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Archive for July, 2014

NEW ZEALAND’S INDEPENDENT scene remains as buoyant as ever with startlingly illuminating bands emerging all the time. But you would hardly know it given the mainstream coverage of a small group of artists. Porky has given immense coverage over the past five years to Kiwi bands of all flavours and two new releases give us more seed to plant.

LucklessLuckless have been doing something that’s almost a novelty these days: they’ve spent the past two years touring. Everywhere. Strangely, they’ve relocated from Auckland to the quake-ravaged port town of Lyttelton, a move that has if anything provided some inspiration for their second album, Vindication Blues. “I watch the lights on the harbour as they dance into my glass/ And as the concrete crumbles I’m stealing landscapes from the past.”

Luckless are the vehicle for the songwriter Ivy Rossiter who already, whether she likes it or not, has drawn comparisons with Anna Calvi and PJ Harvey. The music is dark, but you might expect that from such an album title. Rossiter’s writing is lucid, intense and poetical; the songs veer from campside ballads to rousing ballbreakers, notably Better Than Being Blue for the former, Road Retreats for the later. Dry Eyes is, inevitably, the song that is most likely to tease out those tired analogies to PJ Harvey but it’s tenuous and otherwise the band’s influences are multifarious.

At times this is an uneasy listen, but one that is enthralling and gripping.

MinderbenderMeanwhile, Wellington duo Minderbender make their first foray into recorded music, with an album called Emotions, which is exactly that: each track is based around a feeling.

It’s grimy electro-indie with commitment. Post-punk references abound, Gary Numan is notable, as is Ultravox, the pre-Midge Ure late 70s version that is. They veer from energetic synth-killers on Persuasion, to strangling the cat on Ambivalence. Emotions is certainly varied and complex, just like people.

It’s worth listing all the emotions they cover: Expectations/ Amnesia/ Evasion/ Disdain/ Stimulation/ Euphoria/ Dystopia/ Ambivalence/ Persuasion/ Infatuation/ Trepidation/ Acquiescence.

Minderbender.bandcamp.com

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PETE FIJ AND TERRY BICKERS come from two different backgrounds; belonging to groups that had very differing effects on Porky. Bickers Broken Heart Surgerywas the edgy, demonstrative guitarist for the House of Love – and still is when they make occasional forays into the world of pop. Readers of  this blog will be well aware of the love affair this scribbler has had with the quartet since 1988, and rightly so.

Fij – an abbreviated form of his gloriously Polish surname which would get about 50 points in Scrabble – was part of Adorable and Polak, with whom neither Porky nor the public at large became overly familiar with.

They’ve teamed up for a ten-track album, Broken Heart Surgery, which consists largely of acoustic tracks, a format we would normally bypass, but Downsizing was one of last year’s finest pop songs, with a stunning video comprising only of closed-down shops. See the link below. It is truly English with its self-effacing look on life: “It’s nothing personal, she said, in the email that was sent, you could say – I was surplus to requirements.”

As the album title might suggest the protagonists are recovering from a love gone amiss, with typical gallows humour and an ability to mock life’s embedded proverbs and philosophies. The duo take a pot shot at the old saying that it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all on Loved & Lost.

“Whoever said that,” Fij drawls, before pausing for breath. “should be shot”.

Life in many ways is played out as a social media experiment, on a timeline where everyone sees the anger and the joy, but not the complexities of it all, and in which one half feels like they’re regarded as a “a voucher code, a free download, the latest plug-in” (Out of Time).

Pete and TelIt’s Porky’s personal desire for an album to be upbeat, jaunty, to contain songs I can hum or whistle along to while making breakfast; so slower, more intense tracks like Sound of Love don’t quite catch the ear in the same that Breaking Up would. But one man’s meat etc, and I know a man in East Anglia who would say the exact opposite to me.

Broken Heart Surgery is a touching critique of modern love, noting the distractions technology and communication can have, removing some of the personal aspects of an affair. It’s written in the manner of the mood swings that love brings and takes, but often with delectable irony.

http://petefijterrybickers.com/

 


 

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Repeat 4R*E*P*E*A*T IS A fanzine/ website, a record label, and part of music’s war against fascism and hate. It was started in Cambridge 20 years ago by Richard Rose, with A4 fanzines bloated with interviews, record and gig reviews and rants. It looked like a fanzine should do, messy with more emphasis on words than layout. The record label has featured numerous East Anglian and national bands including Miss Black America, Johnny Panic, The Virgin Suicides, The Dawn Parade and the latest release has S*M*A*S*H re-doing the incendiary (I Want To) Kill Somebody, updating the list of figures of hate, with anti-Tory rapper NxtGen on the other side. Please check the website as it has so much more, and buy some excellently priced records. http://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk/

I spoke to Richard recently about the past 20 years, and now.

Porky: You were inspired to write a fanzine by the Manic Street Preachers, what exactly was it about the Manics you found so invigorating?

Rosey: Mix of glamour, bookishness, politics, sex, shyness, energy, anger and intelligence. Having been too young for the Pistols and The Clash, they were the band I’d been waiting for all my life.

Porky: The Manics of 1990-92 were incendiary and a class above most bands of the time. Have you been disappointed at some of the material they have produced post-Generation Terrorists, particularly from the early 2000s?

Miss Black America

Miss Black America

Rosey: Yes but I usually get over it. And maybe go onto understand it. For instance “If You Tolerate This…” may sound very middle of the road and unthreatening, but with it the band managed to smuggle a song about fighting Fascism into number one spot of the hit parade. With recent election results across Europe, it’s more relevant now than ever. Porky: What other bands should the world be listening, alive or dead, East Anglia and beyond? Rosey: My answers are going to be R*E*P*E*A*T related as otherwise the question is too large -of course I’d say all of our releases, but especially in the context of this discussion I’d say in this context – S*M*A*S*H, Johnny Panic, Miss Black America, Ten City Nation, Virgin Suicides, The Resistance, Beverley Kills, Rats As Big As Dogs, NxtGen…

Porky: What’s the biggest coup for the zine? And your favourite interviews, feedback, records, freebies?

Repeat 2Rosey: Releases by two of my favourite bands that I was already a massive fan of and never thought to work with  – Johnny Panic and S*M*A*S*H. Once we interviewed three bands in one night – from memory Dweeb (me), The Bluetones (Rowan Collinson) and Catatonia (Rowan). Radio One play for our first ever single which we couldn’t even afford to print labels for. Spilling orange squash on Steve Lamacq. Rowan interviewing Cornershop when they were number one. Rowan going onto work for Radio One Making records that when they come up on shuffle on my music player I think – ‘this is fantastic’, before I realise that I helped put it out! Taking The Hammers to play live to 11 million people on Blue Peter.

Porky: A major factor in the zine is your anti-fascist stance, and you have organised anti-fascist marches in Cambridge. Given that the racist Ukip has an alarming level of support, while the fascist British National Party and English Defence League gain excessive amounts of publicity, what needs to be done to counter these mobs?

Rosey: I think the tactics we’ve used over the past years have been proved to be successful. The BNP looks set to be going bust and the zombie EDL are split and weak. And they always blame us for this, which shows we are right to constantly expose and confront them. But you are right, UKIP provides a different challenge. Clearly not Fascists, they rely on nasty populist anti migrant racism, telling lies and half truths which make sense to people who’ve not had experience of living in mixed cultures, including some who are alienated from the mainstream political process for reasons I can well understand. They are hard to counter as they are democratic (unlike Fascists) but I think their racism needs to be taken on as it is shifting all political discourse rightwards. Recently, we had a Love Music Hate Racism stage at a local festival where we raised the question of opposing UKIP, and there is the beginnings of a united front to counter UKIP’s poison, Stand Up to UKIP http://standuptoukip.org/

Porky: Have you experienced any intimidation/ violence from the far-right for your activities? Rosey: Just the usual – nasty texts, calls, shouts Repeat 3in the street, nothing physical for a very long time, fingers crossed… Porky: There is little alternative other than a lacklustre Labour Party and the Greens to the ConDem’s cut-at-will brutalistic policies. Why is the left not capitalising on the resentment to such things as the Bedroom Tax?
Rosey: No alternative exists at the moment, there are small groups eg TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) but without the media coverage Farage gets they will never do well, or at least not without an outbreak of mass strikes, civil disobedience etc – I think that’s the key to how people’s ideas change quickly. You can read in the Daily Mail about Romanians stealing your houses or your job, but when you are striking or marching alongside one, or you’re working together to stop a Bedroom Tax eviction,  you realise who is really on your side. Also successful battles give people the confidence that things can change – for instance in my primary school in a leafy suburb, most colleagues would agree with me about (Education Minister) Michael Gove and the Tories and also how Labour offer no alternative, but getting them to take action to fight for an alternative takes time and persuasion and patience and understanding.

Seeing somebody else win a battle elsewhere would really lift us all. But when Union leaders use action as token and then demobilise it again, it can be demoralising. Some of the European votes in the Euro elections do show that the Left can grow again very fast, as I am sure it will.

Porky: I recently interviewed Ranting Jack from xBomb Factory, and he said the band’s websites had several visits from police computers. Do you think the authorities do the same with Repeat. Do they buy any records?!
Rosey: There was an article in the Guardian. The police come to our anti Fascist meetings and try to recruit spies. No doubt they’ll have looked at the website too – I know they have as they’ve turned up at our meetings. Maybe at gigs too – not that I am bothered, we have nothing to hide, we work by being open and involving as many people as we can – as long as they pay to get in! http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/17/cambridgeshire-police-political-activists-informants I do hope they bought the last record “(I Want To) Kill Somebody”!!… caught by the fuzz! Porky: You recently released a single by S*M*A*S*H who share your love of asterixes and were, with the Manics, one of the bands that had attitude and positivism. How did this project come about? Rosey: Yes, we nicked their S*T*A*Rs, they actually inspired us to set up R*E*P*E*A*T just about as much as The Manics, especially the DIY creativity they showed was possible. We interviewed them in ‘94 (see pix http://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk/archive/Smash.htm ) and I went to many, many gigs. In 2013 Ed sent me the new version of Kill Somebody and I thought it a waste not to publicise it more widely. NxtGen on the flip side is a fantastic young rapper /poet who shows that the anger still exists, and I think that the single with its beautiful picture disc artwork really hangs together well, something I am very proud of!

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