‘Living it Up’ follows The NU’s debut EP Keep It A Secret and cements him in his mix of electronic and pop-rock genre. The new single sounds more evolved compared to his first EP which makes complete sense for a newer artist such as The NU – to have your sound this polished less than a year into your career is pretty impressive.
Finding another artist who sounds anything like The NU is pretty impossible – I couldn’t think of anyone. It’s refreshing to hear someone trying to create something new rather than playing into a genre they know is popular; The NU sounds passionate and hungry to create.
The ending feels very ethereal, the soft rain sound underneath the melody relaxes the mind and contrasts the main chunk of the song while still complimenting it. The transition into the ending is seamless and comes off audibly pleasing – in simple terms it’s extremely satisfying to listen to.
I also have to mention the production quality of the single. Comparing the previous EP release to this new single, the sound quality has improved immensely. From the sound of the guitar tones to the overall production value of the single, everything sounds more like The NU – like he has found his sound.
‘Living it Up’ – The NU
The NU release ‘Living it Up’ on Monday 30th September, available through all the usual online outlets. For more on The NU, visit www.facebook.com/wearetheNU
As one of the most anticipated dates in the UK pop punk calendar, it’s safe to say Slam Dunk Festival are taking no prisoners with this year’s line up. With a bevy of bands and artists descending upon the NEC in just under a week’s time, I took it upon myself to comb through the roster and select a number that I personally love.
Holding Absence / Rock Sound Breakout Stage
Birmingham favourites, Holding Absence, are set to make their Slam Dunk debut this year on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. Having recently announced the departure of guitarist Feisal El-Khazragi, it will be one of their first performances without him in their line up. But with Holding Absence recently nominated for Best British Breakthrough Band at the 2018 Heavy Metal Awards, plus playing a string of dates supporting Being as an Ocean across Europe in June, they’re certainly not letting El-Khazragi’s departure slow them down.
Represented by Sharptone Records – who bought us the likes of Don Broco, Miss May I and We Came As Romans – the Cardiff based band also recently toured and released a co-EP with Loathe titled This Is As One, which earned them numerous positive reviews from critics for tracks such as ‘Saint Cecilia’.
Holding Absence perform at 3:30pm on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. For more on Holding Absence, visit www.holdingabsence.com
‘Saint Cecilia’ – Holding Absence
PVRIS / Jägermeister Main Stage
Having recently performed at Coachella, PVRIS will be returning to Birmingham hot off the heels of the American leg of their All We Know of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell tour – promoting their latest album of the same name.
Lynn Gunn’s dreamy vocals, combined with the band’s heavy rock influences, have earned them a dedicated fanbase and won them Rock Sound’s Artist of the Year Award back in 2017. Here’s hoping PVRIS also perform some tracks from their debut album, White Noise, with songs such as ‘St. Patrick’ and ‘My House’ being on my personal wish list.
PVRIS perform at 8:15 pm on the Jägermeister Main Stage. For more on PVRIS, visit www.pvris.com
‘Anyone Else’ – PVRIS
Taking Back Sunday / Monster Energy Main Stage
Returning to Slam Dunk for the 3rd time, Taking Back Sunday were in the first wave of bands to be confirmed to at perform this year’s festival.
Having released their 7th album, Tidal Waves, in September 2016, and parting ways with their original guitarist Eddie Rayes last month, it will be interesting to see if we get to hear any new material from the group. Although I’m hoping to hear classic tracks such as ‘You’re So Last Summer’ and ‘MakeDamnSure’ as well as songs such as ‘You Can’t Look Back’ from their latest album live.
Taking Back Sunday perform at 8:05pm on the Monster Energy Main Stage. For more on Taking Back Sunday, visit www.takingbacksunday.com
‘You’re So Last Summer’ – Taking Back Sunday
Astroid Boys / Impericon Stage
The Impericon stage will be hosting hardcore grime band Astroid Boys, who have always delivered impressive shows in Birmingham. Growing steadily since their formation back in 2012, they were bought to my attention after being featured in BBC Radio 4’s documentary Operation Grime, which tailed them on a tour across the UK.
Astroid Boys‘ music is not for the faint hearted – expect brutal lyrics addressing issues such as racism, mashed with hardcore and grime influences to create a sound you probably have never heard before… but will just as probably want to listen to again.
Astroid Boys perform at 2:20 pm on the Impericon Stage. For more on Astroid Boys, visit www.astroid-boys.com
‘Foreigners’ – Astroid Boys
As It Is / Signature Brew Stage
Announcing the August release of their latest album, The Great Depression, only a few days ago, Brighton based As It Is will be headlining the Signature Brew stage this year.
A band who’ve amassed a dedicated fan base with tracks such as ‘Dial Tones’ and ‘Hey Rachel’, their material is catchy, easy to listen to and fun – however it’s unfair to assume they lack a more serious side. Their latest release, ‘The Wounded World’, delves into a much darker side of their ever-expanding noise, having been cited by the band as a ‘new era’ of their music which expands on ‘the societal romanticisation of depression’ and ‘the disrepair of present-day human connection’.
As ever with this band, though, As It Is approach their subject with the respect and sensitivity it warrants – referencing their new material as a means for them to work to create a positive change for mental health.
The Key Club Acoustic Stage is hosting a stellar line up of bands and artists, including Birmingham’s Luke Rainsford – combining upbeat guitar with gut wrenching vocals, making music that is hard hitting but a real treat to listen to.
Having toured the UK extensively since the release of I Feel At Home With You in February 2017, and having recently released his latest EP, I Just Don’t Deserve To Be Loved, in April 2018, Rainsford’s music deals with difficult issues such as loss, bereavement, low self esteem and mental health. Good, honest stuff.
Australian trio, Stand Atlantic, will also be making their Slam Dunk debut this year, having recently toured with other performers such as ROAM and Knuckle Puck. With their latest EP, Sidewinder, reaching an impressive #10 on Rock Sound’s Top 50 Albums of 2017, and having been cited by Kerrang! as one of the hottest bands of 2018, Stand Atlantic are proving they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Claiming influences from Blink-182 to The 1975, they’re certainly considered a mixed bag musically too – but in the best possible way. Trust me. Go and listen to ‘Coffee at Midnight’. You can thank me later.
Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) comes to the NEC in Birmingham on 28th May. For direct information on Slam Dunk Festival 2018, including details on all the events happening across the UK, visit www.slamdunkmusic.com
Mallory Knox have returned from their brief hiatus to shed any doubt or dismay, as they charge through the UK on their self-titled tour of 2018 – joined by JUDAS and Dead! Playing a series of more ‘intimate’ shows, the now four piece band are back on the road for six dates throughout April, ready to rock out until they tear the whole room apart from Brighton to Glasgow.
Tonight is Mama Roux’s turn, as Birmingham hosts the penultimate gig before Mallory Knox close out their tour at the Bodega in Nottingham. JUDAS are first to kick in, and whilst I enjoy their typical indie rock style of stripped down, guitar riffs, and continuous drum set loops – that shifts attention onto the ‘tom toms’, bringing an elevated, pop element to their music – the harmonies are scathed by off-pitch, out of tune rhythms and a lackluster vocal range from lead singer, John Clancy.
The man clearly appears to be trying his hardest, but rather than having his vocals crisply cut through thin air they crunch into the microphone and even become inaudible at times. Although JUDAS maintain a vivacious stage energy throughout their set and gain quite humbling crowd engagement, albeit with sadly off par vocal ranges that somewhat scorn their talents and on occasion left me to painfully cringe.
Bursting through the doors of the mainstream industry to alight the new age of rock and roll, Dead! dominate as the main support act – immediately blowing the roof clean off the Mama Roux’s. Bordering between alternative/punk rock, Dead! omit the typical nonchalant, wild and chaotic personality of 70’s rock in their performance. Whilst screeching guitar riffs burn through every strum of the finger, heavy kick drums create a low thumping rhythm to head bang to – alongside Alex Mountford’s enthralling vocals that cling to every corner of the room.
Dead! strategically play slower verses that intensely build into high energy, fast tempo choruses, with mosh pits opening up left, right and center. Pandering to the crowd with fan favorite songs (as Sam Matlock shreds his guitar solo to ‘Enough, Enough, Enough’ whilst balancing on Louis Matlock’s drum kit, in true rock and roll style) I feel that their set list underwhelms their talents. Their performance tonight is perhaps mellowed out for Mallory Knox’s crowd, but songs like ‘Off White Paint’ and ‘Enemy’ hold an evident absence during the show.
But now it’s time for the headline act, playing one of their first live shows since the departure of vocalist Mike Chapman in February this year. And there’s no messing about from tonight’s crowd, with fans practically diving onto the stage as Mallory Knox kick in with their new single, ‘Black Holes’. Bassist and now vocalist, Sam Douglas, captivates the room as he rushes onto the stage, blaring his gnawing bass riffs with every burning strum. Moving as one body, the room responds and elevates into chaos, as everyone jumps around and seemingly quite literally loses their minds.
Bouncing around the room, Mallory Knox perpetuate boundless stage energy, with guitarist, Joe Savins, leaning into the crowd to sing along with fans. Radiating a humble nature, Douglas and the rest of the band thank everyone for coming out – with the now front man even delving into his personal life, to openly admit he is struggling but the fans are helping him through.
As off the wall moments of insanity among the audience sway through the show, including lots of crowd surfing and mosh pits, the momentum of the set moves like a rollercoaster. And whilst their track list tonight also features fan favorites, including some of their best hits such as ‘Beggars’ and ‘Better Off Without You’, upon reaching the forth song the show mellows out almost too drastically.
The pace set by their lively start takes a seriously low drop as Mallory Knox reach the middle of the set, picking up with a few newer tracks towards the end. But the ball begins to properly (rock and) roll again when they brake through with ‘Wake Up’, sending the Mama Roux’s back into uproar once more. Since the departure of Chapman, Mallory Knox appear to be shedding their 2013 alternative rock cage – one that has arguably overshadowed their sound for years – and are advancing into heavier rock, incorporating lower riffs and fast tempo beats. It does feel that Mallory Knox’s newer singles, ‘Livewire’ and ‘Black Holes’, gain popularity from the audience as they drive the band’s creative direction into new horizons, possibly paving an exciting future for the band’s sound.
It’s clearly been a tough time for Mallory Knox since the recent departure of their long-time vocalist, Mike Chapman. And whilst they power through their performance tonight, I’d argue that the band are still not fully rehearsed or together since this event. Moments of vulnerability, unknowingness, and confusion peak through their performance – as microphone stands fall over mid-song, off-time rhythms weave through their guitars, and Douglas’ voice strains itself to reach the capabilities that Chapman could.
I respectably applaud Mallory Knox for continuing with this tour despite all odds, and there are clear moments were their talents shine through. But perhaps a more sensible response would have been to postpone the tour until the band were fully ready to perform without Chapman. In fact, their unsparing mistakes tonight only emphasise the absence of Chapman, leading some including myself to think ‘would this happen if Mikey were here?’
Reflecting on tonight’s show, Mallory Knox are clearly trying as best as they can to make ends meet; plunging into a year-long hiatus would realistically have only tarnished their popularity and most likely upset fans, so the band have pushed through despite their recent loss – one that has clearly impacted their live performances.
And whilst they may still be finding their footing as a four piece, shreds of their former glory did flutter through their set, especially with Douglas’ heightened confidence when performing new tracks. I feel that with time this band will be back on their feet again.
Mallory Knox @ Mama Roux’s 24.04.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe
Hailing from Miullingar in County Westmeath, Ireland, The Academic have been firmly embedding themselves into international tour circuits, radio playlists, and music media column inches (or whatever the digital equivalent is… URL rankings?) over the past couple of years.
Forming in 2013, started by school friends Craig Fitzgerald (vocals, guitar) and Dean Gavin (percussion), The Academic embraced Matt (guitar) and Stephen Murtagh (bass) and signed with Global Publishing in 2015 – releasing their debut single, ‘Different’, the same year they joined the media conglomerate that owns half the broadcasters in the UK. Or is it all of them, we lose track. But it wasn’t a bad move for a band who seem to sneeze out uber catchy indie rock, with strong and addictive melodies that scream the more credible end of RADIO FRIENDLY.
An easy win for ‘one to watch’ listicles, The Academic needed to follow up their post-signing momentum with an album and something to drag the rest of the musical landscape into their world. So, in a stroke of genius that sits somewhere between The Matrix and OK GO’s treadmill choreography, they did just that – releasing Tales from the Backseat in January 2018, and deconstructing the first new single from their debut LP using Facebook Live’s 10 second delay as an AV loop.
OK, perhaps the latter doesn’t sound that exciting. But click here or watch the video below and if you’re not laughing, clapping, or singing along by the end of it then you’re probably a bit dead on the inside. Sheer brilliance, sheer joy. Well done lads.
Joining The Academic at Mama Roux’s, and for just over half of their Good Karma Club UK tour dates, are Sea Girls – the indie rock four piece who are neither afraid of CAPITALS LETTERS or ‘apologetic about a bold chorus, especially one that can be sung in unison by thousands of fans together of all walks of life’.
But if you’ve got it then flaunt it, and Sea Girl’s lead singer, Henry Camamile, has the kind of honey dripped husky vocals that are hard to escape from. Plus, this is another band that can churn out tracks that bite down like a bulldog – for a good case study on this, check out Sea Girl’s latest single below, ‘Eat Me Whole’. If you need more, then you can skip your fingers over to that iTunes logo on your taskbar (other music sites are available) and grab a copy of Sea Girl’s latest EP, Heavenly War. Not a bad way to spend your bus fare.
Rounding off an already damn fine Sunday night, there will be a DJ set from Abbie McCarthy – the brains and brawn behind Good Karma Club, and the presenter of BBC Introducing Kent.
McCarthy often steps in for DJs on Radio One and is somewhat of a smarty-pants-know-it-all when it comes to solid, new music. So, having her behind the decks (or whatever the digital equivalent is…) at Mama Roux’s, as well as curating and promoting the gig, is a pretty wise idea.
‘Bear Claws’ – The Academic (deconstructed using Facebook Live)
Following main stage performances at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, and the independent release of their latest track ‘Black Holes’, Mallory Knox are proving themselves a force to be reckoned with.
Building up their fan base since the release of their debut UK album, Signals, back in 2013, the band have slowly but surely climbed their way to the top of the UK alternative rock scene. Just under a year later and the release of their sophomore album, Asymmetry, landed them at No16 in the UK Album Charts and secured them a host of performances with bands such as Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens – as well as an independent UK tour that saw them sell out London’s Electric Ballroom two nights in a row.
This continued to peak when Mallory Knox were announced for both the Slam Dunk Festival and the iconic Vans Warped Tour –with the band’s last studio album, Wired, released in March 2017 and reaching both No1 on the UK Rock & Metal Album Charts and No18 on the UK Album Charts.
Committed to carving out their own niche in the UK music scene, Mallory Knox have spent years developing their sound – just listen to the differences between tracks such as ‘Oceans’ and ‘Sugar’ if you don’t believe me. And boy, has it paid off. Their commitment to experimentation without straying too far from the path has resulted in the band becoming a favourite with rock and metal fans across the UK.
Although this time, it could be slightly different. The seemingly sudden departure of Mikey Chapman has lost Mallory Knox their unique vocals. Although from what we’ve heard of ‘Black Holes’, Mallory Knox’s co-vocalist and bass player Sam Douglas seems more than ready to take the reins.
Playing it safe with a string of intimate shows across the UK this spring, coming to Mama Roux’s in Birmingham on Tuesday 24th April, it’s just exciting to see what Mallory Knox have in store for us next.