INTERVIEW: Babe Punch

INTERVIEW:

 

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Babe Punch

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THERE are few more depressing things one can read in an email…

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than a P.R. company/label saying a band’s interview answers are delayed because they are sitting exams! Being in my thirties; I have not had to stress about an exam – not an academic one, anyway – for a fair few years. Babe Punch found time to talk about their new single, Control, and what the music scene is like around Nottingham/Derby – where they are based. Four of the quintet are women, so I ask whether all-girl/girl-heavy bands are becoming more common and the reason behind this. Previous singles like Snake Tongue have been highlighted by NME: it seems the band is on an upward trajectory at the moment.

They talk about how the band got together and balancing music and regular life – and whether it is tough doing that whilst in their teens. I wonder whether heavy competition is daunting to them and how they feel about the upcoming months. The guys select the album they love the most and recommend some cool artists for us to check out.

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

Hey! Great, thanks.

We’re very excited because we’ve got loads of exciting releases and gigs coming soon.

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

We’re a Grunge-Punk alternative five-piece from  Nottingham/Derby with Vocals by Molly Godber, Carys Jones and Katherine Pennington on Guitar; Abbie Roberts on Bass and Adam Fletcher on Drums.

Control is your new single (out on 7th July). What can you tell us about the song and its origins?

We wrote Control about a year ago in a very sweaty practice room in about ten minutes.

Carys brought the chord sequence and we all just kind of went from there – and when we’d finished it, knew we had to record it.

It might be looking far ahead but is there an E.P. arriving later this year?

We’re not looking at doing an E.P. this year but we brought one out last October and we want to keep releasing stuff.

We do have another single coming out VERY soon.

Do you think your sound has changed since releasing the Control E.P. (last year) and songs like Snake Tongue?

Definitely.

We’ve had a few member changes – which developed our sound – and we were a lot younger when we wrote Snake Tongue – so we feel like it’s matured since then and even since the E.P.

We feel like we’ve got a lot more experience now and Molly feels a lot prouder about the lyrics she’s written recently.

You are all still in your late-teens. When was the moment Babe Punch came together?

Molly, Carys and Abbie knew each other in school.

When Abbie got a gig opportunity, she asked Molly if she wanted to form a band – so Molly asked Carys to play guitar.

Molly had become friends with Adam so he joined after our old drummer left a bit later on. We knew Miles – who plays guitar in the Control single recording – as one of our friends. Molly met Katherine at college – who was happy to join for the summer.

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There is a definite confidence in your music but is there any trepidation and nerves considering the competition out there?

We’re not nervous at all: it’s great that there are a lot of good bands out there at the minute and we don’t view it as a competition. It’s just really exciting.

We’re just writing music that we love to play rather than comparing ourselves to other bands. We’ve got belief in the band so it’s never really been a consideration. We’re just happy to be coming up alongside great bands!

Most of your band (aside from Adam) is female. It seems female-heavy Punk/Rock bands are becoming more popular/visible than ever before. What, would you say, is the reason behind this movement?

We guess it’s because everyone’s so supportive of each other and more and more women (and girls) are being inspired by other female musicians to form a band – so it’s like a spiral.

We think they’re becoming a lot more visible in emerging bands – like bands that we’ve played with – but still not hugely in mainstream music at the moment, though.

So, hopefully, this scene can help to change that.

They seem to be replacing the traditional girl band. Do you think, owing to sexism in the industry, girl bands have had to get more aggressive and direct with their music?

We think that’s true for a part of it, yeah. Some of the reason for the aggressive style is just being within that genre. But we do feel that a lot of people don’t take us seriously until we start playing – and maybe, sometimes, it’s needed in order to get past that problem and get noticed.

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The band is based around Nottingham/Birmingham. What is the music scene like where you are?

We’re based around Nottingham and Derby but we can be from anywhere you want us to be!

We love the Nottingham music scene so much. There are so many amazing artists such as Cameron Sinclair Harris and The Shrives and venues like JT Soar – and everyone’s so supportive.

Can we expect to see you play live anytime soon? Where about might you be heading?

Our next gigs are in Nottingham supporting Ezra Furman at Rescue Rooms on 6th July; then, on 7th July, we’re playing a launch party for Control at JT Soar with The Shrives, The Varletts and Cameron Sinclair Harris. Then, on 8th July, we’re playing The Waterfront Festival.

For gigs after that, and in other cities, watch our social media!

Are there certain bands/artists that have inspired the BABE PUNCH sound would you say?

We have a lot of different individual influences but some of the main ones for all of us are Hole, Courtney Love; Savages and The Breeders.

Can you give us the names of any new artists you recommend we check out?

There are loads in the Nottingham scene (like the ones we’ve said) as well as The Varletts, Cherry Hex and the Dream Church; Unqualified Nurse Band, LIINES and Erica Hardy Fry.

We also love Vultures and Nachthexen (from Sheffield).

If you each had to select the album that has meant the most to you; which would they be and why?

Molly: Very hard to say but I think Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac.

They were one of the first bands I found by myself and Stevie’s (Nick) lyrics and the album’s dreamy feel was unlike anything I’d heard before. The combination inspired my songwriting a lot.

Abbie: Live Through This by Hole.

Because it made me want to form a band.

Carys: Probably Revolver by The Beatles.

They’re the band that has inspired me the most and, for me, Revolver has some of their most influential songs. George Harrison’s passion and spirituality sets him apart from other guitarists.

Katherine: I’d say Blackbird by Alter Bridge.

The way they play their instruments is really expressive and the lyrics are meaningful – and based on their own life experiences – so, I guess, that inspired me to in that way make music that makes people feel something.

Adam: Led Zeppelin III

Because, the first time I listened to it, I was struck with the drumming and the unfiltered power that John Bonham created on it – combined with the classic Led Zeppelin riffs.

What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?

Gig a lot and focus on your live sound before jumping into the studio too quickly.

Don’t be discouraged by people who look down at you or don’t take you seriously and don’t listen to anyone who says you’re sh*t!

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

Molly: Iggy PopCandy

Carys: The Velvet UndergroundSweet Jane

Katherine: NirvanaHeart Shaped Box

Abbie: New OrderBizarre Love Triangle

Adam: Will SmithGettin’ Jiggy wit It

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Follow Babe Punch

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Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/BABEPUNCH/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/babepunch

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/babe_punch/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/babe-punch-1

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTI9Es0SQWIWtr-wniwGlTQ

FEATURE: So Long, WordPress: Music Musings & Such Is Moving…

FEATURE:

 

So Long, WordPress:

 

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Music Musings & Such Is Moving…

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THIS is going to be the final time I’ll publish to WordPress…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash

unless there is a problem with my new website. In fact, trying to put a new post up has failed so, until that is remedied, I am here. The ambition is to move everything over next week and get it all sorted. I will be moving to https://www.musicmusingsandsuch.com/ and putting all my features, interviews and reviews over there. I hope to have the first piece up later today but it might take a bit to get it just-so. It has been good publishing on WordPress: a quick and easy way of getting posts up with plenty of options available. It has been great publishing there but time for something a bit more professional and stylish. The new website offers menus a better layout; it is going to be better in the long-run. Once I get my head around things and acclimatise. The old website will still be there – in case I need to go back there here and now – but most new posts will take place on the new site. In terms of notifications, anyone who is a subscriber to Music Musings & Such might need to keep updated on the Facebook page for any news. I will try to set up a notifications/subscription option for the official website so one gets emails when a new post is up. Keep an eye out and what goes on over the next few weeks. It is going to be a (bit) sad departing WordPress but it is time to take the blog to…

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THE next step.

TRACK REVIEW: Kat Kenna – Mermaid Song

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Kat Kenna

 

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Mermaid Song

 

 

9.4/10

 

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Mermaid Song (Teaser) is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/kat-kenna/mermaid-song-teaser

GENRES:

Indie-Pop

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

22nd June, 2017

The full-length version will be available on iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music from 1st July, 2017

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THINGS I want to discuss in this review include….

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getting your music played in unique and impressive places; cinematic songs and haunting melodies; Kate Bush as an influence; Russia and artists who emanate from here – a little bit about quirkier songs and sourcing inspiration from unexpected sources. Before I come to look at Kat Kenna and her upcoming single, I wanted to return to a theme I have addressed a couple of times: projecting a sense of theatre and cinema. Music is, for many people, a source of escape but it is a way into another world. If an artist does things ‘right’ – creates original songs and does something genuinely different – it can be a wonderful experience. I find myself bonding with artists who are a little bit special and have that additional something. In terms of Kenna’a sound; she produces songs that have emotion and passion but grander strands working away. I listen to a song like Mermaid Song and, whilst it has that inner-charm and relatability – there is a lot of different sounds working away in an atmospheric and powerful number. One of the best things I find in new musicians is when you get to entrench yourself in a song and go somewhere magical. It might seem exaggerated, but I use music as a way to detach from problems and find something safer and comforting. If an artist can pen a song that makes me forget my woes and provides wonderful scenes and stunning images – they are going to lodge in my mind and compel me to investigate further. Music, at the moment, is definitely in the spotlight for a number of reasons. Not only is Glastonbury still raging but there is a lot of negativity and division in the country. I raised it in a feature (yesterday) and wondered where the Urban explosion is. We are seeing people speak out against the government and a lot of strife and stress invade the street. It is a fragile time and, for that reason, music has an important role to play. Not only is there an opportunity to project the sort of anger and questions we are seeing all around us but unite people. Listening to Kat Kenna’s music and one is afforded the chance to step into another world and have their senses lifted.

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There are few artists who depart from the traditional love song and offer the listener anything fascinating and original. What I love about Kenna’s music is the way it gets inside the head and draws the listener into her mind. It is a place where the conventional and extraordinary mingle alongside one another. Whilst I yearn to discover artists who attack the problems we see and provide guidance; there is a part of me that wants to dive into escapist music that can lift my mood and intrigue the imagination. Kat Kenna has traded in conventional love songs but, on the evidence of her latest number, is not like her peers. I know I keep banging on about artists that stick to the ordinary love song but there is no end in sight. Even if you are a prolific mainstream artist, you can pen songs that depart from normal once in a while and still retain your audience. I feel there is too much tepidness and safety with our mainstream artists. It is down to unsigned/underground musicians to give the consumer music that strays into quirky and unusual territory. I will come to other areas soon but, listening to Kenna’s music, think it is important to address that cinematic-haunting dynamic. One bandies a word like ‘cinematic’ around and gets the idea it’s going to be biblical, rousing and epic. In a lot of cases, that word relates to music that has edge, grandeur and vivacity. Kenna ensures her music projects vivid views and characters; paints fantastic possibilities and a sense of the beautiful. Mermaid Song – which gets it full release next week – could be used in an indie film or romantic comedy. With a title like that, one might think it is a song Flight of the Conchords might write but, in actuality, it is a stunning and full-bodied song that could easily fit into the mainstream – albeit, offer credibility and an edge that is lacking there right now. I hope the song does appear on a T.V. show or film because it has that individuality and potential. Kenna, when writing, has managed to provide some shadier, darker edges but married it to a wonderful vocal/composition that means it has enormous appeal and adaptability.

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Although Kat Kenna is starting out at the moment, she has been performing for a long time and had her music used on a soundtrack for a Russian film, Rehearsals. Today, a lot of artists have to gig endlessly to fund their career and struggle to break into profit. Music is a tough industry where one has to expend a lot of passion and energy with very little reward. In order to get into the black, many are pushing themselves to the limits and, in many cases, having to do a full-time job. It is an exhausting industry but one driven by passion and determination. Kenna, who is about to release her first single, has seen her music being used in Russian production – where she used to live – and had that exposure. I am interested discovering how musicians get their work used on film and T.V. scores. It seems like one would need to have a long career – and that exposure in the public eye – before people approached you. Not only has Kenna has her music used in a Russian film but seen (her music) on compilation C.D.s. All very important and impressive steps in a career arc that is seeing her get some impressive bookings in the U.K. I will come to that later but, before that, want to expand on film and T.V. and how rare it is to find – artists that do get their songs used and have the chance to find new audiences. I am not sure how big Russian cinema is – compared to here and the U.S. – but it must be wonderful hearing your music on the big screen. A lot of times, film music is instrumental or sources from mainstream/famous artists. I watch films and you hear popular songs and legendary artists being represented. Other times, there is only a score: rarely does one hear a new artist having their music put on the big screen. Kenna has that modest success and plaudit but it is not to be underrated.

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There are few who can claim their songs have made it onto a cinema screen and seen by a film-going audience. Not only has she got that attention in Russia but had her music used on U.K. compilation C.D.s. Maybe it is that atmospheric quality but I think there is something else: a gracefulness and unique edge that many people do not possess. With Kat Kenna, one hears an artist who has a filmic/cinematic quality to her. Looking at her and one can imagine her appearing in films and dramas. There is a definite beauty but an adaptable talent. She could appear in a Gothic drama or an offbeat road film; a grittier British drama or a mainstream romantic comedy. It might seem like a strange tangent but, when one sees and hears Kenna, one imagines her career taking her into films. Maybe she has acting ambitions and those kinds of credentials but it is a definite possibility. Because of this, there seems to be that knowledge and understanding of the filmmaking industry and the sort of music producers want. I know there are not too many film/soundtrack inclusions on her C.V. but that is going to change. There are not many people who can boast about having their music used in films so it is something Kenna should take pride in. Kenna tells stories and has a fantastic narrative voice. Because of that, it is unsurprising to have that film credit – a reason why I expect to find her music being taken to heart by British filmmakers. I feel Mermaid Song could find itself in a drama or comedy because of its flexibility and nuance. The song, upon first listen, summons scenes and possibilities so I can well imagine a young director/producer seeing that potential. Music and film have always intertwined and had a close relationship and I think it is important to encourage that romance. For new musicians, it is an invaluable source of finance and a chance for their music to reach a whole new set of people. More importantly, it is a sense of validation; knowing their music has that potential and popularity.

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Kat Kenna resides in London but moved here from Russia. In the past couple of months, I have looked at a couple of Russian artists and the music scene there. Like many European nations; Russia adopts the popular sounds of the U.S. and U.K. There are native stars but the best music comes from Britain and America so it is understandable people in countries like Russia listen to music from there. I feel, when we look at certain countries, there are clichés and stereotypes that spring to mind. If one imagines Russia and you might think the music is going to be quite edgy, dark and foreboding. That might play to a certain image we have of Russian music but it would be unfair. Kenna grew up in a unique part of Russia where ancient pagan Mari tribes mix with Slavic culture. It was/is a part where supernatural beliefs and magic are taken rather seriously. People like me might find that worrying and a little credulous but it is an integral part of the culture. There are nations and cultures throughout Africa where spirituality, dark magic and strange idols are worshipped and taken very seriously. It is not surprising discovering these kinds of practices in Russia. One can only envisage the kind of people and sounds Kenna was exposed to and how instrumental that would have been. We here might find Mari people and Slavic cultures foreign but for Kenna, it would have been a normal part of her life. Listening to Mermaid Song and you understand where it is coming from. There is oddness and quirk but not one that proffers false ideals and the supernatural. Instead, there is that exotic and beguiling mix of cultures and practices Kenna grew up around. She is a self-taught musician and appeared in the finals of Pop Idol Russia.

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It is amazing to think a person could appear on a show like Pop Idol and have a young upbringing that involved Mari tribes. The two would not go together, one thinks, but there you have it. Were Kenna to not have had that experience, one argues she would be a less interesting writer and not have the exceptional qualities she does. I think of Russia and know there are some great artists there but, one suspects, not the thriving scene many of its artists would hope. I am seeing a lot of musicians come from Russia to the U.K. Maybe there is a political reason behind this migration – Putin’s regime and the young feeling rather nervous right now – or the fact Russia is not quite as impressive as the U.K. – when it comes to music and chances available. That said, the nation does have a few great venues and has sported some wonderful talent. What fascinates me about Russia is the traditional cultures and sounds that we do not have here. As I said; Kenna has assimilated these into her music and provided it spice, mystique and the enchanting. We have political strife here but do not have many niche cultures that can inspire musicians. Apart from African and Asian influences; there are not many minor religions and tribes that one can discover. I am not sure whether that is a good/bad thing but, from a musical perspective, it would be wonderful to see. I urge curious musicians to travel to countries like Russia and take inspiration away. I can only imagine what it was like being surrounded by Mari tribes and Slavic sounds. Whilst I am not one who has any time for magic and the supernatural; someone like Kat Kenna would have had her eyes and mind opened, for sure. One can hear a sense of magic and supernatural feed into Mermaid Song. Away from less-than-conventional tribes and cultures; Russia has a very active music scene and would have provided Kenna with a lot of impetus and drive.

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She is now in London and, I feel, the perfect place for her. Following her social media feeds and I have seen how affected she was by the terrorist attacks in the capital. She has been shocked – like all of us – by the brutality and horror we have witnessed. Her heart is definitely in London and, let’s hope, her body remains here for many years. I feel artists like Kat Kenna have an important role to play right now. I mentioned how there is a need to articulate a sense of anger and impatience – owing to the way the government has let its people down and ignoring those in need. Against the tide of outrage and anger is that need to project love and togetherness. This is where Kenna comes in. Many of her peers are producing music and soundbites that promote a sense of unity and uplift. She performs at London’s The Finsbury on 3rd July –  and will have other gigs approaching. I feel London has the spirit and people Kenna can take guidance from. Her debut single has an odd love story at heart but I know Kenna is taking a lot of heart and inspiration from the people around her. I expect her forthcoming E.P. will reflect a sense of where she is now and wants to head. Having arrived from Russia a few years ago now, it seems like this is her musical home. I can tell how much music means to her and London (and the U.K.) is the perfect place to foster and further that love. Whether she chooses to appear on talent shows here or not; I feel Kenna will take the self-producing route and do music her own way. She has a lot of potential and music in her and I am fascinated seeing how that progresses and evolves in the coming years.

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Mermaid Song, as I will explain, deals with an unconventional coming-together and has its body and mind by the sea. It is a song one imagines stems from literature and a rather charming tale. It is not your ordinary and predictable love song and, because of this, I wanted to look at the more left-field side of music. I hinted how the mainstream is still overrun with uninspired love songs and less willing to depart from the convention. There are artists who provide music with a bit more edge and originality but, if one wants something extraordinary and different, you have to go to the underground. It is not to say Kenna’s future sounds will all have the same unusual flavour as Mermaid Song but it is wonderful hearing someone who takes a different approach. Over the past couple of weeks, I have reviewed a few artists who look to the water when it comes to their music. It might sound niche, but there is something alluring and addictive about the sea and its potential. Not only in terms of the romance one associates with its views and stillness; there is that mystical, fictional aspect that many writers are co-opting. Kenna’s single brings together a sailor and mermaid in a song that has twists and turns – you think it is going to end violently but has a sweeter ending. It can be hard writing these kinds of songs but they are less personal than you’d imagine. Naturally, Kenna has to detach from her own experiences and project something fictional. It is a lot easier writing songs about your own life but I find it much more impressive when musicians borrow from literature and fantasy. Consider songwriters like Björk and Kate Bush (more on her, soon) and they have amassed legions of fans because they do not do things the same way as everyone else. Sure, they write about traditional love but take their mind and music to special and unusual places.

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Mermaid Song is a track that has grace and passion but that unusual spirit that will linger for a very long time. Perhaps Kenna’s Russian background and unorthodox childhood has led her to the music she makes now but I feel Kenna is one of those spirits that refutes the ordinary and chases the extra-special. I know there are a lot of people who are getting tired of the predictable nature of mainstream music. Inflexible and pedestrian a lot of the time; where does one go if they want to hear music with a lot more life and originality? Kat Kenna is one of many new artists taking a stand and offering the music-lover something more detailed, deep and fascinating. What I love about Kenna’s music is the potential it has. She has more material coming very soon as I am looking forward to seeing what her other songs contain. Whether we have peculiar love songs and oceanic trials, I am not sure but there are going to be few one-dimensional love songs. Many would argue those quirkier, less-traditional artists do not have the substance and commercial appeal you’d hope for. That is true of many artists but not with Kenna. She has a great knowledge and understanding of music and is not going to balk against that. There is enormous commercial/mainstream potential to Kenna’s music but there is extra flavour, colour and sense of the majestic. Because of this sense of individuality, Kenna is getting gig chances and finding more fans come her way. It is always tough taking your first steps in music but it will be a productive and exciting time for Kenna. She has a wonderful city at her feet and establishing herself as a magnificent singer-songwriter. When she does take to the stage at The Finsbury, it will not be long until more gigs come her way. The more people she gets her music out to; the more confident she will become – and that will lead to greater productivity and ambition.

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Before I come to Mermaid Song, I want to look at one of my music idols: the always intoxicating, Kate Bush. She is an artist who always motivates me and, when looking at my record collection, responsible for some of my most-treasured memories. The Kick Inside is my favourite album and one I associate with immense beauty and the sensual. I can see links between Mermaid Song and, say, Wuthering Heights. There is that slight eccentricity and taking inspiration from an unusual place. Bush’s record-breaking number one took from a classic work of literature and stunned listeners with its confidence, peculiarity and sheer confidence. Kenna is a fan of Kate Bush and you can tell in a lot of ways. I find Kate Bush creeping into modern music a lot. It is not only female artists who take guidance from the legendary artist. I am not sure if Kate Bush is going to release any more material at all (let’s hope she does!) but her influence and importance cannot be denied. There are few that have had such an impact on modern artists. I hear a lot of the newcomers and detect various points in Bush’s career. Few can match the vocal dynamism and range – Bush has that unique personality and projection – but there are other elements of Bush’s aesthetic many are taking to heart. In a way, given Kenna’s exposure to Russian cultures and the supernatural; it is unsurprising someone like Kate Bush so have such an effect. She, even on her debut album, talked about spirituality and the unusual. Not quite as extreme as Mari tribe but, on songs like Strange Phenomena and Moving, she looked at synchronicity, sexuality and coincidence; The Kick Inside and Room for the Life looked at birth and motherhood whilst Them Heavy People investigated the teachings of Jesus and learning as much as you can whilst young. The Man with the Child in His Eyes is a child worrying about the fate of her man – maybe lost at sea and consumed with worry. I can imagine an album like The Kick Inside provided much inspiration for a curious Kenna. One can hear some familiarities in Mermaid Song.

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Later Bush albums like Hounds of Love and The Dreaming would have given guidance to Kenna – Hounds of Love’s second-half was about someone lost at sea, hoping for rescue and salvation. Kate Bush is, it might sound obvious, one of the most influential artists of all time and we can see her music transferring to the young generations. Vocally, Kenna has elements of Bush, too. There are those high and breathless notes; the same sense of drama and theatre. It is a beguiling blend that instantly transports the mind somewhere distant and wonderful. I am not sure how this Kate Bush fandom will manifest itself on Kenna’s E.P. but I would not be surprised were there moments that recalled Bush’s finest songs. I am fascinated by artists’ influences and how important it is in regards their own music. Listening to Kat Kenna and the heart and mind embrace in an electrifying tango. The heartbeat is strong and connects with a love song with a difference. The soul is made curious and involves itself in the story. In fact, the mind is pricked and the body forced to move. Mermaid Song activates all the senses and leaves you wanting more. I have mentioned Kate Bush a lot in these pages but next year will be a very important one: forty years since the release of The Kick Inside. It is extraordinary to think the album is that old – I remember hearing it a lot as a child – but it seems as fresh and important as the day it was released. I am not sure if Kenna is a big fan of that album but I can see comparisons between her music and that contained within the 1978 masterpiece. Given the fact so much of today’s music is stagnant and rigid; having Kate Bush’s legacy and brilliance kept alive is brilliant to see. Let’s hope that continues (not just when looking at Kenna) because it means music is a much more interesting and magical place.

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The mermaid remains in the water and offers the air from her lungs – evocative and striking words that open Mermaid Song. That gorgeous, pin-sharp voice rises and choirs with pride and passion in the opening seconds. There is little build-up – except for the sound of the ocean crashing – before we hear Kenna’s voice take control. It is an enchanting and unexpected to hear something as beautiful and immediate. The first words take you down to the ocean-side tranquillity and the solitude of the shore. The mermaid, it seems, is a Siren that has brought the sailor to the rocks. Much like a ship of men been lured to the cliffs; here, the hero seems immersed in the waters and struggling for breath. The fact the heroine/mermaid is offering air and safety suggests something has already happened. The heroine is bringing the ill-fated sailor to the shore. She offers a sense of relief and chance to catch the breath. The composition remains quite light and unobtrusive: it gives Kenna’s voice the chance to project and work. From those high notes from the off; the tone is more grounded and lower. Her style changes from ethereal to conversational – a way of transition from setting the scene to explaining the story. There is a narrative and story arc that one can follow from the start. You are engrossed in a peculiar love story that could have been torn from the pages of classic literature. I swam in the song and saw myself an onlooker, as it were. The ravaged sailor – or in the midst of the crashing waves – is being guided back to land and in the arms of the alluring mermaid. Being a fictitious/fantasy – mermaids not existing, and all – the listener is free to project their own story. If it was a deeply personal love song, it might be harder to bond with and, as such, the appreciation might be limited.

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Different genres and styles come into Mermaid Song. There are electronic buzzes that come into the song; Folk details and a Pop overture. It is a mix of sounds and colours that gives the song so many surprises and twists. The heroine looks into the blue eyes of the hero and wants him to stay with her. Maybe, traditionally, a sailor would kill a mermaid – or vice versa – and there is a sense it will all end in tragedy. Kenna’s voice rises back up and has a sweetness that gets into the heart. Nobody can deny how impressive and impactful her voice is but, the more you listen, the more depth and nuance you discover in it. Drums gallop and pound as Kenna opens her heart and wants the hero to return to dry land. She will always remember him but wants safety and compassion. Were the man to stay in the ocean, his life would be fraught and there would be inherent danger. In a way, she is performing a kindness and ensuring her hero makes his way back home. She will, as it is said, always remember him and carry him in her heart. There is something touching and pure about the mermaid’s words. There is no selfishness and hostility knowing the hero is going to return to land. There might be a sense he wants to remain there and not be separated. Maybe tears are being held back but there is impracticality to the romance. The mermaid will always remember her man but there is no way they can remain. Few can deny the tease and sense of romance when thinking of the ocean – there is that solitude and lack of responsibility. I am not sure what brought the two together: a shipwreck perhaps or the fact they have known one another for a long time now. It is interesting proffering interpretation but, living in the moment, sad to see them split.

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I love the details and layered vocals. The drum acts like a heartbeat and adds urgency to the mix. There are strings and electronic sounds that provide the sound and smell of the sea. The heroine, Kenna, casts herself as the mermaid – watching the man step onto dry land (warning him not to run) and always watching him. I wonder, when hearing the development and conclusion of the song, whether it is an adaptation of a personal experience. Of course, Kenna did not, literally, romance from the ocean but, maybe, there is a painful breakup from her past she has put into Mermaid Song. That feeling of having to say goodbye – although it is not ideal and easy – because one of the parties will be hurt. At its core; there is a very relatable and human experience we can all relate to – even if the lyrics are fantasy-based and story-like. I am stunned by the breadth and strength of the song. For a debut single, it is extremely confident and sounds complete. There are no nerves or weak moments at all. Everything is realised and assured from the very first bars – a fantastic song from a young artist who a lot of years ahead of her. Mermaid Song has an unusual edge but, the more you get into the song, the less ‘out-there’ it seems. By the end, I was hoping more words would be coming. The story sees the hero go back to land whilst the mermaid watches from afar. At all times, I was looking inside metaphors and wondering if the sea/land, mermaid/sailor were embodiments of emotions and places. Maybe Kenna has experienced something heart-breaking and this is the way to deal with it. Perhaps the song is, literally, as it appears – every listener will have their own thoughts.

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I will wrap things up by recommending, next week; you get a hold of Mermaid Song and follow Kat Kenna. She is a promising artist I can see going a very long way. Before I revert to some earlier points, I will look ahead and what is in store for Kenna. I have mentioned her gig at The Finsbury already. That is somewhere she is going to love playing. I have been a couple of times and always it is a wonderful space that brings in a great range of people/musicians. There is an E.P. coming up so it is a busy time for Kat Kenna. She has a lot to think about and will be busy in the coming months. I know there are a lot of venues that would love to feature her music and host her. London is a huge city that is growing larger and more exciting. Musicians are flocking to the city and keen to immerse themselves in the frenetic energy and life of London. It is crowded, yes, but there is so much activity and choice. You can never get bored here and, for the musician, they have the best music scene in the world. Not only does London have some of the best artists in the world but some of the finest venues. I am not sure what Kenna has in mind for the remainder of the year but I am sure promotion is a bit part of that. I will take things down but want to revisit a few different themes: Russia and the differences here; Kate Bush and her influences; songs that have a peculiar and untraditional edge. I will revisit Kate Bush for a few seconds because she is an artist I have limitless passion for. Mermaid Song has shades of Bush’s early work and draws me to my favourite album ever. While no one can replace or match Kate Bush; there are so many young artists who take influence from her and continue her legacy. I say this like Bush has retired – never know if she is planning new work! – but she is not as prolific as she was. Kat Kenna’s voice has definite hints of Bush at her most entrancing and bewitching.

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Naturally, Kenna is compelled by other musicians but I sense a distinct connection to Kate Bush. Take a thing like Mermaid Song – and its strange love story and ocean setting – and it seems like a lost cut from The Dreaming, perhaps. It is pleasing seeing new artists inspired by Bush’s sound and adapting it into their own music. Kenna is individual and original but you can definitely hear little flecks of Bush running through Mermaid Song. Many of us – moving on, now – do not associate contemporary, popular music with Russia. That is not a dig at the country but there are not many nations outside Britain and America that have a strong mainstream culture. Many countries consistent a steady diet of British/American music but there are local artists that make it into the consciousness. Nations like Israel, Australia and Canada are strong; Sweden, Iceland and France, too. For Russia, there are some great artists around but we do not hear about the nation in general. I am intrigued by what Russian music promises and the type of music we might be missing out on. What I love about the country is the fact there are cultures and people who inspire wonderful music and imaginative sounds. I have mentioned how Kenna spent her early years around magic-believing people and tribes. Growing up in such an ‘unusual’ environment must be eye-opening for a promising musician. I can imagine Russia’s mix of clans, types and people compelled a young Kenna and has directed the music she is writing at the moment. Listening to Mermaid Song and there is that strangeness and odd beauty that can trace its roots back to Russia. There is an element of Kate Bush but a distinct nod to Russia. I am interested learning more about Russian music and what is available there. I have discovered a few great Classical artists there; some brilliant Folk artists and Pop singers. How deep this diversity goes I am not sure but it is clear there is a lot more to Russia than meets the eye.

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Kat Kenna bagged radio and presenting jobs when she moved to Moscow and has been in London since 2009. In the eight years she has been here; Kenna has been plotting and recording music – taking the first steps in her career.  I mentioned how Kenna has had her music played on soundtracks and on the big screen – she has gained notoriety and exposure in Russia. Mermaid Song is the first taste of Kenna’s upcoming E.P. I have provided a teaser of the song – it does not get its official release until next week – but take my word for it when I say it is a fantastic song that announces an original talent. I would love to see her perform a lot more around the country and take her music to new people. There are so many people who would love to see her up-close and, I for one, think she has enormous potential. Mermaid Song is a wonderful insight into a young woman who strays away from the mainstream. Let’s hope there is a lot more coming from Kat Kenna as she has a voice and songwriting style that is rare to find. It only takes a few hits of her debut single to realise the confidence and talent she has inside her. I have been listening to it a few times and discover something new every time I dive in. Make sure you acquaint yourself with a fantastic songwriter and a track that takes you somewhere magnificent. Mermaid Song is beautiful, brilliant and memorable. I must leave things now and return to the song because, God help me, it is…

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SUCH an addictive thing.

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Follow Kat Kenna

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Twitter:

https://twitter.com/katkennamusic

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/katkennamusic/?ref=br_rs

Instagram:

http://www.thepicta.com/user/katkennamusic/4146177113

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/kat-kenna

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC06VMtTJq06uMhnvd9v2Jeg

FEATURE: The New Music Revolution: Where’s the Urban Explosion?!

FEATURE:

 

The New Music Revolution:

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash

 

Where’s the Urban Explosion?!

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EVERY hour we are seeing the fragmentation and ridicule of the current…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash

government without abatement and discipline. It appears things can go one of two ways: Mrs. May’s government hang on and curate some sort of organisation and focus – against all odds and predictions. The other is we go through yet ANOTHER General Election and, as the polls are suggesting, elect Labour into power. The percentages have shifted into the red column and there is a feeling Jeremy Corbyn will rise to power before long. I hope the second option occurs but it seems not (right now). I think there is a lot of confusion and nobody is really sure what will happen. What we do know is there’s a lack of trust and respect for Mrs. May and it seems that is unlikely to change any time soon. Many are calling for her resignation whilst others are waiting to see what her next move is. People my age (young/young-ish) are lending grievance and scepticism the way of the Conservative government. The tabloid filth-diggers – synonymous for their low morals and loose ethics – were on Corbyn’s back and villainising him throughout the campaign. Their propaganda and vitriol didn’t really go according to plan! Now, the tables are turning and (tabloids) are starting to pour scorn on Mrs. May. It is unbelievable how fickle they are and how they really don’t believe what they write or say. One shouldn’t be shocked the tabloid are full of crap because that is how they operate every single day.

Whilst the press and government are divided; people are confused and unsure what is going on – there is stability and promise in music that is refreshing.

Well, in a way there are nerves surrounding the state of live venues and whether sufficient capital will be injected into the industry. Corbyn promised to support music and preserve the richness and tapestry we all depend on – and I believe him. He is not in a position to fulfil that now so, yeah, there are some doubts.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Grenfell Tower, London

The reason for writing this stemmed from a revisit of artists like Public Enemy. Kendrick Lamar is on my mind and, between these artists, you have fiery and intense voices that take the government to task and truly represent what their country is going though. Maybe it is a British thing but there is a definite need for anger and articulation to override the tutting and compartmentalised balking. Maybe there is not the same racial and social injustice that fired the likes of Public Enemy up in the 1980s and 1990s but there is something happening in our nation that needs to be addressed. I am putting a lot of pressure on our Urban artists to take charge but, historically, I find Hip-Hop and Rap are genres that carry more authority and innovation than, say, Folk and Rock. I may be wrong but the power and potency they bring to music remain with me far longer than it would, say a Folk artist campaign. I love Dylan’s protest songs but find myself gravitating to artists like Public Enemy for true sermon and leadership.

We have performers like Kate Tempest capable of penning socially-aware songs and (penning) brilliant observations – but where are the angry and bold young men and women at a time like this?!

I think it is a bit sad someone like Dizzee Rascal didn’t come along now – rather than in 2003. If Boy in da Corner were released today, one feels it would look at social isolation and deprivation; gang violence and manor feuds but address terrorism, austerity and the generational split – not to mention disintermediating from Europe and political cries. Imagine what he could achieve and what a Dizzee Rascal would sound like in 2017?! That is not beyond the questions – because he is still recording – but doesn’t have the youth and creative flair of fourteen years ago. I look around the Grime scene and, whilst I hear fantastic artists who speak honestly and passionately about their reality, there is nothing that blows my socks off.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash

As we speak, Jeremy Corbyn is serving pints to punters down at Glastonbury and delivered a lionhearted speech on the Pyramid Stage.

Ironically, his oration will be the most high-profile and applauded on that stage. Over the past couple of days – tonight and tomorrow – some awesome artists will be amazing Glastonbury artists but few will be providing socially aware and explosive mandates. That is probably good because most people want to hear accessible and uplifting music: artists that get them all dancing and smiling. That is what the festival is about but, when we move forward, one wonders where those angry young voices will emanate from. We hear enlivened and passionate Londoners in the news – especially after Grenfell and similar high-rises being evacuated – but few in music that articulate that same sense of outrage and disgust. Maybe tastes are changing but I feel the Urban/Hip-Hop/Grime scene is divided. There are those legends like Wiley and Dizzee who have passed their best moments are not as young/essential as they once were. There are some agile and accomplished poets in the underground who are not getting the attention they deserve – or have a loyal fanbase unable to push the music to the mainstream. There are others who have the potential to succeed but will arrive a while from now. I know there are some fantastic musicians from the streets who are saying it how it is. Jeremy Corbyn – despite the fact he is middle-aged and white – seems to be one of the coolest and most switched-on politicians we have had for many years. If/when he gets into power, I think the disaffected youth will have a champion they can rely on. At the moment, and has been the way of things for too long, we are being nannied by over-educated androids whose spectrum of emotion and empathy is not exactly breaking. Take our current P.M. and do you think she is aware of what a working-class person is?! The streets, manors and lives of the hard-working salt are not being looked after.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy Corbyn

She would rather concentrate on policy and pieces of paper: detached from the reality of the country and devoid of any humanity. Corbyn seems like an attractive alternative that, if we go back to the polls, will sweep into Downing Street. Until that happens, there is a role for music to play. Although Corbyn has, technically, ‘headlined’ the Pyramid Stage; I wonder how long it will be until one of this country’s young Urban artists ascends that to that level? Maybe the motifs and mantras of these artists are too serious, real and affecting to gain populous appeal – a little heavy-handed and politicised for a crowd that wants to have a good laugh.

Look at the wider world and there is a definite desire to have the young musicians of this country speak out and get involved.

Of course, this need not be focused entirely around those in the ‘Urban’ genres: there is the opportunity for every type of artist to say something meaningful. As I stated; the nation is at its most volatile and malleable at the moment – it is uncertain how the government will fare and how much stability we have. This consequence is not down to bad luck or any sort of worldwide malaise: this is a problem we have created and are having to deal with – for no other reason than the fact our government has no understanding of the people (or the real world). Music has, historically, always been able to react at how society changes and speak for the people. Whilst I love all the great bands and artists creating sensational music this year – I need someone (or many) to pen an album that rips off the mask of government and points the finger squarely where it belongs. Aside from terrorism, displacement and voting divisions: there are more fun and upbeat areas that could mingle – on the theoretical – album. I know we have some of the best young artists in the world and it seems like the time – regardless of genre and privilege – to step up to the microphone and create something epoch-defining. Whether it is in-the-works or being formulated right now; I, for one, cannot wait to see…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash

WHAT can be achieved.

INTERVIEW: Dog on a Swing

INTERVIEW:

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Scott, Literary Paparazzo

 

Dog on a Swing

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ED Ritchie is the man behind the dog; on top of the swing…

inside the music – or something less convoluted. He is, in essence, an Edinburgh-based musician whose wonderful songs are often ably assisted by some impressive contributors – which he discusses in the interview. I ask him about his forthcoming album, Autonomy, and what is explored within.

He talks about mental health and tackling its ‘stigma’ through music. At a time where we are embracing music more than ever; I wonder what the scene is like in Edinburgh and any new artists he would recommend.

Ritchie talks about forthcoming tour plans; some of the moments and memories from Autonomy and the artists he grew up listening to – and the secret behind that moniker (‘Dog on a Swing’).

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

Great, thanks.

I’m just back from Portugal for a wee holiday with my girlfriend and now spending a solid month getting ready for the album launch!

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

I play music under the name of Dog on a Swing.

It’s kind of a cross between a solo project and a collective band.

‘Dog on a Swing’ is your moniker. Where does that stem from?

Years ago, I was mesmerised by a G.I.F. of a dog on a swing.

It was only a few seconds long, but I would stare at it for ages if I was feeling upset.

I named my Tumblr after it, then, after wracking my brain to think of a good band-name, this one jumped out at me.

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Of course, Dog on a Swing features a host of musicians you have met along the way. How did you meet the members of the band and what does each member bring to the music?

I started out playing solo at open mics then gradually became friends with a whole bunch of talented musicians who I’d meet there.

D.o.a.S. works on a flexible basis so, once I have a gig booked, I consult my private Facebook group of members and see who’s available. There have been about twenty musicians who’ve played more than a couple of gigs since 2013 – and I’m very fortunate that people like Faith Eliott (now on Song, by Toad Records), The Jellyman’s Daughter –  and even a whole mixed voice choir (the fantastic Castle Chorus) have been able to gig and record with me.

What is the music scene like in Edinburgh like at the moment? Is it a city you’d recommend other musicians/bands to come to?

Absolutely!

I’ve played in a number of cities across the U.K. and Edinburgh’s open mic. scene still surprises and amazes me.

Nights like The Listening Room and Out of the Bedroom – alongside venues like Henry’s Cellar Bar and the Banshee Labyrinth – are full of underground talent.

I love the idea that anyone can walk up onstage (or in front of the fireplace in the case of The Listening Room) and play a few tunes to a supportive audience. Edinburgh is particularly accommodating towards people writing and performing their own songs.

Autonomy is the forthcoming album. What can we expect to hear from the album in terms of themes and sounds?

Thematically, Autonomy is a loose narrative about me getting help for my depression and anxiety – and the subsequent autonomy and general life improvement once I did.

I tend to structure releases by theme rather than genre, so, whilst there are drums, bass and guitars; the songs also feature harmonica, a string-trio plus trumpet and trombone.

There’s one that’s a theme song for a Tory dystopia – and we put lots of ‘80s synth. on it for authenticity – but the song right after it is an acoustic ballad.

 

The album looks at healing and recovering from depression. Was it quite tough writing about something so personal to you?

Yes and no.

When I started writing the songs, it wasn’t my intention to make this album.

However, the more songs I finished, the bigger the buzz I got from improving my ability to articulate what I was feeling and struggling with at the time.

It seems a lot of musicians are starting to open up about mental health. Do you think more artists should tackle the stigma and discuss these types of subjects?

I think that it’s important to write honestly.

People should feel able to write about those subjects if they’re inclined to do so. As far as a stigma goes, the onus should be on listeners to empathise with something they might not have experienced themselves.

Is there a song on the album that is especially personal and relevant or a track that you were especially proud of?

I’m proud of the album as a whole.

There is a song called Clearing that we split into three parts. Part one is the album introduction; part two is like an intermission and part three is the finale.

I’d first planned to split it in half but I’m really chuffed with the flow of the album.

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The album launch happens on 23rd July (a day before the album is released). Are you looking forward to that date and are you excited about seeing how Autonomy is received by the public?

Yes.

For the launch, we’re putting together a nine-piece band to play the album in order. It’s in a beautiful venue called The Caves and we have awesome support from poet Katherine McMahon and London-based loop artist, The Woods.

It’s been a long process from first writing the songs to delivering an album – so I’m just happy to find out what listeners think of it!

Can you talk to me about the artists you grew up listening to? Any band/singer that inspired you beyond the rest?

I got into music via Green Day, in my early-teens, then that evolved into a deep connection with The Bends/OK Computer-era Radiohead.

Around about the time I was at uni., my tastes hugely diversified but Jeff Buckley was the main game-changer for me. Not so much for his amazing voice but the way he transformed cover material – and how songs from his live sets were never exactly the same.

What does the rest of the year have in store? Any more tour dates emerging?

After the launch, we’re planning to put out a single with our first ever promo video. It was filmed at Henry’s Cellar Bar by Rare Bird Media.

We are also looking to play all around Scotland and further afield from August – if you’d like to put us on or see us live, get in touch.

The touring line-up will be relatively stripped-back (sometimes solo) but, whatever our setup, the focus will be to get the heart of the songs across to audiences

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Besides our fantastic support acts, I’d also like to shout out Graeme Mearns, our producer. He gigs constantly and his SoundCloud page is a good place to keep track of his music.

There’s also Our Smallest Adventures, Caro Bridges & the River; The Micro Band and Urvanovic to check out.

If you had to select the three albums that have meant the most to you; which would they be and why?

There are too many meaningful albums to pick from but three especially relevant to Autonomy:

1) AereogrammeSleep and  Release

Aereogramme’s masterpiece: intense from start to finish with perfect sequencing.

It shifts from beautiful soft melodies to furious noise with Classical dynamics. I sank my angst into it and it gave me back much more.

PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Thomas

2) Anais MitchellHadestown

A fairly recent discovery: a ‘Folk-Opera’ about Orpheus and Eurydice.

A classic story; expert arrangement and, to my mind, one of the best living songwriters in Anais Mitchell.

I listened to it a lot whilst recording the album.

3) The WeakerthansReconstruction Site

Autonomy is an album of thirds and probably the biggest structural influence on it is this album. It also has three pieces that begin, interrupt and conclude the song cycle.

Another masterful songwriter in John K. Samson: the king of subtly heartbreaking lyrics.

What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?

Try lots of stuff out and listen to lots of different kinds of music – because it’s imperative to follow what you enjoy doing – both in terms of the music you play and how you support yourself.

Remember that very few people are full-time musicians and the ones that I know tend to juggle four or five small jobs on a freelance basis – so don’t feel uncool for using an office/retail job to fund your music.

Also, record yourself frequently and play it back to get a listener’s perspective.

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

I’m gonna go with a Dismemberment Plan song called You Are Invited (to the launch party on July 23rd).

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Follow Dog on a Swing

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PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Thomas

Official:

http://dogonaswing.co.uk/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/dogonaswing/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dogonaswing

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/dogonaswing

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9D197697D5D92749&feature=mh_lolz

FEATURE: In Retrospect: Don’t Look Back in Anger

FEATURE:

  

In Retrospect:

 

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IN THIS PHOTO: Beastie Boys

 

Don’t Look Back in Anger

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THAT sub-title might not be the best song to mention…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Weezer in 1996

given this feature looks at retrospective acclaim. Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was heralded upon its release and is considered one of the best albums ever. The 1995 masterpiece arrived at a time when Britpop was at its height: Oasis responded with something celebratory, confident and astonishing. It is, actual, appropriate mentioning Oasis because of their albums, 1997’s Be Here Now, was given huge build-up and was brilliantly reviewed by a lot of critics. Maybe it was the anticipation following (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? but critics were keen to heap praise on Be Here Now – without really listening to it, it seems. That album, in retrospect, is seen as overblown, filler-ridden and lacklustre. A ‘cocaine’ album that has plenty of fight and confidence with little cohesion and quality. Stand by Me is a notable highlight but, aside from that, there are not that many great tunes. That is the reverse of what I want to raise here: albums that have been applauded upon release but given more realistic reviews down the line. It is weird having things work out that way. It is going to be interesting whether albums that have been impassionately reviewed in the last couple of years start to lose their sheen as we progress through the years – I can’t think of any but it will be interesting. What I want to examine – and try to get to the bottom of – is albums that get bad reviews/press when they come out – only to find celebration and proper respect many years later. Two albums that provoked this piece are Beatie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and Led Zeppelin. The latter, looking back, should have been seen as the foreshadowing of a Rock revolution. Maybe it is Rolling Stone that is guilty but, back in 1969, they were not overly-pleasant when Led Zeppelin’s debut arrived. Ending the 1960s with intention and bang – one of the most impressive opening salvos from any band, ever. Maybe the album does not brim with classic Zeppelin tunes but there are no weak moments.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Oasis’ Be Here Now

Those fearing a weak end to the decade would have been relieved to find a band like Led Zeppelin arrive. If Rolling Stone – John Mendelsohn felt Jimmy Page lacked great song and producing instinct – were myopic in 1969: in 2001, the site recognised the rawness and brilliance of the album – better Led Zeppelin albums followed but this was the start of things. Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, one would imagine, would get nothing but hysteria and awe in 1989. Again, another decade-ending wonder: critics were tired and unmoved by Paul’s Boutique first time around. Many felt it was a messy and over-ambitious effort from a group who were on borrowed time. Others saw the sampling as too wide-ranging and unfocused; the raps unfunny and the album too niche and ‘ahead of its time’. It may have taken a while but modern critics realise it is one of music’s finest and a kaleidoscopic collection of diverse sounds – weaved into a multifarious tapestry augmented by Beastie Boys confidence and the production brilliance of Dust Brothers. I wonder why both Led Zeppelin and Beastie Boys got such a rough ride considering they gave us two brilliant records?! I can see how Led Zeppelin might seem a little weak compared with something like Are You Experienced? (a Jimi Hendrix album that, again, didn’t get great reviews the first time) but could you call any of the songs ‘weak’?! I love Paul’s Boutique and wonder whether it arrived at a time when the world was not ready for sampling and the kind of things Beastie Boys were laying down. They received a much smoother ride in the 1990s – sample-heavy albums like Odelay (Beck) and (DJ Shadow’s) Entroducing….. both arrived in 1996. Was there, then, a premium time for something as particular and forward-thinking as Paul’s Boutique? Maybe it was strange and unexpected in the late-‘80s but, given the albums that followed it; many critics realised how inventive, inspiring and important it is. The same could be said of Led Zeppelin’s debut: we hear many of its sounds and ideas tried by contemporary bands.

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In 1972, two monumental albums arrived: Neil Young’s Harvest and The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street. Again, Rolling Stone not too hot on them – Lenny Kaye felt Exile on Main Street stepped out of its comfort-zone – but, in the 1990s and ’00s, they changed opinions and woke up, as it were. John Mendelsohn – how did that guy get a job at Rolling Stone?! – felt Harvest lacked any depth and memorable songwriting. Neil Young sings pretty, as observed, but that was about it. Many see Harvest as one of the most important albums of the 1970s: it has inspired a generation of artists and shows what a genius songwriter Neil Young is. Is it down to personal tastes and rogue journalists that we have this situation?! Rolling Stone was noted, back in decades-past, for being a bit wary of great albums. We have seen how they treated stone-cold classics so is it limited to one source? It seems not, though. Paul’s Boutique got a lot of cold press and that is not the only example. John Landau predicted Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks would not be remembered. Nirvana’s Nevermind, in some people’s view, was the band at a crossroads – not ready to be taken seriously a bit too scrappy. I understand how some feel the need to be radical and fly in the face of public opinion but can you seriously be a music reviewer and find world-class albums inferior?! I wonder whether it is those particular writers not seeing the true potential; if the time the albums are released is wrong – some people not ready for them – or subsequent years create a compelling case. If one takes Nevermind; we know how that capitulated Nirvana to the forefront and pretty much put Grunge into the public consciousness. Maybe it was not the album Kurt Cobain wanted to be remembered for – preferring the rawer and less polished results of In Utero – but its brilliance and influence cannot be denied. The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut was seen, by many, as weak and a throwback – too trippy, lumpen and hazy to register serious intent and reaction. That has been, since then, overturned by critics who view it as a seminal Indie album – unlike the band’s less-than-awesome follow-up.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique

Not that it is on the same plain as the likes of Paul’s Boutique and Blood on the Tracks but I, as a freelance journalist, reviewed Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Billie Marten’s Writing of Blues and Yellows. I commended both albums but highlighted certain tracks as filler – feeling the albums were not perfect but had great moments. Since, both albums have cemented their brilliance and I feel I should write a retrospective correction. I guess reviewers have that small space of time to assess an album and give it their honest thoughts. We do not have the luxury of psychic prescience and the years ahead. Maybe, if I was reviewing Nevermind, I would not have realised what it would become. That is why it is interesting seeing current critics erase bad reviews and see albums in a new light. Consider the reaction (or lack of!) to Ramones’ debut album. It didn’t creep into the Billboard top-100 and reviews were tepid at best. Yet, following its release, it has been judged one of the best albums from all of music. The same can actually be said of Weezer’s Pinkerton which was, when released, criticised by fans and the band alike. Weezer’s much-derided work of wonder is one of the most startling turnarounds in music. In 1996, with so much great music around, critics felt Weezer’s effort was juvenile and poor. It gained such negative press; it was raised whether the band would make another album. Rivers Cuomo – responsible for every word you hear on the album – was embarrassed by the album’s confessional lyrics. That is seen as one of the hallmarks of the record and one that, all these years down the line, has seen Pinkerton gain cult status. Internet promotion and word-of-mouth has changed minds and many critics consider it one of the best of the 1990s. Maybe the Internet was the main catalyst for Pinkerton’s rally but wat about the other albums?! I suppose, back in the 1960s and ’70s; the lack of promotion – fewer sources around the world – meant negative reviews stood out more. We have a lot of great albums now that are not as appreciated as they should be.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Led Zeppelin’s debut album

There are not a lot of people calling for an investigation into the importance of time – giving great albums a chance to reveal themselves. I feel there are a lot of contemporary records that have gained negative reviews that, many years from now, will be seen as classics. Maybe the fact we have so many options for reviews and promotion is a bad thing. Perhaps changing political times will see other older albums gain legendary status. Maybe the reverse is true: some landmark records might see their fortunes change. I am intrigued why critics were so harsh towards the likes of Pinkerton, Paul’s Boutique and Led Zeppelin. If it was the case of a few bad apples – souring the cart and brainwashing the public – that would be forgivable but, in these cases, there were a lot of folks speaking out against these cherished records. It is a travesty to think those albums did not get appreciation in their time – I am glad people saw sense and those albums are celebrated. Even something like Tusk – Fleetwood Mac’s triumphant follow-up to Rumours – did not win everyone which makes me think whether ‘classic’ albums only truly gain that status a certain amount of years down the line. It is hard seeing all the angles and nuances of a record if you address it when it is released. Time, changing tastes and new generations discovering music is vital in a lot of cases. Imagine a music world where Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and Beastie Boys have their finest (or near-finest) albums consigned to the scrap-heap and not given a proper listen! I shall leave it there but it opens up an interesting debate. In an age where we can discover and share music more readily than any other time: is that the reason so many great albums are being given the plaudits they deserve? How long could an artist survive if they created a mesmeric record – only to have it demolished by critics? I suggest it would not be long as that would be a tragic thing. Let’s hope we do not have to witness that but it has been interesting learning about those epic albums that, when they first found their way into the world, were given…

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RATHER harsh treatment.

FEATURE: The June Playlist: Vol. 4: Meanwhile, Away from Glastonbury…

FEATURE:

 

The June Playlist

 

 

 

Vol. 4: Meanwhile, Away from Glastonbury…

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THE dust has barely settled after…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Grizzly Bear

Radiohead’s headline set at Glastonbury before the next day of festivities begins. The revellers at Worthy Farm are soaking up the warm weather and enjoying a carnival of sounds, smiles and sensational memories. It is one of the (if not THE) biggest and most-anticipated festival in the world and, because of that, the latest Playlist is a little quieter than usual – in terms of big acts and songs, that is!

That being said, there are some great songs to be discovered in this edition. A rare cut from Radiohead’s OKNOTOK – celebrating twenty years of OK Computer – and videos from Arcade Fire, HAIM and Chris Cornell.

There are some fantastic cuts from the best Urban/Hip-Hop artists and some under-the-radar pearls.

                                                                           _______     

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Radiohead – Man of War

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Artists for GrenfellBridge Over Troubled Water

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Chris CornellThe Promise

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Wyvern LingoI Love You, Sadie

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Arcade Fire Creature Comfort

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alt-JDancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)

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Rita Ora Your Song

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Flight Facilities and Emma Louise Arty Boy

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Ride – All I Want

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The fin.Pale Blue

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PHOTO CREDIT: Eriver Hijano

Laurel HaloSun to Solar

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PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Wilton

Baio – Out of Tune

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Black SaintNever Did This Before

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Kali Uchis (ft. Jorja Smith) Tyrant

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Charlotte Dos SantosMove On

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The American ProfessionalsThe Story

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Grizzly Bear – Four Cypresses

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RAT BOY – LAIDBACK

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Lecrae (ft. 1k Phew) Hammer Time

Fuse ODG Window Seat

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ODESZA (ft. WYNNE & Mansionair) Line of Sight

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THANKS I Can Get

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The White Noise Bite Marks

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Grandaddy – Brush with the Wild

Circa WavesSomebody Else

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HAIM – Want You Back

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Imagine DragonsI’ll Make It Up to You

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Depeche Mode – Going Backwards (360 Version)

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Richard WaltersDon’t Wanna Fight

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Nick Mulvey Myela

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Hercules & Love Affair (ft. Sharon Von Etten)  Omnion

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UNKLE (ft. ESKA)The Road

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Mura MasaWAVE

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Shawn MendesThere’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back

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PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Ryan Anderson

Vérité – Better

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Romeo Santos Imitadora

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Cedric Gervais (ft. Liza Owens) – Somebody New

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Yungen (ft. Yxng Bane)Bestie

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Dave Gibson – Where the Never Summertime Ends

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Drake – Signs

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FlyteVictoria Falls

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Skinny LivingWhy

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PHOTO CREDIT: Pamela Littky

Fall Out Boy – Champion

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Vince StaplesParty People

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Geri HalliwellAngels in Chains

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The Van T’sFresh Meat

ToulouseReach Out

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Ghetto Vanessa – Yuh Live Nice

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PHOTO CREDIT: Claire Marie Vogel

RAC and St. Lucia The Beautiful Game

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Desiigner Outlet

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Grace VanderWaal Moonlight

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The xx Naïve

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SZA Drew Barrymore

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Boris Way (ft. Tom Bailey) Your Love

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Kodaline – Brother

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TOTEM Aftertaste

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Pat Lok and Kye SonesHollywood

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RIVRS Playing with Fire

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Lost Frequencies & Netsky – Here with You

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Dead Cross Seizure and Desist

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Swedum – Summer State of Mind

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WILD – All My Life

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Algiers – The Underside of Power

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TOPSFurther

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Watanabe Photography

CHON – No Signal

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Tory Lanez (feat. Dave East)Loud Pack

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PHOTO CREDITCasey McClurken

Major MurphyOceans

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jimmy Hubbard

CKY – Unknown Enemy

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UpchurchWhite Lightning

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DJ Khaled – Wild Thoughts

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Jeff Tweedy – Laminated Cat

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Jon PardiHeartache on the Dance Floor

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StepsStory of a Heart

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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – The Balrog

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RussMVP

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Her Blossom Roses

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Tadhg DalyHelps with the Hurt

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Wale (feat. J Balvin) – Colombia Heights (Te Llamo)

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ANTONIALubirea Mea

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Municipal Waste – Breathe Grease

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Action BronsonLet Me Breathe

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Paul Oakenfold – Shanghai Baby (Mix Cut)

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Sean Paul (ft. Migos) – Body

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BLACKPINK 마지막처럼 (AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST)’ M/V

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Jonas Blue (ft. William Singe) – Mama

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SAINT WKND (ft. Boy Matthews) – Make You Mine

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Sheppard – Edge of the Night

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Kodak BlackFirst Day Out

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INNA (ft. Erik)Ruleta

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KMFDM – HELL YEAH

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Tom Prior – Sundays

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DJ Licious – I Hear You Calling

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2 ChainzSleep When U Die

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Katy Perry (ft. Migos) – Bon Appétit

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PHOTO CREDIT: @alexandra_gavillet

ALMA – Chasing Highs

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Public Service BroadcastingPeople Will Always Need Coal

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ozge Cone

Lapalux (ft. Talvi) – 4EVA

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Sylvan EssoThe Glow

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Young Thug (ft. Future)Relationship

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PHOTO CREDIT: Philippe Jarrigeon

Parcels Overnight

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IN THIS PHOTO: Kali Uchis

There is going to be a lot more activity happening at Glastonbury so no excuse to avoid music this weekend! Alongside the variation and excitement down there; the awesome new music arriving this week is not to be overlooked.

As I say; it has been a quieter one but there is no shortage of brilliance and standouts. Keep focused on the scenes and highlights from Glastonbury but take a peek at the array of music that makes the fourth instalment of The June Playlist pretty impressive.

TRACK REVIEW: Wayne Woodward – Animal

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Wayne Woodward

 

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Animal

 

 

9.6/10

 

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Animal is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0zHso0nKTw

GENRES:

Classic-Swing; Soul

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

23rd June, 2017

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THIS will be an interesting one as…

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I get to look at a young man who differs from other artists I have reviewed. Before I come to look at Wayne Woodward; I want to spend some time looking at young artists powering their way into music – and how tough it is in this climate  – why we need musicians and artists to speak out and address the current malaise; the genres of Swing and Alternative; voices that stand out from the crowd and having that ‘star’ quality – a little on critical expectation and making your way to the mainstream. I will start by talking about Woodward in the context of the competition in music. It is a really hard time for artists to catch a break – this is not helped by venues closing and social media taking over. I feel social media is that bittersweet invention that gets music to people instantly but can make one anonymous. It is a replacement for real relationships and, as such, can create a lot of issues. For artists, they have to build that rapport and connection with their fans but promote their songs at the same time. It is a really hard industry and one many are struggling to cope in. What I find is social media is brilliant getting music out to the masses without much struggle. We are witnessing the most advanced stage of human life – this benefits music when we see the technology on offer. The downside of this option and access is so many are taking the option. Every artist needs social media and the Internet and it is difficult standing out from everyone else. Naturally, you need to remain active and tour as much as possible. The wave of new artists coming through means it is harder to get focus and make a successful career. How, then, do some artists make it big? Well, people like Wayne Woodward graft hard and have a personality that connects with audiences and gets into the heart. He is a personal and warm talent – more on that later – who creates incredible music. What impresses me about Woodward is his work ethic and determination.

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There are a few artists I have discovered who do not expend necessary energy and dedication which means they have a hard time enduring. One cannot stress simply how tough and competitive it is in music. Because of that, the modern artist needs to strike the business on several fronts: the music; personality; social media; commitment and originality. The first two points I shall cover more in a bit. Woodward utilises social media and ensures his fans are updated and satisfied. There are great photos and lots of updates; a lot of grind and a real allegiance to music. To Woodward, few things mean more and you can feel that passion in everything he does. I am, perhaps, a little tough on some artists because it is very challenging being a musician these days. I feel talent and time are as important as social media, luck and work rate – when it comes to succeeding and remaining. Wayne Woodward is someone who immerses himself in music and spends his days getting it out to the people. He is whipping up a storm right now and this is going to continue without doubt. It is the confidence and commitment Woodward gives to his music that impresses me. He has that charming and loveable personality that makes him an instant winner for the listener. It is a really tough thing, music, but Woodward has a level head and clear vision. It is likely Woodward will grow stronger and take more chances in music. Right now, the material he is producing is stunning and original – you can detect a fearless soul and someone completely in control of their music. With Jay Picasso producing Animal – and a great set of musicians behind him – one gets impressions of a smoky bar and some vintage and cinematic. I will come onto the music very soon but, before I do, a proper introduction to the young man:

Power-housing his way through the London entertainment scene, the 22 year singer has been melting

the hearts of audiences across Europe. Performing a wide range of classic Swing music, Wayne’s unique tone and vocal range are instantly recognisable and memorable. The dynamic Lad is full of energy, humble and connects with everyone he meets. His Star character and personality are just as much apart of him as the music. Singing his way through 2017, Wayne’s vocals continue to attract large audiences of all ages.

Despite BGT being an absolutely amazing experience I didn’t get a great deal of help after the show and am now back on my own still fighting for the dream.

What the show did give me was a lot of very supportive people who now want more, so I have been singing every weekend in city halls, philharmonics, weddings and even bars and restaurants trying to get the budget together to give the people something they want to hear

– Wayne Woodward

Wayne has since settled down moved out his parents home and into his own flat and is currently expecting a baby boy that he will name Frankie J. Woodward. Which according to Wayne “Gives me

all the more fight to reach my dream.”

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PHOTO CREDIT: Martin Russell

Ever since this country’s political situation has unravelled the way it has; I have been searching for an artist who has that urgency and potency. What I mean is the fact it is a tense and unsettled period for the United Kingdom and, I feel, music should reflect the concern and imbalance we have right now. Whilst Woodward might not be an Urban artist – and project himself as fiercely as some – a song like Animal is a defiant and stark song that lodges itself in the head and makes its impact. Hearing Woodward’s voice and what he sings about on the song – getting kicked down like an animal – there is a sense of personal struggle that could be applied to the country as a whole. As a Labour supporter and someone opposed to Brexit – not a fan of the current government and how things are behind handled – it does not seem like the country I grew up in. There are a lot of angry and hostile voices making themselves known and a huge sense of uncertainty. Following the Grenfell disaster; I feel there needs to be a surge of artists coming through, addressing what is happening right now. I know Dizzee Rascal has a new album coming out this year but it is has been a little quiet in terms of those Urban acts addressing the state of the nation. Maybe that will change but I’d like to think songs are being laid down right now – big anthems that show their disgust and galvanise the nation. It is times like this where we need to herald acts who speak about what is happening around them. So many still get hung up on themselves and their own relationships. Taking time to properly talk about what is happening in this country (and the wider world) is what we all need. I mentioned Dizzee and, my greatest wish, is to find someone who can produce a modern-day Boy in da Corner. That album was packed with genius, stunning lyrics and flow – sick raps, spat beats and true command. There is a definite calling and desire so we need artists to respond. Woodward is someone, in his own way, representing a general mood and sentiment around the nation. That feeling of being forced down by life and having to get back up seems very apt at the moment. Whether directing documenting the strife and anger that is being felt in Britain; a general sense of the feelings circulating the country and the confusion felt by many – we need to embody this through music.

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Music is one of the most powerful forces there is and has the potential to make real changes. That needs harnessing right now. I feel the nation is in the most unstable state it has been for a long time and, not wanting to add weight to the negativity out there, music has that power to help the people and verbalise the myriad emotions and concerns being felt. I have been toying with my own album (Antifreeze in Summer) and the themes that should be explored: political unrest and youth dissatisfaction; issues concerning climate and national security; the need to come together and make the world better. Applying this to Wayne Woodward and he himself has crafted a song that speaks for so many people. It is a wonderful track that provokes vivid images. In a way, although it has personal roots, I feel it looks at the human condition and the way we are all subject to bad days and challenging times. Arriving in the epicentre of a national outcry – the fire from Grenfell is out but the smoke will linger for years to come – Woodward’s latest track feels very appropriate and meaningful. A lot of artists are taking little time to cast their creative net wide enough and look past their personal lives. Yes, there is a huge sense of self in Animal but the song gets me thinking about the world around and what some people have had to face. There is that feeling things are heading in a bad direction and we are not sure what will happen. Woodward is someone who recognises this but offers something hopeful and optimistic. There will be light at the end of the tunnel but it might take a while to get there. Against all the strife and chaos; we all need that hope to cling onto.

It has been a long while since I’ve looked at genres like Swing so it is good to hear an artist like Wayne Woodward. Coming from Jay Picasso’s stable; one might assume he would be a rapper or Hip-Hop artist but it shows what diversity is coming from that studio space. We get impressions of Swing and thing it will be Frank Sinatra and quite old-fashioned. There is a sense of blue-eyed soulfulness in Woodward but he is a modern equivalent. All the instruments one hears on Animal were recorded live and help achieve that natural sound. It is orchestral and grand; there is intimacy and shadows sitting alongside light and romance. We get all these things from Woodward’s voice and the superb musicians accompanying him. Picasso wanted to simulate the sound of a smoky bar: whilst there, he wanted Woodward to break his heart. No romantic endeavour but surrendering to a singer with immense chops and the ability to silence a crowd. I love the imagery and nature of Woodward’s work. There is that feeling of a smoky, Jazz/Swing-filled bar somewhere in the city – late at night and, maybe, down an alleyway. Woodward’s music should be in black-and-white because it has that film noir vibe. I am not a huge follower of Swing – mainly because there are not a lot of current options. One has to go back in time to hear Swing music and how it all began. Maybe it is not deemed fashionable in the modern climate because people assume it will sound like Sinatra or Dean Martin. Great artists but how relevant are they in the modern age? Woodward is someone who nods to the legends but modernises the genre. There is Blues and Soul (in Animal) and sensations of the 1970s. We get a blast of several decades and those kingpins. It is rare to hear such sounds in the market but should be no real surprise, I guess. Woodward is not one for nostalgia and updates 1970s Soul and older Swing with ease.

Animal has those live instruments playing: a pure performance that is not cluttered with polish and effects. It is a luscious and sweeping track that has darker elements but plenty of gorgeous croon and startling moments. I am keen to write about Wayne Woodward because many might know him from Britain’s Got Talent. That is a ‘tag’ he has had to throw off for a while. It was a great opportunity for him but, one suspects, a small step in a much larger career. It was a chance to showcase his voice to the nation but he does not want to be identified as a ‘talent show contestant’. It is the sort of thing one might see on a pantomime poster or someone playing on Blackpool pier. For Woodward, it was an exciting opportunity but did not open as many doors as anticipated. It is curious seeing people who go on talent shows and what they hope to achieve. Woodward’s experience might be different but, for many, it is that need to gain fame and stardom quickly. As much as anything, it can be fun and, assuming you want little else from it, not a bad way to spend your time. I think the problem is a lot of people assume it will fast-track them to giddy heights and they will be set for life. We have all seen shows like X Factor and how ‘well’ artists there do. To be honest, there has never been a truly successful winner/contestant on any talent show of this modern ilk. You can debate whether singers like Leona Lewis and Will Young are reputable and big but they have not exactly set the world alight. Their album sales might be impressive but do sales equate to genuine quality and originality? I would say not and that is emphasised by the fact none of these winners/contestants are talked about in hushed and excited tones. They fill a need and fit into a market that is commercial and soulless. That is unfair to say that of all artists (within that bubble) but it is true of most. I do not think anyone goes on a talent show because they think they are going to change the world. There is that fame motive and need for quick success – most of the people who appear either do not write songs or have little talent beyond. That is why I am glad Woodward is trying to depart from that tag.

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Were he your ‘average’ talent show contestant; he would aim for that record deal and , invariably, surround himself with producers, writers and other assorted minors. The rank-and-file crews that accompany your modern Pop star is extraordinary. Instead, he has accepted it was a small (memorable if not overly-successful) step along the way and part of the C.V. He wants to shake that association off to an extent – probably doesn’t help I have been banging on about it for a long time! – and forge a career on his own terms. That is an impressive step and one I do not see from many talent show participants. If they were to go down their own road – and not hang on to a false ideal of stardom and fame – they would be a lot happier. The truth is, a lot of these artists do not have the talent and potential to survive by their own methods. Woodward, by contrast, battles against the wave of overly-produced artists and creates music that bursts with passion and evocativeness. It is raw and essential; it grabs you by the neck and drags you in. I am compelled by Woodward’s voice which seems like nothing else. There are embers of modern acts like Rag ‘n’ Bone Man but Woodward is a smoother, more refined and eclectic singer. He has the smoothness of a Swing crooner but the beauty and powerful of the best Soul performers. He has forged that voice himself and not developed it around a marketing need or desire – progressed the way he wanted to and developed into an impressive and unique artist. It is an unpredictable thing, this music industry so you have to be ready for rejection and some unexpected lows. Woodward, after that Britain’s Got Talent shot, had doors closed in his face and did not get the opportunities he deserved. Now he is shaking off that experience to an extent; it is clear Woodward has a lot more to say and will achieve everything he set out to. It is an exciting time for an artist who has created a fantastic track in Animal. If his future songs are anything like this, it will not be long until he reaches the big leagues.

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The opening seconds of Animal build a sense of purpose and thread work. There is the plinking and soft-stepping style of strings and pianos with an underlying with some funky guitar snatches. It is a busy, emotive and interesting build-up that blends perfectly with the video – the hero sat smoking; contemplating life and mulling things over. It is important to establish a sense of purpose and direction with an introduction and that is what one gets here. Jay Picasso’s proprietary blends and patented production guidance – weave together with some exceptional songwriting – gets the song off to a flyer and strikes in the heart. The first notes of Woodward’s deliver are stark and affecting. That voice, if not experienced before, is extraordinary and powerful. It is low and gravelled but has a sense of comfort and richness to it. See, as it is said, the hero has been kicked down like an animal. He is feeling the sting of life and trying to make sense of the way things are unfolding. “Thorn in my side” he laments; “Shot down” like the proverbial scapegoat. The non-human form has been reduced to mere bones: his soul has been scarred and his pride wounded. There is nobody there to save Woodward and pull him from the trap. Elongating the word ‘animal’ to such an extent gives it that pained and wracked tone – the word is stretched and dragged through the dirt. It gives the song its first truly harrowing and revealing moment and uncovers its wounds without shame. The hero is not going to be defeated but, that said, is having a torrid time right now. Taken from the album, N.U.M.B.; Animal is a perfect representation of a young soul with an older man’s woes. As wordless vocals coo and swoon – creating a flow and audible heartbeat – the video sees Woodward drag through a cigarette and approached by a heroine – a rather statuesque and alluring femme fatale, perhaps?!

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In the early phases, you get an idea of what is being represented and what the hero has had to face. It is not clear whether there has been romantic misadventure or a lack of good fortune. Maybe this is a look back at that talent show past and having doors slammed in the face. It has been a hard few years for Woodward and he has not got as many bites of the cherry as he would have hoped. Now, as he is launching N.U.M.B. to the world; things are going to change – but he can’t ignore what has led him to this situation. The composition remains light but lets the voice take charge. The heroine has been tied down and shackled it seems. Not only by life but it seems like an individual – maybe a sweetheart or former love. There is a lot of tension coming in as horns blast and things get heavier. Again, certain words are elongated and there is a real emotional slam being felt. Woodward is trust like an animal and is being deceived. Unable to run free and get some release; he is at the mercy of the heroine. As, in the video, the heroine writhes and teases our man – who nurses a cigarette and has his head in hands – you get a real sense of struggle and defeat. The composition becomes more present and urgent as the production’s richness and complexities make themselves known. You hear more emotions and force coming to the surface. The horns strengthen whilst the strings and electronic elements fuse effortlessly. It is the sound of a Soul/Swing classic with modern aesthetics and production values. Woodward’s voice remains that constant weapon. Even though the hero is battling for survival; his voice is that strong and captivating beast that swims and endeavours but has a smoky and ravaged core. The halo has been stripped – he is trying to get a signal “out-of-range” – and is bleeding.

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Whilst contemporary Soul singers like Rag ‘n’ Bone Man have been criticised for a certain lack of invention and originality; here, there is a lot more depth, rage and nuance. Woodward has a voice as potent and impressive but the songwriting and production is much more impressive. Animal is addictive and catchy. The strings still trip and creep whilst the voice flows and swoons to create something quite wonderful. I love the wordplay and lyrics from Woodward. Metaphors and stunning images come to mind and you cannot help but create your own storyline. The video for Animal is quite basic – set in a bar with Woodward and the heroine in this tease and struggle – but one will have their own impressions. I see something more ambitious and epic. The hero fights in the rain and is being (literally) kicked down and suffocated. Although there are these weighty lyrics and harrowing revelations; there is that determination to fight back and find hope. Woodward is not someone who lets life take over him and allow it to consume his every moment. Yes, there are bad times and have been issues but he is defiant and single-minded. Wanting to succeed and prosper, much like an animal, he bites back and has that rugged exterior. There are few songs that will leave such an immediate impression and take hold upon first listen. It is a brilliant track you cannot help come to time again and unearth new truths and possibilities. Woodward is the leader and centre that gives the song immense power and conviction. The composition starts quite subtle but grows and creates its own atmosphere. Together – and some terrific production values – we have this epic and grand song that could be the theme to a thriller or action film – I think one YouTube commentator has already mooted the possibility. It is a wonderful cut from the album that, along with title track N.U.M.B., shows what a talent Woodward is.

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I am keen to return to my original points but, before then, a little about Wayne Woodward. You only need run his name through a search engine and you will get a load of articles about his runner-up success at Britain’s Got Talent (2016). A lot of them ask if we remember him and, more importantly, the fact he is stepping out as a solo artist. I know Woodward is expecting a boy he will call Frankie J. Woodward – after his favourite crooner. He has set himself up in his own flat and is making some big decisions. It is all part of growing up but, being so young, it might seem a little daunting. Having to balance a new home with impending parental duties is enough for anyone – without throwing in music and all those responsibilities. It is an exciting time for him and one that will bring new relevance and importance. I am not sure how his fatherly role with impact his music but one suspects future new songs will reflect that new dynamic will have a part to play. It is good Woodward has found some independence and new responsibility because it will give him a lot more freedom. In terms of performance; he plays at weddings and gigs every weekend and spends as much time as he can gigging. That shows the determination and work ethic he has. There are some great days ahead and, now Animal is out, it is only six days until his album is out. A busy and packed time for a hugely promising young artist. This sense of Woodward being who he truly is has burned hard. He has spent so long playing gigs and saving his money up – so he can perform and record the music he wants to. With Jay Picasso on production duties; he is in safe hands and has a stunning song as a result. Written with Picasso and Daniel Spencer; Animal is a gorgeous song that will remain in the mind for a long while.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Martin Russell

I am not sure what his touring plans are but one hopes there are some dates around the country. With an album approaching fast; I suspect there will be some promotional dates but it seems Woodward has the opportunity to transcend from the concert halls and weddings to playing at some of the country’s best venues. It is always hard trying to juggle a ‘normal’ life and the needs of the music industry. Although Woodward’s life is about to get a lot busier – in both areas – it is going to be exciting. He has stepped out on his own and marking himself as one of the most intriguing male solo artists in the country. When his album arrives; many will take it to heart and find much to adore. Animal is the sound of a young man casting off the labels of ‘talent show contestant’ and that sort of life. Not that appearing on those shows is anything to feel strangely about: one can often be tied to them and unable to shake it off. Woodward entered Britain’s Got Talent and was the runner-up that year. It was hoped there would be able to naturally transition into a music career but the opportunities were not as ready as anticipated. That left to a slightly jaded artist who had to think how he approached the industry. I am glad Woodward did not get fame off the back of that success – he would have been led down a different path. With a record label backing him; it might have been hard to sing and write how he wanted. In a way, he would have had some independence removed and been made to fit into a mould. Luckily, fortune and talent have seen him take another crack at music. There is criticism from a lot of people when it comes to talent shows and why people go on them – and whether it is a cheap fast-track to the top. I feel the shows are becoming less valid and are not giving us any lasting talent. There have a certain pointlessness which makes me wonder why we watch them – if it is for entertainment or we are (naively) hoping the next big thing will emerge?!

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Before bringing this all down, a look back at Swing and voices that separate themselves from everything else. Wayne Woodward’s voice is the result of a young man not following trends and fashions: a singular human who wants to sing and perform how HE wants. There is no direction or pressure; people are not steering him to sound like anyone else. Hearing Animal, one hears some contemporary notes and embers of existing artists. When you strip away Woodward’s musical flesh, one finds the beating heart of a true and determined artist. The fact he pounds the live circuit so hard shows you how much it all means to him. The experience he has gained not only gives him valuable lessons and knowledge from the road but hones that voice. He is able to experiment in low-stress environments and try different things. You can hear all the different shades, layers and scenarios in Woodward’s voice. It is an exciting thing and one driven by passion and instinct. Playing in genres like Swing and Soul can be quite risky, I guess. The mainstream welcomes all kind of acts but there is a general leering towards urgency and something quite instant – sounds and songs that have directness and lodge themselves in the brain. Swing builds itself up a different way and is more reliant on a sense of relaxation and smoothness. Whether this ethos will be assimilated into the mainstream before long is yet to be seen but there are not many artists who play in this area. Woodward is capable of stepping into Hip-Hop, Pop and Electronica but, at the moment, is taking influence from legends like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He is that blue-eyed Soul crooner who mixes the legendary tones and sentiments with modern production and personal revelation. I would like to see Swing and Soul come more into focus and find more participants. A song like Animal shows what is possible and how nimble the genres are. Of course, there are not many artists who have the same voice and talent as Woodward. I guess music is always changeable and tastes are quite subjective. There is no doubting Woodward’s credentials and following.

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He has a mass of bodies behind him and proving himself to be an awesome proposition. That star quality and everyman personality should not be overlooked. There are few artists who manage to produce original and striking music and balance that with a sense of approachability and accessibility. Woodward connects with the fans and someone who does not want to push them away. That will stand him in good stead when he makes it to the mainstream. There are a lot of artists who keep to themselves and do everything by the book – no sense of reaching out or dropping a certain façade. Those who take the time to be themselves and show some love will get that back. Wayne Woodward has a lot more in him and plenty of possibilities ahead. Animal is a song that proves his credentials and paints a very important message. Given the way the country has transformed the last few months – Grenfell, the election results and continuing tensions with terrorist-related attacks – we, as a people, are more on-edge and fraught that ever. There is a sense of being kicked down and having to surrender. The same way Woodward applies Animal to a personal sense of defeat and obstacle – having to prove his worth and fight against forces – we can extrapolate a lot from it – and apply it to the world we live in right now. Away from the crap and constant disappointment, there is that unerring determination and unity that means the people will rise and find light. We are not cowed and scared by threats and attacks; we are not people who let the government get away with shoddiness. Banding together and finding a common cause is the way we cope and make sense of things. Wayne Woodward, as a person, has faced disappointment and setbacks but does not let them get to him. He is resolute and will succeed. That sense of fortitude and triumphant steeliness burns hard in Animal. The sheer effectiveness and passion of that voice provide kick, silkiness and a range of different emotions. It is an insight into an album that is going to win new fans and highlights the fact Wayne Woodward is…

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A force to be reckoned with.

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Follow Wayne Woodward

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Official:

http://waynewoodwardmusic.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/wwoodwardmusic

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/wwoodwardmusic/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/wwoodwardmusic/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/wwoodwardmusic

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO-bziQIjiGNjhQgCGX5fmg/videos

INTERVIEW: Warsaw Radio

INTERVIEW:

 

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Warsaw Radio

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BRIGHTON seems to be producing some of the most…

interesting and strong artists in the country. In terms of quality, there are few there that match Warsaw Radio. Brian from the band talks to me about the new single, Still Have You to Hold, and what is has been like getting praise from some big names. I learn about the upcoming album and what it was like to make; if there are any tour dates we should keep our eyes out for and the artists that have been inspiring to Brian and the band.

I get to hear about the Brighton music scene and its prosperity; artists/musicians who have inspired Warsaw Radio’s sound and how the gang have been coping with the weather – and why they all buggered off to the beach and left Brian to answer the questions!

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

Hi. Brian, here, from W.R.

All’s well. We’re playing a show in London tonight so just doing some prep. today.

The rest of the guys have escaped to the beach!

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

We’re a Brighton-based five-piece band whose members come from the U.K. and Ireland.

The band includes: Nikki Bates (Violin & Vocals); Laurence Bridge (Bass); Paul Lennox (Drums) and Chris Webber (Lead Guitar) – Brían McNamara (Vocals & Guitar)

How are you enjoying the weather right now? Any chance to hang out in the sun or too busy right now?

It’s been super-hot on the South Coast this last week.

The sea temperature has been like a bath so we’ve been in and out of the sea most evenings this week – in-between finishing off our album at Brighton Electric Studios with Jag Jago.

The band is based out of Brighton. What is the music scene like there? Is it one of the best places to discover great new acts?

It’s a big town/small city which works as it’s so close to London.

There are so many great bands that we’ve gotten to meet who are based out of here – Royal Blood and The Levellers to name but a few.

Still Have You to Hold is your latest single. What can you tell us about this one?

The narrative of this song follows a tale about an old couple who’ve been together since they bought their old Bush radio (back when Chuck Berry was in the charts).

The radio is now stuck on Radio 1 – but they’re not too fussed as they’ve heard it all already.

The song blends the sounds of older and new. Is that a mandate of Warsaw Radio – creating music that spans the generations?

We set out to create an old-world sound on this track. The idea was to create a sound that could be from 2017 or 1967.

BBC Radio 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins has praised your music. Is it humbling getting praise from big names like that?

Any support/love you get as an unsigned act is humbling.

BBC Radio 6 Music have done so much for unsigned bands. Long may it continue.

I believe you are working on an album right now. What kind of songs/themes are explored throughout?

The songs explore themes of love, loss and infidelity.

All the good stuff!

Is there any song on the album that was particularly memorable or one that was quite tough to record?

We’ve been performing and practising these songs a lot over the last twelve months; so the recording process felt natural.

It was a challenge to select the songs to go on the album.

Who are the artists you all grew up listening to and inspire your music?

We each come from different musical backgrounds but we do collectively love acts like Arcade Fire, Wilco and Fleetwood Mac.

What kind of tour dates do you have coming up?

July 7th – The Brunswick, Hove; Aug 20th – Beautiful Days Festival, Devon; Aug 27th – Little Big Festival, Brighton.

Aside from that, are there any other plans for the year? Any chance for you guys to jet off somewhere for a relaxing break?

We have another single due out in October. That will be followed by the album in early-2018.

We’re looking at popping over to Ireland for a tour in October.

It’s a good excuse to sample some decent Guinness!

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Common Tongues, Night House and Paul Murray – all are Brighton-based acts.

If you each had to select the album that has meant the most to you; which would they be and why?

Tough question…..

If I had to pick one it would have to be Highway 61 RevisitedBob Dylan.

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What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?

Do one thing every day that helps you reach where you want to be.

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

Bell X1Starlings Over Brighton Pier

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Follow Warsaw Radio

 

Official:

http://www.warsaw-radio.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/warsawradio/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/warsawradio

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/warsawradioband/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/warsawradio

YouTube:

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

INTERVIEW: Christina Martin

INTERVIEW:

 

Christina Martin Duesenberg Guitars Caribou

 PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Munn (photomunn.com)

 

Christina Martin

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CANADIAN singer-songwriter Christina Martin returns with the…

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new single, Lungs Are Burning. She is about to embark on a ten-date U.K. tour – taking in the likes of Brighton, London and Manchester. Her latest single is the first track from her upcoming album and is an anthem for those who are lost and longing. It was compelled by the rising Fentanyl drug crisis in Canada. Martin explains how drug addiction has impacted on her family and what it is like living in rural Nova Scotia with her guitarist/producer husband, Dale Murray. Martin brings gravitas and emotion to her work so I ask who has inspired her and how her songs come together. Lungs Are Burning brings a heavy subject to the listeners but it is never delivered with anything other than compassion and dignity.

Starting out slogging in the Texas bar scene (in the early-’00s); Martin has been recording and touring relentlessly and dedicated herself to music. A celebrated artist on the festival scene – her music has been played on T.V. – I ask about the upcoming tour and which dates she is looking forward to; the artists that have inspired her and what the scene is like in Canada right now.

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

Great!

I seem to have recovered from a very long bout of the flu – and I’m busy touring and working on my new record.

This week, we were in Toronto rehearsing for band shows and I’ve had the chance to see many friends and family along the way.

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

I’m a Canadian Roots/Rock singer and songwriter.

I play electric and acoustic rhythm guitar and I’m based in rural Nova Scotia.

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Lungs Are Burning is the new single. What can you tell us about it and the origins?

Lungs Are Burning was written with Dale Murray.

I had been reading about the Fentanyl overdose crisis in Canada and it really hit home – since I lost my brother to an opioid overdose in 2013. The song itself isn’t ‘about’ the crisis: the lyrics are a personal expression of reaching, of loss and longing for something to fill a big hole.

I didn’t expect a song to come out of it but I remember waking early one morning singing the melody and the words “Hearts are burning, hearts are yearning”. Then, later that morning, Dale suggested we change the first ‘hearts’ to ‘lungs’.

It has quite a direct and emotional sound. Was it hard writing and recording the song or did you manage to remain detached (to an extent) from the subject matter?

I’ve never detached from the subject matter.

I’m telling stories and sharing bits of myself so if I would detach from that – you’d have a soulless performance. When it comes to recording; you are working with people and asking them to give their best performance and they may be a bit more detached to the subject matter – but then, it’s my job to steer them to a more emotional performance.

So, it’s a combination of bringing skill, emotion and energy to a performance. It wasn’t hard writing the song: it came with ease, so you can create something emotional without being a basket-case in the process.

Does the song have any personal relevance? Have you experienced addiction or anyone you know been affected by it?

My brother overdosed on opioids in 2013. He was an addict at a young age and diagnosed bipolar in his thirties – and I believe early intervention and had we had the ‘tools’ to help – it would have changed the course of his life.

I know a lot of family and friends who need help for addiction or mental illness but can’t get the help when they need it – and end up suffering.

I have experienced bouts of depression and anxiety but not wanting to use medication for fear that I would become addicted. It was extremely difficult to get to see a mental health professional who I could talk to during crisis times – when I had the strength and could afford to go and see someone privately. I work daily to stay healthy but many people can’t access care when they need it and end up in crisis-mode (or worse).

Are there any more songs appearing in the future? An E.P. or album, perhaps?

I’m working on a new full-length album now – and it should be ready late-2017.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Orest Dorosh

On 24th June, you will start a mini-tour of the U.K. Is this your first time here or are you quite familiar with the British crowds?

I’ve been touring the U.K. since 2014, every year, and it’s been a bit of a learning-curve. We’ve had great shows in places like John Peel Centre in Stowmarket, The Met in Bury; Little Rabbit Barn in Ardleigh and many other great spots – and a lot of support from BBC radio. We’ve also had shows where it was difficult to get people out because my name isn’t widely known and I’m not considered trendy or hip.

It’s that way starting out in most new markets but, over time, you develop really appreciative music fans; some that come out to multiple shows on the same tour. I want to continue making connections with my new music in U.K.

I believe you just have to keep making music, be yourself, and over time your audience will develop (or it won’t). It’s nothing to worry about, though.

A friend told me once “There are no musical emergencies”.

Which dates are you most looking forward to during the tour?

I’m mostly looking forward to playing the band shows in London @ The Sound Lounge (special guests Gabrielle Papillon & Jules Talbot); Brighton @ the Latest Music Bar (special guest Dandelion Charm) and Little Rabbit Barn in Ardleigh (with Annie Keating Trio).

We have two Liverpool-based musicians: Justin Johnson on Drums and Callum Williams playing Bass at those tour dates.

Based in rural Nova Scotia; is it quite an inspiring place to create music or can it be quite distant at times?

Where we live in Nova Scotia is very peaceful and rural.

I can create music almost anywhere; as long as I have time alone and some writing tools. We also have our studio in our home which allows us more freedom to record at leisure and minimal distractions.

I’m so busy that I never really feel uninspired, however, I do struggle, like many full-time artists, with making time to create – instead of dealing with the ‘business’ side of music. That can be a drag.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Orest Dorosh

You live with your husband and musical partner Dale Murray. How influential is he to your music?

Dale Murray has been an integral force in shaping my studio and live sound and he’s been making records with me since 2007.

We have some similar tastes in music but we both bring different opinions to the rehearsal or studio. Musically and personally, our lives are very intertwined.

Sometimes we co-write – mostly music and not lyrics. I have strong ideas and I don’t think my records sound like other Canadian artists but, certainly, Dale brings equally strong ideas to the table – and those ideas can shape the direction of the song and influence how I end up singing my lyrics.

I would say his guitar-playing and tones are world-class and that really jives with my vision for the live performances and my records.

What is the scene like in Canada right now? Do you think many overlook Canadian music and assume it is not as strong as American and British sounds?

I’m not really familiar with the ‘scene’ here as we chose to move away from the city years ago to work and live in rural Nova Scotia. I don’t keep up with what other musicians are doing as I just don’t have the time trying to keep focused on my own work.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Munn (photomunn.com)

But, we have found there are great listening room venues and small theatres in many small towns and villages around Nova Scotia – like the Marigold Theatre in Truro; the Evergreen Theatre in Margaretsville. There is a plethora of great singer-songwriters from this part of the world and, although the music scene faces challenges with live music sales, people still appreciate going out to hear live music.

There’s great music everywhere and the Internet has made it possible for musicians around the world to make their music heard. I actually believe that Canadians are making their presence known outside of Canada – more so now than ever. I get the sense, when we are on the road touring in Europe, that music-lovers are really excited about the music coming from Canada.

Who were the artists that inspired you to take up music? Did you have quite a musical childhood?

When I was a kid, my father played all kinds of music and had a large vinyl collection.

I did study music and piano when I was very young but mostly focused on sports as a teenager. Growing up, I listened mostly to Rock and Pop.

As a teenager, I listened to what was popular on the radio but found artists like Annie Lennox, David Bowie; Tina Turner and Michael Jackson to be captivating.

I love Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen; Fleetwood Mac, Cyndi Lauper; Madonna and Roxette. So, mostly American and British Pop and Rock music. If the song and (usually) the singer caught my attention, I was hooked.

In my early-20s living in Austin, TX, I was introduced to Americana music and singer-songwriters like Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffi; Townes Van Zandt – but also admired stellar bands like Wilco and The Jayhawks – and that’s when I started writing my own music.

I think I always dreamed of being a Rock singer who could tell a good story with heart, and over the years, I’ve tried to write more with my electric guitar.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I can’t think of any, to be honest.

I haven’t had time to listen to any new music. I mostly put on old records by Tom Petty and David Bowie when I have time to listen to music.

If you had to select the three albums that have meant the most to you; which would they be and why?

The Jayhawks Rainy Day Music

I can remember driving around Austin, TX – in my Volvo station wagon – when I was in my early-20s and really lovin’ this record.

It inspired me to make records.

Michael Jackson Off the Wall

This record made me want to dance and sing and become a Pop star.

When you really listen to the production, there are many magical musical arrangements going on but, still, an openness to the songs – and the funk just gets right to you.

What musician today has not been inspired by Michael at some point in their lives?!

David Bowie The Next Day

This album has gorgeous Rock ballads and wonderful vocal delivery by David – and late in his career.

It was the first album in many years I listened to in its entirety over and over again. My brother had passed away around the same time and I was on a six-month, eighty-show tour in Europe – and listened to this production during my daily jogs.

The production and vocal delivery really influenced my 2015 album, It’ll Be Alright.

What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?

Put your blinders on; focus on making great art and stick to your path with heart.

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

Get on the FloorMichael Jackson

_____

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