophisticated. Yes, it's that bad.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Metal Weekend

Dear Beardies,

It's the weekend. Time to awaken your sybaritic senses and forget the week that has passed. I recommend starting the weekend's proceedings with this bracing little album full of sea shanties:



Well, I'm going to, dammit.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mogwai & The Blitzkrieg Bop!

Mogwai, ABC, Glasgow

A lot is made of Mogwai’s live shows being really loud, but what’s really incredible is how they manage to create some of the world’s most emotive music despite the abstinence from lyrical intimations and penchant for metal brutality. Cheeky grins, cheeky song titles and wide-o interviews aside, Mogwai are as serious as your life. They finish with Like Herod: of course you’re fucking terrified! You know it’s coming, you expect that explosion, but you just can’t prepare for such an incredible noise, such evil wailings from a place you don’t want to end up in. Bang! It’s as good as live music gets, and as close to genuine terror as a guitar song can get you.
Before that, though, you had bliss, ecstasy and pure joy from a 3-chord progression drawn out over some noisy guitar swathes over a 20-minute dance. Astounding control of rippling noise appropriated from Growing’s best Kevin Shields collaboration, building and evoking like it has no right to; it kicks as jetplane metal, fades out like Tortoise dub, sparkles and just dances to the short film of a beautiful life. Like Herod’s ying, Mogwai Fear Satan is just wonderful.
Before that, we had plenty of fun: 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong’s tragic happiness, Helicon 2’s majestic clarity and Ratts Of The Capital’s triumphant menace; harder, faster new songs indicating a shift from the wishy-washyness of Happy Songs For Happy People and lessons learned from contemporaries like Pelican or even Electrelane.
But what was before that? Well, life of sorts, all that genuine emotional stuff that Mogwai bring to a head. What does that make the ABC gig then? An end? Somehow, that makes sense. Live, Mogwai are like you’d want your death to be: dark, serious, wordless and emotional, but beautiful and ultimately worth it.
Gary Thom

Meanwhile, we'd like to bring this fine night to your attention. Some great bands and it's for a good cause! Hurrah!

BLITZKRIEG BOP - TUE AUG 30th

at Oran Mor, Byres Road, Glasgow 8pm-2am

Featuring live music from:

LUCKY LUKE

DATA PANIK (Formerly Bis)

THE BEAT TRAP (Supported Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser *cough* Chiefs)

THE NEEDLES (If they're good enough for Mick Jones hell they're good enough for us! )

ALSO DJs playing the usual punk/post-punk/ska tunes - the most fantastic DOUGIE of MOTHER AND THE ADDICTS will get you dancing like crazycats until 2.

TICKETS can be bought for a fiver at Oxfam Music, Avalanche and http://www.thebop.tk (site also has forum/list/links etc)
Band/Promoter*DJ/Flying Monkey; email us at thebop@hotmail.co.uk! x

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Free Songs of Astounding and True Beauty

To keep you occupied while we go off to Green Man this weekend our guest blogger Sean Michaels of Said The Gramophone fame has some tasty MP3s for you to chew on. See you next week with tales of hippies, cider and mud.

Okkervil River – For Real
A song full of such roaring life, covered in such black and flashing fur, that it’s hard to imagine it as a thing composed, the work of men in a room trying out parts and kicking at pedals. Okkervil River were a band of rustic mountain-men, Austin’s lonesome hermit poets, but here Will Robinson Sheff’s got teeth and a fever, he’s got claws, he’s got an electric guitar that shorts the lights. This is rock music for after you realise what you’ve done, or a song for running panicked through a field. It’s a track that requires a lantern – hold yours high.

Bishop Allen – Little Black Ache
Oh, the blues. The blues are so blue that sometimes they’re even black. And if we’re going to sing about the black-and-blues, not sing the blues but sing about them, - well, let’s make sure it’s a pop-song of modest majesty, of unabashed fun, of hip-hip-hooray. Bishop Allen are passing around Polaroids with The Kinks, Modest Mouse, The Shins; they’ve got mussed hair not from the stylist but from sleeping in; they’ve got a bathtub of tunes that could power a Volkswagen convertible. They’re from Brooklyn and they’re the best unsigned band in America.

Devin Davis – Iron Woman
If we bang the drums loud enough, the mics will clip. If we get a big enough choir, the roof will blow off. If we sing our hearts out, well then maybe we’ll explode. In some worlds, each of these would be bad things. Here, however, with only two minutes to run over a parade, with only two minutes to save Neutral Milk Hotel, The Flaming Lips and Ray Davies from an avalanche, well – it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Davis sings of “three ... weeks spent throwing matchsticks at the sun”, and I can imagine that, the matches thrown overhand into the sky. But I can imagine them, too, flaring into flame, fireworks, glad little explosions to accompany the electric guitar, the feedback, the maracas, the saxophones, the piano, Devin Davis’s fantastic Rube Goldberg machine.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Last night I went to see Richard Thompson in Edinburgh. He was fantastic. The nice thing about the Festival is that reviewers tend to be treated very well, so I got a great seat bang in the middle of the third row. My review will be up on the Fest music pages sometime on Friday afternoon, but in the meantime, you can read my Yo La Tengo review here!

In other news, some bloke has been pissing on Reagan's grave.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Sight To Behold

Better late than never, here's my Devendra Banhart live review!

Devendra Banhart
Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh

Tonight is all about Devendra and his sexy young folk chums. With his salt and pepper goatee and careworn hat, Sir Richard Bishop takes on the role of their cranky uncle. Taking a break from opium scented art-rockers Sun City Girls, Bishop has established himself as one of the leading experimental acoustic guitar players. But where Jack Rose is graceful and meditative, Bishop is spiky and mischievous. He has a light touch on the folk and blues numbers, but is unafraid to throw in Beefheartian dissonance, or cut loose on Indian and Arabic flavoured improvisations. Neither is Bishop an acoustic purist: he’ll crank up the volume and presence to add a woody percussive crunch to his more furious extrapolations, or conjure up dense layers of delay. Tonight, Uncle Rich showed the kids how to rock.

Espers
’ chamber folk has all the right elements - hushed vocals, crystalline guitar, a distant rumble of percussion, creeping organ – but it doesn’t quite convince. It’s all very pretty, but c’mon, captivate me! This is music so elegantly wrought it allows no room for blue notes or flinty edges. Much has been made of the olde worlde mysteriousness of their music, but like a PG cut of The Wickerman, there are only vague hints of dread here. There’s a much needed crescendo at the end, but it’s just not heavy enough. The cellist gamely grapples with her instrument, choking mangled notes from the neck, but the rest of the band seem reluctant to push the dial into the red. As Greg Weeks studiously adjusts the volume on his Farfisa I’m silently urging him to just turn it right up and fry us with waves of trebly minor chord fuzz. I want to see the percussionist batter his cymbals and the drummer pound his kit all the way to Stonehenge, but all we get is a mildly adventurous stroll off the beaten track.

So to our fuzzy faced prince. Devendra takes to the stage in a tartan waistcoat and tight flares, accompanied by his even hippier looking bandmates. Dubbed the Hairy Fairy Band, only the fresh faced drummer lacks a beard, although he straps on a green felt fake, which works itself loose as he plays. Nice try. The band stays in the background for the opening tunes, which include a gorgeous Spanish song from the new album, Cripple Crow. Come ‘This Beard Is Soibhann’, however, they’re stomping away like a hippy show band. Banhart clearly isn’t interested in being a serene, seated folkie tonight – he wants to take us to boogieville. He shuffles his feet, claps his hands, even does the chicken dance. Sho’ nuff, the boy’s got rhythm. It’s all very entertaining, but after a while nagging doubts creep in. New songs like ‘I Feel Just Like A Child’ are irresistible, but I could have done with more of Devendra on his own. It’s nice that Devendra lets his bandmates and a local singer-songwriter take centre stage, but when guitarist Noah Georgeson steps forward to do a cover of Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ I was checking my watch. I’m sure the cover was meant sincerely, but Georgeson’s hammy baritone – as ripe as brie on a sun bed - has an air of smugness to it. Happilly, towards the end the Hairy Fairy band put their boogie shoes away and provide unobtrusive accompaniment for two of Banhart’s finest songs. ‘Will Is My Friend’ might be stripped of its melancholy barroom piano tonight, but Banhart brings that sense of wonder to it nonetheless. ‘A Sight To Behold’ might not convey the same apocalyptic dread as on record, but it’s the one moment where Banhart truly unsettles the audience. Then there’s a scrumptious ‘At The Hop’, its lyrics amended to acknowledge the minor indie stooshie the song caused after being used in a – shock horror – cheese advert. “Won’t sell out again,” he coos, tongue half in cheek. Devendra is clearly preparing for stardom with his groovy new sound, but let’s hope he doesn’t forget what made him special in the first place.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Beard Files Vol 2

Some more stuff we couldn't fit in the current issue...


Elizabeth Anka Vajagic
Nostalgia / Pain EP
(Constellation)


Something of a stunning if bleak chanteuse, our Liz: the hair-raising Croatian’s long, dark lamentations are expressed in a haunting, unsettling divergence of deep, yawning resonance and blistering shrieks.

Vajagic’s intoxicating sonic contortions are entwined by members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Silver Mt Zion and Shalabi Effect: Michel Langevin’s percussion impels and propels Vajagic’s orgasmic death-throes; Fluffy Erskine’s whistling, ephemeral, bowed miscellany incites an evanescent dread; while Sam Shalabi’s benevolent guitars deliver exquisite shimmers of hope. Vajagic’s primal, rasping emissions circumscribe the thrilling ebb and climactic resolutions of long-form mourning and instrumental overtures.

The Nostalgia / Pain EP – excellent if harrowing value at over 30 minutes, and swaddled in utterly beautifully packaging – is the follow-up to Vajagic’s 2004 debut album. It resumes her unswerving, mesmeric passage through spacious noise and onerous improv: her custom-shattering, bleeding art is leaden as terror and bright as a pin.
Nicola Meighan

The Rogers Sisters
“Three Fingers”
(Too Pure)


In the midst of the great NYC indie-rock deluge of 2002/03, real-life sisters Jennifer and Laura Rogers, plus bass-slinging non-female, unrelated honorary “sister” Miyuki Furtado, were one of the few groups who managed to keep their collective head (and shoulders) above the ever-rising waterline. This was due largely to “Purely Evil”, a debut album which not only managed to ride the angular crest of the new New Wave of New Wave wave, but also, by virtue of it’s infectious unpretentiousness and righteous disregard for the vagaries of fashion, succeeded in showing up many of their competitors and contemporaries for the clueless, cripplingly hip style-mag photo-shoot extras that many of them undoubtedly were. Here was a group intent on bringing as much B-52’s as Gang of Four to the party, and managing to pull it off while sounding like they weren’t even trying. This stop-gap follow-up (it was originally released in the States as a 7-track EP, but has been expanded to 11 songs for the UK) sees the trio eschewing the ramshackle, lo-fi aesthetic of their first full-length for slicker production values courtesy of knob-twiddler Tim Barnes, but surprisingly the new sound dulls none of their spikiness, and indeed rather becomes the more confident and mature song-writing on display throughout. “The Secrets of Civilisation” finds room for a muted string arrangement, while “5 Months” sees them flirting with low-level electronica, and “Fantasies are Nice”, a blistering attack on the walking coma of aspirational avarice that constitutes much of modern life, boasts an ace blast of sax skronk. Why their label thought this excellent little record needed expansion remains something of a mystery; the French and Japanese-language versions “Fantasies…” and “45 Prayers” respectively positively reek of filler, though only a fool wouldn’t delight in the inclusion of their wonderful take on Capt. Beefheart’s “Zig-Zag Wanderer”. If, on their second album proper, the Sisters can reconcile the growing confidence and maturity of these songs to the sense of rambunctious playfulness that characterised their debut (and which, alas, is somewhat missing from this otherwise excellent set) then they really will become a major force to be reckoned with.
Ian MacBeth

Dead Fly Buchowski
Land Of The Rough
(Beggars Banquet)


Psychedelic blues-punk? Sounds promising. But sadly, Dead Fly Buchowski are about as psychedelic as a cup of Typhoo and as punk as Michael Howard. Land Of The Rough sits somewhere between the stadium grunge of Pearl Jam’s Vs and The Doors at their most flatulent. Roddy Campbell’s puffed chest growlin’ and wailin’ (one part Robert Plant to two parts Eddie Vedder) is amusing at first, but his continual roars of “whoa yeahhharrgh” soon sap the will to live. Straight ahead rockers like ‘Russian Doll’ and ‘Blackout’ are solid, but nowhere as heavy or sludgy as they need to be. When they attempt to do swirling and epic it all gets a bit Spinal Tap. There’s a song here called ‘Ground Nero’, about the sacking of Delphi. Need I say more?
Stewart Smith

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Palimpsest Festival

If you live down Cambridge way there's only one place to be this Saturday - The Palimpsest Festival. Organised by the good people at Harvest Time Recordings, this is an all day even of new music and outsider folk sounds it features Beard cover star Alasdair Roberts, Josephine Foster, Killa Mi And L'Au, Lionshare, Dan Merrill, Fuzzy Lights, UM and Djs including American Booze and Plan B's Frances May Morgan. There are even projections and a record stall. Wish I was there! It all takes place in All Saints Church, Jesus Lane, Cambridge and doors open at 2pm.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

World domination continues apace...

Well, kinda. The good people of Edinburgh can now buy Beard #4 in the excellent Analogue Books and Avalanche Records, Cockburn Street.

And they should be on sale in London and Manchester by the weekend...

In further Beard developments, I've now set up a flickr site, so everyone can have a look at lovely Beard photos. Not much on there at the moment, but it'll be particularly useful for festivals, gigs and behind the scenes scandal. And there's a link to Conn's far superior photos of course!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/beardmag/

We've also finally arrived on myspace, just as Lord Of All Evil Rupert Murdoch has taken it over. Oh well, it hasn't stopped me watching the Simpsons I suppose. www.myspace.com/beardmag

Nothing to do with Beard, other than the fact we're all huge Johnny Cash fans, but here's the trailer for Walk The Line, starring Joaqin Phoenix as The Man In Black. He's too swarthy for the skinny, speed freak young Cash, but he's got the facial tics. Film looks a bit cheesy though, and why do they have pale cover versions instead of the real thing on the soundtrack? Hmmm. I'll still go see it of course.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Save Calton Studios!

Legendary Edinburgh venue Calton Studios is threatened with closure following complaints about noise from the residents of yuppie flats erected less than six months ago. Having seen the likes of Damo Suzuki there, I'd be sad to see it go. A petition has been organised. Here's what the campaigners have to say:

"This is typical of the over development of Edinburgh by property developers
who seem to think it's fine to throw up a set of badly built small flats
next to nightclub without proper sound insulation, charge a fortune and then
expect the nightclub to close as a solution to their bad planning.
Calton Studios, or Studio 24 as it is now known is one of the best
'underground scene' venues in Scotland. Currently it is home to a lot of
bands and its most popular nights are the goth/metal institutions called
the Misssion and the Mission Jr (an under 18's version) which are both
hugely popular amonst the kids in black. More famously it is known as the
home of Pure, the famous and seminal techno club of the late eighties and
early nineties. Nirvana also played their back in the day."

Here's the petition. You know what to do folks!

In other news, I've been interviewed about Beard for Diskant!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Beard files vol 1

In the first of a series of outtakes from the new issue of Beard, here's my review of the new Fannies album.

Teenage Fanclub - Man Made (PeMa)

It’s all Nick Hornby’s fault. Teenage Fanclub remain one of our most cherished bands, but for some they can’t help but be tainted by association with the progenitor of bloke-lit. In his infuriatingly conservative 31 Songs Hornby pitches Suicide’s riveting serial killer epic ‘Frankie Teardrop’ against the Fannies’ sublime ‘Ain’t That Enough’. Being freaked out by the former’s blood-curdling screams and sleazy electro throb is fine when you’re an angry young man, he avers, but it’s something you grow out of. What he wants is a nice tune, chiming guitars and sweet harmonies. Those things the Fanclub have in abundance, but they deserve better than being lionised by the high priest of 50 quid bloke solipsism.
But I protest too much. Music isn’t about having to choose between “difficult” and “comforting”. And Teenage Fanclub, while not exactly radical, don’t fit so neatly into Hornby’s safe world of record collection rock. Collaborations with underground heroes like Jad Fair and John McEntire are not the stuff which dad rock dreams are made of. The Fanclub might make classic pop, but they’re not retro dullards. Man Made makes that point in vivid colours.
Some reviewers have sought to place the album’s sound somewhere between the lush classicism of Songs From Northern Britain and the fuzzy warmth of Grand Prix, but that only tells half the story. Mc Entire’s production is relatively spare, but each voice and instrument is deployed so deftly it sounds rich. Norman Blake’s ‘It’s All In My Mind’ may have a unforgettable Byrdsian melody but rather than jangle the clean guitars chug over an insistent floor tom beat that could almost be described as motorik. Almost. Towards the end, Raymond McGinlay returns from a trip to Joe Meek’s studio with a wobbly laser beam guitar solo. It’s not exactly Neu!, but it's ace, an instant Fannies classic.
Initially Love’s ‘Save’ sounds a little like REM’s ‘All The Way To Reno’, based as it is around a Tex-Mex flavoured chromatic chord sequence, but where the Athenians’ song sounded forced, the Fannie’s effort glides into a stomping chorus with apparent ease, given an elegent lift by John McCusker’s shimmering Philly soul violin.
REM come to mind once more in Blake’s ‘Cells’, a melancholy acoustic ballad that has a grace Stipe and co seem to have lost in their pointless bid to compete with stadium bores like U2.
It’s a perfect summer album of course. Stick this on your walkman and go for a walk in the park. Stroll along sun dappled gardens as ‘Fallen Leaves’ skips by on a shimmer of tremolo organ, offering crystalline kisses of surf guitar. Bug out to ‘Born Under A Bad Signs’ fidgety guitar spasms, McGinlay channelling the spirit of both J Mascis and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. And then there’s the gorgeous ‘Time Stops’, Gerry Love’s sweet vocals peeking over a bed of cotton candy guitar fuzz, while Frances McDonald bashes out a Northern Soul backbeat. There’s even a beautiful Jim O’Rourke style acoustic guitar break.
A wonderful return from Glasgow’s favourite pop uncles.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Beard #4 launch

To launch the new issue of the award winning Beard zine we’re hosting a free night of live music, fun and facial hair at Glasgow’s Mono bar on Monday July 11.

Dedicated to music, arts and facial hair, Beard was awarded Best Music Fanzine at the EMAP Fanzine Awards 2005. The judges said: "Stood out like a beacon. It has loads of great ideas, illustrations and an ingenious use of language. And very funny indeed"

Headlining the show are Beard favourites The Sky At Night. One of the finest young bands in Glasgow, TSAN combine the dreamy elegance of Galaxie 500 with a country tinged melancholy. Their self released album, Hope For Dummies, has been a word of mouth underground hit, and they’ve already supported the likes of Damon & Naomi and Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson.

Joining the party all the way from over the ocean: Atlanta, Georgia's indie-rock maestro Mack Messiah. Mack has been exploring the outer limits of the guitar-bass-drum paradigm and has promised something a bit special when he unveils his new backing band at this exclusive warm-up performance for his first full Scottish tour.

Fresh from wowing the crowds at Glasgow’s Tenement Fair, country-fried power-popsters Skeleton Bob complete the line up. Think Evan Dando, Jonathan Richman and Uncle Tupelo and smile.

Filling in the gaps will be a motley crew of Beard DJs, spinning a dazzling and perverse range of tunes. Expect anything from The Dirtbombs to Os Mutantes, MIA to Springsteen.

There will also be a chance to pick up the new issue of Beard, featuring cult artists from Scotland and beyond. Outsider legend Daniel Johnston tells us what inspires his heartbreaking songs, while fellow Texans …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead talk politics and bling.
We delve into the mythic truths of folk bard Alasdair Roberts, discuss David Lynch with Sons And Daughters, and meet Glasgow’s most literate new band, My Latest Novel. We jet off with International Airport and find electro-popsters Multiplies dreaming of dolphins.
All this and a plethora of reviews, rants, comic strips and whiskery nonsense.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The return of Singles Club

Single of the Week!

The Pipettes
ABC

(Transgressive Records)

The Pipettes know that it’s the little touches that make the difference. An indie-pop take on the 60s girl group aesthetic, everything about them is perfect: the polka-dot dresses, the backing band’s matching tank tops, the choreographed hand movements and dance routines. The songs are witty and finely crafted nuggets of beat-pop, the lyrics an post-riot girl take on the teen melodramas of their spiritual heroines. If the Shangri-Las had gone to Grange Hill they might have come up with something like ‘Judy’, in which the protagonist falls in with the local bad girl but soon learns to see through her. ‘ABC’ wags a finger (Pips gigs involve a great deal of finger wagging, but school marms they ain’t) at bookish boys who’ve forgotten to be men. Finally, there’s Simon Says, a cheeky ode to mild S&M. Apparently Stuart Murdoch has a girl group project on the go, but he’ll be hard pressed to match the Pipettes for sassy, saucy fun.

Non-Londoners can order the single from Transgressive Records

Basement Jaxx feat Lisa Kekaula
U Don’t Know Me
(XL)

Not as good as ‘Good Luck’, their previous collaboration with Bellrays belter Lisa Kekaula, but an entertaining slab of punky disco nonetheless, even if the chorus is half-inched from Goldfrapp’s ‘Strict Machine’ (which was half-inched from Donna Summer in the first place). Kekaula’s take-no-shit vocals stand up to the slightly too polite garage guitars and bloopy synths. The ‘JaxxHouz radio edit’ is superior to the slower original, jacking up the beat and adding plenty of laser beam noises to a typically dense track.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sons n Stripes

Thanks to Neil for keeping Beard blog alive this past month while I've been moving flat. I'm still not online at home, so Partick library has been my second office effectively. Beard 4 will be with you at the end of the month (honest!) and it's gonna blow your minds!
In the meantime, here are a couple of reviews of new albums out this week.

Sons and Daughters
The Repulsion Box
(Domino)


If David Lynch was to hold a ceilidh Sons and Daughters would be the perfect house band. This, the band’s full length debut, is a raw, energetic affair, propelled by rowdy rockabilly rhythms and bristling guitar. Adele Bethel lashes out at sleazes, cheats and killers in her marvellous Glaswegian snarl, conveying anger, mockery and hurt. Nick Cave and ‘80s roots-punks Gun Club are obvious reference points, but there are strong hints of Celtic folk in the windswept choruses of ‘Dance Me In’ and ‘Royally Used’. Dark, sinister and sexy, it’s as assured a debut as could be hoped for.

White Stripes
Get Behind Me Satan
(XL)


Elephant caught the White Stripes in their candy coloured pomp. It was their Big Rock Album, the behemoth that propelled them to headline slots and MTV Awards. As an album, however, it was a little unsatisfying, lacking the hunger or originality of their first three albums. And, man, was that squirrel song irritating. The sly references to the Jack ‘n Meg siblings or spouses debate were amusing enough, but ultimately disingenuous.
On Get Behind Me Satan the Stripes finally drop the brother and sister act and reveal themselves. In breaking their own rules they’ve produced something messier, weirder and far more engaging than Elephant. The disco-metal strut of Blue Orchid is atypical: this is largely an album of front porch strums, gospel-tinged piano and slapdash percussion.
There’s a newfound sense of mischief at work. When the spooky marimba led soiree of ‘Nurse’ is crashed by clatter of drums and distortion an illicit thrill races up the spine. It’s only the first of several noisy tricks Jack has up his sleeve. ‘Red Rain’ sees a fairground like toy piano melody morph into a ravaged blues riff, while the epic ‘Take Take Take’ has Jack’s piano fight it out with Meg’s timpani as he sings of chasing Rita Hayworth for an autograph, a clear reference to his newfound celebrity.
Hanging out with Beck seems to have put a spring in Jack’s step. ‘The Denial Twist’ is fresher and wittier than anything on the diminutive scientologist’s latest album, while ‘Doorbell’ is the Stripe’s most irresistible pop song since ‘Hotel Yorba’. Loretta Lynn’s influence looms over several tracks, notably the Appalachian knees up ‘Little Ghost’ and the closing ‘I Ain’t That Lonely Yet’. Reminiscent of Lynn’s beautiful ‘Miss Being Mrs’, itself a lament to lost love, it finds Jack alone and lovelorn at the piano, picking out a wistful gospel tinged melody.
They’ve said goodbye to the garage. Where the Stripes will go next is anyone’s guess.

Sons And Daughters will be back in Beard #4!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Competition corner!

MIA's fantastic Arular album has been kicking my ass with its cheeky chat and bouncing beats. Now you can declare your love for the album by winning a fantastic poster from us! Yes, we have a bunch of MIA album artwork posters and stickers to give away!

And that's not all! We also have album artwork posters of epic balladeers The National!

For a chance to win this top booty drop an email to beardmag@yahoo.co.uk, specifying which poster you'd be up for winning (you can go for both if you like). You'll be entered into the Beard tombola with the draw taking place at the end of next week! Huzzah!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Singles club

*Single of the week*
Electrelane – Bells/I Keep Losing Heart
(Too Pure)
One of the oddest uses of music on TV came last year in an episode of the OC, where beautiful Californians could be seen cavorting to the urgent sound of Electrelane’s On Parade. That was a surprise, let me tell you. Despite their flirtation with the glossy teen drama, Electrelane haven’t turned into the Killers. And thank goodness for that.
Bells begins in Neu’s Krautrock metropolis, simple piano chords slotting between the rhythm section’s elegent motorik pulse. Verity Susman’s magnificently haughty vocals lead us to the city limits as the groove builds until the break free onto the open road, pedal to the floor. Mia Clarke’s guitar revs and lurches while Susman pounds at her piano, like a conservatory musician possessed by the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis. It rocks.
A thoughtfully plucked banjo graces the start of I Keep Losing Heart. It’s soon joined by the full band and a choir. Electrelane of course worked with the choir on last year’s majestic The Valleys, using the grand swell of their voices to bring musical colour to a Siegfried Sassoon poem. Here, however, the choir is used sparingly, enunciating each word in staccato vamps and swelling crescendos. And the lyrics Susman has given them to sing are a little more playful than last time. Add to all this a parping trumpet and some elegiac saxophone. Inspired.
Download from www.toopure.com

Thee Moths – Ppep EP (Pet Piranha)
A Scottish underground legend, Alex Botten came to my attention on the Jockrock message board by berating various ladrockers for their petty bitchiness and small minded attitudes. The fact these morons would sniff at his “music” (their inverted commas, not mine) only made me want to investigate further. The recent Folk EP was his most experimental yet, mixing folk songs with field recordings and laptop noise. This EP incorporates those elements into Botten’s melodic lo-fi fuzzpop with charming results. Having recently relocated to Sussex, Botten begins the EP by raising two fingers to two fingers to his hometown in Dundee Is A Smothering Darkness where a pretty acoustic song emerges from the lo-fi murk. Is he invoking his escape to the bright lights of Brighton? Who knows? It’s damn good all the same. The Bright Sun is ruptures wispy female vocals with digital flatulence while The Sounds Are There is a simple acoustic ditty put through a heavy rinse cycle. Gregorian hums and bird song flutter into the mix as it segues into the catchy Sebadoh pop of Close The Blinds. Yet even that song is sabotaged by some mischievous pitch bending. In the closing Are Your Feet Tangled Up In Roots? the machines take over completely, submerging voices and loping beats in a swamp of glitch and interference. Another great wee EP from Thee Moths.
Out soon??? www.petpiranha.com


Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies – Ores
(Fierce Panda)
“Please give them the cuttlefish…there are words inside my oesophagus!” Andrew Mears barks over careening guitars. Now that’s a lyric. It’s a safe bet that any band who comes up with stuff like that won’t sound like the Stereophonics and Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies don’t disappoint. Following in the footsteps of At The Drive In this Oxford quartet positively relish in tearing up the post-hardcore rule book, then pasting it together with pages plucked randomly from the rock history books. The result is a confounding yet tightly controlled four minutes of noise. Ores trashes into life amidst the cuttlefish before a few furious handclaps take us into a few bars of proggy noodling. Then we get a slower, moodier bit before the song settles into a melodic chorus underpinned by rumbling bass and stabbing guitars. From out of nowhere, a fuzzy synth bassline crashes the party, only to be ejected by guitar wielding bouncers.
It’s as if they’re involved in a game of one-upmanship with Yourcodenameis:milo as to how many different bits they can pack into one song. And for now, Youthmovie are on top.
Out April 25th

Tigs – And Again (Red ROAR)
Solid stab of indie rock, distinguished by cool and coquettish Chrissie Hynde style vocals. But unless they’re covering John Cage’s 4’33 this 7” could do with a b-side.
Worth checking out live if you’re in London.
Out now. www.tigofwar.com

Monday, April 18, 2005

Distro update

A new batch of Beards are in Rough Trade Covent Garden for all you Londoners to peruse.
Meanwhile I've also set up distro deals with All That Glitters from Nottingham and Ricochet from Brighton.

Meanwhile the good people from the award nominated Vanity Project zine have been saying very nice things about Beard #3 over at their Hobotread blog.

Picked up a whole bunch of cool zines in London over the weekend. Reviews and an account of my brief sojourn to the Smoke to follow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Singles Club

At long last, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…Beard reviews the week’s new singles. Or at least the ones we were sent. All these are available to buy now! The comments option has now been enabled, so feel free to add your tuppence worth folks. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring you our web exclusive singles roundup most weeks, along with the odd album review. That’s if I’m not lynched outside the 13th Note by an angry mob of Dead Fly Buchowski fans…

Dead Fly Buchowski - Russian Doll (Beggars Banquet)
Apologies to Griel Marcus, but what is this shit? According to the NME Glasgow’s Dead Fly Buchowski are a psychedelic blues rock band. Psychedelic? Er, how? There is nothing mind expanding or synapse frazzling about DFB’s lumbering 70s rawk. Russian Doll is a dreary, watered down Kyuss, lacking both the sand-blasted power and stoner groove of Josh Homme’s old desert unit. Granted, Roddy Campbell has a powerful voice, but when you sound like the mush-mouthed bloke from Kings Of Leon impersonating Robert Plant, that’s maybe not such a good thing.
At least it’s more fun than Overcast, a would-be epic blues number that sees rock god Campbell surveying the open plains and singing “Down in the valley…” Otis Redding it ain’t.
But wait until you hear the foot-gnawingly earnest ballad One Of These Days. Or shall I save you the trouble? Over strummed guitars filched from Led Zep’s vastly superior Tangerine, Campbell puffs out his chest and does his best impression of Tenacious D’s Jack Black. This is the sort of song some old cock rockers in leather waistcoats and tight jeans would do perched on stools as part of their acoustic spot. It’s that clich├ęd and naff. Yet they’re the NME’s new favourite Glasgow band and have been signed to Beggars. The world’s gone mad!


YOURCODENAMEIS:MILO – 17
(Fiction)
Pretty decent post-At The Drive In rock, its discordant twists streamlined into an anthemic whole by producers Flood and Rich Costey. Mercifully free of emo whininess or shrill Muse bombast, this is pile-drivingly efficient stuff, cramming riffs both spiky and sludgy into its three minutes. On record it’s not quite raw or savage enough, but live, I’m sure this song would kick my ass.

*Single of the Week*
Field Music – Shorter Shorter
(Memphis Industries)
Ah, this is more like it. From the label that brought you the candy-coloured fun riot that is the Go! Team, Field Music are brothers David and Peter Brewis and Andrew Moore. Shorter Shorter is some sweet, sweet chamber pop, recalling the lighter moments of Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Jaunty strings frollick, bright guitars hop and leap, and Andrew Moore trills in a high, slightly fruity voice reminiscent of Spark’s Russel Mael and the Raspberries’ Eric Carmen. Butterflies flutter, birds sing and for a few minutes all is right with the world. The b-sides are a pair of elegantly crafted miniatures. With its pitter-patter of brushed drums and ripples of acoustic guitar Trying To Sit Out recalls the Shins, while the charming Breakfast Song skips along on dampened bass strings that bounce with Macca like good cheer. The runaway winner of Beard’s first ever single of the week. More please!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Fannying about

Teenage Fanclub - Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow

In the polite, cosy surroundings of the Mitchell Theatre Norman Blake makes a rock ‘n roll gesture of goodwill.
“If you’re good, Francis will throw you his sticks later.”
“You can throw your stick up me anytime honey!” squawks a loud Glaswegian voice.
‘Chell and her pal Julie are having a rare old time, defying the no dancing in the aisles rule and cheering on their favourite band. It’s a harmless bit of mischief, proving that there can be life amongst a seated audience.
Mildly bemused, Norman carries on with the task in hand: delivering some of the loveliest pop songs ever written, golden nuggets of love and wisdom.
From the start, Teenage Fanclub sound absolutely splendid. Unassuming as ever, they amble on to rapturous applause. There’s a genuine sense of love for this band and when they strike up the opening chords and harmonies of ‘About You’ it’s felt all the more deeply. I feel lifted, like a big ray of sunshine has burst through my soul. It’s a sweet sensation, one you don’t from your average gig.
Hearing so many Fanclub classics back to back is just sublime. There’s something about the Fannies sound that just brings a warm glow to my soul. This is a band that has the power pop trick of rocking with grace nailed. The vocals lilt and sigh, the guitars sparkle and even when the drums stomp, they stomp with elegance.
Verisimilitude sees Raymond McGinlay utter a hesitant f-word and Norman thrash at a bright red Fender with childlike glee. Sparky’s Dream has an older gent in front of me stomping his feet and waving his arms in an air drum reverie. And Ain’t That Enough is glorious, that delightful build up leading into that most gorgeous of choruses. “Here is the sunrise, ain’t that enough?” There’s contentment there, but no complacency. It’s a song that conveys pure love and joy, and yes, that’s enough.
And the new songs? Well, the new songs sound just fine. On first listen they seem like the kind of tunes that will take a couple of listens to fully reveal themselves. (And now that I’ve listened to the album I can confirm that’s the case.) Gerry Love’s Save is intriguing, its verse based on a mildly exotic semi-tone chord change, its chorus a sweet soul stomp. Judging by some of the weird and wobbly guitar sounds Raymond McGinlay unveils tonight, the Fannies have been studying their Joe Meek records for retro-futuristic sci-fi sounds. There are almost Moog like beams of guitar on It’s All In My Mind and some far-out space-surfin’ twangs elsewhere.
A rousing Don’t Look Back ends the main set, but Norman admits they’ll be back for an encore. Of course! For that encore they go right back to Everything Flows. With the grungey noise of Dinosaur Jr and the melodic lightness of the Byrds it remains an incredible song. McGinlay is a king on guitar, his scorched solos starting somewhere between Neil Young and J Mascis and ending up on Saturn. They find time for a brief blast through Satan before the curfew and that’s it. A triumphant return. You can hardly blame people for getting up out of their seats.

Photos to follow in a few days...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

More Beard love

We're a multiple choice answer in the Guardian's Weekly Quiz today, as set by EMAP Fanzine Award host Steve Lamacq. Cheers Lammo!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Corrections and clarifications

Enough of this shameless self-congratulation, it's time we fessed up to the dodgy typos in Beard #3!

The biggest clunker is in my Musical Numbers review on page 19.
"One of the most interesting items was a short film feature clips by avant-garde filmmaker...soundtracked by an excellent poem by Edwin Morgan."
Of course, the blank space should have a name in it, and that name is Benno Plassman of the excellent theatre and film company Suspect Culture. I had looked it up, honest, but forgot to actually put the name in place. What a div!

Then there's the pull quote on page 15's Sky At Night feature. "I had to do sing John Denver's 'Country Roads'".
Oops, pretty obvious what went wrong there!

Finally, more of a stylistic boo-boo in the Instal review. Discussing Baby Dee, I repeated the phrase "uncanny in a mainstream style". What I've done there is stick two versions of the review together, forgetting to smooth out the bumps. If any potential employers are reading this please don't think I'd be a sloppy sub. It was late, I was excited about getting the mag finished, I should have given it to someone else to look over...excuses, excuses.

There are a number of minor spelling mistakes and typos but we're not gonna list em all cos wee dont wont two luke lyke compleet illitarates.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

new stockists...

In addition to our usual stockists in Glasgow, Beard is now available in Edinburgh's Analogue Books (Victoria St), Newcastle's Bookville (High Bridge), and London's Rough Trade Covent Garden.
We're also in the process of organising stockists in Liverpool, Leicester and Manchester.

I'll also be attending the London Zine Symposium in a few weeks, so come and get Beard then if you like! And I'm sure I can get some more copies in Rough Trade and Selectadisc while I'm down.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Celebrity Beard readers #2


...and you will know them by the trail of chewed Beards Posted by Hello

Monday, March 07, 2005

Media whores

Yes, we're getting much love in the press today. We're in the Independent's fanzine feature and also have a wee mention in the Herald:

 Posted by Hello

Our pals at Diskant and Jockrock have also given us a mention. And we're in Press Gazette too!

The Indy were disappointed I didn't have a beard and instead resembled a young Paul Gambaccini. Well, what can I say?

 Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 03, 2005

it's official - we're Britain's best music zine!

Yes! Beard has triumphed at the EMAP Fanzine Awards 2005, winning best music zine category. Whoop whoop!
Congrats to runners up Satan's Fish Tank and everyone else I drunkenly chatted with.
They've yet to post the pics, but here's all the info about the winners. I love the made up quote they've attributed to me. Hilarious!

A couple of news items about the win:

Scottish Music Centre

Nemis

Not from the awards, but here's one of Beard's indie celebrity readers:



And in further awards news, Beard snapper Kieran Dodds is up for young photographer of the year! Well done that man. I particularly like the scones...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Off to the seaside

I'm off to All Tomorrow's Parties and the zine awards tomorrow, so don't worry if I don't get back to you for a few days. Beard 3 is available from Monorail and Avalanche now and Rough Trade in London by the end of the week. Edinburgh Beard fans can email or wait until I get through to Analogue.
I shall return with tales of Slint and Staremaster, and, just maybe, a lovely award.

Rock on,
Stew

Friday, February 18, 2005

Beard #3 unleashed


Music, arts and facial hair for £1.50. Featuring Park Attack, Motormark, The Sky At Night, Instal 04, Acid Mothers Temple, Political Beards, Raymond Chandler, Sonic Youth cartoon fun, Lucky Luke, Asking For Trouble, frst prsn rcds, old-school British horror, Witness the Shitness, Avant A Laugh, a beardy board-game and more. Out Monday Feb 21  Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Vashti Bunyan speaks

Now, anyone who's read Beard will know I'm a great fan of my acid folk. Hell, I've been banging on about the mighty Lucky Luke for over a year now. Their new single, Fear Eats The Soul, is out next week, and blooming marvellous it is too. An album, Patrick The Survivor, follows in April. It's a hugely rewarding and evocative listen, beautifully arranged, with Robert Wyatt-esque jazzy strands amongst its rich tapestry of electric folk. A full review will appear in the next Beard.
There are few figures in acid folk as enigmatic as Vashti Bunyan. She recently came out of retirement to appear on Devendra Banhart's Rejoicing In The Hands and apparently has been recording with Four Tet's Kieran Hebden. Sounds promising: his production job on the latest James Yorkston really captures the warm and woody texture of the Fifer's live performances.
In the meantime, she's been telling Pitchfork about her top ten records.

Good news on the Orange Juice front! Domino are readying a compilation for April release. No word as to whether it's simply another greatest hits or something a bit more special, ie, Postcard reissue. We wait in hope.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Sound Of Young Scotland

One of the most positive aspects of Franzmania is the renewed interest in Postcard Records and their roster of indie-pop gods, including Orange Juice and Josef K. It's not easy to get hold of either band's music right now, but hopefully this will change. I've been pretty much addicted to Orange Juice lately. Guitar pop is rarely so witty, romantic or deliriously wonky.
Radio Scotland begins a new series about Scotland's independent music scene at the rock 'n roll time of 11.30am tomorrow (there's a repeat on Sunday tea time) and where else could they begin but with Postcard?
Over on 6Music, Lard took a brief look at the label on his record geek show Mint last night. And as a Brucie bonus they've got a Roy Harper interview too!
Finally, you can read about the label at Stylus. F-f-f-f-frrrresh!
On another note, we've been given a nice write up by the lovely people at diskant!

Hey it's a cheap gag, but what did you expect? Posted by Hello

Friday, February 04, 2005

By the beard of Zeus!

The lovely people at EMAP have shortlisted Beard for best music zine in their Fanzine Awards 2005

What were they thinking?

But, really, it's a great honour and a very nice surprise. Should be a good night out at the very least.

Have a look at the shortlist to see who we're up against.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the last issue. We couldn't have done it without you!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

From the Beard archives, part one


Belle & Sebastian heid the baw at Glasgow Botanics Posted by Hello

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sponsor a beard!

Beard reader 90 Days Of Hair has contacted us about his sponsored beard growth. Naturally we can only applaud such a venture, especially when it's for charity.
Check out his blog to view his progress and make a donation.

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. I've been mad busy writing for Is This Music and getting the next issue of Beard together. Beard 3 is gonna blow you away. We hope...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The List Loves Beard!


From The List, 6 Jan 2004 Posted by Hello
Infamy, infamy, they've all got in for me!
That's right folks, Beard is now famous and everything, thanks to the lovely people at The List.

Oh, happy new year by the way. This is gonna be a big one for Beard. New copies of issue two will be available shortly, so don't worry if you can't find any in the shops.

Beards of the year?

The joint winners of the official UK Beard of the Year have been announced. They are Paul Mackney, spokesman for lecturer's union NATFHE, and England cricketer Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff.
Now Mackney we admire for his nice cuddly beard and campaigning fervour, so the idea of him having to share the award with some oafish posho is a travesty. According to Beard Liberation Front uberbeard Keith Flett, "Freddie" has shown how cool beards can be. It's nice to see the young folk growing beards, but really, is this the best this country can do? It just looks like he forgot to pack his razor before going on tour. A poor, poor effort.

The Mack(ney) Daddy!

 Posted by Hello
Andrew Flintoff? Andrew FUCK OFF more like!

 Posted by Hello