Andy Smith, or his musical alias Lxury, makes the kind of electronic euphoria that is better placed either at the point of the sun going down or when the bright orb of light crops up again to start another day. See, Smith’s digital motifs straddle the lines between contemplation and danceable – there’s a heady blend of techno, NYC house, giddy samples and ricocheting beats that invoke SBTRKT’s melting pot of electronica.
Like any music, you want to be transported somewhere and it’s with a serotonin-rush that Lxury whisks you off your feet to somewhere with a warm climate but with a dark undertone. Akin to waltzing around Bangkok’s heaving streets, you can suck in the escapism and be absorbed by the colours and flavours but the element of danger or a shady waft of menace is never far behind. Ironically, Smith forged his debut EP, ‘Playground’ whilst living under an M4 underpass situated enroute to Heathrow. Smith himself reflects that ‘Playground’ should sound less than upbeat as his living arrangements were anything but, however, inhabiting such an urban sprawl has ensured the young electronic artist has offered up the antithesis to a concrete jungle somewhere near the world’s busiest airport.
Smith’s first body of work is available now, right in time for summer getaways and day’s spent lounging in the park. But spare a thought for Lxury, whilst you’re soaking up the rays, those tunes that are accompanying a cocktail or a cold beer are gifted to you from piece of Grey Britain.
For more on Lxury -
Get ‘Playground EP’ here:http://smarturl.it/PlaygroundEP
It’s not at epidemic level yet but since festival season has kicked off, there’s been a steady slew of reported incidents at gigs and festivals where punters have either been seriously assaulted or in the case of Robert Hart at this year’s Parklife Festival, lost their lives. Gigs are a place to immerse yourself in music and to thrive off a communal feeling that everyone is in one spot to have, quite simply, a good time. A Saturday night or any given night for that matter, has become synonymous with a punch up or someone getting a kicking, when this behaviour permeates into the world of gigs and watching music, this is a worrying thing to consider.
The incidents we speak of occurred during pop acts, a metal festival and of course, Manchester’s Parklife which boasted acts such as Foals, Snoop Dogg, Rudimental and Bastille. An Ellie Goulding show as part of the Eden Sessions had us reading on with bewilderment. According to Digital Spy, the pint-sized popstrel had to cease a performance of ‘Anything Can Happen’ (oh the irony) to break up an altercation amongst a group of girls. Once Goulding had the fist-happy gang’s attention, one of her “fans” took it upon herself to throw abuse back at Goulding, as if the headline act was somehow spoiling her punchy time. For the good natured, vanilla music Goulding makes, having to stop a scrap mid-song is just astonishing. Another shocking instance occurred at Sonisphere earlier this month. Metal festivals aren’t for the faint hearted, their attendees drink hard, mosh hard and pretty much do everything hard. However, aside from the bone breaking moshing, metallers are a good natured bunch and there’s always something of a community spirit when you rock up at somewhere like Download or Sonisphere, the latter we can vouch for as WWSPM had the pleasure in seeing The Prodigy earlier this month at the very same event. Sadly for 21 year old George Cook, his festival was marred by a brutal assault that left him needing five hours of reconstructive surgery on his face. In a completely unprovoked attack, a gang of three men set upon Cook and to put it bluntly, smashed his face in. The most disturbing and worrying of all is Robert Hart’s death at Parklife Festival. Hart was beaten unconscious in front of the main stage before Snoop Dogg’s headline set. It’s believed Hart was attempting to protect his girlfriend from being bashed on the head with an inflatable doll, which then lead to him being brutally assaulted. His injuries were so severe they brought upon an untimely death to someone just wanting to enjoy a music festival with his girlfriend. Parklife also counts two knife attacks across its weekend, luckily the two victims received hospital treatment and their injuries weren’t life threatening.
(skip to 4.44 for incident)
So why are these pockets of anti-social behaviour cropping up in a place where they’re just not welcome? Is it because we live in a time of aggression and antagonism, where it’s better to be the attacker than the victim. Is it because many gig goers see attending a show or a festival as just another piss up and therefore clashes are a prerequisite? Certainly alcohol doesn’t help and that “let’s get shitfaced” mentality is sometimes more important to actually seeing bands amongst a percentage of festival goers. We don’t have the answers but ultimately something isn’t right when a time to celebrate is tarnished by such life ruining behaviour.
This may sound like we’re music purists or we’re wishing for some kind of nanny state, which we’re not - we’re not attempting to scaremonger here. By all means, have a few beers, equally have a good time, dance, mosh, lose your shit; do whatever you want – just don’t be an arse and hurt someone. Remember, everyone in the same venue, field or pub are there for the same reason; to appreciate music and to enjoy themselves.
We’ll leave it to Mr Dave Grohl to sign off about fighting at shows…putting it simply, don’t fucking do it.
Thanks Uncle Dave, you’re the best.
Serenity and cacophony are the two main components to Bristol based three piece, White Lion Parade. The trio beg, steal and borrow from the choice nuggets of post-hardcore, shoegaze, post-rock and metal to forge a sound that is soothing and brutal in dual capacity. In early 2013, WLP dropped their debut EP ‘The Valley’ and now thanks to Cassleblank Records, it’s been re-released on limited edition cassette with an added bonus track.
‘The Valley’ finds the band pushing themselves into a broad tapestry of sound and moments of calm create expansive furrows of static that verge on the cinematic and epic in equal measure. Whilst the band comfortably shimmer with grandiose appeal, they’re not one trick ponies – just as the soothing waves of whirring noise peak, WLP drop into crushing tsunamis of metallic post-rock, taking their aural concoction from one end of the spectrum to another on a heartbeat. Sonically, there’s a schizophrenic urge to bind tranquillity and discordance, and this is matched by James Browning’s formidable vocal range. The vocalist/bassist straddles the line between Deftones’ Chino Moreno at his most aloof, with the slightest hint of Jared Leto’s emotive slant – albeit without the pomposity - however this melodic slur is quickly punctured by a visceral roar that enhances the band’s metal influences.
In its first inception, ‘The Valley’ was a two track EP which cascaded into one elongated musical journey through static fuzz, monstrous riffs – delivered by Jason Treloar – and pounding drums – thanks to James Pritchard – topped off by the whispered, howl of Browning’s dreamy shout. ‘Valley’ and ‘Stars’ are now joined by ‘Battle of the Sea’ which continues WLP’s far-reaching palette of exploratory sound and where stillness and visceral get along just fine.
For more information White Lion Parade and Cassleblank Records
Artist: The Family Rain
Title: Hunger Sauce EP
Record Label: Mountbatten Recordings/Kobalt
Release Date: 28th July 2014
It would appear The Family Rain aren’t applying for the positon of the next Guns ‘N Roses. There’s a mere 5 months between releasing the trio’s debut LP, ‘Under The Volcano’ and their next slice of playful rock ‘n’ roll – ‘Hunger Sauce EP’. Frontman Will Walter simply summarised the latest splurge of inspiration as a lust to be creative and not to muck about when it comes to dispensing with some new prime cuts. “We had very little time to write last year so it was good to get back to it and bang out some fresh material. We have been recording with our friend Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Band of Skull and The Maccabees), he has a small setup just down our road so it’s been perfect, the new stuff is sounding beefy as hell and we can’t wait to get it out!”
The Family Rain and ‘Hunger Sauce’s urgency is imminent once the rattling ‘You Should Be Glad You’ve Got A Man’ kick-starts the new EP. Drum machine beats signal the opening moments and then without much fanfare, you’re headlong into an accelerated, rough ‘n’ ready ode to a less than functional relationship. Timothy Walter’s drumming is the main driving factor, ensuring that a sense of pace is always pushing the redline. Brother Will regales us with a love turned awkward and sour and the fact this unnamed vamp should be pleased someone will put up with their unpredictable behaviour. “You should be glad you’ve got a man/who keep’s coming back to you” and “And it’s another complaint/but it’s hard to complain when we fight everyday” typify a turbulent relationship fraying at the ends. ‘We Are In Love’ continues the themes of the heart but again with a twist. The band of brothers take up the guise of a voyeuristic bunch, announcing “we are in love/you just don’t know it yet” as if stalking their prey from afar. All decked out in night vision goggles and camping out in the bushes that’s where you’ll find the Walter brothers as they’re attempting to woo another siren albeit with the temptress having not a clue the three piece are swooning over her. Sonically, ‘We Are In Love’ takes up an almost hip-hop aesthetic with a razor sharp, repetitive riff rebounding off a rigid beat and rubbery bassline. If ‘Under The Volcano’ harnessed the power The Family Rain’s blue rock schtick, ‘Hunger Sauce’ sees the band burrowing deep into a mezze of alternative musical flavours.
Despite having an aural reference point from across the Atlantic The Family Rain have an Englishness about them that can’t be escaped. ‘Tarantula’ is the conjoined twin of ‘Hey Jude’ and Oasis’ ‘All Around The World’. This is the band flexing their jaunty muscles and a chorus/middle eight that recounts the uplifting moments from both the Liverpudlians and Gallagher brothers in equal measure. These combined elements provide a jovial edge and a tongue-in-cheek sassiness that invoke further British greats Blur and The Kinks at their most Blighty. ‘Punchbowl’ sidesteps any further connotations with the British Isles for another burst of fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll that’s buoyed by a flurry of ricocheting drum licks and Ollie Walter’s serrated fretwork, angling itself somewhere between ‘Under The Volcano’s visceral edge and ‘Hunger Sauce’s new found sonic wonderland.
Evidently, The Family Rain have a ravenous desire when it comes to cooking up new, mouth-watering morsels and if this is just the ‘(Hunger) Sauce’, imagine the next gastronomic delight to whet our appetite.
Artist: The Prodigy
Venue: Sonisphere Festival, Knebworth, UK
Date: 4th July 2014
Cast your eyes across Sonisphere 2014’s line up and its business as usual…or at least it would seem. Rock and metal reign supreme with the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica topping the bill. Additionally metal stalwarts Slayer, Anthrax and Mastodon nestle up nicely to Limp Bizkit, Deftones and HIM. But what is this? Do we see a clutch of musical imposters on the festival’s riff heavy roster – Frank Turner?! A punk-folk poet! Chas and Dave…what the fuck?! And taking up the third summit filling spot…The Prodigy. Are the staunchly set in their ways metal masses casting their net to wider musical reaches? Some may contest that the Essex rock-ravers have no place at a “rock festival” – they’re a dance act aren’t? However, some recognise that The Prodigy headlining Sonisphere makes perfect sense, this is a collective that have fused together the most anti-social fragments of music to create a sonic-battering ram that’s mosh worthy as it is ‘glow-sticks at the ready, let’s get our bosh on’! Punk, rave, metal, drum & bass, dubstep and God knows what else, they’ve all touched the trio’s petri dish and what morphs from this curious concoction of disparate items is uniquely The Prodigy and most importantly, it’s music to piss people off – isn’t that exactly what rock/metal should be?
Just as day is turning into night, The Prodigy turn Knebworth into a post-apocalyptic warehouse rave, albeit in a field near Stevenage. Smoke bellows as the audio anarchists appear while screens that flank the Apollo Stage, glitch and fuzz as if projecting malfunctioning transmissions from the final embers of the human race. The scene is set for Braintree’s finest to fry our eyes and expand our minds. The visceral scree of ‘Breathe’ announces The Prodigy to Sonisphere and it would appear, the Essex lads have their work cut out initially. Large chunks of the audience are divided, there’s the believers: losing their shit, the inquisitive: bobbing their heads and wondering if it’s ok to enjoy the band’s bass heavy but guitar spewing dance-rock and then there’s the ‘arm-folders’ the “true” metal fans who aren’t budging one jot – “this isn’t metal and we’re not going to enjoy it”. WWPSM had to wonder if the guy in front of us - we’ll call him Mister Machine Fucking Head, thanks to his lovely t-shirt – was a statue because no matter how much The Prodigy ramped up the beats and the frazzled riffs, he moved precisely nowhere. Still, the non-advocates loss is our gain, after nicely limbering up Sonisphere with ‘Breathe’ the riotous threesome smashed through a vast cannon of hedonistic, cuts of dance-rock mayhem. What’s telling with tonight’s headlining slot and with The Prodigy is how they are constantly evolving, numerous tracks get reworked, introducing dubstep nuances or extended freakouts of floor quaking beats and jagged guitar slashes. ‘Voodoo People’ and ‘Poison’ receive these re-imaginations whilst ‘Omen’ remains largely in the shape of its recorded persona, it garners the loudest cheer and most enthusiastic response of the night – next to ‘Firestarter’ of course.
Towards the end of June, head-honcho and musical Svengali, Liam Howlett spoke to NME about the group’s imminent new album and the prospect of playing new jams during their allotted summer festival slots. Howlett professed the new cuts would be “violent sounding” and that “at these big shows people don’t want to hear fucking new stuff”. Well, Mr Howlett you tell porkie pies because those “violent sounding” nuggets appeared in the guise of brand spanking new tracks ‘Jetfighter’ and ‘Rock Weiler’ both of which live up to their vicious billing and whet our appetites for what the future holds concerning a much anticipated new LP.
After being pummelled for nearly an hour and a half, the slightly tentative masses are moving as one, either instigating circle pits or wafting glowsticks like its rave year zero. Apart from Mister Machine Fucking Head – he’s rooted to the spot. A three song encore rushes the band’s headlining set to a close; a frenetic ‘Take Me To The Hospital’, the old-skool rave from back in the day ‘Hyperspeed (G-Force Part 2)’ has Sonisphere reaching for the sky and then, the metal-tinged monster of ‘Their Law’ wraps up The Prodigy’s assault on a Knebworth. It would be fitting that ‘Their Law’ is the Essex boy’s parting shot, originally penned in reaction to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which criminalised raves and rave culture, the venomous howl of “fuck ‘em and their law” thrusts a middle finger in the direction of anyone doubting The Prodigy would work at Sonisphere. You’ll be hard placed finding a heavier, more aggressive and innovative act over the course of the weekend – “fuck ‘em and their law” indeed.
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Band of Skulls @ Sonisphere 2014, Knebworth, UK, 4th July 2014
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Record Label: FatCat Records
Release Date: 14th July 2014
"Another fucking bruise/this one looks just like a rose" trills Stina Tweedddale on closing track ‘Braidburn Valley’ and with these beautiful yet macabre words, we understand the ethos of Honeyblood and the duo’s confessional self-titled debut LP. Much like the pair’s sweetly brutal name, the band’s first album combines an adolescent swing of emotions with raw, fuzzy indie rock.
Instead of being in the eye of the teenage storm, Honeyblood’s sonic appeal is that of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis but a naive innocence still resonates with a burning, tongue-in-cheek ire. ‘Super Rat’ positions the band calmly recounting the story of a low down dirty scoundrel “I will hate you forever/ I will hate you forever/scumbag/sleaze/slim ball/grease/you really do disgust me” all delivered with a grin but with a knife situated somewhere between the unnamed suitors shoulder blades. The gulf between teenagedom and young adulthood rings true on ‘All Dragged Up’ where Shona McVicar’s rapid drumming and Tweedddale’s fuzzy guitars paint the picture of someone clinging onto their old childish ways. “Why won’t you grow up/ why won’t you grow up/do we have to drag you up?” We’ve all got that pal who lives that eternal student life - this is about them. Fading friendship and drifting apart also factors during ‘Honeyblood’s lifespan, throughout the fast paced scratchiness of ‘Killer Bangs’ the Scottish twosome reflect reluctantly but defiantly about having to move on with one’s life “I don’t want to have to go on without you/but I have to” a short-sharp summary of how certain people are present in your life for fleeting moments but not permanent fixtures. Transition and the clarity of embarking on a new chapter becomes a main theme on ‘Honeyblood’ but instead of remorsefully reflecting on the past, there’s a feeling of catharsis with a confident nod towards the future.
A prerequisite for a two piece is to make as much noise with the sum of your parts but with Honeyblood, the noisiness is toned down to ensure melody and other textures are allowed to shine through. On previous recordings the Glaswegian’s projected themselves as coarse pop minstrels but on their debut those rough edges have been smoothed over ever so slightly, applying a sugary layer on top of the raw amalgamation of guitars and drums.
It would be trite to claim ‘Honeyblood’ as a coming of age LP but in saying that, a notion of shedding childish idiosyncrasies is blood coursing through the album’s veins. Bitterly sweet and honestly autobiographical Honeyblood have distilled the emotional transition to adulthood with the jab of a smiling knife.
Photography by Naomi Abbs
Over time the ‘festival experience’ has been lost somewhat. Now attending a summer bash has become a rite of passage akin to your first boozy trip to Malia with the boys or indeed, girls. What should be several days absorbing music, art and saying goodbye to the wider world for a weekend, translates into being shitfaced neck deep in mud whilst ignoring the multitude of amazing bands/acts/crafts ready for you to get your teeth into.
Blissfields on the other hand is an entirely different beast, this is a festival enjoying its 14th year and it’s in fine fettle thanks to a wonderful array of musicians to saviour, activities for all the family and a stunning setting that invokes journeying through the rabbit hole to a candy coated dream world. Predominately it’s a music festival but the wealth of artistic detractions are a stunning jewel to Blissfields’ crown – if you wish to try your hand at leather craft, fancy having a go at being a blacksmith or simply tie dying yourself a kaleidoscopic t-shirt as a momento of your time at the Winchester event, these are the tip of the crafty iceberg. With the myriad of gorgeous food to indulge your inner foodie, a quick game of pitch ‘n’ putt and of course the sumptuous spa area, suffice to say, Blissfields is a one of a kind festival and one that has more to offer than just getting drunk as a skunk.
Whilst exploring Blissfields we fed our musical bellies as well as feasting on a vast array of delicious grub – We Were Promised So Much is first and foremost a music blog but by Christ we like to eat! The first offering on the festival’s diverse mezze board that we had the pleasure to wrapped our ears around was London whippersnappers, Jungle Doctors and considering this year’s fancy dress theme was ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ our primary choice of band comes with a coincidental vibe. Taking to the site’s The Hustle Den, the young five piece prowl the stage as if they’re headlining the whole shindig, there’s a confidence that exudes from the quintet that makes them a bright star for the future. Boasting an indie-rock sound that’s not a million miles away from Swim Deep, Peace and the slightest hint of Two Door Cinema Club, these boys definitely cast a spell over the amassed throng on a drizzly day in Hampshire.
Apparently at Blissfields it never rains, which would be a lie as on Saturday the heavens opened and indeed, the waterproofs and wellies had to be adorned to protect us from the elements once we graced the Wild Stage. Just the remedy to this precipitation is Ry X and his soothing static lullabies. With a voice of velvet and guitar tones which waft and caress the air, it’s no surprise that the clouds cease their downpour and that giant orb in the sky makes an appearance to soundtrack X’s idyllic fuzz. X, or Ry Cuming to his pals, has to be one of the most humble and genuine souls to grace the planet as his gratitude and modest demeanour warmed the cockles of our hearts as the sun started to beat on our necks.
With a changeable weather pattern, it’s with a curious irony that Bipolar Sunshine follows Ry X. Adio Marchant’s sweet and sour soundtracks the dark clouds subsiding until rays of glowing light drench Blissfields for the first time on what was a gloomy Saturday. Backed by three musicians, Marchant’s performance slowly gathered pace until the triple helping of ‘Where Did The Love Go?’, ‘Rivers’ and ‘Love More Worry Less’ get the crowd off their feet and their hands in the air. Blissfields and Bipolar Sunshine are a match made in Hampshire and the closing manifesto of ‘Love More Worry Less’ fits today’s festival like a glove.
Back in The Hustle Den, Southampton’s Laurel delivered an icy cool set forged by the swooning sound of a cellist, Portishead beats and glacial synths. Despite the starlet’s aural frostiness, Laurel radiates an infectious warmth that has large quarters of the audience hollering her name and immediately posting performance snaps onto Twitter or so claims a devoted Laurel fanatic. Straddling the line between girl-next-door and sensual provocateur, Laurel moulded Blissfields in her hand like putty.
Back to The Wild Stage and Blissfields is freewheeling to an ecstatic finale, transporting us from Winchester to the glitzy yet grubby sidewalks of New York, Hercules and Love Affair light the blue touch paper for a dance fuelled disco party with Andy Butler’s rubbery take on house music garnering feverous responses from the melee down the front. As Butler pulls the strings from behind his vast array of sonic gadgets, two singers take centre stage and command Blissfields like a pair of disco-cheerleaders. It’s a joyous sub-headlining set and one fitting for a festival that carries the name Blissfields. Tonight we all had a Love Affair with Hercules!
After HLA’s hip shaking transatlantic disco, it’s time for the audio collagists, 2manydjs to bind together the weird and the wonderful from their burgeoning record collection. With the crowd nicely limbered up, the Belgian’s headlining spot crowns of Blissfields with the brothers Dewaele merging a plethora of crowd pleasers. Granted watching two grown men – who bear a resemblance to Columbo and Inspector Gadget thanks to their rain-macs - toil over a bank of musical toys isn’t the most engrossing, nevertheless witnessing the cat and mouse of crowdsurfers versus security is hilarious, it seems just as a party goer is bound to be plucked from the undulating sea of hands they’re thrust back into the crowd to bobble like flotsam and jetsam.
From the likes of Disclosure’s ‘White Noise’, the band’s adopted theme tune ‘Peter Gunn’ to The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ and the closing one-two of ‘Girls and Boys’ by Blur and Supergrass’ anthem to eternal youth ‘Alright’, the overall feeling is that David and Stephen have pilfered our favourite anthems, cut them up, stuck them back together again and supercharged them with a ribcage rattling assortment of beats. 2manydjs wrap up Blissfields Wild Stage and it’s left to Mel and Paul Bliss to thank all those that have made this such a fantastic event, from the punters, to the artists and all those behind the scenes, the Winchester shindig all of sudden morphs into less a festival and more of a huge party with a shedload of new friends.
We scamper off to the Hidden Hedge and immerse ourselves in the frenetic, chaos of Area 51 to keep the party going…that’s where our tail ends of 2014…same time next year? Bet your leopard print loincloth we’ll be back!Photography by Naomi Abbs
Since its meagre inception back in 2001, Blissfields has slowly evolved from “friends having a great party in a field” to a two day festival that’s “lots of new found friends having an incredible party in a field”. 2001 saw Blissfields crop up on the festival radar, cobbled together by a bunch of fairy lights, a sound system hired the morning of the shindig and roaring bonfire. Leap forward into 2014, the Winchester knees up is a multi-staged festival drawing in talent from all over the global. 2manydjs, Sleigh Bells, Tune Yards, Wolf Alice and many more factor this year amongst a whole host of DJs. Blissfields carries a theme for each annual outing and 2014 is no different; you’re invited to “walk on the wild side”. Prepare yourself to go native at Blissfields 2014.
Here’s our choice of acts that’ll make Blissfields 2014 another year to savour…
Sugary sweet and visceral in equal measure, Sleigh Bells are sonic terrorists sent on a mission to meld together abrasive hardcore punk shredding and hip hop production so that you can lose your shit and dance like a loon. Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller invoke the aural bedlam of a punk band hijacking a troop of cheerleaders. Krauss is the gooey centre to the pair’s arsenal, saccharine to the taste with the moves of a girl band member raised on Black Flag whereas Miller is the engine room, the brutal outer core that hammers out blistering fretwork to juxtapose Krauss’ syrupy tones. This is all wrapped up in a shiny package of r ‘n’ b beats and chirps making for a multi-faceted, 3-D experience. Blissfields, you’re in for a treat.
The original mash up kings, 2manydjs have the pleasure in bringing Blissfields 2014 to an energised digital-flecked close. Primed and ready to dispense with their copy ‘n’ paste electronica, the brothers Dewaele have an entire sonic encyclopaedia to draw from; be prepared to have your ears treated to a dizzying array of veritable tasty morsels. Be it Iggy Pop, Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, Salt ‘n’ Pepa or some random TV jingle from back in the day, 2manydjs are the aural equivalent to MacGyver – give them the bare bones of music and they’ll get any dancefloor or in the case, a field in Winchester, bouncing like its New Years Eve 1999.
Hercules and Love Affair
Festivals are meant to be big parties aren’t they? That communal experience of losing yourself in a field whilst being absorbed by the best music washing over you like a sonic tidal wave. Positioned neatly underneath main stage headliners, 2manydjs, are NYC dance-merchants, Hercules and Love Affair. Suffice to say, those party vibes will be ramped into overdrive once The Big Apple residents get their hometown disco pumping. New York for years has been synonymous with The Strokes and garage-rock but HLA represent a glamourous side of the five boroughs, albeit with cigarette burns on its cocktail dress. Protagonist and head honcho, Andy Butler helms the band and drafts in a choice band of musical visionaries to bring HLA’s rubbery New York disco to life. Glitzy and oh-so fabulous, dust of those disco pants, Hercules and Love Affair are coming to town.
Boundaries are something that Wolf Alice are blissfully unaware of. The London troop’s aural goods are a tricky deal to summarise, this is a band who can mesmerize an audience with a pin-drop silence but then detonate with a cavalcade of roaring grunge-pop roughness. Ambient but oh-so noisy, Wolf Alice are riding the crest of a wave thanks to the plaudits garnered from their ‘Blush’ and ‘Creature Songs’ EPs merged with the band’s empathic live shows. Happily disobeying convention, Wolf Alice are one of the UK’s most treasured new bands – you’d be a fool to miss them at Blissfields this year.
Years and Years
Years and Years’ synth led dance pop showcases the trio’s knack of melding boinging basslines and effervescent synths which in turn provoke comparisons to geeky-dance collective Hot Chip. Elsewhere, Years and Years craft a sound that drips with contemporary R ‘n’ B and saunters with a nonchalant groove. The London three piece set the airwaves a flutter with the bedroom electronica of ‘Real’, a track that caresses your ears with a euphoric, anthemic quality and one that’s set to get your feet moving all night long.
Who says pop music has to sound stale and uninspired? “Fuck those naysayers” that’s what ballsy teenager Chloe Howl would say (or something to that degree). Cut from similar cloth to Lily Allen and Kate Nash, Howl strikes an androgynous figure with a pop aesthetic that siphons off the best ingredients for electronica and drum ‘n’ bass. ‘Rumour’ is a surging melee of fluid synth lines and rapid fire beats that will certainly get this year’s Winchester party bouncing. Equally, with the squealing ‘No Strings’ we see the starlet flash her fangs with “No more crawling in your bed/fuck your no strings/I hope you have twins” proving she’s not someone to trifle with. Instantly poppy with a venomous streak, that’s Chloe Howl! Don’t miss her over the weekend.
This year’s Blissfields Festival is a melting pot of musical titbits, there’s 2manydjs’ aural collages, Sleigh Bells acerbic punk-rock-cum-cheerleader pop and then, there’s Bipolar Sunshine or Adio Marchant, a man who draws from Kanye West as much as he does Arctic Monkeys. A musical architect who loves to mine the furrows of Kendrick Lamar whilst positioning one ear towards The Smiths. With these contrasting but complimentary touch-points comes the young Mancunian’s vast appeal. Marchant is an uplifting prospect whilst having the ability to burrow right into your heart and soul. “Love more and worry less” Marchant declares on the track of the same name, that’s a good manifesto to have and one that rings true with Blissfield’s goodtime vibes.
For more information on Blissfields
Record Label: Island Records
Release Date: 30th June 2014
Phantogram are a two piece from New York and this split personality observation echoes further than the sum of their parts. Made up by Sarah Barthel (vocals, keyboard) and Josh Carter (vocals, guitar), sonically and lyrically the pair take up two different camps and this is evident on sophomore LP, ‘Voices’. Aurally, the production is crispy and almost R ‘n’ B like, large chunks of the album are precise and wrapped around robust processed beats. As the ying to the musical yang, Barthel’s vocals are elusive, chilling and carry, at times, bleak undertones. Phantogram have a tendency to serve themselves up raw and with this ‘Voices’ beholds are a generous helping of catharsis. ‘Celebrating Nothing’ sonically finds the pair sweeping into a shoegaze zone where fuzz is king and a celestial hue whirls around a persistent buzzing stomp. The track’s backdrop is reassuringly optimistic but lyrically Barthel appears desolate, maybe even broken. “Give me a reason to stay alive/I have a feeling we’re gonna die” and “All the time I waste on celebrating nothing” encapsulates Phantogram teetering on the edge of the abyss.
‘Voices’ has a preoccupation with failure, dejection and remorse but these harsh themes are obscured by the band’s aural inventiveness. Not that Barthel and Carter should bury their sentiments deep amongst the din but the Trojan horse effect illustrates a deft knack in uniting uplifting instrumentation with wordplay that’s the polar opposite.
Ultimately the NYC-ers waft with a fuzzy aesthetic but on ‘The Day You Died’, the duo opt for a more direct approach, Barthel’s vocals aren’t cloaked in reverb and riffs are present instead of walls of ethereal whirring. Equally, Phantogram’s lust to innovate and experiment is an enticing prospect, ‘I Don’t Blame You’ is a menagerie of different textures invoking a national anthem inspired by John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ being played at a deep space carnival. ‘My Only Friend’ rounds off ‘Voices’ by seguing a bleak void of nothingness into hummingbird-esque rhythms. This is where the album’s notions towards dejection and desolation come to a head “you’ve lost your battle” and “you’re all I have/my only friend” sear through the now, imposing a mechanical rattle.
Emotive and stripped bare, Phantogram are straddling the line between synthetic and organic whilst offering up an album that is nothing short of confessional.
Venue: Victoria Park, Les-tah, UK
Date: 21st June 2014
Homecoming gigs, big or small are a huge deal. If you’re that band playing the Dog and Duck every Christmas or the local boys done good filling a stadium in your backyard to hordes of thousands, being embraced by your people, in your town, must be immense. This weekend, Leicester lads Kasabian fulfilled that dream, after 10 years since the release of their self-titled debut, they’re back where it all began, in the heart of Leicester playing to an amassed throng of 50,000 revellers. Victoria Park is where the four piece situated the party and suffice to say, it had all the hallmarks of right royal knees up although despite all the hubbub of the returning princes who are to become kings and despite the large scale event, there was something missing. The sense of celebration was thick in the air but the triumphant, career defining performance only glimmered when it should have shone. You could see in the faces of Serge Pizzorno, Tom Meighan, Chris Edwards and Ian Matthews the sense of being overwhelmed, but the band’s normal cocksure strut seemed hampered. Akin to that yearning sensation of always wanting to drive a Ferrari but not knowing what to do once you finally get the keys, Kasabian appeared tentative for large chunks of their self-congratulatory homecoming.
The diluted feeling of performance is deep seated; Kasabian’s support bill appeared cobbled together at the last minute with Rudimental, Zane Lowe and Beardyman performing DJs sets, turning the green expanse into a colossal student’s union. The only band to speak of, Jagwar Ma hummed with a forgettable din. Interspersed throughout the music, the Leicester contingent morphed from good natured party goers to feral sub humans. If it wasn’t for the excessive piss throwing, the anonymous white powder being snorted from housekeys, the close-call fisticuffs or actually watching someone pee their pants waiting for the toilet, some of the crowd took the shine off what was supposed to be a momentous occasion. Like being hurled into ‘What Happens In Leicester’ – this was not a gig in essence, more a debauched substance abuse session in a park, with a support act of Kasabian. We’re no proods, we’ve been round the festival block more times than you’d care, we’ve seen some shit…actual shit but Victoria Park took it to a different level.
Attempting to erase lewd scenes of human behaviour from our minds, Kasabian ploughed through a set that pilfered from their crowd pleasing back catalogued. Newbie ‘Bumblebeee’ kicked off proceedings nicely but the seething monster it should have been seemed to have its shackles too tight. ‘Underdog’ and ‘Fast Fuse’ where greeted like new national anthems and ‘Eez-eh’ was being chanted long before the Leicester boys dispensed with it mid-set. There’s no doubting sonically the quartet have the arsenal to slay 50,000 people but it’s the stage presence that didn’t mirror that aural gold. Yes Meighan struck his messiah poses more times that Jesus would allow, and yes Pizzorno strutted around the stage like a wiry prize fighter but the crowd engagement fell flat. There’s only so many times you can bark ‘Les-tah, Victoria Park’ or prompting fans to thrust their hands up to the sky before you need to re-read the rock ‘n’ roll cliché rulebook.
Main set closer ‘Fire’ ignited a field wide most pit while expertly lighting the blue touch paper for three set encore of ‘Switchblade Smiles’, ‘Vlad The Impaler’ and ‘L.S.F’ with the latter seguing Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’. If the main part of the band’s home turf show was them finding their feet, the encore roared with an astute confidence and one that’ll serve them well when the band close of Glastonbury this coming weekend. If Kasabian can carry on this momentum from their encore to Glastonbury, they’ll solidify themselves in the festival’s rich history and blow Metallica and Arcade Fire off the Pyramid Stage.
In customary fashion, the four piece took a bow and splattered the heaving, inebriated throng with dozens of superlatives and then they were gone. As if preaching to the converted Kasabian have earned the keys to the city.
Photography by Naomi Abbs
At times we’re a chameleon to our environment and to our subject matter, so in the case of Ghost of the Avalanches’ latest EP, ‘Body Snatchers’, we’re not going to ramble on in some kind of flabby monologue about how great it is, no we’re going to cut to the chase and rattle out this review in 312 words.
Noisy-punk two piece, GOTA have forged a four track EP that clocks in at just under five minutes with the longest track being an epic two minutes, seventeen seconds. In comparison to the rest of ‘Body Snatchers’, ‘Prescribe This’ is the twosome’s Bohemian Rhapsody! The Bristol based duo certainly don’t mess around when it comes to going straight for the jugular as each moment of their new body of work accelerates with an ADHD burst of urgency.
‘Body Snatchers’ reverberates with the sound of Nick Wiltone’s fuzzed up bass and Miles Per-Hour’s powerful drumming. Then there’s Wiltone’s tuneful vocal that morphs into a visceral bark, best illustrated on the EP’s title track; a sheer blast of punk fury which has the vocalist hollering the song’s moniker like a punk rock banshee. There’s a rawness to ‘Body Snatchers’ that translates through the scuzzy walls of bass and explosive beats – but the subject matter is equally as harsh with social paranoia, mental illness, vacuous partying and mindless violence making up GOTA’s own take on social awareness. It’s on ‘Monkey Knife Fight’ where you can envisage the streets of Booze Britain tearing lumps out of one another. ‘Prescribe This’ hints at the mental illness previously mentioned – “you know/we’ve all got our problems/and does it show/no-one can solve them”.
Short, sharp and ear threateningly loud – prepared to be abducted, the ‘Body Snatchers’ are coming for you.
For more information on Ghost Of The Avalanche -
Ghost Of The Avalanche release ‘Body Snatchers EP’ world-wide on limited edition, ‘snot green’ 7” vinyl through GREBO RECORDS and digital download (all major digital retailers) through CASSEBLANK RECORDS on Friday 20th of June 2014.
Vinyl pre-order available here (pre-orders available now).
Alt-J tracks aren’t conceived from jams or working stuff out in soundchecks, no, they are engineered, built with precision and delivered with the poise of man machines but without the horrible repercussions of being mechanical.
Working as a taster of what to expect from their sophomore LP, ‘This Is All Yours’ – ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ is where the now three piece – bassist Gwil Sainsbury left earlier this year – have introduced a liquid-like aesthetic to their wares. Whereas before debut album, ‘An Awesome Wave’, was taut and wound like a spring, ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ drifts with a fluid, interchangeable motif of electronic waves. There’s heartbeat pulses, crispy cracks of static and bizarrely a sample of Miley Cyrus chanting “I’m a female rebel” from her own ditty, ‘4x4’. Thom Green’s rigid drumming doesn’t factor here until the track’s spaciousness has fully bedded in and by this point it’s evident Alt-J are striding confidently into their second tenure.
Vocalist Joe Newman still possess that unique baritone falsetto that gives the trio another unique edge and the perfect vehicle to translate the track’s lyrical nuances of longing and pining for that departed person. Putting it simply, ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ is a nod towards missing someone “Sleeplessly embracing/yawn yearns into me/plenty more tears in the sea”.
Akin to when Foals announced their return with the sublime ‘Spanish Sahara’, ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ illustrates Alt-J’s lust to progress and to experiment whilst still maintaining ‘An Awesome Wave’s rich appeal. The sonic scientists may have had a change in personnel but there’s no sign of second album nerves here.
'Hunger Of The Pine' from the upcoming album 'This Is All Yours' and available as an instant download with all iTunes pre-orders: smarturl.it/TIAYitunes
Also available to pre-order on Double Vinyl: smarturl.it/TIAYvinyl