Concert Review: Sundara Karma

If you think guitar music is dead, think again, you obviously haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Sundara Karma live.

An indie rock band originally from Reading, Sundara Karma released their debut album, Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect, at the beginning of 2017, following up from three successful EP releases. The October 5th gig at the o2 Academy Brixton was the biggest venue of the tour, and as lead singer and guitarist Oscar Pollock said whilst addressing the crowd, the biggest show the band have ever played.

Up first out of the two support acts was Willie J Healey, an indie guitarist, who released his debut album in August and whose blend of classic indie style guitar music, combined with some slightly rockier undertones in later songs, went down extremely well with the crowd. Following him was the Brighton band The Magic Gang, a band that was the perfect choice to support Sundara Karma – stylistically, the band produces music very much in the same vein to that of Sundara Karma, and the two bands share many of the same fans, evident by the mosh pit that sprung up during the first song of The Magic Gang’s set. The Magic Gang have been outspoken in previous interviews about wanting to bring the UK indie scene back, and after seeing them perform, it’s clear that they are incredibly intent on doing just that with their ear-catching and exciting music. They played a seven song set including crowd favourites ‘Lady, Please’ and ‘How Can I Compete,’ and are due to release their debut album sometime next year.

Prior to Sundara Karma taking the stage, what sounded like a ‘Nature Sounds for Sleep’ album was playing, creating a chill atmosphere in what was otherwise an incredibly excited crowd. The band opened with ‘Another Word For Beautiful,’ from their debut album, a song which was the perfect choice to follow the pre-set music, with its ambient opening and lead singer Oscar Pollock’s almost Bowie-esque vocals on this track. It only took the band six songs until Pollock jumped into the crowd to sing ‘Flame,’ an undoubted highlight of their set and a song that is, without question, one of the best indie songs I’ve heard in recent years. The crowd seemed to agree, and it was amazing to see a band that had such support from fans already, having only just released their debut album. Sundara Karma is comprised of lead singer and guitarist Pollock, bassist Dom Cordell, lead guitarist Ally Baty, and drummer Haydn Evans, who all seemed to be genuinely having the greatest time onstage, and truly relished being able to play their new album to their fans. The band have spoken previously about using literary and philosophical references within their songs, most notably in ‘Flame’ and ‘Loveblood,’ and this attention to detail could also be seen in their backdrop of three circles, recognisable for being used several times in various album and EP cover art. These were lit from behind, looking almost like an eclipse and adding an even more artsy vibe to the gig. Other notable songs were the upbeat and catchy ‘She Said,’ an indie classic if ever there was one, and the two encore songs, ‘Happy Family’ and ‘Explore.’ The band put on a truly fantastic show for their biggest one to date, and having gone to the gig already a fan, I came away an even bigger one, with a renewed faith in the current UK indie scene.

Review by: Phoebe Hagan

ALBUM REVIEW: Bloc Party – 'Hymns'

Bloc Party are back with a new album after 4 years. It’s clear that the band’s style has changed since their debut album Silent Alarm was released in 2005. The new album Hymns has a different feel to it, with one of the singles from the album “The Good News” being described by NME as “One of the most conventionally ‘rock’ songs Bloc Party have ever done.” It’s a bit more Blur than Bloc Party, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and this shift is probably unsurprising considering the band lost two of the original band and gained two new members since 2013.

There is also a curious religious theme running through the album. For a start, the album name Hymns already suggests this, followed by the second track “Only He Can Heal Me” which has strong gospel-like backing singers underlying it. However, lead singer Kele Okereke denied that the album title had any reference to some kind of religious epiphany within the band earlier this year.

Nevertheless, “The Love Within” still has that Bloc Party dancey vibe with Kele’s unique voice and lyrics over a synthy and catchy tune, similar to the hit 2007 single “Flux”.

Overall, it’s a different kind of Bloc Party. More rocky and less catchy, but they still cling to their interesting lyrics and alternative sounds. Long-term fans of the indie band may be slightly disappointed by the changes, but it’s definitely likable for both new and old Bloc Party followers.

Review by Sophie Shapter

 

 

Album Review – "Happy People", Peace

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Peace are a band renowned for their wild live performances and hard work, so it’s no surprise that that they’re already onto album #2. ‘Happy People’ is a statement of the band’s influences and their experimentation with new sounds since their 2013 debut ‘In Love’, and I think it’s a really sophisticated album.

The album kicks off with ‘O You’, a track which to me sounds like it reflects on the musical styles of the ‘60s era. The whole album actually gives me a Beatles-y vibe, but this song especially. You can really hear Peace’s influences, more than you could on their previous album and the track’s defining catchy riff makes it a cracking opening track to set the tone of the rest of the album. Track 4 on the album, ‘Perfect Skin’, is one of my favourites as it’s catchy and doesn’t require much attention when you listen to it. When I saw this track at Peace’s album launch in Kingston it was obviously a stand-out crowd-pleaser so I reckon this will be one to watch out for at festivals this summer.

The album’s title track, ‘Happy People’, takes a slightly slower melody with a brilliant bassline and layered guitars. It’s the kind if track that gives you goosebumps when you see it live and really listen to the lyrics. I personally feel like ‘Happy People’ is a beautiful choice for a title track and probably deserves more credit than it gets on this album.

If I’m being completely honest, ‘Someday’, a track nestled in the middle of the album, really doesn’t appeal to me. It’s the slowest song on the album and the start of it somehow reminds me of something that a band such as Green Day would write (really not good in my eyes). To be fair, the chorus of the song is actually not too bad and the track was surprisingly beautiful live. It’s the most acoustic track I’ve ever heard from Peace, but I must say that I don’t see how this track could ever match up to other slower offerings from the band such as the beautiful ‘California Daze’ or ‘Float Forever’.

‘I’m A Girl’ is the heaviest track that Peace have ever put out and it’s bold, brash nature and carefree lyrics really stand out on the album. Whilst it’s tailored for crowds and rowdy mosh pits (I can’t wait to rock out to this one at festivals!), ‘I’m A Girl’ makes the biggest statement on the album for me, in terms of things I’ve never heard from the band before and how they are put together in a track. This track outlines the album’s new sound and hopefully is an omen for things to come.

‘Happy People’ is closed with ‘World Pleasure’ which is a track that I feel is one of Peace’s most defining tracks to date, alongside other older tracks such as ‘Bloodshake’ and ‘Follow Baby’. It’s 6 minutes and 23 seconds of brilliant layered guitars and retro vibes and THAT bassline. The way the bass takes the lead in this track is something I’d love to see more from Peace, and other bands in their music. For me, this is the best track on the album by a mile!

Overall, ‘Happy People’ is a great offering from Peace as it shows changes in the way the band are composing their songs and mixing their styles – it’s in no way samey to their other albums like so many are. Though I have to say that ‘Happy People’, whilst great, still has not lived up to Peace’s first EP, ‘Delicious’, which is one of my all-time favourite pieces of music. Though, of course I will still have ‘Happy People’ on a loop for the foreseeable future. More tracks like ‘World Pleasure’ please, Peace!

~ Ceri-Ann Hughes 

Pick Of The Week – "Let It Happen", Tame Impala

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This week Tame Impala revealed that they are back, so of course I’ve been celebrating this to the soundtrack of their brand new single. ‘Let It Happen’ is 7 minutes and 59 seconds of absolute genius. It’s as synthy as predicted and is filled with as many riffs as you can handle. The lyrics are warbled over the psychedelic vibes of the track, whilst the track also brings a dance-y vibe to it – so even if you’re not big into the psychedelic vibe this track has something to offer. I’m a massive fan of Tame Impala’s albums and I feel that this track incorporates everything a Tame Impala fan would love about the band – it’s absolutely a magnificent work of art. Any song that can keep me interested for 8 minutes deserves to be my pick of the week! After the release of this track, Tame Impala are definitely at the top of my ‘bands to see’ list – I hope you’ll be as hooked on this track as I am!

~ Ceri-Ann Hughes

Pick Of The Week – "All The Sad Young Men", Spector

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Spector have been under the radar for the past couple of years since their debut album ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’, but they’ve burst back onto the scene with their latest single ‘All The Sad Young Men’. I feel like it’s a homage to the ‘80s with excessive synths, and this absolutely complements the band’s style. I can’t get enough of this track and its tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as ‘no, nothing ever really started with a kiss’ which is an ode to The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’. Big synths are my thing at the moment, so this track is one to be played really loud. I can’t wait to see what subsequent tracks will follow – a deserved pick of the week!

~Ceri-Ann Hughes

Check out “All The Sad Young Men” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlfsI4UD4ZE