James Lavelle was the founder of the seminal Mo’Wax label back in 1993, fermenting a heady mash up of hip-hop, jazz and trip-hop. It was very much a label with an internationalist outlook, with acts as far afield as Japan, France, and the USA featuring prominently, as well as from the UK. Moreover, it was more than just about music; art and culture were intrinsically woven into the ethos, and Mo’Wax became one of the biggest cult labels of the 90s. At the same time, Lavelle forged his own musical project UNKLE, eventually releasing his debut album Psyence Fiction, in 1998. Featuring contributions from the likes of Ian Brown, DJ Shadow, Thom Yorke and Richard Ashcroft, it set the template for UNKLE, one that has continuously forged links with other artists, musical and otherwise. Mixing a career of DJ’ing, curating and recording, Lavelle curated Meltdown in 2014, and just recently released The Road Pt.1, UNKLE’s sixth album.
One of the most unlikely musical mutations of recent years has to be Jack Steadman’s successfully transformation from frontman of indie-pop band Bombay Bicycle Club to mastermind of Mr Jukes. A project that completely caters for his love of funk, soul and jazz, with a range of guest singers including De La Soul, Elli Ingram, Charles Bradley, Lalah Hathaway, Lianne La Havas, and Horace Andy. It was a high risk endeavour which seems to be paying dividends as his up-coming sold out tour of the UK testifies.
Formerly the hang player with the instrumental ambient-jazz groovers Portico Quartet, Nick Mulvey struck out on his own in 2012, keen to release his own material, as a singer/songwriter and acoustic guitarist. His debut album First Mind was Mercury Prize nominated in 2015 and Wake Up Now, his follow up, is another beautifully realised work that was co-produced with Ethan Johns and Dan Carey. It’s an album that weaves in African and global influences along with electronics, as Mulvey contemplates both life as a new father and the increasingly worrying global refugee and environmental crises afflicting our shrinking planet. Nick took the time to talk to Brightonsfinest prior to the album’s release and a UK tour.
Following in the footsteps of the magnificent 69 Love Songs, an album in which musical maverick Stephin Merritt focussed on love from every possible angle, the leader of The Magnetic Fields released 50 Song Memoir back in March of this year. It’s a musical autobiography of sorts in which Merritt dedicates one song to each year of his life, beginning in 1966. It’s another milestone in a career littered with them, the band’s first release being the 1991 single ‘100,000 Fireflies. Named after the Andre Breton/Philippe Soupault novel Les Champs Magnetiques, Merritt’s highly regarded lyricism remains focussed on love and gender, and is strewn with irony, humour, and the odd bout of bitterness. Here, he talks to Brightonsfinest about the album and forthcoming back-to-back Brighton Dome dates.
Brighton’s Thyla have recently been carving a reputation for themselves nationwide with a flurry of singles that have been well-received in the online world. Having met at music university, the band have guided themselves through the woods of dark-indie rock to produce a finer, more agile beast, a sound taken up in their recent single releases, ‘Pristine Dream’ and ‘Ferris Wheels’. With a sound scattered in the ashes of 80s and 90s shoegaze and alt-rock, Thyla can successfully litter their simplistic structures with a range of soundscapes and sonic experimentation, leading to a noise reminiscent of Ride, early Verve and Swervedriver.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to the band off the back of their recent performance at London’s Waiting Rooms earlier this month. We got down to discuss their musical progression over the last six months or so and what drew them together in the first place. As it happens, the universe really does have its ways:
Australian post-punkers Gold Class have gone deeply personal for their new record Drum. Whilst their second release still showcases their dark, strident, riff-heavy sounds, the four-piece are this time exploring conversations surrounding queer history and the ideas of silence, evasion and transgression within this. They will be bringing these new tunes to their first ever Brighton headline show in September. I caught up with frontman Adam Curley:
This week sees the release of All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell, an album which is sure to define Pvris as one of the leading rock acts in the world. A huge progression sonically on their first album ‘White Noise’, it is a fascinating evolution and sure to be in many best-of-year countdowns. Just before they played the main stage at Reading and Leeds Festivals for the first time, I caught up with lead singer Lynn Gunn to chat about the new record.
The long-awaited return of Beach Fossils, Somersault exhibits a band in bloom. Moving into new musical territory with a refined songwriting style, it’s an album that captures flashes of life in New York grounded in personal experience. The Brooklyn band will be showcasing it to Brighton at the beginning of September, ahead of this show I caught up with Dustin Payseur from the band.
South East London’s Inheaven are one of the leading lights in the thriving UK shoegaze movement with their My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain influenced compositions. Ahead of the release of their debut album and headline show at The Haunt I caught up with Chloe Little from the band.
Nashville born and bred, Kurt Wagner is anything but your typical country and western artist. Although loosely associated with the alternative country genre, he and his band have always been interested in all sorts of music; from post-punk, to soul and lounge, as well as developing a love affair with hip-hop and electronica. Wagner startled many when last year’s FLOTUS album revealed a love of the vocoder in treating his lugubrious, yet subtly playful, voice. It worked a treat, and confirmed yet again what a forward-thinking, experimental and adventurous artist he is.