It’s been nearly two months since Time for T’s official Brighton debut album launch at The Rialto Theatre. So why so long to get the review up I hear you ask? There are a number of reasons or excuses I could give, but the most obvious one is that it’s taken me this long to prize the album out of my car’s CD player! So without further delay, here is it!
Time For T – Hoping Something Anything Tracklisting
Back to School
Hoping Something Anything
Hoping Something Anything – Album Review
Hoping Something Anything is a long overdue album from a band who in spite of spending significant time abroad over the last few years still know how to pack out a Brighton show in a heartbeat. Their close network of some of the city’s best upcoming bands and acoustic acts certainly doesn’t hurt this, but if Time For T was playing in a dark and mouldy basement, their fans would no doubt show up with candles and clothes pegs for their noses.
Time For T’s self-titled 6-track EP was released in 2015 and is arguably only 4 tracks short of what would have been a perfectly formed debut album. However, by releasing it as an EP, Time For T gave themselves more time to tour, write new songs and gain valuable life experience. The release of their first single from the record, ‘Rescue Plane’, back in 2016 saw Time For T being atop the Spotify Viral Charts. This was followed up by ‘Wax’, with its psychedelic and wonderful video (which you can watch below).
The album features a fantastic collection of stories covering everything from long-distant relationships, tales about what we assume to be ex-girlfriends, school, personal philosophies and much more. Each song is filled with a rich narrative, like a sandwich bulging with filling making it all the more delicious, and has a top quality production to match. You can be assured that the album was not a rushed job, and now that it has been released, it will be just as slow-burning as it was to create.
If you’re into clever lyrics, delightfully twisting melodies and slick grooves, look no further. It would make a great Christmas present for the whole family, so why not get a copy for your nan, mother or that girl that you fancy at work but haven’t had the courage to ask out. Things can only go one way really. Good luck!
Hello once again live music lovers. I hope you’ve been busy filling your ears with the best live music you could find during the Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe, Great Escape and the Alternative Great Escape. We were certainly spoiled for choice and whilst I appreciate that financially May might have packed a bit of a punch, let’s not forget that there is always great live music to go and see, for free or on a very tight budget. Here are my top picks for June 2016.
One of my favourite parts of writing my blog is discovering new talent that is coming to Brighton. This band is one such band that I will be seeing live for the first time this month, and I think that you should too. Here’s five great reasons to come along:
They write great music – I’m always one to support new talent (particularly from Brighton and the surrounding areas) and it’s great to discover a new act for the first time (especially to see them live). Signals’ songs are crafted and calculated, precise and purposeful.
Festival tried and tested – With performances at Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival and Larmer Tree and performance scheduled for Kendal Calling and Common People planned later this year, the band have experienced playing on larger stages, which is a great experience for upcoming bands.
Great supporters – With great reviews from local websites as well as BBC Introducing‘s Adam Dowling and Radio 6 DJ Rob Da Bank, they are certainly worth giving a first listen to.
Great venue – Komedia’s Studio is a fantastic intimate venue, with a great sound team always keeping everything sounding crisp.
Whilst many bands take a break from time to time, few manage to pursue other projects for over two decades before coming back as strong as ever. Well that is what Slough 5-piece Thousand Yard Stare have done, reforming in 2016 after first calling it a day in 1993. After playing an originally planned one-off sell-out show at the Borderline in London in June 2015, public demand from their dedicated following was so strong that it has no led to their reformation and revitalised their joy for performing together once more.
With their latest album ‘Live At Electric Studios’, recorded at Brighton Electric in just two days, being released the day after the show at an album launch at the famous 100 Club in London, this show is a great opportunity to see the band performing their new material live, as it was recorded, before its official release.
Support comes from some the old friends, Southampton band The Lost Boys.
Facebook Event – Sat 11th June/ Sun 12th June – 1pm Brighton City Airport – Tickets from £64.90 for 1-day or £115.50 for a weekend ticket – BUY TICKETS
A cheeky 2-day non-camping festival called Wild Life is returning after it’s successful debut last year. With some great names including Rudimental and Disclosure (the organisers of the Festival), DJs including Annie Mac, Carl Cox & Eats everything, bands like Bastille, De La Soul and The Avalanches and solo artists including Jack Garrett, James Bay plus many more, there is something at Wild Life for all musical palettes.
Beach House are one of those bands that I’d heard a lot about before I’d heard them myself. Baltimore duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally work with legendary independent record labels Bella Union and Sub Pop to distribute their dream-pop/indie-rock records, which have captured the hearts of their widespread international fan-base. With not one, but two albums released in 2015 within 2 months of each other (Depression Cherry & Thank Your Lucky Stars), there is certainly a wealth of recent material for the band to showcase in this concert at one of Brighton and Hove’s best music venues – for atmosphere and acoustics it is up with the best of them, with a larger capacity than many of the city’s venues but still keeping its intimate setting.
Check out their set at the Pitchfork Festival in Paris 2015 and book now, as this gig has already been moved from a smaller venue in Bexhill due to popular demand!
After great anticipation from the band’s dedicated online following, Phoria will finally be playing their next hometown show this month on Wednesday 15th June at The Haunt, following the release of their eagerly awaited debut album, Volition. Championed by the likes of Radio 1 and with a 4**** review of the album already in Q Magazine, there are high expectations for this show, the first that the band have played in Brighton in TWO YEARS!
If you’ve not heard of Phoria before, they are a prime example of what hard work, creativity, perseverance and patience can produce, with their first album coming out 5 years after their debut release.
Support is yet to be confirmed but the show is bound to be a blinder so don’t miss out on a rare chance to see the band live in their home-town. Watch the video for their recent release Undone. (Video by Jeb Hardwick and Thom Novi)
The Crossing Borders Festival is an 8-day event spreading across a number of venues in Brighton & Hove this June. The festival is organised by local group called Sanctuary on Sea, the Brighton & Hove branch of the UK-based network ‘City of Sanctuary’, which welcomes individuals who have sought sanctuary within the UK. The festival is a celebration of the international musicians who are based within the UK and is designed to cross cultural and musical borders by opening people up to new music, possibly from countries whose music they are not familiar with. See my top two picks from the festival below.
My first pick from the festival is the opening event, which sees the Regent’s Orchestra (conducted by Peter Michael Davison) performing Barber’s signature Adagio For Strings and Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony and Les Illuminations and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony Op. 110a. The concert is on Saturday 18th June at 7:30pm at St. Mary’s Church on St James’s Street. Tickets cost just £12+bf. BUY TICKETS
My second pick is a double bill gig at The Old Market in Hove, featuring charismatic jazz duo Claire Martin and Ian Shaw, followed by the Congolese and Cuban music of Grupo Lokito. The Festival is particularly pleased to have Ian Shaw on the line up, due to his tireless efforts helping refugees in the Calais Jungle. The show will offer a real variety of music with North and South American as well as African influences Tickets are £15 and are available from TOM Box Office or online.
You can find out more about the Festival and all of the shows on their website below.
Welcome to this month’s live entertainment guide What’s On Brighton May 2016 featuring 3 metropolitan Festivals – Brighton Festival (7-29 May), Brighton Fringe (6 May – 5 June) and The Great Escape (19-21 May) – and much more besides. If you’re not one to go out to gigs, theatre, comedy and the like, then this month is the perfect opportunity to see some of the finest performers, musicians and artists from around the world showcasing their wares in our humble city. I will go into more detail with them as the month goes on and my show previews begin to surface. So for now, it’s business as usual with my monthly what’s on live entertainment and music guide for Brighton for May 2016.
Many of you will have no doubt heard of Adam Buxton through the same way that I did – his YouTube hit series BUG, where Adam would trawl through the internet for the best comments on music videos and rip them to shreds with a clever deadpan delivery. His comedy comes not only from his delivery but his great choice of content, which resonates with the average internet user – and some would say the more time you spend online, the funnier BUG becomes. Fast forward a few years and Adam Buxton has moved on from BUG – I recently saw him on 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown which was also hilarious.
In a similar format to the Live at the Apollo comedy nights, Live at Theatre Royal features a number of other comedians alongside Adam Buxton including Edinburgh Comedy Award winner 2015 Sam Simmons, mischievous observations from Dane Baptiste and comedy pop star Mae Martin MC for what promises to be a memorable night of comedy!
For those who’ve not heard of Adam Buxton, below is an episode of BUG to give you an idea what may be in store for the show.
Local singer-songwriter Ed Sansom is releasing his long-awaited debut EP, The Talk at this FREE EP Launch at The Hope & Ruin. Moving from being a solo artist with a loop pedal to enlisting a full backing band, Ed’s music has taken a step away from singer-songwriter towards a fully-formed frontman for his own band and I look forward to hearing them in force at the show, having only seen Ed playing solo before.
You can listen to the EP on Spotify and it’s available to buy online from iTunes for just £2.99. Support comes from some great emerging local talents, Megan Lara Mae who will be playing a full band set and Sam Jordan, ahead of his own EP launch at The Joker on Friday 6th May.
After seeing Tiago performing a solo set, in support of Basia Bulat last month at the Hope & Ruin, I’m thrilled to see that Time For T will be back performing in Brighton as part of their May tour – and not just once, also performing at Marwoods on 21st May as part of the Alternative Great Escape Festival. Which vocals off the scale and impressive guitar licks to fill in, Tiago is very comfortable in his own skin when performing solo and takes it to another level when playing with the full band. Tiago’s solo EP released last month and is available to buy now – you can get a cheeky preview of it on Soundcloud too. Head on down for what will undoubtedly be a busy one at the pint-sized Prince Albert.
Following a number of sell-out performances in Brighton, including at the Concorde II in October 2015, Louisa Rose Allen (better known as the artist Foxes) is returning to Brighton to showcase her new album, All I Need, which released on 5th February this year. With just shy of 300,000 YouTube followers, I imagine the last few tickets will sell out quickly so don’t hang around!
Welsh language folk music group 9Bach is returning to Brighton this month, fresh from the release of their latest album Anian – which translates roughly as temperament, nature or instinct (I am sure this will be clarified at the gig). Their previous 2014 album Tincian won Best Album at the BBC Folk Music Awards 2015, so the bar is set pretty high with the follow up, and judging by the music reviews that I’ve seen of it so far, it does not disappoint at all.
Whilst listening to music in a language other than your own can be challenging at times, you appreciate the melody, intonation and feeling of the songs more without having to make out the lyrics, something that I usually find takes dominance when listening to folk songs. 9Bach’s performance last year was intimate, intricate and engaging and left you with a sweetness in your ears in the way that a lollipop leaves its residue in your mouth long after you’ve finished it.
Welcome to this month’s live music Brighton What’s On Guide – featuring two EP launches, the return of a Canadian folk favourite of mine and much more.
Before we begin, I’ve created a playlist for you to sample the artists coming to Brighton this month – it’s great listening whilst you’re at work. The playlist is just under an hour and has some great new music for your ears. I hope that you enjoy it!
Fancy a night of something a little different? Then head down to The Old Market in Hove for ‘Good Rockin Tonight’, the latest show from doo-wop crooner Si Cranstoun. Combining influences from many of the greats from Northern Soul and Motown, Si has been likened to Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson – certainly not something that you hear every day!
Complete with a 6-piece live band, Good Rockin Tonight promises to be a night where you won’t be sitting down quietly and politely clapping between tracks. With his overpowering vintage vibes and contemporary R&B edge, Si Cranstoun will start your weekend with an energetic bang that will leave you on a high until Monday morning. Check out his track Dance For Evermore below and buy your tickets from the link above from The Old Market.
QM Records – Tue 12th April – 8pm Patterns – FREE ENTRY
The latest in a series of regular nights put on by QM Records, local talent Giorgia-May will be launching her second EP, the follow up to her debut Trouble Sleeping (2014) at Patterns in this FREE night of great live music from a host of emerging Brighton musicians – the city where many great musicians are born, but even more visit and never leave (except to go on tour of course).
Giorgia-May’s music is smooth and well-crafted easy listening, mixing jazzy chords with a sultry vocal which doesn’t need to shout to draw the attention of the listeners in – it’s the musical equivalent to draping a silk scarf around somebody and slowly pulling them towards you.
Supports come from some great local acts, soulful rising star Mariella West (who will hopefully be performing her recent release ‘Sober‘), Francesca Fulmini (playing with her amazing new band) and fresh from his very own EP release show in February, Rob Godfrey. It’s a free entry show so if you’re free, get down and support some local live music.
One Inch Badge – Thur 14th April – 8pm The Prince Albert – Tickets £5 adv + bf, £7 otd – BUY TICKETS
The instantly likeable The Island Club caught my attention with a single track, Paper Kiss (video below) and I straight away felt like they were a band that I’d been listening to for years. Headlining at the intimate Prince Albert (just underneath the arches of Brighton station), The Island Club’s music will surely have people up and dancing, bouncing off the band’s infectious energy and feel good music.
Island Club have been busy over the last few months, playing some packed out London shows, including gigs at KOKO and Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. Catch the band live in Brighton ahead of their upcoming set as part of The Great Escape Festival (19-21st May 2016) where you can be sure to expect big things, with industry scouts on the look out for the hottest new talent to snap up.
Support comes from Brighton based guitar duo Tuska, performing their spacious alternative anthemic tracks to start the night off.
Fri 15th April – 7pm Patterns – Early bird £6. £10 otd – BUY TICKETS
Returning from a recent crowd-funded trip to perform at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Normanton Street are sure to receive their usual strong local support for their first Brighton show since their return (and since their NYE bash at Prince Albert). The show is part of a 3 date tour Brighton – Manchester – London) to support their new EP, ‘Life’s Real’, starting with the official EP Launch show in their adopted hometown of Brighton.
Turning what was formerly Audio, primarily a club venue not particularly associated with live music, into a regular venue for emerging live music, supporting local artists through their label QM Records has been one of their great contributions to the city of Brighton – and one that people need to take notice of.
Two years is too long to be away from Brighton in my opinion, but Basia Bulat has finally returned, bringing with her the spoils of her labours in the form of her latest album ‘Good Advice’, which was released in February this year.
Following on from a mammoth USA tour, including a number of shows at SXSW, Basia is in the UK for just a handful of dates before continuing her tour across Europe throughout April and into May. Her catchy melodies, charming stage demeanour and assortment of instruments that she plucks out of her flight case are three great reasons to see her live – and if you’ve heard her music then you’ll know it’s not a particularly hard sell.
Read my review of her last Brighton show in 2014 on Welovebrighton.com – Basia Bulat Blows Brighton Away (Feb 12th 2014) – and watch the video for the track that I first discovered her from ‘Tall Tall Shadow’ the title track from her 2013 album.
If you’re into fine coffee (or tea), cake and music then The Marwood is the venue of your dreams. This cafe is filled during the daytime with everybody from businessmen to hipsters, students to single mums – a wide array of the people from the cosmopolitan city of Brighton, and in the evening a few nights a week, the place doubles up as an intimate music venue, particularly suited to acoustic acts and stripped down band sets.
Laura Reznek is a Canadian singer-songwriter, based in London who is heading to Brighton as part of her mini UK tour, showcasing her 2015 album ‘Who Came Before Us’ – You can listen to the album on her soundcloud page. From first listen there is something captivating about her music, from her soprano highs to her gravelly lows and her smooth tones in between, Laura’s songs are varied in mood, texture and style, with an album that effortlessly fluctuates between slower ballads and up-tempo Alanis-esque tracks. Watch the video for her track Staircase below and come along (if not just for the coffee and cake, but also for the great music).
Over the last few months I’ve been sent a lot of great new music which I’ve unfortunately been too busy to give a proper listen to, but no more! I’ve finally devoted an afternoon to the task and am pleased to be able to give you all my take on a selection of great local and unsigned music which has graced my ears over the summer and into the autumn. If you have a listen and like any of the music, please check out the links provided to see where you can the artists live, buy there music, or just tell them that you’re a fan. After all, it’s only fair that good work should be appreciated. Without further ado here is my New Music Review – October 2015, featuring Gavin Chappell-Bates, Lewis Bootle, Vices, Tommy Sissons and Daudi Matsiko.
Gavin Chappell-Bates – We Are The Ones EP
Following on from his charismatic debut EP Black Holes, Cambridge-based singer-songwriter Gavin Chappell-Bates (hopefully no relation to the Norman Bates from Psycho) has released his follow up single, We Are The Ones. Mixing influences reminiscent of melodic American pop-rock with a certain Brit-pop sensibility, We Are The Ones sounds like a new single from an established band, not a solo artist at the early stages of a promising career. With simple and catchy guitar lines and vocal melodies, the song could be a festival anthem if given the chance with its subtle simplicity weaving its way under your skin. Check out the video below and listen to the full EP on soundcloud.
The world must be moving pretty fast for Herefordshire singer-songwriter Lewis Bootle. One minute he is getting picked up by BBC Introducing, then he releases his debut EP ‘Friction In The Funds‘, and now he has been announced as Best Unsigned Male in the Best of British Awards in association with Richer Sounds. Just like George Ezra, Hozier and Ed Sheeran before him, Lewis is somebody that you will want to latch on to now before it’s nigh on impossible to see him play live in a venue smaller than a stadium.
The EP mixes acoustic stripped back acoustic vibes with Sheeran-esque vocals (half-sung and half-rapped) in a self-aware showcase of vocal and instrumental dexterity . For fans of narrative, modern and suburban songwriting, such as that of Frank Hamilton and Brighton band Half Crown.
Another debut EP, this time from Greg Simpson a.k.a Vices, Forest Floor opens like a bull in a china shop, hitting everything in its path. Musically it has a lot going on, with a strong American influence which brings to mind +44 in places, and elements of shoe-gaze, electronica and in a non-conventional way, jazz. There’s something slightly unorthodox about the music, but its unpredictability and variety is fresh, exciting and enticing. The 7-track EP was released on 19th October so why not try something new today with the Forest Floor EP. Listen to track 2 of the EP, ‘Catholic Funeral’ below.
Mixing spoken word with dance production from St. Longplayer, Tommy Sissons’ latest EP is a socio-political commentary on the events of summer 2015. In Tommy’s effortless and clear poetic style he addresses the election (Who Gives A Fuck About Politics) and respecting women (Be My Woman) amongst other topics, all the while seeming to scream “what is wrong with my generation? Why don’t people care about anything that matters?” This sobering reality draws your attention to many shortcomings of the youth of today, and in truth the majority of society, in an easy to digest way. You don’t have to be a fan of spoken word or dance music to appreciate what Tommy is doing. He’s a one man revolution, and a true uprising talent which has already been spotted by BBC Radio1Xtra and Channel 4 . See my review of his previous EP Etchings and do yourself a favour and download Summer of Discontentment EP for free here!
Daudi Matsiko – The Lingering Effects of Disconnection EP
After spending a lovely sunny afternoon on the beach during The Great Escape, I’ve been a big fan of the guy as well as his music. Just like his music, he’s humble, understated and definitely something special. This cheeky little 4-track acoustic EP is like a mix of Jack Johnson’s guitar, Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s vocals and an overarching sombreness of a funeral . The tracks are raw like flesh-wounds from falling off your bike as a child, or emotionally somewhere between heartbreak and grief. Yet somehow, hope is not lost. Listen and enjoy a live version of track 4, take me old below and check out the EP when it drops on 27th November.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be one of three performers at the June edition of Sofar Sounds Brighton, which was held inside the lovely venue of the Dynamite Gallery in Brighton on Trafalgar Street.
After pretty severe delays on the train (considering it was just a 3 minute journey from Hove to Brighton station), I arrived about 15 minutes before the doors opened and a stage was set inside the bay of the shop window. The first act on was a very stripped back version of The Fiction Aisle, just 1/5 of their full line-up with just Tom White on vocals and acoustic guitar, backed up by the lovely sounds of a Korg played by Alan Grice. Their set consisted of just three songs, as unfortunately Alan had somewhere else to be straight afterwards, however the set was certainly short but sweet! Tom’s soft vocals were expressive and dynamic in places, which slotted in well under his guitar playing and the smooth wash of sound on the keys, which featured well throughout, embellishing the chords and playing solos to give the songs a welcome new dimension. I’d not heard TFA before and this appetiser has certainly made me want to see the full band set-up live very soon.
After a quick removal of equipment from the stage I went up to play. As the gig was unplugged, there was no technical wizardry required and without amplification it definitely felt like there was less of a barrier between the performer and the audience. Having not played a live show in a little while, particularly one of this kind with nowhere to hide, I was keen to get my first song out of the way to feel more comfortable. I glanced at my set-list and then ignored it and played an old track Sway that my girlfriend had requested I play and I had previously dismissed. The audience were silent and still. It is quite unlike anything I have experienced as a performer before. I looked up and felt like I was some kind of teacher with the best behaved class in the world. Except I wasn’t teaching them anything, just playing them a few of my songs.
After encouraging the audience to imagine that they were inside the cool looking painting behind me (it was quite hot in the gallery mid-heatwave) I played Is This It then High Masts, a tale of two friends from uni who were never meant to split up (which the audience seemed to genuinely care about). Finally, a shameless plug of my new single All I’ve Got/Heartstrings (neither or which I played as they are piano-based songs) which I encourage people to look up on YouTube as they have cool videos, before finishing off with Spend A Little Time With Me. Applause. Interval. And relax. Buzzed.
Some of the audience spoke to me during the interval as we all stood outside, some smoking and many heading to the corner shop for a drink or two. One thing Sofar Sounds does very well is uniting the performers and the audience, which makes it much easier to interact with everybody and help to develop your fans in an organic and honest way.
The final act of the evening was Will Mussett who performed some solo acoustic versions of tracks from his album November Storm. (You can here the album in full here). Leaning on the pop side of singer-songwriter, Will was featured as last Wednesday’s BBC Introducing Track of the Day with his song Follow, so he is definitely one to keep an eye out for in the future.
Overall, the Sofar Sounds Brighton gigs have been some of the best unplugged and stripped back shows that I have been to in recent months. The unusual venues add an excitement for both the performers and the audience and by keeping things short it gives the audience a chance to try out some new bands and listen to more online/ speak to them after to find out about upcoming gigs. I would strongly recommend all local performers to try to get a slot to perform at Sofar Sounds Brighton, and any new music fans to apply for tickets each month to some of the most memorable intimate gigs you will ever see.
Before GRASSCUT’s gig in Basement at the Otherplace, I caught up with founding member Andrew Phillips to talk about his career as a film composer, the new GRASSCUT album and how he let Passenger go…
To what extent do you think that university prepared you for going out into the working world?
Well I didn’t study music at university. I studied English and Spanish and then did an MA in American Poetry. When I was in London I was into the avant-jazz scene and that was a big influence in my work. As a composer, I think that university prepared me for it academically, but as a musician I think that it’s something that I’ve picked up over time.
Was there a pivotal point that made you realise that you wanted to be a composer?
Yes there definitely was. It was in the mid-90s and I’d written this piece which combined spoken word with a Steve Reich style piano part. I played it back and I thought “This is pretty good!” and it seemed that my friends agreed too. In the early stages I was experimenting with melody, spoken word, minimalism and field recording, but I didn’t really have the tools to do it like I can now.
Nowadays, a lot of music graduates turn to teaching for fear of not finding another job. Did you find it hard when you came out of university to get your first commissions as a composer?
I got my first commission from Thames TV after a friend of mine had heard one of my demos and played it to them. At the start it’s hard to find regular work. I’m sure that anybody in this line of work will tell you that. It’s the ‘freelance disease’. But it’s about building relationships with Directors and Producers and editors, sharing a rhythm and an understanding of how each other works. Then if you keep going things build and you get more and more work.
Is there a particular score which you’ve heard that really influenced you and your work over the years?
Paris Texas – It wasn’t the blues of it. It was the loneliness and how it was textured. It was both melancholic and beautiful at the same time.
North By Northwest – And all of the Bernard Hermann/ Hitchcock scores. They were just so powerful.
The Ipcress File – John Barry. We had the same agent for a couple of years. We didn’t cross paths but I’ve always been proud of that.
With a massive film composition scene in the US, particularly in LA, and in London in the UK, what made you settle in Brighton & Hove?
Mainly because of my family. My wife works in television and we lived in London for a few years. Now we have two children and it’s nice to be in Brighton. We had a great few years in London and made some good friends there though. Now with broadband internet it doesn’t really matter as much where I work, so it’s nice to be in a good space, particularly for the kind of reflective music that I write.
Do you have a favourite score of your own work and what do you like about it?
Battle for Marjah (for HBO) and Fire In The Night (BBC), based on the Stephen McGinty book. Marjah is mad, electronic and very intense, and got me an Emmy nomination. Fire In The Night is elegiac, string based, and features Emma (violin) from Grasscut.
You were one of the founding members of the Passenger band, which is now just Passenger, as most people will know him. Was the split amicable? Are you still in contact?
Very much so. I think he may be coming down tonight actually. I had great fun playing in Passenger and I produced the first album, and then a couple more, even after I had stopped playing with Mike. He is a lovely guy, and a dear friend, and it though was a completely different kind of music, although I can hear parts of GRASSCUT in the production of the first album. It’s how I met Marcus O’Dair too (the other half of GRASSCUT).
Why did you first start up GRASSCUT? Was it as a musical escape from writing for film/TV?
It started out as sketches really, trying out different things with the music. It was nice to be able to do something without the restrictions of commissions. There were still restrictions, but they were imposed by us – like writing pieces for a fixed ensemble and of a certain length. But it is nice to have that control over the music and I think it helps with my other compositions too.
How do you divide up your time between GRASSCUT and your other musical work?
It does involve a certain amount of juggling. Sometimes I’ll just focus on one and take time off of the other, but when time doesn’t allow you just have to work twice as hard and manage everything at once. I think it’s very important to play live and not get stuck in the studio with your music. For me, it’s about experiencing the physical force of it, the power of the music and seeing the reactions of people when they’re listening to it.
With the first album receiving such praise from the press, did it make it a hard act to follow?
It was to an extent. We were honestly quite surprised at how well the first album was received. It was made up of pieces some of which I’d had for years, although not in that form, and we were trying to figure out what Grasscut was exactly. The second album is a transitional record, looking back on it now. There are still some tracks on it that we’re really pleased with and we learned some different skills with it. I think the new album is the best we’ve done though, as a whole.
What is your favourite thing about performing live with GRASSCUT?
Singing in harmony. Without a doubt. It’s a great feeling just singing live in harmony.
Is it difficult to replicate the music that you produce live?
Not with this album. I wrote it to be performed. The first album was very difficult to play live, as it was a studio record really. We try not to just replicate the music when we play it live. It’s more like a development or an interpretation of it.
Finally, with the new album out what is next for you both within GRASSCUT and individually?
I’m working on a new film with Channel 4 about the Charlie Hebdo, which I’m sure you can imagine is not an easy thing to work on. For GRASSCUT, we’ve got a bunch of shows lined up and some festivals over the summer and then we’re looking onwards to the next record, which is pretty exciting. But there will definitely be a lot more live performing.
After a physically exhausting month of gigs and city festivals, including Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe, The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, I am still catching up with my writing so will have a lot of content coming this month including interviews, live reviews, EP/Album reviews and a music book review, so keep your eyes peeled for those over the next few weeks.
My top gig from last month was Melting Vinyl and Serious Presents Bill Laurence at St. Georges Church. The show was really something else, showcasing the material from the trio of Snarky Puppy musicians with a string trio and french horn in accompaniment. Bill Laurence’s compositions are definitely in my favourite style of jazz: it’s like taking a long journey without ever leaving your seat.
So here are my picks for the next month with my What’s on Brighton June 2015 gig guide:
Returning after a sellout show in Brighton last Autumn, folk singer Amelia Meath and electronic producer Nick Sanborn will be looking for a repeat performance at Komedia this month. Sylvan Esso, a recent project for both artists, released their debut album last year, which was well received by both their fans and the press. Combining the warmth and emotion of the folk songs with the beautiful soundscapes created in the production, Sylvan Esso give charismatic performances that will leave you spellbound. Don’t believe me? Check out their video for Coffee below.
Support comes from Foreign Skin and Mount Bank (DJ Set) so you can expect to hear some great live and mixed local electronica from start to finish!
In association with Brighton Music Conference (Friday 5th and Saturday 6th June), Battlejam is returning to Brighton Komedia (here’s 10 reasons to check out the Komedia) for the latest installment of their sellout nights, featuring legendary scratch-master JFB and highly sought after and award-winning DJ, A.SKILLZ. If you’ve been before, you will know to expect a display of technical wizardry with great audio and visuals until the early hours. Tickets always sell fast so don’t risk missing out or pay more on the door! Check out the video of JFB doing his thing below with the Raiders of the Lost Arc theme! Enjoy!
A cause that a lot of local people from all generations (including myself) feel strongly about is the preservation and resurrection of the Brighton Hippodrome, a former jewel in the crown of Brighton’s live music venues, hosting everybody from The Beatles to Laurel and Hardy and Sammy Davis Jr. In a benefit to raise money for the charity trying to protect it, Horlock’s Hippodrome and the Lost Theatres of Brighton will be looking at the history of the venue, alongside several other former great Brighton venues which fell by the wayside. For anybody with an interest in local history this is a must, and you’ll be helping a great cause too! Buy your tickets here.
Blind Motive EP Launch Prince Albert – Doors 7:30pm FREE ENTRY
Based on a recommendation from a highly musically in the know friend, I was advised to check out Blind Motive. Whilst they are still in the very early stages with just a hidden EP online, this gig is a free entry EP Launch show at a great live music venue, so what better way is there to spend a Tuesday evening? With a blend of psychedlic rock and Red Hot Chili Peppers grooves, Blind Motive are one to check out if you like catching bands before they’ve fully formed and polished.
Support from Silver’s Got Strings (another band recommended to me) and Mantras, so I am looking forward to hearing a lot of great new music this night.
Marc Halls and Hadleigh Ford + Support
World’s End – 8pm
If you’re into acoustic musicians with a penchant for shameless pop covers and classy originals, in a place that serves great food and a nice choice of booze, this is one for you. If FREE is the only price that you pay for live music, then again you won’t be disappointed – and don’t think that because it’s free that there is a compromise in the music. There really isn’t! Headlining are Marc Halls and Hadleigh Ford, recent collaborators who you can check out in the video below.
Supports from four of my favourite local singer-songwriters Gazz Marlow (InMe), Matt Bonner, Chris Marsh and Edd Mann so I can guarantee that you will be in safe hands from the first time you hear “Testing 1.2….7“.
Electronica/ambient duo Marcus O’Dair and Andrew Phillips return to their hometown for what is sure to be a packed out show at this cool venue on Kensington Street. With rave reviews and a number of high profile collaborators, these guys are at the top of their game right now so catch them while you can. Their latest release, Everyone Was A Bird was released in April 2015, so why not give it a listen and see if it tickles your fancy like it did mine.
Far from taking a breather over the summer, Brighton Philharmonic are running a summer season of intimate performances at Brighton Unitarian Church, showcasing the work of Brighton composers, both living and dead, as well as a few other favourites. The season begins this Father’s Day with some music by Howard Blake (the composer of The Snowman), which he will be performing himself (piano) alongside Peter Adams (cello), and other members of the BPO. With a successful 90th season this year and a snazzy new website, BPO is showing that they can reach more than just the older audiences, so why not check them out? You might just like it! Tickets for all the summer shows and the 2015/16 season are available online.
Fresh off the release of their debut album ‘In, Around The Moments’ (on Maya Jones’ I/AM/ME label), Brighton duo Rachel and Ed will be playing this hometown show to showcase their new material. Describing themselves as “Two drummers from Brighton making new music with electronic toys and acoustic guitars“, gaps blend intricate electronica with simple joyful melodies which work just as well in acoustic versions as they do in the fully produced album mixes. I look forward to seeing them live for the first time and hope that they throw in an acoustic track or two into their set.
Support comes from Foreign Skin, who impressed me earlier this month with their support slot for Slyvan Esso, plus one of my local favourites, Beautiful Boy. See my interview with Dane from BB here.
As announced just a few days ago, Frank Fairfield has decided to end his career as a musician, opting to pursue other avenues with his time which he feels he can devote himself to fully. With a string of dates left, Frank will see out his current commitments including just three dates in the UK, one of which being this gig at The Prince Albert. So if you’re a fan, don’t wait until next time, as there will likely not be another time. Frank’s blend of Americana and as he describes it “Parlor music” is something unlike anything you’ll hear this side of the Atlantic so if that kind of thing floats your boat then don’t miss out!
Support comes from local blues/Americana artist Gwenifer Raymond so be sure to get down early to catch her set.
After their sellout gig at The Haunt in Brighton, I caught up with the boys from Half Crown to talk about the past, present and future of Half Crown.
1. What have you been working on since the release of Everything Goes last year?
That record in particular acted as a showcase of sorts, a body of work with a range of different genres and styles that we’ve been influenced by since the beginning. We learnt a lot from producing that LP and have since then been focusing hard on honing in on a more refined, complete and palatable sound.
2. What is a typical Friday night for Half Crown?
Anything from a night in with a couple bottles of Rioja and the latest HC video to edit, to 5am night cap in a bohemian bass bin, feet stuck to the floor and eyes rolling back into our brain boxes. Bleurrgh!
3. What is your favourite Brighton venue?
Blind Tiger was a cheeky one until the authorities backed the local party pooper and had the place exterminated of any potential good vibrations. These days, the Haunt seems to be a good place for us to throw a show. However, the next stop is The Old Market for the back-end of summer. That’ll be a new one for us, we love the style of the venue and it’s in our parta’ town.. “Hove actually”.
4. What has been your best show to date?
From the Brighton Dome to Cambridge May Ball, (where Louie ended up carried off stage half naked on the shoulder of a security guard, as we got shut down early and ended the set acapella) nothing quite compares to our own party at the old HCHQ, West Street, Brighton, 75 People in the lounge of our flat. Even Oceania filed a noise complaint.
5. What has been the most influential album for the band since you formed?
There are so many influences in the group man, if each writer had to choose I’d say ‘Black Keys – Rubber Factory’ meets ‘Dizraeli and The Small Gods – Moving In The Dark’ and ‘Fat Freddy’s Drop – Based on A True Story’.
6. Did you ever think that you’d be playing a sell-out show at The Haunt?
Oh this is just the beginning Tommy darling. May I call you Tommy?
7. If you could support any artist live who would it be?
Backstage with The Libertines would be interesting.
8. Who is your latest new musical discovery?
Glass Animals, although quite shamefully just properly discovered Van Morrison.
9. How is the search going for new band members?
It’s been pretty challenging actually, after working solidly for 5 years as the original group we’ve developed a working relationship that even the most talented of musicians would struggle to connect with immediately. However we’re confident that the right human will appear at the right time when working so hard in the right direction and pushing forward with our goals.
10. Finally, what lies ahead for Half Crown?
It’s a seriously exciting time for us man, we can’t say much BUT get to BLEACH (above Hare & Hounds) on Saturday 30th May to support us and we may have a whole lot more to discuss in the next interview! There will be a free after party too, with intimate performances from us and a handful of our favourite and most talented Brighton delights.
Check out my review of Half Crown’s EP ‘Everything Goes’ here.
For those of you who left it too late or were unable to afford a ticket for The Great Escape there is good news: the Alternative Escape is also happening in Brighton at the same time and it’s FREE.
As part of TGE15, the Alternative Escape features over 200 artists taking over 15 venues between Wednesday 13th May and Saturday 16th May 2015.
Venues for the Alt Escape include a number of great local bars and pubs such as:
The Black Lion
Latest Music Bar
The Mesmerist (upstairs and downstairs)
The North Laine
The Royal Standard
The Fiddler’s Elbow
As with the main TGE15 event there is simply too much to choose from, but here are a few of my highlights if you find yourself at a loss for where to go for the Alt Escape. Check out my playlist on soundcloud below:
A showcase of great up and coming talent from all over the country. Notable mentions from this all-dayer go to The Science of the Lamps (one of my favourite band names ever)and JJ Draper who I last saw at an open mic in Bangor, North Wales. Really looking forward to hearing both acts play in Brighton!
If you like cocktails, quirky decor and vintage attire then head on down to one of Brighton’s coolest bars for a full day of live music on two floors. Downstairs is the electric set-up, with the upstairs being Gigslutz Unplugged stage, where a lot of the downstairs artists will be playing exclusive acoustic sets. My ones to watch are Will Mussett, Phantom Runners and Garden City Movement, all of whom have caught my eye in the last few months.
Local promoter Brighton Unsigned puts on some of their favourites over three days (Thursday – Saturday). My pick of the litter is Thursday’s line up, finished off with Your Garden Day and Chris Marsh & Edd Mann.
Island Records have long been known for harbouring some of the superstars of the last 50 years, including in recent years Ben Howard, Bombay Bicycle Club, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Drake, Florence & The Machine, Hozier, Jack Johnson, Jamie Cullum, Keane, Mumford & Sons, Passenger, U2 and Weezer. Their showcase is GUARANTEED to be filled with talent and I certainly won’t be missing it! Special acoustic sets from JP Cooper and George The Poet should seal the deal. You’ll need to register for free to be on the guestlist and get there early so you don’t miss out.
London-based PR company and label The Playground PR will be showcasing some of their best and brightest, with artists representing folk, indie, rock and even drum&bass. Expect a real variety and particularly look out for Australian singer-songwriter Hein Cooper in the line-up.
Night House Presents local breaking acts @ Marwood 2pm-9pm
Brighton band Night House will be hosting a 2-day showcase at Marwood, the home of kick-arse coffee. I saw a great Alt Escape event there last year and am sure that this year’s will be just a promising with a very strong line up of local acts including Alex KP, Bella Spinks, Paul Murray and Warsaw Radio.
Official blog of Brighton-based freelance music journalist Tom Sayer