‘Jamie xx – Loud Places featuring Romy’ Track Review

Loud Places is second new track to come from Jamie xx’s album announcement and he pulls in his fellow bandmate from The xx Romy Croft to perform vocals. If you’re not up to date with this announcement then click here to head to my other Jamie xx review which should hopefully shine some light on the situation.

Starting with chimes and indistinct distant chatter, Loud Places is introduced with simple piano chords and Romy’s trademark whispered vocals. Jamie then brings in a sample from an Idris Muhammad track called Could Heaven Ever Be Like This which slots in perfectly. It gives Loud Places this gospel-esque vibe that will certainly bring everyone together at a festival. The track feels like one mass celebration. The jubilation this track gives off could easily make it a potential summer anthem. With the sound of clapping hands and an ensemble of voices singing in unison, Loud Places is one of the best dance tracks released in the last few years. Finishing on Romy delicately singing ‘You’re in ecstasy without me/When you come down, I won’t be around.’, Loud Places is up there with Jamie xx’s finest work.

So will Jamie xx ever disappoint? With this never ending form it doesn’t seem like it. With Sleep Sound and Girl also being included on his debut, In Colour is possibly going to be this year’s equivalent to Caribou’s Our Love and definitely one the year’s best records.

Liam Egan

 

‘Jamie xx – Gosh’ Track Review

OH MY GOSH (ey, see what I did there?), what a time to be alive for Jamie xx fans. Firstly having the stunningly beautiful Sunshine by him being renamed to Alba last week, now there has been an announcement that his debut album In Colour will be released in June. BUT OH WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!!! He’s only gone and released two new tracks with said announcement, Gosh and Loud Places. There’s just so much Jamie xx, I don’t know what to do with it all…

The first new track Gosh, which will be the opener of his upcoming debut album, is a journey in itself. Beginning with crunchy beats that sound like they’re going to burst into the Harlem Shake any moment, Gosh feels like it’s initially taking a similar route to another track by Jamie known as All Under One Roof Raving. The sample of ‘Oh my gosh’ fits in perfectly as more and more layers of beats get added. Dark, grimy and harsh, the beginning of Gosh sounds like a 90s ravers dream. But then out of nowhere this incredible synth induced keyboard solo comes in. With extended held out notes that sound like they’ve been sent from the heavens, this part of the track comes totally unexpected. Influence from Orbital can be drawn as the melody gracefully dances around like a ballerina. Every subtle change can be heard and it sounds gorgeous. Filling you up with it’s divine technicolour light, Gosh impresses and outdoes itself in just under five minutes. You start the track thinking you have it all worked out within the first couple of seconds but you leave totally bewildered and amazed.

Gosh is another example of Jamie xx’s pure talent and brilliance. Make sure you check out my review of his other new track Loud Places featuring fellow member from The xx Romy.

Liam Egan

Little Comets Interview

Ahead of their gig in Manchester, I had the chance to speak to Little Comets frontman Rob Coles. From their incredible love for their fans to where they plan to go next, here is the interview that took place in the small backstage of Manchester Club Academy.

Firstly congratulations on getting to 31 in the album charts, how does it feel to achieve this?

Cheers! Yeah it’s good. Last year we all sat down and had this meeting because we knew we were going to release stuff ourselves instead of doing it through a label. Our main goal was just to be productive and initially we wanted to do four EPs and an album in a year, well it was really Mickey who wanted to do that. However Mickey was due to be a dad for the second time again in March, so we kinda talked him out of the 4 EP idea. I think it was good that we did because doing the EPs that we did and the album pushed us to the absolute limit. Also we did have this goal from the outset that it would be crackin’ and if we nailed every aspect then it might go top 40. We’ve been on labels before and for whatever reason it’s kinda never happened. I think we wanted to prove to ourselves that if we applied ourselves and worked hard and got the music right then we could kinda do something that label hadn’t managed to do. So yeah it was a lovely feeling. Also looking at the chart and seeing the breakdown of the label, the publisher, the distributor and noticing that we were the only act in the top 200 that had recorded it ourselves, released it ourselves and distributed it ourselves was really good. It wasn’t the be-all and end-all but it was a good way of book-ending the year from that meeting to the chart coming out.

So how has the tour gone so far? How are the new songs going down?

It’s been really good. It’s the first tour since we’ve released the album but we never do a tour where it’s the album tour and play the album in it’s entirety because we’ve managed to build a fanbase that keep coming back and want to hear different things. So we’re not going to say ‘Oh, we’re not playing any old songs’ or ‘we’re going to cut down the amount of songs played off the second album’. So trying to get the balance of the setlist has been really tough. Also going from a rehearsal environment to live can be challenging and just because one song sounds good next to another song in a room doesn’t help you judge how an audience is going to react, so it’s been difficult. Three or four gigs in we managed to get a good balance within the set. When we record we don’t record together, we record things separately. So until we start rehearsing, we’ve never actually played the songs together as a band. It’s been a really good challenge trying to present the songs in a way where they’ll connect with somebody straight away, rather than taking four or five listens to focus on the lyrics, focus on the instrumentation, it’s got to be straight away. It’s been really challenging to get some of the songs  in a state where they work immediately.

You’re playing your biggest Newcastle gig to date on this tour, is there something different about playing ‘home’ shows?

Yeah definitely but I also think in big cities like London, Manchester and Leeds it’s also really different. In Manchester I think we’ve played at sixteen different venues over the years, so we know the city a bit. We’ve played in 75 capacity rooms and we’ve been lucky enough to play The Ritz. Today when we were driving down the street and, I don’t know if it’s still here, but we drove past a venue that’s over the road called Jabez Clegg and that was one of the first places we played in Manchester. We’ll drive through the city and be like ‘we’ve played there’. Like Deaf Institute or Night & Day, we’ve also played every room in this building. It is a bit crazy. Manchester is a lot more compact then London. Like we’ve played lots of different rooms in London but they are more spread out, whereas in Manchester you can drive two miles and you can pretty much point at everywhere you’ve played. Is it 251 FAC.? We’ve played there as well. It’s been a bit of a journey in Manchester, much like it has been in Newcastle. We’ve pretty much played every room in Newcastle, so to now play a venue where we used to watch bands and still watch bands makes it a bit more special. It’s our home as well, so friends and family will be there.

You have quite a close bond with your fans, probably one of the closest in your genre. Is this something you’ve always sought out to do, having this connection?

I think it’s something that’s kinda developed as we’ve become more independent. I think when we first started as a band, me and Mickey got off a bit of a treadmill in that we kinda approached life in a logical way, you know GCSEs, A Levels, Degree and then career. Very much a linear progression. When we finished our degrees we wanted to do something that we were passionate about, so we thought we’d see what would happen with music for a couple of years but kinda applied the same logic to it. So to develop our career in music, we needed a manager and a label. It was very much making the songs to facilitate a career and, when we had the experience of a major label, we realised that it wasn’t what we wanted. We started to think that the songs were being taken away from it all. Me and Mickey started writing songs when we were 12 or 13 because we just did, it wasn’t because we wanted to be in a band or musicians. We used to just go upstairs and play guitar together and sing daft songs. I think after the first album and being dropped by Columbia, things got back to being about writing songs and expressing ourselves. We’ve always been people who when we listen to music, we’ll pour through the sleeve notes or listen to classic albums five or six times. We love learning about the music and where it comes from. When you see the same people come back to gigs, you really value their honesty that they actually like your music. I don’t think people come to our gigs because they hear us on the radio a few times and feel compelled to come. So i think that’s we are close to our fans because we are music lovers ourselves and we feel really close to our music. We don’t really show our passion by making outlandish statements or being exceptionally animated on stage but instead show our passion through the time we take or the artwork or writing blogs or just having craic with people when they come to gigs. Sorry about that being such a long winded answer…

So as well as being in a band, you have families of your own. How do you find it having to juggle between the two?

Me and Mickey both now live in Birmingham, so touring is a lot easier because we can get home most nights. It is hard when we are away but we’re not away that much because we’re able to control the time that we’re away. When we’re at home we get to see them a lot. So on my street there will be a lot of people going out to work at 7 and getting back at 6, so they’ll miss their little ones during the day. Whereas me and Mickey can get the time and be flexible. I’ll be looking after William two or three days a week and getting the tea ready for when Jo comes in. The flexibility of it is really great.

You seem to have this knack of getting support bands that end up doing really well like Catfish & The Bottlemen and The 1975, do you choose the support for your tours?

Yeah we do. With The 1975 we toured with them four or five times and we just knew them. When we tour we also pick people whose music we like or we know we’ll get on with them. Me and Mickey had done a bit of recording with The 1975 so we knew the music well enough. It was crazy that their stuff had been ignored by major labels for four or five years and suddenly it went insane. Whereas with Catfish it was a bit different as the tour with them last year was just when things started to bubble for them and that’s gone crazy since. I think with The 1975 we definitely helped because we produced a lot of their earlier stuff and had them on tour a lot. With Catfish it was already going to be stratospheric without supporting us. They’ve gigged so much and Van is so good at what he does. The tour with them was immense craic and it’s been lovely to see the journey that they’ve gone on because it’s really well deserved. They are one of the best live band I have ever seen. I was just talking about it to someone the other day about how it’s music that’s really honest and it needs an honest frontman and honest delivery and Van has it in spades, that’s the magic right there. His demeanor onstage wouldn’t work if the music wasn’t genuine, like if it was contrived or bullshit.

Finally what are your plans for the rest of 2015?

Well we’re supporting Catfish & the Bottlemen on their tour then after that we’re just going to get back to the studio, well when I say the studio I mean Mickey’s garage. We really enjoyed last year being productive and just releasing music, if manage to record something that we’re happy with is another task.

I’d like to say thank you again to Rob for the interview and for being one of the most genuine guys I have ever met, much appreciated. You can buy Little Comets new album from the link below

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/hope-is-just-a-state-of-mind/id957299871

Liam Egan

Peace Live Review – Manchester, The Deaf Institute 14/03/2015

In the third and final night of Peace’s Manchester residency at The Deaf Institute, there was a euphoric vibe in the air. From the hardcore die-hard fans to the Happy People newbies, everyone was writhing with anticipation. But before Peace could bring the inevitable chaos, Manchester band Flesh had to take to the stage. With snarling Liam Gallagher-esque vocals and the bagginess of The Stone Roses, Flesh belted out a 30 minute set that emitted attitude and confidence. Tracks like Vauxhall Casanova fed off their Manchester roots, whilst other tracks like Dead Lonely captured the power of the New York garage rock scene. Dynamic, infectious and oh so Manc, Flesh are certainly a band that you should all be keeping your eye (or ears) out for.

The time of Peace was now upon us. Before even the band played a note, the crowd was shifting around the tightly packed venue of 260 adoring fans. Kicking off with one of their newer tracks Gen Strange, fans jump around like it’s the last gig of their lives. Singing every lyric, this gig was a celebration of Peace’s brilliance. From there Peace smashed into Follow Baby, who’s grungy britpop vibes echoed within the old walls of the beautiful venue. Friends and complete strangers were turning to each other and singing every lyric in unison. Other tracks from the bands debut In Love; Wraith, Higher Than The Sun and Lovesick, got the same reaction as the fans just went feral. Crowdsurfers and moshpits galore, these tracks still sound as fresh as they did when they were released two years ago. Peace as a band may have shifted slightly sonically in terms of new material but their live shows still remain the same anarchic disorder that they’ve always been.

Last year releases Money and Lost On Me make appearances within the set and sound like they’ve been part of the bands discography for years. Money’s cutting hook causes everyone to flop around like a school of fish out of water, whilst the poppiness of Lost On Me causes a dance off amongst fans.

However the night wasn’t just full of sweaty teenagers throwing their bodies around, there was also moments of calmness and reflection. The heartbreaking ballad Someday was played halfway through, resulting in a mass singalong. Being one the stand out moments of the band’s latest album, Someday transferred perfectly live as Harrison croons over a lost love. Happy People continues this subdued ambiance as Harrison contemplates ‘Where did all the Happy People go?’.

Now it wouldn’t be a proper Peace gig without the inclusion of fan favourite 1998(Delicious) would it? As the first notes from Sam Koisser’s bass play, the crowd erupt with colossal power. The intensity of this 10 minute behemoth results in insane mosh pits and virtually everybody zoning out towards the end as the track embeds itself into everyone’s minds. At one point there was multiple people crying with complete musical emotion from the brilliance that is radiated from this track.

The gig then took an odd turn as Harrison started to sing the Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney collaboration FourFiveSeconds. After completing the first verse, he triumphantly says under his breath ‘Fucking nailed it’. Peace then flowed into California Daze. A track that gained mass media attention when it was released back in 2012, it still manages to book a place in Peace’s live shows. With fans clambering onto their friend’s shoulders in hope to get a split second of eye contact with the band, California Daze managed to create a moment that showed how important this band really are. They aren’t just your run of the mill indie band, they are much more than that. New tracks such as Perfect Skin receive a massive reception from the audience and I’m A Girl perfectly ends the first part of the set of it classic Peace fashion.

With the sound of ‘Manchester la la la’ ringing in everyone’s ears, Peace returned to the stage and began to play an unknown jam. This quickly turned into fan favourite Bloodshake. Fans lost their shit as guitarist Doug played instantly recognisable yet infectious guitar riff. Ending on a flurry of psychedelic guitars that resulted in the most riotous mosh pit of the night since 1998(Delicious), Bloodshake shows that it’s still one of Peace’s best despite it’s age.

Harrison then addressed the crowd for what track they should play next. From requests of Disclosure’s White Noise to Wonderwall, the track that caught the band’s ear was one of their earlier tracks Ocean’s Eye. ‘We haven’t played this track in over two years, so if you know it then you’ve been with us for a while’ says Harrison as the band work out how to start the track. Peace burst straight into it and deliver on every level. The rawness and the youthfulness of the track was awe-inspiring, it was a complete ode to us fans who’ve supported them since before EP Delicious.

Harrison again asked the crowd for suggestions and one track that everyone seemed to want was Drain. Before starting they let the crowd know that they weren’t confident that they knew it all but they’d give it their best shot. Halfway through, Harrison passed the microphone to a member of the audience who sand every word. Said fan was the then invited on stage to finish the track off.

The band let the fan stay on stage for Float Forever, where he had Librertine-esque chemistry with Harrison. Swaying away to the bliss sounds of the guitars, this was a moment he’ll no doubt cherish forever. After a stage dive from the fan, Peace geared up to finish on World Pleasure. The heavily influenced track helped show off the band’s musical maturity. From bass solos to a Stone Roses styled finish, this helped Peace display their full talent. Fans invaded the stage throughout, resulting in security having to take action. This didn’t deter anyone and the set ended in explosive psychedelic finale.

I’ve been to see Peace live many times, this being my seventh, and I can honestly say they are getting better and better. They know their strengths and they focus on them.There isn’t many live shows out there like it. The vast amount energy and crowd unity made me proud to say that I’m a Peace fan.

Liam Egan

JAWS Interview

With the sound of choir practice echoing through the thin walls of the backstage of Manchester Academy 3, I met up with Birmingham band JAWS ahead of their gig in Manchester. After already playing dates in Norwich and London on the tour, JAWS were set to play their largest headline date in Manchester to a sold out audience. With the smell of 6 massive Papa John’s takeaway pizzas lingering in the air, we delved straight into the interview.

So first how are you? How are you finding Manchester?

Ed – Love it, done a lot of walking today, it’s a big city.
Jake – It’s nicer than Birmingham, great place.

You’ve done two dates on the tour so far, how have they gone?

Jake – Shocking, but I mean shocking in a good way.
Connor – Shockingly good.
Ed – Yeah they’ve been great.

What’s it like then headlining these bigger venues?

Ed – Well the tour we did with The Enemy in December was in even bigger venues, so that was a good opportunity to see what it would be like to do it on our own. It’s kind of just the routine now of getting here and soundchecking. Everything just sounds a bit different now.

Have you got any new tracks on the go at the moment?

Jake – We just went into the studio and recorded three new tracks that we’ll hopefully do something with, they all sound absolutely amazing.
Ed – We’ve been playing two of the new ones on this tour.
Alex – They’ve been going down really well and people have been guessing lyrics.
Ed – They go mad and they haven’t even heard them before.

What are they sounding like these new songs?

Connor – One sounds like the heavens opening up and the other sounds like falling into hell, that’s the difference between them.

(Live versions of new songs below)

So when you’re writing new material, what’s the method you take? Is it the same way each time or do you approach each track differently?

Connor – It’s always a little bit different each time I guess.
Ed – Connor usually comes up with the base song structure, with the hook and chorus. Then we head to the studio and add our own little flavour to it.
Jake – We just give Ed a shitload of LSD and let him go mad on the drums.

The first time I saw you play live was at Leeds Fest 2013, how do you think you’ve changed as a band since then?

Jake – I think my ego has got bigger…
Connor – In every way possible really because at that point we hadn’t toured properly, so if anything we’ve become better musicians. But generally everything is better and more fine tuned in a way. That’s what you pick up from through touring.
Ed – Even though that was really good gig, I’d love to play it again because I know it would be even better now that we’ve got them two years under our belts.
Alex –  I think we’re more professional now. We’re not just trying to play our songs but we’re also doing them justice.
Jake – I just think with every year, every tour and every festival you pick up another piece of experience, it won’t stop. You’ll always be picking up something new that will help you.

Which tracks do you like playing the most as a band?

Jake – None of them I think, our songs are awful.
Ed – I’m enjoying these new songs and Gold always goes off. I get this massive rush of energy that I really need because I’m usually knackered by the end of the set.

What are your overall plans then for 2015? Any big festivals?

Jake – We’ve been announced for Truck Festival, Saint Raymond and Rae Morris are playing.
Ed – Pulled Apart By Horses are there too.
Connor – I guess we’ll be recording, hopefully have a second album or something similar by the end of this year.
Ed – I like to think that when we’re not playing gigs, we’ll be in the studio writing loads of new stuff.

Recently Zane Lowe left Radio 1, do you think this will have a knock on effect on up-and coming bands getting recognised?

Ed – No because they’ve got great DJs like Phil Taggart and Huw Stephens. Out of all the radio DJs, they’ve helped us out the most. Zane did play our song and that was a cool day because if he picks your song then you’re like ‘Oh my god, we must be doing something really right’.
Connor –  Also Annie Mac who’s replacing him is a great DJ and she’s played us before, so she’ll do the same job.
Jake – Radio will still go on, bands will still be found but he’ll just have a bigger paycheck.

When new bands start out things can be a bit rough at the beginning, for example you had some of your merch unfortunately stolen last year. So finally do you have any advice for bands who are just starting up?

Jake – Yeah get security guards.
Ed – Get some bodyguards straight away.
Connor – Watch your merch if you’re selling it.
Ed – Also graft, it won’t happen overnight.
Alex – Even if nobody is there to see you and you’re playing to an empty room, don’t see it as a bad show but rather a free practice.
Connor – If you’d rather get fucked then play a good gig then don’t even bother doing the gig, just go and get fucked. There’s just no point doing that at the beginning.
Ed – It would cost twice the amount of money to be in a band and get fucked because you would have to spend your money on gear and drugs. It’s one or the other really. So if you want to do drugs then just don’t start a band is what I’m saying.
Jake – Also if you are going to do a Queen tribute act then stop, don’t even think about it because they are all crap…
Alex – Only he said that…

From there the lads went on to discuss their individual love and hate for Queen. The gig that followed the interview was probably the best live performance from JAWS I have ever seen. They sounded so slick and every member of the crowd loved it. It was pure chaos and it was brilliant. JAWS are simply four best friends having the time of their lives by being able to play their songs to hundreds of adoring fans. Something about the gig marked a real benchmark for the band and, towards the end of the year, JAWS could be getting the full recognition that they deserve.

Thanks again for JAWS for the interview. Come visit my blog next week where there will be an interview with Little Comets.

Liam Egan

‘Horsebeach – Disappear’ Track Review

After releasing a stunning debut album last year, Horsebeach are back with their new single Disappear . Written, recorded and produced by frontman Ryan Kennedy in his flat in Manchester, in a similar way to Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, Disappear is track you should really pay attention to.

Starting with warbling ‘Oooos’ and the signature guitar sound we’ve become used to from Horsebeach, you can already tell that Horsebeach’s sound is more sophisticated. With the addition of a stand out Wild Nothing-esque synth that illuminates the track, you wouldn’t be surprised if Horsebeach were signed to Captured Tracks. Reverb covered vocals from Ryan Kennedy sound better than ever and you can’t help but think that this may be Horsebeach’s best track yet. Two minutes in there is breakdown where we hear possibly the most drums that’s ever been included on a Horsebeach track. For the final third of Disappear, we enter a lush rich instrumental. Lavish guitars that bounce around you, the tranquilizing ‘Oooos’ return and the overall feel good sunny vibe create a finale that’s truly striking.

With Disappear, we see a much more developed mature side to Horsebeach, the addition of synths is something that should be explored more in Horsebeach’s discography. Ryan Kennedy’s song-writing is at it’s best and if this track alone is anything to go by, Horsebeach’s sophomore could be one of this year’s best albums.

You can stream Disappear below, as well as it’s B-Side Let You Down, on the band’s Soundcloud. You can also pre-order the tracks on their Bandcamp, where you can also purchase it on 7 inch (think there is only 9 remaining), for a 9th of March release..

http://horsebeach.bandcamp.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HorsebeachBand

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/horsebeachband?ref=ts&fref=ts

Liam Egan

‘Dotan – Home’ Track Review

How many of you can say you’ve performed in over 100 people’s living rooms? One man who certainly can is singer-songwriter Dotan. Based in Amsterdam, Dotan has played in over 100 homes of complete strangers and the result is his debut record ‘7 Layers’. Receiving major airplay from Radio 1 and a number 1 in Germany, Dotan is set to take the world by storm. The first track to be released from the album will be the track ‘Home’.

‘Home’ begins with sound of profound drums and subtle acoustic guitars, the type you’d expect to hear on Ben Howard record. Dotan’s hush and soothing vocals then take the forefront as the track builds momentum. The chorus then bursts open with waves of chanting monk-like vocals, similar to Bastille. With sweeping percussion and the delicate sound of a sparkling xylophone, Home manages to create a great warmth. As the track reaches it’s finale, the spiritual sounding chant of ‘We are coming home’ gets louder and louder as multiple layers are added until the chorus pours out in a grand fashion. Imposing, stirring and nostalgic, Home is a track that’ll be making it’s way up the charts in no time.

You can head over to iTunes to pre-order ‘Home’ for a release on the 23rd of March. You can also pre-order his debut album ‘7 Layers’, which will be released on the same date as ‘Home’.

Liam Egan