All posts by nick tompkins

Korea Rocks UK tour- Camden Barfly 29/04/13

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Monday, May 6 2013

They say that the best things in life are free. So when the chance arises to see four award winning rock bands who have flown all the way from South Korea to melt the faces of the good people of the UK, and all without spending a hard-earned penny, only a fool would choose to stay at home,sinking into the bottom-shaped groove in their favourite chair, wandering what could have happened that night at Camden’s Barfly…

The first band arrives on stage. Long hair conceals the faces of the mysterious men, as they stand superior and unmoving, towering over an eager audience. After tearing through several brutal and fearsome original numbers, the sheer power and volume of which could quite easily erode the skin from the face, Daeinn Kim on bass screams “we are Apollo 18 and we are a f***ing Korean indie band!” There is never a pause for the noise, when the band aren’t parading the stage and punishing their instruments and the venue’s speaker system, their instruments squeal and shriek with enmity and hostility. Apollo 18’s mostly instrumental blend of metal, with occasional screams from Kim and Hyunseok Choi, guitar, trembles the foundations of the room with raw power. The set finale, ‘Warm’, is the only slow number of the set, and builds into a spine-tingling instrumental that leaves the audience astounded at the mix of beauty and aggression three men can create.

Next on the bill are Galaxy Express. Galaxy Express have the stage presence of rock gods and are a rare example of a band that have the ability to turn a quick sound check into an audience participation, exchanging a series of back-and-forths with the crowd, building them into ferocious excitement. The band deliver a breed of melodic metal tunes with sing-along choruses; they do love a good “woah woah woah” section and so do their audience who have by now realised what an absolute steal this gig has already been. During a set of madness and mayhem, heads are banged, feet are stomped, eyes are widened in a ‘rock-and-roll psychopath’ manor, guitars are thrust into the faces of the front row while mind-bending solos squeal through the room- the Townshend speciality ‘windmill’move is even featured in the climax of the set. Galaxy Express are extraordinary showmen and even better songwriters. What a half hour!

Time for a slight change in tempo. Goonam, a reggae and ska infused psychedelic indie band, enter the stage. Fronted by Ung Joh, vocals and guitar, and Byunghak Eem, bass guitar, vocals, and possibly the jolliest man in the world, create a sound of Beatles-like melodies, dancy reggae guitars and mesmerising keyboards,created by a band of natural charisma and energy. Joh, in thick glasses, a tightly buttoned shirt and a bowl-cutted head becomes a guitar legend when he feels the tingle of a solo fall upon him; Eem remains unfathomably jolly, beaming away at each individual member of the audience and bobbing his head like an extremely merry pigeon. This feeling of ease and happiness is combined with occasional energetic screams from Joh and scrappy, messy guitar hooks, giving Goonam an occasional punky sound in amongst the psychedelic haze of summery, feel-good melodies. It is impossible not to be enticed by the beauty of Goonam’s sound and the range of styles they produce- get these guys at an English summer festival and they will be hailed as heroes.

Final act of the night, Gate Flowers deliver an intense experience of the most potent metal imaginable. Singer, Keunhong Park transitions between growling, vicious screams and high-pitched squeals creating an almost surreal sound. At times Bak takes the grizzly aggression of an Iggy Pop-like vocal, while the instrumental rings with classic rock riffs and ruthless drums. After roaring out a set of insanely powerful and impactive originals, the band reveal that “since it’s the 50th anniversary of a great rock and roll band”, they tear into a cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’. The crowd shrieks with excitement and the band completely transform the song into their own sinister blend of rock and roll,and manage to do real justice to such an iconic tune. Gate Flowers send the crowd home with adrenaline still in the blood and ringing still in the ears.

Korea can rest assured that the message of their ever-growing music scene has been well and truly spread. After an extensive UK tour, these four supremely talented bands will surely find themselves a whole host of newly converted British fans.

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A review of Tom Farrer's 'Son Of '87'

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Friday, February 1 2013

Tom Farrer is one of those inexplicably underrated artists that, when I see the likes of Little Mix, Jedward and Bieber on the television, and hear their whinings on the radio, a bit of sick ends up in my mouth- perhaps a sour tasting symbol of the sheer injustice in this world. Farrer’s new song, Son Of ’87 is another of Farrer’s examples of sheer talent and musicianship, minus the pretentiousness of the vast majority of modern popular music.

One thing you must understand about Tom Farrer is that he, much like the likes of Jake Bugg, is a real reminder of rock music’s past. His tunes ring with a kind of classic folk-rock vibe- a sound that takes you back to a bar in London, the early morning around the campsite of a festival or the mellow ending to a party.

Onto the song itself: Son Of ’87 is not a single, it is simply Farrer’s latest creation, co-written with his friend, Joel Williamson, and recorded in Williamson’s bed sit, the track is modest and understated- no percussion, no backing track, no harmonies, just guitar and vocals. The guitar introduction is simple and actually quite striking in its quiet delivery, somewhat reminiscent of the introduction to Marley’s Redemption Song, in its loose timing and simplicity rather than the actual tune. Farrer’s vocals are delicate and earnest, singing poetic lyrics with real conviction, “But it’s over now, I let you down/ My son of ‘87” before uttering “if you could see me now…” a genuinely moving line. The tune has no bridge section; it is a series of verses and choruses, but this does not make the song repetitive or boring, far from it, the tune is strong enough to stand alone with no frills attached to it. Son Of ’87 is an easy listen, as well as one with some superb lyrics and real character to it.

Farrer has an array of original material, with upbeat full-band numbers such as Louie Come Back- a track with an energy that simply belongs in a live set, Promised Land, and the ridiculously impactive This Or The Railroad, as well as beautiful (in a manly way) songs like Dead Dog and of course, now, Son Of ’87. Farrer is currently in the process of recording his debut album, so keep a close eye on this fine musical prospect, but until then, all of these tracks can be found online (Youtube, Soundcloud, Myspace etc) so it’s well worth having a listen to a fantastic song-writer doing what he does best. I’ve been following Farrer since I was a precious fifteen years old and he signed my Lounge On The Farm programme, and I’m counting on making some serious money in the future. Watch this space.

Like Tom Farrer on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tomfarrermusic?fref=ts

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2012: My Year In Music

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Tuesday, January 15 2013

So we’re at the very beginning of our new year, 2013, so I think it’s important to look back on what turned out to be such an exciting year (for me) in terms of Indie music.

I’m going to start the year all the way over in May because that’s when the hangover of 2011 had truly lifted and the real magic started to happen. On May 21st, The Enemy released their third full-length album, Streets In The Sky, which after the heavy criticism of album number two (still a great record in my view), had plenty to answer to. Luckily, these guys knew just what to do, and they came out with an album stripped right back to the raw power we heard from The Enemy in their debut, but with a far more optimistic message behind the album as a whole. The sound was aggressive, guitar dominant, as well as being simple and brilliantly catchy which is what can only be expected from a songwriter like Tom Clarke who prefers to throw music snobbery aside for a decent tune. Tracks such as This Is Real, Gimme The Sign and Bigger Cages Longer Chains give us the raw power we crave while Two Kids and Get Up and Dance show us the sensitive side of the Coventry trio.

While we’re on the subject of glorious comebacks, let’s talk about Lex Hives, the fifth album from Sweden’s greatest Rock’n’Roll band (as they have modestly dubbed themselves) after an agonising five year wait- FIVE YEARS! This self-produced record was released internationally on June 4th, and like a hungry lion on an unsuspecting gazelle, I pounced on it. In the process of bringing it home for my first listen, the fears of “what if I hate it? Maybe I should just never listen to it to avoid disappointment…” kicked in. Of course this was all ridiculous because The Hives produced one of their best records to date. It’s so hard to find consistency in modern music- it’s hard to find a band that shows the same genius for more than two albums; however, much like a modern Stones, The Hives have so far come out with five consecutive albums jam packed with sheer awesomeness. With the addition of a brass section, tracks like Go Right Ahead and UK bonus track, Midnight Shifter were an exciting new element but if it ain’t broke, The Hives won’t fix it, so for the remainder of the album these music legends stuck to what they’re best at: fast paced, no nonsense Rock music. For the record, The Hives put on the best live show of any band I’ve ever seen, so if you ever have the rare chance to catch them in the UK, for goodness sake take it!

As the sun was setting from the UK’s wettest summer on record, all was not lost for on August 13th, Indie newbies, Spector released their debut album, Enjoy It While It Lasts, after a string of singles including Chevy Thunder which was to shake Britain. Spector produced a record where every single song, even the slower ones, like an exceptionally vigilant koala bear, clings to your brain for the rest of the day- sometimes even longer. What makes Enjoy It While It Lasts such a marvel is its shameless simplicity, its lyrical charm and, of course, Fred Macpherson’s smooth vocal throughout. If you haven’t experienced Spector, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

The very next week, on August 19th, a band I think we’ll hear a lot more of pretty soon, Life In Film, released their first five-track EP entitled Needles And Pins. With a sound that’s both slightly melancholic in a Morrissey kind of way, whilst also being summery with a beautiful trebly guitar tone, the EP is so understated, often leaving me to question whether there is any justice left in this world. Title track Needles And Pins is sad and beautiful in its melody, while Until It’s Over, with its clever guitar riff, and perfectly placed bass drum during chorus giving it some real power behind it. I had the pleasure of interviewing lead vocalist Sam, and not that it makes a difference to the music, but he was extremely pleasant! Anyway, keep a close eye out for these guys because I think once they get an album out there will be no stopping them.

September 3rd marked both the release of The Vaccines’ second album, and The Milk’s debut album. Let’s start with The Milk- Tales From The Thames Delta: I watched this band in the summer of 2011 and thought they were absolutely great- they were energetic, musically flawless and all in all gave memorable performance. This still didn’t prepare me for the impact their first album would have on me. I was completely blown away by the record. I’d forgotten how R’n’B influenced it was, and just how strong singer Clarie Robin’s vocals were. The album is instrumentally excellent; featuring irresistibly dance-worthy drum beats working perfectly with the guitar. Stand out songs would have to be Broke Up The Family, B-Roads, Chip The Kids and my personal favourite (All I Wanted Was) Danger, but album closer, Lay The Pain On Me, is fragile, as well as soulful and is a testimony to Robin’s vocal range.

The Vaccines second album, Come Of Age was surprisingly different to NME golden boys’ first album. The style was essentially the same: still very much a guitar band, still very much Indie music, but this second taste of The Vaccines gave the feeling they’d gone deeper into music than before, experimenting with more unusual melodies, seen in Aftershave Ocean and Weirdo. The album probably doesn’t quite match its predecessor but is nonetheless a great set of tracks.

Late September saw the long awaited return of Mumford and Sons who managed to find a place in most of the world’s hearts in 2009 with Sigh No More. Their follow-up release, could never be anything other than a great album- the reasons for this being it is too darn similar to their first album to be classed differently! So, yes, Babel, is full of beautiful harmonies, the rustic sound of a banjo and a double bass, which is all great- in all fairness it is a great album! It has to be said, however, that it could easily be mistaken for the first album, in the strumming patterns of the songs, particularly the likes of I Will Wait and the undulation of Marcus Mumford’s melodies in tracks such as Holland Road do seem slightly similar to previous Mumford songs. However back-handed this may seem, I do genuinely love the album, it’s an easy listen, it’s full of beautiful harmonies, and if Sigh No More had never existed I am confident this would boost Mumford to stardom all the same, I just think the third album needs to catch us off guard slightly.

By October the 8th, Nottingham’s new boys, Dog Is Dead, released their debut full-length album, All Our Favourite Stories. I have already raved about this in a review but just to reiterate- the album, to me, is more or less perfect. Dog Is Dead have found a sound so unique to them and with such credibility: refreshingly, each of the five members can sing, and in turn their harmonies are phenomenal; Indie music seems to have gone crazy for harmonies lately but these guys really know how to do it. All Our Favourite Stories is a great summer soundtrack (despite it’s October release), with tunes like their self-confessed “American douchebag song”, Talk Through The Night as well as the classic Glockenspiel Song. Dog Is Dead convey real emotion and meaning in their songs without being pretentious and are definitely only going to get bigger and bigger from here on out.

My final two albums were released the very next week on October 15th. Firstly: Little Comets’ follow up to In Search Of Elusive Little Comets, named, Life Is Elsewhere, is an interesting one. While the band’s debut was pretty straight forward, generally speaking, with some brilliant guitar parts and extremely impressive vocals due to Robert Coles’ impossible vocal range. With the latest album, the Comets have produced material far more complex than before, with unusual, almost mathematical timing in several tracks. This, on the one hand makes it a great listen while by yourself because you get to listen to every fragment of every song and think “how are they doing that?!” but it also means the second album is far less dancy than the first. It depends what you’re into really, but I’ve found the second album has some extraordinary tracks on, such as Bayonne, Worry and an unusual and vulnerable number, Violence Out Tonight.

Finally, although he’s been given enough attention by most of the music world just recently, I have to mention Jake Bugg’s self-title debut. With a retro sound and a simple approach, Bugg at just eighteen years old has done exceptionally well for himself. The album is filled with part Cash, part Dylan-esque tunes, delivered with a kind of teenage aggression, evident in Two Fingers and Lightning Bolt. I don’t really need to say much else on the album because it’s been plastered all over NME for months but Jake Bugg is an album with great integrity, sung by someone far beyond his years, that simply does not get old.

So that’s been my 2012 in music- a year I feel has been one of the most exciting I’ve encountered and one I feel is leading somewhere really special, that I can only hope to follow just as closely. 2013 promises much from bands such as Haim and Swim Deep as well as a supposed comeback from Kings Of Leon. All in all I think this will be a good year.

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Categories: Medway | National Grid

My interview with General Fiasco

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Friday, November 9 2012

I had the privilege of speaking to one of my favourite of all current bands, General Fiasco. After their refreshingly different Pop-Indie debut, General Fiasco are currently on the road with Little Comets. I was able to ask them a few questions from the big issue of the latest release and their future plans, to the simplest of matters such as brotherly bickering.  Here it is:

The latest album ‘Unfaithfully Yours’ seems to lead perfectly on from your debut. Was it an intentional decision not to differ radically from the first album in terms of style? If so, why?

We didn't want to steer too far away from the sound of the first record but it was important that we made a progression. It’s always been about the song for us but we definitely pushed ourselves on this record- some of the drum and guitar parts are the most technical we have done.

Your 2011 single ‘This Is the Age You Start Losing Friends’ was the first single to be released from ‘Unfaithfully Yours’. What is the song about? Was it written from personal experience?

It’s about getting to an age where everyone grows up and moves apart. It’s just about realising that everyone has things that take priority and relationships weaken because of that.

You’re currently touring the UK with Little Comets: how do you feel the tour has gone for you? Do you feel that a tour gets better towards the end as you familiarise yourselves with your set or does exhaustion and homesickness begin to set in towards the end?

It's brilliant, one of my favourite tours we have done, they are a great band and a great bunch of lads, you occasionally burn yourself out but it’s usually from drinking too much, we don't really get homesick.

What musical influences does each of you bring to the band? Do your tastes vary as a group or are they similar?

Yeah they vary, between everyone and also day-to-day, we have bands that we all like but they aren't necessarily influential to our sound.

You’ve toured with the likes of The Enemy, The Wombats, Jet and are currently touring with Little Comets. Who is the most fun band you’ve ever toured with? And could you pinpoint a tour that benefited you the most?

Kids In Glass Houses was a great tour for us. I think musically we connected most with their fans but we have had so many great tours. Little Comets and Fighting With Wire where/are both really great fun.

What is your favourite song to play on stage?

Bad Habits at the minute, it’s really got a good swing to it and we only just learned how to play it so its kinda new to us which also makes it fun.

How did General Fiasco form?

Well really we just all played instruments and had similar tastes and had the same goals- it happened naturally. Stu joined recently, we knew him from playing in other bands and he seemed like a good lad so we got him in.

Question for Enda and Owen: is there any sibling rivalry going on? Do you ever have brotherly fall-outs?

No never.

What is the best and worst part about being in a band?

What is the best is people appreciating what you do, coming to gigs and singing along. The worst is playing to people who don't care about your music, which can happen from time to time, especially if you are playing an odd support slot.

What have you got planned after the tour with Little Comets? Any plans to take the tour elsewhere or is there a well-deserved vacation in store?

Probably tour in the new year- headlining I guess, but other than that I'm not sure what the future holds.

How were General Fiasco ‘discovered’? Did you feel like it was a long time coming or did it come as a surprise when you were signed to Infectious Records?

We worked pretty hard for it! We got noticed by a few people in the music industry and it kind of snow-balled from there. We eventually signed to infectious a year after that and after a few tours.

Do you think there is a difference between Irish and English crowds?

Not really, we don't care where we play as long as people are into it, Scottish and Irish shows are a bit more full on but we have had some crazy gigs in England, its more about the people there.

How do you guys write your songs? Do you write as a group or individually first?

Both: first record was more myself writing songs and bringing them to the band and the second was more collective but it usually comes from someone bringing an idea into the room and everyone thrashing it out.

Do you have any ideas about in which direction to take the third album if and when it comes along?

Psychedelic Space Drum and Bass Funk Fusion. It'll be along soon.

 

Wow. All I can say is bring on album number three!

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Leas Cliff Hall, I hate you.

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Sunday, October 21 2012

So tomorrow is supposed to be the day that myself and a few of my friends go to the Leas Cliff Hall to see an amazing Indie Rock band, The Enemy. The key word there is supposed, as the Leas Cliff Hall pulled the plug without so much as an explanation. In our disappointment and panic after hearing the news, my friend posted on The Enemy's Facebook page to ask what the problem was. The band actually respond to the majority of posts on their Facebook which is a pleasant surprise, but then again The Enemy have always placed massive importance on their fanbase; they said, "there were a few issues we're told, but we don't know the full story. We hope the promoter has emailed you guys, and of course we're dead sorry we can't make it, we know you would have been awesome. Make it up to you! x"

So not even the band were told exactly why they couldn't play?! I have seen The Enemy at Folkestone Leas Cliff before but what I'm super annoyed about is that The Enemy are pretty much one of the only good bands the Leas Cliff ever has in! For a great venue in the heart of Folkestone, which has a massive proportion of students and young people about, the Leas Cliff should really be getting some more current acts in like The Enemy! Don't get me wrong I've seen some great bands there: The Enemy, The Editors, Pete Doherty and The Zutons, but take a look at the upcoming events: 'The Sensational 60s Experience', 'Marty Wilde's Rock 'n' Roll Party', 'The Drifters', 'Boogie Nights' and 'The Solid Silver 60s Show'. I mean, come on would it kill you to get something from the last decade in?! Although I can't really complain, as a little something for the hip young people of Folkestone, they've got Dappy and Peter Andre lined up for us... 

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Categories: music

Olly Murs covers The Clash, The Jam and Supergrass: Did it work?

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Saturday, September 22 2012

As part of Olly Murs' set for his latest tour, the X-factor runner up (although I think he's done enough to lose that title) has chosen to add three interesting covers to the mix: 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' by The Clash, ' A Town Called Malice' by The Jam and 'Alright' by Supergrass.

So even as someone who watches The X Factor purely to point out all of the things I hate about the show, I still own both of Olly Murs' albums; if I was feminine enough I might even be inclined to have a little giggle to myself  and call it my "guilty pleasure" (along with blueberry WKD, spending too much on handbags and Galaxy Cookie bars- I'm so naughty!) but before I let my feminine side get the better of me I should write about these songs.

I heard about Murs' decision to cover these three fantastic songs whilst reading an interview with Tom Clarke from indie rock band The Enemy, who claimed Olly Murs was one of the many "No-name trendy weirdos" in the charts nowadays. When I listened to the medley of the three songs on Youtube, I really wasn't offended by Murs' renditions at all. I am in no means biased towards Olly here, as The Clash are my favourite band in the whole entire universe and beyond... Anyway, I have always thought 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go', with its simple punchy lyrics and relationship-centered subject matter, has fundamentally been a pop song anyway, so I don't think Murs did the song any harm whatsoever. The backing band were obviously capable enough to play the music, and Olly Murs was obviously a gifted enough singer to hit all the notes of the song, what's not to like? Of course it was nowhere near as good as the original but that's okay!

As for 'A Town Called Malice', again, The Jam are my heroes, but I don't believe Murs did a bad job at all, he sings the melody well, shows his enthusiasm and hasn't changed the song enough to even come close to ruining it, not that you can 'ruin' a song, no matter how bad you are. My views are precisely the same for 'Alright' by Supergrass: it was a perfectly decent rendition that gave variety to his set and excited the audience, how can that be a bad thing?

Maybe I'm just a 'crazy hippy' who simply feels too much peace and love for the world to be capable of disliking a song, because trust me that's not true- you wanna hear a bad cover? Listen to Jedward's Ice Ice Baby cover- as if the original wasn't bad enough... But the way I see it, Olly Murs was showing his appreciation for three of his heroes, and showing thousands of people his musical influences- to me that's what music is about! In my view, doing a cover of a song is just a great way of paying homage to someone you like, and hey, if you're big enough to be able to showcase this to thousands upon thousands of people, then all the better! I think the 'Youtube commenting culture' seems to bring about a certain breed of music snobbery, all of whom believe good songs must be left alone at all costs and those who tamper with these sacred songs must be trialed for treason immediately. To this I would just encourage them to feel the love, as I do. Peace out dudes.

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Categories: music

Uni? Do I HAVE to?

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Thursday, September 13 2012

I am seventeen years old. I've just begun the second and final year of my A levels, and all I hear day in day out, are the words, "personal statement", "degree" and most irratating of all "UCAS". At this point in time, if I could just find the individual responsible for the word "UCAS" I would most definitely fight them. Fisticuffs. 

The way I see it, I have just endured 14 years of education- beginning with finger paintings and egg and spoon races, with a slow progression to where I am now-  corsework, essays and ultimately two hour exams (of course via the albhabet, sex education and algebra). To get this far, the idea of another possible four years or more of attending lectures and meeting essay deadlines, kills me. This isn't even touching on the inevitability of walking away with £50,000 of debt. 

However, even as a 'nay-sayer' of University, I am still told by my teachers and peers, "Oh, you've still got to at least apply, otherwise if you change your mind you'll have nowhere to go!" at which point a small part of me dies inside. This is because despite my sheer dislike and contempt for the idea of University, I still have to spend hours of my time attending open days- none of which I believe will interest me considering the whole concept they are offering seems utterly depressing, despite the courses themselves- I must also write a personal statement: a document expressing my passion and desire for a place at said Uni, and through means of flattery, bragging and a bit of grovelling, I must then plead my case for how much I would LOVE to go to University. This process by the way, takes many months and usually several drafts are needed before the final product; I can't wait to get cracking on that bad boy...

Throughout my GCSEs and my A levels, myself and my peers have been drip fed ideas of Universities and degrees directly into our absorbant young brains, and I must admit, after that, it did take me a while to even imagine a post-school future for myself where a Uni wasn't present. However, even though I am heavily leaning towards not going to Uni, around 80% of my peers are all planning to head off to University next year. If this is roughly the case for all schools, and the majority of these students come out with a degree, just how credible is a degree going to be anyway? I mean, in the dark, dingy abyss that the economical future of my generation seems to be, there will of course be 'less jobs', 'less money' and 'more unemployment', so if EVERYBODY has a degree, what good will it do anyway? I'd much rather get out there (give or take) four years early with my youth on my side- lower sallery, easy to for the boss to manipulate, full of child-like enthusiasm- and get a head start on all these other competitors trying to take my job with a piece of paper and a silly hat with a square on the top. Another reason not to graduate: the hats look ridiculous.

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Categories: Education | School | Schools | Work

SMUGGLERS FESTIVAL 2012

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Wednesday, September 5 2012
I was lucky enough to attend and steward at this year’s Smugglers Festival. The first thing to strike you is the intimacy of the festival: the campsite itself is small enough to see from one side to the other at all times. The main area consisted of two main stages, where the music alternated from stage to stage, meaning that there was constant music playing, and no worry of two bands clashing, which can be truly devastating for some. Outside the main area, in the woods, was the Little Rig stage, a beautifully decorated caravan with a small stage attached. The festival featured fantastic performances by Zoo For You, Cocos Lovers, The Boot Lagoon among many others. The standard of music, albeit nothing like what you’ll find in the charts, was fantastic, unique and refreshing to listen to instead of all the “wub wubs” we seem to hear on the radio and in clubs. Smugglers, though it is a small festival is not short on things to do during the weekend; it has a children’s area, artwork hidden in the woods, campfires dotted around the woods, a disco, an absinthe bar and so much more! The atmosphere at Smugglers festival was absolutely brilliant- everyone was so nice! It’s the kind of festival where you needn’t be worried about rowdy youths around each corner, and where you can easily converse with a complete stranger, it’s a lovely thing! For anyone debating whether to come next year as a family, I would highly recommend it. Smugglers Festival offers a brilliant family atmosphere. There is plenty of great activities for children in the kids’ area, as well as a cinema to engage the family, and what’s more, the family camping is absolutely silent at night time so you won’t be disturbed by the usual festival riff raff! And for any ‘usual festival riff raff’ who are just out to have a cheap weekend of music and fun, I can’t recommend Smugglers any more. I thoroughly enjoyed it- by far my favourite festival, and in relation to the bigger festivals, it is right on my doorstep!

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Categories: music

SPECTOR- Enjoy It While It Lasts: album review

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Friday, August 17 2012

I was lucky enough to see Spector live at Canterbury's Lounge On The Farm festival in 2011, (in my view, the best year yet) before I had even heard of such a band. From another stage I could hear the pacey introduction to what I now know was Chevy Thunder, and had to go and see who was making such a sound. I arrived with friends to see Frederick Macpherson leaping about the stage like a child on a bouncy castle. I was charmed by Frederick Macpherson's wit, informing the crowd, "I'm not spitting as a rock 'n' roll statement, I just get a build up of phlegm when I sing". Long after my friends left out of boredom to hear some "filthy bass" in the dance tent (the fools!), I made my way to the front and remained there, transfixed on the catchiness and general brilliance of the music I was hearing, and left the stage with the chorus of 'Never Fade Away' stuck in my head for the remainder of the festival.

As soon as I returned home, I listened to the only Spector song I could get my hands on, 'Never Fade Away', over and over, introducing it to my parents and friends. I followed Spector for an extremely long year, diving on each single on the day of its release, desperately waiting for an announcement for the album to finally arrive. I managed, by luck, to catch wind of Spector's Farmhouse gig in Canterbury, and instantly bought tickets, thus turning my girlfriend into a Spector convert. I was amazed by the performance, but also saddened by the notion that, realistically, this would be the last time I would be able to see Spector in such a small intimate venue. Lucky I managed to get them to sign my photo of them- score.

August 13th, finally, 'Enjoy It While It Lasts' is released! I felt a wave of fear pass over me as I inserted the disc into my stereo- would it live up to the hype I'd placed on its shoulders? 

Opening track 'True Love (For Now)' begins with a both bouncy and mildly meloncholic melody, before the drums kick in and give it a more upbeat sound. The track gives a somewhat skeptical view of the idea of love, and has some truly brilliant lyrics, such as "Your dreams are not mine, My future's not yours, But if this isn't love, tell me what is". If you have ever watched an interview with Macpherson, skepticism is something comes naturally to him. The album includes all the preceeding singles, 'Chevy Thunder', 'What You Wanted', 'Grey Shirt And Tie' and 'Never Fade Away' all of which have an uncanny knack of staying in one's mind. The aggressive and energetic nature of 'Chevy Thunder' and 'What You Wanted' were what was to be expected from the remainder of the tracks on the album, and this is certainly present in songs such as 'Friday Night, Don't Ever Let It End', 'Upset Boulevard' and 'Twenty Nothing', all of which are exceptionally brilliant songs, with charisma, energy and witty lyrics, ticking all the right boxes for a great Indie Pop tune. 

However, 'Enjoy It While It Lasts' isn't just full of dancy, brash songs- Spector have a sensitive side too. 'Lay Low' has got to be my personal favourite song on the album, the track starts gently, and gradually becomes more intense. The chorus is melodic, catchy, and sung with great conviction. By the final chorus, you can really feel Macpherson's emotion, which is complimented by heavy, dominant bass from Tom Shickle. A more somber song, Grim Reefer serves as a surprise when juxtaposed with Celestene, but is ultimately an extremely impressive song. The simplistic repition and use of the imperitive in the lyrics, "Need me. Can't you need me, As much as I need you?" makes the song really quite tragic, and is genuinely moving to listen to. An interesting track, for me, is 'No Adventure', with a mildly unsettling verse, not as melodic as we're used to from a Spector song. However, this shows the depth that Spector have, they don't just write songs for us to jump around and be merry to, they function on several other levels. The chorus, is another of an anthemic, heartfelt vibe, with female backing vocals displaying the thought put into the development of the song.

So the answer to my initial worries? YES. Spector have lived up to the almost impossible hype I previously imposed upon them in my year of anticipation. If anybody is considering whether or not to invest in the band's debut, my advice- do it. 'Enjoy It While It Lasts' will be the best £8 you will ever spend.

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Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins

My name is Nick Tompkins, a 17-year-old aspiring music journalist.

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