Friday, December 29, 2006

Rebels Rule 70s Freakout, Glasgow, 30.12.06

Yes, I'm being allowed to DJ and a freaky 70s set no less. Come along, it'll be fun. I'll play those prog hits to shake your bits. Email me for a free pass - very limited!

Rebels Rule
Clyde St
Sat 30th December


Launching on SATURDAY 30th DECEMBER, the night is the perfect antidote for those keen to party right through the festive season. The club's moniker, from Edinburgh glam band Iron Virgin's hit song, tells you just what this is all about. It's going against the grain, applauding the individual, digging out tunes cast to the vinyl vaults and most importantly bringing something new to the Glasgow club scene.

All girl residents The Dirty Sweet DJs will pay homage to a forgotten era downstairs with a riotous selection of punk, glam, glitter and out and out rock. Expect a gleaming versus gritty selection featuring The Pink Fairies, Roxy Music, Eno, Cherry Vanilla, Elton Motello, Bowie, The Adverts, The Slits, early B52's, Sparks, Big Star, The Faces, Iron Virgin, Wayne/Jayne County, The Stooges and more.

Groove along upstairs as Beard magazine's freakout bends your mind with a weird yet wonderful mix of oddball pop, krautrock, free jazz, pysch, prog, folk, soundtracks and country. Tune in to Captain Beefheart, Can, Neu, The Band, Selda, Sun Ra, Robert Wyatt, Augustus Pablo, Goblin and Swell Maps. For more information on Beard magazine go to www.beardmag. blogspot. com or visit www.myspace. com/beardmagazin e.

To kick off this special night we will also have a short set from fabulous glam revivalists Glasgow Glam Bangers. They class their live shows as a mix of a self contained cabaret act and anarchic glam. Glasgow Glam Bangers are Paxton Andrews (lead vocals) who purportedly sweats glitter and the mighty Piano Reeves (guitar) who is quite rightly influenced by such punk and glam luminaries as Johnny Ramone and Mick Ronson. The duo will be joined at Rebels Rule by the gloriously turned out Paul from Scunner and their quite fantastic drum machine. Go to www.myspace. com/glasgowglamb angers for more on the band.

For that festive feeling we'll be decking the halls with boughs of glitter and for this first night we're putting on a special show with disco dolls on wheels, retro visuals and nostalgic freebies for first 50 in the door. Roll right in for only £5

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Shirley Collins

England's greatest folk singer in speaking tour shockah! How excited are we about this? Extremely flipping excited, that's what.

Shirley Collins Monday 16 October

Shirley Collins And Pip Barnes tell the story of the epic song-hunting
journey she made with alan lomax through the heartlands of america’s
deep south in 1959. Illustrated with rare and remarkable music and pictures
it is a passionate and often humorous evocation of the time





PROMOTION CODE : journey Buy Online



She'll also be at Volcanic Tongue, Argyl St, Finniestoun for a book signing betwee 1 - 2 pm.

You can read Beard's interview with the great lady on her website.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Instal 06

Pack your ear plugs and plump that cushion, cos it's that time of year again, Instal!

Scotland's flagship experimental music festival has become a crucial part of the musical calender, offering such unforgettable experiences as Jandek's first ever live performance, Hijokaidan pushing the noise limit, Richard Young's mesmerising psych-folk explorations, Charlemagne Palestine's teddy bears and Sun City Girls' playing cards.

This year's festival, held as ever at the Arches in Glasgow, promises to be no less fascinating. The world's longest string instrument, drones created from dry ice and hot steel, free jazz combined with Tuvaan throat singing, Osaka scum rock, Keiji Haino, Tony Conrad... utterly fucking essential.

It's also great to see home grown artists get their own festival within a festival, Infest. Wounded Knee, Polly Shang Kuan Band, Ben Reynolds, Hockeyfrilla and the superbly named Kylie Minoise are just some of the deviant minds bringing their ecstatic skree into the wee small hours.

There's also the chance to see Brian Morton in conversation with performers Maryanne Amacher and Tony Conrad and musical workshops with David Dove and Arrington De Dionyso. Hell yeah!

It all kicks off on Friday night. More info here

To give you a flavour of the festival, here's what we had to say about last year's shindig.

Over 12 lumbering months ago the gods of fortune decreed that I would stumble across a stark American enigma standing in a halo of black light clawing a strangled fretboard and howling at the sky with Lupine relish, leading a small group of disciples through a tortured journey. Confused and frightened I would float towards this swelling flux of noise and breath to witness what would turn out to be a very controversial piece of musical history.

Twelve months on and the gods of fortune have cancelled my train, made a bus run straight by me and now have me pacing up and down a damp pavement clutching at my Valium. This time the gods had conspired to keep me very far away from Jandek.

My only saving grace was the little known fact that it's impossible to be late for a Jandek show. The tag of being on at 7.00pm sharp is as much to do with building tension as it is to do with the gangly Texan’s reluctance to enter stage left. In one short year Jandek has gone from being the most reclusive artist in the known universe to a fully fledged rock god and I'm confident his episode of MTV Cribs will be gracing our screens in the near future. The mystery may have gone, but so has the air of preciousness. So, without the hysteria does Jandek's music still stand up? Well, yes and no. This year’s Friday night set at Instal 2005 was pretty much a carbon copy of his Sunday afternoon set last year. If you can't fully throw yourself into the de-tuned anti melody of Jandek's ragas or the choppy semi improv jagging of Richard Young’s Bass or if you can't lose your mind watching the slack jawed wonderment that is Alex Nielsen's one man mission to up-stage everyone he
sits behind then you might get a tad bored. Luckily I thoroughly enjoy this sort of thing, but tonight I just longed for him to be, well, different, to blow me away.

By the end of Saturday night Jojo Hiroshige would have permanently damaged my hearing as part of Hijokaiden, but tonight he made do with sharp barks of spit and sweat, strangling his axe with two clenched fists. He wasn't so much playing the guitar as battling an angry cobra trying to fang his eyes. The set jumped between melodic hushed psych-folk and crunching vocal and guitar mangle.

A one man noise movement, Campbell Kneale has managed to excite me more than any other artist in the last 10 years whether he is straddling the stars with euphoric sonic excursions using wind chimes, bagpipes and Lee Ranaldo or doing straight forward pop on obscure Prince tribute albums. His down to earth attitude gives you the impression he would prefer a pint of bitter and an argument about Sabbath than a glass of Merlot and a deep discussion pondering the virtues of La Monte Young. Tonight sees him make a rare appearance as Black Boned Angel, a demi-god incarnation which has him standing bathed in dry ice, posing elegantly with his Flying V guitar. Pagan like chants fill the air before the doom rock power chords cut the face off the ever so slightly stunned crowd. For almost an hour subterranean post metal rings across the cavernous space of the Arches, peaking with Kneale on the floor pounding at a bass drum until the last flicker of electricity bleeds from the amps.

Bringing the night to a close were Japanese rock outfit Up-Tight. Japanese noise rock has a habit if flaying off the edges and descending into all out assault but these new pretenders prefer a more restrained tuneful approach, almost a Velvet Underground to Keiji Haino’s Fushitsusha's MC5.
(Blair Hamilton)

Campbell Kneale returns the following afternoon in his Birchville Cat Motel guise rocking back and forth as he summons tones both glacial and grinding, the tension building and building until he raises a studded fist to the heavens and unleashes a totalitarian metal riff from his sampler. Dugga duhn duuhnnn! The kick drum and power chord bludgeon us into submission, as Kneale noodles randomly on a pipe. Kick ass.

For his performance as Directing Hand, Alex Neilson is joined by an impressive line up of US and UK avantists, including members of Mancunian improv collective Ashtray Navigations. A potentially explosive combo, or too many cooks? Regrettably, I’m inclined towards the latter view. Neilson alternates between drums and various percussive trinkets, wailing as he pounds out a heavy beat. The other players pile in with churning guitars, shortwave radio signals, violin, noise making gizmos and other esoteric toys. Some interesting sounds are produced, but ultimately it’s too dense, leaving Neilson too little space to lead the group towards something truly combustible and transcendent.

Bobbing around the stage in their funny hats and silly trousers, Rauhan Orchestra are a pixie free jazz group, a charming counterpoint to the more punishing acts the festival has to offer. There’s just enough squawk and squall top balance the whimsy and watching the two saxophonists duck and weave and mimic each others lines is a delight.

The first half of Sun City Girls’ brilliant, sometimes baffling set is effectively a performance piece, full of bizarre satirical sketches and schizophrenic music asides. Like some opium induced nightmare the trio take to the stage in black robes and gruesome masks, wailing and muttering like Arabian Nights banshees. Some of the skits are hilarious. There’s an absurd Elvis monologue and a tribute to St Andrews, home of golf, complete with Alan Bishop pitching imaginary golf balls into the crowd with a light iron. The unveiling of a Bin Laden t-shirt is hardly transgressive foud years on from 911 however. Happily, their straight musical section is superb, a few meandering passages aside. Alan Bishop’s muezzin like wails and bluesy hollers snake around Richard Bishop’s spiky guitar ragas and Arabesques, Charles Gocher underpinning it all with primal Moe Tucker like beats. Their closing murder ballad is a sick and rowdy treat.

Hijokaiden are completely nuts. They’re so loud the staff have been actively pushing ear plugs on us, lest the venue be hit by crippling law suits. Some mentalists go without and doubtlessly go temporarily deaf, but even with ears plugged the ‘kaiden hit you like a brick wall. A small woman stands impassively as she shrieks into the microphone, while a petite drummer hammers out a deliberate pounding rhythm, bringing order to the raging inferno of distortion and untethered feedback created by the two middle aged crazies up front. A kamikaze Pete Townsend, Jojo swings his guitar above his head, striking the strings and body, his every move creating new waves of noise. His partner jumps around like a man possessed, triggering effects and gritting his teeth. Free from the cold, metallic nihilism of some noise units, Hijokaiden are utterly exhilarating, and dare I say it, fun.

If Friday’s Jandek performance was a reprisal of the previous year, his Sunday slot was something else altogether. The first half hour saw Jandek perform a spoken word piece with spectral guitar accompaniment from Loren Conors. His story, a sub-Kafka nightmare about being trapped in a den of iniquity, was more goth than gothic to be honest, gaining much of its power from the otherwordly accompaniment. However, when Jandek picked up a harmonica to wheeze out a campfire lament, the combination was beautiful and uncanny. What followed was truly astonishing: Jandek settling behind a drum kit as Heather Leigh Murray and Alan Licht took the stage. As Jandek pounded out a tribal death march, Licht and Murray worked up a storm of violent guitar and queasy pedal steel swoops, over which she howled. It sounded like a million lost souls crying out in the pits of hell. A purging, harrowing experience, it wasn’t something I could take too much of, but was remarkable nonetheless, the weekend’s most extreme and surprising performance.
(Stewart Smith)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Davey Graham

Davey Graham with special guest John Renbourn
Support from Alex Neilson and Ben Reynolds.
Oran Mor
Sunday 24th September

Hot diggity, if that's not one of the greatest bills you'll ever see then slap me with a kipper and call me Shirley. Seeing the great Davey Graham is a rare enough treat, but to have him supported by John Renbourne and Neilson and Reynolds is off the hook! Renbourne's recent gig in Glasgow with Peter Rowan was a joy. Indeed, he enjoyed himself so much he asked to come back and support his hero. Neilson, percussionist extraordnaire and outer reaches interpreter of folk song, will be accompanied by avant guitarist Reynolds, bringing together innovators old and new.

My preview of the gig is in the new issue of The List. A sub seems to have lopped off the end of one of my sentences without fixing the construction, but you can read my original version here...

Lauded by Bert Jansch, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, Davey Graham is the guitar hero’s guitar hero. But despite his revolutionary impact on acoustic guitar playing and British folk music in the early 1960s, Graham has remained a relatively obscure figure. So it’s cause for celebration that he has recently returned to public performance.

Born to a Guyanan mother and Scottish father, Graham was never one to limit his horizons. As a teenager in London he absorbed blues, jazz, folk and classical music. In the early 1960s he travelled to Morocco, where he discovered African music, and devised the groundbreaking DADGAD tuning.

It was thanks to British blues godfather Alexis Korner that Graham had his first real breakthrough. For the young John Renbourn (appearing as Graham’s special guest in Glasgow) and his future partner in psych-folk legends Pentangle, Bert Jansch, hearing the guitarist “changed everything”.

“Alexis and Davey did an EP together which had ‘Angi’ on it. It’s why Bert and I sounded like we did. Davey was our idol.”

The solo instrumental ‘Angi’, released in 1962, became Graham’s signature tune and a rite of passage for aspiring guitarists. Jansch recorded a version for his debut album and in 1966 the tune crossed over to a mass audience via Simon & Garfunkel.

Two albums Graham made in 1964 stand as his most lasting achievements. Folk Routes, New Routes, a collaboration with the great Shirely Collins, is a revelation. Graham provides remarkably inventive yet sympathetic accompaniments to Collins’ starkly beautiful readings of English traditionals like ‘Nottamun Town’ and ‘Reynardine’, his jazzy flourishes and vaguely Middle Eastern inflections adding new dimensions to these ancient songs.

His own album of that year, Folk, Blues And Beyond, was more eclectic still with Graham looking towards not only American jazz and blues, but Eastern European, North African and Indian music.
Although Graham would continue to cut important albums throughout the 1960s, subsequent decades saw him performing and recording infrequently, his already erratic behaviour exacerbated by drug problems.
Recent years, however, have seen his albums reissued, bringing him belated recognition and a new audience.
No-one can be sure exactly what to expect from a Graham performance. But as Bert Jansch testifies, that’s the beauty of his approach: "He's completely unpredictable and the audience will be treated to wherever his mind is at that moment… But I've never been less than blown away by his playing.”


I'll have a stall at Oran Mor on Sunday. Do say hello!

Monday, September 04, 2006

John Renbourn, Peter Rowan, Oran Mor, Glasgow, Tues 5 Sep

British Folk Legend meets the Bluegrass Master!

For one night only! Major cult bluegrass artist and Grammy-award winner, Peter Rowan(Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys), shares the stage with legendary virtuoso British guitarist, John Renbourn (Pentangle).

Truly unmissable!

I'll be there selling Beard, and the good people from Volcanic Tongue will also have a stall to flog their wares.

Tues 5th September
Doors 8pm
Tickets £12 from Tickets Scotland and

I had the pleasure of meeting John at the Green Man Festival. Here's what happened...

I introduce myself to John Renbourn after his rapturously received set at the Green Man festival in Wales. He’s cleary buzzing. “That was fucking brilliant!”

Indeed it was. His warm, unassuming stage manner belies his playful virtuosity and invention. We’ve been treated to traditional folk songs, jazz numbers, Jackson C Frank’s harrowing Run The Blues, and perhaps most affecting of all, a piece that begins with him riffing on Scottish folk tune The Dark Island, before shifting into an old hymn and finally morphing into a calypso. “Don’t ask me why it does that, it just does,” he offers to an awed crowd. And does it work? Of course: beautifully.

Afterwards an old friend who lives locally and has come along for the show remarks that the last time he saw John play, half the audience wouldn’t have been born. Yet they were giving him a standing ovation and demanding an encore. Unfortunately a broken string and tight stage times mean he’s unable to come back for more.

Thoroughly good natured and down to earth, Renbourn has driven to the festival in his Volvo, guitars and suitcases in the boot. He gives me a lift down to the backstage cafĂ© where I, shameless as ever, produce a copy of Beard. He’s delighted by the pictures of his old friend Shirley Collins.
“Oh that’s lovely.”
He recalls playing with her in the ‘60s.
“She made an album with Davey Graham (Folk Routes New Routes) but she couldn’t handle him because he was off his head on drugs all the time so I would back her up instead!”

I haven’t brought my unreliable Dictaphone along, so it’s time to call on my extremely rusty shorthand. He’s kind enough to pause between answers while I furiously scribble everything down. Glancing at my spidery scrawl he smiles. “I hope you’ll be able to read all that later!” Well, so far so good.

From Wales, John is travelling to Rome, then Marseilles, before crossing the Atlantic to perform at the American Lute Society (Early music has always been one of Renbourn’s key interests and in the ‘80s he took a degree in the subject). Later this year he’s playing some gigs with Incredible String Band co-founder Robin Williamson.

He struggles to recall the rest of his itinery. “I can’t think too far ahead because I’m actually officially retired,” he chuckles. Well, if this is retirement, long may it run.

Flash forward to this week and he’s playing Glasgow, sharing a stage with bluegrass guitarist Peter Rowan. The two musicians complement each other well. Renbourn has never been a purist, combining folk with jazz, blues, early music and whatever else takes his fancy. And while Rowan may have earned his stripes playing with the father of bluegrass Bill Monroe, he’s no fundamentalist, joining the dots between Appalachia, the cotton fields, New Orleans and even Jamaica.

“I’ve only seen (Peter Rowan) a few times at festivals. I’ve known about him for a long time because of Bill Monroe, who’s absolute royalty. Years ago I met a guy who made beautiful guitars. It took him years to make me one – the only other person who had one was Peter Rowan.

“I’ve never met him but I’d love to play with him. He’s done some great things. Last time I saw him he was playing with Muck O’Connor and Jerry Douglas. Those guys - just ridiculous talent, amazing.”

As a teenager in the 1950s, Renbourn played skiffle and classical guitar.

“Then skiffle morphed into R n B. The big guy on the scene who we thought was really good was Alexis Korner. He played acoustic and mentored the young Davey Graham, and that changed everything.

“When I started there was such an enormous pressure from the trad camp. I found it oppressive. They were rigid, not very progressive. I found it difficult to cope with and I’m proud I’m not one of them.

Combining folk with blues, jazz, Arabic and Indian music, Graham threw open the possibilities for acoustic music, inspiring Renbourn and his friend Bert Jansch to follow their own paths.

“Alexis and Davey did an album together which had Anjii on it. It’s why me and Bert sounded like that. Bert is equally as inventive as Davey though, we weren’t simply copying him. But Davey was our idol.”

John and Bert’s innovative psych-folk group Pentangle began as a way of hanging out with Korner.

“Alexis liked to smoke dope and play guitar. It was a good chance to hear him. The idea was to get a band together to play these all nighters.”

More than just the sum of their parts, Pentangle created an uncanny, often eerie, sometimes funky, blend of folk, jazz, rock and psych.
In the US they played with Grateful Dead.
“That’s when Jerry Garcia got idea to play acoustic music, “ Renbourn adds.

I ask if he’s aware of some of the young artists who are drawing fresh inspiration from the music of Renbourn and his contemporaries. He mentions a few modern day folkies but is generally not so up on the indie-folk and New Weird America acts performing at Green Man. He’s intrigued when I mention Jack Rose as a guitarist in the vein of the mercurial John Fahey.

“I knew Fahey. Not a lot of people really knew Fahey though,” he reflects.

Renbourn finds the idea of a new folk revival strange.

“I’m travelling al the time. There’s always been an interest. But yes, it is incredible that those so young and innocent should be listening to this!”

With a 2CD anthology in the works - “It’s part of series in which everyone else is already dead!” - perhaps Renbourn will gain wider recognition. As the Times’ Peter Paphides puts it, “Bert Jansch was the hip one in Pentangle, but it was Renbourn who most fluidly assimilated folk, jazz, blue and early music into one inimitable style. He’s one of our most underappreciated guitarists.”

Let’s hope he remains underappreciated no longer.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Arthur Lee RIP

Another music great gone. I had the privilege of seeing Arthur and Love in 2002, tearing through 7&7 Is with rare passion and hunger. Forever Changes and the first side of Da Capo are really as good as it gets - beautiful, visionary, dark and romantic. Thank you for the music Arthur and may you rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hey You Get Off My Pavement - The Aftermath

Well, that was a fun day! Glasgow's grooviest little music festival took place at Mono on Sunday and a splendid time was had by all. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, the sun shone and the bands rocked. A fuller review shall appear in Beard #6, but here are a few of my highlights for the time being. Thanks to James for the photos. You can view his full set here.

Bar manager and compere Paul Ranter jokingly explains, by way of an introduction, that the Royal We are only playing cos two of them work at Mono. A scenester supergroup they may be, but any charges of nepotism are dispelled upon hearing their eccentric pop racket. Their rough live tracks on their Myspace page do no justice to the joyous and exciting live act they’ve become in the space of a few shows. In their cheerily herky-jerk guitar and synth interplay they nod a stylishly coiffed head to Devo and the B-52s, while their violin and disco-glam grooves recall Pulp. There’s tremendous fun to be had, but as one of their originals segues seamlessly into an urgent thrash through Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, a more urgent, passionate side is revealed. Cutting a striking figure with her thatch of raven hair and Ian Curtis raincoat, singer Jihae lets rip an earth-shattering scream and it’s all over. Walking away exhilarated I can only conclude that the Royal We are the best new band in Glasgow.

Mighty noiseniks Park Attack deliver the loudest set of the day, scaring passing punters with their demented no-wave din. As Lorna Gilfedder lays down a polyrhythmic thud, Rob Churn howls, screeches menacing non-sequitars and hacks a churning, down-tuned racket from his guitar. New member Jamie Grier adds feeback loops, primitive electronics and even a touch of Lightning Bolt bass tapping. You know it’s good baby.

I've never quite been convinced by Uncle John & Whitelock on record. Live, it's another matter: raw, apocalyptic rockabilly dredged up from the silty waters of the Clyde, if that makes any sense. Jacob Lovett declames from the stage like a fire and brimstone preacher, twisting and jerking the microphone stand with his raised arm. Booglarizin'!

As for the highlight of the day: it could only be ya ya Herman Dune. While Andre couldn't make it along, their sister Lisa was along for the ride, as well as drummer Neman and percussion and cornet playing dude Turner. An utter joy from start to finish, the Dune played the finest songs from Not On Top (although not the title track itself), some wonderful newbies from the forthcoming album, and to close, Suburbs With You. Lisa recreated Julie Doiron's vocal contributions from Not On Top and brought her own sweet presence to others. David Ivar unleashed a wild, vibrato laden falsetto, like Joan Baez high on Pernod. In front of us a little girl played with her dad's friend's pony tail. We had fun pulling silly faces. It only made the set more delightful. Yay for Herman Dune. And yay for this festival, surely the first of many.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Beard Singles Club!

Oh man it's hot today. Almost too hot to write. But enough of my feeble excuses: clap your hands and rustle your giros cos it's another exciting edition of Beard Singles Club. Yay!

National Park
The Only Stars/La Solara
(Yield Recordings)

It's been too long since we last heard from National Park. Never the most prolific bands, they've preferred to maintain an air of mystery, releasing the occasional single and playing the occasionl gig, most memorably on the roof of the old John Smith's book store in Byre's Road.
While his sidekicks Simon Shaw and Michael McGaughrin have gone on to make their own music with Lucky Luke and 1990s, head Park-keeper John Hogarty has been keeping a lower profile, storing up two albums worth of material (oh boy!). The first glimpse of this comes with The Only Stars, a dreamy piece of out-pop. A hypnotic tom rhythm and droney chord progression underpin a psychedelic smear of gauzy guitars, minimalist piano (courtesy of the great Bill Wells) and woozy flute and horn (Sarah Martin and Mick Cooke of Belle & Sebastian take a bow). Hogarty sings softly, the melody recalling Teenage Fanclub at their most reflective, before a more visceral, yet melodic, guitar break emerges from the haze. Far from ruining the song's atmosphere, it reveals the darkness lurking beneath the beauty.
A most welcome return.

Available from Monorail Music (Glasgow)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Napoleon IIIrd/Pagan Wanderer Lu
Hit Schmooze For Me/Repetition 1
(Brainlove Records)

If you like your pop warped and experimental Brainlove Records deserves a special place in your heart. Like Postcard, Warp or even early Def Jam, Brainlove is one of those little labels that delivers a diverse range of music, yet maintains a strong identity for itself, partly through its artwork but mainly through its comittment to underground pop that's sexy, arty and innovative. So it makes perfect sense that their latest wheeze is a singles club, a series of split 7"s featuring the label's extended family.
The series sets out its stall with afrom Napoleon IIIrd's brilliant one man and his laptop (not to mention his strobing acoustic guitar). I've raved about the Leeds based emperor of the DIY scene before and Hit Schmooze For Me Is no disappointment, immediately grabbing your attention with urgent multitracked vocals.
"This is not my life, it's just a day job that means I can pay the rent" our hero declames. Too many bands are milking the grimy reality cow, but this is several cuts above the dreary likes of Hard Fi. Like many a DIY artist or musician (or fanzine editor!) Napoleon subsidises his creative endeavours with a crap job. So while he's railing against the 9-5 drudge, he's aiming towards the stars. There's a bleary eyed sarkiness to lines like "Was that you that set my alarm to execute this morning". Yup, I can sympathise.
All this is accompanied by battered beats and a splatter of electronic fizzes, swoops and swirls, breaking down at the end to reveal a Kraftwerk-like sequence of insectoid notes and woozy backing vocals. Few artists capture the frustrations of urban life and work as well as Napoleon IIIrd.
Equally good is the contribution from new signing Pagan Wanderer Lu. Tapping into a similar sense of melancholy and frustration Mr Lu, as he shall henceforth be known, sings of jealous lovers and letters never sent over finger-picked acoustic guitars, Casio drones and clockwork beats. Showing a playful approach to arrangement, Lu decorates one verse with jaunty wap wap backing vocals and drops in an 8 bit Nintendo bassline for an instrumental break. Inventive, soulful and witty, this is a superb calling card from Mr Lu. Just don't call it folktronica, alright?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hey You Get Off My Pavement!

Hey you!

You're losing your vitamin C.

No, that's not right.

I'll try again.

Hey you, get off my pavement!

That's right, scram!

No, hang on, don't go. Read this first.

Hey You, Get Off My Pavement is a day of music and fun held in the courtyard of Beard's favourite Glasgow hang out, Mono. It's on Sunday July 30th and hot damn, but if that lineup isn't a knockout then I'm the monkey's uncle.
Arab Strap top the bill, followed by everyone's favourite beardy brothers Herman Dune bringing their lovelorn songs and extremely tight trousers. Then there's Emma Pollock, unveiling her new solo material and hopefully throwing in some Delgados classics. Beard #3 cover stars Park Attack bring their gonzoid noise attack, while the bonkers and thoroughly ace Royal We go ape. And then there's Glasgow's favourite party band the 1990s, swamp blues mentalists Uncle John & Whitelock, groovy hep cats Bricolage. Topping it all off are The Parsonage, "Glasgow's only 30 strong country-folk choir", which sounds amazing!
Just when you thought things couldn't get any better, there's an outside bar with cheap booze and a barbecue! I'll see y'all down there!
Stew xx

Beard recommends

We at Beard love you. That's why we want to share a couple of new bands with you.

Something of a Glasgow underground super-group, The Royal We feature members of Multiplies, Dot To Dot and Pro-Forma, among others. They sound mental, but pop! Seeing as I enjoy both mental music and pop, this is undoubtedly a good thing. The tunes on their myspace page are rough around the edges but they offer a glimpse of their colourful riot of punk, pop, noise and art. There are definitely hints of such wonky pop practitioners Yummy Fur and Royal Trux there, but really, The Royal We are a law unto themselves. And no, I'm not going to make any weak puns like "long may they reign." Oh...

Next up, pop pickers, are Daddy & The Husband. Recommended to me by both Rachel BMX Bandit and Beard's own Ian MacBeth these ladies (and boy) have but one song up on their myspace profile, but jimmy wilickers, it's a wee beauty. My Darling You Smoke Crack, is cheeky, sexy, and stylish girl group electro-pop, with the best smoke blowing sounds this side of Snoop.

We'll try to keep this a regular feature, cos it's not like the magazine comes out regularly. Ha ha! But we are working on it, honest...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The return of Beard singles club - 7" special!

BMX Bandits
Doorways/Sailor’s Song

BMX Bandits – Doorways/Sailor’s Song (Rev-ola)

Doorways has really got me. It’s the kind of song you rarely hear these days, at least not done right – the adult pop ballad. Sounding like some lost Carole King or Laura Nyro gem, it’s a stunning showcase for new singer Rachel Mackenzie, and quite possibly the finest song of Duglas T Stewart’s career.
Clearly based on real life heartbreak, Stewart’s lyrics ring true, without ever sounding solipsistic. Mackenzie absolutely nails the sentiment, capturing the sense of heartache and loss in Stewart’s lyrics, while retaining her dignity and inner strength. She soars on the chorus, before slowing down on the final line, a catch in her voice as she yearns, “But I thought we had a chance for love, a very special kind of love.” It’s a heartbreaker alright.
Gorgeous and genuinley moving, in a just world this would be a massive hit.
Testament to the glory of the 7” format, as soon as Doorways ends you’ll want to lift up the tone arm and play it again. Make sure you flip it over eventually though, as Sailor’s Song, from forthcoming album My Chain, is lovely breezy soul.
After 20 years of heartache, melody and romance, it’s high time the Bandits were recognised as the classic pop band they are. Treasure this.

More singles club tomorrow folks! xx

Thursday, June 08, 2006

ATP - the inside scoop!

This is a piece of creative non-fiction I did for my creative writing evening class. It's not a standard review of the second weekend of All Tomorrow's Parties - you'll get that in Beard #6 - but rather a series of sketches from different viewpoints. Yes, pretentious sod that I am, I used three narrative voices, one of which is clearly me, the other two being crudely executed charicatures of people I encountered there. It's far from a finished piece and could do with some redrafting I'm sure, but I just thought I'd get it out there as a work in progress. Feel free to tear it to pieces or worship my ass. The former being more likely...

Sketches of Pain: Three Voices for All Tomorrow's Parties

Smart. Fuckin’ smaaaart. It’s 4am, I’m on the bus down to All Tomorrow’s Parties and I’m wasted. All night disco party! For the next four nights. Smart. I’ve not been to ATP before, but I’ve heard all the stories: best music festival ever, sound people, chalets instead of tents, proper toilets, loads of mad stuff going on. It’s gonnae be a riot, man.
I cannae wait for the Shins on Sunday. Ye know that film where Princess Leah’s maw gies the guy the headphones and is like, “This band will change your life”? Well, that’s the Shins she’s playing. Fuckin’ smart.
People are pretty quiet on this bus. I thought it would be pure mental. I suppose people are saving themselves up for when they get there. The most excitement was some guy making a b-line straight to the bog as soon as we hit the road. “Ye have a good shite?” I ask when he comes out. Guy looks a bit embarrassed and toddles off back to his seat. Behind me there’s a guy coughing and sneezing. Doesn’t sound too healthy. Still, nothing a bottle of vodka cannae fix. Smaaart.


So there we were in George Square at 3am, waiting for the bus we’d booked to Camber Sands. People tended to stick to their own groups, acknowledging the others but not really interacting. Come on, we’re all going to All Tomorrow’s Parties, let’s rock! Alas, the closest we get to the ice being broken was when some French revellers joined in the kick around a few of the guys were having. The bus appeared at 3.30. Just as well, as I was suffering from the runs and needed to pay a visit pronto. “Have a good shite?” somebody asks when I emerge. “Smaart” he drawls. Aye, whatever. Fortunately I track down some Immodium at a service station. Best £3.99 I’ve ever spent. Smart indeed.
I manage to sleep on and off, and spend much of the morning reading the Wire, marvelling at the descriptions of John Fahey’s cosmic American guitar picking and tutting at the writer of the Sonic Youth feature’s sniffy attitude towards the band’s relatively poppy new album.
By lunchtime I’m wondering when we’ll get there, as the coach stops and starts along past endless fields of bright yellow rape. We seem to spend an age crawling towards a massive bridge over the Thames estuary, an industrial vista of chimneys and freight ships. With that obstacle passed it’s a smoother run through quaint English villages, all village greens and caravan showrooms. Catching the first band at 2.30pm is a lost cause now, but we might just make it in time for the excellent Herman Dune. Eventually we see signs for Hastings. Well, at least we’re heading in roughly the right direction. Unfortunately the driver thinks Hastings is our final destination and spends a good twenty minutes getting lost around the town before being informed that in fact, we’re going to Rye, further along the coast. No Herman Dune for me then.
It’s nearly 4pm when we arrive at Pontins, the incongruous yet perfect setting for our weekend of rock n roll mayhem. Juggling my luggage I meet up with my chalet mates and wait in the wind while one of our party gets our wristbands and keys. I’m sharing with some affable Americans, who’ve brought along plenty of fruit. My offering is some coffee and a French press. How dreadfully bourgeois! It’s most necessary though. Now, without further ado, let the music commence.


“Puny weaklings, bow before the majesty of rock n roll!” I scan the crowd to see what sort of reaction I’m getting. Some of those guys are laughing, some of them I can tell fucking hate me, and the rest just carry on talking to their friends. Well, that’s not what I want – I need reaction.
“Alright motherfuckers, wanna see me dance?”
Not that they get a choice in the matter. It might be hot in this cape under these stage lights, but I’m gonna bust some moves whether it’s the last thing I do. I flex my limbs and shake my ass to some imaginary hot beat. Some dude in the front row sticks out his hand and I high five him.
Mission accomplished, I make my exit, wishing the band, who are waiting in the wings, a great show. Man, this festival is fun. Goofy, but fun. And with my tinsel party sticks in hand I disappear into the crowd.


The nicest thing about a having a photo pass is getting to see the bands right up close. The trick is to get there early, at least five minutes before the band come on, and find a good spot in the photo pit. You sit in the trench, fiddling with your equipment, as bodies writhe with excitement behind the barrier. Every few seconds other photographers appear, squeezing past you to get a good spot in the corner. Then on walk the band and it’s over the top, aiming your lens at the musicians, guitars and shaggy hair in your sights. Whether my photos come out well almost doesn’t matter when confronted with a band as thrilling as the Boredoms. It’s exciting just to be able to get so close. A few feet away dreadlocked uber-Bore Eye stands chanting in Japanese, his body twitching with intent. One arm swoops and the electronic gizmo he’s clutching makes an arc of light and whoosh of glitchy noise. He’s soon joined by three drummers, who form a circle round his console of noise making machines. Far from being a leaden, martial din, the music they make is positively elevating, all tribal polyrhythm, electronic star bursts and ecstatic vocals.
I don’t stay down the front too long - I want to experience this as a fan. I work my way through the crowd, find a good spot, shut my eyes and trance out to the Boredom’s psychedelic splendour.
Later that day, downstairs at the smaller stage, I’m equally transfixed, albeit in a totally different manner, by Joanna Newsom’s exquisite art-folk. Nobody comes to throw us out of the pit after three songs, so I stay put, all the better to hear her music against the distant chatter of the morons at the back of the room. She’s dwarfed by her Celtic harp, but is in total control of its daunting row of strings and clunky pedals. Watching her play is fascinating. Golden melodies and counterpoints tumble from her fingers, recalling African kora music as much as Western folk music. In her keening woman-child voice she sings of meteorites, dirigibles and cockles, peach, plums and pears.
Of course she’s beautiful, a wide-eyed medieval princess in her velvet dress, and when I briefly pass her in the wings after the set, I feel like a smitten schoolboy. “That was an amazing set,” I tell her. “Thankyou!” she beams. Sigh.


Let me tell you why I’m here. There’s a film being made about this festival and I’ve been thrown in to add a little craziness. I got my aviator shades, my cape and my shorts, and a whole lotta party attitude. Hype man, performance artist, certified nutjob, call me what you will, but I’ve got an important job to do. I told y’all about my dancing, that’s been fun, but they’ve given me other things to do, like wander around talking to people. Being a holiday camp, there’s an amusement arcade, which is full of drunken indie kids playing the dance machine or gambling their pennies away. A good place to hang out.
I see a group of guys hanging around wondering what game to play next, so I step up to them, my trusty cameraman and sound operator in tow.
“What’s up!”
“Hey, it’s you. That guy!” this dude in glasses says in some fruity British accent.
“You know who I am? I’m John Lennon. Maybe you’ve heard of my band, The Beatles.”
“No, can’t say I’ve heard of them. What kind of music do you do?”
Smart ass eh? Nah, the guy’s being good natured. He’s having a laugh, as you Limey’s say. I pause for dramatic effect.
“Yeah, you should check us out man. So, where you guys from in England?”
“We’re not English, we’re Scottish,” another one of them says.
“Alright. Then fuck the English!”
Alright, that’s some Braveheart shit right there! I wish my Scottish friends a good day and move on to my next victim. Bringing the good time vibes, that’s me.


Another great thing about ATP is that there’s far more to it than watching bands. The opportunities for fun are virtually endless. You can go to the famous Camber Sands, although that’s not much fun when it’s windy and wet, sit in your chalet and watch the bizarre cavalcade of cult movies and TV shows the curators have chosen (the highlight being R Kelly’s ludicrous and quite astonishing “r ‘n b soap opera” Trapped In The Closet) or stay up until 6am dancing in the pub. And of course, there are the impromptu jam sessions featuring pots and pans and wooden spoons.
Our own event is a Zaireeka party. Zaireeka, for the uninitiated, is an album by the Flaming Lips designed to be played on four stereos. Naturally, this can be quite difficult to arrange, so you might as well make the most of the few occasions you can hear it properly and turn the playback into a big party. Four stereos are procured, the word is passed around, and when the time arrives, at least 20 people are gathered in the chalet and the balcony outside.
Our host has done this before, so he instructs each of us CD operators and we’re off. At the count of three we all hit play and wait for the music to fill the room in all its octophonic glory. First out of the traps is an edgy, syncopated bassline, followed by a drift of otherworldly voices, floating around the room like paint in a jar of water. Thunderous drums cut through, cantering to the finish line. This is awesome.
We repeat the process for each song, finding ourselves constantly delighted and unsettled by the invention, wit and audacity of it all. One song ends with a swarm of bees buzzing across the speakers, another with a chorus of barking dogs. And through it all of you’ve got the existential optimism of singer Wayne Coyne, urging us to embrace life. It’s a fitting end to the festival.


Aw man, don’t ask me to remember too much. This weekend has been a blur of booze, drugs, music, girls and more booze. Smaaart. I’m totally fuckin’ wasted and just want to get home. Hurry up bus. I cue up Malcolm Middleton on my IPod and sit back. “You’ll never amount tae nothin’, and a’ yer songs are shite…” I love this tune man, fuckin’ brutal. People are probably thinking, who’s this daft cunt singing along to his IPod? Like I give a fuck.
Time passes. Time to put on a video. I’ve got Trainspotting and Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas. I go up to the driver and he points to the video. Smaart.
Back in my seat and the film starts up. Dum dum dum dum dum dum. Fuckin’ ‚Lust For Life’ man, smart. Renton running down the street. Quality.
A few minutes in though and the picture starts to go. Fuck’s sake! Nevermind, it’s pretty funny with just the sound on anyway. It’s amazing how well you can remember all the bits. The chat about Sean Connery, Renton trying to pull Dianne. Smart.
People get a bit fed up with it though, so we try the other video. Nae luck again. No worries, I’ve got a tape I can put on. The Brakes. All night disco party!
I’m woken up by that speccy guy handing me back my tape. Mutiny in the ranks! He goes and puts on this mix tape he’s made. Starts off with some disco shite, then we get some alright rock ‘n roll stuff, then it’s all weird shit, kinda funky weird shit though. There’s this folky song with some woman wailing away that seems to go on forever. Fuckin’ shite! Who would want to listen to this? It’s pure top yourself music. There’s some old soul song after that, but then it gets turned off and somebody else’s tape put on. Smart.
A few hours later we’re back in Glasgow. Well, that was some weekend. Shins were amazing man. I’m fuckin’ dead, but it’s all good. Smart, fuckin’ smaaart.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Beatnik Whaling Comix - the missing part!

I've been meaning to post this for ages, but for anyone who has a Beard #5 with part 2 of Beatnik Whaling Comix missing (that's what happens when you're laying stuff out at 4am) here it is!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Desmond Dekker RIP

Nice tribute from Radio Jamaica.

Friday, May 12, 2006


here come the warm muddyfuggin jets. is the album everyone should obtain this week.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Buck Owens - RIP

Sad to hear that country great Buck Owens, the Baron of Bakersfield, has passed away aged 76. They'll be playing 'Buckaroo' in heaven tonight.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ivor Cutler RIP

Lovely tribute from Duglas T Stewart of BMX Bandits.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Zine watch

Blank Stares & Cricket Claps #8
A5, free!

The eighth issue of this Sheffield based zine boasts interviews with King Biscuit Time, Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players, Broadcast, Junkplanet and local raves The Long Blondes. I particularly enjoyed the chat with David Berman of the Silver Jews and the excellent piece on Nuggets, which features quotes from the Electric Prunes and Barry, of Barry & The Remains fame. It's funny too, with the demos being reviewed (purportedly) by Paul Gambuccini and Bobby Peru, and James Blunt being lampooned in a pleasingly rude photo story. Playful and sharply designed, this is a cracking wee zine.

Khaki Shorts #10
A4, £1

The infamous Glasgow comic returns with its time honoured blend of mirth, bile and mockery. Contributors include John Miller and members of Glasgow's finest satirical pop group The Plimptons. Amongst its targets are Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs, emo kids, and Ballboy. The strips vary in style and tone, from crude (and all the more amusing for it) Viz style japes, to dark, hallucinatory visions.
The West-Enders is spot on in its satire of pseudo-bohemian assholes as they search for drugs and hand out flyers for Heil Electro featuring DJ Wankstain and DJ Fud. As a fan of cheesey puns I have to doff my cap to the KS boys for inventing a Chinese restaurant called Don't Wok Run.
Very funny, very rude, go get!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Back in action

Apologies for the lack of blog action lately. This is what happens when your computer goes on the blink.
I have a couple of reviews lined up, but for the time being here's what's been...

Burnin' up the Beard stereo

Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
At long last! Slightly less noir than Blacklisted. Garth Hudson is all over it, playing strange and wonderful keyboards. Star Witness is quite possibly the greatest thing she's ever done - a gorgeous, evocative and deeply sad ode to a dead love.
Sonic Youth - Sonic Youth
First EP finally reissued with lots of bonuses. Very no-wave: sounds like ESG, Pil and Can. Well, it was 1981.
Thurston Moore - Psychic Hearts
Solo album from 1995 also reissued. Title track is an outsider anthem: "I bet you have a fucked up life..."
Sonic Youth - Sister
Not a reissue, just for the hell of it. Wild, brilliant, blazing. They've never done anything like Master Dik again. Mores the pity. I think it might just be their masterpiece.
Howe Gelb - Sno Angel Like You
Mr Giant Sand pits his sonic muck against a gospel choir to glorious results. His best since Chore of Enchantment. Look out for an interview in the next Beard!!!
Giant Sand - Centre of the Universe
Desert bubblegrunge! One of their best.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Kicking Against The Pricks
From my weekend second hand vinyl shopping excursions. Absolutely immense, thrilling version of All Tomorrow's Parties, and a beautiful By The Time I Get To Phoenix.
Kevin Ayers - Whatever We Bring She Sings
A Beard favourite and classic of English jazz-rock whimsy (ok, prog). Finally got my own, scuffed but playable, vinyl copy for £3 in Roxfam.
Emmylou Harris - Roses In The Snow
Stunning nu-bluegrass album from 1980. All star cast helping Emmylou out - Johnny Cash (awesome bass baritone vocals on Jordan), Willie, Dolly, Linda Rondstat. Amazing cover of The Boxer and one of the most sublime versions of Wayfayring Strangers ever recorded.
Lemonheads - Come On Feel
Evan Dando - Baby I'm Bored
Seeing the mighty Chris Brokaw has led me back to his old buddy Dando.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Football crazy!

Rather than lazing about on Sunday why not get yourself through to Edinburgh to watch some musicians take on their sworn enemies, us music journos, at five-a-side football?

King Creosote's Fence Collective, My Latest Novel, Aberfeldy, The
1990s, The Bees, and a team commanded by independent Scottish
magazine, is this music?, will compete with the cream of Scotland's
student sporting talent in the Tennent's Futsal Sessions. Football and beer eh? What a healthy combination!

Beard's own photo maestro Mark Connelly will be mowing down the opposition as part of the ITM? team.

Football legend and Scotland's most famous Joy Division fan Pat Nevin will oversee proceedings, which will take place at Edinburgh's World of Football from 1-5pm on Sunday February 5. Free buses will drive supporters from participating unions
to and from the event.

The winning university team will secure the chance to have all
participating bands play an exclusive FREE gig at their student union
on Thursday, March 2.

Following last year's celebrated Tennent's Football Sessions – which
saw hot-footed indie kings and musical victors Belle & Sebastian
narrowly robbed of the cup by overall winners Strathclyde University -
Tennent's Lager is set to further challenge musicians and academics
alike with a Brazilian variation on five-a-side: Futsal.

The tournament will take place on Sunday February 5th at Edinburgh's
World of Football (Corn Exchange) and is open to the public. It is

Participating Student Unions: Heriot Watt, Glasgow Caledonian,
Strathclyde, GUU, QMU, Edinburgh, Robert Gordon, Dundee, St Andrews,
Glasgow School of Art