There's plenty of mileage to be had in analysing the youth of today. More than ever, it seems. Not just for the purposes of marketing and consumer preferences. Sure, reality TV and mainstream pop is (as it has always been) largely dominated by the youth. But, more than ever, they are literally going their own way. They are leaving the rest of us in our tracks. Metaphorically speaking. Look at what happened in the recent European Referendum, and the General Election. The youth (under 25) overwhelmingly voted to stay in Europe, and to enact policies that emphasised socialism; a collectivist vision as opposed to one proposing pure individualism. Hope over fear. The gap between the young and old is startling. In simple terms, it's a deep divide between generations, and values. And there is very little sign that the older have any real understanding of what is really happening with the younger folk. Their world is literally being taken from under their feet.
2017 has certainly gotten off to a flying start! It’s hard to believe we’re only halfway through with all that has happened so far, although it is hard not to notice that it’s summer with all of this amazing weather we are having: I’ve never known it to be so hot. It has been a big year for Brightonsfinest so far too, having finally made the sensible and necessary step of moving our offices from Hove to the heart of Brighton’s bustling North Laine. At the same time we launched our own Radio Show in March on Brighton’s Juice 107.2. If you’re not in the know yet our show runs from Monday-Thursday, 9-11pm, with a new music focussed selection of tracks and interviews with artists, promoters and the like. You can listen back to all of our shows HERE, listen live HERE or tune in on 107.2FM if you’re in Sussex (UK). We also presented a spell-binding Alternative Escape Showcase at St Mary’s Church, which is an incredible setting up the road in Kemptown and have released a Live vinyl album by Los Albertos and a special-edition double vinyl reissue of The Fiction Aisle’s debut Heart Map Rubric. Both are available from Brightonsfinest Presents Shop now, and we expect to be releasing another compilation later in the year, as well as getting more involved in promoting shows on the live music scene down here and beyond.
After the first Love Supreme Festival in 2013, the organisers very nearly decided to throw in the towel. They lost a tonne of money. But disco legends Chic, in a roundabout way, saved the day. Not only had the festival sold a fair few tickets on the back of their appearance, but they also delivered a nigh-on perfect set of sunshine hits that had the crowd in raptures. It proved to be a lucky booking for, only a week before, Chic had stolen the show at Glastonbury, and re-established their credentials as true icons and purveyors of ridiculously infectious and classy hits galore. This fact reverberated to Glynde, in Sussex, telling the organisers that there was potentially a market for this kind of event, an outdoor festival that catered for a well-heeled, mature crowd, that would literally get down to the right kind of music.
Fun. That is what it's supposed to be, is it not? Being in a band as a young adult. Meeting new people, going to new places, playing music because you just damn well enjoy doing that? And you know what? People can smell that. They often have a good sense of what is real, and what is not. Being able to tell the difference between what is too earnest, and what is just having a bit of a laugh. Even the most muso lunatics such as Yes or Gentle Giant were having a laugh back in the days of bombastic prog-rock. Even the most epic and earnest sounding like Radiohead, are just having a bit of a laugh amidst all the heavy sentiments and chord progressions.
They’ve done it again. Albeit perhaps not quite as consistently impressive as their first two albums, alt-J still hit new peaks on Relaxer, an album that continues their foray into that weird and wonderful mix of prog, folk, garage and electro, but which is more spacious and at times punchier. It’s epitomised by the stunning lead track ‘3WW’ (three worn words), a song that, according to the band, “Traces the adventures of a wayward lad on England’s northeast coast, culminating in the whispering of three worn words." It's full of sexual awakening and adventure, and features the voices of alt-J's Gus Unger-Hamilton and Joe Newman, as well as Wolf Alice's Ellie Roswell. "I just want to love you in my own language", they sing against a background of beguiling alt-folk, with distorted waves of electronica, shakers, minimal keys, dubby bass and much else besides. It’s one of their best ever songs.
Legendary and iconic are two words often bandied about without due care and attention, particularly in the hyperbolism prone world of music. But with the German electronic and technological pioneers (Kraftwerk means 'power station' in English) there can be no doubt that these words can be applied with an extremely high level of certainty. You may not particularly like their music, or their aesthetic, but you would be a fool to not acknowledge the immense importance that this group has had on rock'n'roll in particular, and culture in general, beginning with David Bowie himself. The ever reliable beacon of quality and cutting edge endeavour throughout the 70s even invited the band to tour with him, in support of his Station to Station album, which they declined. Never one to be easily put off, Bowie named the 'V-2 Schneider' track off the Heroes album after Florian Schneider, founder member of Kraftwerk, but who parted ways with them in 2009. Much of the subsequent synth-pop music of the late 70s and early 80s (Pet Shop Boys, Tubeway Army, Yello, Ultravox, Depeche Mode, The Human League et al), the electro-hip-hop of Afrika Bambaataa (particularly 'Planet Rock' where he re-recorded the 'Trans-Europe Express' riff over a sample from 'Numbers') and of the techno pioneers of the mid-late 80s can be directly ascribed to Kraftwerk. The so-called Detroit-based Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May) fused the repetitive melodies of Kraftwerk with funk rhythms. For instance, Juan Atkins sampled the racing, percussive melody from 'Home Computer' for his classic electro track 'Clear'. They popularised synths and electronic music, and inspired countless others to create their own unconventional sounds. Their influence has been maintained right into the 21st century. LCD Soundsystem, for instance, sampled and built a song entirely around Kraftwerk's 'Robots'.
It’s kind of the same as a festival in a field, minus the camping, and the mud. There are more than 450 performances on over 30 stages, played out to an overall audience of 20,000. Like a traditional festival, there is plenty of schlepping from one stage to the next, re-fuelling at various points, staying up too late and getting up too early. Crucially though, almost everyone is here to actually watch and listen to music, and everyone has a real bed to head to, and a solid roof over their heads. It is knackering, but in the best kind of way.
Goldie has announced a new album entitled The Journey Man, coming out June 16 via Cooking Vinyl and Goldie’s Metalheadz label, which he set up in 1993 along with Kemistry and Storm. There is much anticipation that it might be right up there with Timeless, his debut album of 1995 that set the world of music and drum'n'bass alight with its near-perfect combination of innovative production techniques and spacious, expansive musicality that could loosely be defined as orchestral drum’n’bass jazz. A groundbreaking release in the history of drum and bass music, Timeless blended the complex, chopped and layered breakbeats and deep basslines of jungle and drum and bass with expansive, symphonic strings and atmospherics and female vocals, creating a crossover hit. For Timeless Goldie was joined in the studio by engineer/producer Rob Playford, founder of the Moving Shadow label, who did most of the programming and production, with Goldie generating the musical ideas, rhythms and arrangements. It's this directorial system that Goldie has employed on the eagerly awaited The Journey Man, set for release in June, accompanied by Goldie & The Heritage Orchestra Ensemble headlining the Funk The Format Festival on Saturday 17th June in Hove Park.
Legend goes that Record Store Day was sparked by a comment that something could be done along the lines of Free Comic Book Day, and following a brainstorming session during a record store owner’s meeting in Baltimore, Record Store Day (RSD) was officially founded in 2007 with the first event the following year. That year there were just ten special RSD releases from the likes of R.E.M, Stephen Malkmus and Vampire Weekend, while Billy Bragg kicked off RSD in the UK with a live appearance.
This all happened in the nick of time as 2006 represented the nadir for vinyl sales. Only an estimated $36m was generated worldwide, a derisory amount, with many records not even getting a vinyl release. By 2014, that figure had jumped to $416m, and continues to rise fast. Vinyl has now enjoyed nine consecutive years of growth since facing near extinction. In fact, vinyl sales topped three million in the UK alone last year, a rise of 53% on the previous year. David Bowie’s Blackstar was the most popular, selling more than double the number of copies of 2015’s biggest seller, Adele’s 25. The last time vinyl fared so well in the UK back in 1991 when Simply Red's Stars was the year's biggest-selling record.
Why the revival? Some fans prefer the "warmth" of the sound compared with digital files, while others buy LPs as souvenirs and as works of art (In that respect, CDs have rarely been loved in the way a vinyl record has been). And then there's been the marketing efforts of RSD which have helped to propel vinyl back into the forefront of the music buying public, buoyed by a general zeitgeist in all things 'retro', and helping to keep many independent stores alive. Moreover, the inexorable rise of streaming has, according to a BBC/ICM poll, seen increasing numbers purchasing vinyl on the back of what they have heard via streaming. Sometimes as a goodwill gesture, but also simply because they want to properly own the recording as a physical product, rather than simply as a virtual entity. But, despite all this good news, vinyl still only accounts for less than 3% of the overall music market, so it still has a long way to go to come even close to its 60s-80s heyday, when vinyl (and to a lesser extent cassettes and a myriad of other, long defunct, formats) was the only way to 'own' music. Moreover, that same survey found that almost half of those questioned said they did not play the vinyl they bought, while 7% said they did not even own a turntable!
"We're a gang of friends and musicians. It manifests itself directly in the sound we create together. It's the ace up our sleeves." So says Stella Mozgawa, drummer, programmer and keyboardist for Warpaint. Their gang mentality is still here and still seemingly strong. It's a sometimes under-appreciated asset. It was once said of The Beatles that they communicated with each other in a way that made others feel sidelined, that they acted like a gang which was difficult to penetrate, forged from years of being in each other’s pockets before they had even hit the big time. Similarly, Warpaint had played and worked with each other for several years before they became properly known beyond their Los Angeles base. Accordingly, they have created a super tight bond that few other bands can match, and which is reflected in their music.
As Stella says, Warpaint are in essence a gang of friends, who enjoy making music. A music that is democratic in nature (all four members are equal shareholders, as it were), which relies on a lot of spontaneity, but also telepathy. It's a telepathy that only really comes from jamming constantly in the studio, and via genuine friendships, where egos and leadership ambitions are left at the door. If they weren't, Warpaint would surely live up to their name, whether via its meaning as the ‘paint’ applied by North American natives in getting ready for battle, or indeed the make up applied by women when preparing for the coming ‘social’ battles!