Thursday, 24 May 2018

LIVE: Nick Mulvey at Royal Albert Hall (22/5/18)

It's no secret that I adore (and in a way, idolise) the work of the wonderful folk at Communion Music (the record label, promoter and publisher), and seeing their Nick Mulvey headline show at the rather huge Royal Albert Hall in London earlier this week was a total joy. Not least because back in 2014 his show at O2 Academy Oxford (with my fave Sivu in support) was both my first Communion gig and the first gig I ever went to by myself - the start of something brilliant!

I've seen Nick play a couple of times since then at Bushstock Festival (he headlined gloriously last year) but this was by far the biggest and most ambitious show so far, the closing evening of his UK tour promoting second record Wake Up Now. After a set from TT (AKA Warpaint's guitarist Theresa Wayman) warmed up the crowd rather brilliantly, Nick took to the stage alone, casually strolling out and surveying the crowd to rounds of raucous applause. There was an almost palpable and mutual level of respect between himself and the audience, as applause turned to silence (from, I can only assume, sheer amazement) as he began to play We Are Never Apart


Gazing out at the crowd a few songs in and asking "Shall we have a good night?" before declaring that "this is the coolest thing" it was clear that Nick was pretty astounded by the evening, but he oozed confidence and seemed completely at home on the stage. Mirroring this, his tunes felt like they belonged in such a venue. Last week, he shared part of a short film online where he talked about the pressure that a London gig could bring and feeling liberated from it, and in the same vein, from the idea of making music for anybody else, concluding that "there is a kind of uncertain but definitely satisfying future out there if you just do what you wanna do in the way you wanna do it" - something that I think a lot of us could take something from.

The performance ventured through songs old and new and while the quieter tunes, encouraging a level of silent wonderment from the audience, were great, it was the powerful sing-alongs that became highlights for me. Cucurucu was given a repeated first verse and closing tune Mountain To Move had everybody up on their feet but the stand out for me was perhaps Nick's biggest tune Fever To The Form, which had everybody holding their phone torches aloft and made for a bit of a tearjerker. As the first few notes rang around the venue, a slight murmur of applause erupted from the more seasoned fans, to which Nick reacted "I love this song" before describing his first time playing the tune in his old house in Clapton, and telling us that "I really fucking cried my eyes out you know." Glad to know I'm not the only one!


A refreshing part of the show was to note differences from the studio recordings... very often you go to a concert only for the band to perfectly replicate their album live, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you enjoy the recorded music, but changing it up is always welcome and helps to keep the live experience worthwhile. This difference was particularly obvious in the opening of Remembering, a track where the studio version features some fairly prominent female vocals. For this tour, Nick's set up was notably simple for such large venues with just himself, Dan See on drums and Nick Pini on bass and keys, but the band managed to fill the space beautifully, with Nick's soulful vocals carrying around the room. It would've been nice to have some female vocals though - but that's about as far as I can go with criticising the show, because in every other aspect it was a complete joy to witness. 

During the show, Nick informed us that "this is a folk gig by the way" as if checking that we were all aware of exactly what we'd signed up for, before covering Bob Dylan's I Was Young When I Left Home. While some covers can be a little throwaway, it was clear that the track meant something to him, and he dedicated it to friends at the show who he hadn't seen enough while busy touring over the past few years. The show itself was huge but felt intimate with Nick talking of his friends, dedicating the beautiful tune Unconditional to his wife Isadora and with him speaking of his spiritual beliefs and of the difficult experiences his family have faced over the last year. All of this seemed to feed into genuine appreciation and gratitude towards each and every one of the audience as he gazed around the room at the end of the show, as well as to his band and crew, and he was paid back in powerful rounds of applause. I'd say that this wasn't a show that Nick and his team, or the audience, will be forgetting in a while.

If you missed it - check out Nick's new Dancing For The Answers EP here

Follow Nick Mulvey online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

INTERVIEW: Hazey Jane

It was a joy to catch up with the wonderful Hazey Jane chaps this weekend at The Great Escape. They're launching their new Lifeboat EP with a show at The George Tavern this Friday (last few tickets for that here) - I'm loving the title track which they released last week, especially the acoustic video I've embedded below! Check out my interview with the band below and keep an ear out for the EP this Friday. 


Hello! First up, introductions. Who are Hazey Jane and how did the band first form?

Hello! We are Bobby, Laurent, Connor and Paul. When in the same room, we make harmony driven, indie-folk tunes and work out. None of us work out. The band met at University in Southampton although Bob and Laurent started crafting Green Day enthused post-punk hits when they were 14.

From the name it’s clear that the likes of Nick Drake may have an influence on you - who else influences you as a band?

Nick Drake was indeed the greatest influence on our songwriting growing up. We emerged into our twenties from the particularly melancholy but inspiring haze he cast over so many Folksters of our generation. We place John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, Judee Sill, CSNY (the list goes on) on the same pedestal, but Hazeyjane-Solidair-Blue just wasn’t snappy enough. Recently, the careers of Ben Howard, Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling have offered a lot of motivation and insight. Seeing bands like Bon Iver & War On Drugs live has certainly steered us too.


I was honoured to premiere the video for your brilliant tune Mother’s Lie back in November (and it proved quite the hit on the blog - it’s the fourth most viewed post on there!) What’s been happening in the world of Hazey Jane since then?

Fourth? Who’re those other three punks? Thank you for helping us get it out there! Hearing that people respond to any of our songs is a massive privilege and keeps us plugging away. Since November, HJ released Mirror View (our second single) - we played a sold out launch show for that one which was incredible. We recently got our mitts on a keyboard so have been writing a bunch of new tunes on that. Otherwise we’ve been keeping it real, preparing for our EP release and looking forward to a busy old Summer.

Your new Lifeboat EP is due for release this Friday - how does it feel to finally get it out into the world? How did the writing and recording process for this EP compare to that of your 2016 EP Us On A Wire?

Really quite good yeah. This collection of songs means a huge amount to us and we can’t wait to get them out there in the open. Us On A Wire was a folk EP. We recorded each song live with the help of two phenomenal engineers and mixed using analogue gear that we had no right to access. Lifeboat is our first step towards a bigger sound. We organically went for bolder chorus’s during the writing process and Jamie Dodd at The Animal Farm did a sublime job making the best of those in the studio. We owe him alot for the soundscape on the first three tracks. Rees Broomfield and Edd Thomas worked wonders on Grow and Losing My Mind respectively. We’re very fortunate to be working with such talented people throughout the production process.

You’re launching the new EP with a launch show at London’s George Tavern this Friday - what can people expect from the gig? (Beyond the brilliant support acts Me and the Moon and Dessie Magee!)

We couldn’t have hoped for stronger openers than Me and the Moon and Dessie, they’re both doing brilliantly at the moment and we can’t wait for their sets on Friday. We’ll be playing tunes from our acoustic, harmony driven catalogue before delving into heftier instrumentals and of course all the tracks from the new EP! The keys will be in tow so everyone will get a taste of the music we’ve been piecing together very recently … there might even be a couple of surprises in there.


What else do you have planned for Summer beyond this gig - any exciting festival appearances?!

We’ve got a couple of great festival opportunities this Summer. The absolute cream of the crop will be our headline set on The Den stage at Cambridge Folk Festival, where we’ll be sharing the bill with John Prine, First Aid Kit and Patti Smith. It’s always been an important festival for British Folk music and we’re very fortunate to be invited in. We’ll be at Greenbelt Festival in August too, another huge weekend with a couple of stonking headliners. Principally Pussy Riot! In terms of the very near future, we’re really excited to be at Hope Festival on Sunday 27th May! These are all firsts for us so we’re genuinely happy to be playing.

Talking of festivals… it was lovely to catch you for the first time in almost a year at The Great Escape last week in Brighton. What else did you get up to down at the seaside? Tell me some Hazey Jane go-to things to do when you’re playing shows out of town!

What a weekend. TGE was so much fun on Saturday, we played East Street Tap where we discovered top band after top band. Great to see our label mates Little Brother Eli live for the first time, they were sublime. We also played at The Brighton Fringe the following day, Dessie Magee was running a stage there so it was great to catch up with him. We stayed in Hastings overnight, classic fish and chips on the beach Sunday morning (Pam’s Chippy, represent). Fell asleep by the sea, woke up beetroot red. Plenty of beer garden action … I’m afraid the rest of the bands activities were far too moronic to elaborate here.

Finally, who’s in your headphones at the minute, who should I be listening to? If I could recommend you one EP at the moment it would be Franc Moody with ‘Dance Moves’ - 31 minutes of pure funk.

Too right, that is 31 mins of pure funk. You aren't lying! Right now we’re gladly accepting each installment of the new Ben Howard album as it comes. Three gorgeous songs so far, cannot wait to hear the whole thing.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

WATCH: Banfi - 'Future' live at RAK Studios

New Banfi content is always a treat - this time it comes in the shape of the first clip from a live session for Communion at RAK Studios. The track is Future, taken from the recent (and of course brilliant) The Jack Powell EP which I wholeheartedly recommend checking out if you haven't yet. You can listen to that here. The live session is below, and fairly wonderful, as I've come to expect from the Banfi chaps!


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Monday, 21 May 2018

LISTEN: Nick Mulvey releases 'Dancing For The Answers' EP

The total star Nick Mulvey is back with Dancing For The Answers, a collection of four new tracks, his first release since last year's second studio album Wake Up Now. The release coincide with Nick's current UK tour, which finishes up with a show at the rather momentous Royal Albert Hall tomorrow evening (22nd May) - the last few tickets for that are here. Despite being a four track EP, the tracks are pretty epic and stretch to twenty four beautiful minutes of everything you've come to expect from Nick... those stunning lyrics, vocals and intricate guitar patterns, but there are some surprises thrown in for good measure too (listen out at around 7:30 in the title track of the EP.)



The first two tracks were recorded with Nick's long-standing collaborator and producer Dan Carey, in a week's work at his South London studio last May, where, Nick describes "we abandoned our planned schedule in favour of voyages into jams unknown [...] the results surprised us both and are two of the most precious tracks either of us feel we've ever made. A significant detail for me was the setting aside of my usual acoustic guitar in favour of a Mya-Moe baritone ukulele that I play on both tracks." 

The title track appears on the record Wake Up Now lyrically as Transform Your Game but has here itself been transformed musically, and Give It To Kali samples one of Nick's heroes, Ram Dass. Nick details that "Ram Dass' words about offering your struggles to the goddess Kali (who feeds from our impurities and our negativity) spoke to me powerfully and I'm honoured to use them in this track." 

The EPs other two tracks emerged from the Wake Up Now album sessions of October 2016 at the legendary Real World Studios in Wiltshire with Ethan Johns in the production seat. They're far more reminiscent of the second record in their style, with Nick describing"collaborative playing from the group of musicians and friends I assembled there at the time" but all four tracks come together to make a beautiful EP. 

Follow Nick Mulvey online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Little Brother Eli - 'Our Kind Of Love'

At the risk of repeating myself, it's worth mentioning again that Little Brother Eli are one of my favourite musical discoveries from the last few years, and one of the loveliest bands I've had the pleasure of making friends with through my time in Oxford for university. I've just had the most incredible few days at The Great Escape volunteering and seeing the likes of Superorganism, The Magic Gang, Gengahr and tons more - I'll write about it in a separate post soon - and the LBE chaps closed out the festival brilliantly (much like last year when they were headlining our Tigmus stage). They've just shared their new track Our Kind Of Love, check it out below, and check out my interview with the band about the track and their plans for the Summer here!


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Friday, 18 May 2018

LISTEN: Gizmo Varillas - 'One People'

I discovered Gizmo Varillas a couple of years back as he shares the same management as Jack Savoretti and has played various support slots alongside him. Though now based in London, Gizmo is a Spanish singer-songwriter who released his debut record El Dorado last year. Not one to shy away from the musical spotlight, however, he's back with second record Dreaming Of Better Days due for release on 6th July (pre-order the record here.)



Check out the latest single from the album, One People, below - I'm hoping to catch Gizmo this evening as he's playing at The Great Escape! He's got some more UK shows coming up, including a London headline show this Monday - find all the dates and ticket info here.

Follow Gizmo Varillas online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

LISTEN: Greta Isaac - 'Undone'

Exploring the boundary between percussive and electronic, Undone is Greta Isaac's first single of the year, a strong return following recent tunes Tied and Comfortable. Though I recognise her name from years back when Greta performed with fellow Welsh musicians The People The Poet, this new single is my first introduction to Greta's solo music and I'm really enjoying it. Writing of the track in a premiere for Earmilk, Greta writes that "'Undone' is a character who adores to be adored and sees people as fun challenges to be pursued, where the goal is to make them fall in love with you where the feelings will never be reciprocated."



Follow Greta Isaac online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

WATCH: Nick Mulvey - 'In Your Hands'

Nick Mulvey returning to the live stage as a headliner at Bushstock Festival last year, premiering some beautiful new tunes and just being his generally wonderful self was a highlight of the year for me. It was a total joy to be part of the crowd, and the atmosphere was incredible. He released his second record Wake Up Now back in September, somehow matching the beauty of first record First Mind. A highlight of the record is In Your Hands and the track has recently been given a beautifully simple music video - writing of it, Nick explains that "I wanted something raw and playful and intimate. Loosey goosey, lo-fi mixed media and fun to make." Check it out!


If you like what you're hearing, Nick Mulvey heads out on tour in the UK this month. All dates except the Royal Albert Hall are sold out - grab tickets for that show (which I predict to be pretty magnificent) here.

Follow Nick Mulvey online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

WATCH: Jungle - 'Happy Man'

I was a little late to the Jungle party, discovering them a few months back when I heard the single Busy Earnin' on an advert. I raced to Shazam to find out what I was listening to and checked out their self-titled record which was released back in 2014, and really enjoyed it. They've just completed a UK tour with my favourite Rae Morris (all kinds of gutted that I didn't manage to get along to a show) and recently shared two brand new tunes. Both tracks are incredibly strong, a really positive sign of what's to come from the duo's upcoming second album - my personal preference is the upbeat Happy Man (likely as it's the closest of the two to Busy Earnin') which you can listen to below, while House In LA is the slower of the two, almost cinematic, a showcase of their falsetto vocals.

You can also check out Happy Man on the blog's 2018 Spotify playlist here - get following for my favourite tunes through the year!


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LISTEN: Dawes - 'Living In The Future / Crack The Case'

I've been a big fan of Dawes since I caught them supporting Mumford & Sons back in 2012 in Nottingham - their first two records had me hooked instantly with tunes like When My Times Comes, A Little Bit Of Everything and Fire Away and I adored their set at the show. Since then, they've released three more incredible records and I've been lucky to see them play live four more times in London, three of which were across one slightly whirlwind weekend in 2016 (which I wrote about here at the time) where I made a friend in the audience of a show at Islington Assembly Hall, and attended two acoustic shows with her the following day. I met the band that weekend and my love for them was well and truly cemented if it hadn't been already, and so the wait for the next UK shows started...

It seems that the wait may soon be over (once the band get through a US tour supporting the mighty Electric Light Orchestra, no less...) as they've recently announced the follow up to 2016 record We're All Gonna Die. Their sixth studio album Passwords is due for release on June 22nd (my birthday week - what a treat!) and it's lead single is the punchy Living In The Future, which you can check out below... the music video features a dog at the end, which is always a good thing!


It's a cracking music video and I'm enjoying the track - one of the best things about the band is that they're continually evolving, bringing changes to their sound between records, keeping it fresh, exciting and usually completely brilliant. If Crack The Case, the track shared alongside the single is anything to go by, the record is going to be just as great as everything that has come before. While less of a song and dance has been made about second track it is in my opinion the better of the two, a laid back ballad showcasing the sublime songwriting skills of Taylor Goldsmith, that I believe make him one of the best lyricists of our generation.


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