Event Review: Vivien Goldman – ‘The Punky Reggae Party Show’

vivien goldmanFor many of us, our comfort zones lie outside the physical world. Face-to-face conversations are bring replaced by IMs, text messages, tweets, and comments on Facebook statuses that drop off your news feed after you’ve scanned over them once. From this social evolution, a profound sense of disconnect is gradually emerging.

Vivien Goldman’s Punky Reggae Party Show explores the meeting of two groups for whom deep connection and active communities were paramount: Reggae musicians and punk bands. As a talk named after a Bob Marley single penned in appreciation of the Clash’s cover of reggae artist Junior Murvin’s tune Police and Thieves and hosted by a respected NYU professor, writer, and music journalist, Goldman’s Punky Reggae Party Show might sound to some like a stuffy, overintellectualised snoozefest entirely out of sync with the attitudes and ethos behind the actual musical movements being discussed – but the reality is very different. Goldman speaks from first-hand experience of the front lines of reggae and punk at the time of their very first meeting, and her enthusiasm for music with deep meaning and intent is both boundless and infectious – making the Punky Reggae Party Show an exciting and engaging experience.

Unlike many academics, Goldman – also known as the “punk professor” – steers effortlessly clear of condescension and instead sticks to plain-spoken passion delivered over a backdrop of grinding dub tracks and razor-edged punk songs. Her vocalised journey considers a wide range of fascinating and turbulent areas – not only history and music but also politics, class, racism, sexism, social norms, and the need to cling tenaciously to a sense of hope for the future – before encouraging interaction and debate during the closing Q&A section. This section (officially entitled Reasoning) proved particularly surprising.

In punk, anyone can take three chords and a guitar and get involved – and Goldman takes a similar attitude to debating. In school, college, and university, debates are normally anxiety-provoking and acrimonious – but in the cozy and intimate confines of the Boileroom, this debate was anything but. Rather, it was a friendly and intriguing discussion of several topics that lay outside the Punky Reggae Party Show‘s remit, more like an engaging chat between friends in a pub than a raging ego war between bitter rivals in a lecture theatre – and a great way to finish off a stimulating and captivating evening.

Goldman points out that modern music needs a similar sense of social connection and consciousness to that of punk and reggae – and as someone who engages daily with contemporary musicians across a massive variety of genres, I wholeheartedly agree. Academia may have a reputation for being archaic and out of touch – but Goldman is different. During the Punky Reggae Party Show, scholarly conventions are tossed out of the window as patronising tones are replaced with passionate words, hushed silences are replaced with classic reggae and punk songs, and prescribed perspectives give way to individual self-expression. But outside of the walls of venues such as the Boileroom, there is still much work to do before we can expect to see serious change.

TMMP is all about dissolving boundaries – and my experience here proved just how surprising life can be when you drop offline for a while and go do something that doesn’t involve clicking a mouse or tapping a screen. If this show had been replaced with a YouTube video and a Google+ Hangout, it just wouldn’t have had the same impact – and if I’d pre-judged this show using the opinions of commenters on other sites who hadn’t taken the time to leave the house and see it for themselves, I’d probably never have gone. This is the big barrier that separates modern life and cultural creativity from the ways of the past – the assumption that the Internet holds all the answers.

If we stick to our digitised comfort zones, holding court on the world’s goings-on from the comfort of our sofas while failing to look up from our phones or shut off the on-demand TV box in favour of trying something random just to see what happens, we may end up forgetting how to really connect socially or experience life as anything other than stories we hear from someone else. From that position, nobody can be expected to create socially connected and conscious art of any kind.

The good news is that it’s easy to avoid that situation – and thanks to people like Vivien Goldman and public meeting spaces like the Boileroom, the resources are there to be put to good use. All that remains is for people like you and me to make the most of them.

Vivien Goldman’s Punky Reggae Party Show takes place at the Cube in Bristol on October 19th.

Links / Video

Follow Vivien Goldman on Twitter.

Read more about the Punky Reggae Party Show here.

Sweet Deals On Surgery – ‘Total Reek Hole’

sweet deals on surgeryA friend recently asked me to write a review describing an awful band as a “shit sandwich” – and when Sweet Deals On Surgery offered up this EP in exchange for a brief review regardless of which words I might choose, I expected to wind up satisfying both parties. Unfortunately, the former will have to wait a while longer – because as scrappy and unkempt as Total Reek Hole is, it’s just as equally enjoyable.

This EP isn’t an easy listen by any means – but underneath the rickety production job and terrible track titles lies a set of songs that bring to mind the glorious DIY days of early punk. It goes without saying that Sweet Deals On Surgery aren’t aiming to be anything except what they already are – but let’s be honest, that’s a pretty rare quality in punk these days. Throughout Total Reek Hole, catchiness, character, and messed-up humour are prioritised over self-conscious image maintenance – and the results are far better than those generated by the hand-wringing masses sneering and preening in front of the mirror and obsessing over whether they’re “punk enough”.

Bands who can win me over with songs called Rohypnol’d At A Family Do and Elvis Costello Is A Wanker are fucking rare. Fair play to Sweet Deals On Surgery – I doubt I’ll ever write that two-word review about them.

Links / Listen

Sweet Deals on Surgery on Facebook and Twitter.

Thomas Giles – ‘Mutilated World’

thomas giles modern noiseIn music, the term ‘side project’ is all too often synonymous with ‘pretentious and execrable waste of time’. Not so here – although given that we’re talking about a member of Between The Buried And Me (who even managed to put out a non-shitty covers album), it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Mutilated World is intended as a teaser for a full album (Modern Noise) set to drop on November 25th, and judging from this track’s thick, disturbing textures, the hotly-anticipated long-player will be worth the wait and wet dreams.

Links / Listen

Pre-order the full Modern Noise album here.

Submotion Orchestra – ‘Trust/Lust / Swan Song’

submotion orchestra trust lustOff-kilter electronica, bottomless grooves, elegantly plaintive vocals, soul-based yet uniquely emotive vibes – Trust/Lust is a prime Submotion Orchestra cut backed up by the sparsely luscious Swan Song. Together, these tracks combine to form a perfect teaser package that drops on November 17th, one week ahead of third Submotion Orchestra LP Alium.

I can’t wait.

Links / Listen / Video

Submotion Orchestra official website.

Chronographs Hunt For New Vocalist

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 13.22.57For the past several months, TMMP has watched Bristol-based math rock quintet Chronographs go from strength to strength while pursuing their ‘One Song A Month For A Year’ project. Then disaster struck last week with the departure of vocalist Jon Sinfield – the lyricist and voice behind tunes as varied as the haunting Porcelain and upbeat, summery Flat White.

Press statements from the band indicate that the split is amicable – and potential replacements are already being invited to audition using the audition track featured below.

As a long-time Chronographs supporter, I’m looking forward to seeing where these guys go next.

Links / Video

Chronographs official website.

Nick Johnston – ‘Atomic Mind’

nick johnston atomic mindOver the past few decades, the instrumental guitar community has done little to silence its critics, the “It’s all just wanking over a lame backing track” lot. With Atomic Mind, Nick Johnston is coming to the rescue – and his efforts definitely deserve acknowledgement.

Backed up by two of the ever-classy Aristocrats in Marco Minnemann and Bryan Beller (and inviting third fusion luminary Guthrie Govan to share the spotlight during Silver Tongued Devil), Nick Johnston infuses every note with character and soul – which is an impressive feat considering just how many notes get pumped through your headphones over the course of Atomic Mind‘s ten tracks. This is instrumental music, after all – but there’s still no sense of ego-gratifying profligacy, provided you can hear fast enough. Instead, Johnston, Minnemann, and Beller brew up consistently moving and hard-grooving sketches that grow on you with each listen.

Whether you’re perusing the quirky intro to Ghost of the Robot Graveyard, snapping your fingers to Silver Tongued Devil, or shedding a tear over the focussed intent of Last Deals of Dead Men, you’ll quickly find your brain cells beguiled by Atomic Mind if you consider yourself a serious guitar fan. Even if you’re new to the world of the six-string, Atomic Mind remains an essential addition to your library. Put simply, this is how it’s done.

Links / Listen

Nick Johnston official website.

Live Review: Bare Jams (The Boileroom, Guildford, 12/10/14)

bare jams logoAlthough Guildford’s alternative music venue is called the Boileroom for a reason, few bands heat it up as quickly as Bare Jams do. For band and crowd alike, this show was very sweaty.

Although the band were quick to admit that “…the set remains the same” as for previous local outings, it was still a straight-up corker packed with crowd favourites and subtly grooving classics. As they brought the Boileroom’s ‘Big Draw’ arts and crafts day to a close, Bare Jams once again proved themselves masters of the art of having fun. With the promise of new material on the horizon, Bare Jams’ future looks very exciting – but right now, the present is more than pleasing enough.

Links

Bare Jams official website.

The Boileroom official website.

Rose Coloured official website.