Friday 30 June 2017

LISTEN: James Walker - 'Next To Me'

I'm heading down to London soon to meet up with a friend and go and catch The Maccabees play the penultimate show of their farewell tour... lots of excitement and a fairly distracted mind but I'm using up my last minutes at home checking out one of so many brilliant new releases today (I'll certainly be posting about the new Catgod track I'm Innocent soon, love them cool cats.) 

This track comes from Oxfordshire soloist James Walker, who I met through his work playing keys with Adam Barnes a couple of years ago, and who contributed to my dissertation back in December with an interview about Sofar Sounds and house shows. The new track Next To Me is the first release since James' brilliant Modern Medicine EP last year and is taken from his upcoming debut album, English Bones, due out in November which I can't wait to hear more of. Writing about the track online, James wrote that it is a song "about being with someone out of habit, rather than out of love. How it feels to be so intimate with someone that you feel detached from. It's the feeling of slipping away when you're holding onto them at night, of going for dinner and having nothing to say to each other." Get listening below!

Follow James online - Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud.

ALBUM NEWS: Wildwood Kin - 'Turning Tides'

It's difficult to see a trio of girls without drawing comparisons to The Staves and Haim, but Exeter's family trio Wildwood Kin are making a name for themselves, tipped by the likes of Jo Whiley and Bob Harris and performing at Glastonbury Festival last weekend as well as at The Great Escape  in May where I caught them playing a couple of tracks. They have today released Run, their latest single from debut album Turning Tides, out on August 18th (pre-order here.) 

Wildwood Kin head out on a UK tour in October/November, as well as three headline shows at London's The Islington over Summer - all the dates and tickets here!

Thursday 29 June 2017

LISTEN: John Smith - 'Living In Disgrace'

Since posting about his beautiful track Headlong a few weeks ago it feels like I have been hearing about John Smith everywhere with various show announcements and reviews of his upcoming record of the same name, released tomorrow (30th June). Living In Disgrace is the latest single to be taken from the record, written about a period spent broke while living in Liverpool. The album has been produced by Sam Lakeman and mixed by Ruadhri Cushnan, who is responsible for mixing so many of my favourite albums including King Charles' Gamble For a Rose and Mumford & Sons' Babel. Known for playing guitar with the likes of Lianne La Havas and Lisa Hannigan, John is stepping into the spotlight with this record, and appears at End of the Road and Deer Shed festivals over Summer.

Pre-order John Smith's album Headlong before it's release tomorrow (30th June) here.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

WATCH: Johnny Flynn - 'In The Deepest'

This one has sat on my to do list for a week now but after finishing the TV series Genius last night in which Johnny Flynn starred as young Albert Einstein I had to share this, his new video for In The Deepest. I adore the record this track is taken from, the recent release Sillion (especially the track Barleycorn which I can't get enough of) and can't wait to hear Johnny perform it live in October in the stunning surroundings of the Roundhouse.

Check out Johnny Flynn's upcoming tour dates on his website here!

Tuesday 27 June 2017

WATCH: Sivu - 'Sweet Sweet Silent'

The 7th of July is shaping up to be a pretty great day when it comes to new music, with new records from three of my favourite artists: Public Service Broadcasting, Lucy Rose and Sivu. The latter has just released the title track of the record, Sweet Sweet Silent, with a video including a pretty honest opening segment about his recent diagnosis with hearing condition Ménière's Disease. Get listening below and read more about Ménière's here.

Sivu has just announced a co-headline tour alongside Fenne Lily, Paul Thomas Saunders and SivJakobsen for October, including a show at Cecil Sharp House on 12th - tickets and dates all here!

Sivu releases Sweet Sweet Silent on 7th July, pre-order here. 

Monday 26 June 2017

WATCH: George Ezra - 'Don't Matter Now'

You would have struggled to avoid the catchy tunes of George Ezra in 2014 when he released his debut record Wanted On Voyage. After a year or so away he's been back for a while, playing a 'top secret' tour to premiere new material as well as some festival slots, including this weekend's Glastonbury Festival (catch up with his performance here!) A couple of weeks ago the first new music from George for a couple of years was released. True to form new track Don't Matter Now is catchy and it's video features a pretty great dog - what's not to like?!

Keep an eye on George's social media (Facebook / Twitter / Instagram) for a record announcement at any moment... 

Thursday 22 June 2017

LISTEN: Nick Mulvey - 'Myela'

If you read my Bushstock Festival write-up you'll know that the wonderful Nick Mulvey is back and totally smashed his headline set, playing to an adoring crowd of fans. Following a couple of warm up shows in Oxford, Bristol and London last week, Nick has just released another new track from his upcoming record. Myela, featuring the beautiful sing-along refrain "you are my neighbour" went down a treat at Bushstock, and the idea for the track came from Nick's awareness of the refugee crisis. Talking about the track, for which he is working in partnership with Help Refugees, Nick wrote that: 

"Like most people my heart breaks seeing the unprecedented refugee crisis unfolding across Europe. On top of this I felt disturbed and confused by the uncaring attitudes of many of the authorities and media. I wanted to write about the humanity of those suffering- how they are all people and families, with lives more or less like yours and mine. And so the idea for 'Myela' came and I began to work on it in partnership with my musician friend Federico Bruno. To be honest, we felt unworthy to write poetry about this subject. So instead we explored first-hand accounts of refugees journeys, and drew the song from there. We want to give them voice and to share that voice with the people who listen to my music, to make them aware the situation continues."

Myela and the previously released track Unconditional are taken from Nick's upcoming studio album Wake Up Now, the follow up to the critically acclaimed 2014 record First Mind. Pre-order your copy here!

Wednesday 21 June 2017

WATCH: Everything Everything - 'Can't Do'

It seems to be a great time for some of my favourite artists coming back with new music and last week was no exception as total legends Everything Everything returned with the absolute tune Can't Do. Their last record Get To Heaven, released in 2015, was my favourite record of the year so I'm really looking forward to hearing it's follow up - A Fever Dream is out on 18th August. They're in the midst of a mini warm-up tour before a couple of festivals, but hopefully a full tour to promote the album will be announced shortly! Check out the (pretty strange) video for Can't Do below...

Like what you're hearing?! Pre-order A Fever Dream here.

Monday 19 June 2017

LISTEN: My Crooked Teeth - 'Better Off'

Got four minutes to spare?! Take a moment to check out Better Off, the new track from Oxford's My Crooked Teeth, aka the all round lovely chap Jack Olchawski who I've had the pleasure of meeting at some recent Tigmus shows. A wistful take on the final days of a relationship, the track crescendos from Jack's beautiful vocals to a much fuller sound, departing from his debut EP as this is the first track to see Jack backed by a band with drums, double bass, slide guitar and banjo in the mix. I have to agree with The 405 when they say that "My Crooked Teeth is a straight up heartbreaker."

Check out Better Off on Spotify (and add it to your playlists) here or buy it on iTunes hereMy Crooked Teeth play this year's Cornbury Festival in July, alongside two of my favourite singer-songwriters, Jack Savoretti and Sam Beeton and a whole host of other brilliant artists - tickets.

GIG NEWS: Banfi at The Cellar, Oxford (8th Sep)

As I've finished uni I've left Oxford but as I've been blogging about gigs I've seen in the city for the last couple of years most people reading this are probably from the area - if so, you're in luck because one of my favourite bands have just announced an Oxford gig. Banfi have added a date to their first headline tour in September, they'll be playing at The Cellar on the 8th. They smashed their support slot at Oxford's O2 with Bear's Den back in March and I caught them at last weekend's Bushstock Festival where they played the best set I've seen them do yet. With an album in the works and some superb singles under their belts I seriously recommend getting along to this tour while they're playing in intimate venues - they've also just announced Bryde as support for the tour so it gets better and better! 

You can grab tickets for the Oxford show here or check out the full list of tour dates (including London's Lexington) here!

Friday 16 June 2017

WATCH: Public Service Broadcasting release video for 'They Gave Me A Lamp'

Hearing lines such as "politics is life and everything to do with it affects you directly or indirectly" and "'You can't come with us because you're a girl', and it made me damn determined to do it", I can't help but think that the sampled lyrics of the latest offering from the brilliant Public Service Broadcasting couldn't be more poignant and relevant to the current day, despite being taken from the 1980s.

They Gave Me A Lamp reflects upon the history of coal mining communities in the UK, addressing the political awakening among women's support groups at the time of the South Wales mining strike. Featuring post-rock trio Haiku Salut the track itself undergoes an awakening of sorts, raising in volume and pace as it progresses, and the newly released video for the track was shot underground in a former mine, incorporating footage of the Welsh Valleys mining community. Alongside the first single Progress, the track is taken from the band's upcoming album Every Valley (due 7th July) a major the theme of which is disenfranchisement, a story of dignity and social responsibility set against the backdrop of industrial decline.

If you like what you're hearing be sure to pre-order the new record Every Valley and check out the upcoming tour dates on the PSB site here - they're heading to the US in September, UK in October and Europe in November, as well as some album launch shows here in the UK at the start of July.   

Tuesday 13 June 2017

LIVE: Bushstock Festival 2017

At the weekend I caught my third Bushstock Festival, a day of superb music curated by the lovely folks at Communion Music in venues around Shepherd's Bush. Highlights of 2015 included seeing this year's headliners Nick Mulvey and The Staves play secret acoustic sets in a tiny wine bar, and last year's festival gave me the chance to see Bear's Den for the first time alongside the likes of Matthew & The Atlas, MarthaGunn, Dan Croll and Charlie Cunningham. A glance back at the past line-ups shows the likes of George Ezra, Bastille, Michael Kiwanuka and Hozier playing before they were well known, so as you'd imagine the atmosphere is great and the festival has a loyal following, there to try and discover the next big thing (and like I've said many times, a line-up curated by Communion is bound to be wonderful!) As with any festival there are clashes galore and the strength of the line-up doesn't help in this respect, however despite missing the likes of The Staves, Rhys Lewis, Isaac Gracie, The Big Moon, Spring King and loads more I had a great day, here's a little round-up of who I managed to catch!

Kicking off my day was Rukhsana Merrise, who I caught on a Communion New Faces tour a year or so ago and really enjoyed. Yesterday was her first live show for a while and a chance to debut tracks from her forthcoming record, and despite playing pretty early in the day she drew quite a crowd at the Courtyard stage. The venue was a trek from the others (I thought) but worth it once you got there with food, drink and a little pop-up record store surrounding the stage which was underneath a sea of rainbow umbrellas - luckily none of them needed as the sun came out and made the day even better! Check out the absolute tune Money below...

Rukhsana Merrise at the Courtyard stage

Next up I was headed towards Defector's Weld, where two friends I'd met up with were keen to see John Joseph Brill. He seems a lovely chap and I enjoyed his EP so was up for checking his set out when my phone buzzed with a twitter notification - Seramic were the second secret set of the day. Sad to miss JJB but I'm sure another chance to see him play will come up soon, so I headed to the wine bar, met up with another friend and waited... they ran behind schedule while they waited for a keyboard stand but it was completely worth the wait. I've seen Seramic play as a full band a few times over the past months and in this stripped back set-up for a couple of tracks at the Bear's Den Christmas show in December, so knew that I was in for a treat but even my high expectations were blown out of the water. I couldn't stop smiling, the tunes made me so happy and as I watched Marcus and Layla grin to one another it struck me how important it is to see that the band are enjoying playing for you to really take something from a set. Taking us through some tracks from their two EPs, they finished off the set with Trying, my favourite track from the recent I Got You EP, wowing the crowd with some seriously crazy notes. With two really strong EPs under their belts and some seriously impressive live performances I can't wait to see what Seramic do next!

Seramic secret set at the Albertine Wine Bar

We headed back to the Courtyard stage after they had finished to catch some of Ten Tonnes' set - I've heard good things about him but hadn't listened to his music before, all I really had to go on was that he's George Ezra's brother, which seems like a pretty good sign of musical quality. I was impressed by his voice and the crowd seemed to be having as much fun as he was up on stage. He released his second EP, Born To Lose, on Friday, and I'm digging the title track (listen below) which went down pretty well on Saturday afternoon - stream the whole EP on Spotify here!

Ten Tonnes at the Courtyard stage

After a quick stop off for some food came a tough decision between Isaac Gracie and Tender Central... I've been wanting to catch Isaac for a while and after missing his set at The Great Escape had assumed I'd definitely watch him at Bushstock, and was particularly keen as he was performing in the beautiful surroundings of St Stephen's Church, but I was also curious about Tender Central, and it meant less walking as I was sticking around for Banfi in the same venue afterwards. TC is the project of India Bourne, who plays in Ben Howard's band, and for the show she was joined on stage by Banfi's own Aaron and Joe, and while I heard great things about Isaac's set from friends that were there, I was glad I'd stuck around and really enjoyed the set! Check out the beautiful Wake Me Up below...

Tender Central at Traid

Next up and also playing in Traid, one of my absolute favourite bands of the moment, the lovely Banfi chaps. It was my seventh time seeing them and they're getting better every time, the busy touring schedule is working wonders for their live performance, with slots at Dot to Dot festival a couple of weeks ago and Citadel coming up in July, as well as heir first headline tour (dates) in September which I can't wait for! Having seen them lots in such as short space of time even the unreleased tracks feel incredibly familiar, so it'll be great to hear more of them recorded as studio versions (check this exciting tweet about album mastering!) and I'm chuffed to hear that they're releasing She Comes Home at the end of this month! Get listening to the tracks they've put out to date, including Rosedale House which is below and fall in love with them in time for the September tour!

Banfi at Traid

After some quick chats and hugs with the band it was a rush back to the Courtyard, where it was far easier than I'd expected to get in for Nick Mulvey's albeit quite early headline set. He's been away working on new music and with his beautiful baby boy for a while now and it was so great to have him back playing his first live performance for some time, with a stripped back version of his new live band. I was a little unsure as the crowd chattered away over the first chords of the first track, the recently released single Unconditional, but they soon fell under Nick's spell and spent fifty minutes totally entranced by his beautiful music, as did I! Sneaking only Fever To The Form and Meet Me There into the set from his first record we were treated to an array of entirely new tracks and it really felt like we were all part of something special, singing along to tracks as we heard them for the first time, and it feels amazing to have Nick back - and the joy at the crowd's response was so clear across his face too!

Nick Mulvey at the Courtyard stage

The second Nick had finished the crowd all rushed out of the venue, with most headed towards the church to try and get in for The Staves. I knew there would be no chance of getting in for their set so headed back towards Traid where I'd left my friend, whose favourite band Seafret were headlining, so of course I had to see what all the fuss was about. The venue is a charity clothes shop, raising money through donated clothes to target child and sweatshop labour in fashion, a really interesting and worthwhile concept, and as I stood at the back of the crowd a friend from Oxford tapped me from behind the clothes rails, isn't it lovely to bump into friends unexpectedly?! Stood quite far back it seemed as if the stage was a little dark but the sound was great in the venue and I definitely hope that they use it as a venue for the festival again next year. The singer Jack has great hair and a great voice and they were a really fun way to finish off my festival - I already can't wait for the next year of Bushstock!

Seafret at Traid

If you like the sound of Bushstock, be sure to sign up to the Communion mailing list for a weekly mailout about their upcoming releases and tracks. After ten years in the business they are continually killing it, working with some of my favourite artists on some really special concerts in London and further afield. Long live Communion!! 

LISTEN: Ferris & Sylvester - 'Berlin'

I'm a little late to the party and this track has been out for a couple of weeks now, but checking back through the PR emails I've missed over the last few weeks I knew I had to share this. It's from Ferris & Sylvester, the project of Londoners Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester who met as solo musicians in the busy London music scene and started to make music together. The track Berlin is taken from their upcoming EP The Yellow Line, due next Friday (23rd), and combines some beautifully soft vocals, strings (always beautiful) and finger-picked guitar. About the single the pair say "Berlin' tells the story of a love coming to an end. The song doesn’t romanticise the situation or shy away from the stark reality of it; it shows the confusing, awkward and lonely journey of leaving someone and where that can leave you."

Be sure to keep an eye out next Friday for the full EP, also featuring their first single Save Yourself.

Friday 9 June 2017

WATCH: Parekh & Singh - 'Ghost'

It's difficult to not instantly fall for Parekh & Singh when you see one of their music videos or press shots, they're usually dressed to impressed and their tunes are pretty great too. They're from Kolkata in India, and have recently been on a little tour in the UK including shows at The Great Escape and Dot to Dot, earning them a positive review from Baeble Music who caught their set at TGE and wrote that the band "are what you wish was playing in every coffeeshop you've ever sat in." They've recently released the cinematic video for the track Ghost, which has a real focus on narrative and paints a beautiful picture of India along the way as the pair play against beautiful backdrops.

Check out the band's other music videos, including I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll, on Youtube here!

LISTEN: Richard Walters - 'Starlight'

I moved out of Oxford two weeks ago today and one of the things I miss most already is the beautiful local music scene, including singer-songwriter and all round lovely chap, Richard Walters, who has today released a new track, Starlight. I was introduced to Richard's music through his band Liu Bei and a solo set he played for Sofar Sounds Oxford a couple of years ago, and I've grown really fond of his beautiful vocals, and adore the record AM which he released last year. This standalone single was produced and mixed by Patrick J. Pearson (aka San Felu) and surrounds the fragile lyric "I need more time", with the track focusing upon the fragility of life. 

Writing about the track, Richard explains that “2016 was a strange year...I became a father in the spring, which was (and continues to be) an incredible, life-affirming experience. Then, towards the end of the year, I sadly lost a close friend to it felt like 2016 was bookended by these events, one utterly amazing and the other utterly heartbreaking, but both leaving me with an enormous, newfound respect for life and time. ‘Starlight’ is, I suppose, about that sense of nostalgia I felt at those two points, looking back but with one eye on the future."

Check out more tunes from Richard on his Soundcloud here, including a cover of Young Folks that I'm particularly partial to!

Thursday 8 June 2017

WATCH: Dan Croll - 'Bad Boy'

One of the highlights of my time at The Great Escape a couple of weeks ago was managing to jump the queue with our passes and get in to see Dan Croll play the last couple of songs of his set, headlining the Communion showcase. Luckily I'd seen him play a much longer set a couple of weeks before at Omeara, sharing a bunch of tracks from his upcoming record Emerging Adulthood, including Bad Boy, which for me isn't quite as strong as some of the other new tracks such as One of Us and Swim, but it's got a pretty catchy chorus and I'm really looking forward to hearing the full record in July. Check out the slick new video for the track below!

After impressing the crowds on his recent UK tour including a date at London's Heaven, Dan Croll is on to festival slots next, performing at the likes of Latitude and Citdael. You can pre-order the record here before it's release on 21st July.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

ALBUM NEWS: Arcade Fire announce 'Everything Now' and release title track

Hooray! Arcade Fire are back and have announced the follow up to their last studio album Reflektor, which was released all the way back at the end of 2013. Everything Now is set for release on 28th July and the rather funky title track is out now, with a music video set to make you pretty envious if you're in drizzly and rainy Britain right now as I am! The band shared on social media that each track on the record was mastered to a separate 12" and then re-digitized, a technique similar to that used on The Suburbs (released in 2010! how?!)

You can pre-order the record on various formats here.

TOUR NEWS: Blaenavon announce UK tour (Nov 2017)

The ever charming Blaenavon chaps have announced a UK tour for November including their biggest headline show yet at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire! They're busy supporting Circa Waves in America at the moment, all to promote their debut record That's Your Lot which they put out through Transgressive back in April - one of the best records I've heard this year, featuring the track Orthodox Man which they performed stripped back for NME.  

Blaenavon tour the UK in November with The Night Café in support, check out the dates below -

Mon 20th: Sheffield, Leadmill
Tues 21st: Leeds, Wardrobe
Weds 22nd: Manchester, Gorilla
Fri 24th: London, O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Sun 26th: Newcastle, Academy 2
Mon 27th: Glasgow, St Luke's
Tues 28th: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
Weds 29th: Liverpool, Arts Club
Thurs 30th: Birmingham, Mama Roux
Fri 1st Dec: Bristol, Thekla

Tickets for all the dates available here on Wednesday and you can stream the record over on Spotify here.

Monday 5 June 2017

LISTEN: Catgod release single 'Someone Love'

New music Monday! My Oxford pals Catgod have released Someone Love, the first track from their upcoming EP of the same name which is due out in July. It was premiered last week by Gigslutz who wrote that "flowing with sweeping harmonies, it’s an eclectic and emotion-strewn fusion of genres, resulting in a soaring, mesmerising soundscape". Go listen!

If you're in Oxford you can catch Catgod at Tandem Festival (tickets) and Happy Valley Festival (tickets), both taking place over the weekend of 16-18th June. 

Sunday 4 June 2017

WATCH: Seramic perform 'Found' at Radio 1's Big Weekend

Festival season is upon us and for me that means planning which sets to stream from the likes of Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds - last weekend was Radio 1's Big Weekend in Hull and I was gutted to miss the stream of the Seramic set on Sunday but they have thankfully uploaded a video of them performing the absolute tune Found. Check it below!

If you're at a festival this summer and would like to catch Seramic (who wouldn't?!) - you can catch them at Barn On The Farm, Secret Garden Party and Latitude Festival

Friday 2 June 2017

LISTEN: Charlie Fink releases debut solo album 'Cover My Tracks'

How about some new music for your Friday? Noah & The Whale frontman and all around sweetheart Charlie Fink has today released his debut solo record Cover My Tracks which you can listen to on Spotify here. Pretty uniquely it is a combined album and stage show with an emphasis on storytelling, with Charlie and actress Jade Anouka performing the full record as a piece of so called gig-theatre each night after the current production of Woyzeck at The Old Vic in London for two weeks, starting on Monday, before a slot at Latitude Festival and a regional tour later in the year. As a huge fan of NATW, since the band split I've been lucky to catch the other members playing in various other projects and got to know them personally, Charlie is the last piece of the puzzle and I am incredibly excited to see him perform! If you listen carefully you'll hear the backing vocals of The Staves, particularly on this beautiful track below, The Howl.

Tickets for Cover My Tracks at The Old Vic Theatre from 5-17 June available here for as little as £12. The record is available online and in record stores from today - happy listening!

Thursday 1 June 2017

WATCH: Rae Morris releases new track 'Reborn'

Somehow it's over two years since Rae Morris released her debut record Unguarded, and at long last we've got some new music. Taking a step in a slightly different direction, the track Reborn is taken from Rae's upcoming album, which she describes as being about new beginnings, and the video for the track was filmed in Lebanon.

You can catch Rae Morris live at ICA in London on 12th July - tickets available here through Communion from 10am tomorrow (2nd).