The Get Frank Podcast #2

I recently published the second of my Get Frank podcast series.

As I’ve moved to London, it’s taken a bit longer to get this episode out! I’m still learning, but I’m just starting on episode 3 now, which will feature an interview with Jon Melvin of The Union Choir (and I’m happy to report has far superior audio quality to the previous two interviews for the podcast as we managed to find a noise-free room!)

The current episode of the podcast features Matt and Matt of the wonderful Vets in Hong Kong. The London based trio defy expectations with their (mostly) acoustic lineup of instruments, creating brooding, occasionally violent sounding arrangements. Their recent self-titled EP features a mixture of DIY and studio produced recordings and is packed full of memorable melodies that are quite impossible to shake off. Live, the band’s sound comes alive with Matt Reay’s impressive percussion, which is a theatrically rhythmic sight to behold.

Podcast guests Vets in Hong Kong

Also featured on the podcast is the hotly tipped acoustic artist Daughter. Since moving to London I’ve started writing reviews for For Folk’s Sake and once of my first pieces was a review of Daughter’s new EP His Young Heart. I’m going to have to see her live soon as I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time.

There’s also ska-brilliance on the podcast, provided by Birmingham’s Glasto favourites 360, guitar packed epic-ness from North East group Holy Mammoth, a hauntingly beautiful new track from super-sized supergroup (and future guests) The Union Choir and a soothing acoustic tune to wrap things up nicely from Zygmunt Day.

Don’t forget, you can send in your own tracks for the podcast to frankiepromotes@gmail.com. Listen to the podcast here.

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The Velvet Choir

Next Friday (10th December) I’m playing a festive gig with The Union Choir at Newcastle’s Cluny.

It’s for NARC magazine‘s annual ‘Stars in their Eyes Xmas Party‘ event where a selection of North East acts perform three cover versions of songs by a band of their choice.

Anticipation for the event is high, with acoustic folkers Rainfalldown performing (sadly June Carter-less) as Johnny Cash (and band), post punk revivalists Cult Image as The Ramones, Holy Mammoth as Blink 182 and us, The Union Choir, as The Velvet Underground and Nico. Amazing Radio‘s Tom Cotton will also be DJ-ing… as himself.

Velvet dress by George @ Asda, £14

[Post bath I decided not to leave the house hence the absence of makeup/decent hair. I did try to make myself ‘decent’ by removing the red eye in this photo, but it’s left me looking even odder!]

With every gig comes the occasionally frantic question of what to wear. I’ve decided to take our incarnation as The Velvet Underground (and yes, technically I’m ‘Nico’) quite literally by wearing this velvet number by George @ Asda. I found it online and headed into the Heaton Asda Living store on a whim after snow rendered me unable to travel to Birmingham. I’d decided to get some bubble bath and have a sulky soak as i’d taken the day off work for my journey to the midlands, but then this dress was too tempting to resist trying… It was reduced from £24 to £14 and is a beautiful shape, texture and colour. It’s not too risque lengthwise (but has a slit at the front so could be if I’m not careful!) You can find it online here.

I haven’t accessorised fully in the photo but I’m wearing pearly mary jane style shoes (with a ribbon tie) and a charm bracelet pendant necklace that my dad got me as a graduation present. I’m also wearing a fake pearl headband by Accessorize but I think I’ll ‘toughen things up’ with my leather jacket, smokey eyes and loose hair for the gig itself.

Hope you can make it down!

And just when I thought I’d been waiting so long I’d become extinct…

… the first of the new recordings from Newcastle based four piece Holy Mammoth arrived!

And suddenly my day became very good indeed!

The occasionally lovely* boys from Holy Mammoth sent me over their new track Years complete with embedded artwork of the boys (it’s a individual portraits of all of them, which is a rather unexpected coup).

It’s not just because I’m lazy and hankering for my duvet, but also because I want you to make up your own mind about the track that I won’t say much about it, other than YOU NEED IT. Luckily YOU CAN GET IT by emailing h.mammoth@gmail.com (useful that).

I think I’m particularly enamoured with the track because I listening to it virtually on repeat whilst kneading the dough that was to become the loaf of olive bread pictured below. (I couldn’t actually change the song because I had sticky, doughy hands but I think it’s testament to the track that I fisted, slapped and banged my prospective bun in time to Mark Atwill’s drums without tiring of the bright, well worked guitars and enigmatic vocals).

Holy Mammoth... a good band to make bread to

If you ask the band nicely enough, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to send you over singer/guitarist Andrew Davey’s lyrics too. There’s a couple of songs in the Mammoth songbook that seemingly deliberate origins and indentity (such as personal favourite Suggester) and this is one of them. It makes a refreshing change to hear a song that can say what it wants to say with little words and a lot of musicality. I like it very much.

It seems that Holy Mammoth have also found themselves a ‘tribute act’ in the form of surreal kidnap victims Hurly Mammith. I’m not sure if this band is incredibly ugly or simply not human, but the above video suggests that wicked scientists have thrown Holy Mammoth, Fang Island and an Asda carrier bag into a blender and come out with something miraculous sounding (rather like I ‘threw together’ the following berlotti bean chilli at the weekend).

Berlotti bean chilli (it took it three point five billion years...)

So anyway, enough about my culinary achievements… you should really send that email now. (Then you should tell the world/tweet/facebook/blog about it, because it’s free and all that.)

*Will be lovely on a full time basis once they make me soup. Or cheesecake. I’m not particularly fussed either way.


We gave you. All of our. Time.

Hello darlings, Frankie Ward here having a relaxing night in!

Although do bare in mind that relaxing for me tends to mean writing for you! (Aren’t you the lucky ones?)

Ahem! Forgive my seemingly arrogant words – I’m just in a jolly mood. My laugh has got a lot louder recently (I think it must be my new beanbag!)

So you’re reading this because of the gig I went to yesterday? Or because you’d like a sneaky peek at me attempting to take pictures of myself?

If you’re looking for the former, then you’re in luck! Last night I popped down to the Cluny 2 to see American happy rockers Fang Island play alongside local acts Holy Mammoth and Cult Image.

I’d seen Cult Image play a mere matter of days before this gig so I knew to expect Joy Division-esque post punk songs of insightful words and intricate guitar melodies. Once again, I was not disappointed. The band were reliably on form, with the venue providing better acoustics for singer Sean’s voice over Newcastle’s Discovery Museum (the site of their last live appearance.) I especially like Sean’s voice. It’s deep and edgy, but doesn’t lack warmth (despite the dark stylings of his songs.)

At Generator‘s NEw Wave Transmission event one panelist remarked that the band needed to write their own ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Now I could imagine that the band would work with some keys (adding some brighter tones to the guitar/bass/drums/lone vocals mix) but surely that would be too derivative of the band’s clear influences. It might be controversial to say, but maybe the restrained occasional backing vocals and even a melodica part might make things really stand out… (I say melodica because Gorillaz used it to such effect on Clint Eastwood, and I wonder if it’s potential for creepy tones could work for the band’s music.)

At the same time, I don’t really want you to change Cult Image, because I really like you!

Before the gig kicked off I chatted to some of the guys from second act Holy Mammoth. They briefly mentioned concern about how their soundcheck went, but any issues were clearly resolved by the time the band took to the stage. Holy Mammoth are one of those bands who grow with every performance. There’s a sense of unity between band members that can be rare on the live circuit and it makes for compelling viewing.

And that’s before you get to the songs!

One of the things I really appreciated about last night’s gig was that for once, singer Andy’s vocals were clearly distinguishable above the well mixed instruments. Perhaps it’s because I know and appreciate the songs, but I can now seemingly nod every kick drum inflection, wiggle my fingers along to the guitar hooks and nod my head to the driving bass lines of set favourites such as Suggester and Weathered.

The band had to cut things off a disappointingly two songs early (I estimate) due to technical issues with a guitar, but it was a sterling performance all the same. If it weren’t for the burgeoning desire to see Brooklyn’s Fang Island, I could happily have watched the Mammoth boys for a lot longer.

Fang Island hit the stage complete with flamboyant outfits (colourful, oversized hoodies), cleverly coordinated, contrapuntal guitar melodies and an absolute lust for life on the stage. Infectious, joyful and spontaneous, the five piece were an absolute,(exhausting), delight to watch. They don’t call them ‘explosive happiness’ without reason!

I’m having an early night now! But I’ll be returning to the Cluny 2 tomorrow to see The Winter Hill Transmission supporting Elliot Brood.

Hairy times for Holy Mammoth

I had a little spare time before going out to tonight’s Cult Image, Holy Mammoth and Fang Island gig so I got a little silly with my Macbook camera

Tee by Urban Outfitters, skirt by Zara, tights by Topshop, shoes by New Look, belt by Primark

Trying to get the shoes into shot...

Hair flower by Accessorize

Hair; a product of genetics and a bit o' serum

I really need a camera, some ‘this season’ clothes and some sense of dignity.

I also need these shoes in a size smaller as I can’t wear them without tripling up socks – so I won’t be wearing them tonight I don’t think… boo.

Although I could layer up the trainer socks and hope no one notices…. I’ve done that with my ballroom shoes before… except the judges weren’t so impressed!

See you there.


Transmission – Ready to take off!

In my previous post I talked about some of the bands who were about to play this weekend’s Transmission events.

Unfortunately I lack a camera so have no pics of my own, but head to Jazzy Lemon’s Flickr photostream to check out some amazing shots of Tom Robinson rocking out with The Union Choir and Brilliant Mind. Here’s one of me and fellow Amazing Radio broadcaster, Tom Cotton watching the spell binding Nadine Shah.

All eleven acts I saw (completely free courtesy of the wonderful guys and girls at Generator) were on fabulous form. I particularly enjoyed cardigan clad post punk rockers Cult Image, blossoming math rock act Toyger (as in ‘Toight like a…”) Vinyl Jacket turned in a tight performance of fantastic calypso pop tracks with fantastic energy and boundless charisma. What was even more shocking was the revelation that temporary guitarist Stuart (of interesting indie band Grandfather Birds) had only been playing with the band for a couple of weeks due to the normal guitarist’s incapacitated wrist!

There are two wagons in particular that I reckon you need to jump onto as soon as possible.

The first is that of solo artist Nadine Shah. Unafraid to plough through her songs with the emotional intensity of the ‘first play’, she transfixed the audience with her ability to command the room with just her stunning, full bodied voice and a keyboard. Her track ‘The Duke’ is currently on rotation in my head. She’s been working with top producers in London, so I’m looking forward to hearing the results. Shah is going on an O2 Academy tour with Shakespeare’s Sister very soon so I’d recommend going just to see her! She is going to be big news very, very soon.

The second band that entirely enthralled me was Chased by Wolves. Their set was packed full of sexy, edgy, bluesy numbers with singer Emma Siobhan Williams’ voice adding real colour to the set. Fellow vocalist Richard Smith’s voice provided a perfect contrast as well as extra power. James Brown on bass was a particular delight and completely addictive to watch – his five string bass was grooved and thrown around the stage, as if the instrument was playing the player.

Congratulations to all the acts, a huge thanks to Generator for throwing the ambitious events, and to Tom Robinson for being ‘glad to be gay’ (joyous.)

Tomorrow (Monday 6th September) I’ll be off to see Holy Mammoth support Fang Island at The Cluny 2, and on Wednesday I’ll return to the same venue to check out The Winter Hill Transmission play alongside Elliot Brood.

You need this unsigned music in your life…

As all of the acts featured on this post are unsigned, their recordings vary in quality. Therefore get ye to one of their gigs before you make a decision on whether you’d buy a properly produced LP. I’ve always felt very passionately about giving acts a chance in a live environment, as it tends to be more of a testament to their songs and musicianship. For example, many can get access to Garage Band, but not everyone has the money for Logic. When I watch a musician play their own music I know fairly early on into their set if I want to invest in their songs. I also feel cheated when I’ve heard a fabulously produced record, but been spectacularly disappointed with the act onstage. The only type of music I can think of that is not intended for live performance tends to be found in a lift, and last thing I heard, ‘elevator music’ was hardly up there with the greats…

So here are some acts I recommend investing in tickets and travel for. (By all means listen to their demos, but please don’t think of them as the finished product):

Jake Flowers – Bluesy, beautiful, delicate finger spun melodies with understated, sultry vocals courtesy of Shropshire born Flowers. Drums and bass give a welcome added kick whilst lyrics are effortlessly fascinating. Utterly charming, scarily talented.

If you like… Ryan Adams, Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, Mumford and Sons …you’ll love this!

Brilliant Mind – Newcastle bunch who blast out Johnny Marr inflected guitar riffs combined with self depreciating Morrissey-style lyrics without turning into a Smiths pastiche (although I just made them sound like one.) Features divine contrapuntal layers of guitar and organ melodies. Incredibly charismatic as a live act.

If you like… The Smiths, Young Knives …You’ll love this!

Ever Since the Lake Caught Fire – Newcastle rock orchestra with trumpets, occasional female guest vocals, splatterings of saxophone and lashings of indie pop goodness. A force to be reckoned with when live and always a joy to behold.

If you like… The Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Modest Mouse …You’ll love this!

Holy Mammoth Amazing Radio DJ Tom Cotton’s third favourite band (after Radiohead and The National.) A live act that bursts with onstage chemistry developed from years of friendship and experience from touring under different monikers.

If you like… GOOD MUSIC …You’ll love this!