FEATURE: The Lost Art of the Album Cover

FEATURE:

 

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The Lost Art of the Album Cover

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I might come off as one of these stubborn people who thinks…

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music was better in the past. Aside from the fact it was; my protestations and reluctances are based on hard evidence. In the case of album art, I have to wonder what is happening? I know vinyl is coming back into fashion but that is the point: it is very much a fashion item. People are hanging L.P.s on shelves and framing them. There are some people that, God forbid, actually listen to things but it seems rather rare. It got me thinking about records and the album cover in general. Are we actually in a time where digitisation is replacing the physical product? Certainty, mediums like the humble C.D. are being phased out. Many people are a bit fed up with compact discs because of their limitations. Not only is the ‘technology’ a bit outdated – why do we need have artists recording on both sides of a disc?! – but there are inherent flaws. C.D.s are fragile and can often be reduced to scrap by dropping it on a carpeted floor. A newborn baby is not as tender, but when it comes to a C.D., the things will scratch with the merest breath of wind. Cassettes are obsolete – and such a terrible idea to start with – and there is not really a physical music-storing alternative, is there?! The vinyl record, decades-old as it is, seems to be the most reliable and long-lasting format we have. It is not just the sturdiness – less prone to scratches then C.D.s and a lot bigger; good as it seems like you’re getting value for money – but it is something you treat as a previous commodity. Listening to an L.P. is an experience: shoving a C.D. in the stereo can seem like a rather unemotional and uneventful thing. You get used to it and can never attach any personal emotion to such a small and mass-produced thing. I know vinyls, or new records anyway, are mass-produced, but just think about the idea itself. I am currently looking for an as-good-as-new version of Kate Bush’s seminal debut, The Kick Inside. Not just because of the hair-raising, spine-tingling music: the album cover (itself) is something that makes me stare and smile like an idiot. That artwork is replicated on a C.D. but is a tiny, reduced version of what you get on an actual record. Being someone short-sighted and impatient; you don’t want to squint when you are looking at album art.

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The full-sized, proper vinyl is almost canvas-sized. In a sense, whether you want to deny it or not, it is a work of art. Take a vinyl (and its cover), pop it on the wall and have a good look: doesn’t it look like a painting? Maybe that was the idea from the very start. Record producers and artists could have put a crappy sleeve around their record or something vague. Given that amount of space and opportunity: it was only natural musicians put their all into producing the most eye-catching and vivid album art they could. Sure, there have been some atrocious and abysmal attempts at an album cover. You can do a search of ‘the worst album covers ever’ and, you can bet your life on it, you’d get some truly bone-chilling, nightmare-inducing visions. I still recoil when seeing a certain Kevin Rowland, well…dragged-up and ‘sexy’. Similarly, for all his merits, a near-nude Prince or some hideous self-portraits are enough to have me sat on the toilet trying to eject my internal organs out my rear-end. Those satanic, destroy-them-in-the-fiery-pits-of-Hell monstrosities make a valid argument for making all music digital. That aside, I am sad music/albums are become less material and more virtual. I know downloads and music-sharing sites make music-purchasing easier, quicker and, a lot of times, cheaper. The sheer cost of a vinyl record can be staggering. I have browsed in music shops and seen a record like Bastille’s latest album (whatever it is called!) and they’re asking nearly twenty-quid for it! Who the heck is ever going to shill that sort of cash?! I’d be quite content to pay that sort of dosh for Graceland, Revolver or Paul’s Boutique – but are modern records worth that much? It may be going off-track here but maybe that appropriate for the modern day: if people are willing to buy vinyl as collectors’ items, then why not charge such exorbitant rates? Art buyers are, by and large, suckers who will pay top-dollar for any pretentious crap. I am being facetious as there are some current albums worth having, playing and displaying. In fact, by all means, put an album on the wall with pride. The thing is, you’re doing that because it’s an aesthetic choice, no?

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You don’t hang a painting up because it fills a crack in the wall so why would you utilise a record as art and have it look boring and galling? The reason I wanted to write this piece is two-fold. For a start, I wanted to look at why vinyl is so crucial and making sure, if you are buying records as an art purchase, doing it right. On the other hand, and more importantly, it was to decry and highlight the surfeit of genuinely inspiring album covers in today’s music. Maybe the last album that really caught my eye, in terms of its central image, was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. The cover shows dead bodies and black faces brandishing wads of dollars in front of the WHITE House. It is a juxtaposition of the privileged white government – although Obama was President in 2015 (when the album was released) – and the struggle of the black community in America. At face value, the artwork can be seen as a random idea with no deeper context. Throw in the album’s title and there is that outrage black people feel in the U.S. The fact they are not represented and struggle alone. Not only is the music extraordinary (on To Pimp a Butterfly) but you have that fantastic visual representation. Actually, and undercutting my earlier point, Stormzy’s debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer reinvents The Last Supper with black symbolism and gang culture iconography. The album’s depictions – gang members dressed in black; black plates and consoles; everything black – could be a nod to stereotypes and misconceptions about the black youth but it could run deeper – maybe the religious parody, as the album has ‘Prayer’ in its title, means the young black community needs to embrace religion to think they have hope in life – a better life from the violence and bloodshed of their estates. Who knows, but one thing is sure: both these modern album covers provoke discussion and thought.

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Throw the microscope through the years and there are few recent (the last few years) album covers that really compel the imagination. David Bowie’s Blackstar has those black stars and seems quite simple. The fragmented star at the bottom of the album spell ‘Bowie’ whilst there is a hidden bonus: the album glows blue under ultraviolet light and stars appear if you leave it in direct sunlight. In an age where everything has to go online – including bowel movements and your kids’ pointless burbling – something like the Blackstar album cover is for those who appreciate there here and now. You discover the idiosyncrasies and hidden layers of the design. Through accident or design; those revelations come and are intended to outstand. In a rebellious way, it is a push against their instant Tweet and status update. It is a slow-burning realisation and process that harks to the album covers of old. That brings to mind another point: the album/vinyl covers that not only look great but have in-built ‘extras’ and hidden messages. Some records, like Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, has a building/window design where album (title) letters would appear in each panel. Others, such as Nirvana’s Nevermind made you think about that baby-in-the-swimming-pool-chasing-the-dollar significance. It is an iconic image that has been interpreted to death but could have been an off-the-cuff idea from the band and photographer. I’ll admit there have been some contemporary, simple designs – the rainbow-coloured lettering for Radiohead’s In Rainbows; the pink-letters-again-black-background of Beyoncé (suggesting femininity in a black world or because it has instantly and easy appeal – but there are fewer knockout covers than old. Just THINK about the classics. The Rolling Stones’ lurid, sexy and suggestive Sticky Fingers;. The Beatles’ Abbey Road zebra crossing walk-across – the debate whether Paul was dead and what his bare-footed image represented. The Beatles created two more legendary covers. Their eponymous record (‘The White Album’) revolutionised the album cover because of its simplicity – Jay Z parodied that concept for The Black Album. Perhaps the most famous is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Chocked with historical figures, memorable images and all manner of possible interpretations: it is one of the most thought-provoking, challenging and spectacular album covers ever.

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Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage has Lindsey Buckingham embraced by Stevie Nicks – she is leaning back with her face looking away. Buckingham is turning to Christine McVie with a rather tired and dismissive look as if to say: “Stevie being Stevie again!”. Mirage arrived five years after Rumours: one of the most explosive and fractious break-up records ever. Tusk – sandwiched between Rumours and Mirage – saw that tension rise, so in a way, Mirage is the ‘divorce album’ that could be interpreted all sorts of ways. The cover is rife with possibility and interpretations. Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. sees the ‘workman’/honest Joe as the white-collar American: in jeans with a rag hanging from his trousers; cast against the American flag. The Clash’s London Calling shows a bass guitar being smashed during a gig – it has the same lettering/design as Elvis Presley’s eponymous album. I have mentioned Nirvana’s Nevermind but Cobain’s sweetheart, Courtney Love, created a masterful album cover in Hole’s Live Through This. The beauty queen on the cover has mascara dripping down her face and highlights the emptiness and delusions of the beauty industry. It is a hard-hitting commentary and unforgettable image as haunting as it is shallow. Patti Smith’s Horses might, on face value, look like a simple, casual photograph. Smith has the look of Frank Sinatra: a sultry look to the camera as she tosses a jacket over her shoulder. It is iconic because it depicts a female artist as a more masculine, less-traditional figure. The Velvet Underground and Nico’s famous eponymous album has that Andy Warhol-designed banana image that makes you wonder what it means. When the album came out, there was a sticker over the banana. You could peel the sticker and the banana would be revealed. There is humour, art and pathos all mixed together. Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake is that tobacco-tin design that often tops lists of the greatest covers ever. The Rolling Stones created two further visual masterpieces in Let It Bleed and Exile on Main St.

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I have seen a list of last year’s so-called ‘best’ album covers and they are, to be honest, a rather pale bag of offerings. Beyoncé’s Lemonade sees the heroine is a very striking pose but it has nothing on the classic covers of old. Aside from that, there are few that make you sit back and wonder; nothing that stops you in the tracks or makes you think. It has been a long time since I marvelled at an album cover which makes me sad. I feel a lot of modern artists are aiming their material at platforms like iTunes and Spotify so, as such, there is less energy expended at album covers. Many go for a rather boring and predictable band/artist portrait or some ridiculously pretentious option. Many modern vinyls have sky-high prices so many are reluctant to buy them. The C.D. is still going strong but how many people actually take the time to look at the cover of an album? The rise and accessibility of digital music mean there is more emphasis on speed and availability than physical art and traditional values. Perhaps it is just a sign of the times. I, for one, always look for an alluring or intriguing album cover – especially if it is a chance purchase or musical risk. I buy a lot of albums based on quality but there are some I will pick off the shelf because of that cover – all of them at least ten-years-old or more. In a time where there are dozens of albums released every month (in the mainstream); it seems baffling there are very few standout album covers. One can have their own view as to why this is but I think it has a lot to do with the use and purpose of vinyl; a bit to do with modern attention spans and costs. Many artists are so keen to get music out and have very little money left for photograph and album art. As such, music videos are rather beige and plodding: not so much visual works; more promotional tools to ensure the song has an actual face. It has been a long time since I was grabbed by a music video, which doesn’t really surprise me. The modern generation favours that quick fix and instant fix. We are not looking to spend time reading reviews or drooling over album covers; we do not dissect music videos or long for album sleeves full of lyrics and details.

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Many will say there is little need to place any significance on album art when the music is the most important thing. True, but in a time where competition is hard and hot: why would you not expend energy and thought making your product stand out from the crowd? Music is a business and, in a way, a fashion parade. So few artists are expending time to make their artwork shine and resonate which seems foolhardy and naïve. There is no guarantee a great and sharp album cover reflects fantastic music but it gets people into the tent! If we abandon concerns like artwork and album covers, you are proving you only care about the music itself. Many would say that is the point of a music career but I respectfully disagree. An album cover is a representation of what the album is about and if you put out an insipid and unimpressive cover, how many people are going to be hooked by the music? Perhaps this is a sign of things to come: albums all about the digital aspect and less to do with design and looks. As I started out by saying; the vinyl and traditional album sleeve is something we hang on walls and mount rather than opening up and putting on the record player. I am fine with the record becoming an accessory – it is always good seeing vinyl bought and kept alive. I do worry people are missing the point, though. Not only should you PLAY a vinyl – and enjoy that pure sound and atmosphere digital versions do not give -but appreciate the physical aspects and the attentions to detail. Open up the sleeve and look at the pictures and designs; admire the cover and revel in that big and chunky record. A lot of the classic, legendary records had lyrics included in the booklet/sleeve and little details and gems lurking underneath. Some had clever conceptual designs and nice little touches. Consider something like Abbey Road and not only do you have that unforgettable photo right in front of you but so much more to discover. I could vacillate and rhapsodise for hours but will drill it down to this: do not forget why vinyls and records are so important to begin with. They are physical things, almost sentient, and items intended to enjoy and be treasured. As such, the artwork was always an important factor for many artists. I worry we have abandoned that heritage and reduced modern to inane and perfunctory art and the over-reliance of digital means. Gone are the record players and encapsulating record sleeves – you’d sit there and look at it whilst the vinyl spun on the player; kid-like whilst you read the notes inside – and replaced with Spotify playlists and iTunes links. Again, it may seem like I am grousing and coming off a prematurely old-aged moaner. My views reflect a wider audience of true music lovers who long for the return of the album cover: vinyls and L.P.s at their purest and most astonishing. Maybe we will see that but I have a very deep-down fear we are at a stage where music…

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WILL get lost in the machine forever.

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INTERVIEW: Laura Muccini

INTERVIEW:

 

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Laura Muccini

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ITALIAN-born singer-songwriter Laura Muccini has…

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undergone a lot of change in the past few years. Now residing in London; I talk to her about the importance of her children and the song, My Prayer of Love. It is an ode to her husband: someone whose illness dramatically changed her perspectives and priorities: forced her to look at her own life, and, subsequently, led to one of her most emotional and heartfelt songs. In addition, Muccini discusses her time in the fashion industry and the beauty of Milan; whether she will ever return to Paris and if we can expect any new music in the coming months. It is a revealing interview with one of the bravest and most positive-thinking artists I have encountered for some time.

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Hi, Laura. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi…I’m fine. Thanks.

For those new to your music, can you introduce yourself, please?

I’m an Italian singer and songwriter living in London. I started composing Pop music last year thanks to a major change happened in my life.

You were born in Italy but live in London. What compelled the move to the U.K. and a switch between Opera and Pop?

I lived in major cities – Milan, Paris and London – and I feel London is the more international one (and the) most vibrant.

The switch from Opera to Pop happened when I met a vocal coach here in London who suggested I starting writing as well. I kept going…

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You met your husband in Milan and followed him to Paris. How influential and important was he in terms of your music and life in general?

My husband is, for sure, the most important person in my life (with my kids and my mother). He always believed in me and he taught me how to have self-confident and love myself.

On that note; My Prayer of Love is a love letter to him. He has a tumour; so I can imagine writing the song has been a challenge. How difficult was it writing the song with your husband’s health in mind?

Actually, when you’re conscious that you can die, all your priorities change. I realised dedicating a lot of time with family, and doing things that I love, is so important.

At that point, I realised that I dreamt all my life of being a singer and songwriter – and even if no-one will know my name or my songs; I tried and I did my best.

I will have no regrets…

When he was diagnosed with the tumour, it provided a sense of clarity: music was a way of coping and channelling fear into something cathartic and productive. Was it hard stepping, briefly, away from fashion and MINT (where you are a buyer)?

I took two years to really understand my life has been changed so much…that I could be happy in another way.  Acceptance is always the toughest step. After that, you start to build your life again with new perspectives and new challenges.

Do you still visit Paris or are you based in London full-time? What are the main differences between the cities in terms of music and the people?

I’m living in London full-time now and I feel (London) is much more alive than Paris: people are more open-minded and happy. I’m fascinated by the beauty of La Ville Lumière: I feel Paris is so romantic and eternal.

Can we expect to see an E.P. or album from you this year?

Of course. I will release my L.P. in April with five songs.

Your music and voice have been compared with Regina Spektor, Sia and Vanessa Carlton. Who were the artists you grew up listening to?

For sure. I know and love all of them. I think I’m close to Sia in terms of harmonies and sounds.

I grow up also with a lot of Italian artist like Giorgia, Laura Pausini. But, I always loved the English-speaking ones: my favourite, at the time, were Whitney (Houston) and Beyoncé.

In terms of the albums that have been most influential to you, which would you single out?

Domino by Jessie J – in terms of creativity and vocal abilities.

You have come from a coastal village in North Italy to Paris and across to London. You have spent time in Milan and worked in the Paris fashion industry. Which memories, to you, stand out as the most special?

So many incredible memories. The most special were when my daughters were born (one in Milan and two in Paris).

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Have you any plans with regards performing this year? Any London/U.K. dates we can look forward to?

Not yet: except some nights in London clubs.

Music means different things to different people. For someone who has to balance motherhood, an ill husband and everything else in life: how important is music to you when it comes to making sense of everything?

Music, for me: it’s the way to escape my routine, and also, the instrument that puts cheerfulness in my life (with my daughters).

Are there any new artists out there you’d recommend we check out?

I would recommend Matoma, AlunaGeorge and Raleigh Ritchie.

What advice would you give any new songwriters coming through?

Put your feeling into music and feel free to do wrong and try again.

Perfection doesn’t come overnight: it comes as a meticulous daily job.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name any song you like (not your own as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.

Saddest Vanilla from Jess Glynne.

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Follow Laura Muccini

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Official:

https://www.lauramuccini.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/LauraMucciniSinger/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/lauramuccini

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/lauramuccini/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/laura-muccini

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFLYD_1QFpAk5fdCnA7Egxw

INTERVIEW: Yazzy

INTERVIEW:

 

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Yazzy

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HALF-lioness, half-songbird Yazzy is a seventeen-year-old…

award-winning singer-songwriter from North Devon. Having written her own songs since the age of ten: she won the Open Mic UK competition in 2015 and participated in a number of open mic. events and songwriting competitions. Compared with from Eva Cassidy and James Santer; her local radio station has dubbed her ‘North Devon’s sweetheart’. On the road, she has supported Paul Young and Luke Friend and hit the top-spot of Amazon’s Download Chart (Folk) when she released her album, Silly Boys Breaking Hearts. I talk to Yazzy about her upbringing and when she got into music; whether there is pressure on her shoulders – being so young in an industry ruthless and tough – and what plans she has for the rest of this year. Yazzy discusses the opportunities and music scene in North Devon and whether she is tempted to relocate; the advice she’d off young musicians and the artist who is currently seducing her ears.

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Hi, Yazzy. How are things? How has your week been?

Hello! My week has been really good! Pretty busy as usual: recording a charity single to save the North Devon Theatres, working on some new releases and doing my gigs! Just a little tired (L.o.L)

For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?

My name is Yazzy. I’m seventeen; from North Devon. I’m singer/songwriter and I’ve been writing and gigging since the age of ten. It’s always been a massive passion of mine: I love sharing my music and feeling connected to people through it. I play guitar, piano; violin and, of course, sing. Though the genre I chose to share is more commercial, acoustic-Pop with Soul; bit of Country influence, I am actually classically-trained and part of The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain. I enjoy all styles of music!

You recently posted a video of you performing Million Reasons (Lady Gaga) alongside Adam (A.K.A. Adam in the Hat). What was that shoot like and will you two be working together again?

It was really cool and so laid back!

I met Adam in 2014 (I think) when I played at Bicton Fest. Luke Friend was headlining the show after his success with X Factor and Adam just got up on stage too and they started jamming – and I thought: what a cool guy!

Adam is more in the Exeter music scene; I’m more North Devon-based, but, actually, our paths crossed more when I started going to college in Exeter! Adam was actually my older sister’s maths teacher! He invited me along to record the little cover and I really loved it. I love singing and jamming with people who are as passionate as I am!

Can you take me to the start and how you got started in music? Was there an artist or album that lit that spark in your mind (to take up music)?

I’ve always loved music. My grandad has always sung in a choir and I’m really close with my grandparents. I spent my whole childhood watching Glee and High School Musical: putting on performances in the school playground then doing all the primary school talent shows. Then, my music teacher at primary school put me forward for a local festival and I sang two songs. That’s where it all began (really) gigs-wise and I’ve done that same gig every year since.

Regarding my songwriting; I got a guitar from Santa when I was nine/ten-ish; played it every day and then, one day, I (just) wrote (like) five songs – don’t even know where it came from! I remember showing my mum and she was just in shock! Then, she took me to a local musician’s home studio (which is a garden shed) and I started recording my own music on a little Dictaphone!

You have covered quite a lot of songs – recently, Can’t Help Falling in Love – and expertly redefined other people’s songs; making them your own and adding your own special touch. Which have been your favourite songs (of other people) to cover?

Umm…this is a hard one as it depends what mood I’m in – as to what I enjoy singing the most! I never write set-lists for my gigs: I always just decided on the spot based how I’m feeling! But I’ve always loved soulful music with meaningful lyrics and passion.

Eva Cassidy is a huge influence of mine. I’ve grown up listening to her (as my mum is in awe of her).

This is kind of embarrassing, but I actually found a video of me doing a makeup tutorial when I was ten(ish) (with my Primark eyeshadow pallet (L.o.L) and in the background I’m listening to Eva Cassidy’s album! That’s genuinely what little Yazzy would listen to! Sam Cooke, Etta James; Beyoncé, you know. I just love songs with passion! I really like covering Little Mix songs at the moment: Girl Power, yaaaasss!

That voice has gained incredible plaudits and seems to emanate from somewhere very personal and powerful. Which singers inspire you most and how do you get a voice that is personal yet filled with strength?

This sounds a little silly but I don’t find that kind of inspiration from singers mainly. I think the reason my music can be so personal is because I’m a very open, sensitive person – I feel everything. One second I’m laughing, the next I’m crying. I have a very strong personality: I’m very determined and focused but I’m also a very fragile person (like most musicians). I think that’s what comes out in my music. You are still a teenager and a solo musician on top of it.

Do you feel any pressure with tender years on your shoulder and expectations to prove yourself? What is life like for a young musician?

I have and do sometimes find it hard being a young musician as lots of the musicians I’m surrounded with are older than me – they’ve been doing this for a lifetime.

Sometimes, I worry people don’t look at me like I’m a serious musician: more (just) a girl with a guitar who writes about boys breaking her heart – which is partly true – but I have been gigging and writing for nearly eight years. But the older I get, the easier it does become.

I’ve got more confidence through my music and I don’t really feel age is an issue anymore! It’s a funny question this because lots of my friends are going to uni., getting jobs; moving away etc. So, I expect a lot of myself because I know that your future doesn’t just come to you: you have to work for what you want. I do put a lot of pressure on myself to do well but, to be honest, I’m so full and happy when I’m just performing: doing what I love, and as long as I can continue doing this for the rest of my life, I will be one happy girl!

This Way, the single released last year, has amassed over sixty-two thousand views and shared over one-hundred times. Can you quite believe it is so popular and what inspired the song?

That song was an experiment for me. It’s very different to my usual style and I just felt like I wanted to (just) test the waters and I was so pleased with the results! Haha, ok, so; the song: I’m the kind of girl who would rather be in a serious relationship, rather than not really knowing where I stand with someone. So, the main hook in the song is “You know I want you, but I don’t want you this way”. So, basically, I’m saying it’s not wrong to expect to be treated well (lyrics speak for themselves L.o.L). I think the video is so popular because Chris (for Altitude58) – who directed and created the music video – is so incredible and really made the music video so professional. We made the most of the local scenes – which I think the locals enjoyed!

Silly Boys Breaking Hearts was released in 2015 – and your debut album – and proved popular with fans and critics. Was it tough and nervous putting an album together or was it quite fun? What are the lessons you learned from making it?

I LOVED creating my album. Waking up at 5 A.M. to go record my album in London? YES PLEASE (and I’m NOT a morning person).

The end of 2014/2015 was probably the best time of my life because I was away all the time working with amazing producers (Birdy’s producer Gareth Henderson; Vanessa Mae’s guitarist Phil Braithwaite); travelling around so much; photoshoots and just doing what I love.

It felt like I was on a rollercoaster that was going up! My album actually went to number one in the Amazon Music Charts the day of the release! The lesson learnt in making the album is that you shouldn’t rush anything. Silly Boys Breaking Hearts’ title track was reproduced three times until I was happy with it!

Can we expect to see any new Yazzy material later this year?

YES, FOR SURE! Early-March, I’m back up in London recording some new music which I blimmin’ (sic.) can’t wait for! I’m teaming back up with my producer Phil as he’s back from tour with Vanessa Mae. I can’t wait to hear his stories – they’re always so inspiring! My favourite was when was when he met Adele just before she ‘made it’ and he accidentally shut a door in her face! Haha!

Over the years, you have won competitions and accolades. It has been quite a hectic time of things. Is there any memory that stands in the mind as particular special?

I have participated in Open Mic. UKTeenStarFuture Music’s songwriting competition – U.K. and international songwriting competition. Some people don’t agree with competitions but these have allowed me to gig all around the country since the age of twelve: Camden’s DingwallsBirmingham NECIndigo at the O2, London and many, many more! It’s been amazing to be in these competitions as it raises your profile but also just meeting so many budding musicians who have now gone on to make it in the industry. Plus, having your name and music displayed in front of big names in the industry can’t be a bad thing!

Being based in Devon, are there opportunities to perform or is there quite a limited local scene?

Devon actually has a really nice live music scene. It’s not Bristol and it’s not London; but I’m very lucky to be part of the whole music scene down here.

I keep really busy and I really enjoy my gigs that I do down here! I gig quite a lot in the city too, so for me, I have a perfect mix!

Is there ever a temptation to relocate to somewhere like London or do you prefer the space and quite of Devon?

For sure. I will probably relocate in the coming years just because of how far London is away from where I am. However, I will always be rooted in Devo: it’s where my entire family live etc. But, I think for practicality, if my music does pick up, then I will have to relocate – but I don’t think that will be happening for a while!

Can we see you on tour anywhere this year?

Yes! I have so many gigs lined up. I also do a lot of busking all over the place! Check me out on my social media to find out where I am (that’s easier than me naming every gig (L.o.L.).

What advice would you give for songwriters coming through at the moment?

Write from your heart.

Nothing gets to me more than a musician who plays, sings and writes from the heart – and you can really feel what they’re feeling.

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I really love some of Frances’ music. She’s an up-and-coming artist! I’m in love with Don’t Worry About Me.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can each select a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

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Follow Yazzy

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TRACK REVIEW: Dearly Beloved – I Tried to Leave

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Dearly Beloved

 

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I Tried to Leave

 

9.7/10

 

 

 

I Tried to Leave is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcVT8zVBUA8

GENRES:

Rock ‘n’ Roll; Garage; Punk

ORIGIN:

Toronto, Canada

RELEASE DATE:

31st October, 2016

The album, Admission, is available via:

https://dearlybeloved.bandcamp.com/album/admission-2

RELEASE DATE:

October 28th, 2016

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THE thing about new British music is that it is all rather…

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nice and pleasant. There is a sense most of the new musicians around would buy you a tea and walk you around a garden centre for the afternoon. Perhaps that is unfair but there is that sense things are getting a little bit soft. I am always looking for someone/something that reaches down the trousers and does what it needs to do. Royal Blood are a duo who are teasing new music this year but you wonder just when that will arrive. I am getting of course, but what I wanted to do was discuss combinations of Garage, Punk and Rock; come back and look at Toronto as a place for music and those acts who favour immediacy over anything else. I will then have a look at Dave Grohl – the band recorded their album at his studio – and the equipment they used. Coming to that first point and it is something I have talked about quite a lot. In this country, I am struggling to think of too many artists who really bring the noise and something energetic, primal and raw. Sure, there are Hardcore bands and those who often have to toil underground – perhaps that is the most suitable place for their type of music. It would be nice to see someone in a position of authority – in the mainstream, maybe – that actually gets the point. I have raved a bit about Royal Blood and how their music sort of ‘crept up’ on me. Their eponymous debut was, at the time of its release, something that impressed me but never really captured by focus, long-term. Now, as the Brighton boys tempt new sounds, I find myself bonding with that album and seeing stuff I missed at first. Many assume heavy and instant music lacks nuance and is for those who prefer dispensability and a ‘quick fix’ over anything else. That is true of some music but not all. Royal Blood are not the only British act giving me something to be excited about this year.

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The Amazons have been tipped for big things this year and rightfully so: their songs have that crowd-unifying essence with heavy riffs and incredible vocals to match. They missed out, rather unfairly, on BBC’s shortlist for 2017 success – the organisation favouring Urban acts this year. To my mind, there are very few other acts around that provide that essential, solid Rock/Grunge/Punk combination. There was a time when Britain was the doyenne of the heavy-music scene. Now, it appears that title has very much gone the way of North America. Not to labour the point, but festival seasons is just around the corner and there are few new bands filling the bigger stages. Maybe this is just a point of experience – they will get there in a few years – but I think there is something else at play: not enough good mainstream example; radio stations not doing their part. It is down to the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music and ‘specialist’ Rock stations – those who specialise in that genre – left to carry the torch when it comes to promoting the best grizzled, sweaty artists about. Maybe it is just the time we are in and a particular phase. The U.K. provided the world artists like Sex Pistols and The Clash: we stormed it in the 1990s and were pretty handy up until a decade-or-so-ago. Then, music sort of turned outwards and evolved: there was less reliance and proffering of Punk, Grunge and Rock artists. I feel we need more of the but the question looms: where does one find them? I know I am speaking rather broadly when I write-off the entire music scene here; I know there are many great unsigned artists who threaten the big leagues and can change things very soon. Until such time, we look around and yearn for artists that give music a right kicking: a bull out the gate with their testicles caught in the farm gate (an eye-watering image and contradiction I guess). What I mean is; we require an energetic and spirited band to help welcome in impending spring.

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Toronto is somewhere I am coming back to more regularly at the moment. There was a time I was getting Canadian requests every day – my inbox filled with review demands from Canadian P.R. companies; all the acts more-or-less the same sort of sound/dynamic. There was a bit of a strange gap – mainly because I told them to give me some breathing room and go away – but now they are back. It is good because Toronto is an area that should not be overlooked. When interviewing Bree Taylor and others, they always say the same thing: the international media overlooks Toronto and the fantastic music scene there is at the moment. In fact, Toronto has been providing incredibly varied and strong music for many years now. I have gone into this before – and shall not stretch it too much; need to mention some great Toronto bands – but it seems like the U.S. is partly responsible. As Donald Trump begins to build his wall around Mexico – or the border between Mexico and the U.S. – it seems like the national media is building a wall around Canadian music. There has always been that rivalry and cruelty from the U.S. – never taking Canada to heart or treating them seriously. Maybe it is a thing of tradition but there is that bullying attitude and condescending manner: Canada having to fight alone and not gaining the respect of their neighbours. Canada has a great music press, especially online, but America is where all the huge publications and papers are based. How many of them take the time to promulgate an area like Toronto and their fantastic musicians? Maybe I am missing something but they are a bit shoddy and ignorant with regards the Canadian music scene. If you do your own research, and one often has to, there is a wealth of treats and treasures in Toronto. One of the main assets of the city is the Rock and Punk bands who we desperately need in the U.K. I have reviewed many before – their names allude me – and always left with a bit of a smile on the face. If one looks at the established Toronto acts you will find names like Crystal Castles, Dilly Dally and Rush: not bands that sit quietly and wait to be seated.

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Austra and The Wooden Sky prove there is plenty of diversity (and other genres) in the city but it is those tougher bands that really get to me. Away from those underground-underground acts – those that are very localised and not known to a majority of the Toronto people – you have The Beach Bats and The Danger Bees – two animal/insect-based bands that are local heroes and have the opportunity to do great things in the future. If you focus the microscope; there are a number of artists that look set to do good things in 2017. Thanks again to blogTo – a publication I am employing again and their savvy ears – and their tips for Torontonian music this year. New Fries are primed for big things are already gained the attention of the local media. The band have that frenetic and frantic energy that blends odd, quirky lyrics (“Gertrude Stein greeting card from Pape/Danforth” is a name-checking example) and elastic compositions. There are odd songs and instant jams: a band that gets down to business and gets the mosh-pits jumping. Not all Toronto newcomers are sweat-inducing and savage. Conversely, Luka is minimal and backed with slight strings, compositional notes and soothing, female backing singers. Mazola, also, have that softer approach and a sense of sooth and colour: they do have Garage touches but not quite as energetic and hard-slamming as some artists around the city. Sure, Toronto has a varied and multi-genre scene but it is those acts inspired by citymates F*cked Up and Death from Above 1979 that are causing the biggest waves. It is something I will explore in future reviews but it is worth doing more research into the Toronto music scene and what is out there. I have mentioned how there is variation (like any city) but it is that Garage scene that really fascinates me. In Britain, London especially, there are fewer great Garage/Rock bands that really speak to me – there is a sparsity further north. Maybe there will be a time when the U.K. catches up with cities like Toronto (Melbourne too) but that might be a while.

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This brings me to Dearly Beloved and what they are doing: a fierce and fiery unit that deserve some serious respect. Before I come down to their music; I wanted to introduce the guys to you:

The main thing you need to know about Dearly Beloved is that you’ll hear them coming: they generate a furious sonic rumble that resonates from deep inside themselves, shaking the foundations of all you hold dear, and it’s one of the loudest sounds you’ll ever hear. But for the more curious among you, some facts: Rob Higgins plays bass. Jagged, roaring, deafening, feel-it-in-your-chest-cavity-or-I’m-having-a-heart-attack bass. He sings and writes songs too. Co-vocalist Niva Chow wails, mesmerizes and hypnotizes like a banshee. Together, they thrash and howl and harmonize and bring equsl parts melodiousness and dissonance to spin tales of defiance and exploration while maintaining a sense of humor and fun in the face of hard times and modern absurdity. They tour constantly, in their native Canada, in the UK, all over Europe. Fully-fledged keepers of the rock n’roll flame, but with the speed and primal energy of hardcore punks like Fear and Black Flag mixed with the brooding ‘eaviosity of Sabbath and the his/her vocal interplay of The Pixies. For their past releases (the band has been – ahem – “putting out” since ’06), it’s been all about immediacy, intensity, capturing the moment as it happens. This time around, for the imminently forthcoming Admissiion, a slightly different approach… The first “first” of note: working with a producer. Daniel Rey (Ramones, Misfits) is the first studio maven the band has entrusted to sit behind the control board, and hs techniques were strenuos even for a notoriously hard-working band. “We played fifteen of the songs we’d written for the album live in a small, sweaty rehearsal space in East LA. Eight hours a day, every day, for a week for Daniel” recalls Higgins. “The twelve tunes that were still standing after that, got recorded. In 14 days. (Recorded at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, on, you guessed it: the famed, custom built, ’70s-era Neve 8028 analog console that gave us Nevermind and more than a hundred certified gold and platinum rock records.) Luckily, another first for “the Beloveds” this time around was the fact that at least some of the songs were already road-tested, and had been forged-if not born-on tour. That could be why Admission, multi-layered as it is, might be the closest the band has come to capturing their relentless stage energy. So, still a sense of immediacy and intensity, but tempered with thoughtfulness, shrewd reflection, and, it must be said, maturity. The band’s sound and subject matter are as raucous and severe as they’ve ever been, but they’re clearing coming into their own, growing into the space they’ve carved out for themselves, expanding their dynamic range in every sense. Says Higgins: “Admission has plenty of darkness, and heartache, but there is also love and empathy. Dearly Beloved began as an outlet during some dark times that brought some close friends closer. We described our first album (You Are The Jaguar, 2006) as ‘chaos tempered with love and delivered with great fury.’ That still applies. Maybe now more than ever”.

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Dave Grohl is coming to the U.K. very soon as his band, Foo Fighters, are headlining Glastonbury. As much respect as I have for the bearded legend; it seems like a very easy and strange booking. Not only have the band headlined before – they seem like the go-to band and rather predictable – but they have not released new material for a couple of years or so. It has been a while since they produced anything sensational so their headline slot seems rather strange – there must be other acts better-suited to that billing? Away from that moan, it is worth applauding Grohl and his contribution to music. Dearly Beloved were afforded the opportunity to record their new album, Admission, at his Studio 666. Grohl is a bit of a missionary when it comes to assisting and educating the musicians of the world. Here, we hear stories of Grohl lending support, equipment and money to bands and those in need – one incident where he signed a petition/wrote a letter when a garage-based band were complained-at and forded to stop rehearsing. He is a man who always looks out for others and has his heart on sleeve. What I love about Dave Grohl is his drumming pedigree and legacy in music. Not only is he, in my view, the greatest-living drummer but someone who still has that power, potency and passion. There are few that can match Grohl in terms of technique and sheer power. What I love about him is the fact he sort of pops up here and there: part of Them Crooked Vultures (where did they get to?!) and fronting Foo Fighters. I hope he returns to drumming and keeps that up because he is the best we have an inspirational to many. His studio setting, where some fantastic music was created, is a perfect gift to a young act that needed that appropriate setting and atmosphere. Recording on ‘70s-era Nerve 8028 analogue console – the same one that gave us Nevermind – one gets that grungy, 1990s’ sound the guys have produced.

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The entire recording process was completed in a super-quick fourteen-day period and captures their live sound. Dearly Beloved have a lot of love and intelligence but balance that with a healthy dose of energy and swagger. I hope the guys keep on producing albums because as Admission shows, they are one of the most promising and compelling around. I wonder how much of an influence Dave Grohl is to the Canadian act: they seem to vibe from his sound and talent; the same kind of Nirvana-like sound of 1991 – that exciting and stripped-back music we need to see more of. With Daniel Rey helming the album’s creation; the brand-new Dearly Beloved album is as live-sounding and instant as any you will hear. I keep mentioning the word ‘instant’ but that is what you get: music that gets straight into the brain and elicits immediate response. Before I move on – and come to look at the old and new music from Dearly Beloved – I wanted to quickly take a gander at older equipment and how important that is. What Dearly Beloved do is forsake modern luxuries and produce music authentic and classic. You do not get a polished and glossy sound across their album: it is dirty and physical for sure. Again, this is something we do not hear a lot of in the U.K. Maybe some of the underground guys favour that D.I.Y./sparse production sound but there is that tendency to race into the studio and get something ‘professional’ and clean on tape.

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I would like to see a piece of kit like the Nerve 8028 making more of an appearance as it lends a really interesting sound to music. You get that live sound and the impression you are right in the studio. It takes away any sense there are expensive gadgets and processes being employed but has that professional sound to it. I hear some acts who record using four-tracks and more basic equipment but it is something that is going out of favour a bit. The D.I.Y. route is something we cannot ignore as music-making becomes more expensive and less accessible. Studio prices are pretty high and we have the devices at our hands to record on a budget. The rise and popularisation of iPhone and electronic recording devices means you can have a studio in your hand. Doing that does not betray music and mean you are being dishonest – taking the easy way round and being quite fake. Dearly Beloved probably don’t have a huge budget so it is only right they are given the chance to record at a studio space like Studio 666 – unless Grohl demands extraordinarily high fees! I shall move on but wanted to congratulate Dearly Beloved on taking a great approach to music. They are not one of those acts that race to the expensive studios: they know their sound requires something bare and ‘older’. The 1970s recording equipment gives them a lovely, undercooked vibe that will inspire other bands to follow in their footsteps. It is hardly surprising when you consider Toronto music and what is going on right now. I think the guys have a big future and are on a really great path right now. Admission is a fantastic album that shows they are one of the most promising and exhilarating young acts around right now.

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Admission came out October last year and is not the first thing from the duo. ENDUO was released in 2014 and consists Olympics of No Regard. That song starts with snarling and animal-like guitars and sharp percussion. To my ears, there is a whiff of Pixies and that vocal interplay. The song could easily sit on Doolittle or Surfer Rosa in terms of its D.N.A. and sound. It is a short and precise song that delivers what it needs to but leaves you wanting more. Who Wants to Know/Resolution was a limited edition seven-inch release that came out back in 2015 and mixed and recorded by the duo’s bassist/vocalist, Rob Higgins. What I notice, between those two offerings, is a similar love for Pixies and Grunge of the 1980s. There are shades of early-Nirvana and you get a sense of Bleach and Nevermind at times. It is fantastic hearing an act that can mix those bands together but come through with their own ideas. The Toronto duo is distinct and owes a debt to nobody. What you get, and what shines through, is that underfed and bare sound few modern artists are trying. It sounds like the material was recorded in a home studio or in the live arena. Because of that, the music is afforded that genuine touch and authenticity. Many artists who release material a couple of years from their debut work might evolve to the point where they have changed everything. I see a lot of bands/acts start promisingly but then alter their sound and become unrecognisable. Once they are provided a glimpse of a modern studio – or are influenced by new acts coming through – they tailor their sound to that end and lose what made them unique in the first place. It is sad to see but does happen with some great acts. Modern artists like The Wytches (Brighton-based band) started with an original rumble but seem to be copying other acts and trying to fit in with others too much. With Dearly Beloved, there is never a case they are adapting to modern times and selling-out at all. Admission is their first full-length and opportunity to spread their wings. Many similar artists might get nervous and struggle to keep loyal to the beginning but that is not the case here. Fans of the duo’s early work will find much to love but there is new confidence and inspiration across the album. It is a record that gets through with things very quickly and sounds like a single, explosive live performance. If you look for gloss and cinema in an album you might be disappointed but those who appreciate true musicianship and classic Garage sounds will be very pleased. I know the guys will continue to make music and hope they stick with the fantastic equipment and studio space they used for Admission.

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I Tried to Leave is the album’s third track (of ten) and keeps the kick and spirit going from opening, RIP. You get a scratchy riff and sense of build-up from the opening moments of the song. I hate to keep coming to the Nirvana well but one gets an instant rush of Nevermind and Bleach. As a fan of both albums; you hear bits of Drain You and the possibilities there – that same sort of introduction and melodic sensibility. Whilst the percussion doesn’t riffle as disarmingly as Breed and Smells Like Teen Spirit; there is a healthy smack that would have had Dave Grohl stroking his beard with approval. The 1970s’ equipment and Nevermind studio space means the duo vibe from that history and legendary aura and vibe that into their music. As the song is over with before the three-minute mark; one would be forgiven for going straight in with the vocal and getting down to it. Dearly Beloved take time to build the mood and not go straight for the obvious. Maybe the song looks at a relationship that needs to exist for the health of both parties. Because the vocal duties are shared throughout; one never knows who is to blame and which person is most affected. It is a clever tactic and one that means you always have two interpretations. Our hero/heroine tried to step away but the other, it seems, was a bit clingy or dependant. Maybe breaking up would be destructive and cause irreparable scars – it seems like there is a bit of a hostage situation unfolding. Maybe I am wrong but there is that need to get away and move on but something that keeps bringing them back. As both provide vocals, and in turn, the story/lyrics; we must apportion blame and spotlight equally. It is hard to ignore the impending chorus which arrives like a storm.

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At the start, the introduction evokes memories of Nirvana and Pixies – keeping original skin and Dearly Beloved’s back catalogue – but, by the time the chorus looms in, your mind is taken in all sorts of directions. I have been entrenched in British Folk and L.A. Indie/Alternative for so long; have missed Canadian bravado and quality Garage. The chorus is that classical singalong jam: both vocalists together eliciting lashings of spirit, energy and addictiveness. You find yourself repeating it and singing along with the duo. It is a real blitz and firecracker that is never too heavy and raw but never descends into Pop territory. The instruments take a backseat as the voice takes centre stage. The chorus/song title is that key message and underlined in bold marker. Again, everyone will have their own views but I got an idea of two opposing lovers with different ideas about love. The song changes directions and dynamics so it always remains fresh and unexpected. After another blast of the chorus, there is a bit of a bass solo before the next chorus comes in. I love the interplay between players and the strength of the percussion: always slamming and pummelling whilst the guitars snarl and spit alongside it. I said Dave Grohl would approve of such sounds and you can detect a lovely little mix of his early Nirvana work and Foo Fighters. When the next chorus comes back in, one gets impressions the relationship is not going to get back onto solid ground. As is traditional with a lot of Punk songs; decipherability gets lost a bit so some of the lyrics do pass you by. Owing to the older recording equipment and vibrancy of the performance; that is a risk one takes but never dents the song’s strengths and quality. In fact, the emphasis is on the performance and overall sound. The duo proves how electric and solid they are: the song slams and rocks as hard as it would in any live setting.

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After the stunning, snake-like bass and determined percussion: it is that vocal dynamic that comes in and get the feet moving. I Tried to Leave is a song that gets the blood rushing and all the limbs engaged. I miss that kind of music and always long for something that digs deep and offers physicality and movement. The duo is not those who throw something simple together and hope that does the trick. There is emotion and heart underneath the bluster; plenty of nuance and little details. The sweethearts share laughs and baths but unable to extricate themselves from each other. You get a real vivid insight into domestic disharmony with humour and underlying tensions. The two are warring and have that passive-aggressive vein but seem to be unwilling to bend and submit. That idea of sharing baths and carrying on as normal adds the needed wit and observational reality to the song. There are no exaggerated fights and fictional ideas: Dearly Beloved paint a picture of a very real relationship that has seen better days but is carrying on regardless. I am not sure what has caused this tension and division but it is fun following the story. You get another explosive chorus – each time it comes in it picks up relevance and weight – but get a Psychedelic, drugged guitar snarl. It lurches and aches; it staggers and contorts to give the song another angle. The chorus and verses are quite linear and straight – they do not deviate and keep solid and level-headed. The little instrument solos take the track out in new directions and give new emotion to the foreground. Now, one hears that twisted gut and inner-turmoil being explored. It is a drugged and drunken swing that represents the lovers’ discontent. Niva Chow and Rob Higgins provide sensational vocals and driven by the urgent, tide-like basslines. As the song progresses, you get a splicing of Pixies and Nirvana. Higgins has that Krist Novoselic bass quality but has the guttural, commanding sound of Kurt Cobain. Chow reminds me of Kim Deal and has similar qualities in the voice. You almost get a bit of supergroup coming together with Dearly Beloved.

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By the last notes of I Tried to Leave, it seems hard to believe the song is over. You want it to keep going and hear that chorus keep coming back. As such, it is a song that demands repeated listens and yields something new every time. It is a song that perfectly defines the album and proves what a huge force the duo is. I keep coming back to the song and love its verve, rush and sides. You take a few times to get to the bottom of the story and will have different views and interpretations each time. I would love to see the song appear on BBC Radio 6 Music as feel it would be picked up by them. The guys would get a great reception in the U.K. and have a sound very few acts over her possess. I keep mentioning bands like Nirvana but meant as no slight. Dearly Beloved have that resonating sound of the Seattle legends but never replicate their music. They bring Pop, Psychedelia and Garage into Grunge and mix that with Punk. What you get is a bubbling and exciting blend of colours and sounds that will appeal to a massive audience. It is a tough and busy market out there but feel Dearly Beloved are a step ahead of most. I Tried to Leave is a brilliant song you will never grow tired of. It is one of the finest new tracks I have heard this year and means I will follow the two as much as possible. If the Canadian force keep things the way they are they are likely to ascend to the mainstream very soon – likely to get a lot of touring demands around the U.K., too. I cannot wait to see if the guys are playing here as it would be great to see them.

The Canadian Garage-Punk two-piece have been covered by everyone from NME, Alt Press and Noisey: they have garnered a large following in the local media and look set to make their way across the waters really soon. They keep Rock going strong with nods to legendary acts Black Flag, Black Sabbath and Pixies. The guys have that moody, brooding interplay and the vocal switches/blend of Pixies. You have that 1970s’ rage and hardcore lust of Punk and Garage but there’s a contemporary edge and relevance to their music. All these genres/acts/decades mixed together might seem haphazard and risky: the duo pull it off and have a real knowledge of what they are doing. You never get the idea Dearly Beloved are winging-it and chancers. I have a huge affection for 1990s’ Garage artists like The Von Bondies and The White Stripes and been looking for like-minded acts for a long time now. Of course, the Toronto duo sources their material from the blacker/harsher side of the spectrum but remind me of that classic wave of Garage music. Maybe there is more of a leaning towards Pop and Alternative sounds in this country but that, I hope, will change very soon. I have been listening to Admission – not enough time or hand strength to review the entire thing – but can attest to its majesty and dominance. It is a record that sounds like it was recorded in the live setting – laying down tapes and capturing it as it all comes together. In an age where gloss and polish threatens to ruin the honesty and soul of music: artists that take a reverse approach, and take it back to older times, are to be applauded. That is not to say Dearly Beloved are a vintage act that are out of touch and prefer music back then. Naturally, they have a great respect and affection for their local scene and the artists coming through right now.

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This is all fed into music that, once heard, is not forgotten in a hurry. You keep coming back to it and long to have that rush and kick: an affective and addictive set of songs that get the blood rushing for sure. Before I come back to my earlier points, I wanted to take a quick look at Dearly Beloved’s future and what they are doing this year. The duo have been touring Europe and taking in the sights and scenes of Germany and Spain. It is rare to hear a Canadian act get great gigs in Europe so early in their careers. Maybe I am being ignorant and naïve but feel Canadian artists struggle to get attention right from the off. The media are a bit reluctant, in the U.S., to expend energy promoting the musicians so how do you get your music heard that far afield? Social media and word-of-mouth has a lot to answer for an affective promotional tool for many artists. That is the case for Dearly Beloved who have a solid and growing fanbase backing them every step of the way. I cannot wait to hear the guys come to the U.K. and play their music here. I am not sure whether there are solid plans but one imagines it is only a matter of time before they come and play in Britain. I know there are many venues, pubs and clubs they could perform: so many different corners of London they could rock; a great wave of northern locales to put their music down. We, here, always look for tremendous Rock/Grunge/Punk bands so I hope Dearly Beloved have tour ambitions here. I know 2017 is going to be busy for the guys as they capitalise on the release of Admission. The album is getting a lot of love and those comparisons come in. Many are seeing shades of Nirvana in the music which is hardly a surprise.

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Under the tutelage and eyes of Dave Grohl – in that famed studio space – and using the same equipment that gave Nevermind its razorblade lust; of course there are going to be embers of the Grunge legends. You get, with the album, plenty of original identity and personality from Canadian musicians who mean serious business. They have grown up on some of the finest groups of all time and put that into their incredible songs. I Tried to Leave is a perfect example of what they are about and the components of Admission: it goes for the gut but has nuance and lingering impressions. When you see the duo on paper, you might assume they are going to be dispensable and a bit of a shallow charm. Maybe the music will whizz by and that will be that really. What you actually find is an act that evoke the memories of 1970s’ greats and Grunge legends but have the talent and stamina to go all the way in music. The praise they have accrued is no accident and that is the start of things. I would like to see U.S. tour dates come in for the duo: a chance for them to get into the big cities and prick the ears of the American music press. Perhaps they do have a big following there, me jumping to conclusions, but it is imperative the nation wakes up and recognises what they are all about. I am not sure whether Dearly Beloved have any festivals lined up or any new music scheduled for later in the year but I know they will continue to release music for many years to come.

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I’ll end this now and come to my earlier points. I think many overlook just what is happening in Toronto and the fantastic music being made there. I know Dearly Beloved have the support of the local media and social media but one wonders just how long they will have to play until U.S. media catches up with them. Maybe I am being harsh on America but know there is that grudge attitude towards Canada. You see it in sitcoms and on U.S. T.V. Canada is often the butt of jokes and ridiculed without any irony at all. For a nation whose leader is pushing everyone away and intent on destroying the free world: can America really stand up and criticise? In fact, the Canadian government is a lot more compassionate and sane than most in the world. They have the right attitude to immigration and gun violence; a lot more loving and sensible than the present American regime. I am not sure where that animosity/rivalry stems from. Why is it Canada is frequently belittled and patronised by the U.S.? Whatever it is, that seems to extend into the music media. Aside from a few American column inches; Dearly Beloved are getting more praise and focus from Europe that anywhere else it seems. The guys are with a British P.R. company and have just toured Europe. It is great they’re getting love over here but there is a huge market in the U.S. they deserve to carve-up. Aside from Seattle, New York and Washington D.C.; there are so many different areas the duo could play. Maybe those gigs will come in but I am pleased Dearly Beloved have that nod and support from Dave Grohl. Not only has the Nirvana legend lent him their studio space but, in doing so, shown he loves what they are doing. The studio space and 1970s’ recording equipment that makes Admission shine is the same that gave Nevermind its incredible sound. I’ll end this soon but am reluctant to cast all the blame on America – when it comes to publicity and promotion. I know Dearly Beloved will do great and have already crafted a large and dedicated following. As they become more confident and stronger, those big chances will come. I can see them, in addition to some of their local peers, being invited to our festivals and given the cobwebs a good blowing.

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This brings me to my last points about Toronto acts and the lack of Garage artists in Britain. Admission is an album I have not seen replicated by any artist (over here) this year. Maybe our music cultures are different but I’d like to think there is a comparable political dynamic that bleeds into music. Canada is a lot more open and loving than our government. The nation is friendlier and less crowded which is giving the musicians in Canada the confident, space and support they need to push boundaries and make all sorts of music. Here, it is busy, fraught and divided. As such, we are seeing fewer original and fascinating artists come to the mainstream and make it to our ears. I am not sure if there is a correlation between landscape and political climate when looking at music but there is logic there. If you live somewhere you feel happy and safe in; the music is going to be stronger and more dynamic. I get fed up with so many polished Pop stars and new bands who sound like everyone else. It has been a long while since I’ve got excited about a band. Maybe it is just my age and tastes but what are you going to do about it? As I said earlier; there are some great Garage acts in the underground but how much support will they get from the mainstream. There is a general fear, among brand-new acts, there is a certain sound favoured by the bigwigs and main radio stations. Largely, that tends to be a mix of Pop, Indie and commercial music. As such, we are finding it takes a lot longer for great, original artists to get their just rewards. That may be the reason why there are so few Dearly Beloved-like acts working in the U.K.

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I’ll take this down but implore everyone to investigate Dearly Beloved and throw some love to Toronto. We here are (thank God) not American and have a lot of respect for Canada. While we admire the dashing Justin Trudeau and his policies; the fact the country is (relatively safe) and loves its fellow man – how often do we get involved with the music of Canada? Sure, we all know the mainstream examples like Arcade Fire but not so much when it comes to underground acts. I guess our minds instantly stay in Britain and, if they go anywhere else, head to the U.S. We forget Canada is right next to them and deserves a lot of time. Ottawa is a wonderful music city, but for my money, Toronto is the leading city in Canada when it comes to world-class music. It is not just the Garage and Punk acts that excite me but the fantastic Pop/Electro. artists there. Ever since I reviewed Toronto Post-Punk group Terrorista; I have been fascinated by the musicians there. That band put together a split-cassette with another group (whose name alludes me) and each took a different approach. There were two songs but both bands featured on them. One group took lead vocals/composition whilst the other provided backing – vice versa in the other song. The fact they recorded on cassette and took that novel approach to music really impressed me. I have not seen that done here but that is what’s so great about Toronto. There are some terrific artists taking things back to better, simpler days but remaining very much in the present. Whilst cassette releases might not be feasible and possible now – the number of times you’d get it stuck in the tape machine; many do not have them anymore – it proves how innovative and retro. some of the artists are. Dearly Beloved love the studio sounds and equipment of the 1970s and the fantastic Punk bands that started at that time. There is that affection for Nirvana and that support from Dave Grohl. To get a nod and backing from a music legend this early proves how good Dearly Beloved are. The likes of Hormoans and Prince Innocence show the different sides of the city. The former is a Garage-Punk band who have been making strides since 2013 and continuing to grow larger and strong. They are indicative of the core of Punk/Garage artists putting Toronto on the map. The latter put synthetic Pop and Soul music together to create something alluring, dreamy and head-spinning. The boy-girl duo is ones to watch and show what a depth and range Toronto music has. Maybe Dave Grohl will come knocking for them but love the fact he has backed Dearly Beloved. Admission is an album that warrants that approval and benefits from that equiptment/studio space. I cannot wait to see how the Canadian duo do in future years and…

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WILL throw my support firmly behind them.

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Follow Dearly Beloved

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Official:

http://www.dearlybelovedmusic.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TheBeloveds/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/thebeloveds

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/thebeloveds/

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfSJEWpclCptB92PuAQNv4Q

BandCamp:

https://dearlybeloved.bandcamp.com/

FEATURE: Young, Gifted and…Proud: The Black Music Scene: The Legends and the New Breed

FEATURE:

 

Young, Gifted and…Proud:

 

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IN THIS PHOTO: Alicia Keys

 

The Black Music Scene: The Legends and the New Breed

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ONE of the main reasons for writing this piece…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Stormzy

is the rise and realisation of Stomrzy’s talent. His debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, is a masterful work that demonstrates a huge knowledge of Grime and Rap. His wordplay is fantastic: beyond the predictable fare a lot of his contemporaries serve up; there is wit, wisdom and enormous confidence. That confidence is staggering from someone at this early stage. That album is already picking up plenty of four/five-star reviews and resonating with critics. Stormzy is part of a Grime scene starting to come back into force. Since the introduction of Dizzee Rascal and his peerless debut, Boy in da Corner in 2003; there has not been quite the continuation one would hope. Stormzy is spread-heading a huge revival and new wave of Grime brilliance. Away from him, there are some fantastic young black artists making their moves and brewing some terrific music. From BBC-approved newcomers RAY BLK and Jorja Smith to Lulu James, Elf Kid and Thundercat: some of the finest new music of the moment. It might seem strange writing about black musicians but I feel there is prejudice and a certain degree of racism in modern music.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Lulu James/PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.filipssmits.co.uk/

Certainly, black musicians have to work harder than their white peers: there isn’t the equality one would hope – a fact that has made me quite angry and sad. It will take more than acts like Stormzy demanding respect for it to actually happen. There needs to be an overhaul and deep look inside music: ensuring there isn’t the sort of imbalanced we are seeing now; celebrating the black artists making a real difference in music. To that end, I look at the black artists who have defined music and provided us some extraordinary work. From the Reggae greats to Grime masters; fantastic girl groups and the legends of music – playlists that collate the best black musicians from a range of genres/decades.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Jorja Smith

It is hard to say exactly how influential black musicians have been in terms of shaping music as we know it. Without the likes of Blues pioneers Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and Blind Lemon Jefferson; would music have continued and grown the way it did. Those guys (and girls) were some of the first real musicians of the twentieth-century. Similarly, Jazz legends like Miles Davis and Charles Mingus have helped inspire a new generation of Jazz artists and created peerless, masterful albums. In terms of Davis alone; he probably had a lot to answer for in terms of creating Psychadelia and Progressive-Rock with L.P.s like Bitches Brew. Jazz might seem like a lesser-known and under-appreciated genre but it, like Blues, are the forefathers of music as we know it and have inspired artist from Bob Dylan through to The Beatles – modern musicians such as Jack White and Radiohead. Fast-forward into the 1960s and ’70s and we saw some fantastic, world-class Pop, Soul and Reggae approach.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Miles Davis

The Soul and Motown movements were particularly inspiring and exciting. Growing from Detroit, which went on to transform America, it was those largely-black artists that stood up and provided something unifying and universal. In a divided America, especially from the 1960s, black and white communities were split and there was a real sense of dislocation and separation. Against the balkanised communities; music like Motown (a hit factory and label rather than a genre) touched a nation and helped bridged gaps in the nation – not solving racial tensions but making a real, long-lasting impact. I could go into great detail about Motown and Stax and the importance of Detroit. If the U.S. city is no longer as viable as a music hub as once was – moulding acts like The White Stripes, Eagles and MC5 – it was hugely important with regards the soul bands/artists of the 1960s (onwards). Not only were the messages, from some acts,, helping break boundaries and destigmatise racial issues: the sheer magnetism and craft of the Motown song has directly fed into modern Pop. That straight-to-the-point, hugely memorable songcraft is wonderful to look back on – created, largely, by black artists.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Michael Jackson

There has been racial hatred and discrimination since the dawn of time but it seems like the last sixty years or so has been particularly severe. Soul legends like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye directly addressed the issue in some of the finest music of their careers – the latter produced the sublime, soulful call-for-unity, A Change Is Gonna Come; the latter, the angered and disgusted, What’s Going On. Whilst tackling social and racial imbalance was key to the rise of black music in this period; there were those equally important who were talking about more conventional, less controversial themes. Soul and Pop icons Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson provided some of the most inspiring music of the 1970s and 1980s. The former, the unarguable leader of the 1970s Soul whose legacy and influence can be heard today – there are so many new musicians who owe their careers to Wonder. Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, again, a hugely inspiring Pop figure who will continue to motivate and compel new musicians for decades to come.

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The past twenty years has seen the importance and vitality of black music continue and evolve. I have included a 1990s’ playlist to show some of the wonderful one-off tracks and changes that occurred during the decades. A lot of the artists of that time, girl groups especially, continued the fine tradition and heritage of Soul and Motown with its core D.N.A. – memorable, uplifting songs and exceptional instancy – but pushed forwarded and provided a more hard-hitting and bold approach to the form. Rap, Hip-Hop and Reggae was changing and hinting at what was to come (as we know it today). I mentioned the social and political pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s: by the 1980s and 1990s; a new wave of angry, discontent young black musicians were making their voices known. From the expletive-ridden, raw mantras of N.W.A. to the militaristic street poetry of Public Enemy: groups and young men rallying against tyranny and racism with intelligence, passion and phenomenal music. This continues today where we find U.S. giants like Kendrick Lamar speaking about racial problems and struggles in the hood; how the black community is often second-best (if that) and always the overlooked minority. If the girl groups of the last decade-or-so have failed to deliver relevant and deep messages (in their music); the same cannot be said of the triple alliance of En Vogue, TLC and Destiny’s Child – add Salt-N-Pepa to the boiling pot.

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En Vogue, through songs Free Your Mind, looked at colour and race during the 1990s – delivering it with huge punch, grit and determination. TLC and Salt-N-Pepa talked of sexual freedom and safe sex (conversely; Salt-N-Pepa in Push It and Let’s Talk About Sex) whilst Destiny’s Child promulgated female empowerment and reversing gender roles – where the, in the past, woman was put-upon; the group were proponents of Girl Power – rebelling against emasculation and suppression. I often look at modern girl groups – Little Mix and Fifth Harmony – and find them pale imitations of the great girl groups of the late-80s and 1990s. They are less concerned talking about racial issues and gender roles: more about stomping on cheating ex-lovers and no-good boys. Fortunately, there is a no crop of black artists who are talking about the streets they live in and the government who, supposedly, represent them. I have looked at Stormzy but Grime siblings Kano, RAY BLK and Skepta are bringing listeners into The Real World and what it is like for the young black population in Britain. Across in the U.S., Kendrick Lamar, as stated, is one of the most potent and astonishing voices for black rights – a rare prophet who has no equals when it comes to his messages and music.

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Anyone who ignores or overlooked black music is turning a blind eye to some of the most important and wonderful sounds you will hear. The playlists you find below are just a representations of the genres/acts who have helped make music what it is today – some truly astonishing artists who have bring music forward and, in my view, are more striking, relevant and original than their white peers. Setting aside pure-race-related differences/comparisons: genres like Soul and Grime alone are highlighting some incredible black artists who are laying down some unbelievable music. If the modern Soul scene is not as legendary and world-class as it was in the 1970s: modern acts like Michael Kiwanuka and Laura Mvula are offering some sensational, emotional records that have resounded with critics, award panels and the public alike. There is a new way of Grime, Soul and Hip-Hop that proves black artists deserve a lot more respect and opportunity than they’re currently afforded. I hope changes will occur in the next few years: platforms for black artists to shine. As the playlists below, prove; we owe so much to the incredible artists of colour who are inspiring and motivating the next generation.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Whitney Houston

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The Legends

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IN THIS PHOTO: Prince

Soul and Jazz

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IN THIS PHOTO: Aaliyah

Reggae

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IN THIS PHOTO: Bob Marley

Blues

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IN THIS PHOTO: Big Mama Thornton

Grime

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IN THIS PHOTO: Dizzee Rascal

Hip-Hop and Rap

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IN THIS PHOTO: Public Enemy

Girl Groups

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IN THIS PHOTO: En Vogue

The 1990s

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IN THIS PHOTO: Blackstreet

The New Breed

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IN THIS PHOTO: RAY BLK

FEATURE: The February Playlist: Vol. 4: Northern at Heart

FEATURE:

 

The February Playlist

 

 

Vol. 4: Northern at Heart

___________

WITH February being such a short month…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Thundercat

this is the last edition of my weekly Playlist – until next Saturday, at least! The Brit Awards was on this week – I do not like it and feel it celebrates the worst of music – but would be remiss were I not to include a few live performances from the night. Given the fact Muse, Kasabian and, yes, Eminem have been confirmed as the headliners for the Reading and Leeds Festival – I include a fine song from each of those artists. Of course, there is the usual assortment of brand-new songs and videos and album tracks. Like every week, there will be something for everyone to get their teeth in. I am not sure whether the final days of February produce new songs but I will be keeping my eyes out.

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EminemNot Afraid

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Muse Hysteria

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Kasabian Club Foot

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Little MixShout Out to My Ex

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Ed Sheeran (ft. Stormzy)Castle on the Hill & Shape of You

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The 1975The Sound

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Katy Perry (ft. Skip Marley)Chained to the Rhythm

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The Chainsmokers and ColdplaySomething Just Like This

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Bruno MarsThat’s What I Like

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The 1975By Your Side

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Lana Del ReyLove

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AnohniParadise

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Dua LipaThinking ‘Bout You

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Skepta Shutdown

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Mr SankaBe Easy

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Stormzy Cold

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Calvin Harris (ft. Frank Ocean and Migos)Slide

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Gucci Mane (feat. Nicki Minaj)Make Love

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Prince Royce and ShakiraDeja Vu

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The ChainsmokersSomething Just Like This

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SoleimaBreathe

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IcarusKing Kong

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Thundercat (ft. Kendrick Lamar)Walk on By

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Future and RihannaSelfish

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Zedd and Alessia CaraStay

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GnashLonely Again

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FutureDraco

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Ben HobbsShame

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British Sea PowerKeep on Trying (Sechs Freunde)

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Ride Home Is a Feeling

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Erika JayneXxpens$ive

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John MayerEmoji of a Wave

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Dope Lemon – Neon Lights

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Young ThugSafe

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Harrison BromeBody High

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SuleneHaunting

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Jessarae Don’t Let Them In (Loft Session)

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RIVRS Bad Karma

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James VickeryLately

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TidusBefore It’s Too Late

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Belly Squad Moving

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Storme Burning Echoes

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Pell Patience

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Pale WavesThere’s a Honey

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Marshmello x Ookay (ft. Noah Cyrus)Chasing Colors

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THEY.Silence

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CMC$Won’t Let You Go

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Busy P. (ft. Mayer Hawthorne)Genie

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Jack VallierRebekah

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Bruno MajorJust the Same

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SigridDon’t Kill My Vibe

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RITUALDrown the Lovers

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Little Dragon High

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Lil Yachty and Carly Rae Jepsen It Takes Two

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Black Kids IFFY

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Afrojack (ft. Luis Fonsi)Wave Your Flag

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IyesFeelings

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Kato & Sigala (ft. Hailee Steinfeld)Show Your Love

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Los Campesinos!5 Flucloxacillin

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The Big MoonSucker

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Meghan TrainorI’m a Lady (from the film Smurfs: The Lost Village)

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Sam Feldt & Hook in Sling Open Your Eyes

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Happyness Through Windows

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AcceptanceColliding by Design

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Balto Midnight

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Children of AliceThe Liminal Space

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Fireproof

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FrothPetals

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GrandaddyWay We Won’t

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PHOTO CREDIT: Bill McCullough

Knife in the WaterCall It a Shame

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Nadia ReidThe Arrow and the Aim

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Ne-Hi Stay Young

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The FeeliesGone, Gone, Gone

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Sun Kil MoonChili Lemon Peanuts

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Syd Smile More

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Suicide SilenceThe Zero

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Pigeon Detectives Munro

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Little Big TownBetter Man

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King Gizzard and the Lizard WizardMelting

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The Brian Jonestown MassacreOne Slow Breath

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Passion PitHey K

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Spoon Can I Sit Next to You

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TemplesStrange or be Forgotten

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Tom Williams Everybody Needs a Home

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Blanck Mass Please

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So… what’s the reason behind the header for this edition of The February Playlist? Well, as the weather gets warmer and the days longer; I feel myself gravitating towards the people and opportunities further north. I have always had an affinity for those up north but never considered myself living there. I can relate a lot to the people and their personalities: their toughness and humour; the way they do things and how they see the world. That is perhaps best left for another day but it is something on my mind. To distract myself from possible life-changing decisions; I have enjoyed compiling a list of this week’s best new tracks and those songs that have slipped me by – some do get away from me!

TRACK REVIEW: Patch & the Giant – The Beggar’s Song

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Patch & the Giant

 

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The Beggar’s Song

 

8.8/10

 

 

 

The Beggar’s Song is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/patchandthegiant/the-beggars-song

GENRE:

Folk

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

10th February, 2017

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The album, All That We Had, We Stole, is available via:

https://itunes.apple.com/album/all-that-we-had-we-stole/id1149933007?app=itunes

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AS is customary with my reviews…

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I want to talk about a number of different things – before I get down to the music in question. Without further ado, I want to look at the Folk and Bluegrass artists primed for big things this year – thanks to http://theboot.com/americana-alt-country-bluegrass-folk-artists-to-watch-2017/ for the suggestions – and the reason the genres should not be overlooked. After that, I will look at studio discipline and creating that all-important live sound; go to look at Folk in 2017 as a whole – and the types of albums that could be making a mark – before I get onto the festival circuit and national radioplay. After that, I’ll do a little bit on compositional range and instrumentation arrangements. Maybe my expectations are too high but I always expected magazines and websites to load and prepare their list of names to watch this year. Not only has that been a lack, compared with other years, of polls but fewer still when you drill down to genres and cities. Sure, you’re not going to get anything as niche and precise as ‘Best New Stockport Rock Bands 2017’ – maybe there is! – but something more general wouldn’t be expecting too much? As someone who follows Folk and artists in that oeuvre: I have been stunned by the real surfeit of lists and recommendations for this year. If you, like I, am looking for Bluegrass/Folk artists to keep a watchful eye on this year; you could give Troy Cartwright some love. Perhaps more a name in Texas (than anywhere else); the artist has played with Country mainstays of the state and is one of the most promising Americana/Bluegrass talents emerging. Front Country are an original and seldom-traditional Bluegrass band that emphasis Blues (over Folk) but interject Pop, Country and Folk to create something invigorating and diverse. The group signed recently with Organic Records and are primed to make big strides throughout 2017. Before I look at other Folk artists, and stop paying tribute to The Boot’s kicking suggestions; I wanted to introduce husband-and-wife duo Johnnyswim. Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano released Georgica Pond last year – it debuted at number thirteen on the Billboard Top Current Album charts. The final U.S./Americana acts I want to laud are Whitney Rose and Adia Victoria. The former is, technically, Canadian so it might seem at-odds she makes it onto an Americana/Country list in America.

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She is a now-Texas-based musician not bound by conventions and genre-borders: South Texas Suite is her forthcoming E.P. and pays homage to Texas and the state she fell for. Like Whitney Rose; Adia Victoria lists multiple genres as influences – Delta Blues, Afro.-Punk and Country weave inside Folk and Americana. Having worked with Roger Moutenot (Sleater-Kinney; Yo La Tengo); she is impressing critics and making a name for herself. In terms of those U.K. Folk artists worth keeping them peeled for: there is less information online so one has to rely on a sense of intuition and patience. I keep mentioning Laura Marling but she is the artist I feel will lay down the best album of the year. Her album, Semper Femina, is out next month and has already had a couple of singles released from it – I think three songs from the record are out in the atmosphere. I know she will be touring and doing great things but seems to epitomise the quality of Folk and what can be achieved. The list of names I just mentioned have that multifarious, multi-genre sound and defy the usual expectations of Folk. I have given a sprinkling of American names that are going to get bigger and more popular this year. Aside from Laura Marling, there is an undercurrent of Folk suggesting some wonderful music this year. What defines the best Folk music right now is that musical endeavour and ambition. I guess there are artists that fit into that pastoral Folk mould: it is just acoustic strumming and a much lighter, less complicated. In other reviews, I have stated how many still associate Folk with a certain beard-stroking, pontificating sound – that or a drippy, wishy-washy acoustic-led noise that is pleasant but hardly memorable. I hear many artists who play in this mould but they are becoming fewer. What my featured act does, and the best from the genre is get the guitars out but bring in other instrumental – I shall go into more detail soon – and flesh the Folk sound out.

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It is not betraying the genre’s roots by taking this approach. Even early Folk acts like Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention and Joan Baez threw various instruments and genres into Folk. Laura Marling, who I just mentioned, is not exclusively acoustic. In fact, her recent track Soothing employed double bass; previous albums have included electric guitar and horns. The best British artists of the new underground are showing how an open-minded approached to subject matter and composition is the way to ensure success and gain large fan numbers. Jamie Isaac’s debut album, Couch Baby, blended beautiful, brooding pianos and cinematic styles that recalled the likes of Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans. Bonzai is a twenty-year-old rapper from Dublin who began busking as a Folk act before listening to Hip-Hop and Electronic music. Her current sounds suggest someone fearless and daring when it comes to cross-pollinating and experimentation. Another fine young performer is Will Joseph Cook. His sunny Pop and mature lyrics look at everyday life and love but do so in a fresh and uplifted way. All these artists push boundaries and are never reluctant to stick with simple compositions and predictable lyrics. This, rather neatly/messily, brings me to another act who follow that the same lines. Their Folk prescription is just what this year requires: able to heal the ailing and reinvigorate tired minds. Before I raise a new point, let me introduce the band to you:

 “Patch & The Giant are a dynamic troupe of musicians who have fast become a genuine force within the UK alt-folk scene, since releasing their debut EP The Boatswain’s Refuge on Folkroom Records in 2013 (produced by BBC Folk Award winner Ben Walker).  National radio support has come from BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and Amazing Radio, they’ve had loyal support from the blog community and have recorded live sessions for the BBC’s legendary ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, Bandstand Busking, Songs From The Shed, Sofar Sounds and many more.

They’ve also been winning over crowds on the festival circuit, playing everywhere from Green Man Festival, Secret Garden Party, Cambridge Folk Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, to Wilderness, Deershed, BoomTown Fair and Standon Calling. They’ve supported artists including The Twilight Sad, Roo Panes, Matthew&TheAtlas, John Spiers (Bellowhead), To Kill A King, Elephant Revival and Keston Cobblers’ Club and they’ve played their own headline tours around the country alongside performances at some of London’s most iconic venues, including Cecil Sharp House, Bush Hall and Scala.  The band have also just announced a full UK tour to support the album kicking off with the album launch party in London, full dates below”.

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The guys have played London dates recently but not sure if they are all based in the city. It seems like the perfect place for their intoxicating, unpredictable music. What I said about Nu-Folk, as it were, and the artists subverting expectations is true of Patch & the Giant. They are a band who has a Folk look to them – publicity photos leave little doubt of that – but challenge preconceptions when you listen to their songs unfold. I’ll talk more about their new album All That We Said, We Stole a bit later (in depth at least) but it is the culmination of years of work. Actually, when I said the band looked like a typical Folk act I was a bit hasty. The band is not your typical bearded blokes or Mumford & Sons-like dullards who struggle to entice and appeal. The band have notes of Mumford’ but never tread the same weary and plodding path as them – not by a long shot! The boy-girl, mixed race dynamic of the band makes them stand out before you even hear them. Maybe that same strange to say but the modern age is not as progressive as one would hope. Most bands today or boy-boy/girl-girl or very predictable on paper. Patch & the Giant have cool attire and a very suave look. In fact, take a look at the album cover and you have five very cool and contemporary musicians looking back at you – aside from two members who seem to be distracted and deep in thought (perhaps ten eyes on you is too intimidating to handle!). That album title suggests, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, a magpie’s approach to music-making: half-inching what is lying around as your own; a semi-plagiaristic aesthetic that suggests very little original thought. Even though the quintet has been together years they are just getting to their debut album stage now. Many may ask why that is. Maybe they have been on a wild booze cruise or become fond of the occult; perhaps they have developed a predilection for cock-fighting and being touring the world with some rangy, determined birds and a fistful of dollars. That seems fantasised but it not far from the mindset of many music journalists. When a band spends time assembling an album many, rather sarcastically, theorise explanations and conspiracies. In a fast-paced, consumer age where dispensability is large and attention spans are short – there is that need for instant music and quick returns.

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Our five-piece have worked their socks off touring and honing their sound. The music industry is as competitive and cut-throat now as it has ever been. I have never witnessed a period when there are so many artists; so few making a profitable career out of things. For that reason, you cannot just rush into music with any old music. I understand the temptation to go in hard: if you take too long there is a chance there will be no space in music and opportunities will be few. As always, talent wins the day and is more powerful than sheer numbers and time. Under the masterful gaze of Nick Trepka, the band came up with a polished and accomplished album – not surprising when you consider Trepka has worked with Emmy the Great and Speech Debelle. It is a record that has Balkan shades and evokes memories of Beirut (the band) with a certain riparian tenderness and modern D.I.Y. Folk. In order to fuse such a wonderful collection of songs; Patch & the Giant spent time crafting the album but ensure it has that live feel and is not too slick and shiny. That is one of the problems I have with acts who spend a long time in the studio: they use the time to make the music sound as flavourless and machine-made as possible. Humanity and organic tendencies are replaced with that zeal for chart success and something easy. If the band had made the music too live-sounding, it might lack the richness and nuance it has. What they have done is blend a polished studio sound with the kind of music you can hear them perform up-close. As such, there are detailed and imaginative compositions with heartfelt and direct performances. Trepka insisted the band record as much as possible live to distinguish it from other albums out there. What you get (with All That We Said, We Stole) is a live, albeit crystalline performance that draws you right in.

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Whether the band’s actual live sets sound as fantastic and spine-tingling – I shall have to find out – I am not sure. During this record – the guys hunkering and resiliently staying in the studio until they finished the album – the band were discovering who they were and bringing all their previous experience together. It is the culmination of their desire and talents: a chest-load of wonderful songs that marks them out for long-term success and approval. I admire this studio dynamic and refusing to be intimidated by time pressures and rushing into things. The songs were gestating for a long time (since Easter 2015 as the band say). Against the grain of the rush-released albums and Pop procedures; there are those acts that have a rather maternal approach to recording – a nurturing instinct that means the music needs time to grow and formulate. Granted, Patch & the Giant’s musical pregnancy would put an elephant to shame but that is what they needed to do. Even if the band see the album as a ‘journey’ – I will start banning an artist that uses this word without talking about an actual journey – it is one that has been quite nervous and strange. When you have the material in your head, there is a sense of safety and lack of responsibility. Once it is out in the open and committed to tape; it is no longer in the womb (shall drop the birthing analogies now!) and you have to let it fend for itself. The fact the group took their time and showed such discipline in the studio has resulted in an L.P. of beauty, wonder and incredible range. I have mentioned how the key to longevity is taking time to germinate and produce music – rather than panicking and putting any old slop onto the musical dining set.

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I’ll finish this segment off by looking at festivals and nationwide radio and compositional endeavour – a little bit about Folk in 2017. I guess every artist dreams of playing festivals at some point in their career. There are so many happening around the world but competition is intense. Patch & the Giant have played everywhere from Green Man Festival to Cambridge Folk Festival. They have played some great Folk festivals and performed around the country. It is their talent that has got them there and continues to provide opportunities. I know there are a lot of British festivals but one wonders whether there are enough chances for new artist to take to larger stages. I know there are hundreds (thousands) of acts around so it is impossible to get everyone onto the festival circuit. I find a lot of the biggest festivals – Glastonbury especially – are promoting the same tired acts and not as diverse as they should be. Maybe festivals have become too defined and narrow. Relative newcomers like the ‘6 Music Festival has a broad line-up bur concentrating on acts who are in the mainstream right now. What of those promising artists that need that extra boost to get to the big leagues? Maybe money and space is limiting the type of events you can set up. I feel bands like Patch & the Giant deserve wider exposure and the chance to play other festivals. Standon Calling and Larner Tree Festival have very much suited their music, and as such, brought a certain crowd to their doors. It is good those who know and love Folk have bespoke festivals to hear certain artists. I wonder whether the non-specific festivals are opening their channels enough: ensuring musicians of all genres are on the same bill and get bigger audience figures. It is encouraging Patch & the Giant have got that experience under their belt and supported artists like The Twilight Sad and Roo Panes. That will only increase and continue but it is interesting bringing up the festival debate. We have the toilet circuit/smaller venues for new bands/artists to plays but few festivals reserved for brand-new artists: a platform for the under-the-radar acts to play together and impress. Maybe this is another debate reserved for another say – to ensure it is fleshed-out and given proper light – but one that interests me. I only mentioned it because bands like Patch & the Giant should be given more chances/different festival bookings and not just be limited to Folk-based events. If we overly-define artists and put them into boxes; it means their music is going to struggle to break borders and cross boundaries.

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What is fascinating, when it comes to the band, is how they have achieved that national radio holy grail: got their music spun on BBC Radio 2 and (BBC Radio) 6 Music. Maybe getting onto ‘Radio 1 would be an un-accomplishable feat but it is impressive Patch & the Giant have achieved what they have. BBC Radio 2 has that very particular audience. They tend to be more ‘mature’ let’s say: those who prefer Emile Sandé and older hits; not quite as cutting-edge and bold as some people. That it fine because one needs a station for a particular demographic – in this case, more middle-aged and old listeners. That said, BBC Radio 2 is hugely influential and certainly knows genres like Folk. From Bob Harris and Stuart Maconie: the station has dedicated, passionate supporters who tirelessly hunt for those next-big-things. On the other side of things – only a few floors down from BBC Radio 2 in London – you have BBC Radio 6 Music which is, as many will be aware, my favourite station – I am hardly quiet and ambiguous about that. Whilst I have a lot of respect for BBC Radio 2; BBC Radio 6 Music is ‘where it’s at’. It is a trendy, authoritative and wide-ranging station that filters out the Pop crap and same old bands. It has become a bit of a curse for national radio: you always hear the same music and never get to taste the full spectrum and flavours music provides. ‘6 Music is different: one moment you will be listening to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard; the next, there might be some Pretzel Logic-era Steely Dan or lesser-heard Manic Street Preachers.

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There is that mixture of familiar and rare that means no filler is ever heard – just quality music for the dedicated and true music lover. Getting your sounds played on the station is not easy, as you can imagine. If you get to the point where your music gets to their ears then you are definitely on the right course. I get to review a lot of artists that are starting to pop-up on ‘6 Music and they always put it right near the top of their C.V. Patch & the Giant have that rare distinction of airplay on both BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music. The fact both stations have very different audiences and playlists lets you know just how varied the band’s music is. It appeals to all ages and tastes. I hear many people who ignore radio and feel it is a prehistoric form of promotion and music-finding. Those who stick to social media and music-sharing sites are going to miss out on so much great music. I know Patch & the Giant have local radio support but getting to the best stations in the U.K. is even more important. I’ll leave the point there but wanted to, as much as anything, applaud the band for getting their music on both stations. Maybe a play on BBC Radio 1 is not so far-fetched and inexplicable. It is not just Folk the group plays: they have suggestions of Blues, Soul and Pop at times; some harder-spirited Rock blends and Singer-Songwriter passion. This variegated boiling pot makes them one of the most captivating and nimble bands around.

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I’ll get down to the music soon – lest I go on forever! – but, for now, I wanted to take a quick glimpse at instruments and broadening the palette. A lot of modern musicians naturally create a wide array of sounds in their music. It is something not everyone is following. In the case of Patch & the Giant; the band do not stick to acoustic guitars and Folk strands. Sure, they are in that genre and have a very loyal and familiar core but are unwilling to be as rigid and limited as all that. It is another one of my favourite themes/arguments to explore: why some artists are stubborn when looking at compositions. I can understand the appeal of keeping it simple and not overloading compositions but there are limits. Even artists like Bob Dylan – whose early music consisted predominantly of acoustic guitar and harmonica – expanded his sound and brought in new elements after a while. I am not suggesting music will be more interesting or better if there were more instruments but it gives you options. Even those who are purely Folk/Americana are not expected to doggedly remain in limited confines. Not only did Patch & the Giant lock themselves in a studio – ensuring an album was made and it had a live feel to it – but introduced horns, strings and other parts to really give the music emotion and physicality. The Beggar’s Song is a perfect example of that: it is a rugged and bearded hustler who goes from swaggering beer-downer to a more settled and considered human. Elsewhere, as I will examine, there are more graceful passages and romantic elegy; spring-time breeziness and more complex, chocolate-hue interjections. The band make their music as rounded and agile as possible: always keen to push how they are and bring as much from the music as they can. It is no coincidence the band have struck a chord with national radio and the festival crowds. Again, it is a subject I will touch on briefly but deserves a bit more exposure. All of these points (above) and considerations define and explain a band who are one of British Folk’s most exciting and assured examples. It is best I look at their past music – and present song – to give you an insight into who they are and what they do.

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In terms of comparing the band’s work with current material: one must go back a few years and get a real idea of how they began. The Boatswain’s Refuge was released a few years back and starts with plenty of intent and mystery. Daniel has aching, stirring strings that send shivers down the spine. It is a sound that evokes memories of a long-lost love or someone across the seas. Soon, that is replaced with jubilant horns and finger-picking; some accordion and percussion. There is, almost, a Hispanic flavour to the song; something quite warm and pleasant. When you drill down to the lyrics, it seems things are not as they appear. You try to interpret what is being sung but are so hooked by the music and everything going on. In a sense, the song has traditional shanty qualities – which is something Patch & the Giant try on their new album. The guys extend this further throughout The Heretic and the Albatross. It starts with the same kind of spirit and energy as Daniel. In fact, the entire E.P. has a distinct flair and kick to it. This track is a singalong that has kicking percussions and wordless vocal chorusing. There is rowdiness to the song that puts you in the depths of a pub bar. The song’s lyrics look at the dead of night and the ship sailing past. Never really casting themselves in the modern world; there is something quite old-fashioned and charming about the band. They have an old-world view of things and that desire to get out to sea and explore. The main difference I find, between their older work/E.P. and now, is a diversification in their work. They do stick with the same sort of themes and ideas but the production is a little rawer: it lends a greater physicality and drama to their work; a live-sounding feel that makes it easier to bond with the work. In addition, the group have a broader palette and take their thoughts away from the harbour and seafaring exploits. Their love songs and separation dramas have the scent of salt-water but it is never as overt and obvious as on their earliest work. What we have in their modern material is a band staying true to their roots but experimenting and expanding more to adapt to the modern market. I have heard a lot of bands that have that niche Folk sound and always struggle, long-term, for gigs and recognition. As the world becomes more modern; there is going to be less room for music that is, to many, quite outdated. There is never the sense of that with Patch & the Giant who always remain essential, in-the-moment and relevant. If there is a scent of Mumford and Sons in The Beggar’s Song; it is their more credible edge for sure – not a fan of that band by any long stretch of the imagination!

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The opening moments of The Beggar’s Song will be familiar with anyone who has followed Patch & the Giant since the earliest recordings. That introduction has the same mixture of yearn, romance and the ocean. It is as full and detailed as any of their compositions and gets you imagining right away. Given the title, one might already have some preconceptions about the narrative arc. Suggestions of refined friends sitting in gardens is a contradiction to a figure who has blood on their shoes – that of the hero – and mud around them. You get the picture of a scruffy and desolate human who has been in the wars. Why our man’s blood is on them is a mystery at this point. Maybe there has been a confrontation but it is not clear right away. The vocal is delivered with a calm and matter-of-fact impression that does not force the lyrics down your throat – it means you can follow the story and become involved in the song. The band matches that vocal with a composition that is edgy and dark but has plenty of room to breathe and relax. It is a perfect accompaniment for a story that is vivid and eye-catching right out the gates. By the chorus, our hero is hailing the man and his dreams. The streets are dying but it seems like rebellion and defiance are the order. When hearing the words, your mind is split between the past and present. The sound and composition suggest a nineteenth-century street where you have to look up to avoid being hit by excrement and pretty much anything. Given the way the modern world is unfolding; one can apply the words to the world we see right now. Those who have dreams and want better things are to be applauded but there is a reality to things: there is no love on the streets and things are getting worse. Perhaps that is a reach in terms of interpretation but that is what the song does. I am not usually a fan of Mumford and Sons’-style Folk but have affection for Patch & the Giant who are much more credible and appealing than that. With The Beggar’s Song, you are invested from the first seconds and never really stop becoming fascinated by what is coming next.

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Man is a dog” and “Man needs a lawyer” are not the most positive and life-affirming sentiments you’ll hear in music but fit into the dichotomy of the song. Again, you are down on the street and seeing a beggar being kicked around and going through the motions. I am always split between the present and past in every line. If some of the words lack decipherability – a bit slurred under the weight of the composition – there is plenty of energy and intrigue to keep the listener hooked. Whilst there are suggestions of Mumford and Sons; the band never sound as faux-Irish and faked as that. Our guys have a definite Celtic connection but never suggest that with anything as cloying as fiddles, heavy accentuations and all that. The Beggar’s Song, as I will explore later, definitely relates to British Folk history and tradition. Those who love that style of music will be able to bond with the song but those who prefer Folk more in the mantle of Bon Iver and Laura Marling, say, will not be disappointed. Patch & the Giant have a modern dynamic and production sound and always ensure their songs are as nuanced and full as possible. The lyrics should never be taken on face-value and easily predicted. As I said, there is that idea that you’re the beggar in the slums and getting kicked – playing the role of dog and getting into scrapes. On the other hand, there are those dreams and goals of reaching better things. In every way, you can interpret the sentiments of the song in a present context. Whilst some of the words are very detailed and specific; most are open and broad enough so they can be applied to any number of different scenarios and possibilities. It is brave hearing a band who play a particular style of Folk at a time when it is less commercial and profitable than other forms. The guys always have one foot in modern climbs so those who usually do not bond with Traditional Folk, as it were, will find much to love.

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As the song continues, the man on the street (“with no name”; the man or the street?!) is wished health and safety. The hero raises his glass and hopes the man is provided grace and security – imploring to God he will gain safety and find a way from the trenches. It is an impressive sentiment that few could argue against. Throughout The Beggar’s Song, there is a catchiness and constant movement that gets the feet tapping and the voice ready. I can imagine this goes down well live and would be intriguing to see just how the song is executed on stage. Regardless, the final moments keep that flame lit and never relent. The mood and energy do not relent so it is a song you bond with and connect with – even if you are not a huge fan of that style of music. As it is, it is hard to think of anyone who would not love the song and take it to heart. It is a heartfelt song that continues to create smiles and fond memories long after it has finished. The entire band is tight and impassioned throughout the song. If the guys were lacking energy and not completely committed then it would not succeed and lack that soul and genuine spirit one desires. The Beggar’s Song begins the album, All That We Had, We Stole, and provides enormous fun and kick. In a month where the weather is anything but clement and bright: a track like this is just what you need. It may not have the same sophistication and affect as some styles of Folk but there is always room and affection for the sounds Patch & the Giant are producing. Their album crosses various sub-genres and never repeats itself. There are few acts out there like them: the fact they are being lauded by BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 Music shows just how popular and demanded their music is.

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I’ll revise and revert to my earlier points in a minute but wanted to recommend Patch & the Giant and why they are going to be big news this year. There are so many new acts springing up by the minute: it might seem axiomatic but how does one sift through it all and make sense? This is a worry and something I’m going to address in a feature very soon. By the week, a wave of new musicians come through and add to an already-overcrowded music scene. It is encouraging seeing passion and diversity but compression and population density is starting to distill clarity and discipline. How does the listener/consumer hear of all these acts let alone deciphering which are worthy and those not? It is a conundrum that is going to be hard to figure out – the rate of new music is progressing without abatement and temporisation. I feel we’ll hit a time when it will all get a bit too much and a lot of artists will fall. The sheer anonymity and jam-packed suffocation will put many of. It is a worry but I guess there is no easy answers to this. Not to deter Patch & the Giant; they are going to keep growing and not suffer that lonely fate. One of the reasons why this is true is down to their latest album, All That We Had, We Stole. The multi-talented band – Luke Owen on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and mandolin; Angie Rance providing backing vocals, accordion and trumpet; flugelhorn, piano and harmonica (with mandolin in there too!); Gabriel Merryfield on violin; Derek Yau on cello and double bass; Nick Harris doing backing vocals, bass guitar and percussion; acoustic guitar, harmonica and harp – have created an album brimming and flowing with highlights and head-rush. Aside from The Beggar’s Song, you have seaside shanty songs like A Local Man and The Sleeping Boat.

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These tracks are more in-tune to a traditional, English Folk sensibility. Americans have Americana: what do we call our native Folk sounds? I guess it is indicative of Folk’s genealogy and complex family tree you can never call something ‘Folk’. There are so many sub-strands and sub-genres; this is evident throughout the album. Mournful melody lingers through The Day You Went to Sea – another seafaring, oceanic tale – whilst Another Day is a spirited and upbeat take on a break-up song. Its buoyant trumpets lift a potentially emotionally-draining song above the water and stick in the mind. America looks at how we measure success whilst quieter tracks Love and War and Are You Listening? are simple but thoughtful – the former concerns letting something go you once held dear. Flowers, a natural standout and stunning moment, has already topped Apple Music’s Hot Tracks Playlist – the video hit five-figure views overnight and elevated the band to new heights. Not only that but closing track All That We Had We Stole, concerning balancing art and life, is joined by the bare and pained hidden track, The Walk and the Weight. As I said earlier; I am not sure whether the band are down in London or another part of the U.K. Wherever they are based right now; they are creating sensational music and showing they have staying power and huge innovation. All That We Had, We Stole is a raven picking confection and items from the English countryside. There is a swoop along the romantic coast and embers of ships’ hull and lovers’ letters; the nest is warmed by floral garnish bathed in sunlight, solitude and aromatic scents. Heading further inland, you have a scent and sight of the city: the raven plucks brickwork and litter from urban conurbation and splices that with scraps of paper and notes – on which, deep-considered questions are scribbled in bold type. Taking this all back to the nest; the pattern and tapestry is odoriferous, rainbow-liked and country-straddling.

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However you see the album – in terms of a bird’s flight itinerary or something more grounded – you cannot deny the variation and quality that runs from beginning to end. It is a Folk album that switches from lush, orchestral grandeur – lust and tenderness mingling – to Americana-esque moments and shanty-like tales; over to sparse and bare songs that emphasise lyrics and meaning (more than music and feel). There is something for everyone in a deep and prophetic record: one that suggests the band are built for bigger things. The band launched the album at London’s The Brewhouse on 10th February. They followed this with dates in Birmingham (The Victoria), Manchester (The Castle) and York (The Basement); Shrewsbury, Cambridge and Ipswich followed – they reached Surbiton on 19th of this month. That exhausting mini-tour – essentially heading further north before coming back down south again – has provided a great experience and got the songs out there. The reaction has been positive and effusive: great preparation for festivals and gigs this summer. Before I end this, I’ll come back to the following points: Folk and its range; studio discipline and instrumental endeavour; a little bit on Folk artists to watch this year – all tying it into The Beggar’s Song. Patch & the Giant are one of those bands who seem happy to project an oldskool/historical view of Folk. Just using the word ‘Beggar’s’ in a track seems to have its mind in previous decades – one imagines a street urchin foraging for spare change in Victorian gutters. Circling back to a more focused path, one can hear so many different nuances and ideas in The Beggar’s Song. It is a mule-kick track that shows how indefinable Folk is. Sure, the band do fall into assumed ideals of Folk – that seaside/countryside quirkiness and distinct Englishness that has been present since the 1960s (or before). What they show is how malleable Folk is; much in the same way Pop can be spliced with other genres and still retain its identity.

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In 2017, one expects music to be modern and forward-thinking: keeping things too simplistic and rigid is a suicide quest. Folk is not as stuffy, ‘dull’ and one-dimensional as many think. It is a genre that still has to sit at the back of HMV and never really gets the shop-space it deserves – many assume they have it all figured out and there are no surprises. On the contrary, you see. Last year – I’ll look at this rather than tipping more Folk acts – the best Folk albums of the year were troubling the top spots of those end-of-year lists. Devendra Banhart’s strange and beautiful Ape in Pink Marble bordered bonkers and balanced with so much grace, songwriting excellence and profundity. Many reviewers compared the listening experience to strolling down a seaside path and taking a stray dog with you – maybe singing to yourself; wrapped up in the weather. Aside from Billie Marten; other female singer-songwriters like Lisa Hannigan and Angel Olsen produced stunning works. We all heard about Bon Iver and his masterpiece, 22, A Million. That one album showed just how much music, emotion and wonder you can put in one record. You only need to take a slight peek behind Folk’s curtain to see the array of artists and albums available to hungry ears. The same way you cannot write-off Hip-Hop or Electronic music as being inaccessible and formulaic; the same can be said of Folk. I said earlier how there is a bit of a dichotomy with Patch & the Giant. Their name has a Rohl Dahl-esque quality to it: you imagine a dog, perhaps, and a gentle giant traipsing the English countryside in search of adventure and spoils. In a sense, the first thing you learn about the band suggests something comfortable and safe. You see them in photographs and they have a very cool, contemporary style. Their sharp dress and lack of facial hair – we all have that impression Folk artists are bearded to buggery – subverts expectations. Patch & the Giant are no different to any contemporary band and demand to be taken seriously. The fact they have been provided patronage and support by BBC Radio 2 and ‘6 Music means they are no minor-league group reserved for niches and cloistered groups. They belong to the masses and are going to be a mainstream act in years to come.

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That word, ‘mainstream’, suggest something mass-produced and label-dictated: in the case of Patch & the Giant, they can ascend to the giddy heights of chart success without compromising their artistry and unique fashion. The Beggar’s Song seems ready-made for international audiences and those who like their music exciting, unpredictable and instant. The song gets to you and grabs you by the lapels: takes you into its murky world and buys you a strange-looking drink from the local (dingy) bar. I wanted to focus on the band’s current single because it seems to unify all their talents and components into a single song. There is that old-world, back-alley charm and dirt but that over-simplifies it: the sheer musicianship and thrills one gets listening to the song runs deep and will appeal to so many different listeners. It is no accident the band has managed to create such evocative and professional music. Sequestered in the studio – nobody leaves until we have an album down! – under a producer’s gaze and structured work ethic; the band have worked hard and produced something stunning. It is hard spending a long time in the studio because of the costs and sheer exhaustion by the end – how productive can you be when you are running on fumes? Patch & the Giant have had songs brewing and percolating since 2015 so they were already prepared and practised when they went into the studio. All of this comes out in their latest album and tracks like The Beggar’s Song. This year will be an exciting and full one for a band who have plenty more to say. Their music invites you and provides a pleasure-trip like no other. Naturally, there is darkness and loss among the upbeat and positive: a record that is as contradictory as it is cohesive. Immerse yourself in the incredible world of Patch & the Giant. Once you do, there really is…

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NO going back.

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