Sly & The Family Drone - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley
Sly & The Family Drone - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Sly & The Family Drone - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley

Nothing puts you in the festive spirit (too early?) quite like torrential rain and train strikes. Tonight is the very last Golden Cabinet of the year and nothing short of Cthulhu, rising from his subterranean Lovecraftian lair and laying waste to West Yorkshire, is going to stop me from going. Earplugs, raincoat and monster slaying kit all packed and ready.

Andy Brown
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The Soundcarriers - The Victoria Dalston, London
The Soundcarriers - The Victoria Dalston, London
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

The Soundcarriers - The Victoria Dalston, London

If the 1960s had The Zombies, famous now for releasing their masterpiece Odessey And Oracle before promptly splitting up, then similarly the 2010s could have had The Soundcarriers. Between 2009 and 2014 they released four astonishing albums before seemingly disappearing.   

charles filtness
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The Fernweh, Headrow House, Leeds
The Fernweh, Headrow House, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

The Fernweh - Headrow House, Leeds

The Fernweh's debut album is an instant pleaser.  It's a record soaked in nostalgia and indebted to many influences. essentially a modern day psychedelic folk-rock album in the mould of many of the classics of the genre from late 60's and early 70's.

charles filtness
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Szun Waves - Headrow House, Leeds
Szun Waves - Headrow House, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Szun Waves - Headrow House, Leeds

Szun Waves are a three-piece comprising saxophone, drums and electronics/synths, it is a side project of sorts being that the members are all involved in other bands or collaborations.  This years follow up to their 2016 debut LP has been a critical success and will doubtless be featured on plenty of the more interesting best of the year lists.

charles filtness
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Thom Yorke - Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY
Thom Yorke - Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Thom Yorke - Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY

I like Thom Yorke’s solo stuff better than his work with Radiohead.* Leave now if you’d like.

paul_guyet
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Evil Blizzard - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Evil Blizzard - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Evil Blizzard - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

I look to my right and see someone dressed as a cross between a pink poodle and Geri Halliwell, a blood-soaked surgeon and someone in one of those bird-like plague masks. A scary looking clown, a Nun, and Dracula himself. They’re all out tonight. Right in front of me, there’s a guy who looks remarkably like a young Nick Cave (although I think that’s just a coincidence). This, dear reader, is just the audience.

Andy Brown
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Low - Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Chicago, IL
Low - Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Chicago, IL
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Low - Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Chicago, IL

For the last 25 years or so, I’ve been pretty ignorant of the Duluth, MN band Low. Their brand of not-quite-shoegaze, affectionately dubbed “slowcore” by their fans, has never been my forte, but earlier this year the band released what will go down in the history books of 2018 as the possible album of the year with Double Negative.

Tim Sentz
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boygenius, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus - The Sylvee, Madison, Wisconsin
boygenius, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus - The Sylvee, Madison, Wisconsin
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

boygenius, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus - The Sylvee, Madison, Wisconsin

When news of the union of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus broke, along with an upcoming tour it was just a matter of where to go and catch them perform live.  With no run through the southernmost states, it may not have seemed genius to fly from a perfectly sunny Florida winter day to Wisconsin and a mid-teens forecast. But not knowing whether this run of dates would get extended or not, you gotta pack up your meager winter wardrobe and get on the plane. 

Mark Moody
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Chinah - Bermondsey Social Club, London
Chinah - Bermondsey Social Club, London
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Chinah - Bermondsey Social Club, London

Bermondsey Social Club is a deceptively hard small venue to find, tucked away as it is in a dark alleyway of industrial arches you could easily walk by (which is what I did…), like getting invited to an underground warehouse party you need a secret password and good credentials for.

Priscilla Eyles
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Iron & Wine - Tampa Theatre, Tampa, Florida
Iron & Wine - Tampa Theatre, Tampa, Florida
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Iron & Wine - Tampa Theatre, Tampa, Florida

The last time Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine) came through town, it was a solo show.  That’s a bit of an underwhelming statement compared to the reality of it.  At that show, Beam strode on stage with acoustic guitar to much applause, paused and asked: “What do you want to hear?”  That was the format for the next ninety minutes and it was amazingly intimate and effective.  Some kid in his dad’s lap yelled out for ‘Dead Man’s Will’ and left me with nothing to do but be awed.  There was no buffer between Beam and his audience that night many years ago, and though he had a four-piece primarily acoustic band in tow this time, the wall between artist and fan remained very transparent.

Mark Moody
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Richard Thompson - Town Hall, New York
Richard Thompson - Town Hall, New York
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Richard Thompson - Town Hall, New York

When we think of Rock’s great guitar gods, Hendrix, Clapton and Page always come to mind. Its criminal Richard Thompson remains a too well-kept secret. These days, he’s more famous for not being more famous. In addition to a spellbinding virtuoso, he’s also a wickedly talented songwriter. 

Kevin Orton
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Killing Joke - O2 Academy, Bristol
Killing Joke - O2 Academy, Bristol
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Killing Joke - O2 Academy, Bristol

To watch Killing Joke take to the stage is like seeing the Mount Rushmore of post punk assemble before your eyes. Masterful drummer who can switch from tribal power to fluid subtlety on a dime, or a penny if you prefer, guitarist carving arcs of controlled noise from the air, always precise never gratuitous, bassist driving beneath it all with just the right amount of space around the notes, and a singer for whom the term is woefully inadequate.

Simon Heavisides
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