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LIVE: Hey Bulldog @ Jimmy’s | 27.10.18

WORDS BY BENJAMIN CASSIDY      PHOTOS BY JOESY LOWESY

Before the Hey Bulldog gig, at Jimmy’s, last Saturday, we chatted with Ben, Matt and Rob, who, collectively, are rock trio Hey Bulldog. We covered all sorts of topics and I managed to find out aspects about the group’s individuals. There was no shortage of banter either, including some cheeky interpreting of questions too, to keep me on my toes. It was as good a way as any to calm those pre-gig nerves, on what was a huge night for this lot. Plus, it’s good fun!

Earlier today I was having one of my little talks with my partner’s eleven-year-old daughter, Lily. She asked me what’s my favourite instrument that I can’t or haven’t played. So, I put it to you.

Ben: Well, I wouldn’t mind having a crack at a big organ.

Rob: Probably a grand piano, if I could learn to use the foot pedals and everything – I’m alright on a keyboard or electric piano, but a real one would be amazing to learn to play fully. That would be amazing! Yeah, grand piano would be mine. One of the reasons to want to live forever is to be able to learn every instrument.

Matt: Saxophone, or trombone. Something from the brass section of an orchestra, that would be cool. I’ve never done it, other than the recorder at school!

Is the name of your band inspired by The Beatles song?

Ben: Yeah, it is (Ben beams proudly), getting it in before anyone else.

Matt: Yeah, we’re all Beatles nuts. When we started playing it wasn’t as well known as some of their other songs. We were called that before the Beatles re-issue stuff came out. Now everyone’s got Spotify, or whatever, it’s listened to loads.

Rob: Yeah, I wouldn’t say it was obscure, but, it wasn’t a hit or anything. We just loved the name. 

Guys, any new releases coming up?

Rob: We’ve just recorded a new single.

Ben: It’s just finishing being mastered now.

Matt: (It’s called) ‘No Future Part 2’.

Ben: We’ve got another single being released around February time too.

Rob: Yeah, we’ll probably collate it, along with some other tracks into an album, next year. We’ve released around four or five singles in the last few years, so, we’ll use some of those and put it with some new stuff, too.

Matt: I’m looking forward to holding a vinyl copy of our album, having pressed our own record. That’ll be very nice.

How do you find the Manchester music scene?

Matt: It’s wonderful. Like a proper community. It didn’t used to be that way, it was quite insular when I first moved from London about ten years or go. It’s great now, everyone knows everyone and there’s a lot of love for one another.

Ben: The bands supporting us tonight are mates, we just met through gigging and chatting to.

Rob: The only kind of rivalry now is the sort you want. If we go and see local groups we know, and, they’re absolutely nailing the night, we want to go out at our next gig and smash it too. That’s positive though, and, inspires you and encourages you.

Matt: We all help each other out, where we can – with rehearsal space and even equipment, etc. We go and see other groups play and they come to see us.

Last one now, then I’ll let you go: Last gig you went to?

Ben: Deja Vega, last night. We all went.

Rob: Before that it was Brian Jones Town Massacre, last Saturday.

Well ahead of the first support act going on, there was a sizeable crowd, downstairs at Jimmy’s. It’s a venue known for quality acts and some of the best band nights around; tonight’s gig proved no exception. After a DJ set from Mike Denton (of Lucid Dream), La Mode were the first live act on the bill. They got things going with a heavy rock sound, the backdrop to a strong, raw vocal from the lead singer, who, thrashed around the stage utterly owning it as their own.

The drums clashed and clapped pulsing rhythms, alongside meaty guitar riffs that ripped the atmosphere open, declaring intent. They were here to make their mark and did exactly that. Far more than just a thud of drums and screaming guitar work, they had a bluesy feel to them too, often slowing down to offer what were well written and equally well delivered love songs, mournful and pained, fused with an electricity that was their unpredictability. After a year long hiatus, they’re back. You can catch La Mode live, in December, when they’ll be the main support for Carnival Club, in The Deaf Institute on December 15th.

 

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Best band in MCR @lamodeband

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Next up were Gardenback. Jangly guitars and a traditional “Madchester” sound base was this group’s modus operandi. They’re a tight outfit and reminiscent of some of Kasabian’s stuff, with their guitar work. That’s not to say they didn’t have uniqueness, though. The vocal harmonies were a defining part of their onstage sound, one they’d honed and gotten down to professional standard. It worked brilliantly on stage, acting as a sort of live “double-tracking” effect.

Gardenback let the songs do the talking and played the type of music that makes people get up and jump around (that’s exactly what happened). On top of their game and with some songs sang back to them by their followers – flattery and appreciation doesn’t come much bigger than that. They played for around half an hour, but, could have gone on with plenty of material and more than enough in the tank.

The main event. Whoops, cheers and a blistering start, by Hey Bulldog. Straight to it. It’s hard to believe that they are a three piece, with the power of the punch they pack into their performances. Drummer (Ben) and bassist (Matt) combine to make a sound that easily filled the bottom floor of Jimmy’s. Rob, (lead guitarist and lead singer) was the lungs and the nerve centre, tearing it up with riffs and lead lines that were electric.

A diverse sound, that fuses elements of 60’s psychedelia with brilliantly creative song building, performed with imagination and a very clear understanding of how to best incorporate technical trickery, to add to their sound. A huge aspect of their sound is their relentless and frantic energy, with Rob dropping to his knees and grinding out solos, Jimmy Hendrix style. The performance was an inspiring one and what Saturday nights are made for. The basement of Jimmy’s was well and truly theirs, and the fan’s now. A real den of sound, made by the group and built upon by the audience, who were having an absolute riot, yelling, clapping and jumping up and down.

At around two thirds of the way into their set, Hey Bulldog seemed to shift gear, again and up the ante. It was as if they were challenging themselves to ensure there was nothing left they’d have to give by the end. That sort of commitment to music, to the fans and to themselves is something special, indeed. It really was an athletic performance and one that showed what this band are capable of. They explode into action, in what appears to be instantaneously, then, hold everyone present in the palms of their hands, by creating sheer emotion by way of vocal and slowed down playing. It was amazing, how they could slow down a moment and keep you in it. Absolute wizardry and astounding artistry, all happening in front of you. As Hey Bulldog reached the end of their set, the silence was deeply felt. They’d made it able to be forgotten what quietness was – there was barely any between songs – the set, around an hour and ten minutes, was non-stop.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: Club Kuru @ Jimmy’s | 19. 10.18

WORDS BY EMMA DAVIDSON

Want to be in Club Kuru? The first rule of is that you have to be horrendously sexy. The second – you have to be into jazz. Or more importantly, the sweet, sweet sound that the London five-piece perfectly project. Jimmy’s hypnotic back drop couldn’t be more fitting for the cord clad southerners and their psych-rock, synth led, kaleidoscopic craft.

Opening the night are Manchester based Solis. Singer Sarah-Louise’s haunting vocals transfix the room into a still silence with a hypnotic performance that mirrors early Lana Del Rey and induces you into a goose-pimpled daydream. Songs like ‘Be Together’ transport the room to a smoke filled, red lit, downtown New York jazz bar, disclosing a mischievous get away. Solis seem to effortlessly warm the crowd creating the perfect podium for Club Kuru to take to.

Starting the show with their most recent single: ‘49 Years’ the band automatically adopt a theatrical style through the haunting chants that accompany this track. Club Kuru are so beautifully in-sync and tighter than a child’s school photo ponytail. With sensual jazz-esque drum beats and vocals that are delivered so innocently on a vibe that is always glowing and never disrupted, dimly lit grins are painted on the faces of onlookers throughout tonight’s passionate production.

 

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Friday evening was an absolute dream 🌈

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The quintet are no strangers to an elaborate live performance and that is only met this evening with the removal of singer Laurie Erskine’s shoes and a passionate kiss by one member of the audience. Other tracks such as ‘Giving In’ are delivered on a wave of psychedelia that could’ve easily been mistaken for a page in Kevin Parker’s note pad and the excitement grows as the band give the audience a subtle sample of something new. The song is called ‘Film Credits’ and forces the five-piece to erupt into a frenzied jam of severe instrument bashing. It’s also seemingly impossible to move the audiences gripped stare from guitarist Laurence’s mesmeric fret-board fondling after this particular track.

As the band make their way through the rest of their set, their jazz routes and music teacher certificates are waved straight in your face. The performance of songs such as ‘Ribbons’ is such an effortless groove. A song that is stunningly stripped back but still carries the same energy through intricate piano solos yet made out to be something you feel you could learn in an hour. For front-man Laurie, it’s his impressive CV curated by a piano teaching career that makes this seem so effortless.

Club Kuru end their set with the rather fitting ‘The Memory Junkie’ which has been a neurological hook since the release earlier this year. The song is something you wish you could package up and deliver to your most loved as it is such a delicate little announcement of affection. It is a refreshing burst of modern psychedelia that is performed to its upmost perfection this evening. With help from fans carried along by that distinctive wah-wah guitar riff, it feels as good as it sounds. Club Kuru are a band of vibrant and distinctive individual talent that when combined is the tastiest psych-rock recipe you could ever get your lips around.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: Bakar @ Jimmy’s 01.10.18

WORDS BY PABLO BLANQUITO

There are a chorus of ‘experts’ who insist British music lacks rebellion, a cause or a youth movement to give it the edge that brings vitality and authenticity. In truth the world has changed so much since the heyday of youth movements that it is unlikely to ever be that same breeding ground again. Rebellion has a new face in the form of Bakar.

In a basement full of youthful faces wearing their best Stüssy and Balençiaga, on a rainy Manchester Monday night, one voice implores the crowd. “They told me Manchester was noisy? Come on!” Bakar is at the forefront of a new kind of authenticity. One that chooses to reject all assumed musical tropes and take whatever influences they want, combine them and make something fresh, real and vital. He and artists like King Krule, Puma Blue and Hak Baker set fire to all the old rules of what can be combined and which lines can be crossed by whom.

He arrived on stage through the crowd, lean and dressed with dandyish singularity. His band playing a skanking rhythm that was unexpected in its instant super tight energy. No intros were given, just bang and straight into ‘One Way’. It was clear he wasn’t going to mess about. He challenged the crowd to represent their city and not be so passive. He didn’t mince his words.

Bakar‘s music ranges from the anthemic and sing-along to the mellow and emotional. This, if nothing else represents this new G Folk / Punk Soul style. It bleeds from established genre to genre without any loss of passion or composure. It is eclectically authentic.

Now he had the crowd noisy and singing back at full volume he climbed up onto the speaker stack and kicked into ‘Handful’ with velocity. His whole crew and the support act singing along all around the venue. He stopped midway into ‘All In’ to tell some people scuffling that ” We don’t have none of that bad energy here. It’s only love here and when we are here together we are one. 0161 vibes” to massive applause. Truly impressive. As was his flawless control of both vibe and crowd throughout the night.

 

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Not so quiet monday @bakarrrr @jimmys @sjmconcerts #mcr #livemusic #newmusic

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He paused to gain his breath and sing something new called ‘Chill’ followed by his two most accomplished and genre defying tracks ‘WTF’ and ‘Ctrl Alt Dlt’. The first being brilliantly changed from Smino-esque, midspeed ,voice altered style to a straight ballad. He then upped the ante and flipped the ‘WTF’ to a faster harder vibe while swinging from the overhead pipes to the management’s great concern.

Aside from the high energy and the serious musicality of his band, what impresses most about Bakar is his stage craft, charisma and ability at this early stage in his career to effortlessly genre bend at will. He isn’t settling for simple repetition and playback he’s setting the bar high for himself and he expects the audience to deliver the same way.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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Baby Strange

INTERVIEW: BABY STRANGE INDEPENDENT VENUE WEEK

Now just over one year old, Jimmy’s on Newton Street is a symbol of everything the city of Manchester holds dear. Created by musicians and haunted by pretty-young-things – or those who admire the niche way the Budweiser logo twists into Bowie’s iconic lightning bolt effigy over the stage. Baby Strange were first to take the stage by storm in the wake of the first official Independent Venue Week that Jimmy’s play home to.

Highlighting their rise up through Manchester to a sold-out venue, Baby Strange ‘s first gig in Manny was in the hallows of Fallowfield’s Fallow Cafe way-back in December 2014 with roughly five people in attendance (besides the bartender). Consisting of brothers Aidan and Connaire McCann, plus close-friend Johnny Madden, the Glaswegian trio say that their sound has grown-up and altered a great deal since then. “We’re a lot better as a live band and we’re a better band in general. That was our first ever headline tour, we’ve figured it out more since then.” Having met in their hometown at a local community music group, the brothers and Johnny connected over a mutual music taste, having coincidentally all attended Franz Ferdinand‘s Barrowlands gig a few years before they met. It was clearly fate.

Mentioning artists, musicians and even jewellery designers amongst their circles, it’s refreshing to see that this fresh-faced young group are incentivised by those they spend time with. Baby Strange, however are more than just another indie band. Catalysts for their own ever-changing ideas, including new projects and thrills including their own club night in Glasgow; ‘Club Sabbath’,  which boasts a heavy line-up of new artists each night and held at their local ‘The Priory Bar’, arguably Baby Strange are no trio. One might even be inclined to say that Baby Strange are becoming a movement, or even the basis of a small community.

Since starting the night a couple of years ago, the band have now transitioned it down to London, often playing host to some form of Baby Strange -esque act – either playing a set on the night, supporting the scene, or simply enjoying a the time they have amongst allies. Current favoured acts of the trio include the likes of similar fresh-faced musicians who also implore a dark, high-paced rhythm to their sound, such as “Rascalton, The Dunts, Lucia, Pleasure Heads, The Van T’s to name a few.” An ode to their trail-blazing method of showcasing original performers shows as Rascalton take to the stage as support act for their Jimmy’s date (and the rest of the venue’s Independent Venue Week slots). The Glaswegian punk-quartet present their self-proclaimed “scruffy yet sharp” sound to the audience, opening up the weeks gigs, firmly setting the pace for a heightened, hedonistic night ahead.

Speaking of Glasgow, having now toured with the likes of major bands like Slaves, Palma Violets and Swim Deep, and explored the country (and further lands), is Glasgow still the heart that beats for this homegrown talent? “The Glasgow music scene is incredible. So many exciting bands are coming through, it’s great to see.”

We’ll take that as a swift and definitive ‘yes’ as the band regale stories of how they met and the acts that are trickling from the Scottish city to slowly fill our music scene. Since the release of their debut album in 2016, there is an ever-moving future for Baby Strange. And what’s more exciting? The band are currently demoing new tracks, mentioning something of releasing an album this year… ‘in an ideal world’. Let’s hope that this year is an ideal world.

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