I’m in a good position. The first experience I’ve had listening to Estrons was their debut album. You’d like to think they are proud of the overall style and the tracks they have collated – and they should be, it gives a marvellous first impression.
‘Killing Your Love’ cranks up the distortion on the guitar and shows the occasional feedback swell, whilst layering vocal parts smothered in delay. All leading up to the massive sound at 2min15secs – the ultimate climax of the track. It’s hard to resist pulling out the air-guitar concentration face and having a little head bang. I can imagine the pits go mad when this song is played live.
As the album goes on it dips out of the thrashy and into the catchy. ‘Make a Man’ has a memorable chorus with a kick. Sometimes the non-explicit version of a track can be equally as good, but the last chorus in this instance just highlights how fucking good it can be when a band just go off on one. It shows some similarities to the style of Dream Wife, which I am not complaining about, but Estrons definitely have their own notable USP.
Taken aback by lead vocalist Tali Källström‘s performance on this album, I’m unsure if there is anyone else similar. There’s hints of 70’s rock star, almost borderline Axl Rose especially heard in ‘Body’, but also we are sometimes treated to Joplin-esque rasp. Källström delivers strong powerful notes, notably in ‘Cameras’, which would not be out of place on a metal album.
The overall tone and taste of tracks on this album are cohesive and interesting. It’s a catchy album on the heavier side of life – and I’m always game for female lead vocalists to pack some punch.
Lucca can deliver soothing tracks with an unparalleled vocal tone, whilst preserving the honest lyrics that sit over the top of her well calculated melodies. The 18 year old effortlessly writes songs that you can listen to on repeat. And not only that, but she can perform them with ease with a high level of class. Check out her live session below:
We wanted to see where the inspiration behind the music came from, here’s what Lucca had to say:
Is there one particular thing, or time, that you always find yourself to be writing lyrics about or is each song its own separate project entirely?
Often themes and ideas for songs overlap as lyrics come from experiences, not necessarily my own but people that surround me too. Whether it be about heartbreak, enlightenment, social justice etc
Who would be the one person you’d thanks for recommending you a certain artist?
I would have to thank my dad for making Bob Marley and the wailers the soundtrack to my childhood. I appreciate being brought up listening to lyrics about freedom and inner peace of mind, it has had a massive impact on my perspective and my music.
Do you think its important for artists to have their own style? Whether that be their fashion sense or their musical genre? Or do you think sometimes its important to follow trends?
I don’t think it’s majorly important but instead something that happens naturally. Often an artist who is passionate about the music will adopt there own style subconsciously meaning no artist sounds or looks the same as another.
If you could ask any artist ever for a masterclass in songwriting who would you pick? Why?
would love a masterclass with Loyle Carner. His flow is impeccable, razor sharp rhymes, alliterations, onomatopoeia are churned out in every one of his songs. He serves up poetry with a hip hop beat which makes for beautifully sensitive songs about family grief…. one of my many musical heroes!
Are there any music releases on the way anytime soon?
Yes there are a few songs in the making, lots of unfinished lyrics and loose ends though.
I was sat doing my work all neat and tidy listening to Rex Orange County when my boss walked in and regarded me as listening to ‘teenage music’. It got me thinking. It’s a strange thought that we can like certain types of music more because of our age – especially considering music is one of the most universal things.
But this thought is definitely apparent in today’s society. There’s an underlining theme at every gig I have been to recently: the average age of the audience is below 20. Even maybe below 18. Indie gigs are swarmed with under 18’s all compacted into the front row of the venue smothered in a concoction of glitter and sweat. Obviously there are some anomalies, there’s always going to be the older crew too. Usually the parents of the band or the acid-head hippy in the corner who’s just doing his own thing. But why aren’t there that many more adults?
1) Maybe adults just don’t go to gigs?
It could be just as simple as adults don’t go to gigs as much as the younger generation. But that’s just ridiculous. If you go to A Rolling Stones gig you’d be hard pushed to find anyone under the age of 20. Or even is you go see rap duo Too Many T’s – a more modern artist that the Stones – then the crowd would be a large range of ages. So it seems to be that the style of music is definitely a contributing factor, because if people liked the music and they like going to gigs, then why wouldn’t they go to see it live? But then why don’t adults like indie music?
2) Teens relate to the content
It tends to be that the new indie bands that are emerging into the music scene at the moment are just coming just of sixthform or uni. This means the lyrics they are writing about usually relate to the younger audience as the band members are relatively young themselves. However a lot of indie music seems to be almost targeted to a younger audience. For example Tarek Musa, lead singer of Spring King, is entering into his thirties (which no doubt is far from old, but definitely not 16) and can be found belting out lyrics romanticising about summer holidays and other teen problems. Similarly Kieran Shudall of Circa Waves fame, is probably nearly double the age of most of circa waves’ concert attendees yet their most well song known song ‘T-shirt Weather’ is all about the stress-free fun times of teenagers off during their summer holidays: ‘Seventeen went far too quick‘.
3) Talkin’ about my generation
There’s always the issue of what music is popular with what generation – more of a music-wide issue rather than exclusively indie. The current charts are not overwhelmed with indie bands, or bands in general for that matter, so if you don’t relate to the Drake’s and Rihanna’s of today’s scene then you are going to want to find another music movement you can feel part of. This has always been the case – throwback to the 70’s where the DIY punk ethos was coming into play. The kids needed at outlet for their anti-establisment views in the form of thrashy ‘breakneck’ tempo hits. So maybe indie is the new era, rebelling in the form of jangly guitars and catchy chorus’. If you can call that rebelling.
I feel like good music is good music , regardless of the genre. And I know it is possible for the older generation to like indie music – my 60-year-old dad being the prime example of a Sundara Karma fangirl. But there’s definitely an association between indie and teenagers. Maybe adults are put off going to gigs by the thought of a bunch of teenagers off their nut? Maybe I’m being naive and I’m also being sucked into the sentimentalising of teenage themes within indie hits, and maybe I only like it because I’ve only just crawled my way into my twenties. I guess only time will tell.
In the brother album of the 2017 ‘RELAXER’, alt-J recruit the likes of Pusha T, Goldlink and Little Simz to expand their repertoire into the world of Hip-Hop. There’s always been strong Hip-Hop influences in alt-J’s work but now they’ve have fully embraced it and have created a gritty rival of ‘RELAXER’ that packs a whole lot more of a punch.
We are treated to two different versions of ‘3WW’, ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Hit me Like that snare’ – this emphasises the imagination and production skill alt-J possess. They can seamlessly transform a track into something completely different – this is apparent for the whole album really. In one version of ‘3WW’ we are treated by the talent of Pusha T: his performance and the arrangement of the track give it a similar energy to as if it were a live set. The overdriven guitar and vocal parts give the track a desirable bite – one of which stands out within the album. The heavily produced vocal hook supplied by alt-J is very recognisable -consisting of a similar vocal style to one presented in ‘Interlude I’ and ‘Fitzpleasure’ from alt-J’s debut. Even though it’s so recognisable it fits seamlessly into it’s new Hip-Hop surroundings, only being enhanced by Pusha T. It sounds as if this track could have been originally written for this re-work.
Despite going in a new route alt-J have maintained some core aspects: they continue to use unusual vocal phrasing with quirky lyrics. Engulfed by ambient percussion: a perfect homage to the obscure rhythms and sounds alt-J use but in parallel with strong and heavy Hip-Hop snares and kicks.
This album gives a new audience a chance to experience the wonderful world of Hip-Hop. Fans of alt-J will give the album a listen regardless of genre – even more so if they are familiar with the content of ‘RELAXER’. Any album that entices you into a new genre, one you may not necessarily listen to, is on for a winner.
Regarding musicians who find their feet using Youtube is always a tricky one. No musician wants to be known as ‘that gal off youtube’ but there is no denying that Youtube is an incredible way to build a fanbase. It’s just frustrating when that fanbase doesn’t branch further than a small Youtube community.
There’s a difference between a ‘Youtube Musician’ and a musician using Youtube as a platform to share and promote. A ‘Youtube Musician’ appears to upload for the sake of uploading, vlogs, has 5 different channels (including a gaming channel), does ‘youtube challenges’ and doesnt have a clue about the microphone they are tactically placing in shot to make it look like they are recording the vocals right there and then. All whilst maintaining that they only want to be a musician. You could argue that doing all the extras is to gain an even bigger fanbase so their music has more listeners, but that’s always hard to believe as the appealing dream of being a full time youtuber is on the rise. Not all ‘Youtube Musicians’ are talentless though, there’s no denying that Troye Sivan has got some bops and has an ongoing successful music career.
But then there’s another type of musician on Youtube. Orla Gartland, Hudson Taylor and Lauren Aquilina are some of the absolute squad who have succeeded in utilising the wonders of Youtube. They’ve developed their music careers from videos of them just playing in their bedrooms, and it was pure talent and charisma that developed their following into a reliable fanbase. Take a look at Orla Gartland for instance, an interesting singer-songwriter with facial expressions no one can compare too. She’s advanced from just sitting in front of a camera with her guitar, to touring multiple countries and releasing successful E.P’s. She still makes the occasionally youtube video to hold on to her roots, but simultaneously is writing and producing and living the musician life. And I would not have found her wonderful music without the help of Youtube. Check out her newest original below:
Some more Youtube discoveries you should be listening to:
1) Jack Vallier
This last year has been a whirlwind for Jack Vallier, from starting out with his acoustic guitar in his bedroom to now about to embark on a huge tour supporting Dermot Kennedy. After his successful release of his E.P ‘Rebeckah’, he continues to release songs driven by his strong vocal range.
Joe Probert has been a firm favourite for years. I remember going up to him at Barn on the Farm festivals years ago and being awkward and making a tit out of myself. But there’s no regrets from 15 year old me because now his hair is bigger and he’s got some even bigger tunes. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist with the most incredible rasp in his voice that could cut glass it’s so tasty.
A beauty of Youtube is that you can appreciate artists from all over the world, and this is very much the case for Andie Isalie who is over the other side of the world – currently in the blue mountains creating music in her van. Her new series ‘Vandie’ shows collaborations and beautiful raw orignals that are not to be missed. She has blues and funk influences in her guitar style – with a unique vocal that matches her unique approach to performing covers and also her own songs.
George Ogilvie has one of the most captivating and relaxing voices I have had the pleasure to come across. He writes songs which transport you away and simultaneously make your stomach drop. His E.P ‘Nowhere’ is well crafted and thought-out from the first second. It shows him developing into the musician he wants to become – and it’s definitely the right direction.
I first came across Benedict Cork on a video of him singing ‘Spectrum’ by Florence and the Machine – frozen in awe of his control and identifying tone. He would be a stand out vocalist on a dance track but equally holds his own with just a piano, undoubtable delivering the emotion and intimacy. His Youtube channel has since been re-vamped and is now looking fancy for his new era of music – one of which will be very successful.
This debut opens with the single ‘I only hurt the ones I love’ – and the intro performs every duty an intro to a debut album should perform. It builds energy, it gives a sneak peak of the track in little snippets and provides a huge guitar tone that Black Honey fans are more than use to.
This album feels like its split in half – even some of the tracks seem to be split. One half is Black Honey presenting sexy songs with interesting lyrics with a clear rock undertone – sounding like a progression from the days of their hits ‘Corrine’ and ‘Madonna’. But the other half sounds like a whole different band – a band using thicker production orientated by synth-based sounds rather than a classic rock band setup and heavier production on the vocals meaning the kooky vocal of Izzy B Phillips can’t be as clearly recognised.
This other side of Black Honey can be clearly seen in the track ‘Midnight’ where sawtooth synth sounds are flying all over with a heavily produced vocal singing repetitive vocal patterns. Artistic autotune and excessive reverb is also prominent in ‘Bad Friends’ which sounds like it could break into an Eminem verse at any given moment.
‘Dig’ is the standout track on this record. But maybe this is just because I’m thirsty to hold onto their old style as a band. Even though this track has one of the thinnest textures, and no mad synth parts, I think it sounds the most complete and most thought out. ‘Hello Today’ is another competitor – but once again this is old school Black Honey, but this time with production laced thick with reverb.
This record seems to be a watered down rock album with synths thrown in all over the show. It’s very far from a bad album, but maybe not the album I was fully expecting.
‘A Better Life’ is ripping at the seams with snare-heavy drum grooves, grungy guitars and an array of different vocal layers. Spring King are back with their follow up album to ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ bringing in heavier sounds and heavier themes.
‘Animal’ gives us the classic Spring King crunchy vocal and an aggressive opening guitar riff which would be no stranger at a Spring King gig. It was no wonder this was the first single released from the album – it’s clearly a strong and valuable choice.
‘Let’s Drink’ is a favourite on the album. It’s a perfect mix between Circa Waves and The Big Moon with Britpop undertones but still gives the salt and pepper splashes of the Spring King we know and love. It celebrates the introvertism of people and shows even if a person wants to be by themselves they can still be having fun.
The album is rounded of by ‘Thunder’ – this is a Spring King ballad. Vocalist Tarek Musa presents his signature tone in a slightly calmer environment which is well welcomed. A strange choice to end a Spring King album, purely because they’re live shows always end with such a punch. But it sounds like they are continuing to broaden their sound and maybe this is a hint into the next album. It’s a cohesive album in a well put together order, although it is unsure if the intro (Static) and interlude (Lightning) are beneficial, it seems they could have used that time in the album more wisely.
Spring King have moved on in this album. They’ve evolved in production – more succinct layers and classier vocals, they’ve evolved in writing – slower, less frantic songs you can really sink your teeth into and enjoy in comparison to the fast non-stop train that was their debut. They’ve become more daring in their lyrics and it feels like they are writing about the issues they want to be writing about rather than just random scribbles they’ve noted down on a piece of paper.
Greg Wanders is the whole package. He delivers crisp production, with tight harmonies and creative use of vocal samples. Alongside signature craftsmanship in his songwriting – he utilises his emotion-heavy lyrics, which are surrounded with sentiment, to drive his songs so there is never a dip in energy. Not only that, he can deliver a killer performance. Watch Greg Wanders pick up his guitar and supply us with a stripped back version of ‘Sines’ here:
We caught up with Greg Wanders to see what he had to say:
What’s the big dream?
‘What a question [laughing]. So really, simple as it sounds, is to sort of sustain a living off creating, sharing my music. I mean half of it’s like the process of doing it, I love the process of it. It’s something that’s different, it’s the never same, so always facing something different in every new song, every new project. Then also in terms of performing as well, I’d love the opportunity to just do that and sustain it.
What is your opinion on the current music that is in the charts?
I mean there’s a lot of music that I sort of bop my head too, but I think that’s the thing with pop. I think for me personally, I don’t dislike it, but I kind of like music that challenges me. I like to be challenged.
What one artist would you say has inspired you the most?
Well there’s 2 and I don’t know which inspires me more than the other. On one hand there’s Sampha and on the other there’s James Blake. Every time I show someone my music they’re like ‘oh you sound like Sampha’, but I don’t see it. He influences me more in terms of encouragement of being unique and having the confidence to just have your own unique sound and not chase a trend. I think that’s one thing that every producer at one point could account for, going down that road of following a trend. I was doing it for a while, because I wanted to make things that people would like. But after listening to their [Sampha and James Blake] albums I thought that they’ve maintained this for years so I could actually stick to that. I kind of realised that when you develop your own niche, you’ll have fans that support you a lot more than if you were in trend, because trends just fall in and fall out.
Do you prefer doing the producer side of things, or the song writing?
It kind of changes with each song. There’ll be some tracks I have where, I wouldn’t have not enjoyed the
song-writing process but it would have been quite a basic process. Then I’ve really got into the production and used it to lift everything. But then there are some tracks I have where I get so into the song writing and I’ll spend months writing it and re-arranging stuff because I want it to be perfect.
What are the plan for the rest of 2018? And what are you most excited for?
The big plan really, which sort of answers both questions, is that I’m going to be releasing my debut EP. I’ve been writing since the beginning of the year really; it’s been a long process just moulding every little thing. It’s kind of gone on this massive rotation, where I put these tracks in, take them out, put new ones in, take them out and put the old ones back in, take the old ones out… I think it’s got to a point now that when I look at it, it feels like a proper framework. They all relate and I can actually put them into a category.
How are you going to perform the more electronic side of tracks live, or are you not?
I’ve been having quite a lot of meetings and getting advice from people. It’s been the main interest – the electronic side. I really want to have that, but I’d also want to have the acoustic. I’ve got a bunch of bandmates now and we’re going to be getting together and properly practising after our exams in May. We’re gonna start piecing together what the actual live show will begin to look like. I think maybe coming from producing, I like to be a lot more hands on, so if I’m not playing keys I’d like to be doing something with pads. Or just doing something.
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After an hour drive, an uber ride, a ferry and a water taxi, we had finally hit the Isle of Wight. An abundance of bags and tents were thrown into a buggy, and the Astrofunk boys clambered in. The engine spluttered and the buggy trickled along a solid three metres before coming to a sad halt. But this did far from dampen the excitement in the air, if anything it just made everyone more eager to get going. One hilarious rescue mission later, and nearly being flung out of a back of a buggy, we arrived in the campsite. Tents were popped up and sleeping bags were out – all with 5 minutes to spare. Harry Gibbons, Cal Sørensen and Oliver Johnston get memory sticks at the ready and run towards the Field of Dreams stage.
It was the headline slot. A huge Astrofunk collab: Harry James b2b Wax (of On The Wax fame) b2b Goldwork. The stage loomed high and projections lit up the field: flashing names and showcasing other Astrofunk past times. The boys were fluid in their mixing, and had courage in their track choice. This field, in about 12 hours’ time, would be filled with nearly 10,000 happy England fans watching the World Cup game, and rest assured you, this Astrofunk set would have gone down a treat for the after party. The mark of a successful set is drawing in a crowd and making them stay there, and that was definitely achieved here.
The next morning, I peeled myself from the sweaty inside of my tent, and crawled out into the sunshine. Today was the day we were being joined by Dan Parsons, also known as Pandar. We meandered over to the artist lounge where Pandar would grace us with a set of disco tunes which perfectly accompanied the summer heat and the cool Old Mount Cider I was drinking. I had certainly never had a festival experience quite as relaxed as this before. From here we headed back to camp. Astrofunk’s duties were done for the weekend so it was time to explore (and by explore I mean find some beverages).
It occurred to me this weekend that I honestly was out of my depth when it came to DJing. I witnessed a conversation whilst the Astrofunk crew, including Zane Zephirin (who played a killer set with Matt Baines on the Friday), were sat in front of me. We could hear the roaring sounds of the Smirnoff Stage and the boys were giving their honest opinions. They spoke with such intuitive critical thoughts, and technicalities that there is no doubt that they actually know what they are on about. They noticed things I would never dream of noticing, and had such a depth in their knowledge of different music genres. For anyone who thinks DJing is a piece of piss, and doesn’t really understand what DJ’s “actually do”, then simply ask them what they do, because believe me they have a lot to talk about. Not only are they DJ’s but they are producers, engineers, promoters, event planners, managers, and artists all in their own right.
The rest of the afternoon was consumed by live acts from the main stage: Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow and The Killers, to name a few. This was definitely more my scene than the set played by Ed Solo the previous night, but I enjoyed both equally. I guess you never really know what you’re going to enjoy at a festival. It was refreshing to see the Astrofunk lads appreciate the live bands just as much as the DJ’s. And it goes without saying that The Killers performed an incredible live set – one which made Harry Gibbons exclaim “This is the best moment of my life”. Couldn’t agree more Harry, couldn’t agree more.
So now Astrofunk head back to their Southampton home to conjure up more cosmic nightlife experiences for the astronautically inclined. But if they do happen to come to your town, make sure you get your disco dancing shoes at the ready and get your groove on, because it will be worth it.
Throwback to 16-year-old me, sat waiting nervously for my dad to take me to go play my first ever gig. It was a day festival in Reading, and having already forgotten to bring a kick pedal, I was already out of my depth. And I was about to become starstruck: Matt Maltese was playing the set after me. I had already fallen in love with his velvety voice after discovering his Burberry Acoustic debut, when he was just 16, with his track ‘Good Old Days’. Now fast forward, it’s the 8th of June 2018, and a parcel has arrived at the door. It’s the debut album that 16-year-old me had been longing for.
Matt Maltese has mastered the art of creating a record which seamlessly wanders from jazz-infused head bops such as ‘Greatest Comedian’ to dark all-encompassing ballads like ‘As the World Caves In’. It shows bravery in its diversity but Matt Maltese has successfully planted his own specific scent on each track. Matt Maltese is the king of using imagery to get across his thoughts – the title track shows his self-depricating thoughts of ‘I’m a dead end, a budget hotel‘ – whilst all his lyrics are enveloped in dark humour which tops this album off.
The instrumentation soars from massive house band vibes, backing singers and all, to more delicate piano numbers such as ‘Less and Less’. Proper old school Matt Maltese.
This album could perfectly soundtrack two high school sweethearts having their last dance at their last ever high school prom. Dance on kids.