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Live Reviews

Demob Happy – The Haunt, Brighton
Demob Happy

The Haunt, Brighton
Swimming Tapes – Green Door Store, Brighton
Swimming Tapes

Green Door Store, Brighton

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Album Reviews

Josh T. Pearson - The Straight Hits!

Josh T. Pearson – The Straight Hits!

Despite a recording career that spans more than 20 years, The Straight Hits! is only the second solo release for Josh T. Pearson and third overall. Ironically for a man who has released just three albums in 17 years, it was written in a whirlwind three day period and is a big departure from what his fans will have come to expect. First arriving on the scene in the mid-1990s with his band Lift To Experience, one single release contained more creativity than many bands generate in an entire career with their 2001 album The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. Following the band’s rapid dissolution shortly after, Pearson seemed to disappear off the radar as he toured (usually as support) without entering the recording studio until his 2011 solo debut Last Of The Country Gentlemen. A mournful, stately yet painfully fragile piece of work, it earned universally rave reviews around the world. And then, nothing. Until now.

Laura Veirs - The Lookout

Laura Veirs – The Lookout

The unassuming, academia-leaning singer/songwriter didn't seriously start making music until her early 20s, and her career for the most part has been a slow burn affair, starting with the release of the very low key self-titled debut album at the tail end of the 20th century. Since then she has released eight studio albums, Veirs gradually accruing underground cult status, but never threatening the mainstream. That is, until she collaborated with k.d. lang and Neko Case for a self-titled album release a couple of years ago. It dented the Top 30, in the process presenting Veirs to new audiences.

A Place To Bury Strangers - Pinned

A Place To Bury Strangers – Pinned

An album which envisions nothing but dreariness and harrowing garage vibes, A Place To Bury Strangers have certainly brought forth a new sound with their fifth studio album, Pinned. This is one 12-piece record which will heighten your senses through twisted instrumentals, eerie vocal work and a DIY pattern which certainly captures the insanity of their music wonderfully.

The Damned - Evil Spirits

The Damned – Evil Spirits

Forget Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols and The Clash, Londoners The Damned were the original punk band. They were the first punk-rock band from the United Kingdom to release a single, (the excellent ‘New Rose’, which should top any list of the best ever debut singles), the first to release an album, (Damned Damned Damned) and the first UK punk band to tour the United States. Not only that, but they’re also one of the only punk bands left, both on the live circuit and in the studio. Their latest record, Evil Spirits, their first for ten years since 2008’s So, Who’s Paranoid?, and first with bassist Paul Gray since 1982’s Strawberries, was produced by the legendary Tony Visconti and funded for the most part by the people through Pledge Music. The punk aesthetic is very much still alive, people!

Abi Wade - Beautifully Astray

Abi Wade – Beautifully Astray

Written across several locations in Brighton, and then recorded in a set of diverse locations (fishing boats, tap-dancing clubs), Beautifully Astray marks the startling debut for Abi Wade - another fine talent to spring from the deep well of Love Thy Neighbour. It is a haunting piece of work that casts its eye over the wide spectrum of human nature, all the while showing a true mastery of the use of space and silence amongst a wider world of noise.

Manic Street Preachers – Resistance Is Futile

Manic Street Preachers – Resistance Is Futile

There’s a cyclical nature to the way the Manic Street Preachers make their albums, the musical equivalent of two steps forward, one step back, as they alternate between innovation, expansion and consolidation. Resistance Is Futile finds the band in consolidation mode, harking back to their triumphant ‘96 album Everything Must Go, whilst incorporating newer sonic elements added to their palette on the last two records. It is the band’s 13th studio album, which is incredible really when you consider their history. From their bold early claims of splitting after going platinum with their first album, to the disappearance of firebrand lyricist Richey Edwards and the attendant mental health problems which wore heavily on the remaining band members. However, if they were ever really going to split I would have thought the commercial (and arguably creative) slump that followed their triumphant late-90s albums might have provided an opportunity to fade quietly from view.

Isaac Gracie - Isaac Gracie

Isaac Gracie – Isaac Gracie

Sobering lyricism and a voice that will rival even the most established of singers, Isaac Gracie is one new name on the scene about to make an enormous impact. Already racking up millions of streams with his previous single releases, Isaac’s debut album fully introduces us to a soft artist who has so much to share and is committed to proving that he is not a name to just brush over.

Confidence Man - Confident Music For Confident People

Confidence Man – Confident Music For Confident People

Confidence Man, the Australian four-piece who have vowed to save pop music, have been winning plaudits all over the world with their charismatic, dynamic and, well, confident live shows that usually descent into weird and wonderful surrealistic worlds. Their debut record, Confident Music For Confident People, continues this foray into pop eccentricity with an excellently produced assemblage of perfectly formed, bite-size chunks of addictive pop music you’ll be listening to all year. Like their live show, but small enough to fit in your pocket, it’s one of the most fun 40 minutes you’re likely to have this year.

Fenne Lily - On Hold

Fenne Lily – On Hold

Writing songs since she was 15, the young Bristolian Fenne Lily already sounds familiar, such is her deep, mature yet fragile and quavering timbre that could be the voice of someone much older. Sharon Van Etten, Laura Marling, and Lana Del Rey are obvious touchstones, as are the melancholy tones of old school folkies such as Vashti Bunyan.

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