Category Archives: Music

The Festive 15. Part.1: 15-11

Jonathan O’Shea returns to share his top fifteen tracks of 2014 over the course of the next three days. In this inaugural instalment, the 2011 ‘Midlands rear of the year’ nominee counts down numbers 15 through 11.

Gruff Rhys

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, is on the way to becoming an annual tradition (I think this the 6th one).

Each Christmas holiday, I like to review the great new music that’s been produced over the past twelve months and make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking some of it and then clumsily boxing it up like a scraggy bundle of deep-fried chicken. Then I present it to the world.

Here, in the first slice of a triple-header, I give name five of the past twelve months’ stand out releases that narrowly missed out on top ten honours.

15. Temporary Ground – Jack White

Straying across archetypal White Stripes slide-guitar territory, and lending brilliant use of Lillie Mae Rische’s ethereal vocals, this song even has a gleefully ghoulish whistling bit halfway through.

14. Talking Backwards – Real Estate

For anyone who’s endured the silent torture of time spent with a loved one who only ever hears their own version of events. A delightfully dreamy way of airing a universal frustration.

13. Government Trash – Death From Above 1979

Sonic assault on…well, everything (I think). Three minutes of relentless ass-kicking anti-authoritarianism. “Nothing is free/Call the police/They dress to kill/I dress to die!” You get the idea.

12. Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be) – Gruff Rhys

Builds from a shuffle into a strident, if typically wry, ode to freedom (and Welsh pioneers.) Glorious pedal-steel guitar too.

11. Archie, Marry Me –  Alvvays

Instant indie classic. Melancholic Camera Obscura-esque vocals, wonderfully witty wedding-related lyrics about floral arrangements and bread-makers, and lilting 90s guitars.

Remember to tune back in tomorrow to find out which tracks made the cut for positions 10-6. If you do we’ll save a puppy, if you don’t we’ll slump into rice milk addiction and over zealous bouts of tea bag folding.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

101 Great Albums. No.5: The Fugees – The Score

Released in 1996 under the label of Columbia/Ruffhouse Records, The Score was the second and final studio album recorded by The Fugees and contained an assortment of choice hip-hop tracks and homages.

Lauryn Hill: Widely regarded as the premier female rapper on the planet in 1996
Lauryn Hill: Widely regarded as the premier female rapper on the planet in 1996

A cover of Roberta Flack’s 1973 chart topper, “Killing Me Softly” received a Grammy award and allowed Lauryn Hill to fully exhibit her stirring vocals . The second single released from the album, it emulated the  original by reaching number one in 16 countries.

“Ready or Not” is another to benefit from sampling, this time using Enya’s Boadicea as a backdrop for verses and the Delfonics’ “Ready Or Not, Here I Come” during a pulsating chorus.

This time Hill demonstrates her prowess with the spoken word, unfurling a pinpoint delivery to elucidate why she was at one point widely regarded as the premier female rapper on the planet. With that said, it would be remiss to disregard the dynamic patter of band mates Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel, both of whom feature heavily throughout the LP.

While those two compositions are probably the most easily recognised among non-Fugee patrons, there is much more to The Score than a couple of big hits.

“Cowboys” is energetic and thought provoking, “No Woman, No Cry” a satisfying cover (even though admittedly obedient to the Bob Marley original) and title track “The Score” combines a job lot of cuts from other parts of the album with a punctuation of bass guitar to provide an almighty dissonance.

Later versions of the album include the expletive drizzled “Mista Mista”, where Jean takes a pragmatic view of a homeless person who has abused the kindness of a stranger, including a string of “mother fuckers”, it varies between emotion and dark humour.

A string of adaptations of the original “Fu-gee-la” are also available on later issues of the album, with the global remix the pick of the bunch.

An exceptional release, “The Score” should have a place in the collection of any hip-hop habitué, serving as a valuable vestige to the pinnacle of the Fugees’ collaborative output. 

Homage: The Score had contributions from a number of performers

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

101 Great Albums. No.4: Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life

During his 1972-80 pomp Stevie Wonder released a litany of LPs that could easily end up featured in this series, the first of those is the 21-track double album and bonus EP, Songs in the Key of Life, released through Motown/Universal in 1976

Songs in the Key of Life. Stevie Wonder.

The dedication afforded during the recording and production of a tirelessly crafted album is clear from the early going of “Songs in the Key of Life”, with the buoyant tempo of ‘Sir Duke’, funk infused ‘Ordinary Pain’ and exquisite ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet’ stand-outs among the initial gambits.

The second stanza commences with one of Wonder’s most enduring memoirs, “Isn’t She Lovely”, a song penned in celebration of the birth of his daughter Aisha. Although unapologetically effusive, the unbridled elation of Stevie’s contagiously raspy mouth organ solos provides enough value to balance musical integrity with saccharine sentiment.

“As” is another breezy poesy that embellishes the tranquil aura of the album, covered by George Michael and Mary J. Blige in 1999, this is one of a string of songs that were subsequently sampled on future tracks.

To that end, the pertinence of “Songs in the Key of Life” remains palpable within the contemporary music scene; “I Wish” receiving a belated homage via Will Smith’s “Wild West” and, more notably, the eerie “Pastime Paradise” responsible for placing American rapper Coolio on the mainstream map, with his pimped out, updated “Gansta’s Paradise”, topping 18 separate singles charts upon issue in courtesy of a mid-1990’s interpretation of the original.

Opinion is split amongst disciples of Wonder, over where the pinnacle of his output can be pinpointed; although Innervisions may have the higher hit rate, ‘Life’ is a more expansive LP that reflects a transitional passage in the career of an enduring artist whose zenith undoubtedly occurred during this decade – providing a vital facet of an astounding legacy.



Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

101 Great Albums. No.3: Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

Released in 1977, ‘Rumours’ was Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album and narrated a drug-fuelled tale of waning love, interpreted through the gaze of a host of trembling optics – with four of the quintet in the midst of ending relationships with one another.

Fleetwood Mac Rumours

Two of those, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks, provided evidence of these varying circumstantial concepts on this seminal LP, with the former’s venomous ode ‘Go Your Own Way’ in stark contrast to the latter’s sweetly melancholic ‘Dreams’ – two of Rumours’ most captivating tracks, and the first single releases from the album.

With all of the shenanigans and discord behind the scenes, the sanctuary of studio life in Miami and Los Angeles provided soft-rock refuge for the group, of whom only Mick Fleetwood wasn’t a victim of protracted heartache (although he did sleepwalk his way through a cocaine stimulated affair with Stevie Nicks during recording.)

Stevie Nicks

Back to the music; ‘The Chain’ provides a glimpse into a  collective self-imposed siege mentality – the band refusing to allow personal trauma to derail their aspirations as an assemblage.

Thudding percussion perfectly compliments dynamic vocals and loose guitar strains, while a scintillating guitar bridge is routinely featured on BBC formula one racing coverage, sounding as fresh today as it did upon inception almost 40 years formerly.

singer-pianist Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop” is another compelling glimpse behind the fourth wall, with her marriage to bass player spouse John another affiliation glaring down the barrel of imminent dissolution.

It’s not all out warfare though, with the soothing ‘Never Going Back Again’ exquisitely dovetailing Buckingham and hubby McVie’s duelling acoustic strings alongside a plethora of harmonising vocals.

The blissful ‘Songbird’ is perhaps better known by many for later incarnations from Eva Cassidy and Willie Nelson, but Ms McVie, who composed and performed the track, delivers it with typically unassuming benevolence.

Rumours remains at the apex of Fleetwood Mac’s extensive body of work, with an abstract amalgamation of remorse, acrimony, anguish and empathy. It’s no surprise that it’s the seventh highest selling studio album of all-time, with almost 40 million copies sold to date.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

101 great albums. No.2: Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

At the turn of the new millennium Marshall Bruce Mathers III, better known as Eminem, released his much anticipated third solo album, The Marshall Mathers LP.


Expectations surrounding the rapper’s output had soared after the previous years’ release of The Slim Shady LP, which infinitely raised the profile of a peroxide blonde rapscallion who had only a few years earlier faced eviction from his home having been unable to keep up with the rent.

Rather than trek down the well worn route of other tricky third albums, TMMLP cemented Eminem’s legacy as a bona fide superstar, supplying a combustible cocktail of dark, vitriolic wordplays, derisive satire and light-hearted skittishness.

Highlights include ‘Stan,’ the fictional Dido supported narrative of an obsessed fan whose letters grow increasingly frantic, before culminating in tragedy, the exasperating anecdotal essence of ‘The Way I am’, light-hearted pop infused ‘Real Slim Shady’ and deeply disturbing ‘Kim’.

‘Bitch Please II’ is another triumph, with the collaboration of a host of hip-hop’s big hitters and upbeat tempo combining to create a potent and gratifying arrangement. ‘Criminal’ is another to provide a catchy riff, this time attached to irresistibly tongue-in-cheek confab.

None of this is surprising, indeed from the get go it’s clear that this is going to be an exhilarating expedition; the album inaugurates with a short skit and the tightly bound ‘Kill You’, a track that contains some superlatively sarcastic street thug vernacular;

Cause ladies screams keep creeping in Shady’s dreams
And the way things seem, I shouldn’t have to pay these shrinks this eighty g’s a week to say the same things. Tweece! Twice? Whatever, I hate these things…

Opinion is divided apropos the pinnacle of Slim Shady’s creative output, but this was a richly fertile period in his career, a time when he truly did have things to gripe about and plenty of original turns of phrase to share with an increasingly beguiled audience. 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

101 great albums. No.1: Love – Forever Changes

Looking through Rolling Stone magazine’s (Beatles obsessed) top 500 albums of all time, I was more than a wee bit surprised to see a band I’d never heard of listed at number 40.

Love Forever Changes 2

Love were a group on the brink of a heavily drug induced breakup during the summer of 1967, but were coerced into recording a third and final LP by their label, Elektra, who felt that there was plenty of juice left in the (ahem) Love machine.

Widely regarded as the band’s masterpiece, Forever Changes  was slow to gain popularity in their native USA, but later became a cult classic and gained retrospective acclaim for its ground breaking, genre-juggling nature. Interestingly it was immediately embraced in Great Britain.

A largely acoustic cut, Love’s front men, Arthur Lee and Bryan Maclean, are credited with much of the unpredictability associated with the final product, the latter given most credit for the vibrancy and freshness of the sound and dexterity of lyrical acuity.

So flavoursome were the recordings that Neil Young was at one stage mooted as a possible producer, something that proved to be little more than a myth.



There are several noteworthy singles on offer here, although if there is one minor criticism it’s that the opener, “Alone Again Or”, provides the album’s zenith, with its mariachi-brass fuelled energy an unobtrusive listen, setting an implausibly lofty water mark that the rest of the album can’t quite compete with, albeit extending a commendable attempt.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Duveaux Kickstarter appeal

Upon the oft laid back landscape of the Isle of Wight many local musicians have been content to settle into a well worn routine, treading the boards of regular pubs and night spots. For that reason it is refreshing to witness occasions when the glass ceiling is given a prod by those with steeper ambitions.

Dan Duveaux 4

Signals got the ball rolling earlier this year with a couple of successful UK tours, while fellow Platform One graduate Claydon Connor was among ten nominees for a UMA Best of British Unsigned gong.

Rock quintet Duveaux could be the next to cast their net beyond surrounding shores, with plans to tour the South Coast and Midlands already in the works.

The band need to raise £2000 in order for the tour to take place and to accelerate the release of a new EP, and have chosen to try and raise this dosh via the medium of Kickstarter. Progress has been pleasing, but could do with (ahem) a kick start after stagnating a tad in recent days.

Of course there are many questions that may jolt through your mind’s eye at this point, so we at Kureen will attempt to do a Derren Brown and answer a few of these.


How can we help?

Duveaux, like many musicians, are not in a position that makes these lofty aspirations financially viable. They only earn enough to pay the rent and scrape cold baked beans out of a can every now and again to sustain them.

With a small donation (link at the bottom of the page) you can assist in making dreams come true. The pentad have paid their dues by now and after two years of blood, sweat and broken strings it would be great to see that endeavour rewarded.


I’ve never heard of them, so why would I want to help anyway?

Click the link below to see and hear them in action. The boys are straight out of Compton… Bay and have a dynamic stage presence that stands out from many of the crowd. Think rock theatre with a pinch of gypsy-jazz thrown in for good measure.


How much have they raised so far?

At last view the guys had raised £343 and given away a beautiful coat. With departure from the Isle now costing a fair chunk of change, that’s probably enough to get a couple of ferry tickets across to the other side of the Solent, but that’s about it.


What’s in it for us though?

Duveaux are offering rewards on an incremental scale on their Kickstarter page, culminating with the saintly donation of  £400+, for which they’ll turn up at your house or party and play a personal gig!

Not listed on the site is that should you donate the full remaining balance of £1657, then not only will Duveaux play at your house or party, but the entire band will take turns to go on speed dates with you.

Please donate to Duveaux’s Kickstarter campaign —> here <— and click ‘like’ on their Facebook page —> here <— 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Bestival 2014: 10 local acts that you won’t want to miss!

The UK’s summer festival season comes hurtling towards its conclusion next weekend, with the Bestival taking place at Robin Hill Park on the Isle of Wight.

While the likes of Outkast, Beck and Busta Rhymes have justifiably dominated much of the build up to the event, there are also a host of local acts set for action, Dom Kureen takes a looks at ten of the best (including two adopted ‘Caulkheads.’)


1. Claydon Connor (Bandstand: Friday, 10am)

Yes, I know – 10am on Friday at the Bestival is usually when the previous night’s revellers are contemplating hitting the hay for their daily power nap, or latecomers are lugging tents and booze towards their desired patch of turf, but Claydon Connor is a singer/guitarist well worth rousing yourself to witness.

An erstwhile scholar at the Isle of Wight’s Platform One music college, the 26 year old’s debut album, ‘Feels Like Home,’ released in 2009, provided a glimpse of the predominantly acoustic indie-rock musings of a raw artist who didn’t sound entirely comfortable with the genre.

A welcome evolution towards country/Americana rock is evident in Connor’s summer 2014 LP, ‘Under The Big Sky,’ where subtle, captivating instrumental strains accompany increasingly confident and sentimentality dripping vocals – a fact borne out by some rousing, evocative recent live performances, including a memorable Kashmir Cafe set at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival.


2. Buddy Carson (Bandstand: Saturday, 12pm)

When it comes to spoken word (or poetry to give it the ‘non-kid friendly’ moniker), Bestival regulars Kate Tempest and Scroobius Pip are indisputably once again the marquee names on the bill.

There are some real hidden gems amongst the other performers though, with Buddy Carson a must-see for anyone who enjoys intoxication by rhythmic rhetoric.

Hailing from these shores, the talented wordsmith’s work with Flip The Script and Stand Up For Lyricism has not only allowed a myriad of youngsters to benefit from his wisdom, but also brought his regularly anecdotal based introspections to a fresh audience. Even more annoyingly he’s a bloody marvellous singer, nifty with a Cajón drum and regularly donates money to charity without tipping buckets of ice water over himself!


3.  Plastic Mermaids (Matua Stage: Friday 2pm & Bandstand: Friday 8pm)

Mermaids have given this writer a lot to be grateful for: A 1984 film where Tom Hanks gets jiggy with a fish, a cartoon to put on when my niece is getting out of hand and of course that movie simply entitled ‘Mermaids’ with a Cher soundtrack that traumatised my childhood in the early 90’s during what seemed like a 400 week run at the summit of the charts.

Recently I discovered one more delight; this time in the shape of wonderfully experimental 5-piece Plastic Mermaids, now in their fifth year as a collective. Oozing eccentricity, the band’s increasing profile has ensured regular sell-out gigs around the UK and an expanding appreciation from other sections of the industry, with their tracks providing the backdrop for a slew of campaigns and websites.

Dropping début EP, Drømtorp, earlier this month (think early Syd Barrett meets Röyksopp), the quintet were apparently directly earmarked by Bestival top brass as a must-have psychedelic component of the festivities. They play twice, so there’s no reason to miss out.


4. Ba.Dow (Main Stage: Friday, 12pm)

Ba.Dow delivered the goods under intense pressure to deservedly win the Bestival battle of the bands competition earlier this year, having seen off pre-comp favourites Pleasurade and Duveaux.

Starting life as a four-piece, the departure of original front-woman Charlie Jones meant that drummer Jodie Amos was thrust into a dual role, a move that proved a catalyst in accelerating the remaining trio’s development, her spine tingling diction exquisitely supplementing the frequently catchy guitar riffs of Sam Morris and Bradley McGinty.

Expect them to emulate last year’s band competition winners Signals and deliver a stellar half-hour set, gaining a multitude of new devotees in the process – Ba.Dow will be in their element on the main stage.


5. Wille and The Bandits (Bandstand: Saturday, 1pm)

For many attendees the highlight of the 2014 Rhythmtree hippy free-for-all was provided by the high-octane, unpredictable performance of soulful trio Wille and The Bandits, a group consisting almost entirely of big hair and ear popping instrumental sequences.

A 2011 Daily Telegraph write-up describing them as one of the most exciting unsigned acts in the country has been followed by a range of other ringing endorsements from the likes of BBC Radio One and The Independent newspaper earlier this year.

It’s clear that Wille and his bandits have been placed on a pedestal by a clutch of illustrious media outlets – hype vindicated every time they set foot on stage. Despite not being natives, the Isle of Wight has become the guys’ home away from home, as well as a location that accounts for a decent chunk of their rapidly expanding fanbase.


6. Fine Lines (Bandstand: Thursday, 4.30pm)

Fine Lines are an Isle of Wight folk/alternative rock sextet who are something of a local super group, with the majority of members having resided on lofty solo perches before combining forces to create a musical equivalent of The Avengers.

The three singers’ voices mesh well and those who witnessed them at Chorderize in 2013 were unanimous in their praise of the eclectic talents on show, there’s no chance of the ensemble becoming typecast with the likes of Floella Grace, Hester Chambers and Gareth Ashworth each bringing wide ranging interpretations to irksomely catchy compositions.

Half of the band can sing and half can play the guitar – but which halves? Only those who dare to visit the Bestival site as early as 4.30pm on Thursday will ever know.


7. Too Many T’s (Main stage: Friday, 2pm)

Hip-hop like it used to be, Too Many T’s, aka Ross Standaloft and Leon Rhymes, mix shtick with the occasional bout of seriously deep retrospection, atop a series of catchy backing tracks courtesy of DJ Savage Henry.

Since forming in 2011, the pair have built a reputation as one of the most authentic old-school rap acts on the British circuit, winning critical acclaim from a host of highly respected authorities on the genre, including the Bestival’s own curator Rob Da Bank.

Performing on the main stage, expect a blitz of lyrics and beats that’ll have even the grouchiest toddler head banging from their push chair. Essential listening for hip-hop fans.


8. Duveaux (Random open mics)

There’s more than a hint of The Divine Comedy about the way Dan Duveaux theatrically fronts the band that carries his surname, although that’s where the similarities end.

A nattily attired five-piece, the indie-rockers performed more than half a dozen times during this year’s Isle of Wight Festival and have remained impressively active throughout the summer, never afraid to experiment with a pleasingly reliable stream of new material.

Simultaneous with that unrelenting work ethic has been an inevitable increase in stage presence and while it may be the front man whose name is on the posters, there’s no doubt that it is the collaborative talent on show that makes Duveaux such a must-see band.


9. The Ohmz (Roots Reggae Stage: Thursday, 6pm & Bandstand: Saturday, 2pm)

In their own words: The Ohmz formed when five goats from a farm wandered into a reggae and tea night at the local, discovered they shared a love of tea (and reggae) and decided to write some songs about that.

Mutual adoration of tea aside, this reggae five-some might be the closest thing that the Isle of Wight has to Bob Marley and the Proclaimers, despite local crooner Derek Sandy’s claims to the contrary.

Booked to fill afternoon and early evening slots, The Ohmz will undoubtedly create a couple of the grooviest, most laid back atmospheres of the entire weekend.


10. Signals (Bandstand: Saturday, 1pm)

Signals are a math-pop, female-fronted four-piece from the Isle of Wight… That’s what all the press releases say.

What the hell is math-pop you ask? Although it sounds like something akin to Carol Vorderman giving live birth on Countdown, it’s actually a genre of music – that’s right, another genre – f**k, I’d only just learned the old ones.

Genres aside, Signals are an explosive, exciting band with a brilliant lead singer in Ellie Price and one of the finest bass guitarists that the Isle of Wight has ever produced in the shape of Alex Vanblaere (he’s the one rocking the hipster look.) They were the first Platform One band that really seemed to blaze a trail beyond the safety of their island and today provide a benchmark for the rest to strive for.

Like the list? Think someone’s missing? Let us know in the comment section below and please like our Facebook page! Most importantly, please support all of the bands mentioned and go and see them if you find time.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Rhythmtree Festival 2014

Another weekend means another festival for Dom Kureen – here’s what the man with mud and music in his veins made of Rhythmtree.

Butterfly Rhythmtree

 It was immediately clear from the familiar ruts underfoot and comforting pong of mellow herb that another music festival had arrived during a season now positively crammed with them.

Right from the start there was no doubting that Rhythmtree had little intention of following the worn out blueprint utilised by a myriad of its flat pack, paint by numbers contemporaries, with an unshackled aura taking the place of tawdry amusements and £6 pints of under-strength ale.

That said, this is a festival that knows the limitations it faces, with few tickets selling for the diminutive, unassuming Calbourne farm venue, the two main stages only a couple of hundred metres apart and a demographic mainly consisting of families and hardcore hippies.

Glastonbury this ain’t.

Rhythmtree hippies

Not that any of the above is necessarily negative, for what sets Rhythmtree apart from the tens of local summer music festivals and hundreds of national ones is a celebration of natural phenomenon.

The scene is eerily reminiscent of the inaugural Bestival, where local attendees were bound to cross the path of at least a dozen familiar faces during a soiree from one end of the site to the other.

The friendly, unassuming atmosphere organically promotes a desire to approach new people without fear of offending them, and the usual drama seeking rabble associated with such occasions are notable only by their absence.

The music over the weekend complimented the surrounding energy, with reggae, funk and psychedelic rock the genres most often audible, although far more besides were touched upon.

Stand-out performances came from a multitude of acts:

Willie and The Bandits arguably provided the highlight of the weekend. The Cornish rockers followed up their stellar Glastonbury set with another sensational performance, sending a crammed Didge Cafe Stage into raptures.

Particularly eye-catching was the 6-string bass guitar wielding Matthew Brooks, whose original take on the instrument perfectly complimented the band’s unpredictable compositions.

Prince Fatty was another groovy addition to the line-up, bouncing between memorable instrumental backdrops with breakneck lyrics and effortless crowd interaction.

Fellowship of Groove played a tricky midday slot on Sunday, filling the silence with sounds that surely forced even the crankiest attendee to crack a wee smile and suspend any lurking alcohol fuelled friction.

Tankus The Henge‘s hour long set on Saturday night was intoxicating. The London based 5-piece rattled along, with their steam powered piano and thunderous tempos ensuring that even the regular rabble of Sudoku filling chillers synonymous with the Didge Cafe were soon jumping around like Kriss Kross in their 1992 pomp.

Rhythmtree red hat
Rabbit Foot’s Jamie Morgan

Other bands of note were bongo/guitar duo Rabbit Foot, who engaged a small crowd despite some initial audio issues and local indie-rockers Duveaux,  a group that seem to play at every festival I attend, but I’m still not sick of the sight of them, so that’s got to mean something, right? (They debuted a new single at Rhythmtree and put on a good show as always.)

Of the headliners, The Bees made a rare appearance on the Isle of Wight as a collective – trumpets and guitars blaring and funk driven reminiscence of seminal album ‘Free The Bees’, which shot the guys into the nation’s consciousness during 2004-05.

Despite their star dimming over the course of the past decade, the joyful, infeasibly catchy ‘A Minha Menina’ (below, as featured on the soundtrack for ‘Kick Ass 2’) provided one of the lasting memories of the three days.

Aswad, on the other hand, blended into the scenery with a set that varied between autopilot and apathy. Pulling out their big guns ‘Don’t turn around’ and ‘Shine’ during the encore didn’t compensate for a below-par set that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the mid-card.

Of course, the music is only one aspect of the festival and for the most part it was exceptionally booked, delivered and received.

That could be any music event on the loaded calendar though, what made Rhythmtree stand out was the dearth of commercialism, the celebration of nature and an as yet unspoiled gathering of people all looking to have a good time with no concern for the superficial.

The woodland area could do with being utilised a little more fluidly during the daytime, so beautiful a canvas it provides, but everything else ostensibly ran like clockwork.

If you’re looking for a festival in 2015 that is a throwback to less corporate times then I can’t recommend Rhythmtree highly enough, it might be one of the few remaining whose predominant focus is music and celebration rather than lining pockets of already wealthy promoters and, refreshingly, there were no tacky sponsor signs blasting visitors in the face upon arrival.

Rhythmtree band
Tankus The Henge: rocked out with ticker-tape and smoke machines.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Popping The Glastonbury Cherry

Sceptics claim that it’s become too commercial, with bands such as Metallica undermining its heritage, while devotees insist that it remains the world’s premier music festival – but what did Dom Kureen make of his first Glastonbury Festival recently?

Glastonbury 23
By the time of my 13th and final day at Worthy Farm, Pilton, the blisters on my feet were long replaced by oozing sores and the 2-3 hours of sleep between bouts of heavy manual labour and heavier partying had finally rendered me a zombified meat puppet with the motor skills of the elephant man’s physically inferior cousin…

It was so worth it!

For more than a decade I’d longed to visit this place, to be woven into its quivering fabric and fight my way through steamy, intoxicated bodies towards the barrier closest to the domineering Pyramid Stage (the latter of which I achieved on a surprisingly regular basis.)

The music and main stages provide the platform for the bulk of mainstream media coverage of the event, but in truth are a mere speck on an expansive landscape. A quiet village transformed for five enchantingly bizarre, unapologetically ‘balls out’ days that somehow manage to encompass virtually every genre of entertainment.

Human beatboxing in tents, tightrope walkers, the rasping of kazoos from octogenarian lips – These are just the tip of the iceberg.

People start young, the stories shared by 30-somethings who began their Glastonbury life when a few months old, with parents refusing to miss the show regardless of a freshly baked sprog attempting to crash the party.

To witness the intricacy of the stages around Block 9, Shangri-La and Arcadia is an experience that can leave a first time spectator in a perpetual state of awe, the level of which possibly correlates directly with the amount of brain altering supplements that have been ingested.

Then there’s the Stone Circle: a blatant homage to Stonehenge that is equal measures spiritual haven and Silk Road in living colour. It pays to be vigilant – one festival goer this year having deceased at the tender age of 26 after an adverse reaction to some Ketamine laced with other substances which he allegedly purchased on site.


With all emotion to one side, this isn’t uncommon or unexpected at a five day free-for-all with an attendance of close to 200,000, regardless of some tabloids’ attempts at hyperbolic pro-drug war propaganda.


Make no mistake, Glastonbury Festival is special. Forget the rain, the state of the toilets and all of that bloody mud! There is something in the Pilton air that puts everything into perspective – be it money, life choices or simply the kind of people you choose to surround yourself with.

For yours truly Glastonbury granted a truly life changing couple of weeks that ultimately cleared a formerly clouded psyche, I advise everyone to at least visit once.




Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.