Interview with…HAPPYNESS

So thrilled to get to chat to Benji from Happyness! Check out my full interview!

Bitter Sweet Symphonies

cabc21c0-3740-0134-a893-7662ca404560Cult lovers the world over, rejoice, Happyness are back on tour with a new EP, a fresh energy and an undiminished love of cake. Prior to their cracking show at Manchester’sSound Controlsupporting Twin Peaks, I grabbed a moment (and a beer) with the band’s guitarist Benji Compston, and queried him on the subject matter of their wonderful debut album ‘Weird Little Birthday’, their lyrical prowess, and what to expect next.

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Live Review: Pangaea Festival

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Photo: Virginia Saul

How can we begin describing Pangaea? Every semester, the theme is announced, everyone scrambles to assemble a costume, and the fancy dress vendors of The Arndale and The Northern Quarter gleefully rub their hands together. It’s an event that has been defined by many things; be it the organised mayhem that characterises the evening itself, or the personal escapades that go on within; few can forget last year’s ‘poogate’, though not for lack of trying.

It’s fitting then, that this time around, the theme was ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’, a reference to Alice In Wonderland, which much like Pangaea, steps unpredictably into a crazy, crazy world.

This brings us back to the question of how to begin in recounting the events of the festival. The difficulty is that everyone’s experience is totally different. There’s no such a thing as a seasoned Pangaea veteran, since every event is something of a lucid walk through a confusing array of club spaces, live bands, and function rooms.

The themed attire also adds to this bonkers vibe; drunkenly encountering 30 different people dressed as Alice, The Hatter, or Tweedle Dum over the course of the evening really adds to the charm, and really instills a sense of genuine fun being had by all.

Pangaea is fun, for the most part. Perhaps it’s the audacity of the entire event. A festival, in an evening, in a space not much larger than your average secondary school, which is also themed, and is the culmination of a mad Freshers’ week, and so on and so on. There’s no restraint on anything when it comes to the party itself and that’s kind of incredible.

You need only glance at the top of the bill acts to get a feel for Pangaea’s ambition. Ella Eyre, a star on the rise it would seem, delivered a packed and highly entertaining set. The familiarity of her material was a great surprise; the excited phrase ‘oh she did THIS one!’ was common throughout. Other acts such as Eliza And The Bear also impressed, grabbing the audience’s attention with ease. No mean feat in as colourful a festival as Pangaea.

But also, pleasingly, there was plenty of alternative and unusual music to be explored. MSC Big Band were a particular highlight. Regulars to this cavalcade of insanity, MSC were as audacious as the festival itself, squeezing a ludicrous amount of brass, keys and vocalists onto a tiny stage, and blasting jazz renditions of Snoop Dogg to a blind drunk audience in the pouring rain. They were in fact five times more fantastic than I can describe.

So Pangaea remains an oddly puzzling evening. It’s always difficult to define to those who haven’t been because it feels unlike anything else. But regardless of the identity crisis the event seems to suffer from, you always come away with a story, and in this case, it was a story of wide-grinning madness. And as a wise man once wrote: “Pangaea is entirely bonkers, but all the best festivals are”… or something along those lines anyway.

(originally published in The Mancunion 02/10/16: HERE)

LISTEN: Rosemary Fairweather ‘Calling Listening’

Bitter Sweet Symphonies

Rosemary Fairweather (Credit Kristina Ruddick)

With every track that Rosemary Fairweather drops, we learn more and more about her musical intention; she continues to establish her enigmatic nature with every release. We’re only just beginning to understand where her artistic roadmap will lead us. From the sparseness of her production to the plain white aesthetic of her cover art, Fairweather enforces her desire to paint broad strokes of intrigue on the bland, expressionless billboard that has come to define the music industry.

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Another Month’s Top Notch Listens (+ Radio Show Announcement!)

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Is anybody out there?

I’ve been having an incredibly busy summer, holidaying, writing music, living it up with my free time. This, unfortunately, means I haven’t written much original content for this blog in a while, sorry about that. But I have been writing for Bitter Sweet Symphonies, and have been reposting those articles on here, and I’m also going to write a piece on NOS Alive ’16, since I went, and saw, amongst other things, Radiohead and Arcade Fire. That’ll be worth a read right?

But anyway, for now, I thought I’d quickly do the same thing I did last time I had no time for full formal reviews, a cheeky roundup of what’s been on my headphones the last few weeks. ALSO stay tuned till the end, as I’m announcing details of a radio show I’m hosting next week (Wednesday 3rd August) in which some of these tracks might feature!

Cigarettes After Sex – Affection

‘Oh you’re gonna feel it someday’. So hums the gentle voice of Greg Gonzalez in this incredibly woozy tribute to love and strife. When you strip away the layers of reverb and ambience, the track itself is actually very simple, but the feel of heartache that quivers under the song’s skin is really quite something. I have a lot of love for this band.

Ty Segall – Californian Hills

I mean, come on, this track is just filth right? The murky, scratchy guitar lines, the nasally vocal delivery, the frantic intersections where all becomes rabid and wild, Ty Segall sounds downright dastardly on this cut from his newest album.

Mogwai – Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home

Part of the problem of constantly writing about new music is you tend to overlook the classics. Mogwai, a band I am very familiar with now (check out my review of Atomic), sound just as cinematic on this, their debut, as they do now. This opening track, with its patient bassline and stuttering opening speech, is thoroughly captivating, particularly on a long journey.

Rosemary Fairweather – Too Low

Now, I’ve written extensively about Rosemary Fairweather on Bittersweet Symphonies, but not on this track, which is by far my favourite. Atop a simple hip-hop beat, Fairweather’s delicate vocal and sensitive approach to dream pop sounds downright fantastic. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite tracks of this year, and I suggest you check the rest of her stuff out.

And there you have it, just a selection of the tracks I’ve been indulging in the last month or two. NOW, that radio announcement…

Cambridge 105, a community radio station based in Essex and Cambridgeshire, is giving me an hour to takeover their station and play some local unsigned music from both Cambridge and Manchester. I’m doing it under my band’s name Too Cool Kid, and I’ll be spinning some GREAT music, some you may have heard, much you won’t have heard. The show is live and on air on WEDNESDAY 3rd AUGUST at 9pm. If you fancy tuning in, you can do so via the online player on Cambridge 105’s website, which is…

http://cambridge105.fm/

To recap, the show is TOO COOL KID NMG TAKEOVER, Weds, 9pm BST. Do tune in!

More posts coming soon, take care, wash your hair, brush your teeth, look after yourself x

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Interview with…KALEO

An interview with Icelandic Blues-rockers KALEO!

Bitter Sweet Symphonies

KaleoWith their unique amalgamation of Folk and Americana Blues capturing the imagination of both the public and the press, we took the time to pin down the Icelandic powerhouse known as Kaleo for a chat, and asked them about their European Tour, their outlandish videos, and just what makes their music tick.

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Interview with…PLAZA

Interview with PLAZA …

Bitter Sweet Symphonies

12742347_665963560173425_463769148401143375_nIndie upstarts PLAZA are rapidly calling attention to themselves in the unsigned and underground scene, thanks to their fiery debut singles and energetic live shows. Their music, which sounds both agitated and anthemic, is drawing interest from all the right people, and they have been capitalising on it with a short five date tour.

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