Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Big Joan - The Long Slow Death of Big Joan

"There's no... there is no need... there is no need for alarm, alarm..." insists Annette Berlin on Noah's Farm, the second track on Big Joan's latest album, The Long Slow Death Of....

Those of us who've been following the Bristol fourpiece for any length of time are hoping the stress is on the "long, slow" part of that title rather than the "death". No-one who cares wants to see Big Joan set down any time soon.

The whole album shrieks, wails and punches against that phrase, "there's no need for alarm" (a shrill noise in the middle of 888 even sounds like a siren). It's a thrill ride. The overriding image I have listening to it is of a musical tank, rolling destructively down tight urban streets, in some apocalyptic future war film. A tank ridden by the band, with Annette atop it as a kind of visionary tank girl, of course. Her voice sometimes echoing off metal sheets; sometimes raving like a late night evangelist on a transistor radio the caterpillar tracks will drive into the ground. Noah's Farm is explicitly inspired by the book of Genesis, but the album is all Revelation.

Sorry, I can get carried away with imaginary visuals (though I challenge anyone not to think of a battering ram when listening to Morel's Sleep). The point is it's exciting. And threatening, and portentous, and above all confident. I've been trying to work out what this confidence is, because you feel when you first hear the songs as if they belong to a band used to playing them to huge crowds, and in (unjust) reality, Big Joan are relatively unknown outside of the Bristol rock scene. Of course the key to that sense of assurance and assertiveness is that they're not doing it for the sake of untold masses at all; they know exactly what they want the music to be regardless of whether very many other people are going to be shelling out for tickets to see them play it or not. The result is a sound which embodies an aggressive rejection of compromise, and it's a joy to listen in on if you're sick of bands making music the way they think you want to hear it. Paradoxically there surely is a crowd out there hungry for this, listening in on the last working radio sets in the world from behind metal sheets in zombie shelters, if only they can get the right point on the dial and hear Big Joan's call out to those still living.

Closing track Bin 1, a highly dramatic version of an instrumental long-term live favourite involving an actual bin, says everything I'm trying to say here about the album and the band, for itself, in no words at all.

Buy the album and a limited edition copy of the CD can be yours, while stocks last:

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Madvent Chokalendar 2011

Every year, the denizens of Bristol music forum Choke produce an mp3 advent calendar, with a new track up for free download every day. It goes by the name of Madvent Chokalendar.

Visit the calendar page once a day to claim your free mp3. To find out who each track is by, you'll want to right click on the day in question on the page, choose 'save link as', and open it in your music player (they might remain a mystery if you're using a phone!)

You can also join in and chat about the tracks on the forum or the Facebook event .

Here's what's come up so far on December 3rd 4th 8th. They're all well worth downloading, but day one in particular, apparently inspired by the 1914 Christmas Truce, is quite unmissable -

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8

Long may the Madvent Chokalendar last - a seasonal gift from the musicians of Bristol.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Megan Wright reviews Hysterical Injury

Telling you how awesome I think Hysterical Injury's debut album is would be fairly meaningless, being as I am their manager.

So instead I sat my octogenarian grandmother down with a pen and paper and put it on, and this is what we got. The album was released on 6th February 2012 and was one of the first people to hear it. A typed transcription follows the notepad scans.

Hysterical Injury - Dead Wolf Situation

"Hysterical Injury!!

1.) Halo Alkanes
Rhythm - very good start!!
Voice clear & musical
Foot tapping, encouraging one to find someone to partner, dance & hum along with.
Heavy, - then too heavy for most folks' pleasure but excellent for carnival parades.

Ice Break
If they are hoping to break ice with this one, they will find themselves knee deep in water!!
Patrolling, singing along!
Good voice good tempo
Guitar sound good
It keeps the drum movement swinging along!

Cycle One!!
Diction on music, non understandable, trilling good: improves as music swings along.

Very good rhythm.
Voice with music super!!
It makes one swing along with it.
In a small part it feels as if the needle has got stuck - only for a short while.

Track 5 Rosetta's Waves
A slightly rough sea!
Trying to swim through the sea AND SING! Very difficult but well activated.
It sounds a bit like someone wanting to go back to save folk from THE TITANIC.

The Works Track 6
They seem to be working against the clock so as to have no overtime to work!
Very swingy!! Electrifying

Track 7 Visions of Trees
The wind is blowing the trees in an interesting fashion
One wants to dance along with friends who will hold one.

These musicians will go far, because they are super."

We don't yet have my gran's views on the remaining 5 tracks of the album, but if I get a chance to sit her down to listen to them, I'll share those with you too.

You now can hear the whole thing for yourself below. (and buy. Buy! BUY!!!)