Thursday, 31 May 2012

Years Away - New Music "Introducing"

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One thing pretty much everyone is agreement in, Sweden know how to do pop better than just about anyone. From Abba to Robyn, Lykke Li to The Cardigans, the Scandinavian countries influences has swept through the planet, in more recent times Swedes have increasingly become renowned for electronic music too, with The Knife and more recently Jonna Lee's infamous Iamamiwhoami (oh and of course Eurovision winner Loreen!) taking acclaim for critics and fans alike.

On Tuesday a new hat was thrown into the ring, Years Away (Stockholm duo Anna Berglund & Simon Eriksson), whose initial two tracks are as strong as any I've heard in a long time. "Starting Fires" is an incredible debut, a classy pure pop treat, beautiful, bright keys shine amongst subtle beats and to-die-for vocals, delicate and ethereal, sumptuous and uplifting, "Starting Fires" deserves to be heading to radio-waves around the world.

The slightly more electro-pop "Eraserhead" impresses too, edgier, retro synths provide the electronic heart-beat of the track with afro-beat rhythms and Anna's emotive, intimate vocals literally melting your heart along the way, the sweet, pulsating track is vibrant, soothing and always quite gorgeous.

Quite the start then. Listen below:

Dark Horses - New Music "Introducing"

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Sometimes I get put off listening to bands because of the initial judgement I make on them, quite often when you remove the blinkers those predetermined reasons turn out completely wrong, Dark Horses were one such instance...

Their press release states a support slot with Kasabian (don't get me wrong, I liked Club Foot as much as many others back in 2005, but this is 2012), I was expecting a Kasabian-clone, swaggering lad-rock that has been heard time and time again and surely by now is ready to be consigned to history, but, as I've already said, stereotypes and generalisations are often way off the mark.

Previous single "Alone" introduces hallucinogenic pysch-rock melodies, pulsing electronica and alluring vocals, dressed in black leather the monochrome imagine of the Brighton / Swedish six-piece seems as much as part of the bands image as the claustrophobic, repetitive Kills esque beat. New track "Radio" equally plays homage to krautrock with its experimental, darkly atmospheric buzz and circling psychedelic riffs, the heady rhythmic pulse of the song combining perfectly with Lisa Elle's intoxicating siren-calls.

"Radio" is due for release in July with the band playing a London show at Electrowerkz on Wednesday 13th June.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Let's Buy Happiness #8 - Works Better on Paper

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It's been a while since one of my favourite UK bands Let's Buy Happiness treated us to something new, but the wait is finally over, though "Works Better on Paper" won't be a new song to those who've got the five piece's debut EP 'No Hot Ashes' this new version is so absolutely luscious that it's hard to grumble.

The shimmering guitarscapes are pared back from the original version with a gentle, languid tempo and sparse, delicate instrumentation making Sarah Hall's soft, celestial vocal the main instrument and focal point. It works to perfection, magically complimenting sleepy drums and guitar effects "Works Better on Better" is just overwhelmingly beautiful, perfect for a lazy, summer's day listen (please don't go away sun)... Treat yourself below.

"Works Better on Paper" will be released June 11th via the bands own Ghost Arc Records.

The Hysterical Injury #2 - Cycle One

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From yesterdays post of an underrated band beginning with an H to another, Bath brother and sister, bass and drum duo Hysterical Injury (try saying that after a few beers!) whose latest single 'Cycle One' came out on Monday supported by a suitably frenetic video which you can watch below (available to d/l now via the bandcamp link above).

The track, taken from February's album 'Dead Wolf Situation', takes no prisoners from the word go, a thrashing whirlwind of fuzz-laden bass riffs and pummelling drum beats provide an unstoppable juggernaut of rip-roaring energy that propels Annie Gardiner's sweet, alluring vocal harmonies to dish-up three minutes of dirty, distorted rock 'n' roll. Soaring and stomping it's incredible to believe "Cycle One" is made by just two people.

Hysterical Injury play at Kiss The Music's weekender at The Sebright Arms, Bethnal Green on 9/10th June along with numerous acts featured here, you should go - details.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Horn The Hunt #2 - Gold

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A very much overdue update on Leeds band The Horn The Hunt, I fell for them with the stunning "Raptor" some eighteen months ago, their second album, last years 'Depressur Jolie' lived up to its promise, the title track introducing their sound well, pulsing synths, marching beats and strong, brooding vocals.

Singles "Old Town Cow" enchanted with eastern strings and clattering rhythms while "Animal Magic", an edgy dance track with throbbing bass, beasty beats and wonderful lyrics sees Clare's empowered vocals chant out ritualistic choruses, commanding and electrifying throughout it's an album well worthy of a belated mention.

In a time when left-field electronica is as popular as ever (Zola Jesus, Fever Ray, iamamiwhoami etc) it's strange to see this daring, eclectic act overlooked by many (I'll have to include myself there as I didn't mention them at all in 2011), perhaps new track "Gold" is the one to bring The Horn The Hunt to a larger audience, the first release from their forthcoming third album the track will be released as a limited 7" single on June 26th (available to pre-order now via bandcamp).

"Gold" introduces itself in dramatic fashion, pounding beats, jagged guitar hooks and soaring vocals (arguably the best of any THTH track to date),thunderous and atmospheric it's stadium sized and immediately grabs your attention. B-side "Lungs" is slower and more ambient, a spooky guitar line and hushed drums provide the platform for Clare's bewitching vocals to captivate, highlighting another side to The Horn The Hunt but one that's just as enjoyable.




Monday, 28 May 2012

The Summer Dolls - New Music "Introducing"

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I appear to be a sucker for this sort of summery fuzz at the minute, Nashville's The Summer Dolls (I can't currently find a website / facebook for them updated with their page link above) appear to be a duo made up of (and I'm not expecting these to be their real names either) Rubie Falls on vocals and "Killin' Me" Smalls on instruments. Their debut release (again to my knowledge) popped up on bandcamp recently and is simply gorgeous, the band appears to already know their genre, the single perfectly titled 'Fun 'n Sun'...

"Los Angeles" fizzes with exactly the sort of hazy, summery warmth that with the UK basking in glorious sun is just the type of track that you'll want on your BBQ mixtape, the beautiful vocals are sweet and inviting, the shimmering guitar and playful synth are a throwback to yesteryear, all in all, you won't be able to say no to this lovely, dreamy offering.

Similarly "Summer Day" is syrupy, irresistible pure pop, with enough breezy coolness to shelter you from the sun and keep the impending rain away, an almost dance-floor beat and rock n roll guitar line lost in a surf-pop 50's melody, wonderful. Download these luscious numbers below.


Saturday, 26 May 2012

She's So Rad #3 - Competition - Win an 'In Circles' vinyl

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I did a track review of the wonderful new single by New Zealand's She's So Rad earlier this week, "Confetti" is worth my endless superlatives twenty times over. Now I'm bringing something a bit different for this blog, a competition to win a copy of the bands debut full length 'In Circles' on sexy 12" vinyl.

Last years 'In Circles' can be streamed via bandcamp now. She's So Rad play two shows in London next week, firstly at Power Lunches in Dalston on Tuesday 29th supporting Coves (full details) and secondly at The Macbeth on Wednesday 30th alongside It Hugs Back (tickets).

How to enter: Simply Email Me with one of the venues the band are playing in London next week (I've named them both above!) at justmusicthatilike@gmail.com

Entries close at midday on Tuesday 29th May and the winner will be posted below this text and notified via email.

The winner will then get the chance to either collect the record themselves at one of the shows (I'm guessing that will only really apply to London folk) or have it posted to them. Good luck.

UPDATE: This competition is now closed. The winner James Millar has been notified via email - congratulations to him.



Friday, 25 May 2012

Las Kellies #2 - New UK Date / Erase You

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Last June I went to see Argentinian trio Las Kellies on whim, I'd heard a track before and it sounded just my thing so I went along to their show at Madame Jo Jo's and it ended up being one of the most fun, engaging shows I saw all year, a whirlwind of short, sharp energetic tunes that left you short of breathe and happy and if that's not the point of live music, then I don't know what is.

The good news (and reason for this post) is the girls are back, Las Kellies play throughout Europe over the summer with a confirmed show in London on July 18th at Brixton Windmill (tickets). The full June / July tour dates can be found via the bands facebook here. The line-up will be 1/3 different this time around with bassist Betty having left the group to pursue a solo career and being replaced by Adri, I'm sure I'll warm to her just as immediately.

If you're new to Las Kellies I've included a few samplers below, their version of ESG's "Erase You" spells out what they are about, raw and catchy, with throbbing bass grooves, slap hazard drums and shimmering guitar while the live video for "Perro Rompebolas" hints at their explosive show. Las Kellies don't really fit in any genre, there elements of post-punk, dub, funk, pop, reggae and more, don't worry about pigeon-holing them, just enjoy...



Thursday, 24 May 2012

Metric #2 - Speed The Collapse

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Three of my last four posts have been by some of the 'buzziest' bands around this week, what can I say, the bands I've wanted to write about (which tend to be what I'm listening to at that very moment) have been popular with other writers too. I have and will always stick to the title of this blog 'Just Music That I Like'.

This blog is (and again will always be) an unaffiliated, independent blog that I run amongst many other things in my life, I'm not all of sudden craving more blog hits and traffic from people searching for popular acts, if I did that I'd make sure the words Lana Del Rey and remix featured on every post. If you've already read about this track (or listened too, I'm pretty sure most people don't read most of the waffle and head straight for the soundcloud links), you can always ignore this post.

Like London buses Metric haven't wasted much time with promo for their forthcoming album 'Synthetica', promptly following up the hard hitting "Youth Without Youth" with the similarly stomping "Speed The Collapse", screeching guitar, upbeat, metronomic beats and Emily's sensual vocals provide an equally delightful track, soaring and uplighting. Consider 'Synthetica' two for two and my appetite fully whet for the album (due June 12th). Pre-order the CD for just £3.49 plus (rather steep postage) now.

I've mentioned my disastrous relationship with Metric's live show before, I'm eager for July 2nd (Metric by London's Shepherds Bush Empire - tickets) to come around so I can finally say I've broken by duck, I'm sure they'll be worth the wait too!

Savages #2 - Husbands

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Savages, now here's a band you've probably seen covered on every blog this week, there's been a buzz around them since pretty much day one, since their debut video hit the 'net (the spellbinding live video of "City's Full" that I covered here in Feb) writers, blogs and I'm sure labels have been falling over themselves to give their two pennies worth on the London based four-piece.

It seems Pitchfork won the behind the scenes fights with an exclusive interview and stream of their first online recording "Husbands", a track which will be the a-side to their aa debut single release 'Husbands / Flying to Berlin' due digitally on May 28th with a 7" promised for June via Jehn's own Pop Noire label with her husband and producer of the record (and musical partner in John & Jehn), John.

Savages probably deserve the buzz, I've seen them a few times already with a couple more planned in the next few weeks (the band headline Shacklewell Arms on May 29th - tickets) and their ferious performances are as outstanding as they are intense, "Husbands" does a good job at bringing that atmosphere to recording, propelled by bassist Ayse Hassan's throbbing post-punk bassline, deep and repetitive they form the backbone of the track, you'd be forgiven for thinking you've been transformed to North West England circa 1979, Jehn's vocals howl and shriek, like Sioxsie 'Ju Ju' era it's gothic voodoo that transfixes as much as it hits you like a freight train.

That's not forgetting the uncompromising drum beats, equally relentless and Gemma's guitar with jagged fits of rage. Savages are a four piece who equally dazzle, this venture maybe new but all four ladies are accomplished musicians who've been around for a while and their potent combination looks set to make them one of success stories of 2012.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dott - New Music "Introducing"

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Dott, a trio / quartet (info seems to state foursome though I'm getting the impression they are now a trio) hailing from Galway (Ireland it seems, certainly knows the way to my heart of late) who released their debut EP 'Button' last week, it stood out from a whole host of mails I had waiting for me in my inbox after The Great Escape for a number of reasons, firstly the use of the words 'harmony-driven garage pop' in the press release, words such as those guarantee a (usually belated) listen from me. Formed as recently as January this year the band haven't wasted much time to get their debut release 'out' (via Popical Island and is available here / US here).

I can't do much better than harmony driven garage pop if I'm honest, to be concise that it essentially the sound of Dott, on tracks like the opener "Seen You Lately" there's a grungy sheen to their sound, thick guitar riffs repeat around the sweet vocals but it's grunge in the nicest possible way, similarly "Leave Tonight" is a simple, sweet indie pop song with a lick of fuzz wrapped in gorgeous harmonies.

The EP's is "Let's Do It", a track that is simply perfect for days like this, the sun is shining and you feel good. "Let's Do It" will make you feel super good, with its repeated catchy refrain of "Let's do it, let's do it, let's fall in love" it's super cute, super fun and super wonderful. Yes really, that many 'supers'. Propelled by shiny guitars and precise drumming it's the sweet harmonies that are the killer, beautiful and uplifting. I'm far too old and miserable to do it but even I can imagine running around an evergreen field eating ice cream and throwing daisies at the girl you've had your eye on, if a track can do that to me, then it's got to be a one to cherish...



No Joy #4 - Junior / New EP

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Back in 2010 I instantly succumbed to Canadian noise makers No Joy, their debut 7" introduced their whirlwind blend of 90's grunge and shoegaze, they quickly followed up with their debut full length 'Ghost Blonde' on US label Mexican Summer to much acclaim from buzzier blogs than this.

Though it was their live show which I fell for hardest, No Joy know how to put on a show. From the deafening noise of the first time I saw them at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen to the cumulation at last years Primavera festival in Barcelona I was blown away with the Montreal based duo's (foursome live) non-stop aural assault, heavy on reverb and feedback the guitars where shredded as loud as possible with Jasmine and Laura epitomising the term 'shoegaze' as their long hair covered the faces as they thrashed their guitars amongst pounding beats and thumping bass. For half an hour you were their's in a show that was relentless, adrenalin enhancing fun and noise.

A year later and we've new news, the first track from their forthcoming EP 'Negaverse' (also on Mexican Summer and due June 19th), the track, "Junior" hits hard, seemingly transferring some of the live energy and tempo into the studio with their sweet vocals wrapped in a torrent of fiery guitar and fuzz, short and sharp the track doesn't hang around, but for two and a half minutes it grabs you by the throat and commands you to listen to it, then you'll probably want to press press and do it all over again.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lockets #3 - Treasures You Lost

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Lockets make music that sounds like people falling in love, on their three outstanding tracks so far this year their woozy, illuminating dream pop has soothed minds and blossomed the feeling of warmth and comfort. The good news today is the Philly duo are back with their fourth track, "Treasures You Lost" (available for free download below for a limited time only).

I'm getting that familiar tingling feeling again. "Treasures You Lost" has it all, Lockets signature heart plucking melodies paint a rich, intoxicating landscape for Todd's sublime production work, loitering against haunting chiming guitar that Dani weaves her soft, beautiful voice over. The very definition of luscious.

The single is taken from the bands debut full-length 'Camera Shy' which is due over the summer, I hope someone's given them enough money to pay for an airfare to London.

She's So Rad #2 - Confetti

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When I mentioned She's So Rad at the start of February I had no idea that a few months later Jeremy Toy & Anji Sami would be over in the UK for a fortnight long tour in support of fellow New Zealander Ladyhawke (they're still here with their own London show on May 30th at The Macbeth - details). I'm not surprised that we've warmed to them, their blend of early 90's shoegaze and spiralling synth sounds like it could easily have been made by the latest UK 'buzz band'.

To coincide with the UK shows She's So Rad have released the first track (available for free download below) from their forthcoming, as yet unannounced second album, "Confetti" is an apt title for the multi-layered blend of kaleidoscopic heavy pop soundscapes where shimmering guitar, synth and looped drum patterns create a sweet, dreamy melody that fills your mind with blissful thoughts. Added to the tracks top notch production which adds an extra layer of sheen "Confetti" is sure to win praise from all corners, it's early radio play on Radio One a testimony to that. Once the word gets out, there maybe no stopping them.


Monday, 21 May 2012

Big Wave #2 - The Roots of Love

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It's fair to say the Soft Power Records are on fire at the minute, a swift return after the sold-out September Girls cassette (I did tell you to act quickly) sees the Scottish based label release the second (and first physical) EP by Torquay's Big Wave. Following up their wonderful 'Another Year or Two' EP which stole my heart just before Christmas is the five track 'The Roots of Love (Come Tumbling Down')...

Two (or three if you count the reappearance of the perfect slice of summer sunshine pop in "Another Year or Two") tracks are available to preview now and fans of beautiful, pure and well crafted indie-pop should be ready to fall in love. "Circumstance" serves as an ideal introduction, bathed in sweet dreamy vocals, the five piece's jangle guitars, shimmering keys and skittish drums provide a melody likely to melt icebergs, or at least cause the sun that we're due this week to arrive in timely manner.

"Leavers Party" changes things up with a shift up in pace, more mid 90's indie than the Sarah's Records influenced sounds I've heard from Big Wave previously, it works too, with a bouncy keyline, stomping beat and reverb heavy vocals it's ready to fill indie club dance floors just as soon as they release we don't all want to be listening to Kasabian and the Kaiser Chief's.

One of the tracks you'll have to buy the EP for is probably my highlight, "Blissed Out", a perfect title for the care-free nostalgia of the band, breezy and overwhelmingly luscious. With that tease I should give you the release details, the limited five track cassette is released 11th of June, keep your eyes peeled via the links above for order info.


Eternal Summers - Millions

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I find myself not having covered Eternal Summers before, I'm surprised at the omission. I've got their previous LP 'Silver' and a split 7" too, the Virginia duo turned trio have been making infectious, short and sharp fuzzy pop gems for a while now. Gearing up for their second LP ('Correct Behavior' which is due July 24th from Kanine Records, across the pond at least) they've shared the first track from it, "Millions"...

I'm a few weeks late on the boat with the track but it instantly sounds like the trio's 'biggest' track yet, beautifully polished it shimmers with up-tempo rhythms, racing through its two and a half minute play time with playful optimism. Eternal Summers make fun music perfect for wasting the time away and now "Millions" with its added coat of glossy veneer could take them to the big time, jangly guitars, jagged bass, quick-hitting drums and dreamy, airy vocals. Yeah, "Millions" has it all. Consider the LP added to my 'to buy' list.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Tes Elations #2 - Patience / Album

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Last summer I was struck by the first track I heard by LA quintet Tes Elations, the song "Autumn" still impresses, a sensual, smoky track with rat-a-tat drums, gentle guitar rhythms and soaring strings, it sounded fresh and promised much from the band. Since they've been busy finishing their debut album (which was released a few weeks ago and is available direct from the band here). The preview stream tracks hint at a worthwhile purchase...

"Patience" is stunning, a beautiful, haunting atmosphere builds and rises, shimmers and ripples around stirring cello strings, moody drums and the striking vocals of Barrie Rose, it connects with you on both an intellectual and emotional level. Sonically adventurous, the chamber-pop / symphony orchestrations drop for a dreamscape bridge in the middle of the track which signal the introduction of deep tribal drum rhythms and harrowing atmospheres, the tempo gradual rises with the ethereal sighs of Rose starring in a rousing cinematic finale.

It's pretty hard to top that but "May She" does a good job, Rose's vocals command your attention from the outset while a circling heavy beat and strings rhythms duel. Tes Elations densely active and complex ensemble combine to engaging effect, the fusion of classical, rock and world music makes for an atmospheric, compelling and as interesting listen as I could want on this Sunday morning.


Friday, 18 May 2012

All We Are - New Music "Introducing"

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I discovered All We Are a few weeks back via Stealing Sheep. At their recent London show they were selling some handmade split CD's with four of their own tracks and four tracks by another Liverpool based band (All We Are are another band who homed their skills at LIPA, the same school as a number of artists featured here already) that I hadn't heard of at the time, it turned out to be the bands debut EP.

As ever it's taken me some time to finally get around to playing the CD but I'm glad I did, there are certain unmissable similarities between the two acts that make them perfect foil for one another. "Trainspotting" the lead track from the trios (yes, numerically they are the same too, they also both have stand-up drummers) second EP 'We Hunt' echoes with a similar, otherworldly ambiance, there are hand-claps, psychedelic melodies, off-kilter beats and to-die-for vocal harmonies. It's enchanting and compelling throughout but that's not to say All We Are are a clone of Stealing Sheep, they've more than a number of their own unique identifiers, displayed in abundance throughout their two releases to date.

"Satellite" sparse mellow instrumentation, languid beats and sense of space sounds more like a harmony laden xx and equally beautiful is "Red Sky" which shimmers with luscious guitar twinkles and military drums before a soaring to a Wicker Man esque conclusion which sees Guro Gikling's ethereal vocals transform into that of a dreamlike séance amongst hypnotic drums and gorgeous guitar twinkles.

All We Are certainly deserve their own praise, listen below and discover them for yourself.



Alloy Ark - New Music "Introducing"

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Suffolk based quartet Alloy Ark dropped onto my radar recently with a trio of soundcloud tracks that have already got a handful of bloggers excited and make me happy to add myself to the list. They appear to have been around for a while, with a 2010 review calling them a 'twee duo', now expanded to a four piece, their sound is bit more filled out than that but is hard to accurately pin down, it flutters perhaps somewhere between indie and garage pop.

"Did She Tell You" shimmers with gentle drum and guitar lines providing a blissful, delicate platform for Dani Apadoo's ethereal, angel-like vocals to shine, equally slick and smooth is the tracks production. Beautiful in every way, it's a fine introduction to the band.

"Blue" turns up the fuzz levels, the chugging grunge guitars and languid beats are drenched in sun and makes me which I was outside in a summers' day garden with the stereo turned up high instead of inside looking at a sky with 99% cloud cover.

Their third offering is the more upbeat, mellow groove of "All I Want", which is equally gorgeous and inviting, twinkling keys and jumping rhythms showcase a fun, sweeter side to the band, the aforementioned vocals again radiant and playful. With a debut 7" due in December, I doubt this is the last you'll hear of Alloy Ark.



Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Great Escape 2012 - Saturday Review

I wake up to find myself faced with the last day of The Great Escape 2012, it has flown by. My day plan for Saturday had been arranged for weeks, it involved a trip to The Hydrant and then staying there, after a late breakfast I walk up London Road to find the venue, it's fair to say it's in a more 'undesirable' location to the rest of the festival. About three quarters of a mile from anywhere else and away from the seafront on a sunny day, it's not much of a surprise to find there aren't too many people there at half past twelve.

Added to the fact that the venue is, to put it succinctly, a shit hole. The Hydrant as a venue that might be okay to watch rock music by night but doesn't immediately appeal for a full afternoon's worth of folk. The mood is hardly helped by there being an abysmal selection of beers and the room being almost pitch black (hence a lack of photos). Still, I carry on regardless...

First up is Redwood Red, backed by Emma Gatrill on clarinet (who probably thinks I'm her stalker by now), her guitar plucks are delicate and fragile and her voice is rich and beautiful, the vocal harmonies extraordinary. It's a fine start to the day. We're even treated to a bit of tap-dancing / unorthodox beats at one point, if only there were some seats or light.

Like Spinning is next, I've waxed lyrical about Kari's music on numerous occasions, so unless you are new here you've probably got the picture by now but her vocals are so gorgeous and soothing that I forget about the environment for a while. Backed by Anna's equally beguiling voice there's even a recent cover in the set, a wonderful version of Hannah Cohen's "Child Bride". Like Spinning deserve all the praise that comes their way.

After whichever random drink I decide is best of a bad bunch Laish take to the tall stage and I'm re-encountered with Emma and Martha Rose who plays violin in the folk-rock posse, their sweeping tracks are harmonious and dripped in luscious instrumentation, I find myself wishing their were some candles in the room, anything to bring some light or feeling to the venue. Did I mention there was one toilet. A venue that can hold about 200/250 people has one gentlemen's room. Good luck with that...

I quickly disappear for a coffee which turns out to be an ale because there wasn't any coffee and see some of Karima Francis, the venue gets suddenly busy. I think it's because Karima was the only act on the bill who made it on the iPhone. Although it seems Karima didn't look at that as she mentions not knowing about the show until half an hour before playing, you wouldn't have guessed as she bellows out her soul-pop tracks that will no doubt be troubling the charts before summer is over.

Slightly delayed it's Emily and the Woods up next, the sound where I was sitting (my legs had given up by this point and I made do with the hard, dirty floor) means I hear probably slightly more guitar than I should and not enough of Emily's soft, sweet vocals. There is a lot of new material and it's safe to say I'm excited to hear it properly. Emily is another well documented love of mine and her way with the crowd will no doubt have found her more friends.

My eyes decide they want some sunlight after over four hours in predominately the same rectangle shaped room so I decide to get some food and drop off my bag before heading out for the evening shift. I see Stealing Sheep as I exit and have a tangle of guilt but I saw them a few weeks ago and think I've made the right decision. A little rest later and expecting Audio to be busy I head there just as the doors open, the good news is they are handing out drink tokens for free Red Stripe - free and alcohol when used together are two words never to be sniffed at.

After I take my place at the front (stalker fan) it's not too long before Novella come on stage and they are as good as ever, sugary vocals buried in a see of hazy, grunge guitars and battering drums equally powerful and beautiful, not ones for audience interaction, Novella are still one of the best 90's influenced band in London today. My pre-gig expectations for the next band Fanzine are pretty low, it turns out of I've got them confused with another band and I quite enjoy them, their dreamy, slacker-pop sounds more American than London, their set soon flies by.

The venue is heaving by the point HAIM take to the stage, there is a notable air of expectancy, I'm not sure what to expect, it doesn't take very long into their set for me to soon decide they are amazing. Actually amazing. They swear too much in-between songs but musically they are brilliant, three sisters aged between 19 and 24 with a drummer who seems the butt of their jokes.

They are not a thing like their pre-show billing of R&B meets folk, Haim are 70's rock meets Fleetwood Mac. The harmonies are to-die-for, the guitars loud and the drumming intense. I said in my preview this could be a moment like Warpaint's show a couple of years ago and it turns out that I was right. Haim will be back in the UK soon and before the year is out they'll be on the lips of thousands of cooler people than I.

Lucy Rose is next at Blind Tiger, I'm soon beyond infuriated. I know it's quite late (about half ten) but if you come to watch a gig by a singer-songwriter surely etiquette dictates that you shut the fuck up. Perhaps not at a new music festival when there is every chance most of the crowd has been out enjoying the springs' sun for the best part of the day, after five or six songs I've had enough and decide to save Lucy's beautiful voice for a time when I can enjoy it without thoughts of cutting off a lot of people's tongues!

Instead I head to the sanctuary of the Pav Tav, I'm going to guess that is the only time this place has ever been called a sanctuary, it's a typical student filled hole, but at least you know what you are getting beforehand and I sample a few poor quality EPA's, though priced at £2.50 I can't complain.

It does leave a sour end to the weekend but one that looking back was filled with a lot of quality acts and a lot of value of the £40 ticket (super early bird and fees). I've talked about a couple of niggling points throughout my rambling reviews, still The Great Escape is still one of my favourite festivals of the year and I'm already looking forward to 2013's.



Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Great Escape 2012 - Friday Review

Friday, the second day of The Great Escape and I awake with a pretty clear head. After nearly thirty years of existence and almost half of them drinking more than I should I've finally learned that ale is the drink that thanks you the next day. My first act of the day is an early one at midday, Martha Paton at Komedia. I arrive and she's just started, she looks younger than I had in my head and her band look even younger. Don't let that detract you though, she's got a lovely voice which shines in the dark basement room, quite a large audience have turned up for a pretty much unknown singer-songwriter, perhaps they're aware of the word potential too.

Afterwards I quickly head to the seafront to catch Cut Ribbons again, this time it's a stripped back acoustic set with only three of the band members, it doesn't quite hit the highs of yesterday but the gentle melodies allow me more space to fall for Anna's voice all over again. The weather gods agree too as despite a little wind, the sun comes out for the first time all weekend. Afterwards there is a little break in my schedule so I grab some food and check out a few shops in the lanes.

The Latest Music Bar is my next stop, the first time I've seen an act upstairs and it's a good one too. Abi Wade treats a pretty large crowed to an extended soundcheck which acts to whet the appetite for the real deal, it's quite fabulous too, Abi creates a compelling sound with her cello, a beat box and her voice. Her cello is plucked more like a guitar and bashed in equal measure and it makes the most organic and percussive sounds imaginable. Afterwards I head downstairs and catch a song or two from a band that don't really do anything for me before heading to The Fishbowl.

Rozi Plain is the first act I am there to see, her set draws you in instantly, her gorgeous voice repeats around your brain, her evocative melodies enchant overwhelming you with delicacy and warmth. It's heavenly. The crowd seem like a who's who of musicians from the local scene and acts soon to play, there equally unanimous in applause of Rozi's talents. I decide to make (what turns out to be my last visit) to the seafront and have a quick beer in the sun before heading back inside to watch FOE at Life, three songs later I decide I'd rather be back at The Fishbowl and scoot out as quickly as possible.

I catch a band I'd never heard of previously and they are a revelation. The 'Stroud and proud' Hot Feet playing as a duo come trio, their songs are delicate and beautiful, the soft female vocals (I later learn are from a lovely lady named Marianne Parrish) are haunting and the guitar patterns intricate, I instantly fall in love and Hot Feet are without doubt the new band discovery of the weekend for me, an act that will most definitely be featured here again in more detail soon enough. A tip first, don't get stuck behind guitarist Jack at a gig, he's 'quite' tall!

Another pint of Laines later and I'm ready for the next act. If I thought it impossible for the music to get better I was wrong because Emma Gatrill raises the bar again, I'd seen a picture of her London show the night before and it looked magical. Magical is an equally apt word to describe her, a collection of beautiful harp-based songs that bring a warm intimacy to the small venue, as I look on spellbound as Emma's gentle plucks and soaring voice makes the small venue seem even smaller, it becomes like a living room gig. Later Emma is joined by a guitarist and drummer who add wonderful atmospheric noises to her songs, her album came out last week and if you have any sense you'll be buying it soon.

Next up is a solo show by Mariner's Children well not quite solo as Emma provides backing vocals to the striking acoustic songs, the lyrics and guitar provide a rich tapestry and thought provoking music with powerful harmonies and as a self-confessed nay-sayer of male sung folk rock (I blame Mumfords) I find myself blown away by his/their sound, maybe there's a conversion on the horizon...

After three hours of sweet, soothing folk sounds I have an unadvisable encouter with chinese take-away before heading to The Queen's Hotel to watch the culmination of Amazing Radio's day there. Hype it seems is a fickle thing. It's probably easier to write down new blogs that haven't covered Shines than those who have but there is only a small-ish crowd (clashes against Grimes and Alt-J probably don't help their cause, alongside being on the alternative escape which for some reason isn't listed in the festivals iPhone app) to watch the Manchester four-piece, but nevertheless they perform a pleasing set bookended by their best (and most well known) tracks "Spent Youth" and "Shola".

Fear of Men take the stage next to a larger crowd and are joined by a fifth member on backing vocals (who I find the next day is Laish's Martha Rose, a band whom also have Emma Gatrill in their ranks - Brighton suddenly seems a lot smaller!), their show is excellent, one of the bands who I feel deserve the 'buzz' they've received since formation. Which in case we dare forget in the excessive internet hyperbole is only 12 months ago. They shuffle through a twenty five minute set of jangly indie and dreamy vocals quickly, barely stopping for breathe (and certainly not a chat). It's hazy, gorgeous and just what the evening needed.

The venue got suddenly busier around ten pm with the blue neck band identifying 'delegate' seemingly more in force than at any other point of my festival. 'Delegate' at TGE could mean anything, if could mean a guy who write a more popular blog than this one whose got a press pass, it could mean a an A&R guy for a label or it could simply mean a person with deeper pockets who didn't fancy a queue. The balance of delegate / normal tickets is one that I still think the organiser's need to address...

The reason for the influx was for one of the 'bands of the minute' (well according to my twitter feed and hype machine), PINS, four perfectly kitted out (too perfectly perhaps), good looking girls who can play a bit too. An A&R managers' dream you could say. They've only played about ten shows so far and are a little rough around the edges (not helped by an amp problem) but there are signs that given time they'll be able to follow-up the excitement that their early release caused to new blogs like this. "Eleventh Hour" itself is spellbinding, deep guitar and rattling rhythms recalling some of Manchester's finiest post-punk bands. For now I'll label them as promising and keep following them with baited breathe...

I could call it a night but I don't, I head for a drink at The Latest Music Bar and catch half of The Chapman Family's set. I find myself at conflict. I really enjoyed watching TCF about 15 months ago on tour with The Joy Formidable, yet here they start with four new tracks out of five (which in itself is no big deal) but when performed by a rhythm section that I don't recognise as TCF (their old drummer and bassist left amicably last summer) and instead see fresh faced, immaculately dressed lads I'm not sure what to make of it. TCF 2.0 is an entirely new band and I'm not sure where I stand with them. My time runs out and I head over to see my last act of the night Curxes...

The place, Riki Tik's is not a live music venue at all, it's full of drunks dancing to intolerable dance music. I'm expecting a car crash. Curxes take the none existent stage after a bouncer pushes a few people who keep trying to tumble into the keys and then you realise the sound system is shit as well. The band are really up against it, really. They perform admirably though. Roberta even ventures out into the crowd and intimidates a few people twice her size, her voice as strong and powerful as I expected. It's a shame my first Curxes experience had to be like this but I leave with enough there to know they'll be more to come and in venues where music is not a byword for overpriced piss-water lager.

I even manage to avoid the chip shops on the way home, Friday was a success...




Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Great Escape 2012 - Thursday Review

For another year The Great Escape has come and gone and after a days recovery, some decent sleep (although to be fair, after staying in a hotel bed for three nights with hot showers every day it's hardly post Glastonbury syndrome) I'll attempt my review of the festival over the next three posts...

2012 was a good year, for me it wasn't quite the same vintage as 2011, that's partly my own fault for making a few scheduling errors across the weekend. The weather was good, very good on Friday and gorgeous on Saturday (if I wasn't in some dark, dark dive for most of the day that is) and the beer was of varying quality (highest marks go to The Fishbowl's 'Laines' and the Pav Tav's £2.50 EPA (although that didn't exactly taste great).

Other general observations see similar complaints to last year, the text / update service was arguably worse - there were a few unavoidable cancellations / delays and very few were actually announced in advance, it doesn't help to arrive at a venue to find it running an hour behind or worse the act you were after seeing not even playing. I know it's impossible to tell everyone around Brighton but a message via the text service / twitter / facebook wouldn't take more than a minute...

Anyway grumble aside, I arrived in Brighton at about half eleven on Thursday and headed straight to Blind Tiger, or Hector's House as it was formerly, formerly known and something impossible to remember last year. I find the stage has been moved and a lick of white paint makes the room feel cleaner and larger. The first act of my (and many others, for the room is pretty busy) Great Escape 2012 is Canada's Slow Down, Molasses, a band I'd not heard of previously but whose blend of alt-rock is quite pleasing, built around sprawling guitars and two drummers (though one did seem to just mirror the other) there are loud, thumping moments interlaced with euphoric choruses and also slow-burning, dreamier sections. The last track where the female keyboardist performed vocals particularly pleasing (says the blog writer with an obvious tilt towards female led indie/pop!).

I probably should have stayed there longer to enjoy more on the Canadian showcase but I was carrying my luggage and starving so menial chores of bag-drop and lunch take president before returning to music at The Hope, Berlin based singer Dillon is next, the show is rammed with queues outside but after three songs littered with technical problems and poor sound (and even worse beer) I decide I'd rather go somewhere else so I head to The Loft, where I bump into Breaking More Waves and Flying With Anna, Robin is particularly complimentary of the venues last act Giovanni.

Next up for me is Half Moon Run who have a few fans in the crowd but aren't really my thing, I stick with the Loft for Savoir Adore who are build as synth dream-pop and sound none of the sort, the female vocals are soft and harmonious but the band are loud, with rattling beats and shimmering guitars with a male, rockier voice taking primary vocals, I await their dream-pop album...

The pint-sized  Nina Nesbitt is next, I stick around waiting for news about the reason I had actually come to the venue (Ren Harvieu - who's show was cancelled), I'm told Nina has supported Example on tour and it looks like it, the now quite busy crowd watch her quirky guitar led pop. It's pure pop though and doesn't really get me excited, the younger members of the crowd seems into it though and I'm sure there is a big future ahead of her, and perhaps somewhere an album for me as her voice is nice and she's got a good stage presence. I though head for the curry house, one of the staples of a Great Escape weekend in Brighton if you ask me.

The evening starts with a walk to the other end of Brighton and The Green Door Store to catch Deaf Club, I like them, I like them a lot. I expected too as I've featured them on a few times here but sometimes the live show is a different kettle of fish altogether, Deaf Club though are highly polished, soaring, shimmering guitar soundscapes and Polly's commanding vocals engage a packed out crowd with the bands blend of dark, moody alternative pop. Definitely a band to keep an eye on,

Which is exactly what can be said for the next band Cut Ribbons, their guitar lines aren't quite as menacing but the Llanelli five piece manage to effortlessly create a whirlwind of stadium sized riffs with deep bass lines and two guitars which are complimented by thumping drums and wonderful dual vocals, star of the show is Anna Griffiths whose gorgeous accented vocals send lovely thoughts right down my spine. A wonderful start to the evening from two of Wales' finest new exports.

After Cut Ribbons it's a quick exit and trek to the Corn Exchange to watch a band added to the bill just the day before, Savages, perhaps word hadn't got out too soon as the massive hall is only part full minutes before the four piece start. The empty space didn't help the sound in the venue and some of their thunderous beats and ferocious guitars seemed to echo around the hall rather than fill a sweaty room like my previous Savages live encounter.

Yet the four piece are still impressive, they've all got previous band experience by the bucket-load and it shows, they are all incredible at what they do, singling out one individual in this case would be unfair. Blistering through their set in no time at all, the much watched "City's Full" slays the crowd instantly, their intensity (or the audiences attention) doesn't let go throughout the set, Savages set of rhythmic post-punk tracks make them amongst  2012 best new acts, lets not get too carried away though and give them chance to release some music in their own time.

Another quick change over sees me head just around the corner to the somewhat more calmer surroundings of the Unitarian Church for Hannah Cohen, my facebook had been covered with plaudits of her London show the previous day and my expectations were sky high. Hannah didn't disappoint. Primarily a solo show with the addition of piano for some tracks Hannah's gorgeous voice resonated across the room to an impeccable quiet audience, the best received perhaps the singles "Crying Game" and "Don't Say" and a cover of "Blue Velvet", beautiful throughout, it was Hannah who a turned to to send me to sleep once I'd returned to my bed (after three hours drinking in the fishbowl that is).

A fine end to a fine start to The Great Escape 2012. My Friday review will follow as soon as possible.


Palmz #2 - Stay This Way Forever

Facebook / palmz.bandcamp.com/

Despite the rain and gloom that shrouds the weather today, this past weekend showed signs of at last  turning for the better, with warm sunshine instead of grey overcast rain instantly making things seems easier (especially when I happened to be by the seaside), to accompany the sunshine what better than some fun, fuzzy surf rock with retro melodies and jangly pop hooks. There's plenty of places to turn for said musical joy but high on that list for me since I discovered them last October are California's Palmz.

Their early tracks on bandcamp (still available to d/l for free) made such an impression on me that I pushed for a UK release (the 'Grow EP' which came out a few months back on limited tape which you can buy here), now as summertime approaches Palmz are back to melt your hearts and raise your smiles with a new track "Stay This Way Forever", an irresistible ode to finding love in their home-town ("we'll stay this way forever, our love won't die no never"). Upbeat guitars chime around purposeful percussion as Lexie's gorgeous, sugar-sweet vocals cover you with giddy, nostalgic happiness.

Palmz' pretty as a flower melodies will make you forget everything that's on your mind weighing you down and make the sun shine, even on a grey day. They'lll be my soundtrack to summer 2012, they should be yours too.. Listen / download free below:



Monday, 14 May 2012

Alice Jemima #4 - First Love

Facebook / alicejemima.com/

Before I start with my review of The Great Escape festival here's an update on not quite my first love, but certainly one of my latest loves, the exquisite and beautiful Alice Jemima.

The prolific Devon singer-songwriter has shown up here probably more than anyone else in 2012 and here I find myself writing about Alice again after she (for the umpteenth time) causes butterflies inside. The latest of her garageband demo tracks to send me all funny is the aching beauty of "First Love", released whilst I was getting ready to head to Brighton it highlights perfectly why so many of us bloggers have been swept off our feet...

Delicate guitar shimmers and a gently plucked chord rhythm leads the way for Alice's pretty, warming vocals that just like in everything I've heard from Alice so far, it's the deceptive simplicity of her voice / melody combination that shines through. "First Love" is just genuinely gorgeous, Alice's lyrics candid and intimate as she sings to a past love, "you'll always be my first love, but that's the last love, I give to you"... there is good news seemingly for the increasing number of admires as Alice appears to have moved on "There's no point in going backwards, if I can't go forwards with you". Form an orderly line boys...

I make that at least a half dozen wonderful tracks and hopefully news of an EP or wax release is to follow soon. If an MP3 streamed via soundcloud (new listeners can find the rest here) can sound this good, just imagine how warm Alice's voice will be on wax. Hmmm.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Knickers - New Music "Introducing"

Facebookknickers.bandcamp.com/

As I alluded too in my last post, I'd not heard of Knickers until Monday, I went to watch a few bands on impulse including yesterdays post Cosines (with whom Knickers share a rhythm section) and Fever Dream but I'm happy I stayed around at The Lexington a little longer before shooting off to see I Like Trains' album release show (fantastic - buy it), for Knickers (with use of a chronically band analogy) completely charmed the undergarments off me (though being of the male species I tend to wear boxers).

To save beating around the bush, "Are You Ready Boy?" is just plain gorgeous. Languid guitars shimmers around gentle drum and vocalist Sarah's soft, dreamy vocals. Her words instantly melt your heart, regular readers might already recognise the traits of a sound I'm an absolute sucker for and with good reason, listen to the track below for yourself and fall hopelessly in love...

Just as wonderful is another track on the quintets bandcamp, "My Baby's Just A Baby (But I Love Him So)" playfully sweeps by with an effortlessly cool air, organ keys and ratatat beats provide the rhythms for the infectious blend of 60's girl group pop as Sarah duets with herself the track makes you wish you were at a high school prom with your childhood sweetheart swinging the night away.

"My Baby's Just A Baby (But I Love Him So)" will be available on 7" / download with three other tracks on June 4th via Elefant Records - already excited. Knickers next date in London is Friday 18th May at Wilmington Arms - details.






I'll be in Brighton by the time you read this. I've been snowed under with work / gigs and planning more gigs the last week or so, so there aren't any scheduled post until my return next week.
Here's to some sunshine on the south coast. Hope to meet a few of you there...

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cosines - New Music "Introducing"

Facebookcosines.bandcamp.com/

Getting out there and watching live music is in my opinion the best way of finding new music, recommendations help too narrow the search but sometimes just taking a chance on music is all you need to do, I had a few hours spare on Monday afternoon and did just that. The next couple of posts show off my findings, talent sniffer that I am and all (sarcasm alert).

Cosines are a new indie pop band based in London led by Simon Nelson and Alice Hubley who've been in various indie-pop bands before but have come to my attention in this, their latest band. My destination, The Lexington hosted what was only the groups second ever gig and first as a five-piece (bassist cut from picture) and their upbeat tunes brightened up the dark upstairs room as they opened up an all-dayer headlined by the wonderful Comet Gain.

Two tracks from presumably the bands forthcoming first release (for now left as simply 'Coming Soon...') are up for all to hear on bandcamp, both highlight a sound that revivalists of the retro, electro slant of distinguished labels such as Sarah Records are going to fall head over heels for...

The swirling "Out Of The Fire" sees jaunty synthesisers, punchy drums and spiralling guitar blend perfectly with Alice's wonderfully accented vocals to create a wistfully cool melody that can do nothing but brighten your mood, similarly the more playful "Hey Sailor Boy!" charms with a breezy ease. A toe-tapping beat and sea-faring wit, you can't ask for more than that to put a smile on your face.

See for yourself with streams below. Cosines return to The Lexington on May 21st - details.