The cinematic nature of Low Island’s music is enticing to say the very least. Having been getting airplay on BBC Radio 1 and 6Music, as well as featuring on all the right new music playlists on Spotify, their emotional melodies and hypnotic rhythms are creating a wave of anticipation for what is to come for this new band. They are an exciting prospect indeed – especially after the release of a short film to go alongside the release of their debut EP Just About Somewhere, which perfectly depicts the claustrophobic nature of big cities and the importance of finding your own space in them. Brightonsfinest had to find out more about the band, their ideas and their future, so we got in contact with Jamie (vocals/guitars/keys/electronics) and Carlos (vocals/guitar/keys) from Low Island to question them about their music.
After sell out shows around the UK and sharing the stage with the likes of Nas and MF Doom, there is no doubt Benjamin Coyle-Larner (aka Loyle Carner) is leading the way in UK hip-hop. Staying away from the gangster posture hip-hop has become known for, Loyle Carner’s songs are an honest poetic insight into the relatable life of the London rapper. Instead of harsh aggressive beats, his mellow music takes heavy influences from a jazz inspinspired east-coast hip-hop scene. Together, the relationship between his creative lyrics and expressive beats has created one of the best debut album we have seen in the recently release Yesterday’s Gone. We spoke to the rapper to find out more about him, his music and the GOMA Collective project he has helped set up.
Why is Omar Lye-Fook not seen as one of the most important artists to come out of the UK? He’s been in the game for over 30 years and has had endorsements from the likes of Erykah Badu and Angie Stone. Maxwell cites Omar as one of his influences, Stevie Wonder said, “When I grow up, I wanna be like Omar”, and Roy Ayers even had the crowd chanting his name in a recent Brighton date. This innovator of soul music should be selling out the biggest and most impressive concert halls around, nevertheless, the truthful and humble nature of Omar’s talent not only comes out in his music but it puts him up with the very best of his illustrious peers.
Is it grunge, alt-rock or indie? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the unique sound Mindofalion resonate certainly holds itself high with the very best music coming out of Brighton’s vibrant scene. With brothers Archie and Jack Brewis-Lawes joining forces with Sam Evans, the trio have entered a new chapter bringing with them an exciting live show that they will be showcasing in January at the Green Door Store. Ahead of the release of their first ever music video for ’Machina’, I caught up with Mindofalion to find out more.
Having released a lo-fi DIY EP early in 2015, back when it was just George Godwin and Peter Martin, Grapefruit Moon are now a four-piece band, also enlisting the help of sound engineer Jay Pocknell. We have recently been gifted with the release of their debut singles ‘Cotton Blue’ and ‘For A Lemon’, both utterly ambitious in sound but also full of spine tingling beauty that will immediately make them a band you want to hear much more of. Still at the very beginning of their musical lives, we met George and Peter for a winter warmer and found out more about Grapefruit Moon.
Rob Smoughton’s Black Peaches produce a masterclass in southern boogie; melding funk, country, Latin and psychedelic sounds with a world of influences from his obsessive love for collecting records. Starting out in 80s new wave act Scritti Politti and going on to being one of the early members in indie dance act Hot Chip, then leaving to pursue his solo electro soul venture as Grosvenor, there is no doubt that Rob’s talents spread far. After Black Peaches’ groove-inducing debut, Get Down You Dirty Rascals (Feb 2016), and their psychotropic live show to match, we cannot wait to get down to the sound of Black Peaches when they come back to Brighton early in December. We spoke to Rob to find out more about him and his music.
Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay burst onto the musical airwaves with their remix of Simian’s ‘Never Be Alone’ in 2004, originally curated for a Paris college radio contest. This led to them being signed by the legendary French electro imprint, Ed Banger Records, which saw them do remixes for mainstream contemporaries such as Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk and Soulwax. 2007 saw them release their hyperactive gem of a generation debut, †, a forward thinking, engaging and, at times, darn right jarring three quarters of an hour of electro house masterclass. Put that together with their cool look of leather jackets, their cross logo and a blisteringly good live show, Justice quickly became the hottest group around.
But where did Justice go? It’s been 5 years since they released Audio, Video, Disco, their excessive guitar wielding abomination of a second album. Perhaps the musical duo were coming up with a plan on how to restore “credibility” after releasing something that could be likened to how Skrillex destroyed dubstep. Don’t get me wrong, Audio, Video, Disco wasn’t an utter car crash by any means for Justice – it the in fact pushed the Parisian pair into a more accessible market where they could meet new fans (mainly in America) through synch deals and the like, as after all, the sound was far more commercially acceptable when compared with the genre defying brute that came before.
So, Justice have given themselves a difficult decision – satisfy the fans they gained on their second album, appease alienated fans from their debut or try and find an unlikely median.
First track, ‘Safe and Sound’, sets the scene for the album – a big room disco sound with heaps of funk, done in their typically super cool way. Delicious strings dance above the fist pumping groove, delicate choir vocals creating a memorable chorus – this is a Justice anthem with a sort of slick sophistication that we haven’t seen from the duo before. The theme continues into the next track, ‘Pleasure’, with the soft disco sound being desperately catchy and uncharacteristically measured.
One of the best things about † was its amalgamation of genres, slightly lost on Audio, Video, Disco but fully restored on Woman; the Knight Rider vibe in ‘Alakazam!’ sees Justice’s take on synthwave, the slow pulsing chug in ‘Stop’ takes the shape of a blissful electro ballad, ‘Randy’ is pure 80s pop brilliance at its best, done on a big scale (strings included), and I shouldn’t need to explain ‘Heavy Metal’ other than it sounds strangely like Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue’. Yet the main thing that any Justice track must have is to suit what has become their natural habitat, the big stage and on big speakers, and it feels like Woman has never felt more at home.
Each of their three albums hold the same idea for art work, by bearing a leaning back cross which remains the one constant in Justice’s triplet of work. Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have again created another album that doesn’t necessarily fit into the mould left by their previous albums, none of the sharp, harsh and forceful characteristics that made † such a distinctive and memorably release, but a far sunnier, smoother and melodic return than one could have ever imagined. Justice have performed an unlikely miracle by forgetting the youthful angst and rebellious sounds that dominated their previous records, instead opting to create a more dignified and mature listen that is so likable. It has Houdini’d them back to the very top of their game.
Vant are the band on everyone’s lips. With a reputation for a blistering live set and songs that will have you singing after one listen, the now London-based act have firmly taken the jump from one of the UK’s best up-and-coming acts to one of the UK’s leading rock bands. Having played Brighton’s smaller dive venues numerous amounts of times in the three years since they formed, Vant finally step up to play The Haunt for what is sure to be a raucous evening. Ahead of that show on 28 November, we put some questions to lead singer, Mattie Vant, to find out more about him and the band.
A Tribe Called Quest’s tracks need no introduction, as any half hip-hop fan will be able to recognise either their genius jazzy samples or supreme silky flow near on instantly. As part of the pioneering positive-minded hip-hop collective Native Tongues, the New York act formed originally as a quartet in 1985 which included Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and part-time member Jarobi White (who only fully featured on their debut LP). Having created two, if not three, of the best hip-hop albums ever made, Tribe put their beats to bed after 1998’s The Love Movement which before its release, was labelled as the groups final album, with tension and creative differences within the band being the reason for their split.
It was only on 13th November 2015 when the four members of Tribe came together and experienced something they hadn’t had for some time – re-uniting for a one-off performance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, which also happened to fall on the same night as the Paris attacks. The group quickly decided on that night to put their past differences to one side and work on a final album. Only made public two weeks before its release, the surprise of We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service was made all the more poignant for featuring fresh lyrics by Phife who sadly passed away at the age of 45 in March 2016 due to complication with his Type 2 Diabetes.
Straight from the off on ‘The Space Plan’, you have Q-Tip, Jarobi and Phife all bringing the kind of slick flow which made them the best of the best back in the day. I’m sure it isn’t just me, but hearing those distinctive Tribe styled bars produce an overwhelming joy – not only the bucket loads of nostalgia you get from hearing their classic sound but the big relief of Tribe still actually sounding like Tribe. The albums subject matter is outlined from We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service’s beginning, remarking about the important issues going on right now and taking a far more political stance than we have ever heard from the hip-hop act. The first tracks hook repeats “There ain’t a space program for niggas”, with Q-Tip responding “Imagine if this shit was really talking about space, dude”, highlighting the harsh and very real reality African American’s still face in America. Next track follows suit, with ‘We The People’ pushing home the problems of modern America – the song beginning with, “We don’t believe you ‘cause we the people”, with the sardonic chorus jesting:“All you Black folks, you must go / All you Mexicans, you must go / And all you poor folks, you must go / Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways / So all you bad folks, you must go”.
Not every song has a politically provocative message, as after all this is the final Tribe album which was completed in mourning over the unexpected death of Phife Dawg. The album ends A Tribe Called Quest’s chapter with the perfectly placed ‘The Donald’, which at a first glance ceold be an anti-anthem to the recent American president elect, but in fact it is a tribute to “Don Juice”, one of the many nicknames of Phife. The song starts with a verse from long-time collaborator Busta Rhymes, “Phife Dawg, you spit wicked every verse / Dem no say, respect the Trini man first”, eluding to Phife’s and Busta’s Caribbean heritage. Phife follows Busta with some fiery bars – “Phife Dawg legend, you could call me Don Juice / I'm the shit right now, what, you need to see proof? / … / Who wanna spa? Haha, well, here I are / Orthodox spitter or bring on the southpaw” – with Q-Tip’s closing verse signing off his legacy with a fitting tribute, “We gon' celebrate him, elevate him, papa had to levitate him / Give him his and don't debate him / Top dog is the way to rate him”.
The music to each track holds the same jazzy ideas and mellow experimentalism that you would expect from any Tribe album. Q-Tip, for the umpteenth time, has managed to sample yet another bizarre and exotic gem, using 'Ruido De Magia' by 70s Argentine band Invisible to create the delicious groove in ‘Dis Generation’. André 3000 and Q-Tip enjoy a glorious back-and-forth in ‘Kids’ which will make you long for a Tribe/Outkast crossover album. The beautifully smooth and soulful sounds in ‘Enough!!’ sees Q-Tip and Jarobi rhyme as the beat swings around Connan Mockasin-esque warping and sampled snippets of Rotary Connection’s ‘Memory Band’ (also heard on their 1990 hit ‘Bonita Applebum’). There is certainly no disappointment when it comes to the sound of the album. Even the long list of strange and wonderful guest features: Consequence, Jack White, Elton John, Marsga Ambrosius, Abbey Smith, Tabi Kweli, Kanye West, Katia Cadet, Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar, all managed to fit perfectly into the Tribe mantra throughout.
We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is a totally unexpected album, a fully re-formed A Tribe Called Quest returning against all odds and remaining at the top of their game. The group have produced an unbelievably fresh, significant and up-to-date record that will appease any classic Tribe fan. Sometimes the album drifts into the territory of Q-Tip’s solo material, with the production perhaps being a little too experimental at points, but that can all be forgiven once you hear the relevant and purposeful bars Tribe deliver in their now vintage way. The band have almost come full circle in their lifetime – when they started African Americans had to deal with the neglect of a Ronald Regan presidential administration, and now there is the uncertainty the Donald Trump era brings to minorities. However, their music has and will always have the same profound effect on any hip-hop fan out there.
As ambient pop goes – you certainly don’t get anything as dreamy, sultry and emotionally driven than Cigarettes After Sex. Their minimal sound scape that dances with silence is sparse, angelic, sometimes haunting, but always captures the romantic lust we all wish for. With new music on the horizon and a Brighton live date locked in, we asked lead singer Greg Gonzalez some questions to find out more about Cigarettes After Sex.