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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 13th September 2016 at 9:00 am
Iconic British fashion brand Dr. Martens have just announced Formation, Paigey Cakey and VANT as the first three headliners on its Stand for Something Tour 2016. A fourth, for a show in London scheduled for the last Saturday of November (and somebody’s birthday, hint hint) is yet to be announced.
Twins Matt and Will Ritson, better known as dance duo Formation (pictured at top), will begin the series of #SFSTOUR16 on the 15th of October in Liverpool. On their participation in with the Stand for Something Tour, they said, “Formation means people coming together to express or celebrate something great. So we stand for a lot of things but ultimately it’s about standing together”.
Following the footsteps of Lady Leshurr, Hackney MC and actress Paigey Cakey, will perform on the tour on the last Saturday of October at the courtyard of Birmingham Rainbow. When asked what she stands for, her reply was: “I stand for myself, for one, but I wanna be the voice of the young people. I want to stand for the youth; I want to stand for something that means something. I feel like the youth of today need role models to look up to, so I want to stand for them.”
When asked the same question, politically charged band VANT replied, “We stand for equality, awareness of the environmental concerns of this planet and a better education for all of our children.” VANT released their EP ‘Karma Seeker’ last month. Of all the artists chosen to represent the strength of solidarity, Mattie Vant’s lyrics demonstrate well the strength of a dissenting voice during these uncertain times.
To purchase tickets to the Dr. Martens Stand for Something Tour 2016, visit the Dr. Martens’ official Web site.
Saturday 15th October 2016 – Liverpool Scandinavian Church starring Formation
Saturday 29th October 2016 – Birmingham Rainbow Courtyard starring Paigey Cakey
Saturday 12th November 2016 – Newcastle Cluny starring VANT
Saturday 26th November 2016 – London (headliner and location TBA)
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 12th September 2016 at 6:00 pm
Mullingar, Ireland band The Academic will be playing a handful of live dates in England in October. In addition to those we previously announced here on TGTF, the band will also be making an appearance (appearances?) in Manchester on the 8th of October during Neighbourhood Festival. You can check out their other dates on the Continent next month, plus their Irish dates in December, here.
Last month, the Academic released their single ‘Mixtape 2003’, which now finally has its own promo video. Some live shots are mixed in with images suggesting the clever wit of the band, which I imagine will reveal itself more as their career progresses. A smart way of making a video without breaking the band and showing the band’s personality, watch the video for ‘Mixtape 2003’ below. You can read Aine’s review of the the group’s single through this link.
The social savant that is Jamie T has returned with what could possibly be his best work yet. ‘Trick’ is a walkthrough all that makes British music great. From the electronically pounding opener of ‘Tinfoil Boy’ to the closer ‘Self Esteem’, which recalls the building grandiosity found with bands such as The Last Shadow Puppets, this is an artist who can do it all with such ease. Being such a musical chameleon, switching from punk-laden tracks to those with an obvious hip-hop influence is no trouble at all for Jamie T. ‘Drone Strike’ has a fast-paced rhythm with which he easily keeps the pace. It’s when the chorus hits that the actual power of the song becomes apparent. A thunderous strike of “watch out for the drones, drones, drones” builds the unforgiving nature of the track.
As the album progresses through, one of the more prominent influences clear on the album are The Clash. This is apparent once you hit ‘Tescoland’. Even the title is reminiscent of ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ from the untouchable ‘London Calling’. The latter concerns Mick Jones’ formative years and his feeling of being lost at home, whereas Jamie T utilises this metaphor as a reference to his home of England and how he runs away to America to escape heartbreak but can never escape ‘Tescoland’ if you live in Britain.
Purposefully or not, this comparison shows Jamie T’s penchant for influence and bringing it into the modern world. Later track ‘Robin Hood’ also bears resemblance to ‘Hateful’ from ‘London Calling’. As suggested by the song’s namesake, ‘Robin Hood’ refers to a lifestyle choice made by the song’s protagonist to fight for those less fortunate, an ethos gallantly represented by the entirety of The Clash’s discography, not to mention the outro that features Jamie T enthusiastically screaming ‘everybody loves a bank robber” repeatedly (‘Bankrobber’ was a Clash track that featured only on the band’s 1980 compilation EP ‘Super Black Market Clash’.)
Both previously released singles, ‘Tinfoil Boy’ and ‘Power Over Men’, are brilliant excerpts to introduce the makeup of the album. ‘Tinfoil Boy’, as mentioned previously, is an introduction to the album that leaves no doubts in your mind that ‘Trick’ will be anything but boring. From the sampled intro that Jamie T utilises so well through his back catalogue, to the pounding electronically charged chorus, it’s a trigger to this major new weapon in his arsenal It’s in ‘Power Over Men’ that the classic songwriting and straight instrumentation becomes apparent as a major strength in Jamie T’s arsenal: a straightforward beat, glittering guitar sections and lyrics that strike. The focus here is upon a female protagonist’s control over men through her natural instincts, much like a call girl.
It’s through lyrical content such as this where Jamie T shines. His entire back catalogue is rife with tales and stories of the darker side of life. Much like Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines, it’s done with projected sincerity, almost as if the stories are directly from his own life. ‘Joan of Arc’ carries this through, with a protagonist who is no doubt a character from his personal experience. It’s fully reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, both in the jumpy hook and lyrical content that also concerns a female who comes to terms with her life through a retrospective narrative.
Each of the songs on ’Trick’ deserves its own essay, as the depths you can find in a Jamie T song is truly staggering. By far, the most personal sounding is ‘Sign of The Times’. You can hear the raw feeling that he sings of his personal experience starting in the industry in 2007, a year famed for being the midst of the landfill Indie era. With this time came a change in social attitudes and an eventual growth that saw the generation living it grow out of it, just as the genre that encapsulated it did. What Jamie T does here is portray his personal experience of living and surviving this time, wishing he could go back and change his own path. It become a song to truly evoke an extreme emotional response, with the guitar that leads it reminiscent of the sound you might find in a teenager’s bedroom. The guitar is only accompanied by bass, leaving a whole spectrum uncovered, pushing the emptiness found in the lyrics forward.
In its full form, ‘Trick’ just goes to prove that Jamie T is a gem amongst the British music crowd. Where his past and current contemporaries that were mentioned earlier in this review have developed into versions of themselves that are no longer recognisable compared to what they were in their more formative years, Jamie T somehow manages to continue exuding the charm and realness that he’s shown since day one.
Jamie T’s fourth album ‘Trick’ is out now on Virgin EMI. To read our past coverage on Jamie T on TGTF, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 12th September 2016 at 10:00 am
Just under a month to go now before Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 kicks off in Dublin. Ireland’s annual massive music showcase and industry conference will take place 6-8 October across venues in the city centre, both north and south of the River Liffey. Since its first year in 2003, the music showcase portion of the event has played host to rising stars who have since become household names, including the twice Mercury Prize-nominated and Choice Music Prize and Ivor Novello award winner Villagers, Hozier, Girl Band, Fight Like Apes, The Coronas and The Strypes.
This year’s line-up featuring amazing homegrown talent looks to be Hard Working Class Heroes’ strongest yet. There are several names on the over 100-act strong bill that will be familiar to regular TGTF readers. From Portadown, SXSW 2016 alum Jealous of the Birds will no doubt be playing her single ‘Goji Berry Sunset’, which became a playlist staple for BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne and Radio 2’s Jo Whiley following her appearance in Austin. Limerick’s Rusangano Family proved to be one of the most exciting draws at SXSW 2016, stopping (foot) traffic down 6th Street during their performance Friday at the full Irish breakfast. Other names that might ring a bell include CMW 2016 showcasing acts Comrade Hat (Derry), Elm (Dublin), Fangclub (Dublin) and Search Party Animal (formerly known as Bagels; Dublin). 2016 also sees the beginning of Hard Working Class Heroes’ 3-year project to build audiences between Ireland and Iceland. Wesen and aYia from the Nordic country will be showcasing as well.
For those of us who work in the industry, the convention will continue its long-running tradition of events and activities to help further our goals in supporting talent include mentor sessions, workshops and much more. The convention will be a fantastic opportunity for international delegates, Irish bands and domestic music industry professionals to meet face-to-face and make important contacts. 2016 will also be the inaugural year for the Conor Walsh Memorial Bursary in honour of an alumni and friend of the festival who died suddenly earlier this year. All 100 bands participating will be asked to vote for the act who most embodies Walsh’s talent and bravery. The winning act will be awarded €2,500 toward a recording or tour bill.
So what are you waiting for? Weekend tickets are currently on sale for €45, with nightly and individual venue tickets priced at €20 and €10, respectively. Weekend student tickets will be available for purchase for €25 upon proof of photo ID on Thursday 6th October from the box office at Film Base, Curved Street. To purchase your tickets, download the DICE app for your phone or visit this page on the official HWCH Web site. The stage splits for the 3-day music showcase have been announced, and you can view each day’s lineup in the video below.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 9th September 2016 at 6:00 pm
Sleaford Mods don’t mind telling it like it is. It’s clearly working: Iggy Pop named them “undoubtedly, absolutely, definitely the world’s greatest rock n roll band”. The Nottingham duo comprises the lyrical genius of Jason Williamson set to Andrew Fearn’s music, and they’re gearing up for a new release next month. The five-track ‘T.C.R.’ EP will be out on the 14th of October on Rough Trade Records, with whom the pair signed to earlier this year. ‘T.C.R.’ stands for total control racing, which Williamson uses as an analogy to a dead-end life with great effect. He explains the song and its new accompanying video:
The idea behind the T.C.R. video was to show and use the actual 1980’s toy racing kit in its original environment, which would of most probably been the living room floor for most kids at that time. It’s a pretty crap device, and I thought it married perfectly to the idea of life’s (at times) rotating dross. The narration/vocal over the song is just that, an account of a bloke reacting to what he feels is a routine laden existence by ‘escaping’ for the night to the pub only to realize this is also a limited experience and in turn, all options kind of merge into a circular experience of never ending repetition that he tries to navigate.
The epitome of a simple DIY video that does what it says on the tin, you can watch the promo video for ‘T.C.R.’ below. For more of TGTF’s coverage on Sleaford Mods, go here.
Twin Atlantic have gone back to their roots in more ways than one with their new album ‘GLA’. The title itself makes that fact very apparent: GLA is the airport code for Glasgow Airport, which was the band’s point of reference in writing the songs that would eventually become their third full length record. While the Glaswegian band did the songwriting entirely at home for this album, their perspectives on “home” clearly reflect the time they’ve spent away as well.
Musically, ‘GLA’ is a return to Twin Atlantic’s alt-rock origins. And before I continue with what might be an overly analytical review, let me just be clear: this is, above all else, a rock album. The volume and adrenaline levels are both high, especially on the first half of the record. Crunchy guitars, pounding drums and growling bass combine with fast tempos, driving rhythms and angst-filled lyrics in a pure and highly-satisfying alt-rock fashion. (As an aside, if you’re looking for some high octane music to help you grit your way through a tough workout, this album does the job nicely.)
Opening track ‘Gold Elephant Cherry Alligator’ packs a heavy first punch, screeching through concise, stream-of-consciousness style lyrical phrases inspired by divergent, yet symbolically meaningful literary sources. The “gold elephant” in the title comes from a book of travel photos that lead singer Sam McTrusty bought while the band were away from home in Los Angeles, while the “cherry alligator” is drawn from a children’s book that was read to him when he was growing up in Glasgow.
Early single ‘No Sleep’ is followed by the anything-but-subtle track ‘You Are the Devil’, whose lyrics border on the cliché (“your sickness is the thing I need . . . your evil brings me to my knees”) and the surprisingly melodic ‘Overthinking’, where the pulsing rhythm of the chorus and McTrusty’s vocal delivery both shine. Second single ‘Ex El’ is expansive and anthemic, while ‘Valhalla’ is darker and weightier, but with a bit of a sultry swagger in the bass.
The second half of ‘GLA’ digs a little deeper into Twin Atlantic’s psyche, which is possibly why several of the songs appealed to my typical singer/songwriter leanings. The lyrics to ‘Whispers’, written by bassist Ross McNae, are among the most poignant on the album, and their emotionality is exquisitely matched by McTrusty’s vocal in the chorus: “if you think dying is the easy part / leaving life behind’s the thing that’s hard / dying was the easy part / there’s nothing left in the end / so journey far”. By far the album’s quietest moment, ‘A Scar to Hide’ is notable again for McTrusty’s vocals, but also for the effectiveness of its relatively austere instrumental arrangement, which includes strings orchestrated by Coldplay collaborator Davide Rossi.
‘GLA’ closes with two songs that bring the focus squarely back to where Twin Atlantic came from. ‘The Chaser’ is a fuzzed out punk rock ode to McNae and McTrusty’s earliest musical influences, which happens to include a chorus and bridge that fairly beg for lusty live singalongs. The album ends on a strong note with the sensual and gritty recent single ‘Mothertongue’, which McNae describes as being ultimately about “speaking in your own voice and being proud of where you’re from”.
Whether or not Twin Atlantic would describe ‘GLA’ as a comeback album, it feels like a triumphant return to form for the Scottish alt-rockers. Its organic, visceral rock appeal is underlaid with a surprising display of musical subtlety and complexity, particularly as the album progresses. ‘GLA’ will certainly excite early fans of the Twin Atlantic, but is sure to garner a fair few new ones as well, with myself firmly counted among those.
‘GLA’, the third LP from Twin Atlantic, is out today on Red Bull Records. The band will soon embark on a tour of the UK and Ireland in support of the album; you can find the details here. TGTF’s full past coverage of Twin Atlantic, including a recent interview with bassist Ross McNae, is collected just through here.
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