Matthew Eland is a writer, musician, video producer and free spirit. He knows Liverpool and the music scene like the back of his hand.
So who better to review the sounds in the City that matter. In the first of his columns, Matthew casts his eye over the Liverpool Calling compilation CD which backs the popular leftfield band night of the same name run by Dirtblonde duo Ivan and Lula.
Send demos and sounds for possible review to Getintothis, Peter Guy, PO Box 48, Old Hall St, Liverpool, L693EB. Or email gig news & band contacts to MatthewEland1@hotmail.comÃ¢ÂÂ
Liverpool Calling is a collection of band’s whose names you’ll have seen plastered around town recently for the weekly gig nights at Hannah’s Bar.
They aim to showcase bands that go beyond the ‘obvious retro/merseybeat’ sound normal associated with this city, and as with compilations of this type, it’s a hit and miss affair, both in terms of song and recording quality.
The Affection get things started, channeling Bleach-era Nirvana in their track Compass.
The Dead Class follow, seeming to specialise in treble heavy Fratellis-style pop, but with enough quirky invention to avoid sounding as risible as that last sentence would suggest. Heads of State do themselves a great disservice with the poor quality of their demo, but they seem pretty tight, and their Husker Du/Ramones-style pop punk pleases my ears.
Straight Out of Moscow shoot the most original shot over the bow. Imagine early Red Hot Chilli Peppers with a hardcore punk drummer, and you’re not far from them.
The only problem is that they’re not quite tight enough, as if their musical abilities sit just shy of their targets. You can even hear the singer lose his breath mid-scream.
Jewel Thief‘s Look for the Moon has some decent production but is a bit too derivative of the Deep Purple/Ocean Colour Scene mash up they’re presumably aiming for, while the Blackwood Articles produce the first track I actually dislike.
I’d heard good things about the band, but the production’s shit, the drummer’s audibly tiring, and the male vocals are pointlessly fuzzy and high in the mix.
Beta Male from Aeris Presley sort of gets things back on track. The arch, self-important vocals works well here, but could end up grating after a while, while Fraktures are purveyors of instantly forgettable rockabilly.
Sex Education break from the indie-boys-with-guitars vibe, delivering a disco-rock Hot Machine-style thing. It’s pretty forgettable the constant vocal refrain reducing the song to indistinct mush, unlike Esa Shield‘s weird electronica. The vocals never quite carry over the music, but it’s full of strange noises and casio madness.
The ASBOs aren’t big, or clever, but they are pretty good. Weird Dream relates the somnambulic escapades of the singer ‘doing sex with a slippery thing’. The production’s quite nice, with some spooky looped voices whispering just out of audible range during the middle eight.
It’s followed by Dirt Blonde, a band I was looking forward to hearing, but on this evidence, found disappointing. I’d describe it as being Sup Pop style punk. The track doesn’t really go anywhere, and it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.
Mugstar‘s contribution took some getting used to, a higher tempo departure from the epic instrumental soundscapes they made a name for. But it soon starts to make sense, as the song leads into a bass-led breakdown, the drums and guitars dancing around it. Friday’s Ghost sounds like Morrissey singing in the New Young Pony Club, and while it’s hard to get past the vocal doppelganger, once you do, there’s a lot going on under the surface. When the Mozz-a-like sings: ‘This is not what I had in my former life‘, the effect is suitably spooky.
So, some good, some bad, some indifferent. Star of the show, though, is probably the legendary Stan Ambrose, who has a track hidden on the end. It starts off as a harp instrumental before segueing halfway through into a sea shanty about the crew of a ship and it’s doomed quartermaster. It’s ace.
1. The Affection: Compass
2. The Dead Class: No
3. Heads of State: After All This Time
4. Straight out of Moscow: Rhythm Bus
5. Jewel Thief: Look for the Moon
6. The Blackwood Articles: Hexagons and Centipedes
7. Aeris Presley: Beta Male
8. Fraktures: Nightmares
9. Sex Education Twisting and Shaking
10. Esa Shields Monde Capricorn
11. Asbos: Weird Dream
12. Dirtblonde: Niagra
13. Mugstar : Man with Supersight
14. Friday’s Ghost: Work of the Invisible Hand