Thursday, 19 May 2016

GRANDMASTER’S FURIOUS 5 FEAT. MELE MEL & SCORPIO – SINGLE REVIEW

Grandmaster’s Furious 5 Feat. Mele Mel & Scorpio – Some Kind Of Sorry 
Grandmaster's Furious 5 feat. Mele Mel & Scorpio
Some Kind Of Sorry


Release Date: 27th May 2016

Big beats, fluid rhymes and, wait, funky as shit guitars? That was on the agenda. Grandmaster’s Furious 5 are back with the legendary Mele Mel and Scorpio along for the ride. ‘Some Kind Of Sorry’ channels bits of Lenny Kravitz and a bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers but with more funk, more soul and a whole new level of attitude. It might not be the edgiest or most aggressive piece of rap you’ll ever hear but that doesn’t stop it being slick, infectious and a heavy weight summer tune that deserves to be pumped from parties, clubs and open top cars the world over. He really is the Grand Master.


Live Dates:

31st May – Tramshed, Cardiff
1st June – The Waterfront, Norwich
2nd June – Warehouse 23, Wakefield
3rd June – Hard Rock CafĂ©, Glasgow
4th June – Liquid Room, Edinburgh
5th June – Riverside, Newcastle
7th June – The Venue, Derby
8th June – The Assembly, Leamington Spa
9th June – The Marble Factory, Bristol

12th June – O2 Academy Islington, London

BLOOM TWINS – SINGLE REVIEW

Bloom Twins – Amnesia 
Bloom Twins - Amnesia


Release Date: Out Now

London based Ukrainian identical twin sisters Sonia and Anna Kuprienko go by the name Bloom Twins and, in case you’re thinking it, their new single ‘Amnesia’ sounds nothing like tATu. Breathy vocals and sultry beats kick things off before the sophisti-pop gets going with all the force of Rhianna, Beyonce and Florence. There is a slightly bleak and industrial feel to this anti-love anthem as the mechanical beats chop through the droned bass notes. So that’s industrial feeling sophisti-pop from two young East European women – OK, it  is a bit like tATu but I still quite like it.


Live Dates:

20th May – North Laine Brewhouse, Brighton w/Croox + Cash+David + ISLAND + Majik
25th May –Terminal 42, Odesa

30th May – Atlas, Kiev w/Myopia

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

MANIC STREET PREACHERS – SINGLE REVIEW

Manic Street Preachers – Together Stronger (C’Mon Wales) 
Manic Street Preachers - Together Stronger (C'Mon Wales)


Release Date: 20th May 2016

You probably won’t get three more passionate Welshman than the Manic Street Preachers so although this goes against their anti-establishment ethos it’s not that surprising to see the trio pumping out a football anthem for the principality. ‘Together Stronger (C’Mon Wales)’ is unmistakably the Manics with a throbbing rhythm section driving the guitars and soaring strings along to create one of the least cringe-worthy football anthems since New Order. Wales might be the underdogs when it comes to the football this summer but this tune is a trophy winner and no mistake – it’ll beat the Belgian tune in to a cocked hat, that’s for sure.




Live Dates:

13th May – Echo Arena, Liverpool w/Editors
14th May – Genting Arena, Birmingham w/Editors
16th May – Royal Albert Hall, London w/Editors
17th May – Royal Albert Hall, London w/Editors
20th May – First Direct Arena, Leeds w/Editors
21st May – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow w/Editors

28th May – Liberty Stadium, Swansea w/Super Furry Animals + Public Service Broadcasting

Monday, 16 May 2016

GREGORY PORTER – ALBUM REVIEW

Gregory Porter – Take Me To The Alley (Motema Music) 
Gregory Porter - Take Me To The Alley


Release Date: Out Now

Gregory Porter is a man known as much for his chocolatey smooth voice as he is for his understatedly eccentric headwear but this latest album may make people forget about the millinery all together. ‘Take Me To The Alley’ is an utterly beautiful blend of Jazz, Soul and Pop that has moments for all times of day and all accompanying moods.

In no particular order, tunes like ‘Consequences of Love’ and ‘Day Dream’ are songs to pour out a glass of wine to after a long day at work that you need to unwind from with Porter’s voice to sooth you like a shoulder rub from a loved one (not a complete stranger, that would be less than relaxing). The scit-scat beat of ‘Fan The Flames’ is pure Jazz wondrousness while ‘French African Queen’ is possibly my favourite piece of double-bass led story telling so far this millennium. On ‘In Heaven’ the sumptuous piano lays a bed for Porter to glide gracefully over as he runs you a bath and turns the lights down low – not to seduce but to relax and spoil. Meanwhile ‘Insanity’ continues the smooth vibes with delicate piano and lazy beats.

Now, Porter has a more commercial side as well as the organ infused ‘Don’t Be A Fool’ (the perfect New York breakfast tune) and superbly funky ‘Don’t Lose Your Stream’ (a tune to strut out in the morning to) gloriously attest. During ‘In Fashion’ there is a persistent and insistent piano stab that gets your day underway and keeps you going through all the trials and tribulations before you can relax with another sliver of smoothness on the spars ‘Holding On’. ‘More Than A Woman’ is another gently soothing delight while title track ‘Take Me To The Alley’ shows off some wonderfully creative arrangements. Gregory Porter is a supreme talent and, what’s more exciting, he seems to genuinely revel in making music whilst being an utterly charming guy as well. No mean feat.


Saturday, 14 May 2016

WILDWOOD KIN – LIVE REVIEW

Wildwood Kin live @ The Phoenix, Exeter – 13/05/2016

Having been invited to attend this gig by the guys behind BBC Introducing Devon, there were four bands on offer to check out but having dragged myself through a tough week I was flagging before I even got there. However, I’ve wanted to catch Exeter trio Wildwood Kin live for a while so I dragged myself up the A38 and as the crowd began to swell in the excellent Exeter Phoenix there was palpable anticipation in the air.

For the uninitiated, Wildwood Kin are two sisters (Emilie and Beth) and their cousin Meghann who
Willdwood Kin @ Exeter Phoenix
plough a furrow not a million miles away from Laura Marling jamming with First Aid Kit in an Appalachian log cabin. So when three nervous looking and slightly shy musicians shuffle on to the stage hiding behind a beanie hat and/or long straight hair I wasn’t expecting the live version to live up to the beautiful recordings I had heard. I was wrong. What this trio do is let the music do the talking and from the first intricately interwoven guitar and mandolin notes it’s obvious that this is a massively talented group of musicians and songwriters.

Old and new songs blend together smoothly and, despite a couple of technical hitches, Wildwood Kin hold the audience under their spell for the entire set. The key to the bewitching sound of these three sirens, however, is there unnervingly pitch perfect vocal harmonies that have a power all of their own. The likes of local peers Sound Of The Sirens and LWM favourites Indigo Girls have always moved me with the rich, blended vocal tones but Wildwood Kin take this skill to a whole new level which I’m not remotely ashamed to say moved me to tears. This family band have got talent to spare, a clutch of beautiful songs and a work ethic that surely makes their parents proud. If I was a hard-nosed music executive, I would say that they need to work on their stage personas a bit but actually I quite like their timid and gentle approach to audience communication which suits the music perfectly.

Apologies to the other bands performing on the night but after the week I’d had and the emotional ringer I’d been through with the Wildwood Kin experience I was in no fit state to take any more music in. Next time…..


Live Dates:

19th May – The Dolphin, Wellington
21st May – The Watering Hole, Perranporth
29th May – Exmouth Festival, Exmouth
3rd June – How The Light Gets In Festival, Hay On Wye
4th June – LemonFest, Newton Abbot
19th June – Moreton Music Day, Newton Abbot
23rd June – Glastonbury Festival, Glastonbury
30th June – Tileyard Studios, London
2nd July – The Big Mix Festival, Lyme Regis
3rd July – Smoked & Uncut Festival, Studland
5th July – Islington Academy 2, London
8th July – Chichester Festival, Chichester
9th July – The Ship Inn, Padstow
10th July – The Dolphin, Wellington
17th July – Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury
22nd July – Chagstock, Chagford
24th July – Tonefest, Lyme Regis
30th July – Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridge
3rd August – Sidmouth Folk Festival, Sidmouth
10th August – Creation Fest, Wadebridge
19th August – Beautiful Days Festival, Ottery St. Mary
26th August – The Plough Arts Centre, Torrington
18th September – Lostwithiel Festival, Lostwithiel
28th September – Looe Festival, Looe
10th November – Bridport Electric Parade, Bridport w/ Seth Lakeman
1st December – St George’s Church, Brighton w/ Seth Lakeman

4th December – Oxford Town Hall, Oxford w/Seth Lakeman 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

SONNY GREEN – SINGLE REVIEW

Sonny Green – As Above So Below (Hostage Music) 
Sonny Green - As Above So Below


Release Date: Out Now

There’s a lot of pressure on the shoulders of young Essex man Sonny Green – being hailed as the voice of a generation will do that to a man. There’s buzz as well as pressure and a whole heap of excitement but when that precedes actually hearing the music itself that can muddy the waters a little. So, giving new single ‘As Above So Below’ a spin needs to be done with a clear mind. The menacing tones of the intro are matched by the urban sprawl of the video but soon you’re swept away by the speed of Green’s rhymes. This is rap for the suburban warriors and it’s articulately delivering a message, for sure, but there is something missing. OK, it’s edgy and it’s modern but there is a hook lacking that would propel this in to something that would get his message out to the mainstream audience. Maybe Sonny is the voice of his generation and he’s certainly talented but the sad truth is we’re from different generations so this passes me by a little.



Monday, 9 May 2016

NEW PHARAOHS – SINGLE REVIEW

New Pharaohs – Nothing Without You 
New Pharaohs - Nothing Without You


Release Date: Out Now

Every now and again, life reminds you that you can’t do certain things and today I have been reminded that I can’t spell ‘Pharaohs’ without really thinking about it. Still, spelling deficiencies aside, New Pharaohs is a great band name and the new single, ‘Nothing Without You’, is equally great. A feel good, summery, windows down on an open road vibe is played out on tight guitars and a chunky bassline. Vocally, Maya Marie takes her lead from the queen of 80s up-tempo pop, Cyndi Lauper, and mixes it with Nina Persson the Cardigans and a soupcon of Lana Del Ray. Impish, bouncy, positive and infectious, ‘Nothing Without You’ is a real gem of an alt-pop summer smash – or at least it deserves to be.



MAJIK – SINGLE REVIEW

Majik – Closer 
Majik - Closer


Release Date: Out Now

London duo Majik are back with a new single and they’re riding high on the back of success by the likes of Years & Years, Rudimental and Clean Bandit. ‘Closer’ features elements of all the aforementioned artists but it’s a more soulful, dusky version of the genre with some gorgeous piano and swirling, delicately sparkling synth melodies. The vocals of singer-songwriter Marcus are beautifully understated and, in cinematic terms, this music is for the daybreak realisation that the person you spent all night arguing with is the person you love more deeply than life itself – all played out over a back drop of a cityscape with the lights going out and the sun dancing of the high rise windows. Beautiful music with a tender but strong spirit.


Live Dates:

13th May – Single Launch @ The Scotch of St James, London w/Desta French

20th May – The Alternative Escape, Brighton

Sunday, 8 May 2016

THE VELVET HANDS – SINGLE REVIEW

The Velvet Hands – Trains 
The Velvet Hands - Trains


Release Date: Out Now

Cornish noiseniks The Velvet Hands are back with a rowdy new single and some style sitting atop their substance. ‘Trains’ opens with a Long Blondes-esque bass line and some primal rhythms before a squall of guitars brings the Longpigs and the Strokes to mind. There is a raw, gang mentality behind this tune that is infectious and exciting in a way that you can only expect to get from a band so young in years and so unjaded by the music bizniz. The Velvet Hands might not necessarily be the next big things but they’ve got the swagger, songs and stamina to give it a good go and they’re going to have fun doing it – not that you’ll be able to tell that from behind their dark glasses.



SAM AND THE WOMP – SINGLE REVIEW

Sam and The Womp – Fireflies (Womp Records) 
Sam & The Womp - Fireflies


Release Date: Out Now

Trumpet based euro-pop anyone? You’re in luck then. Sam & The Womp are a London based duo that have already racked up a hugely successful single to which ‘Fireflies’ is the follow up. Take a horny trumpet melody, throw in some Sia meets Kimbra at Bjork’s house vocals (courtesy of Bloom de Wilde) and a pounding clubland beat and you’ve got what is essentially the kind of summer time hit the will delight half the population and infuriate the other half (some to the point of violent tendencies). If it weren’t for de Wilde’s classy vocal performance I think I’d probably dislike this tune intensely but her tone and style just about saves it. Just.



Live Dates:

14th May – Mac’s Bar, Burnley
4th June – How The Light Gets In Festival, Hereford
11th June – Yellow Arch Studies, Sheffield
10th July – Bradford Festival, Bradford

24th July – Secret Garden Party, Cambridge

Friday, 6 May 2016

BETH ORTON – SINGLE REVIEW

Beth Orton – 1973 (ANTI- records) 
Beth Orton - 1973


Release Date: Out Now

I like Beth Orton. I don’t love her but I do like her and I’ve always felt like that would be cool with Beth, she seems like the kind of person who genuinely makes music for her own pleasure and doesn’t worry too much what others think. On new single, ‘1973’, our Beth has gone all muted electro-pop our asses and, while the voice is unmistakable, I wouldn’t have pinned this one down to Ms Orton. No, the relaxed beats and trill melodies are more reminiscent of Goldfrapp and, when you combine that with Beth’s uniquely and, frankly, beautiful voice, you’re on to a winner. Snazzy.



Live Dates:

27th May – Brighton Festival, Brighton
28th May – Brighton Festival, Brighton
7th June – City Winery, Chicago
9th June – Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh
11th June – U Street Music Hall, Washington
12th June – The Foundry, Philadelphia
14th June – Le Poisson Rouge, New York
15th June – Brighton Music Hall, Boston
19th June – Teregram Ballroom, Los Angeles
20th June – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
21st June – Revolution Hall, Portland
23rd June – The Triple Door, Seattle
16th July – Mares Vivas Festival, Vila Nova De Gaia
24th July – Deer Shed 7 Festival, Thirsk

6th August – Caught By The River Thames, London

BLU FIEFER – SINGLE REVIEW

Blu Fiefer – Jukebox 
Blu Fiefer - Jukebox


Release Date: Out Now

Half Mexican and half Lebanese is an unusual and improbable combination but that’s the genetic heritage that Blu Fiefer was born with and she’s making it work in an extremely funky way. Fiefer’s new single, ‘Jukebox’, has a spooky and slightly monastic intro before her voice comes snaking in from the shadows to twist around your senses. Part Sneaker Pimps, part Rhianna and part Portishead this tune speaks to me on a raw, primal and sexual level as the beats undulate and the melodies writhe in uncontrollable ecstasy. This is definitely one to put on the stereo after the club and before the bedroom….only just before the bedroom mind, don’t leave it too long.


PENNY BRIDGES – SINGLE REVIEW

Penny Bridges – Demo Review 
Penny Bridges - Demos


Release Date: Out Now

I hope Penny Bridges is a real name rather than a nom de plume but even if it’s not this Wolverhampton singer songwriter has picked a cracking title that is part Penny Lane and part Nash Bridges. The three songs available on Penny’s Soundcloud kick off with ‘Gratitude’ and immediately the listener is transported to an elf inhabited woodland glade as Bridges’ delicate guitar picking and vocals dance gracefully with each other. For the chorus, however, a flavour of Florence + The Machine and Bat For Lashes creeps in with booming beats and more powerful vocals.

‘You Cry Yourself Away’ is a late night, candlelit tune that reeks of red wine, burning embers and the desire to stay awake just so you don’t have to go to bed with only your thoughts and regrets for company. The trio of tracks is completed by ‘Ascendancy’, a kooky and summery tune with lightness at its heart and wanderlust in its soul. Across three tunes, Penny Bridges has shown that she has musical ability, a stunning voice, the gift of song crafting and an affinity with a range of genres that make her a genuinely exciting and enthralling prospect.



Wednesday, 4 May 2016

ALEX BENT & THE EMPTINESS – SINGLE REVIEW

Alex Bent & The Emptiness – Blonde American Girl 
Alex Bent & The Emptiness - Blonde American Girl


Release Date: Out Now

On first appearance, Alex Bent & The Emptiness sounds like a band name that Charlie Brooker would make up for a mockumentary about underground indie scene in downtown Cheltenham as the 80s gave way to the 90s. On first listen, however, the band’s new single ‘Blonde American Girl’ owes more to the world of Bristol’s 90s scene with the likes of Portishead and Roni Size influencing the music while Aphex Twin throws in some suggestions from the sofa. Vocally, this sounds more like Justin Bieber tripping out on himself and experimenting with some processors when all the groupies have left the tour bus. It’s a strange and unsettling six and a half minutes but the song builds and develops in to more than just beats and noises with some real piano melodies creeping in. Really interesting and multi-layered creativity from the Canadian, then. Who knew?


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

THE HUNNA – SINGLE REVIEW

The Hunna – You & Me 
The Hunna - You & Me


Release Date: Out Now

These lads have crept up on me a little – a bit like a guy at a bus stop that you just didn’t see coming and is now standing a little too close for comfort – but there seems to be a buzz around The Hunna much like there was around Catfish & The Bottlemen a couple of years back. Similarly, this London based quartet are touring their skinny jean clad asses off on both sides of the Atlantic which is so encouraging in this age of internet superstardom. This new single, ‘You & Me’, is a bundle of energy, hope and enthusiasm channelling the spirit of early Razorlight, the Killers and, as predicted, Catfish & The Bottlemen. Sure, it is a little derivative at times and not the most ground breaking, melodically speaking, but this is a band that is still cutting its teeth and the live performances, relentless gigging and experience of playing with a variety of acts will only help these guys to perfect their craft. I’m going to assume these are guys are pretty good live as well, judging from the footage in the video. Seems like the buzz is justified so far…



Live Dates:

21st May – The Great Escape, Brighton
22nd May – La Trabendo, Paris
23rd May – The Sugarmill, Stoke On Trent
24th May – Adelphi, Hull
25th May – Think Tank?, Newcastle Upon Tyne
26th May – King Tuts, Glasgow [SOLD OUT]
30th May – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
31st May – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
1st June – Electric Ballroom, London [SOLD OUT]
2nd June – The Bullingdon, Oxford
3rd June – Moles, Bath
4th June – Joiners, Southampton
5th June – The Underground, Plymouth
6th June – Patterns, Brighton
8th June – Waterfront, Norwich
9th June – The Cookie, Leicester
10th June – Sefton Park Palm House, Liverpool
12th June – Great Scott, Allston
14th June – DC9 Nightclub, Washington
15th June – Mercury Lounge, New York
16th June – The Rivoli, Toronto
19th June – 7th St Entry, Minneapolis
23rd June – Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco
25th June – Barboza, Seattle
26th June – McMenamins Lola’s, Portland
28th June – Bootleg Theatre, Los Angeles

26th August – Bramham Park, Leeds