Black Peaks – Statues

Black Peaks are a tricky band to sum up. If you listened to just the first 20 seconds of the opening track on their début album Statues you could mistakenly think they are a hardcore metal band. Instead they are more like 90s bands Jane's Addiction or Faith No More who walk that fine line between heavy and melodic music.

'Glass Built Castles', the opening track kicks off with probably the heaviest arrangement on the album but quickly drops into a much more melodic rock track. Which is typical of the album as a whole. They have a natural tact of leading you down the path and then suddenly lurching in another direction.

I have to admit, after my first listen I was left with the distinct feeling of "What on earth have I just listened to?". Not in a bad way, more in a way where I just had to roll back to the beginning and listen again. Each time I work my way through the album it seems to make more sense and impresses me even more than the last listen.

The longest track 'Hang Them High' clocks in at over seven minutes and is a musical journey on par with a classic prog rock track or 'Bohemian Rhapsody' twisting and turning throughout the song but holding your attention throughout.

One of the stand out musicians on the album is certainly the drummer, who finds just the right thing to play at the right time and, most importantly, knows when not to play which helps in places to let the crunching rhythm and wailing lead guitars shine through.

Lyrically the album is full of teen angst and the darker side of life. "Not a fairy tale, not a book", as they say in the track 'White Eyes' seems an appropriate metaphor, each song seems to be a blend of story, fable or mythology that like the music can bounce from one thing to another.

For some people the album may seem a bit too schizophrenic, especially upon first listen. If so, I encourage you to listen again. This album really can grow on you, it's something you can listen to a hundred times and still find something new you have not noticed before.

Black Peaks have been gaining a lot of attention and praise recently and it's not hard to see why.
Jonski Mason

Website: blackpeaks.com
Facebook: facebook.com/blackpeaks
Twitter: twitter.com/blackpeaks

 

 

 

The Qemists – Warrior Sound

In the office this album has been a bit of a running joke over the last year or so. With light-hearted jibes about if or when it would arrive. Well it's finally here and boy it's worth the wait!

The title Warrior Sound is very apt as this is the album you would throw on before going into battle. It's rammed full of high energy loops, chops and lyrics that get the blood pumping. Tracks like 'New Design' and 'No More' are just begging to be thrown over a fight scene in a Hollywood blockbuster.

The album kicks off with a short track which is half way between a prayer and a call to arms.

"We see our world as a machine, wheel always turning, everything exactly where it needs to be, our world, our world is not driven by fuel or profit, emotion or god. Our world is driven by the truth".

Then it launches into 'Jungle', an angst filled tack which has a very tribal theme. Something that runs throughout the album, each track tapping into the emotions of different types of warriors from turf warring city gangs to full out high-tech warfare.

Although it's a heavy album there are plenty of respites in melodic sections but it's never long till everything is slowly ramped back up to 10. The album will sit nicely alongside the likes of Rage Against The Machine and Nine Inch Nails' debut albums. It gets that perfect balance of 'in your face music' with a commercial hook and production levels that really help deliver the punches.

Lyrics like "Bring it on tonight", "We're not going to take this any longer" and "So let it burn" have been rolling round my head since I first heard it. Every chance I get this album has been pounding my ears, it's explicitly great on headphones which really gets the sounds bouncing around your head.

Having seen many of these tracks live over the last year, it's good to hear they have captured the same energy on the recordings as the live performances deliver. I don't know how much the album has evolved during the delay but it feels like they have really fine tuned the sound live and injected it into the recordings.

For me this is definitely going to be one of those seminal go-to albums that I'll keep coming back to over and over again.
Jonski Mason

Website: theqemists.com
Facebook: facebook.com/theqemists
Twitter: twitter.com/TheQemists

 

 

 

The Maccabees – Brighton Dome – 23rd November 2015

The Maccabees always pull a good crowd in Brighton because, as they reminded everyone tonight, they did live here for a bit. Tonight was no exception as the Dome was packed out and there was a real buzz of excitement in the air. Drenge opened up the show, with the addition of a new bass player and the three of them nicely warmed up the audience. I've never seen The Maccabees live before, unless they were one of the many bands I saw at the FreeButt over 10 years ago… Because it's now 10 years since they released their first single and started the roller coaster ride to success.

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Octopuses – The Green Door Store – 29th October 2015

It's been a few years since I last saw the Octopuses live, having last seen them at The Blind Tiger before it closed. They did not really do it for me back then so when I was asked to review the album launch gig it was with some trepidation. The evening kicked off with MC Fashion who must have come on stage bang on 7:30 when the doors opened as they were just wrapping up as I got there but it sounded very entertaining and I wished I'd got there earlier to see the whole set. They were followed by Seadog with a new drummer who was a bit loud for the small Green Door Store room and it spoilt the set a bit. The final support act was Prince Vaseline who were a good warm up band, although I liked the tunes they seemed to miss that killer hook for me to latch onto.

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Swim Deep – Concorde 2 – 21st October 2015

Local lads The Magic Gang describe themselves as music for your mind, body, spirit and soul, you could tell they had definitely come back to their spiritual home town tonight. Their nice blend of bubblegum pop and distorted guitars certainly is very easy to get into and they have built themselves a good following around Brighton. As soon as the band hit the stage the bar emptied and it was obvious that most of the crowd were there just as much to see The Magic Gang as Swim Deep. In less than no time the crowd were dancing and singing along with the band, they even mentioned this themselves as it was the best response they'd had so far on this tour.

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Breakout Festival – 2015

After a stellar first festival last year I had been looking forward to the return of Breakout, Brighton's only open air Metal festival. If you want to get the full day's entertainment then it is going to be a long day as the festival kicks off at 10:40am which means a full 12 hours of music. Although not that many people get there that early, I aimed to get there for a more respectable midday start to catch Seething Akira but it took me longer to get through town than I thought so I only caught the last few chords of their perfomance. Which is a shame because they looked interesting and to rub salt into the wound, as I wandering past the stage after they had finished someone walked passed saying “That band were ****ing awesome”. Oh well, I will have to check them out next time they are in town.
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St Ann’s Wells Gardens Spring Festival – 2015

For those of you who don't know St Ann's Well Gardens Spring Festival is held to raise money for the preservation and restoration of the park. There is a fabulous selection of food, activities for the children and of course there is the music. This is mainly arranged on the Main Stage up at the top of the park, along with a few things like drumming ensembles performing around the park. Over the years this has been growing in stature and is often a mix of local young talent and local touring bands. So with a typical grey bank holiday skies looming overhead I headed down to the park to check out the music.
As I got there The Speak were just coming onto the stage. They are your fairly bog standard pub rock band type affair. It looks like they left the drummer at home and the duo up front played guitar and bass to a backing track. None of the songs really stuck in the head but it was nice easy listening and a perfect way to start the festival.
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Alphabets Heaven – Interview 2015

Jonny Wildley, is a Brighton based artist. I first came across his Alphabet Heaven beats in a crammed Green Door Store where he completely conquered the room playing a set that span genres, using a delicious collage of loops and samples which mixed the space between Hip-Hop and electronic music into one. We couldn’t be more excited to have Alphabets Heaven play in the finale of BrightonsFinest’s Alternative Great Escape show, so I caught up with Jonny to find out more about man behind the music.
 
Where did you grow up and do you think it has influenced your music?
I grew up in St. Albans, a market city just north of London. It had a pretty great music scene for teenagers. Lots of bands, lots of music. I have a feeling that’s all gone, or moved to a different area of Herts.
 
What music were you brought up on?
Mainly rock. Hendrix was a huge part of my early life.
 
What was the first instrument you played, and do you have a favourite?
Guitar, from when I was about 12. I still write most music with a guitar, or at least guitar in the abstract. However, I really like playing bass. There’s something kind of selfless about it.
 
Has your style/genre of music stayed the same?
Not really. Alphabets Heaven started off as a vaguely academic experiment on different musical lines affecting the dynamics of each other. I still think about that type of thing every now and then, but how I think about music has changed.
 
What made you start Alphabets Heaven?
Sometimes it’s fun to throw yourself into a new world and see what happens.
 
Is there a story behind the name?
I think it’s the same type of thing Retna is getting at. There’s some kind of beauty and mysticism in language itself, it’s almost outside the people who use it. Freedom.
 
What are your main influences?
There’s this weird feeling you get when you’re listening to something and you can’t understand it. It’s like there’s a part of the mind that represented a preconceived notion of what can and what can’t be destroyed by the music. I live for that feeling.
 
How do you approach the writing/recording process?
Do you surround you self with people or hide away behind closed doors? I like both. Sometimes you need to work on something for 11 hours straight to get it right, but sometimes you need a friend. Whatever works really.
 
What do you love playing with when you are making music?
I have this reel to reel I absolutely adore. I don’t really use it for anything important sonically but it seems to organise my thoughts.
 
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Just got Ex-Easter Island Head’s Large Electric Ensemble – its people thinking about instruments in completely different ways.
 
What has been you happiest memory with music?
I did a set at Shambhala Festival in Canada a few years ago that was pretty special to me. Seeing Pharoah Sanders a few years ago, and Steve Reich perform octet about a decade ago, they were life changing experiences. Too many to count though. I’ve been incredibly lucky to see and be around some amazing people.
 
What are your future plans for the summer and after?
I’ll be going for bike rides and writing.
 
 

The Weeks – The Green Door Store – 18th January 2015

The Weeks – The Green Door Store – 18th January 2015

It was a cold winters night but there was a good crowd at the Green Door Store even for tonights support The Apache Relay. Both them and The Weeks are based in Nashville, Tennessee and are currently touring the UK together. The Apache Relay are a more traditional mix of indie pop along with subtle mixes of other styles drifting in and out and when the mandolin and fiddle added to the mix, the music takes on a more folky aspect. The five members of the band looked a bit cramped on stage at times and I felt they could have been much more dynamic in their performance if they had the space to move. I only caught the end of their set but later checked out more of their music online and the more I heard the more I liked.

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Dobet Gnahoré Na Drê Dance – Brighton Dome Studio Theatre – 8th October 2014

I was lucky enough to spend a few days with Dobet Gnahoré as she started her UK tour, organised buy Brighton based African Night Fever, to promote her new album 'Na Dre'. I first meet her at Marina Studios during one of the torrential downpours we’ve have been having recently. They had already spent hours rehearsing before I arrived and were fine tuning the choreography of the dance for one of the songs. Dobet was woking with local dancer Kawme Obeng and Landing Mane whom she had not worked with before but were part of the African Night Fever plan, put together as unique package of musicians and dancers with different backgrounds and styles to create something special.

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