Keeping the Peace – Arthur Beatrice.

When there is such an overwhelming amount of media out there, how on Earth can you break through and penetrate to audiences who would seemingly fall in love with the material you create?

I think it is a mixture of things these days, from the main trusted sources, snapping, tweeting and posting social media networks, gut wrenchingly writing out a cheque for marketing but I am sure as anything that good old spontaneity can be easily overlooked.

Because it was through that, that I stumbled across this beauty of a band on a rainy summer day at Field Day festival. I was there for John Grant, Air and PJ Harvey but I arrived super early on my own, ready to embrace a day of stumbling across anything and thank goodness I did.

I discovered many good acts that I had loosely heard of, Mystery Jets and Steve Mason who both impressed; but I had never ever heard of Arthur Beatrice, a band that has just released their second album and have been on the peripheral for a while.

They were superb live – in fact, awe inspiring. Their second album is a statement of intent, beautifully composed well worked songs, powerful vocals and an overall soaring, anthemic feel.

Besides spontaneity being overlooked as a means of discovery, you cannot underestimate word of mouth. That’s proven in my inability to stop mentioning this band to my fellow music lovers and sharing it here in my own digital space.

This band, in my humble opinion needs to be heard by more people, so here it is people.

Arthur Beatrice – Keeping the Peace

Give it a listen!

Kinky Wizzards album 2 Guitar recordings.

Here are some photos of the recording session for the Kinky Wizzards 25th/26th June 2016.

This is without doubt one of the most intense yet, exhilarating and hilarious experiences I have ever had in the studio.

The new album to come out is one where myself, Miff and Jiff have really pushed ourselves technically, all the while, keeping our sense of humour and grooviness in check. It is an album that I am proud of and I look forward to releasing it in the not too distant future.

Photos taken by Bethan Miller.

Europe and us.

I woke up to a myriad of despondency amongst my friends on social media. All in favour of remaining in the EU. All in favour of unity and tolerance over fear and ignorance, and all pretty disappointed, angry or both. 
It’s the same friends that 13 months ago were also feeling the same way when the general election results came in. 
Can you blame us?

How many political mess ups have already happened from the Tories? The junior doctor contracts, the welfare bill, turning schools into academies, billions of pounds proposed to be invested in trident. These are all political motivations that have ended up with newspaper headlines with the word ‘crisis’ in it, serious protest and resistance or spin and U-turns. 

But this EU referendum took the biscuit. It never should have happened. Too late for that now, and there’s the final nail in the coffin for Cameron’s leadership. 

This referendum became one of the most divisive and bitter I have ever seen. Both campaigns used subterfuge and fear to promote their campaign. How can you reason your decision on such values? I want legislative action on the use of stats, the misguided figure on the buses that we spend £350 million is a moral irresponsibility when it is significantly less binary than that. The remain campaign was just as bad, using the lesser likelihood of war as a selling point. Don’t get me started on the Sun or demon ridden figures like Hopkins or Murdoch. 

The spirit of the bogeyman is high. The immigrants are taking over! Farage’s nazi-esque poster, another endorsement of said xenophobic and regressive values. You can’t escape the transgressive smug face of such a disgusting individual. He stands for everything me and my friends do not. 

Despite the watered down in and out politicking. The EU is a complicated one. I weighed up the reasons with Brexit being heavily swayed by those who are concerned with immigration, and the money issue with a desire from the older generations for what was.

What was once won’t come back again regardless. 

Remain was campaigned for ambivalently. Cameron was hopeless. Corbyn seemed half hearted in his statement that we should stay when bureaucracy in the EU has arguably at times, run amok. It’s not perfect, but no reasons to leave convinced me, I read several financial experts guidance, the EU’s funding in deprived areas in Wales not too far from me and the need for unity in such uncertain times made staying in the necessity. For me and my friend at least anyways.

The result was close. The U.K. Is split almost in the middle but alas, we leave.

What are the implications of that? I don’t know, it’s too early to tell. It is however ironic that the areas that were regenerated from EU funding voted to leave. Why? They ask the misinformed folk on the BBC? So we can ‘take our country back’! What on Earth does that even mean? The concept of possessing an island of tea drinkers is a rather abstract concept to me! 

Whatever the implications, what disheartens me most is the values that we have promoted in these last few months. The murder of Jo Cox, an mp who, despite the tarred brush of politicians being all the same, fought hard for a better world.

 I’m ashamed of the prejudice, the ugly nationalist pride that has that has come head to head with unity and tolerance. 

You see, me and my friends, a lot of which are very talented musicians, students and writers are liberal in our values. We believe in unity, we share companionship with friends across the globe. Some of my closest friends are from South America and Europe. We have utilised technology and today’s opportunities to come together. Our national pride only goes so far as the football and food. 
 We are a generation subject to significant change on industrial, technological and economic scales. We were outvoted and still, we can’t afford our homes and there’s little upward mobility for most of us regardless of our individual talents and endeavours to succeed. 
In or out, the rich are getting richer and we ever grow weary of the unrest and anger channelling through the likes of Trump in America. It’s all uncertain at the moment with too many values that divide us coming into the fray.

Still, let’s not loose heart. Let’s stand up for what we believe in. It’ll probably get worst before it gets better. But let’s hope for the better and more so, fight for it. 

Ex factor

Lauryn Hill’s Ex factor is a class in it’s own right. The track fuses styles of RnB, Hip Hop and Neo Soul and the lyrics are masterful in outlining the heartbreak of a toxic relationship and a perpetual wheel of trying to hold everything together. When done as well as this, it is the type of song that everyone can take their own meaning and experiences from.

That is just about the listeners though. Some musicians may identify with such a song that they are able to open up another dimension of it, and never have I heard a rendition of a song so remarkably done than Mara Carlyle’s cover of ‘Ex Factor’.

I first heard this cover when I saw Mara supporting Goldfrapp at the Royal Albert Hall in late 2014. I was enraptured.

All of a sudden, the well known Neo Soul track known for grooving your blues away is much more contemplative and spacious affair. Mara arguably gives the song a more melancholic shade as she leads and a church organ accompanies and the delicate emergence of a choir.

How can the same song be done so differently? I love both versions, but I think Mara’s desperately needs to be heard by more people.

 

My Jan/Feb Playlist

The Haxan Cloak – Excavation

The Haxan Cloak is an artist I discovered through Bjork’s latest album, Vulnicura. He contributed towards the production of the album and his personal characteristics shone through on ‘Family’ which is probably my favourite piece on the record. A low pulsating whirwind of such sonic depth that it shakes your very core. Such a sound gives you a very visceral image of what it is like to see your family fall apart.

His own album though is even yet more terrifying, one of the scariest musical experiences I have encountered probably since listening to Throbbing Gristle. The clue is in the title, and the album artwork. It would be an exemplar horror soundtrack. Some of the most impressive low frequency recordings I have ever heard, heavy beats, whirling strings, humongous reverb: it is masterful electronica music. Turn the lights off and prepare to let yourself be very creeped out by this record.

Julia Holter – Have you in my Wilderness

I have been very fortunate to discover this absolute gem of an artist. How refreshing it is discover someone new that just seemingly does whatever she pleases. Julia is very fun to listen to and her recent record has really seen her mastering her craft of writing artful pop music. There’s a lush range of instruments on display, stunning strings throughout with ‘Lucette stranded on an island’ being a personal favourite of mine, an awesome double saxophone solo on ‘Sea Calls Me Home’, and Beatles vibes on ‘Everytime Boots’. Heck she even rocks a harpsichord in ways that I would never imagine possible! Julia definitely has you in her wilderness, and you keep on wanting to come back to the record, time and time again.

Julia Holter – Loud City Song

As with any artist I discover, I get super obsessive with their back catalogue and similar musings are on display here. The exception being that the album is very much dedicated to themes of living in a big loud city, and how that impacts one’s life.

Jackson Browne – Late For the Sky

Jackson Browne is a writing genius in my book. Not so well known in the UK. But he wrote Take it easy and has associations with The Eagles. His album, ‘Late For the Sky’ has some of the wisest lyrics I have ever heard, up there alongside Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, in a time where music that mattered drove the culture so much more. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful album to listen to, tender, deep, comforting.

 

David Bowie – Blackstar

The man can only be marvelled at for choreographing his own death. Death is indeed a part of life and one that art explores often. However, there is something about Blackstar that is visceral in ways I’ve never experienced before. I saw Lazarus before knowing Bowie was going to die, and the transformation of the song’s actual meaning became very haunting.

Bowie is an artist who has indirectly influenced a lot of people. He has always been there in my musical upbringing and what is particularly notable about his death is that it marks the end of an era, where artists could experiment, push the boundaries and still be accepted by the mainstream. I hope Bowie’s parting gift resonates with people not only as just a great record, but a beacon for the future where a new generation of acts can arise who can push the boundaries once again.

 

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Out of character of my normal tastes you may say. Good music is good music and Kendrick Lamar’s recent album is one of the most exciting hip hop records I have heard in a long time. I think his outlandish and uncompromising lyrics and the concepts exploring racism, hood politics and soul searching are enthralling but the music and production of this record offers some jaw dropping moments. Lamar also fearlessly ventures into jazz at times, this is a record subsequently that has a lot of people talking…a brilliant record.