Trawlin’ for new music, waxing lyrical about our finds.


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LIVE

HIDDEN HERD VS LOST IN THE MANOR | THE FINSBURY | 22.09.16

September 26, 2016 — by Kulvin Kailey

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Our second show with Lost in the Manor was another exceptional evening.

Following our successful first show with Lost in the Manor back in July (featuring Dance a la Plage, Moses and Indigo Child), we teamed up again to showcase yet another exciting night of fresh new music.

Once again taking place at the Finsbury (a delightful, intimate venue nestled on the edge of the North London park of the same name), we settle into a night that explored two different sides of the rock spectrum.

hoodoo daze

Hoodoo Daze take the stage first to bring the night into swing, using their nostalgic vibes to bring some motion to the warming crowd. Their style has some touches of The Hives; crunchy guitars with a confident, often unpredictable front duo in the shape of Chris Normann and Alex Moon. Like the Hives, they bring a nice dynamism to their music, frequently honing in on an individual instrument or voice before erupting as a band.

They open with their only digital single ‘Smooth 80s’, heating the crowd with loud, proud unashamedly-catchy rock. Their blues-inspired aura certainly throws nods to Jack White circa The Raconteurss era, with explosive vocals pushing through a veil of distorted guitars with impressive calibre.

hoodoo daze

Their classic, timeless vibes throw up some comparison to bands such as Wolfmother, who, whilst nodding to the past, bring classic rock to the modern age with a twist of their own. An impressive start for the new band.

The four-piece are certainly akin to making a racket – and had plenty of fun on stage when doing so. With this style of music, the bands commitment to its stage presence is key. At any point that the band decided to get people moving, the people moved. Where some may be alienated, all were drawn. Hoodoo Daze have an infectious thrall in their arsenal, so be warned.

Heavy Heart have an admittedly different aura; more anthemic and introspective than loud and brash. Whilst the contrast between the two is quite stark, the band’s far-reaching soundscapes transport the crowd from the dark, smoky venue to lands unknown, with lead singer Anna Vincent’s providing assuring company.

Their style is easy and sincere, and their soundscapes are both lifting and heartfelt, giving an emotional edge that has mass appeal. When you’re in the presence of a band that can captivate a crowd whilst connecting intimately, you’re on to a winner.

heavy heart

If Snow Patrol decided to push themselves a little further and experiment with a more dynamic sound, that’s where you’d find Heavy Heart. Good, decent songwriting that utilises a full band to its real potential. Vincent’s vocals are apparent and tender, with nothing being lost behind the band’s instrumentals.

The South-East London band have an instant appeal, and do well to linger in the ears of their listeners for some time after the show. You’d be hard pressed not to catch yourself humming their tracks on the way home, and Vincent’s vocals are a heartfelt siren that could touch the nation.

heavy heart

Shoegaze itself is a double-edged sword. Those that love it, really advocate it, but those who don’t find it difficult to cut through the haziness of it. One thing that Heavy Heart have admirably managed to achieve is something that slots them decisively in the middle. Their tracks show depth and diversity, whilst still utilising what makes the genre so attractive to die-hard fans. As a listener, you need not worry – there are plenty of crackly guitars and lucid synths at play here, but you won’t find yourself lost between tracks. Heavy Heart are defined, mature and not afraid to create something new.

#FoundSound

Groves ‘Do You Feel’

September 22, 2016 — by James Oliver West

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Infectious electro-pop from London.

Greetings to Groves, a welcome new addition to the infectious electro-pop landscape. 

The South London band bridge the gap between live and electronic, with progressive and ethereal music that harks at Hot Chip, Memory Tapes and fellow up-and-coming act Vimes.

It’s unsurprising given the Peckham five-piece’s roots, honing their sound at a string of their own warehouse parties that were aptly christened Late Night Grooves. Here, they performed live as night struck and later DJ’ed from dusk till dawn – two disciplines they’ve combined to create the instrumental and nocturnal noise of latest single ‘Do You Feel’.

Human, hypnotic and hook-laden, the release is proof that Groves have landed on a winning formula and that their progress is worthy of close inspection.

#FoundSound

Swimming Tapes ‘Tides’

September 20, 2016 — by Kulvin Kailey

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A welcome taste of Californian indie by way of London.

Hand in Hive‘s latest offering Swimming Tapes have a similar sun-kissed charm to Saltwater Sun; reverb-laden guitars and soothing vocals. ‘Tides’ is an instant winner – bringing good, simple indie rock back to it’s roots in the wake of other British bands such as Palace, who also have an insatiable taste for organic sounds.

Clear comparisons can be made across the pond, with bands like Real Estate leading the charge with their feel-good, mostly introspective appeal. Without striking too much of a dissonance between the two, Swimming Tapes stand out with an extra kiss of British flavour, bringing them some serious prominence amongst those booking festival slots next summer. ‘Tides’ is a strong, affirming third release for the London 5-piece.

#FoundSound

Unqualified Nurse Band ‘My Boots Are Shakin”

September 19, 2016 — by James Auton

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More riotous rock 'n' roll from Derby.

“My boots are shakin'” yelps Unqualified Nurse Band frontman Chris Jones. And well they might be, the din these dudes are making.

Coming hot on the heels of the aural assault that was singles ‘100 Beats’ and ‘Getting Sweaty’, the Derby three-piece dial down the intensity a couple of notches on this one, with a heady mix of early Cribs, The Fall and New Wave hooks across three sprawling minutes.

By contrast, the video treatment of the third track from the band’s debut LP ‘Debasement Tapes’ – the first album to be released by Reckless Yes, the love child of Louder Than War Editor Sarah Lay and ex-Cable bassist Peter Darrington – is a serene affair.

The clip stars Sophie Prosay from label mates Pet Crow, as she takes a stroll through rolling countryside, but director Grawl!x reveals that the peaceful tranquillity is just smoke and mirrors: “Off camera somewhere is a bed ridden recluse whose only contact with the outside world is our intrepid expeditionary who is the star of this ere vidz”.

#FoundSound

NGOD ‘Can You Hear Me?’

September 16, 2016 — by Kulvin Kailey

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Energetic, frantic rock for fans of the golden Brit-pop era.

Bradford rock-quintet NGOD have a likeable 90’s charm. ‘Can You Hear Me’ opens triumphantly, with singer Sam Augustine repeating an informative mantra ‘there’s always something going on’ before the song breaks into full swing.

Their style throws some nods to pyschadelia-pop rock of decades past, looking at bands such as Kula Shaker and The Charlatans through sweaty fringes. With a few notable radio spots (Huw Stephens – Radio 1, Steve Lamacq – 6 music), as well as festival appearances throughout the summer, the 5-piece seem set to take the next step in their careers.

INTERVIEWS

August

September 14, 2016 — by Kulvin Kailey

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A catchup with the newly-solo artist.

We speak to London artist August (aka Steve Hughes) following the release of his second single ‘ANIMAL’.

We’ve seen that you spent some time in a band last year, before deciding to set out on your own. Has it taken time to adjust to a solo project?

The mindset of being an artist rather than a band definitely takes a bit of getting used to. Being in a band is great but can be quite rigid in terms of needing to feature certain instruments. It feels like there’s a bit more creative license to experiment and try things now. I’ve always worked collaboratively in the studio with my mate, and producer, Eddy, and so in that sense the change up was easy.

Do you feel like your personal sound developed as a result of your previous experiences, or was this the style of music that has always resonated with you personally?

I think a bit of both, trying out stuff in previous bands definitely helped refine what I like and how I wanted to write and create moving forward. I also think lyrically I draw a lot from my past experiences. But I also feel there is a certain sound that is within me and a style of writing that I am naturally drawn to. I love big melodies that emotionally connect and I am always excited about trying to communicate powerful ideas in a simple way. That instinct often leads me towards more pop melodies than going too left field.

Your sound is quite electronic, although you do cite some interesting influences from Photography to Disney films. Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your latest style?

In terms of musical influences, the songwriting of Sia has been a big influence, she just seems to have so many different sections in a song that all feel like choruses. It means the song continually gets bigger and bigger. In terms of sound, LCD Soundsystem have been a massive influence; I love how on a song like ‘All My Friends’ can take a small idea and gently build layers until the point where it feels raging, yet the listener feels totally emotionally engaged.

Outside of music, London architecture has been a massive inspiration, especially the Brutalist movement. For a song like ‘ANIMAL’ written about London, I tried to encapsulate the power of these huge buildings that can feel both cold and austere yet so aspirational and beautiful. It’s that delicate balance that I wanted to write about in ‘ANIMAL’.

How did the name ‘August’ come about?

I had a song called ‘August’ that I always liked the title for but the song wasn’t very good. It was also in August of last year that I decided to try something different, so it felt like a natural fit. Finding a name is the hardest part of being an artist.

What’s next for you in 2016?

We’re releasing another single in a few weeks time and an EP. We’ve got a couple of London shows lined up but are also confirming a support tour for the autumn. I’m really excited about performing these songs live.

Have you got your eyes on any other artists at the moment?

I can’t wait for the new Bon Iver record, I’ve loved the few songs I’ve heard so far. I’ve also been enjoying Christine and The Queens record. I’m seeing my mates tonight Daunt play and they’ve got some wicked songs dropping…

LIVE

Together The People | Various | 03.09.16

September 12, 2016 — by James Oliver West

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Brighton's independent fest brims with brilliance.

One quick peek at the forecast for this year’s Together The People suggests that the festival’s first day will fall victim to the elements. With a little rain cloud icon hovering above every hour from noon onwards, the opening Saturday of September in Brighton is down to be a washout and the dazzling showcase of music looks set to be marred by a relentless downpour.

Natty - Hidden Herd

It quickly becomes clear that it’ll take more than grizzly weather to sabotage TTP‘s quaint summer fete vibe and stellar lineup though. First, a beaming Natty dispels any worries about the imminent soaking with his relaxed and rootsy pop that swims in the same waters as Toronto trio Bedouin Soundclash. ‘Bedroom Eyes’ is the Londoner’s crowning point and as its lackadaisical reggae-tinged refrain drifts across the field, a nearby stall fills the air with a gazillion bubbles and the combination is magical.

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Still on the One Inch Badge Main Stage, ex-Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes wows with a flawless stripped back solo performance. Despite only being backed by a minimal electronic beat, ‘White Noise’ is a heart-stirring high point, soaring thanks to Coombes’ impeccable vocals and lush-sounding drop D-tuned acoustic. Naturally though, his former band’s music garners the most rapturous reaction, with a majestic ‘Moving’ (written when he resided on the south coast) and a rip-roaring ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ rousing the fast-growing crowd.

Fickle Friends - Hidden Herd

Then comes the rain, a little later than billed, which drives hordes of wristband holders to the Concorde 2 New Bands Stage for shelter and synth pop. Regardless of the shower, Brighton’s Fickle Friends certainly deserve to play to a bustling tent and their technicolour hooks in the vein of CHVRCHES manage to quickly convert those who are only in their presence to keep dry. Standout ‘Say No More’ is the jewel in the quintet’s crown, with neon-flecked electronica and Day-Glo guitars that transport the sodden big top to sunnier climes.

Turin Brakes - Hidden Herd

They’re followed by London band Turin Brakes, whose retrospective set is less peppy, but just as impactful. The acoustic-rock stalwarts remind the brimming marquee of their prowess with a barrage of cathartic, early noughties anthems, including ‘Painkiller’ and its apt “Summer rain” refrain, as well as the bruised bittersweet jangle of closer ‘Underdog (Save Me)’.

Brian Wilson - Hidden Herd

After a short dash over to the main stage, it’s time for the legendary Brian Wilson to evoke palm-fringed fronts and rippling tides with the sun-bleached music of The Beach Boys. This year is the 50th Anniversary of ‘Pet Sounds’ and tonight the seminal record is performed in full, bookended by some classic singles that jolt the field into life. With Blondie Chaplin and birthday boy Al Jardine in tow, the Wilson band’s recital of the 1966 magnum opus is pristine: ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ delights with its swooning harmonies, ‘Sloop John B’ spellbinds with its sugary melodies and ‘God Only Knows’ wows, luring Preston Park into full-throated song. In the wake of ‘Pet Sounds’, the avalanche of hits continues with ‘Help Me, Rhonda’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘Surfin’ USA’ and ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ – all of which are introduced by an audibly gleeful Wilson, who is barely able to contain himself knowing that the opening bars will send the park into joyous disarray.

House Points - Hidden Herd

The next day, with the best of The Beach Boys still pogoing around attendees’ heads, it’s over to the BIMM Stage where a giddy Brighton quartet continue the good vibrations. Despite being minus a man, House Points as a trio still pack a punch, with rapid earwormer ‘I Don’t Like You’ and cooing surf pop tune ‘Words’ recalling Hot Hot Heat and wooing an in-the-know few.

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Carrying on the party, Malian desert punks Songhoy Blues bring their infectious spirit and unrelenting energy to the main stage in the mid-afternoon. The fidgety rock of ‘Al Hassidi Terei’ is their scintillating stint’s undeniable highlight, prompting frontman Aliou Touré to dance like a champion and grin like the Cheshire Cat. He’s a magnetic presence from start to finish – a Jagger-like performer that warrants the audience’s unwavering attention.

Episodes - Hidden Herd

Back at the BIMM, EPISODES excite with their groove-laden electro pop. Like Fickle Friends the day before, this Brighton four-piece are also about vivid soundscapes, glossy guitar lines and knee-jerk rhythms. Among their enviable arsenal, ‘Hunny Please’ sees them flaunt the sort of fluorescent funky riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Better Call Saul soundtrack and ‘Crumble’ sounds like moonshot music with its climbing synths and intergalactic chorus.

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Equally tantalising are our final watch of the day on the same stage. The Island Club – also gracing their hometown festival – put in a scintillating shift, with glistening ballad ‘Sober’, ray-soaked jam ‘Let Go’ and plunging pop banger ‘Paper Kiss’ the big standouts. Just like Years & Years or The 1975 at the tail end of the festival calendar, the five-piece’s music perfectly encapsulates that bittersweet post-August feeling and they provide a fitting soundtrack as Hidden Herd sups one last cold one and toasts the last dregs of summer.

#FoundSound

August ‘Animal’

September 9, 2016 — by Kulvin Kailey

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A genre-lucid ode to Britain's capital.

‘Animal’ is London artist Steve Hughes’ ode to the capital city; a sincere ballad that yearns for salvation in the big smoke. After a difficult year tied up with another band, Hughes’ latest opus ‘August‘, gave him the opportunity to flex his own creative muscles, along with the help of friend and production partner Ed Carlile.

Hughes’ vocals on the track are immediately gripping and heartfelt. The emotions that underpin the song resonate throughout it’s length, in a way that’s often not seen in new artists. For August, this is his killer selling point; here we have an artist that’s matured, with a purposeful creative direction.

LIVE

Kevin Morby | Green Door Store | 02.09.16

September 8, 2016 — by James Oliver West

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The 28-year-old's folk is wondrously hypnotic live.

Down under the train tracks, as the day outside is swallowed by darkness, Mount Washington-via-Brooklyn singer-songwriter Kevin Morby and his band waltz onto Green Door Store‘s snug stage. Illuminated by the small cobbled room’s homely burnt orange glow, Morby is sensational from the get-go this evening, proving himself to be light years ahead of some of his folk peers with a stellar performance that wears influencers Dylan, Young and Reed on its sleeve.

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Sporting a cowboy bootlace tie and peering out from under shaggy, sweat-laced corkscrew locks, he opens with a wondrously hypnotic ‘Cut Me Down’, which casts the room into hushed silence and invites each attendee to hang off its every word. The other songs from this year’s glorious LP ‘Singing Saw’ follow suit: the souped-up ‘Destroyer’ sounds stupendous in the flesh, ‘I Have Been to the Mountain’ shuffles to a spiritual summit and the creeping album title track tantalises and thrills with its surreal storytelling and masterful musicianship.

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Best of all, however, is an unnamed new song that is played by Morby minus his magnificent supporting cast. With just a sparse slow-winding chord progression for backing, it features the poignant line “Pray for Paris, they cannot scare us or stop the music”, which hints that the more abstract and fantastical lyrical themes of much of his work to-date may be sidelined in favour of something more of this world and political. Whichever road he takes from here, the 28-year-old former Woods and The Babies man can count on tonight’s Brighton congregation to be there next time he rolls into town.

LIVE

In The Woods | Various | 02.09.16

September 5, 2016 — by Kulvin Kailey

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An eagerly-awaited return to the secret woodland location in Kent.

For the third time we find ourselves in a delightfully reclusive secret woodland location in Kent; the perfect setting to enjoy good, new music on the cusp of larger ambitions. Now in it’s 10th year, this festival has hosted a brag-worthy number of mentionable names, such as: Alt-J, Lianne La Havas, Jack Garratt, Ghostpoet, Kwabs and many more.

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Within its modest size, In The Woods had formed itself into a formidable platform to promote new music. Now in its tenth year, it seems the festival has met critical mass; it’s now at the point where a perfect thing could grow and evolve, or remain the humble, almost exclusive nurturing ground for new talent.

The opening night sees Benjamin Francis Leftwich take the stage with an intimate, sincere solo performance. This particular Friday night set has seen Lianne la Havas and Laura Marling in previous years – delightful singer songwriters that can hold a crowd with just a voice and guitar.

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Following that the Invisibles bring welcome tributes to Bowie and Prince in a nostalgic set containing the biggest numbers from both, which seemed the perfect way to open the festival for this punch of enthused musos. All tracks had the crowd singing and dancing, with featured guests including Sivu and more.

Matt Woods opens Saturday morning with a strong and powerful entrance, a very fitting start for the day’s events. His vibrato vocals are masterfully held – he manages to flitter around the tonal scale with impressive ease. Using his guitar and a loop pedal, he creates swooning layered harmonies that gave his tracks depth and power.

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Bruce O Yates then treats us with some welcome country-infused Americana. The kind of sound that could transport you to anywhere in the world at a moments notice.

Ilk followed on the Laurel Lounge stage with a baroque, worldly sound, somehow sitting somewhere between Alt-j and Everything Everything. Their tracks remain unpredictable and enthralling, certainly adding to the incredible diversity that this festival manages to consistently bring to the table.

Willie J Healy then brought a considerable amount of noise on the Quarry stage, somewhat more powerful and triumphant than his recorded sound. His bluesy, crunchy Americana transported us to the sun-kissed beaches of west coast USA in an instant. Like King Krule, his baritone singing voice throws holds some attitude and grit, albeit with a much more organic instrumental sound.

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Wovoka Gentle then graced the Quarry stage for a refreshing take on experimental folk. Their electro-acoustic sound is bought to the present with cooing synths and delightful harmonies. Between the three of them, they entertained multiple instruments, keeping the crowd on it’s toes throughout their worldly soundscapes.

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We headed back to the Laurel Lounge for another solo performer in the shape of Adam Betts. A very gifted percussionist, he drew the crowd with a vibrant performance that was both impressive and addictive, using his drum kit and synth pads to bring the force of a full band to the stage.

Following that, Strong Asian Mothers enthralled the Quarry stage with their Afro-infused, beat-heavy offering. Their sound has clearly evolved since their debut; altogether more honed and polished whilst still remaining unique.

Bringing a tantalising slice of techno-infused pop, Elderbook lit the Quarry stage and got the crowd into swing for the evening ahead. His music pulses like a heartbeat, working the crowd up into a frenzy as the day began to fall into night.

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Will Joseph Cook displayed an uplifting array of polished indie-pop, throwing summer vibes on a readily-excited crowd. Imagine a British Vampire Weekend with a bit of Feeder’s affection for making a noise. There definitely seems to be a revival of singer-led bands this year, with Cook, Bruce O Yates and Willie J Healy bringing singer-songwriting styles from the past to the future with a modern twist.

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Trim then brings a heavy dose of grime as the sun begins to set, leading the crowd into the night with an appetite for strong bass lines and attitude.

Again looking to decades past for influence, Bad Sounds bring an appetising dose of nostalgia, throwing nods to psychadelic rock of the past with punch and vigour. The band were animated and enthused, dancing around the stage with real affection for their music. The result was infectious, with most of the crowd shaking off the cobwebs to begin dancing.

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Back to the Laurel Lounge, we have Francobollo, a Swedish band making a return appearance at the festival since it was last held back in 2014. The band are unashamedly loud and brash, guiding listeners back to foggy Seattle during the grunge era.

Sevdaliza teased and seduced the crowd; a strong, confident femme fatale that wooed the crowd with heartfelt vocals and pulsing bass. The new,’edgier’ side of RnB that’s seen artists like Banks rise to fame.

Weaves‘ dose of punk-Americana pierced through the night with an admirable kick. Through the rain, it helped to uplift the mood and keep the crowd in good spirits. Their sound remains unpredictable and edgy, which gives them a likeable quality that’s it’s difficult to put a finger on.

With a ten-year festival under their belt, Laurel Collective appeared as the secret headline on the Laurel Lounge stage – a welcome tribute to their history as a band and the festival. The set was clearly an emotional one, as this festival has seen incredible growth over the last 10 years, and it’s all been held in the band’s backyard.

In The Woods - Hidden Herd

The final, secret headliner admirably came out as The Cribs. A solid British band with a strong history. This festival has grown and grown over the years, attracting new and established artists in the process. To sign off the tenth year, this was a fitting response, with the full festival crowd signing-off the festival with a bang.

This festival once again hosted some incredible new talent that’s likely to see great success in the coming years. A consistent melting pot of great new music, In The Woods became a must-see for industry and music fans alike. It would seem that this festival was on the cusp of bigger things; the site is perfect for the current crowd size, yet the festival still grows in popularity. We’ll have to wait and see whether the decision to scale goes ahead.