My final day started late after missing Welsh rockers The Vestals’ performance. I headed straight to the Old Ship hotel's Paganini Ballroom instead where I spent the remainder of the day. I missed the majority of France’s Archipel’s gig too but I was there long enough to know that they were positively received by those in attendance – even if the crowd were looking weary. It was obvious that this was the festival's final day with the audience resting their tired limbs by slumping to the floor as soon as Archipel exited the stage. However, the crowd still politely rose when Canadian Blue Hawaii took to the microphone to gush about their excitement to play TGE. Sadly, their enthusiasm wasn't reciprocated by all as some returned to their nap-time before the applause was even over.
Despite the sleepy atmosphere (and a few technical issues), the room was soon awoken by up-and-coming teenager Chlöe Howl. With her strong London accent and frank lyrics, it's easy to compare Howl to Lily Allen. However, with her well-crafted pop songs, she's far better than a copycat. Her imminent success doesn't signal a revival of 00s female Brit-pop, but it certainly points towards a reinvention. A new Allen for the 2k13 generation, perhaps.
After Howl's set was over, the audience were swiftly ushered away from the venue as they daytime shows came to an end. Before returning to the ballroom for its evening line-up, I enjoyed the experimental folk of Norwegian artist Farao at the Festival Hub stage and had a brief break from festival frolics to talk shop with The 1975’s Matt Healy (the full interview will be available to read here very soon).
The queue for the Paganini Ballroom’s evening showcase was impressively long and, as expected with all popular TGE performances, many were left disappointed when the venue reached its capacity. However, those who were lucky enough to squeeze in were treated to a fantastic line-up. China Rats gave the day a much-needed liven up with their rock and roll approach to indie while Young Kato delivered a burst of happiness with their alt-pop. Both acts were very impressive, but neither could compete with The 1975. ‘Chocolate’ and ‘The City’ were both greeted with mass sing-a-long reactions and not even a fight breaking out during ‘Sex’ could divert the audience’s attention from the future starson stage. Tribes played a show soon after and the music carried on through the early hours across the city, but The 1975's performance was the perfect way to end the festival.
Same again next year, anyone?
Were you at The Great Escape Festival; who was your highlight?
'Drive' is the Welsh rockers' first new release since 2011's 'In Gold Blood' (apart from their 2012 novelty Christmas song 'Secret Santa') and marks a distinct change for the band as they take on a more synth-heavy sound.
A teaser clip was posted on YouTube earlier today, but the five-piece knew their fans wanted more so quickly responded to the global demand and uploaded 'Drive' in its entirety.
You can listen to 'Drive' below. The song has already received support from fellow British rock musicians such as Young Guns, The Blackout, Deaf Havana and Blitz Kids; will you join the song's long list of fans?
News of Kids In Glass Houses' upcoming album and tour details are expected to be released next week.
What do you think of 'Drive'?
It was Day Two (Thursday) of The Great Escape Festival and, thankfully, the forecast rain was nowhere to be seen. There was no sign of the fun slowing down either as yet another wave of great new artists flooded Brighton.
My day began at Audio’s basement venue enjoying new Irish talent. Singer-songwriter Gavin James impressed with his heartfelt acoustic melodies. He expressed concern that the audience would be sent to sleep by his soothing lullabies, but his worries were unfounded as his banter kept the crowd alert. Besides, there was no real danger of anyone nodding off due to the palpable excitement for matinee headliners Kodaline who followed by blasting their indie-rock throughout the bunker. When the chorus of ‘High Hopes’ arrived, passers-by could probably hear cheers rising through the pavement. When their short show ended, the audience wanted more so it was no surprise that plenty tried to see them again when they played The Warren that evening.
Tired from the long walks of Day One, I decided to settle at the outdoor Festival Hub until the evening shows began. During my time there, I witnessed the ‘country punk’ of Wildflowers, Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ recent support act Charlie Straight, Polish dream-folkies Enchanted Hunters and Instrumenti who lived up to their odd billing as a “mix of Muse, Sigur Rós and Michael Jackson”. As the temperatures began to drop, the music became less enjoyable; although, each act was still well attended by the revellers who were too lazy to search the city in pursuit of a gig.
When the evening arrived, I headed off to the Komedia to see Bo Bruce. Spotting the queue that trailed along the backstreet, I feared a repeat of the night before’s failed attempt to see Tom Odell (I was turned away after the venue reached its legal capacity). However, I soon realised that the surrounding punters were desperate to see Deap Vally play the downstairs venue whereas I was visiting the Studio Bar. Despite some Deap Vally fans leaving disappointed, the Studio Bar was almost empty. However, once the opening act Lawrence Arabia begun, the reason became clear. With lyrical clangers such as rhyming “my toe nails need clipping” with “my nose is dripping”, it was cringe-inducing at times. His diehard fans might have enjoyed it, but it was a difficult endurance for the casual listener.
Thankfully, however, Bo Bruce’s performance rescued the night. The room had begun to fill in anticipation of The Voice UK contestant, and when she walked on to the stage in her typical ethereal manner, there were murmurs of “She looks beautiful” heard on the front row – and she sounded beautiful too. Her mix of pop sensibilities and dark emotions with an added quirky charm made Bo Bruce one of the most exciting performers on TGE’s line-up. The elitist attendees who skipped her performance due to reality TV snobbery missed out on witnessing a true star. There was far more honesty and depth seen here than in anything showcased by those hyped by indie hipsters.
Deciding who to watch after Bo Bruce was difficult. However, I opted for trying to see Kodaline again. Unsurprisingly, the queue for The Warren was once again too long and many missed their take-over of the secret venue. However, after a long wait stood outside a car park, most of us were lucky enough to gain entrance in time for Scottish teenager Nina Nesbitt’s set. Much of her material was enjoyable with her acoustic anthems complimenting the venue’s outdoor hay-bale bar. Her musical style was oddly similar to her ex-boyfriend Ed Sheeran’s, but the positive reaction she received justified the hype she’s recently received. As she asked her audience “Who’s staying out tonight?”, the crowd roared in anticipation of Iggy Azalea while I sheepishly snuck out and headed home.
I already knew that I’d need sleep to enjoy what Day Three would bring.
(Instagram photos - @amyjosnaps)
Were you at The Great Escape; what did you think of Day 2?
This weekend was my first time at The Great Escape Festival. Dubbed as Europe’s answer to SXSW, I had very high expectations. Having enjoyed affiliated free street performances and gigs in the past, I was thrilled to experience the festival as a wristband holder. With access to over 30 venues across the city and a line-up of 350 artists, TGE didn’t disappoint – despite its unpredictable nature.
Day One (Thursday), for me, begun with a street gig. I spied a band pitched up outside a restaurant spontaneously entertaining an al fresco crowd. Their music was fresh, vibrant and joyful which complimented the surprising appearance of summer weather perfectly. The six piece playing were Undiscovered Soul, a six-piece from Switzerland who had travelled to the UK to play various free gigs across the weekend. When their performance ended with a rapturous applause, I realised that this is what The Great Escape is all about.
However, there’s more to TGE than just hailing new talent. It often provides a platform for existing artists to reinvent themselves. This year, British singer V V Brown attempted to use TGE’s sister event The Alternative Escape to get back in the spotlight. Best known for her 2008-2009 pop singles ‘Crying Blood’ and ‘Shark In The Water’, Brown was determined to separate herself from her past and played only new material during her short set at The Mesmerist. Sadly, her new sound isn’t likely to see her return to the charts. The experimental electronica she performed was further doomed due to sound distortion and technical issues. With some more practice, there may be some potential but it didn’t sound promising. Of course, imperfections are what The Great Escape is all about too.
Continuing to embrace the fringe gigs, I trotted along to the outdoor Festival Hub to see We Were Evergreen and Big Wave Riders. The former would later support Everything Everything at a top-up gig at the Brighton Dome so it was a coup to see them for free, although neither proved particularly memorable with their main role being providing pleasant muzac for cider drinkers and late lunchers. However, the creation of an authentic festival vibe on a concrete inner-city plaza is also what The Great Escape is all about.
Returning to The Mesmerist, I caught the closing moments of Plant Plants’ set who, presumably, put on an astounding show judging from the short amount I witnessed and the comments I overheard. The experimental electronica of Kasket who followedwas less well attended but still provided ambience for the remaining audience. After his performance, I attempted to gain entry to The Warren – the festival’s ‘secret venue’. Despite posters dotted around Brighton, most punters get lost en route (myself included). When I’d finally found the hidden den, there were only 30 minutes before BRIT Award winner Tom Odell begun his set and there was an exceptionally long queue desperate to see the hotly hyped star. Unsurprising, I was turned away and my wait in the cold was in vain. Apparently, queuing is also what The Great Escape is all about.
Following the disappointment, I traipsed across town to see The Skints at the Komedia. The venue, which is usually a comedy club, had been transformed by hosts Urban Outfitters who added their own quirky charm to the event. Even the toilet doors had been decorated with typically off-beat yet still on-trend patterns and hand dryers and mirrors had all been adorned with kitsch stickers. The music was consistently good throughout the evening too. Dutch musician Blaudzun impressed with his second set of the day which was swiftly followed by London duo Thumpers who pumped the venue with feel good vibes minus the cringe factor. Thumpers were a tough act to follow and Is Tropical’s electronic rock (call it ‘indietronica’ if you will, Wikipedia does) struggled to compete, especially after several technical issues and a set which was forcefully cut short. However, the bill toppers The Skints truly made the night theirs. Amidst all the variants of indie, London’s leading reggae fusion band stole the show when everyone danced to the beat of their dub – even those who would never normally listen to a ska band covering Katy B. From the cheers of the crowd, it suddenly became clear that making discoveries is really what The Great Escape is all about, and Day Two brought plenty more.
Were you at The Great Escape; what did you think of Day 1?
Blitz Kids are fast becoming one of the UK's most exciting rock acts. With a new label backing the release of their second album - across both sides of the Atlantic - things look set to get very busy, very soon for the British band.
Guitarist Jono Yates took some time out from tweeting (he's nominated for 'Tweeter Of The Year' at the Kerrang! awards for the second year running) to answer some burning questions about Blitz Kids' new sound and whether they are trying to conquer the USA.
Congratulations on being the latest signing to Red Bull Records, how have you found life on your new label so far?
Cheers! A lot easier than before. They're really proactive and have us working hard all the time to be as good as we can possibly be, which is refreshing. In the past we've not had a great plan of action, but now we've mapped everything out and we're going to enjoy the ride.
You've previously spoken about not being entirely happy about your debut album 'Vagrants and Vagabonds'; why is that?
I just felt that we weren't tight with the old lineup. The parts were played scrappily and sometimes not in time. The production was poor and the whole thing was very rushed. I can't wait to show people what we've recorded this time. We feel like a real band now!
What is it that makes you more confident about your upcoming album?
It's just better in every way. I can't really explain it. You'll know when you hear it though.
There's certainly excitement surrounding your new material; how did it feel to hear your latest single 'On My Own' on daytime BBC Radio 1?
Really bizarre. I suddenly got an influx of tweets saying we were on daytime radio, so I turned it on and there we were! A lot of smaller British bands are getting a lot of airplay on Radio 1 in the day, and it's great to be a part of that movement.
You're playing several festivals this summer and have played a run of support slots this year with artists such as Lower Than Atlantis and We The Kings and will be visiting Ireland with Young Guns too, but can we expect any headline shows soon?
I hope so! We're aiming to head out at the end of the year after a couple more support tours. At this stage, we're just trying to get on every show we can possibly do to get our new material out in front of people.
You also gigged at SXSW and have recorded in Los Angeles with John Feldman, so would it be fair to say that you have your eye on 'cracking America' or are you keen to grow your home fan-base first?
I think it's important to establish a solid fan base in the UK before we go over and give the states a bash. In an ideal world, they both grow at the same time and we're touring constantly in one or the other. Our record is being released over there as well, so it'll be interesting to see what the reaction is like over there.
Thanks for your time. Finally, we're already almost half way through the year but what are you most looking forward to about the remainder of 2013?
Download Festival. We're playing on the second stage, which I never thought we'd do. It's bloody massive. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time.
Blitz Kids' new single 'On My Own' is released May 13th on Red Bull Records.
A free download of 'Warrior (Live)' and previously unreleased demo track 'Nowhere Fast' is now available via their official Facebook page.
Are you excited to hear new music from Blitz Kids?
Interview by Amy Jo McLellan.
With less than three weeks to go until Slam Dunk Festival, We Are The Ocean have announced that they will be cancelling their appearance at its Southern England date in favour of playing BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in Londonderry, Northern Ireland - but did the band make the right decision?
Unsurprisingly, the reaction from fans has been mixed. Those who had paid for a non-refundable ticket to see the Essex rockers at Slam Dunk were understandably angry. However, others congratulated the band on playing the free radio-sponsored event that is likely to see them gain extra airplay over the coming weeks.
Despite the obvious distance between Northern Ireland and England, the band are still promising to honour the remaining Slam Dunk tour dates so the Wolverhampton and Leeds dates are unaffected.
We Are The Ocean released the following statement explaining the situation and the decision they made:
"We just wanted to write something to say how sorry we are that we are unable to play this year's Slam Dunk South in Hatfield.
The Slam Dunk weekend is one of our favourites of the year, Ben Ray has always been a big supporter of ours and Hatfield has been a great venue for us whenever we've played there.
However, when something as huge as Radio 1's Big Weekend comes calling, we felt as a band we could not say no to it - Radio 1 have been massively supportive to us over the last couple of years, and we felt this was an invitation we really couldn't turn down.
To everyone at Slam Dunk North and Midlands, we will be still be representing in Leeds and Wolverhampton (with the help of some hefty overnight ferries) and we hope all WATO fans that were hoping to see us at Slam Dunk South don't hold it against us.
Once again we sincerely apologise, and hope you all have a great day in Hatfield nonetheless!
Liam, Alfie, Jack & Tom"
Slam Dunk Ltd also released a statement explaining that there will be a replacement booked and wished them "all the best".
However, are you as understanding as Slam Dunk's organisers?
Do you agree that they "couldn't turn down" Radio 1's Big Weekend, or do you think they should have honoured their previously booked festival?
Whatever your opinion is, get on your soap box and let us know in the comments section below.
Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' is undoubtedly one of this year's most contagious songs. It's crept so far into today's zeitgeist that it's already fast becoming a karaoke classic. However, it's not just us mere mortals who are up all night to get lucky as several famous folks are joining in the fun too, and so are notable YouTubers.
Here's a selection of covers fighting to win this latest war.
During a Twitter Q&A session, Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump gushed about his love for 'Get Lucky' tweeting that "If Daft Punk,
@Pharrell and @nilerodgers were a band full time, that'd be my favorite band". He went even further to prove his fandom by posting a Vine of himself singing its infectious chorus. His cover is extremely short, but is it '7 Minutes Seconds In Heaven'?
'Get Lucky' may be 2013's most danceable track so far, but Daughter have re-invented Daft Punk with their own signature whimsical style. Recorded for BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, Daughter have taken an entirely different approach and somehow turned charged up funk to an ethereal sway-along. Do you like their interpretation, or do you prefer the original?
A Man With A Flute
Spotted by Uproxx and Hypervocal, this YouTube gem features a bathrobed man playing 'Get Lucky' on his flute in his utility closet. And yes, you did read that right. The odd mise-en-scene may make things a little weird, but don't let it distract you from the beauty of one man making sweet music with his instrument.
AND THE WINNER IS: The man with his flute. [Writer's decision is final, but feel free to argue in the comments sections]
Who recorded YOUR favourite 'Get Lucky' cover?
Emerging British talent is at the core of all blogs that focus on the best of new music. Red Bull are keen supporters of new UK bands too, and have nominated 15 bands for the chance to win a slot at Download Festival this summer.
The shortlisted acts were chosen by Don Broco, Kerrang! radio's Katie P, Rock Sound editor Ben Patashnik and Red Bull Records manager Angie Somerside out of a selection of 100 fan-hyped bands. All 15 artists will record at Red Bull Records' studio in London before the selection is whittled down further to just 8 finalists who will play Download Festival.
You can listen to all of the shortlist below. Who's your favourite?
FROM: Lincoln. INFLUENCES: Reuben, Nirvana, Basement.
Surrender The Coast
FROM: Leicester. INFLUENCES: Alexisonfire, The Ghost Inside, Cancer Bats and more.
FROM: Essex. INFLUENCES: Deaf Havana, Sleeping with Sirens, Emarosa
Press To Meco
FROM: West Sussex. INFLUENCES: Biffy Clyro, Coheed and Cambria, Protest the Hero
FROM: Cambridgeshire. INFLUENCES: Basement, Mewithoutyou, Thrice
We Are Carnivores
FROM: Yorkshire. INFLUENCES: Brand New, Biffy Clyro, Lower Than Atlantis
FROM: Grampian. INFLUENCES: Karnivool, Incubus, Dream Theater and many more.
Falling With Style
FROM: Monmouthshire. INFLUENCES: Alexisonfire, Funeral For A Friend, Thrice
I'll Stay In Memphis
FROM: Machester. INFLUENCES: The Color Morale, Architects, Underoath
FROM: Aberdeen. INFLUENCES: Metallica, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and more.
We Caught The Castle
FROM: Reading. INFLUENCES: Funeral For A Friend, The Recieving End Of Sirens, We Are The Ocean
Forever Can Wait
FROM: Southampton. INFLUENCES: Fifa (apparently)
FROM: Nottinghamshire. INFLUENCES: Taking Back Sunday, Kids In Glass Houses, You Me At Six
FROM: West Midlands. INFLUENCES: Biffy Clyro, Alter Bridge, Coheed And Cambria
Sky Valley Mistress
FROM: Lancashire. INFLUENCES: QOTSA, Kyuss, Led Zeppelin and more.
Who's your favourite?
Music reviews matter. Or at least, I hope they do. However, when albums are streamed weeks before release, many claim that they don’t – but argument is lazy. Laziness itself is why the art of reviewing is suffering.
We live in an increasingly impatient world that demands instant gratification. Some people shy away from reviews because, if well written, they take time to fully enjoy and ponder over. Reading a review takes more effort than acknowledging a recommendation sent with an emoji. However, restricting reviews to 140 characters would be like limiting songs to their iTunes previews. If we have time to take photos of our food, we’re not too busy to appreciate reviews.
The internet has robbed us of our patience, but it’s also given us the gift of accessibility. We can read critical opinions from all over the world in the palm of our hands. That IS exciting. When we can access so much material freely, it would be criminal to not take advantage of it. The freedom of the internet may have led to some poorly written articles and an overload of regurgitated PR fodder, but it’s also given a voice to those muted in magazines.
We, as music listeners, can seek out varying opinions on any band we like and stumble upon reviews of new artists we’ve never heard. The latter actually benefits from our incessant need for immediacy because we can start listening before we’ve even finished reading. If we like what we hear, we share our finding instantly via social media. Another friend soon takes notice before suggesting the artist to another who may convert another series of fans. Those further along the chain boldly claim that “Reviews don’t matter” unaware that they’ve been influenced, albeit indirectly The likes of HAIM and The 1975 joined Radio 1 A-List thanks to being ‘hotly hyped’ – that hype was largely word-of-mouth but it undoubtedly snowballed from blogs.
Despite the vast amount of publications available to us, many continue to disregard reviews whenever they disagree with them – but they’re missing the point, and the fun. Reviews are for music fans to get political. They offer opinions, not the definitive truth. Reviews do not have to be accepted; they can be argued with, but they should still be appreciated. Journalists, critics and bloggers won’t stop writing reviews anytime soon, but it’ll be a sad shame if people stop reading them.
Writing about music is, as the saying goes, like dancing about architecture. Some say that it is pointless, pretentious and nonsensical but if you’re patient and open-minded, you might learn to love the ballerinas who evoke skyscrapers.
Do you still read music reviews?
The Great Escape Festival has announced its final run of acts for 2013. Europe's answer to SXSW will see 350+ bands take over 30 venues across the seaside city of Brighton, UK. If you want to get familiar with some of the artists playing -for free! - before May 16th, here's free downloads from some of the festival's latest announcements.
Mikill Pane's name is mispronounced almost as often he collaborates with Ed Sheeran. Last year, MIKE-ill Pane (that's [Mayhk-il-peyn], sounds like Michael Pain but with emphasis on ILL) gave away a free EP with guest features from Example, Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran (surprise, surprise) and, uhm, Katie Price. It sounds like a bad joke but if you missed out last year, you'll be glad to know the download link is still live.
Visit Mikill Pane's Facebook page to download the 'You Guest It' EP.
Winner of much coveted 'Song of the Year' prize at the Meteor Choice Awards 2013, Gavin James is one of Ireland's most hotly hyped Irish artists. He's not known for star-studded collaborations but has toured with a plethora of highly respected performers, including Lianne La Havas, Beth Orton and, most recently, Kodaline. The free download that's currently being offered is a perfect introduction to the world of Gavin James.
You can download 'Carolina' following the links below.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Luuk Graham insists that his pseudonym translates to "Philosophical Science" even though it sounds like Filet-O-Fish to ignorant English ears. His music, however, might translate a little better. XLR8R are fans and are promoting a free download of 'Light Years Away' via their website and SoundCloud.
You can download 'Light Years away' via XLR8R.
Are you looking forward to The Great Escape Festival?