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, 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

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???

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.

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!

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.