Sunday, 13 January 2008


Haven't you wanted or even craved an r&b night that plays sentimental glories like I Just Called To Say I Love You?

No? Well, then you just might really fall in love with Basics, a no-messin’-around club night that prides itself on its endearing nostalgia and scrupulous originality. With their golden years ranging from 1957 and 1963, Basics is outfitted with an Elvis microphone, an immense collection of old 45 singles and a sentiment that the show must be as authentic as possible."People say, ‘That's old music’,” resident Davie Hudson explains. “They say, ‘That's what your mum and dad would listen to'. No it's not. Playing this kind of stuff in 1960s America would have you hung up by a tree." The sound of Basics is a very danceable range of r&b, soul, and bluebeat with infusions of ska and Jamaican r&b. But it's not all the same tired tunes everyone has heard before. "We've taken it back to, not the songs we would have listened to in the early sixties, but the style we would have listened to," resident Hudson contends.

"We don't play what they call oldies as such, but a lot of the records we're playing, I've played them for the first time ever. Some are studio acetates that were cut in the studio with the artist that never actually got out on vinyl, and it's never been heard before until I've played it in Basics." What's more inspiring to Basics' devotees is that the DJs use not only just vinyl. It has to be the original vinyl. No reissues. No CDs. Like the never-played-before single If You Don't Come by Patience Valentine, a 25 pence B.B King find that everyone alleges is "really special" or Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog that was recorded three years before Elvis even heard it.

Hudson isn't the only man on board that is so sweet on his sounds. "We do bring in the best DJs the world has to offer for what we play. And if that means flying them in from Barcelona or New York, we have no problem doing that." The next Basics will feature Mikey Collins from Glasgow's Friday Street, Birmingham's Jodi Lamb and Neil Henderson from Manchester. Co-resident, Kev Conn will also take on the decks along with Hudson, who promises to be clad as a 1940s gangster: "We believe the DJ should be part of the show."

They're also taking the club away from its original venue, despite the allure of the Spider's Web's ancient decor that resonates the heart of what they represent. In search of later curfews and slightly 'cleaner' toilets, Basics' new home is Henry's Cellar Bar. The club makes its debut in the cellar this month and will return every three months in hopes that folks will make an event out of it. If the festive season allows them the proper license, it will be an r&b all-nighter on August 18th. Just don’t expect any sad-bastard, tacky crap.

As published in The Skinny

Grits-The Soul of Southern America

They were immortalised in American 70s sitcom, Alice, when a sassy waitress called Flo told someone in every episode to “Kiss My Grits.” Before Flo, no one really had ever heard of grits outside of the grits belt that stretches from Louisiana to the Carolinas. Even still, it remains so much a Southern tradition that many outsiders continue to ask, “What is a grit?”- to which any self-respecting Southerner replies, “There ain’t no such thing as A grit!”

Grits are stone-ground corn and, yes, always plural because they’re like sand. Added to boiling water, the textural result is a white, gritty and pasty substance comparable to porridge. Places like Timm’s Mill in Pendleton, South Carolina grind their corn kernels using a heavy stone that produces tiny granules of cornmeal and larger granules of glorious grits.

Grits have long been used as an inexpensive and simple breakfast staple best served with butter, salt and pepper. However in recent years, the South’s best kept secret has made its way to the kitchens of reputable chefs all over the States who have turned something palatable only to those who were brought up on it into a gourmet dish that is all dressed up and undeniably delicious to even the most stubborn of yankees.

Chef Steve Kish of 82 Queen in Charleston, South Carolina does my favourite version of Charleston’s most popular dish-shrimp and grits. Replacing water with heavy cream and lots of butter, they become more creamy (and dreamy) than gritty and it’s obvious why grits have also been dubbed as Georgia ice cream. Kish’s grits are to die for even before they’re topped with melted cheddar, crumbled applewood-smoked bacon and scallions. Finally, prawns bathed in a sweet, bourbon barbecue sauce will make you lick your lips and slap your mama for not thinkin’ of it first.

A self-respecting Southerner myself, I’ve just returned from there with a big ole bag of grits in tow that are a sure cure for homesickness. And even though mama taught me better, if anyone wants to me to share them...well they can kiss my grits, y’all!

As seen in Bite Magazine

The Twilight Sad @ Cabaret Voltaire 06 September 07

It’s a welcome wonder when relatively new local musicians start to suddenly cause a lot of noise. This particular band has already swept up devotions of indie ears all over America and the home crowds are taking notice too.

Like tonight… The Twilight Sad summons an audience that packs every nook and cranny of Cabaret Voltaire just as they did less than a month ago in Edinburgh at Bannerman’s frustratingly spaceless pub. Both venues are apparently too small to contain everyone who wants a glimpse of the savoury Scottish foursome before they really hit the big time, a hope that is rapidly multiplying. Agents are lining up to book them in and music journalists are practically handing out generous reviews (afraid this is no exception) of these boys as they carry their collective talents and influences to intriguing new places. That’s why these meager walls are crammed tonight, no one wants to be left behind. The capacity is also hardly enough for the overflowing clamour that envelops the wee cavernous den. With a singer who is unafraid to roll his Glaswegian r’s and a style that pays obvious homage to some of the 90s’ best moments (think My Bloody Valentine), TTS create a rapturous and deafening explosion of sound that shivers, silences and delights. It’s an intense experience and it’s an important one and everyone knows it. Not a head is left without a ringing and no one cares. It serves as not a nuisance but a reminder that TTS are really fucking good. No wonder the word is out. And if their fully booked 2007 calendar of gigs from Illinois to Oslo is any evidence, TTS will cause a commotion for quite a while yet.

Beirut@The Arches 7 November 07

For anyone that is fondly familiar with Zach Condon, there’s a height of anticipation before seeing this creature and his wondrous creations live.

Yes, hearing is essential too but to behold the young New Mexican marvel, to actually observe the octet of instrumentation and magic that make Beirut come alive is pretty exciting too. That’s why it’s a shame that this particular gig has to been seen behind an unforgiving view inside The Arches. Standing on tip-toes as the ground seemingly slopes back from the stage, it’s a struggle to only catch glimpses of brass and the tops of several gifted heads. Not ideal, it has to be said but nothing can be done. Oh well. Vision isn’t all that necessary to be enlightened of the undeniable symphonic glory that descends from the likes of an accordion, horns, piano and Condon’s voice, an impeccable instrument all its own. The music produced is reminiscent of exotic, dated and distant lands with stories to tell as an ancient photograph would do, and is a bewitching blend of the worlds he has seen and absorbed for the past five years. Only 21 years of age, Condon has a comfortingly old soul that emanates in his latest gem, The Flying Club Cup - follow-up to the highly adored Eastern Euro folk of Gulag Orkestar. The wistful, lovelorn woes of songs like ‘Nantes’ and ‘After the Curtain’ intertwine from both records all night before a tenderly ebullient conclusion with ‘Postcards from Italy’ and ‘A Sunday Smile’ as an encore. Now all that can be done is to be sure and take home one of those beautifully crafted (and covered) vinyls, clutching it with high hopes of what still remains to be seen.
As seen in Is This Music?

Saturday, 12 January 2008

BASICS@Henry's Cellar Bar 17 November 2007

It's almost 2008 but don't tell that to the crowd tonight at Henry's Cellar Bar, as Basics pays tribute to the fine times of original rhythm and blues.

Greaser boys with quiffs and suspenders and ladies with 60s dos and dresses decorate the small dancefloor with moves from an unforgotten era. The tunes here are like no other club around as residents Davie and Kev serve up a celebration of soul in its purest form - original tracks on first release vinyl. That said, the precision of sound is so remarkable that it's hard to believe that these obviously well-cared for records are over fifty years old. The sharpness of quality cannot be shaken, even through all the grooves, booze and boogie. A commendable show by all.

As seen in The Skinny