EP REVIEW: House Of Hats “Rivers Will Run”

Four friends – Noddy, Alex, James and Rob – had all experienced success in the music scene on their own, but decided in 2011 that if they all clubbed together and shared their experiences and skills they would be able to raise the bar to new proportions. They wasted little time in releasing their eponymous debut EP, which was received to critical acclaim and bought the troupe the chance to tour. So it is, that just a year or so after forming, House Of Hats are ready to unleash EP number 2 – “Rivers Will Run”.

Opening with the country tinged title track, “Rivers Will Run”, it appears that House Of Hats are about to turn their heel on the serene male/female battle that has defined their sound to date. The romping “Rivers Will Run” is so far beyond a toe-tapper that its opening suggests. A riotous stomp, “Rivers Will Run” may not be terrain commonly trodden by House Of Hats, but this foray warrants a revisit. “Rivers Will Run” is what would happen if The Chapman Family met Phantom Limb and Willie Nelson.

As “Rivers Will Run” storms into the distance, House Of Hats return to the soothing male/female folk bliss that is their signature. This is far from a bad thing. While “Gold” uplifts, “Never Lost” wonders, it is the luscious “Home Is Where The Heart Is” that gets the spine tingling.

“Rivers Will Run” proves that House of Hats were not made to fit a mould. Whatever shape or direction they decide to take, they do so expertly. “Rivers Will Run” may only clock in at four tracks long, but it is easily one of the finest records of 2012. If this is the journey House of Hats can create over four songs, just imagine what they will be able to do on their first full length…

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Summer Sundae, Leicester

Summer Sundae is a The Kaje favourite. A city festival which is so far removed from the city. Just a stone’s throw from Leicester city centre, Victoria Park is transported for one weekend a year to a world of artistic wonder. With performers including Adam
Ant, Katy B, Ocean Colour Scene and Patrick Wolf on the line-up, 2012 was full of early promise.

However, the Katy B headlined Friday night failed to live up to expectations. With a distinctly small audience wandering between four performance spaces, it was difficult for any real buzz to be created. While Bastille packed out a sweaty Watering Hole, Patrick Wolf mourned diminished audiences in Crocodile’s Lagoon for his tender acoustic set. For her part, Katy B pulled in the punters and had all ages bouncing to her euphoric pop-dub.

Thankfully the sun shone on Saturday and the audience arrived in droves. With a spring in everyone’s step, Victoria Park was abuzz. Hotly tipped girl rockers Savages brought a touch of Juliette Lewis inspires glamour to the day, while the lush Lucy Rose won hearts with her wistful woes. Birmingham’s Goodnight Lenin’s Stornoway-esque folk captured hearts, while Adam Ant made everyone ‘Stand Up and Deliver’ with a riotous set. Ocean Colour Scene were worthy headliners, though the stand out performances of the day came from the enchanting Agnes Obel and addictive Lianne La Havas.

Sunday saw rain but few were deterred. Appearing far too early in the line-up were Leicester’s finest Midnight Wire, who out in a set so fresh and energetic that memories of early Arctic Monkeys were provoked. Equally exciting are Norway’s Team Me who whip the main stage into a frenzy. Beth Rowley and Juan Zelada both inject a little blues into the day, but it is Sheffield’s Hey Sholay that steal the crown with an unforgettable romp.

As ever Summer Sundae does not disappoint. An eclectic line up celebrates an array of artists and caters to all tastes. While there were a handful of lowlights, notably the over-hyped Friends and frantic Japandroids, here at The Kaje we say roll on 2013-though next time have La Havas headline!

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Mark Chalmers
Photographer: Jeremy Williams

LIVE REVIEW: Young Peculiar, The Hop (Sheffield), 15.08.2012

Sheffield five-piece Young Peculiar have a lot to celebrate. Having formed at the start of 2011, the quintet have successfully built a local loyal following, who have turned up to their debut EP launch gig with a feverish anticipation. The atmosphere is one of excited support, a feeling that clearly rubs off on the more than competent musicians as they take to the stage. Fronted by the ever self-deprecating, but instantly lovable Bernadette Dales, the troupe launch into the rousing “One”, which is met with whoops and warmth.

Dales is on supreme form. Her rich folk-driven vocal soars through the playful and introspective. With the set veering towards the upbeat, her cohorts Michael Hukins, Chris Boswell, Laura Yie and Martin Bullock are also given plenty of time to shine by the far from selfish vocalist.

A spine-tingling rendition of the sublime “Way With Words” demonstrates Dales vocal prowess, while the tease of “Chemical Comedienne” sees Young Peculiar romp up a stomp. As ever the troupe throw in a handful on colourful covers, opting for a sultry “Maneater” and truly triumphant “Thong Song”.

Young Peculiar are easily one of Sheffield’s finest upcoming acts. The powerful vocal presence of Dales is enticing enough, but when supported by some of the finest musicians in town, they troupe are an unforgettable force.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

EP REVIEW: Young Kato “Young Kato”

It has been said that guitar pop is dead. It has also been said that the anthem is a thing of the past. However, Young Kato’s eponymous debut EP disproves both of the aforementioned status. Having been dubbed the indie One Direction, there is no denying that the young troupe are easy on the eye, but these boys can sure as heck compose riotously warm romps. Opening with lead single, the instant youth anthem “Drink, Dance, Play”, it is clear that these boys are social observers who know how to appeal to both the trendies and the pop kids.

While “Drink, Dance, Play” is easily the most instant and radio friendly of Young Kato’s debut offering, there is much more to the sextet than the single would imply. “Break Out” sees the boys head into an indie-folk terrain, with a stirring vocal that is reminiscent of Stornoway’s Brian Briggs. “Break Out” is musical bliss, from it’s whirling opening through to it’s sing-along climax. “Life’s Good” bridges the gap between the opening two numbers, and though not as instantly memorable, it grows with every listen and brews into the album standout.

Closing with The Editors meets The Killers, Young Kato deliver the brooding “Revolution”, a number which signifies everything that Young Kato symbolise. Young Kato are not following the trend, they make music that they love and they sound bloody good doing so. They may not fit in with the current mould, but then why should they? Good music was never about following the trend and it never will be. Young Kato are set to be massive. Just you wait and see.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: The Ex-Senators “The Ex-Senators”

There is far more to The Ex-Senators than first meets the eye. The Chicago based fivesome may be represented in comic form and carry superhero-esque pseudonyms, but their songs are meaningful anthems.

Having kickstarted it all with the political surge “Start A Fight”, “The Ex-Senators” has much more to it than musos making a change. Filled to the brim with enlightened social observations (“The Kids Are Trouble”) and moving personal tales (“Angel”).

While The Ex-Senators more than showcase their ability for the riotous romp, charismatic frontman D-Mac is at his finest when he channels his emotion. Without question the album peaks as it draws to a close with the tear-inducing, spine tingling ‘Disappear’.

“The Ex-Senators” proves the old cliché; never judge a book by its cover. The Ex-Senators could not be further from 2D.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: The Crookes “Hold Fast”

Sheffield based indie popstrels The Crookes are finally back and ready to rule with their second studio album “Hold Fast”. While the troupe may have only taken a year to write and record the follow-up to 2011’s “Chasing After Ghosts”, The Crookes have changed in so many ways. Obviously the departure of founding member Alex Saunders has provoked a profound change in the m the line-up now completed by guitarist Tom Dakin, as The Crookes have raised the bar and deliver “Hold Fast” with a sexy swagger.

Though title track “Hold Fast” provides the album lowlight midway through proceedings, the album as a whole has a lot to offer. From the dizzying heights of “Stars” through the radio friendly ambitions of “Afterglow”, The Crookes induce a euphoric state of frenzy.

While they may veer towards the up-tempo Americana – we advise skipping straight to the anthemic “The Cooler King” – The Crookes really excel at the sentiment driven ballad. Given that “American Girls” and the mind blowing closer “I Love You Bridge” offer the album highlights, you can’t help but wonder if “Hold Fast” might be slightly better off with a stronger sentiment vs frenzy balance.

“Hold Fast” is without question The Crookes strongest release to date. Given the marked growth in a year, there is little doubt that The Crookes will breakthrough to the big time-the question is whether “Hold Fast” will be the record to break them…

ALBUM REVIEW: Cosmo Jarvis “Think Bigger”

Cosmo Jarvis may have mellowed from the brash boy that unleashed the unforgettable but sadly overlooked “Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch” back in 2009 but he has far from lost his musical capability. While there may be less of the toilet humour and teenage crassness on display, album number 3, “Think Bigger” is lyrically diverse, leapfrogging from the seriously sincere to the seriously funny, all the while demonstrating that Jarvis has not lost his ability for self expression and social observation.

At its most bizarre “Think Bigger” channels alt rock in the strangely compelling roaring rawk of “Sunshine” to the whimsicality of “Tell Me Who To Be” providing proof that Jarvis should be far from contained in the jar labelled singer/songwriter.

Yet as a singer/songwriter it is in his tender reflection that sets his aside from the pack. The heartbreaking “Girl From My Village” is simple but touching in both its lyrical and sonic composition, while the country tinged “My Own Thing” stands out from the pack as the hummable radio friendly fodder-which is far from a composition.

While part of you will crave for the blunt directness of Jarvis’ earlier outings, after a few listens it is beyond clear that the matured artist is a far more exciting and enticing prospect.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

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