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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 30th November 2015 at 11:00 am
I was introduced to Winchester / Paris singer/songwriter Josh Savage at a Sofar Sounds Manchester show in April 2014. I was totally wowed by his performance and I still stand by my then pronouncement that he’ll be the next Ben Howard. I’m really pleased that this Monday after Thanksgiving, we are able to give you a TGTF exclusive first album stream of his upcoming new EP ‘Quatre Épines’, which will be self-released next Monday, the 7th of December. This will be Josh Savage’s third self-released extended player, and to celebrate the release, he’ll be having his biggest hometown show at Winchester Guildhall on the same day.
But you might be wondering what effect his Paris upbringing might have on the new EP, yes? For those of you who are new to Josh’s music, some really interesting – and important – facts about him are that he is bilingual and sometimes writes and sings in French, and ‘Le Petit Prince’ was his favorite book when growing up in France, and the book served as the main inspiration for this new release. This new collection of four songs brilliantly emphasises his unique talent in writing beautiful songs in French, taking full advantage of what is arguably the most romantic language in the world and creating some truly rich-sounding, gorgeous tracks perfect to have in your ears this holiday season. Have a listen to the full EP below exclusively here on TGTF below, and if you like what you hear, you can preorder the EP from his Bandcamp.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 30th November 2015 at 8:00 am
My mind has kind of exploded with the thought that we’re just about to go into December, and we’re already talking about festivals next summer. Time flies when you’re having fun, eh? But it also means you can gift your loved ones this Christmas with festival tickets. Holiday presents sorted!
Liverpool Sound City tried a new, pop-up stage format on Bramley-Moore Dock in 2015. They’re gearing up for another huge event in the same location on the second May Bank Holiday weekend next year, 28-29 May 2016. They have announced their first headliner for 2016, along with their first wave of acts, ahead of what has been promised as over 100 more to be announced in the new year.
While the festival has now been reduced from 3 days of bands to 2, their choice of headliner suggests they will be waving the flag of the North next year and for years to come. Merseyside psychedelic stalwarts The Coral (pictured at top) have been selected to close out the festival on Sunday night. This headline slot is perfect timing, as the band from Holyake will be releasing new album ‘Distance In-Between’, their eighth album and following a 5-year band hiatus, on the 4th of March 2016 on Ignition Records.
Another local Liverpudlian band to grace the Sound City stage will be up-and-comers Circa Waves, who cut their teeth this year at a plethora of international festivals. Other acts already announced for Sound City 2016 include 2014 Mercury Prize winners from Scotland Young Fathers, Nottingham post-punk and social consciousness duo Sleaford Mods, American rockers The Dandy Warhols and blistering hard rockers from Southampton Band of Skulls.
Tickets for Liverpool Sound City 2016 are on sale now and can be purchased from the official Sound City Web site.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 25th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
I always feel a sense of loss when the months and years pass and I’ve heard nothing about a beloved band. Northern Irish psych band Cashier No. 9, who I met in London in 2011 the week of my birthday, fell into in this category. The last peep out of Danny Todd and his band was this free download and cover of Harry Nilsson’s ‘Moonbeam Song’, which, to be honest, left me disappointed, as it wasn’t an original song. The question in my mind was, were Cashier No. 9 finished?
While the group from Belfast appear to have disbanded permanently, the band members still standing – Todd and James Smith – have returned in a new guise, exmagician, and a debut EP. There is still that sense of whimsy that was evident in Cashier No. 9’s sound, as well as sufficiently reined in reverb and catchy melodies. Second track ‘Place Your Bets’ shows the most similarity to my favourites of 2011’s ‘To the Death of Fun’. On it, effects have been placed on Todd’s vocals, making him sound like he’s underwater, while the melody and guitars swirl and plenty of trippy oohs have been placed strategically throughout. The instrumental outro shines bright, as a trumpeter’s talents rises above the psychedelic organ.
The trumpet makes another welcome appearance on the end of EP title track ‘Kiss That Wealth Goodbye’, giving it an almost big band quality. It’s an interesting turn of events, as the tune begins and continues on a minor key progression delivered by a purposely indistinguishable marriage of scuzzy guitar and synth, one that would suggest darkness is up ahead. “Light up my face, straighten my tie / jump off the page, see your hope whizzing by / but they all like feeling alive / they all just let go of high hopes and kiss it goodbye”: Hello, is that a dig at fellow (but Southern and hugely popular) Irish band Kodaline? This also isn’t the first time Todd has pointed out musicians don’t make much money: see ‘Goldstar’. Of this new EP and direction, Todd says, “it’s the dirt under the fingernails.”
After the first two tracks showing off in your face swagger, the second half of the EP feels sleepy. ‘Smile to the Gallery’, while it shows similar psychedelic leanings, has a dreamy edge and minimal lyrics. The guitar work at the start before the words kick in are beautiful, evocative. The EP closes with ‘Tear On Let Off Some Steam’; it confused me, as it seems to have moved the duo backward in time back to the ’60s, being nowhere as inventive as the first two tracks. Make no mistake, the results sound good, but after such a promising first half, listening the second half is like listening to a completely different band. Which fork in the road will they take for the inevitable (hopefully, anyway) debut album? Let’s hope the former.
‘Kiss That Wealth Goodbye’, the debut EP from ex-Cashier No. 9 band members Danny Todd and James Smith as new artist exmagician, is out now on Bella Union.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
Words by Rebecca Clayton
‘Making Time’ is Jamie Woon’s second album and comes over 4 years after his debut ‘Mirrorwriting’, which was released back in 2011 to mixed reviews. So far just one single has been released from the new album, the catchy ‘Sharpness’ (Mary’s previous In the Post feature on the song here), which embodies the less is more spirit that echoes throughout the rest of the album. The singer/songwriter from London has managed to produce something difficult to place: one minute were hearing the scratchy drawl of Willy Mason on a brass-accented acoustic track, the next you’re bopping along to some smooth soul vibes and echoes of old-school r&b.
It’s mellower than his previous stuff: you won’t hear much of the electronica influence that is present on earlier songs ‘Night Air’, ‘Lady Luck’, or ‘Shoulda’. Perhaps some fans will find this disappointing, but this still feels like a step forwards: holding on to the trip hop/soul infusion of previous stuff but bringing something different and fresh to the table. That’s why this album has the air of evolution about it, drawing on much of what was great about Woon’s earlier work but smoothing out the edges a little bit. There are certain adjectives that you can’t help but use when describing the album: soulful, smooth, mellow, chilled. It’s easy listening.
But, that’s not to be confused with unexciting or dull. The opening track ‘Message’, for example, is stirring, the gentle build of the song’s opening with Woon’s vocals effortlessly fusing into the song alongside the minimalistic piano notes. ‘Skin’ also has a mesmerising opening to the track. The use of autotune brings a surprising depth to the song, paired well with the soulful oohs that reverberate throughout, like a lullaby.
Woon’s strong yet sultry vocals are predominate and hold centre stage throughout the album, complemented by the soulful undertones. The instruments are controlled and often times subtle, used to complement Woon’s voice rather than mask it. The lyrics really are quite lovely. From the opening lines of ‘Skin’ (“skin with its open agenda / rise to the top for some air”) to “light into darkness / cut on the sharpness of you” on ‘Sharpness’ (Woon’s most played song on Spotify), the lyrics have a physical feel to them, evoking nature and human connection.
It’s easy to hear echoes of Frank Ocean throughout Jamie Woon’s album, in particular the opening track ‘Message’, with Woon’s smooth voice lapping alongside the soulful music like murmuring waves. The whole album, at various times, is wonderfully reminiscent of ’90s r&b, I’m particularly thinking of R Kelly’s warbling vocals and the stripped back use of instruments in much of his music. Woon’s vocal ability lends well to the tracks. Some songs, such as ‘Celebration’ and ‘Sharpness’, are standouts. ‘Celebration’ is distinctly different to the rest of the album: it was a nice surprise to hear Willy Mason’s gravely tones on this track, paired with the bursts of brass, the jangly acoustic notes and the soft tempo of the drums marching along. On the previously mentioned ‘Sharpness’, at times throughout the song it’s easy to hear Daft Punk, Frank Ocean and Jamiroquai, and perhaps that’s why I like it so much. It sounds so familiar, while still being different, and won me round straight away.
Admittedly, a couple of songs, like ‘Lament’ and ‘Forgiven’ are pleasant enough to hear, but don’t really leave a distinct impression. But, as an overall collection, it really does work. It’s well crafted. This is an archetypal chill-out album, great for a lazy afternoon at home or to be left purring away in the background at work. The lyrics are beautiful, the melodies soulful and classic. On a couple of the tracks there’s a little something left to be desired, but, having said that, I love it, and have been playing my favourite songs non-stop. If it didn’t get me there on the first listen, but it really did on the second.
Jamie Woon’s ‘Making Time’ is out now on PMR Records; Woon will be on tour in the UK in March 2016. For all past coverage on Jamie Woon on TGTF, head here.
We here at TGTF first covered the elusive London quartet Arthur Beatrice ahead of their trip to America for SXSW 2014. Following a full review of their debut album ‘Working Out’ in February of that year, I attended their SXSW gig at the Harvest Records showcase, where I was more impressed with their live performance than I had been with their studio recording. I had expected that Arthur Beatrice’s cool, consciously artistic vibe would make a greater impact given the buzz surrounding them at the time, but since our Martin made quick mention of their subesquent Live at Leeds 2014 appearance…radio silence.
We haven’t heard so much as a peep from the group, who in any case were never the most attention-seeking of bands, in nearly 2 years. But out of the blue last week, they re-emerged onto the music scene with a very aptly titled new single ‘Who Returned’. The new song features a high-profile collaboration with the London Contemporary Orchestra, who have worked in the past with such artists as Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and recent Grammy winner Beck. The minimalist video for ‘Who Returned’ was designed and co-directed by the band, in another collaboration with boutique video production company LiveFi.
‘Who Returned’ is characteristically subtle and sophisticated, and its video is suitably composed, with a stark, minimalist design focused on the band members and the musical elements of the song itself. The song starts off feeling distant and restrained, as lead singer Ella Girardot’s dance movements visually hold the viewer at arms’ length. Musically, it then builds through the lingering anticipation of the bridge to an outburst of passion, which is expressed both through the manifestation of anguish in Girardot’s movements and the heightened dynamic created by the addition of the orchestra under the repeated vocal lines “you can never be whole if you’ve never been broken / find no strength in myself, all I have is this emotion.”
Arthur Beatrice’s new single ‘Who Returned’ is available now via Open Assembly/Polydor. In addition to the new release, the band have also announced one live date for next year, a performance with the London Contemporary Orchestra Soloists on the 18th of February 2016, at the London Institute of Contemporary Arts.
There are very few mysteries still left within the music industry. It’s a place where most things are to be given and digested by the audience very easily, which of course leads to sales, which in turn leads to money. They love money. More recently however there has been an artist causing quite the stir in the dance music scene, and his name is Brolin.
An unknown face to an unforgettable beat and emotive lyrics, you very well may have not heard of Brolin, since he is a man of very few words or performances. His career path, since 2012, never really took into account the need for hype or publicity. Rather, he chose to construct things up in his own time, pacing himself between releases. Even garnering plays from Radio 1, this still didn’t push his aspirations past his own personal goals. He crafts delicately pieced together tracks that feature sweeping percussion and strings, entwining perfectly to create a soundscape perfectly suited to late city nights.
Opening his debut album ‘The Delta’ with one of the singles he teased us with last year, ‘Nightswimming’ is a beautiful breakbeat surrounded by airy synths a la M83, companioned with his soft, carefully cadenced voice. This is everything you’d expect from this dance music Zorro and is the perfect introduction.
With second track and single ‘Swim Deep’ (emotional video above), things get a little more on the lighter side of things, especially for Brolin. Utilising a pre-chorus that builds to an almost traditional break before dropping with a chorus that travels lightly and dances around with an err of caution. Moving swiftly into his third and most recent release, ‘Kingston’, we get a look into the mind of Brolin better than ever. It’s almost a warning label for what we should expect from him, with a constant verse repetition of “if the eyes are the windows to the soul, you might see I like control”, you get an idea for the kind of mysterious figure we’re dealing with. Someone who knows what they want, how they want to do it and doesn’t care about orthodoxy.
Brolin certainly has a penchant for writing tracks that somehow appear reserved but at the same time have such grandeur about them, almost like a shy socialite. Repetition is a major feature in most of his tracks, which for dance music is fine, but this album to be able to cross over into the mainstream it might hinder his process. Of course, if we’ve learnt anything so far, it’s that he doesn’t care.
Four of the tracks on this album are named after large cities (‘NYC’, ‘Barcelona’, ‘Koln’ (Cologne) and ‘Reykjavik’), which as I previously mentioned is completely apt considering that is all the imagery this album conjures. That is, of late nights in large cities, soundtracked by a marriage of emotion and musical brilliance. Each song builds its own landscape, high-rises of crescendos and falsettos, bustling streets of beats and string sections.
2016 could very well be the year Brolin becomes a name everyone is familiar with, now with a debut release under his belt and the previous accolades, the only thing holding him back will be his ideology, which is fresh in an industry full of the easy and predictable. Maybe being his own downfall will be his biggest asset? Let’s wait and see.
Brolin’s debut album ‘The Delta’ is out now on Megastomo.
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