This time last year I decided to move from Cornwall to Bristol. A bright move full of new prospects and opportunities, I thought. Well, one year on and who would have thought that I would be in my office (bedroom), reminiscing about how I spent the best part of 2012 living in Bristol, in poverty, with three other idiots… at least the music’s been good. So good in fact, that it’s been hard to keep track of all the new(ish) Cornish bands doin’ good over the last 12 months.
Last week I went back to Falmouth University having been invited there by the head of the BA(Hons) Popular Music course and former manager of The Specials and The Damned, the legendary, Rick Rogers.
If we put poor public transport and Pasty Tax aside, things in Cornwall aint that bad. It feels like the county has gone through a mini music revolution over the last couple of years. I saw so many exciting bands in Falmouth (some below) and they just keep getting better. Apart from the bands themselves going out and owning it. Credit has to go to Rick for injecting a syringe of diverse guitar music straight into the eyeball of Falmouth town. Credit is also due to the well respected promoter and all round nice guy, Frank Pellow from Duelling Kazoos for promoting so many new acts in the SouthWest and providing them with a very supportive platform to get themselves going. Be sure to see one of these bands soon. They’re all very brilliant.
The Black Tambourines
The Red Cords
Lo fi and sounding effortless, Bristol-based Oliver Wilde’s music is a throwback to some of the great ’90s indie bands. A contemporary nod of appreciation to bands like The Beta Band, Beck and Sparklehorse. The latter, a band who Wilde considers ‘God’ as far as his musical inspirations and influences go.
That ‘bedroom studio’ sound being very sought after nowadays, even for those recording in plush studios, the want to create that classic, dated sound is more popular than ever. Lo fi is the new Hi fi. Like 20 degrees centigrade being the new 30 degrees centigrade for this time of year (couldn’t find the little degrees centigrade symbol).
Wilde’s sound is essentially high quality Lo fi. Its fizzy, tinselly sound gives his music an almost weightless quality about it whilst the incorporation of electronic sounds place it very nicely in a more contemporary setting. Hazy and dream like and very nappable. I even had a nap to this - and I never nap.
‘Amazeballs’ - Bud4Biking
If it’s good enough for Bud4Biking then it’s probably good enough for you. Cornish rap SENSATION Hedluv + Passman aren’t too happy about being billed as a comedy act for their series of gigs at the Gilded Ballon during this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival - the venue have even expressed their concerns that their poster (above) may suffer alongside the 111 professionally designed posters - I doubt it.
‘The most metatextual artifact to come out of Redruth’ - The Times
‘Absolutely loving it’ - Radio 1
The authenticity of such quotes
cannot be confirmed can now be confirmed as 100% genuine… Amazeballs.
Over the past few months, Rise Records - Bristol’s biggest Independent record store - has had the likes of The Duke Spirit, Gravenhurst and Andrew Bird grace it’s non-existent stage upstairs on the shop floor. Now, after four years, it’s time for Sharon Van Etten’s return to Bristol. I walk in unprofessionally (yet very fashionably) late, mid-music and at the back of the crowd. After finishing her first song Van Etten introduces herself to the audience. She’s ever so casual and as cool as an English summer, talking to the engaged lot in a very friendly, endearing and comical way.
A few subtle jokes and remarks later, Sharon asks the audience “can you even hear me out there? …or am I just not being funny?” It is these kind of humorous interjections that provide a genuinely lovely contrast between angst and happiness. Van Etten’s well known for this kind of behaviour and she’s mentioned in the past that if she tells a few jokes and adds a bit of humour in between her songs then it helps to reassure the audience that she’s not going to slit her wrists backstage.
Her track All I Can off her most recent album Tramp (2012) brings a hush across the shop floor. Cutting a small, lonesome figure on-stage, she plays her acoustic guitar full of confidence and with a voice to match.
It’s no secret that Van Etten’s been through a tough time growing up, which, for lovers of her music, is fantastic! It’s these moments of heartbreak, love-loss, despair and darker times that have provided the material for the Brooklyn based songstress to write such emotionally fuelled songs. Turning heartbreaking moments of her past into the most heartbreaking/heart-warming of songs in the present.
It’s a short 20-30 minute intimate and relaxed set and towards the end of it, I find myself in the Interior Design and Erotic Novels section of Rise. I have the best view in the shop (of Sharon, not the books) as she finishes with a beautiful song entitled Leonard. This daytime gig is a taster gig, if you like, a sample of what’s to come as she prepares for her gig at the Thekla - her first ever gig on a boat!
I met Sharon afterwards and we spoke more about comedy than music. Sharon mentioned that if she didn’t take the music route then she would like to give the comedy a go, for a laugh. I wanted to leave her with a joke, ideally one about a boat that she could tell at her evening gig at the Thekla. My mind went blank and I didn’t get to tell her any of my boat related jokes which did, in fact, give me that sinking feeling inside…
A trio from Camberwell, London. I don’t know much about the band and haven’t seen them live but after coming across their videos online and hearing their Gotye-esque ‘Our English World’, with its subtle but clear jazz, afro-beat and pop influences, it’s been on repeat with no objections from my housemates since. Live @ Ritzy Cinema, Brixton. 18th July.
VIDEO: You Steer Your Ship
VIDEO: You Dared Me
Newcastle based singer songwriter Richard Dawson seems to have mastered the knack of writing beautifully crafted, heartwarming folk songs. A real storyteller in songwriting form. Honest, modest and a pleasure to talk to. His album ‘The Magic Bridge’ was released with Pink Triangle (2011).
BIMM graduates. GOOD live.
Try typing ‘alt j’ on a mac and this is what you’ll see: ∆
Try listening to ‘Tessellate’ from Alt J’s debut album, ‘An Awesome Wave’, and you’ll hear the band singing about triangles being their favorite shapes. Contrary to popular belief, triangles aren’t their favorite shapes at all. In fact, the keys player is actually indifferent to the three sided shapes. Or at least that’s what he told me after their gig at The Cooler in Bristol.
Alt J have just signed to an indie label from London (my novice interviewing skills becoming apparent as I forgot to press the record button on my mobile half way through the interview, therefore forgetting the name of the label.) You can listen to it here:
Debut single from Cornish Rock ‘n’ Roll band The Dancing Dead. Sensing big influences from The Subways and Queens of the Stone Age here. It’s loud, gritty and in yer face!
A couple of tracks from Bristol based Producer Chew Magna. Louis Thomson is his name and making big hip-hop beats is his thing. Above: A pop tinged, squeaky clean remix of Shut Her Down by Anneka. Below: A sublimely chilled, downtempo track featuring a sample from the 70’s classic film, Eraserhead. Check him out here: Chew Magna