Concert review: Natalie Prass in Copenhagen // From Sass to Prass

Archive, Folk, Jazz, News, Pop, Singer/Songwriter

August 19, 2015

Natalie Prass was on tour with Ryan Adams as his opening act earlier this year. Unfortunately, an airline strike from SAS prevented her from joining him in Copenhagen, but this did not stop Ryan from giving the audience the experience of her music. He came out on stage in a dress and tights, and became his own opening act and alter ego: Natalie Sass.

Five months later, Natalie and her band finally took the stage at Vega. They opened the ball with ‘Your Fool’ followed by ‘Never Over You’. As a live music fan, you worry about whether or not the artist can take their studio recordings and execute them live on stage. However, with her reputation as a live act that has been spreading like wildfire, it was never anyone’s worry. The strings and horns that heavily shaped her album was not present on stage. With two guitars, a bass and a drum set, she turned the delicate timeless songs into a groovy rock show. Next on the agenda was the old song ‘Sand Dunes’, which started to loosen up a crowd who possibly had expected a quiet evening with no dancing. The tempo was taken down a notch by the melancholic ‘Christy’.

There are no compromises with Natalie. The tenderness she emits does not exclude the muscle and control in her performance and proves you do not have to leave behind the brittleness in exchange for strength. With a fast and upbeat cover of ‘Sound of Silence’ she explained “they only rehearsed it once at soundcheck”, we were invited into their band practice with animated energy and smiles all around.

She continued her journey in mesmerizing the crowd with her single ‘Birds of Prey’ and another intimate cover of Janet Jackson’s ‘Any Time Any Place’. She mentioned the Ryan Adams in drag episode and played her own version of ‘Winding Wheel’, with great appreciation from the audience.

From the rollercoaster ride of a new song called ‘Jass’ (“it’s spelled with the z’s backwards”), which left quite a few people puzzled in terms of what genre that song fell in under, the song ‘Violently’ well, violently pulled at our heartstrings, and the theme continued on through ‘My Baby Don’t Understand Me’.

An unexpected highlight was the spoken word ‘Reprise’ that reached deep. The women beside me whispered to her significant other, “Oh my God, do you have tears in your eyes?” which speaks for itself. Whatever comes out of Natalie’s mouth, she means it, and there are no irony or excuses, which is in contrast to her laidback and chatty atmosphere in between the songs.

Natalie Prass is a mysteriously, tall, dark elf queen from something out of Lord Of The Rings, who with a smile and a riff sweeps in and pulls the rug from under your feet — which of course, you do not even realise until she points at the floor. She has got a touch of the old soulful days with a timeless honesty, and with a final encore of a powerful rendition of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ the audience didn’t even look down once.

The opening act was the local band The Orange Grove, who most of all sounded like they would fit right in cruising down Malibu beach to Trestles in the 70s California, with a couple of early Al Merrick-surfboards tied to the roof of a van. Unashamed inspired by the likes of Grateful Dead, they won the crowd over song by song. The band in the current constellation has only been together for a little over a year, but there was undoubtedly much experience between them displayed in their performance. They released their debut album Stare Into The sun earlier this year, you can watch the video to ‘California Night’ here.

Your Fool
Never Over You
Sand Dunes
Sound Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Bird of Prey
Any time Any Place (Janet Jackson Cover)
Winding Wheel (Ryan Adams cover)
My Baby Don’t Understand Me
Why Don’t You Believe In Me

You Keep Me Hangin’ On (The Supremes cover)

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Concert Review: Frank Turner at The Hippodrome, Kingston

Archive, Editors Choice, Events, Folk, Rock

August 18, 2015

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or yet to experience him, you may well have heard of Frank Turner’s incredible prowess as a live performer. It’s not rare to hear musicians described by their fans as “even better live”, but in Frank’s case it really is true. His recorded tracks are already excellent, but they’re brought to a new, explosive life when Frank, often backed by his band The Sleeping Souls, as he was at The Hippodrome, break out their matching white shirts and black jeans and hit the stage.

This performance was a particularly special one for Frank and co., as they played past midnight into 7th August to ring in the release of their latest album, Positive Songs For Negative People, in perfect style. After some excellent support from “lyrical genius” Chas Palmer-Williams and Americana/folk-punk acoustic singer songwriter PJ Bond, Frank and the band burst onto the stage of the intimate venue with “Get Better”, the meteoric first track released from the new album, which got the highly-anticipating crowd fully pumped from the first chords.

The gig was, of course, a celebration of the new album release, and so the set list was full to the brim with almost every track from the new release. However it wouldn’t be a Frank Turner gig without a few classic favourites, and that’s exactly what came next in the form of the hopeful, patriotic “If I Ever Stray” and “Long Live The Queen”, a grief-ridden but beautifully spirited lament to a deceased friend. Beloved classics – all of which were from Frank’s collection upbeat, anthemic offerings, in keeping with the celebratory tone of the evening – often came sandwiched between new tracks (each and every one of which was as brilliantly written, gloriously performed and gratefully received as the next); after newbies “Demons” and “Josephine” came “Peggy Sang The Blues”, followed by fast-favourite “Glorious You” and top-tappingly rosy “Love Forty Down”.

Perhaps one of the best-received highlights of the night was “The Ballad of Me and My Friends”, a constantly firm fan favourite from Frank’s first album, Sleep Is for the Week, that he’s only recently started to perform again – to everyone’s joy – after several years of leaving it out of his set lists. And, of course, a night in a Frank Turner audience would never have been complete without “Glory Hallelujah”, the perfect singalong track “The Road” and the illustriously raucous anthem “I Still Believe”, of course featuring the tradition of the crowd sitting on the ground a leaping up into a dancing frenzy on drummer Nigel‘s cue. Accompanying these to close the show were “Mittens”, the latest, already hugely popular track to be released from the new album, and “The Next Storm”, a powerful song of hope and anticipation.

An encore quickly came, of course, opened with new track “The Angel Islington” and followed by three hugely popular older numbers; the slightly calmer “The Way I Tend To Be”, the fail-safe dance-inducing “Try This At Home” and the stridently vitriolic and effortlessly fun “Four Simple Words” to close the show on the ultimate high note.

This being the fourth of five Frank gigs I’ve attended, this show had an atmosphere like no other; Frank ran on pure happiness, joyful anticipation and adrenaline as the new album he was clearly (and deservedly) so proud of was released to the world, and the crowd were raised to ceiling vicariously through his elation. Every live performance by Frank is pure glory, but there was something so wondrously unique about this night in Kingston that made it one of the best gigs we, as Frank Turner fans, have ever witnessed.

Article by Amie Bailey

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Album Review: Jason Isbell // Something More Than Free

Archive, Country, Editors Choice, Folk, Singer/Songwriter

July 26, 2015

Jason Isbell hails from the state of Alabama. With the drawl when he sings, and the dusty, slow, southern atmosphere that fills his music, that is a secret to no man. Something More Than free follows up on the enormously well received 2013 album Southeastern. With producer Dave Cobb on board yet again in his studio in Nashville, it is hard to imagine him not spitting out another great record with those blueprints.

From the single light in the darkness-approach, and the splinter of hope for better times we saw on the previous record, Isbell seem to have found humbleness and embraced contentment and appreciation of what he has. Singing about family, the earnest hard work, and the small but imperative things in life, Jason has decided to press the saturate button on this album. There are a far bolder expressions and an added playfulness to his words.

With ‘If It Takes A Lifetime’ opening the album, a humble vocal declares that hard work gets you better, and while not being at complete peace with everything you have there is a satisfaction, and with the backstory of Jason’s sobriety this speaks volume. Halfway through the album we meet ‘Children of Children’ that has an early Neil Young feel to it. The hypnotic strings and guitar solo that seem to continue forever enchants you.

In this song he reflects on his influence on his mother and the prospect of ‘what ifs’ to her life. “I was riding on my mother’s hip / she was shorter than the corn / all the years I took from her / just by being born.” The heartbreaking statement leaves you wondering how much soul-searching heartbreak has cost Jason himself, but it is where he shines the brightest. He paints atmosphere, surroundings and emotion in very few phrases with no misses, which continues through and through.

The bluesy song about the Civil War, ‘Palmetto Rose’ is where he contemplates the history of his country with conflicting attitudes but ultimately states, “I follow my own free will.” In the other end of the spectrum, there is the classic acoustic song ‘Speed Trap Town’ that tells the tale of a defect father figure and finding the means to leave a small town.  “She said, ‘It’s none of my business but it breaks my heart’/ dropped a dozen cheap roses in my shopping cart / made it out to the truck without breaking down / everybody knows you in a speed trap town.” Jason Isbell’s blueprints turned into a well-crafted 5th studio album that most of all shows personal growth from the man himself and his willingness to share those stories with no filter.

Article by Flipse Flebo

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Concert Review: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

Editors Choice, Events, Folk, Singer/Songwriter

July 19, 2015

This week I had the amazing opportunity to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (ESMZ) live. I had high expectations for this concert since the day I bought the tickets but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the marvellous show that the Magnetic Zeros gave me that night.

To start, the crowd was like nothing I had ever witnessed. The sheer diversity of the people in the hall alone was a sight in itself and the atmosphere was something from another world. There were people of all ages and walks of life, from kids I went to high school with, the girl that works in the LUSH at the mall and even the grade 8 teacher from my elementary school were all there waiting for the vision that was the concert to begin. During what seemed like a years worth of waiting, people talked with one another, others were singing together, everywhere you looked every single person around me was happy to be in the company of each other and soon the company of a band they all love.

After the aforementioned wait was finally over, the lights went dim, the volume went up and the fever dream began. Lead singer Alex Ebert danced onto the stage, clad in his trademark white linen jacket and messy top-knot ready to bring the house down, and that he did. Lights began to flash on the bands back drop and a psychedelic video show began to play in rhythm with the music and it was time to begin.

The massive group brought a show I could have only imagined was real if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. I thought I knew what I was getting into considering I had seen close to every live concert video they have ever been posted online and probably account for a third of the views on their NPR Tiny Desk Concert video by myself. But I was wrong, I knew nothing.

The tiny stage of the London Music Hall was jam-packed with people and instruments galore. There were two full drum sets, two pianos, and abundance of guitars, trombones, trumpets and what seemed like everything in-between. It was hard to concentrate for the first few minuets between the lights, the people and the total awe of the fact that this day had finally come, but as I started to come back down to Earth my eyes were glued on Alex and it was hard to drag them away. He danced and sang with amazing stamina and the rest of he band followed his lead in a sync that was both fluid and robotic at the same time.

The singing, playing and dancing wasn’t where it ended either. On more than one occasion Alex jumped into the crowd, dancing and handing the mic off to fans to sing and tell stories with him. At another point he reached into the crowed for a girl’s cellphone (who coincidently was named Emily as well, but sadly was not me) which was recording and he sang and spoke to create a video for her before handing it back to her. He dragged people on stage held hands with close to everyone in the first three rows and even had fans pick the set-list at different points in the show. Somewhere in the middle of the show as well the music just stopped, not for an intermission, but to grab joints from fans in the crowed to take a quick puff and pass, and the sold out show roared the a freight train.

With all of this interaction within the crowd you think that people would become aggressive as most people do in a mosh pit concert situation, but it didn’t. In all the concerts I have attended at the Music Hall this is the only one where no one pushed, no one shoved and everyone seemed generally happy to just be there with this band. It was all good vibes and through the concert it seemed they only got stronger.

As the set started to come to a close the band took a pause, gave each other small nods and then Alex proceeded to sit on one of the stage speakers as the lights dimmed. Everyone in the building seemed to know what was coming and as the band stood silent Alex slowly belted out “ALABAMA” and the crowed responded “ARKANSAS” Alex then responded to his patrons “I DO LOVE MY..” and again the crowd responded “I DO LOVE MY MA AND PA”, then the band started the tempo picked up and it was like a religious awakening has started.

As the bands most popular song ‘Home’ bled trough every wall and bounced off of every surface in the hall, it was like the Magnetic Zeros had truly brought me home. They reminded me why I love them and why I love music; especially live music as much as I do. I looked around the at what was no longer a crowd but a congregation, staring and stinging along with Alex who had become their preacher and I was truly home. As I’m sure everyone in that building was too. Sadly the concert ended one song later and for a few days afterwards I had what felt like a small hole in my soul because I had to go back to real life.

But in the words of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros themselves, “Holy-Moly-Me-Oh-My” what a show, what a night, it was worth the wait and a great big thank you for reminding me why this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Article by Emily D’Orazio

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Album Review: Sheppard // Bombs Away

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Folk, News, Pop

July 8, 2015

Originating from Brisbane, Sheppard is an Australian family business in every sense of the word. Starting out with the founding members George and Amy Sheppard who had their parents manage the band and finance their own record label. Sheppard has grown into six members including their sister Amy on bass, Jason Bovino and Michael Butler on guitars, and percussionist Dean Gordon. Their debut album Bombs Away, a title from their hit-single ‘Geronimo’, follows up on 2012’s self-titled and independently released EP, which harvested enough attention from festivals in South Africa, London and the USA.

While the album is bursting with friendly, approachable chord progression like the single ‘Geronimo’, a song that goes well for a road trip in the dirty heat of the summer, Sheppard describes themselves as indie pop. They do however dip into a few genres along the way, but it is the harmonies of George and Amy, which binds the album together nicely.

‘Let Me Down Easy’ is a laidback sing-along tune with a big choir that continues on ‘These People’ which has got the beat, the drums and the handclaps down to perfection – sometimes a little too perfect. A looser hand from producer Stuart Stuart (Analog Heart Records) would have let songs like ‘These People’ and ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ shine more, instead the laidback and positive vibe ends up feeling slightly tense and gets lost somewhere in the firm hand of the producer.

With Indie bands there are the usual expectations for them to write about the difficult twenties, bittersweet love and entangled friendships, so when you hear the pop song ‘Grade A Player’ it seems a bit off or at least unexpected. Wrapped in cotton-candy piano tunes with synth thrown into the mix, Amy sings, “Cause you’re a grade playa a fighter a hater / and I know better than to waste it all on you.”

On the closing song ‘Halfway To Hell’, you hear Amy stretch her vocal chords, and it serves her justice, just as George manages to do on ‘Find Someone’. As previous stated, George and Amy makes Sheppard stand out from other indie-pop bands. There is a far more straight-to-the-point influence in Sheppard and you can easily put the family business aspect of it to blame, unlike other due vocal bands like Of monsters And Men.

I would put Sheppard into the pop band category but with an attitude and artistry of an indie-band. The album cover of Bombs Away references the first American to go to space, Alan Shepard. The Australian family business has definitely aimed for the moon with a few misses, but as every hardworking artist knows, that is the only way to improve. Sheppard is going places.

Article by Flipse Flebo

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Robbie Boyd set to perform with Katey Brooks this evening

Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Events, Events, Featured News, Folk, TEAfilms Live Sessions

June 28, 2015

published-via-LS-finalRobbie Boyd, long time Live Sessions artist and 2015 hotly tipped Singer-songwriter will be performing this evening in Central London – at the Old Queen’s Head in Islington. In his Instagram post earlier today he announced that he’ll be duetting with Katey Brooks before going on to play lots of his own brand new material.

If you haven’t heard Robbie’s brand new 2015 album ‘So Called Man’, have a listen below! And make sure you pop along to his gig this evening – it’s free entry!

Article by MusicDash

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The Paper Kites Return With ‘Electric Indigo’ to Announce Sophomore Album

Archive, Editors Choice, Folk, News, Pop, Videos

June 27, 2015

Australian indie-folk rockers The Paper Kites are revving up for their sophomore album ‘Twelvefour’ with the release of their sizzling single ‘Electric Indigo’.

The band’s debut album ‘States’ was released back in 2013 and was a success with the band selling out multiple shows on their 17-date headline tour of the US and Canada. This marked their first international headline tour.

A photo I took of the band last summer performing at Ottawa Bluesfest. (I was front row and they were incredible live!)

‘Electric Indigo’ leans slightly away from the band’s ethereal indie-folk aesthetic, and infuses psychedelic rock melodies. It branches off in a slightly different direction of older songs like ‘Bloom’ and ‘A Maker of My Time‘, while toeing the line between retro synth-pop and a blend of rock/folk. Frontman Sam Bentley and keyboardist Christina Lacy re-evoke their signature harmonies with ease, making for a serene listen.

The single is available for a free download, with the pre-order of ‘Twelvefour’, and the upcoming music video will star Laura Brent and Charles Grounds.

‘Twelvefour’ is a concept album,“based around a theory that an artist’s creative peak is between the hours of midnight and 4am,” Bentley has explained. 

The band worked with Grammy-nominated producer Phil Ek (who’s credits include artists such as Father John Misty, Manchester Orchestra, Fleet Foxes, and The Shins) to record the album, which is due for release in August. 

To accompany ‘Twelvefour’, a documentary directed by filmmaker Matthew J. Cox follows the band as they create the album. It will showcase a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the reality of putting together a record.

Watch the trailer below!

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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Our Exclusive Interview with Raphael Luther

Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Folk, Singer/Songwriter

June 25, 2015

Music Dash ExclusiveRecently, I had the chance to interview Singer-Songwriter Raphael Luther about his EP ‘Us and Them‘. It consists of four songs including the track ‘Us and Them‘ which is accompanied by a beautiful music video – available on Youtube.

Check out the interview below!

What or who was your main inspiration to create this EP?

When you spend somoHoVykxUe time in a big city like London, especially as a young artist, you don’t have other choices than doing something to occupy your mind as the dynamism and energy of the city doesn’t really give you any break. Some people find busy jobs, some simply watch TV, for me the only way I found to occupy myself with satisfaction is by playing the guitar and writing tunes. There’s something very rewarding in the creative process that nothing else can give you: a true sense of achievement and “letting things out”. What inspired me for this EP was the process of discovering myself as a young adult and the battles that it takes (past, love, life) and some other things that came to me while I was trying to figure it all out (spirituality, traveling, letting things go). Also, the english weather did influence the mood of this EP.

What is your favorite song off this EP?

I think “Us and Them” is the most unusual and orignial song of this EP and that’s probably why it’s my favorite. The track “Your turn” is also very special one for me, co-written with a very special person. Actually it’s hard to tell between the two.

How would you describe this EP?

This EP is completely homemade (recorded in two different bedrooms across London). So it didn’t have any professional producers involved. I’d say it’s an exploration of what I’m capable to create as I’m still crafting my sound. Concerning the production, I wanted to try something half electronic / half organic mainly because my influences are from both areas (John Mayer, James Blake, Ben Howard). Electronic mainly through the drum beats and organic with the sweetness and folkiness of the acoustic guitar. I’d describe it as a crossover between Atmospheric / Folk and electronic music.

Are there certain moments where you get really inspired to write songs?

Inspiration and creativity are such weird and unpredictable things. I think it’s a matter of being 100% connected to what you feel at the moment. Then, at some point, you’ll feel when the cup is full with an urgent need to pour things out on a piece of paper. At least that’s how it works for me. As I said before it’s totally unpredictable. And that’s what excites me about creativity, there are no boring routines.

Do you play any other instruments besides the guitar?

I actually learned how to play the piano before the guitar when I was very young, around 8. I still write and perform with a keyboard sometimes. Both instruments complement each other so well. I play a little bit of bass and drums as well, when I’m bored.

What other instruments would you like to play?

I’d love to be able to play the citar. It’s an instrument that always fascinated me but I never understood how it worked. It’s completely different from all other music tool I tried.

I understand that you are doing small gigs now. Would you rather play in small venues or larger venues? Why?

I play small venues because I don’t have any other options at the moment. Without management it’s hard to knock the door of bigger places because they wouldn’t take you seriously. That’s the reason why I’m seeking management at the moment and then hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to play bigger gigs in the future. This is one of my dream actually.

What is your favorite song11119524_510422285771489_993387991658010771_o to perform live?

I love performing “Us and Them” because it instantly places the room in a weird mood and it feels like the crowd doesn’t really understand this music but still feel it…  I love this kind of situtations! I always want to surprise the listener live, no matter what.

 Are there any new music or upcoming shows that your listeners can expect?

We just filmed two live videos with a full band in the studio. This should be released in July 2015 on Youtube. I’m planning to record a new EP for 2016 but I want to work with a producer this time. So if there’s any talented producer reading this interview, please do get in touch! Concerning the shows, I play at the Bedroom bar on the 7th July, the Lucky Pig on the 14th July and the awesome Finsbury on the 20th July opening for my good friend U.R.I. All the gigs are taking place in London.

What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the years to come?

I want to travel and play my music as much as I can. I know it sounds cliché but after spending four years in the madness that is London, it feels like I need to open my perspectives and get some new inspirations from other places because, at the moment, I’m running out of ideas. I’m actually planning to go to South Africa in 2016 to travel and tour the country for about three months with just a guitar and a van. Concerning the professional career, I hope to collaborate with as much musicians as I can because music is all about sharing experiences and knowledge with each other in order to grow a little bit more everyday as an artist and a person. Hopefully falling in love too.

Article by Cristal Faith Lim

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EP Review: Josh Newell-Brown // Inner Treasures

Archive, Folk, News, Pop, Singer/Songwriter

June 20, 2015

Folk-pop singer-songwriter Josh Newell-Brown originates from the coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-sea. It is hard not to taste the saltiness on his debut EP Inner Treasures, which he has written and recorded himself. He is described as the Chuck Norris of vocals which is not at all wrong. Josh has a powerful voice that with no trouble at all could uphold an acoustic performance with no mike.

‘Shine’ is a folky energetic song with a great big chorus that easily makes you want to sing along. These days it seems as if Ben Howard is the go-to artist to mention, if you want to describe anything radio minded folk-pop, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, since Josh definitely falls under that category. ‘Move Your Body’ has a soulful touch while the choirs on the title track ‘Inner Treasures’ gives me an instant flashback to careless, mild summer nights with bonfires and nature. The beautiful ‘The New Zealand One’ makes me want to get into a car and drive towards the sunset and ‘Doesn’t Matter Who You are’ is for when the stars come out to dance and the bonfire has long since burned out.

‘Inner Treasures’ is a solid debut, and with just the five songs you can already tell Josh has a big heart and a lot to say, he’s capable of engaging the listener with ease, and it doesn’t hurt that all the proceeds of the EP go to the Dreams Come True charity.

Article by Flipse Flebo

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Single Review: The Strypes // Get Into It

Archive, Country, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Folk

June 19, 2015

The new single by the youthful blues boys, The Strypes, has the band mooning over a domineering woman … certainly a change from the innocence of their debut album Snapshot in which frontman Josh McClorey sings about ‘Blue Collar Jane’ who “just wants some milk and sugar”. Instead, ‘Get Into It’ is a far more mature sound from the Cavan Quartet.

Peter O’Hanlon’s throbbing bass line plays over some risqué guitar creating super desirous rhythms to accompany the sexed-up lyrics of a band only in the early stages of their crazily bright future. But don’t be too wary of the young lads old sound, their new music still has the trademark lengthy harmonica solo that completes their unique style.

The bands are on the line up for some of this 2015’s very best festivals including T in The Park and Y Not Festival. The bands new EP ‘Flat Out’ was released on June 1st in the run up to the release of their second album hitting the shops in early July 2015.

Article by Katie Watson

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