Black Dahlia Murder.

19th JANUARY.
corporation.


Reviewer - talie eigeland.


"SHIRT OFF," says Trevor Strnad casually. Downtune the guitars, enter blastbeat, cue headbanging. Two songs in and the singer of this Michigan five-piece is throwing himself around the stage like a five year-old, swinging from the beams of Corp whilst sticking his tongue out in delight.

They're not too hairy for a metal band; you can actually see their faces if they stop moving for long enough. The bassist is a walking advert for Metal Hammer magazine, all muscles and impertinent tufts of hair. The heavily tattooed drummer slouches on his stool throughout the entire gig looking stoic, beardy and wearing a cap. The rhythm guitarist keeps the rude jokes flying and the solo guitarist is pretty much what you'd expect from a solo guitarist - beautifully conditioned hair all over the place and epic guitar shredding.

"Show me that circle pit," screams Trevor. He thumps his chest bestially, slapping hands with members of the crowd at regular intervals. Apparently they're Corp regulars, having played there once a year for quite a while now. It's one of those gigs w here the public is far from threatening, but rowdy enough to keep security on its toes. One guy eventually succeeds in getting chucked out after throwing himself across the barrier to land midway between one of the heavy-duty stage monitors and the somewhat sticky floor.

Things take a turn for the tribal as the evening wears on and the band play songs from their more technical and less melodic latest album, Rituals. They surprise some of us with some acoustic guitar, and momentarily con some of us into expecting some clear, melancholic vocals.

The encore isn't a given. The venue has known fuller gigs, but there are enough hardcore fans to bring the band back saying, "You guys are still here, huh?" Despite Corp being Corp, a moshpit don't necessarily happen but this time it does. The guitarist starts rolling around on the floor and Trevor looks on smugly, laughing and dancing something closely resembling the can-can. After two bonus songs featuring thick bass lines and solid layers of double kick pedal, Trevor puts his serious glasses back on and the band hang about throwing anything and everything into the crowd. Also yes, they do plan on visiting the chippy on the way out.

The Mother Folkers.

14th January.
cobden view.


Reviewer - ben eckersley.


"There's cider in my glass, I can't drink it any more / I tried to tie my shoelace, but I wound up on the floor / You know my mother told me I shouldn't drink at all / but it's just a glass, it's just a glass, it's just a glass..."

There was another one as well, how did that go? Hmmmm. Oh, yes....

"Cider, cider, everybody loves a lovely cider, cider..."

The Mother Folkers certainly like their cider, and so do I. As I queued at the bar for possibly my fourth pint of Dogdancer, I realised that Sophia Pettit was obviously singing these words directly to me, encouraging me. It's entirely possible that everyone else in the pub had exactly the same thought, at exactly the same time. Hips moved, ribcages were elbowed. Legs jumped, shoulders were barged. Drinks were spilt. 'Raucous' doesn't even come close. For a cold winter's night on the edge of town, this was a packed out gig, the riotous and thoroughly intoxicated audience cheered by the warmth and exuberance coming from one of the happiest bands in the city.

It's only now, in the cold light of day, sorting through a few hazy images in my memory that I realise that maybe - just maybe - I should have taken some notes.

It's been a good few months for the Mother Folkers. They've been a favourite on the local scene for some time now, but this summer saw an extensive UK tour, followed by the autumn release of their debut EP (at a similarly cider-soaked and sweaty Red House) and a couple of good support slots. They've weathered the setback of the departure of two members, and at this gig unveiled their new line up featuring Alex Roc on bass and Sam Jersche on drums. The new members have helped fill out the sound of the band, giving their tunes more depth and a greater punch.

For the uninitiated, the Mother Folker's sound is a blend of English and American folk influences, combined with a love of hip hop, blues and electronic music. With a line up that includes flute, violin and accordion as well as five members that sing, they're able to create a range of textures. On the whole their music is extremely upbeat and catchy, but songs like 'Belle's Tale', with its affecting lyrics and rich harmonies delivered over an accordion drone, demonstrate the range and depth the band can reach. At this gig they debuted new track 'Actor and the Actress', a brilliantly constructed song showing off the great things we can expect from them this year.

Other live favourites like their ever-popular cover of Jurassic 5's 'Concrete Schoolyard' sway the crowd, along with tales of errant cowboys, hitchhiking and drinking. The Mother Folkers kicked out any concept of January blues and gave their enthusiastic audience plenty of reasons to be cheerful in 2012.

Pub Scrawl.

20th january.
harley.


Reviewer - andrew almond.


On Friday 20th January The Harley played its part in hosting the inaugural Pub Scrawl event, devised and curated by Sheffield's own Pete McKee. Along with nine other city centre venues, The Harley put on an eclectic evening of live music and live art.

The Harley doesn't need to rely on special events to get punters through the door; it matters not what time of year it is or what's going on. With this in mind it came as no surprise that The Harley's Pub Scrawl event, which featured artwork exclusively designed by Tom J Newell, was a resounding success. Earlier on in the evening it was reassuring to see perhaps a more diverse clientele than would otherwise frequent this venue, further proving the effectiveness of Pub Scrawl's "If you build it they will come" ethos.

Upon entering, it was obvious that this was no normal Friday evening in the Harley. Newell's artwork adorned almost every vertical surface as the man himself worked there, added to the repertoire of unique, distinctive pieces. There was also a charity market selling everything from t-shirts and wallets to limited edition art prints and posters, all in the name of Sheffield Children's Hospital.

After a mooch around exploring Tom J Newell's offerings and a pint of the Thornbridge Scrawl (brewed exclusively for the event) there was also, of course, the characteristic live music to enjoy. Following the dustbowl blues stylings of Double No No, it was the ferocious distortion-drenched punk of Love Boat that closed the evening. I hate to pigeonhole, but with riffs that were as voluminous as their hair, Love Boat recalled Iggy and the Stooges with a little bit of early Ramones thrown in for good measure.

All in all it was the perfect gig to bring the curtain down on another great night in the Harley, which was replicated at nine other venues up and down Sheffield. A firm handshake to all those involved. Bravo.

Humble Soul 5th Birthday.

21st January.
Band On The Wall, Manchester.


Reviewer - Ian Pennington.


Birthdays - opportunities to meet with old friends and fondly reminisce. For Manchester-based independent record label Humble Soul it was no different, except that their accumulated friends happen to be some of the finest musicians that the city has offered this millennium.

You could call it eclectic, but this particular bill is more a case of folk and easy listening sandwiched between two examples of aptitude in innovation, Paddy Steer and Denis Jones. The former, a polyrhythmic percussionist who is one half of Humble Soul signee Homelife, opens the show, but the emphasis is with the latter headliner, who is joined by his now regular collaborator David Schlechtriemen (aka The Pickpocket Network).

In between is a midsection comprising the calming Cortina Deluxx and Table, who make use of the grand piano for a selection of compositions designed for the Band On The Wall jazz club in its smokier days, the lack of which may alter the modern day atmosphere, but now means you can see as clearly as hear the sobriety and stillness of melody.

They're bookended by the bands of GladEyes and Aidan Smith, with Smith leading the party game fun, his wonky pop a wealth of between-song banter (calling his brother, the lead guitarist, "Carlos Santander" after a short burst of screaming notes) and light-hearted lyrics ("I took my girl to the cinema complex").

Smith is constantly wary of the time, indeed most are ushered through at a canter, making the pause for breath ahead of label centrepiece Denis Jones & The Pickpocket Network seem prolonged. This is soon forgiven thanks to a set that illustrates the benefits of freedom of expression without limits on time or creativity, typified by the pounding 'Rage', which grinds the show to a halt over an hour later. With an overall mellower feel than recent displays, the pair emit a variety of progressions from scattered digital darts like a less wacky Dan Deacon to looped samples of a Moondog epigram ("Machines were mice and men were lions once upon a time, but now that it's the opposite it's twice upon a time"), via a couple of old favourites in the form of 'Beginning' and 'Sometimes'.

A fitting end, temporarily at least, to Humble Soul's Manchester output. I've been assured that the journey will continue from further afield, so hopefully there'll be many more birthdays to follow.