Ramblin Man Fair, Mote Park, Maidstone, July 2015; a new style of British festival

Panda review face picBy Alexia Axxe

July 25th 2015 could well turn out to be an important date – that of the first ever Ramblin Man Fair – and how fabulous it was to witness such an amazing turnout, despite competing with Steelhouse in Wales on the same weekend.

Promoted by Abbie Marshall and Gary Turner of Rock Collective, this festival was born out of the dying embers of High Voltage, a festival greatly missed.  So it was with excitement no, correction – hopping anticipation – that the artists were revealed with what Abbie describes in the collectors’ programme as “one hell of a line-up”.

The festival, positioned as somewhat of an ‘Ye Olde Rural Fayre’,  is distinguished by its combination of Classic Rock, Progressive Music, Country and Blues on three stages with a seriously grown up and balanced mix of acts.

Ramblin man fair

Fun at Ramblin Man Fair

The fair hurled itself into action with 80s Irish blues band No Hot Ashes.  Giving it all they had, the Celtic minstrels got the rapidly burgeoning crowd off to an excitable start.  No Hot Ashes are definitely worth seeing for they put on a tight and energising set.  They were followed in quick succession by Toseland, FM, Blue Oyster Cult and the mighty Saxon on the Classic Rock stage.  Saxon just never let up touring and Biff was on great form as he joked and caroused the screaming fans, powered in the engine room by Nigel Glockler, back pounding the skins following a brain aneurism as if he had never been away.

Turning to the Prog Stage a convenient couple of minutes away, fans of progressive music of various flavours were treated to  Messenger,  Anathema and  Camel who staged an ethereal, stunning comeback after Andy Latimer’s illness.   Stroud neo-progsters Pendragon were a welcome appearance following their tour last year to promote “Men Who Climb Mountains”.    Pendragon incidentally toured extensively with another great act headlining the Prog stage, Marillion.  Enchanting their ever loyal following, Nick Barrett and the boys delivered five cracking numbers from various albums over the years ending including “Faces of Light” and “Indigo”.

Good reports emerged from the Outlaw Country stage with Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings, Hayseed Dixie and the charismatic Bob Wayne stomping down a sheriff-shooting storm in their cowboy boots.

The penultimate act on the main stage was a heartfelt, eight-song immersive experience culminating in “Behind the Veil” from Dream Theatre.  The band has rapidly recovered from the blow of Mike Portnoy’s exit with replacement Mike Mangini on percussion and despite speculation across the internet on ‘who is best’, the band delivered a melodic and atmospheric prog-metal medley full of impact.

Day one ended in a Teutonic extravaganza; Rudi Schenker and Klaus Meine leading The Scorpions into band raging battle.  Not the slighted hint of their years acting up after two score and ten on the road, the hot Hanoverians lit up the County of Kent belting out 18 top rock hits like a group of teenage mates.  With 100 million records, three generations in their audience plus one of the most successful careers of any heavy metal band, this spectacle was surely a career milestone.  The Scorpions will be laid to rest next year. Devastating news from the ultimate heavy rock icons and we can only hope that, like Judas Priest’s terminal High Voltage appearance, there will be a revival.  This show bore no hint of a swansong as guitarists rampaged across the stage across each other.  If this wasn’t enough, mad and daring, fresh from a somewhat unfortunate stint in a Dubai jail, James Kottack, climbed up on top of his drums.   Not so outrageous for a 51 year old hell-raiser …. except for the small fact that the percussion was swinging high up suspended on a precarious platform from the roof of the stage.  This man showed no fear as he swivelled around on the kit waving his sticks, rousing the audience into a frenzy, following an exhausting-to-watch  drum solo.  It featured an amazing light show with scintillating colours and digital film backdrop; heavy metal just could not get any better … or badder.

Whilst The Scorpions were the apogee of Saturday, the following day brought another stonking line-up leaving too little time for those nice little necessities, the bar, posh burger stand or even the loo lest any act be missed.  Pretty much every artist was impressive in their own way which was just as well given that the weather was foul.

First off on the Prog stage was the beautiful and delightful Anna Phoebe with an elegant violin performance verging on classical with a strong prog twist.  Anna has played with Ian Anderson who was further up the bill the same day. Anderson, currently on a gruelling set of EU gig dates to promote “Homo Erraticus”,  fulfilled the desire for classic Jethro Tull yet surprisingly played nothing from his own well publicised new opus.

Other acts of note on the Prog stage were The Pineapple Thief (emotive psychedelic rock) Riverside (hailed as Poland’s answer to The Procupine Tree with a strong hint of Pink Floyd) and Alcest.

Alcest’s drummer, Winterhalter, and singer Niege represented the Francophone contingent with what can only be described as an entrancing other-worldly prog-soft metal aura with dreamscape tones. Equally other-worldly, Marillion, the last act of the day is of course, known for a cult-like fan base and amazing live shows.  This was exactly what we got, fantastic atmospheric sound, a brilliant light show as dusk descended and absolutely superb musicianship from this veteran quintet with 15m album sales behind it.

On the Classic Rock stage stunning performances came from Solstafir, (1st prize for top Doom-laden band) Blues Pills, The Quireboys (rowdy, wild and fun as ever), ex-hobo Seasick Steve (who was disarming in his interaction with the crowd) and another veteran, Gregg Allman.  It is Gregg Allman who provided the name and much of the inspiration for the fair with his song, ”Rambling Man”, so he was a  fitting finale to a stunning weekend.  Gregg played a long, strong set to a huge, raptured crowd.  For some reason the eponymous song did not feature, but the 17 songs included Allman Brothers numbers, a bit of Muddy Waters,  Gregg’s own band material and finished off with Elmore James’ “One Way Out”.

The third stage on Sunday dropped the cowboy theme and welcomed lovers of the blues.  The Blues Stage played host to the rapidly up-and-coming  Joanne Shaw Taylor, ex Mott The Hoople and Bad Company’s  Mick Ralphs  and was topped by virtuoso guitar player of Whitesnake fame, Bernie Marsden.

In conclusion, everything worked at Ramblin Man; importantly there was usually good sound on all stages – much better than at many festivals and it was needed to appreciate this combination of acts. The convenient location in Maidstone eliminated all the hell of trying to trudge through fields following long bus, train, taxi excursions which leave you shattered before you even get to the stage.

However there were some of the fundamental errors of all fairs. The organisers assumed all visitors are beer swilling teenagers.  First given that the audience was older and more discerning in its tastes, the range of food and especially drink on offer was appalling. No decent wine, no champagne for special events and not even a proper range of spirits.  Second, the overlap of acts between stages needed more thinking through.  Better staggering and consideration of types of bands on each stage would have made it easier to catch more of the music and more of one genre of music.  Finally the orientation of the viewing platforms and the stages could be improved for better visibility next year.

Ramblin Man has the essence of a medieval country fair – the sort Ian Anderson would take in his stride. It was totally laid back – with echoes of the olde worlde combined with a touch of Woodstock and cannabis-in-the-air hippy sensation.

Word is already out that the event covered its costs sufficiently and made a profit so there should be nothing to stop it from running next year.

Joseph Dean Osgood – London’s Rock N’ Roll Man on the Road to Revival

Panda review face picBy Alexia Axxe

When Joe introduced Ronnie Wood to his parents after supporting The Faces at Polo Rocks festival in 2011, he thought he’d arrived as a professional singer songwriter. And in a sense he had. His soft rocktail sound became in-flight entertainment across a whole fleet of BA planes. Yet four years on, universal recognition proves high hanging fruit. Until now.

For all you aspiring musicians out there, Joe’s story is a reminder never rest to on your laurels.  Plan your career forward well because it’s not enough being a great musician.  Joseph is talented, he has released two EPs and two videos in the last four years, the latter video produced by Jamie Cullum’s brother Ben.  There is an enduring clique following on London’s circuit as a solo artist and from previous band ‘The Trellicks’;  in essence, the JDO music making act never stops working, be it across the city in bars and pubs or at special events and private parties.

Joseph Dean Osgood

“Meeting and working with the Faces was a nice little milestone, but you don’t realise you have to put the same amount of work in again – to keep pushing forward for the next one.  I had the money to put out my first EP but then no resources to follow it up”.

Nevertheless, it seems the boy from Coulsden who began absorbing his parents’ music from an old box of 45s at eight (Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, Queen & Quo) once again on the up.   Now on a second incarnation fronting a new band, there’s a substratum of hard hitting material, a serious promoter and showcasing events imminent.    This is an unusual folk-rock fusion and addictive gravel-toned voice – Rod Stewart meets Quireboys’ Spike Gray.   The music is uplifting and enriching listening even when the lyrics are about the downs as well as the ups of what Joe calls this strange thing called life.

“This band is much edgier, tighter and harder than anything I’ve done yet holds on to my singer-songwriter roots.  We have been noticed in the right circles and have got a couple of showcasing events in the offing, so I’m really excited about where this will take us”.

Watch out for Joseph Dean Osgood on the 2016 music festival circuit and keep an eye out on Facebook for those impromptu sessions around London’s pubs – it’s a convivial night out.

Paradise Lost: The Plague Within review – more lead than a church roof

Panda review face picBy Alexia Axxe

Yorkshire’s doom metal quartet has returned to its original style with the heaviest album in 25 years.

 Thanks to its leaden and spirit-draining melancholy, The Plague Within is a satisfying earful for goth and doom metallers. Going beyond mere shouting and noise, Paradise Lost’s 14th album retains that familiar throbbing tempo, pulsing an unrelenting yet positive beat despite the melancholic undertone.

Paradise lost - the plague within album coverAll ten tracks are interwoven with strong melodic vocals and guitar riffs just rousing enough to stop you throwing yourself into a demon-infested abyss.  With lyrics such as “See the righteous fall as the rise of the damned, denied, See others crawl to the towers of rancid spite”, the morbid tone is magnified to true blackened metal might.

As the tour looms, guitarist Aaron Aedy claims this is their harshest work ever and it is indeed a head banger as the grim medieval cover forewarns. Imbibe – very loud, in pitch dark and alone.

A music magazine intern gives his verdict on work experience

Music Journalism course

David Weir

A few weeks into his LJC Music Journalism course, David Weir started a three month internship at Clash magazine. Here’s what he thought of the experience.

I found it incredibly beneficial and eye-opening just being exposed to that sort of working environment. I got to see from the inside what it took to successfully run a music magazine/site/business and with my own desk and independent tasks, I really felt part of the process.

I found the team really easy to get on with, everyone was obviously focused on the work at hand, but they were always helpful, understanding and discussing and playing brilliant new music throughout the day. Honestly, I’d heard the clichés about interns just doing tea and coffee runs, however I found everyone else was constantly offering! Also working with Matt Bennett (the Assistant Editor) was enjoyable – he gave me a lot of constructive feedback. We had a couple of good talks about my progress and plans and he’s a really chilled and understanding guy to work for. So a really friendly, fun and accommodating team.

Work wise, I was given some really interesting tasks and quite enjoyed even the simple, everyday jobs, like promo log admin, hounding people via email etc. I found that way I learnt a lot about the communicative side of the job, through my lengthy convo’s with festival organisers and freelance journalists.

Furthermore, I was given great opportunities to get my writing out there, like I said, within the first week I’d had a review published in the magazine and I’d transcribed interviews which eventually made it into issues. Since then I’ve written for the site (music news and band interviews), had another review in the magazine and as a result have built up a fairly diverse portfolio of work.

Matt has discussed keeping me on the records and possibly sending me to further festivals or offering more writing spots in the future. Currently I’m working on my creative portfolio and I’m just looking for further journalism opportunities, be it a internship or a job. I’m looking at moving somewhere new, so I’m seeing what is out there.

On my internship application I rather frankly admitted not having a big background of journalism/writing experience, but both the Introduction to Music Journalism course and the internship have given me that. The bedrock to actually build upon and work my way up and for that I’m very grateful.

Caustic Love (2014) album review

By Jessamyn Witthaus

Caustic Love is the third studio album from Nutini, landing just over five years since his last effort, Sunny Side Up. On first listening, it seems the Scottish acoustic crooner has undergone some kind of partial musical lobotomy. Suddenly, he has discovered samples, swagger and sassy trumpets. Gone are the Ska vibes present in his previous material, now blended into a more sophisticated soul sound. The opening track, Scream (Funk My Life Up), is a case in point, his signature vocals on form with just the right amount of grime and tongue-in-cheek humour.

Paolo_Nutini_Portrait_kl

Paolo Nutini

No longer is he spurned by Jenny, asking reproachfully “don’t treat me like a baby”, and he is sketching out for the listener his new stage in life in typical blunt fashion with his lyrics. In Numpty, an almost cabaret-esque piano melody threads its way through a conversational and confiding song about “building a house so we can fall at the first brick”. However, not all of the albums new ideas and new directions seem to hit the stylised, urbane highs of tracks such as Let Me Down Easy and One Day. Fashion leaves me utterly perplexed; the heavy-handed objectification present in the lyrics is at odds with an artist normally so good at blending honesty and humour.

On the surface, the album’s generally fuller, richer, more sweeping sound compared to his previous work gives the impression of a cohesive final product. However, I come away feeling equal parts elated by some tracks and left cold by others. Better Man is turned into a swelling heartfelt ballad, with a full choir no less, despite its rather pedestrian nature. Nutini may have now proved himself to be an adept musical chameleon, but after careful reflection, I find myself harking after the genuine stripped-back vulnerability present in his earlier work that seems to be lost in Caustic Love.

ALBUM REVIEW: Pillar Point ‘Pillar Point’ (this article first appeared on www.gigslutz.co.uk)

Rosie James picBy Rosie James

Anyone familiar with Scott Reitherman’s previous band, indie outfit Throw Me The Statue, will be aware of his knack for crafting songs that stick in the mind. While the Seattle-based, Bay Area native explores a new sonic terrain with the debut album from his new project, Pillar Point, his uncanny way with a pop tune remains intact.

Nothing says “Stop pigeonholing me as an indie fop, idiots!” like a good, hard synth stab, and the first few seconds of album opener “Diamond Mine” are some statement of intent. This derring-do is backed up by a choppily structured yet insistently engaging song that seems designed to let us know we are in for an interesting ride. “Eyeballs” follows, buoyant and driving, like a jet-ski ploughing the surface of the ocean; the track bursts with joyful abandon, while Reitherman’s vocals immediately call to mind the gentle yet insistent sincerity of Hot Chip. In fact, there are many moments where one could be mistaken for thinking they were listening to the aforementioned London act; they just keep popping into the picture, and they are not alone – “Cherry” comes over like a tag-team of Hot Chip and Neon Neon, but it is difficult to look down on it for that, partly because of those two acts’ own overt homage to their heroes, but mainly because it is such a downright enjoyable song, inventive in its own ways.

Pillar Point 1

Scott Reitherman

There is something about these songs that makes them grow more addictive with each listen – on first hearing, the crystal immediacy of the melodic hooks is offset by frequent curveballs in the song structures. Rather than being off-putting, by not quite making sense on first listen, it becomes imperative to give it another spin; and when everything does slot into place, it is worth it.

The loping pace of “Strangers In Paradise”, intermittently pitching down and dipping into a murky dubstep track, brings another twist; but in case anyone was beginning to get caught up in the UK electronic influences, the laid-back cruise of “Dreamin’” is West Coast to the most. On “Curious Of You”, an obviously intentional nod to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” emerges after a verse that recalls – to my mind, anyway – the melody from Neil Young’s “After The Goldrush”, before the whole lot is carried away on a deliciously spangly synth outro which appears to recreate for our times the opening of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. Again, it is hard to know if these are conscious references, but it it is a damn likeable song regardless. The new romanticism of “Echoes” follows alluringly, and ends suddenly, leaving the album hanging, in the best possible way.

This disco-flecked, hedonistic dance backdrop seems to embrace Reitherman’s lightness of vocal timbre as a perfectly symbiotic part of the musical landscape, within which he then explores darker, more personal themes. Following a slight decline in adulation over the course of his two Throw Me The Statue longplayers, it does seem that he has recaptured the ‘first album’ feel here; that playful, unfettered creativity which comes from casting off the shackles of success – or, at least, distancing oneself from them.

Straddling the worlds of indie/rock and dance is nothing new, but some people genre-hop naturally, as a matter of artistic development, reflecting the many musical strands in their DNA, whereas some tediously attempt to pilfer some credibility by adding a few samples and hi-hats to a chirpy indie pop number. Thankfully, the immersive sound coined here by Reitherman on this fun and multi-layered LP, drops him firmly in the first category.

- See more at: http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/album-review-pillar-point-pillar-point/#sthash.3gEK7ait.dpuf

Jake Bugg: ‘Shangri La’ album review

Rosie James picBy Rosie James

Even by modern standards, Jake Bugg has really rocketed to fame. From being a plucky ‘one to watch’ (albeit one signed to a major label), when his single “Lightning Bolt” coincided with the 2012 Olympics and soundtracked Usain Bolt’s every appearance on our screens, he is now a household name. His self-titled debut album, when he was just 18, introduced an authentic and refreshing new voice; a dry wit and broad Nottingham accent combining with an attention-grabbing, cut-glass vocal delivery and bona fide skills and intuition as a guitarist. He cited influences including Don McLean, Johnny Cash and Neil Young, and on the basis of the raw materials displayed in his confidently stripped back sound, he seemed the first young solo star in a while to hold any real hope of one day emulating their success and artistic status. There was a feeling that he hadn’t quite arrived fully formed, but that that was fine, good even: time and life experience would fill in the depth and nuance sometimes lacking in his lyrics.

Jake Bug

Jake Bugg – this boy could smoulder for England

And so, the emergence of his second album, ‘Shangri La’, just 13 months on from his debut, feels disconcertingly soon. Sure, he has come a long way, as evidenced by the fact the album is produced by Rick Rubin and named after the luminary’s Malibu studio. And if, during a year of relentless touring, festivals and publicity, Bugg has found the time to do all that aforementioned developing and maturing and acquiring of nuance, then fair play; but it seems unlikely.

‘There’s A Beast And We All Feed It’ opens the album, clocking in at under two minutes and kicking off proceedings in an energetic style that we’ll call ‘mockabilly’; it doesn’t sound like there is anything new happening here, but it is happening very fast, as if to compensate. ‘Slumville Sunrise’ motors along, the pleasingly thumping rhythm section alongside Bugg’s wry commentary calling to mind the Arctic Monkeys, and with a soaring, unshakable chorus it is certainly a standout – still enjoyable despite having been hammered on the radio as the current single. However, ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, which was the lead single back in September, takes that lovely catchiness and uses it for ill. The chorus embeds itself into the cranium, but it makes a very unwelcome guest thanks to an infuriatingly unoriginal lyrical concept hanging on a hash of well worn clichés, sadly doing a disservice to the more appealing and inventive lines that are there in the verses if you can bear to listen out for them. Gripes aside though, Bugg rattles through the first three songs at such a frenetic pace that it is a pretty fun ride.

‘Me And You’ brings the first hint of a softer side, with a shuffling, folksy lilt, and it is a perfectly lovely ditty; the mid-tempo indie of ‘Messed Up Kids’ returns to Bugg’s trademark theme of gritty hometown observations, strengthening suspicions that maybe he has been too rushed to reflect and put pen to paper about his new experiences, or that perhaps this album is constructed of old songs he had left in the bank from his last one, duly beefed up and Rick Rubin-ised for public consumption. ‘A Song About Love’ is pleasant of melody and certainly a showcase for Bugg’s voice, but slightly self-conscious; the loose and bluesy ‘All Your Reasons’ starts promisingly but morphs into some sort of homage to every middle-of-the-road Britpop album track from the ’90s, eventually drowning in extended guitar breaks that never quite build up the head of steam they need to justify themselves. Perhaps the girl who wrote a feature on Vice recently about living as if it was 1996 for a week, as though nobody had ever managed to do it, let alone a mere 17 years ago, would find this sound fresh and relevant. But if Bugg’s sights are set on the credibility and longevity of his heroes then he’s strayed off course. ‘Kingpin’, an exercise in rock ‘n’ roll-by-numbers, feels so lame and derivative, and frankly beneath his talents, as to be wholly inexplicable. Which brings to mind the main frustration with this record: it is clearly well made and features some high grade musicians, but it sounds as if very few of the actual songs here really needed an audience, and rather that the label needed an album.

‘Kitchen Table’ comes to the rescue with fresh new array of delicate guitar and keyboard sounds, Bugg’s simple vocal style placing the song centre stage where it shines. ‘Pine trees’ finds him with just his guitar for company; a welcome development in theory, but some of the hoped-for raw charm is lost in a smooth and schmaltzy melody (the opening line of which is unfortunately reminiscent of Oleta Adams’, ahem, classic “Get Here (If You Can)”).

‘Simple Pleasures’ dives back into Britpop territory, which threatens to pay off this time as it grows into a pulsating, chugging beast of a tune; however, it is tethered by a slightly wimpy predictability, a feeling that it’s just obvious how it is going to end. Thankfully, the same cannot be said of the album as a whole, as the closing track, ‘Storm Passes Away’, finally shows Bugg’s true charms, a bluegrass-tinged country folk number in which his playful vocal turn sounds free and unforced, and as such is a breath of fresh air.

Here is the Jake Bugg that we were promised, and it is a relief, because for much of ‘Shangri La’ Bugg’s appeal, his natural talent and charisma, is hidden in plain sight; distinctive vocals and impressive guitar work sit high up in the mix, but somehow failing to cut through and expose the essence of the artist.

Score out of 5 – 2.5

This piece was first published on Gigslutz: http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/jake-bugg-shangri-la-album-review/

Skrillex LIVE @ 02 Building 6, London 22.11.2013

Silvia RucchinBy Silvia Rucchin

It’s not my intention to celebrate the importance of drugs during a nine hour long rave marathon, however a Skrillex show requires a lot of energy, stamina and resistance. Because the man himself is a non stopping machine that keeps going and going ’till the dance floor gives up. Which obviously doesn’t happen on this kind of event. In a music world where rock stars are considered Gods, Skrillex is possibly the only non- guitar musician to get close to the same level of idolatry.

Why? Because Skrillex is definitely one of the most interesting musical creatures of the past five years whose impact has been quite extraordinary. Equally slated and revered for making dubstep mainstream, Skrillex’s music is not easy to fit into the electronic scene. It’s not your average super star DJ like David Guetta or Tiesto whose music and personal appearance are so polished and plastic; Skrillex is a 25-year-old genius who started his career as a lead singer in a hardcore band only to become a few years later the most talked about electronic DJ  to win 6 Grammy Awards thanks to his incredible mix of dubstep with pretty much any other genre of music, reggae and hip pop included. Typically, you either love him or hate him. Dubstep puritans consider him too radio friendly, on the other side people who wouldn’t normally be into electronic find his style quite accessible and cool.

Tonight the crowd gathered at the Building 6  in the North Greenwich peninsula is so prepared for this event. Energy, sweat, drugs, adrenaline, passion.. everything gets mixed in two hours DJ set. Yes, no matter how good all the supporting acts are, every single person in this massive warehouse is waiting for the Friday Night Messiah who gets the party started at 1 am. By the time he arrives on stage, everyone is already pretty fucked up on acid, dancing and singing hysterically to every single tune. His original reinterpretation of dubstep/rave transports you into another dimension, there’s no filler, it’s all incendiary stuff like the super hit Bangarang can prove. Ferocious, immediate, urgent, Skrillex wastes no time in showing what he’s capable of.

However, as schizophrenic and eclectic his production can be like on First Of the Year (Equinox), Skrillex delivers his best on the second part of the show when he simply remixes other artists’ tunes such as Beastie Boys, Dizzee Rascal, Missy Elliot, Nero transforming their party anthems into something more aggressive and twice epic. Even standard pop song ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ by Niki & The Dove assumes an otherworldly meaning as the closing track of the show. Skrillex is pure magic, his command of the crowd is pretty impressive and his talent is immense. True, he might be an over achieving DJ catapulted into fame by the Internet buzz and all the social media, but ultimately his style is too unique and distinctive to get ignored. In fact, you can recognize one of his tunes straight away even if you listen to it for the first time on the radio.

What an epic, naughty, sexy and slightly dangerous Friday Night. Truly remarkable, it makes you wonder whether it actually happened or it was just a hazy tripping experience.

Video Killed The Radio Star! New Music Videos Round Up

Rachel AkiboyeBy Rachel Akiboye

Step into Catfish and the Bottleman’s Monochrome, Rock ‘n’ Roll Madness with their new video for ‘Pacifier’.

I usually have no time for montage music videos. If I’m a fan of your work, chances are I’ve been to your gigs and I’ve got a firm idea of what you’re about. If I’m not a fan and you’re a band that’s formed within the last five years, then I certainly don’t want to sit through 3 minutes of you rehearsing, hanging out and just generally playing up to the camera showing us how cool and funny you all are. Having said this, I found something quite admirable about Catfish and the Bottleman’s new video for ‘Pacifier’. The follow up to their charming animated video for ‘Rango’ which tells the amusing story of Rango the Sperm’s determined fight to race to the egg, their new video gives you an three minute twenty-two second ‘behind the scenes’ look at the band in action.

Shot entirely in black and white, we see them en-route to their performance at Leeds Festival, rehearsing, taking part in photo shoots and participating in the usual tour tomfoolery. Cut to a few scenes of crowds rocking out and you’re left with an uplifting visual accompaniment to a track that contains a pretty sad subject matter (the song is about a friend of the vocalist Van McCann who lost her mother when she was young).

Having signed to Communion Records, Catfish have gained support from The Guardian, XFM and Radio 1 and are tipped for big things in 2014.

The band are set to support The Family Rain at London’s Heaven on November 25 and judging by their energetic performances shown in this video, fans are certainly in for a treat.

‘Pacifier’ is set to drop December 9th on Communion Records.

Born Ruffians – ‘Permanent Hesitation’

Born Ruffians never fail to come up to something visually interesting when it comes to their music videos. Whether it be their oscilloscope offering for ‘What To Say’ (my personal favourite) or their headache inducing blur fest that accompanied ‘Needle’, I always find myself excitedly anticipating what they will come up with next.  Luckily they didn’t disappoint with their new video for ‘Permanent Hesitation’, which sees front man Luke Lalonde transformed into a mosaic distortion as he cavorts across the screen singing. Directed by Ron Eyal and Eleanor Burke, the multi-panelled effects were achieved using an 8-camera rig, which Burke and Eyal created with the help of cinematographer D.P. Eric Lin.

Even though it does make you feel like you’ve got lost in the mirror funhouse at the circus, the video is fun to watch, if not only to wonder how they did it.

It is however, uncannily similar to Metric’s latest video for ‘Synthetica’. Regardless of who had the idea first, ‘Permanent Hesitation’ makes for interesting viewing – just be careful of the motion sickness.

Aurganic – The Lost And The Found

Ask 10 people to close their eyes and listen to Aurganic’s latest single ‘The Lost and The Found’ then ask them to explain the type of imagery it evokes.

I would almost guarantee that at least 7 of them would describe a sunny day, perhaps an extended view of an ocean and maybe even a hammock swinging in the wind.

Well the Toronto based alt-electronica act provides exactly that (minus the swinging hammock) for their latest video.

After collaborating with Burning Bear Films, Aurganic bring in cinematographer Matvey Stavitsky for directorial duties where he sets the scene with a beautiful view of two yachts in the sea.

Add a few abstract shots of an electric organ while vocalist Scott Carruthers plays along and you’ve got the first 60 seconds of a pretty pleasant video. That is of course before you realise that you are actually over half way through, and the beautiful paradise soon becomes a beautiful prison. Carruthers’ constant sultry looks to the camera are almost too much to tolerate and when it finally came to a close I was just genuinely happy to see an end to his open aired crooning.

With the gorgeous location and ambient sound I really wanted this to develop into something more exciting than a man retreating to his house for even more drawn out, deadpan looks to the camera while his lady friend prepares to leave him. Unfortunately I was too bored by this to be sympathetic to his relationship woes and if I was placed in that beautiful setting, the last track I’d want to hear is ‘The Lost and The Found’.

Woodkid With The BBC Orchestra LIVE @ O2 Academy, Brixton 13.11.13

Marcella Sartore picBy Marcella Sartore

Electro-dance combined with Majestic orchestral melodies cannot be but the fruit of a brilliant mind such as Woodkid.

French- born singer song-writer, he became famous in the past few years for having worked as a video director for pop stars like Katy Perry (‘Teenage Dream’), Lana Del Rey (‘Born To Die’ and ‘Blue Jeans’) and Taylor Swift (‘Back To December’). His first work as a musician, the dramatic pop song titled ‘Iron’ (2011) has been sampled by Kendrick Lamar and has featured in the soundtrack of the videogame ‘Assassin’s Creed’. In March 2013 Woodkid released his first album, ‘The Golden Age’. Accompanied by a book he has written with the help of his cousin Katarzyna Jerzak, a published writer and professor at Princeton University, ‘The Golden Age’ is a sort of concept album about a kid who leaves home and becomes an adult. It’s symbolized by a pair of keys which Woodkid shows fiercely as a tattoo on his arms.

After performing last May at the Roundhouse, Woodkid came back to London yesterday for a show at the Brixton Academy with the BBC Orchestra.

A drum roll. Blue and white lights are switched on and start a psychedelic dance. The black curtains open and undisclose a group of strings and winds from the BBC Orchestra. Woodkid appears on the stage in his black and blue sweater and, after bowing to the musicians playing behind him as to thank them, he starts singing ‘The Golden Age’, from the eponymous album. Looking visibly happy as he himself is enjoying his own music, he actively interacts with his public, guiding the fans’ voices with his hands like a music director. Jumping on the amps to say hi to the presents and allow them to take the ritual pictures, he then introduces the place where he actually lives, ‘Brooklyn’.

Cinematic images on the big screen at his shoulders and white lights moving hands in hands with music, definitely manage to warm up the audience who starts jumping and singing along with Woodkid during such pearls as ‘Run Boy Run’ and ‘Stabat Mater’. Passionate violins, pompous trumpets, tribal percussions and  a melancholy piano give birth to a surreal atmosphere where the mind loses itself and just follows God Woodkid without thinking anymore. It’s an initiation that reaches its peak with ‘Iron’ at the end of which a chorus raises up from the stalls making Woodkid embarrassed, yet moved by so much affect. Thus, he decides the time has come to give the fans a little present. Better, two. A couple of songs he’s just written during this tour that will most probably feature in his next album. ‘Go’ is a kind of melancholy journey through the mind, while the other one (whose title he does not reveal) is an uninhibited dance almost without lyrics.

It’s about 10.30 pm and the concert comes to an end. The public is upset as it keeps the secret wish to prolong forever the magic and the dramatic tension of Woodkid’s music. Nonetheless, a standing ovation starts inside the O2 Brixton, while the artist, a dazzling smile on his face, introduces his musicians and thanks his manager who always supports him although “he doesn’t know what I’m doing either”.

The theatre yellow lights are switched on once again. Fans are heading to the doors with a dream in their eyes, adrenaline in vein, music in their souls and the feeling that a teaspoon of heroism can be found in everyone’s life. Like in a movie or in a videogame. Like in Woodkid’s music.