Shallow / Cube / Blackrock
Derby Vic April 1 1999
I'd heard quite a bit about Blackrock recently from people in Nottingham. Not sure how much is true, but I was intrigued and wanted to see for myself. And this was the chance. No mistaking the type of music they play and the era they enjoy. We're back in the seventies. There's hair and flares. And there's a groove coming from the music that although is Sabbath in the riff is also a whole lot groovier. Yeah, it's an overabused term, but it applies. And this is a form of music that for me works so much better live than recorded. Even without screaming hordes, there's something that makes the live experience more important, more vital. It carries you along. But then, as far as I'm concerned, bands should be able to prove themselves live. And it helps having a nutter as a frontman, who wanders around to look at the few people there and then screams "hold your beers in the air". Less advisable is discussion of underwear and the subsequent viewing of the garments. One song is introduced as being called Arse. Which it definitely wasn't, and Downer had the opposite effect. "We've got a small selection of t-shirts. 6 in fact. Please buy one so that we can buy more beer". Ah, a band that pours any money they make back into the band. Quite literally. You've got to admire that. And you've got to admire Blackrock. Cos tonight I did.
Which is more than can be said for Cube. Ok, fair's fair, this wasn't the bill for them, sandwiched between two monolithic slabs of stoner like doom. They managed to get the audience down to seven, according to the headcount by the singer. But it was bland and insipid. Faceless and staring into the areas occupied by say SilverSun and, on one track Radiohead. But nope, it didn't move me at all. It would've done, cos I would've moved to the bar if it wasn't for the fact that I do believe in trying to give bands a fair chance and listen to them. It's a common courtesy. But, I was proud to be a part of "The worst audience in the world ... ever". Yet I think they've got major label backing behind them, and they seemed to believe they were better than this. Huge amounts of equipment, and their name bigger than anyone else's on the poster outside the pub. On this evidence, such belief is sorely misguided, and an indication of how major labels can get it sorely wrong by putting their trust in bands that they thin may fill a gap in a currently gapless market for this sort of music. They ought to take a chance on something different instead.
Which meant that Shallow could only be better. And they were. And then some. Blackrock have returned to the fray to worship at the feet of the new pretenders. Or something like that. And we're back into that powerful and hypnotic groove. Like I said earlier, it always works better live. I guess listening to a CD there's the tendancy to drift into something else and have it as a background activity, as I'm doing as I type this while listening to Magic Wave. But live, it grabs you. Those grooves, the bass playing that looks like the bassist from COC (whose name I've conveniantly managed to forget), the dubious headgear, and those riffs. The Live at Heimi Hendersons EP is a great snapshot of the band, and it's recreated here and then some more. The half an hour passes in a flash and you almost feel they're going to swagger away from the stage with a groove.
Of course, we all know that if they'd have been an American stoner band there'd have been a heap more people here. Because everyone knows that American are better. Yeah, ok, in image, because it's something from "over there." but in the music, we can compete on an even footing. Though of course you shouldn't compete. Music is about music and enjoyment, not competition or who looks the best. It's to be enjoyed and experienced, and that's what happened for two thirds of this evening. Another one where I can go "I was there, ner ner na ner ner" in your face. If I was that way inclined. Still, it was April Fools Day, and I'm sure everyone else was enjoying a good joke somewhere. But remember, after midday, the jokes on you. And if you missed this one tonight, well, it most certainly was.
Right, Iím going to see me mum for a few days. Iíll say you said Hi.
BlowHoly - Church Bizarre
Well, Iím back. Me mum says hi. And first thing to arrive this morning was this CD from BlowHoly, who seem to put out things faster than I can review them and is always much more pleasing than a bill arriving. This time round is a sort of compilation like thing. CD I mean, not bill. WAIT. Woah there. Come back. I know I said compilation, and I donít like that word either. But youíre not allowed to run a mile unless youíve got everything on the compilation. Which you havenít. So donít balk at the word. Besides, the album goes for 2 quid, or free if you have internet access and download the MP3s on offer.
Ok, so youíre sticking with me for a while here? Good. Right. BlowHoly offer up a mixture which is pretty unique. Iíve said before, and for the sake of being lazy and not thinking of a better comparison, itís Sabbath meets jungle sort of thing. Now that may sound bizarre, and it is to an extent. But somehow it works. Maybe itís the relative uniqueness of it. Maybe itís just good songs. Maybe you should go and find out for yourselves.
It opens with The Great Leveller, a bit of a blast against all the luvvies so protective of their musical and artistic rights who are currently scared shitless of the Internet and itís technologies. "Oooh, protect us please and our profit margin from those naughty naughty people who are downloading stuff for the price of a phone call instead of lining the pockets of our big major label bosses who only charge WAAAAY over the odds for a CD." Then thereís Psalm666, Scene & Herd which youíll have heard last time on the Yazcore CD. Look, itís not my fault if youíve not been keeping up. Things are going fast here. Well for me anyway.
Lyrically itís a biting release, but right on the mark such as on Iconoplastic. But then thereís a strong sense of melody, and of knowing how to structure things that seem kind of off kilter and wouldnít fit together, but instead you end up with great tracks like Dig Your Own and Shotgun Pissboy.
And thereís a hidden track. None of that tagged 20 minutes after the end of a song malarky. This is hidden somewhere. Oh and itís good. Some will say sacrilege. Had me bouncing though. Well, bouncing as much as I ever do. Fun fun fun. No, Iím not telling you what it is. Youíre going to have to do somethings for yourselves. Whereís the fun otherwise. I mean, whatís the harm in you spending 2 quid yourselves to get a copy of this and find out. No harm whatsoever. So, youíll just have to do it. Because, if you want to check out something different this year, then BlowHoly has to be your choice. And even if you donít want to check out something different, but BlowHoly should still be your choice.
Oh, and check out the barcode. And the center page credit sorta thing notes. A hoot as they have surely said somewhere else in the past.
BlowHoly. Ever reliable to chuck out a release per issue of this zine. Ever likely to have the previous release no longer available, so you have to act fast. I think itís about time an interview was sorted out with this little mystery donít you? You do? Well thatís handy cos thereís one in here somewhere. Go and have a look. While you do, stop off at the following address with 2 quid, and itíll all make so much more sense to you in the morning. Probably.
Contact: 13 Partridge Drive, Mulbarton, Norwich, NR14
For the free downloads, go to www.hermetic.force9.co.uk