Monday, 23 May 2016

Single Review: All In My Head ~ Polkadodge

Polkadodge are back, and they're bigger and better than EVER before. The Sheffield based band (made up of John William Burton, Paul Robertson, Martin Greening and Jack Galvin) have been away for just over a year, and suffice to say, their comeback single has most definitely been worth the wait. With stellar guitars and exceedingly smooth, stylish and gritty vocals throughout from John, this is undoubtedly their strongest work to date.

Photo by Scott Hukins
The impressive and forceful introduction meant that just seconds in I was in no doubt that this song was going to be everything I'd hoped for and more. It's brimming with the dynamics and personality that we all know and love Polkadodge for, but I feel that their sound has really matured. There's something about this that is noticeably very different from their previous work; older tracks, for example 'Laughing In Spanish' and 'The Other Way', are infectious, chipper, and packed full of pop orientated indie melodies and catchy choruses that you can't help but sing along and have a dance to. 'All In My Head' can only be described as a full on rock anthem. It makes me visualise the band playing it live to arena sized audiences- it's THAT good. A stroke of pure musical brilliance, this is one of the most exciting releases of 2016 so far and I cannot wait to see what comes next. Welcome back, boys.

Polkadodge play The Leadmill in Sheffield on Saturday 9th July. Tickets can be bought here.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

An Interview with GLASS CAVES ~ 14.05.16

On Saturday evening I found myself in a church courtyard in Yorks' gothic and extraordinarily beautiful city centre with Pontefracts finest exports, Glass Caves. After having relentlessly toured their debut album 'Alive', they're now hard at work on their second, which from the new music the band have introduced at recent gigs looks set to be another roaring success. I always enjoy spending time with this band, not only because they're from my hometown and I'm extremely proud of them and their achievements, but also due to their absolutely wicked sense of humour. I had a chat with them all before their gig at Fibbers in York and one thing is for sure, there's never a dull moment with them around!

When and how did you first come together as a band? 
Matthew: Connor and Elliot were already a band, and they saw me covering Damien Rices' Cannonball on YouTube, and they were like 'do you fancy singing for a band?' I said sure why not, I'll give it a crack.
Elliott: Voice of an angel, I was like we have to get this guy in!
: So they allowed me to be in the band, and then we got a synth player who's not with us anymore.
Will: He's not dead!
Matthew: And then we got Will about 3 years ago now.
Will: They just found me running around.
Connor: He used to sleep outside Woolworths, then when that closed down he lost his bed.

What are you all listening to at the moment?
Matthew: I'm addicted to the new Tame Impala album. That's about it for me, if I'm bored I listen to that.
Connor: I'm listening to The War On Drugs at the moment, enjoying the vibes.
Will: I quite like the Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats album, that's pretty good.
Elliott: Blossoms, for me.

Of the new songs that you've been playing at recent gigs, which do you think has had the best reception from your audiences?
Matthew: 'Alive' obviously, because they've got a connection to it, they've heard it before. But surprisingly we've had reaction from acoustic videos of 'Swim' and 'I Do', people singing those back and its only the third or fourth time we've played it live which is madness but we can't complain, it's amazing.

Do you have a personal favourite of your new songs? If so, why? 
Connor: I do. It's 'I Do'.
Matthew: I like 'Alive' just because it's getting a good response, it always feels good when people are loving tunes.
Will: I quite like 'Swim'.

Is Album 2 complete yet? What can you tell us about it so far? 
Matthew: Album 2 is like 80% of the way there, I think we just need another 2 or 3 killer tunes. It's gonna be a masterpiece! Hopefully we'll have it out as soon as possible... which could mean 7 months!

What's been your best ever live music experience?
Elliott: Mine's The Strokes. They did Dingwalls in Camden, which only holds like 400 people.
Connor: Mine's Bon Iver I think, at o2 Academy in Leeds. It was mindblowingly good, just amazing.
Matthew: I can't think. But the best festival I went to was Rock Werchter in Belgium. It had like every band I've ever wanted to see live. It was the best line up that year, it was just insane. Warm weather and great music.
Will: I think last year when we saw Fleetwood Mac at Isle of Wight festival, that was pretty good. They had all fireworks go off at the end, and I drank my bodyweight in Jack Daniels.

What's your songwriting process? Do you all play a part, or does just one of you write the lyrics?
Matthew: It varies. There's times when Connor has written a belter and you don't even need to touch it. Usually we get a good idea and we bring it together and just flesh it out, and then you get the tunes that you see. 

Finally- I want you all to tell me a funny fact or memory about someone else in the band... 
Matthew: Can I tell them Will, that you've got 3 nipples?
Will: I don't have 3 nipples.
Matthew: Elliott sleeps with his eyes open.
Will: Sometimes one of his eyes goes wonky in photos too, that's pretty funny.
Elliott: It's just what I am.

These guys all have an amazing sense of humour, and I was in stitches the entire interview. Just as I thought the night couldn't get any better, as stage time approached the venue darkened and on came 'Circle Of Life' from The Lion King! Definitely an unexpected choice of walk on song, but this is the kind of people Glass Caves are, always full of surprises!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Live Review & Interview: THOMAS COHEN ~ Headrow House, 13.05.16

Never before have I felt moved to the point of tears by someones' live performance, but there is something so vulnerable and raw about the way Thomas Cohen performs that it is impossible not to feel touched. From the way he looks and dresses to his mannerisms both on and off stage, there's something inexplicably ethereal about him. I knew even before he took to the stage that I would be witnessing something very special after having listened to his recently released debut album Bloom Forever, which is an achingly beautiful collection of extraordinarily well written songs that are all so deeply sincere and honest that it's impossible not to fall in love with it the first time you hear it.

Thomas takes to the stage barefoot, and with a quiet kind of confidence which is both endearing and enthralling in equal measure. Unique, silky smooth vocals with a hazy, resplendent accompaniment of soothing, soaring guitars mean it's oh so easy to become completely caught up in his music as he performs. From the upbeat, shimmering heights of Honeymoon, Bloom Forever and his most recent single Hazy Shades, to the moving, celestial beauty of Country Home, I was genuinely in awe the entire time. My personal highlights though were New Morning Comes, a bright and breezy number and undoubtedly my favourite from the album- which was followed by a cover of Patti Smiths' 'Pissing In A River', in which he casts aside his guitar and thrashes about the stage; it's a captivating, intense and heartbreakingly fragile performance throughout- just as I'd come to expect from him.

After the gig I was honoured to get the opportunity to speak in depth with Thomas, who was happy to answer a few questions for my blog. I was initially quite nervous, but he soon made me feel at ease with his calming and attentive aura.

Musically, I think there's a big difference between your solo material and the music you made during your time with S.C.U.M- do you think that change in direction is because you yourself have changed as a person, or have you perhaps been listening to different genres of music which have creatively inspired you to do something different?
Yeah, I think probably a bit of both. With my first band and that record, I was 19... I'm 25 now. But definitely, I kind of changed the music I listen to quite drastically. I didn't write the music in my old band either, I was just their frontman so this is the first music that I've written.

I remember some of the first bands I ever fell in love with were bands like Suede, and Manic Street Preachers and I'd like to think they helped kickstart my love for music. What did you grow up listening to and has any of it influenced your own musical style?
My dad always listened to The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith and The Stooges. That was the music I remember from when I was a kid. I really liked The Stranglers, I don't really listen to them but I remember liking them when I was quite young.

Music has helped me through some tough times. You've been through a lot in the last couple of years- does music help you?
I don't really do anything else, other than be a dad.  It's pretty much being a dad and music. (Thomas is dad to Astala & Phaedra.) I can't think of an hour of the day where I'm not listening to music. Suddenly you realise it's not so scary to make it, that helps too.

I always perceive you as being a bit of an "old soul"- not only because of the music that you make, but also because of your style... If you could travel back in time to ANY era, where would you go and why?
I think I'd like to go to America, like 1910. I think that's what I'd go for. I guess there was a lot of stuff going on then that was absolutely appalling but if I'm going for a day or something... I wouldn't want to go permanently!

Finally... what's next after this tour? Are you already working on Album 2? 
The second albums done. I haven't finished recording it, I'm going to record it this year. I think I'm just kind of at that stage where everything's quite prolific. I don't demo any of my music, I play it to myself every night. So that, and then hopefully a third record.

Thomas' debut album "Bloom Forever" is out now, and I implore you to give it a listen. Prior to this gig, I already absolutely adored it but I think I'll appreciate it even more so now having seen it live. You can purchase it on iTunes here.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Single Review: Real ~ CONFLARE

Admittedly, Castleford isn't the coolest place in the world, but in the very near future, I think Conflare look set to put it on the map once and for all. Made up of lead vocalist/guitarist Toby Hanmore, guitarist/vocalist Dan Watson, bassist Sam Wilkinson & drummer Ethan Bradley, this band are a high energy quartet with heaps of potential, obvious enthusiasm for what they do, and best of all- an apt ability to create the ultimate guitar fuelled, atmospheric rock anthem.
This was the first time I'd listened to their music, and I gained an almost instantaneous respect for them as artists. For a band so young, they have the airs and graces of someone with many years of experience and success under already their belt. Brand new single Real is a powerhouse. Sometimes, with new music, it takes me one or two listens to truly 'get' what I'm listening to- but the song they sent over to me is just superb, and I loved it straight away. My first thought was that I can definitely imagine hearing this on the radio; it's filled with promise, and oozes confidence and commercial appeal. Forceful and driving from the word go, there's no lengthy musical introduction here, for we're introduced almost immediately to Hanmores' rich and expressive vocals, which are consistent throughout. I was extremely impressed by the quality of the lyrics- and the way in which they're delivered with such brutal honesty and conviction. Everything about this track is extraordinarily profound, and shows off each band members' talents and abilities with felicitous clarity.

Photo by Tim Hilling-Smith

Having formed in 2012, they already clearly have a great deal of experience in the music industry already, because they have such a polished sound. Definitely a band to watch, I think, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them. Check out the official music video for Real here, and have a listen to some more of their material over on their Soundcloud page.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Live Review: THE BARMINES ~ Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds - 07.05.16

I remember the first time I ever saw The Barmines live, and that was just over a year ago at the Rocking Chair in Sheffield when they supported October Drift; they blew the roof off that night, and I quickly realised that they're one of those bands you could never tire of seeing live, mainly because each and every time you do, it's set in stone that they will have seriously upped their game. This is a band who are constantly working hard to better themselves. They're strong and confident musicians, who clearly give their all to absolutely everything they do and I have a hell of a lot of respect for them.

Photo by Jonathan Buck
As always with gigs' put on by This Feeling, it was an all around incredible night; before doors even opened, queues stretched outside and far around the venue itself, many of whom I noticed were wearing Barmines t-shirts which was great to see. Understandably, these guys have a very strong fanbase, and from start until the finish of their set the crowd continually chanted "Barmi Army" (the collective name for the bands' fans). They kicked off proceedings with debut single These Days & Nights, released last year, which is a guitar driven whirlwind of musical brilliance and was probably one of my favourite musical releases of 2015. Starting with this was definitely the right choice, and following it up with the also much loved Strangers had the crowd in a state of such euphoric bliss that I think every single person in the room was already smiling, dancing and singing along to songs that have seemingly been catapulted to all but legendary status. As well as bringing out the hits, the band introduced a small number of brand new tracks into their set, my particular favourite being Control which is just so good, it's off the scale. 24/7, another new one, is punchy and spirited and everyone seemed to fully enjoy it. The new music shows a tenacious and impressive new direction, and left me in no doubt that any forthcoming recordings and releases from the band will be some of their strongest work to date.

Grand finale Sky's The Limit leaves everyone in the room desperate for more. It's the first homecoming gig of 2016, and I think it's safe to say that it could not have been more successful. The Barmines' gigs are always guaranteed to provide an atmospheric, energetic night where fans are treated to a short but exceedingly sweet set comprised of arresting and infectious songs, which do a good job of proving to us all that rock and roll is not and never could be dead as long as these guys are around.

You can read the interview I did with the boys prior to this gig here.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

An Interview With THE BARMINES ~ 07.05.16

The Barmines are the next big thing, and I say that with complete confidence. I've seen them live a fair few times over the last twelve months or so and it's immediately clear to see how dedicated they are to their art and how driven they all are by their dreams of musical success which I definitely admire a great deal. This is a band who do not do things by halves, and in this day and age with so many up and coming bands striving to get themselves noticed, that's just the way it should be. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to speak to the band (comprised of frontman and guitarist Rob Burton, drummer Liam Lockey, guitarist Leam Hayes & bassist James May) just before their packed out Leeds show, which is their first hometown gig of 2016, at Belgrave Music Hall.

Photo by Jonathan Buck

How did you first come together as a band and what's the story behind The Barmines? 
Rob: We used to make music, but under a different name. We used to do lots of covers in pubs and clubs near us. It was mainly me and Liam (Lockey, drummer in the band). Leam (Hayes, guitarist) was in on it originally but he was going through a phase in his life where was just a bit of a little shit, so we just got rid of him, and then we just started doing our own stuff. Leam came back and then James started... pretty much two years ago. But me and Liam have been doing it for like six years.

The Leeds music scene is incredible at the moment... What other Leeds based bands have you seen and been impressed by recently?
James: I saw King No-One at Live At Leeds but they're from York aren't they, but they're kind of Leeds. We like Carnabells, Marsicans and we like The Mexanines.
Leam: I like Pulled Apart By Horses but they've been going for years.

Do you all have day jobs outside of the band?
Leam: I work in a bar.
James: I've been sacked!
(At this point the rest of the band react with shock, as James had seemingly kept this one to himself until now... looks like we have ourselves a Barmines exclusive! Everyone wants to know the details...)
James: I couldn't be bothered going into work so I didn't turn up, and that's why I got sacked.
Liam: Rob's a bus driver, and I'm a van driver.
Rob: I keep my head down. You get this face... you get the bus drivers' face. If I start getting asked for photos, that's when I need to leave.
James: He does get recognised!
Rob: Yeah, I have had a few people say "You're in The Barmines aren't you?"
James: I got on his bus once, and he drove off and left this woman behind and she was banging on the side of the bus! (For the record, Rob fervently denies this!)

We kind of touched on this a bit in the first question, but have any of you played in other bands before The Barmines?
Leam: I used to be in a band called Traffic Wire with Joe Mcgrath.
James: I was in a band for a while when I was younger.
Rob: Me and Liam have been in the same band together for ages.
Liam: I was 15, and you were nearly 22 so it's been quite a few years!
Rob: Proper bromance. It's getting emotional now!

I've heard a lot of people remark on how your live shows, and your music in general, has become a lot bigger of late- what steps have you taken to try and better yourselves as a band and achieve this? Has it been a case of locking yourselves away in rehearsals and the studio?
Liam: We've been practising quite a bit.
Rob: Practising, but always doing the right thing... not just playing loads of gigs, in Leeds at least. We share everything that's going on, every big thing anyway.
Leam: I think with songs as well we go by, in our opinions, our best song and when we write a new song we try and make it better than our best song.
James: We've got a few recorded now and we'll be holding on to them and seeing which is best.
Rob: Our live set is still quite small... there IS loads of songs, but we just won't put them in because we don't feel they're big enough yet.

Photo by Jonathan Buck

I know you're set to play a number of festivals this Summer... what would be your dream festival line up? 
Liam: James' would be Richard Ashcroft. We're playing with Catfish & the Bottlemen and Primal Scream so I'm looking forward to them.
Rob: It'd probably be people we've grown up listening to, so for me it'd be someone like Oasis. I'd be over the moon. Any festival with Oasis on the line up, I'd be happy with that. Liam's would be The Stone Roses because he's a massive fan.
Leam: I listen to so many different kinds of music, so I reckon it'd be a terrible festival with me because I listen to heavy AND quiet stuff, and rap!

What do you think is the best way for up and coming bands such as yourselves to get your music noticed, and your name out there?
James: Write good songs, first of all!
Leam: You see bands who release songs and just put them straight online, with nothing visual to it.
Rob: The first thing is having a half decent song, and then just knowing how to promote it. There's loads of bands that will make a song, put it out... no hype around it, no release, and then they'll do another song and do exactly the same. You need hype around one song. Last year when we did These Days & Nights we got so much hype around it, and then we just wait a bit rather than just releasing loads of songs. We made it a special event, like a party. We're hopefully doing one in September which we can't really say anything about at the moment. That's going to be like a party as well because we're releasing something and making it a bit of an event, not just a gig.

You have amazing support from Mick & Chantel (of Double Denim Live). Do you think it brings stability to new/up and coming bands to have that support and guidance from a manager?
Rob: It takes a lot of pressure off us. When we start getting more emails, they just take that hassle away for us. For us, it should be a matter of writing the songs and playing in the band. These days with bands, you've got to be like a sales rep to sell tickets, you've got to know so much. We've just got a booking agent, and they manage what he does too. It's stressful enough anyway, writing songs and practising, so having them definitely helps.

Which of your songs is your favourite to perform live and why? 
James: The new one for me, it's called Control. Probably because it's new, but I also think its one of the strongest songs we've got so far so I'm looking forward to recording it and eventually releasing it.
Leam: Mine is probably Reliance because I do the most in that song, and it's quite energetic and I like energetic music.
Liam: I was going to agree with Leam, but I love Sky's The Limit because I just love the outro and I love backing Rob up properly, singing. It's always been one of my favourites.
Rob: Mine's one of our newest ones, it's called 24/7. Thats a bit of a love song as well. I like the ending as well- it's just one of those songs where you lose yourself in it. Even James, the last gig we did, was singing it because he loved it that much!

And finally... what's next for The Barmines?
Rob: We're doing some recording. We've got a release planned for the back end of this year, so we'll be going full force on that. Then we've got festivals, and a gig in Manchester on the 28th of May. Then we're going back in to record the next move- so it's all about thinking about the next step, which won't be until next March time. So, just planning.

Photo by Jonathan Buck

Full review of the Belgrave Music Hall gig coming soon...

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

An Interview with JUDAS ~ 29.04.16

Admittedly, I was really rather nervous in the lead up to interviewing Judas... Not because they're frightening... far from it, actually; they're genuinely four of the nicest guys. The reason for my serious case of the jitters was the simple fact that I've never interviewed a band before- or anyone, for that matter- and I had absolutely no idea how things would pan out. My main worry was that I'd make a complete fool of myself and spend the entire time stammering... after all, these guys have probably sat through plenty of interviews in their time as musicians, and I wanted to live up to their expectations, whilst making the interview as interesting and fun as I possibly could. Suffice to say the experience has definitely helped me grow in terms of my confidence in being able to do this and I'm incredibly grateful to Judas for allowing me to conduct my very first interview in a freezing cold car park in Barnsley... it was definitely an experience I won't forget!

Judas are a four piece from London made up of frontman John Clancy, guitarist Todd Blackmore, drummer Sam Horvath and bassist James Phillips. With a new EP on the way (expected to be released later this month) the band can be seen touring relentlessly up and down the country, proving themselves as driven and creative artists with an apt ability to put on an extraordinarily unforgettable live show. When I met up with them for a chat before their recent gig in Barnsley, their infectious personalities' and wicked sense of humour immediately became clear to me and I instantly felt at ease in their company.

 How did Judas first come about?
Sam: When we found honest faced Todd on social media!
Todd: We just looked each other in the eyes and we just fell in love.
Sam: We went to our studio in Camden and we just started jamming, and it worked out... and here we are in a car park in Barnsley!

Todd- did you know the guys before you joined the band?
Todd: No, not really.
Sam: We went to the same college but we didn't know eachother. We were actually in the same year and everything. 
Sam: It was a long process finding Todd. It took us about 6 months in all.
John: We had to go through about 40 guitarists. We whittled it down to two- it was like "Who should we pick?" Todd finished his audition and he was amazing, and this other guy was really good. We were like "Who should we pick?" and the guy went "I'll just check if I can be in this band, I'm not too sure," - not you then mate! So then it was Todd.

Do you have a favourite place/venue to play? If so, why?
Sam: Yesterday was great. (the band played Bodega in Nottingham) We love students unions as well... Epsom, and Newcastle. Tramlines in Sheffield, at the Frog & Parrot, that's always popular.
James: I always love a good show in Camden, though. We don't have to drive home!

How important do you think social media is to bands these days, and how has it helped you?
John: It's more important than writing hits, I'd say.
Sam: You could write the best song in the world but if no one knows about it...
Todd: You get people that can just get famous, even if they're not amazing, if they have a good social media backing they can be big themselves.
Sam: Not even just for saying "Oh, we've got a gig tonight", even while we're in rehearsals, and just letting people know we're still a band... and showing people how funny we are!

Does the new EP differ from your previous work?
Sam: 100%. It still sounds like us, it's just a new and improved us. It's a lot different.
John: It's more advanced. The foundations are still the same, but the post production is bigger. There's more strings and keyboards.
James: There's more than just us on the record.
(At this point I asked when we could expect the EP to be released)
Sam: It depends how long the post production takes.
James: At the end of March we thought it was going to be out in April!
John: I think we're gonna do a single release first, not just an EP. It's not in our set yet, we've been saving it. We don't know how to play it yet!

What do you listen to in the van when you're travelling between gigs?
Sam: We have a little game called Superstar D.J. On Spotify we all get to queue one tune, could be anything, and then we play them four in a row and we all vote for whos' we think the best tune was. Whoever wins that tune gets a point.
John: Whoevers' got the most points by the time we get out is the Superstar D.J and they get to make the rules up.
Sam: We have some utter tunes. You just don't know what's gonna play next... we had 'Who Let The Dogs Out'...
Todd: We had 'Chico Time'!
John: Natasha Bedingfield!
Todd: We don't mess about!
Sam: The van music is probably the backbone of the tour.
(Todd wanted it to be known that he is the most recent Superstar D.J!)

What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time per week in which you practise or are rehearsals more spontaneous? 
Sam: 12-6 every Monday, and Wednesday.
James: Last night we stayed at our friends' house and at 12, after getting up and having breakfast, we just set up all our gear and wrote a song. It's whenever and wherever.
Sam: Most weeks we rehearse twice a week. We rehearse the set and then try and write a new song.

If you could choose to provide the soundtrack to any film/television series which would you pick and why?
Sam: I want mine to be 'Kill Bill'.
John: I wanna do a horror movie BUT I'd also like to do 'Game of Thrones'. Just as the guy dies, Joffrey, I'd just do a massive solo- that'd be amazing.
Todd: 'Sons of Anarchy' is mine.
James: I'd really like a horror film, or 'I Love You, Man' because that's my favourite film. If you don't pick your favourite film, you're not really a faithful man.

What do you all do outside of the band? 
Todd: I've got uni so I'm chucked up with work whenever I'm not with these guys.
Sam: We're slowly getting closer to just doing music full time, which is nice. We're not there yet but we're nearly there. That's going to be a dream come true.

How do you think you've evolved as a band since you started out?
John: (pointing to Todd) We've got his honest face now! We write better songs and we all know what we're doing now. Our shows are better, and I feel like we're more confident.
Sam: I think Todd was the missing piece of the jigsaw! The more gigs you play, the more comfortable you feel when you get up and set up and you're there ready to play.
James: We're a lot more consistent with shows. Now that we're doing like two shows every weekend, we're driving up and down the country and we're getting used to that which is nice.
Sam: When you're driving for seven hours for a show there's no use turning up and not putting everything into it.

Finally... where do you see yourselves in 5 years time? What would you like to think the future holds for Judas?
Sam: On a beach with a pina colada with Scarlett Johansson.
John: Basically doing what we're doing now but with a bigger stage.
Sam: Bigger audience, bigger stage, better songs- and a better van! And the same amount of hair!

Catch Judas live at the following dates: 
06.05.16 ~ Sugarmill, Stoke 
07.05.16 ~ Water Rats, London 
13.05.16 ~ The Frog and Fiddle, Cheltenham
14.05.16 ~ Zanzibar, Liverpool
28.05.16 ~ Soundcity, Liverpool

Monday, 9 May 2016

30.04.16 ~ My Live At Leeds Diary: Part 2

Immediately after Carnabells set, I headed to the Leeds University Refectory to catch The Sherlocks. I've been following them for a number of years now and in that time I've seen them go from playing small pubs and clubs to selling out venues on a much larger scale up and down the country as well as scoring some incredible support slots with bands such as The Libertines, Reverend & the Makers and The Enemy. As well as that, they've received huge acclaim from some of the countrys' top radio stations, with their most recent releases Last Night & Heart of Gold being played regularly on Radio 1. Definitely an impressive feat for an unsigned band from Sheffield. They're definitely well deserving of all of this success, having worked incredibly hard over the last few years relentlessly touring and releasing new music. They've yet to release an album but I honestly don't think I've ever seen a band inspire so much loyalty from their fans before; at every show, there's always such a wide variety of people of all ages in the audience, all of whom enthusiastically chant every single word of every single song back at the band as they perform. Live At Leeds was one of the best performances I've ever witnessed from The Sherlocks; they've always been easy, confident performers, and I could tell that they were truly in their element and genuinely excited to be playing to such a huge crowd. Old favourites, including debut single Live For The Moment and Chasing Shadows receive excellent responses but for me the highlight was brand new track Will You Be There, which I hope they go on to record and release sometime soon, because it's a real anthem with absolutely massive potential. This is a band on an exciting journey, and I'm certain that they're destined for big things.

I've been excited about seeing DMA's live for quite some time, having heard amazing things about them from a number of people I know. I remember being at work one Wednesday afternoon and Delete coming on the radio; I fell completely in love with it and from that moment, I knew they were special. With music reminiscent of the 90's Britpop era, their performance is nothing short of stunning. From opening track, the rip-roaring, guitar thrashing Timeless to grand finale Play It Out, everything is effortlessly well delivered and pitch perfect. As the band are about to finish up, with great panache, frontman Tommy O'Dell leaves the stage and exits the venue via the upstairs balcony before the band have even ceased to play. In full view of the audience, he inspires roars of both applause and laughter- and he doesn't even look back. It's a generic term to use, but these guys are VERY cool, and when I watch them perform I just have that feeling that they're going to be HUGE someday soon. Their debut album is a masterpiece, and without a doubt my favourite release of 2016 so far. I hope they come back to Leeds again, soon.

For me, the band I'd been most looking forward to at this years Live At Leeds was always Blossoms. I have a lot of respect and a real soft spot for this band, and like many others, am eagerly awaiting their debut album. I actually saw them live for the very first time at last years festival, and at that point I'd only heard a couple of songs. They had me hooked from the word go and I haven't looked back since. I've seen them a number of times since then, and they seem to get bigger and better each time. The radios have been all over their recent releases, and its great to see them getting the recognition they deserve. I don't know how I managed it, but I nabbed myself a front row spot shortly before they came on stage, and with minutes to go, despite my aching feet it was the most excitable I'd been all day. With a performance oozing charisma and scintillation, I never wanted it to end. They brought out their usual dealing of hits; opener Cut Me & I'll Bleed, the storming At Most A Kiss, and delightfully melodic Charlemagne to name but a few. Latest release Getaway is achingly romantic; it's the first time I've heard it performed live, and I'm not disappointed. It's one of their strongest recordings, a definite step in the direction and perhaps a hint of what's to come on the album. Blossoms are standout, engaging artists in a class of their own. I absolutely adore them.

The second Blossoms end their set with Blow, I'm in a dilemma; I had three choices, and I'd been mulling over it all day. Circa Waves at the University Refectory, Sundara Karma at the Faversham or Rat Boy at Brudenell Social Club. In the end I went for Rat Boy, them being the only act of the three I'd never seen before and plus, as I've probably mentioned before, the Brudenell is my favourite venue in the world. I knew I could expect mayhem from the off, but this will probably go down in history as one of THE most fun live performances I have ever witnessed. Jordan Cardy, aka Rat Boy, most certainly has the likeability factor, and I find him to be both amusing and charming in equal measure. He comes across well, and with comic crowd interaction, stage diving and even an audience invasion at the end of the night- it's an energetic set, packed full of catchy, infectious, indie-pop anthems giving the audience plenty of opportunities to sing, jump and dance- fully immersing themselves in the final hours of Live At Leeds 2016.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

30.04.16 ~ My Live At Leeds Diary: Part 1

Live At Leeds is without a doubt my absolute FAVOURITE day of the year. Generally, and I'm sure you'll all agree, the best thing about a music festival is that carefree attitude we all take on when we're attending them... it's a real joy not having to worry about anything except for which band you're seeing next, and where. Pure unadulterated BLISS! I'm particularly fond of L.A.L because not only does it always have the most incredible line up but also because it also helps to bring attention to the AMAZING venues scattered around the city- and there are just so many of them! Most of them are within walking distance of one another too, so the fact that this festival isn't hosted by just a single venue really isn't a problem. I suppose the only issue is the fact that there just isn't enough hours in the day, and unavoidably some of the bands clash. I missed out on seeing a fair few of my favourites because they were timed to be on at the same time as somebody else, which was disappointing, but I still had the most fantastic time.

For the first time in it's 10 year history, Live At Leeds had added a (free entry) Briggate Stage. Located in the very heart of the city, it was a lot of fun to see the live music outdoors and also interesting to see the bands catching the attention of not only their fans who had purposely come out to see them but also passers by. It was definitely a great idea introducing this stage, and I hope they bring it back next year too. My day started here just after noon with the fantastic Glass Caves, who I recently reviewed when they played at Brudenell Social Club a few weeks ago. You can read that here. As always, they put on a thoroughly entertaining show and I felt that this set was quite experimental for them, as it consistered almost entirely of new tracks with only a single well known album track 'Out Of Control' added in towards the end. It was a performance packed full of humour courtesy of frontman Matthew Hallas... and a marching brass band who decided to cut through Briggate between tracks half way through the set! I found myself smiling throughout, and I really enjoyed hearing their new songs which I'm now becoming somewhat familiar with after having heard them entwined in their set at recent live shows.

Glass Caves
My second band of the day was York based King No-One at Belgrave Music Hall. I have nothing but praise for these guys, having met and seen them live a number of times now. They have a fantastic work ethic and can often be seen busking on the streets of both York and Leeds, proving their dedication to their art and undoubtedly pulling in lots of new fans along the way. They have a strong fanbase, and I'm told the venue was at capacity before the band even begun their set. It was great as always to hear more well known tracks such as Constellations, Foreign Tongue and their most recent releases, Stay Close & Say My Name- but the most exciting part of the set was undoubtedly new track, Halo. It's always been my opinion that this band have HUGE commercial potential. They're talented, enthusiastic performers who work well together and have the ability to create and aptly perform some of the catchiest indie/pop orientated tunes I've ever heard in my life. They have a way of producing the most memorable choruses that stick in your head, and when performed live you can't help but have a dance and sing along.

King No-One

Carnabells opened the Leeds University Union Stylus stage at 5pm, and as per, completely blew me away with a shimmering, blissful set filled with their usual helping of feelgood, unforgettable anthems. I've already touched on their new music in a previous write up which can be found here. They're an absolute joy to watch and it was great to see so many people dancing and reacting so positively to a set that was mostly made up of songs that perhaps many of them had not heard before. It's so wonderful to see them growing as a band in terms of both their performance and their overall sound and image. This is a band incredibly well suited to the festival environment, and with an ever increasing fanbase I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing them filling headline slots in the years to come.

Part 2 of my Live At Leeds Diary coming soon...

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

EP Review: The End's The Start Where We Begin ~ The 48k's

Doncaster based band The 48k's have been making music together since late 2009, but admittedly I'd never listened to their music until I was sent over their brand new EP to review. The band is made up of frontman Ryan Lightfoot, rhythm guitarist Simon Katuszonek, lead guitarist Steven Dale, bass guitarist Adam Golightly and drummer Chris Morris. Theirs is a name I've heard of before through mutual friends, and I could kick myself for not having gotten into their work much sooner- to say what they do is notable would be an understatement. I was instantly impressed by the obvious level of professionalism within their music; each track displays a strong, engaging rhythm, backed up by the rich and distinctive vocals of frontman, Ryan. There's something delightfully old sounding about this band both in terms of instrumentation and vocals. It reminds me of that classic 60's era rock and roll, which I just love. When I first pressed play, I was reminded of The Beatles- a comparison which I feel sure the band have perhaps heard before.

Opening track "Do As I Say" is a towering musical attack, and it's absolutely brilliant. Sharp and commanding lyrics as well as stellar guitar riffs throughout give the song a somewhat dark feel, but that is by no means a bad thing. This track has honesty and passion in abundance, and is undoubtedly a raw and concise account of the songwriters' emotions at the time of writing the song.

"Out Of Time" is my favourite from this EP. I listened to it a few times on repeat, and with every listen I became all the more taken aback by just how monumental a track it is. Melodious guitars, and a memorable chorus will assuredly make this one particularly popular at live shows. The song is delivered well and with that immense confidence that I've come to expect of them as a band, just from listening to them for the very first time through this EP.

Third track "Return The Favour" is considerably softer than the first two. It's rich and romantic, and as a new listener it's great for me to be able to hear the band somewhat 'stripped back' as this shows how versatile they can be as musicians and leaves me all the more eager to hear more of their previous work to see how it compares. This song has a certain vulnerability to it, which I like. It's certainly pleasant to listen to, and I find it quite relaxing.

The EP ends on a high with "Take It In", a dynamic number reminiscent once again of times gone by due to its 60's era feel. It has a somewhat soothing quality to it, and the lyrics are inspiring and positive. I've quickly become aware of this bands' wonderful ability to draw you in with snappy, stylish choruses and this one is no different. I particularly like how this chorus consists of the EP title itself, making it all the more enduring and memorable.

This is a band who clearly settle for nothing less than perfection when it comes to the deliverance of their music. They have some pretty impressive support slots under their belt, having played alongside acts such as The Enemy, Reverend & the Makers and The View. They're compelling artists with that unique ability to truly tell a story through their lyrics and they make it so easy for the listener to associate with them. Musically, all four tracks on this release are thought provoking, honest and well put together. I hope to catch them live sometime soon, so that I can really appreciate these songs in all of their glory.