Review of the year – Iain Lauder

My favourite gig of the year goes to a show which saw one of the lowest attendances I had been to all year, the super smooth whispered Americana of the still unknown Sam Evian. Announcing himself to Brighton at this year’s The Great Escape festival, the New York-based band came back to play The Hope & Ruin with their second album in tow and gave one of the most audibly pleasing, captivating and damn right impressive shows I’ve seen in years. It reminded me of a similar situation when seeing Andy Shauf in an empty Prince Albert pub. The band’s musicianship was immense, the songs incredibly strong, and they somehow managed to sound like so many of the great rock acts from yesteryear but stay sounding totally unique. I cannot wait for the next time Sam Evian comes through our city to perform in front of a bigger audience.

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Yak – The Haunt, Brighton – 2nd November 2018

As live bands go, you don’t get much more bang for your buck than Yak. Our first experience of the London band was at 234 Fest 2015, when lead singer Oliver Henry Burslem climbed up to the ceiling of the Green Door Store and dangled from the steel beam above the stage whilst screeching his rock’n’roll tones – memorable to say the least. Having released the fantastic debut Alas Salvation LP in 2016 and having featured on our Brightonsfinest Volume 2 compilation in 2017, the trio came to The Haunt for what should only be a show of epic proportions; especially with the almighty Sons Of Raphael in support.

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Sam Evian – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 24th October 2018

With two stunning albums to boot on Saddle Creek, both of which have somehow seemingly gone under the radar, surely it won’t be long before the talents of Sam Evian are recognised among musos alike. Brainchild of former Celestial Shore guitarist Sam Owen, a singer-songwriter/producer from New York, the band’s super smooth whispered Americana sound takes strong influences from some of the American guitar greats from the 60s/70s, holding a strong emotional retrospective edge to each track. We first came across Sam Evian at their astounding performance at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar over The Great Escape Festival 2018, so we were thrilled when we heard they were coming back to Brighton.

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WOMAD Festival 2018 – Charlton Park, Wiltshire

Music from far and wide – 130 countries to be precise – descended on WOMAD Festival (World of Music, Art & Dance) to turn the Earl of Suffolk’s beautiful Charlton Park estate in Wiltshire into a musical Mecca. Now in its 36th year, the four-day event holds a reputation for being one of the politest, most relaxed and feel-good festivals out there.

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JAZZ RE:FEST – Brighton Dome – 22nd July 2018

Jazz Re:freshed can be seen as the glue to London’s incredible jazz scene, having run a weekly jazz residency there for the past 15 years. Beyond that, they’ve hosted jazz stages at festivals, developed an already impressive record label, issued an annual print magazine and are now touching bases internationally as well. They’ve situated themselves at the vanguard of promoting the prolific UK jazz scene abroad by hosting showcases at SXSW, New York, Paris, Brazil, New Orleans and the like. JAZZ RE:FEST is an annual celebration of the cutting edge jazz scene that they champion, which we’re lucky to welcome to Brighton Dome for the first time this year, after having taken place at the Southbank Centre for the past five years.

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Brainchild Festival 2018

Having been fortunate enough to experience a lot of festivals over the years, Brainchild is one that comes with its own unique vibe that few can replicate. I can only liken it to the atmosphere that you feel at Glastonbury Festival, where although you are in fields with lots of people you have never met, it’s welcoming, open and relaxed. You feel totally at ease, as if it was your own backyard surrounded by people you love. A lot of this is down to the DIY ethos of the festival: Brainchild is volunteer-powered and not-for-profit. This means that the people who are behind the festival aren’t getting paid for their amazing efforts, while all the acts and artists are forgoing a big pay packet (which they’d get at other festivals) for smaller fees in order to be a part of the festival’s special idealology.

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Orbital – Brighton Racecourse – 29th June 2018

With the Orbital brothers, Paul and Phil Hartnoll, still having ties in Brighton, a big old party at Brighton Racecourse, on top of Whitehawk Hill, was more than enough to get the city excited. What made this show doubly as exciting, was that this tour was to celebrate the release of their ninth studio album, Monsters Exist, giving us a chance to hear the new material for the first time ahead of its September 2018 release.

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Brighton Music Conference 2018 – Brighton Dome

From Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th April, the glitterati of the UK’s electronic scene and guests from further afield ascended on Brighton – a city that had a strong electronic scene for itself back in the 90s with the likes of Norman Cook, John Digweed and Cristian Vogel putting us on the dance music map. Now in its fifth year, the UK’s foremost electronic music conference, Brighton Music Conference (BMC), took over the city for three days of talks, brand showcases and networking events.

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Demob Happy – Interview 2018

Demob Happy are back – and my word they are back! The have brought with them Holy Doom, their sophomoric effort which features more of the sleaze, the swagger, the fuzz and the hooks that we’ve come to adore. The Brighton via Newcastle act have been together ten years now and it feels like they have just got into their stride with an album that is sure to be high up on our Best Of Year list. A lot has changed for these dirty rockers since 2015 when their seminal debut LP, Dream Soda, came out. The main thing being they have gone from a quartet to a trio. We questioned Matthew Marcantonio, when in Norway on a European tour with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, about their journey to this new album.

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Hinds – Interview 2018

Hinds’ journey of conquering the world is still on course, turbo charged by the release of their second album I Don’t Run. The infectious attitude, personality and appeal of Hinds is a difficult thing not to get sucked up in, especially when you are making brilliant fun music to go alongside it. The success of the Madrid-based quartet is something we have never seen from a Spanish band, so we questioned guitarist and vocalist Ana Perrote about this crazy dream they are living.

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