Monthly Archives: January 2010

Live: Denis Jones – Band on The Wall

When I’m not earning a living as a member of Manchester’s elite Bloggerati, I do a bit of moonlighting. Even so, I’m going to keep this as impartial as I can.

There’s a lot of really good musicians in Manchester, a ton of talented bands and an endless stream of opportunities for Saturday night fun. We’re famous for it. This is both a blessing and a curse. Being exposed to so much talent can raise expectations so much that it’s hard to be impressed – this is part of the reason so many touring bands consider Manchester a tough crowd. It’s not because we’re moody or too cool to show appreciation. It’s just that we’re so used to seeing talent that what a crowd in say, Peterborough, consider great, we’d probably find boring.

Last night however, I found myself uttering the words Holy. Bloody. Hell. Denis Jones is a genuine, absolute, bona-fide genius. And a home grown one at that. With the Mancunian drawl of Guy Garvey, the wit and charm of John Bramwell and the one-man-band loop and effects talent at a level I havn’t seen since Jeff Klein, Denis Jones demonstrated he is perhaps the most talented and innovative musician on the scene at the moment.

Playing to a packed to the rafters Band on The Wall, with a backing band and complete audio/visual setup (as well as bringing his own stage), he’s also shown us that he’s ready to make the step from pub/indie clubnight fodder to full blown concert performer. And about time too.

Catch him at small venues while you can, he’s about to blast through the stratosphere. Friend Rock’s tip for 2010, so far.


Photo: Peter Rea


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The 22-20’s – Latest Heartbreak

I hope you’re as excited as I am – one of my favourite bands are reforming. The 22-20’s. (you must remember them. Almost indie darlings of 2004 that only *just* didn’t quite make it).

Quite why half-arsed second raters Kings of Leon became so big yet far better contemporaries (namely The 22-20’s and one of New York City’s most exciting bands The Witnesses) didn’t I find baffling, to the point of almost rage (people who know me will be all too aware of my opinions on this). It’s great to see The 22-20’s return and I can’t wait to hear more from them. January, so far, has been a great month for music.

They’ve sneakily stuck up a new track, Latest Heartbreak on their (pretty much deserted) MySpace page. Keeping true to their gutsy blues rock roots, and with an even more psychedelic edge reminiscent of The Black Angels, if this is anything to go by then I for one am very, very excited about any potential new material or live dates. Stay tuned!

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These New Puritans – Hidden

This is one that is going to need some heavy rotation on the Friend Rock Stereo before it finally sinks in. A record so complex and intricate that on first listen left me feeling dizzy, bewildered and drained. I felt like time had passed yet I couldn’t quite recollect what had happened. You know when people claim they’ve been abducted by aliens and lost track of what they’ve done for the last few minutes/hours? Well, they havn’t. They’ve just been listening to These New Puritans.

It seems like there is absolutely no rhyme, reason or structure to this record at all. Part trip hop, part Sufjan in classical mode (see our review of the outstanding B.Q.E), part Bloc Party, part demonic horror movie soundtrack, it sounds like absolutely nothing I’ve heard before, yet at the same time completely familiar. The best analogy I can think of is that if you imagine find every piece of music that has ever been written, and play it all at once, you’d probably get something pretty similar to Hidden.

With influences ranging from caveman-inspired drum rhythms, to medieval chanting, through to classical symphonic melodies and electronic beats, this album is essentially a postmodern deconstruction of what music itself is. More than a record. A true work of art. Bigger than the iPod, bigger than the stereo. This should be heard in galleries.

An early contender for album of the year.


Hidden is released on 18th January on Angular Records. They play The Deaf Institute on 3rd February.

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Adam Green – Minor Love


I never quite know what to make of Adam Green, New York City’s most popular export of the Anti-Folk scene. He, along with Kimya Dawson (everyone’s favourite angst ridden twee singer-songwriter. Lads – girls love her. Girls – lads love girls who love her) was a founding member of The Moldy Peaches, who around the turn of the century changed the face of what was then considered ‘folk’ music. They took away the pipe and slippers and replaced it with the beer bottle and the bong. After a series of hilarious yet touching solo records (the highlight being 2005’s Gemstones), Adam Green seems to have grown up somewhat with the last few albums.

Jacket Full of Danger, Sixes and Sevens, and latest release Minor Love show that there is a serious songwriter behind the cartoon character. While this is all well and good, what really made Adam Green appeal to me in the first place was his ability to pen a hilarious and darkly comic lyric with a wonderfully poppy tune. This has now been diluted, and resulting sound is really just an essence of what Adam Green is really about.

I sense that this is intentional on his part – no longer content with being an ‘indie jester’, he obviously wishes to be considered a more serious songwriter, with a higher level of maturity. This is to be commended, and though he does run the risk of alienating a fairly big chunk of his audience in doing this, he’s going out of his comfort zone and trying something different. Not all artists bother to do this.


Adam Green is playing at Club Academy on February 1st.

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Auletta – Meine Stadt

Recently signed to EMI and with a track on the Fifa 10 soundtrack (along with The Whitest Boy Alive and The Answering Machine – top video game tuneage), the future looks bright for one of my most recent German discoveries. Edgy art-rock guitars reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand but with more testosterone fade into slightly ‘messier’ chorus chord-slashing that makes me think of The Libertines back when they were innocent (okay, well just less guilty than they ended up). You might think, by that description that I find them a bit derivative. Well, yes, they are – there’s no great musical innovation here. They wear their influences on their sleeve and aren’t afraid to show it – like so many German bands whose primary influence is British indie rock/pop. Unlike some other bands I’ve reviewed recently (See here and here and here for examples of a band so thick and full of themselves they completely missed the point of objective criticism. Anyway…I digress…) Auletta do this with a degree of fun and tongue-in-cheek charm that really works. This is music to listen to while having a beer getting ready to go out, to listen to with your mates and have a good time to. There’s no need to overthink it, which is exactly why I’ll stop writing now.

Auletta are currently on tour and are playing the marvellous Magnet club in Berlin on March 4th. With a bit of luck I’ll be there. Who fancies it?


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