For editor Mary's coverage of SXSW 2013, go here.
For TGTF team coverage of Liverpool Sound City 2013, go here.
For TGTF team coverage of the Great Escape 2013, go here.
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! ~TGTF HQ x
With no sense of pretence, no dramatic unveiling, New Desert Blues have snuck up on my psyche, with the immense track that is ‘Adam’. The five impeccably dressed lads who sounded raw, and ebbed with potential at The Great Escape at The Fishbowl have created something really special with their debut effort.
Refined, and delightfully genuine, New Desert Blues aren’t bursting with youthful exuberance as you’d expect from a group of five less-than-likely lads. They instead emanate a dastardly sense of cool: whether that is in lead singer James Cullen’s ability to pull of the most pretentious of turtlenecks in Brighton sunshine at this year’s Great Escape, is yet to be uncovered.
Parker’s vocals are delightful on ‘Adam’, with the five-part harmony that the band strike only accentuating the vocal prowess of the young man. The soaring vocals that build to a precipice on each chorus as Cullen laments the bittersweets vocals. Combined with the gently building guitars, ‘Adam’ is a single that has it all and deserves to be a soundtrack to summer 2013, especially with Mumford and Sons threatening to be that soundtrack. AGAIN.
It’s fresh, it’s new and I love it. Check it out in the video below.
‘Adam’, the forthcoming single from New Desert Blues, will be out on the 8th of July.
Over three decades in the reckoning, and to the delight of metal aficionados from New Mexico to Beijing, the eponymous genre defining metal band Black Sabbath are back with their original line-up of founding member Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi. The result of this reunion and their exposure to producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin (Foo Fighters, Slayer) is ‘13’, their mammoth comeback to the mainstream and a call to arms to metallers worldwide.
With Ozzy back on vocals after the tragic death of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi as the axe man, Geezer Butler providing the bass and Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk sitting in on drums, the sound on ‘13’ is suitably triumphant, with a sense of an impending apocalypse. The ominous commencement of the album ‘End of the Beginning’ is Sabbath at their doom filled best, with Ozzy’s trademark vocals cutting deep from the word go as he croons “Is this the end or the beginning/or the beginning of the end”. Rubin’s influence is apparent from square one, with the producer’s epic sounds resonating throughout the record, and epic seems to be what the aim was on this Sabbath record, with seven of the eleven songs on the record clocking in at over 5 minutes.
To enjoy this album though, you need to forget all pretence of any drama within the legendary metal band, and you certainly need to forget Ozzy’s ill-fated solo record and that dreadful duet with daughter Kelly. This record is about a shameless progression of what made the band a pillar of modern metal. Bring Me the Horizon have produced arguably the most progressive and defining metal record of the past 12 months, but in ‘13’, you have a re-emergence of old-school metal. ‘13’ is best epitomized by a line from the opening track, “rewind the future to the past”, and that is exactly what the band have done on ‘13’.
It’s not exactly back to basics, but Black Sabbath were never in any way basic, they were a progression of what was before them and now, they have set a marker to all bands in metal 2013. Sabbath are revered amongst bands and fans of the genre alike, and it would have been difficult for them to go wrong on this record, and that’s why it almost feels like a bit of a safe effort. Single ‘God is Dead’ is undeniably classic Sabbath, from the booming drums, to the trademark strumming of the Iron Man himself Iommi.
The record falls a bit flat with the staccato guitars that intersperse the mid-section of ‘13’. It feels a bit uncharacteristic of Sabbath, and also again feels very safe. But the album does show a lot of the character we have come to expect from a Sabbath record. It’s obvious why they are so well-regarded and are held in such esteem and their relevance is as poignant in 2013, as it was decades ago at the bands inception. ‘13’ delivers in that respect and seasoned fans will lap this record up; however, if this to be the start of Sabbath 2.0 then a more ambitious approach must be considered. For now though, having the original line-up back producing mammoth tunes like ‘Loner’ and ‘God is Dead’, is quite enough for this not so Iron Man.
‘13’, Black Sabbath’s long-awaited reunion album, is out now on Mercury.
The phrase the ‘Nicest Man in Rock’ is bandied around quite liberally these days; Dave Grohl seems to have held onto the title the longest, but I am here to petition you that this accolade, that all makers of mosh pine for (not actually true) belongs to another individual, a certain Andrew Groves (@AndrewRoots) of Arcane Roots. Now, Andrew is but one-third of the beast that are Arcane Roots, with Adam Burton (@RootsBurton) and Daryl Atkins (@gunsandwolves) completing the line-up on bass and drums respectively.
Upon meeting Andrew, I’m not met by a battle weary rock-diva at the end of a triumphant set at Concorde 2; I’m instead met by a personable gentleman in a faux-tweed jacket, impeccably groomed and reaching my way with a welcoming hand in the cold Brighton air. I’m led towards Andrew and the band’s secluded tour bus for a brief chat before the entire Roots posse go in search of some famous fish and chips on the seaside. It’s a welcome reward for a band that seem to have taken everyone with a shock, after the release of their debut record ‘Blood and Chemistry’ and as they begin to make inroads on the mainstream rock circuit a la Biffy Clyro et al. (But more on them later.)
So where did Arcane Roots come from, I ask Andrew as we sit nestled in the tour bus, next to the band’s copies of comic book films Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim?
“Well, it wasn’t a name that came out of anything particularly relevant, or serendipitous, instead it was quite a manufactured process. We first came up with Arcane because we thought it sounded like a good name for a band! Then we went through what we thought would sound good with Arcane, so Arcane this, Arcane that, something Arcane and so on until we landed on Roots and it just worked.”
After meeting a lot of bands and hearing of even more artists who have now grown to loathe their name that they foolishly branded themselves as they first picked up a Fender, perhaps this way of going about it is more organic. Mr. Grohl gave Foo Fighters their name after “Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over both the European and Pacific Theatre of Operations”. And the ‘Nicest Man in Rock’ has grown to loathe the name, saying it’s a stupid name for a band.
Now, with Arcane Roots still in their rock infancy in comparison to such a behemoth of the music world, it’s not a surprise that the band have no qualms with the title they gave themselves less than half a decade ago at the band’s inception.
With the three-piece garnering positive criticism from the Kerrang!s and the Rocksounds of this world, it seems that it is a name that the rock community should get used to hearing. Especially if you add to that that their new record ‘Blood and Chemistry’ is arguable one of the strongest and most consistently brilliant rock albums of 2013.
So how did the album come together? Andrew admits that it was a less than organic process again: “Going into the studio was incredibly stressful for the main part of it! It was our first album and we put a lot of time and thought, probably even too much time and thought into everything we do, so just trying to decide what we wanted to be as a band, as it had been 2 years since we had put something out and we’ve been playing it a lot and we are at kind of a gateway deciding what kind of band we wanted to be, so it was kind of the hardest part everything coming together with the label, so it was mega stressful, right up until the last minute.
“We spent a month rehearsing and it was the three of us, just rehearsing in a room, as that is what the band is. We just woke up and made a new song every day, and really enjoyed ourselves, as it is nice to wake up and just create something.
“Putting it together was a very mathematical process though, so I would kind of feel like, ooh I want a 2 and a half minute song here, and this song would be good as number three or four on the record, but in the end it tells a kind of story, which is what we were going for.”
The record as I mentioned has been receiving positive reviews all around the blogosphere, and for good reason. It’s clever, and as Andrew mentioned intelligently, put together as well. While it has more hooks than a fishing port on market day, and riffs sharper than the aforementioned hooks!
So they’ve got a massive record and Andrew is going to take a lot of beating to be surpassed as my ‘Nicest Man in Rock’, I mean take it from one of his contemporaries, Itch, formerly of The King Blues. When posed with the question what is the band like to tour with? His response: “They’re just so nice, almost too nice! Because it makes me look even worse, so in the nicest way you’re hoping that they fuck up a bit or do something really bad so we end up looking less like dicks.” So it seems that even while the ‘lads are on tour’ they still behave immaculately, professionally and make friends along the way. Even if said friends wouldn’t mind them trashing a hotel room, or something equally rockstarish.
I was lucky enough to catch the band twice in as many weeks at two festivals, Liverpool Sound City at Screenadelica and again at the Great Escape 2013 at Concorde 2. After the Great Escape show, Andrew admitted that festivals can be a mixed bag: “They’re more stressful than normal shows, they are pretty like frantic kind of get on and go and you have 2 minutes to check, so hopefully everything works out all right. No sound check, just get on, people are moving stuff everywhere and stressing out, so it’s always nice when you just get on and the sound engineers are pretty on it.
“It was nice to see a nice crowd had come out to see us, as we didn’t play Brighton on our most recent tour. So it was nice to see people singing along and rocking out! I like to see people enjoying it, and every time we play anywhere across the country, it’s nice to see even one person singing along, as it just makes you seem more at home and in a way amongst friends. It’s a more relaxing experience, at least.”
So after a triumphant set at Concorde 2, Arcane Roots set off, in search of their fish and chip supper and the further success that seems almost guaranteed for the band. I left with a sense that I’d met the heir to Grohl’s throne, perhaps not in a musical sense, but definitely in the niceness stakes, Mr. Groves is up there with the kings.
Nina Nesbitt‘s star is flying high these days, so what a coup that John got a chance to chat with the lovely lady in Brighton during the Great Escape, in a very VEVO-themed tent. “Nesbians”? And John challenges Nina to a very, very sour sweet challenge. Who comes out on top? Watch the video below to find out…
“Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Mr. Pane, the lanky Nigger with purple frames.” His words, not mine…
Most artists will rock up to The Great Escape by train or, if they’re a little higher up the musical food chain, in their tour bus, in whatever shape or size that may be. Mikill Pane rolls up to The Fishbowl by bike after cycling from the O2 Arena, which he joshingly told GQ he could sell out (http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/entertainment/articles/2013-05/30/mikill-pane-great-escape-video). Now, PR stunt or whatever, he’s saving the rainforest and I love a bit of green thinking, plus cycling is bloody cool. Mikill says, “it was just a stupid idea, I managed to go through with, and it was cool. It was a slog, yeah, parts of it were a real slog, but most of the time it was some really nice scenery, really good quality of tarmac compared to London!”
But what did I expect from a lad who penned a tune about being a ‘Dirty Rider’ around the streets of London. So I decided to ask the up-and-coming rapstar for his top three tips for cycling ‘in the big city’:
1. Don’t expect anyone to respect you as a cyclist, people WILL hate you. This isn’t Sweden or mainland Europe where they respect cyclists.
2. Avoid going between two busses… (Mikill has evidence on his leg).
3. Watch out for potholes, they can properly do you in.
Mikill also does a charming song about throwing a house party at University. “I studied at UCL, but I almost walked out four times while I was there, as it just wasn’t for me. But with education, my Dad put the fear of God into me, and he loves anything to do with educational institutions, and that’s why he sent me to London Oratory, even though they couldn’t afford it. Because he loved education so much, I think that is why it made me hate it.”
So to keep with the theme of top tips, we asked for his guide to throwing the best, hippening and most happening party on campus. Sadly though, we may have to take his advice with a pinch of salt, as Mr. Pane has only ever thrown one party, “we played spin the bottle and it was allright, but nothing crazy.”
1. Don’t invite Michael Barrymore.
2. If you think you have a decent concept of fun, throw a party. If not, DON’T AT ALL COSTS.
3. Be willing to let half of the people into your house be people you don’t actually know.
So there we have it, Mikill’s guide to traversing London by bike and his tips to how to throw the best party you can as a student.
But let’s talk music then, that’s why we’re here, right? Mikill has some friends in high places, very high in the music business. Movers and shakers like a certain Ed Sheeran who was the hottest thing going at The Great Escape 2011, and Rizzle Kicks who Mr. Pane toured with. Mikill insists, though, that with regards to collaborations with artists like these, it isn’t a manufactured process. Instead, it is quite the opposite, something that incidentally just happens…
“I always get to know the person with regards to collaborations, I don’t even think about music most of the time when I am getting into it. It’s normally just hanging out, like, ‘I know you do music, you’re a cool person, I wouldn’t mind spending some time in the studio together’, do you know what I mean? It becomes work if you just keep hand-picking people that you don’t know to collaborate with. Even if you do something like that you should *at least* try to hang out with the person for a week, to get what they are about.
“If you know what makes a person tick as a person rather than an artist, you get to know them and understand them a lot better.”
Have a listen to his track with Ed Sheeran and you may see what I mean, it’s not just samples, it’s a deeply touching and at the same time disturbing tune, which could only come from Mikill’s deep understanding of what makes the ginger-haired strummer tick.
Mikill though comes across as a deeply thoughtful man, and for someone who says he felt alienated from education, it’s obvious that he is a deeply intelligent and pensive thinker. His puns are sharp and his lyrics strike an accord with the demographic that his music is aimed at, so I see no reason for him not to do well? You could say I have a ‘Good Feeling’, yeah, I punned…
Many thanks to Kat for sorting this interview for us, and of course, Mikill Pane for his time chatting to John at the Great Escape; surely he must have been exhausted from all that cycling???
After two days of revelry and debauchery on the streets of Brighton, TGTF heads were heavy and the party decided that a debrief in Giraffe, a chain restaurant serving quite frankly the best breakfasts on the South coast, was appropriate to clear the haze from the past 2 days, and augur the body for the day ahead.
After the demons of the past two days were expelled, not literally I may add, I dragged myself to meet the extremely personable Itch, ex-frontman of The King Blues and generally lovely chap. You can watch the interview here. After a nice chat in his tour manager’s garden, I ventured to the Blog Up, where the impressive Embers were attracting a capacity crowd in the tightly woven confines of The Mesmerist. The sound in the venue made for a deafening spectacle, which wasn’t help by us at TGTF setting up camp right next to the main monitors. With earplugs donned, it was easy to see the attraction of Embers.
They’re young, good looking and have an archetypal tall, dark and handsome lad on lead guitar and vocals in the form of George Agan. Their sound is extremely big live though, there’s a splash of prog, with comparisons to Muse overarching throughout the set, but it’s all kept grounded by the fact they have a cutesy female violin player. It all is a bit more authentic for that fact at least. (7/10)
After a few drinks in Brighton’s most reputable watering holes with some of my compadres from my former life in Guernsey, it was back off on the long journey to Concorde 2 to catch one of my favourite bands Tall Ships. They’re a group who go about progressive rock in the right way, that being their own way. They’re not smashing dubstep into the equation and shoehorning in electro wherever they can, they’re making exciting guitar music on time signatures that excites me in ways that aren’t suitable for even here.
‘Phosphorescence’ sounds pristine, as if it’s been ripped straight from ‘Everything Touching’, their fantastic debut record. Whilst ‘T=0′ is the ultimate set closer, forget ‘Knights of Cydonia’, scratch all of that, and wow, it absolutely went off. The disappointment was that it seemed to only be certain sections of the crowd enjoying the expertly crafted riffage, perhaps they were all too worn out from Hacktivist’s drivel the night before. However, at least in certain small sections of the crowd it was obvious there was a deep appreciation of the musical chemistry going on in front of them, aloft on stage. (9/10)
My trudge back towards the pier is at least cheerier for the fact that I was to be reunited with editor Mary, and that I would shortly be watching one of my guiltiest pleasures The 1975. However, whilst I was on the guestlist, and 10 minutes before the band were scheduled to venture on stage, I was rebuffed by the bouncers on the door. Instead of fleetingly and pointlessly arguing my case to the two gentlemen, who were, I quote, “taking none of my shit”, I hopped step and legged it to The Dome to sneak into the capacity Bastille show. What I was to be met with was unbeknownst to me…
Think of the audience to your classic, McFly or The Wanted show; sprinkle a sparing dressing of awkward looking v-necked boyfriends, and voilà, you have the cornucopia of underaged girls amassed to pay tribute to their new favourite band Bastille. Bastille have literally everything going for them at the moment; frontman Dan has hair that does that flicky thing, I mean, do I even need to continue? Yeah, all right then. The tunes are horrendously catchy and are accessible to all, Radio 1 friendly and firmly embedded on the A-list. The throngs of screaming girls just add to the blurred hysteria around the band, who can seemingly do no wrong in 2013.
Their debut album ‘Bad Blood’ is there with Mumford and Sons‘ ‘Sigh No More’ just for its mass appeal alone. Hence why The Dome was at capacity when I squeezed my way through. Note: I’m 6’ 5″ and look like a potato, so for any poor girl whose view I blocked with my massive form, I apologise, but it was for the good of music…
The almost fanatical following that the band have developed led me to believe that the performance was going to be one of pure showmanship, energy and enthusiasm. Instead, Bastille slogged their way through a set that looked like it was almost a trial to them. They looked like they’d just fought of millions of Persians at the Hot Gates, and Spartans they are not, with their weariness etched clearly on their visages. Every note, from the album tracks, to set closer ‘Flaws’ was sung, well, flawlessly. Dan even did a little circumnavigation of the crowd during the encore. But overall the set seemed lacklustre. Perhaps the band have been on tour for too long, or it was an off night, but either way, it was a set to forget by these up and coming less-than likely lads. (5/10)
To close the festival for me, it was a trip to the seaside. To the stage where my first romance with The Great Escape began, Coalition, to watch for the second time of the weekend, Mikill Pane. My opinion was that he would be more suited to the late night slot, in a larger venue. This wasn’t the case though, as technical problems and an overawing backing band distracted attention from the fantastic London rapper’s lyrical prowess.
Mikill wasn’t being a diva, far from it, as the microphone was cutting in and out throughout the short set. But his reaction somewhat detracted from the excitement of what was geared up to be a livewire set, but sadly ended up being quite flat and repetitive. (6/10)
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