Back in the mid-90s, Britpop was all the rage. Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Elastica et al. Fighting it out for airtime, media coverage and gossip columns. It was a BIG thing, perhaps the last major hurrah in the world of guitar-driven pop music, when the singles charts really mattered and TOTP was still on the air. Sleeper have been largely forgotten about, but for a while they too were a major player, with three consecutive top ten albums, and eight top forty hits to their name, all between 1995-1997. And in Louise Wener they had a guitar-toting sex symbol, a woman who adorned front covers and for a while was a mini-celebrity who appeared regularly on Chris Evan’s TFI Friday. She was known as ‘Just another woman fronting a guitar band’, while her male bandmates were collectively known as ‘Sleeperblokes’. When they split up in ’97, Wener embarked on a successful literary career, and has so far produced four novels, as well as an autobiography My Life As A Pop Star. But, Sleeper have decided to reform, and dip their toes back into the world of live music. Brightonsfinest to spoke to Lousie ahead of their first gig in 20 years at The Haunt, in Brighton.
Sydney based duo Ben Gumbleton and Sam Croft, otherwise known as the alluring live electronic duo Boo Seeka, blew Brighton away at the 2016 Great Escape and look set to do exactly that again in The Prince Albert next month. Ahead of their headline show and debut album release I caught up with Sam from the band.
The London-based singer/songwriter has already enjoyed considerable success as an occasional contributor to Bombay Bicycle Club, and creator of two top ten selling albums, 2012's Like I Used To, and 2015's Work It Out. But, despite that success, she became increasingly restless musically, desiring to go back to a simpler, more acoustic-based approach. Inspired by a number of Tweets and Spotify streams coming out of Latin America she, along with her husband, headed out there and spent two months performing for free to fans, and staying with fans. The resulting short documentary of that experience is both a revelatory and quite brilliant watch. Equally so, is her new album, Something's Changing, released on the Communion Label, and recorded in Brighton with Tim Bidwell and assorted musicians. Brightonsfinest met up with her prior to hitting the festival circuit and touring the new album.
Formed in 1999, with charismatic frontman Eugene Hutz at the helm, this gypsy-punk-balkan outfit will be releasing their seventh studio album in August, Seekers and Finders. And, it’s another blizzard of violins, accordions, trumpets and marimba, amongst the standard rock basics of guitars, bass and drums. Their multi-cultural adrenaline rush of a sound (tempered with the odd ballad) is made for the live stage where they put on a brilliantly colourful and carnival-esque performance, with the aim of making you want to party. Eugene Hutz took some time out whilst in the middle of a European tour to have a chat with Brightonsfinest.
Formed after meeting at Toronto's Humber College's Music Performance programme in 2011, Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), Alex Sowinski (drums) and Leland Whitty (sax) initially attracted attention with their jazz interpretations of hip-hop tracks, leading them to work with artists such as Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean. They then took the music world by storm with their 2014 LP, III, a brash yet refined record of angular jazz improvisations, lush ballads, krautrock, and futuristic hip-hop-tinged rhythms which led to a couple of years touring the world and collaborating with some of the best and brightest artists around the globe, including a slot at 2014's Great Escape. Their most recent album, IV, features a collaboration with Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring, and they've just played at Glastonbury Festival, on the West Holts Stage.
He’s already got a formidable body of work behind him. A leftfield folky outsider of sorts who can wring the most unlikely of songs out of his battered old and cheap acoustic, whilst utilising his voice in the most startling of fashions, sometimes a capella. But this is the first album – his sixth so far – where he’s got a band in tow. On the surface it might not sound too promising; a song cycle of sorts about the lives of the inhabitants of Bryneich, a kingdom in Yr Hen Ogledd (the Old North) in early middle ages Britain. But rather than don the pitiful olde worlde finery of, say a Ritchie Blackmore and waffle on about mystical creatures and alluring maidens. Dawson has carefully crafted a progressive-folk album that is both exhilarating and beguiling, as well as timeless in content. His objective was to create, “A panorama of a society which is at odds with itself and has great sickness in it, and perhaps doesn’t take responsibility – blame going in all the wrong directions,” whilst utilising a number of occupational archetypes, such as a herald, an ogre, a prostitute, shapeshifter, scientist, weaver, soldier et al. Quite unlike anything else you’ll hear all year, Peasant is a shoo-in to be on many album of the year lists.
WHY? fans will certainly encounter familiar sounds on Moh Lhean, the recent new album by Yoni Wolf. Within the quirkly eccentricities, the psychedelic alt-pop foundations, alternative hip-hop leanings, and the fluid arrangements, Wolf's experiences with (unspecified) mental and physical health issues and scares of late (he has Crohn's disease) inform much of the music. But this prolific artist keeps on making high quality music, something he has managed to do consistently with WHY?, as well as the other projects and collaborations he has been involved in, such as CLOUDDEAD and Doseone. Brightonsfinest spoke to Yoni Wolf
It’s possibly the hottest day we’ve had in Brighton when I meet Priests. They’ve spent the day getting here through traffic in London and the band seem to be a little lagged from the tour. We go looking for some food and sit down at Kokoro in Brighton. I wanted to get more of an understanding about Priests and their journey so far. They write brilliant punk music and keep their art fiercely integral. Singer Katie’s lyrics are clever and poignant managing to capture social prejudices and anxieties in a very real way. The recording process for their first proper album Nothing Feels Natural was full of issues, which led to the band re-recording the album from scratch.
13 albums in, all Top 40 affairs. That's how consistent and popular this quintessential turn of the 90s band has been. They were always lurking in the shadow of The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays, but Manchester's The Charlatans have proved themselves far more durable, and far more prolific. Moreover, their new album Different Days continues the return to form they started with on their last album, Modern Nature. It also features a number of guests from the world of rock 'n' roll, including Johnny Marr and Paul Weller.
Incredible to think that Saint Etienne have been making music for nigh on 30 years. Breaking out with their iconic balearic-influenced cover of Neil Young's 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' in 1990, the band have honed in on the eccentricities/banalities of English life, and allied that to a glistening English dance/pure-pop sound that sounds familiar and yet alien. Hits such as 'Join Our Club', 'You're In A Bad Way', and 'Hug My Soul' saw Pete Wiggs, Sarah Cracknell and Bob Stanley become a permanent fixture in the pre-Brit-pop landscape. More recently they have entered the world of soundtracks and film scores, including the much admired documentary How We Used To Live. Home Counties, their paean to life just outside the metropolitan and multi-cultural riches of London, is their ninth studio album. Brightonsfinest talked to Hove resident Pete Wiggs in advance of the album's release and their gig at De La Warr Pavilion.