Diet Cig debut album 'Swear I'm Good At This' due 7 April 2017

Album release: Diet Cig 'Swear I'm Good At This'
Release date: 7 April 2017
Label: Frechkiss Records
More info: Band website

Diet Cig are happy to announce the forthcoming release of their hugely anticipated debut album. Entitled 'Swear I'm Good At This', the album will be released on April 7th via Frenchkiss Records. Today the band share the first single off the album - the highly infectious 'Tummy Ache.' Listen to 'Tummy Ache'.

Of the single Diet Cig note: "Tummy Ache' is all about unpacking the feeling of approaching punk with radical softness, and the struggle when it's not always read as powerful or cool or whatever enough. Its the shout into my pillow when what I'm saying isn't being heard, and a big old I FEEL YA to all the femme folks creating space for themselves in a world that wants to keep us quiet."

'Swear I'm Good At This' is now available to pre-order here, and includes an instant grat of 'Tummy Ache'.

The band, who are well-known for their energetic and bombastic live shows, will be touring the world in support of 'Swear I'm Good At This' and the first tour is announced today as well.  It kicks off April 5 in New Haven, CT at Bar and concludes May 8 at The Catalyst Atrium in Santa Cruz, CA.  Diet Cig will play two shows in one night at Brooklyn's Baby's All Right on April 7 and The Echo in Los Angeles, on May 4. Further, the band will play a handful of pre-release dates including at set at this year's Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco on February 22 and shows during SXSW. The complete list of dates below and tickets go on sale tomorrow, January 13.

Diet Cig is Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums).  The two have been playing music together ever since Luciano interrupted the set of Bowman's other band for a lighter. The New York duo have since released the infectious, 2015 Over Easy EP that introduced consistent sing-a-long lyrics with thrashing drums and strums that never held back. The New York Times labeled it "a lo-fi whirlwind, with songs cutting to the heart" and NPR said the EP is "cathartic pop-punk with boundless vitality and wide-eyed charm" while Pitchfork chimed in calling it "a collection of brisk, personal pop-punk."

'Swear I'm Good At This' accumulates Diet Cig's tenacity for crafting life-affirming, relatable tales with a gutsy heart at their core. Luciano has the ability to write lyrics that are both vulnerable and badass, perfecting a storm of emotive reflection that creates a vision of a sweaty, pumped-up room screaming these lines in unison. Diet Cig make it okay to be the hot mess that you are.

But there's also a deeper, more powerful fuck-you among the bangers that see Diet Cig grow into an unstoppable and inspiring force. "I'm not being dramatic, I've just fucking had it with the things that you say you think that I should be" spits Luciano on the album's 'Link in Bio;' "I am bigger than the outside shell of my body and if you touch it without asking then you'll be sorry" she yells on 'Maid Of The Mist'. It's the sound of a band doing things on their own terms.

'Swear I'm Good At This' was produced, engineered and mixed by Christopher Daly at Salvation Recording Co. in New Paltz, NY with additional recording at Atomic Sound in New York City.   

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Torgeir Waldemar album 'No Offending Borders' due 17 March 2017

Album release: 'No Offending Borders' by Torgeir Waldemar
Release date: 17 March 2017
Label: Jansen Plateproduksjon
More info: Artist website

Torgeir Waldemar took the Norwegian people and music press by surprise with his eponymous debut album in 2014. Who had thought that the black-clad, longhaired and bearded man would deliver an album that captivated and moved us as much as it did. An acoustic masterpiece that sounded like it came straight from the rehearsal room of a young troubadour from Laurel Canyon in the seventies.  

While his previous album cultivated a pure, acoustic sound, we get more rock music this time, and for Torgeir Waldemar nothing is more natural. With his background as a guitar hero in various rock bands, it was only a question of time before distorted tones would assert themselves in his solo career. 'No Offending Borders' is a gloriously composite work with both dead honest acoustic laments and grandiose rock songs.

But the record is so much more than that, and for Torgeir this is a document that shows the seriousness we meet in our everyday lives. Both on the personal level, with relationships that falls apart and the loss of loved ones, but also on a national and global level, with refugee crises, suicide statistics and the weakest members of our society. You may have guessed it already, but this is a solemn record.

If you’re afraid that Torgeir Waldemar has turned away from what he presented on his debut album, you can relax. Here we get acoustic folk songs like 'Falling Rain (Link Wray)', 'Island Bliss' and 'Souls on a String', but the album also contains more intense rock songs like 'Summer In Toulouse', 'Sylvia (Southern People)' and 'Among the Low'.

Aesthetically, it’s also consistent from beginning to end - nothing at all is done by chance here. The historical lines that are drawn in the cover design, are also meant to point back to ourselves and to make us conscious of our past, so that we won’t make the same mistakes again. The cover of the single 'Souls on a String' featured a photo of the decorated carrier pigeon from World War I, Cher Ami. It saved a whole British company during the war, when the British were caught in a battle, without any food or ammunition. Cher Ami was sent away, and taken under fire by the enemy, but finally delivered the message that saved the British troops. 

The chair on the cover of 'No Offending Borders' is from Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. This is the chair that Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany, was sitting in when he was told that World War I had started. Wilhelm II was a friend of Norway and spent much time on the west coast in the early 1900s. What would you have done if you were sitting in that chair and received that message? Sit down, think thoroughly about it, while you’re listening to No Offending Borders. 

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Sorority Noise album 'You're Not As _____ As You Think' due 17 March 2017

Album release: 'You're Not As _____ As You Think' by Sorority Noise
Release date: 17 March 2017
Label: Big Scary Monsters
More info: Band website

Sorority Noise have announced 'You're Not As _____ As You Think', their third full length record and follow up to 2015's Joy, Departed. 'You're Not As _____ As You Think' is set to be released on March 17th via Triple Crown Records. Sorority Noise recently released a teaser trailer for the new album that can be viewed here

Sorority Noise have also recently announced they will be touring the US this March with Modern Baseball, Kevin Devine and The Obsessives. 

Sorority Noise write important songs. They go to uncomfortable places, unafraid to let the darkness in – but they’re also not shy at kicking back until the sorrow subsides. They’re songs of confusion, anger, life, death, mental health and, most importantly, hope. They’re what it means to be human.

That vulnerability has been Sorority Noise’s hallmark since they formed in 2013, but it’s never been as precise as it is on 'You're Not As _____ As You Think', their third album, set for release March 17th via Triple Crown Records. The album follows the Connecticut-based quartet’s It Kindly Stopped For Me 7” (2016), critically acclaimed Joy, Departed (2015) and debut Forgettable (2014) and is the most collaborative, fully realised version of Sorority Noise to date.

Sorority Noise recorded 'You’re Not As _____ As You Think' with producer Mike Sapone (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday) over the span of 10 days – three times longer than it took to track Joy, Departed – and this increased time allowed the band to hone the songwriting and visceral performances that have launched them onto tours with Modern Baseball, Citizen, Turnover and The Menzingers and into outlets like Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, The Fader, Spin, AV Club and Stereogum. 
 
Singer/guitarist Cameron Boucher, who prefers not to edit or overthink his lyrics, empties both his pen and soul on songs like 'No Halo,' 'Disappeared' and 'A Portrait Of,' stark vignettes that find him coming to terms with the death of close friends. He’s had days, weeks and months to confront these and other emotions, and when it came time to write about them, the words spilled out.
 
So what you’re getting is an emotional bulldozer – an unfiltered, inward look at the last year of the band’s life that’s filled with intimate, visceral details yet remains universally relatable. But even amidst heavy subject matter, Sorority Noise want to give you a sense of resilience. “No matter what I feel, it’s going to be OK,” Boucher says. “Things are going to be tough, but it’s going to be fine in the end – and you have to keep going because you just have to. This is how it’s going to be. You’ve just got to do it.”

It’s in this way that the album’s title comes into view, and it only takes inserting a few adjectives – sad, happy, rich, poor – to realise life is all about perspective. Hardships are inevitable, but so is hope. Rather than living in the shadows, Sorority Noise have learned the only way to move past the struggle is by never stopping moving forward into the sun.

 

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Analog Candle 'WINTER ’15' EP out soon

EP release: 'Winter '15' by Analog Candle
Release date: 2017
More Info: Band website

Hailing from New York City via England, Chicago, New Orleans and Boston – Analog Candle is an expressionist, avant-garde dream-pop collective formed by producer and songwriter Callum Plews.  
 
Originally from England, Callum was inspired to create Analog Candle after collaborating with an array of musicians while living in the magic and bustle of New Orleans. The project began over six years ago, after Callum realised he was more comfortable with the concept of others performing and interpreting his creations than he was embodying them completely himself. Bringing together performers from the realms of avant-garde, folk and emo, the initial group began recording at Callum’s bedroom studio, and self-released a number of songs online under the moniker, Analog Candle (a reference to the Arcade Fire album ’Neon Bible’).  

Influenced by the early albums of Animal Collective and Broken Social Scene, experimental-pop outfit Xiu Xiu (Callum has worked with Angela Seo in the past), acts like Arcade Fire, Beach House and the surrealist and absurdist creations of literary heavyweights like Haruki Muramaki, Franz Kafka and Sylvia Plath - the ‘art-rock’ collective is also largely dedicated to the hybridization of pop music and production technique. In this way, after settling in NYC, the 'Winter ’15' EP became the culmination of a variety of cultural and musical viewpoints. 

In terms of the EP itself, and conversely given the circumstances in which it was born, the lyrical content reflects Callum’s apprehensions on personal relationships, as well as the uncertain fragility that followed him around during his first winter in NYC.  Each song is intended to provide a small window into how that winter progressed, as well as mapping the chronology of a doomed relationship. 

Album opener ‘Scarlett’s Web’ features delicate female vocals that hover above shimmering electronic effects, while its lyrical themes allude to the beginning of the end of a love affair, “I see where my body is / But my heart’s far away”.  Elsewhere, ‘Trier’, a wavy slice of electronic pop, explores flashes of real life pain - ‘Lying aimless in bed / With all the books that stay unread’ juxtaposed with buoyant electronic currents.  

Themes of reminiscence and rejection sit alongside concepts of expressionism, and throughout the EP, heightened emotion is given a front seat over exact realism in the form of piercing lyrics that twist and linger like smoke-trails. 

Callum says: "Living in a brand new city can grind one to dust very quickly - work, love, friendship - it all gets distilled and intensified. I sought to recruit the most talented indie musicians in NYC, and bring life to these difficult, common experiences. The 'Winter '15' EP lies squarely between the 'experimental' and 'pop' music genres, and is intended to be a lyrically driven 'audio' mosaic - a recorded art project of sorts." 

The EP concludes with the ghostly ‘Space Dreams Of You Too’ and with lyrics like ‘I’ll see you in another life’… the next incarnation of Analog Candle promises to be just as ethereal and fluid as the present one… 

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Esteban Alvarez album 'Tico Groove' due 3 March 2017

Album release: 'Tico Groove' by Esteban Alvarez
Release date: 3 March 2017
More info: Artist website

World-class Steinway pianist Esteban Alvarez has written music for a variety of ensembles, orchestras, and chamber groups in his time– from the Latin Jazz Ensemble, the Caribe Club and the Escazu Folk-Music band to the Baylor Jazz Ensemble and many more. Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Esteban has studied under a number of jazz greats (including the likes of Chris Potter, Dave Brubeck, John Abercrombie and Jonathan Kreisberg – among others) going on to write songs for the National Peace Program of Costa Rica, and the Organization of Costa Rica & Nicaragua. These songs received special awards by Dr. Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Laureate and President of Costa Rica at that time. Esteban has travelled to Guatemala, Qatar, and Nepal to perform in national music festivals and speak about peace and education.

Esteban was first nominated as a 'Steinway Artist' back in 2013. The Steinway Artist Roster is a list of the most accomplished and discriminating artists in the world. Some of the names in this list include Lang Lang, Diana Krall, Arthur Rubinstein, Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, and others of this calibre. As a Steinway Artist Esteban has performed solo concerts in China, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Central America, and the USA. Esteban has also appeared in private shows for the Ferrari club and Formula 1, featuring John Legend and other artists.

Esteban’ s latest album 'Tico Groove' features Ignacio Berroa (Dizzy Gillespie’ s drummer) and Lynn Seaton (Count Basie’ s bassist). The album seamlessly blends elements of traditional and Latin jazz, whilst also incorporating Costa Rican folk and world rhythms and phrasings, meeting in a place that sits somewhere between an almost nostalgic hark back to Esteban’ s hometown, whilst also taking influence from its guest musicians who put their own distinctive mark on the album. 'Tico Groove' is the sum of the many parts that make up both Esteban’ s culture and musical identity, blending his jazz and world sensibilities with the sound of the many other artists and indeed cultures that he has come to work with and previously studied under.  

Speaking on the forthcoming record, Esteban said “This album is my attempt to share the love for my culture and my identity as a 'Tico' (Costa Rican) to other parts of the world. The concept of 'Tico Groove' was to create a bridge between our most organic folklore, and some of the most influential elements of jazz and world-music under my original music arrangements. All this was possible through the monumental experience and knowledge of legendary drummer Ignacio Berroa (former drummer for Dizzy Gillespie), who not only captured the concept of this music but also gave to it an unmistakable Latin jazz flavour. In the same way, world renowned bassist Lynn Seaton 'sealed' this project with the authentic jazz 'old-school' sound. Indeed, nothing but a privilege to make music with these gentlemen.”

Esteban was also recently nominated 'Good Will Ambassador' and guest Artist to the International Peace Foundation, based in Hong Kong. In 2016 Esteban co-founded Music Peace Project (MPP), a non-profit organisation that brings local and international musicians together to assist in humanitarian relief efforts around the world by making and selling music. The organisations first project is called 'Austin for Peace' and 100% of the album’ s net sales will be given to UNHCR for Syrian refugees. Some of the musicians featured in this project are Ignacio Berroa, John Patitucci (world acclaimed bassist), Tamela Hedstrom (Costa Rican singer), and the Wesley Intergenerational Choir.

'Tico Groove' is as consummate as it is divergent in its style and unfolds in an almost musically autobiographical sense, creating a superlative summation of Estebans musical career to date. With various other projects lined up for 2017, 'Tico Groove' provides the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with Esteban Alvarez signature style.

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Omar Rahbany album 'Passport' due 10 March 2017

Album release: 'Passport' by Omar Rahbany
Release date: 10 March 2017
More info: Artist website

An album that took three years to make, with over 180 collaborators from 12 different nationalities, of which include Grammy award winners and critically acclaimed artists, ‘Passport’, by Omar Rahbany, unfolds over 59 minutes. The forthcoming album, ‘Passport’, breaks down barriers between cultures and countries, having travelled across world to complete it. Heavy jazz and classical influences are fused with Arabic and Lebanese overtones throughout the album, meeting in a place where there are no divisions, culturally, linguistically or artistically.  
 
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1989, Omar comes from a rich musical lineage. His grandfather, Mansour, and great-uncle, Assi, known colloquially as the Rahbani Brothers, forged Lebanon’s musical identity with their distinct and innovative pieces. Similarly, Omar’s childhood was infused with a rich variety of artistic mediums; his father is a playwright composer and lyricist whilst his mother is famed for her professional dancing.  
 
Omar’s debut album sees him carrying his heredity forwards, whilst innovating and developing his sound. With a deep interest for the German concept of ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (a total work of art) - an idea that only stimulated his burgeoning creativity - his interests widened to include film and choreography. Omar’s vision of uniting these various aesthetic elements to form one total work of art soon became more pronounced, leading him to compose his first musical at the age of nineteen. 
 
In many ways ‘Passport’ takes forward the idea of ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, the record is a genre all of its own. Omar makes use of the wide variety of the musical tools at his disposal, setting the album apart as an entirely unique body of work. The songs are complex, deeply textured and cinematic, they are as infectious and as diverse as they are accomplished. 
 
Speaking about the album, Omar says, “After a three year journey to perfect every note on Passport, and to achieve the overarching vision of the album, we are now ready to share it with the world. The successfully enriched sounds of Passport are attributed to the 180 talented individuals that took part in making it, all unified by one vision.” 
 
The socio-political situation in the Middle East has also been a big influence on the new album. Most of the world’s ruling civilisations, at one time or another, have left their mark on the city of Beirut. This fact, combined with the effects of globalisation and the internet, has created a city, and indeed a country, which is torn between three languages, eighteen religions and one history that no one can seem to agree upon. This is a nation that undertakes a constant struggle to find its ‘absolute’ identity. 
 
Understanding his own position within this debate has become a personal mission for Omar. Speaking about the impact this has had on the new album he says, “The melting pot of cultures I grew up in, the double-edged sword that shaped me as a person, the confusion, the creativity, the struggle itself is my identity. I am a citizen of planet Earth and my nationality is that of a human being. This is my PASSPORT. And I’m certain that this view is shared by everyone that contributed to the making of the album.” 
 
Mixed at Real World Studios (Manic Street Preachers, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyoncé Knowles, Ludovico Einaudi and more), and with every single part of the album written and composed by Omar himself, the album features over 180 guest musicians. Guests on the album include fourteen-time Grammy Award winning producer Steve Rodby (bassist for the Pat Metheny Group), Keith Carlock (drummer for Sting and Steely Dan), Wayne Krantz, Karim Ziad, and Cuong Vu (trumpeter for the Pat Metheny Group), along with accompaniment from the Kiev City Symphonic Orchestra. 
 
The completion of such an ambitious project is owed to Omar’s distinct, original sound and technical proficiency. In many ways this album is an artistic passport, a tool in which the listener can travel freely across a multifarious range of styles, genres and experiences and can submerge themselves in the unknown.

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Handmade Festival - bands announced for 2017

Festival announcement: Handmade Festival 2017
Festival dates: 29 - 30 April 2017
More info: Festival website

Handmade Festival will be returning to Leicester’s O2 Academy in 2017 for two days of the finest music, comedy, art, film, performance and photography, hand-picked and carefully curated. The festival will take place on 29th and 30th April 2017. 
 
As such, Handmade Festival are very excited to announce the first wave of bands for the 2017 music programme: 
 
Twin Atlantic, Frightened Rabbit, British Sea Power, Pulled Apart By Horses, Honeyblood, JAWS, Muncie Girls, Tigercub, Puppy and Idles
 
Plus many more acts performing across multiple stages to be announced. Weekend tickets are on sale.
 
Tickets start at £40 for adults and for the first time the festival is able to offer tickets at £30 for students and £20 for under 16s. 
 
About Handmade Festival: 
 
Handmade is a multi-venue music and arts festival in the city of Leicester. It was originally imagined by John Helps (of Leicester based instrumental band Maybeshewill) as a way to bring exciting new and original music, comedy, art, film and photography in to the city centre over three days. Since then it has grown and is now programmed and run by John along with Nik Sharpe (The Cookie), Matt Kirk (Firebug), Andy Wright (The Charlotte) and a tonne of other awesome people across multiple artistic disciplines. Partnerships with Big Scary Monsters and Alcopop Records as well as the 2000 Trees and ArcTanGent Festivals have been a big part of the Handmade from day one, and it continues to involve curators from awesome musical organisations from across the country. 
 
In its first year Handmade took over reclaimed spaces - including an ex-library, the city’s historic guildhall, a church and some of the oldest buildings in the city with headline sets from Rolo Tomasi, Nine Black Alps, Dutch Uncles and The Twilight Sad as well as festival curators Maybeshewill themselves. 
 
For its sophomore year, the event grew to include the huge Hansom Hall theatre, with And So I Watch You From Afar, Shonen Knife, Dry the River and Iliketrains filling headline slots across the many venues. 
 
2015 was another year for growth, necessitating a move to the city’s O2 Academy venue - with headline sets from Eagulls, Bo Bingen, TOY, Slaves and Future of the Left filling the spectacular Queens Hall, Scholar and multiple re-purposed spaces around the building, the event saw festival organisers vindicated - creating the perfect “DIY” festival within what would normally be considered a particularly “un DIY” venue. It was a different beast, but it was the perfect festival for the city. 
 
2016 saw the festival's biggest and most adventurous year yet featuring bands such as We Are Scientists, 65daysofstatic, Lonely The Brave, Deaf Havana, Three Trapped Tigers and more. 2016 also saw the festival partner with Upset, Last.fm, Witchita Records and more to curate their estimable line-up, earning them plaudits from the likes of Drowned in Sound, Louder Than War, Q, Clash and various other areas of the press. 
 
Speaking about the festival co-organiser John Helps, said "It feels so good to finally get this announcement out in to the world. Handmade has grown every year since we started it in 2013, but this feels like our biggest step to date as we move in to the main room of O2 Academy Leicester, as well as the many other spaces around the Academy and Attenborough Arts Centre. We could not be more excited about the line-up, and this is just a flavour of what you can expect across the two days." 
 
This year the festival is partnering up with old friends Big Scary Monsters and Alcopop records as well as new friends at Upset, Dork, Drowned in Sound and more, to bring you another eclectic and vast line-up. More acts to be announced soon.

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Cream 'Fresh Cream' deluxe edition due 27 January 2017

Album releases: 'Fresh Cream' by Cream
Release date: 27 January 2017
Label: Polydor
More info: Fresh Cream website

Late January 2017 sees the deluxe edition release of 'Fresh Cream', the debut album by British, blues boom, power trio, Cream.

The 3-CD + 1 Blu-Ray Audio disc come housed in a gatefold sleeve within a rigid slipcase and includes a 64-page hardback book, featuring new sleeve notes by respected Rolling Stone writer, David Fricke. The set comprises various alternate and new stereo mixes plus several, previously unreleased BBC sessions. 

A special 6LP 180g Vinyl edition of 'Fresh Cream' will also be released in April 2017. 

Originally released in 1966, at the height of the UK blues bloom, 'Fresh Cream' showcased the not inconsiderable talents of three of the then music scene’s brightest lights: Eric Clapton fresh from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers; drummer, Ginger Baker straight from the Graham Bond Organisation and versatile bassist and musician, Jack Bruce who, at the time, had just left Manfred Mann. Collectively the three had decided to give up their roles as much sought after sidemen to form their own super group. 

Coming together as Cream in the early summer of 1966, the trio moved at impressive speed to make the release of 'Fresh Cream' in December of the same year. Highlights include the racing harmonica work-out and the call and response excitements on Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ and Tumblin’, a spine-tingling vocal on the Willie Dixon classic, Spoonful, as well as the self-penned Sleepy Time Time, which gave Clapton a free hand to wake up all and sundry. Their rousing treatment of the traditional standard, Cat’s Squirrel alerted listeners to just how well Clapton, Baker and Bruce musically complemented each other. 

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Kairon; IRSE! new album & reissued debut album due 3 February 2016

Album release:  ‘Ruination’ & ‘Ujubasajuba’ by Kairon; IRSE! 
Release date: 3 February 2016
Label: SVART Records
More info: Band website

Progressive shoegazing? Music of the outer spheres? An irrevocably mentally unstable Gentle Giant and a severely alcoholic Todd Rundgren having a love child which, after being adopted to Russia, finds himself performing a rock opera in the Ural Mountains? It is typical of the human mind to try and classify things, but when confronted with Kairon; IRSE!, many are at a loss for words. 
 
Behind the moniker Kairon; IRSE! there are four inner space travelers from western Finland. Debut album 'Ujubasajuba' already knocked the planet off its orbit, even though it was done as a DIY Bandcamp release. Despite the lack of a physical release the album found itself on many a best albums of the year -list in 2014. Since then the band has performed at various large festivals and meticulously written the new album. Titled ‘Ruination’, the album will be released by Svart Records in February 2017 on CD, double LP and digital. 
 
The band describe their music as an appreciation of the ideas and overall mentality of experimental pop musicians of the 60s and 70s, combined with a modern approach and original musical vision. Whereas the debut album was largely born out of improvisation and jam sessions, 'Ruination' is the fruit of two years of careful composing and arranging work, taking control of the chaos. Though often bundled with the shoegazer movement, Kairon; IRSE!'s music has since the beginning been a rare bird inside the scene: it rings out with a different tone, and already on the first album the influence of classic progressive rock was evident. On 'Ruination' the curiously named quartet heads further, beyond the point of no return, into their own world of sound, where power chords, arpeggios and quirky vocal harmonies flow. 
 
'Ruination' was recorded in the summer of 2016 at Tonehaven Studios producer Juho Vanhanen (Oranssi Pazuzu, Grave Pleasures) at the helm and Tom Brooke recording and mixing. "Juho shared our vision of how the album should sound", comments guitarist Niko Lehdontie, "but he also gave us a much needed outside view of the proceedings." Svart Records is set to release both Ruination and the group's first album 'Ujubasajuba' on February 3, 2017, on CD/2LP/Digital. The band is heading for an extensive Finnish tour in February, and live appearances abroad are to be expected as well. 

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Bl࣪änk ‘Weary Soul’ new album due 20 March 2017

Album release: ‘Weary Soul’ by Bl࣪änk
Release date: 20 March 2017
Label: Grind Records

Split between Atlanta and the remote northern parts of Sweden - commonly known as Sápmi, the hip-hop meets electro-pop trio Blänk are currently getting ready to release their third album ‘Weary Soul’. Touching on topics such as self-destruction, angst, hope, and finally acceptance, the new record is as much uplifting as it is lachrymose, focusing on emotional emancipation and taking control of your own life. 
 
With their last two albums ‘You’ve never been to Sápmi’ (2009) and ‘Only Built For Northern Lights’ (2015) earning the trio acclaim from across the US and UK, Blänk have gone from strength-to-strength with each release. It is obvious that their evolution across their work, influenced by friends from across the music scene (they collaborated with Noonie Bao on their last record), has transmuted their sound towards their most mature and consummate release yet. This record now sees the trio go it alone bearing brutal yet charming honesty and an empowering confidence. 
 
‘Weary Soul’ is powerful step forward for Blänk, whilst still combining the trio’s signature combination of polar melancholy and the slick yet gritty flow of the nominally southern state of Atlanta. The album is still heavily rooted in hip-hop, however the new record also sees Blänk move into a darker more downbeat atmospheric electro sound, which occasionally takes influence from intermittent soul-infused textures and at times owes itself to a subtle 80’s electro-pop inflection. It’s an incredibly diverse record, which is carried by the contrasting vocals from Simon Trabelsi and Lina Öhman and their lyrical themes - the album surrounds their motivation to turn thoughts of depression and suicide towards thoughts of growth, self-love and self-discovery.  
 
It’s dark, but still hopeful, whilst also exhibiting hubris. ‘Weary Soul’ is the culmination of years of personal challenges and self-work. Valleys, peaks, wins, losses, they're all a part of the journey but their collective weight adds up. Speaking about the album Blänk said, “The album is about baring the pain and perspectives of the weary soul that's lived through it all. At this point it's not about being depressed or celebrating wins, it's about recognising all those things are a part of a larger journey that shapes the person one becomes.” 

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Consuumer ‘Shattered Fruit’ EP due 13 January 2017

EP release: ‘Shattered Fruit’ by Consuumer
Release date: 13 January 2017
More info: Band Facebook

Raised in the claustrophobic backwaters of Hereford, young two-piece consuumer play a raucous set. Inspired by the sheer volume of Melvins, the raw power of the Stooges and the bleak doom of Sabbath, consuumer create a brutal, nihilistic sound, steeped in a raw energy and honesty that could shake even the most apathetic listener. With a huge string of UK live dates under their belt including a Birthday’s headline show and an acclaimed first single, the band are now ready to release their debut EP ‘Shattered Fruit’. 
 
consuumer’s forthcoming EP exhibits their unique brand of disparate and desperate noise rock, which could be equated to the sound of early-Nirvana meets Big Business meets USA Nails. Tracks such as ‘radio’ showcase their detached and frenetic guitar work which seamlessly transforms into crushing riffs that drive the controlled yet wild drum work. The entire EP is flooded with acerbic vocals, which serve up acidulous would-be adages and moments that can’t be explained as anything other than explosions of pent up rage and emotion. At other times, you can hear a much heavier set of influences such as at the end of title track ‘Shattered Fruit’ where fuzz-drenched guitars descend into  doom-inspired riffs, or in ‘axe’ where the vocals become more caustic and lean more toward the sound of Eyehategod or Unsane than that of earlier comparisons.  
 
‘Shattered Fruit’ is a masterfully vexatious collection of songs, which combines the angst and fuzz of mid-90’s grunge aligned against abreactive passages of noise. Speaking about the concept behind the EP, the band say, “I think that as a whole the EP works within themes of being young, confused and uncomfortable, both of us work jobs we hate to fund doing the thing we love and I think that the frustration of not being where we want to be and not necessarily being comfortable in our own skin made the record quite cathartic for us.” 
 
Overall ‘Shattered Fruit’ conveys the sound of a two friends that are driven to boiling point by a continuing nihilism and generational self-loathing, and by reaching this point consuumer have produced a debut which is accomplished as it is expressive. As far as introductions go ‘Shattered Fruit’ is a burst of sardonic fury that is over before you know it, but luckily this is only the start of their journey into powerful self-expression. 

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Cambridge Folk Festival presents 'City Roots' in February 2017

Festival news: 'City Roots' by Cambridge Folk Festival
Festival date: February 2017
Location: Cambridge
More info: Festival website

The headliners of the first ever City Roots festival, an expansion of Cambridge Folk Festival taking place in venues across the city, have just been announced. 
 
Internationally-renowned Malian singer songwriter Salif Keita has been confirmed as the closing headliner for the new event, joining previously announced Transatlantic Sessions as part of a varied line-up of gigs and events at venues across the city. 
 
Salif Keita, known as the Golden Voice of Africa, has carved out a distinctive musical sound, combining West African griot traditions with rock, funk and jazz and will bring the week-long City Roots festival to a triumphant close at Cambridge Corn Exchange. 
 
Transatlantic Sessions, also at the Corn Exchange, brings together musicians from the Celtic and Americana traditions for a unique evening of musical camaraderie. Shetland fiddle legend Aly Bain and dobro star Jerry Douglas again share the musical direction, and are joined by John Paul White, Tift Merritt, Eddi Reader, Dirk Powell and Jim Lauderdale. The house band featuring, among others, John Doyle, Danny Thompson, Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker is stellar enough to be the main attraction at most other folk concerts. 
 
Cambridge Junction will be presenting four gigs as part of City Roots. In J2 will be Jim Moray, the English folk singer known for pushing the boundaries of traditional music, Paolo Angelli and Derek Gripper in a daring double bill of genre-defying solo guitar, and Amy Wadge and Luke Jackson, a pairing of two generations of captivating performers. Meanwhile in J1, Mad Dog McRea will entertain with a unique mix of folk rock, gypsy jazz and bluegrass. 
 
At the Portland Arms, Green Mind Gigs will showcase the home-grown talent of Cambridge-based singer songwriter Steven James Adams, performing with his new band. Other events will be taking place in CB2, Cambridge Guildhalls, Anglia Ruskin University and the Cambridge Union, and the city centre will be taken over by specially commissioned folk and roots buskers, with more details being announced soon. 
 
Cambridge Live aims to create a culture of collaboration within the arts in Cambridge, partnering with venues and supporting artists and groups of all sizes and levels of experience. City Roots is a key part of this collaboration, building on the success and popularity of Cambridge Folk Festival to strengthen the relationship between folk and roots music and the city of Cambridge. 
 
Steve Bagnall, Managing Director of Cambridge Live, said: “We are delighted to launch this extension of Cambridge Folk Festival, working with venues and groups across the city. In its first year, we hope that City Roots proves to be a successful model, helping us to forge new, long-lasting partnerships enabling us to continue to deliver what we hope will become an annual event.” 

 

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Shiiine On Weekender - first names for 2017 event

Festival news: Shiine On 2017
Festival dates: 10-13 November 2017
Venue: Location: Butlins Minehead
More info: Festival website

Following the sell-out success of their 2015 and 2016 events, the award nominated Shiiine On Weekender announces it first names for their 2017 instalment. 

Playing the festival for the first time will be the Levellers. Earlier this year the band celebrated the 25th anniversary of their all-time classic album ‘Levelling The Land’ with a huge UK tour whilst also announcing plans for a new album in 2017. 

While recording their follow-up, ‘Poppiecock’, PWEI became immersed in sampling, drawing material from sources ranging from James Brown to Iggy Pop; soon Crabb emerged from behind his drum kit to join Mansell as co-frontman, and a drum machine was installed in his place. Honing a fusion of rock, pop, and rap that they dubbed "grebo," the Poppies kick-started a small revolution; by the release of their 1987 full-length debut, Box Frenzy, and the hit ‘There Is No Love Between Us Anymore,’ grebo -- the name quickly given the entire subculture of similarly grimy and raunchy bands -- was all the rage in the British music press. 

The legendary figure Jim Bob also makes his Minehead debut. As font man of Carter USM Jim Bob had 12 top 40 singles, 4 top ten albums (including a number one) and played over 800 gigs all over the world. The band split up in 1997 and since Carter USM, Jim Bob has released two albums and three singles with his disco-pop-punk group Jim's Super Stereoworld, four solo albums as Jim Bob. Expect plenty of Carter sing alongs and a smattering of solo material. 

The Woodentops also join the Shiiine bill for 2017. The band formed in 1983 in South London and released debut single, ‘Plenty’ on Food Records in 1984. The track received a glowing review from Morrissey in Melody Maker, and led them to signing to independent label Rough Trade Records, releasing a series of singles in 1985 and their debut album, ‘Giant’, in 1986. The album reached No. 35 on the UK Albums Chart. and lead single from the album, ‘Good Thing’, reached No. 7 on the UK Indie Chart. 

 

 

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Delicate Steve new album due 27 January 2017

Album release: 'This is Steve' by Delicate Steve
Release date: 27 January 2017
Label: Anti-records
More info: Artist website

The new album by Delicate Steve arrives in stores this January 27th. In anticipation, you can currently watch a delightfully surrealistic video for the song 'Cartoon Rock' courtesy of NPR Music. 
 
Watch the video for 'Cartoon Rock' here care of NPR. 
 
Some of the first people to recognize STEVE’s unique musical talents were renowned artists such as David Byrne, Dirty Projectors, tUnE-yArDs, Mac DeMarco, Dr. Dog, and elder statesmen like Lee Ranaldo and Built to Spill. STEVE is likely the only guitarist who has cut records with Sondre Lerche and Death Grip's Zach Hill, been handpicked to open a sold out North American tour for Tame Impala and then provided guitar for Paul Simon's new record.   
 
These wild artistic relationships came to be because STEVE happens to be one of the most talented songwriters and guitarists currently working.  But they are also a direct reflection of the person, the soul of a guy any artist or fan who’s met him will identify immediately.  It’s the same same soul that fills his songs. 
 
'This Is Steve', Delicate Steve’s first new record in four years, and first for the Anti- imprint, is an articulation of this spirit. A general communion with the people and world around him. Easy to call such things hackneyed in this cynical time, but in Steve's case, it’s very hard to separate the person from the art. It's real. It's pure. This, Is Steve. An incredible capacity to write wordless songs that are impossible not to sing along to. He works in no genre, there are no words, but there is never a question as to what he is saying.  
 
Steve produced and played all the instruments on this record. He created it as an introduction from himself to you, and named it appropriately. If there is a question as to who This Is Steve’s creator is, you'll find it imbued in these ten songs. As he has done from the start, Steve lets the music speak for itself. Without a word. 

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The Molochs 'America’s Velvet Glory' out 13 January 2017

Album release: 'America’s Velvet Glory' by The Molochs
Release date: 13 January 2017
Label: Innovative Leisure
More info: Band website

First, let’s meet Moloch. You remember him, right? The ancient god, the child eater, the demander of sacrifice, the villain in Ginsberg’s Howl (and also real life) and now the personal antagonist of singer and songwriter Lucas Fitzsimons, who named his band the Molochs because he knew he’d have to make sacrifices to get what he needed, and because he always wanted a reminder of the Ginsbergian monster he’d be fighting against. And so this is how you make a record right now: you fight for every piece, and when Moloch takes apart your relationships and career potential and leaves you sleeping on couches or living in terrifying apartments and just about depleted from awful people involving you in their awful decisions, you grab a bottle of wine (and laugh at the cliché) and put together another song. And once you do that eleven hard-won times in total, you get a record like America’s Velvet Glory: honest, urgent, desperate and fearless because of it.  
  
Fitzsimons came to his calling in an appropriately mythic way, born in a historic city not far from Buenos Aires and raised in L.A.’s South Bay—just outside of Inglewood—where he was immersed in the hip-hop hits on local radio. (Westside Connection!) The summer d before he started middle school, a close friend got an electric guitar, and Fitzsimons felt an irresistible inexplicable power: “I'd go back home and I’d look up guitar chords on the internet—even though I had no guitar—and just imagine how I WOULD play them. I was slowly getting obsessed.” When he was 12, his parents took him back to Argentina, and on the first night, he discovered a long-forgotten almost-broken classical guitar in the basement of his ancestral home: “It sounds made-up, but it’s true,” he says. “I didn't put the guitar down once that whole trip—took it with me everywhere and played and played. When I got back to L.A., I bought my first guitar practically as the plane was landing.” 
  
This started a long line of bands and a long experience of learning to perform in public, as Fitzsimons honed intentions and ideas and tried to figure out why that guitar seemed so important. After a trip to India in 2012, he returned renewed and ready to start again, scrapping his band to lead something new and uncompromising. This was the true start of the Molochs: “It didn't make any sense to not do everything exactly the way I wanted to do it,” he says. “I was so shy and introverted that singing publicly sounded like a nightmare come true. But I didn't have a choice—I heard something inside of me and I needed to be the one to express it.” 
  
The first album 'Forgetter Blues' was released with Fitzsimons’ guitarist/organist and longtime bandmate Ryan Foster in early 2013 on his own label—named after a slightly infamous intersection in their then-home of Long Beach—and was twelve songs of anxious garage-y proto-punk-y folk-y rock, Modern Lovers demos and Velvet Underground arcana as fuel and foundation both. It deserved to go farther than it did, which sadly wasn’t very far. But it sharpened Fitzsimons and his songwriting, and after three pent-up years of creativity, he was ready to burst. So he decided to record a new album in the spirit of the first, and in the spirit of everything that the Molochs made so far: “I wanted to spend less time figuring out HOW we were gonna do something and just actually do it.” 
  
The result is 'America’s Velvet Glory', recorded with engineer Jonny Bell at effortless (says Fitzsimons) sessions at Long Beach’s JazzCats studio. (Also incubator for Molochs’ new labelmates Wall of Death and Hanni El Khatib.) It starts with an anxious electric minor-key melody and ends on a last lonesome unresolved organ riff, and in between comes beauty, doubt, loss, hate and even a moments or two of peace. There are flashes of 60s garage rock—like the Sunset Strip ’66 stormer 'No More Cryin’' or the 'Little Black Egg'-style heartwarmer-slash-breaker 'The One I Love'—but like one of Foster’s and Fitzsimons’ favourites the Jacobites, the Molochs are taking the past apart, not trying to recreate it. 
  
You can hear where songs bend, where voices break, where guitars start to shiver and when strings are about to snap; on 'You And Me', you can almost hear Lou Reed’s ghost call for a solo, and on 'I Don’t Love You', you get that subway-sound guitar and find out what happens when Jonathan Richman’s G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N goes wrong. And of course there’s the charismatic chaos of bootleg basement-tape Dylan—always Dylan, says Fitzsimons—and the locked-room psychedelia of Syd Barrett, especially on 'Charlie’s Lips', Fitzsimons’ ode to—or antidote to—those times when he felt the bleakness completely: “Then a bird lands on a branch nearby, you hear leaves fluttering, you hear a child laughing … all of a sudden things don't seem so bad anymore.” 
 
So Moloch might still be out there, devouring his sacrifices, but the Molochs are still fighting, too. And that’s why Fitzsimons picked the band name—it’s so he remembers what he’s up against. He’s not celebrating the destroyer of youth and individuality and creativity, he says: “I’m just keeping him in sight so that he doesn't win.” – Christopher Ziegler  

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Bob Dylan 'No Direction Home' 10th Anniversary edition released 28 October 2016

Film release: 'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan' by Martin Scorsese
Release date: 28 October 2016
More info: No Direction Home Store

HOLLYWOOD, CA – Capitol Records is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Martin Scorsese’s award-winning documentary 'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan', by releasing a Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition of the film on October 28th that will mark its first release on Blu-ray (standard DVD is also available).  These 10th Anniversary Editions of the film all feature 2 1/2 hours of bonus and never-before-seen content, including extended scenes from the film and full-length interviews with Scorsese, Dave van Ronk and Liam Clancy.   

Both formats are also available in a Special Edition Deluxe Box that will include both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film and bonus content, as well as an exclusively produced Bob Dylan magazine that features reproductions of historical articles about the artist, plus three high-quality lithographic photo prints of Dylan, all in a deluxe portfolio. 

All configurations of 'No Direction Home' are available for pre-order at the official No Direction Home Store, and will be available for purchase on Amazon.com on October 28 and for pre-order in the weeks leading up to that date.  Retailer Best Buy will also carry an exclusive Blu-ray that includes a limited edition Bob Dylan poster with all purchases.  Digital versions of the film will be available for download at iTunes and other digital HD retailers on October 25, and will be available for rental on November 8 and streaming on November 22.  A newly-produced trailer for this release can be viewed here.  
 
Produced by Jeff Rosen (American Roots Music) and Nigel Sinclair (The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years),  along with Susan Lacy (American Masters) and Anthony Wall (BBC Arena), the 3 ½-hour film focuses on Dylan’s life and music from 1961 to 1966, detailing the artist’s journey from his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota through his emergence in the folk music scene of New York’s Greenwich Village to his controversial decision to go “electric” and his rise to the pinnacle of international fame and cultural impact.   No Direction Home: Bob Dylan features rare performance footage and interviews with artists and musicians whose lives intertwined with Dylan’s during this era, while Dylan himself talks openly and extensively about this critical period in his career in interviews shot exclusively for this film. 

The film features rare treasures from Dylan’s extensive film, tape and photograph collection, including footage from Murray Lerner’s film Festival documenting Dylan’s performances at the 1963, 1964 and 1965 Newport Folk Festivals, previously unreleased outtakes from D.A. Pennebaker’s famed 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back, and interviews with Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Maria Muldaur, and many others. 

The film met with enthusiastic audience reception and universal critical acclaim when it first premiered on PBS, BBC and other prestigious international outlets in the autumn of 2005 and simultaneously released on DVD.  Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun Times, “[The film] creates a portrait that is deep, sympathetic, perceptive and yet finally leaves Dylan shrouded in mystery, which is where he properly lives.”  Frazier Moore of Associated Press called it, “a film I recommend not only to Dylan devotees and neophytes alike, but also to anyone trying to reconnect with where America was then, and grasp where it is today.”  The Hollywood Reporter’s Glenn Abel wrote that the film was, “as good as it gets in music documentaries,” while Variety’s Phil Gallo predicted that “some of the footage will startle even the most dedicated Dyalnologists.” 

'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan'; A Martin Scorsese Picture is a production of Spitfire Pictures, Grey Water Park Production, Thirteen/WNET New York and Sikelia Productions, in co-production with Vulcan Productions, BBC and NHK. 

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Country Lips new album due 6 January 2017

Album release: 'Till The Daylight Comes' by Country Lips
Release date: 6 january 2017
More info: Band website

Merging Backwoods-style blues with honky-tonk, boot-stomping rhythms, the 8-piece powerhouse known as Country Lips deliver a sound more associated with the wild, raucous West than the grit and grunge of America’s Emerald city. The spirit of unadulterated, whiskey-fuelled country rings true however, via a rollicking sonic presence and ramshackle charm – and they take their chances siding with musical outlaws like George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, and the Louvin Brothers over the homogenous sparkle of more chart-friendly players. 

New album 'Till The Daylight Comes', recorded in Seattle and produced by Randall Dunn (Master Musicians Of Bukkake, Sunn O))), Cave Singers) is an ode to alcohol-ravaged, small-town romance, bringing to mind the destruction and debauchery that bopped and swirled around country-heavyweights like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. When playing live, it’s worth noting too, they have an absolute blast with the friendly warning that "in one set you’re likely to see five different lead singers, swapping soloists, all manner of hoots and harmonies, and (at least) one spilled beer." 
 
First up bringing the two-step and shimmy, is driving guitar number, ‘Laundromat’ – the protagonist asking for a woman’s hand-in-marriage amid the washing machines where he works. Here the lucky lady will even get her clothes washed for free if she chooses to take him up on his offer…‘Grizzly Bear Billboard’ meanwhile, gains a lot of impact via its schmaltzy, electric-guitar shimmer, presenting us with a wistful, sexed-up tale of a past destructive romance – as ridiculous in its forthrightness (“we were going at it like a demolition derby”) as it is in its air of regret. 
 
Songs like ‘Reason I’m Drinking’ and ‘Bar Time’ sound lovelorn, telling tales of lonely nights drinking their paycheques at the bar and are heightened by unashamedly forlorn lyrics; ‘The only friends I have are up there on that shelf’ for example. Even so, all are delivered with a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that can’t help but raise a smile. 
 
'Til The Daylight Comes' often conjures up the well-worn tropes of heartland-Americana – yet these lazy bartenders, low-hanging lights and sweating beer bottles sit dangerously alongside pool cue clashes, cowboy cacophony and kicked-over bar stalls. Leave all notions of modern country behind and come join the Country Lips party now! 
 
Country Lips are: 
 
Austin Jacobsen – bass, Trevor Pendras - electric guitar, vocals, Miles Burnett - drums, vocals, Hamilton Boyce - electric guitar, vocals, Alex Leake - acoustic guitar, vocals, Jonah Byrne – fiddle, Kenny Aramaki – keys and Gus Clark - accordion, mandolin
 

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The Blue Aeroplanes new album out 6 January 2017

Album release: ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ by The Blue Aeroplanes
Release date: 6 January 2017
More info: Band website

The Blue Aeroplanes' unique amalgam of rock, folk, poetry, punk, dance and art has been an acknowledged influence on a wide range of bands including REM and Radiohead. Combining pop smarts with serious weirdness, they have released almost thirty albums on various labels, several of which have charted in the UK Top 40 and the US Alternative Top 10. 
 
Their 1990 album 'Swagger' was 'Rock Album Of The Year' in many publications including The Sunday Times. Ex-members have gone on to play with Massive Attack, Suede, Placebo, Goldfrapp and Primal Scream, while for many years they shared multi-instrumentalist Ian Kearey with folk legends the Oyster Band. They remain the only group to have been banned from The Rainbow Lounge, Lemmy's favourite hangout, and been invited to play at the Hay-On-Wye Literary Festival.  
 
Now comes the release of the band's twelfth studio album, 'Welcome, Stranger!', recorded by the longest-lasting Aeroplanes line up to date. Original members Gerard Langley (poet/singer), and John Langley (drummer), sometimes with Wojtek Dmochowski (dancer), are joined by Gerard Starkie, formerly the main man of Witness and an Aeroplane since 2006, Chris Sharp (bassist and owner of The Fleece venue in Bristol), a band member since 2008, and the more recent additions Bec Jevons (guitarist and front-person of I Destroy) and guitarist Mike Youe. John and Mike also play with Bristol punk legend (and ex-Aeroplane) Rita Lynch, while Gerard is also Head Of Songwriting at BIMM Bristol, where he was responsible for guiding the early steps of George Ezra, among others. 
 
The Blue Aeroplanes will be touring the UK in January 2017.

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Whenyoung new single ‘Actor’ due 25 November 2016

Single release: ‘Actor’ by Whenyoung
Release date: 25 November 2016
More info: Band Soundcloud

Irish trio Whenyoung have announced their second single 'Actor', which will impact on 25th November.

 'Actor' is the follow-up to debut single See How They Run and is an immediate burst of melodic rock ‘n’ roll with a swarm of unruly jangly guitars, commanding drums and sweet yet punchy vocals. Despite an untainted youthful sound, lyrically the song has a profound meaning. The band say; “'Actor' is about contorting your character to fit into a disfigured view of the perfect self in order to belong. It's about acting every day and projecting artificial images of yourself through social media and in real life interactions with others. This helps to reassure you that you are important, relevant, interesting and necessary but behind it all there’s a sinking feeling. It’s not you. It’s an act. It’s tiring.” 

“These days we’re all doing it. It seems to be essential but there has to be another way, an honest existence.” 

Whenyoung are Aoife Power (Vocals/Bass), Niall Burns (Guitar) and Andrew Flood (Drums) who originate from Limerick in Ireland but are currently based in London.

First meeting as teenagers, sneaking into the only indie bar of their city in Ireland, they bonded over cheap vodka and The Velvet Underground. Soon after, Niall moved to London, with Andrew and Aoife quickly following, and here they began writing songs together.

After a handful of packed out London shows, Whenyoung have just announced a further date at Shacklewell Arms on 24th November.  

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UB40 'Unplugged' and Greatest Hits' out 18 November 2016

Album release: 'Unplugged' and Greatest Hits' by UB40
Release date: 18 November 2016
Label: UMC
More info: Band website

As founding members of Britain’s biggest reggae band UB40, singer Ali Campbell, second vocalist Astro and keyboardist Mickey Virtue topped the UK singles chart on three occasions and sold 70 million records as they took their smooth yet rootsy musical blend to all corners of the globe. But, in all their years of stellar success, the trio never transferred the spirit of UB40 into an acoustic setting. Now with ‘Unplugged’ they breathe new life into an intoxicating mix of timeless covers and classic UB40 originals.

“This is the first time we’ve taken iconic UB40 tunes and done them in an acoustic style,” says Ali. “It all sounds very fresh. It’s completely unlike anything we’ve done before.”

‘Unplugged’ offers an inventive new spin on UB40’s early gems plus the huge hits with which they later wooed the world. Among the highlights on the album is a new version of ‘I Got You Babe’, featuring Ali’s 22-year-old daughter Kaya Campbell, who sings the lines originally performed by Chrissie Hynde when the track topped the UK charts in 1985.

That pop standard is one of four number one singles on ‘Unplugged’, which also contains new takes of ‘(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You’, ‘Red Red Wine’ – complete with a fresh Astro talk-over ‘in an acoustic stylee’ – and a new version of ‘Baby Come Back’ featuring Pato Banton, the Birmingham reggae star who took the song to the top of the charts with UB40 in 1994.

A clutch of vibrant originals have also been given the acoustic treatment, including ‘Food For Thought’ and ‘Tyler’, both from UB40’s debut album ‘Signing Off’, and the 1981 single ‘One In Ten’. Those songs were written in the harsh political climate of the early Eighties, but their social concerns seem no less relevant today. The new arrangements hark back to the past, too: after all, ‘Signing Off’ was recorded on a simple, four-track tape machine in the tiny studio of producer Bob Lamb in 1980.

Another original to be given a fresh sheen is 1986’s ‘Rat In Mi Kitchen’, with Astro again providing talk-over vocals. “That song was based on a real incident,” recalls Ali. “Astro came over to my house in Balsall Heath to talk about lyrics, but I didn’t want to talk about the band, as I had a rat hiding behind my washing machine! Some people thought it was about the government of Margaret Thatcher, but it had nothing to do with politics.”

With Mickey adding upright piano and the arrangements fleshed out with shuffling percussion and Ali’s melodica, other covers given a makeover include Lord Creator’s ‘Kingston Town’, Eric Donaldson’s ‘Cherry Oh Baby’, Winston Groovy’s ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ and the Chi-Lites’ ‘Homely Girl’.

‘Unplugged’ maintains the giddy momentum that Ali, Astro and Mickey built up on 2014’s ‘Silhouette’, the first studio album to feature all three members since Astro signed up in November 2013. With Ali, closely followed by Mickey, having left the original UB40 after thirty years in 2008, the reintegration of Astro consolidated a set-up that has now grown into an 11-piece touring ensemble, complete with a three-piece horn section. 

Since reuniting three years ago, Ali, Mickey and Astro have developed into a formidable touring outfit. Their world tours have included visits to North and South America, Nigeria, South Africa, Dubai and Papua New Guinea. 2016 has seen them return to the States, play Australia and visit the vineyards of New Zealand for a ‘Red Red Winery Tour’. They also made an emotional return to UK in April, when they performed songs from the first two ‘Labour Of Love’ albums on an arena tour that included sell-out shows at London’s O2 Arena, the Brighton Centre and the Barclaycard Arena in their native Birmingham.

To celebrate the release of ‘Unplugged + Greatest Hits’ the band have partnered with Eminent Life to launch a limited edition ‘Red Red Wine’ Bordeaux Supérieur. Says Ali, “We have always wanted to release our own red wine and we’re very excited to be finally doing this!” Jerome Jacober, founder of Eminent Life adds “It’s been a pleasure and honour working with Ali, Astro and Mickey to create the exclusive wine which is so befitting of the great track ‘Red Red Wine’.” ‘Red Red Wine’, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, is available to purchase now.

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