By Mary Chang
on Monday, 20th April 2015 at 4:00 pm
Legendary Mancunian band James have released a new performance video of their second single ‘Curse Curse’ from current album ‘La Petit Mort’, released in 2014. The band describe it being done semi-acoustically – that is, there is a laptop and the guitar looked amped up…oh wait… – but it’s part of their Living Room Sessions, which adds that intimate feel you certainly won’t get seeing James in a far bigger venue. Watch it below.
For those that prefer to spend their evenings running into each other at full speed, this Wednesday the Academy in Newcastle upon Tyne obliged by hosting, a trio of acts purveying the heavier side of rock, perfect for moshing to. Telford’s Hyena were up first, a quartet of young chaps promoting their recent release ‘Mental Home’, which conjures up all sorts of pleasant memories of discovering the delights of Queens of the Stone age. They’ve also put a nice waltz in the middle. Well worth checking out.
TGTF was ostensibly here to have a listen to heavy rock duo Dolomite Minor, who first came to my attention as doing the rounds of all the big urban music festivals last year, but who I failed to see at any point on their travels. Tonight’s performance sees them a little, shall we say, under-motivated, duck-toed singer and guitarist Joe Grimshaw wanly peering out between curtains whilst spidery fingers pluck away on his guitar. Their live presentation does them no favours, really: on record they sound enormous, chromatic riffing and robotic vocals combining with a massive drum sound to great effect. But, like seeing the workings of a magic trick, watching the two young chaps of Dolomite Minor deliver their music dilutes its power somewhat. There’s little in the way of movement or audience interaction – at one point, after asking how everyone’s doing and getting only a few half-hearted whoops in reply, Grimshaw’s retort is “same as last night,” which seems unnecessarily churlish.
Presentational challenges aside, Dolomite Minor do have some good tunes, particularly if you’re a fan of the flattened fifth: in ‘Talk Like An Aztec’, guitars in various states of distress revolve around said interval, ‘Let Me Go’ takes a ’50s rock ‘n’ roll swagger and adds the requisite crunching riffs underneath a slap-backed vocal, and ‘When I’m Dead’ adds more than a hint of psych-drone which is an interesting direction that the group could explore further. The band do thaw out a bit towards the end of the set, so that ‘Watch Yourself’ ends up a thrilling multi-movement romp with a fine climax. If these guys could loosen up a bit, look like they’re enjoying themselves, and get the crowd going a bit more, they could be a big draw.
Loosening up is something that Turbowolf are experts at. Frontman Chris Georgiadis (the word “singer” simply doesn’t do justice to his talents) is expert at getting the crowd onside right from the moment he steps onstage to whoops of delight. “Onside” is the right word because he spends plenty of time on the wrong side of the barriers, interacting with the mosh pit, inviting lucky punters to sing into the microphone: most people know the songs word-for-word, if not note-for-note, and they’re not afraid to show it.
Musically, Turbowolf are all about big, swinging riffs, twisted lead parts and Georgiadis’ turned-up-to-11 vocals, often played at breakneck speed. The crowd are exhorted to mosh and do that weird, pulsating, crash-into-each-other dance that brings so much pleasure to young men. A memorable, often surreal performance, which would work fantastically well on a festival stage – Turbowolf are to be found at The Great Escape, 2000 Trees, and Kendal Calling over the summer.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 16th April 2015 at 4:00 pm
I get this incredibly happy feeling when I see a UK band I’ve been following for a long time finally get the attention they deserve on this side of the pond. London-based Life in Film have been soldiering on for the last few years, having caught the eye of those fashion hounds at Burberry as early as 2010, leading me to write this Bands to Watch on them the following year. Well, ladies and gents, I am here to tell you graft does pay off, as Life in Film are now gearing up for the release of their Stephen Street-produced debut album ‘Here It Comes’ the 4th of May on ECC Records (the American release follows on the 5th on +1 Records). Now everyone – I’m telling you everyone, from Consequence of Sound to Teen Vogue, from Nylon to Pigeons and Planes – want to talk to them, and I just want to say…well, I was tipping this band way before all of you!
Ahead of the album’s release, Germany-based Berlin Sessions had the foresight to videotape the band playing these stripped back acoustic versions of ‘Get Better’, ‘Alleyway’ and ‘The Idiot’, which all appear on ‘Here It Comes’. If you happen to live in North America, you can catch them as the main support for Liverpool’s Wombats on their tour of our continent starting next Tuesday in Toronto. I’d recommend you catch them now while you still can. Catch all our past coverage on Life in Film here.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 15th April 2015 at 4:00 pm
If you’re looking for something fantastic to get you over the midweek slump, we’ve got you covered. American band Eels just released yesterday a special 2-disc CD, 3-cisc clear purple vinyl and a DVD, the band’s third, ‘Live at Royal Albert Hall’. You can watch the whole gig below as filmed on the 30th of June 2014, courtesy of our friends at Baeblemusic. To watch the whole presentation in its full-sized glory, watch it at Baeblemusic’s Web site.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 10th April 2015 at 4:00 pm
Josh Savage was a late addition to the line-up for SXSW 2015, and judging from this video he made himself using a GoPro camera, the Winchester/Paris singer/songwriter had a great reception in Austin. In this video, it’s like you’re in the room with him and his new fans while performing the lovely ‘Lost in Paris’. Watch it below.
Our past coverage on Josh Savage, including Carrie’s interview with him at the Driskill Hotel in Austin last month, is here.
My final day at SXSW 2015 was truly a mixed bag of shows as I tried to squeeze in every last opportunity before my long drive back home the next day. In the course of the day, I stumbled upon a few exciting new artists before rounding off the festival back at the British Music Embassy.
I started with a planned visit to the free showcase at Waterloo Records, which featured English electro-dance group Clean Bandit. In spite of the uncooperative weather, punters donned ponchos and popped up umbrellas in the courtyard to catch the danceable grooves of recent single ‘Stronger’ before lining up inside for the band’s CD signing session. Fellow English vocalist Jess Glynne made her anticipated cameo appearance near the end of the set for Clean Bandit’s previous single ‘Real Love’ and breakout hit ‘Rather Be’.
After a stop inside the record store for some souvenir shopping, I headed downtown to meet up with Mary, who was in the middle of a busy Saturday schedule of her own. She suggested that I stop in at B.D. Riley’s to catch Aussie blues singer/songwriter Hamish Anderson.
I was warmly greeted by the staff at the door of B.D. Riley’s, where I had spent most of the previous day at the full Irish breakfast. On Saturday I was surrounded by Australian accents rather than lilting Irish ones, as the Sound Gallery showcase hosted by Sounds Australia took over the venue. Anderson clearly had more than a few fans in attendance, and I had to squeeze around fellow punters to get a good view of his guitar chops on the small stage at B.D. Riley’s. Anderson’s opened with a cover of Them Two’s ‘Am I a Good Man’ before he turned the focus to his new ‘Restless’ EP, starting with the aptly titled ‘Burn’ and ending with another scorcher, ‘Howl’. Anderson’s heavily blues influenced guitar style was matched only by his heavily blues influenced keyboard player.
Finding myself at a bit of a loose end after Anderson’s set, I checked my Twitter feed to find an online acquaintance urging me to catch local Austin band O Conqueror’s final SXSW 2015 set, at a venue called The Tiniest Bar in Texas. It was a bit of a walk, especially given the continuing rain, but I decided to take a chance. As it turned out, the bar itself might actually be the tiniest one in the state, and I almost walked past it before I realized that the showcase was just outside in the awning-covered courtyard area.
I arrived early enough to grab a bite to eat from one of the food trucks in the courtyard, and while I was noshing, I used Twitter to arrange a quick meet up with O Conqueror’s keyboard player Alex Hartley before the start of their set. Alex and I shared a laugh when he mentioned that O Conqueror had been confused several times with Northern Irish band More Than Conquerors, whom I had covered earlier in the week. O Conqueror’s set included edgy recent single ‘Lost Your Mind’ whose video was filmed, appropriately enough, in downtown Austin. Their engaging stage presence, led by frontman Dustin Doering, and melodious guitar-driven rock have clearly already won the hearts of Austin locals, and they gained at least one new fan at SXSW 2015 as well.
Feeling quite satisfied with my new musical discovery, I headed back to Latitude 30 to hear the final evening showcase of the year at the British Music Embassy. The first featured band was Scottish duo Honeyblood, who have had a change in lineup since I saw them last at SXSW 2014. New drummer Cat Myers appeared not only at ease with the situation, but well and truly in control of it, showing off her chops at the drum kit on more than one occasion. Singer Stina Tweeddale appeared equally confident, singing with greater intensity and conviction on last year’s hit ‘Bud’, which features on Honeyblood’s self-titled debut album from last summer.
As the side project of Mazes’ Jack Cooper and Veronica Falls’ James Hoare, London guitar duo Ultimate Painting are another in a long string of artists playing the rock ‘n’ roll version of musical chairs. Their hazy psych rock left a vague impression on me, but the impression was deliberately indistinct and broadly atmospheric rather than sharply focused on specific guitar melodies or vocal lines. Their songs might not have been not my cup of tea, but they surely a represent a notable stylistic expansion for both band members.
Spanish sensations Hinds, formerly known as Deers, were next on the lineup, but they were plagued by sound issues and ultimately had to cut their set short, much to the disappointment of the fans who had crowded in to see them. (Our own editor Mary was unfortunately among those stuck in the lengthy queue outside Latitude 30, but she had managed to see this band Wednesday at the daytime Sounds From Spain showcase.) Despite the difficulties, Hinds were engaging and energetic on stage, smiling bravely as they played through a handful of songs. Their uneven rhythms and stark tempo changes would likely have worked better had it not been for the sound problems, but in context it was difficult to tell when their stops and starts were deliberate. Nevertheless, there was a group of determined Hinds fans at the front of the stage who danced, cheered and sang along as best they could.
Among Hinds’ fans in the audience was Carl Barat, who had appeared in Austin with his new band the Jackals. From my vantage point at the front of the stage, I turned around to see if Mary had gotten inside and instead found Barat standing just over my right shoulder. In the intermission after Hinds’ set, I introduced myself to the former Libertine, saying that I’d gotten some photos of him earlier in the week. He pulled a genuinely shocked expression and asked, “on stage, though, right?” I laughed and assured him that they were stage photos from Wednesday’s FLOODfest and not paparazzi-style snaps. Hearing this news, he gave me a hug and a kiss and thanked me for being there to promote the band. I slipped a TGTF card and badge into his black leather jacket pocket and set my sights back on the stage.
Another psych-rock band, Happyness, was up after Hinds, and they appeared to have a much easier time of it on stage at Latitude 30. Admittedly, their music is so aloof and deliberately low-key that it might be difficult to know if they were having a problem. But their extended guitar jams built in intensity throughout the set, leading to a massive coda at the end which found guitarist Benji Compston flat on the floor by the time it finished.
The final act on the schedule for the night was Irish punk quartet Girl Band, who I had caught briefly the day before at the full Irish breakfast. After having to fight her way through the queue and the crowd, Mary and I decided to call it a night. Frankly, I was feeling a bit “flat on the floor” myself after the long and exciting SXSW week. I left town the next morning with a myriad of new sounds and new faces permanently etched into my memory, and naturally I made them each a part of my eclectic road trip playlist on the drive home.