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In an era when indie rock bands strive to play international arena shows, Little Comets have instead spent the last 7 years capturing adolescent spirits across the UK’s smallest venues. The Tyneside trio have subsequently inspired a dedicated legion of fans and last Thursday night, following on from the release of ‘Hope is Just a State of Mind’ (reviewed by editor Mary here), they brought these fans together at London’s Koko.
Move aside, Kanye: this might have been your patch for a secret show a week ago, but this near sell out crowd was always going to prove very different. Little Comets added fellow Geordies Lisbon to open up, with a short but sweet taster of spritely indie pop. A tight sound and crowd pleasing set offered great variety; from the slow jam catchiness of ‘Blue Love’ that makes these guys a big tip for the future to the other end of the spectrum where the electro-pop grit of big drums and chanting lyrics on ‘I Don’t Know’ and ‘Native’, also sparked appreciation.
Already hotly tipped, Dundee’s Model Aeroplanes were also supporting and showed exactly why they’re commanding so much buzz lately. In short, this lively four-piece are the band to tell all your friends about, with driving rock melodies and an outstanding stage presence. Vocalist Rory Fleming-Stewart delivers youthful lyrics superbly on all occasions, even during the drunken sentiments of ‘Club Low’. “So much regret stuck in your teeth and you’re too proud to pick it out…”, he brims confidently, before changing tact on an upbeat chorus that the entire crowd can chant, “let’s face it we’re wasted, nowhere else to go…”.
This is a band who clearly enjoy their live sets, as Grant Irvine (guitar) and Ben Buist (bass) slid across the stage to add intricate riffs, whilst Kieran Smith gave a flawless performance behind the drums. There is an ever-present air of The Holloways in their jubilant indie refrains, and a tight set that included the likes of ‘Whatever Dress Suits You Better’ and ‘Rollercoaster’, showcased the potential for every track to be a worthy single. Don’t be mistaken by their playful charm, because this band have the showmanship and quality to hit even bigger stages in the next 12 months.
But it was when the headliners arrived that this crowd really started to get interesting. ‘Gift of Sound’ from Little Comets’ latest, independently released album – the first of their three to enter the top 40 album charts at number 31 – begins their set, followed by the timeless Brit-rock swagger of early, first album track ‘Isles’. By this point there are already fans climbing on one another’s shoulders, surging mosh pits and crowd surfing. It’s yet more evidence of how this band have channelled a youthful energy and angst, that other bands find impossible to replicate.
It would be naive however, to think their song writing has remained unchanged, and solely epitomised by these youth-cult classics. For all the excitement and wild scenes provoked by ‘Joanna’ and ‘Dancing Song’, Little Comets have also touched on as many profound and philosophical problems. ‘Woman Woman’ and ‘Violence Out Tonight’ create a chilling atmosphere, and amidst the enthused audience, still command a respectful peace. A respect that is held for just how diverse and thought-provoking this band’s songwriting can be.
They race through nearly 20 songs in all tonight, spanning across all their albums. There’s no encore here, and aside from there simply not being enough time, it would remain impossible to pick a select few to close on. Rob Coles, his brother Mickey and Matthew Hall, have been overcome by the scenes judging by their patter between songs, and it’s easy to see why: tonight undoubtedly highlights why this band are so special. This is a crowd that’s grown up with Little Comets over several years, and every time the band have reinvented themselves and their influences. It makes ‘In Blue Music We Trust’ all the more fitting to close their set, with lofty harmonies and a tale of positivity, and poignancy. Little Comets won’t be burning out anytime soon.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 1:00 pm
One of the best experiences I had this year at SXSW 2015 was the Sounds from Spain showcase Wednesday afternoon at Brush Square Park. As you all know, TGTF has primarily focused on UK bands in the past, but this year I decided to branch out and listen to as many bands who received shouts for SXSW this year, rank them by quality and potential to you, our readers, and see what other exciting sounds I could find. Based solely on the strength of music from several bands from Spain, it became clear to me that this was one country – and its musical output – I needed to pay closer attention to.
Oso Leone are a five-piece from the gorgeous island of Majorca, part of Spain’s Balearic island chain in the Mediterranean Sea. Many of their songs are instrumentally focused, some with driving beat rhythms, leading me to connect them with sigur ros in my head. They’re an interesting proposition, with their masterful guitar work seemingly at odds with the electronic beats before they go into a wigged out, psychedelic presentation. Last year they were given a golden opportunity not given to all Spanish bands, or any indie bands for that matter: a tony slot on Pitchfork’s stage at Primavera Sound in May 2014, which was documented by the Chicago-based Web site in this gorgeous video.
Wednesday was their time to shine as the first band on at the Sounds from Spain showcase, and they didn’t disappoint. While it may have been rainy earlier in the morning and the carpet inside the performance tent was wet (I learned this the hard way by putting my bags on the ground and kneeling down on the carpet, coming away with wet kneecaps on my jeans), Oso Leone provided a refreshing start to the event with their unique balance of smooth soundscapes and jutting rhythms that complimented the roaringly hot sun that soon came out. Shortly after their set, I was able to grab frontman Xavi Marín (vocals and guitar), apologising for my nearly nonexistent command of the Spanish language, and have this chat with him.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 11:00 am
Following on from the nice chat I had with The Lonely Wild at one of the earliest afternoon showcases of the week last Tuesday, the first day of the StubHub Experience put on by Culture Collide at Clive Bar in the Rainey Street area of downtown Austin, my next interviewees were much more difficult to pin down. The one good thing about SXSW is that in and around the smaller venues, it’s much more easier to accidentally run into indie bands if you need to find them as we do for professional reasons of interviewing.
Melbourne’s The Delta Riggs were on after The Lonely Wild, and boy, did they make an impression! While The Lonely Wild have an energetic set, there is an edgy, kick to the arse kind of bent to The Delta Riggs’ music that made me feel like this was the second coming of The Black Crowes via Australia. I had trouble locating the band’s tour manager and was about to give up on interviewing them that afternoon until I noticed a van being loaded up on the street outside the venue and recognised bassist Michael “Monte” Tramonte and drummer Simon McConnell carrying band gear.
The two of them were more than happy to stop what they were doing to have this chinwag with me. Naturally, they were horribly jetlagged from their long-haul travels from Oz – humourously described during their set at Clive Bar by their frontman Elliott Hammond as taking 3 months by trans-Pacific freighter, during which they lost an entire horn section – and it was Elliott who gatecrashed and joined our interview one-third of the way in. We also chat about the Australian contingent and they recommend some Aussie acts for us to check out, including one with which their band are doing a collaboration with but I think TGTF were the first to get wind of.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 10:00 am
Wolf Alice appeared last week in Austin for SXSW 2015 and as previously announced on TGTF, their new spring 2015 UK tour just began yesterday in Glasgow.
It seems, then, with the excitement of a new tour beginning, it’s perfect timing for a free mp3 giveaway. ‘I Saw You (in a Corridor)’ is the b-side of their upcoming single ‘Giant Peach’, which will be released on limited edition 7″ vinyl on the 13th of April. You can listen to the b-side and from the Soundcloud embed below, and if you like it, you can download it from this link. The video for ‘Giant Peach is also embedded under its b-side’s stream.
Previous coverage of Wolf Alice on TGTF is this way.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 23rd March 2015 at 6:00 pm
Having championed wildlife conservation charities and the teaching of birdsong alongside the more conventional languages French and German, Stornoway are science geeks after my own heart. There isn’t an obvious connection of the lyrics of ‘Get Low’ from their upcoming third album ‘Bonxie’ to flying feathered friends, but their new promo video to go with the song neatly brings things round back to nature. Somehow I doubt they would have hired trained ducks for this shoot, so for the fact alone that their guest stars so gracefully and take to the skies – and by their side – is worth viewing this video alone. Beautiful.
‘Bonxie’ sees the light of day on the 13th of April on Cooking Vinyl. The band’s previously revealed single ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ and ‘Josephine’ in demo form will also both appear on the new LP. The band begin a new UK tour in Southampton on the 21st of April and have also announced a high-profile appearance at Live at Leeds 2015.
Keen on reading past coverage of Stornoway on TGTF? Head this way.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 23rd March 2015 at 11:00 am
Folk / pop / rock band The Lonely Wild are based in the creative hotbed of music in Los Angeles known as the Silverlake area. Tuesday afternoon at SXSW 2015, the five member strong band – comprised of frontman Andrew Carroll (vocals / guitar), Jessi Williams (synth, guitar, bass, trumpet), Andrew Schneider (bass), Ryan Ross (keys and trumpet) and Dave Farina (drums) – performed on one of the earliest afternoon showcases of the week, as part of the first day of bands put on at the StubHub Experience / Culture Collide event at Clive Bar, located in the heart of what us SXSW regulars call the Rainey Street area. I grabbed a chat with them after their performance in front of what was clearly an audience raring to go for the week.
The band have recorded a new album ‘Chasing White Light’, which is due out later this year (its official release date yet to be announced). In this interview, they tell me about the recording of the album in a new way and on analogue equipment with producer John Vanderslice, owner of the legendary Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco’s Mission District. The group also provide insight into one of their new songs on the album, ‘Free from Harm’, which has been inspired by the two Andrews’ own marches towards fatherhood later this year, and we discuss the ever moving target for what an indie band is supposed to sound like. Listen to the interview in full below.
Thanks very much to The Lonely Wild for hanging around after their set to chat with me at Clive Bar. If you’re keen on reading my SXSW 2015 bands to watch preview I wrote on them that posted on TGTF back in January, go here; you can also read multi-instrumentalist Jessi Williams’ answers to the TGTF Quickfire Questions as well.
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