Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner is aware of the passage of time, of the influence of days that drag and months that gallop can exert on what he would probably never dream of calling his body of work. After all, it has been a number of years now since the hardcore troubadour transformed himself from The Boy Who Surely Could Not, to The Man That Did; it has been years now that his name has appeared in the largest type on ticket stubs that permit entry to such venues as Wembley Arena, or the Royal Albert Hall; just as it has been years since the sound of his voice projecting itself from a digital radio was anything like a surprise, let alone a novelty.

Naturally, such upward mobility provides reasons to be cheerful, and in ways that it would be lazy to term predictable. But at the same time, the mindful songwriter will take heed: for in order to gain a foothold one can subconsciously lose an edge.

So when the time came, in the latter months of 2014, to record a new studio album, Frank took stock of his latest batch of constantly-evolving, keenly-observed vignettes and wondered, ‘What now?’

If Frank Turner & The Sleeping Soul’s fifth album, Tape Deck Heart, released in 2013, was a catharsis of licked-wounds, not to mention the sting of raw and recent personal failure, then Positive Songs For Negative People is the sound of a man putting his show back on the road. As early as the album’s second song, Get Better, Frank is fashioning a modus operandi for one whose flaws are not things of which he is necessarily ashamed.

“I’ve got no new tricks,” he sings, “and I’m up on bricks, but, me, I’m a machine and I was built to last.”

Here, the author is only partially correct – on album number six, Frank Turner <> have new tricks. Positive Songs For Negative People may resonate with the clarity and purpose of a debut album, but the songs contained within are not the sound of a man attending his first ever rodeo.

Bookended by two acoustic tracks, Positive Songs… begins with The Angel Islington, a love letter to North London that suggests that even a man with more stamps on his passport than Alan Whicker still needs a neighbourhood – in this case, the artery that runs from Archway to the southernmost tip of Upper Street - he can call his own, and friends in this neighbourhood who primarily are interested not in what he does for a living, but for who he is as a man.

Just as remarkable, and easily just as moving, is the album’s final track. A eulogy for a friend who took the awful decision to end his own life, Song For Josh takes as its subject a man who headed the security team at Washington DC’s famous 9:30 Club. A perfectly judged, and expertly delivered, treatise in loss, love and regret, this moving composition is rendered yet more poignant for the fact that it was recorded live at the club at which Josh once worked, and with not just friends but also members of his family on hand to bear witness. As a testament to both the power of song, and the power of friendship, it is a thing of beauty to behold.

“We were passing through DC on tour not long after Josh had passed,” recalls Frank on the decision to record the album’s closing track in such a poignant setting. “I’d written the song and played it out a few times, but by now the idea of recording the song in Washington DC had began to germinate – so we made technical preparations. I only had one shot at it – I wouldn’t have played the song twice at the show. I had slightly screwed up the trial version that we recorded at that night’s soundcheck, so when it came time to perform it in front of an audience I was somewhat nervous. But in the end the Gods – or perhaps it was Josh – were smiling, and I played it the best that I ever have.”

Elsewhere, the Sleeping Souls are on hand to buck and weave, to glide and soar, and sometimes just to smash it all to pieces. From songs that are by turns playful (Love Forty Down), wise in their contentment (Mittens), or else nothing less than matters of life and death (Demons, Out Of Breath), this is a collection that faces life’s minor key moments with major key fortitude. As if this weren’t quite enough, Frank Turner’s sixth album also features a duet with Denver’s Esmé Patterson, on the song Silent Key, with the singer from the Mile High City taking the part of Christa MacAuliffe, the primary school teacher turned astronaut who died in the Challenger space shuttle calamity of 1986.

The title Positive Songs For Negative People arrived as Frank Turner’s answer to a friend’s enquiry as to how he would best explain his music, and throughout this 12 song set the sense that he, and we, can overcome is overwhelming. In spite of – perhaps, even, <> of - the many pitfalls and travails that litter this sparkling collection, the listener’s day and mood is improved by the existence of this album.

“In some ways I feel like this record is my definitive statement, a summation of the first five records,” says its creator.

Frank Turner is the author of five previous albums; they are Sleep Is For The Week, Love, Ire and Song, Poetry Of The Deed, England Keep My Bones and Tape Deck Heart. A Wessex Boy by inclination, these days his post is delivered to Holloway, North London. He intends to spend the next 18 months, and probably the rest of his life, on tour.

Upon returning to Toronto from a final European tour with his band, Peter Dreimanis sat in a candlelit bar paying little attention to the beat-up acoustic guitar being passed from patron to patron around him; that was until it found its home in the hands of Leah Fay. He sat listening, dumfounded, realizing heʼd met his match. Clearheaded the next day, he started his search for the stranger from the bar with whom he seemingly shared a soul. He found her; they founded July Talk.
After linking up with Ian Docherty, Josh Warburton and Danny Miles, the band created a signature sound that is not easy to pigeonhole. Imagine Tom Waits and Amy Millan shouting whiskey-soaked lullabies while backed by the members of Crazy Horse and youʼd have a good start. Striking a frenzied balance between Americana and dance-floor-filling indie-rock, July Talkʻs Beauty and the Beast aesthetic burns a little going down, but is sure to warm your belly and have you coming back for more.
After a year of relentless touring with the likes of Billy Talent, Matt Mays, Arkells, Sam Roberts and Besnard Lakes to name a few, their live show has gained a reputation as one of the most high energy, magnetic shows in the country. After a national American tour in the summer of 2013, they went into the studio to polish off a release slated for October 15th. Not only will they continue their ruthless touring schedule in North America around this release, they plan to head across to Europe & Australia in the new year.

Billy The Kid

Billy the Kid is a songwriter from Vancouver, Canada. New album "Stars, Exploding" produced by Jamie Candiloro (Ryan Adams/R.E.M./Willie Nelson).

“I have a feeling this kid doesn’t know what “impossible” means.”- Alan Cross, Corus Entertainment Group

“Billy the Kid is an amazing talent.”- Patrick Zulinov, Shore FM

“Her music is the perfect combination of edgy sweetness that ventures into the grittiness of the life in the city.”- Tamara Stanners, The Peak FM

“Precociously gifted.” The Georgia Straight

“One of Canada’s rising stars.” – See Magazine

“Prolific and incredibly talented.” – The Leader-Post

“Billy is a DIY poster girl.” – Vue Weekly

‘Lost – a phenomenon, not a trend.” – The Cambridge Voice

“It’s not enough to say that Billy The Kid is a talented artist. It isn’t enough to say she’s successful. It isn’t even enough to say that Billy and her band of Lost Boys have a stage–presence worth seeing over and over again. Billy the Kid exemplifies the essence of the independent spirit, charisma and inspiration for artists on the rise or for those hoping for the chance to make it that far. ” – Echo Weekly

“Always stood apart from the pack with true street-level integrity, an almost Mennonitish indie-rock work ethic and outstanding musicianship.” – Nerve Magazine

“With her popularity spreading and in no sign of waning, her many musical endeavours are beginning to pay off and no one deserves it more. After a chat with this winsome pixie, it would be difficult to dislike her.” – The Gauntlet Magazine

“I bought her independently produced CD on the spot and have been trying to find out as much as I can about her because I know she is going to be huge one day soon.” Canoe Live

“One of the best female guitarists I’ve ever met.” – The Daily Nar

“(Billy)’s the kind of thorough, do-it-yourself poster girl that will go to hell and back in order to put out a good record.” – Beatroute Magazine

“If you need any inspiration to keep your New Year’s Resolution “I shall cast off the shackles of procrastination and actually do something with myself…” look no further than a young lady who goes by the name of Billy the Kid.” – Chartattack


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