Friday, 18 December 2015


Mexrrissey - International Playgirl 
Mexrrissey - International Playgirl

Release Date: Out Now

OK, so anyone who knows me and has known me during drinking hours will know how long I can bang on about what a tiresome, irritating and altogether wasteful cretin I think Morrissey is. This gets me in to a fair few fights with music purists but fortunately music purists don't tend to spend that much time at the gym so the bruises heal fairly quickly. Anyway, Mexican Morrissey enthusiasts Mexrrissey have been good enough to send me their new release, 'International Playgirl', so the least I can do is stand my prejudice down....temporarily. So a rolling bass line and some Tijuana brass kick things off before a seductive Latino vocal snakes out of a tequila bottle and wraps itself around your hips. Plenty of cowbell and a scratchy sense of 90s indie that the likes of Lush would approve of also play a part. So, Morrissey, you caused this band to happen which is no bad thing but I'm still not happy with you, generally speaking. This isn't over....

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The Rubettes - Plastic Christmas 
The Rubettes - Plastic Christmas

Release Date: Out Now

On paper, '70s pop combo try to make Christmas comeback on the back of old song being used in Great British Back Off montage' is the kind of sentence that should make me recoil with horror whilst simultaneously pressing the play button at arm's length. Then you learn that it's a rip off of the classic French tune 'Ca Plane Pour Moi' by Plastic Bertrand with some ill-fitting festive lyrics and, well, if you're anything like me you don't know whether to laugh until you can't breathe any more or cry for the death of music. This tune may be an extraordinarily well pitched joke with a slow burning punch line but I get the feeling this was a serious attempt to relaunch a career that has long since gone the way of Rolf Harris Best Of. The best thing about this song is that it reminded me to listen to Plastic Bertrand again so, y'know, thanks for that but maybe go back to touring small town festivals or see if Peter Kay is thinking of doing Phoenix Nights again. Mental.

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The French Pop Dream - Silver Bells 
The French Pop Dream - Silver Bells

Release Date: Out Now

I've been inundated with Christmas songs this year, more so than ever, but this version of the classic 'Silver Bells' by the French Pop Dream stands out a mile. Sultry, Gallic, full of festive cheer and layered with multi-instrumental melodies, this is beautiful version of the 50s classic that transports you to a snowy city with golden glows in all the windows, busy crowds with armfuls of perfectly wrapped gifts and at the very least a touch of frost in the air, enough to let you see your breath. Anne Brugiere's vocal is delicate, dusky and soothing as you lull in to a mulled wine coma for around a week only to wake up with novelty socks and a belt that mysteriously no longer fits. An absolute stunner of a Christmas tune and no mistake.

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Uncle Luc - Christmas 1994 (Super Fan 99)
Uncle Luc - Christmas 1994

Release Date: Out Now

Nostalgia is big bucks these days and everyone loves looking back through rose tinted glasses so it's good to see good old Uncle Luc jumping on that band wagon with this festive look back through the mists of 1994. The lyrics and video for 'Christmas 1994' are more chocked full of nostalgia than my childhood Christmas stocking was bulging with curious toys. Tamsin Archer, ET, Home Alone, VHS and Hungry Hippos all get referenced atop a lazily strummed riff and Badly Drawn Boy-esque vocals. Throw in some slide guitar melodies and a killer chorus which name checks Dick Tracey and you're well on your way to a future cult Christmas classic. Best enjoyed with a can of Bass Shandy, some Cheese Footballs and a Cadburys Selection Box.

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Monday, 14 December 2015


Arthr - Been Here Once Before 
Arthr - Been Here Once Before

Release Date: 20th December 2015

In among the slew of Christmas tunes that are currently flooding my inbox I received this intriguing little item which I am utterly compelled to share with you. Arthr, oddly, is the pseudonym of a fella named Christian and 'Been Here Once Before' is more of a short film with a soundtrack than a single but whatever the package, the gift inside is still just as exciting. The ticking of a solitary clock soon gives way to some spaced electro bleeps and throbs accompanied by a scuttling beat that doesn't know whether to get involved or not. Layers and layers of synthesised delights build up like some kind of electro lasagne as the slightly spooky video takes you on a tour of a derelict hotel just to add to the feeling of unease and loneliness being created here. Not something you would want on at the peak of a party but when all the hangers on have gone and your down to your last smoke and a half bottle of rum then this might just be your perfect jam.

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Sunday, 13 December 2015


Brian Setzer Orchestra - Rockin' Rudolph (Surfdog Records) 
The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Rockin' Rudolph

Release Date: Out Now

It takes a real dedication to the festive spirit to release as many Christmas tunes as Brian Setzer and his orchestra have pumped out over the years. This latest collection is a master class of big band, Jazz and Swing music applied to some classic (and not so classic) Christmas tunes, so slip your best brothel creepers and let's dance. 'Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree' is up first with a sax fuelled version that has a screaming guitar solo and if you're not jiving by the time this is through then you're a Grinch for sure. I have to admit that 'Yabba Dabba Yuletide' is a new one on me but pretty much everybody knows the Flintstones theme tune so just hum that, stick some festive phrases in and you're golden.

The smooth 'Most Wonderful Time Of The Year' is perfect for that mid tempo dance at the work party while 'Rockabilly Rudolph' is like the theme from some subversive 70s cop show with the classic Rudolph lyrics given a slightly edgier feel. The slapping bass and scit-scat drums on 'Here Comes Santa Claus' give new energy to an old favourite before 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' out croons Buble and out swoons Seth McFarlane. This is the perfect music to crack on in the kitchen on Christmas day when things really get cooking and you'll be rattling those pots and pans before you know it. Keeping the party going with 'Swingin' Joy' and then 'Carol Of The Bells' there is a definite sense of traditionalism here but given a light and swinging, slapping and swooning make over.

'Little Jack Frost' ups the sex appeal a little with more brass and some soulful female vocals and then we're treated to an absolutely huge version of 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' which should be on the opening credits to some big budget Christmas special on American TV. An end-of-a-perfect-evening slow dance version of 'O Little Town Of Bethlehem' and an extended version of 'Yabba Dabba Yuletide' finish things off and if, by now, you're not half cut on festive cheer and dancing with the first relative you can drag in to the kitchen then something is very, very wrong with you.

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Live Dates:

14th December - Fox Tucson Theatre, Tucson
15th December - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
18th December - Microsoft Theatre, Los Angeles
19th December - Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio
20th December - Pechanga Entertainment Centre, Temecula
22nd December - Fox Theatre, Bakersfield
23rd December - Wells Fargo Centre for the Arts, Santa Rosa
24th December - The Warfield, San Francisco
26th December - Martin Woldson Theatre at the Fox, Spokane
27th December - Benaroya Concert Hall, Seattle

29th December - Grey Eagle Resort and Casino, Calgary

Monday, 7 December 2015


Karen Mav - Take Me Home For Christmas (Pop Recordings) 
Karen Mav - Take Me Home For Christmas

Release Date: 11th December 2015

It's not often that I get to review singers that have been through the X-Factor machine but I am always very keen to give people a fair crack of the whip, no matter how close they had to stand to Simon Cowell and his incongruous hair. Zimbabwe born Karen Mav is releasing Christmas single, 'Take Me Home For Christmas', and it's, well, it's Christmassy. Mav's voice is undoubtedly soulful and rich which is, presumably, why she got so far in the competition. The song itself is literally smothered in festive treats with chiming bells and sleigh bells as well as a good old yuletide piano line. If I didn't know any better then I might think Roy Wood's Wizzardry was behind this but I suspect this is just a case of using a classic Christmas formula. Not the best vehicle from a strong voice so I look forward to more from Karen Mav and her impressive pipes.

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Jude Woodhead - Beautiful Rain (Transgressive Records) 
Jude Woodhead - Beautiful Rain

Release Date: Out Now

I don't know a lot about Jude Woodhead other than he's a multi-talented musician from South London with a penchant for Congolese music and the work of Four Tet and Paul Simon. Intrigued? Me too. This debut offering starts as a dreamlike swirl of rhythms, low hummed vocals and electro melodies before settling in to the kind of tribal pulse that made Moby so bloody rich (minus all the car adverts, obvs). This is coming out at almost entirely the wrong time of year as this is the kind of tune that should adorn a BBC3 Glastonbury montage but I guess whatever time of year it is there's always space for a good tune with a great rhythm and the kind of intrigue that the likes of Lemon Jelly and Bent did so well with. Now come on Jude, tell us some more about yourself: what's your favourite KFC rip off joint in London town, for example?

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Glue - Peace For Now 
Glue - Peace For Now

Release Date: 13th December 2015

West Ham based alt-punk trio Glue have an aptly named single on its way for your enjoyment as 'Peace For Now' is due to drop this week. There's a studied chaos behind the spattered drums and wrestled guitar notes that brings to mind bands like Television and pioneers like Edwyn Collins as well as more straight up punks like Engine 88 - all good things in case you hadn't got that. With a timeless quality and a touch of the art college scene about this (see early Blur, Bloc Party or Franz Ferdinand) there's a lot to love and a lot to look forward to if this is just the beginning. As songs go, though, it's anything but peaceful.

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Live Dates:

13th December - Single Launch @ Hoxton Underbelly, London

Saturday, 5 December 2015


Sparks - Christmas Without A Prayer (Lil Beethoven Records) 
Sparks - Christmas Without A Prayer

Release Date: Out Now

Those infamous Mael brothers are back with a festive ditty for you in the shape of the bleakly title 'Christmas Without A Prayer'. The song itself lives up to the bleakness in tone as the morbid keyboard tones underpin a tongue in cheek lyric and that trademark downplayed vocal. Then, bang on half way, this changes in to a Broadway romp based on the story of a happy-go-lucky spending Christmas on a an abandoned Miami beach - or so goes my interpretation. It's not a classic Christmas song by any stretch but it's almost something that all acts need to pull out of the bag these days so it's worth listening to for that if nothing else.

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Prison Issue - You Better Watch Out (Goodbye Weirdo Records) 
Prison Issue - You Better Watch Out

Release Date: 21st December 2015

Alright, so the artwork for this single suggests that this might be a slightly aggressive and potentially politically motivated song and the title, 'You Better Watch Out', doesn't do much to a challenge that impression. When you press play, though, well this tune just lays waste to each and every preconception you could possibly have. Elements of Outkast, New Kingdom and Snoop Dogg/Lion/Whatever he's called these days are all there as the swagger of the hip-hop and blues inspired music makes you feel like you've stumbled in to some hidden Christmas section of Grand Theft Auto. There also seems to be a sinister cameo from Stephen Hawking on vocals towards the end. Great tune but please, for the love of all things festive, do not play this to your children or the Christmas of the future is completely ruined. Seriously, just don't do it.

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Friday, 4 December 2015


Armchair Committee - Rawgabbit (Deaf Endling Records) 
Armchair Committee - Rawgabbit 

Release Date: 11th December 2015

When I first read the name of this song I thought it was an Elmur Phudd quote but I had the 'g' and the 'w' mixed up. Then I read it again and realised I had no idea what 'Rawgabbit' meant, turns out it's a person who speaks with complete self-assurance about something of which they know nothing. We all know one of those, right? Anyway, I digress, to the music. Bristol rockers Armchair Committee know how to pull out the big riffs and crotch thrusting blues swagger full of gravelly toned vocals and all the sex appeal of Prince in a leather onesie licking Slash's boots. This is big, big rock noise with slick production and a real sense of determined purpose. Well played, Armchair Committee.

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Live Dates:

12th December - The Louisiana, Bristol w/Loom + Queen Kwong

19th December - Secret Location, Bristol

Thursday, 3 December 2015


Monster Truck - The Enforcer (Mascot Records) 
Monster Truck - The Enforcer

Release Date: Out Now

For those about to rock, hold on tight. The superbly named Monster Truck are back and, as always, they mean business. Serious business. 'The Enforcer' is the latest release from the Canadian hard rockers and it kicks off with thunderous drums that give way to chunky riffs, the likes of which Dave Grohl and co would nod a bearded approval to. The chanted chorus harmonies and gruff vocals are soaked in grease, whiskey, tobacco and, what's that? That's right, that's Slash's DNA running right through the middle of every distorted guitar note. There's an album on the way in 2016 and if the rest of it is anything like 'The Enforcer' then we're in for hard rockin' treat.

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Live Dates:

23rd February - Sugar Nightclub, Victoria
25th February - Commodore, Vancouver
27th February - MacEwan Ballroom, Calgary
1st March - Union Hall, Edmonton
2nd March - The Pump, Regina
4th March - The Garrick, Winnipeg
5th March - Outpost, Thunder Bay
8th March - Le Cercle, Quebec
9th March - Corona, Montreal

11th March - Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto


Failure Machine - Beautiful Scene
Failure Machine - Beautiful Scene 

Release Date: Out Now

Fresh from their unveiling as the best band in the world outside of the United Kingdom (according to, well, me), Failure Machine are back with a new single. Those soulful Reno boys bring us 'Beautiful Scene' just in time for Christmas and there's a video too! We're talking the Black Keys take on modern Blues, some serious horns, the wry humour of Weezer but the soulful nature of James Brown - not bad for a bunch of white guys from Nevada. Oh and did I mention the licks and the chops? No? We'll these guys have got plenty of both and a gravelly vocal that makes me want to have babies as long as that voice can be the father. All that rolled up in to just over three minutes makes this punk pop soul funk blues and whole lotta fun. Now will SOMEBODY please book these guys a UK tour so I can go see them rock out in person please? PLEASE?!?!?

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Live Dates:

31st December - Mission Theatre, Portland w/Jerry Joseph and the Jack Mormons

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


2015 has been a hell of a year here at LWM towers - hospital visits, office moves and, above all, a shed load of music. This has been the biggest year for the blog with the most readers ever and more artists than ever sending in music to be reviewed - Listen With Monger has become something of a global phenomenon. But any success is only down to the quality of the music that is sent in so I thought it was a good time to reflect and give you my LWM awards for the year (just to clarify, much like the BBC, there are no actual awards....just kudos).

Best Band: Allusondrugs  
Allusondrugs - post-Chemical toilet mishap
The big one to kick off with but these guys have had an outstanding year and have gone from strength to strength in 2015. The Clue Records signings from Leeds have worked their grungy little socks off all year but that hasn't stopped them churning out some top tunes and putting some gigs that have left audiences stunned, euphoric, suffering from tinnitus and possibly pregnant.

Honourable mentions go to Narcs and The Franklys

Cosmo Sheldrake - horny
Best Solo Artist (Male): Cosmo Sheldrake
A true English eccentric and songwriting genius who is almost nailed on to break through in 2016 and appear all over the place in a range of dandy hats, playing gigs in improbable locations. If you haven't experienced Cosmo's mind yet then you are seriously missing out.

Honourable mentions go to Ali Ingle and  Jake Morley

Best Solo Artist (Female): Malka
Malka - painted lady
Technically, Malka performs with a backing band but all the music comes out of her head and that is worth celebrating when someone releases of the quality of her debut offering. A summer of festival appearances in 2016 surely beckons as well as heaps and heaps of airplay - plus hopefully some new songs.  

Honourable mentions go to  Seaker and Dua Lipa

Azu Yeche - unusual suspect
Best Single: Azu Yeche 'Lagos'
Hardest category to pick by a long chalk with a whole range of talent on display this year and singles hitting from every angle like one of those posh shower things. There was rock, there was indie, there was acoustic folk and a whole lot of love. But a decision must be made and my decision was to go with Azu Yeche's 'Lagos' as something truly original, spell binding and with a message behind  from a relative unknown.

Honourble mentions go to Moriaty 'Bones' / The Lottery Winners 'I Know' / Cosmo Sheldrake 'Rich' / Many Things 'Holy Fire' / The Graveltones 'Big Money' / Jake Morley 'Allegorical House' / Antimatador 'Find Your Way'

Best EP: Alex Gregory 'Critical Perfection EP' 
Alex Gregory - Strumming
This stunning collection from Exeter based singer songwriter Alex Gregory showed off her superb vocal abilities but also her abilities to write a heart touchingly beautiful song with a pop hook. A huge star in the making if the right people give this some ear time but regardless of any commercial success this EP has found a place in my heart and my CD collection for good.

Honourable mentions go to Failure Machine 'Ain't Shit EP'  and Sound Of The Sirens 'All We Have Is Time EP'

Lost Dawn - just popping out.

Best Album: Malka / Lost Dawn
I haven't listened to as many albums as I would have liked this year but the ones I have heard have been almost universally superb so this was a tough category to decide on and I'm sitting on the fence between two very different albums. On the one hand, Falmouth's Lost Dawn, blew our socks off and our minds out of our ears with their debut offering this year. On the other hand, Malka soothed, amazed and generally enchanted with her offering in 2015. Lucky buggers aren't we?  

Best Video: Husky 'I'm Not Coming Back' 
Husky - road trip
Gorgeous song with a stunning animated video that will have you laughing, falling in love and hiding behind the sofa all at once. Videos can be so predictable these days as though all the ideas are already used up so it's wonderfully refreshing and life affirming when something new pops up in your eye sockets.

Get Inuit - innit
Best Band Name: Get Inuit / Rangleklods
Regular readers will know that I love a good band name and there have been plenty to choose from this year but I'm going to share the award this year between Eskimo obsessed Kent indie rockers Get Inuit and Danish nutcases Rangleklod. Just enjoy those for a moment......and now move on.

Best Year: Sound Of The Sirens 
Sound Of The Sirens - shocked and stunned
A special award this as I am privileged to receive so many pieces of music from new or emerging artists that I wanted to recognise the work of those without any major backing, doing it all under their own steam. Exeter duo Sound Of The Sirens are clear winners in this category as they started the year playing as many gigs as possible in pubs and clubs around the Westcountry only to finish 2015 being handpicked by Chris Evans to appear live on the first show of the new TFI Friday and going on a national tour. Evidence if ever it were needed that great songs and a good work ethic can get you where you want to be.

Vaness Forero - taller than she looks
Best Debut: Vanessa Forero 'Heaven Knows'
I was genuinely blown away Yorkshire/Columbia product Vanessa Forero and her debut single 'Heaven Knows'. If you haven't checked it out yet then you need to but this is also a great example to anyone out there to create music that is true to your own convictions and passions. Beautiful music.

Best PR: Hannah Gould Music PR
A one woman show, Gouldzilla PR is one of the most reliable and consistent pushers of top quality artists including the likes of Lost Dawn, Rangleklods, Jinnwoo, Memory Maze, Elvis Perkins, Josefin Ohrn & The Liberation, The Black Tambourines and Weyes Blood. Hannah Gould is also a delight to deal with gets extra points for her work in championing some of the excellent artists emerging from the burgeoning Falmouth scene.

Honourable mention goes to Blue Soap Music

Clue Records - faceless bastards

Best Label: Clue Records 
Leeds based independent label Clue Records are home to Narcs, Allusondrugs, Forever Cult and Trash - all of whom have had excellent releases and too many gigs to even count. It's a small but perfectly formed label that is picking it's artists carefully and nurturing them all until they blossom and bear fruit. Sure, some of their acts might get picked off by bigger boys one day but it's a model that worked for Domino and works for tonnes of football feeder clubs so all power to them. Hell, I like them so much I even bought one of their T-shirts!

Honourable mention goes to Xtra Mile Recordings

Best Southwest Artist: Lost Dawn / Sound Of The Sirens  
It's been an immense year for musicians from my native South West so it's been difficult to pick out a stand out act so I've had to split this award between three gents from Falmouth and two ladies from Exeter. Lost Dawn have been at the forefront of the revolution coming out of Falmouth and their album was a supreme example of psych-rock with a wry sense of humour. Meanwhile, duo Sound Of The Sirens have been on a whirlwind year fuelled by their impassioned and pitch perfect harmonised folk-pop.

Honourable mentions go to Cave Mouth and Alex Gregory

Failure Machine - big faces

Best non-UK Artist: Failure Machine 
Reno boys Failure Machine have maintained a consistent level of excellence throughout the year with their own brand of soul infused rock'n'roll and it's a crying shame that their music isn't being heard by more ears the world over.

Honourable mentions go to The Dirty Nil and SHEL

Tankus The Henge - jumping for joy
Best Live Performance: Tankus The Henge
This much travelled collective's performance on the main stage at Looe Festival in September 2015 was nothing short of elemental. As the sun set and the summer came to a close we had one more chance to let our collective hair down and Tankus The Henge were good enough to provide the soundtrack. For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of experiencing these guys well a) you should and b) 2016 is going to be the year to do it - these guys are going to be everywhere.

Honourable mention goes to Sound Of The Sirens @ Looe Festival

Most Viewed Review of 2015: Torre Florim 'Firestarter' (688 views)
A nominal award of sorts but, in a year of increased visitors to the blog, this cover of the Prodigy classic seemed to capture your attention. 688 times, to be precise.