Category Archives: Reviews

This is what it looked like when Royal Blood rocked Cambridge!

Back in April, Brighton rockers Royal Blood announced an intimate four-date UK tour during May. The band look set to smash this year with the upcoming release of their second album How Did We Get So Dark? and a massive UK arena tour lined up later this year.

I headed down to the Cambridge Corn Exhange to join in with the hype

Personally, I find Royal Blood nothing short of remarkable, the band consists of only bassist, Mike Kerr and drummer, Ben Thatcher. However, despite only being a duo the band are able to create some seriously killer sounds which set Cambridge alight with the flames of pure and gritty hard rock.

This was reflected in the audience; a mix of the young, possibly attending their first concert and the old(er), proving that Royal Blood have managed to rack up a massive fan base in the mere 4 years they’ve been together. The atmosphere at the concert was wild with people relentlessly moshing and singing along to every lyric.

Royal Blood have succeeded in igniting immense anticipation in as to where the band will go next. I cannot wait to see what new heights the upcoming arena tours will bring to them!

Words and photos by Lucy Kingsford

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NEW MUSIC: PLAY ME – BABY STRANGE

Glasgow trio ‘Baby Strange’ released their debut album ‘Want It Need It’ last year, and now they’ve just provided us with another taste of what’s to come with the release of their latest single, ‘Play Me’.

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‘Play Me’, the second single to be taken from the EP, has followed in the successful footsteps of ‘Motormind’, providing 2 minutes and 28 seconds of intense rock ‘n’ roll. The band seems to be looking to step things up, with new music due in July and some new shows on the cards.

‘Play Me’ brings all the essential elements together to make it a promising contender to be a brilliant live track. The electric riffs and underlying rumbling bass, combined with the punk-style vocals, creates a dynamic demonstration of everything this band has to offer.

‘Baby Strange’ possess an unmatchable ability to finish their tracks on such a sudden end that it simply leaves you wanting more. Previously observed on material such as ‘Want It Need It’ and ‘Distance Yourself’, ‘Play Me’ continues this trend.

Their fierce, punk attitude and raw talent, as well as their electric live performance, sets them up to be one of Scotland’s most exciting talents.

Catch them on their upcoming tour:

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Written by Harriet / @yellowdaffodilx

NEW MUSIC: YOUR LOVE – THE MAGIC GANG

Brighton four-piece, ‘The Magic Gang’, have recently released their latest single ‘Your Love’, premiered on BBC Radio 1.

The band only released one single in 2015 – ‘No Fun’ with its flip-side ‘Alright’ – but by nabbing a spot supporting the reputable ‘Wolf Alice’ and ‘Swim Deep’, they were helped in securing a place on the lists of ‘2016 ones to watch’.

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Since then, ‘The Magic Gang’ have embarked on their own headline tour, as well as supporting the incredible ‘Circa Waves’, arguably enlarging their ever growing fan-base even further.

Live, ‘The Magic Gang’ are phenomenal; capturing the attention of any audience as they put on a fun, upbeat performance.

‘Your Love’ was premiered on Mistajam’s BBC Radio 1 show on Tuesday night and since then has gained considerable support. The catchy chorus and somewhat relatable lyrics, combined with that little something that only the ‘The Magic Gang’ can bring, makes for an incredible track.

“Got a lot of things to do, like talk to you.”

Image result for your love ep magic gang

Their infectious feel-good alt-rock, reminiscent of bands such as ‘Blossoms’, is perfect music to kick back and relax to in the sunshine.

‘The Magic Gang’ are heading all over the place this summer, with festival appearances all over the place, and even one headline show. Catch them in the UK in:

July

  • 1st – Barn On The Farm
  • 12th – Tunbridge Wells, Forum (headline show)
  • 16th – Latitude
  • 22nd – Truck Festival
  • 23rd – Tramlines Festival
  • 28th – Y Not Festival

August

  • 23rd – Guildford, Boileroom (headline show)
  • 25th – Reading Festival (NME / BBC Radio 1 Stage)
  • 26th – Leeds Festival (NME / BBC Radio 1 Stage)

September

  • 10th – Bestival

Written by Harriet / @yellowdaffodilx

NEW MUSIC: LET ME LOVE YOU – COASTS

Five-piece ‘Coasts’ from Bristol have just released their latest single ‘Let Me Love You’, another taste of new music after their debut album.

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Previously, ‘Coasts’ have been said to have several huge feel-good hits, such as ‘Oceans’, which was released in 2014. The single received support from Greg James and Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, earning them a place on the line up for Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Glasgow. The band followed this up with a sold out show at Dingwalls in Camden, and were then named as iTunes ‘Ones to Watch’ in July 2014.

In 2015, they headlined London’s Scala and KOKO. They performed at Californian music festival Coachella in April, and played the Reading and Leeds Festivals in the UK in August.

coasts

Their debut album, ‘Coasts’, was released in January 2016 and received mixed reviews. Their music provided many a daytime radio banger, but on the other hand, it seemed everything unique about the band had been squeezed out and replaced with one-dimensional hits, sounding just too similar to one another.

Upon the release of ‘Let Me Love You’, similar thoughts have been echoed; critics unsure on whether the catchy lyrics and upbeat rhythms outweigh the ‘just another pop-rock song’ feeling.

Whatever your opinion on the quality of the music itself, it is undeniably a summer sing-a-long hit, perfect for those lazy days in the sun.

‘Coasts’ are heading out on a UK tour soon if you want to check them out:

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Written by Harriet / @yellowdaffodilx

NEW MUSIC: BEAM ME UP – DARLIA

Blackpool four-piece Darlia have recently released their latest single ‘Beam Me Up’, following their last single ‘Ballad of Black & White’.

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The song was produced by Darlia’s vocalist and main songwriter Nathan Day and Frank Colucci. ‘Beam Me Up’ is about the catharsis of song writing. Nathan states, “I wrote this song because I can’t afford a therapist. I’m lucky that writing songs is a legitimate coping mechanism”.

It is clear that ‘Beam Me Up’ is a method of self-expression and unearthing emotions, as lyrics such as “I’m a broken doll” imply.

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Nathan said, “I think no one wants to talk about how they feel cos they’re scared people will judge them. Sadly, that’s part of the f**king problem. I’m scared too, but this is what that songs about – so f**k it”.

It seems like ‘Beam Me Up’ is a cry for change, for us to acknowledge people are hurting and that we need to do something about it.

Ahead of their headline tour in October, they’ll be supporting ‘Twin Atlantic’ on their UK tour in May, and will also be playing a number of festivals including:

  • The Great Escape
  • Community Festival
  • Tenement Trail

Image result for beam me up darlia

 

Written by Harriet / @yellowdaffodilx

 

 

 

 

GIG REVIEW: Maxïmo Park // De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill-On-Sea

Another excellent live band, another gig in an obscure seaside town for me. I don’t know how I end up in these far flung parts of the country, but there I was. The venue itself was actually not too bad, although I’m never sitting down at a gig again (note to self, buy the tickets before all the standing sells out).

Although I arrived halfway through the support act, PINS, I was really impressed. I would recommend checking out these Manchester gals if you haven’t already. Everything from their gritty sound to their onstage look was a massive plus in my eyes.

With a band as energetic and lively as Maxïmo Park, it’s a real sense of pit envy when you watch everyone downstairs dancing along with Paul ‘Snakehips’ Smith to Our Velocity and Apply Some Pressure. However, the band themselves were big enough and loud enough to reach even us on the balcony. Old bangers, primarily from the first two albums, still gained the biggest reaction from the audience, especially The Coast Is Always Changing, but the new singles What Did We Do To You To Deserve This? and Risk To Exist, the first two songs of the set, still exploded onstage.

Rumour has it that Paul Smith, the lead singer, wears reinforced trousers onstage to stop them from splitting when he leaps up into the air. Whilst I have seen him do this before, this gig was leap-free, but no less exciting. As a frontman, it’s clear that he’s passionate about his music and his performance, as well as humble. Cracking jokes with the audience, dancing like there isn’t a hall full of people with their eyes only on him, and graciously thanking us for our support, Smith is a consistently brilliant frontman, a very key part of what makes Maxïmo Park a consistently brilliant live band.

Touring their new album, Risk To Exist, it’s clear that the band have gone in a much more political direction with their music, singing about the refugee crisis, inequality and the increasingly apparent right-wing agenda in global politics today. Although I wasn’t as familiar with the new album as I was with the first 4, hearing these new songs live really made me warm to them. I think the truest test of this came at the end of the encore, when the band finished with another new single Get High (No, I Don’t), a seemingly anti-drugs song. A square subject matter for a rock band? Perhaps. But whether you actually did get high before/after the gig or you’re teetotal, the whole audience lapped up this punchy track and continued their chants of “Maxïmo, Maxïmo” until well after the last chord.

LIVE REVIEW: The Kooks – O2 Academy Bournemouth

The Kooks are nearly at the end of their (completely sold out) ‘The Best Of’ tour, and I had the absolute pleasure of being able to see them in Bournemouth on May 6th. The well loved foursome have been playing all over the country this past month as they build up to the release of their new album ‘The Best Of… So Far’ on May 19th.

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The set featured all of The Kooks’ most loved songs; and the crowd were ecstatic for every song. The sold-out night had a mix of old favourites, B-Sides and even some new songs. I overheard one guy say “This song is such a banger!”, and his friend simply replied; “Mate, all their songs are bangers!”, which I think is a perfect description! Crowd favourites definitely included ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, ‘Always Where I Need To Be’, and ‘Junk Of The Heart (Happy)’. I personally loved the acoustic song ‘Seaside’ because whilst listening to it – everyone singing and swaying along – I could see how much the audience loved the band. I think it portrayed what music is really about – building a relationship between fans and performers whilst delivering a message and the sense of unity.

High energy and groovy songs got the crowd dancing and the entire night was a really fun and happy experience. Nostalgia filled the air throughout, as fans heard their favourite songs from 10 years ago being performed, but it’s safe to say that those songs are probably still favourites to this day! The gig ended on arguably the bands’ most popular and well known song – ‘Naive’.

After 13 years of being a band, The Kooks have really sustained such a solid and great fan base, and there was a whole lot of love and appreciation in the 1800 capacity venue that night.

The Kooks have just announced that they will be going on tour again in November and December of 2017, and I highly recommend going to see them as it was a great experience! Tickets go on sale Friday 12th May.

Words by Jodie Aikman

In Conversation With Brownbear

We spoke to the lead singer of Brownbear, Matthew Hickman, about Michael Jackson, musical influences and what we can expect from their debut album. We also previewed their upcoming single ‘Covers,’ due out on Friday.

Brownbear have used the past few years to gain valuable experience by touring with rock royalty; releasing a string of singles and of course performing to crowds at their own sell out gigs.

After a yearlong break, the boys hit the studio to record their long awaited debut album. A record that lead singer, Matthew Hickman, says he has “a lot of faith in.”

“We didn’t make an album full of singles, we made an album which is a collection of songs that, if you will, have a common theme. All the songs make sense to each other; they’re all related in a way. It all sounds right.”

Brownbears’ philosophy of ‘if it doesn’t fit then it’s not going in’ is taken very seriously. Proof of that lies solely in the confirmation that their first ever, and arguably most famous, single ‘Dead or Alive’ won’t be included in the album. Matthew said:

“People who have seen us live will recognize some of the songs (in the album). But, ‘Dead or Alive’ isn’t in there. My view is, we did it as our first single and it stood itself. To redo it for the album would mean changing it for the sake of it.”

“Two mistakes bands make all the time is: trying to do a song over and over again and ruining it; and secondly, not believing in their new material.”

“Dead or Alive had completely different production to what the album has, so I feel like it’d be a bit like saying ‘oh we don’t trust in our new songs.’ I can only hope that folk will look through iTunes or Spotify when the album is out and find ‘Dead or Alive’ and think; what’s this. We’re still going to play it live obviously; you’ll still hear it at our shows.”

For the band, new material is everything. Matthew told how he has become a keen experimentalist of performing new songs at gigs, especially after a solo tour supporting ‘The View’s’ Kyle Falcnor:

“When you’ve got a new song and you think ‘is it any good,’ the best way to judge that is to go up and play it in front of the crowd with just you and the guitar.”

“The Kyle (Falcnor) tour showed me which songs work and which don’t, by the end I was able to adjust my set to suit. If you play a new song off the cuff and the crowd go wild then you’re on to a winner cause that’s up against more established tunes.”

The lessons learned from that solo experience differed from the lessons the band learned when touring with bigger teams, like the tour with the Libertines. Matt said:

“Different tours teach you different things. Big tours, like the Libertines, taught us a lot about being professional. And then the Kyle tour obviously I learned a lot about playing in front of intimate crowds and reading the room, connecting with an audience. I had the best time on that tour because I had so many people that I’d just chat to after shows and getting to find out what they liked about the show if they enjoyed it.”

One of the new songs the band will be eager to play is ‘Covers,’ the first single off the album. It’s a very upbeat and catchy tune that has the classic Brownbear acoustics; however, it also boasts sobering lyrics that describe the mental unrest of a cheated boyfriend. The combination strangely works well, you’ll be humming ‘and I pull back the covers…’ in your sleep.

Thankfully the lyrics of ‘pull back the covers’ is just a metaphor for the suspected cheating, Matt joked that he didn’t literally catch anyone red handed:

“At the time I was with a girl and we were slowly deteriorating and I was beginning to think she might even be seeing someone else, just a pure gut feeling. I didn’t literally pull back the covers, thank God, that would be like something from a gruesome horror film.”

“The song actually started because I was singing the chorus in the car and sometimes as a writer you think of a line, I was singing like ‘cover and lovers,’ it sort of developed from that.”

Brownbear have developed an alternative acoustic/folk rock vibe over the past few years, something, which Matthew agrees, are the bands “own distinctive sound.” Yet the music Matt grew up listening to is a complete different shade of music to what he plays:

“I grew up very much a student of rock music, I love the Foo Fighters, Metallica and bands like that. I used to kick about with the black sweatbands on and that. But I’m not very metal orientated as a writer, when I began writing songs; they just didn’t come out like that.”

“I also love Michael Jackson, especially the ‘Thriller’ album. That album broke boundaries; it went so much further than the music. It was the first time an African American had been listed on TV; he broke down that relevance for everyone. At the time he had the dark skin and the Afro, I can relate to that part.”

“I think great records have more than just the music. People never really know where to place our music and I think that’s a good thing.”

As for now, Brownbear admitted you’d find a different type of music on his playlist:

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar at the moment, and Alicia Keys new album. Both of those have total jazz vibes between them that’s what’s catching my ears I think.”

Transpiring through a range of genres whilst retaining a core Brownbear sound seems to be essential for the band. Matthew told how there’s a song on the album which has a “tip of the hat to mow town,” a genre which he admits is “his thing.” He also told how we could expect a bit of country in there as well:

“We had a guitar player play as a guest in a few songs who used to play in a band called ‘Whiteout’- they were pretty big in the Britpop era. He’s an amazing country player and he did this cool country riff over one of the songs. It just sounded right, man, so we were like ‘let’s just do it.’”

The album is sure to please ears of all music backgrounds and will be available sometime in early autumn. As for the new single, Covers, that comes out on Friday (5th of May). Something that we recommend you definitely check out.

Be sure to keep updated with the band through social media.

Twitter: brownbearband

Facebook: brownbearofficial

Photography: Murray McMillan 

Follow me on twitter: @bdoncook

NEW MUSIC: Overtime EP – Idle Noise

Idle Noise are one of many exciting new groups emerging from the Midlands music scene after the release of their debut EP 18 in 2016. A year on and they’ve returned, with a second EP, Overtime, which undoubtably lives up to their first and creates a sound many of us are familiar with; polished off with it’s own unique edge.

Rooftops sets the EP off as an authentic track giving off a garage kinda vibe as it intensifies. It combines dynamic riffs and percussion with appealing, slightly husky lead vocals which are delivered with ease.

Entourage is the second on the EP which the band tell us “depicts the story of a man who’s blinded by infatuation with his lover.” despite her being disloyal, uncaring and the fact she’s “been with your friends.” The track is powerfully composed throughout from the vocals to the guitars, suitably paired with the redolent message behind the lyrics.

Fortune highlights the bands ability to perform a variety of sounds. It’s an acoustic tune which gives listeners an insight into their slightly gloomier side.

Following on from this, title track Overtime closes the EP, leaving us wanting to hear more. With riffs comparable to the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen Overtime gives off an anthemic vibe highlighting the band’s talent to write tunes which could one day fill arenas.

With many of their lyrics tending to be an “Outsiders perspective of a people living in a dream world of life and not necessarily accepting reality.” and “Relationships that are just a mess instead of success.” after just a couple of listens it became evident that this band write tunes that will be somewhat relevant to the situations of many.

If you’re into bands like Catfish and the Bottlemen, Courteeners, Circa Waves, and other indie-rock sounds from the noughties, sink your ears into this.

Overtime EP is available to listen to on iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify & Soundcloud.

Idle Noise are currently booking gigs following the release so keep up to date across social media:

Twitter

Facebook

Soundcloud

NEW MUSIC: Debut Release For Student Band ‘The Gallery’

Wakefield five-piece ‘The Gallery’ have just released their infectious double A side debut single today, featuring the tracks Daddy’s Car and Go Twice, showing their musical clout already by tackling different sounds in each track.

For the die-hard indie kids who like their music with a side of twangly guitars and Arctic Monkeys-style lyrics circa Whatever People Say I Am…, Daddy’s Car is the track for you: fresh, witty, Northern; all the things guaranteed to cement you a place on people’s playlists! Being an A level student myself, the lyrics are super relatable, as I’m sure we’ve all come across people just like the subject of the song, who act like they own everything, but still end up with “F all A*s”.

As for Go Twice, this is a grittier tune, with heavier guitars, a killer intro and angsty vocals, but still carrying the same recognisable sound (quite the feat to establish in a mere two tracks). For a band of 18 year-olds, the tune of this, well, tune sounds like the sort of thing you’d hear on a track made by people with double their musical experience: it has the quality of a sort of instant classic, an unforgettable guitar sound that you swear you’ve heard before, it’s that catchy.

However, for such an up-and-coming band, they’ve already supported the likes of Pretty Vicious, Clay, The Academic and October Drift and they’re adding onto to their live gigging experience with sets at Live at Leeds and Tramlines Festival. I would say, watch this space.

Click below to follow the band on their social media:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter