Friday, 30 May 2014

MATTHEW & ME - EP REVIEW

Matthew & Me - Golden Charms EP (Blanket Records) 
Matthew & Me - Golden Charms

Release Date: 16th June 2014

Let's just get one thing out of the way, 'Golden Charms' sounds like a teeth-rottingly sweet cereal made by a chemical company with questionable morals. However, I can't stream cereal through Soundcloud so I'm fairly sure this is music and upon pressing play my suspicions are confirmed. This new EP from Totnes quintet kicks off with the title track, 'Golden Charms', which, after some initial atmospherics and spoken word, explodes in to the kind of song that would absolutely kill in a packed tent at any of the UK's bigger festivals. The balance of this lead track is somewhere between the raw energy of Brother & Bones and the studied song-crafting of the Maccabees or Bombay Bicycle Club. Following on is 'September', a much gentler and more tender song that steers just clear of being featured in a sausage advert but could easily be compared to the likes of Damien Rice, David Kitt or, at a push, Ed Sheeran.

The sweeping, swooning, slightly prog-ish guitars that introduce 'Letters' are a thing of soothing beauty as I write this at nearly 1.00am on a Saturday morning and it's easy to see why so many people are drawn in to the flame of this band and their enigmatic leader, Matthew Board. This third song builds to a cacophonous crescendo as the whole band layer on sounds and ideas like mattresses being piled high in the town square to see if the moon can be reached and pulled down from the sky. The EP finishes up with 'Rose To Find', a sinister and morose song played out on acoustic guitar and a healthy relationship with regret and heartbreak. Matthew & Me are certainly a talented bunch but most importantly they've got the songs to back up the technical talent and then passion to see it through. For fans of Elbow, Brother & Bones, Treetop Flyers and the Maccabees this is hot top for a new favourite. For fans of Mumford & Sons this is an absolute must - you need to hear what else there is out there. This is some fine, fine music....definitely not cereal.

More information: http://matthewandme.co.uk/

Live Dates:

20th June - The Great Hall, Totnes
10th July - The Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London w/The Sea & I
11th July - X & Y Festival, Liverpool w/The Family Rain
18th July - Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury
24th July - Port Eliot Festival, St. Germans
3rd August - Lime Wood, New Forest w/Nizlopi
29th August - Bicton Festival, Devon
18th September - South Devon Arts Centre, Totnes


FRANCIS MACDONALD & HARRY PYE - VIDEO/SINGLE REVIEW

Francis Macdonald & Harry Pye - Sympathy For Jean-Luc Godard 
Francis Macdonald & Harry Pye
- Sympathy For Jean-Luc Godard

So, if you take one member of Teenage Fanclub, force him to collaborate with a London based artist on a series of songs and videos you could reasonably expect this first taster to be gentle, acoustic tinged pop with a Belle and Sebastian tone and some charming black and white animation. Well, expect away because that's exactly what you get with 'Sympathy For Jean-Luc Godard'. The gentle repeated refrain of 'Je t'aime Godard' is a beautifully soft expression of love whilst the counter argument of 'Je n'aime pas Monsieur Guy Ritchie, his films mean nothing to me' shows off the understated sense of humour of Macdonald. One could argue that this goes on a bit at nearly seven minutes in length but if you think about it more as an animated short film with a continuous film then it makes more sense and you'll be able to sleep better at night. Delightful stuff and I look forward to hearing/seeing the rest. Especially if there is a short folk song about just how bad that film 'The Holiday' is. Seriously, that film made me angry on the inside and I can't forgive it for that.

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


Watch The Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGW4QHlm3HY 

LOVESTARRS - TRACK REVIEW

Lovestarrs - Bullet (LAB Records) 
Lovestarrs - Bullet

Now, I don't normally review the odd track that is sent out as a warning shot from an EP or Album but I've got a soft spot for Lovestarrs and I want you to share in my weakness because that makes it feel more normal and less seedy. 'Bullet' will form part of an EP that's due out in August but it is already the best pop song that's been released this year, no diggity. With superhero lyrical themes, the trio channel the raw sex of Goldfrapp, the cool of the Long Blondes and the pop of Sugababes or Girls Aloud at the absolute peak and it's that last point that's so impressive - Lovestarrs are better than some of the UK's biggest pop acts on this track and it's not even a single. Imagine what they could do if they actually tried? This is how pop should be made; with edge, melodies, beats and subtle sex appeal - It's a wink and a lick of the lip rather than a padded cleavage and a grab of the crotch. Superb.

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

Live Dates:

27th June - 93 Feet East, London

16th July - Proud Galleries, London

THE SONS - SINGLE REVIEW

The Sons - Relic
The Sons - Relic

Release Date: 9th June 2014

Derby quintet have a new single out in a few days and they went the extra mile to get the artwork sorted out by buying and then torching Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, now that's commitment. The song itself, 'Relic', starts off as something between a Paul McCartney album track and a Paul Weller single which doesn't inspire a great deal of enthusiasm for the plodding piano melody and lazily strummed guitar.  However, half way through this tune there is a subtle little instrumental breakdown and the tone changes with the piano riff taking on some more minor notes and the guitar getting a bit more bite to it. This entirely changes the feel of the song and takes it in a new direction that is not what I expected but is really pretty good. There are ideas here and an ability to craft a song so I'd definitely be interested in hearing more of those ideas in the form of songs. Intrigued? You betcha.

More information: http://www.the-sons.com/

Live Dates:

31st May - Hucknall Fake Festival
7th June - Single Release Show @ The Venue, Derby
28th June - The Good Ship, London

SILHOUETTES - ALBUM REVIEW

Silhouettes - Ever Moving Happiness Machines (Integrity Records) 
Silhouettes - Ever Moving Happiness Machines

Release Date: 2nd June 2014

Holding my hands up here, on first listen I really wasn't overly impressed with this album from Wolverhampton sextet Silhouettes. But then I was stuck in traffic and I gave it another go for sake of fairness. The traffic was awful but the album got better. The album opened with what turns out to be an absolute belter in 'Gold Tag' which is part way between the jauntier side of Radiohead and a more confident Bon Iver - it also has one of the best basslines ever. 'Creaking Universe' is atmospherically beautiful in a very Jeff Buckley kind of way while 'Sacrifice' is a tune sent forward in time from the 80s to get pouty people dancing in the most minimalist way possible. The squelchy synth intro to 'Cold Water/Grey Flesh' is a delight like Air with Robert Smith on half-assed vocals - half-assed in a good way, though. And then things go full on Thom Yorke as 'I Miss You, I Want You, I Need You, I Love You' mumbles drunken remorse over tenderly caressed keys.

Recent single 'Prufrock's Dream' is a maelstrom of buzzing, angry bees that come flying from guitars as the spirits of Buckley and Yorke fight to emerge from Nathan Till's throat and the drums shuffle like a sinister Middle Eastern private detective in the shadows. 'Scuff Marks' is a beautifully haunting piece of twilight music that grows in to a Sigur Ros-esque sprinkly pop-romp from the edgy side of town. Silhouettes have definitely listened to their fair share of high quality indie over the years and this comes through in their handcrafted songs that are given the time to breathe on this record.  'Ferry Me Away' is a beautiful example of this while 'Black Within The Black' is a Delphic meets Joy Division piece of dark alternative-dance that should appeal to indie purists. The album closes with 'Boys', a tune of sombre beauty with more Radiohead overtones but with a more crooning feel - like a depressed Tony Christie singing with a downbeat Royksopp....in a good way. So, for once, a traffic jam had a benefit that far outweighed the downside of staring at someone else's bumper for an hour. I'm not sure that should go on the tour poster though 
"Silhouettes: More interesting than number plates".

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

Thursday, 29 May 2014

SAINT AGNES - SINGLE REVIEW

Saint Agnes - Old Bone Rattle (Energy Snake Records) 
Saint Agnes - Old Bone Rattle

Release Date: 10th June 2014

Got your best stomping boots on? Got your amps all turned up to 11? Got a bottle of whiskey within arm's reach? Good, because Londoners Saint Agnes are ready blow your world wide open with their blues infused rock'n'roll full of sinister overtones and sleazy undertones. 'Old Bone Rattle' starts off with one hell of a mule kick as the guitars slither in and out of your ears but after a while the funereal organs take over and the song ends with tinge of having got the job done...but at what cost? B-Side 'Roadside Blues' is an acoustic strum intermingled with some charming harmonica and smoky, sultry vocals that really only ought to come from the darkened corner of a bar with bare brick walls and a barman with more tattoos that hairs on his head. Or her head. Perfect for the dirty blues fan in you.

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

Live Dates:

31st May - Camden Rocks @ The Jazz Cafe, London
10th June - Single Launch @ Sebright Arms, London
24th June - The Old Blue Last, London w/Blossoms

18th July - Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London w/Black Market Karma

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

STEVE FOLK & JANE SOUTH - EP REVIEW

Steve Folk & Jane South - Don't Look Down EP (The Birdman Records) 
Steve Folk & Jane South - Don't Look Down

This is the perfect music for this time of year if you live anywhere slightly rural and, preferably, if you live near some naturally occurring water. Steve Folk and Jane South, y'see, recorded this on a narrowboat and that sensation of gently moving water is ever present in the gently rippling guitars of 'Modern Day Gypsies' and the floating flute of 'Spare Part'. They just go for all out water sounds on 'Don't Look Down' but the luscious acoustic, Folk's calming vocals and that cheeky flute paint a watercolour of an idyllic lifestyle within which to create music. The chugging engine of a tractor blends with a haunting flute drone to open 'By The Cherry Tree' and the vocals of Folk and South blend sublimely like scones and clotted cream. This collection closes with 'Ugly Man', a song that floats and burns brightly on occasions like the dying embers of a camp fire in the evening light. This is gentle, calming and soothing music with plenty of heart so if you're in need of something to soundtrack some quality time lying in a field with a straw hat on your face then this is for you.

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

Live Dates:

28th May - The Ten Bells, Norwich
29th May - The Catweazle Club, Oxford
30th May - The Village Pump, Trowbridge
28th June - The Crawley Folk Festival
19th July - Sussex House Concerts, Hurst Green
20th July - The Robertsbridge Club, Station Road
24th August - The Park Tavern, Chichester

19th September - Roots & Fusion, Barista Cafe, Stockport

GNARWHALZ - ALBUM REVIEW

Gnarwhalz - Foggy Gentlemen (Poncho Records) 
Gnarwhalz - Foggy Gentlemen

Campbell, Chesel, Erik, Gunnar and Peter. Now that's a collection of manly man's names which can only produce fine, chiselled rock music for sure. Well, not exactly. The quintet from Halifax (the Canadian one) actually produce scratchy, awkward indie music like a less slick Vampire Weekend but with wit and a laid back air that suggests they don't give a damn what you think. 'Beast Coast' opens up this short album as the band sing as one about "bros with baseball caps and aviators on" and "with every bottle opened there's adventure being born" as the song goes on for nearly seven minutes to spawn what must be the first sighting of slacker-indie-prog. 'Heading East' is a gently swaying piece of summery indie like Tennis at the end of the night or Weezer on a Sunday morning after a heavy party round the pool while 'Dieter' tells of drug taking doves and vomiting in sinks, naturally.

There is an almost Franz Ferdinand swagger to 'Pleasantly Surprised' but with a definite Atlantic twang before 'Spider Monkey' takes a simple garage riff, throws in some Beach Boys and then does its best to sound like Bryan Ferry or Sparks. There is a certain innocent lack of subtlety about the cherry popping ode to sex that is 'Mrs Beauville' which is hard to resist while closing track 'Years Young' is the kind of song that only a group of good buddies with guitars and beers could write without it sounding like it's trying too hard. I get the feeling these guys will get a tonne of gigs on the basis of being a good laugh and fun to hang around and, baby, there's nothing wrong with that. That's what the church of rock'n'roll was built on. I mean, imagine this as a chat up line "Hey, I'm Gunnar and I'm in a band called Gnarwhalz, wanna get high?". I'm moist already.


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

9YRS - ALBUM REVIEW

9Yrs - This Is 9 Years (Sonic Envy) 
9 Yrs - This Is 9 Years

Time to make my almost weekly visit to Canada as Toronto duo 9Yrs have popped up with a new album of big sounding pop-rock tunes for your delectation. Ivie and Derek might not be the most rock'n'roll names but opening track 'Chemical Love Letters' is a powerful piece of pop-rock that features gorgeous vocal melodies and some relentless rhythms that give this a truly uplifting feel. On to 'Vintage Girl' and the mood shifts to a more Coldplay vs Snow Patrol indie ballad feel while 'Shooting Erica' has more of an edge and those big, pounding drums are back again to provide the perfect foil to Ivie's sweet vocal tones. 'Burning The Bridge' is pure Joshua Tree-era U2 but with more of a 21st century rumble to it while 'Darkhorse' has a feel of Katy Perry crossing over to a darker place, musically speaking.

Looking at the duo's influences, they cite the likes of U2, Catherine Wheel, Sugar and Filter and this all comes through in the big sounding tunes but slick song writing on this album. On 'November 30th' the double act get more introspective before 'Radio Daze' hits you like Pink! on a rampage with her girlfriends. 'She He Him' has a scuzzy, fuzzy appeal to the guitars while 'Thirteen' channels those U2 vibes again but with vocals that you might expect to come from a million selling pop star doing their 'tender' anthem for the kids. That's the clever juxtaposition here in the balance between stadium sized rock and arena shaped pop that 9Yrs blend so well on tracks like 'All' and 'Playlists From Last Night'. There are quite a lot of tracks on this album, maybe a few too many if I'm being brutally honest, but closing up with 'Tastes Like Saints' is a triumphant, arms in the air anthem that you can almost hear festival crowds roaring along to if you listen really carefully. Yet again, Canada, you've given me something a bit different. I'm going to have to come and give you a big pat on your Canadian backs one of these days.


More information: http://www.thisis9yrs.com/ 

THE COPPERTONE - EP REVIEW

The Coppertone - The Bakery EP 
The Coppertone - The Bakery EP

I think I might be a little bit in love. I mean, not leave my girlfriend love but certainly mild-infatuation love. The Coppertone, aka the visually and aurally arresting Red, is responsible for this sudden rush of amore and her new EP is somewhere between a love letter and a calling card. Opening up with the slap in the face and high heel to the chest of 'Woman To Woman' is a bold statement as I'm transported to a gig where the Black Keys are jamming with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club whilst Annie Lennox sings at her soulful best over the top. I'm already loosening my tie and breathing heavily before 'Young Blood' sashays in to the room with an 80s rock vibe and, once again, that voice knocks me sideways as the guitars struggle to keep up with the power and tone coming from Red's lungs.

The dirty, filthy, downright sleazy riff that opens up 'Son Of A Gun' is all about roadside bars full of bikers before The Coppertone opens up the door and lets in shafts of melody to miraculously turn the ugly scene in to something magical and wondrous. The EP finishes up with 'Dead Set', a song placed somewhere between Florence + The Machine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Veruca Salt, The Dead Weather. Here we have a musician with talent, passion, blues, soul, an edge and one heck of a voice. Like I said, I'm in love and I fully expect you to be too once you've heard this. Oh, and if that ain't enough, Red also hunts out antiques and wins bowling competitions in her spare time. Sigh....

More information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Coppertone/482377695283?ref=hl


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

EKEBUBA - ALBUM REVIEW

EkeBuba - Buba Means Bug 
EkeBuba - Buba Means Bug

Those Zagreb boys are back with another six tracks of furious rock'n'roll straight from Satan's garage on Kick-Ass boulevard so make sure your daughters, sisters and, probably, mother's are locked up. There is no subtle introduction here as the band launch in to the riotous anti-life anthem 'Go Quit' which is full of thrashing guitars, crashing cymbals and a vocalist with a penchant for spitting lyrics rather than crooning them. 'Bad Movie' is the song that was thrown out of Grease for getting too many of the Pink Ladies pregnant while 'Told You So' is the illegitimate little brother of 'Great Balls Of Fire' that grew up listening to scratchy punk records. I'm rattling through this as only 2 of the six songs are longer than two minutes but these guys don't have time to hand around and explain themselves. Especially not to you.

The scuzzy bass and guitar riff of 'I Don't Know' is pure Stooges with an adrenaline shot before 'Blackout' comes crashing in with the spirit of Liam Lynch's 'United States Of Whatever' in black denim and dark glasses with a quiff the size of Andre the Giant's fist. This album, all 12 minutes of it, finishes off with a song called 'U E O' for the pure reason that those are the lyrics apart from the odd 'yeah!'. This is not thinking music, this is drinking, dancing and rutting music so don't treat it as anything else or you'll just disappoint yourself. EkeBuba, on the other hand, never disappoint.
  
More information: https://www.facebook.com/ekebubapage

Listen/Download: https://ekebuba.bandcamp.com/album/buba-means-bug

Live Dates:


10th June - Grey Room, Zagreb w/Modern Delusion + Hysterese

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

VENTURE - EP REVIEW

Venture - Stay True EP 
Venture - Stay True EP

For a band that list At The Drive-In, Rancid and Against Me! as influences, this new EP by Wigan upstarts Venture starts with a distinctly light and airy number. The opening track, 'Stay With Me' is a bouncy, acoustic lead and ukulele infused piece of indie-ska with soft soulful vocals from Lucy Burrows and a sense of youthful exuberance. The next track is 'Venture', an even more lilting number with elements of Kate Nash and No Doubt as the male vs female vocals play back and forth off each other in a gentle but lively fashion.

'Never Grow Old' is perhaps the most poppy and mainstream track here as the ska rhythms jerk from the speakers and the vocals are pitched somewhere between US emo and angst-pop with a relatively pleasing outcome. The EP finishes up with the title track, 'Stay True', and after four tracks it's clear that Venture have a real knack for writing catchy, pop melodies over ska rhythms with perfectly pitched vocal harmonies and a hint of up tempo folk. So, as a package, this should go down pretty well but if I had to offer one word of advice it would be to beef the sound up a bit as all the tracks sound a little bit thin. The key thing is the songwriting though and that's nailed down so everything else is just fluff and production.

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

http://www.officialventure.co.uk/

Live Dates:
27th May - Millstone Rocks, Golborne
8th June - Wigan Town Centre, Wigan
28th June - Boulevard, Wigan w/Roger The Mascot
9th August - The Banner, Wigan

6th September - DW Stadium, Wigan

Monday, 26 May 2014

STEREOBLASTULA - EP REVIEW

Stereoblastula - Beans and Rice EP 
Stereoblastula - Beans And Rice

Toronto trio Stereoblastula have made one decision so far in their careers and that is to have awesome names. Stereoblastula is a great name in itself but the members go by the names Moves Johnson, PK Smooth and Sexodus which, I think you'll all agree, are pretty awesome names. It's surprising, then, that the first track goes by the fairly mundane title 'Jessica' but the sub-two minute opener is an impassioned plea to a girl who at last one of the band has messed around is now possibly stalking. 'Aim For The Sun' continues the theme of acoustic lead but lively tunes with a playful heart and sound that falls somewhere between Flight Of The Conchords and the Ataris. Third track 'Tunnels' is a mellower affair with laid back strumming in the spirit of Crash Test Dummies and a lyrical theme that is possibly about agoraphobia but that might be completely wrong. This EP finishes up with 'Action Key' which has more power than the other three tunes but also has some truly grating guitar playing which sounds a quarter tone for large portions of the song. Nevertheless, there is a certain charm about this band and their EP will find a place in the hearts of many an indie fan around the world. And if nothing else, they have awesome-balls names.

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


Listen/Download - http://stereoblastula.bandcamp.com/ 

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH - SINGLE REVIEW

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - As Always 
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - As Always

Release Date: 2nd June 2014

I listened to the first half of this song four times before I was sure the beat was playing out the way it was intended and it wasn't just the internet playing silly buggers with me. Nevertheless, the beat is exactly the way American indie types Clap Your Hands Say Yeah intended it to be which is somewhat disconcerting. You see, 'As Always' is a lovely, gentle and slightly melancholy song with some heartfelt vocals on display but the beat for the first half of the song sounds like a semi-competent 11 year old drummer trying to keep time and I should know, I live with one. However, as the song progresses and the Elbow-esque crescendo builds the beat and the melody somehow reconcile and it all makes sense. I don't know how intentional this was but essentially CYHSY have created the musical equivalent of struggling through High School Maths classes until that glorious, relief filled day when you finally get trigonometry and all the clunky numbers in your head suddenly fall in to line. It's not quite Math-rock but there is something gloriously refreshing about the way this song presents a problem and then resolves it. Either that or my internet is playing REALLY silly buggers.

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

Watch the video: http://pitchfork.com/news/55191-clap-your-hands-say-yeah-share-as-always-video-announce-tour/

Live Dates:

2nd June - U Street Music  Hall, Washington w/Stagnant Pools
3rd June - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro
4th June - New Brookland Tavern, Columbia
5th June - The Orpheum, Tampa
6th June - The Social, Orlando
7th June - The Masquerade (Hell Stage), Atlanta
8th June - Zanzabar, Louisville
10th June - The Mill, Iowa City
11th June - Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
12th June - Majestic Theater, Madison
13th June - Taste Of Randolph, Chicago
14th June - Grog Shop, Cleveland
16th June - Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
17th June - Li Motore, Toronto
18th June - Brighton Music Hall, Allston
26th June - BSP Kingston, Kingston w/Stagnant Pools
27th June - Jonny Brenda's, Philadelphia
28th June - Music Hall of Williamsburgh, Brooklyn
24th July - Club Cafe, Pittsburgh
25th July - Fountain Square, Cincinnati
26th July - Old Rock House, St Louis
27th July - The Riot Room, Kansas City
28th July - Bluebird Theater, Denver
29th July - Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City
30th July - Neurolux Lounge, Boise
1st August - Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver
2nd August - The Crocodile, Seattle
3rd August - Mississippi Studios, Portland
5th August - The Independent, San Francisco
7th August - Troubadour, Los Angeles
8th August - Casbah, San Diego
9th August - Pub Rock Live, Scottsdale
11th August - The Mohawk, Austin
12th August - Fitzgerald's, Houston
13th August - One Eyed Jack's, New Orleans
14th August - Bottletree, Birmingham
15th August - Miller Plaza, Chattanooga
16th August - The Grey Eagle, Asheville

17th August - The Camel, Richmond

FRIENDS FROM RIO PROJECT - ALBUM REVIEW

Friends From Rio Project - Far Out Presents Friends From Rio Project (Far Out Records) 
Far Out Records Presents: Friends From Rio Project

Like it or not, the World Cup is coming and this time it's being hosted by the Brazilians so it's sure to be a spectacle unlike anything we've ever seen before. I spent a little time in the country a few years ago and it's impossible not to fall in love with the people, the culture, the way of life and music....oh, and the caipirinhas. This being a music blog, though, we'll stick to talking about the music and, luckily, we some cracking stuff to talk about. Around 20 years ago the dudes at Far Out Records had a mission to bring Brazilian music to the dancefloors of the Northern hemisphere and this record is the culmination of the project bringing together legendary musicians from the country on one record. The likes of Alex Halheiros, Aleh Ferreira, Robertinho Silva and Hyldon are all here to help you shake what your mama gave you and loosen those hips up.

This album is perfect summer music whether you recognise the tunes or not and there will be some that you do like the sublimely infectious 'Mas Que Nada'. Of course,there are others that will be less familiar like the supremely chilled 'Veneno' which is perfect cocktails'n'sunsets music with some gorgeous 70s synth to counteract the popping funk bass line. The funk continues on 'Garota' but then those sexy, laid back vocals come sliding in and that latin vibe takes you to a warmer place where the beer is always cold and breeze is forever warm. There are thirteen tracks on this collection and it's difficult to pick them apart as they work best together to create the best hour and ten minutes you could possibly hope. Equal measures of funk, soul, bossa nova and downright sexy vibes blend to make a heady cocktail that you drink all night with no hangover to fear the next day. 'Aguai' is all about the funk, 'Batucada Bidu' is full samba rhythms to move your feet to, 'Fogo No Chao' is the lost them tune to a 70s Brazilian TV show about a pair of cops who have a love hate relationship with each other and the law while 'Anthemia' starts like a Euro-pop hit from the 80s before the accordion is accompanied by some seriously danceable beats.

The album finishes up with the funky 'Leite De Pedra' before the orientally inspired 'Japa' gets sounds out of a piano that are to die for. So here's my tip for you: head over to the website below and download this collection. While it's downloading, go whip up a jug of caipirinhas, get your Panini sticker album out get yourself thoroughly ready for the World Cup. Even if you don't like football, the music and strong alcohol content of the aforementioned cocktail will make you happy so you won't care one bit! Now pop on your shiniest thong and let's party!

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


DR MEAKER - SINGLE REVIEW

Dr Meaker - Right Back feat. Sian Evans (V Recordings) 
Dr Meaker - Right Back feat. Sian Evans

There's something happening on the dance scene at the moment that I can't quite put my finger on but there seems to be a move towards making dance more of a live experience again and getting back to the spirit of those big 90s dance hits that we all still fondly remember. Dr Meaker's latest offering epitomises this spirit beautifully and it has an infectiousness that is hard to resist - I wouldn't even bother trying if I were you. 'Right Back (feat. Sian Evans)' is full of sexy horn blasts, frantic beats, sensuous strings, cheeky synths and, crucially, the soulfully dusky vocals of Sian Evans. If you hear this blaring from a car this summer then don't be surprised and try not to hate the passengers too much - if you were in the car you'd be having a great time. I'm not suggesting you start hitch-hiking though, be safe out there kids.

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


Live Dates:
6th June - The Attic Bar, Bristol
7th June - University, Bournemouth
4th July - Blissfields 2014, Winchester
12th July - Pride Festival, Bristol
19th July - Westfest Festival, London
20th July - Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury
8th August - Boomtown Fair, Winchester
5th September - Outlook Festival, Pula

27th September - Tokyo Dub Festival, Bristol

Friday, 23 May 2014

CELLAR DOOR - EP REVIEW

Cellar Door - Discordia 
Cellar Door - Discordia

Release Date: 2nd June 2014

There is something astoundingly sexy and sleazy about this EP from the word go as North-Eastern five piece Cellar Door come back with three new songs and a couple of interludes. The opening track, 'Jackals', starts off all Black Rebel Motorcycle Club before developing in to latter day Kasabian and generally stumbling drunk around a house party with a bottle of Jack in one hand and it's cock in the other. The gentle Mariachi strains of 'Interlude 1' cleanse the pallet before 'Angelica' enters the room surrounded by an air of cool that would normally be reserved for the likes of Jim Morrison,  George Harrison or Jimmy Page. 'Interlude 2' is a rambling, noodly piece of guitar music that I won't remember tomorrow but the rip-snorting, balls to the wall rock'n'roll of 'Bandito' is a real eye opener and suddenly Ozzy Osbourne in his prime has arrived at the party. So, essentially, Cellar Door create music that sounds like BRMC, Kasabian, Jim Morrison and Ozzy Osbourne hanging out in a dark, smoke filled room with whiskey dripping from the walls and the walls dripping in front of your LSD soaked eyes. I'd invite you to the party but I'm fairly sure you're half way there already.

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

Live Dates:

5th July - Sound It Out, Stockton-On-Tees
12th July - The Lord Clyde, Newcastle
26th July - Stockton Weekender, Stockton
7th August - Carpe Diem, Leeds
9th August - Dog & Parrot, Newcastle
16th August - Northern Jam, Sunderland
30th August - Pop Recs Ltd, Sunderland

12th September - Vintage Rockbar, Doncaster

Thursday, 22 May 2014

CAVE MOUTH - ALBUM REVIEW

Cave Mouth - Pagan Blues (Exeter Local Records) 
Cave Mouth - Pagan Blues

The three wildebeasts that make up Cave Mouth live on the wilds of the moors on a diet of road kill and cider, according to their press, but they find time between gnawing at raw meat and starting small fires to make a little music. This 7 track album opens with the bluesy stomp of 'Reset' which rattles along on a steely acoustic, pounding drums and some gorgeous vocal harmonies. 'Lovin' In The Street' is up next but sounds a little too streetwise to have been created on the moors unless some kind of fever brought on by drinking stagnant water from a pond has created this kind of 'talking in tongues' magic that is sure to scare the locals. The electro beats that open 'Spider' are a dead giveaway that these guys at least have a caravan but the blend of beats and Spanish guitar is surprisingly appealing.

There's a groove to 'Up On' that you can almost imagine snaking out of a cave, luring you in sensuously to dance with the devil's mistress and drink her foul wine - don't though, it's not properly chilled and those glasses could do with a wash. Similarly, 'Distant Shores' has a seductive quality but also the ability to make you dance to the foot stomping rhythm and finger blistering acoustic strummage all wrapped in some silky smooth vocals with joyous harmonies. This album closes with the stunningly funky and soulful 'Eat Us Up' which strides in to view in black leather trousers, a cowboy hat and with a shiny acoustic guitar strapped to its back. Cave Mouth have a great sense of mystery around them which is always intriguing but there's no confusion about the music - it's great, rootsy fun and will go down well on the festival circuit this summer.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cave-Mouth/200251623444291?fref=ts

Live Dates:


24th May - BBC Introducing Stage, Devon County Show

CHIPPER JONES - EP REVIEW

Chipper Jones - Two Rooms EP 
Chipper Jones - Two Rooms EP

Ready for something a bit different? Well sit back and let Chipper Jones wash over you. The Texas duo have a 10 track EP (I'm letting this one slide for reasons I can't explain) which starts with the organ chillout of 'Sketch 1: Chautauqua' leading in to 'Scout (live)' which immediately picks up the pace as staccato guitars dance with clicky percussion and crazy little electro bleeps. 'Sketch 2: Rhombus' is up next and those perky little guitars keep coming like Dutch Uncles' younger brother without the daily dose of Ritalin. The guitars on 'Riverburn (live)' are, frankly, mental but in the best kinda way while 'Sketch Three: Movements' is a more mellow affair that reminds me of the criminally underrated Ions In the Ether.   

This is experimental, instrumental stuff created by two guys who clearly have a connection on a creative level but like guys making each other laugh in bars, the joke is never as funny when explained to another and the badly recorded spoken word of 'Wild Senna' is a great example of this. 'Sketch Four: Warm' is a summery afternoon of rippling keys leading in to 'Sketch Five: Two Rooms', a real dawn chorus of a melody played on a piano with lashings of delay. Now, this might lose something in translation but the next song up is 'Amarillo' (no, not that one) which drifts out of the speakers like dusk in the Grand Canyon before the final track, 'Headrush', brings back those rippling guitars that behave like flitting bugs. The reason I can forgive a 10 track collection being termed an EP is that half the tracks are like long intros to the other half but it works incredibly well and creates sumptuous sound scapes to die for.

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

Listen/Download: http://chipperjones.bandcamp.com/album/two-rooms-ep


BASTARD MOUNTAIN - ALBUM REVIEW

Bastard Mountain  - Farewll, Bastard Mountain (Song, by Toad Records) 
Bastard Mountain - Farewell, Bastard Mountain

As band names go, Bastard Mountain is pretty cool. It's also the way I imagine Peter Kay would react upon climbing half way up Everest and realising that it isn't the summit. 'Farewell, Bastard Mountain' is a collaborative effort from a whole host of different band members and is an understated triumph of folky delights as instantly exemplified by the opening two tracks 'Meadow Ghosts' and 'Drone Armatrading'. There is a subtle beauty to this stuff that seeps out via the strings on 'The Mill' or the delicate strumming on 'Swam Like Sharks' or the sweet, sweet countrified vocals on 'Something On Your Mind'. This is certainly not album for those that like things at high octane levels but if you like to stare out at bleak coastal scenes on grey, blustery days then this might just be the album for you.

The nearly mumbled vocals of 'Pissing On Bonfires' draw you in and wrap you in the warmth of the guitar notes rumbling out of my headphones before 'Old Habits' ambles in like an arthritic Italian donkey with eyes full of wisdom and a soul full of stories. 'Palisade' is a Nick Cave tune through and through with long Cello drones providing the nearest thing to a melody while 'My Crime' is a sparse and haunting piece of gorgeousness in the vein of First Aid Kit or Johnny'n'June. The album finishes up with 'New Boy', probably the most lively track in this collection, which has a real sense of 6 Day Riot about it as the Scottishness seeps from every orifice. Like I said, not an album to go jogging to but a stroll in the bleak wilderness might be the perfect time for this kind of tender beauty.

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


DASHER - SINGLE REVIEW

Dasher - Go Rambo (Dieslaughterhaus) 
Dasher - Go Rambo

A singing drummer eh? You don't see that every day. Apart from Phil Collins and Dave Grohl. But they don't do much singing whilst drumming at the same time. Someone who does, however, is Kylee Kimbrough of Atlanta trio Dasher and their new single 'Go Rambo' is an absolute belter. Kimbrough's pounding drums (which need a bit of a clean judging from the video) combine with a chugging bass line and guitar notes that float off in to the distance before the drummer starts to roar and bellow whilst playing those drums like Keith Moon's illegitimate daughter. Somewhere between the Gossip, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Queens Of The Stone Age, Dasher are worth keeping an eye and an ear on if this burst of aggression and raw sex appeal is anything to go by.

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

Watch the video : http://www.spin.com/articles/dasher-go-rambo-video-single-atlanta/?utm_source=spintwitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=spintwitter

Live Dates:


31st May - 529, Atlanta

POWERMAN 5000 - ALBUM REVIEW

Powerman 5000 - Builders Of The Future (T-Boy Records/Universal Music) 
Powerman 5000 - Builders Of The Future

Release Date: 26th May 2014

U.S. nutso rockers Powerman 5000 are back with their latest album and you better be wearing a seat belt before you let this one rip. Feeling safe? Well you're not. The album explodes in to life with the incendiary 'Invade, Destroy, Repeat' which goes from nought to 80 in less than a second and then proceeds to beat you around the head with furious beats and guitars that Matt Bellamy would be proud of. This is punk metal, if such a thing exists, and continues with 'We Want It All', a tune that fans of Tool or A Perfect Circle will be keen to lose their minds to. 'How To Be Human' channels Depeche Mode having a go at electro-metal while the superbly titled 'You're Gonna Love It, If You Like It Or Not' is a like A's angrier but sexier older brother.

There's a fine line between this kind of electro-rock and the soulless stuff that tends to get churned out by Baltic states during Eurovision and Powerman 5000 stay just on the right side although 'Builders Of The Future' gets dangerously close. 'I Want To Kill You' starts off with Portishead atmospherics and a simple acoustic riff before building in to a cinematically dark climax before 'Modern World' swaggers in with a pair of Google glasses on and a bionic cock controlled by bluetooth. Somewhere between Aerosmith and Linkin Park is where 'Live It Up Before You're Dead' exists and that is a pretty fun place to be but 'I Can't Fucking Hear You' is the big, big tune we've been waiting for. The too-cool-for-school riff that rolls in to action followed by the booming drums and snarling vocals are just too much to resists so I'm not going to bother trying. 'Evil World' is an 80s inspired piece of electro-rock beauty and it brings the album to a close perfectly. Essentially, Powerman 5000 are the band that would have travelled back in time with Bill and Ted if there had been more space in the phone booth. And it's a shame because these guys would cause all kinds of chaos in an 80s shopping mall.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/officialpowerman5000?fref=ts

Live Dates:

23rd May - Boardwalk, Orangevale
24th May - The Glass house, Pomona
27th May - The Viper Room, Hollywood
7th June - Rock Am Ring, Wershofen
8th June - Rock Im Park, Nuremberg
9th June - Pinkpop Festival, Landgraaf
11th June - Skater's Palace, Munster
12th June - Bataclan, Paris
13th June - Download Festival, UK
15th June - Novarock Festival, Budapest
16th June - Aerodrome Festival, Budapest
17th June - Aerodrome Festival, Prague
20th June - Hellfest Festival, Clisson
22nd June - St Jordi Club, Barcelona
23rd June - Riveria, Madrid
26th June - Rock in Roma Open Air, Rome
27th June - Ippodromo Del Galoppo Open Air, Milan
28th June - Eishall Wetzikon, Wetzikon
29th June - Graspop Metal Meeting, Dessel
1st July - Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht

2nd July - Rockhal, Luxembourg

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

DEAD WAVES - SINGLE REVIEW

Dead Waves - Oracles Of The Grave 
Dead Waves - Oracles Of The Grave

There are few times in life when you can be sure of anything but there are a few.  A Kevin Spacey film is usually pretty compelling, melted cheese improves almost all food stuffs and people wearing socks with sandals are psychopaths. One new one to add to the list is that Steve Albini makes anything he touches rock in a huge way. Albini has recently been touching Dead Waves (not even going to apologise for that) and the Brooklyn hard rockers have benefited from that. If you like supernova sized riffs that bleed violently in to one another, punctuated only by the pounding of Viking drums and the screams of a man who cannot find the cable for his laptop then you're going to love these guys. 'Oracles Of The Grave' is one of the heaviest, darkest and most on edge records I've heard in a long time but I don't expect everyone to like this as it's not something you'll sing along to or have as the first dance at your wedding. Although.........

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

Live Dates:

7th June - Shea Stadium, Brooklyn

13th June - The Flat, Brooklyn

SAVE THE RADIO - EP REVIEW

Save The Radio - Calculating The Sum Of Your Life EP (Tazbull Records) 
Save The Radio - Calculating The Sum Of Your Life

I can only get behind the name of this band as an instruction as we all need to keep our favourite radio stations on the air or risk them getting swallowed up in to the mass-market-music-machine. Anyway, rant over. Florida gents Save The Radio have a new EP of pop-punk rock for your delectation and it starts with the infectiously energetic 'Life In Rewind' which is part Blink 182, part A and part watered down Foo Fighters. 'Add It Up' has a pleasingly pulsing bass line and that kind of commercial, polished US sound that sells big units on mainstream radio and, with the right hook, can make bands in to superstars. There's something strange about 'Higher Than Heaven' that reminds of the kind of songs that feature in heartbreaking moments on South Park or Flight Of The Conchords and go on way too long with slightly over sincere vocals. By the time we get to 'Broken Road' we're in full on Snow Patrol meets Nickleback territory and the energy of earlier tracks has been replaced by the kind of acoustic led rock that is usually only performed by bands who have formed around singer-songwriters who got bored of drinking alone. Final track 'As Long As You're With Me (Homeword Bound)' is prime for the end of a rom-com where love triumphs against all odds and could easily be a Bryan Adams power-ballad. Now, to be fair, there aren't many bands doing big ol' rock ballads these days but that's not necessarily a bad thing.


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

ROYKSOPP & ROBYN - EP REVIEW

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

Technically I think this is supposed to be a mini-album but at only five tracks long I'm making a stand for common sense and labelling this an EP review, at most. Whatever you call it, this collection is the sum of a collaboration between Scandinavian pop giants Royksopp and  Robyn and it starts with the mellow but simultaneously epic nearly 10 minutes of 'Monument'. It's beautifully relaxed stuff that is prime for some beach time but there's a bit of ill advised sax work at the end that kind of spoils it. But no matter, we move on and find 'Sayit' which is more up-tempo and lively with a trance vibe, some utterly sleazy synth melodies and Robyn apparently getting it on with a robot. And then, right in the middle, comes the recent single 'Do It Again' which still sounds like a huge, crowd pleasing dance anthem that even the snobbiest of music critics would be unable to resist.

'Every Little Thing' starts like Groovejet's 'Spiller' before morphing gently in to a blend of A-ha and Roxette as produced by the Human League with a dark overtone to the song although it never quite gets going in the way you might hope. The EP finishes up with 'Inside The Idle Hour' which is the most Royksopp-esque tune on here as melodies swoop like a group of swallows in a green valley at sunset. 'Do It Again' is clearly the stand out track here but as collaborations between superstars go this is pretty cool stuff. Plenty of live dates to get your teeth in to as well so strap on your dancing shoes and get out there.

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

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

TREE DWELLERS - SINGLE REVIEW

Tree Dwellers - Come Up And See (Melted One) 
Tree Dwellers - Come Up And See

Release date: 30th  May 2014

Well this is a bit different, in more than one way. Firstly, it's pretty rare to get a release from a band made up of a father and son duo which is the case with Tree Dwellers, aka Mark and Jake Haslam. Secondly, it's not often you get music this imaginative and arresting pop up in your inbox with something of a muted fanfare. 'Come Up And See' rides a wave of chords and licks played out on a growly bass guitar with chilled out beats, violin stabs, looped spoken word and a sense that everything is alright with the world. This is beach music but maybe for that sunset moment when you have to start thinking about either going back to your hotel or taking the party to the next level. Somewhere else on the same beach are Lemon Jelly, Bent and a thoroughly remixed Jose Gonazlez all chilling out to the same blissed beats and head bobbing grooves. Superb stuff but in a very understated way like a girl with supermodel looks in a baggy old t-shirt and denim shorts. Effortless.


More information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tree-Dwellers/1432174900357297?fref=ts 

WINCHESTER REVIVAL - EP REVIEW

Winchester Revival - Eyes In The Canopy EP (King Of Sticks Records) 
Winchester Revival - Eyes In The Canopy EP

Despite sounding like an unsuccessful make of car, Winchester Revival are actually something of an intense indie rock band from East Bay area of California and, for a band that has only writing for a year or so, they are pretty damn tight. This EP kicks off with the infectious and delicious 'Chemical Yellow' full of ambitious rhythms and Foals melodies - something that you don't always expect from American bands, no offence! 'Matterhorn' is up next and is an altogether mellower affair with sweeping guitars and rolling, expansive melodies in the vein of Incubus at their most experimental or any range of prog bands with half an eye on harmony. If you imagine the Killers and Mansun heading back to the 80s to record a track with Duran Duran on production duties then you're getting close to the sound created on 'Wonderland' which is as ridiculous and gorgeous as it you imagine. The closing track is 'Submarine Bell', a track with Echo & The Bunnymen swagger and darkly sexy intent that you wouldn't want to meet on a dark night but then again.....maybe you would. Winchester Revival are one of those bands that might not get a huge amount of success in the US but their sound will travel well and UK audiences are sure to lap this up. Beautiful stuff.


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

CITY RISE - SINGLE REVIEW

CITY RISE - Bring You Down (Melted Leather Records) 
City Rise - Bring You Down

Liverpudlian quartet Bring You Down have a new single out for your enjoyment via the marvellously named Melted Leather Records. 'Bring You Down' starts off with a wall of thrashing drums and beefy guitar riffs before the emotive if slightly lacking in power vocals kick in. City Rise claim their influences to be the likes of Incubus and the Gaslight Anthem which is enough to peak my interest but sadly this single lacks the melodies, hooks or vocal roar that would put them in the same category. Still, this didn't pick me up so I guess the single did what it said on the tin - points for honesty, then.


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

Thursday, 15 May 2014

BLACK STROBE - SINGLE REVIEW

Black Strobe - Going Back Home (Blackstrobe Records) 
Black Strobe - Going Back Home

Release Date: 26th May 2014

Before listening to a note of this I can already tell that Black Strobe are one of the coolest bands around. Black Strobe is a damn cool name. Black Strobe are from a damn cool city, Paris. Black Strobe dress in damn cool and nicely fitted suits. Black Strobe are cool. 'Going Back Home' is also cool. Deep, smooth continental vocals pour like a thick red wine gravy over meaty basslines, crunchy beats and succulent synths to create something in the realm of Transformer or Hot Chip but with more sex appeal. There's a b-side to this single as well (even cooler) in the shape of 'The House Of Good Lovin'' which is essentially about the house next door to the house of the rising sun with groove heavy guitar riffs, Glam-rock beats and vocals that can surely only be sung with a cigarette hanging from the corner of the mouth. For once I judged the book by its cover and the content of the book was better than  I expected. Win, win and win.

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


Listen: https://soundcloud.com/blackstroberecords/going-back-home-radio-edit

ULLA NOVA - SINGLE REVIEW

Ulla Nova - Kid From London 
Ulla Nova - Kid From London

Ulla Nova is one of those artists who is either going to be huge or will be the slightest flash in the pan followed by a lifetime of "I could have been a contender" fuelled drinking benders. No half measures here. The debut single from the London based chanteuse, 'Kid From London', starts off with the banjo sound from my first Casio keyboard before bursting to life with a full on dirty pop stomper of a tune. Part M.I.A., part Gwen Stefani, part Kylie and a little bit Robyn, Ulla Nova certainly has the pop chops on this evidence but let's see if she can follow it up with more than a flash in the pan. And maybe some outrageous behaviour just to keep the tabloids interested.


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

RAH RAH - SINGLE REVIEW

Rah Rah  - Prairie Girl (Hidden Pony Records) 
Rah Rah - Prairie Girl

Well this is a bit lovely. Chuck some Arcade Fire in with some Indigo Girls and Laura Marling, slowly roast over some gorgeous Motown beats and serve on a cold day. Essentially that's the recipe for 'Prairie Girl' by Canadian troupe and it sure does make a tasty soup, yesiree bob. This is the kind of uplifting indie that is normally reserved for the new Apple ad campaign or the end credits of feel good movie starring Michael Cera but this song comes with no trade-off in morals, it's just gorgeous. From those punchy drums through to that velvet soaked in honey voice via crunchy guitars this is an all out beauty of a song. Oh, and did I mention you can download it for free? You're welcome.

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

Download/Listen: http://rahrahband.com/UK/prairiegirl.html

Live Dates: 

17th May - Moritzbastei, Leipzig
21st May - Blue Shell, Cologne
22nd May - Drucklufthaus, Oberhausen
23rd May - White Rabbit Club, Freiburg
24th May - La Taverne Du Theatre, La Louviere
28th May - Franz K., Reutlingen
29th May - Hafen 2, Offenbach
30th May - Maifeld Derby 2014, Mannheim
31st May - Immergut Festival 2014, Neustrelitz
4th June - MUZ Club, Nuremberg
5th June - Gruner Salon, Berlin
6th June - Orange Blossom Special Festival, Beverungen
7th June - Zitadelle, Mainz
8th June - Knust, Hamburg
20th June - Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto

20th June - This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton

Monday, 12 May 2014

WESLEY WOLFE - ALBUM REVIEW

Wesley Wolfe - Numbskull (Chased By Flying Monkeys)
Wesley Wolfe - Numbskull

Who's up for some straight-down-the-line, no messing, indie-surf-pop with more melodies than you can shake a bucket and spade at? Shame, cos that's exactly what we've got here. Wesley Wolfe and his collected bandmates are a little bit adept at that style of indie-pop that Reddkross and We Are Scientists do so well. The opening triumvirate of tracks - 'Lost In My Daydreams', 'Cloud Cuckoo' and 'Fragment Of A Dream' - are all sunny day songs with melodies that are made for lying in a field of daisies doing so half-assed cloud spotting and generally letting life wash over you. Title track, 'Numbskull', is a low-slung, Pixies inspired piece of slackerdom while 'Jesus Eyes' has the sort of woozy, summer afternoon feeling that Swim Deep manage so well but with a more crooning approach to the vocal deliver that the likes of Eels and Jim Noir would approve of with a wry nod.

The second half of the album gets underway with 'Deathrow' which has a Killers feel to it before 'Read My Mind' is a more intense, Weezer-esque piece of surf-pop with thumping drums and beautifully drawled vocals. There is an infectious urgency to 'Kissing Frogs' which is somewhere between the Cure and Blink 182 (yeah, that's a place) but then 'You Complicate Everything' comes along like Franz Ferdinand with a West Coast vibe. The final track, 'All That Matters', is very much a downturn in vibe along the lines of Eels or Beck on a grey Sunday morning. I have to admit that I was expecting more from this album going on the write up the PR company gave it but actually this kind of music doesn't need selling. This is the musical equivalent of that guy you've always known who just turns up at the pub and is a pleasure to be around without being hilarious or a pain in the ass. This album would always get a round in though and that's always that matters really. Albums buying drinks. I need a lie down.

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

Live Dates:

9th May - Release Show @ CHUG, Chapel Hill

31st May - Slim's, Raleigh w/State Champion

LIGHTMARES - ALBUM REVIEW

Lightmares - Lightmares Are Rich And Educated (MG Records) 
Lightmares - Lightmares Are Rich And Educated

Ready for some more sweet, sweet Canadian music? It's been at least a week since I've reviewed anything from the maple loving nation so it's about time I got around to Ontario trio Lightmares and their new album, provocatively titled 'Lightmares Are Rich And Educated'. Jamie, Nicholas and Zack describe themselves fairly plainly as Punk Rock and from the evidence on opening tracks 'The Sweat Of A Hero' and 'Confidence Rock' they are pretty spot on with that analysis. By the time we get to soup, there is a definite feeling that Lightmares are fond of big riffs, pounding drums and a refreshing gang mentality that exudes fun and camaraderie. Now, they ain't the best singers in the world but when you're a punk rock band I don't think that really matters, especially when they're having as much fun as they obviously are.

'Everything Avenue' is a more laid back track with some suave guitar notes drifting through the distorted bass lines before 'Worn A Mask' chugs in like a drunk arriving late to a dinner party where he goes about telling the truth that everyone else is too polite to mention. All class. The brooding bass that opens the one minute and fourteen seconds of Nicholas Laments quickly becomes the entire song which is a brave move - how many punk bands do you know that would put a track on an album that is just a bass solo? 'Notamotto' is a gang anthem of pure punk proportions while 'These Trying Times' is something of a punk ballad that's somewhere between the Zutons, We Are Scientists and the Presidents Of The United States Of America. Final track, 'So Free', which is a swaggering, sweating, leather clad piece of rock'n'roll debauchery performing in a small room full of flashing lights and heaving bodies. This is not the most acutely talented band in the world but I bet their shows are a lot of fun and I reckon they can hold their liquor too.


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

Sunday, 11 May 2014

HODA - SINGLE REVIEW

Hoda - Exhale 
Hoda - Exhale

Release Date: 26th May 2014

I've got to admit, with a single called 'Exhale' which is being sold as a sexy track for the summer, I fully expected Hoda to be something of a soulless pop strumpet with the autotune turned up to 11. But it's not, oh no. Hoda are a London based trio fronted by Tehranian born singer-guitarist Hoda Mohajerani who trade in guitar driven alternative music with a razor sharp edge. 'Exhale' starts off as a moody, PJ Harvey-esque piece of indie but by the time we hit the chorus Hoda are channelling the Pixies, the Breeders and Veruca Salt with singalong lyrics and driving riffs. The B-side, 'No Surrender', a mellower affair and is also 7 minutes long. The song starts with an acoustic melody before those edgy guitars and clattering drums puncture the serenity. This is a great single to announce your intentions with and I look forward to hearing some more from these guys.


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

JOHNNY PARRY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA - ALBUM REVIEW

Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra - An Anthology Of All Things (Lost Toy Records) 
Johnny Parry

Release Date: 5th May 2014

It's not often that I get an album that features opera and chanting monks* in the first few seconds but then again it's not that often I come across an album as mind blowing and genre defying as 'An Anthology Of All Things' by the Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra. So let me guide you through this new and eye opening experience, we'll start at the beginning. 'Movement I (Things I Like About Myself)' is grandiose piece of rousing, classically inspired and opera tinged music that, upon its climax, leaves you expecting Muse to appear in your kitchen ready to bust out some stadium sized rock. But they don't. Instead, we have 'Movement II (A Song For Someone)' which starts with a music box style melody played out on a piano overlaid with a choir of rich, honey-thick male voices before female voices and a host of subtle instrumentation joins in and the song continues in a round. Meanwhile, 'Movement III (Childhood Heroes)' (see free download link below) is a contender for parent of the year theme tune assuming some TV company already has this concept in production deep in the heart of Soho.

Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra - An Anthology Of All Things
By now, you'll have realised that this isn't a typical band with a tight unit of mates or a front man/woman as a focal point. No, This literally is an orchestra and the real star is arranger and conductor Johnny Parry although there are other stars shining here too. The Bedford Arts Choir are on group of heroes as their voices are so in unison and so beautifully harmonised that you can just let yourself be swept away on a sea of their talent. The public should also take a bow as all lyrics were donations and 'Movement IV (1942)' is a great example of this as people were asked to submit memories of that year which included notes on rationing, bombs and cake. On 'Movement V (Park Benches)' you can feel every one of the 24 piece orchestra as Soprano Donna Lennard takes centre stage before 'Movement VI (Romantic Statements)' collects everything from chat up lines to notes of pure love and displays it atop a 9 minute orchestral epic all held together with those 61 beautiful voices.

The album, which seems an awfully pithy title to give such a collection, finishes with two dramatic pieces. Firstly, 'Movement VII (Enduring Memories From A Film)' plays out emotions derived from great moments of film on a bed of luscious strings, voices and, eventually, that singularly stunning Soprana. The final act of this drama is the mammoth 'Movement VIII (Pilgrimage)' which lasts for around 12 minutes and builds to a heart warming, soul stirring, hair prickling crescendo. 'An Anthology Of All Things' is an utter triumph and I take my hat off to everyone involved. From those who conceived of the day, all those who contributed creatively and to those who approved the funding for this creative tour de force. This is a great advert for so many things from community and collaboration to open-mindedness and boundary-ignoring. Most of all, it's a great advert for the power of music to unite, entertain and communicate - all it was ever meant to do.

* I can't be sure they are monks but they do make you think 'holy cow'.

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