Monday, 30 June 2014


Sykes - Gold Dust 
Sykes - Gold Dust

Release Date: 14th July 2014

Unsigned London trio Sykes have a new single coming your way in the form of 'Gold Dust' and I think you might just like it. If you imagine the likes of Foals or the Maccabees with the dance elements of Delphic and the pop savvy of Bombay Bicycle Club then you're getting close. The guitars ping like raindrops on a lake of electro melodies while the simple but effective beats chip away in the background. The piece de resistance, though, is the voice of front woman Julia which swoops and soars with the best of them but she also has character to her voice that puts her in a league with the likes of Kimbra or Alison Goldfrapp. There is definitely something a little bit special about these guys and I'd love to see them recreate this sound live so I'll be keeping an eye out for some Westcountry gigs....hint hint.

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Live Dates:

10th July - Single Launch @ The Bedford, London
7th-10th August - Boomtown Fair

23rd-24th August - Victorious Festival


Mountainear - Distant Camps (Cocktail Music) 
Mountainear - Distant Camps

Release Date: 14th July 2014

I've got a raging headache as I write this so choosing to listen to a percussion based trio is perhaps not my best move but if it doesn't kill I'll just get stronger, right? Bring on the pain!!! In all seriousness, Mountainear may describe themselves as 'percussion-led' but it's their subtle and clever use of the percussive elements of music that make them and their new single so appealing. 'Distant Camps' could fall in to the Ellie Goulding category were it not for the rippling beats that sound so beautifully organic as they bounce off the soft, smooth vocals and the airy electronic melodies. This isn't necessarily a Saturday night stomper for the clubs but you could do an awful lot worse than having this as the first thing you hear in the morning at a festival. Like a refreshing summer breeze with optimism and hope running through its core, just what you need when you're knee deep in what you hope is mud and everything smells and tastes like stale cider.

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Sunday, 29 June 2014


Lowpines - Call Off The Hunt (Adventure Club Records) 
Lowpines - Call Off The Hunt

Release Date: 7th July 2014

A fairly basic bit of word play (and losing an 'f') with the title of this new single from Lowpines would change this to a song about a hall where Piers Morgan hangs out but, assuming I can avoid the spoonerism, I will stick to reviewing this as nature intended. 'Call Off the Hunt' comes from the brain of Londoner Oli Deakin who has his fingers in a number of musical pies but this is all about him. This is delicate, US inspired alt-folk with gentle guitar plucking, muted strings and Deakin's near whispered vocal creeping sleepily in to the room. It's the kind of song that stops you in your tracks and demands your attention as it grows naturally to take in some pulsating beats and a fluttering keyboard melody. Graciously, Deakin has seen fit to provide this single with a B-side in the shape of 'Talk Not' which follows the theme set down by its predecessor but adds in a little country influence and that vocal style gets closer and more soothing with every couplet. Lowpines might only be a side-project for all I know but whatever it is I'm glad it exists - discreetly beautiful stuff. Just don't ruin it by making fun of the song title. Only an idiot would do that...

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Live Dates:

26th July - Deershed Festival, Yorkshire
21st August - Boatshed, London

29th August - Lodestar Festival, Cambridge


Latimer House - Birdcage Walk (Honk Records) 
Latimer House - Birdcage Walk

Release Date: 7th July 2014

When  I first heard of Latimer House my musical data banks immediately tried to link them to Young Knives, one of my favourite bands. Then I actually listened to them and I had to rewire my brain completely. You see, 'Birdcage Walk' is a classic piece of thoroughly English guitar pop in the tradition of Squeeze, the Jam and Steve Harley. The catchy little riff, the bouncing drums, layers of organs and popping bass all make for a thoroughly pleasant little tune. The deadpan vocals, whilst initially appealing do get a little Jona Lewie on us but I guess that's part of the style for these guys. This song is actually so understated that it couldn't be more British but maybe Latimer House will need to be a little more like our American cousins and show off a bit more if they want to really kick on - I believe one of them is American so they're 25% there already.

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Liu Bei - Infatuation (ParadYse/Transgressive Records) 
Liu Bei - Infatuation

Release Date: 7th July 2014

Not many bands are named after Chinese Warlords with massive ears but Liu Bei are and it sure beats anything starting with The. The London based act are ready to provide those massive ears with a new single in the shape of 'Infatuation' which is a sparkling, beach cave of a tune. To explain that a little better, this song shimmers like the clear waters of a rock pool with the reflected sunlight of the dawn dancing on the surface. You could draw comparisons to Elbow if you wanted but despite the gently epic similarities there is a more rural, elemental feel to the music that is simply beautiful. So what we have is a band named after a Chinese Warlord with massive ears, some gorgeously elemental songwriting and a real sense of understated grandeur. Surely that's enough to keep you happy?

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Live Dates:

10th July - Servant Jazz Quarters, London


The Shooting Of... -This Silence Is Killing Me (League Against Rubbish Records) 
The Shooting Of... - This Silence Is Killing Me

Release Date: 7th July 2014

Paul Jeans is a self-confessed control freak and, as such, he is the perfect candidate to be in a one man band which is exactly what The Shooting Of... is. One man bands, however, no longer require you to wear cymbals on your knee caps and a car horn between your butt cheeks. No, instead, The Shooting Of... combines child-like keyboard melodies, rough'n'ready drums and vocals like a subdued Brandon Flowers to create alternative pop songs like 'This Silence Is Killing Me'. There is a B-side to this single, which is nice, and the title is something of a mouthfull so take a deep breath, it's: '1000 Facebook Likes (Or The Trials And Tribulations Of Making Music In The Social Media Age)'. This is a melancholy but tongue-in-cheek look at the music world during this age of disengagment and detachment which makes writing this online blog a little awkward. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Jeans is writing kooky pop songs in the vein of Jim Noir but with a sense of social awareness beyond what happens at the bottom of the garden.

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Live Dates:

11th July - The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
13th July - Woodhorn Lane Music Festival, Ashington
24th July - Zum Falken, Weimar
25th July - Sonne KulturBiergarten, Meiningen
26th July - Noch Besser Lebe, Leipzig
31st July - Polyvester, Oldenburg
1st August - Waschweiber, Hannover
3rd August - Cafe Lokaal, Heemskerk
19th September - The Green Room, Stockton-On-Tees

13th October - The Cluny 2, Newcastle-upon-Tyne


Gospel - Disasters Running Wild (Not Like That Records) 
Gospel - Disasters Running Wild

Release Date: 7th July 2014

London duo Gospel describe their music as fitting in to the pigeon hole of Informative Jazz which has to be a fairly small pigeon hole but quite a nice one, nonetheless. New single 'Disasters Running Wild' pits the voice of Beth Anderton-Allen and against the processed beats and electronic melodies of Chris Willsher to create a heart stopping sound. In parts Goldfrapp, DeLooze, Ellie Goulding, Kate Bush with an upgrade or La Roux all come through but there is a darker, futuristic edge to this sound which will play well with those that need something more from their electro-pop. Gospel are a new act but one with a head start of having the knowledge of how to create a moody, sexy electro pop song so any challengers better watch out.

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Catfish & The Bottlemen - Fallout (Island/Communion) 
Catfish & The Bottlemen - Fallout

Release Date: 7th July 2014

It's all a numbers game for Catfish & The Bottlemen now. They've played hundreds of gigs over the past 12 month in front of thousands of fans. They've got two support slots coming up with the crown prince of indie, Jake Bugg, and they're just about to release their fifth single in a year. All this points towards the potential for a number 1 album in September but for now let's concentrate on this last 7" before they head out for the festival season. 'Fallout' was called the hottest record in the world by Zane Low back in May and there's no doubting that there is an epic, stadium sized feel to the song as it builds the layers of shimmying cymbals and snarling guitars with a distinct 80s indie feel. However, I would dare to say that this is the least immediate or infectious of the five singles and this will be where the album thrives or fails - can the quartet maintain the early momentum or is it going to be five singles we've all heard plus five filler tracks. Only time will tell...

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Live Dates:

5th July - The Barn On The Farm, Gloucestershire
11th July - X&Y Festival, Liverpool
12th July - Wakestock Festival, Abersoch
13th July - T In The Park Kinross
15th July - Mallorca Rocks, Magaluf w/Jake Bugg
16th July - Ibiza Rock, San Antonia w/Jake Bugg
18th July - Truck Festival, Oxfordshire
19th July - Latitude Festival, Southwold
20th July - Somersault Festival, Devon
25th July - Redfest, Surrey
26th July - Deer Shed Festival, North Yorkshire
27th July - Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
1st August - Kendal Calling, Kendal
2nd August - Y Not Festival, Derbyshire
8th August - Belladrum Festival, Inverness
9th August - Strawberry Fields Festival, Leicestershire
10th August - Boardmasters Festival, Newquay
21st August - The Haunt, Brighton
22nd August - Reading & Leeds Festival, Reading
23rd August - Reading & Leeds Festival, Leeds
29th August - Lodestar Festival, Lode

30th August - Bingley Music Live, Bingley


Conrad Clifton - Picture In Picture 
Conrad Clifton - Picture In Picture

Brooklyn producer Conrad Clifton sounds like a hoity-toity guy with a summer house in the hills and a personal shopper to choose his braces and bow ties but he looks like a cooler, less douchey version of Will.I.Am. I'm a little late coming to this album but it's ten tracks of instrumental beats and breaks that offer something a bit different so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Kicking off with 'Vanilla Skyscraper', Conrad Clifton drops some mellow, slightly Oriental melodies which manage to skit around and flow smoothly all at the same time. The chimes that open up 'Crystal Handgun' sound like the 80s clock in my friend's parents house from when I was about 13 but the beats and melody are like something from the future. The woozy, drunken sounding melodies continue on 'La Da Dee (He's Hopeless)' but with the addition of some Cossack chanting which suggests Conrad may have played too many retro computer games in his childhood.

There's a hyperactivity to 'Blacklight' that is, again, inspired by early Nintendo and Sega soundtracks while 'Polaroid Pixels' features a weird, honky-tonk piano sound atop some wistful, early morning sweeps that only last for a minute or so before 'Audition Subtraction' goes all dance mental on our collective asses. 'Obsessive Tendencies' is the sounds of Cola and Mentos reacting as filmed in slow-mo before giving way to 'Mourning Gold', a song so sketchy and crazy that it's likely to have been fed a diet of sugar and no sleep for about a week before they Conrad started to record. As the album approaches the end, we get 'Too Honest' which again sounds like the menu music to Street Fighter but with better beats while closing track 'Picture In Picture' has a cinematic, dream-like quality that transforms in to a chest beating, posing piece of theme music to cruise down the strip to. Clifton is not what you might expect and that's what makes him so enjoyable so I recommend you get yourself some of this to freshen up your ears a little.

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The Rt Hon Kings Of The Cosmos - We're All In This Together Mother Fucker! 
The Rt Hon Kings Of The Cosmos - We're All In This Together Mother Fucker!

Newcastle-upon-Tyne band The Rt Hon Kings Of The Cosmos are men of few words and little internet presence. Their email to me, in its entirety said "Hello, thought you might like this, or maybe not...ta" so I'm kinda hoping that the music speaks to me a little more. This three track EP starts with the fantastically honest 'If I Was In Charge Of The Red Button We'd All Be Dead' which is a scratchy, shaky piece of garage scuzz with a punk ethic and literally not a care in the world about whether you like it or not. 'Half Alive' starts off like a slow dance in the 50s before turning in t a mental, space aged piece of scitzoid-psyche rock with some almost free-form Jazz drumming going almost at odds with the rest of the song. The closing track is the politically charged 'Con-Dem Nation (Apathy In the UK)' which swirls and distorts until the sound disappears down a sink-hole to another Universe. The scary thing is I really don't know what to make of all this noise. It's scuzzy, distorted, garage punk which is all well and good but I can't help but feel there is something missing - what that is I couldn't tell you but whatever it is, it's not quite there. Yet...

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Saturday, 28 June 2014


Waterbodies - What the French Call "Les Incompetents" 
Waterbodies - What The French Call "Les Incompetents"

So, apart from being a cult indie band from London, it turns out that Les Incompetents is also what the French speaking world calls Home Alone, the film that gave us Macaulay Culkin. Whether that warrants a whole song or not is up for debate but Canadian rockers Waterbodies make some fairly strong points in favour. 'What The French Call "Les Incompetents"' begins with a sleazy, leather-clad guitar riff that brings the likes of Boss Hogg and Lou Reed to mind before the lazy, sneering vocals join in to tell you just how much they don't care. The backing vocals howl, the drums pound and boy does that bass guitar growl like a tormented beast in a dark basement. This is not a tune for the faint hearted but it is a tune for those who like their rock'n'roll with a healthy dose of sex appeal and whisky on its breath. Frankly, if Culkin had just played this tune at loud volumes when the robbers tried to break in they would have known not to mess with him. And that should tell you all you need to know really.

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Live Dates:

11th July - Van Gogh's Ear, Guelph
18th July - Sneaky Dee's, Toronto
2nd August - Petestock 2014, Saint Catherines

14th August - Silver Dollar Room, Toronto w/The Box Tiger


Morakoza - Free Pistonhead 
Morakoza - Free Pistonhead

I've had a lot of music from a lot of Canadian bands over the last year or so - no idea why, I know like 2 Canadians and I've never been to the country of maple syrup and ice hockey - but Morakoza have to be one of the bands that could cross over to the UK scene most successfully. This single, 'Free Pistonhead', is a beautiful mix of Alt-J's off kilter melodies and rhythms, Kasabian's swagger, elements of Madchester and just a snippet of the indie cool of bands like Foals and the Maccabees. The guest hip-hop rhymes from Toronto artist Porter Jae gives the latter part of the song another dimension altogether with a dark edge and a sense of menace. The EP that this single precedes is due out in August and I, for one, can't wait to hear it.

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Ross Palmer - Reassurance EP 
Ross Palmer - Reassurance

Mr Ross Palmer is a bit of an all rounder and has his fingers in various musical pies at the moment but this solo collection is an island of tranquillity in what is the raging torrent of modern life. This four track EP opens with the title track, 'Reassurance', which has a charming resemblance  to David Kitt but with a more downbeat, Evan Dando-ish feel. 'That's Not You' is altogether perkier and the guitars purr atop a bass line that pulsates under Palmer's understated vocals to create a heart-felt slice of indie with a hint of shoegazing thrown in for good measure. There is a summery melancholy to 'Teach Me To Believe' that Karen Carpenter used to achieve with effortlessness. This brief collection closes with 'Little Differences' and although the tempo is a little higher the sombre tones are still there for all to see amid all the gently strummed acoustic guitars and shuffling drums. I can't see Ross Palmer selling out stadiums any time soon but if you want something to listen to while you drink that first cup of tea on a grey Sunday morning then this just might be what you're looking for.

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Chasing Dragons - Checkmate EP 
Chasing Dragons - Checkmate

Leeds heavy rockers Chasing Dragons are back with a fiver track EP and it couldn't start off in more ambitious or dramatic style that the filmic and over the top 'Prelude' which, for my money, ought to be the opening music to the next and much darker than usual James Bond film. It's on 'Throwing Down Your King' that things start to really take shape as those chunky speed riffs and horses-hooves drums start gallop relentlessly onwards. There is a more Guns'n'Roses feel to 'That's Not Love' as the Slash-esque guitars squeal and snarl for all they're worth and vocalist Tank slides effortlessly from seductive to threatening.

Now I know not everybody likes the heavier end of rock music but I defy anyone to resist the joys of the riff that introduces 'For The Sake Of Murder' which is the perfect counterfoil for Tank's raunchy rock singing. 'The Last Defence' starts with a gentle, neo-classical piano riff but soon the drama levels start to build and before the end we are looking at a full on rock ballad that Queen or Bon Jovi would be proud of. The EP finishes with arguably the best track, 'Broken Jaws', which has a soul despite the speed and fury with which the guitars twist, turn and grind. Chasing Dragons are the kind of band that would have a huge following in the US if they were from California , for instance,

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Live Dates:

9th July - The MacBeth, London
2nd August - The Shed, Leicester
20th August - The Cockpit, Leeds w/William Control
21st August - Lomax, Liverpool
22nd August - The Club That Rocks, Consett

19th September - The Underworld, London


Antesaint - Hold On EP 
Antesaint - Hold On

This four piece from Barnsley have a cracking list of influences including Deftones, Incubus, Foo Fighters, QOTSA and Nirvana. What's more, the opening track of this EP, 'Hold On', is a volley of huge sounding guitars, booming drums and grinding bass. But I'm looking at a picture of the band and front-woman-cum-bassist Hayley Smith cuts a diminutive figure so I'm more than a little concerned that she'll be able to keep up with the power the rest of the band creates. Then she takes a deep breath and lets rip and I really should never have worried as Smith has smooth but powerful vocal style that can more than keep up with the heavy guitars and furious pace. 'Falling' is more of a ballad but that impressive voice is still ever-present and the band show restraint not to over play their parts as the music builds to a sumptuous crescendo. Final track 'Downfall' has the choppy riffs and big beats of a Foo Fighters song but, for all the fantastic influences, Antesaint have a something a bit different and these days that's half the battle. Given the right guidance and a tune with a big enough hook, big things could happen for these four rockers.

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Sonic Boom Six vs The Cradle To The Rave - Natty Hawks (Xtra Mile Recordings) 
Sonic Boom Six vs The Cradle To The Rave - Natty Hawks

Take two politically and philosophically charged bands and force them together in a Glasgow backstage pit one night and you're gonna be staring down the barrel of this new single and free download, 'Natty Hawks'. Scottish riot-step pioneers The Cradle To The Rave have teamed up with Manchester agit-rockers Sonic Boom Six to create something that brings the likes of Asian Dub Foundation and Rage Against The Machine together in a furious, intense and direct slice of danceable, moshable and political rock. This is the way music should be made, out of a fusion of passion and ideologies which is why I'm so pleased that they've not only made this song but they're also giving it away for free. Go get yourself some.

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Small Town Get Up - New Noise 
Small Town Get Up - New Noise

Grimsby, Ontario, sounds far more sophisticated than just plain Grimsby, for some reason but for all I know they are just the same. Small Town Get Up are a seven piece from the Canadian version of the town who dabble in indie-rock with a distinct ska flavour. The album opens up with 'Homecoming' and a flurry of horns intermingling with guitars that creates a sound like a more edgy Reel Big Fish or a more melodic Rocket From The Crypt. I'm hooked in straight away. 'Found A Reason' is a bouncing barrel of fun with punk meeting ska meeting pop with a focus on melodies while 'Take The Night' is an edgier tune that puts me in mind of the Ataris or the Vandals - both bands I absolutely love.

The horn section that forms four sevenths of this band really add an extra layer of power and melody to these tunes but even without them the songs would still be infectious ska punk fun. Having said that, a serious proportion of 'Day I Die' would be just plain silence if it weren't for the rich and sumptuous horns. The rumbling bass and pounding drums of 'Forget Me Not' take things from nought to 70 miles an hour before you can say pogo before 'Nothing To Say' takes things back a step but with a real sing-a-long set of lyrics. The album approaches the end with 'Don't Tell Me' which has a real New Orleans Mardi Gras feel to it and the final tune, 'Say Lenor, closes the album with a real sense the dramatic and a huge set of riffs. As a straight up indie rock band Small Town Get Up would be just fine but with those big horns involved and that sense of Ska fun these guys really take things to another level. Infectious stuff.

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Live Dates:

15th July - The Cave, Toronto

30th August - Festival Of Good Things, Sarnia


Hounds - Monster, Begin Transmission Part 3 
Hounds - Monster, Begin Transmissions 3

Hounds are four lads with, apparently, glowing eyes and a penchant for intense punk with a 21st century twist. Following on from the likes of Enter Shikari and a pumped up Automatic the quartet open with 'Buy Your Soul' and immediately you notice the rave sized electro beats, the synths and the sneering, Prodigy-esque vocals. 'They Creep At Night' follows up next and it's a deeper groove with more of a dance feel that would work well in dance clubs and rock clubs alike which could be the key to success for these guys as they straddle that alternative line perfectly. The EP finishes up with 'Monster ', a song that features the most furious beats of the three but retains the punk vocal style and the meaty electro melodies. Hounds' scheduled show at Sonisphere in July would appear to be their natural habitat and I'm sure their live performance will be just as intense and energised as the music.

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Live Dates:

4th July - Sonisphere, Knebworth Park

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Ali Ingle - A Life Unlike Yours 
Ali Ingle - A Life Unlike Yours

Release Date: 28th June 2014

Liverpudlian scamp Ali Ingle is back with a new EP of songs and an improbable piece of cover art that I wouldn't want to attempt - not with my knees. The EP begins with the title track, 'A Life Unlike Yours', which is a beautiful blend of Springsteen-esque vocal melodies but with the awkwardness of David Kitt or Jim Noir after a few pints having a go at an Ed Sheeran impression. 'Yours Alone' is a mellower affair but has that commercial feel so many solo male acts are succeeding with at the moment - somewhere between acoustic folk and a slow jam with a big bass drum beat.

Ingle is a talent, there's no denying that, but he's taking alternative influences and straddling the line between the credible and the commercial which is so hard to do well these days. The second half of the EP kicks with recent single 'The Locker' which has a more American twang and an interesting video that's worth checking out. Just as it's getting in to its stride the EP comes to a close with 'I Won't Be There', a song  that opens with mournful keys before growing to a subdued triumphalism like Elbow finding a tenner in their collective pockets on a Sunday morning after a late night at the pub. Given the right push and the patronage of a BBC Radio 2 DJ I think Mr Ingle might just be able to turn one of these tunes in to an ear worm of epic proportions.

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The Splendid End - Demonstration Suite 
The Splendid End - Demonstration Suite

Well this is a bit different. I mean, it's not groundbreaking but Minneapolis band The Splendid End are certainly drawing on some references that I haven't heard in music for a little while. Opening track 'Whine', for example, sounds like a slowed down Blondie or Belly having a go at a woozy ballad while 'Grey' is part Pixies and part Velvet Underground from the brooding bass line to the lazy drums. By the time we wash up on 'Holkham Beach' to the sound of a gentle piano lullaby the likes of Tennis spring to mind as Amy Buchanan's sweet voice drifts over the salty air only to be drowned out by some triumphant and uplifting guitars a la Iggy and the Stooges.

I'm intrigued by the song 'Falmouth Princess' seeing as I live quite close to the original Cornish fishing town but before long the acoustic punk of 'Part Two' takes over and there is no let up. The minds of Albarn and Coxon could easily have concocted 'Saturated' while 'Afterafew' and 'I Can't Promise A Thing' show signs of garage and shoe-gaze influences respectively. There are thirteen tracks on this album and each one feels individual and well thought out which is so wonderfully refreshing that it is worth making a note of. 'Add Alcohol', which features the simple but effective lyric of "Add alcohol and watch things fall apart" is a mess of percussion and layer upon layer of organs, guitars and vocal harmonies. The Blondie references are there for all to hear on 'Gone Wrong' and 'Adult Entertainment' but there is a real 70s feel to the moods created that drift from punk to psyche to juddery rock'n'roll. The final pair of tunes starts with the bone rattling drumming of 'Make Up, Break Up' and ends with 'Dear Baby', a song which is a Veruca Salt sized set closer that can only finish in a whirlwind of distortion and cymbals. This is a truly original sounding album with a melting pot of influences behind it that most people would agree is tantalising. I wholeheartedly recommend giving this a few listens to get the most out of it.

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Mesa Jane - Level 
Mesa Jane - Levels

Iiiiiiiiiiin West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent.....what? Oh, sorry. So you're saying Mesa Jane (aka Melissa Olivieri) is from Philadelphia but she isn't the Fresh Princess? Well, you learn something new every day. This new album from the Philly chanteuse starts with 'Haunt You' and immediately it's obvious that Mesa Jane makes polished but darkly seductive electro pop with a sophisticated edge. 'Lay Your Arms Down' does nothing to dispel this theory as I am reminded of the likes of Dubstar, the Sneaker Pimps, Everything But The Girl and Ellie Goulding before she started hanging around in her bra. On 'Love You Endlessly' there's a breathy, sexual feel that the likes of Britney or Miley would kill for right now while 'Don't Stop' is a straight up, bouncing pop romp with some gorgeous synth sounds thrown in for good measure.

Things take a turn for the melancholy on the gently defiant 'I Won't Take It Anymore' as Mesa Jane goes for a sound between Portishead and Air which is a pretty beautiful sound. 'Happen Again' is another downbeat tune full of tenderness before 'Coming Through' emerges from the shadows with a sense of defiance and layered up melodies that sweep in and out of view. Mesa Jane has a subdued sensuality and seductiveness to her voice that so many of the great electro singers have and the richness of her tones makes up for the often sparse instrumentation as on the gently industrial 'Why Don't We'. And then, just to provide a moment of clarity, Melissa sits down at a grand piano and gentle squeezes some notes out to form the beginning of 'Meet You There' - a song that, in the wrong hands, would have been an emo power ballad but not here. Oh no. The simple but sumptuous piano merges with our heroines voice and only a few extra ripples of cymbal are needed to eek every drop of emotion out of this song. The album closes with the St Etienne-esque 'I Can't Feel' and a remix of 'I Won't Take It Anymore' by CJ which adds a new perspective on the original but doesn't improve it. Mesa Jane is an understated talent and, as such, I fear that she will get overlooked but I hope she can get her music heard more outside of the US as I have a feeling the British, German and Scandinavian markets would lap this up. Just a hunch. Oh, and she makes chunky knit wear look pretty sexy too so that's always a fall back career.

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Live Dates:

12th July - Gr8 Soundz, Hellertown
19th July - Jo Jo South Records, Baltimore
27th July - Val's Halla Records,
1st August - Absolute Records, Boulder
2nd August - Rock N' Robbin's Records, Fort Collins
6th August - Diabolical Records, Salt Lake City

10th August - Music Millennium, Portland


The Sea The Sea - Captives 
The Sea The Sea - Captives

I do like it when bands have a conscious shift in a new direction purely because they want to and, with a new, darker synth strewn sound, The Sea The Sea have made just that shift. 'Captives' is a free download single (that's right, free) which acts as a subtly gorgeous precursor to a new EP that is due later in the year. The tightly plucked guitars, sparse melodies and distant vocals leave this tune in a dark room somewhere on the same corridor as Delphic, Editors, Joy Division and Swim Deep - a pretty cool corridor, huh? According to that their interweb, the band are set to cross the pond from Oxford to the U. S. of A. later this year and I have a feeling this very English indie will earn them a fervent cult following if nothing else.

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Live Dates:

3rd July - The Cellar, Oxford
8th July - Rockwood Music Hall, New York w/Roger Street Friedman + Rachel Ries
4th September - Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton

6th September - Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, New York


Allusondrugs - Allusondrugs EP (Clue Records) 
Allusondrugs EP

Release Date: 21st July 2014

This is the fourth time I've sat down over the last 11 months to listen to new material from Leeds upstarts Allusondrugs and every time it's been an absolute pleasure. This new EP, their longest release to date, is accompanied by a lengthy summer of touring which I thoroughly approve of (no Southwest date though, I need to have words with their booker). 'I'm Your Man' opens proceedings and is probably one of the mellower Allusondrugs tracks but still manages to channel Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins blended with the Charlatans and the Stone Roses in some sort of weird 90s fusion. And then comes one of my favourite song titles in a long time: 'Ted, What's The Porn Like In Heaven'. Title aside, this is a song of Biffy Clyro proportions but with the nervous swagger of Reuben and those throat shredding vocals are a thing of beauty.

It is on 'Cherry Pie', however, that these guys show what they are made of as a terrifying use of what sounds like a rusty hack-saw on the guitar creates a nightmarish but alluring riff with industrial roots - it's kinda like a remake of Charlie and Chocolate Factory as directed by Trent Reznor and starring Christopher Walken as Willie Wonka (actually that sounds better than that Depp catastrophe....get my agent on the phone). Recent single 'Nervous' pops up sounding as huge and impregnable as ever before 'Sunset Yellow' shows off the bands more tender side as gliding droplets of guitar notes give way to slow but crunching riffs that burst and crackle through the speakers.

The final track on this collection is 'Thingio' and we start to get a taste of the future as there is more of a swagger and ease about the low slung riffs. It's almost as though these guys are growing in to this rock star thing and their relentless gigging-writing-releasing schedule is starting to pay off. I saw an article online the other day that suggested British rock music was essentially lying face down in puddle of its own vomit. Well, that may be true but if it is then Allusondrugs have just nicked it's wallet and stepped over it's still body on the way to the future.

More information:

Live Dates:

5th July - The Wardrobe, Leeds
11th July - Exchange Arts Centre, Keighley
12th July - The Works Skatepark, Leeds
17th July - Proud Galleries, Camden
20th July - The Rocking Chair, Sheffield
25th July - Millennium Galleries @ Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
26th July - Lounge 41, Workington
27th July - Clarence Festival, Wakefield
1st August - The Puzzle Hall, Sowerby Bridge
2nd August - Temple of Boom, Leeds
7th August - Bar Bloc, Glasgow
14th August - Wharf Chambers, Leeds
11th September - The 13th Note, Glasgow
12th September - Downstairs, Aberdeen
13th September - Pickett, Liverpool
14th September - Think Tank, Newcastle
15th September - Static Bar, Swansea
16th September - Red Rooms, Nottingham
17th September - The Garage, London
18th September - Sticky Mikes, Brighton
19th September - The Crauford Arms, Milton Keynes
20th September - Huddlefest, Huddersfield
21st September - Boiler Room, Guildford

22nd September - Joiners, Southampton

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Dressmaker - Glass EP 
Dressmaker - Glass EP

This is one of those times when the name of the band doesn't really match up to the music but in this case it's the name that lets the side down. The music that this London based quartet make is so incredibly intense and dark that they ought to be called something like Searing Cocoa or Black Treacle. The opening track, for instance, comes in the form of 'Glass' which is a heady blend of Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Placebo and the Jesus & Mary Chain that is as relentless as it is sexy. 'The Future' is up next and this is the music that folk in the late 70s thought the future would sound like as punk clashes with Zappa-esque tendencies and a Mark E Smith approach to vocal performance.

Ironically, it's only as 'We Breathe' starts to beat me around the head that I realise these guys are from East London and suddenly it all makes sense as all the film noir moods and art school cool are key ingredients in this thick, dark, syrupy soup. The fourth and final track on this 20 minute EP is 'Skeleton Girl' which has touches of the Scottish about it as Glasvegas and the darkest moments of Franz Ferdinand seep through the cracks like maroon blood through the floor boards of a serial killer's spare bedroom. This is not music to go running to or to put on at a dinner party but if you want to do your nut to something that sounds cool or seduce a goth girl/guy who is hard to impress then Dressmaker might just be the band for you.

More information:

Live Dates:

15th July - Powerlunches, London
16th July - 13th Note, Glasgow
17th July - Bannermans, Edinburgh
18th July - Wharf Chambers, Leeds
19th July - Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton

25th July - Buffalo Bar, London


Dream Lake - Let Us Stay In The Light (100 Songs) 
Dream Lake - Let Us Stay In The Light

Stockholm duo Dream Lake are back with a new single and my girlfriend thinks it starts off sounding like the intro to a day time soap opera on Granada TV. I, on the other hand, think that 'Let Us Stay In The Night' sounds like a gentle, airy, Scandinavian version of Ellie Goulding. The floaty piano melodies and dream like electronic sweeps are Royksopp shaped and are made to be listened to whilst sitting on a veranda looking out over a tranquil, glassy lake on a still autumn morning as the sunshine dapples through the orange leaves. This is blissfully calm stuff and I recommend you strap on some headphones and give this listen any time you feel the red mist rising.

More information: 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Uncle Luc - I Write 
Uncle Luc - I Write

I'm instantly enamoured with this tune from Surrey-ite Uncle Luc (aka Luke Barham) and I think you will be too. 'I Write' is, on the surface of things, a simple song with a gratifying acoustic chug, rattling percussion and a gently throbbing bass line that pulses through the song with pleasing persistence. But listen again and you'll hear that effortless English indie-pop shining through that the likes of Squeeze, the Police and Blur had such success with over the years. There is way, way more to come from Uncle Luc but as an opening shot this is pretty amazing. And if you think I'm being over confident then don't worry - you see, Luke was once in an awesome band who died a death before their time was up but I'm not going to mention them. Let's just focus on this gorgeous solo material and the, frankly, creepy moniker Uncle Luc that makes the singer sound like that French guy you would always see leaving through your mum's kitchen when you got home early from school.

More information:

Live Dates:

5th July - The Windmill, London
21st July - The Lock Tavern, London

20th September - Southsea Fest, Southsea


Departure Kids - On The Go (Howlin Banana Records) 
Departure Kids - On The Go

Marseille quartet Departure Kids are a suave bunch of motherfuckers and even before I've listened to a note I know they'll be about as interested in my opinion as my mum is in Norwegian dark wave. But I don't care, I'm going to tell them what I think anyway. 'Right Now (Tell Me About It)' gets things started with a chugging bass, ramshackle drums and guitars that the Libertines would have been proud of in their full pomp. The charmingly titled 'Wanking Too Hard' is actually a sweet toned if a little rambunctious romp with jangly guitars and the sound of football fans just about holding a tune. 'Left On Earth' continues at the same care free, breakneck pace while 'Suit It Up' veers from up-tempo to wistful like a drunk on a moped.

This is music made by a gang of mates who are hell bent on having a good time through their music but they take a step back from the brink on 'Pas Besoin De Toi' with a slow building acoustic tune that is as dirgy and melancholic as most of my favourite depressive 90s bands. Normal service is resumed on 'Wondering' as the indie-rock themes continue but 'Let Me Stand There' is a much more effective rock'n'roll tune which takes elements of the Beatles and the jangle of the La's to make something altogether more interest. The album finishes up with 'Rat City', which would fit in with the likes of Catfish & Bottlemen these days, and 'Avion' which has a thoroughly satisfying chug to it as the guitars echo and bounce off the walls. This is bright, lively and youthful stuff with some addictive melodies and infectious beats that will appeal to any lover of jangly indie with a rock'n'roll edge.

More information:



MTV Crashes Plymouth - 2 Pairs of Tickets up for grabs 

So the institution that is MTV is coming to Plymouth on Tuesday 15th July to bring some big live acts to play in the open air on Plymouth's iconic Hoe promenade. The acts to feature are Leeds indie-rockers Kaiser Chiefs, rapper Example, popular Manchester lads The 1975 and New York pop starlet Kiesza. But why am I telling you all this? Well, Listen With Monger has got it's greasy little paws on not one but two pairs of tickets which are yours for free...all you have to do is retweet or share the status that brought you here and let all you friends know about Listen With Monger. 

Two lucky winners will be picked at random on Friday 4th July. 

Go spread the word people!

Monday, 23 June 2014


Sounds Of The Sirens - Under The Stars EP 
Sound Of The Sirens - Under The Stars EP

Shockingly, I still haven't managed to catch this duo live yet which is shocking because they are a quality act from my neck of the woods but also because they seem to be relentlessly gigging - something I wholeheartedly approve of. Fortunately for us, they found just enough time between all these gigs to knock out an EP containing four new tracks and it all begins with 'Still Life'. This opening track starts gently with those trademark tight vocal harmonies but the chorus starts to breathe life in to the melody and by the end those rousing guitars and stomping percussive rhythms are really hooked in. 'Undeserved' starts with nothing but the vocal harmonies before the Exeter duo show a moodier, more brooding side which turns in to outright defiance and the kind of lyrics that display more girl power than the Spice Girls ever did.

The delicate, folkish openings to 'All That I Could Find' are the aural equivalent of the morning after a big break up when you know you've got your whole life ahead of you but you can't help mulling over what has gone before. This is where Sound Of The Sirens excel, in their ability to switch between the rousing crowd pleaser and the heartbreaking folk ballad that could reduce a fully grown man to a sobbing heap in minutes. The final track is 'Stars' and a bit of subtle mandolin is added in for good measure as the song builds steadily to a foot stomping, chest beating crescendo that is sure to make this one a firm favourite with the numerous crowds they play to on a regular basis. I can thoroughly recommend the music made by Abbe and Hannah but I urge you to listen regardless of your tastes just to revel in the glory of their superb vocal harmonies. Glorious.

More information: /

Live Dates:

27th June - Popped Music Stage, Upton
11th July - Tiverton Balloon Festival, Tiverton
19th July - LFest, Uttoxeter
27th July - Forever Sun Festival, Dorchester w/Happy Mondays + John Otway
3rd August - Looe Angling Club, Looe
8th August - Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter w/Kast Off Kinks
9th August - Boardmasters Festival, Newquay w/Snoop Dogg + Chase & Status
14th August - The Phoenix, St Mawgan
23rd August - Victorious Vintage, Southsea
23rd August - Purbeck Folk Festival, New Swanage
24th August - Ferryboat, Shaldon
13th September - Eastbourne Steampunk, Eastbourne
14th September - Moreton Day of Music, Moretonhampstead

9th November - Ferryboat, Shaldon


Tech Music Schools/Various Artists - Singles: Original Song Anthology 

Release Date: 16th June 2014

When I moved to London fresh from Uni a few years ago I was hell bent on getting a job that had some vague connection to music. I was lucky enough to find a job working for the fledgling Tech Music Schools in glamorous Acton and I flippin' loved it so I really want to like this release which is a collection of original songs from their latest batch of students. Split across two CDs, this collection starts with a look at what these artists can do at full strength in the live band room, Room 1 if you like. Bellafigura kick things off in style with 'Red Light', a song that takes the darkness of Black Sabbath, the moodiness of Soundgarden and the sex appeal of the Doors and wraps it all up in a gorgeous leather clad bundle. It's a hard act to follow but Katy Pickles, despite sounding like a children's TV presenter, is ready to win your heart with her soft, slow and soulful tune 'Lying To Myself' which would be eminently forgettable were it not for the rich, sultry tones and country twang of Ms Pickles. New Yorker Maria Brosgul has a style that is reminiscent of something between the Noisettes, Regina Spektor and Nina Persson which provides a delightful, impish quality to 'Operator' that is hard to ignore. Singer Songwriter Becky Arundel has created a great contender for the next Polish Eurovision entry in 'Alive' which shows off a talented voice let down but some average songwriting that Shakira would probably be happy with.

So far, so good but in DIA we have the first artist that seems to be attempting something a little bit unique. 'ICY ICY' is immediately enthralling as it channels the likes of Kimbra and Gwen Stefani at her most eccentric through the delicate voice and electronic melodies of Danish-Japanese (Ida Kudo Hoffding to create something really complex and engaging. By comparison, the mellow pop-rock balladry of The Nearly's 'Deep Breath' is dull and more than a little cheesy and, despite the string section, is also shoe-in for Eurovision 2015. After so many female vocalists, George Price is instantly refreshing as are his meandering guitar notes that eventually give way to a light, skittish beat and complete disregard for any lyrics - 'Stick Vibes' is a beautifully sumptuous interlude. The press blurb states that Willo is an androgynous mixture of Jessie J and Lana Del Rey and I can see the former reference in this piano lead piece of uptempo emo-pop that will speak to Radio 1 listeners more than it does to me. 'Ready To Go' is prime for being pumped out at clubs and sung to eager teens at the Big Weekender and who am I to say that's wrong?

The first half of this collection finishes up with two more female vocalists of slightly differing styles. LOUDD (Louise Uddin) offers up 'High' which brings back memories of mid-90s r'n'b full of mildly sexual lyrics and a soft, soulful voice that is equal parts innocence and flirtatiousness. The last act to vie for your attention is Kiwi, an Italian singer-songwriter with dulcet tones and a penchant for 80s power ballads as exemplified on the dramatic and emotive 'Sandstorm'. Now, let's see what these kids can do without the full band in the stripped down Room 2....

Maria Brosgol
The order switches around so we start where we left off with Kiwi and the song 'Doll's House' which is anDIA, is up next and 'Break It' starts off with some dubious guitar work but Ida's siren-like voice brings it back from the brink and I stand by my decision - definitely one to watch. It's pretty clear that Maria Brosgol is a prodigious talent as the neo-classical 'Mother Mary' shows off her outstanding voice but a tip of the cap should go to Adrien Pigeat for some gorgeous piano work and string arrangement.  Lancastrian girl Katy Pickles improves no end on her first effort with ' She Spoke Words', a song that mixes soul with folk beautifully and nearly brings a tear to my eye in the way Laura Marling so often manages to do. Our androgynous friend Willo is back with 'Lionheart', a song begging to be played whilst sat on a high stool with glittering lights all around as the vocalist pours out his heart for all to hear.
instant improvement on the earlier track with off-kilter rhythms and a more intriguing vocal performance that puts me in mind of early Nelly Furtado material. My favourite from Room 1,

Bella Figura
We're approaching the end of this collection and one thing is clear - these are all talented performers but the art of songwriting is something that is not easily learnable no matter how good the teaching. The Nearly have crafted a perfectly formed song in the shape of 'Fire In You' but much like their first effort it just doesn't evoke any kind of emotion and, at best, sounds like a Gabrielle album track. However, there is a zest and vigour to Becky Arundel's 'Standing Still' that shows flashes of promise as she seeks to occupy the same space as KT Tunstall, Katy B and Sound of the Sirens. It seems LOUDD's place is second to last as this is her slot on both collections but as this is simply an acoustic version of the same song then that was perhaps a wise decision. Nevertheless, 'High (acoustic)' is a little more sensuous and contemporary than the original version despite the unnecessary percussion which seems to urgent for the mood of the song. So, finally we return to the band that started it all as Bella Figura close proceedings with a live version of 'There Comes A Time' which is part Pearl Jam, part the National and part Crash Test Dummies (mainly the singer's rich baritone voice) but the sum of those parts is darkly beautiful. The repeated refrain of "I don't wanna be loved by just anyone, I just wanna be loved by one" is easily the best lyric on here and deserves to be sung by crowds at festivals all over the country this summer. A lot of talent then, but my picks would be the quirkiness of DIA, the brooding rock of Bella Figura and the gifted Maria Brosgol. I'll see the rest of you after class for extra, not of coke. Bloody rockstars.....

More information:
Tech Music Schools -
Bella Figura -
Katy Pickles -
Maria Brosgol -
Becky Arundel -
The Nearly - ?
Willo -
George Price -
Louise Uddin/LOUDD - ?

Kiwi -

Sunday, 22 June 2014


Royal Tusk - Mountain EP 
Royal Tusk - Mountain EP

No time for preamble, this is big stuff. Canadian boys Royal Tusk (great name, by the way) write huge, chunky pop tunes with hooks only eclipsed by the size of their facial hair so I need to tell you all about! 'Shadow Of Love' opens the EP and, at various points, features the swagger of the Killers, the sex appeal of Kings Of Leon, the riffs of Arctic Monkeys and the effortless cool of a Dave Grohl or Josh Homme. As the keys scatter through the air and the drums pound, the guitars lurk in the corner only to come flying out to take centre stage in a black leather suit and sunglasses. There is a particularly west-coast US feel to 'Engine' as the polished melodies provide the perfect backdrop to the lung bustingly impassioned vocals. 'Smoke Rings' starts off feeling like Dutch Uncles before going in to latter day Incubus territory with spiraling guitars, gorgeous keys and a variety of time signatures.

This is a debut EP from this five piece and their previous stints in other bands have clearly honed their musical skills as this all sounds remarkably polished and confident. The second half of the EP gets underway with 'The Letter', a tune that would be equally at home in smoky 50s saloon bar or a dusk slot on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury as it bounces along with piano stabs interplaying beautifully with the thumping drums. There is a dangerous dalliance with Maroon 5 or Bruno Mars-esque pop-rock on 'Years Ago' but closing track 'Jesus Saves' brings back a certain brooding sense of cool that, along with the Franz Ferdinand guitars, seals the deal for me. Royal Tusk have a big future if they keep producing tunes like these but I get the feeling they'll be on to another new project before too long and who am I to stand in their way? Nobody, that's who.

More information:

Live Dates:

23rd June - The Towerhouse, Sudbury
25th June - Crocks, Thunder Bay
27th June - The Artful Dodger, Regina

28th June - Vangelis Tavern, Saskatoon


Lyonn - Promenade EP 
Lyonn - Promenade

According to his (presumably) self-written PR, Tyler Gerlud is influenced by Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, Coldplay and Leonardo Dicaprio, is based in Orange County or Knoxville and is a good kisser. Now this combination of information either makes Gerlud a dull but arrogant bore or a self-assured yank with an appetite for British indie. This EP is released under the name Lyonn and begins with 'Dancing Machine' which actually seems somewhere between the Feeling and Savage Garden but in a tolerable way. Lyonn's soft, tender vocals that herald the beginning of 'Midnight Mind' soon give way to thundering, horses hooves and an urgent bit of guitar strumming as the likes of Bastille and softer elements of Silverchair come through in the music.

'Just Say Hello' really shows the Ed Sheeran inspiration as the guitars bob along merrily enough with impassioned vocals sailing airily over the top. The EP closes with 'Sing You To Sleep' which is a sweeping, melodramatic piece of piano based moodiness that has a cinematic quality to it. I can see what Lyonn/Tyler Gerlud is trying to do here but there isn't quite enough to hook you in and make you fall in love on this EP. There is obviously talent here but as is so often the case with solo artists, Lyonn could perhaps benefit from someone else to bounce ideas off and to push him on creatively. More to come, I would suggest.

More information:

Listen/Download Here:

Live Dates:

19th September - Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


Andy Lovelee - Love You, Today 
Andy Lovelee - Love You, Today

London based Lovelee looks like he could be a male model, flitting between moody black and white photo shoots and gigs with a flick of his blonde locks. Either that or he's Chesney Hawkes' nephew. But we don't judge a book by its cover here at LWM towers so let's all close our eyes and take in Andy's music for what it is. 'Love You, Today' starts with some woozy synths and a sleep heart beat rhythm before Lovelee's high, poppy vocal sachays in like something between Mika, Milli Vanilli and Temposhark. And that's kind of it. It's not a bad song and has a certain cinematic quality to it but it never really hits any peaks or swoops down in to any emotional troughs which you might expect for a song about love. Lovelee has a pretty unique voice but I think it needs a better vehicle than this tune.

More information:


Champion Lover - Champion Lover (Unprofitable Records) 
Champion Lover - Champion Lover

Release Date: 20th June 2014

BANG! Let's go. Toronto's Champion Lover waste no time in getting this album underway as the rifle shot drums and hot-rod engine guitars of 'Read My Mind' remind of a mis-spent summer listening to the likes of Engine 88. 'Shooter' calms things down a notch but the slacker punk ethos is the same and so it is on 'Just Hollow' although this track in particular wants to rut with you like an over sexed uncle at a wedding disco. The beautiful chaos continues on the flailing, hell for leather riff-a-thon that is 'Could You Be Mine' while 'Bad Day' has a more QOTSA meets Death From Above chug about it that is all aviator shades, Marlboro reds and leather driving gloves even though there isn't a car in sight.

The absorbing grunge-punk of 'How Will I Know' not only displays a flagrant disregard for question marks but also speeds through like the Ramones on a mission before 'I See You' rumbles along and you soon realise that Champion Lover live life in the fast lane because that's the only way they know how. 'She Likes Wu-Tang' reminds me of a great University 'debate' I had with a girl in a club about what a great song 'Gravel Pits' was only to realise an hour later she had no idea what I was saying - it's also a low slung, sleazoid of a song. I love the low-end riffing on this album as well as the drummer that sounds like one of those guys who just can't sit still no matter what medication he takes and these aspects are both in great display on 'Lost'. 'Vacant Heart (Spring Break)' brings things to a shuddering, heart-attack stop after a punishing 6 minutes that climaxes in a melee of feedback, distortion and the realisation that you've been drinking for 4 days straight and you're late for work - 4 days late. Champion Lover don't give a shit whether I like them or not and I don't think they care too much for you either but I do like them (alot) and you probably should too. Just don't expect them to hang around for a chat after the gig unless you're at least willing bring them some beer or have a talented tongue.

More information:


Live Dates:

20th June - Rancho Relaxo, Toronto