Pixx is the moniker of 21-year-old London songwriter Hannah Rodgers. At age 19 the Brit School alumni signed to the legendary 4AD records and won over praise from critics with her debut EP Fall In back in 2015. The Age of Anxiety is certainly a strange album. Maybe I just haven’t paid any attention to pop music for years but it’s a hard album to pigeon-hole and that’s probably the point. I’d feel safe saying it’s an electronic orientated pop album. It’s an album full of layering textures and experimentation with production and synthesisers. All the songs are structured in a very pop-orientated way making the album an easy and very enjoyable listen.
A break in the glum weather has finally hit for Brighton, the suns out, the wind has settled. So what could be better than an evening of wrenching heartbreak songs courtesy of Luke Sital-Singh? I need myself grounded back in reality.
The Hope tonight is packed and the room soon becomes sweltering. The stage has been fitted with atmospheric lightbulbs, which add a nice touch to the set. As Luke later quips, “I thought I’d make this a bit of a show”. Tonight is not short of quips by any means, Luke has a self-aware humour about his music, at points it borders on self-deprecating but the cheers and applause don’t lie.
Tonight in Camden there is a huge amount of excitement from the audience. The Cribs are playing to celebrate ten years of their Men’s Needs album. Everyone is tense with anticipation and just waiting for their heroes to come on stage. Heroes really isn’t an exaggeration either, the crowd has clearly grown up with the band and they would’ve been the sound of people’s nights out, their summers and their transition into adulthood. The Cribs are a band that have always had a huge effect on their fan base, affecting how they dress, how they talk and act. They’ve always been about authenticity and rejecting false ideas and it’s this keeping to being genuine that makes them so appealing. They don’t need any outside approval and they’ve got nothing to prove, they don’t need to. They’ve done this on their own and more importantly on their terms.
I’d first heard Thee Oh Sees back in 2012 when I was working at a record shop in London and they released their Putrifiers ii album. The album had gripped me from its opening track ‘Wax Face’. It was a sound I’d been wanting to hear, I knew something like that was out there but I’d never been able to find it. My limited NME knowledge of UK indie bands didn’t come anywhere near to the sound I’d been longing for. It had sparked something in the angsty teenager in me at the time, and after Thee Oh Sees, everything I listened to needed to sound like them. It led to me discovering artists like Ty Segal and Jay Retard. From there, it was these bands that shaped the musical world around me. You can imagine the painful five year wait until I would finally get to see the band that started it all for me.
A lazy stereotype of Brighton’s music scene would be something like indoor buskers and student bands clad in vintage gear. However scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find Brighton’s music scene is rich and vast. Ocean Wisdom is a perfect example of this. The Brighton rapper has been going from strength to strength and received mass acclaim. His delivery is fast and hard and his lyrics expose real truths about living in the modern city. He is passionate, aggressive and sometimes comical. The Brighton Festival celebrates all aspects of the city’s creative scene and leaves no stone unturned in what it celebrates going on in and around Brighton. Ocean Wisdom is playing his biggest homecoming show to date at the Brighton Dome; headlining tonight, supported by fellow High Focus artists Four Owls and Jam Baxter.
It’s a hard trick to pull off what Alex G has done with Rocket. Under the moniker Sandy, Alex G has put together an album that explores and experiments creating an eclectic mix of songs that all fit under the same roof. Rocket truly shows what you can do with an album and how you can take several ideas seemingly don’t fit and put them all together with the right stitching. Rocket is an album that goes to several places, starting with warm and sweet acoustic led pop songs and growing into something aggressive, experimental and electronic. Rocket is exciting, fresh and original and demonstrates true artistry and craft; it’s almost irritating that he’s only a year or so older than myself.
From the birthplace of both John Martyn and Jamie Woon, New Malden's Luke Sital-Singh seems to be part of an unlikely tradition of singer songwriters from this unassuming corner of South West London. But it was a combination of Brighton and Damian Rice that largely determined Sital-Singh's path to becoming a singer songwriter.
Forsaking university, he instead enrolled at BIMM Brighton, and hooked up with Julian Deane, who continues to be his manager. Whether or not he now regrets not pursuing the study of English, I don’t know. But certainly things looked very promising for him when he released his debut album The Fire Inside on Parlophone, a work that showcased his melody-rich songs, that veered from the intimate to the epic, underpinned by his big and soulful voice, not unlike Paul Young. Certainly, as indicated by the title, there was an air of optimism throughout, although tempered by what’s-it-all-about musings.
It’s a modest crowd tonight at the Hoops’ show. It’s surprising, the US band have received a lot of praise for their recent album Routines and given the hype behind them you might anticipate a sell-out show. It’s been one of the nicest days in Brighton we’ve had in a while. Taking a break from the grey misery, the city is tranquil and bright. The band are hovering outside the venue drinking in the setting sun, smiling and saying hello to people nearby. In a way, today is the perfect setting for Hoops. Their music is bright, tingeing towards the psychedelic. They have notes of bands like Pond and Unknown Mortal Orchestra and their music sounds vigorous and free.
Liverpool duo Her’s have been knocking about for a few years now. They’re a name you'll probably recognise if you’ve been keeping watch over the indie scene recently. Their debut Songs of Her’s may fly under the radar for some, however it lays the foundations for a very promising future for the band. The two-piece consists of Steven Fitzpatrick, vocals and guitar, with Audun Laading on bass. They balance each other incredibly well, whilst the guitar and vocals sound delicate and thin they are countered by grooving thick basslines which grounds their sound perfectly. Songs of Her’s captures these elements and acts as a snapshot for a very promising band.
The album opens with ‘Dorothy’ which reveals a clear Smiths influence. Their guitar riffs and bass-playing have all those Marr and Rourke components, tied together by a drum machine and crooning vocals. It’s a great introduction to the band and the song is full of ideas which get explored further on the album. The basslines provided by Audun Laading are sublime and tie the song together very well, setting the tone for the rest of the album.
It’s quite a journey for The Hot 8 Brass Band to come from New Orleans and grace our modest shores in Brighton, although the band have history over here and are celebrating being on Brighton’s incredibly renowned Tru Thoughts label. If you think of brass bands you’ll hear the sound of summer street parties or carnivals where crowds of adults, teens and children dance around spilling various drinks. Or maybe that’s my own narrow-mindedness and ignorance of how brilliant these bands can be. The Hot 8 are so much more than that. They blend elements of funk, jazz and hip-hop and keep that fun side to their music but there’s also introspection added to the mix, definitely more than a disposable summer sound.