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New music review with Wolfgang Valbrun and BIG SPECIAL

Our weekly fix of the best new music as Julia Mason brings us her review of new singles from BIG SPECIAL and Wolfgang Valbrun

 
Logo for Blowtorch Records blog series Cool Sounds From The Underground

Artist: Wolfgang Valbrun

Track: Keep Your Head Up


Cover for Keep Your Head Up by Wolfgang Valbrun
Credit Wolfgang Valbrun

Wolfgang Valbrun is a singer-songwriter born and raised in New York. However it was in Europe where his musical career took off. He moved to Paris when he was a teenager and hasn’t looked back. Wolfgang is the lead singer of avant-garde UK soul and jazz band Ephemerals, however in 2020 he decided to write and record under his own name. Keep Your Head Up is the second part of a three track EP to be released on Jalapeno Records, following the BBC 6 Music supported Cyclone.


Valbrun is not afraid to address the lived experience of minorities in France. He has a strong love for his adopted homeland but also a strong distrust in how it is governed, with social unrest and protest engulfing the country. Keep Your Head Up is a powerful track with its passionately expressive vocal which obviously comes from the heart. However the instrumentation is simply soaring and anthemic, heavy on the horns and with swanky keys. The theme here is one of hope. Remember to keep going, be strong and hold your loved ones close. It is an empowering track deliciously wrapped in funk and soul. What a talent Valbrun is. Paris is lucky to have him.




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Artist: BIG SPECIAL

Track: DESPERATE BREAKFAST

Big Special release new single Desperate Breakfast
Photo Richard Mukuze

BIG SPECIAL have released new single DESPERATE BREAKFAST which follows their BBC 6 Music A-listed This Here Ain’t Water. Starting calmly enough it soon heads into thumping percussion and buzzsaw synths. Singer Joe Hicklin has an extraordinary vocal range. Calm and soulful one minute, spitting out lyrics with disdain the next. Not afraid to mix it up within one track.


BIG SPECIAL are already gathering fans up and down the country and this is only their third single. DESPERATE BREAKFAST rails against the “put up and shut up” attitude which is hidden underneath the guise of being “character building”. They are creating quite a noise around them and three singles in, it's perfectly justified.


Hicklin expands on the song: “DESPERATE BREAKFAST is about that first meal of the day you have to force down before you drag yourself to the job you don’t want in the place you don’t want to be, and the normality of having no choice but to take part In that seemingly infinite routine. It is also in part about the similar cycle that occurs in unemployment. Either way, the morning brings desperation.”

BIG SPECIAL continue touring through October before embarking on a headline tour of the UK in December. Please note the London and Birmingham dates are already sold out. 14 Oct - Live At Leeds Festival, Leeds, UK 19 Oct - Oslo, London, UK (supporting Benefits) 20 Oct - Altstadt (Hit The City), Eindhoven, NL 21 Oct - Left Of The Dial Festival, Rotterdam, NL 28 Oct - London Calling Festival, Rotterdam, NL Nov 15 - The Great Escape First Fifty (Headline), Moth Club, London, UK Nov 24 - The Granary Arts Cafe, Nantwich, UK (in support of Mind Charity) 11 Dec - The Louisiana, Bristol, UK 12 Dec - The Bodega, Nottingham, UK 13 Dec - Oporto, Leeds, UK 14 Dec - The Lexington, London, UK - SOLD OUT 15 Dec - Hare & Hounds 2, Birmingham, UK - SOLD OUT 16 Dec - Yes (The Basement), Manchester, UK 05 Jan - Rockaway Beach Festival, Bognor Regis, UK

 

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