Tag: indie

New Music Friday: EarBones

EarBones are a heavy blues-rock duo based in and around Northampton, formed by guitarist/vocalist Arran Westlake and drummer Michael Mann. The guys dabble in dirty, gritty rock with a lively…

EarBones are a heavy blues-rock duo based in and around Northampton, formed by guitarist/vocalist Arran Westlake and drummer Michael Mann. The guys dabble in dirty, gritty rock with a lively disco-esque backbeat. After a while away they are back with new single ‘Well I’ve Been Here Before’, so time to get those New Boots questions in!

How did you guys get together?
We actually met on Joinmyband.com, and the first time we met in person was in a practise room at Audioworks. It all started from there really. We started writing in the first session, and it all spiralled from there. We base ourselves in Northampton as it’s the biggest town, plus we love AudioWorks and find ourselves more productive there.

How would you describe your sound?
We’ve always prided ourselves in being loud, once called “the loudest band to practise at Audioworks” by its owner Josh, but our main focus was to create music for people to move to. The guitars are thick, and the the drums are hard. It’s the way we’ve always liked it and comes from a range of influences in both of our musical backgrounds.

Who are your main influences do you think?
Initially the main influence behind starting the band was Death From Above; we absolutely love those guys and they played a huge part in our formation, but our influences are far wider spread. Queens of the Stone Age, The Beatles, The White Stripes, T. Rex, Bowie, all of them have played a huge part in our sound and style. We could list bands all day!

What was the reaction like to your debut, the ‘Key’ EP in 2017?
The Key EP was a way for us to have our music available elsewhere as soon as we started playing shows. I suppose it didn’t garner the support we’d have loved, but looking back it was still us finding our feet. We hadn’t even played a show when we recorded the tracks. We still love it dearly though, and still play all four tracks live, although some of them slightly grown up versions as time has gone on.

Tell us about this new single.
‘Well I’ve Been Here Before’ started out with just the main riff a few months back whilst I was noodling around on my guitar. EarBones was on a break, and when we got back together for the first time in eight months I [Arran] showed Mike the riff and we knew we had to run with it. We wrote 90% of the song there and then, and decided we should record it to coincide with us getting back on the scene. A while back, my friend and pedal builder, Steve Weston of Raygun FX had told me that when we were ready to release something, we could do so under his label, Instereo Records. I got chatting to him about us looking to record and he offered to record the track for us at his space in Southend-On-Sea. We snapped up the opportunity and headed down with one of my best friends, and our unofficial third member Oli who photographed the session for us. We actually finished the track in four hours. It got released on cassette for Cassette Store Day, which was something we never thought we’d ever say. We have a couple of copies left and they’re only going to be available at our shows, so make sure you get down if you want one.

What are your live shows like?
As mentioned before, we like it loud! There’s a running joke that I’m told to turn down my amps at every single show we play. We used to have such a focus on what you heard recorded is what we sounded like live, but we purposely strayed from that, and made a conscious effort whilst recording the new single to have it sound how we wanted, not necessarily what we could replicate live. Instead we focus on giving it more energy, and making it heavier live, to provide a better experience for those in the audience.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands?
We’ve actually found it a little harder to conquer Northants, as we’ve struggled to find bands that fit our style, and venues who’ll give us opportunities. Don’t get me wrong there are some amazing bands and venues here, we’ve had the privilege of playing a couple and we’d love to play locally more. We’re hoping this new single and change of direction will open up better support opportunities as we widen our sound, as we really do love the home crowd. Anyone reading this who needs a support act, or a band for a slot at a venue, hit us up!

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Other than releasing our new single, we played a venue in London the other week called the Lady Hamilton. We were the first band ever to play in the venue as they’ve only just got their live music license. It was pretty cool – apparently it used to be a brothel, which is always odd, but it was cool to be a part of the first live music event in the venue and to be the first band to ever play there was just awesome. We also got to play Woodfest two days in a row due a band pulling out: we absolutely love playing outdoors so it was a great moment for us. And finally working on the new music we’ve got coming up. We’re so happy with ‘Well I’ve Been Here Before’, and we’ve also been working on a couple of new tracks called ‘Lavender’ and ‘The End’ which we cannot wait to play live and record soon.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt. 2 – and my god what an album it is. Absolutely loving it, ‘Like Lightening is a belter and I cannot wait to see them live again next year. Highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already listened.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
We’d love to play some more outdoor events, we absolutely loved playing Woodfest earlier this year and the atmosphere of a festival really fuels us on stage. One day we’d love the be in the position to tour, and maybe headline some smaller venues. We really want to push ourselves and grow our audience and fanbase. We’d be lying if we said the dream wasn’t to play Reading though, we’re not bothered what stage or time, but Reading was the first festival I ever went to, so it holds a special place for me. Generic, I know but I love the vibe there.

Well I’ve Been Here Before is out now via the usual digital sources. The Cassette Store Day release is available via the Bandcamp link below.

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New Music Friday: Red Rum Club

Liverpool sextet Red Rum Club have had a grassroots-led breakthrough year in 2019. Beginning in January with the release of the widescreen debut album Matador, the band are now on…

Liverpool sextet Red Rum Club have had a grassroots-led breakthrough year in 2019. Beginning in January with the release of the widescreen debut album Matador, the band are now on their biggest UK tour to date, and celebrate with a brand new single, ‘Kids Addicted’. Before their Northampton appearance on October 4th New Boots took tea and biscuits with them.

A busy time for you 2019. Can you summarise how your [presumably crazy] year has been? And any particular highlight you can pinpoint?
This year has been very special to us, from our debut Album ‘Matador’ coming out in January and getting to number 1 in the alternative iTunes charts, and charting in the official UK album, and vinyl charts, to selling out shows around the country, having people sing our songs back to us, and playing on stages in festivals all over the county, plus our first European festival in Romania with the likes of The 1975, and Jungle. 
Glastonbury was definitely a highlight; it was the first time going for most of us, never mind playing. A few of the lads hit it a little too hard there so we can’t remember as much as we’d like. We recently got the luxury of going to the Maida Vale studio and doing a live session there, that was a surreal moment, I know some of us were just as excited for that than for Glastonbury.

The album sounds huge. Parr Street Studios and Chris Taylor; have you struck gold there?
Massively, Chris Taylor has been brilliant with us, we’ve done everything with him; in the early days we released singles through his label ‘Rooftop Records’, so when Modern Sky signed us for an album we all knew it made sense to continue with him, and thankfully working with him means we get Parr Street, so we’re very happy with that.

Selling out the 02 Academy is no mean feat. Can you still walk the streets of Liverpool freely, or has the fame bit hard there now?
Selling out five months in advance was amazing, we were over the moon with and a little surprised with that. The good looking members get recognised now and again, but I’ll let you decide who they are! 

What you looking forward to most about this autumn tour?
We’re playing some bigger venues than we have in the past outside of Liverpool, particularly in Sheffield, and playing in cities we haven’t been to be before like Northampton, Norwich and Hull which is exciting! It helps that we love being on tour seeing old fans, meeting new fans, and we’re always up for a drink afterwards, so if you fancy one after one of our shows let us know.

What can you tell us about your 2020 plans?
2020 will be interesting to say the least. There will be more music, more tours and some very exciting news coming your way soon. We can’t give too much away, but have just released a new single ‘Kids Addicted’, so hopefully that’ll keep you interested for the time being!

Kids Addicted is out now. Red Rum Club are on tour now, and play The Black Prince in Northampton on Friday October 4th, with support from Weird Milk and Cusp.

 

 

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New Music Friday: Katie Malco

Scottish-born, Northampton-based Katie Malco writes confessional music: somewhere between eternal sadness and a hopeful determination, delivered with expert wit. This is ably demonstrated on new her new alt-rocky single ‘Creatures’,…

Scottish-born, Northampton-based Katie Malco writes confessional music: somewhere between eternal sadness and a hopeful determination, delivered with expert wit. This is ably demonstrated on new her new alt-rocky single ‘Creatures’, with a chorus that laments “Lose the battle/And then lose the war”. Floored by its aching quality, New Boots shares it below, plus we went to her in search of more answers.

How do you answer when that vague acquaintance asks what “sort of” music do you make?
“Sad lonely girl having a breakdown kinda vibes”.

Bar a Christmas single, this is your first release in six years. What have you been up to in that time?
I spent a long time writing, scrapping, writing, working, hiding….for a long time I didn’t really think I would ever put anything else out. I lost a lot of confidence at one point, and stopped even playing shows. It’s been weird getting back into it all again. To be honest I sort of surprised myself when I ended up with a load of recorded tracks.

After years in London you’re back in Northampton. How you finding the music world here?
To be honest I haven’t really ventured into the Northampton music world much since moving back. I happened upon a Blood-Visions show one time, and decided to start a little label to help them with their EP. But other than that my knowledge of the current Northants music scene is kind of rubbish. I’m actually playing my first Northampton show in ages soon, with Alessi’s Ark at The Black Prince on 11th October!

‘Creatures’ is a bit of a triumph, isn’t it. What can you tell us about the track?
Oh thanks! I recorded it with my friend Andy Jenkin, who also plays drums on it, and my friend Stephen Davidson from Tellison plays bass on the track too. I wrote a whole bunch of songs when I lived in Peckham and this was one of them. I had a week of not sleeping properly because I had a lot going on at the time, and I just felt like I was failing at life. I didn’t see a way forward.

What’s the last album you bought/streamed?
Black Midi – Schlagenheim

Do you still have the cat?
Yes! She sang backing vox on ‘Creatures’. I think the attention has gone to her head though, I’m trying to keep her grounded.

What’s next for you? Is their an album being worked on?
There is an album, there will be news. But I don’t know when exactly yet. What’s next in the immediate future is just playing a lot of shows hopefully….

Creatures is out now. Katie plays Northampton’s The Black Prince on October 11th alongside Alessi’s Ark, Hana Brooks and Mali Mae.

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New Music Friday: Rolling Thunder

West Northampton outfit Rolling Thunder are the fresh-faced assassins come to kick in your ears on the grubby indie dancefloors of 2019 and beyond. Seemingly fully-formed already, New Boots asked…

West Northampton outfit Rolling Thunder are the fresh-faced assassins come to kick in your ears on the grubby indie dancefloors of 2019 and beyond. Seemingly fully-formed already, New Boots asked singer Charlie Smith about how they got here and how music gives them their kicks.

How did you guys get together?
The band was formed in a history class at school in 2015 by Ryan and myself as a bit of a joke. No one took us seriously because only Ryan could play an instrument. We were studying the Vietnam War at the time and that’s where the name came from. We were just a bit obsessed with the idea of being in a band and thought it would be pretty cool, so we have just gone from there really. Joe and Harry were also proper keen to be in a band despite no music background or experience at all, so they learned their instruments from scratch by themselves – which again was another reason I think people didn’t take us very seriously. We’ve only really called ourselves a proper band since 2018 when we started doing local open mics. Harry asked his cousin Josh to drum for us when we got some gigs and has recently become a fully fledged member of the band. He was the missing piece and brings so much experience and level headedness. He holds everything together when the rest of us are getting a bit overexcited and making mistakes and stuff.

How would you describe your sound?
Definitely heavily guitar-driven. The sound is quite varied though, and there’s all sorts coming from different decades. Predominantly like an indie 80’s jangle, a more raw 90’s rock ‘n’ roll sound and then some early 00’s indie. What’s interesting is that when people try describing our sound we get completely different responses. We’ve had comparisons to all sorts, from Mod to post-punk to Britpop.

Who are your main influences in music?
The likes of Oasis, Kings of Leon and The Strokes influence the songwriting and guitars. The guitars are also influenced by Harry’s love of early Arctic Monkeys and obsession with Interpol. Joe on the bass idolises Peter Hook [Joy Division/New Order] and Bruce Foxton [The Jam], so there’s definitely some older new wave and post punk vibes there. Josh on the drums is influenced by Radiohead and Counting Crows, which is different again, and then my main influences in terms of vocals are people like Bernard Sumner [New Order], David Byrne [Talking Heads] and Damon Albarn [Blur].

What was the reaction like to the first single, ‘Break In At The Nachtwinkel’?
It’s been mental; we were completely taken aback by the positive response we got. People had only ever heard us live, so we weren’t sure how they’d take to the studio version of the track. But they seem to love it, and it means so much to us. We were on holiday the night it came out and so things got pretty silly. We were just so overwhelmed that something we had made was now out and available on the same platforms we all get our favourite music from, it was unreal. Josh has been in lots of other local bands and said he’s never seen such a quick online uptake of a track, so that seems really promising and gives us the confidence we need.

Tell us about this new one, ‘John Doe’.
At the time Ryan was struggling to write any songs, he wanted to try and write in a different way. He was listening to a lot of Paul Weller and the Kinks so he wanted to write a song in a more observational way. He looked at some of his neighbours and saw how well kept their gardens were and how clean their cars were, and that gave him the idea of writing a song based on people we’ve seen out in Northampton and Nottingham [our uni location]. The idea of a bloke who has all these outward possessions and a seemingly perfect life, but on the inside their life is a bit of a mess. We’re not saying his neighbours are actually like that either, before they try and kick his door down.
From this general idea the whole track has grown into what I suppose you could call almost a concept piece with the artwork, promotional pictures etc…all elaborating on the lyrics and initial idea. Things escalated when I even wore John Doe’s tattered suit and tie on stage. Sound wise it’s pretty big: definitely heavier than ‘Break In At The Nachtwinkel’, with a more rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Especially with the lyrics and vocal delivery the whole track has a lot more attitude. It also has a groovy bass line, driving drums and the usual big guitars. The recording of it was a good laugh, and the overall sound is massive thanks to the great work of Jon Martin at Stalker Studios.

Describe your live show in five words?
Energetic, Entertaining, Endearing, Exciting and Sweaty.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire?
We’re definitely becoming more and more integrated, our first gig in town was supporting The Keepers and we’ve supported them again since. They’re really good guys and we’re big fans of them. We recently played at TwinFest which was an awesome experience, and it meant we got to meet a lot of the other bands from Northampton and we got a really good reception which was cool. The more we play the more connected we feel which is really promising, so hopefully the scene will continue to reveal itself to us or grow around us. In terms of venues Peggotty’s Lounge in Towcester is our Cavern Club; an awesome place for us to do our own thing, as its proper local, so we get silly.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Playing live is our favourite thing, the best reception we’ve had was at a local gig at Peggotty’s Lounge. The place was totally packed and there was mosh-pits and pints going everywhere. To have people singing and screaming our own words back to us was really special. We loved every second of it.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Charlie: It was a 12” single rather than an album – ‘Life During Wartime’ by Talking Heads
Ryan: Dogrel by Fontaines D.C.
Harry: Part 1: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost by Foals
Joel: Joy as an Act of Resistance by Idles
Josh: The Fall of Hobo Johnson by Hobo Johnson

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
The ambition is just to be as big as possible. Ideally we want to be on tour supporting bands and playing festivals as soon as possible. Hopefully in the not too distant future a gig at the Roadmender will be on the cards. An ultimate dream of ours would to be become proper successful and do a big homecoming gig either at Sixfield’s Stadium or Franklins Gardens. As well as big live gigs we want to push ourselves technically and develop the songwriting. Even though we think the current songs are pretty awesome we’ve only just got going and think it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

‘John Doe’ is out there now on the usual digital shelves

 

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New Music Friday: Greasy Diablos

Visceral rock’n’roll will never go out of fashion, and from Rushden come riding those Greasy Diablos to provide some. Back in the saddle for 2019 with new single ‘Sarah’s Nose’,…

Visceral rock’n’roll will never go out of fashion, and from Rushden come riding those Greasy Diablos to provide some. Back in the saddle for 2019 with new single ‘Sarah’s Nose’, New Boots spoke to singer Matt Bland and guitarist Ian Marshall.

How did you guys get together?
Matt: Difficult to pinpoint really; I would say around 2010. I  joined after spending many of my youthful years as a drum & bass MC. I fell out of love with the scene and wanted to do something different. I knew Ian through BMX when we were younger, I found out he had a band; that was it. Dan Stocker was destined to be in the Diablos, and Matt on bass we met through the local music scene around Rushden.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Matt: Definitely not happy hardcore, definitely not jazz. Its Rock & Roll, its Greasy Diablos!

You had a busy 2017 and then took a break in 2018, and are now back strong gigging again in 2019. Has the break recharged the batteries?
Matt: Rotation of band members didn’t help, that’s probably been more stressful than doing gigs and travelling etc. Now though we have commitment to the cause, so 2019/2020 is looking good and hopefully we can do a lot more festivals and further afield gigs.

Tell us everything about this corking new single, ‘Sarah’s Nose’.
Matt: I believe in all music and arts it’s best to leave to the listener’s interpretations. If you force a subject to strongly it ruins the fluidity of the ride. It’s Rock n’ Roll, and I hope you like it.
Ian: I’d been listening to a lot of old Chicago blues scene stuff from the 60’s, had bit of the riff and Stocker and myself went to the Bunker [our man cave] and finished it off roughly lay-out wise. We took it to practice and Bland was straight on it. It came together really quickly after that! I really enjoy playing it live as has good energy and bounce to it; also everyone loves a story!

Describe the Greasy Diablos live show in less than five words?
Loud, filthy, greasy Rock’nRoll!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues/people you wanna give a shout out to?
Matt: We live on the Northants/Beds border and other than SBD Promotions we have mainly been supported from the Bedford side of things- The Pad Presents guys. As gigs go supporting The Spitfires at The Picturedrome was a great night, and with Salpa Sulpa at Roadmender also. Shout outs to Garden, Type 22, and Kenneth J Nash.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Matt: Getting over 5,000 hits of ‘Sarah’s Nose’ the first week on Spotify.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Matt: The Kumari [self-titled] – shout out to them, great band.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Ian: Get more of our songs recorded and released. I would love to play some iconic festivals next year; the smallest stage will be fine!
Matt: Enjoy ourselves & be happy! Keep progressing: new songs, and getting them out there.

Sarah’s Nose is out now via the usual digital platforms

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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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New Music Friday: The Very Lazy Sundays

The Very Lazy Sundays is a misnomer, New Boots imagines, as there is nothing slack  concerning the logistics of having band members spread out between Northampton, Hertfordshire and Kent. Duncan…

The Very Lazy Sundays is a misnomer, New Boots imagines, as there is nothing slack  concerning the logistics of having band members spread out between Northampton, Hertfordshire and Kent. Duncan McLaughlan aka Tramp D’Addy is a busy ShoeTown man, and he gets a moment to shine here with their new EP ‘Love…a Lot’. New Boots keeps the work rate up by asking them to tell us all about it.

Who is in the band?
We are:
Diyar Abdullah – guitar and lead vocals
George Harvey – guitars 
Pete White – Cajon and backing vocals
Duncan McLaughlan – bass and backing vocals

How did you guys get together?
Diyar and George founded The Lazy Sundays in 2010. The band went through a couple of incarnations before Pete and Dunk joined in 2017. George and Diyar have been the crux of the band since inception, turning Diyar’s poems and ideas into songs. Meanwhile, Pete and Dunk had been gigging together since 2013, and met George through mutual friends. He asked them to do some backing vocals on a few songs they were recording, which evolved into George and Diyar asking them to join them.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
We’re often compared to having a similar sound to Paul Simon, Eels, Jack Johnson, and The Streets. Our songs cover a lot of different styles and influences, but the common thread is storytelling with groove, hooks, melody and harmonies

Tell us everything about this new EP.
The first EP, ‘Live…a Little’, from January 2018, was recorded and mixed in a day, and we’d recorded it exactly as we’d play it at gigs. Essentially a well-produced demo. We knew these new songs needed a little more panache in the production if we wanted to get them played on the radio, so we booked two days to record and another two days to mix. We were really lucky to have Mark McCann at The Lodge Studios in Northampton producing us. He spent a lot of time – even before we got into the studio – listening to our influences and sussing out how they got their sound. It was a real education watching him listen to Simon & Garfunkel and discovering how their sound on ‘The Boxer ‘was achieved – what mics they used, how the instruments and voices were blended. He was really excited about recreating classic analogue recording processes in the Lodge’s studio, and the results are fantastic.

We played everything live as a group – the guitars, cajon, bass and Diyar’s vocals, which gives the overall organic feel. No click tracks, no autotune, all mics and no DI – your standard recording setup for 1969! Mark had mic’d us up so perfectly we barely needed any post production to the core performance. We recorded the core tracks in a day at the Lodge, and spent the following day adding extra instrumentation – the piano and mandolin on ‘Sometimes A Broken Heart’, the B52’s-ish electric guitar lick at the end of ‘Higher Love’, and the eerie backward-backing-vocals on ‘Café de Paris’. We wanted to keep the vibe of a live performance, so were really careful not to overstretch or go too Pet Sounds with the overdubs. Essentially the sound of the EP is us playing live – if we had a budget for a mandolinist, pianist and a couple of extra backing singers.

As for the songs on ‘Love…a Lot’, we’d written nearly a dozen songs since the first EP, many of which had become part of our live set. However we’d opted for four songs we knew were good but hadn’t yet road-tested. ‘Blow Wind Blow’ is a lullaby we put together in an AirBnB we stayed in when we toured around the East Coast last Spring. ‘Higher Love’ reflects our love of soul and gospel, like a Stax rhythm section without the horns, documenting the beginnings of a love affair, whilst simultaneously lambasting London’s property prices (”Rare find/Circle Line/Two stops/Paid bucks/Bought yourself a bloody shoebox!”). But the track we really wanted to take our time with during the recording was ‘Sometimes a Broken Heart’, about the healing process after a relationship ends. It’s probably our best group performance so far, and we’ll release it as a single once we’ve made a video for it.

What are your live shows like?
We absolutely love playing live. We’ve played to hundreds at festivals, we’ve played to tens at kebab houses, and there’s no difference to us; it’s the challenge of connecting with the audience. Though we probably gig a lot less than most bands, we try and make each show unique and special. We played a show last week with Space; our first big gig since we’d hit the studio. We played to hundreds of people, and it was just as raw and intimate as if we were playing in a tiny club. Diyar is a great frontman, and though he’s perched on a stool most of the time he actually stood up during the rap section of ‘Higher Love’, which was hilarious for us, and totally galvanised the crowd. We usually open our shows with an acapella song from the first EP: three-part harmony singing without a safety net is always daunting, but it’s a great attention-grabber.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands?
Not yet! Dunk runs the monthly Open Mic’s at The Black Prince, and also the Sunday Acoustic sessions that run throughout the summer in the Black Prince garden. He always gets a mixture of poets, singer/songwriters, story-tellers and instrumentalists to play with us, and we’re looking forward to playing there over the summer on August 17th. We’re also really stoked to be involved with Kontra Roots, who put on some great live music events around Northamptonshire featuring local, national and international artists.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Recording at The Lodge the second time around was a real game changer for us. It was when we realised we’d come a long way as a band since our last visit. The first playback of ‘Sometimes a Broken Heart’ was a proper “Eureka!” moment!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
George: The Macabees – Marks to Prove It
Dunk: The Soft Boys – The John Peel Sessions
Diyar: Roxette – Don’t Bore Us, Get to the Chorus
Pete: The Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up the Girl

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
You mean aside from having Blue Plaques erected to each of us in Northampton, Tring, Reading and Ashford? Firstly we want to spread the word about our EP as widely as possible, make a video for ‘Sometimes a Broken Heart’ and release it as a single in the spring. We’ve got loads more songs in the pipeline, and can’t wait to get back to The Lodge again. We can’t wait to play to a ShoeTown crowd again, either!

Love…a Lot is out via BandCamp, or on CD from the band directly

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New Music Friday: Josh Wylie

Northants singer-songwriter Josh Wylie creates catchy melodies that mix folk with indie-pop. His latest single ‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is his best yet, so New Boots took the time to…

Northants singer-songwriter Josh Wylie creates catchy melodies that mix folk with indie-pop. His latest single ‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is his best yet, so New Boots took the time to get some background from him.

How did you start writing and performing?
I began performing from an early age treading the boards at my local theatre in Finedon, Northamptonshire. When I was in my teenage years I began to write down lyrics that came to me and I’d record the melody on my phone and experiment with that. After pursuing a career in theatre and performing on the West End Stage I decided to follow my singer-songwriter roots. I picked up the guitar late, when I was twenty-one, at university, following a handful of lessons with a mate and a few beers – and self-taught myself from there. I’m by no means a Jimi Hendrix, but the acoustic guitar has helped me to forge my melodies and fuse them with my vocals; providing a new way of expressing myself.

How would you describe your sound?
Indie acoustic pop with a folky edge. I don’t really think about what genre I’m creating when I do it, it just sort of falls into that category I guess. Having an open mind to what you’re about to create is the secret I’d say. I never set out to ‘create a folk song’. I think I’d be limiting myself. Influence wise the main artist that I would go as far to say is my ‘idol’ [and I don’t use that term very often] is Frank Sinatra. The man had it all. The voice. The charisma. The stage presence. [I’ve released a swing covers album too, I like to be versatile].

What have you put out so far? What has been the reaction like?
I released my first major music video ‘Waiting Game’ in 2015 whilst at uni. I never expected the reaction it got. It’s hit over 30 thousand views to date. I don’t really know how it happened, but I’ll take it! University was a big social hub at the time. It was a massive creative community at the London College of Music and I think all the students really took note of each other’s work and there was a massive respect for ‘new music’.

Tell us everything about this new single, ‘Rockets In Your Mind’.
‘Rockets In Your Mind’ has been in my back catalogue for years! I think I actually wrote it way back in 2012 when I split with my ex-girlfriend. Breakups always make successful songs. It sounds cliche, but it’s true! It tells the story of a relationship that has reached breaking point. “Seems I’ve woke the rocket’s in your mind” is used metaphorically speaking to describe rocket-propelled missiles. These missiles are representative of the sheer destructive power of one’s mind, and the deadly damage it can cause. I’ve written a lot of songs but there’s just something about this song that makes it my favourite. It’s everything I’m about when it comes to music. It’s catchy, relatable and it make you want to grab the nearest chair, table or box and use it as a drum.

What are your live shows like?
My live shows vary. Acoustically speaking I often play small and intimate gigs. This year I’m focusing more on the studio and developing my songwriting. I want to have enough fresh music for the next decade! Last year was a really cool breakthrough year for me. Having performed my first so called ‘mini tour’ across Northamptonshire it was great to hit the scene sharing my music, but also to listen to the diverse talent that’s out there. Certain festivals that stood out for me were the likes of ‘Bardic Picnic’ in Northampton and ‘The Music Barn’ in Cranford. I’d definitely recommend either to any festival goer!

A proud moment was when I did a show at the Old Nag’s Head in Wollaston, now the Wollaston Inn. During the 60s and 70s it was famous for showcasing progressive bands of that era. Performing at any venue like that with such rich music history is an absolute blessing.

What has been your favourite Wylie musical moment of the past year?
Can I be cheeky and say two? I think having the opportunity to be a support act to Musical Youth has to be up there! Secondly, working with ‘Live in The Woods’ to film the music video to ‘Girl from Rosario’ was so much fun! Nature and music is just the best combination. I dare anyone to name a better one…

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush. One of the first artists I remember listening to, as my dad used to play all the concert and music videos. I think ‘Cloudbusting’ has to be my favourite from her. Anytime I play her music there’s a big feeling of nostalgia.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
To just bring a smile to many people’s faces. Wherever I play and wherever I go. Playing abroad in Argentina was pretty cool. I have family in Australia and South Africa. They’re itching for me to play a show in their parts. Maybe it’ll happen one day!

‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is out now on the usual digital platforms

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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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New Music Friday: SkyFlood

Northampton rock quartet SkyFlood have been on the edges of the music scene for a bit of time now, but firmly seem set on making a name for themselves in…

Northampton rock quartet SkyFlood have been on the edges of the music scene for a bit of time now, but firmly seem set on making a name for themselves in 2019 with a revised line-up and a series of singles, starting with the marvellous 70s-style rock-pop of ‘Destiny’. New Boots spoke to the band about how they got here and where they go next.

How did you guys get together?
Craig O’Donnell: SkyFlood started about two years ago and not long after we released our first single ‘Flawless’. Since that time we’ve played many shows in and around Northants, but we’ve only recently began to gain some momentum as our current line up. We had a couple of band member replacements, but now it’s the strongest as a group it’s ever been. Rob and Lewis joined in November after advertising online, and Oli and I met through our old bass player over a year ago. With Oli it was love at first sound for me; he really kicked some of the songs up the backside and got them moving.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Craig O’Donnell: I would say it’s upbeat and colourful, as well as being quite dark at the same time. One of my main influences over recent years is Hans Zimmer – there is so much feeling in his scores and sometimes it’s nice to hear music without lyrics to make your own world up in a piece of music. My other influences include Radiohead, London Grammar, and Muse.
Oliver Law: Our sound is very different to anything up-and-coming. We have a wide variety of influences and sounds which all mash together to make something unique. My main influence is Queen which hopefully shows through my style of playing a little.
Lewis Else: Some stand out drummers for me are Jon Beavis [Idles]. He has such an driving and relentless sense of energy. Of course Players like Stewart Copeland too, filled with feel without overplaying ever.
Robert Hughes: Music taste? I like to keep it varied. As much as I love spag bol, I wouldn’t want to eat it every night and I try to keep it that way with music too – a nice varied diet. As players I like John Mcvie and John Deacon because they both focus on serving the song, but both are capable of adding some of the most memorable touches. Think ‘The Chain’ or ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ – in both cases simple but trademark bass lines.

What was the reaction like to ‘Flawless’ single, from 2017?
Craig O’Donnell: ‘Flawless’ was strange just because we released the song before playing any gigs and also had it played on BBC Introducing, so for anyone who listened to it that would have been their first time hearing it before they had even seen us perform it. The initial reception was great; we managed to get a few gigs just from that song alone, and it really helped us to build a platform to progress.

Tell us about this new single, ‘Destiny’.
Oliver Law: ‘Destiny’ was the first track I jammed with Craig. It started off very Supertramp, but it gradually became more dynamic and stronger to get the live shows going with a bang. It’s probably my favourite track.

What are your live shows like?
Craig O’Donnell: I would say, energetic and emotional. Our set starts off quite energetic and we try and carry that through the whole set but with the lyrics of some of the songs it balances out quite nicely

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
Craig O’Donnell: Yeah, my favourite place I think is probably The White Hart in Corby. It can be quite an intimate but explosive venue and when everything is just right it can make for some amazing shows there. My favourite band is Sarpa Salpa: we played our very first gig with them, and they were so lovely and kind to us and ever since I’ve been a massive fan of them, and their music is great too. My other close favourite is definitely King Purple – we haven’t played with them but really want to, they’re again so lovely and make amazing tunes.
Oliver Law: I’m more familiar with the Northampton venues than local bands. We’ve played a few local venues. I Always love the King Billy because it’s quite well known. Hopefully we can move up to the Roadmender before the year is out.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Craig O’Donnell: My favourite moment is actually hearing ‘Destiny’ on BBC Northampton, because there was nearly a point it wasn’t going to see the light of day and to top it off Lal had very lovely words to say about it, which I was ecstatic with.
Oliver Law: Favourite moment of last year was finally getting ‘Destiny’ and a few of our other tracks recorded. We went through a couple of producers because we were very picky about the mix, and we drove them out of the country. But we eventually got there with a company called Damage Audio, who has absolutely knocked it out the park

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Craig O’Donnell: Mine was an Icelandic Artist called Olafur Arnalds, called Re:member
Oliver Law: The last album I bought…25 copies of our unreleased EP, because it’s that good.
Lewis Else: The last EP I bought was Flamingods ‘Kewali’. It’s a crazy mix of eastern folk mixed with psychedelia and electronic music

What is your burning desire for the band to do in 2019? What plans do you have?
Robert Hughes: To play some gigs, write some anthems, entertain the masses and have some excellent fun.
Craig O’Donnell: Destiny is going to be the first release of 2019 and definitely not the last from what we’ve got lined up.

‘Destiny’ is out now across the usual digital platforms. Photo credit: Hana Smith

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