SINGLE REVIEW: Foals – What Went Down

Originally posted on Noise Cannon as part of the Noise of the Week feature: http://noisecannon.com/2015/06/21/noise-of-the-week-150615/

Foals have returned to the limelight, teasing us listeners before chucking something entirely satisfying our way. This track got me going “yes yes yes!” for all its raw energy, fluctuating melodies and kicking rhythms that keep you on the ground, yet ominous tones imply that there’s more to come.

Foals have embraced a variety of guitar styles in one song, and Yannis Philippakis’ occasional repression from lyrical pronunciation adds a rich, dramatic tone. The heavy rhythms are somewhat set free in an array of sparkling harmonies that tempt the mind out of reality, before Philippakis’ voice brings you back to focus as the previous rhythms return, enforcing just how strong they are. This track merely hints at what the band have been working on since Holy Fire and there’s no straightforward answer for what is to come from Foals in the upcoming months – and that’s just how we like it.

Words by Samantha Fisher

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Jamie xx – Stranger in a Room

Originally posted on Noise Cannon as part of the Noise of the Week feature: http://noisecannon.com/2015/06/07/noise-of-the-week-010615/

There’s not a lot to this track but maybe that’s one of the great things about it. Among the house beats and rave vibes of Jamie xx’s recently released debut LP In Colour, ‘Stranger in a Room’ is a soothing trance of melodies, with Oliver Sims’ vocals reminding us of The xx, much like Romy’s contribution to single ‘Loud Places’. Nevertheless, those rave ideologies are still present in the lyrics, depending on how you want to read it – essentially this song can be stripped down to your own meaning and make of it as you will, it’s a simple yet well placed track that contributes to a well rounded album from Jamie xx.

 

LIVE REVIEW: Common People (Sunday)

Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/06/01/common-people-part-two-240515/

day2_atmos_area_initial-2334It’s the second and final day of Common People and the magic is still going. There seems to be a greater range of artists on today’s line up and subsequently there are many different kinds of people walking around. Seeing a range of characters all revelling in the same joy is a sense of magic in itself and we haven’t even taken into account the music yet.

The weather is a little cooler but the acts are still shit hot – there’s only so much we can say about a DJ set but you can bet the entirety of the Big Top tent are eating out the palm of Rob Da Bank’s hands, as if praising their King. Let’s face it, if he could rule a world like he could rule Common People, people would be falling at his feet at every opportunity. Most memorable however, is the wonderfully astounding Grace Jones, pushing boundaries left, right, and center, not just stealing the show but outright owning it.

FEVER

This four piece are like ’90s indie grunge shaken up with some finely tuned attitude, and though frontman Connor Smith comes on complaining of a hangover, their performance is full throttle energy. “Let’s ‘ave it, let’s ‘ave it,” Smith shouts to the crowd, and sure enough, they give it, and the crowd has it. They are the epitome of those who partied hard at Common People on Saturday but are still raring to go on Sunday, filling the Uncommon Stage with gut wrenching vocals and penetrating rhythms.

THE CUBAN BROTHERS

cuban brothers common peopleWow. There’s funk, there’s soul, but more than anything The Cuban Brothers certainly entertain. Phallic references and sexism are sugar coated in the undeniable charisma of lead Brother, Miguel Mantovani, who revels in showing off to the crowd and poking fun at the parents of young ones, raising an eyebrow at his inappropriate (yet highly entertaining) behaviour. It’s not all about Mantovani however, his group today is completed with three dancers, the youngest of which he refers to as ‘One Erection’ and is definitely a favourite among the females, young and old alike. Their dancing is off the wall, and they make sure all eyes are on them. It’s something a little different to your average band performing their songs, and as Mantovani strips down to just his underwear, exclaiming he has three testicles, their performance draws to an end, leaving you with the haunting image of his junk ferociously shaking around.

SLAVES

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In most bands, the drummer can often take the back seat, but not for two-piece Slaves. These two are in it together and you can forget taking a seat at all as drummer Isaac Holman remains standing while offering the most interaction with the crowd. Holman and guitarist Laurie Vincent come rough, raw, and ready, yelling at the crowd and generally making a bit of a racket as they bounce off each others’ humour on stage. Nevermind ‘Feed The Mantaray’, Slaves feed the crowd as a friend of theirs runs on stage dressed as a manta ray before throwing himself at the people. It’s a fun-filled set and even Holman can’t help but laugh as Vincent humorously whimpers lyrics from ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’. Tipped to be one of the best new bands to come out of 2015, these guys are powerful with the crowd at their feet, yet they still manage to come across relatable, as if they’re two guys you’ve bumped into at your local pub.

YEARS AND YEARS


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It’s time for some pop, and sure enough, Years and Years serve it with a side of indie and house that sets them apart from your average pop group. They are well in their element and take their first ever main stage slot firmly in their stride. Frontman Olly Alexander not only expresses the music through vocals, but also the twisting and turning of his body, as if his favourite song has just come on in the club.

It’s clear from here that Alexander, along with his bandmates, is fully invested in their music and they aren’t afraid to show how much they enjoy it themselves. Mid set he sits down at a keyboard to slow down to something calmer, yet there still remains peppy spirits through little snippets of electronica. They might be pint-sized musicians but their music is huge, filling Southampton Common with dynamic melodies and vocals that hit impressive pitches.

BAND OF SKULLS

band of skulls common peopleProbably one of the biggest bands on the bill to have come out of Southampton, Band of Skulls truly bring it home, entering the stage while guitarist Russell Marsden strums along to ‘All The Saints’ in homage to the city’s football team. This then transitions into ‘Hoochie Coochie’ with riffs, basslines, and drumbeats all being ridden hard. Band of Skulls command the stage as they perform some of their biggest songs with a difference. Their set is deep and rich, with the simplicity of slower moments in ‘Sweet Sour’ creating a whole new sultry sound, proving this band to be adaptable and forever growing.

Band of Skulls may offer a huge, dominating sound across the Common but they have not forgotten their roots; Marsden gives a shout out to all the venues in Southampton who have helped them to get where they are today, and the local pride is blooming. Much like they opened with a reference to the football team, drummer Matt Hayward dons his Saints shirt for an extended version of final song ‘Death by Diamonds and Pearls’, closing the set on a high.

CLEAN BANDIT

clean bandit common peopleHaving played at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Norwich on the same day, there’s some concern that Clean Bandit might not make it. Nevertheless, they light up the stage with an abundance of vitality. The group kick up a party on stage that channels through the crowd via soaring vocals and the striking elegance of the violin, with each member shining in their own way. Standout songs are ‘Real Love’ and ‘Rather Be’, putting the crowd into full on sing-a-long mode as the band perform with glee and great showmanship. Like Years and Years, they find themselves dancing to their own music, not in a choreographed way but more like ‘Hell yeah we did well with this one’. They are not big-headed mind, just clearly in tune with their own sound, their passion for music and performing shining through the entire set.

GRACE JONES

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day2_gracejones_mainstage_VF-3087What. A. Woman. Recently turned 67, Miss Grace Jones parties harder than anyone else over the weekend. She comes out on stage decked out in what seems to be a cat suit from a distance, but get closer and it becomes apparent she’s barely dressed – she’s wearing a corset and thong with a white pattern painted all over her nude body. She stands on a podium, fully in control of the crowd as she croons deeply and seductively.

For the next song Jones dons a cape and steps up towards a higher podium, fully dominating the entire Common. Her ensuing diva moments are wholly acceptable, even to the point where she’s demanding a drink, “or a spliff, shall I say a spliff would be better.” Though she may not have been granted her herbal narcotics, her cries of “Can I have a glass of wine baby please?” are answered as she kicks off a little romantic number, looking gorgeous with said glass of wine in hand.

Jones is not only versatile but timeless, going from dancing in a grass skirt with a male pole dancer, to wearing a big white head piece with a pony tail and being carried directly in front of the crowd. It is also apparent she has more than one cape in her array of costume changes and even as she falls over, she’s truly amazing.

Regardless of her music being to your taste, she’s an incredible woman to watch and a particular favourite costume change is the disco ball hat. She looks ready to party, to be the centre of attention, and the sight of all the lights reflecting off her head just elevates her status further. Then, as she closes the set with ‘Slave to the Rhythm’, Jones astounds us all with the power of a hula-hoop, maintaining the motion throughout the whole track, as she sings her heart out and moves across the stage. The word impressive just doesn’t cut it.

LIVE REVIEW: Common People Festival – Southampton (Saturday)

Originally posted on Noise Cannon (joint piece with another journo): http://noisecannon.com/2015/05/31/common-people-festival-review-2015-part-one/

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Upon entering Southampton’s Common, a place usually reserved for strolls in the sun or a run in the park, we feel as if we’ve been transported into another world entirely. The sun is shining, there are colourful flags decorating the skyline and an abundance of different foods, and fashion and activity stalls are scattered among the different stages.

Festival fever has hit Southampton in the form of (the first ever) Common People, which offers a taste of the Bestival spirit from curator Rob Da Bank. The Common opens itself up to musicians and DJs from around the world, and from local bands to legends, Southampton is in for a very special bank holiday weekend. It’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s really bloody entertaining, and we can’t wait for the next one. Here’s our lowdown of the very first day of the very first Common People that has left us hungry for more…

BEL ESPRIT

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Earning a slot on the Uncommon Stage through a Battle of the Bands competition was one victory, proving themselves on the day was another. Bel Esprit’s astounding surges of energy in all the right places contribute to a set in which each song out does the previous, and they certainly don’t do things by halves. Blending the modern indie sound with elements of classic rock, they serve the audience with an edge of confidence and a sense of togetherness as their energy bounces off each other.

GEORGE THE POET

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Now this is a guy who can transition smoothly from the deep and meaningful to a fun-filled attitude. George the Poet flows delicately between rapping, talking to the crowd, and performing spoken word pieces. One minute he’s preaching about the government and education, the next he’s spitting out a cliché love song. George the Poet is a difficult man to figure out, with some people dancing and others simply listening intently, he keeps us on our toes. Though not always necessarily family friendly, he caters for the majority of people there, at least if only for one song at a time.

WILD SMILES

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Coming on rather unassumingly, there’s no telling on what these guys are about to do on stage. However, as the first chord strikes there’s attitude and angst and whole lot of energy to come. The music is both loud and on point, dominating the small tent and drawing people in for more than just some booze from the bar. Frontman Chris Peden seems to have a thing for wearing his guitar as a hat between songs as he stares out into the crowd, checking up on the mosh pit in the middle, watching people go crazy to his band’s very own songs. A broken string later and the energy is still going thick and fast, with intensified vocals wrenched from Peden’s very soul keeping spirits alive as the first day of the festival approaches the evening

JAWS

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Closing the Uncommon Stage with some dreamy indie melodies, Jaws serve as a relaxing break from the crowd across the field who are in eat, sleep, rave, repeat mode with Fat Boy Slim. It’s more of an intimate end to the Saturday night with their warming performance of a sound that sits somewhere between The Cure and The Drums – bringing the old with the new. Technical issues are forgiven as the rest of their music sways through the tent, emitting a glow of delicate energy with a powerful undertone. Nothing stands out as significantly memorable, nevertheless, Jaws’ set is tight, lovingly soothing, and mesmerising, spreading warmth through the tent.

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Don Broco – Automatic

Originally posted on Noise Cannon as part of the Noise of the Week feature: http://noisecannon.com/2015/05/24/noise-of-the-week-180515/

It was clear from the release of ‘You Wanna Know’ in 2013 that the Don Broco lads may delve a little more into the realms of pop, and latest single ‘Automatic’ plunges headfirst with a catchy pop melody, this time infused with a funky little rhythm too. Never fear though, despite a Wham!-tastic video (c’mon, the white suits and that pool scene…) their unique charm still remains through the distinct vocals of Rob Damiani and that kicky Broco beat. They have definitely moved on from the days of ‘Thug Workout’, (which is still brilliant in its own way) and with increasing coverage on the likes of Made in Chelsea you might be quick to jump to accusations of selling out. Yet the more you listen to this track the more defying that surge of rock energy is, and Don Broco have proved themselves ready to conquer.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Young Kato – Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow

Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/05/02/young-kato-dont-wait-til-tomorrow/
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They proved that they can bring a party to a live audience but how do Young Kato fare on the album front? Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow is the band’s debut full-length and with support from BBC Radio 1 and XFM they hold a lot of promise for which this album has to deliver.

The overall dynamic of Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow presents it as a party album, laden with erratic beats and melodies, and heavy focus on the synthesiser. While there’s a lot going on in opening track ‘Sunshine’, it’s not too much to take, instead it instigates energy, immediately setting the tone of the songs to come. Particularly memorable and catchy is ‘Drink, Dance, Play’ – if the previous track didn’t get you on your feet this one will, and you’ll be chanting “We drink, and we dance, and we dance, and we play” over and over. It’s energetic but concise, relying on a handful of strengths rather than churning everything they’ve got all at once.

There are slight variations among the tracks but it might take a few heavy listening sessions to fully appreciate them, nevertheless it’s a bloody fun album. ‘Children of the Stars’, to be released alongside the album, is probably the most notably different, having been inspired by Australian electro pop. It might just be the connotation of Australia with sunny weather but it certainly expresses a bright summer energy and reflects the album’s tone with lyrics “no, no, no, life’s not long enough, live fast, die young, don’t give a fuck”.

Some elements of the album fully embrace pop along with the indie, but there are also moments within this that build more of a brooding atmosphere, particularly in ‘Lights’. Still, even in the mellow harmonies there’s an upbeat melody buzzing around and maintaining that party feel, keeping us stimulated toward the album’s midpoint. An intensified focus on guitar carries a different tone that was heard earlier on in ‘Remedy’, in which the sudden focus on guitar at the end leaves you hitting repeat to experience it once again in all its glory.

On this album Young Kato have fun, drench us in good feelings and pour their heart out (especially in ‘Yes’, seriously, it’s dead romantic). It might not be a sit-down-and-listen album but if you’re not moving to this then you’re doing it wrong. Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow is a perfect companion to any party, big or small, even those private dance sessions in the bedroom you don’t tell anyone about.

SINGLE REVIEW: Bel Esprit – Island

Originally posted on Noise Cannon, as part of the Noise of the Week feature: http://noisecannon.com/2015/04/19/noise-of-the-week-130415/

Rising up out of Southampton are indie four piece Bel Esprit and boy are they a hidden gem of the city. With debut EP Lose My Mind coming up, ‘Island’ is a great track to let you know what these guys have in store. A light drum beat and looming bass line open the track with a mysterious air. Deep vocals sooth while the energising guitar keeps your feet-a-tapping. They’ve got the sound that everyone is loving right now, but along with their own little spark it’s so much more than being in the right place at the right time. ‘Island’ is deeply rich and enticing, with a steady rhythm that builds to a memorable scorching guitar solo, lending the song an extra kick.