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Kendal Calling 2014 was wet, windy and wild, but that didn’t stop it being one of the finest weekends of the festival calendar.
Anyone considering a trip to the Lake District at any time of the year would be well advised to anticipate bad weather, as Kendal Calling 2014 demonstrated all too well. At times, revellers were treated to a rendition of the classic “four seasons in one day”: heavy rain, followed by strong winds, then a glimpse of blue sky and sunshine before the rain returned again. Rinse and repeat.
Some people had grokked that it was raining and muddy and wore wellies and raincoats. Others appeared not to notice, sporting flimsy trainers and T-shirts that were soon overwhelmed by the weather. Those who were either already insane or induced to be so by the party atmosphere positively relished the conditions, to the extent of indulging in mud-diving, mud-fighting and indeed, mud-hugging. On this evidence, anyone who tells you rain spoils a festival needs to have a rethink.
In between the mud-love there happened to be some music. Kendal has within its modestly-sized site a plethora of stages: the commercial-biased Main Stage, the new indie bands on the Calling Out stage, the pretty Woodlands stage, in addition to hosting longtime external collaborators Chai Wallahs and Riot Jazz. The compact nature of the site – you’re never more than 10 minutes away from the other side – means it carries a significant advantage over mega-festivals where it feels like one spends most of the day trudging from one far-flung stage to the next.
The big news this year was the opening of the main arena on Thursday night, for the benefit of those who paid a bit extra for early entry. And who better to get the place rocking than everyone’s favourite funk ‘n’ soul (and friend to TGTF) DJ Craig Charles? In truth, technically, he’s no better than the chap in your local boozer spinning the silver discs of a Saturday night – there’s little attempt at anything fancy like beatmatching – but what Charles lacks in technical skill he far more than makes up for with sheer unbridled enthusiasm, standing up on the desk, exhorting the crowd into further frenzies of funk-induced revelry, his set heavy with classic soul and climaxing with a Dimitri From Paris’ remix of Michael Jackson’s ‘I Want You Back’ by which time a random gaggle of lucky punters had been invited up on stage, dancing with DJ Charles in various states of inebriation and undress. The party had well and truly started.
Kendal’s campsites are true melting pots of those brave souls who risk staying up beyond the witching hour to for the simple pleasures of shared song and story… and beer and whisky. If you don’t want to be kept awake by a tone-deaf rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ at 3 AM, then the quiet camping area is a must. Never fear, your correspondent was on hand to ensure that at the very least the guitar was properly tuned – no mean feat at such a late hour. After so much anticipation, Friday morning couldn’t dawn soon enough, and after such a fine prelude, it had finally arrived.
Stay tuned for more coverage from Martin on this year’s Kendal Calling coming soon on TGTF.
There has been quite a lot of buzz around Luke Sital-Singh‘s debut album ‘The Fire Inside’, going back all the way to his first EP release, ‘Fail For You’ in 2012. Sital-Singh has been tipped for success by the likes of The Guardian, The Telegraph and BBC Radio. The album was featured recently on the 7th of August episode of Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable on BBC 6music, and though Lamacq’s participants gave it a rather lukewarm reception, Sital-Singh’s anthemic choruses and refined folk ballads would seem to be a very comfortable fit for mainstream radio.
Cobbled together with tracks from Sital-Singh’s earlier EP releases (the aforementioned ‘Fail For You’ and 2013’s ‘Old Flint’ and ‘Tornados’) and newly written songs guided by the production assistance of Iain Archer (Jake Bugg, Tired Pony, Snow Patrol), ‘The Fire Inside’ alternates between moments of soaring optimism and quiet introspection. Musically, the songs are unapologetically melodic, built around the simple poetic rhythms and structures of Sital-Singh’s emotionally charged lyrics.
The main factor distinguishing Sital-Singh from many of his colleagues in the alt-folk genre is his exquisite singing voice. Though he has garnered comparisons to such singer-songwriters as Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver, the intense emotional quality of his vocals reminds me most strongly of Northern Irish songsmith Foy Vance. Sital-Singh’s delivery perfectly matches the range of sentiments in his songs, from the raw power of the chorus in album opener ‘Nothing Stays The Same” to the fragile falsetto of ‘Fail For You’.
The first three tracks on ‘The Fire Inside’, ‘Nothing Stays the Same’ and recent single ‘Greatest Lovers’ are instantly gratifying in that regard, with infectiously expansive refrains buoyed by a chorus of backing vocals. While the intimacy of the songs would play perfectly to a small room, the chorus of ‘Nothing Stays the Same’ seems equally appropriate for a stadium-sized sing-along: “Cry your eyes out, fill your lungs up / We all hurt, we all lie, and nothing stays the same”.
Sital-Singh balances out his gloriously unrestrained choruses with a few interesting stylistic twists. The over-eager ‘21st Century Heartbeat’ misses the mark slightly with its contrived lyrics, “I woke up hollow as an apple core / I’ve got so much purpose, I don’t know what for,” but it marks a welcome change of pace from the extravagant emotion of the songs preceding it. The dramatic piano-based ‘Lillywhite’ features stately brass and Sital-Singh’s beautifully executed falsetto, while the guileless optimism of ‘Nearly Morning’ plays out as a straightforward acoustic guitar ballad.
On standout track ‘I Have Been a Fire’, Sital-Singh turns a simple couplet structure into a remarkable display of textural and dynamic sensitivity, giving each section a different tonal color to match the unapologetically romantic lyrics and adding emotional texture with the distorted electric guitar solo in the bridge. The Bon Iver comparison becomes apparent in the double tracked vocals and amorphous structure of ‘Fail For You’, which serves as a quiet moment preceding the ambitious anthem ‘We Don’t Belong’. The album closes, appropriately enough, with the pure beauty of Sital-Singh’s voice in the ethereal ‘Benediction’.
‘The Fire Inside’ is an engaging display of artistry from a musician who has clearly taken the time to hone his skills. The songs are lovingly crafted and the recording is beautifully executed in every aspect. The album may not be earth-shattering in terms of its musical style or thematic material, but its emotional authenticity and the quality of Luke Sital-Singh’s musicianship are undeniable.
‘The Fire Inside’, Luke Sital-Singh‘s debut album, is out today, the 18th of August, on Parlophone Records. He’ll be touring the UK in September.
In-your-face punk rock duo Slaves are offering their new aptly-titled single ‘Hey’ as a free download on their official Web site, in exchange for adding your e-mail address to their mailing list. The single has already been featured by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1, but if you didn’t catch it there, you can stream it below.
Eliza and the Bear are set to embark on a lengthy UK tour starting in just over a month, in support of their recent EP ‘Light It Up’. You can find the video for the upbeat EP track ‘It Gets Cold’ below the tour date listing. Tickets for the following shows are available now.
Check out TGTF’s earlier coverage of Eliza and the Bear here.
Friday 19th September 2014 – Brighton Haunt
Wednesday 24th September 2014 – Cardiff Clwb lfor Bach
Thursday 25th September 2014 – Bristol Fleece
Friday 26th September 2014 – Bedford Esquires
Monday 29th September 2014 – Oxford Academy
Tuesday 30th September 2014 – Nottingham Bodega
Thursday 2nd October 2014 – Sheffield Leadmill
Friday 3rd October 2014 – Stoke-On-Trent Sugarmill
Saturday 4th October 2014 – Liverpool East Village Arts Club
Monday 6th October 2014 – Manchester Ruby Lounge
Tuesday 7th October 2014 – Edinburgh Electric Circus
Wednesday 8th October 2014 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Thursday 9th October 2014 – Aberdeen Lemon Tree
Friday 10th October 2014 – Dundee Buskers
Sunday 12th October 2014 – Leeds Cockpit 2
Tuesday 14th October 2014 – Birmingham Academy
Wednesday 15th October 2014 – Leicester Scholars Bar
Thursday 16th October 2014 – London Islington Academy
By Mary Chang
on Sunday, 17th August 2014 at 10:00 am
Woman’s Hour‘s debut album ‘Conversations’ is out now on Secretly Canadian. Here is the video for ‘In Stillness We Remain’, their forthcoming single to drop on the 22nd of September. The promo for the single is special, in that it was directed by singer Fiona Burgess at Queen Katherine School, where she and two of her bandmates attended as children. The young dancers in the video are current students, tasked with creating dance routines of their own devising. I’ll leave it to Burgess to describe it further.
Making this film was a wonderful nostalgia trip; walking along our old school corridors, encountering some of our teachers from back in the day, recalling how self-conscious we all felt about ourselves and the world. By focusing on a real group of teenage friends, the dancers in this film manage to capture all the awkwardness of growing up, but they also reflect what young people pick up from mainstream pop culture and try to emulate. Their movements are clumsy and idiosyncratic, but it’s these imperfections that I love.
By Mary Chang
on Saturday, 16th August 2014 at 10:00 am
Enigmatic singer/songwriter Tom the Lion has released the promo video for ‘Silent Partner’ off his debut album ‘Sleep’, out now on Wrasse Records. In it, the title of the tune is taken literally, as a woman signs her way through the lyrics. Watch the promo and its hand interpretations below.
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