Posts Tagged ‘Wakefield’

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a long time coming. Not only was Long Division postponed from 2020, but the usual may / June date pushed back – and back – to the penultimate weekend in September. In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate Long Division over the more renowned Live at Leeds, which increasingly feels more mainstream-orientated and generally more commercial, while the smaller event has retained its predominantly local focus (plus the now-obligatory Scottish contingent, who are always welcome) and a sense of catering to a broader demographic, with up-and-coming talent sitting comfortably along well-established and even what I suppose you might consider more heritage acts. In short, there’s something for everyone, and with Wakefield being a compact city, none of the venues are more than a few minutes’ walk from one another.

An indication of a well-planned festival is the breadth and depth of the bill, where it’s possible to spread the quality over the course of the day instead of flopping listlessly around in the early evening before all five of your must-see acts all playing between half eight and eleven, and arriving early doors meant being rewarded with The Golden Age of TV being first on at WX – a new venue, and a good one, right next to the wristband exchange. WX is spacious – by which I mean huge., but has good sound, and band seem to enjoy the big stage. The band have evolved significantly during their time away, and if Bea’s oversized jacket has a touch of the David Byrnes, vocally, she’s transitioned from Florence Welch to Siouxsie Sioux as she leads the band through a tight and energetic set of guitar-driven post punk infused indie rock. They’ve certainly set the bar high for the rest of the day.

DSC_0470

The Golden Age of TV

Solo artist Mayshe Mayshe’s sparse, minimal ethereal synth pop provides a strong contrast. Although with no obvious or radical changes, with the hair dryer still a feature of her set, she conjures magic with vocal loops and atmosphere, with an array of heavily-echoed modes of percussion and some shuddering bass frequencies. There’s some really deft and dextrous pedal work and real-time mixing, and it’s a captivatingly understated performance.

It’s back over to the WX, where Hands Off Gretel open with ‘Milk’, and Lauren Tate is straight in with a full-throated roar and all of the Cortney Love guitar poses with her foot in monitor. ‘Bigger than Me’ from the new Angry EP is a rager: there’s no question they’re at their best when they really let it all rip, and less so when it comes to chat between songs, while Lauren has trouble with a bottle of water for much of the set. New song ‘War’ is also a stormer, and ‘Don’t Touch’ from new EP also has bite, if very strong hints of The Pretty Reckless. They close with a passable but middling rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’, and the lasting impression is of the style and the delivery rather than the songs.

Last time I saw Cud was 1992, and I had wondered just what kind of interest there would be in them in Wakefield in the middle of the afternoon. They’re one of those bands who were never cool, but then didn’t much give a fuck, and it seems little has changed, really. Carl Puttnam has still got the moves, and the look of a chubby pimp with lounge style vocals. They’re well-received, with a lot of middle aged people dancing down the front, especially to ‘Rich and Strange’ and the baggy groove of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ during which some guy in a ‘Child of Cud’ T got on stage and did a Bez. And you know what? Maybe nostalgia is what it used to be, and they were good fun.

DSC_0489

Cud

Remaining in the WX, it’s not quite as busy for Brix and The Extricated, who power through a lively set. She’s got all the energy and positively full the state with presence, a restless force and a whirl of red sequins and platinum hair. The Fall’s ‘Feeling Numb’ lands fairly early on, and after ‘Dinosaur Girl’, they’re into the timeless classic that is ‘LA’. It doesn’t get better than that.

DSC_0502

Brix and the Extricated

Only, perhaps it does: Big Joanie have got The Establishment rammed to capacity, and it’s remarkable to see how they’ve gone from supporting Charlie Bliss at Headrow House in Leeds just a couple of years ago to playing one of the buzziest sets of the day ahead of a tour supporting IDLES in 1,500 capacity venues. This, of course, makes this afternoon’s set all the sweeter, and what’s so pleasing to see is that the band themselves haven’t changed. They still stand out, with their standing drumming as the sparse power trio deliver simple chord repetitions with instant hooks. Less is definitely more and they looked to be really enjoying themselves, too, and if you‘re looking for examples of strong role models with a positive message as well as great tunes, they deliver, while being completely devoid of cliché.

DSC_0507

Big Joanie

Watching Lanterns on the Lake’s mellow, expansive post-rock with some smooth textures and dynamic drumming, I realise that I’ve witnessed – quite unintentionally – a day of music with predominantly female-fronted acts, and it’s incredibly refreshing considering just how depressingly testosterone-led most festival and gig lineups are. Equally, the stylistic range is remarkable. Lanterns are easy on the ear but by no means dull, with hints of Portishead, and they end the set with guitarist Paul Gregory with a shredded violin bow after a truly epic crescendo. The experience is subtly powerful and ultimately quite moving.

Skipping across town, we find Idlewild front man Roddy Woomble in a church laying an (almost) solo set. We’re seated, in pews. The same pews we saw Scots troubadour RM Hubbert a couple of years back. Place is tight for the performers, and Woomble paces a tight spot as he really inhabits the songs, where a retro drum machine and washes of synth back his voice.

Making a swift and sadly premature exit, I scoot (not literally) to dive bar Vortex for Weekend Recovery. A band who’s ever-evolving, they have a different lineup post pandemic, and tonight stripped back to trio, their sound is a lot harder, heavier and darker. Lori’s looking a bit Susie Quatro. ‘In the Mourning’ crashes in second in and drives hard. With Lori on sole guitar duties, it’s down to the dirty fat bass to fill out the sound, and it certainly does. ‘There’s a Sense’ soars and slams and nags, while ‘Yeah!?’ takes a slower, more sultry turn. The set closer and upcoming single single sees shared vocal duties with bassist and further accentuate the harder sound, and it’s a cracking close to a sweaty set.

DSC_0529

Weekend Recovery

We’re spoilt for choice of headliners, and while I’d have loved to have stuck around for The Lovely Eggs, trains make this unfeasible, and so I go for Hull’s brightest new hopes Low Hummer, a band very much on the up, and fast. Just a week after the release of their debut album, they’ve been booked to replace The Anchoress supporting Manic Street Preachers on tour in a week or so, they could well be on the brink of being big, and deservedly so. They may be a comparatively ‘new’, and youthful, too, but they exude a stong assuredness and they sound amazing, and so tight. Blasting in with ‘Take Arms’ and they pack the songs back to back with no pausing for breath and no messing about. The songs are built around steady repetitions, and they’re simultaneously dynamic and nonchalant in their delivery.

DSC_0539DSC_0544

Low Hummer

So while the rail network is shaky and world continues to go to hell, it’s beyond uplifting to be able to forget about it all for a bit and lose yourself in a day of quality music. It’s an incredibly welcome return for Long Division, who’ve not only done a great job with the lineup and scheduling with spacing between bands, but also wonderful to attend an even with such a great atmosphere, free of dickish behaviour – and with a general sense of community. Things are a long way from being back to normal, but Long Division provided the perfect escape. A triumphant return.

Long Division ​have confirmed the first wave of guests for this year’s festival, now scheduled for the weekend of September 25th rather than it’s usual occurrence in early June. Having made the decision to move the Wakefield festival to give them the best chance of staging it in a safe manner, Long Division’s organisers are now optimistic about the festival going ahead following the UK government’s roadmap towards easing Covid-19 restrictions. Consisting mostly of artists who were originally scheduled to play the festival in 2020, this initial lineup will be added to over the coming months.

At the forefront of the announcement are Sunderland indie stalwarts ​The Futureheads​, renowned beatboxer and comedian​ Beardyman​, lo-fi psych-punk duo​ The Lovely Eggs​, the Manchester post-punk collective ​Brix & The Extricated​ (featuring the ex-Fall members Brix Smith Start and Steve Hanley), and ​Lanterns on the Lake​ who released their Mercury-nominated latest album on Bella Union last year. Joining them are The Wirral’s ​She Drew The Gun​, Scottish singer-songwriter and Idlewild frontman ​Roddy Woomble​, and London-duo ​Peggy Sue​, along with Beans on Toast​, ​Too Many T’s​, ​Big Joanie​, ​Hands Off Gretel​, ​Langkramer​, ​Katie Spencer​, ​Jodie Nicholson​ and ​Mt Misery​.

With the first Long Division event dating back to 2011, the award-winning festival celebrates their long-running status this year with their 10th edition. An occasion which has grown over the years to become one of the most anticipated cultural events in the Wakefield calendar, Long Division draws droves of music lovers to the area from much further afield.

Committed to a wider role in providing support and opportunities to the city, Long Division have also been planning a number of important initiatives that will run alongside the festival (and throughout the year), including the introduction of a free-to-hire City PA system for Wakefield arts events, and securing additional funding to form the Wakefield Live Music Consortium to support a wider scheme of live music curation in the city. Beyond this, Long Division are also working on bringing a dedicated rehearsal space to Wakefield city centre, alongside a new education programme that will work with up to 100 young people throughout the year, earning them qualifications whilst supporting them in forming new bands and organising events. With all of this combined, the hope is that these efforts will hugely benefit the music offering of Wakefield in a wide sense.

Dean Freeman, Founder / Director, Long Division:

“It’s such a strange mix of emotions to ‘be back’ with another lineup announcement. It honestly felt like the early days again, where it was exciting just to design a poster and see those names laid out, ready to share with the world. We want to give people the best possible Long Division we can. Not the biggest ever, but one that celebrates not just our ten years, and not just the return of live music but also the power of community. People being together – even if it’s with 1 metre gaps and masks and sanitising their hands every 30 minutes. Even if half the audience is watching via a stream. It’s going to be great!

This year audiences need to put their faith in their promoters, in their festivals, and they need to buy tickets. For Long Division refunds will always be available should the worst happen. And I know that finances may be stretched. But at Long Division that £30 for a ticket goes so far and enables so many artists to perform. Grassroots festivals like this (there are many more) are an essential part of kickstarting this insane machine called live music. We’d love you to join us in Wakefield this year!”

Tickets and more are available at the Long Division website.

210302 - LD - Poster A4 - Line-Up 2021-page-001

Long Division – 21st August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The second of the albums released as a fundraiser for Wakefield’s Long Division Festival presents another mix of established, up-and-coming, and new acts which encapsulates the festival’s egalitarian ethos. With its focus primarily on the local and regional, one may be forgiven for expecting a mixed bag both in terms of style and quality, but local is by no means a byword for low standards around these parts, and while this second collection – like its predecessor – is stylistically varied, the quality is remarkable.

It’s also arranged as an album of two halves, with the second being considerably more commercial, and what you’d probably call summery.

York’s Cowgirl – one of the countess projects from the city featuring the wide-ranging talents of Danny Barton (who’s also just released a new single under his Wolf Solent moniker) makes for a strong start, with its Pavementy slacker indie stylings. It’s got that up-front, full-tilt, everything-loud energy-bursting lo-fi production that delivers the buzz direct into the brain and makes you feel good instantly.

Priestgate’s ‘Now’ is a more 80s vintage style, while ‘Walking Backwards’ by Glasgow’s Life Model’s is a wonderfully poised shoegaze affair. The vocals sound lovelorn, but sign off with a strong and determined refrain of ‘I never liked you at all’ before a swell of rippling guitars surge in.

I’m waiting for a weak track, but Lemon Drink certain aren’t the one’s to serve it, with ‘Manic’ being a tight and lively slice of zesty grunge-tinged indie pop.

Mt Doubt might lack immediacy but bring mood, and HerTiltedMoons’ contribution, the brooding but lightly melodic piano-led folk-pop of ‘Orange Grove’ arrives as quite a surprise in its Coors-like commerciality, and taking a different but equally accessible tack, the quirky electronica of In The Morning Light’s ‘Milk and Honey’ is a groove-orientated tune. Bunkerpop bring a taste of the Caribbean.

It’s back to the 80s again with a dash of Ultravox and a splash of Spandau – and even a hint of B-Movie on Macroscope’s ‘Reveal’, and drawing the curtain on the collection, Little State of Georgia offer up the sparse and intimate ‘Little Tiny Ones’, a devastatingly cool work of brooding minimalist electronica that’s haunting and emotionally resonant, presenting a classic case of less being more, before swelling into a cinematic power-ballad finale.

Once again, there’s something for everyone here, and more significantly, New Addition Vol 2 showcases a wealth of talent that is entirely dependent on grass-roots venues gigs, independent festivals, and indie labels who are willing to take a punt. Because acts who break through are rarely the best ones, but the ones with backing – but getting that backing requires that initial exposure and support. Without that, it all falls apart.

AA

a4204335405_10

As part of their fundraising efforts, Wakefield’s Long Division Festival – which has now been postponed until 2021 – have announced two new records available to order as part of this Friday’s Bandcamp fee-free day.

The first is  ‘A Romantic Destination’ – a live album by Jamie Lockhart, leader of critically acclaimed DIY Wakefield band Mi Mye. Recorded at Long Division 2018, ‘A Romantic Destination’’ see’s the songwriter and producer reimagining music from a book of songs that has been passed down by his family in Skerray in the Highlands for 166 years.

A songbook from 1851 used by two brothers; one a folk songwriter, the other the 1st Piper To Queen Victoria was passed down six generations before ending up in Jamie’s hands – accompanied by Mi Mye bandmate Morgan Evans, ‘A Romantic Destination’ captures this incredibly special one-off and sold out performance.

The second of these new albums is ‘New Additions: Vol 2’ – the second in a run of compilations from Long Division Festival, ‘New Additions’ features brand new songs and recordings from artists who had been scheduled to play at this year’s Long Division Festival.

Pressed onto 12” vinyl thanks to support from independent label ‘Last Night From Glasgow’ , New Additions features 10 new songs from a host of exciting new artists including Priestgate, Cowgirl and Mt. Doubt with all proceeds distributed evenly amongst the artists.

Full Track listing:

· Cowgirl – Wasn’t Listening

· Priestgate – Now

· Life Model – Walking Backwards

· Lemon Drink – Manic

· Mt. Doubt – Stairwell Songs

· HerTiltedMoons – Orange Grove

· In The Morning Lights – Milk And Honey

· Bunkerpop – C’est Comme De Robots N’est Pas

· Macroscope – Reveal

· The State Of Georgia – Little Tiny Ones

Both records are available to buy now from Bandcamp: https://longdivisionfestival.bandcamp.com

Long Division’s Crowdfunder is sitting just below 50% of its goal after its first week, more information on the fund, how it will be spent and how you can contribute can be found here.

Mi Mye have announced details of the final single to be released from their 2016 album The Sympathy Sigh. The Wakefield quintet will release the soothing and melancholy ‘Methadone Church’ alongside a re-imagined ‘He Believes In Me’ featuring the vocals of James Smith of Post War Glamour Girls.

Inspired by Hemmingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, the album earned the band praise from the likes of The 405 and The Line Of Best Fit. (Aural Aggravation can’t take any credit here: we’re miserly bastards at times when it comes to praise and even selecting what we cover.)

‘Methadone Church’ is a thoughtful and beautiful song that deals with Jamie observing life around him at his place of work in Armley in Leeds. He explains “Chad and I were leaving the studio where I work and when we got to the bus stop we saw a mother with twin girls walk past us. The girls were identically dressed and the mother had blood on her top lip. That’s all the song is, just that, I wrote it as soon as I got on the bus. It’s a track that doesn’t judge or comment, it’s just what was there.”

The other side of this new single features a new version of album track ‘He Believes In Me’ sung by James Smith of label mates and long standing friends & collaborators Post War Glamour Girls. Jamie recently co-produced the band’s  Swan Songs album.

When asked on what made him so keen to collaborate with Mi Mye, James said “I adore the man and it was an honour to be asked to sing on He Believes in Me. To voice Jamie’s inner monologue of confusion and fear toward a religious maniac ranting and grabbing people on the streets of Wakefield was a more spiritually uplifting experience than that preacher man will ever have.”

So get your lugs round ‘He Believes In Me’  and enjoy….

Christopher Nosnibor

It makes sense for a band renowned for their killer live shows to release a live album, but it takes a band with a certain amount of guts to make that album a project that’s part of a festival’s proceedings, and to go for the live album by way of their third full-length. Post War Glamour Girls have got guts, alright, and Live at St Austin’s was recorded as the ‘watch a band record a live album’ Sunday night session at the end of this year’s Long Division festival in Wakefield.

They open with a very curious hybrid of ‘Sestra’ and ‘Brat’, which respectively stood as bookends to their debut, Pink Fur. In parts completely unrecognisable in relation to either of the originals, it’s a more sedate and altogether less fiery reworking. James Smith shows remarkable restraint, his rowdy raving replaced by a crooning style, which sits alongside some soulful harmonies, the likes of which haven’t been heard from the band previously. Structurally, it’s also completely different… and comes to an abrupt and ungainly halt that sounds like the tape being chewed. Well, it is live, after all. Anything can happen and you only get one take.

‘That’s probably it for music,’ James quips. ‘I’ll now be doing my stand-up set’. Granted, there’s a lot more music and no stand-up, but you wouldn’t put anything past this band. So premiering a new track from their upcoming third album by way of a second track is pretty much par for the course. There’s something of an early- to mid-eighties guitar pop feel to ‘Polyanna Cowgirl’ (commercial pop was seemingly a fair few shades darker then), and it boasts a bold and hooky chorus.

If making their first album a greatest hits / best of set seems like the obvious a to go, you know that’s precisely what you’re not going to get, and second album Feeling Strange (released less than six months before this performance) is largely shunted to one side in favour of their debut, new material, and a handful of covers – which, naturally, are off the beaten track and are drawn in from far out on the left-field (and their version of Elvis Costello’s ‘Shipbuilding’ is as moving as it is unexpected… not that it should be expected for a band who’ve previously covered Robert Palmer).

The vinyl, which presents an abridged version of the occasion to present a different aspect of the set-list (in an alternative sequence) omits the spiky, goth-tinged rendition of ‘Stolen Flowers Rust’ and two of the tracks culled from their second album, presumably on account of space. ‘Cannonball Villages’ (not on the vinyl) is one of the standouts of Feeling Strange and builds an immense, dark, brooding twisting epic journey. As Smith growls the refrain ‘I knew the moment I laid my eyes on you / that I would do anything to get my hands on you,’ it sounds as much like a threat as an expression of desire. Closer ‘Count Your Blessings’ – a bleak choice of a set-ender, if the truth be told – is also omitted from the vinyl, and the fact that such a great rendition can be relegated to the download is testament to the depth of their material – and of course, their unswerving perversity in selecting unreleased tracks and covers over others. Single cuts like ‘Jazz Funerals’, ‘Southpaw Stance’ and ‘Felonius Punk’ don’t get a look in

The slowed-down version of ‘Black Dolphin’ and the dreamy version of ‘Gustave’, on which Alice takes lead vocal duties, offer very different perspectives on established songs, and the piano motif which runs through the Curesque take on ‘Red Terror’, with its crazy reverb action, again places the familiar in an unfamiliar context. The addition of organ and keys to a number of tracks also adds a new dimension to the sound.

Live at St Austin’s works precisely because of its imperfections and its – superficially, at least – perverse set-list. As a live album, it captures the immediacy of a band who thrive on live performances, and at the same time, are all about taking risks and showcasing new material. Go to a PWGG gig and you’ll see a band testing themselves and the audience with new material. This makes the inclusion of debut single ‘Spitting Pearls’ all the more surprising and welcome. They’ve probably played it about twice since its release: it’s a personal favourite, and they more than do it justice here, Smith finally unleashing his full-throated Tom Waits holler. It’s fucking brilliant, and met, briefly, with a stunned silence.

Live at St Austin’s is an honest live album: it’s not that the sound is rough, because it isn’t: but in places, the instruments aren’t perfectly balanced and there are some dud notes and off-key harmonies. And that’s precisely why it’s so good: it sounds like you could actually be there, it’s not dressed up and overdubbed and polished to studio quality. It’s very much a document of the band that Post War Glamour Girls are, a snapshot of a band who are continually evolving, forever restless, always trying out new arrangements and new material. And yes, they’re the kind of band who place art over commerce, who really are bursting with creativity and are making music for the right reasons. And they truly are one of a kind.

 

Post War Glamour Girls - Live At St Austin's Cover