Music

The LaFontaines – Common Problem

Sunday 15th October 2017

Track Listing:

1. Explosion
2. Too Late
3. Common Problem
4. Torture
5. Hang Fire
6. Goldmine
7. Armour
8. Atlas
9. What Do I Know
10. Total Control
11. Release The Hounds
12. Asleep

Having built a reputation as one of Scotland’s most exciting live bands, The LaFontaines are making a name for themselves and fast.  They’ve already sold out Glasgow’s Barrowlands, played London’s KOKO and the main stage at T in the Park; and they’ve also performed at The Great EscapeTRNSMT and Download Festival.  Their debut album “Class” charted in the UK Top 100 and Scottish Top 10, and went on to score Number 1 in the UK Indie Breakers chart back in 2015.  Now, 2 years later the band are back with their next brutally honest and outpouring offering in the shape of their next album “Common Problem.”

“Common Problem is a much darker record than our debut release,” says front-man Kerr Okan. “We’re not as young and naive as we were in our early twenties. We’ve been around the world as a band, seen a lot of things and discovered our one big Common Problem… There is a lot of angst, truth and reality held within this album.”

Straight off the bat I knew this album would hit me instantly, and I was excited with anticipation for what was about to be laid at my feet.  With a sound that fuses together rock music with elements of rap, hip-hop and pop, it’s great to finally hear a band that are ready to sit at the top table with the likes of Twenty One Pilots and Twin Atlantic.  In fact, with opening track “Explosion” I reckon these guys would be able to tear through a Pendulum set quicker than it would take for the mic to drop.

Lead single “Common Problem” opens with a sound familiar to Paramore “Hard Times” and this is exactly where the pop influences start to shine through, and as the first release from the album it shows off the unique capabilities of The LaFontaines.  Think along the lines of Macklemore who uses all the same rap to pop components, and of the same ilk these guys then carry that on through to the rest of the album in to an honest, raw insight of the realities the band are desperate for you to hear.

Remember when the Arctic Monkeys wrote a song telling us about the seedy streets of Sheffield? Well, “Armour” has the same edge to it but with a lot more raucous energy, and an anthemic chorus that is bound to make this a live favourite.  “Atlas” is a bittersweet track, with Kerr singing “let me tell you about the pain of being alone, you can tell me about the pain of being with someone.” whilst “Release The Hounds” reels back in to an indie-pop track, before “Asleep” pounces in and finishes off the album with its trippy bass line.

I realise that I have made quite a few comparisons to other artists, but that’s because to sum it up, this album is amazing. The LaFontaines aren’t like anything that I have heard in a long time, and trying to pin point who I can relate these guys to is quite difficult. The reason for that is simply because they’re not trying to fit in to any mould or fill another bands shoes, they’re authentic and bring an originality to the rock genre.

Connect with The LaFontaines via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Lectures – Interview

Thursday 12th October 2017

Experimental four-piece Lectures are due to release their next EP “Distraction Shades” on the 20th October; with the promise of hook driven melodies and addictive riffs, and taking inspirations from the likes of RadioheadFlying Lotus and Wild Beasts, I was intrigued by this unique band.  Forming during their school years, the band have continued with their aspirations of writing music and also decided to self-produce their latest EP.  Lectures are still finding their feet, but are already gaining support from BBC Radio 1, Radio 6 Music and Sofar Sounds, so I chat with the band to find out about the upcoming EP and how they’re feeling about the release.

Hello! How are you guys, and what have you been doing with yourselves today?

We’re great thanks – we’ve been rehearsing/writing today.

Where and how did the band meet, and what made you decide to form Lectures?

We’ve been making music together since school as Lectures but carried on after we left and gradually changed without choosing another name.

We’re only days away from the release of your EP “Distraction Shades.” How are you feeling about getting your new music out there, and how would you say it compares to your previous material?

We’ve been sitting on the EP for a while so it feels good to finally put it out. It’s perhaps less polished than our first EP, but musically it is more ambitious, and there’s definitely more of a thread running through the songs.

You produced the EP yourselves; how did you find the process?

We all have mixed feelings about the process – generally a lot of over thinking things or not thinking enough – but we ended up with something we’re all really proud of. We’ve strived to be self-sufficient for a long time and it feels like we’re kind of there now.

How easy was it to pick to final 5 tracks, and were there any that didn’t make the final cut?

These 5 were the only songs we completed, and they all felt worth releasing. Although “Morning Forms” didn’t come together properly until the last minute.

What’s the story behind your latest single “Your Whatever?”

Half of the ideas for “Your Whatever” came from an older song that we liked but couldn’t finish. The rest was just built out of that, but with a different lyrical vibe.

What’s your writing process as a band, and how do you come together to create the final track?

It varies from song to song, but this EP was a result of collecting lots of small ideas over time and then bringing them together quickly. Entry Point and Peaches came together easily in the room, whereas SAD existed for almost a year before we could complete it.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

While making Distraction Shades we were listening to artists like Wild Beasts, Radiohead, Andy Stott and Darkside. We mostly try to copy artists we like and get it wrong, so we occupy the space in between the real deal and supermarket own brand. For example, making Entry Point we were aiming for D’Angelo but only managed Vanilla Ice.

I’ve recently discovered Sofar Sounds and noticed that you guys performed a few dates in London recently. How did the opportunity come about, and how was the session for you?

That came from us playing a show at Good Karma Club in London last November and someone from Sofar was in the audience, so we got chatting after the show and it went from there. We normally use a lot of gear live, so it was fun stripping the songs down to just the core elements and not worry about pedals or monitors etc.

What’s the furthest you’ve taken your music so far, and where do you hope it will lead you to?

The furthest it’s gone so far is having the EP pressed to vinyl, which makes it seem a bit more real. In terms of ambition, we just want to write music with each other for as long as possible and share it with people who like it and connect with it.

Connect with Lectures via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Huxtable – Change Shape Future

Wednesday 27th September 2017

Track Listing:

1. Don’t Do Anything Fancy
2. Super Toxic
3. You Got It To Go
4. Break It Hard
5. Act Of War

I was introduced to Huxtable off the back of their single “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of their debut EP ever since.  The Scottish duo are making a name for themselves having already supported the likes of Biffy ClyroSlaves and Zane Lowe; and with each of the guys armed with drums and a guitar, and a huge bag of riffs over their shoulder, their storming EP “Change Shape Future” is due for release this Friday.

At first, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to fellow two-piece Royal Blood, because their debut single and first track on the EP “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” has a hook at the start that sounds very similar to hit single “Lights Out.”  When the vocals kick in I’m then hearing elements of Biffy Clyro and with these comparissons, I feel it’s certainly good company to be in.  However, during the last minute of the track there is a kazoo solo.  Yes you read that right, a kazoo solo ladies and gentlemen.  It reminds me of that time I played ‘name that tune’ on the kazoo after a few drinks and not managing to make it through “Barbie Girl” without choking on laughter.  With that in mind, I wonder how many takes it took these guys to get that recorded…

Speaking with the band back in August, Huxtable assured me there would be some strange and wonderful instrumentation on the EP, with plenty of hooks and excitable tracks.  Well they certainly lived up to their word with second track “Super Toxic” which has the most arousing opening, and also has a quirky video which features the duo appear as their alter egos in puppet form.  The guys also told me as part of the interview that for them, making music was about having fun and that they were out to make music that excited them.  For me, “Super Toxic” sums that up nicely!

Talking about the album, Huxtable say that “’Change Shape Future’ is all about embracing change and how if you want something different out of life you need to make changes. It’s a pretty basic idea really, but one I think we need to be reminded of. Constantly adapt to where you want to be in the future – make the change that will shape your future. We’ve been writing for about 18 months, the original plan was to do an album – but we decided that an EP would be the best way to go – It’s quite a nerve racking thing having been in a little bubble for so long and now we are thinking – “this is the most confident record we have made, let’s see if people agree!” It’s an excited nervousness.”

“You Got To Go” is quite a hectic track, it sounds as though there’s a lot going on in the background, but there’s a funky little twinge of the guitar picking it’s way through, alongside a tasty riff that captivates the whole track.  The way in which this track develops is great, the hooks become rapid, the vocals gutsy, and then it ends quickly but softly with a tap of the high hat. Moving through, “Break It Hard” brings the ballsy rock and high energy, with “Act Of War” ending on a slightly poppier vibe.  There’s something about this track that actually reminds me of Greenday, which I would put down to it being a very solid track that has a well established sound to it.

Having spent 18 months writing their EP, Huxtable have proved they’re able to step up and give their peers a run for their money.  Being able to slot nicely in to a genre that is already rife with bands that are at the top of their game is something to be proud of, and here’s hoping that “Change Shape Future” takes the band to that well deserved next level.  It’s a fantastic showcase of what the guys can do, and here’s hoping a full album is on the horizon for the not too distant future.

Connect with Huxtable via their WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

Tom Lumley – Interview

Tuesday 26th September 2017

Cambridge born Tom Lumley has just announced his next single “Just Like The Light” and being fortunate enough to have an advanced preview, Tom has instantly been added to my list of artists to watch out for.  This year has seen some great new music from up and coming artists, and I already know that we are going to be hearing a lot more from Tom over the coming months. It’s been an exciting year having already performed at a string of live dates, being picked up by BBC Introducing Cambridgeshire and winning Best Male Solo Artist at the NMG Awards; but Tom isn’t stopping there.  His next single “Just Like The Light” is due for release this week and he has further tour dates lined up to see the year through.  I couldn’t let such amazing talent pass me by so I caught up with Tom to find out how he’s feeling about his release and upcoming tour dates, and what we can also expect from him next.

Your next single “Just Like The Light” is due for release on the 28th September.  How are you feeling about getting your new music out there?

I’m very excited. It feels like it’s been a while since I released ‘Dream City’ and it feels like people really can’t wait to hear it.

What’s the single about?

The singles about the type of people that will soon turn on your friendship and stab you in the back to be part of a more popular group of people.

How does the single compare to previous material on your debut EP “Dream City,” and how would you say you’ve grown as a musician? 

I’d definitely say it’s another step up. I don’t really know how to explain how but it just feels like as a band we’re moving forward all the time.

Congratulations on winning Best Male Solo Artist at the NMG Awards!  How was the event, and what did winning the award mean to you?

Thank you! It was an amazing night. The event has grown and grown, the likes of Mallory Knox, Lonely The Brave and John Kennedy were involved this year in handing out awards. Best Male Solo is an award I’ve always wanted to win but to be honest never thought I would. It’s such a hard category so to be chosen by a judging panel made up of well respected industry professionals is mad.

Could you tell me about your writing process?  Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, and how do you know when a song is ready?

I start my songs off on my own with an acoustic guitar. I tend to get them to a point where I feel happy then pitch them to my guitarist Jake Day. He’ll help with changing a few bits then we demo them in his studio.

You’ve been picked up by BBC Introducing Cambridgeshire, which is fantastic.  How does it feel hearing your music on the radio?

It still feels weird. It’s just nice to know people are liking my music enough to want to play it. BBC Introducing Cambridgeshire have been so supportive of me and I really can’t thank Tom Simkins enough for that.

Are you looking to release your next EP or album in the near future?

At the moment I’m going to stick with singles. I have a locker full of songs but I don’t want to rush it and just chuck them out there. I’m going to try and keep building the fan base whilst releasing singles until I think it’s the right time for an album.

How are you enjoying being on the road and touring? You’ve got a jam-packed tour schedule for the rest of the year.

We’ve just had a month and a bit off after festival season which to be honest has been horrible. We all felt we needed a little break but I’ve hated it, I just love being on stage. It has been nice to get a lot of writing done and add some songs to the live show though. We can’t wait to get back on the road.

Who has been your favourite band or artist to tour with so far?

We haven’t necessarily done a whole tour with one band yet so I can’t really say. Playing shows with The Hunna was mad though, they’re top lads. We tend to play a lot of shows and festivals with a good mate of mine Oscar Corney, so we always have a good laugh with him.

If you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

Oooo hard question. I’d want to do something completely different to my music and try make it my own. I’d probably go for a Britney Spears or Girls Aloud song to be honest, change it up a bit.

Connect with Tom Lumley via his Facebook and Twitter.

Hundred Handed – Interview

Thursday 21st September 2017

It’s not every day that you get a personal letter in your mailbox from a band introducing themselves, but that’s exactly what I got from Californian band Hundred Handed.  I always take the time to read everything that comes my way, but with such an exciting introduction from the guys who are proclaiming they’re the happiest band around, I jumped at the chance to write back! Listening to their latest single “Miss California” their sound showcases exactly what they’re all about – it’s punchy, lively and ever so dreamy.  Hundred Handed are out for a good time and have set their lasers to FUN!  I check in with drummer, Drew Langan to find out more.

Hello! I’m Rachel! How are you guys, and what have you been doing with yourselves today?

Hey Rachel! This is Drew from Hundred Handed. We’ve actually been having a pretty mellow day. We’re currently watching Twister (great film, little cheesy) and later we’re going to see a French rapper called MHD at The Fonda. Seriously amazing.

It seems that you’re having a lot fun together right now. What does it mean to be in a band as such good friends?

We are! It means everything. We spend so much time together, we wouldn’t be able to do it if we weren’t best friends. When we started this band, our goal was to have as much fun as possible and to be completely unapologetic about it. So far so good!

You’ve been in other bands previously; but where did you first meet and how did you know you wanted to form a band together? 

We first met when we were hopping on a tour bus to spend the next six weeks together. We both kind of joined the same band at the same time and that was right before a tour. We were always on the same page, especially with the type of music we like and want to make. Ten years and a few barrels of Jack Daniel’s later, were still on the same page.

How do you think your past experiences will help you with Hundred Handed?

They’ve already helped a ton. We’ve been doing this long enough that we knew exactly what we wanted to do with this band from the get go. We knew we didn’t want to be too serious, and that we just wanted to make music that we love, that’s FUN, and makes you want to dance your ass off.

You’ve released 3 singles this year with “Miss California” being your latest release. How are you finding the response to your music so far? 

It’s been great! The feedback we get is always positive and we’re stoked to know that the fun we’re having translates to the music and to the listener. Did I mention we’re having fun?

What’s your writing process as a band; how do you come together to create the final track, and how do you know when a song is finished?

With us, it’s always different. We don’t have some magical formula that we stick to that works every time. Sometimes It starts with a vocal melody or a lyric idea. Sometimes it’s a guitar riff, or a chord progression. As far as knowing when it’s done, we have a studio in our house, so we just lock ourselves in there until we both love it!

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

Our influences are all over the place. Jordan likes everything from Blink-182 to Daft Punk to Tina Turner. I’ve got Mariah Carey, Slipknot, and a whole bunch of classic rock. All of our influences have had a hand in shaping who we are musically, so they kind of just nudge their way into our writing and performing even if we’re not consciously drawing on them.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

We are! We just finished up a song a few days ago and I believe that was the last one we wanted to finish for an EP. We should have a release date pretty soon.

What’s the music scene like in LA and are there any venues in particular that you enjoy playing?

The music scene here is awesome. There is definitely a ton of music happening, which can make it difficult to sift through, but there’s no denying that that creates a lot of opportunity. Artists can play a lot of shows, and fans can see their favorite artists and hopefully discover some new ones.

What’s the furthest you’ve taken your music so far, and where do you hope it will ultimately lead you to?

Australia is pretty far! Our first show was in Canberra for about 10,000 people. That. Was. Surreal. We want our music to reach as many people as possible, take us around the world, and to the very top at the same time. Total world domination!

Connect with Hundred Handed via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Sally Caitlin – Interview

Tuesday 19th September 2017

Rising electronic pop star Sally Caitlin hails from Manchester and has just released her single “Déjà Vu” from her second EP “Experiments.” The EP was written through personal experiences of a relationship breakdown; something which comes natural to many songwriters and is easily relatable to their listeners.  Sally has been writing music since she was 15 years old and knew following her graduation that she wanted to pursue music as a career.  She already has her first self-produced track lined up for 2018, as well as her next album release in the pipe line. “Experiments” is available now so I catch up with Sally to hear about the reactions so far.

For those who are just discovering you please could you tell me a bit more about yourself, where it all started, and what made you decide to pursue music as a career?

I’m a singer-songwriter from Manchester who makes electronic pop music with a bit of an edge. I’ve been writing songs since I was about 15 years old and recording for about four years now. I released my first single, Stuck In Limbo, in 2012 and have recently released my second EP, Experiments. I’ve always loved singing and song-writing but it wasn’t until my graduation from university that I knew I wanted to pursue it as a career, as I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else!

How are you finding the response to your music so far?

So far the response to my music has been great in general! I’ve been supported by a lot of blogs and local radio stations and I get many lovely comments on social media when I share material online. I love speaking to fans after my gigs too! I’m still learning and finding myself as a musician, so even the negative comments can be really useful from a constructive point of view. I’m lucky that most of the time I hear from people who love my music though!

You mentioned that your single “Déjà Vu” was born out of frustrations of being naïve and being played for a fool.  How does it feel listening back knowing the song represents a certain period in your life?

It’s quite a satisfying feeling to listen to a song and know that you used your pain to create something positive. For me, listening to my tracks reminds me of where I was in the past, so there is a nostalgia there, but also of how much I’ve grown. There is no better feeling than listening to a song about someone breaking your heart and knowing that you don’t care anymore!

Who did you work with on the video for the single, and how did it feel seeing it complete?

I worked with an amazing production company in Manchester, called Cosmic Joke. They were so fun to work with and had tonnes of really playful and creative ideas, so the whole process was a ball. Seeing the finished video for me is always nerve-wracking as I’m not a natural on camera, but I’m very happy with the final result.

Are you able to tell me more about your EP “Experiments?” What inspirations have you drawn upon, and how have they encouraged you?

With Experiments, I used people and experiences from my own life to influence my writing. I wanted to tell a story through the EP about a character meeting someone, getting into a relationship and then that relationship breaking down due to it being toxic from the start. Each song draws from situations I have found myself in, but not all from one relationship. It’s almost like a collage of my mistakes! In terms of production, I wanted to make a pop EP that had touches of other genres in it and a good amount of variation. In particular, I was influenced by commercial drum ‘n’ bass, tropical house and electronic artists like Chainsmokers and Cheat Codes.

How easy was it to select the final tracks for your EP, and were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

It was actually pretty easy to select the tracks as I knew how I wanted to tell a story. I wrote Take It All and You Are My Weakness first and then worked backwards through the narrative. There was only a couple of songs I wrote in that period that I decided wouldn’t fit on the EP, just as they didn’t have the right lyrical content.

Could you tell me about your writing process?  Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, or do you just know when a song is ready?

I tend to come up with song ideas at really random times, so I record a quick idea on my phone and then work it out fully at the piano later. After that I look at a few reference tracks for production style and start putting down ideas on my iPad. At the moment I work with ‘The Producers’ in Mansfield to finish my tracks but I’m currently studying production, so in the future I would like to do it all myself. As I have been writing for a long time now, I tend to know when a song is ready. My confidence in song-writing has grown enough over the years that I trust my own vision and judgement.

Being in the early stages of your music career, how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

It’s definitely not an easy industry to be in as everyone ‘makes it’ in different ways and there is no clear path to follow. The best advice I have been given is not to race ahead and try and do everything at once. I’m trying to pace myself these days and not put too much pressure on myself, as I do burn the candle at both ends sometimes. The key for me is staying organised and knowing what your immediate goals are, and ignoring the big picture most of the time.

What have you got planned next, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I have a collaboration that should be out before the end of this year, which is very exciting, along with my first self-produced track in early 2018. After that I will be promoting my album, Chemistry, which follows on from the Experiments EP. I have gigs booked in Manchester and London in the coming months, so I’m looking forward to performing live as much as possible. I’m hoping music will take me all around the world and that I can share my stories with as many people as possible. I can’t think of anything better than a crowd of people singing my lyrics back to me!

Finally, what do you get up to outside of music, are there any particular hobbies that you enjoy?

I’ve always loved sport, so I try and keep active as much as possible. Mostly I play tennis and golf, which I know is a little unusual! I also love to read when I get time, as I find it helps me wind down!

Connect with Sally Caitlin via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Rosedale – Again

Thursday 14th September 2017

Track Listing:

1. What We Started
2. Snapped In Two
3. This Dissonance
4. Space Mountain
5. Do It All Again

Rosedale started out back in 2004, when Mike Liorti was determined to chase his dream of being in a band; so he convinced his friends to get instruments so they could play together.  The name of the band was born from Rosedale Avenue, the street the band would walk down to the music store to practice the songs they had written on equipment they couldn’t quite afford.  Over the years, Rosedale went through 7 line-up changes, with band members deciding to move on; but Mike Liorti has continued the project as a solo career.  Mike is quite simply a self-confessed workaholic, but an extremely admirable one who continues to chase his dream, because it’s something he still believes in so strongly.

As a band they released 2 EPs together, with Mike continuing to release Rosedale’s debut album in 2012 by himself.  He then set out on a huge tour, starting with the aspirational Vans Warped Tour, before carrying on playing many states across the US and Canada.  Music and travelling are what Mike enjoys most, with him providing the ultimate DIY message “Commit, sacrifice, create, and above all… sustain. You really can do anything if you truly love it and nobody can represent you better than yourself. That really speaks to me.”

So you might be wondering how one person can now do the work of a full pop-rock band.  Well, Mike explains in the promotional video below how he performs whilst playing guitar and keys at the same time, but projects a video of him recording himself playing all the other instruments.  If that wasn’t intricate enough, he also programmes all the lights to be in sync with the show.  If you’re already sold on seeing Rosedale live before I’ve even got in to the review, then check out the promo video below which also talks about Mike’s upcoming North American tour.  I do enjoy writing about artists from the other side of the pond, there really are some great finds out there, but it’s even harder when you can’t get to a show!

Having drive and ambition is a good start to a successful career, but how does the music compare?  Well,  listening to “Again” and being instantly reminded of the likes of New Found GloryJimmy Eat World, and Angels & Airwaves, this release already sits nicely within my collection.  There’s certainly a gap in the market for a new act to push through, especially since the likes of pop-rock veterans New Found Glory are heading out on their 20th anniversary tour, and also Yellowcard recently decided to call it a day.

“What We Started” is a passionate opening track and I can’t help thinking that it plays homage to the band, since Mike explained in the video that the title of the EP comes from needing to continue to do things in life to succeed, and repetition is key to sustain.  That’s exactly what Mike is doing here, carrying on with the vision he had all those years ago.  “Snapped In Two” has a vigorous opening and is a melodic track, which provides heavier hooks and relatable lyrics.  The production of the EP as a whole is great, but this tracks stands out even more; with an intro that pounces straight in with beating drums that continue throughout, and the progressiveness of the guitar leading us along.  “This Dissonance” is the closest you’ll get to a slowed down pop-punk ballad, and provides Mike the opportunity to showcase his vocal talents.  In fact, the start of this track reminds me of Owl City as it has a beautiful violin to start followed by a light touch of the guitar, reminiscent of the soft sounds heard in “Fireflies.”

Carrying on, I’m not entirely sure whether the next track “Space Mountain” has anything to do with the rollercoaster, but it has taken me a few listens to get my head around it.  It’s a whirlwind of a song and I found it hard to keep up with the complicated lyrics working alongside the hectic track.  However, finishing off the EP is the very enjoyable “Do It All Again” which is an acoustic track thats starts off and continues with just Mike and his ukulele.  A very pleasing way to finish off an EP which continues to showcase Rosedale and what one man and his vision can accomplish.

Connect with Rosedale via Website, Facebook and Twitter.