Monthly Archives: October 2014

Will Robert – ‘Transitions’

The male singer-songwriter has been something of a challenge for both artists and listeners in recent years. People with undeniable talent, producing incredibly pleasing music have largely been getting nowhere, in most cases because they missed the bus that Ed Sheeran drove off to Radio 1 on, and took any remaining hope for the male soloist with him. But while talent perseveres, there will always be a chance that someone else can gain the recognition they rightfully deserve. Will Robert is a Cambridge based artist striving for just that.
 
Robert’s new EP ‘Transitions’ showcases his vocal and instrumental talents with charming modesty, as well as displaying his laudable songwriting ability. This aptly named record tells a story of change  both lyrically, and musically, all while treating the listener to some of the most serene acoustic sounds they’re likely to hear in their lifetime.
 
The opening track ‘City Lights’ idyllically introduces us to Robert’s sleek voice, setting the lyrical tone poignantly; “You seem so bold but a cold wind blows inside of you”. The contemplative and seemingly upbeat feel of this track is complimented by subtle percussion, which is maintained throughout ‘Transitions’, and adds an organic depth to the record.
 
Raising the tempo slightly on ‘Best Laid Plans’, we are treated to some of Robert’s smart guitar work, featuring Newton Faulkner-esque percussive playing as can also be heard on ‘Easy Way Out’. Alluring vocal harmonies gently bring about the chorus and again show Robert’s knack of using understated elements to create something stunningly simple yet engaging.
 
The transitional nature of this record is a testament to the amount of thought Robert has clearly put into it. We encounter lyrical and musical peaks, with a clear positive tone in ‘Castles’ and ‘Easy Way Out’ all after the more melancholic tone of ‘Hide Away’, in which Robert laments “sitting in the dark won’t keep you safe”. By the middle of the record, the tone becomes melancholic once again, with beautifully tempered electric guitar being introduced to display a further impressive range of musical knowledge and appreciation, and to also keep us guessing on how the transition will pan out.
 
Come track nine ‘Sleight Of Hand’, the saga appears to be coming to it’s conclusion, and the rousing chorus has an air of acceptance in it’s lyrical tone along with ‘Another Life’. Inventive guitar work  and a more intensive use of percussion really captivates the listener in this latest chapter. ‘Roads’ is another flawless example of simplistic songwriting at it’s humble best, with nothing but Robert, his guitar, and the faintest whisper of piano producing a gratifying penultimate track.
 
‘Open Sea’ is the final, and probably strongest track on the record. Majestically combining all the elements found throughout, this track is a triumph and a perfect closing song on a record that I sincerely hope gets the recognition it deserves.
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Decade, Light You Up, Hey Vanity, Standing Like Statues – Live Review

The music scene in Cambridge may not be quite as burgeoning as in other towns and cities around the country, but if this show taught me anything, it’s that scene strength makes no difference to how much one man can enjoy a gig.

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I was greeted by this endearing poster on my arrival, and was pleasantly surprised to see an extra band added to the bill. 4 bloody bands in one night for £9 (kept my coat with me like the shrewd economically aware genius that I am), get the fuck, in.

Standing Like Statues

Having only lived in Cambridge for a few months, I was eager to see what the locals had to offer. Though not hugely experienced, SLS held their own extremely well, particularly given some hideously frustrating and prolonged technical issues. Once these were out of the way however, their ability shone through. Frontman Jamie Wiltshire’s performance was particularly top notch, powering out lyrics with visible passion, accompanied by Beth Dalton, who is something of a pioneer given how few female band members you see around the circuit.

Hey Vanity

Next up was Hey Vanity, who I was particularly keen to see following their reformation from post-hardcore outfit Fei Comodo. The tightness of these boys was a real treat, as was the flawless stubble sprouting from all 4 chins. HV really set the standard, not just performance wise, but the atmosphere they created in the room made it all the more enjoyable. Exuding friendliness, and evoking some dusty old memories of Ace Ventura with their modest inter-song chat, I found myself grinning the whole way through. ‘Broken Artist’ was a personal highlight, as this well written track kicks off with a nod-worthy little riff which perseveres throughout, leaving you craving whatever else they have in their arsenal of finely crafted tunes. We were then informed by vocalist and guitarist Marc Halls that they would be playing a couple of new tracks, and these served to further improve my (and hopefully everyone else in the rooms) opinion of these immensely talented gentlemen.

Light You Up

I mentioned the impressive passion coming out of Standing Like Statues’ frontman, but I’m afraid he was trumped by Tom Napier, who wouldn’t have been out of place fronting Guns N’ Roses with his on, and mostly off stage antics. Jumping about like it was his last ever show, you have to admire his enthusiasm. Taking nothing away from the band, the songs were solid and very listenable, and they were (as was a delightful theme of the night) clearly enjoying themselves. The last song saw some crowd participation when Beth from SLS was invited on stage to roar out the final chorus, and the audience was rewarded with a very sincere thanks for watching.

Decade

The headliners of the night were Decade, a band I’d seen this summer at 2000 Trees festival, and was keen to see again as they were immediately likeable. With an awkwardly expert approach to proceedings, it’s wall to wall catchy classics, from the boppy brilliance of ‘Brainfreeze’ to the tormented and terrific ‘I Don’t Care’. Minor technical difficulties took nothing away from their show of skills, and we were given a lesson in how to entertain an audience without flailing about on stage like a daddy long-legs searching for it’s purpose in life. The crowd interaction cemented this show as probably the friendliest I’ve ever been to, it was just so bloody nice. Finishing off with exactly the same vigour that accompanied the first song, the pleasingly dense crowd was evidently having as good a time as I was, and the band left the stage looking rightly chuffed. I defy anyone to walk away from a Decade show and not have at least one of their songs welded to the forefront of their mind, they really are tremendously infectious and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

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