Tag: Bristol UK

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Yola Performs “Faraway Look” on “CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions”

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the rising Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Yola. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstay has led a rather remarkable life; the sort of life that I think should eventually be made into an inspiring biopic: Yola grew up extremely poor; but she was fascinated by her mother’s record collection, and by the time she was 4, she knew she wanted to be a performer. Unfortunately, she was actually banned from making music, until she left home. Additionally, she has overcome being in an abusive relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally being engulfed in flames in house fire, all of which have inspired her Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which was released earlier this year through Easy Eye Sound.

The up-and-coming British singer/songwriter has received praise from a number of media outlets both nationally and internationally, including NPR, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, The Tennessean, Refinery 29, Billboard, American Songwriter, BrooklynVegan, Nashville Scene, Paste and Stereogum. But perhaps much more interesting she has opened for James Brown and joined renowned trip hop act Massive Attack before traveling to Nashville to work with Auerbach and a backing band that features musicians, who have worked with Elvis and Aretha Franklin.  

Now, as you may recall, album single “Ride Out in the Country” was a Muscle Shoals-like take on honky tonk country that to my ears recalled Sandra Rhodes’ under-appreciated Where’s Your Love Been. Centered around twangy guitar chords, lap steel guitar, some Rhodes electric organ, a soaring hook and Yola’s easy-going and soulful vocals, the song is an achingly sad breakup song, written from the perspective of someone reeling from a devastating breakup, complete with the recognition that your former lover has moved on and that maybe you should be doing so too — even if it’s profoundly difficult for you. Walk Through Fire‘s latest single is the slow-burning, swooning, Phil Spector Wall of Sound, meets classic Motown Records-like “Faraway Look.” Centered around an old-school arrangement and a soaring hook, the song is roomy enough for Yola’s incredible vocal range to shine. Interestingly, the song is about that precise yet profound and deeply awkward moment when it’s so obvious that you’ve fallen in love with someone that everyone else notices, including your object of affection. And in that peculiar moment, it’s now or never. 

So far this year has been a huge year for the rising Bristol-born, London-based singer/songwriter: she made her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall, played a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW — and she’ll be opening for a number of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates, which will include performances Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Brandi Carlile’s Girls Just Wanna Weekend in Mexico. She also made an appearance for Mavis Staples rotating birthday celebration tour. And earlier this year, she made an appearance on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions, where the rising JOVM mainstay and her backing band performed a gorgeous live version of “Faraway Look.”

Earlier this year, i wrote about the up-and-coming Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Katey Brooks, and as you may recall, with the release of 2016’s I Fought Lovers EP, Brooks quickly earned a national and international profile for a sound and songwriting approach that has been compared favorably to the likes of Jeff Buckley. In fact, material off the EP received enthusiastic airplay on  BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and  the CBC, and 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 Stones’ Bill Wyman and Paloma Faith

Interestingly, Brooks has a complicated and messy upbringing. She grew up in a cult, and as a 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 she was a teenager, she entertained her peers with soul renditions.

When she turned 16, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter 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,”Brooks 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 classic soul-inspired ballad “All of Me.” Centered around a spectral arrangement featuring a looping 12 blues guitar, a gospel-like backing vocal section, a two-step inducing rhythm section and Brooks achingly plaintive and soulful vocals, the new single will further establish the Bristol-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s ability to mesh craft, earnestness and ambitious songwriting in a thoughtful and natural fashion. But along with that much of Brooks’ material comes from real, lived-in places — in particular, the song’s narrator bitterly calls out a lover on their ambivalence. It was inspired by a personal situation with someone I was prepared to give my world to. They proclaimed deep love, but then proceeded to behave in ways that were completely incongruent with that proclamation”, revealsBrooks. Words can be very powerful and beautiful, but ultimately, when it comes to showing someone you love them, they’re cheap and easy to deliver. Actions tell us everything we need to know about how someone feels about us, and if they respect us – in every kind of relationship.” 

 

 

 


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”.

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.