Star Botherers are Happy and Angry with a new album!

I’ve been looking forward to Star Botherers releasing their album ever since it was announced it was in progress – and by gosh it doesn’t disappoint.  I think all but one of the generous fourteen songs on here I’ve heard performed live, and there’s a fair few that have appeared on EPs released before.  But these familiar friends have been lovingly caressed and enhanced in the studio so even these songs you think you’ve heard before take on new and interesting dimensions without losing their charm.

The once semi-novelty duo – mixing in originals, cover versions and games of bingo into chaotic sets, have been slowly but surely building their portfolio of songs and once you see them laid out here you realise it’s quite an impressive canon.  They’ve managed to retain their fun and irreverence whilst adding layers and sublime production.  Brad has of course joined often on stage to add more intricate percussion, and we’ve seen both Joel and Ellis add extra stringy things of late – and the album is full of this.

Joel too has been responsible for all the technical wizardry in mixing and mastering the now more complicated audio channels – we know from Black Thorn’s album how adept he is at this, and this will sit alongside that as a fine testament to his technical skill.  This really is an album to be proud of – the songs rollercoaster you from amusement, nostalgia, cutting political observations, meloncholy and at times downright hilarity.  Bart is a very clever lyricist and he’s assembled an expert team to augment his guitar in accompanying the words.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd November 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos

Two birds with one stone..

20067f_038aaef7b23f4b57b76730111c05ab8dIt was a lovely surprise to get a Facebook message from Pete Jackson asking for my address to send an album to.  I’ve still not quite gotten used to that!  I first saw him perform at a Dogfest I think ages ago, the last time was at Bostin’ Days.  Mostly I’ve seen him with his acoustic guitar belting out Levellers songs – which I certainly have no objection to, but it’s exciting to get to hear someone’s own creations.

Upon picking up Two Birds I had a peruse of the track listing and credits – there’s a full band on here, Pete does the vocals, guitars and mandolin – but he’s backed up by Jamie Lynch on bass, Stuart Robson on drums, Lynn Holt on flute and whistle and James Bennett on keyboards.  The prospect of a full band sound is exciting – his collaboration with Lynn on the Bostin’ Days CD for The Road is one of the highlights on a universally strong collection of Levellers covers.

Distortion and a pitch-change kicks off Come What May – dispassionate lyrics over acoustic guitar talk of drudgery and impatience, before the chorus introduces energetic electric guitar riffs and empassioned vocals – and there’s a killer guitar solo thrown into the mix too.  Everywhere starts gently speaking of the horrors of what might be in store once the alarm clock rings, there’s clever pace changes as the full band kicks in – harmonised vocals, and anxiety-drenched lyrics.

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Freeborn Al / 11th June 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

2015 – The year of the Dog..

12347814_10153863571453060_2422930688827816042_nOkay, so Ferocious Dog have been around a little longer – but this last year has felt rather like a landmark.  And not just because back in February it’s when Ferocious Blog was born, ha!  The lead up to a new year is traditionally a time for reflecting back on the year just gone and looking forward to the next one, so I figured it’d be nice to trawl back through the months and pull out a highlight or two for each month of 2015, it will be tough to pick just one or two so feel free to chip in your own in the comments – despite my best efforts I didn’t quite make it to every Ferocious Dog gig in the year!

January 2015 – a light month, Ferocious Blog was yet to be created (although it had been an idea kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years).  Checking my calendar and personal blog doesn’t reveal much at all in the way of Ferocious Dog activity – we’d have been still basking in the warm glow of Dogfest back in December – I latterly discovered that a 3 Piece Acoustic performance took place in honour of Ella’s 21st birthday in this month, but alas I didn’t know Snotty at this juncture!

IMG_9188_gFebruary 2015the blog is born after an acoustic appearance by Ken and Dan at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Seldom has one of Sam’s nights had such a huge crowd packed in.  The demand for the event was the perfect excuse to arrive early and chat nonsense with friends for the afternoon.  An afternoon of drinking had taken its toll on Dean who for the first time decreed I needed to get up and surf in his place – a great way to start what became a year of extreme ‘dogging’.  These smaller intimate gigs are as enjoyable for me as the bigger and bolder shows that are to follow.  We were first introduced to Scott at this appearance too.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Let’s get Maelor’s album made!

12080282_1244148232277896_7194219522662493697_oI am a fan of crowd funding full stop – I’ve backed a few projects over the last few years since it became a thing online, some have been awesome, a couple have proven a bit disappointing, one or two ended up with refunds as they didn’t come to fruition, nearly all of them have been wildly optimistic with their delivery dates!

It’s a bit of a gamble, but it gives the creator of the product a bit of cash up front to be able to get their project underway and fulfilled.  Of course, more recently Ferocious Dog used this mechanism for their latest album and indeed the live CD/DVD recordings at Rock City.

For an artist operating outside the mechanism of a record label who can front cash for recordings, pressings and printing then for me it’s the future of independent music releases.  So it’s in that vein that Maelor Hughes is finally mobilising to get a long overdue album sorted – and he’s reaching out to fans to help him with finding the cash to get it sorted – there’s a number of levels of backing you can give him in exchange for different rewards – which I’m quite excited about – I’ve got a few disparate EP releases from Maelor but it’ll be good to get an album.

On that note – he recently put out a new three track EP called Maybe Over Time which you can get a download of for the princely sum of just £3 – that’d be a good starting point.  Then check out the crowdfunding campaign and see if you fancy getting involved.  Those of you who’ve followed Ferocious Dog for a while are highly likely to have had the pleasure of seeing Maelor supporting them so you’ll know what an ace songwriter and performer he is – those of you that haven’t, hit YouTube!

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Freeborn Al / 28th December 2015 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Weston-Super-Stars..

IMG_2151The day for us started in Doncaster post-Levelling.  We’d arranged to meet Becky, Pete and Rachel in a Toby Carvery for a spot of all you can eat breakfast.  Unfortunately we hadn’t clarified brilliantly which one, so the Hotel Campanile crew all piled into the wrong one – a quick google later we’d located the right one and headed there for a plate full of greasy goodness to stave off potential hangovers.  It was a nice way to start the day off reminiscing over a great evening, not least updating the non-Campanile folk of cheese-party disclosures.

Best still, as a potential neat sideline for the MeadEvil bar, Pete had been sourcing some drinking horns – after expressing my excitement about owning such a vessel they very kindly gifted one to me.  So that shall be making plenty of appearances at festivals next year – mmm, meeeead!  I just need some kind of holster for it, or maybe my Dogfest lanyard thing will do the job! Perhaps I should’ve thought a bit more about the photo I posted on Facebook that John must’ve spent all of five minutes gleefully ‘adjusting’ with, well, I was going to say Photoshop but I think it might’ve been MS Paint – haha!  I’ve not used that picture in here!

IMG_2150Then for Ella and I it was time for goodbyes and hitting the road to Weston-Super-Mare via Donny station where Andrea joined our merry road trip to go to The Leylines christmas party.  We had a pretty clear run all the way down, arriving at the windswept town with plenty of time to get checked in.  Andrea’s hotel had free parking so we used that – she checked in to Room 101 initially, but swapped it for one with a sea view, in the meantime we were just round the corner in a different hotel which was pretty comfortable too!

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Freeborn Al / 6th December 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

From Without – it’s finally here!

IMG_0447Facebook has been awash with excited people receiving packages through the post after the Herculean efforts of Gibbo and Hannah in getting everyone’s album packaged and mailed over the weekend.  Despite basically having it already, it was still a bit galling to be stuck at the office periodically spotting a series of delighted people  posting photos and their initial thoughts – all of which have been positive so far (not that I ever doubted it).  I’ve skirted around writing about the album tracks a few times, but now it’s ‘in the wild’ I can do so unabashed at spoiling anything too much.

Biased though I undoubtedly am, I love everything about it – the imagery, the packaging, the slight imperfection in that the lyrics for Gallows Justice are missing from the sleeve notes (Waggy has posted the page online should any perfectionists wish to download them), the signatures, the fact my name is in it, and of course the songs themselves.  The songs, they’re unmistakably Ferocious Dog, they are a mixture of biting political observation, historical accounts, a traditional re-imagining and a love ballad gone sour.

They are unmistakably Ferocious Dog, but they chart some evolution too.  What more could you want?  I described it earlier on Facebook as a plateau of an album rather than a roller-coaster – whilst there’s variation of paces and styles there’s no let up in quality, it peaks early and stays there – I do genuinely love it.  Even though I heard it a lot I still played it all the way home from work, playing pretend that I’d been in in time for the Postman to deliver it to me.

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Freeborn Al / 5th October 2015 / Band, Music / 0 Comments

The waiting is almost over..

IMG_0447.. and boy are you going to think it’s worth it.  From Without has been mastered, and is going into production ready to be sent out to the good folks who made it a possibility by paying up front for it.   Back in April I wrote a review based on some of the rough-cut tracks I’d been privy to, subsequently I’ve been lucky enough to hear a number of the iterations of mixing that occurred and finally the mastered full album this evening.  And wow, what a treat.  I’m not sure if posting this is torturing folk who’ve waited or help with anticipation.

In the recent radio interview Ken talked about From Without and how it was inspired by Karl Marx.  More specifically the inference that revolution can’t be triggered solely by the proletariat but would need help from without their ranks.  Of course all the speculation and misinterpretations were fun – but undoubtedly this is an album that has a strong political underpinning almost throughout – be it contemporary or historical – there’s anger and cutting observation.

Whether it be what sounds like a summary of Iain Duncan-Smith’s assault on the disabled and the farce of the bedroom tax in Living on Thin Air (this is the track, you’ll remember, that was co-written with Nick Burbridge), historical accounts like Ruby Bridges, Crime and Punishment and more recent history in the form of Marikana Massacre or the hauntingly sad-yet-beautiful Slow Motion Suicide charting the demise of a jobless miner in the wake of the pits being closed – there’s clear messages of the disenfranchised ringing through the opening nine tracks of the album.

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Freeborn Al / 1st September 2015 / Band, Music, Photos / 0 Comments