Tigress, O2 Academy2, London 8th June

It’s extremely unusual for a band to take a look at themselves and say that it isn’t working, or that the music doesn’t reflect the direction they want to go in and then totally re-invent themselves with a new name and musical style but with the same personnel. Especially when, in their previous incarnation, they enjoyed moderate success including releasing a couple of albums and some big festival appearances. But change Tigress have done, moving from a pop-punk sound as The Hype Theory to an altogether alt-rock vibe and are now surely about to hit the heights that they so richly deserve

Tonight, Tigress are playing the opening show of their debut headline tour to a London audience that lead vocalist Katy Jackson admits are tough to please. Especially as the band accept they will have lost some fans with their new direction and are almost having to start again. But they needn’t have worried as there’s a good crowd inside the venue, considering it is a Wednesday evening. Not sold-out by any means but packed enough to ensure a suitably sweaty atmosphere. The music tonight is full on alt-rock, at times bludgeoning the crowd with heavy guitar riffs but through it all, Katy’s vocals draw the crowd in, keeping all the room’s attention fully on the stage. It’s clear to see why she is an accomplished vocal coach with her students appearing on both The Voice and The X Factor. All the tracks from the Human EP are played tonight, with each getting an ever more enthusiastic response. At the front of the stage, Katy has a presence that belies her years, Sean & Tom are exceptional guitarists and very ably accompanied by Jack on bass. Josh’s drumming holds everything together, none more so than on second song ‘Miracle’. The band have put together a brilliant setlist for this tour, an inspired mix between the “slower” songs off the EP and the full-on rock-out tunes. Towards the end of their all-too-short set, the band treat the, by now pretty sweaty audience, to the new song ‘Shockwave’ which hasn’t been heard outside of the studio until now. And if this song is indicative of their new musical direction, the future for them is incredibly bright! New single ‘Power Lines’ also gets an airing and is one of those rare breed of songs that sound even better live with a dose of attitude. Brilliant!

It’s easy to compare new(ish) bands with other, more established musicians and it seems just about every female-fronted rock band is compared with Paramore. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being likened to Hayley et al, after all, they’re pioneers of the genre and indeed, Katy welcomes such comparisons but for me, on songs like ‘Future’ and set-closer ‘Alive’, they sound like a more polished Tonight Alive or Against The Current. Just don’t compare Katy to Avril Lavigne. Trust me, she doesn’t like that comparison…..!

Advertisements

Daydream Frenzy – ‘Ocean Air’ EP Review

ocean-air-artwork

 

Many musicians aspire to be the “Next Big Thing” from their region. But when your region has produced two of the most successful artists Britain has ever produced, you know you have to be pretty special to emulate them. And, for those outside Aberdeen who haven’t heard of Daydream Frenzy, these guys are pretty special. Following on from their debut album release last year, this 5-track EP must surely bring the guys to the attention of the rest of the nation. Both lyrically and musically, the 3 new tracks on ‘Ocean Air’, are sublime. The other 2 tracks are re-workings which offer alternative takes on the originals and are worthy inclusions on the EP. Lead singer Donald is quoted as saying the band “wanted to make something a bit different” and that this is “the most diverse music we have ever made”. He’s right on both counts….

Opening with new single ‘Shout’, there’s a great low-key beginning, just Donald’s vocal and a haunting minimal guitar accompaniment before the drums very gradually kick in before it raises the tempo and becomes a great rock song about a minute in. Very reminiscent of Coldplay, where the song veers between low-key, almost acoustic, verses and a banging chorus with a fist-pumping uptempo ending. Not far off from being the perfect rock song. Next up, ‘On My Own’ has a similar low-key/uptempo mix but in a more traditional slow-start, fast-ending way. The first half reminded me of bands like Fountains Of Wayne or perhaps Bowling For Soup, where the lyrics are the focal point to begin with but then the guitars and drums take centre stage for the ending. It’s never going to start a mosh pit but it will hold a live audience’s attention. Now, if you want a mosh pit starting, you head for track 3 – ‘Good Morning’. A good old-fashioned, Pop-Punk ,anthemic blast. Think Simple Plan, Sum 41, Blink-182 and you’re probably about there. Everything about this song is awesome – the gritty, earthy vocals, drums that could make eardrums bleed and a brilliant guitar/drum combo in the middle.  Oh, and a great “F-you” attitude throughout…”I’m sick of the big man/telling me we’re doing wrong”. The EP ends with the 2 re-worked tracks, the first being an acoustic version of ‘Shout’. Now, I’m generally not a fan of acoustic versions of songs – it’s too easy to compare them with the original. But, this is an amazing exception as it almost sounds like a completely different song. This showcases just how versatile Donald’s voice is, and how it can perfectly encompass numerous styles and tempos. Absolutely beautiful. Final track is the Fonik Remix of ‘Pride & Wonder’ from their previous album of the same name. Similar in style to the original, this veers from alt-rock to almost electro-pop. This is genuinely brave as it could so easily have sounded like a One Direction cast-off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as good as the original, there are sections that sound over-produced with too many layers that sound confusing. It just about works – but that’s mainly due, again, to the vocals and the strength of the original version. It may open the band to a new market or convince new fans to check out the debut album and for that alone, it’s an experiment worth undertaking but it certainly doesn’t reach the heights of the 4 tracks before it, if only because they are just so darn good!

‘Ocean Air’ is available now from here. Follow Daydream Frenzy on Facebook and Twitter

Steve Young – ‘Troubadour’ Album Review

CjDZDYZXAAAoNdD

“Been there, done that” is an oft-overused phrase these days. But it pretty adequately describes Steve Young, a rising star in the UK country music scene. To be fair, if he’d “bought the T-shirt” as well, he’d have a wardrobe full by now – session guitarist, touring guitarist (including for Lionel Richie, no less), co-writer and now, singer-songwriter in his own right. His live appearances cover the spectrum from Country Music festivals, World Music festivals, the Edinburgh Fringe, rising stars showcases, acoustic shows and support slots for blues singers, for country singers and even for West End Musical singers  If his musical history is varied, his musical style is even more so. The fact that Steve is considered to be a Country artist is actually doing him a disservice. His music ranges from acoustic through pop, a touch of rock, folk and blues (quite often all in the same song!) with the country/Americana all the while in the background. And that’s not even mentioning his lyrics. There’s barely a song on ‘Troubadour’ that doesn’t have a heartfelt, meaningful lyric that will resonate with the listener. To be honest, there’s barely a verse on the album that doesn’t have a meaningful lyric!

Steve sets the bar high with opener ‘Out Of Our Minds’ with a great introduction which combines guitar and harmonica to brilliant effect, before diving headfirst into a great country/rock-type harmony which is very reminiscent of the Eagles. The vocals are exceptional, the guitars exquisite and it’s all held together perfectly by the minimal drums. Definitely one of the strongest tracks on the albums. Next up is ‘In My Dreams’ which is a more pop-type song. It has a furiously infectious chorus which stays in the head long after the song has finished! Recent single ‘Back To Mine’ is, for me, the highlight of the album. It’s well-crafted, has a storyline that is almost a prerequisite of the great country songs and the combination of lyrics and Steve’s vocals just draw you in. I genuinely can’t find a weak point within this song – it covers all the genres amazingly well. It shouldn’t work but it does!

It’s easy for some artists to somewhat over-produce a song, to add too many layers to it and then lose the listener in the confusing result. Thankfully, Steve has resisted any temptation to do that on ‘Nurture’. Stripped back with beautiful contrasting backing vocals and again, the lyrics are just amazing. Think of an updated Glen Campbell. The next couple of tracks sees Steve’s wonderful voice take centre stage within 2 different styles, with ‘Old Friend’ set within a folk/blues-type style, and ‘Life Changes In A Heartbeat’ in a completely acoustic track. Both are good individually, but work even better when followed by the upbeat ‘Home For The Summer’ which goes goes to a more country/pop feel, and ‘Truth In Life’ which is unashamedly country. A sublime microcosm of Steve’s range and ability. For an artist to be so versatile is a very rare feat indeed. A couple of great tracks round off the album, again covering a range of styles. ‘Norwegian Girl’ is a great story-telling song, probably the most ‘folk’ song on the album and ‘Sweet Mary’ ticks the ‘alt-country’ box to great effect.

All in all, a very accomplished debut album and one that’s worth repeated listens. There’s clearly a wide range of influences and I think Steve does a fine job of modernising some of the great singer-songwriters, whilst still keeping his own sound.  Unusually, there are very few negatives about this album, the production is solid throughout, the melodies and harmonies work very well together and the vocals (and lyrics), as mentioned previously, are exceptional. Certainly an artist to keep an eye on for the future

Follow Steve on Facebook, Twitter & his website