Category Archives: Acoustic

QUICK, QUICK!

Ben Howard. We all know just how much of a good thing he is. He has it all. The style, the passion, the voice, the looks. He’s just fantastic. And after seeing him at the end of last year, he blew me away with his incredible talent, which transferred perfectly from the record onto the stage. This is why, on discovery of a pre-sale for a tour this November, I just HAD to buy myself a pair of tickets. It’s a long way, but boy am I glad that I know I’m going already! So, I thought I’d share it with everybody else, now I know for sure that my own tickets are booked! Visit www.benhowardmusic.co.uk for early access to Ben’s November tour in the UK, Ireland and the parts of Germany that haven’t sold out already! GO!

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NEW GUITAR!

So, a lot has happened in these few months of neglect. One example being the addition of a job into my life. Having been working at Waitrose for a couple of months now, I figured I could afford to ‘splash some cash’ on an acoustic guitar of my own, after having used my dad’s for a couple of years now. So, after spending hours in the infamous Denmark St, I did, in fact leave with no guitar. Instead, a melodica. My love for ska has been edging me towards buying one for ages, so I bit the bullet, and what fun! It’s a great little portable thing, and it can make quite a racket when it needs to. I love the tone of it too. The bass notes sound just like a accordion, my favourite sounding instrument of all time, and it could come in useful for acoustic band sessions in future!

Anyway, back to the guitar. We then progressed to GigGear in Harlow. A great warehouse store, with a whole downstairs section devoted to drums, with the upstairs showing off some electric pianos, and guitars both electric and acoustic. They also offer a wide range of lessons, from guitar to ukelele, which run throughout the week!

So in the end, and after much deliberation I settled on the beautiful electro-acoustic Yamaha APX 500II, which I’m very happy with!! Its got a lovely tone, and great treble, and it’s lovely to finally own your own guitar!

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Tell The Skints I’m Getting Impatient.

So, the Skints have finally closed their PledgeMusic account, after recieving far more donations than they ever could have hoped for. Which means their album MUST be on the way. I’ve been listening to their first album ‘Live, Breathe, Build, Believe’ for years now, and it has to be one of my favourite debut albums of all time. So my expectations built up by the variety of different acoustic covers released over the past few months on their facebook page have made the wait almost unbearable. Their covers have opened my eyes up to a whole variety of old reggae artists, whether it be Desmond Dekker, with their cover of ‘It Mek’ or Dennis Brown and his ‘Lips of Wine.’ The most recent release, which is set to be their most popular with almost 30,000 views already, is a cover of Katy B’s ‘On a Mission.’ I can’t say I’m a big fan of the original, but this ‘dub-ified’ version is sure to get reggae lover’s pulses racing. Check it out below. I’ll let you know when the new album’s out, it’s sure to be one of the highlights of 2012!!

Oh. Also, Marcia, musician extraordinaire from the Skints, is a bit of a blogger herself. Check out her Tumblr which features everything from Skints news to recipes and random information about her life, if you’re into stalking talented people.

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‘I’ve Been Worryin” That I Need To Update My Blog

Wow, what happened? It’s been months since I’ve been on here. Almost as if I’ve forgotten about this completely! However, don’t fear – my brain hasn’t ceased to whir. And, my music taste is as fantastic as ever, if not better – I still have a lot to write about!

So, my new favourite person has to be, Ben Howard. This amazing musician has taken over my speakers, and seemingly many others’ for the last few months, and since the release of his debut album, ‘Every Kingdom,’ I have been ever so slightly obsessed. This young man from Devon plays acoustic guitar in a very unique way, whether he’s slapping, whacking, strumming or tapping. However, there’s always one common theme. Whatever he does sounds absolutely AMAZING. This, combined with his Devonshire, but faintly Scottish-sounding accent and the soft harmonies provided by cellist India Bourne provides the ultimate music to relax, cry or celebrate to. Which is why I decided to go and see him this December at the Junction in Cambridge. And what a great decision that turned out to be.

Supporting was Brother&Bones, or rather their frontman – Rich Thomas. A lovely guy, with an uncanny resemblance to Dave Grohl and a voice just as powerful. He blew me away with his strength and emotion, and the sound quality was something I’ve never seen equalled for a warm up act. Check out ‘Back to Shore’ below for a taster of what Rich and Co. are capable of:

Ben Howard himself was a combination of relentless energy, mixed with soothing harmonies and chilled out ‘rain songs.’ Those which will become classics, such as ‘The Wolves’ and a very special extended version of ‘Keep Your Head Up’ which has now racked up well over 1,000,000 views on Youtube, had one of the best crowds I have heard in a long time screaming along with happiness. On the other hand, the slower songs were just as beautiful in their own right. Songs for ‘rainy days’ such as ‘Promise’ and ‘Everything,’ from which the album’s title derived, had the crowd, minus a couple of idiots determined to prove that they weren’t at  an ‘N-Duz’ gig, in awed silence. Ben showed his appreciation afterwards, saying ‘thanks for keeping quiet.’ This was fairly successful in keeping the other two shushed for the rest of the night!

That is something quite special about this man. He has an unexplained ability to simply make me smile – something which, these days, is quite rare to find with new music. And the crowd weren’t the only ones with a smile on their face. Ben Howard’s genuine disbelief at his reception on his first visit to Cambridge only made the move even better. And whilst he only had limited material, onstage for just over 75 mins, every second was golden. A quality of sound that was rare to find live, complete with harmonies and bucketloads of texture, such as from opener and personal favourite of mine ‘Depth Over Distance’ paid complete justice to the seemingly endless talent of this man and his band. I MUST see him again. No question about it, Ben Howard is something very special.

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Frank Turner – Live @ St Paul’s Church In Cambridge

After headlining his biggest show yet at Brixton Academy at the end of 2010, Frank Turner made the decision to go to to the opposite end of the scale to promote his upcoming album – England Keep My Bones – which is due to be released on June 6th.
Last nights venue – a tiny church in the heart of Cambridge – was a brand new experience. After entering, you took your pick – would it be the pews or the tiny standing area at the front? There can’t have been more than 300 people packed into the tiny venue – and it was fantastic!

Photo courtesy of Kon2Photography

First up for the night was Ben Marwood – a singer/songwriter from Reading. Much like Frank, his songwriting style is aggressive and passionate (and sometimes bitter too!), shown by song titles such as ‘Tell Avril Lavigne I Never Wanted To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway.’ He was a great warm up act and a nice guy too! Check out his website at: http://www.benmarwood.com
Next up was Franz Nicolay – A man whos name and appearance wouldn’t look out of place in Gogol Bordello. Like a thinner, more friendly relative of Mario Kart’s Wario, he was reminiscent of a circus ringleader from way back at the start of the 20th Century! Anyway – lets get to the music! Self described as punk rock cabaret, he has a unique blend of genres that make for a sound that fantastically eccentric, and thought provoking too. A little weird at times, but intriguing none the less! Have a listen to ‘This Is Not A Pipe,’ and check out his website at: http://www.franznicolay.com
Next up was Frank himself – Appearing on stage as understated as ever, breaking into ‘I Knew Prufrock..’ you could tell this was going to be an amazing show!

With the upcoming album, out next Monday, it was inevitable that there would be some new material. The new single ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’ has already been well received with radio play on Xfm and 6Music, as well as another new song ‘I Am Disappeared.’ He played both of these with great success – I can’t wait for the new album! Frank also performed another as yet unreleased track called English Curse – a powerful a cappella song based on English Folklore from the New Forest – Only Frank could!

Other highlights included ‘The Road’, ‘I Still Believe’ and two cover songs – Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road and a cover of the Postal Service’s ‘District Sleeps Alone Tonight,’ during which he invited Ben and Franz back on stage, for a new take on one of my favourites. However, the true highlight for me, had to be the final song of the set, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends,” where Frank smashed the very few barriers that existed between musician and fan and played the song in the crowd, proving to me that this man is never better than when he’s live – He has to be one of the most passionate men I have ever seen – a truly great performer! Thanks Frank.

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Frank Turner Featured In Film

This year, Relentless Energy continued their Short Film competition, with the first entry featuring Frank Turner.
The short film was made by up-and-coming filmmaker from Hertfordshire, James Henry. He chose Frank as the candidate to fill the competition’s themes of ‘No Half Measures,’ and ‘Focus,’ two adjectives which I cannot think of anybody better to grace with. James stated that: “I want to explore who he is at his core: it’s Frank’s story so who better to tell it than him himself?”
The film, titled ‘The Road,’ unsurprisingly documents life on tour for Frank – his highs and lows, and his inspiration to carry on making music.

Whilst only brief, is a great insight into Frank’s personal side, with behind-the-scenes interviews and as well as containing some great live footage and is truly inspirational, as it goes to show that hard work and passion can take you to places you could never have imagined!

James, since graduating from Hertfordshire University, the site for this years Slam Dunk South Festival, has been making a name for himself making films about various underground artists and fashion companies, as well as producing pieces for numerous magazines.

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England Keep My Bones Update…

As I am sure you will be aware, Frank Turner will be releasing the much anticipated follow-up to his last album Love Ire and Song, with ‘England Keep My Bones.’ From what I have heard already, the album is set to be yet another fantastic release, if not his best yet. He has already released a couple of songs from the album over Youtube, including the new single and video for ‘Peggy Sang The Blues,’ which you can see below:

He has also released a new favourite of mine, called ‘I Am Disappeared,’ a soul-baring and emotional track that sees Frank exposing himself yet again for the pleasure of his fans! This is bound to be a hit for the future, and has racked up over 50,000 views online already!

And if you’re keen to see what’s gone into the album, Frank has also recorded an album diary, documenting everything from a question and answer session for fans, to the origins of the album title. Check it out below:

All of this has really whet my appetite for seeing Frank at the end of May – This Spring’s solo tour is bound to be fantastic, and it looks as if Frank will have a whole lot more songs for us to enjoy whilst we’re there!

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Artist of the Week – Buster Shuffle

Doing a cover of Madness’ ‘One Step Beyond’ at my school’s version of Stars In Their Eyes was enough to reaffirm my love of classic 80’s ska. Bands like the Specials and Madness influenced not only me, but countless of UK ska bands around today, such as Sonic Boom Six, The King Blues and The Skints.
So when I saw an advert that described Buster Shuffle’s ‘Our Night Out’ as like ‘Madness’ early days,’ my favourite Madness period, I knew I had to check them out! The album has been out since 2009, and since then they seem to have developed quite a fan base, and have been touring with the likes of The Holloways and The Wombats
The first thing to hit you is lead vocalist Jethro Baker’s punchy and original cockney accent. The band have even been described as ‘more English than the Queen,’ which embodies itself in the cheeky, carefree lyrics of songs like ‘Maneater’ and ‘You’re Alright’ His lyrics are simple, yet still funny, clever and infectiously catchy. Baker’s voice adds a touch of fun and a ‘cheeky chappy’ tone to every song. He is also the pianist of the group, and it is the piano which really helps the band stand out from some of today’s other ska and rock bands.
Baker took advantage of his piano skills with an impromptu busking session with him and his band mates, utilising the ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ scheme set up in 2008 with the aim of bringing people together through music in cities across the globe. The band played mini-gigs at 10 different pianos in London, before being rudely cut short and moved on by the police??!! Personally, when the piano actually has ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ written all over it, it seems like an opportunity not to be wasted?
Anyway, you can see the video from their street performances below:

The album itself is incredibly short, at only 28 minutes, yet every song is packed full of fun and energy, making every minute worthwhile! Whilst the album ventures little further than the title suggests lyrically – Our Night Out – it is not music designed to be listened to for its deep lyrical content, it was made to have fun to, however Baker’s lyrics are far from bad – they are really clever and witty, and I can guarantee you’ll walk away in a much better mood with a smile on your face – what more could you want?
Check out the unique cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis Classic here. It really shows off what the band are capable of, even on such a tiny stage! (You might want to skip to about 1:30!)

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Artist of the Week – Perkie

This week, I want to shed some light on a hidden talent, who really needs to be discovered by a lot more people!
Perkie was once a member of the King Blues – in fact, she played keyboard for them when I saw them last year. However, she branched off to work on her solo album, and thank God she did! It amazes me every time I listen, to see the little ‘unsigned’ title on her myspace page. Her haunting voice, which is ever-so-slightly reminiscent of Adele. Her voice is one of the best I’ve heard in a while, and her quirky and original lyrics and sense of style make her really stand out from the crowd!
Whether she’s drawing a smile talking about her piercings or drawing a tear on ‘While I’m Here,’ Perkie shows a great talent which deserves a lot more attention. Whilst she doesn’t use her Myspace for messages any more, all of the tracks from her debut E.P are up on her site at: http://www.myspace.com/perkiekicksthings or you can check out her Facebook page under Perkie!
She played at Rebellion festival last year, and has a whole host of little shows coming up this summer, so if you like what you hear, (which I’m sure you will) go and check her out!

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Frank Turner – New Album and European Shows On The Way!

Having only just finished the extensive period of touring that began way back in the summer last year, Frank Turner is back in the studio again, and has announced that his new album is to be called ‘England Keep My Bones,’ and the release date is set for June 6th in the UK and on the 7th for the rest of the world.
To top this great news off, Frank has also announced another long run of worldwide dates, with shows in Canada, Australia, Germany, the UK and the USA in April and May. This tour will not see Frank backed by a band, but instead returning to his roots playing solo shows. Check out this link for the whole list of shows in the forthcoming months:

I’ll be trying to get to his Cambridge show, which in true Frank Turner style, is in a church, usually packed with the over-eighties in their weekly knitting club! It should be interesting to see how his solo shows compare to his tour last year when he was supported by his band.

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