Monday, 13 November 2017

WATCH: BE GOOD - 'Nightbus'

Following up their debut tune Not Waking Up and the recent (and totally smooth) It's Cool but It Ain't You, BE GOOD are back with Nightbus and Hazelnut, two new tunes which they're releasing through the Communion Singles Club. As an Oxford band I've got a soft spot for them which has only increased with the new video for Nightbus, featuring some familiar parts of the city which I love and miss terribly - most notably The Library music venue on Cowley Road, where I booked my first gig with Little Mammoths almost two years ago! The video premiered recently on The Independent, with the band telling them in a Q&A that the rest of the year involves recording for an EP release early next year - I'm very pleased to hear that! 

You can catch the band in London at the end of the month (30th) supporting Cousin Kula at Servant Jazz Quarters, or if you're in Oxford, they're headlining at The Cellar for Future Perfect alongside Magique on December 14th.  

Follow BE GOOD online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

LIVE: Low Island & Friends at Corsica Studios (8/11/17)

"We don't usually do an encore, but this is a special occasion." The truest words ever spoken, which were met with raucous applause at the first of Low Island's back to back sold out shows at Corsica Studios on Wednesday. It's been just over a year since the band put out their first track Anywhere, which was at the time celebrated with a sold out show at Sebright Arms. Fast forward to this April and a sold out night at Electrowerkz, and you start to see the impressive trajectory the band have taken in such a short space of time. With a couple of EPs released along the way and sets at various festivals this Summer (including The Great Escape where I finally caught them live), this all built up to the Low Island and Friends tour.

Doing just what it says on the tin the tour has been an opportunity for the band to collaborate with various creatives in the towns that they've been visiting - and for the lucky London crowd on Wednesday evening, this meant not only two support bands (Ilk and Our Mother) but two unique performance pieces. The band wrote that "working with people from across the artistic spectrum for this tour has been an incredibly fun and eye-opening experience for us. For the Corsica Studios shows next week, we've collaborated with the designer Shawn Soh, movement director Sara Green and dancers Hae Yon Lim, Aishwarya Raut, Chloe Brazinskas and Sara Kaspersen on a piece that explores the difficulties of growing up in the digital age. There's also going to be a fantastic performance art piece called 'Outburst', devised by Gary Stevens." The different performances, some of which took place within the crowd, kept us on our toes and prepared us for what was to come!

Moments after taking to the stage and beginning their first track, the volume of the bass caused a power cut. As technical difficulties go, it's pretty rock and roll. After a lot of switching on and off again all was sorted, and the band started the first song from the beginning as if nothing had happened - I'm not sure anyone would have any complaints about hearing the first half of the song again! They quickly got into the swing of things, delivering a set full of incredible tunes that make even the worst dancers among us want to bust out some moves. They treated us to tunes from the In This Room EP including the brilliant tracks That Kind Of Love, Holding It Down, as well as recent single The Lines, and they even let us in on some entirely new tunes which got just as fantastic a reception from the audience. Throughout the set it was clear just how happy  the band were to be playing for us, and how grateful and surprised they were that we were all there, which always makes for a lovely atmosphere at a show! As well as being pretty wonderful musically, they're four lovely chaps who deserve all the superb opportunities which will continue to be created for them - since the show, they've been announced as BBC Introducing in Oxford's 'Act of the Year 2017' - an amazing achievement!

Low Island have just announced an Oxford headline show at The Cellar for local promoters Future Perfect on 27th Jan - find all the info and ticket links here!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

LISTEN: Fil Bo Riva - 'Head Sonata (Love Control)'

With various other commitments outside of the blog, I (like most music bloggers) have far too little time to listen to all of the tracks that I'm sent to review, but very often find complete gems in my inbox. Rewind to last August and I had one of those moments, discovering the incredibly talented Fil Bo Riva, a half-Italian, half-Irish, Berlin-based musician whose debut single Like Eye Did I instantly fell in love with. Fast forward to May this year and The Great Escape Festival, where I braved the pouring down rain and ventured to a hotel on the Brighton seafront to catch him playing an incredible set to an adoring crowd. I've listened to his If You're Alright, It's Alright EP on a fairly regular basis since the festival and I'm particularly in love with the tune Franzis!

It's been over a year since the EP was released and I was excited (and a little nervous) to find a new tune from Fil and the gang in my inbox. Growing from a solo project into a duo and now a four-piece band, they have had a very busy year, performing at gigs and festivals across Europe, whilst finding time for frontman Fil to head back to the studio consistently to work on their debut album with producer Robert Stephenson. Taking my first listen of the single, seconds into the track my worries were banished - it's just as much of a tune as the EP and an impressive, upbeat and playful taste of what's to come, as the first single from the upcoming album. Fil describes beautifully that “if the EP was a photograph of an idea, what we are trying to create with the album is an actual movie. I’m not trying to sound romantic but it’s like accumulating different pictures and feelings… and we all worship the album format, that’s why we want to take the time to shape it properly.”

Talking about the birth of this new single, he says that “the title “Head Sonata“ was just meant to be a name placeholder at the start. The song was built around the chorus guitar riff and the first time I heard Felix [A. Remm] play it, I felt my head spinning and it immediately gave me a trippy and repetitive feeling. A few minutes later I had the title written down. I simply liked the sound of it. These two words somehow translated my imagination of the songs soundscape… And since the track didn’t have any lyrics nor a melody for the first few months, the word ‘sonata’, literally meaning a piece played, actually suited the song very good. Finally, a breeze of inspiration came to my mind, I wrote down the lyrics and the song was finished. A “Head Sonata” was born.”

Fil Bo Riva will support Milky Chance across their European and UK tour before heading back to Berlin to finish work on the album (hoorah!) Then they're heading back on the road for a headline tour of Europe in 2018, where they will be premiering new material from the debut album, taking in a show at London's Sebright Arms on 17th April.

Follow Fil Bo Riva online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

VIDEO PREMIERE: Hazey Jane - 'Mother's Lie'

"Hackney based, harmony driven and easily confused." That's the pretty concise description of Hazey Jane that you'll find if you head to their Facebook page, surely enough to entice you in? They're a folk-indie quartet from London and they've just followed up their Us On A Wire EP with the brilliant new single Mother's Lie (their debut single, in fact, released through Animal Farm.) I've seen them performing live a few times this year at various Tigmus shows, including a headline gig in Oxford and this has been my favourite track from their live set each time so I'm chuffed that they've released it and I'm proud to be premiering the video for the track, directed by Liam Egan.

You can catch Hazey Jane live in London at legendary venue The George Tavern for Tigmus on 9th December alongside Richard Morris and Lewis McKale - tickets here, and perhaps they'll throw in a Christmas tune?!

Follow Hazey Jane online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

WATCH: The Staves & yMusic - Trouble On My Mind

It's never a bad thing when The Staves treat us to new music, and they're not disappointing with the incredibly soothing Trouble On My Mind. They recorded the track with New York based chamber ensemble yMusic, whose strings delicately mirror the beautiful vocals of the trio. Consider my interest well and truly peaked as the collaboration stretches to an entire record, entitled The Way Is Read, which is released digitally on November 24th and as a limited edition vinyl on December 1st. Take a listen to the new tune below and get pre-ordering!

Follow The Staves online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

LISTEN: Crooked Weather - 'Rabbit Holes'

Crooked Weather are an East-Yorkshire based alternative folk four-piece, playing "earthy, unruly and original folk songs" hinged around the beautiful harmonies of Holly Blackshaw and Will Bladen. After being away touring the USA, Ireland, New Zealand and France, the band are back with new single Rabbit Holes, their first new material in two years. What starts as a quiet and harmonic song builds towards a cracking guitar solo, and it's sure to be a favourite for fans of the likes of First Aid KitThe Staves and Laura Marling.

Follow Crooked Weather online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 30 October 2017

LIVE: Public Service Broadcasting at Hammersmith Apollo (27/10/17)

On Thursday night I headed to Hammersmith Apollo for the closing night of the Public Service Broadcasting UK tour, promoting their latest record Every Valley. Based on a short set I saw them play for the Music Venues Trust last year at the Roundhouse, their Live In Brixton album and my extensive listening of all three studio records I had pretty high expectations and they certainly delivered. Alongside The Maccabees at Alexandra Palace in June, the Stornoway farewell shows in March, The Hoosiers anniversary gigs this month and Bear's Den at the Apollo back in April the gig has certainly made it's mark as one of my favourites of the year! 

After a delay getting into the venue I missed some of the opening set from Londoners Palace who released their debut album So Long Forever last year (listen here) but I enjoyed what I did manage to catch! It may be because I was seated and not thrown into the set as I would normally be from the front of the crowd, but it felt fairly relaxed and not quite as full on as support sets can so easily become, and I was able to actually listen to the lyrics and they proved a lovely warm-up for what was to come!

After a quick turn around the Public Service Broadcasting chaps took to the stage (but not before a friendly reminder to only use mobile phones with respect to those around you - which could certainly do with being said at most gigs!) Opening up with the first two tracks of the latest record I was instantly bowled over and reminded why I love the band so much. If you're new to them, their bio reads that "J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth sample old public information films and archive material and set them to new music. Live, the films are screened simultaneously as laptops are fiddled with, drums are pounded, theremins are wafted at, guitars are bashed and banjos furiously plucked. Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future.

As the band took us through a set of tracks from all three records (including fan favourites Gagarin, GO! and Spitfire) it struck me just how well thought out (and executed) each element of the show was. The light show was really impressive and the stunning visuals elevated the tunes to a whole other level. Keys player Mr. B, who doubles up as the band's set designer and 'visuals chap' is in charge of the visuals and did a cracking job, with screens across the stage showing a mix of handheld live shots of the band and archive footage (often that from which the audio for the tracks has been taken.)

In the absence of vocals on the most part, the focus is on the musical capabilities of the band much more than in the majority of concerts, and each member of the band proved to be a total genius - each taking on multiple instruments and contributing to a truly impressive sound. They were helped along for most tracks by their brass ensemble The Brassy Gents who brought yet more cheer to the evening while helping to make it sound even better too. With their latest record being the first to feature collaborations with vocalists, they also called on various artists to help on particular tracks. Instrumental trio Haiku Salut joined them for They Gave Me A Lamp and delivered some beautiful harmonies, and in a particularly noteworthy moment of the show, Lisa Jên Brown joined them to perform You + Me, a track which she duets on with PSB's J. Willgoose Esq. Despite his anxieties about playing a quieter track to kick off the encore, the crowd were entirely behind him as he delivered both a beautifully delicate (and rare) vocal and a more beautiful still guitar solo.

As if all of that weren't enough, after promising two more tracks, thanking the various members of the band and performing first album hit Everest (confetti cannons included) the band welcomed the Beaufort Male Choir to the stage to perform Take Me Home, the closing track of Every Valley. With the various members of PSB jumping off stage to watch from the barrier it was a really emotional and fitting moment to close the final night of the UK tour, and the choir got one of the biggest cheers I've probably ever heard at a concert of that size. Absolutely crazy and beautiful scenes which were thankfully captured by a member of the crowd here!

To summarise - long may Public Service Broadcasting reign. Since being introduced to their first album by a friend back in 2014 I've been fairly besotted with their tunes and they certainly do not disappoint in the live environment. Reflecting on the show to write this review I've become instantly desperate to see the band again so I hope that it's not long before they're back touring the UK! I've also realised a new life goal of being pals with the band and getting to witness some of what goes into making their records as my admiration and fascination towards them has increased massively!