All posts by Chloe Ross

Live Review: Interrobang, Voodoo Vali & Jamie Ferguson @ Jimmy’s, Manchester

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A rainy Monday night in Manchester brings a mixture of new talent and heritage to Jimmy’s. First up was solo guitarist Jamie Ferguson, bringing beautiful percussive acoustic guitar melodies. His set is thoroughly enjoyable; the balance between chat and track is just right, and the mix of humour and serious talking points adds to the ambient atmosphere. He announced mid-set that he has a headline show coming up at this very venue on the 2nd May, which is thoroughly impressive considering he’s the first on stage tonight.

Next up were local lads Voodoo Vali. Their dirty, funk/punk sound is a stark contrast to the soothing acoustic jams of Ferguson, but this simply showcases the eclectic offerings of Manchester Mid-Week Music Club, who hosted the gig. Their set was slightly plagued by a few technical issues (namely frontman Nathan Wilson breaking TWO strings, leading Interrobang’s Stephen Griffin to step in as the saviour and bestow a replacement). This didn’t, however, take away from the sheer energy and fantastic playing showcased by the trio.

Headliners Interrobang‽ were an absolute sight to behold. Their set began with lead singer Dunstan Bruce enters from the top of a staircase leading into the venue, speaking through a megaphone on his descent to the stage. Highlights of the performance included in Mad as Hell, in which Bruce left the stage once again and wandered around the crowd, shouting ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna’ take this, anymore,’ *cue massively bewildered looks from the crowd*.

Photo credit: Ruby Price

Similarly, in Breathe, where he held aloft a placard reading the lyrics ‘Unrest is progress, contentment, death,’ words which pretty much sum up the group and their ethos. The set is littered with euphonically pleasing sound loops, adding something unique and original to their already fascinating show.

Interrobang‽ are bring something incredibly refreshing to a music scene arguably oversaturated with people with nothing much to say; discussing topics of ageing and everything that comes with it, keeping relevant and simply wanting to make a difference, which as well as the music is more than enough to earn my respect.

Album Review: Interrobang (Self Titled)

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Hailing from a combination of both Brighton and Leeds, Interrobang consist of former Chumbawamba (of Tubthumbing fame) members, frontman Dunstan Bruce and drummer Harry Hamer. Joining forces to make a formidable trio with Stephen Griffin (ex-Regular Fries guitarist). Formed in 2012, the band have nurtured their current catalogue of music through a string of live performances. But now, they are set  to finally release their long-awaited 14-song-strong debut album. With lyrics littered with comic pop-culture references, heartfelt personal accounts and political commentary, it’s hard not to get invested in these short-lived masterpieces.

The album’s opener basically states the feelings of Bruce as plain as day; the spoken words resonate deeply with the listener, especially when he passionately states, “I’ve still got something to say, I don’t want to fade away.” Asking for A Friend is a kind of self-deprecating lament on feelings of turning 50, but rather than a mournful ballad, its humorous tone keeps the listener invested, as well as the storytelling skills which Bruce has mastered so eloquently on this record, which continue into protest anthems Are You Ready, People? and Mad as Hell.

As well as humour, tender moments are still predominantly featured, especially in Do You Remember, a sad tale focused on the loss of Bruce’s father, and him still trying to dissect their relationship. In addition, Based on A True Story finds the frontman considering his own mortality, stating that he’s “not scared to admit that he thinks of his own obituary.”

Hamer’s simple, punchy drum tracks keep the songs moving at a quick pace through the entirety of the album, and Griffin’s perfect, jangling Who-esque guitar tone strums the exact chords your ear wants to hear.

The offering ends with the wonderful, catchy Am I Invisible Yet? With a cheeky nod to The Who with the lyric, “more and more I’m talking about my generation.” A perfect conclusion to this rollercoaster ride of emotion.

Interrobang are offering themselves up as the voice of the lost era of punk, still ever-present in this fantastic 14-track smash, hopefully appealing to a new generation of kids who just want to say something, and ultimately make a difference in the world. 8/10

 

Catch interrobang?! on tour.

Check out their Facebook.

Visit their website.

Pre-order the album at: www.allthemadmen.co.uk

Album Review: Erasure – World Beyond

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Erasure are probably best known for their 80s heyday of flamboyant dance numbers, most notably their super-smash hit ‘A Little Respect’. But now, the synth pop duo, comprising of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have taken their most recent album, 2017’s World Be Gone, and completely turned it on its head to release something completely experimental and different.

World Beyond sees the pair team up with Belgian post-classical musicians Echo Collective to give their usual 80s dance bops a new, eclectic edge which sounds eons apart from the original recordings of these tracks.

Harmonic strings and heartfelt delivery replaces their usual bravado-littered electro-pop sound. Nevertheless, Bell’s unmistakable vocals drag you back to the realisation that these are still Erasure’s original compositions.

The album’s lead single Still, It’s Not Over is a beautiful standout track on this offering; it could easily be the emotional crescendo of a west end musical and wouldn’t massively stand out from the rest of the soundtrack.

However, this unfortunately is also this album’s slight downfall – at times, it’s all a bit TOO dramatic. For those not particularly into the slow, ballad-esque lamenting style of music that comes across here, this will not be a pleasant listen. But, for those who can appreciate a classical reworking of an originally synth record, it will be a dream to the ears.

Some of the reworked tracks work better than others. The contributions of Echo Collective bring a new sparkle to before unnoticed gems. Songs like Be Careful What You Wish for and Love You to The Sky definitely benefit from the new emotive piano and strings melodies. Whereas A Bitter Parting becomes a little too akin to a jolly jamboree that could be sung on a trip out to sea.

Overall, in parts, World Beyond hits just the right sweet spot, and Erasure should be very proud that their decade spanning career still delivers, with new creativity for fans to enjoy. It’s clear that they’re still a hit, with their current tour sold out across every single date. Bell and Clarke should be so impressed with this most recent release. 6/10

 

Live Review: Bang Bang Romeo & The Wholls @ The Harley, Sheffield

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A packed-out Harley plays host to some of the hottest up and coming UK bands currently on the music scene on this icy Friday night, though the weather certainly doesn’t chill the atmosphere inside.

First up are Sheffield locals Idle Ross, their frontman looking slightly like an off-kilter Liam Gallagher tribute. Besides that, the group stress how honoured they are to be playing with the other bands on the line-up, which is very endearing, and warms the crowd to them almost immediately. Their sound is simplistic, but nevertheless enjoyable (think if Oasis and Arctic Monkeys made some kind of weird supergroup), and they get the crowd suitably warmed up.

Next on the stage are The Wholls. Frontman Tordy Cocchiarella is a breath of fresh air, dressed sharply in a suit jacket; his charming Bedford accent shining through every note he sings. It’s clear to see why The Wholls have received rave review after rave review – their live show is electric. Passion oozes from the stage; an absolute delight to witness.

The crowd gets particularly excitable during hits X21 and Roll Out, but it’s their cover of Gossip’s Standing in the Way of Control which generates the most energy in the set. Guitarist Santina Cocchiarella’s screaming guitar licks are perfectly suited to bassist Joe Stevenson and drummer Daniel De Feo’s airtight rhythm section; these guys are on a higher level than many of their alt-rock contemporaries, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on many festival line-ups this Summer.

Bang Bang Romeo are hard to sum up in a review, purely because they are nothing short of incredible. Lead singer Anastasia Walker is one of the best female rock vocalists of this new-age generation. As soon as she storms onto the stage in a blue fluffy jacket with accompanying stripes (which wouldn’t look out of place on a children’s TV show – in the best way possible), it’s clear that she and bandmates, Ross Cameron (guitar) and Richard Gartland (drums), mean business.

Much like The Wholls, the cover they chose to attempt was definitely the highlight of the night. Their slightly heavier version of Radiohead’s Creep is nothing short of awe-inspiring, with Anastasia’s vocal performance again capturing the attention of everyone in their room – hers is a voice that demands to be heard, and there’s no complaints to be heard from the bustling hordes in front of her.

As the night draws to a close, Bang Bang Romeo bring the slightly inebriated crowd practically to their knees, begging for an encore. They happily oblige with slow jam Johannesburg, which simply displays the pure variety they’re capable of with their genre-spanning repertoire.

This entire night showcases the sheer drive and determination of smaller bands having the ability to engage the attention of the masses. With Bang Bang Romeo heading to the states in the near future to record their debut album, and The Wholls embarking on a huge UK-wide tour in March, it just shows how hard work and having something unique and different can really make a difference.

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