Christmas Crackers 2014 #2: Roxanne de Bastion

Roxanne de Bastion_EP cover jpg

Our next Christmas Cracker has been pulled by our friend Roxanne de Bastion, who is gearing up for Christmas in Berlin! We reckon there will be whiskey, coffee and singing, but let’s double check….

Hi Roxanne, what does a de Bastion Christmas look like?

Hi! We celebrate Christmas in Berlin and enjoy the best of both worlds: The German Christmas dinner on the 24th and the traditional British Turkey dinner on the 25th. So primarily, lots and lots of food. 

What’s top of your Christmas present ‘wish list’?

I honestly don’t have a wish list.. it’s been such a busy year that I’m just really happy to be in Berlin with my family now. However, if anyone out there has too much money on their hands and is feeling generous, I would really like a new acoustic guitar, the remastered vinyl Beatles box set and a unicorn… or two, so they have a playmate. Thank you. 

What’s the best present you’ve bought this year?

I can’t tell you, can I? All my friends and family will read this blog post so I don’t want to spoil the surprise! I do have a theme this year though – most presents were purchased from independent artists and retailers. I’ve also made a few prezzies myself. 

What were you 3 personal musical highlights for 2014?

I’m very fortunate to have much to choose from this year. Recording and releasing my new EP Seeing You was an absolute highlight. I recorded four of my songs together with Ben Walker in North London and got to release them through Hidden Trail Records this September. The EP release gig in London was a highlight in itself that I will sneakily count as a sub-highlight. I got to perform with some amazing musicians to a room full of people who have been supporting me from the very beginning of my music making. Nick Stephenson from Nick and The Sun Machine and the Ellie Ford opened the show, so that was pretty special!

Touring in Italy for the first time was another definite highlight. I was really overwhelmed at the response I got over there and got to meet so many lovely people and take in so many beautiful views.. looking forward to playing more in Italy in 2015. 

A third highlight was performing at Lodestar Festival this summer – it’s one of my favourite small Festivals, the sun was out, the other bands (such as Catfish and the Bottlemen!) were great and I felt very well taken care of. 

Everyone’s writing lists at this time of year, what were your 3 favourite records of 2014?

Hm.. Ok, here are three great albums released fairly recently from independent artists that I’ve listened to a lot this year: 

The King of Ideas and the Weirdo Kid by Jasper Lewis (New York)
Northern Wind by Jody McKenna (Hull)
Jaymay in Norway by Jaymay (New York) 

Happy Crimbo everyone! See you in 2015! Love, Roxanne 

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Top 25 Albums of 2014: #25 – #21

If you write a blog it is pretty much essential to get an ‘end of year’ list together. We’ve listened to a lot of great music this year, but these 25 albums pretty much picked themselves. Putting them into some order was much more difficult as we really, really love them all! That said, we love a challenge so here goes……

#25 Native State – Jess Williamson

Jess Williamson

We had the great pleasure of seeing Jess Williamson play twice in her native Austin, during SXSW. The live experience is intense, beautiful and strangely hypnotic. You gotta commit to the record, but you’ll be richly rewarded if you do!

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#24 Honeyblood – Honeyblood

Honeyblood

Catchy, short, sharp pop songs with great hooks. What more do you need?

H

#23 Good Morning, Midnight – Becky Becky

Becky Becky

Brighton based Becky Becky’s brilliant debut manages to merge a grand concept, fascinating beats & Gemma’s extraordinary vocal, into an amazing whole.

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#22 Coolboy – Oyama

Oyama

Iceland’s Oyama are by far our favourite new exponents of Shoegaze. Coolboy is atmospheric in feel and grand in scope – another great debut on the list

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#21 Clover Lane – Jonah Tolchin

JOnah Tolchin

An album full of great songs, delivered in style. Excellent.

 

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Christmas Crackers 2014 #1: Flash Bang Band

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Flash Bang Band: Twitter / Facebook / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

At this time of year we like to pull Christmas crackers with some of the musicians we’ve chatted to over the year. First up is Brighton’s Flash Band Band, a group who have one of the strongest work ethic’s we know….these guys just love playing loud and immensely entertaining shows!

We caught up with singer/guitarist Andy Halliday,

Hi Andy, what does a Flash Bang Band Christmas look, smell and taste like?

STICKY. RICH. FATTENING.

Do you guys buy each other presents?

Frequently, yes. And not just at christmas.

What’s the best present you’ve bought this year?

I can’t tell you my presents! I got my Nana a nodding Buddah. 

What were Flash Bang Band’s 3 musical highlights for 2014?

 Touring Europe for the second time, Alternative Great Escape showcase, Recording at The Premises in Hackney.

Everyone’s writing lists at this time of year, what were your 3 favourite records of 2014?

I really liked Big Ups’ ‘Eighteen Hours of Static’. Otti Albeitz’s ‘And The Voices’ is really awesome too. New Aphex was cool, and Breton’s new one, and Broncho’s album! Oh and Pulled Apart By Horses’ one…and USA Nails’ ‘Sonic Moist’. ha OK so that’s 7… sorry…

Finally, what’s on the agenda for 2015?

We just came out of the studio where we recorded something new, for a physical release vinyl or tape or something in February which will be supported by a UK tour and then a Europe wide tour in April. We’re working towards album number two also. YAY x

 

News #49: Small Town Jones – A Night Full of Ghosts

STJ

It may reference darkest December, but the new single from Small Town Jones, isn’t your classic Christmas sing along!

‘A Night Full of Ghosts’ uses Jim Jones’s plaintive, whispered vocal to great effect, conjuring up an image of a man on the edge, facing his demons….and not really sure if he’s going to find a way back. Sure, it is bleak in subject matter and sparse in musical terms, but at it’s centre is a passionate core which pulls you back for more.

Recorded and produced by Peter Bruntnell in “The Basement” studios in Morthoe, Devon. “A Night Full of Ghosts” is the first new song in a couple of years to be released by Jim (Small Town Jones) whose next album “The Sky Down to the Ground” should be ready sometime in early 2015.

A Night Full of Ghosts is available to buy now on iTunes
Keep up with all things Small Town Jones: Website / Twitter / Facebook / ReverbNation

News #48: Liza Anne – Room

Liza Anne – Room

We first mentioned Liza Anne on the blog back in January, when we gave her track The Colder Months our track of the week. The album of the same name has remained a favourite throughout the year (and is bound to feature in our end of year poll). Therefore we were excited to hear new track ‘Room’.

We are pleased to report that ‘Room’ does not disappoint in any way – in fact it feels like a significant step forward. It has the same level of intensity, due to the intimacy and confessional nature of its lyrical content. The vocal starts icy cool, and although it thaws slightly at times, it keeps you at arms length. This song is not a soft warm cuddle, more a clinical, razor sharp, dissection of a relationship. The guitars add a frozen shimmer all over the tunes surface.

The really brilliant thing is how beautiful the sum of the parts sounds….Liza Anne has an amazing talent and it is great to have her back as we head into the UK’s colder months.

The Music Doesn’t Stop #30: Bird

LP Cover
Back in the Spring we went to Liverpool Sound City for an amazing few days of music. Musically there were many highlights, but none more so than seeing Bird play in the towering surrounds of Liverpool Cathedral.
 
The sound was intense, moving and, always a sucker for a band dressed in black, they looked the part. The next 30 minutes was our festival highlight.
 
The album, My Fear and Me, does an excellent job of capturing the intensity of the live performance. Sure this is dark, moody music, dense and haunting in places, but it is also moving and uplifting. Bird are a band whose music may flit among the shadows, but they don’t disappear into the darkness – accessibility to the song and the melody is never lost.
We chatted to Adele from the band, but between our conversation and publishing this article it was announced that, “Due to reasons that are beyond of our control it is with heavy heart that we’re announcing that we’ll no longer be able to perform or make music as BIRD.” Thankfully it was also announced that, ‘This is not the end’. 
We don’t know what is happening next, but we do know that the show in Liverpool and My Fear and Me, were a highlight of our musical year.
 
Hi Bird, how are you all?
We’re all good thank you! We’ve recently got back from gigging in Barcelona and are currently on tour with Canadian band The Besnard Lakes, so we’ve been pretty busy. We’re also starting to write some new material which is pretty exciting.
How does it feel to have your debut album, ‘My Fear and Me’ out in the world?
It feels great, after working on it for so long it was nice to finally be able to let go of it and send it out in to the world. The response from people has been really positive which makes it all worthwhile.
How has the reception been on the tour so far?
The album tour was loads of fun, especially the Manchester and London gigs, we always seem to do well there. But it was just fun to tour a product that we were proud of.
We see on Facebook that you describe your music as ‘Ethereal Wave’ are you starting a new genre?
Not intentionally so but we find it hard to describe our music because it is so diverse and there’s a lot of different genres combined, so we just thought ethereal wave was the term that best suited our music.
There is a definite darkness in your music – although that’s not to say it isn’t also mystical and pretty darn beautiful – does it get even more intense? Do you find yourselves having to reel it back from some pretty bleak places?
We don’t hold back really, we let the music get as dark and intense as it wants, maybe that’s not for everybody but that’s just what comes naturally to us. We hope it’s not all doom and gloom though, we like to think there’s a nice balance of light in there too.
Band Pic
At times the music’s sparseness reminds me of Joy Division. Is this a fair reference point and a band you admire?
Yeah I mean we all love Joy Divison and they’re probably one of the most influential bands that we admire. Ian was and still is one of the greats.
What other influences do you notice coming out in your music?
We love the likes of PJ Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, The Cocteau Twins and The Cure and then some newer bands like Warpaint, John Maus, Amen Dunes, Angel Olsen and The Wytches. Things that influence writing are mainly personal life experiences, books, films, photography. I really love soundtracks too.
Now I don’t want to give readers the wrong impression as your music may be intense, but live it is also quite thrilling. Is it a challenge bringing the textures of the record out in a live environment?
We found it challenging at first because we hadn’t played the album live but now we find it really easy and we can give the sound a lot more energy and clout live. We need to keep concentrating on the dynamics though as they can get lost easily when you’re so used to playing something a lot.
We were lucky enough to see your show at Liverpool Cathedral during this year’s Sound City and absolutely loved it – how was it for you?
Thank you! We loved that show, it was the perfect venue and setting for us, it was also our first show playing the new album songs to our hometown so we were a bit nervous, but people seemed to really enjoy it which was great. It was amazing to play such a beautiful, famous landmark too. We all live fairly close to the cathedral and used to walk past it saying ‘how perfect would it be if we could play in there’ and now we can cross it off our list!
Bird - Liverpool Cathedral
If you were curating next year’s Sound City which 3 bands would you ask to headline the Cathedral?
Nick Cave, Portishead and Kate Bush ((I’m thinking big here!)
Do you think your Liverpool roots come out through the music? If so how?
I wouldn’t say so no, I mean it’s brilliant to be part of Liverpool and it’s creative/music scene and we adore the city but I wouldn’t say we had a particularly Liverpudlian sound in anyway. A lot of bands coming out of Liverpool and Wirral now have lots of really diverse sounds which is great, I think the city is really changing and going from strength to strength.
For a Bird newbie which song do you recommend they listen to first?
I’d say give The Rain Song a go first as it’s one of our slightly more accessible songs, then I Am The Mountain as that seems to be a crowd favourite and the give Sea Of Trees a listen if you want something a bit heavier!

We are always curious how song writing works within bands – what’s the process within Bird?
I usually take a hook or a full song in to the practice room and then we all build on it collectively from there. Once the basics of the song are there everything tends to fall in to place quite naturally, we’re on the same wave length the majority of the time which is good so that makes the music flow quite easily.
You are on tour – what hi-jinks have been going on?
We’ve broken down a couple of times, slept in a service station and I got quite badly electrocuted on the mic one night which was fun! There’s been loads of fun times too though, being in a band is definitely a roller coaster ride but all worth it, you can certainly say it’s never boring.
Who is the troublemaker in the band?
I wouldn’t say troublemaker, but Lex is the one who likes to party out of all of us, as long as he’s knows there’s some beers on the rider then he’s happy!
Finally, our current favourite track is ‘I Am the Mountain’ – how did it come into being, what’s it all about?
I Am the Mountain is quite a spiritual song, it’s about loosing hope but finding it in the world and the beauty that surrounds us. Sometimes we forget to see what’s right in front of us because we’re so blinded by focusing on ourselves and our inner problems, it’s about looking beyond that.
As a parting gift the band are also giving away a great cover of The Stone Roses ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ HERE

News #47: Johanna Glaza – Paper Widow

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JG

In our minds eye the video for Johanna Glaza’s excellent new single, Paper Widow, sees Johanna dancing through a snowy forest like an ice-queen, conjuring beautiful sounds from just a single touch to snow laden leaves and crystal clear icicles. As she begins to sing the animals of the forest start to emerge, captivated by her stunning voice….together they all disappear into the dark depths of the woods.

The actual video is nothing like this but, along with the song itself, it is rather good:

News #46: Dead Professional’s debut EP – Hard Hard Hard

DeadProHardHardHard

We’ve mentioned Dead Professional on this blog a couple of times before, firstly with the debut offering, ‘I’m Not The One‘, and then when the video for the excellent ‘Downtown At Sundown‘ was released.

What’s Dead Professional (aka John Harouff) been up to between then and now? Well ‘a lot’ is the answer to that! Debut EP, ‘Hard Hard Hard’ was released this week on the back of some top notch support slots with the likes of Ryan Adams, Kurt Vile, Chuck Prophet, Waxahatchee and Hiss Golden Messenger (sounds like our perfect festival line-up!)

Hard Hard Hard consolidates John’s stripped down, rock’n’roll vibe. We’ve been listening to the latest Tom Petty record this week and there is definitely some T.Petty influences on this EP, along with Tunnel of Love era Springsteen.

A fine collection of songs.

News #45: Souvenir Stand, Roxanne de Bastion & Jonah Tolchin

Been listening to a whole host of new tunes this week, here are a few that caught our fancy….

Souvenir Stand – Surprise

A proper single! Under 3 minutes, infinitely catchy with a host of twists and turns and a super cute lead vocal. Oh, there’s something just as good on the flip side as well. Pretty perfect pop from New York’s Souvenir Stand! We picked up our 7″ from the fine folks at Beautiful Strange.

 

Roxanne de Bastion – Seeing You (video)

Talking of great lead vocals and well crafted pop songs, here is the video to the excellent ‘Seeing You’ by Roxanne de Bastion. We are biased, but the live vocal on this is really, really good!

 

Jonah Tolchin – Diamond Mine

You know when you go to a show, get there just in time for the support (who you’ve not heard of) and then get completely lost in what you are watching and listening to? Well that happened to us last night when we saw Jonah Tolchin supporting Chuck Prophet in Brighton.

Jonah’s humble and unassuming stage presence didn’t prepare you for what came next, 30 mins of intense blues-infused songs and storytelling – a quite unexpected and wonderful surprise. This live session gives you a feel for the artist, one we intend to keep close tabs on.

News #44: feat Brooke Bentham, Glassmaps, Roah Summit & Keyan Keihani

A few nuggets from the inbox!

Brooke Bentham – We’ll Be Ghosts

Bring on the goosebumps! This is a beautiful and haunting piece of songwriting, putting Bentham’s vocals right out front. The song swoops and dives throughout, the plaintive guitar and piano backing perfectly compliment the melancholy.

 

Glassmaps – My Head My Heart

Starts off sounding like someone knocking out a tune on a tinny cheap casio, then turns into a huge great blues stomper. Love the wailing guitars that kick in at two minutes.

 

Roah Summit – Secrets

I really, really like this one from Roah Summit and I’d love to give you a point of reference, but I just can’t put my finger on it (is it Bon Iver crossed with MGMT?) Either way I love it.

 

Keyan Keihani – Channing Way

Back on more familiar territory for someofitistrue, anyone described as “draws on country’s lost twang, subtle heartbreak and a dark imagination” usually gets our attention. This track from Keyan’s debut album ‘Eastbound’ certainly does enough for us to want to listen to the whole record. The subtle touches of organ are our highlight on this track

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