Christmas Come Early with Cattle and Cane

In a year when so much has gone wrong for so many there has been a beacon of hope shining like a Wilton fare stack from the Tees, the very wonderful Cattle and Cane. On Thursday night they chose to give out their Christmas presents early when they invited Teesside to a special festive party at The Empire. The grand old Victorian theatre has seen many illustrious performers over the years but the Hammill family (and friends) brought the “snow” and the house down on a night and an event that warmed the hearts and minds of an enraptured capacity crowd.

cattleandcane-frontTo sell out the 1100 capacity venue is no mean feat and testament to the popularity of a band that have inspired Teesside and now successfully taken their musical message out on a debut national headline tour. The home fires were burning for Cattle and Cane in the gorgeously tinsel-ated and fairy lit gilding of the old Empire. The band sparkled sumptuously themselves.

Cattle and Cane are now poised like the giant Christmas tree suspended from the ceiling of The Empire, poised to kick on nationally and internationally next year when their second album should propel them onwards and upwards. But first came the Christmas party and fellow T-T-Teessiders Cape Cub kicked things off in style and pop panache.

It is a polished sound, with exhilarating, high wire guitar, propelling the big, big choruses up beyond that Christmas tree to the gods. The marvellously christened Chas Male has a soaraway voice to cap it all off. The sound is maybe epitomised by the anthemic single All I Need and the moody, magnificent Keep Me In My Mind. The line from the latter “take me north bound back to home,” seemed to sum up the mood.

capecubIt was Santa hats and Boro shirts on for a big festive finale; Stay Another Day seemed to stay about hundred days at number one after Christmas for East 17. It warmed us up nicely.

While Cattle and Cane were wired for sound up on stage, below on the totally rammed dance-floor there was a roar, flutter and flurry of anticipation and excitement. Helen Hammill was on lead vocals to start off. This is an exciting time to see a band in transition, between local and (inter)national, between first and second albums and perhaps edging from folk to more pop orientated. There was an even a different set up on stage with Fran Hammill taking over on keyboards, a new electric guitarist as well as an additional percussionist to beef out the sound and Helen to the fore on hands free vocals alongside Joe on acoustic and vocals.

The band wasted no time in serving up recent mouth watering single 7 Hours with its strident harmonies and smooth pop stylings. Joe’s awesomely crafted love song to the Cleveland Hills already sounds like it will be a highlight of next year’s second album.

cattleandcaneIt has some of the same burning local and vocal passion as the stirring Infant Hercules, which Joe began solo before the band joined in to the rousing finale message of hope.

Then came the first spine tingling moment as the band embarked on a gorgeous rendition of the timeless classic of White Christmas the snow came tumbling down from the heavens onto the audience. Wow.

We were all suitably festive now and no one at all held back from a massive Teesside singalong into Sold My Soul, an early standard by the band from what must be six or so years ago now. Pull Down The Moon received the same rapturous response. Fran reverted to (slide) guitar for another old favourite, The Poacher. For Come Home it felt like we were all family.

The next single Saviour was given its Teesside premier and it was very much a thumbs up from the crowd.

cattleandcane2-snowThe audience demanded encores. What seasonal delights would they stand and deliver? Except for Fran of course still sitting on ceremony. It was a fantastically festive Feed The World with snow cascading down once again and Cape Cub up alongside them belting out the Bono high bits. More singalong, organised this time by Joe for the bouncy Fool For You. In fact the singalong continued well after the song was completed and so there was absolutely no getting away from Cattle and Cane returning again for yet another encore.

cattleandcaneandcapecubA special night then as Cattle and Cane served up a slice of musical magic at Christmas.

words Robert Nichols – photos Tracy Hyman

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James Kruman – Twitch Album Launch

Tomorrow night (Saturday 10th December) is a proud night for Teesside troubadour, James Kruman, it marks the launch of his debut album, Twitch at The Westgarth Social Club. If ever there was an album launch worthy of your support then this is it. An outstanding singer songwriter on the local scene and beyond over the last few years James has released one of the albums of the year in Twitch.

james-krumanThey say to never judge a book by its cover he cover of the album but from its enigmatic scientific diagram drawn on a black surround it is quite clear that Twitch is no ordinary affair. This is a debut full of dark mystery and rare beauty. It demands your full attention. There are shades and layers of meaning here contained within songs that almost entice you in and trap you with deadly venus fly trap barbs. Either the songs devour you whole or you are caught up in their spell. I haven’t put the thing down since it arrived through the post a couple of weeks back.

I was so intrigued that I contacted James to ask him a few questions regarding the album, his music and what we might expect from this weekend’s launch. He is always a compelling performer, with his distinct look, and a voice that harks back to 60s folk and psychedelia and yet is very much of the here and now.

Backed up by the irresistible Broken Broadcast and Hartlepool’s Bob Dylan, Danny Devon this should be an amazing show to end the year.

You  can a preview of the album here on James bandcamp account.

So, here are a few questions and some amazingly insightful answers from James.

Q: You go for a very big start with Barrel Bomb – did you want to take us into the deep end straight away?

JK: I identified Barrel Bomb as being the biggest indicator of how my music has evolved over the last few years, and it seemed important to let the audience know this from the start. I think the mood in Barrel bomb encapsulates the overall mood of the album and I too think that this was important to let the audience know.

Q: I hear hints of Dylan, Donovan and maybe Syd Barrett and psychedelia in your work – are you drawn to great and maybe off the wall song writers?

JK: Bob Dylan was probably the catalyst in my need and obsession to first write music. I have always been drawn to the abstract images portrayed by those artists.

Q: There is a dark beauty to the album Twitch – even the cover – do you feel drawn to a darkside?

JK: I have always been drawn more to the macabre, depressive elements of the human existence. I feel I write more fluently about the dark existence that one can feel.

Q: Your songs draw the listener into great ideas, words and stories. Do you enjoy storytelling in your work?

JK: It’s great that I have been asked this again, because I feel like my songs are far too abstract and narratively warped to tell a story. I genuinely love the way that people take a story from them as it breads another dimension in the song that even I did not realise..

Q: You are hard to pigeon hole but I would say that you like to take an oblique, unusual angle on things, maybe from a long way above the ground. Is that fair?

JK: I think that is fair indeed. I have always felt like an outsider, and I wish to stay an outsider! I do indeed prefer to create the more unusual angle on themes. If I think a particular lyric is too straight and literal I try my best to distort it. I guess it’s like throwing a tin of paint over a blue print.

Q: This is a departure at times from your acoustic live persona did you enjoy working with different instruments and production?

JK: I indeed enjoyed the departure from my conventional set up, but more so, this departure was overtly necessary to create the soundscapes and propel the intended moods to the level that fit the content of each song.

Q: What was the process like of writing, recording etc?

JK: I knew it was time to make the album, I had been toying with ideas of sounds and lyrics for a while and these are the bulk of Twitch. The whole album was recorded in my damp spare bedroom. It used to get so cold in there you could see my breath bouncing off the microphone. I hope this can be imagined in many of the songs, its certainly a winter album! I discovered a new approach to writing music for this album in that in some of the songs on Twitch the music came first and they were left baron and without lyrics for a great while. I have never previously considered myself a musician before as I felt my lyrics were the real fundamental of the song, and the music came second.

Q: There are diagrams and gadgetry on the cover and in the songs, are batteries included in this package?

JK: The Diagrams were re-designed from an old book I found in my parents attic. It was called something like ‘The Young Engineer’, and it was presented to my father in the 1950’s for an achievement at school. I was fascinated by the beauty of the line drawings and how archaic the language was.

Q: Please say anything you want about the album and your recorded work in general, I think you should be very proud of such a great piece of work. Tell us a bit about your album launch and what we might expect from you and the other artists?

JK: The ‘Twitch’ album if nothing else is a mirror image of where I am now in my creative life. I am truly excited for the album launch, it has been a work in progress for the last 9 months, and it is the cause of a worsening insomnia that I have developed recently! I feel privileged to have the Broken Broadcast on the same bill. The Broken Broadcast have a sound and atmosphere that I have not heard elsewhere, they are my favourite band in Teesside, after Journey South. Danny Devon is opening the show, and I have become close with Danny over the last couple of years. His raw live energy coupled with his real life poignant folk songs will be the perfect start to the evening.

James Kruman releases his debut Album called Twitch on Saturday (10th December) at Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough.
Ably supporting James are
The Broken Broadcast and Danny Devon

Tickets £5.50/5.00

Buy Tickets seetickets

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GEORGIE at The Empire

Exciting, emerging rock’n’soul singer-songwriter Georgie is heading to Middlesbrough Empire tomorrow evening (Wednesday 7th December) supporting the wonderful Blossoms.

Her stunning debut single Company of Thieves has certainly been turning heads and ears inside out. Tipped to be a new soul sensation, Georgie has been snapped up by Columbia records where she has been working with the excellent Matthew E White – surely one to watch for 2017! You can watch her tomorrow night at The Empire supporting Blossoms.

georgieStockport indie band Blossoms were on the BBC’s Sound Of new music list for 2016. They supported Stone Roses in their gig at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, being hand picked by Roses singer Ian Brown, a fan of the band. Cover stars of the NME in August this tour was pretty much sold out as soon as it was announced. That is how red hot they are at present.

Back to Georgie, she is a twenty-one year old singer-songwriter, a distinctly new and unique talent with an incredibly rich, dynamic and expressive voice. She hails from Mansfield, home of former Charlton’s Champions Boro skipper, Stuart Boam, 6 foot 2, eyes of blue…

Please have a look as well as listen to this “striking” video to Georgie’s debut single Company of Thieves HERE

“Company of Thieves” was produced by studio wizard Matthew E White at Spacebomb studios in Virginia. He originally heard Georgie on a trip to the UK and instantly wanted to work with her. A few phone calls later and Georgie was on her way to Virginia and came back with four stunning tracks, with “Company Of Thieves” the first to emerge.
Georgie’s gritty northern sensibility with its searingly honest and fiery songwriting perfectly complement the brilliant, soulful production that comes from Spacebomb’s in-house band on “Company Of Thieves.”

With more from this session to come, it sets Georgie apart from the crowd instantly. Matthew E White has himself said that the production on “Company of Thieves” owes a debt to “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”. His label Spacebomb will be releasing the track in the US.
Live, Georgie has already got a performance at Glastonbury under her belt, with the BBC marking her out as one of the acts to watch over the weekend. She also appeared at the Great Escape in Brighton earlier this year.

Georgie has been touring throughout the UK with Jake Bugg and Blossoms, two of the outstanding gig tours of the autumn.

Georgie returns to Spacebomb in the New Year to finish what will become her debut album.

“With a voice like a cup of freshly brewed black coffee, Georgie is an inebriating presence, backed here by devious basslines and subtle electronic nuances.” – STEREOGUM

“A BBC Introducing artist not to be missed.” BBC INTRODUCING

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Gengahr at the Westgarth

Bringing their spectral indie pop to the Westgarth tonight – GENGAHR – announce their return to the live stage with a slew of intimate UK shows, where is more intimate and atmospheric than our very own Westgarth Social Club.

The Westgarth venue has recently brought you some musical giants in Pete Wylie and Jim Bob of Carter USM and also rising stars Shame. It will be busy again on Saturday with the third Riverside Rebellion punk and post punk all dayer headlined by The Vibrators.

Local promoters Pay For The Piano and The Kids Are Solid Gold are promoting this show. Whenever these guys are involved there invariably a stamp of quality. When they come together then you know it is something not to be missed.

But for tonight. A great gig and a very special show from a band that you would normally have to travel to see in a far bigger auditorium. Looming from the shadows with a clutch of new songs, the four piece Gengahr will be previewing new material penned for their highly anticipated follow-up album at some of the country’s finest small venues on this new run of dates.

gengahrGengahr kicked off the tour at Sheffield’s Bungalow & Bears on 16th November they will wind up at Manchester’s The Deaf Institute on the 8th December, stopping off at a total of 19 town and cities in-between.

The North London band have spent the latter part of 2016 with their heads down, writing and recording album #2.

As vocalist Felix Bushe from Gengahr reveals:

“Since touring the UK last year we’ve been writing and recording our next album. We’ve broken things up a little by performing at a few festivals and touring Europe with Wolf Alice but by and large we’ve been focused on making LP 2.”

Whilst the release date of the new album still very much to-be-confirmed, the tonight’s show will offer a tantalising first taste of the new material to come.

Giving insight into what to expect from forthcoming shows Felix adds:

“After finishing the record we wanted to get out on the road and start to get our heads around the new songs as soon as possible and begin to get our heads around the new songs and see how they translate live. It’s also going to be a great opportunity to play in some of the cities we didn’t make it out to last year. A lot of these shows are going to be in fairly intimate settings so we are going to take this opportunity to give a glimpse at what’s to come next from us. We will playing a lot of new material at these shows and we are very excited to see how everyone will react!”

Gengahr’s much anticipated new album will follow their 2015 debut release: ‘A Dream Outside’.

Featuring the singles ‘She’s A Witch’, ‘Heroine’ and ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’  – each of which gained heavy radio rotation on BBC 6 Music and XFM – the band’s debut album was released via independent super-label Transgressive to critical acclaim.

Garnering positive reviews across the board in the UK press from the likes of NME, Clash, The Guardian, Line Of Best Fit and DIY who hailed the record as ‘A remarkable debut’ (5/5), and sparking a similar chain reaction in Europe and beyond; demand for ‘A Dream Outside’ catapulted the four piece headlong into an intense touring schedule across the globe.

Selling out their own 2015 headline tour (including a huge show at the London Scala), Gengahr established their thrilling live reputation with festival-winning performances Reading and Leeds, Latitude and Glastonbury.

Propelled by their success on home turf, Gengahr’s surreal indie sound has been lapped up far and wide. From scoring invitations to some of Europe’s best annual bashes (Frequency in Austria, Pukkelpop and Best Kept Secret in Holland, Hurricane + Southside in Germany), a headline tour of Down Under, and world-wide tours with Wolf Alice, Ezra Furman and Alt-J; Gengahr are quickly becoming a global phenomenon.

With new material ready and waiting, Gengahr are preparing to open an all-new and exciting chapter in 2017….

Here is sneak preview – LISTEN TO ‘SHE’S A WITCH‘ – it sounds to me like something that could have been on the Wickerman soundtrack.

‘Peaceful Melodies you’ll want to wallow in for hours’ NME

‘Gengahr are a summer romance set to last.’ Line Of Best Fit

‘A joy to listen to. This is savvy, intelligent music.’ Clash

See Genghar this evening supported by Hartlepool melodic guitar brands Para Alta and Plaza.

Doors 7.70pm Curfew 11pm. Tickets £11.

 

 

 

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7 Hours With Cattle and Cane

I didn’t quite spend 7 hours in the company of Cattle and Cane singer and songwriter, Joe Hammill but after listening to the latest single I messaged him with a few questions for the band. With a big Christmas concert in the offing and the single taster for a new album next year I wondered how the band looked back on the last twelve months and how they were looking forward to big times ahead. Oh and you know me I couldn’t resist dropping a Boro question in there as well.

Led by siblings Joe and Helen Hammill, Cattle & Cane’s new single 7 Hours is the first taste of what’s to come from the band’s brand new album, which is all set for release in early Spring 2017. You can place a pre-order here via PledgeMusic:

www.pledgemusic.com/projects/cattle-and-cane-album-two

The second album has been produced and mixed by Luuk Cox at ICP Studios in Brussels and mastered by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road Studios in London.

7 Hours showcases Helen and Joe’s finely crafted indie-pop and provides the perfect platform for the kind of soaring harmonies which are truly synonymous with family.

In between studio sessions, Cattle & Cane have spent the past few months performing at acclaimed tastemaker events such as Reeperbahn Festival, Live At Leeds and Evolution Emerging, as well as at some of the UK’s finest boutique festivals including Cornbury, Deer Shed and Lindisfarne. 2016 has also seen the band tour abroad for the first time, with shows in Germany, Malta and Belgium.

The band’s final gig of the year is also their biggest headline show to date – at the 1200 capacity Middlesbrough Empire on Thursday 22nd December. Support comes from Cape Cub and tickets are on-sale now from See Tickets:

www.seetickets.com/event/cattle-cane/the-empire/966439

cattle-and-cane-16Q: It is a great strident pop sound to the new single 7 Hours – you have moved a long way from the early folk roots – but you have kept the energy and invention – are we seeing a glimpse of a new direction here?

Joe: Cheers Rob. We made the decision to make a different sounding album. It came about by a lot of co-writing with people over the last year or so, which has changed how I approach and write songs. Sometimes I get sent backing tracks from DJ’s or artists that need a top-line writing for it. That really helps open up the whole process for me as writer. So I’ve been learning many different approaches to writing songs rather than just sitting down with an acoustic guitar (which still works by the way).

Q: I love the harmony/fusion between your voices on this single – is this something you arrived at in the studio?

Joe: It’s definitely a mixture. Helen has a great knack of being able to follow my melody lines (even if it’s the first time she’s heard the song) – some weird sibling telepathy thing! But in the studio, working with Luuk, we will come up with harmonies too.

Q: You record in Belgium now and mix in Malta I think – it must have been amazing expanding your musical outlook like that?

Joe: Yeah, we signed a publishing deal in Belgium which has put us in touch with a lot of great writers and producers out here. It’s nice to base yourself in a different country for a while. It definitely helps the creative process!

Q: 7 Hours is really catchy but has a tension in the sound and lyrics – instant then but also leaves an after taste, so to speak. Are you pleased by just how well it has been received critically and by the listeners?

Joe: Yeah we’re really pleased with the reception for the track. I suppose it’s a very different sounding song than our previous stuff. Dermot O’Leary and Janice Long at Radio 2 are supporting it, which is always good! And there’s been a lot of good blog coverage for it too which is nice.

Q: UK tour, Festivals and European tours and recording – 2016 has been a big year for Cattle and Cane hasn’t it?

Joe: I’ve loved 2016 (apart from the referendums/elections and the passing of loads of legends). We’ve played some great festivals, some shows in Belgium and Germany, and a UK tour. I suppose that’s helped gain new fans. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the writing and recording most of all – that’s what I enjoy most. The new album sees Helen singing 4 or 5 lead songs, and 2 of them are going to be singles. Writing songs knowing other people are going to sing them is a much more relaxing process I find!

cattle-and-cane-7-hoursQ: Crowd funding your music releases must really allow you to get closer to your fans as well as so importantly providing the money upfront?

Joe: Yeah absolutely. Lots of bands are doing it – and I think it’s kind of necessary in the music industry today for a lot of bands and artists. I think survival is so heavily centred on a good fan-base. It’s the crux of it all really – if you can you get people out the house and come to a gig then you’re winning.

Pledge has helped us so much with our second album. Bloody legends.

Q: When are you looking at for the 2nd album release?

Joe: TBC but sometime in the spring I’d imagine!

Q: Are you looking forward to the Christmas show at the Empire – should be a great atmosphere – you enjoy those special shows don’t you?

Joe: Can’t wait for the Christmas show. I think the Empire is the best venue in Teesside. When I was going out on Saturday nights a few years ago I never really appreciated that it’s actually a really beautiful place. The sound in there is great and I love that it’s tiered. I’m sure we’ll have some Christmas themes up our sleeves!

Q: How about Boro? – it was dodgy for a while but some great results at Arsenal and Bournemouth – are you enjoying the season so far?

Joe: I think it’s mad how many ups and downs there have been already. After the Watford game people are talking about relegation then all of a sudden we’ve gained 2 points from arguably the two hardest games you’ll face all season.

Personally, I’m absolutely loving this Boro era. I was too young to appreciate the Juninho years properly so grew up with Boro as an established Prem team. You take it for granted then all of a sudden you’re in the Championship and it’s such a slog to get out of. You realise there are loads of clubs who can argue they ‘should’ be in the Prem that currently aren’t. So I think we’ve done great to be here, we’re not in the relegation zone and we’ve played some really hard games. So I’m a happy and optimistic Boro fan. I think we’ll be okay.

Q: What new music are you in to and would recommend at present?

Joe: I’m listening to a Norwegian artist called Paal Flaata at the moment. His voice is like a cross between Richard Hawley and Roy Orbison and his song-writing is brilliant. Michael Kiwanaku’s latest album is also brilliant.

Listen to the new single 7 Hours through their Soundcloud

https://soundcloud.com/cattleandcanemusic/7hours

Many thanks to Joe Hammill and best of luck to Cattle and Cane. Everyone go out buy the single, pledge for the album and whatever your plans this festive season make sure you do not miss the big Cattle and Cane Christmas show at the Empire, Middlesbrough on Thursday 22nd December.

 

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