Wednesday 25 January 2023

GIG NEWS: Stornoway at EartH London (14th April)

It's been a minute (read: a few years) since I did a post of this sort... but the long sought-after return of one of my favourite bands to the world of gigging warrants the return of... gig news!! Having warmed themselves up with a couple of festival slots last summer, Oxford's folk legends Stornoway head to EartH Hackney on the 14th April for their first gig since 2017. Pretty much exactly what we all need, I think. 

I've written about them here before... how I was somehow unaware of the band until meeting bassist Oli through the local Sofar Sounds shows in Oxford and finding out that he was in a band. A pretty cool band too - and one that the people of Oxford (and beyond) rightfully adored. I went to a few shows, in venues varying from the local record shop Truck Store to the enormous New Theatre for the last show of their farewell tour in 2017 (I wrote about working on that show here.) I spent a few years working with Oli and Tom too in my first music job - Stornoway have had quite the impact on my life. I love them. 

I was already a big fan, but I've fallen somehow deeper for their music in the past couple of years. They're a band with strong connections and passions in the world of birds and conservation (their frontman Brian Briggs is a reserve manager for the WWT) and as I've developed a love for visiting wild places and birdwatching in the past couple of years, their music has provided the soundtrack (in tandem with Johnny Flynn, of course.) Here's a suitably bird-themed video... 

The idea of getting to see them live again is bringing me so much joy - though I've got to get tickets first... they're on sale Friday morning to members of their mailing list. You can sign up here

Here's hoping that more shows and (dare I hope?) more music are to follow. Crossing my fingers!

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Tuesday 24 January 2023

LISTEN: Bo Milli - 'Good Kid'

Reaaaaally digging this one. An indie-rock environmentalist? Right up my street. I loved Bo Milli's feature on Lokoy's track a mistake back in 2021, and it's always a treat to see that she's got a solo track out. Good Kid is another instant favourite - a personal track reflecting on Milli's responsibility in the fight against a climate catastrophe which sees her repeating the chorus line "I'm a good kid, I'm not meant to change the world." And yet...

Talking on the track, Milli shares: "the lines in the chorus are essentially what I'm tempted to say to myself when I want to throw in the towel and see everything play out. It's a logic that's difficult to argue with, but nevertheless, I think it's the wrong conclusion. It's an attitude that disregards my responsibility, and it doesn't feel good to live like that." 

"My parents' reaction to my own civil disobedience has pretty much been: 'you're a good kid, you don't have to change the world'. They grew up in a different reality. I think younger people implicitly live as if that world still exists - if I get some kind of education, I'll land a steady job, at some point I'll settle down, I'll grow old and have a pension. But I think, if we interrogate these presumptions, this future doesn't add up." 

"When I imagine the year 2100, given I could technically still be alive then, we're looking at a 3-degree warmer world. In that world, it's unlikely I'll have a steady pension and my (future) grandkids definitely will be living in a much scarier world. And that seems very unfair."

"No matter what I do we're probably fucked - so whatever I do (or don't do) regarding the climate crisis doesn't impact whether I'm a good kid. This is the kind of reassurance I think I look for on some level during the many bleak conversations I have about our future. The fact of the matter is, very powerful systems are pushing us towards the point of no return, possibly we've already passed that. This is a gut punch, but maybe it excuses me from responsibility..."

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Friday 20 January 2023

WATCH: Dizzy - 'Birthmark'

It's wild to think that I've been in love with Dizzy for nearly five years - from a chance encounter at a festival to never-ending listens of their two albums - and the love is still going strong with the release of their new single Birthmark. In fact, in a ridiculous week for exciting new releases I am absolutely and unashamedly obsessed with this one, and my stats will concur. It is so so so great. The track is the follow-up to recent single Barking Dog, a triumphant return for the band that I described as "one of the most exciting things to appear in my inbox for a long time". I'm not entirely sure how I'll handle a new album when it comes, but for now, these two are on repeat. 

Talking on the track, singer Katie Munshaw shares: "the song is from the point of view of someone I love who went through their first heartbreak last year. I remember we were laying in bed one night and they said they didn't feel so bad until it was time to go to sleep. I thought that was so sad." 

"The 'Birthmark' video is meant to be a visual representation of the saying 'dancing with the devil.' I wanted the visuals to feel more like a nightmare than a music video, hence its lack of narrative. We shot the video in a farm field in western Ontario so a lot of cow shit was stepped on to get these beautiful shots which I think is hilarious and fitting. Special thanks to our devil, Marc, for allowing us to paint your skin red in freezing temperatures in the name of assholery and thanks mom for letting me use your sunroof in the name of getting a cool ass shot."

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Wednesday 18 January 2023

LISTEN: Bad Sounds - 'More Than I Can Afford'

"I bet a clean conscience costs more than I can afford."

Music inspired by the cost of living crisis? Hmm. Music inspired by the cost of living crisis by Bad Sounds? Sign me up, now. If anyone was going to put a catchy spin on a pretty dire topic, it'd be these guys. Self-produced by the band and mixed by Nathan Boddy, this one is a bit of a corker to kick the year off with. Seriously! 

Talking about the themes behind the track, the band share "Being poor and living in an expensive city. Plus trying to eat healthy, not trash the environment, buy organic foods, and support local businesses. These are all things that we try really hard to do in our everyday lives, but it kind of feels unattainable to maintain the moral standards we set ourselves. So we end up feeling really guilty all the time for not being able to live up to that code of ethics every second of every day. This problem has only really been compounded by the ever increasing financial divide in the UK. Hence "I bet a clean conscience costs more than I can afford." You just end up doing your best and lying to yourself about your shortcomings."

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Tuesday 17 January 2023

LISTEN: Elanor Moss - 'Catholic'

2023 has officially begun (you're welcome). The first tracks have arrived on the annual blog playlists (here and here), and if I do say so myself... they're sounding reaaaally good. There was little doubt as to what would open up the first playlist update of the year, as I've had this one on repeat for the past week. With her second EP Cosmic on the way in February, Elanor Moss just released Catholic from it and I am a little bit in love. I'm under the weather (again! aaagh!) so I'll let Elanor and the track do the talking on this one... 

About the song, Elanor shares: "Catholic isn't truly a song about being Catholic, or leaving the Catholic church... not really. It's a song about grappling with your identity and realising you've relied on validation from others most of your life, whether that's friends, family, or romantic partners. It's also about realising you have the power to change and doing that. It's cathartic to play and sing live, and I felt like I was tapping into something new in my writing. We tried recording it a bunch of different ways; acoustically, more lounge-y, slower... it didn't feel right until it was big and loud. It was an interesting moment for me in my writing and sound. I wanted to be loud for once and see what it was like to be in an indie-rock band. I love it."

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Tuesday 10 January 2023

LISTEN: Siv Jakobsen & Ane Brun - 'Sun, Moon, Stars'

Belated happy new year, folks! Sorry for disappearing a bit... I felt under the weather and rundown by work (christmas in retail - hooray!) for most of December and over the New Year, and the blog has fallen a little by the wayside for a while now. I didn't find the time to really think about my albums of the year and haven't posted much lately, but I'm going to try my best to share posts more frequently this year.

In the absence of an AOTY post, I should definitely shoutout Maggie Rogers, Low Island, Rae Morris, First Aid Kit, Gang of Youths, Memorial, Everything Everything, The Big Moon, Bear's Den and Banji for releasing some of my favourite records of 2022. I love them all very much and will happily ramble about them all on request. There are already so many great releases in my diary for this year too...

Kicking off the year of posting with something not entirely new, but which I'm pretty excited about. Next Friday sees the release of Gardening, the third album from Siv Jakobsen. What I've heard of it is absolutely divine (quelle surprise) and I really fell for this one last year. The track is Sun, Moon, Stars and it is a collaboration with Ane Brun, who Siv has long been a fan of. Dreamy times all round. 

More on the record in due course (hey, I might even try to do an album write-up...!) but here's Siv on this latest single and collaborating with Ane: "a big part of why I wanted her to sing on this song in particular is because a lot of the influence I have from Ane is in it. The style of the guitar, the strings, it just felt like it was a nice nod to how she's inspired me, so to have her sing on it felt like a full circle moment. From the 16 year old Siv singing Ane's "Rubber & Soul" in a high school recital, to waiting for Ane outside her gig in Boston as an aspiring songwriting student and mega fan of 22, to becoming colleagues and friends and singing together over a decade later."

"Sun, Moon, Stars was written in November, a good few years ago. I remember humming the melody and working out the lyrics whilst out walking on a particularly dreary, dark and wet evening. Inspired by my least favourite month of the year and the heaviness I tend to feel during it, as well as the beauty and hope I've found in a companion that has the ability to pull me out of the dreariest corner of my mind, even during the darkest month of the year." 

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