Thursday, 30 December 2010

And the winner is....

Always guaranteed to include a number of albums not featured in many other 'best of' lists, the Pitchfork top 100 albums of the year is eye opening and controversial in equal measure. While it's great to see both Vampire Weekend and LCD Soundsystem featuring in the top ten, it is equally interesting to see Kanye West, Robyn and Erykah Badu's latest albums being hailed as some of 2010's musical highlights.

Check out the full list here.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Half Man Half Biscuit, Holmfirth Picturedrome

Looking back on 2010, I'm sure people would agree that highlights have been few and far between. A pitiful performance from our national side during this summer's World Cup, the General Election result and the spending review, the career trajectory of Michael Mcintyre, the death of Malcom Mclaren and the second series of True Blood have all been crushing disappointments that us mere mortals have had to contend with this year.

One highlight, however, which in many ways was brought about by people power, was the BBC's decision not to axe the digital radio station 6 Music. From the moment the BBC announced their plans to close down several of their digital radio stations, a groundswell of support for the beleaguered station gathered pace, and grabbed the attention of musicians and music fans from across the globe.

From social network campaigns to questions being raised in the House of Commons, the quest to save 6 Music took the establishment by surprise. Within weeks of their announcement, the BBC's Director General Mark Thompson was appearing on news programmes defending the decision, but doing so without any real conviction.

One of the campaign's masterstrokes was to use Half Man Half Biscuit's Joy Division Oven Gloves as an unofficial anthem for the station.  While somewhat of a throwaway track from the band's 2005 Achtung Bono album, the song seemed a perfect choice for spearheading the campaign, with the line 'talk to the hand, talk to the hand' coming across as an alternative two-fingered salute to the DG.

A rousing rendition of the song closes tonight's set in Holmfirth, which also included HMHB classics such as Dickie Davies Eyes and the timely All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague away kit and new songs Left Lyrics in Practice Room and Tommy Walsh's Eco-House. Add to this a surreal stage invasion, a cover of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's Patio Song and an old cinema full of loyal and devoted fans singing every word as if their life depended on it, and you had all the ingredients for a cracking evening out.

Members of the Velvet Owl Gig Collective - Dukla Prague away kits hidden by their winter coats.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

And coming up on the rails....

A late contender for track of the year comes from Velvet Owl favourites British Sea Power with this majestic song from their new album Valhalla Dancehall.

British Sea Power - Living is so Easy

Monday, 13 December 2010

The next big thing? Just a band.

Over the past few years, the BBC's Sound of 200? list has had a decent success rate when it comes to tipping the acts that are going to make a big impression over the next twelve months. Adele, 50-Cent and Corinne Bailey-Rae have all been successfully identified as ones to watch, and their 2010 list included Ellie Goulding, The Drums, Hurts and Delphic, all who have enjoyed critical success during this passing year.

To gain entry to the list, acts must not have released an album or had a number 1 single before the beginning of November and must not already be famous by either appearing in the final stages of a TV talent show or being a former member of a successful band.

The 15 strong longlist (it will be reduced to the final 5 by the end of December) includes Warpaint, whose single Undertow was a Velvet Owl favourite this year.  The two acts we're looking forward to hearing more from in 2011 are James Blake whose single Limit to Your Love is simply beautiful and Jamie Woon who released the graceful Night Air last month.

The longlist in full:

James Blake

Anna Calvi


Esben & the Witch

Jessie J

Clare Maguire


The Naked & Famous


Jai Paul

The Vaccines


Jamie Woon

Wretch 32


2010 exit stage right….

As the year draws to a close I see numerous top 50 album lists in various places and for the first time I can remember I can honestly say I don’t know any of the albums being touted as the finest of the past 12 months. It’s a strange feeling but it’s a feeling I can’t seem to shake.

As the year dawned I was no longer involved in the music retail business having worked for various companies and even had my own small indie shop which meant I was constantly hearing new albums good and (mainly) not my cup of char.Living in rural Ireland meant that a trip to the city 40 miles away was my only way to see and hear anything released and this was also the first year that Cork my nearest city had no indie shop of its own (Plugd was a great shop everything a small indie should be and the good news is that after nigh on a year they have recently re-opened).So that left me with the internet and the reviews sections of magazines like Mojo or Uncut. Now I have stopped buying these publications after years of getting them and Word magazine and the like for years for reasons mainly economical (at around 7 euro a pop I can’t justify it) and also as there are only so many times I can read about the Beatles or Pink Floyd or other such cover stalwarts.

Downloads I just don’t really get , I’m old school I want a tangible piece of art in my hand preferably on vinyl so this year has been all about re-discovering my collection whilst of course adding to it with stuff I already knew about if you get me.

Of course I haven’t ignored new releases completely as I made journeys to pick up albums by Weller, Neil Young and Gil Scott Heron so you can see I’m at the fore-front of the cutting edge?!!

So I’m left wondering why I simply couldn’t be arsed to dig out new music after all the internet is perfect for doing just that. Maybe as I grow a bit older and have two young kids running round all day making all manner of racket I just want to relax and have fallen into the ‘play something we know’ trap that used to annoy the hell out of me? Often I hear new stuff and think it sounds a bit like such and such so I might as well go and listen to them?  Maybe I just feel that bit older and have internally realised that most of the new music released is just not aimed at me and that’s fair enough I’d hate to be the drunk uncle at the wedding.

Or maybe the new fads were right……


Monday, 6 December 2010

Half Man Half Biscuit

Next up for the Velvet Owl Gig Collective are the mighty Half Man Half Biscuit, who play the Holmfirth Picturedrome on Thursday 16th December.  The band don't often get out much, and the gig will only be their seventh of the year.

For the uninitiated, here's Restless Legs from their Achtung Bono album.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Velvet Owl's Best of 2010

In keeping with tradition at this time of year, here's a list of the albums that the Collective have been dancing round the kitchen to over at Velvet Owl Towers.

1. High Violet - The National
2. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
3. Congratulations - MGMT
4. Sky at Night - I am Kloot
5. Own Side Now - Caitlin Rose
6. Queen of Denmark - John Grant
7. I and Love and You - The Avett Brothers
8. Jungle Blues - C.W. Stoneking
9. Infinite Arms - Band of Horses
10. Teen Dream - Beach House
11. Darwin Deez - Darwin Deez
12. I Speak Because I Can - Laura Marling
13. Odd Blood - Yeasayer
14. Plastic Beach - Gorillaz
15. Many Moons - The Cavalcade
16. Heligoland - Massive Attack
17. Brothers - The Black Keys
18. North - Darkstar
19. The Courage of Others - Midlake
20. Here's to Taking it Easy - Phosphorescent
21. Boys Outside - Steve Mason
22. The ArchAndroid - Janelle Monae
23. Seretonin - The Mystery Jets
24. Contra - Vampire Weekend
25. Magic Chairs - Efterklang
26. Sea of Cowards - The Dead Weather
27. Beneath the Burning Shoreline - Cherry Ghost
28. Fantasies - Metric
29. Tangalooma - The John Steel Singers
30. Wonderlustre - Skunk Anansie

Best of 2010 - NME stylee.

Here's what the kids have been listening to this year.

Great to see The Fall are still finding an audience amongst the nation's yoof.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Gruff Hello!

With the Super Furry Animals in a state of hiatus, lead singer Gruff Rhys sets out on his own once more with the release of his second solo album at the start of 2011.  This beautiful song is the first release from the record, a follow up to his 2007 debut Candylion.

Gruff Rhys - Shark Ridden Waters

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Caitlin Rose - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Would it be fair to say, that Country and Western polarises music lovers more than any other genre? For many, C&W epitomises the good old boy, right wing leanings of white America.  The patriotic pro-war ramblings of country artists such as Toby Keith, appeal to the boot-scooting, stars and stripes waving republican right, and leads to the idea that country music has always been politically conservative.  However, the pro-weed leanings of Willie Nelson to the George Bush baiting antics of the Dixie Chicks, suggests the genre has more to offer.  

Continuing the broken-hearted, whiskey soaked country blues of Loretta Lynn, Emmy-Lou Harris, Iris Dement and Gillian Welch, Nashville native, Caitlin Rose, captivated her small but perfectly formed audience with songs from her beautiful current album, Own Side Now. Sipping on a 'medicinal' whiskey throughout the set, Rose - despite being only 23 - gave a performance of assured maturity that often reminded me of Sissy Spacek playing the aforementioned Lynn in the 1980 biopic The Coal Miner's Daughter

Kicking off with new single Learning to Ride, Rose showed how comfortable she is as a performer, by cracking jokes to the audience and flirting with her mainly English backing band throughout the hour long set.  If I had one gripe, it would be the fact that there was no room on tonight's setlist  for her cover of The Stones' Dead Flowers, but a small price to pay for spending an hour with Nashville's new queen of country.

Members of the Velvet Owl Gig Collective outside the Brudenell Social Club.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Where’s the anger kids?

As the 80’s revival gathers pace with a right wing government , savage cuts in all areas of public spending high unemployment and the now a royal wedding to try and distract everyone away from whatever television show is sedating them at the moment I’m left wondering where are the righteous young men with guitars?

As the likes of Cameron insist that everyone is in it together (though with his millions in the bank I reckon he’s not quite in it like many others) and then some Lord Toff actually says “you’ve never had it so good” all I seem to see kids being bothered about is who gets voted off the pantomime that is X Factor and I fear the worst.

Now I’m aware as much as anyone that nostalgia’s not what it used to be but while I seethed at Thatcher and her cronies dismantling all around me at least I had my music to help me see I was not alone. “You’ve never had it so good – the favourite phrase of those who’ve always had it better “raged the Redskins on the classic 45 ‘bring it down’ and that single scarped into the top 40 when you had to sell more than 16 copies to do so.
We had Weller and The Jam/Style Council all tutoring us in the ways of righteousness with many politically charged tunes such as ‘little boy soldiers’, going underground’, walls come tumbling down’ and many more.
We had Billy Bragg whose whole purpose was seemingly political and we had many more bands all railing against the system. The Housemartins were Smash Hits regulars but their songs were all about sexism, racism and general socialist principles. Right through the 80’s there was a feeling that everything was political and even at the height of the whole Madchester shenanigans bands like The Stone Roses and The Farm were still singing about issues that affected us all.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that at that time it seemed like there was still some genuine anger about what was happening and I just don’t see that these days. Maybe The Housemartins were right in ‘think for a minute’ when they sang that apathy always wins without a fight?

So come on kids turn your tellies and your x stations off and get off your arses and make some noise!

Here’s Tom with the weather…..

Friday, 19 November 2010

Aussie Ardiles

Just like Obama's presidency, the meeting that started it all off could be summed up in the word "hope". Only this Hope ruled a Virgin Megastore stockroom and would eventually acquire a taste for spunky onions, apparently.

Yes, like most uber-fans of music, I did a tour of duty in a(n admittedly soulless) record store, but it was a period made memorable and inspiring by the presence of fellow fans such as messrs Tomlinson and Hope - friends with whose taste, to this day, mine sometimes overlap but probably more often than not don't.

Of course, having long left retail for journalism, I wound up getting to force my opinions down a city's throat, but that doesn't make my opinions any more valid. Indeed, if anything, the fact that the three of us (whose combined tastes cover a hell of a lot of ground) wound up contributing to this blog is enough of a reason for any music fan to read it - and, for that matter, also contribute to and further enrich it.

Because The Sydney Morning Herald pretty much owns me, I'll be mainly posting current links to stories and reviews I've written for them - here are a couple from this week:
I will also dig out old such items as and when relevant. For a start, Girl Talk giving away their (his) latest mental collection online this week has reminded me of a fascinating interview I did with him a couple of years ago. Highlights of that coming soon. 

And, having reviewed and interviewed several hundred shows and bands over the past decade, I'm happy to take requests if anyone wants to read anything from my archives ...

Over and out for now,

Your man at work

Thursday, 18 November 2010


It's that time of year again, where the 'best of' lists start to appear. First out of the traps are Rough Trade Shops, with their best 100 albums of 2010. It's great to see last night's Velvet Owl gig headliner, Caitlin Rose in at no.4.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Hooting and 'Owling

Here's the Velvet Owl Gig Collective's new logo, which is now available on an array of merchandise such as tea towels, mugs, badges and a limited edition beer mat. 

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Music Television

This week's popular music offerings:

I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here (ITV1, 9pm Sunday) -Not one I would usually tune into, but with Shaun Ryder dropping into the jungle, I can't help but feel strangely drawn to it. 

Later - with Jools Holland (BBC2, 10pm Tuesday) - Following the appearance from Jools Holland's Boogie Woogie Players (or whatever he calls his band of merrymakers), Later's series finale returns to the good stuff this week, with sets from Robert Plant, Arcade Fire and Mavis Staples, whose new album was co-written by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. 

Bird on a Wire (BBC4, 9pm Friday) -  Premiered at this year's Green Man Festival, this documentary documents Leonard Cohen on his 1972 European tour. 

Thursday, 11 November 2010 much to answer for.

It's official. Madchester is finally over.  Put away your flared jeans and your Joe Bloggs sweatshirts. Relegate your long sleeved 'Cool as F*%K' t-shirt to nightwear and throw your Kickers into the charity shop bin bag. That Reni hat you've been sporting all su.........what? What are you talking about?  Twenty years ago?  Are you sure?  But it seems like only yesterday when I was down at the GMEX, shaking my invisible maraca to 'WFL' and 'Mad Cyril'. Oh my God! Where has the time gone?

If you're looking for a reminder of the cruel and unforgiving of the swiftness of the passage of time, then look no further than the line-up for the new series of 'I'm a Celebrity....'  There amongst the soapstars, reality TV show goons and glamour models, is one Shaun Ryder. Staring down at his haunted face in the pages of this morning's Metro, I was struck by how quickly the years had flown by, and how it had felt like only five minutes ago when I was getting down with all the other freaky dancers to the iconic sounds of the Mondays, Roses et al.

With Tony Wilson dead, Bez on the lam, John Squire using his hands to paint rather than play guitar, Clint Boon writing theme tunes for children's TV and Shaun William Ryder now lost to the jungle, I think it is fair to say, that this particular chapter is now well and truly shut.

For anyone still yearning the glory days of baggy - Happy Mondays - 'Performance'

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Spunky Onions...

...great tune but you wouldn't want 'em on yer hot dogs hey?

Firstly I'd better introduce myself I'm Phil living in Ireland and passionate about music.Know Mark through working together years ago so he's asked me to put a few bits up so this is my first.

So spunky onions then.A rollicking rocking instrumental that guarantees either a full dance-floor in an R&B friendly room at a mod do or a room full of people looking at you wondering just why you were in fact asked to DJ in a small pub in rural Ireland.

This falls into the category of a Mad Mike sound and if that's new to you let me give you a bit of background.'Mad' Mike Metrovich was a DJ in Pittsburgh his heyday was 64-67 and he specialised in playing tunes that were on the wild and obscure side shall we say.His final broadcast was on Halloween 2000 which is as fitting as it suggests as he went home and passed away that night.Norton records have issued 3 volumes of the Mad Mike's monsters series and all are essential (the vinyls are things of true beauty).

So to spunky onions itself possibly my favourite 45 of the lot if this doesn't move you we need to check for vital signs :

Check it out.....

Monday, 8 November 2010

A Perfect Match

HMV's 2 for £10 deal is starting to piss me right off. Every week I go in there looking to take advantage of their tempting offer, but always walk out empty handed having not found two suitable CDs to make up the deal. Take the last few weeks, for example. One week I had Laura Marling's second album I Speak Because I Can in my mitt, and the following week I walked around the store clutching the third Arctic Monkeys album for nearly twenty minutes, and on both occasions, I was unable to find a suitable second CD to give me my 2 for £10. Now if these two albums had been part of the offer at the same time, I wouldn't be typing out this post, but in a bid to keep the now permanent instore deal looking fresh, HMV add and withdraw titles on a weekly basis. This week I found myself in a similar conundrum. Having chanced upon Little Richard's Greatest Hits in the offer, I was determined this time not to leave the store empty handed. Desperately I scoured the racks, looking to find a suitable partner for Little Richard's two-disc best of collection. Then, just I was about to give up hope, I chanced upon the debut album from New York's Sleigh Bells. The duo had recently been picked as The Guardian's New Band of the Day, who referred to them as the 'Kylie and Jason of extreme noise terror' and recent single Tell 'Em was playlisted by 6 Music during the summer. To be honest, the album is a little too chaotic for my middle-aged ears, but the aforementioned Tell 'Em and new single Infinity Guitars still make me dance around the kitchen and allow myself to believe - for a few minutes at least - that The Ting Tings were just part of a bad dream following a heavy night on the Wensleydale.

Entente Cordiale

Over the years, bands such as Pavement, The Stooges, The Screaming Trees, The Leisure Society, Tindersticks along with countless others have been recommended to me by my friends.  I first heard Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted on the way down to the Reading Festival in 92. The cassette containing the album had been pushed into our hire van's stereo by my good friend Peter Trigg, and was played on repeat all the way down the M1.  Thanks to Peter, I also heard bands such as Nirvana and Mudhoney long before they made the big time on the back of the 'Grunge' movement.

Music genres such as Northern Soul, 60's garage and New Orleans funk may have well passed me by, if it hadn't been for a friend's introduction through a self-made compilation or  an invite to a club.

At this year's Green Man Festival, my friend Cedric, suggested I catch the band, Girls, whose 2009 debut album had been one of his favourites of that year. They didn't disappoint. A mixture of early New Order, The Smiths and The Beach Boys, the band were a fitting finale to a great weekend.

Cedric has come up trumps once again, when this video from Canadian folk rock artist, Timber Timbre pinged into my inbox from across the Channel this weekend.  The song is an ideal antidote for those of us eagerly awaiting new Bon Iver material.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Music Television

Music highlights from this week's TV.

Later Live - With Jools Holland (BBC2, 10pm Tuesday) - The wheat amongst this week's chaff include Midlake and Bryan Ferry performing tracks from his surprisingly good album, Olyimpia.

Roll Over Beethoven: The Chess Records Saga (BBC4, 9pm Friday) - Documentary charting the history of Chess Records, the label that boasted John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Fontella Bass on its roster.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Late Arrivals

Three late contenders for the Best Songs of 2010 category:

First up, Miles Kane, who, following his success alongside Alex Turner as The Last Shadow Puppets, has decided to branch out on his own. The first single 'Inhaler' from his debut album is one catchy motherf@*ker!

Over the past five years, Jenny Lewis has released some great records either solo or with her band Rilo Kiley. This time she returns as part of the duo, Jenny and Johnny with her current beau, Jonathan Rice.

Finally, Los Angeles based, Warpaint, have released one of the greatest singles of 2010 with 'Undertow' taken from their debut album, The Fool.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Later With Jools Holland

Throughout its 18 year history, Later with Jools Holland has given me as much pain as it has pleasure; and this week's instalment was no exception. Appearing for the pleasure principle this week, we had the bastard sons of Bruce Springsteen and Jesse Malin, The Gaslight Anthem, ripping through a couple of songs from their raucous second album - American Slang. Alongside them, there was Marques Toliver, who for the first time since the spending review announcement, made me stop thinking about the odious sight of the Coalition government laughing and cheering as The Gidiot (thanks to The Guardian's Lucy Mangan for coming up with such a wonderful nickname) announced his malicious plan to wipeout the poor and the vulnerable. Toliver, could well be the most enchanting thing I have heard all year, and is another great example of Later's ability to unearth hidden gems (see also Bon Iver's 2008 appearance). A link to Marques Toliver's blog, which features his appearance on Later, can be found in my blog list.

The pain this week, surprisingly, wasn't actually inflicted by Welsh warbler, Duffy, who with a new album to promote, performed three songs and had a cosy chat with Later's portly presenter. I often wish that the producers of Later would drop the excruciating 'interview' section of the show, as it would allow more time for live music, and the viewers and studio audience wouldn't have to listen to Holland bumble his way through a series of terrible questions that have been designed as a link to a piece of archive footage of the interviewee performing on Top of the Pops or The Old Grey Whistle Test.

The pain (and remember we're all in this together) came from the abominable Crystal Fighters, who brought an uncontrollable urge in me to kick through my television set and go out and do something less boring instead. A crustie/rave hybrid, taking the worst bits (which doesn't leave much else) from The Levellers, Jesus Jones, The Klaxons and the cast of Tomorrow's People; Crystal Fighters are a band straight from the imagination of Ben Elton should he decide to write a musical interpretation of the Battle of Beanfield.
The music itself was bad enough, but what really tipped my scales of vexation, was the 'bandmember' slumped up against a monitor, whose only contribution to the performance, was to stare out across the Later studio, looking as if she had just necked her mother's secret stash of temazepam. Now I appreciate she isn't the first member of a group to stand on stage and appear not to be contributing to the sound emanating from the speakers , but at least some of them had the temerity to shake a fucking maraca!

In a week of pain, Crystal Fighters were the painful cherry on top of my pain filled gateaux.

Pass the morphine!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cool for Cats

She may have been denied the Mercury Music Award, but Laura Marling is the one having the last laugh, as today, the NME have named her the coolest person in music. Beating current hipster favourites Janelle Monae and Darwin Deez into first place, Marling joins Jack White, Alex Turner and Justin Timberlake who have all topped the 'cool list' in previous years.

And that sound in the distance? The Nu-folk brigade choking on their Ruddles, as they hear the news that their beloved Marling has been elected the Queen of Cool by the indie peasants.

Off with their heads!

Heaven 17 - Temptation

Remember the Eighties? Do you? Yeah! Great weren't they? Thatcher? Yeah! She was great! The Iron Lady? How about the Falklands War? Yeah! Remember those mass graves full of British soldiers? Yuppies? Oh Yeah! They were great! Weren't they? Yeah! The Yuppies. No queueing up outside soup kitchens for them. The Yuppies. No standing on picket lines for them. No standing around waiting to hurl abuse at strike-breaking miners for them. Not the Yuppies. No. They were all down at Annabel's. Strutting their stuff to Duran Duran. Remember them? The Duranies? Remember them on their big yacht? Remember the Spans? Yeah? Spandau Ballet? The Spans? Wham? Culture Club? The Thompson Twins? Kershaw? Jones? The Eighties. Yeah!

Walk into the nearest HMV and seek out the compilation section. Pick up the latest Sony/BMG release that has pulled together all the greatest hits of the 80's and have a quick read through the tracklisting. They're all there. Along with the likes of Kajagoogoo, Tiffany, Bros. The list is endless. But what you won't see, are the bands who made the 80's one of the greatest decades for music. No REM. No Echo and the Bunnymen. No New Order. No Husker Du. No Happy Mondays. No Stone Roses. Where are The Fall, The Wonderstuff, The Smiths? What about The Blue Aeroplanes, A Guy Called Gerald, De La Soul? All these artists, and many many more, made records that have stood the test of time, and for any discerning music fan, defined the decade more than Curiosity Killed the fucking Cat ever did.

Like Manchester and Liverpool, the city of Sheffield produced some of the greatest bands from this period. Pulp, The Human League, ABC, Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17, who with 'Temptation' made one of the greatest pop songs of all time.

Heaven 17 - Temptation (live on later)

Monday, 18 October 2010

Caitlin Rose - Shanghai Cigarettes

The next official Velvet Owl gig takes us to the Brudenell Social Club in the heart of Leeds' studentville, to see Caitlin Rose. Sounding like a female Ryan Adams when he allowed his honky tonk leanings get the better of him, Rose has been building a steady UK fanbase following several festival appearances this summer.

Caitlin Rose - Shanghai Cigarettes

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Black Mountain - The Hair Song

6 Music are all over this like a cheap suit at the moment. Is it me, or does it sound a little like Tim Burgess on lead vocals?

Black Mountain - The Hair Song

Thursday, 14 October 2010

British Sea Power - Tokyo Nightclub, Huddersfield

'I rode over mountains to Huddersfield, a wilder people I never did see' John Wesley, 1757

The Huddersfield landscape has changed quite considerably over the past 250 years (though Merrie England Coffee Shop on a Saturday afternoon can still be quite raucous), but despite its recent cosmopolitan face lift, the town is still without a recognised live music venue, the type that attracts the calibre of bands that are regulars on the 6 Music playlist or current darlings of the NME/Uncut/Q/Mojo (delete where appropriate).

Though the history books will show that during Christmas 1977, Huddersfield played host to the final shows The Sex Pistols played in the UK; over the past thirty years, the town has become somewhat of a popular music wasteland, and can only lay claim to be the hometown of indie landfill founders, Embrace and for the local College being the further education alma mater of Justin Hawkins from plastic metallers The Darkness.

So it came as some surprise, that British Sea Power (on their night off from supporting the Manics on their UK tour, no less) decided to rock up to Huddersfield to perform an intimate gig at Tokyo's nightclub.

With new e.p. Zeus and album Valhalla Dancehall to promote, not to mention a fine line in quirky merchandise, the band performed a raucous set to a small but appreciative audience. While the band seemed very much at home with performing the new material, it was old classics such as Carrion, Waving Flags, Louis and set closer Lucifer that had the crowd (especially the two Reni look-a-likes from Lincoln) punching the air with delight.

With The Bluetones and The Sunshine Underground up next at Tokyo's, and the Holmfirth Picturedrome continuing to attract acts such as The Fall and Badly Drawn Boy, Huddersfield appears to be finally shaking off the ghosts of Christmas past.