Category Archives: The Sound of Music

Today I Stumbled Upon: Caudal

Caudal is a trio featuring Aidan Baker on guitar, Gareth Sweeney on bass, and Felipe Salazar on drums. Baker’s multi-layered, heavily affected guitar overlays Sweeney and Salazar’s driving, propulsive rhythm section creating music equally influenced by krautrock, post-punk, and spacerock. Their debut album “Forever In Another World” was released in April 2013 by Oaken Palace Records. Their second album “Ascension” was released on Consouling Sounds in 2014.

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Punk Albums 40 Years On

My top 10 so called “punk” albums, which I was listening too in the 1970s that have remained influential to this date.

1. Pink Flag – Wire

2. Entertainment! – Gang of Four 

3. Rattus Norvegicus – The Stranglers 

4. Fun House – The Stooges

5. The Clash

6. Never Mind the Bollocks – Sex Pistols

7. The Ramones 

8. The Undertones 

9. Germfree Adolescents – X-Ray Spex

10. Singles Going Steady – The Buzzcocks

Thackray’s Oddity

In a decade peppered with cultural and economic change, the 1970s certainly churned out a vast array of musical genres. While TV sitcoms reflected the mundane of life there was also documentaries that sought out injustice and the mysteries of the world, (John Pillinger, The World in Action, Whicker’s World).  In this national psyche emerged the oddity of Jake Thackray’s Yorkshire baritones penetrating the fray of well tuned southern accents, which still dominated broadcasting. My first memory of Thackray was as a young child during a magazine TV programme called That’s Life, a machine gun etiquette of consumer protection, light entertainment, performing dogs, funny shaped vegetables sitting alongside hard-hitting investigations into wrong doing. Thackray was brought up in a working-class family and enjoyed the pleasures of pale ale, rugby and pipe-smoking. After moving to Lille in France, where he taught English, Thackray became an unlikely disciple of French artists like Georges Brassen and Jacques Brel.

A poet songwriter and solitary singer Thackray’s songs were pitted with humour, satire, and social observations of everyday life. A person who shied away from the limelight, referring to himself in the 1970s, “I turned into a performing dick” after his popularity propelled him to regular TV appearances Thackery withdrew to smaller venues and pubs where he felt a connection with his audience. Aspects of this work have dated, but his importance is often overlooked, and while some lyrics may not find favour, it can be sluggish to cast off artistically given his observations are so humorously ludicrous, and light years away from them misogynism we witness in today’s music scene. It would be like trying to sensor Tom and Jerry cartoons for modern video game violence.

In his later years, Thackray was beset by health and financial problems: he had become an alcoholic and was declared bankrupt in 2000. He died of heart failure 24th December 2002. To a young child, he was an oddity. He stood out because there was no reference point to place him but he remains to this day one of those artists who is captured in glimpsed childhood memories of my parents chuckling along to the double meaning of this lyrics.

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BC Camplight: Chaotic Beauty

A last minute decision can often lead to surprising consequences. A pleasant, if not mildly overcast day (31/5/16) had turned BC Camplightto light rain and the attraction of a lazy evening endlessly flicking through deadbeat channels seemed to be on the cards when the mobile phone rings, it’s my bud Derek with an offer of a ticket for a BC Camplight gig at The Louisiana, Bristol. There is an acceptance that neither of us is fluent in the work of BC Camplight and as Derek puts it, “it’s worth a punt.”  Derek had sought, unsuccessfully to see BC Camplight last year, but circumstances had conspired to have the gig cancelled. BC Camplight is the moniker of American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio. Originally from New Jersey, Christinzio allegedly relocated to Manchester, following the advice of a fan on social media. In early 2015 Christinzio overstayed his visa permissions due to a leg injury and was made to leave the UK, resulting in the cancellation of his band’s summer tour which was to include performances at the Green Man and End of the Road festivals and an appearance on Later… with Jools Holland.

Tonight’s venue the Louis is one of those endearing venues with a knack of promoting bands on their ascendancy or providing the platform for artists who are quite content to remain below the radar appealing to a network of diehard fans who are equally content to hold onto their secret. Old gig posters are evidence of past glories, Amy Whitehouse, Florance and the Machine, Coldplay, Kasabian, Muse, The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Kings of Leon to name a few have trod the boards of its 140 capacity. The audience is literally standing in your face with private conversations between songs easily being picked by the performing artists and turned into amusing rounds of audience participation.
Courtesy of Mr Derek DoddDrinks in hand we make our way up the creaking wooden staircase. Tonight’s support is provided by Grace Lightman whose performance, band, and overall delivery is solid. An intriguing mixture of low-tempo soul and jazz with a hint (and I’m sure I’m not the first to this point out) of Kate Bush lingering in the air. The set is well received and with each song Lightman grows in confidence and seems to shake off the nerves. BC Lamplight takes to the stage in rather a shambolic method. Christinzio immediately informs the audience that he is receiving electric shocks from the keyboard, which is confirmed by the sound engineer that this is due to the “cheap gear” the group is using. It is also easy to detect that most, if not all the band, are the less for wear from their London gig, which turned into an extended birthday party for Christinzio at a student’s flat. The first song is interrupted by individual band members seeking alterations to instruments and sound. Even Christinzio is seen to be crawling under his keyboards adjusting wire, with shouts emerging, along with the occasional electric shock. The sound is not brilliant, but the character of a gifted artist and band is ingrained in the ability to manoeuvre around obstacles, even if most are self-made obstacles. BC Camplight does this with ease given the depth of talent on the stage, along with the rich material at their disposal. A fair chunk of the songs tonight I later learn are harvested from the band’s latest album ‘How to Die in the North.’

Performance wise I can hear an array of influences from Springsteen, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. Derek identifies Harry Nilsson influences. They are all there mashed up in chaotic beauty. Whilst an assortment of booze is exchanged between band members Christinzio announces to the audience that he is staying in the local Travel Lodge. Room 26,  “if some young adventurer is interested in a little post sordid birthday celebration.” A male member of the audience shouts out, “what if my wife finds out.”  Christinzio replies without missing a beat, “Did I say room 30.” Overall a gem of a gig and if you get the opportunity to witness BC Camplight live I suggest you take it.