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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 3rd March 2015 at 6:00 pm
Bad Veins came out of Cincinnati native Benjamin Davis’ solo bedroom project, then becoming an engaging live act with fellow founding member Sebastien Schultz on drums. After high-profile support slots for big names like TGTF favourites Two Door Cinema Club and We Were Promised Jetpacks, in 2013 Schultz called it quits, with Jake Bonta replacing him on the skins.
‘The Mess We Made’ was Bad Veins’ 2013 album that includes Schultz’s drumming, and now in 2 weeks (just in time for SXSW 2015!), Bad Veins 2.0 will be releasing ‘The Mess Remade’, a rerecorded, remastered, redone rehash if you will of the album from 2 years ago. An addition to the new LP not previously available on the earlier album is a cover of the Muppets’ ‘Rainbow Connection’, which appropriately has a Davis-like muppet playing the guitar and singing to a dejected, bespectacled Bonta. Even Irene, Bad Veins’ stalwart reel-to-reel tape deck companion, is also lovingly brought to puppet life for this promo. Watch it below. Also included below is the redone cut of fan favourite ‘Kindness’.
To catch up on the first half of Martin’s review of Sunday at the 6 Music Festival 2015, click here.
An event should never be defined by its headliners – and for such a prestigious event, it could be argued that 6 Music weren’t too bothered about the halo effect of an international superstar topping the bill. Headlining the dark ‘n’ moody dance room (usually known as the Northern Rock Foundation Hall) was Daniel Avery, whose set provoked some discussion. Specifically, what do dance music producers actually *do* live? He presses the odd button, tweaks the odd knob, but mostly spends his time gyrating with his headphones over one ear. The plinth is arranged so we punters can’t see what equipment he’s got or what he’s doing, so one has to assume he’s booted up a MacBook Air and just pressed play. Musically, it’s inventive stuff, both danceable and listenable, but I’d like a bit more of a live performance.
One thing’s for sure, people really love The Charlatans. When I say people, I mean the middle-class-of-a-certain-age that occupy Hall One tonight. Surely nobody in 1990 would have predicted that they would become one of the country’s most durable and sought-after live acts. Perhaps it’s their dogged tenacity that people like; their sound hasn’t really developed beyond the baggy themes that they’ve purveyed for the past 25 years. Tim Burgess is becoming a bit of an icon, despite only a moderately interesting voice and his unusual hinting-at-transvesticism shock of blonde hair and oversized cardigan. Or maybe it’s the ever-present Hammond organ that’s the secret to their success. It’s difficult to argue that The Charlatans are as important a band and the Blurs, Suedes and Stone Roses of this world, but they could certainly teach their contemporaries a thing or two about persistence, and it’s paid off in their well-received headline show tonight.
A quick glance at The Maccabees is enough to know they’re not going to outdo The Charlatans in the indie-rock stakes, and so it falls to Teleman to be unlikely winner of the ‘Headliner of the Day’ award. Their subtle, Krautrock-influenced songs are tinged with wide-eyed innocence, not to say the ghost of Sparks, and they manage to end up in a brilliant crescendo courtesy of an extended version of ‘I’m Not in Control’. Teleman have a refreshing, shiny newness to them that neither The Charlatans’ greatest hits set nor The Maccabees’ laddish jollity can compete with. It is perhaps surprising that 6 Music went with such safe, established headliners (Teleman excepted, of course), as the absence of Jon Hopkins was sorely felt. (Get well soon!)
I’ve been somewhat critical of the Sage Gateshead in the past: for being too uptight, too high-brow, and too authoritarian to really enjoy a night out there. But tonight, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s ironic that the combination of two deeply establishment entities should actually give rise to an event as comparatively anarchic as tonight, but that is what happened. In the year of her 10th birthday, Sage let her hair down – and it was beautiful. The most obvious example of which is the never-before-seen removal of the seats in Hall One, which your faithful correspondent accurately predicted would happen in a Tweet to the Sage – they were naturally tight-lipped about it in advance, of course, but it shows how much clout the BBC had over how the evening was run, and the Sage management deserve a huge amount of credit for taking the leap of faith and going along with it.
Tonight proved what power for simultaneous multi-disciplinary performance Sage has until now kept hidden beneath her taffeta. I’m prepared to stand corrected, but tonight was the first time that pints were thrown and spliffs were smoked in the Sage. A small victory for people with souls. The door staff even seemed to let their hair down a little and go with the relaxed atmosphere. Not entirely though: I got told off for standing on a step. It’s ironic that it should be the BBC, one of the biggest, most tarnished, most confused bureaucracies that the world has ever seen (let’s not forget that in a uniquely misguided spasm of dithering the powers that be came very close to shutting down 6 Music itself) that should encourage Sage to effectively shed her staid overclothes and teach her how to have a good time. At the age of 10.
Or perhaps that’s the one thing that the BBC’s good at, I forget. At any rate, whether through an honest desire to bring good music and the spotlight of publicity to the regions, or alternatively a desperate attempt to inject some much-needed credibility and goodwill into an ailing institution, this was a brilliantly-conceived and superbly-executed weekend that only a churl would see as anything less than a roaring success. Where next? Nottingham, Glasgow, Bristol? They’re going to have to work hard to top Tyneside.
Performances from across the weekend can be found on the BBC iPlayer or via the red button on any digital TV. Massive thanks to Kate and the festival publicity team for sorting out out accreditation.
‘Shedding Skin’ is the title of a new LP released by Ghostpoet, the London-based vocalist and electro producer whose debut album ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’ was nominated for the 2011 Mercury Prize. His second studio attempt, 2013’s ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’, seemed to fall victim to the all-but-inevitable sophomore slump, but Ghostpoet has regained some lost momentum with this third album, perhaps as a result of shedding the heavy expectations set forth early in his career.
Throughout ‘Shedding Skin’, Ghostpoet (aka Obaro Ejimiwe) matches the smooth groove of the bass with his languid baritone, setting a mood that manages to be at once blissfully chill and delightfully sensual. The slightly warmer feel in comparison to the earlier albums is undoubtedly down to the instrumental arrangements in the recording, which for the first time in Ghostpoet’s studio repertoire include live musicians from his touring band (Joe Newman on guitar, John Calvert on bass and John Blease on drums). The self-produced album also features cameo vocal appearances from Nadine Shah, Etta Bond, Melanie De Biasio, Lucy Rose and Paul Smith of Maximo Park.
‘Shedding Skin’ is perhaps less brash than ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’ and less darkly morose than ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’, but it is more emotionally mature, both in its subject matter and its musical expression. One of the more extended tracks on the album ‘Be Right Back, Moving House’ contains several lyrical phrases that seem to get to the heart of what the album is all about, particularly the lines “my heart wants to be free / back flip and somersault / be careless of me / but life gets in the way / my past won’t let go of me / I’m frightened away”.
Opening track ‘Off Beat Dreams’ features Ghostpoet’s trippy beat poetry vocal delivery over stacked piano chords and a softly wailing guitar riff that develops into a fully-realised solo by the end of the track. Title track ‘Shedding Skin’ is more ominously bass-oriented, the foundational groove providing depth under the duet vocals in the chorus “you think you know me / you never know me / simmer down”.
In the grittier musical context of ‘That Ring Down the Drain Kind of Feeling’, the raspy female vocal intones the phrase “I’m back where I started / I’m back where I started again / left broken-hearted / but maybe my heart’s on the mend / then again…”, which leads into the quicker tempo and sharper-tongued lyrics of the next track ‘Sorry My Love, It’s You Not Me’. Ghostpoet ratchets up the raw sensuality near the end of the album in the alliterative ‘The Pleasure in Pleather’.
The soaring instrumental arrangement behind final track ‘Nothing in the Way’ leaves the listener with a serene sense of warmth and optimism, which perhaps best captures the underlying tone of ‘Shedding Skin’. Even in the album’s faster paced and more strident moments, the songs have an air of calm self-assurance that comes from experience, both personal and professional. Having shed the skin of early expectation, Ghostpoet has here evolved toward the full potential of his songwriting talent.
Ghostpoet‘s third LP ‘Shedding Skin’ is out now on PIAS. He will support the album release with an April tour of the UK and Ireland; find all those live dates here.
Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2015 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
Today’s installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2015 previews showcasing bands from Ireland and Northern Ireland. This year’s acts are predominantly rock-oriented, with a few notable exceptions, including a pair of exceptional singer/songwriters and representation in the festival’s dance and avant garde/experimental categories as well.
All Tvvins (rock) – Dublin-based Conor Adams and Lar Kaye premiered their debut single ‘Thank You’ on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show back on the 10th of February. If you missed it, you can hear the relentless energy of the guitar and bass riffs under paired lyrical couplets building slowly to the climactic final lines “I may hate you, I thank you” in this live video recorded for Press Record Asylum Sessions.
BP Fallon (rock) – BP Fallon released his first album ‘Still Legal’ in 2013 with backing band The Bandits. The album came after a lifelong career in the music business, including jobs as a disc jockey, photographer, writer, publicist and manager. Fallon has recently released a new LP ‘Live In Texas’, which includes the single ‘I’m Still Legal’, streaming below.
Buffalo Sunn (rock) – this quintet comprises Daniel Paxton, (songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist), his brother Conor (bass and pedal steel), Patrick McHugh (guitar and backing vocals), Jimmy Cullen (keyboards and backing vocals) and Donagh O’Brien (drums). The group describe themselves on their Facebook page as “a cosmic reverb rock band”. Their album ‘By The Ocean By The Sea’ was released in Ireland last October, with subsequent release in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In the surreal video for ‘By Your Side’, frontman Paxton confronts past, present and future versions of himself.
Dott (rock) – the Galway garage pop quartet have recently premiered the video for last year’s featured single ‘Small Pony’ (watch it below). According to their Facebook page, they are currently working on their next studio recording, which will include a track called ‘Beautiful Face’. Perhaps a preview of that song will be on their set list in Austin next month. TGTF coverage from Dott’s appearance at SXSW 2014 can be found here.
Fight Like Apes (pop) – this Dublin-based five-piece are best known for their quirky humour and verbose titles, for example, their last studio album ‘The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner’. SXSW organisers have filed them under “pop”, but I lean toward the heavier alt-rock label for their sound. Their Facebook page indicates they are planning to release details of an upcoming third album in the near future. In the meantime, have a listen to ‘Jenny Kelly’ below.
Girl Band (punk) – as far as I can tell, there isn’t a single girl in this band, but so much for truth in advertising. Comprised of Dara Kiely, Daniel Fox, Alan Duggan and Adam Faulkner, this Dublin-based four-piece signed to Rough Trade Records back in December. Melding a hint of blues with their progressive post-punk, Girl Band looks like an upgrade from last year’s heavily-hyped quartet The Strypes.
Go Wolf (pop) – Go Wolf will launch a new EP titled ‘Running’ just before their trip to Austin. The release launch will see the Belfast synth-pop quartet play a hometown show on the 6th of March, also featuring TGTF and SXSW alumnus Travis Is A Tourist. You can stream the uptempo title track from Go Wolf’s EP just below.
James Vincent McMorrow (singer/songwriter) – January 2014 saw the release of McMorrow’s album ‘Post Tropical’, which marked a very deliberate change in direction from his previous acoustic folk rock style. The video for the album’s smooth r&b-tinged single ‘Cavalier’ is the first in a three-part series about “the heartbreak of a boy in a small town”.
Le Galaxie (dance) – the self-described “grids vs. guitars” quartet have recently signed to Universal Music Ireland and plan to release their next album ‘Le Club’ in April. Recent single ‘Carmen’, streaming below, features vocals by MayKay of the aforementioned Fight Like Apes.
Meltybrains? (avant/experimental) – according to their Facebook page, “Meltybrains? are a 5-piece, experimental, electronic band, based in Dublin, Ireland. Their sound is quite at odds with much of what is on offer from the music scene, yet takes its inspiration from hip-hop, IDM, rock and contemporary classical music, among other things.” Have a listen to their recent single ‘IV’ and judge for yourself.
More Than Conquerors (rock) – TGTF recently featured the video for More Than Conquerors’ upcoming single ‘Red’ as a Video of the Moment. The single itself is due for release on the 2nd of March, just as More Than Conquerors begin a brief UK headline tour ahead of their SXSW appearance.
Orla Gartland (pop) – this Dublin-based pop songstress first gained attention by posting videos of cover songs on YouTube. Gartland is currently unsigned to a record label, but her second EP ‘Lonely People’ is available digitally on iTunes and Amazon. In a nod to her humble YouTube beginnings, Gartland solicited fan-submitted clips for the EP’s title track video, which you can watch just below.
Protex (punk) – inspired by The Clash’s historic visit to Belfast in 1977, punk band Protex was originally active in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, splitting up in 1981 after releasing singles on Good Vibrations, Rough Trade, and Polydor. Original members Aidan Murtagh and David McMaster reformed the band in 2010 after a New York record label unearthed and re-released some of their old Polydor recordings. Protex’s current line up comprises Murtagh (guitar/vocals), Norman Boyd (guitar/backing vocals), John Rossi (bass/backing vocals) and Gordie Walker (drums).
SOAK (singer/songwriter) – Derry native and skateboard enthusiast Bridie Monds-Watson has already been featured as part of editor Mary’s preview of the SXSW 2015 BBC Introducing and PRS for Music Foundation showcase. SOAK’s first EP ‘Blud’ was released last year on Goodbye Records, but she has recently signed to Rough Trade for her first LP release, scheduled for later this year.
Walking On Cars (rock) – the Dingle indie pop quintet signed to Virgin EMI Records last year for the release of their EP ‘Hand In Hand’. They have a busy spring schedule ahead of them, including headline dates in Ireland and the UK in March prior to their trip to America for SXSW. Following is the video for their recent single ‘Always Be With You’.
We here at TGTF will be bringing you even more preview coverage of SXSW 2015 in the coming weeks leading up to the big week in Austin in March. To catch up on any of our past reporting or if you want to keep an eye on our coverage as it continues, head this way.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 2nd March 2015 at 6:00 pm
When Duncan Wallis, frontman for Dutch Uncles, throws shapes in one of their music videos and indeed, during live performances, it often seems like he’s a man possessed, or even possibly being controlled by strings from above.
In the Marple band’s newest video for ‘Decided Knowledge’, Duncan is turned into a live action puppet, as he sings and frolics his way across the Welsh seaside town of Llandudno. What’s even more remarkable? The attention to detail to the puppet ‘Muncan’, with his eyebrows, earring and even dance moves eerily matching those of Wallis’ own. Watch it below.
The song appears on the band’s album released last week, ‘O Shudder’, now available on Memphis Industries. For past coverage of Dutch Uncles on TGTF, go here.
Sunday the 22nd of February saw the final event of the weekend-long extravaganza of music that was the 6 Music Festival 2015, held on Tyneside. The venue was the usually prim and proper Sage Gateshead, which had been entirely taken over by the BBC, and, as a consequence, saw rather a transformation… of which more later.
But first, to the music. British Sea Power were the opening act in the enormous Hall One, with what amounted to an amuse bouche of a set, a bare four songs long, showcasing their art-rock sound in a the magnificent space. Coincidentally, the festival had chosen as their aesthetic theme that of foliage and trees – the stage was flanked by two towering baobabs – that perfectly matched BSP’s usual ivy-entwined microphone stands. ‘Waving Flags’ was immense as usual, and the electric-guitar-’n’-violin-combo in instrumental ‘The Great Skua’ was a gently evocative way to ease into the mood of the evening. Whilst it’s difficult to argue that BSP are capable of evincing hot-blooded passion, they are as bleakly majestic as a grey North Sea swell, and a fine live proposition.
Steve Lamacq introduced Gaz Coombes as “one of the finest songwriters of his generation”, and it’s difficult to argue with him. Not that you’d want to argue with the lovely Steve Lamacq anyway, nor leave him next to an open doorway lest his impossibly slight figure should get blown away in the breeze. Anyway, Coombes did his best to demonstrate how accurate Lamacq’s description was. He’s assembled a great band, so Coombes can stick to electric piano and acoustic guitar, which frees him up to throw some shapes and generally concentrate on being a frontman. He chooses the big hitters from his solo catalogue: the syncopated melodrama of ‘Buffalo’s allows it to be an appropriately assertive opener; ‘One of These Days’, a classic mid-tempo Coombes ballad, has lost nothing of its sheen due to familiarity and still has the capacity to move.
With his expanded band comes an ability to experiment with electronic textures and dance-influenced drum patterns, perhaps aiming to take the mantle of band-frontman-to-solo-artist-with-electronica-pretensions from Thom Yorke, of whom we’ve heard little of late. Latest single ‘20/20’ is a perfect demonstration of the Coombes method: some synthy bits, a driving acoustic guitar riff, and a complex yet accessible arrangement blended together to sound classic and novel all at once. It goes without saying that there’s an enormous, funkily noisy crescendo at the end of the song to wrap up the set. A spectacular performance from a man who is just getting better with age.
Neneh Cherry has a tough act to follow and she, astonishingly, nearly steals the show. Assisted by an Animal-inspired drummer, and just one more chap on synths ‘n’ things, her minimalist backing is all the more powerful for its sparseness, leaving plenty of room for her menacingly soulful voice. Everything she plays is taken from last year’s ‘Blank Project’, a challenging yet rewarding work. ‘Spit Three Times’ touches on depression and superstition, ‘Dossier’ is deliberately swathed in pulsating white noise and ‘Weightless’ flirts with techno in its second movement, before dropping some synthesised power chords like an android Diamond Darrell. Soulful, funky, avant-garde, whilst not herself the definition of ‘new’, her music is as cutting-edge as anything the festival would hear over the weekend.
In my preview of the festival I cautioned that, because there had been so many tickets sold, the Sage would be so packed that lots of people would miss the performance they wanted to see. I was partially correct – Hall One did reach capacity at times, with a glum queue of punters waiting patiently for someone to leave the hall so they could take their place – but overall the place was busy but not overcrowded. The main reason for this was the clever ruse of putting a stage in the main concourse between the two halls, so anyone not in an official auditorium could still see a show. Which brings us to Public Service Broadcasting, who drew a huge crowd to the concourse to hear them unveil new material from sophomore album ‘The Race For Space’ (our editor’s review of the LP is here). Last time I saw PSB they were a two-piece – Wrigglesworth on drums and J. Willgoose Esq. on laptop, synth, banjo, and, well, everything else. Tonight they’ve expanded considerably, adding another two members on “everything else”, and even a three-piece horn section on a couple of songs.
PSB are a lot of fun, and considering tonight’s BBC sponsorship, a rather apposite act to have, in their celebration of the very fabric of news coverage, in their worship of the sounds that have conveyed, and in some cases, actually created, the news. And their expanded sound is surely exactly what fans of their debut ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ wanted to hear. The low-key house beats of ‘Gagarin’ tease us into the set; newest single ‘Go!’ is the executive summary of the whole album, complete with “The Eagle has landed” sample. Where the last record dealt largely with the British perspective of World War Two and the decade following, ‘The Race For Space’ is firmly set in 1960s’ USA and USSR. Whilst they’re at it, it might have been interesting to hear PSB take a peek behind the Iron Curtain and explore the motivations for the space race – the Cold War is only obliquely referenced – but perhaps they rightly conclude that nobody ever boogied to a Joseph McCarthy speech, and stick smartly to space noises. Another good piece of work from PSB then, even if the music itself is a mere backdrop to the original fragments of dialogue and film. And, to bring us back to the Sage’s concourse, the sheer spectacle of their live performance filled the hangar-like space defined by the Sage’s exoskeleton like very few others would be capable of.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Martin’s roundup of the Sunday festivities at the Sage Gateshead at the 6 Music Festival on Tyneside, which will post tomorrow.
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