Alternative Friday

Spreading the word about great new music

We’ve created another YouTube video playlist featuring an eclectic mix of great new music, so whatever your preferences there should be something for you. Enjoy!

Click to see the first and second playlists in full, or just play them below…

(Legal disclaimer: Alternative Friday do not endorse any adverts contained within the videos, unless they’re actually quite useful)

 

 

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Described as “two of London’s best kept secrets“, guitarist/composer Justin Quinn and vocalist/songwriter Tim Dickinson, aka The Wealden, release their debut EP – Rushes – on April 20th, which contains four tracks that David’s Bowie and Bryne would be proud of, so impressive is the art-funk-pop-rock they’ve created. They’re far from newcomers to music though, as their eclectic experiences vary from rock to opera via jazz, and to performing with Jack Bruce, Hugh Cornwell, and the BBC Concert orchestra!

Read on though, as we take in the Battle of Agincourt, the concourse at St. Pancras, obnoxious gasses, secretive hidden talents… and Seb Rochford’s hair!

Website | iTunes EP | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Justin Quinn | Tim Dickinson

 

~ You both have a rich musical background, but how long have you known each other, and what made you decide to come together late last year as The Wealden?
JQ (Justin Quinn): We met for the first time in 2007 when we were both living near each other in west London. Tim knew my playing from an album I made in 2005 called “Before I Forget” with Bakehouse, and as soon as I heard his solo record “A little bit of Darkness” I became an instant fan. We fooled around with different ideas for a few years, just on and off, in between our own gigs. I played lap-steel in Tim’s band The Silverlining which was an acoustic folk kind of thing and he guested with The Teak Project which was my main project at that time.

The idea for The Wealden came about after I did a gig with Jack Bruce. I hadn’t played that kind of music for so long; you know, “rocking-out”, playing “Sunshine of Your Love” at Birmingham Town hall, it was just so much fun, it reminded me why I started playing the guitar in the first place and was the motivation to start thinking about forming a band… It was a given for me that Tim would be the “front man” but it just took a while to find the right bass player and drummer…

TD (Tim Dickinson): Any opportunity to work with Justin is one worth seizing upon. There’s no definitive statement to be made, just innumerable, exciting possibilities.

~ I recently (on Fresh on the Net) described your sound as “alternafunk”, but how would you best describe your music, and what would you say are the main influences on your sound?
JQ: I usually say it’s “alternative rock”, but I like “alternafunk” I’d love it if it was something different to everyone.
I can’t remember the exact quote but Stravinsky said something about limitations being a creative gift and I sort-of feel like the process of creating “the sound of The Wealden” was about imposing limitations on what we were doing. Or to think of it another way, we decided what it wasn’t going to sound like and then worked with whatever was left over. Once we stripped away a lot of musical interference then it all felt pretty natural. I think we ended up unconsciously drawing inspiration from music we loved as teenagers. There’s definitely some Police, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Cream, Bowie, in the mix and then some more contemporary influences like Phoenix & Everything Everything. What else have I missed Tim?

TD: You’ve missed out Radiohead, but we’ll bring you round eventually…

 

 

~ When you wrote the songs on the EP, was it an organised occasion where you sat down and decided to write a song or two, or was it more a case of being inspired or moved by something, and then getting the feelings onto paper and as a song as quickly as possible?
JQ: They mostly started out as sketches of mine, some of them more fully formed than others. I took them along to a couple of rehearsals near the village of Weald in Kent (hence the name) and we basically fleshed out the arrangements together with drummer Brad Webb & bassist Chris Hill. Tim would improvise words and melodies which he would then go away and develop. We recorded everything so we could afford to just have fun, and then just decide later what worked and what didn’t… Some of the musical ideas were off-cuts from previous projects of mine but as soon as Tim got his hands on them they took on a whole new life.

We both tend to record ideas on our phones wherever we are, so we end up with lots of small ideas for songs which we then play to each other.

~ What did you find most challenging about making the debut EP and album?
JQ: The challenges have come in phases. The writing and playing were the easy bits, but trying to be the recording engineer, producer, label manager, and coffee-boy all at the same time is enough to drive you crazy. Scheduling has probably been the single most challenging part. Ha! It sounds silly but just finding the time to finish it has been an unbelievable feat… Tim and I are always working flat-out and Brad & Chris who were integral to this first set of songs were on tour all the time, so I still can’t believe that we got anything finished.

TD: Hats off to Justin here, who is the turbine of the whole endeavour. I find any extra-musical aspect of the process immensely frustrating and almost counter-creative, so Justin has to be extremely patient with me, or just ignore me entirely!

 

~ Without realising it until recently, I believe I’ve seen Justin play live twice, as part of Tom Hickox’s band. The first occasion was at the 2,500 capacity Troxy (supporting Richard Hawley), while the second was on the concourse at St. Pancras train station in London! How did you get to work and perform with Tom Hickox, and what are your memories of performing in two such varied venues?

JQ: The gig with Tom came about through Brad & Chris. (again). I did a last minute gig with Brad’s sisters (The Webb Sisters) which involved lots of instruments, banjo, lap-steel etc, and I think that’s what got me the gig with Tom.

I have to confess that I asked a friend of mine to cover the guitar duties on that Troxy gig as I had a gig somewhere else, (sorry to disappoint) but I did virtually all Tom’s gigs in 2013/14 which included some big ones like Graves Park in Sheffield & Somerset House in London, both big outdoor gigs opening for Hawley…

We played so many different kinds of venues… I’ve done a few of those strange “public-space” gigs like St Pancras station over the years, once I played with some musicians from the LPO in Elephant & Castle shopping centre! It’s always very odd, musically you try to give the same quality of performance that you would in an intimate club but all around are people coming and going, some stop and stare and you have no idea if they are into the music or if you’d be better of performing circus tricks. Sometimes the first slot on the main stage of a festival can feel very similar, you may be playing to more than 3000 people but you don’t know if they are listening or just on their way to the beer tent.

Tom and I also played a few nice dates supporting Mathew E. White, my favourites were always the small ones where you knew that people were really listening… Tom’s music has a lot of nuance to it, so it only works when people pay attention.

~ Tim’s musical background and CV is highly eclectic, but do you have a musical environment that you feel most comfortable with, and do you have any interesting stories of your time with any of the well-known musicians you have performed with?
TD: I feel most comfortable working shoulder-to-shoulder with others, collaborating and being part of an ensemble. No real interest in being a “soloist” or guest artist… which reminds me of a time I was engaged to be just that, along with an ex-Strangler, who saw fit to pollute the green room with an obnoxious pre-show dump before he and the rest of the line-up went out on stage, leaving me to breathe shallowly and contemplate far far better places and far far greater things I could’ve been doing!

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~ What do you both do to relax away from music?
JQ: My main escape from music usually involves some kind of elaborate “make-believe” games with my kids…
TD: I don’t ever feel very far away from music, actually, but I like a good superhero yarn if I want to escape for a little while. I often use one genre of music or music-making to escape from another.

~ Are there any other artists from London or Kent you recommend we check out?
JQ: I have to confess that I’m a little out of touch, except for projects by friends of mine, such as Arch Birds… aka Brad Webb & Chris Hill (again), while I’ve worked a little with a singer-songwriter called Dan Clews who’s worth checking out if you can catch one of his solo gigs. I’m also a big fan of Olivia Chaney who has a new album coming out soon.

~ Given your wide-ranging musical experiences, where have been the most impressive and enjoyable venues you have performed live in?
JQ: The Royal Albert Hall has to be the most impressive for me, I’ve played there a couple of times and the view of the auditorium from the stage is just amazing… At the opposite end of the spectrum the 55bar in New York was really great fun to play, the vibe is fantastic and it’s so small that the audience have to walk through the band to use the toilets…
TD: The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is a phenomenal hall.

 

~ If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
JQ: Blimey, that’s a big question… can you ask me again in 6 months time?
We are on the brink of trying to launch The Wealden on a shoestring budget with no manager, no label & no publisher…
I feel like any minute now Kenneth Branagh should jump out and deliver his famous Battle of Agincourt speech to the troops from Shakespeares Henry V… (one of the few things I can remember from GCSE English)

 

It’s a call to battle… as if we alone are taking on the whole industry, trying to break through all the noise and compete with the huge marketing budgets of the major labels. Of course we aren’t alone, for better or worse there are thousands of bands and artists trying to do the same thing all at the same time. I’d like to believe that it’s possible for quality music to trump big marketing budgets, but hey, let’s wait and see if Tim & I survive the frontline.

~ If you could curate a festival stage, what six artists would you invite to perform?

JQ: Only six, jeez that’s cruel! I could think of 60… how’s about Punch Brothers, Vicente Amigo, John Taylor.
TD: Ha! I’d curate a jazz tent, for sure. Maybe all guitar players! Maybe I’d try and get the three surviving members of Paul Bley’s Quartet (John Surman, Bill Frisell, and Bley) together. Maybe I’d just have an ECM love-in.

~ Do either of you have any hidden talents?
JQ: No
TD: No!

~ What song would you sing at a karaoke if no one you knew was watching?
JQ: Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden
TD: I could make something up, but the honest answer is My Way, I’m afraid.

~ Whose hair would you like to have for just one day?
JQ: Seb Rochford (Polar Bear, below)
TD: Wait, what? On my head? In a drawer? In a locket? Nobody’s hair!

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This month’s mixtape brings another eclectic selection of great new music, which covers everything from alternative rock and pop to hip hop, via electro post-punk and folk. Enjoy…

 


Bang Bang Romeo – Johannesburg
O Emperer – Switchblade
Tom Forbes – Wallflower
Plastique – Quake
True Adventures – North Atlantic Ocean
YipiOK – Tango
Chase the Deer – Bad Date
Antix – Come Home
Border Scout – Hold Your Fire
ESB feat. Perry Blake – Cheerleader

I wrote the Fresh Faves (147) review for Tom Robinson’s Fresh on the Net site this week.

They were the 10 songs by new and independent artists that received the most votes from the 25 tracks on the Listening Post at the weekend (which had been whittled down by myself and the other mods from a shortlist of almost 200!)

It’s a wonderfully eclectic mix, which ranges from electro post-punk to folk, and includes aliens, frogs… and golf!

To find out what on earth I’m on about, listen to the excellent tracks and read the reviews… head over here.

freshonthenet

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The man behind the hat and scarf, and who has recently begun making some great new music as Record/Start, is Brighton resident Simon Cowan. His debut track was released on limited edition cassette via Post/Pop, and it has built up support not only here in the UK, but to places as far afield as Japan too. Some of you may know him from his previous work as he was the singer/songwriter for Manchester alternative band Carlis Star, who performed at SXSX, leading UK festivals, as well as several national NME tour dates, which included headlining their farewell show at the legendary KOKO venue in London. He has also appeared in New Tunes #37, but read on to find out more about his music, why his brother should practice his acting skills, and who he’d like to use a superpower on!

Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Post/Pop

 

~ You relocated from Manchester to Brighton a few years ago. What led to the move, and what has Brighton brought to Record/Start?
I had run my course in Manchester and was ready to move on. I’d been living up there for about 12 years. After I called quits on Carlis Star I felt like there was not much keeping me up there. I met a lady and moved down to Brighton. I’m surrounded by music and creativity at my work place in Brighton. I’m not sure Brighton has really brought much out of me musically. I just needed a change of scenery and a bit of sea air.

~ What, if any, would you describe as the obvious and less obvious influences in your music?
Most people say there’s a real Weezer sound in the songs. I’ve never intended to set out to achieve their sound. It’s just the kind of sound I love. New music I love: M83, Splashh, The Joy Formidable, Metz, Dinosaur Pile Up, The Wytches, Future of the Left and Tigercub. I’m a sucker for a lot of old 90’s bands too like Grass~Show, 18 Wheeler, Silver Sun. I’m also a big fan of The Pixies, The Beach Boys, Cheap Trick, ELO, Led Zeppelin and The Velvet Underground. I listen to a lot of classical piano music and a Polish composer (who sadly died in 2013) called Wocjiech Kilar.

~ Your musical CV suggests you’re very talented. Multi-instrumentalist, you’re able to write and record (in a home studio), you have experience as a sound engineer, plus you’ve been involved in managing gigs and events. Which of all these musical activities do you prefer, and which is the most challenging?
Thanks very much. I’ve been recording and writing music since I was about 13 years old. I really do love recording music most, but more as a hobby than as a profession. I’ve dabbled in most other parts of the music industry over the years. I still feel like I’m at the tip of the iceberg and there’s plenty more challenges out there for me.

 

 

~ How long did it take to get your home studio set up and running, and what were the major obstacles?
I progressed over the years starting with a 4 track cassette recorder to an 8 track reel to reel then moved over to digital recording. I’ve not really invested a huge amount of time and money getting my current set up. The difficulty with recording at home is when something does go wrong, you’re on your own to figure it out. I’ve had several times when I’ve had ideas bursting out and I haven’t been able to get the recording equipment working which really stifles the recording process. The joys of digital technology! At least I knew where I was with good old fashioned analogue set up.

~ How did you hook up with Post/Pop Records?
Jed at Post/Pop records contacted me out of the blue and said he loved the stuff and wanted to release something. It happened really quickly. He’s pretty involved with the band Ash so I guess there is a similarity between our music. My debut single sold out less a couple of weeks so someone out there is diggin’ it. I think we’ll end up working again in the future for sure. He’s a great guy with an amazing passion for new music.

~ What’s the best advice you’ve received about making music?
I don’t ever really recall been given any specific advice. I’ve very much accepted people either really like my music or just plain don’t. I’ve learned to just do what I enjoy and ignore the naysayers.

~ What are your plans for Record/Start?
I’m just riding it all out at the moment, seeing what kind of feedback and offers I get which so far has been pretty amazing!! I’m deciding whether to put a band together. I’m recording as much as I can at the moment. I’ve had quite a lot of attention out in Japan which has been great. I love that we live in an age anyone with a computer can listen to your songs within seconds of putting them online. I can’t quite get my head around it.

~ What’s the most memorable gig you’ve ever been to, and why?
My most memorable show I’ve been to was watching Philip Glass perform his solo piano pieces in Manchester at the Royal Northern College of Music. It was a particularly dark time for me. I had called quits on Carlis Star and dealing with other personal things in my life. For about an hour or so I was transported away from everything and just mentally disappeared in to another world.

 

 

~ Are there any other new bands you that you recommend we check out?
Have a listen to Elbowdrop from Macclesfield, and also The Black Fields from Brighton. My younger Brother Alf busts some songs out every now and again but never sticks them online. I wish he would, they’re excellent.

~ If you could claim one song as your own – wiping the original from all memory – what would it be?
That is mega tricky!! At this very moment it would be Freakshow by Grass~Show. Not sure what that says about me. Tomorrow it could be Letter to Memphis by The Pixies. Actually, I’d love to claim Trompe le Monde as a whole album as mine. Is that ok?

~ Who would you choose to play you in a film about your musical life to date?
I guess my Brother Alf who played Bass in my old band. Everyone says he looks and sounds like me.

~ You’re at a music festival and the following bands clash with each other; Super Fury Animals, The Pixies, ELO, The Beach Boys, and Ash. Who do you go and see and why?
I’ve seen all of them live except ELO so I guess I’d go off and see them. However if we’re talking transporting back to 1966/1967 era Beach Boys (with Brian Wilson) I’d be there in a shot. Beach Boys 1970 – 1974 era was also pretty amazing too. Terribly underrated as a group at the time. Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar were an incredible addition.

~ If you could have one superpower for a day, what would it be?
I’d want to resurrect Dennis Wilson from The Beach Boys, get him off the drugs and booze and say “please, please please record some more solo albums”. Does that class as a super power?

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Moth Effect is the band name for Andy Le Gresley, who according to his label Sunstone Records, is “on a one-man mission to give the drone a home”. He comes from leafy Sussex, but is heading into deep space with his first full-length album, the hugely impressive Crocodilians. Last year in New Tunes #35 we described the music as psychedelic electro rock, but read on to get a much more intergalactic description, as well as to find out what strangely-shaped vegetables and epic sax guys have to do with space rock?

Soundcloud | Twitter | Sunstone Records

 

~ How would you describe your music for those who may not have come across it?
Crocodilians is instrumental and varies between chuggy space rock, frazzled fuzz-disco and spookier soundtrack-style tunes. It may even get a little bit ambient at points.

There are chunks of drone, noise and other pieces of discord mixed into the tunes, but I always try to make sure there are melodies in there too.

I like music that you can either choose to listen to in the background, or if you want, really pay attention to and pick up lots of detail. I hope that Crocodilians manages that. If you’re a snoozer, groover or just want to hoover, I think it’ll fit in.

 

 

~ Where did the band name come from?

I remember reading about something called the Moth Effect. It’s a theory that flashing lights which are meant to warn of a danger actually end up attracting you. The phrase stuck in my head and eventually, when I was trying to come up with a band name, it seemed to fit.

If someone made me stare at a flashing light for long enough, I’d probably confess that the repetitive bits of my tunes, some of which feature a slightly spooky/sinister undertone, also kind of fit in with the band name…at least in my mind!

I’m also a big fan of moths and flashing lights, either both at once or individually.

~ Given that Moth Effect is just you, how many different instruments do you play?

My main instrument is guitar and I can play some bass, although I really ought to practice that a bit more. I also play keys badly one finger at a time. Luckily, you can buy mono-phonic synths.

You might be able to tell from the tunes that I make, but I’m also prone to stringing together long chains of guitar pedals. Even if you’re working with some really clean digital sounds, you can get things pretty warped with a few delays and filters. (Does a guitar pedal count as an instrument?)

Oh, let’s not forget that I can also play the shaky egg.

~ What other instrument would you love to learn to play and why?

Definitely drums. I imagine that playing the drums would be a lot quicker than spending hours programming them and fiddling around with loops.

~ With no lyrics with which to influence track names, how did you come up with the ten song titles on the album?

Anything that sticks really. I get the titles from things people say, looking through the newspaper, spotting phrases in books…if I see something that might make a good title, I usually write it down somewhere and, when a track comes along that fits, give it the name.

 

 

~ How did you hook up with Sunstone Records?

Once I’d finished the album, I spent a while trying to find labels that might like what I’d made. I dropped Sunstone a line and, luckily for me, they were interested. The artists on Sunstone are almost like a microcosm of some of my influences too, so I think the Moth fits in.

As well as that, Sunstone are really into their vinyl, so it’ll be great to have the album in that format, especially because of the artwork which spreads across both sides of the cover.

~ Are there any other great new bands from the Sussex area at the moment that you recommend we check out?

Sadly, I’m pretty out of touch with what’s happening in Sussex at the moment…I’ve been holed up in front of a laptop for the last year making tracks. However, I did visit Jersey in the Summer and came across a gig by The Cryptics. They play some great garagey rock’n’roll. Their EP’s also well worth getting – Gold’s my favourite track at the moment.

Actually, I think some of Fumaca Preta are from Brighton. They’ve just put out an excellent album too.

~ If you could borrow a well-known musician from another band for a day who would it be and why?

Can I borrow a drummer please? Someone like Kid Millions from Oneida or whoever drummed on Broadcast’s Man Is Not A Bird. The drums on the Broadcast track are really mesmeric; I like the way they start off simple, then develop into something pretty complex but still groovy by the end of the tune.

~ If you could claim one song as your own – wiping the original from all memory – what would it be?

I’m pretty fickle, so I can’t say I’ve got a consistent all-time favourite song or track – it’s probably the tune I’ve just listened to at any one time. At the moment, it could be Space Junk by Devo, I’m A Living Sickness by The Calico Wall or Two Lone Swordmen’s The Big Clapper.

I’m not going to get rich with any of those am I? At least I wouldn’t have to erase too many memories before claiming them!

~ Who are your musical Guilty Pleasures?

I don’t really believe in the idea of Guilty Pleasures – if you like a tune, then it’s good. If someone else doesn’t agree, who cares?

I went through a pretty big ELO phase a while back – they’re usually a ‘Guilty Pleasure,’ aren’t they? But, then again, you can’t go too far wrong with an orchestra, several phasers and a vocoder, can you?

I’ve also got a bit of a thing for weird, slightly twisted novelty songs like Adriano Celetano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol – it’s a Krautrock-stomp with gibberish on top or Boom Babba Do Ba Dabba by Powersolo which has been a recent favourite. Both songs have got some great but odd bits of production too, which I may try to rip-off in the future.

I also went through a brief Marc Riley and The Creepers phase…I feel much more guilty about that…

 

 

~ Do you have any hidden talents?

Ha ha. No. I’m fully stretched at the moment…there are no special moves left in the tank!

~ What makes you laugh?

I’m not very sophisticated. Strangely-shaped vegetables, low-level schadenfreude and Daily Mail articles about climate change usually hit the spot.

~ What would it take for you to do Eurovision!?

Well, there’s always been an Epic Sax Guy influence to my music. I’d do it, but am worried that political voting amongst the Balkan states might scupper my chances.

~ We’re in a pub. Do I get you a lager, bitter, stout, cider, or something else?

Umm, if it’s a fancy pub, a wheat beer, cheers. Failing that, lager. If I end up drinking rum and coke, then it’s time for me to go home.

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The four outstanding tracks in this latest New Tunes entry cover numerous alternative genres, but there’s one thing that links them all… the quality of the songwriting and musicianship. I love ’em all, but have a listen to determine your favourites?

Area 52 – What Do You Want?
Area 52 are a relatively new 5-piece rock band from Reading, and if this track is anything to go by we’ll be hearing a lot more from them. It’s nice and noisy, as alternative rock usually is, but it’s also hugely catchy, with a chorus that has ‘earworm’ written all over it. One for headbangers to sing-a-long to!
Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

GirlBoy – Jennifer Lawrence
This debut track from GirlBoy, a new collaboration between British singer-songwriter Michael Reeve, and Abigail Tarttelin, an award-winning feminist author, is a highly infectious piece of indie rock. To call it indie rock possibly does it a disservice though, as a wonderfully hypnotic drumbeat, pop melody, and engaging vocals combine to grab you from the first listen. One for the dance floor!
Soundcloud | Facebook

 

The Rooz – Pleasantries and Magic Tricks
Better known for their energetic rock ‘n’ roll, teenage Telford band The Rooz changed tempo for this sublime track, which is the b-side to their latest single Lowlife. It’s a wonderfully laid back ballad, where the piano takes the instrumental lead, while the searing vocals of singer/songwriter Louis Coupe are a joy. B-side my arse!
Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

Record/Start – Electric Minds
Record/Start is the name given to Brighton musician Simon Cowan, formerly of Manchester band Carlis Star. His debut single Rock From Afar (released on limited edition cassette) was featured in the February Mixtape, and Electric Minds continues the superb quality of the alternative pop tunes he writes, with an addictive melody, rich vocal harmonies, and polished production combining to prefection. Play this a few times and I’m confident you’ll be hooked. I was.
Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook

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