With August's festival calendar seemingly busier than any other month, those of us with a persuasion to stand in a field watching live music are spoilt for choice. While V Festival might be the most corporate and therefore populist, the more discerning fan of both music and the arts in general would probably be found elsewhere. Such as Green Man for instance. Situated on the Glanusk Park estate in Crickhowell to the eastern point of the Brecon Beacons, it prides itself on being one of the most unique festivals around. Having grown from a capacity of just 300 people when it started in 2003 to the 20,000 revellers here to party this weekend, it's become a festival season highlight even with such a saturated market.
What also sets it apart is the stellar line-up organisers Fiona Stewart and Ben Coleman regularly pull out of the bag, and this year's edition was no exception. With the "sold out" signs hoisted long before this weekend, its reputation for putting quality control first speaks for itself. While its picturesque setting and heavy focus on locally sourced organic produce also render it a cut above the standard festival fare of greasy burgers and warm Carling where daily nourishment is concerned.
Indeed, the only thing that cannot be guaranteed is the weather but then this is the British summer time, right? Right. So without further ado, having acquired our passes and pitched up, Contactmusic are immediately drawn to the impressive bill taking place on the Far Out Stage this Thursday evening. Flamingods experimental take on psychedelic world music and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's full throttle sonic assault prove to be particular highlights. So much in fact that headliners Wild Beasts actually seem unsure about following either act on stage and play a surprisingly muted set of material mostly lifted from new record 'Boy King' instead.
Continue reading: Green Man 2016 - Live Review
Next weekend, Contactmusic will be heading to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales for the 14th edition of Green Man.
Having first opened its doors in 2003, the festival has grown from housing just 300 people at its inaugural event to the 20,000 that will experience this year's sold out extravaganza. While music undeniably takes centre stage, it also boasts ten different areas where various activities from Babbling Tongues' spoken word line-up to Einstein's Gardens' scientific pursuit can be encountered by all and sundry. Also, its diverse range of locally sourced, mostly organic food and drink makes a distinct change from your average festival standard fare of burger and chips with a pint of warm Carling.
Taking place from Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st August, the musical bill is also as diverse as one would expect from a festival that prides itself on being one of the least corporate and commercial events on the calendar. Indeed, looking through the line-up from top to bottom it's difficult to envisage a better one at any UK event this summer.
Continue reading: Green Man 2016 - Preview
Dom Gourlay picks out his top ten albums of 2015
10. Girl Band - Holding Hands With Jamie
Possibly the most eagerly anticipated debut from an underground band in recent times. The Dublin foursome's first offering did not disappoint, if not quite matching the intensity of their live shows. Bristling with visceral brutality somewhere between the polemic racket of Whitehouse and awkward disdain of The Fall, 'Holding Hands With Jamie' is an uneasy yet rewarding listen.
9. Surf City - Jekyll Island
Despite having formed over a decade ago, this New Zealand outfit have been more about quality than quantity when it comes to releases. So it should come as no surprise that 'Jekyll Island', their third long player, represents arguably their finest body of work to date.
Continue reading: Dom Gourlay's Top 10 Albums Of 2015
In reverse order, here's Jordan's top albums of 2013.
Jordan Dowling presents his top ten album favourites from the past year.
Nils Frahm 'Spaces' - 'Spaces' is a presentation of Nils' spellbinding live show and it is as good a presentation of his genius as you could hope for; a breath-taking journey launched from the most tender of foundations. Tapped pianos lead to reverb-washed synth chords and occasional dance motifs in an utterly organic manner.
Continue reading: Jordan Dowling's Top 10 Albums Of 2013
Three years ago in an interview with this very site, Indietracks' head honcho wearily talked about scaling down the cult festival after the pressures of maintaining it, even with a trusted team of volunteers, were becoming too great. The two editions that followed certainly consolidated the key elements of what made the festival unique without losing any of its charm, but somewhere along the line a change of heart must have occurred, as the seventh annual of the world's best celebration of indiepop, real ale and steam trains promises to be its biggest, and best, yet.
The three-day festival is headlined in 2013 by bis, The Pastels & Camera Obscura, and between them they give a concise overview of the festivals overall oeuvre; slightly obscured pop hooks, lyrics that alternate between 'witty' and 'weepy', a high weighting of bands from north of the border (all three artists are Glasgow based), tweeness that at times starts to become overbearing and occasional slithers of folk, punk and disco. The latter are returnees to the Midland Railway Centre after headlining 2009's edition and do so in the middle of a tour supporting the release of their fifth full-length Desire Lines, out June 3rd on 4AD, whilst bis and The Pastels, this year releasing their first album (ignoring collaborations) in over fifteen years, make rare live appearances.
Like every year preceding it, however, the real treats of 2013's line-up lay on its undercard. The Ballet make a short trip over to the UK for the festival and should prove to be a highlight with irresistibly catchy hooks which has led to comparisons with the earlier work of last year's headline act The Hidden Cameras, whilst The Lovely Eggs and Martha promise to inject a little pop-punk into the proceedings. At the other end of the spectrum (well, the festival's spectrum), Fever Dream offer something much darker, taking Interpol's call-and-response bass/guitar intricacies into the realm of hazy shoegaze and Flowers submerge beautiful melodies in a sea of feedback and fuzz in a way not too dissimilar from festival favourites The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.
Continue reading: Indietracks 2013 - Preview
Haiku Salut are a band who create music well outside of 'the box' and it's clear they share a love for most percussion instruments; Xylophones and keyboards which are probabaly older than the majority of their fans. If you find yourself yearning for something different or something more, this trio's diverse, unique sound is something that you need in your life. This is the type of album that other musicians would want to listen to in order to move away from their own genre and gain new inspiration. This trio's debut 'Tricolore' has such an uplifting positive feel to it that even if the weather is crap outside and you are feeling down, the music from this will bring sun light into your soul.
This purely instrumental album doesn't suffer from lack of vocals as the music says everything it needs to. In parts, Haiku Salut lean towards classical styles but it doesn't take long to find yourself immersed into something that wouldn't sound out of place on a retro computer game; 'Sounds Like There's A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart' not only proves this but says exactly how it sounds! Madness!
Next we fly into 'Leaf Stricken' and straight away it's easy to imagine one of the more commercial DJs sampling this to create a track that would give most advert music supervisors a wet dream. 'Watanabe' showcases simple yet incredibly effective piano playing, which might leave your own fingers feeling a little tired without playing a single note, but wow.
Continue reading: Haiku Salut - Tricolore Album Review