Monthly Archives: April 2012

Thee Jenerators, Ray & The Guns and The Crowman – 28/04/12

Thee Jenerators – Photo by Tom Girard (C) BBC Guernsey

On Saturday 28th April 2012 Thee Jenerators celebrated the release of their fourth album, Rejeneration, with a show at the Thomas De La Rue in St Peter Port.

They were supported by rock ‘n’ rollers, Ray and The Guns, and the garage-folk one man band The Crowman.

You can see photos from the gig on the BBC Introducing Guernsey page on Facebook.

Also you can read a short feature on Thee Jenerators new album and retro-garage sound that I put together for BBC Introducing Guernsey here.

Review:

All bases were covered for a night of old school rock ‘n’ roll sounds tonight at the De La Rue.

The night started out before the bands with DJ SilverVespa of Off The Bone spinning some trash, garage, ska and psych rock sounds as a pair of oil lamps projected swirling shapes across the stage, transforming the pub into a venue right out of the late 60’s when the 13th Floor Elevators and Syd’s Pink Floyd were breaking boundaries with their psychedelic music.

The Crowman made his way onto stage first tonight as ever armed with an array of instruments to make his unique garage-folk noise.

Every time I see The Crowman his sound seems to have evolved, and tonight was no different. With a sound that seemed somehow fuller than previous shows, but still with the same stripped back feel that makes him what he is, The Crowman was also joined tonight by fiddle player Emma Weldon who added a much more folky element to the sounds on offer.

As ever, The Crowman’s set was something refreshingly different to anything else currently on offer in Guernsey.

Ray & The Guns were up next and playing only their second or third show, though owing to all the band members experience in other bands their set was a slick selection of great rock ‘n’ roll covers including Brand New Cadillac, Shakin’ All Over and Imelda May’s Psycho.

By the end of the set the band had a few dancing in the increasingly busy pub and I for one hope it isn’t as long before we get a chance to see Ray & The Guns on stage again.

With a new album highlighting their more garage rock direction of recent times, Thee Jenerators stormed into their set tonight with Yellow Fruit Pastille and stuck largely to material from Rejeneration.

Playing with the their usual high energy style, Thee Jenerators now play with Mark Le Gallez and Steven Lynch both acting as frontmen and really creating an exciting dynamic on stage, as ever, underpinned by Ozzy Austin’s earth shaking drums and Garrick Jones organ and sax sounds.

Thee Jenerator’s newer songs are now firmly bedded into their set and, while still representing the band’s classic sound, they still bring something new to the party – though it all has the capacity to get people moving.

At one point it seemed like the set might be ending somewhat early with the words, “thanks for coming we’ve been the Brian Jonestown Massacre”, referencing the famously fractious US psychedelic-indie-rock band, however, after some discussion on stage, the band fired back into action debuting two brand new songs (so new they don’t even feature on Rejeneration) and wrapped up with long-standing crowd pleaser Georgie Best.

While tonight may not have been Thee Jenerators smoothest performance ever, along with Ray & The Guns and The Crowman, all elements of rock ‘n’ roll seemed to be covered and the crowd certainly seemed to go away happy.

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BBC Guernsey Afternoon Show and Wind Down Zone: 27/04/12

I was back on the radio today on BBC Guernsey sitting in for John Randall in the afternoon and for the Wind Down Zone.

During the afternoon I featured a ‘Mystery Year’ which you can see the track list for below (but I won’t tell you what year so if you listen to show you can still join in the fun) and I featured an interview with Thee Jenerators as well, ahead of the release of their fourth album on Monday 30th April.

You can listen to the Afternoon Show here, and here’s the Mystery Year play list:

And listen to the Wind Down Zone by clicking here, and here’s the play list for that:

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: April 2012

Thee Jenerators - Photo by Tom Girard (C) BBC Guernsey

I was back on BBC Guernsey tonight for another two hours of unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar music from the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

This month I was joined in the studio by Thee Jenerators to talk about their new album, Rejeneration, as well as Ooko and Ster-One-1 from T.T.U.K to talk music and art.

We also had a live session from Robert J Hunter alongside an exclusive play of a track from Teaspoonriverneck‘s upcoming new album.

You can listen to the show by clicking here and this is what I played:

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Jack White – Blunderbuss

Enigmatic musical time traveller, Jack White, makes an impressive solo debut with Blunderbuss.

It was with a sense of both expectation and concern I pressed play on Jack White’s first solo record, Blunderbuss, this morning – expectation because I am a big fan of both his past noises and his approach to music, but concern because rarely when I have expectations for a record do they live up to them.

Having managed to avoid much of the hype before the release of the album I had only heard one thing about it, which was that it sounded more like someone trying to copy musicians of old than make an original record.

If I’m honest I can see partially why someone might have this view, however I think that is to undersell the record.

While its clear Jack White is a man well versed in the history of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, country and many other genres, and he uses a lot of these sounds and influences on Blunderbuss, it is also very clearly presented with his own take on the styles and sounds.

Closer in feel to The White Stripes work than his many other projects (in that it veers around tone and genre pretty extensively), but with the broadened palette of having whatever extra instruments and band members Jack desires, the album starts with the sound of a Rhodes Piano and goes on to take in a mix of both White’s distinct vocal and guitar sounds alongside new elements not previously heard to create a great set of sounds.

In the hands of many other musicians a set of songs like this may well come off as simply them re-treading many a well trodden path, but Jack White’s unique delivery combined with the surprisingly slick production work makes for a record that both celebrates the past while being something of its own.

For me the highlights are the more electric guitar driven tracks, particularly Sixteen Saltines, Freedom at 21 and I’m Shakin’, but there really isn’t a weak track on the whole album.

While I don’t think it will win Jack White many new fans, if you don’t like what he’s done before you’re unlikely to like this, for me it brings all the diverse elements that have made White’s music so unique in the past onto one disc that shows, despite all the various forays into other bands, side-projects and label and production work, there is still a lot of life left in his own original musical side that first came to the fore in The White Stripes and certainly proves (if it needed proving any further) that Jack White is not simply a garage rock revivalist, but a man of many musical seasons.

Note: I wanted to put up the video of Sixteen Saltines, but apparently I’m not allowed to watch it in this country… but that’s a rant for another time.

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Vale Earth Fair Fundraiser – Toupe, Black Capsule, Falenizza Horsepower and Of Empires

Toupe (and guest) – Photo by Tom Girard (C) BBC Guernsey

This past Saturday the Vale Earth Fair held their first fundraiser towards the day long festival which takes place at the end of August at the Vale Castle in Guernsey.

The show featured music from Southampton based band Toupe, Black Capsule, Jersey’s Falenizza Horsepower and Of Empires.

You can see photos I took at the show on the BBC Guernsey website and here’s my review, which appeared in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 28th April 2012:

Scan from Gallery Magazine May 2012 – Photos courtesy BBC Guernsey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t get any videos from this gig but Elliot from Guernsey Gigs did so here are a couple of them and you can see others over at Guernsey Gigs.

Of Empires

Black Capsule

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Indie Night at the Fermain Tavern – Last of the Light Brigade, China Aster and The Raffle

China Aster - Photo by Tom Girard, (C) BBC Guernsey

Three of Guernsey’s top indie rock bands play to a small audience at The Fermain Tavern, but why the small audiences in recent months, or is it just that I’m noticing it more?

Check out my photos of the night on BBC Introducing’s Facebook page.

It was another night of three bands for three pounds at The Fermain Tavern on Friday 20th April 2012 as indie bands Last of the Light Brigade, China Aster and The Raffle took to the stage.

Last of the Light Brigade were, oddly, up first, but they took the opportunity to play a different set to usual including several brand new numbers that will be featuring on their upcoming release, including what they described as their new single.

The new songs had a darker edge and often a slower tempo than much of their earlier work taking the indie-mod-punk sound they have become known for and doing something new with it.

The new single, which started the set, stood out particularly as combining the band’s own sound with elements reminiscent of the Manic Street Preachers ‘big’ songs.

It was just a shame the audience remained distant and seemed more interested in talking as loudly as possible over the music than engaging with the quality music on offer.

China Aster were up next in a four piece form I had not seen before which, if nothing else, removed the constant instrument swapping issues that had been one of the major flaws of their earlier sets.

Tonight the 1980’s style indie band once again showed that they have some great original tunes and they are clearly well versed in the sound of band’s like The Smiths but, unfortunately, their lack of presence and confidence on stage made it hard to connect with them.

While I understand confidence on stage is often a problem faced by new bands (I’ve felt it myself), it just feels like a shame to me as with a bit more strength in their performance China Aster have the potential to be a great band in a style not so regularly seen in Guernsey.

Finally on stage tonight were The Raffle, and I have to admit that I was skeptical going into their set.

While I have thought the band had, in the past, shown themselves to be a top indie act in the style of many of the 1990s bands that populated the scene that spawned mega-stars like Oasis, their most recent shows I had seen had been something of a disappointment and then they all but disappeared for what must have been a couple of years.

My skepticism was un-nesscesary though as by the second song of their set this seemed to be a rejuvenated Raffle with their old swagger and edge-y sound and attitude firmly back in place across a set of great songs.

My only criticism of their set would be the ‘banter’ between songs which seemed to go right over my head and was meant for their friends only, giving anyone who wasn’t part of the group the feeling of being something of an intruder at the show.

From Guernsey Press 28/04/12 - Words by Tom Girard, Photo by Andrew Le Poidevin

Tonight also seemed to be a night for drummers with all three impressing greatly.

Last of the Light Brigade’s Stu Carre has always been a solid presence at the back of the three-piece and remained so tonight.

China Aster’s George Le Page really showed a drive and energy tonight, and a strength his band mates would do well to take something from and it seemed to me George was even holding back tonight and it would be great to see him let go and really rock sometime.

Ben Hewlett, who beats the skins for The Raffle, also showed elements of being a real powerhouse behind the kit, especially on the band’s final song where he pretty much took over from the guitars and vocals and made the track his own with a real strength and power not often seen in this style of music.

Once again the crowd was quite small tonight and this led me, and several of the people I spoke to at the gig, to ask the same question, which I will end this review on… is the recent issue of many small audiences at gigs down to the fact bands don’t do enough to help promote shows?

(I honestly don’t know the answer to this one, but feel free to let me know what you think in the comments box below).

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My second general election – some semi-stream of consciousness stuff

A generic election image... exciting!

This isn’t a review but more a personal blog based on my thoughts of Guernsey’s general election which happened today and is the second one I’ve voted in – just to make it clear, I am far from a political expert, and this is very rambling, but hopefully might make some coherent points amid my stream of consciousness mess and hopefully I don’t sound like an uneducated fool!

If you want more informed comment I’d suggest going here or here.

If you’d told me even 6 or 7 years ago that I’d care enough about an election to tweet and blog about it I’d have thought you were mad – my opinion (which isn’t entirely changed) was that government in the form it exists, both in Guernsey and the UK, is so deeply flawed, what’s the point of engaging with it?

However, it’s now Wednesday 18th April 2012 at about 9pm, so the polling stations are closed, and I headed up to the Castel Douzaine room this afternoon to put some X’s on a bit of a paper next to some people’s names.

I wouldn’t say they were all people I genuinely thought would be good at running the island (a couple may have been), and this is probably the first of my problems that I am wrestling with when it comes to actually getting involved.

Thanks to the way the system works over here I vote for up to 7 candidates standing in my ‘Electoral District’ and I will admit to having a challenge deciding on who I did want to vote for (though I certainly knew a couple I didn’t want to vote for).

In the past this is what made me not want to vote, I don’t like any of them, so I won’t vote for any of them and I won’t even bother paying attention, now however, I largely approached it more from a standpoint of who do I want to keep out… and this is troubling.

Surely the point should be to vote for people that seem to be standing for the same things you stand for and that you genuinely support – or maybe I’m too much of an idealist?

In my patch, from what I could tell, there was little to no mention of anything to do with issues I genuinely care about, specifically things to do with the island’s culture and heritage (which I feel are overlooked by ‘the powers that be’ on a regular basis, despite the amount of work real people put in for next to no comeback other a sense of pride for getting off their arses and doing something), and certain issues of equality which Guernsey has yet to face up to and which often makes the island feel more than a little bit stuck in the dark ages.

So this made making a choice as an idealist hard, and maybe I am now resigned to the fact that idealism in Guernsey politics will never work… maybe…

The other thing that has struck me in recent years is why I think its important to vote… and my thinking on this has come round.

In the past, as I’ve said, I was maybe approaching it from the ‘wrong’ angle (and by that I mean the right angle), but now I’ve overcome that I’ve also realized that democracy is the voice of the people effecting those in power and that if everyone voted and got more involved the outcome might be fairer and also the reason we have democracy is that people have fought for the right to it.

So I think we should respect that and use it (and anyone who knows me will know I don’t say this as a pro-fighting sort, but it had to be fought for and I respect that, maybe that comes from seeing bunkers everywhere and being reminded of what the cost was for the freedoms we do have, I don’t mean that it was just World War Two, there have been many other battles for democracy before and since, but the bunkers are obvious reminder).

While the outcome may not always be what I want, it is people power in action and, while sometimes public opinion may not be something I go along with, it is, at least the closest we can get to being what the people want and the more people who get involved the more likely it is to be a fair representation – even if that’s wrong in my opinion.

The other thing that’s come up this time is social media and that has engaged me greatly, sadly not with any of the people in my patch, as other than a few follows from candidates earlier on Twitter (who I didn’t follow back as I’m not going to follow you just because your standing, make me want to follow you!), I saw little activity.

However, regarding a few other candidates, there was a lot of action, both positive and negative for their campaign (one @deputyjoseph springs to mind) and the election issues in general came up time and again on Twitter and did seem to draw me in.

Anyway I’ve rambled enough for anyone who made it this far, but, I think in future the system needs revising to make it work better with island wide voting for a start, so I might actually be able to work from at least an element of my idealist tendencies, and the other problem is that very few of the candidates actually spoke about anything other than very general things which anyone could have come up with and felt largely soulless (but maybe that’s just a reflection of our current mainstream society).

Who knows if I will care in 4 years time, I may have lost myself in a sea of despair once again at the state of politics on our little rock and beyond, or I may go the other way, we’ll see…

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Forwards, Backwards and Forwards Again – Exhibition

New exhibition at the Guernsey Arts Commission’s venue leaves me feeling slightly baffled and a bit disappointed.

So first off, this is my first ever attempt at reviewing a visual arts exhibition, but I have been to a few over the years so I’ll give this a go, and, as always, will be nothing if not honest in what I think of it.

I was surprised on my arrival at the greenhouse (the Guernsey Arts Commission’s exhibition space in the Guernsey Information Centre in St Peter Port) that the door was shut and the had blackout material over the glass, which had the effect of making the small gallery look shut, despite the signs outside saying otherwise.

None-the-less I ventured in to find all the windows blacked out and an automatic slide projector clacking away to itself in the middle of the room.

After my eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight outside to the darkness I found a copy of the exhibition flyer, and saw there were three large photographs on the wall opposite the slide projection and on the far wall a small screen with a film running on it and headphones attached.

Compared to previous exhibitions I have visited in the greenhouse, this one seemed somewhat sparse as along with the photos, film and projection in the main room, the small room at the back featured a simply arranged screening of another film.

This film in the back room was the most coherent part of the experience for me.

Entitled Firedive, and made by photographer and filmmaker Tim Bowditch, it was first screened in summer 2011 as part of a special swimming gala event at St Peter Port’s bathing pools to celebrate the galas of old, which featured the original firedive events.

Taking a look at a rarely celebrated element of Guernsey’s social history through the memories and voices of those involved, and culminating in a reenactment of the torch-fire-lit procession that was part of the event, it is a fascinating film that looks as good as the memories sound with visuals of the bathing pools used very well to accompany the voices.

Also interesting was the new short film Out of Vision by Sybella Perry, which explored the creation of Firedive and its initial screening – my only criticism of this being that the sound made it at times hard to listen to as it sounded like the audio was recorded in an echo chamber.

La Vallette: Three Exposures by Theo Niderost, was the name given to the series of three photographs hanging on the wall of the greenhouse. While the three were undeniably good photos that each captured something different of the bathing pools, I found it hard to work out what they were meant to add to the overall concept.

Reading the extensive explanatory notes in the exhibition flyer (which it was too dark to properly read in the exhibition) it became clearer that the intent was to provide a different view of the bathing pools – more remote than the film and in a different medium and, therefore, different mental space – however I didn’t get this from looking at them.

I would say though this may be due to the fact that, being a Guernseyman, the area is so familiar to me that seeing it through new eyes is a challenge and this piece may work better for visitors to the island.

Finally the centre of the room and one wall was taken up by a slide projector projecting what seemed to be images of the moon onto the white wall of the venue through a transparent piece of blue plastic.

Again without the explanation of the from the flyer this seemed hard to translate into the over arching concept, other than some relation to tides – I think it was also hampered by the light levels in the room, which, despite the blackouts, made the projection somewhat vague until my head got around what it was meant to be, by which point it was more a frustration to try to work out than anything else.

In the end, for me the exhibition felt disjointed and somewhat inaccessible without the extensive explanations in the accompanying flyer. However it was nice to see the greenhouse used for something slightly different than just pictures on the walls and in display cases and also the work having a relevance to Guernsey.

The other thing that seemed odd was the fact that for a gallery that previously had seemed to have a staunchly non-commercial outlook, there was a separate flyer advertising the sale of copies of Niderost’s photographs, though as a means of fundraising for the Guernsey Arts Commission, this seems like a nice new idea.

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Rock of Ages 16

Rock of Ages returned for its 16th event on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th April 2012 with Evarane headlining along with a bunch of Guernsey bands at The Carlton Plaza.

Alongside Evarane we were treated to So Cold The River, 2 Minutes 2 Late, From Bedrooms To Backseats, Breaking The Silence and The Doomsday Project.

Check out my photos from the show for BBC Introducing Guernsey through the Facebook page.

Following the event, and having spoken to both the organisers and some of the bands I put a feature together for BBC Introducing Guernsey. You can read it here: Guernsey’s Rock Of Ages Promotes New Bands

I also reviewed the show for the Guernsey Press (printed in the issue dated Saturday 21st April 2012):

Evarane

2 Minutes 2 Late

From Bedrooms To Backseats

The Doomsday Project

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Speakeasy in Gallery Magazine

The April issue of Guernsey’s Gallery Magazine, Hijack, has hit the shelves and this month it features my review of the new album from mod rock supergroup Speakeasy, featuring one of Guernsey’s most legendary and prolific musicians, Mark Le Gallez.

Mark made his name in The Risk before co-founding The Sacred Hearts, Redbones, Thee Jenerators and The John Wesley Stone, as well as performing solo as the rustic steampunk monster The Crowman.

The band also features Simon Stebbing of The Purple Hearts, Brett ‘Buddy’ Ascot of The Chords and Mic Stoner.

Anyway, you can read the magazine online here (the music section is near the back as ever) and you can find the it in many shops and newsagents in Guernsey to pick up for free (so if you’re on the rock go and pick it up, there’s a lot more than my page in there).

But here is a scan of my page too if you aren’t able to get hold of a copy:

You can also read my review of Speakeasy’s debut EP, The ToeRag Sessions, from 2006 on the BBC Guernsey website.

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