Gig Review: Random Hand’s Comeback Show @ The Key Club, Leeds [17/04/2018]

Ska-core legends Random Hand return to the stage, with support from Mr Shiraz and Sounds of Swami.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Tom Marshall.

I’ve just walked out of a Random Hand gig drenched in sweat and spilled beer, having shouted my lungs hoarse and skanked non-stop for 45 minutes. It’s like 2013 all over again.

I can’t recall dancing quite so enthusiastically for a ska band since Random Hand went on hiatus in 2015; there are very few bands who give 110% live the way that they do at every single show. Tonight’s gig at the Key Club in their local city of Leeds is a special return to form ahead of a handful of festival shows this summer.

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Sounds of Swami (photo by Sarah)

Sounds Of Swami open the show, beginning with a slow, quiet section with just a bit of guitar and a gentle vocal. It’s the calm before the storm that they tear into late into the song. From Random Hand’s hometown of Keighley, they lend the show the vibe of a party with all your friends. They served as late replacements for Jesus & His Judgemental Father, but I’m much more excited to catch them, having gotten deeply into their album Furniture for Modern Living last year.

This humble four-piece are at the forefront of current post-hardcore, channelling bands like Sonic Youth and Fugazi in their own expert DIY fashion. They create a really gripping soundscape sweeps you up, lulls, then hurls you around the room. It’s lush, complex composition that’s interesting on record but utterly captivating live. There is an overwhelming amount of skill in this band that’s enabled them to be inventive and experimental with their sound. It also allows them to look totally at home with themselves on stage, producing a depth of sound that you wouldn’t think possible with just four instruments. They look like they’re having a great time doing it. Continue reading “Gig Review: Random Hand’s Comeback Show @ The Key Club, Leeds [17/04/2018]”

Album Review: Jake & The Jellyfish – Long In Winters

The new upbeat release from Leeds’ favourite DIY folk-punks is a witty, energetic stomper of a record. FFO: Ducking Punches, Matilda’s Scoundrels and Levellers.

Review by Sarah Williams.

I was very excited to hear that Jake & The Jellyfish were releasing a new album. Their last full-length, Dead Weight, was a splendid slice of upbeat folk punk; each song they deliver is foot-tapping, head-nodding, sing-along perfection. They’re also a band that guarantee a raucous live show, which they successfully replicate in the energy of their recorded material.

Their new record Long In Winters is due out on January 26th, with a shiny green vinyl version coming from Invisible Llama Music. At the base of all the songs is a solid unplugged guy-and-guitar ethos that is given a more expansive sound by the full band and the crystal-clear big-room production. Jake & The Jellyfish clearly take influence from traditional folk and riotous bands like the Levellers, but they modernise the sound with poppier ‘whoa-oh’ harmonies and a consistently fast, stomping tempo. The combination of electric guitar, fiddle, plaintive singing and relatable lyrics is irresistable.

Jake & The Jellyfish Long in Winters Album Review
Photo by David Peltan

The album kicks into action with bright electro-acoustic strumming on the opener Spokesdog. From the first bars we are introduced to Jake McAllister’s witty way with words and gritty, infectious vocal style. The song is uplifting with a sense of urgency behind it: performed solo-acoustic it could be a tearjerker, but instead it floods your stereo with emotive force, not dissimilar to the rousing feel Ducking Punches achieve with a full-band.

Second track, Reading List is more of a singalong opus, with an appealing little fiddle line woven into the mix. The words, “I need background noise so I can sleep, just turn on the radio and leave me be,” is an an ingeniously mundane statement. It’s aptly phrased insights like that which grant Jake & The Jellyfish such mass appeal. Similarly the opening lines to Graveyard (“We used to drink in the graveyard in town…”) encapsulate the experiences of every British teenager with enchanting simplicity. Graveyard is an uptempo stomper of a song, guaranteed to get you dancing whether it be in your bedroom, at your office desk or in sweaty basement venues around the country. Continue reading “Album Review: Jake & The Jellyfish – Long In Winters”

Gig Review: Pie Race Festival – Sunday

Sunday is recovery fun day at Leeds’ annual pastry-punk showdown, featuring Queen Zee & The Sasstones, Incisions, Pizzatramp and more.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Hold My Pint Photography. Videos nabbed from Razmoyork’s YouTube page.

Firstly, check out our review of Friday and Saturday’s Pie Race.

The Sunday mood at Pie Race is notably subdued. People slowly return to Wharf Chambers, begrudgingly accepting the need crack on with the drinking and pie consumption once again. The day starts with a bar full of bedraggled punks nursing mugs of coffee or gingerly pushing their way through their difficult first pint. That said, there is still a buzz of excitement for more noisy nonsense to come. Today’s bill has a distinct sense of fun – plenty of ska, no brutal hardcore – exactly what you need on a rough morning.

I am pleasantly surprised by Plot 32. They spent Saturday spreading the word about their band via the excessive distribution of badges, but playing themselves down by explaining they were so new to music that they’d only just learned to play their instruments. As such, I approached their set with very low expectations and was wowed to discover one of my favourite sets of the whole weekend. The room is full of warmth for this band; they play good, simple ska with a party vibe, perfect for the recovery that the crowd are in need of. They throw a little medley of Operation Ivy and the Vengaboys, plus a perky cover of Catch 22’s Keasbey Nights that’s deeply enjoyable. Just the injection of skanking fun you need after a wild Saturday night.

Whitby’s Panda Lasagne follow them with some standard-but-solid punk rock, apparently playing their first gig in Leeds for 11 years. They’ve got demonstrable hangovers much like the rest of us, but they’re still fun and fast. Tunes like Housewives’ Choice are fun, but it’s rock ‘n’ roll tunes like Witness that really get the room going.

The Crash Mats are exactly what my hangover needs right now. There is nothing remotely sad or downbeat about this brilliant little ska-punk band, it’s all funky bass lines and jumpy upstrokes (with a few bursts of fast hardcore thrown in for good measure). They start off strong with Terry Funk Forever and Party At Lou’s Place early on in the set. They know as well as we do that it’s time for some silly punk shenanigans, and they use all their I’ve-got-a-microphone powers to make it happen. Baz suggests that rather than a human pyramid we create a human sphinx: a concept that’s better in the imagination than it is in practice, although the eager crowd make a valiant attempt. We’re a lot more successful at creating a reverse wall of death – starting off in a mosh pit and ending the song in two neat rows. Soppy Love Song remains my favourite tune, but their closing track Get Me Off This Ride is a close second, describing an LSD-fuelled rollercoaster experience, completed by Baz’s demented laughter over a backing of jumpy ska-core.

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Next up are Snakerattlers, which is the moodier reimagining of The Franceens. They open with a song that is instrumental apart from a series of howled guttural noises, slightly bewildering the audience and warning them that they’re in for a wild ride. There’s a dusty Tijuana vibe to much of their death-punk stylings, conjuring a taste of hot sand and desolation. They perform with just a distorted electric guitar and drums stripped back to a snare, floor tom and a crash cymbal. It doesn’t sound like a lot written down, but it’s played with a captivating spit-in-your face attitude that’s impossible to ignore. Much like a rattlesnake, they’re slightly intimidating, although songs like Let You Go are catchy and danceable. Guitarist/singer Dan Gott falls backwards out into the crowd with his guitar for Rattlerock Rumble, bringing a more intimate element to the performance. It’s extremely cool, sultry, swagger-ful stuff.  Continue reading “Gig Review: Pie Race Festival – Sunday”

Gig Review: Pie Race Festival – Friday + Saturday

Pies, pals and pints at Leeds’ premier annual punk party. Featuring Matilda’s Scoundrels, Ducking Punches, Millie Manders, Nosebleed, Batwölf and many more.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Hold My Pint and Paul Hannah.

Pie Race is Leeds’ annual punk-stravaganza; a regular date in the Northern punk calendar since 2010. This year’s event saw three days of punk, pie and pals at Wharf Chambers: one of the most welcoming DIY venues I’ve ever visited. Friday’s show was like a regular gig, but Saturday and Sunday combined to make 22 hours of noisy fun and an absolutely pukka weekend. It’s more than just the music, though: Saturday also featured the festival’s famous pie-eating competition. In short(crust), it was more fun than swimming in a barrel of gravy, and I can’t wait do it all over again.

In the course of this write-up, I have attempted to celebrate not merely the punk, but also the pies. As such, I aim to punish you with pie references although (I wouldn’t pie to you) I slightly underestimated the sheer amount of effort it takes to write atrocious pie-jokes. I gave up halfway through Saturday’s write up, but there’s still plenty of pie. Enjoy.

Friday (PieDay?)

I arrived at Wharf  Chambers exceptionally early on Friday, but there were still plenty of pals to run into. Pie Butcher, sorry, Pat Butcher, are first up, featuring a very tall man playing a very small guitar. Jokes aside, they play some hearty hardcore, featuring a couple of seriously meaty beat-downs. The highlight of their set is their carrot race, presented as a precursor to Saturday’s pie race. As it turns out, watching five punks try to wolf down a whole carrot in a minute is an unforgettable experience, and surprisingly tricky for the contestants.

Due to The Zipheads running late, HollywoodFreyBentos Downstairs (better known as Hollywoodfun Downstairs) set up next. Watching this heavy duo from New Zealand is like a blast in the face from a hand grenade. They are the most memorable act I have seen all year; they’re a band who don’t abide pie the rules. They turn out the main lights and set up the drum kit, amps and mic stand in front of the stage. Illuminated only by bright white strip lights beside their amps, the venue takes on a surreal post-apocalyptic vibe. Musically it is a beautifully harsh cacophony of distortion and I can’t tear my eyes away from the show as the drummer hammers away with stunning, grind-level skill.

The Zipheads are a change of pace, opening with a super-bouncy version of rocksteady classic 54-46 Was My Number. They follow with upbeat covers of Sublime, the Flintstones soundtrack and Got to Pick a Pocket or Two from Oliver, plus their own original material. In their own words they offer, “Sloppily played rock ‘n’ roll,” with the double-bass dressed up as a pint of Guinness (ideal as both a filling or an accompaniment to pie) giving it more of a rockabilly feel.  Continue reading “Gig Review: Pie Race Festival – Friday + Saturday”