Friday, 17 November 2017

WILDWOOD KIN - LIVE REVIEW

Wildwood Kin + Charlie Harris live @ the Brook Inn, Plympton – 16/11/2017 


I’m a blogger and, as a result, a blagger. I don’t get paid for my writing so if I can get the odd free gig ticket or CD (or T-shirt, hint hint) then I’ll take it as recompense for my time, I’ve no problem with that. However, as soon as this gig was announced I knew I had to buy tickets for what is surely one of the biggest gigs to ever hit my home-town of Plympton. My hunch was right and as I arrived at the Brook Inn (a shining beacon of a venue in a world where live music venues are closing quicker than you can say ‘Simon Cowell killed songwriting’) the sold out nature of the night soon became apparent. 

Charlie Harris
When opening act Charlie Harris takes to the stage you can feel the nerves emitting from the teenager who has developed a strong reputation for one so young. The Cornish musician, however, soon turns heads (and shuts a few mouths) with the voice that creeps hesitantly and then blissfully from her mouth. Working through a few covers and one of her own compositions, Harris’ voice lives up to the hype and, despite a couple of technical hitches which don’t help with the nerves, she puts in a performance that has the crowd nodding and smiling with approval – particularly the sparse but linguistically accurate Ukulele version of globe straddling hit of the summer ‘Despacito’. If she can spend 2018 relentlessly gigging and writing more of her own songs then Charlie Harris will find herself on bigger stages with bigger audiences, no doubt.

Next up are three musicians from the Exeter scene who have banded together under the guise of Club Brothers – presumably because of their mutual love of the McVitie’s biscuit. Now, one of them I’ve seen fronting one of the best wedding bands I’ve ever seen, another I’ve seen all over the internet and the other shares a name with a host of good people so, collectively, the trio of singers gave me high hopes. In terms of the quality of their vocals, there’s no denying that these three have talent and they complement each other nicely as they mix covers and original compositions effortlessly. What was a slight let down, however, was their choice of songs which all felt a little to Sunday afternoon chill-out soul vibes which seemed to dampen the mood slightly. Covers of Sugababes and Kodaline worked but didn’t really inspire any swell of emotion or dancing so it felt like these three talented entertainers were holding something back a little. Then again, as one of my gig companions said, the job of a support act is to make the headliner look good so maybe there were some generous tactics at play here.
Wildwood Kin (Pic: The Lazy Photographer)

As the iPad toting compere left the stage to huge applause, three demure and unassuming women take to the stage with hunched body language and the flicker of a smile on their faces. This is not a band prone to rock star posing or over the top displays but then they don’t need any of that, they’ve got something very, very special. This is Exeter familial trio Wildwood Kin and regular LWM readers will know I’ve been championing these ladies for a while now so it was particularly gratifying to see them playing to a sold out venue on a Thursday night. Opening with former single ‘Warrior Daughter’, the trademark three part harmonies brought an awed hush to proceedings (apart from the three guys at the back who decided to talk and laugh through the whole performance – tools) and their magic started to spread.

In between songs like ‘Dove’, Hold On’ and ‘Circumstance’, it is singer and percussionist (and avid hat wearer) Meghann Loney who assumes the role of frontwoman, quietly drawing the audience in with tour stories, an unerring ability to stare in to the audience’s soul through a camera lens and the encouragement of one of her cousins (Bethany Key) to sneeze on stage for the first time (no dice this time) which all serves to endear the band to the audience all to more.  It is on songs like ‘Steady My Heart’, however, that my impress-o-meter (patent pending) goes up to new levels as the trio explore a new, darker side to their songwriting that adds depth and breadth to an already impressive set. A superbly emotional cover of the Stereophonics’ ‘Dakota’ brings a tear to the eye while the constant switching between acoustic, electric guitar, keys, bouzouki and a variety percussion keeps you guessing without the need for a large stage rig.

Wildwood Kin (Pic: The Lazy Photography)
A year ago, Wildwood Kin sold out Exeter Cathedral as a home-town, home-coming show and you would have forgiven them for going out at something of a pinnacle but these three are not content with being an enormous fish in a medium sized pond. No, despite being able to wow crowds is large pubs like tonight, these three have a debut album, ‘Turning Tides’, under their collective belt and they’ll take a break after this national tour before going again in 2018. With a much deserved encore of ‘The Valley’ leaving the Brook Inn chiming to the closing words of “help me find my place in the warmth of your embrace”, you can’t help but feel that something special has occurred here tonight, something that is very unlikely to be repeated with such intimacy and bonhomie ever again. Something that those back of the pub chatters may well live to regret…..if there’s any justice!

More information:



BLACK GOLD BUFFALO - SINGLE REVIEW

Black Gold Buffalo - Pearls Deep
Black Gold Buffalo - Pearls Deep

Release Date: Out Now

This might be the first single from the debut album by Black Gold Buffalo but this is not the first rodeo these guys have competed in. No, South East dwellers Keziah, Marc, Joy and Hannah have been honing their sound, their attitude and their focus for a number of years and it shows. ‘Pearls Deep’ is moody, arty and too cool for its own good but it also has oodles of heart and soul which makes it interestingly endearing – like the cool kid at school who seems unapproachable but also smiles at you secretly in the corridor. Taking the production values and style of the XX and Hot Chip, mixing them with the atmospheric qualities of Bat For Lashes and then injecting them with the spirit of the Eurythmics in their prime results in a heady brew but one I want more of. 2018 is there for the taking if this is anything to go by.

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


THE RETROACTION - SINGLE REVIEW

The Retroaction - These Things For You
The Retroaction - These Things For You

Release Date: Out Now

There’s something delightfully ramshackle about this debut single and its accompanying video from Toronto upstarts The Retroaction that I just fell in love with immediately. ‘These Things For You’ takes the raw energy and ‘one-take’ vibe of early White Strips and the Strokes, mixes it with the gang mentality of the Libertines and the Subways and then looks for direction from the Who, the Faces and early Rolling Stones material. The guitars are scratchy, the production values are pretty low and the vocals are slightly slurred but don’t you dare take any of those things as a negative. This is how bands should sound when they start out so now’s the time to get on board. 


Live Dates: 

25th November - This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton
1st December - Queens Head, Burlington
19th December - Smiling Buddah, Toronto

Watch the Video: 




JOE DOLMAN – SINGLE REVIEW

Joe Dolman - Something Beautiful
Joe Dolman - Something Beautiful

Release Date: Out Now

There are, like all coins, two sides to this track from 20 year old singer songwriter Joe Dolman. On the one hand, ‘Something Beautiful’ fits all too firmly in to the Ed Sheeran, James Bay and Jamie Lawson category of tunes which is offensively inoffensive. This is so ready for heavy BBC Radio 2 rotation and maybe use on a montage in some popular TV show E4 that it feels a little contrived – it only avoids being ‘Galway Girl’ by a couple of chords. However, flip that coin over and what you’ve got is a young, independent songwriter with a strong, smooth voice and the ability to knock out a chorus that earworms in to your subconscious after one listen. Now, depending on your levels of cynicism and snobbishness I’ll leave it up to you as whether you want to hear this as a heads or tails track but I’m going to keep flipping the coin until the next track comes out and then I’ll make my call. 


Live Dates:

24th November - O2 ABC, Glasgow
25th November - O2 Ritz, Manchester
26th November - O2 Institute, Birmingham
1st December - O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London
9th February - Globe at Hay, Hay-on-Wye
7th March - O2 Academy 3, Birmingham
8th March - Cafe Kino, Bristol
10th March - Glad Cafe, Glasgow
11th March - Fallow Cafe, Manchester
12th March - O2 Academy, Islington

Watch the video: 


BITCH FALCON – SINGLE REVIEW

Bitch Falcon - Of Heart (Reckless Records)
Bitch Falcon - Of Heart

Release Date: 24th November 2017

There is a real weight to the new single from Irish doom merchants Bitch Falcon and that’s not to say that it’s necessarily heavy, it just weighs on you. ‘Of Heart’ lumbers and lurches with a rhythm section made of lead, mahogany and concrete blocks that has the ominous momentum of some slow moving but unstoppable evil creature in low budget horror film. The wail of the lead guitar is the chain around the neck of the desperate, pleading vocals of Lizzie Fitzpatrick – the natural successor to the PJ Harvey throne. At over six minutes long and unrelentingly oppressive this is the musical equivalent of being trapped on your own in a deep sea submarine with nothing but a list of the opportunities you’ve missed out on in life. That said, I bloody love it. 


Live Dates:

18th November – Cyprus Avenue, Cork
23rd November – Roisin Dubh, Galway

25th November – Whelan’s, Dublin


ESPER SCOUT – SINGLE REVIEW

Esper Scout - Dividing Marks (Bomb The Twist/Clue Club 2017) 
Esper Scout - Dividing Marks

Release Date: 24th November 2017

I was pretty gutted when Leeds’ NARCS split earlier this year as I was a firm fan of their style and anti-establishment attitude. Nevertheless, when one love moves on, there’s usually something waiting to fill that void and, coincidentally, that something is putting out a single on Clue Records – the former home of NARCS. Esper Scout are that special something and new single ‘Dividing Marks’ might not be as directly political as their aforementioned contemporaries but the brooding tones and pinpoint chaos is right up there. The guitars and drums thrust and parry with each other through the verses before exploding in an indie-grunge storm during the chorus. Lines  like “Tell me what use is wishing for certains when our times are in transition” and “Threads of proof weave a fabric of truth, poisoned rags then infect the cause, Layman, Lords, whose word’s worth more?” are delivered with anger, bitterness and a sense of malevolence that cuts through the squall of feedback. If you’re looking for that lost link between the dead pan delivery of the Long Blondes, the power of NARCS and the angularity of the Maccabees then this might just be what you’re looking for. I’m fairly sure it’s not what Bono’s been looking for all these years, though, so you should be safe here for a while. 


Live Dates:

21st December – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds w/The Cribs + PINS

HANNAH RODRIGUEZ – EP REVIEW

Hannah Rodriguez - Not Ideal EP
Hannah Rodriguez - Not Ideal EP

Release Date: Out Now

I honestly don’t know what I expected from the debut four track EP produced by recent London immigrant Hannah Rodriguez but it certainly wasn’t this. To be clear, when I say immigrant, Rodriguez has come from the Lake District before any Daily Mail readers burst a blood vessel (also, if you are a Daily Mail reader, please jog on). The EP opens with a four count and then straight in to ‘My Mate Says’ that sounds like Amy Winehouse singing with Morcheeba while Sneaker Pimps get experimental on production duties. The soft, warm keys and Rodriguez’s dusky tones are counterbalanced by moody, soulful horns and that clicking beat that is as lean as can be. On ‘11th Hour’, we’re transported to the back of a black cab on its way home with Rodriguez sleepily singing her way to the end of the day which puts you in a dream-like state with a vibe that sits on the fence between soul and trip-hop.


There’s some scratchy recording of a child talking at the start of ‘Not Ideal’ before we settle in to a slow, deep groove that the likes of Joss Stone and Corrine Bailey-Rae would happily get down and dirty in. Rodriquez’s voice has that wonderful quality of being both sultry and seductive to suit those late-night moods but also light, breezy and warm to suit a summer’s afternoon spent in the garden with old records drifting out from the house. The closing track on the EP is ‘Croissants & Coffee’ which takes things in a Jazz direction as that delicately placed guitar is enveloped by Rodriguez’s sumptuous voice like butter melting in to the holes on a warm crumpet. A gorgeous and versatile voice used expertly, then. The Lake District might just want this lady back.