Wednesday, 25 April 2018

New Music: Introducing - G Flip

Over the last few weeks, in preparation for May’s new music marathon that is the Great Escape Festival in Brighton I’ve been listening to every single one of the 400+ artists that are playing. There’ll be some sort of preview here closer to the date of the festival.

Of course writing a new music blog there are already plenty of musicians on the bill that have made their way to these pages - AK/DK, Alice Boman, Art School Girlfriend, Bad Sounds, Basement Revolver, Bloxx, Boniface, Bulow, Cuckooolander, Dizzy, Dream Wife, Easy Life and Franc Moody are just a small handful of the acts that I’ve featured that run alphabetically from A to F and there are many more up to Zuzu at Z. But today I want to share a musician that I knew nothing about until I saw her name on the Great Escape bill. Alphabetically she takes us onto G. Her name is Georgia Flipo and she records and performs under the name of G Flip

G Flip used to be just a drummer at the back, but now she’s a solo artist in her own right (although she still drums). She comes, like seemingly half of the best acts on the 2018 Great Escape bill, from Australia, Melbourne to be exact, and her first release About You gives me the absolute shivers.

It starts with a shadowy reverb drone sound that conjures up images of somewhere hellish and otherworldly – the Upside Down from Stranger Things perhaps? It’s ominously scary. But it really doesn’t prepare you for what is to come.

Because About You is a full-blown pop song. A dream of a pop song that flows with melodies and rhythms that will get inside your head and lodge themselves there for a very long time. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with this tune going through my brain. I’ve found myself singing it at work. I’ve found myself being able to think of nothing else. You have been warned. You may become obsessed.

On her trip to the UK in May, besides Great Escape (where G-Flip plays two official shows) she will also be at Dot to Dot festival and will also be supporting Pale Waves at their biggest UK show so far at Heaven in London. If you get the chance, go see her and witness Australia's way cooler answer to Phil Collins.

G-Flip - About You (Video)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

New Music: Introducing - Roman Lewis

The young white male singer songwriter has taken a bit of a bashing in certain quarters over the last year or so. After all, it’s easy for cynics to sneer at commercial success so the likes of Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Ed Sheeran are always going to be obvious targets. Add into that the growing ongoing and still developing conversation around white male privilege and you can start to get a feel for why being that bloke with an acoustic guitar might not enamour you with the music press quite as much as it used to.

And although on this blog I’ve featured way more singers that are women than men over the last few years, and in terms of guys with acoustic guitars only a small handful, today I am introducing a new male acoustic singer songwriter. 

Before you snore off with the dullness of it all, let’s all just remember that sometimes when something has become deeply unfashionable it’s easy to dismiss it without giving it the attention it deserves; and Mindless Town, the debut single from Roman Lewis warrants at least five minutes and sixteen seconds of your time. A subtle slow-burner that slowly fires up from the embers it displays a talent that is already well beyond being third of five in a typical open mic night at the local boozer - which is just as well as he’s only 17, so he wouldn’t even get served.

A little bit of digging on his Facebook shows that Roman (who has the name to match his flowing locks) is from London and has been doing music for some time. He even appeared as Charlie Simpson in What I Go To School For, The Busted Musical at the Theatre Royal, Brighton and this song has been kicking around for a while now. But now it’s getting a proper release via AWAL/Kobal and was produced and mixed by Catherine Marks (The Big Moon, The Amazons, Manchester Orchestra). It's an impressive and striking debut. Forget the white male singer songwriter tag and keep your mind open for Mindless Town.

Roman Lewis - Mindless Town

Monday, 23 April 2018

Preview: Are You Listening? Festival, Reading

This coming weekend is a Reading festival. No, not that one. This one’s called Are You Listening. It’s a multi-venue single wristband entry festival with a USP. That USP is that it’s for a very good local cause. It’s not about making a bucketful of money for its organisers own pockets – it’s about passing that bucket on to Reading Mencap, a local charity that supports children and adults with learning disabilities and autism, as well as their families, providing personalised information, advice and practical support with issues such as housing problems, lack of respite or social care, ill health, hate crime, welfare benefits and special education provision.

“It’s a tough time for small, local charities like ours – with huge cuts to council and other public budgets that historically funded key services for the most vulnerable in Reading. This means we increasingly rely on the support of our local community to keep delivering our critical services. So AYL is a great opportunity for us to reach out to you, tell you about what we do and ask for your support,” says Mandi Smith, Reading Mencap’s Chief Executive.

While Reading Mencap is affiliated to the national Mencap charity, it does not receive any funding from them. This means it relies on the generosity of the local community and fundraising events like AYL to continue its vital work, especially in these challenging times.

Proceeds from each ticket sold go to the charity, as do all donations on the day, as well as money from an art auction and the profits from the Charity Bar in St Laurence’s Church, one of the venues.

This emphasis on music providing a helping hand to vulnerable people in the community is just one way the festival helps. It also provides a platform for local acts, giving them the opportunity to play to bigger crowds than they might normally do. Reading based bands such as The Amazons and Sundara Karma have both benefitted from playing Are You Listening Festival before moving upwards to the national stage and there’s no doubt that events like these benefit the local music scene giving the best artists in the area the opportunity to shine alongside more established bands.

Tickets for Are You Listening always represent excellent value, with super early birds costing just £10 and advance tickets currently on sale at £22.50. There are over sixty musicians and DJ’s playing the eight stages of the event. 

Like any multi-venue festival often the most precious moments of the event are when you stumble across a name you’ve never heard of and are blown away by a performance that you just didn’t expect. However, for those who prefer to plan a little, here are five artists that are on the Breaking More Waves recommended list that may be worth your time. 

Twin Sun - 14.00 Sub 89

Twin Sun is Reading’s Jamie Willcox and Pete Wheeler a DJ / production duo who have now developed into a full live act. They have a strong association with the festival having been involved in it in some capacity, either solo or as a duo every year since its inception. Opening the festival in the early afternoon, they’ll be a treat for those who want to start dancing early. The song below Lilac Light features the vocals of Jen Stearnes who also co-wrote the track and is the lead vocalist of the next artist recommendation.

Saltwater Sun - 16.15 Sub 89

From Twin Sun to another sun – Saltwater Sun. I first came across Saltwater Sun in 2015 at this very festival. Since then they’ve released a string of songs such as Wild, Making Eyes, Now Or Never and The Wire which all picked up significant traction online and on music blogs and websites. If you like classic guitar driven pop with catchy hooks and melodies a plenty, then choose Saltwater Sun’s performance as a stopping / dancing point.

Valeras - 17.15 Sub 89

With a song in their arsenal called Louder it’s probably not that hard to guess that the Reading band formerly known as Area 52, but now known as Veleras, rock. Having just finished a tour with Demob Happy and with forthcoming slots at Live at Leeds and Great Escape, Valeras will be bringing a puposeful swagger to their home town’s stage.

AK/DK - 20.30 St Laurence Church

“Hard hitting drums, devilish synths and vocals that are used to create textures and rhythms as much as melodies mix to create a sound that is in parts psychedelic, motorik, punk and certainly out on an edge of its own.” That’s how AK/DK was described on Breaking More Waves in 2017 when their album was listed in one of my favourites of the year. Imagine that not in a club, but a church. It should be hellishly good.

Warm Digits - 21.45 St Laurence Church

Three albums in and Warm Digits aka Newcastle based Andrew Hodson and Steve Jefferis have arguably released their best album with Wireless World. Featuring guest vocals from Sarah Cracknell (St Etienne) and Field Music (who play Are You Listening immediately after Warm Digits) their music is a relentless and experimental mix of weird funk, driving motoric beats, electronic pulses and guitar noise. Think Fuck Buttons, Delphic, Hookworms and Kraftwerk jamming in a room together if that makes any sense. Like AK/DK before them it’s difficult to guess at this stage how their music will work in a church, but it’s going to be fun learning.

Are You Listening Festival takes place in Reading, Berkshire on the 28th April 2018. You can buy tickets by clicking here.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

New Music: Introducing - LibraLibra

Pop music needs free-spirits. If we didn’t have them then we’d be drowning in the bland. Thankfully LibraLibra, a new Brighton based project, wields its unconventional approach with a ferocious confidence. 

Debut single Animali ties together the musical out-there conviction of The Knife’s Shaking the Habitual album with a sound not dissimilar to that of tUnE-yArDs and in the process conjures up an invigorating song of colourful rhythms, tribal wails and shakes. It’s an art-school adventure that isn’t afraid to explore off the map and is all the more enjoyable for it. 

Animali also comes with probably the strangest pop music video you’ll see this week, with animal mask wearing people, BDSM ball gags, babies and blood all featuring. It’s fair to say this probably isn’t the sort of thing you’d see Drake or Taylor Swift shooting.

LibraLibra is Beth Cannon and Joe Caple with additional musicians added for live performance. You might recognise Beth’s name (or voice) from her recent work with Bella Union man Simon Raymonde’s Lost Horizons project for which she provided some vocals – and what splendid vocals they are – urgent, gymnastic and powerful. 

Animali is a song that is bold, manically creative and just a little bit ridiculous. Thank goodness for mavericks.

Catch LibraLibra in Brighton on the 28th April at the Bad Pond Festival, supporting Swedish Death Candy at the Boiler Room in Guildford in May, at Liverpool's Sound City and at the Alt-Escape part of Great Escape in Brighton. But before that be sure to check out the video below - it's one for all the animal lovers out there.

LibraLibra - Animali (Video)