Brewtown #24: Brewtown does YNot!

YNot Festival Logo

For this edition of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d do something out of the ordinary (for this site at least). Something that is short, sweet but also informative of a certain event that happened nearly 3 months ago! That of course is the annual Midlands music festival extravaganza YNOT.

I know that this may be a stretch to be a Throwback Thursday piece, but since it happened a bit back and I just want an excuse to try something different, I think it works…kind of! But anyway, I decided that if there was any music festival to go to this year, it was YNot. Pretty close to home, great press and hosting some big names like Dizzee Rascal, The Fratellis and Andrew WK!

But this year saw a number of local acts (Brewtown acts no less) perform and be very well-received not just by the old familiar faces that they’d see down the Whistle, but also by the general public who ambled by the stage they were on. I’ll look at how they were day by day and how the festival was overall.

THURSDAY EARLY ENTRY

Despite the official kick-off being Friday morning at 10, Thursday evening saw the influx of early birds who had paid an extra £13 to get a fresh spot at the festival as well as see some acts that would exclusively be performing on that day (Or so we thought!).

Although we did have the welsh chav comedy hip hop (a much maligned genre) giants Goldie Lookin Chain ending the night in The Giant Squid tent, we had Brewtown giants Max Raptor getting the festival off to a moshing, head-banging start with their many fans singing along and nearly mutilating each other in the mosh pits, as you do. It is moshing etiquette after all.

FRIDAY

On a day which featured such big guns as Razorlight, Reel Big Fish and Andrew WK (your humble writer’s favourite act of the weekend), it also featured Midlands acts like Alex Blood and the Diggers who got the Hog & Barrel stage stomping with their delightful acoustic versions of their ska infused set! Their energy very much countered the wet and windy misery of the weather!

The Allotment stage (which stood in the same area as the Main Stage as a support stage if you will), featured the majority of the Brewtown acts which included Follow You Home and Tilted Smile on the Friday. The main stage also featured Sonic Boom Six that day who Follow You Home have supported in the past.

SATURDAY

The sun finally came out in the afternoon after a severely wet Friday and Saturday morning (the poor souls who forgot their wellies!) and brought with it a surprise set from Max Raptor! Yes they played double duty at the weekend after another band The First couldn’t make it. I guess Max Raptor were…the SECOND choice! Sigh, rotten fruit and veg are over there. Fire at will!

Derby-base acoustic female guitarist Harriet impressed at the Hog and Barrel while Welsh indie rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen graced the main stage. The reason they’re mentioned here is because Get Cubs supported them earlier this year, so there you go!

The Brewtown highlight for Saturday was Exile84′s evening set which brought in a good mixed crowd of Burton regulars and newbies seeing them smash it for the first time. Plus, the band had a replacement bassist! None other than Kitten Pyramid co-founder Matt Redfern taking over for an absent Ash Eaton! I feel sorry for The Fratellis and Dizzee Rascal for having to follow them!

SUNDAY

The last day of the festival weekend (not counting the exiting hangover of Monday morning) saw Frank Turner and De La Soul headline the Main Stage but the more low-profile bands were still bringing in the crowds to tide them over till they arrived.

Now a duo, 5 Days of November gave 100% at the Allotment stage despite only being 50% of what they were previously. George Mills and Woody Arnold remain on lead vocals/guitar and drums respectively. Derby act House of Thieves also played at the Quarry around this time which so far hasn’t had a mention so, yay Quarry!

Jamie Beau played a delightful set for the Hog and Barrel attendees/drinkers and Derby soul singer Jamie Joseph closed out the weekend (at least on the Allotment stage) with a fantastic and engaging set. And with that, YNot was over not just for Brewtown, but for all the campers, musicians and staff alike.

VERDICT

As a whole, YNot boasted a huge, diverse line-up of acts from Indie giants The Fratellis to UK grime king Dizzee Rascal to US Hip Hop legends De La Soul, but the local talent pulled in some surprisingly big crowds and interest for their sets despite a lot of competition selling some merchandise and gaining social media followers along the way (hint hint, Brewtown Music Facebook page…pretty please?).

Cheap plugs aside, the Brewtown acts all played well, especially Max Raptor who pulled double duty at the hugely popular Giant Squid alternative stage, both sets were just as great as each other. Each band kept everyone enthusiastic and energetic despite the horrid weather to start off with and they each earned a drink or ten afterwards!

Brewtown played it’s part at YNot and little by little, it’ll continue to play it’s part around the country at other gigs and festivals too. Reminisce and be proud Burton-on-Trent! You’ve left your mark, quite literally as seen below! Till another mark can be left, this is Brewtown Music, serving up more nostalgic music memories (if 3 months ago can be considered such!)

Exile84 line-up bomb

What Else Is Out There #5: Just James

Just jamming from left to right: Kerridge, Anthony, Reeves, Child, Young and Mehew

Just jamming from left to right: Kerridge, Anthony, Reeves, Child, Young and Mehew

For the fifth edition of What Else Is Out There, we’re off to Nottingham to greet a dance act who aren’t entirely what you’d expect from the genre, especially when performing live! Though there’s six of them, it’s Just James.

Alex ‘Motormouf’ Young (rapping vocals), Ella Reeves (singing vocals), Ben Kerridge (guitar), James Child (bass), Jake Mehew (keys) and Joseph Anthony (drums) form what is quite a unique combination; the sounds of live rock music and house/drum n bass tunes brought together to make a storming impact on the Midlands music scene.

Since their own formation in 2010, they have stopped by Burton a number of times to deliver their brand of electronic/dubstep/rock/hip-hop/soul/zydeco/leetcore/whatever the hell else music (they dubbed themselves ‘science fiction rock and roll’ if that’s easier) and that is why they are featured on Brewtown Music!

That and Motormouf's pits here give Jack Poxon's a run for his money!

That and Motormouf’s pits here give Jack Poxon’s a run for their money!

But the tale here begins before all that though, we have to go back to 2008, where the public performing days of a young lad called Alex Young began and developed into being an instrumental (pardon the pun) part of the urban music scene of Nottingham with his style of human beatboxing that was looking to emulate the likes of Beardyman and Dub FX.

His main inspiration though was American beatboxer Rahzel, former member of The Roots and known for his vocal work on SSX and SSX Tricky. So much like a lot of musicians, Young’s beatboxing was self-taught…not that I know of many beatbox teachers anyway!

The big solo highlight came when Young entered into the Midlands heat of the Vauxhall UK Beatbox Championships in 2010 where, after some very impressive and funny beatboxing, got to the heat final but unfortunately lost to LucasTheBeatbox. I think my thoughts on his loss are summed up here.

Oh well, 3:42 will let that news go down easier!

Towards the end of that year, Young was invited to watch his college buddy’s (Child) band Just James play at a Christmas party in the Stealth club in Nottingham. He was very impressed with the band’s unique sound and after Anthony invited him for a jam to see what it would sound like to have a rapper in the group, he impressed so much that they decided to have him on as the sixth member of the band.

Just James themselves formed in October 2010 and Young had his first gig with them in April 2011 (the same month as a gig at the  after a shining first few months of performing that earned them a spot on the shortlist for the 2011 YNot Festival (Dammit how many more times do we have to hear about that one?!). Unfortunately though, they didn’t make the final cut.

After a good few months of recording, the band put out their first EP Keep Calm and Rave On Vol 1 on June 24th which they would promote at festivals they were performing at that Summer which were Ripley Music Festival in June and the Nottingham Waterfront in August.

Keep Calm and Rave On: Zack Ryder approved!

Keep Calm and Rave On Vol 1: Zack Ryder approved!

In September, they would headline at The Maze music bar in Nottingham with Notts ska giants The Breadchasers and post punk indie band Tribal Suns. Being a Nottingham based act, they would be frequent performers at The Maze throughout their run as an act with their first gig there being in May.

In October, they had two very important gigs, in the context of this article of course, as they performed at battle of the bands competition in Derby for a chance at a record deal and their very first gig in Burton at the good ole Wetmore Whistle! Everyone goes there!

Just as a way to plug another Midlands music lover, Nottingham live music promoters Nusic had the band on their show also in October to promote them as well as perform an Invaders Must Die-like number called The Bassment.

We are the Just James!

The band began 2012 with some very good news. Through their shows in Derby and their battle of the bands competition, they were signed to Belper-based independent record label and music production team Sound Hub! Other bands signed to this label are Derby-based independent rock acts Whitemoor and James Warner Prophecies.

Two more notable gigs in Spring included a charity performance for Oxfam that also included Derby MC Eyez in April that raised £430 and a big performance at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall on June 1st for the Queen’s Jubilee that was more of a play on the word queen for a Gay Pride concert!

But in a major highlight in June, they became a part of the 2012 Burtfest (redundancy is redundant I know!) performing on the Arch Stage on Saturday 16th June that also featured Great Scott, The Vibe and Riding the Low.

But we all know who the stars are…the band nobody there had heard of!

They would end up returning to Burton, to the Star and Garter specifically, later in the month to attempt to save the Wetmore Whistle after Burtfest left the former Whistle owner Ben Brettell in massive debt with a fundraising gig along with The Vibe, Get Cubs and Kitten Pyramid.

To build towards an album release, they released a single on July 16th called Red Light Means Go which is notable for climbing all the way to #11 on the iTunes Electronic charts! That’s not like Reverbnation’s country/county divisions either, that’s official!

Arguably, one of the biggest crowds they have ever played to came towards the end of July with their performance at the Nottingham Pride Festival where they played on the main stage in front of 20,000 people and supported Basshunter of all people!

Suddenly Burtfest feels pretty small right now!

Suddenly Burtfest feels pretty small right now!

Two more big gigs in November closed out 2012 for them with the first on Nov 2nd at Nottingham Rock City supporting Follow You Home and Sonic Boom Six and on Nov 22nd headlining at the Nottingham Bodega along with support from Great Scott and The Afterdark Movement. These also promoted a new free downloadable song See It Through released on the 27th.

2013 gave them a mini-festival at the Derby Assembly Rooms in January that had House of Thieves and Kitten Pyramid on the card…but due to heavy snow, it was re-scheduled for March 23rd where Jamie Joseph and Get Cubs were added to the mix! It even snowed THAT day too but it didn’t deter the willing!

On April 14th, they released their new single Limitless which when released also made a pretty good push up the iTunes Electronic Chart making it #29 this time and had it’s own music video released on the 21st.

Wherever they are, The Prodigy are not far behind, or in front...eh whatever!

Wherever they are, The Prodigy are not far behind, or in front…eh!

After performing again at the Whistle with The Sixth Letter at the start of June, they ended the month being a part of XStatic Festival in Swadlincote which also featured Get Cubs, Raptorial and We Were Ghosts.

But that was not the biggest festival announcement they had, as their already exciting announcement of them performing at Strawberry Fields Festival wasn’t big enough, they were told they would be opening the Festival on Friday on the Main Stage! Get Cubs were at this festival too as well as more mainstream acts The View and The Enemy.

After a big summer of festivals, they were set to perform what they said was their ‘biggest gig of the year’ at the OxJam Soiree set for 29th October which was promoted with a humorous little Youtube ad.

Though I don’t know what gave me more whiplash, the camera pans or Young’s line delivery!

With new songs in the pipeline, a gig supporting the legendary Dub Mafia at the Maze and a summer festival season announcement of Bearded Theory to come, who knows what else is set for Just James in 2014?

Buggered if I know, so let’s just look at the music itself now! Midlands Music Maniacs described them as the ‘Who needs class A’s when you’ve got these lot’ lot! Yep, I’d say that sounds about right!

Just James‘s sound has a massive presence whether being performed on stage or simply being blasted through your headphones. With influences from The Prodigy (of course!) and Pendulum spurring their sound on, their music commands your attention whether it be the rock base sound, the electronica buzzings, Young’s lyrical drops or Reeves’ soulful singing.

One song to listen to is their first single Red Light Means Go which already seems like something the high guy meme would say and that contradiction forms a good basis for song and immediately hits you full-on with the bass blares at Young’s furious rhymes!

Young’s lyrics, which I’m not even going to list they’re going by so fast, are delivered in a way that makes you think that this guy is not going to let anyone tell him to stop what he’s doing since he’s going by at such a pace, it’d be like an OAP kindly asking a truck from Maximum Overdrive to slow down!

The instrumentation is just as hard as the vocal performance from Young, but Reeves’ singing give it an almost calming quality despite the fury still remaining!

I can lose half my beard to this!

I can lose half my beard to this!

Another track to look at is Limitless which judging by that title is already going to be as ‘full-on’ as the previous track and the JJ lot don’t disappoint! Drum and bass are officially approved on Brewtown Music!

The keys riff at the start provides a steady flow to the energy to follow which the band provides in spades and can be seen done in the music video. Dan Lowe, the producer and mixer at SoundHub also needs recognition for providing their music as well as this one with great care and consideration to make the most hard-hitting track possible!

With Young’s flawless flow providing the verses and Reeves’ chorus line of “To know no bounds, is a merry-go-round”, the vocal work does give the band’s rock/dance sound it’s own unique identity and prove that EDM is not the only option for those who want to mosh to dance music! Still though, check them out and judge for yourself!

In closing, Just James give rock and dance another great union and have graced Burton with their presence a good number of times along the way! With more tracks and big festivals on the way, they’ll be sure to get everyone moving and opportunities could be limitless! A hardcore serving of Brewtown tunes to you, from Burton and beyond!

 

Just James’ Stuff

Official Website: http://www.wearejustjames.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreJustJames

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wearejustjames

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreJustJames

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreJustJames

Just James logo

BREWTOWN 20th POST: MAX RAPTOR

Wot you lookin' at from left to right: Winnington, Stevenson, Ray and Reisner

Wot you lookin’ at from left to right: Winnington, Stevenson, Ray and Reisner

So here we are with another multiple of 10 milestone article! To mark this momentous occasion that I’m making it out to be, let’s look and listen to one of the most nationally known and popular acts to come out of Burton-on-Trent in recent memory. British cousin of Ego, it’s Max Raptor!

Wil ‘Ray’ Raybould (vocals), Ben Winnington (guitar), Matt Stevenson (bass) and Pete Reisner (drums) form this hard rock quartet who have been one of the bigger national success stories to come out of Brewtown.

Their alt-punk style mixed with their widespread reputation has landed them massive support slots alongside the likes of Billy Talent and The Stranglers believe it or not!

The right look for that announcement possible! Happy but keeping up the punk image at the same time!

The right look for that announcement possible! Happy but keeping up the punk image at the same time!

Not to spoil too much right away of course, since there’s a lot to cover here! Let’s start off with the origin of the band, which stems back to 2006 from a humble academy in Barton-under-Needwood called John Taylor High School. Ray and Stevenson were friends at JT along with another gentleman called Tom Garrett (brother of Sam Garrett).

Stevenson phoned up Ray one day whilst being at uni and asked him if he’d like to have a jam. They all agreed to it along with Garrett and an old friend of Stevenson called JB Wilcox was brought in to play guitar along with Ray on vocals, Garrett on bass and the current bass Stevenson on drums.

John Taylor, along with three of the original members of MR and Reisner, has a decent alumni of future Brewtown staples such as Roz Bruce, Sam Garrett and Christian Taylor of Get Cubs just to name a few.

ROCK AND ROLL THROUGH AND THROUGH!!

ROCK AND ROLL THROUGH AND THROUGH!!

Although they formed in 2006, they sent music to each other over the Internet to prepare until March 2007 when they had their first official gig at the Victoria Inn in Derby. Ah, what a history that place has! Little did those people watching know that they witnessed the first time one of the biggest Brewtown bands performed live. Their first ever gig was apparently at a Christian Farmer’s BBQ which isn’t quite as spectacular!

Spreading the word over social media such as Myspace (yep, THIS was 2007!), they performed not just locally, but all around the country including a gig at the Joiners Arms in Southampton where the likes of Oasis, Muse and Enter Shikari have played amongst many other now mainstream acts.

Through these humble yet promising set of gigs in their first year, they started off 2008 with MR sending a rough EP over to Kerrang! Radio which, surprise surprise, was given a slot on their unsigned show for six weeks! This would not be the last time that MR had anything to do with Kerrang though!

Birmingham Festibull 2008 backed by Kerrang! Apologies for the audio, people still recorded with potatoes back then!

As well as Festibull, they performed at Cockermouth (admit it, you snickered!), a much smaller YNot and Heartfest in Barton, their old stomping ground. Other highlights alongside the festivals in 2008 included supporting Johnny Panic at The Old Bell and being set to record a new EP with Sam Bell who has worked with the likes of Snow Patrol, Bloc Party, Editors and REM!

With this amount of backing behind them, MR could only go from strength to strength. From playing Club NME and HMV showcases with the likes of Mystery Jets, Hot Club de Paris, Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi and Biffy Clyro, how could they not?!

But it was in June 2009 that the Raptors had their biggest break and fangasm from how it all went down! Their ‘GREAT AND THE GOOD’ tour saw them supporting not just Calvin Harris and The Zutons, but also their idols and main inspiration. Canadian punk rockers Billy Talent!

That shoe brush should have it's OWN support slot!

That shoe brush should have it’s OWN support slot!

The dates of 9th-10th June will live on in Raptor memory as they opened for Billy Talent (who discovered MR through their Myspace and invited them to open for them) to very appreciative crowds at the Newcastle o2 Academy and the Camden Underworld. It didn’t hurt that they returned to YNot as headliners and the Cock Rock Festival too (what is their obsession with cocks?….sorry).

At this point, with their profile given a massive boost through their tour and their dates with BT, they had four record labels approaching to sign them which had to have been flattering. But after much deliberation, they signed with Salisbury-based Naim Label who they have remained with to this day.

2010 saw more great things happen for the Raptors which saw single releases from Naim, another opportunity to tour with another established punk act and to perform at one of the biggest festivals in the country! Or at least, the first of quite a few big festival slots for them!

Download? Oh, how passé!

I’ll tell you what’s not passé though. Playing 23 tour dates with The god damn Stranglers! From February to March, the Raptors toured all round the country opening for the veteran British punk act. The biggest date for them came on 19th March when they played at the Hammersmith Apollo of all places, a venue they always wanted to play at.

Whilst they were performing with The Stranglers, they gave the public a pre-emptive stream of their first single The Great And The Good which was released as a single download from iTunes, Amazon etc. on April 26th under the Naim label.

They started off the year with a supporting tour, so why not have their own headline tour? From 20th-31st July, they went on a UK headlining tour starting at the Flapper and Firkin in Birmingham and finishing up at a pretty familiar place, YNot Festival 2010.

If we place this festival ONE MORE TIME...(foreshadowing FTW)

If we place this festival ONE MORE TIME…(foreshadowing FTW)

As said earlier and shown through the video above, they were also on the card of the 2010 Download Festival performing on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage on the 13th June where Enemo J also played that same day.

Do you believe in Deja vu? They announced a second headline UK tour for September to promote their second single release of the year Ghosts which started at The Well in Leeds on 11th September and finished at The Wig & Pen in Truro on 9th October.

After a slot at the London Freeze Festival towards the end of October, MR made a big step towards the release of their first album being guided and produced by former SixTh guitarist Dan Weller.

With co-producer Skeletor!

With co-producer Skeletor!

To harken in 2011 and to prepare for the release of their first album, they put out an EP featuring songs like Sparks, The Great and the Good, Ghosts and Conversations with Death along with an announcement that the album would be called Portraits.

They would also have a support slot with American hardcore band Attack Attack! in Wales in March to further promote Portraits and later in the month, they put it up for pre-order on Amazon.

Portraits was released for all the public to buy on April 11th which was met with great reception from both fans and critics. The critics in particular drew comparisons to The Clash and King of Blues and Kerrang magazine gave them an impressive 4K rating (out of 5 of course).

Meanwhile, everyone thinks Dave McPherson is racist!

Meanwhile, everyone thinks Dave McPherson is racist!

To further promote Portraits, they went on an another tour of the UK from May 3rd-21st which started at the Camden Barfly in London and ended at the Moho (now the Northern Quarter) in Manchester.

The band added another famous act to their CV by supporting The Darkness for three gigs in June to start off a massive Summer campaign which included Leopallooza in Cornwall, Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, Hevy Festival in Folkestone and another return to YNot.

Just after these tour dates, they released their first music video on Youtube (The Alarm was just footage from Nosferatu so it doesn’t count) for their first post-album release single The King is Dead that racked up over 1500 views in the first three days. It also has it’s own ‘making of’ video that was released a month after and was played on TV on channels like MTV, Kerrang and Scuzz!

Post-punk hard rockers in tons of make-up…seems legit!

Quite a heart-warming story rounded off the year for the Raptors as James Halstead of The Metal Hammer Podcast’s Gill and Beez show spearheaded a Facebook campaign to get Max Raptor to perform in the bedroom of a fan called Barney Hall who had written into Kerrang! magazine to state that his new favourite album was MR’s Portraits.

Sure enough, after some involvement from Kerrang! and Rock Sound, the campaign got so many likes and had spread so wide over the Internet (spawning the meme ‘We Are All Barney Hall’) that MR did a live stream of their performance in Hall’s bedroom on 18th December, an early Christmas present if there ever was one! (Listen to the audio here)

With 2012 came a major line-up change with Wilcox and Garrett departing (Wilcox had a child and Garrett pursued other music) to  former Blakfish and SOS member Reisner on drums and Chris Gilbert on guitar! Even more widespread appeal came and some of it didn’t come from a single gig/festival! In February, to coincide with the release of their second post-album single release Carolina, they went on…you guessed it…another UK tour!

EAT, SLEEP, TOUR, REPEAT!

EAT, SLEEP, TOUR, REPEAT!

Towards the end of the tour (the Portland Arms gig date on the 19th to be exact), they released their second official music video for Carolina directed by well-known music portrait photographer Tom Barnes who also directed the video for The King is Dead. The video soon received TV airplay on Scuzz much like their previous effort.

In between working on a second album in Bristol this time, they were nominated for Best Punk for the American Independent Music Awards! That was nice of them! They didn’t win the judge’s award, but they did win the Vox Populi (voice of the people) award which was the award based on the fan’s choice. The people have spoken!

Not only that, but they got more national attention when video game developers Codemasters decided to not only feature The King is Dead in the soundtrack of their game DiRT Showdown, but also had the song play over the official international trailer for the game!

It’s not Forza, but it’ll have to do!

And yet they still missed the scent of home! After festivals in Brighton on the same card as Maximo Park, they returned to Burton-on-Trent to be a part of Burtfest, playing to a moshin’ main stage crowd on June 16th! Bet you never thought you’d hear that festival’s name again did you? MUAHAHA!!!

After performing twice at the 2000 Trees Festival in July and ANOTHER YNot, they had massive news to deliver. Said news was that they would be playing at the appropriately massive Reading and Leeds Festival in August!

Not only were they playing at the festival, they also played on the BBC Introducing stage (them again!) in a set that brought a whole festival’s load of new fans with them and were the subject of a ‘cock-rockumentary’ filmed and edited by Stalbridge-based photographer Marianne Harris.

Gilbert sums it all up best!

Happy Raptor!

Towards the end of August, they released their third single Patron Saint of Nothing which was also the last single from Portraits they released in order to give that last hurrah to the first album before moving onto new material which they would play at gigs for the rest of the year.

Onwards to 2013 as MR were right at work developing the sound for their second album and announcing the year’s tour dates on social media which would include Hit the Deck in Bristol, Takedown in Southampton, TRUCK in Oxford (the Uni’s brilliant minds at work!) and a SIXTH SUCCESSIVE YNOT! They are to YNot what Arcade Fire are to…every festival!

In between these festivals, they released their first single Breakers from their then upcoming second album which was played on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show in June as well as having a music video.

Your visual aneurysm for the day!

Also in between the festival performances, they would gain two support slots with well-known punk acts (Of course!) with one being a 14 date tour with DINOSAUR PILE-UP and the other being with Alkaline Trio at the Islington O2 Academy.

September saw the second single release England Breathes on the 2nd and a free digital download of Grace and Favours on the 29th before the album itself Mother’s Ruin was brought out on the 30th to some damn good reception from fans and critics again!

This was just in time for another line-up change in October which saw Gilbert replaced by Winnington which was described by the Burton Mail as a ‘Doctor Who-like regeneration’!

Hopefully it wasn't this frightening!

Hopefully it wasn’t this frightening!

With a memorable performance at the UK Vans Warped Tour in London and having Radio 1 airplay once again in November (Must Work Harder was played), they announced two co-headliner tours with one in December with Attention Thieves and We Are Fiction and the other in January 2014 with Fort Hope.

Speaking of, with 2014 having rolled right around and with the festival announcements of Camden Rocks and goddamn Sonisphere being on MR’s minds along with new material, only time will tell how much more will come their way!

NOW! After all that, the gigs all over the country with many well-established acts and a whole nation of fans accrued, I bet you’re wondering how Brewtown Music thinks the music itself holds up? Well…………..

Property of Orion Studios and Warner Bros. Standard copyright procedure, sorry!

Alright, alright! I think that these four lads (seven if you count all members past and present) have made for some damn exciting press for the Brewtown scene and rightly so! With a band name inspired by the Guatemalan god of drinking and smoking and a dinosaur, you think they’d make a big impression wouldn’t you?

With crashing chords and thunderous vocals, Max Raptor have a hard rock/punk sound that is all their own and doesn’t come across at all whiny or petulant unlike some other bands who try to pull this style off. Each song has the potential to stick with you and have you screaming and chanting along with them, though there are some softer songs thrown in to calm you down (Heavy Hearts).

The lyrics of their song paint vivid pictures whether they be of domestic violence and broken families (Carolina) to painting a pretty cynical view of life in Britain (a good chunk of their discography)! If I were to choose two of these to check out, I’d go with The King is Dead and England Breathes.

The first of these selected tracks The King is Dead is a great primer for those who want to get into MR’s sound as it gives you a raw, visceral and blaring sound that is sure to give you the impetus to want to punch the guy moshing next to you in the face! (Seriously though, don’t do that. Use the nearest wall instead)

Ray gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect vocally with guttural conviction to what he’s singing and can lead you in unison to chant along the chorus of a song which gives you a taste of that Max Raptor brand cynicism and anger. The backing harmonies for the bridge only egg you on to join in further!

It paints, or should I say hammers on the canvas, a picture of a successful man’s life falling apart with the video above helping that image along (yay bondage!). Towards the end of the song, anger management is attempted with cool calm winter seas being the calming image in place which does no good in this scenario as we get right back to the anger. Definitely one for those down on their luck and wanting an empathetic release!

When the horse jumps it’s jump and it falls at the fence

You’re the first man to know.

What a joke that it is, there’s a time and a place

For this hole in the floor…

THE KING IS DEAD! THE KING IS DEAD!

Second out of the two, England Breathes sounds like a pretty patriotic number, but if you know the irony that permeates through punk music, you’ll know it’s got quite a sarcastic and biting side to it. The heavy guitar work, rumbling bass, pounding drums and passionate vocals are all there but it’s the lyrics that make it stand out.

The chorus in particular sums up a sincerely straight-forward attitude that is displayed by many English people who just want to get on with things and live their lives. It’s personal pride, not patriotic pride.

That’s not saying it as a local music fanboy, that’s the overall music fan in me wanting to scream “England breathes as it does, in and out and get over it!” because it gives me something to feel at least happy or content with the country I live in that it takes a Midlands band to produce a response like this! Still though, check it out for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it!

Whew! In closing, it’s been a long and epic journey for Max Raptor who have served as one of the biggest examples of Brewtown’s scene hitting the big time and leaving a massive dent in it! I can’t do their work justice, even with this massive post dedicated to them, so do yourself a favour and experience their stuff! It’s the 20 Brewtown brew, come on!! Either way, this has been Brewtown Music, serving you a big helping of Midlands tunes!

Max Raptor’s stuff

Official Website: http://maxraptor.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maxraptor

Naim Label page: http://www.naimlabel.com/artist-max-raptor.aspx

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/maxraptoryeah

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/maxraptor

Myspace: https://myspace.com/maxraptor

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Raptor

maxraptor_logo_black

Max Raptor 2

Brewtown #12: Jamie Beau

Beau Diddley!

Beau Diddley!

It’s soloist time once again in Brewtown with a finger-picking guitarist from the Mining town of Swadlincote who has made quite an impact in his first year of performing. The dandy young man Jamie Beau!

Beau (real name James Burton, fitting given this website!) is a singer/guitarist by performance and mix engineer by production which has him both sides of the glass when it comes to recording. Despite only being around for just over a year in the scene, he has made a great impression gaining opportunities to perform at the best festivals.

The VERY best!

The VERY best!

Beau comes from a family with five siblings and grew up in Swadlincote. He first started playing the guitar at 7 years old, took a break from it (since you have a very busy schedule at 7 years old) and then developed his musical interests further by taking up singing and performing in his teens as he rediscovered his passion for music.

Throughout his teens, he was in various bands and got his first taste in music production in 1996 when he went to his then guitar tutor’s studio to record the first song he ever wrote. As much as he was drawn to performing music, he was just as interested in the production aspect of music which he described as becoming “hooked on the process of recording then mixing, the meticulous attention to fine detail, the musicality and expression you can create and ultimately, the satisfaction with the end result.”

After graduating college with a distinction grade in sound engineering, he went for various music-related jobs such as a music teacher in Long Eaton in 2003 and going from a freelance sound engineer (started in 2005) to starting his own SE business JBB Studios in 2012. That kind of dedication is why sound engineers are well-respected by musicians for doing the job they do for whatever price.

And if bands try to slip out of paying them, something like this could happen!

It was also in 2012 when he decided to officially get back in the gig game in September and writing some new material while he was at it. Having been performing on and off as a solo artist since the early 2010s, Beau started using the experience he had gained in the industry through bands and sound engineering to make it on his own merit.

After this new start, one of Beau’s next gigs was amongst other sultry performers as he was put on as live music entertainment as part of a burlesque show in Derby in November run by Spotlight Burlesque and Cabaret. One of the burlesque performers on this night was Beau’s girlfriend known as Cadillac Arrest.

Some steamy burlesque night action here for you!

Some steamy burlesque night action here for you!

He would go the next month to perform at another burlesque show in Birmingham with Cadillac Arrest on the card once again as well as Great Scott! Great Scott Boylesque that is! Not the two muppets I’ve already written about! If they did burlesque…I can’t even come up with a fun analogy. It’s not pretty to think of!

But it was this year that Beau’s talents were able to flourish on both sides of the recording booth as well as getting some big time exposure. An off-stage example of his growing popularity in January when gained a new follower on his Twitter in the form of The Darkness! Spangly falsetto singing metal band you know? Gotta love their solo acoustic balladeers!

In February, one of his first gigs of the year came to be at Burton’s Royal Oak which was unfortunately interrupted by an abrasive heckler who Beau was able to fortunately able to sort out to continue the show. In between plenty of other gigs in the Midlands through Spring, in April, he announced the title of his first EP Shedding Skin as well as releasing a rather unique acoustic version of the Terminator theme! Yeah you saw that correctly, Terminator meets James Taylor!

You've got a friend John Connor!

You’ve got a friend John Connor!

The next month he went from one sci-fi classic theme to another as he was booked for a Boxman Media gig in Burton called StarFest on, appropriately enough, May 4th which would also feature the likes of Chris Baldwin, Lady and the Tramp, For the Kill and The Vibe. Two weeks later, he would be back in Burton again for another varied musical event which was Get Cubs‘ post UK tour homecoming show.

In June, Beau got some radio airtime on BBC Radio Derby where he along with Matt McGuinness of Derby folk act Karl and the Marx Brothers were interviewed about all things musically in the Midlands by Sally Pepper.

Later in the month, he was not only an attendee but also one of the performers at the world’s most famous music festival Glastonbury! OK, not on the main stage like the Rolling Fossils but just having a low key busking session amongst the organised chaos at Glasto! Also, one of his tweets was actually favourited by the Rolling Stones’ Twitter so that was cool too!

Go on, see if you can spot him!

Go on, see if you can spot him!

A week after his time at Glasto, he released Shedding Skin to positive reception from the likes of BBC’s Phil Trow taking note of his “Really powerful vocals” and event organisers Sidefest who said: “I can imagine seeing him perform at Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Strawberry Fields, and to an extent, Reading and Leeds, and believe he has the talent to do just that.” Well, he kinda has done one of those already so it sounds like he’s well on his way!

An official launch party for the EP took place on July 19th at The Blessington Carriage in Derby which also featured fellow Derby acoustic acts George Simpson, Brookfield and pianist Eleanor Lee.

August proved to be even busier for Beau with performances at YNot Festival, Furthest From the Sea Promotions (A Derby-based arts promoter) this time playing with Karl and the Marx Brothers, down south on Newquay beaches and back in Burton for a Bank Holiday Sunday music evening at the Wetmore Whistle with Sam Garrett, Star From Ivy, Exile84 and 5 Days of November.

He would then be constantly going between recording and performing as a solo act and with KATMB, mostly performing in Derby and recording tracks at Piggyback Studios in Bretby.

Expect no big cigars or anyone calling each other comrade here though!

The whole autumn so far has not been any less busy for him as he gigged everywhere from Derby, Nottingham, Hartlepool and back again. One major highlight being Derby Folk festival pulling double duty as a solo act and KATMB member. His recording credits outside of performing have been mixing and mastering works for George Simpson, Hertfordshire-based Tail Dennerstein and a sterling recommendation from award-winning Welsh singer/songwriter Phil Lewis.

So after all that, let’s look at the man’s music itself and see what it’s like. It’s great to see how much Beau has done as far as music in the Midlands goes and as a solo performer, he’s just as great at that as he is a sound engineer.

Beau’s great voice, guitar playing, lyricism and production are all highlighted on Shedding Skin and features four tracks that all have their own merits and don’t submit to generic singer-songwriter syndrome of all the songs sounding exactly the same. Let’s have a look at it shall we?

A great poster for Tim Burton's new Bob Dylan biopic isn't it?

Great poster for Tim Burton’s new Bob Dylan biopic isn’t it? (Artwork design by Becky Ryan)

Beau announced last week that his debut album was in the works and if this work is an indicator, I’m looking forward to it! With the upbeat yet introspective The Mill, the soothing acoustic choir in All Late, heavily instrumental heartbreak song Piece by Piece and simple yet effective live recording Shame I Met You, there’s a variety to his songs that is to be appreciated in order to keep a simple four track EP fresh with each listen.

The two tracks in particular I will pick as my favs are The Mill and Piece by Piece since to me they show Beau’s best qualities on both sides of the recording booth. The first of these two The Mill as said before begins the EP with an upbeat feel with not only the strings of the guitar being used but the hollow body is used as percussion. This method is used not only for live performances but also on the EP but the recording has additional layers to it that makes it stand out.

So I keep head down in the dead end mill
I’ll find a new place to wait
And the Waifs and Strays of the dead end mill
Will keep until I stagnate 
Why forever do I take the long way around?

A look into a man’s repetitious yet jolly existence awaits you.

The second of these being Piece by Piece has the highest amount of production involved with many intricate layers and instruments including guitars both acoustic and electric, backing vocals and xylophone give this song a larger feel but still a subdued, calming nature to it that fits with a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

SideFest who I mentioned earlier said that this song was “written for a group to perform…a boy band perhaps…but handled and carried well single-handedly.” There are hints of an acoustic boy band song in there but it’s mostly a soothing folk number. Still I can sort of see where they’re coming from.

It’s mainly a well done song about heartbreak that serves as a great way for Beau to show off his performing and production talents through and through. Check these songs out for yourself with the links below if you don’t believe me!

Somehow baby I always came to your defence
And I couldn’t hear the voice of reason making sense
It was taking me apart
Taking me apart
Piece by piece 
All I want is to find peace 

Simply put, Jamie Beau/James Burton is an all-rounder in terms of music. Being recommended by many for his own music and music he has produced for others, he is a versatile addition to Midlands music, whether it be in Burton, Derby or anywhere he is needed. Keep an eye out for him if he’s coming your way, you’ll appreciate it I’m sure. This has been Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes!

Beau/Burton’s stuff

Beau Official Website: http://jamiebeau.com

Burton Official Website: http://jbbsound.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamiebeaumusic

Bandcamp: http://jamiebeau.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jamiebeau

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamieBeauMusic

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/jamiebeaumusic

Beau 2

Brewtown #6: Great Scott

From left to right (or just left from where they're looking) - Young Criss and Jaws

From left to right (or just left from where they’re looking) – Young Criss and Jaws

Yo, waddup, peace and all those other frivolous things to say on the street! I present to you, Burton’s premier (code for ‘only’) hip hop act and co-owner of the best beard in the genre with Scroobius Pip, GREAT SCOTT!

Jacob ‘Jaws’ Wilshaw and Christoper ‘Young Criss’ Nicol form what they describe as “White boys + Hip Hop + Back to the Future references.” Simple yet effective and that’s how I’d personally describe Great Scott. A duo that don’t seem much at first glance, but have the charisma and, dare I say it, swagger to pull off an entertaining and flowing set that can get the crowd jumping, bumping, crumping or all of the above (oh the spines that have been broken attempting to do so!)

It’s the typical old school hip hop drill with record samples and scratches but with a Burton spin. I don’t know how most hip hop purists would take that, but it’s my blog and I’m sticking with it!

The story of This is Heavy” starts with a young lad from the Midlands raised by the sounds of the street and…his parents I’d assume, Jacob Wilshaw. From the age of 15, he was already recording mixtapes and performing at small gigs and open mic nights which is very much an anomaly in Burton on Trent since the majority of the music being recorded and performed there was rock while rap was incredibly scarce. Despite this, Jaws pushed on and did the regular gig pattern as all other local acts do and gained a following with some competition among the way. Some bitter, senseless, angry competition!

Although I’m less offended by the production and rapping than I am by the Microsoft Publisher job on this backdrop!

Just to remedy this, here’s a bit of Jaws’ early freestyle work with a small cameo from MC Dogwalker!

But where does the other half come in? Well Young Criss came into the picture in a similar fashion to Jaws, writing poems which then graduated into rap songs. In a way it still is isn’t it? It’s just got a beat and some obscure as hell record samples now! The two met in 2009 through watching each others performances and a mutual love of hip hop which spurred them to pool their talents together and start collaborating on each others work.

However they did need a beat maker, a DJ that would be able to create the beats and sound they needed to make fully fledged rap numbers out of their words to a simple beat. That man, originally was ‘Kid’ Keith Barlow, a Burton college tutor who was quite proficient on the decks and could make the instrumentals that the two MCs needed. Thus, “1.21 GIGAWATTS?!” had officially begun to make some noise!

And make some noise they did! These three refused to be pigeonholed into just being a novelty act but at the same time aimed to keep it real because by Criss’ own admission in a Burton Mail interview: “I’m a geeky guy with thick glasses and a bad haircut and I’m not trying to be something I’m not.” That and a kickass beard which probably would explain their rise to prominence in Burton music!

Since their start in 2010, “Why don’t you make a like a tree?” released their first EP No Strings in November 2011, have set out on national tours spreading from Derby to London, have performed on stage at big UK festivals such as Strawberry Fields, Y Not and Glastonbudget and have had their work promoted on BBC Radio Nottingham, Radio 1 and 1Xtra, being praised by Professor Green of all people and being able to meet Fearne Cotton while they were at it!

Well Fearne is accustomed to some right 'Lemons' so it seemed appropriate!

Well Fearne is accustomed to some right ‘Lemons’ so it seemed appropriate!

Hear their side of the story between their acoustic performances on BBC’s The Beat

But even in 2013 will all of this hype and release of upcoming single Back To the Boom Bap, the members of “Buttheads!” each have their side projects. Jaws has another rap project which is a collaboration with fellow MC Skrufayce and DJ Joe Bird Raptorial. Formed in 2010, a big highlight that comes from this collaborative effort includes a rap remix of the Rush classic Tom Sawyer which I don’t know what many rock purists out there will make of it but I’d recommend at least one listen.

Young Criss has another project, but not a musical project, at least not primarily. An independent clothing brand no less! Young Criss co-founded Rhymesquare with Jon Paul-Kaiser in 2012 as a way of taking the artwork that the two had done for years on the music covers of “88mph” and put them onto T-shirts for a way to help fund the band. The brand itself is represented by it’s mascot: A friendly little bear!

Or: Pedobear's nude(r) urban cousin

Or: Pedobear’s nude(r) urban cousin

Rhymesquare is also a collaborative effort with other local rappers, MCs and R&B artists to help gain exposure for other lesser known acts who want a push towards greater things. The most recent effort being a free download compilation album RhymeSquare Volume Four – Bridging The Gap which feature “We don’t need roads” themselves as well as Derby based Ska band Alex Blood and the DIggers and R&B and soul singer Jamie Joseph.

This year, the role of DJ has been re-branded from ‘Kid’ Keith to ‘Sixth Letter’ Fletch whose own work has been heard not just in the UK, but in Japan too! The debut single was the original 7” vinyl version of Heavy Stepper, released by 7 Hills Records, the second being a single called Masquerade under the pseudonym Mr.F on Curli-que Records and the third was the EP Feather Your Nest, released and distributed in Japan by Tokyo based Chateaudisc. Heavy Stepper was also playlisted by the legendary John Peel back in 2003!

But we come to the time again when we look past the history and look at them as an act. I can definitely see from their live performances and manner that they don’t take themselves seriously, but they take what they DO seriously which is an important mind-set for many different types of performance.

Even as one of the few hip hop acts from Burton, they do hold their own amongst the many rock acts in terms of production, performance and song-writing ability. Jaws’ sharp flow and cheeky delivery sets him up as the diminuitive smack-talker of the pair whereas Young Criss’ straight-forward approach makes him the stalwart of the two.

Their songs range from a one night fling and the clingy aftermath (No Strings Attached Pt 1 and 2), frustration with a nightclub not playing the music you want to hear (Indie Rock and Jagerbombs) and being so poor you’ll proclaim to the world that you’d rather go to your Mummy’s for a curry…hell yeah! (I Need Some Money).

Two songs I like in particular though are Grapevine and Miss Music. The first being their own hip hop version of the Marvin Gaye classic Heard It Through the Grapevine complete with a sample from said classic. It treads similar ground of the original with it’s themes of discovering a partner’s cheating ways but is delivered with fury from both Jaws and Young Criss. It does take a turn in the third verse though, with Jaws revealing that he is no better than the woman/women who’ve cheated on him before.

“I ain’t gonna lie I’ve done the same,

felt fly and decided to run my game.

Man I messed up and it wasn’t even worth it

But I guess that I deserved it!”

This contrast of morals is a welcome change and spin on the original song and addresses both sex’s casual attitudes towards adultery.

The second song Miss Music is a much more positive song with a slightly more complex production than the mix and sample routine of some of the previous numbers. Despite having a sample of Barefoot Jerry’s “Smokies”, drums, bass and saxophone are added to the mix from Lee Gilbert, Robert Makin and Gemma Bower respectively. The metaphor of being in love with music is obvious when you listen to the lyrics:

“The first time she could tell I was nervous 
A virgin when it came to spraying my verses
I introduced myself like “Yes, Mic Check”
Ever since right then she’s been stuck in my head”

But both Jaws and Criss deliver the metaphor with style and a touching honesty which in a way, shows a commitment and a drive towards doing the best for their craft, but before I make this analysis too cheesy, I’ll also state that the production is just as smooth with great deck work from Fletch and the guest instrumentalists who blend right in to the “Do we become assholes or something?” mix.

Despite at first seeming like a bunch of goofy white guys trying too hard to stand out from the crowd, Great Scott (Yes, I’ve exhausted my Back To The Future quotes!) have become one of the most popular acts in Burton on Trent beyond their initial appeal as rappers amongst rockers. As a source of variety, they prove themselves a welcome, confident pair (trio if you count the DJ) with scene cred as well as street cred. Before I become any less cooler trying to sound cool, I’ll just say this has been Brew Town Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes.

Great Scott’s stuff and other tidbits

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreGreatScott

Bandcamp: http://wearegreatscott.bandcamp.com/

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreGreatScott

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreGreatScott

WhoSampled: http://www.whosampled.com/Great-Scott/

Rhymesquare: http://www.rhymesquare.co.uk/

Raptorial Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rap-torial

The Sixth Letter: http://www.thesixthletter.co.uk/

Great Scott logo 2