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Video of the Moment #2274: Syd Arthur

By on Sunday, 29th January 2017 at 10:00 am

Canterbury’s Syd Arthur released their latest album ‘Apricity’ last autumn. You can read Carrie’s review of the LP through here. They’ve readied a new single from the record, ‘No Peace’, which now has its own music video. Of the song, frontman Liam McGill, whom Carrie interviewed around the time of the album’s release, says of the song:

“‘No Peace’ is about information overload. We set out to write an inviting song with a message we can all relate to, a reminder to put down that screen down once in a while and experience something more real. The video’s colour pallette is orange and grey reflecting the album artwork. The imagery was inspired by social media and the incessant objects that surround our modern existence. Visually we wanted it to have a minimilistic and clean look but with added glitch and static to resemble the organised yet chaotic nature of the world.”

Food for thought. Watch the music video for ‘No Peace’ below. To read more of TGTF’s coverage on Syd Arthur, follow this link.



Album Review: Syd Arthur – Apricity

By on Tuesday, 29th November 2016 at 12:00 pm

Syd Arthur Apricity album cover‘Apricity’ is apparently an obsolete word that means ‘warmth of the sun’. A band such as Syd Arthur are one of the only groups who could so easily find a word such as this to describe their new album with such perfection. ‘Apricity’ is also the fourth album from the Canterbury foursome and is the perfect counter to the forthcoming winter. From the get-go of opener ‘Coal Mine’, it becomes clear that this is a band who isn’t messing around. The song begins with a riff that hauls you in but then falls away to a delicate offering of guitar, only to then be turned into a soulful number, with dressings of jazz and psychedelia.

With so much action happening from the start, you begin to understand ‘Apricity’ wasn’t made for you to simply listen to in the background, it demands your presence for the entire listen. With so much happening all of the time, it’s easy to get lost within and to let the music consume you: from the violin that sits atop the standard instrumentation, the licks of guitar that cut through and piano that thickens the mix, it’s a full time job trying to catch everything going on and it’s never been more fun to do so.

Next up is ‘Plane Crash In Kansas’. Although its name is not a particularly happy one, the soulful summer vibes are in abundance. The chorus follows the set melody we’re greeted with in the beginnng but it takes it into minor territory, showing that melody and melancholy can indeed go hand in hand. ’No Peace’ opts for the less direct approach by having no real memorable riff, letting the track flow on its own. An urgent downward-picking guitar gives a slight edge to the repetitive chorus, and the song finally leaves us with a crescendo of swirling violin that draws the chorus back in. When ‘Sun Rays’ hits, you’re met with a couple of bars of urgent drums greet the less-than-so melody that everything else follows with complete dedication. Certainly not done in the most exciting way, but the tune has a flow that just captures you.


Halfway point and longest cut ‘Into Eternity’ forgoes all the previous urgency or immediate atmosphere, instead letting everything build into a minor frenzy of searching guitar licks that move into an instrument-wide uniform melody. This methods is carried on until a leap into a guitar solo that doesn’t yearn so much for attention but to gracefully meet everything else around it. Not quite feeling as grandiose as it quite should, this outro could have a bit more attack to it to make the second half of the record arrive with more bite.

Nonetheless, the second half arrives and with it comes slightly more urgency. ‘Rebel Lands’ houses a mildly erratic rhythm section, while the more serene layers above use this to their advantage, occasionally meeting and surpassing it, but more or less using it to accentuate their gracefulness. It’s on ‘Seraphim’ where we’re finally given a chorus with some bite, leaving the verses to act as building blocks. The guitars once again bring the memorable melody, while the rhythm section goes for a more resolute pounding approach, sitting way below the higher sections of the musical spectrum. It’s the outro, however, where things get really interesting, falling away into a collapsing barrage of pounding drums and respectable but wantonly searing guitar.

Following this, ‘Portal’ lets the often masked electronic instrumentation take the front seat. The song truly approaches the psychedelic side of music with its falling sounds that appear from nowhere and the repetitive nature of everything else helping them along. Being the only instrumental number on the album, it does a supremely good job at holding your attention, never waning into boring or obsolete, instead going forward with aplomb and grace. Things get full-on weird with ‘Evolution’, another electronic-heavy track, experimentats with effects to create a soundscape that isn’t directly as pleasing as those that came before it, but it still manages to have an attraction of sorts.

Finale and title track, ‘Apricity’ brings things to a close with more immediate urgency, that is until it falls away just before the halfway mark. It’s here where it takes this chance to bring it all roaring back in exact repetition until it eventually runs its course and completely breaks off, leaving nothing but a shimmering melody. ‘Apricity’ the album is a listen that never feels like a chore. Syd Arthur truly are a band that bring both fun and intrigue to the music they create.


‘Apricity’, Syd Arthur’s newest album, is out now on Communion (UK) / Harvest Records (North America). You can catch up on Carrie’s interview with frontman Liam McGill back here. For much more on Syd Arthur on TGTF, follow this link.



Interview: Liam Magill of Syd Arthur (Part 2)

By on Thursday, 15th September 2016 at 11:00 am

If you missed part 1 of TGTF’s interview with Syd Arthur frontman Liam Magill, you can find it right back here.

Syd Arthur‘s current opening slot for Jake Bugg‘s North American tour doesn’t afford them the luxury of much time on stage at the moment, but Magill says the band are trying to play a mix of songs from their 2012 debut LP ‘On an On’ and 2014’s ‘Sound Mirror’ along with the new ones. “It’s kind of like half and half, because we’ve got three records to dip into, and lots of material we can chop and change and make different sets up as we go. So we’re experimenting and trying the new stuff out, as well as playing older songs. Sometimes it can be short with an opening slot, but we’ve got like 45 minutes, so there are sections that are open where we can freak out and jam out and stuff. It’s fun to do that every night, you know, and keep it a bit free like that”.


The band sound remarkably clean and tight on the first three singles from ‘Apricity’, especially considering that they’ve recently had a major change in their lineup. Drummer Fred Rother was forced to step away from Syd Arthur before they started recording the new album, due to severe hearing difficulties. Rother is replaced on the album and in the band’s live setup by Josh Magill, sibling to Liam and bass player Joel. “It was a precarious moment, Fred leaving, but Josh sort of saved the day, in a way. The transition was slightly difficult because we’ve been a tight band, you know, us four members, for a long time. That was a big change, and it seeps into the music of this new record and informs the new record, because Josh is obviously on this new album. It’s a different style of rhythm and he’s a different drummer.”

Raven Bush is Syd Arthur’s resident multi-instrumentalist, and Magill says that he and the rest of the band used a broad sonic palette on ‘Apricity’. “There was lots of experimenting on these recordings, trying to get the best sound, and lots of stuff was done and ditched in trying to get to the best thing. Raven’s playing lots of keyboards, he’s playing mandolin, synthesizer, stuff like that.” In this context, Magill specifically mentions an instrumental track called ‘Portal’, which he describes as “quite hypnotic and expansive” before mentioning, a bit wistfully, that the track is “actually sort of like a dedication to Fred.”

For his part, Liam Magill seems happy to have another brother alongside him on tour. “[Josh] has been really good. He’s taking to the whole thing really well. He’s played [with us] before, and he had a band before, but he’s really gotten so involved now, and he’s playing so well. It’s worked out a treat. It can be good to have your brothers around. The joking and the banter is fun, you know, having some family on the road. [And] Raven’s been with us for a long time, we’re a big family. Bands are like that, bands are like a little family unit, you know.”

Touring across North America with Jake Bugg has been a valuable experience for the band as well, despite (or perhaps because of) the difference in style between Bugg and Syd Arthur. “He’s an interesting songwriter, he’s very mainstream”, says Magill. “But it’s about us getting that exposure across America [with] the people that he’s pulling in. It’s a business thing, in a way. But just watching him the last couple of nights, I’ve got a lot out of just seeing what he does. I’m not a massive fan, I wouldn’t go to a show of his, but I’m involved with it all now and it’s interesting. It’s not what you’d expect, necessarily, but it’s working. His fans are enjoying our music when we open up, and we’re enjoying him.”

Following the tour with Jake Bugg, Syd Arthur will return to England in October for a quick tour with Austin, Texas rock band White Denim. Magill describes White Denim as slightly more similar to his own band’s sound: “It’s guitar music, bluesy, rocking guitar music. They are like us, but I suppose we’re a bit more English, and we have a bit more sort of a jazz influence or something compared to them.” I suggest that it might not be possible to find an exact match to Syd Arthur’s unique blend of psychedelic-jazz-rock, and Magill laughs. “No, we’re a bit of an outsider band.”

The middle of October will find Syd Arthur embarking on their own headline tour of England and Ireland, which will extend into early November. The band will celebrate the release of ‘Apricity’ with a special album launch show on the 18th of November in their hometown of Canterbury.

I thank Liam for taking time out of his busy tour schedule to chat with me, and he ends the interview with a neat contextual twist. “It’s fine”, he says, “we just pulled over off the [highway], and I think the lads are having a drink while I’ve been sitting on a bench in the sunshine chatting with you, so it’s all good.” Be it summer sunshine in the States, or winter ‘Apricity’ back in England, both seem to suit Syd Arthur quite well.

Our thanks to Dan for coordinating this interview, and our best wishes to Fred as well.

Syd Arthur’s new album ‘Apricity’ is due out on the 21st of October on Communion (UK) / Harvest Records (North America). TGTF’s previous coverage of Syd Arthur can be found through this link.


Interview: Liam Magill of Syd Arthur (Part 1)

By on Wednesday, 14th September 2016 at 1:00 pm

It’s been a couple of years since we at TGTF last spoke with Canterbury rock band Syd Arthur. They made a lasting impression on me at SXSW 2014, where I saw them play the Harvest Records showcase along with Glass Animals and Arthur Beatrice. At the time of my last chat with the band, Syd Arthur were in the midst of the promotion cycle for their second album ‘Sound Mirror’ and had just finished an American tour with progressive rock band Yes.

Now, a bit more than two years later, Syd Arthur are back in America, touring through the end of September with singer/songwriter Jake Bugg. They’re also anticipating the release of a new album, their third, titled ‘Apricity’, due out on the 21st of October. Syd Arthur played shows along the U.S. West Coast at the end of last week, and I had the rare opportunity to do a phone interview with the UK band while they were in the same time zone as myself. I caught the members of Syd Arthur at a stop along the road “somewhere between Seattle and Portland” last Friday afternoon, and though they were between gigs, lead singer and guitarist Liam Magill graciously agreed to have a chat with me while his bandmates took a break for refreshments.

Magill revealed straightaway that Syd Arthur had a brand new single released that very day, a groove-oriented track called ‘No Peace’. ‘No Peace’ is the third single from ‘Apricity’, following ‘Sun Rays’ and the album’s title track. I wondered about the sleek, vaguely pop-leaning sound of the three new songs from a band who have often been described as “psychedelic” and “progressive”, but Magill says it’s not really a new approach. “It’s always been a part of something we’ve tried to do”, he says. “We’ve always tried to streamline and condense lots [of sounds] into a small thing. I guess this is just more of that sort of thing going on. But when you hear the whole album, there are expansive tunes on there. And when we’re playing live, we can open them up and do more expansive stuff with them in the live setting as well.”

The full album ‘Apricity’ might be expansive, musically speaking, but its title is quite specific. In case you haven’t yet consulted your dictionary on the matter, the word ‘apricity’ refers to the warmth of the sun in wintertime. “It’s a curious word,” Magill muses. “It’s like the feeling that you sometimes get, feeling the warmth of the sun in the winter. We were feeling [that] here and there, writing the record and tracking the record. We didn’t know the word at the time, we just knew that feeling.” He says they happened upon the name when band member Raven Bush’s girlfriend gave voice to the feeling. “Raven’s girlfriend is quite a wordy person, and she told us the word, and we liked the concept and the word itself, so we decided to use that.”


Eponymous album track ‘Apricity’ has been waiting even longer for a title, and Magill’s explanation turns into a discussion of Syd Arthur’s fluid songwriting approach. “That’s an old song, but it was reworked several times up until it becoming the ‘Apricity’ song on our record. A lot of the time, the music’s been written first and the lyrics will be added in. Or there’ll be some music that won’t have any words associated with it for a while, you know, and then all of a sudden the words fall into place. Sometimes I’ll have a title, and just that one word or two words will springboard a whole tune. Often there’s words that just appear as the music’s being written, and they cling, and then you add stuff to that and it all becomes clear. It all just comes together over time, really.”

Early album single ‘Sun Rays’ fits quite neatly into the ‘Apricity’ theme, but it also played nicely into the more summery vibe of TGTF’s July Spotify playlist. “It is a catchy tune, yeah”, Magill agrees. “It’s fun to play, and it connects well live. It’s quite powerful, and it feels quite modern and sort of supersonic, in a way. We’re enjoying playing that one, it’s fun.”

Stay tuned to TGTF for part 2 of this interview, which will post tomorrow. In the meantime, check back through our prior coverage of Syd Arthur right back here.


Syd Arthur / October and November 2016 English/Irish Tour

By on Wednesday, 14th September 2016 at 9:00 am

Canterbury psych-rock band Syd Arthur will play a list of live shows in England and Ireland later this autumn, around the release of their new LP ‘Apricity’. The album is due out on the 21st of October via Communion in the UK and Harvest Records in North America. You can take a listen to its third promo single ‘No Peace’ just below the tour date listing.

Syd Arthur are currently on tour in North America supporting Jake Bugg through the end of September. They will return to England to play a handful of shows with Austin, Texas rock band White Denim ahead of the headline dates listed below.  A full listing of Syd Arthur’s upcoming live dates, including their album launch in Canterbury on the 18th of November, can be found on their official Facebook. Tickets for the following list of shows are available now.

Stay tuned to TGTF in the coming days for more insight on ‘Apricity’ in our interview with Syd Arthur frontman Liam Magill. In the meantime, you can read through our past coverage of the band right back here.

Saturday 15th October 2016 – London Hackney Wonderland
Wednesday 26th October 2016 – Dublin Workman’s Club
Friday 28th October 2016 – Winchester Railway Inn
Saturday 29th October 2016 – Oxford Cellar
Sunday 30th October 2016 – Sheffield Harley
Monday 31st October 2016 – Newcastle Cluny
Tuesday 1st November 2016 – Birmingham Rainbow
Wednesday 2nd November 2016 – Guildford Boileroom
Thursday 3rd November 2016 – Brighton Patterns



Video of the Moment #2143: Syd Arthur

By on Wednesday, 20th July 2016 at 6:00 pm

I am a bit perturbed by the new Syd Arthur track. While I would never begrudge any band a summer hit, ‘Sun Rays’ seems less of the psychedelic ilk I recall from the Canterbury band. It feels more pop to me, so I guess more power to them?

Syd Arthur have got a new album, ‘Apricity’, up ahead this autumn, to drop on the 21st of October on Communion Records in the UK and Harvest Records in North America. Have a watch and listen (and a bit of a boogie too, I suppose) to their new ‘Sun Rays’ below. For more of our coverage of the group on TGTF, go here.



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