Archive for April, 2013

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 Photo by Kay Ibrahim

James Smyth – Sixteen – Track Review 

James Smyth is a 19 year old singer-songwriter from Scotland. Currently residing in London, he is studying popular music at Goldsmiths University.

‘Sixteen’ is a rather elegantly understated affair. The version that I am reviewing is a live version, recorded for a Choosic TV session. Being a live recording, it has a very stripped back production, consisting of a single acoustic guitar, main vocal, and backing vocal contributed by Livi Tambini. It is a flawless performance, which brilliantly showcases James’ ability.

‘Sixteen’ begins with the single guitar energetically playing a major chord progression. Instantly we are propelled into contemporary folk territory, and I feel that it has a slight Celtic tinge. This progression then modulates into a melodic arpeggiated pattern, in which the main vocal shortly joins. The verses flow nicely, and lead pleasantly into the uplifting chorus.

Lyrically, this song has been very well crafted. His ideas are totally original and un-clichéd, and I feel that his style can be compared to the almost poetic, storytelling approach of Dylan. It’s a very reflective track, dealing with subjects such as: the pangs of youth, growing up, regret, etc. I felt very nostalgic upon listening, and I’ve had the (rather catchy) chorus stuck in my head for days!

Smyth has an incredibly distinct voice amongst his contemporaries. His vocal delivery is smooth and creamy, tinged with his Edinburghian accent. If I had to draw comparison, I’d say that his voice on this track is a cross between Paolo Nutini, and Samuel Beam of Iron + Wine.

James Smyth is a 21st century troubadour, with the tender voice of a medieval balladeer.

Be sure to give him a like on Facebook, and even better, go and see him live!

Martin Emmons

Reviewer on Behalf of GIGgle Pics

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  • High Tide
  • The Fruit Group?
  • Skies
  • David Ellis and Band

 

The Marlowe Theatre on the evening of 27th April 2013, brought an invitation (and ticket) for something that was a little to good to refuse.  High Tide invited me along to review their EP Launch Gig held in the Studio in the wonderful new building that is now the home of The Marlowe Theatre.  I hadn’t been inside the studio before and I have to say how impressed I was.  It was a real pleasure to be able to see bands on the local music scene, provided with the opportunity to play on a large stage with quality sound and lighting.

I arrived early via the stage door and sat for a while at the back, watching David Ellis and his band sound checking.  The lighting and sound engineers have to be credited for their professionalism and dedication to getting it right!  Just amazing to hear these local acts sounding at their absolute best, well done The Marlowe Theatre for providing this new platform!

High Tide

High Tide

David Ellis was the first act on stage and one would be forgiven for thinking this was going to be a solo acoustic affair, but no.  David was joined by his fellow band members:  Dave Wright (guitar) – Patrick Channon (bass) and Emily Downs (drums).  Yes that’s right Emily on drums and I have to say how good it is to see a female drummer.  I cover many, many gigs and do not see this often!  It’s very clear that David has an incredible voice, but the sound produced by this band is a little unusual and highly appealing.  Favoring the use of the loop pedal (something I am becoming somewhat of a fan of) and some re-verb on his vocal, give this band a rich and all encompassing sound.  In fact I would go as far as to say that if you closed your eyes you could almost be forgiven for believing there were far more instruments playing than actually were.  First song of the set Goodbye, started soft and gentle, reverb on vocals and was both catchy and melodic, suddenly kicking into a faster rhythm.  A mystical almost haunting rendition of Black and Gold with the use of the loop pedal, had the hair on the back of my neck standing up at one point.  Livening up the set with an upbeat single called Tornado saw the crowd suddenly start to clap along and showed the diversity of the band.  Looking around at the audience throughout David Ellis’s set showed a real mix of age groups in the crowd and all really appreciated the music, getting involved with clapping along, a few dancing.  They really do appeal to all age groups and I highly recommend you check them out as soon as you can.

David Ellis

David Ellis

Skies and although it galls me to say this, but formerly known as Blaise Paisel (I wonder how long is the right time to continue to keep announcing the formerly known as?  I guess that’s a decision the guys will know themselves at some point in the future).  This is a band I’ve heard a lot and seen a couple of times, but not had the chance to review or photograph and I have to say I like a lot.  A particularly good mix of Indie/Alternative gives this band a real punch to it, a sound you simply cannot ignore.  Their song writing ability is way above par and produces numbers more catchy than the common cold.  With 6 members in the band now, the music produced is extremely full and complex, while still managing to have each instrument easily distinguishable.   Alie’s unique voice is still clearly heard which is good because the lyrics to their songs need to be heard.  Josh’s voice on backing vocals compliments Alie’s perfectly and the addition of a tambourine at times just adds to the fun element.  Speaking of fun, this band know how to have it and consequently so do any crowd watching them.  They never fail to get the audience dancing and clapping and they even manage to turn a song that should be sad or bitter, fun.  If Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder, You Better Stay Away A Little Longer is a song about exes and there are not many bands that can write a song on such a subject, that has a crowd dancing more than ever.  Performing Leave Me, their debut single under their new name, showed how many fans were in the audience as many were singing along, seemingly knowing all the words.  This is a band that already has a large fan base, this fan base will grow, a lot, mark my words!

Skies

Skies

The Fruit Group?  These guys describe themselves as a jam band and I couldn’t agree more.  I have to be extremely honest from the off and say that its not particularly my cup of tea.  HOWEVER, and it is a big however, you cannot detract from the talent of these musicians.  I had seen them once before in a small venue with a not very good PA and have to say how different the performance was this evening.  Although the band do not seem particular fans on lyrics (hence I agree with the genre description of jam band), when they do use lyrics they are somewhat fun and simplistic.  This was very evident in songs entitled Muscles and Amphibious in particular.  Taking away the lyrics (and you can do, as most of their tracks have very few) and what you are left with are complex and rich instrumentals.  These guys can ‘jam’ and they do, producing the most amazing sound that is warm and rich and at times reminds you of tropical beaches and sunshine.  Although I feel they ‘may’ have a pretty niche fan base, there were plenty that loved it and were dancing along.  Don’t get me wrong because I may say a niche fan base, but the music and songs they produce would be appreciated by most chilling in a bar or who fancy a little dance.  It’s not dis-likable music by any stretch of the imagination, in fact these guys had me in awe of their guitar playing skills.  Towards the end of the set High Tide jumped on stage, plugged themselves in (well their instruments) and one long and extremely fun ‘jam’ (yes there’s that word again) session ensued to close their set.  I really cannot say I dislike this band and I don’t think many could, it just isn’t for me on a regular basis (sorry guys, not meant offensively at all!)

The Fruit Group?

The Fruit Group?

High Tide!  Wow!  Now I’m not just saying this as they were the headline act, because they asked me to come along or because they supplied me with a ticket.  Yes you could probably say that this performance would have been above average, with the buzz in the venue.  At this point it was packed out with hundreds of people filling the room.  A huge crowd surging forward, crammed up tight in front of the stage screaming, whistling and showing extreme amounts of excitement   This is bound to get any band performing at their absolute best, but put this aside and you still have a WOW.  They played all of the songs from their EP (which you would expect at an EP Launch I guess) along with some mind blowing covers.  Described as an acoustic, soulful three piece band, you have just that in the form of guitar (guitars at time, dropping the bass), bass and percussion.  Percussion is one of the unique selling points of this band for me, and I have never in my life seen more enthusiastic playing of a cajon and probably never will again.  How Ben will be able to use his hands for any task over the next few weeks fails me, boy can that man bang that box!  Gritty vocals that were soft and gentle, backed by light, if no percussion produced a rich and deep sound which then leapt into energetic  upbeat tracks seamlessly.   One thing I did notice is the band are fans of ending a song extremely abruptly, which at times jolts you.  They then just move into something else and all is forgotten as you are transported along on the journey with them.  At times you can hear a real rock element which blends beautifully with the gentler folk vibe from their tracks.  Their EP has obviously had a lot of time spent on it and I for one cannot wait to get my hands on a copy.  They performed just about the most lively rendition of Lets Face The Music And Dance I have ever heard, then on the flip, the most unique version of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air probably in existence.  They managed to make the track almost indistinguishable until the chorus, but at the same time as though it had been written especially for them.  The audience went absolutely crazy throughout the entire set, as though they were at some huge concert and there were rock gods on stage before them.  It was almost impossible, if not completely impossible not to be drawn in by the mix of witty banter, amazingly lovely guys and extremely talented musicians, who just gel together in a way not often seen.  I for one will be keeping a close eye on all future gigs of theirs and would like to say a huge thanks.

High Tide

High Tide

Thank you for allowing me to be part of a gig that was more than a little special, was entirely awesome and ended with me writing a simple two words  in my notes, capital letters and exclamation marked… unfortunately they are not printable, but the first word was holy and the second began with a s!

David Ellis – Black and Gold

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Download Live EP 

 

Skies – Magical

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Here their new Single 

 

The Fruit Group? – How Are You

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High Tide – Rain Coat Man (not new EP track)

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High Tide on souncloud 

 

Photography provided in kind permission by Charlie Osborne (check her out and the rest of the photo’s from the gig – many more on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dr.char?fref=ts 

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IRIS – Lights At Ten – Track Review (Single released today 29.04.13) 

Back with another killer track from the talented boys in IRIS. This is their first release with their altered line up, and I think its safe to say, they have nailed it! Lights At Ten is a fast paced, heart felt track. A tale of regrets, confusion and admittance. On first hearing this track, what stuck out most for me is the ‘IRIS’ sound. It’s completely original, interesting, yet commercial… although not too commercial!

The production reflects this greatly.

All these dynamics they get so right and it makes for really skilled song writing.

The Music itself has been well structured and clearly thought out, down to the last beat. The lyrics are sung with conviction and such force, that it’s hard to ignore them. Blissfully placed harmonies, not to mention the group vocals. Nice little touch there. They give the track a great sense of Community. The guitars work together to create an incredible wall of sound, that engage you from the very first chord. The slight off beat drums in places, really keep you on your toes.

‘Light’s At Ten’ has an essence of Nostalgia, yet is still so current and relevant, something these guys do very well.

This track is a prime example of the talent that lies right on our doorstep, I cant fault it. You can see the progression of this band has come a long way, and I am certain that there are a lot of people out there excited, and hungry for more from these Four Kent boys. Don’t just take my word for it, see for yourselves!

Kate Louise Wintie 

Rock/Post Hardcore Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

Find band on Facebook
Official Website
– download copy of single here

 

Photography by Sarah Quinn – GIGgle Pics & Kent Sessions

  • Orfila
  • James Kirby
  • Beki Robinson

 

Friday 26th April 2013 saw this years relaunch of Imperial Sounds, held at beautiful Hythe Imperial Hotel by James Vince and Ted Clark.  This event had much success last year seeing some top class artists perform for a free entry evening held once a month.  If this evening was a taste of what is to come, I would highly recommend you go down for the next one, for an evening of quality music in a relaxing environment.

Beki Robinson is a 21 year old artist/singer/songwriter from Ashford Kent.  Having taken a bit of a break since August 2012 after trying out different styles of music, she has regrouped and is writing new material which she is currently recording.  Although Beki has been a bit quiet on the gig scene of late, her reputation still preceded her and I was very much looking forward to her performance.  Taking to the stage, a vision of red loveliness with her piano, Beki started the evening with an original song.  The very first note told a story of what was to come with a stunningly melodic sound floating across the room, filling every corner of the bar.  The set included a lovely mix of originals and covers with an unusual twist, making them unique to Beki.  These included a particularly beautiful version of Emelie Sandie – I’ll Be Your Clown for which Beki did more than justice to.  The last part of the set saw her joined on stage by Alex Budd and Beki stepped away from the piano to sing a few more covers with an amazing guitar accompaniment.  Two extremely talented musicians then performed a surprising rendition of Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude, in a style I don’t think could ever be repeated.  For me I actually preferred it to the original with a modern vibe but still chilled lyrical twist.  I am very anxious to hear what new music Beki produces this year and will be eagerly keeping an eye out for the recorded material.

Beki Robinson & Alex Budd

Beki Robinson & Alex Budd

James Kirby is a musician from London who has been performing for over 18 years.  During those years he has opened stages for the likes of Labrinth, Sarah Cox (Radio 1), Kids in Glass House and Eddie Reade, which in itself tells you his caliber.  James is indeed both an extremely talented musician and singer, starting his set with beautiful melodic chilled out original songs and very clever use of a loop pedal.  Stilling on the sofa, enjoying the relaxing sound of the guitar and amazing vocals gently floating from the stage, I was suddenly jolted into paying attention.  James somehow manages to flick a switch and jump between gentle beautiful music and upbeat lively country style tracks that slam into your face.  It is rare that an artist can do this so smoothly, the transitions seamless without feeling disjointed in any way.  Just as the audience relaxed and quietly chatted among themselves, he would produce a lively, toe tapping affair that captured every ounce of your attention and made you focus attentively.  The instrumentals, voice and style of this artist is somewhat jaw dropping and it really isn’t hard to see why he has been chosen to open the aforementioned stages.  Once home I immediately looked him up and checked out some more of his music, I would seriously suggest you do the same.

James Kirby

James Kirby

Orfila are a self titled band, self titled due to Abi, Louise and Matt being three siblings with the surname Orfila from Folkestone. I have to say right from the onset that this family should be producing a new super breed of children in the future that will be taking over the musical world.  How can one family produce so many talented singer/songwriter musicians?  A question I’m pretty sure I will never discover an answer too.  There followed a beautiful mix of originals and covers from the stage, including performances of their upcoming debut EP.  Amazingly each sibling has written a track for this EP and you can hear the slightly difference styles brought from this influence, but each complimenting each other beautifully.  Already having gained success and having supported the likes of Beverley Craven and Albert Hammond they performed the most catchy rendition of Albert’s song I’m A Train I have heard.  Covers from The Beetles, Taylor Swift and Mumford & Sons floated off the stage with the most stunning angelic harmonies I have heard in a long while.  Throw in some harmonica and guitars and you have yourself if an amazing band I could never tire of seeing live!  Roll on this debut EP is all I can say.

Orfila

Orfila

Sarah Quinn – GIGgle Pics & Kent Sessions

Find Beki Robinson Music on Facebook 

 

Find James Kirby Music on Facebook  

James on souncloud – go have a listen! 

 

Find Orfila on Facebook 

 

Although I took my camera along and took some shots, James did such a sterling job it seemed pointless me reproducing more of the same.  Therefore I bring you James Vince’s photography by kind permission.  Check out his Live In The Living Room Project.

  • Crashgate
  • Jukebox Monkey
  • After The Enclave
  • Let The Dust Settle

 

Thursday 25th April 2013  another night at the Beer Cart Arms in Canterbury brought another really great line up of bands.  This venue always seems to bring the bands flooding in, eager to play and has built a great reputation in the local scene all round.

Let The Dust Settle are a heavy rock band from Tunbridge Wells in Kent who I have seen and reviewed once before.  Rather than cover old ground I will post the link here to the previous review (RokanRolla gig 28/02/13) and just give an updated opinion of this performance.  The previous review is well worth a read so head over and give it a quick browse.  If you’ve read it, you already know my thoughts on this band and a good idea of what they are about.  My previous observations still stand, they still have the heavy riffs and punchy vocals and I feel they have improved somewhat, which is always a bonus.  The guys are currently in the recording studio getting their debut EP down to bring to you all shortly.  The only thing I would say is that Lee’s vocals were a little softer off the back of hours and hours of singing, but I only noticed that due to having a gig to reference them against.  Visually the band didn’t really seem to relax until about half way through their set, this could be due to being first up which can be tough.  Once they got going though they seemed to have a lot of fun.  A few more gigs under their belts and I think they will really start to come into their own.

Let The Dust Settle

Let The Dust Settle

After The Enclave a hard rock band from Sittingbourne are a band I’ve photographed on a number of occasions now and reviewed once before fairly recently.  Again I will post the link to the previous review (RokanRolla gig 22/03/13) and say that this review is still entirely accurate.  The thing about After The Enclave is they are a very established band, gigging very regularly and their performance standards never drop.  They also never seem to get bored and enjoy every single gig they do.  Front man Micheal always puts on a show that will capture your attention with never a slip in the vocal delivery.  Adam has to be among the hardest rocking bassists I have seen, headbanging his way through a set which always provides amazing photo’s.  A great blend of hard rock and metal cascades from the stage and I dare you not to even nod your head!

After The Enclave

Jukebox Monkey another hard rock band from Kent and I have reviewed these guys once before also (RokanRolla gig 22/03/13) and wow what a review.  These guys play a particular brand of kick ass rock that really appeals.  Their visual performance smacks of a band that parties and rocks out hard.  There is not a band member that does not draw your focus at some point and this night was no exception.  Drummer Peter even climbed on board his kit at one point, living up to his nickname ‘Animal’ that I dubbed him last time.  Hard headbanging heavy riffs galore meant I came away with neck ache, quite happily.  Unusually I find these guys sound better live than recorded which isn’t a bad thing, not many bands are able to sound better live!  These guys are definitely going to be seen and heard of more and more on the circuit for sure!  Smashed it!

Jukebox Monkey

Jukebox Monkey

Crashgate are an established rock band from Deal and although I’ve photographed them once before I have never reviewed them live.  This was a set I was looking forward to, due to knowing that they would be performing some new material from their recently released debut album.  I’d heard the album from the comfort of my own home but there is nothing like seeing material like this live, the way its meant to be in my opinion!  It was evident from the start that these guys have been together sometime and they know what they are doing.  This maybe new material but the band played it tight with so much energy and vigor, they are proud of this stuff and they should be.  Clever lyrics, some great blood curdling ‘screaming’ bringing in a slightly metal element and the clear and extremely tuneful vocals of Craig make this a band more than pleasurable to watch and listen to.  Interaction with the audience makes the band even more alluring, drawing them in and making them step forward.  They gained new fans at this gig, I’m pretty sure they do at every gig!  Get along and see them very soon!

Crashgate

Crashgate

Sarah Quinn – GIGgle Pics & Kent Sessions

Let The Dust Settle – Weapons and War

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After The Enclave – Crucified 

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Jukebox Monkey – Airborne 

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Crashgate – As One 

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I seriously can’t say this enough… if you like what you hear, like what you see give these guys Facebook pages a quick like, 10 seconds, links provided and its great for them to know people appreciate what they are doing.  You also get to keep up to date with what they are doing, new music etc.

Here follows an extremely small amount of the photography taken from the night.  For the full gigs photography please head over to Facebook, this gig only!

Photo’s by Sarah Quinn – GIGgle Pics & Kent Sessions

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The Gang – Mania – Track Review

Powerful, driving, bluesy drum rolls accompanied by urgent and attacking chords, and an answering overdriven, melodic riff, fuel the background of this energetic track “Mania” by The Gang. As the title suggests it’s a frenzied, raw, lively, garage rock track, with manic instrumentals and a casual indie vocal line. The chorus is calmer with a funky drum groove, simple chords and vocals, gradually building up the guitars to a bassy, head nodding solo. “Mania” is the opening track of the band’s latest EP “BLVDEVARD”, and the track definitely demonstrates The Gang’s ability to produce a short, snappy, abruptly ending song, that is so nonchalantly cool and catchy.

Annie Mackinnon

Rock/Indie/Acoustic Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

Find the band on Facebook

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THE BAKESYS – Looking For Love – EP Review

My culturally anachronistic CD collection is a seedy wasteland of bands that were big in the late 90s, local band samplers and METALLICA albums. I’m something of a hoarder. In fact, let me qualify that. I’m an active hoarder; I regularly listen to 95% of the somewhat vast collection of soon to be defunct devices. Even the WHITESNAKE albums. And no one listens to WHITESNAKE. They were rubbish.

Yet buried in the depths of this musical graveyard lies the rogue 5%. The dusty, forgotten loners of the Malcolm CD empire. These are the B-Side albums jam packed with ‘rare’ and ‘previously unreleased material’. Tracks that have never before had the pleasure of making their way into the publics’ listening holes. The musical landscape is littered with such albums. The problem being that no such album in the history of everything has ever been more than a thinly veiled rebranding of ‘stuff that wasn’t quite good enough to make the album first time around’.

NIRVANA’s Incesticide being the exception that proves the rule.

This, truth told, is a pretty severe way to start an article about what has turned out to be a pretty decent offering from THE BAKESYS who describe their EP Looking For Love as “4 rare & previously unreleased tracks & demos”.

So let me take you through a play by play and tell you why I’m such a grumpy pants.

Looking For Love

The title track and by far the strongest. It’s a punchy two tone number reminiscent of the 2nd wave bands of the Eightees; BAD MANNERS, THE SPECIALS et al. It lacks the brass of its idols, but this is compensated for with some very simple but hauntingly effective keys.

Days Gone By

Which is swiftly followed by the weakest track. I should add; this is by no means a bad song. The arrangement is strong (look out for the understated but beautiful sax solo). The harmonies on the chorus are fun and the song as a whole has a playful, bouncy quality to it. But it’s very simple and, moreover, doesn’t feel like it belongs next to the title track.

Yesterday’s Man

Another ‘down the line’ ska track. Up tempo and in your face with a wonderful dynamic (listen out for the break downs). Again, the lack of brass is made up for by a simple but accomplished key melody.

Life’s So Tuff

For me, this track highlights the issue with the ‘rare and unreleased’ shtick. The song, at its core, is good. It has an ethereal quality to it in a similar vein to THE SPECIALS’ Ghost Town, becoming trapped in your subconscious only to reemerge as you trudge through the dog food aisle in ASDA. The arrangement is tight and it all feels very well put together. But it doesn’t quite fit. It opens with a guitar sound altogether different from the rest of the EP which straight away gives the song a different identity.

You see, when you take four tracks with a slightly different feel or audio footprint, you’re left with something of a jumble. A handful of ill-fitting jigsaw pieces. Whilst they may be good songs in and of themselves (and don’t get me wrong, THE BAKESYS have a good collection of tracks here) they will never feel like they fit together properly. Listening to them then becomes something of a jarring experience.

Which is a shame because THE BAKESYS deserve to be heard.

LUCIAS MALCOLM

twitter.com/LuciasMalcolm 

Ska Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics

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