One of the greatest uptown-soul acts of the 80s is back on the road. Placing themselves at the classier end of the disco spectrum, these New Yorkers effortlessly swing between up front funkiness and blissed-out grooves. Perfectly capturing the vibrant atmosphere of their hometown, the band’s breakthrough single Native New Yorker became one of disco’s most enduring tracks and a floor-filler at the legendary Studio 54. Following that, they built up a strong UK following with singles like Use It Up And Wear It Out, Going Back To My Roots and Inside Out. This band’s contribution to dance music cannot be overstated. Four decades on, their journey continues.
Formed in early 2010, this meditative and explorative Scottish quartet are space cadets of the highest order. This year’s album Rainbowhead offered a master-class in psychedelic experimentation. Their sound is a throbbing vortex of odd noises and drones, the occasional melody surging into the blissed-out chaos. Unafraid to contrast 20-minute long swirling kaleidoscopic sounds, they’re euphorically rewriting the rules for the British psych scene. It’s a hypnotic morass of shamanic weirdness, loaded with effect-laden guitar work and throbbing basslines. Where we are being taken is unclear, but the journey will be packed full of colour.
Formed during 1980 in California, Adolescents are for all intents and purposes a SoCal punk super-group. Originally featuring early members of Agent Orange and Social Distortion, they’ve undergone a series of breakups, reunions, and line-up changes. Their first break up came in 1981, the same year their self-titled debut LP was released. Packed with raucous energy and quintessential teenage angst, they had an instant connection with a legion of disaffected Californian kids. While the majority of their limited discography was recorded during their first reunion, they still created the blueprint for West-Coast hardcore punk. Now the band’s line-up seems relatively stable, after reforming to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album. But you never know with these punk types…
At the tender age of 14, Annabella Lwin was one of the most photographed, talked about and popular vocalists in the early 80s. Along with her band, Bow Wow Wow, she enjoyed success with massive hits like I Want Candy, Do U Wanna Hold Me?, Go Wild in the Country and C30, C60, C90, Go. Once again performing shows on both sides of the Atlantic, Lwin has also been expanding and employing her talents as a songwriter in commercial, as well as spiritual, directions. She’s worked behind the scenes for global charities like UNICEF and Save the Children Fund, through Buddhist organisation SGI. Her spirituality continues to enhance the celebration of life in her music.
The vehicle for Matt Howden’s mesmeric mix of live loops, searing violin and passionate songs, Sieben is anarchic, singular and thoroughly brilliant. Building percussion layers from odd little noises, then adding repetitive elements and poetic lyrics, his songs quickly take on a sense of the epic. Imagine Nick Cave and Velvet Underground jamming in a downtown Berlin nightclub. That’s a close approximation of this experimental, hypnotic and completely compelling sound. Whilst his composition’s rhythmic beauty is virtually unknown in this country, across Europe he’s becoming increasingly popular. His recordings only tell half the story though. It’s in the live environment where his music truly gets to soar.
Taking blues and folk to the most haunting extremes, Charlie Parr is something of an enigma. There’s a distinctly retro edge to this Minnesota resident’s music. It’s driving, impatient and doom-laden. Although certainly a product of this century, this is a breath-taking and authentic taste of what the blues really are. It all might be a little bewildering to aficionados more obsessed with electric guitars or decipherable lyrics, but you can’t deny the authenticity of his majestic body of work. His world conjures steam-powered visions of long evenings on the front porch; roadhouse shows and being wronged by loved ones. So get ready for a visit to the dark-side with Mr Parr, because he’s going to burn this whole town down.
Two decades after they split, this legendary Connecticut outfit has reunited to celebrate the run up to the 20th anniversary of their final studio album, Portrait of a Damaged Family. With some melodic, beautiful and poignant songwriting, they became US radio darlings during the pre-grunge 90s. Although generally overlooked by the annals of music history, their influence has been felt throughout modern rock. An ever-shifting personnel situation and terrible luck with record companies both did their bit in shattering the ambitions of this country-tinged four-piece. But now they’re back, with some reissues on the horizon and a will to shine once more. Perhaps this reinvigorated band will find a new chapter starting in their story. Lord knows they deserve it.
Growing up in rural Louisiana and Missouri, preacher’s daughter Barwick developed a fascination for the human voice. Now Brooklyn-based, her studio recordings are patchworks of ethereal and largely wordless soundscapes. Using multiple loops and layers of her angelic voice, she creates a range of emotionally complex and experimental works. The technique might be simple, but the power and beauty of her music almost has the ability to make time stand still. Strings drone, pads soar and her vocals drift in an dout, as each crescendo builds with an eerie sense of longing. Her unique lush production brings a sense of blissful drama to what is essentially modest. Never tied to a specific point in space or time, she is ambient music’s face for the 21st Century.
One of the most acclaimed disco, soul and funk groups to have ever emerged from America, The Fatback Band remain hugely influential. This groovy New York City ensemble have released more than 35 albums and produced countless hits. Their early single King Tim III (Personality Jock) is widely regarded as one of the first-ever commercial rap singles, whilst cuts like (Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop are believed to have played a part in the furthering of line dancing. As disco pioneers, their numerous dance floor smashes merge New Orleans jazz beats with a touch of Caribbean style. Propelled by a watertight rhythm section, group vocals, pounding horns, scratchy guitars and squelchy synth lines, they create the ultimate good-time groove. So you better get ready for their raw street funk sound…
Filled with hits like Ain’t No Pleasing You, Gertcha, Rabbit and Snooker Loopy, this duo’s list of crowd-pleasers is near endless. Britain’s best proponents of pub singalongs, music-hall humour, boogie-woogie piano and good, honest rock ‘n’ roll are heading our way for a Bank Holiday knees up! They’ve now celebrated their 50th anniversary by recording their first original album in 27 years. A rousing mixture of vintage rock songs and new renditions of their own ‘rockney’ classics, it features special guest appearances from Jools Holland, Buddy Holly’s drummer Jerry Allison and Hugh Laurie. Performing wonderfully witty songs about life in London, all written with a strong affection for everything British, the pair is reminiscent of many of the great music-hall artists.
Combining great stage presence with an energetic and dynamic flair, this quartet is one of the leading names in French- Canadian folk music. Faithful to their roots, they’re also uncompromising in their desire to push their scene forward. A glorious mix of fiddle and foot-tapping guitar, accordion, piano, bass, hurdy-gurdy and four-part harmonies, they bring catchy songs and tunes from the Québec traditional folk repertoire along with a few original compositions. Considered a driving force in progressive folk, they capture the energy and mirth of a Saturday night kitchen party, infusing the old world with a breath of fresh, cosmopolitan air. Pulsating and infectious rhythms will be driving Shoreham wild tonight.
Watford’s finest and most independent rock four-piece is heading to Brighton. Trading in powerful songs packed with social commentary, they’ve gathered a dedicated following and sold out shows across the UK and abroad. Following the critically acclaimed debut Response, which hit number six in both the independent and vinyl charts, the band release their new offering A Thousand Times this month. They’re even sharper and more ambitious now, offering a selection of anthemic choruses and soaring melodies to fall in love with. Passionate, young and exciting, British guitar music would be in a lot better shape if left in the hands of these four individuals.