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Ruu Campbell Releases Debut Solo Album, Heartsong

From a major label deal with Dreamworks at 15, to two years work with Leftfield, a spell with trance outfit Younger Brother, collaborations with British jazz and electronic collective the Cinematic Orchestra and now his debut solo album, Ruu Campbell has crossed the genre-boundary repeatedly in his fledgling career.

Infused with his natural warmth and spirit, his debut solo record is one that will be loved by any devotee of the bucolic charms of Nick Drake and John Martyn. Already  three tracks from it — The Call, Crossroads and Mathereal — have been featured in NBC’s smash hit series Parenthood while others have been employed for shows on MTV and ABC. The recently completed movie Barking At Trees starring leading British actors Jessica Hynes, Tom Payne and Tommy Flanagan also features The Call.

Ruu Campbell

Ruu Campbell

One day, back when Ruu Campbell was still a reluctant city dweller, his house got robbed. For many, it would have been a moment of physical and emotional trauma. But for Ruu, in the wider scheme of things, all was well. They didn’t steal his guitars.

Such is the unswerving spirit of this captivating English singer-songwriter that as long as he can keep his music and the people he loves close to him, that’s all he needs. Especially since that break-in was one of the catalysts for Campbell and his family to leave the city for the pastoral inspiration of the West country. The result is the album Heartsong and it’s guaranteed to be one of this year’s most delightful acoustic pleasures.

Respected for a varied background that includes his vocal collaborations with Leftfield, a major label adventure and writing and performing with the electronic band Younger Brother, Campbell has reinhabited his acoustic roots to make the album that has always been inside him.

Infused with his natural warmth and spirit and with its gorgeously deft use of guitars, flute, cellos and violins, Heartsong is a record that will be loved by any devotee of the bucolic charms of Nick Drake and John Martyn but with Campbell’s stamp gently embossed on every elegantly-crafted track.

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Kongos Release Their Debut Album, Lunatic, Next Month

Currently cutting a swathe through the USA, Kongos release their debut album Lunatic in the UK on September 11 via Epic Records. Already a huge – and critically acclaimed – hit in North America and South Africa, Lunatic is a dramatic, exciting and vital collection of songs that showcases these four brothers’ gift for beautiful songwriting, soulful grit and sheer rock power.

With Greek blood in their veins, a childhood spent in Britain and South Africa and their family home now located in Phoenix, Arizona, Dylan, Danny, Jesse and Johnny Kongos are the sons of legendary British singer-songwriter John Kongos, most famous for his 1971 Top 10 single, He’s Gonna Step On You Again, which Happy Mondays covered for their 1990 hit Step On.

Kongos

Kongos

The multi-instrumentalist brothers bring an eclectic melting pot of influences to their musical stew. Raw guitar rock, tribal rhythms, Balkan beats, electronic flourishes, reggae tinges, folk-driven accordions, Southern blues and alternating levels of twisted darkness and gentle melodies call to mind the varied sounds of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Killers, Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire, QOTSA, Crowded House, Paul Simon, Kings Of Leon and Radiohead.

The likes of I’m Only Joking, an ominous, brooding stomp full of strange chants and hypnotic rhythms, Hey I Don’t Know with its epic, stomping, electrifying chorus and Kids These Days, full of riff-based drama and arch vocals, demonstrate the passionate rock edge that Kongos possess, leading them to be guests on Kings Of Leon’s mammoth Mechanical Bull US tour this summer.

But elsewhere Kongos flex their musical muscles in unexpected ways. As We Are is a gentle, accordion-based love song full of space and beauty, Travelling On features a delicate acoustic guitar and Neil Finn-esque vocals, It’s A Good Life boasts unusual, South African rhythms and This Time I Won’t Forget is reflective and dreamy with a strident, harmonious chorus.

Sex On The Radio, I Want To Know and Take Me Back all possess striking melodies, thought-provoking lyrics and huge, bold choruses guaranteed to stick around your head for days, demonstrating the band’s knack for writing classic pop songs.

However it’s the growling roar of Come With Me Now which has really exploded for the band. Having spent five consecutive weeks at Number One on the Billboard Alternative Chart in America (and beating Lorde’s Royals in the process to become the fastest-ever ascent to Number One by a debut artist in US chart history) it’s now crossed over to the Hot 100 and is fast-becoming a ubiquitous summer anthem from the Pacific to Atlantic coasts.

Soon to be released in the UK as the band’s debut single (following I’m Only Joking which is currently available free via iTunes and picking up UK radio spins on Radio 1, XFM and Bauer stations), Come With Me Now heralds Kongos as a global force to be reckoned with.

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Tall Ships Announce Tour Dates

Brighton via Falmouth four piece Tall Ships have just announced details of four opportunities to see them play new material in an intimate setting.

Currently writing and demoing new material for the follow up to their debut album Everything Touching, these shows will be the only chance for fans to hear new material before the band disappear into the studio.

Tall Ships tour dates are below:

8 Oct Soup Kitchen ~ MANCHESTER
9 Oct The Christmas Steps ~ BRISTOL
10 Oct The Old Blue Last  ~ LONDON
11 Oct Prince Albert  ~ BRIGHTON

Tickets to all dates: http://wearetallships.co.uk/

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Suzerain Return With New Double A Side Single, Dark Dark/Manhatten

London based five-piece Suzerain recently released their double A-Side single Dark, Dark/Manhattan digitally and will release the single on 12” vinyl in September via Brainzone. It was produced by double Grammy Award winner Steve Lyon.

The long awaited follow up to their 2011 debut album Midnight In The Drawn City and the 2012 A Mirror Now EP, Suzerain return with a darker more industrial sounding double header of a single, taking inspiration from the likes of Depeche Mode, NIN & Berlin era Bowie. Dark, Dark is politically heavy with fantastic lyrics of anarchy cast against images of world leaders like George W Bush and David Cameron. It highlights the issues with society, “See the sex shine kids with their pop, pop art/Do you feel alright/Do you feel real smart/Do you breath breath deep/Do you shatter shatter apart/I’ll be your living end/I’m just a super clown/’Cause I got what I wanted/There is no way out/And I’m not buying in/And I’m not selling out”. It’s a song that can open your eyes, if you let it. We’re the clowns. Clowns to the governments, to conformity and security. The video is a simple affair – political imagery flashes through the words portrayed. The words are not always the lyrics to the songs but words, quotes and phrases linked to the idea of bureaucracy, control and power and what we constantly fight against in order to live peaceful lives, “War/Paint/Tribal/Colours/Know your rights/Hold on tight/Don’t let go…”

With a remoulded and refocused sound from their debut, the band are currently putting the finishing touches to their second album. Pushing themselves to the limits of perfection and inspired to stretch musical boundaries, the album will arrive in early 2015.

Suzerain are: Thomas Pether (vocals) Rich Summers (guitar) Mike Smith (bass guitar) Matt Constantine (keyboards & cello) Ben Howe (drums).

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The Lost Cavalry – Three Cheers For The Undertaker Album Review

The Lost Cavalry move to establish themselves in the Indie Folk scene with their new album, Three Cheers For The Undertaker. The album was released on the 16 September by Folkroom Records. Upon listening to the album, it is clear that this six piece alternative folk collective from London is something to shout about.

The band itself was founded by former Fanfarlo guitarist Mark West. West, on the brink of touring America in 2009, decided to step away from Fanfarlo and start something new. West bought his influence over to The Lost Cavalry which is evident when you listen to the Fanfarlo record Reservoir prior to sampling West’s new material. However, that is not to say that The Lost Cavalry sounds like an extension of Fanfarlo. West’s new fellow band members Toby Atkins (guitar, vocals), Nick Goold (guitar), Oliver Whitehead (bass), Jonny Tansey (drums) and Derek Yau (melodica) bring energy and depth which nudges the band to a unique sound. The new album, Three Cheers For The Undertaker, is woven with beautifully structured progression and strong harmonies reminiscent of, if not a little more relaxed, early Beirut.

The Lost Cavalry Three Cheers For The Undertaker

The Lost Cavalry album artwork for Three Cheers For The Undertaker

The first track Secret Steps opens the album with strong, clear vocals, the canter of a steady snare and the accompaniment of an almost dreamy chorus. The album starts of as it means to go on; energetic, rich and with a varied instrumental accompaniment. Every chorus is broken up with a layer of, almost solitary, vocals which is then united by a blast of instrumental expression.

Snow City Radio also continues the theme and the pace of the album with a perfect balance between isolating layers of vocals and a ‘full speed ahead’ support of instrumental accessory. Stars Are Ripe slips in seamlessly next. At this point it is easy to appreciate just how well crafted the start of the album is, developing from an energetic opening towards a pace that is attainable throughout. The lyrics towards the end of Stars Are Ripe seem to indicate the direction of the rest of the album, “I’m on my way/Hey/I’m on my way/My way home”. This leads into a steady paced Stare Out To Sea which feels exactly like the title suggests; consistent, calm and relaxing.

Three Cheers For The Undertaker continues this theme of sporadic energetic bursts hand in hand with steady, gentle melodies. This is displayed magically with the eerie finish to Only Forward followed directly with the uplifting and familiar Desert Tracks.

Three Cheers For The Undertaker ends with the track Mono. This conclusion to the album seems light years away from how the album started but with such a varied album, it is no surprise. Certain tracks seem to paint a clear night sky (Last Stand) while others seem to stimulate limbs into fast paced movement (Desert Tracks). Overall the audience can reflect on the journey they have been on – an exhausting, busy but structured and fun trip through the wonders of the album.

The debut album by The Lost Cavalry has made a statement of intent. This six piece are ready to make great music. This year alone has been a busy one for them and if they continue to produce music like this album then the band will continue to pack out their diaries. When looking at the horizon of the folk music scene, only one thing springs to mind . . . ‘Here comes The Cavalry’.

By Luke Bennett.

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