Thursday, 31 March 2011

Danger Mouse ft. Jack White and Norah Jones

Check out the new collaborations Danger Mouse has recently been concocting...featuring the talents of Jack White and Norah Jones on these two gems. The album, 'Rome' is due out on May 17 and also features the work of Italian composer Daniele Luppi.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

John Fairhurst/Carl Woodford/Jody Wildgoose – LIVE

Club 60, Sheffield

March 19

As the dull twinkle of fairy lights and soft burning candles fight the darkness that engulfs the arched brick walls of Club 60, the dull hubbub of chatter subsides as Jody Wildgoose begins to strum his guitar.

For a name that’s not largely known, Wildgoose holds the attention of a crowd that listens to him croon heartbreak, love and lies with rapt attention. The soft folk sensibilities that surround the lone figure, with his head raised high, ring true and make you aware that Wildgoose has his heart on his sleeve.

Carl Woodford is a guitarist that keeps himself in the shadows. 

With 2010 being a quiet year for the songwriter, tonight he shows his muscle as a true guitar pro and his fingers work in a unison that the most well organised army of ants would be proud.

Woodford hits his stride with ‘To The City’ and jokes with the crowd about the Dutch courage stored in a small, silver hipflask that’s kept close-by before he brings the house down with strumming and drumming (at the same time) in 'Coloured Walls' that would put many three-piece bands to shame.

Headline act John Fairhurst has built up a reputation as one of the finest new guitar players around and as he begins his set with ‘Pay Day’ and ‘Daylight’, a Batman-like growl comes from beyond a veil of long hair to join finger picking blues that cuts holes through the subtle backdrop.

It’s Fairhurst’s birthday and after a chorus of the ceremonial song, he laments on his time in New York before continuing a largely instrumental set that keeps the crowd encapsulated by the astonishing use of an acoustic guitar.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Profiled - Richard Hawley

Richard Hawley has re-entered the studio to complete the follow up to 2009’s ‘Truelove’s Gutter’.

The songwriter has set up camp at Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studios with long-time confederate Colin Elliot for his seventh studio album. It comes off the back of a busy 20 years for Hawley with his sultry tones and classic sense of cool leading him to be dubbed as Yorkshire’s answer to Frank Sinatra.

Having collaborated with stars such as Duane Eddy, Nancy Sinatra and Tony Christie, the guitarist famously joined Pulp in the later stages of their career, touring and recording on their last album, ‘We Love Life’.  

Playing in one of Britain's biggest bands of the Nineties would be the pinnacle of many musicians' career, not for Richard Hawley and his most significant success has come as a solo artist. Known for his no-nonsense balladry that shines with a nostalgia of simpler times, the captivating instrumentation and heartfelt lyrics emanate a strong love of his hometown with dedications to the city’s heritage on LP titles such as ‘Lowedges’ and ‘Lady’s Bridge’.    

In 2006 the 44 year-old was tipped to take the much coveted Mercury Prize for ‘Coles Corner’. He was eventually beaten by fellow Sheffielders Arctic Monkeys to which Alex Turner notoriously declared: “Someone call 999 - Richard Hawley’s just been robbed.”

He was later honoured with an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University for his work on the album.

Born on January 17, 1967, in Pitsmoor, Sheffield, Hawley comes from strong music stock - his father, Dave, was a well known guitarist in Sheffield, plying his trade in the Dave Hawley Combo and the better known Black Cats throughout the Sixties and also made appearances with the renowned blues talents of John Lee Hooker and Little Walter.

Hawley picked the guitar up at a young age and after being caught with his father’s forbidden and prized instrument his interest in music was then nurtured by his father and uncle, Frank White – a well known Sheffield blues guitarist who rose to fame in the Sixties. By the age of 14 Hawley was on tour with Chuck Fowler’s band playing rock n’ roll covers at European strip clubs.

In the mid-Eighties Hawley formed Treebound Story, in which he featured on backing vocals and guitar, with friends from Firth Park Secondary School. It was a time when electronica was on the rise, a scene that centred around Sheffield and new bands such as the Human League, ABC and Cabaret Voltaire were picking up admiring glances nationwide.

The Treebound Story didn’t follow the mainstream which probably led to their minimal success, despite being noted by John Peel. They split in 1992 and reformed as the Lovebirds and although there was an offer from Ultimate Records, nothing was signed. While other members shaped a new band called Babybird (of ‘You’re Gorgeous’ fame,) Hawley joined the Longpigs towards the close of 1993.

This band became something of a cult act in the decade of Brit Pop and scored hit singles with ‘She Said’ and ‘Lost Myself’.  The Longpigs were a relentless touring machine, playing with the likes of U2 and Radiohead but it ultimately led to burn out and they folded in 1997, leaving Hawley drained and facing an ever-increasing drug habit.

In 2009, Hawley, now clean from drugs and the troubled times of over ten years ago, told Clash Magazine that he prefers not to look at the old times: “If you look back it’s too negative, you’re always facing the future with the back of your head.”

Richard Hawley still lives in Sheffield with his wife and three children.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Alvarez Kings/The Violet May/The Wallbirds/Ian Britt - LIVE

Soyo, Sheffield

March 14

Monday nights at SoYo are fast becoming a popular event and when South Yorkshire’s talent is being made so easily accessible for no pennies at all, it's hard to ignore the invites.

It’s with a shimmer and a shine that Ian Britt soulfully battles the conversation as he runs through original material and a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ to set the scene in the packed four walls of the club.

Being one of the region’s most talked about bands of three years ago, the Wallbirds have somewhat vanished from the radar but their folk shuffles and acoustic swaggery remain the same. Their set is delivered with a perfection that’s dashed with an arrogance which elevates the simple three piece to something much better than their petit frame suggests.

As they run through ‘The Avenue’ and ‘Lyin By The Side Of You’ it’s clear to see they’re not done just yet.

The Violet May have history with SoYo. Chris McClure’s argument with a chandelier has become something of recent folklore and as he energetically stalks the stage, mic stand spinning freely in his unconvincing clutch when he sporadically joins the crowd, it’s impossible to know what might happen.

It’s on the live stage where this band really come to life with wailing guitars and fuzz saturating ‘Brighter Or Better’ and their forthcoming single, ‘TV’,  leaves disco balls swinging precariously as they leave the stage.

It’s going to be a busy week for Alvarez Kings. After tonight’s show it’s off to Texas for SXSW Festival for gigs on the 17th and 18th before heading back to Sheffield for a St. Paddy’s shindig in a big white tent.

Their generic indie ramblings have caught the attention of a wide public audience and it seems that tonight, the people are largely here for the headline act and they duly whip through crowd favourites with a raw ferocity that provokes you into paying attention.

Sheffield wins.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Wolf Gang – Dancing With The Devil


Out Now


There has been much talk about Wolf Gang and the hotly tipped, yet to be released debut album, ‘Suego Faults’.

Having teamed up with producer Dan Fridmann (MGMT and The Flaming Lips,) Wolf Gang’s sound has grown from the days of the home produced ‘Pieces of You’ into a polished and  poignant dish of songsmithery that has begun to attract attention from all sides of the musical spectrum.

With a nucleus of euphoric pop that twists and turns with harmonies, buzzing guitars and sharp drums Max McElligott begs the question: “If you’re the chosen one, how does it feel to be loved by no one? If you’re the number one, where do you run to? Can you hide behind the sun?”  

‘Dancing With The Devil’ belongs in that summer sun and will undoubtedly fill festival goers with an undiluted joy as McElligott’s penchant for writing likeable tunes continues and further lifts the anticipation that surrounds the curtain raiser to his LP career.


Monday, 21 March 2011

Max Shire – Goodbye Twenty Nine

Out Now

Sharp Ears

As he looks back to 90s British guitar pop, the tear drop of misery falling from Max Shire’s eye isn’t rolling with the times.

‘Goodbye Twenty Nine’ is this singer/songwriters debut album and flakes from wistful melody to grunge modesty as he plunges through seven tracks that took 20 days to record

Shire is immediate and easy to place, there’s no skirting around the issues and the personal nature of this record endears you towards the misery despite the generic boundaries it sets itself.

‘Tomorrow My Servant’ burns with a passion that’s hard to ignore as Shire sets himself free and with wailing vocals, harmonies and driving guitars there’s no place for the mainstream as he creeps into the earlier realms of the 90s for over seven minutes.

The schizophrenic air to ‘Office Scum’ is not without imagination but the roughly welded shifts in direction show Shire to be in idea overdrive which inevitably leads to system meltdown after bouts of popped up jerk indie clunks into power pop rock with the singer/songwriter declaring: “The scum will rise, will claim our minds.”

Despite the patchy and overloaded nature of ‘Goodbye Twenty Nine’, there is a potential that lies in the depths of Max Shire’s sound but it might take a strip down and a re-think before those rays of light begin to shine through.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Winter Olympics – I Miss The Nineties


Out Now

Office Rock

It’s the follow up to their much lauded debut A-side single ‘Attention All Departments/They Launched A Probe’ and the Winter Olympics are turning up the heat.

Like its predecessor, ‘I Miss The Nineties’ is jam-packed with synth, heavy guitars and wailing vocals but it holds a flame that their previous single couldn’t keep alight.

The incandescent nostalgia will strike a chord with anyone who lived through the 90s and remind them of what was once good and even if the Winter Olympics are still overblown and brash in their approach, there’s a likeability that didn’t exist with their spaced out stoner breed of alien synth psychedelia.

God bless Cantona, the Megadrive and Terminator 2.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


 These Glaswegian hair monsters are hot on the heels of success and after being snapped up by Vertigo (of Mercury kin) their debut album, Hope Street is set to hit the shops on March 21.

Their blend of indie, blues, folk and rock is harmonised with a swagger while a host gloating guitars stamp their mark on what is fast becoming an accomplished sound that lives in a world of Americana.

Having recently being listed amongst the nominations for the Scottish Variety Awards 2011 in the Best New Band/Solo Artist category, Kassidy’s mix of poignant harmony and up-beat shuffles are giving them an infectious likeability that isn’t going unnoticed.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Songs on the Stereo

The Violet May, Photogrpah - Tom Walton

1.  The Violet May - Bright Or Better


2. Kassidy - Stray Cat

3. New Street Adventure - The Big AC

  New Street Adventure - The Big A.C by New Street Adventure 

4. William White - Take It Or Leave It

5. Alison Krauss - Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby

Top Tunes x

Friday, 4 March 2011

Crystal Fighters - At Home


Out Now

Zirkulo Records

The plaudits really are out for this London based Spanish act.

Debut album, Star Of Love, was lauded through the roof for their blend of folk, dubstep and electronica with preceding single ‘In The Summer’ picking up Track Of The Week from both Radio 1 and XFM.

‘At Home’ has received much of the same treatment and the third single from their debut sees Crystal Fighters championing 80s electronica and modern pop while neatly tying it together with folk nuances that could melt the coldest winter heart.

It’s a lot of fun and the anthemic vocals lift it to hazy new levels with an undulating melody that wraps itself around the subtle harmonies to make an effortless new brand of summer pop.