Monday, 29 May 2017

GIG NEWS: London Contemporary Voices at Union Chapel (10/06/17)

The wonderful London Contemporary Voices have announced their third annual summer concert at the stunning Union Chapel - having visited last week I'm pretty confident that a choir would sound beautiful in the venue. Unfortunately it clashes with Bushstock again - but if you're not around in Shepherd's Bush for that and fancy some live music and a contemporary choir sounds like your kind of fun then head down to the show, where they will be performing tracks by the likes of Bon Iver, James Blake, Marika Hackman and RY X

For the evening the choir will be joined by Amber Run (check this beautiful session video they recorded together a few years ago), beatboxer Reeps One and producer Guy Sigsworth, as well as the experimental singer Martin Grech. The title for the concert is Confluence, which is a play on the idea of two or more rivers coming together and the coming together of people, such as a choir. The choir will perform a tribute to Jeff Buckley to mark the 20th anniversary of his death as well as a unique choral version of Radiohead track Paranoid Android ahead of the re-release of their record OK Computer. To get a taste of the work of the choir, here they are performing Jack Garratt's Worry in the same venue!

London Contemporary VoicesConfluence is at Union Chapel on Saturday 10th June, doors 7pm - tickets are available here.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

LIVE: Luke Sital-Singh at Union Chapel (23/5/17)

I'm partial to a sad song or two, and last night's show with Luke Sital-Singh and support act Ciaran Lavery did not disappoint in that department. The show took place at London's stunning Union Chapel, a venue I've been desperate to catch a show in for a while, and the perfect setting for an evening of sad songs, with Luke touring his new record Time Is A Riddle. I caught Luke play a secret set at last year's Bushstock to a tiny audience in a wine bar so was pretty excited to see him perform to a much bigger crowd last night.

Luke Sital-Singh at Union Chapel
Listening to Ciaran Lavery's support set it struck me that the pairing was all kinds of clever - they have pretty similar voices (so anyone who is a fan of Luke should just about fall in love with Ciaran through the course of his set) and both have great banter and comic timing on stage, a sort of unintentional hilarity. Opening with a track where he played the guitar percussively and finishing up with a track without the guitar, his vocals carried beautifully around the venue and he had the audience in silence for the entire set, not easy for a support act to do! One of the highlights of his set was the track Shame, and there's a lovely session performance of that below...

Luke has deemed the tour the "magical misery tour" and I'm not going to disagree with that sentiment, but who doesn't love some sad acoustic songs? His second record Time Is A Riddle has been out for just under a fortnight and features the tracks Hunger and Killing Me, and the set took us right through many of the new album tracks alongside the biggest tracks of album one, including Nothing Stays The Same and Bottled Up Tight. A couple of tracks in to his set Luke asked the audience to clap and cheer louder after new tracks so that he'd get the sense that things were improving (again - the stage banter was great), but we hardly needed asking as each song was met with rapturous applause. With some people commenting that the venue has the best acoustics in London it was the perfect setting and I really felt like I was part of something special! Here's an acoustic performance (with some great reverb) of the new track Innocence performed for Bee Happy Sessions.

The tour carries on to Brighton tonight and Exeter on Friday evening before a handful of European shows, check all the shows and grab the record on his site here!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

LISTEN: Arcaves - 'Familiar Stranger'

Imagine an alternative pop version of the beautiful harmonies of indie-folk band Of Monsters and Men and you'll arrive somewhere along the lines of Southend's ARCAVES. Formed in the back of a broken down-car in Sweden, the band won Essex Undiscovered in 2015 and have since supported Nothing But Thieves and Coasts, and been named Sound of 2017 by BBC Introducing Essex - not a bad list of accolades, right?

Their first release of the year comes in the form of the oxymoron-ically titled Familiar Stranger, a track combining soul, pop, trip-hop and indie rock with some great vocal harmonies. Singer and guitarist Billy Wright explains that the track is "kind of a realisation about the timing of relationships [...] about how you can't force or restart something once it's run its course." 

The band are busy working on their forthcoming album, whilst also curating Oxjam in Southend (if you're nowhere near Southend then you'll be sure to find an Oxjam event closer to you later in the year, usually in October.) They are also playing at the London Bridge Summer city Festival as well as numerous festivals around the country to support the new track. Give ARCAVES a like on Facebook to keep track of album progress and their upcoming shows!

Monday, 15 May 2017

WATCH: Hey Charlie release debut single 'Hey'

I've followed Hey Charlie online for a while as I've met the guitarist Lizz and bassist Sophie a few times over the last couple of years at King Charles gigs, and over that time I've seen a lot of recording photos but hadn't had a chance to listen to the band. Good things seem to come who those who wait as they've recently released their grungy debut track Hey alongside this pretty funky music video, and the track is already making waves, getting a spot in the Spotify 'Viral 50' and 'New Music Friday' playlists and being played last night on Phil Taggart's show on Radio 1. Take a listen below...

Writing this post is opening my eyes to the fact that I very rarely post about music from girls apart from the likes of Lucy Rose, Laura Marling and The Staves, and apart from a recent burst of Hey Charlie, Haim and Martha Gunn, I rarely have female fronted bands/soloists on my playlists... you could go on for hours about how orchestras are dominated by men, and how many of the large festival line-ups have very few female artists, but on a personal level I think its simply that I listen to way more men than women. Perhaps it has something to do with the genres I'm into - are there more men making sad folk music? Whatever it is, before I start to ramble, I think it's just refreshing to be enjoying an all girl band and I can't wait to hear what they've got for us next!

Hey Charlie are playing at The Great Escape this week, I'll be down with Tigmus (shout if you want  to say hi!) so I'm hoping to catch their set and get a glimpse into what else they have to offer. If you like to plan things in advance, they're supporting at The Borderline for a Kerrang show in October, tickets here, and for now, be sure to give them a like on Facebook to be in the know when they release more new tracks if you like this debut single!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

LISTEN: Seramic release 'I Got You' EP

With massive support tours with Jack Garratt and more recently Bear's Den under their belts and the brilliant Found EP (listen on Spotify) released last year, I've been a little bit in love with Seramic for a few months now and I'm very excited to be able to say that they have released their new I Got You EP this week. Listen below on Soundcloud or on Spotify and grab your copy of the EP on iTunes.

Fronted by Marcus Foster and backed up by some really talented musicians, including the beautiful backing vocals of Layla Ley, they are delivering some of the best music I've heard over the past few months - think RnB, gospel, funk, hip-hop and so much more all rolled into one. This EP is no exception, featuring three already released tracks which are all absolute tunes in their own right - the title number I Got You, as well as Greg's Love and Same Mistakes. The highlight for me however is a new track, Trying, which closes the EP and is an absolute rollercoaster sonically and lyrically. To get the real Seramic experience you have to catch them performing live, so check out the live video of the title track for Vevo dscvr below to get a taster of their performances.

If you enjoyed that, to get your Seramic live fix you can check them out at Radio 1's Big Weekend, Latitude Festival, Barn on The Farm or Secret Garden Party - they're also headlining KOKO for Clash and Burst on 26th May if you're around! 

ALBUM NEWS: Baio 'Man of the World'

Chris Baio (bassist of Vampire Weekend) has just announced details of Man of the World, the follow up to his debut solo record The Names which was released back in 2015 (listen on Spotify). It was one of my favourite records of the year, full of tunes which seem embedded with a relentless urge to dance which they pass on to you sonically... helped along when you see Chris perform, with his performances resembling the Sister of Pearl video. Alongside the album news Chris, who performs under his surname Baio, has released the album's leading track PHILOSOPHY! which you can listen to below.

The record was co-produced by Chris and recorded in Brixton, and as an American living in London, much of the record was written in the aftermath of the events of 2016, with Chris experiencing the fall out of both Brexit and Trump's election closely. Talking about the album, Chris says that writing the record was his way of processing 2016, "a year that began with the death of my favorite artist, David Bowie, and ended with the greatest political disruption of my adult life – all while I was a nomad, an American living in London, touring two continents, never fully of either place. It’s partially about being trapped in my own head, obsessing about things it was too late to change, feeling afraid and guilty and alone. It’s also my attempt to document a certain sense of loss that felt both intensely personal and like part of a larger collective experience many were going through at once.​"

Man of the World is due for release through Glassnote on 30th June, and you can pre-order here.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

WATCH: Kasabian release video for 'Are You Looking for Action?'

I never doubted them for a second.... Kasabian have knocked Ed Sheeran off the top spot of the album chart with their new record For Crying Out Loud. It's their fifth consecutive number one record and as I've been a fan of the band for around 9 or 10 years I'm feeling super proud and really digging the record, and recently added the track Wasted to my 2017 Spotify playlist.

Earlier in the week they did something pretty revolutionary and experimental, filming a music video for the track Are You Looking for Action? in one take and streaming it live online. The video below is the result, featuring endless nods back to the previous records and I'd say it was a total success! Talking about the video guitarist Sergio Pizzorno said that it "was such an incredible experience to make a music video feel like a live event. What ever went down, that was it. The adrenaline and excitement of recording it in one shot, to a live audience was unreal. I think it could be the first of many for us."

If you haven't already, you can grab a copy of the new record For Crying Out Loud here.

Friday, 12 May 2017

LISTEN: BE GOOD - 'Not Waking Up'

Some new music for your Friday - the debut single from BE GOOD, Oxford 'woozy lofi soulsters' (no idea either but the tune is cool) who recently opened up for Kagoule and Jaws at the Bully. Inspired by the feeling of disconnection and renewal after a new year's party, in the track's premiere on sonofmarketing the vocalist Ash Cooke describes the track as "basically a woozy party anthem for the sleep-deprived".

Give the band a like on Facebook to keep up to date with future shows and releases!

LISTEN: John Smith - 'Headlong'

Good news all around - now that I'm free of uni work and have a little bit more time to blog I've decided to set up an Instagram account for the blog to help spread the good word, and I've resolved to actually keep on top of my emails and check out some of the tunes I'm sent (often several a day). A little catch up on the past week or so of emails and I've dug up this new track from Devon's John Smith.

In a video that sees John performing the title track of upcoming record Headlong on a boat in Switzerland, it is perhaps the first live session I've watched where the musician is wearing a life jacket. It isn't however the first boat session I've seen and I'm now fondly remembering this Dry The River boat concert and We Were Evergreen Busk Barge session! This is my first introduction to John's music and I'm really pleasantly surprised by his voice and not surprised to see that he headlined a show for Communion at Union Chapel last month. 

The single is out a week today (19th) and is taken from the record of the same name, Headlong, produced by Sam Lakeman and mixed by Ruadhri Cushnan (Mumford, King Charles). The record is dedicated to the memory of John's close friend John Renbourn and reflects on his experience of becoming a father for the first time. You can pre-order the record here before it's release on 30th June.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

LISTEN: Tom Hobden & Eliot James - 'Housman's Theme'

If you've been following my posts for a while you'll probably have grasped that I'm quite a fan of Noah & The Whale and have been following their solo endeavours since the band split a couple of years ago. I've seen the members of the band in various guises since the split (all except frontman Charlie but I'm off to see his debut solo album stage show in June) and can't wait for bassist Matt Owens' show with his band Little Mammoths in Oxford tomorrow night.

It's been great seeing what violinist and keys player Tom Hobden has been getting up to, performing all around the world with Mumford & Sons, as I can honestly say that he's one of my favourite musicians and a big part of the reason that I have come to appreciate strings in a live performance so much. Excitingly then, Tom has teamed up with fellow composer Eliot James, whom he met back in 2007 when they worked on the debut Noah album, and collaborated on an LP, Roam.

Aiming to tackle an issue they see in a lack of opportunities and appreciation for orchestral strings within pop music, the project was born after the pair exchanged demos of orchestral and score material last year. The first track from the project is Housman's Theme, a soaring and beautiful classical piece and quite a departure from what I'd usually share on here - but lyric-less music has been featuring in my headphones a lot to get through my last essays, especially the dissertation, and this is stunning!

Talking about their intentions for the record, the pair say that: "True to the album’s name we set out with a hunger for exploring new musical territory. With an orchestra on hand, we gladly lost ourselves at times in the wide plains of English Romanticism but at the same time were ever aware of the here and now, and the importance of forging new lines."

The record, Roam, is due for release on 16th June through Village Green Recordings, and you can give the project a like on Facebook (here) to stay up to date! 

LIVE: Willie J Healey at Modern Art Oxford (5/5/17)

He's come a long way since I saw him playing a support set back in December 2014, and I was chuffed to catch Willie J Healey again last Friday. Tickets for the free show were all snapped up within a matter of hours, showing you his popularity and affirming the suggestion that it might be one of the last chances to see him playing in a venue of this size. It is the basement of a funky art gallery where you lose phone signal and *shock horror* actually have to talk to people - not an issue though as tons of familiar faces from the local scene were there and it was a great night!

Opening up the night was a stripped back Magique, which was a really nice way to be introduced to the tunes. I'm listening to their latest release, Real Love, while writing this and it takes on a whole other life with the addition of drums in the studio version. They are back at the venue for a full band show in July! I've just added the track to my 2017 playlist on Spotify: be sure to follow for updates on that. 

Shortly after their set Willie and the band took to the stage and treat us to a set of old tracks and new, showcasing just how much their busy touring schedule (they'd just finished up on a tour supporting Palace) has helped them harness their live set, giving a super impressive and tight performance. It was real fun and they finished off the set with the wonderful Greys, before we all headed to the pub and a local posh pizza van at 1am.... oh the life of a student after deadlines!

Willie J Healey plays The Great Escape on Friday night before heading out for some headline shows in June, taking in Leicester, London, Guildford and Southampton (announcement post and ticket links here!)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

LIVE: Communion on Tour at Omeara with Joseph J Jones, Banfi and Dan Croll (2/5/17)

Last week I was lucky to win tickets to the Communion on Tour show at the stunning venue Omeara in London, where three of Communion's most exciting acts showcased their talents, Joseph J Jones, Banfi and Dan Croll. After a day of wandering around London and visiting a cat cafe, a lovely break among my final deadlines, we headed to the venue - although I caught a symphony listening party in another part of the venue back in December it was my first proper gig at the venue, and I can't recommend getting along to something there if you're in the area! 

Up first was Joseph J Jones, who I caught back in March supporting Jack Savoretti. I enjoyed his set there, but because it was in the fairly huge Royal Festival Hall with people arriving and finding their seats throughout the set, and we were sat quite a few rows back, I don't feel that I'd really engaged with the set. His voice is however incredibly impressive and I was looking forward to catching him in a more intimate setting, and he certainly didn't disappoint. At the moment I'm really digging his latest release, the track Gospel Truth, and can't wait to hear what he puts out next. He's also touring the UK in June if you like what you hear!

Next up were my favourite band of the moment, Banfi. I've honestly fallen pretty hard for their music over the past few months and this was the sixth time seeing them and I couldn't help but think how they are getting better at every show - not something you can say about most bands! Of the unreleased tracks they're performing in their set at the minute, Future is probably my favourite (although I'm already doubting myself writing that) and there's a lovely video of them performing it for Sofar Sounds London below! Like Joseph, they are also off on their first headline tour soon, following a support tour with the Bear's Den chaps in the UK and Europe for the last couple of months. They're heading out in September, taking in The Lexington in London on 12th September (tickets).

Last up it was a total pleasure to catch Dan Croll again after seeing him play an acoustic set at Bushstock last year and headlining the Communion Christmas Club Night at the end of the year. His new record Emerging Adulthood (something that's becoming quite a fear as my time at uni draws to a close) is being released through Communion on 21st July featuring the brilliant tracks One Of Us, Away From Today and Swim. Rounding up this post nicely he is also off on a tour, a little sooner than the others, kicking off in Glasgow on Friday before taking in Leeds, Manchester, London, Birmingham, Bristol and a slot at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton which I'm hoping to catch!

If you liked what you read about and would like to catch a similar show I can wholeheartedly recommend Communion's festival Bushstock, a day of beautiful music and wonderful community spread across multiple venues in Shepherd's Bush. Check the line-up out here (Banfi are playing!) 

Monday, 8 May 2017

WATCH: Sivu releases the video for 'Lonesome'

After a brilliant Willie J Healey gig on Friday night with a bunch of friends from the Oxford music scene and some cracking sets at Notting Hill Arts Club last night for Communion Music's monthly club night with the likes of Harry Pane and MarthaGunn, I'm looking forward to heading back to London in a few hours to carry on my post-uni celebrations seeing one of my favourite musicians, Sivu, for the first time in a couple of years. He recently released the track Lonesome and has just put up the official video, matching the track in its beauty and craftsmanship, and made by Mathew Robins. Check it out below...

Sivu is currently on a UK tour premiering material from his upcoming record Sweet Sweet Silent, and playing to a sold out Rosemary Branch Theatre in London this evening. There are a handful of shows left in Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham this week so head to his website for info and tickets on those. I can't recommend getting along to see him perform live enough, and these shows are sure to be especially intimate and a great insight into what he's been up to for the last couple of years! 

LISTEN: Charlie Fink releases 'I Was Born To Be A Cowboy'

Improve your Monday instantly by giving a listen to I Was Born To Be A Cowboy, the third track to be release from Charlie Fink's upcoming solo record, Cover My Tracks. If you like what you're hearing, catch up with Anywhere You're Going Is On My Way and Firecracker. The album is set for release on 2nd June and I can't wait!

The album release in June is being supported by a stage show featuring Charlie himself alongside Jade Anouka (who I saw being great in Doctor Faustus alongside Kit Harington last year) at The Old Vic Theatre. Cover My Tracks runs there from the 5th - 17th June (tickets) and a UK tour has just been announced including performances at Latitude and Galway Arts Festival in July before taking in Salford, Bristol, Bury St Edmunds, Milton Keynes and Horsham in September - tickets and info all here!

Friday, 5 May 2017

WATCH: Jack Savoretti releases video for 'We Are Bound'

Feels crazy to be writing this but I'm totally finished with university! After a day of rewriting in the library on Wednesday I managed to submit my final assignment a couple of days early so having a bit of a chill while the rest of my flat panic with essays and exams still looming. I'm hoping that my new found spare time will translate into some more regular posts on here and where better to start than the new music video from my favourite chap Jack Savoretti

I've spent the past week feeling immensely proud of Jack after his performance at Cheltenham Jazz Festival last Thursday was played out live in BBC Radio 2. A massive achievement and pretty poignant as the station have played quite a key role in the huge success that Jack is currently having (mostly down to his bucket loads of talent of course!) You can listen back to the full performance on the iPlayer here and see what all the fuss is about!