NHC Review Bundle - Against Me! / Daryl Sperry / Barstow Bats / The Rolling Stones

Against Me! - The Garage 09/12/16 (Glasgow)

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.

In so many ways the welcoming words that can be read on liberty island have become a sick joke.
Not just for the US, but for many countries.

The cries to tighten border controls, to ship people into detention centres, to send them home are everywhere.
And with these utterances aired, the same people who through fear, or hate, are emboldened to mouth other obscenities.
The lbgt community are chastised at every turn from the so called God fearing, the disabled are mocked, the poor lambasted for being victims of economic changes they had no control over, the ill are considered a burden on the state, and the big picture being promoted is ultimately that if you are different, then you don't belong.

Of course it's all bullshit.

Much of what is being promoted is manipulated by the media whose job of being information providers has been set aside to make room for an ugly propaganda machine to take its place.

So with this being the case there is no better time for punk rock to offer a voice to the marginalized.

And no one does is quite as well, or as powerfully, right at this minute as Against Me! do.

With two biographical albums rooted in their vocalist Laura Jane Graces transgender journey they provided themselves with a career game changer, but also, and probably unknowingly, they did something far more important.

And that was to reach out and connect with people.

All different people.

And this was very obvious when they arrived in Glasgow to perform on their current tour.

From the first crashing down stroke I couldn't have been the only person to feel the hairs on my neck rise and an emotional lump to form in my throat.

From the balcony looking down into the seething mass of humanity there was something raw and visceral in seeing so many individuals communing as one.
A wide range of ages, a very clear range of people who would self subscribe to fluid gender tags, gay couples, straight couples, punks, goths, unique people who refuse to be categorized, and all freely expressing themselves with no fear of judgement.

It really can't be stressed enough how important this is.

It goes beyond the experience of the show just being another gig, and takes it took it to a whole new level.
A level that fills people with hope, that gives them strength, that provides them with a light to focus on that can push back the darkness they may feel is enveloping them daily.

This is the positive power of punk rock when wielded in compassionate hands.

And while providing all of this, the show also had the needle in the red on the entertainment valve.

Against Me! are rock solid.
A finely honed band tested again and again on the road.
There is a fluidity in how they play and they are not in the business of providing anything less than everything they have, and the audience reciprocated in kind.

Midway through the set merely being a witness wasn't ever going to be enough, and I joined the throng of people who were throwing themselves about stage-front.

And it was at this point everything felt complete.

Utter undiluted harmony in semi-chaos as those around me set all their hang ups and fears aside and let themselves be swept away in the moment.

I have experienced this before, but only on a handful of occasions of seeing literally thousands of bands and artists of all genres.

Against Me! provided that hit, the one thing the music fan searches for again and again.
The moment that the engagement becomes transcendental.

Are they the most relevant and important band in the world right now?

Well that's a subjective point of view, but should they be?

You're damn right they should.

Barstow Bats - Lyver Riots Review - John Innes

Barstow Bats – Lyver Riots A great ‘big’ sounding album, from Dumfries band Barstow Bats is a sumptuous piece of production and playing. Fabulous hooks and harmonies adorn every track with echoes of The Coral, Rubber Soul vintage Beatles, and Arctic Monkeys. The production is a stunning piece of work in its own right and the playing is on the money. Every instrument is given space, and the mix is a delight. The core band of Andrew Rendall , Steven McKie, Barry Gemmell, and Jonny Tait is augmented by some rather splendid keyboards by Kit Allen that provide a little more depth and individuality to the sound – steering it away from any possibility of falling into the abyss of indie genericism. Thoughtful and INTERESTING lyrics are sung with passion and style – I particulary love the Scottish accented delivery on ‘Dig Or Be Drowned’.

The only criticism I have is that some of the phrasing on several tracks is a bit Alex Turneresque, but that is my mere pedantry rather than a deliberate barb. Stand out tracks are an updated Killer Queen (a compliment!) on the wonderful ‘Vixen’; ‘Love Bite’; and, the aforementioned ‘Dig or Be Drowned’, but to be fair, there is not a bad track on the album, and would recommend it to anyone who likes well crafted, intelligent, indie pop – a piece of pure class.

An accidental gig with Daryl Sperry - Jenny Tingle

Daryl Sperry is a name I have seen around quite a lot as a journalist for NHC.

I ended up playing for Daryl at Oxjam as a temporary drummer by accident- long story short I suck at computers. I don’t know what I’m typing into this thing half the time.

Daryl works extremely hard, gigging most nights. He’s totally absorbed by and passionate about music.

I have to admit, as a lover of heavier music, I often have a biased opinion of pop music and light indie rock, perhaps a part of me I should work on improving. That little inner voice was whingeing at me all the way to my first rehearsal with him. I find security in hitting drums as hard as I can, so this was a learning curve for me.

Daryl’s music is catchy, hooky upbeat stuff, with nice guitar melodies and a positive vibe.  His love of music comes across when he plays live, as well as his honest and enthusiastic personality. He’s not the kind of person who expects a musical career to be handed to him on a plate and works hard. I think Daryl Sperry is one to watch in the indie rock/pop scene. There’s a refreshing honesty about him which comes through in his playing. He doesn’t rely on a stage persona to keep people entertained- music is what he loves, and it’s what his audience gets.

If I had to choose two standout track from his EP, they would be Eyes On Me and title song, I don’t Want to be Everybody, because they are damn catchy. Daryl seems to have a knack for melodic guitar hooks. Maybe light indie rock/pop isn’t my usual cup of tea, but on my way home from the first practice- and several weeks after, his songs were still stuck in my head, and I really didn’t mind.

You can find Daryl and his music at these places online:



The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome - Alex Mainy Main

With the resurgence of vinyl continuing unabated it has fallen to the Rolling Stones to release what may well come to be the modern day perfect album to come out on the format.

Not because it is the band going back to their roots and delivering blues classics, although that plays a part, but because it will degrade.
It will gather pops and hisses, little crackles, static will be attracted and dust will fall into the groove, and all of that will take nothing from the recordings and instead add to the experience of listening to it.
Give it six months of being spun, being taken to a friend’s gaff, for it to be played in the early ours when the party is winding down and ‘Blue & Lonesome will take on a unique and personal sound for everyone who owns a copy.
Forget the CD version.
It’s not going to do this.
On vinyl is where it is at.
And that’s not a claim coming from hipsterville.
It simply is what it is.

As for the music it sounds like they are returning to their first love and asking to be forgiven for wandering to far from them.
There’s no pretence at trying to fit in with current trends, no old uncle at the wedding trying to dance to the latest hits to impress the much younger bridesmaids, and just a comfortable here we are, and this is what we do, we play the blues.

And dang, they play it well.

Recorded in three days when they could snatch them between whatever it is the Stones do they have shown that striking when the iron is hot can often deliver returns that a year in the studio fretting over the tone of every chord often can’t.

There has been much talk of this being their swan song, and who knows if there is any truth to that, but if it is then they have just come full circle and finished on a high, and if not, then more of this please.