jamie boyd Tour and Music News

Album Review: Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter

Posted on 20 Apr 2020 at 8:00am

Whether it was huddling around the radio as Vera Lynn soothed the troubled minds of families across the UK during the Second World War, or witnessing the rebellious virtues of the mid-70’s punk movement that railed against perceived social disparity, the power of music to provide catharsis against an existential threat has rarely seemed more vital than in the midst of our current crisis.

There are few genres of music that capture the essence of human struggle and the intrinsic desire to escape from said drudgery quite as expertly as folk music, which is why Laura Marling’s decision to release her seventh LP ahead of schedule, and thereby eschewing any notion of personal interest, appears to have been impeccably timed.

After shrewdly navigating the trials and tribulations of what it means to be a woman in the modern age on 2017’s predecessor Semper Femina, Marling returns pretty much as she left off, at least thematically. There is a conscious focus on her vocals and lyrical content as opposed to any distracted complexity of percussion and instrumental arrangements this time around, with a fictional overarching tale of a mother earnestly addressing their daughter using the benefit of a lifetime of hindsight, making for a compelling listen throughout.

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Ten Years Of The Joy Formidable and A Balloon Called Moaning EP

Posted on 02 Nov 2019 at 7:17am

It may well be entirely cliched to say it, but a lot can happen in ten years.

Back in 2009, music media buzz and the UK gig circuit were awash with indie and alternative rock acts looking to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the scene’s luminaries – The Libertines, The Strokes, Kings Of Leon and a rapidly ascending Alex Turner and co.

There was a clearly visible path towards the upper reaches of the proverbial rock and roll tree, where putting in the miles on the road and garnering a loyal fanbase on the way could be the platform for big things to come.

Lead singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd of The Joy Formidable were the creative duo as it all began, with drummer Matt joining amid the early recording sessions after previous drummer Justin Stahley had left, on what was to soon become their breakout EP.

Despite Ritzy and Rhydian hailing from the endearingly unchanging north Wales market town of Mold, A Balloon Called Moaning was somewhat bemusingly released exclusively in Japan in December 2008, before a full UK release with additional tracks the following month.

Album Review: Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

Posted on 15 Oct 2019 at 8:31am

Confusion. Indecision. Fear of change. These more problematic elements of the human condition will likely be familiar to many at certain junctures of life.

Whether it’s moving to a new city to start afresh or picking up the pieces of a broken relationship, grappling with an internal dialogue about what the hell it all means and who you want to become once you reach the other side can be challenging, if not impossible, to articulate.

This hasn’t stopped Angel Olsen giving it her best shot on All Mirrors, her fourth LP and follow-up to 2016’s My Woman. My Woman saw Olsen continue her steady journey into the gaze of the mainstream with the help of breakout hit Shut Up Kiss Me, signalling a foray into a more direct alt-rock driven sound ahead of the previous explorations of contemplative folk.

If Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours expertly captured the tempestuous aftermath of embittered break-ups within the all-too-close-for-comfort confines of an L.A. studio, Olsen took a very different approach after the realisation, mid-tour, that her own relationship couldn’t be rectified. An isolated writing process ensued in the remote climes of Anacortes, Washington, as Olsen doubled-down on her bid to reconnect with her emotions in attempting to find answers within the depths of some of her darkest, most introspective and revealing songwriting to date.

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Album Review: Catfish And The Bottlemen – The Balance

Posted on 26 Apr 2019 at 7:16am

The death-knell for traditional rock music has long been ringing in the ears of die-hard fans and touring bands up and down the country like an unwanted bout of tinnitus – Catfish And The Bottlemen have seemingly never received the memo.

In rebuttal to the latest wave of contemporaries taking influence from punk rock and hardcore (Slaves, Idles), Van McCann has steadfastly reiterated in interviews that ‘everybody has started thinking too much outside the box, trying to be arty and different, we wanted to stay inside the box’.

Despite hardened critics perceiving this stance in a negative light and indicative of a lack of ambition, it remains difficult to argue that the band aren’t at least staying true to their word. It also brings into question a long-discussed topic of music through the ages: should your beloved band evolve creatively, or would you prefer them to stay exactly as they are?

As in many other walks of life, embracing change often comes down to personal preference and temperament. Music is no different; take the Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino. A far cry from jagged guitar riffs and biting social commentary, it was observed in some quarters as a masterful, jazz-infused ode to modern life through the metaphorical medium of space travel, in others as a meandering, confused body of work from an artist indulging his ego without a thought for fans of previous records.

Therein lies the delicate trapeze act of musicians wanting to appeal to their growing creative instincts without alienating the fanbase that keeps you from having to consider a more conventional nine-to-five occupation. Catfish And The Bottlemen have resolutely stuck to what both they and their devoted fanbase have become accustomed to on this their third album, continuing the theme of showcasing driving guitar-based choruses atop relatable lyrics of struggling romance.

Album Review: Peace – Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll

Posted on 15 May 2018 at 8:35am

Fast approaching a decade of existence, Worcester’s finest Peace deliver a commercially targeted third LP following 2013’s psychedelia-tinged shoegaze debut In Love and 2015’s sunshine-fuelled Britpop-era inspired predecessor, Happy People.

Having initially been touted as heirs to the Foals and Maccabees soaring indie-rock shaped throne, the band have since crafted their own path to cult rock royalty by paying homage to a vibrant concoction of influences. These have included such diversified inspiration as The Cure, Oasis and Patsy Cline alongside a healthy dose of jazz-blues and Motown, built around a lyrical undercurrent of internal dissatisfaction and mental health issues.

With the latter topic increasingly prevalent in the public eye, Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll is Peace’s answer to persistent global political unbalance, cultural division and all round fear and uncertainty that pervades our current age.

However, rather than divulging in solemn or self-deprecating material, the band instead look to provide an admirable body of work that we can retreat to for a serotonin-infused boost of unsubtle, unifying rock and roll or, in the simplest of terms, to cheer us all up a bit.

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Album Review: Liam Gallagher – As You Were

Posted on 06 Oct 2017 at 12:33pm

The aftermath of Oasis’ split resulting from increasing tensions between the perennially sparring Gallagher brothers Liam and Noel has no doubt been kinder to the latter.

Noel’s critically and commercially acclaimed solo albums stand in stark contrast to younger brother Liam’s intermittent flashes of brilliance with Beady Eye, despite concerted efforts on their last studio recording to experiment with a sound away from the tried and tested methods of Oasis’ sixties rock and roll template.

Despite previous claims against putting out music in a solo capacity, life out of the limelight began to grate on a man lauded as one of the greatest rock vocalists of the nineties. A series of goading tweets aimed at his brother, a well-received, lurching debut solo single in Wall Of Glass and a heart-warming, surprise appearance at the One Love Manchester concert signified he had emerged from the shadows in customarily emphatic fashion.

Representative of a dying breed of provocative rock and roll icons from the Britpop era who haven’t yet been adequately replaced, there is something altogether refreshing about Liam’s resurgence within a contemporary music scene steadily shifting away from British rock roots evolved over several decades as part of the island’s cultural identity.

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Album Review: Laura Marling – Semper Femina

Posted on 09 Mar 2017 at 8:51am

With the coinciding of her sixth album release in the throes of International Women’s Day and the direct translation of album title Semper Femina taken from an excerpt of Virgil’s Roman-era poetry which stated ‘woman is an ever fickle and changeable thing’, even Laura Marling’s oft-cryptic lyrical swoons create little illusion as to the record’s intended message.

In celebrating the freedom and empowerment of women within a political climate where a reminder of the gender’s virtues is as timely as ever, Laura Marling embarks on a highly straightforward statement in comparison to previous works.

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Album Review: Catfish & The Bottlemen – ‘The Ride’

Posted on 30 May 2016 at 6:57am

Catfish & The Bottlemen’s meteoric rise from bleary eyed rock and roll hopefuls, relentlessly traversing the north west in the pursuit of the Oasis-ian dream, is one of an increasingly rarefied yet endearing tale in contemporary music folklore.

The Llandudno-based band has seen their hard work pay off in droves since initial formation in 2007. A series of independent EP releases eventually culminated with the rapturously received debut album ‘The Balcony‘ in the latter half of 2014. The next 18-months have seen sell-out headline tours on both sides of the pond and certified gold album sales, while a Breakthrough Band award at the Brits ensured lead singer Van McCann et al were tapping into a mainstream audience that few have managed to crack in the everyman’s clarion call, post ‘Definitely Maybe‘-era release of the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not‘.

It almost seems fitting that this swift follow-up was recorded in New York with former Oasis producer Dave Sardy, providing all the necessary ingredients for utilising the band’s penchant for raucous singalong anthems with the aim to produce an LP which would unlock undoubted potential for the band to thrive on the biggest of stages.

Album Review: The Joy Formidable – ‘Hitch’

Posted on 05 Apr 2016 at 7:32am

It’s difficult to believe north Wales’ most celebrated alt-rock trio, alongside the Manic Street Preachers, released their sprawling debut album ‘The Big Roar’ over half a decade ago, where hypnotic vocals chimed with distortion laden guitar for a crescendo inducing embodiment of the expansive Welsh countryside which inspired its creation.

If follow-up LP ‘Wolf’s Law‘ stuttered somewhat in its delivery of a similarly engaging journey, aside from brief moments of arresting quality including the spellbinding melancholic tale of relationship strife in ‘Silent Treatment’ and the thrillingly ambitious near six-minute cacophonous wall of sound on ‘The Leopard and The Lung’, third outing for The Joy Formidable, ‘Hitch‘, attempts to deliver a cohesive statement of Led Zeppelin and Blodwyn Pig inspired blues tinged rock anthems, where a musically mature offering sees a range of rock sub-genres explored on an intrinsically diverse record.

Album Review: The Last Shadow Puppets – ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’

Posted on 25 Mar 2016 at 7:10am

So much has changed in the eight years since Miles Kane and Alex Turner unveiled the Scott Walker-inspired fruits of a French expedition to record ‘The Age Of The Understatement‘ that it seemed very possible a follow-up to the Mercury Prized nominated baroque-pop debut album may never see the light of day.

Despite the rising star of Miles Kane, formerly of The Little Flames and The Rascals, ever since as a solo artist in his own right, and Alex Turner’s sustained grip on the alternative guitar rock scene as Arctic Monkeys’ frontman and generational rock & roll icon, a recording session working on early material for Kane’s next record sparked a mutual feeling that the band should revisit the revered collaboration.

Much like the transition of Turner’s songwriting maturity and the Arctic Monkeys’ sound from fresh faced tales of teenage heartbreak and run-ins with bouncers on debut ‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not‘ to the swaggering genre spanning sounds found on ‘AM‘, ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect‘ is the culmination of separately harnessed sounds combining together for a ripened exploration of lyrical and instrumental depth, representing more than enough to satiate the lengthy wait for new material from patient fans.

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