Thursday 28 March 2019

LISTEN: MarthaGunn - 'Saint Cecilia'

This has been a long time coming and is very much brilliant news - Brighton's MarthaGunn are back with a new track! Following the recent announcement of their first UK tour in Bristol, London and Manchester at the end of April, they're releasing the first product of months of work in the studio and I already absolutely can't wait to hear more. Equally excited to see more of the artwork as Dan Harris is Creative Director for the project - he's an incredible photographer whose work I really love!

For now, here is Saint Cecilia. Introducing the track online, the band explain that "When you ask yourself a question, instinct will usually answer. This song is about ignoring those guiding voices. A restless longing for change despite an unwillingness to do so." Listen below (and here on Spotify) and if you like what you're hearing, grab tickets for the upcoming shows here!

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 25 March 2019

WATCH: Benedict Benjamin - 'The Way You Talk To Waiters'

"you can take care of yourself but I hope that you'll let me stick around"

Following up the release of Ain't Easy back in February and a run of shows with Christof van der Ven and Emma Gatrill, Ben Rubinstein, aka Benedict Benjamin, has shared The Way You Talk To Waiters. A romantic ode to his partner, it's the latest single from his upcoming second album Truant, which is due for release on May 3rd and you can pre-order here. Introducing the track, Ben explains that "this one is a song about my lady. She's kind and smart and pretty and I love her. That's about it on that." 

The video for the track was illustrated and animated by Katy Beveridge, who is known for her work with Gengahr and various popular brands. Talking about her work on the video, she explains that "it's all hand painted or drawn using a variety of mediums; acrylic, charcoal, crayon, pencil etc. The collaged elements are all cut out individually and photographed back in [...] the whole process generated a few thousand paintings and drawings. I wanted it to feel more like a moving canvas, like a memory, in the way that the song captures the idea of the person rather than a linear narrative."

Benedict has some upcoming shows where you can hear this track and more from the new record...

March 25th: St Pancras Old Church, London (supporting Steve Wynn)
April 13th: Flashback, London (Record Store Day)
April 30th: The Islington, London
May 2nd: YES, Manchester (supporting Rozi Plain)
May 4th: Ocean Arts Centre, Cardiff
May 5th: Resident, Brighton (instore)

Follow Benedict Benjamin - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

FESTIVAL NEWS: Bushstock line-up additions!

I'm really excited to be heading back to my favourite festival Bushstock this June (15th) for a second year of volunteering! It'll be my fifth consecutive year at the festival - it's always a highlight of the year and consistently delivers an incredible line-up. Whether you're catching artists you're already familiar with and love, or taking a chance on somebody new, you're sure to be in for a treat. For those who don't know, Bushstock is a one-day multi-stage festival held in Shepherd's Bush. With Communion Presents organising, you're in pretty safe hands musically. Across the last few years I've seen the likes of Nick Mulvey, Bear's Den, The StavesMatthew & The Atlas, Ten Tonnes, Banfi, Rukhsana Merrise and MarthaGunn play at the festival.

For me, this year was already sounding incredible at the announcement of Novo Amor as the first headliner - so it can only get better from there, right? Correct. Novo is joined by recently announced fellow headliners Gang Of Youths. The Aussie rockers play the festival following four consecutive sold out shows at Islington Assembly Hall in April. In addition, the likes of Ferris and Sylvester, Jordan Mackampa, Laurel, Marsicans, Mosa Wild, Rhys Lewis, Roman Lewis and more have all been added to the line-up, which you can check out in full here. There are more announcements to come too! 

With Super Early Bird tickets selling out in record time, and Early Bird tickets now also sold out, general tickets are on sale and selling fast - you can grab yours here for what is guaranteed to be a wonderful day of live music on June 15th!

Friday 22 March 2019

LISTEN: Fil Bo Riva - 'Beautiful Sadness'

One of the best perks of running this blog for the past few years is all of the brilliant music that I get sent to review on a daily basis. There's usually a lot to listen to, and it isn't always to my taste, but I love having the chance of finding absolute gems in my inbox that I might otherwise not have discovered. This was the case back in 2016 when I was sent Like Eye Did in an email - the debut single from Fil Bo Riva, aka Rome-born Filippo Bonamici. 

At the time I gave the track a glowing review and wrote that it was "no surprise I'm being sent PR for a singer-songwriter who is half-Italian, the amount I ramble on about Jack Savoretti" - which is probably still entirely accurate. His surprisingly husky vocals gripped me instantly, and he remains one of my favourite discoveries of the last few years. I've since caught two live performances from Fil and the band and had the honour of interviewing him for the blog a year ago. I am therefore very excited to share the news that his debut album Beautiful Sadness is released into the world today!

The record follows the release of a string of singles, the incredible If You're Right, It's Alright EP, three sold out tours and a nomination for the Europe Talent Award. Fil's vision for the record was simple - to deliver songs that are "not too modern, and not too old" and that could "stand the test of time." I'd say that this vision has been realised!

In Beautiful Sadness we're presented with a mixture of tracks delivering a series of opposing sounds and emotions which fit together intricately to paint a beautiful picture. The record is the culmination of two years of work for Fil, guitarist Felix A Remm and producer Robert Stephenson, a length of time which is almost tangible through the tracks, which are intensely contemporary while also hinting towards older styles of music. This is noted most clearly in latest single L'impossible, where autotune verses are twinned with more classical sounding choruses sang in Italian, creating one of the stand-out tracks of the record.

Discussing the writing process, Fil explains that "I wrote about things I was going through; issues, problems, and beautiful things with my girlfriend." This personal writing style delivers authenticity in the tracks, and provides us with an overarching theme of love through the record with lines such as the hopelessly romantic "it feels so right I could die, loving you" in Blindmaker, "you mean too much to me" in Radio Fire and "I'm tryna get control of this love" on Head Sonata (Love Control), which was the first taste of the album and remains a particular favourite of mine.

Also worth mention is the epic nine (!) minute track Different But One, another highlight of the record for me. That track alone takes us on quite the musical journey. Enough rambling from me... check out the record for yourself on Spotify here and buy/stream your copy here!

Fil Bo Riva heads out on the Beautiful Sadness tour in April and May, including a show at London's Oslo Hackney on May 1st. A FBR show is a raucous, beautiful and inspiring event and I would wholeheartedly recommend you check out the full dates and grab your tickets here.

Follow Fil Bo Riva - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 21 March 2019

LISTEN: Jack Savoretti - 'Singing to Strangers'

If you've been following this blog for a while you'll probably be aware that I'm quite the fan of Jack Savoretti. His music has meant the world to me for years and I am really excited to see the love that his new record Singing to Strangers is receiving. It's looking like the album could reach number one this Friday which is hugely deserved but also slightly mind-blowing. I've been listening to Jack since 2012, from the release of After The Storm, and it's been a total joy to see his music flourishing in the past few years with the release of Written In Scars (2015) and Sleep No More (2016).

The new record features Jack's superb live band: Pedro Vito and Sam Lewis on guitar, Sam Davies on bass, Jesper Lind on drums and Nikolai Torp on keys. It was recorded last Summer and produced by Cam Blackwood, who produced Jack's previous record and has worked with the likes of George Ezra, Lewis Capaldi and Tom Walker. If all of that doesn't sound enticing and exciting enough... the band had the insane privilege of recording the album in Rome at the studio of legendary film composer Ennio Morricone.

His studio is in the "basement of this huge church" Jack explains, endowing the recording process with a cinematic atmosphere which is captured in opening track and lead single Candlelight, which many listeners have noted could easily lend itself to the opening credits of a movie. Following in the steps of break-out track Catapult (2015) the record features soaring string sections, creating a really powerful soundscape throughout. Tie that in with Jack's raw and raspy vocals and lyrics that are simultaneously heartfelt and heartbreaking and you've got something really magnificent. Not to mention that the record features co-writes with Bob Dylan (Touchy Situation) and Kylie Minogue (Music's Too Sad Without You). I'm really enjoying the record in its entirety at the moment, but a stand out for me is certainly Love Is On The Line.

Another personal favourite is the stripped back interlude on the album, the title track, which provides an extremely vulnerable moment where Jack repeats "all I can do is try my very best to entertain you. All eyes on me again, but I don't believe there's anything to see." Discussing the meaning behind the title, Jack explains "that's my job: I sing to strangers. That's what I've spent most of my life doing. Singing to friends and family and fans; they're already onside, so you can, to some extent sing anything. Strangers need convincing, touching, connection." With a potential number one album incoming (everything is crossed!) I'd say you're doing a pretty good job of that, Jack!

If you'd like to catch Jack live, he's heading out on tour across Europe and the UK very soon, culminating in a show at Wembley. (Actual Wembley Arena.) I am very excited for that one - Jack's biggest headline show to date and my first time seeing him in over two years! Check out the full list of shows and ticket info here and grab your copy of the record here.

Follow Jack Savoretti - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

WATCH: Seramic - 'Keep On Breaking My Heart' (live)

When you settle down to watch a live Seramic video you can be assured you're in for a treat, and this brand new session performance of recent single Keep On Breaking My Heart is far from an exception to that rule. It's sublime. Armed with only an electric guitar and singing in the beautiful surroundings of the Norwegian Church and Seaman's Mission in London, frontman Marcus' vocals are completely spellbinding, blending with backing vocals from Layla Ley and Gold to create something really magical. If you like what you're hearing, acquaint yourself with some older Seramic tunes over on Soundcloud (Trying is a big personal favourite!)

Follow Seramic online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 19 March 2019

WATCH: Two Door Cinema Club - 'Talk'

Very very excited about this news! After teasing us for a week or so indie heroes Two Door Cinema Club are back. Big news. New track Talk premiered last night and is their first new music since the 2016 album Gameshow and it is glorious. Cue me listening to their debut album Tourist History (which is somehow NINE years old!!) and reliving the absolute glory days of 2010.

Frontman Alex Trimble says of the track "I love the pop thing. I love experimenting and going to different places, I love doing things that are a little bit wonky and I love the idea of doing something we haven't done before, why can't we do all of those things at once? That's what it was, doing whatever felt right... it sounds like TDCC - not a TDCC there'd ever been before but that's what I love. We can always do something new but it always feels like something we've done." 

The band have already announced a long list of festival appearances for the Summer, when they'll be heading to the likes of BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend, Glastonbury, Tramlines, Y NotTruck Festival and lots more! Check out all the full list of dates here.

Follow Two Door Cinema Club - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Hailaker - 'Coma/Smoke' & 'I Could Be Back'

I feel a little late to the party with this one but desperately wanted to share these tracks! After a discreet double A-side single released late in 2018, Hailaker have announced their self-titled debut album (due 26th April via Lowswimmer) and released two stunning new tracks. Hailaker is primarily made up of founding members Jemima Coulter and Ed Tullett, but the collective project also features contributions from Ali Lacey (Novo Amor) and Oregon-based artist Mike Roth, who looks after the artwork.

Jemima describes the record as being "the narrative of mine and Ed's friendship first and foremost, since it meant we went from being strangers to spending weeks writing together. We see Hailaker as a fluid project, with no restrictions on output or contribution; perhaps one notable commonality is to make music that's melodic in all aspects, rich and interesting." 

Talking of the name of the project, a made up word, she goes on to explain that "having a word with no defined meaning means the only association it could have is with the project. That's so freeing because it's completely open, and I think it's led to us feeling infinitely free about what Hailaker is, who's involved, what the music sounds and looks like, etc. It's all Hailaker because it all feels like Hailaker."

From what I've heard - this album is going to be a beautifully rich piece of work, free from the restrictions and boundaries artists (and their labels) often place upon themselves, with a glorious musical texture mixing elements of acoustic and electronic instrumentation - I can't wait to hear more!

Follow Hailaker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Monday 18 March 2019

WATCH: Lucy Rose - 'Treat Me Like A Woman'

"You fire those words right at me, with your loaded gun. You watch as they fly through my skin and to deeper within."

The time seems to have flown and it's finally (almost) time for us to hear the new record from Lucy Rose. No Words Left is due for release this Friday, and Lucy has shared the third single in the shape of Treat Me Like A Woman, a liberating and bold introspective comment on gender equality, delivering lyrics such as the above, and "I'm afraid and I'm scared and I'm terrified, that this is how it will be for all of my life." You can pre-order the record here and listen to the gorgeous new track below.

Lucy explains that the track was written while on tour in Munich "after a combination of events which pushed me to think about the way people interact with me purely based on my gender." She goes on to explain that "I don't want a debate, this isn't a song aimed at men, it's a conversation that everyone needs to have with themselves. Have I ever judged a woman differently to a man? [...] This song has been created inside me over years and year of small, tiny, and in ways, insignificant events that have built into a tower of anger."

"I isolated myself from my entire touring party. I couldn't explain to them how I was feeling [...] The next night in Vienna I played 'Treat Me Like A Woman' for the first time. Like playing any new song, it was emotional, but wow, in all my career I've never felt so empowered and liberated to be expressing something that for so long I had felt unable to explore [...] these are matters that are important to me, that affect women every single day and it was time for me to stand up and say something in the only way I could, in song."

Lucy tours the UK and Europe across April and May in support of the album release, opening with a sold out show at London's Union Chapel. Before that, she's playing some in-store performances this month: Rough Trade East, London (21st March); Resident, Brighton (22nd); Rapture, Witney (23rd); Truck, Oxford (23rd), Music's Not Dead, Bexhill (24th); Banquet, Kingston (25th); Pie and Vinyl, Southsea (26th) & Sound Knowledge, Marlborough (27th).

UK tour dates as follows: Union Chapel, London (9th April); St Georges, Bristol (10th); Gate, Cardiff (11th); Stoller Hall, Manchester (13th); Liberty Hall, Dublin (14th); City Varieties, Leeds (16th); St Lukes, Glasgow (17th). Grab tickets and check out the full dates on Lucy's site here!

Follow Lucy Rose - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 15 March 2019

LISTEN: Charlie Cunningham - 'Sink In'

Since catching his set opening for Stornoway in a church in Oxford a few years back, and another church set at Bushstock Festival a few months later, I've been mesmerised by Charlie Cunningham. His songwriting and beautifully executed vocals set him apart, but his guitar skills, usually leaning towards flamenco in style, are incredible. His debut LP Lines (2017) features the singles Minimum and Lights Off, both stunning - it's a really wonderful piece of work.

About a month ago Charlie marked his return with brand new single Permanent Way, which he has followed up with brand new track Sink In while in the midst of a US tour supporting RY X. Produced alongside Sam Scott and Duncan Tootil, the new track features the White Brothers - Hugo, Felix & Will of The Maccabees (!!) - on keys, electric guitar and bass respectively. Take a listen below...

With a one-off show at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall on June 12th, the new track comes with news of a string of tour dates across Europe and the UK later in the year. UK dates are as follows: Redgrave Theatre, Bristol (2nd November); City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds (3rd); Sage, Gateshead (4th); RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester (6th); Holywell Music Room, Oxford (7th) and The Old Market, Brighton (8th.) Full dates and ticket info are on Charlie's site here!

Follow Charlie Cunningham - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 14 March 2019

LIVE: Christof van der Ven at The Waiting Room (11/3/19)

I ventured back to London on Monday for my sixth (I think...) gig of the year, a Communion Music show with Christof van der Ven headlining, and Benedict Benjamin and Emma Gatrill in support. The trio had been on a co-headline tour for the week, taking in shows in Leeds, Stroud and Brighton before heading for the capital. It was genuinely so stunning that I can almost forgive the mildly stressful journey I had to make to a new area of London, and the stress of searching out the venue, The Waiting Room, which is the basement of a pub in Stoke Newington.

Once I'd found the venue and settled down (it has a bench stretching along the length of the room - bonus!) Emma Gatrill took to the stage to open the show. Delivering vocals, harp and keys (through a pedal board, confusingly) she was joined by Marcus Hamblett (producer and live member of Bear's Den alongside Christof) on guitar.  I know of Emma through her work with Matthew and the Atlas, but her solo work is new to me, and was utterly spellbinding. I particularly enjoyed the track Skin which is taken from her 2017 album Cocoon.

Up next was Benedict Benjamin. I saw Ben playing live a couple of times when I was living in Oxford, both times at Sofar Sounds shows where he was playing solo, so it was great to see him play again, and with a band this time around. During his set, I remembered the trivial fact that I was the first person to buy a physical copy of his debut album Night Songs (which I adore and which quickly became a soundtrack for my essay procrastination) back in 2016 at one of the Sofar shows. Claim to fame?! Monday's set delivered a mix of tracks old and new, including the amusingly titled Motherfucker (which is, in the sweetest way possible, about his baby daughter). I'm really looking forward to his new record Truant, which is due for release on May 3rd and features the single Ain't Easy which you can listen to below.

Next up, Christof van der Ven took to the stage. Similarly to Ben, I've seen Christof performing solo a couple of times in the past, last year (opening for Adam Barnes) and a few years back at a Bear's Den show. This time around he was joined by a band, a sort of folk supergroup made up of members of Bear's Den and Matthew & The Atlas. And they were glorious. Very happy to hear that album two, which I believe features this live band, is currently being mixed in Berlin!

What Christof lacks in on-stage banter while distracted by the task of tuning his various guitars, he makes up for in some gorgeous songwriting. The set combined tracks from his 2018 record Empty Handed (which made it into my gigs of the year list) and his recent EP Beneath The Ordinary Load. I've been listening to the EP a lot since the show and have found myself really connecting with the "emotional weight" that Christof himself describes the tracks as carrying. I really appreciate the honesty and integrity in the writing.

Opening track Town To Town reflects on the "personal struggle of not having a home and being on tour all the time. Not being grounded [...] Not having a place to come back to that is mine". Second track The Spell (which you can listen to in a lovely acoustic session below) touches on his own broken heart, and lead single Cut The Ribbon is written for a close friend, of whom Christof explains: "my dear friend Martijn had an operation on his heart last year and struggled mentally for a while. This one is for him." Final track Big Men At Heart is a track written about mental health, and the importance of speaking up. Christof said of the track that "last year the singer Scott Hutchinson took his own life. I never met him but we have mutual friends. It hit home. It was devastating [...] This is one for Scott and for speaking out about mental health." 

Follow Emma Gatrill - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow Benedict Benjamin - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow Christof van der Ven - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 13 March 2019

LISTEN: Tempesst - 'Is this all that there is?'

"it made me think of ageing, how our bodies are decaying, and now the only thing that's keeping me afloat is my heart not failing"

Some very good news for your Wednesday - indie-psych five piece Tempesst are back! The London based Aussies have been releasing singles and EPs for a few years now, continually impressing fans & press alike with their 60s and 70s influenced tunes and joining the likes of The Temper Trap and Albert Hammond Jr. on tour. The track arrives ahead of showcases for the band at SXSW this week.

The single was written in Australia in January, with frontman Toma explaining: "I was at Little Cove, a beach in Noosa. It's a little stretch of beach near a national park, it was totally filled with people. I just sat there in this ideal setting and realised how strange people are, especially when they're at the beach. I wrote about what I saw and how it made me feel."

The band built their own studio in an empty warehouse in Hackney in late 2018, where they're currently working on the finishing touches to their debut album. Pony Studios is now home to a number of well known producers and writers and comprises of over ten production suites and live recording rooms. UK, US and Europe shows are to follow with the album release later in the year!

Follow Tempesst - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 7 March 2019

LISTEN: Franc Moody - 'She's Too Good For Me'

"She could have had anyone that she damn wanted, but sadly she got me [...] you've finally realised that you're too good for me, and the saddest thing of all, is that I can't help but agree." 

Franc Moody are back with new single She's Too Good For Me, delivering heartbreaking lyrics like those above and blending them with their gloriously funky vibes. I'm not entirely sure whether to laugh or cry to this one - but for the moment it's filling me with a lot of joy. If you like what you're hearing, listen to their Dance Moves EP (easily one of the best EPs I heard last year. Those bass solos!!!!)

If you want to catch the band live (and honestly - why wouldn't you?!) be sure to grab tickets to their upcoming UK tour. Full dates as follows: Bodega, Nottingham (10th April); Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds (11th); The Workman's Club, Dublin (13th); Gorilla, Manchester (16th); Heaven, London (17th); The Haunt, Brighton (19th) & Thekla, Bristol (20th).

Follow Franc Moody - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

TOUR NEWS: MarthaGunn (April/May 2019)

Really excited about this news! One of my favourite new bands of the last few years, MarthaGunn, have just announced their first headline tour. I've seen them live a couple of times and can tell you that this definitely isn't to be missed! They've been hiding away in the studio and I absolutely can not wait to hear new music, which they'll hopefully be debuting in troves at these shows. Formed in 2015 in Brighton, the five-piece draw from modern influences such as Tame Impala and Mystery Jets, and the 70s song-writing of Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles. Check out the tour dates below after listening to this beautiful track!

MarthaGunn play: Louisiana, Bristol (29th April); The Waiting Room, London (30th); Soup Kitchen, Manchester (1st May) before heading back to Brighton for a set at The Great Escape. Grab tickets for the tour here.

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 4 March 2019

LISTEN: Joe Hicks - 'Cold'

Happy Monday! Not to wish away the week, but I can't wait for some really exciting new release albums this Friday, with the first of two Foals records to be released this year, as well as debuts from Indoor Pets and Stella Donnelly. For now, I'm enjoying some singles released last week - including this from Joe Hicks, who I first met playing guitar alongside the indescribably talented Adam Barnes at one of my first gigs once I'd moved to the city in 2014. The new track is a lyrically relatable offering, blending influences of pop, blues and folk - the result is glorious.

Joe released his first solo single Best Clothes a couple of years ago now, since which he has been building himself a sizeable online following, receiving support from the likes of BBC Introducing, CLASH and Sofar Sounds, and supporting BRITS Critic's Choice winner Sam Fender in Oxford. New single Cold was recorded at Studio 91 in Joe's hometown of Newbury, with producer Sam Winfield (Amber Run, Fickle Friends) in Autumn 2018. Talking about the track, Joe describes it as being "about self-sabotage. It's about when things are going really well with someone, feeling doubt and fear that it's all going to be too good to true and cave in. A song born out of anxiety and a momentary, irrational need for reassurance."

Like what you're hearing? You can catch Joe live at Sofar Sounds London (13th March), Thousand Island, London (15th), Sofar Sounds Southampton (21st) and Are You Listening? Festival, Reading (27th April).

Follow Joe Hicks - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.