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.
Michael Kiwanuka supporting Carole King on the third day of British Summer Time Hyde Park - London, United Kingdom - Sunday 3rd July 2016
As the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize 2012 draws near, we have a look at the shortlist and the likelihood of each act actually walking away with the prize. There’s no such thing as a done deal when it comes to the Mercury Music Prize; the ones that you think are the favourites never seem to walk away the title, the judging panel is very hard to second guess. But hey, that’s not going to stop us giving it a try!
Alt-J: An Awesome Wave
These quirky popsters have crept up on the public throughout 2012, and with their debut album garnering critical acclaim in all corners of the press, they’ve been pegged by many as the favourites to win. A recent survey conducted by Spotify showed that Alt-J’s tracks had been streamed more times that any other nominated artist. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to walk home with the prize though.
Continue reading: Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize 2012: Our Predictions
The Mercury Prize is set to be awarded tomorrow (1st Nov. 2012), and true to form and tradition, many of the artists in the nomination lists are ones that you may never have heard, or even heard of. As such, we thought it'd be useful to give you a brief breakdown of three acts topping the list of favourites, Alt-J, Richard Hawley and Jessie Ware.
Jessie Ware's album 'Devotion' is nominated and 3rd in the favourites. Ware used to be a vocalist with drum and base act SBTRKT. Some of that synthy influence can be heard in this album, but the vocals hark back to the '80s and early '90s, though with her own twee stamp.
Richard Hawley comes in second. He was originally in the Britpop band Longpigs and also played with Pulp for a few years before launching his solo career. He's nominated for his whimsically titled album 'Standing at the Sky's Edge'. Despite that whimsy, he has described this album as 'angry', to the Guardian. The guitars and vocals are verging on gritty, but angry? Not quite.
Continue reading: A Brief Run Down Of The Mercury Prize Favourites
This Thursday (November 1, 2012), the winner of the Mercury Music will be announced. As a precursor to the official event, Spotify have taken a look at the streaming figures for all of the nominees, on their online streaming service and Alt-J have attracted more listeners than any of the other Mercury Music Prize nominees.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Mercury judging panel will have the same taste as Spotify’s listeners and Alt-J face fierce competition, even if they have pretty much been tipped as likely winners since the list was announced. Jessie Ware’s another newcomer with a strong chance, as is Lianne La Havas. Plan B and Richard Hawley are among the more experienced artists in there that also stand a strong chance. You should never count on the obvious choice when it comes to the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize, after all. Remember the year that Dizzee Rascal won? How many of you saw that one coming?
Even Alt-J aren’t counting their chickens just yet. The band’s drummer Thom Green placed his expectations of the band winning the prize at a lowly 8.3% and admitted “We’d been tipped to win before we’d even been nominated, so the pressure was on.” A spokesperson for Spotify, Will Hope, said “We can't predict who the judges will pick to win this Thursday's Mercury Prize, but if it were up to music fans on Spotify, Alt-J would be the band picking up the award. Ben Howard is a close second based on recent streaming habits we've seen. We wish all nominees the best of luck!”
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