YORK promoter Joe Coates has lined up three more gigs in quick succession for his Please Please You nights in the City Screen Basement bar.
Mazes will play there on September 23, Magik Markers, Neuschlaufen and Mouth Water on September 24 and Tom Hickox the following evening, each show starting at 8pm.
The Mazes trio of Jack Cooper, guitar and vox, Conan Roberts, bass, and Neil Robinson, drums, are returning to The Basement next month to promote new album Wooden Aquarium in a season when they are playing the End Of The Road Festival, opening for Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks and appearing at the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia.
Completed in only two weeks between the sub-zero conditions of commuter-town Cornwall and the wintry heart of Brooklyn, New York, Wooden Aquarium contrasts with Mazes' past recording practices.
Debut album A Thousand Heys was made on a boat while Ores & Minerals was put together over numerous takes in Copper's bedroom and the back room of the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston, whereas the new album has been recorded live in studios and laid down entirely on to beautifully thick two-inch tape, the trio also enlisting the skills of Parquet Courts’ producer, Jonathan Schenke.
“The New York studio was completely isolated; an idyllic place to make a record," says Cooper.
"Green, remote, backwatery, fewer distractions, but things made a turn for the worse the night we arrived. Our van was broken into and gear stolen within an hour of being there. Then around three feet of snow fell overnight.
"We had to shovel our way to the studio every morning. It was interesting being snowed in; you get busy and knuckle down.”
Joined on the recordings by new friend Heather Strange, a vocalist they met in an New York City karaoke bar, Mazes created an album that takes the form of a series of vivid flashbacks to a particular moment in time.
“With this record, a lot more care has been taken over the lyrics and themes,” Cooper says.
“I've always looked back on my late teens as being idyllic, so that nostalgic hazy image of riding my bike around in the sun as a teenager, coupled with a new sense of optimism, mostly colours the record but there's still stuff on there I don't have a clue about.”
The new album and the experience of going to America to record it represents a roll of the dice, suggests Cooper.
"Its primary influence is how the three of us play. We’re not trying to do anything unnatural, just to be ourselves," he says. "It's the culmination of what we were trying to do with Ores & Minerals; the actual 'sound' of us is evolving and getting more idiosyncratic.”
September 24's American noise-rock headliners, Magik Markers, have clocked up nearly 50 releases in 14 years, a rapid rate of productivity that slowed down for their latest record, November 2013's Surrender To The Fantasy. Vocalist and guitarist Elisa Ambrogio, drummer Pete Nolan and new bassist John Shaw took a couple of years to write and record the album, working partly in Dinosaur Jr leader J Mascis's attic.
"The now trademark Velvet Underground/Sonic Youth-inspired aggression of their past remained in parts, but with a newly displayed melodic touch and even occasional delicacy," says Joe Coates.
"The record's a real success – musically! – and has inspired a return to the UK for the first time in years and luckily for us a show in York. This will be a very rare opportunity to catch a unique band at the height of their powers in a tiny room. We cannot wait."
Such is the attention surrounding Tom Hickox's debut album, War, Peace And Diplomacy, since its March release that the North London singer-songwriter in the retro suit already has appeared on BBC2's Later...With Jools Holland and his first British headline tour in May all but sold out.
Former biochemistry student Hickox is the son of a Grammy Award-winning conductor, Richard Hickox CBE, and an orchestral timpanist, but he knew from a young age that classical music would not be his destiny. Instead, in his own words, he is a "songwriter learning all the time".
Borrowing Richard Hawley's band for the recording sessions at co-producer Colin Elliot's Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield, Hickox favours stripped-back arrangements for his tales of a cast of intriguing characters. Among the nine songs, he sketches pictures of a forgotten war hero in The Lisbon Maru; a naïve young woman at the mercy of an acquisitive world in The Pretty Pride Of Russia, and a seemingly loving relationship with a dark undertow in Good Night.
A lost soul is at the heart of A Normal Boy; the chorus of Out Of The Warzone is augmented by a slide guitar solo from the aforementioned Mr Hawley, Hickox's long-term inspiration; and the record's timeless quality is summed up by the sorrowful cornet mantra of Let Me Be Your Lover. Timeless, yes, but Tom Hickox's time is now.
Tickets can be booked on 0871 902 5726 or at thebasementyork.co.uk