Friday, 24 January 2020

WATCH: Sam Lee - 'Lay This Body Down'

A press release that cites Cosmo Sheldrake as appearing on the track? Consider me sold already. This is about as good as folk gets. Nest Collective founder, Mercury Prize nominee and renowned song collector Sam Lee is set to release the brand new album Old Wow on January 31st via Cooking Vinyl. He's just shared the single Lay This Body Down, the video for which features choreography from London's Ballet Rambert.

Talking about the origins of the track, Sam explains that "themes of death and renewal are central [...] it has been adapted from the singing of an old ferry boatman in the 1860s, who rowed the collector of this song across the water in Port Royal, a set of islands in South Carolina. It was described in the notes as being in the dead of night, with one hooded oarsmen guided only by a small oil lamp chanting this song as he rowed. The similarity to Charon the ferryman of Hades carrying the dead souls across the Styx in greek mythology was not lost on the collector. This song touches deep into that sense of parting from the realm of the living. It speaks of final journeys, our returning to the soil and the eventual confrontation and acceptance of death that we all one day make." 


The new album was recorded at RAK Studios and Studio 355, produced by Suede's Bernard Butler. Alongside Butler's electric guitar, somewhat a first for a Sam Lee record, the album features vocals from Elizabeth Frazer (Cocteau Twins), Cosmo Sheldrake, Dizraeli and Caoimhin O Raghallaigh (The Gloaming). The record is devoted to the natural world - Sam has extended this dedication to many years as a passionate conservationist and environmental campaigner, having recently collaborated with Extinction Rebellion and Music Declares Emergency, including a contribution to the recent climate anthology Letters To The Earth.

Sam heads out on a UK tour in just over a week, dates below, tickets here!

31st Jan: Cluny, Newcastle
1st Feb: Night and Day Café, Manchester
3rd: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
4th: City Varieties, Leeds
5th: Glee, Birmingham
6th: Phoenix, Exeter
7th: St Petroc's Church, Bodmin
8th: Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis
10th: Junction 2, Cambridge
13th: St George's, Brighton
15th: Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury
16th: Open, Norwich
17th: EartH, London
19th: St George's, Bristol
21st: The Gate, Cardiff

Follow Sam Lee - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

LISTEN: Bad Sounds - 'Escaping from a Violent Time Vol.1'

I'm making a bit of an effort to check out more EPs this year, and I'm very much enjoying the brand new one from Bristol five-piece Bad Sounds. It's pretty ace. The EP comes as the first instalment of a trilogy of releases, this one written and recorded underground in a former prison cell in central Bristol, close to the band's home of Bath. With the aim of creating a true representation of where they're currently at as a band, the EP was produced by frontmen and brothers Callum and Ewan themselves - "we wanted [the EP] to feel more visceral, and of this moment." 

The band's first major release since their debut record Get Better in 2018, the EP features recent singles Sympathetic Vibrations (love love love that one) and Breathe, alongside the new single Permanent. On the new track, the band state that "it's primarily about acceptance - learning how to accept your own shortcomings, and your own personality. Sometimes I feel like I just mirror the people around me in social situations, and started to worry that I didn't even really have a personality of my own." They add that "with Permanent we tried to imagine how it would be to be one of those lucky people who appear to be themselves regardless of the situation, and learn to be proud of who we are. It's good to celebrate who we are every now and then... unless you're a dickhead!"


The band are heading out for some shows in the UK in May, tickets available here.

1st May: Deaf Institute, Manchester
12th: Lafayette, London
13th: The Fleece, Bristol

Follow Bad Sounds - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

LISTEN: Chloe Foy - 'Callous Copper'

Something lovely and chilled to share with you today... I added this to my secondary 'acoustic/folk/chilled' Spotify playlist this week, which you can check out hereCallous Copper is the  gorgeously bewitching new single from Chloe Foy, the title track of her upcoming EP, due 21st February via AntiFragile. As is perfectly displayed in the track, the EP is a collection of tracks both old and new that have been re-imagined with a string quartet in tow. I'm always a fan of strings, and the addition of violin, viola and cello really elevate the track, making it appear vast, while Chloe's vocals contrast, drawing you in close.

Discussing the EP, Chloe explains that "I adore string music and think so much can be brought out in a song with the addition of a violin, viola and cello. So that's what I've aimed for here - a collection of songs, old and new and a cover of one of my favourites by Neil Young. All about birth, love, death and everything in between. The intricate complexities of life and living."


Chloe heads out on a UK tour celebrate the release of the EP in March, dates below - tickets for sale here!

4th March: The Islington, London
5th: The Brunswick, Brighton
6th: Cafe Kino, Bristol
7th: Purple Turtle, Reading
8th: Boiler Room, Guildford
10th: Studio 2, Liverpool
12th: Laundrette, Durham
14th: Kings Arms, Salford

Follow Chloe Foy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Luke De-Sciscio - 'Good Bye Folk Boy'

At last count, I'm getting around 130 submissions to the blog weekly. Tracks, EPs, albums, gigs and tour news to write about. It's a lot to sift through and as you can tell by the amount of posts I actually share each week, not a lot of it gets through, so it can be really rewarding when I find something in those emails which I genuinely adore, especially when the artist is new to me. Last week: in walks Luke De-Sciscio. His brand new track R.O.B.Y.N (an ode to his partner) arrives with news of his new record Good Bye Folk Boy, due on the 14th March. I really took to the track from the first listen, but have completely fallen for the accompanying live video from BBC Introducing In The West. Seriously, watch below and tell me you don't love it too. His vocal range and the intricacy with which he plays the guitar have seriously impressed me.



Hailing from Swindon, Luke spent his youth daydreaming, fishing and writing songs. On writing from his teenage years, he comments "my theory was that I knew what I wanted to do, so I just got on with it." He moved to Bath, where he met his partner Robyn. The couple lived on a 100-year-old canal boat for a time, with Luke using the space to explore his guitar-playing and songwriting away from the confines of everyday life... "we neglected everything but the boat and each other for that first year. It was so slow and so pure." Moving to dry land to facilitate recording his music, Luke found his productivity grinding to a halt - "songs suffered from not being written in the same environmental head space." While his songwriting may have slowed, I'd say he's got plenty to be working with, having written (at least) an album's worth of songs every year since he was 16. "It was never about releasing them or 'making it' - my belief is that if you're creating something you love, you have already made it. And I just knew that I would go crazy if I wasn't writing. [...] For me, it was the creation, and the belief that if people needed my music, it would find them." 


You can catch Luke live at SET in Dalston on 2nd April - tickets here. 

Follow Luke De-Sciscio - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday, 17 January 2020

LISTEN: Bombay Bicycle Club - 'Everything Else Has Gone Wrong'

"This is an album for anyone who's ever turned to music in a time of crisis, whether personal or political. It's about the solace one can get from listening to music or playing music when everything else in your life or the world has gone wrong. It's about finding kernels of hope and renewal in dire situations." 

Well, this is up there with the coolest perks of running this blog to date. I've had an early stream of the brand new Bombay Bicycle Club album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong in my inbox for a couple of weeks. I have so much love for the band and their music and it has been utter joy to have an early listen, or two, or twenty... It's finally out in the world now, so go and listen. And then come back here. Or read on, and then listen. But do listen - it's an incredibly triumphant return for the band and I simply adore it.


Let's rewind first. Back in 2014, just after I'd first moved to Oxford to study, I finally got to see Bombay live. The last ever show at London's Earls Court, with Peace and Sivu supporting and appearances from Dave Gilmour, Rae Morris and Lucy Rose. The band were touring So Long, See You Tomorrow which had just earned them their first number one, and the show was their biggest to date - it was euphoric. A few months later, they decided to break up. Frontman Jack Steadman reflects that it felt like the right moment to step back and pursue other projects, saying that "it's so much easier to stop when you can call it quits and know you were at the top [...] I think if we had gone any longer, we may have broken up in such a way that we might not have ever been able to return to it." In the few years that followed, Jack released a collaborative album as mr jukes, bassist Ed Nash released a record as Toothless, drummer Suren de Saram hit the road as a session drummer, and guitarist Jamie MacColl went to university, getting himself a BA and a masters. Then, as the ten year anniversary of debut album I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose started to loom, the band spoke about playing some shows to celebrate. Jack recalls thinking "we can't come back and play an old album and disappear again." And so, plans began to form.

Almost exactly a year ago, seemingly out of nowhere, and to much joy from me and fans all over the world, Bombay shared a time-lapse video in the studio to social media. The video came alongside this message: "since late last year, we've been getting back into the swing of playing music together. We were initially a little rusty but also nostalgic playing songs that have been around since we were teenagers. More than anything it just felt great to be in the same room playing again. It made us realise what a good thing we have and has given us renewed energy and enthusiasm for the future. The joy we were getting out of playing the old songs seemed to naturally lead us onto working on new material, so we're becoming immersed in that as we speak. Hopefully it won't be too long before we have something new for you guys to hear. [...] We've missed you." 

Hold the phone.

Suddenly, everything felt a little better with the world. Even the idea of just one new track or some one-off shows was ridiculously exciting. Bombay were back and all was good with the world, even if it wasn't. So an entire album? They're spoiling us.

Last Summer, before the album had been announced, I was lucky to score tickets to see the band play one of their first shows back in Islington's 900 (ish) capacity Assembly Hall. It was the sweatiest, most joyous evening of live music that I've experienced in a while. Almost transcendent. The band tore through a setlist with tracks from their entire back catalogue, and you'd hardly know that they'd been away. The best part was seeing the utter joy on the band member's faces - they'd had some time out, and it was certainly the right thing to do, but they were back playing live with their best pals and it felt brilliant.



To kick off the album process, Jack and Ed took themselves to a friend's house in Cornwall, spending a week there each month for the first half of 2019, working on demos separately and coming together to go through them. This time around there was an exciting first for the band - two tracks on the record were written or co-written by Ed. Jack explains that "I think that's a nice example of things being different [...] of how us all going and doing own own thing has benefitted the band [...] because I think Ed probably had songs up his sleeve all this time, but doing a solo album has given him the confidence to share them." It is worth mentioning that both tracks, Good Day and People People, are brilliant. The latter was co-written with the band's long-time collaborator and touring member Liz Lawrence, who sings on the track. Elsewhere, singer/songwriter Billie Marten lends her gorgeous vocals to closing track Racing Stripes.


From the beginning, the band were certain that they didn't want to produce the new record themselves. "Having someone else come in was a way of pushing us slightly out of our comfort zone", Jack explains. On Nash's suggestion they brought in John Congleton (Wild Beasts, St Vincent) and spent just three weeks in LA recording the album with him, often recording tracks in just one or two takes, new territory for the band. Jack describes it as "the least sanitised record we've ever made [...] the album sounds a lot looser, in a good way, than our other albums, which can be very machine-like. I feel like I've relaxed, and chilled out a bit. There was less time spent on the computer. We recorded Good Day, which Ed wrote, all playing together in the room. I was looking around being like, ah, it's us four again. It was a sweet moment." 

The result is a record which is a true return to form. It's Bombay as we love them, yet fresh and new, with the experiences of the last few years, both musically and personally, feeding directly into the record in the lyrics and sound. They're back and they're still just as brilliant and this record is worth the six year wait. The album's theme is perhaps best found in the title track, the last to be written for the album. A track about hope and renewal and finding safety in what brings you comfort while everything is falling apart, the chorus repeats "keep the stereo on, everything else has gone wrong." Jack explains that "for my whole life, I haven't been very good at expressing myself with words. The irony is that the song is about not wanting to write lyrics, but it has lyrics I'm really proud of. And after that, we realised a lot of the other songs had that theme, of music as a cathartic refuge." I for one will be clinging to this record this year to deliver me hope in the moments when it is needed.


While they were often writing about relationships and about being teenagers the first time time around, Jamie explains that the new record is lyrically quite a departure. "The songs are quite direct and personal [...] about companionship, about trying to find your place in the world, all these things we never really touched upon before. All of our friends are struggling with that next stage in life" (some sweet synchronicity with Liz Lawrence's track None Of My Friends there.)

As the first track to be shared after the hiatus, single Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You) has to remain one of the highlights of the record for me. It's the track you arrive at if you squish everything you love about Bombay into 3 minutes and 40 seconds. Classic Bombay, but new. Suren recalls a moment where he was "playing the demo to a mate of mine, in my car, and as soon as it came on, he had a big smile on his face. It felt like we were back. [...] There was an element of not knowing what you've got til it's gone, and taking things for granted, which we definitely were. Having spent some time apart, we realised how special and meaningful it was to all of us, in our own way. We're much more appreciative now." The message is echoed in the humorous video for the track, directed by ex touring member Louis Bhose.


Elsewhere on the record, from the first listen to the (alright... I've lost count already), favourite parts for me are the passionate conclusion of Let You Go, the catchy interludes in I Worry Bout You (I've been humming that one at work for the past couple of weeks) and how glorious and majestic Do You Feel Loved? is. The latter's writing is a rarity for Jack, a track on contemporary culture: "it is about technology, and how we're all desperate for affirmation, refreshing our phones to look for people to love us and to get likes." 

Lyrically, Good Day stuck out to me from the first listen. The chorus repeats "I just wanna have a good day, and it's only me that's standing in my way" and is followed by the heartbreaking "first my looks and now my friends, day by day I'm losing them." It is one of the darker parts of the record, with the harmonies and guitar riff creating a bit of contrast. Written by Ed, he describes that "it perfectly summed up how I'd been feeling for the year or two prior to that. I was having a hard time on a day to day basis, and I'd be like, fuck this, why am I doing music, I should get a real job. I realised there were bigger problems than the ones that were surmountable. You're in charge. If you want to have a good day, you're the master of your destiny." 

After the punchy conclusion of Let You Go the album comes to a peaceful close with Racing Stripes. It represents a writing breakthrough, arriving after a brief period in Cornwall when Jack was finding it difficult to write. Jamie describes it as the first song we've done where I feel you could have a lighter in the air and sing along to it." On the record more generally, he adds "I find this album to be so much more positive than anything we've done before. It is inherently optimistic about what's next." 

What's next? A huge string of tour dates around the UK, Europe, the US and Canada, that's what. Remaining tickets available here.


That's it. I'll stop rambling now - well done if you made it this far. Now, go and listen to the magnificent new record, buy it, tell Bombay just how brilliant they are. Enjoy.

Follow Bombay Bicycle Club - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday, 16 January 2020

WATCH: Wilsen - 'Feeling Fancy'

Late night submission inbox trawling led me to this brilliant new track from Wilsen. The Brooklyn-based trio release their upcoming album Ruiner via Dalliance Recordings on 21st February. Feeling Fancy is the second single to be taken from the record, and while they frankly had me at the use of a green screen in the video (easily pleased) I'm actually finding the lyrical content of the track is really resonating with me.

Vocalist Tamsin Wilson describes it as "a song for the soft-spoken [...] quietness can be mistaken for insecurity while it's often the opposite - it's being comfortably in your own presence without needing to be heard at every moment." About the album more generally, she adds that "making this record was somewhat of a coming of age process [...] we're getting older and becoming more deliberate, less precious, less measured. Overthinking less and trusting instincts more."


Follow Wilsen - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

LISTEN: Easy Life - 'Junk Food'

Unless you've been hiding somewhere without access to new music for a couple of years, you'll have surely come across Leicester five-piece Easy Life. Releasing big tune after big tune from the get-go they've been getting the (deserved) attention of all sorts of tastemakers, performing to a packed out tend at last year's Glastonbury, appearing on Later... with Jools Holland and most recently narrowly missing out on the BBC Music Sound of 2020 accolade to Celeste. They're kicking off 2020 with your new favourite mixtape, Junk Food. It's seriously really really brilliant - acquaint yourself below.



When I took my first listen to the mixtape on Friday I had an instant favourite from the previously unheard tracks. Having stalked their social media a little bit since, it's become clear that the track has actually been released since November (my bad) BUT I'm still adoring it. Sangria features Arlo Parks, who I've been seeing on lots of 2020 lists (she was nominated in the BBC Music Sound of 2020 alongside the band) and have been meaning to check out. Arlo and frontman Murray's vocals blend together beautifully on this one and I'm loving the simple video for the track. I loved the track so much that it went straight on my 2020 playlist alongside Gengahr, White Tail Falls and more on Friday...


Follow Easy Life - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

LISTEN: Everything Everything - 'Live with The No​.​6 Orchestra' EP

With their superb latest album A Fever Dream released back in August 2017, Everything Everything have been teasing us a new record via a series of studio photos on Instagram for the past few weeks. I absolutely can't wait to hear what they've been working on, but consider my huge need for new music from the band met - for the moment - with a stunning stripped back EP that they've recently shared online. Featuring rarely performed tracks from across their catalogue, the EP was recorded live in Portmerion at Festival No.6 in September 2018, a special collaboration with arranger and composer Joe Duddell and the No.6 Ensemble. Alongside the rarer tunes, the EP finishes up with one of my favourite songs the band have released, No Reptiles, taken from the record Get To Heaven. It's basically a big old stunner and you should all listen pronto.



You can listen to the Live with The No.6 Orchestra EP and download (for free or as much as you want to pay) via Bandcamp here.

Follow Everything Everything - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 13 January 2020

WATCH: Beach Bunny - 'Cloud 9'

With their last single sitting amongst my list of tracks to write about at the end of last year and falling victim to my 2020 inbox refresh (much needed) I was delighted to see a brand new Beach Bunny track fall into my inbox recently. Cloud 9 is the third single taken from the US four-piece's upcoming debut record Honeymoon, due for release on 14th Feb (romantic, eh?!) via Mom+Pop. There's a heartwarming animated video created by Margaret Bialis to watch too.

Lili Trifilio explains of the new track that she "sought out to write a true, gushy, genuine love song [...] at the time I was at a questionable point in my relationship and I was reflecting on the last few years and how despite the ups and downs, love held us together. I hope that anyone who listens to this song can feel the love in the lyrics and give love a chance, as well as remember to always love themselves first and foremost."


Beach Bunny just announced their first ever European dates, with shows in Glasgow (The Hug and Pint, 7th June), Manchester (YES, 8th) and London (Boston Music Room, 10th) - tickets available here.

Follow Beach Bunny - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday, 10 January 2020

LISTEN: White Tail Falls - 'Disintegrate'

Time for a premiere, kind of... this one's been out in the world all day, but if you've not had the pleasure of listening to it yet, let me introduce you. White Tail Falls is an exciting new and slightly mysterious project from one of my favourite humans. Having released debut single Give It Up, Son towards the end of 2019, he's today shared brand new track Disintegrate and it's absolutely sublime. It's a gorgeously ambient track, with Irwin's vocals sitting atop a delicate and pulsing blend of strings, guitar and piano, with drum beats and synths building throughout.

In its various guises, Irwin's music has soundtracked much of my life so a brand new project is all kinds of exciting and I genuinely can't wait to hear more - luckily, he's announced details of debut album Age Of Entitlement, which is due for release on March 6th via Physical Education Records.


With his epic songwriting skills on show with this one, talking about the track, Irwin explains that "I was thinking about bloodlines and procreation and how we think we've got power over it when the decision is ultimately out of our hands [...] over-thinking about the family I'm from and the family I hadn't started and the implications of having kids or not and remembering the love I do have in my life, to go skipping into the apocalypse with. It became a bit of an existential love song." 

What's that? You want tour dates. That's lucky - White Tail Falls head out on a UK headline tour through March and April, dates below. I hear that if you save the track on Spotify here, you'll be entered with a chance to win two tickets to a show of your choice. Who doesn't love a freebie.

19th March: Head Of Steam, Newcastle
20th: The Poetry Club, Glasgow
21st: Royal Park Cellars, Leeds
26th: St Pancras Old Church, London
27th: The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
1st April: Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
2nd: Night People, Manchester
3rd: The Bodega, Nottingham

Follow White Tail Falls - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.