London-based singer-songwriter Tom Speight has been steadily making a name for himself through a string of support slots with bands including Starsailor, Travis and Turin Brakes. His pure and poetic songs have beguiled audiences across the country but as he prepares to head out on his own headline tour later this week, Sync caught up with him for a brief chat…
SYNC: So you’re covering some crazy miles later this month with the tour. How are you looking forward to getting back out on the road for these headline dates?
Tom Speight: I only just got off tour from supporting Turin Brakes and Starsailor ilast month, so it was nice to be back home writing for a week or so before these dates start. I love touring and playing my songs live. I don’t I will ever get tired from that. Continue reading
Another beauty of a track from Bristol-based duo Meadowlark is latest tune Sunlight.
The video was directed by Meadowlark’s own Dan Broadley who, as well as playing in the band, has produced videos for the likes of Don Broco, Lower Than Atlantis, Mallory Knox, as well as the majority of Meadowlark’s catalogue. Continue reading
Some singers just have a mysterious, beguiling air about them. Whether it’s down to the beautifully smooth and multi-faceted voice or bewitching stage presence, Kyla La Grange had this Friday night Thekla crowd in the palm of her hand from the moment she walked on to the very end of her hour-long set.
The Watford-born singer showed off her incredible versatility, equally adept as she is at low or uptempo dance-infused material, emotionally-charged ballads – and even at one point towards the end of proceedings, full-on rock. Her material broadly spans the pop genre, albeit predominantly of the darkside variety, but there is also a bedrock of folk in what she does, and the combination of all of this is what makes her show so special.
Her set included material from across both of her albums – 2012’s Ashes and Cut Your Teeth from 2014 – as well as new songs, including Love Harder and Violet Blue both released this year, and Justify from late 2016.
It is perhaps the Cut Your Teeth album that best signifies the sound that La Grange really excels at. Her voice fits so perfectly with the atmospheric electronica backdrop created by the genius DJ and producer Jakwob, so it’s no wonder that the show ended with the title track from that album. It was an uplifting end to a very special performance.
Kyla La Grange – Justify
We caught Sundara Karma‘s headline set at the Bristol leg of the Dot To Dot Festival the other week and they certainly justified top billing. Frontman Oscar Pollock brought his usual formidable stage presence to proceedings which, as well as all the hits from their album Youth Is Only Fun In Retrospect, also featured all the mess you might expect from the firing of two huge confetti cannons.
Bristol-based singer/producer Tamu Massif has revealed new track Animals, taken from his second EP Bala which is out now.
“I approach writing songs as collages” explains the Bristol-based artist, whose real name is Dave Dixon. “I usually layer up different sections and then connect them. On Bala, sampling my own voice became integral to the songwriting process and I started recording tracks purely to lay down vocals I could manipulate elsewhere.”
The places in which Bala was conceived find their way into the music, both in the lyrics and through field recordings. “Recording clips on my phone in various locations and moments over the past few years has allowed me to add a personal context to the music,” explains Dixon. “It documents where I’ve been, both mentally and physically.”
Tamu Massif has recently completed a tour support slot with The Japanese House, and can be seen performing live again at London’s Citadel Festival on 16 July. Tickets here.
Tamu Massif – Animals
Performing as part of the Bristol leg of the Dot To Dot Festival, The Big Moon brought their spiky, vibrant indie-rock to a full capacity SWX. It was unsurprising that they drew such a crowd – the group has been earning high praise while extensively touring debut album Love In The 4th Dimension. But the considerable hype surrounding Juliette Jackson’s band is not unjustified; their live proposition is particularly impressive.
As is always the case with festival sets, their show was all too short and sweet, but they crammed the favourites into their half hour timeslot, including Formidable, Cupid and ending with the superb Sucker. There was also a brilliant cover of Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger – a great song, given a cracking twist by the London four-piece.
Currently coming towards the tail-end of a support slot on tour with Amber Run, Bristol duo Meadowlark have been busily raising their profile and picking up plenty of new fans with their finely-crafted pop melodies and emotive production.
Made up of Kate McGill and Dan Broadley, the band have recently released their Nocturnes EP of stripped back songs, ahead of the emergence of their debut album later this year. We caught up with Dan to find out a bit more about their story so far and what the year ahead has in store for them…
SYNC: So where did it all begin?
Dan Broadley: Kate and myself both met years before Meadowlark started. I was directing music videos and playing in rock bands and she was pursuing a career as a solo artist. The first time we met was on a video shoot, I was directing the promo for one of her singles. It was amazing how much we had in common and when the time came for us both to pursue something else musically it seemed natural to start a project together and from that Meadowlark was born. We have never looked back since. It’s such an adaptive project, we can experiment with so many different genres and musical ideas with this band.
SYNC: What’s the songwriting process like for the band?
Broadley: We never give ourselves any constraints and have written songs in all manner of ways. The songs we are most proud of are the songs that we write together from scratch. As well as sonic poems that contain experiences from both Kate and myself’s lives, our songs are also postcards for us, each one carries a specific memory of how we felt and how we were at the time of writing it.
When writing our first record we wanted to find a space be able to lock ourselves away in and focus on nothing but music itself. We found a holiday cottage on the internet that offered a grand piano and we booked in multiple week-long stays. It was an amazing time, the space felt magical, every time we went we would write about five songs which meant it didn’t take long at all to have an albums worth of material that we were really proud of.
SYNC: Nocturnes has been stirring up lots of interest. What was the thinking behind this EP – and in particular the idea of giving the song About You Now such a beautiful new slant?
Broadley: When Kate and myself write music we go in at a very raw level, just acoustic instruments usually, penning the song in a simple way, I think it’s really important that a song works in that way – it can be so easy to hide a bad song behind good production. Once we’ve written a song we then play around with its sonic boundaries, adding synthetic elements to create our desired mood and energy. Nocturnes was a wonderful opportunity to take the songs back to a more raw and intimate state, showing them in a more honest light. About You Now seemed like a very random choice to most people but it’s everything we love about songwriting. The original Sugababes version was a pop smash but buried underneath the production was a much darker song and without changing any of the chords or melodies and simply playing it differently we were able to bring that to light.
Meadowlark – About You Now
SYNC: Last year was a busy year for festivals for you both – is 2017 shaping up to be the same?
Broadley: Just looking at the calendar now and it’s certainly filing up. Festival season is always a lot of fun, you never really know who you are going to play in front of which adds to the excitement.
SYNC: Finally, how has work on the album been progressing?
Broadley: We actually finished the record a little while back, it was an amazing feeling to finish it and have a full body of work of songs that we are so proud of. We are hoping for it to be out before the end of this year!
Meadowlark – Headlights
South London duo Alpines are currently touring their second album Another River and were in Bristol last night midway through a run of dates across the UK and Europe.
Singer-songwriter Catherine Pockson and producer Bob Matthews have put together a striking album full of emotive lyrics and experimental sounds. Transferring this to the live show was never going to be easy given the highly polished nature of the songs they have created, but bolstered on stage by a drummer and guitarist, they manage to bring the album to life beautifully.
We’ve written a full review of the show for Bristol’s leading events website 365Bristol.com so do have a read. In the meantime, here are a few shots from the gig…
Another long-standing favourite of ours to tick off the live list, we finally got the chance to see Ladyhawke. Thankfully, she was everything we expected and more. A cracking performance of a set that included a real mix of old and new, with plenty of time given over to her self-titled debut album as well as some of the newer songs from last year’s Wild Things.
Particular highlights were probably Let It Roll, Paris Is Burning, and of course, she wrapped things up with the brilliant My Delirium.
Our full review for this one is over on the superb 365Bristol.com website so do have a read. In the meantime, here are a few of our photos from the show…
After a couple of aborted attempts for various reasons over the course of 2016, we FINALLY got to see Shura live and it was well worth the wait. We’ve been big fans of this talented electropop songwriter for a while now and it was great to hear most of her album Nothing’s Real actually performed for real.
She was impressive – not least as she has embarked on this UK tour with a bout of the flu right from the start, although it didn’t seem to notice apart from the odd cough… which is fine and dandy as long as we’ve not all caught it that is! Anyway, get well soon Shura.
We’ve written a load of words about the gig for our good friends at 365Bristol.com so please do take a read here. In the meantime, here are a load of images of Shura in action…
Having seen Anne-Marie perform with Rudimental a few times over the past couple of years, we already knew how good a singer the 25-year-old from Essex was. Nonetheless, this was our first chance to catch her live as a solo artist so we were looking forward to seeing the next stage in her creative evolution.
She was typically funny, slightly scatty and full of fun which made for an entertaining hour-long set. We’re written a full gig review for Bristol’s leading events website 365Bristol.com so do pop over there and have a read. We were also busy snapping away and you can see a selection of our shots below. (All images: © Sync Music Blog)
We’re rattled on lots about Jerry Williams, 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Portsmouth, so it was great to finally see her live when her four-leg tour rocked up in Bristol last night.
Sooooo relieved to report that are no studio-based magic tricks going on here – her voice really is as good as it sounds on record. She gave a flawless performance throughout what was a wholly enjoyable gig.
Debut single from Bristol psycho-pop outfit Cousin Kula, Hesitation is the first official release from a band that has been busy on the gigging circuit over the past year or so with festival appearances and support slots (including a support show for Dutch Uncles that we caught last December – they’re a sterling live proposition, with variety and musicianship aplenty).
Singles-wise, Hesitation is a strong start and anyone who has caught one of their shows will know there is lots more to come from these guys.
Cousin Kula – Hesitation
New York-based indie-rockers We Are Scientists opened their UK tour with a cracking mix of old and new material at Bristol’s Bierkeller last night.
Touring in support of their fifth studio album Helter Seltzer, Keith Murray and Chris Cain – joined on the road by drummer Keith Carne – performed several tracks from the new LP (including our favourite and former Track of the Week, Buckle) as well as loads of the older favourites, including The Great Escape and After Hours.
We’ve written a full gig review for 365Bristol.com (read it here), and check out some pics from the show below.
We’ve been listening to a fair bit of Bristol band Cousin Kula since catching them supporting Dutch Uncles a couple of months back. Their latest live vid for new song Falling Forward is worth a few minutes of your time as we’re pretty sure it will get into your head as it has done for us!
Cousin Kula – Falling Forward