Chlöe Howl – “23”

Music Reviews

Sectors of light reflect from disco balls nailed to the ceiling, shimmering onto the faces of optimistic teenagers at their very first prom.

As a teenager, you fantasise what it’s like to grow older and become independent, wishing away youth like an old friend you no longer wish to associate with. ’23’ sparks the realisation that adult life isn’t all its cracked up to be, and Howl completely nails it.

“Here we are at 23, always thought that we’d be somebody better,” the 23-year-old confesses over sparkly kaleidoscopic production, reminiscing old times and regretting ever wanting to grow up.

We spend our whole adolescent trying to act mature and pretending we can rely on ourselves that when the time comes to do just that we shatter with fear. It’s happened to you, it’s happened to myself and it’s happening to Chlöe Howl right now.

But we’ll figure it out one day. Here’s to our twenties.

Words: Jordan White

Insecure Men at Scala

Live Reviews, Music Reviews, Uncategorized

A dimming of lights, hush of music and a roar of the crowd indicated that Insecure Men had entered. Amongst the shadows, a determined voice yelled “Can we have some lights on the stage, so we can see what we’re doing?”

With this, a rolling green light revealed a musical extravaganza: a vibraphone, slide guitar and saxophone being amongst the many instruments they could fit onto the stage.

Buttoned up in suits and with an intense flash of blue light the nine-piece opened with ‘Cliff Has Left the Building’. Immediately, the atmosphere was cosmic, encapsulating the Californian suburbs daydream air of their recently released, self-titled album, ‘Insecure Men’.

Like wind turbines on a desolate hill, the band remained relatively stationary throughout, completely entranced in what they were doing. Meanwhile, the performance was unfaltering in visual strength, bodies in the audience swaying, hypnotised, frolicking in the paint palette of light – there were slime greens, romantic reds, marine blues and hot pinks.

In an amateur way, Insecure Men announced each of their songs: “This song is about Heathrow. It’s called Heathrow.” The childlike jig played a pivotal role in really dragging people back into reality with the uneasy chugging that slows and grinds to a halt.

Mid-way through the set, Fat White Family frontman, Lias Saoudi, slinks onto the stage with a half drunk pint in hand. The spotlight shifts and soon as the song (‘Ulster’) begins, it’s over, and he slides back off the stage, as if nothing had happened.

‘Mekong Glitter’ upped the ante as the setlist reached it’s end, stressing dirty guitar and dissonant mess on the piano during the solo. Unquestionably, the song bounced off all the walls as the whole crowd joined in unison for the chorus: “Why don’t you ever ask why? Why don’t you ever ask why?”

Closing the set, the smoke machine relentlessly huffed and puffed transporting the venue into the steamy bathroom where ‘Whitney Houston and I’ exists, leaving the audience in the ethereal haze they first stepped into.

 

Words by Meg Berridge

 

Edited by George Kennedy

Justin Currie and The Pallbearers at The Jazz Cafe

Live Reviews, Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Looking over the sea of wrinkles that was the crowd, it was clear that no one here, save the little boy playing on his parent’s or maybe even grandparent’s iPhone, was under the age of 25. A mass of pale bald scalps filled the room while the odd aroma of old spice mingled with ale, stout, and feet rose from the floorboards. The venue itself, for all of its history hosting world famous artists such as Amy Winehouse, Ben E King, Kym Mazelle, and Edwin Starr, looked completely modern.

The wooden detailing and warm ambience gives the cafe a cosy atmosphere. One thing which was a little strange to me was the first floor restaurant, which housed viewers throughout the night who ate as the performance took place, however the smell of the food could not mask the scent of middle occupants on the floor below. As the support act walked on stage the landing crowd took their places, a large number of them fought over the very few seats at the back of the room, fearing standing on their feet for an hour, while the brave ones filtered to the stage.

Les Johnson and Me opened the night, a Scottish bluegrass singer with a movingly deep soulful voice, unfortunately many of the crowd were unfamiliar with him or his work so the atmosphere suffered somewhat. An hour later the man everyone was there for took the stage. Justin Currie with his backing band The Pallbearers.

Opening with a rocking song from back in the Del Amitri days, ‘Just Like a Man’, an obvious crowd favourite from the reaction, the scintillating guitar tone mixing perfectly with the rough Glaswegian twang in Justin’s voice. A voice that hasn’t aged a day from his first record with Del Amitri back in 1985. From there they quickly rattled off the greatest hits of the Del Amitri days, ‘Be My Downfall’, ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’, ‘Tell Her This’, and ‘Always The Last To Know’ were particularly well received by the crowd, almost all of which sang along, knowing all the words to each and every song.

After warming the crowd up with the classics he moved on to the latest songs from his new album ‘This Is My Kingdom Now’, including the title song, ‘No Surrender, and ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’. His experience shines not only during the performance, but also in-between the songs, as the band left the stage for one of the more intimate songs he quipped “they hate the sad ones”, to a murmur of laughter “but then again, they’re all sad ones”.

Finishing with perhaps his most famous hit from the Del Amitri days, ‘Driving With The Brakes On’ was met with rapturous applause, as the crowd quickly moved moved out to catch the next train back in time for bargain hunt on BBC One.

 

Words by Jamie Raybould

 

Edited by George Kennedy

Shy FX at The Rainbow venues: Crane

Live Reviews, Music Reviews

There is a place, on Bowyer street, in the heart of Birmingham, that by daylight shows to be nothing more than a derelict building. A monument to the history of the city, it melts inconspicuously into the background, never showing its true face until the cowl of night smothers the area and the hordes of mangled, hammered and twisted creatures line up ready to be unleashed through the gates of hell (there were quite literally gates at the entrance). It was within this mob that I found myself that fateful night on the 14th of September in the year of our lord 2017, hoping not to enrage any of the beasts surrounding me who scrambled at the hiss of a Nos cracker like the call to arms of some strange serpentine monster. Soon however, the time came to release the crowd into the bowls of the abyss, known locally as the newly renovated Rainbow venues location: Crane.

As the mass stumbled clumsily down the stone steps into the warehouse, one can’t help but wonder which health and safety genius thought it a good idea to have hundreds of inebriated girls in high heels walk down a flight of steep stone steps, nevertheless the result is wildly entertaining. Once inside the venue the enormity of the space is rather disconcerting, an agoraphobic’s worst nightmare, the warehouse could easily house a Boeing 747 along with a couple of its buddies. The space soon filled up, however, and as soon as Shy FX took the stage, the crowd exploded with a paroxysm of movement, pulsating along to the tumbling beats rolling out of the huge monolithic slabs of speakers.

Starting off with the classics, ‘Original Nuttah’ bursted into the room and set the tone for the entire night, one of rapid-fire beats and machine gun MCing. Following that the old favourites return, ‘Shake ur Body’ and ‘Everyday’ excite the crowd, and interspersing his own songs with jungle remix’s of popular songs like ‘Rude Boy’ and ‘Concrete Jungle’, a song rather appropriately titled for the setting and the genre of the night. One fact quickly became apparent to everybody that was there, Shy FX was not letting up.

Track after track he kept drilling as if mining for gold, hammering down on us with heavy baselines and rolling melodies until the last song, a remix of ‘Bricks Don’t Roll’, a drum and bass classic which revived the crowd and sent them into a mass frenzy before barraging themselves through the gates into the night. Many DJ’s find themselves becoming obsolete within a few years, unable to keep up with the wants and needs of new fans, but even after 25 years since his first record Shy FX is still cemented as one of the best Jungle artists around.

 

Words by Jamie Raybould

 

Edited by George Kennedy

Live Review: The Ninth Wave

Live Reviews

 

It’s fair to say that the Ninth Wave aren’t quite like any other band. From their stylish gothic aesthetics to their vibrant, post-punk tinged tracks, the band haven’t put a foot wrong since their exciting shift that was solidified with the release of their debut EP ‘Reformation’ last year. It therefore doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see that everything about their London gig has been planned carefully and thoughtfully- from the unorthodox yet hugely innovative choice of venue, bringing an atmospheric show to the Sebright Arms featuring a certain degree of gothic drama.

The swelling crowd began to grow in size as they took the stage, bolstered by a notable number of faces keen to see what all the fuss is about. Brimming with brooding melodies, gothic synths and sky-high ambition, it’s the sound of a band who have certainly found their individuality. ‘Reformation’ embraces an empowering message with a deeply cathartic chorus, brought to life in such thunderous fashion.

Bringing shades of coloured lights, rapid synths glisten and ring around the venue, matched with soaring guitars and intense rhythms, alongside Haydn’s vocals that flow seamlessly. ‘Swallow Me’ sees the lipstick adorned, red gloved frontman shed his guitar and take the spotlight, every inch of him shining showmanship. Oozing confidence and vitality, the collection of songs on display reinforce their ability to lure the listener into their deliriously dark, brooding world, while simultaneously demanding attention.
Naturally, known singles ‘Liars’ and ‘Heartfelt’ provides real highlights, seeing the crowd lose all sense and jump along to its inescapable traits.

That evening confirms all our suspicions about this mysterious band. They truly are bursting with endless ambition and powerful determination to cut their own path. And with the release of newest single ‘New Kind of Ego’, plus a showcase at this years Great Escape already confirmed, the only way is up for this fiercely talented outfit. It surely won’t be long before their appeal spreads far beyond the corners of London.

Words by Lauren McDermott

Dave drops visuals for “Hangman”

Music Reviews, Uncategorized

After reigning the year of 2017 with his hit records No Words and Question Time, collaborating with Joey Bada$$, a sold out tour to making an appearance on Drake’s album “More Life” it seems 2018 will be another victorious one for the London rapper with the release of his first single of the year “Hangman” accompanied with visuals.

Directed by Jeaniq and Dir. LX, Dave is captured at ease in his naturalness spitting some intelligible charging verses on the streets of his hometown Streatham with his friends bouncing their heads and smirking at his clever use of wordplay.

Centred around an unembellished piano driven production by Nana Rogues, The Brit nominee raids the progressive beat with his gripping storytelling and eloquent rhyming, with references to knife crime to the TV series Peaky Blinders – “I brought the fam together like when Tommy got the black hand” 

Tunes like Thiago Silva and Samantha, the rapper’s love for composer Hans Zimmer and mentions of politics in his music proves Dave is an artist that cannot be categorised. But with a stripped back video matched with simple yet striking words sold with passion and sincerity, the rising star delivers the song as a powerful message to be heard.

Watch the visuals for Hangman on YouTube now.

 

Words by, Melissa Kasule

 

Edited by George Kennedy

Jac Jones drops new mix, ‘BTEC Rollers,’

Music Reviews, News, Uncategorized

 

Jac Jones is a freelance DJ based in West-Wales, who uses the technique of mixing a range of chopped and screwed drub beats, whilst dabbling in off-kiltered dynamic piercing sounds to create his best drum and bass tracks. Mixing on Pioneer Decks and composing his sounds via Serato DJ software.

On Tuesday 30th January he added to his soundcloud collection a new fetching drum and bass track called BTEC Rollers, BTEC Rollers weaves in heavy basslines, whilst intertwining poly rhythmic beats.

BTEC Rollers is a 19 minute glitchy, industrial and raw track that mimics primitive dj methods. Around seven minutes into the track Jac progressively delivers a mix and blend technique as he merges in Alix Perez ft BENABU- Numbers. The change between his mix and the critically acclaimed drum and bass track is a swift transaction. The reverse of his deck adds in a complimentary spin and is what helps adds to the build up of he transition so well.

Towards the end of Numbers you hear a tingle of indistinct spacious noises, however overlapping is a hard-juddering beat that dominates the subtle noises of harmonic chimes. This beat is a continuous tremor, that, at points has a heavy double drop, creating a intensive wave of distinctive beats.

At 10:41, Jac replaces the heavy boom production of the baseline with liquid drum and bass, sending you on what feels like a trippy, acidic journey. From looping hard beats, to weaving in hypnotic vibrations. However, the transition between doesn’t last for long as he slowly begins to add  in his 175bpm routine.

BTEC Rollers experiments with a wave of varied sounds, pioneering piercing trebles, whilst dabbling in gradual baseline drops.

If you haven’t already, go have a listen to BTEC Rollers by Jac Jones on Soundcloud, here

Make sure to follow his Soundcloud to check out more of his work: Jac Jones: Soundcloud

Majid Jordan – The Space Between (Album Review)

Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman complete the Toronto duo Majid Jordan – a group who have grown with the guidance of being signed to Drake’s OVO label. This relaxed second album of theirs solidifies a pop-R&B groove we know as their own.

A phrase like ‘The Space Between’ often refers to a period of indecision we can feel when experiencing emotional and physical pressure, but Majid Jordan have redefined this for listeners here. For the duo, ‘The Space Between’ is very much a peaceful choice they’ve already made, and were happy making. A comfortable and rewarding position transferred into musical output is what we listen to on this project.

On their self-titled debut, Majid Jordan perhaps struggled with creating and maintaining a structure which was accessible to an R&B audience who wanted some pop influences too. A mixture of those is what we got on paper, but in an order and format which made uniting the album harder than needed. We discover now that in the 20 months since then, Majid Jordan have homed in on a more certain theme of blending the two together and this album helps define the group more than their debut. As the cover art shows – the ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’ tracks enclose the project, giving it a controlled ambience, with claustrophobic undertones.

Producer Jordan Ullman gets creative from the very off. A mechanic opening transitions suddenly into the drums, starting off ‘Gave Your Love Away’, one of the best songs here. The qualities of this track sum up the best things about the album in the sense that it’s classic Majid Jordan, it’s infectious. ‘OG Heartthrob’ is moody as Al Maskati longs for a rekindle with an ex- girlfriend. Continuing the theme of decisiveness, this track knows exactly what it is sonically and lyrically, as do ‘Body Talk’ and the collaboration with label-mate PARTYNEXTDOOR ‘One I Want’. They have that pop appeal, and give attention to one love interest or one desire.

A less lyrically focused piece is ‘Not Ashamed’. Vocal experimentation which sounds like a guest feature from Daft Punk and a spikey beat act as a stage for Al Maskati to fire accusations towards another woman. Whilst being somewhat inventive for their standards, the best thing about the track is the transition into ‘One I Want’, which rivals ‘Gave Your Love Away’ for top spot here. The track really encapsulates that claustrophobic element and sets a tone for fast delivery from both PARTYNEXTDOOR and Al Maskati. The second collaborative effort on this album is ‘My Imagination’ with dvsn, also from OVO of course. Nineteen85 gives the song a bubbly character which helps Al Maskati and Daley sing gorgeous falsettos, reminiscent of dvsn’s recent album ‘Morning After’.

The most forgettable tracks on this project come one after the other. Whilst ‘Phases’ and ‘Asleep’ are fun to dance to and pleasing to listen to once or twice (before moving on), when put into the album’s context, they stand out as weaker. Which is a shame considering the lyrical content at the beginning of ‘Phases’ addresses things the duo never has before such as their mixed background and immigrant identity. ‘Asleep’ includes a monotonous high-pitched hook which becomes grating when it interrupts the nicely blended verses.

Where Majid Jordan perfect the woozy and spacious R&B style is with the track ‘You’, and the title track. The former is brilliantly candid – Al Maskati is thinking about a girl and simply wants to enjoy her company again. This song sounds like something Justin Bieber or The Weeknd would perform very well, but the fact that Majid Jordan created it speaks testament to their obvious talents as musicians. Penultimate track ‘The Space Between’ is similarly attractive in its delivery and sounds like it would go nicely over the top of a credits sequence at the end of a film – a description given by many to the fabulous songs from their 2014 EP ‘A Place Like This’.

‘The Space Between’ is better refined than the group’s debut album, with simpler writing and a cemented sense of what sound it wants to be. Most songs here would stand alone with no problem, but to consume the project together would be leisured and solace. Whether Majid Jordan have found their best form is unclear, and I suspect they haven’t, but what they’ve definitely found is firm grounds upon which they can coast, culminating in a second album which is far from a slump.

 

Words by,

George Kennedy