Tag Archives: Leicester

Mike Watt, the Missingmen & the Hyphenated Man

Mike Watt 01

 

The righteous and iconic Mike Watt came back to my locality recently. Last March we got Il Sogno Del Mariano and this time we got The Hyphenated Man. Watt is an iconic musician with a thumb print on last 30 years of indie/punk playing with the Minutemen, Firehose, Sonic Youth, the Stooges and J Mascis but he still pushes at the gates with his own projects. Lasts nights performance was pre-apologised with “thank you for joining us for this fucked up piece of music”. No apology needed. The Hyphenated Man is a 45 minute power opera made up of 30 related sections. There’s was barely time to draw breath between the sections. This so utterly committed three piece (Watt on bass, Tom Watson on guitar & Raul Morales on drums) blast through the piece with precision and heart.

Mike Watt & the Missingman 02

The piece dates back to 2006 and is apparently based on characters in the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch. A quick scan of the track list makes this a little more evident;

Arrow-Pierced-Egg-Man
Beak-Holding-Letter-Man
Hammering-Castle-Bird-Man
Bird-In-The-Helmet-Man
Belly-Stabbed-Man
Stuffed-In-The-Drum-Man
Baby-Cradling-Tree-Man
Hollowed-Out-Man
Finger-Pointing-Man
Own-Horn-Blowing-Man
Fryingpan-Man
Head-And-Feet-Only-Man
Shield-Shouldered-Man
Cherry-Head-Lover-Man
Pinned-To-The-Table-Man
Mouse-Headed-Man
Antlered-Man
Confused-Parts-Man
Bell-Rung-Man
Boot-Wearing-Fish-Man
Thistle-Headed-Man
Funnel-Capped-Man
Blowing-It-Out-Both-Ends-Man
Jug-Footed-Man
Lute-And-Dagger-Man
Mockery-Robed-Man
Hill-Man
Hell-Building-Man
Man-Shitting-Man
Wheel-Bound-Man

The piece is described as a punk opera or the third opera following Contemplating The Engine Room & the Secondmans Middle Stand.

Mike Watt & the Missingmen 02

 

I can’t explain the narrative yet. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Watt has history with short punchy songs. The Minutemen almost invented the genre and have a solid history of juggling themes as they try to start broader conversations outside of the punk scene. You can hear the whole thing here.

My pictures are a little hit & miss. The Cookie in Leicester is a tiny cellar venue and whilst the gig wasn’t packed the surge to the front by bodies broader and taller than mine was enough to keep me on the narrow edge.

A quick mention for the support as we’ll.

Echolocation are a Leicester band of some note. A varying line up but Saturdays small crew did an interesting job. Reminded me in some ways of John Cooper Clarke stream of consciousness with jazz/post-punk soundtrack (like the Sir George Robey on a Sunday in 1992). The inclusion of trumpet really worked as well.

Mike Watt & the Missingman 03

Lazarus Clamp were also original and engaging. I swear I know the singer/guitarist from somewhere which was distracting. A touch of Wire in there as well as a more contemporary folky Midlakey thing. A couple of big songs with some well placed sonic dynamics.

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//We tHrEE aND tHe DeAtH Rattle //

WTATDR01

In a slightly irresponsible move We Three and the Death Rattle suggested I might like to review their eponymous first full album. This is dangerous because I’m not a music critic and am liable to use the opportunity for some kind of self vindication of cultural back story and would probably use the sort of snarky and convoluted turn of phrase a professional would never employ. Oh well……

WTATDR are a Leicester based trio of musicians who I’ve seen a couple of times. The first time supporting Josh T Pearson, the second time supporting Mike Watts Il Sogno Del Mariano project. They are an excellent live band. They are loud, committed, skilled and without overt pretence. The singer fills out the sound with maracas and a skill for Theremin teasing as the the others pound out primal bluesy, ripped up r’n’r without the hint of an affected accent. They prowl on their musical references avoiding pastiche and obvious reference. You might find the odd sign post in the lyrics – witchery, black cats, jackknife truck wrecks, swamp dwellers, playboy dolls suicide – more colour than narrative. The broken hearts seem grateful for being given a sense of purpose, alligators bite as it’s in their nature and bombs are built to explode – so lets get on and do this thing.

WTATDR Cover

Playing the album a few times over the last week I’m convinced that there is some local Grebo DNA filtering through. That pounded out in local boozer back room sound, sticky on the floor Converse soles, tattoos and check print shirt styling (sans sleeves) & fuzzed up glam punk mid-west buzz cut reminds me off ancient Leicester band Gaye Bykers on Acid (and in turn Bomb Party & Crazy Head) all urban funsters building on their teen influences and scratching grooves in vinyl of their own. I still have a deep fondness for that period of music. The missing link between an mis-remembered antecedent and the next big thing that forgot to happen. Grebo was an industrial post-NWOBHM blip that was shouted down by Grunge. It was way to hardcore and poorly scrubbed for quiet/loud dynamics being occupied by anthemic hooks, glam zombies, broken glitter balls and fuzzed up noise.

This is Hey Detonator!

A couple of reviews I’ve found elsewhere suggest the song set doesn’t progress but there’s no need to look for that. Of the 11 tracks, four that I’m aware of have been single or EP lead songs. These are the most rounded songs with the deeper grooves (Alligators, InPatients, Hey Detonator, Split Lips) and have probably had the most studio time spent on them. There are distorted textures and layers in most of the other tracks that are worth the attention – a flute, an organ break, a particularly squally guitar, a almost utterly dog audible Theremin break, a percussive and jazzy drum fill- all well executed sketches which, give them a decent advance and bunch more studio time would fill out and and push up the pulse rate. The guitar sound is really knocking on the door of the classic Cramps – broken blues, sub-pop – and with more overdubs and Dinosaur Jr sized stacks might break out and fly even higher.

This is Alligators….

As mentioned at the beginning they are a really good live band. They look, act and sound the part & play with conviction. Give them some bigger PA, larger audiences and longer sets and they will most likely wail & growl even louder. Listen to the CD on 10, 11 if you have it, it’s r’n’r after all. And they have a Theremin which is a total win, so everything’s groovy baby. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

Track List

01: Down Out And Deep Fried
02: Hot Neptune
03: Stitches And Winners
04: Split Lips
05: Inpatients
06: Bipolarcoaster
07: Alligators
08: Double Or Quits
09: Hey Detonator!
10: You’re My Ammunition
11: Bitten By Dust

Released by http://www.pawpurrrecords.com

You can buy it here on Bandcamp which is way more Rock’n’Roll than iTunes http://pawpurr.bandcamp.com

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WTATDR & Il Sogno Del Marinaio

WTATDR Cookie Jar

Some times you know something is likely to be good. The stars align, the the augers mutter in agreement.

I saw //We tHrEE aND tHe DeAtH tattle // a year or so ago supporting Josh T. Pearson. They are a local (well Leicester) three piece combo. All primal drums, crashing guitar, twisted blues, hollered vocals…. and theremin …played with maracas. How could that not work.

I follow their FaceBook page and a few weeks ago they posted their appearance at the the Cookie Jar supporting Il Sogno Del Marinaio. The venue is a tiny basement, maybe 100 capacity and listening to the soundcheck from upstairs in the bar it promised to be a dangerous sonic experience. WTHATDR played for about 40 minutes, a tight set, really controlled noise and more certain in their ability then I remember.

Here is one of the highlights of the set.

I don’t know their names, they are a mystery. Perhaps how it should be. Hit and run music that hangs around like an unexpected dream.

WTATDR Cookie Jar 2

Il Sogno Del Marinaio also trade in dreams. Playing Coltrane before coming on stage should have been a clue. With bass, guitar and drums, and given Mike Watts history in the Minutemen, the Missingman and as bass player in the resurrected Stooges the flying jazz of the set was an unexpected aspect. The set included all the songs from the album “La Busta Gialla”. This is more of a song cycle or tone poem than a rock record. It has echoes of Western soundtracks, mariachi, percussive euro jazz and edgy proto grunge. Other than Watt the band is guitarist Stefano Pilla and drummer Andrea Balfi. Both are exceptional skilled. This so evidently a project they have all contributed equally towards.

Mike Watt Cookie Jar

This is the song ‘The Tiger Princess’. Its representative of the record, this with Watt telling a mariners recollection of dream.

Mike Watt is a legend. I last saw him chomping a stogie and playing with J Mascis & the Fog (probably the loudest thing I have ever witnessed). He played with Sonic Youth, fIREHOSE and half a dozen of his own bands. He has a long slow drawl and probably isn’t averse to the odd brewskis or finger of bourbon. You wouldn’t mess. A big man and a big personality.

Mike Watt Cookie Jar2

The gig was the penultimate date on a tour that has covered must of Europe. Definitely one of the most original and interesting gigs I’ve seen in a long time. Catch up with the album.

Here’s a brief live performance and an interview with Watts.

 

And finally this because its great……

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#Sandergram @LeicesterMuseum

As part of my ‘day job’ I have been able to offer support to Leicester Museum & Leicester College for the period of the August Sander exhibition and the associated educational/social engagement project #sandergram.

Sander was a forerunner in the social photography idiom, creating iconic images of the social structure in the mid war period of the twentieth century. The current exhibition of photographs at the New Walk Museum in Leicester is required viewing for students of photography, street photography and social journalism. Many of the pictures on show have been reprinted from glass plate negatives by Sanders grandson and have a rare and striking authenticity.

The #sandergram project provides an engagement channel for photographers to contribute their own images to a Flickr stream which will form part an educational program organised through Leicester College. Selected images will be exhibited in March 2013 at the Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery.

Sanders main body of work used a very pure form of image with the subjects being ‘eye to lens’, full length portraits in their normal environment. The exhibition illustrates every level of German society with pictures of great artistic merit and conformational clarity.

I submitted the image above through Flickr and I would encourage any photographers who see this to contribute. The project will be more successful if they receive more submissions from local, national & international photographers.

If you have a Flickr account search #sandergram and add to their feed. Alternatively you can submit by Twitter. Send your picture to @leicestermuseum and include the hastgag #sandergram. Include the name of your picture in the message. You can visit their website here at www.sandergram.org and view the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/leicestermuseums

Please join in and send your submissions so that they can create a create a representative window on the people of the world. Look at Sanders images first and remember its the subject that is key.

In the mean time, here are some more of my recent portraits including DBoy5.11 & BabyJ2.07. I particularly like the the last one.

For more about August Sander and to view an archive of works visit the Art Sy page here

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Nottingham Castle Open 2012

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One of the best parts of my day job is being able to get involved in various art projects, exhibitions and events. With the WEYA season coming to a close over the last two weeks I’ve been working with the staff at New Walk Museum in Leicester on the August Sander – Artists Rooms Exhibition and accompanying educational project, and on Saturday evening, the preview of the Annual Nottingham Castle Open.

The Sander show is really engaging, social photography from the mid war period in Weimar Germany. All walks of society painstakingly photographed, right at the beginning of the process. Many of the images on display have been handprinted by Sanders grandson Gerd, who was present at the preview. The exhibition is very much worth a view if you are in the area. New Walk is a great public museum with a big focus on educational engagement at all levels and is a credit to the staff and the City Council.

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The Castle Museum, Nottingham is another great venue and I hope that the consultation currently underway, leads down the right path. Nottingham has a huge historical past and whether it’s Robin Hood or Charles the First, a lot could be done to develop an awareness of our cultural heritage.

The Open Exhibition is always enjoyable and I have been nominating prize winners of the (ssshhhh day job) prize for the last 5 or 6 years. This year I chose Lucy Stevens, a print maker from Leicester and Peter Jackson, a photographer from Nottingham. I’m an ex printmaker so have always had an affection for printmaking & Peter’s photograph of the Forest Recreation Ground reminded me of living in the area, being stuck in traffic there and taking the children for walks there. Its was a great mix of social & landscape photography and I hope he benefits from the prize.

It was a very pretty evening light and weather wise so heres a little gallery of images.

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In the next few weeks I’m helping out at Derby Museum and with more events around the Sander exhibition. All very enjoyable and hopefully worthwhile for all.

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