Category Archives: Artist Of The Week

‘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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Artist of the Week – Beardyman!

If you have read any of the other posts on this blog, you will tend to see that my musical tastes largely lie in rock, ska and punk, but now and again, somebody catches my eye. And nobody has done this recently more so than Beardyman – the one man beatbox jukebox who never ceases to entertain me!
UK Beatbox Champion of 2006 and 2007 makes Beardyman the first beatboxer in UK history to win 2 championships in a row. And what a talent he has! His live shows are a totally unique blend of comedy, beatboxing and looping, making it a gig like you’ve never seen before!
The general theme of his shows consists of taking song or genre requests and making something fantastic up on the spot, using only his voice, a keyboard and between 3 and 5 Korg Kaoss pads. These pads are what make Beardyman even more unique – he expertly uses looping technology to build up numerous layers that eventually result in an entire song.

Whilst you may think that surely an entire show of this might get a bit repetitive, Beardyman’s good sense of humour and crowd participation make for a show that will leave you smiling throughout.

Beardyman also released an album this year, titled ‘I Done A Album,’ which is great, with some fun tracks like ‘Vampire Skank,’ which is a cross between Gogol Bordello and dubstep! but it’s no match for his live performances judging by what I have seen online. It seems to me that part of his appeal is the mix of comedy and music, which is obviously hard to get across with an album.
So, enough of me, I’ll let you watch for yourself. Below is his entire show: ‘Unshaved – Live at the Udderbelly.’
It’s a whopping 48 minutes long, but it’s well worth watching – I watched the entire show without a minute of boredom!

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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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Artist Of The Week – Chewing On Tinfoil

Now for something completely different! Yet another discovery from Mike Davies’ Radio 1 Show, Chewing on Tinfoil, formed in 2003 are a ska-punk band from Dublin, Ireland.

Still relatively unknown, the band have been playing anywhere they will be accepted for the last seven years, describing their plan for the band as being – ‘trying to get as much stuff done as we possibly can until one of us has a kid or dies or whatever, which would mean that we’d have to stop.’ Very DIY.

Personally, I love them. They have fantastic lyrics and are completely unique. They posted their first full-length album online to try and raise their profile, which can be found either via their myspace page, (http://www.myspace.com/tinfoilabusemyspace) or from the Quote Unquote Records website.

Listen to Forty ‘Shades of Grey’  for a brief idea of what Chewing On Tinfoil are capable of, or the acoustic clip of ‘Shaving’ below:

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Artist Of The Week – Crazy Arm

Sorry, this hasn’t exactly been a regular feature – I’ve had barely any time recently! Anyway, this week, we have Crazy Arm – a band I discovered through a Free CD with Big Cheese Magazine.

Crazy Arm have described themselves as ‘Fugazi with Banjos, but without banjos!’ The release of their debut album – Born To Ruin, Crazy Arm provides a high energy mix of punk, rock, blues, folk and country music. These guys are seriously talented, with a lot of technical guitar parts, that are sure to leave you feeling dizzy!

I would have been to see them in November, as part of the Against Me! tour which I’m sure you will see has been cancelled unfortunately.

I’ve heard that the band are planning to start a UK tour in December if anybody is interested. They play a lot of free shows all over the place, and I really feel that these guys have a lot of potential. Check out the track ‘Blind Summit’ below from Born to Ruin, and you may be pleasantly surprised!

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Artist Of The Week – Gogol Bordello

Well, this week, we have one of the most exciting, energetic, hilarious, and occasionally terrifying bands of the moment – Gogol Bordello.

These nutcases from New York have risen to fame playing their raucous fusion of Gypsy music, punk, folk, dub and many other styles on a relentless tour schedule across the globe. The band features accordion and violin, which adds an unusual and exciting element to their music.

Gogol Bordello is fronted by Ukranian-born singer, Eugene Hutz, who has a heck of a story to tell! Born near to Kiev, Eugene and his family were forced to flee the country, after hearing of the disaster at Chernobyl. They trekked for about 7 years through Eastern Eurrope, passing through hundreds of refugee camps.

Eventually, in 1991, Eugene found himself in the U.S state of Vermont, through a refugee rehoming program. These traumatic events he experienced as a child, as well as his Ukranian background became a big part of his song content. Gogol’s albums feature topics including immigration, and life as a gypsy.

The band will be playing at Reading and Leeds festivals this week, if you are heading there, I highly recommend you give them a listen!

For those of you who are willing to experience some very unique and unusual music, I would suggest watching this performance of ‘Pala Tute’ from Jools Holland’s ‘…Later Live’ show, from the BBC.

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Artist Of The Week – Rancid

Well, seeing as I’m not going to be at any more gigs until Muse in September, I thought I may as well add a new feature. So every week, I’ll put up an artist that I think is worth listening to. There’ll be plenty of variety, so let me know what you think!

So, this week – Rancid. This ska-punk band from The East Bay Area in California are still going strong, after the release of ‘Let The Dominoes Fall’ last year.

Rancid was founded by two ex-members of the short lived, yet legendary Operation Ivy – Tim Armstrong, who is on lead vocals and guitar, and Matt Freeman on bass. (In my opinion, Rancid have some of the best bass in punk – Check out the amazing bass solo in the last 30 seconds of Maxwell Murder, on ‘…And Out Come the Wolves’

On drums, Tim and Matt chose Brett Reed, however he left in 2006, to be replaced by ex member of The Used – Branden Steineckert.

The band then searched for a second guitarist – their first choice was Billie Joe Armstrong, a good friend of Tim Armstrong – however he turned down the offer. This proved to be a good decision, as Billie now fronts one of the worlds biggest rock acts – Green Day, of course! Instead, Lars Frederiksen was chosen in 1993 – who also fronts his own solo band- Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards.

Rancid have had seven studio albums out since their formation in 1991 – Their most successful being ‘And Out Come the Wolves.’ This album has since gone platinum. Other successful albums included ‘Life Won’t Wait’, and ‘Let’s Go.’

I recommend Rancid due to the fact that they are just an amazing punk band. They produce a great mix of upbeat ska-punk tunes that will leave you feeling much better than you did before you began listening. They also have a knack of producing songs that stick in your head for weeks on end!

I’ve also heard that they are fantastic live, so if they are playing near you, don’t waste the opportunity – get saving for those tickets!

I would recommend listening to: Radio, Roots Radical, Black Lung, Disconnected, Last One To Die, Life Won’t Wait and Time Bomb.

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