Monday, 27 January 2014


Dahlia FX - Stone Cold Silver EP 
Dahlia FX - Stone Cold Silver EP

Dahlia FX are a British duo who specialise in a very niche area of music. Essentially, all the songs on this EP could all be the feedback and sustain laden end to a My Bloody Valentine set. Now, that doesn't make songs like 'Stone Cold Silver' and 'Custom Built Buddah' bad but it does make them particularly suited to a very specific set of circumstances - those circumstances being late at night when the you're in a slightly more inebriated state than your average rock'n'roll star. 'Future Thing' is more of the same - layers of feedback, pounding drums and vocals that are coming from somewhere down a hall inside my mind. The lightness of 'Breezed In' is a welcome respite from the aural onslaught but, as it only lasts a minute and a half, 'She's A Screamer' takes you right back in the pits of fiery, rock'n'roll debauchery and tortured souls. If I walked in to the right club with the right percentage of Jack Daniels in my blood stream then this would be awesome music. On a stone-cold sober Monday night in front of a roaring fire, however, this doesn't quite hit the spot.

More information:


Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Xtra Mile Recordings) 
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Well, this was totally worth the wait. You see, I've been eagerly anticipating this album since reviewing their single 'FUCKMYLIFE666' a few weeks back and my eagerness was well founded as 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' is one hell of a rock'n'roll album. 'Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues' has bouncing drums, rolling guitars and a spirit that is like Crazy Arm, Frank Turner or Springsteen at their most rambunctious and fist pumping. 'True Trans Soul Rebel' picks up the thread and adds to the fire before 'Unconditional Love' takes thing down half a notch for a more West-Coast punk sing-a-long that has something a little Green Day-ish about it. But if you like your punk a bit more in your face then switch straight to 'Drinking With The Jocks' for rapid fire drums and guitars that could only have been played with legs as far astride as physically possible. Bringing their legs slightly closer together, Against Me! strike up an anthemic pose for the provocatively entitled 'Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ' with its repeated refrain of "You're gonna hang, you're gonna hang".

Recent single 'FUCKMYLIFE666' is steeped in hope and defiance while 'Dead Friend' has an appealing country-punk twang to it which entirely explains why this band have been such natural tour partners with label partners Crazy Arm. Staying on the mortality tip, 'Two Coffins' rolls in acoustically with a sense of love so undying that all you can imagine is being arm in arm with someone until you get buried next to each other - morbid but romantic, if you look past the mere rotting flesh issue and focus on the everlasting soul. 'Paralytic States' stomps through my headphones like an unrelenting army while closing track 'Black Me Out' starts out like Maximo Park before building in to a stadium sized rock anthem perfect to close a set to with a mass of people singing along and waving mobile phones in time with the beat. This is the first great rock album of 2014 and I think, come the end of 2014, it will still be up there in my top 3. Now I just need a road trip to fully test this out...

More information:

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Solander - Monochromatic Memories (A Tendervision Recording) 
Solander - Monochromatic Memories

Release Date: 4th February 2014

It's no good, I can't help it. Knowing that this is a Swedish duo and they are called Solander I can't help but think of the Salander character from the Stieg Larsson books. Which is annoying as one is a tattooed, pierced, kick-ass heroine from the gates of hell and the other is a chilled out folk-pop duo consisting of Fredrik and Anja from Malmo. You can see where I get confused. No matter, shake it off and let's get on with the album. The sparse, sweeping landscapes of 'The Woods Are Gone' and 'All Opportunities' are unmistakably Scandinavian in essence and have the beauty of a candid black and white photography taken on a crisp winter's day. 'Monday Afternoon' is a more straight forward country-indie tune that would go down well at any UK festival while the gentle tenderness of 'Preludium' is pure Jose Gonzalez as produced by Sigur Ros.

The wooziness and solemnity of 'Black Rug' is a comforting sound in the way the David Kitt's of this world wrap you up in their soft gloom. 'Hey Wolf' is similarly unassuming but 'Social Scene' is a distinctly more perky affair with an upbeat rhythm and a fantastic melody played out on violins and cello before Fredrik Karlsson's tender, croaking vocals try their best to catch up along with the rippling piano. The intriguingly titled 'London Marbles' has a Fleet Foxes vibe to it as has album title track 'Monochromatic Memories' although the swell of the latter has something of Mumford and Sons about it. The album finishes up with the eerie 'Lighthouse' with has elements of Beth Orton about it as the violin rings out to guide the lonely fishermen home. This is not a party album or even a driving album but if you want something to sit and immerse yourself in on a cold night then this is for you. Comforting, warming, reassuring and familiar - a musical blanket with exquisite stitching.

More information:

Live Dates:

30th January - Sodra Bar, Stockholm w/Elephant Island
1st February - Babel, Malmo w/Elephant Island
10th February - Kontorkeller, Greifswald
11th February - Scheune Kulturzentrum, Dresden
12th February - Privat Club, Berlin
13th February - Jugendkulturhaus Cairo, Wurzburg
14th February - Franz Mehlhose, Erfurt
15th February - Milla Club, Munich
17th February - Die Scherbe, Graz
18th February - Rhiz, Vienna
19th February - MUZ Club, Nuremberg
20th February - Kulturzentrum Schlachtof e.V., Wiedbaden
21st February - Kraftfeld, Winterhur
22nd February - Freiburg, Germany
23rd February - Pension Schmidt, Munster

3-9 March - South By South West, Texas


Cellar Door - Trapped In Amber EP 
Cellar Door - Trapped In Amber EP

The ethos as LWM is to review anything and everything that comes my way. This is getting increasingly difficult but so far this promise has been kept until, that is, the EP from Cellar Door slipped through the cracks in my inbox and the review didn't get written. Lucky, then, that Teesside are an insistent bunch and they sent it a second time. Lucky for me as well, this is a short, sharp stab of mighty indie-rock  that I would be poorer for not hearing. There are only two tracks here but opening number, 'Trapped In Amber', is a snake-hipped, low-lit, smoky devil woman of a song that takes latter day Arctic Monkeys and blends it with the more furious moments of the Doors to make a beautifully tempting piece of musical delight. 'Higher Than Heavens' on the other hand, is a more laid back, Sunday morning track steeped in British indie influences from the La's and the Lightning Seeds to the Smiths and Space. The rumbling drums and sweet bass line carry you away like a jokey on a runaway horse but there's no need for a whip, enjoy the journey rather than worrying about the destination. It's amazing what you find between the cracks isn't it?

Live Dates:

1st February - Sound It Out, Stockton


Echotape - We Should Feel Like We Are In Love (Believe Digital/Amalgamated Sonic Industries) 
Echotape - We Should Feel Like We Are In Love

Release Date: 17th February 2014

Wallop! A noise and a place. The place, in fact, that Echotape hail from and, pleasingly, there is a certain wallop to their new single 'We Should Feel Like We Are In Love'. Stuttering guitars and a sweeping melody blend the grit of Editors with the showmanship of the Killers to create an indie anthem in the making. There's also the hint of that very unique blend of English punk about this song, despite the title and cover art, that brings thoughts of the Clash and Libertines to mind in the best way possible. It would be nice if the drums were a little punchier and the guitars a bit beefier but these are minor issues that some time in a decent recording studio will fix. The talent is the harder problem to solve and Echotape are pretty much there with that one already.

Live Dates:

7th February - The Railway, Winchester
5th March - The Bedford, London

26th April - The Music Box, Salisbury w/Kurbd


Rubee Rayne - Breath 
Rubee Rayne - Breath

The start of this song reminds me of the menu music from an old Amiga PC game that I spend too much time playing as a kid but I can't, for the life of me, remember which game it was. However, when Rubee Rayne's sweet, dusky vocals come in on the back of a laid back R'n'B beat then the whole mood changes and suddenly I need to be driving a big American car slowly down a brightly lit strip. Rayne's vocal style is so relaxed and calming that it would suit a Massive Attack or Tricky produced tune but I think her strength would be in trying to crack the US market early as I think she offers something fresh, something different to the over sexualised, over inflated artistes currently on the market. One to keep an eye on for sure.


The Dirty Nil - Wrestle Yü To Husker Dü 
The Dirty Nil - Wrestle Yü ToHusker Dü

There's been a butt-load of good music coming my way from Canada recently but it's mostly been of the carefully constructed indie or delicate acoustic pop variety. The Dirty Nil have all the delicacy of using a sledgehammer to peel a grape and are about as far from acoustic pop as North Korea is from being a chilled out, liberal holiday resort. An early contender for title of the year, 'Wrestle Yü to Husker Dü', is a Nirvana meets Pixies shaped slab of grinding, grunge that is as satisfying and pleasing as a having your favourite sandwich delivered to your bed 5 minutes after particularly good morning sex. This is a shot across the bows ahead of the band's forthcoming new EP 'SMITE' which I, for one can't wait to get my hands on and my ears around.

Live Dates:

20th February - Shea Stadium, Brooklyn
21st February - Anna Liffey's Pub, New Haven
22nd February - Tasty Burger, Cambridge
28th February - Jimmy Jazz, Guelph
2nd March - Theatre Cambrian, Sudbury
6th March - Call The Office, London
21st March - Silver Dollar, Toronto
28th March - Saint Catharines, Detour Music Hall

29th March - The Spice Factory, Hamilton

Saturday, 25 January 2014


Shake Tiger Shake - Break These Chains 
Shake Tiger Shake - Break These Chains

Here comes another London duo make electro tunes and having a pop at stardom. Shake Tiger Shake is the collective noun for a duo made up of Sarah Lazenby and Paul Withey and 'Break These Chains' is the name of their new single. This is a sexy, soulful little number with Lazenby's vocals giving you an aural lap dance while Withey's dirty bass lines and slinky beats lurk in the shadows offering you cocktails and other, less legal treats. Prince would love this and would probably make sweet, sleazy love to a groupie to it - then again, Prince could make 'The Birdy Song' a seduction tool. Essentially, this is soul for the Gameboy generation and it does everything you want sexy music to do so sit back and make sure you've got plenty of dollar bills.


Josephine And The Artizans - Let Me Go 
Josephine & The Artizans - Let Me Go

Release Date: 17th February 2014

Josephine and The Artizans are more of a collective than a band as there are at least 10 of them which makes each song almost an isolated incident to be considered solo. 'Let Me Go' is different from the band's previous single, 'Lacrymosa', as this is a more filmic and more dramatic but the band retain their classical, near operatic edge that sets them apart from pretty much any other band around at the moment. And then there is the furiously paced rapping and big, booming drums that drags this tune from Classic FM across to....well, that's just it. The problem with being a boundary defying, genre blending group of highly skilled musicians is there isn't really a scene set up for you to fit in to. Great from an artistic point of view but tricky from a promotional angle. Hopefully somebody on the alternative scene will take a punt and give them some airplay.

Live Dates:

7th February - Barfly, Camden

Thursday, 23 January 2014


Dark Mean - Albatross 
Dark Mean - Albatross

Ambiguous trio Dark Mean are returning after a 3 year hiatus with an EP and this is the first salvo in the form of the single 'Albatross'. This is a gentle, moody, slightly regretful indie song that builds slowly layering up bass, drums, guitar, organ and trumpet in to a tasty if slightly mournful cake. The first time I listened to this I had a distinctly 'meh' reaction but at LWM everyone gets a second listen and Dark Mean have benefited from this. Further investigation proves this to be a epic indie ballad with real heart-on-the-sleeve emotion in both the lyrics and the music. Clearly Dark Mean's break from the music scene has been well spent and on this evidence the EP is something to look forward to. No gigs lined up though, for shame.

More information:


The Cut Purse Rascals - Heavitree EP 
The Cut Purse Rascals - Heavitree EP

Release Date: 26th January 2014

Busses. Sodding busses. You wait for hours then two come along and they're both full. A bit like talented bands from Devon, then. Following on from the lovely Jess McAllister earlier this week, I have now been contacted by the delightful Exeter quintet The Cut Purse Rascals in advance of their EP launch gig on Sunday of this week. Opening track 'Heavitree' (relating to an area of Exeter, not weighty timber) is a poppy, upbeat number with a bouncy bass line and a folkish tinge to the strummed guitars. There is a much more country tone to 'The Wrestler' with some beautiful guitar work and a perfect drawl to the vocals which would be more at home in the deep south. '100 Faces' has a nice strummed, Americana laced vibe to it but I think this would probably be the point in the live set when I went to the bar. There is an almost mariachi feel to 'Jimmy' with its forlorn Piano riff and gently undulating rhythms that are hard to resist after a glass of red wine. There's a track at the end of this EP that I think is called 'WW' but I can't be sure. Either way, it's a beautifully swooning country ballad full of sumptuous guitars that the likes of Midlake and The Band would be lucky to have. This isn't music that will make your heart beat faster or jump out of your chest but it might just make your heart melt in to your cuban heeled boots.

Live Dates:

26th January - EP Launch @ The Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter w/ Alex Kumar

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Poeticat - 3rd Arm 
Poeticat - 3rd Arm

Release Date: 24th February 2014

Everyone's favourite spoken word indie nut jobs Poeticat are back for your entertainment. The dirty, low slung bass line that introduces new single '3rd Arm' is soon accompanied by a siren-like vocal melody and chiming, almost classical electric guitars. Before long the spoken word performance poetry of Catherine Martindale kicks in to inform you and open up your mind while the tempo steadily increases. This is manic stuff which not everyone will love but I would urge you to listen to it in the same way you need to watch the film Dogtooth - it might not be entirely comfortable all the time but you'll be a little more worldly wise and wider of perspective for the experience.

More information:

Live Dates:

24th January - Hootananny, Brixton

28th February - The Windmill, Brixton


Coma Coast - 1989/The Ritual (Parissi La Musique) 
Coma Coast - 1989/The Ritual

Release Date: 24th February 2014

A Venezuelan and a Londoner. Utah Saints meets 80s electro pop. Bouncing synths versus stomping dance beats. These are the delightful conflicts that make up the sound of Coma Coast, a duo of the electro-dance persuasion. Each side of this single has its own remix version but the original of '1989' is an understated, almost subdued electro-pop joy with drums that punch home and synths that bounce around like sun beams off a broken car window. The remix version of '1989' by Attar! is a little darker with those beats and synths layered up once again to create an even bigger dance onion even if it does lack a little direction. 'The Ritual' starts off like the background music to Sega's answer to Street Fighter, Streets Of Rage, but the slightly camp vocals Mariano Robles bring this in to the 21st Century as a smoky, seductive serpent tapping you on the shoulder and whispering naughty things in your ear. The Sano remix of 'The Ritual' is a more stripped down affair with skittish, manic vocal samples that are entirely suitable as the ringtone of a serial killer. On the whole, this is chilled out, well made dance music with a slightly different twist so I'm all for it.  

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


Years & Years - Real (Kitsune) 
Years & Years - Real

Release Date: 17th February 2014

OK, Years & Years are a trio from London made up of Olly, Michael and Emre who create Soulful Electronic Pop. One look at their press shots also tells me they are hipsters. Or homeless. Either way, they are making music that I can't quite figure out if I like or not. On the one hand, 'Real' has a sexy bass line and a great pulsating beat that will have many a head nodding in cool bars across Dalston before long. But on the other hand, the melody and vocals just kind of wash over you without hitting any real pressure points or emotional highs. It's not a bad track but it neither offends nor delights me which is a shame. Kinda like a wet, grey Sunday with Escape To Victory on the TV - not bad but there will be better Sundays in your life.


Adaen - Hearts True...Bypassed 
Adaen - Hearts True...Bypassed

What's that you say? A trio from Russia influenced by Muse, Mastodon and the Mars Volta? Well this should be pretty bloody interesting. Adaen kick this short sharp album with 'Intro (Link Up The Circle)' which, lyrically, is pretty poor (but hell, way better than my Russian lyrics) but musically is an assault on the senses along the lines of dive bombing in to ice cold plunge pool. 'Dissaude' wears it's Mars Volta influences on its sleeve, even swaying in to System Of A Down territory from time to time which is no bad thing. The relentless, body blow riffs of 'Airship Graveyard' are worth enduring for the moody, swirling guitars that ape Muse at their heaviest during a live show. 'Hearts True...Bypassed' contains the disturbing lyric "No more we ain't virgin, we've been raped in many ways" but it also features a super-fast bass solo that most metal bands would sacrifice a goat for. Finishing up with 'Blockade', Adaen channel their inner speed-metal band to great effect before leaving as abruptly as they arrived. This is interesting stuff and I love the fact that they don't take their foot off the accelerator for one second but I'd hope for something a little more diverse from that impressive list of influences.


Jess McAllister - Painted Face EP (Mill Records) 
Jess McAllister - Painted Faces

Release Date: 3rd February 2014

Oh the irony! Here I am, just a few miles from Plymouth and actively trying to seek out exciting new local talent. Meanwhile, Jess McAllister is an extremely exciting local talent that I've never heard of who, thanks to a PR company based in Cleveland, I am now acutely aware of. Now it's my turn to make you aware of her talent - it's for your own good. The first clue to Jess' talents come from the brilliantly apt artwork on this release which, on the one hand, show her to be a meek, introverted hippyish type. On the other hand, McAllister can be seen as a feisty, fearless punk with a defiant lip curl and an unpredictable nature. Opening track 'Take A Walk' is a beautifully rippling piano piece that is part Regina Spektor and another, larger part Laura Hocking & The Long Goodbye (look her up if you haven't heard of her). The piano is Jess' weapon of choice and she uses it in the most enthralling and beguiling way in combination with her voice which is somewhere between the Lily Allen's and Kate Nash's of this world and something altogether more lyrical and melodic. Title track, 'Painted Faces', has more attitude and a little more instrumentation but it's the personality and will of our heroine that shines through, whatever the tune.

The haunting vocal harmonies at the very beginning of 'Shadows In The Night' followed by the Ludovico Einaudi-esqu piano riff is simply sumptuous and makes you want to sink deeper and deeper in to the music like a bath full of warm honey. Then again, final track 'Never Mind Buying Time' takes that Kate Nash energy, mixes in the Spektor unhinged-ness and then slaps on a huge layer of defiant triumphalism that should make this an anthem for those waiting for the next Laura Marling to come along. Jess McAllister is a prodigious talent right on my doorstep and I cannot tell you just how much that excites me....well, I guess I have just told you how much in this 500-odd word review but you get my point. Get yourself out to one of her gigs, buy yourself a large glass of something warming (port or brandy I'd suggest), sit back amongst the candle light and let this gorgeous music wash over you. You can thank me later.

More information:

Live Dates:

25th January - Live on BBC Introducing Devon, Plymouth
13th February - B-Bar, Plymouth
17th February - Songsmiths Night @ Mr Wolfs, Bristol
18th February - The Abbey, Kentish Town
19th February - The Dublin Castle, Camden
28th February - The Barrel House, Totnes

1st March - Real Food Cafe, Exeter

Monday, 20 January 2014


Running Red Lights - There's A Bluebird In My Heart 
Running Red Lights - There's A Bluebird In My Heart

Considering there is so much dominance of the global music scene by American artists, it seems strangely ironic that LWM has been inundated with Canadian talent recently but little or nothing from their cousins South of the border.  A mere observation, nothing more nothing less. Running Red Lights are a quartet from Toronto who deal in the more sweeping end of the indie spectrum with great success. 'Mulberry Love' is a huge, expansive tune that builds beautifully with elements of country and a delightfully subtle change in rhythm as the fever pitch is approached. The acoustic shuffle that opens up 'In Parentheses' is gentle and comforting while 'Under The Wire' has a distinctly Springsteen feel to it which seems to be coming back in to style these days. Jeff Carter's poppy bass blended with some Bond-esque guitars create a Fleetwood Mac vibe on 'Dear Liza' and the delicious organs mingle with Scarlett's vocals on 'Love Letter Airplanes' to keep that vibe going. There is a definite 70s/80s Mac feel to 'Parlour Cafe' too with those dreamy guitars and whispered female vocals intermingling like lovers on silk sheets.

Tracks like 'Boxcar Telegrams', 'By Your Side' and 'Run Away' show that Running Red Lights aren't content to just mimic the likes of Fleetwood Mac and have the ability to take things forward in an Arcade Fire kinda way....but lighter. As we approach the end of the album, 'Memory Balls' glides in to view with a sound like Of Monsters And Men as the vocals of Scarlett and Kevin Howley blend in beautiful harmony. However, on album closer 'A Damn Good Way To Go' they revert to those Fleetwood Mac-ian tendencies to have one last blast of those vocals harmonies and sweet, sweet guitars. This is beautiful, melodic and harmonious stuff with lush instrumentation throughout and for fans of the mighty Mac this is a dream come true. And as for the Americans? Well, they'll just have to start trying harder I think. Bieber doesn't even come close to Running Red Lights.  

Live Dates:

23rd January - London Music Club @ Big Hall, London (Canada)
24th January - RCYC Winter Ball, Toronto
25th January - Paddy Flaherty's Irish Pub, Sarnia
31st January - Theatre Pass Muraille, Toronto

1st February - Marmora Community Centre, Marmora


Skutch Manos - Mimosa 
Skutch Manos - Mimosa

There are few trios of words that strike fear in to the heart of this reviewer more than 'Acoustic Instrumental Album' but that's exactly what I've been presented with here by Mancunian three piece Skutch Manos. Simon Cowell Documentary is potentially worse but at least I don't have to review that. However, I am nothing if not fair so I will give this a fair hearing. The opening track, 'Mimosa', is nine minutes long (not a great start) so I had to go and make a cup of tea before I started but when I did start I was instantly glad I made time for this collection. This opening salvo is a triumph of wondrous, intermingling acoustic guitar notes played over subtle double bass and percussion. It is guitar wizard Arlen Connelly who is behind this blend of classical, Spanish, rock and jazz genres that sounds (musically) better than it sounds (on paper). 'Black Coffee' is a bit heavy on the Jazz influence for my tastes but the mellow melodies of 'Electric Heart' and the Jose Gonzalez stomp of 'Boondogglers Empty Chair' are right up my acoustic alley.

The slightly sinister lullaby opening to the creepily titled 'Wakey Wakey Boys And Girls' soon gives way to a mariachi style onslaught from Connelly's guitar and you can almost see the tumbleweeds rolling past the saloon doors. 'Words' would be perfect for an obscure detective show soundtrack while 'Classical Gas' is a loyal reworking of the Mason Williams staple. The percussion of Holly Prest plays a huge part on the undulating 'Silver Daggers' as the tune shudders and jerks in to life like the first steps of Frankenstein's monster. The romantic melodies of 'Fallen' would be a great soundtrack to a romantic proposal of marriage but make it quick as it only lasts 58 seconds. Then again, the next track up is 'The Rabbit' which is a perky, Spring-time infused tune which lasts over six minutes so providing he/she says you've at least got something to dance around to afterwards. It's gonna be mighty awkward if they say no though*. The closing tune, 'Delivered By The Warm Glow Of A Yellow Afternoon', is a gentle, Tuscan breeze of a song that will have most people yearning for warmer summer days and a sense of carefree abandonment. This collection of songs is a thing of beauty and perfect music for certain situations (listening to on the beach, in the bath or during those more romantic moments in life). I wouldn't listen to it on a long night drive though, that's just a health warning.

*Listen With Monger accepts no responsibility for failed marriage proposals.

Live Dates:

3rd April - Klondyke Club, Manchester
4th April - Matt'n'Phreds, Manchester

27th April - Hilary Step, Manchester


Skindred - Kill The Power (DoubleCross Records/Cooking Vinyl) 
Skindred - Kill The Power

Release Date: 27th January 2014

Skindred are one of those bands I've seen advertised on countless neon pink and yellow posters around large towns and cities but, to the best of my knowledge, I've not heard a note of their music yet so I was keen to get my ears around this new album and see what's kept this band going for so long. The Welsh quartet launch in to their fifth album with the title track and 'Kill The Power' is a fierce, swirling, snarling mash up of rock, metal, ragga and dance beats. Following hot on its heels is the furiousness that is 'Ruling Force' which takes on about six genres in less than four genres like some kind of crazed, music hungry animal. 'Playing With The Devil' is full of moody, almost Massive Attack-esque melody, pulsing bass line and Benji Webbe's hypnotic vocals spiralling through the airwaves. Meanwhile, on 'World's On Fire' Skindred astutely deploy broken beats, live drums and some huge riffs before 'Ninja' comes crashing through the window and the duelling guitar and bass of Mikey Demus and Dan Pugsley take centre stage.

There is a more straight forward rock'n'roll feel to 'The Kids Are Right Now' which reminds me of the l likes of Audioslave but the lyrics about kids born in Jamaica and Brixton give this a very different cultural focal point. Demus' chiming and choppy guitar work again comes to the fore on 'We Live' although this feels a bit too much like a Nu-metal ballad which is murky territory. The jerk and sway of 'Open Eyed' is akin to Skunk Anansie being remixed by Asian Dub Foundation while 'Dollars and Dimes' is a no-holds-barred indie-rock anthem in the making. 'Saturday' is a BIG riffed tune and you could reasonably expect to hear it in the background of a frat party scene in some big American teen movie - entirely missing the point of the lyrics, ironically. System Of A Down-esque riffs and beats open 'Proceed With Caution' before Webbe starts spitting out lyrics at a terrifying pace - his wordcount per song must surely be well above the average. Final track, 'More Fire', starts off like a gentle, children's them song for a cartoon about a misunderstood dragon with tourettes and, despite almost sounding a bit like Big Mountain at times, is actually a really nice, laid back tune that would go down well at sunset at any festival of your choosing. So, I can see why Skindred's popularity has lasted as they manage to encompass so many different styles at once whilst retaining excellent musicianship, interesting song structures and, most importantly, they've got a message. Predictably, there's another sizeable tour coming up, starting this week in fact, so if you've seen the name but don't know their music then just give Skindred a chance to impress.

Live Dates:

22nd January - University of East Anglia, Norwich
23rd January - Mo Club, Southampton
24th January - Rock City, Nottingham
25th January - Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
26th January - Empire, Middlesborough
27th January - O2, Glasgow
29th January - Leadmill, Sheffield
30th January - O2 Academy, Bristol
31st January - The Junction, Cambridge
1st February - The Forum, London

2nd February - Academy, Manchester


Algiers - You're The Captain (Xtra Mile Recordings) 
Algiers - You're The Captain

Release Date: 27th January 2014

Right, I need to declare a conflict of interests  before I start here. I spent three glorious years in Sheffield gorging myself on a burgeoning music scene that erupted in between Pulp and Arctic Monkeys. As a result, every time I hear of a new band coming along from Sheffield I get all nostalgic and misty eyed before even hearing a note. Algiers are, indeed, a duo from the Steel City but, fortunately for my reputation, they right fantastic, sweeping indie nuggets that entirely justifies their recent deal with Xtra Mile. Putting me in mind of the much missed Bennett, 'Mother' opens up this debut long player with pounding drums and chiming guitars that it's hard to ignore (why would you even bother trying?). The wonderfully entitled 'Miles and Miles of Rosary Beads' has a touch of the Young Knives about it which I am entirely in favour of and 'Indian Sweets' is more of the same with quick-fire snare work vocals akin to Frank Turner on a tuneful day or an American skate-pop band (let's say Fall Out Boy for the sake of argument). The understated intro to 'The Glue' suggests a band with a connection to the Highlands and perhaps a fair amount of Del Amitri or Deacon Blue in their CD collection but in a really good way. Does that make sense? Who cares.

One thing that sets this duo apart from the many others on the scene at the moment is their use of the drums as another instrument rather than just a beat keeper. This is particularly apparent on the Biffy Clyro meets Crazy Arm stomp of 'Lighthouse' where the tub thumping could be equally at home on a Viking long ship as it is on this song which seemingly extols the virtues of a tall girl with a bright face. The interplay between lyrical guitars and harmonious vocals of 'Flowers' makes it the perfect song for a sunrise over British wilderness scenes with startled wildlife and misty moors until that sunlight bursts through and the guitars thunder in with a life affirming energy. That Young Knives reference point is apparent again on 'Two Currents Of Sea Drifts' whilst album title track, 'You're The Captain' has a more epic, Snow Patrol-ish feel to it. The album finishes with an intriguingly titled duo of tracks; 'To The Beat Of A Marching Drum - Part 1 - Mechanics' and 'To The Beat Of A Marching Drum - Part 2 - On Resistance and Appeal: Our Wandered Finds Refuge Instigating Lament'. 'Part 1' is a bluesy, guitar lead twang in the vein of Mr J Cash or LWM favourites C.R. Thorn. 'Part 2', however, picks up the same melody and turns it in to a stadium filling piece of anthemic indie sumptuousness with that marching drum at the forefront. What Algiers seem to have achieved on this album is the ability to switch between the intimate and the enormous, the mainstream and the left-field and the sparse and the wall of sound effect. Well played Sheffield, as usual.

Live Dates:

31st January - Fallow, Manchester
1st February - The Harley, Sheffield
5th February - The Monarch, London

7th February - Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough 


Travel Check - 66$ (Howlin Banana Records) 
Travel Check - 66$

Release Date:  20th January 2014

I used to go to France a lot as a kid on family holidays and I never really saw any evidence of a music scene in any the towns that we visited. Mind you, we spent most of our time walking around old WWII sites which don't lend themselves to much apart from the odd indie photo shoot I suppose. Recently, however, there has been a definite surge in French alternative music and, more specifically, Garage pop. Parisian combo Travel Check are the latest bunch to saunter across the Channel to chat up the ladies and smoke incredibly strong cigarettes whilst being cool as fuck. Opening track '66$' has the kind of shambolic appeal you'd expect from Babyshambles or the Clash whilst the vocals have that half-drunk, slurring appeal that you get from bands not singing in their native tongue. 'Druggy Daddy' is hugely reminiscent of a band called Holy City Rollers from Indonesia that I can't recommend highly enough as well as LWM favourite's Dead Coast so it's got a tick from my point of view.

The second half of this EP kicks off with 'La Graviere' (the Gravel in English) which is a balls out, no-nonsense, speed punk of a tune driven by some furious bass work and unforgiving drums. Finishing up with the more laid back 'Feels Alright', Travel Check show off their more expansive side as they toy with time signatures and layer on the distortion in a way that Lou Reed and Iggy Pop would thoroughly approve of. The main thing that I'm going to take from this EP is that I should probably head back to France sometime soon to get a look at the musical talent on offer. And to fill my car with cheap wine and bread, natch.


The Rifles - None The Wiser (Cooking Vinyl) 
The Rifles - None The Wiser

Release Date: 20th January 2014

I'm not a fan of guns on the whole. If we could at least all go back to swords and axes that would even things out a bit and make American High Schools a whole lot safer - seriously, have you ever tried to lift a broad sword, let alone wield one? The Rifles, however, are a different prospect however as their main weapon is bouncy, jaunty, indie-pop with a very English sensibility. Album opener 'Minute Mile' is a blend of Franz Ferdinand's attitude and Maximo Park's guitars although the vocals seem a little bit low in the mix for an opening statement of intent. 'Heebie Jeebies' is more in the vein of the Fratellis in that it's a step up from McFly but still a bit indie-lite for my liking. The rumbling drums that herald the beginning of 'Go Lucky' are a thing of beauty and the song that then unfolds is a quintessentially English indie tune pitched somewhere between the House Martins and the Libertines, no easy feat. Taking a more relaxed approach on 'All I Need', the Rifles do their best Kooks impression whilst forthcoming single 'You Win Some' is a more slick, Radio 2 friendly track that could see the band supporting James Morrison before the year is out.

I've just read back over that first paragraph and realise it sounds like I'm slating these guys which I didn't think I was. The problem, and 'Catch Her In the Rye' is a great example of this, is that a lot of these tunes fill that post-Britpop space which is already jam-packed with a whole host of perfectly good, mid-sized bands so I don't know where the Rifles really fit in. There's a country ballad twang to 'The Hardest Place To Find Me' which shows glimmers of something a bit different which is promising and 'Shoot From The Lip' has an 80s swagger about it that stands out - the plucked strings are perfectly understated. The lo-fi meets skiffle chug of 'Electric Eccentric' shows real imagination and ingenuity which is making me feel that this is perhaps an album of two halves. This suspicion is confirmed but the behemoth the closes the album that is 'Under And Over'. This final track features so many ideas and approaches that you wouldn't have expected when you heard the first couple of tracks which gives the listener the impression that they've been on a real journey of growth and development with the band. The Rifles are certainly ones to keep an eye on for the future (not a phrase I use lightly) as if they follow the exit trajectory of this album and ignore the first half then good things will surely come. Oh, and for a bonus point, they're one of few bands I have reviewed recently that have bothered with what used to be a staple - the hidden track. Made my day.

More information:

Live Dates:

28th April - The Globe, Cardiff
29th April - The Phoenix, Exeter
30th April - The Brook, Southampton
1st May - Waterfront, Norwich
2nd May - Shepherds Bush Empire, London
3rd May - Brighton Racecourse Modfest, Brighton
4th May - The Ritz, Manchester
6th May - Oran Mor, Glasgow
8th May - Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
9th May - Junction 2, Cambridge

10th May - The Assembly 2, Leamington

Sunday, 19 January 2014


Michael Forrest - Infinite London (Good To Hear) 
Michael Forrest - Infinite London

Release Date: 10th February 2014

Now this is immediately interesting and appetite whetting to me. I don't have a lot of info on Michale Forrest - he's a London based producer who classes his music as unmarketable pop - but I do have a lot of love for his brand of skitchy, jerky, dark electro-pop. 'Infinite London' is an unpredictable, nightmarish ghoul of a tune that lurches in to life before infiltrating your veins and blood cells via your ears. Elements of Cho Cho, Prodigy and Goose are apparent but there is a throbbing, pulsating bass melody that has something quite delicious about it. This is the kind of music that should be found reverberating along the walls of some multi-roomed, neon painted pop up nightclub that is only accessible via a large cat flap with a ninja on security duty. It's off the wall, it's odd, it's got a groove and I love it.

Live Dates:

6th February - Hysteria, Dalston


Salt Ashes - Somebody (Night Beach Records) 
Salt Ashes - Somebody

Release Date: 17th February 2014

Veiga Sanchez, for she is Salt Ashes, comes on strong with her debut single 'Somebody', like a sassy 90s American girl entering a club in a movie after an awesome make over. The sexy electro melodies are pure La Roux meets Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder in a dark alley whilst listening to some Madonna on an iPod. As for Sanchez's voice, it's in the field of Robyn or Florence Welch in terms of its range from timid to powerfully funky which gives this tune a great emotional range. Sadly, as groovy as the tune is, it never quite swells to the fever pitch you'd hope for if you heard this in a nightclub and wanted to pull your best moves to it. Salt Ashes has potential but there needs to be a bigger tune to hang the reputation on than this or she may go the way of Little Boots. Remember her? Exactly.


Kim Churchill - Some Days The Rain May Fall (Blix Street) 
Kim Churchill - Some Days The Rain May Fall

Release Date: 27th January 2014

OK, I'll admit to a little bit of narrow mindedness here. Before pressing play, I assumed Kim Churchill was an Aussie pop singer lacking in the testicles department. I couldn't be more wrong as Mr Churchill is a thoughtful, talented and tender singer-songwriter. With balls. 'Some Days The Rain May Fall' is a gently pulsing, undulating song full of reminiscence and guitars that ripple and wash over your ears like spring water over smooth pebbles. This is a song that should be heard around a fire while you cradle someone special to you and huddle under a blanket. The second track on this release is 'Fear The Fire' which continues the theme of rolling, almost liquid guitars before building in to a stomping, urgent and vital song that grabs you by throat, lifts you off the floor and holds you for a few seconds and then lets you go. Kim Churchill is touring his ass off this year having already travelled around Europe with Billy Bragg in 2013 so expect to hear a lot more from him in 2014. And it's definitely a him.

More information:

Live Dates:

21st January - The Vanguard, Sydney
22nd January - The Junkyard, Maitland
24th January - The Northern, Byron Bay
25th January - No 5 Church Street, Bellingen
26th January - Flow Cafe, Old Bar
30th January - Transit Bar, Canberra
31st January - Workers Club, Melbourne
1st February - King Island, Currie
9th February - St Kilda Festival, Melbourne
12th March - Centre Culturel De Beloeil, Beloeil
13th March - Theatre Hector-Charland, L'epiphanie
14th March - Theatre Belcourt, Baie-Du-Febvre
15th March - Theatre du Musee Canadien des Civilisations, Gatineau
16th March - Pavillion de L'ille, Chateauguay
19th March - Maison de la Culture de Trois-Rivieres, Trois-Rivieres
20th March - Centre des arts Juliette Lassonde, St-Hyacinthe
21st March - Pavillon Arthabaska, Arthabaska
22nd March - Salle Andre-Prevost, Saint-Jerome
23rd March - Maison de la Culture de Waterloo, Waterloo
25th March - Le Club Quartier Dix 30, Brossard
26th March - Complexe Culturel Felix-Leclerc, La Tuque
27th March - Theatre Palace Arvida, Saguenay
28th March - Theatre Lionel-Groulx, Ste-Therese
29th March - Theatre du Vieux-Terrebonne, Montreal
30th March - Salle Andre-Mathieu, Laval
1st April - Magasin General Le Brun, Maskinonge
3rd April - Theatre Meglab, Malartic
8th April - Centre des Congres de Sept-Iles, Sept-Iles
9th April - Cafe-Theatre Graffiti, Port-Cartier

10th April - Salle Desjardins-Telus, Rimouski

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Whales In Cubicles - All The Pretty Flowers (Club The Mammoth) 
Whales In Cubicles - All The Pretty Flowers

Release Date: 3rd February 2014

Picture the scene: a lo-fi American teen romp with Michael Cera in it has just finished and before the credits roll up, our protagonist has to walk off in to an understated sunset (or maybe ride a skateboard) in a faded brown hoodie and converse trainers. The tune that soundtracks that scene is 'All The Pretty Flowers' by London combo Whales In Cubicles. This precursor to their imminent debut album is a plodding, slacker anthem with bursts of chiming guitars and a voice that you could go surfing on. There's a 90s, Westcoast vibe that I can't help but be drawn to as that Beach Boys meets a sulky Nirvana sound just washes over me and crashes in to my memories of teenage musical discovery. The album comes out just a week after this single and there's a tour going on too so you've every chance to fall in love. I already have.

Live Dates:

28th January - Think Tank, Newcastle
29th January - Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
31st January - A Nation Of Shopkeepers, Leeds
1st February - Night & Day, Manchester
5th February - Cookie Jar, Leicester
6th February - Moles, Bath
7th February - The Prince Albert, Brighton
13th February - Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
14th February - Sixty Million Postcards, Bournemouth

15th February - Start The Bus, Bristol


The Manic Shine - Weightless (The Animal Farm) 
The Manic Shine - Weightless

The multi-cultural, multi-influenced and multi-talented nature of The Manic Shine is exactly what makes them quite so enthralling. Sure, 'Weightless' could draw comparisons with the likes of System Of A Down, Boy Hits Car and Incubus at their more maniacal, but there is more to this London based four piece than meets the ears. Chunky, fast paced riffs with hammer-blow drums is one thing but throw in a stadium sized indie-pop chorus, a vocalist with all the charm and charisma of Beelzebub himself and two brothers who are Israeli-Scottish (what a combo, I want to party with those guys) and you have something quite unique indeed. Unique enough to film a video with a circus troupe and get away with a guitarist wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt (I was going to call him on it but the music is too good). There's a fairly extensive tour coming up so I'd get the hell on the bus and go see these guys before they blow up big time. Or a train. Or just walk. Go nuts.

Live Dates:
30th January - AAA, London
31st January - Apple & Parrot, Torquay
7th February - Talk, Birmingham
22nd February - Scorpios, High Wycombe
28th February - Asylum, Chelmsford
8th March - The Brunswick, Gloucester
14th March - Marrs Bar, Worcester
23rd May - Volksfest, Plymouth

14th September - Rock & Metal Circus, Northampton


Circle Of Reason - Themes Amongst Thieves (Ambicon Records) 
Circle Of Reason - Themes Amongst Theives

Metal vs Ping Pong with some OAPs thrown in to the mix. Do anything for ya? Well the melodic but abrasive new single from Southampton quartet Circle Of Reason contains all of these things and more (if you include the video). There are elements of Reuben, Hundred Reasons and Hell Is For Heroes about the riffs matched with vocals that actually allow you to hear the lyrics without losing any of the heaviness. The added humour of the video just gives you a sense that these guys have their heads screwed on right but I suspect it's the live shows where they really let the combination of music, fun and fearlessness take over. Nice to see a band taking the music seriously without taking themselves too seriously. They look shit at ping pong though.

Live Dates:

23rd January - O'Rileys, Hull
24th January  - Lounge 41, Cumbria
25th January - The Woolpack Live, Doncaster
6th February - Sanctuary Bar, Basingstoke
22nd February - The Ivy, Sheerness
8th March - The Green Room, Welwyn Garden City
5th April - L2G Festival, West Midlands
12th May - Buskers Bar, Eastbourne
17th May - The Rockden, Hatfield

26th July - The Rockden, Hatfield


James Vincent McMorrow - Gold (Vagrant/Believe/Dew Process) 
James Vincent McMorrow - Gold

I don't normally bother with the emails that say "what do you think of this track that's not a single or official release or anything" but when I read that Radio 1's Zane Lowe had deemed this to be the hottest track in the world last Tuesday or something I thought I should probably have an opinion on this. I mean, if I didn't, what would Zane Lowe think of me? F'real. 'Gold' is Dubliner McMorrow's version of a filmic dream sequence with harps, falsetto vocals and an unearthly mish-mash of sounds coming from all directions. There are a lot of good ideas in here, maybe too many, but one thing that is lacking is a sense of triumph or climax that this song promises but never quite delivers. Sure, the song builds and the layers add up but it just seems to lack that moment when the lights go out and then come back on brighter and accompanied by water fountains, fireworks and naked girls riding elephants. I would expect a track deemed the hottest in the world to at least have a water fountain, wouldn't you?

Live Dates:

24th January - Manchester Cathedral, Manchester
25th January - St George's, Bristol
26th January - Barbican Centre, London
28th January - Celtic Connections @ City Hall, Glasgow
30th January - Seapoint, Galway
31st January - Cork Opera House, Cork
1st February - University Concert Hall, Limerick
2nd February - The Set Theatre, Kilkenny
4th February - National Concert Hall, Dublin
5th February - National Concert Hall, Dublin

6th February - National Concert Hall, Dublin

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


No Monster Club - Foie Gras 
No Monster Club - Foie Gras

Who wants some off-kilter indie pop with kerazee titles from that there Ireland? You don't? Tough cos that's what I've got for you so sit down and shut up. No Monster Club are a Dublin based trio of gents who seemingly take influence from the weirder end of the musical spectrum such as Vampire Weekend, Johnathan Richman, the Violent Femmes and the Flaming Lips. The album opens with 'Fully Trained Cavemen', a jaunty indie-pop ditty that sounds like the Thrills doing the soundtrack for Bugsy Malone after no sleep. The aforementioned kerazee titles start in earnest with '(I Think You Could Only Get Away With This Carry On When You're In) The Sun' which is a deranged children's TV theme from the 70s that was deemed too mental for the kids. 'The Prisoner', 'Happy Days' and 'I Wanna Be Brainwashed' are more straight down the line indie tracks with a sense of poppy urgency and a scampish attitude that is adorably rough around the edges.

The bouncy rhythm of 'Warm Props' is as twee as twee can be and has a very Nordic feel to it which is unsurprising considering the Viking connections with Dublin (yes, I've been to Dublinia, it was great). Then again, 'La La Land' is a garage-punk tune full of snot and spit with a sense that it should be being played in a suburban US garage. No Monster Club are the kind of band that do whatever the hell they like which is hugely appealing as there is no self-censorship here. 'Damn The Weather' is essentially a 21st Century version of 'Lilly the Pink' while 'The Best Thing About Us Is We Never Grow Up' is back to that pop-punk attitude for nearly a whole minute before the shuffle of 'Troublemakers' arrives. The sheer chaotic feel of 'Let's Go Digging In Wolf Tone Square' dictates that the video should feature sped-up footage of an open-top bus ride around Dublin and novelty hats. Finishing up with 'Those Little Bastards' and 'Rainbow I'm Ready To Go', No Monster Club confirm their indie credentials and leave their chiming guitars and pounding drums ringing in your ears. Fun stuff with a sense of humour and freedom that is refreshing in music these days - more please.


John Smith - Great Lakes 
John Smith - Great Lakes

Release Date: 27th January 2014

Before even listening to this, my favourite thing about this record is that the artist, John Smith, has happily gone along with the traditional 'most common name in Britain'. It's probably not true anymore, too many Tyler's and Archie's roaming the land, but at least he didn't go for a fancy name change or a silly spelling (Jean Smythe, for instance). I also like him because he's from Devon and that makes this Devonian quite proud indeed considering the attention the attention his music is getting - I hope the music lives up to all this hype........don't worry, it totally does. 'Great Lakes' is the name of Mr Smith's forthcoming new single which is a lament of soaring proportions full of sweeping strings, a shuffled beat and the kind of voice that should only be heard when your heart is on the verge of breaking. Smiths' dusky, gravelly tones are simply beautiful and the guitar work is entirely Simon and Garfunkel-esque with a lilting edge to the melody that runs throughout. Lyrically, this is a tragic tale of love, loss and regret but with a tinge of defiance just hanging around in the background. John Smith is a talent, no doubt, and I look forward to the album, also called 'Great Lakes' confusingly enough.

Live Dates:

22nd May - Chorlton Arts Festival, Crewe

31st May - Acoustic Festival of Britain, Uttoxeter


Hannah Georgas - Enemies (Dine Alone Records) 
Hannah Georgas - Enemies

Release Date: 10th February 2014

Ms Georgas was one of my favourite finds of 2013 as she drifted ashore among a slew of Canadian talent so it's delightful news that she's coming to Europe for a fairly extensive tour. The single that accompanies the tour is 'Enemies' which is a gorgeously poppy affair with the indie nous of Fesit, Metronomy or Bat For Lashes. The undulating electronic bleeps and bloops are subtly underplayed as the beats keep the time but feel like they could fall over at any moment, like an exhausted middle distance runner approaching the finish line. Georgas' voice is as velvety smooth and cucumber cool as ever it was which is the real point here. I expect the live shows to be an indie-pop triumph with the Hannah Georgas playing the reluctant star, taking centre stage but being overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the crowds on a nightly basis. Don't let me (or her) down, people.

Live Dates:

Supporting City & Colour
21st January - O2 Academy, Newcastle
25th January - O2 Academy, Leeds
26th January - O2 Academy, Glasgow
28th January - Apollo, Manchester
30th January - O2 Academy, Birmingham
31st January - Hammersmith Apollo, London
1st February - Nick Ryans, Norwich
3rd February - O2 Academy, Bournemouth
4th February - Dome, Brighton
5th February - Trabendo, Paris
7th February - Bierhubeli, Bern
8th February - Posthof, Linz
9th February - The Roxy, Prague
11th February - Capitol, Hannover
14th February - O13, Tilberg
16th February - Ancienne Belgique, Brussels
17th February - Live Music Hall, Cologne
18th February - Longhorn, Stuttgart
19th February - Tonhalle, Munich
21st February - Huxley's, Berlin
22nd February - Docks, Hamburg
24th February - Vega, Copenhagen
25th February - Rockefeller, Oslo

26th February - Berns, Stockholm