In an industry where the allure of fast-click fame and fast bucks can make artists crave cheap retweets or knock out undernourished releases, Michael Kiwanuka does not strike as a man in a hurry. Critical acclaim surrounded the quiet magnitude of 2012's "Home Again"; 2016's moody, clamorous psych-soul follow-up, "Love and Hate" emulated the success of its more introspective older sibling. At this rate, his next release is due out in 2020. At Bristol's Colston Hall, in the midst of his 2017 spring tour, Kiwanuka gave a no-nonsense performance, as if anything remotely throwaway had already been jettisoned, leaving it all about the music, showcasing his soulful voice and his soul-searching songwriting, underpinned by his exemplary, eight-strong backing band.
Kiwanuka's demeanour on stage is modest, earnest and grateful. He doesn't do matey banter; what he has to say comes from the songs. His actions speak loudest; he'd already conveyed his strongest message before the show began. Ticket prices were set at an affordable rate, with no hidden fees. To prevent insidious resale, purchases were restricted to four per booking and the lead booker had to be present, with photo ID, to gain entry - just further proof that Mr Kiwanuka has soul. A little more of this judicious approach from big acts could turn the vultures of the secondary ticketing world into the carrion, eviscerating a market that is already ethically empty.
On his more intimate songs, you'd want him jamming in your living room, over a cuppa and a chinwag. Opener, "Cold Little Heart", with its plaintive, repetitive 'I'm bleeding' bore an impassioned intensity. The middle of the set had the quiet, contemplative pairing of "I'm Getting Ready" and "Rest", a beautifully sparse sanctuary of calm before the last three songs of the pre-encore set took us to church, to Woodstock and to the dark side of the moon in equal measures.
Continue reading: Michael Kiwanuka - Colston Hall, Bristol 03.05.17 Live Review
As we come to it's climax, what sort of year was 2016 like? (For music we mean - everything else was pretty much hide-behind-the-sofa stuff).
2016 certainly wasn't a renaissance one for British guitar songs, as another 12 months slipped by without the much longed for Oasis reunion, but whilst the brothers feuded theatrically solo artists of one persuasion or another vied for most of our attention.
Band-wise, there are some notable omissions from this list - Radiohead and Metallica in particular flew the flag for maudlin and angry blokes respectively - whilst Frank Ocean and Beyonce still managed to cut a respectable amount of edge despite their god-like statuses. The most interesting moments however remained off the beaten track as these ten contenders show: from sparkling, assured pop, arty soundscapes to the reinvention of seemingly exhausted genres, great things and little respites were hidden in nooks and crannies well worth becoming lost in. 2017 will be better.
Continue reading: Andy Peterson's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
2016 looks doomed to be the year that a millionaire, pig's-head-porking Prime Minister decided to 'let the people speak', blithely assuming to the bitter end that the good people of Sunderland must speak like he does.
Those from across the pond, will probably write it off as the year they ended up hiring a billionaire, tiny-handed, Shredded-Wheat-haired fanny-grabber as Commander-in-Chief. Oh, brave new world, that has such people in it...
Praise be, then, for the gift of music, and all of its artistry, its erudition and its social commentary. What more welcoming and uplifting distraction could we have had than the musical creativity that graced us in the last twelve months? Here are ten antidotes to the malaise that was 2016.
Continue reading: Jon Kean's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
Bowie's final album 'Blackstar', along with 11 other British albums released in the last year, made the shortlist announced on Thursday.
Radiohead, Skepta, The 1975 and the late David Bowie are the big names to have been shortlisted for the 2016 Hyundai Mercury Music Prize, with Adele and previous winner James Blake the notable absences.
The 12-strong shortlist, picked by a panel of music critics, industry figures and artists, was announced on Thursday morning (August 4th) on BBC Radio 6 Music. David Bowie’s 25th and final album Blackstar, released just two days before his death in January this year, is already being touted as one of the favourites to win the overall prize when the winner is announced on September 15th.
Radiohead’s recent album A Moon Shaped Pool makes the Oxford five-piece the most nominated act in Mercury Prize history. Their albums OK Computer, Amnesiac, Hail To the Thief and In Rainbows all made shortlists in previous years, and this doesn’t even count lead singer Thom Yorke’s nomination for his 2006 solo album The Eraser. However, they have not yet won the award.
The broad church that supports the collective assembly of Communion Records was only formed 6 years ago through the vision of Ben 'Mumford' Lovett, bassist Kevin Jones and producer Ian Grimble. From its early roots as a club night, it has now flourished into an umbrella that nurtures, produces and records some of the most interesting and individual emerging talents around. Communion Records has already had a helping hand in the development of Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Matthew And The Atlas, Alessi's Ark, Pete Roe and Lissie to name but a few. 'Communion: New Faces' represents the label's third full-length compilation and contains no less than 20 tracks from a diverse string of like-minded artists.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Communion: New Faces Album Review