Saturday, 25 February 2012

Response to Guardian Article

Living in a city like Wakefield is tough. It’s easy to plod by, get your head down and march on unto your grave, living whatever life is placed before you. Naturally, a lot of people want something more than that. And so they create their own bits of culture, which Rhubarb Bomb is actively engaged in, both in the ‘doing’ and the ‘supporting’. And support is hugely important. That’s why I feel lucky to be part of a network of passionate people trying to make a difference.

However, something even trickier than pushing that forward is getting recognition outside of our fair city for the stuff we do; especially frustrating when the actual ‘stuff’ is genuinely great. It’s something I have seen for many years with our bands. So many deserving of greater recognition, yet also content within their social circles, tied to the irony that if you took those 4 or 5 people and put them in a bigger city with greater ‘opportunities’ they simply wouldn’t be the same group of people. Sometimes the thing that makes you great can also hold you back.

Being part of Rhubarb Bomb has opened my eyes in many ways. That’s why I was appalled by the ignorance of an article published on The Guardian Website this week. Written by a former citizen, who still has the cheek to refer to herself as a ‘Wakefieldian’, it is a surprisingly bias attack on the city. Centred on this weekend's Rhubarb Food Festival, it concludes – after disputing whether anyone evens eats Rhubarb anymore – with the statement: 'By all means trip up to Wakefield this weekend to taste the world's best forced rhubarb. Just make sure you really, really like the stuff first because you'll struggle to find something else redeeming about this wilted Yorkshire town.'

But it is the attitude within the article as a whole that shocks and it is typical of the kind of press Wakefield gets. It’s like the music press relating everything to The Cribs. It’s like saying that the only thing going on in Wakefield city centre is people fighting, drinking and being complete morons. Yes, The Cribs are our biggest export. Yes, Wakefield city centre is pretty awful on a weekend. But if you open your eyes there is so much more going on. It’s also helps if you make an effort to get involved.

I don’t want to be just as narrow minded as the privately educated ‘Nichi Hodgson’ but I would suggest that living in large cities like London, Manchester, or even Leeds, it is perhaps easy to become accustomed to seeing a national monument or Starbucks on every corner, cool clubnights and national bands popping up over a huge range of venues. It’s easy, you don’t have to think, you don’t have to SCRATCH THE SURFACE. You can read your national newspapers and magazines and find a culture that relates directly to you. You don’t need to create your own. You have no idea what that means.

So how sad that, after growing up in the city, she leaves and then chooses to make her living by slagging it off. Wakefield is far from perfect, but her complete ignorance of what is actual happening is embarrassing. It’s like me writing an article about the traditional folk festival that takes place annually in a small mountain village in northern Greenland. Guardian; just because she has ‘educated in Wakefield' on her CV does not mean she should be writing this article. I could give you 20 writers that have a much more appropriate education, in that they actual LIVE in Wakefield. But hey, just another example of the crap press we get here.

I like that you have to look a little deeper in Wakefield. It means more, at least to me. I wish there was more to do here. More reasons for people to live and work here. I expect ‘Nichi’ would say something similar, the reason that she left because those things weren’t there. Well here’s the difference between us. Myself, Rhubarb Bomb and a lot of people who live here take it upon themselves to make that change happen. The Hepworth, The Hop & Ossett Brewery, The Art House, The Orangery, Wakefield Theatre, Yorkshire Sculture Park and the Unity Hall plans. Asell-out music festival with international acts. A brand new shopping centre and masses of city centre improvements AGAINST national economic trends.

But, more importantly, small groups of people working independently in different areas. If there’s one thing we need to do in Wakefield, it is to bring these groups together. But we are trying. We understand that positivity makes the difference.

I wish I was a hotshot journalist with a national platform so I could spread this message of optimism far and wide. But I’m not. I’m just a normal guy who cares about his city and the people who live there, who works (for free) to try and make it a better place for everyone. How she must look down upon the likes of us; poor, idealistic, honest.

The Guardian has shamed us here too. It’s pretty much the only newspaper I read, in any form. I’m confused as to how they can justify this. But most of all, this Nichi has shamed us all. I don’t pretend to be a proper journalist, like she does, so forgive my non-abilities with words, but I shall simply conclude with ‘fuck off’.

Dean Freeman

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

WILD FLAG – Cockpit , Leeds, 29th January 2012

A bitingly cold quiet Sunday evening in Leeds, The Cockpit warmed only by the buzz of expectancy awaiting Wild Flag. Witchita Records Brighton/London three piece Peggy Sue sustained everyone’s interest with a fine support performance. The dual girl harmonies and folk tinged indie well received, especially during numbers as strong as ‘Cut My Teeth’ and ‘Song & Dance’, check them out.

A sign of Wild Flags high held regard was reflected by the presence of two thirds of The Cribs and Anna from Metronomy amongst several expectant band members in the packed crowd. Wild Flag, a Supergroup of sorts, many present sure to be admirers of the four girls many various bands. Me personally being a big fan of Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss’s Sleater Kinney, a band whom I sadly never got to see, the closest being a band injury cancelled gig at this very venue in 2005. Rrrrriot Girl royalty and finally I was getting to see them Rrrrrock. And boy do they rock. This brand of power pop punk went down a treat with album highlights like ‘Electric Band’ and ‘Glass Tambourine’ and the perfect catchy gems that are ‘Future Crimes’ and ‘Romance’. Multi -talented, sometime comedy actor back home in Portland, six string Brownstein, shares vocals and competes with Mary Timony for riff wizardry and high kickerry. Rebecca Cole adds punchy keyboards with hints of the B-52’s, while Weiss holds it all together. Sounds from any number of US garage bands abound, The Stooges , Ramones and especially Patti Smith, as Carrie throws worthy shapes around the stage literally bouncing off Timony. There’s fun band/crowd banter too including a bizarre discussion on the merits of Eric Clapton. No slow hands here as the set raced on with more highlights like ‘Racehorse’ and a finale of a fitting Ramones cover, ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’ , where even the two false starts felt right. I sincerely hope Wild Flag are more than your average Supergroup and continue to record and tour together and keep flying the flag for all that is good in wild rock ‘n’ roll.

Liam Tyrell

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Mi Mye 'The Time & The Lonelyness' Review

Mi Mye
The Time and The Lonelyness
Mi Mye Bandcamp

It's funny how Mi Mye, the name under which Jamie Lockhart releases his music, is so influential and well regarded in Wakefield, yet sounds nothing like any of the other bands around. Debut album 'Senc Of The Shaking', released in 2010, saw a full, confident, and fun set engage the listener with ease. Gigs around that time were NOISY, Jamie pitched centre stage with his fiddle whilst as many friends as he could fit on stage swelled around him with a ferocious wall of noise. Like an interesting Arcade Fire perhaps. That's the way it COULD have gone.

Instead 'The Time and The Lonelyness', his second album (bar an Xmas collection) is a whole lot more introspective in nature. Clearly inspired by the latest live setup, a bare bones backing of minimalist bass and meandering drums, this is an, at times, unnervingly personal record. The production is striking in its unfussiness. As a record from a record producer, you may expect a flashy, showy, overblown mess. Instead we get, what is to my ears, a rather simplistic and live sounding record which only serves to strengthen the heartfelt emotion wrapped around each of these tracks, kind of reminiscent of Lennon’s open self production on tracks like ‘God’ from his first solo album. I love records that have that warmth, especially on the drums, when it feels like you are in the room with them. It's one of the records bravest, yet greatest achievements.

The album itself is 9 songs long, mainly plaintative, lovelorn pleas and ponderings, bar a closing 10 minute instrumental. Opener 'lament' has been in the live set for a while and opens with the great line 'thank you my love for being so kind / over the death of my first wife'. It rattles along and sets the up-front vocal style of the record and is the closest to previous Mi Mye records in its mix of personal lyricism but buoyant backing. A quick decent follows with a duo of stripped back, pained relationship dissections.

‘When I Wake Up’ picks up the pace once more and is a perfect mix of the upbeat and the slightly sad refrain of ‘the thing about dreams is they mess you up in the morning’. Generally there is a disregard for convention, particularly in the way the lyrics scan and flow with the music, words squished and extended to fit the emotional context rather than the rhythm. This technique works well in adding a closer personal tie to the songs, like a story being told rather than a song being sung. They’d be hard songs to cover, let’s put it that way. The album is what it is – I would perhaps prefer a couple more upbeat, sprightly numbers. But it doesn’t feel as if it was been designed to be a specific way; this record could only exist this way because these are more than exercises in songwriting. Its music, art and expression in its purest form which is, of course, the greatest thing and the records greatest success.

Perhaps the only issue I have with this record is that I don’t really know when to play it. Witnessed live, as I already have, these songs are as engaging as it's possible to be, Jamie's natural charm keeping the pure sincerity from becoming uncomfortable or cloying. It's the kind of music I live to see live. On record, this is replicated perfectly, the emotion remaining impressively intact. I just wouldn’t put it on in my car. So I guess, from the point of view of an online purchaser, it's something you have to put some time into, set the mood, find the time. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that of course, in fact it's the best way to be.

Dean Freeman

Monday, 6 February 2012

Long Division 2012 Press Release

‘A Triumph… the whole thing seemed like it had been designed by music fans for music fans’ Louder Than War

After the sellout success of Long Division 2011, Indie Fanzine ‘Rhubarb Bomb’ and leading Wakefield Music Venue ‘The Hop’ are proud to announce the return of the multi venue music festival in 2012. It will take place in Wakefield city centre, June 1st to 3rd.

2011’s event completely validated Long Division’s faith in its combination of national Indie cult heroes and Wakefield’s own vibrant music scene.

The all day event on Saturday June 2nd will take place across 9 venues including 2 stages at The Hop, Wakefield Theatre Royal, Wakefield Town Hall, a grade 2 listed Chapel, an Orangery and the thousand capacity Black Flag venue. The unique range of venues promises special, unique and, in some cases, very intimate gigs.

Around 70 bands will play on the Saturday. We have announced our first 30 or so, namely: The Vaselines, Art Brut, Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells, Zoey Van Goey, My Sad Captains, GentlemansPistols, Let’s Wrestle, Dan Michaelson, Standard Fare, The Spills, This ManyBoyfriends, Runaround Kids, Hookworms, Sam Airey, Heart-ships, Middleman, Treecreeper, Post War Glamour Girls, Hannah Trigwell, Advances In Mathematics, Mi Mye, Louise Distras, St Gregory Orange, Crushed Beaks, Piskie Sits, KeelHer, Imp, Tiny Planets, Protectors, The Passing Fancy, The Do’s, The Fur Blend and The Tracks.

The feedback from 2011 was amazing; alongside massive improvements to Wakefield in general, including the opening of The Hepworth Gallery and Trinity Walk Shopping Centre, Long Division really showed how Wakefield has become a great place to visit. Long Division is super convenient with all venues being within a five minute walk of one another, and the bus and train stations. Rhubarb Bomb and The Hop’s dedication to supporting local DIY influenced artists shone through with the friendly, inclusive and passionate atmosphere that characterised the weekend.

Limited Early Bird tickets for the Saturday are available for £13 from Crash Records and Jumbo Records (subject to booking fee) and in person at The Hop, Wakefield.

Special one-off events will take place on the Friday and Sunday, details to follow shortly.

Press accreditation is now open. Please reply if you would like adding to our press list.

If you require any more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Many Thanks,

Long Division Team



Rhubarb Bomb

The Hop