So….it’s been a long time since my last blog post, and I guess that’s because I’ve been really busy. I’m currently writing this from Aberystwyth, where I’m in the middle of a 6 1/2 week run playing bass on Legally Blonde: The Musical. It’s great to be back in a theatre again, and giving my sight reading chops a workout! Anyway, here’s some information about what I’ve been up to musically since the end of last year, who I’m playing with and other stuff.
So, I made the jump and moved to London in January. It’s amazing, I’m enjoying it so much…..everyone is constantly doing stuff and it’s an environment which is really pushing me to work as hard as I can. And progress is being made, slowly but surely.
Around that upheaval, there are a lot of recordings/projects being released this year which I’ve had a hand in, either as a bassist, producer or composer. More on that later! Bass-wise, there are some great things to check out, so I’ll give you a little paragraph on each, and some links to check out the music and any reviews which have cropped up.
Jodie Marie – Trouble In Mind (Album)
Jodie’s second album has finally been released! We recorded it back in 2013/14, and it’s so nice to see it finally on the shelves, as it were. It’s a very old-school, classic sounding record; full of Stax-inspired horn parts (which Jodie and I wrote together) and vintage tones (I used a 70’s Jazz I borrowed from a friend, my ’79 Precision and a vintage Neve Compressor direct into the desk). It seems to have been really well recieved, with reviews in places like NME, Artist of the Week on BBC Radio Wales, appearances on the S4C TV channel and other radio play across the UK.
The musicians and producers on this album were amazing to work with: Jodie and her live band (Jimmy Brewer, Jack Beddis), Owain Fleetwood Jenkins at StudiOwz, the guys from the Noisettes (Toby Couling and Dan Smith), Faye Houston on BV’s (singer for Resonators), the guys at Urchin Studios (Dan Cox and Matt Ingram), all the horn players, plus the legendary Joe Webb. Serious heavy hitters…..all of their other projects are worth checking out, so follow the links!
If you want to hear the end result of our hard work, you can see the video for the first single below:
The album is available from iTunes, Amazon and Jodie’s own website. It’s also up for streaming on Spotify, and the whole album is a YouTube playlist as well. There are a load of ways to hear it, and if you like it, give it a cheeky purchase. It’s good to support artists you like!
Jimmy Brewer – Strangers (Album)
Jodie’s guitarist, Jimmy, has also been a busy boy. He’s a great singer/songwriter in his own right (he’s supported Joan Armatrading on a bunch of gigs, including The Barbican), and his second album is due out in a few days. We recorded this very quickly (I think bass and drums were completed in 2 days) but I feel we really caught the vibe of the songs. It’s loose and raw but with a bit of polish too.
Euan Palmer and Jimmy are musical kindred spirits, for me. We played together a lot in college, and even though we don’t play so often any more, it’s like nothing’s changed when we do. There’s some blues influences, a large dose of 70’s rock and classic americana, but with a British twist (an old WEM amp and a song about the North Sea coast, anyone?). This was a really nice project to be involved in, and it was just as fun as when we did Jimmy’s early recordings back in 2012!
or a Soundcloud preview here:
Benjamin Mason – Skies Are Falling (EP)
Ben is a friend of mine and the guitarist in Valleyers. He’s a cool, quirky songwriter with a massive creative streak. He can take what sounds like a relatively nice, normal song and make it into a really interesting journey with loads of twists and turns. I love where he comes from, conceptually. He got me and Jack Beddis in to record the rhythm section and it was so much fun, plus the material is REALLY good. If all goes according to plan, we might well get out there and gig it at some point too, which will be awesome.
Ben’s recordings seem to be getting a great response (such as this review from Diamond Deposits) and plays on BBC Radio Wales and BBC 6Music, as well as being playlisted by a radio station in South Africa!
Listen here: YouTube
Listen and buy it from: iTunes or Bandcamp
Sky Barkers – Pelt & Paw (EP)
This is a project with Dan Messore, his wife Jo, and her sisters. It’s bluesy, folky, rootsy…just a really organic sounding record. And the girls are great singers…..the way they harmonise is amazing. The band on that record are me, Dan, Gethin Jones and Joe Webb. They’re all great musicians in their own right, and well worth checking out. There’s no definite release date for Pelt & Paw yet, but previews are available on SoundCloud. This project was recently premiered by Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales.
Taylor & Marie – Tilt The Moon (EP)
I know it was the end of last year, but I feel that this EP from Jodie Marie & Samuel Taylor really needs a mention! It’s just a real classic sound, with a very strong Nashville country influence. They’re both great individual singer/songwriters but as a pair they really work together too. This was a really fun EP to make, and the guys got named Artist Of The Week on BBC Radio Wales, got airplay on BBC Radio 2 and were featured in Q Magazine. They’ve got a second, more stripped down, EP coming out towards the end of 2015, so keep your eyes and ears peeled!
Buy from iTunes
Valleyers have had a relatively busy first half of the year, with a bunch of headline gigs, and festival slots at Focus Wales Festival, the main stage at Fire in the Mountain and also Unearthed in a Field. We’ve started the recording process for an EP which will hopefully be released towards the end of the year, but we’re gonna be taking a gig hiatus for a while so new material can be written, and because the individuals in the band are busy with other projects: Benjamin Mason I’ve already mentioned, and Jack Beddis is playing with me in Jodie Marie’s band, as well as doing Tree of Wolves and a lot of other session work.
Nayfe, the singer in Valleyers, is also an amazing web/graphic designer working under the name Nought Design (seriously, go hire him NOW for anything like that!) and artist at Hello Pålegg. He’s designed amazing gig posters, album art for bands such as Dinosaur Pile Up, as well as Jimmy Brewer’s website and Ben Mason’s EP art. Busy times for everyone!
Recordings & Production
On top of that, I’ve started doing some producing thanks to Owain at StudiOwz. He got me in for a couple of sessions at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, which was so much fun! These releases are now out too, and all the info is below:
Tree Of Wolves – Sleepwalking (EP)
This was one of the most educational experiences I’ve had in music for a long time, as it was my first ever producer job. At the beginning we set a goal that we wouldn’t stop with any individual part until it was right, and we tried to maintain that high level of quality control from tracking to the end of mastering. I really feel like we accomplished what we set out to do, and the EP sounds great. It’s poppy and sparkly but with a warmth that seems to be compared to Fleetwood Mac quite a lot!
The songs from this EP have had lots of radio play, from the UK (BBC 6Music, BBC Wales and Amazing Radio) to as far away as Canada, and reviews in places like Louder Than War and an interview for GigSlutz.
All the guys in the band worked REALLY hard, but we all had such a great time making this. It’s definitely worth having a listen to this EP, the songs are lovely and there’s something for everyone in it. Special mention goes to Tom Collins from We’re No Heroes for the artwork, too! Check out his Tumblr here.
Listen and Buy here:
We’re No Heroes – Voodoo (Single)
These boys from Cardiff are absolutely awesome! Indie funk-pop is the best way I can describe it…..and these guys have a knack for writing a catchy chorus, that’s for sure! The boys came and recorded at StudiOwz at the beginning of the year, and it was a really good laugh…..if the photos from that session ever surface, you’ll all have a chuckle.
It also looks as though we’ll be going back into the studio to produce more stuff with them in November, which is really exciting. The first single from our session is “Voodoo”, and I love this song. I assume Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1 and Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music do too, having played them on their shows. They’ve also been played on Amazing Radio and been made Artist of the week on Radio Wales. These guys are gonna go far, so get into them now while they’re still flying under the radar.
As a footnote, the video for Vooodoo is sick! Have a watch, below:
HerStory – Joon Dance
HerStory is a solo piece of contemporary dance, combined with verbatim theatre and spoken word, created by Zosia Jo. It’s a really heavy hitting piece of work dealing with love, relationships and domestic abuse, with the storyline derived from real anecdotes sent to Zosia by women from all over the world. I was honoured that Zosia asked me to compose a selection of pieces (4 in total) for use during the performances, which I recorded with Jimmy Brewer and Jack Beddis at StudiOwz. I’ll upload them to SoundCloud at some point, but in the meantime you can see HerStory performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 7th to 22nd August (it’s already been to Pembrokeshire, Cardiff, London and Cairo!).
Since I moved to London, I’ve been covering bass on a few gigs with the electronic/jazz band Bleep Test, led by Fraser Smith. It’s so much fun! The musicians are really great players and it’s always a party playing with these guys. For me, there’s not much more fun than laying down really heavy grooves and people dancing their asses off and having a good time. Their recordings are awesome, but if you get the chance to go see them live I’d highly recommend it!
One video has surfaced of a gig which I played with them…and there will be another official video soon!
I think that’s about it, really. I’m currently working on a bunch of solo bass pieces plus some tunes for a possible band project next year, but they’re all in the very early stages so we’ll see how that goes. Also, I’ll be recording with Joe Webb’s new project Elephants this summer, so keep a look out for that! In the meantime, if anyone has any thoughts, give me a shout on Facebook or Twitter or get in touch via my contact page!