Category: Reviews

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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Album review: The Venus Fly Trap

THE VENUS FLY TRAP Mars [Glass Modern] Last year Northampton’s gothic darkwave pioneers [theoretically] called time on their recording career with their eighth studio album, Icon. Whilst a strong finish…

THE VENUS FLY TRAP
Mars
[Glass Modern]

Last year Northampton’s gothic darkwave pioneers [theoretically] called time on their recording career with their eighth studio album, Icon. Whilst a strong finish to proudly rank alongside any of their previous output, it now has also cleared the decks to allow the band to return to the source, and reissue the first run of albums from the 1980s and 1990s. It begins here, the debut from 1988.

Indelibly linked to Bauhaus [through art-school connections] and the ShoeTown scene in general [he helped shape what it became], Alex Novak trod a singular path in the post-punk era, sending out snappish, gothic pulses as part of Religious Overdose and The Tempest, before settling into his long-term project, The Venus Fly Trap. Formed initially in 1986 with brother John and bassist Tony Booker, line-up changes saw Booker moving across to guitar to replace John, with Chris Evans and Dave Freak coming in on bass and percussion.

Early forays into France were received well enough to bag a recording contract with local label Danceteria, and a vinyl album was cobbled together from their first two singles. This was quickly expanded in length for a CD version a few months later, and this is what has been remastered for 2019. Ten stories high, Mars came at a time when spiky lo-fi guitars merged with experimental electronic desires; the slipstream of Pil, Joy Division, and New Order allowing folks to lap up this record as part of what we now collectively call the “alternative 80s”.

Ebullient pop this is not. Mars is more akin to weeds coming up through the Midlands cracks, and breathing new life into a guitar music scene that had reset all notions of ‘limitations’. Where anything not only seemed possible, but contractually obligatory. Novak’s pithy vocals have always reflected his film and scholarly interests, and you really need to visualise a copy of freshly-released comic The Watchmen under one arm amongst the cognoscenti to fully appreciate it’s cultural refractions. The mid-80s was a pretty dire time for many, and radical ideas in Britain were manifestly offering another viewpoint as she headed towards a Hazy Future.

The music zig-zags from the speakers, a series of dizzying, unsettling and occasionally polemic mantras. Feedback sets off ‘Shadow Whisper Mecca’, before the discotized punk-funk groove kicks in. The verve encased in the “Everybody happening” refrain gives off the confident – and very accurate – manifesto for what follows throughout ‘Mars’. Second track ‘I Get Flowers’ takes on the mantle and delivers perhaps the album highlight. It’s a pleasure to argue which is mightier over it’s five minutes – the huge R.E.M.-ish vocal harmonies, or the Cure-ish spidery guitar solo that gloriously jolts above the insistent bassline.

The two single releases became live favourites, to this day. ‘Morphine’ sees Novak being both decadent and threatening at once, deeply intoning about a desperate character over the top of their most garage band moment. ‘Desolation Railway’ meanwhile took things in a completely different direction. Seven minutes of psychedelic swirl that brings wavering synths to a morse code melody, ducking and weaving as it goes, adding explosions and film samples to ratchet up the tension even higher.

On ‘How The Mighty’ they misdirect with a soft Del Shannon-style opening minute, before the drum machine turns on and panic sets in. “Nothing remains the same” goes the chorus, which considering the twists and turn of the band over the next three decades feels rather apt. ‘Catalyst’ is some twisted dark pop that would sit happily on a Jesus & Mary Chain album. And you have to mention the experimental ‘Violins & Violence’, where the funeral pace reflects the desolate mood of a song concerning the JKF assassination and how it blandly encapsulates society’s continual bad news bulletins.

At the time Melody Maker said The Venus Fly Trap make “despair infectious”. It’s still true. Mars affects you in the gut, like all good music should. It is a sublime piece of that “alternative 80s” the industry likes to harp on about. This 2019 re-release gives us a chance to take stock and truly give them the credit they deserve.

Phil Moore

Mars is reissued by Glass Modern on May 31st

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Album review: Mali Mae

MALI MAE Personal [self-released] Now this is how to start the summer properly. Mae is a young singer-songwriter from Northamptonshire who has, with little fanfare, put together a collection of…

MALI MAE
Personal
[self-released]

Now this is how to start the summer properly. Mae is a young singer-songwriter from Northamptonshire who has, with little fanfare, put together a collection of breezy pop that is as good as anything you’ll hear on top 40 radio.

Personal, her full debut album, is a celebration of love and loss, of young hopes and dreams coming to fruition, or wishing them to. The opening song, ‘Up’, is both an exceptional and ever-so-slightly haunting pop song, but also an immediate showcase for a voice that will regularly stop your heart. The instrumentation here, and indeed throughout the album, is generally quite sparse: all minor chord piano lines, brief sections of snare playing, programmed keys. Yes her sudden mood and melody shifts are very much from the handbook of modern pop. Yet it sounds natural; and she seems totally in control of it all. Owning a song with this sort of confidence should takes years to develop. She’s barely out her teens and she’s there already. It’s actually all a bit frightening.

‘Remind Me’, which adds soft strings that come in and out of focus, ratchets up the drama a little, the chorus delivering a sustained moment of vulnerability. It doesn’t take a huge imagination to envision her sat behind a piano playing it on the X-Factor. And that’s no dig: it would melt even Cowell’s frosty heart. ‘Get It Right’ has some attractive background harmonies on it, presumably her own voice doing all the parts. The track has some real sass to it; the soulful lines at the end making New Boots think of Joss Stone in her early days. ‘This One Too’, meanwhile, is a song that drives home a defiant note, aiming higher and higher with each verse. It’s followed up with ‘Try Again’, which aims in a completely different direction. 1970s-style finger-picking acoustic guitar, and a spiritual feel. “I keep falling in and out of love/With somebody I don’t know” is a pretty heartbreaking line delivered in her hands.

Her previous mini-LP All I Know, from 2017, only hinted at what Mae could do on Personal. She’s tightened the songwriting for sure, but crucially projected a stronger presence in all areas. Like on ‘Keep Me High’, the slow-burning and sparse blues-pop number which draws favourable comparisons with another NN artist, Charlotte Carpenter.

‘Something Else’ bring a certain Joni Mitchell-esque yearning to the album, but again with that melodic certainty that all the big game popstars have in their locker. Before the album is over you get a country stummer in ‘Down To Me’, whilst ‘Bones’ darker colours hints at domestic violence and general bad relationship times. It’s a nice counterweight to some of the lighter material actually, though you’d hope it’s not too autobiographical. Closer ‘Perfect’ is perhaps sequenced incorrectly – it’s crystalline, gospel vocal really needs highlighting earlier on. It would make a terrific single, for sure.

Regardless, Personal is a true triumph; the diamond that shines from the shadows. It’s discoveries like Mae that keeps the chase in new music alive. Someone sign her up!

Phil Moore

Personal is out now via the usual digital platforms

 

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EP review: Duncan Bisatt

DUNCAN BISATT CAPTAINS AND KINGS [Massive Rodent Records] Duncan Bisatt is certainly a man who has his fingers in many guitar cases. Not only does he play the bass, Duncan…

DUNCAN BISATT
CAPTAINS AND KINGS
[Massive Rodent Records]

Duncan Bisatt is certainly a man who has his fingers in many guitar cases. Not only does he play the bass, Duncan is a classically trained guitarist. He is also a member of Northamptonian band Bushpigs, formed from the ashes of 1980s/90s era act Marabar Caves. Duncan is also a singer-songwriter in his own right and has his own solo venture. He has recently returned home from an extended week of musical shenanigans, whilst performing in Marburg, Germany – Northampton’s twinned town – for Manofest Musik Fest.

‘Captains and Kings’ is his latest EP, the title track released off his latest album, Reality and Abstraction. Made and produced in Northampton, the EP consists of four tracks; ‘Captains and Kings’, ‘White Shoes’, ‘My Mistakes’ and ‘Toc’. New Boots asked Duncan about writing this new material. “I write the music first, then I spend months and months agonising over lyrics. I have the music, the structure, perhaps a tune, a hook or a line in my head, but lyric writing and me is a constant battle really. I’m a man of lots of tunes and few words, which is strange as my job is all words. I’m a lawyer during the day. I’m incredibly self-critical. I’m working on something at the moment and I think I’m on set of lyrics number five. I have loads of half written notebooks, lying around in pockets, in bags. It’s just finding the bit you remember writing last year. That’s the tricky bit!”

Title track ‘Captains and Kings’ is of a dream-like, folk sound; a bitter sweet reminiscence. The beautifully shot, minimalist music video that accompanies the single was produced by Tramp D Addy [those dancing guitars, swaying and merging, is a particularly nice touch]. Bisatt’s prog rock influences show through in the melancholic, more visceral sound of ‘My Mistakes’, whilst ‘Toc’ provides something of a musical interlude. Its rhythmic beat replicates a clock ticking. Both demonstrate entrancing layers and panoramic depth.

The upbeat, acoustic rendition of ‘White Shoes’, recorded at Northampton’s legendary small venue The Lab, is a finishing flourish to the EP. “A friend asked me why don’t you write any happy songs, so I wrote a happy song. This is a tale of going to discos in the 1980s”. Despite Duncan’s own self-criticism, ‘White Shoes’ is an impeccably well-written track, drenched with nostalgic references intricately interwoven into the lyrics. A favourite line is “And I found your Tainted Love/Fitted me just like a glove/Almost drowned out by Japan/You hit upon This Charming Man”. See if you can spot them all…

You can catch Duncan performing at various open mic nights and festivals, as well as performing with the Bushpigs at various venues throughout the summer.

Rachel Thomas

‘Captains and Kings’ is released on Duncan’s own label Massive Rodent Records, and is available on all good streaming and download sites

Useful Links:
facebook.com/duncanbisattmusic
duncanbisatt.bandcamp.com

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Album review: John Wiseman

JOHN WISEMAN Filling The Void [self-released] ShoeTown’s electrocore music scene is alive and kicking at the moment, with the likes of Krankhead, [sane], Zizany, and Little BitBoy [to name but…

JOHN WISEMAN
Filling The Void
[self-released]

ShoeTown’s electrocore music scene is alive and kicking at the moment, with the likes of Krankhead, [sane], Zizany, and Little BitBoy [to name but a few]. The Garibaldi Hotel is the place to be on a given Friday/Saturday night, particularly with the students of the town. John Wiseman’s Filling The Void makes a valiant effort as part of that line-up.

John is a Northampton musician, composer and producer, and also manages the blog, Wise The Music, which aims to promote national independent musicians and artists. “I wanted to make people aware of what people are doing and who they are. I wanted to help promote others”.

Filling The Void combines political and everyday themes with a new wave pop sound, and is a collection of both new material and material that John has been meticulously refining over time, all coming together in its entirety as a self-produced 12-track album. John was raised on a diet of Classical music and rock, and discovered grime and DnB whilst studying away at university. “All these influences come together in a melting pot of music”, he explains, and can be traced throughout the album. John is also a classically trained musician, on both the guitar and the piano.

New Boots was lucky enough to hear John performing a few tracks in their original, raw acoustic form. We asked about the writing and production process that goes into taking that original idea, the initial score, right through to the finalised track we hear on the album. “All of it, no matter how electronic a song gets starts with the piano, I maybe play a little bit on the synthesizer and the guitar. Then I put it all into the computer and just play around with it and see what works, have some fun with it”.

John’s music is mostly inspired by everyday life and experiences. “As famous composer Stravinsky once said; ‘good composers borrow, great composers steal’. Steal may be the wrong word, but you take from everyday life. If someone says ‘grow up’, or a friend says we’re going to give your girlfriend the nickname ‘Paragraphs’ it becomes a song. It’s taking those moments and putting your own viewpoint on it, and from whose point of view will you tell it from. It all comes down to storytelling”.

This certainly rings true of ‘On Your Side’, inspired by some well-placed familial advice. John’s classic rock influence shines through in this piano-drenched track, laced with guitar riffs reminiscent of some of the finest cuts from Queen’s repertoire. ‘Calling Out’ once again shows Wiseman’s sentimental side, in nostalgia of his university days, it experiments with a pulsing, trippy DnB beat. “It’s about the importance of supporting each other, being there for people and letting them know that you’re there for them”. With it’s entrancing vocals and techno beat, the upbeat ‘Little Games’ assimilates the albums themes. John says that “it began as a political song, and became also a love song, all incorporated into a catchy, dancy tune. It’s a pop song at heart”.

Let us show some local support to John, and hopefully we’ll see him performing live on a stage near you very soon!

Rachel Thomas

Filling The Void is available on all good streaming and download sites, including BandCamp and iTunes.

Useful Links:
wisethemusic.com
https://www.facebook.com/Wisethemusic
https://twitter.com/wisethemusic

 

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Album review: Thee Telepaths ‘The Velvet Night’

THEE TELEPATHS The Velvet Night [Mighty Fuzz] Here ’tis! The first full length album from the Kettering space/psych/noise rock quartet follows a couple of 12” EPs in 2016 and 2017….

THEE TELEPATHS
The Velvet Night [Mighty Fuzz]

Here ’tis! The first full length album from the Kettering space/psych/noise rock quartet follows a couple of 12” EPs in 2016 and 2017. Those excellent releases has meant no little anticipation has been building amongst the psych/alt community for The Velvet Night.

The band have developed their sound to arrive here; this album came out of a lengthy jam session when an extra track was required. Once the hour-long jam had been poured back over it was abundantly clear to the four that, recorded and edited properly, there was actually an elpee of coherent material right there. So far, so Hawkwind. But what makes this album so fascinating from beginning to end is they have tightened the sonics and the songwriting into something bigger than they had previously achieved. Any prevailing ghost of Spacemen 3 or Neu! or Sabbath has been wholly exorcised; all that comes through is their own unique signal. And it’s one that should put them nearer the front of the current psych revival too.

Pulling the album apart is a very hard job. It is very difficult to separate any part from it’s whole. The band know this, and they have tried to avoid any disjunction by simply creating three acts: ‘Alpha’, ‘Epsilon’, and ‘Delta’. Within those movements you get ‘parts’. ‘Alpha Part 1’, for example, is a heavy krautrock epic, pushing the limits of what the brain can take. Dean’s ethereal vocals ride the wave of the Loop/Suicide style repetitive synth swells. Pummelled by the metronomic drums and bassline from Vincent and Tim, Tom sends stabbing notes of guitar fuzz through the mix. It’s conclusion makes way for a breather, as the calmer, floating ‘Part 2’ bring respite from the onslaught that was ‘Part 1’. The tempo is ramped up for ‘Part 3’, and a Floydian synth line takes charge. ‘Part 4’ is a timestamp, a precursor to the onslaught of ‘Part 5’, which returns to the themes of ‘Part 1’, but this time with even more emotion from everyone involved.

‘Epsilon’ is eleven minutes that sounds a tad more contemporary. The Wooden Shjips/Hookworms pulse of ‘Part 1’ is spirit-level steady, and allows Dean room for some vocal manoeuvres. You don’t ever really catch what he’s singing about, you just feel it in the gut. In ‘Part 2’ the proggy guitar lines send the listener leftfield, whilst ‘Part 3’ pulls things back, and we’re into Sonic Youth or ’90s stoner territory. It’s another peak in a song cycle full to the brim with ideas that gel better than you’d imagine from any description a writer could provide.

‘Delta’ feels like a reset button has been pressed, and a bit of intentionally aimless flow opens up. ‘Part 1’ gives you Wah Wah Land, and a vocal seemingly in freefall. Is this where the trip turns bad? ‘Part 2’ suggests not, as we realign our chakras and forge onwards with new energy and renewed belief. The sonic breakdown here is akin to a vortex of sound, a whirlpool to let oneself be lost in. The instrumental ‘Part 3’ brings us firmly out on the other side, the guitar fuzz blurring our vision somewhat as we stand on our musical shore basking in solarized warmth. The final movement, ‘Part 4’, is a brief howl of joy that we have survived the entire thing.

It’s certainly not an album you can get on one listen, but The Velvet Night is surely an early contender for album of the year. There’s no come down allowed here. Just a widescreen, ecstatic, symphonic journey backwards into tomorrow that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Phil Moore

The Velvet Night is out now on vinyl and download

 

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Album review: Shorty ‘The Northampton Underground’

SHORTY The Northampton Underground [ShoeTown Records] Northampton singer-songwriter Shorty [aka Chris White] has quickly followed up his enticing 2017 album Abington Park with a big collaborative effort. It’s an album…

SHORTY
The Northampton Underground [ShoeTown Records]

Northampton singer-songwriter Shorty [aka Chris White] has quickly followed up his enticing 2017 album Abington Park with a big collaborative effort. It’s an album almost thirty years in the making [at least the concept – of a big group effort with strings and brass – is a long held desire of White].

The title is reference to the 2014 spoof that Northampton once had an underground train system in the early 20th century, which has the immediately impact of warmth towards the album. It surely also works as a metaphor for many of the players on the this album and what they represent. And make no mistake, this is a very Northampton album. The inlay artwork has the London Underground map with stations annotated with ShoeTown places of interest to Shorty [everything from ‘Cobblers and ‘Semilong’ to in-jokes like ‘John’s House’].

White, a former member over the years of The Clique, Happy in Heaven, and Abbey Park,  has assembled some of the town’s best talent to bring his vision to life. Some of P-Hex are here, for example. Local cheesemonger Stevie Ward serves up guitar left right and centre. And so on and forth. Musically over fourteen tracks and forty-seven minutes there’s a little something for everyone. Let’s delve in, shall we?

(I’ll Be Your) Plus One’ is a 70s style glamish romp with ELO harmonies. Roxy-style sax solo is a touch too. ‘It’s Alright’ and ‘Out In The Sun’ later on cover similar ground [aural comfort blankets for the winter months]. ‘How Can This Be Love?’ is the first of two performances featuring Californian singer Danie Hollobaugh, who shares leads vocal on this nice, if saccharine, duet. ‘I’ll Find A Place’, the other song, is sadly a flat, rather derivative outing. ‘Feeding the Duchess’ is an alt-country with rasping bluesy harmonica intro from Dom Strickland [The Clique]. It’s melodic and inviting, as it details domestic bliss [“I’ll buy you a Chinese on Friday night”]. ‘I Wish’ contains more Wilco-esque musings, and White has this style down pat. 

‘Caravan’ has Lindsay Spence and Nathan Bundy from P-Hex joining in on the baggy dystopian stomper that is a lot of fun. Stay with Me’ is pure soft-rock with Fleetwood Mac vocals. ‘There Was a Time’ has Andy Orr (drummer with The Scene and Small World) on it. It is Beatles-esque psychedelia on the production side [backwards guitar, compressed Hammond, etc], it’s very charming in its period detail. ‘Ticket by Chance’ brings on the soul-jazz flavours – plenty of flute! – a Weller meets Mayfield sort of thing. Lovely too it is.

‘Thank You’ is gorgeous stringed pop that really needs to be heard by everyone who reads this review. Go stream right now in fact. ‘As I Wait Alone for You’ and ‘I Said a Thing or Two’ finish the album in melancholic balladry style, both featuring Martin Stephenson [of The Daintees fame] on piano and guitar. They are quietly affecting; the mariachi trumpet opening the final song setting the mood just right. 

The Northampton Underground is a sprawling, often very pleasing, piece of work. Dip in and find your version of Shorty that’s suited to you, then spread the good word amongst your NN friends. 

Phil Moore

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Album review: Ecco Pine

ECCO PINE ECCO PINE [self-released] Hailing from our very own ShoeTown are brand new alternative/electro-rock trio Ecco Pine – aka Adam [guitar and vocals], Ali [guitar] and Louis [bass and…

ECCO PINE
ECCO PINE [self-released]

Hailing from our very own ShoeTown are brand new alternative/electro-rock trio Ecco Pine – aka Adam [guitar and vocals], Ali [guitar] and Louis [bass and synth]. Though the band only formed last year they have certainly made a grand entrance to the music scene; their unique ambient sound means they are by no means late to the party. In a recent success for the band their track ‘More Than This’ was featured on the ‘Best Up and Coming Acts of the East Midlands’ Spotify playlist, alongside other favourites The Keepers and Sarpa Salpa.

The album’s seamless blending of rock and electronic tones creates a unique ambience that gives the band its distinct sound. Imagine the lovechild of Massive Attack, Vampire Weekend and Talking Heads – if you can! Nature is a constant element running through the album, from the panoramic artwork of an open road, stretching far into the distance, sandwiched between the sea and alpine woodland, to the carefully constructed tracks.

The floaty, atmospheric style immediately transports you to another place: a tranquil forest glade or mountain top of your choosing, somewhere entirely removed from the reality of everyday life. It offers an outer body experience for your mind. Such features beautifully combine in ‘The River’, with its crystal-clear, flowing serenity, and ‘Pines’, with its movement and moments of darkness, mirroring a night-time woodland trek.

The bands indie influence shows through, in tracks ‘More Than This’ and ‘Stranger Things’, the latter tipping its hat to the popular series of the same name. ‘Aliens’, of a sci-fi influence, and ‘White Wall’ further the album’s themes of escaping the here and now, echoing some melancholic lament for the current state of things.

Here’s hoping it’s the start of things to come for the band. Be sure to show some local support and stream or download your copy.

Rachel Thomas

Ecco Pine is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and Amazon Music

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Live review: Ctrl Alt Fest Delete

CTRL ALT FEST DELETE Various venues, Kettering Friday October 26th – The Three Cocks Tonight, Ctrl Alt Fest Delete kicks off the party with three incredible bands. This is a well-loved…

CTRL ALT FEST DELETE
Various venues, Kettering

Friday October 26th – The Three Cocks
Tonight, Ctrl Alt Fest Delete kicks off the party with three incredible bands. This is a well-loved pub, but it’s not just regulars in tonight – the place is packed with both old and new faces, all buzzing with excitement to hear Kettering’s (and Corby’s) finest.

Female-fronted My Mate Dave take to the stage with endless energy and relentless enthusiasm, starting their set with an unbelievable cover of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’. The band seems to specialise in pop songs, but they perform the tracks with a rocky, razor-sharp quality, adding bouncing riffs and gravelly vocals to songs that were once smooth and clear. It’s an element of talent that a lot of bands seem to miss, but My Mate Dave hits the mark every single time. Corby instrumentalists Family Of Noise clearly have a lot of fans present tonight, as many people are waiting with anticipation for the trio. It’s not hard to see why, as they make their entire set look effortless, playing their instruments with as much ease as the most experienced of professionals. It’s easy for instrumental bands to fall into a trap of repetition, but with strong bass lines, smooth riffs and pounding drums, Family Of Noise make each and every song sound as fresh as the last.

Ending the night with a bang, The Fevers play with finesse and style. Covering well-loved tracks from bands like The Ramones and Buzzcocks, there’s not a single person in the crowd that isn’t bopping along. Although The Fevers are a covers band, they each possess intense amounts of talent, with a clear cut, professional sound. They are the perfect band for this festival, and truly define what it’s all about: a love of music, for all ages.

Saturday October 27th – The Prince of Wales
Here in one of Kettering’s oldest pubs the music is loud and the drinks are flowing. People of all ages have turned out to see the two bands playing tonight – one with a unique, original sound, and the other an Iron Maiden tribute band. It knits together the two sides of the town’s music scene, and The Prince of Wales is the perfect setting.

Unitra, a heavy metal three-piece, embody the energy of Steel Panther but the talent of musicians that have been around for decades. Taking to the stage with a dramatic intro track, Unitra’s smashing drums and polished riffs make for excellent listening. Inciting mosh pits and dancers alike, the space in front of the band is packed with all kinds of people, from old to young, and those celebrating Halloween to those that have just turned up for this gig. The banter between songs may be balancing on the wrong edge of cringy, but when the music is this good, you can’t quite bring yourself to care. Besides, they slot into place at The Prince of Wales with perfect ease, and the punters are loving it.

Judging by the amount of Iron Maiden t-shirts in the crowd, Iron 2 Maiden are going to go down a treat, and the highly anticipated set does not disappoint. Kicking off Saturday’s closing set with ‘Can I Play With Madness’, they storm this tiny pub with all the enthusiasm of the real thing. The guitar and drums are a perfect match, coming together to create the tunes we all know and love, and while the vocals aren’t quite true to the original band, it’s an admirable effort from Iron 2 Maiden. If you’re a fan of Bruce Dickinson and co, this tribute is definitely worth a watch.

Sunday October 28th – The Shire Horse
The Shire Horse is the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon gig. With comfortable wooden chairs and a roaring fireplace in the corner, it’s a nice reprieve from the bitterly cold weather outside, and with several acoustic sets taking place across the room, it’s the right setting for winding down Ctrl Alt Fest Delete and bringing it to close.

Jacob Brathwaite fits this evening’s mood perfectly. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a gentle voice, he mixes his own songs with covers from the likes of The Kooks. Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’ is a highlight of the set, and the singer makes every track he performs his own. He is undeniably talented; featuring professional riffs and a clear voice that wraps around you like a comfort blanket, his set is unforgettable. Kettering’s own hazeyjane are up next, with a set that promises ‘ambient acoustic material’. The description fits the band to perfection, as they play well right from the very first song. The music is ethereal, almost otherworldly, with a strong acoustic sound that fills The Shire Horse, but it stands out against the rest. Underneath the surface, you find strong percussion and haunting vocals, creating a calming atmosphere that blends well with the open fire and warm wood decorating the pub.

From the outside, it seems as though Aldous Pinch does not quite fit this line-up. He is neither calming nor gentle, instead bringing to the stage a vaudeville performance that has the whole crowd on their feet. His music is somewhere between sea shanties and poetry, and every song is a complete story. Featuring tails of boozy nights and prostitutes, it would be very easy for the performer to get lost in repetition, but instead, it’s enthusiastic, exciting, and something entirely fresh. Aldous Pinch is definitely one to watch out for in the future. To close the festival Kettering duo Dem Urban Foxes take to the stage with a captivating sound. The music is polished and practiced, and the band clearly knows what they’re doing with their catchy hooks and intense vocals. The music is neither boring nor depressing: instead it is energetic, and most of all, sincere. It’s a great headlining set, and the perfect send-off to such an exciting festival.

Lucy Wenham

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