Monday, 25 June 2012

Friday, 22 June 2012

Single Review: Too Young - Tom Williams & The Boat

Rating: 8/10

Too Young, taken from Tom Williams & The Boat's new album, Teenage Blood, has recently been added to the A-list of BBC 6Music's playlist, and it's no surprise why. The layers of jangly guitar riffs, violins and tinkling piano create a blissfully upbeat tune; a perfect start-of-summer track. The music video, with its 1200 frames hand-drawn by Mr Williams himself, from the offset shows the intricate detail with which Too Young has been lovingly created, and the simplicity of the drawings ensure nothing detracts from the subtlety of Williams' voice. 

Teenage Blood is out now.
Visit for more details.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Applecart Festival - Victoria Park

Francois Marry
       For the very British nature of the weekend, with dear Queen Betty celebrating 60 years on the throne, it was only apt that the most British of weathers accompanied the festivities. And so with an anorak and some wellies I ventured into the great unknown of East London, for a day filled with jovial jubilations to lift my spirits out of the depressing existence of looming exams.

       The dulcet tones of French band, Fran├žois & The Atlas Mountains brought a splattering of Mediterranean sunshine to the otherwise rain-soaked morning, and the almost hypnotic feel of Les Plus Beaux reminded me of fellow French act, M83, with its gentle melodies and whispered vocals. The set was brief, with hardly a spoken word directed at the growing crowd apart from the occasional 'merci', but lead singer, Fran├žois Marry, kept the audience enraptured with his mesmerising swaying around the stage, and a little grin escaping from his rather solemn face every once in a while.

       Taking to the stage next was Gaz Coombes (lead-singer of Supergrass). After the band split up in 2010 after 17 years together, Coombes has returned with his debut solo album,
Here Come The Bombs. 'With a song entitled Whore, Coombes' new tracks seem to encompass a melancholic psychedelia, far from the easy-breezy Britpop of Supergrass' Alright  and Sun Hits The Sky.

Lianne La Havas
      Lianne La Havas, by contrast, brightened up the main stage tent with her soulful voice and radiant smile. Opening with No Room For Doubt, La Havas' vocals rang out into the tent with a crystal clarity, delivering each line with certainty and precision. Despite the sombre tone of the song, her bubbly personality was soon clear to the audience - getting out her iPhone to take a picture of the crowd only increased the warmth felt towards her. Gone, a song which she relates is written about her ex-boyfriend, almost has a jazz-lounge feel to it, and showcased the extraordinary power of her voice, when the music swelled in the chorus. The upbeat Is Your Love Big Enough? brought the set to a rousing finish, and despite the crowd shying away when La Havas invited them to join in with the chorus, the number of photographers in the press pit was a testament to the success she has already found, and an inkling that there's a lot more to come from the gorgeous London lass.

        It  was not surprising on the Jubilee weekend that Billy Bragg had a lot to say about the monarchy and the state of the country in the present moment. Where others, he states, feel proud to be British when they see the Queen, he feels patriotic when watching the Leveson Enquiry on the television - a theme firmly embedded in Never Buy The Sun. A rendition of Bob Marley's One Love reflected the political activism with new lyrics about dropping the debt in Africa, and complete with actions for the audience, proceeded to be a huge success amongst the crowd. Despite Bragg declaring to the audience that 'music doesn't have the power to change the world', his lyrics certainly evoked much thought amongst the audience members, and I was left with the sense that perhaps Bragg's songs have a larger impact on people than he thinks.

Billy Bragg

       With both tents running around forty minutes behind schedule, there was a lot of hanging around before Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny took to the stage over in the other tent -  though it was definitely worth the wait. Houghton, with her slightly uncouth but good-humoured nature, delighted the audience with her Geordie charm, and in the spirit of the festivities related her search for loo roll because she 'needed a poo'. When Houghton sang, however, her voice took on an older, more sophisticated tone. The summery vibe of Atlas warded off thoughts of the impending gloom of the pouring rain outside, and filled the tent with glittering sunshine for a brief moment, whilst Dodecahedron showed a softer and more vulnerable side.

        Stornoway's set opened with new song, Farewell, Appalachia!, a haunting but magical number with lead singer, Brian Briggs' voice intertwining with the soaring violin to create a beautiful but spine-chilling effect, whilst the thundering cymbals conjured up images of the dramatic landscape of the Appalachian Mountains. The audience were also introduced to other songs which didn't feature on debut album, Beachcomber's Windowsill. Having already heard The Bigger Picture at previous gigs, and not immediately falling in love with it, I was pleasantly surprised with the new arrangement, which now involves input from the whole band for a much fuller sound, which certainly made for a bigger impact than the last few times I've heard it.

       All the elements of the perfect Stornoway set were present. Crowd favourites, Watching Birds and Zorbing were played with the charm and exuberance that make Stornoway so loved by many, and in usual Storno-fashion, Briggs delighted the audience with his many anecdotes - relating both the plight of hundreds of sheep falling off a lorry on an Australian motorway; and the day it rained sardines in Ipswich, making the rain lashing down outside seem quite tame in comparison.

Charlie Fink
         After a rather interesting hour spent watching Adam Ant,  the long wait for Noah and the Whale to appear was finally over. Walking on stage to a jazzed up version of the theme music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the wannabee astronauts opened with Life Is Life - with its rousing chorus and close harmonies, it was an instant hit with the crowd. The gospel-like Old Joy contrasted beautifully with the more upbeat tempos of Waiting For My Chance To Come and Give It All Back, and as Charlie Fink (lead-singer) noted, the pitter-patter of raindrops sounding on the roof of the tent provided the perfect backdrop to the song.
        With a good mix of songs from all three of their albums, their headline set proved to be a huge success amongst everyone in the audience. Finishing with L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N, the masses spilled out from Victoria Park onto the streets of East London in high spirits, with hardly a thought for the royal flotilla only a short distance away, which had been preoccupying the minds of most of the country.

For more photos from the day, visit the NotAnotherRainySunday facebook page 
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