Live Review: Past Kings @ The Edge, Basildon

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Past Kings @ Canvey FC. Pictured left to right: Jack Smith (Guitar), Sam Charles (Vocals), Matt Cruise (Guitar) and James Holland (Drums)

Past Kings are a 4 piece indie pop band from Essex made up of Sam Charles, Jack Smith, Matt Cruise and James Holland. All four of these lads are great musicians and song-writers in their own right, some may be more experienced on the live band circuit than others but that does not stop them making a huge impact on the Essex music scene with their infectious lyrics and laid back stage manner.

I’ll admit this review is very late as they performed at The Edge back in June, sorry boys! This was the second time that I had seen them live and I was thoroughly impressed with their stagecraft despite it being early days for the lads.

 

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Past Kings playing a live acoustic session @ Phoenix Fm

One of the things I admired about these guys from day one is the fact that all of the songs in their set bar one or two are original writings, they haven’t done the typical “new band” thing by starting their time on the circuit by playing covers and then progressing to original music, this takes real guts in my opinion because of course, music is a subjective thing and to be brave enough to share your creations with an audience from the word go, definitely shows me that these guys are serious about this whole music thing and definitely want to achieve success.

The best part of all of their performances for me, is the way they plan their sets. I always feel like I’m taken on a journey throughout with songs of varying tempo, style and lyrical meaning. The songs are also quite catchy, my favorite one is definitely “Night Time”, an indie pop ballad with the perfect blend of drums vocals and guitar.

Past Kings live shows are also quite interesting based on the fact that they don’t have a live bassist, instead, they choose to use an electronic bass sound generated by an SPDX drum pad. I’ll come clean right now and say that to start with, I was rather skeptical of this idea and even thought of the band to be a bit lazy because they didn’t have a “full line up”. Of course, I was instantly proven wrong and now see this as a potential unique selling point for the band.

Overall, these guys are great. They’ve got the right attitude, the talent and great songs to top it off, although they are a little green, I predict great things for Past Kings!

Check out their song “Night Time” HERE!

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Track Review: HARRY – Accessory

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“Harry” is a singer-songwriter and musician from Bow, London. Having already started making her mark throughout the local music scene with her interesting name, impressive list of venues she’s performed at and  catchy songs, this rising star has now began to release her original material for the world to hear, and her debut release “Accessory” is a great first dive into the recording side of the music industry.

I immediately fell in love with this track and had it on loop for weeks, its a perfect combination of original singer-songwriter integrity and your typical pop musical arrangement with lyrics to keep the listener enticed and wanting more!

For me, the lyrics are also something that I feel a lot of young females could relate to when it comes to relationships and the way they can be treated by their partners. However, the way the song has been arranged doesn’t make it too serious and depressing!

The music video is really cool too and does a brilliant job of bringing the song to life, not that it needed much for that to happen anyway. As a fellow musician myself, I can usually pick out at least one thing I don’t like about a song that I’m reviewing, this is not the case with Accessory, I simply cannot get enough of it and can certainly see why Harry is gaining more and more attention from industry people in London and beyond.

If you want something to help lift those weekday blues, this is the track for you! Take a listen (and a watch) of Accessory down below, trust me you will not be disappointed in the slightest, I can see great things for this lady, and will be following her career closely from now on!

The track is also available on all streaming platforms!

 

HARRY ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter: @MissOblivious_
Insta: @MissOblivious_
Facebook: @MissObliviousX

 

 

Track review: Jump Stone – Won’t Last A Minute

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Won’t Last A Minute is the latest offering from Essex based indie-funk band Jump Stone. A song rumored to be about an ex girlfriend of one of the members running off with an older man, it is what I would dub a “funky diss-track.”

Despite the band only being a three piece, there are thick layers of vocal and instrumental harmony to fill out every space of the audio spectrum. This is a technique famously used by Jump Stone’s frontman, Harry Cash, who is also a producer in his own right.

As soon as I pressed play on “Won’t Last A Minute”, I was immediately pulled in with an ear worm of a guitar riff, closely followed by well thought out and (sometimes) funny lyrics. Harry’s smooth vocals sit comfortably on top of the strong rhythm provided by the  skill of Harrison Palmer (Bass) and Dan Rawley (Drums)

The track just builds at the right times and in all the right places, always leaving the listener wanting more before reaching a comfortable climax in the form of the chorus that is bound to give men, women, children and even animals satisfaction beyond belief!

For me, the mark of a great tune is when it sounds great on your car stereo and when its played live. I went along to Jump Stone’s launch event for this single at The Edge last weekend and can definitely say that this track ticks both of those boxes! The audience were up right at the front of the stage singing along to every word and THAT is when you know you’ve got a masterpiece on your hands.

Along with the single, the band threw in a music video which can be seen here:

Won’t Last A Minute is available on all platforms, I recommend that everyone goes out and grabs themselves a copy!

I for one am highly excited to see what Harry, Harrison and Dan have up their sleeves for future releases!

How to enjoy music when you do it for a living

Like many young musicians and creatives, I always dreamed of being able to play my instrument for a living one day. Well two years ago, this dream came to fruition. I started playing keys for various different bands, writing scores for some indie films and also teaching keyboard to a few students.

This has now steadily progressed to turning into a semi full time job alongside my university studies. I have had great experiences and performed alongside some pretty prestigious artists and don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a single second, however, there has also been times when I’ve wanted to flat out quit. This has been down to purely not enjoying Music, I’m sure some of you can relate to this, thankfully, I’ve found various ways of being able to do what I love for work and also get pleasure out of it. I am going to share these ways with you today:

1) Play music that you enjoy

We all know what its like having to play music that we hate in order to make ends meet. I’ve done it more times than I can count and its really not beneficial to you or the artist you’re working with/for. So if you can afford to, make sure to say yes to projects that excite you on a musical and personal level, that way your client will always get the best out of you and you will always enjoy going to work.

2) Try and play as many different genres of music as you can

As a session musician, I’m lucky to be able to be involved in several different musical genres. This includes: general covers, acoustic singer-songwriter, Folk rock and progressive rock. I have always felt that being in a singular band playing the same genre every weekend can get rather stale pretty quickly, thus causing you to fall out of love with it, something every musician wanting a long-lasting career should avoid.

3) Get along to some local jam nights!

This is one thing I never have done enough of and definitely something I’m glad to be doing more of! I’ve recently started attending a jam night at The Bull in Colchester every Tuesday night after uni and its definitely one of the best things I’ve done! I think that giving yourself the chance to play freely with other musicians without the constraint of charts or a click track in your ears is a brilliant way to not only meet and network with different instrumentalists but also a chance to play whatever you want for a change!

4) Go to some gigs!

Us musicians spend so much of our time on stage that we sometimes forget how much fun it is being a member of the audience! I’ve always done my best to go out on my nights off and support my friends in local bands, this is the only way to keep local music and local venues alive after all!

Follow these four pieces of advice and I can pretty much promise you that you will all enjoy your music a lot more!

The State of the British Music Education system – an open letter to the government

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Anyone that knows me will be aware of how much I value Music and how integral I feel it is that Music Education is part of the UK national curriculum.

It has been proven that Music and “The Arts” help children develop confidence, discipline, interpersonal skills, self-awareness and other key skills they need to progress in life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying for one second that the kids that are playing for football teams or part of the chess club don’t develop these skills or indeed that are lesser people than their musical peers, but what I am saying is that, i wouldn’t be the person I am without music/ Music Education.

However, unfortunately, the current UK government fail to see the importance of the arts (namely Music). I, along with many of my fellow Musicians, find this disgusting. Across the country, Music departments at all levels (KS2 & KS3) are having their funding cut and therefore having to either cut costs, thus leaving them short staffed or (to my heartbreak) shut down altogether.

This now means that children at key stages of their development, at the ages in which they begin to discover who they are as individuals, are not being given the opportunities to either unlock or develop their talent.

Can you imagine being in school seeing all your friends being GOOD or even GREAT at something like poetry or football and having the ability to go to a club dedicated to those talents and then there’s you. You know you’re good at music but you also see that your school doesn’t have a music department or any clubs or 1-1 lessons. I for sure would’ve been lost without my school’s Music department, lord knows I’d be lost without Music full stop.

So, on that note – this was an open letter to the Uk government from a musician and aspiring Music Educator who lays here at 2:30 in the morning, not being able to sleep out of his disgust and heartache at the lack of respect and value that his profession is being shown by his countries leaders.

Theresa May, and colleagues… please STOP and see what you’re doing, you are suffocating something amazing and soon, there is going to be nothing left, please, I beg you, stop…

Signed

A distraught musician.

Live Review: Jump Stone at The Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden

Live Review: Jump Stone at The Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden

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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go out and enjoy a solid night of live music, I took the opportunity to go and see an up and coming band named Jump Stone last weekend to rectify this.

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Harry Tuning up

Fronted on guitar and vocals by musician and producer Harry Cash, this trio of indie funk stars really had the Fiddler’s by the balls throughout their entire set, keeping everyone infatuated with catchy riffs, the tightest stops I’d ever seen and enthralling, energetic lyrics.

What’s more, despite Harry being on crutches due to a leg operation and having to sit down for the majority of his performance,  he still had the exact same stage presence he has whilst standing and throwing himself around the stage and he gave the best vocal performance I’ve seen from him. Bassist Harrison and drummer Dan were completely in sync from the get go, you can tell that those two were meant to perform together, they were practically reading each others minds, it was incredible to watch!

One thing I love about these guys is that despite being a trio, they still manage to fill every venue they play wall to wall with noise and musical genius, showing that its not about how big you are, but how you use the people you’ve got to make yourself sound big, and boy did they sound BIG! Especially on their final number “Won’t Last A Minute” which had everyone  dancing and singing the words back to them, you could see the delight on the boys’ faces as this happened, it certainly shows that they are going in the right direction!

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Harry, Harrison and Dan at Soundhub

A few weeks ago, Harry, Harrison and Dan spent a few days with the guys of Soundhub recording some more material for their fans, I have had a 30 second preview of some of the songs and it really blew me away, these guys have finally found their place on the musical spectrum and have a solid plan to take the industry by storm, keep an eye out for Jump Stone, with the things they are achieving at the moment and with a polished live show down to the last note and songs that stick in your brain like superglue , you won’t want to miss their rise to excellence!

Jump Stone on the web

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Floor wedges vs In Ear Monitors: The Pros and cons of both

One of the most important things for a musician when they are on stage is the need to be able to hear themselves clearly, if they can’t, they are going to produce a sub-standard performance.  There used to be only one way of doing this and that was through what is known as a floor wedge or floor monitor, this is simply a speaker that is placed in front of the musicians so that they can hear themselves. As you can imagine, these speakers would be quite bulky and take up a lot of space on stage, especially if there is a large amount of musicians on stage, all requiring monitors.

This issue has now been solved with the invention of in ear monitors or I.E.M’s. The clue is in the name as t how these work, just like a floor monitor but rather than having a massive speaker on stage, each performer has a set of in ear headphones in which they can hear themselves and whatever else they require, for example, a click track if the performer is a drummer.

The debate about which monitoring method is best has been going on for years and there are pros and cons to both forms of monitoring, let’s start with the pros and cons of floor monitors:

Pros

  • Less expensive – A fully functioning in ear system can cost hundreds of pounds)
  • No sound blocked ( having in ears can sometimes block out the noise of the crowd etc.
  • Freedom of movement – if a performer isn’t on wireless I.E.M’s, they are attached to a cable.
  • Shared mixes – If time is not on a bands side, the engineer can arrange to have various band members using one wedge, not ideal, but time efficient.

Cons

  • More noise on stage – If you combine the front of house speakers, guitar amps and several monitors on stage, it sure is gonna get very loud, very quickly.
  • Less space on stage – Again, combining the amps, instruments and people with more bulky monitors doesn’t create the most comfortable stage plan.
  • more chance of feedback  – Because of the amount of things blasting out at you and the audience.
  • No chance of a custom mix – for some musicians, having a custom mix is essential, such as the drummer needing a click track at times, you can’t put a click through a floor monitor or the audience will hear it, not good.

As you can see, having a floor wedge has its advantages and disadvantages, now onto in ears. If you’re gigging week in week out like me, I would suggest investing in some in ear monitors, we’ll go through the pros and cons of these now:

Pros

  • Hearing protection – In ear monitors are designed to block out as much noise as possible to protect the hearing of the wearer, with in ears, the harsh frequencies like that produced from the crash of drum cymbals are either blocked out completely or blocked to a certain extent so you can still hear them but just not as loudly.
  • Custom mixes – With in ears, you can have a mix that is custom made for you, this take quite a lot of time during soundcheck but is well worth it. The quality of a mix can make or break a performance for a lot of musicians, if you can’t hear yourself or can hear too much of yourself, things could go horribly wrong. Thankfully with in ears, the sound levels can be adjusted without affecting anybody else in the band.
  • You can hear more clearly – Because your monitor is literally in your ear, you can hear everything more precisely and be really locked into the rest of your band members, this helps your performance a great deal.
  • They look cool  – I know, probably not the reason anybody chooses in ears, but I must say, I like the fact that I’m wearing what the pros wear, it makes me feel cool, okay? Try not to judge me!

Cons

  • Expensive – A good quality in ear system can burn a rather large hole in your wallet, we’re talking £500 + if you want the high end stuff. For your first set, I wouldn’t recommend going out and spending that much, get something quality but within your price range!
  • If they break, you’re done – This doesn’t happen too often if you look after them, but if they do break and you don’t have a spare set, then your kinda stuck, musically and financially. Especially if they break on stage and you don’t have a wedge running too, which is not likely.
  • Could cause hearing damage – If your sound guy isn’t responsible or experienced, they could send a massively hot feed to your ears, this could potentially damage your hearing if it keeps happening, before you switch to in ears, you have to be sure that the engineers your working with know how to handle their desks properly.
  • They can’t always be used – I’ve had experiences of going to a venue, telling the sound guy that I run in ears, and having them freak and not know what to do with these foreign objects.. dude… just run an XLR cable from your desk to mine.. oh well.

These are my personal pros and cons, added to the extensive argument as to which way works best. Personally, once I switched to in ears, using a wedge was never the same, I just couldn’t do it, and I’d imagine its the same for many people that have made the switch. A fellow session musician friend of mine described using in ears as “hearing in HD” and I have to say, his right.

SIDE NOTE: I wrote a little review of my Moxpad X6 in ears, take a read!: https://garycunninghammusic.wordpress.com/category/reviews/page/2/