Lake Malawi @ Tram & Social Club, Tooting

The alt-pop group pumped the room with energy and catchy rhythms, and gave us a taste of their upcoming album with Prague (In the City), and Surrounded by Light.

The group’s ‘ecstatic, positive, and hopeful’ stylised music combines indie tunes, with undertones of rock and pop to frontman Albert Černý’s lyrics – ‘inspired by intense life experiences, and feelings.’ They divide time between North London & Prague, and their exotic infused name was inspired by a real African lake, and Bon Iver’s Calgary.

Lake Malawi, formed of leadman, Albert Černý, bassist & keys, Jeroným Šubrt, guitarist, Patrick Karpentski (absent), and drummer, Antonín Hrabal, performed last Friday at the Tram & Social club in Tooting, London. Support was given by Cloe Corpse and Adryana Gold. They eased us in with the melodic tunes of Black Pearl, full of emotional lyrics and a touch of nostalgia. Upping the tempo with the addictive, catchy chorus of Bottom of the Jungle.

 

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Playing Because Because

 

Secret Room followed with some gentle instrumentals, ‘about a secret room behind a NYC poster in [my] Černý’s bedroom.’ Prague (In the City) expressed the ‘lost in the city’ feeling with an equally dreamy harmony. The slow track Always June gets the crowd swaying with a ballad chorus of relatable melancholy feelings – “Nobody knew it would end so soon… So why do I still hold on when nobody does…”

The crowd used the wide open floor of Tooting’s high-ceilinged, hipster bar to let loose, with groups of people bouncing along to the music. The care-free atmosphere mirrored the band’s exuberant mood as they jumped around in the upbeat choruses.

Černý gave a shout-out to everyone enjoying the music before softening the vibe with Because Because on acoustic guitar. They enthused the audience with some vocal sing-alongs, and ended on a high with their new single Surrounded By Light, and a past favourite, Chinese Trees.

Lake Malawi’s lively performance and feel-good vibes were great for the cool down at the end of a busy week, and introducing the weekend ahead.

Check out upcoming tour dates for May on Lake Malawi’s band page.

They are supporting the Kooks on the 26th May in Prague, and their new album ‘Surrounded by Light’ is due out in December 2017. Guitarist, Patrick Karpentski, was away for the UK tour, but he will be joining for all their other performances.

 

 

 

 

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Album Review: K. Flay’s ‘Every Where is Some Where’

K. Flay’s ethereal vocals combined stripped back instrumental beats with glass shards of honest, relatable lyrics. The solo-artist’s new album, ‘Every Where Is Some Where,’ shouts her inner feelings and opinions with an infectious attitude, filled with addictive poetics.

The album title summarizes the collection, each song on the record is about creating a different kind of meaning out of a different kind of something,” she explains. “Even the dark places are places. You’re still somewhere.” As she surrendered her feelings, world views, and experiences into her songs with a refreshing bluntness rarely seen, our own emotions and thoughts are unearthed and explored with searing poignancy. K. Flay’s unique husky voice adds to her edgy sound that hypnotizes us from the get-go.

The American singer and songwriter, Kristine Flaherty, came to the centre stage with her chart-topping 2014 album ‘Life As A Dog’, but has been producing music since 2005. She signed to Interscope Records (Night Street Records) in 2016, and her newest album has shown the artistic freedom given. She was inspired to create music by the superficial status quo rap music churned out, described by her as “simplistic, misogynistic and formulaic,” and has since become popular for uprooting hip-hop to show a new side.

The 2017 album merges heavy base electronica with mellow indie-pop to reflect the mood of her ingenious lyrics. She breaks through issues with short, punchy lyrics and ironic song titles. ‘The President Has A Sex Tape,’ and ‘Hollywood Forever,’ express her political and cultural views through lyrical phrases – “The immigrant died at sea, first they come for you and then they come for me,” and I’m hiding from mirrors, I’m frightened of sex, Despising my image…”

Many of the songs touched on the artist’s personal relationships, including hints to her rocky family past (“I was born next to my mother, she sang me to sleep, and I grew to adore my father as he drowned in a drink”). It’s this open vulnerability and confession-like voice that draw you into her intimate, emotional world, like a best friend in confidence. Her self-reflections are empowering, and as they are heavily influenced by life experiences, it’s no surprise that she is able to capture a brutally honest snapshot of life (“Thought if I was smart I’d make it far, but I’m still at the start”), along with uplifting insights (“This one goes out to all the dreamers at sea, this life is only what you want it to be”).

Flay steered more towards indie than the hip-hop prevalent in her past albums. However, for all those long-time fans, her original sound still appears through the powerful rap song ‘Champagne,’ and the subtle undertones of ‘Dreamers.’ The songs are well-balanced with an unusual musicality, ranging from the heavy beats of ‘Blood in the Cut’ to the melodic tunes of ‘It’s Just A Lot,’ and ‘Hollywood Forever.’ The most likely listeners will be hip-hop and indie enthusiasts, but her stereotype-smashing style will convert the least expected music-lovers.

Upon release, on the 7th of April, she also announced a London Headlining show on Wednesday 28th June @Camden Assembly. Get tour dates, and links to her music on Spotify & ITunes here.

 

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Women Fuelling the DIY Punk-Rock Scene: Modern attitudes towards female bands

Modern post-punk female musicians strive to uphold a sexually and politically empowering attitude and style in their music. The Punk Revolution was an era that gave women the chance to redefine themselves, and push against the stereotypes that confined them in society and music.

Provocative behaviour was encouraged, people lived for self-expression, and the youth culture gave the revolution the power to change the way women are represented in society. Strong female musicians made waves, and became known as punk artists for their sexual and musical freedom that transcended the underground scene. Artists such as Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry fronted punk bands and garnered a large audience, empowering women from the 1970s onwards.

 

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Chrissie Hynde, Frontwoman of The Pretenders (Credit: Kaotikit)

 

However, bands immediately associated with punk are, more often than not, male musicians. Who do you think of? The Clash and The Sex Pistols, or The Pretenders and The Runaways? Since the 50’s and before the music industry has been predominantly patriarchal. When the 1970s revolution came around changes increased women’s opportunity for involvement in the music and influence within the scene, but chauvinistic attitudes and the male powered management of the industry prevented as much exposure and publicity for leading female artists.

MTV was launched in 1981, and had a ripple-effect on popular music and culture. As the 1980’s front-line music took a different turn with more pop-focussed bands (i.e., Duran Duran & ABC) getting the attention from mainstream publicity, the punk scene began to go underground. While it caused the emergence of new scenes such as the gothic and grunge rock scenes, the scene was no-longer dominant and social progression began to slow down.

Riot Grrrl was the next big feminist punk movement to get the ball-rolling. It originated from the Washinton D.C., USA underground scene in the 1990s, by bands such as Bratmobile and Bikini Kill. The movement changed the idea of trying to break female oppression using music to simply rewriting the rules and creating new female institutions; beginning the DIY feminism ethic that still prevails in the punk scene today.

The New York Times described the movement as, ““A boy-girl revolution,” (inspired by a riot-grrrl lyric) that allowed women to be sexually free and simultaneously open about harassment and sexual assault, that encouraged them in pursuits traditionally thought of as male, like dancing in the mosh pit or thrashing on guitar, without having to give up their spirited girly-ness.”

Despite punk-rock’s reputation for activism and rebellion, from Siouxsie & The Banshees to the modern day post-punk revival Savages, female musicians have fought with guitars raging to get their voices heard for decades.

Following March’s National Women’s Day, I ask some feminist punk-spirit artists how they feel they are treated within the music industry, and by the public, today. London-based band DOLLS, and Norwich-foursome, The Peach Club, explore their experiences on the matter.

DOLLS: (Left) Bel, and Jade. (Credit: Keira-Anee Photography)

DOLLS, formed in 2014, credit ‘female led nights such as Loud Woman and We Can Do it’, and other collaborative opportunities like recording with Rock-veteran Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) as an important element allowing them to break into the music scene. While the grunge, girl-power duo is well-established in the underground scene now, during their rise they encountered discriminative behaviour showing how remnants of the inequality of the 1970s-punk scene endure. “We would get a few remarks from male bands thinking we would be opening the gig for them, when we would actually be headlining… or be surprised that we would actually be as good as we are,” says DOLLS.

Similarly, The Peach Club have also gained the majority of their fan base from all-female led gig nights, and from ‘other female punk bands lifting us up.’ In this way, female punk-rock bands have learnt to thrive, and have been praised for their on-stage energy and musical talent. The group, who started rocking professionally in January 2016, say how “some male bands and most male sound technicians we’ve had assume we can’t play our instruments and are always shocked when we put on a good show… ‘wow you were actually really good’ seems like more of an insult than a compliment.”

The Peach Club: Katie Revell, Rebecca Wren, Charlie Hart, and Amanda MacKinnon. (Credit: Poppy Marriott)

The music industry is known for being competitive, with statistics showing “live music was the fastest growing area of the music sector in terms of GVA (Gross Value Added) during 2015, increasing by 37 per cent,” and that the “total audience for live music in the UK was 27.7m.” Like all bands trying to make a name for themselves, DOLLS take the challenge onboard and comment, “We work hard to make sure our live shows and songs that we release are the best they can be.”

However, The Peach Club highlight that while the underground DIY punk-scene has welcomed them with open-arms, they feel it’s always a struggle to break into the mainstream music scene. They call attention to the fact that many long-time female acts rarely gain the same recognition as male bands.

Media, and the support of industry specialists play a vital role in the continuity and growth of successful female punk music. The future of punk-rock should be representative of the female population, allowing social issues to be expressed and given awareness in society (as was the purpose of punk). London’s underground punk-rock music scene is a large stage, and as DOLLS describe the industry as ‘constantly changing and becoming more inclusive,’ we can only hope for equality to develop further.

DOLLS next perform on May 3rd @The Shacklewell Arms, London. Check out their music here.

The Peach Club next perform on April 28th @The Owl Sanctuary, Norwhich. Check out their music here.

 

 

 

 

The Flight Brigade @ The Water Rats Pub, Kings Cross

 

Flight Brigade’s multi-instrumental folk-rock sound reflects their roots and touches hearts with their profound story-telling lyrics.

The seven strong, Hampshire act start with, House Fire, from 2016’s ‘Our Friends, Our Enemies,’ to get the crowd dancing. A steady drum beat drives the song, followed by the melodic strings of violin.

The close-knit family dynamics are reflected in the stage set-up, accompanied by their diverse range of instruments. The Water Rats’ music hall is an intimate space, and the disco-ball reflections cast an otherworldly background that effectively combines with the music. Locals sway, with beers in hand, revelling together. Frontman, Ollie Baines, melodic voice is accompanied by the energizing vocals from pianist and wife, Miriam Baines, and violinist, Dorry Hughes. The violin’s searing tune intensifies the ballads and leaves you on the edge, waiting for the next crescendo and guitar riff to carry you away. Ollie, and guitarist, Thomas, jam together and their passionate, care-free feel releases a relaxed atmosphere that the audience embrace with an excited clapping of hands.

 

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Dorry Hughes (photo credit: Hanna Andersson)

 

The synth intro of U Kill Me begins and head-banging from the front crowd ensues. A tidal wave of instrumentals pull you under and follows through with the seductive chorus, ‘Even though you kill me I’ve got to see you.’

Their third song, Streets of Tokyo, brings the crowd back to earth with sonically strong and friendly lyrical undertones that make you feel grounded; almost as if you are walking the streets hand-in-hand with them. Emotional ballads erupt and fall, guiding us through their story-telling style of musicality.

Flight Brigade surprise us with new material fresh from the song pages: Brain Wave. The intricate combination of vocals and instrumentals, rich with the immersion of the violin, give an unusual, yet desired feel. They continue with some older, lesser performed songs: The Phantom and When We Were Young. A full floor is now dancing in beat with the band, and violinist, Dorry, puts heavy rockers to shame with her moves. A calmer tone creates space and emphasis on the soulful vocals, rich with the delight of rebellious, much-loved golden days of youth.

 

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Thomas & Ollie (photo credit: Hanna Andersson)

 

   Hurricane Season imitates its title, a rhythm dipping high and low with energetic instrumentals reflecting the mood of untamed nature and turbulent emotions.

The seven-piece finish on Friend-zoning, beginning with a distinctive, automated pilot voice, and continuing into a sensitive, slow track that orchestrates a gentle wave dance from the audience. Drums build the rhythm back up, with instruments gradually adding an extra layer, until Flight Brigade is rocking all guns blazing once again. An encore closely follows, Everyday draws on the bass-synth style like a heartbeat to match the lyrics, ‘your heart and soul still beats, beats, beats for me,’ with high notes from the violin and piano lightening the tune.

These talented musicians leave the crowd literally shouting for more and still dancing to the beat echoing around the star-speckled disco room.

 

 

 

 

AFI ‘Snow Cats’

AFI’s single release was added to their self-titled 2017 album, The Blood Album. Snow Cats showcased the unique vocals and rock instrumentals that we keep going back to them for.

The pre-release single pulls you in immediately with its enigmatic intro “Am I coy enough, not boy enough? You wanted me in this dress” that leads into heavier rock tones, and then dips back to the slower emotional ballads during the choruses.

Comprised of guitar riff highs and vocally focused verses, Davey Havok guides us through the ambiguous lyrics that strongly mirrors its subject material described by them as the ‘struggle of applied persona and identity’.

Read another review here: http://themusicalhype.com/2017/01/16/track-review-afi-snow-cats/

 

 

Album Review: Icon for Hire’s ‘You Can’t Kill Us’

Icon for Hire’s aptly titled album, ‘You Can’t Kill Us’, plunged us head-first into an emotional tidal wave. Frontwoman, Ariel Bloomer, showed off her chameleon voice by adapting to each song with diverse styles ranging from pitch perfect ballads to edgy pop-rap.

Rising fast since arriving on the scene in 2007 and launching their 2011 album ‘Scripted’ with Tooth and Nail Records, this Illinois duo caught people’s attention with their prolific, bold anthems such as ‘Make A Move’ and ‘Get Well’. Now 2016’s album returned them to their roots.

It is no surprise they opted to go independent with this uncompromisingly honest album as they explore issues such as depression, and self-harming. The raw songs featured feel a lot like a combined breath of fresh air and an emo sucker punch, from the rebellious voice of ‘Too Loud’ (“let’s stop letting everyone tell us how to feel, tell us how to dream”) to the heart-wrenching lines of ‘Under the Knife’ (“You carved a special place for your pain, so it came back to hurt you every night”).

The lyrics played center stage with electronica and rock’n’roll instrumentals from guitarist Shawn Jump created to match the mood and make us want to dance – ranging from piano riffs of ‘Invincible’ to the party anthem beats of ‘Supposed To Be.’ It’s clear that songwriter/singer Ariel has much to say and this has peaked with ‘You Can’t Kill Us’. The popular album-titled song also embodies the band’s struggles against the label system, which adds to the creative depth of their material. We read you loud and clear IFH.

2016 “You Can’t Kill Us” available here

LUCA “This Girl Can” Neon Rave Run

 ‘This Girl Can’ neon rave run flooded past London’s iconic landmarks, attracted heaps of public support and rallied women to fight the body-shaming stigma.

The nationwide campaign has been a big hit at Universities around London. The London Universities & Colleges of Athletics planned and spread the word for the second highly anticipated ‘This Girl Can’ Neon Rave Run that happened in Central London on the 10th of November.

UCL graduate student and organiser of LUCA events, Sarah Murphy, 26, says: “I wanted to bring together women from all fitness backgrounds and remove all intimidating pressures that often coincide with exercise.”

The 6km run started at St. Paul’s Cathedral, passing breath-taking scenery along the river. It had approximately 300 women of all running abilities coming together and motivating each other with chants, team exercises at each 1km mark, and empowering music like, “I Will Survive,” blasting from speakers held by fellow runners.