Monday, 18 February 2013

Gig Review: Rough Comforts

A little gig review I wrote for university...

Rough Comforts at The Lifeboat, Margate 19/12/12

Kent-based singer-songwriter wins over a home crowd with his heartbreakingly beautiful songs.

“Should I just start now?” asks Rough Comforts (real name James Mathew Davies), the singer-songwriter from Kent, who’s as polite as he is shy. It may seem strange for a man who’s been making music for over 15 years - from post-punk collective Babies Three to folk-pop outfit Elle Rayenne. Though understandable considering his current venture sees him stepping away from the drums and in front of the mic; guitar in hand.

The gig kicks off with a cover of Grizzly Bear’s ‘Deep Blue Sea’. Immediately the crowd is divided into established fans and those who are more interested in the local ales. The additional setback of playing without a PA system contributes to the initial disconnect of the audience.

After an underwhelming start, Davies nervously follows up with ‘Negative Capability’, from his 2010 debut album, Self-Titled. It’s the first time his seamless falsettos feature and are charming to the point that even the line, “like pissing dogs” sounds strangely sublime. His musicality bears a similarity to that of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. Throughout the song they build to a crescendo, which sets up a punch served by the anthemic final chorus. At this point, a few more people start to take notice. It begs the question as to why this wasn’t the obvious choice to open the set with. 

In between songs Davies is constantly self-deprecating and eager to please. In an attempt to keep the audience on his side (“I don’t want to bore you with depressing songs”), he lets them decide between two Prince covers. ‘The Most Beautiful Girl In The World’ shows off his faultless vocal range and despite being an odd choice, people respond even more.

With the set in full swing, Davies is finally hitting his stride. He continues with ‘Too Afraid To Ask’ and ‘Warmer Place’, both fresh from his recent EP release, Heavy On My Mind. The depth and brutal honesty of these songs in particular may explain for his retiring on-stage demeanour. However, he completely loses himself whilst performing. Even in his awkward moments, Davies manages to execute with brilliance.

He keeps the fans sweet by proceeding onto ‘Deliver’ - arguably the most successful song in his repertoire. In moments, the dulcet tones of Davies are made even more poignant during the melancholic breakdowns. Not unlike the wavering coos of Thom Yorke, albeit a slightly toned down version.

Despite receiving his loudest applause yet, Davies is uncertain whether to carry on, asking whether he should “do one more or just stop?” Finally, he settles for ‘Petit Mort’ where for the last time, he shows the sheer vulnerability of his songs. “Your tears and pain they know my name, place your lonely hand in mine.” As Davies plays the final few chords of his set, he looks up to find a notably larger audience, erupting in applause. It seems as though Rough Comforts may need to get used to this. 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Music Mouthpiece

After a brief hiatus by the sea, I've returned for year two at university. Here's something I wrote for my column assignment...

Have you ever heard of that band, “Bumford and Sons”?  You know, the ones that “dress like country bumpkins” with the frontman who’s “married to that boring Carey Mulligan”? No?

Nowadays, the folking 4-piece, Mumford and Sons, are getting more hate than love. Their newly released “Babel” is getting slated, despite the fact their recently announced world tour is selling out. So why is a Grammy-nominated band that is two albums into their career, still getting laughed off by people?

Lately, it’s been deemed cool to dislike certain bands. Even I have been prone to put down a group, despite the fact that I could probably sing along to their greatest hits collection. A prime example being when I was offered a ticket to one of Coldplay’s sold-out shows this past summer, in London. I politefully declined on the basis that I’m not their biggest fan and therefore my attendance may have been a waste. Though in the back of my mind I was worried at the idea of people knowing I went to a Coldplay gig. Societal stigma had me thinking that going to see a world-renowned, ridiculously successful, long-reigning band was shameful.

Similarly, now I’m being told about the bands that are really ‘cool’ to like (Alabama Shakes anyone?) Before even downloading their music, I was reading a track-by-track tweetathon of Alt-J’s debut album telling me why I should love this band. Suddenly, I felt like I had no other obligation other than to be completely infatuated with it.

Would people have been as accommodating had they entered the industry via a different route? What if they had been a by-product of the British talent show empire? And what happens if Alt-J’s hype gets so big, they demand to get carried to a venue in a glass egg? Are we supposed to drop them quicker than you can say Chris Martin?

So it seems in order to maintain our love for you emerging bands, you need to stay fairly underground, don’t wear waistcoats and refrain from falling in love with an award-winning actress. Is that alright with you?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Songs Of The Week

With the release of Spector's Enjoy It While It Lasts, not to mention a couple local gigs from Rough Comforts, I haven't been listening to much else. So have a listen to these Songs Of The Week - and by week, I mean all through the week.

Spector - Never Fade Away

Rough Comforts - Deliver (Acoustic)

Saturday, 4 August 2012


Today I found that once you've fallen in love with a garment, nobody can deter you from buying it. An example being these pansy print trousers, from Next. Although on the surface they are quite the bold print (something I'm not used to), when paired with a loose fitting shirt, they are just what I need. 

I think I've restored my love for the tailored trouser leg.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Cambridge satchel - £105

When it comes to your bag of choice, there's nothing cooler than a Cambridge satchel. The classic design means you'll never grow tired of them, plus anything that falls under the smart/schoolgirl category is fine by me.

Now, The Cambridge Satchel Company have decided to bring out a pastel range. Available in Duck-Egg Blue, Rose Pink, Lilac and Lemon, the bags are perfect for the following summer months. However, they're only around for a limited time. Maybe this means they will release another collection for Autumn/Winter. I'm hoping for burgundy and bottle green. Anyone else?

Check them out here

Friday, 27 July 2012

Miu Miu

With the weather being far too hot, it makes me wish that colder months would hurry up, so I can don a long-sleeved shirt/embellished shift dress combination like Chloe Sevigny does in this video. Or should I try a tailored suit?

Miu Miu F/W 2012 campaign - behind the scenes