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Hospitality – Trouble

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Hospitality – Trouble

Posted on 23 January 2014 by Joe

Hospitality produced one of the best, if not the best debut album, we’ve heard in recent years back in 2012. The Brooklyn trio’s self titled release on Fire Records was a masterclass in indie music songwriting, with singer Amber Papini’s delivery and lyrics perfectly encapsulating the thoughts of young urbanites trapped in boring office jobs and dreaming of a better life.

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But what also marked them out was that they had enough savvyness to appeal to a far wider audience than the likes of our little indie music blog. No less than Rolling Stone placed the album in their top 50 of that year.

We are happy to report that critical acclaim coupled with the chance to step out of their boring office jobs and spend more time on  their music hasn’t dampened their appeal. This second album is as stunning as their debut and shows a band progressing nicely, with guitars and synths powering them on together with clear influences from the 1970s world of progressive rock. More importantly though they still have some darn good tunes too.

Considering they have been knocking around since 2007 its no wonder they emerged in 2012 seemingly fully formed and were ready and able to produce a second great record.

Opener Nightingale sets the tone of the album well. Papini’s vocals over a crashing indie pop intro, then a 70s rock guitar riff, then slow again. Its like the Pixies meets King Crimson, the latter act being cited as a key influence on this album.

Papini’s voice sounds even better here on this album too, with a mix of croaky vulnerability and power, reminiscent of The Cardigans Nina Persson.

There’s some top singles to be harvested from this album as well. Miss Your Bones showcases some of the Wire and Gang of Four influences of the band and is a real treat with its choppy chords. They do slowies too. Sullivan being the pick of these.

With this strong release and a European tour being planned for 2014 we feel confident that they have a justified top billing in our Ones To Watch For 2014 feature.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Trouble is released on Fire Records on 27 January.

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Top 10 Bands To Watch Out For In 2014

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Top 10 Bands To Watch Out For In 2014

Posted on 06 December 2013 by Joe

We are pleased to introduce you to our annual look at the year ahead and those bands and solo acts that we think you should look out for in record shops (yes they still exist, go to them and find out) and gig venues. In our latest list we’ve got bands from the UK, US and South Africa all hand picked by our  our team of  expert contributors.

10. Super Squarecloud

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We heard their song Lollymoon while judging this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition and fell in love with their blend of math rock and twee pop, It is no surprise that they remind us a lot of XTC with their sense of musical invention, as they too come from Wiltshire. Their debut album Soupeater was released late in 2013 and we think it’ll help catapult them from their south west of England heartland into many more UK lugholes during 2014. (Joe Lepper)

9. Catfish and the Bottlemen

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Led by the implausibly titled Van McCann, the rascally Catfish & The Bottlemen are already armed with an impressive arsenal of incendiary two-minute indie firecrackers that will surely see them blow up some time in 2014. An album is expected early in the new year and is sure to feature some of their current stage set highlights  including the raucous Rango, crowd favourite Sidewinder, and the howitzer that is their single Homesick. Exhaustive touring has already helped catch the ear of BBC radio presenters Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq who have both championed them. 2014 is the year they explode, mark our words. (Kevin McGough)

8. John Wizards

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Despite receiving critical acclaim from The Guardian and BBC 6 Music, South African six-piece John Wizards have flown somewhat under the radar in 2013. Having supported Jagwar Ma on their UK tour, we are looking for their blend of electro rhythms, township basslines and Graceland-esque guitar riffs to appeal to 2014’s summer festival crowd in particular. Their sound is one of overriding optimism, perhaps stemming from their multicultural lineup and the history of South Africa. If 2014 offers up another heatwave, then John Wizards could provide the perfect soundtrack. (Conal Dougan)

7. New Mendicants

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You’d be hard pressed to find two better exponents of melodic guitar pop than Teenage Fanclub veteran Norman Blake and Pernice Brother Joe Pernice. It makes sense that they would collaborate and as New Medicants they are set for a big 2014 . Joined on drums by Mike Belitsky of The Sadies they have so far released one EP and played some very well received live shows (including their Bristol show which we reviewed) where they mix new songs with their own classics. January dates in the UK followed by their first full album mean they’ll be making a big (if soft and sensitive) noise in 2014. (Dorian Rogers)

6. Withered Hand

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Otherwise known as Dan Willson, this Scottish singer songwriter has signed to indie pop heavyweights Fortuna Pop in the UK and Slumberland Records in the US for the 2014 release of his next album New Gods. Its track Black Tambourine, which was released late in 2013, was enough for us to propel Wilson straight into this list. If the rest of the album is as exciting as this track it’s likely to be a shoo-in for our end of 2014 best albums list. But we are jumping the gun a little. For now, go see him, go buy his album and help him have a great 2014. (Joe Lepper)

5. Making Marks

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It was at 2013’s Indietracks Festival that we first saw Making Marks, the Norwegian indie pop act with a country feel that for the last two years has been steadily building up interest among indie popsters. Their debut album A Thousand Half Truths, featuring the track Barcodes,  is due in February 2013 and we anticipate their audiences will grow as a result. Formed in Oslo their star turns are vocalists Ola Innset, whose intricate guitar picking style is worth paying close attention to, and Nina Bø. (Joe Lepper)

4.  Alex Highton

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Highton’s album Wooditton Wives Club, about his move from London to a small Cambridgeshire village proved to be one of our favourite releases of 2012. Turns out we are not the only ones to be enjoy his refreshing take on folk and pop as improbably Ashton Kutcher is among his fans. The Guardian also likes him and in 2013 interviewed him when he topped their readers’ vote for the best breaking act. 2014 marks a busy year for Highton, who releases his next album Nobody Knows Anything in April. He also has a tour of the UK and Europe planned.  Go see him if you can. (Joe Lepper)

3. Wolf Alice

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Wolf Alice impressed us as one of the best new acts that we saw at the Great Escape Festival this year. A simple mixture of good songs, good playing and assured, if understated, performance made them stand out. This year they’ve released a handful of impressive singles and EPs demonstrating their knack for wistful, melodic indie rock. At the time of writing they were due to headline the Club NME New Year’s Eve Ball at Koko, which shows how highly they are regarded by the music press, and we expect to see much more of them in 2014. (Dorian Rogers)

2. Temples

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These  psychedelic rock revivalists from Kettering emerged during 2013 after their virtues were extolled by the likes of Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr. First coming to the attention of Heavenly Records founder Jeff Barrett  in 2012 with the self-produced ‘Shelter Song,’ Temples soon evolved  into a full touring band over the next 12 months and, despite their youth, they have added a  watertight live dynamic to accompany their considerable song-writing chops. They certainly impressed us when we caught their Bristol show late in 2013. Think the melodies of psychedelic-era Beatles, the 12-string jangles of The Byrds and a hint of Madchester bagginess; all  given a hypnotic contemporary twist. Over the next 12 months we predict many more than Marr and Gallagher will be left impressed. (Scott Hammond)

1. Hospitality

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As debuts go Hospitality’s self titled 2012 album has been among the best we’ve heard since Neonfiller launched in 2009. Signed to Fire Records this Brooklyn trio’s set is full of infectious pop hooks all delivered superbly by lead singer Amber Papini, whose songwriting and vocals perfectly sum up all the hopes and fears of the developed world’s 20 somethings. But these are no mere indie, niche act as the likes of the mainstream Rolling Stone are  among their many admirers. After a quiet 2013 they are back in 2014 with a new album Trouble, including the song I Miss Your Bones, which displays an even keener ear on appealing to mainstream and indie audiences alike. (Joe Lepper)

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Hospitality – Hospitality

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Hospitality – Hospitality

Posted on 18 April 2012 by Joe

Fire Records, the home of alternative music veterans  Giant Sand and Mission of Burma, has taken a leaf out of labels such as Slumberland and Fortuna POP! and bagged themselves a beauty of an indie pop act in Hospitality.

Central to the success of this Brooklyn trio’s self titled debut album is the singing and songwriting of lead singer Amber Papini. Her turn of phrase, effortless vocals and keenest of ears for a catchy single are only hinted at on opener Eighth Avenue, a kind of Belle and Sebastian rip. But as the album progresses track after track of hook laden, memorable, potential singles follow.

Among the highpoints is Betty Wang, about a clean living former colleague of Papin, at  a “financial day job”, according to the accompanying press release. It’s a joyous sing-along and one of my favourite tracks of the year. The chorus of another singalong, The Right Profession, is another that stayed with me long after the album had finished.

It is not just Papini’s pop savviness that warms me to Hospitality. The arrangements are lifted markedly by some smart saxophone arrangements, most notably on second track Friends of Friends and end track All Day Today.

I can’t fault any of  the 10 tracks. In fact It sounds like an awful cliché but as the saxophones and jangly guitars drift off on the final track All Day Today I didn’t want this album to finish such is its warmth and sense of fun. Great debut, great find for Fire Records and a surefire contender for our end of year Top 20 album list.

9/10

Joe Lepper

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