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Whilst 2016 has been too full of tragedy and sad loss it has also undoubtedly been a bumper year in terms of album releases.
There is no way to aptly mark the passing of some of the very best artists of any generation but in amongst the untimely deaths has come some inspirational and ground breaking music.
My albums are all ones I have enjoyed immensely and continue to play. Whilst Radiohead, M.I.A, Peter Doherty and many others may have missed the cut it wasn't really a difficult choice this year. It may not be all that eclectic but there are some great albums in there. Nick Cave's Skeleton Tree is not only this years best album but also an album that is rapidly becoming one of my all time favourites, it's just so good.
Continue reading: Andrew Lockwood's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
On the South East coast of England, in the once resplendent seaside resort of Margate, By The Sea Festival took up residency in the re-imagined heritage pleasure park, Dreamland. After the success of Foals and Hot Chip in its inaugural year By The Sea returned to a resurgent Margate to blend the established with the up and coming in an environment like no other. Amongst the helter skelter, big wheel, carousels and coasters the various artists took to the stages (and decks) in the wonderfully evocative Roller Disco, down at the dodgems or in the newly restored Hall By The Sea. With Kiss Me Quick cocktails and enough locally brewed cider to entice The Wurzels the amassed throngs were in for a very entertaining weekend.
Wild Beasts ("They're so f'ing sexy"-Blaine Harrison, Mystery Jets) got off to a cracking start in the Hall By The Sea with a pumped up version of 'Big Cat' and an impromptu birthday celebration for "ideosynchratic drummer" Chris Talbot before launching into a sizemic, shape shifting and floor shaking rendition of 'He The Colossus' and a wonderful working of 'Wanderlust'. The Kendal foursome sounded on top of their game, channelling circa '82 Simple Minds, ahead of their upcoming live set on 6Music.
In the shabby chic surroundings of the kitsch come cool Roller Disco, Mystery Jets got joyously playful with 'Flash A Hungry Smile'. After the initial grief imparted in 'Telomere' they ramped up the tempo and asked the assembled masses, "do you feel like dancing?" A blinding rendition of their single, 'Bubblegum', ensued. Taken from the band's latest album, 'Curve Of The Earth', it easily got the biggest interaction of the night so far. The Middlesex quartet followed up with another crowd pleaser, 'Young Love', and quite bizarrely another birthday shout-out, this time for Gary who did all of the MJ's art work! With apparently "too many tracks for just one album this year" the band took to a highlight off their new 5 track E.P, 'The Whole Earth', 'The World Is Overtaking Me' sounded spectacular, with front man Blaine and his three cohorts synched in tight unison, delivering a belting track replete with (Tubeway Army era) Numan esc keyboard loop, they sounded awesome; full of passion and presence as well as full of love for their fellow performers, especially The Big Moon, Wild Beasts and Meilyr Jones (at one time late on in his set striking a quick Bowie pose whilst teasing us with an all too brief classic Bowie riff) Mystery Jets pitched it perfectly in the Roller Disco with a short, sharp very entertaining set that left you just aching for a little more.
Natasha Khan (aka Bat For Lashes) and music producer Jon Hopkins have collaborated on 'Garden's Heart'; a new song set to feature on the soundtrack to Saoirse Ronan's gripping new drama film 'How I Live Now'.
The video for the track begins with a clip from the movie, where Saoirse's character Daisy gets split up from her boyfriend by soldiers during the onslaught of the Third World War. She is then seen running a bath and tending to her cuts and bruises miserably, while appearing to visualise plants and lily pads in the tub, taking her back to her favourite countryside spot where she and her lover would talk and go skinny dipping. The song has a slow and steady rhythm, almost like beating heart, and Natasha's vocals are as charming and evocative as ever with the power to reduce any listener to tears even without the depressing subject matter of the movie.
Jon Hopkins had been working on the rest of the film score when he decided to enlist the talents of Natasha - a decision that was enthusiastically backed by director Kevin Macdonald. Bat For Lashes released her third album last year entitled 'The Haunted Man' and is currently on her US headline tour supporting it.
The band are the likely winners of the Ivor Novello for Best Contemporary Song.
Mercury Music Prize winners Alt-J could well be adding an Ivor Novello award to their collection of gongs, NME announced today (April 17, 2013). The band have been nominated in the Best Contemporary Song category for their song Fitzpleasure, alongside Plan B’s Ill Manors and The Maccabees Pelican. Alt J won last year’s Mercury Music Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave. The album has also been nominated in the Album Award category, alongside Beon Howard’s Every Kingdom and Lianne La Havas’ Is Your Love Big Enough?
The awards ceremony celebrates songwriting ability and the remainder of the categories are Best Song Musically and Lyrically, Best Contemporary Song, PRS for Music Most Performed Work, Best Original Film Score and Best Television Soundtrack.
The full list of nominees is below. The 58th annual Ivor Novello awards will take place on May 16th, 2013 at London’s Grosvenor House.
Continue reading: Will Alt J Add An Ivor Novello Award To Their Mercury Gong?
This year’s Brit Awards nominations look as though they were concocted by a group of strangers, with wildly different cultural backgrounds, on a drunken night out. Is this a sign that the mainstream music world is finally starting to accept that it’s becoming more and more acceptable to have diverse musical tastes? Or are the organisers of the BRITS simply trying to spark controversy? have they lost the plot? Or is this an honest reflection of the mindset of a 2013 British music buying public? Let’s take a look at the evidence, and scrutinise some of the more baffling categories…
British Female Solo Artist Nominees – One of the more sensitive and contentious issues, here, in the British female solo artist category. Of the five nominees, only four of them were alive this year. We understand that Amy Winehouse has a lasting legacy in British pop music. We understand that she was – and, in many ways remains - a tour de force. But, for the sake of the awards, we simply have to ask, at the risk of sounding flippant, what has Amy Winehouse done for British music in the last 12 months? Sadly, nothing. Her posthumous album (released in December 2011, we should add), Lioness: Hidden Treasures was politely and quietly denounced for being little more than cuttings from the studio floor. We simply can’t get our heads around her inclusion on this list. With Bat For Lashes throw in as the ‘alternative’ wild card, to lend a touch of outsider cool to the category, it’s between Emeli Sande, Paloma Faith and Jessie Ware to catch this one, we reckon.
Continue reading: BRIT Awards 2013 Nominees Announced: Diverse? Or Just Weird?
In 2006, Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, released her debut album Fur And Gold. However, it was not until she appeared on the (formerly less bloated and more focused) Culture Show in February 2007 that I paid her much attention. Her voice, the arrangement, her character, the performance and the overall song were all utterly individual and completely captivating; almost instantaneously substantiating the old adage that first impressions really do make the strongest of impressions. Later that same year she and her band appeared at Glastonbury, performing a stunning (televised) set drawn from the Mercury nominated album. As well as showcasing what a unique and formidably talented performer she is, this performance, for me at least, also served to qualify and validate my opinion that Natasha Khan is a truly remarkable artist.
In 2009, Khan released her second album, Two Suns, garnering further critical acclaim, another Mercury Music Prize nomination and a wider audience. Familiar themes of love, relationships, treasure, celestial bodies and dreams continued to run through her song writing but the new material definitely highlighted a more accomplished, assured Khan expressing herself with a justifiable confidence.
The latest album from Bat For Lashes, The Haunted Man, is a another move forward for Khan. It still plays on her strengths and yet again reminds us what a terrific singer-songwriter she is. This time around she has also employed the skills of some prodigious talent (Beck, Rob Ellis, Adrian Utley) as well as trusted producer David Kosten to aid and abet her to make another stunning album.
Continue reading: Bat For Lashes - Haunted Man Album Review
Natasha Kahn, or Bat For Lashes as she is better known, appears completely nude on the cover of her new album, The Haunted Man, (with the obvious bits covered up of course), and whilst the album has received near universal praise from critics, it has also whipped up quite a storm due to the ‘explicit’ cover.
In light of this controversy, Kahn has admitted that she herself is thoroughly shocked at the amount of criticism the album cover has garnered, citing the fact that the music industry is awash with overtly sexual representation of women, so then why should her album cover be any different.
Speaking to Spinner magazine, she went on to add, "I think it freaks people out because I've got no makeup on, there's no retouching. It's super-raw and wild and black and white. But that's what Patti Smith did, that's what PJ Harvey did, that's what all the coolest people have done, from my icons anyway."
Continue reading: Album Cover Controversy Confuses Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Kahn
Date of birth
25th October, 1979
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