Sam Isaac
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Sam Isaac

Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Noize Makes Enemies Live Review"

As far as single release shows go, it could hardly be any worse: There’s a packed venue, a full-strength supporting line-up and a band pumped up and ready to go, but the most important bit is missing: ‘Fire, fire’, Sam Isaac’s new single and, officially, the reason why everyone is here tonight, has not arrived yet.

However, Sam’s frustration becomes evident only in a short rant after the first song, in which he mentions all the effort that has gone into this release but urges everyone to “have a party” despite the label “fucking up”.

A few seconds into opener ‘I traded my friends for you’, it becomes clear that tonight, Sam and his band are going for the jugular. It almost seems as if they were set on venting their disappointment by putting on a near-perfect show, because that’s pretty much what they are doing. Now, with Sam’s music there isn’t a whole lot of leeway for screeching guitar solos or beat-downs, but the determination is there in every shouted backing vocal and every pounding bassline of that opening song, and this vibe will continue throughout the set, which focuses more on the upbeat material than his slower, more fragile songs.

Early in the set, Sam ditches his acoustic guitar in favour of a Fender Telecaster, prompting humorous shouts of “Judas!” “You love that shit”, he replies.

‘Annie, why are you so angry’, one of two new songs presented, is slightly more reminiscent of latter-day Brand New than Bright Eyes, while ‘Sideways’, a favourite off his “Sticker, Star & Tape”-EP, shines in all its poppy, nostalgic glory, with the audience singing along gleefully. Sam picks up on this, prompting a little sing-song to ‘Bears’, another musical hug in a mug, interlaced with glockenspiel and possibly the closest he will ever come to gang vocals.

One factor that makes Sam Isaac’s music so appealing is the way the different instruments compliment each other and, to maybe an even bigger extent, Sam’s unique vocals. A backing band including a cello, bass, electric guitar, keyboards, drums and, occasionally, glockenspiel and synths could easily have created an unpermeable mess, but in Si Bray (drums), Hywel Pothecray (bass), Ian Nimmo-Smith (lead guitar), Burt Hill (cello) and Matt Randall (keyboards and roadie duties), Sam has at his disposal the trustiest of foot soldiers, never mind some extremely talented musicians in their own right. This comes to the fore perfectly in songs like ‘Fire, fire’, a wondrous explosion of emotive vocals and a driving rhythm, and ‘Carbon dating’, the closing song.

While seeing Sam Isaac playing live on his own is an uplifting experience, tonight’s show will raise the bar for his upcoming shows in terms of tightness and teamwork. Who needs a single with this sort of performance?

By Matthias Scherer
- Noize Makes Enemies

"The Strand (Toronto) Live Review/Feature"

New sounds from across the pond

The Strand's correspondent in the U.K. sends us more talent to look out for in the not-so-distant future.

By Hilary Lynd, Staff Writer

Being quite familiar with the Clash's "Guns of Brixton", I probably should have expected that this southern London borough would be a bit of a scary place. It's in this neighbourhood, at a small venue called the Brixton Windmill, that London indie-pop artist Sam Isaac is hosting his Christmas party. The gig is a benefit to help raise funds for his forthcoming album, entitled Bears.

Inside the warmly lit Windmill, tinsel hangs in abundance from the ceiling and in one corner there is a Christmas tree. Sam stands at the microphone, backed by the rest of his band, smiling sheepishly. "Earlier this year," he tells his audience, "I went fishing, and caught some mackerel…" Someone calls something out from the crowd, but I miss it. "Well, no, I gutted it myself," he replies. "But it turned out to be a very bad fish, and I got very sick. Essentially, I couldn't sing, so we had to put off the album. And now I owe lots of people money." Hence the album benefit concert.

Since 2007, Sam and his band have evolved into the up-and-coming sweethearts of the BBC. To everyone at the Windmill, it's easy to see why. The band launches enthusiastically into "Sideways", a bitingly tragic song relaying the tale of moments lost in time. This is the kind of music you feel in your gut.

In a time when many pop bands' singers seek to reinvent Tom DeLonge's characteristic whine, Sam's warm tenor is refreshing. He sings anthemic love songs, like "Apple Tree", with more sincerity than counterpart emo whimpering could ever achieve. The band's live stage presence is less awkward than some of the videos on the Sam Isaac myspace.

Toes tap and heads bob compulsively to the roots rock sound of "Carbon Dating". The drumbeat is reminiscent of old Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes, and there are moments where the guitar harks of Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing". A catchy sing along chorus complete with handclaps makes this song just plain fun. As a couple of people at the front of the audience dance enthusiastically, I think to myself that people who like upbeat folk bands, like Great Big Sea, would really enjoy this.

The band takes a break from playing to raffle off some rare Sam Isaac merch, like the last copies of now sold-out singles and EPs. I don't win anything. It's okay, I have bad luck.

Sam thanks the audience for coming and helping him raise some money. "This is our last song," he says. "It's called, Carousel for Three." It's a quiet tune with a strong acoustic sound, an underlying characteristic uniform with all Sam's music.

"So why 'Bears'?" I ask Sam after the show, referring to the title of the album. "It sounds cool," he responds. A candid answer. "Have you heard of Stephen Colbert?" He thinks for a moment. "Is he that political funny man?" "Yeah." I reply, "He has a thing about bears. You should send him your album!" Sam smiles politely at me. I guess he didn't like the idea.

Sam and his band have toured extensively around the UK with the likes of KT Tunstall, the Fratellis and even as support for a theatre tour starring Kate Walsh. "We did a living room tour," says band member Matt Randall. Matt is tall, lanky, and bespectacled. He has a beard and wears silver shoes. I hear he is the mastermind behind the Sam Isaac band. He plays various roles for the band, including tour manager, but you will generally find him onstage playing electric guitar. "Essentially there was a house party every night and we were the entertainment," he explains. "It was lots of fun. We'd like to do it again."

The Sam Isaac band have recently started to branch out onto international stages; they are scheduled to play South By South West in Austin, Texas this March and recently made an appearance in Sweden. Perhaps they'll get to Toronto soon, as Sam loves Canada. "I spent a term at Carleton," he says. "I was supposed to be studying."

Bears is due for release in April, but in the meantime you can check out - The Strand

"Kruger Magazine Feature"

Kruger Magazine

Sam Isaac is on tour. He's been on tour for about four months, constantly. He will be on tour well into August, if not longer. Just check his myspace for proof.

Sometimes he plays by himself, sometimes he plays with a band, and quite often, he tours with Luke Leighfield. Now look a little closer at that myspace page, at that list of dates. There's something... unusual there, right? Gone are the Barflys, the Carling Academys and other names we're used to seeing on the back pages of the NME. Instead, there are living rooms and BBQs. Yes, Sam Isaac is on tour and he could be playing your house soon.

"I don't believe in adding people on myspace." he states abruptly, "The only way people are going to like you is by playing live for them." Sam is on his way to another gig at the moment, in the middle of another tour with Luke. Sam and Luke knew each other while they were at school, playing in different local bands around Worcester. Then, when they got to University, realised they'd both started working on solo stuff and a brief tour of living rooms followed. "We thought we'd do 1 week," explains Sam, "That turned into 6 weeks. It's a good way to spend my time."

This is DIY at its grassroots. But why not look for support slots, or even support on a small tour to start off? "Venues always fuck you over" asserts Sam in a matter-of-fact manner, "People forget you're turning up, forgetting to pay you; I haven't got any bad living room stories." Sam and Luke travel in one car, with little money. They turn up, they play, they sleep, and then they leave. Surely there must be downsides to this way of touring? Sam offers only one problem by means of reply; "You get somewhere and find the people have planned a huge night for you, but you're so tired."

Although it sounds too romantic to be true, I want to believe Sam. I want to believe that intimate gigs, word of mouth and an endless tour schedule will triumph over back-handed management deals and paid support slots. And then Sam, with the strongest conviction, convinces me; "Look, you can play in a big venue to 40 or 50 people, but only a few can really be listening so it makes little difference." Then, thoughtfully adding, "I played in a house of train carriages, all lined up side by side." and I would bet every person at that gig will remember Sam's name.

Sam Isaac is on tour a lot, taking his show to Brighton's Great Escape Festival this month. I ask if it's a bit of a disappointment to play a venue; "I'm not anti-venue!" he fires back with a giggle, "I'm looking forward to it; I'm just hoping it won't be empty or full of industry." Since The Great Escape is said to be Britain's answer to South by Southwest, you'd expect an unsigned artist to be hoping the opposite. However, things don't seem to be so industry reliant in Sam's world. His debut single, Sticker, Star and Tape, is out at the moment, a split release 10" with Luke Leighfield on Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly's new label, Mannequin Republic. Originally, the release was planned as a self-funded venture between Sam and Luke, before Mr. Duckworth offered the backing. According to Sam, "It's more of a collector's thing."

And, in turn, it seems to have hit the radar of a number of DJs, from Huw Stephens to Janice Long who Sam will play a session for next week. I ask if he minds doing a session for Radio 2? "I don't think she gives these things out willy nilly." he answers, causing me to choke slightly on my tea, "I'd have to be pretty 'scene' to turn that down." he adds laughing. "I found out that she's Keith Chegwin's sister which is probably the most exciting thing about it. I don't know if she wants people knowing that but I read it on Wikipedia so it's already out there."

If you type Sam Isaac into Wikipedia, you get nothing. It surprises me that while Sam can sort his own press, tour schedule and even generate a fair bit of hype for himself, he still hasn't created a page in this online book of everything. It proves that even with DIY, there's some things you need to wait for others to do. Offers for shows it seems, again surprisingly, also demand motivation; "People only ask when you send out bulletins, but we'll pretty much play for anyone." So there you have it, to help keep Sam Isaac on tour... you just have to ask.

On June 20th Sam Isaac, Luke Leighfield and some very special guests play a summer barbeque exclusively for Kruger subscribers at a secret location in Cardiff. It'll be super dope! Oh yes!
- Kruger Magazine



5-track EP released Sep 22nd 2008 on Alcopop! Records.

"Sticker, Star and Tape" airplay on BBC Radio 1, XFM and BBC 6 Music. Zane Lowe's "hottest record in the world" on BBC Radio 1.


Single released Mar 24th 2008 on Another Music = Another Kitchen.

"Fire Fire" airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, XFM and BBC 6 Music. Sessions recorded for Zane Lowe and Colin Murray on BBC Radio 1, Steve Harris on XFM.


Single released Dec 10th 2007 on Big Scary Monsters/Alcopop!.

"Sideways" airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, XFM and BBC 6 Music. Sessions recorded for Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, John Kennedy on XFM.


Released Aug 2007 on Got Got Need. 20 songs. Early recordings and demos prior to Sticker.


Split single with Luke Leighfield released April 2007 on Mannequin Republic.


Limited edition, hand-numbered, 3” CD single.


Mini-album. Released Jan 2007.

Airplay of mini-album tracks on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, XFM and BBC 6 Music. Session recorded for Janice Long on BBC Radio 2.


EP independently released June 2006.

"Compass Scattered Love" radio play on XFM.



The Sam Isaac world is a warm and inviting one. A place where friends make artwork, do recording, direct music videos and carry clipboards. Perfect strangers sell his CDs, promote shows and join the ranks. Sam's part of the bargain is donning an acoustic guitar and making the music to lead the troops.

It's not just been bedroom DIY which has fuelled the Sam Isaac flames: in 2007 he was chosen as one of four unsigned acts to play BBC Electric Proms. He played - with a string quartet - as support for Edwyn Collins' comeback gig. He has also been hand picked as support for Scouting For Girls, King Creosote, Ben's Brother and Kate Walsh. In March of last year, Radio 1 asked him to play their Introducing... night showcasing the best new talent for 2008, alongside bands like The Ting Tings and Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. During the same month, he released his second single "Fire Fire" on singles label Another Music = Another Kitchen, which garnered him daytime playlist positions on both Xfm and 6Music, further plays from Jo Whiley, Zane Lowe, and Huw Stephens, an "In The Company Of" half hour interview on Colin Murray's show and an Xfm Music:Response session.

Last summer once again saw Sam a fixture at almost every festival from V to Big Chill via Boring By The Sea and Latitude alongside acts such as KT Tunstall, Athlete, the Pigeon Detectives and the Futureheads. He wrapped 2008 up by releasing a 5-track EP combined with a headline performance for the Channel 4/NME JD Set, a handful of shows in Sweden and a tour of Club NME dates.

Having finished his debut album, Bears, at the end of last year and releasing the first single, 'Come Back Home Tonight', from it independently at the start of March '09, Sam Isaac is looking forward to another run of prestigious festival slots and a substantial UK tour to promote the album.


Jo Whiley (Radio 1): "esoteric, tuneful soothing stuff...LOVE that record. A great record" (on "Sideways")

Zane Lowe (Radio 1): "Absolutely fantastic...brilliant"

Colin Murray (Radio 1): "Very special...beautiful"

NME: "Beautiful, pounding love pop. Writing anthems that sound a little like Oasis if they'd listened to Vashti Bunyan rather than Slade"

Music Week (Mike Walsh, Xfm Head of Music): "Sam Isaac is one of the most original and engaging voices in the land of new British singer songwriters. Feels like the beginning of a very interesting story"

Time Out: "Fills up the room with a sweet, melancholy haze"

Record Of The Day: "Warm, gentle vocal with wonderfully crafted arrangement"