ARTIST OF THE MONTH AUGUST 2012
2X FREE ALBUMS INSIDE THIS ISSUE Page 48-49
Music News Pages 3-19
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Opinion Page 20
Reviews Pages 22 - 41
Staff Interviews Pages 42 - 47 2
Editor -in- Chief Trevor Halpin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mrueditor News Editor Feargal Daly Email: email@example.com Twitter: @feargaldaly
MRU Staff photographer Mark Oâ€™Connor Facebook: www.facebook.com/marksmagiccamera www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Writing Contributors - AUG#Issue Katriona Quinn Joe Ismail Emma Kelly Elizabeth Stammitti Jennifer Ormsby Stephen White Niall Healy Sam Geaney Darragh Mullooly Ciaran Sweeney Eamon Murray James Glynn Amy Rohu J. Casey Alexandra Das Neves Davina Brady Aaron Hennessy Niamh Madden
Hassle Merchants Bring Sense Of Danger To Irish Rock Scene
News Editor Feargal Daly
ublin rockers Hassle Merchants are getting quite a name for themselves on the festival circuit. They’re a fourpiece rock band based in Dublin whose drummer was once pronounced legally dead, and whose lead singer is apparently itching to catch up with him, with his penchant for swinging from rafters, standing on 6-foot speakers and the odd stage-dive at festivals. The band consist of members Donal Keaveney (lead vocals), Paul Russell (electric guitar), Ramsey Boutikla (bass) and Keith Russell (drums). Dangerous? Yes. Entertaining? Absolutely. With nationwide media coverage and radio airplay, this group of rock ‘n roll misfits are out to cause noise and leave audiences with a performance to remember. Their latest EP ‘A Hard Pill To Swallow’ see them turn up the volume once more and deliver the rock goods and is available now on iTunes. It won’t be hard to keep an ear out for these boys thunderous musicianship but nonetheless if you feel inclined to check out more visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/HassleMerchants
TUNES FOR YOU TO BUY Hassle Merchants new EP A Hard Pill To Swallow is available from iTunes from €8.99
Kissimmee Release Single 'This City' (+ Free Download!)
National Radio DJ Gives Radio Airplay Advice For Upcoming Musicians News Editor Feargal Daly
Famed RTÉ 2fm radio DJ Jenny Huston unveiled a blog article that gives some valuable insider information into how demos from bands are selected for airplay. Throughout the moderately lengthy piece Huston goes through all the essential “dos and don’ts” with great clarity and clear instructions on how you can be heard on local, regional and national radio stations. If you think you know what radio stations want to hear, how they want to hear it and how you should contact them then you might be surprised at how little you probably know. The radio industry is fast-moving and always changing, constantly adapting to new technologies and methods of communication. What was once deemed an acceptable path to securing radio airplay is now entirely dated and new industry standards have been set out and detailed within this blog post. Detailing everything from how to approach stations and DJs to how your music should be packaged and designed are integral elements of publicising yourself that if not followed correctly could potentially restrict publicity in the future. First impressions are everything. Take the time to read Huston’s blog and you will save a lot of time, hassle and maintain your artistic dignity and integrity. Check it out here - www.2fm.ie/jenny
London rock duo Kissimme has released their latest pop rock beast into the wild with ‘This City’. Co-produced with Frankie Torpey, (Kids Can't Fly, Blitz Kids, Vendettas) and mixed by John Mitchell (You Me At Six, Kids In Glass Houses, FFAF) 'This City', from the forthcoming EP 'Fight of Your Life', is an invigorating pop rock anthem and an ideal testament to the band's sagacity and charm. Having already played to crowds well over a thousand with the likes of Bowling for Soup, Son of Dork, and Chase & Status, Kissimmee are more than adequately prepared for the big leagues, the kind of company they're sure to joining this year. Singer Leigh Alexandra demonstrates an impressive range not too dissimilar to Paramore’s Hayley Williams, although evidently a notch grittier and more “rock” oriented. Guitarist Drew Wale proves he can conjure up simple yet effective pop rock hooks that cranks the distortion just enough to ensure that the “popiness” is diluted where the rock needs to shine. It’s a dynamic track, destined to propel the band into the arms of unsuspecting future fans. The equally infectious ‘The Cure’ is available as a free download. Swirling vocals effortlessly displaying engaging melodic progression and a heavy rhythm section coupled with the odd wailing guitar for good measure. This one is worth your time. Download ‘The Cure’ www.kissimmeerock.co.uk
Unknown Component Readies ‘Blood V. Electricity’ News Editor Feargal Daly
Unknown Component is the music project of Keith Lynch. The project is currently based out of central Iowa and features Lynch on guitars, vocals, piano and drums. It’s been two years since the release of the last album, 2010s ‘The Infinite Definitive’. The newest release titled 'Blood v. Electricity' will be available on October 23rd, 2012. Lynch is a self-taught musician who plays every instrument on all of the recordings. He is also credited with recording and mixing every album in his own independent studio. Speaking about the latest album Keith Lynch says –
“I really took my time with this album and focused more on the overall sound of each song so that all of the individual instruments were allowed to find their own space. I also put together a new, independent studio and was able to update a lot of my recording equipment, which seemed to bring out all kinds of new ideas.”
A series of shows are being put in place for a tour to support the new album. The tracklist for ‘Blood V. Electricity’ 1. Intuition 2. Nowhere Is Alone 3. Gypsies of the Apocalypse 4. Pendulum 5. Sensory Deprivation 6. Moral Vultures 7. For All Intents & Purposes 8. Dust & The Shadows 9. Painting The Weather 10. The Invisible Line
Richie Philips Demonstrates Impressive Independent Drive
Photo by Keeley Filgo
News Editor Feargal Daly
ondon based musician Richie Philips proves that in this day and age you really don’t need the backing of a label to help you get off your feet. Promoting and releasing his music from his own DIY label, Round Window Recordings, he self finances his own future and reaps all the benefits of doing so. With two singles out now to download from his bandcamp page and available in the future on major online music providers such as iTunes, Richie Philips proves he’s ready to make things happen by crafting his own future. Physical CDs will also be available at upcoming gigs but are limited in supply so all the mother worthwhile picking one up. Speaking about the creation of the tracks Richie says –
“The first track is single called I'll Save You The Trouble which was recorded at my local recording studio. I played all instruments apart from the percussion which was performed by the studios engineer. The second is a two track single called Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring b/w I'll Get By my vocals and acoustic guitar where again record at my local studio with me adding electric guitar, bass and this time myself performing percussion recorded at my home with me producing and mixing the track there myself.”
Keep an eye on MRU in the future for more news and reviews on unsigned and indie talent like Richie Philips www.facebook.com/richiephillipsmusicpage
Sign up to MRU Share, Connect, enjoy www.mrutv.com
George A. Santino Soars Towards Swing Stardom
News Editor Feargal Daly
eorge A. Santino is a Seattle-area singer, writer and motivational speaker who is making the most of his second career by embracing his passion for performing and storytelling. Recently retired from a fulfilling career at a leading software company, George has left the rat race for the Rat Pack. His debut album ‘Come Fly with Me’ is a collection of crooner classics in the style of Frank Sinatra. In addition to music, George is working on his memoirs, which tell his story of getting knocked down multiple times but always getting back up. Born in Philadelphia, PA to a family struggling to provide and growing up in a housing project where poverty and violence had a profound effect on his upbringing, George learned early on that he had to work hard to get ahead; he has a uniquely American story to tell. The album has been doing well so far, topping download charts and earning him much critical appraise from the jazz, swing and big band world. Not happy with where you’re going professionally? Take this as inspiration to do what makes you happy. If this isn’t a success story born out of getting a second shot then nothing is.
Check out his Album @
‘Midnight Empire’ Bring Face-Melting Texan Hard Rock News Editor Feargal Daly
Texas is famed for its rich country, western and rock music history and culture. With bands and musicians of a legendary status having come out of the state such as Buddy Holly, Pantera, King’s X and more, it’s no wonder that the guitar genre is alive and kicking with an itch for wider recognition. Step up Midnight Empire. Hailing from Dallas this trio have only been together for a little over a year and have already got their debut album ‘Everything and Nothing’ turning heads. Take this blurb for example “Front-man Jacob Henderson breathes soul and fire into Midnight Empire with rapturous vocals while guitar Art Struck, drums Matt Cook, and interim bass Adam Horn add unstoppable groove, under-the-skin melodies, and a killer attitude that will either have your jaw dropping or entire body raging.” Sounding just like the classics you love with a contemporary twist Midnight Empire may not offer anything especially new to the scene but they compensate for that by arguably besting the legends at their own game. These guys sound out their heart through their instruments and music, with the live experiences to back up their credentials. And who said guitar music was as dead as the dodo? Midnight Empire are yet another guitar band waiting in the wings for their wave to carry them through. Keep an ear out for these guys. Still starved for info? The album ‘Everything and Nothing’ out now and available to download. www.facebook.com/midnightempire
Download the album from iTunes for $9.90
Lewis Watson Announces Dublin Show For November
News Editor Feargal Daly
Following a completely sold-out headline tour across the UK, Lewis Watson has announced he will be coming to Ireland to play the Academy 2, November 4th. Having received over 2 million YouTube views to date, Lewis has seen his online following rapidly grow in the last year. Lewis began performing in May 2011, notching up numerous performances around the UK. Collaboration requests have flooded in from Influential and prominent artists such as Ed Sheeran, Wiley, Charlie Simpson, Scrufizzer and Aggro Santos. Lewis explains – “from a young age when I got a guitar and started covering lots of songs I would put them up on my blog or YouTube channel, as I didn’t think I was ready to perform them to an audience. Then I started getting some very generous feedback and things went from there”.
As an Independent artist Lewis released two videos in 2011. His first EP was released in April, which has received rave reviews and with new YouTube videos and covers added daily things look set to get bigger for him over the coming year. See Lewis Watson live at the Academy 2 November 4th Tickets - €8.50 (incl. booking fee). www.facebook.com/lewiswatsonmusic
Wallis Bird Set Sights On Whelan’s For Dublin Gig
T News Editor Feargal Daly
he best way to sumup an artist who combines so many different styles is with the person themselves - hence the reason for selftitling her new upcoming album. A musical magpie whose mature, self-affirming songs display an unusual emotional breath, Wallis defies categorization. The Irish artist has paid her dues, shredding her fingers and breaking string after string from the sheer force of playing on stages small and large across Europe, and throwing her entire soul into each performance with a level of energy that makes her an unassailable force of nature. Wallis Bird cannot and should not be pigeonholed easily. Capable of the delicate, gossamer-thin ballads that her tiny 5ft2 frame would suggest, she can also summon up a whirl wind of passion and rage in the blink of an eye. Her performances can transition seamlessly from the defiant anthems that can motivate thousands of festival goers into a rousing sing-along, to the most hushed and fragile ballads that can captivate an audience into a spellbound silence. ‘Wallis Bird’ was written and recorded in 3 places that, while geographically separate, were all deliberately chosen to impose their unique atmospheres onto the songs. From the communist broadcasting station in Berlin, of the former GDR where the government broadcast it’s propaganda until the Berlin wall came down, to an isolated ghost ridden cottage on a godforsaken cliff edge in Ireland during the worst snow storms in 30 years, to her own flat in Brixton South London. The result is a record that strives to make sense of the chaos around us all!
This is Wallis’s third Album which follows her debut ‘Spoons’ and 2009s ‘New Boots’, both of which saw her garner critical acclaim. A double meteor award winner in Ireland, it’s not surprising she has played at some of the biggest festivals in Europe. Wallis Bird has something special, she has
ability to mystify and captivate her audience. Her music is unpredictable and exhilarating while also being emotive and touching. See Wallis Bird live @ Whelan’s October 24th, tickets - €19 incl. booking fee on-sale now. www.facebook.com/wallisbird
Live On Line Video Broadcast Festival Launches Editor In Chief T.Halpn
Do you want to play On Line & Live?
Covering multiple "Viewing Stages" for viewers on one web site & highlighting various Alternative, Post-Punk Goth Rock, Synth Pop & Indie bands from all over the world - The DarkNet Festival is a first of it's kind anywhere. An ambitious program set to create a real buzz in the music scene and social music media the aim is not only to provide a weekend festival of live music broadcast live to viewers PC's, Laptops & Web Browsing Device whilst sitting in the comfort of their own homes but the bands themselves will be playing from homes, studios, rehearsal rooms and venues from countries all around the world. But don't let the "at home" environment make you think that it's not a fun and social occasion. Far from it. With each stage featuring it's own live chat frame you can hop from stage to stage watching various bands at scheduled times and chat in real time not only with other viewers but also the bands too. There's not a festival in the world where you can chin-wag with the band between songs and get away with it. DarkNet will be the first festival which will also have a live DarkNet OnLine Radio station running live featuring the various stages - so if you can't watch all of it you can still tune in on your mobile phone and listen in to the presenters hosting a live stream of the various band performances. So if you're a viewer or listener all you need to do is stay tuned to our various sites an affiliates for more about the bands coming on line - it's all free and costs you nothing but your time to enjoy a weekend festival of live original music in your living room. If you're a band and looking to get on one of the stages, then just use one of the many ways to contact us and we'll get you fixed up. Over the coming weeks we'll keep posting information, Q&A's and FAQ's to help answer the questions coming in on the DarkNet Festival web site at http://www.darknetfest.com Commercial Free - Cost Free & Free of 'The Weather' Stay tuned... get ready for a Winter Fest of Rock, Punk, Trip-Hop, Indie and Hard Hitting Metal... there's really going to be something for everyone - a truly social and interactive occasion. Follow the festival line up and details of what's happening using any of the following links & if
your interested in playing at DarkNet in November from your location then just get in touch: www.darknetfest.com www.facebooks.com/DarkNetFestival www.twitter.com/DarkNetFest firstname.lastname@example.org
(www.onairgigs.com) - this is the video portal site which DarkNet will be using and any band or musician can
use this site whenever they like, not just us. You'll also find information and tracks from some of the bands playing at DarkNet currently playing on the DarkNet Festival Radio which is currently streaming using the flash radio player courtesy of OnAir Tunes & RadioTuna. It's really easy to get involved and all you need is a Broadband Connection, a PC/Lap Top with a webcam and you can play live on line and join the other bands and secure your spot in the line up. www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Get Noticed by Audio Network
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Audio Network is a leading production music provider for big names such as the BBC and MTV. They work with the best composers and artists in each genre to put together a comprehensive library of music that can be used in films, TV productions, on the radio and so much more. Music on their site is pre-cleared for global and commercial use – so you never know where one of your tracks could end up if they choose to include you in the catalogue. It could be an independent film or even an episode of a reality TV program. Audio Network is offering Music Review Unsigned readers the opportunity to become part of this network and have their music in the catalogue. They’re only looking for the very best though, and here are their quality guidelines:
Quality over quantity – Audio Network customers are professional video producers, many of which have content going out on TV channels around the world, every day. The music must be of the highest quality, with strong production values.
Research – They have over 50,000 tracks in the catalogue that has been built up over the last 11 years – all of these have been assembled with TV and film in mind. Try to be original with the music you are thinking of submitting.
New Music – Audio Network are continuously looking to add depth and diversity to what they have, and young fresh talent is the way forwards.
What they do is slightly different to royalty free music, as royalties are paid to the artists when the track is used – so don’t think there is nothing in it for you. There is a guide giving more information on the process and details on what ‘royalty free music’ really means. For full details on what needs to be included with your submission , check out the Audio Network A&R page where you’ll also find the email address to submit. Once you’ve got everything together, send over a brief bio with your tracks to the email address in the guide. Every submission will be listened to, but due to the vast number of submissions that don’t hit the mark not everyone will be replied to. Successful artists/composers may receive coverage on the Audio Network blog, or even get a contract to take their career to the next level.
“We’re calling all budding producers, composers, bands and artists interested in our industry to send over their masterpieces for review. We’ll listen to them all, so follow our guidelines and make it count!” – Simon M, Marketing Director.
This is a great opportunity for any potential movie soundtrack writers, or any producers or brands who think they could do a cracking job on music for films, TV, games or other productions so get your submissions in now! www.audionetwork.com
Sunday Lane Releases New Music Video For ‘A Little Too Young’ Singer-songwriter Sunday Lane has released the music video for ‘A Little Too Young’, the first single from her full-length album ‘From Where You Are’. The Oklahoma native may just be 22 years old but that doesn’t stop her using her evident talent and flair for piano pop hooks/themes to remind us how precious time is and value the good moments in life. Sunday Lane demonstrates infectious melodies with a voice that is not only perfectly suited to pop but has enough of a unique flavour behind it that stands out in an overcrowded genre of carbon copy “musicians”. The video itself is a great compliment to the song. Its’ simple, innocent concept fits with the theme of the song itself; A longing to recapture the magic of childhood in our daily adult lives. Some may criticise its overt “popiness” but it is undeniably musical escapism at its purest form, and a cure for the drudgery of the real world. If you come away from this one without a smile then you’d want to check your pulse. www.sundaylane.com
News Editor Feargal Daly
Chris Keys Releases New Video For ‘You And I’ Chris Keys has released a new music video for his latest song ‘You And I’. The simple video is a demonstration of how great song-writing and musicianship is most important. The music video filmed and edited by Chris Keys himself shows that in this day and age you can do it all for yourself if you have the drive. Chris Keys has this and more, and seeing the success having already gained radio airplay on BBC Ulster. www.facebook.com/chriskeysofficial www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Ryan Bingham Takes The Indie Route For New Album
News Editor Feargal Daly
merican singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham has announced a November return to Dublin in support of his new Album ‘Tomorrowland’, to be released on September 18th. Not only an Academy Award winner, Ryan Bingham has also picked up both a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice award for his song ‘The Weary Kind’, which he co-penned for the 2009 film ‘Crazy Heart’. Shortly after, the Americana Music Association honoured him with their top award in 2010, ‘Artist of the Year’. Having all 3 previous albums garner critical acclaim, (Mescalito, Roadhouse Sun and Junky Star) Ryan Bingham will self release his fourth studio album ‘Tomorrowland’ on September 18th through his newly created label Axster Bingham Records. The first single, ‘Heart of Rhythm’, is due to be released July 31st. The album marks a progression for Ryan as an artist, as he said in discussing the genesis of the album –
“The decision to produce it myself with co-producer Justin Stanley was a step into unknown territory at first, but once we started recording it almost felt like it was creating itself”
He will spend September and October touring the United States before hitting Europe in November. Tickets for Ryan Bingham @ Whelan’s November 9th priced €16.50 go onsale this Wednesday, July 25th from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide and online at www.ticketmaster.ie Ryan Bingham’s new single ‘Heart of Rhythm’ is out July 31st on iTunes. www.binghammusic.com
Download the single from iTunes for $0.99
‘Old Man Luedecke’ Announces UK Tour
News Editor Feargal Daly
Two time Juno music award winner and Canadian breakthrough artist ‘Old Man Luedecke’ has is gearing up for a UK tour this August. He’ll be hitting up and down the country and venturing everywhere from London to Glasgow bringing his celebrated style of music to the fans that have waited patiently for this visit. In January 2012 Old Man Luedecke travelled to Nashville, Tennessee to record his new album ‘Tender Is The Night’ set for release in the UK in 2013. Recorded by Tim O’Brian, Nashville based folk music icon, alongside David Ferguson who has engineered nine Johnny Cash albums, as well as U2 and John Prine. Recently Old Man Luedecke teamed up with Canadian band Lake of Stew to release a free EP ‘Sing All About It’. “What names! We were born to be together” says OML. “I got a CD of Lake of Stew and after singing along a few dozen times started listening in to the voices and imagining who they were. The Mini Pops, Glee, pish, this was the group I was born to join. For a host of more information on his music, tour and more visit the official website here - www.oldmanluedecke.ca
Monday 6th – Wednesday 8th August – Sidmouth Folk Week, Devon – 01395 577952/ www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk
Tuesday 14th August – The Bicycle Shop, Norwich – www.wegottickets.com/thebicycleshop / £9/10, 8.30pm
Wednesday 15th August – Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk – 01728 687 110/ www.aldeburgh.co.uk
Thursday 16th August – The Greystones, Sheffield – 0114 266 5599/ www.mygreystones.co.uk
Friday 17th August – Fallen Angels Club, Glasgow – 0141 204 5151/ www.fallenangelsclub.com / £10. 8.00pm Friday 24th August – Purbeck Folk Festival, Swanage – www.purbeckfolk.co.uk Sunday 26th August – Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Shropshire – 01746 768813/ www.shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk
Photo by Mark Maryanovich
Monday 27th August – Old Queen’s Head, Islington London – www.theoldqueenshead.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Pop Punk Band ‘Second To Last’ Sign With Indie Label News Editor Feargal Daly
“We're still young and we're doing what we can with what we've got. We are so grateful for the newfound support and look forward to working with QYP”
inding down from their U.S. Tour, Lodi pop punk band Second to Last is excited to announce the release of their sophomore EP ‘Vessel’ through Quote Your Pulse, a nonprofit, central valley based music label. Lead singer Tyson Evans said - “We're still young and we're doing what we can with what we've got. We are so grateful for the newfound support and look forward to working with QYP.” Having shared the stage with some of the biggest names in pop punk (including The Wonder Years and The Story So Far), it is
Second to Last’s turn to steal the spotlight and cement their place as one of the genre’s leaders. Before leaving for another U.S. tour in the fall, Second to Last plan on writing their first full-length album with hopes of releasing it at the end of the year through Quote Your Pulse. ‘Vessel’ is available July 24, 2012 on 7 inch vinyl and features digital download cards with 2 bonus tracks, “Runaway” and “I Don’t Have a Business Plan.” The release is available for purchase at www.quoteyourpulse.com. ‘Vessel’ will also be released on limited edition cassette tapes and CD’s this August.
London Remixed Festival Returns This November
News Editor Feargal Daly
lobal Local recently announced was the official launch of LONDON REMIXED FESTIVAL 2012. Taking place on 24th November 2012, this is the only end of season festival taking place in the hubbub of London’s trendy East End. LRF promises this to be the after party of all after parties, bringing the best remixed talent to the capital, fresh from the dusty, muddy fields of 2012’s coolest festivals. This one ticket, multi venue city festival will offer the creativity, fun and madness, complete with buzzing atmosphere, music and daytime frolics… but without the mud, rain or hassle of camping! Venues such as Bedroom Bar, Rich Mix and Village Underground will host a live musical cocktail
of Global London, remixed for the 21st Century. From Roma to rumba, Latin beats to Afro funk, Nu folk to no folk, London Remixed is a celebration of the best emerging musical talent. Over the years Continental Drifts/Global Local have supported 100s of up and coming bands, including household names such as Florence and the Machine, MUSE and Mumford and Sons. Promising the perfect festival experience; indoor camping areas to chill out, drinks available from one of many bars, and take your pick of delicious food to munch on from tasty food stalls. Continental Drifts/Global Local are all about creating a buzzing atmosphere, they have put together some of the best line ups at the UK’s greatest, biggest
and most loved festivals such as Club DaDa at Bestival, Shangri La at Glastonbury, Lovebox, Secret Garden and many more. www.londonremixedfestival.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com
‘Dog Is Dead’ Announce Academy Dublin Show News Editor Feargal Daly
Nottingham Indie-pop band Dog Is Dead have announced an Academy 2 show for October 29th. Formed from the meeting of five lively minds in Nottingham in 2008 Dog Is Dead self-released a trilogy of singles, now available as the 'Your Childhood’ EP Captivating their home town of Nottingham almost immediately, a string of festival performances led them to the fields of Glastonbury, where they became the only unsigned band to feature on the BBC2 coverage. Second single ‘Young’ hit the Radio 1 playlist through BBC Introducing and the band played themselves in the final
episode of Skins series 5. Chapter 2 began with a tour support on the Bombay Bicycle Club October 2011 tour, and the release of ‘Hands Down’ and ‘Two Devils’. The band released their new single ‘Glockenspiel Song’ on July 22nd, with their debut album ‘All My Favourite Stories’ due out in early autumn 2012. Tickets priced €12.00 (incl. booking fee) went on sale Friday, August 3rd from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide and online at www.ticketmaster.ie Check out Dog Is Dead @ www.dogisdead.co.uk
Ben Sheridan’s ‘Hungover Wishes’ A Standout Irish EP
Ben Sheridan has been described as an “edgy” young performer relatively new to the music scene in Ireland. The young musician was given a chance, and since his breakthrough performance supporting Royseven at the Donegal Open Air Summer Festival Ben has already released two EPs. This of course all off the back of receiving significant radio airplay alongside interviews on Today FM and collaborations with RTÉ on a new music show already in the post production stages. Ben has been gigging up and down the North West with neighbouring big names, Mojo Gogo & Emily Whelan hard at work promoting his new EP, entitled ‘Hungover Wishes’, with some tour dates to be announced in the next few weeks to coincide with the release of his first music video. We recommend that you head on over to Ben’s reverbnation page and check out a few of his tunes www.reverbnation.com/bensheridanmusic
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Derry Band ‘Jo’ Ready To Launch Debut Single ‘Silhouette’ News Editor Feargal Daly
Jo is a new exciting band from Derry that mixes the style of David Bowie and Blondie to encompass they own brand of original material. They formed in 2012 and in a short space of time they have developed a fan base which has their fans talking about their colourful but intense shows. With the heavy thumping beats to the theatrical look this is a fresh new act ready to take the music scene “by the throat” according to the band. Jo Launch their debut single ‘Silhouette’ on Monday 27th August only on iTunes and playing live at Mason’s Bar Derry on Saturday 25th August with support from the ever impressive Wyldling. In order to finance the release of their single Jo took a DIY route and completed a sponsor busk over Ireland on Saturday 28th July. This saw the band visit many cities and towns over Ireland Street performing to the Irish public. For more information like them on Facebook www.facebook.com/jomusicofficial www.musicreviewunsigned.com
1989 The Iron Disguise of Modern Culture Editor In Chief T.Halpn
was browsing on the internet checking out most memorable dates in music, some historical moments and snippets of mainstream press caught my attention and I focused on one particular year, the one year that stood tall amongst all of the giants, the one year when everything changed from music genre, hairstyles and the way we dressed. The year was 1989. The soul driven god of funk and master of the moves introducing the Godfather of soul himself, take a bow Mr James Brown, it was 1989 when he started his 6 years prison sentence for evading a police chase across two states in the USA back in 1988, it only took the jury of Aiken County 3 hours to find him guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and of eluding the police. Allegedly MR funktastic was using PCP, the magic blood test was later disputed by his wife Adrienne, she claimed that her husband had never used PCP, in fact had campaigned against illegal drugs, and perhaps had just breathed in some second hand smoke. Bootleg tapes was the equivalent of illegal downloads, music piracy ran rampage across many cities throughout the world, seedy trench coat concert goers hid recording devises inside their coats capturing some of the best live show us nobles would have never heard. You could pick them up from dodgy dealers on O’Connell Bridge in Dublin city, 2 for the price of 1. But if you wanted Paul McCartney’s ‘Back in the USSR’ bootleg tape you would have had to fork out as much as $1,000 in the US, never heard of anyone paying that amount in Dublin for one. It was a great tune from a great songwriter so take note from the frog man, exclusively release a tune behind an Iron curtain and your fans will go wild and pay big money even for a bootleg tape, ah tapes I still got all of mine, unfortunately the curtain fell in 89’ so scrap that idea. On the subject of the USSR, Moscow launched The Moscow Music Peace festival and featured headline acts were Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Cinderella, and the Scorpions. Some interesting back stage stories surround this event, ironically the concert was the
ambassador to promote world peace and establish international cooperation in fighting the drug war in Russia, behind the curtain mask of the concert and music guru wannabe organiser/ rock producer and manager of Motley Crue amongst others was Doc McGhee. He was up on some drug scandal but still denied it years later “We always wanted to go over to Moscow and do the first rock show in the Soviet Union. I wanted to do their Woodstock.” Doc said in 2011. McGhee was under orders by the parole board to use his musical influence and as founder of Make a Difference Foundation he was to use his new project to help drug addicts around the world, but it all went Pete Thong for him, he had his fingers in too many pies, Lemon and meringue tastes so sweet but when you add mustard to the ingredients you ask your self was it all worth the effort. He managed most of the bands that played the concert that year, well almost, but came away with an empty dime bag after being punched, sacked and even had to take the bus home alone as his former acts refused to be on the same plane as him. It must have been an awesome weekend for McGee even though most the bands that played the gig where drug addicts themselves, justice served? Or just plain bad luck, we may never know, back to the USSR but not for McGhee. Animal lover Ozzy Osbourne was given a few bottles of Russian paint strippers in Moscow at the same show and drank them all backstage, not knowing what his name was and why he existed in the plains of sanity he tried to kill his manager/Wife Sharon Osbourne that night. It does seem like a lot went on backstage and probably more I would like to mention, I feel it would be
politically incorrect to go into real detail. The backstage is a very sacred place, only the gods of rock would be allowed to speak such thing in public, it is best left alone in my opinion, after all the bands were playing behind an Iron curtain, promoting how western culture do things downtown, rock n- roll or cock -n- bull whatever way you look at this, one thing is for sure, it was all for the love of music. Hanging around shops and looking very suspicious in a 2 dollar face mask disguise may get you into a bit of bother, maybe not imprisoned, but when jewellery store employee in California spotted a man dressed in disguise outside their store in LA they immediately called the police, as you would. The strange phenomenon was very rarely seen around these parts and in this era, Robbie Williams is known for his craft of disguises. I did hear Elvis use to cruise the Vegas strip in disguise but he wasn’t really that famous around 69’ when it was reported. It was the king of pop, the Michael Jackson, the prince on twinkle toes and the real father of Billie Jeans kid, no monkey just him hanging out at the mall, he told the police when they arrived that he had to wear a disguise because he might get mobbed. So wearing a dodgy looking moustache and glasses like the one you get from a joke store will not get you mobbed but might get you arrested, all that money and all those wolves that flocked around the king of popsicle and Michael risked it all for a ring? Who knows I wonder what his chart position was at the time, Oh wait it was the queen of pop Madonna who held the top chart positions that year, marriage made in heaven, eh no I don’t think so, she was being crucified by the blue rinses that year and church goers over her video Like A Prayer, all hail the queen of pop and stone her till she drops, we live in an era of censorship burn your music tapes and wear your bra for god’s sake.
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Rain Must Fall Wednesday Starts the Weekend Review by Elizabeth Stammitti Rain Must Fall is a North American band that has released their debut album,Wednesday Starts The Weekend, which, as the title might imply, is filled with fun and simple alternative rock songs with a touch of poppunk to make the listeners have a good time. The downside is that the first seven tracks become repetitive fast, since they sound almost the same and they area bit formulaic, but the last four songs expand and play a little with the style presented on the first songs, and that’s when the album improves a great deal. It seems that the band is clear with the type of music they want to create, but they keep the sound tied to the boundaries of their style, thus making the record as a whole a bit stiff. Having said that, I don’t think the first songs are awful at all, they are actually good, easy-listeningand cheerful rock pieces with
melodic choruses, helped by both female and male back-up vocals (all in the vein of The Knack’s My Sharona), but, overall, they give the impression that there wasn’t much thought given to the composition, and, by the time the (eight) song Parallel begins, the rupture with the previous songs is clear: this is a soft tune with a sweet guitar riff and softer vocal lines that suit the vocalist’s tone much better (including the female back-up vocals). Then, we have the song Borderline, another great track that separates itself from the first songs, with a beautiful bridge, sort of nostalgic guitar notes that intertwine with the vocals and a melodic, emotional chorus. One of the best songs on the album, no doubt. Borderline is followed by Suit Yourself, which starts with a playful guitar riff and a catchy drum beat, adding vocal lines that
reach short but nicely done high tones, with an extremely commercial chorus and a fantastic, melodic, guitar solo. The band decides to close the record with an acoustic piece, All in all, another good song with an uplifting chorus, detailed guitar work and emotive vocal lines and back-up vocals. Maybe the problem I see with this album is related to how the songs are organized, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they do have too many songs sounding the same. Even so, they’re not bad, just some of them are unnecessary. Once you get past that, and taking into account that the last four songs do freshen things up, Rain Must Fall is a promising bandwith commercial appeal, that deserves to be heard, so go ahead and give them a try. www.facebook.com/RainMustFall
Ali Ingle The Man and the Monster Review by Katriona Quinn
Liverpudlian singer/songwriter Ali Ingle has released his debut EP titled ‘The Man and the Monster’. Mellow, easy on the ear and laden with rich vocals, Ingle’s music won’t disappoint. Armed with his powerful vocals, warm melodies and intriguing lyrics, this EP is an interesting start for Ali Ingle that is sure to develop into future projects. Without a doubt the stand-out track on this EP is ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. Ingle’s strong voice is beautifully complimented by the uplifting piano score. His powerful, yet warm, voice really makes this song come alive and you’ll be singing along with the catchy chorus before long. ‘Tornado’ sounds like it was made for summer. The drums lay a soft, solid base for the plucky guitar and smooth violin. Normally tinkling bells in the background don’t work but here they are the icing on the cake. ‘Baby don’t go’ really shows off Ingle’s skills as a singer/songwriter. The music doesn’t stand out against the other tracks mentioned but the softer sound allows Ingle’s voice to shine through and really be appreciated. This EP shows a lot of promise and wouldn’t be out of place alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran, Newton Faulkner or Damien Rice. Definitely worth a listen if you’re a fan of these artists. Check out ‘The Man and the Monster’ on Ali Ingle’s website @ www.aliingle.co.uk
Review by Joe Ismail Coldside describe themselves as an Urban/Rock outfit mixing the two genres of hip hop and rock together. Recently, the group have attracted some attention to themselves opening for large artists such as Tinchy Strider, performing at FrankFest and Rugby Rocks Festival 2012 and even performing at the City of Manchester Stadium multiple times to an audience exceeding 45,000 people. Their single, ‘Faded’ has also so far been a success. It has featured on the radio nationwide and has recently been put on BBC 1xtra’s playlist. It opens with an electronic beat and introduces the bass line which is carried out throughout the whole song. The vocals are one which deserves praise as it is clear that there is talent here. During the verse there is a strong urban vibe where it is more talk which is great in front of such a distinguishable backline; however the chorus
is where we hear the rock and pop influence shine. It also shows the vocalists ability to sing too, something which many hip hop artists regrettably, cannot do. In the chorus there is also the addition of a guitar playing the key power chords over the bass adding the extra rock feel to it, nevertheless the song is still able to retain its urban style with the volume of the instruments being quietened and slightly dubbed.
This single is impressive and is an example of a successful blend of two opposite genres which much of the time can end in disaster. The single may lack some substance and could have potentially been more adventurous at times, yet it still has a good pop sounding hook which is why there is no amazement that the tune has gained the success it has. www.facebook.com/ColdsideOfficial www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Murdakkh The Warm Up
Review by Jennifer Ormsby Listening to the slick beats and significant lyrics of Murdakkh, this reviewer had her head bopping by the end of the first track. His EP The Warm Up is filled with ever so thought out beats that is carried through each song. It is evident that Murdakkh focuses on the music as much as the lyrics which can be hard to find in most artists on the scene at the moment. By far the best track on the EP is ‘’Top of my Game’’. It shows Murdakkh at ‘pardon the pun’ top of his game, the lyrics and the beats are the best. They show how talented this guy is. The other tracks on the EP don’t let him down either as there is no faults in Murdakkh. Each song tells a story from his struggles to American life which makes every song unique. If you’re a fan of Lupe Fiasco or any hip hop music you will love Murdakkh. If the EP is just the warm up I say roll on the next instalment. www.facebook.com/Murdakkhmusic
The Dark Lights The Boy That Saw Through Walls Review by Ciaran Sweeney
‘The Boy That Saw Through Walls’ is the latest EP from London-based Australian band The Dark Lights. The Dark Lights are an indie electronica band that merges elements from rock, pop, indie and electronica. The first track on the EP is ‘The Eye’. The song begins with an early Arctic Monkeys style guitar riff before the dynamic dramatically changes with the introduction of vocals. The song’s heavily layered production is bright and uplifting. They are definitely a band on the ‘poppier’ side of indie. ‘Makers’ is the second track. The hypnotic opening motif acts as the thread that keeps it all together. Some really nice harmonies are delivered in the chorus. ‘Taking Thought’ is an interesting track that opens with an electronic drum pattern which is set off by an interrupting guitar riff. The guitar riffs in this one are really well worked and compliment the tune really well. The chorus vocals are very catchy. ‘I Keep Counting’is a short track but again one that is packed full of attractive melodies. This one disappointingly and unexpectedly ends before the song is fully explored. Overall I think The Dark Lights have plenty strings to their bow. They have great melodies, sounds and lyrics which all combine to make even greater songs. www.facebook.com/thedarklights
Peter Boyne Disguise My Fear Review by Sam Geaney
Peter Boyne is an 18 year old, singer/songwriter from Drimnagh in Dublin. He released his debut album, “Disguise My Fear”, on the 25th of May with the debut single coming out a week before. Disguise My Fear is a 12 track album with songs varying from acoustic ballads to folk and indie rock as well as even having some electronic aspects. It is an album dominated by love yet it manages to display the variety of style in this young talent. His website lists his influences as Paolo Nutini, Damien Rice, Declan O’Rourke, Ed Sheeran and James Morrison though many more can be heard in his music. Other influences such as Bon Iver, Tracy Chapman and The xx appear to be present too. It is a very melodious, relaxing album and Boyne’s voice has a very warm tone to it. The album is well-produced and it flows
throughout even with the varying styles contained within the album. It is a very strong debut release and the songs would not sound amiss on any of Dublin’s biggest radio stations. The first single, “Georgia”, is a love song. It is one of the strongest songs on the album, though there are a lot more single potentials. The intro to the song works very well, with the vocals and backing chords being reminiscent of The xx. The chorus is another strong point in the song and the transition from the chorus to the string break is crafted beautifully before returning to a verse.The instruments are mixed very well and the synths and effects are well managed. Though a large quantity of the songs surround the topic of romance, such as the title track and “Closer To Me”, the musical style varies greatly. One example of this is
“Her Brown Eyes”. This song is a lament and has a less upbeat vibe to that of “Georgia”, relying more heavily on acoustic guitar than “Georgia”. Another big variation in style in a love song is the second track, “Oh How I Wish”. This is probably the most upbeat song of the album and, despite some of the subject matter, could work very well as a summer song and on the festival circuit. Overall, “Disguise My Fear” is a very strong debut, especially from such a young artist. The album has great variety in the music and is very well produced and written. Peter Boyne looks set for bigger things so keep an eye out for his name in the near future as this is clearly a very talented artist. www.peterboynemusic.com
Eazy Tyger Earn Your Stripes
Holy Vessels Springtime Bloom
Review by Eamon Murray
Review by James Glynn
Eazy Tyger are not for the faint hearted, it’s big, loud and unashamed stadium rock. Face-melting solos, it’s music that one may want to bang their head to. The opening number of this full length studio album ‘B.O.N.E’ has it all, the solos, the vintage rock ‘n’ roll lyircs, things like- “I got a one way ticket.. she’s got fire in her eyes...she cuts me to the bone”, catch the drift? If so, get your devil horns to the ready. The whole album never really ventures to far from the already classic structure, you can tell a mile off where the songs are heading, usually to another solo. The choruses often see the rest of the band weighing in with a few call and answer backing vocals, Iron Maiden style. The title track ‘Earn Your Stripes’ is an American influenced rocker with a slightly different groove to the rest, but lines like- ‘“Earn Your Stripes... I’m ready for the fight’” that we’re back to the feeling that we’ve heard plenty of songs like this before. ‘Bittersweet’ starts with an acoustic guitar riff which is a welcome treat mid way through the record, a change of texture and you can hear the quality that singer Neill Marshall has. The lads can all play, there’s no doubt about that, they’re not relying on modern studio effects or noise making machines, it’s back to the ‘get good on your instrument’ school of thought, hats off to that attitude, not enough of it these days. They are tight and as a straight up rock ‘n’ roll sound, it’s good. I mean, this style of band has had it’s day, but just because it’s no longer the rage doesn’t mean it isn’t decent. Eazy Tyger aren’t covering any ground that hasn’t already been heavily trodden but whatever, there’s always time for a spot of unashamed classic rock, always. www.facebook.com/eazytyger
'Springtime Bloom' is the debut single from new Brighton band 'Holy Vessels' and features on their forthcoming album "Last Orders at the Marshall Arms". The record is produced by Iain Harvie, known for his collaborations with likes of The Maccabees and Del Amitri, and has all the attributes to be a great summer hit. The upbeat rhythm and soft melody featured on the track, nicely intertwining acoustic guitar with piano, seems to be a popular sound at the moment, with bands like Bombay Bicycle Club and the Mystery Jets currently experiencing a surge in popularity. The vocals are unspectacular yet distinct, as you would expect from a poppy, soft-rock tune like this, whilst the catchy beat is one that will easily have you tapping or humming along to before long. Having an accomplished, 'feel good' sound it is highly evocative of good times in the sunshine, (as you might expect from the title) ultimately making this a very hard tune to either dislike or ignore. In fact, such is the nature of the track that I am almost 100% sure that the accompanying video (if there is one) will contain the usual positive, Summery imagery, which although has been done a million times before, would be a perfect fit here you would have to say. With their debut album set to be released later this year, the band may have tapped into the right market at just the right time with this undeniably catchy opener, although I will be expecting a bit more variety on the record as a whole. Altogether, a very light, yet enjoyable first single from the band, and certainly one that holds promise for the future. www.facebook.com/holyvessels
VIEW John Wean Holly Drummond New York Doesn’t Love You Cloud Nine Review by Emma Kelly
It’s hard to write a good love song nowadays these days that feels modern. Gone are the days of meeting a boy/girl and courting them. No, if you want to write a truly modern love song, you have to include technology. And that’s just what Scottish band John Wean have done. Their new single “New York Doesn’t Love You” is, in the band’s own words, a song about a boy who falls for a girl, then proceeds to stalk her on Facebook to find that she has a boyfriend. We’ve all been there. Perhaps this is why the song is so good. “New York Doesn’t Love You”mix of pop and alt rock that is reminiscent of fellow Scots The View- good guitar rhythm, and hook-laden (the “New York doesn’t love you like I do” chorus is ridiculously catchy”). While this style of pop rock is nothing new, it has fallen off the radar in recent years for much more indie bands, but John Wean could be the ones to bring it back. Vocalists Conor Cartwright and Jude Smith include their Scottish lilts on the lyrics, and make for an altogether charming band. Inoffensive, catchy and from a talented group of guys- the perfect single really. www.facebook.com/johnwean
Review by J.Casey
Cloud Nine is the latest EP from 18 year old singer songwriter Holly Drummond. Before I even listened to the 6 track EP, I already had a preconception of what the EP would be like. When I think teenager/female/singer songwriter I can’t help but think of an angsty Avril Lavigne wannabe with a guitar. But, Avril she ain’t! The Edinburgh native has an unexpectedly mature voice that is smooth on the ears, and a beautiful songwriting approach. Musically, the arrangement and instrumentation are spot on and only made more impressive after finding out that she recorded, played, sung and wrote every song on the EP. Her voice compliments the acoustic guitar, piano and cello tracks perfectly and whether you like acoustic music or not, it is evident on first listen that this girl is talented. She takes inspiration from Regina Spektor, and this is clear in her singing style... but to me she sounds like a female Damien Rice. Despite the maturity in her voice and music, her lyrics could be pages out of any teenage girls’ diary. Subject matter like having a crush, or wanting to be your own person come up again and again, but this is by no means a bad thing. It’s sweet, and likeable. Although it is an impressive EP from a talented budding artist, I think that this EP could have found its feet in the boom of early 2000s female singer songwriters. It lacks the edge you need to burst into mainstream in 2012. Having said that, the teenage girl demographic will love it and I hope that this EP does well. www.facebook.com/HollyDrummondMusic
the Matinee Idles Someone Somewhere
Go Fiasco Demo review
Review by Niall Healy
Review by Amy Rohu
This latest number from the Matinee Idles upcoming album "a festival of colours" (due out sometime in 2013) and on the back of this single and 2010’s ‘Everything’ it promises to be an eclectic affair. ‘I really need to get out of here. Someone, somewhere take me home’ lead singer Kevin Barry implores. The Dubliner’s vocal is genuine with an air of quiet desperation, hovering at the back of the track in a tune that comes over all dark and lowdown. It’s a sombre, uneasy affair laden with longing. So far, so low key but from about the one minute mark the unnerving drums and guitar suddenly build in volumeand intensity, they rise to a real crescendo of menace before suddenly shuddering to an abrupt halt. At a little over three minutes the single doesn’t outstay its welcome. An upbeat summer number this isn’t. It comes off a little Zooropa meets Kid A era Radiohead down a dark alley, which isn’t a bad thing if you can imagine such a sonic marriage. This latest release from the Idles shows enough promise to mark Barry’s band as one to watch out for in 2012. www.facebook.com/thematineeidles
Go Fiasco are a band that you’ll probably be hearing more of in the near future and after listening to their music it is hard to think that this band are unsigned. They sound like an established group rather than one that’s trying to make it in the industry. Currently a three piece, the band is from Liverpool and are influenced by The Who, The Clash and The Ramones. You can hear these influences coming out in their music but make no mistake, this group has a name to make for themselves and doesn’t need to sound like anyone else. ‘Adore The Cure’ is one of their stronger songs and begins with a guitar intro to rival a classic Metallica one and although the band is in the indie/rock genre, there is potential there to experiment with a heavier sound. ‘Just like a Ghost’ begins with intricate guitars and this style seems to be a trend with Go Fiasco, there is a lot of focus on what’s going on behind the vocals throughout each track and the end result is spectacular. Lead vocalist Daniel Duggan has that classic English sound and his voice is easy to listen to and at times he sounds a little like Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. Their lyrics are honest but don’t sound at all generic. ‘Sweet As Pie’ is another strong track by the band and has a focus on drums towards the end, like the others it sounds extremely professional and could be released as a single without any editing needed. ‘Gentleman’s Rule Book’ like the other three tracks, combines all of the member’s talents and creates a unique and fresh sound. Overall this band has a very professional, mature sound and their songs are easy to listen to and likeable. They have put a huge amount of effort into each track and Go Fiasco is a band with enormous potential for a very bright future. www.soundcloud.com/go-fiasco
VIEW Futurism So Long December
Daniel Jones Forever in disguise
Review by Emma Kelly
Review by Niall Healy
I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never before heard of the genre ‘easycore’. But if Cashel five-piece Futurism is an example of it, then I’m pretty sure I could get into it. A slightly more low-key and accessible version of punk, and reminiscent of bands like The Used and a Day to Remember, the guys’ sophomore EP “So Long December” is packed with rock tunes that don’t require you getting whiplash to enjoy. Opening track “The Endless Fight” is an energetic introduction to the band, with plenty of raw riffs that freshen up the usual pop punk drumming rhythms. There’s a much different flavour on “The Murder of You and I”; a slow and emotional acoustic ballad that showcases lead singer Darcy’s strong vocals. It’s also nice to hear rock singers embracing their natural accents- you can definitely hear a bit of Irish twang on certain lyrics, which adds a charm and individuality to the band. The EP standout for me is “Now It’s All Black”, in which the opening bars reminded me of My Bloody Valentine, before launching into an Incubus-esque track, where the emphasis is on the vocals and the “woah oh oh” hook. For an EP with just six tracks, Futurism really show a variety of styles and showcase that they’re definitely not a one trick pony. This is a band that can be enjoyed by those who fancy themselves as rockers, or the alt crowd, or the pop punk lovers, and have produced an impressive collection to prove that they deserve the attention. www.facebook.com/futurismmusic
Forever in Disguise is the first album from Corkonian singer songwriter Daniel Jones. This release is already mildly infamous for having its cover art banned from Myspace. Apparently nudity isn’t for album covers. One wonders what they would have made of Roxy Music or Nirvana’s betterknown efforts. Thankfully Jones has delivered a collection of songs that are far more noteworthy than any online artistic quibble. It’s an impressive debut from Jones. Opening track ‘Rip it Up’ is reminiscent of early Sleeper with a touch of The Replacements thrown in for good measure. It’s a fine start to an album that delivers more than its fair share of impressive tracks. On ‘Fragments of a lover’ a piano and string driven number, Jones shows the kind of bombast and soaring vocal we normally associate with balladeers like Ed Harcourt. Jones never allows things to tip over into the mawkish though and executes the kind of heartfelt delivery that runs throughout the album. Other highlights include the delightfully scuzzy, feedback driven guitar of ‘Bouquet’ and the more low key but tuneful ‘Hollywood Start’. There’s a plaintiveness and genuine quality to Jones’ voice that sucks in the listener and makes you want to come back for more. ‘Taunting the tide’ closes the album and is a haunting, melodic finish to proceedings. The wheel isn’t being radically reinvented here but all in all it’s a damn fine rookie effort from Jones that showcases a promising addition to the singer songwriter stable. www.danieljones.bandcamp.com/album/forever-in-disguise
Seven Summits Fossils
Cobra Cocktail Sin and Tonic
Review by Niall Healy
Review by Emma Kelly
Cast your memory back to 2009. Remember when Seven Summit’s self-titled debut assaulted the charts and dominated the airwaves? Me neither. Unfortunately their first long player whilst critically well received pretty much tanked commercially. Lesser bands might have slunk off into obscurity but the Belfast quintet have gone all Alan Partridge and are bouncing back with a new album fossils. The good news is that it’s an absolute delight. It’s a standout long player with oversized swathes of pop assaulting your senses like a melodic blitzkrieg. They’ve crafted some fantastic moments on a record that fizzes with invention and relentlessly upbeat tunes. They wear their Grandaddy influences on their sleeves with opener ‘Sooner or Later’. It zips along on a wave of synth and drums and is a good indicator of what’s to come. ‘Burning heart’ is the standout track for me, its three minutes and thirty seconds of shimmering indie pop perfection (with a knowing nod to Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’). It’s an instantly catchy and infectious number that has already been nominated for a Northern Irish Music Award and should do well if there’s any justice in the world. Other highlights include the understated, synth laden ‘I want somebody’ and upcoming single ‘The Worrier’. It might be a relatively short journey through the album’s ten tracks but it’s far from an unpleasant one. It’s not over the top to say that on their sophomore effort Seven Summits manage the dual feat of being both quality popsmiths and fine purveyors of lyrical goodness. This album is a bit special and on the strength of this release it seems only a matter of time before people start taking notice of this band. www.facebook.com/sevensummitsni
When listening to a new band and trying to understand them, I often look to how the band chose their name. So when I read that Cobra Cocktail called themselves after the foreign custom of taking shots out of cobra hearts, I guessed that these guys might be a bit eclectic. And I was right- the three members of this US metalcore band have very varying music tastes- everything from Whitesnake to Children of Bodom. But this is a good thing, as it makes their sound stand out from your run of the mill rock band. The guys’ first EP “Sin and Tonic” is a record heavily reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold- mixing screaming guitar riffs and heavy drum beats with coherent lyrics (something most metalcore bands tend to lack). Opening track “The Plague” is a six minute long drama-fest, with an orchestral intro and emotionladen vocals, while “Higher Power” is a harder rock affair with wailing Trivium-esque guitar on the choruses. “I Will Wait For You” is the EP standout, with technically great guitar rhythm at the beginning and an echo of Blind Guardian/Dream Theater, plus aggressive growling backing vocals. Something that did play oddly on my ears is Luke Rossin’s prominent American accent on the vocals. This is not a bad thing, but something that you usually don’t hear on metalcore records it’s usually a snarling screaming affair, so on first listen, the conversational tone in his voice is a bit jarring. However, it does lend more emotion and a heck load more drama. All in all, a dramatic and technically well-made EP. www.facebook.com/cobracocktail
VIEW Fjords Dead Diamonds
The Velocity Raptors I, Donna
Review by Alexandra Das Neves
Review by Stephen White
This Cardiff-based band FJords with their music atmosphere, takes you back to the 80´s. Don´t be alarmed if the 80’s revival doesn’t bring you back any memories, since they have enough energy and musical aesthetic that the emergent generation seeks for. “Russian Doll” is a fusion of the late 70´s disco sound with a twist of modern indie rock. The highlight of this tune is the catchy chorus. “Shinjuku” is a courageous mix of synths and a bit of British punk. With minimal guitar riffs, “Shinjuku” hasn’t got a strong chorus as the previous, but is still the highlight of the tune. “Dead Diamonds” reflects influences of Bowie and Depeche Mode, and potentially a soundtrack that shows us the versatility of this growing band. Probably the single for the Ep release “Dead Diamonds” on the 24th September 2012. “Say it as it is” has a straight forward beat, with torn guitars and synths that resemble the 70’s progressive rock (Emerson Lake and Palmer). They found the magic formula for their cohesive sound, however there´s a lot of improvements to be done in the future. The Ep due for release in September has a retro sonority which improves their creativity, although it lacks maturity to take them to another level. www.facebook.com/wearefjords
Coming out of Manchester, instrumental post-rock band The Velocity Raptors look to subvert the genre with their new two track EP I, Donna. The band mix punk sensibilities with the more melodic progressive sound of post-rock to create an interesting blueprint for the future. Just as the post-punk bands of Manchester in the eighties moved away from punk, The Velocity Raptors are moving away from post-rock to create a style of their own. From the opening track, ‘I Swam In The Gulf and Got Oil Wet’ the listener is immediately remindedof fellow Manchester native and instrumental rock godfather Vini Reilly and the Durutti Column. As the piece progresses, the punk influence starts to take over, creating a sonically interesting combination between the two styles. Although this is disrupted by the drumming pattern underneath, which at times can be too distracting and lacking in subtlety. However, it is in the second piece ‘Oh Look A Chinese Baby’ that The Velocity Raptors begin to find their sound. The rhythmical and melodic parts come together and a sense of urgency is created. The band finds the right balance between the contrasting influences, composing a compelling sonic landscape. I, Donna is an interesting genre mixing EP that challenges the rules of the post-rock genre. Although it is a flawed effort, the band show real signs of promise and with a more considered approach The Velocity Raptors could provide an album of note. www.facebook.com/TheVelocityRaptors
No Room For Giants Señor Swings
Twin Planets Self Titled
Review by Stephen White
Review by Davina Brady
London based soul-punk outfit No Room For Giants take inspiration from the Boss, and produce Señor Swings a hard-hitting E.P from an exciting young band sure to grow with each new recording. As the title track Señor Swings begins with a crash of cymbals, the listener is instantly remindof Springsteen circa The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle. The composition changes sonically, as the band explores modern influences, reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem. It quickly becomes apparent that this is a band that is aware of its roots and how they want to progress their sound. The highlight of the E.P. comes with the acoustic ballad 'Cool Hand Marley'. The piece begins with a countrystyle introduction, followed by a beautiful vocal performance from lead singer Emily Pickering. "Is this what they call growing up?" asks Pickering with a sense of real connection to the lyrical content. Although the E.P seems too clean cut and lacking in real edge sonically, this is only a minor fault and can be examined during their next recording. Señor Swings is a perfect example of a well-executed E.P serving as an intriguing introduction to an exciting young band. www.facebook.com/noroomforgiants
Twin Planets hail from Manchester/UK , the five piece band have released their self-titled debut EP. Their EP begins with a highly percussive sound and a definite electronic influence. Stairs which is the first track is certainly catchy and I love what they do musically. However the vocal lines are very pop rock which can add a cheesiness to the sound. Yet it does resolve in the ending of the song. As the EP progresses to track two Discothequer, this pop rock sound distances itself a bit in the verses but returns for the choruses. This is the same for the rest of the EP. The electronic sound I feel aims to rid the music of this genre but it fails to in my opinion. In its entirety, musically this is a very good and quite a progressive EP but melodically it doesn’t seem to fit. From listening to it over and over again, it appears the ideas are there but that they have not been thought out enough. Production wise it’s great, love the mix but I feel ‘Twin Planets’ need to assess their sound – they could be great as musically it is defiantly there. Rate out of 6 is 4 why? the vocal lines are too samey, I have heard them all before but musically they are defiantly worth checking out. www.facebook.com/twinplanetsmusic
VIEW Moody Roots Self Titled
Blancatransfer Electric Light
Review by Stephen White
Review by Niall Healy
Cork based soul/funk group Moody Roots produce a compelling album, that many younger bands could learn lessons from. Mixing reggae, soul, gospel and funk, Moody Roots is an eclectic effort from a group of musicians, serious about their craft. The opening track Lucky starts with a slow grooving drum pattern accompanied by a relaxed, yet soulful, guitar melody. The rhythm section is tight and provides a considered backing track to the lead vocal. From the start it becomes apparent that this is a band that have worked on each element of their compositions. The mood of the album then changes with Does She Love Him, a reggae influenced track, which includes a well-written brass section. The piece provides a shift in tempo for album and succeeds in keeping the listeners interest. Industrial Scene is the albums stand out track. A slow moving piano ballad accompanied by a grooving percussion section and a gospel choir. Once again the Moody Roots provide harmonic and melodic progression behind lead singer Terry Datson’s, Peter Gabriel styled vocal. Moody Roots is a grooving funk laden album, borrowing from various musical genres that never seem to clash. The compositions are thoughtful and have a real sense of emotional connection. One criticism of the album is that it won’t set the music scene alight with something new and exciting, but that doesn’t seem to be the point the Moody Roots are trying to make. www.moodyroots.com
When I listened to the intro for ‘Electric Light’, for some reason I thought of ZZ Top. It’s probably just me but the bearded classic rockers sprang to mind for a fleeting two or three seconds. Sanely enough the rest of this track does NOT sound like a single from the Top. ‘Electric Light’ is the latest single from Blancatransfer, surely the first three piece to spring forth from such disparate musical surroundings as Clonmel & Madrid . The blurb goes that Limerick born Singer/Guitarist Derek Corrwho is based in the Spanish capital keeps in touch with the rest of the band through social media and their music is made via sending demos back and forth. Working across two countries must make for a difficult songwriting process but they manage to pull it off with this release. It’s a simple enough melody that is powered along by an electronic sounding percussion section. If I had to offer a comparison here I’d say there’s more than a strong hint of Duran Duran to this song. The band’s other material has a rougher edge but ‘Electric Light’ has a polished feel to it reminiscent of the kind of pop that will be coming to an Eighties electro night near you. It’s not the finished article by any means but going on this single the Hiberno-Iberian experiment is moving in the right direction. www.blancatransfer.com/fr_home.cfm
The Cheek of Her Passionate Shit
Benjamin Johnson Everything
Review by Niall Healy
Review by Emma Kelly
‘Passionate Shit’ is the debut E.P. release from London based ‘The Cheek of Her’ A.K.A. singer Helen Dooley and co. They started out as a duo in 2010 and have gradually become a fully fledged band along the way. In many ways it’s a straight up 90s rock revival record, all guts and ballsy angst a la Skunk Anansie. Opening track ‘Free’ is all about kicking a no good partner to the kerb and how ‘I am enough’, Alanis would be proud. Girrrl power indeed. It’s a guitar driven number that packs plenty of vocal punch and set the tone for the rest of this five track E.P. ‘Lies’ for me is the best song on this E.P. It’s a spunky, unapologetic rocker that could be Gwen Stefani in her No Doubt heyday. It’s a catchy, angry number that leaves the listener battered into aural submission. Dooley’s vocal soars here and allied with a spiky guitar arrangement delivers a quality track. Like any debut it doesn’t always work. ‘27’ deals with musicians who have checked out of existence at the same age. It’s a clunky lowlight for me and plays more like a list than a fully developed idea. That said there are enough positives here to outweigh any complaints. The band makes no bones that their sound is an attempt to escape from the saturation of ‘Pop / RnB leotard wearing blandness’. There’s rawness to the vocal here that is never going to be confused with the polished autotune of the latest model off the reality show production line. The E.P. is awash with references to doomed love affairs and not caring about the one who got away. It never gets maudlin but rails against missed opportunity. They’re a pleasantly angry sounding group who have created an interesting debut. www.thecheekofher.com
London singer-songwriter Benjamin Johnson draws his style and performance from the most varied list of artists I’ve ever seenJames Blake, Jessie J, James Morrison, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry… but if I were to compare Johnson to anybody, it would be The Script. And even though I don’t like The Script, I really liked Johnson’s debut single, “Everything”. Coming off his soon-to-be-released debut EP, “Everything” is a mish-mash of beautiful, heartfelt vocals, guitar-driven alt-pop and tinkling electronics. Johnson’s voice is raw and honest, and very likeable. The first few lines are almost chit-chatty, but display the tone that the guy possesses in his vocal ability. And with painladen lyrics like “Who am I to judge you when I’m who’s deceiving”, this is a song that will connect with a lot of music fans. Johnson can be compared to The Script in his songwriting skills and subject matter, but brings a much more likeable and honest vibe to proceedings than Danny O’Donoghue. While the growling on several bars is a bit off putting and doesn’t suit the song, this is a very radio-friendly tune that should garner this talented musician some attention. www.facebook.com/BenjaminJohnsonUK
VIEW Towma Rockets and Ideas
Tigerface Out Of The Dark
Review by Alexandra Das Neves
Review by Stephen White
Towma are Hugh Anderson (lead vocals and stage piano), Will Davies (Bass and Backing Vocals) and Mark Stormont (Drums, Percussion and Backing Vocals). It may come as a surprise to you that this remarkable trio is London based, With sunlight melodies, they are undeniably real musicians with loads of groove and musicality. “Rocket to the moon” from their Ep Rockets and Ideas, notoriously perceives a low progression towards the end, with jazzy twist chords mixed with classical arpeggios. Great rhythm and backing vocal harmonies! “Tracks” shows the emotional side of Towma. Mark, the “no notes” of the trio (Drummer), translates much respect to each detail and duets beside Hugh´s voice. “Not a king” is a cool relaxing tune, which highlights the piano that is technically less evident, yet in terms of harmony, it shows good taste and importance of the previous in this trio. “Mydea of a Life” is an upbeat tune that puts you in a great mood, gathers something unexpected. The bass goes along side with the drummer´s tight playing, which demonstrates their maturity. Towma has great potential for stardom, with real professionals that seem to take their work seriously. They fill the gap between generations with great musical background. www.towma.com
Out Of The Dark is the latest release from indie synth rock outfit Tigerface. Merging hard rocking guitars with synth pop sensibilities, the E.P. is a raw and energetic effort from the Arizona natives, that gives the listener an alternative take on synth rock. What sets Tigerface apart from their peers within the indie synth rock genre is the bands classical scoring of their synthesizer parts, which give harmonic and melodic support to the heavier straight up rock styling’s at the bands core. This is first seen in Jellyfish, a hook laden track which starts with a musical box sounding piano and then turns into a much louder affair, making good use of the bands dynamics. However it is in the piece In The Lions Den that the band commits fully to their classical leanings, especially in the string and tuned percussion introduction. The composition also showcases the bands metal influences with a section of the song using harmonized guitar melodies comparable to Iron Maiden. One criticism of the E.P is that while experimenting with less genre specific elements, the band never stray far from the more stereotypical characteristics of the genre, and at times start sounding closer to 30 Seconds To Mars. Out of The Dark is a powerful, edgy E.P, which has given a breath of fresh air to a genre in danger of becoming stale. With this release Tigerface have shown that they are an intelligent and hungry young band, capable of creating something very interesting indeed. www.tigerface.com
House of Dolls Welcome To The Department Of Nuclear Medicine Review by Aaron Hennessy
Lör Self Titled
Review by Elizabeth Stammitti Lör is a progressive power metal band from North America that’s about to release their first EP. Musically, the band is in top form, but the vocals are not quite there yet, which is a shame because the music is great: we have intricate melodies, some catchy choruses, rhythm changes that cover the whole possible spectrum, excellent riffs and enough experimentation to push the boundaries of the power metal genre. The first track, Requiem, opens with the drum beat, quickly introducing the rest of the instruments as they all maintain the initial rhythm, until it shifts, according to the guitar riff, into the usual power metal fast pace. Then, the vocals jumpin and, as I’ve mentioned, they disappoint, sounding flat sometimes. The melody changes throughout the song, featuring the typical epic chorus. There’s one outstanding instrumental passage, reminiscent of Dream Theater, with a great guitar solo that uses the melody of the chorus to accelerate the rhythm again. The next track, The Dark Cloud, is a short power metal tune that never slows
down,containing somesuperb guitar work, which is the main focus of the song, since it carries the whole track from beginning to end.The chorus isn’t as catchy as in the first song, but it’s still dramatic. The last track, Song for the Lost, is another lengthy tune, but this time it starts slow, establishing the atmospherewith the guitar, heavily influenced by an oriental sound, which is later enhanced by the entrance of both the bass and the drums. Then, we only hear the guitar, creating a fantastic riff (still with oriental influences)which turns extremely heavy with the company, again, of the rest of the instruments. As it happened with the first track, the rhythm alternates between fast paced, power metal passages, mid-tempo and slow ones, which make room for some neat progressive melodies, maintaining the oriental touch that serves to take the song to another level. Overall, Lör is a band worth listening to, but they need to make improvements in the vocals’ department to make them really stand out from similar bands. www.facebook.com/halloflor
House of Dolls' new album is a pogniant record, made all the more so by outstanding vocal efforts throughout. The record displays a crass confidence, which embodies all great rock n' roll, and this album is just that. The album begins with the guitar driven 'I Thought You Were My Friend', an opening which promises alot, all of which the album provides: driving bass, thumping drums, dirty, hypotnotic guitar; in a term, badass rock n' roll. The record is brimming with cool, sleeky songs such as Prostitutes and Ills tracks dripping in sex and grit. The momentum is effortlessly upheld throughout. The drums are persistent, as are the crisp guitar riffs. There is an air of Smashing Pumpkins to the band, the rasping guitars provide the grungy edge, and the lead singer a chilling edge to the mix. The record ends with Lovers & Clowns, a more radio suited tune: the vocals are less raw, the guitar is less prominant and an there is an overall loss of the grunge edge found in the previous songs: the band show a softer, more pop orientated side with the closing tune. www.facebook.com/houseofdollsofficial
Motorcycle Display Team Betweenager
Review by Niall Healy
Motorcycle Display Team are going since 2008 , Sancho Panza was their original name they played under but they changed it to Motorcycle Display Team (MDT) in 2009 over some confusion with a dance act of the same name. Well there’s no case of mistaken indentity now as the London three piece deliver their new single betweenager ahead of their long player debut which is due out in October. Apparently it hasn’t been the easiest of recordings with the band admitting ‘The build- up and planning to the recording of our debut album caused one of us to have a nervous breakdown’. They don’t go into any more detail than that but there’s no hint of a difficult process here. It’s a perfectly pleasant slice of fun power pop that jangles along just shy of the four minute mark. It’s catchy without being insufferable. It’s all upbeat and jaunty guitar goodness. The track is produced by Cesar Gimeno Lavin of Modest Mouse and White Lies fame, and while the sparky guitar of Modest Mouse is evident here , for me this single is tonally similar to acts like Two Door Cinema Club or the Drums. Lyrically clever this song is knowing without drifting into the wrong side of smug. ‘A rock star at twenty-three and that’s where I retire’ the track proclaims, unlikely if they keep going in this direction. www.facebook.com/motorcycledisplayteam
You Kiss by The Book Family Tree
Review by Niall Healy
I am a fan of country music. There I’ve said it. This doesn’t make me some backwoods yokel with no teeth and a skinful of moonshine; it does mean I was looking forward to listening to the new release by Dublin Alt country/Indie outfit ‘You Kiss by The Book’. They havn’t disappointed with this their third studio album. I say studio but this album was recorded in a house over the course of 2011, giving the band the chance to experiment with different sounds and arrangements. The decision to record outside the traditional studio setting has paid off and they’ve delivered a real treat. The band first came to life in the hills of California and their sound is clearly influenced by the spirit of Americana. This is an album of first kisses at the edge of town and lovelorn miners who want their girl to just go. It’s a charming record from a group who are clearly hitting all their
marks. ‘Cant go back’ is a beautifully paced piece of yearning melancholia that has a lovely kick of strings at the end. ‘Transport’ is another high point, it’s tale of being sad for what’s left behind is a pleasure from start to finish. It’s an album that delivers over and over again. Other notable mentions include the simple arrangement of the titular track and the frenetically upbeat opening number ‘Railroad’. Written by Simon Dowling, Phillip Clarke and Andy Walsh , Family Tree is a quality long player that features a number of guest spots from the likes of Fergus Gleeson ( James Vincent McMorrow) and David Crean (Villagers). The collaborative process has resulted in a gem of an album that is one of the best things I’ve heard in 2012 .It’s a confident statement of intent from a very talented bunch of musicians. www.youkissbythebook.bandcamp.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Dirty Diamonds Leaving Town
Review by Alexandra Das Neves
Reason Demo review
Review by Sam Geaney
Louis Bowers (Aka Reason) was born in Chingford in London. He started playing music at a young age and was rapping from the age of 11. After some solo work and collaborations, Bowers set up a record label in college, Recording Something New Promotions. He then went on to form a group called “Panning For Gold” with Owen Jones. This group explored indie and rap infusions amongst other genres. After two years with the band, Bowers decided to explore a solo career and to try to go in a new musical direction. Unfortunately it seems that Panning For Gold sounded more original, whereas Reason alone often lacks depth in his music and sounds more generic. The backing music to Reason’s solo work also sounds very synthesised and is lacking the depth of live instruments that were used with Panning For Gold. Some of the vocal lines in the songs do not work very well. Both “In The Air” and “Angels And Demons” are sung by Reason but perhaps he should stick to rapping and leave the singing to someone else as the vocal line in these songs sound a bit out of tune. The same can be said for the vocal line in “Tell Me Again” which again sounds flat. “Tell Me Again” also suffers due to midi instrumentation which gives the song a very cheap sound. Midi instrumentation can work well but the instruments sound too fake in this instance and in other songs, which has a bad effect. This is not to say that some of Reason’s songs do not shine. The most memorable song is probably “Full Clip”.This is a song in which the instrumentation works very well.
Reason’s rapping floats over the instrumentation perfectly and this song shows that this artist has great talent when it comes out. It has elements of the style of Plan B’s early tracks, though has its own merits so it cannot be said to be imitation. “I’m Glad You’re Mine”is another strong song and shows the diversity of the artist in its contrasting style. It is a brighter track with quite different instrumentation to “Full Clip”. He shows his diversity further in his collaboration with Owen Jones on the track “Just One Thing” by showing that he can do slower songs with slower rapping. Mike Skinner’s group ,“The Streets”, can be heard as an influence in this song. “Just One Thing” and “Reason And Owen Jones”, both of which are collaborations with Jones, show that the two work well together but also show, as these collaborations are not far from the style of Panning For Gold, that again a break from the group was perhaps a mistake. Overall it seems that Bowers has a lot of talent and is capable of making some strong tracks as a solo artist but it seems he struggles at times without the aid of Owen Jones and the rest of Panning For Gold to boost his songs. His songs also fall short without the use of live instrumentation. Reason is a talented musician but his skills were better used with Panning For Gold. He could grow in time and his solo work may improve but his break from Panning For Gold appears to be a bit premature as his solo work as a whole does not appear strong enough yet. www.facebook.com/reason.rsn
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, just like a Phoenix, the new born Dirty Diamonds arise. This Limmerick based band, has their debut E.P “Leaving Town” due to release in August 2012, with an increasing fan base (headbangers) following their live shows. Their sound is very self explanatory, with the glamour of the eighties Metal and the hard edged attitude of the nineties Rock, like they best describe themselves. They achieve what you expect of them and with a power chorus, “Let’s get loud”, sums the eighties Rock & Roll attitude. You can envision (Live) Diamonds eager crowd demanding another hit, that´s when “Leaving Town” arrives. As a motorcycle on a highway reaching the redline, their guitar riffs and drums strike like thunder. With the same energy and attitude “Going Down” delivers a lead solo intro that captures your full attention. Rock on! However “Last chance for Love” fails to impress. On the other hand it is still possible to reach some popularity. Dirty Diamonds are a thriving band, and if their music shows trough on stage, then they surely bring true justice to the major foundation stone of Heavy Rock era. www.facebook.com/dirtydiamondsrock
Review by Emma Kelly
Ishtar, a soloist that has been present on the Italian music scene for over a decade, has produced a new neofolk ‘project’ called “Ombre”. The project is a five-song sort of EP, focusing on the instrumental, ambient side of neofolk. Ishtar himself explains that the music presented is “simple and evocative”, with touches of melancholy and room for personal interpretation. Listening to the tracks on “Ombre”, you can really hear the work and soul that is put into each melody. A keyboardist for several Italian bands, Ishtar is an extremely talented pianist and the piano is a standout moment on each track. Another element which is interesting is the soft guitar on the second track, “I Walked the Path of Life and my Heart was Burning”. Although the music is simple and subdued, you can definitely hear the Italian passion running through it. Unfortunately, the concept is so simple and subdued that you could easily forget “Ombre” a few days after listening to it. There are beautiful elements to it, but it is so understated that it’s the kind of music that will be resigned to playing in the background of spa treatment rooms. However, if ambient and gentle sounds are your thing, Ishtar is full of promise. www.facebook.com/ishtar.sound
Victorian Post Modern Photography Review by Elizabeth Stammitti
Faltered is a young band from North Wales that has already recorded their first EP, entitled Victorian Post Modern Photography, a nostalgic piece of alternative rock with progressive influences that’s brilliantly written. The vocals are the first thing that catches the attention: they’re dark, low-pitched and deep, which suit the music, creating a melancholic atmosphere with mostly slow paced tunes that take unexpected, but great, twists and turns. The first track is an instrumental intro with an electronic vibe that helps to set the mood. The second track, Please don’t take this the wrong way, starts with a soft guitar riff that turns heavy with the inclusion of the rest of the instruments, slowing down when the vocal lines begin. The track is overall relaxed and experimental, except for the chorus, with distorted guitars that help vary the song. The next track, Worth the wait, it’s a bit heavier, but has the same quality of the previous track, with slower passages that unfold nicely in between the more energetic sections. There’s a lot of
progressive instrumental parts that work wonderfully to heighten the wistful mood. Then, the band puts the distorted guitars and fast drum beats upfront to create a heavier track, entitled High Rule, without forgetting to balance again the heaviness with slower sections. Counterparts, the fifth song, features another fast drum beat in contraposition with the soft guitar melodies and vocal lines, until it blends with the guitar riff and changes again, thus creating another diverse track, rhythm-wise. The last song, Spaces Wasted, is a beautiful semi-acoustic piece, mostly guitar-oriented, with a catchy chorus, though extremely short. Victorian Post Modern Photography is a great EP, the sound is terrific and the songs are more experimental than what you would expect from a modern alternative rock band, keeping a melancholic tone throughout the whole record (which could be a downside, since I did find it a bit depressing). The only thing that didn’t feature much variation was the vocals, but they still go great with the music. Definitely a record worth listening. www.facebook.com/usedestroy www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Lady Psyché and Her Heart Mechanix Review by Stephen White
The Aluskas Draw
Review by Niamh Madden
The Aluskas’ debut album begins like a Western movie. Cowboy boots crunch across the dust. Spurs echo loudly as each gunslinger takes a step closer. Suddenly, there’s a cry: “Draw!” Gunshots explode, and a country guitar riff weaves its way lazily down ‘Backwater Woods’. This unique start to Draw! gives way to more surprises. The album isn’t just country, it’s a sour whiskey mix of blues, rock ’n’ roll and pop. We’re treated to a couple of tracks reminiscent of The Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival, with steady harmonica and lots of fast-paced square-dancing fun in ‘Lurleen’. ‘Sorry’s Not a Bullet Proof Vest’ sounds like a tune you’d hear playing from a jukebox in a fifties American diner, complete with crooning and lusting after ‘my baby’. The standout track is the short instrumental ‘Prism’, a banjo tune with hints of country and Irish trad fusion, and it flows perfectly into the deep bluesy riff of ‘Skin and Bones’. ‘Cobwebs’ starts with a beautiful acoustic guitar break, and encourages us to ‘take the time to breathe’. This is the mantra of ‘Draw!’ - take your time, find your own way, and just relax.
Overall, this is an impressive first album and best listened to with headphones to really appreciate all the instruments. It’s hard to believe that there’s just three in the band: Blood brothers, David and Anthony Byrne, and their spiritual brother Philip Tinsley. The Aluskas sound like more than just three, with their impressive range of styles on Draw! One downside of this musical variety is that the album feels a little disjointed. The gunfight at the start of the album set us up to hear a lot more country or blues. The funky and cool Western artwork on the CD sleeve also generates a different idea of the band to their recordings. However this really is a minor fault and what’s the fun in placing The Aluskas into a neat category? Instead, the album is well worth a listen to for everything, from its spurs and banjos to its violins and harmonies. Now draw your weapon cowboy! Draw! will be released on 30 July and you can catch the launch party in Against the Grain, Dublin, on 26 July at 8.30pm. www.thealuskas.com
Lady Psyché and Her Heart Mechanix is latest release from Italian progressiverock band Gleam. The album is an interesting throw back to the earlier days of progressive rock mixed with elements of metal, grunge and blues. The bands hard-rock influences are most apparent in the Led Zeppelin styled track Awful Voter. The piece begins with a choral section followed suddenly by the sound of heavily distorted guitars, making good use of the group’s natural dynamics. Sugarless is the album’s highlight, and their most interesting piece musically. The compassion begins with an introduction reminiscent of Supper’s Ready by Peter’s Gabriel’s Genesis. The piece contains a well-progressed structure, introducing the bands hard-rock influences seen through out their compositions. However, the album’s downfall is its overall sound and presentation. The band fails to give either melodic or harmonic support to their compositions, leaving the sonic quality of the album sounding weak. There are also noticeable pitch and tuning problems, which often take the listener out of song. Gleam is a talented young band musically, and has released an album that highlights their abilities. Lady Psyché and Her Heart Mechanix is an interesting album, both compositionally and thematically, that is let down by its poor execution. http://it-it.facebook.com/gleamstation
Review by James Glynn
Review by Niall Healy
'Colour Fade' is the latest single from North County Dublin 4-piece 'Funeral Suits' coming off their eagerly anticipated debut album 'Lily Of The Valley', produced by acclaimed music mogul Stephen Street, the man behind records by such legendary bands as Blur and The Smiths. The band have gained plenty of plaudits thus far, ranging from the likes of HotPress, Shout 4 Music and Clash Magazine, to the Huffington Post and BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, and with this single its easy to see why. The record's excellent combination of minimalist rock tones and upbeat electronic synth works wonders in creating a fantastic, edgy pop tune that would be a great intro number on any album. Frontman Brian James' almost Robert Smith-like vocals complements the track perfectly, creating the essence of an eerie, gothic sound which is at no part over done and gives the track a real authenticity. The result is a feverously catchy groove resonanting around a memorable drum loop, building up to the understated, yet dramatic closing electronic crescendo. As a listener you can't help but get excited for more. Not revolutionary by any means, but a fascinating, adrenaline-pumping sound and one which refreshingly reminds us all of some of the largely untapped range of talent in this country. www.facebook.com/FuneralSuits
Bird dog is the first release from Londoner Patrick Rees. It’s very much a slow burning, laidback affair. Rees says he wrote this handful of songs on a battered old guitar whilst he was travelling earlier on this year. Its shows with a very decluttered, simplistic and honest production. It’s just one man and his guitar, strumming and singing. The bareboned, home produced aesthetic runs through the album with a mellow, intimate vibe to proceedings. Opening track ‘Sleep’ is a dreamy trawl through a quiet musical backwater. It’s a track that just slowly washes over you and passes you by. ‘Words’ is more of the same, stripped back acoustic guitar and a slow, ambling vocal. ‘Just echoes’ is a nice track with shades of Fionn Regan to it. It has an accompanying video that Rees shot on a mobile phone, he plans to release videos
for all six of the tracks on the EP. ‘Years’ is a catchy three minutes that tells of love that’s run its course. ‘Ghost tracks’ is the weakest number for me, all finger plucking and emoting without going anywhere. Last track ‘Close’ complete the running order with an understated, not unpleasant lo-fi love song. Rees shares musical stylings with the likes of Laura Marling and Nick Drake, its lowkey and uncomplicated stuff. Where you stand on this record is very much dictated by your taste for pared back acoustic, folk music. If you like your tunes thoughtful and meaningful without any fussy overproduction then this is the artist for you. There’s no musical boundaries being shattered here but I’m partial to my singer songwriters and Bird dog is an amiable enough first effort from Rees. www.patrickrees.bandcamp.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Interview IIIIIIIIIIII Hermitage Green
By Darragh Mullooly
ou may not know the name Hermitage Green yet but let me tell you, from what I have heard so far, these guys are destined to be huge in the future. Ahead of their very exciting Electric Picnic gig and the September release of their debut E.P, I caught up with Darragh from the band ,to chat about everything from finding inspiration in everyday life to a very unfortunate deceased pet story.
MRU: When did the band begin performing and writing music?
Darragh: We had our first public performance about two years ago and had been having very casual jam sessions for 3 months before that. I (Darragh Griffin) have been writing music since I was 17 but always did so very sporadically. I wrote maybe 4 songs when I was 17, a few more when I was 21 and started writing for the band in February 2011. MRU: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Darragh: The first music I remember really grabbing me was the album “Definitely Maybe” by Oasis. I was definitely inclined towards rock and metal. I loved Metallica, Thin Lizzy, Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, The Chillis. I love blues as well. I remember my father introducing me to Rory Gallagher and Jimi Hendrix and being blown away. Ban fan of house music as well...I could go on all day here! MRU: Have your influences changed much since then?
Darragh: I think Nick Drake, John Martyn and Dick Gaughan are the pinnacle of talent from a song writing perspective. They’re definite favourites. I still like everyone I mentioned above to be honest but I have really grown to appreciate trad music, and the musicality of the top players. Big fan of people like The XX, Hot Chip and The Japanese Popstars also so I’m a bit of a mixed
bag! Band wise I’m into the likes of Mumford and Sons, early Kings of Leon is spectacular, and Old Crow Medicine Show… once again I could be here all day! MRU: Do you come from a musical family?
Darragh: Personally not really. My father loves his music but never played. Darragh Grahams parents both play and Dermot’s sisters both play. I don’t think anyone in the Murphy household plays, other than the lads of course…although if I’m wrong on that I’m in trouble. MRU: For people who have not heard the band can you describe your sound in 3 words? Darragh: Raw, Rustic, Randy
MRU: Interesting ! So are there any ongoing themes that you continue to write about
Darragh: Dermot just pointed out to me that most of my songs are about social interactions. I had never stood back and observed the songs in that way and he was certainly right. I have a few songs about the process of song writing itself, Live On, our first original is just about finally writing something after a 3 year drought. I also have a few songs about other musicians who have inspired me.
MRU: Where do you find inspiration for your music?
Darragh: It’s funny, as soon as I started writing seriously I started looking at every situation or story I heard as a possible song. It suddenly makes everyday goings on far more interesting. Sometimes something will have happened I my life that I’ll write about, sometimes in other people’s lives and then sometimes I’ll just invent a situation and write about that. The saddest of stories are often the best of songs. For example Darragh Graham had two dogs, one of which died while we were away at a gig. Basically the other dog wouldn’t leave its side and even after the dog was buried, the living dog just sat on the grave. It was a very heart warming tale (pun intended) so I wrote lyrics and married them to a fairly bright sounding bit of guitar and there you go. Once you balance the lyrics and music correctly you won’t leave people feeling depressed at a gig! It the old cliché but inspiration is genuinely everywhere. MRU: Where was your first gig?
Darragh: The Curragower in Limerick was our first public gig and Aunty Lena’s in Adare was our first paid gig. Highly unprofessionally but extremely enjoyable gigs!
MRU: And since then where have you toured?
Darragh: We started as a pub band but then began getting bigger venues. We’ve played Dolan’s Warehouse a few times, supported The Saw Doctors there and The Stunning in The Big Top. We played after Sharron Shannon in the Rose of Tralee which was great although I don’t know what anyone was thinking putting us after Sharron Shannon! We travelled a lot this year. We played for St Patrick’s Day in Florida and also went to France and Abu Dhabi which was amazing. We also played Body and Soul this year which I believe was the pinnacle of my life to date! MRU: I hear you have received quite a lot of airtime yeah
Darragh: We’ve got a fair bit which was amazing considering we had no professionally recorded music until about a week ago. We’ve played live on Ryan Tubridy, Limericks 95 FM and Spin South West. We’ve also been played on Today FM, Clare Fm and Red FM. “Live On” was used in an episode of Nationwide although the first we heard of this was when my father rang frantically asking me had I seen Nationwide. I hadn’t…but the song was used!
MRU: So what’s the band’s plans for the future?
Darragh: We’ve just finished recording an EP which is due for release in September. We’re very excited about that and personally I think it will give us a good indication of where we stand as a band. We’ve also just been
confirmed for Electric Picnic so that will be our biggest event so far. Can’t wait. We just want to keep playing and keep spreading our wings. In the last few months we’ve started playing in Cork, Killarney, Galway and Dublin, as well as Limerick and we just want to keep expanding with view to making an album and subsequent world domination.
So there you have it MRU readers, if you’re popping over to Stradbally in September, ensure you allocate time to swing by and watch H.G play. For more information on the band’s tour dates check out www.hermitagegreen.com, or log on to Soundcloud to hear some very cool tracks.
Interview IIIIIIIIIIII Rocco Deluca
Interview by News Editor Feargal Daly
Photography by Mark O’Connor
occo Deluca is a modern day blues/folk/soul force. He is an artist overflowing with emotion, mystery and genuine passion for his craft. He’s currently on tour with Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros across Europe supporting his latest release ‘Drugs ‘N Hymns’ released this year on 429 records. I caught up with him on the phone recently and talked about all things musical from the past, present and future and the big names of the industry that he’s connected to. Rocco Deluca is as honest and humble as they come and while his recorded and stage presence can be intense, aggressive and dark he’s in reality a very sweet guy. Read on below!
FD: Hi Rocco. How are you?
RDL: I’m good, I’m glad you caught me. I just arrived here from London and I was just getting my bearings in Brussels. FD: You’re latest record Drugs ‘n Hymns is your first true solo effort without the “Burden” moniker. Was the band not involved with this project?
RDL: Ye there’s no “burden”...exactly. They (The Burden – Rocco’s previous band) weren’t involved in this project. I basically left the label and the label kind of went its own way and band members all subsequently got involved in other projects so it was all just a pretty natural, organic process (approaching the album) and kind of just let the whole thing die. I just started over again.
FD: It definitely sounds new and represents something fresh. The album sleeve curiously states that it was “documented” at Effie House. Was the whole production process a call back to the old traditional ways of capturing a moment? RDL: That’s it. I was thinking a lot about how people used to just document a time and place without tailoring too much and if you
do an experiment on the spot right there, make it feel like I had people there. I had little stations set up in a tiny room, little tape machines, and just try to perform for the moment. That was the philosophy behind this record.
FD: Thematically speaking, the record deals a lot with religion. What inspired this direction?
RDL: (Laughs) just crazy dreams! I’ve had crazy dreams my whole life and they’re always quite psychedelic and apocalyptic, and I don’t know why really! I don’t understand it really but I just started talking about them, remembering things from my past, swirling into a big soup of random information. I tried to make some sense out of it by putting it to a form, a song.
“...Try to perform for the moment. That was the philosophy behind this record.”
FD: It’s a very restrained record. The intensity of the past records remains but the energy is less aggressive like that found on “Soul” or “Bright Lights” (From 2009s ‘Mercy’). The tracks off the new album like “Amen” and “Snake Oil Salesman” still have that intense energy but buried in a much sparser, ambient delivery. Is this a sound you’re chasing? RDL: I don’t really plan a direction at all. That was just how I was feeling. I was travelling a lot, thinking and out in the desert quite a bit in the US, visiting friends. I was playing these random speak-easy’s .I had a lot of time to look at big skies and was just wondering and reflecting on a few things I hadn’t dealt with.
FD: Bringing it back a bit now and looking at your connection with Ireland. You recently played the Westport festival but you seem to have run into a bit of a rough patch? (Rocco had a spell of travel nightmare involving missed flights, lost luggage, muggings and nearly missing a show to name a few of the issue!)
RDL: (Laughs) yeah! I was a bit sad! I wrote it for a friend’s website, just some road notes
“...If they weren’t blind or dead I usually didn’t know who they were...”
really, but he asked me to do a blog for it so I mostly wrote it for him but it was posted on all of my stuff as well. I saw some of the comments and now I feel bad for putting it up! I realise that I sound like a victim when really it’s just daily affair. I wasn’t sifting for sympathy. I just told the last three days. FD: How did that gig go?
RDL: It was cool man, it was so cool! I think I go back with Edward Sharpe soon?
FD: Yeah you’ll make it back here to Dublin in two weeks.
RDL: Great man, you’ll have to come and say Hi! (Back about the blog) I come off more sad and intense than I might actually be.
I’m actually kidding around almost all the time but for some reason I turn into this sad squirrel or something when working on music. Maybe there’s hope yet for me...I don’t know (Laughs).
FD: Talking about other projects and collaborations. You composed the soundtrack for a short film ‘An Ode To Love’. How did that happen?
RDL: My friend Adarsha Benjamin, I’m just a fan of her eye, and she’s always in the art circles and always keeping her nose about her, listening for things, looking at things. So, just over time we became friends. She said she had a visual she wanted me to put music to. I did it in front of her in my room with a couple of friends who play horns and just made it right there with the same machine I made the record on. I started to experiment in front of her and perform watching her beautiful 16mm film. I gave it to her and she put it together and I think she’s pretty proud of it. I’m really excited about it. FD: You also worked with Daniel Lanois on
your second record (‘Mercy’) and recently went out on tour with his band Black Dub which included Trixie Whitley. I mention this because Drugs ‘N Hymns reminds me a lot in terms of its conception, production and vibe, of her father’s (The late blues artist Chris Whitley) celebrated album ‘Dirt Floor’.
RDL: Right! Yeah! That’s a compliment ‘cos I really like that record. The funny thing was I had become friends with Trixie and her mother Helene who I’m visiting here in Brussels in a couple of hours. I’m embarrassed to say I knew nothing about Chris until recently when I met Trixie and learned the whole story but I was totally unhip man. Dan would mention him a couple of times too but if they weren’t blind or dead I usually didn’t know who they were, you know what I mean? (Laughs). I stayed really with the masters but I discovered a very passionate person and it was exciting.
FD: There’s just one other figure, a relatively unheard of character by the name of Slash who you worked with. With all the media and PR buzz surrounding the heavyweight
collaborations on that record such as Ozzy and Dave Grohl, it’s fair to say that you were probably not represented and given as much attention as you may have deserved. ‘Saint Is A Sinner Too’ is one of the stronger tracks on that record. RDL: (Laughs) Aw bless!
FD: How did that collaboration come about?
RDL: Just know that Slash is the coolest guy ever. He’s like a childhood chum almost. When I met him I felt like I’d known him forever, he’s so giving and amazing. He approached me to sing a song on his new record and help him write it. He had some soundtrack music, just a bit of guitar playing that he originally intended for a film. He didn’t end up using it but he was attached to this guitar line and so I just sat with him, recorded it and took it home and wrote a song around it. I brought it back to him and he was really moved so we just recorded it there in the studio. I had a great time recording it with him and the boys. I just loved the way he conducted himself, he’s a true professional. (Laughs) He’s kinda like the guy you really wanna be in a band with. Like, truly just let it all hang out and play hard, don’t worry too much about soft-sentiments as much as kicking down doors. I loved being around him, he made me feel like I was in the garage with my friends again. (On the publicity side of things) I just kept low on that side of things I guess. I’m not a very good promoter to be honest with you. The only time I get noticed is when someone else takes a stand for me. I’m just not good at PR you know? I haven’t figured any of that stuff out yet! (Laughs).
“Just be honest with yourself and find out why it is you’re doing it” back to the masters because their intention was purely to heal and that’s kinda what I want to do so it never bothers me too much if I was up or down.
FD: Now that you’re travelling around a lot on your own you have much more freedom with your performance. When it comes to the set list you’ve got a wide choice now. Is it thought of as you go along or is it the same each night?
RDL: Oh yeah I never write it down. Part of letting go of the label and PR firm that I was a part of is the freedom to play whatever and whenever I wanna play it. When I was a kid I played to the room. Sometimes I’m playing a speak-easy, a little underground thing to you know, 50 people and then sometimes I’ll play a proper theatre with anywhere from 2,000 and up or then even a festival date with even more. I decide when I walk up there and look out and see that a good fight is in order, let’s really give it, kick down a few doors and show them that a folk artist, even one person
standing alone can be a force and dangerous. It doesn’t always need to be a full rock band. The lyrical content can be dangerous and the sound can be aggressive even if it’s just one person, a single source. A busker with danger you know what I mean? Those are my inner visions lately so I’m moving in that direction and have been for the last couple of years. I’ve been doing it. It’s not like I haven’t been sharpening my knife, it’s just a matter of finding how to share it. FD: You must be always writing new material. Anything to expect in the future?
RDL: Yeah! Actually I started one in my bedroom before I left that I’m really excited about and when I get home I’ll probably do some collaboration with the “Sharpies” (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros) ,which I plan to release sometime around March next year. It’s always there to be changed but so far that’s the arrangement. FD: Thank you very much for your time Rocco. RDL: Sure! It means a lot to me considering I’m picking up pieces as I go along.
‘Drugs ‘N Hymns’ is out now on 429 Records and available on iTunes, Amazon and at Rocco Deluca shows.
FD: MRU features a lot of emerging unsigned and independent acts. You’ve been through it all, the ups and downs of the industry. What’s the best advice that you’ve gotten and what advice have you got to pass on to emerging talent?
RDL: Oh man! ...You know...I guess a question to pose for any artist in their discipline, be it literature, visual arts or music, is what their intention is? That’ll decide a lot right out of the gate. There are a lot of people who play for monetary reasons, popularity reasons. Just be honest with yourself and find out why it is you’re doing it. It’s a very confusing thing, because there are millions of artists and they’re all jumbled together. They all start for different reasons and it just gets confusing having to sift through the madness. That’s why I always go
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Sunday 19th August from 2pm â€“ 6pm