Brighton Music Blog Great Escape / Alt Escape 2017 preview

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It’s almost that time again – the highlight in the Brighton musical calendar, when anywhere you can fit in a PA becomes venue for a few days. Yes, this coming weekend is The Great Escape Festival. We haven’t finalised our plans, but we’re probably going to end up seeing more Alt Escape stuff than proper Great Escape stuff, because that’s where the bulk of the local bands are playing. If you haven’t got yourself a ticket yet then you can get into all the Alt Escape stuff without one anyway.

If you want to start really early then there are actually a couple of shows on Wednesday night, our pick of which is the Fiddlers Elbow where you can see the likes of Fable and Porshyne.

Things really kick off on Thursday though. We’ll probably spending a lot most of the day at Alive Gym on Castle Street – not to work out, but to enjoy the Small Pond / Republic of Music all dayer which has an ace line up – Pussy Liquor, The Hundredth Anniversary, Our Girl and Dream Wife are all on our list. There are also three unannounced acts, which is often Great Escape code for secret gigs by much bigger bands. We’ll also be spending some time up at the Black Dove, which has a line curated by Octopuses that includes Bloom, Fukushima Dolphin, Tom White, Speak Galactic and Frost. In terms of non Brighton bands, we like the look of Anteros at 2pm at Bleach and Gurr who are playing at 3.30pm at Sticky Mikes and also at 9.15pm at Green Door Store. Liberty Music PR’s GRL PWR showcase at Hotel Pelirocco has a mix of tourists and Brighton bands, including Ex-Phanton Runner Adal who’s joined by Michelle O Faith, who are on at 8pm. Also representing Brighton on the main line up are Yonaka (8.30, Patterns), Jacko Hooper (9.15, Jubilee Square) and Fickle Friends (11.15pm, East Wing).

Possibly the strangest gig of the weekend is early afternoon on Friday when Nick Heyward from Haircut 100 (ask your mum) plays at the Black Lion. What we’re most looking forward to though is the Shipwright’s Yard Sessions (also put on by Republic of Music, who seem to be pushing all our buttons at this year’s festival). The whole bill look pretty good, but we’re most excited by The Magic Gang at 4.55pm and Rose Elinor Dougall at 5.35pm. It’s an Alt Escape gig, but you need to register for a ticket so don’t miss out. Elsewhere Porridge Radio are playing at the Hope & Ruin at 6.30pm, Thyla are at the Mucky Duck at 8.30pm, Dog in the Snow play at the Windmill at 10.30pm, and Chris Anderson plays in all three of his Crayola Lectern, La Momo and Zofff guises at the Black Dove over the course of the day.

Saturday daytime is all about Love Thy Neighbour’s Alt Escape gig downstairs at The Hope & Ruin for us. From 2.30pm there’s a run of Kub followed by Our Girl followed by TEEFF which you’ll be hard pressed to beat. Saturday night things get really busy at the festival so your best bet to avoid the queues is to get into a venue early and stay there. There are two great Brighton heavy line ups which we’ll be torn between – Over at the Old Market,  Blood Red Shoes headline with Tigercub and Marthgunn lower down the bill. Alternatively at Sticky Mike’s Magic Gang, Dream Wife, Abattoir Blues and Our Girl are all on the bill at Cannibal Hymns showcase. Also on our list (which has clashes everywhere) are LOM at the Prince Albert at 12.50pm, Bloom at Café Plenty at 1pm, Fable at Hotel Pelirocco at 2pm, Kudu Blue at 2.30pm upstairs at the Hope & Ruin, and The Big Moon at 11pm at Horatios. Saturday night is also Bleach’s last day ever. After the Great Escape festival they’re shutting their doors and closing the venue. Who knows what’ll happen to it – whether it’ll be a function room for the Hare & Hounds, or whether they’ll build it into more pub to be used on a daily basis, or hopefully it’ll come back as a new venue before long – but if you have fond memories of the place Saturday will be your last chance to say goodbye.

July Top Ten

How is it August already? July seemed to shoot by, probably because so much of it was spent outside soaking up the sun. Here’s our pick of the top tunes we heard last month:

1 Bentcousin – Dizzy

It seems like forever since we wrote about Dizzy, Bentcousin’s ode to summer in Brighton, and it was a while ago – back in the middle of June. But it came out on 7″ on 1st July, so gets the honour of taking top spot in our July round up.

2 Eagles for Hands – Glass Heart

Conversely, Glass Heart was one of the most recent things we wrote about. There’s also now an alternate version on Spotify too.

3 Caveman Genius – Hand Drawn Paradise

The new Caveman Genius EP isn’t out yet (despite what we might have written when we first mentioned it), but if it’s all as good as Hand Drawn Paradise, then we’re prepared to wait.

4 Oslo Parks – Twin

Oslo Parks are one of a number of new electronic pop bands who have sprung up in Brighton, part of a trend that you won’t find us complaining about.

5 Fragile Creatures – Sunshine

Another sun related song in our top ten – the fantastic weather in July obviously affected us. Fragile Creatures’ new EP is due soon, and there’s word that we might get to hear another track from it before the release date.

6 Demob Happy – Suffer You

Demob Happy are a bit more melodic than usual in their latest offering Suffer You which appeared on Soundcloud last month. The band also announced details of their first headline UK tour, which concludes in Brighton on October 16th at Bleach.

7 Soph Nathan – Our Girl

Soph Nathan’s ethereal shoegazey dream pop has been getting lots of plays at Brighton Music Blog HQ

8 Steve Elston – Dear Em

Dear Em is the title track from Steve Elsom’s new EP / mini-album of lovely acoustic folk pop. It was hard to pick one track to put in our top ten since the whole EP is quite blissful.

9 Lion Bark – Come into my Arms

Come Into My Arms has been getting plays on BBC 6Music and XFM, so we’re happy to include it in our top ten

10 Thomas White – Lose That Girl

Most of what we hear about via the blog is original music, but when Tom White covered the whole of Saint Etienne’s Good Humor we paid attention, as should you.

Thomas White Interview

This week sees the release of Thomas White’s new album Yalla, and I thought I’d find out a bit more about from him via the pubs he lists in the lyrics of the closing track English Sargasso: The Dorset, the Hand in Hand, Fitzherbert’s and The Globe.

Thomas White - Yalla!

We start things off at The Dorset, or to give it it’s full title, The Dorset Street Bar. There are records of The Dorset being a pub going back to 1845, so it’s been a firm fixture in Brighton for quite some time. Continue reading

Album Review : Thomas White / Yalla!

It’s easy to get bored on holiday. You don’t have all your daily routine to keep you preoccupied. But when most of us get a bit bored when we’re away, we reach for a paperback, or head to the bar. Not Thomas White though. When he was bored on holiday in Egypt (before last year’s Arab Spring), he knocked up a whole new album, just using his guitar, his laptop and the the microphone of his pocket videocamera. He wasn’t even going to release it until he was persuaded by friends that he’d be a fool if he didn’t.

Thomas White - Yalla!

Yalla! is Thomas White’s third solo album, on top of those he’s made with Electric Soft Parade and Brakes (and numerous guest spots with others), and it quite possibly his most personal and accomplished work to date.

The album fades in quietly, opening with All The Fallen Leaves. Nearly a minute passes before the first chord is played. The lyrics tell of a aching for home – Brighton – despite the fact that “the sun beats down on desert ground”, and that home is “cold, wet and brown”. An acoustic guitar plucks away at simple chords, and a haunting close harmony joins in for some of the repeated lyrics which aren’t quite a chorus.

I’ll See Her Again and That Heavy Sunshine Sound are a bit more upbeat, but the undercurrent of yearning is still there – not for Brighton this time, but for a woman. The latter is definitely one of my highlights of the album, with the near perfect stanza “I am a boy / with a crush on a girl / who is out of my league / and is certainly out of this world”, which encapsulates exactly how I felt far too often in my early twenties.

The album continues in it’s psychedelic folk theme – Nick Drake with harmonies by the Beach Boys, with Norwegian Wood by the Beatles playing on the radio in the next room. For a more recent comparison, it occupies the same musical space as Balcony Times, the album put out at the end of last year by Milk & Biscuits (which incidentally, Thomas played on).

The best is saved until last. Album closer The English Sargasso lasts for nearly six and a half minutes, and by this point, Thomas is homesick for his friends and the pubs of Brighton – “We’ll hit the Dorset, and maybe The Hand, and down to Fitzherberts and the Globe after that”. While the last piece clocks in over five minutes, it doesn’t drag, but feels unhurried, moving along at a different, slower pace. The kind of pace that things move at when you’re on holiday with absolutely nothing to do – an incredibly clever trick to nail.

If this is what happens when Mr White goes on holiday, I can’t wait to hear the results of his next trip.

Thomas White playing with Brakes at the Green Door Store 23/1/11

Yalla! by Thomas White is released on Bleeding Heart Recordings on 19th March 2012. The first 50 copies – available through Resident Records in Brighton and Rough Trade in London – come with a bonus five track cd, and there will be a free instore gig at Resident at 6pm on 19th March, where the album will be available for £6.99.