Victoria Park in London has its spots where, if only for a brief moment, you see no buildings, hear no cars and you can allow a gentle sense of escapism to creep into you. As 30,000 people descended on the east London park, the trick of Field Day is to make everybody feel miles away from the city, whilst being at the heart of the vibrant music culture it attracts. Field Day has found continued success in producing a line up which attracts people who know good music, rewards them with undiscovered treats and keeps them coming back by having a fresh, yet unpredictable mix of high calibre acts every year.
The day began with the synthesiser sorcerer Rizan Sa’id creating frantic dancing to the infectious dabke before Omar Souleyman graced the stage bringing an influence which appeared calm, yet it initiated swells of frenetic appreciation of the Syrian from the packed tent. At times I’m sure the vibrations felt on the floor were only half provided by the speakers, the rest coming from dancing feet as heart rates increased and shapes thrown became slightly overambitious.
Jamie xx drew a huge audience in the Bugged Out! tent as his technical prowess stitched together songs which really shouldn’t have worked. Throughout the set ran a continuing thread with an emphasis on listening to the understated intricacies of the tracks such as “Sleep Sound”, but still acknowledging the fact that in that moment, crowds will be vocal in their appreciation. The seeds of the songs had been sown in the crowds’ subconscious long before they found themselves belting out the lyrics to “I’ll Take Care Of You” or “You’ve Got The Love”.
From the distance, a pulsating, magnetic beat began drawing me towards it. The hypnotic repetitions and ever so subtle variations and nuances produced an allure which kept me taking great strides towards it. Time appeared to distort as giant orbs bouncing from the crowd into the sky travelled slowly and elegantly. A lone shuffling onstage figure offered contrast to the gliding spheres as Jon Hopkins’ continuously fine tuned his mesmerising techno to show off all the rich textures and delicate layers hidden behind the vivid beat. Despite the daylight detracting from the famous visuals, by way of an apology the sun covered the joyous crowd in a golden glow which gave a nod to the organic samples the distorted tracks found their origin in.
To close the day, Metronomy emerged in sharp white suits to begin a dazzling show full of glitzy hits, such as “Love Letters” and “The Look”, brooding undercurrents of “She Wants” and the disco ball illuminated the thousands during the pretty “Everything Goes My Way”. Closing on “You Could Easily Have Me” the driving, scuzzy riff topped with a shaky tiptoeing synth line from ‘Pip Paine’ showed the band being keenly proud of their past, a past which involved them humbly playing football in the very park they now were headlining their first ever festival in. A past which seems simultaneously distant, and yet inextricably intimately linked to the present, a contrast fitting of Field Day.
Words by Sam
Beginning with a spidery guitar line and warm handclaps, “They Won’t Find Us” is the first track to be released by Dead Seem Old. With a whole LP’s worth of songs written by Thom Wicks during an inspiring trip to Indonesia, he contacted producer Javier Weyler and together the pair recorded the album on an old 4-track recorder at Weyler’s Studio, The Beat Factory.
Sticking strictly to the influences of rare 1960’s surf instrumentals and Grimm fairy tales the collaboration’s first track continues with a flowing bassline and more intricate guitar work, with subtle electronic twinges accompanying the vivid lyrics.
The single “They Won’t Find Us” is out on Lo Records In September and here at Cougar, we can’t wait to hear more.
Post by Sam
The musical partnership between Joe Henson and Alexis Smith aka The Flight have produced something impressive dating back to their coming together in 2005. Since then, their creative production hub in East London has worked with some of the biggest names in music such as Lana Del Rey, Bjork and Elbow.
Their latest EP ‘The Sinner Inside‘ sees talented American singer/songwriter Alana Stewart, an artist we have been following for some time, taking on vocal duties may just be their most wondrous and exciting project to date.
‘The Idol and the Idle‘, the 2nd track from the EP is everything British music should be proud of. Understated is a word that is thrown around in this post-XX time, but moody, patient production cooks at the bottom of a pot of brooding vocal sass and beautiful analogue synths. The fact that the song is immediately so iconic without an obvious chorus only strengthens their case.
The lyric “God gets muddy in the glass” is the stuff of Twain, and conjures up a revelation of a world stuck between false promises, filling our voids with frivolous and carnal passions. This is combined with a stark and gritty video accompaniment that asks whether it is better to drink, dance and lay my way into middle age, or to actually think outside the box. Or look up from the box. Or remove my face from someone’s box. Either way I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
Post by T.R. Wicks
Ever since Alt-J dropped their brilliant debut ‘An Awesome Wave‘ on us back in 2012 we have been wondering what the Cambridge outfit’s next steps would be. Following the release of unofficial single “Hunger Of The Pine” (because that’s what bands do nowadays) we now have the first official single in the form of “Left Hand Free“.
Built on a quasi White Stripes riff “Hunger…” is a lo-fi slow burner that was apparently written in just 20 minutes but kind seems timeless. It sounds like nothing the band released before and raises the expectations for their sophomore album even higher.
‘This Is All Yours‘ ia suw on September 23rd via Canvasback/Infectious
We love the occasional rave-up here at CM Towers, especially when it’s in the form of nostalgic housey-garage reminiscent of the short-lived yet much loved glory days before the scene all got a little bit serious – too popular, too naughty… and kind of imploded a bit.
Step forward world-conquering DJ /producer Kissy Sell Out, with his new bangin’ EP ‘The Promise’ – which manages to draw on the unique ‘old skool’ atmosphere and vibe of the 90s and early 00s house and garage scene, whilst imbuing his own considerable talent and personality in to the tracks with a meticulous playfulness that absolutely works. – Kind of what you would expect from a producer who also blogs about astrophysics…
Lead track ‘The Promise’ from ‘The Promise EP’ features a familiar sounding female vocal, not completely dissimilar to ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S, ramped up with solid chunky house beats, claps, samples, loops and a bassline that follows the melody like a pilled-up loved-up puppy.
Also check the sampler mini-mix of the 4 track EP here (out 19th May):
Picking off the mud from last summers wellies, Cougar Microbes and are getting set yet again for Y Not festival. Set in the picturesque Peak District, the award-winning festival boasts a line-up as expansive as its surroundings.
We can’t wait to catch bursts of new talent like Nordic Giants’ thunderous soundscapes on display alongside the established acts. White Lies promise to bring their grandiose anthems to Derbyshire whilst wellies will certainly be re-muddied whilst going bonkers to Dizzee.
Check out the full line-up for yourself here Hope to see all your fancy-dressed, welly-wearing, smiling faces there.
Post by Sam
Manor House boys Bleach Blood, fronted by former King Blues man Jamie Jazz, are seemingly on a mission to keep music in London exciting and alive. last month BB released a four track EP titled “Darling Don’t Dive” and sat back as new and old fans alike downloaded the tracks with gusto. Having already featured their video for “Anything Anything” in the past I kind of knew what I was getting into but I have to admit the end product blew me away.
Drawing a clear and intentional line with everything the frontman has been involved with in the past, these tracks are not only unexpectedly upbeat for the most part but also pack a veritable punch and hooks galore. Inspired by a mix of the Buzzcocks‘ energy, TV On The Radio‘s eclecticism and LCD Soundsystem‘s warped pop sensibilities there is a real sense of potential about what is to come from this exciting outfit.
EP title track “Darling Don’t Dive Without Me” literally kicks off proceedings at full pace resembling Los Campesinos having an altercation with Art Brut at a speakeasy while James Murphy is doing chasers on the bar blissfully unaware. It all sounds effortlessly cool and full of confidence with a carnival chorus and multiple harmonies that will have even the most hardened cynic tapping along.
In case you were getting too comfortable “S.O.U.L” rears it’s head just to make sure you are still paying attention. Sounding like Refused playing an old The Strokes b-side the track is intentionally abrasive but scratch underneath the distortion and you will find a beautifully fucked up pop track. “S.O.U.L” shows BB has more than one weapon in it’s arsenal and more importantly have not entirely turned their backs on the British punk scene that served them so well in past endeavours.
Next up is the aforementioned “Anything, Anything” revisited for this release. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what has changed in this new recording but it seems more bullish and ends up sounding fuller for it. Once again that chorus is worth shouting along to anytime of the day with Linda Harrison‘s guest spot proving to be a total delight.
It’s a sign of how good “Darling Don’t Dive” is that just 9 minutes in I hit the final track wishing there was a lot more left to hear. Fortunately what is possibly the best, or at the very least the most complex, track has been left for last. “The Circle And The Square” begins unassumingly enough before venturing into a stirring crescendo that culminates in a terrific chorus filled with haunting melodies and harmonies over one another. Back before the term emo became a negative slur bands like Braid and Jimmy Eat World were producing this kind of affair regularly and on “The Circle And The Square” Jamie Jazz and co show they can be just as ambitious and successful at it.
Just like it begun ‘Darling Don’t Dive‘ ends on a high note. Over the course of 4 tracks the band surpassed my already high expectations and I I can’t wait to hear more material.
Bleach Blood are currently on tour across the UK and Europe with Natives and Arches. Catch them at their homecoming show at The Borderline on the 3rd of April and get your free copy of “Darling Don’t Dive” here.
Disclosure were making the right moves on the British scene releasing an EP on hip label Greco-Roman and being championed by DJ Annie Mac along the way but even they couldn’t have been prepared for the massive success enjoyed by ‘Settle‘. Ultimately irrespective of genres brothers Guy and Howard released one of the albums of the year.
“This album captures the essence of where house, indie, and hip-hop are converging these days. A stellar debut that is clearly more than just a “dance” album, but actually provides surprises in it depth, as well as some killer features. Like ‘Channel Orange‘ last year, the variety of different songs that have been listed by publications and listeners as their favorites of the year shows how the density of this LP’s impact” – Daniel Benny
“Not quite sure if living in London influenced me on this one, but I felt like Disclosure deserved a well earned spot in my top ten this year for the simple reason that their debut album was the perfect soundtrack to this summer. For ‘Settle‘, the Lawrence brothers collaborated with some of the hottest names in the British music scene right now including ‘AlunaGeorge‘, ‘Jessie Ware‘, ‘London Grammar‘ and this results in what I think to be best dance record of the year” - Olivia
“I can’t believe these brothers are only twenty or so years old. ‘Settle‘ draws on so many influences and genres, some far older than they are: 90s R&B, old school and acid house, garage, dubstep, 80s synth pop, soul music, etc… The result is an instant classic dance record that is as forward thinking as it is an homage to the past. Their DJ sets are ace, they put on a killer live show, and they even rock In-N-Out Burger t-shirts when they tour through Los Angeles. They can do no wrong!” - Roger Jao
“Disclosure’s ‘Settle‘ arrives on the scene as one of the best dance albums of the year. Leave it to two British 20-year-olds to make a deep house album poppy and effortlessly spoon feed it to mainstream America. With guest spots up the wazoo, the vocals alone help make this album the pop sensation it is – most notably, the seductive tenor Sam Smith on “Latch.” Their exceptional electronica beats, on tracks such as “Stimulation” are what keep their sound fresher than anything you’ll find right now” – Jabes
“Jamz for party time, jamz for sexy time, jamz for home time. straight jamz” – Ledewitt ”
“By far one of the biggest debut’s of the year, this pair of brothers brought house music to the masses with their breakout single, “Latch” featuring silky, smooth vocalist Sam Smith. A bonafide hit brigade, nearly every track could be a single. High-profile collaborations with fellow of-the-moment artists (Jessie Ware, Alunageorge, Flume) catapulted this record to the forefront of electronica and into American audiences“. – Nicole