Think about the South By Southwest Festival, for instance, and beauty might not be the first word that springs to mind. Think about the stifling heat, the sweaty bars, the copious volume of alcohol and the thousands of music lovers crammed in to half a dozen Austin blocks every March and the first answer in a game of word association mightn’t be all that glamorous. Fortunately though, South By is merciful in its size.
From Japanese all-girl punk bands to home-grown New York grime, a motley cast of every size, shape and description are arriving in Texas in ever more increasing numbers each year, slowly transforming a traditional new music showcase into the most eclectic US event on the calendar, finding plenty of room too for those bands who choose to attack the world of rock from a far more elegant angle.
Step forward Dry The River.
Grant Nicholas is a man well accustomed to the art of penning a hit single; churning out high octane radio friendly rock-pop gems since the early nineties.
More recently, he has diverted his attention to solo projects, which history tells us can be healthy for both creative and inter-band relationship purposes. In this instance, it has produced glorious results and sparked a rebirth in Nicholas’ writing. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with a field of ecstatic fans singing back ‘he’s got a CD player’ to you, but Grant is no one-trick pony, and is well adept at producing work of a more introspective nature. This is exactly where we find him in 2015 as he releases ‘Black Clouds‘, the companion piece to the 2014 solo album ‘Yorktown Heights’.
It’s a swift follow up to ‘Yorktown..’, which only dropped last summer. But such is his current outpouring of songs, a new release was necessary and, above all else, very much welcomed. The current solo venture has unveiled some soul baring lyrics and acoustic laden, beautiful melodies to boot. ‘Black Clouds’ draws on inspiration from some of history’s most influential artists, from Neil Young to Tom Petty.
We caught up with Grant to catch up on touring, his new record and his take on the current state of the music industry.
Mention the Vans Warped Tour and they’ll immediately be finalising plans to tour their own Rock N Roll Circus in the US, on one bus, with Parquet Courts, The Ming City Rockers and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros invited along for the ride.
Casually ask about alternative recording locations and within a split second their minds will wander to a dusty Cuban street, writing songs with Father Christmas, the haze of local distractions as tangible in the air as Austin’s pop-up barbecues.
Stick some Champions League football on in the background and hell, you might as well give up altogether.
It’s true, Palma Violets are an uncontainable bundle of energy. They burst into our Media Lounge at this year’s South By Southwest Festival like a litter of puppies let loose from the back seat of a car after a particularly long journey, eager to sniff out and investigate what games there are to play in every corner of their new surroundings.
Follow-up ‘Undertow‘ should be a meatier affair though, if the irresistible first single ‘We Can Do What We Want’ is anything to go by. Using the help of bass player Rob Graham to both expand their horizons and rise above that crowded two-piece world, the track hits like a latter day Ramones if those punk pioneers had cut their teeth in urban Derbyshire rather than late-night seventies New York.
Luke Branch – Vocals and guitar.
Jazz Miell – Guitar.
Michael Webster – Bass.
Henry Tyler – Drums.
Mike McGranaghan: Rhythm guitar and lead vocals
Jamie Clarke: Lead guitar and vocals
Joe James: Bass guitar and vocals
Charlie Jennings: Drums and vocals
So here it is. 2015, the year Marty McFly jumped into the future. And while hoverboards and flying cars are unlikely to be with us by October, something which not too long ago seemed just as unlikely by then probably will be.
Yes, a new album from The Libertines. Just one of the things we can look forward to as another year of rock and roll stretches out in front of us.
The run up to Christmas was all about Essential Listening for us here at Live4ever, and now with the turkey, Brussels sprouts and other festive cliches out of the way, we’ve handed the reigns over to some of our writers to single out their own personal favourite of the year just before 2014 leaves us.
Don’t forget, you can catch up with Live4ever’s Essential Listening Series 2014 in full at this link, and your own favourite album of the year can easily be shared by leaving a comment below.
We’ll see you in 2015!
Live4ever’s Essential Listening 2014 series comes to an end today with The Albums.
It’s been a year when albums have once again come under attack from the established order, described as ‘edging closer to extinction’ by George Ergatoudis. He of course being the man behind Radio 1’s lamentable playlists so a quick look at the state of the station’s output and its uncanny resemblance to the current Christmas singles chart shows just what he’s doing with an undue level of influence over mainstream music.
Fortunately, despite being shunned and undermined by those who could make a truly positive difference, the most traditional format of them all, vinyl, has only gone from strength to strength once again this year. With Pink Floyd offering up new music for the first time since 1994, Royal Blood concocting one of the most popular rock debuts of recent times, and high profile re-releases from the likes of Oasis and Led Zeppelin, sales on vinyl have raced past the one million mark for the first time since 1996 in the UK, justifying all the campaigns which have given a timely boost to long players since Record Store Day was first dreamed up in 2008.
Most importantly though, 2014 has also shown there’s still a mountain of soon-to-be classics out there to discover if you’re prepared to look hard enough. We’ve picked out just 20 of those for our final Essentials list of the year; a few you’re no doubt already familiar with, some you might want to re-visit, and perhaps others you’ll check out for the first time.
Catch up with Live4ever’s Essential Listening 2014 in full at this link.
Another year, another twelve months when hundreds of bands have been showcased on Live4ever via reviews, New Tunes Guides, interviews and Presents features.
Here, our editor Dave Smith has picked out 20 of the best for you to revisit or perhaps discover for the first time, be it the ‘naive enthusiasm’ of Wild Smiles, the ‘raucous, foot-to-the-floor, blink-and-you’ll-miss singles’ of Slaves, or the ‘sense of joy, of wonderment’ that underpins Trampolene‘s ‘I Don’t Know‘. Tomorrow, Trampolene will be talking us through ‘I Don’t Know’s origins and their plans for 2015.
Don’t forget, you can catch up with our Essential Listening 2014 series so far at this link. The final installment, The Albums, is coming next week.
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