WHEN WE STAY QUIET WE ARE ALSO MORE POWERLESS – AN INTERVIEW WITH SUNFLOWER BEAN

by Rowan Gavin

Sunflower Bean are a band who know what they’re about. Sitting down with the trio of 22 year old New Yorkers ahead of their show at Norwich Open on March 26th, it becomes immediately apparent how certain they are of their musical and political convictions. Drummer Jacob Faber, guitarist Nick Kivlen, and bassist & vocalist Julia Cumming made quite a splash with 2016’s debut Human Ceremony and its fresh-yet-eerily-familiar blend of indie, punk, psych and alternative sounds.

Having previously visited the Fine City when they supported London alt-rockers Wolf Alice, they returned to headline here for the first time at Open off the back of their entrancing second album Twentytwo In Blue, which was already making waves when I spoke to them three days after its release.

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REVIEW: BUTTERFLIES, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM ZAIA

By Rowan Gavin and Liam Hawkes

“We break the rules”

So says lead singer Amy MacKown on Simple Tune, the penultimate track of the debut album from Oxford’s current premiere Reggae outfit, ZAIA. We wouldn’t say they break the rules so much as blend and bend them, juggling genres and playing with preconceptions throughout this fascinating and infectious summertime record.

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A SEAT AT THE TABLE

by Candice Nembhard

‘A Seat at the Table’ is the newly debuted project by the enigmatic Solange Knowles. The 21 track album marries intricate layers of R&B with densely packed lyrics, carving open a bigger space to discuss the beauty of black creatives. With features from the likes of Kelly Rowland, Q-Tip, Sampha and Kelela – not forgetting incredible production credits from Raphael Saadiq – there is no denying that Knowles is opening and changing the space for admiring and respecting black creativity.

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NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL BREXIT

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by Mike Vinti

Are you hungover and full of existential dread? Do you have a crippling fear that life will never be the same? Have you said the phrase ‘let’s face it, we’re fucked’ in the last 24 hours? If you have, then boy, do we have just the songs for you.Continue Reading

WOMEN AND PUNK: SHAPING THE GENRE 40 YEARS ON

by Chris Jarvis

Last week, Music That Matters looked at the 40th anniversary of punk and how our understanding of its history is typically one which erases the efforts and achievements of women musicians and people of colour. Today, the scene is often still seen as a male and white space, with punk shows frequently having male dominated crowds queuing up to see white men thrashing on guitars in shabby venues.

But it looks like things are changing. 2016 feels like it is becoming a rebirth of women in punk, and critically, as if it is women of colour who often are leading the way. More women are touring, more are getting bigger stages and longer sets, and more are getting the media coverage that they deserve. Among the nostalgic reflection, this year, dozens of punk albums will be released. Some will become instant classics, others will fade from memory as quickly as they came. Here are 10 bands leading the British punk scene this year, and the women that are making them shape the future of the genre.Continue Reading

BLAST FROM THE PAST – CHRISTINA AGUILERA: STRIPPED

by Carmina Masoliver

I have a strange memory of Christina Aguilera performing Genie in a Bottle on Top of the Pops and my dad asking if I liked her songs. Strange, because it’s so unremarkable to be kept inside my head. At this stage I her career, she had made her big break, and soon enough I was listening to her album, with hits such as What a Girls Wants and Come On Over (All I Want Is You). Yet, it was three years later, when she released what I will always think of as her best album: Stripped.

I was having a hard time at school, and listening to this album was the very definition of empowering. I had been pushed out of a friendship group during a time where looking back, I honestly believe I was depressed, and this escalated to the extent where I felt I was a target for lots of different groups at school. I did make some new friends, and remember connecting with one of them through a shared love of this album. This was before we had learnt to talk about why it is that Beautiful holds so much resonance with us, but fourteen years later and we are still friends, now sharing a love of bell hooks.Continue Reading

LOVE, HERB AND REGGAE – AN INTERVIEW WITH TAJ WEEKES

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by Chris Jarvis

February 12th saw the release of St Lucian born musician Taj Weekes’ fifth full length album Love Herb and Reggae – a collection of fourteen bouncing, mellow reggae tunes with his band Adowa. In 51 minutes, Taj’s lyrics cover the full assortment of reggae’s lyrical history, touching on politics, human rights, marijuana and love. And yet from the opening hook, to its final, fading gasps, it never slips into cliché or stereotype, proving itself to be original and unique and without doubt their strongest record to date.

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