Hattie Briggs – The Sub Rooms -Stroud 25/1/2018

I had heard about 24 year old Hattie Briggs a long time before I finally got to see her live in Stroud. She was the winner of Fender (Guitars) Undiscovered Artist of the Year in 2017 going on to support Lucy Rose at Bush Hall. Judging by the audience turnout and response to her music, Stroud have taken her to their hearts as a local talent and her  30 minute set supporting Blue Rose Code on a wintry Burns Night  showed why.

Although she cites Eva Cassidy as an inspiration, Briggs actually comes across as reminiscent of a young Joni Mitchell, particularly in her opening songs. Her rearrangement of Cassidy’s version of the classic ‘Autumn Leaves’ proves that the skills involved in  covering a  song take real talent; re-arranging  means so much more than just copying. In addition, Briggs  demonstrates the art of losing herself in a song whilst simultaneously drawing  the listener into it, treating each song with respect and care whether it be a cover or an original. She achieves this through an authentic transmission of emotion, ranging across heartbreak to joy, using subtle and intelligent lyrics in her own songs  such as ‘Just Breathe’ and ‘Early Girl’ supported by her accomplished musicianship on the guitar and piano. ‘Early Girl,’ is a  commissioned song which brings tears to the eyes and although depicting the narrative of a Father’s thoughts and feelings for his premature baby 50 years ago, makes the event feel  just as relevant today. In less capable hands, this intensely personal account could have drowned in sentimentality and despair. Instead, Briggs gets the fragile balance just right.  This song, the first of 5 singles to be released over the year, will be out on 23rd February. A series of mini tours are arranged for late April.

Her success is underpinned by very hard work. I asked her for a few words about her musical project for 2018.

“The project I talked about will be 5 singles released in 2018, each with an accompanying music video or live video. They will be out everywhere online as well as in limited edition double CD/DVD packages including lyric mini-poster/cards. We think the project will be called 5_4:18 and I’m launching the subscriptions/crowd-funding on Monday, just like I did for “12 Months of Madness” last year. People will be able to preorder all five limited editions in advance, or on a monthly basis depending on if there are any left.
The music video for “Early Girl” will be out mid March. The track was premiered on BBC Glos by Dom Cotter on Thursday.”
It surely can’t be long until Hattie Briggs becomes known as an accomplished artist in her own right not as a supporting act but filling places like Bush Hall for herself and taking top billing. 2018 could well be the year.

“Can’t Stop or Rewind”-Chimpanbee – 24/1/2018

Chimpanbee are Ger Reid, Mike Fox, Damien O’Brien and Paul Barry , a 4 piece indie/rock band from Waterford. I last reviewed them in 2013 and am delighted to hear that their debut album “Can’t Stop or Rewind” will be released in February followed by a tour in April.

This album may have been a long time in the making (all songs were written in 2010) but it marks a point of  reflection and confidence, a summing up of the stage that Chimpanbee have reached at this moment in time. They are masters of consistency; there are echoes of psychedelia, 60s sound harmonies and the influence of bands like Oasis and Golden Earring thrown into the mix.  Yes, there is some cliche in some lyrics  and a slight vocal slip in Light it Up but what runs through the whole album is an energy that is life affirming. The lyrics show how the positive outweighs the negative experiences of life and the music underlines this, whether from the almost militaristic drumbeat of Snaakes to the delicacy of Can’t Stop or Rewind and the sheer exuberance of Fell in Love and Sleep in Your Bed. The album is worth listening to for these last two tracks alone. Don’t expect lightweight processed pop,this is an album that cries out to be played at full volume both at home and to large crowds. Parts of songs have been rerecorded a few months ago so established fans are eagerly awaiting the finished result and as for new fans – look out for dates of the tour -and have a great evening.

If you want to find them on facebook the link is :-

http://www.facebook.com/Chimpanbee

 

 

The Transports 10th January 2018

Went to see The Transports last night at Cheltenham Town Hall. This is simply a post to say how wonderful the evening was. It was powerful, included 10 well known names from folk music and told the story of Henry Cable and Susannah Holmes who were among the first transports to Australia and who were the first to  be married there. It also tells of John Simpson, a humane turnkey, and his effect on their lives. Running parallel to this narrative is the story of present day refugees. At the end of the day nothing has really changed over 200 years .

The Transports is on tour. See more about the show at thetransportsproduction.co.uk

The Hacienda- Ep- 8th January 2016

The Hacienda is a project formed by five guys from Florence. Since releasing their first Ep in 2009, the band has played more than 130 shows between Italy, Germany, the UK, Austria and the Czech Republic. They have supported bands such as Kasabian, The Kooks, Futureheads, Twisted Wheel, Deep Purple, Beady Eye, Catfish and the Bottlemen. The Hacienda relocated to London in 2013. The self referencing Ep of five songs was released in October 2015.

The Ep shows a range of styles and for me, serves as a great introduction to The Hacienda’s music. ‘Indian Love’sounds like early Beatles during their psychedelic phase with the same emphasis on a carefully crafted tune. ‘Dead  Boy’ with gentler rhythms and great harmonies has a sense of Procul Harem about it but shows the band’s skill in retaining the flavour of the 60’s without directly copying it. ‘She’s Mine As The Sun’ with its jauntier rhythms , delicate guitar work which then gives way to a more urgent sound leads into Northern Soul with ‘North Pole’ and ‘Too Late’being songs worthy of Arctic Monkeys. There is something for everyone on this Ep and on the strength of it, even better, would be to see them live.

The Vickers- The Dalston Victoria- 25th May 2014

The Dalston Victoria was the only British gig on this tour that The Vickers performed outside of their extensive European tour. I was able to interview them before they went on stage and they shared some thoughts.

They are here to play from their new set and sound from their latest album ‘Ghosts’ and will also include some experimental jamming. Obviously it is easier to tour Europe but next time they will try to do more in the north of Britain. They have recorded a lot in two years and took a long time experimenting, especially with guitar sounds. The album is doing well in Europe as the band have played both big venues and smaller ones like pubs. In a big venue people expect big bands, so they prefer smaller venues which are better for the band at the moment. They are aware of differences between each country they play in and are working to establish a solid base. Over the next few years they hope to be involved in medium sized festivals and to continue to write sincere, original music.

Few bands would have opened with an instrumental psychedelic soundscape let alone pull it off with the skill and panache that The Vickers did.Clear,shimmering guitar sounds introduced and then held by an urgent drum beat was a skilful way of grabbing the audience’s attention from the outset and from then on The Vickers held the audience in the palm of their hands. A small, enthusiastic audience added to a very charged atmosphere created through guitars layering a psychedelic feel over a  heavier rock sound with vocals connecting the two, whilst adding dimensions of both light and depth. This is a clever fusion, creating a real honesty to their sound, as well as proving that they are more than ready to take on the demands of a festival, where this new take on psychedelic music would be welcomed.

The Cornelius Crane -20th May 2014

Ruby Music are currently promoting Stephen Wilson,Dan Adams and Mark Adams aka The Cornelius Crane who come from East Manchester. Defining themselves as ‘Mancana, a Northern English slant on the early 70’s west coast sound of America,’ they have a 3 track Ep coming out on 2nd June.

The Ep provides a taster of a debut album due to be released in Autumn 2014. These three tracks are a mix of early Neil Young,The Flying Burrito Brothers, Buffalo Springfield, in short,Nashville colluding with a Mancunian take on life where lyrics dominate but still need the support of languid lazy drums and sleepy slide guitar.’Philistine Blues’ takes a country and blues stance with a contrast of sound and instruments,’Cage’ and ‘Oklahoma and me’ have the most intriguing lyrics evoking a past age where opportunities were endless, provided you chose wisely. Mancana is an intriguing possibility and it remains to be seen if it can be sustained over an entire album. Autumn should give us the answer.

‘The Art of Amputation’ EP by The Art of Amputation-30th April 2014

‘The Art of Amputation’ is a 4 piece band from London comprising Freddy De Lord, Hugh Fox, Allan Harrod, and Mark Hyden who are the latest signing of Ruby Music. They have played at The Garage in Islington and The Shacklewell Arms and have been described as ‘alternative synth soundscapers.’

This debut EP contains all the elements of dream pop, chugging beats that support incisive, existential lyrics occasionally delivered by a falsetto voice and the wail of a guitar that is perfect for adding an angst ridden edge to a song such as ‘Inside Our Glasshouse.’The band are all about texture and mood, creating a setting that allows the listener to become fully immersed in the overall blending of sounds and emotions. The effects in ‘Detroit’add another dimension to the melody and guitar riffs and also cleverly create  a musical connection with ‘Losing The Limb’, the shortest track at just over two minutes which proves that sometimes less is definitely more by distilling the essence of a song into a short space of time. The final track, ‘Scary Noises’, has an insistent driving rhythm that gives way to a gentler sound and repeated lyrics, another excellent commentary.

The tracks all come from live performances and have started to attract attention on radio playlists. More shows and releases are promised over the year.

White Count- The Battles of Winter-2nd March 2014

This is another single from the band’s forthcoming album ‘Standing at the Floodgates’. White Count follows on from ‘A Blackout for the Bloodsuckers’ which I have recently reviewed. A tour to promote the release of the album is due to start this month.

Both the track and the accompanying video are a mix of the personal crossed with Ultravox, Interpol and Editors. The video is militaristic in approach seemingly focussed on both human and biological warfare which makes for interesting viewing. The strongest feature is the intelligent and thoughtful narrative lyrics which are by turns provoking and chilling supported by music that is equally provocative and unsettling.It all makes for what promises to be an arresting album.

The Soul Collective- 28th January 2013

The Soul Collective are signed to Room 2 Grow which was founded in March 2012. I have listened to a number of tracks which are a blend of soul and hiphop, driven by the voices of Tristan Pennewell and Joe Walton who also write the lyrics.I expected urban grit but instead got a collection of tunes softened by a range of percussion and horns amongst other instruments. Voices meld and complement effortlessly, enhanced by delicate musical touches, catchy rhythms and horns that give a yearning poignancy. The lyrics are clear, revealing a rap commentary that ranges across a range of experiences, particularly of love and beauty. ‘Midnight Murder’is a particularly effective song, simple but powerful and the beautiful ‘Till the end of the Line’ for me encapsulates the skill of perfectly matched vocals and music. The accompanying video is well worth a watch as well.

Lost Without Cause : ‘Revival’ Ep: 31st October 2017

Lost Without Cause are a 3 piece band who have recently released the 4 track Ep ‘Revival’. 4 tracks can normally give only a taster of what a band intends but this Ep has managed to take one relationship and analyse it from four different perspectives.The focus is a tangle of emotions, intensity, loss,revival and renewal subtly shaped through the sheer intelligence of the lyrics, highly charged images that are personal and yet also universal.The music simply underlines and enhances the emotion rather than attempting to control it, resulting in an energetic and solid sound that can also be delicate when required. There are elements of Snow Patrol and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong but this is a thought provoking and perceptive Ep that stands on its own merits. More please!