The Cure Starting with one of the main stage headliners, and whilst it might be obvious to state that you should go and watch this band due to their history and position on the bill...there's more to the decision than that. The Cure are a band who don't tour or play festival shows very frequently, they pick and choose when they want to play and they play those places because they really want too. So expect a setlist full of the old classics and some of the much loved new material. Catch this incredibly influential band whilst you have the opportunity, who knows when they will come around near you again. The Maccabees This may seem like an obvious choice for me, inevitable almost, but beyond the adoration I have for the band since day one it's the fact that they regard Reading Festival as a sort of "home festival". Attending as punters and working their way through the various stages over the years, the band now have their very own headline slot in the Friday night in the Radio 1/NME Tent, and as most Reading and Leeds festival goers know...that's where the real party is. Their huge anthemic tracks, their sing-a-along songs or their pure jump and dance like a fool material will be sure to attract a huge and devoted crowd, this will really be something well deserved and very special. ∆ (alt-J)
My tip for the "band to watch" this year. Every year there seems to be a smaller band with a buzz playing on one of the smaller stages that just attracts a colossal crowd, ∆ (alt-J) will be that band at this year's festival. With their album An Awesome Wave really resonating with critics and first time listeners alike, they are sure to use this performance as a huge springboard for even bigger things. Smart and cool indie rock to fill any void that Wild Beasts have left from now being there this year. Lucy Rose If I've already picked the "band to watch" this festival, the "artist to watch" will be Lucy Rose. Already holding a very loyal and adoring fan base in the palm of her hand after being a recording and touring member of Bombay Bicycle Club for some years, touring her solo stuff relentlessly and now finally announcing a debut solo album, Lucy Rose is set to join the ranks of delicate and innovative indie-folk inspired music alongside Laura Marling.
The Cribs Another band who have played these festivals for years and years, working from the smallest stages right up to the main stages and now one of the closing acts on the Radio 1/NME tent. Playing almost as many times as Dave Grohl has appeared at the festivals, it's a huge pay off and their raw, loose, and inspired indie-punk-rock will be one of the most energetic and fun shows of the weekend.
Graham Coxon From playing the huge Hyde Park gig with Blur not a week ago, to know playing the sweaty tent at Reading and Leeds, Graham Coxon is ready to unleash his latest (and superb) material from the album A+E. Snotty, punky, beautiful, witty and experimental all at once. A true Great British guitar hero who should be celebrated and adored by everyone this weekend. Theme Park After making big waves following their support slot on the recent Bombay Bicycle Club UK tour, Theme Park are really starting to create a name for themselves and carve their own niche. Sounding like Talking Heads meets The Smiths with TV On The Radio thrown in for good measure, this is the band to enjoy watching whilst sipping an ice cold beer and enjoying the afternoon sun. Catch them now before they really explode.
Bombay Bicycle Club After last year's incredibly successful and over-packed set on the Radio 1/NME stage at Reading Festival it was obvious that Bombay Bicycle Club had to hit the main stage on their next appearance and not only that, but be very high up on the bill. Rumoured to be the last performance with Lucy Rose too, if there was one band to let loose, go crazy, swig beer and soak up the early evening with, it's Bombay Bicycle Club. There's nothing quite like tens of thousands of people singing back "Always Like This" to Jack Steadman and co.
DISCLAIMER: This isn't supposed to be some superbly written entry or well thought out, it's a childish and poorly written shrine. I'm just incredibly antsy and excited and want to write that anticipation down rather than just sharing it with my own head over and over.
Just give me this now. Words cannot express how excited I am. New photograph sessions, music, artwork, tour dates and teasers are killing me. It's no secret that I'm a fanboy of The Maccabees and I just hope and wish that people give this third album, Given To The Wild, a really solid go despite how annoying it may be when I crowbar them into a lot of conversations. It can be hard to get heard around here amongst bands and genres of music that are more widely known or favoured, and that's understandable but if there was one thing I'd hope for, it would be that people really gave this new album a shot in January and really fell in love with them like I did many years ago.
Following the band from their early days, before their debut album existed and they had nothing but a rough EP (You Make Noise, I Make Sandwiches) which sounded abrasive and raw:
...to the more confident and structured sound of their debut album, Colour It In:
...and eventually progressing to a whole new level, introducing a brass section, more layers and a real understanding of their instruments and abilities on my current number 1 album of all time, Wall Of Arms:
...to now, with their third album so-close-yet-so-far away, I couldn't be more excited or impressed at how much they have evolved. Having said that they feel for the first time that they have found their own identity and created a record that sounds like "The Maccabees" and nobody else, it's clear they are ready for far more attention and exposure. Soundscapes, effects, introductions (!) and two years of writing have gone into Given To The Wild, and I have every faith that it will be another absolute favourite album of mine, even a sneaking suspicion that it will claim the top spot:
I'm incredibly devoted to this group of lads and forever will be, I really hope I can look forward to discussing their new record with a whole bunch of you come 2012. My year would be made.
Bombay Bicycle Club
October 10 2011
Bombay Bicycle Club’s third album, A Different Kind Of Fix, has been met with great praise from journalists, fans and new listeners alike. Following many festival appearances this year to record breaking crowds, it makes sense that the band head out on their biggest UK headline tour yet. Their previous tours have always provided something interesting for the attendees, whether it’s playing small venues packed to the rafters or setting out on a tour of churches and historic buildings, so it’s immediately interesting to know the material and set up they have for this tour, particularly as they have three such diverse sounding albums.
Opening act, Theme Park, were an unexpected surprise. Their single, “Wax” had been getting some airplay and a warm reception, but there isn’t an abundance of material to follow them up on, so there was an air of intrigue about the venue as they took to the stage. It’s safe to say that the band easily has a stock full of superb tunes and received love and applause from the crowd, which doubled in volume as each song finished. Managing to mix the sound of TV On The Radio with Morrissey and The Beach Boys whilst maintaining a raw and loose sound, they left the room wanting more, which for a relatively new and “unknown” (by comparison to the headliners) band is the biggest kind of compliment. I, for one, cannot wait to see what they record and release next.
Dry The River was the second support act and the floor was packed with a clearly devoted fan base. The band ran through their set for their adoring fans and sounded impeccable live. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem like the band has anything drastically new to offer and whilst they play extremely well and are clearly loved by many, I was left feeling like they provoked no reaction at all for me which may have been more noticeable after the exciting sound of Theme Park.
As soon as that piano loop from “Shuffle” fades in and the band walk on stage, the crowd erupts and as the new album’s lead single takes off, Bombay Bicycle Club immediately has the entire room in the palm of their hand. Jack Steadman’s vocals continue to improve and excel with each tour, each release and each moment. The entire band clearly enjoy playing live and whilst always displaying an astonishingly tight sound and air of confidence, flashes of humble and grateful smiles never cease to shine as they catch the crowd singing back every single word.
With 9 out of 20 songs on the setlist being from A Different Kind Of Fix, there is plenty of time for fan favourites such as “Evening/Morning”, “Open House” and even tracks from acoustic album Flaws such as “Ivy & Gold” and “Rinse Me Down”. Needless to say, this means that every fan in the room was spoiled, hearing a song from every period of the band’s life aired and played at full force. It’s a given that “Always Like This” will bring the house down (to enforce a cliché) and the volume of the audience as they sing back at the band is brilliantly deafening, but it’s the performance of "The Giantess/Emergency Contraception Blues" with a new angelic vocal interlude by Lucy Rose which ends up being truly mind-blowing. However, it's Steadman’s return to the stage with Lucy Rose to perform piano-led track “Still” which evokes the most noticeable reaction…silence. Impossible to not be drawn into the delicacies and vulnerability of the vocals and the song, everybody is left in awe.
Bombay Bicycle Club continue to prove why they are one of The UK’s best band’s around at the moment with their arsenal of songs which span genres, a flawless live show and an genuine love for their fans. This is a band who are only just entering their prime and should be taken notice of at any given opportunity.
This album has crept into my top 5 of the year already. I received it yesterday and have fallen absolutely in love with it. Fans of Cults, Emmy The Great, Tennis and 80s movie soundtracks should get it immediately. Infectious, melancholy, clever, poppy, it's great.
It's been a while since I've posted a blog entry and I feel it's time I got more involved in doing so, especially becuase of the new version of AP probably helping the look and feel of them.
That being said I thought I'd talk about how there are certain vocalists who I am beyond jealous of. Their voices literally make me either melt with how perfect they are to my tastes or incredibly jealous that I don't have their tone and delivery. The minute I start thinking about favourite vocalists that are around today, I immediately think of the following:
Jack Steadman (Bombay Bicycle Club)
There's something about his broken delivery on various words or syllables mixed with his borederline baritone sound that makes me wish I had his voice. It lends itself perfectly to the rootsy folk-style of their album Flaws, to a point when Steadman's voice actually sounds "older" than he is. He sounds like a classic folk singer fm the '60s who hs been in the game for decades rather than a twentysomething London lad. On the flipside he is able to sing modern indie rock songs that sounds so fresh and are able to get crowds of hundreds or thousands chanting along with him.
It's his voice that brings a lot of the appeal to me because of how unique it sounds without being affected on purpose. I genuinely hold him as an inspiration vocally because I believe it's the quirks and individuality in vocals that can really make a band or artist that much more interesting. I'd rather lsiten to an artist with a unique voice that isn't pitch perfect than somebody who is so crisp and on point, because they can be thrown in the "forgettable pile" more often than not, for me.
Check out some examples of his vocals in different forms below. The Folk style of "Jewel" from their acoustic album Flaws and "What If" from their debut and "electric" album.
Orlando Weeks (The Maccabees)
This was going to be obvious choice but that's because I can't fault anything about this band. As an avid follower of them from before their debut album, I've loved every song they have released and adored seeing how the have progressed as band. The music has noteably moved forward and become something truly amazing (and continues to do so) but Orlando Weeks' vocals have just got better and better throughout the years. Starting out with an almost abrasive and confrontational spoken word style in their earlier post-punk influenced demos (and somewhat on their debut, Colour It In) he is now one of the strongest voices in British indie/rock music today.
Weeks possesses the ability to be a modern day crooner. Harmonising beautifully and demonstrating the softest tones both live and on record mixed with the urgency and big deliveries and long notes when necessary, it's hard for me to enjoy any other singer...ever (hyperbole, of course).
Listen to The Maccabees cover of Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night" and the title track from their second album (my favourite record of all time too), "Wall Of Arms" below for perfect examples of all the gushing and fanboy adjectives I used above.
As I said, these are just a couple of singer's from the "now" who I adore, there is a plethora of others from many decades that I love, even more that are in bands nowadays that I enjoy, but these are the two that I always immediately think of from bands that are currently in existance.
This year has been a fantastic year for all sorts of reasons where music is concerned. I've discovered albums I normally wouldn't have heard due to both members of this site and becoming a "Member of Staff" (to both of which, I'm very thankful for), I've heard releases by artists that I have loved for a long time and they have blown me away and also heard new artists that have easily made their way straight into my Top 20. That being said, the list making process (at least this particular list) is always hard for me because I'm forced to slot albums into an order which causes me to have a mental fight with myself, but I can guess it might be similar for most people.
The other categories on this list are "optimistic collections", which is honestly very unusual and rare for me. God knows I'd love to sit here and list a bunch of things I hated and was disappointed by this year...but nobody is going to bother putting time and effort into checking something out that I loathe, plus I can assure you, it would take some time. So, I hope people read these and get something new from them. There's not a lot of outlandish artists on here that are really unknown by any means, but there are a whole bunch that don't get as much recognition as many other bands around here. So... enjoy and anybody that knows me, will know I cannot wait for the releases in 2011...
Produced by Markus Dravs, known for producing the past two Arcade Fire albums, this album sees The Maccabees elevate themselves from catchy and quirky, right into the heavyweights of British alternative music. The combination of Orlando Weeks' almost old-school, irresistable crooning vocals over the top of intricate layers of swelling guitars, endless bass hooks and energetic drums is a perfect marriage. This is an album which manages to balance pop sensibility with substance, atmosphere and heartfelt lyrics. It's hard to not be touched by the album or the songs, the openness and the dexterity on show or the subtleties and unexpected angles. An absolute favourite of mine and will always be. Key Tracks: "Love You Better", "No Kind Words", "William Powers", "Seventeen Hands"
Laura Marling-I Speak Because I Can (2010)
This second effort from Laura Marling not only matches the high bar she set with her debut, but it clears it by miles. A collection of beautifully delicate and enchanting folk songs that feel like they were recorded straight to vinyl in front of a log fire in a cottage. Laura Marling's voice feels even more intimate on this record, deeper and more assured. She manages to reel you in so close with her vocals, verging on whispers at times, as she tells tales of Greek mythologies, England's Winter and wartime love letters. Maintaining a true folk sound throughout, this album also adds lush strings, piano and banjo parts into the mix which make it feel fuller and more complete than her debut. An album you won't want to stop listening to over Winter. Key Tracks:"Made By Maid", "Blackberry Stone", "Alpha Shallows", "No Hope In The Air"
Blur- Best Of (2000)
Yeah, a compilation. This is easily my favourite Blur album, and that's coming from somebody who has been a fan before I'd even reached 10 years old. All of their albums are great of course, but their progression through their various different stages and sounds deserves to be taken in all at once on this brilliant mix. Showcasing material from their releases between 1990-2000, it's hard to not either fall in love all over again or for the first time with this band. Consistently brilliant and accessible pop music, there's everything here from anthemic and heartfelt sing-a-longs to fast and loose rock or American influenced drones. Showcasing influences from the likes of The Smiths, The Stones Roses and Stephen Malkmus, it's a must have in anybody's record collection. Key Tracks: "Beetlebum", "The Universal", "Tender", "Girls & Boys", "Coffee and TV"
Jamie T - Panic Prevention (2007)
"Like no other record since The Streets - Original Pirate Material, it’s the sound of a pirate radio station you wish existed: a rag-bag of ska-punk, junk-shop hip-hop, DIY drum'n'bass and vocal interludes sequenced to flow like a mix-tape. On first listen, scrappy-sounding and instinctive, but 20 spins later, still pulling new tricks." - NME, I couldn't have said it better. It's so British in it's sound, particularly because of Jamie's distinctive voice but also the stories of the youth of Britain - binge drinking, fights, clubs, nostalgia, friends and love, at the same time there's something for everyone on this record. Key Tracks: "Brand New Bass Guitar", "Calm Down Dearest", "Operation", "Sheila", "Pacemaker", "If You Got The Money"
I am obviously lightyears late to the game but recently I've found myself watching a lot of movies and TV shows. Whilst I wait for a new series of Californication, I decided to finally check out Veronica Mars. Really enjoying it and I haven't even finished the first episode. Maybe it's the cold weather, which in turn makes me eat soup, wear big sweaters and not move from my room that makes me want to sit and watch a whole bunch of things for horus on end...or maybe not, either way, I'm alright with it.
I seem to gravitate towards UK artists far more than I do American ones, maybe that's the case for a bunch of people and their respective countries of birth, but from my experience...it's not. I actually find it hard to enjoy an American vocalist a lot of the time, obviously there are plenty of occasions when this isn't true, but for newer bands it definitely seems to be the case.
So my list of "favourites" would undoubtedly be a majority of British acts, old and new (many of which I plug and speak about excessively on here, as those that take note of threads or know me will testify to). Here are some that are just bubbling under the radar with albums and eps coming out in the next 6 months which, I think, should be taken note of:
The band cite influences as diverse as My Bloody Valentine, New Order, Deerhunter, Scott Walker, Neil Young, Sonic Youth and Arthur Russell, though Bowman has stated that the group has never made specific plans pertaining to their songwriting. "[Because] everything has moved so quickly, our only real aim has just been to capture the first clutch of songs and get them out into the world. Then maybe we can take a few breaths and start to plan how to progress in future." Chapel Club's music has been described as 'moody, majestic and magnificent', while Bowman's lyrics often use imagery drawn from the natural world to explore themes such as love, loss and existential confusion. Global Editor of Billboard Magazine Mark Sutherland described the band's sound as "amazing… shoegaze but with songs and balls", while The Guardian described the band as "big rock meets perversion".
Chapel Club have stated on their Facebook page that their debut album will be released on January 31, 2011.
I saw these guys play one of their first ever shows in London less than a year ago and now they are playing NME sponsored tours, getting significant BBC Radio airplay and coverage as well as recently releasing a live iTunes Festival ep. It's strange seeing a band in a tiny delapidated-walls, back alley type venue to then being broadcast on Later...with Jools Holland months later. It's fantastic and I love that I managed to see them so early on, their use of the classic "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" as the chorus in their song "Surfacing" hooked me straight away. I cannot wait for their debut album. Check out some of their songs below.
Lyrebirds are makers of music that it is at once romantic, anthemic and full of optimism. Musically, this is pop on a grand scale, shot through with streaks of fraying, decaying glamour and filled with big, broad strokes of love, loss and hope. And, in Adam Day they have a frontman with the voice and the swagger to carry it off.
LYREBIRDS formed in early 2009 when Day, whose family had relocated from Manchester in his youth and who was at that point a solo performer of “acoustic, Leonard Cohen-type stuff”, spotted familiar faces from his Brighton local at a Pogues gig in Brixton. Day recognised kindred spirits in Dane Etteridge (guitar/ keyboard), Sam Baldwin (guitar), Dan Logan (bass) and Jackson (drums), and LYREBIRDS formed soon after. Taking their name from the bird whose song echoes the world around itself - famously seen in a piece of Attenborough film giving a bleak prophecy of its own demise - the band quickly gelled and made their live debut with shows at Club NME and in Brighton, where they’ve built a devoted following, before playing at last year’s Hard Rock Calling as part of a bill headlined by Neil Young.
LYREBIRDS - The Blondehead EP - Lotus Records, November 22nd
Another band I got to see a while ago, supporting The Maccabees. Their debut ep is out next month and it's another I am really looking forward to. THey put on a fantastic live show and sound incredible, it may not be what they were going for but I can't help but hear shades of The Doors on their new song "Shadow Boxer". Take a listen for yourself below.
The Chinese whispers that preceeded the arrival of The Vaccines was something to behold. For about a fortnight every 'in-the-know' music industry type I came across would speak of this mysterious new London rock'n'roll outfit who were set to be the future of everything. No one could resist losing their shit over them to anyone who'd listen, but refused point-blank to let slip any details about who they were. Key members had been in other known bands, so the legend went, some were family members of other notable acts, or something to that effect. iPod playlists had the artist name removed, or a comedy moniker stuck in. People were - probably quite justly - petrified of the hype-mill getting out-of-control.
Finally the pieces of the puzzle came together. They're called The Vaccines, it's Jay Jay Pistolet and Tom from The Horrors' little brother, Freddie. They make indie rock'n'roll that makes total sense after the biggest summer of sunny bubblegum lo-fi ever, but with something scorched and woozy sounding of its own. It's ace.
I'm really excited about this band, they sound kind of like a British Surfer Blood or something, there's little on them at the moment but they are realsing songs for free to download at their website here and have an album planned and a tour this year. Catchy, to the point and intoxicating.
So, I recently started an independent record label with my cousin who works for a division of Apple. It's no money maker necessarily but more of a "learn-by-doing" kinda thing. It's great because we both care a lot about music (of several genres and decades) and my cousin loves the business side of things.
The first band we have signed our my very good friends, louellen. Check out their myspace here. If you're a fan of Elliott Smith, Sonic Youth, The National or Interpol then I really cannot recommend them enough. Their ep is out next month on 7Ravens and you will be hearing a lot from them. They recently headlined the Camden Barfly in London. Check out their thread here and follow them on twitter also.
I've been a member of staff for a few weeks now so it seems "right" to start a blog on here. I've attempted blogs before outside of the site on Wordpress and whatnot, but the only people that read them were those that I spoke to daily and more often than not, about the subjects I posted anyways. Really a superfluous outlet (if it can even be considered one). So at least here, if it is read at all, it can be relevant to what I contribute to the site as a member of staff now, music and film recommendations people may bother to check out that I don't speak to or know personally, rants about things (highly likely) and information on my personal projects to do with 7Ravens Record Label (we'll get to that).
So as an introduction:
23 years old
Live in Kent, England but a lot of my time is spent in London or Norfolk
Studying music production and music business part time in London
Co-founder of 7Ravens, home of louellen
Music and movies I like can be seen on my profile