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Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Bad Seed

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Skeleton TreeIt will cause no great controversy if I say that Nick Cave has been writing about love and death for most of his career. If The Birthday Party were the gleeful rictus grin of the Grim Reaper, then later work with the Bad Seeds saw him embrace grief as a response, rather than savage laughter.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor (live at The Coronet)

London 18 August 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor live August 2016 -2In a converted cinema in Elephant and Castle, protected from the outside world by the most stringent security this side of an airport, post-rock revolutionaries Godspeed You! Black Emperor are taking the stage. In darkness, of course, as is their wont.

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Asschapel – Total Destruction (1999-2006)

Southern Lord

Asschapel - Total Destruction“Goooing to the chapel and we’re… gooonna get- wait, we’re gonna get WHAT???”

Asschapel. They’re called Asschapel. Which is the best name for a band ever. And Southern Lord have just reissued their entire back catalogue. And, as befitting a band called Asschapel and a label with the rep of Southern Lord, it’s heavy as fuck.

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Lake Ruth – Actual Entity

The Great Pop Supplement

Lake Ruth - Actual EntityFormed by members of Holy Fuck, The New Lines and The Eighteenth Day Of May, Lake Ruth offer a disarming take on psychedelic indie pop with their début album Actual Entity. It’s a charming glimpse into a world of magic and wonder, although of course not one without its own darkness. Because otherwise pop music just doesn’t tend to work, and this manifestly does.

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Fields Of The Nephilim / The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (live at The Forum: summer solstice 2016)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer Solstice

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer SolsticeLondon 20 June 2016

Over a quarter of a century ago, when I was much younger and prettier, I moved to London. The first weekend I was here I went to see Fields Of The Nephilim, who had just released the prog-goth epic Elizium. The support were a band called Creaming Jesus, a wickedly funny goth/metal band fronted by a dude with a world-class glare and a serious grudge against mike stands.

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Swans – The Glowing Man

Young God (North America) / Mute (Rest of the world)

Swans - The Glowing ManThe Glowing Man marks the culmination of what frontman Michael Gira calls “the current phase” of Swans, and is the fourth album by the current twenty-first century line-up which has been delivering uncompromising beauty and brutality since 2010’s My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky. It shares with that album a returned fascination with traditional song forms, though for the most part these are buried within the epic abstractions of sound that characterised the intervening albums The Seer and To Be Kind. Taken as a whole, the four form a unique and wonderful ten or so hours of music; which would probably kill you if ingested all at

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Little Annie (live at Café OTO)

London 20 May 2016

Little Annie live at Café OTO May 2016Tonight, Matthew, Café OTO will be a smoky jazz club, only without the smoke due to it being 2016. It’s Ellroy for vapers, a healthier Lynch movie. Because tonight Little Annie is here delivering the latest instalment of her nearly forty-year career of eclectic awesomeness, on the back of her wonderful new album Trace. Accompanied by double-bass, understated drums, piano and sax, she takes the stage shrouded in a bright neon yellow scarf, and it’s this combination of the shrouding and the vivid colours that’s to typify the evening’s entertainment.

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Desertfest London 2016

London 29 April – 1 May 2016

Oranssi Pazuzu live at Desertfest 2016 (Picture: Richie Ruchpaul)Desertfest is the place where the stoned immaculate of Britain (and several other countries) meet in one of London’s coolest areas, watch some of the heaviest (and out there) bands over a three day period in five different venues.

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Michael Gira / Thurston Moore / Laura Cannell (live at Saisonscape)

The Barbican, London 30 March 2016

Saisonscape March 2016Spring is sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder what this thing at The Barbican is? Well wonder no more; it’s called Saisonscape, and it’s a series of concerts which have been organised by Art Assembly‘s Julia Dempsey to celebrate the idea of growth, renewal and the creation of new life in an artistic context. That all sounds quite heavy, but for tonight’s concert she’s chosen musicians who play set pieces but allow themselves room for improvisation to illustrate the theme.

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Enslaved / Skuggsja / Wardruna (live at By Norse)

Wardruna live at By Norse 2016The Coronet, London 19 March 2016

Saturday night in Elephant and Castle and the queue is round the block. Almost literally. Due to the sad state of the beloved Shepherds Bush Empire, tonight’s entry in the mythic By Norse canon has been shifted to The Coronet, a converted cinema and nightclub whose security conditions for entry are of the stringent type that works just fine if you’re a club and people are showing up five or six at a time, but tends to grind to a (really fucking cold) halt if you’re putting on a gig and the whole crowd have shown up at once.

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Savages / Bo Ningen (live at The Roundhouse)

London 17 March 2016

St Patrick’s Day in chilly London, and I’ve opted out of going out drinking in pubs filled with (mainly English) people wearing green hats and pretending they always liked Guinness in favour of going to see some rock’n’roll, in the alarmingly hipsterised Roundhouse (a craft ale stall? Bar snacks ranging from “nuts” and “crisps” to “bags of meat”? Crikey), because the mighty Savages are playing, supported by the equally mighty Bo Ningen. Which is quite a line-up, though hardly a surprising one, the two bands being long(ish)-standing friends and collaborators.

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White Hills / Teeth Of The Sea (live at The Lexington)

London 13 March 2016

Sunday night on Pentonville Road, and The Lexington is rammed. At first it’s hard to tell who’s here for the bands and who’s just here for a pint, but then the first act take the stage upstairs and people flood upwards. And it’s not hard to tell WHY they’re here for the bands — as Teeth Of The Sea fiddle around with their eclectic and quite frankly bizarre selection of instruments and boxes, including a bass guitar with a Throbbing Gristle sticker affixed.

Teeth Of The Sea live March 2016

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The Pop Group – For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?

Freaks R Us

The Pop Group - For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?The Pop Group‘s reissue project continues apace with the release of their classic 1980 LP For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? This, their second studio album (and their last for 35 years) saw their overt politicisation, as the title will attest. To the cynical and jaded ears of someone coming to this in 2016, like me for example, there’s an endearing, almost naïve quality to their sloganeering, as with a lot of ’80s agit-pop; but as punk had already proved, that need be no barrier to either artistic success or good songwriting.

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Mugstar / Henge (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Electrowerkz, London 26 February 2016

Visiting London’s Electrowerkz in 2016 after spending far too many nights here at the legendary Slimelight in the ’90s is a singularly disorienting experience. It’s the same building, but where once there stood a dingy warehouse now stands an actual venue, even though they’re the same bricks in the same places. Indeed, it’s so disorienting that we may as well be on all the drugs we were twenty-odd years ago, though these days there’s an actual bar and we stick to booze, being old.Henge live at Baba Yaga's Hut February 2016

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The Bolshoi – 5 Albums

The Arkive

The Bolshoi - 5 AlbumsMany years ago, I was all about The Bolshoi. Tipped-off by a friend at sixth form college, I borrowed their album Friends from the local tape library (for the benefit of our younger readers, tape libraries used to be a thing back in ancient history. As, of course, did tapes. And libraries.) and instantly fell in love with its marriage of goth-inflected cynicism and massively catchy tunes. For a while back there it was up there with The The‘s Soul Mining and the Sisters Of Mercy‘s First And Last And Always as my favourite album.

When I left home and hit the big city, I managed to track down their first mini-album, Giants, and was blown “clean away” (as it

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