Sunday, 31 August 2014


Damn Vandals - Cities Of A Plastic World / Too Lazy To Die Too Stoned To Live (Sexy Beast) 
Damn Vandals - Cities Of A Plastic World /
Too Lazy To Die Too Stoned To Live

Release Date: 22nd September 2014

I do love rock'n'roll so. Londoners Damn Vandals have got a swagger and bluster that you rarely see in a band with melodies to match so it's exciting to have this double-A side crop up in my inbox. 'Cities Of A Plastic World' is an unforgiving piece of sinister, shadow-lurking rock that is part Grinderman, part Cooper Temple Clause and part Boss Hogg all wrapped up in a Clash shaped bundle. The other half of this single, 'Too Lazy To Die Too Stoned To Live', was possibly my motto during my uni years but in real terms is now a sweat and vomit stained leather jacket that reeks of strong liquor and desperation. I have no idea what Damn Vandals look like but from the way they sound I'm assuming that Brylcreem, tattoos and the colour black are involved (I just checked, I was wrong).

More information:

Listen Here:

Live Dates:

20th September - Single Launch @ The Sebright Arms, London  


Mary Joanna & The Southern Electrikk - Wasted (Mexican Bedroom) 
Mary Joanna & The Southern Electrikk - Wasted

Release Date: 22nd September 2014

If your surname was Coogan and your dad had been in an influential 90s band while your uncle was a Marmite comedian of the modern ages you would probably drop it to see if you could be taken seriously on your own. Such is the case with frontwoman Mary Joanna who is here with a Mancunian supergroup behind her to present her debut single 'Wasted'. The soft shuffle of the drums and gentle guitars are seductive enough but Mary Joanna's vocals are the real winner here as she sings a siren song that essentially says "you will fall in love with me and I will show absolutely no interest in you unless it benefits me to do so". I'm not saying she's a bitch, oh no, it's just that our heroine has already mastered that art of rock'n'roll cool that so many aspire to and never achieve. A muted but intriguing debut, then, but there's more to come here, of that I am sure.

More information:

Live Dates:

20th September - Tiger Lounge, Manchester

7th November - 12 Bar Club, London w/Band Of Holy Joy


Saigon - Exo Exo (No Method Records) 
Saigon - Exo Exo

Release Date: 8th September 2014

Swedish quintet Saigon have a new single for us - how kind!? 'Exo Exo' is a fairly brutal and unforgiving piece of electro with a jack hammer bass line and a synth drone the just won't quit. Somewhere between Gary Newman, the Arcade Fire and Sleigh Bells is where Saigon exist and there is certainly a place for that kind of music although this is neither chillout music nor is it seduction tuneage...unless you've already got your paramour tied up on a gurney with a ball-gag in their mouth. If that's the case then you're golden.

More information:


Limbo Kids - Graceless 
Limbo Kids - Graceless

Release Date: 29th September 2014

Oxford lads Limbo Kids are back with a new single and video in the shape of 'Graceless'. This is classy indie with chiming guitars in the vein of Young Knives, Vampire Weekend or Bombay Bicycle Club as befits a band from such a learned city. This isn't the most immediate song I've heard this year but it has a certain slender charm to it and if it was to take it's glasses off, let it's hair down and put on a push up bra I'd probably take it to the prom....if I were a horny and shallow teenage American boy. Which I'm not....most of the time.

More information:

Watch The Video:

Live Dates:

11th September - The Cellar, Oxford

16th September - Sebright Arms, London 


Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators  - World On Fire (Roadrunner Records) 
Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators - World On Fire

Release Date: 15th September 2014

One cold autumn night in 2001 I went to a rock club in Sheffield to interview the rock legend Slash for my university magazine. I was terrified, he was a gentleman and the night goes a bit hazy after a while but I do remember he asked to borrow my lighter and never gave it back. I'm not one to hold a grudge though so I'll give a fair hearing to the new vehicle for one of the most iconic musicians of all time. This album opens with the title track, 'World On Fire', and we go from 0 to 60 faster than you can say rock'n'roll. Sleazy guitars and snarling vocals courtesy of Myles Kennedy - sounding not unlike Axl Rose in his prime - are the order of the day and what else did any of you expect? 'Shadow Life' is a slower, more ballad-like number without losing that rock feel while 'Automatic' has a slick feel about it that is somewhere between Buckcherry and Audioslave.

The difficult thing is listening to Slash without just straight thinking of Guns'n'Roses but fortunately there is a more polished and rounded sounded to this album which makes that an easier task. On 'Wicked Stone', for example, the guitars chime out like warning bells before that distinctive six string grunt kicks in and Kennedy's vocal snakes around you like snake with bourbon for venom. '30 Years To Life' has some great Louisiana slide guitar running through it that makes you want to find a convertible and take a road strip before 'Bent To Fly' takes things to a mellower, Chris Cornell inspired place which is alright by me. The guitars on 'Stone Blind' are balanced precariously between having fun like Kid Rock and causing trouble like Motley Crue. 'Too Far Gone' is more abrasive tune in the vein of Rage Against The Machine but with smoother vocals while 'Beneath The Savage Sun' is a doom laden, mildly industrial tune that should have a video featuring lots of molten metal an heavy chains. As the album ramps up to a climax, 'Withered' gets the crowd going with a groove so hard it's in danger of taking blood from vital parts of the body and then 'Battleground' gets all serious on our asses with a tune that needs lighters to be gently swayed along to the slow beat.

This is a beast of an album, however, and there is more to come starting in the shape of 'Dirty Girl' which is perhaps the most 80s hair metal tune written since the 80s disappeared up its own ass like an oversized mobile phone being swallowed whole by a despairing yuppie. 'Iris Of the Storm' swirls and churns relentlessly with that Audioslave sound present again while 'Avalon' firmly plants its foot on the monitor before rocking out with a steadily banging head. The last three tunes come thick and fast with the Deep South inspired 'The Dissident' followed sharply by 'Safari Inn', a groove heavy track if ever there was one, and finally 'The Unholy' - a seven minute opus which grows gradually before climaxing like a sexually charged volcanic eruption. There is a whole lot of rock'n'roll on this album which for many will be too much and you might need a lie down. However, for those of you with a more hardy spirit you will absolutely love this and, as an album, it provides proof that Slash has still got it....whatever 'it' is. Oh, and there's one hell of a world tour coming up so you've got no excuse really, have you? 

More information:

Live Dates:

31st August - Boardwalk, Atlantic City w/Aerosmith
3rd September - Prudential Center, Newark w/Aerosmith
5th September - Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket
6th September - Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow w/Aerosmith
9th September - DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston w/Aerosmith
12th September - Open Hearth Park, Sydney w/Aerosmith
23rd September - The Troubadour, West Hollywood
25th September - The Roxy, West Hollywood
26th September - The Whiskey, West Hollywood
10th November - O2 Arena, Dublin
12th November - Zenith, Paris
15th November - St Jakobsville, Basel
16th November - Pala Alpitour, Turin
17th November - Mandela Forum, Florence
19th November - Stadthalle, Vienna
20th November - Krakow Arena, Poland
22nd November - Zenith, Munich
23rd November - Palladium, Cologne
24th November - Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam
26th November - Forest Club, Brussels
28th November - Phones 4U Arena, Manchester
29th November - Leeds Arena, Leeds
1st December - LG Arena, Birmingham
2nd December - Wembley Arena, London
4th December - Hydro Arena, Glasgow
21st - 22nd February - Soundwave Festival, Melbourne/Adelaide

28th February - 1st March - Soundwave Festival, Brisbane/Sydney


Mozart's Sister - Being (Asthmatic Kitty/Paper Bag) 
Mozart's Sister - Being

Now I'm all for a pseudonym in music or any other art form for that matter but calling yourself Mozart's Sister is surely putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Also, when your real name is already the delightful Caila Thompson-Hannant then there really is no need to change. Nevertheless, the name is here to stay and the music is far more important so let's crack on with the opening track of this album, 'Good Thing Bad Thing, which sounds like Delphic and Bjork remixing a Katy Perry tune inspired by Prince. Not a bad start then. 'Enjoy' is up next and is a 90s dance infused tune with industrial beats in direct juxtaposition to Thompson-Hannant's sensual, soulful voice. On 'Faif' things get a little more dirty with a sexy bassline and naughty-but-nice vocals that are so breathy you'll find yourself getting hot under the collar before the first chorus is over.
There is a touch of Ladyhawke about 'Lone Wolf' which is no bad thing while 'A Move' is a skittish, quirky number that makes you feel slightly drunk - whether that be on alcohol, love or anything is up to you. 

Mozart's Sister mid sneeze. Bless You. 
Mozart's Sister has an experimental edge about it which explores the light and dark side of electro music all tied together with the rich, sweet and sticky vocal. 'Blow A Kiss' is a perfect example of this as staccato bass notes puncture the air, hitting your ribs like short, sharp punches but that voice is there to soothe your aches and pains immediately. 'Salty Tear' is a light, poppy number with some gorgeous synth sounds while 'Do It To Myself (Run Run)' is an 80s electro-pop stunner with a screw loose and 'Don't Leave It To Me' is a feisty track with choppy melodies and that soulful vocal in full effect. Penultimate track 'My House Is Wild' has a British feel about that wouldn't have been out place in the early 2000s or even now as the likes of Disclosure and Rudimental are brining that dubby dance sound back. The album closes with 'Chained' which is perhaps the most saccharine sweet melody of the collection but it still retains that darker, sharper edge. The fearless nature and boundary ignoring approach to this album is absolutely beautiful and utterly refreshing - Mozart would certainly approve.

More information:

Live Dates:

5th September - Windsor Hotel, Winnipeg w/PS I Love You
6th September - Amigos, Saskatoon w/PS I Love You
7th September - The Exchange, Regina w/PS I Love You
9th September - HiFi Club, Calgary w/PS I love You
10th September - Pawn Shop, Edmonton w/PS I Love You
12th September - Club Fortune, Vancouver w/PS I Love You
13th September - Alix Goolden Hall, Victoria
18th September - Le Late Night Little Burgundy, Montreal
19th September - Caberet Du Mile End, Montreal
21st October - Halifax Pop Explosion, Halifax

28th October - Webster Hall, New York

Saturday, 30 August 2014


Octave Minds - Anthem 
Octave Minds - Anthem

I love a good collaboration and this is an outstanding collaboration so listen up. Octave Minds is actually a merging of German Electro beast Boys Noize and all round Canadian genius Chilly Gonzales for a whole album of fun. 'Anthem' is the first warning shot from this album and fans of Lemon Jelly, Gilbert, Bent and generally anything slightly left of centre should sit up and pay attention. Rippling pianos, bursting bass lines and spine tingling beats all combine like a disco happening at dawn in a tropical rain forest before retreating as the light of day rolls through to calm everything down. Beautifully refreshing and exhilarating stuff from two giants of the electronic scene which you really out to wrap your ears around.

More information:


Angus & Julia Stone - Angus & Julia Stone (Virgin/EMI Records) 
Angus & Julia Stone

This is a Rick Rubin produced album and that very fact alone should be enough to spark some interest but the fact that this is the latest offering from Australian duo Angus and Julia Stone should also be worthy of attention on its own. Opening up with the laid back and slightly sombre 'A Heartbreak', we are immediately transported in to a world where everyone drives around in dusty leather jackets, cowboy boots and dark glasses whatever time of day or night it is. 'My Word For It' has a disorientating, warped guitar sound that suggests it was recorded under water while 'Grizzly Bear' has a smoky, chilled out vibe that Sheryl Crow always strived for but never quite achieved.  On 'Heart Beats Slow' the duo get their groove on with some light, scratch guitars and a bass that is smoother than a wet otter on silk sheets. 'Wherever You Are' is a gently picked acoustic melody while 'Get Home' has more punch in a 90s rock anthem kind of way and 'Death Defying Acts' is pitched somewhere between a John Lennon penned Beatles tune and a dimly lit Jazz club during the prohibition years with Julia's emotionally fragile voice taking centre stage.

There are two distinct personalities at play on this album, one hopeful and one despairing which is, I suppose, how many of us approach the world on a daily basis if the truth be known. The steady, relentless stomp of 'Little Whiskey' is perhaps the voice of reason between the two extremes which is worrying for a tune named after alcohol! 'From The Stalls' sees Julia's delicate voice calling us to shore while 'Other Things' is a gentle, homely song that could be the Lemonheads with guest vocals from Zooey Deschanel.  'Please You' is a funky, swaggering piece of alt pop with some gorgeous percussion and a bass line that moves through your ribs before 'Main Street' takes things to a more reflective, introspective place full of darkness and shadows. Final track 'Crash And Burn' is a grunge'n'western tune with some downright dirty guitar sounds and an attitude of "whatever" just dripping lazily from every corner. There's no doubting that these guys are a genuinely talented pair and this talent has been superbly brought to the fore by the talents of Rubin. A match made in heaven but realised in LA.

More information:

Live Dates:

12th September  - Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
13th September - Lleyllyn Hall, Canberra
14th September - The Sydney Opera House, Sydney
15th September - The Sydney Opera House, Sydney

17th September - Civic Centre, Newcastle


Kan Wakan - Moving On (Virgin EMI) 
Kan Wakan - Moving On

Right from the get-go you can tell that this is pretty big stuff. The LA trio formed around Bulgarian uber producer Gueorgui I. Linev aren't interested in minimalism or anything too temporary. No, from the lush strings on opening track 'Forever Found' to the Kraftwerk meets Scott Walker electro groove of 'Moving On' you can tell that these three have lofty ambitions. The echoing drums and smoky vocals of 'Like I Need You' is Winehouse meets Mvula while the intriguingly titled 'Space Owl' has a chilled vibe about it that is more soulful than Morcheeba but cooler than Air. We're already on to track 5 and I feel like I've already fallen in love with this band by the time 'Are We Saying Goodbye' slides in like a classy perfume advertisement, all silk and elegance.

On 'Sawdust' there is an almost Trance-like feel but with more organic beats and then 'Clear Divide' rolls around showing off the seductively sleepy vocal style of Filipino chanteuse Kristianne Batista beautifully. The size and plush feel of these songs give them the opulent ambience of a 70s casino back room where tuxedo wearing lounge lizards do their damndest to remain cool while an absolutely enchanting, no, bewitching woman controls the room from behind a microphone. This music is dripping in soul and 'Why Don't You Save Me?' is no exception as it stakes a claim to being the next Bond theme. 'Mont Blanc' starts with some microphone feedback before the luxuriant Bulgarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra do their best John Barry inspired impression. The album closes with a two part odyssey, the first half of which is the skittish, Jazz inspired 'Midnight Moon Pt. 1' that builds like a Zero 7 tune that has been sent back in time to get the full 70s production treatment. 'Midnight Moon Pt. 2' is nearly seven minutes more of the same melodic patterns but as a lushly sombre instrumental that I may well have played at my funeral providing there's a bright orange sunset and everyone turns up in 70s garb. This is genuinely stunning stuff with a cinematic feel and a real sense of not settling for good enough when perfection is an option.

More information:

Live Dates:
2nd September - Solar Culture, Tucson w/Mother Falcon
3rd September - Soda Bar, San Diego w/Mother Falcon
5th September - Container Park, Las Vegas w/Mother Falcon
6th September - The Chapel, San Francisco w/Mother Falcon
7th September - Don Quixote's Music Hall, Felton w/Mother Falcon
9th September - Assembly, Sacramento w/Mother Falcon
10th September - Cozmic, Eugene w/Mother Falcon
11th September - Mississippi Studios, Portland w/Mother Falcon

13th September - The Getty Centre, Los Angeles


Lowpines - Unfucktheworld 
Lowpines - Unfucktheworld

Now, I'm not normally one to drop names but I'm fairly certain I hung out with Lowpines (aka Oli Deakin) years ago and had a few drinks with him. Nothing extraordinary about that I suppose but I do like those brushes of normality with people that have a certain special something about the way they've been put together. This latest release from the London-ite is a cover of Angel Olsen's 'Unfucktheworld' and it is, well, it's bleak. But bleak in a beautiful way. Deakin's soft, whispered vocal dances a dreamlike waltz with the muted guitar work and misty, early morning harmonies. Sure, this might be someone else's song but Lowpines own it, of that there is no doubt.

More information:

Listen/Download Here:

Live Dates:

1st September - Cafe Oto, London w/Alice Boman + Hey Elbow


The Garden - Cloak 
The Garden - Cloak

Have you ever wondered what a collaboration between Flat Eric and Liam Lynch would sound like? Really? You do surprise me. Well, if you had wondered then you'll be pleased to know that Orange duo The Garden have the answer. New release 'The Cloak' is full of throbbing electro noises and the barks of confused, angry young men who just want to burn things and watch the flames die out. Slowly. They have an energy that is infectious and a sound that I could imagine John Peel doing his nut over - and by doing his nut I mean having an extra ginger nut with his cup of tea. I'd say these guys have a big future but they've probably already split up and formed a spin off group doing ironic covers of their own songs. Kids today, eh?

More information: 


Black Strobe - Folsom Prison Blues 
Black Strobe - Folsom Prison Blues

So here's something I never expected. Black Strobe are an increasingly impressive bunch of Parisians who specialise in darkly seductive synth fuelled rock-pop in the vein of Depeche Mode and Goose. 'Folsom Prison Blues' is a Johnny Cash classic from his jail bird era. Now, put the two things together and what do you get? Well, you get what was already a fairly dark song made even more doom laden and malevolent with low synth notes throbbing away beneath a strangely Alfred Hitchcock-ian guitar riff that's full of suspense and mischief. I keep circling Black Strobe like a vulture over a lion's recently deceased carcass but sooner or later I'm going to gorge myself on their fleshy goodness. Is that weird? I don't care.

More information:

Watch The Video:

Friday, 29 August 2014


No Need For Parachutes - Acro // Evade EP 
No Need For Parachutes - Acro // Evade

Leeds and Doncaster have conspired to spawn this rock behemoth, like a couple of rock'n'roll parents having a baby following angry sex on a black leather sofa. These four lads make a racket and a half with opening track 'In Your Head' sounding like a turbo driven version of Foo Fighters' 'White Limo' with monster truck tyres. Then 'Basecamp' comes along all snarling and spitting like a speed metal version of Nirvana at their grungy best. Title track 'Acro Evade' has a Red Hot Chili Peppers feel to it before the guitars get turned up to 11.5 and the drums get beaten to within an inch of their lives.

On 'Not For Too Long' go for full on, balls to the wall, power chords that could move boulders and should be performed on top of some rocky outcrop in the Grand Canyon before dropping down to an intimate, Brian Molko verse. The EP closes with 'Trojan Horse' which is either a reference to Greek mythology or safe sex for Red Rum. Either way, it's a beast of a song with Reuben-esque riffs and an awkward sense of confidence. Leeds seem to be the home of British rock at the moment and when it's this good I don't hear anyone complaining....largely because the guitars are so loud.

More information:


Broken Records - So Long, So Late (J Sharp Records) 
Broken Records - So Long, So Late

Edinburgh's finest are back with a new single in the form of 'So Long, So Late' which is getting the folks at BBC 6 Music a little bit excited...usually a good sign. As singles go, this is pretty epic with huge, wailing, Interpol guitars and a vibe the size of The National playing a concert in the round in the Albert Hall....on New Year's Eve....with the London Philharmonic Orchestra as a backing band. Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that this is a BIG indie tune that you would be wise not to ignore. Broken Records may well be huge one day soon and woe betide the naysayers. Woe betide.

More information:

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Interview with Mae Karthauser of Mae & The Midnight Fairground

At some point in 2013 I dragged my sister down to the opening night of a new arts centre in Totnes. Rather inauspiciously the sat nav took us down the back roads in to an industrial estate where we found a venue that hadn't been finished and a group of slightly confused but excited gig goers. I was ostensibly there to watch one of my favourite artists, Jake Morley, but before he was even a twinkle in the stage spotlight we were treated to something supremely special. Or should I say someone. You see, that night I witnessed the talents and charm of one Mae Karthauser, lead protagonist with Mae and Midnight Fairground. Now it's my turn to share these delights with you by way of an insight in to this intriguing character uncovered through an email interview.

Mae is an interesting musical character, something that comes out in her songs but I wanted to know whether
Moody Mae
this was part of a stage persona or something that is just part of who she is as a person. "I was brought up in Hampshire in a little village, and raised by very bohemian parents along with 6 other siblings. We all were taught piano by our mum when we were small, and also learned violin and recorder in school. Music was just a part of life. We used to sing around the Christmas tree every year to the big video camera my parents had (much to my annoyance and irritation as a young girl. I didn't have a lot of patience for other people's ideas when I was small)."

The joy of Karthauser is that she is a fantastic songwriter and an utterly enthralling performer with the patter to go with the songs. Every musician approaches their art differently but what is the Totnes resident's angle on the songwriting process?

" Writing happens quite gradually... Sometimes it's hard to focus an idea, and other times they roll out easily. Songs to me really need to be reflections of something very real, whether it is imagined, or fantastical, it still needs to be truthful. So the process of writing is really quite focused, I spend a long time really examining my idea and sculpting the lyrics. And of course the songs are immensely personal for that reason. The performance experience is similar in its focus - I play live a lot - whether on the street or at a big festival or in an intimate room and the experience is a lot like meditation. It's an intense period of stillness and focus. To the outsider it may look different, but each song really has its only story, its own time, a picture that it refers to, and these things are my world when I am playing. They are what I am drawn to, and the process is somewhat of an emotional journey for that reason. But it's beautiful for me!

"Songs sometimes come in pairs or triplets and other times there can be 6 months or more between each. The process varies. When a story is “hot”, a song flies out without too much help, an easy birth! I always use the piano as a way to start - so I find a riff, or a progression first and then the vocals come. The vocals are easier! When the story is not so clear or the flow is slow, I sometimes use a frame to make a song. So I will decide upon the structure and style and features of the song before I begin making the composition. This makes it easier and means I can focus more on the content without questioning every decision I make. I definitely would like to have a stronger flow in the writing process. Unfortunately the reality of being a model independent musician means I have to do so many things that do not involve music - web design, bookings, marketing, etc. Thats part of the joy and pleasure, and also a big drawback for the musical creative flow.

So, once those songs are written and perfectly shaped, how does one get up on a stage and translate that to an audience? Or even more challenging, set up on a street corner and perform until people start to stop and listen.....maybe even rummage out some loose change.

Mirth-some Mae
"I feel at home on the stage. There has been the odd time in my life when performing has taken a bit of courage (after periods of no performing or during difficult creative chapters during education) but on the whole I do not have to think much about being in front of others and playing. Part of this is my childhood, and part of it is that I play a lot - in recent years I’ve done a lot of performing on the streets / markets in France and also this year in Sweden. I really like playing on the street. It's very poetic for me - that you arrive, you play and you re-contextualise the street, you are a contradiction to the day to day scurrying around and I would argue that the connections and impact you can have on the street are in someways much more profound than in a traditional concert. You never know who you will meet, how people will respond, what wonderful stories will unfold: a kiss from a child, an impromptu dance from an old lady, a present from a homeless man, tears from a stranger... and so many generous offers! To come for dinner, to have a bed for the night, to have a beer, to play at a festival... a photoshoot, a gig! Anything. It's always different, always magical. Gigs are different of course, they are focused, they can be intense and energetic, and after playing in the hubbub of a market they can be deliciously electric. It's a good way of life, I love them both!"

With the songwriting and live side covered, I wanted to find out more about who Mae is and what her desires are. For instance, what musicians would she ideally like to surround herself with?

"Oooh. My ideal line up! WOW! Everything! I’d love tubas, clarinets, trumpets, accordions, cellos, percussion, double bass... It would be so wonderful to have a lot of different colours to work with. Unfortunately part of the traveling lifestyle means that having a solid band is quite challenging - to orchestrate everyone takes very good money and a wide consensus on what all the musicians want out of it, and also need. Its challenging to find that when you also want to live in a rural utopia!"

And what of her musical ambition? Festival headliner? World Tour? Collaboration with Miley Cyrus and Will.I.Am?

"I'm lucky. I really do have what I want from music. I have independence, the ability to survive (be it on a
Musical Mae
modest existence!), a lot of variety, a lot of contact with people and a very sweet unfolding journey where things are becoming easier. Fame is traditionally the motivation of musicians, but for me I am more interested in the details. Over the last few years I have had more and more involvement with the world of circus/ dance, and this world REALLY excites me! I like my journey because exciting things happen all the time and I enjoy gathering those experiences together. It would be a shame for me if I were to become famous suddenly!! I really think that. Fame is pretty empty. What makes music wonderful is when you really get to know the people who you play to, when opportunities arise that surprise and excite and when it develops gradually. Then you get a sense of achievement, and a strong sense of reward with each step. Sure, it's not always romantic, but the journey of being a musician is really what excites me!"

Now, why, I hear you ask, am I bringing Mae Karthauser to your attention at this very moment? Well, on the one hand there's never a bad time to discover a true musical talent. On the other hand, she has an album on the horizon and I can't be any clearer about how much you need it in your life.

"We started [the album] in December 2012 and the copies arrived in May 2014! I never anticipated that. It was probably the most demanding piece of work I have ever made - there was a lot of focus, and a lot of changes, and a lot of questioning, editing, and often frustration actually, but it was great to have it finished. This album stands out from the last because the process was so different. Each song was crafted in the process and was crafted individually. This meant that there is not the same lineup in each, as there was in my previous two albums, and I think there is also more variation for that reason. We recorded in a little studio cottage outside Slapton village in South Devon and my partner engineer and co-producer was Jered Sorkin, a fellow Dartington College of Arts (and Cal Arts) graduate. In fact he mostly makes music for film these day (incidentally his short film “Head Over Heels” took him to the Oscars in 2013) but he is very experienced in engineering and we have always wanted to make an album together. The result of this album is much more emotional I think than the last album, and has less of a klezmer influence but has more variation and a greater sense of wildness I think. So the release is mid September and we are following it with a UK band tour (following the current European solo tour). It will be so good to get back with the band again and get out there playing together."

What strikes you most when you read these words is just how articulate, thoughtful and creative Karthauser is. This is no fame seeker or work shy artist. No, instead what we have here is a true creative with a penchant for trying new things and ignoring the boundaries of fear and concern that most of us are bound down by. So, yeah, get the album and look out for that tour for sure. But mainly just open your mind and heart until you have the music of Mae Karthauser firmly ensconced in your being. Do it.

More information:

Live Dates:

30th August - Potemkine, Brussels
11th October - Miss Peapods, Penryn
28th October - The Canteen, Bristol
14th November - South Devon Arts Centre, Totnes
22nd November - Kendal Mountain Festival, Kendal

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Monique Angele - Monique Angele EP 
Monique Angele - Monique Angele EP

Despite the EP cover artwork showing what appears to be a moody teenager waiting for the phone to ring, Monique Angele is actually a highly accomplished Canadian musician and songwriter. This EP showcases six of her songs beginning with 'Poisonous Touch' which features rolling piano of classical proportions and vocals that border on the operatic but with pop sensibilities....popera if you will. 'Eyes' has a more slinky, seductive feel that is quite enchanting while 'Waltz' is, well, a waltz which is not something you get very often in mainstream music these days.

Now, there's no denying that Angele is hugely talented artist but I can't pretend that the operatic singing is my cup of tea I'm afraid. Nevertheless, 'Pity' has a sumptuous piano melody and a more soaring vocal rather than operatic which brings out the melody more. 'Touch As A Sign' has a musical feel to it of Andrew Lloyd-Webber proportions which isn't necessarily a positive thing from where I'm sitting. The EP finishes off with a live version of 'Pity' which, if nothing else, proves that the lady has a serious pair of lungs on her. Technically impressive stuff but not something I can get emotionally involved in I'm afraid.

More information:

Live Dates:

7th September - The Avant Garde Bar, Ottawa w/ The Arcanes + Fade Chromatic

25th September - Rancho Relaxo, Toronto w/The Captain Andrew Bootstring Band + Ryan Maguire


Ladada - Ladada EP (Gold Robot Records) 
Ladada - Ladada EP

Instead of being the fifth Tellytubby,  Ladada is actually a Virginia Beach based solo artist (real name Josiah Schlater) with a penchant for sounds of the 60s and, by the looks of the artwork, the sights of the 60s too. 'Coming Alive' kicks things off with a sampled spoken word track atop some ambient noodlings that puts me in mind of the wonderful Gilbert or moments of Lemon Jelly. Then the Motown influences really come alive on 'Comets' as the guitar groove mixes with blissed out Beach Boys vocal melodies. On 'Give It Back' there is a gorgeous throbbing bass line that acts as a wonderful counter balance to the ramshackle drums and jangling guitars.

'Oh The Weather' has a jazzy, slippery bass line that emerges among some Arcade Fire-esque guitars and Schlater's drawled vocals are the very personification of the first waking thoughts of summer's morning. Ladada mixes some wonderful influences, both old and new, but the fact that this has come from the mind of just one man is what makes this truly special stuff. 'Coin Toss' is a great example of Schlater's eclecticism as 60s harmonies mix with punky guitars and Britpop vibe that makes me want to pogo like a loon. There's a real psychedelic feel to 'Car In The Sky' that feels like Evan Dando stepped in to Syd Barrett's vomit spattered pink velvet shoes and rocked up to the studio with pockets full of mushrooms and a head full of ideas. This mind bending journey finishes with the groove based riffing of 'Harmony' that is the perfect come down tune as the gentle click of the drums is smothered in treacle thick guitars and lightly sprinkled vocal harmonies. Ladada is utterly gorgeous stuff from the mind and soul of the kind of guy I would like to hang out with on a beach and talk about music while sipping on a badly mixed cocktail. One day....

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Tonight We Fly - Sum EP (Foof Records) 
Tonight We Fly - Sum EP

Chaps. Chaps from Bath. That's what Tonight We Fly. Chaps from Bath. Oh, and they make music. The music that they make is on the intense side of the indie spectrum but with a sense of energy that is quite infectious. This EP opens with 'Careworn' all full of rattling, rumbling drums and an infectious melancholy bounce that puts me in mind of Futureheads and Maximo Park. 'Highs' is pitched somewhere between a country ballad and a sea shanty lament with some gently rolling guitar notes and delicate percussion that builds subtly, almost the opposite of love at first sight.

There is a ramshackle, high speed jangle to 'Wallet' that  gives me the impression that their live shows must be a melee of arms, legs, wide eyes and sweat. Buckets of sweat. Final track 'Allergy' has a gorgeous slapped bass line and an up tempo feel that I have only recently experienced with the band Crowns who are in my top 10 live bands of the last year. Tonight We Fly have a particularly infectious sound and energy that is something to behold and I would recommend that you get yourself down to a show to drink in some of that energy. And sweat.

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Monday, 25 August 2014


Radio Radio - Special Brew Special (Sidetracked Sound) 
Radio Radio - Special Brew Special

London boys Radio Radio are back with a new EP that's been burning a hole in their pockets since they recorded it way back in January. The EP starts with the punkish and slightly teenagerish 'Leave Me Alone' which is full of riffs inspired by the Clash and the spirit of the Libertines emerging from behind some punchy drums and swaggering guitar work. 'Through The Fog' has a more laid back feel with the bass taking a leading role on a track that you might expect to hear on an Elvis Costello album from back in the day such is the juxtaposition between mellow music and jittery, nervous vocal performance. The short sharp EP finishes with 'Know Where I Stand' which is a ramshackle, jangly indie tune that is bound to get crowds bobbing and flailing their arms with gay abandon. Radio Radio are one piece of luck away from at least gaining something like a cult following but with the right timing they could just become the next bright young things.....and boy are they young.  

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Neil Jarvis - Good Years (On The Grind) 
Neil Jarvis - Halloween Summer

The malaise that normally falls across the country in early Autumn seems to have hit a few weeks early this so Neil Jarvis' end of summer shuffle is fortuitously timed to say the least. 'Good Years' fits perfectly on a day when it might be an August bank holiday but thoughts are already turning to roaring fires and big, thick coats. The drums shuffle aimlessly and the vocals are mumbled at best but it's the meandering guitar that fits the season so perfectly. It just makes you want to pop your collar up, dig your hands deep in to your pockets and plough on through the wet, orange leaves and discarded sparklers.

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Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers - Dinosaurs Ate My Caravan 
Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers - Dinosaurs Ate My Caravan

Digital Release - 25th August 2014

Physical Release -  29th September 2014

Yorkshire chaps Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers write what you might call comedy tunes and I usually approach that genre with a certain amount of caution but half way the opening track of this 16 song collection I was already smiling and chuckling. That opening track is 'My Mysterious Uncle' which tells the tale of a unusual family member and introduces the recurring theme of digestives for the first time. 'David Attenborough' is up next with a beautifully English ode to our greatest nature documentary maker while 'Dinosaurs' is a child-like look at a world where the extinct giant lizards had hung around to live in harmony with humans. By the time 'Tweed Jacket' rolls around to sing the praises of this most English of clothing items, you are firmly aware that this is music in the great traditions of the Baron Knights, Monty Python and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band with a nod to more recent artists like Flight Of The Conchords.

'Snow!' is a joyous number while 'Jellyspoons' is a glimpse in to the more surreal side of the bands collective psyche...I mean, they actually play jelly with spoons and record it. Delightful. One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'Soy Milk', a tribute to this modern development in dairy substitutes, which features the line "There's nothing to spoil my enjoyment, cause when you were made no cows were exploited". 'I'm A Triangle' is a geometric love song but the outstanding tune is The 'Tea's Made', possibly the most English song every written about making a cuppa and with that Digestive biscuit theme recurring (along with pink wafers, jammy dodgers, doilies and sugar tongs).

The animalistic love song that is 'The Duckling Of Our Love' contains the slightly obsessive lyric "If I was a turkey I would climb in to your oven and it would be okay for you to eat me because I'd be a turkey". 'Our Dog' is an affectionate if slightly bonkers song about man's best friend featuring plenty of backing howling while 'Andrea's Arms' is the kind of song a serial killer might write as a relaxing pass time after a busy night's work. Revisiting the surrealist portion of their brains via a wartime piano melody on 'Never Going Back', the band paint a Dr Seussian picture in vibrant Technicolor. The last new track on the album is 'Queen Of The Roller Derby' during which is a gently countrified ditty and possibly the most sombre of the collection.

The album closes with two re-recorded songs, the first of which is the educational and infectious 'Land Hermit Crab'. The second of these closing tunes is my new theme tune in the form of 'Cheese' which does what it says on the tin in terms of singing the praises of all kinds of cheesy delights. The lyrics "I don't bet, don't do ket, I try not to work up a sweat, I haven't broken these shoes in yet but I won't sneeze at a nice piece of cheese" is sublime and is the perfect way to close of this collection. These gentlemen are one of my new favourite collection of musicians and comedy writers and should be given a series on Radio 4 if nothing else but that's the very minimum they deserve. Wonderful, joyous stuff.

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Live Dates:

30th August - Chapel Allerton Arts Festival
6th September - The Chemic Tavern, Leeds
20th September - BBC Radio Tees
3rd October - Lakeside Theatre, Colchester
8th November - The Fisherman's Arms, Hartlepool
21st November - The Natural History Museum, Oxford
6th December - The Basement, York


Shifting Buffalo - Tempus Fugit Already 
Shifting Buffalo - Tempus Fugit Already

Release Date: 25th August 2014

Before we get on to the music there are two things you need to know. Firstly, be very, very careful if you Google this artist - is not a site anyone needs to see. Secondly, the proceeds from this album are being split between the Florence Nightingale Hospice and the British Lung Foundation so there is fine intention behind this music if nothing else. Now, on to the music. The album opens up with 'Step By Step' which has a harmless electro-acoustic jangle and poppy bass line before 'Sunshine' bursts in to life like a Huey Lewis & The News track being performed by the Lightning Seeds. 'Crossed Lines' is like a sequel to REM's 'Everybody Hurts' while 'Gorgeous But Clingy' is a 30 prelude to an argument with your girlfriend that would last for a week before you eventually back down.

Ben Fuller, for he is Shifting Buffalo, has a fairly thin voice that doesn't inspire or rouse the passions but he does have a fairly eclectic approach to music which I fully support. 'Wake!' is a mid paced rock ballad, ' The Metro Shuffle' is an acoustic singer-songwriter staple and 'If I Were A Massless Photon' is a home produced soft-rock ditty that Brian Cox probably played keyboards on (the annoying Science guy, not the actor). On 'Nothing To The Party' there is some fairly painful guitar soloing from the outset before the seven minute odyssey of 'Daddy's Girl' starts of like a Led Zep classic before settling in to a prog-punk riff with wibbling synths in the background for the first real moment of interest on the album. On 'Gone', Fuller returns to the balladeering while 'As Well As Can Be Expected' is 71 seconds of non-descript strumming that couldn't really hold my attention.

'Soap Box' is a tune penned by the sadly deceased Jon Walker but fits in well with the general feel of the album. On 'You Have Returned' Fuller uses a simple piano melody to great effect but the insipid vocals and bland melodies soon quash any spirit the song had. The album finishes up with 'Advice in 13/4' and all I can say is that I won't be listening to the album again. It's not bad or out of tune or offensive, it's more that Shifting Buffalo is on the bland side of indie-rock which, in a world with so many musicians, just seems like a waste of everyone's time. Noble intentions but not beautifully delivered.

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Live Dates:

13th September - Balstock Festival, Hertfordshire

Saturday, 23 August 2014


Garrison Creek - The Persian Rug Sessions 
Garrison Creek - The Persian Rug Sessions

Garrison Creek is the wonderful name given to five lads from Toronto who, according to Facebook, are singularly influenced by the late, great Ray Charles. There is certainly a jazzy feel to opening track 'The Pulse' with its scatter gun drums, itchy guitars and soothing sax. 'Momentary Mastermind' is a slow grind that drags a little but there is a certain gentle swing to it that appeals while 'Cuff My Hands' has a little more life as it concentrates on the sketchy 90s indie side of their game.

There is a certain resigned malevolence to 'Windsor Hotel' which has a certain raggedy charm before 'Immortal Pavement' returns to the jazz influenced indie which is somewhere between the Zutons and Zappa in the great spectrum of rock. Final track 'Rewind' is the most jazz influenced track of the whole collection but there's also a hint of Ben Folds Five about it which I am always in favour of. There isn't a great deal that grabs my by the balls or the heart strings about this EP but there is something about it that suggests there might be more to come. I'll keep an eye on them and let you know how it goes...

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Phillip Brandon - Phillip Brandon EP 
Phillip Brandon - EP

When you're 6' 4" and you're still the shortest of three boys then you'll either give up the fight there and then or come out all guns a'blazing. Los Angeles native Phillip Brandon is in the latter category and his soul infused funk is a thing of wonder that might just require me to take my shoes of and dance. The primal stomp of 'You' introduces the EP through the dry ice and low lights before Brandon's rich, smooth, velvety tones emerge from the shadows to charm and bedazzle you. 'Sail On' is a more conventionally structure tune with a real 90s soul feel about it taking me back to the likes of Omar and Seal in their prime.

The deep, thick gravy of Brandon's gorgeous voice is given a real work out on 'Turn Around' as he goes from low slung sex fiend to rock infused soul champion in the space of one song. The crunchy rock guitars are also present on 'On My Mind' and yet again that voice makes your ribs shake and your inner fire ignite. The EP closes with 'My Friend' which is a heartfelt and simple ballad with some Carpenters-esque instrumentation and some impassioned vocals. Phillip Brandon is an immense talent and he knocks the likes of Cee Lo Green and Aloe Blacc in to one side with that voice and undeniable style - I mean, just look at the man.....I would. 

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Live Dates:

28th August - Downtown El Cajon Farmers Market, El Cajon
25th September - Legends, Las Vegas
26th September - The Spirit Room, Jerome

28th September - Mueller College, San Diego


The Effect -Running With The Wolves 
The Effect - Running With The Wolves

Don't ask me why but from the name alone I expected Swansea boys The Effect to be an 80s inspired electro band when they are actually placed somewhere between Linkin Park,  Biffy Clyro and, whisper it, Lostprophets. The opening track of this EP is the anthemic and uplifting 'Running With Wolves' which is stuffed full of chiming guitars, blitzkrieg drums and the kind of vocals I love to hear on heavier records - impassioned but clear. 'Souvenir' has a more stadium rock feel to it as the guitar melody rings out loud and clear for the throbbing masses to pump fists in the air along to. By the time we get to 'Ghosts', the midpoint of the EP, things drop down a level as the quartet do the obligatory rock ballad thing and you get the feeling that these guys would go down an absolute storm stateside.

'These Hands Are Made For Hunting' is an ominously titled track but there's no avoiding the punchy, infectious pop-punk-rock that could easily be a Feeder tune. The EP finishes with a storming 6 minute tune in the shape of 'Fate, You Are My Prisoner' which begins with some mellow guitars a la the XX and does the atmospheric thing extremely will before going all Biffy about half way through and, once again, the festival crowds should go mad for this. I keep reading about how British rock music is dead but I just think people aren't looking or listening in the right areas. They could do a lot worse than starting in Swansea with The Effect.

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Killers Walk Among Us - Quitter Happier (A Tendervision Recording) 
Killers Walk Among Us - Quitter Happier

Release Date: 26th August 2014

I don't know a lot about Killers Walk Among Us but there are two key things you need to know about the Swedish indie rockers. Firstly, this new single, 'Quitter Happier', is on the epic side of indie with soaring melodies, pounding drums and a crescendo to die for as the instruments build up, layer upon layer, until the vocals are being powered through the crowd of sounds vying for your attention. The second thing you need to know is that singer Stefan Holmberg sadly passed away earlier this year following a long struggle with depression. Now listen to the single and tell me that those epic melodies, building emotions and impassioned voice from a person no longer with us don't fill you with joy and sadness in equal measure.

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Friday, 22 August 2014


The Tallest Tree - I'll Be Your (For You) 
The Tallest Tree - I'll Be Your (For You)

Any band that is borne out of love between the key members is always going to have a certain energy behind the music but, encouragingly, the energy behind the music that Canadian/Mexican duo is one of unswayable, unshakable commitment  and sureness. You see, 'I'll  Be Your (For You)' might have the feel of the Lemonheads, Dandy Warhols or Belly but there is a steely certainty to the calm vocal delivery  that tells me these guys have got a future in music and in their relationship. This is perfect early morning indie and makes the world seem a better place as we bask in the glow of the genuine feeling behind the song. Blissful.

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Thursday, 21 August 2014


Asa - Dead Again EP 
Asa - Dead Again

Release Date: 25th August 2014

You could be forgiven for expecting Asa to be a soft, soulful songstress based on her press pictures and tone of voice but within seconds of this EP starting you realise that this lady has bite and attitude as much as she has talent. 'Dead Again' sees Asa give the world a mouthful as the pounding beats are soothed only by the sweeping strings and rippling piano notes and that rich, velvety voice shines through. On 'The One That Never Comes' the Nigerian-French singer reminds me of the mercurial Ben Harper with a hint of the Tracy Chapman's about her as the soft vocal tones sing of regret and remorse atop blues guitars and soulful keys. The third and final track on this collection, 'Satan Be Gone', is perhaps the one that will see this hugely talented lady propelled in to the limelight via the 6Music/Jools Holland route. Mixing the pop nous of Kimbra with Beyonce's soul raunch, some Motown funk and some downright dirty attitude, Asa shows that she is capable of mixing it with the big girls. Style in abundance but oh so much substance as well. Keep a close on this one, big things are coming.

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Live Dates:

2nd October - Union Chapel, London


Tim Dawn - She (in2itiv Records) 
Tim Dawn - She

It's been a while since much Dutch music has crossed my path but I've only ever met one Dutch person I don't like so I'm always keen to hear the fruits of their labours. Tim Dawn are a quartet from Utrecht making music in the vein of Passenger or Mumford & Sons full of jangly acoustic guitars, close vocal harmonies and rattling tambourines. There are some Irish folk tinges to 'She' in an uplifting kind of way and the song builds steadily to a crescendo of yelps and whoops all bouncing along on top of the light acoustic strum. Perfectly likeable and a pleasure to be around - just like the Dutch people in general.....apart from that one.....ooh she was a misery....

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Live Dates:

20th September - IBB Fest, Utrecht


Charity Children - Fare Thee Well (Monkey Records) 
Charity Children - Fare Thee Well

Every time I listen to Charity Children I am reminded of just simple and beautiful music can be. This Ukulele driven ditty features a lyrical adaptation from a 17th Century poem break your heart as this tale of loss and long goodbyes tugs at the heart strings and the tear ducts. 'Fare Thee Well' is a  stunning song but what really sets this apart from the mob is the intriguingly subversive and enthralling video which starts off like an instructional Youtube video on stalking and, if possible, gets a lot weirder. The Berlin based indie folk pioneers are a treasure and I hope they start to get the recognition they deserve for their talents.

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Live Dates:

23rd August - Freifield Festival, Oldenburg
13th September - Taz Panter Preis, Berlin
1st October - Club Stereo, Nurnberg

2nd October - Waves Vienna, Vienna


A Higher Demise - My Therapist Knows You By Name (Ambicon Records) 
A Higher Demise - My Therapist Knows You By Name

As song titles go, 'My Therapist Knows You By Name' is one of the more intriguing I've come across recently and the video featuring a sexy zombie nurse and glow in the dark bass strings is pretty exciting. In fact, A Higher Demise have got a tight, polished and slick metal sound that beats you around the ears with its intensity and power. My only problem with this song is that it just doesn't really grab me in any way that makes me want to give it a second spin. I mean, I get the screaming and speed drumming intermingled with furiously choppy riffs but other than that there just isn't much personality to this song. I suspect there is more to come from the Dartford quintet but on the strength of this release I'm not sold.

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Morakoza - Society 
Morakoza - Society

Mississauga. Mississauga. Miss-iss-au-ga. Say it however many times you like, it still sounds funny. Anyway, the point is that's where Morakoza are from and the band have a new EP ready for your enjoyment. 'Cold' is the track that opens up this collection and instantly you get a feel for the chilled out, rock-meets-rap music that these guys create which has a real touch of class to it. There is a short interlude featuring some guitars and a voicemail before 'Pistonhead' comes over the horizon like Gorillaz with a darker side or Rage Against The Machine with a more British feel. This is a song that flirts with the listener constantly taking you to the edge and then sashaying away seductively with a wink and a pout over the shoulder. On 'Polaroid Drawer' Morakoza take a more standard approach to songwriting with a gritty indie feel to the song that can only have been inspired by the Smiths. Final track 'Backseat' starts with the kind of beat Portishead would have created in the 80s beneath some weirdly Hawaiin sounding guitars and a hauntingly beautiful vocals. And this pretty much sums up Morakoza for me - just when you think you've got them sussed they come up with something different, something fresh and something utterly refreshing.

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Live Dates:

22nd August - Private House Show, Mississauga

29th August - Van Gogh's Ear, Guelph