November Communion

11-02 London Communion v3 WebWe know you have all been waiting for details of our November Communion since you left the doors of Notting Hill Arts Club on Sunday.

Well we’re very excited to announce that we’ll have HAUS, Black Honey, Felt Tip, Fractures, LA Salami, Eliza Shaddad and Brooke Bentham on the bill.

Of course our ATFL DJS will be spinning some tunes until late. Grab your tickets HERE

October 8, 2014 under Gigs, News

Bea’rs Den announce ‘Islands’ 2015 Tour

Bear's_Den_Islands_Tour_2015_ex_BelgiumIn a world increasingly permeated by superficial connections and selfie-addicted narcissism, the need to slow down, draw breath, and think about what it’s really all about grows ever more acute.

Welcome to Bear’s Den. Inspired by Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s classic  ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, this London based trio (Andrew Davie; guitar & vocals, Kev Jones drums; vocals and Joey Haynes banjo; vocals) create music which -whisper it- dares to be both literate and profound. While, crucially, remaining universally accessible.

“Where The Wild Things Are appeals to us because it offers a dual perspective of seeing the world through both a kid’s and an adult’s eyes,” explains Andrew (known, simply, as Davie). “A lot of our songs address the world in the same way. Bear’s Den is our name for the island the kid escapes to.”

It’s tempting to see the trio’s quietly confident rise in fairytale terms, too. But Bear’s Den are built to last – touring duties to date have seen them play everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to touring the U.S with Mumford & Sons. It’s a far cry from Davie’s childhood in the West London suburbs (Chiswick, Acton, Uxbridge) when life as a musician seemed beyond the realms of probability. Schooled in the classics (Bob Dylan, The Kinks) by a music mad dad, his arrival at Music College only served to dampen his hopes.

“I only lasted a term. I was the only person in the class who was writing songs. I’ve always liked Bob Dylan’s quote in Scorsese’s ‘No Direction Home’ where he says: ‘People used to be judged on whether they had anything to say rather than what they sounded like’. That’s what interests me.”

Things changed when he started hanging out at the legendary Bosun’s Locker jam nights in Fulham. Immersed in a cultural vortex alongside a nascent Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, and a pre-Vaccines Jay Jay Pistolet (Davie sang backing vocals on the latter’s ‘Holly’), he was inspired to form his own band, Cherbourg, with trusted ally Kev Jones. However, it was only when the duo recruited guitarist & banjo player Joey Haynes on Cherbourg’s dissolution in 2012 that the melodies in his head became fully realised.

“I got goose bumps at the first rehearsal,” he recalls with a grin. “We’ve got wildly disparate influences, but the three of us together have got real chemistry. It just works.” Embarking on the age-old process of playing gigs anywhere and everywhere, the trio bridged the gap between performer and audience wherever possible; printing up limited edition bootleg cds with hand stamped ‘bear paw’ prints and individual town crest stamps specific for each gig.  Duly signed to renowned UK and US based record label, Communion, an inspired idea saw them conduct a U.S tour with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Staves, crossing the States in a convoy of ’60s VW Camper Vans.

“That was the point we really bonded as a band,“ acknowledges Davie. “And it was the most comfortable we’ve ever been on tour too!” Debut EP Agape (from the Greek for ‘love’) saw them integrate highbrow lyrics into a musical landscape spanning English folk and dusty Americana. Follow up Without/Within was more progressive still, with breezy guitar pop, (Writing On The Wall) reflective dream-rock (Sahara Pt II) and banjo-laden laments (Don’t Let The Sun Steal You Away) emerging from within a panoramic wash of synth bass and guitar loops. None of which fully prepares you for Islands.

Recorded with long-term producer Ian Grimble (Travis/Manic Street Preachers) at Crouch End’s Church Studios, it’s lyrically both restrained yet richly descriptive, the product of Davie’s novelistic approach to songwriting. “I’ve always been interested in the way Raymond Carver and Ernest Hemingway leave room for interpretation,” he explains. “It allows the listener to have their own individual relationship with the songs.”

The music is similarly multi-tiered; Kev’s dynamic push and pull on the drums and Joey’s melodic banjo parts complemented by the atmospheric sweep of the arrangements. “I obsess over that stuff,” says Davie. “If a song starts with banjo it puts you in a place. Use a synth or an e-bow, and the whole tone is different.”

Consequently, the music wraps itself around the words and the places they chronicle. From the crumbling child-parent relationship in Above The Clouds Of Pompeii to widescreen anthem The Love We Stole to heart-breaking confessional Stubborn Beast. “That was the first song our manager heard and connected with,” says Davie. “The isolated nature of it embodies pretty much everything we’re trying to achieve express.”

If live favourite Bad Blood was always going to be the finale, it’s on the mesmeric When You Break where everything falls into place. “The whole record is about people at a breaking point, whether it’s coming of age, or their lives falling apart,” says Davie. “Both lyrically and sonically that’s where everything just gets too much.”

Musicologists will note debts to everyone from CSN&Y to Youth Lagoon to – particularly – Elliot Smith, but its Islands central message of hope which truly resonates in these desensitized times. Davie states: “It’s difficult to talk about, but I do feel people are looking for some kind of spiritual connection. We’re all caught up in this blind rush for gratification which doesn’t seem to be doing us any good.  That’s where the lyric: “Guard your hope with your life” comes from in Elysium. It’s a simple sentiment but it’s honest. Ultimately, we’re trying to reach people and have a communal experience.”

Songs you can sing along to on the radio but which still glow in the dark – Islands might just be the album of 2014.

October 7, 2014 under Gigs, News

Jake Morley announces headline London show

Autumn 2014 JM London copyLateness is never a good look for an interviewer, and after a 10 minute sprint my attempt to stroll the last few yards casually surely wouldn’t fool anybody. Fortunately, Barnet-born singer-songwriter Jake Morley arrives at exactly the same time, and we bond over the inherent awkwardness of interviewing yourself. I’m shorter than I expected, with an almost imperceptible nervousness. “Relax,” he says seeing the same in me. “We do this every day”.

Self-reflection and internal narratives are major themes running through much of the bolder and more mature material that is set to follow 2012′s cult classic Many Fish To Fry. The joyful debut is clutched close to the chests of many as a result of extensive headline touring round the world, numerous festival and support slots, and enthusiastic support from Radio 2, 6Music, local radio and the press.

“I’ve actually only toured the UK, Ireland, one coast of Canada and a tiny corner of Europe,” he explains, “so I’d rather you didn’t say the world. And cult classic? Is that PR-speak for “not a big seller”? Why do you always have to hype everything up?”

His modesty belies a deeper talent borne out of thousands of hours of stage time winning over one audience at a time, and a ruthless dedication to his art. His deeply personal songs, captivating live presence and ground-breaking guitar style taking him from archetypal acoustic troubadour to sell out headliner at HMV’s Next Big Thing Festival, via legions of dedicated fans.

Morley cut his teeth in a bustling London singer-songwriter scene where Lucy Rose would book him and Ed Sheeran to play tiny pub rooms. Rising stars Rae Morris and Jack Garratt are contemporaries. Does commercial success, or lack of it, weigh on him at all? “My first album was clearly too original, too quirky, too damn radical for the mainstream market” he laughs.

Perhaps it’s more likely that it just wasn’t good enough. As The Guardian once said, “He is doing well: radio loves him… not that we’re fans, you understand… As records of fauxhemian guitar-plucking and husky vocals go, it’s just like all the other ones.”

Morley is quick to respond. “You’re probably right I’m not good enough, and to be honest my fans aren’t even that legion. But when we’re crammed into tiny venues and sharing big moments together I’m not wishing for more, I’m truly grateful. And I love it when my friends succeed. Sometimes you talk so much crap I wonder what you really add to my life.” Blah failure blah I was just thinking the same thing.

So began a progression in his writing as he sought to carve out a new weight and depth to his music, by uncovering new weight and depth to his life. The process was slow and painful, involving months of thought and a habit of re-writing songs multiple times. Many previous fans drifted away.

“I’ve never thought about anything as hard as these new songs before. Every detail of every single one means something to me, sometimes many things, and nothing is an accident. It was a crucifying method of writing that sometimes drove me close to the edge.”

The results are startling. First new single Falter is a controlled explosion of voices, strings, rhythms and a new guitar technique where each finger plays each string in turn. It’s hypnotic and beautiful, “The sound,” Morley says, “of everything suddenly crashing to a halt in slow motion”.

As we talk further he gets more and more animated. Finally I have to bring up Watch Yourself, a song where he duets with his unconscious mind, and we arrive at the moment I’ve been dreading. The moment where the elephant in the room goes from politely tugging on elbows to slamming drinks to the floor. Isn’t it a little worrying to be conversing with yourself like this?

“Absolutely. And all the more important because it’s the mechanism for our suffering, and if we learn to understand it the prize is happiness and self-discovery.

“Music needs to offer more than just posing about looking cool, feeding an ego that’s hungry for attention. It’s not a game – this is fucking serious. This is an emergency, we have to find meaning in our lives and the clock is ticking.

“The answers are not going to land in our inbox. We have to hunt them down like our lives depend on it, because they do. Artists in particular have an obligation to be fearless as well as just doing strummy strummy nice voice and collecting the applause.

Most importantly, we all have to disrupt the narrators holding us back, feeding us junk, in turn flattering and punishing us, listing our achievements while sniping and taking us down, distracting us, and wasting our time. We could find joy in the present if we could only let ourselves.

Hmmm looks like it’s just me left…

Nah you wish.

Jake will headline The Slaughtered Lamb on 3rd December, tickets here

October 3, 2014 under Gigs, News

Lisa Mitchell announces London shows

Lisa Mitchell London November 2014 v1 WebAt 24 years old and after 8 years with music as her craft, Lisa Mitchell has unquestionably earned her slightly lop-sided crown in Australia as Indie-pop Pixie Princess. With influences including Neil Young, Martha Wainwright, Feist, Patti Smith and Beirut and vocal comparisons to Joanna Newsome, her diverse rise to prominence has been eventful.

Her pilgrimage has encompassed an initial ill-fitting stint on a music reality show, two Top 10 albums in Australia, her glorious win of the prestigious AMP Award (Australia’s equivalent to The Mercury Music Prize) and impressively hitting the Top 10 on alternative radio Triple J’s annual sought after prize – The Hottest 100.

In the UK her single “Neopolitan Dreams” was featured on an artsy washing soap ad and was covered by a German artist for Eurovision prompting the song to reach Top 30 in Germany and one of her first ever gigs was at the illustrious Glastonbury Festival.

Mitchell returns with a voice that has been described as a “distinctive and quirky voice, which trembles with emotion”, The Music.

Her third album that is yet to be recorded, will begin with the evocative song “Wah Ha” which has a Bossa Nova twist and was co-produced by Lisa Mitchell and Tim Harvey, mixed by Eric J (Chet Faker, Flume).

She has chosen London to launch her new material at two special headline shows on 12th November at The Islington and 13th November at Slaughtered Lamb tickets available here,  before heading back to a farm in country Victoria to record what will be her third album that will be shared with the world mid 2015.

September 30, 2014 under News

The Mynabirds announces free show

The Mynabirds London October 2014 v1 WebAmerican singer and multi-instrumentalist Laura Burhenn named her band The Mynabirds partly as a nod to James Joyce, and partly a tribute to Neil Young’s Motown period (The Mynah Birds, with band mate Rick James). Her first album, 2010’s What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, produced by Richard Swift, was a masterful collection of indie-pop songwriting channeling the emotion of old soul, gospel and classic rock, with echoes of Dusty Springfield, Carole King, and yes, Neil Young, bleeding through. Her second album, GENERALS (2012), produced by Swift as well, upped the ante, drawing comparisons to PJ Harvey and Cat Power: a percussive, politically charged album filled with stomps, claps, and sweeping orchestrations, and moments that ranged from intensely personal to shout-out-loud protest. Both records were released to critical acclaim by Omaha-based label Saddle Creek.

Her newest album, currently being readied for a Spring 2015 release, was nearly a year in the making. She drove across the US twice and toured South Africa solo while writing, then spent 8 months in studios in Los Angeles, Nashville and Joshua Tree perfecting the songs and sound. It’s definitely new territory for Burhenn, forging into 80s, 90s and futuristic soundscapes, recalling Sinead O’Connor, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and even 90s hip hop and R&B, her brooding, unmistakable voice leading the way.

In addition to The Mynabirds, Burhenn has toured as a member of Bright Eyes and The Postal Service. Her Fall 2014 shows will be intimate, semi-acoustic performances featuring new songs along with some of the old favorites.

Claim your free E-ticket to The Slaughtered Lamb show HERE

September 24, 2014 under Gigs, News

Little May Announce London Show

LittleMayPosterHaving recently received a UK radio premiere from Lauren Laverne on BBC6 Music, indie folk trio Little May are gearing up to release their self-titled album on October 13th.

After performing sold out hometown shows and touring with Mikhael Paskalev, Sydney based Little May are moving across the pond for their UK debut show at The Waiting Room on October 15th.

Tickets available here

September 19, 2014 under Gigs

The Staves announce London date and new EP