Tuesday, 26 July 2011

NEWS: Laura Marling - New Album, Song and Tour Dates

Hampshire Folk maiden Laura Marling is due to release her third studio album A Creature I Don't Know on 12th September 2011 (UK), followed by a Cathedral-venue UK tour in October.

The album's tracklisting has been posted on her website http://www.lauramarling.com/news/2011/07/22/new-album-artwork-and-tracklisting/and, noticeably, it does not include a studio version of 'Is A Hope' (which featured on the popular E4 series, Skins back in 2010) but will offer listeners a mastered version of another popular closet track, 'Rest In The Bed.'

New song, 'Sophia', was Zane Lowe's 'Hottest Record' on BBC Radio 1 last night.

It is an extremely exciting preview of Marling's new album and you can listen to the track below:

UK Autumn Tour Dates:

Fri 14th – Exeter, Exeter Cathedral
Sat 15th – Winchester, Winchester Cathedral
Mon 17th – Guildford, Guildford Cathedral
Tue 18th – Gloucester, Gloucester Cathedral
Fri 21st – York, York Minster
Sat 22nd – Sheffield, Sheffield Cathedral
Mon 24th – Manchester, Manchester Cathedral (standing venue)
Tue 25th – Bristol, Bristol Cathedral
Wed 26th – London, Westminster Central Hall (standing venue)
Fri 28th -  Liverpool, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
Sat 29th – Birmingham, Birmingham Cathedral

Tickets go on sale at 10am this Friday.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

REVIEW: Latitude Festival 2011

It was my first time at Latitude Festival this year and my expectations were high for the critically-acclaimed, 'mini Glasto', nestled deep in the heart of the Suffolk countryside at Henham Park. The festival boasted a very eclectic line-up - not only musically - but also within the literature, comedy, poetry, dance, theatre and other artistic strands which comprise the annual event. Music, however, is the focus here.

This year's line-up was all about the smaller, lesser-known bands. While the headline slots gloated with the return of 90's glam-rock inspired Suede, it was unlikely that Saturday's headliner, Paolo Nutini, was going to be the highlight of the festival for me personally, and unfortunately, The National, are more boring than they are talented. BUT, the smaller acts? Simply wonderful. Special mentions must go to the double-trouble of Indie boys, Dog Is Dead, and Math-rockers, Trophy Wife, in the Sunrise Arena with their uplifting, feel-good performances. The intimacy of the venue, shaded by tree canopies and encompassed by fellow festival-goers perched on white bark tree logs, was aesthetically and audiologically my favourite venue (also, incidentally, because I saw the best performances here). Braids too delivered a pitch-perfect, harmonious slice of delicious minimalist/shoe-gaze/pyschadelia in the cosy tent and joined Spanish Disco-Pop/Rock experimentalists Crystal Fighters among my favourite performances of the weekend. Foals gave very strong performance in the Word Arena on the Saturday night, but sadly, Bombay Bicycle Club and other acts such as  The Naked and Famous sounded too distorted and/or messy, which was a huge surprise after being overwhelmed by both acts at previous gigs.

What made the experience extra-special was the unbelievable intimacy and attention to detail that Festival Rebublic paid to the site: multi-coloured sheep, floating water stages, giant glow-in-the-dark flower decorations, contemporary art works hidden in the woods, punting on the river, light/water projections, painted trees, giant bookshelves, fairgrounds, outdoor beds, snugs and tree lanterns! Latitude has pretty much everything on its big brothers, Reading and Leeds, except for reeling in larger international bands.

Here are some awards to sum it all up:

Best Act:  Crystal Fighters (astounding enthusiasm and musical tightness).

Worst Act:  James Blake (as dull as dishwater).

Biggest Surprise:  Villagers (absolutely flawless live, even if the singer's clipped vocals grate).

Biggest Disappointment:  Deerhunter (I was really looking forward to seeing them live, but they gave a poor performance).

Favourite New Act:  Braids (admittedly discovered them a few months back, but now the love is gigantic).

...and a healthy 8/10 for overall festival experience.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

REVIEW: Chad Valley - 'Equatorial Ultravox' EP

Chad Valley – Equatorial Ultravox EP

Back in 2010, Chad Valley (aka: side-project of Hugo Manuel from Oxford-based, Jonquil) impressed many with the lush, tropical chill-wave sounds of his debut self-titled EP and added more to the pot of excitement surrounding local indie-pop 6-piece, Jonquil. The summery, Ibiza come-down feel of his debut has been extended to some degree in his new release, but Mr Manuel has also pushed the beach-worn boat out and experimented with plenty of new themes and sounds in his stunning new record.

We are firstly confronted with the chilling, fairground organ tune ‘Now That I’m Real’, which loops over effect-laden vocals before an acute keyboard melody turns the song into an instant-hit. The steel drums and female vocals nicely transpose us to the tropical recesses of Chad Valley’s first EP, but this is a maturer sound. It is true to say that it is more upfront pop song than the minimalist progression of ‘Up And Down’ (a song that I grew to love last year on his first EP) and some may dislike this more mainstream sound, but credit must be given to Manuel’s sharp deliverance of an immediately-catchy melody.

‘Acker Bilk’ and ‘Reach Lines’ are the breeziest songs on the record, with impossibly relaxed beats; the latter providing the sexiest bass-line and ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ you will hear all summer. Sometimes the vocal sound-effects on ‘Reach Lines’ are a little overdone, but this is presumably to maintain variety and to prevent Manuel’s vocals from fading too much into the background. ‘Acker Bilk’ promotes beautifully wholesome harmonies and Manuel’s falsetto notes soar above mountains like a Celtic warrior’s. This really is a stand-out track for him vocally. What sounds like a Hip-Hop sample kick-starts a firm tune accompanied with star-dusted synths, but like the previous track, ‘Fast Challenges’, it is not as intelligently layered as the other songs.

Manuel adequately bridges the gap between the conspicuous summer sounds of the first tracks, and the more reserved sounds of the later tracks, with ‘Shell Suite’. A charming, brittle guitar riff distinguishes this song from the rest and nestles its head between harmonious synths and warm piano notes. He also carefully constructs the cross-fades, vocal repetitions, crescendos and breakdowns to allow this song to burst open into the most solid and beautiful track on the record.

Hot tribal dance beats finally pulsate throughout the EP’s closer, ‘Shapeless’, to sandwich Chad Valley’s trademark tropical chill-wave over the top of the new sounds found in ‘Shell Suite’ and ‘Acker Bike’. Criminally, it is too short, but leaves the EP on a breathtaking high.


Published for the Oxford Music Blog on 9th July 2011*

*You can read the original here: http://www.oxfordmusicblog.co.uk/2011/07/chad-valley-equatorial-ultravox-review/

Saturday, 2 July 2011

FEATURE: Watch Warpaint's full set @ Glastonbury 2011

We all know that Coldplay and Beyonce completely dominated Glastonbury 2011 (and rightly so!) but here's a more little-known band with a lot of promise...