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It would be a lie to say the calm before the storm that is a Brother and Bones gig is, technically, ‘calm’: it’s more of a shuffle for the first-timers to get as close to the speakers as possible, ready to get their ears blitzed by a pounding aural-assault, and a hive of seasoned fans standing just far enough back that they’ll enjoy the gig without losing the bits of their ears that are, well, important.
Before the Southern five-piece take to the rather small stage at The Bodega (no cloakroom; yes, I’m bitter, I had a fucking massive bag), we were treated to local two-piece Noah, whose harmonies were quite beautiful. The only gripe I would have is that their cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, sadly, was of the same quality as Bastille’s cover of Corona’s ‘Rhythm of the Night’ and conjured in me the same levels of rage and disdain.
So I’ve decided to ignore this obvious crowd pleaser and focus instead on the double’s spellbinding vocals and brilliant storytelling. Their third song, a number about how guitarist Joe stopped a father from beating his son (true story, top man) was told ever so simply and Rebeka Whittle’s voice melted in a striking and soaring harmony that remained true to their minimalist sound. A few more original songs and no more covers and they’ll be headlining shows in Nottingham, no doubt – the talent is undeniably there. Plus, they both have that whole extremely good-looking vibe going on, which tends to help in the music industry, sorry Lauren Mayberry from CHVRCHES.
Which brings me on to a conversation I had before the gig, with Richard Thomas from the headline act Brother and Bones and my compatriot for the night Alex Foxley-Johnson, where we ended up on the situation that Brother and Bones are in: a band with a fantastic underground following, a brilliant mix of carefully put together songs and yet they remain unsigned. Richard says “you’ve pretty much got to be pre-packaged these days” “Should he start twerking?”, I jest. Because falling short of taking part in the newest and grimmest dance craze, it’s difficult to see what else Brother and Bones can do to get themselves noticed.
Surely, they are the full package: a talented, charismatic and ridiculously vocally-gifted frontman, a band of brilliantly experimental musicians who aren’t afraid to push boundaries and who create one hell of a racket when they perform and a gaggle of tunes able to bring any room / festival / audience to their knees, ranging from the staggeringly poignant ‘Gold and Silver’ to the room-shaking beauty of ‘Don’t Forget to Pray’.
Somehow though, Monday’s audience were rather unreceptive to the pure showmanship of Thomas et al. The best reaction it seemed was from a small section of ladies in the middle, who later turned out to be half of the England Women’s Cricket Team, with one of the team taking to Twitter to voice her disdain for the fact the band are not signed. Even with a lethargic crowd, doing their best to suck most of the enthusiasm out of the lively Southern lads, Brother and Bones still managed to produce an ear drum pounding wall of sound. Their set was a showcase to their maturity as well, opening with their some of their most raucous barnstormers and finishing off with a majestic cover of the Black Crowes’ ‘She Talks to Angels’.
It would be lazy to say the Monday night audience were entirely responsible for the sense of lethargy in the crowd; Brother and Bones were putting their blood and grit in to the evening’s set and deserved a better response. They certainly showed why they are still one of the best live acts in the UK at the moment. Catch them, and for god’s sake it’s not a criminal offence to sing along on a Monday evening after work. You showed ’em, cricketers…
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 29th November 2013 at 4:00 pm
Oxford group Wild Swim have revealed a video from an intimate secret performance in London they did for Sofar Sounds in October. In this video, they play new song ‘Too Late’ in a stripped back way while being surrounded by their adoring fans. Watch it below.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 29th November 2013 at 11:00 am
The music business is a hard one. In recent years, we’ve seen the decline of record sales and record shops closing as an unfortunate consequence of music piracy. This has hurt bands and the industry as a whole. So it’s all the more important that we support some of the most important unsung heroes of music: independent music venues.
These places where we go to worship our musical heroes might not physically be as massive as those larger, sponsor-backed venues (you know which ones I’m talking about) but independently-owned, small- and medium-sized venues far exceed those behemoths in heart. They act as meeting places for culture, where the local community can come together and watch up and coming artists just starting out, and gigs there often serve as significant milestones for musicians and fans alike. But just like other sectors of the music industry, these smaller places to see music are struggling in this economy, and we are losing some of the most historic, important places of our musical heritage. So it’s high time we gave independent music venues the credit they deserve.
The inaugural 6-day event Independent Venue Week 2014, already receiving support from PRS and BBC Introducing, will boast a blinding assortment of amazing shows at 18 independent venues across Britain. Drowned in Sound, Moshi Moshi Records, Domino Records, The Musicians Union and UK Music have already pledged their involvement in the event as well. Jo Dipple of UK Music said of Independent Music Week:
Our great musical heritage is what defines us as a country and UK Music is fully committed to supporting venues large and small. Live music is the backbone of this country; from the Cavern Club to the Leadmill we have some of the most interesting venues in the world and it’s great to see them among those being celebrated as part of Independent Venue Week.
Venues confirmed for the 6-day event include Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach in Wales (celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013), Belfast Oh Yeah Centre in Northern Ireland, Glasgow King Tut’s in Scotland, Bristol Louisiana, Guildford Boileroom, Leeds Library, Liverpool Zanzibar, London Putney Half Moon pub, Manchester Soup Kitchen, Newcastle Cluny, Norwich Art Centre, Oxford Jericho, Plymouth Tiki Bar, Stoke Sugarmill (celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013), Southampton Joiners (celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2013), Sheffield Leadmill, Tunbridge Wells Forum (celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013) and York Fibbers. Drummer Philip Selway of Radiohead fondly recalls The Jericho’s importance in their band’s history:
Small venues are the lifeblood of British music. When you start out as a band, you aspire to playing in your local venue and feel a sense of achievement when you get a gig there. In Oxford, we grew up wanting to play at The Jericho Tavern, and were lucky enough to be signed after one of our shows there.
We’ve been lucky enough to have covered shows at many of these places, and we’re chuffed they’ll be participating in Independent Venue Week in 2014. Specific dates, locations and line-ups will be announced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. But we’re already excited about this new event to celebrate our favourite places to see live bands.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 27th November 2013 at 4:00 pm
Christmas is less than a month away now, so I hope you’ve already started your gift shopping. So it’s high time to get in the holiday mood, shall we? Sporting their Movember moustaches, Kodaline, in collaboration with Vodafone, have released this holiday-themed video soundtracked by their mega hit ‘All I Want’. Watch it below.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 26th November 2013 at 4:00 pm
Lower Than Atlantis turned up for the last date of this year’s Dr. Martens’ #STANDFORSOMETHING Tour, stopping in Nottingham earlier this month. At Spanky Van Dykes (what’s a name for a venue, eh?) on Goldsmith Road in Notts, the band held court in front of a raucous group of punters and played fan favourite ‘Deadliest Catch’. Watch it below.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 25th November 2013 at 4:00 pm
Fenech-Soler just finished up a massive UK tour last week. In case you missed them – or maybe you’re just itching to get more Fenech – here is a great performance of ‘Somebody’, from the band’s current album ‘Rituals’, by the brothers Duffy – Ben on vocals and piano and Ross on backing vocals and guitar – recorded and filmed at The Bridge, a writing studio in Southwark related to the famed Miloco Studios. Atmospheric? Check. Beautiful? Check. Watch the in-studio performance below.
The latest single from Fenech-Soler, ‘In Our Blood’, was released today and you can watch the promo video for the single here.
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