Monday, 29 April 2013

SOUVENIR STAND - EP REVIEW


Souvenir Stand - Days (Beautiful Strange) 
Souvenir Stand - Days

Stephanie Cupo is a New Jersey native with a penchant for the 60s and an aversion to looking directly at cameras. She is also the sole driving force behind the sublime Souvenir Stand, the latest offering from the absurdly talented Beautiful Strange label. Souvenir Stand's latest offering is a four track EP limited to 100 copies on an orange cassette tape, natch. From the opening lazy bass notes and subsequent perky guitar flicks of 'Wherever You Go', you know that Cupo is all about the authentic and that sunny 60s vibe just floats effortlessly through my speakers. 'All I Want To Know' could have been lifted straight from the Phil Spector stable and is adorable with its delightful mix of puppydog-eyed sadness and childlike melodies played out on the xylophone and Beach Boys-esque organs. Indeed, throw in the thundering timpani drum percussion and a fade out ending and, well, I'm pretty much hooked on this girl already. Cupo is part Dusty, part Sandie and is cute as a button but would be able to hold her own in a fight - she's a Jersey girl after all.

What with this coming out on cassette tape and all, I'm assuming that track three, 'Days I've Spent With You', is the start of side 2 and what a huge tune to start with. Motown pianos with punctuating tambourines underpin Cupo's sultry voice as she sings of the seasons passing in a song that, for some reason, reminds me of Michelle Pfeiffer singing 'A Girl For All Seasons' in Grease 2 - not necessarily a bad thing. The EP finishes up with 'We Will Have Our Day', perhaps the darkest song in this collection, suggesting that Souvenir Stand have a future as a songwriting operation with the breathy, Beatlesy organs adding a wistful tone to the layers of honky-tonk piano before the song ends up like a closing number from Annie or a really sad episode of Sesame Street. I'm genuinely dumfounded by this collection as the music, references and sentiment are so pure that it seems impossible to imagine that someone who has grown up in the modern era could have created it. The childlike qualities juxtaposed with the maturity of the songwriting make this an enthralling listen that, I fear, may go down as one of those underground hits that nobody ever hears about. Still, from New Jersey to Devon via London is not bad for reaching out to the world and that would've taken weeks and a year's wages in the 60s so I guess the modern world isn't all bad, eh?

More information:

HOOK AND THE TWIN - SINGLE REVIEW

Hook and the Twin - That Was A Day

Hook and the Twin - That Was A Day (Free Download)

During my 10 year stretch in London I met and befriended a number of people who had been born outside the UK but had come here to follow dreams, fall in love or just to live a life they couldn't live elsewhere. I always felt that these people, if they hung around long enough, seemed to become more English than I was in that they knew more about real ales, could play cricket and had more early Bowie records than I did. Hook and the Twin kinda remind me of these people in that, in my head, their music couldn't sound more continental but this song has an undeniably English feel to it. Drummer Marcus Efstratiou and Everything-else-ist Tom Havelock, for they are Hook and the Twin, have created a dreamy, electro-acoustic pop tune that is a modern day version of the Beatles' 'A Day In The Life' which is hard to resist - not that you should try. 'That Was A Day' is the bastard child of some kind of inter-genre love in between Kraftwerk, the Beach Boys, LCD Soundsystem, Temposhark and Ben's Symphonic Orchestra and you can tell it's parents had fun making it. Insistent beats, dreamy vocals and twinkly, sprinkly synths make for a perfect summery record that should soundtrack many a morning-after-the-night-before realisations and clean up operations at house parties around the UK this summer. There is an album to follow in June and, for once, here is a band that seem to have got their timing just right - providing summer decides to turn up that is...

More information & Free Download:


Live Dates:
14th June - Old Blue Last, London

ATHLETES IN PARIS - ALBUM REVIEW

Athletes In Paris - Head.Bowl.Custard.

Athletes In Paris - Head. Bowl. Custard (The Animal Farm Label)

Release Date: 1st May

When I reviewed the single 'Borrowed Time' by these chaps a while back I thought that would probably be that, as they say. It was a jaunty, well constructed indie-pop song that had a lot going for it but the cheeky North Easterners didn't do anything to suggest that they had a whole album in them. So when their album, 'Head. Bowl. Custard.' landed in my inbox I honestly didn't know what to expect - apart from the fact that it's pretty much one of the worst album titles I've ever come across. What I'm pleased to report is that Athletes In Paris have managed to create the improbable sound of Maximo Park mixed with Wham! There is an impossible amount of sunshine and fun in this music for a band that spends the majority of its time in the grey North East and they should be applauded for that if nothing else. Songs like 'Suzie' and 'Heartbeat' are infectiously upbeat and 'Borrowed Time' sounds as good as ever (possibly even better) in the context of the album. Handclaps aplenty, jangly guitars all over the shop, pumping dance beats and harmonies dripping in an irresistibly regional accent (I'm a sucker for singers with accents) make this a guilty pleasure that I feel guilty for calling a guilty pleasure (do you follow?).

On '24/7 Job' the lads flex their creative muscles and show off their abilities to play with rhythms, toy with harmonies and grapple with more meaty lyrical content. 'All Systems Go' has a clockwork-like rhythm that is hard to resist and 'Echoes Louder Than Voices' shows the band exploring their heavier side - albeit in a slightly Savage Garden kinda way. Let's face it, this is uplifting and shameless pop with indie references but it is expertly crafted and is a million miles better than just about anything else calling itself pop these days. For one thing, every song is original, written by the performers, features no samples and I'd bet you any money that Will.I.Am. hasn't even heard of Athletes In Paris (his loss, not theirs....or ours for that matter). I'm a bit concerned that on 'No Bridge, No Crossing Allowed' there seems to be a drunk saxophonist just dicking around in the background trying to drag the band back in to the 90s, but if Muse can get away with 'Panic Station' then I'll forgive these guys one wig-out per album. Another clue that this is a pop album is that it comes in comfortably under the half hour mark and, as it finishes with the mellowed out 'Just Decline', you get the strong feeling that with a couple of huge singles these guys could be entertaining sun drenched crowds at various summer festivals for some time to come. The other option is that they could start churning out hits for the likes of Olly Murs and Cheryl Cole in their sleep but I think that would be a waste of their talents and would only keep Olly from more pressing matters - like concentrating on the best angle to dip your head to in order to look up and be cute to maximum effect. Athletes In Paris then; poppy, sunny, fun, talented and much, much more than just a bunch of hat racks.

More information:

BRIGHTLIGHT CITY - SINGLE REVIEW


Brightlight City - Start At The End 
Brightlight City - Start At The End

Release Date: 13th May

What do you get when you mix Hard-Fi, Vampire Weekend and Fall Out Boy? Surrey quintet Brightlight City is what you get, and not in a good way. This is classic example of having most of the right ingredients but not having a clue how to put them together to create a dish that's fit for consumption. Sure, the guitars are tight and there is a big, shouty bridge that is obviously designed to get the crowd singing along but everything just needs a bit more effort. The vocals sound too high in the mix, the bass is almost non-existent and the pace of the song just sounds like the moment when you realised that your walkman batteries are starting to run down - the song sounds OK but you always get to the chorus a fraction of a second before the band do.  According to the band's facebook page, they are all involved in projects like ghost hunting and running a radio station - I would suggest that they take some fingers out of those other pies and get back in to the studio to get this sound refined because at the moment it feels rushed, unloved and unfinished. Which is a shame because the cover art for this single is ace. 

More information:


Live dates:

Thursday 2nd May – The New Cross Inn, New Cross
Friday 10th May – Jack Rabbits , Bognor Regis
Saturday 11th May – Scream Lounge, Croydon
Friday 17th May – SINGLE LAUNCH The Workshop, Shoreditch, London
Saturday 18th May – Redfest Comp @ Hobgoblin, Staines
Tuesday 21st May – No Quarter @ NottingHill Arts Club, London
Wednesday 12th June – The Islington, London
Saturday 22nd June – Club Go Go Disco, Bullet Bar, Camden
Saturday 13th July – Rock in the Park, Wantage

BEAT THE POET - SINGLE REVIEW


Beat The Poet - Kerb Crawling Love (The Animal Farm Label) 
Beat The Poet - Kerb Crawling Love

Release Date: 27th May

BOOM! UGH! SMASH! THUD! That's the sound of Beat The Poet hitting you around the head with their leather clad, testosterone fuelled rock and it feels gooooood. 'Kerb Crawling Love' is the debut single from this hard living trio and it's an absolute belter of a tune about, well, picking up hookers. The drums are relentless, the grinding bass is seductive and the guitar winds around you like the devil leading you in to temptation and delivering you straight to evil. Queens of the Stone Age, Buckcherry, the last couple of Arctic Monkeys albums and even a bit of At The Drive-In all swirls around in this hedonistic soup of rock'n'roll debauchery. Chuck in a huge chorus, just the right balance of arrogance and talent and it's obvious that these guys are on to a good thing. Well worth a listen if you like your music ballsy, heavy and sounding great in your car stereo!

More information: www.facebook.com/beatthepoet

Live Dates:

8th May - Rattlesnake, London
17th May - The Fishbowl, Brighton (Alternative Escape @ The Great Escape)

Saturday, 27 April 2013

KOREA ROCKS - TOUR PREVIEW INTERVIEWS {PART TWO}


Interviews with Gate Flowers and Goonam
As promised, it's time to catch up with the final two bands from the Korea Rocks tour which kicked off on Wednesday of this week. 

Guitarist Seungshik Yeom of Gate Flowers is in an excitable mood, "This is our first international tour so
Gate Flowers - Black, white and moody
we're really excited. The UK has a rich musical history so we're really happy to be able to play there. We're all fans of British groups like Queen, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Cream. It's not just British bands though, we have a diverse range of influences such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Jaco Pastorius, Michael Jackson, Medeski Martin and Wood". Impressive influences indeed and that shows through in their music which fuses tight, funky bass lines, sharp drumming and understated riffs to create an accessible rock sound for their singer to wail, Vedder-like, all over. Touring internationally is not something every band manages in their lifetime so now that Gate Flowers have achieved this ambition, I wanted to know what else they had in their sights, "Most Korean bands have a really small fanbase, which makes it hard to tour internationally. Hopefully tours like this will help change that. We’d like to play at Royal Albert Hall. We’ve watched videos of live performances by bands like The Who and Cream there. We’d like to enjoy the atmosphere of a venue
like that that has such an amazing rock‘n’roll history". Well, you know they say, aim for the moon and even if you miss you'll be among the stars - high ambitions indeed but then why not? Not enough bands think big these days so it's nice to hear a group of musicians not feeling constrained by money, society or, in their case, politics, "Things [the situation in North Korea] are more complicated than what people are seeing from the outside, so it's not something we can easily answer". 

Goonam - not actually conjoined
The final band on the bill for this tour are simply known as Goonam (or more complicatedly known as Goonamguayeoridingstella) which is probably something profound in Korean but to my ignorant eye looks like the name of an obscure Welsh town. Ung Joh, guitarist with the band, is on answering duties for this one and, he has a strange ambition for the band on this tour, "We’re excited to spend two weeks learning about the UK’s music scene and meeting local people. We really love parks and we’re hoping to spend some time visiting a few parks there as well. We also like David Bowie and the Stone Roses". Interesting, parks, Bowie and the Roses - take note British Tourist Board, this is what visitors to our country want. Now, I would love to visit South Korea but funds dictate that this is never likely to happen so that next best thing is having some top quality South Korean bands visit this country instead. It's got to be pretty hard for these guys though, what with the political situation in the other half of their country and the thousands of miles (never mind thousands of Won) it would take to play to audiences around the world, "We need jobs and we like making music, so a band seemed like a good idea! Most Korean bands are indie acts, so trying to find ways to fund overseas tours can be very challenging. There have been problems between North Korea and South Korea for a long time now. It’s not a new problem". Goonam are probably the odd ones out on this tour, stylistically speaking and Ung Joh is quick to agree, "I think our sound is very unique. I like to describe it as being like the flow of a river. Other people have described it as soulful psychedelic dance music". Although those aren't necessarily the words I would have jumped straight to, I have to say I think those 'other people' have pretty much hit the nail on the head. Combining blissed out electronics, funky guitars and loose rhythms, Goonam create a sound perfect for cruising around with the windows open and a big old pair of shades on.

So, that's your lot. Essentially, we have learned that South Korean bands have talent, great influences, huge ambition and a penchant for hanging around in British parks. Furthermore, if the musical elite of South Korea are to be believed, we have nothing to worry about from our mysterious cousins in North Korea. Catch the tour if you can and if you work for the Royal Albert Hall, then drop me a line and I'll hook you up.

Korea Rocks dates:

April 28 - London @ Barfly
May 1 - Manchester @ Night & Day Café
May 3 - Liverpool @ Studio 2 (Liverpool Sound City)
May 4 - Liverpool @ Kazimier Gardens (Liverpool Sound City)

More information:

Korea Rocks - https://www.facebook.com/KoreaRocks

Gate Flowers - https://www.facebook.com/bandgf

Goonam - https://www.facebook.com/goonamgua



Tuesday, 23 April 2013

THE B OF THE BANG - ALBUM REVIEW

The B Of The Bang - Tremors & Nosebleeds:
The Melodies of a Malady

The B of the Bang - Tremors & Nosebleeds: The Melodies of a Malady (Pie & Vinyl Records)

Release Date: 22nd April 2013

I had intended to get this review up online before it was released on Monday but, I confess, I became a little distracted. You see, Tremors & Nosebleeds: The Melodies of a Malady is not only a fantastically named album it is also an absolute masterpiece that demands your attention. This isn't just another album by a group of indie-kids with an obvious list of influences and a few good tunes padded out with throwaway tracks. What we have here is a genuinely exciting, enthralling and exhilarating collection of songs, each one of which would not be out of place on an album by far more established and critically acclaimed artists. What I hope to do here is not only convey the beauty of this record but also prepare you for falling in love with this record, because you will fall.  

The sumptuous vocal harmonies that herald the start of the album's opening track, 'Aim High', are like a call to arms or a call to prayer before the band swoop in to action to build a platform for front man Wit's seductive baritone vocal. 'Aim High' was the second single from the album and it's an obvious choice with its luscious soundscapes, themes of ostracism and self reflection as well as a huge chorus that could easily grace an Arcade Fire or Flaming Lips festival hit. 'Chemikals' follows with the seemingly cheerier tone of a slightly drunken brass band and the dour pop nous of Teenage Fanclub or Belle & Sebastian. I won't linger on that track though as just round the corner is track 3, 'The Forest [The Devil Is In The Dirt]'. This is one of the most genuinely dark, brooding and sexy tracks I have heard in a long time with a funky bass line, tight guitar strings and just two lines of lyrics that build seductively in the vocal harmony between Wit, Emily and Roxanne. By the unnervingly frantic climax of the song, you are begging the singers to breath as they relentlessly repeat the line "I can see the forest but I promise you will never again". Depending on your personal psychology, this song will either leave you feeling twitchy and scared or make you feel like a sexy, confident, Victorian vampire trying to add to your coven.

Mercifully, TBOTB turn the intensity down a notch on 'Sharks of the Atomic Atoll' which is a swooning, sweeping beauty of a song that has film soundtrack potential written all over it. Things take a turn for the sombre on 'Bungalow Town' but those male vs female vocal harmonies sound oh so beautiful over the mournful acoustic guitar notes. There is a hint of Country here and I challenge anyone to listen to this track without getting a lump in the throat, a tear in the eye and a nagging sense of regret about something long forgotten. Fortunately, these are good people and before you can reflect too much, the Southsea ensemble hit you with the more determined 'Canaries in the Coalmine' that sees the guitars take centre stage as strained and soaring notes intermingle with those trademark harmonies. Before the song ends there is a beautifully Muse-esque segue in to a stomping, throbbing, chest beating and riff laden climax with some beefy organ in the mix just to drive the point home. The first single of this album was 'Wander [Through The Night]' which is up next with its anthemic chorus and quirky, offbeat verses that conjure audible images of the National or little known but largely fantastic French band Puggy. TBOTB have so much bravery, energy, ingenuity and dedication to their art that they seem capable of taking on most genres and stamping it with their own style and seal of quality.

The B Of The Bang relaxing at Pie & Vinyl. Honestly, those
their 'relaxed' faces. 
'Something is Holding Me Down' starts as a gentle, almost whispered plea to the listener over soft but insistent acoustic guitar, heartbeat percussion and carefully selected piano key strokes. As you would expect by now, it's not long before the song builds in to a joyous cacophony with stormy cymbals and sustain-heavy guitars battling with the emerging confidence of the vocals and the defiance of the lyrics. By the end of the song, the emotion wrought from the instruments and directed at your soul via your ears leaves you drained, delirious and absolutely desperate for more. Don't hold your breath though, those pesky geniuses (geni-i?) are at again, hitting you in the face with the absurdly funky and upbeat 'Bring You Back' with its dual basslines and driving drums not giving you a hope in hell of remembering why you have tears in your eyes. The thing is, the music is absolutely magnificent, there's no doubting that, but what is most rewarding is that the lyrics are also worth listening to, worth devouring, worth getting scratched in to your school/work desk; "What if all your thoughts were based on false beliefs? And freedom was the antithesis of release? By process of osmosis I won't let it in. The barrier between my brain and blood is thin".

For the last two tracks, TBOTB indulge their dramatic souls and take you on an emotional journey that you won't forget in a hurry. In 'Home [Anywhere But Here]', they have created a festival closing, arms in the air, sing along rock power ballad with integrity, genuine emotion and brutal but beautiful force. It's a song to die for, a song to watch the world implode to or a song to leave town to, without ever, ever looking back. And just when you thought it was safe to put the tissues away, they go and play their trump card, 'This Will All Be Gone Tomorrow'. Played on an old, honky tonk Piano and sung in a remorseful, soft tone, you get the feeling that Wit is singing this to himself after everyone else has gone home. Such is the fragility of his voice and heaviness in the Piano that it can only suggest a man playing to an audience of one. The first time I listened to this album all the way through, I reached the solitary held bass note on the piano at the end and genuinely puffed out my cheeks, the way you do when you've just walked out of an argument or a particularly stressful day at work. There's no getting around it, this is an emotionally fuelled and emotionally challenging record but it is also absolutely beautiful and soul enriching. In just 11 tracks, merely 45 minutes, you experience hope, despair, love, loss, desolation and joy in abundance which can only be good for you. That's the message then: buy this album with whatever pennies you can scrape together because it is actually good for you. It will improve your life. There, I said it.

More information: www.thebofthebang.co.uk

Live dates:

14th May - The Black Dove, Brighton (Alternative Escape @ The Great Escape)
24th August - Portsmouth Dockyard (Victorious Festival)

Monday, 22 April 2013

LION HALL - EP REVIEW


Lion Hall - Rhizomes (Tiny Lights Records)
Lion Hall - Rhizomes EP

Release date: 29th April

Boy-girl duo Lion Hall are a frustrating little outfit. On the one hand, their sparse atmospherics with broad Scottish accented vocals are a chilled out delight. But on the other hand, this EP feels like it might have been a bit rushed. There are obvious (maybe too obvious) connections to be made with the XX which is no bad thing but apart from vocalist Ana's wonderfully lilting burr, there's not a huge amount to make Lion Hall stand out. The opening track of this four track collection, 'Rhizomes', would probably be perfect if used over the top of footage of a bleak pebble beach with an oil refinery in the background but on this EP it just feels like filler and you should never, every start an EP with filler. It's like serving orange juice as a starter, nobody is impressed you've let everyone down at the first hurdle. Thankfully, 'Colour Me' rescues this collection immediately with those aforementioned vocals wafting and weaving over a sparse musical landscape of distant guitars and soft drums. 'Behave' starts promisingly but seems to descend in to a watered down version of Everything But The Girl which is, again, disappointing. The EP finishes up with 'Magnetic Forces' which has a real feeling of mournful loss about it before promising a crescendo but actually only delivering a quick fade out. Like I said, Lion Hall leave me frustrated. I want to put this music on in a dark room and just let it wash over me but it's not quite smooth and seductive enough to properly wallow in. More time and more introspective thinking needed before the next effort in my opinion but I definitely want to hear that next effort.

More information:  www.facebook.com/lionhall

Live Dates:

25th May - Evolution Emerging Festival

KOOL THING - SINGLE REVIEW


Kool Thing - TV Tower
Kool Thing - TV Tower

Release Date: 13th May 2013

With a name like Kool Thing you really don't need me to tell you that this duo is based in Berlin and make synth based music with a twist. Jon Dark and Julie Chance met in a dive bar in Paris (of course, where else?) and started to make sweet, sticky, dark and unsettling music together. 'TV Tower' has a futuristic, post-apocalyptic feel to it but there is a mood of defiance and hope that runs through the music in a way that Muse and Arcade Fire have perfected. Stabbing guitars, droned vocal harmonies and relentless strings all layer up on top of an electronic landscape to create an irresistible world that could be equally at home in the 1980s as it would be in 2080. There are elements of Depeche Mode's darkness, a touch of Above & Beyond's electro-intelligence and a funky but uneasy groove that only continental dance acts seem able to find (see Goose for an example). I could very easily see this duo becoming in demand producers in the future, working with everyone from Foals and the Maccabees through to Bowie and, go with me on this, Tom Jones. Seriously. He's gonna do a darkwave album soon when the bitterness of having to spend every Saturday night with Will.I.Am. finally breaks him.

More information: www.koolthingmusic.com

THE GOOD NATURED - FREE DOWNLOAD REVIEW


The Good Natured - Lovers (Parlaphone)
The Good Natured - Lovers

London, New York, Paris, Munich. Everybody talk about. Pop Muzik. So sang M in 1979 and they weren't wrong. Or right. It's not really a statement is it? Anyway, The Good Natured are emerging from beneath the decaying bodies of X Factor cast offs like the first plant breaking through the post nuclear winter earth. New single 'Lovers' is everything I want in a pop song; it's instant (barely 2 seconds pass and the vocals kick in), it's got attitude, it's infectious and there's an underlying tone of bittersweet heartbreak that every pop fan yearns for. The Good Natured make good on the promise of Ellie Goulding, pick up the mantle of the Long Blondes dancier leanings and aren't afraid to smash Kate Nash in to Tiffany resulting in a cloud of Skittles and synths. Pop kids will love the music, indie kids will love the band, the Brits will love the quality of the songwriting and the Yanks will hail them a new British invasion. Expect this trio to be huge at the summer festivals if we get any sun and expect 'Lovers' to be used under a Match of the Day montage within weeks. Lovers? You will be.



Tour dates:

27th April - Are you Listening? Festival, Reading
28th April - Secret Garden Party

HANA PIRANHA - SINGLE REVIEW

Hana Piranha - Sweetest Thing

Hana Piranha - Sweetest Thing

Release Date: 29th April 2013

I seem to be developing a bit of 'a thing' for talented female singers from New Zealand at the moment. First there was Kimbra and then the awesome Death In Texas but now, well now there is Hana Piranha. Hana intrigues me and, although I'm not totally in love with this debut single, 'Sweetest Thing', the combination of beefy rock riffs, razor sharp violin licks and a drawled, snarly vocal that Juliette Lewis would kill for is not one to be ignored. PJ Harvey, Patti Smith and Garbage are given as obvious and understandable influences but there are tones of the Stooges, Placebo and the  Yeah Yeah Yeahs bursting out of this song too. This isn't the best song I've heard this month but Hana Piranha is definitely one of the most intriguing, beguiling and attention grabbing artists I've had the pleasure to discover this year. And let's face it, no music worth its salt is instantly accessible is it?


Live Dates:

25th April - Hole in the Wall, Colchester
5th May - Indie Noir @ The Rattlesnake, Angel
30th May  - The 12 Bar, Soho
7th June - Foodies Festival, Clapham Common

Sunday, 21 April 2013

PRESS RELEASE/BIOG SERVICE NOW AVAILABLE

Exciting developments are afoot at LWM towers as we are expanding the services on offer the help spread the word about talented new artists and bands. 

With over 15 years experience of writing about music, performing in bands, running venues and managing bands, LWM is able to offer a unique and insightful service to help up-and-coming musicians to promote their music to a wider audience. Whether you just want a brief introduction to the band to accompany a release or a longer, more comprehensive piece to feature on a website, LWM is able to offer competitive rates and a professional, friendly and flexible service.

If you’d like to know more then get in touch via ravenouspr@live.co.uk or on twitter (@listenwivmonger) and we’ll talk turkey (or tofu if you’re of the vegetarian persuasion).

KOREA ROCKS - TOUR PREVIEW AND INTERVIEWS {PART 1}


Interviews with Apollo 18 and Galaxy Express

Watch out, the Koreans are invading! And they're bringing guitars. But don't worry, they're from the sexy South not the naughty North. At the end of April, the Korea Rocks tour is rolling in to the UK with four of South Korea's finest rock and indie exports to whet your appetite and tickle your fancy. LWM caught up with the bands via the wonders of the internet to find out a bit more about them before they hit these shores.

First up are Apollo 18, a trio of young men who make an ear-bleedingly sublime noise that is instantly infectious, superbly structured and largely lacking in vocals. Mixing grunge with elements of prog and hardcore, Apollo 18 can be understood in any language as long as you're prepared for a wall of noise and some serious rock action. On the eve of their first UK tour, Bassist Daeinn Kim was keen to tell me of the band's excitement, "We’re really excited!  We’ve toured overseas in Japan, Taiwan, the United States and Canada before and all were fantastic experiences.  We’re really looking forward to meeting new people, seeing new places, and experiencing a different culture. Gigging abroad is a challenge for most indie bands around the world because of the costs that are involved. Language and cultural issues can also be a bit challenging at times.  But when international tours finally come together, they are amazing.  There are lots of great people to meet and talk with all over the world, and lots of delicious new beer to try". 

With Britain's musical heritage so often touted as one of its most successful exports, you would
Apollo 18 - Jet lag can be a bitch
expect any visiting band to have a list of influences as long as the Thames, "[If British music has influence me] then I think it is just a little.  When I was young, I liked bands like Led Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols, and Radiohead.  But I don’t think they have had much impact on the music we make as Apollo 18. Each member of our group listens to a lot of different music including rock, blues, electronica, pop, metal, punk, etc.  Personally, my all-time favourite band is Nirvana". Right, then. Surely there must be some musical venues or sites that you would want to visit though? Abbey Road? The Cavern? Camden? " I’d love to go a gig at Stonehenge!  I think it’s such a beautiful and mysterious place.  Playing there would be awesome, but I’d settle for just the chance to visit and see it in person.  I’ve wanted to go there since I was a child.  I hope we can squeeze time in during our UK tour to stop there". Considering the spacey and psychedelic elements in between the giant slabs of rock these guys serve up, a gig at Stonehenge wouldn't be a bad shout actually. Although I'm sure the druids might have something to say about it!

Galaxy Express are another trio straight outta Seoul bringing their sound to the UK for the first time. Their sound is more balls out rock'n'roll than Apollo 18 in the vein of Motley Crue or Buckcherry with big riffs and screamed vocal harmonies that just make you want to drive fast cars and drink dirty whisky (but not at the same time, stay road safe kids). Guitarist Jonghyun Park was in chatty mood about the forthcoming visit to this sceptred isle, "We just finished a month-long American tour two weeks ago.  Our schedule is kind of tight with these two tours taking place so close to each other, but this is a great opportunity so we’re really happy.  We're fans of the other bands on the Korea Rocks tour, so it's going to be really awesome to tour in the UK together with them. We listen to a lot of British bands like the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. We’ve been influenced by a lot bands like The Stooges, MC5, the Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, T. Rex, the Ramones, Rancid, Nirvana, and Korean acts like Crying Nut, Sanullim, and Shin Joonghyun". Two bands in and I'm already tempted by a trip to check out some rock'n'roll Korean style (no, not Gangnam Style) "Korea’s indie music scene is small, but there are a lot of really good bands here.  I think all bands in Korea need to keep pushing ourselves to be better musicians and to keep making good music.  I think this will help other parts of the world take greater notice of the cool things that are happening here. We just want peace in Korea.  It would be awesome if one day there was just one Korea and our band – and other groups, too – could do full Korean tours and share rock music with people across the southern and northern parts of the country". You can't argue with that really can you? After all, you can't play guitar with nuclear arms.
Galaxy Express - Conjoined rock'n'roll triplets

So that's two out of four bands revealed for you. Have a listen to their stuff and check back soon for part two. From what I hear, the quality of bands is just as strong...









More information:




Korea Rocks dates:

April 24 - Tunbridge Wells @ Tunbridge Wells Forum
April 26 - Wrexham @ The Bank (Focus Wales)
April 27 - Wrexham @ Yales Café Bar (Focus Wales)
April 28 - London @ Barfly
May 1 - Manchester @ Night & Day Café
May 3 - Liverpool @ Studio 2 (Liverpool Sound City)

May 4 - Liverpool @ Kazimier Gardens (Liverpool Sound City)



Tuesday, 16 April 2013

SEA STACKS - SINGLE REVIEW


Sea Stacks - The High Tide
Sea Stacks - The High Tide

Davy Berryman is a classically trained flautist from Shropshire who creates, in his own words, Orchestral Indie completely devoid of any guitars or keyboards under the guise of Sea Stacks. On paper I want to hate this. On paper this is potentially the most pretentious thing I have ever opened in my inbox. On paper there is no way I can conceive that I will get along with this. But you can't get paper in to your ears can you? You can't lie back, close your eyes and let paper wash over you while you are transported to a field covered in dew that you are waking up in after pitching your tent late at night only to discover that you have the most awe inspiring view of fresh, verdant countryside.

'The High Tide' is a lush, sumptuous and multi-layered peace of gorgeousness and is simultaneously uplifting and twee beyond your wildest dreams. There are elements of the shyness displayed by David Kitt, the imagination employed by Gilbert and the style of Guillemots. Another intriguing aspect is that this is a song of two halves, with 'The High Tide' making up the first, more traditional aspect of the song before the tumult dissipates to leave you with the subtle ebbing of 'The Low Tide' (see what they did there?). 'The Low Tide' feels orchestral and has no discernible tune for the most part but allows Berryman to show off his vocal abilities with impressive restraint over the top of a plush bed of wind and brass instruments that my GCSE music teacher would be appalled that I can't quite identify (sorry Miss Higgins). Sure, ink and paper can do wondrous things but paper on its own cannot achieve what this music just has. You can wipe your arse on paper though.

More information: www.seastacks.co.uk

Live dates:

18th April - The Finsbury, London
20th April - Proud Camden, London
26th May - Meadowlands Festival, Lewes
1st June - The Birdcage, Bristol
14th June - The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading
7th July - The Stag, Hampstead, London
20th July - Farr Festival, Hertfordshire

DEATH IN TEXAS - SINGLE REVIEW


Death In Texas - Oil & The Water
Death In Texas - Oil & The Water

This humble blog recently reviewed an astounding single called 'Fear of the Hundred' by UK based trio Death In Texas that quite frankly blew several pairs of socks in a variety of directions from a selection of appendages. So when follow up single, 'Oil & The Water', popped up in my inbox I was simultaneously excited and nervous - would it match up or prove the band to be a one-song-wonder. They're not, this is another triumph. 'Oil & The Water' is full of dramatic, Rachmaninov-esque piano work and operatic but understated vocals from front-woman Ruth Power as well as jazzy, explorative drumming all woven together with tight, hypnotic bass lines. For musical comparisons then you might as well read my previous review of these guys but all you need to know right now is that these guys have passed my two single test - if a band releases two singles that I love then I will buy the album. So the only question remaining is, where is the album? Huh? Come on guys, stop holding out on us!


Live dates:
20th June - The Rumsey Wells, Norwich

NICK GLADDISH - ALBUM REVIEW


Nick Gladdish - Seconds Treasured Memories Measured 
Nick Gladdish - Seconds Treasured Memories Measured

Acoustic singer-songwriters really need to do something to stand out these days whether that be having a wild onstage persona, a gimmick, a new way to play their instrument or an unrelenting gig schedule. Sadly, what a lot of solo musicians don't always concentrate on is the craft of songwriting which is a shame because that just leaves us with a glut of singers with nothing on the other side of the hyphen. In Nick Gladdish, however, we have a genuinely talented musician, a singer with an identifiable voice and, crucially, an ability to create a song that holds your attention throughout. Now don't get me wrong, not every tune on this album is a nailed on chart topper (let's face it, when was the last album that you could say that about) but every song has a purpose and a reason to exist which is more than I can say for about 98% of the content on the latest NOW compilation.

Without wanting to make Gladdish sound too much like a horse, he was bred in South-West and has matured in the North-East which gives his music an earthy, folky quality but you can also hear more modern influences woven throughout the songs. Opener 'Holding Out', for example, is as laid back as Turin Brakes ever were and has the breezy sensation of 80s song-writing acts like Del Amitri and Deacon Blue. At times, though, this album has a tendency to sound like a songwriter pitching songs to an established act and 'Coming Home To You' is the perfect example of this. There is nothing wrong with the song itself and the lyrics tell a familiar tale of a relationship in trouble but the vocal melodies and overzealous guitar soloing feels like it would be more at home on a Matt Cardle ballad than amongst this collection of otherwise carefully crafted songs. 'Sticks and Stones' shows off Gladdish's impressive piano work and it's worth pausing here to remember that, apart from a few notes of Harmonica and the aforementioned guitar solo, Gladdish does everything on this album and there are precious few talented multi-instrumentalists around these days.

Nothing inspires Nick Gladdish more
than a round of early morning golf
For me, though, it's on 'Left A Mark' that this album starts to come in to its own as the simple but pure guitar picking beautifully underlay a wistful lyric that conjures that moment when you look back one last time before pulling your collar up around your neck and forging onwards. This is followed up with 'Arrived' which could easily be 10cc or Fleetwood Mac with some understated keyboard work being the only thing that stops this track being completely a cappella. There is a definite North-East folk tinge to 'Looking Ahead, Look At Us' with its loose acoustic strumming and that Del Amitri feel is there again as well as that reflective, wistful atmosphere. Conversely, 'Steering Me Off Course' starts off with the feel of a sea-shanty but twists and turns in to the rantings of a man who has just had enough of the world and then missed his bus before being soaked by a passing car and then realising that he's left his wallet at home anyway. You know that feeling, right? 'Choked' throws a curveball in starting like a Justin Timberlake track before blossoming in to a piano-lead 80s ballad that Sparks or Roxy Music could have produced.

As this album's 11 tracks (yes, proper album length) approach the home straight, 'He Asked' comes up on the outside as a song documenting the planning and emotional tension that goes in to proposing to your girlfriend - you've got to give the guy credit for having the cojones to put that in a song (for those wondering whether she said 'aye' or 'nay', well, you'll have to get the album and find out). The album title track swaggers in to view full of lilting melodies and mandolins like a loved up drunk walking home through the early morning mist. Dressed as Rod Stewart (I make no apologies for the pictures my mind creates). Gladdish finishes up with a proper piano ballad in '(In) Your Heart' that will surely feature at the end of a movie about a guy and girl who struggle to get it together but they make it in the end and have impossibly beautiful children to run about their giant American house while they bake cupcakes and illustrate books. This is as genuine a love song as you're ever likely to hear so I, for one, hope it doesn't get sold to Will Young to sing as this is the kind of song that should only ever be sung by the writer to their love.

On reflection, this is an album that showcases the talents of a musician and songwriter and bares the soul of an honest, open man. There is still room for Gladdish to develop and if he could learn to play the drums that would certainly give some of these songs a richer feel but if any labels out there are interested in signing up a consistent, talented and diverse songwriter then you should jump on a train and start checking the singer-songwriter nights around Newcastle until you hear Gladdish's husky but pure tones wafting through the cold night air.

More information: www.nickgladdish.com 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

BERNACCIA - SINGLE REVIEW


Bernaccia - No Club/Hideaway (The Ghoul)
Bernaccia - No Club/Hideaway (The Ghoul)

Release Date - 20th April 2013

Well, well, well. More original output from the Northeast of England, eh? I wonder why the BBC didn't move their Media Conurbation up to Gateshead instead of Salford. Oh well, their loss. Maybe all the extra attention would have killed off the spirit of invention that currently seems to be driving that quarter of our fair isle. Bernaccia, named after an ancient Celtic tribe rather than a knock-off energy tablet, are a rabble-rousing quartet peddling a fair trade in stompy, rhythmic rock'n'roll in the vein of Kasabian, Primal Scream or early Oasis. So far so hum-drum, I hear you say, but hold your horses pop-pickers. These boys, nay men, have a genuine, earthy bluesiness to their music that is more akin to the Black Keys or Alabama 3 and warrants more than a passing interest. The first of these two A-sides is 'No Club' which starts like a blues lament sung by a chain-gang of sleep deprived desperados before kicking in to life as a throbbing, grinding rock'n'roll behemoth which I only imagine gets the crowd good and sweaty at a live show. T'other A-side comes in the form of 'Hideaway (The Ghoul)' and is, in my humble opinion, the stronger of the two tracks. Distorted Harmonica with plenty of delay beckons you in before the swampy, dirty guitars transport to a Louisiana dive bar full of neon, sweat and black magic. There are rough edges to this diamond though as some of the lead guitar work is a bit laboured and the bass could do with turning up a notch. Nonetheless, these are two belting songs and with the confidence they exude you can't expect anything other than big things for these lads.

More information:

https://www.facebook.com/BernacciaMusic

Live dates:

20th April - Newcastle University (Single Launch)