April 2013 issue of MRU we have exclusive interviews with Jon Gomm, Ruby Music, CYOF Records, plus music industry news, fashion news and all the latest unsigned music reviews.
Inside The Industry This month we have a chat with Ruby Music & CYOF Records Pro-Piracy? ::: US Band ‘Ghost Beach’ Make Bold Statements About Music Piracy Page 3 MRU Magazine APRIL 2013 Artist of the month Walking On Cars Exclusive: JON GOMM “Independence in the music industry is mostly about maintaining ultimate control, the ultimate power to say Yes or No” UIF!GBTIJPO!PG HMBN!SPDL Page 20 Front Cover by: Brian Burke (Burky) is an illustrator based in Dublin, Ireland. He attended both BCFE and the North Wales School of Art and Design gaining his Diploma and B.A., while focusing his work on illustration and comics. Contact: email@example.com Shop: www.redbubble.com/people/burkyshtuff www.shtuffienhiemer.blogspot.ie Staff Editor -in- Chief Trevor Halpin firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Meghan Oâ€™Dowd email@example.com News Feargal Daly/Editor firstname.lastname@example.org MOD-Fashion Darragh Mullooly/Editor Darragh@musicreviewunsigned.com Melisa Amour/Dep-Editor Elenalevd Nirina Plunkett 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com Writers - APRIL 13#Issue Cian Murray Catherine Sherlock Shane Buckley Ciara Mooney Sam Geaney Kevin Carney Karin Carthy Liam Thorp David Jordan Ryan Platts James Glynn Louise Wood Cian Walsh Robert Morrissey Neil Cathcart Will Jonhstone Ian Stenlund Leon Byrne Dom Beale David Beech Siobhan Mason Jenny Ormsby www.twitter.com/musicreviewu www.facebook.com/MusicReviewUnsignedofficial Pro-Piracy? ::: US Band ‘Ghost Beach’ Make Bold Statements About Music Piracy News Editor - Feargal Daly development rather then seeing it as the enemy. We subscribe to media futurist Gerd Leonhards ‘music like water’ philosophy that, one day, individuals will just pay a music bill – similar to their water bill, cable bill, electric bill – for unabated access. In this (hopefully attainable) Utopian music society, music will be available to consumers at a fare rate and artists/labels will be compensated with a fair royalty rate. In no way do we want to encourage theft of intellectual property. However we definitely support the idea of music distribution adapting to new technologies rather then fight against them. Sincerely, Ghost Beach” Brooklyn band, Ghost Beach, added their two cents to the ongoing music piracy debate odyssey. The band made an unexpectedly large statement to show what appears to be support for music piracy in the famous Times Square, New York. After winning a promo deal with American Eagle, Ghost Beach decided to invest that money in a large revolving with distinct messages stating – ‘Piracy is Progress’, ‘Piracy is Robbery’ & ‘Piracy is Freedom’ amongst many more. Initially it seemed the band were pro-piracy but as events unfolded it seems they simply want to open up the question about how to evolve the distribution models of music to consumers at affordable prices and through new platforms, namely mobile and streaming strategies. In fact, the billboard redirects to an “Artists vs Artists” site giving music consumers the option to download the new album from Ghost Beach for free or pay for it through iTunes under the hashtags – #ArtistsForPiracy & #ArtistsAgainstPiracy. At the time of this articles publication (and unsurprisingly perhaps) there has being a huge majority in support of piracy with these results below (note: expected to increase in volume yet retain the same result postpublication). the discussion on exactly what ‘piracy’ means to different people. To an older industry sector, it’s a dirty word that implies theft. From a younger, purely consumer standpoint it’s another term for distribution. As it stands now, we’re more closely aligned with the music consumer – in the sense that we are for this new distribution model, as evident by our efforts thus far to make Ghost Beach original music available for free to fans. We think that working towards a digital retail/stream model, something similar to Spotify or Rdio, is the future of music – using the Internet as a force for connectivity and This marks another large statement from musicians speaking out against traditional mainstream labels and their refusal to adapt to “freemium” services. “Freemium” here being a contemporary term to describe flatrate music subscription services which offer unlimited streaming/download access to vast libraries of music. With many music labels losing their oligopoly-like status and struggling to retain the majority share of the global music markets against a growing independent label trend, the question now turns to, not if, but when, will major labels wake up and adjust to increasingly popular “freemium” strategies of music distribution in order to maintain relevance. Echoing Ghost Beach’s statement we here at MRU want to know – are you for piracy, or are you against it? #Tweet MRU @Musicreviewu #ArtistsForPiracy – 3,053 #ArtistsAgainstPiracy – 271 In the wake of this unexpected event a statement from the band was released – “Our hope with this campaign is to stimulate www.musicreviewunsigned.com 3 You Are What You Grow Into An interview with Jon Gomm I Deputy Editor Meghan O’Dowd t is no secret that MRU is deeply rooted in independent music. While many a success story has been heard over the years, there is something to be said for those who find their fame by entirely independent means. Jon Gomm is one person who has done this with great success. The Leeds-based singer/songwriter and talented guitarist has spent the best part of a decade working, playing, and writing independently. In recent years he has come to the world’s attention through viral YouTube videos of his soloperformed music, boasting a stunning repertoire of techniques and virtuoso style playing. This self-made artist is a true expert on independent music, and how musicians can stay independent yet also be successful. MRU spoke to Jon to find out his perspectives on music, the industry – and most importantly – how that has shaped his own career to date. In some ways Jon is what you would expect as a musician. At the same time his extensive underground career, cynical views on the music industry and rise to fame seem to form undeniable pillars of conflict. At the back of it all however, Jon Gomm is just an ordinary down-to-earth guy, doing a very extraordinary thing. When the video for his song ‘Passionflower’ became a viral YouTube hit worldwide, Jon stunned the masses with his eclectic yet beautiful mix of technique and style. From Flamenco to Metal, his music incorporates such a broad spectrum of guitarplaying. But for Jon, he feels that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unique sound he creates. “I started out very very young; I got my first instrument at two years old. I went to Guitar School, Jazz College… I’m a super-educated musician! As much of my music involves trying to ignore all the stuff I’ve learned as trying to use it, but it’s always there, like knowing a language.” Jon’s style of playing has become renowned for his unique blend of techniques which come from a wide range of influences. There’s no accounting for his openness in his music, which is something we can appreciate at MRU. “I am a musical magpie, especially in terms of guitar playing. I’ve stolen techniques from everything from flamenco and delta blues 42 www.musicreviewunsigned.com through to heavy metal and contemporary acoustic guitar. If there is one single most important influence, it’s Michael Hedges, whose playing sounded like a cross between Joni Mitchell and an omniscient alien being.” When you talk to Jon, it’s hard to believe that he is still so humble after so much time in the spotlight in recent years. But he will readily admit that this fame did not come easy, and that it is also a struggle to deal with on a daily basis. “It’s surreal; it’s really hard to cope with. I’ve spent my life gigging, and the last 10 years doing my take on the solo singersongwriter acoustic thing. I never cared about being in the shadows, and I fully expect to return to them one day.” While the benefits of retiring to your own personal bat-cave seem somewhat enticing, we certainly believe that there is much more to come from Jon on the worldwide stage. He feels the chance to do this is a little bit of a dichotomy, but cannot deny that fame doesn’t always come easy. “I feel very lucky - it’s a lot about butterflies and hurricanes - but I like to think a lot of hard work has gone into it too.” Hard work is right, as there is no doubt that Jon has been doing just that for many years, and will do so for many more. “I am a 10-year overnight success. I don’t feel famous by the way, I don’t think I am, it does scare me.” It’s hard to understand how it has taken a decade for his talent to be recognized at an international level. But the way in which he chooses to present himself to the world says a lot about the kind of person we’re dealing with here. As humble as ever, he seems to think that in five years time he will simply be “playing little pub gigs in sleepy Yorkshire towns.” For many, fame comes to be an intrusion in one’s life as it dominates above the music they try to create. Fame becomes the focal point of their success and as a result, the music suffers. Jon however, has a very clear mindset on what he wants to achieve as a recognized musician. “I never looked for [fame]. In the past, you always had to strive for it, and to some extent you still do. All the bands and artists you see on TV either are very ambitious, or had someone very ambitious behind them. I never had that, my ambition was to make my own music, express myself in a pure way, and to make a living as a musician. But fate, or rather people, decided otherwise.” Fate, or chance, is really what a lot of success stories boil down to. While talent and musicianship are always important, it is reliance on fans and making your own luck that truly produces results. Jon has done this without hesitation. We can be sure of that. Unsigned artists could learn a lot from this musician. When he speaks, it’s clear he is finely in tune with the turning cogs of the music industry. We all learn from our mistakes and wish that we could do things differently from time to time. If everyone had the awareness that Jon seems to have, the music industry would be a far more competent and interesting place. “Independence in the music industry is mostly about maintaining ultimate control, the ultimate power to say Yes or No” “Independence in the music industry is mostly about maintaining ultimate control, the ultimate power to say Yes or No, whether it be to a lyric in a song, or a gig, It’s not about doing everything yourself! I have people I work with now, and it’s more rewarding and more fun, but I retain 100% independence too.” Certainly, no musician can deny the value of one’s independence in music. However usually, at some point, this is another thing that slips away as they take a step toward fame. Despite Jon’s recent success his attitude doesn’t seem to have changed. What he seems to make clear is that regardless of his triumphs, he will always retain the individuality and self-reliance that has brought him here in the first place. He does not put his faith in major labels. “I am glad I am still not commercially viable for them, I’m glad they perceive my independence as awkward and difficult, because for them, it would be.” After hearing so many wise opinions from Jon I had to ask what he felt were the most important thing, especially for our readers and all of the unsigned acts and fresh new artists, about trying to get your music heard. “Start your own gig, simple as that. In your town, find a venue, or a space you can use. Set up a regular time - every week or every month or whatever. Book bands, promote the hell out of the gigs and organize them well. Book bands from out of town, maybe. Play the gig yourself occasionally too.” The moral of the story is work hard, play hard. Jon’s time and commitment to his music have brought him to a remarkable place, one in which a sense of community is of paramount importance. “Eventually, you will have a network of friends and fellow musicians around the country that are really keen to help you out. This is what I did” Social media also played a significant role in developing his reputation. With a constant overdrive of information at our fingertips it can be overwhelming to some. But with that comes the human element of interaction and comment. He sees it as a positive force in the development of his success; “…it’s positive to me, because it’s about people.” What you begin to notice about Jon Gomm is that above all, he is a people-driven character. He seems to embody the type of harmonious social ideals of community that are somewhat forgotten in the music industry. This perspective is something he offers willingly to others as a way to develop themselves as musicians. “You can make your own industry around www.musicreviewunsigned.com 53 you…That’s what I’ve done” You could find worse advice. We’re a little impressed at what we are hearing here, as this is a point of view that often seems counterproductive to performing artists. Yet it has clearly worked for him. The road less travelled for most is the road Jon has chosen. And from what we can see that it’s for all the right reasons too. We asked Jon if he could say just one thing to growing musicians, what it would be. The answer, we found, was a profound and worthy statement. “Listen to music without restriction. Don’t have a sound in your head and try to find that sound. Listen, listen closely and repeatedly to things you find which you love, whether it’s Chinese pop music or 19th century French classical music, like me at the moment. Don’t try to fit them into you, like square pegs in round holes, just let your hole gradually change shape. But with a less disgusting sounding metaphor!” A horrific yet humorous metaphor aside, there’s no denying the truth in his comments. We’re a little in awe at the raw truth of it. Restriction is a constant battle in the music industry, limitations and conflict battle musicianship for priority. The question of what will come to the fore is entirely down to you. We can see this humble Leeds chap as a contender for the Dalai Lama as well as a successful musician considering the advice he churns out. And with so much confidence as well. With a new album written and recording due to start in the coming months, Jon Gomm is at the top of the pecking order of unsigned musicians. But getting to know him it is obvious that it is time and commitment that has brought him here. Any last words to the MRU readers? “Don’t read this backwards, it has satanic messages in it.” Jon’s album ‘Secrets Nobody Keeps’ will be funded by a fan-funding campaign via PledgeMusic, and is to be released possibly as early as this autumn. His Irish tour begins this April, starting on the 10th in Cyprus Avenue Cork, and ending in Dublin’s The Button Factory on April 13th. U.K. and Northern Irish dates have been set for September. For more information on his tour, you can find Jon on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jongommofficial or his website www.jongomm.com You’ll also find his ever-interesting Twitter page at @jongomm 62 www.musicreviewunsigned.com Jon Gomm Irish Tour Dates Wed Apr 10/ Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ireland Thu Apr 11/ Dolans warehouse, Limerick, Ireland Fri Apr 12/ Roisin Dubh, Galway, Ireland Sat Apr 13/ The Button Factory at Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland The MAPL System ::: How Canada Promotes Music Right News Editor - Feargal Daly Ok, the title may not be entirely true in some cases. If we get the bulls in the china shop out of the way and forget the names Bieber, Drake and depending on if you love jumping on the hate bandwagons, Nickelback, Canada produces some of the finest music artists in the world and has done for decades. Rush, Neil Young, Arcade Fire, Big Wreck & The Tragically Hip are just a handful of successful Canadian acts that spring to mind. Adopted in 1971, through the department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and private radio broadcasters, the MAPL system has proved hugely successful and important for upcoming Canadian bands, ushering in new guidelines and standards for making national talent relevant again. Canadian music which had previously been shrugged at in its own country was suddenly been given a platform to prove itself on a wider scale. Starting off with a percentage (25%) of airplay to be devoted to Canadian music the percentage was increased to 30% in the 1980s, and to 35% effective January 3, 1999. However it has been said that most new commercial radio stations licensed since 1999 have been licensed at 40%, further promoting from within. The successful identification of Canadian talent through the MAPL system allowed not just for Canadian music to flourish but also to affirm its identity and open up new options for transnational appeal where none or very limited access had existed. Naturally some of the major international labels and promoters are constantly up in arms over what they see as barriers to penetration from international acts. However, when you consider the huge stake many of the major labels have in domestic and foreign music markets you realise that MAPL isn’t so much a barrier as one of the first instances of fair music market share. Let’s take a look at MAPL. The MAPL System - Defining A Canadian Song The MAPL system is designed primarily to increase exposure of Canadian musical performers, lyricists and composers to Canadian audiences. It also strives to strengthen the Canadian music industry, including the creative and production components.While it stimulates all components of the Canadian music industry, Canadian citizen. Permanent resident as defined by the Immigration Act, 1976. Person whose ordinary place of residence was Canada for the six months immediately. preceding their contribution to a musical composition, performance or concert. Licensee, i.e. a person licensed to operate a radio station. the MAPL system is also very simple for the industry to implement and regulate. Within these regulations, four elements are used to qualify songs as being Canadian. How The MAPL System Works To qualify as Canadian content a musical selection must generally fulfill at least two of the following conditions: M (music) — The music is composed entirely by a Canadian. A (artist) — The music is, or the lyrics are, performed principally by a Canadian. P (performance) — the musical selection consists of a performance that is: Recorded wholly in Canada, or Performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada. L (lyrics) — The lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian. There are four special cases where a musical selection may qualify as Canadian content: The musical selection was recorded before January 1972 and meets one, rather than two, of the above conditions. It is an instrumental performance of a musical composition written or composed by a Canadian. It is a performance of a musical composition that a Canadian has composed for instruments only. The musical selection was performed live or recorded after September 1, 1991, and, in addition to meeting the criterion for either artist or production, a Canadian who has collaborated with a non-Canadian receives at least half of the credit for both music and lyrics. The CRTC states that for the purposes of the MAPL system, a Canadian can be defined by one of the following: Should Other Countries Adopt A Similar System? Never has such a resounding YES been an answer. Ok, the idea of government guidelines, policies and interventions gets people uneasy when it comes to more naturally liberal platforms like music, media etc. However, the simplification at which this type of system is defined and enforced is as easy as it sounds. Sure, we have the Arts Council in Ireland to provide essential financing to promote culture and art throughout and even recently U2 have started up ‘Music Generation’ to help promote music within disadvantaged schools and communities in conjunction with government support. But is it enough? It helps yes, but ultimately it’s a no. Unsigned bands in Ireland struggle. It’s a fact. We see it every day here at MRU. Little successes pop up here and there, and some take an extra leap onto major labels but that is increasingly rarer and rarer in a struggling industry. A nation so small and so proud of our musical heritage that defines our artistically rich culture and history is in a state of crisis. We need to promote not just established Irish bands but unsigned acts too. The little we do already just simply isn’t enough and a change needs to be seen. The music industry needs to stop holding on to the past systems taken as the norm. Embrace digital, online streaming and mobile technology completely – they are the new radio systems of yesterdays. While choice is a huge element of modern music consumers we still need to be able to promote options within that ability to choose. If we are to promote music then why not make it our own? Why not be proud of the music we produce as a nation whether signed or not? The MAPL system answers these and more. We need a system like this now more than ever. www.musicreviewunsigned.com 37 "The Indies are beginning W A chat with founder of Ruby Music Alex Jones Interview by Niel Cathcart hile not being born in Ireland, but London, Alex Jones is set to become a staple of the Irish Indie Music Scene. He started in the industry the old-fashioned way, and frankly the best way, by rising through the ranks of a studio. This one being Bark Studios, Walthamstow out side of London. There he became an assistant sound engineer to Brian O'Shaughnessy who has a great number of credits to his name including My Bloody Valentine's (along with most of Creation Records' catalogue actually) and 'Loaded' by Primal Scream. He got to work and interact with acts and label types from all the major labels at the time and was an education that later would be put to use to make Ruby Music. "I guess this is where my inspiration came from, to set up a label, having met the likes of McGhee, Jeff Barrett, Roddie McKenna etc., people responsible for all the bands I loved at the time. To a 19-year-old, they always seemed cool as fuck to me, still do I guess." Moving over here, with a passion and philosophy that wasn't going to be from the past. "The role of a 'Label' has definitely changed, which is why I call Ruby Music a 'Music Label', rather than a traditional 'Record Label'… I think at our level, Indie labels have become PR, gig and promo agencies, all rolled into one and vice versa. It's the only way you can attract acts.” It was clear to him that the old model of a label had collapsed and if labels were going to sign great acts it would also have to be profitable. So he incorporated the 360 deal into his model. This essentially means the label provides the artist with most if not all the financial support that is needed for promotion and touring, In return Ruby Music looks for a cut of everything, record sales, performances and merchandise. This deal has gained popularity mainly due to the fact or realisation that much of some musicians income now comes from other forms of revenue other than traditional album sales. "Most smaller Indie labels haven't a hope of making investment back from sales alone . . . so the 360 deal is becoming more and more popular.” "My next move for Ruby Music, is to start releasing Vinyl. Vinyl seems to be making a comeback and that's where my heart has 82 www.musicreviewunsigned.com always been. I mean, if I was at a gig and a band offered me a good-looking 7" single for a fiver, I'd take it and I don't even own a record player. It probably seems a bit childish but only then, would I feel like I actually own a record label. It's looking like Leon Rousseau's album 'Fat Bastard', will be our first Vinyl release, out soon.” As a founder of a rising label and someone who has been in the scene and industry for a few years now, not just here but abroad, he has a few choice words to say about why both are floundering. "We are constantly being failed by our 'Traditional' music press. When Manchester kicked off, do you think the NME and Melody Maker were sitting with their feet up in London waiting for it to happen on their own? Scratching their fat arses and regurgitating the Sex Pistols on the front cover? Constantly banging on about how great The Beatles were? No, They were straight up that motor way doing their job. They had responsible journalists." For us the likes of NME and Rolling Stone have been the pillars of music journalism and in the past they were responsible for not only promoting but helped foster a scene, rather than just look on at it. Here Hot Press was once regarded as the one ray light in what was a media black out for music. It obviously was an Irish Rolling Stone with music and current affairs. The emerging pirate radio from Britain's high seas and then here at home also helped get the newest music out to their followers. What was important was they were edgy, subversive and totally necessary if the scene was going to evolve. But now for the most part they have become static and falling woefully behind in their duties and responsibilities, they are more concerned with promoting themselves than anything else. "Where is our famous music magazine? They're missing everything I find them lazy, apathetic and unimaginative and hold them solely responsible for Irish music being largely ignored, internationally, for the last two deadest. If there was a tribunal for 'Crimes against your own Music Industry', those lazy fuckers would be propping up the www.ru to take over the asylum" dock. Fortunately, they are the last vestiges of the old Irish system.” These are harsh words but he speaks so passionately about this it is hard to argue with him because for him we, the media and everyone, are missing out on a wealth of talent that as he says is at our door steps. The Dime Store Recordings the Saucy Sundays and that’s just two among many in Dublin. Alex is eager to point out the potential scenes not getting any press. "You've got three bands in Galway Ka Tet, Race The Flux and We Town Criers. All hanging around together, have their own studio, their own Indie label, a POTENTIAL scene. You've got FIFA Records in Cork, knocking out great releases, almost every day, putting on packed gigs in Cork, a POTENTIAL Scene. Look at Waterford, a tiny town that has produced Kate Kim, O Emperor, Solar Taxi, King Kong company, Def Joe, Casanova Wave, who have a great little label with several bands signed, and three or four other little Indie labels, many of these people grew up together, went to school together, a POTENTIAL scene. Hot Sprockets, Hassle Merchants, New Secret Weapon, all hangs round together, recording together.” It's true, now and again you'll see these bands on a list of Ones to Watch in 20? They are on the line up to every Indie festival every summer but rarely get the column space they need to get further than Ireland. So what are these torch barriers of the industry up to? "They are too busy with their shite competitions, where the winner gets to be on the front cover. That's not what our bands need. Why aren't they using their weight to sponsor even the smallest tent at Glastonbury and putting on a bunch of Irish bands for the weekend? Or other festivals over Europe? Why aren't they using their influence to connect with labels around Europe and get some of these great bands a few deals? Why aren't they connecting a network of magazines worldwide, so that Irish music can get the exposure it deserves?" Why indeed. As someone who sees themselves part of the new rather than traditional music press I feel responsible and ashamed. All I can say is I'll try harder because it's worth it. It's not all doom and gloom as the "The Indies are beginning to take over the asylum.” We no longer have to rely on the old ways one page in one magazine every month. Social media has allowed "People who actually give enough of a fuck" to report and cover what musicians really mean to them. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook all enables fans/music lovers to share their opinions and recommendations. One only has to look at the popularity of Nialler9 to see how successful this model is. He has gone from a fan just attending gigs to running his own! He is at the forefront of "a new breed of people who are dead set on putting us on the world map.” Despite his gripes about the way things ubymusic.ie seem to be, Alex Jones is still excited about what could be and "I dream that Ruby Music can be, even the smallest part of it.” Ruby Music is now a small 'label' that is growing and April will be a big month for them as they have two releases to look forward to by two bands. Dem Fools releasing their single 'Shape of My Life' this week and then Ka Tet's first single 'Let My lady' out on the 8th of April, with the first of three singles from their album. www.rubymusic.ie www.musicreviewunsigned.com 39 A New Industry Awaits News Editor - Feargal Daly “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." Hunter S. Thompson The music industry is broken. It’s an uphill battle trying to salvage the best of the tried and true traditional and fuse it with a risky uncertain contemporary system...or so they say. As I write this I’m listening to an online stream of a new album being released next week. It’s in partnership with a commercial American radio station and every few songs are plagued by disgustingly annoying adverts. As a self-confessed traditional music consumer who buys physical platforms and the uttering of terms such as “Spotify” and “iTunes” scares me, I suddenly realise the irony of my situation and that I have become a modern consumer of music without realising it. You know what? I’m ok with that! But the industry doesn’t think like an individual or readily embrace new systems on a larger scale. They have invested so much in the old, dead system that to adapt is almost too much of a risk and are therefore left in the doldrums when tackling how they can sustain their relevance. I’ve still got a price tag left on a CD I purchased roughly a decade ago and it shocks me to this day that I was willing to part ways with €20 for a new album. Recently I noticed a 25% off offer attached to an already cheap €6.99 CD but I just wasn’t feeling like it was worth it anymore when I could just listen to an online stream or as some people seem to do – download it (legally or not). Why? That’s the big question. Why do we feel it’s ok to steal music? Why are unsigned and even major acts increasingly pressurized to give their music away for free? Are consumers the ones to blame for the downfall of the music industry? Or is the industry that is essentially killing itself? The very notion that music – an art form dating back to a primitive age – has become so far removed from its foundations that we are now faced with a dilemma. How do we 10 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com bridge the traditional with the modern? Or rather, how do we maintain the traditional and separate the modern failing industry that has become a plague for the art form against the positive aspects of digital consumption rapidly increasingly in recent years? Case ::: The Fall of HMV Ireland The demise of record stores is nothing new; a sad reality music lovers and musicians alike find themselves in denial over. Independent record stores have been struggling to stay in business and maintain relevance in the modern consumer music industry since the word “download” entered everyday vocabulary. Yet, despite the inevitable happening, it came as such a shock back in January when HMV announced it was going into administration. Things looked bleak for the store for years yet with over 200 stores across the UK and Ireland closing, rumours abound suggest that HMV UK may be saved just yet. As to what shape or form it will exist in the future is anybody’s guess. Our two cents would suggest flying alongside Amazon with a huge online focus both in terms of retail and marketing. Most HMV ads on UK based TV and websites no longer market HMV as solely “HMV” but rather “HMV.com”. “Buy online” has become the latest buzzword too to grace the adverts - a sure sign of a changing industry. HMV UK may just make it out of the chaos, but HMV Ireland? That’s a different story... With HMV Ireland completely relegated to history we take a look back at where the trouble all began this year and where it all went so wrong for the former music giant so quickly. Jan 1st ::: 16 Stores across Ireland open and fully operating. Jan 15th ::: HMV Ireland refuses all gift certificates despite being a separate entity to HMV UK. National Consumer Agency strongly condemns this action. Administration fears immediately follow. Jan 16th ::: HMV Ireland declared receivership. Ceases trading immediately due to Irish administration law. ‘Tiny Dancer – A Song For Lily Mae’ supporters fear that HMV will not honour the funds raised for the charity single. Jan 18th ::: Following in the footsteps of many UK based employees, numerous Irish staff stage a sit-in at Cork and Limerick store demanding they be paid their wages for December and January. Jan 19th ::: Staff end sit in after Deloitte Ireland confirm that staff will be paid in full. Jan 23rd ::: Invoices reported to be around €27,000 for ‘Tiny Dancer – A Song For Lily Mae’ are confirmed to be honoured by HMV putting fears to rest. Feb 12th ::: After much confusion and doubt, HMV Ireland announces that all Irish stores are set to close marking the end of the largest music Pof!Rvftujpo 6!Cboet Deputy Editor Meghan O’Dowd retailer in the country and the loss of 300 jobs. Music Piracy – Sending A Message Brooklyn band Ghost Beach recently made a bold statement by hosting what appears to be a pro-piracy billboard in the very public spotlight of Times Square, New York. You can read the full story in MRU but it later revealed to be a clever way to inspire thoughtful discussions on the current ethical standards of consumers and the industry alike. There is currently an overwhelming response in favour of piracy on the bands ‘Artist VS Artist’ website where the band gave consumers the option to purchase or freely download their music. This is an option many bands almost a decade ago thought was clever but only the heavyweights could pioneer this game-changing strategy. We saw Prince release an album exclusively free with a British newspaper and famously Radiohead released ‘In Rainbows’ for free. Yet two things come to mind here: ::: These bands are established acts with a huge fanbase and essentially can afford to give their music away for free as long as it attracted enough attention that the acts could reap in the revenue from merch and ticket sales on tours. ::: Both albums eventually received a physical release that retailed at general pricing and still sold huge amounts. So how is it that consumers have now come to expect music for free? Bands never made much from album sales anyway – well not since possibly the early 90s. Then somewhere in the 2000s Napster appeared and suddenly music was free – illegal, but free. Metallica infamously brought them to court and effectively stopped them but many other similar sites cropped up – Limewire, Pirate Bay etc. The Damage was done and it seemed like piracy won. Then the advent of the iPode effectively changed the scene. Here was a new way to get music on to a portable system. Yes you had to pay but you could be guaranteed a quality product at a great price along with exclusives and boy did people lap that up! Then came apps. Another game changer. Spotify, Rdio, Sirius XM and countless others became subscription based service. A natural evolution, or rather a great companion to the premium download services. Here at your fingertips are vast libraries of music from all over the world – both signed and unsigned – for your listening pleasure. People love it and it has worked. Online music sales even saved the US record industry this year amounting to record numbers of digital consumption. Now there’s some good news for once. So what of piracy? It’s still a huge issue but are consumer attitudes changing towards piracy because of legal app and download services? Time will tell but all signs point to fiercer regulations being imposed by internet providers and governments which are a little late but not too much so. It’s time to pick up the pieces. What Now? The music industry needs to come to terms with new patterns of consumption. We may have been blind to the huge mark up on music in the past by music retailers that it’s any wonder that the HMV situation didn’t happen sooner. The industry needs to stop dancing around the contemporary platforms and let go of their traditional approach. Digital consumption and online streaming are not the feared future. Artist rights and equal distribution of revenue is not the feared future. They are the present. They are being embraced and the sooner the “industry” powers adapt to the force of the mobile connected consumer, the sooner the industry will restore itself to - not its former glory days - but its healthier, fairer prospective future. If you had to choose, would you pick digital or analogue recording? “Definitely analogue, I prefer the warmth of the sound from an analogue recording. It’s much more organic.” Ronan Power, (vocalist) Jemson Green “I think analogue. I had the honour of recording onto Paul Weller's old analogue machine. Costs are the only problem with it over digital, but it definitely gives a different rawness to the recordings.” Matty Kearns, (guitar/vocals) Run from the Cure “For convenience of editing and speed digital is great. It's funny though that people spend forever trying to recreate analogue sounds that have never been bettered like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. My preference would be to work with an engineer with a good old analogue mixer that they are familiar with using, output to a digital setup. “ Dave Murphy, (bassist) Mael Mordha “Digital. Analogue was once the cutting edge, and as we advance, we really should embrace it. It shouldn't be used to cut corners in talent, but can really make the sounds in your head come to life.” Bo, (vocals/guitar) Knots “We would have to say digital; unfortunately the main reason is that analogue recording simply doesn't have the perfection and quality that the music industry demands from records these days, with its audio distortions, noise-related problems and speed variations. It's a crying shame!” Anthony Orzel, (vocals/piano) Pacific www.jemsongreen.com www.facebook.com/RunFromTheCureMusic www.mael-mordha.com www.facebook.com/knotsmusic www.pacificofficial.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com 11 3 E ZIN A G A e U M t of th R M tis Ar onth 13 M 20 il Apr S Deputy Editor Meghan O’Dowd 12 2 ince forming just 12 months ago, Dingle based band Walking on Cars have imprinted themselves on the Irish music scene. Winning the Redbull Bedroom Jam 2012 saw the band taking to Grouse Lodge studios with producer Tom McFall (Snow Patrol, The Editors, Bloc Party) for an exclusive recording experience. Their first track ‘Catch Me If You Can’ was released on March 14th 2013 to a huge response. Within days, it had climbed the Irish iTunes charts beating the likes of One Direction. Their debut video (produced by Bold Puppy Productions) was released days later and has since amassed over 28,000 views on YouTube. There’s no doubt that their position as MRU’s Artist of the Month is a well deserved placement. Despite a hectic schedule, we managed to catch up with the band to find out how they’re feeling at this point, and what the future might hold for Walking on Cars. “A year and a half ago in Dingle we were left with two choices. Emigrate, or make music. And we haven’t looked back since.” Certainly a wise choice, as Irish music without Walking on Cars simply wouldn’t be the same. It’s rare to discover a band that in such a short space of time can make incredible leaps towards success. “Nothing is www.musicreviewunsigned.com impossible” is the message the band try to convey in their music. And surely, they are living proof of this. “Our confidence has grown so much in the past few months because we have been gigging a lot around the country, doing live radio shows and TV performances. It has made us realise that it is possible to succeed as an independent Irish band.” With such a hopeful attitude, it is no surprise that the band have had so much success in such little time. Their views on Irish music are positive as they look towards the future. In recent months, they have made their passion for live performance known with constant touring and shows across the country. Having already made an appearance at Indiependence, Sea Sessions and the Valencia Festival, their most recent opportunity found them on stage in Dublin’s Vicar Street alongside Paddy Casey for Comic Relief Does Dublin. “It was such a great experience playing a venue as prestigious as Vicar Street and we look forward to playing more venues like this. The Greenroom was amazing… We wanted to take the couches home with us!” Needless to say, it was an experience that will stay with the band for a long time still. “We spent most of the night warming up and preparing so we didn’t get a chance to get nervous until we were waiting at the wing of the stage where we felt the energy of the crowd, that’s when the nerves kicked in!” Not that you’d know they were nervous. MRU were there on the night to witness their performance – which was as natural as if they were one of the world-class international acts that the Vicar Street stage has seen in the past. With musicality and lyrical talent to rival the likes of Snow Patrol, it’s hard to believe the band have just released their first track. We were dying to know where all this talent had been hiding. “Everyone has their own input into the writing process. Usually we just start off with an idea and we lock ourselves into a room until we are happy with the final piece”. Evidently their system works, if the response to their debut track ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is anything to judge by. For a young band like this to have such a response from the public is a bit of a brainmelting experience, for them and also for those following their success. “It has been amazing; we had been sitting on this song for months, so to get the response that we have gotten since we released it is overwhelming. “When we think about the song… it reminds us all of the good times spent writing and then recording it in Grouse Lodge.” Winning the Redbull Bedroom Jam 2012 was clearly not lost on them, as they seem to have put the opportunity to as much use as possible. Talking to the band, they understand the importance of Ireland’s unsigned music scene and what it may take for them to reach their goals. “The scene in Ireland is flourishing with loads of great bands coming up at the moment. With the help of the internet and social media it is becoming a lot easier to get your music heard. “We have been very lucky to get the support from Irish media since our release of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ which we are very grateful for.” The support for Walking on Cars has truly been impressive, with airplay and interviews on both Today FM and Spin Southwest in the past week alone. Seeing this ever-growing support for the band says a lot about where they’re going. But their humility and laid-back mindset means they’re not asking for much more. “We’re pretty happy with where we are right now and want to keep the momentum going, but a bit more cash to work with would be nice!” We hear you. A little more cash to splash would be good for all of us. Evergreen or not , they plan to keep doing what they’re doing no matter what. We asked them where they saw themselves in 5 years time. “Still working hard and loving what we do.” Short, sweet, and humble to a fault. You can’t dislike these guys. They know how lucky they are to have come this far, and the best advice they can give is this. “Get your name out there by doing as many gigs as possible. You can never rehearse too much. Keep writing and writing!” A basic point, but valid nonetheless. We’re just waiting for the moment when these guys are snapped up as it’s bound to happen soon enough. As they said themselves, “who knows what will come up in the future”. It’s setting up to be a busy summer for Walking on Cars, with a host of festival appearances. They’ve also just finished their debut EP, which will be launched in Whelans on June 20th. You can find the band on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WalkingOnCars Watch the official video for ‘Catch Me If You Can’ here: www.youtu.be/JwtOdYI2OsQ IRISH TOUR DATES: April 13th The Granvue Hotel, Omeath, Co. Louth April 25th GMIT, Galway April 26th Whelans, Dublin (Special guests to Touchwood) May 4th Féile na Bealtaine, Dingle (Special guests to Damien Dempsey) May 31st INEC, Killarney, Co. Kerry (Special guests to The Riptide Movement) June 20th Whelans, Dublin (EP Launch) www.musicreviewunsigned.com 13 Teenage Moods An interview in drawings www.teenagemoods.bandcamp.com Interview by By Ian Stenlund Teenage Moods just released their fourth album, Grow, which is pressed on a marbled vinyl and packaged in a personally screen printed jacket. Sounds nice, right? Wait until you hear the record. I always cringe when I hear a reviewer saying an album is “timeless” (it’s too sensational), but that’s all that comes to mind when listening to Grow. There is a quality to the songwriting that transcends the notes played and the melodies sung. The songs go deep, deep into the memory of how you felt when you first heard Nirvana or The Beatles or Green Day. Or yea, the memory of your ripe teenage moods…. So the bottom line is that you gotta listen to it to feel what I’m talking about. You can stream Grow on their bandcamp page here, and it’s only $5 to download – a real steal. If you’re interested in the wonderfully crafted, limited edition vinyl, visit the 25 Diamonds Record Label site here. Knowing of their talents in visual arts, I decided to put a spin on the typical interview: the band answered my questions by drawing pictures. The following interview was drawn in 3-5 minute timed sessions by Gordon Byrd (guitar/vocals), Jillian “Shredder” Schroeder (bass), and Taylor Motari (drums) of Teenage Moods, and then edited together by my collaborator, Celeste Heule. How would you describe a typical Teenage Moods practice? You’ve been playing together for 5 years. What was your most embarrassing moment? 14 www.musicreviewunsigned.com How would you describe a typical Teenage Moods show? What is your ideal environment for writing music? Whatâ€™s the best way to buy your new album, Grow, in order to best support you as independent artists? WHY should I buy your new album? What advice do you have for younger kids these days who want to start a band? Where is your favorite place to take someone on a date in Minneapolis? How do you want people to feel when they listen to Grow? www.musicreviewunsigned.com 15 Steven Sharpe ::: Who’s the Man? “What’s with all the dancing? Why the hell do you talk like that? Is saying faggot the same as saying the N-word? What are you going to do, just work in Topman for the rest of your life? And, who is the man?” S By Cian Murray teven Sharpe is a gay man, hardly flaming, whose recent show sold out for two nights in Galway’s premier theatre, the Town Hall. Entitled Who’s The Man, it tackled the alienation of being a homosexual in Ireland and the many questions, such as those above, which have been posed to him in the intervening years. He did this in the only way Steven knows how – with infectious, energetic and often funny musical story-telling. Steven’s music is much more than a tirade against the Irish gay scene – songs such as ‘He makes the weather’ and ‘Damien’s Last Ballad’ will resonate with anyone who has ever pressed a little too hard on the selfdestruct button. Ahead of recording his upcoming album, Steven met MRU’s Cian Murray for a typically honest interview. What can people who have never heard of Steven Sharpe expect? It took forever for me to figure this out because when I started everyone thought I was a comedian and that wasn’t what I was going for at all. I wanted to write music and tell stories, so I was always like “I’m a musician, I’m a musician, I’m a musician!” Then when I got this across, I had people calling it R&B, acoustic funk, soul and pop. I’ve become comfortable now just calling it honest, catchy musical stories. Your stage show was an undeniable hit – two sell out shows and standing ovations both nights. Tell me about it? The show is called Who’s the Man. It is based on questions straight people ask gay people – like what did your father say? Were you worried about going to hell growing up? etc. I am working on updating it at the moment and plan to perform it again at various fringe festivals over the next few months. Was it hard transgressing your music into a theatrical sphere? Not really. When I started off it was hard 16 24 26 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com feeling like you belong and there are many people, gay and straight, male and female, that feel like this. This scene, which you never felt part of, still manages to be one of your biggest influences? It is one of my biggest influences. There is about 200 people in the gay scene in Galway and about 800 other people. It is the loudest voices that are always heard and I wanted to represent the other side – the not so fabulous. Who inspires you as a musician? When I started it was recording artists such as Nina Simone and Kate Bush but since I started performing my music it is the musicians I hang around. For instance, when my good friend Tara Stacy writes a good song, I am like ‘bitch, I’ve got to up my game.’ getting pub shows, because there are very few places that want original artists playing songs about all men being bastards for instance. But with the theatre show, I felt as though I could just let the reins off and be as honest as I wanted to be. You say it was difficult getting gigs. Would you put much importance on the open-mic scene? I adore open-mics, and free sets and anything that will let a musician just get up there and showcase their art. You deal with many topics in your music, but a recurring one is the Irish gay scene. Do you worry that this may make your music inaccessible to straight people? No, because I think they are all universal themes. I talk about the gay scene, not because I don’t like it, but because I don’t fit in. So I think the broader theme is about not You’ve worked with several musicians in the Galway music scene. Do you feel more comfortable as a solo artist, or do you enjoy the camaraderie of a band? I am definitely more comfortable being a solo artist. When I was younger I envied the team element of bands but I love that I get to do whatever I want and I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. That being said, I am currently writing something with the fabulous singer songwriter Katie O’Connor. Watch this space! Finally, give me three unsigned musical acts in Galway which MRU readers should check out? Well, there is the amazing Tara Stacy whose first album Old Flames was being listened to by half of Galway at one stage. There is also the Little Shakers – one of the most well rounded bands I’ve ever heard and of course, there is Katie O’Connor, who just does not know how to write a bad song. www.stevensharpe.bandcamp.com/ FOREIGN TALKS Review by - Shane Buckley FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS. Change this unhealthy RedBull diet. The smoking is fine, but this God-forsaking habit, this feeling and belief that I can only work under the conditions and supervision of RedBull, requires alteration. But let’s get through this piece first. Now, this review, this piece, whatever it is, its content is music fresh, ripe, and undiluted. Its subject matter is of a band that is to say respectful enough to you the reader, that I have never heard of this band before. But like everything and every day, and everything that goes on in a day, you wake up hoping to escape the norm, and aim to embrace the new. And that’s the theme of a healthy life. But according to the aforementioned opening paragraph, I seem to be failing. This band goes by the name of Foreign Talks. A band who hails from the magical land of the states oh the enormous envy. Portland, Oregon to get all geographic on you. From reading Bio’s upon Bio’s of both legendary and not so legendary bands, what springs to mind instantly is that no one ever does a true justice to a band’s Bio, so to avoid future finger pointing at the page filler, I will make it brief, because after all it’s the music I want to talk about. From the well written account on the “in music we trust” site, the band formed in 2011, a good year, a creative year and a year unlike others personal opinion. By the sounds of it, the band’s birth could not have been a more magical one. Forming a group, a brotherhood, a band, and a friendship, in the coincidental realms of a music store, where Brothers Marcus and Madison Fischer, along with Kevin Downes and Tanner Steinmetz began to jam. Though they previously met in high school, their real relationship the one that distinguishes them from just being friends truly began in the creative confinements of that music store. Stepping aside from the textbook definition you might say it was romantic, or least of all; as close to perfect as you can heavenly get when considering a perfect musical alliance. Now, to the music. The three tunes I sat down to explore as I sipped a delicious caffeine fueled fizzy drink were titled “denial, Santa Cruz, and the Spell.” Three songs that decided to just smoothly ease themselves through and throughout my ears like the gentle Californian sun kissing the skin of your significant other without any awkward pause for thought. I had nothing to negatively contribute nothing. I’m not about to dissect tones, leads, amp-settings, diameter of drum sticks and so forth I’ll leave that to the soon to be die hard fans. What I am about to expose to you, reader; is what I personally took from this new experience of music, the sensational vocal. This youthful yet exquisitely modern vocal just rides on this perpetual continuum of pleasantness and seems to make stress exit out the back door of life. The Fischer brothers take hold of their abilities and allow the world to hear it. The general percussion usage and harmony arrangements are done to a standard that would fit in on any modern album available. After a couple of listens it just strikes you that the music could not be laid out or recorded in any other conceivable way unless you just wanted to explore new sounds but believe me, what you get is more than good enough, reader. What is most amazing to me is that when I write, I need something exceptionally soothing to gently coat my ear drums and block out any external unnecessary sonic displeasure I wrote this piece while listening to Foreign Talks, The Spell. To me, that says enough. Like every band I talk to in both formal and informal circumstances I always put a question to them; “what are your thoughts on the current music scene?” this is what Mark of Foreign Talks had to say: “In my opinion the current music scene is lacking soul. Don’t get me wrong, out there in this world there are some very talented groups/artists, but none of them are recognized for it. My personal goal for the music world is to bring real music back to the ‘mainstream music stream’ in hopes that we can make and have a positive musical domino effect and see some of these amazing artists get the recognition they deserve. But as for our band (Foreign Talks) we are ready to show the world what we’ve got, what we’ve had, and what we plan to gain.” I was happy to hear from him number one, and secondly I was positively beaming after reading his statement. His words conveyed an innocent yet strong passion. These days I feel a band needs to be in touch with that kind of passion in order to survive in this metaphoricmosh-pit- of a music-industry. To find out more about this becoming band; just Google the name Foreign Talks and experience a new sound that just grabs you in all the right areas. I’d recommend it, reader. All the best. www.facebook.com/ForeignTalks 60 Seconds With… THE ENEMIES (on tour!) Deputy Editor Meghan O’Dowd Where are you now? Driving from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. 333 miles to be exact, and through what can only be described as Irish weather. Rain, sleet and plenty of snow! What's it been like touring the U.S.? Have there been high and low points? Touring the U.S. in general has to be a high point for us… finally getting to play for the fans who having been buying our music. Specifically, it would have to be experiencing the fans sing the lyrics to our songs back to us. That’s an image that will stick with us forever. Then playing at such a prestigious festival such as SXSW and guesting on Foxlive's morning segment of Gooday Austin, and then SunAm on NBC's CW Austin network. The moment you realise your music is going out live to millions of people all over Texas is surreal. Low points… while there aren't many, the main one would have to be not being able to spend as much time in the great cities and towns that we have visited, but we will rectify this on our next trip around. What’s the first thing you will do when you get home? Spend time with our family, friends & loved ones. Then we are straight back into the studio to finish our Debut Album "Sounds Big on The Radio" If you had one day left to live? How would you spend it? That’s easy! With friends & family. If you could say one thing, to the MRU readers right now what would it be? Make friends with The Enemies! www.theenemiesmusic.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com 17 Mark ‘Stilts’ Foster ::: Walking Tall From the steel works of Scunthorpe to the Manchester music scene, singer songwriter Stilts Foster tells Liam Thorp about his road to Damascus. Interview by Liam Thorp “So ‘Stilts’, it’s because you’re so tall right?” I am confident with this assertion when I meet Mark ‘Stilts’ Foster, he is seated, but this does nothing to hide his beanstalk frame. Sat casually sipping a pint of lager, his extended legs eat up much of their surroundings as I carefully navigate past. “You would think so yeh – but it is actually a well random story,” Foster continues in a thick Scunthorpe accent. “My mate’s thought I looked like a bloke called Stiles out of a show called Teen Wolf, then another bloke thought they were saying stilts, and it just stuck, it’s not a very good story that is it” (laughs), this nonchalant tone is to become a feature of our conversation. But Foster’s music is anything but casual. His melancholic musings delicately tell tales of pain, heartache and a degree of deep rooted emotion. Tracks like the infectious ‘Hold’ , which combines simple chords with personal, poetic lyrics – illustrate that Foster’s material, whilst poignant is also highly memorable. “It’s not all my own experiences,” he points out. “Alot of it is from other people’s relationships, family and friends, and obviously some of my own. But it’s not always me, I think some people do read into that and give me that sad look after a gig, but it’s not all stuff I’ve been through, I can look on at a situation and if it inspires me, i’ll write about it.” One thing that has certainly inspired much of Foster’s work, is his own ‘road to Damascus moment’ that saw him give up a career in Scunthorpe’s steel industry and head to Manchester – the idea? “to give the music stuff a go.” “I’d sold my old house and broken up with my Mrs.” He explains. “I was looking at new houses and thinking, do I really wanna do this again? Settle down and get another mortgage? You’re a long time dead, and a long time in a mortgage aren’t you, so around that time I started thinking – I don’t fancy this anymore.” Foster talks fondly of his time at the steel 18 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com works, with good pay, steady work and a good crop of mates – I suggest that his decision to leave and explore a musical career can’t have been an easy one. “It wasn’t,” he shakes his shaggy mane from side to side. “But if you’re gonna have a quarter life crisis, you might aswell do it for something you really love, like music. I mean, imagine having a quarter life crisis and re-training as a pharmacist, what’s the point in that?” “I was lucky that I had a couple of really supportive people around me at that time that encouraged me and believed that I could be something else.” But not everyone agreed with his bold move. He says that for every one who wished him well there was a naysayer, warning against the pitfalls of leaving such a steady way of life. “Well that’s a fine attitude to have if you haven’t got balls, but if you have, then you’ve got to ignore it.” The song Mulgrave Street is a heartfelt track which talks of co-workers, who, after a life in the steel works were full of warnings about not getting stuck, about getting out and doing your own thing, a message that Foster says was echoed by his father. “Well my old man did 35 years in the same job, as a blacksmith and I knew he wasn’t that keen on me getting into the steel game. I don’t think any parent wants their kid doing something similar to them, they want more for you.” Nevertheless, he still counts the day he told his dad about his decision to leave, as a fearful one. “I was terrified, I thought he was just gonna call me a bum, but he was really great – very supportive.” Foster decided to enroll on a music course at the University of Salford, a move which would give him the means to continue his song writing. “The loan? (laughs) yeh that came in very handy. But the free time aswell, I wasn’t coming in knackered and trying to write. But at the same time it’s hard to go from such a structured, rigid life of shift working to being a student. I think institutionalized is a strong word, i’m not saying it was like prison before – but yeh, it took a lot of getting used to.” “It’s important not to get carried away with new ideas of what you think works” But it worked – after a tentative first year in Manchester, Stilts Foster is now making the right noises, in the right places – with video shoots, radio appearances and most importantly – plenty of gigs, including a recent appearance at Paul Heaton’s legendary Salford boozer, The King’s Arms. “That was brilliant – I can’t recommend the place enough. I think they do fantastic things for local music. It was also on a Saturday night, which is great – you get a weekend crowd in, having a beer and that’s something I’d like to do more of.” Mark admits that his first forays into performing were unnerving, and I ask him how big a role confidence has played in his growing reputation. “Oh Massive, confidence is the main thing. When I first started, I would never open my eyes during a set, I literally didn’t open them cos I was too scared – I thought i’ll open them at the end and hopefully people will be into it – and hopefully they won’t all of left, gradually I began to open my eyes (laughs), it’s just a little thing, but it’s all about confidence.” www.stiltsfoster.com Foster has also changed to a standing stance during his gigs, he says it’s a move away from the seated singers of today such as Ben Howard, and an homage to some of his heroes like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. “I think as entertainers, those guys wanted to hold the stage and it helps if you are standing – again it is a confidence thing though.” So what is next for Stilts Foster? “Well,” he lets out a low snigger as he informs me that next week, he and a handful of fellow Salford music students are to meet with a man from Sony, specifically Simon Cowell’s ‘Syco’ music brand-and audition. “I’m told it’s the main A and R man in charge of One Direction, so he’s gonna have a bit of a shock when he sees me haha.” But in serious terms, the next year is a big one for the quietly ambitious Foster, who is looking at many more gigs, radio play and some festivals slots next summer. In terms of new material, fans can expect similar themes and a similar sound, Foster knows what works and he intends to stay true to that. “It’s great to write new material, but often the simple melodies that you’ve recorded and played, they’re the ones that people like and keep listening to. It’s important not to get carried away with new ideas of what you think works, it’s about your listeners. Plus I’ve never been into jazz or experimental stuff.” “I just don’t suit trilby’s.” www.musicreviewunsigned.com 19 3 UIF!GBTIJPO!PG HMBN!SPDL GSPN!JDPOT!UP!TFRVJOT By Elenalevd 20 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com There is no doubt that fashion and music go hand in hand together. Usually, it isnâ€™t enough to simply have great vocals or be a guitar virtuoso. The fashion sense might not be the most important attribute of a successful musician, but it definitely plays a big role in the overall perception of an artist. For example, not many people know about Stephani Germanotta, but most people know who is Lady Gaga. When she first started out as an underground musician, she wore normal clothes, her makeup was basic, and her name was average. Nobody knew who she was, even though her music and vocals were great. However, when she transformed from plain girl Stefani to eccentric Lady Gaga, people immediately wanted to know who she was; and, the difference between the two personas was fashion. When Stefani became Gaga, it was all about expressivity, pop-art and sequins. Nowadays, there are many musicians just like Gaga that use personal fashion as a way of expressing themselves externally, just look at Katy Perry, Nicky Minaj, Florence Welsh, and a newcomer Iggy Azalea. These stars wear colourful and funky clothes, which is why they stand out more than others. It’s like the modern world of pop has been infected by the spirit of the 1970s Glam Rock era. But, who invented it? Originally, Glam Rock was developed in the United Kingdom in the early ’70s and was known for its dramatic fashion style combined with rock or pop music. At that time, it was all about exaggeration and art. Musicians wore lots of sequins, heavy makeup, big hair and lots of colour. Indeed, it was all about standing out from the crowd. Many people would argue that the Glam Rock fashion itself was created or introduced by David Bowie, which he expressed through his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. His costumes, makeup and stage persona was all about glitter, emotion, colours and performance art. He is an inspiration for many modern musicians and fashion enthusiasts due to his artistically expressive fashion sense. Many designers and musicians look to Bowie for fashion inspiration. His colourful and exaggerated appearance is not only inspiring, it is magnetic and impossible not to like. Another great Glam Rock inspiration is a legendary band KISS. Indeed, who doesn’t know KISS? The truth is, even if some people are not familiar with this band’s music, they would still recognize the black and white face paint. The KISS are known for their theatrical and unconventional look, as well as highly entertaining performances. Indeed, this band used pyrotechnics, shooting rockets, fire breathers, smoking guitars, elaborate lightening, and more visuals, at their concerts. As a result of such entertaining shows and such different image, many kids in the ‘70s imitated the clothes and makeup worn by KISS members. The rock band Alice Cooper, is another iconic band/singer of the Glam Rock era; its lead singer Vincent Damon Furnier (better known as Alice Cooper) is known as the godfather of “shock rock”, due to his theatrical and witty persona on stage and in life. Furnier is known for his gothic rock’n’roll fashion with heavy eye makeup and big hair. Other influential Glam Rock icons were Elton John, New York Dolls, T.Rex, Gary Glitter and many more. The interesting thing is that even after the 1970s decade was over, the fashion and style of Glam Rock continued to develop. Many iconic rock and pop artists from different decades were influenced by the 1970s Glam Rock icons. The Glam Rock fashion is inspiring because it is unconventional. Not everybody is brave enough to wear glitter and sequins. It takes a really creative person to be able to walk confidently in sparkly platform heels, wear metallic fake lashes, especially for a man. People forget that music is art, however, so is fashion. We all know that the business of show-business is to entertain, which is why it is important to appreciate such expressive and entertaining fashion, because it is just as entertaining as the music itself. Even if you are not a fan of the Glam Rock style, you cannot deny that it is artistic, expressive, dramatic and visually effective. Glam Rock puts the icons and the sequins together, which results in limitless creativity. It’s all about not being afraid to take risks and trying something new. The fashion of Glam Rock is all about more is more, because the idea of less is more is boring and plain. Why copy everyone else when you were born to stand out? Just imagine rock and pop music without Glam Rock influences, it would be so boring and so plain. So, don’t be afraid to try this style yourself. You don’t have to imitate David Bowie from head to toe, but a simple bright lipstick, which is one of the hottest trends this season, could really transform you from ordinary to ‘divalicious’. Glitter is another great way to imitate Glam Rock icons; try putting a little bit of glitter at the inner corner of your eyes for that glamorous look: For a night out, try an exaggerated cat eye makeup and neon pink blush. Don’t be afraid to be artistic with your clothes and makeup. And, most importantly, do not forget about the hair! Glam Rock is all about big and messy hairstyle, so you are free to experiment with a hairbrush as much as you like. This trend is all about combining strong rock’n’roll look with elements of beauty and glamour. Remember, if you want to be remembered, you have to take a chance and do things differently from everybody else. So, this season, bring on the glitter, platforms, metallics, bold makeup and messy hair. Express Yourself! www.musicreviewunsigned.com 21 3 Georgina Horne Deputy Fashion Editor - Melise Amour 22 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com I got chatting to blogger and ‘UGLY model’ represented fuller figure model Georgina Horne about her blog, bras and what it’s been like putting herself out there. Why did you initially set up your blog? I started my blog after coming third in Curvy Kate’s annual ‘Star In A Bra’ search. I entered in an attempt to show larger women how bras look on them, and coming third did not dishearten me, it instead motivated me to carry on with my quest. What do you find are the biggest mistakes women make when buying bras? For starters, bra sizes are often not explained. I never knew what the back number meant, and my cup size always freaked me out. I wish someone had told me I was not abnormal, and that the number is your ribcage measurement, the letter is how proportionally big your breasts are. Secondly, women do not understand the function of the various parts of the bra. The band should give you most of the support, the straps very little. The wires need to sit around your bust, not on it, and you should fasten newer bras on the loosest hook. Women also often want to buy cheap bras, and so squeeze themselves into the wrong size. Invest in two or three well fitted bras and you will not regret it. What’s it been like putting yourself out there online and in the media? It’s been mixed. I take everything to heart and so it can take 100 good comments and one bad one to knock me and make me reconsider what I am doing. I know it comes with the territory, but I am very sensitive! That being said, the positive has far outweighed the negative, and I am so blessed to have such amazing readers. Which is by far your favourite store to shop at? Pinup Girl Clothing for sure. I have never found so many off the rack dresses that fit so well! And finally what message would you like to send out to women and young girls? Never be disheartened at yourself. Not everyone looks the same or like the media. If you can change do. If not, do not despair! Find your style, your look and focus on what makes YOU beautiful. For more from Georgina you can follow her blog Fuller Figure Fuller Bust (you gotta check this girl’s portfolio, it’s to die for) here www.fullerfigurefullerbust.com/ or on Facebook at /www.facebook.com/FullerFigureFullerBust www.musicreviewunsigned.com 23 3 Spectacular Vintage Wedding Fair F By Nirina Plunkett Photography by Nirina Plunkett & Paul Kolbe. or all the brides-to-be, if vintage fashion is your niche then you best keep reading! The Spectacular Vintage Wedding Fair took place this weekend, in the Davenport Hotel on Merrion Square. Over 30 vendors represented all the elements of wedding planning from the very important wedding dress to photography, cakes, accessories and music. And all represented vintage at its best. knitwear. Vintage footwear is also available, with pearl and ribbon details. For all the details, visit www.bellableu.ie Amazing Accessories The All-Important Dress Caroline Atelier by Caroline Matthews designs intricate wedding dresses with vintage in mind. She offers brides something different from the usual, by mixing old vintage with modern wedding dress shapes. Caroline uses lace, embellishments and silk satin in ivory hues to create vintage-style dresses that are all unique. Also available are handcrafted headpieces, boleros and brooches for the bridal party. For the bridal collection and details, visitwww.caroline-atelier.com/ Bella Bleu is Cork’s first and foremost bridal boutique for vintage fashion. This boutique stocks dresses from the 1920s to the 1970s, which have been carefully restored and cleaned for all vintage brides-to-be. Dresses feature intricate lace, embellishment and pearl detail, and accessories are plentiful at Bella Bleu, stocking Irish and international designers’ headpieces, jewellery and even 24 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com Emma McManus creates bespoke vintage designs for all the extra bits for your special day. Jewellery and headpieces are Emma’s specialty, she designs all the pieces herself, using her love of all things vintage as inspiration. Having studied Textile Crafts and specializing in hand weaving techniques, Emma found her skills in creating handmade brooches, headpieces with unique touches for all types of brides. For all details, contact Emma at email@example.com Ruffled Ruby is an amazing alternative for vintage-loving brides-to-be. They provide brides with bouquets made of textured vintage material to form flower bouquets filled with lace, pearl pins, brooches and the ladies behind it all, Barbara McDonagh & Caitriona Barry, encourage their customers to use any family heirlooms or accessories to make their bouquet even more special. Accessories for the mother-of-the-bride are also available, as are headpieces, corsages and detailed buttonhole pieces. For the full collection, visit www.ruffledruby.com/ Wild is a couture florists by Jill O’Keefe, based in Cork City. Jill’s business has been about since 2006, helping to create a very unique vintage-themed look for your big day. As well as flowers of all sorts and styles, Wild offers accessories for table décor, bouquets and buttonhole pieces. Inspired by her grandfather and the World War II era, Jill offers everything from old clocks to buttons and vintage lace, and even an old rocking horse. For all the details, visit http://wild.ie/ Wedding Photographers Ivana Patarcic is a Croatian wedding photographer living in Dublin, that brings vintage to your wedding album. Her photos have personality and emotion and focus on all the details of every brides’ big day. Her preference for natural light helps create beautiful images, and her eye for detail helps create that vintage feel. Ivana ensures every couples’ comfort while capturing the wedding day, by meeting the bride and groom beforehand for consultation with tea and cake. For contact details, visit www.ivana-photography.com/weddings/ Inspired by Love is a photography business by Sona. In her 4th year of photography, Sona focuses on all the details using natural light and no camera filters to capture beautiful shots of everything important you want for your wedding album. Sona covers all types of wedding-related photography from the engagement, the wedding to the Trash/Cherish the Dress session. For contact details, visit www.ivana-photography.com/weddings/ Baked Goodies The Cake Cuppery is a unique take on wedding cakes and cupcakes. Run by Dubliner Cat Lawlor, vintage wedding cake couture will be one of the highlights of your wedding. All cakes and cupcakes are handmade and designed with vintage imagery, like lace, ribbon, pearls and floral designs of all sorts. Cat creates every baked goodie herself, in her home bakery in Lucan, in an assortment of vintage pastel colours. Her typical cake flavours include vanilla, chocolate, lemon, red velvet and roseinfusion. Her inspiration for creating these beautiful goodies was to offer something different and chic, for every bridal dream. For pricing and contact details, visit www.thecakecuppery.ie/ Emily’s Pantry offers beautiful cake creations with vintage colours and designs in mind. Pretty pastels for cupcakes, desserts, cake pops and the all-important wedding cake that come in a variety of flavours. Inspired by her grandmother, a patisserie chef, Emily has honed baking and patisserie skills over the last couple of years. Working by herself in her home-studio bakery, she designs the cakes to please her bride-to-be customers, with tasting consultations beforehand. For pricing and contact details, visit www.emilyspantry.ie/ The Spectacular Vintage Wedding Fair was complete with a fashion show, represented by two beautiful models. They wore dresses by the designers present, held bouquets by both Ruffled Ruby and Wild, and wore jewellery, headpieces, veils & shoes by designers in the fair. Both small size and plus size shapes were represented beautifully. The models wore both vintage and modern dresses, with lace being a huge feature, as well as different necklines and dress shapes. www.spectacularvintageweddingfair.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com 25 3 My Milkshake Brings All The Models To The Yard! Deputy Fashion Editor - Melise Amour As we’ve gathered from my most recent post (Orange you glad this happened to me?) I’m someone who tends to find themselves in hairy situations (ba-dum-tish) but it’s not always for the worst, sometimes I’m really good with hair and on the rare special occasion I turn my model into a milkshake! Kimberley Bale Tattoo Artist By Louise Wood Don’t believe me well here’s the proof, step by step how I turned model Bella Dockeral into a lovely after dinner treat: Roller in the fringe or front section Attachment of hair piece hand made by myself with the use of fake hair With straw made from a tree branch and pipe cleaners 26 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com Model’s own hair turned up into a bun With fringe or front section added in So there you have it. If anyone is interested in learning how to make hair pieces like the one shown (they’re incredibly simple and so much fun to play around with) drop me a line and you never know some youtube tutorials might be in the mix I met Kimberley Bale for a Costa coffee and a walk around Dublin town. She is well known among the musical “underground” of Dublin as an Artisan as she has been a walking canvas for over ten years. Kimberley is twenty-six and originally from Ballymun. She attended St. Michael’s Secondary School in Finglas and went on to study Design in Ballyfermot College of Further Education. After several years designing her own clothes and accessories, she moved around to fulfill her dream of becoming a tattoo artist. She then took an apprenticeship as a Piercer in a well known Waterford-based tattoo studio. After several years drawing stunning designs, making clothes, training herself in pyrotechnics, and her piercing work, she decided to move back to Dublin and be taken seriously as a Tattoo Artist. After months of perfecting her crafts, she has taken an apprenticeship in Reinkartated on Parliament Street, Temple Bar, Dublin where she now continues to learn and work as a respected artiste. This humble writer would recommend anyone looking for an intricate design or just a bit of chair-side banter to go to visit Kimberley Bale in the studio. www.reinkarnateddublin.com Jean Paul Gaultier | Spring Glam Rock looks seen on the new season runways By Elenalevd Jean Paul Gaultier | Spring DVF | Runway, Fall 2013 Versace | www.musicreviewunsigned.com 27 3 The Manic Shine Let Go Or Be Dragged Review by - Will Johnstone 28 2 ‘Let Go Or Be Dragged’ is the second album from The Manic Shine: Ozzie Rodgers (Lead Vocal / Guitar), Orren Karp (Backing Vocal / Guitar), Hutch Hutchison (Bass), Tamir Karp (Drums / Backing Vocals). Similar artists: Incubus – Make Yourself, Tool – Lateralus, Rage Against The Machine – Evil Empire, Joe Satriani – Strange Beautiful Music, Isis – Panopticon, Perfect Circle – Thirteenth Step, Audioslave – Out Of Exile. They are a rare combination of extraordinary musicians creating extraordinary music. ‘Let Go Or Be Dragged’ opens with “Tin Crown Kings” slapping you in the face with a fat Rageesque riff rising into a massive wave as the chorus rides high over head. This is a 360 degree dynamic album and the production is incredible with a wide spectrum of intricate detail and powerful soundscaping. The bass element, supplied by Hutch performs like a multitude of other instruments, changing between melodic and percussive styles with an array of effects. Hutch and Tamir make a truly formidable rhythm section, without whom, this band just could not have the same impact. Listening to the track “Weightless” which is a great example of people who know how to use all aspects of their musicianship and natural talents to create intellectually stimulating music that flows like aural gold into the open hungry ears of a nation starved of real music. I would akin Hutch and Tamir to a younger version of Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey of Tool. This I know is a rather bold statement, however, thinking back to Tool in their infancy, they were not nearly as developed as these guys in comparison and I believe that what these guys have is “Gravity“. They are magnetically bonded musically to the point of telepathy. Another pair of telepaths are Ozzie and Orren, to explain the sound these guys fire out like a Star Wars lazer battle, how about an amalgam of Joe Satriani’s best rockin lead work, Tom Morello’s drop tuned whammy pedaling funk style, Adam Jones’ darkness, Jimi Hendrix’s persona, Ritchie Blackmore’s pinky finger, and Russian Circles’ effects rig. Being the main vocalist and focal point of the bands live act, Ozzie is an absolute powerhouse of talent that surges out of him as he moshes in perfect synchronism with the full band while flawlessly hammering out riff after riff, and firing off into flailing technical wizardry. My personal favourite track “Libra” has such a well balanced crescendo that builds throughout the length of the song in various ways building up into power while www.musicreviewunsigned.com maintaining a mellow vibe and has a real hook to it. I think it stands out because it is quiet for the most part, whereas a lot of the other tracks are really loud and have a surging energy riddled through complex structures. Tin Crown Kings was a perfect opening track for the album and ideal for a single and video. It offers a summarized version of what the album sets out to achieve, and you can find that on The Manic Shine’s YouTube channel. The wild array of melodies that fire out of this record is intense to put it very lightly. This is quite literally the album of 2013. If you like to be wow’d by showmanship, musicianship, and sheer unadulterated talent then buy this album coz it is going to blow your mind. “Surging depths of energy in a garden of harmony” www.facebook.com/themanicshine The Last Monroes Grunge Rising From Wicklow Review by Ciara Mooney The Last Monroes are a three piece band hailing from County Wicklow. Made up of Simon Quinn (Guitar and Vocals) , Dan Thompson (Bass) and Konrad Sheane (Drums) ; The Last Monroes have a definite grunge sound, drawing influence from bands like Nirvana and channeling the likes of Mudhoney and The Black Keys. The bands four-track EP was released on March 1st. DEAD IN THE WATER: The first track on the EP begins with a classic rock and roll riff however, when the vocals are introduced, so is a softer sound – The Strokes meets Nirvana. DIRT n’ GLASS: The second track begins with a definite rock and roll/bluesy sound and that is sustained throughout. Heavy base lines and Audioslave- esque vocals. DEVIL’s GIRL: The third track is probably the most typically rock and roll. It’s made up of dirty guitars and grimey lyrics. Incredibly catchy. 30 PIECES OF SILVER: The last track on the album returns to that grunge/bluesy sound. Loud guitars and grungy vocals – distorted, but in tune. The trio have just finished recording their EP in their hometown and are currently focusing on promoting it by gigging around Dublin. These lads can be found in music hubs such as Sweeney’s on Dame St, so if you ever find yourself in the City Center, craving a cold beer and some good music, check out the bands Facebook page to find out where they’re playing next. www.facebook.com/TheLastMonroes A Course of Action ::: ‘Dark before the Dawn’ Review by James Glynn Fast, loud, and full of energy, ‘Dark Before the Dawn‘ is the recently released debut feature-length album from American rockers ‘A Course of Action‘, that despite a punching early introduction, doesn’t quite give the listener enough bang for their buck. Although the North Carolina 4-piece can’t be faulted for the high tempo, cut and thrust nature of their hook-heavy 9 tracker, the record as a whole suffers from a worrying the lack of imagination. With a middle-of-the-roads heavy rock sound based around steadily escalating rhythms, catchy guitar riffs, power chords and solos, the band lack the raw energy of thrash or heavy metal, instead adopting more of a rock-by-numbers sound, very heavily influenced by bands like Tool or Deftones, but without any added originality. Quite simply it’s nothing you wouldn’t have heard before and while the band’s instrumental talents and ability to get the crowd going is undeniable, once the energy of the record fades, (sometime after track 3), so too does any interest in the band, with a painful uniformity creeping in. Front-man Jonathan Byrd’s vocal echos about a dozen others from within the genre past and present, failing to display any significant range or definitive character, while the lack of a cutting edge is wholly evident throughout. Although there’s no real surprises on offer, there are a couple of decent tracks on the album that display enough raw energy to keep the listener sufficiently invigorated. ‘Tell Me Why‘ and ‘See You Again‘ are both effective rock tunes that forcefully introduce the listener to the band’s vigorous sound, ‘Shadow‘ is an interesting, noticeably darker more down-beat number, while ‘Never There‘, with its catchy, accelerated guitar rhythm, is one of the stand out tracks and is definite release material. Well composed, and often very lively, ‘Dark Before the Dawn’ is certainly not a bad listen and will no doubt appeal to a sizable demographic of rock fans, but A Course of Action’s raw energetic appeal is ultimately let down by a notable dearth of ingenuity and direction, with the band seemingly happy to cater solely to there already established fan base. By no means the worst rock record you’ll hear this year, but one that’s altogether lacking in substance nonetheless. www.facebook.com/acourseofaction ArtClassSink Time To Go (Before the Rivalry) Review by Robert Morrissey ArtClassSink are a four piece band from Oxford, England. The indie rockers first single ‘Time To Go (Before the Rivalry)’ from their recently recorded debut EP is very promising. Sounding like Foals mixed with The Smiths or The Cure, ArtClassSink have certainly found something in this single. The single is thunderous, atmospheric rock with vocals you would expect to hear on a record by The Smiths. It has got that punch and catch which makes you listen again and again. The band have supported acts like We Are Augustines and This Town Needs Guns. Not to mention the fact they have also been picked up by BBC Introducing’s radar in terms of fresh new music. Hailing from the same town as Radiohead and Foals, ArtClassSink’s single is certainly like something both of those bands would produce, but with their own mark on it. It wouldn’t surprise me if these guys ended up on the new music stage at a festival like Reading and Leeds this summer. But I guess for now, we will have to wait and see. Download ArtClassSink’s debut single ‘Time To Go (Before the Rivalry)’ on Bandcamp. Find out more about ArtClassSink and upcoming gigs at www.facebook.com/artclasssink www.musicreviewunsigned.com 29 Black Rebel The Vincents Motorcycle Club Asked Her To Dance Review by Sam Geaney Specter at the Feast Review by Leon Byrne It’s always good to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club releasing new material. “Specter at the Feast” is the Los Angeles based 3 piece’s seventh album and is released on bands own label Abstract Dragon. Regular fans of BRMC will not be disappointed. This is definitely a step up from the rather bland 2010 effort “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”. (By the way, in case anyone in wondering, BRMC’s fifth album was a completely instrumental affair called “The Effects of 333”. It was available as a digital download only back in late 2008). The band has had their fair share of changes since the release of their self titled debut album in 2001. Although guitarist Peter Hayes and bassist Robert Leven Been have been a constant in the band the original drummer Nick Jago was replaced in mid 2008 by The Raveonettes touring drummer Leah Shapiro and she is definitely a hardhitter going by their recent gig in Dublin’s Academy. “Specter at the Feast” opens with the slow burning yet typical BRMC song “Fire Walker” before the opening chords of lead single “Let the Day Begin” kick in. This song is a cover by a band called The Call. Robert Leven Been’s Father Michael Been played with The Call and as he died backstage at a BRMC gig in Belgium in 2010 the band decided it would be good to cover the band. It’s a cracking song that I’m sure Michael would be happy with. There are some slower, more acoustic tracks here like “Lullaby” and “Some Kind of Ghost” which take off from where their acoustic album “Howl” left off. “Sometime the Light” is a scuzzy, echoed interlude type song, breaking the album up somewhat, before it’s back to BRMC basics on “Funny Games” and “Sell It”. Leah Shapiro certainly brings a woman’s touch to some of the more melodic songs on “Specter at the Feast” like the excellent “Returning” and the album’s epic closer “Lose Yourself”. Other than “Returning” there is nothing too spectacular here but it’s always great to hear new tunes from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. www.facebook.com/BRMCOfficial 30 www.musicreviewunsigned.com The Vincent(s) are a recently formed Leeside, Cork based alt rock group. Their debut single “Asked Her To Dance” is a bluesy track with a lot of kick. Many influences can be heard on the track which is akin to the Black Keys and the Raconteurs. It is a dark track with a driving guitar and bass line. The heavy guitar and simultaneous drums give the start of the track a strong kick and throughout the song when this recurs. The break from this sound changes the track up nicely with the low guitar line. The change again in tempo and style in the higher chorus mixes the track up nicely. The vocal line, which sounds like it really stretches to the height of the singer’s register, has beautiful tone. The stretch would usually be a negative but it is pulled off excellently in this case. The track does not have as much depth as it possibly could and sounds very like it goes from one thing to the other then back then back again and so on. The end is also a weak one as it leaves the listener expecting more. An artist does want to leave the listener wanting more but they do not want to leave the listener expecting more as this leads to disappointment. In saying this, “Asked Her To Dance” is still a very strong track, one which would not sound amiss on the likes of Phantom 105.2 or Radio Nova. With many tour dates already booked, the Vincent(s) look set for big things in 2013. www.facebook.com/thevincentsindrag Andrea Ianni ::: “LikeWise” Review by Leon Byrne Just like the name of the record label “Italians do it better” and it’s definitely not for the want of trying anyway with Andrea Ianni. Andrea was born in the Italian capital of Rome before moving to Milan where he grew up. In 2007 he moved to London to boost his musical career. He spends his time busking on the streets five days a week so. Andrea sees this as his day job and the best way to make a living. Musically he’s all about the heavier side of things. His debut album “LikeWise” is a rich blend of grunge and heavy metal. The album opens with the metal overtones of “Strawberry Girl” and the post rock intro of “Jackals.” The vocals throughout “LikeWise” sound like a cross between Faith No More’s Mike Patton and Andy Cairns from Northern Irish rockers’ Therapy? It’s not all metal though as there are some acoustic guitar sounds thrown in too as on “Strange Words” and the every so politely titled “Fucking Around.” The latter is a short 3 min interlude and sounds like The Dandy Warhols’ song “Godless” from their 2000 album “Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia.” There are also some whispered vocal effects on “Widows” which also give a nice break from the norm. Good to see Andrea Ianni branching out a little. There is a quotation from Spartacus at the start of the video for an album highlight “King of Prisoners.” It says “I know that, as long as we live, we must remain true to ourselves.” Let’s hope that Andrea gets the break that “LikeWise” deserves. www.soundcloud.com/andreaiannihere Hitchcock Blonde Five Pounds Jointpop Review by David Beech Review by Will Johnstone Five Pounds is the name of Hitchcock Blonde’s latest development of weaponry in their arsenal cache of ammunition in the war on pop. With a really meaty and colourful array of eclectically buzzed up new wave alternative rock reminiscent of Skunk Anansie, Hole, Alanis Morissette and Swerve Driver at the height of their careers. They have waves of mellowed out beautifully toneful melodies, harmonized vocals, and lead guitar that offer a blended hint of possibly the Cranberries in places, while the lead guitar reminds me a little of Dave Bryson of Counting Crows. With all this in mind, they do not sound like carbon copies of those musicians, but merely have an influential hint of some of those musicians’ songs. Hitchcock Blonde are as stimulatingly fresh as losing your virginity all over again, with a reference here to the last song of the EP “Animal” after a Courtney Love style assault in your face, it winds and fades in an enchantingly post-orgasmic come down, leaving you in a state of blissful abandon until the addiction kicks in and your itchy trigger finger starts hovering over the repeat from the start button. It’s rare to hear such a finely polished and well balanced act with such an overwhelming control over a contemporary art form with an alternative twist like this who are still on the underground circuit. I am truly blessed for being granted the chance to review such an epic band. This is a band that could drop into the charts and do amazing without ever selling out commercially. I could see them with a high status, but still have that underground flavour that gives such a perfect edge to work their way into the industry and carve themselves a nice deep niche. “Baby Knows Best” is my absolute favourite track out of all of their songs, and definitely the perfect choice for first track. It introduces you to everything that is great about Hitchcock Blonde. The song starts out melodically alluring with a quiet mesmerizing guitar riff. Pulling you in, it then throws a wall of chordal bliss right in your face that just screams turn me up!!! This track is like Foo Fighters and Skunk Anansie having a baby! Hitchcock Blonde have a stirring sense of genius, perfect harmonies, and a wild out-there attitude. A professional component that is truly required for any band looking to get signed is this level of musicianship. Theirs is of a standard you would expect from a world famous signed band on a major label. Really well written structures and well conceived dynamics it hasn’t been over complicated but has enough technical creativity to latch onto the minds of their peers in the music world. You can’t help but fall in love with Ella’s voice and Drew’s addictive guitar lines. Joss and Ben create a solid rhythm section with a real hold on the structural foundation of the band without whom, it just would not be of the same quality. That driving force pushes the guitars and vocals like crowd surfers. Without the crowd, you would be writhing on the floor with people standing around wondering what you are doing. These guys go together like the sun and blue sky. “Beautifully aggressive & majestically magnetic” www.facebook.com/hitchcockblonde Formed in Trinidad & Tobago in 1996, Santa Cruz’s Jointpop are experienced hands in the music game. They merge a multitude of different influence to forge their very own blend of weed enthused melodic, classic rock. The bands Facebook page describes them as sounding like “The Clash being molested by The Beatles while smokin’ with Bob Marley” and this is a pretty fair description of their music. New single ‘Superapple‘ sounds like Queen if they were playing covers of The Beatles. A jazzy piano carries the introduction forward in to a sleazy verse which in turn gives way to a further piano-driven chorus. Gary Hector’s vocals are suitably lazy throughout the verses, unsurprising given their penchant for the green stuff, however, the verses see his vocals soar to dizzying heights that Lennon would be proud of. A particularly Queen-esque breakdown forms the basis for the crisp and crunchy guitar solo that finds itself layered over the top. It’s difficult to talk about this song as a singular entity, it’s almost as if it’s broken down in to 3 seperate acts, each inspired by a different band or genre. That doesn’t mean to say the song feels erratic or disjointed; quite the opposite. In fact, each transition between the parts is so smooth it’s only noticeable after several listens, a sure fire sign of the both the commitment and the talent that’s gone in to the recording of ‘Superapple‘. The lyricism of the track won’t break any boundaries. But it doesn’t matter when the music is as spot on as it is here. Quite often bands try to emulate the sound of their influences down to a tee, and in the process lose any sense of self or autonomy that they once harboured; that isn’t the case with Jointpop. What they’ve done here is let us know, really quite brilliantly, who their influences are, all the while still managing maintain their own distinct feel throughout. Something diverse and different and a perfect soundtrack to Summer. www.facebook.com/jointpop www.musicreviewunsigned.com 31 Crucial Domination Review by James Glynn Another up and coming British rock group looking to make it big in 2013, Crucial Domination are a Derby-based foursome who’s style of atmospheric light metal with punk crossovers could prove to be a big hit given some fine-tuning. Showcasing four original tracks on their MySpace page, the band have found an interesting signature sound, striking a balance between 80′s metal and garage rock, propped up by some energetic guitar solos and a suitably wailing vocal lead. The variety is measured but nonetheless apparent, with the post-punk influences evident in tracks like ‘Paranoia‘ and ‘Save Me‘, (with their somber almost identical bass lines), with some other more anthemic conventions of 80s metal explored in the rousing crowd-pleaser ‘War‘ and the punkish, provocative ‘No Way‘. The band do have a tendency to get carried away with their own instrumental talents at times, while front woman Linda Love’s highly affected, Siouxsie Sioux-derived vocal remains somewhat unpolished, but all things considered, Crucial Domination are something of a rough diamond who will no doubt look to correct any possible failings prior to the recording of their debut EP. Dark and dramatic in equal measure, with a forceful arrogance to add to their intrigue, Crucial Domination, although not quite the finished article yet, could have a very big year indeed. www.soundcloud.com/crucial-domination The Calefaction ::: Whales Part Two: Tomorrowlands Review by David Jordan This is a powerful, eclectic, guitar oriented album which clearly a lot of work has gone in to. At times the music sounds like Coldplay in their more stadium rock moments. At others, the intricate guitar riffs recall Metallica. In its more intense moments it is like Linkin Park and the energetic parts sound like Sum 41 and Blink 182. It’s all delivered with formidable musicianship and song craftsmanship. There is never a dull moment on the album – there are no fillers and it sounds as professional as you can get. This album shows quality and caliber all the way through. It sounds as accomplished as any band selling their wares on MTV. It has the confidence and verve of a band that knows how good it is and for whom everything fits together into place. The only negative issue is the lack of two or three really outstanding songs to drive the album home. The album has its share of big choruses but they don’t really grab you the way the outstanding tracks from a Coldplay album do. Listening to the album, you feel that the band is capable of achieving this. It may be a platitude but The Calefaction really is a band to look out for. If they can go up into a higher gear with their song writing they may go far. They certainly deserve to. Dying Embers ::: At War With The Eskimos News Editor: Feargal Daly Following the demise of your band is always a tough pill to swallow. After all, you’ve invested countless hours investing personal and professional sacrifice into an art form so easily scrutinized on public display. So it was that the eventual end of Your Arch Enemies in 2009 would leave Dara Ryder searching for his next musical venture. Cut forward to four years later and we see the release of Ryder’s latest outing – Dying Embers – and debut album ‘At War With The Eskimos’. While it’s admittedly easy to compare an artist against the works of their past, it certainly feels a necessary and just angle in this case to really explore the characteristics within. ‘At War With The Eskimos’ feels like a glimpse into the last four years of Dara’s life. Even if it’s not the intention behind the album it very much fits into that Irish writer persona amongst the great panorama of artists this country has produced. Easily brushed off as self-indulgent by the ignorant, the album encapsulates the great attributes of Irish writers – the laments, the heartache and the perseverance through an identity crisis. From the opening piano chords of ‘Cold Heart’ our sense are immediately thrown into what feels like a heavy journey. The soaring strings and vocal accompaniment on early track ‘The Light Switch’ with that beautiful faint beeps that crop up every now and again absolutely tugs at the heartstrings. Followed with the similarly minimal yet equally powerful delivery performed in ‘We Wait In Vain’ and ‘Jody Rolled The Bones’ ensures that the best is heard throughout and trumps the trends of the best saved for the first half of an album. It’s not all so sombre an affair however, as the bouncy ‘Ode To Shiny Pictures’ and the up tempo ‘ICU Song’ (name notwithstanding) will be sure to mix up what will undoubtedly be some very dynamic performances when Dying Embers take to the stage. Certainly a complete 180 turn from what we may have come to expect, this is very much a mature offering. This doesn’t sound like a debut but an established band throughout and while Dara Ryder is no stranger to the music scene this is certainly a fresh start and an impressive one too. Instantly direct in nature, there’s depth to be found here if you search for it. Repeated listens have you engaged for all different reasons, whether it’s a little bell or whistle that caught your attention on a second listen to suddenly be heightened by those wonderful slight melodic progressions found on the fourth playthrough. This unexpected longevity will help Dying Embers to be that rare staple on the scene; a lasting relevance so readily lacked by many emerging artists. www.dyingembers.net 32 2 www.musicreviewunsigned.com The Ourz ::: Dirty Tracks Hopeful Monster Beautiful Island Review by Robert Morrissey Canadian Rock Pop band Hopeful Monster and their latest offering Beautiful Island is a spectrum of colourful and dark songs. The band are back with third album Beautiful Island, which is set for release this March. Following the success of the re-released Metatasking through Goosebury Records. Which included tracks from both the original Halifax based band members, as well as tracks recorded in Toronto with Jose and Gavin and members of The Wilderness and The Hylozoists. Hopeful Monster have certainly grown on their new record, but still keeping their style. Songs such as ‘Mama Lama’ and ‘Body Arithmetic’ are reminiscent of Ben Folds Five, while the fifth track ‘No Alibi’ shifts more towards a track you would hear on a Eels record. By now, the mixture of slow folk pop and megaphone rock is evident in this record. The album slows down again after that. We then begin to enter a melomcholic state with a track like ‘Angel Spies’. Track’s ‘A Foot In The Dream’ and ‘Ilha Formosa’ are pretty tame, but track 10 ‘The End Of Road’ is one of the albums best, sounding majestic with its orchestral arrangment and harmonies. Overall the album is a good effort by Jason Ball and co. There is also a free download of their first single and video ‘Body Arithmetic’ available to fans. Find out more about Hopeful Monster at www.hopefulmonster.ca Review by Cian Walsh Playing as if spandex and mullets never went out of fashion, 80’s enthusiast The Ourz are a hard rock outfit from Balbriggan, Dublin. Taking their cue from Guns N Roses and Aerosmith their debut album “Dirty Tracks” is 50 minutes of crunching riffs, sleazy guitar solos, histrionic vocals and innuendo laden lyrics. The album kicks off with “Couldn’t Believe It”, a dark almost gothic sounding number that is reminiscent of The Cult. It’s a strange opener because it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the album. Nevertheless it’s a strong start that showcases the band as accomplished musicians. “Midnight Friend” and “Your Time Will Come” are more typical of The Ourz ‘sound’that being beer drenched, fist pumping blues. Vocalist Gerard Smith does his best Steven Tyler impression while the riffs and licks are straight out of The Guns and Roses songbook. While neither tune is ground breaking both are fun, raunchy and full of swagger. Up next is “Summer Rain”, a slower number with a Thin Lizzy-esque verse and a chorus that is reminiscent of Nickelbacks’ Rockstar. “Crying Eyes” follows suit, again the band opt for a mid-paced plod. This one veers dangerously close to sounding like Bon Jovi but the excellent musicianship and vocals save it from such discomfiture. At this point on the album the feeling of déjà vu begins to set in as there’s very little to distinguish “You Not Me” and “Last Chance” from what’s gone before. While neither song is a complete dud both can be filed under filler. “Attack” is a welcome change of pace, the band really upping the tempo on this slightly disjointed punk number. “Take Me Down” sees a return to the blues orientated rock that dominated the first half of the album. Pilfering Guns N Roses’ back catalogue again for guitar licks and riffs the band really do exude the excessiveness and bluster of 1980’s guitar music. “Now or Never” is the first out and out ballad on the album. This falls into the same trap as most classic rock ballads- in that it ends up coming across as being far too overblown and pretentious. “Virtue” is another Guns and Roses imitation although a very good and enjoyable one. Very similar sounding to G’N’R’s Out To Get Me- this is one of the stronger tracks. “Nasty Conscience” is better still, a call and respond style rock anthem, this is bawdy and brash in equal measures The album closes with “If You Only Knew”- a ballad which borrows generously from Tom Petty. The band adapt well to playing in a different style, sounding at home on this neocountry number. At 13 songs this album could do with some quality control. None of the tracks are awful but the lack of variety really sticks outs. The other glaring problem is that the music is horribly dated- didn’t grunge kill all this? On the flip side, there are a lot of positives to be taken, the musicianship on show is next to none and the singer possesses a great voice for this type of music. The production is also very professional- there’s a degree of slickness to the record that you don’t generally get from unsigned bands. A solid album but one that will divide opinions- if Radio Nova is your station of choice then this is certainly your ticket but if you’re looking for something more modern and cutting edge I’d avoid. www.facebook.com/theourz www.musicreviewunsigned.com 33 Kafanha ::: Crystal Window Review by Cian Walsh Bovine The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire Review by Dom Beale Kafanha is the moniker of James Kelly and Karl Keelan- an electronic folk duo from Thurles. Their debut album “Crystal Windows” was released last summer, the end product of two years of work. 8 tracks in length it is as experimental and innovative an album you will hear. Album opener “Kafanha” encompasses solemn acoustic guitar merged with eccentric electronic beats. The mix of folk and electro works surprisingly well, the acoustic guitar reminiscent of The Coral, while the trippy blurred electronic beats brings to mind Radiohead Kid A era. The vocals are the real highlight, the singers gravelly rasp lies somewhere in between Tom Waits and Mark Lanegan- it’s truly a fantastic voice. “Wanzie” is equally uncompromising- a collage of different instruments all vying for attention. It’s most certainly not easy listening but it has an unusual charm. “Sept Piece (two good for an encore)” is a bluesy number. It’s got a raw ethereal soundnot surprising given it was recorded in a bedroom. The addition of strings towards the end of the song takes a little edge off the abrasiveness but this is an unsettling listen. “DEfrost Meltdown” is even weirder still. The vocals are bizarre- think of Mike Patton of Faith No More at his most off the wall. Musically they adopt an ‘everything but the kitchen sink approach’, there’s so much going on its impossible to describe, it sounds great though, everything combining to create a crescendo of noise. 34 www.musicreviewunsigned.com “Ebb and Flow” and “Oddest Modest Goddess” both have a Josh Homme Desert Sessions vibe. “Ebb and Flow” is built on a dirty blues riff. The traditional structure lasts about 60 seconds before the song breaks out into a trippy free form jam. The vocalists work in tandem to create a sense of paranoia. “Oddest Modest Goddess” is more country sounding beginning with a jangly intro. It’s not long before we break out in a psychedelic freak out though. Again the whispered vocals add a feeling of unhinged deliria. “Fungi Kazooie” is as peculiar as it sounds; it’s like something you’d hear in a David Lynch film- Yes it’s that strange! “Las PT” is more structured than the previous tracks, the closest thing the band have to a ‘traditional’ song. The acoustic verse has shades of Big Star while the explosive chorus incorporates more electronic elements. Leaving the best until last this is the strongest. Chaotic at times, Kafanha discard the conventional methods of how a song should sound at the door. The band do not subscribed to the notion that songs should run as verse/chorus/verse. This is DIY music made free of the constraints of trying to sound hip or cool. Easy listening it is not- it’s absorbing and at times exhausting but given time it’s well worth the effort. An album that could easily have been a complete mess but in the hands of these two artists it is anything but. A fantastic debut. www.kafanha.bandcamp.com/album/crystal-window There’s a lot to expect from a band who’s first gig was supporting America’s metal titans Baroness on their latest UK tour in July, off the back of one song. I was fortunate to be at this show just to experience the true power that Birmingham’s own could provide. The eagerly anticipated album The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire was released independently shortly after. Once you’ve heard it before, their LA Drone style intro of Barium has little to no effect, before blasting into first single Ghost Chair. A powerful track, with a Kyuss style riff and a lovechild vocal offering of Josh Homme, Kurt Cobain and a drunken Chris Cornell. Subsequent tracks Thank Fuck I Ain’t You and Heroes Are What show the opinionated political side to this (at the time) three-piece. They are very much similar in the melodic riffs, smashing drums, and in my opinion perfect balance of melodic to more than unclean vocals, with some clever post studio production adding that final pinch of salt. The former of the pair being my personal favourite track on the album. Title track The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire has a running theme of Foo Fighters, with low points not far from Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug and spanning to a softer evening Metallica and Iron Maiden. It’s only fair to say that this track in all it’s beauty does grow old and drag on after it’s offered all it can. Here stands a binned Queens of the Stone Age track with an element of mystery if I ever did hear one. Then Bovine do what they do best and bring back the heavy. The Battle of the Sinkhole is chaotic and screams Territorial Pissings right at me. An acoustic interlude of Aneugenic doesn’t do a lot but prepare you for I Will Make You Real. Probably the most experimental track on the album, it offers all the energy you’d expect at an At The DriveIn concert with impressive use of pedals. In penultimate track and single Military Wife, it’s clear this is the collection of all the genres I’ve seen dotted around for them, ghetto, sludge, metal, post-hardcore, a beautiful fusion of sounds to help round off the album alongside the messier Not Another Name. It’s a fantastic release showing how the new waves from Birmingham can give the originators of metal a run for their money. www.facebook.com/bovinemusic Division Unlimited Madame So A Place Between the Ocean and the Stars Review by David Jordan Division Unlimited is the brain child of Floridian, Dacian Miron, ‘brain’ being the operative word as this is clearly an emo band with intelligence. It’s rare when a song captures you with its lyrics before the music and ‘A Place Between the Ocean and the Stars’ is one such song. The lyrics require thought to get at their meaning, that’s if they have any meaning. You get the feeling that the lyrics were written after the music and in such songs meaning is subordinate to sound but this doesn’t take away from their intelligence: there is an interplay between intellect and emotion. It is unusual for such a young artist to deliver lyrics of this quality. It ain’t Bob Dylan but it shows much promise. In the video for this single, Dacian exudes confidence and displays unstoppable energy. This comes through in the music which will find a place in your head in no time. If music can be measured by how catchy it is then this track is well above average. This is a band on the way up. If they can continue to deliver the goods musically and Miron can hone his lyrics, Division Unlimited might find their place on MTV. Watch out for an album at the end of march and more videos. www.facebook.com/divisionunlimited W.A.S.A.B.I Review by Kevin Carney French band W.A.S.A.B.I. (We Are Savage And Badly Infected) mix hard rock with electronica, having been influenced by modern alternative bands like Enter Shikari, Lostprophets and Billy Talent. Opening song Savage Is Our Name introduces us to the band’s sound, with the contrasting sounds of soft keyboards with heavy guitars. The vocals differ with a melodic Gwen Stefani-esque female voice meeting a hardcore male growl. It’s energetic riffs and huge chorus make it a great way The Sell By Date EP Review by Ryan Platts “There is nothing new under the sun” could perhaps be a fitting mantra for these twilight days of rock’n’roll. I certainly believed that once. Nothing to see here, just the aftermath of a particularly grisly murder, move on to your nearest silent disco. I was wrong. My brand-new perspective is that newness is not what we should be focusing on. Anything “new” that ever was is just putting a different shade of lipstick on a stubbornly aging hog anyway. The trick is finding a shade that reveals you. This EP by “music writer” turned musician Madame So shows signs of getting there. The blurb points to Hole, Blondie and Patti Smith as influences, and that’s accurate: perky forward motion, vocals simultaneously nonchalant and committed, and worked-on lyrics are the order of the day. The band cooks up a brew that’s got enough of a kick to avoid sounding derivative, helped by a production mercifully lacking the bells and whistles often used to mask what should be front and centre – you’ll find no dreamy reverb swathes here, no extra instrumentation filling up every available space, and not much overdubbing to speak of. That’s a smart move, there’s few things worse than a great performance ruined or obscured by overproduction, except for a poor performance hidden and sheltered by same, and at the very least it shows gumption. Variation is achieved not by stylistic eclecticism but by shifts in tempo and dynamics, which reinforce the notion that the band knows its strengths and sticks with them. I’m not convinced that genre to kick off the album. Next track WebZone is a fast-paced punk song with a keyboard riff that will get listeners moving. The gang vocal on the verses elevates the song’s energy, with the softer female voice showing another side to the song. 7Deadly is the EP’s heaviest song, with a crushing riff and a Rage Against the Machine style rap on the verses. The power rock chorus continues to showcase the band’s ability to make a multi-faceted song. gymnastics is a fruitful game anyway, so it’s not a cause for complaint. These players ignore the current tendency towards ineffectual U2-grandfathered lead lines and plodding arrangements in favour of a meaty backbeat-driven stomp. The title track is the musical standout, a taut stalking creation, a two-chord riff used judiciously. “Dig Deeper” with its melodic, midtempo sway varies proceedings just the right amount. As for matters lyrical, it’s clear from the very first track that So knows her way around a couplet. That’s not to say the words are perfect. There are occasional verses that show signs of being overworked (“Don’t even try to save face/By removing any trace/Of your very own disgrace”), and there’s a fondness for rather academic language recalling Leonard Cohen at his least effective. “Camden Scene” goes for spiky scenecasualty commentary but flounders when it labours the point. So hits the mark when she’s writing about a character, as the unforced insight and endearing detail of “Shiner On” demonstrate. A genuinely affecting look at a girl mixed up in a downward spiral, it’s concise, witty and compassionate. As far as future directions go, my money is on this final song to lead the way. Time, as always, will tell. www.facebook.com/madamesomusic Lost Souls gives us a taste of the bands accessibility, with a sound that can get a crowd moving, be it on a dance floor or a mosh pit. Album closer Angel does not add anything new, and it’s absence would not have lessened the album’s ability to impact a listener. With a solid mix of heavy rock, electronica and melodic singing, W.A.S.A.B.I. should have no problem getting any crowd on their feet. www.facebook.com/wearesavageofficial www.musicreviewunsigned.com 35 MAUD ::: The Navigation Review by Siobhan Mason Death in Texas Fear of the Hundred Single Review Review by James Glynn Having never actually heard of “organic electropop” I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but very quickly I learnt that this genre of music is based around the instruments and the different sounds each make and how they are merged together. The North London trio, come from very different backgrounds, Maud Waret is the front lady on vocals and also plays violin, while her band mates Nikolaj Bjerre is the percussionist and Philippe Locke plays keyboards and both guitar and bass. Beginning with Latitude, the song starts off with a classical taster of violin, but quickly changes with the introduction of bass, while Maud vocals begin to float over the instrument’s sounds. The song creates a modern classical feel with a dreamy feature to it, due to the various instruments the band mates play. Maud’s vocals reminds me of a less dramatic Florence and The Machine tune, with a clear and obvious tropical influence from her background, which is portrayed through her lyrics and music. The EP then continues on to one of the most honest songs I’ve ever heard, Deep Blue. A hollow piano and haunting beautiful vocal are the main sounds sounds in this song, but it is all it needs. Due to the Maud memorable vocals moves the listener into dreamland. I would recommend this song to anyone looking to relax, this song should be on every spa’s playlist. Stressful day: hot bath, candles and Deep Blue playing in background will have you drifting away for sure. In the third installment of the EP, is Seule, clearly the most unique sound on the track. The song is sang in French, which gives me the piece of cultural for the day. When translated to English the title of the song is “Alone“, which is so appropriate as this song stands out Alone from all the other tracks especially in terms of diversity. The gloomy piano sounds runs underneath the monotone 36 www.musicreviewunsigned.com tune. The song has an upsurge of sound, which with some guitar has get potential for a live show. I highly enjoyed this song, even though my level of french is shockingly bad!! Finally on to my favourite song of the EP, Limbo. This song is 100% more cheerful, with a surprisingly retro-pop feel to the melody. this is an awesome feel good song, this is a song that should be booming from every bar on a Friday night!! In comparison to their other tracks, Limbo is the song that says MAUD has landed, it is the kickass track to their other literal and nice songs. The strong drum and electronic burst makes the song exciting and fresh, while they still hold their unique style throughout the entire record. this is the only song that will have you up dancing and having a good time!! I love this track.. The final track of the record is Lady Day, a chill-out pop song with a classic element to it. The song has a retro feel to it, while Maud hold on to the electropop genre also. To my surprise Lady Day is very stripped back, with hardly any music, the effortless acoustic guitar, keeps it extremely simple. Maud is a band that clearly likes to use many different instruments, but I think it was a good choice to keep is stripped back and highlight the vocals and lyrics, this highlights what great songwriters they are. The Navigation is a great start from MAUD, who embrace every bit of their uniqueness. they have buckets loads of talent, in vocalists, instrumentalists and songwriters. However their music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, their sheer talent cannot be argued. I will be keeping my ears glued to airwaves to hear some new material, because when you hear MAUD vocals you can’t help but sit up and take notice. And plus they have some killer tunes. www.facebook.com/MaudThenavigation ‘Fear of the Hundred‘ is the latest single release by London progressive pop group Death in Texas. Their first notable activity since their debut 4-track EP ’We Will Implode‘ in 2011, the band have adopted a slightly more ambitious approach with this almost gothic-sounding new single. Highly theatrical in nature with a dark essence of drama throughout ’Fear of the Hundred’ is a song that possesses mysterious, even otherworldly qualities. Based around an emphasised, often dramatic lead vocal complemented by some atmospheric instrumental backing including a grunge-like rhythm and bass line with intermittent piano chords, it is a song that certainly stands out in form and content. However, a somewhat confused composition leading to an often fragmented sound gives off the impression that the band seem to be trying too much in too short a time, ultimately detracting away from what is a supremely intriguing and highly original pop tune. Besides this though, full credit must be given to Death in Texas for the bold approach they’ve taken in developing a dramatic, refreshing new sound, one which they will hopefully continue to pursue to perfection in later work. www.facebook.com/deathintexas Amanda Agnew – ‘Angel’ Review by James Glynn Upbeat country western-inspired acoustic pop would be the best way to describe ‘Angel’, the latest single release from young Bangor singer-songwriter Amanda Agnew. Successfully targeting what has become a ubiquitous popular market of late, Amanda is likely to add her name to a list of new, upcoming singers in the genre with this catchy, affable new melody, that ultimately favours charm over identifiable substance. With a sugar-coated vocal style, not too dissimilar to the likes of Gemma Hayes, backed up by a simple, familiar acoustic rhythm, the song has all the ingredients to be a hit in the contemporary country charts. Content wise though its noticeably lacking with some predictably naive lyrics and is deficient of any real stand out quality that would set it apart from what is becoming a painfully banal genre. Admittedly well composed with a somewhat endearing quality to it but ultimately lacking in originality and overall verve, ‘Angel’ is a track that will probably do well, but likely for the wrong reasons. www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Agnew/195619280497157 Venture Promotions Venture Promotions are an Irish home-grown Dublin based promotions and tour management agency. Specialising in both Irish and international acts, Venture pride themselves on being a base of support and contact for bands. Aiming to provide bands with as much support and media coverage as possible, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is arriving on time and playing your show! APRIL EVENT LINEUP: INBRED IRISH TOUR with Negativ Result (Galway)/Eyes See Blind (Belfast)/Awaken Dominion (Dublin) Wednesday April 10th Sally Longs GalwayDoors 8pm INBRED IRISH TOUR with Death of a Salesman/We Collide/By Any Means/All The Kings Ashes Thursday April 11th Voodoo Belfast Doors 8pm INBRED IRISH TOUR with New Age Extinction/Aesect/Awaken Dominion Friday April 12th Fibbers, Parnell Street (downstairs) Dublin Doors 9pm Cover €7 KASPER ROSA with Stop All The Clocks/Facing/OtherkinFriday April 12th Fibbers, Parnell Street DublinDoors 8pmCover €7 INBRED IRISH TOUR with New Age Extinction/Arise The Fallen/Negativ Result Saturday April 13th Fred Zepplins Cork Doors 8pm www.facebook.com/venturepresents Contact & Booking forAgency + Tour Management. Venture Promotions, The Button Factory, Curved St., Temple Bar, Dublin 2.Phone: 0851523778Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.musicreviewunsigned.com 37 Cove Review by Karin Carthy Hailing from Tipperary in Ireland, it is hard to put Cove into a genre. Gun to my head, I’d say alternative or indie, with an emphasis on electronics and synth. They’ve just released a five track EP. The first instinctual comparison I made upon hearing Slow City was similar to Passion Pit, but as the song progressed it also reminded me of Crystal Castles; although it’s not as hard on the ears as Alice’s screeching. There’s a great use of synth in this track, and it’s a wonderful example of what’s to come. Silhouettes is a slower number, although with no less power. The electronic effects are superb, and continue into Killing Joke, which picks up the pace a little in comparison – although it does meander a bit. Health starts off slowly and takes a long time to build, but if you wait it out it eventually explodes in to a wonderful chorus of guitar riffs and electronics – definitely my favourite track on this EP, although some people could write it off after a minute or two. Guests is the last song, which I wasn’t too fond of. I’m all for vocal distortion, but it might have been slightly over done here. That said, the music is enjoyable, and I bopped my head along to the rhythm nonetheless. If you’re a fan of electronica or synth pop, I’d keep an eye on Cove. This is a great debut EP, and definitely shows promise. www.facebook.com/thebandcove Saltwater Head Springs Review by Ryan Platts This album sounds fresh and vital without making any innovations in musical or lyrical content. The attraction here is that the emotion is genuine, and the musical vehicles for it are familiar without being tedious. This is no barrier to musical worth. Artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young or Townes Van Zandt weren’t great because they were pioneering innovators of musical form (I’ll admit that Dylan was a lyrical innovator), but because their music succeeds in being a strong expression of individual character. As long as it does this in a truthful and emotionally resonant way it can be as clichéd and played-out as it wants. Feel is everything. The songs on offer here favour brevity, punchiness and an unobtrusive, unpretentious melodicism. On reflection, The Blades are the only name that I could compare these guys to. Saltwater Head on this release lacks the social-commentary bent of Paul Cleary’s outfit, but the vocal style and the unblemished clarity and sprightliness of the instrumental parts are similar. “Saltwater Head” opens the album with stern riffing, moody minor chords and tasteful bass support. The vocals arrive and 38 www.musicreviewunsigned.com make their mark in short order. Sean Flaherty, vocalist and songwriter, has the voice of an honest striver with his soul in the right place. Lyrics are written with directness and concision, which reflects the band’s stated “no nonsense” ethos. The lyrics are, in fact, so direct that were they not delivered with such obvious commitment they would be bland. “Timeline” follows with pleasingly organic production, soulful vocals and more tightly crafted writing. “Pink Pastel Blue Skies” begins with the kind of spidery guitar lines that one might hear on reggae or new wave records. The vocal melody is reminiscent of soul music, but without the ornamentation and expressive improvisation. The emotion is carried by the tone, not the notes. The lyrics are a little more forced here, but their relative simplicity saves them from being irritating. The impression that these guy’s hearts are absolutely in the right place is actually reinforced by this “fault” – Flaherty can’t seem to achieve insincerity for anyone’s money .That’s a fault that I’d murder my own mother to acquire. “Needs” has winning vocal lines and guitar-work engineered to coax a satisfied smile from the listener with minimal effort. Three songs follow in a similar vein, at which point the shine begins to wear off. A shake-up is in order. Luckily “Meeting House” breaks the formula just when it was starting to wear on me. This song is an acoustic shuffler with committed vocals and situational lyrics about an ill-managed but much-patronised party house. “War is Over” gate-crashes proceedings with clenched-fist guitars and bitter vocals. Am I hearing “Don’t Fear The Reaper” in the post-verse interludes, or am I dreaming? Either way, it works well in what must be a live-show floor-filler. Resignation and wounded empathy populate the emotional landscape of “Waves”, the final song – a fitting end to a genuinely rewarding album. I’ll be keeping an eye on these boys. Count on it. www.saltwaterhead.com ASIWYFA Gave Me Concussion Review by Neil Cathcart “You know, Coach, I gotta get going . Me and my “loser” friends, you know, we gotta get Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the summer. Oh, and Coach, I forgot. I might play ball. But I will never sign that!”. That as you may or may not know is a quote from Randall ’Pink’ Floyd in Dazed and Confused. It sums up the whole movie, the rebelling against the man and realising that as a young adult you have the power to make decisions about your future. It also shows how music is a major priority and influence in the lives of every generation. Getting these tickets wasn’t easy either it meant driving to queue to guarantee standing room and then driving up and back from the gig a few towns over. Music didn’t come to you, you went to the music. If you liked the band you didn’t care where they played you just had to see them. So when I saw that Belfast’s And So I Watch You From Afar where not playing near me i.e. Dublin I made plans to bring the people to Mohammed last Saturday night in Waterford. Packing two good friends and I into the smallest Fiat in the world we set our GPS and ventured out into the countryside. Our accommodation was no bigger than the car we came in but it was smaller in price than the price of our tickets now that’s bargain in these dark recession days. Not knowing the area we did what any good Irish would do on unknown soil we made our way from pub to pub till we found the our target. The Forum is a fine venue, I’ve become accustomed to wearing ear plugs at gigs especially as some venues skirt the limits of been harmful. Anything above 100dB will hurt by the way. This was not the case this time thankfully as I forget them, the volume was at an ear friendly level loud but not irritating. Good post rock or simply instrumental as I like to call it requires a certain amount structure that allows us to anticipate the beat, possible changes especially build up and breaks. The Great Ocean Divide do this in spades as well as throwing a few surprises with the bass and tempo changes. The first of two three piece bands find a balance between drive, power and climax before turning into a organised and sublime chaos. This accompanied with the crispy symbols of a drummer that knows his instrument. Drums are essential for an instrumental band you can have the loudest gut ranching guitar or the bone breaking bass but without drums pounding home the beat/message your dead in the water.The Great Ocean Divide continue to work in their début album when its out they will rise to the to of the Irish instrumental scene. It’s hard to describe a genre of music that you would typically ignore. Hornets are a Hardcore punk/metal band from the north. Mainly for me it’s the nature of vocals, the throaty shouting doesn’t do it for me. It was an odd choice of support band but a clever one as this threesome had been hand picked to follow ASIWYFA on the short Irish leg of their tour so they weren’t going to disappoint now were. It changes up the rhythm and gives the band a chance of stage they mightn’t get for a few years of trying. It’s clear to anyone listening that night, fan or otherwise, that Hornets knew the opportunity they were given. They were humble and gave thanks to ASIWYFA when ever they could. They gave what could have been their best yet. Bare one song, which was about how women can get to you, I’ll be honest I hadn’t a clue what he was on about. Yet the accompanied music was as good as the main act. “Hornets play loud, raw, punk metal music” I can’t argue with this. Nonetheless they have developed a great live show yet they where however homeless and looking for a couch to crash on but from the fans reaction they no doubt found somewhere to pass out as well as gained a few more fans. They’ve an EP out in April which they played that night so if it sounded anything close to that it’ll be a whooper. I was initially apprehensive of ASIWYFA‘s new stuff it was a different and as a human I’m naturally scared of change. Thankfully my assumptions were quickly muted. The first third of the set was new material followed by a best of from two thrilling LPs for a good hour. Eunoia is their new opener and Ambulance is their now anthem. Each song was a favourite for someone in the crowd and there was no shortage of bopping heads. So when Gang, Salamander and Search:Party:Animal as a encore I was up at the front giving my self a headache. The gig lasted for well over an hour of non stop music goodness. ASIWYFA are a band ground in reality they reminded us throughout that they will be around to drink them selves silly with all of us afterwards and will have plenty of drinking buddies to join them. I don’t know if it was the light headiness, the copious amount Metalman beer and Guinness or the ‘away’ factor this was simply a euphoric gig. I came out of it feeling energized. Ireland is a small country and it’s rare a main stream band don’t visit Dublin or other cities but if they skip it or miss them don’t lament jump in car with friends a full CD folder and a toothbrush because this Waterford gig made me realise the benefit of changing up from the norm. There’s a reason why Galway’s Róisín Dubh and De Barra in Clonakilty are so popular. Travelling added an extra spice to the night and made for a more memorable experience. www.facebook.com/andsoiwatchyoufromafar www.musicreviewunsigned.com 39 Biffy Clyro ::: The O2, Dublin Review by Leon Byrne Easter weekend is upon us so there’s a nice relaxed atmosphere in Dublin’s O2 tonight. Most people are finished work today for the long weekend and ready to enjoy the night with Scottish scamps Biffy Clyro. But before Biffy, there’s support band City & Colour, a side project lead by Dallas Green, lead singer with Canadian hardcore rockers Alexisonfire. They’re a E-Street Band-like solid 5 piece, well knit and well practiced. Most of the set is taken from their latest album “Little Hell”. Songs like “We Found Each Other In The Dark”, “Grand Optimist” and the crunching guitars of the Queens of the Stone Age sounding “Fragile Bird”. City & Colour’s songs have some hard hitting, no-holds-barred lyrics too like “there’s blood on our hands, in this perfect madness, you’re living on borrowed time” from set closer “Sorrowing Man”. Highlight comes from “As Much As I Ever Could”, the final track on their 2008 album “Bring Me Your Love”. It contains a brilliant guitar solo intro, similar in a way to Pearl Jam’s “Nothing As It Seems”. There are chants of “mon the Biff, mon the Biff” from the crowd before Simon Neil, Biffy Clyro’s heavily tattooed lead singer takes to the stage in his usual topless way. He kicks straight into “Baby when you hold me, I can feel so wrong, you’re trying to console me, your chance has long gone” – the opening lines from “Different People”, the opening song from the band’s massive 20 track double album “Opposites”. 40 www.musicreviewunsigned.com Wow, Biffy Clyro have came along way from supporting Bloc Party in the Phoenix Park and The Who in Marley Park back in 2007. Back then nobody knew who they were. Now they’re headlining at the 14,000 capacity O2 arena with a superb stage set-up of a skeletal like torso with stairs fitted on either side which members of the band occasionally climb for full effect. There is even a beating heard on view during “Sounds like Balloons”. The majority of the set comprises of songs from “Opposites” like “The Thaw”, “The Joke’s On Us”, with singles “Black Chandelier” and “Biblical” receiving the normal Dublin crowd sing-alongs. At times during the bands now infamous hit “Many of Horror” Neil seems idle but equally amazed by the response. There are even some younger members of the audience singing along. It’s great to see some of the older songs thrown in too like “Justboy” from their debut album “Blackened Sky” and “A Day Of. . .” from their 2nd album “The Vertigo of Bliss”. The 2004 album “Infinity Land” gets an airing too with “Glitter & Trauma” and the awesomely heavy hardcore “There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake”. The band end proceedings with encore “Stinging Belle” and “Mountains”. This is a better gig than expected, thoroughly good fun and made especially more enjoyable by the amazing atmosphere. “Mon the Biff”, come back soon. www.facebook.com/biffyclyro Frantic Jack Living Proof Review by By Jenny Ormsby Frantic Jack are one of Ireland’s brightest up and coming acts, they have just sealed a major publishing deal in California, USA , the publisher has worked with some of the biggest tv/movie studios, record labels and brands in the industry (that’s all we can say at the moment). Their latest single called “Living Proof” accompanied by a brand new video is taken from their sophomore album Last One to Leave. The song kicks off with some perfectly strummed guitars and subtle rim shots on the drums, which mix together so effortlessly. As Daragh’s vocals kicks in, his husky voice adds gravity to the track. The lyrics are really catchy along with a good solid chorus, Frantic Jack takes a story and transform it into what I believe could be a smash hit track. Their sound is unique, separating them apart from any other act on the scene in the Rock genre. Living Proof is another fantastic release from the band, it will have you singing along and bopping your head to the melody. www.facebook.com/FranticJackOfficial Fox.E and The Good Hands News Editor - Feargal Daly INE Z A AG U M tured e R M Fea f th m o th u b Al Mon Soulful, Groovy, Funky, Fun, Sexy, Honest. These are the six words that best describes this fantastic debut. It’s been a long journey for Fox E & The Good Hands, one of the hardest working unsigned bands on the scene, but finally we have arrived at the debut album ‘Curvy’. Relentless touring, competitions, recording and now, after a successful fund:it campaign, we are pleased to see Fox. E & The Good Hands take things to the next step. While many of the tracks that appear on the debut have been staples of a Fox E setlist throughout the years (‘I Like It Curvy’, ‘Soulfunkalicious’, ‘Forbidden Fruit’) and appear here with a little more spit and shine they are finely preserved on the album, appearing appropriately loose from an increasingly tighter band. There a fantastic raw honesty to the production quality of this album. Anyone who has been able to catch this band on the live circuit will know just how impressively tight their sound is and thankfully they’ve lived up to their highly professional standard with the production on ‘Curvy’. You could swear listening to the wonderful vocal howls of opener ‘Good Hands’ and the rousing rap exchanged in the mid section are directed at you, the listener, as if you were right in front of the band in that moment. Eimear Fox’s vocal performance (wonderfully backed up by the equally talented Paula Size) feels unstoppably strong and the delivery never feels forced but compliments the excellent rhythm section. Everything comes across so loose and spontaneous like a live performance/jam on the record, but you can tell these songs have been composed, beaten about, throw away, recollected and now presented to their highest standard. The hidden weapon behind the band, Barry O’ Farrell, makes it all dynamic with intelligent, well constructed and (most importantly) fun raps. It’s on ‘Soulfunkalicious’ and ‘Tailfeather’ in particular where he takes the vocal reins and rightfully mixes it all up. That’s what it’s all about with this album – spontaneity and fun – and an endless amount too. Rounding out the rhythm section are Gordan Dunning, Phillip Donnery and David McDonald who simply ooze funky grooves and riffs throughout. There will be several moments where a slick bass lick, sneaky drum fill and tasty shredded solo will have you grinning like a fool at their brilliance. Sometimes it all happens at once and your senses will go into complete overdrive (See ‘Get Up’ & ‘Please Me’ – you have been warned!). Standout track ‘For The Love’, with all honesty, will remind you that you can’t just like a song, you have to feel it, properly get something out of it and instantly replay it...over and over again. You simply must hear it. It’s rare to have such high expectations for an album, and even rarer when it’s a debut. Here is a band that tackled the scene by flipping off all the trends, staying true to their style and doing it all on their own terms. That fearlessness and honesty has created one of the most infectious, dynamic and exciting debuts with ‘Curvy’. You owe it to yourself to hear this. www.facebook.com/foxeandthegoodhands www.musicreviewunsigned.com 41 CYOF Records P Deputy Editor Meghan O’Dowd aul Kavanagh runs Chew Your Own Fat, a website offering witty criticism on unsigned music. He subsequently established CYOF Records, an independent label which curiously, does not accept submissions. Ever. The bands on their roster are exclusively hand-picked by Paul with some input from his team. In the interest of all things industry related, MRU felt the need to catch up with Paul and see what exactly Chew Your Own Fat was all about. We also wanted to get to grips with his unusual methods and why he feels they fill a gap in the Irish music scene. An eternal fan of blogging, Paul was open to the idea of writing one himself. A fan of music as well, he seemed to notice the emerging problems of the music industry in recent years – and felt the need to tackle them with witty criticism. “I grew up reading blogs like Buddyhead and looking up old Albini stuff from e-zines like Matter and Forced Exposure, and I liked the idea of a blog that wasn't afraid to be totally honest and expose bands who maybe wouldn't get too much coverage, and have a bit of a laugh too”. “If a band has spent thousands of euro and a few months on a boring or subpar record, how does that entitle them to a good review and a pat on the back?” Exposing bands seems a fitting description, as Chew Your Own Fat became known for their sharpness and honesty (and cruelty, too). But despite its abrupt landing into the media sphere, it quickly seemed that Chew Your Own Fat was not going to disappear as quickly. “I didn't have any real connections to anyone in "The Industry" so there was no real reason NOT to be honest and at times kinda brutal to bands I thought were all hype and no substance… Musicians seemed to respect our honesty; well the cool ones did, and got 42 www.musicreviewunsigned.com a chuckle out of the bad reviews too. A nice little community of bands came together, from different genres, and it started to feel like a worthwhile little movement.” What resonates about Chew Your Own Fat though is its lack of relativity to well, pretty much any other music-related media site – independent, self-started or otherwise. On one hand, Paul doesn’t seem to think that Chew Your Own Fat really has a place in what he calls “The Industry”. “I don't consider myself a Blogger, Promoter, Label guy, or whatever. These are just things I'd be doing anyway, so I'm not keen on giving myself a job title, carrying a Fil-o-fax, and walking around like a big cheese. I think that's the polar opposite of what CYOF is about anyway.” At the same time, his goals seem pretty similar to those of other industry and media professionals. At least they do the way he explains it. “If I'm honest, I HOPE that CYOF can be a springboard for bands that we love, a part of the fabled "next move" for acts that are ready for that push, or at the very least a way for bands to be heard by a wider audience.” Whether it’s his wit or dumb luck, the attitude towards Chew Your Own Fat is mostly positive. That being said, there’s always a few doubters, who he feels the need to set straight. As he put himself; whether it’s negative or positive comment it is still publicity. “What some bands don't seem to realise is; if we write something negative and it gets people talking, then that's just as useful a promotional tool as if we gave EVERYTHING a glowing review. “If a band has spent thousands of euro and a few months on a boring or subpar record, how does that entitle them to a good review and a pat on the back?” With firm opinions like that, it’s no surprise that the site slowly evolved to encompass the idea of CYOF records. Yet the idea behind CYOF records is somewhat curious, in that it came as an afterthought – and apparently as a suggestion from a friend. “I met some really cool f***ers who wanted to get involved. Chris Leonard had been managing The Radioactive Grandma, whose album I'd reviewed and loved, and Katie Hogan had sent bands my way to review, and the three of us bounced the idea around, and it just made sense. “When you meet good people, who share your ethos or ethics, ideas are bound to start flowing, and we each felt we had something to bring to the table.” While it all seems very ‘sunshine and rainbows’ in conception, we wanted to understand the cogs-and-wheels of CYOF Records as a label. The only bands on the CYOF Records label are ones which Paul and his team came across themselves. Why? Because in his opinion, the only bands worth working with are the bands he feels are ready for success. “I find that the bands that already have the framework there, or at least partly done, are the easiest to work with because they already have an idea how things work. The days of a band writing one good song and getting signed are LONG over, and if every band accepted that, there'd be so fewer bands around.” This seems harsh, but it stems from an opinion that the music industry is simply saturated with too much content and not enough quality. I suggested to Paul that while this may be true, there is a concern that his selective processes may lead him to miss out down the line. However, he feels that this is not the case. “You can spot the bands that simply want their 15 minutes of fame, and couldn't give a f**k about creating something worthwhile, and the bands that do it to because they want to make relevant and credible music. Personally, I gravitate towards the latter, so I'm not too worried about something good passing me by.” Comparing the ideas of CYOF to those of major labels doesn’t yield much result, unless you count it as a direct opposition. It’s undoubtedly clear from speaking to Paul that his feelings on the industry are directly targeted, to put it mildly. “If every major label baiting band died in a massive plane crash, it would free up the airwaves and column inches for bands doing something different and credible.” Perhaps this is can be a taken as a sign of the intention of CYOF Records, as a seemingly deliberate (albeit haphazard) attempt at bringing music back to the individuals who crave originality over anything else. This mindset is what brought them to choose their first release – the exciting and much anticipated self-titled album by The Radioactive Grandma. “We debated a first release and when Radioactive Grandma offered their album, it was a no-brainer. We all loved it, they’re the coolest guys to deal with, so it made complete sense.” For CYOF Records, there doesn’t seem to be any hesitation to tackling the concept behind major labels. It is a labour of love, more than anything else. One which Paul uses to drive force behind CYOF Records. “The music industry is so broad; there are obviously good and bad points. It's a great time for unsigned bands because there are so many mediums to have your music heard, Bandcamp, Soundcloud etc. “It is what it is, I don't deal with it, there is no point dwelling on it. Independent music has come a long way, there are people out there who ONLY have the artist/bands best interests at heart, and work tirelessly to get new music heard.” Paul also manages one of the bands on the CYOF label, which he insists is out of an interest in helping them promote themselves in the right way. Based on his experiences of other bands, he feels that it is a necessity to have someone who is in involved for the right reasons as a means of support. “I see bands who "manage" themselves who have zero idea how to use things like Facebook or Twitter, and they're running their bands into the ground… “The one thing that I find very important for bands, is finding someone outside your band who can guide you through the pitfalls and www.chewyourownfat.com dead ends of the industry. Sure, I know bands who are quite capable of doing 100% of the promotional work themselves, but generally “I see bands who "manage" themselves who have zero idea how to use things like Facebook or Twitter, and they're running their bands into the ground” a band will benefit from some form of outside help.” Of course, being involved in these bands means going to serious lengths to promote and support them, which is done quite obviously at CYOF. What might seem like a conflict of interest, Paul nails down with brute honesty. “I do promote all three bands on the website and on our FaceBook page, but I don't see why not, I've not set myself any restrictions, and I'm pretty much in charge of CYOF so I can promote anything related with the website/label as I see fit.” Although there are supports out there for musicians, it is people like Paul who have noticed the gaps in the industry and attempted to fill them creatively. He admits that Irish unsigned artists simply need more support. “Things like IMRO are meant to be some sort of safety net for artists/bands, but taking a percentage of bands' gig earnings seems a bit counter-productive, to me anyway… Obviously there are GOOD reasons to register your band with IMRO, but I think there could be better security for bands further along in their careers who try to make a living through gigging.” It certainly seems that there is more to CYOF Records than meets the eye. Whether controversial or not, there’s no doubt that there is an element of truth in what they’re saying. With some final choice words for unsigned artists out there, Paul left us with this; “Bands need to be realistic too, just because you've chosen a life in music DOESN'T mean music owes you a living. Prepare yourself for playing to ten people, getting paid in beer, and carrying your equipment out the back door of some p**s -soaked lane way. Every band has done it, no exceptions.” Truer words have never been spoken. www.musicreviewunsigned.com 43 Live Review ::: Dying Embers The Sugar Club, Dublin News Editor: Feargal Daly Dying Embers Left to Right – Dara Ryder, Christian Volkmann 44 www.musicreviewunsigned.com Torrential rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of a packed crowd eager to witness the live launch of Dying Embers’ ‘At War with the Eskimos’ (read our verdict HERE). The beautiful rouge tinted decor of the brilliant Sugar Club in the heart of Dublin presented the perfect intimate setting for Dying Embers to showcase the debut album on the live scene. Yet despite the weather outside, the crowd were on form and lapped up Ryder’s very Dublin-esque banter between tracks notably humorously stating “fuckin disgraceful out there!”. The venue was saturated in atmosphere before the band even struck the first chord. Ryder was aided by a full ensemble and even had opening act Jethro Pickett lend a helping hand on a lap steel guitar. Throw in some strings, keys and what would surface to be a masterful harmonica performance to the mix ensured something special was lined up. During performance Ryder was suitably dressed with a noir like appearance adding an air of mystery to his Dying Embers’ persona. He suitably crooned and swayed about the stage during his performance that included energetic and honest renditions of album highlights ICU Song, Mister, the Birds and Ode to the Shiny Pictures. We were treated to an unreleased track midway through the set initiated by Ryder light-heartedly stating – “This isn’t on the album because it’s shit…nah, it’s actually decent”. A modest view it seemed as the unreleased track turned out to be an absolute gem. A real shame it didn’t make the album as an extra track wouldn’t have hurt but it added to the night’s celebration not just of ‘At War with the Eskimos’ but also to the tracks that didn’t make the cut that deserved their moment. Jody Rolled The Bones was the absolute highlight of the night. A very Ennio Morricone like harmonica accompaniment (absent from the album) elevated an already brilliant track to classic status. A sublime interpretation recalling ‘Man With A Harmonica’ for all the right reasons. Relying on friends to help make this performance stand out didn’t go over Ryder’s head as he graciously thanked his friends and the audience throughout. When it all seemed a little too sombre the more energetic performances helped lift spirits and crowd enthusiasm but did leave the question as to whether a more balanced set list could have been delivered. Current single, The Light Switch, was delivered almost exactly like the album version but coming off the back of the preceding tracks meant it didn’t have quite the same impact as it could have if positioned earlier in the set. Still, it is a great track worth your time. With a great debut behind him it was expected to be an equally great performance. That was certainly delivered. Yet, despite a fantastic first half, the performance never really reached for anything more when it felt like it could have at so many points. A few misses in the sound department meant that Ryder was sometimes a little bit inaudible over the band, particularly the bombastic drums. It’s one of those constant niggling issues present in the live scene and in no way puts Dying Embers into disrepute. Ultimately the night was a celebration culminating in an honest and believable performance embraced by the band and the audience. Despite the few niggling sound issues it was ultimately a success and proved that Dying Embers shows should be marked on your calendars this year. A worthy performance to back up a fantastic debut and an artist you should readily invest yourself in. www.dyingembers.net Live Review ::: Val Normal The Button Factory/Dublin Review By Catherine Sherlock Val Normal The best thing about hearing a band play live is that you’re hearing them play unedited, they are raw and there is something more honest about the music. This is why I avoided listening to Val Normal’s album Plans, What Plans? , I wanted to hear them minus the use of a studio engineer, and after hearing that, I have come to the conclusion that they need the studio engineer. Now, that might sound harsh, but after hearing from various friends that Val Normal are a really great band I was expecting something amazing, and I was sorely disappointed. I’ll start with the positives, I really enjoyed the early Biffy Clyro vibe; the music was abrasive, loud and had a point just like the music of Simon Neil and co. The three band members had good energy and watching a band that look like they are enjoying themselves always makes a gig more enjoyable. However, the abrasiveness soon began to sound sloppy, it felt like the guitar was running away at times, leaving the drums and bass sounding slow and created a sound that frankly just sounded really out of time. The combination of instrumental pieces and songs with vocals was confusing. The instrumental songs felt long winded, they moved slowly and there was absolutely no structure that I could make sense of. The changes in tempo and melody didn’t make sense to the ear, it felt like the songs moved when the band felt like it and not because it made sense musically and I wasn’t sure when a song ended and a new one began. This, alongside the vocal harmonies, which also need some work, just gave the impression that this was a band that were made up of 3 individual people working separately and not together. Don’t get me wrong, when Val Normal click, they play some really good music, however a band should click all the time. Overall, I didn’t enjoy their performance. I felt like I wasn’t hearing songs written by a band, just random bits of music that accidentally fall into place sometimes. www.valnormal.bandcamp.com/album/plans-what-plans www.musicreviewunsigned.com 45