From Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th April, the glitterati of the UK’s electronic scene and guests from further afield ascended on Brighton – a city that had a strong electronic scene for itself back in the 90s with the likes of Norman Cook, John Digweed and Cristian Vogel putting us on the dance music map. Now in its fifth year, the UK’s foremost electronic music conference, Brighton Music Conference (BMC), took over the city for three days of talks, brand showcases and networking events.
Suitably for an occasion which was initially inspired by the Free Comic Book Day in North America back in 2007, the superheroes that run our local independent record stores came together for Record Store Day. Whereas most retailers would do simply anything to get one over their rivals, this felt different – Brighton’s four indie stores seemed to operate in a friendly and collaborative manner, with a lot of effort put in to avoid event clashes rather than direct competition. Between them, Resident, Vinyl Revolution, Bella Union and Rarekind (as well as a special event at Brighton Dome organised by Spectrum in celebration of local artists) made sure that the whole of Brighton could join in the celebrations of the biggest day in the independent music store calendar.
There is less than four weeks to go until The Great Escape, tickets are selling fast, and it’s time for the planning to commence. With this week's latest additions to the bill, the full festival schedule can now be announced (although expect some super late special guests announcements)!
As I write this it has just been announced that Ms Britney Spears will be gracing the stage of this year's Brighton Pride. A spew of cornflakes sprinkled its way on to my keyboard, made even worse by the truly sarcastic media headline of: "Britney Spears to play Brighton Pride… and Scarborough"! Something to look forward to, eh, you pop loving, schoolgirl outfit wearing Britney Spears fans? Along with Chic's appearance at the same event during the August Bank Holiday weekend, the city will be truly buzzing.
Every year at about this time we ask our writers to look back over the past 12 months in order to write a personal summary of the year in music. We’ve already had our ‘Best of the Year’ lists, covering the first six months and the last six months, but this is different. Rather than only covering the best things that happened, this is the place where we look at trends in music and the general overall feeling the year has left us with. Scanning through the submissions it’s interesting to note that many of us ended 2017 not on a high, or a low, but with a resounding ‘meh’!
Perhaps, in a year dominated by the Trump tweets a number of us mentioned, we are all feeling a sort of current affairs fatigue that’s been colouring our impressions. Maybe 2017 simply pulled its punches towards the end, leaving the real highlights somewhat buried in our memories. If you ended the year in something of a musical malaise I’d highly recommend reading this, as all of us found, upon reflection, that there were many more things to be joyful about than we’d initially thought. As we prepare to enter another year of musical delights let’s see what our writers found most special, and, in some cases, most infuriating last year.
Wow, what a year 2017 has been for music! It’s also been a particularly big year for us at Brightonsfinest too. We started the year by making the much needed office move from Hove to the heart of Brighton’s bustling North Laine area. Round about the same time this spring we launched our Radio Show on Brighton’s Juice 107.2 station, which has grown to become hugely popular and featured many interviews with incredible artists. The show runs from Monday-Thursday, 9-11pm, with a focus on new music and interviews. You can listen back to archived shows HERE, listen live HERE or tune in on 107.2FM, if you’re local. Our label is bustling too, having just released the second in our compilation series: Brightonsfinest Volume 2 has hit the record shops just in time for Christmas, following excellent vinyl releases from The Fiction Aisle and Los Albertos, earlier in the year. We’ve also been getting busy over on YouTube, where you can listen back to the best interviews from our radio show, and enjoy our video interviews, with recent artists including Royal Blood, Wolf Alice and Ghostpoet.
That’s enough trumpet blowing from us. Back in June we ran the first part of our ‘Best of the Year’ review, covering the first six months. Now it’s time to have a look at what our writers see as the highlights of the last six months. We asked everyone to pick their favourite album and live show of the second half of the year, and also a favourite album that we didn’t review – we can never manage to cover every release, especially not in a bumper year like this, so we find it’s always good to pick out the best of the rest. Scroll down below to see what the Brightonsfinest team think are the best bits out of all the great music we’ve been enjoying over the last six months of the year!
You'll notice there is no hyphen (Drive In, not Drive-In) nowadays. Founder member Jim Ward is also missing, having declined to be a part of the latest At The Drive In reunion. Apart from that, not a great deal else has changed for this recently reformed and hugely revered band, and following the release of the excellent in•ter a•li•a album earlier this year, it was all systems go. Still with so much to offer, and with the requisite (ahem), drive, to get there quick and easy, they are simply carrying on where they left off, making up for lost time.
There's a band who have achieved a degree of success only afforded to the very few. A band that did it their way, via sheer hard work, and with a strong and meaningful undercurrent of real character behind them. A band who have never been signed to a traditional record label, and yet have shifted millions over their five album career. A band that have always worn their political hearts on their collective sleeves, way before the current climate saw it become fashionable to do so again.
Back in the late 70s, when I was but a wee lad, I would nip out to the record shop, with my hard earned pocket money, and purchase a 45. A seven inch piece of vinyl that was ubiquitous in those halcyon days, and the main indicator of a band’s popularity. It may be hard to believe, but the only way you could hear new music was via BBC Radio One, or Top of the Pops, the weekly, early evening TV chart show that drew in millions of viewers each and every time. It’s where I discovered the New York five-piece, Blondie, led by this impossibly glamorous yet fun-looking woman, who fronted a band of very cool Beatlesque fashionistas, and made this deliriously intoxicating sound that perfectly placed pop within the new wave movement of the time. Although their UK breakthrough hit, ’Denis’ wasn’t the one that did it for me.
“They look awful and sound terrible” is how one wag mischievously put it when The Horrors first reared their mops of black hair for the general public to properly gaze upon. Indeed, is there a more unlikely band to still be a band, since coming out of the mid-noughties indie revivalist period? With their cartoon-goth image and their super-short noise garage songs, many commentators simply dismissed them as fly-by-night operators, given an almighty leg up by both the music and fashion press, before they had paid their dues, as it were. Here today, gone tomorrow. Good for a laugh and a mess about with but, when the serious stuff was happening, you’d quickly reach out for an Arctic Monkeys, or a Bloc Party.