Monday, 22 September 2014

LOOE MUSIC FESTIVAL REVIEW

Looe Music Festival - 19th-21st September 2014, Looe, Cornwall

Friday
So here it is, my local festival at the end of the summer and one of those that is growing in reputation. For those that don't know Looe, it's a sprawling, labyrinthine Cornish fishing village full of bars, odd shops and the constant smell of fish. I love it. For this one weekend of the year, however, Looe is turned in to a maze of tents, marquees and pubs with musicians squeezed in to the tightest of corners which makes it even more charming. Arriving on the Friday my companion and I were full of anticipation and ready for a string of live bands - a feeling that was slightly tempered by the queue to pick up wristbands which was a little excessive. Nevertheless, we soon got our wristbands and then it was time for the music....

Samba Kernow in full flow
Thirst was paramount so we hit the bar and once we stepped outside we were immediately faced by the sight of a dozen pounding women of varying ages with a couple of gents in the back row. Rather than the hen party we originally thought it to be this was actually the local phenomenon that is Samba Kernow (https://www.facebook.com/SambaKernow?fref=ts). The rhythm this group produces is infectious, tight and irresistible which would normally be enough to keep my interest by coming to a festival with someone harbouring a raging hangover has it's downsides. So, we moved on to the beach where the main stages are located to check out the action. There we found 3 Daft Monkeys (https://www.facebook.com/3daftmonkeys?fref=ts) who were in full swing, entertaining a packed ten with their gypsy-folk-punk. The blend of fierce acoustic guitar, smooth bass, lively violin and tight drums was a heady combination and the dance floor comprised entirely of sand made for an intriguing if not entirely stable folk-mosh.

Back to the front of festival area - largely to avoid the Brand New Heavies - where we caught the tail end of the entirely sparkly and slick Falmouth Soul Sensation (https://www.facebook.com/falmouthsoulsensation?fref=ts). The Cornish collective shook their tail feathers and did the alligator like true soul kings and queens with the crowd lapping up every soulful, sweat drenched note. A quick about turn saw us facing the opposite stage where Mod legends The Lambrettas (https://www.facebook.com/TheLambrettas?fref=ts) launched straight in to their set which, although tight, was a little lacking in punch due to the quiet soundsystem. The quartet worked through their late 70s mod revival hits and had the crowd lapping things up. We wondered over to the Portbyhan Hotel to catch Black Friday (https://www.facebook.com/blackfridayplymouth?fref=ts) but a combination of a long week and a delayed start time meant we couldn't hack it and the first night ended there. Weak, I know.

Saturday
Wondering through the afternoon sunshine drenched streets of Looe there was a palpable excitement in the air as people danced in every corner and music poured from the bars. A man playing a cigar box guitar in the doorway of a shop has a gaggle of enthralled listeners young and old but we don't have time to hang around - we have a date. Down on the beach, the Adrenalin Quarry stage is playing host to a rag tag bunch known as Tankus The Henge (https://www.facebook.com/tankusthehenge) and the crowd are lapping it up. Imagine, if you will, a bunch of classically trained Jazz musicians who have run away to join the circus and, on the way to the big top, they picked up some tapes for the journey. Those tapes influenced their sound with like of Madness, Chas'n'Dave, some East European folk, Jay Kay's dress sense and then they got to the circus where they added in the performance element. The horns, the piano, the dancing, the megaphone, the guitarist with a broken foot, the shouty bassist and a drummer trying to keep them all swinging to the same beat - it's a heady mix and one that the crowd on the beach absolutely lapped up.

Lucie Marie Closier + Guitarist
A sashay in to the Beach Bar tent was predominantly for the purpose of getting a beer but while we were there we caught Lucie Marie Closier (https://www.facebook.com/lucieeofficial), an Essex based singer who recently appeared on the Voice. Now, I don't want to knock the ambitions of a 17 year old but it did seem odd that this girl was put on the second biggest stage at the festival so sing cover versions accompanied by some muted acoustic guitar. Vocally, Closier obviously has talent but hasn't found her channel yet and when the biggest cheer of your set is for the guitar being properly plugged in half way through then you know you've got a way to go.

Wild Food Kitchen
Turning our attention back to the main stage we find Toseland (https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJamesToseland) in full rock swing with the band covered head to toe in black leather and a whole lot of hair. If you like your rock on the soft metal side of things with an 80s tinge then these guys might just be for you but we needed something with more meat so we went a-wondering. On said wonderings we came across the glorious Wild Food Kitchen (http://www.wildfoodkitchen.com/) who are, strictly speaking, not a band but do a mean pulled venison burger and nettle falafel that is worth mentioning along the way.

Sound Of The Sirens











With full bellies and the sun firmly out of sight we made our way to the Harbour Marquee to catch the highly rated duo Sound Of The Sirens (https://www.facebook.com/SoundoftheSirens). These ladies are firm LWM favourites but this is the first time I've seen them live and I was not disappointed. The tight, two part harmonies are the perfect juxtaposition to the fierce, agitated acoustic guitar playing and rib shaking bass drum rhythms. Sadly, the inebriation of the crowd and the sound check of the band at the other end of the marquee didn't quite give the pair the respect their intricate and imaginative melodies but nevertheless I'm glad to have finally seen them live. Although the slick and groove based Blues of Kris Dollimore (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kris-Dollimore/145892765585961?fref=ts) and has band were tempting we headed back to the main stage to catch a bit of headliners Squeeze (https://www.facebook.com/squeezeofficial) instead. The London legends didn't disappoint and rattled out the hits including 'Take Me I'm Yours', 'Up The Junction' and fan favourite 'Cool For Cats'. The crowd on the beach lapped it up and, despite a slightly weak soundsystem, the night was capped in fine style....or so we thought.

Tankus The Henge @ Zute Bar
Wondering back in to the heart of Looe we remembered that our friends Tankus The Henge were due to play a second, more intimate set at the Zute Lounge so we thought we'd pop in for a closer look. What we found was a venue full to bursting, a mob of people 5 rows deep clamouring to get in and a couple of bewildered security guards doing a great job of trying to manage the situation. Inside, the jazzy, New Orleans infused tones of the band started to seep out and they drew me in despite the throng. Squeezing between the masses it really felt like a moment was occurring that people would talk about for a long time to come as saxophone and trumpet were played awkwardly, wedged in around the drummer and the singing could be heard even if the singer could not be seen. This is what festivals in cities, towns and villages are all about and will surely be one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Surely....

Sunday
OK, I'm going to hold my hands up and apologise to the majority of the Sunday bands right now but I was flagging a bit so I didn't get to see as much as I ought to. Nevertheless, I did catch a few key performers and what I did catch was largely good. The big pull of the day for me was over on the Adrenalin Quarry stage were Kernow boys Crowns (https://www.facebook.com/crownsband) took to the stage to treat the crowd to their unique brand of rock'n'roll mixed with a Cornish folk style that makes you want to dance or at least jig on the sandy dance floor. Rumours were abound that this would be the last performance by the band which would be a great loss if true but a clever marketing ploy if not. Only time will tell*.

DfunK @ The Beach Bar
Shuffling over to the Beach Bar we find an unlikely pairing of a young lad with an acoustic guitar and what appears to be Terry Pratchet on bass. This is, in fact, a stripped down duo version of Exeter band DfunK (https://www.facebook.com/dfunkdevon) but don't underestimate them, they have the power of the funk. Despite some fairly persistent technical issues, the pair persevered through a set that included funk, blues, jazz and soul but at the core was some superb guitar playing, a rich bass and smooth vocal style. I'd love to see the full band but these guys did a powerful job on their own and converted a good number of the audience in to fans with many a nod of approval visible among the crowd.

Back on the main stage and there was excitement in the air as the sun started to set and a bunch of men in red kilts appeared to roars of approval. Red Hot Chili Pipers (https://www.facebook.com/redhotchillipipersofficial?ref=ts&fref=ts) were the party band of choice with their brand of soft rock covers featuring a trio of pipers where a vocalist would normally be. The shtick was entertaining for a song or two but I've never been a fan of the bagpipes as an instrument so we decided to leave the masses and head for the back streets. What we found was a particularly tasty pulled pork sandwich, a seat by the harbour walls and the last few songs of a bearded folk singer who we affectionately named Blind Seamus Maguire on account of his lilt and white stick. As the stars began to spark on the water this seemed like the place to leave the festival.

There are myriad festivals around the UK and the South West has more than its fair share but Looe Festival is something a little bit special. The whole town opens its arms and doors to the public and all you have to do is open your ears and minds to ensure you have a great time. I'm already looking forward to next year when I will plan better and catch more of the music. Possibly...

*sadly the official Crowns Facebook page has confirmed that this was the band's last ever show. I will take off my hat and bow my head in respect.


More information: http://www.looemusic.co.uk/  

Saturday, 20 September 2014

GITTA DE RIDDER - SINGLE REVIEW

Gitta De Ridder - Mr Yesterday (Little Memories Records) 
Gitta De Ridder - Mr Yesterday

Dutch singer-songewriter Gitta De Ridder has played all around Europe before settling on the musical Mecca that is London town as the place to seek her fame and fortune. This new single and video, 'Mr Yesterday', are both delightfully wistful pieces of art in their own right. The video is a sepia toned slow flick through a photography album full of bittersweet memories of good times long since gone. Musically, the song mingles rolling acoustic plucks with long held piano notes that warm the heart and bring a tear to the eye. De Ridder's voice has an undeniably European twang but it's breathlessness and cracks around the edges just add to the beauty and emotion of the song. This is an understated by simultaneously powerful introduction to what I hope will be a fruitful musical career for Gitta De Ridder.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/gittaderidder?fref=ts

Watch The Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qfv9XyKuSwM

Live Dates:

25th September - 013, Tilburg
27th September - Wim's Muziekkelder, Doetinchem
28th September - Platenzaak't Oor, Almere
2nd October - Cafe Hofman, Utrecht
2nd November - The Finsbury, London

27th November - The Brunswick, Hove

Friday, 19 September 2014

PAUMA - SINGLE REVIEW

Pauma - Sink Or Swim 
Pauma - Sink Or Swim

Release Date: 10th November 2014

They're a mysterious bunch are Pauma. Not a whole lot of information exists on the web, they have very few followers on Twitter and I don't even know where they come from. What I do know, however, is that new singe 'Sink Or Swim' is a piece of gorgeous indie rock infused with Motown rhythms and bluesy emotions. The guitars are pure Black Rebel Motorcycle Club but the chorus is all about the Killers while the vocals are as snake hipped and sleazy as you could possibly hope for. These guys may just be pulling off one of the best PR stunts in a while by letting the music do the talking and then following it up later with what I would imagine will be a string of incendiary live shows, model girlfriends and illegitimate children named after obscure German cars. This is a big tune and by God I hope there are more to come.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/paumauk/info


Listen Here: https://www.facebook.com/paumauk/app_190322544333196 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

PALE FIRES - EP REVIEW

Pale Fires - Mammoth EP 
Pale Fires - Mammoth EP

Release Date: 29th September 2014

Pale Fires are a bunch of Camden lads with something a little bit special about them that I can't quite put my finger on. They aren't full of bombast or tunes that necessarily make you want to get up and dance. What they have, however, is a sense of cool and the ability to write a tune that keeps you on your toes from the first beat to the last chord. Opening track 'River' features hypnotically swirling guitars, skittish drums and smooth vocals that are dripping in smoke and whisky. 'Mammoth' is up next with a swagger and some seriously sexy guitars slathered in distortion and sweat before 'Peace Of Mind' grinds in to view with a pulsing bass line and Marc Bolan-esque vocals snaking through the midnight air.

Pale Fires are certainly ill fitting for a time where speed and instant gratification are kings but that's what makes them so utterly fulfilling and satisfying. 'The Boat That Is Rowing Slow' makes that point beautifully as the melodies struggles to emerge from within the murky psyche swamp but emerge they do like the many tentacles of a lonely octopus. On 'Howl' the quartet take a turn for the more moody and atmospheric with some subtle vocal harmonies washing over the sinister guitar notes before the song explodes in a burst of rock'n'roll excess, sexual energy and leather trousers. This six track EP closes with 'Earth Mother', a song placed somewhere between Led Zeppelin and Radiohead which is a new place on me. Like I said at the beginning, there's something special about these guys and I can't put my finger on it but that just makes it all the more exciting.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/palefiresuk?fref=ts

Live Dates:

19th September - The Lock Tavern, London
27th September - The Shrubbery Recording Studio, Bury Saint Edmonds

7th November - The Macbeth, London

PET SUN - SINGLE REVIEW

Pet Sun - Feel Like I'm Going Away 
Pet Sun - Feel Like I'm Going Away

Release Date: 27th September 2014

These bums are from Hamilton in Canada (is there another Hamilton? Did I need to define that with a country?) and they describe themselves as Psychedelic Sandwich. Go figure. This new single and the accompanying video for 'Feel Like I'm Going Away' is, admittedly, a little bit bonkers with the video looking like an interlude from an episode of the Mighty Boosh. Musically, this is a mess of jangly, distorted guitars, clattering drums and drawled, Evan Dando-esque vocals. This is a lot of fun and would probably be a huge load more fun in a small, dark, sweaty venue with a pack crowd and the speakers turned up to 11.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/petsunrocknroll?fref=ts

Watch The Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXyGaxPVwTo&feature=youtu.be

Live Dates:


25th September - The Phoenix Theatre, Toronto w/The King Khan & BBQ Show + The Black Lips

SAINT AGNES - SINGLE REVIEW

Saint Agnes - A Beautiful Day For Murder (Energy Snake Records) 
Saint Agnes - A Beautiful Day For Murder

According to Wikipedia, Saint Agnes was a 13 year old girl who was the patron saint of chastity, gardeners, engaged couples, rape victims, virgins and, well, girls. This is a lot of responsibility for a young teenage girl and, apart from the gardening thing, is pretty weirdly sexual as well. This has nothing to do with the band's music, necessarily, although there is a darkly sensuous tone to this new single from the London combo. 'A Beautiful Day For Murder' takes the sexuality of Goldfrapp and blends with the spirit of a Tarantino movie and the raw energy of the White Stripes at their moodiest. The twang-heavy guitars and rolling drums are glued together by the thick, sticky organ and sultry, smoky vocals of the appropriately named Kitty. This is music to murder to, for sure, but if murdering isn't your thing then why not use this number to make a move on someone you've got the lusts for - if they can get off to this then you're in for a good night and no mistake.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/wearesaintagnes

Live Dates:

20th September - Southsea Fest, Portsmouth

12th November - Upstairs at the Garage, London

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

UNCLE LUC - ALBUM REVIEW

Uncle Luc - Humblebrag (Super Fan 99 Records) 
Uncle Luc - Humblebrag

Release Date: 22nd September 2014

Luke Barham is from Surrey. That's a fact. I'm not disputing that. Why would I? But what confuses me is that his minimalist, lo-fi approach to songwriting should, by rights, be coming out of downtown Manhattan or nowhereseville Sacramento. Regardless of geography, however, the man that goes by the stage name of Uncle Luc is something of an understated genius. This debut album opens with 'Leader Boards', a tune so understated that it barely gets out of bed despite some well placed piano notes and muted guitar plucks that are pure early morning delight. 'Farewell Monsoon' has a Sufjan Stevens meets Lemonheads feel to it with a touch of the Flight Of The Conchords about it which, in my book, is all thoroughly good stuff. There is more energy and bounce on 'I Write' with a beautifully thwacked double bass line and some spritely acoustic guitar before 'Happy Too' strides in like Snow Patrol with a sense of humour.

Barham has such a laisez faire attitude mixed with a wry sense of humour that I am not entirely convinced I didn't spend three years knocking around with him at Uni as these seem to have been the main qualities I looked for in a friend - as well as a willingness to buy a round and listen to obscure 90s indie. 'New Illusions' is up next and Uncle Luc is in intimate mood with soft, rolling acoustic notes and near whispered vocals that could be considered creepy if I wasn't utterly sure that this is a recording and there isn't someone sitting next to me. On 'Rainbow' there is a bit more pop swagger along the lines of the Magic Numbers or the Zutons while 'Oldest Friend' is a reflective number which owes a certain amount to the likes of the Kinks or Cat Stevens (or whatever name he goes by these days). The optimistic acoustic tones are slightly at odds with the tragic lyrical tones of 'Frankenstein's Monster' but then 'Still A Country Song' has a spaced out, Flaming Lips meets David Bowie feel to it, neither of whom are particularly renowned for writing country songs. The man is obviously a little odd in the head but then all the best creators are and final track 'Quarter Past Dead' seals the reputation with a dissonant children's orchestra from your nightmares accompanying the acoustic strumming. Bonkers stuff but presented in a gently comforting way - like slippers made of live badgers.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uncle-Luc/309371199215768?fref=ts

Live Dates:

20th September - Southsea Festival Fringe, Southsea
20th September - Southsea Festival, Southsea
23rd September - The Islington, London
1st October - Westend Centre, Aldershot
3rd October - The Flapper, Birmingham

15th October - The Boileroom, Guildford