Friday, 27 March 2015

Hanna's Marines - Be Bolder, single review

It is with a sense of social pride that I will always stand by and support local artists, but when you've seen an undeniable talent blossom over the years and can still be staggered by the depth of their music then you've got to put that down to more than just rooting for the home team.

Such is the case of Hanna Mehmet, front-woman of Hanna's Marines, on the campaign trail to push their new single Be Bolder she drops me a line to see if I'd give it a little push, and why wouldn't I?

But I wasn't prepared to be stopped in my paces by it. I stick it on to give it a listen and see if I can form a few opinions on it, and when Hanna begins singing the track suddenly takes on an intensely intimate quality, the song itself earnestly implores for commitment, for a show of strength, the strong vocal display juxtaposed perfectly against the fragility of the emotion, all of which is echoed through the slow-burning, epic qualities of the music that swells and beats a yearning pulse, truly coming to life to soundtrack the ache of wounded hearts.

It is a gut-wrenching three minutes, delivering voyeuristic chills up my spine with each insatiable listen.

I listened to it through a sense of social duty.

But I love it and continue to listen to it with the most well deserved sense of social pride.


Be Bolder is available now via Bandcamp and Soundcloud

Monday, 23 March 2015

Live review: Mike Joyce presents... featuring Flo and Emily Capell @ Proud Camden

It is a strange crowd that Camden attracts these days.

In fact, the strangest thing about this crowd is that they don't seem so strange at all... the musical tribes that were once disparate now mingle, and the spotting of Indie Cindys that were commonplace are now much rarer due to the migration of Leicester Square partygoers.

Much like these observations on the streets, the line-up at Proud for it's Friday night blow-out is just as diverse. I first stick my head into the main room to catch something loud, grungy and uninspiring and instead choose to resume people watching below the warmth of the outdoor heaters on the terrace bar where lads and ladies neck beers, tourists order pizza and the entertainment is provided by an acoustic performer running through Ed Sheeran's back catalogue.

An hour or so later I head back inside as one of the few bands influenced by Jet's antipodean retro-rock wind up their set and Emily Capell picks up the baton with a bluesy spin on rockabilly which mixes up Amy Winehouse with Paloma Faith, delivering truth inflected foot-tappers that finally gets the room into full swing.

As the live selections draw to a close, Flo steps up to the stage, a UK hip-hop and soul songstress that leans on laid back beats with echoes of Erykah Badu, she traverses the stage with grace as her vocals lift and fill the room, between just herself and a turntablist she easily holds her own with an onstage personality that flits from humbled and shy to sultry and completely in control at the drop of a beat.

And with the live acts clear of the stage at not far off midnight the beats do drop, with 90s hip-hop classics amassing great reactions on the dancefloor I cut the rug for a while before filing out into the night to beat the streets of Camden's cultural melting pot once again.


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Has Noel Gallagher beaten 'the Oasis effect'?

I tend to call it 'the oasis effect', but in truth in can quite as easily be levelled at any other artist that you know and love, or perhaps had loved more than you do right now. The type of band that you have developed a loyal devotion to over time.

You know the scenario, the hype and build-up falls away as the album release date arrives and you are left with the blistering reality of the new album in whatever form takes your fancy.

For me, my interest in Oasis peaked with the critically derided Be Here Now and held steady for Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, and for all other post-millennial releases I would witness the same behavioural pattern in my listening.

The new album gets a few spins, I've never hated it, but something in it reminds me of the former album, and so a reverse chronological dive head first into the back catalogue begins, with more time spent reliving former glories than getting to know the latest release, at least not until it takes it's eventual turn in the musical cycle.

With the fracturing of Oasis into two factions this process developed to include a little contrast and questions of what could have been, but noticeably Chasing Yesterday has yet to relieve its current residency in my stereo.

Has Noel Gallagher finally upheld 'the Oasis effect'? Sure, opener Riverman distinctly reminds me of Broken Arrow from the eponymous debut and occasional Beatles homages rear their heads, but despite these I've still found myself gravitating back to the album for repeat listens, often as soon as the last chords of The Ballad of the Mighty I ring out.

My main qualms with his previous effort was an over-reliance on what seemed like children's choirs to bolster and lift his arrangements, everything felt too anthemic, as if Noel had set about making a full programme of Oasis album closers. This time the album is structured perfectly, ticking all the boxes in terms of form, musicality and running time.

This feels like Noel Gallagher, comfortable in his own skin as the sole focus and ready to make a Noel Gallagher album, and it doesn't look like Beady Eye or Oasis will be gracing my ears for a good while yet.