Tag Archive: adam crosland


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149371_10152435420009290_5033964773938942595_nWith a record number of, mainly, original music gigs taking place this week, I am going to forego the usual meandering introduction and just jump straight in. And I’ll start at The Victoria, the main cause of such a glut of new music descending on the town. Tonight is the first night of Vic-Fest, a four-day celebration of original bands, each night curated by a different local promoter and varying in its target audience.

 

Laura Kidd aka She Makes War played for Songs of Praise as a solo act getting on for a year ago and now as part of her national tour she brings the full band show back into town. Her breathtakingly honest gloom-pop, distils a creative punk spirit and is the perfect headline for this night of alternative sounds. Tour support, Forgery Lit add a dirty, grunge blues to the night and the alt-country punk of Coasters will be lapped up by fans of such bands as The Gaslight Anthem.

 

Whether you catch Robert Brown fronting Smouldering Sons or solo, as he is tonight at The Beehive, there is so much to enjoy in the blends of Americana, blues rock and folky vibes that dance around this musical creations.

 

Friday at The Victoria and Fairview Promotions take us down a reggae path. Backbeat Soundsystem take a traditional reggae vibe, inject it with funk, dub and ska and then kick it up into a higher gear to create a bass driven party groove. Festival favourites Dub The Earth and King Solomon Band deliver fresh takes on the genre and openers The Nomarks offer a more ska based set to kick off the night.

 

Back at The Beehive and the folk ‘n’ roll of The Model Folk, a beautiful cacophony of wheezing harmonium, scratchy washboard, throbbing double bass and various acoustica, create a very different, but just as brilliant, party soundtrack. Midway between those two venues, some wonderful singer-songwriter sets can be had at The Regent courtesy of Drew Bryant and Nick Felix and if classic rock and metal standards are more your thing, then Bad Obsession at The Rolleston is the gig for you.

 

Day three at The Victoria, or Saturday as the rest of us call it, really steps things up a gear and showcases the best new bands at the harder end of rock. It’s always a pleasure to watch The Manic Shine (pictured) not just for their technical expertise and the sheer infectiousness of their songs, but also because they manage to give a lesson in stage performance than many bands would be wise to take note of. They are joined by Vault of Eagles who play a wonderfully primal brand of twisted rock that falls somewhere between The Bad Seeds and P J Harvey. Punk and metal fuse together in The Graphic’s warped art attacks (check out their video The Kid….do it now!) and local support comes from local rising stars, Ghost of Machines and stalwarts The Starkers.

 

It is quite apt that in a week that marked 15 years since we lost the lyrical genius, singer, artist, actor and madman, Ian Dury, that The Blox, a tribute to his years fronting The Blockheads, are playing at The Rolleston. Expect all the caustic wit and kitchen sink wisdom, not to mention exceptional musicianship that made the original band so…well, original.

If you are after something altogether more funky then, Funk’daMental play funk and disco classics at The Swiss Chalet and the after party tunes can be found at Level 3 as Beats and Bars mixes live acts with DJ’s to showcase the best of the current wave of hip-hop acts.

 

Sunday at The Victoria rounds off with a night of metal courtesy of Dredded Vyrus. Main act Skreamer manage to combine the grandeur and pomp of classic metal with the primal growl and speed of its current direction whilst Antoinette offer a more contemporary post-metalcore sound. Belial and Ursus open the night’s proceedings.

 

It’s blues and R’n’B (the boogie guitar sort not the lip synched, dance routine sort) all the way with Built For Comfort at The Rolleston and punk, ska and new wave covers are to be found at The Swiss Chalet with Operation ’77.

 

At The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday hosts ex-Haiku frontman Phil Cooper and his Neil Finn comparable musical earworms with a rare, short set from the mercurial Adam Crosland to kick the night off.

adam-singEveryone needs a change of scene and Adam Crosland’s return to recording after the demise of Babies vs. Rabies has been as swift as the music has been unexpected. With a string of bands behind him that really pushed the boundary of wall of noise as an art form, the last thing you would expect would be and album of warped and whimsical folk-horror songs. Then again never one to pander to expectations, I guess this is exactly what we should have seen coming.

I say folk-horror in that even when Adam is toying with the standard singer-songwriter formats, there is something dark and disturbing at the root of it. The seemingly childlike innocence and fairy-tale nature of some of the lyrical content lies somewhere between Jackanory and turning a corner in a hotel corridor and bumping into the two sisters from The Shinning. Musically songs such as A Mid-Summer Nights Requiem evokes Mercury Rev trying to capture their ornate sounds during a power cut, no synths, no clever tricks, just hand carved instruments strung with barbed wire inspired by dreams brought on by eating too much cheese before bedtime.

The five track e.p. of newly and re-recorded songs is given added bonus by the fact that it is accompanied by Fusty Books  a collection of 8 older songs that are no less beguiling and off-kilter.

I guess the songs make more sense when you look at Adams other creative ventures, particularly in paint.  A follower of the Billy Childish Stuckist manifesto of art of spiritual value regardless of style, subject or medium, his own works have a similar naivety and confrontational simplicity and this could be their soundtrack.

If you think that the singer-songwriter genre is one overburdened with wannabes and copyists, then Sing For Your Life will come as a breath of…well, if not fresh, certainly strange, intoxicating and earthy air blowing from the woods that your mother always warned you not to play in.

The chance to write about new Super Squarecloud music is always something I look forward to. Along with Crash and The ‘Coots and Adam Crosland’s myriad art-noise manifestations, they are a band that make you feel good about the local music gene pool. If evolution relies on unexpected and random mutations then the same can be said about music and the fact that the afore-mentioned bands have discarded fashion, rules, perceived wisdom and even occasionally logic, means that musical boundaries shouldn’t get too comfortable about their present locations. Rather than opt for the same progression of nostalgia, revival and formula, Super Squarecloud are true innovators and Stanford Torus is a great calling card.

 

Whilst they have always been wonderfully challenging, recent gigs by Super Squarecloud have shown that they have managed to harness the inherent weirdness and package it up in borderline pop-friendly packages. The best example of this comes as the opening salvo of this three-track offering, Lolly Moon. Okay, humans still don’t have enough limbs to properly dance to the tune but it comes closer to conventional grooves than a lot of their work has. But then again in the live environment most people are too fixated on the band themselves to be bothered about wig flipping and rug cutting. Time changes abound, instruments come and go, world records for simultaneous playing of instruments are attempted, all within the luscious ebbs and flows of the song.

 

And if Lolly Moon finds them coming closest to conforming to the general perception of accessible pop, what follows finds them at their most divergant. Hana B lilts forward in a more conventional but less immediate way, soothing rather than punchy, slowly gaining layers of electronica rather than going for unexpected dynamic effect.

 

Abacus is where the band really turns a corner. One off techno-indulgence or the shape of things to come? Exciting prospect! This instrumental workout seems to push the musical arsenal to its extreme, weaving layers of affected and manipulated sounds with organic percussion.

 

I think what makes Super Squarecloud walk different paths to most bands is their base influences, after all you can only know where you are going if you know where you have come from. Whereas most bands have common backgrounds, blues, soul, America, beat, sex, love, cliché, this seems to come from a more interesting place – art, noise, technology, ideas. Maybe it’s the sound of one possible alternative fantasy future that pop might have had if it had not been born of blues, wooden materials, anger, lust and poverty. What if it had been born of metal, technology, the avant-garde, abstract art, and modern comfort? The music of What If and Why Not?

 

This e.p. marks the first of a series of releases that act as a teaser for a full-blown debut album that is nearing completion. So where do they go from here? Anywhere they damn well choose to!