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FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: FEELING YOUR AGE

Back in the day I had always mentally bracketed The Feeling with Scouting for Girls who I once described as refreshingly one-dimensional, probably doing a disservice to both acts. I remember the hits from The Feeling’s 2006 debut album, Twelve Stops and Home, but have to say I had rather lost touch with the band’s subsequent output. So, I was a bit surprised to see that five further albums had been and gone over a 19-year career to date and that a seventh, San Vito, came out last Friday.

 

Anyhow on Tuesday evening I was fortunate enough to make the short walk up Grove Lane to St John’s Church where the estimable good folk of Banquet Records were hosting another show; this time offering the chance for a surprisingly age-diverse crowd to catch up with The Feeling after all these years. The 5-piece had left behind its Hackney recording base and decamped to Salento in Southern Italy to write and self-produce the new record. While some local flavour has been added via some of the region’s musicians, San Vito is very much a record that stays true to the band’s core 70s-inspired pop sound.

Photos of The Feeling at St John’s Church, Kingston by Kevin England


Though it was to promote the new record, crowd-pleasing was equally on the agenda as the short set included five hits from the debut album and just three songs from the new one. The good news was that all had an immediacy that mirrored the familiar material. As one of the best known songs, “Fill My little World” was a bold opener but suffered a little from a lack of middle tones and a nasal delivery from front man, Dan Gillespie Sells. Paradoxically, the lead single from the new EP, “The Right Wrong”, then hit the spot with full dynamics, with stabbed piano picking a descending melody line and confident, falsetto stretched vocals.


The renewed dynamics continued for the rest of the set. “Never Be Lonely” was a singalong classic, sounding as fresh as the day it came out while “Foul Weather Friend” stood tall for the new album, though Dan needed a wee bit of technology to recall all the words. His vocal really came into its own on “Rosé” while “Sewn” equally had the stamp of classic pop.



“My Way Up” was for me a high point of the set with shades of Vampire Weekend laced through its strong melody and urbane vocals and capped by great unison guitar lines towards the end. The familiarity of “Love It When You Call” then put a seal on a lovely evening for all who were by then certainly not feeling their age.




From pop stalwarts to the new guard now. My first choice for this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition and with an unerring output of outstanding new songs, Maya Lane has featured regularly in these columns over the past two years. A prodigious talent at the tender age of 20, the London-based singer-songwriter seamlessly combines pop and country influences with a bohemian vibe redolent of the great days of Laurel Canyon. Already she has built a song catalogue that sits favourably alongside those of the best rising talents in her field.



Maya’s Glastonbury ETC entry song and opening single of 2024, “Bump Into Me”, brought about her first BBC Radio 1 airplay via multiple spins on Mollie King’s Future Pop show. Further recognition should follow with the release of Maya Lane’s new single, “Heart For A Heart.” The new song is rooted in country music sensibilities, telling a story of betrayal and revenge – fictional in its basis yet wholly relatable in its emotions. In the strummed guitar, softly underpinned beat and concise chorus, there is a touch of Dolly Parton about it all too. Vocally, as always, Maya’s effortless flow applies a smooth polish to everything.



What’s in a name? I was going to say that next up is another young London-based artiste similarly carving a niche for herself within the independent music scene and hopefully familiar to readers through past features in this column. However, Rome native and London ICMP alumna, Francesca Guerra has now taken on the stage name of Francesca Everly, a rebrand that may have been spurred on by frequent mispronunciation of her surname. Meanwhile Francesca continues to fuse influences from Italian Pop and British Indie to create a sound that is very much her own, while demonstrating her prowess live via London shows with her band as we saw in February at The Bedford.



Francesca has now released the first from a notable set of new material she aired at The Bedford show in the shape of “Flight Risk”, heralding a debut EP in the works. There is a stream of consciousness feel to the verses as her thoughts tumble out over an acoustic guitar bedrock. The conflicting notions of fight or flight play out against a sea of troubles, are put into check in the choruses and then released in a reflective bridge that spins off into a coda which resolves with a flourish into an escape. It is a very cleverly (no pun intended, Ms Everly) constructed song which Francesca successfully ices with her characterful, well-chosen vocals. 



There are some weeks when I am searching for a theme or realising that my carefully planned list of songs [you sure about this? – Ed] contains one that is not out till next Friday, the link I have is private and obviously the YouTube premiere has not happened. And there are others when everything proceeds like clockwork [some mistake here too? – Ed]. This has been one of them and you can guess which. So, let’s conclude with a random yet goodly find courtesy of YouTube.

 

I have searched high and low but my final choice, Lonnie Gunn, comes with little PR baggage that I can find. Her minimalist website provides scant help. Anyhow she appears to be Brighton-based and this little tale of unrequited sapphic love is accompanied by a fabulously watchable video with a motley role playing crew. “Jessie’s Pitbull” is a glorious collision of lo-fi and dream pop with a wonderfully impassioned slurred vocal and a tune that beds itself utterly into your grey cells. Marvellous.



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FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 

 

Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.

 

In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.

 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Selected dates in the London area:

Thu 23 May: Jon Allen, The Bedford, Balham

Fri 24 May: Grace Cummings, The Lexington, London N1

Thu 30 May: Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Greenleaf  Church, London E17

Fri 7 Jun: Goat Girl, Disco Room - Pryzm, Kingston

Sat 8 Jun: Bat For Lashes, St John's Church, Kingston

banquetrecords.com: See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston

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