Song of the Day – Avi Buffalo

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Today’s Song of the Day is the first track to be taken from Avi Buffalo‘s highly anticipated second album At Best Cuckold released 8th September 2014. ‘So What’ is a sun-tinged, soul-warming song, fuelled by catchy choruses, harmonies ridden with ‘aaaahh’s and delicate guitar riffs. Paired with its beautifully filmed video, its effect is stunning and tender in equal measures. It’s the perfect soundtrack for the heatwave and for carefree days lazing around catching some rays. Easy on the ear and pleasurable for the soul, it’s a delightful track that will leave you wanting more.

At Best Cuckold is now available for pre-order through Sub Pop MegamartiTunes and Amazon.

Catch Avi Buffalo on tour this Autumn:

Sep. 23 – Gothenburg, SE – Pustervik
Sep. 24 – Stockholm, SE – Kagelbanan
Sep. 25 – Oslo, NO – John Dee
Sep. 26 – Lund, SE – Mejeret
Sep. 28 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega / Ideal Bar
Sep. 29 – Hamburg, DE – Prinzenbar
Oct. 01 – Paris, FR – Le Divan du Monde
Oct. 03 – Manchester, UK – Deaf Institute
Oct. 05 – Dublin, IE – Whelan’s
Oct. 06 – Glasgow, UK – Broadcast
Oct. 08 – Bristol, UK – Thekla
Oct. 10 – London, UK – Islington Assembly Hall
Oct. 14 – Amsterdam, NL – Tolshuistuin
Oct. 15 – Brussels, BE – Botanique / Witloof Bar
Oct. 16 – Koln, DE – Luxor
Oct. 17 – Berlin, DE – Privatclub

Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would want to hear? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.com

A Few Words With… Jake Evans

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Want to listen to something that is positively uplifting, catchy and full of powerful guitar riffs? Well, look no further. Jake Evans is the man you are looking for. You may recognise him, either from his work with Bernard Sumner in Bar Lieutenant or spotted him playing alongside Jimi Goodwin at this year’s Glastonbury Festival or as the support act on Goodwin‘s tour. He has now spread his wings and his making his way on his own. Equipped with a collection of anthems and songs that warm your soul, take the magnificent ‘Easy On My Soul’ or the latest single ‘This Is Life’, the future is looking bright, so get listening and be ahead of the game and you will be similarly mesmerised by Evans’ songwriting style.

The Music Shepherd was fortunate enough to get hold of the talented fella and ask him about what it’s like working with the big names and where he sees himself in the future.

  • You’ve worked with a lot of influential people in the last few years – in particular New Order’s Bernard Sumner in Bad Lieutenant – do you ever find it a daunting experience?

I did find it a little daunting at first, I’d only met Bernard once or twice briefly, but based upon what he’d heard of my stuff, he suggested getting a new band together. Of course, I accepted the invitation! The next thing I knew we were in Alex James’s house setting up and demoing some stuff with him in the earliest incarnation of Bad Lieutenant. I did think ‘how have I got here all of a sudden?’. I mean, the guy hasn’t just been in one extremely influential band, but two! Having said that, it doesn’t take long before you have to start working on a level with one another just so you can function as writers and as a band, so I settled into it naturally with time.

  • What’s it like going solo? Do you prefer it?

It’s just different, really. It feels as though this is the right time for making my own record, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It can feel a little more daunting going solo logistically, as, when I started making the album there was no possibility of a label or any funding, meaning that I did everything myself pretty much. That means there’s more responsibility put upon you, but actually, that’s also quite liberating and exciting too.

  • Is there anyone you would particularly like to work with in the future?
I was/am a huge fan of Doves before I started working with Jimi Goodwin, so that’s one ambition realised so far! I’m still waiting on that call from Bob Dylan, but I don’t think he got my email. Apart from that, I saw Courtney Barnett at Glastonbury whilst playing with Jimi, she’s really cool. I’d love to write a track with her.
  • ‘This Is Life’ is your new single, what’s the story behind it?
I originally wrote that song with Bernard in mind on the chorus. It soon dawned on me that if I wanted to tour it, it wasn’t gonna be possible with his schedule, so I sang it all. but there’s an alternate version on the album that he sings. It’s a song about some sort of struggle, but the necessity of that struggle to appreciate what follows.
  • What does the songwriting process involve for you?
I try not to overthink it, it can start from anything really. I often feel as though I trick myself into it by catching myself off guard, be it with a loop of some kind, a line, or a chord progression or something. It generally starts with a feeling that’s gotta come out. Sometimes it’s a case of turning that starter motor until it fires up and starts ticking over. Sometimes it just happens by itself.
  • Who or what has been your biggest musical influence?

There are seriously too many musical influences to mention, and probably no-one singularly more influential than any other. In my formative years especially it depended on what month you asked me, when there was a whole world opening up to my ears. Through my teens when I really started getting stuck in, it was my parent’s records and all the 60’s greats – Beatles, Dylan, Hendrix The Stones – They really got me going. Other than that it’s life, observations and people I hold dear.

  • You’ve just been on tour with Jimi Goodwin from Doves –  how did that pan out? Any stories to share?

It was brilliant! To be playing with that guy in his band is a real privilege. He’s a great writer, musician, and all round top bloke. We’re still touring actually. We just played Glastonbury on the Park Stage and we had a really good time there. We supported Elbow throughout April in all of the UK megadomes, and even ended our support tour with them with the obligatory Who-esque cliché rock and roll bow on the final night at the 02 in London. Elbow are a great band and they really looked after Jimi and all of us.

Following the April tour we did a full UK tour in May – for which my own band supported on some dates to promote the new single. I did unfortunately break my finger with 10 dates left to go, after trapping it in a door, but with the power of Co-Codamol, I made it through. I wouldn’t have minded, had I been skydiving, but I was just getting out of a taxi! Following the tour and supports with Jimi, I did more of my own UK dates in June, which were really enjoyable too.
  • Where is your favourite place in the country to play?
Scottish crowds have been ace, and so was Southern Ireland on this tour. They made us feel really special. All of the shows were fantastic though.
  • What’s the aim for the future? Where do you hope to be in the next few years?
My immediate plan is for the next single, followed by the album towards the end of the year, and more dates to follow. As far as the next few years go, I want to be making music I believe in, and hoping that music connects with more and more people as time goes on.
Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would want to hear? Send it over amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.com

Song of the Day – Haley Bonar

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Meet Haley Bonar. She’s the talented college dropout who was determined to make it with her music. Today, she debuts ‘Heaven’s Made For Two’, the first track to be taken from her new album, Last War, released this September. The song is a tasty mixture of crunching guitars, whimsical vocals and dreamy floating melodies that build into a big climax of explosive riot-ridden energy. In the past she has worked with the likes of Andrew Bird, Justin Vernon and Jeremy Hanson, and is now set to make a name for herself.

She’s also coming to the UK this Autumn, but in the meantime, get listening to this totally glorious new track.

27 Oct – Brighton, Green Door (Free show)
28 Oct – Bristol, Start The Bus  (Free Show)
29 Oct – London, The Lexington
30 Oct – Manchester, Gullivers
31 Oct – Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy
01 Nov – Liverpool, Liverpool Music Week

Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would want to hear? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.com

Song of the Day – FKA Twigs

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Ok. So this is officially the best song released so far this year. FKA Twigs has done it again and made something that is at once completely stunning, totally innovative and the video is, quite frankly, a work of art. She sits like a Goddess and sounds like a Goddess. She has single-handedly sent the internet into overdrive as we all hang on her every action and await her next move. She has set the benchmark for what new electronic music can do and how far the experimentation can go. Stunning. Completely stunning.

Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would be interested in? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.com

Song of the Day – MALKA

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Today, The Music Shepherd brings you a supersonic, unabashedly fabulous pop number from MALKA. MALKA is the new stage name of Tamara Schlesinger, and ‘Into The Night’ is her first venture under this new identity. With voodoo drums that build upon the haunting lyrics and an mesmerising groove underpinning the whole thing, it launches into the catchy chorus, as MALKA jumps up and down her vocal range. It’s clever and as energetic as it is exciting. Now go and get listening.

‘Into the Night’ is released through Tantrum Records July 14 2014.

Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would be interested in? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.co.uk

A Few Words With… Altrego

You may recall Altrego from last week’s post (if you don’t- why the hell not?) After being utterly blown away at their show at the King’s Head Sessions, The Music Shepherd was lucky enough to grab a few words with Jasper Erkens, the head man from the spell-binding new act, ahead of the release of the debut EP which is now available for download on iTunes. And having heard the new EP, it can be confirmed that it is well worth getting your mitts on.

It opens with ‘Moves’ that blasts through the funkiest riff you’ll hear this year, and simultaneously makes you want to dance and completely lose your mind as it develops into the powerful chorus. Then you have ‘Lizard On Ice’ that literally budges along like a lizard scattering a crazed rhythm. Littered with Altrego’s signature syncopated rhythms that layer up and develop, it is another stomping track. Yet, things have only just begun, as you are then hit with ‘Love Is Flawless’ which is undeniably sexy and has hit-in-the-making written all over it. It is brought to a close with the fantastic ‘Miraculous Epiphanies’ (check out the video below). Laden with catchy hooks, skilfully placed beats and crazy little sounds that jump out of nowhere, this is an EP you need to hear. And The Music Shepherd got the backstory on how all this came to be…

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- For anyone who hasn’t heard of Altrego, how would you describe your sound?
I tend to combine different elements together so that makes the music quite hybrid: Heavily distorted basses, on-the-grid beats & funky grooves, guitars & synths, roots & electronics. But I just call it ‘unconventional pop’. I like that term because it’s broad, it doesn’t instantly put it in a box. I don’t mind calling it pop, but that would probably make you expect something less… processed and distorted.
- What does the songwriting process involve for you?
It involves a lot of producing, spending a lot time on details, wasting time on stupid ideas, starting over again, experimenting, recording, mixing on the go, writing melody lines, structuring the track, writing lyrics… I like working alone, I always have countless ideas that I can try out right away without having to pass it by someone. That’s the process though, the results I like to share with others, I have a select group of people whose opinions I care about, so I definitely need them as my soundboard!
- Who or what has been your biggest inspiration? Is there anyone you aspire to be like?
I don’t think I could name a single group, or a single person I aspire to be. But I do like idolising musicians, I absolutely love David Bowie, Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke, Nick Drake,… And also a lot of electronic artists like Soulwax, Justice, Moderat, Siriusmo … But I obviously aspire to be myself, just like everybody else I’m striving to be unique in my own kind of way.
- Which do you prefer – the studio or the live setting? And why is that? 
If I’d have to choose I’d say Live, because that’s where my music really comes to life. I’m a nerd when it comes to production, I can do it for hours, days! But the most rewarding thing about being a musician is that we get response, applause for what we do. You don’t get that in the studio. But then again, the creative aspect can be very rewarding too, luckily I don’t have to choose between the 2 in real life.
- How do you find the transition from record to the live setting?
I had to experiment a lot in order to actually play these songs live. I started off collaborating with Drefish, as a two-piece with him on drums. At the time we still had a mac running along, which means we were playing to the click. In order not to restrict ourselves and be free we went and looked for a synth player and that’s where Stephen Keyes came in. He uses Machine to trigger samples live, so that we improvise whenever we want.
- Your live set is very energetic, what do you aim to achieve when you’re onstage?
I aim to blow as many minds as possible, ultimately I want our set to be an experience for the viewer, I want them to dance and to fully enjoy themselves!
- ‘Love Is Flawless’ has a big, jazzy dance feel to it. How did this song come together? 
I had wanted to incorporate that sketchy drum rhythm for a while and it all came together with the melodic ideas I was playing around with at the time. It’s a very simple track, it has almost got a nursery rhyme feel to it. Although I’m pretty sure it would scare the crap out of those kids, haha.
- What is the dream? Where do you hope to be in a year’s time?
In a year’s time I should have convinced more people by playing loads of live gigs in order to expand that fan base. By that time I’ll have released my second EP already, so I’ll be in the studio to record the next songs i’ll be releasing! In the meantime we’ll definitely be gigging here in the England, in and around London!
- Finally, is there one weird fact that people should know about Altrego?
To be completely honest I couldn’t come up with a weird fact or anecdote.. It’s not like I’m as crazy as GG Allin, let alone Keith Moon. I like to draw in between the lines of what is socially acceptable and what I feel comfortable doing.
Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would be interested in? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.co.uk

Pick of the Week – Ultimate Painting

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Drop City was a community formed by a small group of American artists in 1965. It was the first real commune, pre-summer of love, inspired by the happenings of Allan Kaprow, Fluxos and John Cage. The artists’ most celebrated collaboration was a piece they called ‘The Ultimate Painting’. 
Ultimate Painting are James Hoare and Jack Cooper. They’re a band. 

The Music Shepherd‘s Pick of the Week is something so fresh, it’s like it just came out the oven. Ultimate Painting are a brand new London duo. The two met whilst they were touring in Europe in different bands- Jack’s band Mazes were supporting James’ band Veronica Falls. They found that they got along swimmingly and thus Ultimate Painting was born.

Their debut track ‘Ultimate Painting’ drops on August 18 on Trouble In Mind Records, and it’s glorious. Stripped back dream-pop that skims through a number of influences, from Yo La Tengo, Red Krayola, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stereolab, Townes Van Zandt and Velvet Underground. It’s all clean guitars that intwine with one another, pretty harmonies and summery melodies.

It’s swell stuff for a debut track, and simply leaves you wondering what else these boys have up their sleeves in the future. The Music Shepherd will be following the band’s footsteps in the lead up to their album.

Ultimate Painting head out for their first shows this June supporting Parquet Courts
21ST JUNE – SWG3 – Glasgow
22ND JUNE – The Kazimier – Liverpool
23RD JUNE –  HMV Library – Birmingham
25TH JUNE – ULU – London
26TH JUNE – Academy 2 – Oxford

Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would be interested in? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.co.uk

Song of the Day – Money For Rope

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Today, the song of the day comes from the distant land of Australia, (well it’s distant from where I’m currently sitting in London.) ‘Ten Times’ is a track ridden with devil-may-care blues attitude, surf rock guitars and a blastingly catchy chorus. Originally formed in 2011, the band have withstood the harsh climate of the Australian rock’n’roll scene and are making waves on this side of equator, and will even be bringing their signature, chaotic blues sound to Glastonbury Festival next Friday, if you’re around that way, go and check them out. They put on a wild show.

‘Ten Times’ out now through Killing Moon.

Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would be interested in? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.co.uk

Pick of the Week – Altrego

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This week’s prime piece of new discovery comes from  Altrego. On Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending a night at the Kings Head in Haggerston. Upon arrival, the place looks like a dishevelled, deserted Irish boozer waiting to be bulldozed, but it is actually a private members club. Press a buzzer, and you are welcomed into a different world. Stuffed animals everywhere, low lighting and red decor, needless to say, it was slightly odd. Yet, it wasn’t the decor or the stuffed chimpanzee with an AK-47 that took centre stage and blew everyone away, but Altrego.

The London-based act can be described as unconventional pop, but it’s so much more than that. Take ‘Miraculous Epiphanies’ for example. It’s based around a funky, massive riff, held together by Jasper Erkens’ off-beat, cooler-that-thou vocals. It’s danceable, guitar and synth-driven pop, that will leave you hankering for more. Check out the super-cool new video for the song below.

And then there’s ‘Love Is Flawless’, another funk driven tune, where Erkens states that Love is flawless/ Not a single vice/ Causes weakness. Half way through the song, everything gets broken down to a more stripped back affair, but then surges straight back into that powerful chorus that will be stuck in your head all day long. Catchy, clever and fun, Altrego has created a sound that is unique, but seems familiar at the same time.

Have something you reckon The Music Shepherd would be interested in? Send it over! amelia.musicshepherd@gmail.co.uk

Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park, 24/05/2014

 Their homecoming gig sees a new light show, a huge amount of swagger from Turner and the return of The Last Shadow Puppets. 

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First came ‘AM’ then came the second mighty wave of Arctic Monkeys career. Love them or loathe them, there is no denying the fact that they are one of Britain’s most important bands. Their Finsbury Park shows were simply another highlight of what has already been an incredible 12 months for the Sheffield four-piece, from second-time Glastonbury headliners, to selling out Madison Square Garden, to that Brit Awards speech, it has been a non-stop whirlwind, and so it was only suitable that they should return to the UK to add some more legendary events to the ‘AM’ era.

As if the promise of a huge show was not enough, the supporting line-up was to be of a similar standard, as the day opened with the fantastic Royal Blood. Opening these kinds of events is always a difficult task, but Royal Blood tore the place apart, blasting their signature garage rock through the speakers and setting the mood for the day with songs such as ‘Come On Over’ and the immense power of ‘Hole.’ There could not have been a better act to start the proceedings. Following Royal Blood was longstanding Monkeys friend Miles Kane, who provided an excellent opportunity to go to the toilet and get some more drinks. Then, there was Tame Impala. Although normally an excellent all round band, Kevin Parker was suffering from a terrible cold, his effort to carry on with the show was commendable. They blasted through big tunes from the album ‘Lonerism’, including ‘Elephant’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ to a backdrop of psychedelic animations, that would presumably have messed with your head had you have consumed any illegal substances beforehand.

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The anticipation was mounting throughout the packed field, when the screens lit up with the oscilloscope animation that features on the album artwork for ‘AM’, and the opening riff to ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ played out whilst the whole stage rotated a full 180 to a mass of crowd hysteria. Five years ago, you would never have seen the band open a show in such a lavish manner, but this was an occasion that demanded this kind of showmanship. Even guitarist Jamie Cook, known for his avoidance of the media and generally attracting attention to himself, was dressed in the most immaculate white suit.

Arctic Monkeys crowds have always been known for their liveliness, but this crowd was verging on the rowdiest, as the insanity rose to a fever pitch during ‘Arabella’, before completely losing their mind during ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’. It was relentless and exciting to be a part of, as every member of the crowd screamed the lyrics back at Alex Turner at the very top of their voices. It was the tracks from ‘AM’ that spurred on the biggest response, with ‘Fireside’ and ‘Knee Socks’ providing particular highlights to the set. ‘505’ predictably broke the hearts of half the women in the audience as Turner crooned ‘I probably still adore you with your hands around my neck/ Or I did last time I checked.’ However, many were puzzled by the fact that Miles Kane had not joined the band for song, which has long been a tradition.

Jamie Cook in his fantastic white suit

Jamie Cook in his fantastic white suit

Yet, there came a surprise for the encore, as only Turner and Kane appeared on the stage, equipped with a solitary acoustic guitar, and gushed through a rendition of The Last Shadow Puppets‘ ‘Standing Next To Me.’ This led onto an extended opening of ‘One For The Road’ and the hair-raisingly beautiful ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ (although it was obvious that Turner had had a few too many by this point, as he messed up the lyrics. It happens to the best of us.) The four song encore was brought to a close with ‘R U Mine?’, which sent the crowd in the final push of hysteria, and it seemed that the boys were reluctant to leave the stage as they blasted into an extended ending, and launched into the final chorus again. It was a fantastic ending to a fantastic show, and there is no doubt that this will not be the last time that the band play shows on this scale. Wembley Stadium next, anyone?

The Full Setlist:

  • Do I Wanna Know?
  • Snap Out Of It
  • Arabella
  • Brianstorm
  • Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
  • Dancing Shoes
  • Library Pictures
  • Crying Lightning
  • Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
  • Fireside
  • I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
  • She’s Thunderstorms
  • No.1  Party Anthem
  • Cornerstone
  • Knee Socks
  • Fluorescent Adolescent
  • 505

 ENCORE

  • Standing Next To Me (The Last Shadow Puppets)
  • One For The Road
  • I Wanna Be Yours
  • R U Mine?