Author Archives: Jade Knox

Review: The Horrors, Leadmill, September 30th

Some of you may have read my less than favourable review on the new album from The Horrors (Luminous) and how I had concluded that I was sincerely hopeful that the gig would make at least some kind of impression.

Well… although I still am yet to be even slightly moved by their latest effort, the new tracks gave a relatively enjoyable “hold music” while I waited for their better tracks.

The Leadmill was absolutely busting at the seams and even when I found myself at times less than enamoured there were a considerable amount of people that clearly were. Despite a slightly awkward amount of interference, there is no denying that the group as a whole delivered a fairly wonderful performance.

My appreciation was given mostly to the Primary Colours tracks (Scarlet Fields, A Sea within a Sea etc.) which just had much more energy and substance to them than the new songs which, as I say, felt more as if they acted as interlude music until the next “proper” track was played.

As the Horrors have gradually appeared to have toned things down since Strange House (the album that nobody talks about) it may very well be possible that I was expecting just something a little more exciting and perhaps shouldn’t have been. I understand that there comes a time for a band to mature or perhaps even explore a new path, it is just unfortunate that for me, The Horrors have lost a lot of their uniqueness and magic along the way.

Review: Kids in Glass Houses at Corporation

The main room at Sheffield’s finest alternative nightclub was filled to the brim for Kids in Glass Houses on the 12th October.  The silence broke and a familiar yet unusual tune began to play. It was “Non, je ne regrette rien” by Edith Piaf – and it halted every conversation in the room. The tension skyrocketed after the classic had come to an end and there was a brief silence before the excited cheers and squeals of fans.

On came Kids in Glass Houses and began one of the most fun gigs I have attended in quite some time. Aled Phillips (lead singer) addressed the audience and kicked things off with Artbreaker I from the 2010 album Dirt. I was surprised and elated at the pure talent he possessed singing live with each track sounding like a recording taken from a studio perfected album.

I was wooed by impressive showmanship, Aled climbed on stage equipment and hung on to metal bars. There was absolutely no barrier between audience and performer as he responded to peoples’ shouts and made jokes with the crowd. When Aled pointed the microphone towards us, the entire room sang back, it was truly delightful. There was a perfect mix of songs from old to new as the group conjured up a near perfect set list containing songs from four studio albums.

Not once did it look as if performing that night looked like a chore and in return the crowd reciprocated the same passion and energy, when the band said bounce, the room moved in unison. It was an extraordinarily exciting gig, upon arrival I wouldn’t have expected myself to have been dancing and shouting lyrics along with everybody else but it was irresistible. It was clear that the band and the audience had the same agenda – to have a great time, and this was exactly what happened.

Towards the middle of the night, the group slowed it down a little for an acoustic song which promoted a sea of waving arms and a couple of cheeky lighters in the air, then things exploded to finish on a wonderfully high note. It is a huge shame that this will be the last time that Kids in Glass Houses will be playing with the announcement of a breakup in February 2014. These guys are not normally my cup of tea musically but if I left every gig I went to with that same level of happiness and excitement the world would be a better place.

 

The Rusbies review

Sheffields’ own rock and roll group The Rusbies styled one of our best loved live music venues, The Plug, on 22 August.

The very first thing I noticed was that The Rusbies have a wonderful supportive following who would chant and scream which gave the atmosphere an exciting edge: when they threw out a free t-shirt to the crowd it went down a treat – I wouldn’t have minded one myself!

There was one point during the gig where a slightly inebriated gentleman was given permission to come on stage as it was allegedly the fella’s birthday. I don’t know if was a relative or close friend and although some people in the crowd seemed to love the gimmick, for me it really took away some of the shine from the performance.

Despite this interesting interruption it there were many wonderful things about this gig including the vocals. These were spot on sounding very Doherty-esque – emphasised perhaps by lead singer Nathan Keeble having a few beverages previously.

The band also threw out a cover of Tainted Love and they did a superb job of this! The drumming was excellent and it was clear that the group have a passion for what they do, and that others share the passion with them.

At the moment they’re a very rough and ready group who are incredibly down to earth and more than happy to interact with a crowd, destroying any barrier between audience and performer, which is one of the reasons local groups can grow to be so popular.

Missed this gig? Not to worry! The Rusbies will also be playing local venue The Rocking Chair on November 28th.

The Sonik Seeds review

This four pieced performed beautifully (at The Leadmill, 16/08/14) with just the right amount of modesty and showmanship which made them very charming and endearing.

It was a short but superb set but it certainly left the audience wanting more. These guys have a delightful raw rock and roll sound with a sixties vibe. It is remarkably refreshing seeing bands explore older sounds from previous generations and give them a new lease of life, and this has been executed perfectly by The Sonik Seeds.

You may have already heard the band, either featuring on a video for popular cosmetic brand Rimmel with Georgia Jagger, or after they had their first play live on BBC Sheffield Introducing… with their single Shine On. They play as beautifully live and have a chemistry together which is rare and wonderful.

Once again Sheffield and the surrounding areas have done us proud. I firmly believe we are still trying to make our voices heard in Sheffield, being a smaller city than our neighbours Leeds and Manchester and not always being first choice with bigger artists, but with bands like these coming off our Sheffield streets and on to the stage people have no choice but to hear us.

The Jezabels at The Plug: review

I’d not heard of The Jezabels until relatively recently when I stumbled upon a huge poster in the city centre advertising their new album The Brink; later the same evening I decided to stick it on Spotify and have not looked back!

Quite often I need to hear an album in its entirety several times to be able to make what I believe would be an informed opinion but it became evident immediately that new release was completely saturated in magic.  Much to my delight I was notified that the group were soon to play the new release at one of Sheffield’s renowned live music venues – The Plug. With regret, on this occasion I was unable to attend in time to see the support act Shermer however, I keep my fingers crossed that I will catch them on another occasion.

The Jezabels were outstanding, and there were so many factors that contributed to it being such a wondrous evening. At this point I feel that I must confess (if it has not been evident already) that I am very fond of most music that involves a keyboard, so having Heather Shannon looking beautiful beside one gave them a slight advantage.

After reading that they had described themselves as “intensindie” I was curious to find out what this meant. I think those who see themselves as ‘serious’ music critics could  perhaps cast this off as just another pop group but to see them perform I think it’s evident they have a lot of depth.

Hayley Mary has such haunting vocals, she possesses a voice that seems to get inside your head as well as your ears, and there is a particular element of ‘moodiness’ that seems to hold genuine emotion.

I particularly enjoyed the aesthetics of the band, all in dark clothing which made them eerie in the best possible way, I was especially happy to see the women fully dressed and looking smart which for me helps me to take them more seriously. It’s clear they care more for the art of their music than taking the route a lot of female musicians do by wearing as little as possible to sell records.

It was plain to see that the band were serious about what they do and that showed with the pure emotion that came from all of the members, Hayley especially, who was dancing with genuine emotion along with the crowd. The band manifested a breath-taking atmosphere and I would happily see them over and over again.

Heavy Duck EP Review

Heavy Duck EP – Who the Duck!?

I have been fortunate enough to have once again been given new music to take home and listen to . This time it is the brand new EP from Sheffield’s own Heavy Duck, Who The Duck!?

When I first listened to the EP in its entirety it struck me that within seven tracks the group have very cleverly managed to use everything in their itinerary to showcase the range of genres and sounds they are capable of.

If I’m honest there were points where the vocals seemed almost a little foreign to the music, as if two totally different bands were performing together and lyrically there is room for improvement. The song Big Balls performed by a growling Slimmbob was a significant contrast to the rest of the EP and proved that for Heavy Duck although music is about being deep and meaningful, a little bit of humour never hurts.

I found it really difficult to pin Heavy Duck down within a particular genre as they clearly have taken so many wide influences from rock, indie and punk bands and mixed them together. Combining genres in this way is certainly a courageous act and can produce wonderful pieces of music, however, it is a double edged sword and can be a very risky move.

People do tend to purchase music based on the genre, often other things follow from this choice of a particular sound of music for example the way somebody may choose to dress. Having a band that doesn’t seem to have found its sound yet is both a wonderful thing as they have so many options they can take and will excel in any direction they go in; I just believe a direction needs to be decided on.

I’m very excited, not only to see what the band come up with next, but finally to get to see them perform live.

What next?

  • Heavy Duck are playing The Hop on the 23rd July and The Royal Standard at Tramlines on the 27th July
  • You can download their Who the Duck!? EP from their Bandcamp page

The Horrors – Luminous review

Fantastic, I thought, finally a new Horrors album for me to sink my teeth into, writes Jade Knox.

Having first heard the band in 2008, a year after they had brought out their garage punk style album Strange House, I had a feeling that this was the start of something glorious and continued to follow them on their musical journey.

Strange House was perfectly timed for me as that was exactly the genre I was exploring and I thoroughly enjoyed the slightly darker image of the band. With their Chelsea boots and incredible hair they brought such personality to the table at the time when nothing similar to this was really knocking about.

Gradually, over time, the group lost the look and seemed to settled for simple leather jackets and I supposed for Primary Colours and Skying I was relatively happy, they had calmed down, and so had my teen angst, so I appreciated the move to something a just a little more mellow than ‘Jack The Ripper’.

Now, on to Luminous… Well, I may have gotten older but I’m not in my eighties yet. I was SO disappointed listening to this album, the moment the first track kicked in I felt I knew what was going to happen. Songs seemed to plod along one after the other with no great enthusiasm. I can appreciate a slower more ambient track, ‘I Only Think of You’ is my all-time favourite but it’s a long shot from dull which is genuinely how I felt about the majority of this release. There was a time for me that when I heard The Horrors I would jump out of my seat and dance; songs such as ‘Scarlet Fields’ and ‘Monica Gems’ from ‘Primary Colours’ and ‘Skying’ respectively but in the case of Luminous, there was not so much of a foot tap.

I am not completely writing this album off for everyone, if you had not really followed the group from the start and this is where you are starting then maybe it will seem much more impressive. I could definitely use it to study with as nothing about it is particularly distracting or it could be a good method if you are having trouble sleeping. Some magic has definitely been lost somewhere along the road to this album for me and I don’t know whether this has been a conscious decision by the band or whether someone else may be pulling some strings to get these fellas more and more mainstream.

Hopefully when I see the band on 30/09/2014 at the lovely Leadmill the live performance may add a little bit of substance or passion that I’ve not found simply listening to the album.

 

Drop Dead Angus – Apocalyse Now EP review

I feel as if I’ve been waiting my entire life to review a local band that have managed to avoid being sucked in to the incredible black hole that the Arctic Monkeys have left behind in Sheffield. It’s nice to see some other genres emerging that perhaps aren’t quite as in fashion as the folky/indie scene that is prominent at the moment.

These tracks are energetic, exciting and entice you to get up from your seat and start moving which is exactly what this genre expects from you. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to learn every lyric and sing along. If I were to draw comparisons they remind me very much of a slower paced Rise Against and this is huge compliment.

There are hundreds of people in Sheffield sat twiddling their thumbs waiting for something like this to happen and here we have it. It appeared that when MySpace died so did Sheffield’s love of heavier alternative music and I think I could be time for it to make a reappearance and genuinely believe that Drop Dead Angus could be the ones to start things up.

I would really like to see these guys play live – I can only imagine the atmosphere to be incredible.

The digital album can be bought here https://dropdeadangus.bandcamp.com/ for just £5! Can I also just mention how wonderful that artwork is!

Hawthorne Heights at Corporation – review

Hawthorne Heights at Corporation. Photo: Jade Knox

Hawthorne Heights at Corporation. Photo: Jade Knox

It would be a considerable understatement to describe how I felt as ‘excited’, writes Sheffield Live! volunteer Jade Knox, when I heard that this band would be returning to the steel city and performing their astonishing album The Silence in Black and White to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its release.

This experience for me, and presumably most people in the room that night, was wonderfully nostalgic having fallen in love with their music at only thirteen years old.

Hawthorne Heights are a band that spoke to me (and many others) lyrically at a time in most of our lives when we are emotionally astray trying to figure out who it is we are. Many young teens at the time and still today find solace in the rolling chords and bleeding hearts of musicians whose lyrics just seem to ‘make sense’ and speak to you directly.

Naturally, since I had first fallen for this album just under ten years ago my music tastes have grown alongside me, however as soon as these guys started their set it felt as if no time had passed at all.

Lead singer JT Woodruff was the cheeky and charismatic character I had always imagined him to be, commenting that the girls looked good and complimenting the crowd.

It’s always a pleasure to watch a gig in the small room at Corporation for the reason that it is a much more intimate setting. The band also removed the barrier you can often feel when in the presence of somebody you know is (or has once been) a pretty big deal, the gig was so relaxed and this was emphasised further by Woodruff’s invitation to fans to ‘hang out’ with him after the show as he would be just around the back.

It was evident during the gig that Hawthorne Heights have – and still do – mean a great deal to the fans. The room was alive: everyone there was singing their heart out and could join in to each song word perfect.

There is always an element of risk with gigs like this in that there could be an amount of disillusionment when time passes since a band first arrived on the scene or performed their initial material, especially if at one point or another you had held them in such high regard.

Now at twenty-two years old, Hawthorne Heights still pulled on my heartstrings in the same way they had done when I spent hours in my bedroom surrounded by CDs writing down my favourite lyrics. Although slightly more mature aesthetically the band have retained their sound beautifully and I am elated to have seen them live at last.

What next?

Gig review: Cold Summer, Corporation

Jade

Jade

Cold Summer – Corporation Nightclub 18/03/2014

It was an impromptu decision to go and watch my second favourite group from Wakefield (after The Cribs of course) play Sheffield’s wonderful Corporation nightclub, writes music-loving Sheffield Live listener, volunteer and gig correspondent Jade Knox.

The first thing that was in stark contrast to a lot of groups I’ve been watching lately was the showmanship of Dan Feast (lead vocals) who actually jumped off stage to interact directly with his audience and (at the risk of sounding unprofessional) ‘went mental’ dancing and pouring his soul into his performance. When an band or artist truly believes in the sound they are producing it provides a superior experience for everyone involved, just the occasional glance from drummer to bassist and smile from guitarist to singer can make a gig just that little bit more pleasurable to attend.

My one and only grumble about this show was the ever-so-slightly preachy feel that came over me when the lead vocalist gave a small speech on the topic of the music of today, expressing that he felt that none of it was really any good, which is something I completely disagree with.

There are plenty of hardworking non-manufactured DIY bands – not only in Sheffield but all over – that work incredibly hard and sound fantastic, however on the same note I also understand that you do often have to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I did agree with the message that artists and bands should be assessed and judged on a measurement of their talent and sound rather than how they look or decide to dress, but this is a bit of a utopian idea of the music industry – a business where how you look is makes a huge difference.

The band played in Corporation’s smaller room; excellent for a gig like this one which allowed Dan to get right up close and personal. It was an immensely engaging performance and musically the band were above and beyond what I was expecting. The genre they work with is post-hardcore/rock, a genre which I’ve not a lot of experience with, however, it doesn’t take an expert to see just how technically talented this group is.

The set felt a little short and it would have been nice to have heard one or more tracks as after twenty minutes I was quite immersed in the music.

Twitter: @ColdSummerUK

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