As the warmth of Spring finally arrives Cambridge rockers Shyer release the ideal track for a relaxing evening of music; a punchy but laid-back three minutes which in their words is ‘..about seeing through the facade to what’s really there. Even when it’s not pretty….’. The recording is accompanied by a performance video on YouTube and some striking cover artwork! (see below).
Starting with an inviting guitar chord sequence the voice kicks in with some of the lyrical ambiguity that vocalist Amanda George is so adept at delivering, tempered by infectious ‘…uh-oh’s…’. The song reaches an irresistible chorus, where the barbs of ‘…I may be a liar, I’m inclined to forget, but tell me does this bruise your confidence…?’ float over an onslaught of perfectly tempered guitar fuzz, fighting against the dynamics of the bass and drums.
As in all the best songs the middle-eight takes the song in a different direction rhythmically and musically and on this occasion does not lead back into the chorus or any thematic resolution, instead leaving the emotional conclusion of the repeated ‘…I never asked for this…’ ominously hanging in the air.
I recently saw Shyer as first act on stage in a triple header of Cambridge favourites at popular rocking venue The Cornerhouse (with The Scissors and Bouquet Of Dead Crows) and was treated to a blistering set which showcased this fine song.
Refreshingly new and making an impact on the Cambridge scene, Carolyn’s Fingers (named after a song by the Cocteau Twins) are bringing their original music to life in live performance and now on this sparkling first single release.
‘Her Howl’ is a hypnotic, ethereal journey of the mind, painting an intense, personal picture through words and music of the nature of depression and dark thoughts. The four minutes include so many sections falling into each other; it is as if there are several songs overlapping and one of the great strengths of the piece – there is no room for complacency or background listening here. The audience is drawn in to become part of the band’s private meditation.
Sparse keyboard and subtly programmed percussive glitches weave their way between echoing electric guitar and minimalist bass foundations as the multi-voice layers finally resolve into an a cappella style chorus which disturbingly drifts away taking you with it.
Play their other intricate tracks on SoundCloud, watch their YouTube channel and better still, catch them in live action at the Portland Arms in Cambridge on 18th April…
As a prelude to his much-anticipated second long-player ‘The Last One’ Gavin Chappell-Bates releases this philosophical concoction inspired by French savant Jean-Paul Sartre and his reflections on how a person should aspire to authenticity and make free choices. Despite JP’s intellect I’m sure that while smoking his pipe in the salons of Paris that even he could not have predicted this satisfying combination of challenging lyric and punchy indie-rock.
Although Gavin could probably multi-track and loop the other instruments himself he has chosen to feature two of Cambridge’s top performers and session players, Neil Bruce of Bouquet Of Dead Crows on guitar and Fred’s House drummer Paul Richards (who has just launched a new drumming film project, see link below). The spiky words and edgy music encourage the listener to reflect on the profound issues carefully, or just dance along anyway.
The accompanying video consists of graphic interpretations of the lyric, no personal appearance this time, before bombarding us with the big question: ‘…bad faith, good faith, decide, this is your life…’. Deep stuff indeed, but ridiculously catchy too.
With this song and the previous single Gavin is enigmatically trailing the forthcoming album, hopefully due early 2018?
The historic town of St. Ives is sometimes in the musical shadow of its close neighbour Cambridge but there is much talent and creativity to be found there. Rockers Hollowstar and multi-faceted soloist Gavin Chappell-Bates spring to mind; now relative newcomers False Hearts stamp their mark with this superb hard-hitting single. This four piece band features twin guitars, bass and drums and recently scored the rare accolade of being the unshakeable favourites for 20 weeks on the New Music Generator unsigned chart, seeing off any Cambridge opposition effortlessly with their last release ‘Dream On’.
An exuberant local DJ described this track with the evocative lines ‘It’s an absolute screamer….it blew my ears off’. I see where he is coming from, the production and mix on this song is spectacular, it even sounds loud if you play it quiet.
The guitar and percussion introduction quickly gives way to full-on noise wall then vocalist Emma Hodgson delivers a powerful vocal with the twisted hook line ‘I despise you….but I love you’, a reflection of the ambiguity of the lyric overall. With no time for flamboyant solos it is belting guitars and pulsing beat all through; pure thunder and lightning for 2 minutes 50 seconds…
A cracking new two-headed single package from Cambridge trio Goldblume. Opening track ‘Fawning ‘ is a no holds barred rocker but becomes a bit of a mini-suite of varied movements included in the five minute running time, which is impressive given the theoretical limitations of guitar, bass and drums.
Singer/guitarist Jethro is at his confident best, from the edgy stop-start lines of the introduction, taking its time before the vocal works its way in. He sounds almost as if the story in the lyric is slipping away from him (…’you can do anything, look at your perfect skin’…) and the music undergoes a controlled disintegration too. The bass gets chance to shine, I greatly enjoy that sharp cutting deep sound they have achieved in the studio.
The accompanying track ‘Tomorrow’ is fully acoustic; a relentless climbing chord progression underpinning an impassioned vocal plea. The drums are held in check, just contributing some brushwork but the bass again is crucial to the mix.
The pastoral cover art shows a cat in an ethereal woodland glade meeting a fawn from the title track, though perhaps that fawn represents the white hart of legend, the harbinger of doom indicating that a terrible evil or judgement was imminent; this music does have its darker side…
The debut single from new Cambridge band Shyer is a summery concoction about the effects of a new relationship.
The lyric of ‘Hideout’ is a mosaic of references to perceptions all going a bit addled with some neat phrases threading through ‘….All the electrical output…the sudden surge of excitement and I’m charged for days…’ and my favourite ‘…. it’s like the sun’s under my skin ….’.. All assuredly sung by wordsmith Amanda George. The Marr to her Morrissey is guitarist/composer supremo Zak Tysoe, in this song he is always playing something interesting in jangly or full-on rock mode. Firm foundations are provided by the rhythm section of Chris How and Damiano Porcelli – and they are given their chance to shine in the middle eight section.
This is a classy and lovingly crafted single, with so much going on in one track you wonder if they have any more to offer, but don’t worry, the follow-up single ‘Bad Company’, a more rocky piece is finished (complete with ominous chord sequence and angry guitar but another catchy chorus line) and waiting to be formally released in a few weeks.
And there is plenty more to come; I recently saw them play outdoors as the sun went down (see picture below…) over the picturesque Three Tuns Beer Festival outside Cambridge, where they delivered a sparkling twelve song set of upbeat originals to an appreciative audience.
The band’s memorable name reflects the conflict that is common in many performers between the urge to reach out with their creativity balanced against lack of confidence and shyness during the process.
Look out for this energetic four-piece, they are developing as a force to be reckoned with on the Cambridge scene.
In the movies we had Vincent Price, Charlton Heston, Will Smith….and now Gavin Chappell-Bates will empathise with being the last person alive on Earth on his much-anticipated second album ‘The Last One’, due out later this year. As a precursor to that we have ‘Lovely Day’, an acoustic guitar-driven romp that is presumably an early track on the album, full of exuberance lyrically and musically, before the ‘end of the world’ scenario kicks in.
A folk-rocky vibe from the backing band glides along nicely underneath while a multi-voiced and blissfully unaware Gavin projects endless optimism about what is to come, with a nice mellow middle eight too. Recorded with an as-live production, the mix is spot-on.
I always enjoy his videos; this one is filmed at Cambridge tree-filled beauty spot Wandlebury and features some of Gavin’s musical comrades portraying woodland animals. It is all satisfyingly bonkers and reminiscent of those late 1960s promo films for the psychedelic leanings of Pink Floyd’s ‘Arnold Layne’ and mid-period Beatles, with lots of speeded-up movement and quick jump-cuts, what’s not to like?
(admire the beautiful original artwork on the sleeve too, drawn by Ali Chappell-Bates…)