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By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 11th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
More photos from this show are available on my Flickr here.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is something very special about witnessing a band from the UK you’ve known and loved for years making a meaningful connection with an American audience. The number present for the Everything Everything show Monday night at U Street Music Hall wasn’t the largest on this short East Coast tour for ‘Get to Heaven’; the Music Hall of Williamsburg gig in Brooklyn last Thursday takes that honour.
Being a DC native, I have understandable bias for shows in my hometown, especially those that elicit this kind of incredible response, and on a Monday night. It should be noted that the crowd was so heterogenous, highly unusual for a DC show usually made up of teenagers and young professionals. Young and old, male and female, regardless of age or persuasion, the devotion expressed to a band making their home some 3,000 miles across the Atlantic was vocal. And loud.
The opening band for the evening was local band Night Kitchen. I think it’s a safe assumption that upon seeing the childhood images of Hungry Hungry Hippos on a band’s EP that the band in question doesn’t take themselves too seriously. In the span of their 30-minute set, beardy, bespectacled frontman and defacto spokesman for the group Jordan Levine cracked a joke about the headliner (“How is everyone everyone doing tonight?”), and extolled the virtues of Thai iced tea (“Make it part of your life!”) and generally made for a light atmosphere that I’m sure was welcome for the youngest of gig-goers.
As for the music, Night Kitchen quickly proved why they were a good fit to perform with Everything Everything. With a similarly eclectic aesthetic, their sound takes cues from indie and funk and their songs have crazy titles. How does ‘title of first track of EP’ strike you? Breaking up their originals was a cover of Gary Numan’s breakthrough megahit ‘Cars’. It was most surprising in that there was no synth present onstage, and yet bolstered by Wyatt ‘T’ Rex’s bass playing, it worked amazingly well. Drummers don’t usually have their own cheering section, but their Emmett Parks did.
2016 marked the year that Everything Everything finally had an American release for one of their albums, for their most recent ‘Get to Heaven’, that had already been unveiled to the British public in June 2015. As long-time TGTF readers know, we’ve had a long affinity for their weird and wonderful music, going back to the 2010 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Man Alive’. In some ways, you can say we’ve grown up together. They’ve come a long way since their BBC Sound of 2010 longlist nod, yet they’ve maintained their individuality and remained uncompromising about the music they make.
‘Get to Heaven’ is the band’s most outspoken release to date and yet, most songs framed within pop structures, it gets the job done in catchiness while also conveying serious themes. I hadn’t been able to see them play this album properly outside of SXSW 2016 and a support slot with the Joy Formidable earlier this year. This time, playing their first headline show in Washington, the listener was afforded a special peek into this LP, while also being offered choice cuts from their back catalogue. It’s reasonable to expect the kind of enthusiastic reaction from singles ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘MY KZ UR BF’, the latter leading to a mass “whoa-oh-oh” singalong led by ringmaster Jonathan Higgs. The bass-heavy ‘Regret’ and ‘Schoolin’’ bolstered by the impressive chops of Jeremy Pritchard and the last-minute addition of ‘Photoshop Handsome’ to open the encore were nothing short of beautiful.
In contrast, more challenging and less pop album tracks ‘Warm Healer’ followed by ‘Zero Pharoah’ require closer, more intellectual appreciation, the kind of appreciation that is lost on record. Michael Spearman’s atypical drumming on ‘Warm Healer’ don’t follow anyone’s past formula, yet act as a fantastic driver to the song. You can’t help be drawn into the weirdness of the rhythm. The live version of ‘Zero Pharaoh’, which on record left me cold when I was reviewing the album last year, was peerless. Lead guitarist Alex Robertshaw’s guitar lines act as a melodic driving force in Higgs’ analysis of greedy men in power, and it’s a less obvious masterpiece on the album in the shadow of ‘Regret’ and set closer ‘Distant Past’.
Whether it was the emphatic shouting back to Higgs on ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ or the awkward boogie to ‘Fortune 500’ and ‘The Wheel’, you couldn’t find a fan in the room who wasn’t jubilantly happy with the band’s performance. The DC gig may not have been their biggest in America yet, but Everything Everything should now have the confidence to undertake a larger tour of our continent the next time they return to our shores. I, for one, can’t wait for their return.
After the cut: Everything Everything’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Everything Everything with Night Kitchen at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC – 8th October 2016
Shape-shifting Sheffield pop duo Slow Club will play a list of UK tour dates this October and November in support of their new album ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter’. The album’s soulful blues rock vibe takes a page from the book of producer Matthew E. White, who worked with Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson during its recording process. ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter’ is due out on the 12th of August via Moshi Moshi. (ICYMI, we’ve already reviewed it right back here.)
Ahead of the autumn tour, Slow Club will play a warm-up show at the Sheffield Picture House Social on the 15th of August at 9 PM. Tickets for the following October and November shows are available now. TGTF’s full coverage of Slow Club is gathered here.
Thursday 20th October 2016 – Brighton Haunt
Friday 21st October 2016 – Bath Moles
Saturday 22nd October 2016 – Leicester Academy
Tuesday 25th October 2016 – Liverpool Magnet
Wednesday 26th October 2016 – Newcastle Cluny
Thursday 27th October 2016 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Friday 28th October 2016 – Manchester Band On The Wall
Sunday 30th October 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Monday 31st October – London Village Underground
Tuesday 1st November 2016 – Cardiff Globe
Thursday 3rd November 2016 – Sheffield Yellow Arch Studios
Friday 4th November 2016 – Sheffield Yellow Arch Studios
Saturday 5th November 2016 – Sheffield Yellow Arch Studios
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 10th August 2016 at 6:00 pm
Young singer/songwriter James TW (full name James Taylor-Watts) released his debut EP ‘First Impressions’ earlier this year on Island Records. He also showcased at SXSW 2016, where I covered him playing the Liberty Tavern Saturday afternoon after fellow young artist Holly Macve.
Taylor-Watts has a soulful twang in his singing, not wholly unlike the famously hatted James Bay, so it’s not hard to imagine that superstardom could be in the young performer’s near future. Today we have for you his video for ‘Sanctuary’, a track off ‘First Impressions’. Taylor-Watts says of the track, “‘Sanctuary’ was written about when we all get too caught up in everyday life, whether it’s school or work, and forget about the things that matter the most. It’s about making time with the person you love to step away from the busy world.” We can get behind that sentiment completely. Watch the promo for ‘Sanctuary’ below.
In the process of researching for this review (by which I mean spending lots of time in various sunny fields listening to a lot of excellent music and chatting to a lot of talented people), I found myself face-to-face with Andy Smith, a founder of and head honcho at Kendal Calling. Considering the number of priceless moments his event has provided me with over the years – countless superb bands seen; friends, belongings, and marbles found, lost, and then found again; memorable impromptu jams and karaoke sessions – one would hope to do better in summing the whole deal up with a blokey “Cool festival, man.”
So, here is my homage to Kendal Calling, and considering I have more time to prepare it, I shall attempt to be more fulsome than the above. 2016 was the safest, most grown up version of Kendal Calling yet, and though there is plenty I miss about what was subtly different to previous years, all things considered this was the best installment yet. Apart from a shower early on the Thursday, the sun shone consistently throughout the weekend, which makes an enormous difference to one’s perception and enjoyment of a festival. Speaking of Thursday, I can remember when the evening’s entertainment for those hardy souls who volunteered for a pre-festival night’s camping was a bonfire and vintage clothing stall. Not so of late, and it fell to The Charlatans to close the main stage on Thursday. Surely one of the most well-known bands in Britain, the survivors of the baggy scene do make a delightful, funky racket, and if familiarity has dampened their ability to seem truly special, their sheer exuberance, not to mention liberal applications of Hammond organ, always makes them a compelling watch.
There’s more to Thursday night than the main stage anyway. After hours, the Chai Wallahs tent takes the strain of thousands of people looking to start their weekend with a bang. I’d managed to misplace the new campsite friends I’d only known a few hours, leaving them to buy beer only to realise that it’s impossible to find anyone again at Kendal if you’re actually looking for them. Best to go with the flow, meet people who fate wants you to meet, and take it from there. I remember speaking to a couple of guys who’d come up from Brighton, pretty much the farthest distance it’s possible to travel from on the mainland, and proof of Kendal’s nationwide reach. In true get-it-out-of-your-system style, late Thursday evening was spent mooching around various camps, joining in impromptu singalongs, mostly of songs written by a certain Mr Gallagher…
None of which shenanigans prevents a large crowd gathering first thing in the afternoon for the lively flow of Too Many T’s. I’m personally not sure where these guys have sprung from all of a sudden, but they seem to be all over the place, with a brand of witty hip-pop that’s perfect for an afternoon at a festival. They’ve got a lot of decent tunes that don’t seem to have appeared on record yet. Come on lads, you could have some hits on your hands!
One of the enormous pleasures of Kendal Calling is the undercard in the Calling Out tent, or what should actually be called the New Favourite Bands tent. The Big Moon are four girls from London who make a brilliant racket, perfectly poised between sweetly innocent melodies and flip-the-bird punkiness. There’s such hooks here that even on the first listen to something like ‘Cupid’, it’s impossible not to sing along in raucous joy. Brilliant stuff. And so to our first band of the day that have actually released an album. Hooton Tennis Club betray their Merseyside origins with lazy yet rock-steady beats, some lovely discordant guitar work and jaunty lyrics. Like early Blur crossed with the Lemonheads. And they’ve got an amazingly enthusiastic bass player. Who doesn’t want that?
Manchester’s Gideon Conn was a highlight of my festival last year, and he’s back this with a longer set, except he doesn’t seem to know he’s actually got a full hour to showcase his delicately funky looped observational pieces, so his set climaxes about 15 minutes too early. No matter, because all the ingredients are still present and correct. His wordplay is second to none, and despite the sparse arrangements (keyboard, guitar, occasionally at the same time) he really can get a crowd going. Particularly when he ventures over the barrier and sings amongst the crowd. This year he ended up on someone’s shoulders in a particularly wobbly-looking shoulder lift. At least some random out of the crowd didn’t get hold of the microphone again. Despite the confusion there’s still nothing quite like a Gideon Conn set. Or Gideon Conn, for that matter – one is quite enough for this world.
Catfish and the Bottlemen are astonishingly popular. I was told countless times by people that they’d bought tickets simply on the strength of their appearance. Van McCann’s words from my chat with him at Kendal a couple of years ago were still ringing in my ears: “I want to be bigger than Oasis.” Well, second on the bill here when Noel himself is headlining (a different day, but still) means that he’s still on the perfect trajectory to achieve his dream. It is difficult to objectively understand exactly what it is that Catfish do that countless bands that have gone before haven’t managed. Perhaps it simply comes down to the charisma of the frontman, because despite how well the songs work on a stage and with a crowd as big as they were blessed with here, what they’re peddling really isn’t anything new. But fair play to them – what next? Breaking America? [Something Oasis never did, did they? – Ed.]
Rudimental put on a good show. They’re a big dance band, totally professional, and remind me of Basement Jaxx‘s set on the Friday a couple of years ago. It’s really what the first night of a festival needs: big beats, big tunes, more of which you recognise than you might think, and a really good show. So you wouldn’t think it’s possible for an act to follow that? Step forward the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, led by violinist Joe Broughton. Who, if they haven’t got the prize for the most number of folk musicians on a single stage, really do deserve an honourable mention. A performance of the most remarkable power, primarily down to the sober dedication of the players – faced with a midnight crowd of hyped-up revellers, no mean feat. Their repertoire is varied, but it’s when they really let rip that their true power is unveiled. Bows fly unhinged across strings, a cajon is thwacked within an inch of its life, even the harp player throws a few shapes. There are even a couple of electric guitarists hidden in the middle somewhere, completely disguised by the swarm of instruments around them. This is traditional folk given an enormous shot in the arm. Exactly what it needs. A truly remarkable experience.
Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor are celebrating their tenth anniversary as Slow Club in 2016. TGTF’s coverage of the joint venture dates back to Slow Club’s early days in 2008, ahead of their debut album release ‘Yeah So’ in 2009. We also covered the pair in live performance around their second LP ‘Paradise’ and their subsequent appearance at SXSW 2012. My own first taste of Slow Club came two summers ago in 2014, with a review of their soulful, slow burning third album ‘Complete Surrender’.
Formerly based in their mutually native Sheffield, Slow Club have parted ways geographically while preparing their new fourth album ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore’. Watson has transitioned to a home in London, while Taylor found herself immersed in the arts community of Margate. Working with such physical distance between them might have made the already challenging task of mingling their rather disparate writing styles even more difficult than on their previous records. Taylor admits that “we weren’t as on the same page about what we wanted this time, we were sort-of blindly going into it”.
The pair attempted to resolve their disconnect by travelling to Richmond, Virginia to work with Southern soul producer Matthew E. White and his house band at Spacebomb Studios. The band’s easy, laid-back groove weaves through the entire album, lending an organic kind of cohesion to what might otherwise have been a jarring back-and-forth between Watson’s mellow detachment and Taylor’s grittier, more intensely personal songs.
Watson’s gentle vocals find a comfortable rapport with the band straight away in the first half of the album. The light, shuffling rhythm and bass groove of his track ‘Where the Light Gets Lost’, are gracefully ornamented with twinkling synth keys and gospel backing vocals, while early single ‘Ancient Rolling Sea’ features a deep, reverberant bass rhythm underpinning the languorous lilt of Watson’s vocal lead. The irony in the lyrics of his mid-album track ‘Tattoo’ (“I hear that guitar music is coming back here any day”) fit rather amusingly into the bright synth-pop bounce of the musical arrangement.
By contrast, Taylor’s vocals feel slightly awkward as she delivers the rapid-fire lines “you can tell me you’re not like this / staring down the pages of the shit you’ve missed / hoping you’ll find a way to change” of country-tinged track ‘In Waves’ (video just below). Her voice is more natural in the vocal acrobatics of the song’s chorus, but her best tracks come later on the album, including the sultry blues of ‘Give Me Some Peace’ and the hypnotic slow ballad ‘The Jinx’. The album ostensibly closes with the piercing guitar melody of ‘Let the Blade Do the Work’, but Taylor’s lead vocal makes a final statement in the eponymous hidden track ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore’.
Though the musical arrangements on ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore’ are deliberately and effectively integrated by the backing of the Spacebomb band, this album does lack the carefree fluidity of ‘Complete Surrender’. After 10 years of collaboration, Taylor and Watson now seem to be working from opposite directions, and while White’s production managed to bring them together here, I could see the pair branching out into solo projects in the near future.
Slow Club’s fourth LP ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore’ is due out next Friday, the 19th of August, on Moshi Moshi Records. TGTF’s complete previous coverage of Slow Club is right this way.
Brighton trio The Wytches have announced a new album and a coordinating set of November tour dates to go along with it. The LP, titled ‘All Your Happy Life’, is due out on the 30th of September via Heavenly Recordings. Below the tour date listing, you can listen to their brand new single ‘C-Side’, having premiered on radio earlier this week, out now.
Tickets for the following shows go on sale Thursday the 11th of August at 10 AM. In the meantime, you can check out TGTF’s previous coverage of The Wytches right back this way.
Wednesday 2nd November 2016 – Oxford Academy
Thursday 3rd November 2016 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Friday 4th November 2016 – Brighton Concorde 2
Saturday 5th November 2016 – Bristol Thekla
Monday 7th November 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 8th November 2016 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Wednesday 9th November 2016 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 10th November 2016 – Birmingham Institute
Friday 11th November 2016 – London Electric Ballroom
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