DIMESTORE RECORDINGS – THE RUBY SESSIONS – SAUCY SUNDAYS
Crow Black Chicken Fuzzy Vox The Talks China White Greg Oldfield The Manc Tank
THE 12 MANC TANK Crow Black Chicken
Scene & Heard 15-17 Dimestore Recordings 18 The Ruby Sessions 19-21 Saucy Sundays 22 Acre Tarn 23-32 33-48 50-51 53
Irish Album/EP Reviews International Album/EP Reviews Single Reviews July 2014 4x4
EDITORIAL And so the summer is upon us and so too is the July issue of Unsigned & Independent. But this
here at U&I.
was anything to go by it will be another special show.
In the very early days of Unsigned & Independent we caught a band at their very first gig as they played at Saucy Sundays. Unbeknown to us they were also starting out as well and that happened to be their first gig. The band in question happened to be VANN MUSIC and they are one of the most promising acts on the Irish circuit at the moment. We caught up with frontman Aaron Smyth to talk to him about what is happening for them now.
listen more intently to the content over the delivery you can analyse a more progressive side that is worked into the undertone in places. How would you sum up your sound?
Everything seems to be coming up for the band at the moment, and it would be safe to say that you have come off the back of a very good month in June – for a lot of the right reasons. The standout moment would probably be your selection as the UTV select Irish tune for the month. How did that actually come about?
Are those retro attributes intentional or are they something that seems to come around as part of the creative process by way of itself?
It started when Phil answered an ad I put out an ad looking for musicians to play on some songs I’d written….We hung out and bonded over our love for the same bands and artists, LCD, Talking Heads, French House Music and Boxing. We managed to write a song that evening too! Rob our drummer helped us out by filling in on drums for one gig and he ended up staying. I previously knew Ross as I met him at a production class he was giving and again we hit it off as we love old analogue gear, synths……..
I’d say we take a nod in that direction but we mostly use the synths to capture the mood, emotion and melody.
Who were the influences on you musically and do you see any of that rubbing off in your own sound?
They heard the song through our PR Company Mission Pr and really loved it, so things just went from there and it made the Select Irish. It’s a pretty sweet feeling turning on the radio and hearing your songs blaze out at you
Another thing that is noted about your sound is that it lends itself rather well to video. You have actually put the effort into getting a video behind everything as opposed to going the way that a lot of unsigned acts do by putting lyrics to a photo or some clippings of footage and old movie clips. How important do you see video in the modern age – albeit the YouTube era – and do you see getting the video right equally as important as getting the song right?
LCD Soundsystem, Talking Heads, Bowie, Daft Punk. Those guys set the bar and we want to reach it. You can definitely hear bits from all of our musical heroes.
What did it mean to you as a band to first of all be selected, and secondly, in terms of raising your profile as a band in the process? It was an honour to be selected as so many good bands had gone before us. Our profile has grown because of it and getting heavy rotation on FM104, Q102, Cork 96 & Limerick 95 will certainly do it for you. We have gained so many followers because of this. June has also seen you play some festivals. Two in particular stand out for us. They would be Forbidden Fruit and YouBloom. They both seem to have their own subtle differences in terms of the kind of gig and audience you play to. What do you as a band take away from playing at a smaller gig and what do you take away from playing to a bigger crowd? Each show is different for us but at the end of the day you got to get the set list right and give it 110%. Smaller shows can be great fun as you tend to be able to see the whites of people’s eyes and the dirt on their teeth! We had a ball as both crowds were really up of it. Are you the kind of band that can realise the potential of something that you would pick up at a smaller gig and know straight away that it could work on the bigger stage at a festival? We try to take something from every show we do whether it be on a MainStage at a festival or a tiny 30 capacity show. I think you always have to be aware of how your audience is reacting or not as the case may be. Some songs work better than others say at midnight in a tent at a festival than say 8 in the evening if you are opening for another band. Were there any acts that you saw at both festivals that impressed you? And if so why? Flaming Lips at Forbidden Fruit blew our minds with their multi-coloured stage show. Swords stood out for us at YouBloom, they played a stripped back set and it went down a treat. We first saw you play in December 2012, (the 16th to be exact), which seems so long ago. That was at Saucy Sundays and it was also your first ever gig. It was brief set from you but the track that stood out for us on the night was “Tina”, which is now the current single. While it is not necessarily a new song per se, it has been ear marked as a single for a while. Did you immediately sense that when you wrote it that it had the potential to be a single? We always wanted to put Tina out. We didn’t put it on our Debut EP Electro Shock Dreams but we knew that we’d get around to releasing it at some point and this summer seemed like the perfect time to do it. How does the song writing process work for you as a band? Everyone writes in this band, that is the rule! There is a perception about Vann Music that you are a synth based/retro band and your sound does lean towards that in a noted way. But if you
Yeah we’ve heard that but we don’t box ourselves into any genre or style and if you listen closely to our songs you’ll hear real drums/bass/guitar as well as synths all in the mix. When you strip it all back they are pop songs at heart.
We believe videos are the best vehicle to getting your music heard. People are more likely to share a video than a link to a song. Videos also give the song another life too as they tend to tell a different story to maybe what the song is about. Some songs have more than one meaning or message, a lot of ours do. The current video for “Tina” is one with an interesting concept. How did the concept come around? We got Chrome from The Rubberbandits involved with the project and he came up with idea. When we heard the concept we loved it, the twist is the best bit, there’s a twist people… you gotta stay ‘til the end. You have worked with two different directors on both of your videos. There is “Tina” and also for “Into The Night”. But both of them seem to have a female central theme going on in the video. Is that an intentional thing or has it just been a coincidence? Ha, You know what that is something we talked about when the treatment came back for this video. It’s a total coincidence as we were offered a few different treatments some which didn’t involve females. Maybe we will have another female themed video for our next one to complete the accidental trilogy. You launched the single at The Generator Hostel in Smithfield. How did that gig go? Was there any significance for you choosing to play there for the launch? For the “Tina” release we wanted to do something completely different rather than playing in a traditional venue so we looked at a couple of spaces around the city and the generator really stood out so we got our rig and lighting in and transformed it from a hostel to a venue for one night only. It ended up being a super show, what made it was the fact the place was packed considering it was so far off the beating track.
How did the band actually get together?
Have you been working on any new material lately and are there any plans for a future release? We’ve been working hard all year writing our debut album. We decided not to play as many shows as last year in order to get the work done. It’s going really well at the moment so we are planning to write until the end of the year to finish it and with a view to releasing it in 2015. We’ll definitely release another single this year but were keeping our cards close to our chest as to what song it will be.
‘‘We believe videos are the best vehicle to getting your music heard. People are more likely to share a video than a link to a song. Videos also give the song another life too as they tend to tell a different story to maybe what the song is about. Some songs have more than one meaning or message, a lot of ours do’’ A lot has fallen into place for the band in the last two years. How much of that is down to having the right manager behind you? I think it is all down to your work ethic. You have to do so much for yourself before you can even think about getting a manager. Putting the graft in yourself will stand to you when that time does come around. We only recently got our manager and its working out great. One other claim to fame that you have is being on the very last P.H.U.C.K. (Phantom Has You Covered Kids). Did the significance of the gig dawn on you when you played that night?
Support on the night came from MY VIOLET. For any of our readers who are not familiar with them who are they and why did you have them open for you?
Yeah it really hit home for us that night. Phantom played our first two singles to death and we are so thankful of that. When we came on the scene last year they really helped put us on the map.
They are a new indie band from Dublin. Like us at the end of 2012 they were starting out. Now we got a listen to their debut track, loved it and invited them along to play with us.
How much of a loss do you see something like Phantom FM as a resource for emerging acts?
Would there be any other venues in Dublin that you would have a soft spot for playing at? Likewise, the same question for any venues outside Dublin? I think the venue in Dublin that we hold our soft spot for is The Grand Social. It is a pleasure to play and the sound is always so so good onstage. When they built that place they broke the mould. Outside of Dublin we love The Big Top Tent at Independence. We’ll be playing there on Friday 1st of August and if last year
I think losing phantom and the values they had is still being felt around Dublin. They did so much for bands, putting on shows, playing their records etc. I think it will be a while before we see another station like them again. What is up next for the band and where can people see you play over the summer? We are playing Indiependance on Friday 1st of August and Castlepalooza on Saturday 2nd. We’ll also be playing with The Riptide Movement in the INEC in Killarney on Friday 22nd of August.
Interview by Caitríona McKenna
first heard of Cork-based Blues Rock band Crow Black Chicken when I was leaving a gig in Whelan’s one night (hats off to the lovely taxi-man with whom I had lovely music chats who suggested I look them up). Now here I am at the same venue a few months later, sitting with Christy (lead vocals, guitar), Stephen (bass) and Gev (drums, backing vocals) ahead of their biggest Irish gig so far this year - chatting about their new album ‘Rumble Shake’, which they released last month, and their current tour. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the three guys are quite laid back despite their obvious hard work and determination, and as is apparent below, they certainly like to keep things light-hearted and have a laugh while doing what they love... Let’s start by talking about the album. You’re on the heels of its release a few weeks ago and successfully got it into the charts – how delighted were you to see this happen, especially for an independent band? Christy: It was sort of a happy surprise to me to be in the charts to be honest with you. I never thought that I was going to be a ‘pop star’ at 46 years of age (laughs), so from that point of view it’s great. Other than that, it doesn’t matter so much... I think it matters more to other people. Stephen: It matters more to more serious kinda people sloggin’ up and down the country playing in shitty bars and stuff. So what can people expect from Rumble Shake? Gev: They can expect it to both rumble...and shake...at the same time. Stephen: It’s not a massive departure from the first record, it’s just some of the song writing is a bit tighter and there’s more production on it. It would have been easier to just do it live again, but we decided to challenge ourselves. It was very cool and we were delighted with the sound. Christy: It’s another step forward for us. We actually started off doing our first album, ‘Electric Soup’, in a similar vein, but perhaps coming from the perspective of not really having as much experience about what we were doing...so we got some of it done and then when we listened back to it we felt that it was just too far removed from what we actually sounded like to finish it that way. So in the end we met this brilliant fella and he recorded us live down in Nore Valley. That was fabulous, and we had our album. It was great and it was a very unusual way to do a first album, and we were all delighted with it. This time around, we had done a lot more and there was a lot of road under us. The last time you were speaking to U&I was in our ‘Postcards from the Edge’ feature in the October 2013 issue in which you were saying the new album would have kind of a darker feel to Electric Soup – do you think that still stands? Stephen: Yeah, it is kinda darker. It’s kinda gritty I suppose. And the guy we got to mix it, that’s his style of how he mixes music... he makes it kinda dirty and gritty. Christy: I think everything is kinda dark...but style schmyle like, at the end of the day, it’s about the songs isn’t it? Like you can get a pig and dress it up in a suit, but it’d still be a pig in a suit. Gev: We’re actually very miserable people. We just put on a bit of a face you know...Christy writes the lyrics so he’s not going to say this, but if you take the content for example... ‘Sit with Satan’, you have ‘Little Paths’ which is that southern delta bluesy sound... you’ve got ‘Bitter’... you’ve got ‘Hang ‘em High’... It is a darker album than the first one. There’s some nice rocking’ riffs and stuff [in the first album]... but the second one is different... it has a different feel to it, definitely.
Stephen: He was in a very dark place....
Christy: We’re always on the road, there’s no ‘not on the road’ for us.
Christy: I’m always in a dark place... like a mushroom Is that your favourite part of the whole process? You used a ‘Fund It’ campaign to make ‘Rumble Shake’ and reached your goal of €5,000 – how long did it take you to reach this?
Christy: YES! What can people expect from the shows on the tour?
Stephen: We [reached] it about 3 or 4 days before the end of it (beginning of April). We honestly didn’t expect to reach the goal but we were pleasantly surprised when we did. In the last two weeks it kinda shot up and [before that] we were looking at it saying ‘Jesus, we’re never going to get to release this album’, but near the end then people really started getting behind it. But to our friends - for anyone who didn’t fund – fuck you! Talk us a bit through the process of making ‘Rumble Shake’. Stephen: We wrote it more or less the same as the other one – in the practice room – Christy will bring riffs to a song... we’ll beat it out in the practice room and play it live. The recording was completely different for us. We were tracking it and it was very arduous and not very enjoyable, but we got it done and we were delighted with the way it came out. Again, when you were last speaking to U&I you were in Texas working on the album, and it was produced and mixed there too. Tell us about that. Stephen: We had nearly all of [the album] written by then...we got the first song recorded there with Ray Wylie Hubbard, so that was the start of it really and then I suppose from there we thought we could get George Reiff to mix it. We did loads of pre-production while we were there actually, that was different for this one ‘because we never did any demos or anything before. It was all new. Before, we just recorded songs and that was it. That was our first time hearing them recorded and that was the final version. This time we were doing demos and all that kinda stuff. What was the inspiration behind ‘Rumble Shake’? Stephen: Like the last record, it was just inspired by who we meet when we’re travelling around. When we meet other musicians we get influenced by them and whatever we’re listening to, and just all the gigs we do – we become better players. Christy: Yeah, I guess for you. For me, no, it’s completely different. For me, each song is a different thing, you know. And they all kind of seem to fit in together – I suppose because some of the songs I would write on my own and then the boys would come and change some things around. Other songs then would come together from different ideas coming together. But because they were all written within a certain space of time and written by us, and we’re all kind of experiencing the same things and all that...we’re very much on the same page. So I suppose they flow very well as a record... but at the same time, each song is like watching a film in the same genre. We can’t say we sat down and said ‘Right this time, it’s going to be a song like…whatever’. Gev: We approach every single track differently. If you listen to it, there’s a big variance across the CD. We never approached the entire CD like ‘we’re going to do it this way’, it just happens. Christy: Which I think is great, because I’d hate to be in a situation where we say ‘Jeepers, we have to have all the drums sounding a certain way for this record, and we’re going to do this now in this style. I’m sure people do that, don’t they? But I don’t think that’s really for us. Let’s move onto the tour. What’s it been like so far being back on the road?
Stephen: The usual Blues Rock Show that we always do. We don’t really do any of the slow songs live... Christy: We may eventually do them because it might be nice for an aul rest…‘cause I’m very old. Also, people can expect to be entertained. We know that people go out and they want to have kind of a diversion for a couple hours. They can enjoy themselves, and we do too, you know, that’s why we do it. We love doing it. You’re going to a lot of different places on the tour (such as Austria, Germany, Electric Picnic) – is there anywhere in particular that you’re really looking forward to playing? Stephen: I’m looking forward to going back to Cassino in Italy. We went there two years ago and it was savage craic. We’re looking forward to seeing all our friends who can’t speak English and have great craic with them. What about in the past – what’s the best place you’ve ever played? Christy, Stephen and Gev: Texas! Without a doubt. Any particular reason? Christy: It was just brilliant. They really love musicians! What’s different with Americans is that when you tell them you’re a musician they get really excited like ‘Wow! A musician?!’ Whereas in Ireland if someone says ‘What do you do?’ and you say ‘I’m a musician’, they say ‘Oh so you don’t have a job then.’ They kinda treat you like shit a bit here, so I think [Texas] was really nice and a bit unexpected. And also, another really nice thing about America was that they buy shit off you...CDs, T-shirts...they all feel obliged to buy one, whereas here they feel very...not obliged to buy one. They usually try and get them off you for nothing. Stephen: [People in America] kind of understand that we can’t make the tour viable unless people buy merch ‘cause that makes up your pay like. What about in the future – is there anywhere that you’d love to play some day? Christy: I’d love to play on the Jools Holland Show... so Jools if you’re reading this now...contact us. I wanna play on it because I know that there’s somebody out there that it would make very upset. There’d be somebody very envious, and that’d do me, like a revenge kinda thing. That’d be it for me, I could die happy then. Gev: That’s all we’re driven by really...revenge and spite...it’s our main motivation really. To back-track a bit – you played the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury in 2011 – what was that like? Stephen: It was mad, because we were a pub band at the time and we’d never really done any big gigs. The only gigs we’d actually done with a big PA system were during the competition. We got rejected for every festival in Ireland and then we were heading off to Glastonbury...it was a completely ‘fish out of water’ kinda thing for us, but it was brilliant. It was exciting because it was the first big stage we played on. We only had an EP out and we had played a handful of gigs.
Christy: It was kind of easy for us, wasn’t it? It was a lot easier than playing some noisy pub with a PA that’s not very good or gear that wasn’t very good, so from that point of view it made everything easier, though it was fairly exciting. Stephen: We were told that people don’t normally turn up that early for gigs. We were at the festival all weekend meeting people and firing it up and it was packed at 12 O’clock in the morning and everything. Would you say that whet your appetite to tour more? Stephen: Yeah, it did everything. It pushed us on and it made us realise that we’re not the only ones that think what we’re doing is good. There was news a few weeks ago that BBC Introducing is going to be dropped come September and is instead getting a smaller slot on another BBC Radio 1 show – do you think this is bad news for independent, up and coming musicians?
Stephen: We got a review before and the reviewer said ‘this album is crap, it looks like this band just ravaged their father’s record collection and made their music,’ but it’s not really like that. It turned out the reviewer thought that we were all in our 20s. He didn’t know that Christy had those records when they came out. But it’s not like that, we just do what we do...we listen to everything. We’re not trying to be retro; our music is whatever comes out.
on there than just ‘retro’. I think all the gigs help you develop your own voice and your instrument...we just play loads and loads of gigs, and that just develops our sound.
Christy: It is, and I think that’s a really good way to approach music as well. Like we have some stuff written that I don’t know if we’ll ever actually record it properly, like when me and Stephen were up at 4 o’clock in the morning and I was just banging on the end of a box, a butter box, it was really good!
And finally, what’s next for you after this tour, or have you even had the time to think that far ahead?
Stephen: We were interviewed last week by a guy who writes metal biographies, and I was reading what he’d been writing [about us] and he was like ‘I could hear some Black Sabbath and Motorhead-y riffs’, so obviously there is a lot of other stuff going
Christy: It won’t make any difference; people will always find a way. Stephen: [BBC Introducing] kind of forgot about us after [we played Glastonbury]...but we like doing it our own way, booking our own gigs and doing everything ourselves. People understand then that what we’re doing is real and that’s how we’re paying the bills, not just by fan base. It was great for us at the time, but we don’t really care about that anymore. To back-track even more to the very beginning – how did Crow Black Chicken come to be? Christy: Ah it’s a sad story. We met because Stephen was doing a course in Cork on building guitars. He was able to make guitars and everything, it was fabulous. The guy that was teaching him was my friend, and Gev was in college doing computers in Cork, so the two of them knew each other, they were childhood friends, they went to school together. So then we started up this kind of a blues band...well, blues and a kinda jazzy cover band... Neville Brothers and all that kind of thing. And my friend (Stephen’s teacher) was playing the guitar in the band, so it was a four piece blues band. Then around Christmas he fell out with us and left. So then we decided we would carry on without him, and we started up as Crow Black Chicken. Stephen: We actually did like a live EP the first month...two of the tracks that made it onto the first album were on that EP. That was just to get gigs so straight away we were writing stuff. Even when we listen back now, it still sounds the same as what we sound like now, more or less. We gelled straight away, like it wasn’t that much effort to start writing songs. Where did the name ‘Crow Black Chicken’ come from? Christy: It’s an old, traditional American folk song I think. Ry Cooder covered it, and I really like that version of it, that’s where I heard it. We were trying to come up with a name...that was one of them and we all decided that was a good one so we kept it. Gev: When we went to Glastonbury, you get this big book when you’re going in of all the punters, and our name was in like an article of worst names at Glastonbury, and we were like the top name. Like imagine how many thousands of bands are at Glastonbury! But at least we got mentioned in the book. It’s unique, makes you stand out. What has been your most memorable experience as a band since you formed in 2009? Stephen: Well for me, it was the Texas trip, definitely. Gev: Yeah that was the best, definitely Texas. America is just amazing. You’d think that it’s not like it is on the TV, but it actually is exactly like you’d think it is. The respect they have for musicians; that kind of blew us away. Stephen: It’s great when you’re a musician ‘cause you can get a breakfast for $5 24 hours a day. Like we were just driving along and we’d go in and get breakfast in a waffle house all the time, it was brilliant! And the gigantic filling stations, it’s just like an adventure going in and you’re running around eating every kind of shit inside there! Christy: Yeah I’d say America as well. It was brilliant. There’s an awful lot of kind of negative things about the States, they’re always talking about how awful it is, and certainly there is, certain things like civil rights and all that are still very bad...but in saying that, they don’t really stress the positive nature of it, and the freedom you have over there as opposed to say, here, is just really, really good. You can kind of do whatever you like, within reason, as long as you don’t bother people.And I also kind of liked the rambunctiousness of it, and the way everything is kinda in your face. You’re driving along the freeway or motorway and there’s all this kind of really gaudy shit everywhere, like huge, giant Texas flags and huge big neon signs for this place and that place, it wouldn’t be allowed here at all, you know?I think it has its dark side or its bad side, but they don’t go on about the good side of it enough, and it is such a laugh. America was just the biggest laugh ever. You’ve described yourselves before as a ‘Blues Rock band from Ireland - we’re not a retro revival or the next musical movement, just Crow Black Chicken’ – does this mean you don’t like being compared to other artists? Christy: We don’t... there are some people out there that dress up like their heroes from the 1970s and they try and play like [them] and stuff like that...
Gev: None of us make a conscious decision to sound like something. We sound like we all have a style and that’s what’s on the record. I don’t decide that I’m going to try and sound retro.
Stephen: We’re hoping to do pre-production on the next album in October, and we’ll see how the finances are. We’d love to get another one out next year. That’s what we’ll be aiming for, but we’ll have to wait and see if we’ll be able to do it. That’s the plan anyway, and to just keep touring. We’re going to Europe next week so we’ll see what happens.
Joinville le Point is home to FUZZY VOX, who are the next inclusion in our French Connection series. Having released their album “She’s On Heat” back in February, everything has been moving in a forward direction for the band with a series of very shrewd moves seeing their star rise steadily. We caught up with HUGO FABBRI from the band to talk about it all and here is what he had to say:
process so when we finally had to decide whether it should be a LP or an EP, we said something like "Oh shit, this all sounds cool. We didn't want to take out any of these songs... and then we just went OK guys, let's make an album". How does the writing process come together and work for you all as a band and how do all the dynamics begin to come together when you get into a studio to record after that?
You closed out 2013 with a busy bout of touring. That saw you play 15 cities in 7 countries in November – France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Holland and Belgium – with a final gig in Lyon in December. Are you the type of band who thrives from being on the road and playing live gigs? Yes, actually we could totally say that we get our kicks from being on the road. This is more or less the main purpose of the whole Fuzzy Vox project. The more we play at festivals or gigs in different countries, the more we're satisfied. We spend months bored in our everyday jobs to wait for only one thing: have a break and hit the road for 2 or 3 weeks with our van. Does the creative side of things for the band come from being in that kind of environment before it gets brought to the studio by the band? Or is the creative side of the band a happy medium that rests between the two sides of the argument? Yes, being on tour plays an important role in our creative process as we meet a lot of bands on the road, and we can't help being a little bit inspired by all of them. What a knock down when we play with the amazing Birth Of Joy in concert in Cognac for example.
Regarding the writing process I put on the table what I'd call the "backbone" of the song, generally an acoustic version with simple chords and lyrics, then Nico and Greg tell me if they like it and if they do we start to work on the song and on the arrangement. When you were recording the album were there any songs that you immediately knew or felt were going to make the final cut when you put the album out? Were there any songs that didn’t make the final cut and, if so, do you have any plans to include them as future releases at some point? Actually we had never played before at the Molotow but we had of course heard of this legendary venue, where bands such as the White Stripes or the Black Keys have played. We can't tell you how honoured and proud we were to play in this fantastic place, plus the crew was really attentive and adorable towards us. You played at Panic Room and it would appear to have been one of those gigs that you enjoyed as a band. That was another German gig but it was one that you also got a kick out of playing. Tell us about that one.
The interesting thing about the “On Heat” tour was that it was something you went out on before the album was released. That is something that would appear to go against convention somewhat. Why bring the tour about before having the actual album to promote?
Of course the show at the Panic Room in Essen was a lot of fun, but I'd actually say that I wasn't really surprised as I know that audiences in Germany are usually fantastic listeners. As of now we've also played in Chemnitz, Hamburg & Essen and every time it was awesome. We can't wait to have the time to go there to do a real long German tour!
Actually this was a way to create a kind of a tease about the new album, and to try to have people that we meet at our gigs talking about it. This also helped us test our new songs live and make sure that the new set-list worked fine and was coherent when we came back to Paris after we've played in different cities before an audience that didn't know us. Our manager tells us that many bands actually do this.
You released the album “On Heat” at the end of February and we gave it a 10/10 review. It is an outstanding album and it is still an office favourite for us here. In comparison to when you recorded “Technicolor” how different did you find the recording process when it came to the album?
Another place that you played was Hamburg, which is a city that seems to have a special hold for the band. Molotow re-opening as a venue was something that was a bit of a big deal for you all as a band. Why was that? Was it a venue that you have played before or was it always on the wish list?
Glad you enjoyed the album! We're very appreciative that it got a 10/10 on Unsigned & Independent. The fun fact with "On Heat" is that it was supposed to be a simple 5-song EP like "Technicolor". Still, we had spent lot of time on the songs and on the recording
The thing is that we were really satisfied with these 8 songs and although the songs were different (there is a world between "She's On Her Period" and "1789" for example), we felt like the entity was coherent, especially thanks to the magical hand of producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt, that worked with us throughout "On Heat" and managed brilliantly to make it sound as BIG as we wanted it to. Two other songs were recorded but didn’t end up on the album. We chose to make a kind of “in your face” 25 minutes album and so it meant removing those two songs, but we're hitting things when go back the studio in the next month anyway, so stay tuned! How did the gig for the album launch go? Who played support for you on the night? We made the release party in La Boule Noire, a very famous Parisian venue, and around 400 people did attend the show. So at our level we would say that this was a global success! Our rockabilly friends THE HOWLIN' JAWS supported us on the night and we shared the stage for a final cover of pub-rock standard "You Can't Judge A Book By Looking At Its Cover". How healthy is the current unsigned French music scene? The independent scene in France is huge. There are loads of bands in all kinds of alternatives. There is an extreme that goes from rock metal to folk. Just like everywhere I guess, the big structures are dying and small labels are getting bigger and bigger (Born Bad records is the best example). Thanks to the internet, small indie bands can get in touch
with each other and tour/record/hang out together. That’s what we do. Are there any acts currently on the circuit that you would be impressed with and would urge others to check out if they get the chance? Our friends are awesome bands such as CRUSADERS OF LOVE (a 4 pieces power pop band from Lille) who are probably the best in France. We toured with them this summer. LES GRIGRIS (from Montpellier, typical 60’s rock band, but a must-see live band) and Burnin Jacks - our brothers from Paris because we started together 2/3 years ago. April was another month that kept you on your toes so to speak. You played seven gigs in a four day period. It obviously carries a certain level of pressure to perform, but would it be the kind of pressure that you react to in the right way as a band? We consider this kind of pressure as really beneficial for the band as it really motivates us. We played at the French festival Printemps de Bourges (the French south by southwest) and we indeed had to perform 7 shows in 4 days…we even had to play 3 gigs in one single day. In our opinion, playing many shows in a row is the best way to acquire experience and to improve the relation with the audience. What did you take away from that? Most of these shows were in very small stages in the street (we played the festival in OFF) so people don't pay anything to see you. They don't have any obligation. Sometimes they don't listen to rock'n’roll at all. But what does it matter? Your role is to trick them and to harpoon them in order to make sure that they stay and clap their hands. And doing this is in our opinion is the best way to collect experience for future musical gigs. And later, once you realize that, when you get to play in front of people that did pay to see you the excitement is twice as much. You also played a gig for International Record Store Day. How different was that gig to the others? We’ve made a vinyl out of our last two releases. So when Record Store day asked us to play, we immediately said yes. We had the chance to play with awesome bands on the same stage: SUGAR AND TIGER (new band of punk rock legend Didier Wampas), SANSEVERINO and our bros THE BURNIN JACKS. It was the opportunity to support once again the alternative scene through the independent record stores. We believe that they and us have to work hand in hand as vinyl is sold as much as CD in our scene (at least at our shows).
But we’re doing fine on our own and our only goal is to make people happy, we don’t really care about money. We don’t expect to be able to live from it now anyway so. You announced the plans for your summer tour back in May. How important is it for you as a band to be on the road gigging and how many gigs in total are planned for this tour? We made thirteen shows in June and we’re doing a few festivals in July/August with great bands we love such as BIRTH OF JOY, THE BELLRAYS, LISA&LIPS to name but a few. You also played a gig in a BMX park in Bordeaux. As venues go that one has to stand out for you. How did that gig go and has it been the standout one on the tour so far? Where will the tour close? The gig at the BMX park in Bordeaux was a kind of once-in-a-life experience. It was really something to see people riding while you're playing your rock'n’roll tunes. I couldn't tell how I felt but I had never experienced such a feeling. Plus people there were really kind and the association Vive La Piraterie did a very good job. A lot of people were there for the show, especially fans of Italian band GIUDA that we totally admire. You released two videos to coincide with the album. The first was “1789” and the second was “Man Of Solution”. In the age of smart phones and YouTube how important has the concept of video come to be for an artist today? It’s as important as the music for us. The “young part” of our audience listens to music on YouTube and shares music via videos and digital support (Soundcloud etc.).If we could do one video for each song of the album, we would. If that’s the way our fans share our music then let’s do it. Do you think that maybe there is no longer the magic attached to video on account of how accessible it can be for artists, coupled with the large number of low quality live footage that are passed off as “videos” by bands? I don’t know if there is less magic in videos now. Maybe you’re right. But I think that if you take time/energy/money to do things right, people will enjoy
it more and that’s the key to a good video clip. The concept for “Man Of Solution” has a large amount of fan participation involved in the concept. Tell us all about that. To be honest we were seeking ideas for our second single “Man Of Solution” but we couldn't find one. We wanted to shoot it on a white ground but we were struggling with finding nice and original ideas. Suddenly we thought "Why not ask our fan base to give us ideas for the video?" We thought it would be fun to do something interactive. Then a brilliant idea actually came to mind: we would not put in the video one or two ideas given by our fans, instead we would tell them on our Facebook account "Dear fans, you have 24 hours to write all of your craziest and most original ideas in the comments of this post, and we swear that we will put them ALL in our video". So this became something like a challenge, because the video had to be rolled four days later. We had four days to prepare all the crazy stuff that our fans suggested. Here's a little overview of what they asked: an octopus fight, the band dressed in YMCA, Batman punching the bass player, us naked clinking glasses to one of our fans, the drummer being shaved... and we managed to do almost all of the 180 ideas that the fans proposed! And the crazy result lies in the video which you can check out on YouTube. What lies in store for the band for the rest of the summer in terms of festivals and gigs? We just signed for booking with Jostone Traffic (Jim Jones Revue, Bellrays, Flamin Groovies, Fleshtones) which means loads of opportunities to play coming up. We’re stoked to play Relache Festival in Bordeaux (France) with The Bellrays and The Struts on August 20th.Also we’re stoked to play our first Sold Out (3 months before) festival in Danemark: Gutter Island garage rock festival on August 23rd. We’re going to be recording a cover “single collection” in July (we don’t want to call it an album as it won’t be released in one piece). Covers of bands we like - recent/unknown bands and a few classic tracks. We’ll celebrate this new release in Paris on September 26th during a huge party in Divan Du Monde (capacity 550+). 40 seconds longer then the recorded version on the album. Finn sorted all the locations for the video; they’re all places in his home town of Cavan. We wouldn’t have been able to get such great results if it wasn’t for the kindness of everyone involved. All the costumes were our own clothes,
‘‘The independent scene in France is huge. There are loads of bands in all kinds of alternatives. There is an extreme that goes from rock metal to folk. Just like everywhere I guess, the big structures are dying and small labels are getting bigger and bigger...’’
In terms of how the industry works these days for artists in relation to current revenue streams and online sales, why do you think that vinyl has managed to retain the appeal for so many music lovers? To give you an idea, since Fuzzy Vox started 2/3 years ago, we earned out of streaming/digital sales less than what we get paid for one single gig now. We think it’s normal as our music is more “old school” and a major part of our audience is more than 30. They didn’t grow up with iTunes and Deezer; they grew up with vinyl and CDs. So did their children (who also listen to our music) as a result. Music is free nowadays so I guess real music lovers are back to what once made them love music: records. We attended a seminar in Dublin that had ALAN MCGEE as a guest speaker. He said that there is a big future for artists to earn an income from streaming royalties via sites such as Spotify etc. Would you agree with that point or do you see artists being more and more in control of their own destiny as the internet breaks down barriers that were closed off to emerging artists in the past? Streaming royalties is interesting when you’re big. Not when you’re a young band like Fuzzy Vox. People used to buy CDs/records and then go to see the band live. Now people come to your show and if they enjoyed, they’ll buy you a CD/T-shirt at the merch table. I think that’s how it works for being an indie band. We do have more control but there is less money to promote yourself as an emerging band so we’re in a cul-de-sac.
The last six months have seen things move in the right direction for the band on a musical level. Be that touring, releasing singles and making videos or the recording of the new album. All in all it would be safe to say that they are very much a band that have their heads down and are working the proverbial millstone at the moment. We caught up with lead singer Patrick Pretorious to find out what is happening with the band.
You started working on the album in January, so almost a half year on how is it progressing? Well we actually started working on the album at the tale end of last year and we are pleased to say that we have now finished it after many months of late nights and expunged ears. We're very pleased with the final product. It really does feel like it's the first contextual, directly themed piece of work we've done. Who is producing the album and where have you been recording? As with the majority of our releases, we record and mix in our own studio, AOO Studios. Over the years we've been lucky to make some great friends in the music tech world. Will there be any other musicians guesting on the album or is strictly going to be a band only affair?
The vast majority of the album came from developing brand new ideas in the studio. The way this worked was that the writers in the band individually had a bunch of ideas geared up and loosely intended conceptually for the album - being either a bass line, guitar part or the roots of a song melodically - and when brought in to the fold, these ideas were pulled and shaped and thrashed out to see what worked, losing a lot and trimming off the fat along the way. We're very much a 'throw a million ideas into pot and if a dozen finished articles come out then great - job done' kind of band. In terms of the highs and lows, how are you finding the recording of the album overall? We work ourselves pretty hard in the studio, and as with anything there's little pleasure without pain. It can get pretty tense and heated at times, but the highs easily outweigh the lows; there have been some great musical moments in that studio.
Let's just say we've got a surprise or two in store - maybe something about guest instrumentalists and vocalists.
When will it be released?
Of the tracks that are finished and on the album, how many of those were predetermined before you went into the studio?
The album is due for release in September, probably round the end. Just waiting to confirm final bits and then we're on it.
Maybe one or two at most, but the vast majority of the album came from fresh ideas in the studio. There were a couple of tracks we'd had in the song bank for a while that finally found their place nicely on the album, but we had a good idea between ourselves, of the sound we wanted to come out of the studio with.
You have also been busy touring this year and played a lot of gigs. In February you toured France for the first time and then again last month. How did you find playing there the first time?
So there's a fair few fresh new tunes on there. There's also a few tracks that we'd had floating around for a year or two and we'd always struggled to work out the right groove/feel for it, but having less time restraints in the studio really helped this one flourish into a few memberâ€™s 'favourite tunes'.
The French audiences were really receptive. It's always a lift when you see that they 'get it' in other countries. When you went back were there any aspects of it you noticed that you maybe didn't the first time around? How did it feel to be going back over so soon after the last tour?
bands joining us on festival stages, to after parties and tales of debauchery. Was that an intention to capitalise on the momentum that you had built up the first time around or was it always the plan? We're getting increasing attention from mainland Europe, and are reacting duly! There are plenty of awesome shows and audiences waiting just over that bit of water! You also played Brussels in March and Glasgow in April. So it has been a busy three month period for you in terms of being on the road. Are you the kind of band who benefit from being on the road as much as you would from playing local gigs? In my opinion, for any band, getting on the road and physically getting the music out there is a must. Even in this strange internet age, there is little to rival the feel of a live band playing in front of you. On reflection, has it stood you in good stead as a band to have toured like you did and what have you taken away from it that has been the most important aspect? Experience on the road has proved worth its weight in gold. From getting good at super quick festival changeovers, to lots of practice playing with sleep deprivation and everything in-between. lessons learned; Be nice to the sound-man, drink lots of water (well try) and don't forget your passport. What is the appeal of ska to you all as a band and how did The Talks come together? It's all about the feel good, bass heavy, bouncing sunshine vibes while being able to deliver a message. What will be in store for you over the summer?
Have there been any brand new songs that have come about from being locked away in the studio?
We came to see how easy going and friendly the French musicians were. English speaking or not, music and party tend to be international phrases! From French local brass
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Van, gig, internet, van, gig, internet. Repeat ad nauseam.
For me the interview is the easy part. Just asking a few thought provoking questions and then writing up a couple of answers. That doesn't exactly make me a journalist or a correspondent - just a man with a few spare hours and plenty of pencils and sharpeners. But what isn't so easy is the introduction- the beginning. Trying to write some opening lines that depict and portray and represent the entirety of an artist’s being to readers who have no idea my chosen subject was even born. The time is now 1:20 am and I'm sat in my underwear with a cold beer beside me; I'm tired but I've got to wait up for my brother to come home from prom. And now it is 1:21. Minute after minute passes by as I try and think of words. Greg Oldfield. A singer songwriter. A creator of industrial folk. The father of industrial folk. A local legend. A ventriloquist crafting his art day in day out day in day out for life. And still I struggle to form sentences to explain to you the brilliance that is Greg Oldfield. Right first off Greg I'd like you to summarise your life as an artist. Just a paragraph or so about what your life in music has been like from beginning to end but just briefly... I started out making sounds out of anything. My dad had an old banjo that I would bang and scratch the strings. My Nan had a piano in her parlour that I would spend hours at hitting a couple of keys and listening, in wonderment, to the reverb from the creaky sustain pedal. I had a game called Cascade, the object was to bounce ball bearings on rubber drums, I would use pencils and bang out a beat. I would spend hours at night taping long wave and short wave radio noise. The sweet spot was just before gaining full reception of some Russian radio station. You’d get static, foreign exotic language and music from another planet. It was magic. From then till now I still carry that sense of wonderment. Sound and vibration are very important aspects of my life.
GREG OLDFIELD INTERVIEW BY JOE LOFTUS
Then came the Bass guitar. Playing in Punk inspired collections of noise. Then I got a Synth, Drum Machine and Reel to Reel. I was in an electro band for a bit… Good days… Then I ventured out on my own doing support slots with songs I’d written and recorded on my Reel to Reel and people liked it.
‘‘I think the point when you hear something being built and brought to life from bits of metal and wood is when you get the bug....’’
I then met a bloke at college, Tony Dagnall, and we started putting some music together. That evolved into a band called Great & Lady Soul. You've been playing music for a long time now, how many years has it been? What inspired you originally to make and play music? Thirty Five years! I was 14 when my dad, Maurice, bought me a Kay bass guitar and Linear Amp from the catalogue. It started then. Bands and songs and rehearsing and gigs ever since then. I think the point when you hear something being built and brought to life from bits of metal and wood is when you get the bug or when I did.
Has your music changed, and if so how has it? Well these days I’m a little more structured, Lyrics mean a lot. Some say I’m folk. I call it Industrial Folk. A bit rough around the edges. You can smell the grease and the iron filings or hear the bees and taste the pollen. I don’t think it’s as abstract as it used to be. I write about people more than I used to.
Who were your biggest influences starting off?
What is happening in the future?
Cabaret Voltaire - A Certain Ratio – Tubeway Army/ Gary Numan – Modern English – Killing Joke – Echo and The Bunnymen – Teardrop Explodes – XTC – Gang Of Four – Young Marble Giants – Talking Heads - Kate Bush
I’m in the process of recording. I would like to get everything I’ve written down ‘on tape’. I’m playing all the instruments and pressing all the buttons but hopefully soon will be able to work with others on it. I intended to just keep throwing out four track EPs. A homespun kind of thing.
Have these influences changed throughout the years? They are still part of the core. Some I don’t listen to that much. At college I discovered Nick Drake, Van Morrison, Prefab Sprout, Joni Mitchell, Japan, Crowded House, Billy Bragg, The Pale Fountains, Lloyd Cole and Tom Waits. I’ve been a big fan of Beck since the 90’s. I found Neil Young and Bob Dylan late in life. That’s the great thing about music. I listen to Laura Marling, Goldfrapp, David Byrne, Glen Hansard T Rex… Withered Hand – New Gods is the sound of summer at the moment. Loads of stuff.
What are your aims? Just to play and record. Improve and learn. Hopefully some more collaborations. Tony who I mentioned earlier sent over some lyrics that I put to music. I enjoyed that. Not done it for years.
Playing for this long must get tiring do you ever have any doubts about playing? Yes. Sometimes just before going on stage I’m full of doubts. I’m currently trying to make my doubts my friends. Welcome them in... Oh hello it’s you again... I’ve a new song about you… What is the hardest thing you've had to come through as a songwriter? Not writing is hard… Drying up…Writers block. But now I think I understand that that is just part of life and the creative process so it doesn’t bother me as much. I don’t know where the songs come from anyway they kind of show up unannounced. What is the best thing you've came through as a songwriter? One of the highlights for me was working on an album with The Fetch called ‘Smoking Dragons’. The people of the town really took to it and the songs it contained. It felt really special and a privilege to be involved. Have you ever considered just leaving it all? If so, what is it that has kept you going?
Any upcoming gigs? A couple at The Studio Widnes 12th July Rec’d Allday and 26th July Simmfest 14. Planning on getting some more when I have stuff recorded. I am looking as well at Manchester in September.
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Yes. But it has been Family, friends that have kept me going. I guess it is something I can’t put into words. Photo by Warren Miller
THE MANC TANK Column by David Beech
NO HOT ASHES Back in February, when Mr Rock 'n' Roll himself, Alex Turner, talked about smashing â€œthrough the glass ceilingâ€? at the Brit Awards, the chances are he probably wasn't thinking about four lads in a funk band from Stockport. Many suggested he probably wasn't thinking much at all, whilst others suggested he was probably thinking about the rolled up 20 in his jacket pocket and his favourite mirror backstage. The fact of the matter is however, that No Hot Ashes are closer to the embodiment of traditional rock 'n' roll (as an idea, rather than genre) than the Monkeys have been since their debut. And whilst they might not yet have shattered that ceiling, with the way they've progressed recently it's hard not to imagine the first cracks appearing before long. Indeed, the band isnâ€™t even your traditional rock band, fusing together a host of styles in to a cohesive hybrid that drips with the best aspects of funk, ska and rock; never feeling convoluted, never feeling self-indulgent. Tracks like their single, 'Cigs and PG Tips', seem loose enough to adhere to the band's funk aesthetic, whilst in actual fact, are tight jams in which the spaces between notes are just as important as the notes themselves. Despite only having a small of arsenal of songs at their disposal, the tracks they do have make for both a solid debut EP in the form of last year's 'Wob', and a solid live experience that oozes swagger, without any of the arrogance; singer Isaac careers across even the smallest of stages, feeding off his band mates, and just looking like he's having the time of his life. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the band, is the potential shown in the newer tracks they debut live, 'Goose' and 'Skank' for instance both suggest the band have matured since their EP, and serve to heighten any sense of expectation behind their inevitable second release. It's the potential exhibited by the newer material, especially in a live environment that makes it easy to see why people are getting excited by No Hot Ashes, a relatively young band whose ideas and influences, not to mention musicianship and chemistry, reaches out far beyond their actual ages. They might not be anywhere near the dizzying heights of stardom that will win them a Brit Award just yet, but there's more rock 'n' roll in fags and teabags than there is in corporate award ceremonies anyway, no matter how shiny your leather jacket is.
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Cheers for taking the time out to have a chat with us guys. First of all, you've been a band for a couple of years now, and have started to make a name for yourself over the last few months or so. What do you think it is about yourselves that has allowed your reputation to gain momentum?
photos by fiona harold
Lui- Yeah, we’ve been at it for 2 years now but it really doesn’t feel that long. The past 6 months have been ace, been nice to receive so much attention, we want as many people to hear our tunes as possible and it’s exciting to see it happening. Jack- I know it’s pretty cliché of a band to say it but we really think our sound is unique, and we like to cover a wide spectrum of genres when planning our set so I think that’s what has grabbed people’s attention. Your sound isn't your straight forward indie, more a fusion of influences and styles that manifests itself as a punk/funk hybrid. How have you found supporting more traditional indie sounding bands? Has your sound gone down well? Matt- Yeah, we like to keep things fresh and we think it shows in our mixed genre sounds. To be honest we have supported a lot good bands in the past two years but then we’ve also supported a lot of shitty sounding bands. I think we shock people once we hit into our set, they’re always expecting your generic group of four young Manc lads to start belting out a few Oasis influenced, Arctic Monkeys rip off tunes but that’s not what we’re about. Lui- I think overall our sound goes down well at gigs. It’s always going to be hard for any band to find entirely compatible support acts, but if the audience is up for going out to see unsigned talent, then they’re up for seeing something a bit diverse. Your growing reputation has obviously allowed you to start playing some bigger gigs and festivals of late, most recently the Deaf Institute and Headlander Festival, but how do those kind of gigs compare to each other, is it a different kind of buzz? Isaac- Definitely, we’ve really enjoyed playing at a couple of well-established venues, I think we all agreed after the Deaf Institute gig that it’s now our favourite venue, such a cool fucking place. Lui- The Deaf Institute gig put on by our good mates Puppet Rebellion and the man himself Mr Peeps was up there as one of our biggest gigs, a top night and we smashed our set. Headlander Festival was a different buzz, not the best crowd we’ve played to but again, stuff like that doesn’t bother us and we still just go ahead and smash our set regardless. I think it’s important that bands give their all when playing live, regardless of who you’re playing to. We always want to give it our all, not look like a bunch of moody pricks. You recently released your debut EP, the fairly self-descriptive 'WOB', how has that been received? Jack- “WOB” went down really well, it’s picked up loads of attention in the past few months and people seem to find the tunes catchy, which is good to hear. Both tunes are pretty long and kind of tell a story really. We went through a stage of writing really long 6/7 minute songs with complex structures and lots of twists so there’s only two tunes on the EP which we recently found out doesn’t count as an EP but we stuck with it anyway. Isaac- We got a lot of radio airtime from this EP, it got played on the likes of “ALL FM 96.9” “Fab Radio” “Terry Christians Show” “Salford City Radio” and a few others. It’s always a nice feeling when people are asking to play a song you’ve written on the radio. Similarly, any plans for another EP, or even a full-length before the end of the year? Lui- Well we’ve just recently been successfully funded on our Kickstarter Fund which was amazing, we got well over what we asked for and that has been a massive help in funding our studio sessions. Keeping on the topic of studios, we have something pretty exciting in the pipelines for that so keep your eye out. Our next project will be a “proper” EP. We’re looking at something around 5/6 tracks to put on there so if all goes to plan that should be ready for release in September of this year.
Being from Manchester, you're obviously involved with a large amount of other local bands, who are some of your favourites. Anyone you'd really like to gig with but haven't yet had the chance? Lui- A band that stood out for me after catching their set at Headlander Festival last weekend, are called PURGE. These guys are something pretty special and unique. They reminded me of a kind of RHCP/RATM fusion and throwback, very funky with loads of metal riffs. The lead singer’s pretty mental, he’s got a mad style of singing, and you can’t knock that Indian headdress. All I would say is check them out. Isaac- We like to think we support other bands from Manchester a lot, we’re involved on social media sites and interacting with other local bands, getting down to their gigs and gigging with them. One of my favourites would have to be PURGE too. They’re something else. Puppet Rebellion have been a favourite of mine for the past year, their riffs and lyrics are maybe the best I’ve heard from any of the bands we’ve played with. Watching them at Deaf Institute after we’d supported them was a treat, as was watching The Backhanders. Another band who we’d love to give a big shout out to is Jipsy Magic, a Brighton band who supported us a while back, they’re funky as anything. Jack- The Backhanders are definitely one of the best bands we’ve seen and played with. They’re a real throwback to the classic Manchester sound. Witty lyrics and anthem worthy song structures. Andrew: I only have eyes for Captain Dangerous, Hot Vestry and Ice Pops for Breakfast; they’re a bit lovely. On a similar note, what do you think it is about Manchester that makes its music scene as vibrant and as eclectic as it is? Matt- Manchester is the place for indie music to blossom. People are still massively influenced by bands that emerged from eras like Madchester and Britpop, I know that we all are. There’s so many cool venues to play and happy people to meet, it’s a unique place and has such a rich musical history. Even the Bee Gees grew up in Chorlton.
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Jack- Manchester is full of culture too, and I think a lot of people will agree that music is a big contributor to this. As the city seems to be moving away from the traditional indie band format, and more and more acts are diversifying, have you got any ideas of which direction we could be heading in now? Isaac- We’ve always been lovers of funk music and I think we’ll always keep that element in our music. People like new wave funk without even realising I think, with Nile Rodgers and Daft Punk making a name for themselves in today’s charts, it goes to show that there’s room for funk in modern music. I think we try to be kind of punky in the way we convey our music too. I think we’ll always be heading in the direction of indie funk with a bit of attitude. Have you got any plans to diversify your sound even further? Or do you think you've carved yourself a niche that works? Lui- Who knows? Over the past two years its changed massively but I guess some elements remain pretty grounded in your influences, I`d like to think we can keep experimenting with our sound and keep moulding it to our own tastes and just hope people enjoy it. I`m a huge fan of guitar effects and as you know from seeing us live there’s a few mad sounds that we like to mess about with. Finally, any parting words or exclusive news you'd like to share with our readers? A big thanks again to anyone who funded our Kickstarter Fund, our fans really have kept us going as a band and well we wouldn’t be recording anytime soon without that. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a big party in September. WOB. Probably one of the biggest gigs of our year will be “Blackthorn Festival 2014” with headliners “Reverend and The Makers” and “Dodgy” it’s going to be a good weekend. (25th – 27th July)
If you took a big soup pot - like the one in Oliver Twist before the cheeky little Dickensian asks for ‘morreeeeeeeeeeeee’ – and filled it to its metallic brim with Rammstein, The Happy Mondays, Underworld, Plan B, Frankie Goes to Hollywood with a little bit of Sly and the Family Stone then you would get a sauce almost as sweet as China White. I got in touch with the band and found out that not so long ago they spent some time in Hollywood working with the Rolling Stones and Black Grape producer Danny Saber who stated they are ‘destined to be huge’. They have also collaborated with a whole variety of different artists ranging from Keith Allen and his Olympic Orchestra to Scorpio from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five; Rowetta (Happy Mondays), Kermit (Black Grape / Ruthless Rap Assassins) and the Alabama 3. JOE LOFTUS caught up with Liam Croker from the band and here is he they had to say.
record the video for the lead single 'Time For Love' which will feature a small army of horny pensioners. A lot of things will be revealed over the coming months...it's an exciting time to be involved with China White.
How are things going for the band at the minute? What is keeping you busy and what’s going on in the near future for you?
Well less than a week ago I heard Yeah Fool for the first time and I was immediately intrigued. I’m not quite sure what it was that intrigued me to find out more about China White but there was definitely something there and that is probably why I’m listening to it as we speak right now! I’d say something that definitely interested me was the sound. I suppose it would be easy just to classify you as rap or funk rap or electro rap, but there is a lot more to it than that. I can hear a whole range of different things going on.
We're busy putting the finishing touches to our forthcoming E.P 'Inspirational Medication' at Gold Studios, Leeds. We've got around sixteen tracks and are going to release six of them as an E.P first before we drop the full album. The first six we're initially wrote back to back as an E.P but as time's gone on we've just kept writing and ended up with a shitload of material. We've had some amazing musicians contribute to the record i.e. Julie Gordon and Natalie O'Donovan (Vocals), Tim Hutton (Horns), Snake Davis (Sax), Mr Maurice (steel pans) a classical string quartet from Leeds University and of course the core members of China White. So it's been quite a complex record to record and mix. It's far more live and organic sounding than anything we've done before. We've still got our trademark Electro D.Funk sound but have added a denser wall of sound through live instrumentation. It's a funk record but it's our funk, its sound is like nothing else. I'm proud of it and everyone that's been a part of creating it. We've had to dig deep at times but it's paid off. We're looking forward to getting the first batch of tracks out and getting the group back on the road. We all know we've created a unique sound that no one else is doing at this moment in time. We've resurrected an older track of ours 'Up & Down' and totally revamped and re-worked it. I've really enjoyed doing that as I always loved the song. It sounds like sex with a hangover. Sexy as fuck but a little rough round the edges...know what I mean? It's darker than before. We're just negotiating shows and a promotional tour to promote the record later in the year. We're also gearing up to
Tell me about the title of the group – China White. I understand it’s a slang term for Heroin; how come you chose this as your name? The title of the group came from the 'Melle Mel' track 'White Lines'. From the full version of the song with the dealer at the end grafting drugs. We were listening to a lot of 'Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five' at the time and that track was one of our favourites. It's not a nod to heroin as none of us are junkies. Just a nod to one of our favourite bands. We ended up touring with 'The Furious Five' in 2009 and collaborating on a track of ours called 'Aggression' with Scorpio from the band. It's a small world.
Right away I was thinking of German bands such as Kraftwerk and CAN as well as the likes of the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses and even then there is far more to it thrown into this blender of creation. Public Enemy, Tupac, Rammstein, Underworld, Moby, Bronski Beat, Supreme NTM, IAM, Plan B and David Bowie all encompassed in slight similarity into what is now China White and your industrial sounding un-genre-able rap (slightly ironic I suppose). Who would you say are your biggest influences and how have they influenced you? There are so many influences in China White that it’s impossible to account them all. It's a real melting pot. I think initially bands such as Massive Attack, Tricky, The Happy Mondays, Parliament / Funkadelic, Primal Scream, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Sly And The Family Stone all either influenced or inspired us. We've never been into scenes or genres but just music in its purest form. We're a crossover band. Music still excites me and the rest of China White. It's a constant influence in everything I do and think about. The minute that stops I'll go and get a job at the zoo.
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Or do I already have a job at the zoo? I'm not sure there's much difference to be honest. What was it that inspired you originally to make music and to write songs? Music just always has and always will turn me on. As a kid I was really into Guns N Roses. I remember being eight years old and buying 'Appetite For Destruction' on tape. It blew me away even at that young age. It was like being hit by a juggernaut. Listening to it just wasn't enough though…I wanted to create it too, learn about it, and understand how it worked as it felt so natural to me listening to it. A bit like an extra limb growing out of my ear drum. Music has been such a huge part of my life for so long that it's just there if that makes sense…like a physical entity. Sometimes I hate it and want to kill it but other times I want to bake it a cake. Like a family member. It's not a surprise that I do what I do. Anyone that really knows me would tell you the same thing. What else influences and inspires you? People inspire me to write. I love people watching. We're so fucked up at times that it's just comical. We are the ultimate beautiful mess. But everything inspires me; society, my surroundings, family, money, government. They've all ended up in a song. Depends where my head is at at the time. But I don't like depressing songs. You can write about serious subjects but it doesn't have to be depressing. Leave a message or statement but don't give people an excuse to jump in front of a bus while you're doing it. Jesus, life's hard enough as it is. Shine a little light into the darkness. How does your music go down with the crowd? Is it always different? I can imagine audiences to be a little unsure of how to react at first. At times there are a few confused faces if they've never heard us before. But that's what we like; winning people over, turning them on. At the end of the day people want to move, we make people move and feel good...simple. What are you aiming towards? Taking China White to the next level, we've done and achieved so much of our own back. I'm really excited about what the future holds for the band. It's scary to think where we can collectively take this group. It's real, it's not pretentious and that comes across to the public. I think that's what people really get from us, they believe in it and what it represents. Funk brings its own rewards.
DIMESTORE RECORDINGS Sweeney’s (03-07-2014)
Tonight was all about the pre Light Colour Sound Festival party here at Dimestore Recordings. Having been away on hiatus of sorts on account of some small matter called the Leaving Certificate it was good to see FEATURING X back doing what they do best. They opened with their own take on ADELE’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’. That was assured from the way that they invested themselves in it and the first of three consecutive originals then followed. The first if which was ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ has a smart calling. The shape to the rhythm is ground out with finesse. This is a smart effort on the lyrical front also helped by no end from the reliant skip in the tempo. You are taken aback by the intro to ‘Gold On The Ceiling’ because it brims with a true sense of urgency. The kick in the running absorbs this in the delivery and it is a very competent showing in how it is played. It is also handled with a solid mark of intent. The select calling on ‘The Boat’ drift (no pun intended) across in the rhythm and becomes something you are patiently drawn to. Then this drops out and it becomes a more regaled effort in doing so. This is tempered in a noted way as well. There sped up version of ‘Billie Jean’ then laid down the way for ‘One Too Many’ to come into the mix. The guitar riff here is catchy as hell and stays with you immediately after you hear it. This is a top drawer tune off the back of this alone. The makings are confirmed in the tight showing on all fronts. Here there is a compact showing and the brash level to things has a taut weight dispatched that also helps. The hard and fast calling displays excellently in the movement of ‘Wild Love’ giving it an evident face value from how this is called in the pace. Tracked in an unbridled way, the overall expression here proves they could have the potential to be the real deal. The vocals clock in on it in a way that is equally strong. Then as they opened they closed with a cover version that was kept in check. This time around it is a fluid effort and one that they are comfortable with.
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This next band are one of the hottest prospects on the Irish circuit and that is a good thing as well. They have a sleight of hand about ‘Soul Son’ which has a ‘Golden Retriever’ by SFA vibe to it. The stacked showing in the clean delivery is handled well and the clingy hooks help exude their class. With ‘Black Wolf’ there is a real charge that creates revelry and splendour as it is doled out. The blues influence fires it up in a way that is reasoned well. The somewhat rich 60’s vibe goes a long way and the bridge is incredible. This is a real testament to how good they are as it really gets going when it is let off the hook. They pitch up quite well with ‘Last Love Song’. Given real bite about how it sounds the leaner vocals put additional spin upon it. That charged the air and makes it a truly complete showing in doing so. You feel the heat on ‘Warehouse Blues’. This is some more solid work. What you are beginning to pick up on from the band now is how consistent they are playing live. Again they display their ability as it is all carried through. The other fine aspect on show is the manner behind the vocal delivery. They then played two covers. The first was ‘Bad Jim’ by THE HOT SPROCKETS and then ‘heart Shaped Box’ by NIRVANA. Both times they were on the money. They closed out with ‘Love You More’ and they mark their territory in a coveted and faithful way in the calling that drops it down. The heavy drum and bass give it a solemn heart that brings the anthemic quality through. It is a good calling as a last song because of this and the rhythm guitar makes the bridge from how generous it is in texture.
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It all comes together for them from the off on ‘Strange Beginnings’ and it is laid out nicely. The vocals purse through in the delivery and land squarely here. The fine tilt in the showing also connects the music in a neat way. This is a smooth operator indeed. Their second song has an added sense of appeal from the whistle that is added. Given zest from how it is all turned on it also holds in an intended way. They are cut a lot of slack from how it comes through and the steady plus of the rhythm is well maintained which gives it a true calling as it does so. On show in ‘Far From Home’ is a true sense of opulence that meets with a high standard, but it is also a well layered effort. The hints of prog rock on show are expressed in a way that has a very clear deliberation about it all. ‘Sex, Drugs & Religion’ is brokered well. The lucid carriage in the rhythm is very lush and open. The slight calypso element brings a savoury attribute to the flight as it comes across and calls it out with the hardened attributes that are also on show. This is where the tune finds resolve. ‘The More We Choose’ is a flush effort that is given what it needs from how the guitar riffs hang off. Those elected trappings come to be seasoned as they are chased down. They display a lot here and it is all commanded well. The proven hold in the depth of the rhythm confirms this. They closed out with ‘Dance Motherfucker Dance’ and this has tune written all over it when it picks up. The hip and appetising volume set a high standard for it here and it builds up while catching it all right in the chorus. It is good to see this band play again and they have a gig in The Sunday Roast (July 6th).
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THE RUBY SESSIONS Doyle’s Bar (01-07-2014) A very brief night here for us at The Ruby Sessions which consisted of three acts playing. Of the three playing on the night we had seen Orla Gartland play many times and her performance was also of the usual high standard that we come to expect from her. That was deserving of an honourable mention. Of the other two acts who played on the night – GRETA ISAAC and OTHERKIN- we were very much treated to a real night of class from what they produced when they graced the stage.
GRETA ISSAC This Cardiff songstress has a voice that procures a divinity that is rather lush. She is very much the part as a performer and her first song in her quartet on the night was ‘Don’t Go’ and her voice is a fine characteristic that proves the making of it here. This is neatly placed and tends to the delivery in a way that develops grandeur in the safe way it is handled. The steady and open feel on show comprehends the best for it. Then she plays in with a more informed rhythm on ‘I Was Yours’. The endearing call of her voice is noted on the opening line. This is what takes you in. The moresome quality allows her voice to melt in to the showing an in a way that creates a sensible warmth in doing so. She was then joined by ORLA GARTLAND for ‘Down By The Water’. The harmony they produce is excellent and it shows that they have worked on it a great deal. It is a heartfelt offering and one that has abiding attributes – lyrics, vocals and tempo- working in tandem to great effect. The lay country appearance makes it a little bit more of a darling tune to hear. The wanton and curt sensibility of her final song ‘I Knew A Boy’ rises high. A curt and wanton sense is there to be found. The story told also helps to walk it through and it becomes a partial number off the back of this. The careful flow is considered strongly and in how she applies her voice the overall tandem is kept throughout.
............................................................................................................................... Our second act that we caught on the night was OTHERKIN. They develop a clean reserve about their opening track ‘Ego mud’ which helps the running of the tempo. This in turn floods the rhythm in a way that comes through faithfully. There is a lot revealed in the elective exchanges in the lyrics that also lavishes the content with depth. They dedicated ‘89’ to DE LA SOUL. This is an excellent tune and even though you hear it stripped back acoustically there is a lot to be said for the spry bursts in the guitar. That is granted from the way it strongly collects and it allows the vocals to be excellently bundled across. It is an admonished effort with a somewhat edgy calling to it. With the minimalist approach of ‘Go Out As A High’ they configure a lot that is effective. The elated hooks in the guitars refine the delivery giving it a smooth grace that holds in the performance. They also moor a sullen side to things that works favourably.
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Sandwiched between that and their final song was a cover of ‘Islands’ by THE XX before they closed out with ‘Lockjaw’. This is an upbeat song that comes to tell a tale about battling depression. The glint of class in the inclined feeding of the tempo seems to allow a loom and loose cut preside over it. The fashionable showing is confirmed by how tight they play it.
SAUCY SUNDAYS The Grand Social (29-06-2014) A fine afternoon of football could be had in the beer garden at The Grand Social today with the crowd in full force to watch the Mexico/Holland match. But inside the heat was very much being turned on by the hot collection of artists that were set to grace the stage to make for a magic evening’s entertainment by making up the bill for tonight’s Saucy Sundays.
FOX OWL CROW Getting things going was Susan McInerney in her other guise as FOX OWL CROW and playing a solo set. The finite statement of her opening song ‘FOX OWL CROW’ makes its way through in a way that is very clean and abject. The lightness of touch is reflected in the lyrics and the neatness of being it comes to be is finely reckoned with. But it also has a spry and chaste way about it. She then procures an interesting dynamic that opens ‘Wolf’. The expressive sense of clarity is channelled through leading to a more upbeat heart beating in the later progression. This is controlled in the delivery as a whole and stays in focus. But it delves into a more rotund direction, somewhat listless in doing so, but it comes alive with a beatified sense about it in the calling.
The flow of the song dwells cleverly on the meander in the rhythm on ‘Cloud Song’. This leads to the guitar being gently traced through in a way that configures well. The sense of depth found in the hardened showing tethers to the tune in a lasting way. Again there is a sparse sensibility felt from how it is pieced together. Residually tracked is ‘Feed Yourself’ and it is guided by a conviction that is locked down in the overall showing. The discretion is helped enormously by the way her voice rolls out across on this one because it gives it a proven worth. When the playing arcs change it becomes hit with the inverted lyrics herding the delivery in a way that is managed well and wonderful to hear. Her final song was ‘Coral’ and it is interesting fit in terms of the sound and title. The looming guitar adds a flourish in the calling on the intro. What lies beneath is pieced together and gives it depth. The remote and isolated calling in the lyrics is fairly applied and it becomes a lay effort in places also.
............................................................................................................................... Opening things with a wonderfully worked version of the ELTON JOHN classic ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ she was joined by her full band for an original called ‘It Won’t Be Long’. The cello added to the mix comes to pass from the apparent way it lands on the delivery. The wonderment about the arrangement is neatly touched out but it is enhanced furthermore from how the crawl of her vocals affords it an additional appreciation. The refined qualities on show with ‘All Of Me’ are leveraged in a pleasing way. This shows abundantly and the arrangement harbours a great deal. In the plush stirrings the performance is steered forward in a way that acknowledges her performance.
A ukulele comes into the mix for ‘On And On’ and its inclusion is a bright showing. With how the light touches in the vocal and tempo give account of themselves this one grows in stature. Yet the progression is intelligently balanced. The hearty flight traces positivity in a highly effective way which also kindles the prowess of her voice. A hip feel meets well with the robust calling in the tempo for ‘I Can’t Pretend’. How it is put together functions in an exact way that is fluid and urgent. This is what manages to get underneath the delivery to give it a sense of purpose. This is controlled to accommodate such an approach. But the touches are a card that is well played here, especially when considered alongside the backing vocals. ‘Waiting’ is a feisty tune that is stared down. This holds steadily and gives the rhythm a good lift. Somewhat carefree and casual, but it goes beyond that in how the volume concisely holds. This is what makes the mechanics of the song all the more impressive. She closed out with a rather relevant cover of ‘Another Love’ by TOM ODELL.
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Sometimes a band walks onto a stage and they own it. ‘Control Myself’ comes in with a confident showing that resonates in a hardy way. The sharpness of the bass comes through in the catchy hooks. That animates their stage presence and the bridge is another strong showing in this one. The instinctive side of the band comes to pass and they own the stage by the time ‘The Party Song’ gets going. This is another off the hook showing but one that is kept on track with the lean cut it all has. All the movement is competent and the handling in the rhythm breaks it all down in a concise way that generates a high resolve to it all. With ‘Danger Danger’ they have the consistency going in the set. The resonance in their sound absorbs the room. That charged atmosphere meets with the catchy resolve. What happens sees things move to the good side of indie pop, but also displays an American leaning previously been picked up on in a more apparent way. ‘FUCK’ is an older tune that has been reworked and the retro leanings work. How they hide away see them make all the right moves here. With the smart lyrics and vocals making you take the music in in a more considerate way. That sets up ‘Doctor Is In’. This is another tight showing that offers up a great deal of potential also. The bridge is a big aspect and one that they commit to with a true air of confidence as they do so. They then played ‘Teeth’. This concluded their set but it has a more developed tone. The opening is commanded in a way that relays through on the intro. This is very much the real deal and how it is all approached drops down to give it the conviction needed, yet it is all kept in sync which is important.
JET SET RADIO
............................................................................................................................... There are those bands you see that leave a lasting impression on you and that is what you take away from seeing THE RAGMEN perform. As a rule of thumb the distinguished calling that moves through from the off gives it a lay romantic turning that is doled out considerably. How the arrangement holds is a well principled one that becomes a tour-de-force. If you are going to open then this is how to do it. The heartfelt placing in the vocals on ‘Dead Black Moth’ gives the styling a suitable yearning. That necessitates the high contemporary showing. A JIM REEVES comparison is felt from the seasoned running that saunters through in the impressive way that it does. They then stow away something of principle in the opening of ‘Miss Mississippi’ that brings a refined sense of distinction. It is a harmonised effort that soaks it all in as it takes it over. That gives it a captivating showing and it has a substantial showing that has a stylish and timely feel about it.
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A foreboding track then follows. The tracking of ‘Howling Winds’ taps into an Americana influence and the broadness is felt as it drags through. This is a taut and sullen effort that displays a true sense of composure. The delivery and approach both settle into the layered aspects. The big emphasis on the development shows as they do so. A more descript effort follows that called ‘Synonymous. The uppercrust feel of the tempo is delightful that adds to the wonderful sense of revelry on show. How it all connects musically is brilliant. The timely calling serves it well from the volume provided by the piano and guitar. The sleight of hand pushes out ‘Horse Shoe’ that is very correct. Ascendancy in the vocals is secured from the opening line. The gospel feel locates the heart and floors everything. This blows you away from how magnificently they lead it toward its conclusion. The last song in a very impressive set here was ‘Heathen’. The splendour brings a sense of contention to the tempo, while the vocals find the salvation it strives for. This charming effort doesn’t put a foot wrong. Personified by this excellence in the calling puts the proverbial seal on one of the best performances I have ever seen.
The reputation of Saucy Sundays as one of the best club nights in the country is well earned. To justify that tag the final act on the night were Swedish rockers GRAND ROYALE. There is no mistaking what they are about from the very second they walk out on stage. What you are treated to is full on. They got going with ‘Venue’ which hits the ground and hard and fast. The swagger and composure also has scant disregard for anything but the music. The savoury feel in how they rock out is laid on thick and fast. Following that comes another smash and grab effort with ‘Grande Royale’ and is another effort that is seen through off the back of the vibrancy shown. Then they seem to display some further ability with ‘Charlie Raka’. While in their set now there is a sense of monotony coming through here they close it with a clever development of guitar play. There is a sense of fluidity about ‘Alcohol’ which is kept in check. From there they seem to procure a love for the craft side of things. From the bridge they certify everything with the sublime and lean hold that is demonstrated. It continues on and that then sees them play straight into ‘Shout It Out’. Again it is a sheer effort and one that sees them delve into playing with no regard for anyone else. The abandonment adorns it in a way that is both sublime and lean. They again go for an all-out off the hook delivery with ‘Lucifer Blues’. Here you see the clear intent of how loyal they are to the genre. Guitar licks and large movements fill the room at The Grand Social. In some ways their set is monotonous, but it is the gleeful poise and joy that they exhibit on stage that actually sweeps you in the moment. Again you get more of the same with ‘Omission’. But before you become too quick to dismiss it you also have to acknowledge the drive and energy here as it rides in high. Conviction and composure are traits they have in abundance as a band which are traded fairly here in the playing exchanges. ‘Bow To No Man’ is a new song and is smartly brought around. This is a brash effort with an edgier raw cut written¬ all over it. The unbridled way they let it out is spirited. How they mosh out with this one is a highly invested showing from them. With ‘Déjà vu’ they hit hard and fast. No quarter is given and nor should there be. What they strive for here is worthy of appreciation from the live showing and they then closed out with ‘Dangerous’. It lived up to its name. This is a more developed effort and one that is provided well fro from the frenzy that the guitar creates. The fast 8-bar rhythm guarantees satisfaction and that they are a band fronted by a bass player only highlights the showmanship furthermore.
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@ Deaf Institute (Manchester)
It's always awkward when you go to a gig to watch or review the support band. Rarely is the crowd at full capacity, and not very often are they particularly interested. Unless of course the support band you're going to see is Acre Tarn, and the gig in question is their debut outing. With a veil of mystique surrounding the band, not a huge amount is known about them other than that they're an ambient duo who tested the waters with their debut track 'This Once' back in May. The enigma around the band looks set to dissipate however, especially if tonight's set is anything to go by. Dark, atmospheric and ultimately captivating, Acre Tarn are a band you should be very excited about.
live review by dave beech
other bands on the bill and despite having a similar to set up to headliners Alpines, Acre Tarn's drum loops and synth hooks drip with a chilly darkness; the vocals only adding to the overall majesty of it all. An early inclusion of 'This Once' draws yet more of the crowd towards the stage, whilst what follows is all completely new to us, tracks such as 'Wishing Bones' and closer 'Skeleton Key' really exhibiting the diverse musicality of the band before us.
If tonight's set is anything to go by, then it should go without saying the band's forthcoming EP should be something we're counting down the days for. Indeed, whilst their mystique is still very much in place, as At only six tracks long, their set is over too their reputation grows that will certainly soon, and as the house lights at Manchester's change, but it isn't strictly a bad thing and the Deaf Institute go flick on, there's a far bigger more people who would consider themselves crowd blinking at the brightness than was fans of the band, the more my confidence in present in front of the stage half an hour music-buying public will grow. For the minute previously, serving as a testament to the band's though, the band should continue to relish in beguiling charm and enigmatic ambience. relative anonymity, shrouded by the strobe lights and haunting synths of live Opening with 'Serene', they quickly assert performances, because before long the wheels themselves as something different from the of the hype train will set in motion, and all it can do then, is gather momentum. - 22 -
Irish Artists HOMELESS MAFIA Ladykiller Lullabies
With how the bounce on ‘Introducing: Damien Monk’ is considered, some serious smarts are brought to the mix. The tempo drops down cleverly bringing an intelligent showing and contention to it as an opening track as much as the freestyle does. That is followed by ‘Sandra’ with the funk coming into contention finely from the off. The abandonment to it is akin to TALKING HEADS for the innovation, but on its own merits the right points shown carry through with the correct sense of deliberation. There is a more casual sway to the rhythm on the intro of ‘Ashley’ but there is also a calm and collected resolve about things. The passivity of the vocals expertly guides the delivery while the chaste quality impresses in a noted way with the laboured tempo adding certainty to the appeal. A more upbeat showing is noted in the delivery with ‘Anne’, yet they retain their offbeat style. The breakdown in the rhythm pushes through with a sturdy conviction and they draw strength from this to take it where it needs to go. How next track ‘Gemma’ is brought around really grabs you. Somewhat reggae in places, the excellence from the intro carries all the way through. The weighted delivery
10 is gauged in a way that brings muscle but also gives it a highly presentable and admirable cut. The progression towards the psychedelic is a clean transition with ‘Rachelle’. The feverish calling in the arrangement is carefully caressed resulting in a staggering allure that gifts the song in a telling way from how it pours out. Things pick up in ambitiously with ‘The Chase’. A highly elaborate synthesised/New Wave organic is factored in which brings a lot to the table. The build-up is carefully played with that adds a richness in the texture as it all comes together collectively as an ensemble. The penultimate track on the album ‘I Know Your Game’ shows that they are very much on top of theirs. They seem content in allowing the slick side of things bridges the provocative showing while keeping in mind the mainstream feel of the flow. The longing is a feature that is kept within reach that sets up everything neatly. They close out with ‘End Song’. The fitting retro appeal follows up the New Wave feel displayed with ‘The Chase’, only there is a more sublime and detailed figuration in how it collects here. There is also a higher sense of investment holding it together that rewards their endeavour. - 23 -
The benevolent showing to ‘Outta Sight’ gauges the intensity before letting loose in a reserved way. How they roll this one out has a true sense of identity that meets ability and is rewarded from how it feeds into the hardened cut. They seem comfortable in their playing which shows on ‘Stories And Lies’. They keep an eye on bringing it around which is reflected in the concise way things are stared down. The pleasing sway of the tempo kneads through and is a deft application that warrants appreciation. Third track ‘Low 7’ brings the funk and muscle from the bass. This applies muscle to everything and moves the arrangement smartly along with the rest of the play. How this is brought to the table allows the rock side to develop expertly. The slick styling is excellently tracked with the right lines drawn across it in so many ways. Grabbing you from the pitch of the vocals on the intro is ‘Shake Skin’. They get down to business straight away. The full on showing of the blues influence is rode in well. In some ways compact, while in others slightly casual, it is a tune that deliberately brings the relevance through. Then comes ‘Dirty Like Rock’N’Roll’ that catches
10 everything just right in the bounce of the guitar that draws you to it. The solid calling here adds up, while the progressive leaning shows on the bridge with the faux psychedelic proving a good fit as well. Then we come to “Pray For Some Luck”. This was an inclusion on TV3’s ‘The Apprentice’ back in 2011 but it hasn’t lost any bite. You sense the authority in the raw vocals but the edge is added from the guitar. They dig deep here and are rewarded fairly for their efforts. With ‘Going Out West’ there is a deep south showing. The solitude in the delivery moves through candidly, yet they rise to the challenge when things become a full on affair with the resonance of the guitar sharply cutting through everything. The direction of the album changes with ‘Portis’. What is reasoned in the flight carries the impact across on the delivery. There is a finesse to how it is pieced together that shows the progression. This is then underlined on next tune ‘Grizzly Days’. The sense of retribution found in the solitude gives it meaning. Along with this resides something in the lyrical context that delightfully guides it through. They lay on the playing as it closes and this passes over on closing track ‘On My Own’. The development here marks the progression of the album as a whole. They coax things on this one but the definition in the play is top drawer. This is comfortably managed and closes the album out on a deserved high. - 24 -
SLEEP THIEVES You Want The Night
The opening track ‘City Of Hearts’ denotes ambition and ability in abundance. The synthesised calling in the tempo has volume and is invitingly brought under control. With how this sits alongside the inviting caress of the vocals the tune is properly fronted which carries it all. On ‘Sparks’ you are immediately impressed by the tasteful retro chic that lights it up. The richness and volume elects upon the delivery and the progression in the delivery is truly excellent. This is a flawless tune in so many ways. A sense of noir comes across on the opening to ‘You Want The Night’ that kindly befalls the running. This formulates neatly with the looming ambience and the pitch of the vocals, both the roboticised and high pitched, stand out here for the right reasons. That alternative vocal approach carries across on ‘Oceans’. The high pitch swoon then meets with that stoic approach in an enriched way. Behind the running resides a deeper tone that situates the mood of the style in a way that lifts across it in a swift motion, but still encompasses the sense of stillness they strive for. How things fall into place elevates ‘French Kiss’
10 comparatively. There is a processed sentiment that drops down on the tempo plays to their strengths. The warmth of the referential aspects smartly takes hold and fastens to the showing in a deliberate way. The oriental leaning on show with ‘Ishimura’ holds lavishly and neatly leads it into a broader expanse. But it is a neatly processed calling that demonstrates a high degree of musicality in the transition. Up next is ‘Through A Sea’ and this is another excellent track on the album. From the patient manner of the opening it proceeds to pick up conclusively, but the key is in how it builds. When it cuts loose there is a defined new wave showing that is driven through with all intents and purposes about it. Coming into the home stretch is ‘High’ which touches out the tempo in a keen way. This allows things build in a notable manner that takes account of the expressive side of what they are about as artists. A select veneer gathers in the beat that employs the right attributes in the stoic ambience factored in. This is seasons the overall delivery in a commendable way that is very cleanly brought through. ‘Tusk’ then sees the darker tone and structure in their sound reappear. Here it is employed in a sedate way which feeds through in the tempo comparatively. The small details add up here. There is a bonus track called ‘Casiotune Lover’ which makes for another fine addition on a wonderfully crafted album. How it is scored sweeps through and holds things together. The passive side of things carries itself well here and the overall composure denoted manages the persuasive tranquillity in a way that puts it central. - 25 -
WONDER VILLAINS Rocky
With a spry sense of gusto the album opens with ‘TV’. It is kept tight and they hammer away with the playing but it is all tracked finely. It is a pop tune that has a minute feel that simultaneously charms. With ‘Blonde’ you get a real feel that you are listening to ‘Steal My Sunshine’ by LEN in places. It is another magical ditty from the band. How it clocks in tees it all up commendably from the off with the saccharine feel becoming a welcome feature. They kick things into touch on ‘Zola’. Invigorated by the captivating abandonment, it steps out excellently and they really show what the hype is all about here. The synthesised sound is felt squarely with ‘33’ which sets out a quickened approach that comes across neatly. When the vocals drop down it is a nice approach. The clean pick up equally elevates proceedings. The drumming and guitar combine on ‘Golden Five’. The overall delivery has a nimble and pert calling to it that is heartily embraced. The twee like appeal doesn’t go unnoticed. Then the album begins to mature as they break away with ‘Fiction’. The rhythm is more sullen and littered with electro nuances that make the ambience felt. Pardon the pun, but this is where things get real. The passive and rotund bounce in the rhythm also calls the shots as much as the other finer points that are kept in focus.
This is a proper tune with all the makings.The playing is now developed for the album as the slow and detailed keepsake style on show carries over with ‘Linklater’. What opens up for the tune here faithfully catches a lot in a way that keeps their cool ethos in the equation, but also brings through a concrete tune in the process. They return to the retro on ‘Debbie’. The celebratory way they connect the dots is brilliantly matched with how the synth brilliant scores the delivery. ‘Ferrari’ is arguably the standout track on the album. Blissful turns in the tempo swamp the delivery which formidably adds urgency to how it picks up. The vocals are also an excellent calling on this one but it the brilliance of the anthemic punch that sells you.
A more ornate yearning sends ‘Baby Don’t Look So Sad’ on its way. It is a telling tune and definitely a stand out on the album. How it is layered allows the playing do its part. Another fine showing is noted in the vocals which pour out with sincerity along with the lyrics. It is a well thought out effort and channelled accordingly. Next song ‘Marshall’ is another excellent tune with a refined manner in the beat getting beneath the delivery to carry it all the way through. It is fluid and they lean on the harder approach here which brings out the best in the tune overall. The chirpy calling of ‘Oh Peter’ brings the album to a close. It catches things in a savoury way while also lighting it all up with the amiable turning in the delivery. The whip from the guitar rounds it all out and it brings the curtain down in the way it opened in terms of style, but also keeping the retro charm at the front. - 26 -
The Moon Loses Its Memory In the opening track ‘Maze Of Your Heart’ the level of intent listlessly comes to pass. The hazy feel of the tempo picks up the pieces and as the running brings it together it is completed further by the partial qualities lighting up in a big way. The hurried rhythm on show with ‘Yellow Crumbs’ offers a sense of release, but the arrangement encompasses a lot musically. Deft touches in places sweeten everything. What is followed through retains something true at the core that it benefits tremendously from. A slight jazz feel is noted on ‘The Moon Loses Its Memory’. The taut and contemporary beatnik style fixes to the delivery quite fashionably, but it progresses beyond that in the sullen side that reflects how cleverly it is processed. An astute feel guitar brings the guitar through on ‘Thirst & Water’. A consistency gives the hold something solid to build upon. It is a choice number that notes the emotive tone figuratively and calls it out fairly bringing a majesty that bodes well. With ‘Solid’ the direction is more sullen. But the clarity collected in the flow pushes through in a succinct way. The weaving manner triumphantly kindles it in a way that bestows a deserved gravitas upon it all. ‘You Stole December’ stows the running and calibrates fortunately while exceling
9 while holding back. Coveting the reserve gives the sentiment more presence without it feeling outworn. Then we come to ‘Man of Sand’. Steadily built and handsome it hones in on something impartial in the lyrics that serves it well. What is conceived here is a mark of triumph. It elegantly moves into next song ‘Morning’. The awning of the tempo moors an essence that humbly befits. The warmth is cleanly brought through and in the attentive feel of the vocals the sensibility comes in high. The stirring feel of the violin on ‘Place A Letter On My Front Porch’ opens things and from there it moves into being an appealing and dandy tune. This is rather telling romanticism plays notably across the delivery. A candid Americana offering comes through on ‘Basement’. This stirs it devilishly. The revelry in the tempo provides it with a transition as much as it does a reserve. It is all clearly drawn. ‘Silver As Mercury’ also hankers to that Americana feel but it clicks into place in a more concise way. How it does so is highly impressive. A more hardened calling comes to pass with ‘Burning Coal’. The fluid guitar meets the urgency head on and stokes it emphatically. The lean calling gets so much right. In the partiality lies a virtuous touch that gradually fills out and brings the calling forth. As the title suggests, ‘Lay Low Awhile’ is a comfortable tune that lies within a more tranquil framework. The rushes of the play bode well, be they in the vocals or the lush draw of the arrangement. The softened aspects flow with a natural consistency. The last track is ‘Smiles & Metaphors’. The lay quality clicks here and superbly works its way through. The gentle aspects are careened, while keeping it short and sweet works wonders. - 27 -
There is a sparse notoriety about ‘Interval’ embraced in the ensemble characteristics. The electronica and synth breathe life into it. This characterised the pedigree and the affluent experimental gets cleanly called here. The engaging flow of the album again comes to pass with ‘Silent Protest’. The solemn way it sensibly fixed and the reverberating echoes add ambience while the depth of the foreboding structure acclimatises the tone when the urgency kicks in. With ‘Telegraph’ the cool side of things is very much on show. Akin to the ‘Play’ album by MOBY, it has a distinct veneer in the looms that appreciate furthermore as the tune tidily skips along. Maybe it takes the title to heart literally but there is a suave calling to ‘Casanova’. This is evidently channelled through in an appreciative way. It takes time to build but it weighs in appropriately. The expansive retaining in the composure notably brings it around but it carries a temperament in how it hangs back. You would imagine that the new wave era would be an influence musically and this shows on ‘Grand Gestures’. The album’s token long player, it goes the distance and the differing playing arcs don’t veer off course. Instead they
7 inhabit a determined largesse that is handled that is generously actualised. Industrial influences play their part with ‘Head’. The contemporary manner of the styling combines a contrast between a starker rhythm and one that accentuates the looms in the tone. The steady way it is gathered works for both approaches giving it a decisive autonomous sway in the process. We come to ‘100 Cuts’ which is a bit of a downer actually. Lacking a pick up in pace or organisation doesn’t bode well for the flat rhythm. How it plays out lacks that necessary key ingredient to bring it together. It is a limp effort. However things are redeemed with ‘Arm The Harmless’. A sleight of hand in the rhythm factors in a lot with the sultry Eastern allure. Highly inviting chakra intricacies add volume to the running. The splendour as it closes out is also excellent. It is a saving grace for the album and then we come to the last track on the album ‘Finally’. Here an acoustic guitar is added to the arrangement that hangs about nicely. There is a zip in the background from radio effects and other electronica aspects which stem the flow of the rhythm, but it steers it towards a conclusion. Overall, this is not a bad album. As an instrumental effort some work is needed, but as an alternative and progressive offering it has a lot going for it. - 28 -
Brutal Theatre Review by Jamie Kelly
The opening track is called ‘Fight Or Flight Response’. The song opens up with a build-up on the drums before a gut wrenching riff comes in to send it into full flow. Some quality aggression and energy comes through the guitar and vocals. The dynamics of the lead guitar work to send it off. The quirky intro to ‘Past Abandoned’ is very effective. The vocal harmonies in the chorus give off good energy bringing an element of epic-ness about it. The impressive drum work on show also makes it overall. The next song is entitled; ‘Storm Gonna Lock You Up’. This is very strong lyrically. The effects on the guitar complement the rest of the song really well. There is a good flow about the chorus which is backed up by loads of energy. Marked out by a distinct sound is ‘The Gift’. The vocals have a classic rock feel to them. A sweet guitar solo in the middle is then followed by a small harmonica one. For that I loved this track. The next song is called ‘Beggar’s Belief’. This is a very low-key, toned down and stripped back effort compared to the rest of the album that is again defined by a great vocal performance to make it a great song. ‘Big Talk’ is again another song that is very strong lyrically, with the vocals duly noted by the good range apparent. The
7 topped guitar licks that come in are top notch throughout and off with a solo toward the end. The seventh track on this album is called ‘Devil’s In The Detail’. A smooth flow gathers in the lyrics while the rising chromatic notes that accompany the vocals at the start of the verses are very effective. This creates a strong energy as well as a climax, while a combination of another sweet guitar solo and licks teases out the rest of the track. The vocals in the chorus to ‘Snakes In Suits’ have a classic rock kind of feel to them. They make this into a bit of an anthem that I’m sure must be a crowd favourite. The song breaks down in the middle before building up for a climatic finish. The next tune is called ‘Dissatisfaction’. This is quality and paced with some heavy guitar riffs. The drum beat gives off a high octane feel. The vocal harmonies are also effective on this one. The last track is the eponymous ‘Brutal Theatre’. The spoken vocals at the start and in the verses give off omnipotence. It is as if it’s about to explode, which it does. The chorus catches this off the back of some great lead guitar work, while some really tasty licks throughout the second half provide well. The ending erupts to give a climatic finish to the album. Overall I thought this album was great, with something reminiscent of 80’s rock anthems meeting with modern elements making it an enjoyable listen.
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Good To Be Alive Review by Jamie Kelly
The first track of this album is called ‘Rock n ‘Roll (O.F.O). This is a great opener and a real rock anthem that will melt your face off. It is filled with powerful vocals, harmonies, shredding guitar solos and rocking drums. I particularly liked the bit toward the end where everything tones down before explosively coming back in to finish on a high. The second, ‘All Flash’, has some quality lyrics. The upbeat tempo gives the song a real happy vibe making it a very enjoyable to listen to. Again this has a great solo towards the end that wraps up the whole song. The next track is called ‘(Let Me) Take You Home’. This is a bit more chilled out than the rest. The combination of the repetition of the catchy chorus and guitar work their magic here. The fantastic intro to ‘Keep On Walkin’ makes for a different feel than the previous three. It seems to be more emotional but with a bit more grit. The ‘wah’ on the guitar solo really fits in and adds a bit of epicness to the tune. Despite being called ‘Beautiful Bitch’ the song has some balls. It’s a strange mix between being a love song, and simply; not being a love song. Toning down in the middle turns into a bit of a ballad. The
9 lead guitar player has a real knack for writing epic solos. ‘Take It Back’ has a bit of a country feel to it. The solo section in the second half is brilliant, with the vibrancy busting into full overdrive to see out the rest of the tune. Another high octane effort follows suit with ‘That’s What You Get’. This is a highoctane tune bursting with energy. The drummer goes into half time on the chorus which makes it super catchy. Again a facemelting guitar solo in the second half of the song sends it off. Track eight is called ‘Now You’re Gone’. This has an almost bipolar feel to it that oscillates between high energy full overdrive and ballad-esque moments. It can be hard to fit a great mix into one song but they manage it. With ‘Doin’ Fine’ the chorus is integrated into the song. This gives the listener a real hook to hang on from the high level of musicianship that shines through. Penultimate track ‘The Wake’ sets up the album to close. This one starts off with a superb intro and you are immediately transported to imaging it before a much bigger crowd. The powerful and intense moments blow you away. It brings things nicely to the title track which closes the album out. The quirky intro puts down a sturdy foundation for the song to erupt into tune later on. This is a great effort, and is best listened to at full volume.
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FUTURE PHANTOMS Escapades Getting it all underway with ‘Everything Is Wrong’, the clever calling here brings the delivery through cleverly on the intro. Then the vocals come off in an understated way but they heighten the effort here. Added into the mix is the sturdy showing in the tempo which also happens upon the effort as a whole in a way that is keenly felt. ‘Going Round’ is another effort. In some ways the rhythm sounds similar to their first track but the differences show. The matured falling of the lyrics comes to pass in a favourable way. The bass has a lot going for it and the little treatises in the tracking are a nice touch. The version of ‘Do You Want More’ is the finished article. The clean way it pours out is affirmative. The tight hold of the playing keeps it together and it is a sound effort indeed. This is brought through with a sense of intent and it is exceptionally impressive. They get it right and find their calling on this one from start to finish. You pick up on the charge running through ‘Nobody Knows’. How it fixes to the intro allows the reserved build come to pass. Catchy as well, and one that always goes down well at their live showings, the steady flow in the tempo drives it on. With indie written all over it is a solid guitar driven effort and one that rides in high.
Proximity Effect The approach to ‘The Great Wheel’ is one that incorporates a large amount if integrity and brings it toward a select feel with the musical appreciation on show. Differing playing arcs and styles combine to fine effect which in turn fire it up. But the reserved flight keeps it in check. The vocals and the jazz hints busy about and add to the appeal. All the funk points ‘Double Helix’ in the right direction. The delectable beat takes hold and they plant it firmly. As the vocals are delivered you appreciate it furthermore and the telecast concept allows it to go beyond its confines. It is a truly inventive effort and one that pushes the envelope with that feature, while the contemporary turn of events also falls favourably by design. Electronica then comes to pass on ‘All Good’ but it soon gives way to allow the guitar and bass drive the rhythm on. The lean calling is pieced together. In the pitching of things a great deal falls favourably into place and it is one of those tunes that knows how to call down what it needs. The good understanding that they have between interlinking the delivery comes to pass on ‘Seventh Heaven’. This is a full on piece and one that has a nouveau appeal to it. The seamless and carefree operation consumes the delivery and invigorates it in a redeeming way. There are also bold strokes that add to the magnetism on show.
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THE DAILY HOWL The Daily Howl
A fortitude and sensibility washes through on ‘Hang It On A Hook’. The tidy gathering that comes to pass drives it all and it cuts loose in a way that is highly referential. Factor in the fact that it has a catchy and charming placing about it all and you are left with a tune that has a timeless quality all of its own. The pristine flow of ‘Haulin’ carries it all the way. It is a strong offering and the calling in the tune s tracked neatly in the rhythm. The flourishes in the delivery are quite explicit and they extend upon the tempo in the adulated way that they give it a kick. It skips through and the meander in the delivery is explicitly felt and appreciated. Then they indulge in a softer effort with ‘Say You’ll Stay’. Then it sees their country input carry across in the ornate touches. It is a song that deserves praise and they land upon it with a courageous sense of conviction that steadies their handling. It is not short of charm either and it closes out in a big way. The EP signs off with ‘I Will Let You Down’ and it is a joyous effort. The fulfilled and contented helpings are cleverly dealt. All the opportune aspects hang about on it and it is incredibly well worked. The urgent kick in the tracking serves it well with the raised ebb and flow that drives it on.
.......................................................................................................................... BLANCATRANSFER Why
Captured in the opening track ‘Braves’ is a fine understanding of building a great tune and delivering on that. The darker point on show is somewhat akin to the New Romantic era of music. The New Wave hints carry across but seem to impart a more meaningful presence across that makes the most of it. The free flow stands up to be counted but it is orchestrated in a way that commands the delivery. The lingering and free handling of ‘Good Old Love Song’ rains down on it all in a generous way that turns up the appeal factor. The smooth and brash calling in the running carries over in a resolute way. The playing hinges in this and it sets it ablaze. The heartened feel about this one is excellent and the compact rhythm unfurls in a way that fixes everything where it should be. ‘Inside The Borderline’ is one of those tracks that is considered both a pop tune and indie but not indie pop. The pert way that they leverage the guitar in the rhythm mixes it up and the beat is catchy. It seems to keep the track moving and how it lies within alludes towards something of consequence that climbs steadily but also allows the rock side its moment to shine. The title track closes the EP out. They turn on this with a pertinent touch of class. It comes around and the competent way it does so carries across. Coasting off the back of this sees it take flight, before a choke in the guitar brings it to book, The bang to rights feel of the showing falls into place and adds a deserved sense of urgency in the lyrics, and in time the weight and casual ease work into the dynamics in a telling way.
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AURORA J YOUNG
You Reap What You Sew A neat manner opens the album with ‘Local Hero’. The savoury upbeat tempo comes to pass when the tempo meets the soulful showing. Her strong voice and assured ambition on show here seal it all in. What presents is highly justified and the arrangement very much fulfils the potential. That select feel of her music kneads its way through on ‘Guilty Pleasure’, but deeper in tone and presence. The exactness incorporates a sense of volume that opens up as things step out. The sense of brilliance that collects sitting upright in the delivery on all fronts drives it on. Things become a bit softer on ‘Reap What You Saw’. The emotion distinctly pushed out is a sound effort that leans on the arrangement correctly which sees it right and welcomes the weight behind it. The unexpected way ‘You’re A Dirty Friend’ gets down to business catches you in the right way. It has a somewhat extremely well balanced 60’s vibe that meets soul. How it is befriended with the elements merging is impeccable. The refined sentiment holds strongly imbuing it with a natural purpose. What follows, ‘One Last Night’, is another brilliant tune. All the tracks have a sense of appreciation that goes down well. This one is another effort that you warm to. The vocals touch on the
10 emotion and carry across in the performance with true distinction. All of the heart shows on ‘Keep These Fears’ but in the optimistic way that the running comes to pass you are taken up in the moment. Precise and patient, but how they combine here matters. Keeping the momentum in check on the breakdown bowls you over. Things become more upbeat and slightly funky with ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’. There is a prestigious manner about the resolve with how everything comes together. It does more than just line up in the right way from the showy way the class lingers. Her voice lingers in a way that ushers the delivery through on ‘Ain’t Got The Best Of Me’. This is one of those timeless efforts. The telling way it is played out manages to contain the high standard and ambition intended with a forlorn sentiment coming in adding a partial appreciation which completes it. On ‘Passing Me By’ she seems to play to her strengths. The select way that she directs her voice adds to the appreciation here. The right degree of support is afforded it from how the arrangement is laid out but this is just another magnificent effort. The curtain falls with ‘Tender’ which presses ahead in the deserved way the title suggests. The approach is tastefully delivered and she pins the neatness at the core in a way that is sufficiently worked through. Overall it is rather choice and has a transition that oozes class.
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Everything Goes In some ways they are a ska outfit and this presents fancifully as the vocal trip out on ‘Palm Of Your Hand’. The neat way it falls into place is excellently worked. The catchy side alongside the soothing texture drags the upbeat tempo across. They retain that faithful calling in making the catchy side of things meet with substance on ‘Electric’. A fray feel gets beneath the delivery, but the drumming is smartly gauged giving a seasoned faux disco style which works its magic. ‘Eyes Of Diamond, Tears Of Gold’ is another substantial effort. The casual manner in how it hangs back shows but it accentuates the guitar riffs. The steadfast beat keeps it fluid and denotes some preparedness when it moves into gear that they feed off in the delivery which lights it up. Things mature in a way that leads from the front with ‘Sync Or Swim’. What is on show is appetising in a way that grabs you. The delivery materialises and the gains in play come from a masterful showing. As the intro to ‘Rubber Ghost’ comes into the mix they seem to process a sensitive mood that hangs
8 over selectively. Pumped up in a spirited way there is a contention here that falls favourably. They again play to that calling with ‘Wonderland’. They occupy a middle ground as well between something that is alternative in the ambience, but it eases into the contemporary calling they have. It moves in a more fervent way than before with the quaint Eastern flair selectively holding. The upbeat rhythm then comes in on that. The lyrics also falling in with the intelligent calling here has deserved charm, but clocks in with a formidable heft in the later progression. After that comes ‘Mygrain’. With the due bass riff and neat guitar clicks there is a strong emphasis on the musical side here. They are now stepping up to the plate and this is an illuminated effort that presses ahead in a forward way. In turn, the urgency is controlled which gives it direction. The last track is ‘Rule #1’. There is a candid folly about it but they also prove their worth in how the beat drops down. A selective call in the right places, while the skittish attributes also ride in high here. Another added touch of class is the fortunate way that the brass section accompanies the overall effort here.
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LOUISE DISTRAS Dreams From The Factory Floor
Almost like a female RAMONES, the opening track ‘Stand Strong Together’ is a raw offering with a choice and somewhat anarchic cut. The unity of the masses against the classes is the message here, but there is strength in the tempo which sees the catchy showing torn into in a solid manner. Again the upbeat carries through on ‘Bullets’, but is backed up by the background features in the arrangement. The combination of the punk sentiment and defiance in the lyrics give it reach. How this rains down goes the distance. ‘Love Me The Way I Am’ is carefully expressed. Here the album matures. Stripping it down gives it sincerity, while duly processing the heft and urgency in the delivery. The acoustic guitar in the rhythm on ‘The Hand You Hold’ frames the delivery. From there the angst touches out, both lyrically and vocally. The message about standing up is a positive one, while the robust tempo is highly appetising and makes the vacant calling. A more select tune is conceived of with ‘Not In Our Name’. It is a leaner effort, and this is noted from how she invests in her performance. The flight is guided by the hardened and prompt showing. Then the album shifts to a folk calling on ‘Black & Blue’. The
8 careful philosophy of the lyrical metaphors blissfully meets with the dandy skip. How it all comes to pass has a proven quality about it and also a sense of fulfilment that is traded upon fairly. She then reverts back to type with rowdy effort ‘Shades Of Hate’. Everything about it has a sharp pick up and the drawl in her vocals burns bright. Overall it is a commendable track brimming with a degree of charm. The anger issues played out on ‘No Mercy’ selectively show. The context retains something pure in the offering, while the reflective calling configures that towards something conclusive. Her showing as a storyteller comes to pass favourably on ‘One Thousand Years’. An attentive offering, the neat tracking shows a resolve and brings out the best in the application. There is abundance about the intro to ‘Story Is Over’ that drops down in a noted way. The chorus rolls over on this and steers it through. The album’s title track is actually a poem. ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’ seems to evoke a Marxist spirit and urges the revolution to rise up. The medium seems to incite things. The last song here is ‘People From The Abyss’. Barren and raw tidings take pride of place here and retain a faithfulness that is a saving grace. Somewhat dismissive and anomic, this downtrodden spirit is carefully considered which knowingly condenses the delivery as whole. - 35 -
SARAH JAROSZ Build Me Up From Bones
Dropped down with a consequential allure is the opening track ‘Over The Edge’. It heightens the delivery and her smouldering vocals caress the delivery. The slight bluegrass licks hang back and it is very referential in places when it picks up. There are times when a song just stands out which is the case with ‘Fuel The Fire’. The humble flow of the tempo absolves the running and the desirable pressing of her voice captivates. The richness is handled and it serves it well yet it is a complete effort. The free candour of ‘Mile on The Moon’ is complemented by the whimsical lyrics that touch well with the beckoned flow of the arrangement. It is relevant and the righteous touch carries it through, but it has this blissful calling about it the notable sway. The title track follows and is another complete effort. Here the revelry is held close and as such the sincerity of the delivery filters through. The timely current that befalls it brings a marvellous sense of wonder. In the sleight of hand on ‘Dark Road’ the resolve is found from the tempo. Then it is furnished furthermore by the deft manner of her voice and how it purses through in the performance. What is conveyed is impeccable and the class resides in such an apparent way from the off.
10 With ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ you appreciate the whole effort. In the manner that her voice takes hold the shape of things is strongly determined. The succinct sentiment pulls it closer and as such it beckons the sincerity forth in a meaningful way. What you get with ‘1,000 Things’ is another excellent offering that pulls you in from the opening. The revered aspect of the tone gifts it an inviting allure and she commands the song from this. The meander of the tempo translates into the running in a delectable way that also carries through with fine merit. An explicit display of class is shown with ‘Gone Too Soon’. The earnest and inspired ornate flow of emotion in the performance guides the track through. The softness of the delivery is an enamoured offering and one that splendidly picks up while also keeping hold of the sullen tone. The reach of ‘Anything Else’ feels like a continuation. Stirred by the contentment of the softer touches allows an ascendency come to pass that touches the reach in a highly developed way. Shining a more nimble light on things is ‘The Book Of Right On’. The hardy lyrics also have small eccentricities contained within that are rather fortunate from both how they reside and add to things when it picks up. The last track is ‘Rearrange The Art’. Yet again there is an appreciation that breaks through in the articulate aspects. These are comprehensively worked through. The open and sheltered lyrics denote a lavish solitude that is comfortably numb by comparison but comes to pass favourably. - 36 -
WILL STRATTON Gray Lodge Wisdom
The self –titled track opens the album. A wonderful sense of majesty greets you on the opening in a divine way. The soft and bespoke manner of his voice traces along it here in a hopeful way. Added to the appeal is the impressive arrangement that denotes a high level of appreciation on the track. ‘Dreams Of Big Sur’ follows and it is another excellent piece of work. The guitar stows away here and the intricacy of the piano doesn’t escape your attention. The tasteful way that the sheltered calling in his voice lays across provides it with a wealth of appreciation. The innate manner from how it picks itself up is highly impressive and provides it with an integrity that is affirmed in the showing. Another spry effort is next with ‘Wild Rose’. A drift in the delivery fixes to all aspects of the delivery. This enlightens the calling dutifully and it weathers it in a readied way on all fronts. The beatified calling here is careless and free, which abounds in a determined way but one that is suitable. On ‘Yeah, I’ll Requite Your Love’ he seems to concentrate the delivery
8 towards an introverted appeal. The sensitive side of the tune comes through and the reflective sentiment seems to enhance that appreciation. That gives the offering a sense of fulfilment that is comfortably keyed into proceedings. The contemporary feel to ‘Long Live The Hudson River Valley’ is heightened by his yearning to be home found in the lyrics. That is expelled within the delivery and the open-ended spirit resigns itself to fall into place with the utmost of ease. This lifts the tune in an elated way. That upbeat flow is again brought to bear on ‘Do You Love Where You Live?’ but there is also the softer calling in the flight that is contended with. It is fashionable and the steady way it all sets out falls into place commendably. An instinctive essence patiently leads on ‘The Arrow Darkens’. Ethereal in the right places, this is measured carefully in the poise that neatly comes to pass. The closing track ‘Fate Song’ is guided by the stillness. The sleight of hand that turns the direction here and it channels the right elements towards their intention. Overall, albeit a brief album at eight tracks, everything falls into place here.
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THE BALCONIES Fast Motions
Stirred from the guitar, ‘Boys And Girls’ is a well worked effort. Something retro resides and they take stock of this with how it presses ahead. They make the most of it and the compact way it is stacked is also highly charged. They get it right again with ‘I Know You’re Right’. This is an effort that is chased down in the right way. Beginning in a steady way it then procures a sharp determination which pumps through the delivery in the later progression. This rides in high and really brings it home. A shoot the breeze feel is caught on ‘Good And Ugly’ before becoming a constructive effort. The innovative approach begins to shape the running and this provides well here. Orchestrated in a deliberate way seems to give it an edgier cut that harnesses the potential in a considered way that shows. After the brief interlude that is ‘Moving Parts’ we come to ‘The Slo’. This is a content number and one with lavish traits in the playing that boss it all. The demure of the rhythm is contently sounded out and gives the tune something to build around as a focal point. The abandonment in between the flitting fastens to it cleverly. They
8 have a potential number on their hands with ‘Kill Count’. How the synthesised and indie pop combo scores this one shows on the intro. Then it cuts out before this chic faux disco beat carries across which is immensely catchy. The home stretch begins with ‘Beating Your Heart’. The foreboding structure correctly leverages the harder aspects correctly against the intent of the delivery. A slick tracking is also fastened here which the vocals marry well to. This is one of those efforts where everything falls into place. Softer and motioned through accordingly is ‘Fast Motions’ before the rock side of things comes together. The exacted manner of the delivery is rather fashionable. In the way they lay it out and develop the arcs there is a lot brought to bear. This all comes to pass in a presentable way. The penultimate track is ‘Do It In The Dark’. Again it is very catchy and has a retro kick about it. Not as consistent as others and weak in some ways, but they do bring it through. It does lack bite somewhat, but what works for it grows on you. Things are brought to a conclusion with ‘Let Me Go’. This seems to take the direction to somewhere alternative. It most definitely stands out for the right reasons. The ambience builds and it controls the flow. You are caught off guard by it as a listener but intrigued in equal measures. - 38 -
Constellations ‘Glorious Year (Turn Of The Century)’ has an awning alongside a forsaken appeal that is accentuated by the rhythm. The delightful vocals creep through and the agreeable manner that it picks up as it travels also sees it right. The precise attributes are rather distinct here and show. An understanding is gloriously convened with ‘Constellations’. The drumming is felt and then a layered approach comes in over that on the intro. That garners before giving way and the rhythm drops down completely when the vocals come in. It is an end to end clean offering. The first collaboration the album is ‘Lady Vengeance’. This is an ambient offering and one that is granted a keen affluence that proves its worth. The strength of depth also works its magic in a contended way. The repose to ‘The Night Is Young’ is delightful. The minute details in the running fall kindly for it. A collective softness resides on it but the balletic qualities longingly come to pass and add heart in a resounding way. ‘Between Two Mirrors’ is another collaboration that is redeemed by the lucrative turning in the delivery. The enlightened flourishes wash over it and the lucid
10 charm of the song presents from this. A saunter is called out on ‘So It Goes’ which steadily gathers momentum. It is very choice. The mechanics in the rhythm sit well, while the eccentric card played with the vocals is one that adds the necessary lift needed. An oriental influence brings decorum for ‘Land Of the Midnight Sun’. This is channelled in an evident way that is proportioned in a consolidated way. There are detailed tidings hidden away in the arrangement that are scintillating and really find absolution. Again their innovation shows on ‘Elegy’. The lighter touches in the tune freely come around but it is a staged offering with marvellous gestures hanging in the toils that are indicative of a requited nature. The opus carried across marks it out and the string section adorns it deliberately. ‘The Observatory’ is this enigmatic tour-de-force that is a thrilling and captivating effort. The clever way it comes through classifies this with an underlying precision very much coming to pass in a beneficial way. The last track here is ‘Keep It A Memory’. This fits the scope of how the album has proceeded up to this point and it retains a distal showing. The gentle calling of the vocals courses through along with the enlightened texture which heightens the listening experience. A thrilling album from beginning to end. - 39 -
PEOPLE IN MY HEAD Down The Track Review by Valerie Scanlon
French four-piece rock’ n ‘roll band ‘People in My Head’ band comprise of Victor Méchanick (Vocals, Harmonica), Téo Löhrer (Guitar), Théo Champion (Bass, Backing Vocals), Pierre-Samuel Dahan (Drums) and describe themselves as a rock band. First impressions would lead you think that is correct until you hear them play and the sound like old-school bands like THE ROLLING STONES with bluesy jazz harmonies. They get down to things with ‘I’m On The Dole’. This is a pure rock’ n ’roll anthem, bearing a resemblance to Chuck Berry’s- Johnny B Goode, with that mix of guitar and upbeat keys. This is so catchy you will be singing along in a matter of second. Victor’s vocals have an air of Mick Jagger but with that soulful edge. There aren’t many of these artists at the moment and it is so refreshing to hear. ‘Maggies Bills’ is the second track it has a more rock edge than rock’n’roll, but it still has that style. This is a heavier track but mixed with those The Monkees sound harmonies which are generally done in falsetto. On ‘One Life Ago’ they sound like a band. This is similar to THE BEATLES still holding that rock’n’roll sound with some great gentle rock guitar riffs meeting light keys. ‘Sugardrop Blues’ sounds Just LIKE VAN MORRISON with that twinkling piano and fantastic percussion. It trades on that real classic sound and a barbershop quartet backing vocal sounds it all out as well.
8 ‘Little While Apart’ is the next track. Their great classic sound again mixes an organ alongside the guitar riff. ‘All Dry But Tears’ kicks off with an acoustic sound provided by guitar and harmonica. This song is a little bit slower and down tempo compared to the previous tracks, but it still has a sound of 60’s rock with a mix of tambourine, acoustic guitar and again those harmonies. The old school leanings show again with ‘Lady And The Wine’. The vocals are harsher and the traditional riff mixes extremely well with the light keyboard playing. Beginning with a country sound is ‘Hangman, Help Me!” but there is a blues/jazz sound displayed that the harmonica adds to greatly. The Honky Tonk style works wonders here. Another song with softer sound in the intro is ‘In The Cold’. The mix of percussion and twinkling piano procure a catchy tempo that builds considerably on the bridge. Denoting the authenticity of the bands from the 60’s and 70’s is ‘Nun For A Day’. Again the resolve is all noted from the mix of percussion and vocal harmonies. All these tracks have a great structure and rhythm. Every song sounds similar but there is always a slight change in either vocal ability or instrumentation. hese guys are a rock’ n ‘roll/rockabilly band. They quote THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES OTIS REDDING and STEVIE WONDER as influences and you can hear them within their music. - 40 -
I WEAR EXPERIMENT Crickets Empire III
The rich electro stirring of ‘Driving Alone At Night’ is one thing. But this is an exceptional tune that has so much more going for it. Richly retro and the satisfaction of the overall effort is such an absorbing one that you are immediately hooked. Only two tracks in and already you are hooked by the dark and stylish leaning of ‘Time’. The Dark Wave is strong here and it builds on the organic in a way that is keenly invested. The strong pull is given a calling and the alluring ambience sits upright in it and gives it a calling in doing so. The kitsch factor is highly appetising and is brought through in a promising way. The detail in the playing counts again on ‘My Dear First Maybe’. The smart and fashionable way this steps out caresses a side that is very stylish. It is managed in a way that is magnificently appreciated which brings a joyful and opportune prestige. The beat is a consistent one that locks around a depth of tone but one that is cleverly realised. Something more grandiose plays out on the intro to ‘More Amazing Stories’. It is an expressive effort and the solemn intent manifests in a way that is truly considerate. That allows it to be a more elaborate offering from them in the appreciated flight cast across. Another interesting feature is the manner it is expressed, be that in the arrangement or vocals, because it is all highly detailed. The final track is ‘Pelle’s Rabbit’. The lavish overtures develop the presence and make it feel darker alongside the heightened structure. Innovative as an instrumental in the way they push the envelope, that it closes the EP piques interest.
.......................................................................................................................... MIDNIGHT HORRORS Skies
The finite way that the guitar develops the rhythm in ‘Ice Cream’ is somewhat consolidated form how it skirts through the delivery. The hanging back of vocals has a disenfranchised cut to it and one that is pleasing to hear. The bounce in the tempo from the roll of the guitar is impressively handled. The second track is ‘Um’. The balance of the play on the intro is very keen and it comes across in a viable way. That gives the lift a fortified calling and the distinct way that they touch out the aspects on show is carried through in a way that is brightly considered. The third track on the EP closes it out and the free flowing showing works well for ‘Skies’. The angled pitch here is comfortable enough and they also allow a steady input to work into the delivery. The shared vocals is something that displays a degree of potential. The sparse calling is a bright showing and aids the performance by giving it a heightened sense of appreciation. Overall it is a three track EP that is hard to gauge fairly from. But there is a lot of potential shown here in these three tracks, and given their young age, they should improve and build on this one.
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EMERSON JAY THE EP
This is more than just a really good EP from the Pittsburgh band. The faux disco meets the retro synthesised beat of ‘Golden Lights’ with a degree of chic. Yet there is also an enriched appreciation guiding it through. All the lavish attributes come to pass favourably but they also denote a true sense of worth. The second tune ‘Young Svn’ is another brilliant effort. There is an innovation that has a totality about it. As this takes it over the selective drift in the tempo picks up pace. That gifts it a real sense of identity that is noted. The ample calling of ‘War’ processes the intro to provide a platform that sustains the delivery. When it picks up it retains composure in the calmer attributes deftly residing in the select showing. A classy touch is added in the 8-bit electro nuances. ‘Secret City’ is an effort that takes it away from the course it has been on. The rhythm circulates agreeably and is patiently pushed out. Combinations of looming play dazzle the aural experience while also allowing the expressive side to comfortably develop the tune as a whole. The considered way that ‘LZY Me’ operate brings them back to the retro chic. This brims with excellence from how it is put about. It has a statutory pedigree in the volume on show, but the rhythm is textured and circulates in a splendid manner that denotes the appreciation behind the arrangement. You notice how good they are on ‘Take Take Take’. As the closing track it steps out excellently. The charisma of the delivery is all of its own. The considered lift in the running is highly inviting and the richness at the electronic core animates the tempo in a way that doesn’t fall short in any way.
.......................................................................................................................... GDANSK EP1
This four track EP begins with the deeply coveted ‘Mariner’s Cross’. Somehow there is a deft display in the withdrawn permutations in the tracking that is quite appealing. The patient manner of the resolve is also worthy of mention, yet it is the expressive way that this is completed in the overall transition that steadies the ship. Things sharply pick up with ‘Chests Of Men’. Everything here stands out for the right reasons and the impressive hold in the rhythm sees them all come to pass. Rather ornate in the manner it is handled, there is a definition about it that is noted. The other feature that stands it good stead is the composure of the production values. ‘Babel’ is just something that grabs you in the right way. The determined fluidity of the delivery is a well-managed affair that provides considerably here. How it develops from this as a platform is well intended and affords the alternative showings a proven outlet. It is a joyous tune that closes out when it comes to considering ‘Live Away’. The broader feel to the rhythm is cleverly considered. This brings a sense of resolve cleanly through and the manner in how this collects finds something of true worth. The tempo also seems to find invigoration through how it is guided.
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A Life Unlike Yours The title track of the EP shows that the Liverpudlian is growing as an artist. The nuanced feel of the tempo is kept intact alongside the upbeat showing. Accrued alongside that is a viability in the delivery as a whole. It leans on the catchy side in a neat way which elevates the appreciation for it, but a closer listen reveals comfortable touches in the background pushing out that are another well played card. That is then followed up by ‘Yours Alone’. The soft and bespoke weight of the song is found on a lot of fronts. The shared vocals are held accountable and the tamer flow here is easy to get behind. On the musical side of things this is a feature that holds fast and intuitively in equal measures. When you hear ‘The Locker’ you come to realise how complete it is. The delectable way that the delivery comes to pass is a fine showing. This has a commensurate feel in the flow that his voice also mirrors. As a result it develops a select calling in the outlines and acquits itself in a fluid way that creates a sense of brevity that comes through cleanly. The fourth track here is ‘I Won’t Be There’. This has a more personal calling found in the opening line. This in turn sets it up and the ambition that is attempted comes to pass reliably. The piano and drifting tempo build it up. Well thought out from the offset this is a tune that embraces a lot and rewards you as a listener from how it immerses itself towards something conclusive. It is a big number but one that stays the course.
.......................................................................................................................... THE BEACHES Heights
‘Strange Love’ is stared down from the off. The flashes of brilliance meet with the edgy and raw cut that runs through the tempo. It is a killer track that is done justice by the band. Factored into the beat is a collaborated and heighten sense of appreciation that is pure bliss. After that we have ‘Little Pieces’. The opening embraces a synthesised sound but they also keep their own sense of identity with this one. It the proceeds to pick up in a steady way but it is such a strong showing from them here. Yet what is most impressive is the development in the progression from the opening towards what it becomes. This is high on the wow factor and indicative of an act going places surely. What they have going for them is concentrated into ‘Zsa Zsa’. This is an absolute knockout tune. It hangs back and in being casual it develops a sense of cool. This is not in any way complacent, while the sedate hold of the lyrics also gets under the delivery in a hardened way. The roll of the playing is also noted and the strength of detail to it is suits what the intent is all about. The combination of drumming and guitar traps the delivery while a scorching synth lights up on ‘The Dance’. Again they marry this with a synthesised organic and they can be proud of the effort here. This is an outstanding piece of work. Clearly a great deal of work has gone into the production but there is also a loaded sensation about it that is highly engaging. Last track ‘Hey I Love You’ is another energised effort. But they make some impeccable strides on an artistic level with this one. The maturity and progression of this EP compared with their self-titled release last year is cemented here.
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Review by Valerie Scanlon
Up for review is the four track EP ‘Picture Frame’ from female English singer/songwriter ‘Haze’, released in May. Her voice is gentle and delicate but yet soulful. The first track is ‘Reckless Heart’. This song gives you a great introduction into Haze and her style, her voice is delicate and pure but with a real soulful old school sound going on. It is based around a piano with choir like backing vocals bringing out the rasp in her voice on occasions. Second track ‘Together Or Apart’ is again piano based. On this one her sultry and soulful voice suits the lyrics. It opens up like a poem with the lyrics rhymed off in that fashion. The delicate and softer aspects match her voice but there is a new sound on show, almost a muffled kick-drum, which works well. Title Track ‘Picture Frame’ has an old school French style sound, with cello and clarinet featuring. This is a real ditty and the vocals are fantastic. The final track ‘Let The Music Play On’ runs at three minutes, even though it is three verses with no chorus. There is a pause between each line which spreads the song out, with a gospel choir sound featuring again. It has a hushed sound that suits the soft and pure focus of her vocals. This girl’s lyrical and vocal ability is brilliant. She has a different sound which I think could really work on radio and in mainstream. She has an old school sound overall which is something there isn’t much of now.
.......................................................................................................................... LITTLE GHOST Queen Bee
Review by Jamie Kelly
The first track on this is called ‘Hornets’. This is a great opener, with lots of energy and catchy vocals. I thought this made for a great tine with the repetition in the chorus giving it a true hook that gets stuck in your head. The next tune is called ‘Blackpool twice’. This starts out with a nice little guitar intro, some really nice chords, they give the song a mystical feel. Again I found that the vocals were really catchy because they give the band a very distinct sound. There is an interesting flow about ‘Apart’ that is helped by how essential the drum beat comes to procuring what is unique in the sound. This one gives off a strong sense of completion, with all the various instruments really complementing each other. The vocal melody is again very catchy, which is a trait that seems to become common throughout. And the harmonica outro is excellent. Next up is the title track of the album ‘Queen Bee’. Lyrically strong, the title is worked into the chorus in a well-deserved. This brings out the dynamics of the composure and structure. Fifth number is ‘Penguin’ which has a lot of meaning in it. The words “if only you could be more penguin” are uttered in a way that is fantastic. The use of piano at the start gives it the bit of emotion needed. This kicks into full flow with some really superb use of a synthesiser. ‘Daydreams’ has a lot more energy than the previous offering. It starts off slowly with a nice vocal intro which gives it an undoubtedly dreamy vibe that is quite appropriate given the title. It finishes on a powerful vibe. The vocal performance on this track is top notch and gives it so much feeling. The closing effort is called ‘Dark streets’. This is quite dreamy and atmospheric, but in a low key way. However I think ending with a bit more energy would have given the album as a whole a more rounded feel but it is still a great listen anyway.
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MANICAN PARTY The District
There is splendour about the opening track ‘Achilles Hell’. The vocals cleanly convey in the delivery and attribute as much to the effectiveness. How this is laid out defines them. With the urgency there is also a noted flow to it that resides intuitively. The eccentric feel of ‘Warpaint’ is quite deft. Added to that is the enigmatic calling in the lyrics. They also enhance it in a steady way while also patiently allowing it to find release. This is a catchy effort that is blessed by how the style meets with the substance. It is absolutely top drawer and the brilliance to it stands tall. In how ‘Colorful’ is managed from the intro you sense it is going to be a big deal. It doesn’t disappoint. Big in scope and ambition, what it aims for is achieved and bodes well before it does engage in those moments. But when it does there is a distinct calling about it as it takes flight. The souped up jazz attributes on ‘Fools Gold’ is an unexpected surprise. The manner to it blends together with the pop showing but it is an effort that is full of volume. The integrity of it steers it through. It is a motivated effort but it is nothing short of excellent from start to finish.
.......................................................................................................................... GLASS OAKS Glass Oaks
The blues is impeccably appreciated on ‘Middle Of It’ and it is considered in the guitar riffs. Also factored in to the mix is a choice calling in the open flow of the vocals. The earnest attributes move through it in a way that feels right and result in it being the highly appreciative effort it comes to be. ‘Spirit Man’ follows and this lies on the withdrawn side of Americana Gospel in a responsive way. Sewn into the fabric are deft touches in the vocals. Spirited through but it then seems to procure something that is almost like a second movement in the later progression. That reposes wonderfully and weighs in with a considerate face value going for it in doing so. They lean on a rock calling with ‘Confusion’. The competence of the beat firmly keeps this one on track. Overall it is a short and sweet number but one that bristles with a large amount of class in the brash feel of the tone. Then we have ‘One Word’. The context of the lyrics weighs in heavily allowing the virtue of the song hold fast and you are sold on it from the desirable approach adopted. The resolved cut here helps and it all comes over in a tidy way that lands right. ‘Pray’ is the brilliant track that concludes the EP. The intro is called out by the guitar riffs and it then progresses into a reflective tune that takes flight in a magnificent way. It is counterbalanced by the lay vocals and the detailed rhythm that engages the playing.
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WILDFLOWERS Let It Go
With ‘Let It Go’ it is an obvious choice for a lead song. Everything falls into place and this gives it drive. But there is also strength in the showing of the lyrics. Added to the mix is the detailed and attentive flow of the rhythm that cleanly meets with the arrangement. All the elements add up for it and it is a brilliant offering from beginning to end. The roll of the vocals rises in a taut way on ‘Nobody Loves My Baby’. It is an effort with a confidence in the air from how it plays out. The tidings in the more upbeat tempo leave their mark and they sink their teeth into the delivery with the sense of authority shown as they do so. The catchy hooks and equally impressive chorus sell you on this one. Then we come to ‘Doubt’. The shepherded manner of the song allows it to stay true to form. The big showing to it is not beyond their ability. Earlier efforts from them have shown promise and with this one you can see that potential realised. ‘Tell Them I’m Your Woman’ is the last track on the EP. The way it is lead in is a very impressive showing. Hanging back is the light touch in the rhythm and the angst in the vocals develops a stray drawl that is fitting. A mark of intent is drawn here and when the play picks up the harder side of it stands up to be counted. The strength of the tune is expertly tracked and it grants a warranted determination upon in when it lifts off. They knock it out of the park when it gets going because of how unbridled it becomes when it is unleashed, yet it is honed and that is where the real beauty of it is to be found.
.......................................................................................................................... THE PEACH KINGS Mojo Thunder
The lush draw of the alluring vocals on ‘Mojo Thunder’ comes over easy. The select and sultry flow of the rhythm is another dark attribute that is incredibly seductive. The strides in play are feverishly caressed to create this sway that immediately grabs you in a most impressive way. The derivative takes on a slightly funkier sensibility with ‘Hold On’. There is a comparison with New York’s CLASS ACTRESS here because of how cool and fashionable it comes across. On its own merits the exact way that they keep it together is a telling feature. The telling way it is handled is controlled to allow it moves through with a true sense of expression. That is the key to how it all comes together. That dangerous and sexy side that they have impulsively comes to pass on ‘Say What’. The placid calling in the rhythm allows it drop down superbly. In the way they bring the pieces together is savoured on each turn. The seduction in the vocals pours out with pride. The motion of the playing lights it all up from all corners. This is very much a track you hear and instantly see that it is the real deal. They bring it all through again with a big showing on ‘Be Around’. Big on presence it also has the muscle to back it up from the playing, but affords it a sense of cool from the calling that moves it through. The reliability that they have meets with innovation and the results are undeniable. A remix of ‘Mojo Thunder’ by KENT ROCKAFELLER closes it out and it actually feels like an entirely new track. Distinct but also retaining that air of charm in how the tempo is fastened here sees the class apparent.
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STARS IN COMA Gatefold Ghosts Review by Jamie Kelly
This EP from STARS IN COMA gets it all going with the title track ‘Gatefold Ghosts’. The tune kicks off with some synth. This is then followed by the percussion and a nifty melody before the vocals come in to set the tone. I really liked the way it broke down in the middle, which gave a lot of depth and an overall sense of completion. Coming next is called ‘Hey Curacao’. This starts more intensely. It takes a little while to get going, but it has an omnipotent feel to it. It always feels like it’s about to burst into something and never seems to, which makes it very progressive. Vocally is strong and the melody throughout is catchy. The last song on this short is called ‘Clouds And Cliffs’. This opens up with a nice little bass line that creates a nice flow for the rest to build on. I thought that the melody on the keys in this really gave it a great feel and made it really enjoyable to listen to. There is a lot of different melody throughout. The percussive section is really effective as well just before the solo on the wind instrument toward the end; which was superb. This what gave the song a whole other element to enjoy.
.......................................................................................................................... THE KRAV MAGA
Higher Than The Clouds Review by Jamie Kelly
The first track on this album is called ‘Snow’. The tune starts off with a short guitar intro that the rest of the band come in on to bring it up a notch. The organ gives a nice unique sound. I thought the drum work here was exceptionally good as it controls the energy really well. The second track is entitled ‘Lara’. This opens up with a full intro that has a really sweet melody on the lead guitar. There is quite a distinct flow to this and the lead guitar work throughout is really impressive. It gives off some quality vibes. The outro is quite atmospheric and complements finely. Up next is ‘Restart’. This starts off a little heavier, again with a quality riff from the lead guitarist. The guitar work on this track was again very impressive. The vocal melody towards the end really catches up with it all. The next track entitled ‘Interstellar Interlude’ comes in with a psychedelic guitar riff that creates a relaxed atmosphere. The use of a phaser/flanger on the guitar really suits the vibe. Having this short instrumental tune in the middle of the album was very effective. The fifth number is called ‘Cosmic’ and really interesting. The vocal melody in the verse follows the rhythm of the guitar in a highly effective way. The cowbell really adds an appealing dimension to the sound. The build up to the instrumental section in the middle was fantastic, and that arrangement itself works really well. The bass solo at the end sewed up the whole song into a fantastic tune. The next ‘Mother Earth, Father Sun’ is the last on this album. It starts out very dreamy, trippy, if you will which generates some great psychedelic vibes. The guitar work in this has a quality that suits it well. Overall I thought this was a superb EP that is very well pieced together to give a good overall, distinctive sound.
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International Artists TARA Beast From the steady and concise way it flows to the elegance touched on with the vocals, there is a lot to like here. The marked pedigree is fixed in all aspects of the delivery and tidies away in the tracking. But it also has a sense of urgency in the tempo that sees it right as the tempo drops down to embrace a broadened showing that is cleverly configured here.
8th GRADER Tiger
The chic demeanour of the tempo holds invitingly and creates a distinct allure around the delivery as a whole. This is affirmative and has a calculated feel to it all. The lingering qualities marry from rhythm and vocals in a way that captures an essence that has a sense of retro about it but also one that enhances the delivery and holds steady as everything comes across here.
This is one of those tunes that you hear that really impresses you. The arrangement as a whole seems to procure a sense of majesty from the playing arcs. The break down in the vocals is something that grants it a fortunate showing and one that is steered through with a telling feel. Added to that is a stoic ambience in the rhythm that cuts to the task at hand in a shapely way, you are then aware of how good it all is because it personifies excellence all the way through.
MARIGOLD The Last Days Of Disco
This is an absolutely amazing tune. There is a magnificence that hooks you with the intro that is developed further with a deserved comparison with ELO at their best. The catchy derivative moves across with a casual ease that is highly imaginative and the gains in the playing stir it impeccably. The beat is felt and the nu-disco styling is excellent from start to finish here.
CRASH ISLAND Howl (Come On) This is a tune that hits the ground running with the high octane feel of the delivery enhanced furthermore by how it steps out. The tantalising way it gains ground is expertly applied. Catchy hooks in the tempo weave through and work their magic in a decisive way which impeccably brings it all together. In the elated vocals there is a further appreciation for it all that resides in a way that denotes an emphasis on bringing some depth to the fluid way it all rolls out.
THE BALCONY STARS Crystal Bones
The signature hard whip of the guitar plays in to the opening here with real aplomb. Then it all lights up with the abject feel of the vocals. Somewhat shoegazer, but also blessed with a real shake that gets underneath the delivery in a commanding way. It has a tour-de-force feel about it but also a casual demeanour that make for a good contrast in style. The narrative of the delivery gets it going but in how it all holds together you pick up on the anomic derivative that is key to making it work.
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LUKE CUSATO Nothing To Lose Here is a song that is cleverly developed. From the intricate piano in the arrangement his vocals find a platform to build upon. This in turn gives it a strong expressive showing that sits comfortably. A degree of angst in the lyrical content helps to accommodate this while the earnest showing brings the progression through in a stabilised way alongside the determined showing.
JAKARTA CRIERS Long Way Round
The fortitude felt in the calling of the guitar on the intro then gives way to a more reserved calling in the play that allows the gradual patience on show lead the delivery toward something conclusive. Gracefully pieced together from there it neatly connects as it takes flight. This allows them achieve what they aim for and is handled in a neat way that stays the course with the robust tumble in the running orchestrating a great deal without feeling out of place.
LETHAL DIALECT Headstrong
Also featured on this track is JACKNIFEJ (feat. Jess Kav) and it has a lot going for it. What is covered in the context is relative and deservedly invested in a way that keeps the track in focus. The reflective discourse is handled positively while also recounting the narrative in a way that steadies the overall flow. With the passive feel of the backing vocals the track is framed and there is a strong showing to it all that converses along with the stillness and barren narrative.
COLD COMFORT When Love Grew Wild
From the opening line there is a confidence to this that rises highly. The select feel in the metaphors commandeer fashionably in the delivery as a whole and imbue it with a degree of certainty that is considerably maintained. What is also a smart showing here is the fluid feel of the tempo. How it runs alongside the arrangement as a whole gives it a thorough showing that becomes more distinguished as it all comes together here.
1912 Timing Will Keep Us Apart Forever The synthesised heart of the song enhances the stylish aspects as it all clicks into gear. From the off it is managed invitingly, but it is the high retro appeal that picks up as it takes flight that really gets underneath the delivery. The roboticised vocals are another deft and attentive attribute that collect in the resolute showing that maintains the consistency of the ebb and flow in a tidy way.
CATHDERALS Want My Love
In the opening there is a marked distinction noted from the resolve brought through that finely complements the passive stirring and gives the delivery weight. The lingering quality of the track is admirable. The blend of R&B with electronica is highly innovative and it pushes through the right attributes, while at the same giving the pace of the tempo something to work around.
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This is the July 2014 4x4. It is an editor's pick of four videos by four artists selected from four of our music networks. At U&I we work with 94 co-ops across 49 countries and the music network that the recommendation comes from is indicated in brackets.
THE MISPERS "Dark Bits" (London)
JERICHO "Trip The Light Fantastic" (Ireland)
SHY NATURE "She Comes She Goes" (London)
THE WICKED WHISPERS "Chronological Astronaut" (Liverpool)
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Published on Jul 5, 2014
The July 2014 issue of Unsigned & Independent features an interview with Vann Music. We also talked with Crow Black Chicken to discuss Texa...