Band of the Week: Oh Wonder

British duo Oh Wonder

Who: Oh Wonder

One of the pleasures of going to a festival is the opportunity to see so many different bands in the same place at the same time. In the non-festival world, unless you live in the middle of a big city, going to a gig involves quite a commitment and no little expense. Yes, you’ve laid out quite a bit to get to the festival, but if you’re lucky, by the time it rolls around that pain has receded a little and you can convince yourself this music is basically free!

Latitude 2016 was just getting started, we walked on to the site on that Friday afternoon and ended up at the 6music stage / bloody great circus big top. Oh Wonder hadn’t been on stage long but the crowd had already warmed up and were loving it.

‘Some bloke thrashing away on a guitar in brilliant sunshine doesn’t seem right’.

Scheduling bands on the first day of a festival must be a bit of a tricky proposition. The crowd is a mix of some early arrivers who have spent the night, they’re in the mood and ready to party. But you’ve also got the folk who’ve just arrived after spending a few hours in a traffic jam.

I struggle to get into anything too heavy until the sun is heading towards the horizon. Some bloke thrashing away on a guitar in brilliant sunshine doesn’t seem right. So for me Oh Wonder were ideal. I’m sure their brand of electro-pop is a little lightweight for some. There’s something fresh about the Oh Wonder sound that perfectly suited that Friday afternoon, opening our festival if not ‘the’ festival.

Josephine Vander Gucht of Oh Wonder on stage

When: As I said, Oh Wonder were the first set of this year’s Latitude Festival and for my partner one of her standout moments of the weekend.

What: Oh Wonder, formed in 2014, are duo Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. The couple are based in south London.

As more and more bands clamour for the attention of the internet getting noticed becomes increasingly difficult. Oh Wonder’s solution was to record, edit and release a track each month from the studio at the end of their garden. Starting in September 2014 with Body Gold (below) they were released onto Soundcloud. By the end of those twelve months, their debut self-titled album was written and had garnered them a huge online following.

As you would expect of a self-promoted product of the internet they are everywhere online. In addition to their Soundcloud, you can find Oh Wonder on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

This is that first track uploaded to Spotify back in 2014.


And their latest album sampler. You can listen to the whole album on Soundcloud.


Why: Maybe it’s the full-of-expectation warm memory of that first sunny day at Latitude influencing me, but I don’t think so. There is definitely something in their songwriting to be nurtured. They have an uncanny knack of nailing the musical hook, it draws you in and before you know where you are you’re half way through the album.

Some reviews have commented that the harmonies tend to be a little monotonous. That seems a little harsh, however, I would be interested in hearing them mix it a little.

Where: As I write Oh Wonder are in the midst of a European tour. There are some more UK dates coming up with Festival No.6 in Portmeirion on 3 September, Bestival on Isle of Wight on the 9th and London’s Roundhouse on the 13th. They’re then of on a huge US tour until November. All the dates are here.

Have a great week. Have any new music you’d like to recommend? Hit me up at @nigelrumsey

Sunflower Bean: update

New York band Sunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean previously featured here as a ‘band of the week‘ are going to be touring Europe this autumn.

The New York trio start the UK segment of their tour at the End of the Road festival on September 3rd. They’re also scheduled to visit Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester’s Deaf Acadamy – which hopefully will mean a live set with Mark Riley on 6Music. Then on to Bestival on the Isle of Wight, Bristol and Brighton.

The tour finishes at one of my favourite London venues, the Scala in King’s Cross, on Thursday 15 September. All the details, tickets etc. are on their Facebook page.

Band of the Week: Corner Pilots

Rock band from the UK, Corner Pilots

Who: Corner Pilots

On their website, the Corner Pilots describe themselves as ‘a no-nonsense rock band hailing from Surrey’. A description which makes them sound less than they are. It may be factually correct but it smacks of being a little … suburban and their music certainly isn’t. A no nonsense rock band from New Jersey or Detroit, yes. A no nonsense rock band from London or Manchester, maybe, but Surrey! I guess if you are an aspiring rock band from the leafy suburbs there’s not a lot you can do about it – apart from maybe leave it off of your website.

Rock means so many different things to different people. To Death Metal fans it’s not rock unless your ears are bleeding in the first 30 seconds and it’s so loud it feels like your head has been anaesthetised for at least a day after. This is not that sort of rock, this is the rock of The Enemy, Arctic Monkeys or Royal Blood.

The band comprise Dan Stafford – vocals, guitarists Josh Bennett and Jake France, Ben Mawdsley on bass and drummer Reece O’Brien.

When: There’s not a whole lot of information about the band online, they were formed in 2014, there are a few a tracks on Soundcloud going back just over a year.

What: In an if-you-like-that-you’ll-like-this way the Corner Pilots remind me of Jack White post The White Stripes, which is a very good thing in my book. They write all their own music, which is something I’m thinking of making criteria for entry here.

… this is the rock of The Enemy, Arctic Monkeys or Royal Blood.

The difficulty for a relatively unknown band, doing their thing, trying to get gigs locally is the proliferation of cover bands on the pub circuit. You can understand the attraction if you run a town centre boozer, between major football competitions what better way to pull in the crowds than an Oasis or Beatles cover band knocking out the hits. It doesn’t really matter if they’re not that good, a couple of chords into Wonderwall most of the pub has joined in and you can’t hear the band anyway. So fair play to those pubs who do make the effort to showcase local bands or the likes of Corner Pilots would find it far more difficult to come to the fore.

Why: I need to be better at making a note of how I come across bands, I’m afraid I’m going to have to plead ignorance on this one.

Where: They seem to be gigging around London fairly regularly. They’re playing as part of an Absent Kelly Emerging gig at the O2 Islington on 8 July 2016.

Have a great week. Have any new music you’d like to recommend? Hit me up at @nigelrumsey

Band of the Week: Sunflower Bean

My Band of the Week: Sunflower Bean Photograph: Rebekah Campbell

Who: Sunflower Bean

I’ve thinking this week about how small single events can have so much larger consequences – more of that in a later post – but it ties into how I first came across this week’s Band of the Week, Sunflower Bean.

I looked at that photograph above and thought, as you just have, ‘doesn’t that guy look like a young Bob Dylan’. I appreciate that’s not necessarily what any band wants to hear. Naturally, they want you to fall in love with the music first, I get that, but there it is.

That guy is Nick Kivlen, he sings and plays the guitar with Sunflower Bean who have all the elements I love in a young band:

  • they take the whole thing really seriously.
  • they write all their own material.
  • they used to live together.
  • they’re inspired by an obscure artistic reference – in their case cult surrealist films.
  • and apropos last week’s BOTW, Mirror Gaze, they have a name that’s easy to google.

Sunflower Bean are Jacob Faber (drums), Julia Cumming (vocal, bass) and Nick Kivlen. Faber and Kivlen grew up in the stayed suburban Long Island. They met Cumming, who had previously been a member of Supercute!, in New York sometime in 2013.

A first album should be a little rough around the edges and …… full of ‘we bloody love this’ passion!

When: The Band formed in August 2013, they released an EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets, in October 2015. Shortly after they were invited to tour with the likes of Diiv and The Vaccines. Their first album, Human Ceremony, was released on 5 February this year.

What: It’s easy to be sniffy about a young band’s first album, Human Ceremony was written when the band were all teenagers. It certainly shows their teenage experimentation and ranges through a number of genres, but there’s really nothing wrong with that. Young bands should be experimenting, finding what suits, I don’t want to hear a first album that’s been polished within an inch of its life. A first album should be a little rough around the edges and more importantly full of ‘we bloody love this’ passion!

One of my favourite tracks from the new album is Wall Watcher, it cracks off with a fresh dynamism, the guitar opening pulls you straight in and the mix of vocal from Cumming and Kivlen work well together.

Why: Basically it’s the Dylan thing, I’m not proud, but there it is. Having said that, it was the music that pulled me in. I’m certainly glad I stumbled upon them. They are a band to watch.

Where: They’re currently on a US tour. June seems them in Texas and California, followed by NYC, Chicago and Denver. In August, they come to the UK, including my local venue to shoot, the Scala. I’ll see if I can catch them there. All the dates are here.

Have a great week. Have any new music you’d like to recommend? Hit me up on @nigelrumsey.

Band of the Week: Mirror Gaze

an audio tape of Watch by Mirror Gaze

Who: Mirror Gaze

It’s only week two and already ‘Band of the Week’ has gone slightly awry. The plan had been to buy that tape, the one up there in the photo. To gripe a bit about how tapes were inexplicably becoming popular again, to grab the associated download then to give the tape away to anyone who has something to play it on.

However, the problem, actually the first of several problems, is that I was so dismissive of the whole tape thing I’d assumed they couldn’t possibly sell out – got that wrong. Gone, every last one!

Next, the name ‘Mirror Gaze’, great in theory, in practice you try googling mirror gaze. What you get is lots of people talking about staring at themselves in the mirror – honestly, try it, apparently it’s a thing. So, if you’re desperately trying to find information on a band of the same name, you’re out of luck. The album name ‘Watch’ doesn’t really help in this context! Not quite as bad as calling your band ‘video porn’ – but not much better (please don’t test that if you’re under 16)!

So here’s what we do know. I’m recommending a band I haven’t been able to find online, who’ve made one album I haven’t yet heard and has now been completely withdrawn from sale. It’s so withdrawn from sale when you click on the link that says ‘Email me when this tape is back in stock’ you get an error message – basically saying ‘there is no hope!’.

I understand this is now feeling like a ‘Band of the Week’ that has no band and no music!

To the rescue comes music-geek-nirvana in the shape of Soundcloud. (Would Nirvana have chosen the same name in the age of the web? – discuss)  There are these three tracks, the only three I’ve heard and the reason I’m recommending Mirror Gaze to you.

When: I came across them last month from on one of Norman Records excellent newsletters, if you’re not subscribed you should be.

What: I did have some success online. I found that Mirror Gaze are a duo consisting of Claire Bailey and Jim Knight. What I didn’t know before I started writing this is that Claire Bailey is an analog photographer and artist, you can see some of here work on her website.

Why: Mirror Gaze are an unexpected mix of psychedelic rock and pop vocal, although when you listen to the vocal it’s darker than you first imagine. I have to admit it’s Claire Bailey’s vocal that does it for me.

My favourite track is probably ‘You don’t know’, the first track above and also the first on the on the album. Having said that it’s the vocal that draws me in if you’re a fan of the bass guitar then you’re not going to be disappointed, Jim Knight knows what he’s doing. The guitar solo on the end of ‘Connection’ is masterful.

Where: Don’t ask me. I will update this if I hear more or if the tape is reissued. If you have more information about Mirror Gaze please get in touch. Happy listening.

Band of the Week: She Drew The Gun

The band 'she drew the gun' in the studio.

Who: She Drew The Gun

She Drew The Gun used to be not a band but an individual in the shape of lead singer Louisa Roach. They describe their music as “dreamy lyrical psych-pop from the banks of the Mersey”, and that does fairly accurately sum it up. Roach’s voice is constantly reminding me of someone else, in that ‘it’s on the tip of your tongue’ way. That’s not to take anything away from it, far from it, I really enjoy the vocal and have often found myself drifting away when listening to it.

When: Louisa Roach started playing as She Drew The Gun in 2013, the band have gradually formed since. Now a four piece band featuring Sian Monaghan on drums, Jack Turner on Guitar and Jenni Kickhefer on keyboard.

What: ‘Memories of the Future’ their first album was released at the end of April 2016. The album is available in all the usual places, noticeably, though, not on their website. That just seems such a lost opportunity for a band, not to get a larger chunk of the revenue and collect their fans email addresses at the same time! I generally try to buy direct from the band if I can. Maybe I’m being naive to assume the band see more of the cash, I’ll try to find out of that’s actually the case.

“dreamy lyrical psych-pop from the banks of the Mersey”

The two tracks I’ve included from Soundcloud (below) are the first two on the album. ‘Since you were not mine’ has been on Soundcloud in, what sounds like, its final form for over a year. In spite of that fact, Memories of the Future feels very much like an album, more than a collection of 11 songs gathered together to make a band’s first album. The laid back vibe is equally at home first thing in the morning (I’m listening at 7.30m as I write this) or late in the evening.

Listen to the beautiful ‘Poem’ it reveals a welcome honest analysis of Britain in 2016. Whether you agree with the politics, or not, it can only be a good thing that we have artists prepared to stand up for what they believe in.

“And now the markets are demanding that we give away for free
everything that our grandparents fought for to some company
It’s called wealth creation, yeah, it’s more efficient you see
Well sorry I forgot the free market would set us free
I forgot to only think about I am and me
while brothers and sisters have nothing to eat
brothers and sisters, at home and overseas
So I can’t lie down and I won’t let it be
While we are working for a market that doesn’t work for we”

Why: I started listening in 2015 as a result, I think, of their being featured on the BBC introducing show from Maida Vale. SDTG have been alternating in my favours this week with the latest album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ from Radiohead, so no small achievement.

Where: They have a number of UK dates lined up over the summer, you can see more here.

Band of the Week

My notebook & pen while writing my Band of the Week post

I’m increasingly enjoying the process of blogging. There’s something about the act of sitting alone with my notebook and pen that’s very freeing. As someone who’s generally smitten with the digital age, it’s come as a bit of a shock to find that I just can’t manage to write on a laptop – I need a pen in my hand. It could be because I’m not the fastest typist, I can certainly write quicker than I can type, but whatever the reason it just doesn’t flow so easily from the keyboard.

There’s nothing a music geek likes more than trying to persuade someone else to listen to the new band they’ve discovered.

My laptop wile writing Band of the Week post

Just as I’d begun to enjoy the process I came up against what I assume every blogger must at some point, what exactly should I write about? My photography is always going to be at the core of what I talk about here. Trust me you don’t want regular missives from my subconscious.

Sooo, I have been listening to a lot of new music recently and I’d love to share some of it. There’s nothing a music geek likes more than trying to persuade someone else to listen to the new band they’ve discovered. Bear in mind this is a middle aged bloke talking so quite how ‘new’ this music proves to be may be open to debate – but most of it will be new to me.

I finally understand John Peel eulogising over music made by bands 30 years his junior.

I remember the excitement as a teenager in discovering a new band – even if it was via BBC Radio One, so technically half the teenagers in the UK were ‘discovering’ the same band at that exact same moment. Well, the news is that feeling can be just as captivating, different, but still captivating as you get older. I finally understand John Peel eulogising over music made by bands 30 years his junior.

All this leads me to say I’m going to commit (to attempt – just covering myself) to write about one band each week. I’ve decided to snappily call this new feature ‘Band of the Week’ – impressive huh, I’ve been working on that a while! The bands may not always be on the bleeding edge of cool, but it will be what I’m enjoying at the time. I’m aiming to get the first post up next week, so keep an eye out (or you could subscribe – it’s over there on the right).

I also really like the idea of featuring guest posts, hearing what you’re listening to, so if you’re interested please get in touch.

In the meantime keep enjoying the new.