New Music – The Vanity Project, Leo C, Gulls

New releases – The Vanity Project / Leo C / Gulls

The Vanity Project: Centaur

With something of the theatrics and art-pop of the 80s’ Blitz Kids about them, The Vanity Project are as known for their decadent stage performances as their music. Perhaps no surprise then that the Manchester based duo (Flora Jackson and Rob Paterson) met in the theatre but this doesn’t detract from the multi-layered eloquence of their songs. Debut single Centaur is a reflection of their modern day surroundings, described by the band as having ‘a Greco-Roman lens but focused on animosity in the Internet Era, from video game enemies to alt-right trolls.’ With loop pedals aplenty and an electronic undercurrent, it offers an alternative view on the wonders of technology in a sometimes dystopian world. It will be interesting to see where The Vanity Project go next. For now, Centaur is out on Eve of Creation Records.

The Vanity Project    Listen to Centaur

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Leo C: Nothing Nothing 

Amidst a big resurgence in folk music, Leo C puts his own twist on the traditional with new single Nothing Nothing. Hailing from Southend, the singer-songwriter has been busy playing on the local scene and recording the track at Side-On Recordings in nearby Rayleigh. Leo adds this song to a growing catalogue of work addressing contemporary issues against a chilled folk rock backdrop; a congenial way to ease you into the day.

Leo C    Listen to Nothing Nothing

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Gulls: Shop

Never has there been a more vociferous defence against the closure of libraries. Make no mistake that Gulls have something to say and they’d like you all to sit up and pay attention please. The Brighton punk poets’ latest release Shop rails against cuts to community services as shopping centre consumerism threatens to eat up local individuality and identity. Think Lydia Lunch meets Slaves for a face off; a protest song for the new generation – all we are saying is give libraries a chance.

Gulls    Listen to Shop

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Words by Siobhan

1st May 2019

Photography – In Focus with Joe McKillop

Giving us a glimpse into his life and surroundings, photographer Joe McKillop’s evocative pictures show pride and affection for his heritage, family and environment. Here, he takes us through some of his favourite shots and the stories behind them…

‘My name is Joe McKillop, I’m an amateur photographer from a small town in the west of Scotland called Port Glasgow. I started taking pictures using my mobile phone documenting my son’s football games when he was younger and I then found myself taking odd pictures here and there while walking the dog – it was then I discovered an enjoyment for landscape and street photography.

I try to keep my homelands as centre focus for the majority of my work. My local city is often discounted as ‘rough’ and somewhere you’d rather drive through quickly but with my photos I like to challenge these assumptions and show that there is beauty and personality within this wee town. Also in the collection are some snaps from holidays and neighbouring cities.’

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To most folk this picture doesn’t say much but it is important to me as it reminds me of my roots. This was where I grew up, definitely not one of the posher areas of the Port. While it wasn’t perfect, it gave me warm memories of my family and childhood friends.

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I took this photo at night. During the day it just looks like your average tunnel but at night, with the lights on illuminating the graffiti, I felt it gave off more of an urban vibe. Still, I felt it needed something extra – so I set up the timer and put myself into the shot.

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This was taken outside a sports shop in Glasgow whilst out doing some street photography. The boldness of the sign struck me and I liked how it stood out.

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This is another street shot in Glasgow, the focus is on the lady’s coat. I had a lot of fun with the editing process of this one darkening the background and highlighting the redness of the coat.

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This is one of my favourite shots as I love the hustle and bustle shown which is typical of Glasgow city centre. Also the light of the sun reflecting down gives a good contrast to the silhouettes below.

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This was taken on our first family holiday with my grandson. I just liked the way the red sofa contrasted against his blue onesie and, to be honest, he is quite a poser. For anyone wondering, the reindeer toy was his favourite, it was singing the same song over and over… conveniently that toy was left behind.

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Again, this is from our family holiday. I just spotted this as a good shot as I saw how the light hit my son’s tattoo while he was reading. One of my better candid shots.

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This was taken from the top of Conic Hill in Loch Lomond. Walking has become another hobby of mine and it assists me well in capturing scenic shots like this. When people talk of Scotland, this is what I imagine they picture.

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I took this on a snowy, misty morning up the back roads of Port Glasgow. It was the way the mist hid the buildings at the end of the road that caught my eye; I thought it would make an eerie shot with the icy road seemingly leading to nowhere.

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This was a long exposure shot taken by the light house in Port Glasgow. I was quite pleased how this turned out – I had many friends and family comment on how they liked how the brightness of the light stood out and shone over the Clyde.

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This was taken on a family Holiday in Salou at the theme park Portaventura. It was the wettest, bleakest day of the holiday but the dark clouds made for a good atmospheric photo. Something about a rollercoaster about to tip over the edge added to the excitement of the clouds forming a storm in the background.

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This was a street shot down in Greenock. It was the old red door that initially stood out for me, I waited for the right time for someone to walk into shot to snap the photo. I particularly enjoyed playing around with the colours in this photo; matching moody black and whites with the vibrant red.

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This is another long exposure picture taken on the edge of the River Clyde. Not much to look at in the day time; however the street lights hitting off the water at night make this little part of the river look quite beautiful.

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This was in the windy waters of Lanzarote. My wife and I were on the beach watching the water sports and I started taking shots of the windsurfers. This was one of my favourites. I love the look of the choppy sea and the determination of the windsurfer to stay upright.

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I chose this as my final shot as I identified strongly with the symbolism behind it. The boy in the photo is my grandson. Having a baby in the family again reminded me once again how much children depend on us adults to make sense of the world for them. The picture of the child in my hand was to represent how our kids sometimes need us to give them a help up in the world now and then.

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All photos and words © Joe McKillop. If you would like to see more of Joe’s work and follow his posts, you can find him on Instagram.

29th April 2019

 

Live – Suede + BC Camplight at Brighton Dome

Suede / BC Camplight, Brighton Dome, 23rd April 2019

Suede… the story behind the band’s rise, fall and emphatic comeback has been told many times. Still, there’s an intrigue as to what they might do next. With latest album The Blue Hour released last year and a huge tour underway, one thing’s for sure – Suede are far from done yet.

Opening support on this tour has largely come from the much lauded BC Camplight. The man behind the tunes and the piano is US born singer-songwriter Brian Christinzio; his tale of starting a new life in the UK, gaining a record deal then being deported before winning back his right to live here sounds like a fine set of lyrical fantasy but in this case is all true. Having had to pull a couple of dates through illness, it was good to see him back and well, providing an eclectic start to the evening with tracks from his latest album Deportation Blues.

The anticipation for Suede’s arrival on stage is met with a suitably atmospheric outpouring of smoke and dramatic lighting, from which the band emerge to the strains of haunting new track As One. The capacity crowd, many of whom have been there since doors, are rewarded with an ample dosage of songs spanning an incredible 30 years. It’s not long before some older material surfaces in the set – We Are The Pigs and So Young reminders that there is a back catalogue here worthy of its place in the music history books. As a frontman, Brett Anderson appears to have fallen into Neverland as his endless energy and off stage excursions seem no less enthusiastic then they ever were.

Anderson gives a thank you to the crowd, rightly noting that without a great crowd it’s hard to have a great gig. And the respect is clearly mutual; there are moments where he talks to the audience or during stripped back songs (Everything Will Flow / Europe Is Our Playground) that you could hear a pin drop, no background chat, no need, still it’s a welcome change to the annoying conversational hum that often accompanies performers. But then Suede have never been your average band. Oddly labelled with the Britpop tag in the early days, their refusal to conform has seen them become something of an institution on their own terms, an institution that puts on a show to be remembered as it turns out.  After a quick break, the band return to finish the evening with a huge singalong to The Beautiful Ones followed by closing track Life Is Golden, a track that Anderson says he wrote for his son but which it is likely everyone there is happy to take as a message for themselves. From the start, Suede were something a bit different, something a bit special. Turns out they still are.

Click here for remaining tour dates and all things Suede related

More from BC Camplight here

Words and photos by Siobhan

25th April 2019

Instore – Fontaines DC at Rough Trade East

Fontaines DC, Rough Trade East London, 17th April 2019

The last year has seen Fontaines DC morph into the band that everyone’s talking about. Promoters are selling out live dates months in advance and desperately seeking venue upgrades; the Dublin five piece have already been announced as one of the headliners for Rockaway Beach Festival in 2020 – some achievement this early in their career (by way of comparison, 2019’s headliners were Maxïmo Park, Gary Numan and Echo and the Bunnymen).

Inaugural album Dogrel was released into the world a week ago; a sharp and unrelenting reflection of the times we live in – an upward nod to the poets of the past, an incredulous sneer at the capitalists of the present. Fontaines DC will be a heavy presence on the touring scene throughout 2020 and come into their own in a live setting. If you can find a date that hasn’t sold out yet, grab a ticket while you still can. 

Gallery from their packed instore at London’s Rough Trade East this week below…

Keep up with the latest news from Fontaines DC
Dogrel is available now on Partisan Records – watch the video for Big here

Words and photos by Siobhan

19th April 2019

Live – Tugboat Captain + Ciel + Probably Oslo + Bebe at The Green Door Store

Tugboat Captain / Ciel / Probably Oslo / Bébe, The Green Door Store Brighton, 10th April 2019

What to do on a cold Wednesday night by the sea? This week at least, the answer was pretty simple. Bringing optimistic melodies and a bassoon of impressive proportions, Tugboat Captain arrived in town taking their DIY tour to top local DIY venue, The Green Door Store. Headlining a four act line up, the multi vocals and instruments spread across the band brought a refreshing dose of charm and catchy tunes to the floor.

First on, Brighton’s Bébe offered up gentle pop refrains and managed to squeeze all seven members onto the stage, pulling in a good crowd.

Next up, Probably Oslo quickly pulled everyone back in from the bar, upping the tempo with a set full of indie tunes and chats with the audience.

The penultimate act, Ciel, gave a beautiful performance with the purest vocals from Dutch artist Michelle Hindricks. Bringing to mind the likes of Cocteau Twins and Slowdive, definitely a band to look out for.

And so to Tugboat Captain. With a great turnout for a midweek gig, they seemed completely at ease and in sync with each other and the crowd, latest single Be Strong, Smoke Less proving both popular and a fine opportunity for high kicks. An early broken bass string could have been the spanner in the works but Nat from Probably Oslo came to the rescue with a substitute and, in time honoured fashion, the show went on. It’s clear to see that Tugboat Captain’s hard work is paying off – a great night with a lovely atmosphere. If you’re quick there’s still time to see them at The Smokehouse in Ipswich tonight and The Victoria in London tomorrow.

Links to all bands here:
Tugboat Captain    Ciel    Probably Oslo   Bebe

Words and photos by Siobhan

12th April 2019

 

Live – The Slow Readers Club + BRIDGES + Greenness at The Haunt

The Slow Readers Club / BRIDGES / Greenness, The Haunt Brighton, 9th April 2019

With 3 albums under their belt and an ever growing following, it’s surprising that this is The Slow Readers Club’s first year as a full time band. They’re certainly making the most of their new situation, currently working their way through a massive 48 day tour, arriving last night at The Haunt in Brighton.

Opening set from Brighton based duo Greenness offered a welcome antidote to the wind and rain outside, hypnotic electro acoustic tunes creating a relaxed atmosphere with a whiff of Massive Attack / The Sugarcubes. Check out their new EP Cyclicity for more.

Next on and upping the indie guitar quota, BRIDGES have been filling the support slot for the last week and look to have picked up some new fans who clearly recognised their material. A well fitting choice whose energy and humour set things up nicely for the main event. Latest single Amor is out now.

And so, as the strobe lights kick in to the sound of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love under The Haunt’s huge glitterball, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d turned up on 70s’ disco night. However, as the members of The Slow Readers Club take to the stage things come crashing up to date with the writhing pulse of Lunatic, an instant crowd pleaser. Next up is Lives Never Known – reminiscent of John Foxx’s Europe After the Rain, it continues a steady stream of singles and album tracks spanning The Readers’ career so far.

The band are a long way from their home town of Manchester but it doesn’t seem to matter where they play, they take an army of loyal fans with them. Having seen them play festivals at both ends of the country in Glasgow and Portsmouth, I can attest to the fact that the chants of ‘READERS! READERS!’ never dim wherever they are. There are people in the crowd who are following them around on as many dates as they possibly can, seeing their favourite band and catching up with friends old and new at the same time.

As the songs continue through the popular Supernatural, Start Again and Lost Boys to closing track On The TV, there is no let up in enthusiasm and the crowd respond in kind. It’s a clever juxtaposition created between hard hitting lyrics and ridiculously catchy riffs that make this a band to take notice of. The Slow Readers Club have always sounded like they were made to fill arenas and have a fan base dedicated enough to make sure they don’t regret that decision to make this their full time career. Catch them while you can.

Check out Greenness and BRIDGES and get the latest news on releases and live dates from The Slow Readers Club

Word and photos by Siobhan

Preview – Portsmouth Psych Fest

Portsmouth Psych Fest, 4th May 2019

Only a month away, Portsmouth Psych Fest returns to The Wedgewood Rooms for its third outing on 4th May. From the outset the festival has been steadfast in booking some very special line-ups, with previous years featuring Bo Ningen, The Wytches, Hotel Lux and Black Midi amongst a long list of other established and breakthrough acts.

Spread across two stages, 2019’s headliners are Yak, who will be joined by a host of local and international artists making up an event not to be missed. The best recommendation would be to see everyone on the bill. Here is our pick of just a few artists to look out for on the day…

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Sleep Eaters

It’s time to discover that you need country garage in your life. The South London five piece won over new fans with their live performances supporting Drahla last year and head back out on the road with them in May.

Sleep Eaters    Listen here

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The Howlers

Dark garage rock of the finest calibre, The Howlers are unsurprisingly sparking the interest of the music media. Now signed to These Bloody Thieves, look out for new music soon.

The Howlers    Listen here

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Los Bitchos

Fresh from supporting Bill Ryder-Jones, Los Bitchos will be showcasing their hybrid of Peruvian instrumental Cumbia influenced garage psych. Bring your dancing shoes.

Los Bitchos    Listen here

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Drusila

Keep those dancing shoes on for Drusila. Full of energy and explosive synths, the Portsmouth locals are fast making a name for themselves, bringing electronica bang up to date.

Drusila    Listen here

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Snapped Ankles

If you prefer your music delivered by woodland tree creatures then Snapped Ankles are here for you. With their new album Stunning Luxury described by The Line Of Best Fit as ‘music to soundtrack the apocalypse’, make sure you catch them and hope, for their sake, that it’s not too hot.

Snapped Ankles    Listen here

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Portsmouth Psych Fest takes place on 4th May; remaining tickets are available now from just £17 – don’t miss out

Words and photos by Siobhan

4th April 2019

New Music – False Heads, Come at the King, Club Paradise

New releases – False Heads / Come at the King / Club Paradise 

False Heads: Slease

It’s been impossible to ignore the love for False Heads on social media and, if you haven’t caught them yet, new single Slease will give you a good idea why. With pure, hard-hitting punk tones reminiscent of The Adverts and early Wire, the track is a great mix of accessible aggression with indie guitar and heavy bass. Endorsed by the godfather of punk himself, Iggy Pop, East London’s False Heads are gaining a strong live reputation and are definitely ones to watch.

Band photo © Holly Benson-Tams

Watch the video for Slease here and check out more from False Heads

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Come at the King: Shudder

Another three piece from London, Come at the King have released crowd favourite Shudder as their second single. Incorporating an undertone of bluesy riffs into their brand of indie rock, the track builds gradually to a crescendo, a fusion of traditional American style rock ‘n’ roll delivered with a British edge. Working hard on the live circuit, the band are starting to headline and fill bigger venues – look out for a date near you.

Listen to Shudder here and follow Come at The King for future releases 

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Club Paradise: Kirby Keger

If indie synth pop is more your thing then Club Paradise’s latest offering may be right up your street. The Newcastle based band’s new single Kirby Keger would sit happily alongside the likes of Aztec Camera’s Somewhere in my Heart and brings 80s’ nostalgia to the table in sound and subject matter (Kirby Keger is the main character in Brat Pack staple St Elmo’s Fire). It’s an accomplished track for a young band who sound like they know exactly where they want to go.

You can listen to Kirby Keger here and keep up with the latest news from Club Paradise 

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Words by Siobhan
Photos reproduced with permission

3rd April 2019

 

Live – IDLES + Crows at Brighton Dome

IDLES / Crows, Brighton Dome, 29th March 2019

Some years ago, with a bit of time to kill at a festival, I wandered into a marquee to see what was going on. Even pre-IDLES’ mania, the band clearly had a strong following. Joe gave a shout out to ‘our bassist who can’t be here tonight’ and the crowd started chanting ‘Dev! Dev! Dev!’ It was loud, chaotic, late in the day and, not knowing who they were or any of their names, I thought they were yelling ‘Dead! Dead! Dead!’ A bit taken aback that this seemed like a shout of joy, I wondered what I’d stumbled into. It turned out that joyful shouting was pretty appropriate as things became clearer and I came out at the end with a chance encounter having turned into a festival highlight.

Fast forward to March 2017 and an army of people trying to find tickets for their sold out show at 100 capacity venue The Albert in Brighton, coinciding with but presumably booked way before the release of Brutalism. A night to remember, new fans picked up along the way and the start of widespread acclaim for the five piece now described by The Guardian as ‘Britain’s most necessary band’. It’s to their credit and fits with their ethics that their sold out show at Brighton Dome was booked with the same promoter and drew the same crowd (just with about 1700 of their friends joining in this time).

Opening up on the night, Crows made their second trip to Brighton in a week. Giving a formidable performance as always, their songs filled with brooding darkness had the crowd onside straight away. The support slots on this tour will doubtless open them up to a new audience and, with their long awaited debut album Silver Tongues picking up positive reviews and plaudits, perhaps it’s finally time for Crows to get the wider recognition they deserve.

With the instantly recognisable percussion and bass of Colossus filling the room, IDLES took to the stage to a huge welcome roar. If anyone had concerns that the band couldn’t scale up the usual chaos and interaction of their shows they would have been kicked straight into touch. The larger venue served only to magnify what’s gone before; a wider stage for Joe to pace, longer guitar leads to allow the forays into the crowd to go further, a bigger crowd to surf. Second up, Well Done lightened the mood and had the Dome jumping and singing along in full voice.

With no let up in pace and energy from the band or the crowd, we were treated to tracks old and new; Mother, Never Fight a Man with a Perm, Exeter and Samaritans all firm favourites and each sounding great. Despite the continuous mosh pit and conveyor belt of surfers, the atmosphere was good-humoured and offered up a bit of much needed positivity in a climate where oppression has been all too prevalent lately.

Where IDLES go from here is anyone’s guess. Right now they are more than holding their own as their reputation and following continue to soar and things don’t look like slowing down any time soon. Defining IDLES sound and ethos isn’t easy but their album titles do a decent job – Brutalism and Joy as an Act Of Resistance sum them up pretty well. Another step on the upward journey of chaos, another night to remember. Well done indeed.

See what else IDLES and Crows are getting up to here

Words and photos by Siobhan

1st April 2019