Moving down from Newcastle around the turn of the decade, Demob Happy have slowly but surely stamped their mark, with two glorious progressive grunge-pop albums, Soda Dream and Holy Doom, under their belts. More recently they’ve been out supporting the likes of Jack White, Frank Turner & The Rattlesnakes, and Nothing But Thieves, expanding their fanbase both here in Europe, and in the US. Hungry for more, they’ve just released a new single ‘Less Is More’, with an album expected later in the year.
What a year Brighton-based three-piece Demob Happy had last year. Returning from the brink of dissolution, after losing a band member, the band released their sophomore album Holy Doom to critical acclaim. Not only that, but the trio also provided main support for Jack White on his mammoth UK tour, as well as touring America with Nothing but Thieves. To think they started by playing sets at Brighton house parties!
Ladies and gentlemen, in time honoured tradition, it’s time for the bi-annual Brightonsfinest Half Year review. Every six months we ask our writing team to look back over the past half a year in order to pick out some highlights and to identify some great music that we’d somehow managed to let slip between our fingers. Every writer is asked to pick out the best album and best live show we’ve reviewed in the last six months, as well as an album that we didn’t manage to write-up. 2018 is shaping up to be a pretty solid year for new music, so far. We’ve actually reviewed over 160 new albums so far this year and sent reviewers to over 120 live shows!
As we look back it’s worth reminding ourselves of all the good stuff we’ve been up to at Brightonsfinest HQ. Our radio show and website have continued to go from strength to strength while we also launched our first foray into print. Our Brightonsfinest Music Guide’s seventh issue has just hit the streets of Brighton, paired with the Latest Brighton lifestyle mag, and it’s been great getting some much needed music-focussed reading into the hands of Brighton people. We’ve also just had our most successful showcase for The Great Escape festival, taking over St Mary’s Church in Kemptown with a buzzy line-up, topped with a stunning set and light show from local heroes Phoria. Head over to our YouTube Channel for our highlights video of the show. As things finally start to chill-out for the summer it’s great to cast our eyes back over the past six months to remind ourselves of some of the best that new music has had to offer, while we start scheming our next steps for the rest of 2018 and beyond!
To paraphrase that Marmite film classic, the streets were alive with the sound of music! Over three long days and nights, Brighton did truly come alive as The Great Escape juggernaut rolled into town for its 13th edition. The festival for new music saw over 500 acts playing in 40-odd venues, representing countries from all around the globe. If you add in the The Alternative Great Escape, and the plethora of events and pop-up performances arranged off the back of TGE and AGE, you’re looking at closer to 1,000 acts in 80-odd venues. Yes, it was mad, but glorious. Helped along by some beautiful mid-May sunshine, somehow within all the chaos, Brightonsfinest were out in force, documenting, commenting, and enjoying what we like to do best. Watch live music.
So, brace yourself. If you were there, hopefully memories will be stirred. If you weren’t, dive into our thoughts about the state of new music, and check out our many recommendations.
Back for its 13th year, The Great Escape is the premier showcase in Europe for new music. Over three days and nights, Brighton is host to 450-plus acts playing over 30 venues, from around 20 countries. You won’t have heard of many of these acts, but quality and potential is the name of the game here. Along with a few fairly established names, the bulk of the bill is made up of acts who have shown their talent, and are on the cusp of bigger and better things. It is a fabulous opportunity to check out new music, covering almost all genres known to man. Alongside The Great Escape, there’s The Alternative Escape, which also features a wealth of stunning new talent, and The Great Escape Convention, where many of the music industry’s movers and shakers congregate to check out the talent, and do a spot of networking and deal making. For three days in May, Brighton truly is the place to be! To help you get a grasp of what is out there, we asked various Brightonsfinest contributors, along with some industry players, to give us the lowdown on who they are looking out for.
The dictionary definition for ‘demob happy’ is, “Feeling elated because one is about to leave a stressful or responsible job or situation.” So how perfect that Newcastle-via-Brighton rockers, Demob Happy, brought the Holy Doom tour to their adopted home city on a Saturday, the day that most are free to do whatever they like. Many people, wisely, chose to spend it celebrating and dancing to Demob Happy’s excellent and intense live show – a decision that I don’t think anyone from the sold-out audience would regret. It was an exceptional commemoration of the band’s career to date, with a particular emphasis on the banger-laden new record which is already beginning to sound like an instant live classic.
Demob Happy are back – and my word they are back! The have brought with them Holy Doom, their sophomoric effort which features more of the sleaze, the swagger, the fuzz and the hooks that we’ve come to adore. The Brighton via Newcastle act have been together ten years now and it feels like they have just got into their stride with an album that is sure to be high up on our Best Of Year list. A lot has changed for these dirty rockers since 2015 when their seminal debut LP, Dream Soda, came out. The main thing being they have gone from a quartet to a trio. We questioned Matthew Marcantonio, when in Norway on a European tour with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, about their journey to this new album.
Three years on from their killer debut, Dream Soda, Demob Happy have finally returned with a powerful follow-up. They’ve lost a guitarist along the way, with the 2016 departure of Mathew Renforth, but Holy Doom still retains the band’s weighty presence on record, paired with an even greater sense of melody and harmony. Don’t for a second think they’ve gone soft though – this is a full throttle record, only its choruses are fuelled by harmonies that The Beatles would have been proud of. In fact, The Beatles come to mind quite a lot when listening to the retro rock stylings of Holy Doom. There’s a definite Lennon-esque twang to Matthew Marcantonio’s lead vocal, and the record is full of the sort of angular riffs that recall, at times, both the Fab Four’s heaviest and most psychedelic moments. Of course, Demob Happy are a damn site heavier than The Beatles ever could have been.
3:30 Blick Bassy
4:15 The Island Club
6:15 Holly Macve
7:00 Sam Jordan And The Dead Buoys
8:30 Fragile Creatures
9:15 The Magic Gang
10:15 Los Albertos
* these times may be subject to change
Friday 20th May 2016 – Free Entry
After an incredible Brightonsfinest debut at The Alternative Escape last year – where we took over the Latest Music Bar to create a legendary day and night of music, featuring the almighty Tigercub back to back with headliners Demob Happy and the Electro Afro Caribbean partyer Kuenta i Tambu who closed the late night slot in emphatic fashion – we are back for a second year and we are going bigger!
If you aren’t aware of what The Alternative Escape is, it’s a FREE festival which runs alongside the busy happenings of The Great Escape Festival, showcasing local and global acts in an array of different spaces. Brightonsfinest.com is taking control of the One Church at Gloucester Place to bring you the best emerging Brighton and international acts (as well as a super special headliner) in an incredible setting with delicious craft wines and beers. The line-up is as follows…
Here at Brightonsfinest HQ we are proud to announce the first in a series of vinyl compilation records we will be releasing through our newly established label wing Brightonsfinest Presents, showcasing all of the wonderful talent we come across on the site. Volume 1 is going to be a high quality (180gram) double-vinyl release with 21 tracks, exclusively for this year's Record Store Day (April 16th 2016) – an annual celebration of our fantastic independent record shops. As it is our first compilation we thought we’d be doing our name a disservice if we didn’t try to make this a Brighton-centric collection, and to that end we’ve worked our little socks off over the last few months and brought together a fantastic collection of tracks we couldn’t be prouder of releasing.
The tracks include top selling artists such as Royal Blood, Bat For Lashes, Gaz Coombes, Passenger, British Sea Power, The Levellers and Blood Red Shoes, to name a few, representing some of the greats who’ve launched their careers in our fine city (or at least spent some quality years living here), most of whom have been interviewed or reviewed in our magazine. Alongside these fantastic names we’ve peppered the four sides with plenty of exciting emerging talent, artists we predict will be Brighton’s proud stars of the future – Ocean Wisdom, Demob Happy, The Magic Gang, The Fiction Aisle and, signed to our label, Fragile Creatures. These artists are only just bringing out their first releases but the quality they display leads us to believe they’ll be entertaining us for years to come. Let me take you through the compilation track by track to give you a little background on the acts and songs we’ve chosen, just in case you needed any more convincing to get yourself down to your local Record Store on April 16th and snap up a copy before they all fly off the shelves!