Wednesday 30 December 2015

TOUR NEWS: Lucy Rose (Jan/Feb 2016)

Brilliant news - Lucy Rose (Bombay Bicycle Club collaborator) has announced a string of 8 acoustic shows in intimate venues across the UK in January and February. Posting a week ago on her Facebook page, Lucy said that "I always want to play the songs you guys want at gigs so I felt bad in Oxford on the last tour when I heard someone shouting for Nightbus, Be Alright and Gamble. So I promised the audience I would come back in January and play a small solo acoustic gig where I could play those songs." And, true to her word, she's playing a show in Chipping Norton (just North of Oxford) and in a few other places around the country, culminating at Heath Street Church in London. I'd certainly recommend getting along to a show whilst the opportunity to see Lucy in this size of venue arises as she's certainly growing a loyal fanbase and her recent album, Work It Out, has been received to high acclaim!

WATCH: Big Sixes 'Unless I'm Mistaken' for Secret Sessions

Having been busy seeing various members of my family for christmas, I haven't posted in a while and was searching for a session to share when I stumbled across this video from the Secret Sessions. It's Big Sixes, who played alongside King Charles at the Secret Sessions show I saw him play back in November at The Hospital Club. Going to the show having no idea who the other band playing was, and not knowing the band by name when someone told me that they were playing, I did the typical thing and checked if any of my friends like their page on Facebook - and yes, some friends (whose taste in music I trust!) liked their page, and I was fairly impressed by their set and this video is a recording of their track Unless I'm Mistaken, filmed during the soundcheck. 

Wednesday 16 December 2015

GIG NEWS: Fred Abbott residency at The Forge, Camden (Jan 2016)

I'm off home for Christmas today so gigs in London are a little less accessible (far more effort to get train from home than the coach from uni) but I'm hoping that I'll be able to make it to London for one of these shows. Fred Abbott, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and former guitarist/keys player for Noah & The Whale, recently released a solo record (read my review of it here), and is playing a residency at The Forge in Camden for three nights in January. Support at each show will come from Hollie Stephenson with special guests Tom Figgins, Moxie Kicks and The Villainy making appearances at one show each, on the 14th, 21st and 28th of January respectively. Guaranteed to be a fun show with cracking guitar solos aplenty, so get down to a gig if you can! 

More info and a link to buy tickets for each of the shows here.

Monday 14 December 2015

WATCH: Half Moon Run - 'I Can't Figure Out What's Going On'

Half Moon Run have just released a new video for what I think is my favourite track from their latest record, Sun Leads Me On, which was released in October, and is certainly for me one of the best records of the year. The video, filmed in the place where the track was written, a place that 'has inspired a lot of the music on both of [their] albums' is, admittedly, kind of weird, but it comes with the territory and fits well with the title of the track - I Can't Figure Out What's Going On. 

Sunday 13 December 2015

LISTEN: The Heathen and The Holy - 'On Christmas Day'

With an exam still to go (and no, of course I haven't done any Christmas shopping!) I refuse to feel festive yet, but can't resist sharing the new Christmas track from The Heathen and The Holy, aka the 'seasonal side project' of Fred Abbott and Tom Hobden from Noah & The Whale.

The follow up to last year's track Hey Merry Christmas (video featuring Fred, Tom and a bunch of their musician pals), On Christmas Day has just been released - and you can get it on iTunes here. Instantly feeling a little more festive...

Saturday 12 December 2015

WATCH: King Charles 'Gamble For A Rose' for Secret Sessions

As the end of semester draws near I've just submitted my last two essays and now have one more exam to revise for. So much to do and so little time so I haven't found a moment to post on here for a week or so, but I had to take a break to share this beautiful video. 

Its King Charles performing his latest single, Gamble For A Rose, solo for the Secret Sessions. I saw him play a brilliant solo set that evening - as far as I can work out, they film a couple of sessions during the day and the bands play in an intimate location within London's The Hospital Club that night for a bunch of music fans, many of whom have no idea of the line-up in advance. 

I saw the mighty Mumford & Sons play at the O2 Arena on Thursday and Charles was supporting with his band - who put on a superb set to the biggest crowd I've seen them play to. It was my 10th time seeing King Charles live, crazy to think the first time was in the (then) 100 capacity Portland Arms in Cambridge, now a 20, 000 capacity arena! 

Here's to many more shows to come... a few of which fall in February as Charles is touring in support of his new album (of which the above track is the title track), all the details on the album and tour are here on his site.

Friday 4 December 2015

LISTEN: Richard Walters - 'Young Folks' (Cover)

I'm realising very quickly that I need to take a listen to Richard Walters solo back catalogue, having only listened to his work with Liu Bei. He's just had a new track featured on a Polish christmas advert so I watched the advert and searched out the full track, a cover of Peter Bjorn and John's Young Folks (previously a B&Q advert song...) Absolutely loving this cover and resisting the urge to try and whistle along to it! Take a listen...

Sunday 29 November 2015

LIVE: My week in gigs (23rd - 29th November)

A little overwhelmed with uni work at the minute but I've somehow found time to get to a few shows this week (arguably my priorities aren't in the right place exactly but the shows have all been pretty great!) 

First up was Communion's New Faces tour on Monday at The Bullingdon, a venue I've been running the Twitter for for a couple of months - but I haven't got to a show at the venue since then, so I spent most of the evening chatting to the manager and missed all but Jack Watts' set (which I really enjoyed), but hearing (just not seeing) the rest they all sounded cool which is a given with them having the backing of Communion! 

Second up was a Secret Sessions show on Tuesday at The Hospital Club in London, with Big Sixes and King Charles on the line-up. I hadn't listened to Big Sixes before and it struck me the set was a little more stripped back than they usually play but I really enjoyed it, the stage banter was great as were the beautiful harmonies! Likewise, as my sixth King Charles set of the year it was the first solo one, with Charles playing predominantly tracks from his upcoming record (out 22nd Jan!) Below is a snippet of Gamble For A Rose, the latest single - lovely to see this performed in this style!

A video posted by Megan Seekings (@meg_seekings) on

Skip to Thursday, and the lovely Oli from Stornoway got me a photo-pass for the second night of their two shows at St John the Evangelist Church in Oxford, just a 20 min walk from my flat. Opening up their set on the balcony to perform an unplugged version of Josephine, a track from their latest album Bonxie, they set the tone for what was to be a really beautiful evening.

Here's one of my photos from the evening, a few more are on my Flickr here.


Last up was the ever wonderful Mumford & Sons last night at Capital FM Arena Nottingham. Having only seen them once before at the same venue (but standing that time) it was a little bittersweet to be seated but we had quite a good view and a great view of the stunning light show put on by Mumford's lighting designer Ed Warren. This photo doesn't do the lights justice but there's a gallery of Ed's work on his site here.

Mumford & Sons.
Jack Garratt was in support, and it was clear that Mumford knew their luck in getting him along for the tour as he's certainly going places, having just been announced as the winner of the Brit Awards Critics Choice, for instance. The band invited him back onstage to play a cover of Eurythmics (which they played on Radio 2 earlier in the year) which I recorded a snippet of - watch that here

Mumford are a favourite band of mine so it was great to see them play live again and to hear most of the tracks from the brilliant third album Wilder Mind, which were accepted by the crowd just as well as the more folk-y tracks of their first two records. An added bonus to their live show is the addition of Noah & The Whale's Tom Hobden, accompanying them with fiddle, guitar and keys for most of the set. His playing during Ghosts That We Knew (below) pretty much had me in tears - so stunning! Having met Tom a few times this year (at far smaller shows!), it was superb to be able to chat at side of stage for a part of Jack's set about the likes of Mumford, Noah and King Charles - he's a lovely guy and one of my favourite musicians, Mumford are lucky to have him playing alongside them! 

What a wonderful week of gigs - sadly I don't have any (as of yet) planned for this week as I've got a couple of essays to write and an exam to start revising for. After last night's wonderful show however - I've been all but persuaded to try and get a ticket to Mumford & Sons' show at O2 Arena on 10th December as King Charles is supporting and it'd be incredible to see him play to such a huge crowd!

Wednesday 25 November 2015

TOUR NEWS: King Charles (February 2016)

Best news... King Charles has just announced a tour in February to support the release of his upcoming second album, Gamble For A Rose. The tour will see him take in Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, Brighton, Bristol, Reading, Leeds, finishing off at London's Oval Space on 18th Feb. 

Having seen Charles live six times this year, I can tell you with confidence that the new tracks (the likes of Bright Thing, Loose Change For The Boatman and Choke) are sounding incredible and this tour isn't to be missed, Charles and his band put on such a fun live show. I was lucky enough to see Charles play a beautiful 7-track solo set for the Secret Sessions last night at London's The Hospital Club. The show had a great laid back atmosphere and it was great to hear some of the new tracks performed in this way - and lovely as ever to chat to Charles and his team - keep an eye out on the Secret Sessions page for the video sessions.

Tickets for the tour are on sale from the ticket links on the poster above from 5pm tomorrow, and you can pre-order Charles' new album through his site here.

Charles' next show is supporting the mighty Mumford & Sons at London's O2 Arena in a couple of weeks on 10th December.

Monday 23 November 2015

WATCH: Tom Figgins 'Giants Played In Woods Like These' for imagesound sessions

I've posted a couple of sessions from imagesound in the past - particularly partial to their Sam Beeton and Jack Savoretti recordings. Here's a new video with Tom Figgins performing his latest single Giants Played In Woods Like These. I've been lucky to see Tom play solo sets a few times this year as well as seeing him play as part of Matt Owens' post-Noah & The Whale solo project, The Delusional Vanity Project. He's a wonderful live talent and his music is getting the recognition it deserves with a ton of live shows and radio play from the likes of Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2. 

You can get the Giants single on iTunes here.

WATCH: Jack Savoretti 'Catapult' for Ont Sofa

Got that Monday morning feeling? This should help... beautiful live video of Jack Savoretti filmed live at Sage Gateshead by Ont Sofa. The track, Catapult, is taken from the re-released version of Jack's record Written In Scars, which features this, another new track (Back Where I Belong) and some live tracks. Get the re-release CD on Amazon here and iTunes here.

Sunday 22 November 2015

WATCH: Sam Swallow - 'I Lost You That Night'

I'm partial to a stripped back song showcasing the vocals and songwriting of the artist, and who better to deliver this than Sam Swallow, one third of a favourite band of mine, The Hoosiers. A long serving touring member of the band, Sam was announced as a 'proper' member of the band just over a year ago and is a hugely talented vocalist and pianist. Above is a performance on Irish TV's Ayala Show, with Sam performing a fairly gripping and emotive love song, I Lost You That Night. There aren't any specific details online as of yet, but he's working on a solo record which is a pretty exciting prospect!

Sam's certainly been a busy chap with The Hoosiers recently releasing their fourth studio record, The Secret Service - read my recommendation of the album here

Friday 20 November 2015

LISTEN: WAYLOR - 'Silver & Gold'

Following the news of Dry The River splitting, comes their (very talented) guitarist Matt Taylor's solo project, WAYLOR. A large element of Dry The River's music was its stark contrast between rock and folk and they beautiful embedding of this - which is reflected in this first track from WAYLOR, with its 'wild grinding guitar noise' contrasting with his 'bittersweet falsetto vocal'. Produced by James Bragg (Gengahr), for a first track its a really strong debut and a great indicator of what is to come from Matt! Keep listening...

The track is released as part of a double A-side digital single on December 4th, and also features on a split-EP with Berlin-based Burkini Beach, available on cassette via the Famous Friends store here.

Thursday 19 November 2015

WATCH: King Charles - 'Gamble For A Rose'

Massively excited about this new video from King Charles for the title track of his upcoming record, Gamble For A Rose, which today premiered on Clash Music.  The video is almost as beautiful as the track itself, mostly filmed underwater, featuring Charles playing the track too. 

If you enjoy the track, here's a live recording of the song which I filmed when I saw Charles perform at London's Grillstock in September. I've been lucky enough to see Charles and his band 5 times this year and the new songs are sounding fantastic, so I really can't wait to hear the record, the follow-up to his stunning 2012 debut Loveblood. The new record has been produced by Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, and features the likes of Charlie and Tom from Noah & The Whale, and Winston from Mumford.

You can pre-order King Charles' album on iTunes/CD/vinyl and download the first track from the record, Loose Change For The Boatman, for free here - the album is out on 22nd January!

Tuesday 17 November 2015

LIVE: Sofar Sounds Oxford at The Hatch (16/11/15)

With exams and the Christmas break approaching, I went to my last Sofar Sounds show in Oxford for a couple of months last night. It was at a quirky space run by 3Space, a converted Barclays bank which is now used as office space for charities, start-ups etc. The line-up this time included three local acts I'd previously seen: Esther Joy Lane, Liu Bei (Richard Walters solo set) and Little Brother Eli, alongside London based Lowpines. 

Jo has made a handy playlist below with a track from each of the acts who all played brilliant sets. One of my favourite things about Sofar shows is how they can bring together music fans who have come with no idea what they're going to hear, and the line-ups can be pretty varied in terms of genre, but they always seem to come together really well. A particular favourite for me was Liu Bei's Richard Walters, who performed a beautiful solo set and had a great, comical rapport with the audience. Little Brother Eli, who I recently saw play alongside Esther Joy Lane, supporting local band Balloon Ascents, played a more stripped back set, down two members, but frontman Alex retained his charisma and energy, with the band also showcasing some pretty nice harmonies. Esther Joy Lane is creating somewhat of a buzz in the local music scene, with a recent two page feature in Nightshift, Oxford's music magazine. Playing her fairly unique electronic music, in theory, her set should've stuck out like a sore thumb among three acoustic sets, but it worked! Her music isn't what I'd usually listen to, but having seen her twice now, I've enjoyed both sets - take a listen to her track Travelling Light in the playlist below. Opening the night was Lowpines, playing fully unplugged - an idea which he admitted had sounded pretty daunting as he'd miss reverb... but reverb-less guitar aside,  and the fact that it was so quiet I felt guilty taking photos, I loved his set, and definitely approved of the cassettes he was selling at the merch stall - very retro.

It is weird to think it's been a year since I first contacted the Sofar Oxford guys and started taking photos at the shows, I've seen some great live music in really interesting venues and met a bunch of lovely guys - here's to getting along to more shows in 2016! I'm really happy with the shots I got at the show last night, here are a few of them, and a couple more are up on my Flickr here.

Esther Joy Lane
Liu Bei (Richard Walters solo)
Little Brother Eli

Monday 16 November 2015

LIVE: The Hoosiers at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester (14/11/15)

Saturday night saw me go to my 57th gig of the year (crikey), seeing my favourite band, The Hoosiers, for the 10th time, at Huntingdon Hall in Worcester. The show was particularly special as it was an acoustic gig, with a really respectful, quiet crowd, meaning the sound of the performance carried so well around the venue. I've been wanting to see the guys play an acoustic show for years now, and I saw about it a few months back and noted it was close to Oxford, where I'm at university, and recently decided fairly spontaneously to book a hotel and train tickets (which turned out to be a pretty great decision!)

As the venue was like a theatre, they had a no phones/photos rule, but the band had told the venue that I was coming to take photos, and I was told I could go in the balcony by myself (rather than lingering near the front, as if people saw me taking photos that would encourage them to take photos too). Sadly, I didn't have a lens that was cut out for shooting at that distance but got a few decent, if a tad unclear, photos - I've put some of the best up on my Flickr here.


As the seat I'd been allocated originally was 13 rows back, I was grateful for the superb and clear view that I got of the guys from the balcony, as well as the fact I was up there by myself for most of the set and could sing along to my heart's content! The set itself was stunning, it was certainly worth the wait to see them play acoustically, with them performing a 15 track set including all the hits alongside a few tracks from their latest album, The Secret Service, which they released independently just over a month ago. 

Being in the balcony also meant I could film some of the set - but of course I made an effort to look beyond my phone and enjoy the performance in the moment, simply filming so I'd have the footage to watch back as tokens of the night. The set was actually fairly emotional, with me really happy to finally be seeing the guys play acoustic coupled with the fact I was surprised with a few tracks I hadn't expected to hear, a few of which made me cry quite a bit... but happy tears! The setlist was a little different to usual shows, with the band playing some tracks that they barely get to in the full band, electric set up. A highlight of the new tracks, for me, was (Don't Make) Eye Contact, the first ever live performance of this acoustic track. This was performed just after first album track, A Sadness Runs Through Him, the first time I've seen them perform this track live, and once again - worth the wait entirely. 

A little later in the set, they played another first album track which rarely makes it onto the setlist, Money To Be Made, with Irwin unplugging his guitar and stepping in front of the microphone - a truly live, acoustic, and stunning performance. Returning to the stage following a foot stomping demand for an encore from the audience, Irwin took to the stage alone and began to play my favourite song of the band's, Everything Goes Dark. I'd heard the track a couple of years ago performed electrically, then last month on the band's tour, performed acoustic (but naturally there's a difference between a show of this sort and a show where the crowd are rowdy and anxious for the band to play Goodbye Mr A...) With Sam and Al each joining Irwin on stage separately, the performance gradually built up and was, in short, as superb as I could've hoped for.

Overall (if you haven't guessed so far!) I had such a brilliant night and I'm feeling really lucky to have been there for this really special evening. As always it was lovely to chat to the guys afterwards, they're genuinely some of the nicest guys I know and I can't encourage you enough to go and take a listen of the latest record, and then buy it, of course, to support independent music. And for the record - it wasn't all doom and gloom with me weeping in the balcony... here's a snippet of the outro to Unlikely Hero, with the audience all clapping along, a lot of fun!

For more info on the latest album, The Secret Service, and to purchase it on various formats, look at The Hoosiers official website here

Thursday 12 November 2015

LISTEN: Dry The River - 'Hooves Of Doubt'

Dry The River today released a new EP, Hooves Of Doubt, as a farewell gift to fans, announcing the news that after seven years, several tours and two albums, they're splitting up and focusing on other projects. Having been a fan of the band for a few years now, their music has become somewhat of a favourite of mine and in the three shows I was lucky enough to see the guys play, they showcased their brilliance as a live band, striking the folk-rock balance beautifully.

While its a little bittersweet to listen to the EP knowing that we won't get to hear the tracks live again, it's as stunning as their two albums (though apart from them, my favourite is probably an acoustic version of their debut, Shallow Bed, which they released online a couple of years ago.) Have a listen and if you haven't heard of them before, do check out their albums because they've got a wonderful back catalogue! 

Friday 30 October 2015

WATCH: Adam Barnes - 'Nebraska'

It's just over a month since Adam Barnes' latest EP, One Day We'll Be Fine, was released (read my review of the EP here), and he's just finished up a UK and Europe tour with his band and Chris Ayer supporting the EP. I can't recommend taking the chance to see Adam live if he plays near you, he's a stunning performer and this new EP is sounding better and better the more I listen to it. With the EP produced in a way that its true to the live performance, this live session, recorded by Adam's pianist James Walker, (who has his own vlog which you can find here), is pretty similar to the recording on the EP - which you can listen to and buy digitally or physically here on Adam's Bandcamp.

Thursday 29 October 2015

LIVE: Spector at O2 Academy Oxford (28/10/15)

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Spector live for the first time, up the road at Oxford's O2 Academy. By way of support they had fun sets from local chaps Orange Vision and Bill Ryder-Jones (previously of The Coral). The band finished up their UK tour tonight in London, in support of their recently released second album, Moth Boys. If you don't know Spector by name, you might know this track, Celestine, from their first album Enjoy It While It Lasts.

With frontman Fred Macpherson only singing during the show (rather than the typical band dynamic of frontman playing guitar), I was blown away by his level of showmanship. He was incredibly energetic and constantly trying to involve the crowd - which, though I suspect not quite their usual pushy crowd (a good point from my perspective of the evening), seemed to be enjoying it as much as I did, and it was virtually impossible not to yell back the lyrics to the band's well known tracks such as Friday Night, Don't Ever Let It End and Chevy Thunder, as well as many of the newer tracks, which Fred encouraged the crowd early on to sing if they knew the words, and if they didn't) including the final track of the night, the opener of the second record, All The Sad Young Men. His interaction with the crowd being a particular highlight of the night, his joking anecdote about the track coincidentally being written about a Wednesday night gig in Oxford in green lighting, moments that remind us that "sadly, we're alive" was pretty amusing.

Meeting Fred after the show briefly, he seemed like a really down to earth, lovely chap, and told me he used to play in a band with King Charles (after I recalled a tweet from a year or so ago about them sending each other their new albums to listen to). I'd recommend going to see them play if they're near you, but sadly the tour is over now, however I'm sure it won't be long until they're out on the road again!

Sunday 25 October 2015

LIVE: Balloon Ascents at O2 Academy Oxford (24/10/15)

Though I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself for the past few days (probably due to being out in the cold at a few gigs last week, and lack of sleep), I decided to pop down the road to the O2 Academy Oxford on Friday night to see local guys Balloon Ascents play their single launch for Don't Look Down, with local supports Loud Mountains, Little Brother Eli, and Esther Joy Lane - turned out to be a pretty good decision!

Artwork for the new Balloon Ascents release.
Arriving a little late I missed some of Loud Mountains set, but I was intrigued to see them play as they'd pulled out of a show I went to a few weeks ago. Looking back at the notes on my phone that I made to remember what I'd thought of the set, I find simply 'nice harmonies' and 'folky', which is a pretty concise but decent (?) review. They set the precedent for the night, with all four acts being local bands and artists, friends and linked in various ways, with different musical styles but fitting together quite well - testament to the brilliant organisation of Tigmus.

Second to play were Little Brother Eli, whose music started to form a little more of a crowd than the scattering of people found up to that point. Another local band which I get the impression are fairly well loved, they entered the stage dressed to impress. The five piece band, who describe their genre as 'bluesy garage rock' put on a fun set with superb guitar solos and an enthusiastic and powerful performance from frontman Alex. 

Esther Joy Lane was up next - perhaps the most surprising act of the night and the only soloist on the bill, playing electronic music (with a hint of guitar in one track until it disconnected - a glitch which she very smoothly dealt with!) With her soft voice she made the electronic music fit well into the night, where in theory it seemed a confusing addition - and a crowd, cheering on the local talent started to form, awaiting the arrival of the headliners. A particular highlight of her set was the closing track, Poets, an ode to the late Robin Williams. The night was special for Esther too in that she released an EP yesterday, and had play on BBC Radio 6 Music as 'Recommendation of the day' a couple of days ago. Definitely one to watch on the local scene.

Having seen Balloon Ascents a couple of times before including in the same venue a few months ago - I thought I knew what to expect, but the band felt like it had been invigorated. Frontman Thomas had gained another level of charisma (I'd be interested to see if he's been taking tips from other performers), jumping around the stage and belting out the lyrics to some of the band's well known tracks - for a relatively small local band this seems a strange thing to say, but the crowd, who loved every minute, were hanging on each word and recognising tracks from their opening chords. The band seemed to be having an equally great time, feeding off of one another's energy and excitement for the show.

The newly released tracks went down well, as well as a completely new track which Thomas invited the audience to "listen for the mistakes" in as it hadn't been played live before - but the band were tight as ever, having played together for around 5 years - no mean feat when they're all around 18 years old now. Showcasing their diversity as a band they took it down a notch to play the slightly more stripped back No - see a performance of the track from a Sofar Sounds show in Reading earlier in the year here. Another highlight of the set for me was the opening track, their take on William Blake's poem London which they created for a Sofar Sounds Oxford show earlier in the year. Take a watch below to see a snippet of Cutout, another recent single from the band. 

Overall a fun night (if spent mostly coughing at the back of the room) seeing four fairly different but each credible and talented local acts who are all doing well, and have great things ahead of them. You can stream and buy Don't Look Down/Someone on the Balloon Ascents bandcamp here, and see them live at The Bullingdon in Oxford on 29th November as part of Oxford City Festival.

Friday 23 October 2015

WATCH: Dawes 'All Your Favourite Bands' for Sofar Sounds

The video from Dawes' performance at a London Sofar Sounds show last month has just gone online -  their appearance at the show was announced just after I'd seen them live at Oslo Hackney. I was naturally on quite a Dawes buzz following the show and gutted to not manage to get tickets as I knew seeing them in the setting of a Sofar Sounds show would be incredible, and I love this video of the title track from their latest (and fantastic) record, All Your Favourite Bands. Quite ironically sad in it's own way for the fact that since these shows, the band have announced that long time pianist in the band, Tay Strathairn, has parted ways with the band. Sad news but, as another of the track's on the new album goes... Things Happen!

Thursday 22 October 2015

LIVE: Jack Savoretti at O2 Academy Oxford (21/10/15)

Last night I went to my 50th show of the year, seeing the absolutely phenomenal Jack Savoretti and his equally talented band (Pedro Vito on guitar, Jesper Lind on drums, John Bird Jr. on bass and Henry Bowers-Broadbent on piano) down the road at Oxford's O2 Academy. The set showcased much of Jack's record Written In Scars, which was released earlier in the year (check out my post about his brilliant instore at HMV Oxford St back in Feb), alongside tracks from his third album, Before The Storm and a few other tracks, including new songs from the re-release of his latest record - the heartbreaking Catapult and incredibly catchy Back Where I Belong.

Though not necessarily playing a set to 'warm up' the crowd, support Max Jury showcased his talent and set the tone of the evening, with his chilling vocals and carefully crafted lyrics. Considering how disrespectful the crowd were (typical of this kind of gig and venue) talking over him, I think he played a great set!

Playing for around 90 minutes, Jack and his band blew my socks off - it was the first time I'd seen him play a proper show and my hopes were well and truly surpassed! Highlights of the set for me were one of my favourite tracks of his, The Other Side Of Love (video above), and a solo performance of his stunning cover of a relatively unknown Bob Dylan track, Nobody 'Cept You. After perusing the merch stand (and parting with some of my student loan... shh) I decided to wait outside to try and meet Jack, and when he came out, he was such a gent, remembering me from when we'd met before and saying how great it was to see me again. I'm not lying when I say he's one of the most talented people I've had the pleasure of seeing live - if you get the chance to see him live (sadly his UK tour finished tonight), definitely take it up, but for now take a listen to the re-released version of his latest record, Written In Scars.

Saturday 17 October 2015

LISTEN: The Hoosiers - 'The Secret Service'

As someone without musical talents, I feel far more comfortable writing posts that I can refer to as recommendations, as I feel I've little right to explicitly review and criticise music. I mostly write about the music I have discovered myself and as such my posts are usually particularly personal, perhaps none more so than this, about a band who I am particularly passionate about!

Last night I had the fantastic opportunity to see The Hoosiers play a small, free show in Banbury, just a £4 return train trip away from Oxford! Train delays on the way there and the fact that the set was a pretty late one (so I had to rush to catch the last train after) aside, I had such a great night (and can't wait to see them again tomorrow night in Southampton at Engine Rooms.)

The band are a few dates into a UK tour in support of their recently released fourth album, The Secret Service. Featuring four tracks already released through recent EPs, the album is in my opinion a huge triumph. It showcases a really refreshing and broad range of tracks, from the fun The Wheels Fell Off and The Most Peculiar Day Of Your Life, the chilling Dancers In The Dark and (Don't Make) Eye Contact, to a particular favourite of mine, the incredibly catchy I Will Be King

Album art for The Secret Service
Starting with a fairly upbeat track reflective of their hit singles, Pristine, the album contrastingly finishes with a beautiful acoustic song (My) Secret Service, with drummer Alphonso Sharland on some cracking lead vocals. Much of the record reflects this stripped back track, as a lot of the album was recorded live. Unlike so many albums that you hear, where you can't help but be skeptical of how far the production process has taken the track, and whether the band could ever reach that level of perfection in a live performance - these songs feel authentic and this gives them quite passionate, heartfelt roots, which also comes across in the lyrics.

Releasing the record independently allowed the band creative freedom to produce music that they enjoy writing and performing - which comes across in the tracks, but also as a fan is reaffirming in that they'll carry on playing while they're enjoying it! Often the pressures that come in hand with a major record deal to produce commercial music can hinder the creative process and, I imagine, make it far less fun! 

Personally I'm really proud of the band for this record, it feels fairly grown up (they've even, funnily, got an explicit track on the record) whilst simultaneously sticking with the fun and catchy nature of the tracks that shot the band to fame all those years ago (the likes of Worried About Ray and Goodbye Mr. A). I'd hugely recommend giving it a listen! You can find out more about the record and order a copy on CD/Vinyl (releasing 30th October), and look at the band's remaining tour dates including London's The Borderline this Wednesday 21st October (sadly a gig clash for me but very much looking forward to seeing Jack Savoretti that evening!) here on the band's website.

Thursday 15 October 2015

LIVE: Little Mammoths at The Borderline (14/10/15)

Last night I trekked across to London to see Little Mammoths, a rock band fronted by Matt Owens (bassist of Noah & The Whale). Though I've seen Matt playing shows to support his solo record a lot over the past year I'd never seen them before and wasn't really sure what to expect. After a nightmare travelling to Oxford St due to a couple of road closures, I actually arrived just as the first support band came on stage.

Tom Figgins and his band were up next and put on a great show as usual, contending with a pretty talkative crowd but giving it their all nonetheless. With recent support from BBC Radio 2 and Chris Evans, Tom seems to finally be breaking through and I'd really recommend checking out his latest single, Giants Played In Woods Like These (official video) with which he closed the set - a great performance.

Tom Figgins 
Performing as an eight piece band (that to my surprise actually managed to all fit on stage) comprising of Matt and Tom on guitars, George Leigh on slide guitar, Oliver Cox on bass, James Besley on drums, Fred Abbott on keys and Nick Etwell and Dave Williamson (who play trumpet and trombone for Mumford & Sons), the show represented the first time that everyone who played on the upcoming Little Mammoths record played a show together under the moniker. They brought their unique style of rock and it was clear that the band was having as great a time as the packed out audience, ignoring the set times a little to play a couple of extra songs (who cares that there's a DJ set afterwards?!) as the crowd were left wanting more! Their set comprised of a lot of tracks from the upcoming record which is likely to be finished in 4 weeks or so - look out for a review once its ready! I really enjoyed the set and, reflective of Matt's solo record, the tracks all felt really personal in their lyrics, a highlight was one that I think was called 'Hometown', which was particularly poignant for the band having just finished a Scottish tour and returning to the London crowd, full of friends and family of the band.

Little Mammoths

Tuesday 13 October 2015

WATCH: The Hoosiers 'Up To No Good for SPG TV

October is looking fairly busy for me and this week is no exception with 4 or 5 gigs in the pipeline. Two of those are my favourite band The Hoosiers (of Goodbye Mr A fame) at a local Oxfordshire show in Banbury on Friday and Southampton on Sunday. The band just released their latest album, The Secret Service, on Friday, following the release of two EPs which featured a few of the album tracks. A particular favourite track of mine is the title track of the second EP, Up To No Good, which in my opinion is one of the band's best tracks - loving this new acoustic session of the track for Student Pocket Guide

The Hoosiers have just started their UK tour, dates and tickets here including a show at London's intimate The Borderline.

Monday 12 October 2015

LIVE: My week in gigs (5th - 11th October)

Last week saw my gig tally for the year reach 45 as I took in three shows, first Oxford Sofar Sounds, then Festifeel, and Everything Everything at Under The Bridge.

Always a pleasure to attend and to photograph, this month's Sofar Sounds show in Oxford was a wonderful evening of live music and brilliant company. Held in a primary school hall just out of central Oxford that the team managed to make feel really special - we had Lail Arad, Hattie Briggs and √íkina, alongside Adam Barnes (the first act I've seen at a Sofar show that I've been a fan of beforehand - really loved getting to see him play again, he and his band are incredible artists) and Chris Ayer, who has been playing alongside Adam on his UK tour. Some of my shots from the evening are in the Flickr album below - take a look!

If you're interested in attending a Sofar Sounds show in Oxford (or closer to you - they're held in around 160 cities) get more information and sign up to be informed of shows here, they're really special nights and I'd definitely recommend it!

Sofar Sounds Oxford - 8/10/15

The second gig of the weekend was Festifeel, a festival curated by Fearne Cotton and in aid of CoppaFeel! (info), a breast cancer awareness charity which has a focus upon encouraging young girls to check their breasts regularly, promoting early detection of the cancer. The festival was held at House Of Vans in London, where I spent a fairly chilled out afternoon with one of my flatmates watching a documentary about the charity's founder, Kris, who discovered she had breast cancer too late and set up the charity to promote awareness - seeing her around on the day was pretty inspiring. We also saw some live comedy and watched some other festival attendees learning to skate, before getting into the midst of the crowd and catching sets from Lucy Rose, Slaves and Everything Everything. Whilst the crowd was quite the opposite of the seated and captive audience of Thursday's Sofar show, and minutes in I was soaked with beer, and being shoved around during Slaves set (hadn't listened to them before but was impressed and knew to expect a rough crowd..) it was a fun evening and Everything Everything blew me away, cue some terrible quality phone photos..

Lucy Rose
Everything Everything
On Sunday evening I was lucky enough to see Everything Everything again at an intimate and free show for Q Awards at Under The Bridge, a really lovely venue with great sound snuck away under  Chelsea's Stamford Bridge. Playing a slightly longer set than Saturday night's festival set, and even coming out for an unplanned encore of first album track My Kz, Ur Bf - it was clear that the band were having as great a time as the audience, all beaming with pride to hear the audience singing back tracks from all three of their albums (no mean feat as their lyrics are inherently difficult to grasp.) I've been listening to them for a couple of years now and loved their second record, Arc, but I believe their latest record Get To Heaven is probably one of the top five albums I've ever heard. You can vote for it in the Q Awards category for best album here

Up close and personal with Everything Everything last night.
Overall a really fun week of shows, looking forward to seeing The Hoosiers twice this week as well as (as long as I don't get inundated with university work..) Little Mammoths, Frances and Oxjam in Reading or Oxford on Saturday!

Friday 9 October 2015

LISTEN: Foreign Affairs 'You Said To Me' for Breast Cancer Care

As a small blog submissions aren't regular but it is always great to get music sent to listen to via email, and this new track from Foreign Affairs is no exception. The band is a trio with two brothers,  Adam and Lawrence Purnell, and bassist Ben Sweeney. My path crossed with Adam a few years ago when he was playing shows alongside Sam Beeton A talented artist in his own right, Adam and his brother started the folk-rock band in 2012, and have recently released their debut album, The First.

The band's new track, entitled You Said To Me, is great musically, but more-so, its heart-wrenching lyrics take the fore, inspired by the brother's experiences, here explained by Adam:
"Just over four years ago our mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, which came as a huge shock to our family; we'd always heard of stories but never really thought it would happen to our mum. After a mastectomy and numerous rounds of chemotherapy, the strength and determination that our mum showed and still shows on a daily basis to fight the disease inspired us to write a song about our family's experience."
Hear a little more from the band in this interview, in which you can hear the track in the background, too.

The band's bassist has shockingly had a similar experience, with his mother also being previously diagnosed with breast cancer. Though the track was written by Lawrence predominantly for his mother, the track has now taken on a life of its own - the band contacted Breast Cancer Care and the track has just been released through the charity as part of its campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the leading charity for the support of women with breast cancer, the charity does great work and the proceeds from sales of the track will all go towards the charity, helping them to continue with this work. 

You can download the track here, and find out more about the charity on its website here.

Thursday 8 October 2015

WATCH: Jack Savoretti - 'Back Where I Belong'

I'm loving this new video from Jack Savoretti for his recent single Back Where I Belong, taken from the recent re-release of his album Written In Scars. The video shows footage of Jack and his band from over summer, at various festivals and shows around the world. He's just started a UK tour which sees him play The Roundhouse in London a week today on the 15th October - I can't wait to see him playing at the O2 Academy Oxford.

For more info on the new edition of the record, go to his website here, and tour dates/tickets for the remaining shows are here (get in quick as many are sold out!) 

Wednesday 7 October 2015

LISTEN: Half Moon Run - 'I Can't Figure Out What's Going On'

With their album coming out in just over two weeks, Half Moon Run have premiered the studio version of another track from it, following Trust, Turn Your Love and Hands In The Garden. This new track is I Can't Figure Out What's Going On (handily shortened to 'Figure Out' on the setlist from a recent show I saw them at in London. I recall this being a highlight of the set at the show - and alongside the other new tracks, it is giving me pretty high hopes of the upcoming record Sun Leads Me On, the follow up to their stunning debut record, Dark Eyes.

The album is out 23rd October, more info on the band's site here

Monday 5 October 2015

ALBUM NEWS: King Charles - 'Gamble For A Rose'

Stop what you're doing because Monday just got pretty exciting... King Charles has this morning announced details of his second album, entitled Gamble For A Rose. It's going to be released through Buffalo Gang, via Kobalt, on 22nd January 2016, just under four years since his first record, LoveBlood, was released.

With a great track listing featuring a number of old and updated tracks, including a new version of Lady Of The River that I'm particularly excited to hear a studio recording of, the album looks set to be a stunning collection of music and worth the long wait since Charles' first record. You can listen to the first track from the album, Loose Change for the Boatman, above, and download it for FREE here. Having heard the track live a few times this year I'm personally loving the studio version, and particularly loving the prominence of the strings in the track, which, along with the rest of the record, was produced by Mumford & Son's Marcus Mumford. As a first single from the record, the track is really strong and gives a good indication of what to expect from the rest of the record!

Album artwork for King Charles' new album, source:

The track listing for Gamble For A Rose is as follows:

Loose Change for the Boatman
Animal Desires
Gamble for a Rose
Lady of the River
St Peter's Gate
Tomorrow's Fool
New Orleans
Carry Me Away
Bright Thing
In Silhoutte
Coco Chitty

For more info and for links to pre-order the album on signed CD, signed vinyl or iTunes, go here.

Friday 2 October 2015

LIVE: Adam Barnes at Arts at the Old Fire Station (1/10/15)

Yesterday I went to my 41st (!) gig of the year, Adam Barnes at Arts at the Old Fire Station in Oxford, a hometown, sold out show to mark the start of his UK tour with American soloist Chris Ayer supporting. The tour is to promote Adam's recently released EP One Day We'll Be Fine, which I recently wrote a post on - read that here and you can listen to the EP via iTunes, Spotfiy etc as well as physical CD's on Adam's website.

Adam Barnes at The Old Fire Station
The show last night, in a theatre setting, was a really cosy evening of beautiful live music, set up perfectly by Chris Ayer's support set, which was extended as the local support had to pull out of the show. Setting the tone for the evening, Chris' tracks were mostly pretty emotional - but who doesn't enjoy a bit of depressing acoustic music? 

A particular highlight of the show (for many, probably) was the crowd, who were really respectful and quiet throughout both sets, getting to sing along to Adam's cover of Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time. Video, complete with cheesy lighting and high pitched singing-along here. The video below is the lead single of the new EP, I Can't Love You Anymore. What was great about the performance was that it sounded really true to the EP, which is so well produced as to keep Adam's vocals as the main focus - which, in an intimate theatre venue with a quiet crowd, was the case for the performance. Overall a night of wonderful company, beautiful harmonies from Adam and his band, and some really talented artists.

Adam plays Norwich tonight - the rest of the UK tour dates and ticket links for the shows, including a show at London's The Social on Wednesday (which unfortunately clashes with the Bake Off final!) are here

Wednesday 30 September 2015

WATCH: Laish 'When I'm Coming' for Sofar Sounds

After being at home for summer I went to my first Oxford Sofar Sounds in a few months a couple of weeks ago at Art Jericho. I loved the Martin Grover exhibition at the gallery, with large, incredibly realistic paintings of motown record sleeves adoring the walls - check out my shots from the evening on Flickr here.

The first, and one of my favourite acts of the evening (as I'm pretty partial to a chap with an acoustic guitar) was London based Laish, the video above is of his performance at a London Sofar Sounds earlier in the year. A highlight of his set was a point at which he asked the audience (a typically silent Sofar crowd) to make bird noises during his song - the room erupted in beautiful whistles! He's got a lovely, distinctive voice and interesting and quirky lyrics; I always enjoy that due to the nature of Sofar sets you can really listen to the lyrics and see the passion behind the music without any of the distractions that a more conventional, less stripped back show might entail. 

Some videos of his performance at Union Chapel back in March have just emerged online, if you like what you hear above you can watch those here.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

ALBUM NEWS: Baio - 'The Names'

It was a pretty last minute decision to go to Baio's instore at Rough Trade East last night - but a great decision! The instore followed the release of his debut solo record The Names just over a week ago on Glassnote Records. The set - though pretty loud for a Monday evening - was superb, and showcased most of the 9-track album. If you're into dance music or Vampire Weekend I highly recommend checking it out - as Baio happens to be the bassist of the band. One of my favourite tracks is above, the opener, Brainwash Yyrr Face - I can't explain why I love it so much but take a listen! If you're not into dance music so much, then try out the track Sister Of Pearl, which I posted about recently, as it's probably the closet to Vampire Weekend's style of music. 

Chatting to Chris after, he told me that he's wanted to release solo music for a while and has finally found the time, and he's really happy with how the record turned out. He was particularly excited at seeing the inside of the record sleeve for the first time, and as I suspected, was enjoying playing small shows such as this, with Vampire Weekend playing arenas on their last tours. 

Overall I'm really loving the record and I'd say that if you get the chance to see Baio live - definitely take it up - even just his dancing on stage (similar to the Sister Of Pearl video..) is enough to put a smile on your face!

Baio at Rough Trade East.

Monday 28 September 2015

LISTEN: Roo Panes - 'Stay With Me'

If you're partial, as I am, to acoustic, wholesome music then you should take a listen to the new track from Roo Panes, Stay With Me. Having recently supported George Ezra at a small Oxford warm up show that I was gutted to miss, moving home for summer just days before, and soon to be supporting Rae Morris on tour alongside Dan Owen, his career seems to be heading in a great direction. I haven't listened to much of his music before but remember seeing and loving his various sessions for Burberry Acoustic (particularly this), a tool through which I have discovered a few great artists. This new track is from Roo's upcoming album Paperweights, details of which are yet to be announced!

Dates for the Rae Morris UK tour and ticket links are here, with a big show at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on 8th October!

Saturday 26 September 2015

LISTEN: Half Moon Run - 'Hands In The Garden'

After desperately wanting to see them live for a couple of years, I was lucky enough to get tickets for Canadian indie rockers Half Moon Run, who played a small show at London's Oslo Hackney to premiere music from their upcoming record, Sun Leads Me On, which is due to be released on 23rd October. 

After snapping up their debut album, Dark Eyes, in a four for £10 offer at my local music store, I've listened to it an awful lot over the past few years - tracks you are likely to know from it are Full  Circle and Call Me In The Afternoon, a track which, with 3 of the band's four members playing drums, was an energetic and fun experience for the band and the crowd alike. I have high hopes for the upcoming record and these were supported by the release of recent singles Trust and Turn Your Love, which both went down really well live earlier this week. The 16 track set included those, and 7 other new tracks, one of which was Hands In The Garden, which the band have just released online. With elements such as the harmonica and beautiful harmonies, it has got what a fan of the band's first record will have come to expect, whilst appealing to first time listeners too.

The band play a short UK tour following the release in October, with a massive headline show at London's Roundhouse in March. The show this week was the first in a while to leave me trembling in awe after the set - I was particularly impressed with the showmanship and energy of the whole band - I'd recommend getting along to one of these shows if they're playing near you! Tour dates and tickets are here.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

WATCH: Dawes - 'All Your Favorite Bands'

There isn't really enough time in the day for me to tell you all how much I love the latest Dawes record, particularly its understated but beautifully performed title track All Your Favorite Bands. When I saw the band at London's Oslo Hackney recently, they performed this as their final track, a departure from the usual loud and energetic encore performance of many bands, but a really powerful and uplifting singalong. The song's message, "may all your favourite bands stay together", is one of the best things, as a music lover, that someone could say to me. Check out the official video for the track which the band have just released, featuring the likes of My Morning Jacket, Brendon Flowers and Conor Oberst