Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Quality Not Quantity: The Swagger - Digging Roots

The Swagger - EP.

Background promo - The Swagger, an original London grit-rock band, has announced their forthcoming debut EP, which was produced by Graham Bonnar (Swervedriver / The Brian Jonestown Massacre) and recorded at the renowned Konk Studios (founded by Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks) in North London. Slated for release digitally and on CD on July 22, this EP features four tracks from the arsenal of songs they've been performing around the UK. They've picked these particular tracks from an archive of about 100 they've written to date.

Hailing from Hornsey, North London, The Swagger originally formed in March 2012. The band is now made up of two brothers - Lee Stevens (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Paul Stevens (lead guitar, back vocals), along with mates Will O’Connell (bass guitar) and Roger Malaquias (drums). The band originally recorded the demos at Tigersonic Studios (Holloway, North London) in late 2015 with co-producer Felix Macintosh, and pretty soon found their way to Konk Studios in Hornsey, North London to record with engineer Josh Green and guitar tech Brendan Quinn. Both The Swagger and The Kinks are local to this area.

The Swagger are among the few bands privileged enough to record at Konk Studios with bands like The Stone Roses, The Kooks, Blur, Franz Ferdinand, Bombay Bicycle Club, Elvis Costello, Steve Winwood, and the Bee Gees having recorded here over the years. The Swagger's debut EP was mixed and mastered by Pat Collier (Vibrators) at Perry Vale Studios in South London. Neil Barrie designed the EP artwork, website and logo. The Swagger will be heading back into the studio at the end of 2016 to start work on their debut album, which is planned for release in 2017. In the meantime, they will be playing various gigs, including the Musicians Against Homelessness concert being organized by legendary Creation Records’ boss Alan Mcgee.

July 23 - The Cavendish Arms, 128 Hartington Road, Stockwell, London
August 27 - The Islington, 1 Tolpuddle Street, Angel, London
October 1 - Musicians Against Homelessness, organized by Alan Mcgee @ T.Chances, Tottenham High Road, London.

Four really good songs on the debut EP suggests The Swagger have a considerable amount of talent, ideas and an already well developed grit rock sound. The band are upfront about their influences which range from The Kinks to The Who via plenty of other bands, however I keep the references short, so as not to diminish the bands superb debut, featured in full below.


Digging Roots - For the Light.

Background promo - Digging Roots has an answer to the gun violence plaguing the world today: more love, more truth, more music. “I think we can use the word ‘epidemic’ when it comes to gun violence in society today,” says Singer ShoShona Kish of Digging Roots whose powerful and inspirational new video AK-47 calls for an end to violence and oppression through love and understanding.

Digging Roots is a post-psychedelic-blues group, consisting of husband and wife duo Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish, whose music is a love making blend of roots-rock-reggae & hip-hop-blues. Formed in 2004, the duo released their first album Seeds in 2006. The album was a nominee for the Aboriginal Album of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2007. They followed with We Are in 2009, which featured collaborations with Tanya Tagaq, DJ Bear Witness of A Tribe Called Red and Kinnie Starr, who also co-produced the album. We Are won the Juno Award for Aboriginal Album of the Year in 2010. Their most recent third album, For The Light was also was nominated for a Juno Award and the single 'Hwy 17' was awarded the Cobalt Prize for original blues composition at the Maple Blues Awards in Canada. Digging Roots has toured across Canada, the US, Mexico, Europe and recently performed in Australia with highlight performances at the Sydney Opera House and the famous Bryon Bay Bluesfest.

“There’s an Anishinabek word in the chant at the end of the song that distills it all for me,” says ShoShona, “Nizoogide’e”, it means “My heart is a stronghold.” AK-47 is about opening fire on hate, oppression and violence, both lateral and physical. Not with bullets and guns but with the full force of love. Cynics might say that we’re naive but to me it’s the only rational way forward. This song is a proposition that its time to stop oppression and the violence against one another, against ourselves and against the land.” The song AK-47 is available for public download on iTunes. 

2016 Canadian Summer tour dates include:
July 8, Cultura Festival, Toronto, ON
July 9-10 2016, Northern Lights Festival Boréal, Sudbury, ON
July 16, 2016, Wild Mountain Music Festival, Hinton, AB
July 23, 2016, Great Northern Arts Festival, Inuvik, NT
August 4, 2016, Montreal First Peoples Festival, Montréal, QC
August 5-7, 2016, Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton, AB
August 10, 2016, TBA, Winnipeg, MB
August 19-21, 2016, Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, Salmon Arm, BC

The video for AK-47 is featured on our BeeVids page and is really worth a look and listen. Also however, I was struck by how good their current album is, and wanted to feature a track from that as well. The band adopt differing styles and genres with ease, keeping the listener in expectation of whats next. Rootsy acoustic blues competes with anything from psychedelic to reggae influences. All in all it's a great listen, and albeit a late discovery for me, but nonetheless a good one.


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