Andrew Lockwood picks his favourite albums of 2015.
10. Belle & Sebastian - 'Girls In Peacetime'.
A glorious return to top form for Belle & Sebastian. 'Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance' contains all the bands trade mark signatures as well as introducing a few new ones. The generally up beat, playful tone of the album is full of pathos, dark humour and heartfelt musings. This is Belle & Sebastian back to their creative best. With an arty intellect and a wry take on life they have combined some of their most varied musical scores to date with more of their joyous lyrics.
9. Girl Band - 'Holding Hands With Jamie'.
A wake up call that needs to be heard. 'Holding Hands With Jamie' is a shot in the arm; a torrent of musical mayhem and magnificent noise. Distorted and unrelenting, 'Holding Hands..' is an unapologetic onslaught to the senses and a nerve tingling jolt of excitement. A quite brilliant debut.
Continue reading: Andrew Lockwood's Top 10 Albums Of 2015
The 12 Mercury Music 'Albums of the Year' were announced on Friday morning.
The Mercury Music Prize nominations for 2015 have been announced, and it’s a list with quite a few surprising omissions and inclusions.
The twelve artists fortunate enough to make the select list were announced over the course of Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6Music Radio show on Friday (October 16th), with Florence + The Machine and Wolf Alice being the biggest names among the dozen.
Florence’s third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, which reached Number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic earlier this year, is her second nomination after her debut Lungs in 2009, which was beaten by Speech Debelle. Wolf Alice’s first album My Love Is Cool came out in the same month and made Number 2 in the UK, winning rave reviews in the process.
Continue reading: Mercury Music Prize 2015 Nominations - Who's On The List?
Ghostpoet arrives in Leeds with his unique brand of beautifully crafted electronica combined with insightful lyricism and a musicality that has shined through since his debut album 'Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam' back in 2011. With the Belgrave Music Hall brimming with excitement, Palace take to the stage to start their support slot. The four piece band fill the room with dreamy, reverb drenched guitar tones and intricate lead lines. The packed crowd leave a fair distance between themselves and the stage, but that doesn't stop Palace's frontman giving passionate vocal performances, and the Leeds audience are definitely receptive. The tempo varies throughout their set; Palace keep a real groove with solid drumming and atmospheric textures. The catchy melodies and nice tom based playing of 'Bitter' make the hook incredibly memorable and effective, and 'Veins' slows the mood with a 6/8 time signature filled with bluesy solos, both picked and with a slide. This London band, with a very current sound, start the evening off in tremendous fashion, before Ghostpoet himself takes to the stage donned in a leather jacket looking cool as ever.
The crowd fills to the front as mysterious smoke clouds the stage as the band walk on. Instantly demonstrating his deep vocal tone on 'Better Not Butter', Ghostpoet opens with a bang, and the frantic percussion gets the whole of Belgrave Music Hall vibing. 'X Marks The Spot' follows, and the four to the floor kick, heavy riffs and fantastic backing vocals create a powerful soundscape for Ghostpoet's unorthodox and instantly recognisable musings. Following this comes 'Survive It', another track from the Mercury nominated debut album. The 32-year-old's own kind of poetry is fascinating, and his strong London twang comes through the microphone in an endearing way. With basslines and synths reminiscent of the 80s, the performance is infectious and sweeps through the room as Ghostpoet reassures the crowd that it's OK to sing along.
The slow tempo and deep groove of 'That Ring Down The Drain Kind Of Feeling', from Ghostpoet's new album 'Shedding Skin', combined with powerful, charismatic vocals, show his diversity and musical growth. Hearing tracks from each of his releases tonight shows the range and consistent quality of Ghostpoet's music. His attention to detail in terms of what his band are playing makes the performance run so smoothly, and this is evident with the variety of textures displayed in 'The Pleasure In Pleather', where the sparse arrangement builds before overdriven guitars join, giving great impact. Ghostpoet continues playing with textures to maximum effect on 'Be Right Back, Moving House', with a tense, emotional build up. He creates continuously captivating pieces of music that are expertly translated to the stage, and the ability to go from hard hitting, loud songs to intense, hypnotic tracks keeps the interest level at a consistent high.
Continue reading: Ghostpoet - Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds - April 4th 2015 Live Review
Obaro Ejimiwe cut his teeth on widely successful, Mercury nominated debut 'Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam' - a sleepy answer to the UK's frigid urban music scene by a very promising producer and vocalist. A collection of ornately produced beats that capture not only the tone, but the thoughts that peruse the mind during moonlit wanderings around estates, high-streets and motorways.
'Shedding Skin' comes as Ghostpoet's third album and surprises us all over again by this time murmuring his heavy-eyed lyrics before a live band. Proving that his creativity is not limited to the boundaries of one type of sound, 'Shedding Skin' spans many areas of rock as the canvas for Ghostpoet's sleepy social commentary.
No stranger to getting his pals involved, Ghostpoet enlists guitarist Joe Newman, drummer John Blease and bassist John Calvert as the bones of his band while making space for the brooding, soulful Nadine Shah, Belgian jazz singer Melanie De Biaiso, Lucy Rose and Maximo Park's Paul Smith.
Continue reading: Ghostpoet - Shedding Skin Album Review
Now in its seventh year, Oxjam shows no sign of slowing down. Oxjam's reputation is one that continues to attract some of the UK's biggest performers. Passed acts include Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Jarvis Cocker and Fatboy Slim. The Oxjam Music Festival sees gigs taking place all over the UK throughout October put together by members of the public to raise money for Oxfam. A truly worthwhile cause and a brilliant chance to check out local talent as well as well established artists.
The second day of Oxjam's launch party saw Eliza Doolittle and Ghostpoet play alongside the likes of Chloe Howl, FuseODG and The Fox Problem, who are now a quartet thanks to the addition of former Made in Chelsea star Ollie Locke.
This was more than a gig. It was a party!
Talking to the artists... Small festivals don't necessarily mean an inferior line-up as was more than proved at the quaint Beacons Festival 2013 in the Yorkshire Dales town of Skipton. We caught up with Ghostpoet before his Friday set (which was definitely a weekend highlight!) where he confessed that he'd 'changed in many ways and some of it may have been for the better and some of it not' over the last year but still doesn't think of himself as 'being successful'. He also talked about working with Melo-X and his fondness for documenting interesting cars on Instagram. Read the full interview here.
NYPC have abandoned their former moniker of New York Pony Club as they have gone through quite a rebirth since the departure of former band member Lou Hayter. 'We've taken what we've perceived as being the strongest elements of the previous two albums and tried to make them into something which is mature and progressive', Tahita Bulmer told us in an interview when we caught up with them to talk about their new self-titled album. She also didn't hesititate to tell all about NYPC's touring adventures - including their trip to the 'amazing' and 'unspoilt' Kazakhstan. Read the full interview here.
Beacons Festival returned to the scenic Yorkshire Dales at Skipton's Heslaker Farm once again for the August 16 - 18 weekend bringing music, food, arts and a host of other treats to an audience that have travelled from much further afield than the outskirts of Yorkshire. After a triumphant, sun-soaked return following difficulties in previous years, the return of Beacons Festival was one met with eager anticipation and with such an impressive line-up announced, the pressure was on for the festival to succeed and deliver once again.
As campers battled to put up their tents during the sporadic showers on Thursday night, the warm return of the sun on Friday morning was a much needed boost for the festival, one that stuck around for most of the duration, bar a soggy Saturday. Futuresound competition winners Battle Lines opened up the Noisey 'You've Got To Hear This' stage and ultimately brought the festival itself to life with a raw and invigorating performance. Expect big things from this young Leeds band. As the day went on, the scope and size of the festival really became apparent, and a walk across the campsite to the 'other' part of the festival arena to see Mickey P Kerr's hilarious set at the ELFM stage really put into perspective what the festival organisers were trying to achieve. The camping area and the arena itself almost melded into one designated area that brought an expansive festival atmosphere to a relatively small area. At no point did anything seem squashed together or unsoundly designed, as the overlapping elements of the festival only ever made it seem cosier, and never uncomfortably snug. It was encouraging to know that from the get go you were at a festival that was determined to not oversell itself to ensure that the festivities didn't suffer as a result. Money might not be everything after all.
Before finally leaving the ELFM stage on the other side of the arena following King No-One's fantastic semi-acoustic set, it was back to the main arena to check out the stalls and stands that offered something a little different for the festival connoisseur; from art exhibits and craft courses, whiskey tasting workshops and a smorgasbord of food (oh, the food!) options for any palate. As the night drew closer, festival returnee Ghostpoet was on hand to bring his leisurely flow to the main stage with a rapturous set, but there was little time to hang around afterwards as Oneman was about to begin what would turn out to be one of the defining performances of the weekend. The DJ rarely disappoints with his sets and his Friday night set (the first hour of it at least) was packed with banger after banger. Whilst the prospect of seeing Bonobo may have been too much to ignore for some, Canadian punk rockers F****d Up were far too tempting and choosing them over Bonobo and the rest of Oneman's set may have been the best decision made all weekend. Opening with the first two tracks from 2011's seminal album David Comes To Life, mixing in a few oldies for good measure and even playing a brand new song, the set had people moshing at the front and boogying at the back. The pressure was on from there on to beat F****d Up as the best performers of the weekend, and it was a task that many nearly achieved, but few succeeded in coming close.
Continue reading: Beacons Festival - 2013 Live Review
Ghostpoet (born Obaro Ejimiwe) makes his second appearance at Skipton's Beacons Festival in as many years, returning as one of the top-billed artists and one of the most-looked-forward-to acts over the course of the three-day event. After a whirlwind 12 months, there was more than enough to run through with the Mercury-nominated artist, with extensive tours and a new album all falling between his two Beacons performances. We managed to catch up with him before his set on Friday night to talk touring, his new album and cars.
It's your second year at Beacons, how does it feel to be back?
Yeah, it's nice to be back, it's a good place.
Is there a particular attraction to smaller festivals over the bigger ones?
It depends really, it depends. I'm not drawn to anything in particular really; all I want to do is play for people. So, yeah, if someone gives me the opportunity to play, I play.
Continue reading: Ghostpoet - Interview
A week in music videos... Kanye West has been doing a lot of promotion for his edgy, rock-infused track 'Black Skinhead' (or 'BLKKK SKKKN HEAD' as it's otherwise known'), the lead single from his US and UK number one album 'Yeezus', so his anger when the unfinished video directed by Nick Knight was leaked earlier in July was unsurprising. He described the unauthorised distribution as 'heartbreaking' and no wonder; a video as unique as this was definitely worthy of a grand entrance but, nonetheless, the spoiler has definitely not affected the viewing experience.Watch the video for BLKKK SKKKN HEAD here.
French house star Kavinsky has already become a hit in his home nation with his debut album 'OutRun', released earlier this year, reaching number 2 in the charts and he's certainly turning heads overseas too. Teaming up with Canadian producer The Weeknd on one of his newest singles, Kavinsky delivers a driving dance beat with 'Odd Look' - the single from his new EP of the same name. The track also features on his album as a collaboration with fellow electronic musician SebastiAn. Listen to Odd Look here.
Plus,more from Tom Odell, Justin Bieber and The Thermals...
A Week In Reviews... This week saw 14-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys head to the UK for a series of dates, and boy did it seem that the girl really was on fire. A storming appraisal from us here at Contactmusic, for her show in Manchester proved that Keys hasn't lost her spark over 16 years in the game."If one thing's for certain tonight it's that Alicia Keys is the perfect crossover star, with an old school approach to music and a new school approach to showmanship; the girl really is on fire" we reckoned.
Meanwhile, across the Pennines in Leeds, Mercury-nominated Ghostpoet was in town to perform plenty of new material. However, there was plenty to take in for both fans old and new, with Contactmusic's Joe Wild writing "Whilst the show was unquestionably a vehicle to promote his new material, the MC did sprinkle some Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam favourites into the set-list, such as 'Liiines' and 'Cash and Carry Me Home' to keep the faithful fans happy. But it was the renditions of newbies 'Dial Tones,' 'MSI MusmiD' and new single 'Meltdown' that really got the crowd amped and responding to his metaphor-laden lyrics and urban-decay-inspired beats."