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Album Review: Knightstown – Knightstown

 
By on Tuesday, 18th September 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Knightstown album coverThe path to creation is often as important as the end product itself. In the case of Knightstown’s debut album, the songs that made it on to the record were part of an arduous 3-year songwriting process for Michael Aston. Classically trained at Oxford and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, ‘Knightstown’ represents Aston’s most ambitious effort to date as an indie electronic artist since completing his studies. It follows EP ‘Keep’, which was unveiled in the first quarter of 2018. Interestingly, although violin was the first instrument he picked up as a child, Aston’s primary instrument of choice is keyboards. This fact has already led to some inevitable but favourable comparisons to established acts like South London producer Sampha and the Mercury Prize-winning James Blake, comparisons Aston himself has welcomed.

The album smartly begins in familiar territory, with previously released single ‘First Cry’. In this track that’s just shy of 5 minutes in length, there’s plenty of time for Aston to set the tone for the rest of the record. With ‘First Cry’, he’s created a dreamy atmosphere, with his light-as-air falsetto, melodic instrumentation that never overpowers, and a compelling mechanical beat. This lovely, gentle dreaminess continues on ‘Moon’ and ‘Two Appear’, the latter of which closes the album with an additional soulful edge.

For those looking for something a bit more lively, ‘Charlatan’ is a standout, Aston upping the tempo with a staccatoing background synth melody and crunchy beats. On the super catchy, programmed beat-driven ‘Bitter End’, Aston sings, “save your tears for a stormy night”. Whether you choose to bop your head or golf-clap your hands to the rhythm, it’s definitely an earworm. Speaking of handclaps, there’s some in another previously released single, ‘Catcher’. Its cheerful tempo makes it feel like an electronic soft-shoe.

To let us know he hasn’t forgotten his classical roots, Aston has utilised lush instrumentation on a few tracks here to make us feel like we’re in the presence of an orchestra. Remembering that he’s a solo artist, this is quite the feat. On ‘Eyes Open Wide’, Aston’s voice bounces in the verses, then soars with the uplifting nuances of the arrangement. The frenetic synth notes on another album standout, ‘Come Home to Me’, take us on a ride into space, up high into the heavens. The song’s strings, however, remind us of the tune’s humanity, our debt to Aston’s musical training and of the ability of instrumentals to elicit emotion.

Some songs on Knightstown’s debut album demonstrate Aston’s ability to write gentle, atmospheric electronic dream pop. Others suggest his willingness to go in a dancier, more pop-orientated direction. Which way he chooses to go from here, we’ll definitely be listening.

8/10

Self-titled debut album ‘Knightstown’ is out now on FatCat Records. I interviewed Michael Aston at The Great Escape 2018 in Brighton in May; check out the interview from this link. All our past coverage on TGTF on his solo project Knightstown is through here.

 

Great Escape 2018 Interview: Knightstown (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 15th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Missed part 1 of this interview with Michael Aston, aka Knightstown? No worries, catch up through here.

A part of Michael Aston’s Knightstown project that can be polarising to some is his choice of using falsetto. Those familiar with and that are fans of James Blake, Jamie Woon and Wild Beasts won’t have any problem with this, but I wondered why there seems to be this tidal wave of male falsetto voices all of a sudden and how hard it can be to sing in such a higher, unnatural register for men. Aston explains there’s a mechanical method to the madness. “It can be [hard]. Actually, sometimes there’s a weird range, and there’s more than one segment to that range of the falsetto. My chest voice is up to C natural, middle C. And then there’s like a set of about six tones from there, which is the first part of the falsetto, which is my most comfortable range. It’s easier to control than the chest voice. Then when you get past G, it gets hard again, it’s gets more erratic. It’s sandwiched in between. There’s this sweet spot. You’re also needing to transition between three different registers, it can be quite challenging if you’re doing scaling.” That’s probably more than you need to know if you’ve never been a music student, but I eat all this geeky sort of music knowledge up.

Going back to his work with his cousin Tom, it turns out Aston wasn’t immediately keen on James Blake. He can look back at his time in the studio as a different kind of education, so that now he can look at Blake’s work rather intellectually. “I knew when we were making the album that my cousin Tom was a James Blake fanatic. It’s been interesting to see how long it took him (Blake) to gain currency. Mercury Prize, working with Kendrick Lamar, that kind of stuff. Personally, James Blake has been a real slow burner for me, I started out thinking, ‘this is too weird, even for me’. But I think it’s the latest album, ‘The Colour of Anything’, the more I listen to it, the more I think, ‘oh gosh, this guy knows what he’s doing’. This guy is always doing something new and doesn’t sell out at all.

“He always does something interesting. The textures of his songs are so transparent, you can pick out the different elements. You can focus on the beauty he’s created in the lines. It’s like going back to the rock counterpoint. My appreciation for him has increased exponentially, and now I’m at the point where I think he’s just an incredible musician. He’s definitely a touchstone, or a comparison for the route we were going down. At the same time, we wanted to be a bit more melodic and accessible. Melody and harmony are the two most important things to me.”

I ask Aston if he’s had a big ‘a-ha!’ moment while writing as Knightstown. “Yes, that was when I got the first draft back for a song [to be] on the album, called ‘Catcher’. That was the first time where my vision of it, when I gave all the material over to Tom, he came back [with the draft] and I remembering listening to it and going, ‘Oh! He’s on to something here. This is it!’ I’ve remained fond of that song.” He also lets me in on his favourite chord in another of his favourite songs he’s written, ‘Eyes Open Wide’, probably because it’s got layered strings, it’s almost Bjork-like…D major seventh plus nine chord in first inversion…” What’s that? That’s the sound of that bit of knowledge whizzing over my head. “Different chords give different feels.”

Much like his contemporary Chris ‘C’ Duncan who I interviewed in Washington late last year, Aston has a neverending desire to continue his artistic vision. “It’s hard to know exactly what this compulsion to write, to offer people an alternative music experience, is. You want to inject hope. I’m always interested in the artistic sweet spot between self-restraint and emotion…It’s about wanting to lift people’s spirits and find what moves them.”

There’s a lot of new music from Knightstown in the works, which is exciting: Aston tells me to expect two EPs and the debut album soon. He’s also proud of the most recent development of signing a production music contract with EMI, which has led to his first proper collaboration with live bandmate Hodson, as well as two fellow Brightonian producers, on what Aston describes as “ambient dance sort of stuff, it’s really good.” Their EP ‘Electronic Projections’, out on EMI Production Music in conjunction with FatCat, is described on the EMI Production Music as “Cool and captivating downtempo electronic offerings from the FatCat Records roster”. Intriguing. On top of radio play on BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music and Amazing Radio and garnering press with Clash Magazine and DIY, Aston feels good about how things have started for Knightstown “from having been signed from a demo”. Indeed.

The Knightstown EP ‘Keep’ is out now on FatCat Records. Many thanks to Michael for letting me pick his brain on various musical things and answering my questions about his solo project. All the best!

 

Great Escape 2018 Interview: Knightstown (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 14th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

There’s that saying that you can choose your friends but not your family. In Michael Aston’s case, it was a family connection that paid off huge dividends for the direction of his pop music career. His producer cousin Thomas is one of four children “all super talented musicians, but Thomas was the only one who wanted to pursue music as a career.” Good thing, too, because if it hadn’t been for Thomas, there might never have been a Knightstown, or at least the Knightstown that we have come to know. Aston sets the stage for us: “I started playing some of my songs to him years and years ago on the piano when he was down for a family reunion. He said, ‘oh right, cool, we should go into my studio and lay down some tracks.’ I said ‘great, let’s do it!’ And we did, and it just developed from there. That’s how we first got together.”

We’re sat in a pub in the Laines after Aston’s opening set at the FatCat Records showcase Saturday afternoon at The Great Escape 2018 in One Church, amusingly during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle off in the distance in Windsor. He is a friendly giant (hey, I’m little, remember?), an extremely affable sort. “I also tend to get on well with producers. Then tend to be organised, and laid back, and friendly, and they don’t get into a flap about things. They’re meticulous. They bring their own influences to the table. He introduced me to the likes of James Blake and Sampha. Electronica was a mystery to me until I really starting working with Thomas. And then I got steadily more into it. If you scratch below the surface, you realise people are doing incredible things. There was a lot of listening to a lot of stuff and thinking where we want to sit in that world.”

But before we delve deep into that part of his career, it’s worth noting his musical activities before he became a solo artist. Following the completion of his undergraduate degree at Oxford, Aston headed north, to Glasgow and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. It was like night and day for the young, musically-minded Aston. “The Composition Department at the Conservatoire was actually extremely open-minded. It only gradually dawned on me how open-minded it was compared to my undergrad [studies] at Oxford, which was the opposite, with very strict ideology. Pop music is just seen as the scum of the earth.” He chuckles. “Around that time, I started listening to Stevie Wonder, Elton John and the Beach Boys and I went, ‘I like this!’”

During his time studying for his M.A. in Composition in Glasgow, he was surrounded by loads of people doing loads of different, interesting things. “At the Conservatoire, there was a lot of composers doing electro acoustic, a lot of composers who are just acoustic classical, and others like Chris [Duncan, aka C Duncan] that branch off into other areas. There’s a really wide, nebulous spectrum of stuff. It was really encouraging, but that’s only rubbed off on me in retrospect.” He was given the opportunity to compose for his folk harpist friend Haley Hewitt, which we could say is where his freelance composition work first began. “Haley asked me to write a suite for pedal harp of all things, which was a cross between folk and classical. That actually got published in the States (as ‘The Valentia Suite’). It was nice to do that, it was really fun writing, as when she was out, I used to play on her harp, with her permission, of course. All of this made me realise music isn’t just one thing or another. It’s such a diverse discipline.”

Also during this time, he was recruited by fellow student Duncan to join the live band, as keyboardist, for the performance translation of C Duncan’s recorded, one-man-band music. As I often say, things happen for a reason, and nothing is coincidence. Having heard that Duncan had signed to Brighton’s FatCat Records, Aston took the chance and submitted a demo to them. “The record was written as a very studio record…I wrote the album with keys and string arrangements. We recorded them in his [Tom’s] studio, and then he went off and did his stuff. Then we sent it to FatCat. Dave Cawley (co-founder of FatCat Records) signed us and liked it.” And so it began.

Knightstown Saturday the Great Escape 2018

The next practical thing to tackle was to figure how exactly Knightstown, the recording artist was going to be translated to Knightstown, the live experience. Cawley had very specific ideas on how to go about this, and things turned out overwhelming positive for Aston. “When it came to live stuff, he [Cawley] wanted the live experience to be different than from record. He knew Matt [Hodson] because both are based in Brighton. He said, ‘I’ll ask Matt if any of his students were keen’, as Matt is a senior lecturer at BIMM [Brighton] in sound engineering and he really knows his stuff. Matt had a listen and decided he wanted to do it himself, which is such, such a win early on. The biggest worry early on was how we were going to translate these intricate arrangements in a live setting. But then once Matt came on board, he’s the perfect combination of sociable, lovely guy and absolute expert at the technical. And laidback as well, but also super organised. So he ticks all the boxes. I’ll be holding on to him for dear life for many years to come!”

Aston gave Hodson the song stems and “he started adding extra bits and worked on extending the tracks. Some of them had been a bit short. We wanted to make them more spontaneous for live sound.” He commends Hodson’s transformation of what he originally envisioned with his cousin in the confines of the studio. “He beefed them up as well, as most of them were quite minimalistic electronically in that respect, mellow. So in the live context, we also thought about Dave’s advice, as he wanted something more dynamic, beefier. So he (Matt) did that and he did such a great job: some of the tracks didn’t need much treatment, some really need a lot for live.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview with Michael Aston of Knightstown, which posts tomorrow.

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 3 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 7th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Before I’d even set foot in the country, I had already received loads of band recommendations from friends and industry folk alike on who to see at The Great Escape 2018. Many of them named artists I’d already seen, in Australia at BIGSOUND 2017, past SXSWs or elsewhere. I reminded them that the whole point of me coming out all the way from America was music discovery and finding new talent to spread the word on. My Saturday at The Great Escape 2018 ended up being a mix of new and old favourites, in some cases showing me that something familiar to me in a previous form could be made new, or at least different to what I had been accustomed to. In case you’ve forgotten already, the 19th of May 2018 was also the day of Prince Harry’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle. Being in Brighton to focus on music discovery while all that faff was going on at Windsor Castle was actually a godsend. (And no, cousins, I didn’t buy you a commemorative plate when I was in London, stop asking.)

Like Friday, I began my day again on Saturday at the decent hour of noon. Having studied classical piano at a young age, I can appreciate the value of a classical music education. Michael Aston was formerly the keyboardist of C Duncan’s live band; the two of them had met when they were studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. The Brighton-based Aston has his own solo project now, Knightstown, which Aston described to me is driven by his desire to create and to write songs.

Knightstown Saturday the Great Escape 2018 3

Live, Aston is joined by Matthew Hodson on beats and electronics, who looked awfully familiar to me. How’s this for spooky: 3 years ago when I was in Brighton last, I was sat in St. George’s Church for the Erased Tapes showcase and I struck up a geeky conversation about Rival Consoles with the bloke next to me. Yup, you guessed it, the guy was Hodson. Everything happens for a reason and when it’s supposed to. While the rest of the non-music-caring country were watching the wedding, Aston and Hodson were hard at work, opening the FatCat Records showcase at One Church. With Aston’s floaty falsetto and piano representing the old garde and synths and beats for the new, Knightstown is the beautiful symbiosis between the two. The music is equal parts reverential and inventive, exemplified by singles ‘First Cry’ and ‘Charlatan’. I’m looking forward to hearing a debut album in the future.

Of the many suggestions I received from BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway that turned into a tip of my own, I still had Vistas left to see in Brighton. The big crowd at the Hope and Ruin was proof I wasn’t the only one eager to hear the group from Edinburgh play. The guys themselves were very excited, ready to launch their newest single ‘Tigerblood’ the following Friday. For some reason, I just couldn’t get into their music, their guitars sounding tinny and lacklustre. Maybe I was standing in the wrong place? I’ll give them another chance somewhere else in the future, hopefully in a place where I can actually breathe. I’d like to see if they sound better in Scotland…

Indoor Pets Saturday the Great Escape 2018 2

A last-minute addition to the Alternative Escape line-up were indie rockers Indoor Pets (formerly Get Inuit) at a teeny, boiling upstairs room. (Starting to notice a trend here?) They were special guests on the echochamp and DICE showcase at the Western pub. This was my first chance to see them after the announcement that they’d signed to Wichita Recordings. I haven’t gotten around to tagging all my old articles here on TGTF on them with their new name, so you’re going to have to bear with me a bit longer on that. With the triumphant confidence that comes with after signing with a label (maybe I just imagined that?), the band were in fine form, blasting out ‘Barbituates’ and ‘Pro Procrastinator’ with a fury I don’t think I’ve seen from them before. Is that the triumphant confidence that comes with after signing with a label, or did I just imagine that?

Indoor Pets Saturday the Great Escape 2018 3

I try to avoid the Prince Albert venue space like the plague because every time I’ve been there during The Great Escape, it’s been sardine city. The only real place I feel comfortable is by the entrance to the room, which turned out to be a good location. I’ve seen Slow Club a few times live and feeling like that act may have run its artistic course, I thought I’d see Rebecca Taylor as Self Esteem. Why not, right? Right before her set, she’s standing next to me by the door, moaning aloud that she’s worried about how she’s going to get back onstage. She’s a polite Northerner, after all. Bless. I told her to “get in there, honey” and push people out of the way if she has to if they don’t recognise her. Add “moral support to acts” under “guitar minder” in the festivals skills section of my CV.

Self Esteem Rebecca Taylor Saturday the Great Escape 2018

Taylor finally got back onstage with her female “staff”, all resplendent in their ‘squirt not pee’ red t-shirts. Her newer, electronically and rhythmically reliant music is so different than what I consider ‘classic’ Slow Club, it’s jarring. I guess it’s been too long since I’ve seen Slow Club, I totally forgot she was a drummer. Her debut single as Self Esteem, ‘Your Wife’, has been described as a I don’t enjoy the sound as much, but I will say that regardless of how you feel about Self Esteem’s songs, you can’t deny they provide a showcase for Rebecca Taylor’s voice, which has been and will always be beautiful. I might come around on her newest project yet.

 

The Great Escape 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Tuesday, 8th May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on The Great Escape 2018 taking place next week is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the festival’s official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Three-day wristbands for the event in Brighton 17-19 May are still available at the price of £70 plus handling if purchased online; delegate passes that include both access to the daytime industry convention and all music showcases are available at the price of £275 plus handling. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available from The Great Escape official Web site. If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview of The Great Escape, it’s through here.

As mentioned in part 1 of my Live at Leeds best bets preview, and alluded to in part 2 as well, there are quite a few acts that appeared this past weekend at Live at Leeds and/or Liverpool Sound City that will also be appearing next week at the Great Escape in Brighton.

Bad Sounds (Friday 11:15 PM, Horatio’s)
Black Futures (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Green Door Store)
Boy Azooga (Thursday, 12:00 PM, Latest Music Bar; 2:00 PM, Dr. Martens stage; 9:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
Cassia (Friday, 12:45 AM, The Hope and Ruin)
Hollow Coves (Thursday, 12:45 PM, Komedia Studio Bar and 10:15 PM, The Old Courtroom)
Knightstown (Saturday, 12:15 PM, One Church)
Lady Bird (Friday, 2:15 PM, Dr. Martens stage and 10:15 PM, The Walrus)
Rascalton (Thursday, 1:00 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
SHEAFS (Saturday, 8:45 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
The Ninth Wave (Thursday, 3:30 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 9:30 PM, The Haunt; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
The Orielles (Thursday, 2:30 PM, Beach House and 9:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Tors (Friday, 6:45 PM, St. Mary’s Church)
Vistas (Saturday, 2:30 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
whenyoung (Thursday, 6:30 PM, The Haunt)
Zapatilla (Thursday, 10:15 PM, The Walrus)

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw in March in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at the Great Escape. They’re sorted by alphabetical order, as some of the acts who are bigger draws are appearing more than once, so organising the list by first appearance may not necessarily be useful to you.

All Our Exes Live in Texas (Thursday, 12:10 PM, Komedia [Aussie BBQ stage]; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Dermot Kennedy (Thursday, 9:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Friday, 4:00 PM, Beach Club; Friday, 10:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre)
Dream Wife (Thursday, 8:45 PM, Beach Club)
Her’s (Friday, 1:00 PM, Beach House; Friday, 10:15 PM, Horatio’s)
IDLES (Thursday 10:00 PM, Beach Club)
Jealous of the Birds (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 2:00 PM, Jubilee Square)
Jerry Williams (Thursday, 7:45 PM, Hope and Ruin; Saturday, 12:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Joshua Burnside (Friday, 1:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar [Output Belfast stage]; Saturday, 12:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Let’s Eat Grandma (Friday, 9:15 PM, The Old Market)
Lo Moon (Friday, 8:30 PM, Coalition)
Mansionair (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Komedia)
ONR (Friday, 8:30 PM, Paganini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
Pale Waves (Thursday, 7:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Thursday, 11:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Rachel K Collier (Friday, 12:20 PM, Latest Music Bar [Horizons / Gorwelion showcase)
Sam Fender (Friday, 2:30 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 8:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre; Saturday, 1:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Stella Donnelly (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Komedia; Friday, 7:45 PM, Unitarian Church; Saturday, 1:20 PM, Dr. Martens stage)
Superorganism (Friday, 10:15 PM, The Old Market)
Ten Tonnes (Friday, 6:30 PM, Coalition; Friday, 10:45 PM, Paginini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
The Homesick (Friday, 2:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
The Spook School (Thursday, 12:15 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Saturday, 8:30 PM Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)
TOUTS (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 3:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)

::gasps:: Okay, so now that we’ve gotten all those shining stars with loads of potential out of the way, I’m going to focus on five additional acts in this post. I’ve chosen those from the pool of acts appearing at The Great Escape but who did not appear at Live at Leeds last Saturday.

Basement Revolver (indie rock / lo-fi; Hamilton, Canada; 2:15 PM, Green Door Store; 6:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
One of the upshots of attending The Great Escape is that it has arguably the most international line-up of any emerging music festival in the UK. Female-fronted Basement Revolver is one of a handful of acts having travelled thousands of miles to Brighton, besides the Aussies, of course. Bringing their reverb-heavy guitar chords and the sweet voice of Chrisy Hurn, they’ll have two chances on Thursday to wow Brighton crowds.

CRIMER (synthpop / dance; Switzerland; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 1:30 PM, Bau Wow)
You a fan of Depeche Mode’s beats and Dave Gahan’s sultry drawl? I’m gonna put it out there and say you’re gonna love CRIMER from the Continent. The Great Escape blurb presumably supplied by him describes his look as pure boyband, but don’t let his hair parting put you off. Seems a bit strange that they have him on early Friday afternoon (I’d suggest you see him on the Thursday night instead) but hey, maybe he can turn Bau Wow into a sweaty disco before the 2 o’clock hour. Wait and see!

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West (punk; Glasgow; Friday, 12:30 PM, One Church and 7:15 PM, Green Door Store; 9:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
I think it’s come time in this list to bring in something more subversive. I guess I don’t think of Glasgow as being very punk: perhaps it’s because both times I’ve visited, everyone’s been super nice to me, including the very large man with a very large ginger beard who shared a table with me at Nice and Sleazys. But I digress. Quoting their TGE bio directly, “Donald Trump and Theresa May watch out! The Revolution will be well dressed and speaking in Glaswegian.” RAWR.

Franc Moody (funk / dance; London; Friday, 2:40 PM, Beach House)
Not a guy from France, phew! No, Franc Moody is a London collective bringing da funk and da dance to Brighton’s seaside. Apparently they have been doing this for a while, in so-called ‘infamous’ (::giggles thinking of Three Amigos:: ) warehouse parties in Tottenham. Friday afternoon at TGE is oddly full of dance acts, so I can only hope that no matter what the weather, Franc Moody (and everyone else for that matter) can manage to get bodies bumpin’ before official wine o’clock.

Saint Raymond (pop; Nottingham; Thursday, 3:30 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
This singer/songwriter has already been out on the road with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin, Ed Sheeran and HAIM, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Callum Burrows’ style of music is firmly in the pop genre. Burrows blends a synth-driven ‘80s sound with feel good pop lyrics. Apparently in the early days back home in Notts, lazy journos compared him to local acts Jake Bugg and Dog is Dead. No more.

 

Live at Leeds 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets (part 1)

 
By on Monday, 30th April 2018 at 11:00 am
 

This year’s Live at Leeds 2018 best bets preview will be longer than past years because a lot of the acts (more than in past years, I reckon!) will also appear at Liverpool Sound City or The Great Escape, or both. As a result, I listened to ever band on the Live at Leeds schedule, then cross-referenced the lists so you, the music discoverer, can find them at another event if applicable. The Great Escape will take place in Brighton in 2 weeks’ time, and I am planning to post a Great Escape-specific best bets that will pick up anyone exemplary that I wouldn’t have written about here if they aren’t appearing in Leeds. Hope that all makes sense! If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview on Live at Leeds 2018, follow this link.

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on Live at Leeds 2018 is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2018 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds this Saturday, the 5th of May are still available at the bargain price of £36 plus handling if purchased online; early bird and VIP tickets are now sold out. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw last month in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at Live at Leeds this coming Saturday. For your convenience, I’ve listed them in order of appearance on the day so you can slot them into your growing schedule.

IDLES (12:00 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Superorganism (2:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
ONR (5:00 PM, Lending Room)
The RPMs (5:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Dermot Kennedy (6:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Sam Fender (6:15 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Stella Donnelly (7:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
TOUTS (7:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Fizzy Blood (7:15 PM, Key Club)
Spring King (7:15 PM, Leeds Beckett main stage)
Ten Tonnes (7:30 PM, Leeds Church, Dork stage)
Yak (8:30 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Blaenavon (8:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Her’s (9:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
The Vaccines (9:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Wildwood Kin (9:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
The Xcerts (9:30 PM, Key Club)
Pale Waves (11:15 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])

Apollo Junction (electropop; Leeds; 12:00 PM, Trinity stage)
This band from North Yorkshire have been knocking around for the last 6 years with their brand of electropop and somehow, I have only discovered them now. Precious little is available online about them but according to this article, they enjoy Yorkshire Tea and fat rascals at Betty’s, which wins them bonus points in my book. Check them out before an A&R stumbles on them and they get whisked off to bigger venues.

The Orielles (garage rock; Halifax; 12:00 PM, Holy Trinity Church, CLASH stage)
We’ve featured The Orielles over the last 5 years on TGTF, so you’re probably wondering why would I include them here. They released their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ in February on Heavenly Recordings, and the LP has received accolades, including from The Guardian (“this album is a masterclass in how to produce guitar music that feels anything but futile: by making it specific, strange and superior to much of what’s come before.”). We knew them before they was and now you can enjoy them as a special guest at Live at Leeds. NB: They will also be appearing at Liverpool Sound City later on Saturday at the District and The Great Escape in a fortnight’s time, performing twice on Thursday the 17th of May.

SHEAFS (rock; 1:00 PM, Hyde Park Social Club)
The River Sheaf flows through Sheffield, so I’d fathom a guess that this group of Sheffield Hallam University graduates named themselves after it. This is a band with that snotty punk attitude and muscular guitar rock to back it up. They’ve been selling out venues in the UK and across the Continent, and it seems this is merely the beginning for them. NB: They will be performing at The Great Escape Saturday night the 19th of May at Hope and Ruin.

Tors (folk; Devon; 1:00 PM, Chapel)
Changing gears to a more conventional singer/songwriter outfit, my ears happened upon Tors, a quartet from Devon who amIACre miles away from the region’s most famous musical export Muse. Equally adept at a cappella four-part harmony and sweeping, guitar-driven, folky soundscapes ala Fleet Foxes and Goldheart Assembly, they’re for those interested in a slower, yet richer musical experience. NB: Tors appear Friday night the 18th of May at St. Mary’s Church at The Great Escape.

The Snuts (rock; Whitburn, West Lothian; 2:15 PM, Key Club)
I imagine most bands from Scotland are asked if they are from Glasgow or Edinburgh. The Snuts are from Whitburn, West Lothian, smack dab in between the two. I reckon they must favour Glasgow, as they’ve named a song after it that’s already hit over 440,000 streams on Spotify. No wonder: they’ve got that feel good guitar rock vibe going that everyone loves. Well, most everyone, right?

Black Futures (rock / electronic; London; 3:15 PM, Key Club)
Love psych rock? Love electronic? Hate that the two genres are never together in one band? Fear no more. Black Futures from London are a duo that have somehow successfully melded the two, giving each its due. A band after my own heart. NB: Black Futures will appear at the Great Escape Thursday the 17th of May at Green Door Store.

Hollow Coves (folk; Brisbane, Australia; 4:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
Folk duo Hollow Coves will be travelling quite a distance for Live at Leeds. They hail from the hometown of BIGSOUND, the picturesque Queensland port city of Brisbane. You can expect angelically beautiful harmonies from the acoustically inclined folk duo. NB: Hollow Coves will appear twice on Thursday the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Knightstown (electronic; Brighton via Glasgow; 4:00 PM, Headrow House [NME stage])
In a previous life, Michael Aston was a freelance composer and the keyboardist in C Duncan’s live band. Over the last few years, he’s been making music of his own under the name Knightstown. Aston’s swirly, emotional falsetto vocals float over his electronic compositions, drawing him favourable comparisons to Jamie Woon. He’ll provide an atmospheric performance that will be in sharp contrast to most of the other performances in Leeds on Saturday. NB: He will perform Saturday the 19th of May at The Great Escape as part of the FatCat Records showcase.

The Indigo Project (indie rock; Leeds; 4:00 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
I always like a good local band getting the opportunity to showcase at the festival in their own hometown. The Indigo Project are also no strangers to Live at Leeds, having played the event last year. Jangly, bright guitar pop guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

whenyoung (pop-punk; London via Limerick, Ireland; 4:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
Pop-punk may have been borne out of the Noughties, but it’s still alive and kicking. Female-fronted whenyoung, Irish transplants in the Capital, recall the peppiness of Avril Lavigne while sitting nicely alongside acts like Dream Wife and False Advertising. NB: whenyoung are scheduled to play at the Haunt on Thursday night the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Lady Bird (punk; Kent; 4:15 PM, Key Club)
Slaves and Drenge got the party going on political punk a few years ago, and the UK has never looked back since. With IDLES and LIFE performing at back to back SXSWs the past 2 years, it seems likely that their buddies from the South East, Lady Bird, will get an invite to Austin soon enough. Signed to fellow Kent natives Slaves’ Girl Fight Records, their future in releasing the kind of informed punk they want is bright. NB: Lady Bird appear at the Great Escape twice on Friday the 18th of May.

Tremors (synthpop; UK/French band based in London; 4:30 PM, Brudenell Social Club Community Room [DIY Neu stage])
Tremors are two Englishmen and a Frenchman from Marseille who somehow came together with the notion that they were going to meld French electropop and New Wave and they were going to do it on their own. So far, they’ve only released a series of singles, including this year’s two heart-pumping tunes, ‘Technicolour’ and ‘Broken Glass’. As an unashamed fan of synthpop in all its guises, Tremors are a unique curiosity worth your time at Live at Leeds.

Stay tuned for the next part of this preview on Live at Leeds 2018. Hopefully tomorrow!

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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