Tuesday, 15 August 2017


Matt Emery – Empire 
Matt Emery - Empire

Release Date: Out Now

I’m getting increasingly encouraged and inspired by the number of composers coming my way as opposed to singer-songwriters and Matt Emery is the latest to soothe my troubled soul with his mastery of the piano. The latest track, ‘Empire’, is built around a relatively simple and repetitive piano riff that moves with the slow and meaningful solemnity of a funeral march until the strings join in to make this swell in to something so utterly cleansing and beautiful that I don’t mind admitting it brought a tear to my eye on first listen. I can be a morbid and music obsessed beast at the best of times so I often consider my own funeral playlist and this tune has just put itself in strong contention which is meant as a very high complement. I urge you to clear your mind and put aside 4 minutes to listen to this, really listen to it’s simple beauty and ascending mood – do this without thinking of a lost love one or your own mortality and you’re doing well. Do it without breathing a little heavier or wiping the moistness from your eye and you’re emotionally stunted.  Don’t listen to it at sunrise though, your heart might just burst and I won’t be held responsible.


Balako – Nervous Inn (Greco Roman) 
Balako - Nervous Inn

Release Date: Out Now

OK, these guys are fast becoming my favourite Brazilians. Possibly of all time. DJ/Producer duo Balako can do sexy things with a bassline and it makes me want to dance in clothes made entirely of manmade fabrics in garish colours, possibly in a jauntily angled hat as well. Latest single, ‘Nervous Inn’, uses that rolling, super-funky bass line to underpin the song so that the percussion can roam around, jazz-style, and the keys can be liberally sprinkled like magic dust at a Studio 54 party in the heat of summer. The trumpets slide in as smooth as Huggy Bear on a night out and, as Ron Burgundy would say, “this here is baby making music”. Sure, you could fit in some rasping, soulful vocals but you don’t need to, just lie back with a honey on each arm and let that chest hair break free. Yeeeeaaaaaahhh……


Philip Whitehead – I’m Gone 
Philip Whitehead - I'm Gone

Release Date: 25th August 2017

Philip Whitehead lives in Hammersmith which is not a trendy hub of music at the moment but has a rich musical heritage and not just because I used to shop in the Tesco there and partake of the odd curry. Throughout the years, many a band has made music in and around Hammersmith and there’s a timeless quality to Whitehead’s new single ‘I’m Gone’ that feels as though it has been lurking under the flyover just observing and soaking influences up the passing troubadours over the years. The song opens with near-whispered late night vocals and the gently plucked guitar strings of Cream era Clapton while the structure of the song follows a more Elliot Smith pattern that builds beautifully. The guitars layer up slowly but surely before the drums give up on their stuttering subtlety to find a loose groove that shifts the song up a gear. By the time the chorus properly rips in and Whitehead opens up his lungs you know you’re listening to a proper, died in the wool rock tune that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Jeff Buckley album, such is the soaring and affirming climax in a crescendo of guitars and cymbal crashes. Sumptuous doesn’t even cover half of it.

Live Dates:

23rd August – The Monarch, Chalk Farm
6th September – The Old Queens Head, Islington


Emma Miller – Leaving 
Emma Miller - Leaving

Release Date: Out Now

There is real heart to this song, the latest release from London based Emma Miller. In a very literal sense, ‘Leaving’ has a pulsing heartbeat coursing through it like words inked through a stick of arock and that makes it feel incredibly personal and close. Beyond that, though, there is the beautifully soulful vocal of Emma Miller accompanied by the Morcheeba meets Goldfrapp organic dance groove that lurches and lunges with unexpected elegance and the weight of some huge sadness laying heavy on the aforementioned heart. Miller sings “Wrongs I’ll never right, all the moments I denied” and you can hear the regret dripping from every word which gives this the kind of haunting tone that Portishead used to monopolise. Well, not any more.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


Gabrielle Aplin – Waking Up Slow 
Gabrielle Aplin - Waking Up Slow

Release Date: Out Now

“Heaven help me, my mind changes like the wind” are the opening lyrics to this latest release from bright hope Gabrielle Aplin, new single ‘Waking Up Slow’. Lyrically, there are some nice touches to this song and there’s an underlying bass sequence which suggests something close to an edge, lurking in the shadows. However, we’re just a millennial whoop away from this being a Taylor Swift or Carly-Rae Jepson tune and that kinda sucks all the uniqueness out of this. Sure, it’s breathy and uplifting in a reliable way that KFC will always fill you up but never really leave you satisfied. I had hoped for more, I have to be honest, and I’m sad that this track didn’t deliver.

Live Date:

14th September – Sonia, Massachusetts
15th September – Velvet Underground, Toronto
16th September – The Foundry, Philadelphia
17th September – Bowery Ballroom, New York
20th September – U Street Music Hall, Washington
22nd September – Bottom Lounge, Chicago
23rd September – Amsterdam, Minneapolis
24th September – Record City, Kansas City
26th September – Larimer Lounge, Denver
28th September – Kilby Lounge, Salt Lake City
30th September – Chop Suey, Seattle
1st October – Holocene, Portland
3rd October – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
4th October – Music Box, San Diego
6th October – Troubador, West Hollywood
19th October – Oran Mor, Glasgow
20th October – O2 Academy, Birmingham
22nd October – The Junction, Cambridge
23rd October – Concorde 2, Brighton
24th October – Trinity, Bristol

26th October – The Venue, London


Noah Gundersen – Bad Desire (Cooking Vinyl) 
Noah Gundersen - Bad Desire

Release Date: Out Now

Every now and again there are those artists that everyone around you is talking about but you just haven’t hooked in to yet. Now, it’s not through a lack of interest but just through not crossing paths with the music which, you know, just happens sometimes. Noah Gundersen is one such musician that a number of, shall we say, ‘acquaintances’ have been banging on about for some time and, luckily, his new single ‘Bad Desire’ just landed in my lap. The Seattle artist is, undoubtedly, a supreme talent but one that seeps in to your consciousness rather than one that screams for your attention. The keys that open this particular tune are so soft that you wouldn’t be surprised to discover the keys had been covered in velvet before committing anything to tape. Gundersen’s voice is dusky and smooth with just enough teeth-clenched growl when you need it to urge those drums on. This is the kind of song that would make grown, testosterone fuelled men cry at the thought of their dead partner/mother/grandmother/cat on a wet day when they could just do with a hug and a bit of looking after. Simply beautiful stuff, I’m converted.

Live Dates:

11th September – Borderline, London
12th September – Night & Day, Manchester
14th September – Auster Club, Berlin
15th September – Bitterzoet, Amsterdam
5th October – The Olympic, Boise
6th October – The State Room, Salt Lake City
7th October – Armory, Fort Collins
8th October – Bluebird Theater, Denver
10th October – Fine Line Music Café, Minneapolis
12th October – High Noon Saloon, Madison
13th October – The Back Room Café, Minneapolis
14th October – The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
15th October – The Opera House, Toronto
17th October – The Belmont, Montreal
18th October – The Sinclair, Cambridge
20th October – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
21st October – Wonder Bar, Asbury
22nd October – World Café Live, Philadelphia
24th October – 9:30 Club, Washington
25th October – Visulite Theater, Charlotte
26th October – Cannery Callroom, Nashville
27th October – Revelry Room, Chattanooga
28th October – Terminal West, Atalanta
29th October – The Grey Eagle, Asheville
31st October – Saturn, Birmingham
2nd November – The Heights Theater, Houston
3rd November – The Kesler Theater, Dallas
4th November – Barracuda, Austin
6th November – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix
8th November – El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles
9th November – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
10th November – Hi-Fi Music Hall, Eugene
11th November – Wonder Ballroom, Portland
12th November – Imperial, Vancouver

17th November – Neptune Theatre, Seattle


James Davidson – Shape of My Soul 
James Davidson - Shape Of My Soul

Release Date: Out Now

The very beginning of this single from James Davidson sounds like it might veer off in a slightly esoteric and obscure angle. However, before long ‘Shape of My Soul’ settles in to a gentle, country tinged slice of singer-songwriter standard fare. Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad song, there are traces of Del Amitri and Deacon Blue in there that are more than a little pleasing. The slide guitar notes are smooth and comforting, like the first sip of whiskey after a long day and Davidson’s voice has a soft, inviting tone. No, the only problem I have with this tune is that it doesn’t give me that tingle moment when the chorus drops or the guitar kicks in. A solid start though, there’s no arguing with that.