Live Review – Slow Club – 28th February 2015 – Queen’s Social Club, Sheffield

The last time I saw Sheffield’s finest band live was when they played Sheffield Leadmill as part of the Tramlines Festival. It’s safe to say that that night’s performance was overshadowed by technical gremlins so I was more than a little excited to see them again at Sheffield’s Queen’s Social Club.

Slow Club really are Sheffield’s finest band, writing some amazing pop songs with intelligent and poetic lyrics, backed by great tunes and delivered by Charles Watson and Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s incredible vocals and harmonies. They also have a great personality and wit.

Tonight, they finished off their UK tour – in support of their current album ‘Complete Surrender’ – in Sheffield with a stunning performance at the Queen’s Social Club, Think Phoenix Nights and you can imagine the venue. The band even decorated their keyboard with shimmering tinsel trim just so that it could fit in with the lush / garish (you choose) stage backdrop.

The room was stuffed to the gills with an expectant Sheffield audience – the venue had sold out some time ago – and the mix of people a sign of Slow Club’s appeal. They’re a hard band to pigeon hole so best to file under #justgreatmusic.

Support for Slow Club were provided by London threesome Happyness – currently getting some attention from the likes of NME – and whilst they looked like three scruffy teens practicing in their bedroom, their musicianship and catchy songs did impress and most of the audience stayed for their whole set. Their sound was a mixture of Pavement, Sparklehorse, Broken Social Scene and the Eels and if you didn’t know they were from South London you’d think they were from the American Lo-Fi indie scene.

Happyness - Queen's Social Club - Sheffield - 28th Feb 2015

Slow Club’s set covered the majority of ‘Complete Surrender’ along with some numbers from their previous two outings – ‘Paradise’ and ‘Yeah So’. It says a lot about Slow Club that you could put together a great album from the tunes they chose not to play tonight. This reviewer was hoping to hear ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful, Unless It’s Beautiful’ but with so many good songs to choose from you can’t expect to hear them all.

When the band took to the stage, Rebecca was talking to the crowd whilst adjusting her gear and realising that she wasn’t giving eye contact apologised and said: “Sorry, that’s like looking at my phone when kissing you”. Both Charles and Rebecca are incredibly charming and funny and love the interplay with the audience.

‘Tears of Joy’, ‘Never Look Back’ and ‘Complete Surrender’ got the place jumping before all eyes were on Rebecca, alone on the stage with her pearl white guitar singing the quite stunning ‘Not Mine to Love’, a painful song about longing, lust and love for someone you can never be with. Rebecca’s vocals are simply amazing and if this wasn’t a lass from Sheffield in an indie band, but a diva on a major record label, she’d be being lauded as this generation’s vocal talent.

It was then Charles’ turn for a solo stint on stage, singing the plaintive and beautiful ‘Paraguay and Panama’, with the falsetto chorus tugging at everyone’s heart strings. Then Charles hopped onto the keyboard and was joined by Rebecca for ‘Number One’ all lovely harmonies and soft piano.

Slow Club - Queen's Social Club - Sheffield - 28th Feb 2015

We continued to be treated to brilliant song after brilliant song with not a duff tune in sight. ‘Beginners’ and ‘The Queen’s Nose’ was followed by ‘Our Most Brilliant Friends’, a real crowd favourite with most of the audience singing every word. ‘Everything is New’ and ‘Wander Wandering’ slowed things down a little before the storming finale of ‘Suffering Me, Suffering You’ which was unexpectedly halted as a member of the audience fainted, more than likely due to the heat of the venue. Once we knew the audience member was OK (if a little embarrassed) Rebecca quipped: “It feels like we’re One Direction with the audience fainting – I’m Niall” before Charles retorted “And I’m the others”. This got a big laugh from the audience who urged the band to take it from the top. So they kicked off on their second rendition of ‘Suffering Me, Suffering You’ joking that this was their last song of the evening but would be coming back for an encore of course!

Slow Club - Queen's Social Club - Sheffield - 28th Feb 2015

In fact, they came back for two encores, the first including “a slowie and a fastie if that’s alright?” said Rebecca. Who would disagree? They went off and came back on for their second encore which was a really delightful encore with Rebecca, Charles and their drummer and bassist all on acoustic guitar standing on the speakers at the front of the stage to do a stripped down version of ‘The Pieces’ to end the night.

Slow Club - Queen's Social Club - Sheffield - 28th Feb 2015

Everyone in the audience would have gladly had an Encore 3 I have no doubt such was the standard of Slow Club’s performance tonight.

Great songs, great vocals, great performance from Sheffield’s greatest living band.

Track List

  1. Tears of Joy
  2. Never Look Back
  3. Complete Surrender
  4. Not Mine To Love
  5. Paraguay And Panama
  6. Number One
  7. Beginners
  8. The Queen’s Nose
  9. Our Most Brilliant Friends
  10. Everything is New
  11. Wanderer Wandering
  12. Suffering You, Suffering Me
  13. (Encore 1) Dependable People and Things That Im sure Of
  14. (Encore 1) Two Cousins
  15. (Encore 2) The Pieces

New Music – Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space

The new one from Public Service Broadcasting is out today (23rd February 2015). It’s called ‘The Race For Space’ and, in usual PSB style, merges archive sounds with band created ones to forge new and interesting sonic stories. I did a full review for it over at Backseat Mafia and you can see that review here:

http://www.backseatmafia.com/2015/02/12/review-public-service-broadcasting-race-space/

You can see the album preview video and the fabulous video featuring the breakdancing astronauts from the Gagarin video over on YouTube.

The album comes with two covers to choose from – a USA cover and a USSR cover – all very cold war and comes highly recommended by My Train Tracks.

Album cover - Public Service Broadcasting - The Race for Space

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Public Service Broadcasting are live throughout April and May and you should catch them if you can.

https://twitter.com/PSB_HQ

http://publicservicebroadcasting.net

New Music – CHAMPS – VAMALA

Isle of Wight brothers CHAMPS release their follow up to last year’s ‘Down Like Gold’ today (23rd February 2015). It’s called VAMALA and it is pretty great.

I did a full review of VAMALA over at Backseat Mafia and you can see my review here:

http://www.backseatmafia.com/2015/02/21/album-review-champs-vamala/

If you like your music melancholy with beautiful harmonies and stories of love, loss and leaving then VAMALA will hit the spot for you. If you were a fan of their debut then you will adore VAMALA which really pushes their sound forward.

Every song on VAMALA is of the highest quality and I have had the album on repeat since I got my review copy.

You can get your copy online here (or at any good record store obviously!):

CHAMPS - VAMALA

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.champschampschamps.com/

https://twitter.com/CHAMPSOFFICIAL

https://www.facebook.com/champschampschamps

One To Watch – Conor Dardis – “He sings about railway stations, butcher shops and cups of tea”.

Conor Dardis looking out of the window.
Conor Dardis

“Immigrant Suburban Folk” is how Preston native and Dublin ex-pat Conor Dardis describes his music.

His songs are set in the working-class suburban Dublin of his formative years. This is not the Dublin of Guinness Brewery tours, shopping trips down Grafton Street or stag dos in Temple Bar. This is the Dublin of the outer estates, specifically Clondalkin, the Dublin suburb where Conor hails from and where the Dublin seen through the eyes of tourists is a million miles away from the daily realities of Clondalkin’s residents.

Conor’s songs depict everyday local characters as they negotiate life’s various pressures and challenges.

His bio says that he does not mind comparisons with Billy Bragg, Michael Head, Bruce Springsteen and their many disciples.  “Early Springsteen is really where it’s at for me” says Conor. “But I guess I’m reframing what he did to a Dublin experience”. That’s quite a bold statement for a new, unsigned artist but listening to Conor’s songs there is a distinct ‘Nebraska’-era Springsteen vibe so maybe it’s not that audacious a claim. Listen to new song ‘Accelerator’ or ‘Mickey Was a Soldier’ to see what I mean. The latter is the tale of a young man gone off the rails who ultimately pays with his life.

Like Springsteen, Conor tells stories of the everyday, making the ordinary sound extraordinary, where drunks, criminals and normal folk collide in an imagined world that is informed by the real one.

Conor’s stories and themes could be pulled from the pages of an evening newspaper. He sings about railway stations, butcher shops and endless cups of tea.

His songs lack sentimentality and instead, they capture those small neighbourhood details that typically slip through the cracks. Although ‘The Ballad of the Butcher’s Wife’ is the obvious ‘hit’ I think ‘Getting Worn Away’ is  the standout; a beautiful, heartbreaking song of a daughter’s relationship with her father and his relationship with drink. It absolutely captures the turmoil and despair of watching someone you love slowly self-destruct.

Tales of love, loss, despair and bad choices never go out of style and especially when the style is as enjoyable as this. I’m sure it won’t be long before Conor Dardis finds a label that can help him get his music out to a wider audience, but in the meantime you can check out his stuff on Soundcloud and follow him on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/cjdardis

“Pigs Have Eggs” – Pond – Rough Trade – Nottingham -18th Feb 2015

“You’re late” someone shouted from the audience as Pond took to the stage an hour after the advertised 7pm. “We were told 8pm, what were you told?” shouted back drummer Jay “Gumby” Watson, a wry smile on his face. It didn’t matter. It was worth the wait. The upstairs cafe bar in Nottingham’s Rough Trade was jammed with a mixed crowd of young and old, some Tame Impala t-shirts floating about.

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Looking like the DNA from some 70s surfer bums and 80s computer nerds has been spliced together Pond play crazy, psychedelic pop rock but unlike many psych rock bands who seem more fixated on self pleasure, Pond care about the listener and layer their psychedelia with tonnes of catchy tunes and gorgeous riffs. And they have character in spades, evident from the banter between the various members between songs. We learned for example that pigs have eggs!

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“Hello Mother F*ckers” says baby faced and incredibly charismatic lead singer Nick Allbrook (wash your mouth out!) as they launched into “Waiting Around For Grace” off their excellent new album “Man It Feels Like Space Again”. Next is “Elvis Flaming Star” with a romping beat. Pond create some great (and loud) sound and some crazy noises. They then run through some “oldies but baddies”(according to Nick) before finishing their 40 minute set with the ravishing psych pop opera of title song “Man It Feels Like Space Again”, an 8 minute plus marvel with some bloody gorgeous crunching riffs and enough changes in gear to satisfy even the most demanding of listener.

Pond are currently touring the UK and you can find out where they’re going to be at their Facebook page.

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You can get get ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’ in all good record shops and online retailers.

One To Watch – Cariad Harmon

Juat came across a gem of an artist called Cariad Harmon, a London ex-pat now resident in the Big Apple.

She sings lovely folkesy tunes that reminded me a bit of Jaymay (that’s a good thing by the way) with a very cutely over-exagerated English accent. Maybe she wants folks in the States to know she’s an English import? It doesn’t matter, what does is that she sounds great and her music is instantly engaging and I know I’m going to have her album on repeat.

She’s already had some good press from the likes of Rolling Stone Magazine no less which isn’t surprising. She has smart lyrics, great tunes and lots of personality which make Cariad Harmon an artist worth exploing and definitely one to watch.

Her self-titled album is available on iTunes here [Cariad Harmon – Cariad Harmon] and you can take a sneaky listen below too.

“Backseat Mafia is going to the seaside” – COASTIVAL, Scarborough, 14th February

Coastival Lineup
Coastival Lineup

Backseat Mafia is going to the seaside. On February the 14th (that is Valentines day – but you love music, so it makes sense) they will be heading to Scarborough on the East Coast, for COASTIVAL (http://www.coastival.com/).

They’ll be hosting an all day stage of non-stop music featuring some of the newest and most exciting bands around. They’ll have top-class DJs filling in between the live action so the music will be non-stop. Added to that they’ll have a fully licensed bar, a cafe, massive merchandise area where you’ll be able to purchase cd’s, t-shirts, vinyl and much more. Set up inside the beautiful Spa Pavillion, the stage will have a sea view, that once it gets dark they‘ll be lighting up with lasers and other projections. – and best of all, it’s FREE ! So. make a date with your lover and a date in your diary and get yourself to Scarborough for what is guaranteed to be one damn fine day out.

If you are a band/artist and would like to find out more and/or how you can be part of this wonderous event please email backseatmafialive@yahoo.co.uk with some basic info about yourselves and links to your music.