TheMusicBeaver Blog

BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG)

BBNG are a jazz trio that, over the last month, I have grown to love. Hailing from beautiful Toronto, Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass) and Alexander Sowinski (percussion & samples) released III, their third studio album, in May 2014. Already long listed for the Polaris Music Prize, 2014, BBNG are going from strength to strength since signing with Innovative Leisure (One of LA’s coolest record labels). Their previous collaborations or support acts include the legendary soul and funk artist Roy Ayers,  Bonobo,  James BlakeKanye West and Frank Ocean,  just to name a few. It’s a big old mix of influences and this is reflected in their sound, which fuses jazz, hip hop, electronica and post-rock. Basically, if you are in to break-beats and jazz, you will love them…

Melodic, hypnotic, rhythmic and entirely instrumental these guys are perfect for whiling the hours away at home, with a soulful track like “Confessions, or for the big stage at a festival with something like “Since You Asked Kindly”. Currently touring the UK before finishing in North America, you can catch them at Lattitude (20th July), Edinburgh Jazz & Blue festival (26th July), Tramlines Festival (27th July), Kazimier in Liverpool (28th July), The Sugar Club  Dublin (30th July) and then in August, Winninpeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, LA before finishing in Chicago.
To take a listen visit their Soundcloud page, find them on Spotify or you can follow their movements on FacebookTumbr and Twitter @badbadnotgood.

BBC6 Music Festival

t’s amazing to think that only four years ago 6Music was faced with being cut from the budget of the BBC. It stands as a testament to the success of radio 6 that now in 2014, with the support of the listeners, musicians and DJ’s that present my favourite station that BBC6 now host their first music festival. Located in the Victoria Warehouse near the Salford BBC studios the venue presented a different experience for the average festival attendee. I never really got the feeling I was at a festival – more two extremely well lined gigs that happened to be separated by just a corridor and some toilets (that were at least better than those normally found in the fields of Shepton Mallet). But without being too short sighted on the absence of tents and muddy boots, the BBC have clearly found a gap in the festival calendar this early in the year, providing little competition from larger summer festivals and perhaps a safe bet for the BBC in a city with such a prominent musical heritage.

The event was largely a success with two stages, a “silent disco” and the BBC Festival Fringe nextdoor in the Victoria Warehouse Hotel, which mostly provided interviews with some of the artists or other notable folk and the odd intimate acoustic set. You can find out more on the BBC fringe website and the Fringe YouTube pages.
Headline acts and main supports at the festival included, Day 1; Damon Albarn after Midlake on Stage 1, and The Horrors finishing a more underground feel after Metronomy on Stage 2, Day 2; The National after Franz Ferdinand on Stage 1 and James Blake blowing the crowd away after Wild Beasts on Stage 2. There was also a silent, but let’s face it, far from silent disco, where X-Press 2 and Peter Hook took the lead roles.
Other notable appearances from Jagwar Ma, Kelis (would you believe), Bombay Bicycle Club, Drenge and PINS should not go without a mention.
If I were to have any reservations about the festival they would be having to pay £8 for a program in order to see the start times of each artist. I got round this though by asking a fellow festival goer if I might be allowed to take a photograph of his. In true Macunian sprit he obliged! But also – and this is something that surely will only get better at future 6Music festivals – the sound quality of stage two was a little poor for my liking (although it was perfect on stage one). With sound leaking from the “not so silent disco” next door, the volume on stage two was turned up so loud in order to compensate, causing the occasional bit of unwanted distortion or feedback!
Grumbles aside though, I thoroughly enjoyed the most of what I saw at the festival. With Metronomy being a band I have longed to see for ages, and sterling performances by Drenge and newcomers, Outfit, as well as the option of seeing Damon Albarn or The Horrors all in the space of one night (and for only £25) I felt utterly spoiled!
The two stand out gigs for me (bearing in mind I was only present the first evening) were Metronomy and The Horrors, and perhaps for entirely different reasons. Metronomy delivered exactly what I was expecting; amazing Sci-Fi-esk set design, the sharpest outfits (think off-white slacks and matching shirts throughout). The consistency, attention to detail and the “Metronomy brand” is extremely well thoughtout. They are unique in their style. And last, but certainly not least, Metronomy deliver on melodic sumptuous beats and electronic pop to die for! They played the obvious croud pleasers from English Riverera or their two latest releases from the album, Love Letters, while also testing unreleased material on our ears, much to our delight! The other thing that got me smiling was to see how much the band members were enjoying the experience. Sure Metronomy’s vocal harmonies could have been a bit sharper but I blame the sound check and “non silent disco” for messing with their monitors!
The Horrors on the other hand are rugged and punk infused! Not knowing that much about the band before arriving at the event (apart from that they had a cameo-appearance on The Mighty Boosh; which means they must be cool), two things especially stood out prior to their arrival. Firstly, the massive influx of people! After an already packed out room for Metronomy, there was no way any more festival goers would fit in. But they did! Squashed up against the railings right at the front, there was a buzz in the air. Secondly, when I saw John Cooper Clarke introduce the band I knew I had been missing these guys from my iTunes library! The Horrors effortlessly blend punk-rock and phycadelic synth patterns and in my view deliver a new vibe not seen since the days of Joy Division! Indeed, Faris Badwan, The Horrors frontman lead with a voice a bit like a more in-tune Ian Curtis! Much of the influx of people appeared to consist of late teen and early twenty-something’s, and after the performance it was really refreshing to see that the next generation of gig goers is really big on some pretty awesome music.
The BBC have managed to attract some of the biggest names in alternative pop and rock to the calendar’s newest UK festival. Their professional setup and emense resources mean that every second was captured for your musical entertainment and some of this footage can be found at the 6 music festival website. There is aslo a wealth of media to be found on YouTube or the BBC 6 music soundcloud pages. Furthermore, you can hear some of the interviews from the festival fringe on the 6 music soundcloud page and although it is just under a year away you can follow the 6 music festival twitter account for updates in the run up to next year. But as always keep listening to 6 Music, one of the very best stations around!

 

 

San Fermin

Original article published on the Awediohub website by @themusicbeaver.

Baroque alternative rock group extraordinaire, San Fermin, burst to life with their self-titled debut album. The brain child of Ellis Ludwig-LeoneSan Fermin bring a fresh taste on how to blend orchestral arrangements with epic rock and pop melodies all the while being interlaced with flourishes of break-laden beats. Ludwig-Leone, a prodigy and rising start amongst contemporary composers and songwriters, began with the San Fermin project after graduating from Yale University in 2011. After an already blooming marvellous start to his career, with ensembles ranging from film pieces to orchestral arrangements, Ellis Ludwig-Leone has set the bar extremely high in transferring his skill to the “popular” music scene with this masterpiece. All 17 tracks on the album are arranged by Ellis, astonishingly over a mear 6 weeks, and performed by no less than 22 musicians using, amongst others, violin, saxophone, trumpet, drums, guitar and piano (played by the man himself). Lead vocals on the album are laid down by Allen TateHolly Laessig and Jess Wolfe (the latter two are of Lucius – previously reviewed by Awedio Hub), although Rae Cassidy (who’s solo material is a bit like St. Vincent) provides emotionally laden female vocals while on tour.

Right from the first track it is clear we are about to experience something special. The building crescendo of sound and beautiful choral vocal harmonies that can be found throughout the album are exquisitely demonstrated by their no.1 hit, and perhaps the most accessible track on the album, Sonsick. Layers of vocals in a sickly addictive song will have you humming along instantly.

Male vocalist, Allen Tate and his sometimes melancholic but always booming baritone voice provide a contrast to the female vocals of San Fermin. His voice is likened to The National’s Matt Berninger and track 8, Torero (minus the strings, horns and female vocal accompaniment) reminded me of Mistaken For Strangers on The National’s best album, ‘Boxer’. Other noticeable influences that shine through are the Dirty Projectors or perhaps a mash-up between Sufjan Stevens and Grizzly Bear. So it came as no surprise to learn that Ellis is also a musical assistant to the distinguished Nico Muhly, whom has collaborated with the later two as well as The National.

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This debut album by San Fermin is amongst the most interesting and captivating I have listened tofor a very long while and if possible should be listened to from start to finish for the best experience. The many different genres and influences beautifully arranged make it a true masterpiece in my view and one that I am only sorry I didn’t discover sooner. We can only wait to see what comes next from San Fermin and Ellis Ludwig-Leone, but in the mean time, you can learn more about the band, San Fermin, and the creator, Ellis, at their respective websites. In addition you can take a listen to this wonderful music using a range of media, including Soundcloud and YouTube. Finally, you can keep up to date with all their movements via Twitter and  and Facebook.

 

 

All Aboard The Ark

From time to time I mosy on over to the Bella Union Soundcloud page to check out which amazing new musicians have been lucky enough to sign with my favourite record label. Can you blame me when they have such legendary artists; the likes of Roy Harper and The Flaming Lips, and this is without mentioning any of the relatively new talent they have on their books? And so it was through the medium of Soundcloud, while listening to the Bella Union sounds from 2013 that I first discovered this beautiful musician!
Alessi’s Ark is the performance name given to aspiring singer song writer and Folk-Pop fledgling Alessi Laurent-Marke. Now 3 studio albums in to a blossoming career, each even better than than the last, Alessi has recently toured with other stellar Folk-Pop musicans in Laura Marling and The Leisure Society and has even teamed up with Orlando Weeks from the Maccabees to help create the Young Colossus project (it’s worth a look!).
With a sound that is definitely more Pop than Marling, and at times way more Rock than The Leisure Society, Alessi’s sweet vocals and balanced rhythms was an instant hit with me. Her repertoire includes a good mix of both strumming and finger style guitar, as well as the occasional song with piano (like the song Money), so there is plenty to keep you interested even if some of her songs are quite short (although this is meant as a positive comment as my ears merely thirst for more).  Let Alessi’s Ark captivate your ears like she did with mine! You can take a listen using a number of media; there is YouTubeMySpace and plenty of links from her website too. You can also follow her movements on twitter @allaboardtheark and on Facebook at her official page.

Magical Miri

I first discovered Miri at a mid week free gig in my local cafe in East London. Running late after a long day at work, I wasn’t really in the mood. This all changed when I heard Miri! Her smokey vocals were captivating and the set up in that tiny cafe, with only a guitar and boom box as accompaniment was perfect. Miri fuses alternative folk, soul and pop delightfully and her lyrics reminisce about love and loss. Previously compared to a potential love child between Edith Piaf and Sting, Miri’s songs evoke a sense of hope and direction, much like many of Sting’s classics, but in her own magical style.

Now two albums into her solo career (both available for download form the iTunes store), and with her hit songs RED, Blue Skies and Broken City gaining recognition in the British feature film Fear of Water, Miri is definitely one to keep an eye on. What’s more, this East London chick is hot on her social media so there is plenty of ways to listen and keep up to date with her movements. She has Facebook, YouTube and Soundcloud pages, full of music and videos, and you can keep up to date with all her activity on Twitter @MiriLowDown or Tumblr. Also, in 2014, those of you out East in Hackney (Bohemia) or North in Highgate (The Boogaloo) should know she is playing Jan 8th and Jan 13th, respectively, in two of London’s coolest venues.

 

 

Landshapes

What a breath of fresh air! It’s a wonderful thing when a newly discovered band surprises you and sends a rush of tingles down the back of your neck. And tingles are certainly what I got when I first discovered Landshapes. Formally known as, Lulu and the Lampshades – and now somewhat organically rebranded after being accidentally misspelt on a billboard when playing in France last year – Landshapes released their debut album, Rambutan, in June to rapturous applause.
The thing that really grabbed me with Landshapes was the complexity and layers present in their music and the eclectic influences I could hear throughout. With a mixture of distorted guitars (oh, and electric ukuleles!), stomping baselines, and beautiful vocal harmonies, this indie/alternative/rock quartet provide a modern sound unlike anything I had heard before. While never diverging away from being an upbeat indie rock band their unique style also incorporates and beautifully merges glimmers of primitivist folk with psychedelic and post rock. Given their individuality it can be quite difficult to liken them to a particular band, but if you enjoy the likes of Metronomy and Effterklang, or even something like Arab Strap, you will surely love Landshapes.
Landshapes have well and truly cemented their place at the top of my iTunes play count recently and Rambutan is one of my favourite albums this year (so far). But don’t take my word for it, take a listen yourself. You can find them on soundcloud or to keep upto date with all their news follow Landshapes on twitter @LandshapesBand or visit their Facebook page. Or better still, if you get the chance to see them play live, take it! I was lucky enough to see them support Scout Niblett at Bethnal Green Church and I got a very different experience at their live gig compared to listening to the album. They experiment with their music more than most, and merge many of their tracks together using reverb boxes and strange electronics one can only marvel at. However, the icing on the cake for me – and is normally the sort of thing to make me smile – was seeing the way they would flip and switch their instruments as if they were mere toys. They all sing, they all play bass, guitar and ukulele, Landshapes are multi-instrumental geniuses.

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