Tag Archives: Browse Mag Hull

Finding the Right Words | Hull Language Cafe

Hull, like most cities, is home to a mixture of people. And every other Wednesday evening there’s an event which invites many of these people to share in the delights of their varied personalities.

A year and a half ago, Hannah Shaw decided to start a Language Café in this city where so many cultures live side by side. She got the idea while travelling in Europe, an opportunity undertaken through ERASMUS.  Living abroad, these events seemed common, and offered a chance for someone new to the area, and not always confident in the native lingo, to meet new people and immerse themselves in both the language and lifestyle.

Upon her return, she realised that Hull didn’t have anything available to the general public in the way that they were so readily available in mainland Europe. So, she set one up.

IMG_1364 (800x531)

 

 “The cake helps!”

Originally held at Wagons on Princes Avenue, it then moved to the intimate Lydia’s Cakeaway on Newland.

The venue is quaint and simple, and what makes it truly splendid is that it is open solely for the purpose of the Language Café on these nights. From 7pm to 9pm, people from all over Hull come to drink tea, eat cake and discuss whatever they feel capable of in whichever language they choose. Whether you’re studying a language, reengaging with a lost language or are holidaying soon and want to learn some useful phrases, you are made welcome at this fortnightly gathering – which has been known to get very busy, as Hannah described nights where there had been standing room only and she was filled with guilt as people turned away.

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“Friendships have been made here.”

When you first enter, the room is flowing with conversation. Some you can pick up; other segments are lost in a language you may not know. You’re given a sticker on which is written the languages you wish to practise: some have one language, while others have two or three. There’s tea, coffee and delicious tempting cakes.

The crowd is one which quickly feels friendly. On my first Language Café night, I was quickly invited to join the main group. It was a quiet night – the university students on a break – and I was nervous about testing out my shaky language skills on strangers. But after a few minutes of chatting in English, we launched into a conversation in German, learning about each other in a language in which I was once fluent. I wasn’t anxious for long, and, although my German is very unstable, I found I was laughing at the jovial stories and enjoying the broken flow of words. We stumbled over vocabulary, we jumbled the grammar somewhat, but we successfully managed a conversation almost entirely in German.

And two Wednesdays later, I was filled with anticipation as I took those steps along Newland Avenue. The lure of using my language skills again stronger even than the desire for a cupcake of some ingenious design.

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“This is migration to Hull.”

There are people of all ages and nationalities who attend. When asked how many languages she’d encountered over the eighteen or so months, Hannah stumbled. She rattled them off: French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Persian, Thai… languages spoken by people from Europe, South America, Asia… A true mixture and a reflection of the diversity in this small city.

Most advertising is done word of mouth. There’s a Facebook page and events are set up in time for each event. There’s the board in Lydia’s with the necessary details. But from that point it is people like myself who have attended for a few nights and then shared their experience with friends and family.

We all share language. Not everyone has the desire to learn several, but what can be enjoyed on the night is this one thing which joins us all together. The crowd not only share their knowledge but also their experiences and their differing cultures. People gather with the confidence that they will not be judged, that we are all there to enjoy this same thing and learn with enthusiasm.

The next meeting is Wednesday 8th June.

 

Originally written for Browse Magazine, culture section.

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Humber Street Sesh – Decisions to be made…

Next weekend, on the first day of August, Hull Marina will be taken over by Humber Street Sesh. And with over 180 acts across twelve stages, how are you possibly going to plan your day and get to see everything?

If you’re me, and you’ve worked with several of these artists, you’re in a losing situation: there’s going to be a clash somewhere. But if you don’t have that issue, and you’re just out to soak up as many acts as possible, you may still consider planning your day beforehand.

I’m not saying that to make the most of HSS, you have to plan. No way! By all means, wandering rather aimlessly is a fantastic way to come across a diverse range of bands, solo singers and artists of all shades. By all means, discard the map, let your feet make the decisions. I’ve stumbled across some amazing bands this way: Streaming Lights, King No-One, LIFE

But, if you’re a little bit like me, then you’ll want to plan out at least some of the day.

Stages list
Stages list (click to enlarge)

So, my first suggestion is that you pick a genre. Let’s say you just want to see guitar-fuelled indie rock. It’s a popular genre for festivals. And Hull has loads of such performers. You’re going to want to start at the Hull College Group Newcomers Stage, with The Magdalenes kicking things off at 11:40. Stick around for a couple more acts – maybe have a picnic in front of the stage – because The Shed Club and Office Party are well worth your time. They’ll be the perfect indie warm up. Next, I’d advise the Alternative Main Stage: to be honest, to cover the sub-genres of indie, you want this to be your comfort zone of the festival. At 3pm, you’ve got BREEZE followed by Audio Subscene and Affairs. For the evening selection, head over to the Green Bricks Stage, where Rebel Sell perform at 5:30, followed by Magic Carpet Factory; two fantastic bands, who I certainly aim to see. You want to settle yourself here, or end up back at the Alternative Main Stage for the duration of the evening, taking in either headliners Age of Atlas or Black Delta Movement.

Stages list
Stages list (click to enlarge)

My second suggestion is pot luck. Pre-prepared pot luck. The danger here is that you could end up running from each stage throughout the day, therefore tiring your feet out more than needed and being unable to dance as much you may want to. However, if you take out the stages which really don’t interest you – genre-wise – then at least you know that each selection is likely to please. Pick a time and then pull a stage out of a hat. You could start off with a Break Dance Workshop at the Sesh Urban Quarter, taking in the fringe options at Corn Exchange with Mr Sneaks, and ending up at the Newcomers Stage with Coaves.

Third option: build the noise. Start off mellow, and meander the stages until you’re fuelled with a heavy, loud sound. Test all genres, and see a full range of acts. You could start at the Acoustic Marquee with Mark Rowland and The Dyr Sister, two fabulous storytellers. Then try out the Speak Easy Stage, with the charming Neil Thomas and Will and Holly (Little Weather) who are on at 3:40. Then check out the Newcomers Stage with the last performance from Babies followed by Fronteers. You’ll want to head off at this point, as Cannibal Animal follow – too loud and energetic for just yet – over to the Dead Bod Stage for the full band Crooked Weather and Quicksilver Kings. By this point, it’ll be turning to night-time and you’ll be up for a dance. You could stick around here, because the next few bands are a lot of fun, but for more noise you want to be heading over to the Alternative Main Stage for La Bête Blooms. You can pick a genre for the end of the night, deciding on the one which best suits your mood: Ska at the University of Hull Main Stage with The Talks, featuring Neville Staple; the Fruit Stage for some hairy punk sounds from Ming City Rockers; or popular local metal artists at the Rock & Metal Warehouse with The Colour Line.

Silent Disco HSS2015
Silent Disco (click to enlarge)

You could plan your day based on the artists you know and love. As I say, this would cause major issues for me; mainly at 10pm when I’m ready to park myself in front of my chosen headliner. Coaves, a band I’ve done loads of work with and who have the perfect summer sound, are taking over the Newcomers Stage. The Finest Hour, hailing from over the bridge, are at Corn Exchange. Danny Landau Band, another funky summer sound, are on the Dead Bod Stage. I might even decide to support my editor at Browse in the Silent Disco tent. But then there’d be the Black Delta Movement versus The Talks argument I’ve been having since I first saw the line-up, as they take to the Main and Alternative Main Stages.

Fact is, there is no perfect plan. Because on top of the music, there’s art, there’s activities for the kids, there’s generally just bumping into friends and socialising. So perhaps the wandering aimlessly option is perfectly valid.

That, or you select no more than five acts – allowing both an element of organisation and the freedom to find new and wonderful acts unseen at previous festivals. If you do this, I can highly suggest stopping at the Youth Stage, where you’ll find Yasmin Coe headlining at 8:30pm (an early night for the young performers) who is launching her single ‘Nothing Better’, collaborated with Endoflevelbaddie, at the festival.

Whatever your plan of action, the day aims to be fantastic. A family festival for the people by the people of Hull.

See you there.

Just in case you want to plan - a map of the area.
Just in case you want to plan – a map of the area. (click to enlarge)

13 Years of BBC Introducing Humberside

Browse Mag - BBC Intro feature Previously, I have described an evening spent at BBC Humberside radio. This was all in aid of research for a feature celebrating the radio station’s thirteenth anniversary.

So, in case you didn’t read the feature in Browse Magazine, here it is:

The Hull music scene is a vibrant one, with an effervescent assortment of talented individuals. And thirteen years ago, two organisations established themselves as a means of reflecting exactly this.

One was the Sesh, the other “Raw Talent” on BBC Radio Humberside, now known as BBC Introducing Humberside.

Back in 2002, there was an eruption of guitar bands in Hull, mirroring exactly what was happening in the rest of the UK. But there weren’t as many options for these bands wanting to spread their music as there is now. If you were unsigned and under the radar, then getting your music out on local or national radio could be difficult. People simply wanted to trust that you were good enough for the masses to listen to. And so, in our very city, it was decided that this was a platform our local artists needed.

Streaming Lights in the studio (photo by Chris Pepper)
Streaming Lights in the studio (photo by Chris Pepper)

Alan Raw, known by the BBC as a session drummer in various bands as well as having taught camera skills previously in the building, was selected as the ideal face for the show. Speaking to him about this time, he told me that he was “in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing”. Performing with a recognised band who John Peel had introducing onto London stages, he knew what it was like to both be under the radar and well and truly in sight. So, needing “someone who knew all the bands and didn’t mind telling people how much they loved them”, Alan was a natural fit for the bill.

Alan Raw, host of Raw Talent & BBC Introducing Humberside (photo by Chris Pepper)
Alan Raw, host of Raw Talent & BBC Introducing Humberside (photo by Chris Pepper)

Stepping out from behind the curtain that hangs before most drummers, he joined producer Katy Noone and John Anguish (who, in addition to Martha Mangan, still manages BBC Introducing Humberside) and “Raw Talent” was launched. He turned up on his first night with a suitcase, rescued from a skip outside, filled with vinyl and CDs and was faced with somebody on the desk who he was told to watch, copy and then take over.

And since then, he’s become a recognisable name not only in the Hull Music Scene, but further afield, as he hosts both the East and West Yorkshire shows.

In the past, there has been a stigma around Hull, which has led to bands not getting the recognition they deserve. Alan Raw described the music industry in contrast to that of football, where you have talent scouts constantly out looking for the next big thing. “In music, we’ve not had that structure… BBC Introducing is that structure.” And it started right here in Hull, and has established itself as something significant in the last 13 years. New talent can more readily make it on to bigger and better things, with the help and support of their local radio station.

In 2007 the BBC acknowledged a national need for the huge amount of new music being produced across the UK to be recognised. From Guernsey to Merseyside, from Ulster to Leicester, from Sheffield to Somerset, there is now somewhere for local bands to share their music and engage with a wider audience. Just as the Sesh in Hull provides a weekly live gig where local bands can play, BBC Radio was now providing a way in which anyone could tap in and see what was on offer.

Emma Fee in the Studio (photo by Chris Pepper)
Emma Fee in the Studio (photo by Chris Pepper)

In addition to the local scene, this also opens up the opportunity for Radio DJs to discuss the music in their area and promote them further afield. If a Hull band is touring and has a gig in Oxford (for example), then the sister show can also showcase them, expanding their profile and introducing them to an even wider audience. And the aspect of live music continues to flow through the veins of the organisation, with weekly live sessions and opportunities such as performing on the BBC Introducing stages as such events as Bestival and Glastonbury.

It all starts with the Uploader, an award-winning tool which means any band can create a profile, upload their music and direct it to their local BBC Introducing show. From this too, it can be shared with national shows at the click of a button by Katy, Alan or Martha. This is precisely how MOTHER gained airplay on Radio 1 and secured a slot at Leeds and Reading Festival. To be considered for any of these opportunities, you must start with the Uploader, which can be found on the webpage www.bbc.co.uk/introducing. There are currently over 5000 tracks in the local Uploader, with varied playlists being shared weekly.

I shall conclude with the words of Alan Raw, summarising exactly what our local BBC Introducing believes: “Hull bands are brilliant. And they need to get out and find out for themselves that they can go anywhere and easily be the best band on the bill.” One stepping stone to achieving this is getting that feature on their local BBC Introducing Humberside.


A massive thanks to Katy, Alan, Martha and John at BBC Introducing for welcoming Chris and myself into the studio, and to Streaming Lights and Emma Fee for agreeing to being photographed. As well as huge thanks to Chris (Jemstar Images) for taking fantastic images to accompany my feature. 

Young Jack

They may be young, but they’ve got some old-school funk in their sound.

Formed in 2012, Young Jack have taken the local music scene in their grasp, performing at a range of venues across the city, including both shopping centres, as well as further afield. Though they’d like you to think they are a band of lads named Jack, this is not quite the case – though, a band of jack the lads wouldn’t be far from the truth – they consist of lead singer Luke Bowe, lead guitarist Daniel Higgins, bassist Jack Rowland, drummer Jack Allbones and on percussion ‘Tommy Bongo’.

Influenced by the music they listened to with their parents, these young lads bring to the stage a more aged and classic sound: a soul and motown vibe mixed into the indie rock tunes. “Cliff Richard in his prime,” they tell me.

Young Jack cat

I last saw them perform as part of the West Park Party launch, in Princes Quay. With an audience predominantly of young girls eager to see Union J, their sound was something different to the others in the line-up. They brought a bit of classic rock to the stage, proving that your age does not define the way in which you should sound. And there wasn’t a person in the crowded shopping centre who didn’t turn their head. I was pleased to hear teenage girls saying they would check the lads out on their Facebook page.

Young Jack singles

Their previously released singles were all made possible with thanks to Warren Records, who the lads speak very highly of, thanking Stew Baxter and the team for all their effort and belief which kept the band motivated.

Now looking to take the next step, the band are breaking out of the UK with a gig overseas. Performing the top support slot for The Happy Mondays, Young Jack will be performing at the Rugby Spy Tens gig in Ibiza this June, a three-day event which involves forty teams from across the globe playing knockout tens rugby mixed with DJ sets and live music.


Young Jack featured on the cover of Browse Magazine Hull for issue 25.

Browse issue 25 cover

For up-to-date information, check the band out on Facebook and Twitter (@YoungJackHull), Soundcloud, or their website.

Yasmin Coe

Proving that you’re never too young to establish a music career is thirteen year-old Yasmin Coe. And with fans including Emma Fee, she’s making waves across the local scene.

Her natural flair for music saw her taking to any instrument on offer. She started piano lessons at six years old, as many young kids do, moving onto guitar at eight. Since then, she has also taken up violin and clarinet, as well as joining a choir. It was here that she truly found her passion for performing, singing alongside others equally enthusiastic. Even though her sound is very different to where she started, it is this which keeps her motivated. She described her belief that anyone should do what makes them happy. “If you love it … if you want to do it … “ then Yasmin says you should. Taking to the stage in 2011, she was rewarded for her singing talents at the Cottingham Music Festival. Her live debut was at Humber Street Sesh, following gigs at Freedom and Trinity Festival, where she was able to play to a wide range of people.

With broad influences, ranging from One Direction to the The Beatles, Yasmin sees her music as a release of emotions. She explained that “when something hits you hard … you can sit with your guitar for ages”. Writing her own songs from the experiences a young girl has, she treats her songwriting as a means of “[getting] the emotions out there”. New single ‘Leave and Let Go’ is about accepting the loss of those close to you, whether through death or a move to another country.  This gives her lyrics a power which draws you in, instantly identifying with the content.

On Saturday 7th March, her single launch takes place at That’s Entertainment, Prospect Centre. The first in-store promotion gig to happen in Hull since The Paddingtons performed at HMV, this offers anyone and everyone a chance to hear her perform live. Being a teenager, many of her fans are of a similar age, but her sound is something which will capture the attention of anyone wandering past on a busy weekend afternoon.

She described the store’s recent introduction of local music as “good that they’re encouraging local artists”. And though she’s a fan of current pop bands, such as One Direction, she recognises that there is often more talent in those performing for the love of it, than manufactured bands who often get more time in the spotlight. And this gig is a perfect example of what local musicians can offer their fans – intimate and friendly.

So, show your support for this talented young woman at 1pm next Saturday. Copies of her single will be available for purchase, which includes an additional track to that which will be available on ITunes.

I interviewed Yasmin as part of her cover feature in Browse Magazine: issue 024.

Folk In Hull – a celebration of local music

Songs are poems put to music; music is a story with no need for words.

Folk in Hull was a tale told in nine chapters, taking the audience on a journey of the city and its music makers.

Our initial narrators were Lyn Acton and Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Jones, who kept the audience engaged with their humorous conversation and endless jokes, bridging that gap from the stage. It was in quick succession that each band took their part, mere minutes as they bounced from one side of the stage to the other.

Farino (Paul Newbon Photography)
Farino (Paul Newbon Photography)

Up first were guitar-yielding duo Farino, who released their debut album in 2008. Influenced by any music genre which includes the guitar, you could hear the Latin vibe in their opening track. As is often the case, we launched straight into the music, with a fast-paced instrumental to which you could easily picture dancers strutting around the room to. Showcasing all that you can do with the instrument, the audience was swiftly warmed up, energised by the sound and eager to hear more.

Crooked Weather (Paul Newbon Photography)
Crooked Weather (Paul Newbon Photography)

Describing themselves as earthy, unruly and original, Crooked Weather were next on the bill. It was difficult to place them into a genre, having a folk-rock look and with more of a blues sound, this five-piece introduced the art of storytelling into the night. Performing four songs, one of which lead vocalist Will Bladen described as “the folkiest thing you’ll hear all evening”, they pulled the audience in by the heartstrings.

Returning the focus back to the instruments were RPM (which stands for the first initials of each member: Rob, Paul and Mike). With roots in improvisation, they performed a block of consistent powerful sound; the drums and bass getting your feet tapping, while the saxophone made you sway.

Pearl's Cab Ride (Paul Newbon Photography)
Pearl’s Cab Ride (Paul Newbon Photography)

The last band before the short interval was Lyn Acton’s own Pearl’s Cab Ride, ending the segment with the funky soul of this large band, meant that everyone was eager for more.

The mood was set by the musicians, bouncing as they did from one stage to another, building up that kaleidoscope of sentiment.

The highlights for me were yet to come, and they did not disappoint.

Hillbilly Troupe, feat. Martin 'Mad Dog' Jones (Paul Newbon Photography)
Hillbilly Troupe, feat. Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Jones (Paul Newbon Photography)

Hillbilly Troupe were the fifth act on stage, instantly raising the roof of Hull Truck. Performing without Mick McGarry, Lloyd Dobbs and Mick Murphy took on lead vocals while Martin Jones joined the ensemble to play trumpet during ‘I Wish There Was No Prisons’, during which Dobbs mimicked picking his pocket.

Heron String Quartet (Paul Newbon Photography)
Heron String Quartet (Paul Newbon Photography)

Bringing the volume down, but leaving the energy high, the Heron String Quartet took over with. The back curtain now lit up like the night sky, they performed three classical collaborations, taking us on a wordless journey into the night, which including one which mixed ‘Beethoven’s Fifth’ with The Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin’ USA’.

Micky Fegz - Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)
Micky Fegz – Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)

Next up were dark grunge artists Fire: The Unstoppable Force. I’ve seen these guys a lot recently, and I’ve been saying they’re suited for a stage like this one. And, as their name suggests, the stage was unable to stop them; Alfie Steel did not instantly pick up his guitar, instead opening with a wolf call before taking the stairs in order to penetrate the audience. I’ve always said they are fantastic performers, and they proved this with every movement, reminding us that we were sat in a theatre and that music is more than just noise made by the instruments. Anyone who hadn’t seen them before were quickly enthralled, with members standing between songs as they applauded.

Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)
Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)

Wedging together two of my favourite bands, Tom Skelly and The Salty Beards took up their instruments next. Opening with ‘Morning Sun’, they started softly, easing us in while focusing our attention on Skelly’s luscious voice. Never failing to capture my heart, the world around them dissipated, fading to insignificance; those people who’d distracted me before as they stood to top up their drinks no longer there. The Salty Beards filling the space between songs with sound, you were kept hanging on, your heart beating in time with the music, which grew in ferocity.

Bud Sugar (Paul Newbon Photography)
Bud Sugar (Paul Newbon Photography)

Concluding the night, popular boys Bud Sugar were described by Lyn Acton as “one of the hits of the festivals last year”, and the calls from the crowd certainly back this up. Mixing rap, reggae and just about anything which takes their fancy, the audience clapped along as they played, casting the music around the entire room.

An amazing variety of talent, covering every genre of music and building the performance into the sound, Folk in Hull demonstrated exactly what makes this city strong. A tale which took many turns, saw many characters and ended with a happily ever after.

I wrote two reviews for this event – this one featured in Browse Magazine. You can read the other over on the Yorkshire Gig Guide.

All photography by the wonderful Paul Newbon.

Showing Some Love For Coaves

I’ve been talking about these guys a lot recently. To anyone who’ll listen.

It’s not simply because I’ve been doing some work with them recently – they’ll feature on the cover of Browse Magazine this week. Quite honestly, I just have a lot to say about them.

Coaves at the Sesh  Photo by Luke Hallett
Coaves at the Sesh
Photo by Luke Hallett

Coaves are a band of four lively lads, who create a sunny rock sound which is quickly gets you moving. With three strong singers, their vocals are something completely different to what a lot of bands offer. Add to that their musical talents (we can’t forget Connor on drums, who Alan Raw described as one of the best drummers in Hull), and you’ve got an awful lot to shout about.

Tomorrow, they are hosting their single launch for new track ‘Waves’, held at the Adelphi and for a mere cost of £3. They admitted that the track sounds somewhat like another of their singles, ‘Change Your Mind’, but this one offers even more layers of sound and Jon Calvert, lead vocalist, has to work hard to sing some of the lines very quickly. Chatting with Alan Raw on BBC Introducing this Saturday, they noted the additional layer of sound through use of clapping on the track, with Calvert referring to himself as “singer, guitarist and clappist”. This is rather subtle on the track, but a great addition to their animated live sets.

Performing on BBC Introducing Humberside
Performing on BBC Introducing Humberside

Playing every gig like it’s packed, Coaves have gained a reputation for putting on a good show. Their last gig saw them supporting Pigeon Detectives, alongside The Hubbards, and they opened the night with a whirlwind of sound and enthusiasm.

It is their energetic style which gained my interest in the first place, and it is their flair and excitement that has me hooked. It’s not just on stage or in the studio that these guys demonstrate their enthusiasm; they’re just bouncing all the time. The banter during rehearsals is ongoing. During the set up at BBC Introducing, which I was fortunate enough to be witness to, Connor was granted several nicknames by the other lads – the teasing of good friends, which they were comfortable to share.

Attempting a serious pose
Attempting a serious pose

I was there as a member of Browse, interviewing the band for the cover feature, alongside one of our fantastic photographers, Chris Pepper, who had the task of taking several shots. Our main issue was simply to get them to take a serious shot. Chortling through the customary ‘stand in a row and look somewhat moody’ pose, we had to consider alternatives. It was neither Chris nor myself who guided this however, as Liam suggested they do a superhero shot and then they ended up behind the café counter, preparing to serve us imaginary drinks and soup.

Taking on a different role
Taking on a different role

I’m often asked who the best bands in Hull are. When I say that I’m a music writer, or mention Browse, it’s one of the first things people often question. My generic response is, “As with my students, I do not have favourites…” of which everyone knows is ridiculously sarcastic (I have favourite students, and I have favourite bands – I’m not great at hiding either of these facts). But then I’ll rush into a list of wonderful performers, and then into a list of those who are just simply wonderful. Not just for their music, but because their personalities shine.

I guess that was the purpose of this blog post. I should probably be writing a last minute preview for their single launch event. But as I sat to write their brief bio for Browse this week, I felt the urge to write more.

Coaves single launch

Why do I love Coaves? Why are they one of my top 10 Hull bands? Because they are everything I love about the Hull music scene. They’re lively lads with infinite enthusiasm, who take their music seriously but not themselves. They’re a good laugh to be around, making time slip quickly by as you join in with the silly moment which arise around them. They’re genuinely good guys who have a passion and a spirit which deserves to see them reaching those high goals.

So, a final plug for tomorrow’s event: for £3 you get a night of fantastic music from three fantastic bands, as well as free download of their new single ‘Waves’ exclusively released to those who attend.

And a final word: if you haven’t listened to their music yet, get on it!

Browse Mag Sessions #2: NYE

This review requires a forewarning: I rarely drink alcohol but, as New Years is such a special occasion, I hit the cocktails in a successive fashion. Therefore, any comments may not be an entirely unexaggerated reflection of the night.

 

My friends - Lol and Hev
My friends – Lol and Hev

We started the night early – my friends Hev, Lol and me – supping concoctions down Newland Aveneue. Each sampling a pink cocktail in Roots, adding to the mixture a flaming Zombie, containing three types of rum and topped with a flaming wedge of lime.

A selection of pink cocktails, in Roots
A selection of pink cocktails, in Roots

We then headed over to El Chupito’s for some more. It was here I had to admit that I am the most awkward of customers when ordering cocktails. Unable to drink any citric fruit (the reaction is not a pretty one), it often leaves me with a very poor selection from which to choose from. The waiter who served us was merry about this, offering the fall-back option of a Woo Woo while my friends tasted daiquiris. More entertaining than the beverages was the artwork, of which my creative friends took many pictures of from inside the eating area and the wonderfully decorated toilets, and the waiter himself, who used our phones to take selfies and asking about our night.

We then headed over to Piper, where we tried out their Jägermeister mixes. It’s not my spirit of choice, but I was excited to see something on the menu which didn’t contain a single toxic ingredient – their take on a Black Forest Gateaux. I could taste the Jägermeister, but I liked it. We were merry as we listened to Steve Cobby’s set, the drinks warming us up and the music keeping us active. My friends asked about the bands, and we played Spot The Bobble Hat / Duffel Coat, a game which we had made up the previous night when Lol had commented on their frequency in Hull.

Fronteers
Fronteers

The first band – Fronteers – stepped up onto the stage, and we shuffled our way onto the dancefloor to enjoy the live set. They performed a mixture of cover songs and their own, including new track ‘Neon Tribe’ which is available from 6th January. Playing covers meant that people knew the lyrics and were able to join in, dancing to songs by The Beatles and The Vaccines, becoming comfortable with the band’s sound when they performed their own tunes.

Considering they are new to the stage, their confidence shone through. With two frontmen, both taking on lead vocals and chatting with the crowd, Andy Towse and James Taylor discussed their music with their audience. They’ve got a lot to learn, but for a first gig I was really impressed. Especially when most of the band put down their instruments, and left Towse to perform solo. It was endearing to see this young lad take to such a large stage and hold the attention of the audience, scattered about the busy room.

Audio Subscene
Audio Subscene

Audio Subscene followed, exuding confidence as they called out to the crowd to come forward. It was during their set that the room filled, drawn forward by the music and conversation from Nick McNee and Stuart Crouch. Their guitar-lead indie sound is one which you can comfortably connect with, with catchy lyrics and a sharp bass beat. Nick McNee is an energetic frontman, emitting more power into the audience. Playing their popular tunes, including the title song of their new EP ‘Mindblower’, which is available to preorder on ITunes, people were tapping their feet and moving to the sound. The festive energy was strong, as the minutes ticked past the eleventh hour.

Cobby returned to the decks in the lead up to midnight, with more people taking themselves onto the dancefloor, which filled in the minutes leading up to 2015.

The boys from Audio Subscene crowded around the DJ desk, counting down those significant numbers. 5…4…3…2… a loud crash of noise and a tumbling of glittering confetti. The dancefloor erupted with hugs and well-wishes, as all around the room people chatted about their dreams for the new year.

The dancefloor continued to move, with people swaying to and from the bar. My friends and I joined the waves, chatting with people around the room and enjoying the friendly atmosphere.

Mike White on the DJ Decks
Mike White on the DJ Decks

Just before 1am, the various Bump! DJs took to the decks, starting with Browse editor Mike White who mixed sounds with animated gestures. It was about this time of the night that I realised my energy was waning. After attending gigs for the three nights previous, the minutes ticking past seemed long and difficult. Usually, I’d have been happy to continue, but my friends and I had to admit defeat and head out of the door.

I’ve always been told to start the year as you’d wish it to continue, so naturally I went in support of the Browse Magazine and the musicians we work with. I’ll return to not drinking alcohol in the excess I did that night, but have already marked my new calendar with dates of gigs. The year started with positivity, an energetic blast of glittering excitement. So, all signs point to 2015 being a pretty good year.

Top 5 Browse Moments of 2014

This year has been a year of changes. A year where bridges have been mended and new friendships forged. I started a new school and joined the team of Browse Magazine.

Now, just before I look forward to the exciting newness of 2015, I’m going to look back over the last few months of 2014 – my time with Browse and the wonderful opportunities I’ve had while being a part of the team.

Photo by Luke Hallett
Photo by Luke Hallett

It started with Issue 004: MOTHER when I was asked to review the band COAVES as part of the weekly Sesh review. Three reviewers reviewing three bands; I was glad to get these guys. Their music is that wonderful mixture of sunny tunes, guitar-lead instrumentals and copious amounts of talent. Three confident singers, they come together to produce a sublime sound, and they’re never scared to try something new and admit when something doesn’t work.

Recently, I’ve been doing some more work with COAVES, who have competed in the Scunthorpe Rock Open and supported Pigeon Detectives at Fruit, and will be starting the year working with the band to promote their single ‘Waves’. They are certainly ones to look out for.

Photo by Stew Baxter, Warren Records
Photo by Stew Baxter, Warren Records

Another of my favourite Hull bands is LIFE, who featured on the front cover of issue 009. Published the same night as they performed with Kaiser Chiefs for the Adelphi 30 celebrations, we stated that that was the reason for featuring them – Black Delta Movement had received loads of press from the Hull Daily Mail, so we felt LIFE deserved a little bit too. In truth, our editor decided that if we got them in then Meg and I might stop going on about them so much. As if!

So, on top of reviewing them at the Adelphi 30 gig, Meg and I got to interview lead singer Mez and his guitarist brother Mick: our first videoed interview for the magazine. We’d both met them before at Press Pack and the interview felt much more like a chat than a Q&A, which was the perfect way to start off this additional role for the mag. We were both glad that there wasn’t the room for us to feature on the screen – the confidence for this would come later…

The Talks @ Welly

As time has progressed, I’ve taken on more and more at Browse. But issue 013 (unlucky for some) was one I felt particularly proud of. Our cover band were The Talks, an amazing ska band who I realised I had first seen perform on an episode of Hollyoaks! Working hard over the half term, I contacted the band for a text interview while they were touring Europe for their album launch, as well as writing the bio, an album review and then headed out on a schoolnight to review their hometown gig at the Welly. It was fantastic to work with them, pestering them to meet deadlines and then hugging a very sweaty Pat at the end of their gig.

And their album is one I play over and over. It’s fantastic for that Friday night feeling, when you’re physically destroyed after the working week but emotionally ready to go out and party for the weekend. Energetic tunes with meaningful lyrics – it’s easy to miss the message within the words, but you should listen to them carefully the next time you get a chance.

Photo by Chris Pepper
Photo by Chris Pepper

This leads me directly into the first time I featured on a video interview. As with issue 013, I took on writing the main features of issue 016: Black Delta Movement. Having annoyed myself at being too busy to interview Hillbilly Troupe in the previous issue, I was excited to be working with this band. I’d reviewed them as part of many of the festivals, the Adelphi 30 gig and as part of Hulloween, but I’d never reviewed them as the focal feature.

I’ve often felt the disadvantage of not being born and bred in Hull. I didn’t go to school with any member of the bands in the area – I’ve taught a couple – and often my face is just one of many in a crowd. But these lads didn’t care about that. Bass player Liam informed me that his mum reads all my stuff, and the pre-interview chat was comfortable and relaxed.

My confidence soared from this point; not just on-screen but generally in myself. I was at the point where I knew people were reading my stuff and offering me some positive feedback (always lovely to hear) and I was taking on more and more opportunities, putting myself out there and becoming a firm feature within the magazine.

Dan Mawer - La Bete Blooms

To pick a final feature is actually the hardest of them all. But I went with another band who I have interviewed and reviewed, now a couple of times. This feature was actually all a bit last minute for me. For issue 012, I met up with La Bête Blooms for a short video interview and a review of their EP launch at Fruit. Nobody else was free to interview, so I agreed. This was fine, all planned and going as expected. That was until I was informed that the person reviewing wasn’t able to make it. I turned to Luke, our photographer, and sagged at the concept of the late night before school. But I was there and it was due to finish before midnight – not too late.

I had listened to their tracks as part of the research for the interview, so I had an idea of what to expect. They’d mentioned that their live sound was quite different to their mastered and recorded stuff. But I was not in any way prepared for what I experienced in the intimate back room of Fruit. I commented that there is a beast within the band, and I stand by that. Dan Mawer is one of the nicest guys I have ever met: he never misses the chance to say hello if you’re in the same room as him, he always asks how the mag is doing, and his smile is the most positively charming sight you’ll see at the Sesh on a Tuesday. Then you throw a guitar his way and get him on that stage and you’re blinded by the transformation. That smile will be there at the start, but a guitar solo later and he is smashing the place up. I was amazed to see every mic stand upturned by the end of the set, and recall rushing home to write up my notes so that the review included everything I took from my first La Bête Blooms experience.

Four months of working for the magazine, now I can’t imagine my life without at least one gig a week and lists of artists I need to contact. My CD collection has taken on a strong Hull accent. My friends fall into two categories: those I gig with and those who listen to my constant reviews of gigs (even if they’ve just read it online).

I’ve always said you should start the year as you mean to go on. And so Browse Mag Sessions #2: NYE is the place I will be: alongside friends old and new, amidst writers, photographers, musicians and readers.

2015 sees a lot of new starts for me, but being a part of Browse is something I am pleased to say will continue. Here’s to more exciting experiences.

New Year’s Eve in Hull

Still got no idea what you’re doing for New Years? With only just over a week to go, you need to be considering which ticket offers you the most for your money. Which event will offer you with the most explosive entry into 2015?

Here are the best three offers I could find, grouped together for your convenience.

Pros and Cons… well, there’s always a few of them.

Option #1: NYE at The Polar Bear

Polar Bear

With the Onion Club creating a mixed set of funk, jazz and soul, hosts of the weekly Sesh are proposing a very entertaining night. Resident DJs, if you’ve been to one of the events before, you’ll know it’s a funky night of vintage and sounds and music which gets you into a funky groove.

Pro: this is the cheapest of the nights out. Tickets are a mere fiver, which includes a free glass of fizz, and drinks at The Polar Bear are not overpriced. You can pick them up from the bar.

Con: no live music.

Option #2: Frootenanny

Frootenanny

A fabulous wordplay in the popular Hootenanny celebrations of New Year’s Eve, I was instinctively drawn in. Add to that a fantastic line-up and the ability to walk to and from the venue (perhaps not a pro for yourselves, but certainly for me), and I’ll struggle to find a con.

An 18+ event which features a mixture of musical sounds, there’s something for everyone. A mash-up of easy listening from Joe Duncan and band, pop-rap from popular Nineties Boy, indie guitar tunes from The Holy Orders, punk-based ska from the electrifying Counting Coins, all topped off with a DJ set from the amazing Endoflevelbaddie.

Pro: so many amazing acts for a wonderful £6 (advance tickets are available from Hull Box Office).

Con: When really busy, Fruit can get a bit too much for me. People can just be too rude for such confined spaces. And I don’t want to see the New Year in covered in someone else’s booze and wishing to punch everyone who finds the need to walk between every conversation I’m having. Don’t get me wrong, I love the venue and I’ve never been disappointed at a gig there, but I do get frustrated with a significant amount of people who attend.

 

Option #3: Browse Mag Sessions #2: NYE

Browse Mag Sessions

Okay, okay, so it’s kind of obvious which of the three options I have offered you, I will be attending. But, hear me out.

The second instalment from Browse Magazine sees two bands and six DJs, offering a full bag of treats. Audio Subscene are headlining with Fronteers supporting: both offering indie tunes, one band quite new to the scene while the other has a secure following.

With six DJs, including a set from our charming editor Mike White, there will be music until 4 in the morning. Most exciting though, is the exclusive set from Steve Cobby, of Fila Brazillia fame. Truly a star-studded collection of local musicians.

A little more pricey than the other events – £7 for advance tickets available from here or £10 otd – we are offering a huge selection.

Pro: the platter of goodies I’ve already mentioned – which also features DJs Mike White, Tom Gibbins, Phil Green, Corey Barker and Alex Robinson.

Con: A few people have commented that they’d prefer 6 bands and 2 DJs. Initially, I agreed, but the DJs we have lined up are fantastic, and will ensure an energetic night of great music from Hull and beyond.

And finally, a few reminders.

Wherever you choose to spend New Year’s Eve, drink safely and consider those around you. Prebook that taxi and ensure nobody is left out in the cold. Remember, the way you start the year sets the year in motion!

Happy partying people.