Wednesday, 30 November 2016

LISTEN: November 2016 playlist!

I've not been quite as busy as I was in October when it felt like at least every other day brought a gig, but I've been to a few shows this month and I've just reached my 70th gig of the year.. I think last year I went to 63 so I've outdone myself already, definitely down in part to all the Tigmus gigs I've been repping! Last night I caught Banfi playing a free show with Richard Walters and Waylor, and it never stops... I've at least four (possibly five) gigs lined up for the rest of the week! For now, here's a playlist with the music I've been listening to over November, a month which saw the return of my childhood favourites Busted, who I saw live in HMV and met. Consider my life made!

1. Martin Luke Brown Take Out Of Me - Martin played our Sofar Sounds show in Oxford this month (write-up of the show here) and was my highlight of the night... and I've heard a few others say the same! I've been meaning to check his music out for a while now as I kept hearing his name and I'm enjoying it a lot, only wish I'd got around to listening earlier.

2. Banfi Happy When You Go - these guys played their first proper headline show, and their first gig in a while, at Old Blue Last yesterday for Communion. I've said it a million times but anyone who is championed by Communion is bound to be pretty great and they're no exception! Wonderful show and felt very nostalgic in a venue with all of Dry The River hanging around - who'd believe it's over a year since they announced they were splitting? They've just announced a second (also free) show at the same venue on 8th Feb, sign up here!

3. Dawes Quitter - after waiting over a year to catch them live again, at the start of the month the show I'd been waiting for finally came around and Dawes played a total blinder at Islington Assembly Hall. Suddenly one show turned into three and I rushed back to London the day after to see them at Rough Trade and a Sofar Sounds show (write-up of the shows here.) This is one of my favourite tracks from the new record, which they recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel's show!

4. Busted Easy - I might lose all my music cred for saying it but Busted have always been and will always be one of my favourite bands... there's something inherently special about your first ever favourite band. I'd probably go so far as to say the passion I had for these guys when I was a kid helped shaped me into the huge music fan I am today. This month they released their first record in thirteen years (ahhhhh) and I met them at a HMV performance and signing, and they were as lovely as I could've possibly hoped for!

5. Jack Savoretti Sleep No More - the title track of Jack's new record, his set was opened with this on his recent UK tour. Really atmospheric with the whistling solo... I'm probably way more amazed than it warrants as I can't whistle myself (live video!)

6. Catgod Ready When You Are - Catgod are the recently renamed Roberto y Amigos from Oxford, who released one of my favourite EPs of the year, Monster Love. They've just released new record Ready When You Are online (go listen!) and they're launching it with a show at ODHHC on 17th December. 

7. Laurel Goodbye (demo) - Laurel played at our cinema Sofar Sounds Oxford show back in September, and she's released her Park EP this month - loving this demo which is the final track of the EP.

8. JONES Melt - JONES supported on Jack Savoretti's UK tour this month, and opened the nights with a really fun set showing off tracks from her debut album New Skin, of which this was probably my favourite.

9. Richard Walters Awards Night - Richard supported at the Banfi show last night, sadly we arrived too late to catch his set (but I can say with total confidence that it was probably brilliant.) Over the last few months I've been slowly working my way through putting his whole A.M. record on monthly playlists, so you might as well go and listen to the whole thing...

10. Dawes From a Window Seat - this is one of my favourite Dawes tracks but sadly it didn't make it into the set at the start of the month, although that's bound to happen when you've got five records worth of material to choose from! 

11. Lily & Madeleine Hotel Pool - this American duo of sisters supported Dawes on their UK tour and played a really beautiful set. This track is taken from their record Keep It Together which is worth checking out. I'll be keeping an eye out for when they return to the UK for their own tour!

12. Tom Odell Silhoutte - the latest single from Tom's Wrong Crowd record, the video for it was released last week, and a comment on the Youtube video summarises the track perfectly... "Seriously. Silhouette's melody sounds so Christmassy." How hadn't I noticed before?! 

13. Bruce O Yates Helen - Bruce (and his fairly big band) opened up the Sofar Sounds show I caught Dawes at and played a really lovely set. It was really interesting to finally catch a Sofar show in London... there's still a wonderful vibe but it's a different type of evening to our Oxford shows because of the scale, as in Oxford we've got mostly the same crew and many audience members coming along to each show, whereas London had something like 70/80 Sofar shows over November, so there are tons of people involved!

14. Martin Luke Brown Shadow & Light - Martin is one of my favourite discoveries of the month, loving this track which has a really lovely message and for which a really special lyric video was recently uploaded - go watch!

15. Jack Savoretti I'm Yours - the second single from Jack's record, this went down pretty well live in a set where Jack and his band played every single track from the new record. They released a video for the track this month!

16. Waylor (ft. Grace Lightman) Hungover - Waylor (Matt from Dry The River) also supported at the Banfi show last night, I saw him supporting Richard Walters last month but this time he brought along his band and it was a whole lot more lively, loved his set!

17. JONES Walk My Way - bringing the tempo of the playlist back up with another track from JONES! Really enjoyed her set at the two Jack Savoretti shows I caught her supporting this month, her record New Skin is definitely worth taking a listen to. 

18. Stornoway The Great Procrastinator - the oldest track on the playlist, I've been listening to Storno a lot since the news of their split and farewell tour, and none sum me up quite so well as this with deadlines looming and motivation declining rapidly... tickets flying out for the tour, grab them here.

19. Dawes Less Than Five Miles Away - seeing as my month became so heavily revolved around Dawes (for two days at least), it feels right to end on another of my favourite tracks from their latest record. The bass in this track is pretty insane but it takes a live performance to really appreciate it , hats off to Wylie Gelber! 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

WATCH: Laura Marling releases 'Soothing' and March UK tour dates

It appears there's still a little hope for 2016, as everyone's favourite female folk musician (tell me I'm wrong?!), Laura Marling, is back with new track Soothing. It's taken from her upcoming album Semper Femina which is released next year on 10th March. 

Laura tours to support the release of the record in March, including a date at Oxford's O2 Academy on 13th March and London's Roundhouse on 17th. It's dissertation deadline month so I'm not sure I'll be able to make the Oxford date, but the prospect of seeing Laura play live is quite an exciting one! She's also taking in Leeds, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton and Salisbury - tickets for all the shows are on sale on Friday through the official website here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

LIVE: Sofar Sounds Oxford at The Handle Bar (21/11/16)

Since I've been attending Sofar Sounds shows in Oxford, there have been a couple of shows at The Handle Bar, a cafe and restaurant above a bike shop, located in the centre of town, but for various reasons I haven't been able to make them. Naturally I was chuffed to finally get along to a show there this Monday, for another night of brilliant acoustic music. I spent most of the evening trying not to make everybody else ill, but also dabbled in a bit of photography and social media, posting photos and live videos to the Sofar Oxford Facebook. You can check out some of my photos from the evening on my Flickr here.

First up on the night, we had a set from local folk musician Rosie Caldecott. I've heard her name tons over the past couple of years, and couldn't recall if I'd caught her playing before, but a little browse of my gig spreadsheets tells me I haven't - and what a mistake! She played a couple of new tracks and a couple from her Inside Out record, and I got some Laura Marling vibes from the set, which can't be a bad thing!

Next up, Gloucestershire duo Ethemia played for us, letting us share in their 'musical marriage' for a few moments. The bond between the pair was lovely to see, and their songs, as well as their stories and how they engaged with the crowd during and after their set was totally heartwarming. Lovely people! Here's a video below from the last Sofar Oxford they played in the summer of 2015.

Up third and probably the set I was waiting in most anticipation for, and my favourite of the night, we had Leicester born and London-based Martin Luke Brown play a solo set for us. I've heard his name in many places online and elsewhere for a year or so now but until the day of the show hadn't really given him a proper listen. Sat barely a metre from the crowd, he made no efforts to hide that it was a little daunting in between songs, but you couldn't guess this at all from his performance! His set was totally engaging, with sing-alongs, clapping and clicking... even a little Britney chucked in for good measure (which I caught on one of the Facebook Live videos from the night, of his track Take Out of Me - definitely worth a watch.) Loving this recent lyric video for his track Shadow & Light which is also worth a listen and a watch! He's also a really lovely chap, had a lovely chat (as my voice was just about returning) after the show. So many positive vibes that night!

Last up we had a full band, playing plugged in and bringing a little more noise to wake us all up at the end of the night. They'd travelled from Fareham for the show (sounded impressive though I wasn't entirely sure where it was... a little Googling tells me it's next to Portsmouth.) The track I recorded live for our Sofar Facebook, Stay Golden, is instantly made ten times better when you know the idea originally came from the lead singers golden retriever (crossed with something which has slipped my mind..) puppy. Adorable, even if he did start the anecdote by letting the audience know he doesn't really like dogs (to some pretty sharp intakes of breath) - "so I got a puppy!" They describe their sound as a unique blend of folk, country, blues and acoustic, and performed with a cajon and banjo, win win in my eyes! Take a listen for yourself with Shake It Off,  a track from their recent EP.

Overall, the night was totally worth braving the cold drizzly night, the venue is lovely, the crowd were totally respectful as always and all the artists were great and lovely people to boot. If you haven't been to a Sofar Sounds show before, chances are there's one coming up near you soon (especially if you live in London where there are usually a few each night all around the city) so check out the website and sign up for a great night of live music and discovery in an interesting setting, with a crowd of likeminded music fans!

LIVE: Little Red at O2 Academy 2 (18/11/16)

Last Friday night, Tigmus had our third of a season of four shows upstairs at the O2 Academy Oxford, this time with local folk trio Little Red headlining. Being a fairly special occasion they drafted in their backing band for the show, performing as a 6-piece with added drums, keys and bass, but keeping their acoustic harmonious charms, and performing as a trio for a little segment of the set. I'd been under the weather for a few days and I'd like to say that the tunes warmed me up, but the venue was totally freezing! 

Opening up the night of local acoustic music we had a solo performance from All Is Worth, aka Nathan Allsworth, who played bass for Little Red later in the night. His Facebook describes his music as "combining picked folk with a haunting edge", a pretty accurate summary. You can check out some of his music over on Bandcamp. Next up we doubled in band members and were treated to a set from folk duo The Lost Art who I'd seen at another small Tigmus show earlier in the year. I'm currently being mesmerised by their music video for Secret Life as it's a one-shot video - total sucker for those!

Next up, after ducking out of the venue I return and the stage is full to the brim with people as James Bell & the Half Moon All Stars, a 9-piece band with mandolin, flute, ukulele, fiddle (always a winner) and tons more instruments! They even had a kazoo towards the end of the set! Playing some traditional folk songs (which they do regularly in the local The Half Moon pub, hence the name) a highlight of the set was The Mary Ellen Carter, a cover of a Stan Rogers song. Check out a performance of that track below!

Last but by no means least our headliners Little Red took to the stage and the crowd, though not the biggest, were definitely up for a good Friday night. The set was made up of a couple of new tracks and others from their back catalogue, which you can check out on Bandcamp! Everyone was left feeling joyful and gave a wonderful round of applause to the band as they left the stage...

Here's to many more Tigmus shows - although I have to admit losing my voice when running the door the night after for our show with The Balkan Wanderers is definitely a low point! Good news: I can talk now (albeit in a croaky, husky way.)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

WATCH: Banfi - 'Happy When You Go'

You know you're in safe hands when Jake Dypka is involved... I've followed his work for a few years after being introduced to his work with Dry The River, and this video he's directed for Banfi which is premiering today over on Dork is pretty epic! Take a watch/listen below...

It's the first music video from the band, who are signed to Communion (again, you know you're in safe hands!) In fact that was my exact train of thought when Communion announced recently that they were playing a free show at the end of November... I grabbed tickets thinking I'd never listened to them before, predominantly as Richard Walters and WAYLOR are opening the night and I was seeing them the next day. 

I got home and searched for some of their tracks and turns out I had listened to them before as their track Where We Part is on the Communion 10 year anniversary RSD vinyl I got earlier in the year. Now getting pretty excited for their show at The Old Blue Last - tickets were snapped up really quickly but if you're interested in seeing them you're in luck as the Communion Christmas show has just been announced and they're playing along Dan Croll, Seramic, Alex Vargas, a special guest (the intrigue! Last year's special guest was James Bay if I remember rightly!) and DJ set from Patrick Nazemi. The show is at Notting Hill Arts Club on 4th December, tickets here! Currently debating if I can afford (financially and academically) to go to the show myself... but I reckon I can probably be persuaded!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

WATCH: King Charles - 'Ivory Road'

Nothing like a new video of King Charles performing my favourite track of his to cheer me up when I'm feeling a little under the weather and fairly unproductive when it comes to university work! He's just finished up a huge American tour, couldn't be prouder and can't wait til he next plays in London! This video is from a Chicago show Charles played last month, but dig a little deeper on Youtube and you'll find this video of him playing the track to me in a field at Cambridge Folk Festival a few years ago... classic!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

LIVE: Jack Savoretti's 'Sleep No More' tour 2016

Jack Savoretti's new record Sleep No More has been out for two weeks tomorrow, and I couldn't be prouder than it reached their highest chart spot yet last week, number six! I posted recently about Jack's performance at HMV Oxford St, but I've since seen him three more times so figured it was time for another post! Last Monday Jack was on the panel for The Wright Stuff and performed a solo acoustic version of When We Were Lovers. I saw a tweet about his appearance on the show a week before and got a space in the audience... they only have about twenty people in so it's pretty intimate and was a very early wake up, but really cool to see Jack in that environment and interesting to hear him chatting about the topics of the day! 

The tour for the new record kicked off the day after the show, and I was reading some great comments about the show online, and really looking forward to his London show (last night). I pondered over it for a while and decided I'd like to go to the Southampton show on Sunday (6th) too, only it sold out. After my weekend of Dawes shows somebody got in touch with tickets to sell on Sunday afternoon, so I dropped everything, booked hotel and trains and headed down South. I'm pretty sure I was the only person in the audience for The Wright Stuff who knew who Jack was before the show, so it made a massive difference to be in the sold out 1700+ cap O2 Guildhall, packed out with Jack's fans! There were a few "oh no, they didn't play...." moments, but with five albums to pick from for the setlist, and playing every single track from the new record, that's to be expected! It was a treat to hear the entire new record live... I'm not sure I've ever seen a band touring a new record and not leaving out a couple of the slower tracks, for instance. The setlist had been meticulously planned, starting off with a run of five or six new tracks to ease us into the evening, opening with the album's title track Sleep No More (cue some pretty impressive whistling from Jack)  and playing Helpless, one of the highlights of the new record for me (video from the night here!) The band left the stage and Jack performed a couple of tracks alone, kicking off with Tight Rope, another of my favourite tracks from the new record. 

They got into a few of the hits - Home, Back Where I Belong and Catapult before heading off stage. Returning for an encore, Jack played alone on keys for the intro of Only You, a really beautiful addition to the track, before they finished up with massive hit Written In Scars, the title track of 2015's stunning album. Suddenly, I heard the first hints of third album track Knock Knock, a welcome surprise as the set was so heavily fourth/fifth album weighted! I met some lovely fans outside the venue after while we waited around to speak to Jack, and after a hug and a few moments of conversation he rushed off to the tourbus. Totally worth the last minute travel (on delayed trains!) and every single penny, I'll never tire of seeing Jack live.....

....which is lucky, as I saw him last night, playing his biggest headline show to date at London's Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. The show fell on my mum's birthday and I got the tickets as a present, so after a lovely day out in London we queued for a couple of hours and got to the front. A few minutes later and the place was rammed, and while the set was the same as Southampton's, I feel like I got into the show a lot more... the band seemed to be putting as much in (and at both shows, you could see how happy they all were, and how amazed that so many people had turned up) but there's something about the atmosphere at big London shows. Everybody is up for a good time and I knew the new tracks that little bit better, and sang to my heart's content. They were filming the show and kept turning the camera to face the audience, so that probably egged me on a little bit too! I'm so proud of the guys for playing to such a massive crowd, and the big hits went down amazingly but a highlight for me was again the solo section of the set, including Dreamers, the first track from Jack's debut record. Watch below and you'll hopefully get the gist. Beautiful - and a perfect moment to look around at just how many people were there and feel immensely proud of Jack up on stage, putting everything into it, and putting his heart on his sleeve for us all to see.

All in all I've had a pretty cracking time seeing Jack over the last couple of weeks... the tour is still going and while Manchester is sold out, they've still got Nottingham, Glasgow and Newcastle shows coming up too - tickets and dates here. I hugely recommend putting your confidence in Jack to deliver a superb evening, and if those shows aren't close to you, check out the new record and keep an eye out for the next tour! 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

LIVE: Dawes at Islington Assembly Hall, Rough Trade West and Sofar Sounds (4/5 Nov 2016)

Since seeing them in Hackney last August I've been desperate to see Dawes again, so when they announced a mini UK tour for November a couple of months ago I was over the moon. I quickly grabbed a ticket and spent October listening to the record and getting excited... the show was on Friday in the beautiful surroundings of Islington Assembly Hall, my first show in the venue! Arriving expecting a queue I found only a couple of people waiting outside, and once we'd been let in I got chatting with two lovely girls at the barrier. The atmosphere was lovely and the show kicked off beautifully with a support set from Lily & Madeleine who recently released their record Keep It Together... definitely worth taking a listen to! Check out this live session of their track Nothing.

Lily & Madeleine
While chatting away to the girls at the front, they'd asked if I was going to the signing and acoustic performance the next day. There'd apparently been an announcement on Facebook for a show at Rough Trade West which I'd somehow missed... so I decided to see how I felt after the show, knowing I'd probably be heading back to London the following day for it. Dawes came on and played something like an eighteen song set, particularly impressive when so many of their songs are quite long! I got to hear tracks from the new album for the first time as well as tracks from the previous four, the show was full of incredible instrumental sections, solos, amazing crowd sing-alongs and a couple of stunning acoustic tracks, I was pretty overwhelmed - it was everything I'd hoped for and so much more. I recorded a couple of videos which I'll stick below... first up my favourite track from the new record, Roll With The Punches, and then I Can't Think About It Now, which is my favourite track from the previous album (All Your Favourite Bands) and, I think, one of my favourite tracks of all time, so hearing it live was really special (apparently they played it at Hackney too, but the track certainly didn't mean so much to me then!)

After hanging around at the merch stall, I left the venue and found a little group of people waiting to see if the band would come out. They're one of my favourite bands and their music means an awful lot to me, so I figured I'd stick around too. Their lovely tour manager took some of the other guys' stuff up to get signed, and they mentioned the Rough Trade set to him, at which point he said they were also playing a Sofar show after it. I've only ever been to Sofar in Oxford, where we have one or two shows a month - in London this month alone there are 92, so when I checked online I found there were three shows last night. Luckily, after hanging around a little longer, Taylor, the lead singer and guitarist of the band came out. Meeting him was pretty special and he kindly checked which show it was they were playing. Suddenly one Dawes show had turned into a couple of days of following them around for three shows. I headed back on the coach to Oxford, getting back at 2am and heading back to London to meet a friend eight hours later... tired but pretty happy! After a little shopping we headed to Rough Trade West for the instore, where we met with Christine, one of the lovely girls I'd met the night before. Crammed into the tiny store (which I also hadn't been to before, only the East London shop, and Nottingham) Taylor opened the show with a solo performance of For No Good Reason before Lee and Griff joined him for Million Dollar Bill and Roll With The Punches (which I filmed a tiny bit of), after which, deciding how to fill the last few minutes of the set because "all my songs have too many words", he played Now That It's Too Late, Maria ("it's like a song and a half"), the track which closes their fourth record. After a quick album signing we headed to the tube, and after saying goodbye to my friend, Christine and I travelled over to Farringdon, arriving a little early at the venue for Sofar Sounds, the iMakr studio, the world's largest 3D printing store.

Dawes at Rough Trade West
Opening up the night was Bruce O'Yates and his band... amusingly (and rather cool) he'd been to the store before to have his face 3D printed for his album cover - you can see it just behind him to the right on the pic below! I really enjoyed his set, check out his track Helen here. Next up was Natalie Wildgoose playing a solo keyboard set of jazzy tunes!

Bruce O'Yates
Up last, and finishing off a brilliant couple of days were the Dawes guys, this time with Taylor, Lee and guitarist Trevor. They played a different set to the earlier one as they knew a handful of us were going to be at both, opening with Taylor playing Moon In The Water solo before (not sure of the order) Something In Common, Picture of A Man and Somewhere Along The Way (little video of that here). Luckily the rest of the audience enjoyed it as much as us and requested an encore, and crikey, did they deliver... in the form of a song "we've never played for anybody", entitled My Greatest Invention. It was a little emotional and a beautiful way to finish off the little trio of shows!

Dawes at iMakr Store for Sofar Sounds
After a little chat with Taylor and Jerry, their tour manager, I headed back to get the coach back to Oxford. An emotional coach journey reflecting on what had just happened - seeing a band I've admired for a few years up close and personal like that in such a raw, stripped back environment where you can really appreciate their musicianship and Taylor's fantastic songwriting was truly special! Wishing them safe travels back to LA and hoping that it isn't too long until they're back in the UK! Also if you've made it to the bottom of the post and you're not already a Dawes fan... get listening to them - there are five fantastic records for you to choose from, and so many incredible tracks!