The awesome Various Cruelties have announced they are set to release their new single Chemicals on 3 October 2011. Following the success of their previous two singles Neon Truth and If It Wasn’t For You – which sold out after being sold online and through Rough Trade – the band follow up with this track.
A year in the making, Various Cruelties have supported Fixers, The Vaccines and Villagers already, and are set to play Bestival in September having made an impressive debut at Latitude and the Isle of Wight festival.
Good, honest music, we’re sure you’ll love this band.
After touring with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Django Django, Norwegian singer-songwriter Eric Ness is most certainly one to watch. The title-track from his debut EP All The Things You Are is a lively up-tempo number complete with cheerful honky tonk piano, mischievous brass, and a fanciful video to match.
WORDS: Laura Seely
Produced by German filmmaker Sergej Hein, the video sees Ness transformed into London’s very own Scandi-Superman, performing a unique flying manoeuvre around the capital that is best described as a mid-air quasi-breast-stroke. Aided by his bizarrely bodiless bandmates, Ness concocts a plan to achieve that most admirable of ambitions, getting the girl. Chaos inevitably ensues.
The ‘All The Things You Are’ EP is due for release in September and you can catch Eric Ness performing across the summer. For more details, check his website here.
So here we go again… Green Man has become a bit of a staple in the eyes of festival goes who like to attend the less busier festivals and like to enjoy a variety of different foods (not just burger joints, noodle bars with massive vats of the stuff or chips), alcohol which is brewed using proper ingredients and produced on a cottage scale and don’t have their names plastered everywhere and entertainment which us adults will enjoy as well as (if you have any) the kids.
So we’re heard the hype, we know it’s in Wales somewhere and at this stage we’ve got most of the line-up information along with those nice treats we now expect from this micro festival (are we still using that term?), Chai Wallahs is back, the films have been picked, food stalls confirmed and kids’ activities all tied up but which musical acts should you go and see.
Right – this is my opinion and you can agree to disagree but the musical acts at Green Man have always been a tad controversial. For the first few years it was brilliant, but as the festival grew into it’s own pancho it became a little lost in my opinion; it seemed to ask itself, “should I appeal to all the kids or the core fans?” or “should I feature what I like, or new artists?” Now I think it’s found its really feet in this overgrown festival market, booking core bands and sprinkling the line up with a theme which it likes. From what I can tell this seems to be a bit funky this year, boasting old skool beats which gets a massive thumbs up from me. Anyway to write this article I made a playlist of a large portion of what’s on offer and as a result come up with some bands I wanna see and think you should share an ear drum with.
You’ve got your headliners which we’ll alll watch such as Fleet Foxes and the constantly magnificent Gruff Rhys, but I’ve opted for the less obvious and picked 10 bands which show the variety of what’s on offer…
Noah and the Whale – I’ve never seen these but hear great things. There musically tight and sum up what Green Man Festival is all about – Folk indie. They’ve written some great songs LIFEGOESON, 5 years time, 2 atoms in Molecule etc etc. I think this group will get you off your arse and make you get your shake on which is what we want, right? It’s a festival…. Check them out and spend the rest of you weekend singing 5 year’s time (which you’ll then hate by Sunday and keep singing in the car home until someone clips you).
Laura Marling – A little person who makes a big sound. She’s been tipped for massive things since cropping up in the indie world back in 07 and she kinda won a MASSIVE prize earlier this year. Poppy, folkie, indie-ish and out of interest I’m gonna go along and see her as she’s not the type I’d usually watch and this is what Green Man’s all about. It’s a punt.
Polar Bear – Horns, horns and more horns. I’m a bit of a jazz-liker and this excites me with its energy, fast pace and mind blowing presence. We’re at a festival so let’s explore ourselves and get some finger tapping and random head moving going on. These boys will break up the folkieness of this festival and gives a nice nod to one of the original influences of jazz and blues which is folk. Green Man brings together bands that show the interconnected influence of other genres and cultures on the folk-scene, and if anything it’ll be an interesting crowd.
Horse Meat Disco – P.A.R.T.Y. These guys are a dj collective that play 80’s boogie, electro, funk, new dance tunes and will generate a pretty funky atmosphere. So if you really wanna get your groove on then head for the tent these boys are playing and enjoy the d.i.s.c.o. Just leave the dad moves at home yeah?
Tweak Bird – By the Sunday, I crave some electric-based guitar-action which is why I’ve picked Tweak Bird. Stoner rock at Green Man, these guys have blasting riffs, speedy finger work and meet the demands of an electric junkie. Tweak Bird will give your ears something else to consider whilst at the festival SO watch out for these 2 brothers on a mission. ROCK ON.
Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo – Anyone watch Shadow Line? You know that eerie opening sequence with the beautiful soundtrack…? Well if you didn’t know already, that tack is called Pause and is produced by Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo. Whilst you shouldn’t see a band based entirely on the music used in a tv programme or advert (people take note, you know who you are) I must admit it was that tap on the shoulder from our good friend ‘familiarity’ that made me listen to this band but thankfully it paid off in the long run. I found their record mesmerizing and enchanting (both terms music writers use) and I’m very much looking forward to laying back, hoping it’s a nice sunny/warm evening and letting Emily barker & the Red Clay Halo take me on their journey.
Duotone – A halftone production of an image or in this case music. Anyone with a double bass cajon is worth seeing and duotone fit that bill. Leaning on traditional sounds with simple, thoroughly thought-out patterns makes for an interesting sound. A lazy afternoon band which makes them ideal whilst enjoying the sights of Green Man. Definitely a band to watch during down-time…
2Bears – I imagine these guys will be on later or on a dance stage but they caught my attention. A mix of electro, experimental, calypso. R&b, break beats and slick production, they also wear bear outfits. They could be the band that take you to a new place, some kind of Green Man inspired alter universe. Plus, they wear bear outfits. Bear. Outfits. (In summer!)
Image: Thomas Hawk Robyn Hitchcock – These days he probably falls under the catergory of the ‘old guard’. He’s been producing songs since the 70’s with influences like Bob Dylan, but he’s a musician you should definitely have on your list. His songs are proper songs; with full narratives rather than an arrangement of random words to create lyrics, his songs have heart and soul. Hitchcock’s a singer songwriter that’ll impress and put a smile on your face. Sometimes the oldies are the goodies… James Yorkston – John Peel played his demo Moving Up Country, Roaring the Gospel and said “song title of the year, no doubt” and there’s no stronger endorsement than John Peel playing your demo. Having played in a punk band, being on the Fence Collective label and working with a very prestigious collection of artists makes Yorkston an interesting proposition; his records tick all the ‘folk’ boxes and are coupled with brilliant lyrics. I just wanna hear Woozey Cider…
There we are! Those attending, check out some of these bands and report back to us with your thoughts. The line up has been announce and stages confirmed and can be seen here, so go check it and start planning your weekend. And if you’re currently uncommitted this festival season, there are some tickets left but you’ll have to be quick to get them as there going like hot cakes now! Details can be found here. See you there guys.
Editor’s Note: Check out Gavin’s work at Culture Vulture Zine here. And as Gavin missed him off his list, make sure you check out the AMAZING Tim Michin as he performs live at Green Man this summer. He’s quite possibly the best looking ginger man to ever have graced Green Man’s stage.
Stairs to Korea consists of one exceptionally talented young man, Will Vaughan. The eagerly awaited EP ‘Small Fractures’ possesses something that has been absent in pop music for a long time. Playing a multiplicity of instruments, Vaughan has carefully merged fragmented pop chords with synthesised guitar strums to create delicate harmonies. When listening to Small Fractures, it becomes clear why Vaughan himself has received wide critical acclaim from the likes of Steve Lamacq and 6 Music.
To fully comprehend Vaughan’s artistic delicacy, it’s best to begin with the second track on the EP. ‘Paul, is this how you want it?’ begins with an undeniably jolly, 80’s-esque synthesis of happy harmonies. Enlisting the help of delicate guitar strumming, and simple vocals, a track is created which becomes difficult to flaw. Gaining impressive plaudits and immersing into the airwaves of NME and Radio 1, it is obvious that Vaughan is in for some serious success.
Subsequently, the track ‘All of your Friends’ emulates the sheer technique enlisted by Vaughan to generate broken harmonies into elusive, heartfelt and subtle pieces of music. The slightly heavier strumming heard are contrasted with simple lyrics, creating an interesting bridge between a lyrical story created by Vaughan, and a catchy, melodic tune that leaves the listener hooked.
Again, Vaughan regenerates the Pop music genre by coinciding heavy backing beats with faint instrumentals. ‘Guy Fawkes’ is a perfect representation of this; erratic pop synths are elongated to create simple verses, slowly introducing the chorus and regenerating Vaughan’s signature vocals. Ascending into an abyss of fragmented chords, ‘Guy Fawkes’ closes on a gentle set of string harmonies- a solid end to the EP.
With choruses evolving in to broken harmonies that infiltrate Vaughan’s gentle vocals, it becomes clear why Stairs to Korea are not to be ignored. Having previously been signed to Brainlove Records, Small Fractures will be released under his own record label, named ‘Now…No NOW’. It will be available on CD and as a 7” Vinyl, and will be released on July 18th.
BEST TRACK: ‘Paul, is this how you wanted it?’
SOUNDS LIKE: Noah and the Whale, Mystery Jets, The Magic Numbers.
Small Fractures EP by Stairs to Korea, to be released via Now…No NOW on 18 July 2011.
New Zealander Liam Finn has been used to the limelight for most of his life now, having experienced touring with his father Neil of Crowded House from a very young age and gaining support slots with Wilco and The Black Keys off the back of his first solo record I’ll Be Lightning. Now, with the release of his second full length album, FOMO, Finn seeks to increase his profile amongst the ever growing list of prominent Kiwi indie-pop artists.
His sound is moulded around a laid-back, soulful vocal delivery which complements the more percussive undercurrent of layered drums and fuzzy bass lines, giving the tracks on FOMO a real pop drive. ‘Don’t Even Know Your Name’ uses drum machine, drums and tambourine to provide an energy and enthusiasm, sidelining guitar in favour of a more rhythmic approach. Think Jack Johnson crossed with Bedouin Soundclash.
Liam Finn by the awesome Rukmunal Hakim
Even stand out track ‘Real Late’- which conjures up images of a late night romantic rendezvous -includes an infectious funk inflected bass line that propels the track on over stunted surfside guitar. There’s a hint of a slight reggae influence that provides the album with a mellow optimism.
Despite this emphasis on beat and rhythm, FOMO is an incredibly reflective album as Finn ruminates from the safety of his New Zealand beach cottage about past loves, what could have been and new beginnings. His main strength is undoubtedly his lyrical prowess and ability to capture the everyday and imbue it with great sentimental significance. From the act of deleting images of an ex-girl friend off his computer in ‘Little Words’ to hearing an unrequited love in the room next door fixing things with Sellotape in ‘Cold Feet’. These images are recalled with a sincere spontaneity that makes the album an incredibly personal work.
The title, an acronym for “Fear of Missing Out” is as apt as ever as Finn’s anxieties over the future and fear of unfulfilled ambitions flows through nearly every track, giving the album a consistent theme and feel. This consistency is also a drawback however, as the album sticks to a similar tone throughout and never really ventures into the new or inventive. The reggae and funk influences here are only hinted at and never fully embraced as he sticks quite rigidly by his pop sensibilities, producing an album that is too safe, and could perhaps have benefited from being a bit more daring.
illustration by Eva Vazquezabraham
While the dreamy psychedelic tendencies of fellow Kiwi artists such as Connan Mockasin, Lawrence Arabia and The Phoenix Foundation have gained them much attention of late, Finn favours a more conventional pop approach, producing an easier but ultimately less rewarding listen. This is not a record that demands attention. Its sun tinted nostalgia and pop-funk beats make this a perfect listen for apathetic Summer days, but FOMO lacks the invention to take it out of the realm of background music, being a little too much of an easy listen.
Illustration by Emma Ridgway
RATING: 3/5 BEST TRACKS: Cold Feet, Real Late, Little Words SOUNDS LIKE: Bedouin Soundclash, Jack Johnson, Crowded House
FOMO is released on Transgressive Records on July 4th