With a breathful intensity that coarses through his tenor saxophone, Shabaka Hutchings’ sax-playing is instantly recognisable on his many projects, that include the analogue cosmic synth fusion of The Comet Is Coming, the punk-jazz of Melt Yourself Down, the tuba-infused jazz-grooves of Sons of Kemet, and the gentler free jazz of Shabaka and The Ancestors. Initially a clarinet player, and disliker of jazz, he was eventually turned on to it with mentorships under Soweto Kinch and Courtney Pine. Sons of Kemet recently released their third album, Your Queen Is A Reptile, which proposes alternative Queens to our present day monarch. Recorded with Theon Cross (tuba), and the double drum team of Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner, Hutchings merges his classical clarinet and jazz orchestra training with the music he’s heard growing up in the Caribbean, travelling in South Africa, and living in London. As well as performing at this year's The Great Escape, Sons of Kemet are one of the main attractions at this year's Brainchild Festival, and will be touring later in the year, including a date in Brighton. With some very rare down time, Shabaka Hutchings talked to Brightonsfinest.
Travis. The band that so many people love to hate. The band who now treat that as a badge of honour. Who sold over two and a half million copies of their second album, The Man Who, which spawned four hit singles. Who called their number one follow-up album The Invisible Band, and are just about to release a documentary of their tour, Almost Fashionable. The band who have won three BRITS. That band. In-between albums, Travis decided to head out on the road for a series of shows – including dates in Brighton and at the Isle of Wight Festival – dedicated to the album that sent them into the stratosphere, The Man Who. Singer and songwriter Fran Healy took some time out to chat with Brightonsfinest about that album, and that Glastonbury show.
Part of the legendary Boston scene that also spawned Throwing Muses, the Pixies and The Breeders, Belly were fronted by Tanya Donnelly, who was a member of both Throwing Muses and Belly. In the early 90s they released two albums, Star and King, both commercial successes, as well as a number of minor hits in the UK. All of these were released through the 4AD label, home to all the aforementioned Boston acts. The same line-up as for King – Donnelly, Gail Greenwood, Tom Gorman, and Chris Gorman – came back together in 2016, and released Dove earlier this year, their first album in 23 years. Tanya Donnelly spoke with Brightonsfinest.
With a place on the BBC Sound of 2018 poll to her name, a string of festival and worldwide dates ahead of her, and the promise of a debut album in the near future, 22-year-old Nilufer Yanya is on the cusp of great things. Performing at the open mic scene in London, her ‘Baby Luv’ single of last year propelled her into the limelight. She was in town for The Great Escape, performing two shows. We caught up with her that day to ask a few quick questions.
Gaz Coombes is one of those wonderful examples of a lead singer going solo and completely smashing it while moving away in a different direction. Since leaving seminal Britpop group Supergrass, he’s released three fantastic records, Here Come the Bombs, Matador, and brand-new album, World’s Strongest Man. We said that World’s Strongest Man was, “A continuing examination of ideas of masculine power, pride and ego” with, “Coombes laying bare his own frailties, in mind and body.” It’s a truly excellent record, and we sat down with Gaz Coombes to talk World’s Strongest Man, Frank Ocean, hip-hop, Record Store Day and Resident Records.
It took a while. But when they finally got it together, it was good. Very good. Formed and developed in Brighton, their recently released debut album has been winning some of those super rare 100%, 10/10 reviews, from people who can't get enough of their 70s and 80s classic pop-rock songs. Where harmonies and hooks are the most important thing. The four-piece have it in spades it seems, and we'll miss them as they move out of Brighton and head for the Big Smoke. However, they'll be back for this year's The Great Escape, as well as a date with Concorde 2 in the autumn. Brightonsfinest hooked up with guitarist, singer and songwriter Jack Kaye while they were in town recently for an in-store at Resident.
The Stockport five-piece Blossoms caught the imagination with their debut album of 2016, which sailed to number one in the album charts. It was quite an achievement, but this young band's propensity for producing straight ahead classic pop fare with an 80s vibe, hit the mark big time. As will, almost certainly, the new album, Cool Like You. A bit shinier, and more synth-driven, it's still full to the brim of catchy, melodic pop-rockers that will take them to another, more rarefied level.
The 23-year-old West Londoner has been making some serious waves these last two years, culminating in the release of his debut album a couple of weeks ago. He always had a voice – as a choir boy – but didn't start making his own music until his late teens, inspired by the likes of Leonard Cohen, and discovering the joys of GarageBand. Hunkering down in his bedroom to write and record, Gracie's 'Last Words' demo inspired industry interest, and the rest, as they say, is history.
After their exceptional sophomoric album, Twentytwo in Blue, which we called, “A thrilling ride which lands a solid sonic punch right in your guts” and their exceptional take-down of Brighton’s Concorde 2 a couple of weeks ago, we were honoured to chat to Sunflower Bean about their Top 40 record, making music in the American political landscape, and sitting Theo from Wolf Alice down to play him the record in full.
Back in January, Shame came out of the blocks fast with their stunning debut album Songs of Praise. Acclaimed across the board, their post-adolescent rage is infused with wit, a shed load of melody, and a fair degree of modesty. They didn't expect all this, but they may as well as take it as far as it goes. Following stints in Europe and the US they have just embarked on what they are now calling the 'Ibuprofen Tour'. Brightonsfinest spoke with guitarist Eddie Green about how a pub became the focus of their development, fighting at The Great Escape, and the stunning reaction to their music.