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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th May 2016 at 11:00 am
Formation have been heating things up this year, following on from their star turn at the NME / UK Trade and Investment night to close out their SXSW 2016. Twins Matt and Will Ritson come from a DIY / improvisation background, but there’s no mistaking their talent for knocking at floor-filling bangers. The hyped duo are booked for a whole slew of festivals from now into early September, a testament to just how desired their beats are to events all over the UK and Europe.
…but they’ll be returning to London in October (the 25th to be exact) to play a show at Village Underground in Shoreditch, and we’ve blagged 2 pairs of tickets from our friends at Gigs and Tours to give away to two lucky TGTF readers! Think of it as a special May bank holiday gift from us to you. Is there a friend, family member or significant other you’d like to treat with a special surprise this upcoming long weekend? Then you’ll want to enter our contest.
To do so, you’ll need to fill out the below form completely. First, give us your full name. Second, give us your email address. (We need a way to contact you if you win, naturally.) Third, to prove you’re not a robot and you actually follow the band on social media, answer this one question: what is the name of the most recent promotional video the band has released as of April 2016? You can locate this information by Googling, but let’s hope you won’t have to resort to that.
That’s it. Of all the correct entries we receive, we’ll choose two winners at random to receive a pair of tickets apiece to the concert on the 25th of October. All good? Be sure you get your entries in by 12 PM British time Thursday, the 26th of May, when we’ll close the contest. As mentioned above, we’ll contact the winners by email, so make sure you’ve entered your email address correctly. Good luck! If you’d rather not chance it and want to buy tickets to this show, you can buy them here.
Please note: this contest is open to UK residents only and you must be able to get yourself to London for the show at Village Underground. Please note that this show is 16+; all under 18s must be accompanied by an adult (these are the venue’s rules, not ours, and TGTF won’t be held responsible if you’re turned away at the door for being underage and not meeting the venue’s age requirement). All duplicate entries will be discarded.
This contest is now closed. The winners will be contacted by email.
American singer/songwriter John Grant will play a short list of headline dates in the UK next month, ahead of a full schedule of summer festival appearances. In the midst of the following live dates, Grant will stop at London’s Field Day Festival on the 12th of June, and his July appearances will include T in the Park, Latitude and WOMAD.
Ahead of his upcoming live dates, Grant has just released a new video for ‘Voodoo Doll’, which appears on his third album ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’, released last October on Bella Union. You can view the new video just below the tour date listing. Tickets for the following shows are available now.
TGTF’s previous coverage of John Grant is right back here.
Wednesday 8th June 2016 – Salisbury City Hall
Thursday 9th June 2016 – Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre
Friday 10th June 2016 – Birmingham Institute
Wednesday 15th June 2016 – London Royal Albert Hall (sold out)
Not long now until Iowan singer/songwriter Max Jury‘s debut album is released to the wild. The Des Moines musician previously unveiled LP track ‘Beg & Crawl’, and now the single has its own promo. The song itself seems to be an instruction manual to coming to the painful acceptance of heartbreak, as Steven writes in his review of it. In the video for ‘Beg & Crawl’, a fictitious relationship between the American Jury and a British girl is chronicled over the brief time span of less than 4 minutes, yet you can sense the highs and lows of such a connection. Watch the video below.
‘Max Jury’, the debut album from the young songwriter, will be out on the 3rd of June on Marathon Artists. Jury begins a short tour in his adopted homeland on Wednesday the 25th of May in Bristol; the tour includes a headline show at the famed 100 Club in London on the 26th. Coverage of Max Jury on TGTF is all here.
If you recall reading in my introductory post about Canadian Music Week 2016, this year’s festival had a Focus on Ireland, which meant there was a great turnout of acts from the Emerald Isle. All said and done after the event was over on Saturday the 7th of May, I managed to catch nearly every single Irish band who had come to Toronto, save one. It helped that most of the Irish bands and the many Irish who had emigrated to and were now resident in the city descended on the Rivoli pool hall on Queen Street Thursday night for a full night of bands as part of Music from Ireland’s brilliant showcase during CMW. Counterintuitively, I did not eat anything remotely Irish for dinner, instead downing a massive, entirely from scratch chorizo arepa in Kensington Market to keep me full until I returned to my bed that evening.
I knew that many Irish bands successful enough to cross the Atlantic for our continents music festivals would naturally take to one another. But it was at CMW 2016 that I felt the incredible strength of bands and artists’ ties to each other, bonded together by the fact that they are Irish and they are all about making meaningful music. They showed up to each other’s shows to cheer them on and to hug and high-five them after their gigs, and I started to get emotional. It occurred to me that we have supported so many Irish bands over the years, starting with Two Door Cinema Club in my early blogging days, through to all the Music from Ireland showcases at SXSW and The Great Escape. So I am now on the hunt for an Irish contributor or two to join us at TGTF. If you or someone you know lives in Ireland (north or south), is keen on independent music and would like to write for us, please contact us / me on Twitter with your interest.
Young lads Bagels (now rebranded as Search Party Animal) were first up on the bill, starting things off at the 8 o’clock hour with plenty of energy. If you hadn’t heard his accent, you’d have no way of knowing frontman Adam Redmond wasn’t a surfer dude from the West Coast, which is a roundabout way of saying he’s got the boy next door good looks that I expect young girls all over the world to swoon over in due course. But let’s get back to the music. They’ve got that bouncy guitar liveliness that Northern Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club made their name with. You know, remember that sunniness that Two Door used to bring into venues that would light up the room? There’s even a bit of pounding rhythm with jangly guitar that Foals have made famous. If you’re going to sound vaguely similar to other bands, you could do worse, right?
However, the night belonged to MKAI, a band of brothers (literally, not figuratively) from Cork. Evidently, their reputation preceded them, as even before the tall, dark and handsome figures of Cian, Conor, Eoghan and Colm MacSweeny took the stage, there was an excited mass of fans down the front, patiently waiting for them. They have a debut EP out now, ‘Waiting’, which was released last autumn and led to the selling out of their hometown venue Crane Lane Theatre for the EP’s launch party.
Just a wild guess, but I’m pretty sure every one of those excited fans already have it, as I haven’t seen people jumping up, down and sideways so enthusiastically at a show in a very long time. I’m being serious. My impression of them was as a folk-less Kodaline, with a pop sensibility and massive anthemic builds featuring synth swells and memorable guitar hooks. I (well, we) were not left disappointed. Their new single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ is out this Friday, and you can read Carrie’s review of it from earlier in the month here.
As I was busy watching Icelandic singer/songwriter Axel Flovent at Drake One Fifty early Wednesday afternoon, I missed Elm’s performance at the opening Canadian Music Week party at Google’s Canadian headquarters in Toronto. No big deal, as they were part of the Music from Ireland lineup. They describe themselves as an alternative baroque-pop band, but that would seem to suggest they sound like Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy. Which they do not.
Truth be told, while I find some things in common with this band with other bands that have a cellist, like Wooden Arms or Passport to Stockholm, I actually found singer Dylan Walsh having an Eddie Vedder, Michael Stipe-like presence, except with a lighter touch. The main concern with a less bombastic vocal is having it get lost in the instrumentation, yet Elm manage to avoid that with thoughtful composition. I will say that Elm are a much more visceral proposition live, as when I saw them this night, they were much louder than I expected them to be, which I wonder if it has to do with the venue’s sound mix for the night. I saw them in conversation with some important looking folk on Saturday at the Sheraton, so I hope that means they have some kind of signed deal in place.
Stay tuned for the rest of my Thursday night at CMW 2016, which includes more from the Music from Ireland showcase, following tomorrow on TGTF.
Now that the hype train has (almost) stopped rolling for new Radiohead material, we can finally take a look at what we’re left with in the aftermath. The initial social network buzz that started by the band, ironically, removing themselves almost completely from the internet, soon turned into a tangible video. ‘Burn the Witch’ is a terrifying and prowling song whose main objective is to build an extreme amount of tension before simply dying. Using strings to create the initial urgency, it’s when the electronic instruments kick in that the urgency becomes a chaotic mash of analogue and digital. In short, a more than apt metaphor for Radiohead’s general modus operandi.
The key component to Radiohead’s sound is experimentation. Truly no two of their albums sound the same, even if on the outside they may appear to. The genius behind Thom Yorke and co.’s approach is hidden within the detail. Every track on ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is expertly crafted with not only an auditory reaction but an emotional one too. Taking you from sad to terrified to elated, all within one song, Yorke is able to orchestrate our minds just as he is able to instrumentation.
Track two ‘Daydreaming’ is an vast change of pace from its predecessor, though it retains the gradual descent into madness with a crescendo that sees more strings wrapping around a haunting vocal accompaniment that turns into demonic roars. At this point, it almost feels like Radiohead are just trying to haunt every aspect of your head, ‘Decksdark’ takes on a more standard appearance with a classic drums, bass, guitar and piano compositon. Of course this doesn’t last: when the verses break, we’re met with an array of sounds that echo around the sonic spectrum. ‘Desert Island Disk’ revolves around a repeating acoustic guitar line, which marries well with the dark and brooding electronic atmosphere.
It’s clear that the 5 years between 2011’s ‘The King of The Limbs’ and ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ has not been in vain. Evolving their sound to incorporate more electronic elements than ever before has allowed them to branch into an entirely new strand of menacing alt-rock. ‘Ful Stop’ uses more of the build up approach as seen on the opening two tracks, but instead of leading to a string laden eruption, it becomes this determined and furiously thick guitar riff that once again swells with atmospheric sounds and a pace quickening drum beat. ‘Glass Eyes’ is a sombre, piano-led ballad that has Yorke’s voice sporadically drowned out by overbearing strings, it’s also the shortest cut on the record that flows nicely into ‘Identikit’. Opening with a complex drum pattern, another consistency throughout, the rhythm section is always a structure Yorke plays with the utmost respect. Building the compositions around this complex network of drums is a part of this records beauty.
Within the undertones of the album lies within love, loss and life. ‘True Love Waits’, a track that’s been in the works since 1995, is a barren and exposed track that tears away the majority atmospheric elements and instead leaves the mind play left to the lyrical content. ‘The Numbers’ concerns the state of the earth and our responsibility to rectify our mistakes before it’s too late.
With some of the tracks dating to decades before this release, what Radiohead have done is created a conglomerate of past and future. An orchestration of time and how it doesn’t dwell in one central point. In classic Radiohead fashion, they’ve given us everything we could’ve wanted and more.
‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is out now in digital form on XL Records. A physical release follows in June. Read more on Radiohead on TGTF here.
In Part 1 of my interview with Danny Todd and James Smith of exmagician, we discussed the pair’s new album ‘Scan the Blue’, which was released in March on Bella Union.
Following the late March release of their debut LP ‘Scan the Blue’, Belfast alt-rock duo exmagician have planned a full summer of live appearances to promote the album. They recently played at Festival SOS in Murcia, Spain as well as making a stop this past weekend at The Great Escape 2016 in Brighton. Following The Great Escape, exmagician headed to continental Europe to play in Amsterdam, supporting Australian surf rockers Hockey Dad. Looking ahead to the middle of summer, the band are scheduled to play at Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival and the exclusive Tunbridge Wells festival LeeFest Presents: The Neverland in July. “We really love playing festivals,” said band member James Smith. “Certainly my favourite type of gig is a really good festival. July is a lot of festivals, the sort of smaller, boutique festivals in England, which look really good fun. We’re looking forward to them.”
Between those festival appearances and a handful of upcoming UK and Irish headline dates that are still to be announced, Smith and bandmate Danny Todd are currently working on a complete remixing of ‘Scan the Blue’. The new versions of the songs will be pared back performances of the tracks on the album, similar to the ones they recently performed in this live studio session with Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music.
The next official single from the album proper will be ‘Bend With the Wind’, which our own editor Mary remarked upon as a standout track, and Todd revealed plans for a new video to accompany its release. “It’s an animated video by an Irish artist called Eat the Danger. That should be coming out in the next month, maybe, or so. So we’re really excited about that track.” Asked which other songs from the album the band are eager to share, Todd continued, “I think they’re all quite different in their own way, which is what we try to do. But we’ve just come off tour, and it’s been nice to play ‘Smile to the Gallery’, because we’ve only really started playing it in the last 3 weeks. So we’re doing that one and ‘Feet Don’t Fail’, James’ one. It’s really nice to play that.”
Songs from ‘Scan the Blue’ have been receiving radio play on the American side of the pond as well as in the UK. Seattle public radio station KEXP featured the album track ‘Job Done’ as its Song of the Day back on the 17th of February, before the full album was even released. In the same blog entry, KEXP also shared the official video for ‘Place Your Bets’, which you can view just below.
Todd hinted that exmagician might be considering a run of tour dates in America to support the album, though he also remarked that the outcome of the American presidential election might preclude a visit to the United States. “If Trump’s president,” he said, “I don’t know if we’re going to come out.” Though I’ve spent some time pondering the state of the current American presidential contest myself, I hadn’t previously thought about how the election might affect tour plans for artists from abroad, and I wondered aloud about the possibility of bands boycotting America entirely, refusing to tour here. Smith sadly concurred with his bandmate on that point. “Yeah, that’s a possibility. I think a lot of people are very scared. But that’s one of the things, to get over there, because our album is out in the States, and we’d like to get over and support it and tour a bit over there.”
Keep your eye on exmagician’s official Web site and Facebook page for updates on live show announcements and festival appearances. (And if you’re in the United States, keep your fingers crossed for that American tour!) TGTF’s preview of LeeFest: The Neverland, which included a mention of exmagician, posted earlier this week; if you missed it, you can read it right back here. Our full collection of coverage on exmagician is back this way.
Special thanks to Jamie and Luke for kindly arranging this interview.
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