Ailbhe Reddy – Fingertips

Rising Irish artist Ailbhe Reddy has unveiled Fingertips as the lead single from her new EP, Attach To Memory, which is out this week (24/5). “This EP is an evolution of my first, Hollowed Out Sea,” says Reddy. “Most of these new songs are more up-tempo which shows the fuller sound of my live shows.”

Influenced by the likes of Liane La Havas, Fiona Apple and Hundred Waters, Reddy impresses with an EP built on solid song writing, intricate melodies, and addictive radio friendly hooks – best illustrated on the lead single, Fingertips – albeit with the ‘clean version’ for radio purposes no doubt!

She has been making waves in her native Ireland, ever since a homemade demo of her song Cover Me was used in a Today FM radio advert in 2014. Later that year her first single, Flesh & Blood earned rave reviews and was featured as Song of the Day on Folk Radio UK.  She went on to feature on a host of Irish festival line-ups last year.

Reddy has a headline London show this week at The Slaughtered Lamb on 24/5. Tickets here.

Ailbhe Reddy – Fingertips

LIVE: The Magic Gang, Heaven, London (12/5/17)

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Upcoming indie four-piece, The Magic Gang proved that they are very much ones to watch at a lively show at London venue Heaven.

After the release of their third EP – the imaginatively titled EP Three – the group ended their UK tour by playing to an enthusiastic crowd in the capital. Opening with song Lady, Please, fans were already alive with energy in the pit. This continued through old song She Won’t Ghost and single All This Way as the crowd swayed back and forth in time to the melodic guitar riffs.

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The Magic Gang, London, 12/5/17 (Photo: Tabetha Parrick)

Who said guitar music was dead? Certainly not these four, as they play indie anthem after indie anthem with the full heart and soul of the crowd accompanying them. Feeling Better and new single How Can I Compete provoked an enthusiastic response from the fans, as some took to crowd surfing in a desperate attempt to get closer to the front. Lead vocals were shared by members Kristian Smith and Jack Kaye as they sang bittersweet lyrics like ‘And I really wanna know if it’s alright because it’s getting really hard to tell’ from single Alright – words that speak to any heartbroken teenager.

The Magic Gang – How Can I Compete

It shows that these four are destined for greatness as the energy from both the fans and the band could barely be contained in the small London venue. Hopefully looking to release an album sometime in 2017, The Magic Gang have big things ahead of them.

Words and photos: Tabetha Parrick

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The Magic Gang, London, 12/5/17 (Photo: Tabetha Parrick)

LOUUD – Fools

New from Swedish singer LOUUD (AKA Louise Udin) is the track Fools. Full of ambient guitar and hook-filled pop, the song is a precursor to an EP which is on the way a little later this year.

Udin has been writing songs from a young age, developing and honing her craft at the Rytmus music school in Stockholm, following in the footsteps of artists such as Tove Lo, Icona Pop and Robyn. Now based in London, expect plenty more to come from LOUUD over the coming months.

LOUUD – Fools

ALBUM: The Amazons – The Amazons

Amazons AlbumAlready one of the most talked about new artists in 2017, The Amazons release their debut album later this week (26/5/17). Containing all of the singles released earlier this year, this album has been highly anticipated by fans and is likely to create a whole lot of new followers for the band.

It opens with lively single Stay With Me which was released in early 2016 – a song that speaks about the fear of being left alone. It becomes clear in the next few songs, including single In My Mind, that longing and loneliness are the themes of this album. Particularly fifth song, Raindrops, which is slower and lighter than the previous four tracks, speaks the language of a broken heart. Being mixed with some killer guitar solos, this album creates an image of being lost and confused but still managing to have a good time.

It has to be said that single Black Magic is one of the strongest tracks on the album – there is a reason it’s the song that everyone’s talking about. Placed right in the centre of the track list, it may be one of the most played songs on the radio at the moment, but it still sends shivers down your spine when you hear those opening notes before the drums come in.

The Amazons – Black Magic

The next four songs have similar structures to the rest – heavy on the drums and guitar solos that leave you wishing you were seeing it live. Holy Roller has a particularly catchy chorus that you can imagine crowds of teenagers singing their hearts out to. There is also something mysterious and ominous about single Little Something, with its slower tempo and low notes.

However, it’s the final song on the album that will leave you reaching for the ‘play on repeat’ button. It’s a stark contrast to the rest, with the main focus being on beautiful piano chords and vocals, along with lyrics that speak to any lovesick teenager’s soul. Palace is the kind of song that haunts you until you inevitably play it again and again, the essence of the track being perfectly summed up in its lyrics – ‘but you love it when he makes you cry’.

Overall the strong contrast of this album, in its tragic lyrics that speak of heartbreak and desperation mixed with the upbeat tempos from the drums and guitar, make you want to cry your eyes out while singing at the top of your lungs. It’s one that captures the spirit and soul of a live performance right in your headphones.

Review by Tabetha Parrick

The Amazons – In My Mind

LIVE: Will Joseph Cook, Heaven, London (11/5/17)

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Will Joseph Cook, London, 11/5/17 (Photos: Tabetha Parrick)

Almost a month after the release of his debut album Sweet Dreamer, Will Joseph Cook played his biggest show to date at London’s Heaven.

He opened with the title track from the album, a song that radiates energy which was reflected back from the crowd. Going on to play tune Plastic followed with single Take Me Dancing – no one was standing still in the venue. He went on to ask if anyone knew what day it was just before playing the song For Thursday, adding that he had been waiting all tour for that opportunity.

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Will Joseph Cook, London, 11/5/17 (Photos: Tabetha Parrick)

Cook’s melodic voice filled the venue as much as he filled the stage with his presence, taking breaks from dancing only to play guitar. All eyes were fixed on him as he got fans to crouch down during the verses of song Alive only to jump up during the chorus ready to shout the words “it’s good to be alive” at the top of their lungs.

However it wasn’t all upbeat party tunes, with the singer playing heartfelt ballads Water’s Gone Cold and Habit towards the end of the set. It was a captivating moment as he stood alone on the stage singing with hundreds of voices in the crowd.

He looked like he was enjoying himself as much as his fans, saying “I’m trying not to make long speeches between every track but it’s very hard. It’s such an exciting time to be releasing music. I just want to say thank you.” And an exciting time it was, finishing with songs Biggest Fan and Beach (I Wanna Make You Mine) – both instant classics from the album – and everyone was singing along.

It’s Will Joseph Cook’s own words that capture perfectly what everyone in that venue was thinking by then: “Look around us, this is fucking mental.”

Words and photos: Tabetha Parrick

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Will Joseph Cook, London, 11/5/17 (Photos: Tabetha Parrick)

LeRiche – Under Covers

It’s almost a year to the day that we first featured Canadian singer songwriter LeRiche with the wonderful Bury Me, a song we loved ever since the first listen, so it’s great to get this new one from him.

This is LeRiche’s first new song since signing with Fierce Panda in the UK and Indica Records in Australia and there are understandably high hopes for it. He has that knack of creating great songs, and Under Covers is another that deserves to be heard far and wide.

LeRiche – Under Covers

LIVE: Sigrid, The Deaf Institute, Manchester (15/5/17)

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Sigrid, Manchester, 15/5/17 (Photos: Jonny Yates)

One of the most exciting emerging pop acts of 2017 proves why she’s worth the hype at her second ever headline gig.

Sigrid kicked off the show with some unheard tracks including Go to War and later Raw which stand on their own against the already-known material giving the crowd a glimpse of what’s to come in the next year. As she quips that she’ll ‘crack on’ and asking if her British slang is right she kicks her huge raspy vocals into gear for Plot Twist, another stellar pop song matching up to her debut, which carries throughout the set. During this track she catches sight of some fans in the audience who know the words and bounds across the stage looking shocked at the thought that anyone would – but with the catchy choruses and infectious production it’s no real surprise.

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Sigrid, Manchester, 15/5/17 (Photos: Jonny Yates)

The comparisons to Lorde are clear when you listen to Sigrid’s tracks as there is a hip-hop influence in both production and lyrics – Don’t Kill My Vibe is a clear nod to Kendrick Lamar’s mainstream pop culture influence – however seeing Sigrid live that’s where the comparisons begin and end. Her high-energy is something to envy and she throws shapes to each beat of the huge pop tracks including her previously mentioned breakthrough hit.

Not surprisingly, the empowering anthem has the biggest reaction of the night as the lyrics ‘You shut me down, you like the control. You speak to me like I’m a child’, offer solace to anyone being undermined by friends, lovers or bosses. In Sigrid’s case it was born after being patronised by male writers in the studio and of that came a warning in Don’t Kill My Vibe – she is an artist who shouldn’t be underestimated.

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Sigrid, Manchester, 15/5/17 (Photos: Jonny Yates)

An encore prompted by her backing band (who all seem to be enjoying this set as much as she does), sees Sigrid perform a stripped back song which she apologies for but says Savage In Our Blood is an “important song” to her. As she references populists in the unheard track, her voice soars with emotion, she is once again showing her ability to write a pop track with depth. It could be open to interpretation as it seems to be a commentary on the currently unstable political landscape which is something many young music listeners are looking for right now – a voice fighting back.

She tells us this is only the second ever headline Sigrid show and it’s obvious that she’s enjoying every second of it. The shock on her face as the crowd sing back tracks like Plot Twist and Fake Friends proves she may not quite realise the waves she’s currently creating amongst her listeners and just how damn catchy her songs are. It’s exciting to see a young performer on the verge of great things and looking ready to smash any stage she stands on winning over crowds across the globe. And most importantly, she has the pop bangers to back it up.

Words and photos: Jonny Yates

Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe (Live – Vevo dscvr)

LIVE: Rumours, Birthdays, London (12/5/17)

DSC_0733 (2)A warm, sultry Friday evening in London got even hotter in the basement environment of Birthdays in Dalston, East London. The biggest show so far by emerging soul-pop trio Rumours saw this compact venue packed out and enthralled by an hour-long set that included sublimely chilled out tunes alongside more uptempo material.

Comprising Mark Borgazzi (vocals/keyboards), Federico Bigonzetti (drums) and Marion Solheim (vocals), the band are earning a reputation for finely-crafted songs characterised by a real depth of feeling achieved through wonderful harmonies between the vocals of Borgazzi and Solheim. We’re always keen to discover whether the recorded version of this magical vocal skill can be replicated on the live stage, so it was great to hear them nail it wonderfully on the night.

The set built nicely, from a low-key but solid first half through to a much more upbeat second. So Bad, Invitations and I Do It All were particular highlights – along with new single Hunter – but there were no weak links here. It was an impressive performance for a band still in its relative early stages.

They promised an eager crowd that more new material was on the way soon. If they can create more along the lines of what’s gone before then a very bright future lies ahead… and that’s more than just a rumour.

See also: DISCOVER… Rumours

TRACK OF THE WEEK: Dan Crossley – Nothing But Love

Pure synth-pop at it’s best, this one deserves to be a summer pop anthem. Meet Dan Crossley, a 21-year-old singer songwriter from Telford who has been busy writing songs throughout his teens.

He attracted plenty of attention with his debut track Feel and has now followed it up with Nothing But Love, which is what we have for this tune. It is taken from his five-track EP Feel which is out on Friday 19 May.

Dan Crossley – Nothing But Love

LIVE: Fickle Friends, o2 Academy Bournemouth (6/5/17)

We never tire of banging on about Fickle Friends. Not only have they put out a string of ridiculously catchy tunes over the past year or two, but they’re also a superbly polished-but-fun live proposition. We saw them late last year during their own headline UK tour (see review) but were so pleased to be able to catch them again, this time in support of The Kooks.

They made an impression with all their radio-friendly hits, including Swim and Cry Baby, with latest banger Hello Hello being a particular highlight. Catch them at a festival this summer if you can – they’re doing the summer big-time with appearances at Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape, Secret Garden Party, Kendal Calling, Leeds and Reading. They’ll be capping that off with their biggest headline show to date at London’s o2 Forum in Kentish Town on 26 October – tickets here.

Photos by Phoebe Reeks

 

LIVE: The Kooks, o2 Academy Bournemouth (6/5/17)

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The Kooks, Bournemouth, 6/5/17 (Photo: Phoebe Reeks)

The Kooks returned to the O2 Academy Bournemouth for a sold-out date on their The Best Of… So Far tour, a mammoth 17-date run of shows that concludes on 13 May at London’s Alexandra Palace.

They rattled through many of their best-known tracks from a back-catalogue of music stretching back over a decade, including Eddie’s Gun, She Moves In Her Own Way, Sofa Song, and Junk of the Heart (Happy), as well as newer material such as current single Be Who You Are.

The Kooks have forged a solid reputation for strong songwriting and engaging live shows over the years since forming in Brighton more than 10 years ago. Frontman Luke Pritchard was in great form, clearly enjoying this extensive return to the road.

Other highlights of the set included Seaside, Always Where I Need To Be and Ooh La ahead of an encore consisting of Around Town and Shine On before ending with signature song Naïve.

The release of a ‘best of’ album and tour can often signal the beginning of the end for a band – a precursor to winding down and fading away. But everything about this triumphant performance suggested that there’s still plenty more to come.

Review and Photos: Phoebe Reeks

TRACK OF THE WEEK: Haarm – Endangered Species

New from Liverpool-based band – and Sync favourites – Haarm is Endangered Species, an absolute beauty of a song that solved a dilemma for us this week. You see, we were stuck between a choice of two great songs for this week’s Track of the Week… then this one came along and blew both of them out of the water!

The band says: “Endangered Species is about how unforgiving a year 2016 was in terms of losing extremely talented people. It was talked about a lot at the time so it was obviously on our minds a great deal and it just seemed so relentless. I guess the song is about learning to treasure and appreciate those who are still with us and not taking anybody for granted.”

Haarm – Endangered Species

LIVE: Her, Borderline, London (26/4/17)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe best thing about live music is that it doesn’t matter if the crowd is 20,000 or 200 – if the music’s right you get the same feeling every single time… well, I do anyway! French duo Her have been making incredible music for a while now, but seemingly dong so underground in a way that means only a select few seem to know too much about them.

P1018230.JPGFor their show at London’s Borderline – where even the hallway to the toilets (pictured right) was Instagram-worthy! – Victor Solf and Simon Carpentier were joined by their full live band, enabling their lush sound to be performed with the richness that was always intended. 

Support act Alxndr London sublimely set the tone with some awesome deep, bassy tracks and got everyone pumped for Her. Then the main act kept things bubbling throughout with their blend of soul, funk and at times fairly avante-garde music. The noise and excitement for the main act belied the modest size of the venue – particularly the reaction to the first few notes of perhaps their most recognisable track Five Minutes.

Her – Five Minutes (Live for Deezer)

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Her, London, 27/4/17 (photo: Chelsea Kostrey)

Their stage presence was strong, with stylish colour-coordinated outfits, but none of the over-stylised aloofness that sometimes come across with some bands. And they were smiling with each other the whole time, seemingly enjoying their evening as much as the rest of us.

As well as Five Minutes, other highlights of their set included Quite Like, Jeanie J and most recent track Swim – all of which should go down well during their extensive festival slots across Europe and beyond (ticket details here).

There are plenty of bands that build up a strong following elsewhere in Europe but, for some reason, have to work particularly hard to break it in to the London music scene. Judging by the reaction from the crowd at this show, it seems likely that we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more about Her at some of London’s bigger venues in the near future.

Words and photos: Chelsea Kostrey

Her – Swim (ft. Zefire)

LIVE: The Wild Things, Cargo, London (27/4/17)

West London four-piece The Wild Things were top of a four-band line-up at Cargo, one of the locations that makes up something of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to decent music venues in Shoreditch, East London.

Their set was somewhat truncated by late-running earlier acts but they made the most of their time nonetheless. They were loud and energetic, with strong vocals from charismatic frontwoman Syd White. They deserve bigger crowds, and given time they’ll surely get them.

You can catch them this month; again in London (9 May) and also in Brighton (19 May). Tickets here.

Photos: Jessica Piochon

TRACK OF THE WEEK: PVRIS – Heaven

PVRIS have unveiled the first track from their forthcoming album All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell which is due out on 4 August. The track, Heaven, is a striking statement of intent for the album – dark, slick and powerful, and really showing off lead singer Lynn Gunn’s vocal talents to the max.

The band are about to hit the road for a string of dates starting this week, kicking off in London on 4/5 May before heading off to Paris (8), Amsterdam (10) and Berlin (11). They’ll also be appearing at various festivals over the summer including Reading & Leeds.

PVRIS – Heaven