Ruby Confue + Wilding @ The Arts Centre, Swindon – 25th Nov ’17

21761565_1619496801434833_4690403455488292990_n 2.jpgStu Rowe has been evolving and adapting his Lighterthief project for years now. A fluid recording project spawning some truly unique music and some rare but memorable live shows, and also a recording studio which has coalesced into a record label. And indeed a record label in the old sense of the meaning, one with a set of house musicians, one that helps write, build and expand the ideas of those artists. And two of those artists were show cased in all their glory at The Arts Centre last night.

I have enjoyed watching George Wilding develop ever since Being Ragdollian dropped into the review pile three years ago and he seems to have since walked the perfect path at the perfect pace from quirky solo guy to the mercurial full band we now see before us. There has always been something vaguely Bowie-esque about his music, not the alien rock star era which made an icon of the man but more reminiscent of those first few albums where he was still threading pop commerciality through a strange fey folkiness, slightly odd, wonderfully other.

Continue reading “Ruby Confue + Wilding @ The Arts Centre, Swindon – 25th Nov ’17”


Baby 126 (e.p) – Ruby Confue (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

500x500Last summer the video for Baby 126 seemed to come out of no-where, brimming with infectiousness and feel good, sun-soaked vibes. And if the concept of a Shakespearean sonnet delivered as a rapped vocal may have then been hard to imagine, this song proved that with the right ingredients – blue-eyed street soul vocals, breezy pop, slinky, jazz horns, easy dance grooves, not to mention the singers own force of personality – the only surprising thing about it was that it hadn’t been done before.

But if this three-track release shows anything, it is not just what a commercial success the lead track could prove to be but also the range that Ruby covers both musically and lyrically. If Baby 126 is the obvious clarion call for a party, the other tracks work in more subtle ways. Fire is built of darker materials, slow burning, raw, bluesy and confessional, and between the minimalist structures some of those hallmarks of the Lighterthief studio, squiggly electronica and warped distant atmospherics add interesting musical punctuation.

Azul takes a more traditional line; chilled, soulful and sensuous, its graceful and classic lines reflect a timeless style that has endured from Souls golden age through to the modern pop divas who still tribute its iconic style. It is testament to this track that it could exist anywhere on that timeline.

Baby 126 was the calling card, a colourful blast to grab your attention but now packaged with two very different songs, a much bigger and more interesting picture is emerging. As a taste of the full-length album, which is currently being recorded, this is indeed the most tempting of musical appetizers.

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10 acts to watch for 2016 – Selected by Ed Dyer

Well, that’s 2015 all wrapped up then, and musically speaking it wasn’t half bad at all. But, what will 2016 bring us? And who will be the artists and bands to watch out for? In an attempt to answer these burning questions I dusted off my crystal ball, muttered some incantations to the musical gods, realised this was all a load of crap and resorted back to good old fashioned gut feeling, common sense and a keen pair of ears to come up with my top ten artists to watch in 2016.

These are those artists who I feel are in the best position to break out of their own local and regional scenes and start making some waves on a more national basis. Generally they are the best of everything I personally have seen and heard in the last 12 months, and also the ones best equipped to break out. So this has been drawn from my own limited pool of experience and has not been influenced by any other sources, taste makers or media, and as I have already said, I have no particular foresight or insider knowledge other than my own instinct, experience and opinion. I have also omitted the bands I work with through Secret Chord Records as we all know they are the best of the best already! I present these in no particular order either; I am not daft enough to hang what reputation I have on one artist above all other. They are just listed in the order they came to me on New Year’s Eve as I sat quietly supping beer and reflecting on the past year.

Continue reading “10 acts to watch for 2016 – Selected by Ed Dyer”

The 10 most popular posts of the year.

Everyone else is doing it so why not I. This end of year round up is one based purely on statistical factors, i.e. the most reader hits on the post, the idea of my personal preference is a moot point as I tend to only write about music that I really like so if you made the site it means I already like your work. Think of me less as a critic but more a champion of new, underground and slightly off the radar music. As the by-line says, “rescuing musical virtue in distress.”


10. Guard Down – Salute the Sun

10846314_358156134309199_3971624639670358907_n“Overall, the five tracks on offer are put together in an almost mini-concept sort of way, building, for me at any rate, a sense of being at a club gig over a whole night, starting with funky upbeat energy, through intense atmospherics, and on into end-of-night chill out. I like an album that sounds like it’s been put together with some sort of narrative. It’s old-school, like recordings used to be before the age of the “shuffle” button.”

Read Here

9. Broken Hip – Echo Boom Generation

10959674_405221096319140_3170334261304849129_n“Big riffs, solid grooves and break-neck deliveries abound and yes, you can hear some of the classic moves in there but think of this as the logical conclusion of an evolutionary line that started with the likes of Led Zeppelin and ends somewhere near Royal Blood. But the bottom line is that this video has just about everything that todays rock scene needs. Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with this band immediately will just cause my opinion of todays rock fan to fall even further.”

Read/Watch Here

8. After All The Wishing – Jim Johnston

10671375_793096057412980_7221351230385609334_n-1“If Voyage… was the sound of blues and psychedelia meeting in a cold, clinical embrace in a disused dockside somewhere along the Severn Estuary, this is the sound of David Bowie scoring the bleak worlds of Bret Easton Ellis’ novels and Damien Moran’s hypnotic narrative that threads it’s way between, around and through the songs immediately puts you in mind of Diamond Dogs spoken opening salvo.”

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7. Mystery Glue – Graham Parker and The Rumour

mystery_glue-33249667-frntl“Reminiscent of the more casual moments of their earlier career and imbued with a more Dylan-esque vibe in places, the original line up shows that they still have what it takes and if at times you can hear a chilled out Springsteen, a balladeering Elvis Costello and any number of punk and post punk templates, it is because Graham and the boys were often the source material, the unwitting patrons to a generation of musicians that would go on to redefine music.”

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6. Change, Nothing To Lose – L.A. Davis

12408869-la-davis-change-nothing-to-lose“Shards of electronica pierce a shimmering guitar line as shuffling drums drive the dynamic. But it is Davis voice than makes this stand apart from other pop prodigy’s. His soulful and gravely tones come as a welcome change (pun intended) from the chirping pop crooners that we currently are being presented with.”

Read/Watch Here

5. Prospero – Alasca

18269_10155236619385300_333489058529746417_n“But even within this late 60’s tinged underground melting pot of lush west coast country rock and poignant Newport folk festival vibes, other musical flavours keep you guessing, the mariachi trumpets of In Media Res that kick the album off, seedy and archaic, bar-room piano, the anthemic spaghetti western twang that is The Prophet, bluesy introspection and lyrics that could go toe to toe with Cohen or Waits in their subject matters and messages, name-checking Rimbauld and Shakespeare along the way.”

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4. Baby 126 – Ruby Confue

11118053_920625011322019_934685032983518008_n“Baby 126 sounds like distilled essence of summer, joyous dance grooves and brazen brass blend with street soul choruses and blasts of Shakespeare re-imagined as a hip-hop act to produce a brilliant and totally infectious feel good, future classic.”


Read/Watch Here

3. Fearless – Kat Perkins

20140923__140926wl-ross_kat_300“If Fearless is the song that has real mainstream potential, existing as it does in a place cool enough for the serious rock fraternity and accessible enough for the chart aficionados, it is the inclusion of a cover of Hearts early classic, Barracuda, that really speaks volumes. Anyone who can not only capture that early Ann Wilson vocal but at the same time make the song their own is someone that you have to take notice of.”

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2. Blind Faith – Black

blindfaith“Prophets may be without honour in their own land, profits may also be similarly elusive, but I think that anything that compromises the outstandingly gorgeous music that Colin Vearncombe makes under the name Black, is something the world can do without.”


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1. 10 Gig Etiquette Failures

Members of the audience take pictures on their mobile phones during a set by British singer-songwriter James Blunt who is performing a concert in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday June 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Although I only posted this article yesterday, it has proven so popular that it has gone to the number one spot overnight, I guess it must contain things that everyone can recognize from going to gigs, both amongst the audience around them and if we are honest, probably ourselves.


Read Here


New Music of the Day : LXV – Baby 126 – Ruby Confue (the stripped back version)

11140339_920636837987503_8859784934580415496_nWe were pretty excited when the full colour, hi-fidelity version of this single landed in our in box and now this mellow version live from the Lighterthief Bunker takes the tune back to basics being performed by the core in house team of Stu Rowe and Cinzano Taylor and of course Ruby herself. It goes to show that even when you strip back all of the glitz and glamour of the Psychedelic Urban Circus there is still a cracking tune underneath, one that starts and ends with those important ingredients of groove and melody. If the original version is a big splash of summer colour, the party tune to groove too as the sun goes down, this new version is the one you have playing the next morning as the sun comes up and you head for home.

check out the original single HERE

Baby 126 – Ruby Confue

11102962_929269977124189_2726214974406720768_nAs the initial release from the new Lighterthief record label and as the first musical outing by newcomer Ruby Confue, Baby 126 is one hell of a statement of intent. Mixing commerciality with creativity it hopefully shows a jaded and formulaic music industry that the two are not mutually exclusive, they never have been, but maybe this video is a timely reminder of the fact.

Ruby Confue describes her world as a Psychedelic Urban Circus and as soundbites go that is perfect, encapsulating the energy, drive, colour and underlying fun of the song and particularly this video that accompanies it. Many songs are difficult to classify because they are such a niche sound, Baby 126 is difficult to pin down because it crosses so many boundaries…blue eyed soul, future pop classic, breezy summer hit, theatrical hip-hop and is threaded through with lyrics that jump from thespian rap to euphoric street soul. Most artists would need a whole album to tackle such a range of themes and genres, Ruby Confue does it in under 200 seconds!

Welcome to The Psychedelic Urban Circus: An interview with Ruby Confue and Stuart Rowe. (Interview by Dave Franklin)

11140339_920636837987503_8859784934580415496_nWith the imminent arrival of the video for Baby 126, I joined Ruby Confue and producer Stu Rowe at the Lighterthief Bunker to discuss the first single from the record label. Long term musical collaborator Ian “Cinzano” Taylor made the tea.

Dancing About Architecture: So let’s just start at the beginning, I believe that there is a connection between Stu and Ruby that goes further back than your current musical collaboration?

Stu Rowe: And Cinzano as well, there is an odd connection. When I started working as Lighterthief it was me and Cinzano and a guy called Ali, who I’d met through playing guitar, I’d known him for years and the three of us did some tracks together, The Trumpet Player and Cold Calling, Ruby is his granddaughter.

DAA: So bringing that up to date how did you musically meet and end up in the studio together?

Ruby Confue: I did a soul/house track with a guy that I went to University with where I was studying acting, a track called Don’t You Forget, he wrote the lyrics, I sang on it and Stu heard it.

Continue reading “Welcome to The Psychedelic Urban Circus: An interview with Ruby Confue and Stuart Rowe. (Interview by Dave Franklin)”

New Music of the Day – LIV : Baby 126 – Ruby Confue

11118053_920625011322019_934685032983518008_nBaby 126 sounds like distilled essence of summer, joyous dance grooves and brazen brass blend with street soul choruses and blasts of Shakespeare re-imagined as a hip-hop act to produce a brilliant and totally infectious feel good, future classic. It’s warm, breezy and brilliant. As a first release from the Lighterthief bunker in their new guise as a record label, it is a totally unexpected new direction, which is only to be expected as they are not an operation that you would want to second guess, but in Ruby Confue they have found something that is underground enough to be cool, smart enough to rise above the competition yet accessible enough to appeal to more mainstream waters. This is pop music with a Phd but also streetwise enough to be able to look after itself. Big and clever….imagine that?

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