Wednesday, 30 April 2014

KASSASSIN STREET - SINGLE REVIEW

Kassassin Street - The Royal Handkerchief Ballet 
Kassassin Street - The Royal Handkerchief Ballet

Release Date: 26th May 2014

As pretentious titles go, 'The Royal Handkerchief Ballet' is pretty high up the ladder but there's probably worse out there. Either way, this new single from Southsea quintet is a triumph in moody, sinister indie-rock that makes you want to dance like a loon or at least stare menacingly at that girl with the black nail varnish across the room. The Mediterranean guitars and rhythms mixed with Middle-Eastern melodies blend superbly to create a smoky, mysterious atmosphere that reminds me of the first time I heard U2's 'Even Better Than The Real Thing' which may not sound like a huge compliment to some but that was a definite turning point in my musical education. Bottom line? This is infectious stuff with a serious groove underlying the hypnotic melodies which, if there is any justice in the world, should at least pop up in a cool film to provide the music for a car chase or training montage.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/kassassinstreet

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvmmh6T1Weo

Live Dates:
3rd May - The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
6th May - The Alexandra, Southampton
16th May - 93 Feet East, London
15th June - Isle Of Wight festival, Isle Of Wight

24th August - Victorious Festival, Portsmouth 

THE PICTISH TRAIL - SINGLE REVIEW

The Pictish Trail - Wait Until (Moshi Moshi Records) 
The Pictish Trail - Wait Until

Old blue eyes is back and, apart from looking like a Scottish Joaquin Phoenix, The Pictish Trail is also highly talented at creating understated things of beauty. 'Wait Until' sees our weather beaten hero create a soulful, moving ditty with nothing more than a gravelly electro bass melody, the sound of two wooden spoons being played on a peg-leg and a bit of whale music. The real beauty of The Pictish Trail, however, is that this is electronic music created with the ethos of folk running through it and you can imagine this single being played out on a series of improbable highland instruments as much as you can hear it as a sequence of electronically produced noises. And they do say, the sign of a good song is whether you can play it on the bagpipes or not.

More information: http://thepictishtrail.com/

Live Dates:

3rd May - Brew At The Bog, Bogbain w/Tuff Love + Kid Canaveral + Randolph's Leap
4th May - The Big Beach Ball, Aberdeen w/Tuff Love
5th May - Spirit of Speyside Festival, Elgin w/Tuff Love
7th May - The Redd Suite, Dundee w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
9th May - Night'n'Day, Manchester w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
10th May - Prince Albert, Stroud w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
11th May - St Dominic's Social Club, Newcastle w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
16th May - The Old Bookshop, Bristol w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
17th May - The Old Bookshop, Bristol w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
17th May - South Streets Arts, Reading w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
18th May - Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, London
19th May - Junction 2, Cambridge w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
21st May - The Tin Music & Arts, Coventry w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
22nd May - The Railway, Winchester w/ Tuff Love + Monoganon
24th May - The Continental, Preston w/Tuff Love + Monoganon
25th May - Bowlers Bar, Glasgow w/Tuff Love + Monoganon

1st August - Cloudspotting Festival, Blackburn

PHILIP CLOUTS QUARTET - ALBUM REVIEW

Philip Clouts Quartet - The Hour Of Pearl (Point Records) 
Philip Clouts Quartet - The Hour Of Pearl

There are various combinations of words that tend to make me shudder: Conservative Party, Light Mayonnaise, Mediterranean Cruise, Celery Stick.....Contemporary Jazz. In defence of the Philip Clouts Quartet, they are only responsible for the last of these combinations but it's still makes me feel a little bit like I did on my first day at school - nervous and highly likely to run away screaming if giving half a chance. But regular readers should know by now that I will give anything a fair hearing so I'm going to pull on my turtle neck sweater and my corduroy slacks before popping the headphones on.

'The Hour Of Pearl' opens with 'Riptide' with rippling piano melodies and a smoky sax that makes me think of a seedy, downbeat New York detective walking the streets at night just because he's got nothing better to do. Next up is 'On West Hill' which is a more laid back affair but still heavily focused on the piano and saxophone combination which keeps making me expect an American chat show to start. 'Delta' is the first tune that really grabs my attention with the slightly off kilter piano lines and more subtle saxophone work that lets the piano take centre stage for once. The wonderfully title 'Flamingo-ing' starts off with some groovy, almost Cuban double-bass work and then the piano and sax dance along in harmony together creating the kind of music you might expect at the beginning of a Steve Martin rom-com.

Title track 'The Hour Of Pearl' is a more sombre, stormy affair in the style of Ludovico Einaudi while 'Clef Mona' as a light piece of sax and piano interplay. I hate to say it but I still find it incredibly difficult to get excited about this kind of music despite the obvious musical talent on display and passion for the craft. 'As Evening Falls' is another dusky, sax based piece while final track 'Nyasa Lullaby' features some lovely rolling piano and that smooth sax once again. If you want something relaxing to listen to and you find the sound of a saxophone restful then this might just be for you but I'm sorry to say that it's not my cup of tea. You can't win them all I suppose.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/philipcloutsquartet

Listen/Download: https://philipclouts.bandcamp.com/album/the-hour-of-pearl

Live Dates:

1st May - Maidment Auditorium, Shrewsbury
2nd May - Beehive Arts Centre, Honiton
3rd May - Stogumber Hall, Somerset
20th May - Art Bar @ The Bullingdon, Oxford
21st May - Span Jazz Dingle Club, Pembrokeshire
12th June - Creative Innovation Centre, Taunton
13th June - Hope Hall, Exeter

4th July - Wigmore Hall, London

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

OCTAGON COURT - EP REVIEW

Octagon Court - Octagon Court EP 
Octagon Court - Octagon Court EP

Release Date: 19th May 2014

Before I go any further; do my eyes deceive me or is this the first piece of cover art that features an E-cigarette? This is a sign of the times, for sure, but whether it's a good sign or not is up to you. It doesn't quite look as cool as a cigarette dangling from the mouth of a snarling punk rocker but it certainly grabs your attention. Octagon Court are a South London duo who seem to channel the likes of Sparks, Roxy Music and Stephen Fry in creating what can only be described as posh-pop. Opening track 'The Sheltering Sky' starts with a bouncing bass line that's straight out of an 80s rom-com before the pulsating beat comes in and the deep, velvety vocals are poured over the top, Bryan Ferry style. Bizarrely, 'Bring Her In', starts with steel drums and synthetic horns which you wouldn't necessarily expect from South London but with the moody synth sounds and carnival rhythms it kinda works. It really kinda works. Just for another twist, 'Bueno' kicks in with  darkly furious Django Django-esque guitars, hand claps and rhythms with eccentric vocals adding some extra spice to your burrito. So, in the grand spirit of eccentric English pop (see Sparks, Pet Shop Boys, Roxy Music and so on) Octagon Court have heralded their arrival and their intent to party on and have a thoroughly good time before heading home for a sherry, a comfortable leather chair and a puff on a pipe.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/Octagoncourt

Live Dates:

29th April - Power Lunches, London w/Fiodor Dream Dog

6th June - Peckham Liberal Club, London

NINE INCH NAILS - CONCERT PREVIEW

Nine Inch Nails + Cold Cave - Live @ The O2 Arena, 23rd May 2014 
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks Tour

I came to Nine Inch Nails quite late on, via Johnny Cash, but when you start to look at the volume of work that Trent Reznor and co. have amassed and the consistent level of quality you can't help but be impressed. Revolutionaries in the industrial genre, NIN are famed for their incendiary shows and now they're bringing that experience to the UK for a series of shows, the highlight of which will be their appearance at The O2, London. These guys have been doing this since 1988 so you know they're going to be pretty well rehearsed and, if you ask really nicely, they might even do some requests. Inevitably, though, the band will be up on stage to promote their latest album, 'Hesitation Marks', as well as taking us through the highlights of their extensive back catalogue.

Supporting NIN on tour will be Cold Cave, aka Wesley Eisold. Cold Cave is something of a pioneer himself in the field of Dark Wave music which should make for a moody and scene setting opening to the concert (not to mention a cheap support band in terms of carrying equipment around). Anyway, what I'm basically saying is that this looks like an awesome show from one of the last remaining great rock acts of our time. I think you know what to do.


More information/Tickets: http://www.theo2.co.uk/event/nine-inch-nails-2014-20140523.html 

HANA PIRANHA - SINGLE REVIEW

Hana Piranha - Back Again (Animal Farm) 
Hana Pirhana - Back Again

Release Date: 12th May 2014

Always intriguing and engaging, Hana Piranha is back with another single ahead of the debut album and this time it's got a big, big sound. 'Back Again' is full of huge, distorted Placebo-esque guitars playing almost Eastern European sounding melodies and pounding drums that sound like they want to break down some walls. Hana Piranha's vocal performance is part PJ Harvey and part Courtney Love with a real sense of menace and mischief behind the delivery. There are some trademark violins which I'm not sure really work on this song but the upshot is that is music for dominatrix (and yes that is the proper plural term, I Googled it and everything) their clients who love all things abrasive. That last sentence was intended as a compliment by the way, just to clarify that.

More information: http://www.hanapiranha.com/

Live Dates: 

7th May - New Cross Inn, London (FREE)
9th May - Great Escape Festival @ The Tube, Brighton
13th May - Forty Two, Worthing

26th May - SOWK, Richmond (ACOUSTIC)

Monday, 28 April 2014

CHASING DRAGONS - SINGLE REVIEW

Chasing Dragons - Broken Jaws (Trash Unreal Management) 
Chasing Dragons - Broken Jaws

Release Date: 5th May 2014

Shit a brick! This new single from Leeds quartet Chasing Dragons starts like a kick in the face only to find that the foot belongs to [insert your sexual fantasy here] and they're wearing nothing but a smile and whipped cream. 'Broken Jaws' starts with an ominous drum riff before guitarist Mitch breaks out the mother of all chops and suddenly I want to be wearing a lot of denim and leather with improbably angled hair. This is powerful, relentless stuff drawing on classics like Iron Maiden but giving it a modern, US inspired twist as vocalist Tank shows off her impressive vocals skills which go from sweet and melodic to screeching and wailing. Proceedings finish up with a reprise of THAT riff which is fricking awesome and then you realise it was all a dream and you have just been nuzzling a chair leg and muttering "oh Uma....". Awesome, awesome stuff.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/musicchasingdragons

Live Dates:

2nd May - The Parish, Huddersfield (unplugged)
14th June - Salutation, Nottingham
21st June - The Riverside, Selby
26th June - Corporation, Sheffield

27th June - Rhyl, Wales

STRANGERS - SINGLE REVIEW

Strangers - Wolf At The Door 
Strangers - Wolf At The Door

Release Date: 2nd June 2014

Strangers are a duo from Northampton building a reputation for themselves in the field of classy electro pop. Now, Northampton and dance music isn't a combination that fills me with great hope but I'm always willing to be swayed. 'Wolf At The Door' has a Delphic meets Bastille feel to it and you can entirely imagine it popping up on a Now That's What I Call Music compilation before too long. Breathless vocals trip out over some luscious electro melodies and a suave beat to create the kind of dance music that can only have a music video featuring lots of moody shots of the band staring out over a fast moving city at night. Call it Indie-electro, call it articulate-pop, call it anthemic-dance. Call it whatever you want but just give it a listen and enjoy it for the blissful experience it is.


More information: http://www.strangersmusic.co.uk/

ROYKSOPP & ROBYN - SINGLE REVIEW

Royksopp & Robyn - Do It Again 
Royksopp & Robyn - Do It Again

Release Date: 28th April 2014

It's not often that bona fide pop royalty knocks on the door of LWM towers (metaphorically, of course) but when Royksopp and Robyn call round for a cup of sugar the very least you can do is give their new collaborative work a wee listen. 'Do It Again' is the warning shot of a single from the album that comes out in May and boy oh boy is it huge. From the get-go the pulsing beat, dubstep bass and trance melodies hit you with full force to get even those in traction bobbing their heads and jerking their limbs. Oh, and then there's Robyn's breathy vocal urging you to let go of your inhibitions and, in her words, "the thing you did, just do it again". The lyrics might not be Shakespeare but this is an absolutely storming dance single fronted by one of the all time great pop vocalists. Be prepared to do your nut to this at festivals all over the world this summer: hedonism just found a new soundtrack.

More information:

Live Dates:

13th June - Sonar Festival, Spain
14th June - Northside Festival, Denmark
26th June - Marymoor Park, Seattle
28th June - Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco
29th June - Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
18th July - Melt Festival, Germany
19th July - Latitude Festival, UK
8th August - Oya Festival, Norway
9th August - Way Out West, Sweden
15th August - Pukkelpop, Belgium
20th August - Pier 97, New York
21st August - Wolftrap, Washington DC

22nd August - HB Pavilion, Boston

Sunday, 27 April 2014

MAIA - EP REVIEW

Maia - Finite World EP 
Maia - Finite World EP 

Release Date: 28th April 2014

Apparently Huddersfield bands are like buses in that you don't see any for ages, then two come along in quick succession and you can't decide which one you like best. Maia are a quartet of paisley shirted gentlemen with a genuinely refreshing and spine tingling EP ready for your hearty consumption. Opening up with 'Small High Whistle From A Bird', you are initially required to decide whether this is an Alt-J inspired affair or is it more like Lemon Jelly acoustic? Either way, it's superb and the high vocal harmonies with only the gentlest of guitar accompaniment on an opening is both brave and a real signal of intent to the listener - we're in for something special here. 'Milky Boy' is up next and the Alt-J comparisons are there again but there is a playfulness and whimsy that is hard to resist as the chorus "la-la-las" it's way in to your hearts via your ears (it's a valid route, I've checked). Track three, 'Maisie', is probably my favourite as it starts off like an ill-conceived keyboard demo from the early 90s before a banjo enters from stage left and the summery vibes waft over tales of childhood love and Sliding Doors-esque thoughts of different paths of life. The EP closes on the title track, 'Finite World', which is a brass based, Mariachi-lite tale that should be heard drifting from the doorways of a small Latin American town where lusty couples spill on to the streets and the smell of fertility in the air. As I said at the beginning, genuinely refreshing and invigorating stuff which is so rare these days. I wholeheartedly recommend you download a copy and strap yourself in for the ride - the paisley shirt is optional.


More information: https://www.facebook.com/maiatheband?rf=105980909433817

ALEX GREGORY - EP REVIEW

Alex Gregory - One Of The Same Kind EP 
Alex Gregory - One Of The Same Kind

I met young Alex Gregory a few weeks ago in Exeter where she was good enough to hand me a copy of her new EP, 'One Of The Same Kind'. That EP has been firmly lodged in my car's CD player ever since and I have only just been able to bring myself to bring the CD in to the house to review it. Quite simply, Alex Gregory is a supreme talent with  voice that just won't quit and the ability to surprise you at every turn. 'May To September' is the first track on this collection of five and within moments you can see why Ms Gregory has already received so much attention. The laid back, summery acoustic guitar provides a beautifully chilled bed upon which Alex's voice unfurls like a cat luxuriating in the early summer sun before a gentle beat and nudging bass line join in to flesh the song out and let the vocals soar. There is a Brother & Bones meets Mumford & Sons folkishness to 'A Story' as Alex explores her darker side with some low piano notes and lightly picked out acoustic guitar notes keeping things simple but oh so effective.

On 'Black Books' our talented heroine switches to a piano melody which could easily be Florence Welch or early Ellie Goulding as Alex's voice (which I am now firmly in love with) shows new depth, range and emotional evocativeness. My only criticism of this EP is the title track is buried too far down as it is such a huge tune and shows off Alex's ability to take things to a more up-tempo place. 'One Of The Same Kind' has a light, Crowded House-esque melody but Alex's vocal is dark and menacing as she pleads with the object of her desires that "In the end you'll see, you should be with me" - I'm sure this is meant as an expression of frustrated, unrequited love but does sound ever so slightly stalkerish. It is on this song that you really start to see how this talented lady has the natural ability to craft a song, write lyrics that don't follow a predictable path and create a hook that makes you come back for more and more. And more. Final track, 'Sinking', is a gentle piece of acoustic beauty that allows us to revel in Gregory's lush vocal tones and imagine slowly drifting on a still lake as the warm breeze brushes past until that unpredictability comes in to play again and things are kicked up a notch before gradually dying away. It is always enormously gratifying when you come across a genuinely talented musician in this game but it is particularly pleasing when that musician comes from your neck of the woods as well. I would urge you to check out Alex Gregory when you've got half an hour to properly let the music and words sink in - this is not fast food stuff, this is quality home cooking at its best.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/AlexGregoryMusic

Live Dates:


7th June - Castlewood Wine Festival, Axminster 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

BISCUIT MOUTH - SINGLE REVIEW

Biscuit Mouth - Roll Into The Dancer 
Biscuit Mouth - Roll Into The Dancer

Biscuit Mouth is the sound of a Texas oil tycoon who has lost all his money and decided to spend his last days getting industrial strength wasted in Glasgow, only pausing to scream at lampposts and small dogs. The guttural rumble of bass and drums that runs through 'Roll Into The Dancer' is like raw, untapped energy but it's the vocal yelps and broken glass guitars that gives this song a real Pixies feel. Much as the Pixies are a Marmite band, not everyone will like Biscuit Mouth but even if you don't enjoy the music you will surely have to agree that the video is a lot of fun as it features a perverted car who likes to watch pale skinned men in blue shorts dance in the unforgiving glare of its headlights. Don't believe me? Then you're a fool.

More information/Free Download: http://biscuitmouth.bandcamp.com/


Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAkhBBu18LM

THOUGHT BENEATH FILM - ALBUM REVIEW

Thought Beneath Film - Cartographers (Slaight Music/MapleMusic Recordings) 
Thought Beneath Film - Cartographers

First things first, I want to congratulate Thought Beneath Film on their cover art which is just splendid. So many artists recently seem to have just taken a picture of some branches on instagram and put the title of the album on it thinking that this is arty. It's not. It's just shit and unimaginative. Hamilton trio Thought Beneath Film, however, have an album cover that it is as striking and engaging as their music. The debut album kicks off at full throttle with the Foo Fighters-esque 'Cartographers' before 'The Art Of Giving Up' rocks up like We Are Scientists covering a Taylor Swift song which works way better than it should. Front man Brent Wirth's vocals are that pure, Atlantic tone that Fall Out Boy had such success with and this is in great evidence on the stomping 'If I Could Fix You (You Know That I Would)' and the party swagger of 'False Skin'.

There's something of Blink 182, Sum 41 or Weezer about songs like 'Maybe I'm  A Chump' and 'Hearts On Overdrive' but it's the attention to melody that makes these songs work so well and makes them so commercially viable. 'Paper Trails' sounds like a prog-punk carousel turned up too fast while Rick Wakeman laughs at the children maniacally before the sinister, Interpol-esque tones of 'Sixty-Six' chime in with the most aggressive shoo-bops you've ever heard. As these three bring things towards a close there's just time for 'Magnet' to make the Twilight generation swoon in unison and for 'This Time' to an anthemic, room-bouncing, triumphant finale. Thought Beneath Film are a band that could, with a fair wind and a bit of luck, be absolutely huge on an international scale. They have melodies, hooks, riffs, engaging lyrics and the clean sound that will shift mega units with the right marketing. Oh, and they've got great artwork, did I mention that?


More information: https://www.facebook.com/thoughtbeneathfilm?fref=ts

RING RING ROUGE - ALBUM REVIEW

Ring Ring Rouge - Head Full Of Fog (Jack To Phono Records) 
Ring Ring Rouge - Head Full Of Fog

Release Date: 28th April 2014

It's not often you come across a band with two members with the surname Starr but it's even less often that you find a band with a member called Clive. Nothing against Clives in general but it's just not the most rock'n'roll of names. Then again, Radiohead have a Colin and Reef had a Kenwyn so I guess I'll just have to get over my prejudices. This album by the Burnley quartet opens with 'In The Morning', a song that starts with a sleepy, countrified guitar riff that feels like a warm hug after a long night shift as the rich vocals waft gently through the air. 'Never Leave Home' follows and instantly the pace is lifted immediately as the band embrace their tender, anthemic indie side before 'Lost And Found' strolls in like a prodigal son returning to the small town saloon.

Ring Ring Rouge populate that area of moodily uplifting indie rock where you'd also find Snow Patrol, Athlete and Coldplay kicking back with a continental lager and plenty of leather jackets. 'Today' is a great example of this genre before 'Interval' features the spoken word tales of a broadly accented northern lady accompanied by some gentle guitar and the sound of rain. 'Strangers' has an Elvis Costello ballad feel to it while 'Dr Feelgood' starts with some unaccompanied vocals before the band join in with some full on, swaggering rock'n'roll which nobody was expecting (much less the mental fairground music that closes the track). Album title track 'Head Full Of Fog' is a sweeping yet understated indie epic that swells to a beautifully emotional climax.

As we approach the tail end of the album, Ring Ring Rouge come up with another surprise in the dark, brooding melodies of 'Play On' which has gorgeous bass line and a beat that does just enough to move things forward without over playing it's part. 'Round Here' has a lilting, Crowded House feel which is familiar and comfortable while closing track 'House' starts with the sound of a brass ensemble before a stadiums sized guitar riff rings out like a sinister omen of things to come. Ring Ring Rouge are one of those bands that you will enjoy listening to and will reveal new things every time you listen to them but, for some inexplicable reason, I can't quite find enough of a hook on this album to believe this will take off in the way the band perhaps deserve. I do like to be proved wrong though...

More information: https://www.facebook.com/ringringrouge?fref=ts

Live Dates:

9th May - Puzzle Hall, Sowerby Bridge
15th May - Bare Arts, Todmorden (Acoustic)

14th June - The Woodman, Burnley

Friday, 25 April 2014

PALE FIRES - EP REVIEW

Pales Fires - Louring Skies (Toonteen Industries) 
Pale Fires - Louring Skies EP

Time to get a little psyched out now as Camden boys Pale Fires are here to present their debut EP and, get this, it's totally free to download. That's a whole seven track EP that'll cost you absolutely zip - let's hope it's good. Emerging out of a swamp of noise is the opening track 'Come Closer' which is a mid-tempo piece of space rock that blurs the line between Haight-Ashbury and Madchester with great aplomb. 'So Soon' follows on with a sunny, optimistic guitar hook that the Verve might have let Richard Ashcroft grumble over while 'Intermission' starts off like finding Keith Moon and Robert Plant jamming in the back room of your local curry house only for indecipherable yelps to start leaking out of the walls as you regret that eighth pint of Cobra.

One theme so far has been some really strong yet smooth bass playing which falls at exactly the right place in the mix and this is apparent again in the Verve meets Kasabian wig-out of 'Burn Alone'. Just for a bit of variety, along comes 'Intermission (The Egg)' which sounds a little bit like Enya but give me some giant scatter cushions, a kaftan, a hooka pipe and I reckon I could really, really get in to this - ya dig? Title track 'Louring Skies' is a gentler but clearer tune than the others that builds slowly, like a sunrise creeping over the horizon before bursting the anticipation by flooding the sky with glorious, warm light. The EP finishes up with 'Sky Dance', the most mainstream track on the album and one that you could easily hear wafting down the corridors of the coolest underground venues at any time between the late 60s and now. I can't help feeling that these guys have got better songs in them but in terms of creating a vibe and some immense, psyched out hooks then you really don't need to look any further than Pale Fires.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/palefiresuk?fref=ts

Listen/Free Download: http://palefires.bandcamp.com/releases

Live Dates:


6th June - The Hunter Club, Bury Saint Edmunds

BILLY MOON - EP REVIEW

Billy Moon - Young Adult EP 
Billy Moon - Young Adult EP

Coming at you like a steam train straight outta Hamilton, Canada, is Billy Moon - a band, not just a man. The EP kicks off with 'Kalashnikov', a tune that could be We Are Scientists demoing new songs in their garage as they experiment with grunge ideas. By the time the drum intro to 'Bad Kids' is on its second loop you know that these guys play hard and party hard as the bluesy, fuzzy guitars cut through the thin night air like a chainsaw through mayonnaise. 'King Of The Sun' is a weird new genre of grunge-lounge-pop but I'm pretty sure it's what all the kids in Vegas are listening to these days while new single 'Video Girl' is a Beach Boys style ode to the wonders of pornography which features the lyric "Any moment that I'm feelin' down take her out of my pocket, cause that girl, yeah she's a rocket". Final track 'The Days Are Just Packed' is a deliciously scuzzed up folk song that reminds me of early White Stripes and makes me want to dance some weird jig that is somewhere between a mosh and Irish dancing. Holding my hands up, I didn't expect much of this EP but it's actually been an entirely pleasant experience and I'd like to see these guys on a bill with my boys from Reno, Failure Machine. Keep the good stuff coming over the Atlantic boys.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/IAmBillyMoon


Download/Listen: http://billymoon.bandcamp.com/ 

JUNGLE DOCTORS - EP REVIEW

Jungle Doctors - Open Up EP 
Jungle Doctors - Open Up EP

This three track EP has made me feel a little dumb tonight because upon first listen I had that feeling where you're convinced you've heard the tunes before. It then dawned on me that this is because I kinda have. The Open Up EP is a line in the sand as it features the band's two recent singles 'Dry' and 'Falling' which are huge, up-tempo indie-pop songs, either one of which should be big hits in a world where the Kooks and the Hoosiers are professional musicians. The track that is new to me here is 'Late' which follows along the same lines with some airy guitars, bouncing beats and a real sense of top down, arms in the air, summer fun that makes this an extremely well timed release. Go get you some finely crafted British indie-pop and blast it out the next time your cruising down the street....or stuck in a traffic jam. Either way, it will make you feel better.
More information: http://www.jungledoctors.com/

Live Dates:

10th May - Brighthelm @ The Great Escape Festival, Brighton

5th July - Blissfields Festival

THE PENELOPES - FREE DOWNLOAD REVIEW

The Penelopes - Time To Shine 
The Penelopes - Time To Shine

I hadn't come across The Penelopes until they recently remixed The Cure but now they're back with some of their own stuff and I, for one, can't wait to hear it. New single 'Time To Shine' is the most 80s tune to have been released outside of the 80s and is possibly more 80s than many things actually released in the 80s. Imagine, if you will, Yello remixing a Duran Duran tune that was written with the express intention of being the theme tune for a Japanese cartoon that was being dubbed in to American-English to sell a mountain of plastic toys. This get's you somewhere close to the joyousness that is 'Time To Shine' but before you get too close you'll be swept away by the wall of synths, crazy electro noises and vocals that mix between menacing growls and life affirming choruses. If you didn't like the 80s then steer clear, if you like things uptempo and positive with a perfectly measured sense of nostalgia then you've just found your new favourite band.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/thepenelopesmusic?fref=ts


Free Download: https://soundcloud.com/thepenelopes/timetoshine 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

SUCH SIGHTS - SINGLE REVIEW

Such Sights - In Her Name (Ambicon Records) 
Such Sights - In Her Name

I still haven't got the hang of band naming rules in the hardcore/metalcore scene, it seems to be either a random collection of words, an overly long sentence or, in this case, the sort of phrase that an outraged Nan might utter. And yet, there still isn't a band called Funbags or Hunters Chicken. Either way, the South Yorkshire quintet are a furious bunch and 'In Her Name' does a fine job of fusing some speed metal beats, chunky riffs and a front man that can go from a roar to a soft whisper with the flick of a tattooed wrist. This is a big song that will undoubtedly go do down well in the dark, sweaty rock clubs it is intended for but the video seems a bit of a poor fit to me. Instead of something moody, dark and brooding the guys are larking about in a disused office putting pictures of Page 3 stunners on the wall and riding bikes with shopping baskets tied to them. So, great music for those who like things heavy and heartfelt but the video perhaps belongs in the Britpop era.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/suchsightsband


BAT AND BALL - SINGLE REVIEW

Bat And Ball - Stops My Mouth (Hospital Samples/Kissability) 
Bat And Ball - Stops My Mouth

Release Date: 28th April 2014

South-East Londoners Bat And Ball are the latest band I've had recently who appear to have to built up a great reputation, buzz and a bit of a following without having that much information out there for consumption. I've heard recently that the trend is to have as few followers on Facebook/Twitter as possible so as to be truly underground but this smacks a little of cool for cool's sake to me. Regardless of this, Bat And Ball have created something lushly seductive in 'Stops My Mouth' full of muted guitars, sombre piano notes and the caramel smooth vocals of Abi Sinclair. Elements of Dutch Uncles, Delphic, New Order and St Etienne mingle with continental tones and a Scandinavian sense of quirk that is utterly delectable. You can see where the buzz is coming from and, thankfully, it's all down to the music rather than the haircuts or who they're sleeping with. Although, a romantic liaison with, say, Ross Kemp would at least propel them in the tabloid celebrity pages if they were so inclined.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/batandballband

Live Dates:


28th April - Single Release @ Shacklewell Arms, London w/Ticktock + White Fever

PAU - EP REVIEW

Pau - Paupulism EP 
Pau - Paupulism EP
Pau are a quartet from Hamburg which is confusing me as I once spent a freezing weekend in Hamburg but have also spent some sunny times in the French town of Pau. What temperature should I listen to this music at? Tricky. Either way, this three track EP kicks off with 'Class Will Show' which is a gently bouncing piece of indie fun somewhere between Dutch Uncles and Soulwax but with a particularly Germanic feel. The growl of the bass that introduces 'In The Flashlight' is soothed by the keys and calm, Teutonic vocals before the Young Knives-esque guitars chime in for a piece of the action. 'Runner' completes proceedings with a dark, moody vibe and some fantastic, Kraftwerk style key sounds. There aren't really any stadium anthems here but I don't think that's what Pau were going for as they've created an EP that will go down a storm with indie purists and, I predict, would be particularly popular in Manchester. Prove me wrong, why don't you...


More information: http://www.paupulism.com/

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

KNUCKLE - SINGLE REVIEW

Knuckle - Living Hell 
Knuckle - Living Hell

There is something special about a great band name and for me Knuckle is a cracking band name. I don't know why but it just leaps off the page at me...to punch me in the face perhaps or just sinisterly brush my face while I sleep. Either way, it's a great name. Knuckle are a duo from Huddersfield (or 'Uddersfield as the locals call it) and 'Living Hell' is a slice of dirty, raunchy, bluesy rock pie. There's nothing revolutionary here but just as that old guy down the local in the leather jacket always manages to pull, this music will always make people want to rock out. The Black Keys is the obvious to comparison to make but with a British twist in the shape of the Who or Led Zep. Immensely noisy stuff for a two piece and so dirty you'd need a hot girl in a pair of Daisy Dukes to sponge it down but she'd be pregnant before the job was even half done. If you followed any of that you're a better man than I am but the bottom line is that this rocks and you should get it in your life.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/weareknuckle?ref=ts&fref=ts

Live Dates:

26th April - Carpe Diem, Leeds
3rd May - Milo, Live @ Leeds Festival
25th May - Puzzfest, Sowerby Bridge
30th May - Coffee Evolution, Huddersfield


WILD SMILES - SINGLE REVIEW

Wild Smiles - Fool For You (Sunday Best) 
Wild Smiles - Fool For You

Up for something fun and free? No, I'm not offering you a hand job, I'm here to introduce you to the ridiculously infectious rock-pop trio Wild Smiles. I don't know a huge amount about these guys but what I do know is that they have a huge amount buzz surrounding them and, on the basis of this one song, that buzz is justified. 'Fool For You' is a delightful entree which comes in at a little over two minutes but in that time manages to take the dark spirit of the Jesus & Mary Chain and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club only to splice it with the pop sensibilities of the Beach Boys or early Beatles. From the get-go this is full of up-tempo beats, dirty (seriously, filthy) guitars and perky if not a little sleazy vocals. These guys are going to be massive this summer but whether they are bigger for longer will depend on whether they have any other songs. I'm pretty sure they do though, they don't seem like one song guys.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/WILD.SMILES.the.band/

Free Download: https://www.facebook.com/WILD.SMILES.the.band/app_208195102528120

Live Dates:

1st May - Mark Beaumont Presents @ The Monarch, London
20th May - White Heat Club @ Madame Jo Jo's, London
22nd May - Old Blue Last, London

28th May - The Barfly, London

KRISTY AND THE KRAKS - EP REVIEW

Kristy And The Kraks - "s/t" EP (Totally Wired Records) 
Kristy And The Kraks - s/t EP

All female duo Kristy And The Kraks are made up of Kate Kristal and Ana Threat coming straight outta Vienna with their raw, scratchy garage pop. The tremulous guitars and stomping beat of 'I Don't Love You No More' provide the perfect foil for the double act's harmonious caterwauling. 'Twentyone' follows hot on the heels with 42 seconds of basic riffage and the kind of grunts that a bored female tennis player might make. The spookily seductive picking of 'No No No No No' soon gives way to low moans and some slightly angular guitar melodies. The final track is 'Suicide' which sounds like a one man band falling down a staircase with some fortuitous melodies happening on each step. I'm fairly sure Kristy And The Kraks are pretty cool and very much at all the best parties but I can't help but feel that this music works better in a small, dark club full of people wearing sunglasses at midnight.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/kristykraks?fref=ts


10th May - BLA, Bonn

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

PETITE MELLER - SINGLE REVIEW

Petite Meller - Backpack 
Petite Meller - Backpack

Release Date: 28th April 2014

Ugh, here's another absurdly talented and beautiful musician who is taking up more than her fair share of seats on the fame train. Between modelling for L'Oreal, Vogue and Nylon, French chanteuse Meller has managed to rack up support dates with the likes of Mark Ronson and Hurts and this slick pop influence is indiscriminately slathered all over new single 'Backpack'. There's a moment when you think this is going to be awful as some Kenny G-esque saxophone cuts loose and suddenly it's the early 90s all over again. However, generally speaking, Meller's cutesy vocals and summery vibes with a hint of Kate Bush's theatrics make this an engaging and intriguing piece of pop. Expect to hear it on an advert for shampoo soon, no doubt.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/PetiteMellerOfficial


MINA TINDLE - SINGLE REVIEW

Mina Tindle - I Command (Believe Recordings) 
Mina Tindle - I Command

Fans of the National will, no doubt, recognise Mina Tindle's tones from her work on their 'Boxer' album but, with a second album on the horizon later this year, she is ready to step out in to the spotlight. New single 'I Command' is one part fragility and one part fierce defiance as the piano melody swells and crescendos thanks to the beats, synths and crashing cymbals. Musically, this is something in the realm of Florence + The Machine or Goldfrapp but the deal clincher is Tindle's beautifully unique and captivating voice. There is an impish quality to the vocals but without the oft associated innocence, rather Tindle has a feistiness that you might expect from the likes of 6 Day Riot or the hugely underrated 12 Rounds. Simply put? Gorgeous stuff.

More information:  http://minatindle.com/

Listen/Download: https://soundcloud.com/minatindle/mina-tindle-i-command/s-vufoo

Live Dates:

3rd June - Fleche D'Or, Paris

10th July - Usher Hall, Edinburgh (supporting The National)

UNCONDITIONAL ARMS - EP REVIEW

Unconditional Arms - Virtue Circle (GIANT MKT) 
Unconditional Arms - Virtue Circle

Release Date: 29th April 2014

I reviewed the album by Unconditional Arms a while back and was acutely aware that the album had been written by a new father to his young son. A few months on and along comes a new 7" single, tempered by fatherhood, under the title 'Virtue Circle' and suddenly I'm worried. You see, in around 6 months time I too am going to become a father for the first time and if the sounds that are featured on this record are representative of the mental state of new dads then I'm screwed. I'm reading the books and I've watched Knocked Up a load of times but the ambient sprawl of opening track 'Bear Fruit' shifts from gentle electro landscapes to jerky, guitar lead trip-hop-indie with such alarming ease that I'm seriously concerned for my sanity. Is this was sleep deprivation does to a musician? The B-side, 'Son, Daughter, Daughter', is a much more gentle affair, thankfully. Dusky guitars mingle with spoken-word lyrics that are just out of reach and I can feel the calm returning until...on about two minutes so big drums and razor edged guitar playing cuts through the peace as a bass line grinds ominously in the background. If this is what having children does for your creativity then I'm surprised more musicians haven't eschewed the drugs and settled down in a Bungalow with three kids. Having said that, I'll reserve judgement until I get to see what impact it have on my writing!

More information: https://www.facebook.com/unconditionalarms?fref=ts

Live Dates:


31st May - Sub-mission Art Gallery, San Francisco w/ Wander + Commissure 

SUVI - SINGLE REVIEW

Suvi - Find You (Rabble Records) 
Suvi - Find You

Finnish born but now Swedish resident songstress Suvi is what a tabloid journalist might call quirky. This translates to the rest of the world as original and imaginative which is a wonderful thing. 'Find You' is downbeat pop song in the Lana Del Ray spectrum of things but with a more inspirational, 80s cinema feel to them. In fact, the whole song starts like the montage from an 80s film about a hopeless American football team ready to take on the state champions for the honour of their school. It's all synthetic horns and heraldic melodies before Toto style percussion kicks in and Suvi's sensual, breathy vocals tie the whole thing together like a red silk ribbon on a bottle of reassuringly expensive champagne. Way more interesting than the majority of stuff currently being churned out by the latest gaggle of female pop stars. Call it quirky if you like but there are so many other words to use.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/SuviOfficial?fref=ts

Live Dates:


10th May - Unitarian Church, Brighton 

ALLUSONDRUGS - SINGLE REVIEW

Allusondrugs - Nervous (Clue Records) 
Allusondrugs - Nervous

Release Date: 28th April 2014

Those clever, clever types at Clue Records are back with one of their thoroughbred acts as Allusondrugs are back with their latest single. 'Nervous' opens with some doom laden drums followed by the bellowing of the devil's bagpipes played out on guitar and bass. Allusondrugs could have been an 80s pop-goth band if it weren't for their tendency to get all doomy on your ass. They could have been a metal band if it weren't for their propensity for indie lyrics and quiet verses. In fact, these boys could be anything they want as long as they keep banging out the monster sized riffs and heavy, heavy beats. As a little bonus, this single also features 'Handicapped' which is something like Black Sabbath doing Arctic Monkeys covers as produced by 90s rockers Kerbdog - in other words, it's bonkersly awesome. Finally, there's an acoustic demo of 'Nervous' which adds a whole new layer to the song and puts them in the same league as Reuben, a band I utterly adore for their ingenuity and complexity.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/Allusondrugs

Live Dates:

26th April - The Fenton, Leeds
3rd May - Live At Leeds w/Albert Hammond Jr + Blood Red Shoes
10th May - The Corner Flag, Sunderland w/B Type
17th May - Temple Of Boom, Leeds
23rd May - Bradford Threadfest w/Nadja + Nisennenmondai + Witch Hunt
30th May - The Black Bull, Castleford
31st May - Club 85, Hitchin
1st June - The Wheatsheaf, Oxford
4th June - The Actress & Bishop, Birmingham
5th June - The Herdsman, Hereford
6th June - Forum, Kent
7th June - Lounge 41, Workington
13th June - Warehouse 23, Wakefield
14th June - Vintage Rock Bar, Doncaster
21st June - The Think Tank, Newcastle
27th June - The Black Bull, Castleford
25th July - The Cockpit, Leeds
15th August - Tribfest, Driffield

12th September - Long Division Festival, Wakefield

Thursday, 17 April 2014

JACK WALLEN - EP REVIEW

Jack Wallen - Although EP 
Jack Wallen - Although EP

Mr Jack Wallen is a Cornishman with an impressive beard and pain in his eyes. This is almost enough for me to decide that I love him but I've been fooled before so I'm going to hold back until I've heard the music. This four track EP from the Westcountry troubadour kicks off with the gentle tones of title track 'Although' which immediately shows off Wallen's fragile, wounded vocals with a sense of smoothness that could see him make a passable stab at being a crooner if the mood took him. 'Soles' continues the theme of delicately plucked guitar strings that draw you in only for you to be swept away by the man's sumptuous vocals, drizzled with just the right amount of delay to make the most of his impressive range. As the percussion and strings swell, the song undulates like a tempestuous tide on a rocky beach with a mixture of soul and blues in his voice.

'These Truths' starts with a Motown drum stomp as the only accompaniment to Wallen's voice until the guitar creeps in, almost unnoticed, through the back door of a smoky club. You can entirely imagine Wallen in a dishevelled suit, tie loosened and singing through the smoke and sweat to win back the heart of the indifferent beauty sipping whisky at the bar. The EP closes with the much more sombre 'Wild Enough' which is an almost apologetically shy tune full of break-of-dawn regret and the kind of natural soul that Brother and Bones or Amy Winehouse exude rather than forced showmanship. Wallen is a talented musician and excellent vocalist but, what's more, the guy has natural soul and that is a rare, rare thing these days. Go find him in a dark, intimate bar and keep an eye on which lady he's staring at during the performance - she's broken his heart once and she'll do it again, probably tonight...

More information: http://www.jackwallenmusic.com/

Live Dates:

23rd April - South Devon Arts Centre, Totnes

26th April - Chapel Arts Centre, Bath

Sunday, 13 April 2014

NATHASSIA DEVINE - ALBUM REVIEW

Nathassia Devine - Cosmic (Inter-Dimensional Recordings) 
Nathassia Devine - Cosmic

Release Date: 28th April 2014

Right, this is going to be a bit of a departure from the usual stuff I get sent but that's what makes it all the more exciting. You see, Nathassia is a half Dutch and half Indian dance music creator and vocalist with a big reputation and bags of potential. This album is her calling card to the clubs, radio stations and DJs of the world to show just what she can do. The album starts off with a statement of intent with the minute long 'Creation' that sounds like a thousand radio dials being tuned through a range of songs until everything goes quite and the soft, ominous strings of 'Cosmic' come to the fore and suddenly we're transported to a Balearic island in the heat of the summer. You see, despite Devine's ability to stir up dark, minor keys, this is defiantly meant to be music to dance to so there is no point in ignoring that aspect. 'All In My Head' is up next with a great Eurovision style melody that would have a club jumping in no time while 'Alien Eyes' is an absolutely storming track for the dance floor.

There are some Robert Miles style piano notes at the start of 'You Will Recall' that sees Devine doing her best job of sounding like someone singing a dance version of a minor 80s hit before 'Dark Or Light' takes things to a more unusual place, showing off the Asian influences on the music beautifully. 'Light Of The World' is a nailed on Eurovision winner if the dance routine is good enough because it features just about every regional musical genre and has a message of unifying love - place your bets now. There's a 90s rave flashback on 'Over The Moon', a Euro-pop moment on 'Star Sapphire' and a real Ministry Of Sound feel to 'Centre Of The Sun'. Let's face it, this is euphoric, uplifting and unashamedly a little bit cheesy. If you're in the gym, the club, your car on a sunny day or dancing round your kitchen in your pyjamas then this will probably do you a job depending on your musical preferences.

This is an impressive collection of tunes for someone not established in this field of music and 'Telepathically' shows a darker, more Tori Amos-like side to Devine's work until a big (and I mean big) Dubstep bass line takes over and, well, things take a turn for the aggressively seductive. The album finishes with the contradictory 'Destruction', in reply to the opening track, 'Re-Create' which reprises the album's opening melodies superbly. This is a well thought out and constructed collection of songs from which you could pick about 6 songs to release as singles to be successful in the club charts. With a fair wind and a sexy video and you're probably looking at a mainstream smash this summer...mark my words.


More information: https://www.facebook.com/NathassiaDevine?fref=ts 

GLORY GLORY - EP REVIEW

Glory Glory - So Long EP 
Glory Glory - So Long

Release Date: 21st April 2014

Another new Canadian band to get your ears around now in the shape of Halifax trio Glory Glory and their new EP, 'So Long'. The first of the three tracks on this CD is 'Take My Time' which is an instant and joyous slice if indie-pop with sunshine guitars, sexy bass and vocals full of charm and style. These guys would easily make a high school dance go off like Christmas Eve at the Playboy Mansion but there's a certain sincerity about the music that suggests they could easily put together an album full of cracking hooks and tunes as well. Next up is 'Indigo Sun', a song that belongs to the 80s in terms of the gentle, synth heavy melodies and guitars the echo so much you're not sure where they began anymore. Finishing up with 'Everybody Lies', Glory Glory show off their ability to switch styles with ease as they present a song pitched somewhere between Radiohead, latter day Incubus and Black Kids with one of the best indie guitar riffs I've heard in quite a while. I can't get enough of the Canadian music scene at the moment such is the quality but these guys stand out among their peers as being a bit special. All together now, Glory Glory = Hallelujah.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/glorygloryband?fref=ts

Live Dates:


2nd May - The Brink, Liverpool

POETICAT - EP REVIEW

Poeticat - Smash The Floor 
Poeticat - Smash The Floor

Release Date: 5th May 2014

London based spoken word agit-poppers Poeticat are ready to release their first EP containing some previously released singles and some new tracks as well. The EP begins with some coastal sounds before 'Jetty' swoons in to life with some gentle guitars which quickly become more lively and the Kate Nash-esque vocals of Catherine Martindale to rhyme jetty with spaghetti. On 'Centre Of The Concrete Square', things take a turn for the experimental as the throbbing bass line is the only element holding to instrumentation together while the lyrics take on the issues parenting, class and gangs with a good dose of rye clarity. 'Rest Reprise' is sombre and almost folkish in tone while recent single 'Kind Words Soft Kill' is still as intriguing and challenging as the first time I heard it. The EP finishes up with '3rd Arm' which opens with a scuzzed up bass line and a car alarm style vocal before the guitars come chiming in, all Franz Ferdinand, and the band finish up with what is probably their most mainstream song on the album with a pleasing groove but still a huge number of ideas packed in to one song with a punk ethos. Poeticat strike me as the kind of band that will command a strong and dedicated cult following but will never get played on Radio 1....and that's a very good thing to be.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/poeticat1?fref=ts

Live Dates:


10th May - The Canteen, Bristol

EMMA GARRETT - EP REVIEW

Emma Garrett - Emma Garrett EP 
Emma Garrett - Emma Garrett EP

Release Date: 5th May 2014

When you see the words Singer-Songwriter you tend to think of someone hunched over an acoustic guitar, maybe a piano, singing gentle tunes. Emma Garrett is not of this ilk. The three tracks that comprise this EP are passionate, intense and destined for bigger things. Opening track 'Dose Me Up' sees the London based chanteuse combine folk, indie, orchestral and rock styles to create a more organic version of Muse with Alison Moyet on vocals - Alison Moyet with a better range, I might add. The sinister key of 'This Is It' combines superbly with Garrett's breathless vocals to create an Anna Calvi-esque piece of music with a Florence Welch performance. At over thirteen minutes long, this EP is huge considering there are only three tracks but that's where Garrett's classical bent comes in to play as each track is like a movement in its own right. Final track 'Change Your Bones' is perhaps the most accessible of the three with a steady acoustic strum, luscious strings and a vocal melody that the likes of Ellie Goulding would jump on. I'm aware that I've done a lot of comparing Emma Garrett to other female artists (Muse aside) but sometimes you have to put female singer songwriters in to this pigeon hole when they are so strong and innovative. These songs, in the hands of a man, would not have the same resonance or power so it would be unfair to draw that comparison. Intensely beautiful stuff.


More information: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaGarrettSingerSongwriter 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

WHALES IN CUBICLES - SINGLE REVIEW

Whales In Cubicles - We Never Win (Club The Mammoth) 
Whales In Cubicles - We Never Win

Release Date: 5th May 2014

London quartet Whales In Cubicles are back with a new single ahead of an extensive UK tour and I'm running out of superlatives. 'We Never Win' starts off as an angsty, urgent piece of indie-rock but when the chorus arrives it bursts in to life with guitars thrashing, drums crashing and breathless vocals sputtering in to the microphone. This single is billed as a live favourite and I can't help but think that is partly down to the superb energy of the song and partly down to the sheer number of words these guys cram in to the song making it a bit of a lung buster to try singing along to. Whatever the reason, get out to your nearest venue and catch these guys live if you can. It's sure to be messy, sweaty and euphoric - a bit like a rave in a sauna.

More information: http://www.whalesincubicles.com/

Live Dates:

4th May - Handmade Festival, Leicester
7th May - Krakk, Manchester w/Fight Like Apes
8th May - The Duchess, York w/Fight Like Apes
9th May - Oakford Social Club, Reading
10th May - The Great Escape Festival, Brighton
15th May - The Lamplighter, Northampton
16th May - Bunkers Hill, Nottingham
22nd May - Wharf Chambers, Leeds w/More Than Conquerors
23rd May - Adelphi, Hull

5th June - Barfly, London

DAYSDEAF - ALBUM REVIEW

Daysdeaf - When Colour Lost Light 
Daysdeaf - When Colour Lost Light

"The album song titles work as a gradient. Starting from white, the songs are then ordered in the form of the electromagnetic spectrum, then moving to phenomena of light." Call me crazy but that is not a normal statement that you expect to get in a press release from a band, is it? Now, when you're done calling me crazy, call me intrigued because when a band says something different in a press release then there's a fair chance they'll do something different with their music. Daysdeaf are fairly sparse in terms of information but I have deduced that they hail from Toronto and, judging from the opening track, 'White Flags', they are influenced by a range of styles from Hip-Hop and Dubstep to Electro and Soul (I'm going to ignore the annoying chipmunk style vocal effect for now).

As we move through the colours, from 'Silver (Oh Mercury!)' and 'Giving Life To Greys' to 'Purple Thrills' and 'Deep Blue, Deep', it's obvious that Daysdeaf are balancing the beam between kooky electro tunes and wanting to have that big Billboard hit, maybe with someone like Pitbull guesting on rap duties. 'Chasing Green', however, as a Mike Oldfield meets Jean Michel Jarre feel to it before it goes all Linkin Park meets Eminem and then the originality starts to wane. 'Bright Yellow Sun' has an engaging acoustic intro with some jazzy piano and percussion to give you that real south of France feel but again the vocals don't match and that spark is quickly extinguished.

'Tangerine', 'redREd' and the bizarrely titled 'Nazi Pink Triangles' continue the theme of promising ideas never quite being allowed to reach fruition, the latter of the three being somewhere on the lines of Parov Stelar but without the sense of fun. Moving away from the colours and on to the light we have the lullaby chimes of 'Iridescent', the creepily calm tones of 'CMY' and 'Prism' which features one of my least favourite sounds - the clicky, artificial finger snap that dull R'n'B songs always throw in for no good reason. The album finishes with 'Light', a mellow, Lemon Jelly-esque piece of instrumental music. Overall, this is a frustrating album as Daysdeaf obviously have some great ideas and some talent to back it up but the tendency to revert back to angry vocals and over instrumentation sometimes drowns out the spark of originality.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/Daysdeaf


Listen/Download: http://daysdeaf.bandcamp.com/album/when-colour-lost-light 

THE STEINBECKS - ALBUM REVIEW

The Steinbecks - Kick To Kick With The Steinbecks (Matinee Records) 
The Steinbecks - Kick To Kick

Release Date: 22nd April 2014

When I was a kid, I always wanted to live in a lighthouse like the one on the cover of the new album from Australian band the Steinbecks. Then I watched antipodean kids show Round The Twist which was, frankly, mental and I haven't looked at a lighthouse the same way twice. Still, I never judge an album by its cover (Christ, the White Album would be screwed if I did) so let's give these guys a fair listen. 'Homesickness' is the first track and it doesn't immediately grab you as the guitars are non-descript and the vocals seem naively high in the mix which puts me off. 'At Arkaroo Rock' has the same production quality issues so I'm going to try to ignore that and focus on the music which, in this case, is very much Crowded House-lite with some pleasing guitar twangs. On the third track, however, things get a little more interesting with the marvellously titled 'We Cannot Hope To Compete With Such Colours' which has a more lively riff and vocals with a nice delay effect throughout the song.

There's a bluesy, swampy feel to 'Below The Limen' which makes great use of some organ sounds while 'Semblance Of Hope' is a gentle ballad with some ill-advised vocal pitching towards the end. It sounds like I'm getting at the singer here but it frustrates me that nobody has had a word with him during the recording of this album. Ironically, on the next track, 'I, Radio', the singing is pretty much given away in preference of spoken word for a song that flirts with Elvis Costello and Talking Heads. 'Cold Little Bones' is a Mandolin centred melody that never really gathers the pace or emotion you hope it might but then 'Trying To Be Someone' pops in to life with a lively indie rhythm to get things moving again. 'Through The Curtain' is another fairly unremarkable indie track despite the commendable use of keys and penchant for stopping and starting the melody over and over again.

There then follows a slightly odd decision which is to have 'Burning Holes In The Sun', a four minute track with some nice riffs and rhythms taking centre stage for a change, followed by 'Burning Holes In The Sun (Reprise)', another four minutes of instrumental music based on the same motif - odd. 'Kick To Kick' finishes the album off but does nothing to change my mind on this as a collection of songs. There's nothing wrong with these songs, per se, it's just that none of them stick in the memory and the vocal performances don't make for enjoyable listening which is a shame as I was hoping for something good from the Aussies.

More information: http://thesteinbecks.net.au/


Buy The Album: matineerecordings.com