Monday 27 June 2016

FESTIVAL NEWS: Sweetnotes Festival (16th July)

From the team organising Macmillan Fest, there's a new one-day festival in Nottingham next month giving local indie artists the opportunity and the platform to support larger artists, with The Hoosiers headlining. The festival is taking place at The Rescue Rooms and the venue's smaller upstairs space, Red Rooms. There will be thirteen acts performing from 2 til 10pm, with no clashes at all (if you want to go up and down stairs several times during the day to really get your money's worth!) Headlining the second stage is local rising artist Richard Jenkins - check out his first music video here. Looking forward to hopefully getting along to the show to see The Hoosiers in the venue where I saw them for the first time back in May 2011!

Tickets for the day are £15 in advance and available here, and join the Facebook event here.

Friday 24 June 2016

WATCH: Jack Savoretti - 'Catapult' for Zermatt Unplugged

To be honest, I'm so fond of Jack Savoretti and his music that I'd probably be happy watching him perform just about anywhere, but a beautiful setting does add something. This is true of this new session, filmed at Zermatt Unplugged in the snowy Swiss mountains. Jack, Pedro and John perform the track Catapult from last year's super record Written In Scars (which I'd hugely recommend taking a listen to if you haven't already...)

Jack plays a few festivals over Summer, as well as a massive headline show at Eventim Hammersmith Apollo in November - dates and tickets all here!

Wednesday 22 June 2016

PREVIEW: Little Brother Eli release album 'Cold Tales'

One of my favourite music discoveries over the couple of years I've been studying in Oxford is Little Brother Eli, who release their debut album, Cold Tales, this weekend. The album is out on Friday and you can hear it live on Saturday at The Bullingdon, with support from Neverlnd (another of my favourite Oxford bands!) and Nine Miles South. They're also playing an acoustic set before the show over the road at Truck - having seen them play acoustic at Sofar Sounds Oxford I'd definitely recommend getting along to that!

Performing live, the band's tracks are bluesy, loud and catchy, drawing recommendations to the likes of The Black Keys, and the album manages to replicate this wonderfully. Lead vocalist Alex Grew's range always manages to surprise me, as well as his contagious energy onstage. The album features tracks such as Beautiful, Who Do You, Dreams and Gold (below) which go down pretty well at live shows.

Forming in early 2013 with Grew and bassist Josh Rigal, the band were joined by guitarist Adam Stowe and drummer Benji Page, sharing their wide mix of musical influences along with lap steel specialist Tom Williams. Jamming together they created their own blend of bluesy garage rock, a combination of Grew's soulful vocals and growling guitars. Over the past couple of years, as well as playing in over 100 different venues around the country, the band have started to acquire a loyal local following, so the show on Saturday should have a really fun atmosphere - wish I was in town for it!

To pre-order the album, head to the band's site here. Tickets for this Saturday's show are available here - if you can't make it, come along to their Tigmus headline show upstairs at the O2 in October, more info here.

Sunday 19 June 2016

LIVE: Bushstock Festival 2016

Yesterday I went to my last gig/festival as a teenager and my first for a month, the sixth Bushstock Festival (my second) and experienced some wonderful live music amongst passionate music fans. Organised by Communion Music, the festival was almost guaranteed to be a winner in terms of the line-up, with the label championing so many superb up and coming artists in London and beyond (Ben Howard, Nick Mulvey and James Bay to name a few!) Being the cheapskate (and student!) I am, I didn't buy a ticket, but entered all the competitions I could find, and won a pair of tickets for the festival through TOMS (thanks TOMS!) A part of the prize was also access to an acoustic garden set by Dan Croll, the headliner of the biggest venue on the night.

Until that set, I didn't have anything I was desperate to see, but knew that if the festival was like last year, there would be a secret line-up (last year I saw Alex Vargas, Nick Mulvey and The Staves in the secret stage). There was, but this year they'd split it into two venues, meaning more people would get a shot as last year most people seemed to stick around for all three sets. I checked Twitter and they'd announced Luke Sital-Singh as the first secret act - I'd heard a lot about him but couldn't remember listening to him, so figured it was the perfect opportunity and headed to the venue.

I loved his set and his humour, particularly when he forgot one of the verses to Nothing Stays The Same (below) and the guy sat next to me helped with lyrics. While it was all new to me, he played tracks from his new record which is ready, and they sounded pretty good!

When Luke's finished, they tweeted that the second secret set was going to be The Beach. As I caught his set on the recent New Faces tour I decided to give it a miss and headed over the road to see MarthaGunn. I'd listened to a couple of the tracks in the run up to the festival as I have seen their name recently as supporting Toothless and Bear's Den, so I figured that they must be worth checking out. It was pretty full for them and they really impressed me and I look forward to seeing where the rest of the year takes them. Loving their recent release Heaven which they finished the set off with, the studio version is below but this acoustic session is worth a watch if you enjoy!

I wandered off to find something to eat, and as I walked across the road from the venue where the third secret set would be at 5, it was 4 so I expected an announcement at any minute, before I noticed three of the guys from Amber Run coming outside. I was there pretty early but luckily so as the venue filled up by 4.25, and the guys played a beautiful stripped back set. I had actually been tempted to go to the London Contemporary Voices show yesterday, where the band were performing, so this was a great surprise! 

The set started with Joe playing the band's track I Found by himself, not too unlike this session... it was great to see them again after catching them at one of my first shows in Oxford back in 2014 on the Communion New Faces tour.

Next up I headed to St Stephen's Church and caught some of Charlie Cunningham's set. I saw him back in November supporting Stornoway, a show which was also in a church. While I haven't got anything else to compare it to, I feel his sound probably works best in this kind of environment where his beautiful voice can fill the whole room. Even his Facebook cover photo is taken in a church... One song that I'd really remembered from the set in November is Telling It Wrong, which went down really well last night - the church was pretty full for Charlie's set! 

Once my friend arrived, we dashed to the Dan Croll set at the TOMS Secret Garden Stage, which it turned out was in fact exactly that, somebody's garden! While I couldn't see much to begin with (I took the pic below to see where Dan was even stood...) I could hear, and it sounded superb! Very lucky to catch Dan in such a small crowd before he headlined Bush Hall in the evening!

When I won the tickets, I hadn't actually listened to Dan that much (a bit of a recurring theme!) but after checking out his videos online, found that I had heard From Nowhere before. I listened to and loved his track Home, and found it pretty funny hearing the track last night. The lyrics "so if you ever come round to my house take your shoes off at the door, cos it's impolite not to, you'll be damaging my floor, cos it's my home" made me chuckle, considering we'd all just walked through someone's house with our shoes on! Rubbish house manners aside, a lovely little stage and a great set!

After Dan's set, we rushed back over to St Stephen's, where Bear's Den were headlining in just over an hour. Matthew & The Atlas were up first and it was already pretty much at capacity but we managed to squeeze in. The title track of his latest record, Temple, is on the record which Communion released for Record Store Day, so I'd listened to this and the session below, but the music was mostly pretty new to me but I was just as impressed as the rest of the church. As Davie of Bear's Den said during their set, he sounds like he's "a million years old, but still sexy.... we can all only hope to be sexy when we're a million years old."

Finally, the main event - Bear's Den took to the stage (a little late) and instantly wowed the crowd, opening their set with the title track of their new record Red Earth & Pouring Rain. They played a few more tracks from the new record (including the beautiful Auld Wives which they released recently), and all are sounding great - can't wait to hear the record in full! The hits from the debut record were great too, and it was a massive shame to leave just as they started playing Agape in their encore to make sure I could catch my train (which I only just did!)

The set was superb and I'd really recommend taking a listen, buying the record next month (July 22nd) and going to their tour in November (they're also playing some in-stores around the album release date.) It seems fitting to finish off with a video of them performing Agape for a session in the church back in 2013 - it was completely packed last night and deservingly so!

Overall I had such a great day and it's testament to the brilliant organisation both in the run up over the last months and on the day - I say it a lot but I have a lot of faith in the music that Communion get behind, making a day like yesterday pretty difficult to plan out. I caught seven brilliant acts but there was still so much more going on and I only wish I could've split myself in half and seen more (ShuraFlyte, Tempesst etc!) As well as that, every act I saw throughout the day seemed genuinely humbled that people had turned up to watch them, which is always so lovely to see as a fan. Long may Bushstock continue!!

Friday 17 June 2016

WATCH: Billie Marten - 'La Lune'

At just 17, Billie Marten is making a name for herself in the industry, featuring on the BBC Sound of 2016 long list earlier in the year, and performing on Lauren Laverne's show on 6 Music last week. I hadn't actually listened to her until I found the video for La Lune, the B-side to Milk & Honey, in my inbox yesterday. With influences including John Martyn, Laura Marling and David Bowie, it's easy to draw comparisons with Laura and Lucy Rose when listening to Billie's music.

In an Ed Sheeran Photograph-esque way, the video features childhood footage compiled by Billie herself of her family wandering around Whitby beaches and BnBs, of the video she says "the song's all washy and dreamy and it instantly made me think of that". It's a great video for the track and all too clear a reminder of Billie's youth!

Billie tours the UK in October (Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Cardiff), and plays several dates over summer - all the info and tickets on her site here. You can also purchase the Milk & Honey/La Lune 7"vinyl here.

LISTEN: Neverlnd - 'Neighbours'

One of my favourite Oxford acts, Neverlnd, have just released the latest of their free monthly tracks, Neighbours. They premiered the track on at their Jacqueline du PrĂ© show back in April, and while it's a slight departure in sound for the band, it's just as catchy and just as brilliant as the previous three free tracks (you can listen to and download all four here.) It's actually pretty cool to hear the development of the band in this short space of time through the release of a track a month!

They performed on the Nightshift curated stage at Oxford's first Common People Festival last month, but if you're looking for a chance to see them play live then you're in luck. They've recently been announced for Truck Festival and next week they support Little Brother Eli at their album launch at The Bullingdon. In addition to those, they've just announced a headline show at The Bullingdon themselves. Following brilliant shows for Tigmus last October at the O2, and last month at JdP,  this show announcement is very exciting news (apart from the fact that I won't be in town for the show - go on my behalf!!) Tickets are on sale now at an early bird price of £6 here.

LISTEN: Mumford & Sons release 'Johannesburg' EP

The new five track release from Mumford & Sons is out today! The Johannesburg EP features Baaba Maal, The Very Best and Beatenberg, and was recorded earlier in the year over a couple of days during the bands short run of dates in South Africa. As Marcus says in this trailer for the EP, collaboration is a huge element of the band, and thats always obvious in their performances, often introducing support acts onto the stage to perform alongside them. There's a beautiful spontaneity in the band getting together with some SA based artists and coming up with new music in such a brief time. In reflection of that, the EP is pretty special and well worth a listen whether you're a fan of Mumford or not! 

The EP is out in record stores etc now, and you can buy it on CD, vinyl, cassette and digitally through the band's store here. There's also a free pop-up exhibition for the EP in London at the start of July, featuring photography, documentary footage and live performance from the collaborators - check out the FB event for more info.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

GIG NEWS: The Hoosiers (3rd September)

The Hoosiers have announced a London show at the O2 Islington on 3rd September (tickets are available now through Ticketweb here.) The show comes before the ten year anniversary of their debut album The Trick To Life next year and follows a summer of festival and university ball appearances.

While I've seen lead singer Irwin's other band, The Sea & I, in London several times, I've never been able to catch TH in London, so this should be pretty exciting. First up I'll hopefully be seeing them in Nottingham next month at the Sweet Notes Festival (info for that here), in the venue where I saw them live for the first time over five years ago. 

Tuesday 14 June 2016

LISTEN: Two Door Cinema Club - 'Are We Ready? (Wreck)'

New Two Door Cinema Club! The band have been teasing for a while, playing their first live shows for over two years a couple of months ago under the 'Tudor Cinema Club' cover-band alter-ego. Are We Ready? (Wreck) is the first taste of the new record, premiering on Radio 1 last night. 

The track comes from the band's third studio record Gameshow, the follow up to their 2012 record Beacon which reached #2 in the UK albums chart (and #1 in the Irish chart). It's released on 14th October and you can pre-order standard and deluxe versions of the record digitally, on CD and vinyl through their site here.

Monday 13 June 2016

WATCH: Tom Odell 'Magnetised' for BBCR1 Live Lounge

Tom Odell's new record, Wrong Crowd, was released last Friday and is pretty darn good. He was on The Graham Norton Show on the release day, and I was about to share a video of his full band performance of Magnetised from the show, when I stumbled across this beautiful solo performance for Radio 1's Live Lounge last month. Totally in awe, so much talent! 

Tom tours later in the year, including a show at O2 Academy Brixton, all the dates and tickets here. The more I watch videos of Tom performing live, the more keen I am to go along, just a little put off by the steep prices, however a few more listens of the new record might be enough to sway me!

WATCH: Bear's Den 'Auld Wives' at Pinkpop 2016

At the risk of becoming a little repetitive as I only shared the studio version of this new track from Bear's Den a few days ago, the guys have shared an acoustic performance of the single which they did for 3FM while at Pinkpop. I couldn't stop listening to the studio version over and over and I'm having much the same effect from this acoustic video... take a listen for yourself below!

I am lucky to have just won tickets to Bushstock Festival next weekend where Bear's Den are headlining, can't wait to see them and looking forward to Dan Croll's acoustic set for TOMS which was part of the prize. Here's the line-up... last few tickets online here. Who should I go and see? I might be holding out for a secret stage as that's how I saw Alex Vargas, Nick Mulvey and The Staves at last year's festival.

Sunday 12 June 2016

INTERVIEW: A few questions about 'Reach Out' gig for MSF...

I posted a few days ago about the upcoming Reach Out Charity gig, raising money for MSF (Doctor Without Borders), taking place at London's The Lexington next month with the brilliant King Charles, Tom Figgins, Tempesst and Geowulf. I can't wait for the show and highly recommend grabbing a ticket and joining me. It's an absolute bargain at £10, the line up is superb and it's for a great cause - what's not to like? I caught up (by the wonders of the internet) with one of the show's organisers, Mercedes, to ask her a few questions about the night.

Poster for the show
What does the charity mean to you?
Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders is one of the most significant charities around today as it combats worldwide issues whilst staying politically neutral, thereby not taking any sides and simply supplying aid. We found MSF a particularly striking charity for the crisis in Syria, as it works on providing help for all. It does this through the establishment of hospitals in land as well as in the neighbouring countries, MSF also provides search and rescue on the Mediterranean Sea, and has work in refugee camps (for example, the Calais ‘Jungle’). We believe that it is the key charity that will provide the most aid to the affected people and areas.

Have you been involved in fundraisers for the charity before?
Neither of us have raised for this particular charity before, however we have both been involved in fundraisers, including for other charities such as Childreach International.

Have either of you put on a gig before or is it new territory?
Mercedes put on a tiny gig at university a few years ago.

Why The Lexington?
We believe The Lexington is a great venue and is in a fantastic location in London as it is incredibly central, directly in between King’s Cross and Angel.

Where can people get tickets?

And to get you in the mood.... here's a recent session video of King Charles, playing his track Choke.

Tickets for the show are available now here - the venue is pretty small and the show should be pretty special, so be sure to grab tickets ASAP if you want to come (and why wouldn't you?!)

Saturday 11 June 2016

TOUR NEWS: Martin Harley (Autumn 2016)

Exciting news as blues guitarist Martin Harley has announced a solo UK tour across November and December, taking in much of the country including a London show at Kings Place. I saw him back in March when I ran the door for the Oxford leg of his tour with Daniel Kimbro (a wonderful pairing!) and was really taken aback, very skilled guys. The quotes on the tour poster should be enough to tempt you along... if not, check out his latest record, a live effort from Martin and Daniel, Live At Southern Ground (live performance of my favourite track from that record here.)

Tickets for the tour are available now through Martin's website here.

Tuesday 7 June 2016

GIG NEWS: Lucy Leave EP launch (11th June)

Oxford band Lucy Leave launch their new Fighter Pilot EP at Modern Art Oxford this coming weekend. The title track of the EP is below and I'm listening to a private stream of the whole thing as we speak, and it's pretty great. If you're looking for something to do on Saturday evening, I'd hugely recommend this show - with tickets £7 in advance (ticket link at the bottom of this post) and three support acts, it's less than £2 a band AND you get a FREE copy of the new EP!

Support at the show comes from Slate Hearts, 31hours, and WOLFS. I'm not familiar with their music but you can't really go wrong at less than £2 per band... Here's a taster of all three!

Tickets for the show are available through Tigmus here.

Monday 6 June 2016

LISTEN: Bear's Den - 'Auld Wives'

It's a little louder and a bit less folk-y, but the first single from the upcoming second Bear's Den album is pretty darn good. The beautiful harmonies are still there and the track is something special, and gives me high hopes for the record. Auld Wives is taken from the record Red Earth & Pouring Rain which is released next month. The band (now a duo after Joey's departure from the band earlier in the year) headline St. Stephen's Church at the Communion Music festival Bushstock later this month, and they're also touring later in the year, including UK dates in November (tickets here.)

Bear's Den release their second studio album on 22nd July (pre-order here), and you can watch a couple of behind the scenes 'making of' videos on their Youtube channel.

Saturday 4 June 2016

GIG NEWS: Reach Out Charity Gig (10th July)

Very very very exciting news today... the announcement of a charity gig at The Lexington (near Kings Cross) on 10th July. It's a tenner and tickets go on sale next week, with all the funds from tickets and cake sales on the night going to MSF (Doctors Without Borders), a charity based in Syria and the surrounding areas. The night aims to bring people together for a night of wonderful music, directing our thoughts towards other parts of the world, and raising money for a really important cause at the same time.

If that doesn't all sound like a huge reason to want to go, the line-up features one of my favourite people in the world... King Charles (watch the video for his latest track here.) Playing alongside Charles there's the incredibly talented troubadour Tom Figgins (listen here) as well as Tempesst and Geowulf. I hadn't listened to Tempesst before but I'm loving what I'm listening to on their Soundcloud. I can't find any of Geowulf's music online, but judging by the rest of the line-up, they're probably pretty good too... 

MSF are currently working across Europe to help refugees For more information about MSF and the work that they do, you can check out their site here.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

WATCH: Blossoms 'Charlemagne' at The Great Escape

A couple of snazzy videos of Blossoms at The Great Escape festival a couple of weekends ago have surfaced today, including the one below of them playing Charlemagne. When I saw the guys playing their sold out Oxford show a couple of months ago I could tell by the buzz in the room that things would only get better for them, and I'm not far wrong if the last week or so is anything to go by, with them playing support sets for Kasabian at their huge stadium show, 3 nights with The Last Shadow Puppets in Dublin, and a spot on the BBC Introducing stage at Big Weekend. And as if all that wasn't enough, they've just been announced as support for one of the The Stone Roses Manchester stadium shows in a couple of weeks. Check out the video below to see what all the fuss is about...

Blossoms recently announced that they're releasing their self-titled debut record on 5th August and you can pre-order signed CDs and LPs on their site here. Live dates, including an array of festivals (Parklife, Field Day, Glastonbury, Truck, Reading & Leeds and a load more) are also on their site here.

TOUR NEWS: The Posies (Autumn 2016)

America's The Posies, formed around 30 years ago, have announced an Autumn European tour including dates in Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Bristol in October. This follows a run of 27 secret shows in the US, in unusual venues, with the information released to attendants on the day of the show (not far from the Sofar Sounds idea.) The tour is to promote the record Solid States which was released earlier in the year (you can listen to a couple of the tracks from it on Soundcloud here, including the below track Unlikely Places).  Following the death of former members Darius and Joe, the record is fairly contemplative, exploring the themes of death, divorce and loss, but the songs retain their harmonies and represent a collaborative effort from Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. For shows, the duo are being joined by album collaborator Frankie Siragusa on drums (and no bassist). 

Tickets for the tour are available from 3rd June, and the album is out now through Lojinx here