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Song of the day: You made me glow

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Good Monday Morning,

So as you know I wrote extensively about my time at The Great Escape. However there was SO much talent that I missed I am now going to report some more bands that I heard wonderful things about but did not manage to watch. We start from a band coming out of  Brighton itself called Iyes. I heard soooo much about them since I left the festival – I really feel like I missed out. The girl guy duo specialize in this new electro indie space that I have been reporting a lot about. Think CHVRCHES. That’s the sound bracket.

So here is a lovely little single Glow 

I wish them all the best on their journey.

 

Festival Review: The Great Escape // Brighton, England // 18 May 2013 // Day 3: Classic Plastic, Superfood, Za!, Concrete Knives, Dan Croll, Chvrches and Tribes

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Ok, so after Day 1 and Day 2 summary of The Great Escape let me shoot out Day 3 before my memory gets fuzzy.

So today’s convention was based on DIY artists and yet again this session was eloquently kicked off by Chris Cooke of CMU who did a beginners crash course through the industry from an artist/manager’s perspective. The discussion quickly emphasized two points: firstly that DIY is wrongly named and shouldn’t be done all by yourself but by slowly acquiring the correct team to help you reach your goal and secondly DIY is serious hard work. We then heard from artist both in the start, middle and end of their career on how they did it – special highlight was hearing stories from Billy Bragg and Jake Shillingfor.

However the biggest highlight of the day was going to the A&R panel where we heard from legendary talent scouts; Jack Shankly (Domino/Weird World), Jos Watkin (Parlophone), Korda Marshall (Infectious Music), but most importantly the almighty legend that is Seymour Stein of Sire Records. I sat just in front of Seymour, and hearing him retell his stories about he signed Depeche Mode, The Smiths and Madonna.

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I then caught an impromptu gorilla gig done out of a shop/apartment onto the street by Brighton’s very own Classic Plastic. The four boys produce a beautifully patriotic indie Brit pop sound, so good that cyclists stopped in the middle of the road and blocked cars. A perfect way to enjoy the sun coming down on a perfect Brighton late afternoon.

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Then onto to the evening gigs. It all started with Superfood at Audio. They are quite a rocking band which has a ‘band crush’ from Peace so that get them plenty of attention. They are fun but not completely my cup of tea because I do really enjoy the vocalist – and for me that kills the sound. Still check them out.

Then I went upstairs to Za! – and well that was quite an experience which I hadn’t been prepared for. Za! (and they fully deserve the exclamation mark in their name) are a two piece band claiming the genre of Post World Music. To give you an idea here is the description on their site:

This multilayer supersonic-orchestra combines African beats, noise, math rock, vocal-loops, free jazz, analogue electronics, sounds from the shepherds of Tuva, Balinese polyrhythms, Mauritanian trip hop, Dadaism, distortion, dance and drones – “POST WORLDMUSIC” may be the name of this danceable hybrid. 

Well yes if you think that’s crazy you got nothing on their performance. The concert was at Above Audio – and while we all waited for them inside – all of a sudden sounds come from outside. The two Barcelona-born musicians started playing outside on the patio. PAPA DUPAU on the trumpet and SPAZZFRICA EHD with two drum sticks hitting anything he could to make a beat – floor, wall, doors, rotating door – you name it, he was banging it. This grand entrance took a few minutes as they built up the intensity as they made their way to the stage. Then came synth, shouting, drums, guitar all into this crazy mad almost tribal music. Things became more and more crazy as the songs went on. In the end I reached that strange place where I wasn’t actually sure whether I liked it or not. But it was certainly interesting and full of energy.

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Then back down just to catch a small amount of Concrete Knives. At first I thought they were from Brighton as the crowd was going crazy – turned out they are a French band. The five piece band is fantastically fun performers with matching joyful easy go lucky songs. And they had the crowd screaming and shouting for an encore (which of course they were denied under such a tight schedule). So if you looking for a fun day out – go watch them in concert and sing along to their tunes.

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Then came Dan Croll – who has been featured before on Song of the Day before. Looking as Harry Potterish as ever, his voice was fantastic, his accompanying guitarist very impressive and the songs were brought to life well. However about ¾ in I did not feel the need to stay and left before the finale to try make to Chvrches nice and early.

And thank goodness I did – the queue was kms long for the normal passes – luckily with my delegate pass I managed to get in to the jam packed Digital only having missed a few songs. Chvrches, who I have also featured on Song of the Day, were a favourite of the festival for good reason. Lauren Mayberry is so incredibly cute and tiny and looked even more harmless due to the fact that she had her arm in a cast. She looked like a porcelain doll; however even though her voice is correspondingly high in pitch it surprises in power. She sang crisp vocals to the electro pop beats beautifully produced Iain Cook and Martin Doherty who also accompanied her voice all merged together into easily digestible yet complex sounds. The venue had Sci-Fi inspired green lights that made the whole concert seem extraterrestrial. Lauren complained they freaked her out; she also complained her hair elastic was squishing her brain – we all just melted at every adorable word that came out her mouth. This band will definitely go far. We all hold our breath for a full LP.

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Then off to the last performance of the night – Tribes – who I have already written about twice since the concert. They are really the perfection of a four piece indie rock band – great energetic English sound, fantastic charm and a beat to make you jump. The room was packed, the people were jumping and the samples of the new album were phenomenal only to be released two days later.

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And that was that. Twelve o’clock struck and the carriages turned back to a pumpkin. The Great Escape was over. I dragged what remained of my limbs to my hotel to rest what was a fabulous 3 day adventure. Only 356 days to go to the next one.

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Festival Review: The Great Escape // Brighton, England // 17 May 2013 // Day 2: Andreya Triana, MØ, almost the Allah-Las and Mikal Cronin

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Ok so following from our last post, here is Day 2 of The Great Escape.

The day kicked off again by Chris Cooke of CMU who again wrapped up the changes in the music industry but taking an angle on what it means for artist and artist manager. He then did a panel with, amongst others, Brian Message (of ATC management also known as my idol) and Paul Hitchman (of the just released Kobalt Label services). Brian started by echoing Chris’ enthusiasm for the opportunities that are created due to the industry being in a state of flux and how this allows creativity and brilliance to float to the top. Him and Paul then discussed the successful launch of Nick Cave’s latest album. Exciting time for any creative entrepreneurs – amen to that.

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The rest of the day continued to focus on marketing services available to artist, how blogs fit into marketing for bands, tips on how to get gigs. Other highlight was the launch of Music Glue (DTC for music, merchandise and tickets) and Momentum Music Fund (funding for new artists).

Then after a very kind invite to a music industry dinner where I met many very friendly key players in the industry we moved on (a little late) to some more gigs.

First up was Andreya Triana who lives in Brighton so gathered a rather packed audience in Audio. With her up on stage alone with no instrument backing all focus was obviously on her voice – which of course is superb. The best description to me would be grated honey. There is beautiful contrast in the tone of it.

Then off we went to the Queen’s Hotel to catch , who I wrote about last week. It was pity she played in such an awkward venue (the basement of a hotel) because she really tried to create a tremendous atmosphere – dancing like crazy and throwing her self on the floor and all that jazz. To me it was slightly awkward in that environment. None the less she was brilliant. However my angle of the stage was less than ideal for photo taking.

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Then I headed to the Dome Studio to watch the Allah-Las. This was possibly the saddest part of the festival, because even being 30 minutes early I only got in as they finished the set. I was sad to say the least but it turned out to be a good thing as landed up sticking around for Mikal Cronin who were the find of the night.  What energy and wonderful sound. Mikal is the songwriter and singer but he has a whole band playing with him and they rocked me into jumping for 30 minutes straight. It reminded me a lot of Best Coast – it has that Americana west coast feel – they key sound is actually the drums (which for once was played by a lady!). His second album is called MCII and was released just this month. I can highly recommend.

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The queue for the Klaxons was never ending so we retreated to the Queens Hotel for some more networking.
And that was the end of Day 2.

Song of the day: I was on the verge of to scream, when you wouldn’t scream about anything

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Hello kids,

Well moving on from yesterday’s post about the first day of The Great Escape, let me put the limelight on the greatest act of the night: On an On. As I mentioned I just bought their first LP Give In and can’t get enough of it. The first two tracks on the album are clearly the stand out tracks and although I will admit to a couple of fillers I am enjoying the entire atmosphere of the album.

Here is Ghosts

And Every Song

It was a while since music got me dancing alone around my room.
Thank you On an On, you touched me.

Festival Review: The Great Escape // Brighton, England // 16 May 2013 // Day 1: Wolf Alice, Childhood, Everything Everything, How To Dress Well, Blue Hawaii, On an On

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I am just back from a magical 3 days in Brighton, having attended The Great Escape. My legs are sore, my body tired but my face is smiling and so are my ears. The Great Escape, often referred to England’s SXSW, is not only three days of exposing +300 of the best new up-and-coming artists from Europe but also a coinciding 3 day of music industry convention. It’s hard work to wake up for 10h30 start of non-stop keynote speakers, panels, interviews, networking and hot industry launches all ending at 5pm and then off to the gigs you go – dozens of options scattered over more than 30 venues around Brighton (thank goodness Brighton is rather small).

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It’s very different to any other festival I have ever been to, as it’s more about exposing the bands than it is about putting on a show – 30 minutes – high pressure – tight changing times – no encore. But it’s a wonderful atmosphere and everyone attending is fully into the music. And the talent is very very high although still young and fresh. There are however three big headline shows at The Dome: BASTILLE, BILLY BRAGG and EVERYTHING EVERYTHING.

The convention is a once off opportunity to hear key players in the music industry talk about where the music industry is going, have interesting panel discussions, give tips on how to break a new band and analyse the future of music. There are also plenty of chances to network and everyone’s barriers seem to be down and people are open and available to everyone they meet.

If you are working or wanting to work in the music industry this is an absolute must event and worth every penny and then some more you put in it.

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A lot happened in 3 days so I’ll try give you some highlights and break it up into three posts so its digestible.

Convention was beautifully opened my Chris Cooke, Editor of CMU (highly recommended free daily read) who is also in charge of all convention, with the ten big stories that have happened over the last year (Streaming services, digital, crowd sourcing, first year of ‘growth’ to name a few). Each day at a focus on one topic and today was about Data and Discovery. It was amazing to see how many tech platforms (Songdrop, Last.FM, Shazam, This Is My Jam, Pledge Music, Music Glue) offer in depth information about fans and listeners and all types of cool info. I also liked that all the music techies weren’t too deep in the data obsession, and all advised that the worst thing to do is to get addicted to data watching with no action behind it.

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The day ended with Everything Everything interviewed by Xfm’s John Kennedy. The interview started slow but as the band relaxed and the questions got more real we witnessed a very down to earth band. Joking about excitement over buying a new couch from Ikea and using a new vacuum cleaner to jokes about the worst band names they had ever been in and how Alex was only accepted in the band after he put up with Johanthan’s spontaneous toilet paper rolls attacks. They also explained their music: how they wanted to be a band that could like both Radiohead and Destiny’s Child. Jonathan Higgs, the singer of the band, discussed his need to create complex song construction and very rapid and detailed lyrics (which he impressively sings mostly in falsetto – let’s see how long his vocal chords last). He talks about the need to get all those words out and that he normally finds these lyrics while being surrounded by nature back home in a tiny village of Gisland. And that was a nice light way to end the convention for the day.

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Then to the gigs, first catch of the day: Wolf Alice at Coalition who I featured early this week.  The acoustics were so bad on the first song I nearly walked out, but thank goodness that I stayed – because the songs to come blew me away. The boys love to rock it out while Ellie Roswell looks both strangely innocent and dangerous at the same time, but definitely starving. She has a piercing voice and knows how to use the beauty of light and shade.

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Then I stuck around for Childhood, and I am sorry to say I wasn’t really impressed. There is a lot of hype about them being THE new indie rock band to rule England, and they did land the supporting act for the Palma Violets (who are also being hyped up to do the same). And to be fair – the sound it’s all there. Everything I would normally need to like a band. But something special is missing and a band that fails to make me move is a band that fails full stop. The lead singer even has an afro, but that could not make up for the fact that they are missing some magic. So I’m sorry to say I walked out of this one but feel free to give it a good listen yourself.

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Then off I went to see Everything Everything, which was a strange atmosphere really. Don’t get me wrong Jonathan has a voice of an angel and deserve that ridiculously over used cliché and the boys are good. But I guess I’m getting more and more jaded by pop music as I entrench myself in the indieness and I saw the gaps and simplicity of the music – which can be a good thing but this time I’m not sure I liked it all that much. Funny thing is I did enjoy it, but I’m just not sure if I really appreciated it.

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Then I ran to see How To Dress Well, in some hidden venue which was very difficult to find which I then had to queue outside of all of which lead to me in bad mood. I managed to catch just the last song but what an experience that was. Tom Krell explained how this song was about his brother, and that he had once been told off by a fan who said that he couldn’t sing such bad things. He proclaimed he didn’t care and he knew lots of people could relate. And so he stepped away from the mike, asks us not to film it as he hasn’t had enough time  to warm up his voice, and silent hits. He starts to sing acapella right from the heart, and everyone is hit, frozen, we can’t move but stare at him. His voice fills with pain and his eyes are closed with what must be flash backs. And he sings I dream of killing him so we can be friends and people start to get teary eye. The song is called Blue and said to be on a soon to be third album. There is a bad video here from another time he did it so you can get an idea of the amazingness we all experienced.

Then Blue Hawaii comes on – a girl/guy duo from Quebec. It’s made up of Raphaelle Standell-Preston who blows you away with her vocals while Alex “Agor” Cowan plays with all his knobs, bits and buttons to create accompaniment as they loop and loop again. Once the sound erupts you understand why the name is the right pick, it’s warm and happy like Hawaii but blue for all the electronic mechanics in it. Very enjoyable find.

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Then the last run of the day – back to Coalition by the beach – to see On an On. And what a finish. This three piece band is Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing, who had been performing together for the last few years with the indie group Scattered Trees and sometime last year decided to break away and do their own thing and bring us this beautiful electric dream pop. And thank goodness for this. I can’t find much about them right now as their site is down. But I love them. I bought their LP Give In and I am playing it now on repeat.

And that is day 1 done.

Song of the day: I’m so lucky, you were my best friend

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Hello kids,

Well I’m on my way to The Great Escape this morning and very excited to catch Wolf Alice tonight if I can. This four piece band from North London is indie rock mixed with some folk and have been playing together since 2010. Here is their wonderful hot new single just released called Bros. The vocals are particularly brilliant and the instrumental will cause you to bounce around your seat. Plus they are on all types soon to be big lists so try tell some people about them before they get famous.

That’s about as fresh as it gets.

Song of the day: Crystal Fighters & I

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Hello musical friends,

Sorry I am slacking a bit on song of the day, will do my best to go back to my usual regularity. So I am preparing myself for a very exciting 3 days ahead. I will be attending The Great Escape in Brighton on Thursday to Saturday this week including all the convention sessions. This festival is famous for not only discovering great new talent but also a big networking and learning event. I must admit I am very excited.

Giving you a taste from the festival – I will be happy to catch English/Spanish groupo Crystal Fighters again, who I first saw in Benicasim 3 years ago as they were starting to gain traction. They are releasing their second album, Cave Run, in two weeks time. Here is the first single  You & I.

Am a little worried this is heading in a very popy direction but let’s judge the whole album on the 27th of May.