GIG – The Lounge Kittens at The Wedgewood Rooms – Thursday 27th April 2017

lounge kittensTuneful, cheeky, glamorous and geeky. They perform unlikely covers in a more unlikely style.

Between the three of them their musical tastes span the genres of Rock, Jazz, Punk, Psychobilly, Ragga, Hip Hop, Ska, Pop, Soul, Metal, Dance, House, Grunge…actually pretty much all genres. There is literally no one they wouldn’t cover and their 2015 release ‘Just The Tip…’ featuring covers of everything from Slipknot to Sean Paul proves just that.

Shooting to fame in 2014 with their viral internet video for their cover of ‘Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit, the Kittens then knocked audiences for six at Glastonbury and Sonisphere festivals (among others) and were even invited to open Limp Bizkit’s set on the main stage at Sonisphere! In 2015 they took off on a UK and European arena tour with the bad boys of heavy metal Steel Panther and then rampaged through Download Festival, Graspop, Boardmasters and returned to Glastonbury for the second year in a row.

From YouTube to Wembley in one nimble leap they keep surprising audiences with their tongue-in-cheek covers, acerbic wit and ability to swear in three part harmony, proving that they can hold the attention of the heaviest of metal fans armed with just a keyboard and their voices. 2016 saw them release their first full length album ‘Sequins & C-Bombs’, head out on a UK headline tour and open for Status Quo’s ‘Last Night of the Electrics’ Tour.

From venue website

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GIG – Declan McKenna at The Wedgewood Rooms -Wednesday 22nd March 2017

declan-mckennaDeclan Benedict McKenna (born 24 December 1998) is an English singer, songwriter, and musician best known for winning the Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015. McKenna’s first single, the self-released “Brazil”, reached number one on Sirius XM Radio’s Alt Nation Alt 18 Countdown for 23 January 2016, and stayed there for three weeks. The song reached number 16 on the Alternative Songs chart.

McKenna writes his own songs and usually performs all his own instruments.

BBC News called “Brazil” an extraordinarily mature song for a 16-year-old songwriter.

Matt Wilkinson at NME called it “one of the best songs” of 2015, and had high praise for McKenna’s second single, “Paracetamol”, as well. Jon Lyons of ThisNewBand.com called “Brazil” “a catchy song no doubt”, and also noted that it was “a sharp critique on sports, money and power.”

Some music critics have tempered their praise of McKenna. Critic Matt Wilkinson called McKenna’s London gigs surprisingly good, if “rough around the edges”. Jon Lyons has observed that as of November 2015, McKenna’s songs seemed to indicate an artist still experimenting with bands and styles of music which have influenced him. He felt McKenna was still “searching for his own sound right in front of the crowd. An artist is being born note by note.” Andy Welch, music critic for The Bristol Post, said McKenna was “one to watch” displaying “lots of early, ragged promise”.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

GIG – Benjamin Francis Leftwich at The Wedgewood Rooms -Wednesday 15th March 2017

benjamin-francis-leftwichBenjamin Francis Leftwich (born 4 September 1989) is an English singer-songwriter from York. Leftwich released his first album ‘Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm in 2011 which peaked at #35 on the UK charts. In February 2016 he announced his next album ‘After the Rain’ on his Facebook page, set to release on 19 August 2016.

Leftwich began playing at the age of ten and grew up listening to The Rolling Stones and Nina Simone; later discovering Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, and Elliott Smith. He cites Arcade Fire, Ryan Adams, and Bruce Springsteen as inspirations

Leftwich’s debut album, the Ian Grimble-produced Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm, was released in July 2011. The Fly called it “a majestic debut” The Skinny, while the Sunday Express called it “lovely”. Hazel Sheffield, writing in The Guardian, gave it a 3/5 rating, as did David Pollock, writing for The Scotsman, who drew comparisons to Damien Rice and José González. 

Leftwich’s “Shine” was named Spotify’s most addictive track of 2014, the most repeat-played song of the year. In 2015, Benjamin Francis Leftwich co-wrote “Grow” with British artist Frances which featured in the Amazon UK TV advert.

GIG – Jerry Williams at The Wedgewood Rooms -Saturday 4th March 2017

jerry-williamsJerry Williams is a 21-year-old Indie pop singer songwriter from Portsmouth who draws her inspiration from her life growing up and the lives of others around her. To date Jerry has released 3 EPS, the 3rd ‘LET’S JUST FORGET IT’ was the winner of Best Produced Release of 2016 at the Unsigned Music Awards. So far Jerry has racked up over 4 million streams on Spotify and has support from the likes of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, BBC Introducing locally and Nationally, KCRW, Amazing Radio and performed live sessions for BBC Introducing Solent and VEVO DSCVR. Online, press, and TV supporters include Wonderland Magazine, The Guardian, The 405, Clash, Fresh on the Net, Sunday Brunch, Made In Chelsea, MTV Scream and Drifters.

Jerry started writing music from the age of 12 whilst studying classical guitar in which she got to Grade 8 standard and played her first ever gig at 17 at the Eastney Cellars. Since then Jerry has supported sold out tours with Nathan Sykes, Vanessa Carlton, played at BST Hyde Park and played Various Stages at Victorious Festival. Jerry co-produces all her own material with long-time collaborator Dan Brown and has been lucky enough to work with Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Miles Kane, Nick Mulvey) Nick Atkinson (Gabrielle Aplin), Jim Duguid (Paulo Nutini) and Slow Club who are one of her biggest musical inspirations. Jerry is actively involved in every aspect of her career and self-releases her music through her own label, Sunglasses Records.

From The Wedgewood Rooms website 

GIG – Frightened Rabbit at The Wedgewood Rooms – Tuesday 6th December 2016

frightened_rabbitFor Scott Hutchison, the songwriting inspiration can come from anywhere.

From a Scottish sitcom about a larky soldier who’s served in Iraq. A break-up, his own usually – a recurring theme, it seems, judging by the incisive, compelling accounts of heartache sprinkled through Frightened Rabbit’s three previous albums, Sing The Greys (2006), The Midnight Organ Fight (2008) and The Winter Of Mixed Drinks (2010). A shit family Christmas that only got worse come Boxing Day. Or from a room-full of American fans mainlining a long-lost Celtic connection while also hoovering up a powerful British indie-rock band with a folk heart and a soulful love of their heritage. Frightened Rabbit are proudly Scottish, and adored on native soil, but their songs also seem to take on greater resonance and power the further from home they travel.

Ideas might have come on any one of the ten or so US tours undertaken by the band, each bigger, noisier, rowdier, more special than the last – there aren’t many British bands who can match Frightened Rabbit, formed by this thoughtful former art student nine years ago, for the level and intensity of their American success. Or they can come via a hero peer on the Scottish music scene, in this case onetime Arab Strap dipso-poet Aidan Moffat.

Or Hutchison will take inspiration from the shortcomings he himself sees in the songs he wrote for his band’s last album.

“With The Winter Of Mixed Drinks and what I tried to do there…” begins Frightened Rabbit’s founding member and singer, “…and the things about that I didn’t like that I wanted to make better this time… The last record was purposefully open and vague in its imagery. But I wanted to write dense poetic songs again. And that was a kick off into State Hospital.”

Welcome, then, to State Hospital, a rousing, narrative tune, full of intertwining, racing guitar lines, and pulsing round a central image – “her heart beats like a breeze-block, thrown down the stairs” – written by Hutchison from a female perspective.

It serves as the curtain-raiser to a few things. A five-track EP of the same name. Frightened Rabbit’s upcoming fourth album, Pedestrian Verse, due out next year. And to the band’s new relationship with Atlantic, a deal forged eight years after Selkirk native Hutchison started the band with his drummer brother, and after three albums made with respected indie Fat Cat.

“I feel very creatively liberated on Atlantic,” says Hutchison, a man who – with bandmates Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy (guitar, bass), Andy Monaghan (guitar) and Gordon Skene (guitar, keyboards) – has almost a decade’s experience building his band, cultivating a fan-base, improving their chops, and doing these the old-fashioned way: touring.

Earlier this year, the five-piece were ready to make their fourth album. But their producer of choice wasn’t available, and Hutchison was kicking his heels. And that, too, fed into a song. Home From War was partly catalysed by the original pilot for Gary Tank Commander, a Scottish comedy that has gone on to become a cult show north of the border.

“He’s a guy back from Iraq and he’s just bouncing about, he’s got nothing to do, doesn’t know what to do with his life any more. ’Cause he’s been structured and regimented for that amount of time. It’s really funny but I found it quite interesting and sad.”

Suitably inspired, and rather than sit on their hands, in February the band hired a house in Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands, trucking a load of instruments and studio gear up from Glasgow. The then spent three weeks writing and playing and recording and writing and playing some more.

Three songs were immediate keepers: Home From War, inspired by that aimless squaddie, a Pixies-meets-Coldplay giant that’s sure to become a live favourite; Off, an intimate, chorally atmospheric tune written in one quick afternoon; and Wedding Gloves, a yarn about a couple who try to rekindle love by putting digging out and putting on their matrimonial garb. It’s narrated by Moffat, to whom Hutchison entrusted the writing of the verses.

“He totally got what I wanted,” beams Hutchison, who finagled the ex-Arab Strap man’s involvement via drunken, late-night email. “He said to me, ‘right, you want me to be a sexual Yoda?’ I was like, ‘aye, if you like!’”

Come the month of May, and Frightened Rabbit’s producer was finally available. Leo Abrahams was Brian Eno’s assistant for 11 years. So on top of being a great guitar player, he’s a man well-versed in free-thinking. “He was definitely up for shaking things up, and he has plenty of soul and understanding” – all perfect qualities for the band’s new songs and fresh perspective.

A month in Monnow Valley studio in Wales did the job. The EP’s opening two songs, State Hospital and Boxing Day – the latter a mordant yet defiant account of that Yule hell – have been pulled from those sessions.

Only State Hospital will appear on Pedestrian Verse. Hutchison is understandably keeping the just-completed album under wraps for now. But he will say that State Hospital “informed the rest of the album”, and that the bulk of the other songs “have a different atmosphere” from the remaining new songs on the EP. “I don’t know how to describe it… I mean, we did consider them all for the album, but they just didn’t work. But I was really fond of what we got out of those three weeks of creative freedom.”

Next up: an “underplay” tour, in which Frightened Rabbit purposefully slip back down a few rungs on the gig circuit ladder, playing small UK and Irish venues they’ve long since outgrown. For this British band with a huge following across the Atlantic, it’ll be a challenge, but a wholly rewarding one.

It’s just how Hutchison likes to do things – stretching himself, pushing his skills and the band, taking nothing for granted and believing, always, that there’s everything to play for. Why else give an album the title Pedestrian Verse?

“I scribbled that on the front of my notebook on the first day of writing songs for the new album,” he recalls with a smile. “It was like throwing down the gauntlet to myself. Call your album Pedestrian Verse and you just leave yourself open to people going, och, that’s a bit boring… So,” he smiles, “I couldn’t write anything dull.”

With the glorious five-track State Hospital EP, it’s the emphatic start of a job well done.

 

From Band Website

 

GIG – Gavin James at The Wedgwood Rooms -Tuesday 4th October 2016

gavin jamesGavin James is an Irish singer-songwriter. In March 2013 and March 2016, he won the Choice Music Prize Irish Song of the Year award. In July 2015, it was announced he would be a supporting act for Kodaline, Tori Kelly, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran on their tours.

James released his debut album Bitter Pill on 20 November 2015 through Warner Ireland. It was awarded Platinum certificate for sales in Ireland. Subsequently Bitter Pill has won the Choice Music Prize for Best Single released in 2015.

In May and November 2015, James appeared on James Cordon’s Late Late Show  and Jimmy Kimmel in December 2015. In January 2016 James appeared on the BBC One Show, C’est A Vous and RTE and was included in Buzzfeed’s  and The Sun’s ‘Ones to Watch 2016’ lists.

In 2016 James performed at RTÉ’s Centenary Concert to mark the 100 year anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising.

Spotify have announced Gavin James to be a ‘Spotify Spotlight Artist of 2016′. On January 21 James set off on his debut European headline tour, starting with three sold out back-to-back dates at the Olympia Theatre in Ireland. James travelled back to America to support Ben Rector on his US tour in March 2016. James’ cover of David Bowie’s “Changes” relaunched the new Virgin Radio UK at 11am GMT on 30 March 2016, he later performed live and was interviewed for the show.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

GIG – Stomzy at Portsmouth Guildhall – Saturday 12th March 2016

stormzyMichael Omari (born 26 July 1993), better known by his stage name Stormzy, is an English rapper and MC. He won Best Grime Act at the 2014 MOBO Awards and was named as an artist to look out for in the BBC’s influential Sound of 2015 list.

After garnering attention on the UK underground music scene via his Wicked Skengman series of freestyles over classic grime beats, Stormzy released his debut EP Dreamers Diseaseindependently in July 2014. On 22 October, Stormzy won Best Grime Act at the MOBO awards. Later that month he became the first unsigned rapper to appear on Later with Jools Hollandperforming the song “Not That Deep” from Dreamers Disease.

In November 2014, Stormzy collaborated with rapper Chip and Shalo on the track “I’m Fine”, also appearing in a video for the song. The track is part of Chip’s upcoming Believe & Achieveproject.

On 7 January 2015, Stormzy came number 3 in the BBC Introducing top 5 on Radio 1. In March 2015 he released the single “Know Me From”, which entered the UK Singles Chart at number 49. In September 2015, he released a final instalment to his “WickedSkengMan” freestyle series, “WickedSkengMan 4”, onto iTunes, along with a studio version of his “Shut Up” freestyle over XTC’sFunctions On The Low instrumental. The track debuted at number 18 on the UK chart dated 24 September, becoming Stormzy’s first top 40 hit and the first ever freestyle to reach the top 40 in the United Kingdom.

On 12 December 2015, Stormzy performed “Shut Up” during British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua’s ring-walk for his fight versus Dillian Whyte. Originally, “Shut Up”, released as part of the “WickedSkengMan 4” single EP in September 2015, charted at number 59. Since the performance, it began climbing up the iTunes chart and into the top 40. As a result, Stormzy launched a Christmas number 1 campaign to get the song to number 1. It generated a large amount of support which made it enter the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart on 18 December 2015 at number 8, a week prior to the Christmas number 1 week, succeeding the chart position of “WickedSkengMan 4”. It has become Stormzy’s highest-charting single.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia