Two Door Cinema Club are an indie rock band from Bangor and Donaghadee in County Down, Northern Ireland. The band formed in 2007 and is composed of three members: Alex Trimble (vocals, rhythm guitar, beats, synths), Sam Halliday (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Kevin Baird (bass, synths, backing vocals).
The band's debut album, Tourist History, was released on 1 March 2010 by French independent record label Kitsuné Music. In the United States, where the band are signed to Glassnote Records, the album was released on 27 April 2010. Tourist History was selected for the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year (2010) the following year.
Dressed in glam clothing, wearing heavy eyeliner, and shouting political rhetoric, the Manic Street Preachers emerged in 1991 from their hometown of Blackwood, Wales, as self-styled "Generation Terrorists." Fashioning themselves after the Clash and the Sex Pistols, the Manics were on a mission, intending to restore revolution to rock & roll at a time when Britain was dominated by trancey shoegazers and faceless, trippy acid house. Their self-consciously dangerous image, leftist leanings, crunching hard rock, and outsider status made them favorites of the British music press and helped them build a rabidly dedicated following.
For much of the band's early career, it was impossible to separate the rhetoric from the music and even from the members themselves -- the group's image was forever associated with lyricist/guitarist Richey James carving the words "4 Real" into his arm during an early interview. As the British pop music climate shifted toward Brit-pop in the wake of Suede, the Manics didn't achieve fame, but they did attain notoriety. Legions of followers emerged, including many bands that formed the core of the short-lived "new wave of new wave" movement.
But as the group climbed toward stardom, the story didn't get simpler -- it got weirder. James' behavior became increasingly bizarre, culminating on the group's harrowing 1994 album The Holy Bible. Early in 1995, James disappeared, leaving no trace of his whereabouts. The remaining trio carried on with 1996's Everything Must Go, the album that established them as superstars in England, yet that came at the expense of the arrogant, renegade gender-bending and revolutionary rhetoric that had earned them their initial fan base. It was a bizarre, unpredictable journey for a group that once proclaimed that all bands should break up after releasing one album.
James Dean Bradfield (vocals, guitar), Nicky Wire (born Nick Jones; bass), Sean Moore (drums), and Flicker (rhythm guitar) formed Betty Blue in 1986. Within two years' time, Flicker had left the band and the group had changed its name to the Manic Street Preachers. In the summer of 1988, a fellow student at Swansea University, Richey James (born Richey Edwards), who had previously been the group's driver, joined the band as rhythm guitarist. They began recording demos, eventually releasing the single "Suicide Alley" in August. "Suicide Alley" boasted a cover replicating that of the Clash's first album, which indicated the sound of the group at the time -- equal parts punk and hard rock. A year after the single's release, NME gave it an enthusiastic review, citing James' press release -- "We are as far away from anything in the '80s as possible."
Indeed, the Manics were one of the key bands of the early '90s, and their career didn't get rolling until 1991. The New Art Riot EP appeared in the summer of 1990, followed by a pair of defining singles -- "Motown Junk" and "You Love Us" -- in early 1991 on Heavenly Records. The singles and the Manics' incendiary live shows, where they wrote slogans on their shirts, created a strong buzz in the music press, which only escalated that May. James gave an interview with Steve Lamacq for NME in which Lamacq questioned the group's authenticity; after an argument, James responded by carving the words "4 Real" on his arm. The incident became a sensation, attracting numerous magazine articles, as well as a major-label contract with Sony. Many observers interpreted the action as a simple stunt, but over the next few years it became clear that the self-mutilation was the first indication of James' mental instability.
"Stay Beautiful" was the Manics' first release for Sony, and it climbed into the British Top 40 late in the summer of 1991, followed early in 1992 by a re-recorded "You Love Us," which peaked in the Top 20. By the time they released their much-hyped debut album, Generation Terrorists, in February 1992 -- a record the band claimed would outsell Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction -- they had already cultivated a large and devoted following, many of whom emulated their glammy appearance and read the same novels and philosophers the group name-dropped. The Manics had been claiming that they would disband following the release of their debut, yet it became clear by the fall, when a non-LP cover of "Suicide Is Painless (Theme from M*A*S*H)" became their first Top Ten hit, that they would continue performing. Nicky Wire and Richey James had become notorious for their banter throughout the British music press, and while it earned them countless articles, it also painted the group into a corner. Comparatively polished and mainstream compared to its predecessor, Gold Against the Soul, the group's second album, appeared in the summer of 1993 to mixed reviews.
Shortly after the release of Gold Against the Soul, the Manics' support began to slide as the group began to splinter amidst internal tensions, many of them stemming from James. Nicky Wire ran into trouble over on-stage remarks about R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe dying of AIDS, but Richey James was in genuine trouble. Suffering from deepening alcoholism and anorexia, James entered prolonged bouts of depression, highlighted by incidents of self-mutilation -- most notoriously at a concert in Thailand, when he appeared with his chest slashed open by knives a fan gave him. Early in 1994, he entered a private clinic, and the band had to perform a number of concerts as a trio. James' mental illness surfaced on the group's third album, The Holy Bible. Reportedly recorded in a red-light district in Wales, The Holy Bible was a bleak, disillusioned record that earned considerable critical acclaim upon its late-summer release in 1994.
Although the Manics' critical reputation was restored and James was playing with the band, even giving numerous interviews with the press, all was not well. Prior to the American release of The Holy Bible and the band's ensuing tour, James checked out of his London hotel on February 1, 1995, drove to his Cardiff apartment, and disappeared, leaving behind his passport and credit cards. Within the week he was reported missing and his abandoned car was found on the Severen Bridge outside of Bristol, a spot notorious for suicides. By the summer, the police had presumed he was dead. Broken but not beaten, the remaining Manics decided to carry on as a trio, working the remaining lyrics James left behind into songs.
The Manic Street Preachers returned in December 1995 opening for the Stone Roses. In May 1996, they released Everything Must Go, which was preceded by the number two single "A Design for Life." Their most direct and mature record to date, Everything Must Go was greeted with enthusiastic reviews, and the Manics became major stars in England. Throughout 1996, the band toured constantly, and most U.K. music publications named Everything Must Go Album of the Year. Despite their growing success, several older fans expressed distress at the group's increasingly conservative image, yet that didn't prevent the album from going multi-platinum.
Everything Must Go didn't just go multi-platinum -- it established the Manics as superstars throughout the world. Everywhere except America, that is. The album received a belated release in the U.S., appearing in August of 1996, and the group attempted an American tour, opening for Oasis. It should have led to increased exposure, but a blowup between the Gallaghers led to Oasis canceling the entire tour, leaving the Manics at square one. They returned to the U.K. and toured, receiving a number of awards at the end of the year. They didn't deliver their much-anticipated follow-up, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, until August of 1998. The album was another blockbuster success in the U.K., Europe, and Asia, but it didn't receive a release in America, since the Manics were in the process of leaving Epic in the U.S.
For a while, there was simply no interest in the Manics by American labels, but another multi-platinum album and numerous awards in Britain revived interest. The band signed with Virgin, which issued This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in the U.S. during June 1999 -- nearly a year after its initial release. Know Your Enemy followed in 2001, although it was not well-received, and the band moved to Sony for British distribution of 2004's Lifeblood. Both vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield and bassist Nicky Wire followed this release with solo albums, and then reconvened in 2007 to record the edgier, punk-influenced Send Away the Tigers with producer Dave Eringa. After its release, the band quickly set to work on another album, using Richey James' abandoned lyrics as inspiration. "All 13 songs on the new record feature lyrics left to us by Richey," the Manics wrote on their website in early 2009. "The brilliance and intelligence of the lyrics dictated that we had to finally use them." Titled Journal for Plague Lovers, the album was recorded on analog tape by veteran engineer Steve Albini and released that May. Postcards from a Young Man, the band's tenth studio album, followed in 2010.
After releasing a compilation called National Treasures: The Complete Singles in the fall of 2011, the Manics released a super-deluxe 20th Anniversary edition of Generation Terrorists in 2012. Meanwhile, the band plugged away in the studio, working on a ludicrously ambitious project tentatively titled 70 Songs of Hatred and Failure. At one point they despaired of simply having written too much material, before hitting on the idea of releasing two very different albums. The first, a folky, almost entirely acoustic, emotionally raw effort entitled Rewind the Film, appeared in the fall of 2013, and the second, the "spiky" and Krautrock-inspired Futurology, was slated for May 2014.
A documentary on the Manics, entitled Escape from History, arrived in 2017, followed by the full-length Resistance Is Futile in April 2018. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
Annie Mac’s career as a globally renowned DJ and broadcaster goes from strength to strength. Now Radio 1's ambassador for new music, the successor to Zane Lowe and John Peel, Annie has consolidated her position in the music industry as one of its most powerful tastemakers. Annie presents a primetime weekday evening show on Radio 1, while maintaining huge success as a live DJ in demand from headlining festivals to playing the world’s best clubs.
Annie's AMP live events series has grown from humble beginnings at the small third room in London's Fabric nightclub, to curating stages at some of the world's biggest festivals from Lovebox to Creamfields in the UK, to Ultra in Miami and Dalt Vila in Ibiza and a Coachella festival pool party in Palm Springs. AMP has also embarked on nationwide tours in both the U.K and the U.S hosting events in London, Paris and New York. Not to mention Annie’s very own AMP 'Lost and Found' festival in Malta, now in its fourth year.
Fusing indie rock melody and attitude with dance rhythm, Reverend & the Makers were formed by vocalist and songwriter Jon McClure, who at the age of 25 was already a fixture on the music scene in Sheffield, England. Previously a member of the short-lived bands Judan Suki and 1984, McClure had a reputation in Sheffield as both a songwriter and a poet, and was something of a mentor to Alex Turner, who would become an overnight sensation as the leader of the group Arctic Monkeys (Turner mentions McClure's 1984 in his song "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor").
Indie rock band Circa Waves was formed in Liverpool in May 2013 by guitarist and singer Keiran Shuddall, who had decided to "knuckle down" and commit fully to music after spending years in a succession of no-hope garage bands. After writing a batch of songs and putting some demos online, he recruited second guitarist Joe Falconer, bassist Sam Rourke, and drummer Sian Plummer, and the band undertook a few short tours of the U.K. and Europe. Their melodic, propulsive rock sound, heavily inspired by the Strokes and also often compared to the Vaccines, was well-received by audiences, and such a buzz built around them that they were soon offered a deal with Transgressive Records, erstwhile home of Foals, the Subways, and Mystery Jets.
Dead Oceans is happy to announce the debut album from Britain’s most hotly tipped band Shame. Songs of Praise is out 12th January, 2018 and the video for new single ‘One Rizla’ is available to watch now:
Shot on a farm in Lancashire, the video sees the young band’s first, moderately successful and entertaining foray into farm-work, with a less than amused patriarch overseeing their work. It’s directly related to the album artwork for Songs of Praise with singer Charlie Steen stating ’We wanted to turn the album artwork into the video for One Rizla, highlighting our vulnerability as individuals whilst paying homage to Withnail & I simultaneously.”
The Futureheads breathe frantically once more.
After our a cappella album Rant!, strapping the electric guitars back on seemed suddenly alien. A hiatus was needed: around 2000 days it seems...
Over the past 12 months we've been chipping away at our 6th album. It is the culmination of every ounce of energy we have: a return, we hope, to bombastic, daring, creative righteousness. We are almost finished. We are in love with this record. We believe in it.
We can't wait to see you again.
The Futureheads are coming soon.
Becky Hill is finally ready to step into her own spotlight. After a handful of hugely successful collaborations – with the likes of Wilkinson, Rudimental, Matoma and MK – she now finds herself a bona fide solo artist, front and centre of her own music. But it’s been a “long old slog” to get here.
Since she was a child, Becky’s innate talent for music has gotten her noticed – from wowing the judges at a youth club talent show when she was 11, to singing to punters at the end of pub shifts (“I was a shit barmaid, but my boss used to get me to sing,”). It wasn’t until she was 18, though, that she was noticed outside of her small Worcestershire town of Bewdley – when she took part in BBC talent show The Voice.
Now, she feels like a completely different person to the teenager who won over Jessie J – and the nation – in 2012. “I treated The Voice like six months of university,” she says. The show, which saw her sing in front of millions of people each week, was a crash course in performing, confirming that music was her future – but Becky knew the real work would come when she left the show. As soon as that happened, she gathered up the contacts she’d made and set about organising meetings, travelling between Bewdley and London (a sign of the dogged determination she still has to this day) to secure a manager. “We worked for about two years on my sound,” she says. “He let me have artistic vision with it. At the beginning, I didn’t know what I wanted to be.”
The drum and bass and dance music collaborations helped her with that, allowing her to hone her songwriting skills (she co-wrote every song she featured on) while she figured out the kind of solo artist she wanted to become. One of those songs, her Oliver Heldens collaboration Gecko (Overdrive), reached No.1 in the UK. Another, Wilkinson’s Afterglow was a top 10 hit as well as topping the UK dance chart and attaining Gold certification. “I wanted to make a classic drum and bass record that would still be played years after it came out, and I feel like with Afterglow, I achieved that,” she says. “I’ve been at raves when it’s been played, and I go mental. I usually run up to the DJ booth a little worse for wear and ask if I can sing it.” But Becky always knew “there was a ceiling writing top lines and dance music. Plus, I’ve really always written music for me instead of other people.” Now, at 24, with a new record deal and a debut solo album on the horizon, that’s exactly what she’s doing. “It’s taken about six years,” she says, “but I'm ready as an artist now and want to get my experiences out there."
The album, which she worked on with the likes of MNEK, MJ Cole and Two Inch Punch, reflects Becky’s emotional journey throughout the past few years – both lyrically and sonically. “I’ve always been very literal in the way I’ve written,” she explains, “so how I see it will be how I sing it.” Inspired both by mid-2000s dance music and the likes of Robyn, Ellie Goulding, and Bon Iver, Becky makes heart-on-sleeve music with a beat you can dance to. “Over the course of this album, I wanted to tell a story of going from heartbreak in Bewdley, in the middle of fucking nowhere, to being in London where I was so lost at first, but found friends and love and became really happy. I wanted it to feel like a time capsule that I could listen back to in 40 years’ time and be like, ‘I know exactly how I felt.’”
Some of the album’s songs ripple with fear and hopelessness, others feel buoyant and optimistic. “I was single for six years,” she says. “I wasn’t really sleeping with anybody, I wasn’t dating anybody... I wanted to, but I couldn’t for some reason. And a lot of my songs were coming out hopeless. So when I met my boyfriend, it was the first time in my life I’d met somebody who I felt safe with. It was the most inspiring thing. All of a sudden, the songs started switching up.”
One such song is her album’s lead single, Sunrise, with its elastic beats and warm, summery electro synths. “We talk until the sunrise in the east, I’m hanging onto every single word that you say,” Becky sings, in her characteristically dusky voice. The song was written, alongside Maverick Sabre and Lost Boy, in the first six months of her relationship. “One night, me and my boyfriend were completely off our head in my flat, and we talked to each other all night until morning. I was getting to know somebody on a completely new level, I was completely taken aback.” I Could Get Used To This, a modern classic pop banger, was written even earlier in the relationship. “It was written before my fourth date, which makes me sound like a psychopath,” she laughs. “I remember sitting there with him, and he had his arm around me – and I hadn’t had anybody’s arm around me for a long ass time – and I thought, ‘Yo, I could actually get used to this.’”
It comes naturally to Becky to share her emotional intimacies in song. What comes less naturally, though, is being the face of her own music. “A few years ago, I said to my manager, ‘I want my voice to be known globally, but I want my face to be known locally.’ I was really worried that I wasn’t made of strong enough stuff to subject myself to that level of scrutiny and vulnerability. Now, I feel like I can handle everything that’s going to be thrown at me. I’m still terrified, but I’ve come too far to let this all go.”
Ultimately, it’s her willingness to admit to feeling vulnerable that makes Becky’s music so relatable. “I want people to see me as normal,” she says, “because the background I’ve come from has been very normal. I want people to relate to me, instead of me being unattainable. I want people to see me out at raves, and be like, ‘Oh, hello!’ instead of there being this disconnect.” Most of all, Becky wants people to listen to her music and feel understood. “When I used to listen to music in my bedroom, my favourite thing was when it described how I was feeling. I used to never feel alone because I had a song that knew how I felt. I want people to connect with my music like that.”
Picture the scene. Thousands upon thousands of fans gathered in one space with hands aloft, screaming
along to every word and their body shaking with adrenaline as track after track hits them like a tidal wave.
That feeling, of being wrapped up in a band who seize the euphoric and turn it into something vital and real
in front of your eyes, that feeling is what makes a band special. Emblazoned front and centre, it’s what Sea
Girls burst and pulse with - a band aiming first and foremost at being the torch-bearing sing-a-long for a
whole new generation and a band trading, at its core, in what may seem the simplest of sciences. Turn
everything up a notch, write anthems to throw yourselves into and be that soundtrack for the best nights of
Born and raised in north-west London, Georgia is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter. Her eponymous debut album was released in August 2015; written, performed, produced and recorded by Georgia in its entirety at her home-studio; it presented a very necessary new talent, one with real spirit and one that is unabashedly herself. 2019 sees a return from the Londoner, establishing herself as one of the most singular and irresistible UK pop talents.
Georgia’s music is fascinating and sharply paced, packed with injections of lightness and fun, pared with rich, bubbling melodies that makes listening to it an experience that takes you into the party, through electro-pop into R&B, and back again. Feminine without being saccharine, her deep, brooding reflections carry us through euphoria, heartache and melancholy but always with the memory of the good times.
Hailing from various parts of the UK, six-piece Sports Team met while studying at Cambridge. They’re now based in Harlesden (west London), tucked “between the McVities biscuit factory and an evangelical church.”
“With the next chapter of the band, we felt the urge to change up our sound and make something a bit more dynamic, something fresh. So we decided to take some elements of the tension, challenges and stress from the last few years and do something creative with it; music that feels new and exciting to us, that might surprise people and also confront our own expectations of what we can do. All that remains won’t be the same.” - OTHERKIN, January 2019
When you listen to Another Sky, it’s probably Catrin Vincent’s voice that’ll catch your attention first. It is a weapon – peculiar, androgynous, lurching and defiant – that she wields to beautiful, evocative effect. When Guardian music critic Caroline Sullivan saw the band perform at The Great Escape this year, she tweeted, “I'm almost dumbstruck by the singer – she has the strangest, most haunting voice I've heard in ages.”
Marsicans are a fast-rising UK indie quartet whose driving, harmony-laden sound and hard-hitting live shows are earning them a reputation as an emerging force in British music.
The Leeds band has gone from strength to strength over the last 18 months: a sold-out UK tour, BBC Radio 1 stage slots at Reading and Leeds, main tour supports to Fickle Friends, JAWS, Clean Cut Kid and US indie band Hippo Campus in the UK and Europe; an ongoing run of six singles, all supported by Radio 1 as well as New Music Friday and Apple Music playlistings. Not to mention live sessions filmed for BBC's legendary Maida Vale studios, Mahogany and Distiller, a Samsung Galaxy worldwide ad sync and tracks featured on MTV, BT Sport and the opening credits of E4's Made In Chelsea.
There is even more in store for 2019: a UK headline tour with BBC’s Abbie McCarthy in April , massive shows still to be announced, singles scheduled for February and early summer and a debut album in the works.
Man & The Echo is an eclectic and strange thing formed in Warrington in 2014, by songwriters Gaz Roberts and Joe Forshaw, Drummer Joe Bennett and Keyboardist Chris Gallagher. Sometimes referred to as “odd ball” or “quirky,” the band are currently writing their own PR materials.
Himalayas are an indie / garage rock band from Cardiff made up of James Goulbourn (drums), Mike Griffiths (Guitar and Vocals), Louis Heaps (Bass) and Joe Williams (Guitar and Vocals). The band create a very cinematic sound and style that is guaranteed to leave audiences in awe. Their heavy guitar lines, dual vocals and huge anthemic hooks hold you captivated.
Going from strength to strength and gaining fans across the globe, Himalayas have definitely made their mark on the industry within the three years of being together. In the past year they have played both Reading and Leeds, Festival no. 6, SXSW, The Great Escape, Live at Chelsea, Isle of Wight, Liverpool Calling, Festival Jalles House Rock, Somerset Rocks, Y Not, Truck, Tramlines and an array of headline shows as well as supports including Kaiser Chiefs, Gang of Youths and Marmozets.
Himalayas have racked up an impressive 10 Million plus streams on Spotify and been included in Spotify playlists such as “walk like a badass”. The band have received radio play and support from big hitters including Edith Bowman (Virgin Radio), Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1), Gordon Smart (Radio X), Greg James (BBC Radio 1), Clara Amfo and also over in the states, on KCRW.
Having just come off tour with This Feeling, including a sold out hometown show at Plug Sheffield, The Wired have been touted as a band to watch by Fred Perry Subculture and Gigslutz. Their latest single ‘Up All Night’ was Radio X Track of the Week on its release, and has received several new plays on BBC Introducing. New single ‘Stay Here’ has already received BBC Radio 1 airplay and support from Huw Stephens.
The band head out on a mini tour this February, with the Manchester date nearly sold out and the others not far behind. Having recently supported The Pigeon Detectives and nineties legends Cast, 2018 is set to be a huge year for the band, with festival slots and another big tour planned this May, including a debut European date in Paris.
Bedroom High Club are a self proclaimed ‘new age indie’ band. Nice music for nice people.
Netherlands-born, Sheffield-based LIO has taken the stage supporting acts such as Estrons, Orchards, Skinny Pelembe, Slow Club and Our Girl. In May 2018 LIO launched as a full band, further building their eclectic sound compared to the likes of Florence and the Machine and Daughter. They quickly gathered momentum on the Sheffield music scene and beyond through multiple festival appearances (Outlines, Tramlines, Y Not Festival), radio play (Amazing Radio, BBC Introducing Sheffield, Sheffield Live) and their O2 Academy Sheffield debut supporting King No-One.
Guest Singer is the project of Doncaster songwriter, Jake Cope and also consisting Paul Burdett and France Lahmar. Fixated with the presentation of the self in everyday life, Cope constructs dark party songs; anti-motivational anthems for the post-truth generation.
Mathew J Hall released his debut album ‘Unquiet Mind’ on 30 November 2018. The album is a bold fusion of dark ballads and atmospheric soundscapes, revealing an honest and powerful sense of yearning at its core. It was whilst dealing with a newly diagnosed chronic illness that Mathew found solace through his songwriting; capturing his feelings to create emotionally engaging songs. “The record takes you on a journey. It is honest, a little too honest for some. I wanted to create something not just for myself, but for others to relate to in their own lives.”
Based in Sheffield, Mathew has been a part of a number of previous bands in the city, before deciding he needed true ownership of his most personal project. He’s joined on the record by guitarist Andy Martin, drummer Joe Smith and bassist Will Hitchmough. Mathew and his band are due to play a number of dates around the UK throughout 2019.
British born Barbadian raised artist, Birdspeed, is an outstanding individual who weaves an incredible display of poetry and movement during her performances. She is the 2019 Hammer and Tongue UK National Slam Champion and currently holds the title of Manhattan Arts Festival Poet Laureate. Notable UK venue headline appearances include The Bristol Old Vic (UK) and WOMAD festival. Her artistry is also making waves internationally across US cities following performances in: New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Birdspeed has also headlined at significant US venues such as: the Bowery Poetry Club (NYC) and The African American Centre (Philadelphia).
In the last year Birdspeed also: Birdspeed wrote, recorded and filmed a poem a day for British Black History Month as a response to the lack of narratives on black British historical figures;
Performed her first play, The Firebird at the Salisbury Theatre Playhouse; Facilitated workshops in a variety of organisations including a men’s prison.
Birdspeed will be published in Bad Betty Press’ Alter Egos (September 2019) and is published in Empoword’s Words on Windrush Anthology(July 2019).
Time, death, life, living, hope: these are the big themes from which L.A. Salami has crafted his astonishing second album. Lookman Adekunle Salami is a man in his mid-twenties with a restless spirit and boundless creativity. He makes charming indie-folk, songs that turn intimate tales into epic anthems and big issues into campfire laments. His 2016 debut album Dancing With Bad Grammar introduced a daring new artist and, coming less than two years later, The City Of Bootmakers is a bold step forward. It’s a record impossibly of its time. It is L.A. Salami’s state of the nation address.
Hailing from Manchester, England, indie rock quartet the Courteeners received regular comparisons in the U.K. press to the leading lights of three previous waves of Mancunian Brit-pop: the Smiths, the Stone Roses, and Oasis. The band's alternately jangly and bombastic brand of indie guitar rock bears the influence of all three acts, as well as comparisons to contemporaries like Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. Featuring vocalist Liam Fray, lead guitarist Daniel Conan Moores, bassist Mark Cupello, and drummer Michael Campbell, the Courteeners formed in Manchester in 2006, when the 22-year-old Fray -- already known around town for his acoustic singer/songwriter gigs -- brought three of his childhood friends together to form a proper band.
“Don’t ask me why I obsessively look to rock ‘n’ roll bands for some kind of model for a better society . . . I guess it’s just that I glimpsed something beautiful in a flashbulb moment once, and perhaps mistaking it for a prophecy have been seeking its fulfillment ever since.”
Lester Bangs, 1978
“This is the most complete thing I’ve ever done”, says Johnny Marr. “There are no songs I’m not sure about. And for me as a listener, it’s made up of entirely the music I like, and have liked.”
Call The Comet is his third solo album. Recorded over nine months in his new studio and HQ just outside Manchester, it’s a vivid, immersive, brilliantly evocative record, which develops the music explored on its two predecessors – 2013’s The Messenger, and Playland, released in 2014 – and adds a new emphasis on atmosphere and drama. In response to our confused, fretful times, many of its songs look to ideas of an alternative society and utopian futures, while retaining an all-important openness and sense of mystery. Most obviously, the album is also full of the pre-requisites of compelling music, which Marr understands as a matter of instinct.
“Everybody who knows about rock music knows who I am,” he says. “They know what my values are. So they don’t need my songs to be any kind of exposition. They want good riffs, and good singing, and good guitar music.”
The album was initially worked on in the slipstream of “Set The Boy Free”, the autobiography published in 2016, whose writing demanded a year-long immersion in Marr’s past. “I felt like I’d literally written all the chapters of my life and career up to that point,” he says. “It felt like, ‘I’ve told my story – what I have I got to say now?’ The past had been dealt with. Baggage had been dropped off, packed and sent away.”
“I also felt that my solo career has got its own steam, and it can stand or fall on what it is in itself. So I felt free. And I was intrigued myself about what I was going to come up with. It was, ‘What are my ideas about, looking forward?’”
The answer began to materialize in the autumn of 2016, when Marr did a series of book talks in the USA. He arrived in New York two days after Donald Trump had won the Presidency – and in his hotel, he wrote the lines that would eventually open the album, on a song titled Rise: “Now here they come/It’s the dawn of the dogs/ They hound, they howl/Never let up.”
When he then travelled to Los Angeles, he met friends who suddenly felt “there was no future.” And at that point, he began to get a sense of where the song might go: “I put it all together, and imagined two people saying, ‘Right – we’re going to build a new society.’ And once I got that, I began to tie in the whole of the record.” These threads run through songs that define “Call The Comet”’s core: Rise, New Dominions, the lead-off single The Tracers (whose lyrics contain the album’s title), and Spiral Cities – in lyrical and musical terms, evocations of what Marr calls “alternative societies”, which partly draw on the example set by his earlier work – the 2014 single Dynamo is probably the best example – but also push into completely new areas.
To a greater extent than in the recent past, their music reflects the work Marr has done with the film composer Hans Zimmer, on both Inception, and The Amazing Spider Man 2. “It’s a nice area to draw from,” says Marr. “I had a rule on the first two albums that no song could be longer than four minutes. I don’t know whether I stuck to that – I think I did pretty much. But on this record, I just wanted to follow the feeling; follow the drama. And I’d say my work with Hans has awakened that in me.” These songs lyrics, meanwhile, were influenced by the kind of the literary sources that have run through all three Marr solo albums. The Tracers, he says, is “totally HG Wells”, while Spiral Cities was inspired by the Crystal Chain Letters, “a book by different architects in the early 20th century, writing and conceptualizing the utopian city of the future.”
These influences make for heady, deeply-textured stuff, which underlines something very important: the fact that Call The Comet is a work of art and imagination – sparked by the era of Brexit and Trump, perhaps, but intended to transport people somewhere completely different. To some extent, it songs do not need explanation: like all great music, the better society they evoke is there as a matter of artistry and alchemy, and the inarticulable qualities that only music possesses.
“I was trying to reconnect with the value of being an artist, and the escape from what I see going in society,” Marr explains. “I was saying, ‘I’m not going to do something political – it’s too obvious, and also, I don’t want it dominating this record.’ This record had to be about atmosphere, and drama. I wanted to retreat into that. And also, I didn’t have an answer to what had gone on.”
In the wake of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s place in Europe, he says, “I heard my wife talking to some of our friends, and the tone of her voice reminded me of the way we were when were 15, 16 – which was ‘we’re musicians, we’re artists – fuck them.’ I had to do something more esoteric, and bohemian, and artistic. I really wanted to honour that.”
This impulse was assisted by Marr’s new working environment, where he worked on the album with the three musicians who now form the band that helps to turn his ideas into reality, not least on the live stage. “It’s literally the top floor of an old factory,” he says. “It’s very industrial, and I can see the Pennines from there. Places like that are really rare these days. So for example, I wrote Actor Attractor on a really foggy, dark Sunday evening – not unlike the night [The Smiths] recorded Hand In Glove, to be honest. I’m very pleased that I’m working in an industrial, factory space. And quite quickly in the process, I turned one of the sofas in the studio into a bed, and kind of moved in there. I thought I’d got over that kind of nonsense [laughs]. But I felt I was on to something, with that atmosphere. I would just stay up really late, and when the band clocked off, I’d wander the halls, and get lyrics.”
These experiences fed into the album’s prevailing sense of realities beyond the here and now, but there are at least two occasions when Call The Comet directly describes events in the everyday world. The first is Bug – probably the album’s most instant, infectious piece, and self-evidently a comment on the more malign aspects of life in 2018: “Everybody feels the aching/Population is sick and shaking/Can’t think straight /Minds breaking/ And the world is burning up.”
“Bug is an out-and-out pop, rock’n’roll song,” says Marr. “It’s deliberately written with catchy verses that sound quite glam rock. I very deliberately made it so it sounded like it could be sung by The Sweet, or Marc Bolan. With that, and the sound of the words, it almost sounds like a 50s rock’n’roll song. It amuses me that it’s not po-faced. It’s so pop that I could be describing a dance - like, ‘Do the bug’. It sounds like what I call a jukebox record. I’m not sitting there with an acoustic guitar on the porch, talking about the woes of the world.”
The album closes with A Different Gun, a transcendent, reflective end piece which came to its author in the wake of awful events in France in the summer of 2016. “I wrote all of it about the Bastille Day attack in Nice. Since then, I’ve thought that I want to keep that quiet, because I don’t want to appear sensationalist or draw much attention to it. I was a little self-conscious about it. But I am proud of it. When I saw what happened being reported, like everybody, I was incredibly shocked. But I got this feeling about this dichotomy that happens in life. I saw the palm trees, and what hit me very hard was the image of bodies strewn on the road in the warm, sultry night. It wasn’t in the middle of war-torn devastation; it was on that clean tarmac, where people were on holiday, celebrating. A lot of children; families. It really hit me, and that feeling stayed with me. I couldn’t shake it off. I wanted to create music that was poignant, and had an air of suspension, in a way. And the truth of it is that when I was working on the vocals, the Manchester Arena attack happened. By that time, it was summer again. And again, this idea of this horrible shutdown of humanity, in the sun, made me write those lines: ‘Every day is a different sun/Blown away with a different gun.’ At the end, the line ‘Stay and come out tonight’ is there because I can’t leave things bleak. There would be something about wrong about that. All of us need to stay out. We can’t lock ourselves away.”
Not many musicians create songs like this. And by the same token, only Johnny Marr could have made an album that combines the fundamentals of great music with such imagination and substance. Such is the singular magic of Call The Comet.
John Harris, April 2018
Before embracing Brit-pop in the late '90s, Doves' three members -- vocalist/bassist Jimi Goodwin, guitarist Jez Williams, and drummer Andy Williams -- figured prominently in the Madchester scene, where they scored a Top Five single as part of the dance combo Sub Sub. "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)" peaked at number three in the U.K., but Sub Sub failed to produce any significant follow-up hits, and a fire destroyed their recording studio in February 1995. After taking several years to restructure their sound, the musicians reappeared in 1998 as Doves, whose sweeping pop/rock material owed more to the Verve and Radiohead than Sub Sub's club-oriented peers.
Doves debuted in October 1998 with the Cedar EP, which sold out of its limited pressing and paved the way for the musicians' association with Badly Drawn Boy (who employed them as his backing band on several singles). Doves released two additional EPs, Sea and Here It Comes, before signing a European contract with Heavenly Records, the venerable London-based label that had recently scored a hit with Beth Orton. Heavenly issued Doves' full-length debut, Lost Souls, in April 2000, while an American release followed in October via the Astralwerks label. Marrying traces of Sub Sub's danceable past with an emphasis on live pop/rock instrumentation, Lost Souls earned a nomination for the Mercury Prize -- which the band ironically lost to Badly Drawn Boy -- and spawned three Top 40 singles in the U.K. By 2001, the band's American representation had been upgraded to Capitol Records, and Doves returned to the U.K. charts one year later with The Last Broadcast. The sophomore album debuted atop the charts in England and, like its predecessor, climbed to platinum status, propelled in part by the number three single "There Goes the Fear."
While assembling their third album, Some Cities, Doves retreated to the English countryside and took up residence in a number of cottages, churches, and intimate recording studios. Although conceived far away from the band's native Manchester, Some Cities still sported an urban tone, and the album climbed to number one during its first week of release. Doves' audience was further expanded through a number of touring efforts, some of which saw the band opening for the likes of U2, Oasis, and Coldplay. Several years later, Doves once again decamped to more rural surroundings -- this time to the agricultural community of Cheshire, England, where they set up shop in a converted farmhouse -- to record another album. Kingdom of Rust was ultimately released in April 2009, followed by a greatest hits album one year later. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi
Dubbed ‘one of Britain’s Landmark Composers’ by MOJO, Liverpool born and bred Miles Kane first found his love of music at age 17 as a member of the band The Little Flames, the dissolution of which led to the formation of The Rascals in 2007. With The Rascals also began the relationship between Miles Kane and Alex Turner when the band supported the Sheffield four piece, Arctic Monkeys in the same year. 2008 saw Miles playing and touring with Turner as The Last Shadow Puppets in support of their No. 1, Mercury Nominated album entitled ‘The Age of The Understatement’.
As demonstrated by both his music and personal style, Kane has never been one to shy away from a statement and he went on to debut his solo material ‘Colour of the Trap’ in May 2011 to critical acclaim, selling out headline UK and Europeans shows and winning over crowds at major UK and international festivals.
Miles returned to the scene with his sophomore album ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, with no less enthusiasm for the avant-garde whilst retaining his signature style. A combination of both albums has resulted in plaudits & nominations across the board including awards from Q, Mojo, NME, and a much coveted Mercury nomination.
Seven years on from ‘Colour Of The Trap’, Kane’s hotly anticipated third solo album is set for release in Spring 2018.
When Lewis Capaldi’s debut single Bruises exploded at the start of 2017 it seemed from an outside perspective to have all the hallmarks of an overnight sensation. How could this 20-year-old with a soul-wrenching voice that sounded like it had been hewn from granite seemingly emerge from nowhere with a song of such emotional depth?
A stripped-back and almost painfully raw meditation on love and loss from a writer who seemed like he’d already lived several lives and had the scars to prove it, within weeks it had racked up an astonishing 15 million Spotify plays and topped streaming charts around the world.
“Once we got to 10 million, I was like, ‘Right, I’m going to stop looking at this because I’m happy with that,’” laughs Capaldi, sat in a Soho coffee shop in a rare bit of down time. “People ask me, ‘How do you feel about everything?’ I’m confused, I’m like, ‘How the hell has this happened?’ I was happy to release something and then to just see it explode. People are telling me that they’ve heard it in shops in Thailand, they’ve been in Zante and Magaluf and Ibiza and they’ve heard remixes of it in clubs. It’s absolutely mental. I’m kind of always thinking that someone’s going to turn around and tell me, ‘Oh lad, we’re only joking!’”
Have a listen to any of the other tunes Capaldi has been stockpiling into a goldmine of songs and it seem very, very unlikely that anyone will be saying that. Capaldi is that rare thing: a writer who can take his own experiences and pain and craft them into deeply effecting, heart-bruised truths that resonate with anyone who hears them.
If Capaldi seems to have a maturity as an artist and a performer that goes beyond his years then that might be down to the fact that he’s had a bit of a head start. In fact, given the years of graft the West Lothian native has put in, he’d probably take umbrage at the notion that it was an “overnight” success.
“I picked the guitar up at nine, started writing songs at eleven and then was gigging from 12 onwards,” he states matter-of-factly, before delivering a bit of customary self-deprecation. “I mean, they were awful songs, but it was fun. I was always trying to get in places, playing at pubs. I’d show up and try and blag my way in. I’d have to hide in the toilets and then jump out and do my set as quickly as possible before anyone knew there was a 12-year-old in the pub.”
From then on in Capaldi devoted every spare moment he had to writing and performing. Playing gigs in Glasgow, Edinburgh and anywhere he could find a receptive audience, he was constantly working on songs, finding his voice as a songwriter and honing his craft with unwavering dedication. All the while developing the rough-around-the-edges vocals that would make those songs soar.
“I’m constantly writing. Even now, if I’m not doing a gig or in rehearsals, I’m writing. It’s constant because you’re only as good as your next song,” he says, perhaps forgetting for a moment that he’s got one of the most acclaimed debut releases this year already under his belt. “A lot of my pals laugh because they’re roofers and electricians and they’ve got real jobs, and I’ll go, ‘Oh man, I’m so stressed out trying to write songs,” They’re like, “Shut the hell up.” I get it, but it’s a slog, man. It can be proper difficult at times.”
It’s a slog that has paid off in spades. With “hundreds of songs” crafted in the last year alone, Lewis Capaldi is already shaping up to be one of the British Isles’ most gifted songwriters. Preposterously, when it comes to the daunting process of picking a dozen for a debut album in the future, he feels that Bruises might not even make the cut.
“An album has to sound cohesive. So if Bruises still to me feels like it should be on the album at that point, then I don’t see why not,” he ponders. “I’m constantly writing, but then it’s the hope that every song will be better than the last one. It’s just constantly trying to better yourself.”
Not a bad position to find yourself in, but if he feels the success of his first offering might be fading he’s sorely mistaken.
“Yesterday I phoned up the bank and the girl was like, “I’ll phone you back in ten minutes…” She phoned back in ten minutes and said, “Oh, I recognised your name, I really like your song”.’ He recalls with disbelief. “Things like that are just like ‘… Oh shit, that’s weird.’”
Much as he might currently find it strange, Capaldi’s success is only going to grow from here. He’d better get used to it.
Sleeper enjoyed huge critical and commercial success in the mid 90s: achieving 8 Top 40 singles across 3 Top 10 albums with well over 1,000,000 sales. Their music was characterized by astute, observational lyrics and big, hook driven melodies. Wener was an iconic front-person, heading up a movement that brought women center stage in guitar music.
The Japanese House is the solo project of London-based singer/songwriter Amber Bain. Crafting a mix of lush dream pop and brooding electronica, the Buckinghamshire native worked under a handful of different monikers before using the Japanese House name in 2015. The name was inspired by a childhood trip to Devon, where she posed as a boy for a week, earning the affection of a neighborhood girl who was later heartbroken to learn Bain's true identity. Owned by actress Kate Winslet, the cottage was called the Japanese House and Bain's memories of her experiences there influenced the intentionally androgynous presentation of her musical work. After signing with U.K. indie Dirty Hit Records, she released a pair of EPs in 2015, beginning with Pools to Bathe In followed a few months later by Clean. A new single, "Face Like Thunder," arrived in 2016. That track was featured on her EP, Swim Against the Tide. In 2017, Bain issued the languid pop single, "Saw You in a Dream," which was later included on an EP of the same title. In September of 2018, Bain offered "Lilo," the first single from her forthcoming Japanese House full-length debut. The album -- titled Good at Falling -- arrived in early 2019.
English quartet Yonaka combine heavy riffs, melodic hooks, and on-stage punk furor like the wild spawn of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Royal Blood. The Brighton-based band -- comprising vocalist Theresa Jarvis, guitarist George Edwards, bassist Alex Crosby, and drummer Robert Mason -- met in college while each member played in different bands. They got together in 2014 and quickly gained a reputation for their formidable live shows. In 2016, they issued their debut single, "Ignorance," followed by "Drongo." The next year they released "Wouldn't Wanna Be Ya" before the arrival of their first EP, Heavy, which featured the single "Bubblegum." In 2019, Yonaka returned with their debut full-length, Don't Wait 'Til Tomorrow, which included the singles "Bad Company" and "Creature."
She Drew The Gun make impassioned, hypnotic and darkly ornate psych-pop built around the lyrically evocative songwriting of singer-guitarist Louisa Roach.
Under the moniker She Drew The Gun, the Wirral native started playing solo gigs with a handful of songs in 2014. Meeting James Skelly of The Coral in 2015, Louisa began recording with James at Skeleton Key Records and recruiting band members along the way. After touring Europe with Fink in 2015 and following a session for BBC 6 Music at Maida Vale, Louisa emerged in 2016 with debut record Memories of the Future and a fully formed band with drummer Sian Monaghan and bass player Jack Turner now joined by Jenni Kickhefer on keys. That year the group saw off 5,000 competitors to win Glastonbury's emerging talent contest, made their first TV performance on Soccer Am and supported The Coral on a UK tour.
After adding new songs and reissuing their debut album as Memories of Another Future in 2017 they continued to tour, performing at SXSW and across a string of UK festivals. The band also played or toured with a number of great artists in 2017 including Travis and Jane Weaver.
In 2018 the band announced their second album, Revolution of Mind, featuring lead single Resister. Recorded at Liverpool's Parr Street studios the new album was again produced by James Skelly.
whenyoung are Aoife Power (Vocals/Bass), Niall Burns (Guitar) and Andrew Flood (Drums) who originate from Limerick in Ireland but are currently based in London.
First meeting as teenagers, sneaking into the only indie bar of their city in Ireland, they bonded over cheap vodka and The Velvet Underground. Soon after, Niall moved to London, with Andrew and Aoife quickly following, and here they began writing songs together.
Anteros are a London indie pop four-piece fronted by Laura Hayden, drawing influence from the likes of Blondie, old school No Doubt, The Cure, The Cardigans and Blur.
The band came together when singer and main lyricist Laura Hayden moved to London from Barcelona and started writing songs with Josh. “I always wanted to do music but I never had the balls or the knowledge,” she explains. “And when I wanted to start writing, Josh had, er, "good credentials".” Those credentials included being in a band with an ex of Laura’s but the chemistry was good and the two soon built up a body of songs, before recruiting Harry and, later, Jackson to the cause. In desperate need of a name to put their songs to online, they picked Anteros - the god of requited love, a landmark in London that united the scattered members in one place and, most importantly, the title of the song that cemented their retro-tinged indie pop sound.
Hey Charlie are Lauren, Lizz & Sophie, the London based pop-rock band you'll come across once and won't forget. Their iconic matching style combined with crunchy guitar riffs, catchy hooks & sugar pop melodies challenges what it means to be a rock band in 2019. Managing, booking & styling themselves, Hey Charlie play by their own rules.
The band quickly gained support from Phil Taggart & Daniel P Carter at Radio 1 as well as Kerrang! and Radio X. While their single “Hey” went viral on Spotify in the UK "Love Machine" unexpectedly went viral across waters in Taiwan. Having played alongside names such as Green Day, All Time Low, Foster the People and Liam Gallagher, the band fast gained a reputation as an unpredictable and cyclonic live force.
The Everly Pregnant Brothers are 10 years old!
2019 marks the tenth year since their formation back in 2009 when Pete and Bails thought it would
be a good idea to buy a couple of ukes and play a few songs at a party. Neither of them could have
envisaged what a phenomenon the Everly Pregnant Brothers would turn out to be.
The band regularly plays to sell out audiences across the country and have a reputation based on
their high energy live performances that captivate and elate their fans.
The band is the culmination of several years of trial and error in song-craft, performance and production. They were brought together by their shared love of music: old and new, foreign and domestic. The four- piece combine pop laden guitar hooks with soaring vocal melodies - the result is a sound which is reminiscent of Brit-pop but remains undeniably Australian.
Supported by Huw Stephens on Radio 1 and given a spin by Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 6, Oddity Road defy their young age to deliver heavy riffs and tight infectious songs influenced by bands such as Kings Of Leon, Foo Fighters and The Killers.
These hard working young lads from Sheffield have gigged relentlessly up and down the U.K. and supported numerous bands, including mates The Sherlocks.
With wider critical acclaim further cementing their assured confidence this unsigned band are destined for bigger things.
‘For fans of the big indie chorus’ - championed by Dean Jackson BBC Introducing and Huw Stephens on Radio 1
Big in 2018 nomination - Fred Perry Subculture
‘An Instant classic’ (All Again) - Gordon Smart / John Kennedy Radio X
Children of the State are aurally positioned between corrupt 70s glam and wistful electronic rock, with a wealth of ear-worms to make even the most miserable nihilist grin into their soy cappuccino.
On record, Children of the State’s sound is shiny and raw with nods to The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ and Joe Meek’s ‘I Hear a New World - An Outer Space Music Fantasy’ with no musical stone being left unturned thanks to long-term collaborator and producer, Nathan Saoudi of the Fat White Family.
Their live shows have been described as ‘ritualistic’ and ‘just downright bizarre’ by budding journalists across the UK, with a recent headline show at The Old Blue Last ending in tears of blissful rapture.
Gina, Debra, Annie and Lucy weave strong melodies with piano, cello and vocal harmonies to create an authentic and accomplished sound that is drawn from a wealth of musical experience, from classical to folk, and are inspired by artists including Bjork and Marika Hackman. Before Breakfast have a strong sense of meaning, telling intimate stories about being a woman that resonate with people of all stages of life. The band recently supported Tokio Myers at Shepherd's Bush Empire, The Sage and Albert Hall, Manchester on his UK tour and have worked with Reverend And The Makers, Jon Boden, The Dunwells and Renegade Brass Band.
Fauves are an indie-pop band from Glasgow who blend elements of funk, disco and jazz throughout their music. The band are recognisable for their unique sound and artworks, taking their name from Fauvism, an early 20th Century French art movement which utilises vibrant colours and shapes. Fauves have been likened to MGMT and Metronomy by BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway, with the band themselves citing Bee Gees, Tame Impala and Steely Dan among their influences. The group have gigged around the UK building a reputation as a bouncing live act, yet sonically incomparable to many of their peers in Glasgow’s punk-saturated music scene. They are off on their first headline UK tour in early 2019, and opened the run of gigs with a memorable sold out first show at London's Sebright Arms.
Their first two single releases, 'Hit Like This' and 'Afterglow' received support from The Skinny and Dork Magazines respectively. Their debut EP, 'Les Fauves', was released in January 2018, and featured 'Head Spins', which has since became the bands most recognisable track receiving track of the week on BBC Scotland. 'Bleep Blop' was playlisted by Osaka, Japan based radio station FM 802 and received support from several international indie bloggers.
Otis Mensah is a young rap-poet embodying a contemporary take on alternative hip-hop music and spoken word poetry. With endeavours to shed light on existential commonalities through vulnerable expression, Otis’ work reads like a stream of consciousness, documenting journeys of thought. Drawing from influences such as Common, Aesop Rock and The Roots, Otis delivers off-kilter lyrics with a sentimental vibe.
Otis has performed live with the likes of Arrested Development, Killah Priest, Mahalia, Lowkey, Abstract Orchestra, Open Mike Eagle, Milo, Homeboy Sandman, P.O.S, The Mouse Outfit, Cosmo Sheldrake and as tour-support for Brother Ali and Chali 2na.
As an emerging artist, Otis continues to release music independently, touring his latest album "Mum's House Philosopher" around the UK & Europe, appearing on stages at Hip Hop Kemp Festival (Czech Republic), Garden Wonder (Budapest), Poetry Meets Hip Hop (Berlin) and Glastonbury Music Festival (UK).
Describing Otis as "dynamic, skilful and radical", former Lord Mayor and current MEP Magid Magid appointed Otis Mensah as the first Poet Laureate of Sheffield. As Poet Laureate, his role is to break down preconceived ideas about what it means to be a poet. From delivering school assemblies to leading poetry workshops, Otis engages young people and institutions, advocating for Rap as an effective vehicle for emotional communication.
Otis Mensah recently made his debut book premiere with "SAFE METAMORPHOSIS!!", a collection of poems and philosophical ideas that explores the voice of unspoken trauma & everyday life transformations.
Vanessa Kisuule is a writer and performer based in Bristol. She has won over 10 slam titles and has performed at an array of renowned poetry events and venues. She represented the UK in two European Slam Championships. Her poetry collections ‘Joyriding The Storm' and 'A Recipe For Sorcery' are both published by Burning Eye and her work was Highly Commended in The Forward Prize Anthology 2019. Her one woman show SEXY toured with the kind support of Arts Council England, Bristol Old Vic and Camden People's Theatre. She is the Bristol City Poet for 2018 - 2020.
There is no doubt that Chic was disco's greatest band. Working in a heavily producer-dominated field, they were most definitely a band. By the time Chic appeared in the late '70s, disco was already heading toward mainstream saturation and an inevitable downfall. Chic bucked the trend by stripping disco's sound down to its basic elements. Specializing in stylish grooves with a uniquely organic sense of interplay, Chic's sound was anchored by the scratchy "chucking"-style rhythm guitar of Nile Rodgers, the indelible, widely imitated, and sometimes outright stolen basslines of Bernard Edwards, and the powerhouse drumming of Tony Thompson. As producers, Rodgers and Edwards used keyboard and string embellishments economically, which kept the emphasis on rhythm. Chic's distinctive approach not only resulted in some of the era's finest singles, including the number one hits "Le Freak" and "Good Times" -- only two of several classics off the platinum albums C'est Chic (1978) and Risqué (1979) -- but also helped create a template for funk, dance-pop, and hip-hop in the post-disco era. Not coincidentally, Rodgers and Edwards wound up as two of the most successful pop producers, and the sound they developed and perfected remained relevant for decades, acknowledged most notably with the duo's induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Through the 2010s, Rodgers continued to lead Chic as a major live draw and took the act back to the studio for It's About Time (2018).
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man has been a prolific underground name for a couple of years now, honing a ferocious live reputation through guitar wielding solo performances, as the resident vocalist of rap's Rum Committee, and now through his first release through independent label ‘Best Laid Plans’: Wolves. And, like many things, it began with the blues.
Having discovered the genre as a child, the rhythmic troubles that rang out from his parents' record player planted a stubborn seed in this kid's head and it wasn't long before the youngster was venturing through classic realms of soul, jazz and folk.
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (or Rory)’s first dice with performing real live music was to be rooted in those earlier fascinations. Twenty five years younger than most of the clientele, Graham used to hit up a local jam session, and one particular evening, after a couple of pints, he'd end up making a decision that would define his future. After one too many, he got the courage to jump on stage and sing a Robert Johnson song; shocked that people actually liked it. He went a few more times, then every week – playing harmonica or singing on stage. At this point, he knew it was what he wanted to do.
A move to Brighton and a slice of fate introduced him to two influential figures. Firstly, the rapper Gi3mo, who immediately shipped Graham's vocal talents into his hip hop crew, Rum Committee. Next came a meeting with the prolific beatmaker Leaf Dog, resulting in an intense meeting of minds; their six track Dog n' Bone EP.
In his good friend and producer Mark Crew, he found a kindred spirit and the two began working towards a 'project'. After eight months, they found themselves staring down the pop, soul and hip-hop cannonade of nine blistering tracks, which Graham has named ‘Wolves’.
Owing to that moment when his blues and beats worlds collided, the sound of Rag N' Bone perfects an artistic dualism of old and new. The nine tracks of ‘Wolves’ pack an eruptive mixture of hip hop and electronic thunder, with a golden coating of soul. He may have honed his trade underground, but this release marks the Rag ‘N’ Bone Man stepping out of the shadows.
Happy Mondays formed in 1980 in Salford, Greater Manchester. The original line-up - Shaun Ryder on lead vocals, with brother Paul Ryder on bass, lead guitarist Mark Day, keyboardist Paul Davis, and drummer Gary Whelan. Mark ‘Bez’ Berry later joined the band onstage during a live performance after befriending Shaun Ryder and served as a dancer and percussionist. Rowetta then joined the band to provide backing vocals in the early 1990s.
Their first official release was the ’Forty Five EP' on Factory Records in September 1985. Tony Wilson discovered them and they signed to Factory Records. Their first album ‘Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile’ (White Out) released in 1987 and was produced by John Cale. This was followed by two classic albums, ‘Bummed’ in 1988, produced by Martin Hannett.
‘Pills ’n’ Thrills and Bellyaches in 1990 produced by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne which went platinum in the UK selling more than 350,000 copies. This put the band firmly on the map as one of the most influential bands to come out of the UK in the early 1990s. The album was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. Singles ’Step On' and ‘Kinky Afro' from this album both reached number 5 in the UK singles chart. ‘Yes Please!’ followed in 1992, produced by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, recorded at Eddy Grant’s studio in Barbados. By the late 1980s the Happy Mondays were an important part of the Manchester music scene. Numerous world tours meant the band had international success as well as massive success in their home country.
The line up of the band during this first and most important ten year phase never changed, and the six original members Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Gary Whelan, Paul Davis, Mark Day and Bez remained together until the first incarnation came to an end in 1994. In 1999 Happy Mondays re-formed with founding members Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Gary Whelan and Bez minus Paul Davis and Mark Day. In the place of Day and Davis were Wags and a number of other session musicians including Ben Leach, percussionist Lea Mullen and rapper 'Nuts'. Also joining the new line-up was soul singer Rowetta Satchell who sang on Pills, Thrills, and Bellyaches. The band toured extensively in the UK and internationally, selling out the 20,000 capacity Manchester Arena and released of a new single, a cover version Thin Lizzy 'The Boys Are Back in Town’. They also provided support for Oasis on their 'Standing on the Shoulder of Giants' arena tour, as well as playing numerous festivals worldwide. The band again ceased their activity in 2001 following the departure of bass player and founding member Paul Ryder.
2004 saw another re-formation, comprising original members Bez, Whelan and Shaun Ryder along with another group of musicians - bassist Mikey Shine, keyboard player Dave Parkinson and guitarist Jonn Dunn. Dave Parkinson was later replaced by Dan Broad. In 2007 they released their first album in fourteen years ‘Uncle Dysfunktional’ produced by Sunny Levine and Howie B and released on Big Brother Records. The band played Coachella Music Festival in California and toured throughout the summer of 2007. In 2009 they toured the USA and Canada with The Psychedelic Furs. This version of the band continued until 2010. Members Mikey Shine, Jonn Dunn & Dan Broad continued to back Shaun Ryder for his solo tour until 2011, surrounding the release of his autobiography.
In 2012 the band returned with a definitive line up of Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Mark Day, Gary Whelan, Rowetta and Paul Davis and played a thirteen date UK touring a number of European Festivals and a best of album ‘Double Double Good’ was released along with a live recording of the band’s May 2012 gig in Brixton. Followed in 2013 with more international dates and a UK tour celebrating their second album ‘Bummed’.
In the summer of 2015 the band played several UK festivals as well as shows in Japan, Hong Kong and China. In September the Watch Channel broadcast ’Singing in the Rainforest’ a programme which followed the band as they travelled to Panama to compose, record and perform a brand new song ‘Oo La La to Panama’ with an isolated tribe called the Embera.
This was followed by a UK tour in November to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the release of their album ‘Pills ’n’ Thrills and Bellyaches’.
After a successful UK tour in November/December 2017 Happy Mondays are playing festivals throughout 2018. The current line up is: Shaun Ryder - vocals, Mark Day - guitar, Paul Ryder - bass, Gary Whelan - drums, Rowetta - vocals and Dan Broad - keyboardist and musical director.
London-based singer/songwriter Tom Grennan first garnered attention from the wider public as a guest vocalist on Chase & Status' track "When It All Goes Wrong." Far from being an electronic musician, Grennan's early solo shows consisted of just vocals and guitar. Grennan released his debut single, "Something in the Water," in 2016. The track was produced by Charlie Hugall (Florence + the Machine, Ed Sheeran, Kaiser Chiefs). A trio of EPs -- Release the Brakes, Something in the Water, and Found What I've Been Looking For -- followed in 2017, showcasing Grennan's gritty vocals and soulful indie folk-pop mix. The year 2018 began with the snappy, string-laden single "Sober" and follow-up "Barbed Wire," with both singles signaling the direction of Grennan's debut album. Produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat (the Killers, Radiohead) and Fraser T. Smith (Stormzy, Adele), Lighting Matches arrived in the summer. ~ Liam Martin, Rovi
Hailing from the English village of Castleton, brothers Rory and Eoin Loveless formed Drenge (taken from the Danish word for "boys") whilst in their mid-teens. Initially with Eoin on lead guitar and vocals and Rory on drums, their raw grunge-inspired blues-pop sound was cultivated from the countryside landscape and their desire to escape from it. Their self-titled debut album was released a month after they made headlines for appearing in British Labour MP Tom Watson’s resignation letter from the Shadow Cabinet. After making their American television debut on the Late Show With David Letterman they released their second LP Undertow and toured it to festivals & headline shows across the world, playing with the likes of Wolf Alice, the Maccabees and Arctic Monkeys. Following on from their Grand Reopening Tour in early 2018, headline performances at Sŵn Festival and at Deer Shed and Truck Festival in the summer, Drenge will embark on a headline tour in spring 2019, performing at venues across the UK to coincide with the release of their third album, Strange Creatures on 22nd Feb 19.
Jade Bird is fast becoming one of the most exciting new British voices. With her debut release the ‘Something American’ EP and 2018’s follow-up breakthrough single ‘Lottery’, Jade has won the hearts of people across the globe. She has already performed on ‘Later’ with Jools Holland, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and at SXSW she won the Grulke Prize for upcoming talent, following her win of the ANCHOR Prize at the Reeperbahn festival in 2017.
Twisting big themes of disillusionment, divorce, cheating, sorrow into the realities of an independent-minded, modern British 21-year-old, Jade’s music transcends genre with a wealth of influence coming from everywhere, and anywhere. Classic, contemporary, and a total breath of fresh air in the current musical landscape, Jade Bird is that rare, next-generation artist who appears as clued up on the past as she is determined to learn from its lessons: in control, sometimes in your face, and in possession of gifts beyond her years.
Born, raised and residing in Sheffield, a city synonymous with jarringly honest indie rock, Joe Carnall has been a reluctant figurehead of that music scene for over a decade. Eager to explore a different space, he has embarked on a new venture with the help of close friend Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys). The result is Good Cop Bad Cop. Penned by Carnall and produced by Helders, the project resides in the not so grey area between man and machine.
The origins of Good Cop Bad Cop are deep rooted. As previous musical projects came to an end and the demands of fatherhood began to subside, Carnall found himself able to explore new concepts and ways of creating. “I locked myself away and became a master of GarageBand.” This reversion to a simple set up away from the constraints of multiple human inputs allowed Carnall to create the bare bones of a record that Helders would ultimately help shape into a finished product. Long time friends and ex neighbours, Carnall sent a couple of his homemade demos across the pond solely because he thought Helders “would be into it.” From that initial exchange there began a bigger conversation about Helders trying his hand at production and making the record in his soon to be completed home studio in the Hollywood Hills (affectionately dubbed The Goldie Locks Zone).
On this topic, Helders is quite candid. “I’ve become progressively more interested in production over the years but have perhaps never been brave enough to take the first steps; Joe’s project seemed like the perfect place to start.” Carnall adds “it was great for both of us as we could afford to make mistakes without a huge bill to pay at the end. It really was just two old friends spending time together and making music in a glorified garage.” There’s a wry smirk as Carnall reminisces about the recording process which at times meant directing a multi million album selling drummer. “Even though we’re old mates, it was surreal having someone of that calibre drumming and singing backing vocals on songs I’d written.”
Drums aside, Carnall played every single instrument on this record and he passionately believes that “technical limitations often provide an element of sincerity.” Such limitations have produced stunning results which regularly substitute the stratocaster for the synthesiser. Lyrically brooding and perceptive, Carnall’s voice floats along Julian Casablancas-esque melodies; all of which are underpinned by a warm blanket of noise akin to the likes of Timber Timbre and, at its most experimental, James Blake. When asked if recording in Los Angeles influenced the Good Cop Bad Cop sound, both are unequivocal in their response. “Absolutely” declares Helders. “No matter where you record, the location of the studio somehow seeps into the music you make.” Indeed, once you know where The Goldie Locks Zone is, it hard not to listen to the record and imagine a backdrop of palm trees and pink sunsets - a lost scene from the 2011 filmDrive.
Ultimately, Good Cop Bad Cop is Carnall’s way of making sense of his world past, present and future by harnessing outbursts of creativity. He writes with vigour, joy, passion, a touch of vitriol and overwhelming honesty. The collision of light and dark where, invariably, the sunshine always peaks through
Clean Cut Kid
Having toured relentlessly for three years, alongside recording their debut album with numerous producers and in numerous studios, Clean Cut Kid decided to take a 10 month break from touring to record new music. On Wednesday 12th September, the band will mark their return with new single ‘Emily,’ taken from their upcoming ‘Painkiller’ EP out 22nd October.
The first thing the band did was head back to their native Liverpool, where they rented a pod in an old shipping factory in the Baltic Triangle area of the city, and filled it with vintage recording equipment. Once that was fully set up, they locked themselves away for months on end, getting everything up to the standard they wanted.
Mike Halls (lead singer/guitarist) was adamant that these new songs would be more personal to Clean Cut Kid, both in the themes they cover, but also to the band as a whole. Explaining this, Mike says: “I want to write about things in my life, what we’re feeling, whether they be sad or joyous. The ultimate thing is to take the deepest emotions and work it in to a message that isn’t miserable.”
Written, recorded and engineered entirely by the band, ‘Emily’ finds Clean Cut Kid deviating from their indie-pop sound of first album Felt – released last year – in to a more lo-fi, American East Coast sound, complete with 70s-inspired, fuzz guitar lines, harmonic backing vocals, a stand-alone verse from Evelyn Halls (keys) and thudding drums, with echoes of Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and Phoebe Bridgers.
Skinny Livings story is one of struggle, troubling situations and relentless hard graft. It’s also one of synchronicity, chance meetings, and unflinching belief that their glorious acoustic soul - with its echoes of Bill Withers, the Isley Brothers and Paolo Nutini – will out. As it is doing, with a timeless, gentle beauty and lyrical wisdom far beyond the band’s years.
The exquisite and ever-so-slightly haunted vocal in the midst of it all belongs to Front man, born in Belfast to a Catholic mother from the Republican area and a Protestant father from the other side of town. Their polar opposite backgrounds meant a family move to Bangor, Ryan said “this definitely affected who I am, and maybe made me think more, about things than I otherwise would have.
Cassia absorb a vast array of influences; from the lyrics of Talking Heads, to the rhythm of Afrobeat masters Fela Kuti , Ebo Taylor and Tony Allen , to a ska playlist curated by Rob's uncle. The result is a joyful, instantly danceable indie pop, reminiscent of Vampire Weekend and early Foals.
The Northern trio have built a cult following in the last few years, playing countless headline shows to sold out crowds across the UK and Europe. With just a handful of tracks released so far, the band have already amassed a staggering 3 million Spotify streams based purely on word of mouth and a stellar reputation across the live circuit, garnering early support from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Greg James. Autumn will see the three-piece play some of the biggest headline shows of their career so far, including dates at The Garage, London and the 1,500 capacity O2 Ritz, Manchester.
As a child growing up in Derbyshire, Casey Lowry didn’t so much tinker about with music as throw himself into it headfirst. That level of commitment has informed his approach ever since. Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, Casey knew right from the off that it was music or nothing.
At the age of 14, Casey wrote his first song, Trampoline. He tells you this this almost casually - about a song that, on its release last year, was playlisted at Radio 1, reached No 2 on Spotify’s UK Viral 50 chart and has racked up more than 500,000 streams. When he wrote the song, Casey was in a covers band in his hometown of Chesterfield. Some instinct in him, he says, made him keep Trampoline for himself. Not that it would have suited the band, he thinks - which was chugging along, playing in local pubs. “Every musician needs to go through that experience, it teaches you so much, both good and bad. We played Mr Brightside, Wonderwall, Pompeii - all the classics. And we were absolutely terrible.”
When October Drift appeared at the start of 2015 with their beefy yet melodic sound, they had the confidence to win over audiences.
Ever since then, from multiple sold out tours up and down the UK, to growing online hype around their sparse but eloquent releases, they’ve done just that, becoming a major success story on the independent circuit.
Despite the early success of their incendiary debut singles – receiving support from Steve Lamacq, John Kennedy and Q magazine to name but a few - and string of sold-out gigs, this band still remain something of an enigma.
October Drift’s music is similarly ambiguous, characterised by their signature wall of sound guitars, soaring, ponderous vocals and driving, urgent drums.
And while staying independent and playing every town and city that will have you isn’t exactly the stylish thing to do in 2016, October Drift’s irresistible combination of feedback and harmonies deserves to shake every room in the country.
The band have gained a reputation for delivering blistering, high-energy live shows. Indeed, their first tour sold out before even releasing their first single, such is the buzz around their live performances.
With shows at BBC6 Music Festival, Dot to Dot, Tramlines and Camden Rocks already under their belts alongside a cult fan base spreading the word, and a focus too few peers in their position possess, the immediate future is very bright (and very loud).
‘Brooding, personally-etched song writing’ – Clash
“A distinct lack of social media presence made sure early cuts were shrouded in a sense of mystique, serving only to heighten the growing buzz” - Line of Best Fit
‘A band we’re probably all going to know about very soon’ – Louder Than War
South London newcomers Balcony stand on the borders of two cultures. On one side, they’re stepping into the future by pushing the boundaries of dark pop and future wave R&B. On the other, they capture the heart of timeless songwriting: immediate melodies, towering hooks and hugely relatable emotions.
Everything Balcony have released has been via their own Entourage Recordings label (no prizes for guessing that they’re big fans of Vincent Chase and co.). The band are enthusiastic about their DIY ethic, which they believe has given them the freedom to develop their sound. Landing playlists without the backing of a label hasn’t been easy, but they’ve featured on New Music Friday, Silk Sheets, Chilled Pop Beats and more.
Balcony find inspiration in an esoteric selection of cinematic references, ranging from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet through to ‘90s teen melodrama The O.C. and Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, which was depicted in the video for ‘Parking Lots’.
The summer of 2018 saw Balcony develop their live sound. They hit festivals including Standon Calling and Boardmasters before supporting Au/Ra at The Camden Assembly and also playing a Clash party alongside Shakka, Ashnikko and HEX.
Red Rum Club are a sextet from Liverpool, combing sounds of old and new channelling ‘Tarntino-esque’ wild western vibes with the help of a solitary trumpet. Liverpool influenced they deliver a modern twist of poetic yet catchy lyrics and melodies that blend to make the sound that is unmistakably, Red Rum Club.
‘’ A collection of big anthemic singles each accompanied by the driving, melodic sound of early 60s guitar riffs’’ GetIntoThis
One of the finest bands to emerge on the Sheffield scene in recent times, Cora Pearl bring a fast-paced and energetic live show with elements of heavy indie-rock, psych and grunge.
A solid figure in the local northern music scene, recent times have seen him as part of hip-hop collective Clubs & Spades, who upon their first release achieved the ‘Record of The Week’ position on Charlie Sloths BBC Radio 1 Rap Show with their single ‘Clearer Coast Ft Tom Prior’. Matic has a very adaptable style and this has led to working with a variety of artists from soul singer Steve Edwards ‘Bob Sinclair - World, Hold On’, indie/rock band Reverend & the Makers ‘Heavyweight Champion of The World’ or more closer to home musically with artists like Coco, MC DRS or producers like Sticky Blood and Toddla T, the latter requesting his voice for an uncredited, spoken word feature on the first single ‘BlackJack 21’ from his new album.
An outfit with both Bristolian and Brummie roots, the boys found themselves congregate during Sheffield university freshers to become the force you see today. Praised for their unassuming charm and 'say it as it is' lyrical approach the band has started to see the growth of a loyal fan base. The bands collective love for surf rock and indie makes for a unique and fresh vibe for fans of Circa Waves, Hockey Dad and The Night Cafe.
Exiled are headed by boisterous front man and songwriter Max Clutterbuck, who's relatable lyrics find the perfect companion in lead guitarist Jack Berry. The band is completed by Henry Robinson, who's melodic bass lines intertwine seamlessly with the beats of lifelong friend and drummer Ethan Reeves.
Praised by BBC Introducing for writing relatable songs strewn with catchy hooks and ear worm riffs; Exiled's guitar led sound tells catchy tales of the good times, rough nights and growing up. 2018 saw the band release three brand new singles; one of which being billed as BBC Introducing in Sheffield's 10th favourite track of the year. Described by Sheffield Introducing's Christian Carlisle as 'beautiful', the lads look set to ride with the momentum of their recent successes.
With an incredible underground buzz surrounding his distinctive flows, eloquent lyricism and illusive persona; rapper and poet looms is proving to be one of the most unique artists emerging out of the UK today. Drip feeding his hypnotically dense demos onto soundcloud from 2015 earned him a dedicated and hungry fanbase; gaining attention around the world from his ghost town in England.