You can’t deny that record label Heist or Hit, home to Her’s, Honey Moon and Pizzagirl, doesn’t have a type when it signs its acts. Those three in particular make dreamy, soothing indie-pop music and, in the live sphere, are terrifically funny and entertaining. Pizzagirl, also known as Liam Brown, displayed this superbly with his headline set at The Hope & Ruin. Made up of brilliant pop songs, a superb sense of occasion and amazing stage presence, Pizzagirl is wickedly talented and an excellent live performer.
Having formed in 2010, Years & Years have become a British electro-pop sensation, featuring on tracks with the likes of Clean Bandit and releasing two highly-acclaimed albums, in their debut Communion and recent sophomore album Palo Santo.
Shoegaze legends Ride aren’t known as an acoustic band. Their huge, melodic noise rides waves of ethereal vocals and guitars. They did (and still) do it well, and that was the reason people got into them in the first place. It may seem strange for a band to want to do this. Yet, like Nirvana, who helped pave the way for stripping things back via their legendary MTV Unplugged sessions of the early 90s, it is perhaps surprising how effective it can be. Especially if it’s in the right setting.
Ryley Walker, the singer and songwriter from Rockford, Illinois visited us in Brighton and Hove as part of his 2018 international tour, promoting his latest recording. A homage to The Lillywhite Sessions (a scrapped album by the Dave Mathews Band), this album uses the same name. Walker manages to put his own dynamic and modern twist on the record that inspired it, making it a very interesting and entertaining listen. Fans had a lot of these new track to look forward to on the night of the show at the marvellous Old Market in Hove.
Opening with a brass rendition of Skepta’s grime-anthem, ‘Shutdown’, was perhaps the perfect way to introduce Ezra Collective and their sound and attitude to a fresh face of hip-shakers. It’s grimey, playful, very London-centric, and of course the buzzword: it’s jazz. In fact, they are trailblazers in the scene, as it was only a few weeks ago that keys wizard, Joe Armon Jones, played to a sold out crowd upstairs in the very same venue courtesy of Mr Bongo’s new Jazz Club night.
The demise of Palma Violets was a sad thing, indeed, both indicating the difficulty in keeping an indie band going and how hard it is to make the next step after minor success. Despite the sadness, however, there’s reason to be positive. While Chilli Jesson has created Crewel Intentions, who we witnessed supporting Johnny Marr early last month and called, “A heady, intoxicating mix of Nick Cave and Echo & The Bunnymen”, the remaining members – Sam Fryer, Pete Mayhew and Will Doyle – have created Gently Tender. Also recruiting The Big Moon’s Celia Archer and guitarist Adam Brown, the band’s first trip to Brighton was a positive and upbeat one, showcasing that Palma Violets’ collapse may be a blessing in disguise after all.
It’s testament to the power of the Brighton scene that it feels like every week a local band is making the step up to headline a venue they’ve once played first support in to a couple of friends. This is true for Brighton quartet Twilight Driving, who played to a packed out Hope & Ruin in aid of their brilliant new single ‘Dangerous’ – which we called a, “Hook-heavy, synth-laden call-to-arms” on its release. No doubt one of, if not the, greatest showcase of the band thus far in their short careers, Twilight Driving owned the stage from start to finish, exhibiting their stadium-ready pop-rock to their passionate crowd.
While 2018 has, largely, seen the rise in raucous, politically-charged anthems take the limelight – with the likes of Shame and Idles producing incredible moments both on record and in the live sphere – and capturing the imaginations of wild, youthful audiences, there’s also been a quieter, more reflective style sending adolescent music fans into raptures. One such artist is Matt Maltese, who released his debut album, Bad Contestant, in the summer, and celebrated his fantastic year with a lowkey show at The Haunt.
Florence Welch has been there and done that in her (relatively) short career. She’s won an Ivor Novello award, she’s headlined Glastonbury festival, and she’s toured arenas consistently for the last five years, so you’d forgive her for phoning it in on one of her smallest dates on the High as Hope tour in Brighton. Never one to not put in 100%, however, she provided her adoring fans with an iconic greatest hits display and, in the process, showcased her beautiful, heart-rendering vocals and magnetic stage presence.
Brighton’s The Academy of Sun were surely born to play this gig. Theatrical, meaningful and shambolically dramatic, TAOS are led by a tall creature called Nick Hudson, who magnificently snarls his way through a set that is much more illustrious than might be expected for a Sunday night from a first support act. Self-labelled, “Queer, gnostic post-punk”, the group bow to Nick Cave and Morrissey on some tracks and it is fairly obvious why Julian Cope is counted as one of their admirers on others. Part crooner, part diva, for all of his influences, Hudson is entirely unique as a frontman, which makes TAOS a band to be intrigued by on the local scene and, given the waves they appear to be making, further afield.