Tag: Bristol UK

With the release of 2016’s I Fought Lovers EP, the up-and-coming, Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Katey Brooks quickly amassed both a national and international profile for a sound and songwriting approach that has been compared to Jeff Buckley with material off her debut EP receiving enthusiastic airplay on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and  the CBC, as well as praise from Billboard, Pride and The Advocate. Adding to a growing profile, Brooks has shared bills with an eclectic yet impressive list of artists that includes Newton Faulkner, Ghostpoet, Martin Simpson, Deaf Havana, Lamb‘s Lou Rhodes, Mike and the Mechanics, and Mystery Jets, and has played at some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, the 2012 Paralympics and Australia’s National Folk Festival. She also has appeared on a compilation with Anais Mitchell, Ane Brun and Marissa Nadler and recorded a track with The Rolling StonesBill Wyman and Paloma Faith. Along with that Joss Stone and renowned recording engineer Stuart Bruce have considered themselves fans.

Brooks grew up inside a cult, and as child, she found refuge in music. “It was a very chaotic upbringing, full of some pretty colourful and sometimes unsavoury, characters. But when I sang, I felt free and connected. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my way of getting what I need to say out,” she reveals in press notes. She began singing gospel, old spirituals and the songs from the likes of John Lennon and Elvis Presley — but by the time sh was a teenager, she entertained her peers with soul renditions.

Interestingly, when she was 16, she turned down a spot at the renowned BRIT School. “It would be interesting to know what would have happened if I had gone there, but I try not to dwell on that,” the Bristol-based singer/songwriter and guitarist says in press notes. “I always think that you’re where you’re meant to be. And if I had gone, I probably would have ended up writing slightly less authentically to myself. But who knows, because if all the things that have happened in my life nevertheless happened, maybe I still would have written the way I do.”

When Brooks turned 20, she became extremely ill and her life was on pause as she was convalescing; but as she was convalescing she joined a songwriters group led by her friend, Strangelove‘s Patrick Duff. “We would get together and play our songs to each other. It was really therapeutic.” Around this time Brooks was convinced that she had to devote her time to music. “So one day I just put on my own gig at the (Bristol) Folk House,” she laughs. “I sort of became an artist and promoter overnight,” Brooks recalls.

Sadly, shortly after making the decision to focus on her music, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter experienced a turbulent period of heartbreak and tragedy: the year she turned 22, her mother became ill and died — and shortly after that, one of her best friends went missing and died. “That’s definitely had an effect on the course of my life, and my writing,” Brooks says in press notes. “People have come up to me after gigs, particularly after songs I wrote during that time, saying /there’s a lot of sadness in your songs’ and it’s like ‘well, yeah.’ But I guess I’m lucky that I have songs that I can write, as a means to deal with things.”

Along with those hardships, Brooks has struggled to come to terms with her own sexuality. “In my most recent work I’ve finally been able to sing directly about women instead of using the mysterious ‘you,'” Brooks mentions in press notes. “I’m a private person in a lot of ways and I never wanted to be a poster girl for anything. But a few years ago I just thought screw it; I want to sing completely honestly. It felt like a weight lifted.”

Brooks’ latest single is the soulful “Never Gonna Let Her Go.” Centered around an almost gospel-like backing vocals, Brooks effortlessly soulful vocal performance and an atmospheric arrangement of a looping 12 bar blues guitar and a propulsive rhythm section, the song nods at classic soul and The VeilsThe Pearl” as it’s a thoughtful mesh of craft, earnestness and ambitious songwriting. But at its core the song is an uplifting and powerful plea to the listener that being your true self is a revolutionary act. “We’re all going to walk this planet with different scripts in our heads, different upbringings, experiences and beliefs, and if we want to get along and be peaceful we need to accept that. Hate isn’t the answer in any situation – so I believe anyway,” Brooks said. She adds, “Judge me for my true failings, ask me to change those things that actually effect you, and I’ll hear that. But one thing I’ll never change, and one thing that is definitely not wrong with me, is my love for women”.

Advertisements

Last year, I had written a bit about the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based electro pop/trip hop act The Desert, and as you may recall, the act which is centered around the longtime collaboration between singer/songwriter Gina Leonard and producer/guitarist Tom Freyer can trace its origins to when Freyer had produced some of Leonard’s solo work. And as the story goes, while working together, the duo quickly hit upon a formula of Freyer taking the songs that Leonard had initially written with an acoustic guitar and adding layers of electronics and lush, detailed production.

Slated for a March 8, 2019 release, the acclaimed act’s forthcoming EP Winning You Back builds upon a busy 2018 that saw their first live dates, accompanied in the UK with live backing members Ryan Rogers (bass) and Jonny Parry (drums, electronics), a sold-out hometown show and a BBC Introducing session — and the EP comes right before their first appearance at this year’s SXSW. The EP’s latest single, the ethereal and atmospheric “Bitterness” is built around Leonard’s breathy and achingly tender vocals and shimmering synths and stuttering beats; however, unlike their previously released material, the song has a sense of sighing resignation. In press notes, the act’s Gina Leonard describes how the song is “about coming to terms with being screwed up over and accepting it, and moving forward because it won’t do any good to stew in bitterness. I had written some angry songs, but they’d didn’t sit right and didn’t have a good message, so I was happy when this one came out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Atmospheric and Brooding Synth Pop of London’s Sailing Stones

Jenny Lindfors is an Irish-born, London-based singer/songwriter and indie electro pop artist, best known for her solo recording project Sailing Stones. And with the release of her debut EP She’s A Rose, the Irish-born, English-based singer/songwriter received national attention with airplay on Gideon Coe’s, Tom Robinson’s and Don Letts’ BBC Radio 6 shows and played a live session for BBC Music Introducing In The West. Lindfors is currently working on the final touches of her TJ Allen-produced full-length debut, which is slated for a 2019 release through her own label Keep Her Lit.

But in the meantime, Lindfors latest single “To Know Nothing At All (Telescopes)” is a re-imagined, re-worked and retitled take on an an earlier release, a vinyl B-side for the original “Telescopes” single. Interestingly, Dan Moore, best known for is work with Will Gregory Moog Ensemble and Modulus III came up with a version of the song, completely composed on analog synthesizers — and as a result, it gives the reworked song a brooding and atmospheric vibe that recalls JOVM mainstay ACES, and the cinematic 80s synth pop that clearly inspire it. 

As Lindfors says in press notes, the use of synthesizers was “a game changer in terms of how I wanted to record my songs. It hooked me into making more music that reminded me of the AOR bands/singer-songwriters of the late 80s when I was little.” Unsurprisingly, the recently released video for the single is centered around a grainy VHS-like footage of a late night drive to Bristol, complete with the sodium glow of streetlights, a constant flow of headlights and taillights of cars, further emphasizing the song’s brooding nature.

Centered around the collaboration between singer/songwriter Gina Leonard and producer and guitarist Tom Freyer, the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based electro pop/trip hop act The Desert can trace their origins to when Freyer had produced some of Leonard’s solo work. And as the story goes, the duo quickly hit upon a formula of Freyer taking the songs that Leonard had initially written with an acoustic guitar and adding layers of electronics and lush, detailed production.

With the release of “Just Get High,” the first single off last year’s debut EP Playing Dead, the act received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 and Radio X. And with the release of further tracks off the EP, the British electro pop/trip hop, the act received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that some have described as being a mix between Little Dragon and Portishead. Building upon a growing profile, the act’s sophomore EP was released last week, and from the EP’s first single “Gone,” the act has revealed a decided evolution of their sound and approach while retaining the cinematic quality that first won them attention; however, the song possessed a desperate, urgent air with a hint of uneasy hope.  The EP’s latest single “Distract Me” is a much more intimate, sensual track centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, plinking, jazz-like piano, Leonard’s achingly plaintive vocals — with synths and electronics added towards the last third. In some way, the EP’s latest track manages to remind me of the film noir-ish tone of Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us.

Lately, the act has been busy working on new material and playing their first batch of live shows across the UK — and for their live shows, Leonard and Freyer have recruited Ryan Rogers (bass) and Jonny Parry (drums, electronics).

 

 

New Audio: Exploded View Return with a Fatalistic Ode to the Environment

Initially spending the early part of her professional career as a political journalist, who split her time between Berlin and Bristol, UK, Annika Henderson, best known as Anika can trace the origins of her musical career to a particular moment —  when she was introduced to Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. As the story goes, at the time, Barrow was looking for a vocalist, who would be willing to work with his band Beak> for what he envisioned as a side project. Reportedly, when Barrow and Henderson first met, they immediately bonded over a mutual love of punk, dub and 60s girls group. And within a week of their meeting, Barrow, Henderson and the members of Beak> went into the studio to record the material which would eventually comprise Henderson’s 2010 self-titled full-length debut.

2013 saw the release of Henderson’s self-titled EP, a collection of covers and remixes that included one of my favorite songs off the set, Henderson’s cover of Chromatics’ “In the City,” which paired Henderson’s icy delivery with a Portishead and The Velvet Underground and Nico-inspired production. Last year, Geoff Barrow’s Invada Records, released an icily foreboding, dub-inspired cover of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” by the mysterious Invada All Stars featuring Anika on vocals as part of the  Stop Trident National anti-nukes demonstration in London.

Since then, Henderson has been busy with her most current musical project, Exploded View is collaborative side project fronted by the renowned vocalist and featuring a group of Mexico City-based producers including Martin Thulin, known for his work with JOVM mainstays Crocodiles; Hugo Quezada and Amon Melgarejo — and the project’s sound finds Henderson and company moving away from the krautrock-inspired sound of her solo work, and towards a seemingly fuzzily atmospheric and baroque-like psych pop.  After completing the material that would comprise the band’s self-titled debut album, the members of the band decided to return to the studio and record some more, with the result being the Summer Came Early EP. Comprised of some outtakes from the self-titled album, along with some new material, their follow-up EP reportedly finds the band crafting sons that carefully walk a tightrope between clarity and focus and a messy, free-flowing experimentalism that comes from improvisation.

Interestingly, EP title track “Summer Came Early” may arguably be one of the most delicate and bitterly wistful songs that the band has released to date — while thematically, the song is written as a post-permanent climate change ode to how the environment once was, with the caveat that no one questioned anything and no one did anything besides lazily sat down and gave up. And when the proverbial shit hit the fan, the only action that was left  was to point fingers at someone else. It’s a bit reminiscent of the famous T.S. Eliot poem isn’t it?

Directed by William Markarian-Martin is an eerily psychedelic vision of the hellish and permanent damage that humanity has done to the environment, and while wistful it possesses an eerie fatalism and acceptance.

 

New Audio: Andrew Hung Returns with a Plaintive Ode to Pushing Buttons to Get What You Want

Perhaps best known as one-half of renowned electronic music duo Fuck Buttons with Benjamin John Power, Worcester, UK-born, Bristol UK-based electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Andrew Hung much like his bandmate has focused on a number of various side projects including  Dawn Hunger, a band he founded with Clarie Inglis (vocals) and musician Matthew de Pulford, production work, co-producing   Beth Orton‘s Kidsticks, as well as releasing solo material with his debut EP, Rave Cave. 

Now, as you may recall, Hung’s full-length debut Realisationship is slated for an October 6, 2017 release through Lex Records and album track “Animal,” found Hung exploring a more organic, lo-fi-like sound featuring a gorgeous and lush string arrangement, buzzing power chords, hard-hitting electronic beats and slashing synths paired with Hung’s primal, punk rock howling.  As Hung explains in press notes “Animal is a warning that oppression brings about consequences; we have bred fear and now we are reaping its effects. We cannot address the external without first addressing the internal.”

Interestingly, “Elbow,” Realisationship’s latest single may arguably be one of the more personal songs on the album, as it’s influenced by an experience Hung had as a small child. As the Worcester-born, Bristol-based electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist explains in press notes, “Once when I was a small child and wanted to get a fake nose-ring from this shitty shopping-centre stall in Kidderminster but being young, I was really afraid of buying it. Consequently I stood there for a long while trying to pluck up the courage to get said fake nose-ring before the woman came out from behind the stall and told me to fuck off. I went home crying . . . ‘ Elbow’ is about pushing buttons. As for the stall, when my sister found out, she took me back and gave the woman a right bollocking.” 

Sonically speaking the song consists of a mischievous and almost childlike production featuring layers of twisting, turning and twinkling synths, swaggering, hip-hop-like drum patterns,  trippy blasts of guitar and swirling electronics paired with Hung’s plaintive and yearning vocals to simultaneously express the frustration, fears and humiliation of youth — well, of life, generally. But sometimes, you have to break out of your shell and take a ridiculous risk for the things that you really want in life, and the song serves as a reminder of that. 

 

Born Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws in Bristol, UK and currently based in Berlin, Germany, the British-born, German-based emcee, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Tricky is arguably one of the most influential and important artists of trip-hop  — both as a member of the genre’s pioneering act Massive Attack and as a solo artist, who has also collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including Terry Hall, Bjork, Gravediggaz, Grace Jones, Live’s Ed Kowalczyk, PJ Harvey, and others. And throughout his career, both as a member of Massive Attack and as a solo artist, the British-born, German-based emcee, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer has a long-held reputation for being difficult to pigeonhole as his work and aesthetic draws from American and British hip-hop, rock, dub, reggae, punk rock, New Wave and ambient electronica while blurring the lines between each genre and style in an unrecognizable fashion.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you may recall that I had written a bit about Tricky’s musical project, Skilled Mechanics, a project that he started almost as soon as he relocated to Berlin. And while in a conventional sense, whenever a renowned solo artist would form a band it was largely considered a sign that the artist was sick of the spotlight and desperate to fade into something much larger than themselves, Tricky’s motivations for the project was the opposite — with the idea that Tricky would take more of a leading role with a series of rotating collaborators and friends.

 

Unsurprisingly, the renowned artist and producer has also managed to work on and release solo material, including the critically applauded single “The Only Way,” which managed to be a subtle change in sonic direction with the original version nodding towards the lush, cabaret crooner sound of  Edith Piaf. He then recently, a stopped down mix of the song that emphasized the loneliness and ache at the core of the song; but along with that, Tricky had been working on the material, which would comprise his forthcoming album ununiform. Slated for a September 22, 2017 through False Idols Records/!K7 Records, the renowned trip-hop artist and producer’s 13th album reportedly finds his material reflecting a larger and perhaps more radical step forward — towards happiness and contentment, while he confront his own artistic legacy, his own family and even death.  The album’s latest single “Running Wild” features  Mina Rose’s husky yet soulful vocals singing over a moody yet lush production featuring strummed guitar, shimming strings, stuttering drum programming — but underneath the surface is plaintive and visceral longing that hasn’t been revealed to this extent in his previously released work.

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Fuck Buttons’ Andrew Hung Releases a Primal New Single

Worcester, UK-born, Bristol UK-based electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Andrew Hung is arguably best known for being one half of renowned electronic music duo Fuck Buttons with Benjamin John Power, an act that can trace its origins to when Hung and Power began collaborating together to create a soundtrack to a film that Hung had made but immediately after forming Hung and Power had started playing live whenever possible and soon began gathering a cult following for a sound that employed the use of a variety of instruments including Casiotone keyboards and children’s toys such as a Fisher-Price karaoke machine — and the result was a live sound that Time Out Magazine once described as an “adrenaline pumping, ear purging slab of towering, pristine noise.”

Their limited edition 7″ single “Bright Tomorrow” was released to critical praise from the likes of Drowned in Sound, Pitchfork, Mojo and Stereogum, and building upon growing buzz, Hung and Power played critically applauded live sets at 2007’s Supersonic Festival, Truck Festival and Portishead’s curated ATP Festival; in fact, after those sets, a number of media outlets named them as a Hot New artist for 2008 with outlets like The Observer calling their sound “a joyous racket of swirling atmospherics and percussive gunfire,” in an article highlighting them in a new, contemporary wave of intelligent, literate British pop music.  Since then the duo released three critically applauded full-length albums — 2008’s Street Horsing, 2009’s Tarot Sport and 2013’s Slow Tarot; however, over the past few years the duo have focused on various side projects and production work: Hung started a band Dawn Hunger with Clarie Inglis (vocals) and musician Matthew de Pulford. But he’s released a solo EP, Rave Cave and has co-produced Beth Orton’s Kidsticks. Power has released three critically applauded albums with his solo recording project Blanck Mass — 2011’s self titled debut, 2015’s Dumb Flesh and 2017’s World Eater.

Hung’s solo full-length debut Realisationship is slated for an October 6, 2017 release through Lex Records and the album’s latest single “Animal” is a tense and forceful track that finds Hung exploring a more organic, lo-fi-leaning sound featuring a gorgeous string arrangement, buzzing power chords, slashing synths, forceful electronic beats and drumming and Hung’s primal, punk rock-like howling. As Hung explains in press notes “Animal is a warning that oppression brings about consequences; we have bred fear and now we are reaping its effects. We cannot address the external without first addressing the internal.”

New Video: Hannah Williams and The Affirmations Return with the Achingly Devastating Visuals for “Late Night and Heartbreak”

Hannah Williams is a Bristol, UK-born and based singer/songwriter and soul artist, who can trace the origins of her own musical career to growing up in an extremely musical family; Williams’ father was a musician and minister at the local church, and her mother, recognizing that she had some talent, allowed Williams to join the church choir when she was 6. Unsurprisingly, like a a lot intensely musical homes, Williams learned how to read music before she could actually read words. 

With the release of her 2012 full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams exploded into the both national and international scenes, thanks in part to the success of album single “Work It Out,” which received attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the US, Australia and the European Union; in fact, at one point, “Work It Out” was the most downloaded song in Greece, and according to her label, Record Kicks Records, the video has — as of this point — received over 1.5 million plays on YouTube. Adding to a growing international profile, Williams has played sets at some of Europe’s biggest festivals including Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival,as well as some of Europe’s well-known clubs including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others with the likes of  Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Cat Power, and Charles Bradley. 

Williams’ sophomore effort Late Nights and Heartbreak, which was produced by  The Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto, and marked both the first time Williams has worked with Catto, as well as the first recorded output with her backing band, the Bristol-based soul unit, The Affirmations, comprised of James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals). And as you may recall, the album, which featured singles like the fierce, Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and psychedelic soul rendition of “Dazed and Confused” that managed to draw from equally from the original version written by Jake Holmes, Led Zeppelin’s legendary cover and The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” as well as some of the most personal and heartfelt material I came across last year, was one of my favorite albums in 2016, decidedly taking the top spot on last year’s Best of List. 

Recently, the Bristol-born and-based soul artist and her backing band have received greater international attention after renowned, smash hit producer NO I.D. convinced Jay-Z to use the hook of album title track “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for the superstar artist’s album title track “4:44,” making his track a personal statement of his infidelity in response to Beyonce’s Lemonade. Of course, as you hear on Williams’ “Late Night and Heartbreak,” the song focuses on infidelity but also on the narrator’s crippling and confounding inability to figure out their own desires, their fears of vulnerability and heartbreak and their deception both to themselves and their partner. But at the core of the song is something that the song’s narrator and the most people don’t want to readily admit — that it’s difficult to face yourself  and your own life with the sort of unflinching honesty that you may have for others. And as a result of the song coming from a deeply personal and lived-in place,  it packs an unexpected and devastating wallop, especially if you’ve been on either side of a troubled, deception-filled relationship. 

Directed by Nick Donnelly, who has worked on videos for the Wu-Tang Clan, Martha Reeves and Akala and DJ Khaled, the recently released video for “Late Nights and Heartbreak” was filmed in Williams’ hometown and focuses on the sort of deeply troubled relationship at the heart of the song. As Williams explained to Complex, the video “depicts the realisation that sometimes the most burning love is for ones’ own passion, and when a human relationship gets in the way it will lead to heartbreak.”