Sunday, 13 June 2010
Photos by Dex Osburn
Tonight's support was Gravities the recent winners of the Staffs Uni battle of the band. With a short set of original proggy rock with a new-wave edge, they performed in a way that shows their ambition. Frontman Adam Lowell has a touch of Tom Smith (Editors) both in mannerisms and dress, and the band have their strongest member in guitarist Ben Forester whose solid playing carrys the band. With many of the audience congratulating the band after their set, they definately have the foundations of a fanbase, and as their live career is still fledgling it will be interesting to see where they take their ambition. Hotly tipped by the good folk at BBC introducing and following their appearance at Radio 1's Big Weekend, the opportunity to see Pegasus Bridge in an intimate venue was not to be passed by. With synth lead melodies, catchy guitar hooks and a fine array of cardigans they started with a light weight number - which for me ticked all the boxes of an 'introducing' band. Pagasus Bridge come from "the lovelyl ittle town of Macclesfield" and were so down to earth that keyboard player Cal explained that they were impressed to see their own faces looking back at them fom the venues posters. Their Kookie-Futurehead-esque songs and melodies would not be out of place on a summer sound-track are performed in a slick no nonsense way, but with bags of confidence enthusiasm and professionalism. I think it would be fair to say that they are treading a well worn path, yet there is something that sets them apart from the herd, and I can't quite put my finger in what it is; which is intriguing. Playing "a bt of a dancy one" 'China Town' sets a galloping pace which in a blink of an eye you can see a mosh bouncing along to. Finishing with 'Paris' and then their most well known track 'Yoko', it is easy to see why Radio 1 have backed this band, and I hope that we do hear a lot more of them in the coming months, the summer will be a cheerier place for it. Listen Pegasus Bridge Gravities
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
If like me you have been waiting for a band to come along to help restore your faith in the true spirit of rock n roll then Barnsley’s Exit Calm have done exactly that with this, their self titled debut album . It is a swathing mass of psychedelic grooves and ambience delivered by this extremely talented quartet - from the anthemic opener “You got it wrong” to the final moments of the acoustic bliss of “Serenity” this album totally delivers on all fronts, there is no filler here .You will always hear about the contenders for album of the year from the music press, however without doubt this is THAT album for me and has been a permanent fixture on my biscuit player for the last few days - it really is that good. Personally they’re a recent discovery having been sign posted not from the regular music glossies but from “Guitarist” magazine (June 2010 edition) and from that I just had to check them out. So far it appears that they have yet to be picked up by the main mags as a feature, but I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before they wake up to them and be blown away by their music.
So who are they? Nicky Smith is the voice with just a hint of the Ashcroft, Tom Meehan, Bono esque delivery about him, then there is Rob Marshall on guitar, who shimmers his way to crescendo like epic proportions, and finally there is the powerful hypnotic rhythmic grooves of Simon Lindley and Scott Pemberton on bass and drums respectively holding it all together.
This is a powerful debut and a true tour de force on the ears allowing the listener to engage with their aural epic trance like musings as the band take you on a majestic symphonic journey with their very own special full on “wall of sound” handling the lyrical content of love, loss, despair and isolation. This band are the real deal, they’re certainly not twangy light weights who seem more concerned with style rather than substance which sadly reflects too many new bands at the moment. Exit Calm yield qualities of both honesty and integrity about their music yet at the same time they’re not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. If you think early Verve, the “Storm in heaven” and “A northern soul” period then you have it; but also there are echoes of the Cocteau Twins, particularly guitarist Robin Guthrie with also a nod to the Chameleons at times echoing the guitar sound of both Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies on “Reference” and “Atone”.
Guitarist Rob Marshall creates some wonderful musical landscapes with his vibrant soporific textures, echoing Nick McCabe (the Verve) who is a fan and friend of the band by the way, and if you admire him then you will lose yourself in Rob’s playing from full on reverb swampiness to almost feather light touches. He is certainly up there with McCabe and John Squire as a talented musician and if your bag is listening to guitarists as I do, then you’ll want more. The influences on the guitarist does not stop there as he cites Hendrix and John Martyn particularly Martyn’s use of echo delay as well as the looseness of the legendary late 50s early 60s wild man and pioneer of distorted guitar- Link Wray.
This record is pure quality throughout and if you admire the works of The ‘Roses, The Verve and Kasabian then you definitely need this adding to your collection. There are elements of light and shade which a certain Jimmy Page will often talk about when discussing the mighty Zeppelin - its all in there .Simply close your eyes, listen to the soulfulness and meaning of the music, embrace it and let them enter your “Hearts and minds” . If you purchase just one record this year make it this one, it is a remarkable recording and one you’ll keep returning to. Exit Calm have yielded a contender for album of the year here and I’m sure it will feature high on many lists come the annual roundup it is an impressive classic debut. They have utilised their influences to great effect creating a monumental musical landscape which is very much their own. This is 21st century psychedelic groove rock for the people and comes highly recommended.
Exit Calm are currently on tour playing Wolverhampton Little Civic, Manchester Fac251, checkout the venues and the band’s MySpace for further details.
John Martyn – Solid Air
The Verve – A Northern Soul
Cocteau Twins – Garland
The Chameleons – Script of the Bridge
Kasabian – Kasabian
Link Wray – The King of the Wild Guitar
Sunday, 6 June 2010
Hayley Strangelove is Soul Food. Within the first three songs of her first set she had me reflecting on the past, laughing, and grinning like a nutter. Hayley has an incredibly versatile and soulful voice which means that she doesn't just carry a song off, she takes it on an all inclusive 5 star holiday.
Her first set saw covers like California Dreaming sitting comfortably alongside some of her self-penned titles such as 'Happy' and 'Down the line (ode to the working man)', indicative of her skill in writing robust and accessable. Combining this with the rare talent of conversing with the assembled audience Hayley ensures that the audience are not only watching but are a part of her performance.
Describing the song 'Mummy's little Darling' as 'written in the style of Kate Bush with tongue firmly in cheek', Hayley shows not only her vocal talent but her ability to lay the female psyche bare - women in the audience take note.
At any time it is easy to see that Hayley is an incribly honest performer. Having seen her playing with a full band this not something that happens when she is performing alone, it is through her lyrics and delivery - what you see is what you get. This is not something that should be apologised for; it is truley refreshing. A rousing version of 'Mercedes Benz' and 'Circus' (the latter her signature song) see's the end of her first set.
Hayley's second set was again a mix of covers and her own work such as 'Dig Deeper', 'Stay', and 'Girl Inside' (a curiously charming song about a grusome murder) embelished with requests from the floor ranging from Fairport Convention to Free, again showing her versatility and accomplishment ather art.
Hayley has an album soon to be released, so click on the link below and see if we can't spread the [Strange] love.