In the short time since their last performance in Brighton back in February 2015, Bear’s Den have had what they described as a “conscious untripling” with founding member Joey Haynes leaving the group, released their second album Red Earth & Pouring Rain and embarked on a worldwide tour. Tonight, they returned as worthy headliners at a sold out Brighton Dome with fantastic support from Matthew And The Atlas, and Patrick James.
The rich and sultry sound of Palace has earned them well-deserved recognition in their short life as a band. The friends, consisting of Leo Wyndham (vocals, guitar), Rupert Turner (guitar), Will Dory (bass) and Matt Hodges (drums), have certainly taken their time in producing their first album, and their reasoning for this clearly comes in the form of perfectionism.
The London born lads had only one live show under their belt when they began to be whispered about in excitable tones. Their first EP, Chase the Light, released in 2014, lead to Radio One airplay and supporting Jamie T. All of this was rather impressive for a band with such a small back catalogue with their well anticipated début album So Long Forever begin released this November. Everything this band has released so far has been refreshingly bluesy, drenched in heartfelt sorrow and full of promise.
So Long Forever opens with lead track ‘Break the Silence’. Premiered on Annie Mac’s show for Radio One on the 26th of May, this single is already a favourite on many indie playlists all over the world. Palace have the ability to create inoffensive soft rock that's easy on the senses but still overwhelmingly unique. ‘Break the Silence’ is a perfect example of this, a traditionally indie hook with a perfect soft percussion and fret-bending riffs. ‘Break the Silence’ gets the album off to an exciting start and is certainly one of the bands strongest pieces.
With the second track, the boys have done well choosing ‘Bitter’. It lifts the beat of the album a few notches, with less delicate undertones than its opening counterpart. ‘Bitter’ does well to compliment Wyndham’s vocals with warm, bluesy guitar riffs. The deep reassuring reverb brings the listener to a comfortable embrace with that classic Palace sound while creating a foot-tapping hook.
‘Live Well’ continues a playful and mischievous atmosphere with intricate, layered guitars over a chirpy, slightly more fast paced melody, unlike Palace’s usual lullaby-esque sound. Wyndham’s vocals swell in and out of a gorgeously lavish riff. Longing lyrics maintain the sorrowful theme that stains everything that Palace produce, but work gracefully with the tempo of the song. It appears that even when Palace put together a song that has your head bopping a little faster, they still know exactly how to pull at your heartstrings and ‘Live Well’ is a perfect example of this and definitely a favourite on the album.
‘Family’ sits right at the peak of So Long Forever’s melancholic journey and serves as an intermission. An elegant and dainty riff rests gently behind Wyndham’s vocals. This track definitely serves as a platform for Wyndham to fully showcase his mesmerising vocal range and tone. The track is wistful, technically impressive and teases your soul with a dreamy caress.
‘Have Faith’ was the second song previewed from Palace’s début album and is another example of the group's ability to mix melancholy with the ingredients of a classic indie anthem. The track is distinct, rich and undeniably memorable.
The penultimate track on the album, ‘Holy Smoke’, perfectly simmers down the energetic atmosphere left behind with ‘Have Faith’ and surrounding tracks. It feels as though Palace have really thought about the emotive journey that So Long Forever can offer, and while it peaks at track number 7, it equally troughs towards the end. ‘Holy Smoke’ is an incredible ode to the band's potential to be diverse. Leo’s vocals weave in between an ever-changing drum beat and gentle, pulsating riffs. What is particularly special about this track is the band’s stunning songwriting and lyrical ability. Amongst the rest of So Long Forever, ‘Holy Smoke’ is an enchauting example of Palace’s ability to create catchy indie riffs while maintaining their haunting, unique and encapsulating sound which is always current, whatever they produce.
Palace have done well to create an album that beautifully combines their original, more angsty sound with impressive development and experimentation. So Long Forever takes the listener on an emotive voyage that reflects Palace’s journey as a group, from friends to a fully functioning, promising and fantastic band.
Read our recent New Music Q&A with Palace HERE.
Palace come to Brighton on 21 November to play Patterns – get your ticket HERE.
Big Box of Chocolates doesn’t give much away about the sound of an upcoming album, and it definitely doesn’t mirror the velvety rich sound I was expecting to come from Hooton Tennis Club’s second album. Scuzzy guitars and unhinged tunes make this album a toast to mid-twenties angst and middle of the line indie.
The Merseyside boys’ creation is a playful narration of their personal lives and the characters within it. Each track brings an eccentric character to life and is filled with effervescence. ‘Bootcut Jimmy the G’ is the first individual to feature on the album and see himself beautifully depicted through tongue-in-cheek lyricism and lo-fi guitar riffs. The album is storytelling at its best – light hearted, gently novel and set to a fuzzy, tune-filled backdrop.
‘Katy-Anne Bellis’ is a perfect example of the Liverpool boys’ ability to illustrate even the simplest of tales into gorgeous four-minute tracks to bob your head to. Written about the lads’ friend who has moved away, and set around begging her to visit at least once, the track brings a sense of nostalgia with its charming guitar riffs and sweet lyrics. The concept is sentimental, but the sound mirrors a genre of alternative rock that was at its pinnacle in 2008, when bands such as Lightspeed Champion and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly dominated the scene. This couples a sense of indie adolescence with a technical maturity seen in the band's catchy and well-structured melodies, a perfect combination for an easy to listen to and joyful album.
‘Meet Me at the Molly Bench’ is another track on the album that clearly reflects the band’s ability to create an appreciable album without overworking themselves. The track encompasses traits from slacker rock-esque bands in its production, and a happy-go-lucky melody suggests that, while these guys are slowly cracking their way into the mainstream industry, they’re not trying too hard. With a percussive bike bell jangling in the back of this track, the enjoyment of making this album can really be felt. According to the foursome, they locked themselves away in Helmsdale, “drank copious amounts of tea, became bird watchers and whiskey tipplers” while recording.
The album ends with a bizarre ode to BBC radio presenter Lauren Laverne in ‘Lauren I’m in Love’; “Lauren sends her love to lift my Monday blues, and now the news / All through the day she keeps me company,” and a fabulously melancholic track ‘Frostbitten in Fen Ditton.’ This wistful half-ballad romantically combines melancholy with optimism. Its capacity to couple disillusionment with romanticism and quiet hope make it the perfect example of this album’s endless charisma.
Big Box of Chocolate is an allegiance to this band’s boyish enthusiasm and magnetic friendship, wittingly using relatable narratives to sell a 90s-esque, slacker rock, loveable 12 track journey through Liverpool and the boys’ personal thoughts and feelings.
Two Door Cinema Club’s latest album, Gameshow, certainly makes for a challenging listen. Although the band have well and truly stepped away from their comfort zone, a move that has been encouraged following their last two albums, their new release is professional yet disorderly. The success of their 2012 release The Beacon has clearly led long term friends and band-mates Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday and Kevin Baird to a crossroads that has unwittingly manifested itself in the form of 80s synth pop. Whether this works with the legacy Two Door Cinema Club have created in the past is questionable.
The album does not stray shockingly far from their usual sound, maintaining the jittery, foot-tapping electro pop that made them so popular back in 2012. Indeed, 80s nostalgia and disco almost sits adjacent to the atmosphere created with The Beacon, partly explaining the conversion. However, the band appear to have not tackled the change quite as well as other bands who have attempted to incorporate this era into their new releases.
It’s not surprising that the band have refocused their efforts in a different direction considering they have been surrounded by criticism regarding their lack of development and direction in the last two albums. Despite Tourist History and Beacon churning out indie pop hits like 'Someday' and 'Undercover Martyn', there were only so many times the band could recycle their money-making riffs.
'Are We Ready? (Wreck)' is a peppy opener to the album but does little to stand out, followed by their anthem-ready single 'Bad Decisions'. You can certainly tell the band have drawn influences from Bowie and Prince in this falsetto-heavy track. Alex Trimble’s lyrics lightly touch on the issue of the internet and the information overload it has created. It appears as though social commentary is a theme lying discretely behind most tracks on this neo-disco creation. 'Ordinary' focuses on a criticism of the celebrity world and suggests that anonymity is the way forward. It feels almost as though Trimble and the band have decided to illustrate the reasoning and feelings behind their 2012 hiatus in this album, although it seems strange that it has been done to a backdrop of synth pop.
Generally the album lacks personality, however, their 80s influences prove themselves relatively positive through the curved guitar solos in 'Fever' and 'Invincible'. These tracks bring the feel of the album up a little and definitely add some zest but, unfortunately, don’t deliver the hard-hitting indie pop vibes that made the band famous or come close to anything that could be considered a hit.
All in all, it feels as though Two Door Cinema Club have worked hard to create something that reflects the creative crossroads that the group have been on. It is admirable that they have attempted to change direction. The hard work and professionalism is obvious in this album. Unfortunately the sound they have created just doesn’t quite work. While their cliché indie pop was samey and safe, it was also undeniably catchy and kept the band’s legacy alive and well. This album seems inconsistent, their move towards 80s disco had potential, but is not memorable enough and the result is relatively uninteresting.
The atmosphere at The Haunt was already electrifying even before the support group Ratbag took to the stage to produce a rousing and vibrant performance which upped the temperature even more and spoke volumes for their own unique sound. Vita on lead vocals and accordian was visually captivating and soon had the audience in full swing and limbering up for the main event. Although I was not familiar with their songs they proved to not only be the perfect support but a very strong act in their own right.
“We, um, we brought you some stuff so you don’t get bored in here. I made you a new mixtape, I made you a new mixtape, I made you a new mixtape, miiiixxxxxxtape, there’s some stuff on there I really think you’ll like!” Is the immortal opening to DJ Yoda’s Stranger Things themed mixtape and live set. This basically told everyone at Concorde 2 all we needed to know about the live set he is about to thrown down. But let’s rewind an hour or so before we delve into the evening’s main event.
Sunday night is an odd one for a gig. If you’ve had a busy weekend all you really want to do is stay in and watch Marseille vs. FC Nantes on TV. But when the line-up is strong, you don’t mind missing a game, that on paper, will be one way traffic for Marseille, so with a happy heart at making the right decision, and a warm jacket on, I embarked for the Green Door Store for Kanzi’s new Sketches, Early Summer EP launch night.
Articles by Anna Claxton