Tagged: Reviews

LIVE: Flyte, Sidmouth Fringe Sessions, Devon (9/8/17)

DSC_0140Heading up the final of four days of music at Sidmouth’s Fringe Sessions, Flyte had plenty of live up to. The standard across the whole programme had been extremely strong, with the likes of Bryde, Tors and Stone Roots among others setting the bar high. The band rose to the challenge superbly though, wrapping up this wonderfully initmate event in triumphant style.

The four-piece from Hampshire – comprising Will Taylor (lead vocals, guitar), Sam Berridge (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Jon Supran (drums, backing vocals) and Nick Hill (bass, backing vocals) – have been honing their considerably talents for a couple of years now, supporting the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and being booked for festival slots at Reading & Leeds, and Wilderness Festival. Continue reading

LIVE REVIEW: Hope & Glory Festival, Liverpool (5/8/17)

Pigeon Detectives 1It all sounded so promising. A pretty impressive line-up of bands old and new in a city centre location, the inaugural Hope & Glory Festival had all the makings of a special weekend. Sadly for many, it turned into something of a nightmare.  Continue reading

ALBUM: Declan McKenna – What Do You Think About The Car?

DeclanMcKenna album coverCertain things in life can make you feel very old indeed… [cliché alert!!] like the seemingly ever-youthful police officers on the streets, or teachers that look young enough to still be at school themselves. The effect Declan McKenna can have on someone like me is on an altogether different scale however. It’s not just that the Hertfordshire-born singer-songwriter is a mere 18-years-old, it’s much more the fact that his songs are so full of depth and meaning that it’s hard to comprehend they are the handiwork of someone of such tender years.

Throughout, the album is full of great, catchy hooks, backed with polished arrangements and sung with consummate ease. Album opener Humongous sets the tone with its big, bold chorus. Brazil – a song about FIFA corruption around the World Cup in the South American country – then leads-in to a track that’s probably brought him more airplay than any other; the superb Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home, which packs arguably the best chorus of the album.  Continue reading

LIVE: Hot 8 Brass Band, Phoenix, Exeter (8/7/17)

DSC_0868For a band that has been around in one form or another for over 20 years, the Hot 8 Brass Band remain something of a best kept secret for many. Their current tour of the UK is in support of new album On The Spot and although interest has been piqued by last month’s performance at Glastonbury, there’s still much to discover about their unique blend of hip-hop, funk and jazz all wrapped up in the marching band style so closely associated with their hometown of New Orleans.

The backbone of the whole show is band leader Bennie Pete, whose sousaphone is not only a striking visual aspect to the band, but provides the low bassline on which the rest of the sound is built. Frontman and trumpet player Alvarez Huntley is the on-stage spokesman for the group, leading the crowd into as much audience participation as he can by urging them to wave their arms and sing along – but only singing when he says so!

No-one was going to argue with him, such was the positivity and infectious energy in the room. In fact, it’s hard to know how they manage to keep the whole thing going as one seamless thread for the duration of their 90 minute set, with virtually no breaks between songs. The music itself was supercharged throughout, with a mixture of their own material as well as a host of covers all given the ‘Hot 8’ treatment. Among the best of these were the Snoop Dogg track What’s My Name and the Marvin Gaye standard Sexual Healing.

It’s hard to think of a more unique act on the circuit right now. If you have an opportunity to catch them at one of their remaining festival dates this year (including Truck Festival in Oxfordshire and Tramlines in Sheffield) then best make them a priority.

Raphaella – Turn Around

Raphaella2North London-based producer and artist Raphaella has released her first solo release of the year with the sublime Turn Around. It’s slick and stripped back right from the off, providing just the right backing for a rich, soulful vocal.

Speaking about the track, Raphaella said: “Turn Around is about the moment you walk away from someone because you know they’re no good for you. Your head has made the decision, but you know your heart could betray you any moment. Love is hard and the right decision is almost never the easiest – it’s the last bit of your heart that hasn’t let go, saying if you wanted me to, I could turn around and come right back. Turn Around is the last song before letting go.”

Expect a lot more to come from Raphaella. She has been busy in the studio working on projects with luminaries such as Rudimental, MNEK, Steel Banglez, MIST, Gorgon City, Watermat and Wilkinson.

Raphaella – Turn Around

LIVE: Flogging Molly, o2 Institute, Birmingham, (28/6/17)

Flogging Molly 16Irish-American Celtic punk band Flogging Molly brought their energetic show to Birmingham and made it a night to remember for fans of all ages.

The venue filled up nicely during the run-up to their appearance on stage, and yet the balconies remained comparatively empty – clearly this was one of those evenings for jumping around in front of stage and letting your hair down rather than simply observing from afar.

It was a very mixed crowd to say the least, with fans ranging from teenagers to 60-somethings; from sweet and innocent looks to big, muscly, tattooed guys. There were also plenty of Flogging Molly / Eire / Shamrock t-shirts – many with various witty sayings – on show.

During the intro musicians gather on the stage and the band starts the night with The Hand Of John L. Sullivan, a song from their recently released sixth studio album Life Is Good. These Celtic punk rockers are a treat for a photographer like me who loves vast, crazy, jumping around, grimacing artists, but it is hard to pick a point to focus on. In each corner of the stage there is something going on and that’s how it was for the entire set which was full of energy. Centre of attention though, is Dave King, the fun-loving frontman who was sure to take a sip of two of Guinness between each song.

They finish the main part of the set with the fast-paced Seven Deadly Sins, before thanking the public and disappearing backstage. The crowd is left stomping the feet, clapping hands and shouting. They clearly haven’t had enough so the band return to the stage with a new song Crushed (Hostile Nations) and finish off with the high tempo Salty Dog, during which the dancefloor turns into a mosh pit and drinks are flying up in the air. The LA-based band wave their goodbyes while King promises to return to Birmingham next year before unifying the crowd by leading the time-honoured singalong of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. It was an optimistic, life-affirming end to what was an utterly rousing evening of raucous fun.

Review & Photos: Arta Gailuma

ALBUM: LANY – LANY

lany-albumThree years after the release of their first EP Acronyms, American three-piece LANY are finally blessing fans with their much awaited self-titled debut album. Already having four popular EPs under their belt and having supported the likes of Halsey, Troye Sivan and Ellie Goulding on tour, LANY have built a strong name for themselves along with a large and devoted fan base.

The album opens with the calming sound of rain in short but sweet track Dumb Stuff which quickly develops into an electric love song, setting the energetic and passionate tone of the album. The next song, single Breakup, manages to contrast the pain of being alone with a lively dance beat, along with lyrics that speak to any lonely teenager’s soul.

Third track Super Far tells the story of an unhealthy relationship in which one person is much more invested than the other. Frontman, Paul Klein, paints the tragic image of knowing it’s doomed for failure but clinging to hope anyway, in lyrics like ‘my heart is so invested, I don’t want to face the truth’ and ‘Got me begging for affection, all you do is roll your eyes’.

The melodic and emotional tone of the album is somewhat interrupted by track Parents which is a voicemail from member Jake Goss’ mum in response to a photo of his new tattoo which he posted on Instagram a few months back. An old fan would recognize this as a reference to song OMG from their first EP, another voicemail from Jake’s mum also starting with the words ‘oh my god’.

ILYSB is the lead single from the album and the song most people will recognise, with the band releasing a music video for it a few months ago. Klein’s strong vocals and powerful lyrics paint a dramatic picture, one of longing, love and lust. It’s the kind of song that you want to live in. First being released three years ago, it’s the oldest song on the album and considered iconic amongst fans.

LANY – ILYSB

The next few tracks seem to be describing the aftermath of a relationship, with songs 13 and Hericane detailing the emotions left in the wake of love. Track Hurts also couples lyrics that speak of pain and desperation with an electric guitar riff, a common feature of this record.

The first new single to be released from the album was Good Girls, and may be recognised by non-LANY fans as it was recently sampled in the form of a sunglasses Snapchat filter. This perfectly represents the tone of the song, and the album, as it feels like the right way to listen to it would be on a beach at sunset.

LANY – Good Girls

The penultimate song, So, Soo Pretty can only be described as just that. It’s a dreamy instrumental with the angelic piano chords contrasting with some of the pop tones of previous tracks.

LANY finishes with single It Was Love in which Klein reflects on a previous relationship. When placed in context of the whole record, it seems like he is reflecting on the album itself – making you feel more like you’ve just heard a story.

This record is full of vibrant songs about heartbreak that make you unsure whether you’re supposed to dance, cry or, more likely, both. The album tells the tale of love, whether it be true, unfulfilling or lost and Paul Klein’s vocals wrapped up in beautiful synthetic sounds along with his heartfelt lyrics, make it easy for you to immerse yourself in the story he’s telling.

Review by Tabetha Parrick

LIVE: Kyla La Grange, Thekla, Bristol (16/6/17)

Kyla La Grange, Bristol, 16/6/17 (© Sync Music Blog) - full and photo gallery in the Live Reviews section at musyncuk.com

Kyla La Grange, Bristol, 16/6/17 (© Sync Music Blog)

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

LIVE: Sundara Karma, o2 Academy, Bristol (27/5/17)

DSC_0886.jpg

Sundara Karma, Bristol, 27/5/17 (© Sync Music Blog)

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.

LIVE: Marsicans, The Joiners, Southampton (29/5/17)

DSC_1369.jpg

Marsicans, Southampton (photo: Phoebe Reeks)

Up-and-coming Leeds four-piece Marsicans brought their indie-pop vibe to Southampton for the first time ever, to play at The Joiners.

Their set opened with Arms of Another, a massive track which instantly got the crowd interacting with the band, singing and dancing along. They went on to play a few newer songs including Wake Up Freya – a more stripped back song compared with their more typically dancey tunes – as well as their most recent single, Friends, which was released earlier this year.

The set concluded with popular songs Far Away, Swimming and Absence which were guaranteed to make you move with their infectious guitar and drum beats.

You could tell that the band were truly enjoying themselves from the moment they stepped on stage, and that positive energy spread to the crowd. It’s hard not to get swept along with it all, with songs that are full of hooks and which most certainly transfer well to the live stage.

The group formed in 2014, and are slowly but surely beginning to get the recognition they deserve. There’s no doubt about the future looking positive for the band, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more tunes from them in the coming months.

Marsicans will be joining Natives on their upcoming tour this month. Tickets here.

Words and photos: Phoebe Reeks

LIVE: Marianas Trench, Gorilla, Manchester (9/5/17)

For Canadian pop outfit Marianas Trench, May was a particularly busy month. The band’s Final Countdown tour [Europe – geddit?!] took in much of Europe in a marathon 17-date tour in support of latest album Astoria and recent single Who Do You Love (check out the video for that track too!).

With a set made up primarily of tracks from the new album plus a smattering of older material, the band are clearly made for the live show, bringing a real sense of energy and excitement to their music, which itself is a seemingly impossible blend of 80s rock/metal, 70s glam and contemporary pop. It sounds like it should never work but it really does, and makes for a memorable evening out.

The band will be in action again in their home country over the coming months, playing a string of festival dates in Canada during July and August.

Photos: Becca Arnold

LIVE: The Big Moon, SWX, Bristol (27/5/17)

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.

LIVE: Flyte, The Railway Inn, Winchester (19/5/17)

DSC_4259Flyte returned to Winchester to perform their dreamy indie-pop to a packed Railway Inn. This was essentially a hometown show for the lads, with the room being filled with family and friends as well as fans.

The show opened with the band performing a stripped back cover of Archie, Marry Me, by Alvvays. They then went on to play an old favourite, Closer Together before performing a string of unreleased material due to be featured on their upcoming debut album. The crowd listened intently and danced along to these songs they’d never heard, and sang along to more recent singles Echoes and Victoria Falls and old song Harley Street.

The band also performed their own rendition of Wings of Love in which their bassist, Nick Hill and drummer, Jon Supran switched their instruments for lead guitar. I felt this, mixed with the band’s harmonising vocals throughout the night, really highlighted their talent.

Their set finished with the first song they wrote together, Faithless, which the crowd went wild for. After three years together, the band announced they have recently recorded their debut album in Australia, which we should hear more about next month.

Words and photos: Phoebe Reeks

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

Screenshot_2017-05-13-10-54-28 (2).png

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.

Screenshot_2017-05-13-11-04-37 (2).png

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

Screenshot_2017-05-13-11-06-18 (2).png

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

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