Friday, 14 December 2012

Issue 3.4 Released

We are very pleased to announce our final issue of the year, 3.4, is now complete and ready for you to hunt out and devour. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter to see where they end up, though we always get some to The Hop, Diamond Studios, Trad Music, Jam Gifts (Wakefield) and Crash Records, Jumbo Records, Nation Of Shopkeepers, Brudenell (Leeds) first of all. 

What’s inside?

David Cooper interviews Simon Armitage at Wakefield’s Literature Festival which took place back in September. Simon talks about his recent book Walking Home, his continuing love of writing and where he seeks inspiration. We conduct an interview with Album Of The Year nominess St Gregory Orange over a series of gigs, supporting a wide range of people as they work towards fully realising their exceptional second album in the live arena. Laura Thompson follows up her previous article, shortlisted for best of the year, with ruminations on a quarter life crisis and finding solace in the simple things in life, and bird watching. We speak to Leeds based OK Comics as they celebrate ten years of an award winning Indie shop and the future of the graphic novel / comic medium. Josie Long spoke to us when she recently played in Leeds about being a comedian in the current political climate and why it is ALWAYS a good time to be DIY. Clive Smith questions whether kids these days are simply too lazy and scared to face the kind of mass exposure he deals with on a day to day basis. This issue’s Working Artist is Jamie Roberts, one half of a folk duo with Katriona Gilmore, and he speaks about taking the huge step to purely making a living from his music. Our Best of 2012 feature backs up our blog entry about our mostly highly rated things of the year. There is still time to vote. You may also find a CD copy of our Snowglobe EP. If not, there are details on how to download it for free. Andrew Whittaker spent an informative afternoon with Wakefield Wheeled Cats and discovered the DIY ideal is as strong in all female flat track roller derby teams as it is in music. Why I Zine focuses on Leeds based No-TiTLE magazine and it’s editor Nadine Cuddy. Roland X predicts a future based completely on celebrating and rehashing the past in Follow The Drum vs The Bicentennial Loop and finally, this issue’s Endtroducing band is Wot Gorilla? whose debut record also found itself shortlisted as a potential RB record of 2012.

Thanks are naturally extended to all the contributing writers. Massive thanks are also due to John Jowett for supplying a large proportion of the photography in this issue. This issue’s cover was created by our designer Matt Sidebottom, with illustrations by Laura Thompson. The fantastic OK Comics / Batman strip was by Brent Liam Barker and the Josie Long illustration was by Jack Moss.

Huge thanks to our sponsors this time around; The Hop, Bombed Out Records, Philophobia Music, Rock and Roll Circus, Jam Gifts, Trad Music, Diamond Studios and Warehouse 23.


Dean Freeman

Break From Tradition EP

Three Sheets T’ Wind
Break From Tradition EP

Three Sheets T’Wind is a Punk influenced Folk band hailing from Pontefract and Wakefield. They have performed alongside the likes of Shane MacGowan, The Levellers and Billy Bragg.

The band are made up of:

Johnny Dolescum (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, saxophone, tin whistle, harmonica),
Tinker Bell (accordion)
Pat O'Logical (bass)
Tricky Ricky (mandolin) and 
Loony Liam (drums, bodhrán)

Break From Tradition is a five track EP which follows on from their well regarded  Tales from the West Riding album (2009) and precedes the much anticipated release of their second album due out in 2013.

The EP kicks off with I’m-a doin’ fine a joyful accordion driven romp clocking in at a punchy two and a half minutes.

Cuddy Shaw Reach has a strong Celtic sound and is the track most reminiscent of The Pogues, a band with which Three Sheets... are often compared.

The third track Dole days tells a tale of the drunk and the disenfranchised. It starts with a Reggae(ish) introduction which gives a clear idea of the rich musical palette the band are able to draw on. The subject matter took me back to the bad old days of the early ‘80s when having no work or purpose was the norm for millions. A fashion which our current Government seems eager to revisit.

Johnny’s Army has the sound and feel of a traditional rebel song starting gently with “the last post” before launching into a reel which I suspect is a highlight of any of the bands live performances.

The last, and for me most impressive, track is Old Woolpack’s Yard. A country influenced ballad (right down to the beautifully decorative slide guitar) with Leesa May accompanying on vocals. The song is well written, well conceived and well performed and for me shows the band at its best.

Three Sheets T’ Wind are an accomplished group of folk musicians and Break From Tradition” is an EP which has left me looking forward to their next album promised for some time in 2013. Look out for them live where I suspect they are at their glorious best.

Karl Shore

Monday, 10 December 2012

Mark Wynn Album and Live review

Mark Wynn
James Dean makes me insecure, why does he have to be so shexy
Desert Mine Music

Mark Wynn is a York based troubadour and James Dean...... is his second album for Desert Mine Music. It was recorded by Sam Forrest in August/September 2012.

Wynn has been compared variously to Mark E Smith, John Cooper Clarke, and Half Man Half Biscuit. All of these, for me at least, are pretty wide of the mark (if you will excuse the pun).  If you need a comparison, as a shorthand to place Mark Wynn, think Syd Barrett circa 1970 (Madcap Laughs) or Ivor Cutler (any time).

The recording of the album itself is satisfyingly lo-fi. That is not to say that it is without craft. There are many well judged harmonies and scruffy guitars sitting well back in the mix which give a number of the songs the subtlety and dynamism they deserve.

The album kicks off, not surprisingly, with Introduction. A distorted and grating wall of sound, Wynn says, is “meant to make ‘Baby baby’ (the second track) sound better”. Suffice it to say that the track achieves its aim.

Of the next 15 tracks (only two of which break the epic 3 minute barrier) some are “throw away” some are touching and warm and others are beautifully crafted, unselfconscious pop.  Highlights include The big fib song, Is this where I get off? Woolies please and the sublime Henry Miller filler song. The latter of these contains the line which perhaps goes some way towards summing up Mark Wynn and his music. The line is:

“Oh Henry, sometimes you hit the mark. Sometimes you get too etherial”.

Not that I see this as a criticism of Wynn’s work. He appears to have no interest in reproducing bland formulaic pop for an audience eager to hear the same thing over and over again.

In an indie scene where conformity and conservatism can stifle creativity Mark Wynn is prepared to sound, and be, different. This, perhaps inevitably, results in an album where not every song passes the quality control test. In support of Wynn’s approach to his art, however, I would say that a number of the songs on this album are the most charming, enlightening and joyous I have heard in the last five years.

Given the deliberately ragged approach Wynn takes to creating music it may come as a surprise that the album is just that. An album. Although the details may at times seem “messy” the whole package feels coherent. Wynn knows exactly what he is doing.

At his best Mark Wynn makes catchy and clever, off beat pop without ever reaching for a cliche or an auto-tuner. He writes love letters, laments and takes scatological strolls through the mundane and the everyday.

Mark Wynn @ The Hop

Mark Wynn
The Hop, Wakefield
22nd November

Arriving late enough to (unfortunately) miss Michael Ainsley and catch only half of Sam Forrest’s (highly impressive) set I have to confess to a high level of anticipation when waiting for York’s  finest to take the stage.

Up until recently I had never heard a note of Wynn’s work but having listened to his latest album (produced, incidentally by Sam Forrest) in heavy rotation up and down the M1 for the last three weeks the opportunity to see him live was almost mouth watering. The album is inventive, original, and contains ample evidence that Wynn will be much, much more than a passing fancy on the indie scene.

Having taken the stage at The Hop and engaging in a “getting to know you” tune up and chat with the audience Wynn rattled through a set of finely tuned songs many of which were taken from the James Dean… album. Highlights of the set, for me at least, were Henry Miller Filler Song, Trebles for singles, Woolies please and She is waiting.

His words flow with ease and he is a much better musician than I had previously given him credit for. With an audience more than ready to enjoy his work and the night, Wynn looked to be enjoying it as much as we were. His patter in between songs, like the songs themselves was smart, thoughtful and funny.

I have to say that Wynn’s live work may even be an improvement on his recorded stuff, where he seems more likely to give himself free reign to experiment rather than, as he did tonight, stick to the discipline of playing short, punchy engaging pop from just outside the mainstream.

You probably can’t remember what you were doing at 10.00pm on Thursday 22nd November. Please take note that your fellow citizens were watching a truly memorable show by Mark Wynn upstairs at The Hop. Put down your remote control and take advantage of the original live music on your doorstep.

Karl Shore 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Pulp @ Sheffield Review

Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield
8th December 2012

I cannot remember when I last took in an arena show, though I certainly recall the first time; two decades ago in this very building – then just ‘Sheffield Arena’ – I saw local rockers Def Leppard at the delicate age of 8. Pulp’s last appearance round these parts was just one decade ago, their ‘last ever’ gig at Magna Science Museum which I also attended and that glorious farewell remains a treasured memory.

Continuing the anniversary theme, it is just over two years since the surprise announcement that the band were reforming / ending their hiatus to play some shows. And finally, they have made it home.

The support act slot is taken by projections of home videos, which don’t really work in this space. It does mean that we get a two and a half hour set, especially sweet for those who saw them play restricted set lengths at summer festivals and spent the smiling journey home listing all the great songs they still didn’t play.

Those summer shows had been hit heavy and largely obvious in their song selection. This, their 48th since that reformation, starts just as every other one has with Do You Remember The First Time?  and it appears we’ll have a similar night of pop excellence and gentle nostalgia.

However, second track Monday Morning, perhaps the least played Different Class era track alongside Live Bed Show gives early indication that this will be a more personal affair. Indeed, two songs later we hear the rarely played and little known late era single A Little Soul which at the time was, musically, a rather out of character move and lyrically dealt with Jarvis’ absent father. Not your obvious stadium pleaser.
A duo of big hits and their two well known spoken word / sleazy masterworks (F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E and I Spy) follow and show in breathtaking style that the band has lost nothing of their energy, dynamism and flair. The former in particular is the best I’ve heard it, the stadium enhanced beats adding an epic, colossal and unstoppable force to the track. It’s also the first time I notice that Russell Senior isn’t around. I thought it would bother me, but it doesn’t. Separate guitarists and violinists cover his parts, along with other extra hands and at times the people on stage hits double figures.
Despite this, the focus is naturally on Jarvis. I don’t know what can be said about Jarvis that hasn’t already been said but it is fair to say that he is enjoying every second. He is audibly out of breath after the second song, but maintains the banter throughout, gracious and thankful to the vast 12,000 strong crowd.
The set then heads into unknown territory, places I had hoped that the reunion would have gone since day one. Russell Senior being involved from the start had wrongly led me to believe that all the shows would cover more than their generally acknowledged glory days, but they had rightly gone out and reminded people what made them great first time around, instead of playing the weird stuff and reminding them why they were so damn obscure for fifteen or so years.
Three special moments follow; Jarvis’ sister joins him on stage for a run through My Lighthouse from Pulp’s first record It. In fact, Saskia Cocker is the only other person on this stage tonight who actually played on that recording, back in 1983. It’s followed by Little Girl (With Blue Eyes) from 1985 and Countdown, the latter their last ‘failure’ before perfecting a synth heavy pop sound and breaking through with their Gift Records string of singles and EPs.
Naturally the crowd don’t react in the same way as they do to Disco 2000 and many take it as a chance to grab a pint. But as Jarvis says, most of these songs were written in Sheffield and those that weren’t were written about it. These songs say as much about Sheffield and about the people who wrote them as their hits do and whilst two years of gigging such obscurities would have been a disaster, this is a real treat (for me anyway) and suggests how important it is for the band to come home.
Babies is the only other track from His N Hers we hear tonight. We then get a surprisingly long run of This Is Hardcore era tracks, starting with B-side Like A Friend. Again, I loved to hear it, though I naturally think ‘if you are gonna play a TIH era B-side, and one from A Little Soul it should be Cocaine Socialism, surely?’
This Is Hardcore itself closes this section and is possibly the best I’ve ever heard it. Without doubt one of their greatest songs, it represents everything Pulp were taken to the Nth degree, as dark, as epic and personal as it could get, the flipside, the endpoint of fame and the cravings of success. The sound in the arena, which struggles on some occasions, works a treat here, and every huge bass note feels like a punch to the face of the safe and secure life you have built for yourself. What exactly DO you do for an encore?
The set winds down towards an inevitable Common People. It is just perfect. Considering how many times I have heard it, CP is not a song that really suffers from over familiarity; certainly in the live environment it has an organic life of its own, the band skilfully drawing an increasing crescendo from its six or so minutes, feeding directly from the audience. We are putty in their hands. Not bad for a song that is basically three chords. The stadium is alive; a peerless communal moment.
The encore holds more surprises. The eight plus minutes of Sheffield: Sex City is an absolute joy to my ears; one of those songs you don’t believe you will ever get to hear live. Richard Hawley returns to the stage for a run through of Born To Cry – pretty much the only song I could do without tonight. We wrap up with Something Changed and a brief crowd singalong of White Christmas, before the house lights come up, and a freezing cold Sheffield awaits us all.
So with only a couple of shows left to play, far off in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, what does this mean for Pulp? Apparently at Candida’s insistence, the band grouped together and performed a bow to the appreciative audience before exiting the stage. It would be a fitting conclusion. Generally I am very much against such reunions if new material isn’t forthcoming. Over the years I have developed some sympathy, certainly for the backline of such bands. Jarvis will always be able to make a living off being Jarvis, but I guess it is harder for Nick Banks or Steve Mackay. So maybe a money spinning venture such as this isn’t so bad.
Beyond that, I don’t imagine anyone in the band would relish facing the pressure of recording new material. So maybe this is it. Our trip back in time tonight was our last journey with Jarvis and co. The lasting impression is one of craft. Clever, richly detailed lyrics bursting with ideas and situations that work equally as time capsule records of the life of Jarvis and as timeless pop nuggets, with sophistication and tongue in cheek in fair measures. And the music, still ingrained on our 21st century minds but created in cold rehearsals rooms in a grim northern city, still resonates. Pulp were always aiming, pining for something better, their sounds rich in time and place. It feels like something of a rarity now.
So, aside of being stuck in the seating section of an arena with barely an inch to bust my moves, it was pretty much a perfect night and a fitting ending. Then again, they still didn’t play Lipgloss, Acrylic Afternoons, Pink Glove, Pencil Skirt…
Dean Freeman

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Clive Continuum

(see also: "Demos" "Respect" "Side Projects"  "Lyrics" & "Touring")

This may be the first sentence of this piece of generous advice but I am going to deviate slightly and say that positivity is massively important in our business. Getting up on that stage is akin to sticking your head above the parapet of a castle under siege by hungry Frenchmen. If you can do that with a smile on your face and a song in your heart, and if you can then squeeze said song out through your ventricles, ozmosify it through to your lungs then operate the lungs as they were designed - meaning to breathe - and expel that song out through the aforementioned smile then you are part of a metaphor that perfectly illustrates the point I am making. Which is that positivity is massively important in our business. As I just said.

The evil twin of positivity, the 'opposite' if you will, is cynicism. Strictly speaking, it is negativity, but nod and go with it. A cynical mind questions too much. A cynical mind is not an instinctive one. I believe in the goodness of human beings. Well, I believe in the goodness of most human beings. Some are scum. But we need to ignore these Negative-Nigels and concentrate on ourselves. You will often find that the people with all the money and power in the world are the negative ones. Any positive, non-cynical person will tell you that. It's all back to front.

I bring this up as I almost found myself heading down a road to cynicism a few months back. My last album was very nearly called Super Summer Party Time and it was going to contain a selection of festival friendly anthems. Because that stuff’s easy isn't it? La la la, its super summer party time, dar dar dar, let's all have a lovely time etc.

I do struggle with getting festival bookings in these corporate heavy times. The suits just don't get my sound. Never have. I always presumed it was because as straights, they simply couldn't dig my vibes. But of late it struck me it was a lot simpler. I'd made the mistake of thinking that these types even listen to the music. I'd made the mistake of giving them too much credit. I realised they just go by the titles. And here I was, with a whole sweep of song titles that were also events, ready to release.

I mean, seriously, is it a coincidence that Dancing Deez wrote a song called Constellations? And Alike Trains have one called Beacons and - oh! - there's a festival just down the road with the same name. Even dull three chord non-wonders The Velvet Underground (always a great signpost of a rubbish band, someone wearing their t-shirt or citing them as an influence) wrote one called All Tomorrow's Parties, though as far as I know they are yet to play it.

And it works in reverse. I wouldn't have known but Rhubarb Bomb's own Long Division was clearly named as an attempt to book Fugazi - a typically unambitious goal for the zine. Why not call the festival Rebel Yell or Paperplane or Summer of '69 and really aim for the stars?

I stopped short on the album because I realised it wasn't the Clive Smith way. Doing the obvious, easy thing is not what I am known for. It's not the Clive Smith brand. Also, who'd have thought you could copyright a made up word like 'Primevera'?

Even back in the day, before the money men called the shots, festivals were never my thing. Playing to big crowds is just another way to sell out. I'd much rather play to a half empty room of hardcore fans - or anyone - than a big field at Glastonbury. I really would. I don't need to go to Glastonbury to know I don’t like it. It's obvious from the TV coverage. I sit at home and watch and just shake my head. It's not for me.

Playing in pubs is better because once people have paid their £2, they are there for the duration. Even if they aren't into you, they are gonna be sticking around for the fish supper and the meat raffle. That's how you win people over in this business. Remember that. How can people be forced to listen to you against their will? In this crazy mixed up modern world travelling at highly illegal speeds towards an invisible digital oblivion, how else will you grab their attention?

It was this thought that led me to creating my own festival, one that avoided the unfair scheduling of having other bands on at the same time as you, on different stages. If people can wonder off, it's not a gig for me. So Clivestock took place at Wooley Edge Services, next to the KFC counter. I chose a Saturday afternoon on a Bank Holiday, when people would be hungry and the most staff would be working. The response was amazing. The staff were especially appreciative, constantly giving us buckets of this that and the other. We had to stop playing to eat of course, but who could resist!

It was a great day partially tarnished by my buddy Alan getting fired. He was the manager of the services at the time. I'd always been slightly jealous of him, especially the one time I got to go in his office and discovered it was actually situated in that bridge bit, over the motorway itself. When I'd suggested the idea, he did seem concerned about the legalities of it. In the end, it was complaints about the appaling quality of the actual music that cost him his job. He told me this in a rage. He later admitted that it definitely wasn't the music and he'd made it up as a way to try and upset me. Thankfully, it was obvious it wasn't true and I had laughed in his face whilst he wiped his tears with his P45. I hung that up in the practice room for a bit, as a reminder that art should never lower itself to the petty concerns of the men in the suits.

Clive Smith

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Snowglobe EP

Back in 2008, Rhubarb Bomb released a Christmas EP featuring The Research, Mi Mye, Napoleon IIIrd and The Old House which was sneakily hidden inside copies of the zine.

We thought it was time we did another, so here it is, The Snowglobe EP.

The lead track is from Keith Burton and his Beef Curtain and features the rapping skills of three quarters of Retarded Fish and Mr Rob Dee himself, of Philophobia Records. Vocals recorded at the tailend of an Inns Of Court drinking session, Christmas At Rhubarb Bomb is a daft, mad celebration of Christmas time in Wakefield.

Mi Mye is the sole survivor from the 2008 EP and his track The Last Christmas was proudly recorded at Jamie’s own Greenmount Studios with Lee Smith in approximately 80 minutes. Mi Mye’s album The Time & The Lonelyness was shortlisted as one of our best of 2012.

Fur Blend provide a short, sharp burst of punked up rock and roll. Singer / Bassist Laura Thompson helped create the artwork for the EP and her article Give Me A Beat To Dance To was nominated as one of our best of the year, whilst Fur Blend’s split EP with The Do’s and Clandestines was also shortlisted for our EP of the year.

Spareroom is a collaboration project of Dan Hayes (jamiesaysmile) and his childhood friend Andy Watford. Dan has contributed to Rhubarb Bomb as a writer, his jamiesaysmile EP was shortlisted for best of 2012.

St Gregory Orange have been shortlisted for Rhubarb Bomb’s album of the year for Midnight At The Sycamore Lounge and round off our Christmas EP.

The download also contains an MP3 of an unreleased podcast from April 2012. It was intended to be released during our birthday celebrations and contains tracks from our The City Consumes Us compilation and extracts from interviews for the book, including The Cribs and Mark E Smith.

The EP is available as a Name Your Price download. There will also be a limited number of CD version hidden inside issue 3.4, released December 14th.

Thanks to all the bands for their contributions, and a Merry Christmas to you all

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Review Roundup: Local Underground; Unicorn Power and The Buffalo Skinners

It’s a year today since I completed my first review for the ‘Bomb, so I thought I’d clear the decks with a bumper review of the last few things on my pile. I’ll start at the bottom…

I have here 4 CDs from the Local Underground catalogue, which seems mainly to be an imprint of bands who have ceased to exist; in no particular order, I present Cake, The Drain on the Balcony, The Whatevers and Spectrasonic.

My exploration started off well, I really enjoyed The Whatevers who only split up earlier this year; there are some cracking songs in this 16 track compilation, with just the right mix of humour and punk spirit pushing them along. Mike Relton and Kate Bisson’s vocals mix well together and there are some joyously naïve moments on show. For £5 you can’t argue, have a listen. I especially enjoyed Violence for Northern Independence and the central image of having a ‘right laugh with a local lad in a sleeping bag’. Bit of a shame that they called it a day.

The next lot looked a bit serious on the cover art, although Cake isn’t a very serious name so you know, books and covers and all that… What you get here are 13 songs from the Bristol band’s heyday in the ‘90s which now sound very much as if they were recorded in the ‘90s! Some interesting textures and fairly well observed lyrics, but a bit samey. While you will certainly hear worse bands than these, you will also find better ones- in this very review!  

Now I hate to be negative and it is my first anniversary, so I can maybe manage to find 2 stars out of 5 for The Drain on the Balcony because it is in the DIY spirit, but sometimes doing it yourself  just doesn’t cut it and this is a lacklustre album which made me feel a bit sad. It’s not that they haven’t tried, because they have clearly tried hard but on more than one occasion, namely Solihull Council, Down by the Riverside and the tributes to Amy Winehouse (Black) and Poly Styrene (Elastic Gurl, which is just basically a cover of Germ Free Adolescent with worse words) they really tried my patience I’m afraid to say.

The last of this mixed bunch represents a step up in quality and Spectrasonic come out of it quite well; they’re another ‘90s band so we have the Stone Roses/Primal Scream influence mixed with some more traditionally hooky riffs and some quite nice recording which captures what I imagine was a fairly big live sound.

Anyway, moving on from that slightly confusing start, we arrive at Unicorn Power and their Catface EP. This Brighton based trio have emerged from the spare bedroom with what amounts to a fairly solid statement of intent. Opening track Guarded swirls around and then settles into an insistent stomp of a chorus which draws you in and sets you down gently afterwards. New Home is dragged along by a supple guitar which pierces the backing nicely while the male / female vocals of Scott Pitkethly and Analise Vineer create a nicely melancholy mood. Gold and Green marks the halfway mark of this 5 track EP and it put me in mind of Pop Will Eat Itself with squealing guitars and yelled vocals competing with the high pitched synth assault.

Please Write It Down and a remix of Guarded complete the set, the former is a slower track with a more contemplative mood and some nicely recorded guitars while the remix goes for a cleaner, more Euro disco approach- in a good way, if you know what I mean!

Now to the best of the bunch; The Buffalo Skinners and their lively, engaging 14 track, self-titled album; this collection of Folk n’ Roll makes a refreshing change and injects a little bit of sunshine into your day as the mercury begins to fall.

I can’t fault this debut because it seems that each track deliberately showcases a slightly different aspect of the band’s talent; the vocals are uplifting even when the subject matter isn’t (Wooden Box), instruments are well deployed for the benefit of the song, not the ego of the player, and there is a feeling of restraint that runs through all 14 songs.

This suggests that they have thought carefully about what the record needs, not just what they can do, or what will sound cool in the studio. This strikes me as a mature, well considered approach to a collection of songs which sit together really well. I don’t usually hand out stars, but seeing as I did earlier, and it is my 1st birthday as a reviewer, I’ll indulge myself: 5 stars to the Buffalo Skinners, well done lads.

Now for a celebratory slice of birthday cake…

Matt Rhodie

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Rhubarb Bomb's Best Stuff of 2012

For the last couple of years, Rhubarb Bomb has declared a Festival of The Year which basically indulged my love of spreadsheets and over complicated scoring systems to crown a winner. This year, partly because I have had a dreadful run of planning to go to festivals that ended up being cancelled, I have been thinking how to expand this idea.

So this year, we have a range of topics for this year’s best ‘stuff’, basically bands, records, live stuff and things that have appeared in Rhubarb Bomb

The music is restricted to records we have actually reviewed. Otherwise, the list would be endless. Basically we try to review all we get sent. Sometimes if one of our writers buys something they love, they’ll do a review. But, for example, we never reviewed The Cribs album. And for the best events, we decided to keep it local.

For each category, I have shortlisted five. They are all potential winners that I would be proud to have regarded as Rhubarb Bomb’s best of 2012. But beyond that shortlisting, the choice is down to you.

The online vote is HERE. Below is some more information on the nominees, with links in purple if you want to see / hear more. Voting closes midnight on December 23rd.

Best Album

Kebnekaise – Wot Gorilla? (self release)

“The sound is new and innovative, but even within the realms of melodic mathrock they bring something of their own to the table; a more accessible charm without tuning down their idiosyncrasies one iota; what an accomplishment.” – Roland X

Midnight At The Sycamore Lounge – St Gregory Orange (Philophobia Music)

“Every ache over the construction of a beat, the rhythm of a line or the structure of a song has moved them further and further from their peers. The final product justifies each of their decisions: no one else in the world could have made this record. A work of wonder and endlessly collapsing beauty from one of the country’s most unique and engaging bands.” – Dean Freeman

The Time And The Lonelyness – Mi Mye (Self Released)

“Like a story being told rather than a song being sung, these are more than exercises in songwriting. It’s music, art and expression in its purest form which is, of course, the greatest thing and the record’s greatest success.” – Dean Freeman

Thirteen Lost & Found – RM Hubbert (Chemikal Underground)

“There is no studio trickery, no dense lyric to pour over and no sense of hype or anticipation. Yet the songs pack a greater emotional punch than almost anything else I have heard this year, which on this scale of minimalism is impressive in the extreme.” - Dean Freeman

This Many Boyfriends – This Many Boyfriends (Angular Records)

“It genuinely makes me want to teleport back in time to be 17, buy a leather jacket, sweat and dance in some overcrowded thrown together club night and fall in love.” - Jack Falcon

Best Single / EP

Day Three – jamiesaysmile (Geek Pie Records)

“Complex but accessible pop anthems that start small then build into wider, more expansive soundscapes. The key here for me is the transition between moods and dynamics; when the overdrive kicks in and mutates the guitars from twangy to crashing or the vocals move from reflective to downright sad, jamiesaysmile captures a sound all of his own.” – Matt Rhodie

Honeymoon On Ice – Soulmates Never Die (Cowsnail Records)

“This whole collection of ‘100mph grunge-folk’, as he has described his own style, is well worth a listen. The scratchy vocals and elegant guitar hook you in, but for me it’s the unpredictability of the journey that appeals most.” – Matt Rhodie

Runaround Kids vs We Are Losers – Runaround Kids / We Are Losers (Philophobia Music)

“It’s great that Philophobia is looking outwards to add talent to its roster. We Are Losers clearly share a lot with a range of PHOP bands, in particularly a hardcore passion hung over deceptively poppy songs. The fanbases of RKs and WAL are very likely to be two separate entities yet both will be incredibly pleased with the songs they know, and will also have found a new favourite band on the flipside.” – Dean Freeman

Selfless – Himself (Self Released)

“A band that live and breathe rock music, learnt how to play it, got bored with it, re-invented it, and fell in love with it all over again. If a band that complex, inventive and brave can keep a simpleton like me interested, they must be doing something right.” - Jarv

Spectemur Agendo – Various Artists (Philophobia Music)

“Philophobia's latest EP which features The Do's, Fur Blend and Clandestines is fucking awesome, pure and simple. I don't know the policy on swearing, sorry kids if you're reading, sorry if you're offended, sorry random-er who thought this might be pleasant, but bloody frigging hellers I haven’t stopped bashing my head around for a second.” – Jack Falcon

Wakefield Gig

It’s a bit of a cheat, but H.Hawkline made the trip up from Wales three times in 2012, all of which were outstanding. Recruiting local musicians as backing mere hours before the shows (or mid gig) added to the already charming performances.

Johnny Foreigner. PAWS. Runaround Kids. Playlounge. Wot Gorilla. The Spills. Need we say more?

The last of the ‘big three’ (the other two being Pylon and Dugong) calling it quits resulted in one of the greatest gigs of the year; the camaraderie of the old Players days mixed in with some high octane, full on punk carnage – ace.

After surprising themselves as much as any one else supporting The Cribs for their Wakefield show, Retarded Fish headlined their own gig, which also saw Protectors play their last ever gig in support.

A special evening that saw a young band release their first record. Whilst always special in itself, it felt like an almost coming of age for all the Philophobia bands that performed, especially with St Gregory Orange finally hitting their stride live. Powerful, because it is such a good omen for the future.

Making Wakefield Better

Who else could have dragged two hundred people to a library on a Saturday dinnertime? And not only that, he made Wakefield’s new library seem exciting and – I’m gonna say it – sexy. Another milestone for a continuously improving Wakefield.

The Jarmans played their first gig in Wakefield in five years and despite reservations about the choice of venue, it was simply an amazing, celebratory, once in a lifetime show. Once more, they act as a vital catalyst and an inspiration to people in Wakefield.

Twice this year, The Hepworth has played host to a plague of zombies. Or, more accurately, it invited people down to be made up as zombies and then walked them round town to scare the bejesus out of people. Still think art galleries are stuck up and boring?

2012 saw the dream of Unity Hall come to life. The share issue was launched in February, allowing local people to invest in its future and have a say in the direction of what will surely be one of the best and most unique venues in Yorkshire, if not the country.

Literature Festival? In Wakefield? A sign in itself of how Wakefield has developed in the last few years, the first Lit-Fest was a success of inspired speakers and performers and engaging workshops and film screenings and was organised by Beam, who are based at The Orangery.

Music Festival

Rhubarb Bomb Article

Always subjective, this shortlist is based on the amount of feedback I received and these saw people from far and wide bothering to say how much they enjoyed them; these kind of articles that give me faith that people are out there reading and enjoying what RB does.

Anatomy Of A Gig – Dean Freeman

Question Of Wakefield Future – Stephen Vigors

Best Thing We Did

Fifth Birthday Gig

We celebrated our fifth birthday with an all dayer amongst the regal surroundings of an 18th century orangery. Champagne, birthday cake, gigs under railway arches, secret gardens and lots of Wakefield bands covering each others songs for kicks. A wonderful day for us.

Over three days, with about 100 bands across ten venues, this year’s Long Division was the biggest yet. Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells in the theatre? Art Brut in Mustangs? So many highlights for us, we hope you loved it too, and we can’t wait for next year.

An 18 track album of exclusives from bands we have supported over the last five years, including those lovely Cribs boys. Packaged inside a limited edition 200-odd page book about music, indie ideals, Wakefield, zines, and how it all fits together.

The Issues

With such a busy year, it’s easy to forget we also released four great issues. Maybe tucking up in a corner and reading our wayward thoughts was your best Rhubarb Bomb moment this year?

The Blog

Our online content has increased greatly this year, and is where all our record and live reviews now live, as well as some opinion pieces that have received almost every response imaginable, both positive and negative…


Finally, Rhubarb Bomb has a special award which it will give to a person or persons who we feel have, through their actions in 2012, helped perpetuate the ideals if DIY and being independent. It doesn’t have to be something huge and world changing. Just an extra thing that we think needs celebrating. Who will it be…?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Clive Continuum

(see also: "Respect" "Side Projects"  "Lyrics" & "Touring")

Creating demos of your songs is an immensely important part of the creative process. Unless you are Paul Simon or Tony Christie, you aren’t just gonna burp out a perfect song first go. If you do it right, demoing can turn out to be one of the most rewarding parts of the process.

Below is a studio demo of one of my songs Midas Loop which, in its finished version, appeared on my 77th album Life Is A Motorway (it sold out in four days). As you can hear, it is quite radically different from the highly regarded and oft-covered album version.

I have decided to take the unusual step of letting the public hear one of these ‘demos’ as way of showing an example of Clive Smith’s (my) constant searching for the new sound. Reinvention is what I am all about; pushing the letterbox, tearing the blue sky, opening the gates of unreality. By sharing it, I hope to offer an insight that might benefit you and your music also.

It is testament to my continuing gaze towards the future that this already sounds old fashioned and almost dishearteningly normal compared to my newest album, which is released today. At the time (4 months ago) it was radical, visionary and perplexing. I imagine this is how you will see it now and all I can say is – don’t be afraid! It’s simply what I do; not only do I continually reinvent the wheel but I do so whilst it’s speeding down the fast lane at 70mph whilst the powers that be try and apply the breaks, fearful of which road Clive’s crazy train will head down next. The sky’s the limit!

Unlike most of my tracks, this recording features contributions from other musicians. I like to record all the instruments myself on the albums as you will find that ‘musicians’ often want credit for the bits they ‘write’ and sometimes even expect payment. Plus, you can’t get the staff. So this way, I can flesh out my ideas and use their ideas later for myself.

You will notice the lyrics are not present at this stage. The music is number one for Clive; always has been. The new sound is tricky to find. You can hear my shouts of encouragement throughout – that’s how I keep the band in order! So even though they are playing the instruments, it’s my guidance that makes sure they play the right thing.

On this occasion, the band were:

Clive Smith: Voice, Guitar
Buff Wadsworth: Ocarina, Tamporini
Chris Crumm: Drums, Percussion
Beefy Cullingworth: Guitar, Atmospheres.
Marlow ‘Brownnote’ Simons: Bass

I hope this example of the Clive Smith creative process and my attempts (and success) in finding a brand new musical style offer some guidance to other up and coming artists. Don’t feel daunted. Give it a few years and your songs will soon be winning you awards and fans and invites to people’s houses. It’s all about self belief; if everyone tells you its shit it just proves what a maverick you are.

Clive Smith

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Ghost of Wakefield Past / The Question of Wakefield Future.

Believe it or not, bands like The Beatles and The Sex Pistols used to play in Wakefield - bands that shaped twentieth century society as much as Presidents and Prime Ministers. Of course this was in an era before multi-national promotion agencies monopolised the gig circuit with generic, over-priced, square rooms, but still, if The Beatles announced that they were playing the ABC Cinema, which would obviously require multiple and variable resurrections, I'd chop off my own arm if it meant I would be guaranteed ticket.

When I decided to go to university I picked Manchester, not for any particular academic reasons, moreover because I had grown up as a fan of Oasis and then matured through The Stone Roses, before arriving at The Smiths. Manchester however, in the early noughties, turned into a parody of itself. Most bands were fully equipped with a simian-looking vocalist, a complete set of Parkas and a nasal twang, yet lacked any discernable talent. One example were The Young Offenders Institute, who both looked and sounded like the cast of Shameless aping Oasis. Meanwhile on the other side of the Pennines everything seemed alive.

In 2004 Leeds was vibrant for the first time in years and Wakefield actually had a few bands that were receiving national acclaim – namely The Cribs and The Blueskins. Despite this there were very few venues in Wakefield for our own band to play, or clubs that represented our music tastes; there was nowhere that did both. Basic DIY; if no-one else is going to do it then do it yourself, which we did on July 23rd 2004 at the now defunct Escobar.

The bar was hired out by Chris Morse, who played bass in the same band as me, as it was his birthday and we needed a gig. In truth our gig, if memory serves me right, was pretty shoddy (although in our defence it was our very first gig), but the owners were suitably impressed with our intrepid organisational skills and asked us, along with a couple of others, to promote a night at the bar on a weekly basis. We called it Louder Than Bombs for no other reason than it sounded like a good name.

Usually we supplied the entertainment by playing records (Chris had already run a clubnight in Plymouth while at university and he supplied the majority of the vinyl) but in order to get more punters through the door we began putting bands on. Usually it was free in, or occasionally we would charge a couple of quid in, but money was never an aspiration - we just wanted to put together a night that we’d be happy to go to ourselves. We had someone designing flyers, someone else taking pictures and at any time you could find one of half-a-dozen different people working on the door. It was ramshackle, laissez-faire and fun.

Some time during the Christmas of 2005 Dan Barber, who took photos for Louder Than Bombs, played us a band from Sheffield that a friend had recommended to him. I'd seen them pop up on a few internet forums and disregarded them due to their terrible name (Arctic Monkeys), but it was blatantly obvious that they were going to be huge from the first moment we listened to them. With bands like The Libertines on the wane there was a gap for a new group to garner teenager fervour and adolescent adoration. We were desperate to book them, especially when we realised they lived just 27 miles down the M1 motorway in Sheffield. This was a while before anyone had built up any contacts in the music industry so getting hold of a contact number required a fair bit of detective work, and then a fair bit of persuasion was required to book a band that were beginning to gain a fanatic following.

In the end their manager, Geoff Barradale, gave in to my persistence and a few weeks before the band began receiving national acclaim we booked them to play the tiny Escobar venue. Some of my main recollections from the evening of April 4th 2005 included meeting the young couple who had travelled all the way from Aberdeen for the gig and the footprints marked on the ceiling due to the excessive crowd surfing (the image of footprints on the ceiling is regularly recalled by attendees and even by the Arctic Monkeys themselves in interviews and biographies).            

In the following couple of years we promoted gigs in Leeds and London as well as gruelling weekend long festivals at Escobar with promoters Rich Short and Chris Phelan (who also joined us on a “full time” basis). I could probably write an entire book on all the stories and scrapes that followed us around in those days. When myself, Morse and Phelan moved to Leeds our house was dubbed “Louder Than Bombs Towers” and our housewarming party ended up in the Evening Post.

Before we began promoting it seemed to me that the Wakefield music scene was fragmented. A few years earlier there had been McDermott’s on Cheapside that had created a similar camaraderie amongst the bands in the city, but many people, including myself, had missed out on this. Now we had somewhere to go that seemed like Cheers, where everyone knew your name! Looking at old photographs of the crowd at many gigs it is incredible to see how many people were all part of the same group of friends. Bands like Last Gang, The Pigeon Detectives, The Labels, The Old House, The Research, Middleman, The Spills and many more all became regulars both on and off the stage.

A couple of years later a handful of releases came out on Louder Than Bombs Records, with Rob Dee working as part of this (Rob Dee would later rename his vinyl output Philophobia Records). It was also in the following years that Rob Dee and Benjamin Trout started the Rhubarb Bomb fanzine.

A lot of the current crop from the Wakefield music scene spent time at Escobar and Louder Than Bombs. It always had to come to an end at some point but it’s just a shame that a new venue hasn’t come along a captured the crowd in the same way. The scene is still healthy, but it misses a focal point.

Stephen Vigors

This article originally appeared in Issue 3.1 of Rhubarb Bomb and also our book The City Consumes Us. Stephen also writes short stories:

Billy Lunn Acoustic Tour Interview

On Friday 30th November, one of the modern pioneers of Rock and Roll, Billy Lunn, lead singer of The Subways hits Wakefield for a special intimate show at The Hop. He’ll be playing a stripped down acoustic set of The Subways material from their first three albums. Aaron Snowdon speaks to Billy in advance of the show…

Aaron Snowdon: So, first of all, what made you decide to go out on tour on your own?

Billy Lunn: Well I’m actually writing the fourth album at the moment and I wrote Money and Celebrity, our third record, whilst we were off tour and I was at home. You know, just to sort of simulate the creative process, I thought I’d pop out on tour and play some songs for fans. We don’t intend on playing as a full band until maybe, summer next year.

AS:  Do you think that touring is a good time to start writing the fourth record?

BL: I don’t actually really write a lot on tour. By the time we get back on the bus and I pick up my acoustic guitar, I think I’m ready for bed now. When I wake up in the morning, straight out of the tour bus, I’m doing press and exercise. Song writing only really happens whilst I’m off tour. I never know when some ideas might suddenly crop up. I thought this acoustic tour would be a great way and go out there and experience and meet new people.

AS: So in terms of when you’re performing live, with a full band you appear to be quite lively and often crazy on stage, do you feel nervous at the idea of performing on your own?

BL: Definitely! With doing all that crazy stuff on stage and making all that loud noise. When it’s just the acoustic guitar and me, if there are mistakes everybody’s going to hear them. There is a sense of sort of feeling naked. It’s great to challenge myself as well, to have to take the songs we usually play really loud and bring it down to a different level to almost a folky atmosphere. I’m starting to get used to it now, a bit more confident.

AS: Do you like playing the more intimate venues?

BL: It depends really. If we do a huge tour, with the bigger venues we’re sort of craving for the more intimate interaction with the crowd where you can see the sweat dripping from the ceiling. It’s nice just to mix and match. Festival season’s just a great way to exemplify that. When the festival seasons over, we’re sort of ready to get back indoors now and play some really low down dirty club shows. That to us is Rock and Roll we used to go to those kinda shows when we were starting out as a band.

AS: On this tour is it going to be strictly Subways stuff or do you have some solo material?

BL: I was thinking about playing some of my solo stuff, but to be honest, if I write something and I don’t immediately take it to Charlotte and Josh then it’s not good enough. If I don’t show it to them, I don’t really believe the song worked. So, anything I really do write, I’ll only categorize as The Subways. I’m actually planning to do some covers, I’ve already played Supersonic by Oasis and I’m really enjoying playing that. It’s probably one of my all time favourite songs. I’m thinking of Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac. I’ll probably be sticking that in the set as well.

AS: I noticed that you’ve been asking people for their opinions on what you should play in the set. Does that give you a more personal relationship with the crowd?

BL: Yeah, definitely. That’s what we’ve always wanted since day one. When we first started the band we wanted to be really interactive with our fans. We put up our own website. We’d do that then we’d put up we’re playing at the Buffalo Bar on Thursday are there any songs that you guys would particularly like to hear? I basically went on Twitter and asked, anything you want me to try give it to me and I’ll see if I can do it. I had people request Foo Fighters- Everlong. This one couple were really keen that I play it. When the barman disappeared I took my guitar out and played it really quiet, and they loved it.

AS: You recently did the Propaganda tour with The Subways which visited Leeds 02 Academy. How were these shows?

BL: Yeah, they we great. We booked this Propaganda tour which we thought would be an amazing way to end this Money and Celebrity campaign and they were all 30 minute slots. It was absolutely crazy going out their and banging out 8 songs then walking off stage then going and having a drink. We found ourselves playing to people who have never even heard of us before!

AS: I noticed recently that you’ve been growing a moustache for Movember, the people of Wakefield are going to see it at its highest point on the 30th November. Are you excited to be visiting West Yorkshire again? Has the north treated you well in the past?

BL: Yeah. You know, we’ve always had some amazing gigs up north. Especially in Yorkshire. I’ve gotta say my tash is not looking good at the moment. My brother is 18 months younger than me and he can grow a full beard. I’m much fairer than he is, so when I try grow any facial hair it looks really pathetic. By the time I get to Wakefield it’ll be probably, well I don’t know how it’s going to look! We’ll see!

Tickets for the gig are available at The Hop, Crash Records, Jumbo Records and Ticketweb

Monday, 19 November 2012

Forever On The Ride

Brothers Gary and Dave Cotton have been putting on amazing gigs in Wakefield for years now. They don’t do gigs once a week or every other month, simply when the whim takes and they come across someone brilliant that they just have to share with Wakefield. Because of them amazing people like The Lovely Eggs, Clemence Freschard, Stanley Brinks, The Dead Trees, Malcolm Middleton, The Wave Pictures, James Yorkston, Rozi Plain, Francois & The Atlas Mountains, Kid Canaveral… and oh so many more have visited us.

They have two gigs left in 2012, both at The Hop. The first is this coming Thursday (22nd), when they welcome Mark Wynn to town on his first UK tour. Press-friendly quotes refer to him as being from the same lineage as Mark E Smith, John Cooper Clarke and Lou Reed. A cursory listen to his most recent album James Dean Makes Me Insecure, Why Does He Have To Be So Shexy reveals a equal appreciation of ultra lo-fi with a distinctly idiosyncratic, anxious songcraft (most songs are done in under two minutes).

Support comes from the superb Sam Forrest (Nine Black Alps) and local boyish popster Michael Ainsley. It’s a bargain four pound in for someone whom Tom Robinson said this about on BBC6 Music: “Like the early John Cooper Clarke or Mark E Smith, Mark Wynn has the potential for national treasure status twenty years down the line. And that's not something you'll hear me say often or lightly.”

The last show of the year is a very special one; a double headlining duo of Withered Hand and Darren Hayman. Withered Hand was another fantastic booking On The Ride secured for this year’s Long Division. After an amazing Autumn tour, sadly cut short by illness, this is one last chance to see him in 2012. Widely regarded (in the smarter circles) as one of the best lyricist and songwriters around at the moment, Withered Hand would be worth the £8 in alone. But the added attraction of an all too rare live performance from Darren Hayman sweetens the pill to sickeningly good levels.

Treat yourself before the Winter dip; nothing good ever happens in December does it…

Dean Freeman