Tuesday 30 June 2015

WATCH: Mumford & Sons - 'The Wolf'

Following their return this year with a number one record, Wilder Mind, British folk-rockers Mumford & Sons are currently touring worldwide, bringing the show to the UK with a Gentlemen of the Road stopover in Aviemore, Scotland, at the end of July, with a UK tour likely towards the end of this year and start of 2016. Here's the video for the latest single from the record, The Wolf, directed by Marcus Haney, showing the band playing and wandering about (in disguise?!) at Tennessee festival Bonnaroo - a fun video for a lively track. 

Sunday 28 June 2015

LISTEN: The Sons release self-titled EP

A few weeks ago I went to a local (ish) gig in Milton Keynes, where my favourite band, The Hoosiers, were playing. Before their set I was impressed by the second support act of the evening, a local band called The Sons, a five person ensemble who played upbeat, funky tracks and helped to set the fun, lively atmosphere for The Hoosiers - particularly with a saxophonist on stage! I later realised the band itself is actually the bassist and drummer, brothers Alex and George. Read my post about the gig in question here.

Above is the band's debut self-titled EP, a home recording mixed and mastered by Josh Dickens (view his site here). A warning though.. it's opening track, Life In My Pocket, has been stuck in my head on and off since the gig - very catchy!

The Sons performing at MK11 a few weeks ago.

WATCH: Serge Pizzorno (Kasabian) 'British Legion'

2014 was a huge year for Leicester band Kasabian, a personal favourite of mine, with Glastonbury 2015 marking a year since their glorious headline set at the festival in support of their latest record, 48:13, as well as a huge hometown Summer Solstice show. On a slightly more reserved note is this new video of the band's guitarist Serge Pizzorno giving an acoustic performance of the band's track British Legion, taken from their second studio album, Empire. 

Thursday 25 June 2015

WATCH: Hilang Child 'Chaturanga' (Sofar Sounds)

Wanted to share this beautiful video of Hilang Child performing his track Chaturanga for Sofar Sounds in London. Think the Sofar Youtube team have got it spot on commenting that 'Hilang Child's vocals will stop you in your tracks, guaranteed.' I saw him play live supporting the brilliant Sivu on the London date of his recent tour, in a church setting, where he opened his set playing a track on a grand piano right in front of the pew I was sat in - pretty immersive performance! Definitely one to watch out for, his recent AA-single Thule/Endless String is on iTunes here.

Monday 22 June 2015

GIG NEWS: King Charles at Bush Hall (29th July 2015)

Charles playing at The Forum in February.
King Charles, a favourite artist of mine, has today announced an intimate London gig on the 29th July at Bush Hall, as a warm up for his set at the Mumford & Sons Stopover in Aviemore the following weekend! The show follows a 28 day UK tour back in February, where the band premiered material from the upcoming second record.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10am at this link.  

Sunday 21 June 2015

LIVE: Matt Owens & The DVP at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen (18/6/15)

On Thursday I went to London for the day with my mum (for my birthday which was yesterday), mostly to see the superb Matt Owens and his band The Delusional Vanity Project. The show was the launch of Matt's solo record, Songs For An Empty Room, a slight departure from his work as a  founding member of Noah & The Whale, but brilliant in its own right - read my review of the record here.

The show was at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen and after walking in the opposite direction to the venue for a while we were lucky to get there just in time for opening act Tom Figgins, who played solo and also plays as part of Matt's band. Playing to a fairly small offering of people, most of whom made up Matt's band, Tom put in a lively performance regardless, and really won me over with his solo tracks. Check out this performance of his track Let Your Roots Grow.

The second support set was from Stratford-upon-Avon band My Grey Horse. I had taken a listen to their latest EP online before the show and had enjoyed it. Whilst I can't remember much about the set apart from that there was a lot of clapping, it was great and I certainly remember liking it enough to take a punt on the band's album I Still Don't Understand at the merch stall. Having since listened to it a couple of times I'm loving the record and would recommend it (sadly no idea what to compare it to!) You can order physical copies of the album here on the band's store.

The bar's gig room having filled up, it was time for Matt's set. As with the other times I've seen the band play lately, the performance was highly fuelled and a showcase of the talents of the individual members of the ensemble. For instance, the band features Matt's Noah bandmate Fred Abbott on keys, who is also working on a solo record, Serious Poke, out late July. Above is a video I got of the band performing one of my favourite tracks of the record, Jack Does Hollywood, which is a sort of rough rock track about channelling Jack the Ripper and going on a killing spree in Hollywood... It was a really fun evening, by the end of the set a mass of the crowd had broke into dance, which culminated in this vine!

To gain more experience shooting gigs I took my camera along, I got the below shot when trying out  the settings from the crowd, and you can view some more of my photos of Matt's set here.


Playing a UK tour of sorts and constantly booking new shows to promote the record, you can catch Matt at various shows in London, as well as in Leeds, Manchester and Brighton. All dates and ticket/RSVP info on his website here.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

WATCH: Foals - 'What Went Down'

Following my post last week about the announcement of a new Foals record, here's the video for the first track to be released, the title track of the record, What Went Down, which was given its first radio play yesterday evening on Radio 1. Whilst perhaps not their best track (a title which is, in fairness, pretty hard to claim), there's no denying its quite the tune and will be a crowd pleaser when the charming indie rockers take the new record on tour. An interesting discussion from lead vocalist and guitarist Yannis Philippakis with Annie Mac following the first play of the track last night brought up the beastly, animalistic nature of the track, a slightly heavier style which the band have incorporated into the record, whilst still keeping in touch with the upbeat rock and brilliant riffs that fans have come to love.

What Went Down is released on 28th August through the lovely folk at Transgressive Records, and you can find the links to pre-order it on various formats here.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

WATCH: Stornoway - 'Man On Wire'

Taken from their recent album, Bonxie, here is the new video for the Stornoway track Man On Wire - a favourite track of mine from the record. The video, one of the best I've seen in a while, is an artistic masterpiece, reflecting both the epic nature of the track and the band's close link with nature, with stunning birds eye view shots. A fairly recent discovery of mine, I'd certainly recommend taking a listen to the record, as well as their impressive back catalogue. 

Monday 15 June 2015

LIVE: my day at Bushstock 2015...

I've been to a couple of local free festivals, and had half a day at Cambridge Folk Festival a couple of years back, but on Saturday I took a trip to London (again) and had my first proper festival experience at Bushstock. After being offered the tickets by a wonderful friend who won them but had already bought some, I made the last minute choice, the day before the festival, to go along. In retrospect - brilliant  choice. Organised and run by Communion, you know you're in safe hands in terms of the line-up, as  the label has ties with the likes of George Ezra, Ben Howard and Half Moon Run. Though I left early and didn't check them out, this years festival was headlined by Lucy Rose, Michael Kiwanuka, and Villagers, with various other fantastic acts throughout the day.

As the festival started up, we checked out Ady Suleiman at The Courtyard, a new and intimate stage area in an outside part of The University of the Arts. Being a particular favourite of my friend's, his set was a no-brainer, but I went into it blind, having not heard any of Ady's tracks beforehand. What might be described as R&B with soulful vocals and harmonies, I found his set impressive, performing tracks from his recent release This Is My EP with his talented band.

Ady Suleiman
After Ady's set we grabbed some food and dashed around to the beautiful St. Stephen's Church, where Frances was playing. Having recently played on the Communion New Faces tour, I came to this set more prepared, but my expectations were exceeded. I'm not one to constantly compare artists, but she could be seen as a Rae Morris and Adele hybrid of sorts. Basically, Frances isn't short of talent. Her style suited the church venue perfectly, and her set was topped off by a beautiul performance of her recent new track 'Grow' (below), which is the title track from her upcoming EP, released July 10th. A brilliant, chilling live artist, you can catch her live at Servant Jazz Quarters in London on Wednesday 14th October.

After this set we decided to head to the Albertine Wine Bar, where the first of three secret special guests, Alex Vargas, had just been announced. Having heard good things of his music but not having listened to him, this was another great musical discovery of the day, alongside a wonderful stage presence and great stage banter, his haunting style filling out the intimate, packed wine bar in a stunning way. He must be doing something right as he's just sold out four dates in London this month, so I guess I should also be grateful to have seen him fairly early in what will probably be a fruitful and long career in music. Certain that the special guests could only get better, we decided to stick around and wait for the next announcement - particularly as there was apparently a huge queue to get into the venue for the second set. Shortly, this was announced to be the incredibly talented Nick Mulvey, a particular favourite of mine. As expected, his set in this jam-packed bar was incredible, and I felt genuinely lucky to have witnessed it. Time ticked on and the speculation was confirmed, the third act were The Staves. I was aware of their music and how well loved they are in the folk community, but again I hadn't really listened to them (it was a day of brilliant discoveries!) The harmonious, quiet, unplugged set from the gifted sisters was a pleasure to listen to. In short: Communion weren't lying when they said they were 'special' guests, it was a superb mini line-up.

Alex Vargas
Nick Mulvey
The Staves

The final act of the day that I checked out before choosing to leave early as I was tired and needed to catch a train home, was Port Isla at Bush Hall. I'd heart about them for supporting James Bay on his recent UK tour, and my friend was keen to check out their set. The set was energetic and fun regardless of the band being down a regular member, and I'm interested to take a listen to the band's EPs to see how their recorded music sounds.

Port Isla
It's my opinion that once you scratch the surface, the music industry is far smaller than it first seems, and this is obvious nowhere more than at this sort of day. Throughout the day I saw various artists, music industry people, and friends around, and everyone that I met was incredibly friendly - even the security! Overall I had a great experience at the festival which is fairly new, in only its fifth year, and I'd definitely consider going along to the festival next year!

LISTEN: The Maccabees - 'Something Like Happiness'

Just got around to listening to this new track from The Maccabees, which, alongside recent (and incredibly catchy) single Marks To Prove It, is taken from their upcoming record of the same name. A fairly epic sounding track held together by its drum pattern and choir-like vocals, it steers slightly away from their typical sound, at points sounding like it could be a track from a band of the same ilk as Fleet Foxes or Grizzly Bear, whilst simultaneously having the familiar charming lead vocals of Orlando Weeks. 

The Maccabees fourth studio album, Marks To Prove It, is released July 31st.

Sunday 14 June 2015

TOUR NEWS: Adam Barnes releases 'One Day We'll Be Fine' EP


Following the release of his debut album The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath last year, Adam Barnes has just announced a new EP, One Day We'll Be Fine, which is set to be released on 27th September. The EP is supported by a headline tour of small, intimate venues across the UK, starting off with a hometown show in Oxford. Support comes from Los Angeles artist Chris Ayer, and I would really recommend getting along to a show if you can - having seen Adam at a small house concert earlier this year, I can confidently say he's brilliant performing in that sort of setting!

You can find tickets for the shows here.

Saturday 13 June 2015

LIVE: The Sea & I at The Islington (11/6/15)

On Thursday evening I saw The Sea & I live at The Islington in London... after spending the day in London with a friend from home being complete tourists and walking around far too much. Arriving at the venue fashionably early it was nice to hear a snippet of the bands sound-checking, and to grab a quick chat with Irwin and Paul from the band, before waiting around for doors to open.

The first support was a guy going by the name Privacy, who played a cracking set that reminded me of Fryars. Standing on stage with his keyboard and prone-to-rebooting-halfway-through-a-song MacBook, his stage banter made the set a great open to the evening. This glitchy, slow-paced set was followed by the loud rock tunes of Harry Mundy & The Mules, who oozed energy throughout their set. 

As expected, the headliners, The Sea & I, were superb. Having seen them previously at the same venue backed up by London Contemporary Voices and London Chamber Brass, you might expect the sound to feel small in comparison; the truth is anything but. It's honestly such an honour to see them playing live, being one of my favourite bands at the minute, making some of the best (in my opinion) music around currently. Their two EPs (find them on iTunes/soundcloud or buy them both on a CD through the band's store here) contain some of my favourite tracks, and retain their charm and brilliance when performed live. It's particularly nice to see that Stephanie O'Brien is performing violin with the band, as the strings on the EPs are certainly a highlight for me. 

I took some photos at the show, but my camera struggled to cope with the low/red lighting of the venue, so they all turned out quite blurry, but I've salvaged a few and put them on my Flickr here


I also recorded the band performing the title track from their latest EP, The Great I Am, which they recently released an official video for. Aside from train delays after a frantic rush to the station after the gig, it was all in all a superb evening and I highly recommend getting along to the band's next gig at The Islington on 25th June (tickets here.) 

Friday 12 June 2015

ALBUM NEWS: Foals - 'What Went Down'

Exciting news klaxon.... Oxfordshire guitar band Foals have a new album, entitled What Went Down coming out towards the end of summer. The title track of the record will debut on Radio 1 next week, so for now we're left with this teaser clip. As the follow up to their hugely successful third album Holy Fire, expectations are pretty high for this record, but I'm fairly confident these will be realised, with the record being said to 'touch upon the depths of madness whilst also exhibiting some of the most beautiful pop songs the band have ever written' (Transgressive.)

Source: https://www.facebook.com/Foals
The record is released through Transgressive on August 28th and is available to pre-order from 16th June. The track listing is as follows:

What Went Down
Mountain At My Gates
Birch Tree
Give It All
Snake Oil
Night Swimmers
London Thunder
Lonely Hunter
A Knife In The Ocean 

Wednesday 10 June 2015

LISTEN: Fred Abbott - 'Adrenaline Shot'

Premiered yesterday by Gigwise, here is the latest offering from the debut solo record, Serious Poke, of Fred Abbott (of Noah & The Whale). Alongside the first track to be shared from the record, Funny How Good It Feels, it gives a good indicator of the feel of the record, being a fun, punchy track which, whilst not straying too far from Noah's sound (which is natural as a few of Fred's Noah bandmates feature on the record) is perhaps more experimental and rock-y, showcasing the lack of creative pressures typical of an independent  label release.

Adrenaline Shot will be available on iTunes this Monday, 15th June, with Fred's debut solo record, Serious Poke, being released through Lojinx on 20th July.

GIG NEWS: The Sea & I residency at The Islington

I'm looking forward to seeing The Sea & I live tomorrow at The Islington, where they'll be joined by Harry Mundy & The Mules and PrivacyThey've currently got a residency at the venue, with another gig upcoming on the 25th of June, which is sure to feature more brilliant guests. The band is a constantly changing ensemble of talented artists headed up by Paul Frith and Irwin Sparkes (vocalist and guitarist of The Hoosiers), to whom collaboration is high on the agenda, with a couple of their gigs featuring collaborations with London Contemporary Voices, for example. They're honestly one of the best bands I've seen perform live, playing what you might describe as alternative folk, but bringing, through employment of choirs, brass and string sections, a big sound to this genre. At these shows they'll be performing tracks from their self-titled debut EP as well as their latest offering, The Great I Am, alongside new tracks (which I've heard live already and are sounding superb!) Below is a live video of the band performing the track Mutineer, taken from their debut EP, which you can listen to on Soundcloud here.

Tickets for the shows are available here.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

WATCH: Adam Barnes 'Green' for Rockstone Sessions

At just 22 years old, Oxford musician Adam Barnes can often be found playing various shows and house gigs around Europe and the UK, and he last year released his debut record, The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath, yet surprisingly (to me) he's still not a full time musician. Here's a recent session of a track from that record, Green, recorded in the Netherlands for Rockstone Sessions. I love the honesty and clarity that comes across in Adam's performances, both in sessions such as this and in live performances, having recently seen him at a house gig in Oxford.

Monday 8 June 2015

GIG NEWS: Matt Owens at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen (18th June 2015)

Matt Owens (aka Urby Whale) of Noah & The Whale has just announced that his London show at The Hoxton Bar and Kitchen on 18th June is going to be a launch show for his solo record, Songs For An Empty Room. The record is superb (read my review of it here) and with a group of talented musicians playing as his band The Delusional Vanity Project, his live shows are pretty great too. The show on the 18th June comes with support from Tom Figgins and My Grey Horse, and tickets are here.

Matt's recent gig at The Boogaloo.

WATCH: The Slow Show 'Augustine' for Sofar Sounds

A video from the latest Sofar Sounds Oxford show that I attended, of the final act of the evening, The Slow Show, has recently been uploaded onto the Sofar YouTube channel. Following a night of spoken word, ukulele, double bass, beatboxing and free-styling, from three solo acts in the form of Rex Domino, Bellatrix, and Dizraeli, the band topped off the show wonderfully, giving a reserved but emotive performance, beautifully accompanied by a brass section. Their performance was beautiful in its simplicity, really showcasing what I love about Sofar, giving artists an opportunity to play a set to a silent, attentive audience of music lovers in unusual and quirky locations.


You can check out more sessions from various Sofar Sounds gigs around the world here, and sign up to receive monthly gig dates here.

Saturday 6 June 2015

LIVE: The Hoosiers at MK11 (4/6/15)

A few days ago I went to my first gig since being home from university - and who better than my favourite band, The Hoosiers, in a bar seemingly in the middle of nowhere just outside the centre of Milton Keynes. If you're not familiar with the band's new music then you'll probably know of their hits Goodbye Mr A, Cops & Robbers and Worried About Ray. They've been my favourite band for a while now, and they were my first proper gig just over 4 years ago. I've been thinking lately about how much the band has had an impact on my life, it's pretty cliché but true.. I've made a lot of friends and connections through the band, and at that first gig of theirs that I went to, Sam Beeton was supporting, through whom I've had many great experiences and met a bunch of great people. As the first band that I was ever really passionate about, they've probably had an effect on my aspirations to work in music too, which is pretty cool to think about. 

One member down, the band put on a great performance regardless, with the keys player Sam Swallow playing the bass parts through his keyboard. Naturally the dynamic of the band felt lacking to an extent as Irwin Sparkes (lead vocals and guitar) and Martin Skarendahl (bass) often play and bounce off one another, but the performance certainly wasn't lacking in energy, with Irwin getting into the crowd for the end of track Made To Measure (video.) Being just over a year since I'd last saw the band, when they were touring their latest, self-released record, The News From Nowhere, it was interesting to see how some of the newer tracks had developed live. Sadly though, the set was incredibly short and thus mostly featured the hit tracks from the band's first record. Nevertheless it was a great night and it was fantastic to chat to the band afterwards, and with a new album supposedly in the pipeline for later in the year, hopefully it won't be too long before I get to see the band again - and to post about new music on here!

As I'm getting into photography again and trying to gain experience taking photos at gigs, I snapped up the opportunity to take my camera along to the gig and shoot my favourite band, a couple of the shots, including one of the support band, The Sons, are below, with some more on my Flickr account here

Source: Megan Seekings
Source: Megan Seekings

Wednesday 3 June 2015

WATCH: Tenterhook - 'What I Like'

Take a listen to the latest single from Tenterhook, entitled What I Like. Along with Frances, who I recently posted about, he played the April Communion Music 'New Faces' tour, and I really enjoyed his stripped back acoustic solo set. His performance, though simple, struck me as authentic and I enjoyed the tracks - which I hadn't had time to check out before the show. I actually find it quite interesting going to a gig having no idea what to expect from an artist or their music, giving them the chance to impress me with their live performance. Loving this track which is released on Cartoon Records on the 8th June.

You can catch Tenterhook live at The Lexington on 24th June, tickets here.