I’ve been a long-time fan of the band Frightened Rabbit; they’ve stayed consistently in my top 5 artists in the last few years. This month they released a new album Painting of a Panic Attack, which I managed to listen to a billion times before we saw them live the following week at the Church of St Johns-at-Hackney.
With Lucy Rose, Michael Kiwanuka and Villagers headlining at Communion Records’ Bushstock Festival in Shepherds Bush last night, it was incredibly tough deciding who to see. Thankfully we had several hours of brilliant music to indulge in first!
In the end we plumped for Villagers’ intimate folk music in serene St Stephen’s Church and it was an absolute treat after a day of dashing manically between venues to see relatively unknown artists like Jack Watts and Lake Komo. Conor’s wavering melodies, already delicately crafted on the recordings, were rearranged for the show; a wonderful touch that made the night even more magical.
We were gutted to miss secret sets from Nick Mulvey and The Staves, and at times the festival was frustratingly overcrowded, with venues regularly reaching capacity from mid-afternoon. Nevertheless, Bushstock was a little gem of a festival in the heart of London with a very brilliant lineup, which will be hard to resist next year now we know Shepherds Bush is only a bus ride away!
If you fancy the sound of Bushstock Festival check out this year’s lineup in the official Spotify playlist:
December crept up so quickly this year that I really think about getting an advent calendar until it was too late but I’m getting around that by having something chocolatey every day (not much different to any other time of year to be honest!)
It’s nice to open something every day in the run up to Christmas so I’ve been following music blog The 405’s Playlist Advent Calendar, where every day a different artists unveils a playlist of tunes. Most aren’t particularly Christmassy, but it’s a treat to have a new bunch of songs to listen to every day.
Do you have an alternative advent calendar to a chocolate one? I’d love to know what you do to count down to Christmas.
I’m very late with this post about Latitude, a combination of being busy and not quite knowing where to start to cram three jam-packed festival days into one blog post!
In the meantime I’ve read other people’s reviews of the weekend and, to quote The 405’s William Caston Cook: ‘The first night is always the worst at a festival’. Yes, yes it was. Not because it was an excited night where we did too much, but because we were stuck on the M25 for an extra 4 hours in a traffic jam. An unexpected 8 hour journey and sleeping in the car overnight was a pretty inauspicious start to the weekend!
With San Fermin‘s help we blew away the cobwebs the following morning in the BBC 6 Music tent. Somewhere between an orchestra, a jazz band and a pop band, San Fermin was a highlight of the festival. They’re made up of eight musicians performing music about different characters composed by Brooklyn based Ellis Ludwig-Leone. I’d listened to them before but never appreciated quite how electric their live performances were: a trumpet and a saxophone jamming together was a brilliant start to the weekend.
Latitude was stuffed full of glitteringly good bands. From Canadian jazz trio Badbadnotgood, Suffolk based rock band Dingus Khan, and britpop legend Damon Albarn and his host of special guests, through to Icelandic sensation Asegir, SOHN, Marika Hackman, Haim, First Aid Kit and RY X‘s haunting band The Acid.
The one frustration of Latitude is that there’s just too much to see. Three or four timetable clashes is not unusual, and as well as wanting to see nearly all of the music acts, I’d happily gobble up the literary performances, poetry, theatre, experimental live art … heck, finding time to say hello to the sheep during the weekend is hard! We popped in to see Home Live Art‘s fun and creative Alternative Village Fete, watched the wonderful and hilarious Michael Rosen speak about chocolate cake, marvelled at the innovative use of sets and costumes during Full Stop by Light The Fuse. The list goes on – I just wanted more time to see everything!
It was Atomic Bomb! Who Is William Onyeabor? that really stole the show. Filling the Sunday main stage midday slot, hundreds of bodies jumped along to the beat of African synth pop. As well as being one of the most enjoyable musical moments of the festival, the background of the Atomic Bomb! band is incredibly intriguing. William Onyeabor, originally a Nigerian funk musician, recorded 8 albums between 1970’s to 1980’s and then became a born-again Christian, abandoning and refusing to speak about his music. An awesome supergroup of musicians have resurrected his work: Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem), Money Mark (Beastie Boys). They’ve been touring their tribute to William Onyeabor this year and Latitude was their final performance. And then they brought up Young Fathers and LAW during the set, then added in some African dancers and essentially started a huge joyful bouncing African-themed party from the stage. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning!
Last Saturday we headed over to People Records in Guildford very early in the morning for Record Store Day! In order to make sure we were able to buy some exclusive records, available only for the day, we got there at 7.30am, half an hour before they opened and were already the 78th and 79th people in the queue. Quite the committed crowd!
I was expecting to stand queuing for a long time, but the staff at People Records made sure we all had tickets to reserve our place in the queue, and operated a one in one out rule. Instead of hanging around in the cold, we went and had breakfast at Bill’s, how’s that for queuing!
Record Store Day is an annual event, in its 8th year, celebrating independent record stores around the UK. Every year several hundred artists release limited edition or re-release tracks on vinyl record that can only be bought on the day from indie record shops*. Every year RSD supports a charity – this year it was War Child!
*Sometimes you can find them in store for a few days/weeks if they haven’t sold out!
By 10am we were in! Inevitably, some records we wanted were gone, but we came away with Natasha Khan & Jon Hopkins Garden’s Heart, Damon Albarn Lonely Press Play, and Little Dragon Klapp Klapp 12″. The biggest disappointment was that the Ghostbusters record had already sold out!
The staff at People Records were so lovely, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and their ticketed queue system made the whole event so much less stressful than waiting in a queue for three hours! The shop is a great place to nose around to find old and new music on vinyl and CD, and if you need more persuading, they even have a lovely little dog hanging out in the shop too!
People Independent Music Shop is found at 14a Chapel Street, Guildford, GU1 3UL
Photo: My Goodness
Photo: Smith and Milton
Being able to buy music combined with original art for charity sound too good to be true, right? It’s exactly what Secret 7″ have achieved, taking 7 tracks from 7 well known musicians and pressing them 100 times to 7″ vinyl every year. They then ask the public and professional artists to design a record sleeve, resulting in one of a kind sleeve for every vinyl. These records then go on sale on Record Store Day (19th April this year).
2014’s 7 amazing tracks are from best-known musicians from across the globe, ranging from famous established bands to talented artists whose careers have just begun. I would be excited to have any of them on record!
Once Secret 7″ have sorted through the artwork submissions, 700 sleeves will be exhibited Downstairs At Mother in London on 12 & 13th April. On Record Store Day it’s time to get your hands on one, for £45 each, an investment that requires a bit of thought before I buy! However, the mystery adds to the experience of buying a record as, until you’ve paid, you won’t know who has designed the sleeve or even which track you’ve bought…
Secret 7″ began in 2011 as an alternative to charity auctions, giving money to Teenage Cancer Trust. This year they’re supporting War Child, a fantastic charity helping children and families whose lives have been blighted by war in Africa and the Middle East.
In the last 3 years Secret 7″ have gained a fantastic following and this year people have been flooding their letterbox as well as the internet with artwork submissions. St Ainolopa and Anna Rack are both illustrators who have blogged about the beautiful artwork they’ve submitted this year. There’s plenty more to see on Twitter using #secret7s and Instagram by following @secret7s and getting behind the scenes peeks at submissions and the decision process!
Bring on Record Store Day!
I decided that Deptford Goth’s debut Life After Defo was my favourite album of the year when it was released back in March – a bit premature, I know. My wonderful boyfriend secretly bought us tickets to see him in September at Union Chapel and intended to give them to me for my birthday in early June.
Forgetting previous favourites, a week before my birthday, I insisted that Baths’ newly released album Obsidian was my best album of 2013, scuppering his plans for the ‘here’s tickets to see your favourite album live’ gift… Thankfully he saw the funny side!
With the clause ‘so far'(!), in for safety, Deptford Goth at Union Chapel is the best gig I’ve been to this year. I’d never been to Union Chapel before and got to Islington while it was still light to see this beauty of a building from outside. We had a quick dinner at Le Mercury which does incredibly delicious french food for around £10 and then zipped back up the road to get a good seat/ pew.
Union Chapel was built to be a venue – for a place of worship and for gigs it really is fantastic – everything from the sloped floor, the kiosk selling drinks and treats at the back, to the balcony and the amazing acoustics makes it the perfect place for live music. We arrived an hour before the support so took the opportunity to nab a second row seat, drink hot chocolate – out of real mugs! – and look around at the fairy lit side entrances and the beautiful ceiling.
The support band was To Be Frank; the lead singer was called Frank of course! They played a nice set with some catchy tunes. The only downside was that the lead singer’s face was completely blocked by instruments and gadgets. It didn’t spoil the sound, but the visual aspect of live music was rather diluted.
The majority of audience members were bearded and tousle-haired young men, almost to the point that it felt like a dress code. Deptford Goth, also known as Daniel Woodhouse, appeared in the similar just rolled out of bed state. He has previously explained that his stage name was created simply to be a nonsense name – so in no way did he resemble a tortured dark clothed emo from East London. For me, the name ‘Deptford Goth’ conjures images of lone man stalking through the city in twilight and actually I think it really captures the toughness, intensity and quiet sorrow of his music.
Two cellists and a violinist shared the stage with him and added depth to his minimalist electronic music and gave new life with new exciting new arrangements to the album. Life of Defo, an extraordinary and emotional album charting a break up, felt fleshed out on stage and far more beautiful than I was expecting. Especially ‘Union’, with its message of connectedness felt perfectly suited to the atmosphere of the venue.. Every song held together well in a live setting, a difficult feat when the Deptford Goth’s music relies on pauses, gentle beats and his delicate voice.
The gig finished on a fantastic high. For the encore, he brought on the amazing Roundhouse Experimental Choir who featured in a video with him earlier in September for Noisey with ‘Feel Real’. Their final song together was my favourite – an older track ‘No Man’, from Deptford Goth’s Youth II EP released in 2011. The choral backed tune was layered more substantially and the refrain ‘the water is rising’ that we hear at the beginning on the record was sung throughout the song by the REC, giving the tune a punchy, warm anthemic quality. The staccato keyboard accompaniment, strings and Woodhouse’s rich breathy voice became a rejoicing swell of music, a wonderful celebratory end the night.
What’s your favourite gig of 2013 so far?