Music Review Unsigned
E from Cushh shares news on the new clothing range and single
Jeff Jinx – The Look, The Story & The Sound
Seán tells us all about his memories of sharing the stage with Phil Lynott and the ups and downs of his group The Lookalikes
Featuring tracks from some of the hottest indie acts on the scene!
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COVER STORY TH I
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Spotlight Pages 3-7
Grab your free copy of MRU PURE VOL 4
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Fashion Pages 8-11
Interviews Pages 12 - 23
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News Feargal Daly/Editor Email: email@example.com Twitter: @feargaldaly Aoife Read/Deputy firstname.lastname@example.org Michelle Doyle/Reporter MOD Fashion Darragh Mullooly/Editor email@example.com Alexandra Das Neves/Deputy editor firstname.lastname@example.org Amber Doyle/Style reporter
Writers - SEP#Issue Alice Stands David Burke Paul Murphy Stephen White Kevin Carney Niall Healy Vanessa Baker Francis Gavin Catherine Sherlock Shane Leahy Eamon Murray Julie Duff Dean Ruxton John Kirwan Grainne Logue
Band Crusade campaign showcases 100 unsigned bands to beat this year’s X Factor winner to the Xmas No.1 Spot in the UK Music Charts! Alexandra Das Neves
Band Crusade is more than a cause, more than a project, it’s something I truly believe in. The saturated market for the mainstream music and media that comes along with it is really getting me tired and I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone. I personally find this rather interesting for a change and worth spilling the word out there for this kind of initiative. Their controversial images for the campaign have been shared on Facebook, are so self-explanatory and straight forward, leaving no doubt of what message they are trying to get through to the public. The Band Crusade is here to shake, rattle and roll the established rubbish we have been assisting to for to0 long. Wes Metcalfe, Tom King and Adam Jessop are music fans from Sheffield and the 3 musketeers behind “Band Crusade” campaign to beat this year’s X Factor winner to the Xmas No 1 Spot in the UK Music Charts And how do they achieve such a honorable assignment, you ask? Well, they have created a website www.bandcrusade.com, giving the public opportunity to vote for their favourite band or act, showcasing 100 UK unsigned bands. Wes Metcalfe has explained that “This isn’t just another campaign to get any song to number 1 to spite X Factor, this is a crusade to get UK bands back into the UK charts and give the public the opportunity to choose a hard working band, that write, perform and create their own material from start to finish. The UK has been home to some of the best bands in the world yet these days new bands struggle to get any air play on radio and are excluded from shows such as X Factor and the Voice. We want to fight the corner for these bands and reintroduce the UK public to good music” This ambitious project since their launch has been gaining much interest on the social networks and people have been sharing the music on the website. In the music industry several artists and musicians have shown their support including Sandi Thom and Def Leppard’s front man Joe Elliot who messaged the trio to say “I will support this as much as I can and will be telling everyone I know about it, good luck boys”. If you want to be part of the cause, voting will run until the 15th November 2012 and can be done on the Band Crusade website and across other media. Once a winner has been chosen, their track and music video will be recorded and released in time for the Christmas music charts. For more info follow on Twitter www.twitter.com/bandcrusade www.facebook.com/bandcrusade
“This isn’t just another campaign to get any song to number 1 to spite X Factor, this is a crusade to get UK bands back into the UK charts”
Machine Gun Baby Release Live Studio EP
News Editor Feargal Daly
Band members Keegan, Mark, Shane and Tony are the North Dublin band known here as Machine Gun Baby, and they are serious about what they do. Machine Gun Baby have been around the scene for a while now and with good reason. The boys have cropped up in various notable places over the last few years and continue to deliver the goods with each subsequent release. So what makes this new release different? Well, for starters it’s a live studio EP, the bands first in fact – at least so they claim. These 4 live tracks were crafted with the enlisted help of Ciaran Thurlow and mixed/ mastered by producer Barry Murphy. Coloured in various shades of modern rock the Portmarnock band certainly know how to deliver hooks, melodies and more that are sure crowd pleasers . Opener ‘My Skin’ is a mid-tempo rocker that screams influence by Kings Of Leon. The growl and raspiness of front-man Keegan’s voice soars over the impressive drumming. There’s an effortless flow throughout the song as melodies, verses and the chorus blend together in the way only
clever song craftsmanship can display. ‘Kensington’ is a little rougher in the mix compared to ‘My Skin’ but feeds to desire for something a little deeper. A more dynamic track too that feels more like ‘Machine Gun Baby’ and less “everyone else”. ‘The Cincinnati Kid’ kicks off with a simple yet effective bass hook which marks a nice change from the usual guitar driven hooks and thankfully remains prominent throughout the whole track. As a supporter of the underdog instrument it’s always nice to see
the bass take centre stage here. Otherwise its standard affair as far as the song goes – take that comment as you like. Closer ‘Breakaway’ dispels hope that maybe something a little more energetic will crop up. It’s a great song don’t get me wrong, but if this is a “live” EP you expect not only the conspicuously absent crowd noises and chants present but also a bit more energy too to the performance too. It feels like the intent was there at the time of recording but the energy lost somewhere in the process too. The positive does outweigh the negative for the most part but a few issues prevent this from being an essential release. As a live studio EP the absence of any crowd saps the energy and atmosphere from the recordings and relegates the EP to more of a live rehearsal. It’s a key component of all worthwhile live releases that is unfortunately missing. It’s a shame really as Machine Gun Baby do have a solid reputation delivering the goods in a real live environment. My advice: skip this one and actually go to one of their shows. It’s a far better experience! www.facebook.com/MachineGunBabyOfficial
MRU PURE VOL.4 Featuring 9 acts from all corners of the globe! 1. Superintendent – Are We Having Fun Yet? 2. Dave Morrissey - Butterfly 3. Cfit – The Static 4. Black River Band – Deal My Love 5. Escape The Ocean – One Sided Dice 6. Robots Found Errors – Ted Heath Saved My Wife 7. Peter Fitzpatrick – Elvis Has Left The Building 8. Steve Thompson and The Incidents – Raise Your Head 9. The Ocean Machine – Rough Diamonds
DOWNLOAD www.musicreviewunsigned.com/MRUpure4.zip www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Jeff Jinx – The Look, Th
By Michelle Doyle
Alliteration is a great thing when you’re a fame-hungry singer out chasing favourable reviews and notoriety like Harry Potter zooming after the Golden Snitch. Indeed, if real-life were more like Hogwarts, perhaps world-renown would be as easy trampolineing in the dark with a fishing net, and trying to catch the stars. Except, of course, it’s not. In the absence of the all-coveted one-word monikers brought about through global success – think Florence, Madonna and Ms. Gaga – then an alliterated name is the next best thing. It’s snappy. It rolls off the tongue and seeds in the everyday blog reader’s brain. Except Jeff Jinx isn’t Jinx’s real name. In fact, He’s Jeff Myers and while I have no reason to believe he’s any relation of Mike Myers, the creator and star of hit movie franchise Austin Powers, there’s certainly a touch of similarity between the pair: one is a cryogenically unfrozen cold-war spy from the 1970s while the other, Mr. Jinx, is a glamorous, David Bowie-esque musician who’s been gigging since 1978. I never said the similarity was great or striking but it’s certainly there. Except I’m swimming in deep-waters now: Jinx is a guest writer over at Independent Music News, and will no doubt be writing a few stern letters about his highly glam look being mentioned in the same sentence as a goofy film spy famed for his bad teeth. Oh well.
FACT: Alone performed in London’s The Embassy Club and entertained some of the modern-day granddaddies of rock and pop. The Police were on their guest list and their pay-in audience members included Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy and Lemmy
The Camden pop band Tribes might have been referred to, as a throwback to 1970s glam rock but the guys never got the look entirely correct. Jinx however has got the look down to a tee - a tight-tee paired with black pants. His face is a powdered alabaster white, and his eyes are rimmed with black makeup that creeps all the way up to his eyebrows. His hair is black and while it’s neither long nor spiky, it doesn’t sit floppy or pancake-flat on his head. Instead it tufts up and juts out which gives him that slightly aforementioned Bowie-air. www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Jeff Jinx and his various, previous bands might sound unfamiliar – Dead Horses, Generation X, Cliché, Stranded and Jeff Jinx and The Gems – but the man’s past has been colourful and varied. He’s gigged with Clem Burke of the American group Blondie and formed Dead Horses with former-Sex Pistol, Glenn Matlock. In 1982, Jinx started I Am Alone with his previous Cliché band member, John Watters, and this time Jinx wrote all his own material. All starting bands dream of being spotted by big musicians but thirty years ago I Am
he Story & The Sound
I was on stage with "Steve Savage" ("Steve the Goon" ) when he was nicked, I was putting Mark's kit up, which I'd just brought in a taxi from Gateshead. Steve had split his faux leather pants and was only minutes on the microphone when the boys in blue arrived. But the funniest thing was (Winky) Colin, following the coppers around and telling them that it was Steve's "Time of the Month."
Alone performed in London’s The Embassy Club and entertained some of the modern-day granddaddies of rock and pop. The Police were on their guest list and their pay-in audience members included Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy and Lemmy, the lead singer with Motörhead. But Jinx, the perennial music nomad did not stay with I Am Alone and moved into other bands and projects including, Memory Plastic and Mr Myers Place. He similarly tried his hand at writing and kick-started an art career designing LP sleeves and magazine covers. On his list of achievements, Jinx counts a
glowing review from Q magazine who wrote, “This guy hollers loud and full like an opera singer and the band are subordinate to him.” As a music writer, would Jinx have said it any differently?
The sound is all about the voice, which bellows from start to finish. Only in Dreams kicks off loud and howling and only backs down at the chorus of Jinx’s “Only In Dreams” trill. Childstar Factory on the other hand, which is featured on Independent Music News’ Indie Artists of 2012, captures
Jinx’s high-pitched, sonorous voice and envelops it in a blanket of electric guitar chords. While Waiting for The Tide To Turn is short and offers some juxtaposition for the ears: the music is laid-back but the voice is thick and booming. Perhaps a 1970s throwback rocker has no place in our modern music world, or maybe, just maybe, the Golden Snitch will finally come out to play.
Fashion Editor - Darragh Mullooly @MODmru
Following our “Dead Sexy” graveyard shoot for MRU this Month, Mod caught up with Galway based Photographer Shane Doorley from Zero Alias, to chat about his love of the AvantGarde, working with his Fiancé and his Grandfather’s creative side. MOD: So Shane where did your love of photography originate?
Shane: My Grandfather was a Photographer and ever since I can remember, I used to see him at every event and family function with his camera out, making sure he took every moment and his passion really inspired me. MOD: At what age did you start experimenting with photography?
Shane: I have always loved taking photos. I started off when I was in my teens and I was with scouts. During my time with them, I took the photos for all of their events, competitions and our trips away. I truly fell in love with the art, when I spent a short time in Switzerland and took some great shots of the landscape while I was there. In March of this year, I borrowed my late Grand-dad’s professional camera and equipment, which I used to cover a Hair show in Dublin. My Fiancé was competing in it. That sparked my interest further and following this I began to build my portfolio. MOD: Do you come from an artistic or creative family?
Shane: Apart from my Grandfather, not particularly. It was my Fiancé that kind of convinced me to take my love of photography further and to start doing it professionally. She is currently a hair session Stylist and is involved in a lot of my work to date. MOD: Did you have favorite photographer growing up?
Shane: I have never chosen an actual favorite photographer, as I find there is a certain beauty in every photograph someone takes and I enjoy elements from them all. MOD: Where do you find inspiration for your images?
Shane: Most of my inspiration for a particular series of images usually comes out from an element of everyday life and from that I evolve the idea further.
MOD: Your images seem to have a dark theme throughout, is it a conscious decision on your part to keep this theme throughout?
Shane: This is what I am actually trying to create when I take the shots. Currently most modeling and portrait photography is very bright and use vivid imagery, just look at any magazine you see in shops. I love the dark themes as it shows everyone, that the photo doesn’t have to be like everything else and it can still look great.
Model: Amylouise Smith MUA: Sinead Bannerton Make Up Hair: Shockalocks Session Styling
Model : Natasha Richardson MUA : Samantha Craughwell Hair : Shockalocks Session Styling
MOD: What kind of landscapes / models / subjects do you enjoy working with?
Shane: I love working with alternative subjects. The more different I can make the shot from something you would normally see, the better. I also love doing shots for mainstream models who would like something different for their portfolios.
MOD: From looking at your images, it would seem they take a long time to produce. Could you outline the production process from conception to the final image?
Shane: Well, it all starts out organizing the shoot which could take anything from a couple of minutes to a few weeks to create. Finding locations, props and the overall style of the shot usually takes the most time at this stage. Some shoots could take an hour, but most of the shoots I do for anyone usually last a full day, as we try and get in as much for the model, Makeup artist, hair stylist and myself as possible. Post production is the most time consuming part of any shoot. Some shoots you could come back with a few hundred photos that need to be sorted through. The best images are then edited, which takes anything from a few minutes to an hour and that is for every image. Not many people realize the amount of time spent after a shoot by a photographer. Believe me it causes a lot of sleepless nights.
MOD: Where do you see yourself and Zero Alias Photography in a yearsâ€™ time?
Shane: Well I currently have another full time job and it would be great to be doing photography full time. I would love to start getting images into main stream magazines and I have recently loved doing portfolio shoots for advertisement campaigns, so I would love to be doing more of that next year.
Make Up-Aoife Kelly Hair-Shockalocks Styling Session Clothing-Nicole Jackson Model-Katherine Gannon
Well for now MRU wishes Shane the very best of luck and you never know we may have more avant-garde shoots coming soon! For more information check Zero out on Facebook! www.musicreviewunsigned.com
STYLE Style Reporter - Amber Doyle
Irish weather is renowned for its annoying unpredictability! So, if you have been clinging to your flimsy summer gear for dear life, it is time to let go. Or is it? I’m a firm believer in updating seasonal buys. By investing in some chunky knits and studded boots, you can update your floral frocks and sheer blouses in an instant. Pair a chunky knit over a studded-collar blouse to achieve an effortlessly chic look. Go further and team this with burgundy jeans for extra fashion points.
Military is huge this season, so layer a distressed knit over a khaki shirt and team with a comfy parka for a fashionable casual look. Studded and spiked footwear is a major fashion plus this fall and look great with everything. Invest in some sturdy fierce boots and you’ll be ready for whatever the weather throws at you.
The boucle jacket is a major fashion hit this season. Boucle is associated with the renowned design-house Chanel, which reigns in its timelessness. One may note that the boucle trend is suitable for people of all ages since it is a classic.
The boucle jacket is a versatile piece which will never date, this is the reason it is worth investing in. The high street is brimming with boucle bargains and the beauty of the trend is that it goes with prettymuch everything!
The boucle jacket and shorts combo has taken the fashion world by a storm. This look channels classic Sixties fashion and looks ultra expensive paired with a silk blouse, pearls, opaques and T-bar shoes. Monochrome or metallic boucle is a great investment since it won’t date. However, if you want to invest in a statement piece then I recommend buying a biker or block colour boucle.
Cobalt blue is this season's go-to-colour. The style at this year's Emmy Awards clarified, that a blue dress is THE new fashion statement this Autumn. From powder blue to navy, A/W 2012 is all about blue hues.
Cobalt blue is a favourite of mine since it tends to look great with every skin tone and hair colour. Celebrities such as Kate Middleton, Emma Stone and Kate
Winslet have been papped in this striking colour and have rocked the trend to perfection.
Cobalt blue looks great against a dark palette, so invest in blue accesories which will lift your black and grey winter wear. Primark is releasing a panelled, cobalt blue, body-con dress (Pictured Above) which hugs you in all the right places, so keep an eye out.
If you're feeling brave, ZARA have some amazing neon wow-factor necklaces at the moment, which complement a blue palette.
The Art of Tattoos Deputy Fashion Editor - Alexandra Das Neves
This form of art has been going on for centuries, and tattooing has been practiced in many cultures, being spread throughout the world, particularly in Asia. Despite the taboos surrounding the art, it is still popular in many parts of the world. It is described simply as a form of body modification, by inserting indelible ink into the skin (dermis) to change the pigment. More than just inserting pigment directly to your skin, for some it is a way of life, a form of self expression and to others, a recreational art. Since the nineties, tattoos have become a mainstream part of global and Western fashion. Many new artists have accompanied the growth of tattoo culture into the industry. The quality of tattoos are due to advancements in tattoo pigments and the ongoing refinement of the equipment, and has consequentially led to an improvement in the quality of tattoos being produced. Janis Joplin was one of the great female singers in rock history as well as being also the first to use tattoos as part of her image. Her iconic wristlet and small heart on her left breast, tattooed by Lyle Tuttle, has been referred in the popular acceptance of tattoos as art. Within pop culture, tattoos have become an ever present in TV shows such as “Inked”, “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink”. Speaking of which, who else better to display the art of tattooing, than rock stars. Some showcase creative tattoo designs, other’s, not quite so much. For us simple folk, the name of our significant other, tattooed on our body will do the trick. Axl Rose´s “Apetite For Destruction” cross on his forearm, stands out as a remarkable example that sometimes you don’t need to be creative to imprint indelible ink into your skin. You just have to be Axl and record one of the greatest rock albums in history.
By Feargal Daly
here was a time back in 2006 when the Irish music charts were lifted by a then emerging pop-rock talent by a little praised band called Royseven and their debut album ‘The Art Of Insincerity’. They made some noise but business got in the way and it wasn’t until five years later in 2011 when the band returned with their successful sophomore album ‘You Say, We Say’ which stormed the Irish charts and carried the band towards numbers 1s, a Meteor choice prize and the most played song on Irish radio for their hit ‘We Should Be Lovers’. In the hazy afternoon of post-Arthur’s Day I had a chat with singer Paul Walsh to discuss all things Royseven, emerging talent, the current Irish music scene and what lies ahead for the future. In late September Royseven were playing a packed out show in Jerry Flannery’s in Limerick to celebrate the “black stuff” for Arthur’s Day, but it was by no means your average gig according to Paul. It calls back some of the memories for him and many others of unusual, unconventional “stages” that bands will play on, whether it’s the corner of a room, someone’s shed or even a barn in Royseven’s case. “It’s kind of weird, it’s up on a height on the first floor of the barn in the smoking area looking down on everyone” says Paul, “it’s cool, we enjoyed it”. However, there have been many arguments from local, unsigned acts that when it comes to big days like that they often get overlooked by bigger acts coming to town and never get their equal share of the spotlight. Posing the question about his personal opinion on Arthur’s Day and whether unsigned and independent acts get a fair deal, if any at all, I pressed Paul about this. “Surely half the appeal is that you’re bringing an act that wouldn’t normally been seen in certain venues in Ireland and that’s the bit of fun – who’s playing where? The size of the venue? And in some cases, places that aren’t even venues!” he argues. He has a point; the whole day is really a well-disguised and hugely successful marketing project so naturally the novelty of bigger bands playing pubs is part of the whole push from the corporations. “Irish bands do feature quite highly” he continues, “I was listening to the radio on the way down (to the gig) and there were loads of Irish acts featured in the live broadcast. I think we get a good look in. We’ve played it the last two years. There’s definitely a healthy mix”. >Continued on page 14
songwriter and not write many hits, but you could write this one song that is and your whole twenty or so years of writing came to this. It could be a great story, you know? It would be great to have an avenue like that for songwriters.” Paul also confessed the selfless truth behind wanting to be a part of the show, “We don’t use other people’s songs, we never have, but part of the reason we did this was to raise the profile of the songwriter. It opens the door to the music industry and provides some transparency for them”. It definitely reflects the various ways that musicians can make it in the music industry. The reality being that you might not be the ones on the stage but you could be equally successful behind the scenes - writing songs, producing – so many various unconventional avenues that can be travelled in the industry to great heights.
“...We don’t use other people’s songs, we never have, but part of the reason we did this was to raise the profile of the songwriter.”
“...always been re-spun but never reinvented from the perspective of the songwriter” <Continued from page 12
Straight off the success of their gig we talked about Royseven’s latest single ‘Sidelines’ which went in at number 1 on iTunes – at least it’s sort of their single. It was the product of a recent “music-based reality show with a twist” called ‘The Hit’ on RTÉ which showcased unsigned Irish talent pitching their songs to be selected by an act who would then take the song they believe to be a hit and work it to their own style. The result for Royseven was ‘Sidelines’ which propelled to the top of the Irish iTunes chart. Getting involved was something that Paul and the band were very interested in from the start. “They asked me to present it, but then Royseven were asked to be involved and obviously we liked the idea. I pitched it to
them and they all loved it” Paul enthuses, “I think it’s an interesting take on the reality show format that’s always been re-spun but never reinvented from the perspective of the songwriter”. In an increasingly saturated online environment and the changing structures of the music industry it can often be a confusing mess and daunting for emerging talent to effectively use modern tools at their disposal to promote themselves. I put forward to Paul the question of the effectiveness of these tools in promoting yourself. “There are actually very few (effective) avenues but I think if shows like ‘The Hit’ were to come back then it would be a great opportunity for songwriters of all ages. You could be a
Reminiscing on the start up of Royseven, Paul dished out some memories and advice on his journey and how his experiences have been a series of inevitable ups and downs that emerging talent should be aware of. “The funny things is, when we started we were told by so many managers “Oh, it’s impossible to get a record deal!” – it was a constant story” he says, “It’s the same now. The industry is always going to evolve and whoever is coming in to it now only knows it as of now, so they’re learning as the industry is changing. In many ways the journey is similar (from then to now). We have the internet and networking and there are ways to get yourself out there. It’s a tough industry and it’s always going to be tough”. His blunt honesty is refreshing but on the positive side his remarks show that the same business attitudes have lasted yet the music being produced is as healthy as ever. “In 2007 Universal went and fired our A & R, the guy who signed us, so we were kind of left on the shelf which often happens, it’s a very common story. The record company looks and you and says: “We’re not really sure what to do with you”. The band was released from Universal with a favourable deal, which was lucky for them, yet there was a sinking
feeling of being caught in the doldrums as they weren’t really sure what they wanted to do or where they wanted to go. It was a feeling of starting over that most other bands would give up on but Paul says they relished in that idea. They could call the shots and do things their own way. After hooking back up with their A & R who was now working for Roadrunner Records, one of the top independent labels, things looked up for Royseven. “He called us up a few weeks later and said “do you want to come to Roadrunner?” and that was it!” laughs Paul. Roadrunner Records did seem like an unusual place for Royseven when I discovered this as they are predominantly known for housing the biggest hard rock and metal bands and when I mentioned this to Paul he said it was a result of a shifting industry. The changing dynamics have left genre defined labels having to branch out and take on more pop-oriented bands as the money is literally drying up. It has evidently been a perfect fit for Royseven as ‘You Say, We Say’ attracted the hand of Über-producer Andreas Herbig whose golden production touch catapulted the album to unprecedented success in the Irish music charts. “It took longer than we expected. We were only supposed to be recording for six weeks. I’m glad how it turned out though, that I can look back on it as a positive thing.” Paul remarks on the song writing process. With six members in a band it can often be a challenge and sometimes a chore to have a democratic process approaching the composition of songs before having to even worry about equality in the recording/mixing of an album. Paul understands this all too well and he claims Royseven have always split things right down the middle in order to keep everyone level headed and to maintain good relations amongst the members. “The first album was a learning curve with regards to writing the songs and approaching the business. For the second album, we got to learn how to do things together. I’d bring in a song and everyone would work on it. Everyone gradually came to learn what their role within the band during the song writing process was. We actually sat down before the second album and discussed exactly what we wanted to make – textures, sounds etc. After the break between albums we just wanted something more positive and joyous”. With the success coming from the ashes of the negative sides of the industry the band has managed to tick a lot of the boxes on most bands lists. So what is next for Royseven? What are they itching to accomplish? “I think if we have our way we’ll get to go overseas with this. As a band though you’re only one small part of a larger machine. The record
company is ready to do it and our management has lined up everything for us to do. We’re in limbo a bit at the moment and waiting on it. That is the plan though. We just need to get over there and gig.” The problem the band faces now is that they haven’t oversaturated the market with ‘You Say, We Say’ yet if they go overseas with it they’ll likely be facing another long break between albums. Paul strongly believes there’s life yet in the last record and hopes like any other passionate musician that a wider audience can experience it. Their music definitely has a broad appeal and its success could easily translate across Europe and even stateside.
“As a band though you’re only one small part of a larger machine.”
So with a bright future inevitably ahead for Royseven, I had to ask about any advice he could give to our readers and musicians at MRU who could very well replicate their success story. “The advice I can give, and it’s a clichéd advice but it’s true, and that is you have to do what feels natural to you. It’s pointless trying to listen to the radio and
emulate that. It’s pointless looking at the bands to your right and left, your peers, and wondering if you should be creating that music. I think you need to go and do whatever it is that feels right to you, and sometimes if it feels a little different to what else is going on, that can be a really good thing – the thing. You need to find that thing that is different and put a magnifying glass over it. You run with that.” “When we started there was a definite Irish sound. There was certainly an Irish clique in terms of musicians and the music industry. Other than that most bands weren’t a part of it. I think that’s totally blown open now. I’ve been judging band competitions the last year or two and I’m hearing wonderfully diverse sounds; sounds that have been influenced from all over the world. Bands are helping each other, working together because they realise they’re not actually a competition, they’re working together, towards the same goal with a different product and I think the Irish industry is far healthier now than it was ten or fifteen years ago. Young musicians should be happy with that and embrace it.” Latest album ‘You Say, We Say’ and #1 single ‘Sidelines’ are available on iTunes now. www.royseven.de www.facebook.com/RoysevenOfficial
By Vanessa Baker
wo years after their last single was released, UK pop duo Cushh (Creative, Unusual, Sensual, Hot and Happening) is back with “Fabulous,” a song about being stylish and glamorous. But Emmanuel (E) and Saskia didn’t use their time away from the Billboard Charts to take a holiday. They’ve been busy launching their clothing line, now available in Fenwick and Dorothy Perkins, and are now putting their efforts toward the release of their forthcoming CD out this October 29th. MRU: You took some time away from music to focus on the clothing line. What made you decide to return to music now?
E: We took time away from releasing songs, but we were always writing, in recording studios, and touring. We were also setting up our clothing label, Cushh Clothing. So now we are ready for the next release, hence we are back to release “Fabulous.” MRU: What did you miss most about music while you were away? E: The buzz you get when releasing a single and performing.
MRU: After being away from the music scene for so long, has it been difficult to come back?
E: No, thankfully. We have been on tour and recording, so we have pretty much stayed in touch. Plus our fans seem to still be with us.
MRU: What is the bigger priority for Cushh: the music or the clothing line?
E: Well, it was always about the music, as that is how Cushh began. But now both fashion and music are working really well for us alongside each other. So we work really hard on both businesses to build up the brand “Cushh.”
MRU: Do you think you made the right decision to let the music take a backseat while you worked on the clothing line? E: Yes, because now we can release our songs independently as long as we want.
MRU: What is the biggest challenge in shifting your attentions from fashion to music? E: The music scene is very fast at the moment. There are songs in and out of the charts every day. Fashion is seasonal. MRU: What are some differences you’ve noticed between the fashion industry and the music industry?
E: The music industry is more cut-throat, you have more platforms to get closer to your fans. The fashion industry is more profitable right now. MRU: How are the two industries alike?
E: They both provide a very powerful platform for the brand. And both industries allow us to be creative and put our own Cushh stamp on things.
MRU: What kind of response has “Fabulous” been getting? E: Very good so far. The video has over 30,000 views. We have had radio interviews,
eborn & Fabulous
MRU: You’ve been documenting everything through your YouTube show, “Live Your Dream.” What’s that been like?
E: It is coming together nicely. We have a lot of footage, but we are in talks with production companies who want to use some of the footage for a documentary. So we can’t use them just yet. MRU: What is the Cushh brand about?
E: We are about doing us. Being real with ourselves, and living life to the fullest and being positive, and fabulous, of course. MRU: What are Cushh’s goals?
E: Short-term: To release “Fabulous” and have a good Autumn Winter season with Cushh Clothing. Long-term: To release our debut album and expand Cushh Clothing internationally.
MRU: Where do you ultimately hope to see Cushh end up?
E: Hopefully as a known brand that people will recognise, be inspired by, and relate to. We want everyone to enjoy the music and fashion line. And who knows what else in the future: restaurants, perfume! MRU: What’s next for you? E: Working on our debut album.
some national exposure. So it is building momentum nicely. We can also see that people are pre-ordering it, which we really, really, really appreciate.
performer that can play live.
MRU: What has it been like working with Saskia?
MRU: The music video for the new single, “Fabulous,” features a lot of flashy clothing. Are those Cushh designs?
E: It just happens naturally. I don’t have to force Saskia, we simply get on with it, which is what I need.
MRU: Saskia Lockey has replaced Nicola Ward as Cushh’s female vocalist. What does Saskia bring to Cushh?
E: Saskia is a live singer, which is the direction that I wanted. Also, she is a multiinstrumentalist, which is a very big factor in the direction that we are heading.
E: Some are from Cushh, and others the stylist got for the shoot.
E: Strong vocals. She’s a very good live
MRU: How has the group changed with her on vocals?
By Darragh Mullooly
uring an intimate fire side gathering on Brighton beach, UK, I was treated to an evening of harmonious vocals, and guitar proficiency courtesy of multiinstrumentalist singer/songwriter Hanna Burchell. The Brighton born and may I add youthful looking 46 year old Briton, has been performing since the tender age of 13 and since then, has honed her craft to create quite a name for herself on the UK and Ireland music scene. Burchell's debut, self-produced, solo record "Reach out" can only be described as an eloquent collection of beautifully melodic and heart felt tracks. Soulful yet funky numbers tinged with both spiritual and emotional messages, lyrically and thematically stunning. The kind of record that is playable on any occasion and to suit all moods. Burchell's experimentation with instruments, vocal layering and various genres, is reminiscent of albums from innovative songbirds like Imogen Heap's "Speak For Yourself" and Alanis Morristte's "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie." I caught up with Hanna last week to discuss the art of songwriting where she finds inspiration and an exciting up-coming project. MRU: So Hanna when did you begin writing and performing?
Hanna: I started performing when I was 13 in folk clubs mostly and started dabbling with songwriting at 15.
MRU: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Hanna: I was fortunate enough to have a mentor when I was at school, who taught guitar and singing at break times. She introduced me to the world of songwriting and was very encouraging, so Caroline Ritson was definitely an influence, as well as Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Grace Jones. Thinking of it, mostly Female songwriters. MRU: So, who would you cite as influences now?
Hanna: I could say my 2 year old Nephew Charlie, but more about that later! I know I do not listen to music as much as I did in my teens. I spend a lot of time on the guitar as part of my work as well as to write. When I do get the urge, Imogen Heap, KT Tunstall, Sheryl Crow and Robert Faulkner. There is a lot of good songwriters and music out there.
MRU: Could you describe your style in 3 words? Hanna: Soulful. Folk. Contempory.
MRU: Do you come from a musical family?
Hanna: I would have to say no. There was no music at home when I was growing up, but apparently my Dad played the accordion in cinemas when he was young.
MRU: Are there any ongoing themes that you continuously write about?
Hanna: No particular themes. Songs are mostly born without a preconceived idea, a
lot of the are spiritually or emotionally driven.
MRU: Where do you find inspiration for your music?
Hanna: I'm always inspired to write a song, but the doing part comes in phases, like an impending mood that has to be expressed. I can become lyrically inspired to write a song from a conversation. Musically it is creating the space to just play, not get distracted and something usually spills out. MRU: Where was your first gig?
Hanna: A folk club in Carterton, Oxfordshire but I can't remember the name. MRU: So what other venues/festivals have you performed at? Hanna: I played the Glastonbury Jazz stage, the Interceltique festival in Lorient, Skanneborg in Denmark, the Concord in Brighton and the University circuit in Ireland. MRU: What about airplay?
Hanna: Mostly local radio stations here in Brighton. I haven't plugged myself that effectively yet! MRU: So what's the next step for you?
Hanna: Keep the muse, keep singing and recording, it's what I love to do. I'm not very practical but I will keep trying to promote my albums. I've also almost completed a little side project "Dream Beautiful Dreams", a lullaby album aimed at parent/infants and inspired by my Nephew Charlie.
The luck of The Lookalikes Interview IIIIIIIIIIII
By Alice Stands
he Lookalikes were the biggest band in Dublin in the early 1980’s playing to hundreds of adoring fans at a staggering 4 residencies per week in major venues around the city. With multiple label interest, house record attendances and successful tours in the UK and Europe playing support to a band like Thin Lizzy, one could only assume this band sooner or later, were going to explode worldwide. The question Seán O’Connor, lead singer, frontman and guitarist of the Lookalikes keeps getting asked and wants to answer, once and for all is – ‘what happened?’ As Sean has learned the hard way, there’s music and there’s music business and the two don’t always go hand in hand. His candid story reveals insights into the music world and the luck of the draw. I met Seán at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra for the interview last weekend. Originally known as the Crofton, this once 800 capacity venue in Dublin was where the Lookalikes first made their name as a phenomenon. MRU: How long were you playing together as a band before things started to happen?
Seán: We were playing together about a year before playing at the Crofton. Within 3 gigs, we went from maybe 15 people in the audience to 100 to 500 and so on. There’d be a queue going around the building to get in. Word got around. It was that fast.
MRU: Had The Lookalikes played many gigs previous to this?
Seán: Our first gig was actually the Late Late Show, where we played live which was unusual for a band of our type. It was easy to book a string of gigs around Ireland after that. We had a great guy called Chris Roche, a promotions guy for Warner Brother Records in Ireland who could walk into RTE with a record and they’d never turn him down. We had almost a residency on The Late Late at one stage and every RTE program that had music on it we were on it. The band was in demand, for whatever reason.
MRU: Did you take the band seriously?
Seán: We were all full-time musicians at that point and worked at it. We wanted to be every bit as professional as bands that would have been very big and very popular at the time. We had a very big show – sound, lighting, stage effects. The band was so well rehearsed that if somebody made a mistake during a gig everybody else would just smile. MRU: How did you evolve the Lookalikes sound?
Seán: When we started playing around 1979 we had no direction. We were playing a few original songs and such a diverse spectrum of covers. From talking to people and learning about the business, we all decided we needed to decide on a direction. From that point I started writing more. We rehearsed from 11 ‘til late every day, throwing around ideas. There were three of us in the band that sang lead vocals, myself, Paul, who later left, and Eamon. Peter sang backing vocals. It was decided that I should front the band, be the lead singer and write the songs. I was a bit more rocky than the other three so the songs were written a bit heavier than they were later rehearsed. MRU: You had multiple signing offers,
including EMI and Virgin. Why did you sign with Riva Records?
Seán: Riva Records was owned by Billy Gaff. It was a very wealthy label. It only had two acts, John Cougar and Rod Stewart so we felt they would have time and energy to focus on us. They moved us to London, put us up and got us rehearsing and recording our first single. At the beginning, everything went great.
MRU: Billy Gaff has said in interviews that he came over to Ireland to sign U2 and ended up signing The Lookalikes. Is this what happened?
Seán: No. Billy Gaff never came to Ireland to see us play. He sent his managing director Mike Gill over. It was really Mike Gill who was interested in the band when he signed us. We didn’t meet Billy for about 6 months after being signed. Mike told me personally he felt our music was more suited to America and that’s the market he had signed us for. MRU: You released 3 singles on Riva Records between 1980 and 1982, along with winning a support slot to Thin Lizzy’s UK tour before getting dropped by the label. What happened?
Seán: Two things that can only be put down to terrible timing. Our first single ‘Can I Take You Home Tonight’ was going up the charts very quickly. But there was a program on TV called Horizon exposing ‘hyping’ in the music industry (different ways of getting records into the charts). Every company did it but they focused on Warner Brothers. Riva Records were distributed by Warner Brothers so the record got pulled immediately. A song that would have been a hit in England (it was no. 1 in Ireland) would have been an ideal launching path for us in England. That probably would have helped us in the States as well. MRU: And the other reason?
Seán: The other reason was even worse timing. Our second single ‘Call Me’ was single of the week in Melody Maker, which pretty much guarantees you sales and airplay. I couldn’t understand how there was no reaction to ‘Call Me’ until I realised the single was never released. It was released in Ireland but not in England. I knew then there was something very wrong. What we didn’t know was that apparently Billy Gaff and Mike Gill were lovers. After a period of time, they had a very bad falling out and Mike Gill left the company. It was very bitter. I personally felt and I think the band felt it as well that Billy Gaff was not going to do anything deliberately with us because Mike Gill had signed us. Billy knew Mike Gill was very keen on the band and he knew that he had plans for us in America. Our third single ‘Baby Don’t Leave’ never saw the light of day in England. I actually think it was his bitterness towards Mike Gill that stopped us in our tracks, literally.
We weren’t being financed to do the tour. We got paid for playing but as a support band in that sort of situation the paying wouldn’t pay your petrol bills. So when I say it was costing us money, we were hoping that we would get into different markets.
MRU: What was audience reaction like for the Lookalikes on the European Tour?
Seán: We always got a good reaction. In certain venues we went down equally as well if not better sometimes. Philip even commented that we were going down very well on the tour. He warned us ‘I wouldn’t go down better if I were you’. Indeed, if we had followed up on it, we would have gotten into different markets. There were certain markets that wanted to release our stuff, like parts of Asia that were kind of untapped. We could have been – I’m not saying that it would have happened but there’s quite a possibility – that we could have been popular in a lot of those countries. MRU: Why did the original Lookalikes break up in 1982?
Seán: Everyone got kind of discouraged after we did the second Lizzy tour and possibly a little disillusioned. I wasn’t disillusioned because we went down very well. We could have and should have done an awful lot more than we did. It was the other guys in the band that made the change. There were a lot of egos in the original band and that was the problem.
MRU: What change did they make?
Seán: We used to have a band meeting every week in the Crofton. I came in and everyone was very quiet. They basically said in so many words we don’t want you in the band any more. I didn’t even ask why or question it. I just said ‘ok’. But I wasn’t anticipating this at all. I was flabbergasted.
MRU: Do you think it was a bit of jealousy on their part?
Seán: It’s quite a few things. They were going to continue on as the Lookalikes. What they didn’t realise was that I registered the name so they couldn’t use it. Mike and Eamonn were full of themselves. And it’s not a bad thing in a band to have a few ‘strong people’ but from the experience of living with it and through it, there is a time when you have to let go of it and let someone take control and they just didn’t seem to be prepared to do that. They formed another band instead but it lasted about two months. MRU: Do they have any regrets about their decision to break up the band?
Seán: I met Mike in New York years later and he apologised to me about the whole scenario. He said they handled it very, very badly – and they did. The other guys never said anything to me about it. There was no reason for the way they handled it. MRU: You formed a new band in Ireland
MRU: What happened with the band after that?
Seán: The band was still together and playing non-stop. We came to a mutual agreement to terminate the contract with Riva Records because we would have been stuck to it. We did a second tour with Thin Lizzy around Europe in 1982, which though successful, put a strain on the band, in many ways. MRU: In what way did the Thin Lizzy European tour put a strain on the band?
Seán: The Lizzy tour around Europe was very tough on us because there were long distances between the gigs and we were driving and they were flying so it was very tiring. Thin Lizzy came back to Ireland to play in the RDS for a single date then they were coming back onto the European tour. www.musicreviewunsigned.com
under the Lookalikes name that ended up moving to New York with you in 1987. Did you look for label interest in America?
Seán: It was never my intention to move to New York to live. I went over on a holiday, brought over some demos, found out who booked certain places. I put together a string of original gigs over a two week period. We went over and we did the gigs. It was really just feeling the waters for us. We didn’t even have our own equipment at this stage. But in the middle of it, the guy who owned and ran CBGB’s, who was very well respected in the music business, when he heard our tape was instantly a fan (The Police were signed in CBGB’s to a crowd of 13 people). He invited all these A&R people, about 20 in total. He thought he was doing us a huge favour. Looking back at that in hindsight, we not only should have but we would have been signed if we were better prepared for that gig.
MRU: When you say better prepared, where did it go wrong?
Seán: A very well-known industry lawyer, Owen Epstein (he was U2’s lawyer), came up after the gig and said ‘why did you play for so long?’ We played for an hour, which was a short gig for us. He said ‘if you had stopped after 20 minutes you’d be signed by now. We didn’t know what we were actually getting into. You kind of get one shot and we weren’t prepared for it. MRU: So it was more a lack of experience or knowledge with the way things worked in the industry than anything else?
Seán O’ Connor - Scott Gorham - Mike Mesbur - Phil Lynott
Seán: If somebody had said to me listen, don’t do more than 25 minutes I would have picked out all the best songs and gone out there like a rocket and fired them at them. If I had known the mistakes that I made or what was expected of the band in advance I wouldn’t have played any other gigs, I would have just done the CBGB’s gig and done it to a t. That would have been my main focus, but we just took it like another gig – but it wasn’t just another gig it was a very important gig. MRU: Is signing with a label a good way to go for a band?
Seán: I met a woman who was the vice president in MCA and she explained a bit about the music industry to me. She said ‘if you’re not a priority signing, it doesn’t really matter what you do – unless you get extremely lucky and you just happen to start selling records in decent quantities – there’s a very, very good chance that you won’t be successful.’ She advised me about Owen Epstein, who has since died. She said, ‘when you start getting into negotiations employ him. He’ll get you a deal and they won’t even want to come and hear the band.’
MRU: Hit Factory owner, Eddie Germano signed you to the famous recording studio’s own label Panama Records. Did you put out any albums on this label?
Seán: I didn’t release any albums. I recorded a lot of stuff. There was a very big argument about me between Eddie Germano and
Tommy Mottola (CBS Records). He wanted to sign me for 2.5 million but Eddie wanted 3 million. Eddie, by virtue of the fact I was signed to Panama records, ‘owned’ what I recorded. If Tommy Mottola had signed me and spent that amount of money on me I’d be an international superstar. But they got into this argument over 500 thousand. I know they were friends but there was no way either of them was backing down. They couldn’t bridge the gap. Unfortunately, shortly after that, Eddie Germano died suddenly and that was that.
MRU: Looking back, how do you feel about everything that happened?
Seán: When people say to me and it’s been said so many times ‘God I can’t understand how you guys weren’t huge. Whilst that’s very flattering, people say to me – ‘What happened? Everything was right, you’d great songs, you’d a great band, the guys looked good, every one was able to play…’ and all the rest of it. It might sound like a cliché but we were actually very, very unlucky with the way things worked out. From my own personal point of view, I just liked playing music and that’s what I wanted to do. And that’s what I still do. Success to me would have been recognized for writing good songs. If I made money out of it fine, if I didn’t fine. That wasn’t my driving force by any means. MRU: Would you have liked to be famous? Seán: People have asked me that and I’ve said before ‘I’d like to be incognito’. I’d like to be able to still walk down the street. In
Ireland, I was in bed one morning and my mother said to me, quite literally she woke me up and said ‘Sean, there’s some girls at the door want to talk to you’. I looked out the window and there were about 40 girls in my garden.
MRU: Was this a regular occurrence when you were in the Lookalikes?
Seán: Not to that extent. There were usually 5 or 6, which was more manageable. When we played here, we used to have these postcards of the band. After the gigs we’d go to our dressing room and people would queue up, a couple of hundred people with their postcards to get them signed. They’d always be complimentary about something and we’d thank them for their support and treat them nice and politely. It wasn’t by any means just girls. Lots of guys who’d want to come in and if they were into drums they’d talk to Mike, or if they were into guitar they’d ask me how do you get this sound and I’d always show them. It became a part of what we did, chat to the people and let them ask us questions, and have photographs taken, give you kisses or whatever it was that they wanted to do. I thought it was a very important part of the band. MRU: You played from time to time with Thin Lizzy while they were on tour. How did Phil Lynott’s death affect you?
Seán: It affected me in more ways than one. I played his last gig alive with him in a club in Marbaya. That was about 6 months before he died. I spoke to him then a couple of months later and he was actually in the studio. I got a message to give Philip a call. I called and he asked what I was up to. He
Seán O’ Connor and Eric Bell
said he was thinking of putting Thin Lizzy back together again. He said the new line up would be me and Scott on guitars, Brian on drums and himself on the bass. He said he knew I wrote songs, and that we’ll go through what I write and see what Lizzy will do. I know he had spoken to Scott in or around the same time about getting Lizzy back together again but unfortunately that never materialized because he deteriorated. MRU: What was your best memory of playing with Thin Lizzy?
Seán: Philip used to ask Eric Bell to play with them from time to time because the other guys in the band didn’t want to play Whiskey in the Jar as they regarded it as the old Thin Lizzy. When Eric couldn’t play, he’d ask me to get up. Philip used to get me up to do The
Rocker and Whiskey in the jar at the end of the night, which was a dream come true for me. Everyone going nuts and you’re playing two of the favourite Lizzy songs ever. That was fun.
MRU: Though you’re living in Ireland now for many years, you still have a strong following in New York?
Seán: Yes, my band played there for 11 years. You could take any of those years where on average we played 326 gigs per year. We had a huge following. There’s a lot of places in New York that I could call them up and say listen I’ll be over for a couple of weeks and they’ll book me. I have a full set of gear in New York. I still go there for session work on a regular basis. MRU: Do you think your luck is about to change?
Seán: It would be nice if it did! A lot of people were writing to me and saying can we buy the Lookalikes stuff here or is this available and so on. There’s an awful lot of material that has never been heard in this country before, way more than an album’s worth. I’ll put up some material on download sites and see what happens. I’ve also a new band in Ireland. We’ll be playing original gigs, but that’s a limited market so we will also do classic rock venues to keep everyone going. www.seanoconnor.ie
Phil Lynott and Seán O’ Connor
Review by David Burke
Review by Francis Gavin
Review by Alice Stands
‘Irish groove metal’ eh? Ok then. Zero Tolerance certainly deliver on this front, and remind me how rarely these kind of sounds enter my aural orbit anymore. My loss, the Greater Dublin metal community might proffer. The low-end riff is king here, bolstered by a tight rhythm section - or ‘fingers’, ‘hands and feet’ in the primeval parlance of the band’s Facebook - and the (mostly) controlled angst of Rob Wallace’s ‘throat’. ‘Tall Tales’ and ‘Mountain Face’ kick off the EP with enough vulnerable but muscular rock gusto to slay an army of Iowan adolescents, without ever lapsing into pofaced platitudes; Zero Tolerance are clearly here for a good time, not a long face (not sure about that one). The intensity really ratchets up on third track ‘The Insurgency’, with a particularly impassioned vocal, frenetic snare rolls, wailing leads and the introduction of some sonic variance, a churchily ambient middle section paving the way for an explosive conclusion. ‘Breathe’ alternates a squat groove with sixteen-beat guitar chugs and some rappy phrasing, while closer ‘I Thought The Hurricane Season Was Over’ treats us to some Hammettastic soloing. Does this advance the rock form in any meaningful sense? Not really. But it’s a thoroughly enjoyable impasse. Maybe it’s time I popped down to Fibber’s... www.facebook.com/ZeroToleranceIreand
Waterford band, O Emperor is set to release a double A-side single on the 1st November, with an album due for release in Spring 2013, the single can be pre ordered at the moment on their Bandcamp.com site. Hither Thither, their debut album is an example of quite an accomplished band. With well written songs such as Don Quixote and Don’t Mind Me this band deserves attention. There’s a bit of a change to their sound with the first track, Electric Tongues is an urgent song that builds with a pulsating charge. Certainly, the song conveys loudness; in a live set this one might be a thumper. Erman Gou gets back to the bands more recognizable sound, this one spirals in a 60’s way, effortless and dreamy. A part of me thinks that by releasing a single so early before an album release, it’s a way to gauge reaction. Are these two tracks the best way to judge a future album?—no. ANYTHING is possible. Bands often feel the need to shake things up, a very necessary step for a developing band. O Emperor looks set for a ‘departure’ from their norm; they give the impression, that if they get into the right groove they will be outstanding. As long as they keep aiming for well-crafted melodies they’re a band to watch. www.facebook.com/OEmperor
With a name like Manhattan for a band name, a certain expectation looms over this EP before any track is played. The four-track debut EP, from this Dublin four piece consists of four distinctly different songs, each one giving a little slit into the seemingly complex mind of its song-writer. Remnants of David Byrne or The Flaming Lips comes to mind, particularly on ‘Hypnotise’ and my favourite song of the EP ‘Old City.’ But this band has a long way to go before ever being able to claim a throne of near that status. The opening track ‘1944’ is a driving high energy anthem with a retro feel that with a good remix could modernise into a quality dance track. ‘Circles’ goes down a different road again, with rhythm and guitar reminiscent of Zeppelin. Manhattan seem to have something to say, and I’d like to hear what it is. The songs are full of ideas. With each listen I like them more and more. Whatever you can say about their self-titled EP, they’re doing music they dig. How far they take it is up to them. A good remix is definitely a recommended first step. www.facebook.com/manhattanmusic
The Hurricane Season
Electric Tongues/Erman Gou
Self Titled EP
Johnny Lucas Attention
Review by Niall Healy ‘Please don’t give me any attention’ pleads the titular track from the Warrington singer songwriter’s Debut album. Well I wouldn’t but he’s after writing a decidedly catchy long player that belies the tongue in cheek nature of its title and draws the listener in. Lucas has been plying his trade as a jobbing rock musician for the last seven years and now he has reinvented himself as an indie-pop sounding songsmith. Some changes of style crash and burn miserably but Lucas has carved out an album that is well worth taking notice of. The standout numbers are the almost alt country sensibilities on display with ‘living today’ ‘, it’s a lovely track. ‘Attention’ does what it says on the tin, its catchy melody and jaunty feel bears repeat listening. ‘My heart lies’ is another standout track that is part Cast and part The La’s. ‘Kelly’ is another solid effort that recalls the more playful parts of Parklife. Lucas describes himself as having a strong modernised Britpop sound and to be honest Britpop has its stamp all over this record with its fingers all over this records sound. Lucas has plenty of talent and his vocal is equal parts Alex Turner and Lee Mavers. In short ‘Attention’ is a strong debut showing from a singer who shows a real talent for penning a tune and a keen ear for what makes a decent guitar driven indie pop song. www.facebook.com/johnnylucasmusic
Review by Alice Stands
Review by Catherine Sherlock
The Retrospectives are a promising three piece band from Sheffield, England. At eighteen, they are already competent musicians and song-writers with an ear for a catchy riff and upbeat melodies. The tight rhythms of their debut EP ‘Room with No View’ conveys these boys have been playing together for a while. The four track EP consists of upbeat, summer bopping, festival pleasers at best. The question that arises upon listening is: can the lead singer distinguish himself enough in the Indie/Rock genre to pull off the necessary charisma needed to win over his audience? The lead vocal, though it had a charm, was difficult to hear distinctly amidst the drums, bass and guitar. It left me wanting to know what he was saying without having to hone in astutely on the voice. Considering the vibe of the music is for dancing, this is not a disaster, however a strong vocal is always desirable. The wonderful advantage for The Retrospectives is that they’ve got time on their side to develop their abilities. This is a very strong first effort overall. www.facebook.com/TheRetrospectives
On reading that Tristan Carroll has performed at Knockanstockan and has shared the stage with the likes of the Barley Mob and the Delorentos I was excited to see what the Kildare native had to offer. However, after listening to Neon Lights I have to say I was a little disappointed. Carroll has been regarded as “one of Ireland’s most unique up and coming singersongwriters”, and is undeniably a talented guitarist. I love to chill out to some acoustic tunes and with Carroll being compared to Newton Faulkner and Antoine Dufour I had very high hopes for this single. Neon Lights features some really great acoustic guitar playing, it is upbeat and easy on the ear, without being boring and generic. However, despite this I found the song as a whole to be messy. Once the drums and vocals kick in the guitar was lost on me as I found myself focusing more on the vocals, which left much to be desired and in the end it sounded like the kind of song you would hear belted out by a friend after a night out. To be fair to Carroll, one song is not nearly enough for anyone to get a good impression of any artist and I feel that with better recording quality and an equally talented musician by his side he could do much better. Carroll is still a relatively new performer and hopefully with time he will perfect his sound. It would be a shame for his guitar playing to go unnoticed. www.facebook.com/tristancarrollmusic
Room with No View
Review by Eamon Murray
Review by Stephen White
Review by Francis Gavin
Sandra Coffey is a singer-songwriter from Galway, you can hear instantly that she has a classical quality to her voice. My problem isn’t with her voice, as her tuning is perfect on her debut single ‘Mascara Girl’, it’s the lyrics that unfortunately don’t quite cut the mustard on this one. Mascara Girl is full of every cliché in the book, the song opens with lines like- “glass of wine, work all done”...“I get what I want ‘cause I’m a mascara girl”. It’s full of literal references to perfume, clothing and jewellery from start to finish. Now maybe I missed something, but it feels that lyrically, there’s a marathon to go. The song talks about a woman getting ready to go out for the night from start to finish. There’s not much to get emotionally involved with here, unless you’re into hearing about how the lady’s dress is looking, how much flesh it shows and that apparently her ‘scent is on the wind’...mmm, thought not. Whilst Sandra has a good voice and the production isn’t bad, there’s a couple solid instrumental breaks featuring people who can obviously play. The song just isn’t good enough to swim alongside the quality there is in the song writing scene in this country. Apparently this is an effort from Sandra after only 2 years in the game, so hopefully she has some better material up her sleeve. I don’t think Mascara Girl is to be the next song we’ll all be rushing to illegally download, I look forward to hearing Coffey’s good vocal on a much better song. www.sandracoffey.ie
California based singer-songwriter Willie Ames’s latest release Night Owl is an interesting album that depicts the artist as an old school folk troubadour in the style of Woody Guthrie or more recently Josh Ritter. The bouncing interplay between Ames’s guitar and banjo skills create a well-crafted harmonic tapestry for the young artist to explore. The title track ‘Night Owl’ finds Ames at his most brooding and dark. The solid grooving percussion and arpeggiated guitar lines provide the piece with a strong foundation for Willie to give a snarling vocal performance comparable to Josh Ritter circa ‘So Runs The World Away’. Night Owl showcases Ames’s talents as a musician, moving from guitar to banjo with relative ease. The instrumental composition ‘Stumbling Home’ creates an interesting break in the album, highlighting the musician’s abilities. However Ames cover of ‘Never Going Back Again’ seems redundant. To cover a track written and performed to high level by the original artist, Lindsey Buckingham, is a risk and perhaps better left to live performance than committed to tape. Willie Ames is a talented and honest artist, whose musical style is an interesting mix of old school folk and the more alternative take on genre performed by the likes of Ryan Adams and Josh Ritter. With more time spent touring and recording Ames could refine his sound and gain the same notoriety as his peers. www.willieames.bandcamp.com
Bright sounds strikingly American, like a soundtrack from a teeny programme. Fronted by Annalise Bush, describing herself as Indie/Pop-- the album is Pop to my ears. One of the biggest purveyors of this genre was The Corrs, some might snigger at that band from Dundalk; they had some catchy tunes, even if they are sugary. (Pop done right—is ecstasy). The band get through it all in a very bright and youthful fashion. There is a duet with an American Idol contestant-Tim Halperin, called Running Deep In Love, it does its best to soar, this track and Bright are the stand alone tracks. The vocals on Bright tend to falter, this song needs the right kind of singer. I can only imagine, what if Adele got her hands on this song? On track 5, Capture Me, Annalise sings parts of the song in a high register, not a good idea, she barely scrapes by. She describes herself as ‘inexperienced,’ putting music out there will sort that out. It’s clear that this collection is very much from a puppy love perspective, and any criticism should be kept in proportion, might it seem like I’m hitting a baby rabbit with a shovel. 2/6, this is music for a young audience. www.facebook.com/aprilemade
The Autumn Portrait
Review by Shane Leahy
Review by Paul Murphy
Review by Francis Gavin
Tired Love, the sophomore release from Canadian troubadour Freddie Mojallal, aka The Autumn Portrait, is an album that throws up little surprises, but is all the better for it. Described in the marketing blurb as ‘heartfelt folk music’, a term viewed with great suspicion by the more high-minded music scholars amongst us, the album punches well above its weight, due mainly to Mojallal’s buttery smooth vocals. A three piece band including guitar, violin and percussion flesh out the simple melodies creating a delicate sound scape similar to the neo-folk stylings of Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes and the more pop orientated designs of Ed Sheeran. The harmonies on Can I Come Back Home? call to mind the best of the Finn brothers (of Crowded House fame) whilst the title track is tailor-made for a particularly syrupy Scrubs finale. This Air Don’t Fill My Lungs So Good is the most sing-a-long track on the album, replete with catchy chorus and chiming major chords. The tone of the lyrics is suitably vulnerable and are further underscored by the relatively raw nature of the most of the arrangements – the production is thankfully lightweight and allows the songs to quietly speak for themselves. Some of the tracks do cede into one another a little too easily, with little change in tempo or tone (this is a folk album after all!), but on the whole this is a really decent effort that deserves a dutiful listen. www.facebook.com/theautumnportrait
Alexa Merlot, an Irish band residing in London, has just released their first EP, Red & Purple. The band’s ‘epic’ rock influences are immediately apparent on the first listen which leaves the EP immediately devoid of originality. However they are not alone, many bands working within the confines of their favourite genres are bound to be tied to the ostensible influences of their ‘hero’s’ and Alexa Merlot may be destined for greater things given the chance. The EP will certainly raise a few ears from lovers of Muse to Annie Lennox and Alexa Merlot will no doubt acquire their strength from this circle of fans. Opener Sweet Lease of Life is a lyrically weird but brooding ballad that progress’s towards a crescendo of emotion. Title track Red & Purple could easily compete with the latest Florence & The Machine offering. Stay and Insomnias Kiss follow the same pattern dressed in a different Harmony, The EP won’t be for everyone, granted, however Alexa Merlot shouldn’t be totally ignored for all of lead singer Alexa’s dull Paramour-esque ululations there’s a pitch perfect and powerful voice just waiting to inject a new cadence into the bands soulful take on the genre. www.alexamerlot.bandcamp.com
If you need proof that Nirvana still has the power to influence, Radio Friendlies provide that proof. No real complaints about that, you might say. However, the band on this EP has embraced Nirvana and don’t look like letting go. To see young lads hammering out tunes is one of the mainstays of Rock, it gladdens the heart. This trio from Dublin consist of Stevin King, (vocals/guitar) Kevin Keane, (bass) Dara Coleman (drums) All The Girls has The Dandy Warhols written all over it, the strongest of the four tracks, its chorus provides a contrast to the Warhol’s vibe. Cry rolls Pop and Punk into one, so the Nirvana influence introduces itself. We need influences to make us get up and go, after that, we should continue on our own steam. Dead starts in a far corner and then makes itself known with its searing lines. Let’s Go, Explode, does exactly that. The sound, overall, is very much under the covers. Something needs to be turned up and it’s not the amps. The title could be taken as a statement of intent, of an ideal musical world perhaps; are there too many radio friendlies on the airwaves? There’s no doubt these guys love what they do, long may it live, but this is not enough. Their first gig ‘ended in smashed guitars’, the drawing board needs to be smashed instead. www.radiofriendlies.com
Red & Purple
There Is No Radio Friendlies
You Will Always Want More (and Never What Is In Your Hand) Review by David Burke
“Key To The City” acts as a fitting Clear For Takeoff with middle(ish) song for the album. Beginning a sole, picked guitar melody, the number Line of Fire builds to a comparatively slower, measured and more emotive composition, creating a
Review by Dean Ruxton
It’s not often you hear a band for the first time and immediately have its music resonate in your memory for hours after the encounter. Clear For Takeoff flawlessly provides just that experience. Hailing from Maryland, this four-piece has been gathering a substantial following with an impeccably polished, modern pop-rock sound. The members are Brendan Biondi (vocals/guitar), Marc LaMartina (vocals/keys), Joey Enste (bass) and Joe Whiting (drums); their latest studio stint has produced their second EP, a six-track album entitled “Line of Fire”. “Voices (Letting Go)” kicks off the album and brings a well composed, full number with a catchy, enormous-sounding chorus hook to the table. Straight away bands like Fall Out Boy, Billy Talent and even a shave of MCR creep through the cracks, setting the tone and more importantly the quality for the rest of the EP. Accompanied by an intricate piano track and loud, driving drum and rhythm sections, the dual vocal set-up between Brendan and Marc creates a great musical dynamic with some fantastic harmonies. Although lyrically the verses tend to borderline on theatrical, the effect of utilising two talented vocalists really pushes the quality of the track to a higher level.
suitable balance between its more upbeat surrounding tracks. Stylistically speaking, I can’t help but feel that this inclusion could quite comfortably slot into any Green Day album post-2004. The second half of the album sways slightly from the nosebleed-high standards set by the opening tracks. The last three songs, although well composed, lack the initial impact and innovation boasted by their predecessors. A highlight of the latter half of “Line of Fire” is undoubtedly “Second Street Part II”. The song begins with a high-tempo strummed guitar which is reinforced by a rhythmicallyinjected, thick bass line. The musical intro is then met with a vocal track that has an almost “Panic! at the Disco” urgency about it; the song ultimately concludes as arguably the most sophisticated composition on the EP. Clear For Takeoff have managed to forge a sound that undoubtedly grants it an individual place in a genre that is plagued by unoriginality. In “Line Of Fire”, Clear For Takeoff has produced a diverse and highly impressive record which would be capable of staking its claim amongst products of any contemporary comparable outfits. Despite its quality, the band is relatively young and its following is perhaps not as extensive as the quality of this music demands. Based on what I’ve seen, I would certainly expect that to change. www.cftband.com
The fourth EP by self-styled nu-jazz artiste Caroline Ty showcases a provocative and distinctly English voice, albeit not in any stereotypical sense. I’m not sure exactly what nu-jazz entails as a collective term; this set certainly offers a synthesis of conventional jazz voices, liberal vocal phrasing and electronic textures, but I suspect Ty operates largely in a category of her own. Though reliably tonal, her voice has a bold, post-punk quality which banishes any expectations of smooth, radiofriendly contemporary jazz, but as Florence Welch has proven in the indiepop arena, sometimes the radio favours an echo of the Banshees over the Brand New Heavies. Ty, however, operates in a lower register in every sense, her visceral delivery wringing every last drop of emotion from failed relationships (‘Holding Your Smile’) and psychic uncertainty (‘Will I Be Broken Tomorrow?’). Although the latter’s repetitive two-chord clatter tries somewhat, there is a mischievous melodrama in Ty’s indulgent wallowing which cannot fail to captivate. While the lovely Vince Clarke-ish synth lines of the intriguingly titled ‘Put Down Your Cry’ deviates pleasingly from the nu-jazz template (I think), closer ‘Let’s Waste The Afternoon’ offers the perfect snapshot of Ty’s profile: it’s very evocative exhortation to go on the doss marrying pastoral bacchanalia – low horns crowing from the hedges – and the bustle of a busy bass line. It’s difficult to spot a niche for this music, but equally difficult to find a fault. www.facebook.com/carolinetymusic
Let's Talk About Adelleda
Review by Julie Duff
Review by Kevin Carney
Canadian punk band Adelleda are known for frenzied live shows that get the audience moving and the fists pumping. On this four-song EP, it's easy to find out why. Opening track 5 Months in England kicks off the album in energetic style. A fast, fun song about self-destruction. The song ends on a hilarious note with "maybe it's just the fucking weather!" Faster, heavier song Just A Shame has a slow build-up that leads to a riff equivalent to a kick in the teeth. The growling and screaming from Adam Shea really helps to bring out the aggression. Don't Worry I'm Drunk doesn't add much, but throws in electrifying guitar solo for good measure. While not showing the band at their best, It works as a single. The album finishes with Motörheadespue rocker Champion, which ends the album in thrilling fashion, with Shea screaming his guts out and an electrifying guitar solo from Chris Allen. Acknowledgement should go to drummer Simon Marshall, who is unrelenting in his pounding of the skins and never once slows down. Verdict: 5/6. One thing's absolutely certain, Adelleda really know how to make songs with which to whip a crowd into a frenzy and start a good mosh pit. www.facebook.com/adelleda.punkrock
Barman by day and wannabe rockers by night is how the trio “Straw” describe themselves. Sound intriguing? That is because it is and they are. “Straw” is an international group consisting of Mark Krupnikovs hailing from Latvia and he writes, sings and plays guitar, Juno Jang from South Korea also writes, sings and plays the guitar while Martino Mattu from Italy is on drums. The group have ventured to London in order to create music together and hopefully get tunes heard by music lovers. So far Straw has released one single entitled “4 Aveline” and they are currently shooting the music video for their upcoming single “Let Me Sing.” The group have a vast array of songs online. Their debut single “4 Aveline” was a great introduction into the music world. The powerful chorus will make you just want to get up and dance like a maniac. Their upcoming single “Let Me Sing” instrumentally somewhat reminded me of “The Killers” back when they started out. The bands European influence is evident and clear throughout all of their songs yet somewhat more pushed to the forefront in “Let Me Sing.”
It would be difficult not to mention one song from Straw that stuck out in my mind. “When I can see your face” shows a different side to Straw and it is a side that I think should be explored more by the band. The song is mostly acoustic and completely toned down in comparison to the pumped up instrumentals in their other songs. “When I can see your face” is very haunting and belongs on a movie soundtrack without a doubt. Straw should definitely drive down the acoustic road more often as that is where their greatness lies. Straw states that their music is aimed to “make you smile, dance and look cool at the same time.” It will certainly make you smile and dance yet the coolness would be another matter. Straw will no doubt make you hot instead from all of the dancing you would do to their songs. Reminiscent of various groups such as “The Saw Doctors”, “Artic Monkeys” and a dab of “Franz Ferdinand”, it is difficult to pin Straw down. Straw has great potential and the collective efforts musically of such a diverse trio make me curious as to what they will create in the studio in the future.
Near Musical Express Review by Niall Healy
Generator Ohm Upon the Me Om I
Photo by Vanessa Rondon
Review by Kevin Carney Brooklyn rock quartet set out to create an identity for themselves, and on this their debut album they do just that. Bass-heavy track Lemming Shuffle opens the album. A song about people following blindly, it sets the tone for what is to come. The opening riff and distorted bass line and vocals make They Can See Us an unsettling song. The fills and bizarre lyrics establish this as an uneasy listen, though in a good way. On Platius Ernest D'amaso continues to display his varied and unusual vocal style. Daniel Fern kicks it up a notch on the guitar for this more fast-paced track, with lyrics discussing regret and unpaid dues. Opening with a grainy, scratchy distortion Smoke Eater quickly kicks into a fast-paced riff, with drummer Mikopolis Morales in unrelenting fashion. The band continue in the same insane vein as on the previous songs, with such out there lyrics as: "Fish eyes and Math won't dance at the party." Marginal Hop gives us the perspective of a mental patient. The lyrics give us the gritty details of institutionalisation; confusion, heartache and emptiness. The changing pace of the melody helps reflect the song's grisly subject matter. The groaning vocals and eerie melody establish Lynarco's Men as the album's darkest offering. The song's gloomy lyrics only emphasize this even further. Youth in Arms discusses the slow rate of the Earth's self-destruction, with lyrics like: "God dont care to euthanize, he prefers to bleed us all out." The most impressive
musical factor of this song are the guitar solos from Chen, with a heavy jam session thrown in at the end. Loss of hope from loneliness takes the focus in Devotion in Flux. This is complimented by the variety in vocal style, softer on the verses, but distorted and aggressive on the chorus. First Encounters of the Worst Kind is a song about the failure of a relationship. Bitter lyrics tell the story of someone who ends things with their partner and cannot stand to see them again. This track starts at a slow pace, but builds up speed as it progresses, before ending with a slow-paced guitar solo. This solo stands out as the album's most varied and enjoyable. Devout, Devour tells the tale of being friends with the wrong people. The protagonist surrounds themself with wicked people, and it ultimately leads to their downfall. Yukon Tempest closes the album with a departure from what has preceded. The song is for all intents and purposes an instrumental; with the only lyric repeated over and over again ("You've got your war"). Though different from the other songs, it stays within the same vein and brings the album to a satisfying close. Verdict: 6/6. With varied vocal styles, accomplished guitar solos and inspired, outthere lyrics Upon the Me Om I entertains and challenges the listener from beginning to end. www.facebook.com/generatorohm
Dublin Radio station Near FM is now in the record business. They have released ‘Near Music Express’ as a kind of musical selection box. It’s a grab bag of efforts from artists signed to the label and highlights the talent on board. There’s ten tracks in total from five different acts and it shows a real divergent mix of styles and genres. First up are the The Rattling Kind they are an emerging band from the Northside of Dublin, who put a modern indie rock spin on folk and traditional music. Their two tracks ‘Leave Your Problems At The Door’ and ‘Friend I Call Mine’ are reminiscent of Damien Dempsey and open the album up nicely. Next up are Johnny and The Beep Beeps, the four piece rattle through the energetic and up tempo ‘Hoosh’ and bring an infectious enthusiasm and swirling guitar drive to ‘Heels Clicking’. They’ve a crisp and raw sound. Band66 are the third act of offer and of their two tracks ‘Call my name’ is the standout, it’s a wellpaced and catchy indie pop number from the newcomers. Axial Symmetry presents a heavier sound on their offering, it’s not really my kind of thing but there’s a tightness to their sound and they clearly work well together as a group. Closing out the album are The Statics, their two songs are a fitting end to the album and they show off their sixties tinged pop melodies. ‘Come round’ is a really top notch number that was my standout number from the album. It highlights the band’s strengths and displays a really strong grasp of melody. All in all the album is a good indicator of emerging talent in the Irish music scene and is well worth a listen to. www.facebook.com/nearrecords
No TV Tonight!! American Excess
Review by Shane Leahy
Review by Dean Ruxton
Prog-rock is a bit like liquorice; you either love it or you hate it. The Manchester based two-piece ‘turbo-prog’ band, Cleft, elicit a similar response, though with time and no little patience they might even become an acquired taste. The songs on the band’s latest EP, whose cover art feature’s one of the most famous chins (albeit not a cleft one) of all time, that of football personality Jimmy Hill, compress ‘14 minute time dilating’ prog songs into 3 minutes of music – no mean feat one might argue. When prog-rock is done well - early Genesis and Pink Floyd for instance, the results can be era-defining. When selfindulgence takes over, however, all one is usually left with is white noise and wishing you could have your fourteen minutes back. The songs on ‘Whale Bone’ are perhaps most readily aligned with those of the math-rock genre, a musical movement whose origins can be traced to the American mid-west in the late 1980’s. Opening track ‘Gulch’ is built upon a schizophrenic drum pattern, dissonant chords and heavy metal riffs. ‘Trapdoor’ is an altogether more earfriendly affair, opening with Jack Whiteesque guitar touches (listen to the section at 1.55) and then segueing into quasistadium rock. ‘Interglutial’ wins the prize for most obscure song title (don’t Google ‘interglutial cleft’ if you’re easily excited/offended!) and features some deft guitar work and arm-achingly heavy drumming. Closing track ‘Flexuous’ is the most accessible track for straight-rock fans with its solid central riff and more mainstream time signature. Fans of heavy metal will enjoy this collection of songs, especially if they like the dissonant patterns that math rock brings to the party. Everyone else will find it tough going though, and will no doubt reach for something more palatable...like lemon bonbons. www.cleftband.co.uk
No TV Tonight!! Is a brand new punk rock band from Brooklyn, NY; its members are Jaime Marcelo (vocals, guitar), Sarah Soller-Mihlek (vocals, bass) and Matt Storm (drums). The “American Excess EP” is an intensely punk-packed three track record which was released in July of this year. “Coincidence and Fate” starts the EP with a bang. It’s a straight-up punk track with very audible old school influences and some astronomically high energy levels. This track also puts me in mind of later punk outfits (Bodyjar jumps out immediately) and sets the tone and tempo nicely for the following numbers. Next up, “Science” is a frantic one-anda-half minute homage to both scientific knowledge and Walter White AKA “Heisenberg”, the fictional main character of AMC’s hit TV show “Breaking Bad”. This song keeps the energy set by its predecessor well and alive and combines two production effects which I both adore and frankly miss; its short, impactful length
and its use of a sound bite from the TV show to which makes reference. Very cool. It doesn’t hurt that I also love “Breaking Bad”. The third track, “Your Finer Flaws”, veers from the monogamous punk relationship boasted by the first two numbers. More melodically-conscious vocal melodies combined with the inclusion of a fitting breakdown around the two minute mark create an almost middle-era Green Day pop punk feel. “Your Finer Flaws” perhaps has more going on musically when compared to the first two songs and capably concludes the record. To put it simply, No TV Tonight!! encompasses a lot of what I miss in just about any contemporary rock genre and the American Excess EP is an awesome, head banging, high-energy record which leans heavily on ageing influences without sounding out-dated. If raw, no-nonsense punk is in any way your thing, do yourself a massive favour and give these guys a shot.
Ruairí and the Owls Fishing in your Dark Review by Niall Healy
Black Sixteen Self Titled EP
Review by Dean Ruxton
Black sixteen is a relatively newly-formed London based band consisting of Amir Kahn (vocals, guitar), Matt Burn (drums), Alex Brock (bass) and Laura Sepp (keyboards). The overall sound noticeably takes pieces from the individual members’ musical pasts, creating a gothic, grunge driven hard rock sound with some lingering atmospheric and metal nuances. “Choke” is one of Black Sixteen’s numbers which leans more towards straight up metal; the song features some standard heavy, driving riffs with keyboardist Laura providing a less macabre, contrasting melody remnant of 80s synth-pop. Mixed with a raw, distorted vocal and some nice snare rolls, the elements of this song contribute to an overall effect which is common throughout Black Sixteen’s entire 7-track EP. “Nude Model” is an interesting inclusion which begins with an almost Korn-like bass line, building to a well measured piece which boasts an ambient, distorted vocal track and the most sophisticated melodies on the EP. There’s a tempo change around the halfway mark in which a lacklustre guitar line kicks in, attempting to drag the song out of its comfortable, slow melodic groove into a more hard-rock affair. This alteration falls short as the distorted, impact-free guitar track lacks power or texture. It’s undoubtedly one of the band’s best, but it probably should’ve stopped at 2:30.
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Photo by Brendan Cleaves
Other interesting tracks available for download include “Red Light Princess” which begins with a great lullaby-type melody which is juxtaposed to a heavy, offbeat guitar track and “Ghost Kiss” which features an impressive, throat-wrenching scream around the midway point. Black Sixteen encompasses a standard angst-ridden gothic/hard rock sound that could compete with outfits of a similar genre. However, the run-of-the-mill heavy rock riffs, mixed with a borderline overuse of the same vocal distortion, unfortunately portray the band as slightly unoriginal. The music is quite good, but if you’re in anyway eclectic with your music preferences, Black Sixteen may not present you with anything you haven’t heard before. These London based rockers can perhaps take solace in the versatile keyboard playing of Ms Sepp which balances the overall sound well and brings something new to the table. The production value of the recordings themselves could be better; this perhaps bears some responsibility for the overall impression of middle-of-the-road quality at times, in which case there’s always the chance that seeing the live show may be a more rewarding experience than downloading the EP. www.facebook.com/blacksixteen
So you co-write and play bass for a band. You’re always noodling away writing solo material, so what do you do next? Well if you’re Ruairi Connolly then you get a few friends together who also happen to be musicians (Leanne Doherty /Betty lee and the blondes and Conor Crampsie/Exit pursued by bears) and you throw together your noodling and record yourself a side project. It helps if the record happens to be rather spiffing. That was 2011’s his debut E.P 'Rip through her sky' recorded as 'Owl Parliament', now what? Well they’re back, they’ve changed their name (Ruari and the Owls), theres a new band member on board (Mike Hamill) and they have a new record. ' Fishing in your dark' is the new release from Connolly and co. and the good news is they’ve released another perfectly formed EP. Single 'Let you out' is a tremendous song, its euphoric pop with an undertone of soulfulness that goes a long way. You get two singers for the price of one on this track with Stevie Martin AKA ‘Rainy Boy Sleep’ chirping in on proceedings. Opening track ‘Vapour’ is the kind of power pop Belle & Sebastian used to make. It’s a catchy number that burns its way into your mind. ‘Tired Eyes’ shifts down a gear and is more of an anthemic /ballady number that is perfectly pleasant and shows the outfits range. It’s a lovely track. Last number ‘Boomerang’ deals with the familiar theme of lost love and closes off proceedings nicely. The Limavady native has fashioned an interesting sophomore effort that’s chockfull of decent melodies and solid lyrics. Leanne’s backing vocals compliment Connolly’s vocals well and Crampsie’s percussion really ties things together well. Ruairí and the Owls has been getting plenty of good write-ups and on the evidence of this release they’re well deserved. They’re an act I shall be making an effort to catch live. I suggest you do the same. www.facebook.com/RuairiConnollyMusic
Queen of Alimony Review by Vanessa Baker
Holy Vessels’ second single, Queen of Alimony, has less country flavour than their previously released single, Springtime Bloom. The heavy drums and guitars combine with gritty vocals to give the song a bit of a 70s rock feel. The familiar sound draws listeners in and lulls them into the world of Holy Vessels. The lyrics, at close listen, contrast with the gruff beat, revealing poetic language and flowery lines like, “A bucket full of rosemary dreams,” and, “She’s a Mona Lisa looking to scream.” The five-man Brighton band, who describe themselves as “south-coast psychedelicists playing roots-flavoured rock & roll music,” planning to release their debut album, Last Orders at Marshall Arms, on November 12th through their own label, Hello Babe! Records. The different sounds of Springtime Bloom and Queen of Alimony suggest listeners are in for a whole host of musical styles and experiences when the fulllength album comes out. This song, while very enjoyable, doesn’t stand out much on its own and doesn’t showcase the band’s sound or range in the same way as their first single. As part of a compilation, however, it is likely to add to the Holy Vessels’ head-bopping, genreexploring sound. Queen of Alimony was released for download on October 1st. www.facebook.com/holyvessels
Self-Titled EP Review by Catherine Sherlock
Pigeon Park’s five members; Nick Weber (Vocals), Kevin Okabe (Guitar), Logan Pacholok (Guitar and Vocals), Artur Leppert (Bass) and Hunter Elliott (Drums), have been working extremely hard since they came together in 2008. With two albums and two Canadian tours under their belt, Pigeon Park put forward a pretty impressive résumé. They cite their influences as Led Zeppelin and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and so I was looking forward to hearing their self-titled EP, which was released on the 31st of August. The opening track Lovelight is a radio friendly song with a heavy riff and clear classic rock influence, I could see the song working really well live, however, as the opening track it is a bit of a let-down as it doesn’t really build up to much and it failed to keep my attention. With the opening track being a little bit disappointing I had great hopes for Figures which, despite reminding me of a cheesy country song, was pretty enjoyable. It had an upbeat, feel-good vibe to it, a very commercial tune, but a good one all the same. My favourite track on the EP is It’s Not Likely, on hearing it I first thought of acoustic State Radio and Mumford and Sons, it has a relaxed, folky sound to it, definitely a song that wouldn’t sound out of place at Electric Picnic. The only downside to the track was its length, at only 1 minute 22 seconds long I found myself wishing it was longer. Statues of Feathers on the other hand had
the opposite effect on me. Over 5 minutes long, this song seriously lacked structure and sounded like 3 different songs had been badly edited together. The first 2 minutes could have been written by Pink Floyd (think Hey You), and the rest of the track became a mishmash of country and classic rock. Perhaps Pigeon Park were hoping to show off their wide range of talent, but the lack of continuity and focus made this song confusing to the ear. The following track, Only Us Fools sees Pigeon Park return to the same style heard in It’s Not Likely, listening to this song made me think of driving down a dusty highway in America, it’s definitely a road-trip song and made up for the confusion in Statues of Feathers. Hopeless, the final track on the record, definitely caught my attention, mostly because I thought Prince was a guest vocalist, but also because the guitar playing on this track was exciting, energetic and could have belonged on a Led Zeppelin album. This song, while not my favourite, is definitely the most electrifying song on the EP. I can only imagine how it would sound live! Pigeon Park are clearly capable of writing and playing many different genres of music however this record would have been much more enjoyable if they had stuck to one. For me Only Us Fools and Figures were the most enjoyable tracks but overall Pigeon Park’s EP is a pretty good one and I would definitely recommend it for country and classic rock fans. www.pigeonparkmusic.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Danielle Lyndsay Genesis
Review by David Burke
Shattered Skies Review by Dean Ruxton
Shattered Skies is an up and coming metal band from Co Wicklow, Ireland. The first thing to say about these lads is that the term “metal” may be an over simplification of the band’s sound, which boasts intricate, atmospheric melodies and song writing that goes above and beyond the confines of a single genre. First impression of Shattered Skies is a tight four piece with the individual skill level of each musician being immediately clear. The members of Shattered Skies are Sean Murphy (vocals), James Dunne (bass), Ross McMahon (drums) and Ian Rockett (guitar/keyboards). Their latest single “Saviours” is a great track and has a lot going on. The drumming is outstanding with some examples of incredible double-kick footwork and Ross also has a skill that is missed by most metal drummers these days; he knows when to calm it down. Vocalist Sean Murphy shows a powerful voice and an impressive range, if in parts being stylistically a bit “80’s-rockballad”. Both the bass and guitar performances for this track contain edgy and interesting riffs with some very neat and impressive tapping interludes from Mr Rockett. A song which perhaps best portrays the
bands progressive roots is “As the Sea Divides”, which begins with a long electronic keyboard intro, blending with a great piano melody before the song ultimately drops and kicks in to a driving full-band crescendo. Other tracks which stand out include “Attrition” and “This Is What We Built” from the band’s EP “Reanimation”. As if Shattered Skies versatility wasn’t evident enough within its own written music, a rendition of Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody”, available on the band’s soundcloud profile, is definitely worth a listen. Although the band name falls into a category of the arbitrary apocalyptic nonsense that is usually a clichéd trademark for modern metal bands, it’s a cosmetic detail and the music remains very good stuff. Shattered Skies have been busy gigging internationally, selling a more accessible, contemporary version of metal than that of similar outfits. If the quality of the song production keeps up to the benchmark already set by these lads, they should undoubtedly be busy for some time to come and with a debut album release scheduled for early 2013, there is certainly bright skies ahead. www.facebook.com/shatteredskiesband
Washington, DC’s Danielle Lyndsay offers a listenable set of taut contemporary R&B on her debut Genesis EP. Opener X-Tacy’s martial backbeat evokes Nelly Furtado’s ‘Say It Right’, and while the sonic comparison fades quickly, Lyndsay’s hooky chorus conveys a similar modern pop melodrama. Icy synths recur to heighten the sexual urgency of ‘Deadline’, whose confident shuffle produces a new allegorical spin on a classic pop theme. The EP’s sassy middle child, ‘Such a Lady’ is probably Lyndsay’s best known track, a swaggering statement of intent replete with Timbaland ‘hyeahs’ and electro Western bullet pings; its fast rhyming, however, exposes a certain thinness in Lyndsay’s voice which is otherwise an asset in showcasing her strong melodies. The set’s remaining tracks support this, particularly closing number ‘Rapture of the Sin’, which, teen-baffling Biblical imagery aside, demonstrates a real knack for chart-troubling urban balladry. Lyndsay knows her way around a hit tune (witness the powerful breakdownoutro on ‘Beautiful Disaster’) and, the odd minor error of judgement aside – the over-prominent vocal mix on ‘X-Tacy’, tacky MOR guitar intro on ‘Beautiful Disaster’ and clichéd anonymous background hollers – this release gives her talents a worthy showcase. www.thedaniellelyndsay.com
The Slants The Yellow Album Review by Grainne Logue What do you get if you mix 5 talented AsianAmerican artists with some 80’s throwback disco beats and a license to rock? You get one hell of a band which has become a massive success since it’s origins in Oregon (see what I did there?) in 2006. So say hello to The Slants boys and girls, and no I’m not kidding – that’s their name. ‘The Yellow Album’ is the third full length album offering from this interesting group, who describe themselves as ‘Chinatown Dance Rock’, further adding to the tongue in cheek ethnicity references in this album and their band name; references which got them into trouble with the US Patent and Trademark office, due to claims that it was disparaging to Asians. "It was like banging our head against the wall, trying to convince someone that we were not offensive to ourselves; that the community was in overwhelming support of our band." Despite this and other obstacles over the past 2 years such as unexpected line up changes, The Slants continued to tour regularly and quickly rose in popularity across the US. After a brief and unusual introductory piece, we’re brought straight into ‘Con Kids’, a dance track with a hard hitting punk style energy, which knocks on the doors of so many genres yet doesn’t quite fit into any – paving the way of an album which really is in a world of it’s own. With the solid instrumental delivery in this album it would have been easy for The Slants to simply throw in a few lyrics offhand and get away with it; but with heartfelt lyrical offerings such as ‘Adopted’ which references Aron Moxley’s own upbringing, it’s clear that this isn’t the case. If you really want a few musical influences, think of ‘The Killers’ to start, mixed with a bit of ‘Depeche Mode’ for dinner and some ‘Talking Heads’ for dessert…But even that doesn’t do this band justice. Describing The Slants is like trying to describe each single candy in a bag of pick ‘n’ mix; it’s pointless because they’re so damn good you know you’ll be eating 10 at a time anyway. You want to get candy now don’t you? Well just don’t forget to pick this album up on the way. www.facebook.com/theslants
The Ill Funk Ensemble The Duality Review by John Kirwan
The Ill Funk Ensemble is a band from Albany, in New York. They are an energetic, soulful hip-hop group that have been leaving live audiences stunned in New York on a weekly basis since 2006. The band have humble enough roots, “walking on sticky floors” and playing on stages “too small for their swagger”, but nevertheless, the Albany based band have real ambition. It seems to me that The Ill Funk Ensemble would keep doing what they’re doing regardless of recognition, fame or money. They are determined to express their feelings in musical terms. There is a sense of determination when they rap, and throughout ‘The Duality’. They have been described as “a kind of 21st century mash up of Kool and the Gang and the Isley brothers”. One way they are similar to both artists is in the energy that they put into their music. They have clearly been influenced by old school hip-hop, but have taken it into the 21st century, and subsequently created their own sound. They start as they mean to go on with ‘She’s Fearless’. The track starts off with heavy base and hip-hop beats, then we are introduced to some smooth vocals, and some synth. The chorus is almost shouted, with a real sense of purpose. It’s catchy and will stick with you all day. Perhaps, the best thing about The Ill Funk
Ensemble is that they are a band. This translates well on to the album, as we get a feel for the band, Jermaine Wells and BJ FitzGerald on the main vocal, Dennie Brooks on drums, Joe Stoner on keyboard and Duane Etienne on Bass and backing vocals. The band effectively uses samples. The theme tune to Sandford and Son heard on ‘Bringin the Heat’ fits in perfectly with the old school hip-hop beats that make up the album. They make use of auto tune in ‘Amazing’. There is a flow in this song that hip-hop fans may find similar to a Tupac flow. There is even reference to a Tupac’s ‘Hail Mary’ in the song, ‘ride or die’. ‘She’s Fearless (Reprise)’ picks up where ‘She’s Fearless’ left off. The subject of the song, who they treated with love and respect, appears to have meant a great deal to the band. ‘she was fearless, rest in peace mama’. These lyrics change the whole complexion of the opening track. It now has real meaning. The title track ‘The Duality’ reinforces the bands determination to express themselves. Its slow heavy bass line and deep lyrics help portray their feelings ‘born alone, die alone, what about the time in between? You gonna be a king, or be suffering, what it take to live out your dream?’ The Ill Funk Ensemble are definitely determined to live out their dreams. www.illfunk.com