The 52nd Brighton Festival, the largest of its kind in the UK, is headed up this year by Guest Artistic Director David Shrigley. A relative unknown, Shrigley operates in the world of the visual arts, as a lively, sly, sometimes subversive illustrator, writer, film-maker, conceptualist and sculptor. You may have seen his Really Good sculpture (a massive sculpture of a thumbs up, or a 'like'!) on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth. Or his 2013 Turner Prize-nominated installation David Shrigley: Brain Activity. Or perhaps his headless stuffed ostrich, or his cast of a single tooth (Brass Tooth) which he then created multiple editions of, and sold at £1,200 a pop. He's also a big music fan, and has worked with many artists, including making videos for both Blur and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, designing record sleeves, and collaborating with musicians such as David Byrne and Grizzly Bear for his spoken word project Worried Noodles. Brightonsfinest got the chance to catch up with him at this year's festival launch.
Rejjie Snow is one of the most exciting artists in the UK right now. Having worked with everyone from Loyle Carner, to Joey Bada$$ and Yellow Days, he’s been consistently releasing excellent projects since he first turned up five years ago. Now, and finally, we’ve reached the moment of his debut album, Dear Annie, which was every bit worth the wait. Over an hour long and incredibly high-concept, it masterfully combines 90s American rap with jazz and 00s r’n’b. I spoke to Rejjie about the album, how the internet shaped him as a musician and his politically-infused music.
Hard to believe, but these Glasgow legends have been going since 1977, forming from the ashes of punk band Johnny and The Self Abusers. Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill remain at the helm of this remarkable group who have stayed true to their origins and to the music they make. Refusing to join the celebrity/cabaret/retro circuits, they instead continue to release original music that is always heartfelt, and euphoric in tone and atmosphere. Walk Between Worlds is their 18th studio album, and their first one since 2014’s Big Music. Jim Kerr took some time out to chat with Brightonsfinest.
The much admired Leeds-based band Hookworms suffered a near total catastrophe when the studio they practised and recorded in was severely flooded on Boxing Day, 2015. As well as losing their back catalogue they lost all the new material they had just started working on. However, thanks to a variety of sources, including a Crowdfunder campaign, they were eventually able to rebuild the studio and start again from scratch. Their third full studio album, Microshift, which has just been released to rave reviews, is a continuation of the electronic/psychedelic-rock flavours of the past work, it’s a big leap forward for the band, who released their first record on a small Brighton imprint back in 2011, and Brightonsfinest spoke to Hookworms’ Matt (‘MB’) Benn.
The four-piece pop-psychedelic art rockers have returned with another album of crazy beats and melodies, Marble Skies. There is no one quite like them. Jimmy Dixon takes some time out of child rearing activities to have a chat with Brightonsfinest.
Produced by Gethin Pearson and the band’s keyboard player Ben Jackson, The Spiritual Dark Age is the London five-piece’s third album and the follow-up to their self-titled album of 2015. Following spells with Virgin, Communion and Xtra Mile, here’s yet another band in a growing line of DIY bands interested in crowdfunding their work. To Kill A King employed the services of Patreon to tap into their substantial fanbase to help fund the new album. It’s a work that took nearly three years to make, hence the remarkable eclecticism of sound; from glam and epic stompers, to raw acoustica, while the lyrics revolve around issues of compassion within what frontman Ralph Perrymounter believes is a spiritual dark age. Here he takes time out from their UK tour to have a chat with Brightonsfinest.
The daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, Eliza’s clan is rightly described as folk’s royal family. While Eliza Carthy MBE is perhaps the most famous of them all. Since releasing her debut album (with Nancy Kerr) in 1993, she’s helped spearhead the folk revival, winning two Mercury nominations along the way, as well as releasing the ill-fated Angels & Cigarettes on a major label in 2000. Ill health has dogged much of her later career but she’s back on top of her game with her 12-piece band, The Wayward Band, releasing both a career retrospective in 2013, and Wayward Daughter earlier this year on the most famous independent label of them all, Topic.
Alex Cameron’s Forced Witness is one of the finest records of the year. Not only does it explore postmodern themes such as catfishing, politics, masculinity and relationships in depth, but it’s an excellent throwback record to the 80s. Produced by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, it’s got all the charm of a Foxygen record with Cameron’s trademark crooning, lyrical bite. I sat down to talk to him and his friend and business partner Roy Molloy about their recent support slot with The Killers, the music industry, the Australian music scene and the characters behind his latest record.
The acclaimed political alt-rock experimentalists Algiers – named with reference to the political film The Battle of Algiers, an anti-colonialist classic – are composed of vocalist/guitarist Franklin James Fisher, bassist Ryan Mahan, guitarist Lee Tesche, and since 2016 drummer Matt Tong. Their self-titled 2015 debut was released on the Matador label, and became Resident Records Album of the Year. They combined post-punk, industrial rock, gospel and psychedelic soul into a passionate and malevolent whole. As does their follow up, this year’s The Underside of Power. Produced by Portishead’s Adrian Utley, and the first to feature ex-Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong, it confirmed Algiers as a highly politicised band with plenty to say in the Trump era. Franklin James Fisher talked to Brightonsfinest.
Ahead of their headline show at The Hope & Ruin and the release of their double EP Eight I caught up with bassist Josie McNamara of the enigmatic Brighton-based five-piece White Room. Their radiant, self-aware brand of psych, meshes the sound of British 60s guitar pop with Hacienda-sized levels of danceability and it’s seen them support the likes of Paul Weller on tour.