Monday, 23 April 2018

The Slow Readers Club: Build A Tower - Album Review

Alreet there! Another great Manchester band that are destined for big things.

The Slow Readers Club.

Build A Tower.
Modern Sky Records.
CD/DL/Vinyl (Limited Edition).
Release date: 4th May.
Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4
Manchester has some strong talent around these days and The Slow Readers Club are on par to join the likes of Blossoms and Cabbage. The third album from the indie electro Manc four piece should see them propelled into the indie mainstream with their dark and sophisticated anthems.
Slow Readers have been building up momentum for quite a few years now with a cult following of fans growing and growing due to their Killers / Editors type tunes and support slots with the likes of big hitters James and Catfish & The Bottlemen. They have a large sound which is down to the polished production duties of Phil Bulleyment (Gaz Coombes, Dutch Uncles) and some of the songs sound like anthems  made for the larger venues. It’s as if their first two albums were a build up to the one that will surely have them on major radio rotation and if that’s what they are after that’s fine. There will be the usual music snobs out there who will have their gripes…. do they matter? Since their debut in 2011 they have honed their sound with skill and experience as can be heard on this latest piece.
It all kicks off with first single Lunatic,  all keyboards and techno style beats layered with a great guitar sound and dark lyrics reminiscent of Curtis “Build a tower, hundred storeys high, lock myself in, isolation” It’s a great start for Aaron and company. Next song Supernatural wouldn’t look uncomfortable on a Foals album with that guitar sound and groovy beat. They may have dark lyrics but the sounds are instantly infectious. You Opened Up My Heart is like listening to The Killers, or Interpol on e-numbers kicking in with a nice New Order-esque drum beat and a guitar riff that reminds me of the theme tune to Knight Rider! It has a cracking chorus that will be ringing around the festival circuit in a raucous sing along. Never Said I Was The Only One has a Julian Cope feel to it as Aaron has that same vocal range quality and it reminds me of early Teardrop Explodes stuff. On The TV is another future anthem and in the same line as Foals / Maccabees type indie offerings is catchy as fuck. They continue in a similar vein with tracks like Lives Never Known, the excellent single Through The Shadows and more. The only disappointment for me is the last track Distant Memory which trundles of into nowhere and stops the album from getting a 5 bomb review for me.

Have The Readers finally made the album that shoots them into the big indie league? They sound like so many other bands like Editors, Foals, New Order, The Maccabees, The Killers, Interpol, however they have made their own niche in the scene and can write a good anthem with ease. Personally I think this is going somewhere as their sound and production qualities are up there and this could easily sit in a lot of commercial indie heads record collection. And if they can sell out the Albert Hall in Manchester just by word of mouth you can see the bigger venues and large festivals beckoning. A refreshing band that are poised for the jump!
Official Website:
26th – Cardiff, Globe
27th – Southampton, Engine Rooms
28th – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
4th – Manchester, Cathedral
5th – Liverpool, Sound City Festival
6th – Glasgow, Stag & Dagger Festival
10th – Newcastle, Riverside
11th – Hull, The Welly
12th – Nottingham, Rock City
17th – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
18th – Norwich, Arts Centre
19th – Northwich, Library (The Charlatans Northwich homecoming)
25th – London, Islington Assembly Hall
26th – Stoke, Sugarmill
Tickets are available here.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Steven VX & The Art Rats : D.N.R - Album Review

New punk duo from Belfast enter stage!!

Steven VX & The Art Rats: D.N.R – Album Review

Steven VX & The Art Rats
Out now – CD/DL
Debut album from Belfast duo hits the streets with a shot of adrenaline for the punk junkies out there with some youthful anger.

For those who don’t know out there Steven Donnelly was once the frontman of highly rated Belfast rockers VX and has been been a fixture on the local Belfast scene ever since. He dabbles in a bit of everything including his band, photography, gig promoter and DJ. Now teaming up with Andy VX as The Art Rats this release packs quite a punch.
It kicks off with a nice slice of feedback and news commentary before the heavy riffs kick in on Strip with Steven giving it some welly in the shouting stakes. There’s no stopping as they blast straight into MGD another punk roller with bollocks and then go full pelt again with next track Vaccine. Three decent enough songs blared out in a youthful angst fashion that are probably already going down well live across the water. They slow down a bit with a short intro which leads into Daydreamer, a dub laden punk groove which blows up quite quickly about a third through with their heavy guitar routines. Nightcrawler is next with it’s lyrics about paranoia and rats in sewers layered with pummeling guitar and drums. They finish off with a couple of punk standards including the excellent Crave which reminds me of Gallows and the heavy Trespass which rumbles towards the finale an acoustic D.N.R which somehow doesn’t quite fit with the album, or maybe I just don’t get it?
Coming in under 30 minutes this is a joy for old school punk fans and they will probably be a fixture at the punk festivals when they finally arrive over here. Think of The Bronx, Slaves, Ruts DC and you’re getting there.  They’ve already supported Steve Ignorant and are starting to make waves on the punk scene as I speak!

You can catch the band on Facebook 
Album is available on Bandcamp and Amazon.
Words by Wayne Carey who writes for Louder Than War. His author profile is here

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Chameleons legend reveals his fave albums

Mark Burgess decides to tell me his favourite albums! 

Mark Burgess has always been an icon on the music scene due to the amazing work he did as frontman with The Chameleons. Their album Script From A Bridge influenced so many people and was a debut up there with the best of the best. He still keeps at it as Chameleons Vox and will be starting a European tour this month. I spoke to Mark about the albums that influenced him and those that have made a mark during his years of touring, and still holding that post-punk torch, keeping The Chameleons sound alive and kicking.

Please Please Me – The Beatles

First album I ever owned at the age of four, a present from my Nan. Hamburg Beatles always remained my favourite period, very Punk attitude and really classic 60’s pop tunes, unpretentious and masses of energy. Fave track: Do You Want To Know A Secret, showing Lennon & McCartney genius from day one.

The Doors – The Doors

By the age of nine I was buying my own records. I’d come across this bunch listening to radio Luxembourg, a pirate station that broadcast during the early hours when I’d be left alone without a sitter. I just loved the weirdness of it, unearthly with that haunting voice. Beautiful. Fave track Break On Through.

Electric Warrior – T.Rex

I loved  Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose records I’d heard on John Peel’s show around 1970, but it was 1972 I believe when I finally went and bought a T.Rex record. This one. I’ve still got my original copy although over the years I’ve had to add a few more because I wore it out so much. I got the remastered CD set, which is fabulous for all the extra stuff, music and promo, but the 180 gram double vinyl remaster that includes the demos is the best of the lot. Fantastic production and string arrangements from Tony Visconti giving it its raw edge. The most live sounding album he made.  Favourite track: Ripoff.

Alice Cooper – Schools Out

Saw this guy for the first time on the Old Grey Whistle Test performing a track from their album ‘Killer’ and he scared me to death, in a good way. Killer is a fabulous album – Bob Ezrin actually gave me his own copy and signed it after I was lucky enough to a share a dinner table with him one evening, but I’ve gone for the follow up because it had a huge impact on me as a kid. My first portable cassette player came that Christmas and I played this album on that machine solidly for about a year. People came to forget that actually Alice Cooper was a BAND, and what a brilliant band they were my favourite out and out rock band of all time. Fave track – Blue Turk.

Propaganda – Sparks.

I could easily have chosen a dozen albums by this duo from their first record first to the most recently released ‘Hippopotamus’, which came out just last year, but I have to go for this one. Like ‘Kimono My House’, the album that preceded it – regarded by many as their best -Propaganda bristles from start to finish at a breakneck pace. I actually followed both those tours around North West England aged 13, lying to my parents about staying over at a friend’s place, so they wouldn’t report me missing to the local police. Simply the most original and intelligent pop music ever produced and probably my most favourite pop act ever. produced and probably my most favourite pop act ever. Fave track: ‘Don’t Leave Me Alone With Her’. What a chorus!

David Bowie – Station To Station

Again I could have picked at least a dozen albums by this guy in his various guises, from Space Oddity all the way to Blackstar, released just after his death, a day I prayed would never come. He and Marc Bolan were such huge influences on me as a kid, and Bowie continued to be so for most of my life. Bowie’s voice on this record is just fabulous and his persona more alien than ever, while the writing is on a whole higher level than anything that had come before. Listened to it three times a week for free at the old Virgin Record shop on Oldham Street until I’d saved enough money to finally buy it. Fave Track: Station To Station

The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

A breath of fresh air to everyone with the possible exception of Tony Blackburn and most of the House of Commons, who actually held a debate in Parliament over what to do about this obvious threat to the fabric of British 1970’s society. One of the best bands I’ve ever seen, certainly in the top five and anyone who says this band couldn’t play don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. Fave track: Bodies.

Damned Damned Damned – The Damned.

The first Punk Band I ever heard on the radio, again courtesy of the Pirate Radio Luxembourg, and the first Punk band I actually ever saw. My favourite memory though is of the band opening for T.Rex at Manchester Apollo. This album is one the purest rock and roll albums ever made, the golden age before the departure of Bryan James. Fave track: Fan Club

Rattus Norvicus – The Stranglers.

More genius songwriting from the immense Hugh Cornwell, coming across as a kind of Punk Incarnation of The Doors at times. One of the bands that made me want to pick the bass up. I’d play along to this record at 78rpm so I could learn to play faster! Fave track: Goodbye Toulouse.

Live At The Witch Trials – The Fall.

One of the best incarnations of The Fall ever and my personal favourite from all the hours and hours of brilliance across the years, mainly for the memories of Manchester that it continues to evoke in me, the golden ages of the Manchester Underground. Fave Track: Rebellious Juke Box.

Metal Box – Public Image Ltd.

Another aid in my struggle to be a bass player, playing along to Jah Wobble and demolishing all the knick-knacks on a neighbours wall three doors down in the process. The only album I ever enjoyed listening to on weed. Fave track: Careering.


One of the great things about being an avid fan of The Old Grey Whistle Test is that occasionally you got to discover bands like this. Absolutely brilliant band and criminally underrated and ignored. I remain a Jon Foxx fan to this day. Hate what the band became, to be honest but nothing can take away the sheer brilliance of those first three albums. Fave track; Wide Boys

Gary Numan – Are Friends Electric.

Without Ultravox, we wouldn’t have had this fella, chosen because personally, I think it contains one of the greatest pop singles ever made. Fave track: Are Friends Electric

The Best Thing – Grow Up.

Joy Division and Factory Records seem to hog the limelight when it comes to Manchester’s legacy, few remember that they were only one of a number of cool Indie labels in the city back then. Chief amongst them Object Music with the fascinatingly original Spherical Objects At it’s centre. One of those guys, John Bisset Smith formed his own project, Grow Up, the only person who could ever out Morrissey Morrissey. When Peel got this album he played it from start to finish during a single broadcast and I don’t blame him. Fave track – Dear Isobelle.

The Hounds Of Love – Kate Bush.

First record I ever bought on CD and I still have it and it doesn’t even skip. Fell in love with her at Wuthering Heights, but this album is a masterpiece from start to finish. A true Anglo-Saxon Goddess. Fave Track -Cloudbusting

Grace – Jeff Buckley.

As a singer, it’s hard to listen to this man and not think, ‘well I might as well just pack it in now because what’s the fuckin’ point?’ Absolutely sensational but one of those voices you’re either going to love or hate, I’m obviously of the former. For me this is a perfect album and while it’s always sad to lose a genius to the grim reaper, JEFF’s untimely demise is particularly tragic and hard to take. Fave track – Grace.

An End Has A Start – Editors.

Just love this band and respect them enormously. Probably the one lyricist I regard as a kindred spirit when it comes to themes. Great guitar, great vocals, great sense of melody. Just majestic. Fave track: The Weight of the World.

Bloom – Beach House.

Another great and beautifully original American band of the more contemporary variety. Great in the car at night on those long drives up and down the motorway. I’ve gone for ‘Bloom’ because it contains their finest moment, the epic single and…..

….. my fave track ‘Myth’

I’ve missed loads and I could carry on like this for hours, so I’m going to end it with one of my favourite contemporary bands Radiohead, and again while I could easily have chosen any one of at least half a dozen of their records I’m going for……..
…….. In Rainbows.  I think it’s possibly the best of the bunch and I was invited, like millions of others, to pay whatever I wanted for it. Having not heard it I sent them 15 quid and it was worth every penny, most I believe elected to give them nothing, a fact I find utterly disgusting. One of the greatest bands EVER.

Fave track – Reckoner.

Mark is on tour with Chameleons Vox from the end of the month. All dates are above.
Wayne Carey – Louder Than War.