Alternative Friday

Spreading the word about great new music

Phew! It’s taken a while to get a very high quality long list down to these 20 tracks, such has been the excellent standard of new and independent musicians this year, so jump aboard, and please share your favourites as we venture through a wonderfully varied mixture of sounds, covering alt rock, surf pop, psychedelia, tropical folk, Afro-Latin, indie guitar, RnB and more. Enjoy…

 


Super Best Friends Club – Humans
The Lulu Raes – Never Leave
Souls – Bad Girl
DMA’S – Play It Out
Estrons – Drop
Gizmo Varillas – Freedom For A Change
Albert Man – Skimming Stones
Coquin Migale – Grindie
Of Empires – Baby Darlin’ Sugar
The Assist – Things Get Good
Wilderado – Wheat
Green Buzzard – (I Don’t Wanna) Break Your Heart
Lewis Bootle – All I Know
San Blas – Zaid
The Silhouette Era — Tides
Magnus P.I feat Penya – Search It Out
Hannah Lou Clark – It’s Your Love
Shobha – U-Turn
Animali – Who?
Richard Walters – U

mixtapebestof16b

I wrote the Fresh Faves (221) review for Tom Robinson’s Fresh on the Net site this week.

They were the 9 songs by new and independent artists that received the most votes from the 25 tracks on the Listening Post at the weekend (which had first been whittled down by myself and the other mods from a shortlist of around 130).

It’s a wonderful selection of music, which take us from Scandinavian hypnotica to haunting folk, via a bit of indie and post-punk pop.

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

It can’t be easy to create a brilliant track, and so it’s surely a double challenge to then add an outstanding and engaging video, which complements the song just perfectly. It does happen of course, and so here are some of the best I’ve come across in 2016, with links to the directors (where possible) below.

Click here to see the playlist in full, or just enjoy them below…

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

 

Tracks & video directors/producers:

The Academic – Mixtape 2003 by Finn Keenan
SOULS – I Go On by JJ Augustavo
Of Empires – Baby Darlin’ Sugar by Josh Fletcher
Coquin Migale – Grindie by Callum Scott-Dyson
Alex Opal – Thin Suzy by Ollie Rillands
Marsicans – Absence by Rianne White
Hippo Campus – Boyish by Jimmy Bloniarz
On Dead Waves – Blue Inside by Lukasz Pytlik

ofempiresqna2a

What happened to you…

Originally from Guernsey, but now a 4-piece rock ‘n’ roll band based in Brighton, Of Empires consist of George Le Page (drums), Matthew Berry (guitar), Jack Fletcher (vocals), and Liam Bewey (bass). They first appeared on Alternative Friday 2-years ago in New Tunes #33, and most recently in a Showreel, but now they face a ‘grilling’ in our Q&A, so what do detecting socks, telekinesis, and Noel Fielding’s driving skills have to do with being in a band?! Read on to find out…

Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

~ You all met at university, but what was the background to Of Empires?
Jack: We’d pretty much all met through the music scene playing in different bands. But it all started when we were drunk at a festival in Guernsey and Matt asked me if I would like to start a rock n roll band. I said fuck yeah! Before the band, I only ever played in metal bands, so I was really crying out to do something that really allowed me delve into my catalogue of musical influences.
Matt: Jack and I had forged a good relationship when he’d come back from university in Brighton and I’d been toying with the idea of getting a group together but I was never quite sure how it would look. I knew he’d get it though, whatever direction it took.
George: Jack and Matt actually poached me from another band I was in after they came to see one of my gigs. We locked eyes while I was playing and haven’t looked back since. It was a magical moment. Then we all decided to move over to Brighton after I left Guernsey for uni. They couldn’t stand to have the channel between us.
Liam: I was the last one to join. The original bassist left a week before the first gig so the guys asked me to stand in. Four years later they still haven’t got rid of me.

~ You’ve just released the excellent Baby Darlin’ Sugar, but how is the new EP coming along, and what have you been up to since the first one came out?
Jack: The new EP is pretty much done, just a bit of mastering to do. We’ve played a lot of shows since the first EP, and have had some amazing experiences off the back of that record! We supported the legend that is Adam Ant on a few of his tour dates last year, played The Great Escape Festival, which is still certainly one of my highlights, and we also won MTV Brand New Unsigned 2015. As well as that, a couple of spins on Radio 1, and most importantly we got to record at the legendary Metropolis Studios with Ian Davenport. We’re also writing again right now for the next EP and it’s the best stuff we’ve ever written. We feel this band is in a constant state of flux, it’s evolving into something that we never possibly imagined it would be, that’s the best thing about being in a band, the evolution of it all is beautiful to be in.
Matt: The EP has been a long time coming but it’s good to finally have its release on the horizon. We’ve had a really knowledgeable and encouraging team around us and we’ve taken away heaps of experience from this record which is feeding into our latest material.
Liam: A lot has happened since the first EP but recording a live session at MTV studios in London was some real dream come true type stuff!
George: It’s been all of the above but we basically spend all our time together hanging out, writing and partying. It’s a symbiotic relationship we all have.

~ The impressive video for Baby Darlin’ Sugar was directed by Jack’s brother Josh Fletcher, but did you give him free rein, or did you have an idea of how you wanted it to look yourselves?
Jack: Josh always has complete free rein – he is the 5th member of the band. Sure, he runs things by us, but ultimately we trust him to do what he wants and he always delivers. The video was filmed over the course of a year, the journey of us writing in rehearsals to us recording in the studio, hence the busyness of the video, it’s because we were busy!
Liam: As far as I’m concerned Josh gets free rein on the visuals, that’s his thing. He’s constantly following us around capturing moments and memories.
George: We just let him run free through the great fields of his imagination. He recorded tons of footage from all the recording sessions so the editing is the time consumer… cheers for that, Joshy pops.

~ If you could borrow a (famous) musician from another band for a day, who would it be?
Jack: It’s got to be Josh Homme for me, because of his recent work with Iggy Pop and the last QOTSA record is an incredible piece of work.
Liam: Not necessarily any particular band member but I’d love to do something with a huge orchestra.
Matt: If we’re taking famous, Kevin Parker from Tame Impala would probably get the nod. Would love to talk beats and baselines.
George: Yeah, Kevin Parker. He seems chill.

~ If you could play live at any venue in the UK, where would it be?
Jack: Brixton Academy would be nice one day, I definitely aim to play there. I guess just because I’ve seen so many of my favourite bands there, there’s something about the venue that does it for me, I don’t know why.
George: Definitely Brixton Academy… because it’s Brixton Academy.
Matt: I’ve always wanted to play Koko, Camden. It’s got bags of character and it’s a perfect size.
Liam: Wembley Arena, been to some amazing gigs there, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play at that level.

~ Do you have any band rules / touring rules?
Jack: There’s only one unwritten rule and it applies to Liam! Haha

 

 

~ Are there any other new bands or musicians local to you in Brighton (or even back in Guernsey) that you recommend we check out?
Jack: In Brighton there are some awesome bands around at the moment that we would recommend checking out… Mantras, Tigercub, and White Room. From Guernsey it has to be Joe Corbin, (best blues singer in world right now!).
Liam: The Rocking Horse Club, also from Brighton, really impressed me recently. Back home in Guernsey I’m a fan of To The Woods (or as they’re now known – Bobby Battle) and Lifejacket, both deserve a crack at bigger audiences.
Matt: Mantras, White Room, Normanton Street
George: Broadbay, Birdskulls, Demob Happy, Tigercub, Mantras.

~ If you could curate a festival stage, what five bands/artists would you invite to perform?
This is tough to call, only 5! But the general consensus is the following:
Monophonics
Night Beats
Mac Demarco
The Black Angels
Father John Misty

~ If you could get a famous person to drive the tour bus, who would it be?
Matt: Noel Fielding. I get the feeling he would be great mediator in the mist of a heated moment.
Jack: For me it’s Bill Murray, no question.
Liam: Peter Kay would be hilarious.
George: Louis CK. He just gets me and I’ve never even met him. We’d be best friends and buy road snacks and stuff.

~ Who are your musical Guilty Pleasures?
Jack: All Saints and TLC.
Liam: Phil Collins / Genesis. I like a lot of 80’s pop, must be a nostalgia thing.
Matt: All Saints – and I wouldn’t, strictly speaking, call that a guilty pleasure.
George: ABBA. I shouldn’t even be ashamed to say it because they’re sublime.

~ If you could each have a superpower for a day, what would it be?
Jack: Mind Control, I would use it purely for humanitarian purposes and positive social changes only🙂
Liam: Turning water into wine
Matt: Telekinesis
George: The power to detect the one sock you lost even though you’re CERTAIN you put both in the washing machine and tumble dryer.

ofempiresqna1a

It was a challenge to whittle another high calibre shortlist down to these 10 great tracks, but we got there, so I hope you also love this terrific mix of tunes, which take us from indie pop and alt rock, all the way to Afro-Latin, folk, and something rather soulful. Enjoy…

 

 

Hippo Campus – Boyish
The Lulu Raes – Never Leave
Souls – Bad Girl
Mowbird – Astral Advice
Estrons – I’m Not Your Girl
Magnus P.I – Search It Out
Monico Blonde – Bad Thoughts
Shy Nature – Eyes So Cold
Leader – Young Again
Snippet – On The Bed

octoberdriftqna4a

 

Taunton 4-piece October Drift only formed at the start of 2015, however the successful combination of some nihilistic alt rock music (or is it?) and a virtually non-stop UK touring schedule, has seen them receive a wide range of support and a reputation for impressive live shows (I’ve seen them – it is). They’ve already appeared here in New Tunes #43, and now they face a Q&A, but what do wasps, kid’s party balloons, and Alan Rickman impressions have to do with rock ‘n’ roll? Read on to find out…

Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

~ Where are you right now, and what can you see?
We’re currently sitting in our studio surrounded by a lot of brown and beige. And a lot of mess – it’s pretty cluttered in here right now. We’ve stupidly left our coffin guitar case in the way of the door, so to get through to the live room we have to turn into body contortionists. The sensible option would be to move it out of the way but we’re on a roll currently with a new song and don’t want to kill the vibe. We’ve also got a very large wasp flying around which is worrying because we had a huge wasp problem a year back where they ate through the wall and thousands poured in. Biz left a banana up here last night as well and which looks like the mice have been at. It’s definitely not the nicest studio in the world, but it’s certainly got character.

~ Your sound has been described in numerous ways, ranging from “sugar coated power-rock” all the way to “dark post-punk”, but how would you best describe it?
We always find this question hard, which is strange because we get asked it all the time and still haven’t come up with an answer we’re happy with. The need to pigeonhole ourselves is something that we’ve always tried to avoid. There’s definitely an incessant need to give a band a label and slot them into a certain bracket which everyone seems to have these days – we’re the same when we hear bands. We’ll turn to each other and be like ‘yeah they were really good, a bit like Nirvana but more punky’. We don’t know where this comes from though or why that need to compare and label is there. We try to avoid giving ourselves a label just because whatever name you put to it could cloud a potential listener’s judgement. I think the best way to listen to a band or track that you haven’t heard before is to just do it with a completely clear mind and not worry about any other factors. That way you take the music for what it is with no other influence.

 

 

~ You’ve released a number of excellent singles and EPs, but what are the plans for 2017, and is there an album on the horizon?
We’re pretty much constantly writing so we have a lot of material in the bank, but we don’t want to rush an album. As much as we enjoy listening to them and would love to release one, we don’t feel our profile is really there yet. We want to release one when there’s a real demand for it. It’s such a milestone that we don’t want to give it away too early and maybe hinder its potential. The plan for 2017 is tour supports and festivals and then maybe a headline tour after the summer. We want to be playing live as much as we can, because it’s something we really enjoy. We tend to get a bit restless when we haven’t played a show in a while. Dan and Chris start to lose their minds a bit.

~ You’ve worked hard this year gigging up and down the country, but do you have any touring rules when you’re on the road?
No, none at all. Our tours seem to be the constant battle of us trying to keep our sanity whilst our crazy Texan tour manager/sound engineer and our manager get smashed. They’re both really big personalities so most of the tour is spent head in hands trying to keep up with their antics. On the first tour our manager only spoke in Alan Rickman impressions and one night we had to beg our way into the Travelodge because they were both caught on CCTV pissing into a bin outside. We’ve found that the appropriate coping mechanism is to stay at a constant level of drunk. Not so much that you can’t perform, but just enough so you don’t mind hearing about the best way to cook brisket for the 20th time from an inebriated Texan. In all seriousness though, touring as the 6 of us is pretty fun. We all spend the most of our time taking the piss out of each other so being thick skinned definitely helps.

~ If you could collaborate with a famous musician, who would it be?
Names like Billy Corgan and Justin Vernon straight away spring to mind, cause they are big heroes of ours. But we’re all so bad technically on our instruments that I think it could be quite embarrassing. They seem to operate on another level and I think we could be very out of our depth working with them! I think maybe Leonard Cohen would be really fun to work with. He’s an insanely good songwriter and his latest album is really dark! We’d love to hear his voice over our music. No one can go as low as Leonard.

~ Are there any other new bands or musicians local to you in either Taunton, or further afield, that you recommend we check out?
Unfortunately there isn’t much of a local scene where we’re from. It’s a struggle with life itself for us to put on a show in Taunton as finding a venue that’s suitable is near impossible. We have gigged with some awesome bands across the country though. Virgin Kids, The Slow Readers Club, The Naturals, Spectres, Trash, Psyence, and Oliver Wilde are a few to check out. That’s just off the top of our head though, there’s a load more. Oh, and there was also this band who we played with at Twisterella Festival called Avalanche Party who we awesome. Really intense on stage and had a huge sound.

 

 

~ If you could curate a festival stage, who would you invite to perform?
Kiwi – Nick Cave
Chris – Smashing Pumpkins (original members)
Biz – Radiohead
Dan – Frank Ocean

~ Aside from music, do any of you have any other creative skills? (or obscure talents!)
Not really. We all had hobbies and things when we were younger but nothing that you could really call a talent. We were all in a skate team when we were at secondary school. We made a few horrific skate videos, which have never seen the light of day. I think they’re somewhere on Dan’s old computer. To be fair calling us a skate team is probably a bit optimistic. It was more like just a few kids messing about and having a laugh, but we dedicated so much time to it that we felt like we should give ourselves a name. Biz was constantly breaking bones. I think he broke 13 in total, so probably a good job we don’t skate now.

~ Who are your musical Guilty Pleasures?
Chris loves the Pet Shop Boys. Can’t get enough of ’em! Dan goes through phases of liking some unusual things. He wouldn’t stop listening to Justin Bieber’s album for a while. We had to ban him from talking about it at one point. He also got really into Matty from The 1975. Not the band – just Matty.

~ Which of you would win the award for the least ‘rock musician’ thing you’ve done this week?
Dan blew up balloons for a kid’s party at Hollywood bowl last night. Just to clarify he works there, he wasn’t just hanging around. He also once had to dress up in a mouse outfit and wave and dance and get his photo taken. I think he found it pretty humiliating.

octoberdriftqna1a

Souls is the solo project of former Skint & Demoralised member David Gledhill, whose brilliant debut track ‘I Wait For You’ won an Alternative Friday award in 2015. The same concept, of using vocals taken largely from rare American Field Recordings from the 1920’s & 30’s, is repeated on their debut album ‘Release’, however Bad Girl makes a Showreel appearance because it’s not just a wonderfully soulful gem, full of uplifting brass and fascinating vocals, but also an outstanding video, made by JJ Augustavo and shot in New Orleans, which captures the mood of the track just perfectly.

 

iTunes | Soundcloud | YouTube | Twitter

%d bloggers like this: