Page 1

Issue 14 1st August

Down Down the the RabBit RabBit Hole Hole


Editor’s note

Welcome to Issue 14 of Down The Rabbit Hole! It’s been an interesting month for us here at Mad Alice Records, we’ve been out and about on the York circuit as usual and we’re beginning to venture further afield too! So drop us a message if you know any interesting bands in need of a feature and we’ll get right on it. This edition we have bands such as Safeguard, Nuns of the Tundra, Mouses and a couple of others, all of which are worth a good long listen. We have our take on War for the Planet of the Apes and Spider-man: Homecoming as well as a piece on our acoustic gig series here in York! From all of us here at Mad Alice we hope you have a fantastic summer and enjoy the read! Andrew


Contents

Reviews Sandra’s Wedding 6-7 Revie Byrnes

Nuns of the Tundra 8-9 Scott Winsbury

Vesper Walk 10-13 Zoe Buckton

Soul Fire Saints 18-19 Scott Winsbury

Film Reviews War for the Planet of the Apes 22-25 Ben Tindall

Spider-man: Homecoming 26-29 Jake Williams


Artist in Review Safeguard 15

Zuhatag 17

Sam Pheby-McGarvey

Andrew Smith

Sister Madly 15 Zoe Buckton

Mouses 17

Andrew Smith

Interviews Acoustic Gig Series 20-21 Zoe Buckton

Articles BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal 30-31 Dawid Ziemba

Top 5 of the Month 32-33 Alex Fisher


SAndra’s wedding: Northern powerhouse


This month I’m reviewing Sandra’s Wedding, a four piece indie band from Goole and Castleford. Their music is a bible in music format for the whole of Yorkshire highlighting the feeling of hope within desperation in a working class town. Their first two singles both made Track of the week on BBC Introducing stations and the MP for The Northern Powerhouse Andrew Percy complimented the album and even said he’d mention it in parliament, which gave exposure to the band through local newspapers. Their growing popularity is well deserved due to their obvious hard work and the musical brilliance they create within every track. The band is made up of Joe Hodgson who has a voice that you could listen to on repeat, Johnny Hughes and Tom Hill whose guitar and bass talent compliment each song perfectly and Luke Harrison whose drumming creates a beat you can’t help but tap your foot to. Their new album Northern Powerhouse consists of 11 tracks and is available on multiple platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google Music, Spotify and CD. After reading about their songs and their focus on life in northern working class areas I assumed the sound would mimic that of The Enemy and I was so wrong! I listened to their first album and was pleasantly surprised to hear sounds that mirrored The Smiths instrumentals whilst withholding originality

through creative lyricism and skilful playing. They have been compared to the likes of Beautiful South, so if you’re into a reinvented sound of Paul Heaton with innovative lyrics and a catchy beat then these guys are definitely worth a listen. Their lyrics gained my attention at first combining humour with relatable issues like relationships, nostalgia and unemployment which let’s face it we can all relate to. The line “she is chip shop good looking” from the song Death Warmed Up in particular sticks in my mind and I’m singing it repetitively which is definitely a good thing. My favourite song of the album is Tonight Matthew which brings back memories of Stars In Their Eyes and although it’s full of humour it holds a complexity of love and feeling lost in yourself. I can’t find fault in any of the tracks and have exceedingly enjoyed listening to this album at least 4 times so far. Overall the tracks are worth the listen and can give you a giggle but also teach you important life lessons like “Love is knowing when to shut the fuck up.” Something that we can all learn from. 10/10


Nuns of the tundra: Dead in the desert


‘Dead in the Desert’ is the latest single from Bristol based alt-rock/psychedelic band Nuns of the Tundra (or Nundra as I like to call them). Dead in the Desert begins with a typical psychedelic bass intro, with subtle almost ethereal vocalization overlayed. This builds into the first verse with the introduction of drums and guitar. “All of this time, I know that you’ve been waiting for me […] and I lose myself in your eyes” sings the vocalist, in lyrics reminiscent of early-mid 2000s AFI, while carving out a truly individual space. The music is well produced and sounds excellent. Unfortunately at most times the soft vocals are not entirely audible over the guitars. For this reason, I can only rate Dead in The Desert at a 6/10. As part of a full length EP or even an album, the track would work wonderfully but it just can’t seem to stand on its own despite its merits.


Vesper Walk: Fallen angel I really fancied a meaty album to review this month. Luckily for me, while routing through our inbox I found Vesper Walk’s ‘Fallen Angel’ - a concept album. I find that with concept albums the best thing to do is jump right in without researching the background too much – if you can figure out the concept, the band has done a good job. This album is available as both recording and with an accompanying film (the

piece is also available in book form, and as a writer myself that is a thrilling amount of dedication to a story). I opted for the film. I sat down, got out some food, and waited. Soon a whispering voice called out ‘you are about to enter a magical world’ over the visuals of a woodland forest. My immediate response was to think of that advert for Thirteen, Alton Tower’s creepy rollercoaster. I stuck with it to see one of the largest bands we’ve

reviewed here at Mad Alice. There are two core members, sisters Catherine Cowan and Lisa-Marie Baker. With a classical background that definitely filters through the music, they share a keyboard, performing an incredible four handed piano concerto that not only stands out – but tells a story with tone alone. The whole ensemble is massive and draws in a multitude of varied artists.


Lucy Charnock is fantastic on cello and vocals, we get percussion from Ed Simpson (with a very fine top hat), Alex Staples works on guitar, Bryony Williams provides opera vocals in the track Gandiegow, Amie Robertson, Joyce Griffiths and Gracie Falls all provide vocals with a great depth of harmony (with Gracie taking the lead in ‘True Love’), Kieran O’Malley takes on Violin, Ian Chalk performs on trumpet, and backing vocals are provided

by Leona Liberty Baker (Auntie Sarah Intro), Dan Webster (Auntie Sarah), Andy Doonan (Monster) and Oscar Caraballo Snr (Fallen Angel Intro) The members stand together in what looks like a church, and begin to perform enthusiastically. With dance routines and cutaways to scenes that clearly took a lot of effort, this video is definitely an artistic piece worth watching. Each track of this concept

album is an epic. We see the story unfold of young lovers, Sarai and Abe, married and torn apart by work. This album is a fairy-tale – a woman given the ‘key to a piano made of mirrored glass’ as a wedding gift. In many ways, the whole piece mirrors the life of a music industry professional – I found myself drawing comparisons to Bjork’s melancholic video for ‘Bachelorette’ at certain moments. Sarai is given a platform for her music, but


shamed for age and looks, and finds herself changing in ways she never thought she could. The tracks change genre rapidly, but this isn’t as jarring as it may seem – the flow between cabaret, ballad, and rock work well together to convey mood. Each track turns and twists where another artist may have kept the same regular rhythm going, and I really respect that as both an artistic decision and a way to keep an audience engaged. At times, I found myself coping alright without the narrator, the music served so well to tell the story on its own, especially ‘auntie sarah are you in’. This track was heart-breaking, a switch of perspective to Sarai’s niece who cannot recognise her auntie any more, and a clear metaphor for Sarai’s loss of self. The narrator works well for the purely audio record, though, with some great moments of criticism for what money has made of Sarai. When the narrator describes ‘the sound of money in her piano’, the repeated, manic whispers of ‘money’ dominate the track. In one video intermission we join a ‘shopping channel’, which, while a little literal, does really well to compare this fairy-tale setting to the world we live in now. Whilst Sarai tunes into this narrative of imperfection and selfdoubt, we are reminded of the daytime tv spiel telling women they aren’t good enough, that success can’t come without looks. In her pursuit of beauty, Sarai takes the antlers from a wise deer, in doing so, she becomes a ‘puppet so lifelike even she thinks shes real’. With

a key in her back, she is wound up to perform to the growing crowds. If you think this is all nearing a Britney Spears-esque breakdown you’re right, (name) gives out a mighty scream of desperation, and Sarai finds herself renewed with plastic hair, false teeth, and a pout fixed so firmly in place that she can barely speak. I won’t spoil the ending here, but I really recommend this series to all of our readers, no matter what genre you favour. The mixture of theatre, classical and modern themes is incredible and this York based artist really knocks it out of the ballpark. The album has been performed live numerous times, including at Edinburgh Fringe fest. The piece is ‘dedicated to all those who ‘dance a little differently’, and it is skilful, contemporary and well composed. The film version of the show is available here, a mixture of live performance and theatre, narration and movement:


Artist in Review


Safeguard With their first headline and EP under their belt, Safeguard are set to have an interesting year, seeing as 2017 has both created this band and seen them fill a headline slot. With the official announcement of their second EP, due early next year, expect many a fan’s excitement levels to rise at the slightest hint on Twitter. If you’re partial to a bit of pop punk these guys are right up your street, if not, you’d be nuts to give Safeguard a miss, they have proven they’re a worthy outfit, and there’s a hell of a lot to come from them yet.

Sister Madly Sister Madly are a York based cover band, and recently performed for us as part of the Mad Alice Records Acoustic Gig Series. The bands two vocalists, Marie-Louise and Joanne, have powerful voices and adapt well to varied tracks. Backed by a number of talented muscicians on keyboard, bass, guitar and drums - this band is definitely worth seeing in the pubs around York city centre!


Artist in Review


Mouses What can I say about Mouses. Seeing them for the first time you have literally no idea what you’re in for. A two piece named Mouses you say? these’ll be pretty chill, nope, think a sound more punk and brash than a four piece named Honey Badgers and you’re about a third of the way there. What’s really special about Mouses though is their epic stage presence, while their recorded stuff is absolutely cracking you haven’t had a proper mouthful of Mouses until you’ve experienced them live, the stage is only there so drummer Nathan can see what guitarist singer Steve is up to in the crowd, fabulous. How I managed to miss these at Leeds Fest last year is something I will never know or forgive myself for. Be sure to catch them, and a load of other great bands, at Mousetival on the 12th of August!

Zuhatag The first word that came to mind as I was listening to this band was interesting. If you’re searching for safe melodies and catchy choruses then please go elsewhere, if you seek something a bit different this may be the band for you. They combine intricate riffs and chord progressions with a myriad of effects to create a rich wide expanding sound all backed by hard hitting drums. There is a clever blend of instruments with rock staples like guitars and drums blending seamlessly with strings. I would recommend checking out their Soundcloud.


Sheffield based group ‘Soul Fire Saints’ classify themselves as a sort of rap/funk/ metal fusion. Their latest single ‘Rock ‘n Brawl’, released in early July showcases two of these – the jury’s still out on the rap side of things. The track starts out with a heavy riff that souds exactly like what you’d expect from Sheffield metal. The vocals are where the funk aspect makes itself most apparent, showing obvious influence from groups such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Vocalist Taylor begins by declaring that he’s “so mad [he’s] bleeding from [his] eyes” – a terrifying image, and something that would certainly make it a little difficult to sing. The introductory riff continues throughout, creating a subtle contrast between music and vocals. This is the first single to be released from their upcoming EP, which will be released in the autumn which at the time of writing is untitled. The chorus is comprised entirely of that same riff played at a higher tempo, over which Taylor sings that he plans to “smash my bones against the wall, you know I love to rock and brawl”. A similar pattern is followed for the ensuing bridge, with a tonal shift and more repetitive lyrics towards the latter half (“Rock and brawl, yeah! Rock and brawl!”) This then becomes an outro, lead by increasing drums and lyrics that are either “you cowards can fight your war” or “you cannot fight a wall”. I’m not too sure which one it is, but either way it is an unusual sentiment. Most people know it’s very difficult to fight a wall, but given the chorus this could be a lesson Taylor is still learning. Overall, this track makes for very interesting listening. No less could be expected from a band whose selfexpressed purpose is to “blend […] Californian funk metal […] with Sheffield Charm”. For that reason, I’m going to rate Rock n Brawl at a well deserved 8/10.


Soul Fire Saints: Rock ‘n Brawl


One of our most exciting new projects here at Mad Alice Records is our Acoustic Gig series. We chatted to company director Aidan Laycock to give you some great insight into this project. Hi Aidan! What is the main goal of the acoustic gigs project? To promote some of the amazing talent that keeps the pubs and streets of York thriving. Acoustic music is part of the core of York and we wanted to ensure we supported it through a paid gig series.

So, how do we decide which bands get to perform? It’s a mix, either by bands that we’ve seen and we need to have play the series or through email submission. We’ve been a bit overwhelmed with submissions, but if there is anyone else that’s interested then email us to Management@ madalicerecords.co.uk

play a huge part. It is also the approachability from an audience perspective - it needs to be easily digestible, quite a few of the attendees are there to enjoy their evening with the added bonus of some great live music.

How’s the project going so far? Really well, we’re in the process of finalising the last 2 weeks of the series Why specifically acoustic now. We have big plans to sets? expand this series at Eagle There are a mix of reasons, and Child, as well as other the intimacy of the space venues (both within York and the acoustic of the room and then into other cities


Acoustic Gig Series: Eagle and child york

within Yorkshire). What are your hopes for the project for the future? To bring back the gig circuit, as it’s great to not only get your music out to new audiences but to get paid for it and to be booked for multiple gigs. It’s almost like a mini tour for the musicians involved. Longer term we’re looking into bigger events, but they’re still in the early stages. How can other bands get involved? Drop us an email to our Management & Events team with some links to social

media and some samples. At the end of the day we want to hear your music! Don’t worry if you only play covers, we book both cover bands and songwriters - the mix is best for the venue. How does the project benefit York’s music community? It gives the musicians another venue to explore, and it also gets them one step closer to being professional, gigging musicians for some of the up and coming artists. For the established acts it helps to keep the lights on!

How can we attend? It’s a free series for attendees. It’s at Eagle & Child York every Friday with music starting just after 8, but get down a bit earlier for some great food and drinks (and to get the better seats!)


War for the planet of the apes

Exciting, tense and emotional - director Matt Reeves concludes one of modern Hollywood’s greatest trilogies in a spectacular style. ‘War’ gently balances a rich intelligent script with stunning visuals to create a deeply intriguing story, topped off with the often underrated Andy Serkis, who once again provides a staggeringly realistic performance as head ape Caesar.

Following on 2 years after the events of ‘Dawn’, War quickly sets the tone of the next two and a half hours with its’ haunting first shot. Slowly focusing, the movie opens with a group of soldiers, silently prowling through a gloomy forest, graffitied on one man’s helmet the words ‘monkey killer’. Before you can worry about how the slow pace and depressing scenes could squander your enjoyment, a fierce attack erupts. We witness the

spectacle from the soldiers POV, emphasising the brute power of the apes but also their advancement too. This first scene perfectly displays how the film constantly combines exhilarating set pieces and exceptional VFX feats, with tragic weighty themes (some of which resemble the darkest parts of our history) to create a truly one of a kind film. Unlike its predecessors, War establishes what seems to be a relatively simple


plot. Clearly fixed from the start we follow a basic and some-what familiar story of revenge, but the protagonist is an ape. After a disastrous event lead by the Colonel, brilliantly acted by Woody Harrelson, Caesar swears to find and kill the leader of the group of humans in the North. However this elementary plot is upgraded at the start of the second act, where we find out more about the Colonel and his horrific camp in the North, as well as a disease

threatening the existence of the dwindling number of surviving humans. Unfortunately, it is at this point of the film where the few downfalls surface. The excellence of the fast paced and thrilling first act is replaced with a sedated second act, swapping outstanding action for miserable tones and philosophical discussions. Though these tones and discussions are legitimately interesting and help provide

a stronger story and character development, I found myself looking forward to what I expected was going to happen later in the movie rather then what was currently happening. Additionally, whilst Harrelson embodied a magnificent threat to the apes, and presented compelling arguments for his evil cause, The Colonel perpetrated more than one action which felt extremely out of his well built character. This resulted


War for the planet of the apes


in what could have been an excellent villain into a moderate villain, thankfully saved by Harrelson’s expert acting. However War for the Planet of the Apes effortlessly hides these mis-steps, using breathtaking scenery and landscapes matched with unbelievable CGI to create a visually epic experience throughout. Additionally the unique score which orchestrated the movie, created by Michael Giacchinos, intensifies the emotional beats and almost mimics the memorable scores of classic movies from old Hollywood whilst synthesising vigorous drum beats evident in modern film. As well as this, Reeves cleverly introduces a new (eerily realistic) ape ‘bad ape’,who voiced by Steve Zahn, injects genuinely funny moments in a dark film. War seamlessly brushes off any concerns from the slower second act by executing a thrilling final act, upping the stakes to new highs and truly showing us why this is the War For The Planet Of The Apes. Though this final battle seemed a bit too short, Reeves adds a deadly surprise which leaves this battle on a high note. Focussing on the divide between man and ape, War expertly uses imagery of tragic events in history, such as the holocaust, to ground what seems to be an overt fantasy into a harsh reality. The journey Reeves takes the audience on through the film, allows us to connect emotionally to the apes and feel empathy for the struggles of the protagonist. While the humans are the villains of this story, and they do lead some horrific acts, the director creates a situation which isn’t as black and white as expected-asking the audience what else could the humans do when the battle for the planet is between man and ape. In conclusion; War For The Planet Of The Apes offers breathtaking VFX, paired with a smart script and crisp cinematography. Even though the second act fails in comparison to the excellent first and final act, director Matt Reeves conjures a magnificent film and a perfect finale to a fantastic trilogy. I would recommend this film to anybody who enjoys cinema, and anybody who wants to witness the advancement of VFX. War For The Planet Of The Apes easily scores an 8.5/10.


Spider-Man: Homecoming is fine. It’s a witty, charming homage to the John Hughes films of the 80s and 90s, blended with Marvel’s typical formulaic approach to filmmaking. The result is a fun, entertaining flick that’s isn’t without its fair share of problems. Director Jon Watts has shifted the action to a high school setting from previous interpretations of the Spider-verse. Homecoming’s Peter Parker secretly investigates alien technology in chemistry and waits for school to

end to fight crime, or in his case help old ladies with directions. The lower stakes are a breath of fresh air after the bombastic, world ending shenanigans of previous MCU instalments. Watts also makes a genuine effort to cast actors who could passably be high school students. This is a welcome change, mostly because seeing thirtysomethings playing high school students feels weird, but also because of the wealth of talent it brings to the show. Homecoming boasts a very

solid cast, most if not all of which are very fun to watch on-screen, with only Robert Downey Jnr phoning in the Tony Stark shtick he’s perfected over the last decade. If anything, a lot of actors are underutilised, and the film only offers them the chance to show a fraction of their potential. Zendaya, Hannibal Buress, Donald Glover, Tony Revellori, all of them give great performances, but there’s still so much more potential there. Maybe future films will shine more of a spotlight on them, but for now they feel wasted.


Spider-man: homecoming That’s not to suggest the characters who get most of the attention don’t deserve it. Special mention has to go to Tom Holland and Michael Keaton for their respective performances. Peter Parker has always been a tough character to crack, and previous SpiderMen Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield have been either too much of a weird nerd or an overly cocky wisecrack. Holland manages to strike that balance perfectly. Having improved and developed from Civil War, it’s safe to say he’s the best interpretation of the

character we’ve seen yet. Parker’s constant joking and chatter could be irritating, but Holland brings such an innocent charisma that its really charming. Meanwhile, Keaton’s performance cements The Vulture, aka Adrian Toomes, into the hallowed “Hall of Marvel Villains You Won’t Forget Five Minutes After Leaving The Cinema”. He brings genuine complexity, buckets of charisma, and at times a serious menace to the role. Toomes has a morally sound backstory and is in a lot of ways a

very sympathetic character, which Keaton takes full advantage of. It’s hard not to like the guy. Keaton’s a joy to watch in almost all he’s in, and this is no exception. I for one am delighted to see a resurgence in his career. However, Spider-Man: Homecoming is not a perfect film. For starters, it’s very conventional. Every story beat or character relationship is something we’ve seen before, and the three-act structure is followed way too rigidly. There are no surprises on offer here, aside from


Spider-man: homecomin


ng

the obligatory twist in the third act, which is made all the sweeter for being genuinely unexpected amid the conventionality. The film also has a frustrating lack of respect for its audience. Admittedly it is a Hollywood blockbuster, but rarely is a plot point not almost immediately followed with the film overexplaining what’s going on through dialogue or voiceover. One of the worst examples is early on, when a fun Ferris Bueller reference is immediately ruined by the film clumsily showing you the exact clip they were referencing. Why bother? People who know the film will appreciate the nod, and for everyone else it’s still a fun moment. We’re not stupid, guys. However, the biggest problem is quite simple- it’s a Marvel film. That might be a controversial statement, and if you like Marvel this won’t be a concern, but the studio enforces a blandness on its films that Homecoming does not escape. The last three MCU offerings were a psychedelic fantasy, a tongue-incheek space opera, and now a John Hughes homage. The trouble is, to make these films feel stylistically consistent anything that sets these genres apart must be sucked out. Homecoming tries to escape this, but in the end feels exactly the same as the 15 other films in this franchise, and by this point that’s just boring. Homecoming as a result also shares the previous films’ problems. The colour grading makes everything look muted and grey, and not much pops out at you. Aside from one amazing track to kick the film off, the soundtrack is incredibly unmemorable. And, of course, you need to have seen pretty much all the previous MCU films to properly understand this one. Now, of course most people have seen The Avengers, and Iron Man, and Spider-Man and the Captain America films, but these are separate franchises! To expect audiences to have seen these products before the first film in a new franchise is incredibly unfair and only serves to make the film on its own much weaker. Maybe I’m ragging on this film too much. It shouldn’t be understated just how much fun it is and if you’re looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours with plenty of laughs and excitement you could do a lot worse. However, if you’re getting a bit tired of superhero movies, or weren’t on board to begin with, then steer well clear of this film. Spider-Man Homecoming can’t escape the constricting conformity Marvel imposes on it, but is still honest, charming, and likely one of the better summer movies we’ll see this year.


gear review


BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal What’s the first pedal every beginner guitarist purchases? Reverb? Delay? Compressor? Octave? Nope, none of those. Why none of those? Because out of all the sounds that a young guitarist desires to perform, they always come back to the one sound that excels all – distortion. Distortion is that gritty, rough, cool younger brother of the clean tone. Every guitarist wants to try it, tame it and make something new out if it. And for a beginner, what better distortion pedal will do the job then the BOSS DS-1 Distortion pedal? The BOSS DS-1 Distortion pedal is a cheap, reliable, comfortable, and proven pedal that does the job. I had mine since I was 14, and never looked back. It’s strong build means it can withstand a lot of damage, perfect for a pedal board and genuinely works well for either a beginner or a tamed guitarist.


Film

TV Series

Album

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Rick and Morty season 3

Its finally happened! Marvel have introduced Spider-Man officially into their cinematic universe, and for the first time ever, he’s played by an actor who looks the right age for a Spider-Man film! It sticks extremely well to the comic book origins while also throwing in everything thats needed for the universe to continue!

Although the first episode aired a while ago now, the new season doesn’t officially start till the end of July and if the first episode was anything to go by, expect a lot of crude jokes and hilarious situations to ensue as they head out into the cosmos again!

Haim – Something to Tell You Haim hit the charts hard with their newest album full of poppy rock hits! From start to finish its a fun album. Punchy sounds that are also very lush in feel as well, striking at similar sounds to their first album, you can hear they know where they can really shine, yet still making it sound completely fresh.


Top 5 of the month

Game

Music Video

Fortnite

Linkin Park – Talk to Myself

Although currently not officially released you can pay for an early access version at the moment (it will be free when officially released though. This game feels very Minecraft meets zombie apocalypse. The idea is to build a fort to protect some valuables and once ready, attack and kill as many zombies that for some reason want your treasure! The visuals look amazing and is a really fun cooperative game for all ages!

Linkin Park’s most recent single from their new album ‘One More Light’ is a real masterpiece of pop music, with strong lyrics and a masterful sounding mix of the song. The video shows mainly clips of the tour for the album and the recording process of it all, along with some striking images of the band, in particular Chester, who took his own life on the same day this video was released. Another brilliant musician taken from us, rest in peace Chester.


What’s on Aug 10

Twist Helix / Dr Philosofunk / Borderline / SimplyPlusTwo Fulford Arms - York

Aug 12

Mouses / Eat Fast / James Leonard Hewitson / Pale Kids + More Mousetival - The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

Aug 11

Lion Papers / The Recievers / Fossa / Mice on Mars Fibbers - York

Aug 19

Kashmere / Pura Vida / Televangelists The Basement - York

Down the Rabbit Hole - Issue 14  

Our Fourteenth issue of our E-Magazine 'Down the Rabbit Hole'. Like us on FB for more content (https://www.facebook.com/MadAliceRecords/) or...