Live Reviews, Uncategorized

Slap bang in the middle of Melksham’s post-rock titans Thought Forms’ UK tour, a stop on the winding road at Swindon’s Level 3 proved to be and incredible and breath taking evening of power and sound.

The evening was opened by The Hound on The Mountain, a solo project in the process of becoming a full live band, featuring Jack Moore on drums, delivered an outlandish alternative rock sound with an abundance of style. The carefully constructed songs navigated through sounds reminiscent of Jack White and Talking Heads. It delivered a taste of something that was new, raw and undoubtedly different.

Now it was time for the main event, the moment that the 50 strong crowd had been waiting for. From the moment that the first chord was hit, Thought Forms were a powerhouse, delivering a wall of sound that gave the audience a euphoric and captivating feeling. They were locked in a tornado of sonic splendour, while the band danced around the stage as if they were possessed. They were a tight nit unit, doing their jobs perfectly.

At times you would lose yourself in a trance of sonic waves and occasionally forget where you where because everything was perfectly timed it felt like you were listening to the songs on record. Songs like Landing, Forget my name and the final song Burn Me Clean standing out as some of the most powerful moments of the evening, not to mention Ghost Mountain You and Me which was a hypnotizing display of the ability, passion and craftsmanship of Thought Forms. The band stand out as a group that pour their heart and souls in their work and everyone who sees them live will knows that a Thought Forms gig is more than a gig, it’s an experience.

Words by Rob Mckelvey


Live Reviews

Before tonight not much could be guaranteed about Fat White Family founder Saul Adamczewski’s new project Insecure Men. They had previously performed one show somewhere in New York and the only real taste of the new venture could be found in Saul’s Karaoke for One a nine track album available on the Insecure Men Soundcloud made up of covers performed by Saul and his keyboard.

Needless to say, with the vast growth in Fat White Family’s popularity and the air of mystery around what this new endeavour would sound like, tickets for the show sold out almost immediately. This was to be something special, a first glimpse at something fresh and undoubtedly weird, with the promise of uncommon instruments within the band, including a vibraphone as well as a lap steel guitar.

The evening started with Sleaze a four piece with some serious balls, the frontman had a striking resemblance to a young Begbie from Trainspotting, maybe it was the moustache that gave me this impression, but something was definitely screaming young Robert Carlyle at me. The bassist looked like he could have been a member Marilyn Manson in the early days, dressed in ankle high boots with knee high black socks, leading up to a black skirt ad then a black shirt and tie, all topped off with a huge afro like hairstyle squashed under a trucker style cap with the words “MEATUP” printed into it.

The sounds of Sleaze were very bass driven, it seemed to be the meat of the songs, while the guitar and keyboard seemed to enjoy a lot of harmonies that added an extra layer to the bass and gave it an almost country like twang at times. It was well rehearsed and performed brilliantly, there was definitely a strong stage presence that connected with the crowd, which is always so inspiring to see from bands with a pretty small reputation.

The next band Horsey brought something much different to the table, to start off the entire band’s image said to me that these four got half way through a degree in geography and realised what a stupid fucking life choice it was, and so decided to start a band. A few of the members honestly looked like they could have been part of some university comedy show like Fresh Meat.

When they started their set I was almost instantly pushed away, they keyboard player and guitar player would share harmonies like the last band, but it seemed out of tune and out of practice, it almost felt a bit painful to watch. Eventually it seemed to warm up and the two delivered some really good harmonies which complimented the music really well, I’m unsure as to whether the earlier out of tune vocal harmonies were on purpose as they seemed to be trying really hard to give off this kind of rough edge.

The way that they would deliver some harmonies was like they had spent years of their youth in the church choir, this and the lyrical content combined with their image seemed to really reflect that they were tired of living with mummy and daddy in the 10 bedroom estate house somewhere in the country, they wanted to move to the city and play in a band but still kept a strand of their upbringing.

I say all of this like I hated the band and I thought they were a bunch of posers, but really the way their lyrics were structured, the way they would go from quiet parts with choir like vocals into madness and screams like a posh Heck in a split second. They were different and at times they impressed me and caught me off guard.

But now, on to the main event the reason so many had travelled to Brixton to cram themselves into a small pub, Insecure Men! I would like to point out at this part that while trying to cool off in the cold January air in the venue’s garden my friend and fellow writer Liam spotted Lias and a few other members of Fat White Family sat down entangled in conversation in the smoking area, it was at this point that Liam began to scream like a with excitement! This was also interesting because Lias had been present in many of Saul’s Instagram posts that were to do with Insecure Men rehersals or recordings, so now it felt like there was a strong possibility that he would be part of the large cast of musicians to feature within the band.

As we ventured back inside to take our place for the show, a man in a dark velvet suit, with a thick beard and a kind of trilby hat with a large peacock feather sticking out at one of the sides was setting up a lap steel guitar. He soon exited the stage to fetch more equipment and while doing this he bumped into me trying to get past, almost instantly I could hear people all around me talking about who this mysterious man could be.

The strongest rumour seemed to be that it was the son of John Lennon, Sean. I quickly flicked on to one of his social media profiles to find the poster for the show with the with the caption “I’d love to invite you to this show, but it’s sold out” it was true, and the son of John Lennon had brushed shoulders with me, I will probably never stop bragging out it, I know it sounds silly, but then the man is technically half of a quarter of the Beatles.

The true triumph of this evening was the logistical masterpiece of managing to fit eight people onto a stage that I had watched four people struggle to share all evening, in total there was a drummer, vibraphonist, a saxophone player, bassist, two keyboard players, Sean Lennon on lap steel guitar and Saul with guitar and vocals. They were squeezed on to the point where you could only actually see four of them for pretty much all of the set.

Once Insecure Men began they captivated the audience with the unbelievable wall of sound, so many instruments combining together to create mellow almost heartbroken noises. The lyrical content was at times hard to pick out due to Saul’s vocals occasionally being mumbled, however I am sure that this was part of the song to compliment his mellow vibe. However, the lyrics that I did hear clearly were provoking, funny and almost chilling.

I remember being moved when the words “I never got to kiss my lover, she’s buried in foreign sands” was repeatedly muttered through a song, I laughed when he announced the title of another song Whitney Houston and I, singing “Whitney Houston and I enjoy hot showers” seeming hinting towards some illicit substances that the pair may also have common interests in. There was also a song where he seemed to throw a lot of shade at Rod Stewart, I don’t recall the lyrics entirely but he definitely wasn’t singing Rod’s praises. Saul didn’t seem afraid to go all the way and say what he wanted to say with these songs.

The set was rather short, probably about 45 minutes or so, but for an act that haven’t released anything but a short album of covers I wasn’t expecting much more. Needless to say I was blown away by the craftsmanship and passion that had been thrown into this project, the collection of friends that Saul had managed to bring to the stage for the evening, and how it was all held together very well despite having minimal time to rehearse as a full group, there was one point where Saul seemed to get a bit angry towards the saxophone player for playing a few notes wrong during one song, before turning around to the audience and apologising saying how “shit” it was, although I still thought it didn’t sound too bad. He sometimes would wave his arms looking pissed off at sections of the band, like a violent orchestral conductor.

Overall it was a fantastic glance at an interesting new band, that dare to be and do things differently, to throw in as many instruments as possible to produce sounds that may be uncommon to many gig goers. Insecure Men stand out as one of this years most exciting new acts and I eagerly await an upcoming EP or album!

Words by Rob McKelvey


Features, Uncategorized

It must have been frustrating following the career of Hype Williams. With memory of life prior to the internet feeling increasingly foggy, any fact which isn’t a quick Wiki search away begins to be treated with the utmost contempt. How dare you not divulge accurate information? What do you mean you’ve joined the nation of Islam? How the fuck did you both meet watching Oasis at Knebworth?

Details of the project’s inception are shrouded in mystery; supposedly an art relay project, each incarnation taking hold of the helm for five years. This particular manifestation was domineered by the elusive artists Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, although neither of those names turned out to be genuine. To this day the backgrounds of both artists remain relatively unknown, with just fragments of dubious claims emerging – such as Dean Blunt actually being an ex-boxer.

The music itself became notorious for its post-modern bricolage; steeped in irony, with the line between fact and fiction, sample and composition, utterly blurred. Loosely associated with the post-hypnagogic underground, Hype Williams filtered the history of electronic music, movie dialogue, and long forgotten pop through a stubbornly lo-fi, crackled facade, adding dub dynamics and pitch shifted vocal trickery. The sound – like their persona – consistently evaded clarity, revelling in the distortion of perception. As Chal Raven noted whilst writing for Dummy back in 2012, “No amount of quasi-academic scrutiny can reveal the “answers” to Hype Williams. The music is its own armour.”

It’s a curious contradiction; the elusive nature of Hype Williams seemed to run against a vital internet mantra – ‘share everything’ – yet conversely, so much of the groups identity seemed utterly dependent upon digital culture. From crediting the artwork of their album Black Is Beautiful to Danny Dyer, to releasing an output of such gargantuan size that it would put Mark E Smith to shame. This hyper exposure to culture – as well as a hyper production of their own – makes them a quintessential embodiment of the digital avant-garde. With an over-saturation of music within our daily lives, what unavoidably emerges is a state of demystification. In the case of Hype Williams, the duo managed to re-achieve a sense of mystique through relentless dishonesty.

Prior to the release of their two most widely available albums – under the Hype Williams moniker – the duo had already forged one of the most potent articulations of their sound. 2010’s Untitled comes across as if it were formed from an impromptu jam session, the track Untitled 4 building steadily around a central trudging drum procession, with a seasick drone growing increasingly erratic. Meanwhile the albums opener, Untitled 1, miraculously achieves a kind of vitally modern, ambient pyschedelia; an ambience that stems from the manic bombardment of endless information.

They followed Untitled with two more full lengths as Hype Williams, though neither were truly able to achieve a similarly bizarre concoction. Both 2010s What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, and Star Gettin’ Real and 2011s One Nation felt largely lost within a foggy miasma, unable to take a truly worthwhile form. In 2012 However, the duo released the album Black is Beautiful, under the names Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland. Though Black is Beautiful shares much of the woozy demo-esque sound that defined both One Nation and What Happens When…, where the album differs is its altogether bolder feel. The project in no way harnesses or tames the ardent experimentalism, but manages to make it all the more impressionable. The misshapen, battered footwork of 12; the garbled flow of 9, which sits atop a kaleidoscopic Casio jam, sounding simultaneously cheap and cosmic; or the LCD laced digi-dub of 10, with Copeland seemingly attempting a ritualistic incantation, whilst wildly mutating synths screech and wheeze in the background. 

Black is Beautiful marked the dissolution of Hype Williams, and the emergence of Dean Blunt as solo auteur. On his mixtape The Narcissist – later re-released as The Narcissist II, with alterations on the tracks – Blunt’s baritone first truly emerges, largely becoming the musics foreground. The Narcissist II and his 2013 debut album, The Redeemer, offer dual perspectives on the same destructive relationship; one in the midst of the carnage (Narcissist) whilst the other delivers some form of reflection (Redeemer).
Both The Narcissist II and The Redeemer have been compared to a play or soap opera, with The Narcissist II being flat out cinematic – journo cliche, I know. It provides a voyeuristic scurrying through various dimly lit city flats, conjuring images of couples bellowing at each other, whilst lower floor neighbours screech in dismay at chaos unfolding above. The music of The Narcissist II is a sludging, beaten ‘n’ bruised R&B. A kind of knackered soul persists, the genre worn thin and drained of euphoria, a narcotic induced hysteria taking its place. Documenting the bitter demise of a relationship, The Narcissist II is relentlessly pessimistic. A dour, rain drenched account of modern romance, identifying the point at which extreme passion teeters over towards acts of jealous violence. Despite the turmoil and anguish seeping out of each faulty synth stab and shattered vocal, in the title track we find a song destined to achieve classic status. The devastating interplay between Copeland and Blunt; its melodicism submerged in an ocean of tape hiss; a symphony of sirens ebbing in and out of this deeply unflattering private affair.
The Redeemer may very way be Blunt’s greatest achievement to date – an album spoken of in hushed tones among certain circles. Throughout, Blunt deceptively adopts the role of dishevelled crooner. A semi-competent mimicry of the heartbroken troubadour, his voice overreaching and cracking at regular intervals, it being impossible to discern between yet another sly divergent tactic and feelings of genuine heartache. The Redeemer may toy with the confessional singer songwriter archetype, but its fragmented – wholly disjointed – narrative stubbornly evades any cliches associated with “the breakup album”, able to inject absurdist humour within deep spats of lethargic depression.
Despite The Redeemer’s title – obviously suggesting a shift in morals or desire for personal growth – surface level perception has never really been at the height of Dean’s goals. There are unavoidable questions that demand positing. Is this relationship genuine? If so, what about his account? Blunt is as much playing with the form (breakup/emotionally redemptive album) as he is attempting to find emotional catharsis through his art. The Redeemer – though equally open to melodrama – is a more solemn affair than The Narcissist II, the instrumentation stripped bare, Blunt’s voice withering to a hazy drool.
Sonically the instrumentation deceptively mimics the more confessional tone, with fake midi strings sitting across various samples, Joanna Robertson adding finger picked guitar work – all building up these seemingly more honest songwriting tropes. What is perhaps most endearing about the project is its scope and ambition relative to its actual technical ability and resources. The desire to say something grand or epic, despite not having the tools at hand – which an acclaimed/famous composer would have access to. This also comes across on the accompanying mixtape/album Stone Island, a release supposedly made entirely in a Russian hotel room. The most breathtaking example would be on track 6, which samples an iconic portion of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, adding almost absurd levels of drama to Blunt’s forlorn narrative.
Despite the acclaim Blunt had achieved by this point, he was dismayed to discover the reach of his art. “I made this stuff so black people would be impressed”, he confided to The Wire, “I didn’t know white people were gonna get in on it. But it’s mostly a bunch of sexless guys that buy my records.” The subject of race has always been a crucial aspect to Dean’s art, but on both 2014’s Black Metal and his work as Babyfather, it became its most prominent topic.
Black Metal was themed around the black appropriation of dead white tropes, with Blunt believing this to be a regressive act, as those who are truly radical should venture into something new and undefined. It may then seem odd to discover that the albums first half is comprised of nothing but white tropes – musically anyway. Chiming, sun-kissed indie; rustic folk explorations; Blunt continuing to develop the string laden balladeer persona; its only when we arrive at the mid section when we start to delve further into genres like dub or hip-hop – although even then they’re given titles like Punk or Country. In regards to his decision behind all this, well… as always with Dean, its difficult to decipher within interviews whether he’s providing helpful context or further blurring the picture. What the album does do is bring in to question a number of key issues young black artists face, issues to do with wider appropriation and pressures to assimilate rather than investigate your own culture. But unlike a thinkpiece or social realist art piece, the album isn’t simply providing a straightforward critique of real world issues, rather exploring these themes in an engulfing surreal environment.
The last two years have found Blunt drifting towards a far more overtly hip hop sound, coming into full fruition on 2016’s “BBF” Hosted By DJ Escrow. More pirate radio transmission than album; mixtape-like in it’s fluctuation in sound; grime beats sit side by side with brutalist noisescapes, whose layers of corrosive static leave a molten mess in their wake. The utterances of DJ Escrow give shards of narrative, a hopeful MC worn down the pressures of inner city life; meanwhile Blunt’s detached flow reveals a thinly veiled rage. The near instrumental Deep – with production aid from Arca – threatens an inevitable combustion; lysergic synths wail, replicating a woozy bent out of shape string section; an oppressive atmosphere, Escrow intersecting with desperate lines, doom laden utterances, a claustrophobic insistence that he’s “in too deep.” His most politically engaged, radical release, “BBF” was considered a novelty endeavour by some; understandable given his reputation as a prankster, but there’s a crucial lesson to be learnt with Blunt… he might sometimes be taking things seriously.
Words by Eden Tizard


Music Reviews

Musical fatigue will haunt you eventually. With the avalanche of material we encounter as digital natives, you’ll soon come face to face with that dreaded emptiness; ‘why do these sounds have no impact on me?’ Marie Davidson pulled me out of said rut – specifically with her astonishing latest album: Adieux Au Dancefloor (which translates as ‘farewell to the dancefloor’).

Davidson manoeuvres around a multitude of artistic fields; part spoken world poet, part industrial experimenter, part synth pop auteur – but a crucial aspect of this album lies with her relationship towards the dancefloor. Both acting as crazed participant and detached observer; Marie offers up a multifaceted – retro-futurist – take on dance music’s carnal ecstasy, keenly observing how, “touring and playing live late at night can lead to destructive habits and behaviours.”

A crystallisation of her singular output can be located on Naive to the Bone; with its hilarious monologue combating the jaded and the cynical; positing the question, “Is it that you feel superior behind your costume of indifference? In the middle ages, people used to wear cloaks, it’s 2016 get real.” This accusatory tale is backed by a jagged synthetic pulse, absorbing and re-configuring vast swathes of electronic history; industrial, EMB, synthpop, techno, and the label DFA (a label she belonged to as part of the coldwave duo Essai Pas).         

A propulsive monochrome seeps from this music; a stark pallet anything but lifeless. Some of the most confounding dance music of late beams with a surge of technicolor, but Marie occupies the contrasting spectrum with ecstatic and defiant charge. 

For the most part the album sticks to the minimal, though you will stumble across sudden interjections of cavernous texture. It typically feels like a de-cluttering of sound, something which is actually quite refreshing given the state of density in electronic music. Besides, the tracks may be minimal, but their impact is unquestionably maximal; take the sweltering Inferno, by the songs end its achieved deliriously fevered heights; the writhing modulation left audibly unstable. The album concludes with the title track – Adieux Au Dancefloor – a sumptuous exercise in synth pop euphoria, situating Davidson at her most traditionally song based. 

Jessy Lanza’s Oh No can be somewhat seen as a kindred spirit to the LP – by no means in terms of actual sound, more in the way it tackles the over-saturation of influences we’ve become sickeningly accustomed to. Instead of slavishly recreating, why not instead treat your sources with a degree of playfulness; blur, mutate, juxtapose; in that sense Adieux Au Dancefloor is a potently modern and transfixing record.     

Words by Eden Tizard


Music Reviews
Has Yung Lean stood the test of time? Well, kind of. A once highly talked about rapper from Sweden, known for his very unique style of music and high focus on aesthetic, Lean has slowly backed out of the limelight. He has developed a cult following who will more than likely go any lengths for him, even if he were to start a folk jazz fusion band.
Even after the giant buzz of Yung Lean at around 2014, the influences he brought to youth culture are still with us today. After this period, Yung Lean continued to release great music, with his album Warlord being released early this year, along with playing a sold out date in London in May and playing Reading & Leeds festival, which still garnered a large crowd. Although Yung Lean isn’t as hugely popular as he once was, people still wouldn’t pass on the opportunity to see him perform live.
So as a Yung Lean fan since the Oreomilkshake days, it absolutely killed my soul when I listened to Hennessy & Sailor Moon, Yung Lean’s newest track which was released last Friday. The title sums up the aesthetic style of Yung Lean – anime and alcohol. Lean became famous for his hard beats and his autotuned voice. This song has neither. It seems as if Yung Lean is having an attempt at writing a ballad in his own style of songwriting. I’m glad he’s experimenting in different styles; it worked beautifully in the punk-style vocals of Miami Ultras. But it just doesn’t work here. Previously, any sung vocals by Lean were heavily autotuned, which sounded surprisingly nice when layered with the ethereal beats of producers Yung Gud and Yung Sherman – who are members of the ‘Sadboys’ collective with Yung Lean.
I will admit that when I first listened to some Yung Lean songs, my first impression is usually a dismissive one. But they slowly begin to grow on me as I began to understand Yung Lean’s unique style, which has remained fairly consistent over the past 3 years. But Hennesey and Sailor Moon is just not that good. I can appreciate that Yung Lean is putting emotion into his songs as he does with his other work, but this just isn’t good. I believe he is more than capable of finding a way of doing this new ballad style well – but he just hasn’t found how to do it yet. Most of the comments of the YouTube video praise the song, saying that Yung Lean is ‘growing up’ but it’s just extremely mediocre to me, a long time fan of Yung Lean. If a long time fan dislikes it then it will probably sound a lot worse for anyone who hasn’t heard his music before.
If you don’t know who Yung Lean is, listen to Hoover, Yoshi City or Volt. Something that isn’t this.
Words By Jordan Fann


Music Reviews

They’re back, and heavier than ever!

The sixth studio album from Sum 41, is a definite change of pace from their previous creations. The album sees the return of guitarist Dave Baskh after a nine year absence, also the addition of new drummer Frank Zummo – taking over from Steve Jocz. The years previous to this album were very hard times for Deryk Whibley. After overcoming addiction and several health problems, the bad have managed to put together an album that comes across as both ambitious and very personal. The 90’s pop punk kings don’t sound or look very pop punk anymore, certain tracks even showing a new metal presence to their music, which is something obviously attention-grabbing. This album is full of try-hard titles such as Goddamn I’m Dead Again, There Will Be Blood and War. Every title relates to death in some way, which is a new thought-provoking direction.

The opening track A Murder of Crows starts dramatically, with a tense, 90’s Tekkan videogame-like beat accompanied by soothing violins. It then drops into the typical Sum 41 sound with basic breakdowns and no stand out features. Deryck Whibley’s voice is as distinct as ever, even in this song, the track consisting of one verse with repetitive hooks. This song is extremely personal, the lyrics: ‘Takes a lot to just right the wrong, Just never felt this, so alive’ shows how Whibley knows he messed up bad, but he’s trying to right the wrong.

Goddamn I’m Dead Again starts with a pop-punk like beat, but then instantly kicks into a beasty guitar riff which knocks us straight off course. The metal-like guitar presence is strong throughout this song. It still sounds like them – same vocal patterns and similar lyrics, but with a refreshing rock revamp. ‘It’s off with his head, and on with the show, the old king is dead, gone in one fatal blow, and I don’t believe he’ll be coming back for more’ these lyrics show how personal this album is. It also shows how they have changed, but they will carry on for both themselves and the fans. The track still hints pop-punk throughout, but the guitar tempo change expresses the change psychically and well as vocally.

Fake My Own Death is the most popular single from the album. It starts quiet then blasts into yet another rhythm-y guitar beat. When the drums kick in it makes it sound quite generic, but then the vocals drop exposing their punk roots. The chorus is reminiscent of With Me from 2007’s Underclass Hero. This song shows they still have their edge they started with, displaying clearly that Baskh wants the audience to hear he has returned, but also demonstrate how they have changed. After hearing the song and watching the video released for it, it is clear they want to joke around and have a good time, not fully matured but are trying to be a bit more serious.

Breaking the Chain sounds a lot like a Linkin Park classic, a much mellower change from the first few songs on the album. This track really expresses how Whibley feels. Make no mistake, I’ve paid my price, I’ve done my time with the devil in disguise shows his true remorse for his previous mistakes. And yet again, they interpret a rhythmic guitar riff into the song, but this time it exaggerates the pain and gives it that gloomy edge.

There will be blood is another change of pace, as it doesn’t relate to the previous heart aching tracks. It’s rebellious and obscure to get the kids hyped up, showing they still want to leave their punk impression. ‘We’re gonna burn, We’re gonna burn this town, There’s no return, In all the words we vow’ expresses the need for rebellion. The song has the feel of a dark Marilyn Manson style cult chant.

I really enjoyed the title track 13 Voices. I think it sounds a lot like their older music but with their new modern twist. Starts with a nice gentle western guitar riff and then the pace immediately changes into a thrashing, exciting, whirlwind of pop-punk. This song talks a lot about death and murder which relates to the song titles throughout the album. For example: ‘And I don’t believe in redemption, and no one will be spared’ is just some of the negative connotations used throughout this track.

The single War really blew me away. It’s such a personal and deep song directed at Whibley’s addiction. ‘So all that I’m trying to say, I’m looking for a better way, Some days it just gets so hard, And I don’t wanna slip away’ really explains how he struggles but how he wants to go to war with his problems so he can overcome them. The track itself sounds quite pop, it consists of a piano melody and basic rhythm, but the lyrics really over power everything else.

The track God Save Us All (Death to Pop) shows how they want to mature out of their pop-punk phase. But it is completely contradictory because this track and the previous one are extremely pop. ‘Give it to me, give till you ain’t got anymore, ‘Cause I need it to believe it, that you got any soul’ these lyrics show how this song is very much a pop hit.

The Fall and the Ride is quite similar to some of their earlier work. As is Twisted by Design, this song is also speaks about Whibley’s personal issues again. The album ends with a personal tribute from Whibley which is a really moving finish. This album is enormously personal and very touching. It really shows how they struggled but how they also overcome their personal issues.

Words by Charlotte Griffiths


Live Reviews

The old cinema house was packed to the rafters with London’s edgiest psych fans, with all types of facial hair on show as mutton chops, moustaches and goatees bobbed and swayed to the droning of the keyboard.

As Wooden Shjips frontman and lead guitarist Eric ‘Ripley’ Johnson walked on stage the crowd burst into rapturous applause before the band went crashing at a million miles an hour into their first track Black Smoke Rise from their 2011 hit LP West. The warped vocals drifted through the room while the shredding guitar contrasted with a hard rock feel which seemed to bounce off the reverberation of the organ which echoed waves of ambient sound.

The low key visuals gave a sense of 1960’s psychedelia. A white bed sheet hung on the back of their stage as the band emerged in their uniform white t-shirts with static projections drowning the stage and diffracting off the tinfoil covered organ, filling the room with a strange effervescence.

Drummer Omar Ahsanuddin played a set that rocked Scala to its foundations smashing out beats nonstop for an hour and a half. Bassist – and most American sounding man in the world – Dusty Jermier waved from side to side as his hair whipped across his face, whilst the bassline oscillated, coated in a thick reverb. Nash Whalen on the organ helped the band to produce a sound that was as haunting and melancholic as it was dreamy and ethereal.

Words by Tommy Kendall


Music Reviews

Despite being only 19 and facing the daily adversities of the opportunity black hole that is Somerset, Harry Thomas is set to release The Journeyman – his first cracker of an EP on November 24. Solid musicianship and a devotion to the genre are the forefront of Thomas’ charm, with heavily recognisable influence from similar artists such as Frank Turner, and even an early days Foo Fighters-esque riff rearing its head on opening track Pulled Apart.

Having toured last year, playing small shows around the country and working on his EP simultaneously, Harry Thomas is a paragon of the Xtra Mile/This Feeling mindset; a hard working and determined singer-songwriter with versatility, as demonstrated by the polarities of ballad Sleeping by Myself and Castles in the Sky.

With snappy riffs and songwriting-by-numbers lyrics, Castles in the Sky screams Only Revolutions era Biffy Clyro, but again with Thomas’ signature sound pulling through. Drawing heavily on personal experience and particularly the subject of love, The Journeyman EP feels like a stylistic little insight into his life, striking just the right chord when it comes to charisma vs talent. Stirling stuff.

The Journeyman EP is released on November 24, 2016

Check him out on Facebook @HarryThomasMusic

Words By Anna Smith