Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Time For T – Hoping Something Anything

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
Time for T – Hoping Something Anything

Time For T – Hoping Something Anything Tracklisting

  1. Blue Train
  2. Ronda
  3. Back to School
  4. Wax
  5. Maria
  6. Galgo
  7. Rescue Plane
  8. Mary
  9. Olympics
  10. India
  11. Tom Tom
  12. Sleepwalk
  13. 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!

Hoping Something Anything Videography

Ronda

Wax

Rescue Plane

Mary

Time For T Links

Facebook

Listen on Bandcamp

Buy on iTunes

Stream on Spotify

Sofar Sounds Brighton @ Lick HQ

On the unsuspecting industrial estate just a stone’s throw from Brighton station, inside the inconspicuous New England House concrete tower block lies the location of last night’s Sofar Sounds Birthday Relaunch Party – in the HQ of Brighton-based fat-free frozen yogurtists Lick.

Surrounded by quirky pictures and photographs, fluorescent Lick lips sign (reminiscent of Rolling Stones), a projector, deck chairs and the Lick-mobile – a bicycle with a frozen trolley for portable delivering of delicious frozen Lick tubs – the musicians seemed to blend right in with the American High School vibe – imagine Power Rangers crossed with Saved By The Bell and you’re almost there!

  • Open Up at Lick HQ
    Open Up at Lick HQ
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Froyo Logo
    Froyo Logo
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • B+W Lick-Mobile
    B+W Lick-Mobile
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Lick Those Lips
    Lick Those Lips
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Marianne Dissard
    Marianne Dissard
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Youth Club
    Youth Club
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Youth Club + Audience
    Youth Club + Audience
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Bosco Rogers
    Bosco Rogers
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.

The first act was the eccentric French-speaking American raised Marianne Dissard who was only a Swan dress short of Björk. Currently couch-surfing across Europe whilst playing a string of tour dates, Marianne’s songs were diverse, ranging from serene in the opener to quite angry in the following track – almost with a Sex Pistols meets Rage Against The Machine style performance. Despite her confetti, poetic French language and disco-ball-come-helmet, she still felt more like a musical petit pain and not a full-sized baguette, not quite reaching her potential just yet, but being well on the way to doing so with a truly captivating performance, just requiring a little bit of work on her backing track production.

Following on was Youth Club, an upbeat indie pop 6-piece from Southend who really reminded me of an old favourite local band called Two Spot Gobi.  Their music is very catchy, melodic and not over-egged – subtle backing vocals and a real feel-good vibe like Jason Mraz or Jamiroquai. I’m still singing their songs today so they are definitely one to keep an eye out for! They’re even playing the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekender this year, so it seems that somebody somewhere must agree with me!

Check out their ‘Brothers EP’ on Soundcloud below. The tracks ‘Breathe’ and ‘People’ which were played from the EP last night were both fantastic with strong melodies and real head-nodding toe-tapping funk. I hope you enjoy the EP as much as I have.

Finishing the night off with some gusto, after an interval for complimentary Lick froyo, were 5/7ths of Bosco Rogers. Their surf rock groove was quite authentic with hammond organ keys and grungy distorted sounds from the lead singer’s Barth’s Rickenbacker.  With a tall blonde bashing a tambourine and singing BV’s, the bassist chugging along and a cajon to finish, this stripped back setup still packed a punch with their snappy lyrics and hook lines.

You can listen to a track off their new EP ‘French Kiss‘ which is to be released on 27th April Worldwide below.

To find out more about Sofar Sounds Brighton, visit the Sofar Sounds Website or their facebook page and sign up to receive gig updates to apply to be a part of the next Sofar Sound gig.

Check out my review of the last month’s show  – Sofar Sounds at Hotel Peliroco.

Sofar Sounds Brighton - April 2015 Lick Lockers
Lick My Locker. Photo by Nicola Jackson.

Sofar Sounds Brighton @ Hotel Pelirocco

Tonight, in the ‘Kraken’s Lair’ basement of the quirky boutique Pelirocco Hotel in central Brighton, Sofar Sounds took over and made a stage for three local artists, Alex KP, Slam The Poet and Our Girl.

Sofar Sounds in Kraken's Lair. Photo by Nicola Jackson.
Sofar Sounds in Kraken’s Lair. Photo by Nicola Jackson.

Walking through the entrance of what looked like a bohemian brothel, down past the spiral staircase, ornamental fittings and plush carpets the Sofar Sounds Brighton team of volunteers were beavering away behind the scenes getting the stage ready for the show – the stage being the shell of a 4-poster sofa-bed. Adjoining to the makeshift venue was the Kraken’s Lair, a bedroom kitted out with a clam shaped-bed, mirrored ceiling, full-blown stripper’s pole and as much Kraken paraphernalia as you will ever likely see in a lifetime.

Sofar Sounds Brighton March 2015 - Alex KP
Alex KP at Hotel Pelirocco. Image by Nicola Jackson.

Performing to the most people who have ever been in one room, the opening act was Alex KP, a singer-songwriter from Cambridge who is currently residing in Brighton. She has a grainy voice like an old tree, and performs lengthy ballads which feel like Sunday afternoon car journeys down winding country lanes – but without the nausea. Her low salty tones have heavy flavours of jazz and blues with no loyalty to conformity or tonality.  Alex has a CD out very soon so keep an eye out for her next gigs to get one!

Sofar Sounds Brighton - Slam The Poet
Slam The Poet at Hotel Pelirocco. Image by Nicola Jackson.

Warming up backstage with some chips in hand were Slam The Poet. Performing to a backdrop of samples which sounded something like a cross between Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Eminem and Soul II Soul, the lead singer improvised his way through a number of original compositions. He engaged well with the audience, and commented that “…freestyling doesn’t stop, it just trails off. We set up a scaffolding and fill it in”.

After a short interval for drinks and loo breaks, 3-piece Our Girl brought the night to the end with some sexy Buckley-esque guitar lines and the type of grungy shoegaze that you used to hear from the live bands playing at The Bronze in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Their instrumentals were pensive and the vocals of lead singer Soph Nathan were light and floaty, like a good victoria sponge.

Despite the limited space, the attentive audience were very appreciative of the musicians and seemed to be having a great time. I’m sure that there were many regulars and also many more who would be telling their friends and applying for tickets again next time.

Sofar Sounds events happen all across the world, usually once a month in a number of UK cities including London, Manchester and Brighton. To find out more about Sofar Sounds or to sign up for their mailing list to be in with a chance of winning tickets, visit http://bit.ly/SofarSignup

www.sofarsounds.com/
www.facebook.com/SofarSoundsBrighton
@SofarSoundsBTN #SofarBTN

Sofar Sounds Brighton

How to write a music blog

In an age of mobile technology dominated by social media and online press, the power has been handed over from the few to the many, particularly with multimedia journalism. It’s easy to find reviews of almost anything online, from obscure indie films to mainstream platinum albums, but it’s not as easy as it looks to write the reviews.

Here is my 10 step guide to writing a music blog that people will want to read:

1. Know Your Stuff

To debunk what may be a common myth amongst music journalism, you do not need to have a formal music education to write about music. You do not even need to be an expert in the field. But what is important is that whatever it is you are writing about is something that you understand and would feel comfortable having a discussion with a fan of the artist about. If you want to say that an artist reminds you of Damien Rice for example, make sure that you know what Damien Rice actually sounds likes and justify (to yourself at least) why you think that. It is easy to make sweeping statement about music to overgeneralise or to look like an expert, but it won’t be long before your reader’s realise you don’t know your Dylan from your Ke$ha. Know your stuff and you will earn your reader’s trust, and if you are lucky, their loyalty too.

2. Write About What You Like

It is so easy to give something a good panning. By nature, we are critical beings and like to cast shade on what others are doing, and often justifiably so, but I ask you this: why? Who wan’t to read a bad review of something? You have have the razor sharp dry wit of a seasoned stand-up, but if nobody know who you are or your voice, then you are just another sarcastic hater who trashes things online. Unless you really hate something with a passion and feel compelled to warn others against it, I suggest writing about what you love, what you really enjoy and you and your readers will want to read about it – and so might the people who you are writing it about, which is the best way to get your work shared around.

3. Meet The Musicians

It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen or smartphone at a show, but the best way to find out information about a band is to get chatting to them. Most local bands are thrilled to talk about their music with anybody that listens, particularly if they might get a review written about their show from it. So get to gigs early to see the supports and stick around afterwards to get chatting with them. It will give you a unique insight into their music that other will not have and it will be interesting to your readers. Plus, you never know which support act you review might be the next big thing, and they may just remember that guy or girl who wrote about them back in the day.

4. Compare and Compère

Two things that audiences like about music blogs is for the acts to be compared and compered. By comparing particular tracks, or the band/artist in general, with known figures helps people to gauge their interest and also helps you as a writer to compartmentalise the music a little, which allows you to be more specific, which is always a good thing. There is nothing worse than vague wishy-washy music journalism, saying things like “the band sounded like Mumford & Sons on crack”… By compèring the acts that you review, you are introducing them to a potentially new audience so give a little background information – not a full Wikipedia biography. If you are reviewing a show, review the support too. It’s a good way to engage with more people, as support acts and local acts are more likely to share your work amongst their networks, and if you like them, odds are that other people will too.

5. Write Regularly

Not everybody can polish off a swift 2,000 words in their lunch break – and that is definitely a good thing. People have a finite amount of time and attention, so don’t overstay your welcome or become a nusiance. Write when you can, but regulate it. If you know you won’t be writing something for a while after a busy period, why not schedule your posts to go out evenly rather than writing in sporadic spurts every so often. People crave regularity, as much as they may not admit to it, and consistently well written work is the key to gaining and keeping readership of your blog. Keep it fresh, interesting and really care about what you write – writing regularly will really help you with this and prevent you from writer’s block or general writing malaise.

6. Good Quality Images

We’ve all done it, but don’t just grab any old image from Google Image Search for a band. Make sure the images you use are current and where possible signed off by the band. Most bands will have a press section on their website, or at least a gallery of recent images which should be fine to use to accompany your blog. If you can’t find anything, drop them an email to request some images and they will more than likely reply with what you need – after all, it is free publicity for them and it will really make your blog stand out by having the latest and best images to complement your writing.

7. Look Good/Mobile Friendly

Before you start throwing everything you write out at the world, you may want to think about how it actually looks. Depending on which platform you use, there is a lot of functionality and deign elements which you can customise, so it helps if you have a clear design idea in your head for how you want your blog to look. If you lack a creative eye for design, seek advice from friends, as your blog template and theme is like a shop window, and if visitors don’t like it, they are much less likely to stick around to have a browse. Most blogs automatically optimise for mobile devices, but make sure that yours does by testing it on your phone/tablet. Most users will be accessing your blog through mobile devices so if it doesn’t look good then it won’t keep them coming back for more.

8. Check It Twice

Just like Santa Claus, you should check everything in your blog is how you want it to be. Do your image link to the right places? Do your web-links work? Have you spelled all the names correctly? Is your factual information correct? It’s always better to double check before publishing to avoid the embarrassment of being corrected online, or losing reader through silly grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting mistakes.

9. SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a huge field in itself – people work full time just in this field of IT – but put simply, it about making sure your website/blog shows up when people are searching for the information which you are giving. There are a lot of tools which can help you do this through your blog site which are very simple to use and can have a real effect on online traffic. It is helpful to get into good habits, such as giving articles useful names that are likely to be search terms for people, and inserting meta descriptions for articles and images. If you don’t know what these are or how to do this, its easy to find out online, and this would really help your blog to get noticed.

10. Spread The Word

This should be quite obvious, but once you have your work all polished and ready to publish, be sure to send it out to all of your networks with whom it might be relevant. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube are all powerful tools with huge numbers of online daily users, so use the resources that you have available to you and network, spread the word and take constructive feedback on board to help you become the best writer that you can be. You never know when it may turn into more than just a hobby – it could well lead into a full-time career!

www.facebook.com/tomsayeruk
www.twitter.com/tomsayeruk

Mid-December Gigs Update

As only the bravest are going out, even with their Christmas Jumpers and Duffle Coats, December is always a  tough time for musicians to fill out their gigs. That said, I’ve been to some amazing gigs already this month at some great venues that you may not have been to before. Have a read and checkout what is on over the upcoming months.

Martin Harley @ Latest Music Bar – 3rd December

Having first seen Martin play in a small cafe in Bangor a few years ago, it felt very comfortable seeing him this time from the back of the small basement venue at Latest Music Bar. The place was packed with fans of the music and the venue, as everybody sat comfortably at their little tables enjoying the support Sam Lewis and I saw a lot of people come up and by his CD during the interval after his performance of his self-confessed sad songs, which he performed in between sips of red wine.

Martin came on to play a few tracks during Sam’s set, which is always nice to see as it is usually the support who is “honoured” to play on a single track for the main act. It was clear that the guys were close friends and performed well together in a very relaxed way, improvising over each other’s parts confidently. Martin has a really calm demeanor on stage and a crazy powerful voice which goes hand in hand with his brilliant guitar skills. I’ve certainly never seen a white man play the blues like him before. Check out his music if you like that kinda thing. It’s awful good!

The venue is intimate, great for acoustic music but equally good for bands as the sound man is some kind of wizard who can make anybody sound great playing there from his dedicated crows nest at the back of the venue. With a varied programme, there is a lot to choose from so why not have a look below and see what is coming up soon?

http://thelatest.co.uk/musicbar/

British Sea Power @ All Saints Hove – 5th December

Always a fan of this venue, One Inch Badge have been using it over the last year as a larger venue to put on some of the great acts that come to Brighton. With plenty of space at the back for the bar and merchandise tables, it’s only real downside is the toilet facilities which often leave you queueing for a little while. So go before you leave the house, like your mum probably used to tell you as a child. Other than that, the sound is great and the setting is beautiful. What more could you want.

British Sea Power were performing as a part of the Brighton Drill Festival, a winter-equivalent to May’s Great Escape Festival, just with fewer venues and bands, but nonetheless still an impressive lineup.

The band on before BSP were called It Hugs Back, an atmospheric and slightly spacey band who made some great musical textures. They were also selling CD albums for £5 with a free t-shirt. Other bands should take note of this as I’m definitely gonna give the album a proper listen very soon and the t-shirt is great promotion for the band so it’s a win-win really.

British Sea Power played a beautiful hour-long set, mostly with accompaniment from a brass quintet from the Bournemouth Symphonic Orchestra, which really gave their filmic dreamy sound some teeth to bite into you with. BSP are also playing at The Haunt on 19th December and from their strong performance on 5th December, I’m keen to see them again!

http://allsaintshove.org/whats-on/

Brighton Philharmonic @ Brighton Dome Concert Hall – 7th December

I’ve always been a big fan of the Brighton Dome as a venue. Inside it looks like a palace, and is the closest thing that Brighton has to the Royal Albert Hall. The sound is great and the venue works just as well for electronica raves, northern soul parties, pop and rock concerts and somber instrumental music. The seats sometimes feel a little bit on the cozy side, but the sound from anywhere in the venue is good. I would recommend the circle if possible though, particularly for an orchestral affair.

The Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra‘s concert series is in its 90th year, so they must be doing something right. The audience is primarily made up of connoisseurs of classical music who were clearly raised on it or grew to love it over time, but there is always room for new faces and younger members in the audience, and it is quite an experience to see an orchestra playing live for the first time. Each concert is quite different, this one being based on the compositions of British composers. The next show is on New Year’s eve at 2:45pm and is always the busiest of the year so book now to avoid disappointment.

http://brightondome.org/whats_on/

Alfie Boe @ Brighton Centre – 9th December

Unfortunately, due to illness the concert was cancelled at the last minute. However, The venue still deserves a shout out for the varied programme that it provides. Admittedly, a lot of the music that is performed there is quite mainstream, but you need to be popular to sell out an over 5,000 capacity building to make it worthwhile playing there on your tour.

However, despite this the venue still has a part to play in supporting the local music scene, with Brighton-based singer-songwriter Jacko Hooper recently supporting James Blunt for his sell-out show at the Brighton Centre. Hopefully more of the acts performing there will handpick local supports as it’s a fantastic opportunity to perform to such a large hometown audience.

http://www.brightoncentre.co.uk/

London Symphony Orchestra @ Barbican Hall, London – 11th December

Not in Brighton, but pretty easy to get to in London, The Barbican is a multi-purpose arts centre that features a theatre, cinema, galleries, exhibitions and of course the concert hall. I’ve only been to a few concerts there but they have all been sensational, and last night’s was no different. The film music of Alexander Desplat including suites from The King’s Speech, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows and a previously unreleased extract from The Grand Budapest Hotel were all performed by the LSO and conducted by the man himself, with some visual accompaniment too. What a night!

There is a great view from the circle wherever you sit and you can join the Young Barbican scheme for free if you are under 25 and get cheap tickets (and sometimes even free tickets) for a number of concerts all year round. My ticket for the concert cost £10. I’d definitely recommend checking out the programme at the Barbican as most of London’s orchestras perform there regularly, and they are the best in the world! Have a day trip to London and have your mind blown in the amazing venue.

http://www.barbican.org.uk/music

Normanton Street ‘Much Respect’ EP Review

Normanton’s Street latest EP ‘Much Respect‘ has been a long time coming. Fans who have been following the band since their last EP, ‘Phoebe Freya EP‘, which was launched at Green Door Store in Brighton in December 2013, will have most likely already heard some of the tracks from the new EP. It seems that unlike a lot of bands, Normanton Street do not just use their gigs to sell their CD and play the tracks from it but to craft the future of their music by reaching new audiences wherever possible, to add to their substantial local fanbase.

The band have been performing some of these tracks since I saw them play in February and over time they have changed them up, refining them through live performance to make sure that the record was ripe and ready when it was recorded. ‘Much Respect‘ is less a record about right now as it is the logbook of the journey that the band have taken throughout 2014. With fantastic support slots in Brighton, a number of great gigs up in London and several festival performances including The Great Escape, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Love Supreme and Oxjam Takeover, the band are one of the busiest in Brighton, constantly writing new songs, touring in the UK, performing in new places and supporting local talent through their label QM Records, in particular the young poet Tommy Sissons whose EP they recorded and they perform live with.

Much Respect’ was launched in London at The Elgin on 30th October and in Brighton on 31st October, following on from a tour of the UK starting in Nottingham, working their way down the country to their adopted hometown. The Halloween launch party was fully loaded with talent, with great supporting performances from indie-rockers Wolflung, london-based Northern Soul group New Street Adventure and folk/world music from Time For T.  Their was great new music all around with new tracks from NSA’s recently released debut album ‘No Hard Feelings‘ and previously unheard tracks from Time For T, celebrating their first home show in far too long.

Here is my track by track guide to Much Respect. The EP is well balanced in the mix and the arrangements, shining light in all the right places and combining six very different tracks covering a wide range of styles, all performed and recorded with the Normanton Street flair, style and finesse that we have come to love and expect.

If you like it, please do come along to a gig, have a chat with the band and buy a copy. Respect the artist and respect the music. Much respect all around.

1. Fly Lady (Get Money)

Opening with a pornographic bass-line, this sexy song has plenty of sass even before the vocals drop (and when they drop, they drop heavy with a three part harmony/call and response. Phoebe’s vocals have a relaxed free-time feel, something developed as the song has been performed live throughout the year.  The song doesn’t have a traditional structure, more like different sections that take over from each other with equal weight and importance. The sax sits nicely on top of Ned’s deep voice in the refrain, adding a subtle flair to the counterpoint of instruments and voices.

2. New Dawn

Starting with Phoebe’s a cappella vocals floating freely, before being joined by a distant clean guitar, the track leads you into a false sense of security that it’s going to be a chilled out vibe until EVERYTHING drops in with a visceral punch at the verse. The song gives Ned free-reign with his rapping as he tells us a story with a colloquial charm, repeating phrases and turning them into motives (as seen particularly in Empty Space (Mud Riddim) here). Combining a lot of elements in this track too, the precise drums provide the backbone that the guitar rhythms and bass licks cling to, whilst the vocals are clear and punchy (Ned) and delicate in places and powerful at others (Phoebe). A great track!

3. No Drama

Opening with a sultry sax solo, that’s three songs with different solo instruments starting them off; already it is clear that this EP is very well balanced and thought out. The vocals and guitar parts have a hint of the late Amy Winehouse which sharpens as the song unfolds. Led by the female vocals, the track is passed on to Nicholson as he raps, including these fantastic lines:

No spark like a dormant volcano.
A gloomy Vesuvius,
No prizes for who can be the moodiest,
I imply for you to be calmer,
Mary J Blige, No More Drama.

Normanton Street at their Halloween EP Launch – Photo by Lauren Joy Kennett

4. Grass is Greener (Nico Rhythm)

With hard hitting drums and vocal effects aplenty, this track has more of an electronic edge to it, with a clear focus on the production’s sound. The track combines two repeated vocal lines “Nico says I’m blessed so I must be” (Ned) and “The grass is always greener on the other side” (Phoebe) which overlay each other throughout the track as Ned and Nicholson take it in turn to rap verses over the rich texture of a down-tempo drum groove and simple accompaniment from the guitar and bass. Whilst a lot of modern songs don’t have much substance, this one probably has a little going spare! Perhaps they should donate to it to somebody.

5. Rakim (The 26th Year)

Going back to their Hip-hop roots from the early ‘MOVES EP‘, Rakim has a totally different sound to the preceding tracks on Much Respect. The lyrics are very precise, reminiscing on their lives growing up from house parties to football stickers “Teddy Sherringham shiny, no swapsies“, games consoles and other childhood memories in this warming song, broken up by funk sax interludes, almost leading into the dreamlike flashbacks.

6. This Wolf

Ending the EP with this slightly dark and haunting track, the clean electric guitar and Phoebe’s vocals on This Wolf knit together closely, with female backing vocals overlaid, highlighting the vulnerability of the melody when the bass, sax and drums are stripped away. The delicacy of the track is something that is not often seen from Normanton Street, with their style usually being far more upbeat, but this little gem shows that even under the brightest of lights with everything else removed, the exposed veneer is faultless.

Much Respect is available to buy for just £2 online on Bandcamp or Soundcloud

www.normantonstreet.com
www.facebook.com/normantonstreet
@normantonstreet