LIVE REVIEW. Middle Kids at Sebright Arms, London

Date: 15 May 2017
Venue: The Sebright Arms, East London
Genre: Indie-pop
Words and photography: Steph Baker

Lately, it seems that only once in a blue moon do you come across a band that not only pleasantly surprises you, but also manages to genuinely captivate a pub basement full of unsuspecting 9-to-5ers on a Monday evening. Tonight the Sebright Arms was graced with Middle Kids, the Sydney-based trio composed of Harry, drummer and bringer of all energy; Tim, the perpetually mysterious dude strumming in the corner, and the truly uplifting presence of front-woman Hannah. You know when you saunter into a gig not really knowing what to expect with a mate after work and then after hearing one chorus you realise you’re in exactly the right place, witnessing something really quite exciting? Yeah, that was what happened tonight.

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Many indie groups of late seem attached to the idea that in order to be the coolest kids around, you’ve got to strip back all personality from your live set, and look as angsty and misunderstood as possible. Sure, it’s a fine act for the first ten minutes, but it was refreshing to see a new band not give a shit about that and instead concentrate on making genuine connections being made with the crowd throughout their set. The authenticity in what they are doing and what they’re trying to achieve is clear. Recent hits such as ‘Edge Of Town’ and ‘Never Start’ nonchalantly tell their wise stories and bleed out bittersweet memories while also creating an infectious and simply fun vibe around the room. One song is all you need to both get out deeply-hidden frustration into the open, and also ready your care-free self to get pleasantly drunk on a Summer’s day – I reckon that’s the idea anyway.

And then we have tracks such as ‘Old River’ and ‘Your Love’, touching on more emotive confessions and melancholy moments. Middle Kids manage to seamlessly transport you from delicate moments of contemplation into dizzy whirlwinds of power and pounding guitar riffs, without blinking an eye. It’s no wonder that music royalty, Sir Elton John has passed on his seal of approval to this group ahead of their debut album – which the crowd were understandably excited to hear about. We also got to witness Hannah perform a solo track, which showcased her powerhouse vocal range and ability to fill the room with only one instrument and a set of very raw lyrics.

The final few songs of tonight, which included the new track ‘Mistake’ brought the crowd a stirring mix of easy-going folk-pop and spontaneous melodic madness. With a taste of what’s to come with the debut album, this Aussie trio is surely one to watch and definitely one to seek out live, whether it’s around Europe, or Down Under.

 


Check out the debut EP here and give them some love on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Baker out.

 

 

 

 

 

LIVE REVIEW. Natalie McCool at The Cluny 2 with Katsi and Mat Hunsley

Date: 16th March 2017.
Venue: Cluny 2, Newcastle
Genre: Alt-pop
Words and Photography: Victoria Ling


North East newcomers, Katsi started the night bringing their haunting harmonies with a few original numbers and selected covers of Fleetwood Mac, Britney Spears and TLC. With Katsi’s interesting mix of minimal guitars and carefully constructed vocal layers, this could be a duo to watch out for.

I was quite anxious for the next support as I had heard great things about their music and even met them but and never actually seen what they could do. What was to come? Would it be an anti-climax or would I like them as much as those who had recommended them so highly? Mat Hunsley is the artist in question and he was everything we wanted and more. He begins solo and then his set becomes “instantly happier” as drums and bass join him – his words not mine! With both set-ups he was captivating as he performed a set of original folk material with an indie undertone.

unnamed (5)Having seen Natalie McCool on her last tour on the back of a successful Pledge Music campaign for her magical debut album The Great Unknown’, I was very excited to hear she was coming back to Newcastle to coincide with the release of her single ‘You & I’.  McCool oozes stage presence wherever she goes and with drummer Laura and keys player James added to the mix, there’s that extra bit of fierceness to the set up. Kicking off with the energetic ‘Magnet’ sets the tone of the night and with a slight technical hitch early in the set of tangled wires before her poppiest song of the night, ‘Cardiac Arrest’, McCool still has it under control and the audience still engaged. I mean if you don’t loose your shit getting tangled in wires and pulling out your mic, you have a lot to be admired for. Even with the slight confusion over the set list, everything is calm and the show goes on. This is what I love about Natalie McCool live and with the company of her band on stage – the joy and chemistry between them is so genuine. Everything is free flowing and everything is so real.  These little hitches make YOU feel more engaged so when the songs about Natalie’s exes are performed you feel like she has caught that bit of you in the performance…. that is if you have had an ex!

Highlights of the night were definitely ‘Sorry Sight’, a new song and ‘Feel Good’, from the album. Sorry Sight has a slight touch of Florence and The Machine as Natalie’s vocals do some impressive acrobatics. We are told it might get a release and if it does I will be the one shouting about it.  Feel Good is a personal favourite. Great on the album but when you witness it live, it is like an out-of-body experience – you can feel that guitar, those drums and the keys just get under every part of your skin. Basically, everything you want to feel at a live gig whatever the genre of music – Feel Good is one of those few moments for me.  Then Natalie tells us ‘Fortress’ is going to get a release soon with an added choir. Can you imagine that performed live? Brilliant with this three-piece set up but add that choir and I might just loose it when I next see Natalie McCool live, as I was on the verge of it this night.

 


Make sure to check out Natalie McCool’s new single You & I here. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

LIVE REVIEW. The Sherlocks at Wedgewood Rooms with support from Crown Of Thieves and Jordan Allen


Date:
February 23rd
Venue: Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
Genre: Indie/alternative
Words and Photography: Martina Di Gregorio

The Sherlocks, the fast growing indie band from Sheffield, played at Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth as part of their tour that is selling out impressively fast considering they have only been signed for three months.

Crown Of Thieves kicked off tonight’s gig slowly warmed up the audience with some hard rock music and light hearted jokes. The leading vocalist went from sitting down and drinking his beer during the bassist’s solo to passionately bending to the ground during his high notes – definitely was an interesting way of starting the night!

They were followed by Jordan Allen, who did a perfect job of engaging the audience through their intense performance. They did not stray away from the audience, not even post-set as Jordan signed merch for all those people that rushed to purchase their new EP, ‘Living La Vida Loca in Bolton’. The band never gave up on making the audience scream for them, and the efforts certainly paid off.

But the real highlights of the night were of course The Sherlocks, who stole the spotlight and proved just why they have risen so high so fast. The set started with ‘Last Night’, and the lead vocalist, Kiaran Crook, didn’t miss a single note while balancing his trademark stage presence with vocal performance. The crowd grew increasingly excited with every track, screams erupting every time they announced the next upcoming song. It was impossible to stay still in the sea of people jumping around and swaying to the electric beat in the Wedgewood Rooms tonight.

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Fan favorite ‘WIll You Be There?’ was the fourth song played and everyone simultaneously lost it in a moment, understandably. But the track of the night had to be ‘Live for the Moment’. As Kiaran encouraged the chorus reprise, bassist, Andy Davidson took over the stage and deployed his best tricks, grabbing the attention of everyone in the room. Josh Davidson and Brandon Crook were solid performers as well. The chemistry between the band is incredible, you can really see the authenticity in the band members’ connections and nothing could have stopped them tonight.

There was no need for the band to even try to encourage engagement from the crowd tonight, as they were already jumping and screaming within an inch of their lives. They even played new songs such as ‘Nobody Knows’ and ‘Candle Light’, giving the audience a taste of what to expect as The Sherlocks continue to grow and experiment with their sound.

The penultimate song was their most recent single ‘Was It Really Worth It?’ and once again the audience were completely engrossed. They are definitely on the path to becoming big with their ever growing fan base and packed out gigs. With the amount of shirts thrown onto the stage, the summer should bring about class festival performances. The Sherlocks’ increasing on-stage confidence also shows as the band power through technical issues and sound malfunctions, nothing can stop them now. Tonight, the Bolton lads were full of energy and certainly did not disappoint dedicated fans or sceptical newcomers. 


The Sherlocks have just announced another tour, check out all the details here. You can also show your love on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Make sure to also check out Crown Of Thieves and Jordan Allen

 

MDG

 

 

INTERVIEW. Talking Tunes, Knitting, and Ray Romano: Getting to know Vertigo

Knitting and Ray Romano may not seem like central parts of the typical band, but the lads that make up Vertigo are not typical. They may not be a household name yet, but they are definitely on track to being so. In less than a year of performing together Vertigo have become a mainstay of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley precinct, known to pull large crowds on days when everywhere else seems to be dead.

Through this live exposure Vertigo managed to broker a deal with The A&R Department, known for their work with Harts, Meg Mac and SAFIA, and ultimately grab some studio time at Airlock Studios to record a few tracks for their upcoming EP ‘No Feeling is Final’.

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We had a chance to sit down with singer Hamish, and guitarist James, to talk all things Vertigo. The lads, who met at high school, with the exception of bassist Hugh, have recently released their lead single ‘Get Away’. The track begins with an energetic guitar riff, joined by rapturous bass and the powerful drums of Nelson, before settling down into the bass driven verse of the song. The vocals of Hamish fit exquisitely amongst the distinctly heavy instrumentals of this tune, which is akin to ‘The Hunter’ by Slaves with markedly better vocals.

The lyrics of the track, written collectively by the boys, are quite poignant, pleading a friend to leave a corrosive relationship. Despite the subject matter of the song, Hamish told us that while the realism of the song makes it appear to be based in personal experience, it was not. James then said “We were writing it like it was a pretty generic human experience.”

Get Away’ was one of the first tracks the lads wrote when they were first starting out, back in March 2015.  As Hamish quipped, “Our writing has definitely matured a lot since then”.  They credit this maturity to having performed live.  According to James “they were writing really elaborate, debatably self-indulgent music” prior to performing live. The experience of gigging on a stage has taught the boys how to work a crowd, using the reception of each song to adapt their set list.

The lads opened up about playing a private gig at a 50th, and how they managed to cater to that very different audience. “We played a 50th the other week… for this big country family. So we were like ‘we should probably learn some Johnny Cash. So we learnt ‘Ring of Fire’. When we were learning we were like what the fuck are we doing. What has Vertigo become. But then we whipped it out live and the crowd went wild… We played it twice and it went off even bigger the second time.”

Johnny Cash may never be heard again, at least not from these blokes, but it highlights the emphasis that Vertigo have put on performing live and creating a great show for their fans.

Vertigo not only care deeply for performing, and for their fans, but they also have a deep bond amongst themselves. Hamish highlighted this when he said “It’s like being in a relationship with three guys.”

ray-romano-covered-with-silly-string_pn016918The boys clearly get along.  My afternoon of sitting with Vertigo was filled with laughter and jokes, often at the expense of themselves and their hobbies. Hugh spent the weekend they recorded ‘Get Away’ learning how to knit, since he had recorded the bass early and had time to kill. Or at the expense of those surrounding them. Prior to their first gig at Rics, James’ Mum ignited the bands light obsession with Ray Romano, often referring to the Brisbane venue as Ray’s. This collective joy of their creative process bodes extremely well for future performances and for their upcoming EP ‘No Feeling is Final’. They are definitely a band to watch in the future thanks to their collective drive to make great music, and have a good time while they do it.


They will be playing at The Brightside’s Homegrown Battle of the Bands in Brisbane on March 15th and at Blackbear Lodge of April 23rd.

Keep an eye out for their upcoming single ‘Velvet Revolution’, and their EP ‘No Feeling is Final’, both coming out later this year. You can also keep up to date with all things Vertigo here

 

S.M.

 

SINGLE REVIEW. The xx – On Hold

Release Date: Out now!

Genre: Electro-indie pop

Rating: ★★★★★

It begins with the graceful, familiar voice of Romy Madley Croft, as it’s been so long since we have been graced with fresh material, her voice instantly brings any fan a feeling of satisfaction. This track is about grasping at the tail end of a failing love, in a desperate attempt of regaining momentum and making it work, “it could be love I think you’re too soon to call us old“. With some almost psych-pop sounds woven in, the song has very romanticized undertones while still keeping to the signature xx chilled-out sound.

 

img_2758In many ways, the xx have not changed, to the relief of many. With the same warm charm brought by the voices of Romy and Oliver Sim, as well as the distinct, simplistic guitar melodies and electro-ambient vibes that can only be constructed with just the right mix of elements. However, after the lyrics “when and where did we go cold, I thought I had you on hold“, there is a drop that reveals a whole new lease of life for the xx. During this energetic segment of the track, inspirations uncovered by Jamie xx during his solo projects of the past year materialise themselves, and the result is a refreshing mix of the chilled out, low-fi vibes expected from the xx, and the electro beats of the house scene Jamie often frequents. It sounds remarkable, and has also worked well live on the few recent performances of the trio on radio and US talk shows.

 

This long awaited new track from the London group has been met with warm welcome, and rumour has it we can expect more surprises such as this in their upcoming album ‘I See You’.


Book tickets to the 2017 headline tour

You can also connect to The xx on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

 

Baker out.

SINGLE REVIEW. Siboney + Andy – Secret

Release date: Out now!

Genre: Pop-Folk

Rating: ★★★1/2

Siboney + Andy recently joined forces, along with their influences and styles to create this debut EP, encompassing a variety of pop/folk/electro vibes. This title track of the EP certainly makes a statement and ensures their names will not be easily forgotten.

With a delicate opening, Siboney tells a painful tail, supposedly from personal experience. The opening verse could be claimed to be predictable, but as the bridge builds up, Siboney’s voice steps up before delivering a powerful blow with the lyrics “I will keep this sib-and-andy-02-lowres1secret ’till I die” during the chorus. With a blaring electric riff accompanying the voice, a new level of passion is brought to this track. The second verse is more playful as the due get settled into what they’re doing, with electro-pop synths coupled with folk-y vocals
and guitar, this is a creative song showcasing what it is Siboney + Andy are capable of. As Andy emerges into the track not only as a producer but a vocalist, the track gets that bit warmer. It is at this moment you can see why the due work so well together, as their voices intertwine to create a pop/electro-pop juxtaposition.

The music video for this track brings a visual element to better explain the journey this track takes. The pair describe the following: “The lyrics in Secret are quite literal, and pull from rather painful self-experience, so we wanted to hint at that feeling within the video, but let people come to their own conclusions within the narrative.”

 

Check out the music video for Sectret and follow Siboney and Andy’s journey:


Check out the debut EP ‘Secret’ here.

You can also find Siboney + Andy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

 

 

Baker out.

INTERVIEW. INHEAVEN ahead of Debut Album – “We always made sure we never compromised our creative vision”

After taking the UK by storm last Summer, the DIY, dream-punk quartet INHEAVEN are continuing to create funky sounds and getting people hyped for the debut album coming next year, with hit single ‘Treats‘ already sweeping up a positive reaction after being premiered by Annie Mac this month. We got to know guitarist James and talk idols, festivals and what remains important to a band such as INHEAVEN despite rising up in the world.

Hey James! What would you say is the main message of your music? 

We think music should make you feel free, so we try to create songs that evoke that feeling.

 

Do you guys have a specific creative process when writing?

It’s weird but we can never explain how we write a song, it just happens! It is really something that happens completely in the moment.

 

Since you have emerged onto the scene, you have gained the seal of approval from many ‘royalty’ fans such as Wolf Alice and Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), you even released your debut single on Mr Casablancas’s label, Cult Records! How did that come about? 

We set up a website before we changed our band name and were called ‘Blossom’, and just used to put up weird videos and music on a daily basis. We ended up taking the whole thing down, but months later we got an email from Rory Atwell (who mixed our demos) forwarding an email from Cult Records! They said Julian and the label loved us and wanted to put out one of our songs. But yeah, it was one of the best feelings ever, it’s not everyday you get an email from one of your idols. 

 

What has been your favourite gig so far and why? 

Reading and Leeds, we grew up going to those festivals so it really felt like a coming of age moment that we will remember forever! The best story from that year was probably us and The Magic Gang getting chucked out of a party for running up on stage and playing someone else’s drum kit.

 

INHEAVEN are known for having a strong DIY ethic, what is it you guys enjoy so much about that and why is it so important for the band to stay true to that even as you progress and grow in size?

We never set out to be a DIY band, we just did everything ourselves and never stopped even when we got signed. We always wanted to have complete control over everything we do, the only way we felt we could separate ourselves from every other band was to make sure we never compromised our creative vision.

 

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Debut Album ‘TREATS’ out in 2017

Do you think anything changes once a band has signed to a record label and starts to grow in popularity and size? 

Nothing changes, it just ramps up a gear. We are our own little creative hub, so we could be on any label and it will still always sound and look like us.

 

What have you guys got in store for us in the near future and what are you most excited about right now? 

We are off on tour with Blossoms in December, and our Debut Album will be out next year. It doesn’t get more exciting than that really!


INHEAVEN are going on tour with the lovely Blossoms next month, buy a ticket here

You can also check them out on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

 

Baker out.

INTRODUCING. Interview with Danish artist Fjer.

 

Danish artist, Fjer has emerged seemingly out of nowhere. Ever since moving to New York to start her career with full commitment, she has independently released two EPs, and began to catch peoples’ eye (and ear) with her obscure electro-pop sound. We got to get to know Fjer soon after she released the music video for the recent single ‘Her Turn‘ (out now – link below). We talked international influences, life in New York and the question of whether people need formal music training in order to succeed in a career.

Where did you start out and how has your experience of coming from Denmark to the American and British music industry been? 
I actually started Fjer in New York. This is where I came up with the name, released my first EP, found the people to work with and really started to believe in my self. It was so inspiring being here, around people speaking English, because I quickly learned the language fluently and began to get accepted in a different way. The UK audience came more recently and I’m so happy about that. England reminds me more of home – things like the weather and culture are way more similar to Denmark. I miss those things.
What country would you say most of your musical influences come from? 
I’m inspired with Danish music in the sense that SO many great artists come out of there and it’s where I grew up. You can hear the cold, nordic sound in my music, I feel. The American/British music scene inspires me a lot too, because everybody does everything ALL the way, 100%. Nobody’s afraid to be an artist, and that’s something we struggle with in Denmark, where it’s kind of frowned upon to be super ambitious.
You studied at the Royal Academy of Music, how has that experience impacted your musical endeavours?
When I got into the Royal Academy, it was one of the best days of my life. It was so unexpected, because I was only 19 years old, there were hundreds of applicants and it’s just so hard to get in. Going there for the years I did, was a great experience and I learned music theory, producing and just being a better singer. But it was a very elitist school and the constant competition (especially between the guys there – it was a total ‘boys club’!) eventually broke me down. So I took a year out to go to New York and I haven’t looked back or regretted that decision for a moment. School will teach you so many valuable things, but there’s nothing like going out and trying on your own. You’ll learn everything faster.
 
How did you find releasing your two brilliant EPs completely independently? Is it something you want to continue to do?
It was lucky that I met producer and indie label-owner of Quintic, Peter Anthony Red, who believed in me from the very start. Fjer, has been us building together from day one and he released my two first EP’s with me. It can be super scary but also very freeing not being on a major label, fitting into budgets and ads. It’s like.. I have the freedom to do whatever I want. Nobody’s trying to change me or put me in a box.

 

Watch here and listen here:

 

You can also connect with the lovely Fjer on facebook and twitter

 

 

Baker out.

ALBUM REVIEW. Spring King – ‘Tell Me If You Like To’

Release Date: 10th June 2016 (Island Records)

Genre: Indie/garage-punk

Rating:★★★★

 

We were very excited for the debut release from the new boys on the block, Spring King after seeing them headline the Boileroom last month (Check it out here) and seeing the success and hype generated from hit singles such as ‘City‘ and ‘Rectifier‘. And it is safe to say that we were not disappointed.

The debut kicks off with the signature pounding drums that Tarek Musa masters so well accompanied by a fitting heavy bass line for the opening track ‘City‘. This is a care-free danceable track with the freeing lyrical hook ‘Who am I what does it matter?’ – Perhaps these boys foolishly believe they’re still in the small leagues, or maybe they are embracing their shooting success with an uncomprimising attitude.

We are then graced with the irresistibly catchy hits such as ‘Detroit‘. This pre-released hit along with the fan-favourite ‘Summer‘ pain a fuzzy picture of the romanticized, chaotic, British summer experiences of one’s youth that we just love to reminisce of. The next track, ‘Who Are You?‘ tells a more cynical tale, with relentless garage-rock guitar and bass lines keeping it alive. Spring King then continue to intertwine gloomy-punk undertones into their energetic anthems in songs such as ‘Demons‘ and ‘It’s so Dark‘, a quality of this band that is flourishing with great responses. At this point, it could be said that Spring King may be suffering from an identity-crisis, with a seemingly endless melting-pot of influences and musical styles bouncing off each other throughout this album, but these boys shouldn’t be criticised for that. ‘Tell Me If You Like To‘ is a powerful, and solid establishing debut album, one that oozes more confidence than most being released right now. It does a good job of demonstrating that they are not the standard 16-year-old-indie-phase band that they could be accused of being at first glance – they are much more, and go much deeper.

The pre-released track ‘Rectifier‘ leads the charge of establishing what Spring King are all about. The seemingly chaotic but in reality genius arrangement of floor-shattering drums, heavy indie-rock guitar lines and Tarek to-the-point vocals makes for a highly danceable track, and a chorus that makes for a perfect British-style drunken chant. This track is also outrageous live.

Some bands are just made to be heard live, and it is always hard to capture the mad on-stage energy in professional recordings of these bands, but Spring King have taken a solid stab at it and this is only the beginning of what’s yet to come.


Listen to ‘Tell Me If You Like Tohere and buy it here.

They are also on facebook, twitter and instagram.

 

Baker out.

ALBUM REVIEW. Catfish & The Bottlemen – ‘The Ride’

Release date: 8th Junly 2016

Genre: Indie-Rock/Pop

Rating:★★★1/2

So it is finally here. Catfish & The Bottlemen release second album ‘The Ride‘ after fan-apprehension grew steadily throughout 2016 with the release of hit singles ‘Soundcheck‘, ‘7‘ and ‘Twice‘. Their debut ‘The Balcony‘ was all about getting their name known, and letting us know what they’re about – rough around the edges rock that is going to conquer the UK. Now this album’s purpose is to cement their place as the UK’s leading indie-rock band and showcase how much they have grown, from arriving tentatively onto the scene, to having sold-out shows and gold album sales figures. 

 

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Image: ebuzz.ie

We start off with the two singles that fans have been singing along to for weeks in preparation for this release, ‘7‘ and ‘Twice‘. These are unsurprisingly two of the best singles on the album, full of buildup and blaring hooks. ‘Oxygen‘ is very reminiscent of what Oasis would be like if they were to write new material today while ‘Emily‘ gives an insight into travels to America and surprises in romantic endeavours. Nearing the end of this 11-track album, and so far we have had peaks and troffs, with all of the foundations from their debut, just when you think they are going to explode onto a huge level, Catfish’s efforts plato into an anti-climactic memory of ‘The Balcony‘. It is not all bad though, ‘Red‘ is a powerful hit all about growing up and second chances, with heavy bass drums and blaring vocals by McCann that leave us with insight into a romantic rival with lyrics “Can he do what I do for you?“. additionally,’Soundcheck‘ has an undertone similar to some early Strokes material, with CATB’s trademark touch flowing throughout.

 

These guys know how to make ear-catching, fun, quality hits that much is clear. This album is sure to do well, and get the band more sold-out gigs, possibly even allow them to spread their wings overseas more. The only question is, shouldThe Ride‘ achieve all this? This second album is slighty monotonous at times, making it hard to distinguish between this musical endeavour and their first, released two years ago. Catfish’ have so much potential and adventure inside, and at times throughout this album, you feel as if they are holding back. This disappointing lacking touch is actually done on purpose, as front-man of the band said when discussing ‘The Ride‘: “I feel like everybody started thinking too outside the box, trying to be arty and different…we wanted to stay inside the box“. Is this going to be a safety-guard that ensures sales, or their first and last creative mistake? Only time will tell.

 

Listen to it and make up your own mind on spotify

Catfish and The Bottlemen are also on facebook and twitter

 

 

Baker out.