Tagged: Pop rock

LIVE: R5, o2 Ritz, Manchester (20/9/17)


R5, Manchester, 20/9/17 (photo: Becca Arnold)

American pop-rock outfit R5 rolled into Manchester for one of many shows on their extensive New Addictions tour. Fronted by Disney’s latest heart-throb Ross Lynch, the group got the sort of reaction you might expect from an audience whose demographic leaned heavily towards teenage and female.

But whereas many of the similarly hyped pop-rock bands are all production and little or no substance, the difference with R5 is that they really can put on a performance, and one that is every bit about the musicality as it is the showmanship. Sure Lynch is the focal point for many of the fans, but the band as a whole is a tight unit that delivers a strong and engaging set. Continue reading

TAKE 5: SeptemberFest, Donington Park, 22-24/9/17

SeptemberFestThere’s an eclectic mix of music coming to what must be one of the final festivals of the year, SeptemberFest at Donington Park, Leicestershire, this weekend. From the brand new – including loads of local up-and-coming acts – through to some unashamedly retro and very familiar names, it would be hard not to find something you love here.

We thought we’d pick out five artists not to miss if you are planning on heading along. Tickets available here. Continue reading

LIVE: Banfi, The Joiners, Southampton (14/9/17)


Banfi, Southampton, 14/9/17 (photos: Phoebe Reeks)

Pop-rock trio Banfi took to the stage at The Joiners in Southampton as part of their September UK tour. We first caught these guys live at Dot To Dot in Bristol back in May and they were one of the real gems of the line-up, impressing with an accomplished live show, so their tour was one we had to catch.

The set opened with Where We Part, a song which immediately got a cheer from the crowd and everyone singing along and dancing. This was followed by Answers and newest release, June.

A cover of Peter Gabriel’s Mercy Street came next, perfectly suited to their style and the delicate vocals of lead singer Joe Banfi. The band then continued to perform their original material, including signature tune Happy When You Go and Sync favourite She Comes Home. Banfi closed their set with Rosedale House with the crowd singing along and clearly gutted when it was all over.

Banfi are visibly at ease on stage, smiling and interacting with one another as well as the crowd. The band mentioned they have an album scheduled for release next year. If their live show is anything to go by, it’ll be an absolute must-have.

Review & Photos: Phoebe Reeks

VINCI – Liars

We featured Lions, the debut single from Irish rock-pop outfit VINCI, a while back on Sync so we were keen to take a listen to the follow-up. It certainly lives up to our expectations.

These guys seem to have a knack for creating rich, slow-build songs that evolve into something stirring, emotional and powerful. Liars has an anthemic quality about it that deserves to be heard far and wide.

VINCI – Liars

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)


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)

Nineteen Fifty Eight – Dark Blue

Dark Blue is a new track from Welsh band Nineteen Fifty Eight. The female-fronted five piece group have been earning a fair bit of radio airplay and steadily building appreciation over the past couple of years for their engaging brand of alt-rock.

Dark Blue is the title song from their forthcoming 6-track EP due for release on 19 May. Catch the songs in person too on 23 May when they visit Nottingham’s Bodega for a live show supporting As December Falls – tickets here.

Nineteen Fifty Eight – Dark Blue

The Aces – Physical

US pop-rock outfit The Aces have unveiled new track Physical. Available now for download, it is the lead track from the all-female band’s debut EP I Don’t Like Being Honest which is due for release on 23 June.

The quartet is made up of sisters Cristal (on lead vocals/guitar), and drummer Alisa Ramirez, plus guitarist Katie Henderson and bassist McKenna Petty. Having released their first track, Stuck, late last year, the group is currently working on a debut album.

Physical has more than a hint of Haim and Fickle Friends about it – which is most definitely a good thing in our book.

The Aces – Physical

LIVE: All Time Low, o2 Apollo, Manchester (23/3/17)


All Time Low (photo: Becca Arnold)

It’s hard to believe that American pop punk outfit All Time Low have already racked up six studio albums – with number seven on the way in the shape of Last Young Renegade, due out on 2 June.

This was a chance for fans to see them in a smaller venue following last year’s Manchester Arena show and their set included a varied mix of old and new material, although with an emphasis on some of the more well-known favourites rather than too much emphasis on tracks from the forthcoming LP.

Opener Kicking & Screaming was followed by Weightless, Somewhere In Neverland and Six Feet Under The Stars. Beach balls were released into the crowd during Somethings Gotta Give, a track from their 2015 album Future Hearts, keeping those closest to the stage especially entertained for the middle section of the set.

There was the obligatory cheesy mobile phone flashlight moment during Therapy when batteries were drained to help illuminate frontman Alex Gaskarth while he did his thing. That track aside, the pace never really slowed throughout, although there were several other stand-outs. Take Cover and Dirty Laundry certainly scored highly in the crowd-singalong stakes.

During final song of the night Dear Maria, Count Me In, from their 2007 second album So Wrong, It’s Right, Gaskarth and Jack Barakat handed their guitars to their crew before taking up positions on the barrier to sing with fans, giving some of their most fervent devotees a bit of up-close-and-personal time.

Full of energy and showmanship, it’s really rather reassuring to see that these guys have lost none of their live show spark after 14 years in the business.

Photos: Becca Arnold

Diet Cig – Link In Bio

Some energetic pop-rock from New Yorkers Diet Cig in the form of Link In Bio, a fine new single taken from the forthcoming debut album Swear I’m Good At This (out on 7 April).

Diet Cig are Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums). The duo have been playing music together ever since Luciano interrupted the set of Bowman’s other band for a lighter.

Link In Bio is the third single to be revealed from the new album, following earlier tracks Barf Day and Tummy Ache.

Diet Cig – Link In Bio

LIVE: Little Comets, Koko, London, 16/3/17

Screenshot_2017-03-20-11-29-37 (2)

Little Comets (photo: Tabetha Parrick)

Almost a month after their last show, indie-rock band Little Comets, resumed their UK tour by playing to a lively crowd at Koko in London.

Only six days after the release of their fourth studio album, Worhead, the group delighted fans by playing a wide range of old and new songs. They opened with the album’s title track, merging into an old song, Worry, a tune that has not been absent from the set list since its release in 2012. Continuing to play songs, A Little Opus and Jennifer from second album Life Is Elsewhere, the next new track played was first single from the album, Common Things.

It was clear that fans are devoted to this band, as everyone seemed to know every lyric, including the songs that had been released less than a week ago. The lyrics are something that sets this band apart from others; they have even been described by some as playing ‘kitchen sink indie’, referring to the unusual but relevant themes of their songs. For example, single Hunting from the new album provoked a very enthusiastic response from the crowd, a song that is literally about fox hunting. Additionally, the bands instruments and set were covered in lyrics from old and new songs, most notably the phrase ‘Eat Your Hate’ was displayed in bold, capital letters from song Ex-Cathedra from their third album Hope Is Just a State of Mind.

The band knew what songs would please the crowd, making sure to include famous single One Night In October from first album In Search of Elusive Little Comets which, even though was played in the middle of March, still generated a passionate response. Finishing with Dancing Song from the same album – a track simply made to be played live – the show ended on a real high, leaving fans begging for more.

Words & photos: Tabetha Parrick

ALBUM: Vukovi – Vukovi

cover_1484571217986250Now it may be seem like an attempt at vying for the ‘stating the bleedin’ obvious award’ but Sync is very much not Kerrang! in terms of the music we tend to cover, which means that out of all the more heavily-inclined stuff out there, it has to take something pretty special from that genre to get us really excited. This is certainly special.

We’ve been tracking Scottish four-piece outfit Vukovi for a while now. Their energetic yet tuneful sound hooks you in, with vocalist Janine Shilstone providing the real point of differentiation from a lot of bands out there with her great range and powerful vocals.

Vukovi’s self-titled debut album (out today, 10/3) has been in the making for a while, and it’s clear that it has been a real labour of love. Its twelve songs are mostly spiky, upbeat affairs but this sometimes belies the multitude of themes at their heart, including topics such as individuality, drug abuse, depression and suicide. “The record might sound quirky,” says Shilstone. “But there are many darker notes in there…”

Tracks like Prey see Shilstone digging deep into personal experience (“It’s about a time in my life where I thought I’d met my knight in shining armor – but he fucked me up even more”) and the sublime I’m Wired, the singer’s favourite song on the record: “I wrote it trying to describe being in a relationship with severe depression and trying to express that you need that person even though you don’t show it most of the time.”

But the undoubted meaning and depth to the songs does not render this an overpowering or difficult listen – this is much more a collection of great songs which paint a picture of a creative, inventive band. There is a fun streak that runs throughout, with Bouncy Castle and especially Animal being our own favourites from the album, both cracking examples of pop-rock at its best. Their real quality shines though on the more subtle tracks such as Wander, in which the noise is tamed to reveal some accomplished, brilliantly written tunes. It’s the variation on this album that enables it to bust traditional genres… which is exactly how it should be.

The band starts a UK tour today in Glasgow (10 March), before rolling on to Leeds (11), Manchester (13), Bristol (14), London (16), Nottingham (18), and Aberdeen (19) – snaffle tickets here. If any of those fine cities are near you, head along and catch tracks from what is one of our albums of the year so far.

LIVE: Two Door Cinema Club (Liverpool Guild of Students, 2/2/17)


Two Door Cinema Club (Photography: Kitty Riddell)

The anticipation is short as an infamous techno song drops when the lights go out and Two Door Cinema Club enter the stage to blast through summer anthems Cigarettes in the Theatre, Undercover Martyn and Do You Want It All? This Liverpool crowd don’t need warming up as they immediately lose it simultaneously.

After the first four tracks it is obvious that 2010’s Tourist History is going to dominate this set despite the tour supporting recently-released third LP Gameshow. The group play their debut album in its entirety – with the exception of You’re Not Stubborn – and it’s no surprise because the tracks are still as strong now as they were back then, clearly finding a newer, younger audience along the way.

A showcase of Gameshow, their long awaited album, comes but it’s only short as they get back to the indie pop anthem crowd pleasers like Something Good Can Work.

The crowd sees a mix of ages, 20-somethings who grew up listening to the group because of TV shows like Skins or their first Reading and Leeds Festival experience, an older crowd who enjoy the light and feel good sound of the Northern Irish trio, and a student crowd who look at music from 2010 as, ‘vintage’ perhaps, after discovering the group.

During Ordinary, the pretty spectacular stage set shines – a light show that could make stadium shows envious –  with colours and images matching their wonky pop sound.

A quick mention of the support act Sundara Karma who keep the momentum and energy high ahead of TDCC’s arrival. They’ve been touring and on the festival circuit for a couple of years now, picking up a following on the way. They look set to follow in similar footsteps as TDCC and that’s evident here as the crowd sing to arena-ready anthems She Said and Flame as if they are the main act they’ve come see.

But back to the headliners, the set built up to perhaps one of the most radio friendly  hits I Can Talk which sees mosh pits, dancing, singing and plenty of sweat in the packed out Student’s Guild in Liverpool.


Two Door Cinema Club (Photography: Kitty Riddell)


After a quick step-off stage Liverpool want them back for an encore. Anteros lead singer joins the guys to play Sun before they finish up with Someday and What You Know, the first an indie ballad that has the crowd chanting like they’re watching a headline set at a festival with no inhibitions and the latter being a time to party as people are propped on shoulders and the dancing starts again.

Two Door Cinema Club have the strong foundation of a debut album that has the ability to appeal for years to come, that’s clear tonight in the sold-out Student’s Guild, as they deliver a festival-style show to a dedicated crowd in a venue that’s way too modest for their huge performance.

Words: Johnny Yates / Photos (from the band’s Manchester show): Kitty Riddell

Deaf Havana – Fever

About to hit the road in support of new album All These Countless Nights is Norfolk band Deaf Havana.

The latest track from the LP is Fever, which frontman James Veck-Gilodi describes as “the darkest song lyrically” on the record. It is a tale of periods of heavy drinking, the resulting behavioural changes and ultimately the tests they present to the relationships you hold closest. The line “I saw myself in my mother’s eyes and I found some hope,” sees the singer reflecting on a visit to his mother and a conversation that inspired change and brought balance to his lifestyle.

The accompanying music video, is the third part of a story shot in Monterrey, Mexico, at the end of 2016. “I always loved the idea of having several videos that were all part of a bigger story,” says Veck-Gilodi. “I felt like the 3 singles – Sing, Trigger and Fever – were perfect for this as they all shared and underlying theme of feeling alienated and out of control.”

“Travelling to Mexico and shooting with the guys was such an amazing experience, being so far away from home and out of our comfort zone really lent itself to the lyrical content of the songs and they ended up being the best music videos we have ever been a part of.”

The band’s UK tour begins later this month and takes in Manchester (17 Feb), Glasgow (18), Bristol (20), Birmingham (21), Norwich (23) and London (24).

Deaf Havana – Fever

Lightscape – Running

Pop-rock quintet Lightscape have released the video for their new single Running, taken from their forthcoming EP For Present, For Past.

The Norfolk-based band filmed the video at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth with director Ryan Lovejoy. Guitarist Sam Nichol said: “We’re incredibly proud of our first video. It took two days to film while we experimented with different lights/ filming positions.

“The room was circular, so there’s so much to play with. Most of all we just had fun jumping about and doing what we do best, whilst trying to make something visually appealing enough to do justice to the audio.”

The forthcoming self-released mini-EP from which the track is taken is released on 2 September, ahead of a live date for the band on 17 September at London’s 229 Venue.

Lightscape – Running