Vampire Weekend Whisper it but it's been over ten years since self titled first album of Vampire Weekend was released. An album, which quickly became the soundtrack to the final year of my university life. Much has changed since those heady days. Unaffected by the 2016 departure of Rostam Batmanglij (whose influence is still very much felt on newer tracks), Vampire Weekend have gone from NYC indie newcomers to seasoned mainstream live artists.


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Deerhunter Becoming a parent seriously affected my ability to discover new music. The days of scouring Last.fm or some such to find “similar” artists to my ongoing predilections, became the nights of little sleep and my rest-addled brain took succour in the familiar, the easy. Them the breaks… plus, our babies were ace. No problem.


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Friendly Fires A lot has changed in the 8 years since Friendly Fires last played Birmingham. When the band announced they were returning with new album 'Inflorescent', they owed the second city a long overdue visit.


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Ty Segall As London is drenched by the weekend's rain, something special was taking place at The Oval Space. Ty Segall had been beamed in for a three night residency playing three different albums in full. The second night was all about his 2011 album 'Goodbye Bread', was an unmissable night for any fan of the psych rock wizard.


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Amber Run Nottingham’s indie rock quintet Amber Run delivered an intimate, emotional set that captured the hearts of all fans, new and old.


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Hozier A Hozier review – for a concert, album, whatever – can be boiled down to two simple words. That voice. That voice fills the Palladium on a Saturday night, and makes a bunch of pop fans listen to the blues for two hours. That voice has sold this venue out for five consecutive nights. That voice elicits tears, chills, screams of joy, from the top tier seats to the front row stalls.


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Sebadoh I’ve been a Sebadoh fan for years and love their brand of lo-fi indie rock. It’s really pleasing to see them now getting the recognition they deserve, with a recent radio-session for Marc Riley on Radio 6 and tonight playing to a sold-out Brudenell Social Club. Sebadoh’s best known member is Lou Barlow who has had an on-off parallel career as bass player in Dinosaur Jr.


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Pale Waves Manchester’s female-fronted goth-pop quartet are back in the Midlands, with a whole new confidence. It’s been a year since Dirty Hit’s Pale Waves released their critically acclaimed debut album, My Mind Makes Noises, and the group are showing no signs of slowing their ever-growing confidence. Playing a large smattering of shows since the album dropped, it sounds like the act have gone from strength to strength, refining their sound at every show. Having seen the foursome only a month ago at a festival, I was already excited for their headline show, but from the minute they swaggered onto the mesmerisingly colourful, laser-clad stage, we were taken on an unanticipated journey of emotions and musical exploration.


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Pixies It was only 2 years ago that Pixies were playing this room last, ending their evening by filling the venue with thick plumes of white smoke and disappearing off into the night. We haven’t seen them since, until now, when they surprisingly emerged from the haze with a critically acclaimed new record and a world tour.


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Sharon Van Etten Sharon Van Etten’s (SVE) four piece band (drums; bass; two keyboards) take the stage and a stark drum beat sets the scene for a minute or three. The cool promise of ecstasy fills the air before Sharon appears with just microphone in hand and belts out the line: ‘our love’s for real’. Everything about her is unrecognisable from when I last saw her seven years ago at the Queen’s Club in Sheffield. She’s embraced the classic rocker look - think Chrissie Hynde - shorn black hair; tattoos, red lippy and leather pants but what is remarkable is the confidence, swagger and sheer energy that she brings to the performance. Her moves are positively Jagger-esque (‘touching your face’) and tightly choreographed as she poses for the cameras and commands eye contact. The sound is bigger, darker, keyboard heavy and mostly guitar free.


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Skunk Anansie The atmosphere in the Manchester Academy was electric as the crowd waited for returning heroes Skunk Anansie to play a career spanning mega set.


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Yo La Tengo Yo La Tengo (YLT) have been around for some 35 years and have 15 studio albums to their credit. Since Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley formed the band they’ve had 14 bass players, but James McNew has occupied that spot since 1992, so they are now a very stable musical trio. When asked later how the band manages to be so relaxed on stage they agree that it’s down to their confidence in each other as musicians.


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Johnny Marr I'm back at the Royal Festival Hall for part two of my Meltdown residency and as if Johnny Marr wasn't enough, the criminally overlooked Mystery Jets are here to offer support.


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Anna Calvi Anna Calvi is an artist who seemed to emerge fully-formed with her acclaimed debut album in 2011. Winning early endorsement from luminaries like Brian Eno and Bill Ryder-Jones, she played support gigs for the likes of Nick Cave and The Arctic Monkeys before she had even released an album. The debit album spectacularly demonstrated her abilities as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, as well as demonstrating a trend-setting grasp of style and presentation in the vein of early Roxy Music. Her third album, ‘Hunter’, was released in 2018.


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