Mark O’Reilly L’Etre Politique Album Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
Marc O'Reilly Band; Kirsty Burge Photography

Marc O’Reilly pictured with his band; Photo Credit: Kirsty Burge Photography

Marc O’Reilly is an artist that cannot be defined simply as folk or blues, but instead teases elements of both, achieving optimal emotional depth that is unwinding and stirring. He understands his power behind those versatile vocals and in his wake, balancing and challenging genres. And between the trio’s synchronised drums, keys and guitars, they maintain off the scale rhythms and impeccable timings. The standout guitar solos of Walk With Me and Be Alive almost rival the folk elements.

Yet when those folk elements arrive mid-way, it’s exquisite – the unwinding, acoustics  of Fire with its sweeping strings and echoing vocals provides momentary calm. Think White Denim at their most pared back on ‘Corsicana Lemonade’ with echoes of Nick Drake’s instrumentals on River Man (‘Five Leaves Left’).

The lighter, huskier, James Vincent McMorrow-esque vocals and barely there instrumentals of Solitary Ease and Walk With Me are absolutely sublime – we reckon a collaboration between the pair is long overdue.

On this record there are more contemporary parallels with American/Canadian artists to be drawn and it’s the sharp timings and garage-rock leanings of Quiet Place which give warm echoes of Jesse Mac Cormack. While it is Walk With Me that takes centre stage, channelling the Americana-Psychedelia of White Denim.

This fourth album: ‘L’Etre Politique’ is inspired (as it’s title hints) by the politics of human interactions and of being; capitalism, war and globalisation. The album opener: Enemy Of and the epic closer: Shadows are equally full bodied explosions of guitar and drums encasing a solid record, that frames O’Reilly at his finest.

L’Etre Politique is out now via Dox Records!

Marc O'Reilly L'Etre Politique; Album Artwork

Follow Marc O’Reilly on: SPOTIFY // TWITTER // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM

WORDS: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

Advertisements

Introducing // Shaky Shack

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
Shaky Shack; Josh Byrne (copyright)

Shaky Shack (Alex Winter & Mateusz Kosnik) – Photo credit: Josh Byrne

You cannot beat the feeling of discovering new artists with incredible potential. The instant we discovered Dublin duo, Shaky Shack, we were mesmerised. Their home-recorded and produced debut single: “Selfish Fever” is a shimmery slice of electronica-jazz paired with harmonies that would melt butter, and lyrics of palatable sweetness.

The track is a perfect lead into their smooth and super-chilled genre-bending aesthetic. Having only emerged officially as a band a few months ago, everything is still very fresh.

We spoke to one half of the band, Alex Winter, who went onto explain: “We’ve been together the last year, but we wanted to get things right before we put ourselves out there. We met through friends involved in the Dublin music scene over a year ago and have been writing together ever since. We have a strangely unique creative chemistry that works so well and we both instantly felt that creative click. We definitely bring the best out of each other.”

They are currently rehearsing ahead of gigging across Ireland: “We are mainly focusing on the release of our upcoming single ‘Pavement’ from our upcoming E.P ‘Flaked’ that is set for release in the next 2 months.”

We could definitely see their acoustics thriving in a Sofar Sounds setting!

Their debut single: “Selfish Fever” is out now and available on all platforms.

Shaky Shack: Spotify // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

The Great Escape 2018 Review

Live Reviews, The Great Escape 2018, Uncategorized

Brighton 2; Spiral Magazine

The UK’s biggest and brightest showcase of new alternative music was enhanced this year by the irrepressible rays of sunshine – Brighton was grinning from ear-to-ear; everyone was glowing, rooms were gold emblazoned and the streets were so chilled you had to pinch yourself to remind yourself of the time.

Meandering in and around the sun-kissed seaside streets to over 30 venues, from pubs, nightclubs, street stages and beach marquees to catch a glimpse of as many of the 450 bands across 3 days where there were natural challenges in deciding who not to miss and the unavoidable gamble of clashes.

By the Saturday afternoon we felt we let in as much magic as we could manage and set-off on the long voyage home, as to recover from pre-festival (ill-timed) viruses. Our highs however, were unforgettable and without doubt Ireland found it’s way to everyone’s heart by it’s peoples innate charisma, wry wit and warm spirits.

THURSDAY’S highlights…

Moncrieff 

Moncrieff 01; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

This Irish Singer-Songwriter took the theatre by storm. It’s no exaggeration that his raw and commanding stadium-sized vocals never mind filled, but could be heard outside, the Sallis Benney Theatre, and without a microphone on many occasions to boot too! We were drawn in from the first powerful note; with bluesy and effortless vocal ranges certainly giving Hozier a run for his money!

His heart- wrenching lyrics were delivered with so much punch, we felt the pangs to our gut, particularly on standout tracks: ‘Symptoms’ and ‘Serial Killer’. Suffice to say this Dublin artist is an emerging soul-pop artist to watch, in fact, you’ve got to join us in seeing him headline London in July!

George Taylor 

George Taylor; Elizabeth Andrade; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

This was one of those most tender and sensitive sets that you needed in-between some sketchy shows that afternoon. George’s soulful delivery was effortlessly supported by the tight band. The emotive energy combined was palpable in Jubilee Square – the frontman called to mind Tom Odell, particularly on ‘Come Follow Me Down’. Their set garnered the attention of every passing punter, we reckon these are serious contenders to watch in the upcoming months!

Riley Pearce 

Riley Pearce 02; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)This talented Perth-based singer-songwriter from the Melbourne-based management: Lemon Tree Music (which already boasts the likes of Tash Sultana, and Pierce Brothers) was everything we hoped for live – the guitar work was impressive to watch, let alone listen – picture Ben Howard in his early days!

He harnessed calming ambiance and had the ability to silence One Church very casually through voice and guitar alone. A slow burning musician that draws parallels to Jose Gonzalez. Playing his latest dreamy single ‘Elephants’ not forgetting his classic ‘Brave’ and ‘Misplaced’ that was every bit as moving in person.

Blanco White 

Blanco White; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright).jpgThere was no disguising the momentum behind this gig, genuine panic was in the winding queues eyes around Unitarian Church that it was to much relief we were admitted a pew seat. Effortless sensitivity oozed from the strings of the guitars, violin and soft percussion. Every musician’s precision within the five piece intrigued and sent us to goosebumps.

All that was needed was the lead vocalist to provide us with the passionate literary lyrics to give us moments of reflection: “We’re confined to be apart, To take sides in divided cells. We collide when we depart, Don’t ask me what’s the cost, I don’t know myself”. It’s music to make you feel as though you’re the leading role in a romantic drama.

Frontman, Josh Edwards began as London-based solo musician before studying guitar in Spain and the Andean (mini-classical guitar) in Bolivia to bring home together authentic influences and elements of Andalusian and Latin music and is every bit the entrancing artist you imagine he would be live.

FRIDAY’S highlights…

Ten Fé 

Ten Fe 05; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

Generating an epic wave at TGE was the alternative London via Birmingham five-piece, Ten Fé, who have really come into their own and hinted to even greater things with their very subtle teases of new music – we cannot wait for them to drop their second album! At a capacity, Black Lion, these brought colour to everyones cheeks.

 

Clearly meant for bigger stages and with only a snapshot of set, it was moments like these where you could feel impressions were being made; turning heads as they glided from song-to-song seamlessly and between lead vocalists, framing their varied influences and styles, with hints of Americana (‘Elodie’), Gospel (‘Twist Your Arm’) even a Middle Eastern vibe (‘Make Me Better’).

Ten Fe 03; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

Get familiar with Ten Fé’s debut album: ‘Hit The Light’ this summer before you plunge into their much anticipated follow-up album released ahead of their biggest ever headlining UK tour this autumn.

Gengahr 

Gengahr 02; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

To see out the evening we caught the ‘special guests’ Gengahr steal the hearts of The Haunt. Everyone was webbed into a lair of dreamlike haziness of their sunshine soaked guitar-rock enhanced by Felix Bushe’s haunting falsetto vocals.

Their garage-rock anthems from 2014 album, The Dream Outside such as ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ and ‘Heroine’ felt nostalgic and no doubt got the crowds joining in harmony. It was soothing lo-fuzz guitar-rock that reminded us of forgotten gems – their latest album of which, we’re currently tuning into!

Gengahr 01; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

 

SATURDAY’S highlights…

Marsicans 

Marscians 01; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright).jpg

 

Never mind adjusting to the darkness of Komedia as the Marsicans were beaming, attracting the crowds with their vibrancy. This Leeds four-piece radiated with relentless energy and were so genuinely elated, bouncing about the stage that no-one could keep themselves from smiling and basking in this indoor sunshine. The kind of festival band that are aware of their power in projecting their buoyant chemistry onto crowds.

 

Marscians 02; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

Fontaines D.C 

Fontaines 02; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright).jpg

The gnarly wit of this Dublin quintet livened everyones soul with their ferocious set at Marlborough Theatre! Their strong Dublin dialect and ode to the city ensures everything Irish runs through your blood (if it doesn’t already) twinned with the perfect amount of nonchalance akin to Shane MacGowan and Mark E.Smith.

Fontaines 01; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright).jpg

The edgy, gritty drawl from lead-singer Grian provides hypnotic rhythm up against the kraut-rock influenced guitars and manic drumming creates infectious iridescence.

Having garnered early support from Steve Lamacq (BBC 6 Music) and being the feature of every major Irish publication these have picked up real momentum in their very early days. News came in last week (24/05/18) that they have signed to Partisan Recordings – everyone can see these lads are on the up!

 

 

Joshua Burnside

Joshua Burnside 02; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)
The Belfast musician who recently released his debut album, Ephrata which sits somewhere between, as Joshua told the Irish Times: “…somewhere from Belfast to Chicago via Bogota” is able to transcend this interesting suffusion of styles live.

Burnside knows exactly how to constantly keep the listener on their toes with incredible textures and experimental folk paths with elements of Irish Country and Latin Folk. It was delicately dark and romantic, touching on deeper questions about time, love and death up against the modern age. Tipping on the poetic on our favourite track ‘Hologram’: “So love glows, like the moon, Swinging low above the Atlantic, Sparkles on the choppy days, I don’t care what they say, If I have to dance alone I will”.

Joshua Burnside 03; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright)

 

David Keenan 

David Keenan 01; Rachael Crabtree; Spiral Magazine (copyright).jpgChurches are synominous with an serenity and when paired with the acoustic artists, whether that be solo or band, there is always a distinct feeling of privilege.

I hasten to use this hackneyed turn of phrase, but this very unassuming singer-songwriter from Dundalk, Ireland, is the finest example of a chap wiser beyond his years. We were completely taken in by Keenan’s worldly and poetic storytelling. His Dylan inspired socio-political commentary was no doubt enhanced by the lilt of his Irish tongue. So much maturity was expressed through the way Dublin was referenced, new and old, standing testament to his wisdom, hinting also towards a character born in another era altogther. The rising singer-songwriter shared with us a quiet understanding of the world, navigating us through the streets of Ireland’s capital “…meeting underneath the GPO tower at sunset”.

When Keenan entered the stage he began with a humble reference to that day’s gigs across Brighton’s churches; “I’m not sure what He’s trying to tell me up there..” glancing up wistfully to the heavens. Everything was very natural and wry, not least mature; referencing his travels across on the boat to live in Liverpool for some years, that taught him a lot; stories gained from busking shaped the man he inevitably is, whilst remaining distinctly and proudly Irish; “…Sorry there, just had me passport sticking in my backside…” as he patriotically hit it to the floor the golden harp gave him his spotlight.

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

Photography: Rachael Crabtree and Elizabeth Andrade (@LizzyEA)

 

The Noise Figures // Telepath Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

The Noise Figures; Photo Credit; Fotis Milionis.jpg

If you’re chasing down a new Psych-Blues band to add to your playlist then we recommend checking out The Noise Figures and their slow burning offering of a third album: ‘Telepath’. The Greek two-piece, George Nikas (vocals, drums) and Stamos Bamparis (guitar, vocals) combine intoxicating guitar riffs and tribal drumming that dapples in the bluesy grittiness, echoing the brilliance of Drenge.

You are destined to enjoy their fuzzy vertigo running through the album which has paved way to a heavier album than their previous two – their manically satisfying guitar work, shifting in its patterns are best highlighted on tracks: Telepath, Taste Like Time and Lethargy. Like me, you might even detect a slight 90’s edge, circa Madchester, running through some of their tracks, at times vocally (though I might be alone on this one) I definitely detect a reminiscence of The Charlatans.

All the while, you will be quickly taken in by the dark and primitive spirit of their raw guitar and drums, sitting somewhere between The Black Angels and BRMC, giving this two-piece not only an addictive edge but essentially flagging The Noise Figures as a band to watch!

The Athens-based rock duo released their third album on March 2nd via Inner Ear Records – tune into Telepath below…

THE NOISE FIGURES: WEBSITE // FACEBOOK// TWITTER //

INSTAGRAM

WORDS: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

Tango With Lions // The Light // Album Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

THE LIGHT_DIGITAL; Tango With Lions; copyright

Nailing the mystical, and often minimal, is the Greek Singer-Songwriter, Katerina Papachristou and her band, Tango With Lions. Since we first heard their recent single: ‘Proof of Desire’ (lifted from their latest album: ‘The Light’) we were eagerly anticipating the records release. One of Greece’s biggest indie/folk bands mark their return with this third studio album, and on first listen the variation of styles strikes you as altogether madly intriguing and absolutely one of a kind.

The sparseness intensifies the records nine short stories of introspection. Darkness and light coexist steadily, sometimes more excessively than the other, better still, they are never alone, and that, is what gives it beauty – the acceptance of this reflects life itself, opposites cannot live without one another and nor can a decent record! By recognising the value and power of each other (dark and light) the listener attunes, and subsequently, bonds more closely to the music.

Tango With Lions; Press Shot; Eftychia Vlachou, copyright

Katerina Papachristou, the master-mind behind, Tango With Lions. Photographer: Eftychia Vlachou

Nine songs, each different in style, reaffirm that Tango With Lions’ music hinges on atmosphere, created through imagery and poetry. Tipping slowly on the albums eerily unsettling second track: ‘Proof of Desire’ and fully realised on the penultimate track, ‘The Go-Betweens’ is the symmetry with PJ Harvey – similarities lie within the eccentric art form of creating short stories through song craft and experimental instrumentalism.

The timing of this records release could not have arrived at a more apt time either – the light of New Year light nearly shadowed by the mid-winter bleakness until the irrepressible enthusiasm for the year ahead conquers all doubts of uncertainty: “…hush now between Winter and Spring…” Papachristou whispers on the penultimate track.

Concluding, with what sounds like, a cassette of French poetry playing alongside an accordion busker, alluring in it’s warnings and wisdom – this record grows on you as your intrigue unconsciously hits replay.

‘The Light’ was released via Inner Ear Records on 19th January 2018.

Tango With Lions // Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Words: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

The War On Drugs // A Deeper Understanding // Album Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

WOD-album art

It’s a Sunday evening and the feeling is ripe to finally disappear into The War On Drugs latest album: ‘A Deeper Understanding’ the long anticipated fourth studio album, and follow-up to, 2014’s ‘Lost in the Dream’. With a band that take a few leaf’s from America’s ‘Great Bards’; Dylan, Petty and Springsteen, the Philadelphian psych-rock band have been a longstanding favourite of mine. From start to finish where inevitable emotions run high, I’m addicted to this sadness, truth comes to light as I listen in, wholly invested in Granduciel’s every line; melancholy poetry that reaches it’s peak on Thinking Of A Place. The record is mediative in it’s dualism within a monologue style, a narrator questioning themselves, their relationships, love and life. The dual/duel within this character is soon at a peace, they are reunited with themself, life is reaffirmed: “Hold my hand as something turns to me; turns me into you” (Thinking Of A Place).

The soothing effect is achieved through the resonation with the listener attuned to the ‘deeper understanding’, we feel this confusion between love and pain, a perfect negotiation between light and darkness; “Is this love? Are you sure? Is it something you can control? I’m in chains, I’m in love” (In Chains). And it’s the pathos that provides the warmth here. A perfect musical antithesis arrives with the pensive piano melody of Knocked Down punctuated by the upbeat driving synths delivered by Nothing To Find.

As the journey sets out, there is initial distrust in love: “I don’t believe in the real thing” (Up All Night) to the closing song’s cathartic and reinstalled faith: “singing all my songs in the pouring rain…I can feel the change” (You Don’t Have To Go). Irony resides within an album of very much heartbreak and scepticism; this is in every essence a romantic record, akin to Ten Fé’s ‘Hit The Light’ in it’s arresting balance of chiaroscuro; love/light and dark/pain. Timeless. All our inner confusions are dissolved and a greater sense of self is achieved.

The War On Drugs: Website // Twitter // Facebook

‘A Deeper Understanding’ was released on 25/08/17 via Atlantic Records.

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

Pat Dam Smyth // Goodbye Berlin // Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

PDS_PressShots_2017_Six07 Press

Without knowing anything about Pat Dam Smyth before listening to Goodbye Berlin it’s obvious that there’s a darkness here that comes from experience. For those familiar, Smyth’s music hinges on his direct experiences of growing-up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The imagery coming through Smyth’s music draws on the ‘reality’ of life, so to speak, the other side of that carpet. All the while, Smyth creates something altogether filmic. The vision might be dark, but there’s certainly enough progressive-rock magnetism running through Goodbye Berlin to bring you around to another full-circle listen. We listen in, to a storyteller akin to a Grimm’s Brother, to a narrator that sometimes uses female protagonists as way of either symbolising escape from violent situations (‘Juliette’) or life, as with ‘Emily’ where there’s a dual side to this actors life, where ‘performance’ and ‘truth’ are mirrored “…She dances on the screen, but nothing’s ever as it seems..”. What Smyth gives us, as with all his material, is what feels a cathartic release of divulging life’s sinister crevices. Like Cohen, Smyth is a poet and singer-songwriter, offering us words of wisdom worth lending your ears to.

Pat Dam SmythWebsite // Twitter // Facebook

Having enjoyed support from Cerys Matthews and Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music you too can soak up the ‘Goodbye Berlin’ EP (released August 11th)! Listen and buy physical copies now!

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

Lucy Rose // Live Review // Rio Cinema

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

IMG_3239.jpg

There’s not many gigs where you find yourself sitting in cinema seats and with the own artists brand of tea in hand, then again, Lucy Rose is a different cut of jib altogether. Tonight, headlining Rio Cinema, Dalston, on the day Lucy’s latest (impressive 3rd) record: ‘Something’s Changing’ made BBC 6Music’s Record Of The Day, we were treated to an evening of heart-warming stories and songs, accompanied by a showreel of her South American documentary. The endearing footage comes back full circle to her latest record which was shaped by these life changing experiences of living in the homes of her South American fanbase and performing at gigs booked on their behalf. The journey moved her to feel challenged by a surge of emotions incomparable to any other life experiences, bringing to light the desire to want to continue music. Music has been a challenge as of late, Lucy share with us tonight, and how it “has been a huge beacon of hope that labels like Communion exist”.

 

Between songs Lucy allows everyone to feel at home, it’s her openness in confessing to occasional nervousness (“I tend to worry a lot”) almost welling up at certain song intro’s, and making jokes about her husband’s upcoming tambourine moment that “when practicing in the living room last night he wouldn’t stop moaning: ‘I don’t want to do it’,” made tonight a special footing for artist and audience alike. Lucy’s humility, sensitivity and quiet confidence rang true to our nodding and grinning faces, and it proved hard to ignore the warmth of familiarity that brought me back to Stornoway and their likeminded fanbase.

“This next song is called ‘Moirai’, named after the Greek Goddess of fate. The older I get I realise that it isn’t fate, it just isn’t fair”. The emotions are palpable as peoples stories and songs alike unravel, and it’s only having seen her documentary and when we hear these experiences tonight, that the latest material becomes unlocked. Track: “I Can’t Change It All’ is a testament to this: “…I couldn’t believe his story, his life. We took him on a train. Little things…I remember him saying how this was the best day of his life. I thought about saving up to help him but thought it was a bit weird. So I decided to write him a song. He was obsessed with London too, so we invited him to stay with us. I’ll never forget receiving this call from customs, explaining how they had a boy who was convinced he was living with a singer who he booked a gig for back home in Paraguay and that she had invited him to live with them for 2 weeks”.

Lucy delivers humour with a poignancy; laughable moments are simultaneously   pensive. Track: ‘Second Chance’ was written in light of her Aunt-in-Law’s line of thought: “Christmas, reminiscing over photos she said to me ‘I would never have thought that was a nice photo, yet as an old woman I can say that’ – that really stuck with me”. We complete the omission, and by the gig’s finale with old favourite ‘Shiver’, we walk away more self-assured and with a renewed sense of carpe diem.

Something’s Changing was released 07/07/17 via Communion Records.

LucyRose-SomethingsChanging-AlbumArt

Lucy Rose: Website // Twitter // Facebook

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

The Great Escape 2017 Review

Live Reviews, The Great Escape 2017, Uncategorized

DSCF0205new

To say we were excited for The Great Escape was a bit of an understatement, the festival is of course a chance to vibe off some of the best new music out there, so what better excuse for a weekend away by the seaside, the rain just added to the beautiful backdrop, naturally. Just off the train with our cases in tow, we narrowly missed out on the first gig of the day, Crimsons, 1pm at the Hope & Ruin. Diverting through Jubilee Square for our ticket to wristband exchange, we began flicking through the guide working out our gig circuit; a maze that very quickly became a welcoming part of daily routine.

Despite the odds against Wyvern Lingo on this years ambitious outdoor Fender stage – the incessant, heavy rain and delayed sound check wasn’t felt by the audience, we huddled together and everything was kept light with the Dubliner’s sense of humour. We were even treated to an exclusive premiere of their new single ‘I Love You Sadie’.

Follow Wyvern Lingo on Facebook and Twitter

IMG_2966 copy.jpg

Flyte at The Fidlers Elbow; Photographer: Rachael Crabtree

A last minute secret show announcement via Flyte’s Twitter arrived in perfect timing for shelter – so we headed to a pub we wouldn’t have otherwise known – The Fidlers Elbow, home to a fantastic PA, and a quaint setting to boot. The lighting and mirrors gave a beautiful backdrop to the quartets quasi-acoustic set. The intimate space housed their unbeatable harmonies allowing us that moment of heart warming solitude. Warming us into their set with the best cover of Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ we’ve ever heard, followed by their timeless ‘Faithless’ before touching on some exciting new material, hinting to the hotly tipped upcoming debut.

Follow Flyte on Facebook and Twitter

Our latter accidental find, L.A Salami at the Unitarian Church was invitation enough after several alterations in gig timings and venues, and such a pleasant surprise too. Having recognised the singer from a Burberry Acoustic session on YouTube, as ‘When The Poet Sings’ began…It was incredibly well received; the intimate setting was silenced by his political poetry – a pensive wordsmith we look forward to revisiting a future full length show of, no doubt.

Follow L.A Salami on Facebook and Twitter

Penny Police; Will Steadman

Penny Police at The Marlborough Theatre; Photographer: Will Steadman

With a recent Line of Best Fit feature, and a storming Record of The Day piece under her belt, Nordic synth-pop wonder Penny Police (Marie Fjeldsted) took to the stage of the Marlborough Theatre with a warm wind of expectation rising around her, and she didn’t disappoint for a second. Accompanied by fellow Danes, producer Aske Bode and Copenhagen’s go to percussionist Asker Bjørk, Marie held the audience in the palm of her hand like they were a mountain of rare feathers. It was like witnessing a jigsaw’s final piece falling into place – it’s the second time we’ve seen Penny Police in the last 6 months, and the difference was astonishing. That she’s a writer and recording artist of upmost integrity has never been in question; but this was a 30-minute moment of an artist realising she’s about to hit bigger things. As one person put it, her delicate but captivating voice “could tease the hydrogen atoms from a teardrop” – melodies that flout gravity, and a personality that is so genuine, that it’s impossible to imagine her not making records for the next 20 years. As a fan of her earlier work, it’s a wonderful thing to see how this artist keeps getting better and better. New single ‘Fool Like Me’ is sublime. The song she closed the set with, ‘Don’t Ask Me About Love’, is crying out to be a follow up… fingers crossed!

Follow Penny Police on Facebook and Twitter

Ten Fé gave such sublime set at The Arch, check out our full review here!

Friday 

When we finally climbed the last stair to the attic of The Prince Albert, we could barely squeeze in the side staff door for the Irish Showcase. Unfortunately our entry was only permitted towards the end of Ailbhe Reddy’s set who was every part the singer-songwriter we had hoped for, such a distinctly powerful vocal range, we were in awe of tracks: ‘Distrust’ and ‘Relent’.

Follow Ailbhe Reddy on Facebook and Twitter

In quick succession Marc O’Reilly arrived. Now we knew he was going to be great, but woah, when O’Reilly & Co arrived we were completely overwhelmed. We were talking about this set for days after. You genuinely can’t beat the Irish (not being biased or anything here) but from their innate homeliness that cushioned us at The Prince Albert coupled with their natural wit and earthiness and complete lack of seriousness. In-between songs O’Reilly shared his car hire mishap that Ryanair refused to refund, forcing them to rebook the three new dates with another. Later extending the Ryanair banter as he introduced us to the band…“So as you can see that’s my brother on keys, same receding hairline as myself, another thing to blame Ryanair on”. The trio’s synchronised drums, keys and guitar, maintained off the scale rhythms, impeccable timings which accompanied O’Reilly’s commanding bluesy voice!

Follow Marc O’Reilly on Facebook and Twitter

DSCF0101new

Strong Asian Mothers at Sticky Mikes; Photographer: Rachael Crabtree

By the evening, we were on edge to catch the iridescent genre hip-hopping R’n’B Strong Asian Mothers who filled a capacity Sticky Mike’s. They sure knew how to shake a few souls, delivering the festivals most danceable of sets with their refreshing brass and electronica. Opening with a Queen cover “because who doesn’t love a bit of Queen?” Bringing to the table sharp wit and unabashed tomfoolery was enough to win our hearts times over – highlight moments were: ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Sober’.

Follow Strong Asian Mothers on Facebook and Twitter

Skipping across to Jubilee Square, the Belfast trio, Beauty Sleep, drew us in with their dreamy pop brilliance on the BBC Music Stage. We loved their fuzzy bass lines and warming chorus effects on the guitar. Bouncing back when their keyboardist broke her cable and none-standing nailing their infectious melodies and psych-pop hooks!

Follow Beauty Sleep on Facebook and Twitter

The Unitarian Church each time offered a sanctuary of momentary pause in time and on this time around a special mention goes to the zany and mythological H.Hawkline who gave a really delicate stripped back performance here tonight. His voice and guitar alone accentuated the coyly romantic Belle and Sebastian-esque lyrics. Concluding with a delicate finale ‘My Mine’ hinted to the masterpiece that awaits us; latest record: ‘I Romanticise’ is released via Heavenly Records today (Friday 2nd June).

Follow H.Hawkline on Twitter

DSCF0127new

The Districts at The East Wing; Photographer: Rachael Crabtree

Somehow nearly missing out on The Districts at The East Wing, we scrambled in, weaving in-between the masses to get a piece of the visceral rock. It was a much needed moment to bask in some decent guitar rock since Ten Fé, maybe it was me, but scattered about the daytime shows there was a lot of music on the brink of commercial pop. The Districts harness heavy guitars, moody and terrifically lush reverb-riffs. After so much recent airtime on BBC6Music, of latest single ‘Ordinary Day’ it was stunning to see them smash it live!

Follow The Districts on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday

Bryde at The Komedia was one of todays highlights for the sheer versatility in voice and guitar. Describing the artist as an folk singer-songwriter to the chap beside us, who popped by the venue on a whim, I quickly realised didn’t really hit the mark – Bryde is an exception to alt-folk, channelling more fiercer rock, and while at times, delicate, is far from the assuming fragile folk artist. The multiple textures created by the three-piece were as unpredictable as compelling.

Follow Bryde on Facebook and Twitter

Flamingods were absolute legends, and very fortunately from Bryde’s set we could slip next door to catch them at an overflowing Komedia Studio. The contagious psychedelic vibes were wildly exotic and of their own magical making – as many alternating rhythms as interchanging instruments. Driving melodies that were constantly changing and effortless in their summery soundscapes, that had us on high for days after…

Follow Flamingods on Facebook and Twitter

DSCF0168new.jpg

Flamingods at Komedia Studio; Photographer: Rachael Crabtree

Early queuing was much needed for the treat of Babeheaven at The Haunt where the mesmerising vocals and sparse arrangements really stood them apart from the vast electronic acts that saturated the festival who had busy backing, that much brilliance was lost. These however, knew how to punctuate their synths, drums that were unfussy in approach and maintained distinct vocals, all the while subtle, soulful. ’Moving On’ and ‘Friday Sky’ were wonderfully hazy moments, rewinding and moving.

Follow Babeheaven on Facebook and Twitter 

By Saturday night we were in much need of our prog-rock hit, which came courtesy of the tropicdelica quartet, Black Peaches, an exciting new project of Rob Smoughton, best known as a member of Hot Chip. Unable to move past the coffee counter (not for want of coffee) at Cafe Plenty we found ourselves staring around the room and upon faces of those in awe of what we could hear, and just about see, in reflection on the glass window. Their set was relentless, unbelievably infectious grooves, literally one song glided simultaneously into another – it was one heavenly trip…Fire and Water Sign was a completely sublime set closer.

 Follow Black Peaches on Facebook and Twitter

Glass glided in to steal the night, giving us the best finale you could wish for. As flawless as ever, drawing everyone in with their spellbinding dramatic pop. It’s exceptional how much their sound has changed since their Union Chapel show, whilst that performance was light and synthy, tonight was underpinned by a darker undercurrent, shaped by the heavier, distorted guitars and a drummer in replacement of the synths. Lead vocalist, Jessica Winter, altogether wielded a punk persona close to Siouxsie and Banshees – seriously, we will never cease loving Glass!

Follow GLASS on Twitter 

IMG_3032

GLASS at The Cafe Plenty; Photographer: Rachael Crabtree

Writers: Rachael Crabtree: @eccentric_eejit Will Steadman@steadman_will and Elizabeth Andrade@LizzyyEA

Bear’s Den // Live Review // Hammersmith

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

London folk-pop duo, Bear’s Den, captured my attention earlier this year when they performed at a tiny charity fundraiser in St Stephen’s Church, Shepherd’s Bush, with their friends Mumford and Sons and fellow Communion artists Daughter and Michael Kiwanuka. They left the stage, huddled in the aisle with guitars and performed, to a silenced audience, a beautiful unplugged rendition of their 2014 track ‘Bad Blood’. I stood a few feet away and listened as their lush three-part harmony reverberated; naturally amplified by the old church’s hollow nave. It was the stand-out song of the night. And while I think it might be challenging to replicate that special and intimate moment tonight, given the vast Art Deco auditorium of the Hammersmith Apollo – bursting with 5,000 people – there’s certainly no dampening the atmosphere as they emerge on-stage; it’s vibrant and excitable.

Bear’s Den, made up of Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones emerged to prominence in 2014 with the release of their debut Islands, which established them as interesting and serious contenders in the modern folk revival. Although, their sound has developed remarkably since then – bringing in Americana influences and bigger, more spacious arrangements – they’ve done well to stay true to their roots as they’ve evolved and moved onto that difficult second album. Tonight’s sold-out show is the final UK night on a 19-date tour of the UK and Europe, and Davie and Jones are accompanied by touring member, Christof van der Ven, and a talented trio of multi-instrumentalists who provide an extra level of colour and depth with brass, keys and a solid rhythm section.

They open confidently with ‘Red Earth & Pouring Rain’, the 80’s tinged title track from last year’s aforementioned second LP. New single ‘Greenwood’s Bethlehem’ is delicate although it’s the lovely lift of ‘Isaac’, which provides the first of many sing-along choruses to get stuck into. The poignant and stripped-back ‘Berlin’, a wonderful blend of interweaving guitars and emotive horns, warms our hearts.

They plough through material at quite a pace and it’s not until over half way through the 90-minute set when Davie finally takes a breather and opens up: “tonight far exceeds any ambition we had as a band…we are lost for words”. They weren’t being ambivalent, they were humbled. And that sums up Bear’s Den quite nicely – they are genuine; playing and writing with a level of authenticity that’s proving harder to find these days. Saying that, if anyone can nurture and encourage that in their artists, it’s Communion.

The popular ‘Above the Clouds of Pompeii’ rounds off their set before they re-emerge for a three-track encore, which includes Bad Blood (although just slightly amplified this time) and the crowd pleasing ‘Agape’.

You can see Bear’s Den at Reading and Leeds Festival in August.

Check out their new single ‘Greenwood’s Bethlehem’:

Red Earth & Pouring Rain is out now on Communion.

Bear’s Den: Website // Twitter // Facebook

Writer and Photographer: Will Steadman@steadman_will