Hello October. The month where we (well, I) reluctantly dust off the big coat, resign ourselves to the nights drawing in and savour the first faint whiffs of gunpowder in the air. Fortunately, to keep us warm we’ve got an especially bumper crop of fantastic new North East music sidling out of the shadows in a late bid to find accommodating ears before December’s list-making silly season turns otherwise rational music fans into anal loons obsessed with ranking the unrankable.
Coming up this weekend (October 5-7), Tusk Festival returns for its second installment. This time the event is taking place almost entirely at the Star and Shadow, which is as perfect a marriage of venue and event as there ever was. It’s highly encouraging that the organisers can continue to make this thing work, especially when you consider that they’re shipping artists in from all manner of global outposts and charging a mere £35 for weekend tickets. Apparently there’s not many tickets left, so there’s every chance that by the time you read this the event will have sold out, but I’d be pretty surprised if most Tusk attendees hadn’t had their tickets for months anyway. This year’s line-up includes performances from the likes of Pelt, Cian Nugent, Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides and The Unit Ama. There’s also a few really interesting looking workshops taking place too, like Tom Bugs’ synth-building workshop and Cath and Phil Tyler’s Sacred Harp Singing session at The Cumberland Arms. Full details of the chocker weekend and any remaining tickets can be found at tuskfestival.com/.
As well as Tusk, there’s a pocket-worrying array of other shows to pick from in October and November, the pick of which are the following:
Thursday 11th October: Johnny Foreigner, Playlounge (The Fishtank, Durham)
Thursday 11th October: Palma Violets (Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough)
Friday 12th October: Errors, Dam Mantle (Hoults Yard, Newcastle)
Sunday 14th October: Bridie Jackson and the Arbour (Maltings Arts Centre, Berwick)
Tuesday 16th October: I Like Trains, Young Liar (The Cluny, Newcastle)
Tuesday 16th October: Tall Ships, Dad Rocks (The Keys, Middlesbrough)
Wednesday 17th October: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (The Empire, Middlesbrough)
Thursday 18th October: Bear Cavalry, Blank Maps, Future Horizons (The Studio, Hartlepool)
Friday 19th October: Ian McCulloch (Arc, Stockton)
Saturday 20th October: The Cornshed Sisters, The Bluebuds, The Lindsay Tin, Dressed Like Wolves (The Green Room, Stockton)
Tuesday 23rd October: Efterklang + Northern Sinfonia, John Grant (The Sage, Gateshead)
Friday 26th October: Blacklisters, We Are Knuckle Dragger, Bison Hunting (The Cluny 2, Newcastle)
Friday 26th October: Natasha Haws, The Railway Club, Lilliput (The Customs House, South Shields)
Friday 26th October: Rolo Tomassi (The Empire, Middlesbrough)
Sunday 28th October: This Town Needs Guns, Arcs and Trauma (The Studio, Hartlepool)
Thursday 1st November: Spiritualized (The Sage, Gateshead)
Thursday 1st November: Minotaurs, The Lake Poets (The Cluny, Newcastle)
Friday 2nd November: Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles, By Toutatis, Hannah D’Arcy (The Head of Steam, Newcastle)
Friday 2nd November: Field Music, Warm Digits, John Egdell (The Cluny, Newcastle)
Friday 2nd November: Abacus Post 1st Birthday party: The Lake Poets, Crooked Hands, Joe Banfi (The Little Room, Independent, Sunderland)
Saturday 3rd November: The Futureheads, Young Liar (The Cluny, Newcastle)
Saturday 3rd November: Maximo Park (O2 Academy, Newcastle)
Friday 9th November: Natasha Haws, Lucas Renney, Let’s Away (Lit & Phil, Newcastle)
Monday 12th November: The Bronx (The Empire, Middlesbrough)
Friday 16th November: O’Messy Life, The Hundredth Anniversary, Tusk (The Cluny 2, Newcastle)
Saturday 17th November: Richard Dawson (The Old Cinema Launderette, Durham)
Tuesday 20th November: Patrick Wolf, Abi Wade (The Sage, Gateshead)
Friday 23rd November: Lone Wolf’s Comeback show, bands tba (The Little Room, Independent, Sunderland).
If you’ve got any money left from the brilliant gigs, there’s a vast selection of great records due out over the next two months. First up, we’ve got the first release by Indian Summer. It’s the new project of Richard Smith, following on from Sunderland’s dear departed Chased by Wolves (RIP), and it’s absolutely beautiful. There’ll be an EP released digitally on October 31st, and if the rest of it is as lush as Wishing Well, then the future looks pretty sweet for Smith.
I covered the last Prison Library single ‘Liars’ last time out, and hot on its heels comes follow up ‘Lovesick’, out on November 12th. Produced by Mick Ross (more on him later) Lovesick is a much sweeter proposition than the last single, which has at least a little to do with the vocal presence of Let’s Buy Happiness singer Sarah Hall.
Teessiders By Toutatis seem to be gaining a bit of momentum lately, which is nice to see, because they’re a pretty unique band. Joyously out of step with anyone else playing in the North East of England at the moment, their music is the kind of bombastic olde-worlde folk similar to what The Decemberists used to make. ‘Hero and Leander’ actually came out in August, but it’s too good to overlook.
Cottage Industries have been a bit quiet since the last Union Choir single at the start of the year, but with future releases from Symphonic Pictures, Minotaurs and Agerskow mooted, it looks like they’re clunking back into gear, which is pretty great. Before that, though, they’ve got two brilliant records in the shape of Here Comes Good Sailing’s beautifully warm debut EP and (We Will Become) Ghosts in the Photograph by Soundtracks (For a B-Movie). The Soundtracks EP sees Mick Ross somehow finding time between his adventures with Frankie & The Heartstrings, Minotaurs and his production duties to craft a stunningly expansive, rich set of instrumentals.
Lionhall are a new name on my radar as of the last month or so, but they’re a very impressive prospect. The two-piece originated in Scotland, but fortunately have subsequently found their way down to the North East.. There’s a touch of the XX in the vocal interplay on Catch a Light, via the creepy broken machine soundscapes of fellow Scots Conquering Animal Sound. I look forward to seeing them live at some point.
Parastatic release their debut album Lost Highway on 104 Records in October. It’s also the label’s inaugural release, presented in the form of a limited run of white vinyl. It’s really nice stuff too, not a million miles away from my beloved Warm Digits in the sense that you can very easily find yourself lost in its spacey groove.
Lovely Mackems Lilliput took a trip to Liverpool recently to record a live video for Little Wanderer, although it’s so slickly presented that it’s hard to believe it’s been recorded live. The opening of the song is a gorgeous bit of pastoral folk before it bursts into life around the midpoint.
I’ll finish off this bumper round-up with a song from the brilliant Nadine Shah. She’s been quiet since the Ajimal single launch in March, but she’s been putting the time to good use recording the Aching Bones EP, which sees the light of day on November 19th. The title track is a pretty chilling piece of work, all creepy percussion and menacing cooing. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the EP. Keep your eye on this one, because I can see 2013 being a big year for her.
This was the last round-up of new stuff for 2012, because the final installment of the year (which will glide into your browser window in early December) will be a round up of the best things that have happened in North East music this year. Why don’t you tell me what your highlights have been?