Sunday, November 27, 2011

Atlas Sound - Parallax

Atlas Sound's Parallax, the solo project of Deerhunter's Bradford Cox is like walking down the path of a luscious garden while barefoot.  It's not all wiggling your toes in the clover, there are a few prickly dark holes to watch for along the way, but overall you will thoroughly enjoy your stroll.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Celebration of John Robb

If you follow me then you know I like to travel around the Twitter World finding interesting people and I'm rather fond of music too. I don't remember exactly when I started following John Robb and going on daily treks to his music site, "Louder Than War", but it was on his birthday, May 4, 2011 that I decided to celebrate his life and his career. I had to put things on a back burner due to personal issues, but here we go, better late than never:


John Robb has turned fifty and shows no signs of slowing down. It's a good time for us to celebrate his extensive achievements and contributions. I couldn't possibly list everything he has accomplished in one blog post, in fact I need a flow chart to sort it all out, but I am going to try to do him justice.

John is a musician, producer, author, mentor, television personality, journalist, and blogger. I recently heard him referred to as "One of Manchesters Finest Sons" and he is a frequent and much sought after music authority and contributes to a variety of music blogs and magazines.

John Robb was born in Fleetwood, England on May 4TH, 1961 and grew up in Blackpool. He was undoubtedly a darling baby and a rascal of a little boy. I would almost bet that he asked "why and what for" more than the average little bear. He was born into one of the best decades in our history. The sixties were a time of change, so it's no surprise that John, growing up in these times, would embrace and enhance a genre of music that was without a doubt original and vital. Punk Rock.

Punk was finding a voice and between 1974 and 1976 punk rock music was a growing, evolving experiment, there was an anti-establishment, hard-edged, stripped down sound blasting out out of garages all over the world,  but it was 1977 that is considered the: The Year Punk Exploded and it was in 1977 that sixteen year old John Robb took it on.  John took it on and tattooed his brand on it.

Now here is the story I heard and it's a great story so I hope it's true.  John Robb and his mate, Mark Tilton were so inspired by puck rock that they formed the post punk band "The Membranes" while attending Blackpool Sixth Form College. The part of the story I love is that Rob built his own bass out of spare parts and a slab of wood and that Mark bought a 'Woolworth's special' guitar from a junk shop and they used dustbin lids instead of drums. DIY!  Also interesting to note is that their drummer, "Coofy Sid" (Coulthart) was only thirteen when he started with the band. A wee baby! I guess it was a good mix because the band stayed together from 1977 through 1990.

The Membranes first recording was "Ice Age", but the first single proper was Muscles 1982. The band signed with Criminal Damage Records and would have been the first band to sign with Creation Records and Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder would have been the first release for Creation, but alas,  Alan McGee had no money for the studio so they stayed with Criminal.

   Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder  1984

The band left or were asked to leave Creation after a night that went wrong from the beginning. The way I read it is that an argument broke out over a mix up in billing. There was a Creation Records night gig and The Membranes were supposed to be headlining, but the promoter drew lots and it ended up with Slaughter Joe headlining which made The Membranes fans miss seeing them and they took it out on Slaughter Joe who was Alan McGees best friend who then released The Membranes from Creation. A third group, The Pastels walked out in support of The Membranes. The band then signed to In Tape, the label run by Marc Riley and in 1986 they released Songs of Love and Fury which was their breakthrough album in the USA

The Murder of Sister George from Songs of Love and Fury: 1986

During his time with The Membranes, John Robb also started a fanzine - Rox and his own label - Vinyl Drip Records and produced bands, Slinky and Therapy? and co-produced Cornershop.

The Membranes released 10 albums and 10 singles between 1980 and 1997 plus a compilation. I won't list all the band changes or Discography here , I am hoping to finish this before Johns next birthday.

When the band split in 1990, Robb formed Sensurround and released two singles.

Goldblade was formed in 1994 by John Robb with Wayne Simmons and former A Witness vocalist Keith Curtis on bass, Rob Haynes on drums and Jay Taylor on guitar. I like this description from The Independents they describe Goldblade as "a shamelessly fundamentalist collision of The Ramones, James Brown and The Stooges".

The band has toured the world multiple times and have so far released nine albums and eleven singles including "City Of Christmas Ghosts" (2008) Damaged Goods (featuring the late Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex)
Please take a moment to read the touching tribute John Robb wrote on the day Poly Styrene /Marianne Joan Elliott-Said passed.  Poly Styrene RIP.

Goldblades first single was Soul Power  It was single of the week in the NME.

Strictly Hardcore was their third single and made the UK Singles Charts
(A fan made video) 

Check out GoldbladesYouTube, you can see Johns Show-Reel and watch videos of The Membranes and Goldblade.

John has eight published works.
You can purchase one of John Robbs books at Amazon.   I am anxious to read  Punk Rock: An Oral History

Psycho from Rebel Yells (2005)

I think my favorite is Riot Riot from Mutiny. I also know why. I am a pirate and Mutiny is "best described as piratical-punk" according to this reviewer at "The Quietus
Riot Riot from Mutiny (2008)

I have barely touched on all that John Robb has accomplished in his first fifty years . Commitment to community, time devoted to charities, media and literary contributions, honing and exploring his art, quite a resume from the boy who had to build his first guitar from scraps and it looks like he is just getting warmed up.

Here's to the next fifty years, John Robb!

UPDATE: 11/15/2011 John has been voted 'Indie Champion of the Year' at the prestigious AIM music awards 2011!

 Here is a video of John talking about the award:

For those of you that read this far - here is a bonus:

The John Robb Stalker Kit 
Kit includes: Twitter, Louder Than War, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace Links
              Goldblades MySpace

 from my room - db

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Stepkids

I am excited about this self-titled LP from The Stepkids. I have found the perfect album. It satisfies my cravings for the familar while offering a topping of fresh beats. It makes me tingle.

These three musician/songwriters, Jeff Gitelman - guitarist, Dan Edinberg - Bassist/keyboards and Tim Walsh - drummer (NYC/Connecticut based) have taken a decade of experience and created a fresh, unique yet retro sound.  The best description I can give is if you took yesterdays psychedelia, mixed in some of today's fresh electro and then threw in a touch of funky soul. It works. You just have to listen:


Band website: The Stepkids Twitter: @thestepkids Facebook: The Stepkids