Atagig wishing I was @Hippo Campus, Dingwalls,01/02/17

But hey ho I’m not. I’m doing my friendly (I still owe you big time) favour return of a mid week babysit while friends are out fraternising with The Fratellis.

So I’ll make do with some YouTube catch ups of new music:

One that caught my ears immediately was the new track from Hippo Campus –

The hippocampus is apparently quite a vital component of the brain, involved in the transference of short term memories into long term storage solutions, and in the area of spatial memory which aids navigation. ‘Hippo Campus’ on the other hand are a four piece indie rock band from Minnesota who are on the cusp of global navigation and permanent marker forever etched into your auditory memory.

Debut album ‘Landmark’ is due 24/02/17 with an accompanying worldwide tour, and first single ‘way it goes’ is available now. On first listen and look, it’s an immediately catchy and, yes, a pretty memorable tune. The video is overflowing with beautiful young beings delivering a pastiche on ‘coolness’ in an achingly cool yet amusingly self-aware manner. It’s like the theme tune to every single one of those annoyingly successful, good looking, lying bastards who spend their entire lives image-projecting themselves via every single social media channel there is. This is a little snapshot of the Hippo Campus view of those who strive to portray falsities through online fakery. And I love it. It’s a welcome breath of fresh honesty blowing through me. If the rest of the album has as much to offer then I’ll happily employ my hippocampus to transmit it as wriggly little earworms on a daily basis.
Hippo Campus play Dingwalls on Wednesday 1st February.


Atagig in a (willow) tree k.i.s.s.i.n.g 25/01/17


Tom Speight has this amazing ability to reduce me to tears almost every time I hear his voice. I don’t mean angry tears or tears of frustration or even sad little sorrowful droplets. Nope, none of those. I’m talking the welling up of eyes and blinking away of joyful emotions that Tom’s beautiful voice evokes every single time.

The first time was embarrassing enough, at my first Sofar session as a volunteer on the team and Tom started up with his low key, laid back quaverings on the topic of love. And sure enough my eyes were swimming almost immediately in a haze of saltiness in front of a room full of strangers.

That was back in the Autumn of 2016, and now in the deepest, darkest mid winter of the coldest January day I can remember for years, he’s got me again. This time through the sneak preview of his new single ‘Willow Tree’ coming out at midnight tonight. Tears of pure love and memories of being held, supported and loved like no other come flooding out in rivers.

This song is beautiful – beginning to end and back again it’s got an aura of love and calmness which washes over me and takes me in it’s arms. With Jessica’s (The Staves) lilting vocals intertwined with Tom’s and weaving together like the roots of the Willow Tree it’s like a little breath of spring sunshine glimmering its promises of love, growth and happiness.


atagig @Secret Cameras debut EP, in my inbox, October 2016


Oh yeah, baby, I’ve had a six month hiatus from the blog, but I’m back. And I’m back with a bang. More new music dropping in to my inbox, and it’s exciting. I feel invigorated, alive, full of joie de vivre. Or maybe that’s just the coffee.

So I haven’t blogged much over the summer but that’s mainly because I’ve been going places you know, going somewhere new, deciding important stuff and maintaining the harmony. It’s hard to write when you’re feeling like the world is spinning away from under your feet, or you’re in a field surrounded by glitter and sequins and an iffy Wi-Fi signal. But hopefully I’ll be rectifying that over the next few wintry months as I continue my atagig mission.

Secret Cameras are a band that have come to my attention recently, also going places, and sweeping along fans within their whirlwind. They’ve been busily building their presence, with a few notable gigs, and the announcement of their debut (self-titled) EP arriving in March 2017. The first single from that EP is due to hit with a vengeance on 21/10/16.

‘Going Places’ brings to my mind all the best parts of the 80s synthed into sync with current times. It has an opening full of intrigue, and the distortion on the voice of vocalist Itamar Starets is perfectly up my street. There’s a calm under-stated air to the whole three and a half minutes, and it’s almost as if this song has been brimming under the surface for years. The familiarity of the sound means there’s an instant recognition and it’s definitely a tune that has catchiness in bucket-loads. I love the repetition of “What do you wanna do?” right at the end, building to the crescendo of the ending. Powerful stuff and a question that we all need to stop and ask ourselves from time to time. I know what I want to do. Have a listen. And ask yourself.

❤ Secret Cameras ❤

atagig @Cool Thing Records Presents: Alternative Occupations EP, in my inbox, October 2016


Alternative Occupations EP. In my inbox. Asylums are one of my favourite new finds from 2016. Their debut album actually kicked ass and reinvigorated my ears (reviewed for here). Asylums’ live performances are consistently full of energy and pure dirty rock, with never a dull moment. And I don’t just love Asylums for the sounds but also their attitude, their ethos and their whole musical way of thinking. This is indie: right-here, right -now, bang-up-to-indie-date as we approach the roaring twenty twenties. Indie in the purest sense of the word, from the creation of their own label ‘Cool Thing’ through to self-curated nights of gig greatness in their hometown of Southend. All this and they somehow manage to keep on top of the day jobs at the same time. Hats off guys!

Asylums have kept the momentum running following a summer of epic festival appearances, and an October UK tour, and they don’t drop a beat with the impending  ‘Cool Thing’ release of four song EP ‘Alternative Occupations’.

Title track and first to be unleashed is previously unheard killer tune from Asylums themselves. ‘Alternative Occupations’ was recorded during a momentary lull in the summer time. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think they ever stop! Building on the catchy waves and guitar from their album, this track is a big explosion of sound and captures the mood of post-Brexit confusion in a nutshell. There’s the underlying sense of Asylums’ angst at the juxtaposition between day-to-day work personas and their ever-flowing creative juices.

Next up is a burst of shrillness that would wake the dead. ‘You’ll Be Dead’ from four piece Petty Phase is fast, furious and frantic. At just under 1.3 minutes, with short, sharp phrasing and vocals where breathing is not an option, this veers dangerously at the speed of light to it’s sudden end. Love it. This lot are without a doubt Southend’s answer to Pussy Riot.


Third track ‘Castles’ from The Horse Heads is another quickie. But jam packed with feeling and excitement. It’s one that’s been getting a lot of attention from Steve Lamacq lately, and it’s easy to see why. So much energy and freshness, and leaves me keen to hear more of this band. The distortion on the final notes is a ten second moment of lushness.

Finally my favourite track of the awesome foursome (although it was a close call), Bait, another lot proving that Southend-on-Sea is indeed the place to be, with the brilliant immediateness of  ‘I’m Still Here’. I’ve never heard Keith Harris and Timmy Mallet name-checked in a song with such dark and menacing undertones. “Timmy Mallet in a darkened wood, playing Mallet’s mallet with a pair of frightened rabbits” …. This is music that demands attention, with hypnotising repeated beats and lyrical class that you couldn’t make up (although obviously somebody very clever and talented has done just that!). For me, this is an obvious choice to add to an Irvine Welsh film soundtrack.

Bait - Press Shot 1 (Kana Waiwaiku).jpg

This EP is out on December 2nd (Christmas list anyone?!) in a limited edition of the purest snow white 12″ vinyl you’ll ever find yourself drooling over. Head over to Asylums HQ and get yourself pre-ordered before you miss out.


❤️ Cool Thing ❤️

Atagig @day three of the great escape festival 2016

Feel. Like. Absolute. Shit. Three and a half hours of sleep and then back up for the final day of bands, beards and blisteringly good new music. So after the first little rum and coke of the morning, and things are starting to feel ok again, it’s off to Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar to see Carnival Youth. It’s sticky, hot, froggy, and really dark and crowded, so I go for a tin of piston head lager cos it has a picture of a skull on the can.

Carnival Youth turn out to be a Latvian indie rock quartet, and provide me with a much needed wake up call for the rest of the day’s action.

A quick dash over to the Spiegeltent which is reminiscent of the wardrobe scene in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, going through a teeny little door into a cavernous wonderland. Sway Clarke, a Berlin based hip-hoppery singer from Canada, gives an impressively expletive filled set, interspersed with hilarious little anecdotal stories about life and love.


Sway Clarke


Sway Clarke captured by my best photographer

Following this it was over to catch some of LibertyPR’s showcase, very impressed by the tight, controlled set from Native People (and what lovely people they were!) and bedazzled by the sound of Mahalia, who only turned 18 last week, yet has the presence and the assured attitude of one who’s been performing for twenty years.


Native People



Just about time for my first hot dinner in three days before speeding back to The Fiddlers Elbow for another blinding Half Crown set, full of snake-hip moves, kids in the audience impressively rapping all the words along with frontman Louie, and finally a catch up dance with my gig buddy, who I had repeatedly missed seeing over the weekend.


Half Crown





And I’m so glad I did catch up with her again, as she gently persuaded me to trek all the way down to a seafront club to see one of her favourites, a Glaswegian band called White. Turned out to be one of my new favourites too, and not only for the boiler suit and glitter jackets combo, but also because the tunes were immediately and infectiously dancey. Losing yourself within amazing new music that you haven’t heard before, and probably wouldn’t have picked to see, is what The Great Escape is renowned for. Discovery, delight, and dancing. Not ashamed to say that this was my closing band of the festival, although the drinking went on for a few more hours after that.











Marijana and The Juke


Atagig @day two of the great escape festival 2016


Liquid breakfast

So day two of the festival and the only way forward is a prosecco breakfast. My sense of excitement has trebled as it’s Canada showcase day down at the Green Door Store and the first band of my morning is Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers. Free beer, free badges and an amazingly good set. Pretty awesome hugging too.


Ben Caplan


Canadians rock


All the oooohs

Next up today was a band from Poland called Sorry Boys. Loved the  look, it was all very floaty and lacy, and put me in mind of a Polish mixture of Bjork and Florence and the Machine.


What do you get when you cross Bjork and Florence?


Sorry Boys

Everything went a bit hazy after this, with an afternoon spent at the  Hotel Pelirocco for a Sofar Sounds session. And god what a session that was. Shots of chilli tequila, coffee tequila, jugs of cocktails of the dangerous variety which taste non-alcoholic but are actually about 90% proof. Can’t recommend this place highly enough, lovely atmosphere, lovely people and the sexiest rooms you’ve ever seen. When I win the lottery I’ll just move in for good I think.

It was then a quick alcohol fuelled dash over to The Old Market for Songhoy Blues. Some crazy shapes going on as usual from frontman and audience alike, and a great party feel to the gig. But with about twenty bands all playing at once, some hard decisions had to be made, so it was that I ended up actually sprinting down the streets of Brighton to get to the Half Crown gig.

Turned out to be a very good decision indeed, this was a set and a half, one of the best I’ve seen from them, and another band that just continually pulls out the stops to give great performances. They ended with a couple of well executed covers – ‘Seven nation army’ and ‘I bet that you look good on the dance-floor’ – both of which sent the whole room into one big frenzy.

And so my day two of bands drew to a close, although the partying carried on way into the night, and the daylight dawn chorus was chirping out just as my head hit the pillow. What a day!!

Atagig @Day One of The Great Escape 2016, Brighton

Brighton, I have never been more excited to be in you. This town already has so many special memories for me, and this weekend is all about storing up the next set. That’s if I can even remember my name after a full 12 hours of drinking and gigging yesterday…

Must admit The Great Escape festival fills me with dread/angst and excitement/delight in equal measures. Hundreds and hundreds of bands in a variety of venues spread over three days. With about 80 on my must-see list. Eeek.

Started off at midday on Thursday with a few rum and cokes, couple of beers, and pretty much did that on repeat all day til midnight, with a lovely espresso martini interlude mid afternoon.

As far as the bands went, I very quickly learnt the Great Escape way of doing things … i.e. if there are 7 bands you want to see all at the same time, don’t panic, just choose the one with the best jackets … failing that, choose the one that is closest in distance.

My first pick of day one was the awesome Jacko Hooper in The Fiddlers Elbow ‘Alternative Escape’     acoustic lineup. Despite being horribly bunged up with man flu (which he tried to cure with nicotine and alcohol 🍻) Jacko was outstanding and if that’s how he sounds when he’s under the weather I’d love to see him when he’s fit and well!


Jacko Hooper


Hopefully I didn’t catch the man flu


Midday drink selection

My first absolute definite need-to-see band of the festival were Asylums. With their debut album out in July, these guys have been consistently upping the ante each time I see them. For this early afternoon festival set to a jam packed top floor pub room, they continued to raise the bar. Totally rocked the place. Guitars in the audience, great moves, oh and that hair!!


Jazz from Asylums and his amazing bendable elbows


Three stripe crew

Later on in the evening with about four clashes, I played it cool and navigated my way to the nearest one. Hidden Charms had all the stylistic little touches, even down to the coordinating jackets and guitar straps, as well as the oh so casually tied neckerchief thing and the hair. Oh my god, the hair. I’d say long locks might be a thing for 2016. Hidden Charms also sent my fickleness for best drummers into overdrive… Wow he was good. Fantastic use of a maraca to play the drums!!


Hidden Charms


My new best drummer

Things started to get a little on the hazy side after this but I powered on through, heading off through the slight sea-mist to see Skinny Girl Diet. Note to self: some ear defenders would be useful next time. These girls are loud. Shrieksome and gorgeous all at once.


Skinny Girl Diet


My new new best drummer

Desperately in need of a bit of ear respite after this so it was off to see Ben Ottewell of Gomez fame closing the acoustic sessions back at The Fiddlers. Despite an awful background hub-bub of drunken chatter, he did his thing and did it beautifully with one of my favourite Gomez tunes ‘Get Miles’ sending me into oblivion. And sweetly soothing me with late night lullabies off to bed. Can’t wait for day two!!


Ben Ottewell (Gonez)