Sunday, September 19, 2010


It's tempting to wonder if the unanimous critical praise for Edwyn Collins' seventh solo album Losing Sleep, featuring guest slots for Johnny Marr, Ryan Jarman, Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy, Roddy Frame, Romeo Stodart and Jonathan Pierce, isn't in some way connected to his heartening return from the brink. Tempting, but also wrong-headed. There's nothing particularly new in his arsenal this time around - adult contemplation without being AOR/MOR as per his last album, the Northern Soul nods that stretch right back through his career, and his rich baritone seems unaffected - but the contemplation on life and shaky self-doubt ending in something near to defiance tell their own tale. Good to have him on his feet, of course. Great to have him in this form.

Life spent in the back of a van with all your gear is cramped and uncomfortable enough without having to cart two drumkits around amid the instruments, amps and human detritus. That's why Adam & The Ants got famous first. Islet's first tour begins on Friday at Winchester Railway, with Southampton Lennons being thoroughly circumnavigated on Saturday, and then another two weeks of whooping, bellowing and tambourine-armed chasing after that. Best new live band in Britain? Well, obviously. The Nottingham alldayer is fast becoming a standard of the indiepop scene. Moved from November back to next Saturday this year, it returns to Bunkers Hill in Hockley (although we hear a double booking - for something announced in March? What sort of venue operation is that? - means it's all moving into the actual bar halfway hrough) with an acoustic afternoon at the Chameleon on Sunday. Allo Darlin', Milky Wimpshake, Red Shoe Diaries, Betty and the Werewolves and The Sweet Nothings (nee The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut) are among those playing the former, Emma and Ian from Pocketbooks head the latter.

Apart from that they seem to have a NSFW Myspace, Evans The Death, who are playing the Sunday of that just plugged weekender, could be your next favourite indiepop newbies. Equally from Clapham and Chelmsford, their C86 jangle is tempered by a garage/US college rock-infused drive, while up front Katherine Whitaker's plaintive voice can soar or scold on command. They're smarter than they're letting on.

The Fence Collective's well established Home Game has birthed a baby brother, and it's one where, like some alt-folk equivalent of the Are You Being Served? film, the whole company has gone on holiday together. Away Game takes place on Eigg in the Inner Hebrides, with all of 150 camping places (sold out), and organiser Johnny 'Pictish Trail' Lynch is bringing over the local bakery. British Sea Power, suckers for any sort of out of the way event, headline, over Darren Hayman, Johnny Flynn, Neil from Meursault, Dan from Withered Hand, Gordon McIntyre, King Creosote, Sweet Baboo, Adem, Rozi Plain and new Malcolm Middleton project Human Don't Be Angry. Back on the mainland Sunderland's Split Festival is at Ashbrooke Sports Club all next weekend. The local music mafia - The Futureheads, Maximo Park, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Lucas Renney - are out in force, alongside Sky Larkin, Hot Club de Paris, Dutch Uncles and Let's Buy Happiness among others. Meanwhile in Gloucester it's the inaugural Underground Festival, a route-one title for a free-thinking weekender at the Guildhall. Saturday is headlined by Chapel Club with Egyptian Hip Hop and Stagecoach among the supports; the Sunday looks more interesting with the Joy Formidable surely dreading following Pulled Apart By Horses, with Islet, Gallops, Shoes And Socks Off, Hold Your Horse Is and Boat To Row heading those staying gallantly out of the way.

Here's extraordinary. If you're as big on Half Man Half Biscuit as us, you'll know about their The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman, in, erm, tribute to the late 70s AOR singer-songwriter. They played in rock city Bilston on Wednesday night, during which Dean Friedman himself came on and did this:

Apparently HMHB then came on and did their own song in question with Friedman's aid, but nobody seems to have bothered videoing/uploading that.

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