It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide Jul 11th – Jul 17th 2018

MISHKIN FITZGERALD + FELINE & STRANGE + CORINNE LUCY Wednesday July 11th The Lab, Northampton A celebration of female singers and songwriters. Headlined by the front-woman of progressive rock band…

Wednesday July 11th
The Lab, Northampton
A celebration of female singers and songwriters. Headlined by the front-woman of progressive rock band Birdeatsbaby, Mishkin Fitzgerald plays darkly tinged pianos ballads and melancholic alt-pop tunes.  Feline & Strange are a “theatrical punk” duo from Berlin with a powerful female voice, cello, piano and synths. And Corinne Lucy sings her melodic, “embarrassingly earnest” songs. Doors 7pm, £5 tickets

Thursday July 12th
The White Hart, Corby
Southern Californians Bullets and Octane exploded onto the hard rock scene twenty year ago, and this year hit the road to support new album Waking Up Dead. Support from midlands hip-hop-infused punks. Doors 8pm, £5 tickets

Friday July 13th
The King Billy, Northampton
Blues rock duo with several albums to their name, including Get Close. Doors 9pm, free entry

Saturday July 14th
The Lab, Northampton
Last minute announcement: a celebration of NN noise from two locally-loved metal and alt-rock acts. Doors 7pm, free entry

Sunday July 15th
Engine, Northampton
Formerly one half of Nizlopi, and one of Ed Sheeran’s closest pals, Luke Concannon is playing a “house concert” at the co-work space in Abington. Concannon had a number one single in 2005 with ‘JCB Song’. BYOB. Doors 6.30pm; it’s a ‘gift economy’ gig so you “pay what you think it’s worth”.


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Record review: Tom Grennan ‘Lighting Matches’

TOM GRENNAN Lighting Matches [Insanity/Sony] There’s something very endearing about the rise and rise of Tom Grennan. Firstly, five years ago he didn’t even play an instrument. Or consider himself…

Lighting Matches [Insanity/Sony]

There’s something very endearing about the rise and rise of Tom Grennan. Firstly, five years ago he didn’t even play an instrument. Or consider himself much of a singer. And like Richard Ashcroft before him he had a talent for football which almost took him on a different path. But then fate – and Chase & Status – intervened and boom; everyone wanted a piece of him. Confidence grew and he now carries that party-time swagger that thankfully is backed up with the talent.

The Bedford native has a rasping bluesmen voice that defines him as an artist. Musically he has a few different facades, largely reflecting who we works with on each song. Overall you’d probably categorise him as a sort of widescreen indie pop machine. His aim seems effortless and accomplished with a definitive joie de vivre. He’s the Harry Kane of pop! Not that the story of this album is purely one of joy. It’s triumph over adversity, as his words reflect a distressed young soul finding his way in a frightening big world. And who doesn’t relate to that? “I was made out of nothing, you were made out of gold” is one telling phrase on the ballad ‘Lucky Ones’.

Adam Gammage, Danny Connors and Tom Grennan on stage at Bedford Esquires

The album holds great interest for anyone connected to Northampton, as it contains the talents of two local luminaries. Danny Connors plays guitar, provides vocals and co-wrote recent single ‘Barbed Wire’, whilst Adam Gammage plays drums and percussion. They both tour with him too. It’s a terrific match-up, their chemistry clear to anyone from any of their recent live performances. In Fraser T Smith and Dan Grech he’s gone with producers who has crafted humongous hits for Adele, Stormzy, Plan B, Liam Gallagher and Tom Odell [to name just five]. The music is probably closer to a Blossoms though in structure – keeping it pop by focusing on a simple guitar or horn riff, and letting Grennan’s delivery take centre stage.

Almost everywhere you look here you will find gold. Opener ‘Found Out What I’ve Been Looking For’ is a bouncy anthem that will set the festivals alight this summer. ‘Royal Highness’, with its syncopated rhythms and inherent grit, repeats the Ibiza-soul trick that John Newman had going on fairly recently. ‘Barbed Wire’ displays a similar motif, making that retro-soul, horn-inflected sound comeback into the mainstream, just when it had seemed its time had passed. It should come with a warning: this song is likely to cause an outbreak of grinning and kitchen singalongs.

‘Aboard’ has a real maturity to it, Grennan promising not to “fuck around no more”. The band certainly don’t mess about with a tight arrangement that carries enough light and shade drama to make you think he’s a shoe-in for a  future Bond theme. The title track is another catchy yet bravely honest homage to his determination to strive for a better life. If it’s not the next single then heads need to roll somewhere – it will win over a million hearts from the first playback. ‘Sober’ is a touch Hollywood with it’s string parts darting everywhere, but still works out lovely as Grennan’s charm is undeniable. ‘Something in the Water’ was his debut release and reflects his initial soul balladry background. He’s outgrown that format now, but this number still contains the magnetism which bought the world to him.

Lighting Matches is not 100% fireproof though, which is no major surprise for an album that runs to a value-for-money 56 minutes. ‘Run In The Rain’ is Adele-saccharine cliche, ‘Lucky Ones’ can’t decide what it wants to achieve as it plods along alchemy-free [like late-period Oasis], and ‘I Might’ is singer-songwriter mundanity that he should have left on the cutting room floor. There’s always a worry that this collaborative creation-through-committee approach, so prevalent in modern music, might stifle the flow, but Grennan holds it all together even during the weaker moments. And even after all the dancefloor anthems the album puts forth he can leave you emotionally floored at the end, via his X-Factor-style offering ‘Sweet Hallelujah’.

It’s sixteen tracks feel like drinking stops on a big night out. They’ll be exultation and laughter, they’ll be a disagreement or two along the way, moments to think about packing it in. Then they’ll be redemption and hugs at the end. New Boots’ message to Tom is simple: nice one son, the next round is on us.

Words Phil Moore, photos David Jackson

Tom Grennan signing copies of his debut album at Bedford Esquires


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Record review: Tim Muddiman ‘Domino Blitz’

TIM MUDDIMAN Domino Blitz [Gun Street] Modern ShoeTown legend Muddiman grew up musically on Elvis first, before a New York electro and reggae phase took hold. In some way that’s…

Domino Blitz [Gun Street]

Modern ShoeTown legend Muddiman grew up musically on Elvis first, before a New York electro and reggae phase took hold. In some way that’s all you need to know in advance to get a grip around this often manic, sometimes debauched, and certainly never serene sophomore album from Muddiman. Once you throw in the knowledge that he has been obsessed by the twin beasts of Cave and Waits in more recent years, and that he shares a stage with Gary Numan for a ‘day job’, and the pieces all fall into place. A record this dense, claustrophobic and littered with ’80s references would only come from a musical magpie devouring these sonic worlds.

Muddiman’s first album, Paradise Runs Deeper from 2016, was a more lo-fi ‘straight’ alt-rock record, with the industrial edges that are still audible on the follow-up. But why try and fit in with the alt-rock world when you clearly have so much to say? And make no mistake, Domino Blitz is big on ideas. There’s a loose thread of a story of rock’n’roll redemption from the characters that inhabit this 21st Century version of the Blitz. It gives a voice to vice, to inner demons, and the battle to win them over.

The album opens, with a nod to Depeche Mode, in fine fettle via the glam stomp of ‘Broken Down Superstar’. It’s tempting to say it recalls Morrissey in his Your Arsenal pomp: tempting even though he is such a toxic touchstone right now, whose very name makes almost everyone wince. But it is accurate! Lead single ‘Get It On’ follows a similar path, adding some terrace anthem shouting bits. The rolling story of reprobates Muddiman eulogises about in the verses is nothing short of a call to arms. A reaction to the corporate takeover, the gentrification of iconic places like Soho. Unite and take over seems the order of the day.

The title track is a slow-burning post-punk electro throb, an apocalyptic theme tune in an album full of dark foreboding about where Western society has led us. ‘Summer Moon’ leaves little room for wriggle with lines like “I am the heroin inside your veins/A warm glow”; all-too-personal sorrow cast over elegiac guitar lines. ‘From the Hills’ is a cascading, 4am country-blues lament, something The Bad Seeds would have gone to town on back in the day. ‘Rat Ballads’ weaves similar magic, adding a cool ’60s jazz touch to the tale of Irish adventures in New York. It lacks a little focus, but that suits the story well one could argue. If that song dropped us off the ship and into the new world, then ‘White Dove’ takes us further south, into the desert badlands where anything can and will happen.

Domino Blitz lists a little musically around ‘Burn the Witches’, though it’s message is all true, railing at anti-immigration rhetoric that leads us to post-Brexit worlds. Where is the love, is all it asks. But the final one-two punch of ‘Clark Gable’ and ‘Out Of This World were worth waiting for; the former an urgent and hypnotic paean to learning from the mistakes of former relationships, and the last song ending on the most positive note possible. Out of the darkness comes truth and light, Muddiman preaches.

This album is magic and medicine, on a personal level for Muddiman and for the blessings of tortured souls throughout the land. If you sail the seven seas on the Domino Blitz and return to land in Northampton, there’s evidently a price to pay and lessons to learn. And, it seems, love to share.

Phil Moore

Domino Blitz is out now

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New Music Friday: Loose Tooth

Northampton three-piece grunge/hardcore outfit Loose Tooth – Adam Cator [bass], Oli Knight [guitar/vocals] and Josh Miller [drums] have followed up last year’s mini LP with a new single, ‘Castles’. Watch the Joshua…

Northampton three-piece grunge/hardcore outfit Loose Tooth – Adam Cator [bass], Oli Knight [guitar/vocals] and
Josh Miller [drums] have followed up last year’s mini LP with a new single, ‘Castles’. Watch the Joshua Goff-directed video below, after reading this here interview about all the Loose things.

How/why/what/when did the project begin?
Adam: Loose Tooth began two and a half years ago. We’d all just come from bands that had drained us emotionally and needed something a little more honest and cathartic. We had started with no clear intentions, just hung out and wrote some music together. At first we were considering getting a singer but we were too tight-knit to add another member. We hope that desire for honesty comes through in the music.

How would you describe your sound?
Oli: We’re a rock band, there’s certain connotations that come with that we try to avoid when writing. We’re not trying to take the path of least resistance when writing, we push our abilities to come up with something that is hopefully interesting and different, whether that be off-kilter time signatures, chord progressions or scales. There’s a certain amount of depth invested with our writing style that we hope translates into music that interests and excites.

Who are your main influences? Musical and non-musical
Josh: I’ve got a bunch, musical influences include: And So I Watch You from Afar, Reuben, 65daysofstatic, Every Time I Die, Toe, The Cure, Father John Misty, Dillinger Escape Plan, Alkaline Trio, Interpol, Crowded House, Nine Inch Nails. Non-musical thinkers that inspire me are Henry Rollins and David Attenborough.
Oli: As a lyricist I always tried to follow the Martin Gore [Depeche Mode] school of thought, but found it to be disingenuous to myself. Since then I’ve taken to a more ‘kitchen sink’ lyrical style in the vein of Jamie Lenman, who is also a big musical influence.
Adam: My musical influences would be Story Of The Year, From First To Last, Underoath, Reuben and Every Time I Die. My non-musical inspiration would be my dad.

What’s the reaction been like to last year’s self-titled mini-album?
Josh: Really great; people are still discovering it and enjoying it. From the reactions we’ve had people seemed to enjoy the honesty. We left a lot of mistakes in and recorded it having not long written and learned the songs, so it came out quite raw I think. Nowadays with a lot of rock music having a serious level of sheen some listeners enjoyed something a bit grittier than usual.

Tell us about ‘Castles’.
Oli: ‘Castles’ is a really simple song: the chord progression churned around in my brain for a while, and that’s why most of the song is those four chords. I felt the lyrics should speak for themselves, so we took a stripped back approach and left all of the craziness for another day. It’s about the frustrations of modern working life, with external pressures to live a middle class existence, despite the fact the middle class has eroded. The ‘castles held up in the sky’ are just a mortgage, or they’re a yearly holiday, something the average low income worker may feel is out of their grasp. Not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder – why should they be denied a more comfortable life? We recorded the track with Jay Russell again at Parlour Studios. It’s super comfortable with Jay; he understands our weirdness and he’s a complete pro. The video we shot with Joshua Goff and it was done at at our Josh’s work yard where we rehearse weekly. We built the set and Joshua lit it wonderfully.

Is your record label – Undead Collective – and its roster a tight-knit community?
Adam: Undead Collective is a great group of people, we’re in contact most days and their support and advice beyond the remit of label responsibilities has been amazing. Currently there’s only three bands on the roster. We’re yet to meet the newest additions Seasonal, but we’ve chatted online and they’re great guys.

Would you consider your local scene something to be proud of? On the flipside, what’s your biggest frustration with it all?
Oli: Northampton is rich with talented musicians, the scene is definitely one to be proud of. Northampton can be grey and that can be oppressive, but go to The Lab, The Garibaldi or The Black Prince on a Friday night and you’ve got a few hours away from the desolation. I think our frustrations are more with ourselves rather than the scene, this goes for anywhere. Inclusion to scenes is always reliant on being charismatic and outgoing. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to us, so we try to be as personable as possible when networking but we’re quiet by nature. That doesn’t always endear yourself to people and ultimately that’s as important as putting on a killer show.

What has been your favourite band moment so far?
Oli: Probably just how many gigs we played last year. We just hired vans and shot off. It was a dream come true for me to finally feel like I was in a touring, hard-working band.
Josh: Everything about being in this band, but mainly writing and recording.
Adam: Playing a show in a rehearsal room in Wales.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Oli: Arc by Everything Everything
Josh: Braille by Palm Reader
Adam: Logic by Bobby Tarantino

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What solid plans do you have?
Oli: Our burning desire is to one day be able to turn up anywhere in the UK and play to a guaranteed 50 or so people. That’s enough for us. Now ‘Castles’ is out we’ll be thinking about the next single, we’ve got a lot to do until then but we’re excited about the future. For now though it’s all coming up Loose Tooth.

Castles is out now via the usual platforms

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Record review: Tom Rose & The Heathen Orchestra

TOM ROSE & THE HEATHEN ORCHESTRA TOM ROSE & THE HEATHEN ORCHESTRA [self-released] Orchestral arranger. Bookseller. Gravedigger. As careers go that’s not a bad palette of experience from which to…


Orchestral arranger. Bookseller. Gravedigger. As careers go that’s not a bad palette of experience from which to paint your tales of humankind. And Tom Rose has done them all. As leader of this Northamptonshire five-piece twisted blues ensemble he’s learnt to weave a consistently absorbing narrative on the freaks and weirdos that walk amongst us.

This twelve-tracker was recorded live last October at Parlour Studios near Kettering, and displays some Hammond-heavy dark forbodings that bring to mind some of the greats of the nu-blues genre: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, Mark Lanegan, Captain Beefheart, The Pogues, with various nods to the original US bluesmen of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. The opening track ‘Keep Your Demons’ is the heaviest thing on here, and is reminiscent of noughties blues trio the 22-20s; and before them, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. It feels like the sky will cave in over it’s three minute duration, which is probably the point. ‘Dance To Hell’ keeps the sweaty intensity up, coming across like a potent rockabilly version of ‘Red Right Hand’. It’s on this song that Roses’ preacher sensibilities come to the fore, with references to ‘demons’ and ‘hell’; the morality theme is later returned to on ‘Bible Morals’. If you’re going to tell stories you might as well make them biblical in scale…

On ‘Clay On Wood’ the voodoo punk spirit that has inhabited Jim Jones for thirty-odd years – most recently with his Righteous Mind – comes to mind. The band is really smoking on this number, cutting loose with joyous abandon. ‘Maggots’ slows things down a bit, bringing some smooth 60s atmospherics to rival Dylan with The Hawks, or perhaps The Doors. The grotesque nature of the song that Rose is chronicling is one to listen in sharply for, you get your just rewards. The album continues in a similar vein over its second half: ‘Falling Over’ and ‘All Of You People’ add some nifty guitar licks to enliven, ‘Garden Designs’ decides to add profanity to the spicy mix, and there’s some excellent garage-punk dynamics on ‘Trouble’s What You Got’.

This record is a spirited success and one you can’t ignore, for it has you by the throat from those opening notes. It has a timeless quality too – it could conceivably be ignored in 2018, only to be hailed as a minor classic by future scribes. One thing is for sure, however; we are much better off having it in our lives than not. Praise be.

Phil Moore

Tom Rose & The Heathen Orchestra is out now

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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide Jul 4th – Jul 10th 2018

FRACTAL UNIVERSE Wednesday July 4th The King Billy, Northampton One to make a midweek effort for – progressive death metal quartet from France. Doors 8.30pm, free entry SHELLY CARE +…

Wednesday July 4th
The King Billy, Northampton
One to make a midweek effort for – progressive death metal quartet from France. Doors 8.30pm, free entry

Friday July 6th
UFO Pavilion, Northampton
The Songwriter Sessions sees three carefully chosen original acts sharing their music each month. This is run as a pin-drop event. Doors 7.30pm, £3 on the door

Friday July 6th
The Lab, Northampton
Born in early 2018 on the busking scene in the Algarve, Undying Heads are Frank and Kev – the travelling hobos, making and playing music as they go. The duo have come together to play a mix of Folk, Irish, Country, Blues and more.  Plus Irish tunes from Skinner, Chris Startup and Boatman John. Doors 7pm, free entry

Friday July 6th
The White Hart, Corby
In the UK for a run of shows on the run up to Tech-Metal Fest, Cyclamen deliver a mix of melodic math rock mixed with tech death metal. The band were formed in London but are now based in Tokyo. Support from the flag bearers for Corby’s hardcore scene and Northampton’s much-loved sludge metallers. Doors 8pm, £3 tickets

Friday July 6th – Saturday July 7th
Loddington Grange, nr. Kettering
The annual independent music festival supports Rainbows, the hospice for children and young people. Over two stages you get a smorgasbord of music from near and far: HubCap, Tokyo Taboo, SpaceDogs, Bonfire Radicals, and Litmus play on the Friday. Saturday brings Powderhead, Delphini, Jack Ellister, Captain Starfighter and the Lockheeds, Happy Graveyard Orchestra, NUKLI, Music of the Andys, Magic Bus, and The Hare and Hoofe. Gates open at midday on the Friday. There’s a handful of tickets left as we went to publish.

Saturday July 7th – Sunday July 8th
The Racecourse, Northampton
The ever reliable ShoeTown festival gives plenty of space for showcasing all sorts of music talent. This year on the main stage first day you can witness: The 2 Tones, Leburn Maddox, The Keepers, Deep Sea Mountains, Moulton 77 Brass Band, and King’s Gambit. Second day is Mystic Crew, Shed Machinery String Band, The BigheadHubCap, Cool Jazz Collective, Just Friends, Pure Genius, Banter, and the Theatretrain Community Group. The music is from 1.30pm each day, and it’s free entry

Saturday July 7th
The Lab, Northampton
Northampton pop punk quartet bid the world adieu after six years with a goodbye show. Mates in support include an emo duo from MK and fellow pop punkers from ShoeTown and Bedford. Doors 7.30pm, free entry

Saturday July 7th
The White Hart, Corby
Psychedelic punk funkers from London Town always give good show. Support from two Leicester area punk acts. Doors 7.30pm, £8 tickets

Sunday 8th July
The Lab, Northampton
A real treat for a Sunday: exceptional Glaswegian space rock quartet bring the noise like a millennial Hawkwind. Support from former Spacemen 3 bassist. Doors 7.30pm, £3 on the door

Sunday 8th July
The Three Horseshoes, Ecton
Legendary award-winning Nashville bluesman playing songs off his latest album Live My Life. Set is around 2.30pm, free entry

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New Music Friday: Lunaxis

Northampton folk-rockers Lunaxis, fronted by Carly Loasby, have had a busy first year and celebrate the milestone with the release of their debut EP, What Good Is Their Love. New Boots…

Northampton folk-rockers Lunaxis, fronted by Carly Loasby, have had a busy first year and celebrate the milestone with the release of their debut EP, What Good Is Their Love. New Boots caught up with Loasby for the lowdown.

How would you describe your sound to the uninitiated?
This is a question we always struggle to answer! We like to think our music is perfect for big festivals – hence us overusing the phrase ‘festival sound’! Because of all our different influences, we are a mash up of indie-pop, blues, folk and country. We love big vocals with lots of harmonies, and memorable bluesy guitar solos.

Who are your main influences?
As mentioned, we all have our own individual tastes in music. Lunaxis as a whole are influenced by artists such as Arcade Fire, Fleetwood Mac, Lucius and Lorde when it comes to creating the large festival feel we are all about. I am very much into lyrical giants like Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman and Patti Smith. I enjoy telling a story and using personal experiences as inspiration.

Tell us about the What Good Is Their Love EP.
The EP is a story based on the stages of being the victim of narcissistic abuse in a relationship. It begins with the track ‘Big Love’, which is all about falling very quickly, and deeply in love, so much so that you believe you wouldn’t be anything without that person. As the EP progresses, it reveals more about the reality of that feeling, and how vulnerable it can make you. It describes how the mask slowly slips from the romantic partner, and how the victim keeps trying to put it back into place. Eventually, something so catastrophic happens that there is no coming back from it. The EP ends with the title track, ‘What Good is Their Love’, which is all about the epiphany of realising the person you love is only ever going to keep you in a circle of toxicity. The last poignant lyric is “the only way to win this game is not to play”.

What are your live shows like? Any favourite places to play?
Our live shows are awesome! We have a great time on stage and gel really well with each other. As a new band we are currently building our name in the Northamptonshire area, and are looking to expand from there. There are a few smaller venues we have coming up over the next month, but now it’s festival season. The next festival we have is actually my favourite local event of the year, which is Woodfest at Irchester Country Park. We will be playing on the main stage on Saturday August 12th.

What has been your favourite band moment of this first year?
This has to be at our EP launch [last week] when we finished the set. The crowd cheered and rushed to the stage to buy CDs, it was manic! After six months of hard work with the EP it was such a great feeling to see the positive response we had. It was by far one of our favourite band moments!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Howlin’ Wolf – The Absolutely Essential

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
We want to carry on making great, authentic music. The big dream is to eventually to be playing alongside our hero’s at all the big festivals. Headlining Glastonbury maybe?! Until then we will be putting in the hard work to perfect our art, and focus on getting our name out there. We believe in Lunaxis, and are looking forward to the future!

What Good is Their Love is out now: stream/buy from the usual platforms, or purchase a CD from the band at a show.

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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide Jun 27th – Jul 3rd 2018

THE CREATURE WITHIN + LIMITS TO INFINITY Wednesday June 27th The King Billy, Northampton Formed in 2017, TCW are three mates who decided to make something dirty, punky, grungey, weird and…

Wednesday June 27th
The King Billy, Northampton
Formed in 2017, TCW are three mates who decided to make something dirty, punky, grungey, weird and loud. Support from Luton’s five-piece melodic groove core band. Doors 8.30pm, free entry

Thursday June 28th
The Roadmender, Northampton
Sold Out Seven, more like. Have fun if you managed to get a ticket.

Thursday June 28th
The Lab, Northampton
Local cult quartet playing an infectious – and this time, acoustic – mix of “CelticDanceDubSkaFunkPunk”. Doors 8pm, £3 entry

Friday June 29th
The Lab, Northampton
A night of riffage to rattle loose the cobbles of ShoeTown’s nearby market square. A couple of local bands that have a live reputation to envy, plus opening newcomers from MK. Doors 8pm, £3.50 tickets/£4 door

Friday June 29th
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
The final[?] VFT album Icon is out on this day via Glass Modern. Alex Novak and Andy Denton continue to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and celebrate their excellent new album with a live show. Doors 8pm, free entry

Friday June 29th to Sunday July 1st
Rushden Athletic Club
House Of Pain Promotions run their biggest event yet over three days in Rushden. Playing on Friday is Psychostick, Stormbringer, Outright Resistance, Lay Siege, The Darkhorse, Everyday Sidekicks, The Hero Dies First, Numb, and Bring The Onslaught. On Saturday its Crazy Town, Carcer City, Sworn Amongst, TrueHeights, Ashborn, Prognosis, and Acolytes. Finally on Sunday you got Oceans Ate Alaska, Kingdom Of Giants, Shields, Dead Man’s Chest, From Eden To Exile, Crow, Sharkteeth Grinder, Confessions Of A Traitor, Asphodel, Casket Feeder, Life Against Time and King Abyss. Doors 2pm Friday, day tickets are £20, weekend are £35.

Friday June 29th
The White Hart, Corby
The royal duo wrap up their UK tour with a hometown show for the headliners. Support from Market Harborough dub/hip hop sextet and Corby/Kettering noisey-but-progressive three-piece. Doors 8pm, £5 tickets

Friday June 29th
The Yards Bar, Kettering
Hard-hitting Northampton rockers to headline; emo pop-punkers both in the middle and to open. Doors 8pm, free entry

Saturday June 30th
The Pomfret Arms, Northampton
Northampton soul-jazz sextet are back from working on their studio tan to play live down at the Pom. Doors 8pm, free entry




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Record Review: Venus Fly Trap ‘Icon’

VENUS FLY TRAP Icon [Glass Modern] Much like their beloved Dr Who, it’s been a long, strange, bewildering trip for Northampton’s long-term purveyors of dark wave. Formed in 1986 as…

Icon [Glass Modern]

Much like their beloved Dr Who, it’s been a long, strange, bewildering trip for Northampton’s long-term purveyors of dark wave. Formed in 1986 as a trio from the ashes of their other projects by Novak brothers Alex and John, they rose phoenix-like to be a central part of the local scene of the late-80s [and you can read all about those early days in the latest, fourth, instalment of the Have Guitars…Will Travel book series]. Fifteen or so ex-members later and the last three albums have been the work of core duo Alex Novak and Andy Denton. Indeed Icon completes their trilogy that began with Zenith in 2004 and continued with Nemesis in 2011.

This record is probably the strongest of the trio, taking all the ideas explored so far and crystallising them into short, sharp, energised songs. If you are unfamiliar with the music, then imagine a PiL-like band playing Taffey Lewis’ bar in the original Blade Runner film. A sound rooted in the dark wave/electronica sounds that emerged post post-punk, but one that isn’t confined only to that world. Dystopian sci-fi rock from Northampton means everything from Bauhaus to The Cramps, The Stooges to Sisters of Mercy. The VFT sound is instantly recognisable, but never falls into the trap of being too repetitive. Indeed, after the scene-setting instrumental title track that pulses with film dialogue, each of the remaining eight tracks could be pulled off the album and released as a single. The one track that already has been, ‘Vitesse’ [see below], is pure Blitz kids synth-pop with a memorable hook placed above the motorik underbelly, whilst Novak mixes up his automobile and love interest metaphors to great effect.

The love theme continues on the crunchy ‘Voodoo Voodoo’ and the cinematic ‘Flashback’, both which revel in the VFT interest in the psychedelic. The characters within this pair reveal themselves more and more on each playback, as you catch new parts of the story. The middle of the album is dominated by the slightly epic ‘Deadly Nightshade’, which warms of the dangers in human relationships, where you can find “instant karma in the perfumed garden”. The track is the most sonically pleasing on Icon, as it transforms from beatific to angry and back again continually on its six minute journey.

‘Return of the Sidewinder’ kicks off a trio of culturally-referencing tunes. This song, named after a 1968 TV episode, gives nods to fellow Midlands heavyweights: Bauhaus in the lyrics, and The Specials in the ‘Ghost Town’-esque musical pallete of smokey dub reggae. ‘The Genesis Of The Daleks’, meanwhile, was a 1975 Dr Who series, and the Delia Derbyshire-indebted opening gives way to post-punk guitars and throbbing synth patterns. The song is surely a love letter to those childhoods that were both scarred and enlivened by existential television dramas.

‘Puppet’ seems to take the lead from ’50s pulp fiction from Philip K. Dick, but this time taking the music in another direction into dream pop. It’s a tender lullaby – well it would be if the intonation of Novak [“you’re just my puppet”] wasn’t quite so unsettling. Icon finishes with ‘In The Moonlight’: a Paisley Underground-style acid-folk slow waltz with a Hammond organ dominating the canvas, and some superb background harmonies that drifts us ever farther away from the darkwave idea from whence they came. It’s a fitting ending to a formidable album that, if it is to be their swansong, sees them very much go out on a high.

Phil Moore

Icon is out June 29th via Glass Modern

*Interview with frontman Alex Novak*
NB: You’ve said this is the last studio album.
AN: Probably; more than likely. Never say never. It’s just the length of time it takes to write and mix tracks seems to take longer each time. Does the world need another VFT album? We will see…

There’s quite a bit of diversity going on here; musical references to reggae and dream pop, for example.
We never set out to write in one particular style, just see what comes out of various ideas, see where it takes us. Our inspiration comes from many points of reference.

That’s always been a VFT strength – you always look beyond the “dark wave” tag.
VFT certainly has a dark psyche at the core, but we like to layer it or dress up with different costumes. We tap into many influences.

Keeping one band going for over three decades without a break is remarkable. What’s your secret – sheer, bloody-minded drive?
Its had more twists and turns than a rattlesnake, shedding many skins over the years. Change keeps it fresh. We are the Doctor Who of music – transforming a constant metamorphosis.

‘Icon’ is out via Glass – a label who you have history with, via your old band Religious Overdose.
Full circle – my very first release was on Glass. There’s a symmetry to it all. I like Dave Barker the label boss, and the band’s he has released over the years. It feels like home for us.

Will you continue the band as a live concern in future years?
We will see what reaction this album gets, and take it from there…

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New Music Friday: Sarpa Salpa

Northampton quartet Sarpa Salpa have been slaying the Midlands with their infectious party indie anthems for the past two years, and celebrate another milestone today with the release of their…

Northampton quartet Sarpa Salpa have been slaying the Midlands with their infectious party indie anthems for the past two years, and celebrate another milestone today with the release of their third single, ‘Circuits’. New Boots asked them all about it, and about the whirlwind build-up.

Can you give us a quick run down of how and why and where you got together?
Ethan: Well Marcus & George had previously played together in another band, so they started Sarpa as a new project with a new sound/image to their previous outing. Then they snared Charlie shortly after a chat at a pub one day. I had met George through a very short lived band/project that I think that did two practices and one meal out before it fell apart. Then a month or two later saw him looking for a bassist again, I drop him a message and here we are! This was all around the last month or two of 2015.

In case there’s anyone left who doesn’t know SS, can you briefly sum yourselves up in a nice soundbite? Or whats maybe better is what’s the best way you’ve seen yourself described in publicity material…?
Marcus: That’s such a hard question, one we always have trouble answering, I think the answer is Indie Pop! Or pop? Or alternative pop? We don’t know!! People say all sorts, we have been told we remind people of Sticky Fingers, Kasabian & Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I don’t even like some of those bands… I even once was told ‘Craig David’? So we just don’t know anymore! In summary: we are four guys trying to not write songs that sound the same as each other, and as different as other musicians music as possible! If you want to find out what that sounds like, come and hear it for yourself .

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for you. Personal highlight please.
Charlie: There have been so many amazing moments we’ve all shared as a band, but our recent trip to MaNo Festival in Germany definitely stands out for me! The love we were shown over in Marburg was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, although with the amount of beer we all washed down, I’m honestly surprised we remember a thing!

‘She Never Lies’ was a real moment for you. Is that single release last autumn when it all began to click for you, or has something else felt more significant?
George: ‘She Never Lies’ was definitely a stand out moment for us, It feels like a turning point for the band. Although we had been a band for a little while when we recorded it, it was a bit of a new beginning for us. We’d just got a manager and started recording with a new producer so it kind of felt like the beginning of Sarpa Salpa. We still have a long way to go though and a lot more we all want to achieve

Tell us about ‘Circuits’.
Marcus: ‘Circuits’ got its name from thinking about how humans are wired up. ‘Circuits’ is a mash up of a cry for help from addiction, and a change in character in relationships! The classic combo!! I wrote the lyrics when I was literally hiding by the bin area in work smoking a cigarette, hiding from people who care for me and wouldn’t want to see me doing that or knowing I do it! In that moment I almost looked at myself and thought “what am I doing?” It all became so pathetic, hiding alone in a stinking pen of beer bottles and soggy cardboard just so I can breath in some burnt leaves? So I wrote the first line, and like my anger, the lyrics just kept flowing out of me. “And again and again and again and again and again and again” I remember standing typing that and the repetitive tapping of the same keys over and over very much summed up the relentless rut I was in!
The chorus very much sums up relationships from a brief gaze; people sometimes try and change their partners, for selfish reasons, for good reasons, whatever the reason, there may not even be a reason. People can just sometimes morph into new people over time, new interests, new hobbies, change of politics or fashion! The chorus is just one large chant of uncertainty, disguised in confidence! “Something has changed, and I think it’s you.” Or is it me? Later in the song the lyrics develop into “I think it’s me”.
I took these separately written concepts to a rehearsal one evening. Upon my arrival George said “I’ve got a new riff”. It all took shape very quickly, especially when the bass and drums teamed up, the words were no longer just text on a screen, they were melodies flying around in my head! Circuits was born

You filled the small room at the Roadmender twice in 6 months. What’s the formula, that you might want to share, for making this happen? “Be nice guys with sweet tunes and great management” would be our guess…
Ethan: I think it’s a combination of a few things. Firstly our sound is quite pop-orientated, so it’s easy to bob along to. We also have been lucky to meet some great bands, who very kindly played with us! I also like to think that we put on a good little show these days. Because of the amount of gigs we have done it really has started to come quite naturally to us now, and we can enjoy it a little more instead of worrying about remembering the parts. If the band are having fun there is a good chance the audience will do too.
And as you mentioned since we picked up our manager Kev in August last year he’s really helped push us and keep us focused. He’s always the first to give us honest criticism and point out things we could improve! He also introduced us to our producer Faz, who really helped nail the sounds and idea’s we had in our head! So I guess I would say it’s a mixture of luck and a tonne of hard luck at the end of the day. But always be nice to people, that goes without saying!

You play lots of shows, all across the Midlands. What’s your favourite place to play outside of Northants?
Marcus: I do like The Horn in St. Albans, that’s got a really nice PA system and always sounds crisp! And also Club 85 in Hitchin – there are these great, gigantic, colourful, glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling above the stage and I think that’s awesome when you have the crowd in front of you and space above your head! Of course Esquires in Bedford, that has become a second home to us in recent months! Also any festival stage! The feel of that plasticity wooden-ish material gets me so excited! SUMMER TIME SHOWS!! Except for recently at a festival when the stage was so wonky it looked like a ship mid-sinking, that show was cancelled funny enough!! Haha.

Best and worst thing about your own scene here in ShoeTown.
Charlie: The best thing about our ShoeTown scene has to be all of the people who attend local shows, and spread the word about small bands to their friends and families! The worst thing about our ShoeTown scene is the lack of venues that are playable for local bands, it just seems to be the same gigs at the same 3 venues every week!

What are you grooving to currently? 
Charlie: I’ve been really in to Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest album Sex and Food, it’s one of those albums that you find yourself listening to 4 to 5 times a day! George has recently introduced me to a band called Porches also, and they have become my synth-caked guilty pleasure.

You’ve got Twinfest coming up, but what else can we expect from the second half of 2018?
George: We’re hoping to be putting out another new single and potentially an EP at the end of the year. We’re also playing a whole bunch of cool festivals like Rocked Up Hootenanny, so there’s a lot to look forward to!

Circuits is out today from the usual digital platforms

Sarpa Salpa selected live dates
June 22nd – The Lab, Northampton
June 23rd – The Music Barn Festival, Kettering
July 6th – Daxtonbury Festival, Podington
July 26th – The Guildhall, Northampton [Twinfest]
August 11th –  Woodfest, Irchester Country Park
September 8th – Rocked Up Hootenany, Rockingham

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