TOWN – Teenage Sky
This week, Newport four-piece TOWN release their debut single ‘Teenage Sky’, showcasing their obvious Punk/Rock influences in the angsty vocal from frontman Alex Nash. The band have previously toured with The Buzzcocks and The Bluetones. I saw them supporting Kids In Glass Houses at The Kingston Peel last year and was impressed with their energy. Combining this with the strong effort shown in this track, they’re sure to expand their touring back catalogue and fan base over the next year.
Spotlight Kid – There’s A Reason Why
Spotlight Kid have received a lot of love from the BBC recently. They performed on the BBC Introducing Stage at this year’s Glasto and their track, ‘There’s A Reason Why’ has recently been added to the Radio 1 playlist. I can see why, there’s certainly a gap in the 2011 music scene for their ‘shoegazing’ and 90′s Psychedelic rock’, as their sound has been previously defined as. The Nottingham band released their first album back in 2006 and have since then have released a second EP. In the Autumn, we’ll should see another release from them. It’s the ideal song, enabling their potential shine through.
Saint Saviour – This Ain’t No Hymn
Saint Saviour has been dabbling in the music scene for some time now, with her involvment in various projects including co-writting and providing some of the vocals for Groove Armada’s 2010 album ‘Black Light.’ Now, Becky Jones is ready to go it alone and is preparing for the release of her second solo EP. Her voice is mystical and flawless, even as a live artist. I was fortunate enough to catch her support Hurts at Somerset House and she put her heart and soul into the performance. Saint Saviour will be flying the flag for British Female Artists, joining the likes of Florence Welch and Clare Maguire in no time.
Magic. The only adjective that sums up an evening with Hurts at Somerset House. The grand, classic courtyard is the perfect place to play host to the dark Manc duo as they bring their top five debut, ‘Happiness’ to life in this iconic venue. The demographic here is varied, from young couples relishing Theo Hutchcraft’s romantic lyrics to forty-something businessmen remembering Hurts’ new-romantic style and their synth-pop 80′s influence the first time around.
The crowd know that they’re about to witness something special when the duo, completed by synth player and guitarist Adam Anderson take to the stage, dressed in their sharp trademark suits and carrying a bunch of cream roses. Their backing band appears, along with two female dancers dressed as grim reapers, waving black flags. As the opening electronics of ‘Silver Lining’ are distinguishable, and the crowd wait for Hutchcraft to begin, you can feel how in awe of the vocalist they already are before he has even opened his mouth.
The dancers take off their cloaks to reveal black tutus as they add character to ‘Wonderful Life.’ The crowd remain enthusiastic as they echo the beautiful words of hope, ‘Never give up it’s such a wonderful life.’ They proceed to play other favourites, ‘Devotion’ (minus Miss Minogue, unfortunately), ‘Sunday’, and ‘Evelyn.’ The band remain appreciative throughout their sold-out performance, with Hutchcraft repetitively clasping his hands together and holding them to his chest in admiration of the crowd’s support. While, ‘Blood, Tears and Gold’ and ‘Stay’ are well received, judging from the chanting of lyrics and the waving arms in a spiritual-like ritual, their way of feeling the ‘moment’. ‘Verona’ is enough to give anyone goosebumps as their backing tenor belts the words and Hutchcraft steps away from the microphone stand with his head bowed. It’s a truly heartfelt picture. The audience are instructed to hold their mobile phones in to the air during the aptly named, ‘Illuminated’ before they close with ‘Better Than Love’ which couldn’t have been a better choice as the last chance to leave the audience feeling speechless.
Hurts thank the spectators for giving them the support to play in the ‘special’ setting of Somerset House and it’s obvious that after tonight’s flawless show that Hurts have a deserving future ahead. They leave everyone with one inspiring last thought, ‘Remember, It’s a Wonderful Life.’
Former chef turned singer/songwriter Alex Clare certainly knows the ingredients for an original record. Take a strapping voice, throw in some truthful words and stir in some soul influence. Finally blend together with a dose of Dubstep. There you have the recipe for Alex Clare’s debut, ‘The Lateness Of The Hour.’
Clare has previously released three singles off the album, ‘Too Close’, ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Treading Water.’ This trio has created a buzz around the Londoner with many eagerly awaiting his debut, I don’t think they’ll be disappointed or have any crushed hopes with this. He has fully delivered. The past releases presented the core of Alex Clare’s talent and teased with the big choruses of loud, energetic Dubstep beats, pumping intensity into the track. The vocal, in ‘Too Close’ belts ‘It feels like I am just too close to love you’ reinforcing the emotion within. ‘Treading Water’ withholds the similar impassioned feeling.
Though, this Dubstep lark isn’t present throughout the album, boasting his diversity. He isn’t just a one genre man, oh no. Clare proves that Dubstep can be used carefully and precisely to add depth to a record, keeping it from being over used, consequently resembling a churned out dance compilation. There’s a strong soul influence that comes through especially in ‘Hands Are Clever’ where the brass section and feel-good chorus make it a fine candidate for a high-charting single.
Honesty seems to be the best policy as far as lyricism is concerned which is how it should be with songs entitled, ‘Relax My Beloved’ and ‘I Love You.’ ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ closes this epic collection with just the familiar soulful delivery and the intricate piano keys, emphasising the flair that Alex Clare has for what he does. Though, I can’t help but worry whether he has peaked to soon. But, I’m sure he’ll use this experience and his debut to conjure up another record to wow everyone (again).
‘The Lateness Of The Hour’ is out now.
This week London’s ‘Prince of Dubstep’ James Blake releases his much-anticipated double A-side, ‘Order/Pan.’ The questions about Blake’s next endeavor are on everyone’s lips after the success his top ten self-titled debut. The answer to this lays half in this single, though we’ll have to wait until his follow-up to really gauge the mentality of his next musical direction.
Without his delicate voice and an eerie repetitive lyric in sight, its purely experimental with distorted beats and a deep bass. Though it still creates the familiar mystifying and uncomfortable atmosphere that James Blake revels in. The more you listen to this, the more you can begin to understand the dark, dub-stepped layering, which gels together to formulate the backbone of James Blake’s sound. If this euphonious exploration comes together with some scattered vocals for the next record, we’ll be in for a treat!
Watching an acoustic session in the middle of rush hour in one of London’s busiest train terminals seems a little odd down on paper. But it really isn’t in the slightest, it’s just like busking on a larger scale with the added bonus of an interested audience.
There’s been artists playing at this unique venue over the past month in aid of The Princes Trust Music and tonight it’s the turn of Bastille. The South London artist played a brilliant half hour stripped-down set, which included online tracks such as ‘Laura Palmer’, ‘Icarus’, the beautiful ‘Overjoyed’ and new single ‘Flaws’, which is out today. Dressed in a slouchy ash-grey hoodie, Dan Smith looks at ease as he performs to the intrigued crowd on the concourse. Some are even singing along with their own renditions, proving that Bastille are starting to progress up the music ranks and are on the road to becoming an established name.
I caught up with Dan Smith after the session, to discuss the past, present and future of Bastille.
Your first single, ‘Flaws’ is released today, how are you feeling about the release?
It’s taken a while, so I’m pretty excited. To be honest today is a bit of an anti-climax because it was released on iTunes a few weeks ago by accident, when it was meant to just be a pre-order but it’s nice to have to have something out. Also the song has been growing a little bit online.
There has been a buzz about you this year already, how has it been for you?
It’s been really fun and we’ve been really busy recently promoting the single and playing a bunch festivals. We did two little gigs at Glastonbury, which were wicked as well as Isle of Wight and Great Escape. We just played Blissfields this weekend and we’re playing at V Festival and Standon Calling.
Does it feel weird playing at such notable festivals, when festivals nowadays can be the making of a band?
It does and I’m really aware that obviously its early days for the band, so we’re just playing on little stages but it’s nice to get involved. I love festivals, I was going to Glastonbury regardless of whether we were playing it. I guess there’s always the hardcore music fans who will go and find new stuff and there’s those who flock to the main stage. But Glastonbury particularly is such a nice festival.
Your single was used in E4′s reality show, ‘Made In Chelsea.’ How did that come about?
I used to do solo stuff with a piano and a loop player a couple of years back and whilst I was doing that, I spoke to a this DJ on XFM called Marsha, who was DJing on XFM all the time back then. I didn’t speak to her for ages and then she left XFM and moved to Canada. She’s now in charge of music in lots of TV shows and I’ve just been speaking to her online over the past couple of months. She heard some of the Bastille stuff and really liked it and she helped get it in the show. It’s probably not necessarily what I want the music to be associated with but it’s been an amazing opportunity in terms of getting the song to a much wider audience. But in this really early stages of the band, having an audience like that is unbelievable. In fact, we’ve just been really lucky online with a series of things that have reached a wider audience than I ever expected.
How did it feel playing in the station just now?
Weird. Soundchecking, I always get really nervous and especially playing in a station where pretty much 90% of the people don’t care or have somewhere to be. But it was good though, I really enjoyed it. There was a nice amount of people and it was funny seeing some people singing along to a couple of the songs which are online, which never happens but when it does it’s cool. We all really enjoyed it, because we weren’t quite sure about playing so stripped back, as obviously it’s quite quiet.
Have you ever busked before at somewhere like this?
I have never busked and when we were sound checking I wasn’t expecting people to keep coming up and putting money in the bucket, which made it feel even more like busking. That kind of thing terrifies me, i don’t have the confidence to do that kind of thing so it’s good to have a first busking experience.
Where did the name ‘Bastille’ come from?
I was looking for a band name and its a really tricky thing to do. But I’m born on Bastille Day, 14th July and me and my friend were walking through a tube station and she saw a poster saying about Bastille Day. I was at my wits end trying to think of a name, so the name just stuck and people seem to like it. Though it’s slightly unfortunate that there’s about 50 other bands called ‘Bastille’ so we’ll probably have to change it at some point…
Finally, what can we expect from you over the next year and are there any plans for an album?
I’m about three-quarters of the way through recording the album, we’ve been working with the same guy since before we put anything online. It’s been quite nice as things have developed a little bit we just kept our heads down, kept working and getting on with it ourselves. I think we’ll have another single out in September/October time, which is looking likely to be a double A-side with ‘Laura Palmer’ and a song called ‘Overjoyed’ as they’re the two I want to push but who knows. We’d then be looking to release the album early next year.
‘Flaws’ is out now.
Quirky male singer/songwriters have not been in short supply recently. We’ve been introduced to the likes of Ed Sheeran, Luke Leighfield and Patrick Wolf and now there’s a new kid on the block. Dan Smith, AKA Basillie has been creating a buzz this year and it’s obvious why. Debut single, ‘Flaws’ is a fine slice of indie pop with a sincere and smooth vocal. As far as the lyrics go he sings, ‘When all of your flaws and all of my flaws are laid out one by one.’ What flaws? There’s none apparent to me, watch out for Bastille!
Producer SBTRKT (abbreviation of ‘Subtract’ for those still trying to get their head around it) remains a mystery, well sort of though he’s since been outed as the mask-clad Aaron Jerome. SBTRKT’s electro ambiance fuses the usual components. The synth vaguely resembles the croak of a bullfrog, werring to mould around the beat, giving the song an identity. For fans of James Blake, Katy B and Little Dragon
Camden quartet, Tribes are bringing honest rock music with some evident grunge influence to 2011, presented in the raspy voice of frontman Johnny lloyd and their laid back riffs. They seem to withhold a positive outlook judging from the lyric, ‘Oh no stranger, you’re just like me, These things happen, we were children in the mid-90′s.’ The 90′s was obviously an era that they dissect their influences from, in the form of the Alternative American scene with bands such as Pixies and Nirvana. After appearing at the numerous festivals they have lined up, they’re bound to be united with some new fans.