Weather The Storm by Skylark and the Scorpion is both a record of majestic folk beauty and a breathtaking cinematic experience from Skylark aka Petra Jean Phillipson (David Holmes/Martina Topley Bird/Marianne Faithful) andthe Scorpion aka Nick J Webb (The Lea Shores/Nadine Shah).
The ambitious musical odyssey tells the tale of two haunted souls on their search for re-connection. It’s a conceptual project formed around the pairing of creator, producer, songwriter Nick and vocalist Petra. The album finds the duo assume the roles of two ill-fated lovers as they traverse through a turbulent story arc told through the album’s captivating song cycle. A real labour of love, the record arrives at the end of a journey almost as epic in reality as it is in its fiction.
To mark the album’s announcement, Skylark and the Scorpion are revealing the first two chapters of a 40-minute short film that accompanies the entire record. The film follows the emotional journey of the two lovers. Viewers will be able to tune into a progressive narrative that will gradually unfurl their destiny with a string of videos, each soundtracked by a song featured on the album with a new instalment set to be unveiled every week leading up to the full release in autumn.
You can watch the videos for ‘Hey Lover‘ – the first track for radio – and the film trailer for ‘Weather The Storm’ below.
Guided by Petra’s inimitable siren song, the lead single (and fittingly the first song Petra and Nick ever recorded together), ’Hey Lover’ flows through layers of languid orchestrations and rippling acoustic arpeggios, with a glorious opening salvo.
Nick and Petra were joined by a talented array of hand-picked musicians and friends. Contributions from ambient music composer Roger Eno (brother of Brian Eno, who added piano and accordion to the mix) and orchestral arranger Nell Catchpole (on violin/viola), with additional contributions from Tim Harries (double bass), Jamie Spencer Smith (guitars), Fontane Liang (harp) and Nick Foot (percussion). Webb, who also plays the cornet, then completed the album by adding brass arrangements, before sending the results to celebrated producer Ben Hillierfor mixing the elegant finished article we hear today.
‘Little Green Light’ by James Holt is the followup to ‘Come Out to Play’ and continues in a similar vein while exploring new sounds and drawing from different influences.
“It’s probably the most upbeat track I’ve released so far,” says singer/songwriter. “It’s a hybrid of sorts, fusing elements of disco, Latin American rhythms, and Johnny Marr jangly guitar lines, all with hints of The Beatles throughout.“
James provides lead vocals, backing vocals and plays all instruments apart from drums and saxophone on ‘Little Green Light’ and has continued to use the production skills of Jim Spencer (Johnny Marr, The Charlatans) that has proved successful on his previous single releases.
Describing the lyrical themes James said, “Lyrically, it explores the fading glow of the American Dream from an outsider perspective, a central theme in The Great Gatsby (symbolised by a green light at the end of a dock). It traces the early-American ideals of freedom of opportunity, which encouraged many to emigrate there in the early 20th century, to the fulfilled dream of the moon landing (the event celebrates its 50th anniversary this year).”
James plays headline shows at the Deaf Institute, Manchester on Friday 4October and Hope & Anchor, London (Islington) on Thursday 17 October.
“Powerful” – EMINA LUKARCANIN, BILLBOARD.COM “Her most empowering anthem yet” – TRIPLE J RADIO
Already a star in her native Australia, Meg Mac has set her sights on the UK with her new album, Hope. The first track is the synth-infused ‘Give Me My Name Back’, a song about reclaiming dignity and self-worth in the face of emotional and physical abuse and upon its worldwide release, Meg received hundreds of private messages of thanks through social media.
“There were lots of messages from people who had come out to their friends or their family. People feeling like, that was their way of gaining their identity and their name back,” she says. “There were also a lot of [stories about] abuse and victims who had come through sexual assault; I would be crying reading some of them.”
Directed by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, the video serves as a rallying cry about reclaiming identity, dignity and self-worth in a post-#MeToo era.
“This is a song for everyone who has lost an important part of themselves, which they need to reclaim in order to move forward with their life,” says Meg of the track. “It’s for the women who are standing up and speaking out, those discriminated against in the LGBTQI community, the indigenous people of Australia and the children abused by the church”
Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, James Holt releases the powerful, lyric-driven anthem in ‘Alone Again’.
The 24-year-old Boltonian provides lead vocals, backing vocals and plays all instruments (excluding drums) on ‘Alone Again’. James has once again, brought in the production wizardry of Jim Spencer (Johnny Marr, The Charlatans) to create layers of reverb and different filters, allowing each part in the song to have a stark contrast to each section as James explains:
“I really enjoy subverting people’s expectations in songs through sudden tempo changes, similar to Brian Wilson’s production method of splicing together of different sections, which gives ‘Alone Again’ an angular quality. I’ve always loved the classic songs of the 60/70s and – drawing inspiration from The Beatles (the Rubber Soul / Revolver years) and the dramatic variety of early Scott Walker – I aimed to write a song that pays homage to that golden era of songwriting.
“There are three separate narratives in ‘Alone Again’ with the underlying theme of loneliness and regret. In the first verse, the character loses his love in death (‘never-ending dream’). In the second he never told his love of his feelings (‘I should have screamed when I was whispering’) and in the final verse he blames himself for suffocating their passions (‘like fire clings to a burning man I have smothered you’).”
Quotes “Feels fresh and exciting to listen to.” – Brian Eno
“Love James’ voice on that new single. Sounding great”. John Kennedy Radio X
BBC Introducing Manchester have been huge supporters of James. Co-presenter/producer, and Michelle Hussey commented, “It’s beautiful with definite echoes of Cherry Ghost.“
“It sounds very Beatles-esque and – here’s a massive compliment – vocally it sounds very John Lennon.” Jim Salveson from XS Manchester
“Very talented, very wonderful – absolutely love his voice.” NatalieBBC Introducing Manchester.
“With an arresting voice that is reminiscent of John Lennon or early Bob Dylan, wily lyrics and an upbeat weave of rock, prog and blues, it’s obvious to see why his remarkable music is turning heads.” Louise Dodgson, The Unsigned Guide.
“It is the very spirit of Manchester in music.” (Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester).
Prose and Manchester Survivors Choir have teamed up to raise money for the those affected by the Manchester Arena bomb. They have released a responsive piece of music entitled, A City United to mark one year since the terror attack.
A City United was recorded by Mike Murray and Lee Royle from Prose at their studio the day after the bomb. Elbow‘s Craig Potter has mixed it, it was mastered by Peter Hewitt Dutton at Metropolis, and the video was filmed by James Killeen – all in a matter of days! Mike explains how it all came about:
“Like everyone, we felt devastated after the Manchester bomb attack. The following day we were in our studio and there were still a lot of people searching for missing family members and we were talking about how awful it must be for the families of the victims. The whole city was in complete shock that something like this had happened here and at a music concert with so many innocent people just trying to have a good time. We both felt very emotional and just started expressing how we felt. Lee started playing the piano, I started singing and without realising it we had the basis of a song, but we didn’t know what to do with it!”
Prose played the tune to friends and family, who all loved it, so they decided to make a live video just for their fans on their Facebook page.
Months later Prose were playing at a homeless benefit event in Manchester city centre for the Skullfades Foundation. Mike had himself been homeless in the past, so it’s something he feels strongly about. It was at this event where the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham heard the song, as he recounts:
“I first heard Prose perform this song in Piccadilly Gardens last year. It cut straight through the noise of the city and stopped me in my tracks. It captures exactly how we all felt last year when we heard the terrible news, but also how the character of this place pulled us through. It is the very spirit of Manchester in music.”
Andy approached Prose to see if they would be up for releasing A City United with the proceeds going to Manchester Emergency Fund and Peace Foundation. Lee and Mike said they’d be honoured, but only if they could ensure that the families and people involved were happy with them doing this. In fact, all the families are behind the project and have endorsed it completely. Saffie Rousso was the youngest victim out of the 22 people killed that day. Her father, Andrew posted this message on Prose’s Facebook page: “Heartfelt song from a great city.”
After it was approved, Andy Burnham got the ball rolling and tweeted a link to Prose’s Facebook video and announced the plan to release it and they were inundated with support and positive messages. Then Prose received a tweet from Manchester Survivors Choir who asked if they’d be up for having some choral vocals on the song. Cath Hill from the choir explains:
“When we saw Andy Burnham’s tweet about the single, we knew we had to get in touch with Prose. We loved the song, the lyrics and everything it stood for and really hoped we could be part of it. They were singing about us, so it just felt right.
“It has been an amazing experience for the choir to collaborate with the lads from Prose. The young people in the choir were so excited to get the opportunity to go to a professional recording studio. It was wonderful to see them all smiling, laughing and having the confidence to sing and be recorded. It is a tough song for us to sing, the lyrics are so moving and take us back to that night. However, we are determined to show the world that with a bit of northern spirit and resilience we can create something that people can enjoy listening to and hopefully raise some money for the charities who helped us and others affected. It is a positive end to a very difficult year.”
Andy Burnham sums things up:
“I am so proud of the band and the respectful way they have dealt with everything and also their generous commitment to use the proceeds to support those most affected and I hope people will get behind this song.”
“Brisk, funny, exciting… this track feels fresh and exciting to listen to.” – Brian Eno
Manchester-born singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, James Holt has just released the impressive video for his new single ‘Whatever Happened to John?’
The 24-year-old – who was diagnosed with a bilateral hearing loss at the age of four – has overcome his disability to release a pulsating and raucous rock’n’roll track. Speaking candidly about the record’s inception, James explained:
“The inspiration came from a Sky Arts TV programme set in an alternate reality in which John Lennon walked out of the Beatles before their fame in the mid-60s. It’s a fusion of thoughts and ideas and also bears references to George Orwell‘s 1984. Some people say that it sounds very Dylan-esque in the verses (especially with the harmonica), but I think the Indian-fused Beatles’ Revolver creeps in the bridge.”
Music legend, Brian Eno – who has long championed James – invited the young luminary to meet him at his John Peel Lecture for BBC Radio 6 Music. The former Roxy Music keyboard player, record producer and revered ambient pioneer also chose James’s song to use as part of an arts festival last year.
James – who graduated with a BA Music 1st class honours and MA in Music Composition (distinction) provides lead vocals, backing vocals and plays all instruments on the track, highlighting his immense talent as a musician and his resilience in the face of adversity.
‘Whatever Happened to John?’ follows several well-received releases from James, including his critically acclaimed second EP ‘Sanguine On the Rocks’, and ‘Butterfly’- a charity single for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity, which has raised over £1100. James performed the single at the Royal Albert Hall for the Music for Youth Proms.
James continues to gain exposure, with a number of industry insiders tipping the young troubadour for great things. Watch this space.
Premiere on Louder Than War: http://louderthanwar.com/james-holt-whatever-happened-to-john-single-review-video-premiere/
“Very talented, very wonderful – absolutely love his voice.” – BBC Introducing Manchester
“Sounds so great on the radio.” – Chris Douridas KCRW
“With an arresting voice that is reminiscent of John Lennon or early Bob Dylan, wily lyrics and an upbeat weave of rock, prog and blues, it’s obvious to see why his remarkable music is turning heads.” – Manchester Evening News
Straw Bear: (L to R) Ian Ray (Vocals/Guitar), Catie Wicks (Bass), Tom Shipp (Guitar), Chris Gray (Guitar /Keys), Pas Stratos (Drums).
SINGLE – All You Need is an Electric Guitar
IMPACT DATE – 8 JANUARY 2016 (ISRC GB8S51500001)
Everyone has a record that’s rescued them: a song that’s swept you away and set you back down in a slightly better place.
BBC favourites Straw Bear are back with “All You Need Is An Electric Guitar” – a record that celebrates the irresistible power of a pop song to sink its hooks in and not let go.
They’ve cut their own slice of infectious psychedelic power-pop in the process too:
The London-based five piece’s 2013 album ‘Black Bank’ won gushing praise and regular national airplay from legendary DJ Bob Harris – as well as spins from Dermot O’Leary, Huw Stephens, Cerys Matthews and Tom Robinson, for whom they played a Radio 6 Music session. In 2013, BBC Introducing picked them from thousands of bands to be showcased at The Great Escape Europe’s leading emerging music festival, and highlights from their set were broadcast on Radio 1.
Praise for the band has always centred around their knack for writing pristine pop songs, and “All You Need Is An Electric Guitar” sounds as chiming as ever — but now enveloped in washes of blissed-out psyche guitar.
This is a song showing Straw Bear’s mastery of the pop song — with a truly addictive chorus: one that soars and returns exactly when you hope it will.
“All You Need Is An Electric Guitar”’s video is a story of grind, despair and redemption, and is directed by Jake Robertson. Watch this space!
“For anyone who cares about music, there will be a time when a song or a favourite album has got them out of a hole,” says Ian Ray. “So the song’s really all about how music can come to your rescue; it has an incredible capacity to soothe and elevate you out of the everyday grind.”
The song emerges after a turbulent couple of years, and their new forthcoming album, “Fiction,” is the result of a series of births, deaths and marriages. The band return emboldened by their experiences and are stronger than ever: tighter pop choruses, laser- focused verses and bolder lyrics.
They’ve also built their own studio in Essex, and new LP “Fiction”, set for release later in the year, was recorded there.
WATCH THE VIDEO FEATURING Steve Coogan, Iggy Pop, Christopher Eccleston, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Mike Garry, Joe Duddell, Rowetta, Terry Christian, Richard Madeley, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Shaun Ryder, Johnny Bramwell, Paul Morley, Mark Radcliffe, Vini Reilly, Andrew Weatherall, John Cooper Clarke, Peter Saville & Philip Glass…
The poem was written by Mancunian poet and lifelong Wilson fan Mike Garry who took it to music composer Joe Duddell (New Order, Elbow). On the first read, Duddell immediately heard elements of New Order’s ‘Your Silent Face’, completely unrealised by Garry, and decided to base the music on that song. ‘St. Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H Wilson’ was born.
‘When Anthony H Wilson died in August 2007, I knew the world would never be the same. Tony Wilson built the modern Manchester.’ – Mike Garry
Wilson launched Factory Records in 1978 and he went on to establish the label by signing the likes of Joy Division, New Order, and The Happy Mondays. He became known as Mr Manchester for his work throughout his career promoting the city. He was immortalised on film by Steve Coogan in 2003’s 24 Hour Party People and again in the Joy Division biopic Control, this time played by Craig Parkinson. After a long struggle with cancer, Tony Wilson died in 2007 in Manchester’s Christie Cancer Hospital. All profits from the single will go to The Christie Charitable Fund.
‘St. Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H. Wilson’ will be available to download and buy on CD and white vinyl 12”, all featuring the Weatherall remix, on Friday 14 August. Skinny Dog Records is a label formed by members ofI Am Kloot and Elbow.
To celebrate the release of St. Anthony, there will be a launch party at the old Granada Studios on 14 August. Mike Garry and Joe Duddell & ensemblewill be performing the single live, there will be some very special guest DJs alongside a screening of the video as well as previously unseen, exclusive interview footage from the shoot. For more information and to buy tickets please go to www.stanthony.tickets . All proceeds from the event will go to The Christie Charitable Fund.
The newly launch website designed by Retro Fuzz at saint-anthony.co.uk allows you to explore the places, people and stories which make up the lyrics — helping to see the full picture of Wilson’s impact. Playing on the poem’s repeated refrain of ‘Talk to me of…’ the website allows you to send messages from your mobile phone direct into the site to join the conversation.
Liverpool five-piece Cavalry have crafted a sound that confidently melds together a mixture of classic and contemporary musical influence, from Paul Simon to The National, Fleetwood Mac to Villagers, The Beatles to Bon Iver.
Since they formed, the band’s music has quickly caught the attention of established and influential musicians, seeing them take on live support slots for British Sea Power, The Antlers and Steve Malkmus.
BBC Merseyside’s Dave Monks and BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens featured the band as a discovery on ‘BBC Introducing’, with Tom Robinson of BBC 6 Music and Janice Long of Radio 2 both eagerly playing their early tracks.
It’s hard to believe Cavalry have achieved so much in so short a time, with just two online tracks and a handful of live shows under their belts, but their music strikes a deep chord on first listen.
‘Leaves’ has all the dreamy insistence of a long-lost Grant Lee Buffalo gem, while ‘Lament’ hints at the understated anthemic pull of Band Of Horses at their best.
With national radio eager to playlist the band, they will release their first official single, ‘An Understanding’, later this year. Fingers crossed for an appearance at Glastonbury Festival too – the band are currently longlisted for a slot.
Cavalry are Alan Croft on lead vocals, Austin Logan on guitar, Paul Jones on bass, Steven Taylor on guitar and Gareth Dawson on drums.