BPREVIEW: Mutes @ Hare & Hounds 13.03.19

Words by Ed King

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On Wednesday 13th March, Mutes headline at the Hare & Hounds – with support from Robert Craig Oulton. Sofa King were originally scheduled to perform but had to pull out of the gig – so look out for someone possibly filling in.

Doors open at 7:30pm, with tickets available for £6 (advance +booking fee) – as presented by FOMA. For direct gig information, including links to online ticket sales, click here.

There’s probably a music journalist handbook out there that would help me with genres and comparisons, one that is updated every year to keep the lexicon cutting edge. I mean, seriously, who coined ‘trap’ music…?

But one of the joys to this job is the constant evolution, especially when it comes from an arena of intelligence and not some attention/chart grabbing pretender.

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Enter Mutes, closely followed by a list that will include My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, a couple of curveballs and an apologetic recognition as to the list itself. Sprinkle some clever metaphors, make a reference to Sub-Pop, throw in an opiate analogy and – if you’re feeling brave – a joke about revolving doors and band members. Mwah…. we mean it with love.

But it’s been just shy of two years since the James Brown led ghost in the music machine (…stir in some existential philosophy) released No Desire, the somewhat bold and beautiful debut album from Mutes. And now they’re back with Round Two. The as-of-yet unnamed new album (in the public domain at least) is set for release sometime soon, we think, we hope, but there is one single already dangling like the proverbial carrot – check out ‘Swallowing Light’ below, being performed live at the Hare & Hounds back in July 2016.

Now the more observant of you will note this is nearly a year before Mutes’ ‘dichotomy of extremes’ debut album came out, sans ‘Swallowing Light’ – so questions, questions, questions…

Now if we were to jump a gun or two, heaven forbid, it could mean that the ambient swirls and prolonged rabbit holes of No Desire have been set aside for the simple ball kicking grunge rock that Brown & Co can deliver so well. Which would be no bad thing. Or it could mean the sophomore LP is a reworking of some tried, tested, loved and live tracks from the Mutes back catalogue – with some new nuggets thrown in. Or it’s a coincidence, or an accident. Or it’s all a ruse and the rest of album two is a spoken word diatribe about penguins.

But with an album promoting gig at the Hare & Hounds on Wednesday 13th March, you’ll probably get a sneaky peak and hopefully some clarity soon enough. Or not. But you might. In the meantime, I’m going to dust down my Roget’s Thesaurus and frayed copies of DIY, so I can be rhetoric ready for when the album does arrive.

The rest of you can keep yourselves busy with the link below, or click here to check out what happened when we danced this dance before – including an interview with James Brown about what brought No Desire to the table. Enjoy. And save some mental space for the next Mutes album, coming soon on FOMA Records. TBC…

‘Swallowing Light’ – Mutes

Mutes headline at the Hare & Hounds on Wednesday 13th March, with support from Robert Craig Oulton. For more direct gig information and links to online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Mutes, visit www.mutesuk.bandcamp.com

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For more on Robert Craig Oulton, visit www.facebook.com/RobertCraigOulton

For more from FOMA, visit www.wearefoma.bigcartel.com

For more from the Hare & Hounds, including full event listings and venue details, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this feature – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse, or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website.

THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18

THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe




Words by Ed King / Pics by Eleanor Sutcliffe

This is a big gig.

It’s a big room too, as I watch the audience trickle in – from a line that stretches back to the Pagoda island roundabout, the 3009 capacity O2 Academy confidently fills up on a Sunday. No, mean, feat either. Especially in Birmingham. Especially on a Sunday.

But the Tom Odell love fest is in unarguable full swing tonight, as shoulder touches shoulder in the stalls and every polite space gets filled on the balcony. This gig wasn’t presented as ‘sold out’ but it hard to imagine any fire marshal letting another body in this room. This is a rafter packed affair. So I find my THE GALLERY: First support act for Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffecorner, nestle in, and watch the support acts.

First up is Mimi… I want to say ‘croissant’. Which I doubt it is, but I’ll have to Google and cross reference. Singing a mix of her own songs and covers, the ubiquitous ‘Valerie’ getting a non-X Factor audition airing, she delivers her “first gig playing my own songs,” with reputable aplomb. A young vocalist with an older guitar, time will tell. But art gather scars to shine, and only the world will give you them. TBC.

Next up is my happy surprise of the night, well the first one of them anyway, as no other that Max Jury struts on stage as the second support act. ‘Great American Novel’ is always somewhere near the back of my mind and on the tip of my tongue these days, and despite it not getting featured in his set I do get to see a man live on stage I thought I’d need to have passed through LAX security to watch up close in person.

THE GALLERY: Max Jury - supporting Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Jury is great too, and not just because I want him to be, but the slow Americana, blues, and drawl slides from his keyboard and across the room with the right touch of confidence and bliss. Musicians are made to impress, and Max Jury is one to applaud. Plus, I now (after a very subtle pitch) own a copy of his signature – so at worst I’m going to rinse hotel room bills in his name across Washington state until one of us gets noticed.

And now, it is time…

There has been a grand piano covered in black cloth ever since we walked into this room, with one support act playing to its left and the other to its right. But now it’s the main show, with the sleek polished veneer unveiled as the house lights go down and a single spot illuminates the piano and rounded stool. Like a tousled haired shadow, Tom Odell appears at the ivory and throws soft hammers onto hidden strings; we are welcomed with the title track off his new album – ‘Jubilee Road’ saunters in until a sustained vocal, raised hand, full band, and rapturous applause bring the main attraction crystal clear into view.

THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeI’ll be honest, I love the piano. I’m a sucker for the piano. But I’m often on my own with such sultry appreciation, as most 88 key diatribes fall short upon the ears of those less bruised. Or those more happy, I’ve never quite worked out which. But for Tom Odell, and the 3k+ that have turned out to see him tonight, this is not a concern, as the set moves without banter from the title track of his new album to the fifth single from his first – more sustained vocals, and the beginning of some simply heart-breaking audience participation, carry us into the main set.  This is a spectacular introduction.

Levels are up, chairs are thrown, and ‘Sparrow’ ends off a phenomenal beginning – as ‘Supposed to Be’ then leads us into an introduction of each band member, delivered like an homage to Robbie Robertson and his long bus riding companions. But this is an ensemble, regardless of the dominant and linchpin, with the ringmaster making every effort to bring his cohorts font and centre, leaving his black and white compadres to stand next to each instrument that accompanies them as he does so. This is a band on stage tonight, and we are firmly told not to forget that.

THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeMy notes from the rest of the evening run from sycophantic to spider scrawl, both run induced. But there are a few golden markers that deserve a more sober mention – Tom Odell has the O2 Academy in his palm tonight, from start to finish. He makes a big room feel intimate, with unenforced sing-a-longs washing over us like warm blankets that you just want to weep inside of.

The first, according to my notebook, is with ‘Wrong Crowd’, where the bravest of us both onstage and off try to whistle along. But it continues, throughout, carried by an atmosphere that even this cynical writer can’t help but fall for. I had no idea the O2 Academy would be so full tonight, and I had no idea that the bodies within it would care so much. But by the time ‘Son of an Only Child’ is played, one of my favourites from the new album, I am bunched up with a line of strangers on the balcony – resting our hands on each other’s shoulders and basking in the soft lights of a moment’s unity. This is what music can do, and when it does it in a room of over three thousand people it’s a pretty fucking wonderful occasion.

We end with a good three song encore, which could easily have carried on if the licensing department of the UK’s second city weren’t such a loveless box of frogs. Even the Showsec security guard has left his post to stand and watch this finale.

And as the ensemble eventually leave the stage, to the echoes of ‘Magnetised’ being thrown back at them in an oddly grandiose yet sweet harmony, we all know that we bore witness to something special tonight.




Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe


For more on Tom Odell, visit www.tomodell.com 

For more from Max Jury, visit www.maxjury.com 

For more from the O2 Academy, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

ALBUM: Jubilee Road – Tom Odell 12.10.18

ALBUM: Jubilee Road – Tom Odell 12.10.18 / Pic courtesy of Columbia RecordsWords by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Columbia Records

This is a big record.

Although despite the grandeur that unfurls, Jubilee Road shuffles into the first and title track with gentle keys – setting the scene of Tom Odell’s own ‘Eleanor Rigby’ ode to London, albeit one with a sprinkle of Martin Amis. 

It’s been over two years since Odell’s last LP, and five since his debut. Not that we’re counting. But the staggering of artistic expression requires some chronology, and what do you do after your 88 fingers have been shaken, stamped on, and poked into screens across the pond and back again. Twice. You go home or you go big. Jubilee Road does both.

The album’s second track, and it’s lead single, the f-word infused ‘If You Wanna Love Somebody’ (even the radio play) continues to ramp things up – bringing a gospel undercurrent to a Jackson Browne flavored call to the heart. It’s a little obvious, to a cynic like myself, but I can see it covered in enough Christmas and Jamie Cullem sideways glances to do alright without me.

Then the storytelling returns with ‘Son of an Only Child’, in a track the seethes with what I can only presume is honesty. Or a fucking, good, lie. I’ll admit, it’s my favourite from the album – due in part to a steady melody that grows from a shadow to a monster, but more so because I know that bar. I know me in that bar, listening to that man and forming cannonballs to throw at strangers within reaching distance. I believe the frustration, the maudlin anger; I believe this track. So, I believe the album. Plus the lyrical hat tip to Taupin/John is a nice touch – and one better owned that brought to the floor by cynics like me.

Jubilee Road continues to bounce from self-effacing laments, to the dissection of a broken world we all tip toe through. Or round. Or away from. But the backbone of confident ivory, high octane vocals and visceral lyrics keeps this album from ever falling short – with the flows outweighing the ebbs in a comparison barrage of Tom Waits-meets-Elton John-at-a-Billy Joel-barbeque.

The obligatory label mate duet is well delivered on ‘Half as Good as You’, with Alice Merton sounding more like Florence Welch that Florence Welch. And even if Tom Odell is “tired of eating breakfast on my own,” it seems to make for some pretty good source material. Heaven help album four if the lad finds true love.

But the (second) best is saved until last, and whilst my mum is still alive I do have an older sister and the understanding of vicarious pride. Odell’s open diary/songbook is what makes Jubilee Road flourish and no more so than in its closing track, ‘Wedding Day’. It’s heartbreaking. It’s honest. It made me cry. And to round off my somewhat clunky framing technique, it’s the flashlight through the mist that sails this LP home.

‘Wedding Day – Tom Odell (live at Rough Trade NYC)

On Friday 12th October, Tom Odell releases Jubilee Road – out via Columbia Records. For more on Tom Odell, including link to online sales, visit www.tomodell.com

Tom Odell will be playing at the O2 Academy Birmingham on 21st October, as part of his Jubilee Road Tour. For more gig information, and links to online tickets sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham/tom-odell-tickets 

For more from Columbia Records, visit www.columbia.co.uk


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

ALBUM: Joy As An Act Of Resistance – IDLES 31.08.18

IDLES / Lindsay Melbourne

Words by Emily Doyle / Pic by Lindsay Melbourne

I first encountered IDLES at All Years Leaving 2017. They headlined the Sunday night. I have vivid memories of Table Scrap’s Tim Mobbs, who was photographing the show, scrambling over the makeshift crowd barrier in a bid to save his camera from the chaos that erupted as soon as they began playing. A few songs in and I was hooked. These guys weren’t just some Bristolians with that one song about Mary Berry.

The elegantly titled Joy As An Act Of Resistance is IDLES’ second full length release, out from 31st  August on Partisan Records. It opens with the imposing ‘Colossus’, a five-and-a-half minute statement of intent to rival Refused’s ‘New Noise’. Sighing guitars underscore Joe Talbot’s drawl. The track reaches a dissonant crescendo, before unleashing a blast of the shout-along agit-punk that IDLES fans have been waiting for.

Joy As An Act Of Resistance flirts with hardcore and post punk in equal measure, but at its core is an album of protest music. Guttural backing vocals are woven throughout – the radio-friendly pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’ has two word chorus that’s made for a 2am Snobs crowd to chant along to. It’s shamelessly catchy. But throughout the record, guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan are there with a double attack of grinding fuzz and shrill stabs to stop the listener getting too comfortable.

It’s Talbot’s lyrics that take centre stage most of the time. Whether it’s personal or political (and more often than not, it’s both) his trademark wit is ever present. Talbot loves to create characters – in the acerbic ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’, he describes an unfortunate acquaintance as, “not a man but a gland… one big neck with sausage hands” and a “Topshop tyrant, even your haircut’s violent; you look like you’re from Love Island.” The face of modern masculinity is a fixation for Talbot – in ‘Colossus’ he sings, “I am my father’s son, his shadow weighs a tonne”, while IDLES’ recent single, ‘Samaritans’, dissects the pressures on young men today before dissolving into a chorus of “I kissed a boy and I liked it.”

IDLES rose to prominence singing that, “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”, and their socialist battle cry shows no signs of going quiet – as Talbot articulates in Joy As An Act Of Resistance’s jaunty ‘I’m Scum’, “this snowflake’s an avalanche.

The record isn’t all angry chanting. IDLES offer up an unhinged rendition of Solomon Burke’s 1961 soul hit ‘Cry To Me’, which nestles strangely comfortably amongst their tales of bravado and Brexit. There’s also space for Talbot to be characteristically raw. IDLES debut album, Brutalism, dealt with the death of his mother. Her portrait featured on the artwork, and a very limited run of the records had her ashes encased in the vinyl itself. On its release, Talbot admitted that, “people are a bit freaked out that this was a person. People are terrified of that physical link with death.” Since Brutalism, Talbot and his partner also lost their daughter, Agatha. In ‘June’, Talbot sings, “a stillborn, still born, I am a father” over a dirge of crackling synths. 

Joy As An Act Of Resistance is poised to cement IDLES as one of the UK’s great punk bands. There’s a seventy date world tour on the horizon too, coming to the O2 Institute in Birmingham on 26th October, and their fanclub on Facebook numbers over seven thousand and counting. Said fanclub call themselves the AF Gang, mostly talking music, mental health, and the poems of Dylan Thomas. IDLES’ influence is spreading, and it can only be a good thing.

‘Samaritans’ – IDLES

IDLES release Joy As An Act Of Resistance on 31st August, out through Partisan Records. For more on IDLES, including links to online sales, visit www.idlesband.com

IDLES play the O2 Institute in Birmingham on 26th October. For direct gig information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham/events/1149321/idles-tickets


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

ALBUM: The Great Untold – Scott Matthews 27.04.18

ALBUM: The Great Untold – Scott Matthews 27.04.18

Words by James Attwood

On Friday 27th April, Wolverhampton’s Ivor Novello award winning songwriter, Scott Matthews, is set to release his sixth studio album, The Great Untold – out via Shedio RecordsScott Matthews will be also performing at St Paul’s Church in Birmingham on Sunday 20th May, as part of The Great Untold UK Tour – as presented by Moseley Folk. For online ticket sales from Skiddle, click here.

Recorded over a winter spent at home, The Great Untold is very much a milestone for Matthews and sees him starting a new chapter in life as a married man and soon to be father.

Title track, ‘The Great Untold’, opens the album with a tender, intimate affair between Matthews’ soft vocal and guitar intricacies. Accompanied by nothing more than flourishes of piano, it certainly sets the tone; Matthews goes back to his roots as an acoustic act, with inspirations such as Tim Buckley and Nick Drake ringing through loud and clear.ALBUM: The Great Untold – Scott Matthews 27.04.18

‘As the Day Passes’ also puts Matthews’ stunning vocal delivery at its forefront; with a lullaby like piano outro, and soothing picked Spanish guitar part that harks influence from world music, it’s the kind of song you would expect to hear in a Wes Anderson film.

The hazy vocals of ‘Silence’ create the atmosphere of a summer’s evening. The chorus sees Matthews muse, “Silence, nothing’s complicated in my solitude, where I can hear myself…” in a statement that confirms his re-kindled solace as an acoustic artist, away from his full band environment.

‘Something Real’ is euphoric and joyous in its musical arrangement, with bold acoustic guitars providing a counterpoint for Matthews’ vocal powerhouse. His mastery of melody and harmony is at the forefront of this track and it would be no surprise to find this particular gem as a Jeff Buckley B-side, its ringing guitars and soaring vocal falsetto harking back to Buckley’s iconic Grace album. The same goes for The Great Untold’s lead single, ‘Cinnamon’; subtle soundscapes and drone like vocal delivery create an atmosphere that creates imagery of the time in which the album was conceived.

ALBUM: The Great Untold – Scott Matthews 27.04.18 / UK tour datesTracks such as ‘Goodnight Day’ and ‘A Song to a Wallflower’ particularly stand out for me and help to diversify the album, which dare I say is needed at times. ‘Goodnight Day’ shows a darker side Matthews’ songwriting; a Gold era Ryan Adams-esque ballad, Matthews is accompanied by a choir of vocal harmonies in this big screen noughties film soundtrack worthy affair. Whilst the steady beat of ‘A Song to a Wallflower’ sounds as if it came straight from the Help soundtrack, with strummed acoustic guitars and Beatles bass sound it could easily have been penned by Lennon and Mcartney.

The album closers, ‘Daydreamer’ and ‘Chapters’, take us back to the place where it began, merely an acoustic guitar and Matthews’ tender vocal delivery.

Despite its thin instrumental textures, The Great Untold is still every bit as captivating as Matthews’ 2001 debut album, Passing Stranger – a yardstick the artist has arguably been judged by since its release. But the lack of percussion on The Great Untold is perfectly subsidised by Matthews’ vocal talent, providing plenty of melodies, highs and lows to keep the listener hooked.

You could further suggest that the largely acoustic sound of The Great Untold encourages the best from the songwriter’s voice and instrumental prowess, as heard on 6 minute epic ‘Lawless Stars’. A combination of moody reverberating guitars accompany Matthews’ blanket of choir like vocal harmonies, seeing the songwriter make the most of the most of his natural vocal gift. The track is a journey, building into a crescendo of guitars and voice before it fades into an instrumental section containing just a slide guitar part – a nod, once again, to Matthews’ Bert Jansch influence.

Although an album of beauty, for me The Great Untold stays a little too much within its seemingly set format of acoustic guitar and vocals, lacking the raunchy guitars and primal beats that can be found in Matthews’ wider portfolio.

But as a relatively new listener to Scott Matthews, this latest album did not disappoint – showcasing his songwriting talent and ability to write catchy melodies that do not conform to the typical songwriter style. And in a time of overdressed pop production, an album that often contains just a voice and a singular instrument is especially refreshing.

‘Cinnamon’ – Scott Matthews

The Great Untold by Scott Matthews is out on general release from Friday 27th April, though Shedio Records. For more on Scott Matthews, with links to online purchases for visit gig tickets and Matthews’ full catalogue, visit www.scottmatthews.uk

For more from Shedio Records, visit www.shediorecords.com

Scott Matthews will be performing at St Paul’s Church in Birmingham on Sunday 20th May – as presented by Moseley Folk. For online ticket sales from Skiddle, click here.