Author: Newbootsnorthants

Album review: Maps

MAPS Colours.Reflect.Time.Loss [Mute] James Chapman, aka Maps, is an East Northamptonshire songwriter, producer and remixer. He started his electronic shoegaze efforts back in 2004, and he was picked up by…

MAPS
Colours.Reflect.Time.Loss
[Mute]

James Chapman, aka Maps, is an East Northamptonshire songwriter, producer and remixer. He started his electronic shoegaze efforts back in 2004, and he was picked up by Mute Records. His 2007 debut album We Can Create was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. These basic facts are worth restating, as one suspects that most folk under 30 in Northants would probably not be au fait with his output. Which is understandable: he’s an outskirts type of guy after all, not a fame-hungry media whore.

Now on to his fourth album, Chapman has substantially rethought his usual working process [i.e. sitting in his bedroom, endlessly tinkering] and brought in a whole range of outside players, most notably Berlin’s Echo Collective, to help with strings and things. A more collaborative approach has bought its just rewards, as this is easily his most engaging work since that leftfield debut that took the Earls Barton boy on a quite remarkable journey around the world.

The album immediately brings to mind fellow Midlanders Spiritualized, mixing the ethereal psychedelic rushes he’s always conjured from his synths and guitars, but adding the warmth of brass and a drummer [Matt Kelly] who’s loud enough in the mix to push everything eternally onwards in propulsion. The sound is a natural progression of the previous album’s approach – it’s still unmistakably Maps, right from the breathless vocals of ‘Surveil’ that kicks things off. Maps has always been about miniature symphonic pop songs, but experimenting with the form. The songs are more suites, and Chapman rarely goes for the jugular. However ‘Both Sides’ here has enough accessibility to actually be a radio hit. ‘Howl Around’ is the sound of an animal trying to escape a cage, elegantly. ‘Wildfire’ captures a very specific emotional state that is both simultaneously euphoric and melancholic. You might need a lie down after hearing it.

Such heightened themes continue throughout, and unlike most modern albums there’s no flagging towards the end. ‘Just Reflecting’ is as huge as the buildings in the accompanying video [see below]. ‘She Sang To Me’ shows he can be more serene, sedate; bucolic even. Wait for the closing ‘You Exist In Everything’: with it’s sci-fi other-worldliness it could be the soundtrack to a peculiarly English documentary film on BBC Four. Certainly it’s splendour deserves quadraphonic speakers, not tinny smartphone devices.

Colours.Reflect.Time.Loss is as bold, grand, and wholly sparkling with ideas as you could hope for. It’s great to have him back.

Phil Moore

 

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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide May 29th – Jun 4th

THE EVIL USSES + JEANA Thursday May 30th The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton The headliners are a Bristol-based four piece playing “rocky not-jazz, jazzy not-rock, and post-op pop”. Support from MK feel-good…

THE EVIL USSES + JEANA
Thursday May 30th
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
The headliners are a Bristol-based four piece playing “rocky not-jazz, jazzy not-rock, and post-op pop”. Support from MK feel-good alt-pop [and produced in ShoeTown by Ginger Snaps]. Doors 8pm, free entry

BISONS + VELVET ENGINE
Friday May 31st
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
A new gritty and groovy ShoeTown band consisting of Gregg Cave, Wes Manning, Duncan Coverdale, Kev Cox and Brendan O’Neil. Support from talented local singer-songwriter. Doors 8pm, free entry

KELLY JANE
Friday May 31st
The Hopmaster General, Rushden
Upbeat powerful soul-pop sounds, delivered with summer vibes. Music at 8.30pm, free entry

KRANKHEAD + L30 ROBINSON + POETIC HORROR + KIAO + XOV
Saturday June 1st
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
A big party with a soundtrack provided by the loosely-defined ‘NN808 Collective’, made up of upcoming artists within the NN hip-hop/electronic music scene. Doors 8pm, free entry

WISHING WOLF + DEAD RESTLESS + GET YOUR HEAD STRAIGHT
Saturday June 1st
The Prince Of Wales, Kettering
Violet Fire album release show from the KTown pop-punkers. Support from similarly-inclined acts from ShoeTown and MK. Doors 7pm, free

REAPER X + FETUS DESTRUCTION + THE KANZ + FUELED HATE
Saturday June 1st
Raffs Bar, Wellingborough
Bloodstock Festival’s Metal 2 The Masses gives unsigned acts the chance to play the New Blood Stage at the Festival. This is heat 5. Doors 6pm, £5 tickets

NINA HARRIES
Sunday June 2nd
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
Inventive grooves and experimental sounds accompany Nina’s revelatory songwriting, which utilises her unique voice and double bass playing. Fact: Nina studied classical double bass at the Royal College of Music. 9pm, free entry

 

 

 

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Album review: Wishing Wolf

WISHING WOLF Violet Fire [self-released] I really enjoyed Wishing Wolf’s self-titled debut album [from 2016], so I was a little worried when their new effort landed in my hands. As…

WISHING WOLF
Violet Fire
[self-released]

I really enjoyed Wishing Wolf’s self-titled debut album [from 2016], so I was a little worried when their new effort landed in my hands. As in such cases I wondered if their new effort would live up to the expectations raised by its predecessor. No fear, because their sophomore long player Violet Fire hasn’t tinkered with the bands formula too much, but it’s immediately obvious Wishing Wolf have matured as both musicians and songwriters. The riffs and lyrics that echo throughout ensures their latest opus hangs together as a cohesive whole.

Cascading guitars are a motif that recur throughout Violet Fire and here, on the quiet storm that is album opener ‘Endless’, they frame an apologetic, beseeching telephone message. The vulnerability of the words spoken create a rather ominous tone and provides a nice foil for next track ‘Stardust’. In complete juxtaposition it fairly races out of the blocks with pedal firmly to the floor. However Wishing Wolf are a band who employ a lot of light and shade, even on a track like ‘Stardust’ there are brief, almost ambient, interludes which only serve to make the faster passages more frenetic.

Drawing influence from artists like My Chemical Romance and The Used there’s, perhaps understandably, a definite American flavour to Violet Fire, but it’s more in homage than any nefarious copycatting. ‘White Rose’ is permeated with intricate guitar lines which intertwine with six stringers Ben and Kyle firing off each other. Evidently the band have spent a lot of time on achieving just the right tone for their instruments and this is complemented by vocalist Danny who, with a nod to his Stateside influences, uses his larynx like an instrument, rising in octaves at will to complement the dissonant melodies of the guitarists. This is most notable on next cut ‘Closer’, as ethereal guitars swirl, with the vocals delivered somewhere between the defiant and self-effacing. But the dynamics are again evident in the conflict of soft and loud passages.

It’s definitely an album of two halves; perceptive listeners will note a change from ‘The Last Time I walked You Home’ onwards, as the high octane fuel that powered the early cuts is supplemented by something more emotive. Sure the majestic title track contains a chugging riff but it’s tempered by a reflective tone that dominates the second half of the album. Not only is there a shift musically but also in the confessional lyrics of ‘Only Nightmares’, a truly epic track that finds the band flexing their musical chops over seven minutes. Bringing things full circle is final cut ‘Black Beauty’, which connects with the phone message of opener ‘Endless’ but lyrically ‘Black Beauty’ counterpoints the “white ghost” mentioned in ‘Only Nightmares’. It’s these dots that join throughout which makes Violet Fire such a rewarding listen on each subsequent spin.

Wishing Wolf are the kind of band with a mélange of influences as nu metal and punk elements rub shoulders with indie rock intention that owes much to the current mid-90s-emo revival. While these disparate prepossessions could leave Wishing Wolf in a kind of musical limbo what holds Violet Fire together is a strong song (and dare I say pop) sensibility that underpins the album. Even at their most sombre the songs contained herein are real earworms that’ll haunt you for days. In the genre of alternative rock that’s a rarity, and something worth celebrating.

Peter Dennis

Violet Fire is out May 29th; order below via Bandcamp

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New Music Friday: Amii Dawes

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New…

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New Boots had to take five with her. Kettle on then…

How did you start on this path? You’ve been writing songs since 12, is that right?
Yes, I started at age 12. I found it really difficult when my Grandad passed away and writing poetry and short stories was the only way that I could deal with stuff. My Grandad was obsessed with those home shopping channels and he once bought a Yamaha keyboard, and he would sit me down and try to teach me Beatles songs on it. He left the keyboard to me when he passed away, and I wrote my first ever song called ‘Here With Me’. I still use that keyboard to this day.

You’ve been in bands too, could you tell us a bit about that part of your history?
I joined my first band called Light Factory when I was about 16/17, I wrote most of the songs and we had a much more fun/pop vibe than the stuff I make now. Then I was in OhBoy! and we made mostly noisy pop stuff. We got to do some really cool things in that band; we played Maida Vale and got to perform at some amazing festivals like 2,000 Trees.

How would you describe your sound?
I really don’t know how to describe my current sound if I’m honest. I think I’ve always wanted to write in different genres, but got nervous so in the past I tended to stick to the more comfortable acoustic folksy kind of vibe. Now I feel like I’ve found my style a little bit more, so I’m experimenting with different styles and taking inspiration from the music I listen to, which is literally a bit of everything. My main influence has always been Joni Mitchell, I happen to think she’s the greatest songwriter of all time and has done everything from acoustic folk to jazz to soft rock and beyond, I think she’s incredible. I’m also a massive Beatles fan. And Annie Lennox. And Simon & Garfunkel. And pretty much anyone that has ever written a song that I’ve listened to.

You put an album out in 2015. How was that experience? How it been easy to follow it up with writing and recording new material?
Recording and releasing Little Blue Book was such a great experience. Before that I had recorded one EP which I mainly used to just sell hard copies of at gigs and things. To have a collection of songs that I’d put my heart and soul into out there in the open for everyone to listen to if they wanted was a lovely feeling. I took a little hiatus from recording but was still very active musically with bands, writing and gigs. I did a tour of Europe in 2017 and when I returned from that I knew that the next thing I recorded had to top anything I’ve done before, so I definitely didn’t want to rush into anything just for the sake of it.

Tell us everything about this new song, ‘Filthy’.
The new single ‘Filthy’ is, I think, one of the best songs I’ve written to date. As a kid I was always a little bit strange and little bit of a geek. I used to think that that was a bad thing, but in the last couple of years have really come to terms with the fact that it’s what makes me who I am, and I’m now really proud of it. The song is basically about celebrating everything that makes us different, and that if we were all the same the world would be a pretty boring place.
The song was recorded at The Animal Farm, which is an independent record label based in London that I’ve been working with for about a year now. I sent them a demo of the song and they really liked it, so they took me under their wing and helped me to turn it into what it is now. I sing all the vocals on the song and play guitar, and the Leppanen brothers from The Animal Farm play bass, drums and electric guitar.

There’s a nice video to accompany it.
I’m so proud of the music video. The idea of the song is celebrating people for their differences and the video shows that too. I wanted a really simple idea for the video, just a bunch of people stood in front of a camera showing their natural reactions to every day things. It really shows off the people at their best, with no fancy lighting or camera trickery, just them being themselves. I also got to direct the video which was great fun and it was shot and edited by my very talented friend James Ryan.

Any Northamptonshire acts or people you wanna give a shout out to?
I play in Northampton all the time, I think our music scene is one of the best in the country but also one of the most underrated. There are so many people that I love here, but one of my favourites has to be Velvet Engine. We go back a few years now and I think she’s just fab! I also love working with anyone that is associated with the Umbrella Fair Organisation, I think they do great things not only for the music scene but for the community as a whole.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I pre-ordered Lewis Capaldi’s debut album just this morning, he’s got one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long time. Also Dermot Kennedy; I went to see him live the other day and he blew my mind.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I have a few more singles and videos coming out throughout this year which I really can’t wait for people to hear. I really do think that it’s my best work yet. I think things are heading in the right direction for me at the moment, so I just want to keep making the best music I can make, working with people that I admire and hopefully just keep on doing what I love to do.

 

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slowthai announces £5 UK tour, including Brixton Academy, pre-sale on now

Northampton man of the moment, slowthai, has announced five UK tour dates for autumn 2019, the pre-sale cost of which is just £5. The Nothing Great About Britain man played…

Northampton man of the moment, slowthai, has announced five UK tour dates for autumn 2019, the pre-sale cost of which is just £5.

The Nothing Great About Britain man played a low-key Northampton show last Friday at The Garibaldi Hotel to a packed and steamy room,  celebrating his debut album coming out. This “BET YA A £5ER” tour on the other hand is much grander. The dates are

SUN 13 OCT: Newcastle University Students Union, Newcastle
MON 14 OCT: SWG3 Studio Warehouse, Glasgow
WED 16 OCT: Manchester Academy 1, Manchester
THU 17 OCT: O2 Academy Bristol, Bristol
FRI 18 OCT: O2 Academy Brixton, London

£5 pre-sale tickets are here, and until Friday 9am. Good luck!

Cover image by David Jackson.

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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide May 22nd – May 28th

RUFUS GOODLOVE + BLACK SURF + ANDREW VAN GARRETT Thursday May 23rd The King Billy, Northampton Original trio of acts: anthemic rock from the Banbury man, rising London trio with…

RUFUS GOODLOVE + BLACK SURF + ANDREW VAN GARRETT
Thursday May 23rd
The King Billy, Northampton
Original trio of acts: anthemic rock from the Banbury man, rising London trio with hooks dangling everywhere, and alt-rock from Leicester. Music from 8.30pm, free entry

DEJA VEGA + CANDIDATES
Friday May 24th
The Lamplighter, Northampton
Manchester-based trio playing gritty, guitar led psychedelia that it first-rate. Support from MK indie rockers with a reputation for great songs and charisma. Doors 8pm, free entry

CAST
Friday May 24th
The Roadmender, Northampton
The Britpop veterans didn’t head off for long in 2001, reuniting to tour in 2010 and releasing album Troubled Times in 2012. Expect All Change classics and more. Doors 7.30pm  £25 tickets

ALL BETTER + BOXING DAY + TRAVERSE
Friday May 24th
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
Real Ghost Records special. Headliners from Brighton are a dirty pop trio with infectious melodies. Boxing Day are a five-piece pop punk band from Belgium. Openers are an indie punk band from Paris. Doors 8pm, free entry

THE DARKHORSE + BRING THE ONSLAUGHT + A TITAN, A DEITY + FACES OF EVE
Friday 24th May
Raffs Bar, Wellingborough
Bloodstock Festival’s Metal 2 The Masses gives unsigned acts the chance to play the New Blood Stage. Heat 4 brings bands from Aylesbury, Birmingham and Hertfordshire, as well as ShoeCounty. Doors 6pm, £5 tickets

PAPER STREET SOAP COMPANY
Friday May 24th
The Malt Shovel, Northampton
“The Pogues of the Midlands with a paddy punk twist”. Music from 8.30pm, free entry

DUFF PADDY
Friday May 24th
Bradden Village Hall, nr Towcester
An acoustic duo consisting of Paul Tuthill on accordion, bodhrán and vocals, and Paul Mitchell on guitar and vocals. They play a blend of modern and traditional acoustic music combining instrumentals with ballads, both covers and original material covering Celtic and Alt.Country/Americana styles. Doors 8pm, £12 tickets from 01327860800.

HUMAN LEATHER + CHESTBURSTER + HACK JOB + VOIDLURKER + MORI LUCRUM
Saturday May 25th
The Lab, Northampton
Raw bass punk noise from Brighton, thrash grind from Braintree, hardcore from Portsmouth, sludge doom from Birmingham, and noise drone from Kettering. Doors 6pm, £5 entry

HANNAH FAULKNER + CORINNE LUCY + TIM JON BROPHY + CAMERON GRACE
Saturday May 25th
The Shire Horse, Kettering
NI NI Sessions in Kettering, showcasing great NN singer-songwriters. 3pm til 6pm, free entry

JAYKAE
Sunday May 26th
The Loft Club, Kettering
One of the hottest names in the grime scene, from Birmingham, will play ‘Toothache’, ‘Moscow’, ‘Heartache’ and more. V.I.P packages/tables available. Doors 10pm, £7 tickets

DAN DAVIES + JOE WOOLLEY
Monday May 27th
The Lamplighter, Northampton
An evening of folk blues. Dan Davies is bassist for Wolf People, and He has recently finished recording his debut solo album. Guitarist and singer Joe Woolley has worked some seriously talented people, Bonnie Dobson, Tim Harries and Davy Graham, among others. He will mostly be performing material reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt and JS Bach. Music from 9pm, free entry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Music Friday: Empyre

Empyre are a Northants grunge/hard-rock band. Henrik Steenholdt  on vocals and guitar, Did Coles on lead guitar, Grant Hockley on bass, and Elliot Bale on drums. New single ‘Too Little…

Empyre are a Northants grunge/hard-rock band. Henrik Steenholdt  on vocals and guitar, Did Coles on lead guitar, Grant Hockley on bass, and Elliot Bale on drums. New single ‘Too Little Too Late’ has just come out the traps, and it’s enough of a beast for New Boots to go searching for more info.

How did you guys get together?
Did: Empyre really got started in 2016. Henrik and I were gigging in a busy covers band, and that naturally evolved into writing our own music. The original band relied on friends, who were for the most part session musicians. We realised we needed a dedicated line-up to move the band forward, and set off on the hunt for the right drummer and bassist. During that time we focused on the acoustic side of Empyre. Some of that acoustic duo activity you can find on our YouTube channel. We persevered with that hunt for some time, and have now solidified the four-piece format with Grant on bass and Elliot on drums, both of whom are also Northants based.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Henrik: Our music has been described as “atmospheric rock”, “contemporary rock”, “atheist rock”, “hard rock” and “the love child between Pink Floyd and Soundgarden”. We fuse the roots of rock’s tradition alongside some dark, introspective songwriting, but don’t expect dreary and depressing….expect intense, sometimes raw, sometimes anthemic rock. Exactly what the name of that music is we’re not sure anyone agrees on.
Did: We would site influences ranging from Seattle-era grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to rock heavyweights like the Foos, Guns’n’Roses and Audioslave. But each musician brings their own personal influences to the table, which shapes the band sound. For example Elliot loves Twenty One Pilots, Henrik is a huge fan of George Michael, Alter Bridge and Abba, Did loves modern country, instrumental rock and Taylor Swift, and Grant loves Tool, King’s X, and Faith No More. Varied, I think! As well as music we are influenced by the world around us. The forthcoming album has songs inspired by philosophical comedians like Bill Hicks, a HBO series protagonist from True Detective [Rust Cohle], atheism, existentialism and relationships. All fun and games.

What was the reaction like to those first couple of singles that predated the new one?
We released two taster EPs in the band’s early development, alongside the release of a few acoustic music videos. We had a good enough reaction from that to start building a fan base and attract management. This helped in connecting us with the wider rock scene in the UK, and we started gigging more consistently.

Tell us everything about this new release, ‘Too Little Too Late’.
This single is the first release from our debut album Self Aware, which comes out on July 5th. The song was inspired by the breakdown of a relationship, so might strike a chord with anyone who has any angst towards their exes! The theme goes along the lines of an exploration of an obsessive and toxic relationship preceding, during and after its collapse. Initially your pride is damaged and your emotions feel like they have been severely tainted. Ultimately, you turn your resentment into detachment, realising you have come out better off than the other person involved.

The single also has a music video that we filmed last year [see below]. It conveys the lyrics, with two actresses portraying the difficult relationship. It’s gritty, a bit raunchy even, and Facebook just banned us from advertising it. Spoilsports.

What are your live shows like?
Henrik: My favourite description of our live show was when someone came up to me wide-eyed after a gig, and said “Woah, that was intense”. That, for me, was a great compliment. It’s certainly intensity that I try to put into my performance, especially vocally. We aim for a big sound, and that doesn’t mean deafening. We want the audience to hear the nuances in the music, and the vocals, even when we’re blasting out the heavier tracks.
Grant: This really depends on venue, audience, gig and us. Empyre are equally at home blasting out the heavier tracks as we are sitting down playing softer, acoustic arrangements, sometimes with piano. The best way to answer the question is to come see us!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues?
Did: Northants has a thriving music scene, and we are regulars at The King Billy and The Craufurd Arms down the road in Wolverton. Plus we have a decent support base in Brackley, where we gig a couple of times a year.
Henrik: We can’t say that we are embedded in the scene here though. We’d love to establish ourselves more within our home county, and we’d welcome all the support Northampton wants to give us. Hopefully there are plenty more potential fans of our music in the county yet to discover us. That’s why it’s great to do interviews like this, and play at events such as Northampton Music Festival, because hopefully it will allow a wider audience to embrace our music. As much as we love playing The King Billy and always have a great time we’d really like to play all over the county.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Henrik: Tough to choose, but probably playing an acoustic set in an Arctic-themed amphitheatre with a pool, in an abandoned zoo in Ibiza, to a few hundred people. Surreal, and fantastic.
Grant: It’s been an amazing year, so there has been a few! The feeling just before going onstage at some of the larger festivals or hearing a track being played on the radio for the first time is up there.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Did: Lethbridge Owen Mind over Matter released this month. Empyre joined this talented outfit on the Isle of Wight last year.
Grant: Full Nelson by Massive Wagons. They are on the same management as us [Rock People Management] and we have supported them a few times. The album charted in the UK at 16, it’s great to see them do so well! The last album I streamed was Lykaia by Swedish prog rock band Soen. I love this record and have listened to it daily for the last few weeks.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Henrik: Imminent plans include the inaugural tour to support the singles and album releases. On the RPM Takeover Tour we’re joined by Ryders Creed and The Rocket Dolls. Then we play Northampton Music Festival on June 16th, catch us on the main stage in the Market Square. There are at least three more singles to be released over the next few months, and of course the album on 5th July. Plus we’re doing a special acoustic set at Arena Birmingham on June 28th before the Eagles play there that evening, which we’re really looking forward to.
In terms of burning desires, I want the band to play Download, Ramblin’ Man fair, and some of the equivalent European rock festivals.
Did: I’d love to go out with Empyre on a European tour at some point in the future.
Grant: My burning desire would be for Empyre to be established as one of the UK’s top rock bands.

Too Little Too Late is out now via the usual digital platforms. The album Self Aware appears on July 5th.

 

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Album review: slowthai ‘Nothing Great About Britain’

slowthai Nothing Great About Britain [Method Music/True Panther Sounds] What do you say about slowthai now he’s gone international? He might have ‘NN’ tattooed on a finger, but more importantly…

slowthai
Nothing Great About Britain
[Method Music/True Panther Sounds]

What do you say about slowthai now he’s gone international? He might have ‘NN’ tattooed on a finger, but more importantly it’s splat across every part of his debut album. The self-confessed former drug dealer knew he had to change his world, and music was his salvation. The boy in the corner – of Spring Boroughs, of Lings, of Abington – is now centre stage, catapulted into our ears and our hearts over the past year or so, with a slow drip feed of streaming singles that finally went nuclear once ‘Doorman’ gave him the sort of radio hit that can’t be ignored. His punky guileful sneer at “Great Britain” in this strangulated Brexit landscape is some great timing. The press all want a piece of him: his counter-culture quotes, his tattooed torso and his maniacal smile are all right for 2019.

“Nothing great about Britain/Tea ‘n’ biscuits/Mash, jellied eels and a couple little trinkets”

The opening salvo, the title track, pulls no punches. The video spoofs the mythology of Excalibur, and sees him – gloriously, ludicrously – knighting kids in King’s Heath. Mocking British things like royalty is a very slowthai trait; a great bit of hip-hop détournement to make you question what role things and people play in modern society. And those vivid, HBO-drama, minor chord synth stabs that precede the skittering beats is slowthai’s sound in a nutshell. Mostly recorded with producer Kwes Darko in East London, his Eski grime/00s UK rap style is brought up to date with his own particular delivery that continually fluctuates between mumbling and threatening. His flow often goes out of time intentionally for dramatic purpose, making you focus harder.

The Mura Masa-produced ‘Doorman’ is the one most will have already heard. It’s banging electronic punk attitude lights up a room when on full tilt, and brings to mind The Prodigy and The Streets as much as the grime scene. It’s spoken-word samples about glue-sniffers that begin and end the track is funny rather than cautionary, though his rhymes are more about the culture clash between the rarified west London world he now travels in rubbing up against his NN persona.

“I run my town/But I’m nothing like Boris/Tyron for PM”

‘Dead Leaves’ is pure bravado, a twitchy club bassline over tales of night-time hedonism being an everyday occurrence that doesn’t require a nightclub. ‘Gorgeous’ is a musically-dense number, another semi-autobiographical tale of running around as kids and getting up to the usual nonsense, and looking back with fondness. He quotes all those ShoeTown places that sound somehow elevated with his delivery: Southfields, Toby Fields, Blackthorn, Moulton, Spring Boroughs. Franky it’s all a bit surreal to know people in Mexico City or Los Angeles will be hearing these reference points.

‘Crack’ has an American low-slung gangsta rap/slow R&B feel, and it doesn’t really suit him. It doesn’t even sound like him. Let us move on. ‘Grow Up’ sees a guest spot from Birmingham rapper JayKae, and we’re back in familiar territory [well, the Midlands]. The two of them have different styles, the hyper-speed of JayKae seemingly forcing slowthai to hasten his  patter. They clearly connect in the middle; the track just burns throughout.

“I ain’t about that gang shit/I’m a lone wolf”

The second album collaboration follows immediately: Skepta brings his experience to ‘Inglorious’ with style, delivering with confidence and speaking random things like “directing movies like Gaspar”. The track weaves and ducks throughout, with Darko’s production skills deftly holding it all together. ‘Toaster’, meanwhile, is a little more folky, a clean guitar line backing another ShoeTown story of redemption.

“Walking through the blocks, I see the cracks/Dodge syringes”

‘Peace Of Mind’ has the catchiest hook on the album, and it’s a gem of a track. Hyping up the contradictions between your daily battles and the dreams you have at night, it’s a moment that shows how anxiety and stress can only be released through mindful rest and recuperation. That’s not a person on this planet that wouldn’t relate to that.

The Slaves-produced ‘Missing’ is as thick and pungent as you can imagine from them being involved, with a unsettling cacophonous chorus that elevates the track from the norm. Which brings us to the final song, ‘Northampton’s Child’. It’s the story of his childhood: the home moves, the booze madness, the death of his young brother. And most importantly – the love of his mother, that centred him and gave him hope. She has clearly given him strength to persevere, so shout out to Ma for her role in giving the world the talents of Tyron Frampton.

Nothing Great About Britain is a tour de force precisely because slowthai’s personalty is forceful, and the beats sharp enough to create a coherent whole. Where he goes from now – he can’t rap about NN life forever, you imagine – is just as fascinating as this piece of work.

But for now, in this game of thrones, we have a new prince in town; one that everyone can fight for.

Phil Moore

Nothing Great About Britain is out Friday / order now, or visit Spun Out on Gold St on Friday at 1pm for an album signing session

 

 

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Live review: Paul Young

PAUL YOUNG / SINEAD BURGESS Royal & Derngate, Northampton May 13th 2019 Putting a decidedly Antipodean twist on Americana is Brisbane born singer-songwriter Sinead Burgess. Accompanied only by an acoustic…

PAUL YOUNG / SINEAD BURGESS
Royal & Derngate, Northampton
May 13th 2019

Putting a decidedly Antipodean twist on Americana is Brisbane born singer-songwriter Sinead Burgess. Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar set opener ‘Tennessee Bound’ has a real forward motion, and there’s a lot of variety on display as next cut, ‘Praising God, Raising Hell’, is very Dylan-esque – both musically and in its lyrical astuteness. Interspersing her songs with confessional tales adheres Sinead to the crowd as does the bluesy ‘Momma Raised a Ramblin’ Man’, which segues nicely into a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’. In relocating to Nashville Sinead seems to have absorbed some of that environment and it gives her country tinged songs an authenticity, especially on latest single ‘Wild Flowers of Colorado’.

Some albums, perhaps unwittingly, really capture the spirit of the times and that’s certainly the case with Paul Young’s No Parlez. While it’s an album very much of its era it also has a timeless quality and this is due to the wide spectrum of influences it drew upon. As befitting of such a seminal album Paul is here to perform that record in full, and the rocky ‘Behind Your Smile’ is perfect as an opening salvo. Evidencing the wide palette from which No Parlez was painted the reggae influenced ‘Love of the Common People’ follows along with the chanting title track. Taking a few liberties with the original track listing his breakthrough solo smash ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)’ is welcomed like an old friend by an exuberant crowd, and precedes the funky ‘Iron Out the Rough Spots’. When No Parlez catapulted Paul Young into the mainstream the album was plundered for single after single, and in truth any track on this record would’ve troubled the charts. His cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ still seems a little daring but, by putting his own stamp on it ensures it nestles effortlessly alongside his own ‘Tender Trap’ and ‘Broken Man’. The Jack Lee penned ‘Sex’ brings the No Parlez section to a fitting end.

What follows is a crowd pleasing, career spanning set as Paul cherry picks tunes from his long career. Taking us back to his genesis a raucous run through of The Q Tips ‘Get ’em Up Joe’ gets the audience on their feet, before ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’ almost takes the roof off the Derngate. Backed by his regular band ensures the songs are faithfully reproduced while simultaneously retaining a live edge. The addition of two female backing vocalists provide a nice foil to Paul’s blue-eyed soul but now oak-aged vocals. Quite fittingly ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ brings the show to a conclusion but, judging by some of the young folk present, this is really ‘hello’.

Peter Dennis

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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide May 15th – May 21st

STILL REMAINS + YnT + LOKI Thursday May 16th The King Billy, Northampton A mix of sounds that remind you of Metallica, Thin Lizzy, and Saxon. Songs “that make you…

STILL REMAINS + YnT + LOKI
Thursday May 16th
The King Billy, Northampton
A mix of sounds that remind you of Metallica, Thin Lizzy, and Saxon. Songs “that make you bang your head and sing the chorus”. ShoeTown rock support too. Music from 8.30pm, free entry

ANNOTATIONS OF AN AUTOPSY + STREET SOLDIER + DJINOVA + MUTINY
Friday May 17th
The Roadmender, Northampton
Norwich deathcore giants tour the new album World Of Sludge, with metal support from the north-west, Coventry, and ShoeTown. Doors 6.45pm, £12 tickets

THEE TELEPATHS + VENUS FLY TRAP
Friday May 17th
The Lamplighter, Northampton
A clash between the heavy hitters. Psych/space/fuzz/noise rock four-piece from Kettering, promoting their 5* debut album The Velvet Night. Northampton post-punk/darkwave pioneers play songs from latest album Icon and the reissued 1988 debut Mars. Doors 8pm, free entry

THOMAS TRUAX + THE ANTELOIDS
Friday May 17th
The Lab, Northampton
American singer/musician, inventor and multi-media artist headlines, who performs with his evolving “band” of self-made instruments including a motorized drum machine made of bike wheels called ‘Mother Superior’ and a pimped-up Dr. Seuss-ian Gramophone called ‘The Hornicator’. Support from the funky, jazzy, freaky, tiki, low-down band from Rugby. Doors 7pm, £5 entry

TU KAY & RYAN
Friday May 17th
The Hopmaster General, Rushden
NN musical duo, known for their lush harmonies and heartfelt lyrics. Doors 8.30pm, free entry

THEATRE OF HATE
Saturday May 18th
The Roadmender, Northampton
In 1980, Kirk Brandon formed Theatre Of Hate,and their debut double-A-side single, ‘Legion’/’Original Sin’, topped the independent chart. Debut album Westworld, produced by Mick Jones from The Clash and released in 1982, held the number one position for 21 weeks. They split to form Spear Of Destiny, but the band does resurface over the years to play some shows. Doors 7pm, £17.50 tickets

NORTHAMPTON PRIDE
Saturday May 18th
The Market Square, Northampton
Residents are invited to join Northampton’s LGBTQ Forum, to highlight the LGBTQ community, businesses and support organisations. Joe Payne, Sarah-Jayne, Koola, and more provide the music alongside the food and activity stalls. 12pm to 5pm, free 

FAMILY OF NOISE
Saturday May 18th
The Black Prince, Northampton [front bar]
Corby purveyors of post-punk / alternative rock instrumental noise nuggets and advocates of three being the magic number. Doors 8pm, free entry 

CALIBURN + LOUZADA + JACK & SALLY
Saturday May 18th
Raffs Bar, Wellingborough
Heat Three of Bloodstock Festival’s ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ concept, giving unsigned acts the chance to play the New Blood Stage at this year’s Festival. Doors 6pm, £5 entry

HAZEYJANE
Saturday May 18th
The Shire Horse, Kettering
The folk quartet will be playing three 45 minute sets, between 3pm and 6pm. Free entry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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