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In recent years, Nottingham has produced some of the music industry’s best new talent, from London Grammar and Dog is Dead to Saint Raymond and Jake Bugg. Amber Run, a five-piece indie pop group who met at the University of Nottingham, is the latest band to emerge from the city, and their debut album ‘5AM’ is something to behold.
The record, which was produced by Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club, Foals), is an excellent showcase of Amber Run’s ability to produce anthems. Album opener ‘I Found’ is a pulsating track, which combines dark, powerful lyrics with bellowing, stripped-back harmonies, whilst ‘Spark’ blends the indie folk vibes of Mumford and Sons with a Coldplay-esque piano and vocal arrangement, as the underlying guitar and drum beat explodes into action during the thunderous chorus.
Each track on the album is laden with hooks; the whirling guitar intro of ‘Hurricane’ leads into a clap-along anthem, which is begging to be chanted at a major music festival. Not to mention the euphoric sounds of ‘Noah’ and ‘Pilot’ and the funky tones of ‘Good Morning’, which bears undertones to The 1975’s ‘Chocolate’. ‘Shiver’ and title track ‘5AM’ provide a slower pace to the proceedings, brilliantly flaunting the natural rawness of Joe Keough’s vocals. The record also includes fan favourite ‘See You Soon’, an ode to the band’s hometown of Nottingham, and ‘Just My Soul Responding’, the brilliant first single to be taken from the album. There’s a real cohesion, as each of the tracks almost seamlessly flows from one to the next, with the use of two short interludes (‘M.F.’ and ‘C.F.’) nicely holding the album together.
Overall, ‘5AM’ is a brilliant exhibition of Amber Run’s soaring ambition, as the record is brimming with tracks that could echo around arenas. Considering the band’s relatively short time on the music scene, they already have a very mature sound, which is only going to develop as the group go on to bigger and better things. With the right exposure, this is not just a possibility, more an inevitability.
Looking ahead to their next record, it’ll be interesting to see whether Amber Run opt to follow in the footsteps of Coldplay and produce a dance pop album or continue to output indie pop. Whichever route they take, their follow-up will certainly be highly anticipated, that’s for certain.
Amber Run’s debut album ‘5AM’ is out now on RCA Victor. The group have just embarked on a new UK/Irish tour.
Header photo by Steve Gullick
Electro-pop quintet Hot Chip have announced a new run of headline dates in the UK for October including London’s Brixton Academy on the 22nd of October. The new live dates follow Hot Chip’s already sold out UK dates in May, which coincide with their new album ‘Why Make Sense?’, due for release on the 18th of May on Domino Records. Along with the live dates announcement, Hot Chip have also released a limited edition white label 12” featuring remixes of ‘Need You Now’ from Percussions (Kieran Hebden) and ‘Huarache Lights’ from band member Joe Goddard.
The band’s scheduled summer festival appearances include Glastonbury, T in the Park and Green Man. A full listing of Hot Chip’s worldwide live dates can be found on the band’s Web site.
Tickets for the following shows will be available for general sale starting Friday the 24th of April at 10 AM. Support on the October UK headline dates comes from new Domino signing Georgia for all dates except London, which will be opened by LoneLady. Previous TGTF coverage of Hot Chip, including the official video for ‘Need You Now’, can be found here.
Tuesday 13th October 2015 – Bristol Academy
Wednesday 14th October 2015 – Portsmouth Pyramid Centre
Friday 16th October 2015 – Glasgow Barrowland
Saturday 17th October 2015 – Manchester Albert Hall
Sunday 18th October 2015 – Leeds Beckett University
Tuesday 20th October 2015 – Nottingham Rock City
Wednesday 21st October 2015 – Cambridge Corn Exchange
Thursday 22nd October 2015 – London Brixton Academy
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 20th April 2015 at 6:00 pm
After her softly emotional and well-received performances at SXSW 2015, SOAK (aka Derry teenager Bridie Monds-Watson) has a new promo video to show us. The visuals in ‘Blud’ are monochromatic I think for a reason: to show off the melancholic nature of looking back at time that has passed so fast and memories may be long gone in time but never forgotten. Watch the video for ‘Blud’ [sic] below.
All of TGTF’s coverage so far on SOAK is this way. Catch her on tour in the UK and Ireland in June; prior to that, she’ll also be making an appearance with the Irish contingent at The Great Escape 2015.
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.
When we at TGTF caught up with folk-punk collective Skinny Lister last month at SXSW 2015, they were enthusiastically awaiting the release of their new album ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ on Xtra Mile Recordings. Aside from being excited to play the new songs for new audiences, the band members were excited to be part of the emerging alt-folk ‘scene’ being curated by the record label. With the new LP release, Skinny Lister have established a firm position in the milieu beside their famous labelmate Frank Turner.
‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ opens with the immediately catchy couplet rhymes of sea shanty ‘Raise a Wreck’. Informed by both rock and traditional folk influences, the raucous pub-style sing-along has a climactic key change around two-thirds of the way through that sets a high-energy mood for the album. ‘Trouble on Oxford Street’ continues the uptempo tone with a melodic “ba da ba ba ba da da” refrain and clever lyrical lines that seem particularly appropriate heading into the upcoming summer festival season: “please excuse the bruise, it’s drink got me into this, I didn’t know where I was”.
Co-lead vocalist and self-described ‘show-off’ Lorna Thomas chimes in with her multi-instrumentalist brother Max on ‘George’s Glass’, written as an ode to the Thomas siblings’ father, an amateur songwriter known informally as ‘Party George’. The folk aspect of this song is realized in its lively dance tempo, specifically a polka if I’m not mistaken, and its rousing chorus “follow your fearless heart / walk on down your own path / tomorrow in focus at last / the world through the bottom of George’s glass”.
Lorna Thomas displays a more poetic vocal style in ‘What Can I Say’, an introspective country-tinged track about longing for a lost love. As you can hear in its accompanying video just below, the song’s naturalistic lyrics allude to the lonely passage of time by chronicling the change of seasons from “a summer spent without you is a summer put to waste” to “leaves they went brown, down they all did fall”. Thomas’ lilting vocals feature again later in the album on the lovely pure folk ballad ‘Bonny Away’ and gently rocking album closer ‘The Dreich’.
Previously featured track ‘Cathy’ lifts the tempo between ‘What Can I Say’ and the teetering waltz ‘Six Whiskies’. Another dance-tune-turned-pub-chorus, ‘Six Whiskies’ namechecks a handful of London landmarks visited on a drunken sojourn, including the Deptford Broadway lyric that gives the album its name. The uproarious anthem ‘This Is War’ might sound equally at home on the ‘Les Miserables’ soundtrack as in the pub, especially with its broad choral harmonies and accordion-laced instrumentation. ‘Ten Thousand Voices’ has a similarly populist theme along with a driving rhythm and an irresistible chorus that begs for audience participation in live performance.
Indeed, live performance is where Skinny Lister truly excel, and while the recorded versions on ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ are enjoyable, they can’t quite match the unbridled energy and enthusiasm of the band on stage and in person. If you happen to be on the UK side of the pond, you can have the best of both worlds this week, as Skinny Lister embark on a UK tour in support of the album release.
Skinny Lister’s second album ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ is out today on Xtra Mile Recordings. Our previous coverage of Skinny Lister, including an interview and live reviews from SXSW 2015, is right this way.
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