Tag: northants

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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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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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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New Music Friday: Kev Minney

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with…

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with the release of new single ‘God Is An Algorithm’ New Boots took the opportunity to get some more of the details of his personal and musical journey.

How did you become a singer-songwriter?
I became a singer-songwriter after turning 30. Before this time I spent almost two decades around the Northampton jam scene. I think I always was searching to do something deeply creative, but never had the confidence, or never knew exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I moved to Brighton around seven years ago. I think I needed the change of scenery, and that change helped me discover that I wanted to play folk music, rather than rock/blues/jazz stuff. I was always in and out of various different bands, but in the back of my mind I was seeking what I wanted to do. It kind of was perfect timing to have this change; a lot of other things changed for me around that time. If I would have stayed in Northampton I would have made this change eventually, even though being in Brighton did help, it was the more the case that I needed to find a new love for music. I was always listening to artist like Nick Drake and co, but was never playing that stuff.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in getting to here?
I like the fact that I sing with my Northampton voice. A lot of folks down here in Brighton think I’m from a small farm or something, because of my accent isn’t as clean as it is down here. I play around with a lot of odd guitar tunings, and like to find various inverted chords. The piece I’m writing needs to interest me first and foremost. I get easily bored, so it has to have something unusual about it. I obviously hope that my sound is interesting to the listener, or at least I hope they can either be inspired or feel something from the song. A lot of influence probably comes from the guitar, though I find it more interesting when it comes from the song. With my songs I try my best to not hide anything and be open with them. The album I have listened to the most is Blue by Joni Mitchell, and for that very reason of being total open, raw and emotive.

Your album Stories Of The Sky from 2017 seemed to go down well. What was the reaction like?
Ah, it is so hard to say. From an artist point of view, you either look too much into it, or kick it under the carpet and try not to look. I was very pleased with it, I learned a million lessons, and I improved. I think this is what artists should always aim for; to always improve, and provide honest, decent songs. To be completely transparent the artist also needs a good level of drive too, as well as good songs. I worked incredibly hard to get it out there and heard, and just hoped that people enjoy it. I felt that Stories of the Sky was a time of establishing myself in the singer-songwriting world. I am happy with it and very happy with the reaction I received. I got played on BBC Radio, in Acoustic magazine, and knocked out a few European and UK tours. Though I am more happy with my forthcoming second album, but I think everyone says that!

Tell us about this new single, ‘God Is An Algorithm’.
First of all, the whole album [to be called Modern Stories] is all about stories of our modern time: technology, mental health or having good friends, it’s very broad. This single is about that algorithms making more and more decisions for us, therefore losing our free will. Book writer Yuval Noah Harari had just released his second book Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow. He was talking on a podcast and he mentioned the words ‘God is an algorithm’ – I thought, that’s a great song title, and listened further to the podcast. A week or so later, and after reading some of his book, I managed to write the song. I am really inspired by technology, astronomy, and general philosophy. I sometimes switch between these subjects and raw human emotions in my songs, or try to link the two.

What are your live shows like? Why should people come see you?
Sometimes it is just me, sometimes with Andy who plays keys, violins, mandocellos and other instruments. Sometimes it’s with Steph who plays keys and provides backing vocals. And for my next gig I have hired a string quartet! I much prefer playing with others when possible. I try my best to engage with the audience, and try my best to just be myself.

Best thing about moving to Brighton? Worst thing about leaving Northampton?
Leaving Northampton was really hard. I have a lot of good friends there, but it was a decision I had to make, as I was desperate for a change. I recently recorded a video with AudioStage in Northampton [for series 3], and was chatting to Marcus and co. They mentioned how the Northampton scene music is growing, which is amazing. We have always had so many great musicians and bands, and it is great to hear it is growing. When I moved to Brighton in 2011 it wasn’t purely for music reasons, it was more-so for needing a change, I was 29 when I left and it was the first time I left my hometown. Brighton has a great music scene: it’s lively, every night there is something happening, and I have managed to become friends with a lot of folks in the music scene here. I still keep in touch with people in Northampton, and they also support me a lot with my music. I am really appreciative of this.

What has been your favourite moment of the past 12 months, career-wise?
Quite a few! Recording the ten songs and making the music videos were all enjoyable. I have really enjoyed playing shows with Andy and Steph. We have been having a great time playing live, and this last year I have felt that I have much more confidence on stage. That’s a big thing, as it took me a while to get over nerves, which I still have, but I feel more at home. Those who know me know that I stutter a bit, and sometimes stuttering whilst talking live is a bit of a pain in the arse. But I’m used to it; sometimes I just can’t always get my message across clearly.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
As I writing this I am listening to an artist called The Miserable Rich – I’m loving their music [chamber pop]. Also the classics, I have been playing a lot of Beatles stuff recently. I kinda purposefully pick songs to sing along with, so I can improve my voice. Recently I have been trying to learn the cheesiest song ever written, ‘Unchained Melody’. It’s beautiful, but so hard to sing!

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Mostly to carry on what I am doing. I feel I have found a really nice balance of being creative and getting stuff done. I am already writing the third record, so that’s on the cards for sure. Steph and I are currently setting up a European tour, and then will do another UK tour. So, yes, write, record, tour, love it!

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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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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide May 8th – May 14th

PIQUED JACKS Wednesday May 8th The Lab, Northampton Alt-rock band from Italy. With a secret support act…Doors 8pm, free entry SONARS + SAD DRONE Thursday May 9th The Lamplighter, Northampton…

PIQUED JACKS
Wednesday May 8th
The Lab, Northampton
Alt-rock band from Italy. With a secret support act…Doors 8pm, free entry

SONARS + SAD DRONE
Thursday May 9th
The Lamplighter, Northampton
Two-piece electro-psych outfit from Brighton/Italy, plus improvised ambient soundscapes from the team of Joshua Ryan, Joel Harries and Joe Brown. Doors 8pm, free entry

NORTHAMPTON FOLK FESTIVAL
Friday May 10th – Sunday May 12th
The Black Prince, Northampton
Three days of acoustic strumming and real ale. Perfect for these Game Of Thrones end days. Times vary, £2 per day

SECRET AFFAIR + SQUIRE
Friday May 10th
The Roadmender, Northampton
Glory Boys 40th anniversary tour for the mod revivalists, whose debut single ‘Time For Action’ reached number 13 in the UK chart. Squire released the first single of the genre, ‘Get Ready to Go’, in March 1979. Doors 7pm, £20 tickets

CAPTAIN ACCIDENT & THE DISASTERS + THE BIGHEAD + JIMMY PIKE & THE REDSTARS
Friday May 10th
The Lab, Northampton
Cardiff ska/reggae headliners come to Northampton for the first time to get people up and dancing. Support from Northants pop-reggae group, and the left-leaning political dub/reggae instrumentalists. Doors 7pm, £5 entry

MONARCHS + BLOOD-VISIONS + NAILBREAKER
Saturday May 11th
Club 43, Northampton
Loud and heavy Kettering three-piece headline the ‘Rebel Waltz’ night. Support from ShoeTown “technicolour hardcore” band and the NN10 digital hardcore man of the moment. Doors 8pm; free before 9pm, £4 after

ORANGE CLOCKS + TRIPSPACE
Saturday May 11th
Windmill Club, Rushden
A night of psychedelic delights, with all proceeds going to Rushden Mind, a local charity. Doors 7.30pm, donations

EXPETYA + PRIMAL HOLOCAUST + THE CREATURE WITHIN + WOVENLUNG
Saturday May 11th
Raffs Bar, Wellingborough
Bloodstock Festival’s Metal 2 The Masses gives unsigned acts the chance to play the New Blood Stage at the festival. Doors 6pm,  £5 tickets

THE ELECTRIC SIX
Tuesday May 14th
The Picturedrome, Northampton
One of the best live bands around, the band have a range of influences from new romantic to metal and a bit of disco thrown in for good measure. The Jack White-featuring breakthrough single ‘Danger! High Voltage’ was a disco-laden indie club banger that thrust the band into international acclaim and MTV stardom. The band followed up with one of the most quotable songs of all time, ‘Gay Bar’, and it’s tongue-in-cheek video took the band into another stratosphere completely. Doors 7.30pm, £16.50 tickets

 

 

 

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New Music Friday: EGO

Milton Keynes/Northampton trio EGO is the new brainchild of Sean Grant, the man behind growly rockers S.G. Wolfgang. Joined by Phill Andreas on guitar and Darren Stephens on drums, the…

Milton Keynes/Northampton trio EGO is the new brainchild of Sean Grant, the man behind growly rockers S.G. Wolfgang. Joined by Phill Andreas on guitar and Darren Stephens on drums, the band are on a mission to get down and dirty with your rock’n’roll desires. Their new eponymously-titled EP, featuring lead single ‘Gurl Is Gunna Kill U’, is a real treat, and New Boots went and got all the background titbits from Mr Grant.

How did you guys get together?
EGO was born from a love of heavier music and boredom. It was an inbetweeny moment of having some free time and throwing together some music which I really enjoyed. Originally it was me and Mark, but it had no future unfortunately, so I recruited some mates that just so happened to play the required instruments. Three mates playing in a band having a laugh, just like when we all aspire to start our first band with starry eyes.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
Angry sexy shouty punky rock. Definitely if Jamie Lenman had a gangbang with Idles and Frank Carter.

What was the reaction like to your ‘Social Media SUX’ single last year? It seems the social media backlash is in full effect these days…
Yeah it was good; I think people were digging it as it was a bit different. BBC Introducing gave it some love, which we’re always appreciative of. Ah social media, we all love and hate you. It’s still a great platform to reach a fan base, although now you mainly have to pay for advertising to reach that fan base. Although I can’t see it going anywhere.

Tell us everything about this new EP
It is mind blergh from my brain. Whatever’s in there comes out in my writing. It’s heavy, but it’s melodic and screamy – but hopefully in the right places. It’s angry and it’s cheeky, but it has its sombre moments. It’s the whole flipping spectrum in five tracks. It’s fundamentally EGO. It’s not taking itself too seriously, it’s having fun. It’s remembering why you want to make music, and loving it again. I fundamentally write all the tracks with embellishment from the lads, and in the same way I record and produce all of it too. It’s something that I’ve played at before, and with this project wanting to to have complete control it just made sense to to do it myself. That’s why we’ve birthed Alt:Disco Records too; it’s all our vehicle and we’re looking forward to being at the steering wheel. ‘Gurl Is Gunna Kill U’ was from Friday nights DJing the club night Alt:Disco [at The Craufurd Arms]. Seeing the endless pursuit by men of the women on the dancefloor, and thinking “man that girl is going to kill you”…or “that girl is literally going to kill you”. I love a play on words, a double-edged sword… And a song was born.

What are your live shows been like so far?
Amazing noisily horribly fun. It definitely has a more interesting stage dynamic with myself just screaming / singing, a guitarist guitaring and a drummer drumming. We have our own little bubble, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the freedom of just being a frontman.

What has been your favourite EGO moment of the past year?
Mark and I did a northern tour which was pretty cool and 100% laughs, and I’m just looking forward to this new release and unleashing the new live setup for the world to see!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northants/Bucks, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues you wanna give a shout out to?
Definitely; I’m always open to collaboration and helping each other out. Definitely The Craufurd Arms in Wolverton, and the most recent band who’ve jumped on the bill at our EP show Loose Tooth – SICK BAND.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I’m a big fan of local music, so it was actually the new release from Big Loss! Bloody lovely stuff by three lovely people. Apart from that then the new Crows album Silver Tongues is colossus.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
All we aspire to is to be bigger than Ginger Snaps.

The EGO EP is out now on Alt:Disco Records via the usual download and streaming platforms

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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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