Soft Kill - The Castle Hotel, Manchester
Soft Kill - The Castle Hotel, Manchester
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Soft Kill - The Castle Hotel, Manchester

Partly through tonight's set Soft Kill's frontman Tobias Grave exclaims “you can tell we listen to a lot of bands from Manchester”. It's perhaps the understatement of the year for this four-piece from Oregon, who revel in the doom and gloom of Manchester's past. With the intensity of Adam Bulgasem's drumming echoing Stephen Morris and the mood set at early Factory Records, it's Middleton's The Chameleons that Soft Kill are drenched in the DNA of, as disconsolate vocals and spectral guitars envelop the tiny Castle venue on a dark Monday night.

Steve Rhodes
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Alejandro Escovedo - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, North Carolina
Alejandro Escovedo - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, North Carolina
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Alejandro Escovedo - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, North Carolina

For an artist who has returned repeatedly to the subject of boundaries and borders in his songwriting, Alejandro Escovedo is blissfully oblivious to both when it comes to his varied musical approaches.  On a night when the weather called for staying in, those who ventured out to the venerable Cat’s Cradle (my first trip) were rewarded with a cross-cultural dynamic that yielded an unleashed hybrid vigor.  Touring in support of his album, The Crossing, with Italian band Don Antônio backing him, the show was a high wattage spectacle from the get-go.

Mark Moody
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Epic45 - The Peer Hat, Manchester
Epic45 - The Peer Hat, Manchester
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Epic45 - The Peer Hat, Manchester

In nearly 20 years since they released their debut single Stafford's Epic45 have produced a huge back catalogue of music, released on numerous small labels, including their own Wayside and Wondering Recordings. I picked up on them very early on due to (who else) but John Peel and their kinship with fellow pastoral guitar-strummers Hood, Grover, Meets Guitar and The Workhouse, but have somehow managed to miss them playing live over the years.

Steve Rhodes
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Mercury Rev - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Mercury Rev - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Mercury Rev - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Christmas is fast approaching but I’m feeling distinctly un-festive. Let’s see if going to see Mercury Rev at the Brudenell Social Club can fix that. Jonathan Donahue and Co are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Deserter’s Songs with some special, stripped-back performances.

Andy Brown
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Nest Egg - Night People, Manchester
Nest Egg - Night People, Manchester
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Nest Egg - Night People, Manchester

North Carolina band Nest Egg signed with Fuzz Club records to release their second long player ‘Nothingness Is Not A Curse’ earlier this year.   The label focus on guitar bands with varying influences but with psychedelic, krautrock, and shoegaze being some of those most often quoted.  

charles filtness
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Julia Holter - Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds
Julia Holter - Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Julia Holter - Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds

Tonight we are in the elegant surroundings of the Howard Assembly Rooms, a Victorian music hall that plays host to a wide variety of concert performers.  Jazz, classical, electronica and world music all find their place here and it seems an entirely appropriate venue for Julia Holter to play. 

charles filtness
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James Holden and The Animal Spirits - Royal Exchange, Manchester
James Holden and The Animal Spirits - Royal Exchange, Manchester
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

James Holden and The Animal Spirits - Royal Exchange, Manchester

James Holden has been releasing music since the early 2000s.  His initial success as a Trance producer and DJ was huge and included being responsible for a series of high profile remixes for the likes of Britney Spears and Madonna.  More recently his output has been less informed by the dance floor and more exploratory in nature. 

charles filtness
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The Mysterines & Casino Rockets, The Lantern, Halifax
The Mysterines & Casino Rockets, The Lantern, Halifax
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

The Mysterines & Casino Rockets - The Lantern, Halifax

Halifax is very much on the cultural map these days. The Orielles continue to make waves whilst the town itself has benefitted over the last few years from various regeneration projects, arts initiatives, and new music venues opening.  The Lantern is one such space, a 150 capacity first floor room that opened its doors for the first time a little over a year ago.  

charles filtness
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Preoccupations & Protomartyr - The Record Bar, Kansas City
Preoccupations & Protomartyr - The Record Bar, Kansas City
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Preoccupations & Protomartyr - The Record Bar, Kansas City

I’ve managed to catch the Calgary post-punk band Preoccupations on three separate occasions. Twice now at the same venue (though the physical location has changed). Back in 2015, they swung by the Record Bar while running their victory lap as the buzzy new band Viet Cong. Back in May, they swung by The Firebird in St. Louis, right after they hit a bad streak with their van being stolen which housed all their equipment. A GoFundMe later, and they were playing with new equipment that they’d yet to become accustomed to.

Tim Sentz
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Mother Feather - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn
Mother Feather - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn
Alternative Music - Gig Reviews - Soundblab

Mother Feather - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

People living in New York City, from time to time, need catharsis, a release. Some folks choose to yell at bicyclists, some assault hot dog vendors, some read from the Bible, out loud, on the subway. All these methods are stopgap, however. Simulacrums of the Real Thing. If one seeks true catharsis, one must look no further than a Mother Feather show.

paul_guyet
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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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