By Mary Chang on Wednesday, 11th December 2013 at 1:00 pm
In case you were keeping score, the last real studio album by Kaiser Chiefs was in 2011. Their choose-your-own-tracks-and-order LP ‘The Future is Medieval’ proved to be less of a commercial boon than expected. The following year say the release of ‘Souvenir: The Singles 2004-2012′, the kind of collection that nostalgia bands like New Order release for their obsessive fans. Frankly, I thought the Kaisers were toast. Interestingly enough, some 8 months after its release, I saw them play before Keane at a Filter / American Rag showcase at SXSW 2012, during which frontman Ricky Wilson’s magnetism and performance nearly left me verklempt and the band brought it. On the basis of this one live performance, I thought, hmm, maybe the group entity known as Kaiser Chiefs still had legs.
Monday afternoon, Wilson stopped in to visit his old pal Steve Lamacq at Western House. While I find it hard to believe that Wilson just happened to be in the neighbourhood and was begged by BBC staff for a chat, it did give him the opportunity to spill what beans he could about Kaiser Chiefs’ new album ‘Education, Education, Education & War’, to be released in the new year. This will be the Kaisers’ album without chief songwriter, founding member and drummer Nick Hodgson, who left the band to pursue other projects in December 2012. Wilson related a funny anecdote about Hodgson’s replacement, Vijay Mistry of Yorks electronic band Club Smith, saying Mistry reminds them of how good their lives are as rock stars, as everything is so exciting to him being suddenly thrust into the big band’s touring life.
But back to the new material. Wilson divulged the album required them to trek out to the States, Atlanta specifically, to work with producer Ben Allen, who also co-produced Bombay Bicycle Club‘s ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ and Delphic‘s panned 2013 album ‘Collections’. Neither band are of the same genre as Kaiser Chiefs, which begs the question, what exactly is this new album going to sound like? Wilson insists that both them and Allen were “hungry” in the process of making the album, which I guess means they had massive appetites for success when working on it together. Can you hear the early days that Nick “Peanut” Baines says it sounds more like than their more recent efforts? Have a listen to ‘Misery Company’, whose song title Wilson explained was given to them as a bit of a joke by Jack White backstage at a festival in 2008.
From start to finish, there is a thudding backbeat throughout the whole track. That, unfortunately, is its most noticeable feature. And not wholly unlike the punishing, entirely memorable one of Franz Ferdinand‘s ‘Take Me Out’. What’s missing from the proceedings? The singalong chorus that made ‘Ruby’ such a fun song live, the frantic pace of ‘Never Miss a Beat’ or even the oddly charming drawls of Wilson such as those found in ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’. What you do get instead is a strange cackling sort of laugh from Wilson during the chorus, which frankly sounds creepy on record, as so the . I’m wondering what he’s laughing at.
Lyrically too, the verses are tough: the term “misery company” is used in this tune to describe being a social pariah with few friends (“it’s hard to believe that I smile in my sleep / everyone leaves me, it’s so hard to keep company / I’m misery company”. Probably the best thing about this song are Andrew “Whitey” White’s two – yes, two! – guitar solos, which Wilson explains why this track is White’s favourite off the album. Below is a video of the band performing it at Portuguese music festival Super Bock Super Rock back in July 2012, when the song was reportedly given its first airing. Maybe it’ll work out better live, but I’m not sold on the Hodgson-less Kaiser Chiefs just yet.
Kaiser Chiefs’ fifth album ‘Education, Education, Education & War’ is scheduled to be released on the 31st of March 2014. If you’re quick, you can have a listen to Lammo’s chat with Ricky Wilson on the BBC iPlayer here before next Monday.
By Mary Chang on Wednesday, 11th December 2013 at 12:00 pm
Young Kato have had one hell of a year, and we’re not just saying that because they placed at lucky number #7 on the TGTF 10 for 2014 readers’ poll. No, they’ve been very busy lads, so busy that I was very pleased I was able to pin down leader singer Tommy Wright during this busy time and long enough to answer some questions for me. I find out more about their hometown of Cheltenham and how they got started, their connection to Made in Chelsea and what I’m allowed to know about their debut album.
We don’t know a whole lot about you guys. Can you tell us how you all got together? Did you know each other from living in the same town, going to the same school, etc.?
Young Kato was formed in late 2011. We were brought together through the step brother link in the band – Sam (drums) and Jack (lead guitar). I went to school with Jack and Joe Green (guitar), and Sam went to school with Harry (keyboards) and Joe Lever (bass). We all played instruments and had a huge passion for music, so it made sense to get together and make some noise.
Tell us about Cheltenham. We don’t know much about it besides it having a racecourse where Wychwood Festival takes place at the start of the summer.
Cheltenham is known for a few things and music tends to not be one of them. There’s no real scene in Cheltenham so there’s no real specific sound bellowing out of here, but if you look hard enough there are some real gems hidden away across the musical spectrum.
A lot has been made about how young you guys are. What are the pros and cons of being so young in this business? (In comparison, I’m old-ish…)
I think there are only positives for us being as young as we are doing what we are doing. Our sound is youthful and vibrant and we make the most of gigs, etc., enjoying the experiences as you’d expect of six 19/20 year old lads. However, behind all of that, we are very aware of what is going on around us and there’s no naivety in this band. We know what we want and we’re making sure that our debut album sounds perfect along with everything that goes alongside it visually.
I saw you live, performing Saturday night at this year’s Great Escape, directly before the 1975. What were your highlights of the 2013 festival season? What is the crowd reaction these days when Young Kato takes the stage?
The Great Escape festival was a cool experience for us, it was our second gig of the day and we definitely felt we had won the crowd over. It was a pleasure to share the stage with 3 great bands: China Rats, The 1975 and Tribes.
Over the summer we played a few amazing ‘small’ festivals: Barn on the Farm, Y Not and X&Y to name a few. We hope to play every festival possible in 2014. We are always perfecting our live craft whenever we can, making sure that whoever is watching can appreciate every aspect of our music. One of the best reviews we ever had appeared recently after our latest tour in November, where the reviewer came along expecting to hate us (because of the Made In Chelsea connection). As the review read on, he said he was completely and utterly was won over. Job done.
One of the most exciting things to happen to you this year was to be featured on the E4 reality drama Made in Chelsea, and then you played a sold-out show related to the franchise. Tell us about this?
We got a call from the Music producer of the show asking if we’d be up for being on the show. We’d already been played in the background a bit on Made in Chelsea and it had been giving us such great exposure. The show prides itself on showcasing the best new music out there, alongside some incredible established bands. Throughout the rest of 2013, we have been building the foundations of an amazing fan base, touring in the summer and releasing more music. We were asked to headline a gig that would be streamed on 4OD called ‘Played in Chelsea’ for the show. The venue was called ‘Under the Bridge’ at Chelsea FC’s ground. I’ve been a huge Chelsea fan all my life, so it was a great excuse to get to the bridge.
So word on the street is your debut album will be released on BMG/Chrysalis next year. What can you tell us about it? Have you decided on a title yet?
The album is completely finished and now we’re focusing on the artwork and everything to go round it. The album is sounding absolutely perfect and the producer we worked with – Dan Grech (Tom Odell, The Vaccines, Lana Del Rey) – really has bought the best out of us. Unlike previous recording sessions, we didn’t walk into the studio and record what we played live. We completely stripped every song apart and put a lot of thought into it all, therefore allowing all 11 songs to flourish. The album isn’t a concept album, neither a vehicle for singles; to us, it’s just 11 strong songs showcasing what we do. We have the title name in the bag… I just can’t tell you yet.
You’ve got an epic, epic hairdo. What is your secret for such good-looking hair? (See photo above for proof.)
Thanks, haha. There is nothing special that I do to create this. I literally wake up, shower and go. There’s the obligatory trip to the barbers to get grade 0.5 on the sides once a month as well.
What exciting things are you all up to this holiday season?
As a band we hate being quiet, we want to be kept busy every second of the day so we’ve scheduled some sessions over the Christmas period. One session in particular we’re performing is a weird version of’ Drink Dance Play’, with 4 old school Casio keyboards for SBTV. We’ve also just released a cover we made for a compilation album. We recorded the cover in 1 day, running back and forth between the two studios in Shoreditch. We chose to cover Boy Meets Girls’ ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’, as the criteria was ‘Eighties love’. It’s a complete ’80s guilty pleasure, go check it out. Other than this, we will have to take it easy before the New Year kicks in, maybe get a bit of writing in and start a bit for the next album. 2013 has been amazing for us and we’re very grateful, but we’re not stopping now.
Thanks very much to Tommy for answering all my questions! And stay tuned, folks, we have his answers to the TGTF Quickfire Questions for you tomorrow.
It seems the theme of my entries in the 10 for 2014 final list revolve around youth; in at #3 on the list are The Orielles, never heard of them? Probably since as of late November, they changed their name from The Oreoh!s – perhaps to avoid confusion with that delectable twisty chocolate biscuit. They are biscuits, right? None of that Jaffa Cake-esque WHAT ARE YOU IDENTITY CRISES?
Enough on a name though, as it’s inconsequential to the bountiful surf-pop bliss that the Orielles have brought forth. And no I don’t mean The Drums, mark 2. Neither are they The Beach Boys reincarnate. We’ve got diminutive sisters Esme and Sid Hand-Halford on bass and drums, respectively, and Henry Wade on guitar. They’re no older than 17, and yet they’ve already had audiences questioning how they got in without ID. It’s also testament to their talent, even at this young age, that they’re being applauded like crazy at festivals like when we discovered them at Liverpool Sound City this year performing at midnight and supporting bands like TGTF favourites The Crookes and The Lovely Eggs.
At such a young age, I was still coming out of my dad-rock phase, where I just listened to whatever my old man had on the car speakers; I’m talking Jamiroquai, Queen and Led Zep, so hardly a bad choice. But The Orielles are showing a maturity of their own and the big wide world has recognised this growing talent, already garnering spins on none other than Steve Lamacq’s show on BBC 6Music.
Barely 17! I mean, Christ, the maturity they are showing with just their instruments is phenomenal: Kaye’s guitar solo on ‘Deduce’ is mystifying, and the songwriting speaks volumes. I mean, how bloody good are these kids going to be when they hit their A-Levels? The introduction to ‘Midnight in Paris’ is testament to their talents, transporting you via accordion to a starry night on the Champs-Élysées, with a twinkling xylophone and majestic harmonies. It’s spectacular.
We told ya first, guys, The Orielles. They’re something special.
Sheffield’s High Hazels have been a favorite here at TGTF since we first featured them in this Bands to Watch back in July. They played four shows at this summer’s Tramlines Festival as part of a growing number of up-and-coming Sheffield bands whose sound hinges on catchy guitar melodies and heart-wrenchingly romantic lyrics.
Going back to the end of 2012, High Hazels have had a productive year, winning the attention of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and the BBC’s Steve Lamacq. They were featured in Sheffield’s Exposed magazine in February 2013 as part of that publication’s In Session series. (Check out the band’s YouTube page to see videos from that session.) Then, in July, just around the time of Tramlines, High Hazels signed with indie record label Heist or Hit Records, who coordinated the release of debut single ‘Hearts Are Breaking’ (reviewed by Mary here). In September, ‘Hearts Are Breaking’ won a coveted spot on Lamacq’s BBC 6Music Rebel Playlist, ahead of its official release on the 7th of October.
According to an interview Mary did with High Hazels frontman James Leesley, the band have been working together for a number of years, perfecting their craft before presenting their work to an already growing legion of fans. While the similarities with local contemporaries such as Arctic Monkeys and The Crookes are readily apparent, High Hazels reveal the softer side of Sheffield. Songs ‘Five Weirs’ and ‘Loose Stitches’ in particular call to mind the sound of Simon & Garfunkel, which Leesley cites as a major influence in the band’s songwriting. ‘French Rue’, the track initially heralded on Lamacq’s radio show, is a nostalgic, slow-burning rumination on heartache, which carries over into the poignantly wintery ‘Hearts Are Breaking’. Leesley’s smooth, evenly measured singing voice is perfectly suited for the subtle yet palpable sentimentality of the lyrics, but it’s the shimmering guitar riffs that will echo in your ears to begin 2014.
By Mary Chang on Monday, 9th December 2013 at 3:00 pm
Beatnik Geek Records is an independent record label located 15 miles from London. Formed in 2006, their aim is “to cultivate a self-sustainable business through which artists can release the best records they can possibly produce”. Focusing on bands and individuals who they can work with as a team, Beatnik Geek Records have been very lucky to be working with artists who buy into this methodology and are willing to help the label by working together with them to produce their music, to then give these acts the best possible chance of success.
We’ve featured some of Beatnik Geek’s bands on TGTF, and we were so pleased when they offered to give us the debut albums of four of their acts, Van Susans, Keston Cobblers’ Club, The Lightwings and Melic (pictured at top), so we could in turn give them to a lucky TGTF reader. Whoever wins this treasure trove of four albums will have plenty of music to entertain them and their loved ones during this holiday season and for days to come. To give you a bit more information on the bands and their releases:
Van Susans – ‘Paused in the Moment’
The Bromley band’s debut was released in 2012, but we recently gave away their latest single, which was a reworked version of the album track ‘Served Cold’. This year the band supported Little Comets at a charity gig in Manchester and played festivals such as Lounge on the Farm, Crystal Palace Garden Party, Victorious in Portsmouth and Galtres Parklands Festival.
Keston Cobblers’ Club – ‘One, for Words’
Their debut was released in 2012, but they haven’t stopped moving since, having graced Glasto, Green Man and Larmer Tree festivals and also made radio appearances with Bob Harris on Radio 2 and Steve Lamacq on 6music. In June 2013, they released the ‘A Scene of Plenty’ EP.
The Lightwings - ‘Sleeping is Not for Dreamers’
Their debut came out this year but songs from it have already been nicked for the Louise Brealey indie film already making the film festival rounds, Delicious.
Melic – ‘An Hour to Anywhere’
Our Ben caught the band at their launch party for their debut album back in the summer. Despite being a relatively new band in town, they’ve already played high-profile shows at London Koko and Islington Academy, as well as International Pop Overthrow Liverpool, Cornbury, and Southern Sounds festivals.
Want to win? Fill out the contest form below with your full name and your email address. Next, we want to be sure you’re not a robot, so correctly answer this question: what country do Melic originally hail from? Get your entries in by noon British time on Thursday the 12th of December. We’ll choose a winner from all the correct entries received then. Good luck! Please note: this contest is open to UK residents only, as the prize will be posted. To make this fair for everyone, all duplicate entries will be discarded.
Flyte are a four-piece, arch guitar-pop band from Hackney, and, in common with most of our 10 for 2014 bands, are early in their career and as such have recorded only a handful of songs. However, one of those songs is ‘Over And Out’, a piece of guitar pop so perfect that it could be the pinnacle of many a band’s career. That it’s the first track on their first EP speaks volumes about Flyte’s potential. For 3 minutes, it sits cross-legged in your eardrums, tickling them with jauntily-twanged guitars, Will Taylor’s characteristically piping, crisply-enunciated voice, and one of the finest chord shifts in music – minor IV to major VII. Stylistically, we’re talking crisp, white-boy funk, straight outta 1983, perhaps with a bit of ’90s college radio blended in there for good measure. As an example of just how well these boys can play, check out this Portobello Road video. ‘Over And Out’ starts 6 minutes in, and if anything the song sounds better stripped down, the live close harmony vocals shining through. An impeccable, thrilling performance.
Elsewhere on their ‘Live’ EP, Flyte are still quite happy in ’80s-land but this time, the synths are out, washing and squelching away as if played by Kavinsky himself. There’s a pre-chorus which could justifiably be called epic, and a brilliantly understated chorus. The recording is a delicious mixture of subtle detail and an ambitious, soaring arrangement: these guys really can play. And they’ve genuinely only just got started on their musical career, with only a handful of gigs to their name, a handful of recorded songs, and enormous untapped potential. Without doubt, one to watch for 2014.