Jay McAllister, aka Beans on Toast, has released an album every year for the last ten years, always on his birthday, 1st December. A Bird in the Hand is his tenth, and marks the first time since his debut album that Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons fame, has produced him. A brilliantly witty, engaging, honest and emotional singer-songwriter, he has spent a great deal of his time singing about festivals, drugs, and politics. However, the birth of a daughter has given him new perspectives, and an optimism that sees him celebrating life and all that is good about it. He talks to Jeff Hemmings about how his music career took shape, working with Ben Lovett, his new daughter, and plastics…
Rebecca Taylor is best known as one half of maverick indie duo Slow Club, who released five albums, with 2016’s One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore being the last. Playing the drums, guitar, and duetting with Charles Watson, the band built up a considerable following, but for Rebecca it clearly wasn’t enough. Over the years she has been developing her own creative outlet, as Self Esteem, moving decidedly into urban, r’n’b, pop, and hip-hop territory, a million miles away from the scruffy indie-pop of Slow Club. With Slow Club on indefinite hiatus, and Watson concurrently developing his own solo career, a number of tracks have been released including her debut ‘Rollout’, made with Django Django’s Dave Maclean. Rebecca talks to Jeff Hemmings about her self-esteem, her creative needs, her love of dancing, and what we can expect on the love stage.
Too much is never enough, as a Brighton clubbing institution (Dynamite Boogaloo) still proclaims, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. However, with Van the Man, he appears to be deadly serious. This is already his 40th studio album.
It’s been a bit quiet on the Daughter front. Their, hopefully not prophetic, Not To Disappear, was released nearly three years ago, and despite a low key release last year – the instrumental and soundtrack-based Life is Strange: Before the Storm – it’s been very quiet. Then suddenly, just a week before it was due to be released, Daughter’s singer and songwriter Elena Tonra told the world that she had an album to drop. Apparently, this short notice was purposeful, the record only being initially released digitally, before getting a physical outing early next year. There’s nothing like a pleasant surprise, and as Ex:Re (pronounced “X-ray”, a play on “regarding ex”), she plumbs the depths of her soul in ‘documenting’ her recent turmoil following the break-up of a relationship.
On 20th August, 2016, Tom Searle, founding member of the Brighton-based metalcore band Architects, passed away, aged just 28. Unbeknownst to fans, he had been suffering from skin cancer the previous three years. It was hugely cruel blow, not only for friends and family, but for a band who had started to make some serious in-roads, their previous two albums, both top 20 affairs, were the result of hard work ever since he and his twin brother Dan formed Architects back in 2004.
Brighton indie-punk duo Blood Red Shoes have announced the release of their fifth album, Get Tragic, out 25th January on their own label, Jazz Life. Laura-Mary Carter and Stephen Ansell had been pretty much tied to the hip since when they first formed back in 2004. However, by the end of their touring commitments following the release of 2014’s self-titled album, and an aborted attempt at recording new material, the duo had finally run out of track. They were badly in need of a break, from each other, and from the cycle of touring and recording they had committed themselves to over the last decade. However, with their batteries now recharged, they’ve fully embraced the absurdity of their life (hence the title of the new album), are about to release their most eclectic collection yet, and a raring to go, this time with a band behind them. They’ve also got a date lined up as part of Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar’s closing celebrations, 11th December. Laura-Mary tells all to Jeff Hemmings…
Four years ago, Courtney Barnett turned up for The Great Escape, playing well past midnight. For me, it was the highlight of the festival, her infectious exuberance matched by the quality of songs at her disposal. Then, although very much the singing frontwoman, she was on the left of the stage, part of a threesome that literally rocked. Tonight, she’s very much centre stage, an acknowledgment that, even though she has the same bassist and drummer (along with fourth member Katie Harkin), she is now the star of the show.
Despite her public persona that comes across as a little bit frustrated and disinterested with the attention she’s been getting these last few years, on stage she has no qualms. It’s the music after all, and more than most indie stars, she really does seem to revel in playing in front of people.
Some people bemoan a lack of artistic development in record labels these days. This is hogwash, of course. For sure, it may be a tad easier to get dropped too quickly, but in reality it has always been that way. Back in 1962, Bob Dylan’s debut album shifted only 5,000 copies in its first year (admittedly, a decent sum these days), reaching No.13 in the UK but getting absolutely nowhere in the States. Dylan was nicknamed “Hammond’s Folly” by waggish Columbia execs. They wanted to drop him. John Hammond, who discovered him, fought his corner hard, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Richard Dawson has reconvened with long-time collaborator and harpist Rhodri Davies, singer and multi-instrumentalist Dawn Bothwell, along with newly added member Sally Pilkington, for Hen Ogledd’s follow-up to 2016’s Bronze. He continues an interest in marrying ancient spirituality, myth and tradition with modern and futuristic tomorrows with his return, now over a year on from his universally lauded masterpiece Peasant.
Formed in 1988, Oxford’s Ride were, just behind trailblazers My Bloody Valentine, leaders of the influential shoegaze movement, and media darlings for a while, before a backlash against shoegaze in general, and Ride in particular, saw a sharp fall off. It was classic build ’em up, and knock ’em down stuff; a mix of media cruelty, the rise of Britpop, and self-inflicted harm, all helping the band to detonate by 1996. However, for a while, Ride were really riding the crest of a wave with their powerfully atmospheric and melodic wall-of-sound guitar music.