Wednesday, 19 December 2012


MITCHELL TAYLOR – “The Blood of St George EP”
Words by MMT

This six-track EP will be released in January – excitingly, Mitchell’s having a big launch party at the Fiddlers Elbow in Camden on the 8th! – but you can hear two of the tracks right here:

It’s been about eighteen months since Mitchell released his ‘debut album proper’, “Tales From Albion”, and this EP sees his sound stripped back again to the one-voice-one-guitar dynamic we first knew him for.

But otherwise (on the surface at least) it’s business as usual: caustic left-wing agit-busker anthems stacked up against more apparently autobiographical lyrics – the mix of the Political and the Personal we’ve always enjoyed from his work. “Letter From David Cameron” could almost be the total blueprint for the archetypal Mitchell Taylor song, it’s a jaunty acoustic attack on our current PM. “Do you believe in the Welfare State? Well I’m sorry, I just sold that to my mate”.

Scratch a little deeper though and you’ll see he’s continuing to develop and evolve, which is great to hear. The Political songs show less of the generic anti-Right sentiment and a greater sense of the specifics: opener “War Is Business” references both Blackwater and Kony 2012, and encouraged me to go away and look them up so I'd know what they are too.

I think my favourite track is the titular “Blood Of St.George”, addressing the flawed logic of a pride in ‘Nationalism’ based on a total ignorance of actual history – a point I’ve often made myself myself about the B.N.P. We’re all “mongrel-blooded”, after all.

This EP also contains some of his best lyrics yet: I particularly enjoyed “when you’re young you get told to be the brightest star in the cosmos / more than fucking likely to be working the stock room in Argos”, from the sour “Wasted Youth/Life”. And “Dirty Love” finds his voice stretched further than I’ve heard it before, all the way up into a falsetto. So this IS the same, but it’s also different. Which is always one of the keys for me to digging an artist.

Having said that, the final track “Lord Leveson” is a total surprise – an unaccompanied performance poem which would fit in just fine at any poetry slam I’ve attended over the years.

Mitchell continues to go from strength to strength – and it’s clear that he’s broadened his horizons wider than Milton Keynes in the last couple of years. I think it’ll be interesting to see what his next few moves will be.

Sunday, 5 August 2012


Review: MMT.

So, me and Phil were philosophising. About how you can never tell which bands are going to leave a lasting musical legacy and which bands aren’t. If you’d asked me when I was 19 which band from 1994 were going still be influencing teenage bands almost two decades later I wouldn’t have hesitated – Nirvana. Or, at a push, Suede, Blur or the Manics. I certainly wouldn’t have predicted Green Day. And likewise, if you’d told me in the year 2000 that Blink-182 would still be casting a long musical shadow in 2012, I would have laughed you out of town. “Blink-182?  They’re a comedy skate-punk band, surely?  No one takes THEM seriously!”

But you never know. You honestly never know. Who’s to say that Dappy won’t be hailed as a musical visionary in 2030?  Or that the single album by Viva Brother won’t be rated higher than the entire discography of The Strokes in half a lifetime’s time?

Still – none of this is to take away from Sounds & Scenarios. Their lively blend of pop-punk and indie – influenced by the two aforementioned acts! – was a fittingly excellent way to kick off an excellent afternoon’s worth of music at The Pitz for “Basement Music Live” (five acts brought to us by (what we reckon is!) Milton Keynes’ best music radio show). They were one of the best young bands we’ve seen for a while: energetic but catchy – they could develop into something special. Also loved the matching waistcoats!  And their last song, “Prized Possessions” hints at how much more raucous they might be in a night-time gig!

Second up was one of our favourite local acoustic acts: Seeking Salvation Through Love. The high quality of the Pitz sound really showed off how good his voice is – between the songs the pleasingly busy audience were hushed to silence! – and we were even treated to a new song!

While I’m here, I should mention that it’s noteworthy The Pitz are still doing gigs, even on a Sunday afternoon. It may have lost some profile in recent years since the departure of Paul Rivers, but there’s no doubting its credentials as a venue. The lights, the stage, the sound, they’re all still in as great nick as they ever were – even if between the acts the sound guy exclusively plays heavy rock from the years 1989 – 1993. The only thing they’re really lacking is a cash machine. (stares mournfully at empty pint glass)

I’d heard good things from the Basement Music guys about I’m Called George, but never seen them before – though when they opened their set with a Lana Del Rey cover, I must admit I thought “Man, These Will Do Me”! It was a great set throughout, really very impressive – hook-laden pop-rock gelled together by the pounding rhythms of the drummer and the synth layers from the keyboard man – in fact all four musicians are clearly very skilled. Plus they had fans with I’m Called George t-shirts and banners!  That really is the dream, right there!

They’ve got a song – I think it might be called “I Wanna Know Your Name”? – which opens with vocal harmonies, bounces through some classic rock shapes and ends up in an immense synthy middle section which is absolutely captivating. Great stuff, one of the best sets I've seen in 2012.

YC Olie is such a consummate professional, such a safe pair of hands. Again, take nothing away from his performance and his songwriting, but he’s more like a compere than the actual comperes – enthusing about the other bands, thanking all the people that need to be thanked. His love for what he’s doing is infectious, and he can turn his hand to any kind of gig. Those of us who happen to see him play quite a lot are excited to hear some of his newest songs, performed along with a backing track of a ‘full band sound’ which is a very intriguing live twist.

We’ve always believed headliners Isabelle to be one of the most musically accomplished of all local(ish) acts – their summery soul-pop (and do I even detect some smoky jazz flavours today?) is easily good enough to reach a national stage. I’ve seen them a few times now, but one thing which strikes me at this gig is how spot-on the backing vocals (provided by their percussionist and drummer) are. They may come from... shall we say men of a certain vintage?  (like we’re ones to talk!)  ...but they sound like the missing two members of a Motown girl band when they harmonise with lead vocalist Letty. The crowning moment of genius in their set this time is the cover of “Groove Is In The Heart” – a song which I had believed was uncoverable by band bands... till now!

So... a great and variety-filled gig, and a smashing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. All hail Basement Music. See you at the next one!

Monday, 13 February 2012


You know when – very rarely I suppose – you’re at a gig and all the pieces fit? Several crucial factors come together in a way unlooked for and just interlock beautifully, jigsaw-perfect? Well, that happened to me not once but twice last week. What are the odds on that? I’m almost scared to go to any more gigs in the coming months for fear I’ve jinxed them.

I guess it helps that the two headline acts at these two gigs, on consecutive nights right here in MK, are two of the best local (or semi-local) bands I’ve heard in all my years swerving in and out of the scene – but still, both of them totally lived up to my fanboy expectations!

Thursday night at the MK Gallery Project Space, and Felix are hypnotising an audience with their spellbinding sound as the snow falls gently but persistently in the square outside. This is the first time I’ve been to any event in the Project Space, over the way from the main MKG, and it’s a fittingly arty setting for the three-piece: essentially a small gallery-stroke-warehouse space with white walls and cables strewn across the floor. Phil and I arrived early enough to hot-foot it to the small sofas in one corner, as befits men of our advancing years.

Though frontlady Lucinda hails from Milton Keynes this is actually the first time I’ve seen Felix in the flesh – long-term readers will remember my gushing about their debut album a couple of years back, they’ve already long since made it big enough to not need to be playing here very often! In fact this gig is part of a brief UK leg of a tour which moves on to Canada and the US as they prepare to release their second album in the Spring. Which is brilliant news! I hope they get bigger and bigger.

Their support comes from a chap from Derby trading under the name Emphemetry – one man, one electric guitar and any number of pedals – slowly building up loops of himself which grow into things of intense fascination. We’re starting to see this done more and more around the local open mic scene, but I’ve never seen it done this well before.

The silence which builds during his set is cemented during Felix’s. The audience who have braved the mildly wintry conditions are rapt, not daring even to whisper as we’re treated to a whole batch of new tunes every bit as fascinating and beautiful as their previous work. The three members (piano / guitar / drums) are so tightly in sync with each other it might be telepathy. Near the end, Lucinda and the drummer both bring out matching ‘xylaphone-shaker things’ (this may not be the technical term...) and chime out aching harmonies beat-perfect.

Felix don’t sound quite like any other band I know, and that’s why I love them. There’s layers and angles and hidden corners to them, and that’s reason enough to dig any band. Brian assures us that the cover they play is Hendrix. Man. I am so glad I didn’t miss this!

And then, 26 hours later, I am stood upstairs at MADCAP with a big sappy grin on my face as Final Clearance rock their way through “Monkey Kettle Track Of The Year 2011” ‘Synth Song’. An appreciative audience of whipper-snappers, the parents of whipper-snappers, and assorted bredrin from the Monkey Kettle Massif whoop and screech their approval. And though this may be the last Dudebox Chronicles gig (at this venue leastways) it feels like an extremely satisfying end chapter to me.

The two younger bands in support are both very impressive too, ‘belying their tender ages’ [this is the sort of cliché rock journalists often write, I’m a bit ashamed to stoop to it here to be honest]. The Individuals are very exciting – a singer with an impressively full voice, solid support from the instrumentalists, and a livewire drummer who’s so hyperactive he drums standing up half the time! Good stuff – plus a nice mix of covers and originals. They had me at “Livin’ On A Prayer” but I also really enjoyed their deliciously bitter song about a recently departed band member. And they all jumped up in the air at the same time at one point – man, not enough bands are doing that these days!

The interestingly-spelled Amoania Lisa are a spiky three-piece whose frontman was wearing a very tall top hat! They may not have all jumped up in the air at the same time, but their tuneful grungy-punky sound was engaging nonetheless – and Phil and I both got very excited when they covered “Molly’s Lips”!

I know we probably go on about them a lot on here, but headliners Final Clearance get better every time I see them. Their ranks now replenished to a five-piece with the addition of new(ish) member Lewis, their sound is even more assured, and it’s a treat to see such a confident and mature – sometimes ‘mature’ can be used in a derogatory way with music reviews, I mean it here in a good way! – performance from them.

There’s even a few new songs on offer as well, which gets me excited about their 2012 – but it’s some of the old favourites which get the blood pumping hardest tonight. The rhythms, the violin cutting through, the tunes. Superb. Plus, we somehow managed to get an audience at a Dudebox gig! So now I can rest in peace, mission finally a-fucking-complished.