Thursday, 30 June 2016

WOODEN ARMS – SINGLE REVIEW

Wooden Arms – Burial (Butterfly Collectors) 
Wooden Arms - Burial


Release Date: Out Now

This tune has been out for a couple of weeks now but I wanted to get something out there in case you are able to get to one of the forthcoming dates – and you should if you can. Norwich’s Wooden Arms write music for murder to happen to – not passionate, angry murder but forlorn, inevitable, heartbroken murder. ‘Burial’ opens with the kind of piano and violin duet that should accompany the mists of morning rolling over a still warm body in an abandoned allotment somewhere, well, somewhere like Norwich. As the theatrical nature of the music is given direction by a solid rhythm and droning bass, this song transforms in to a serious contender for indie-rock stardom. The sombre elements of Elbow (and sense of humour if you watch the video) are there as well as hints of the much missed Winter Kings, the National and Hozier. This is sinister, brooding stuff befitting of the song title but with a sense of optimism and hope that comes erupting from the tumultuous crescendo of frenzy. That same hope is not mirrored in the video – you have been warned.



Live Dates:

1st July – St Pancras Old Church, London
2nd July – Smuggler’s Records, Deal (Daytime Show)
3rd July – Ramsgate Music Hall, Ramsgate
4th July – The Hope and Ruin, Brighton

5th July – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London w/The Strubmellas

BUD SUGAR – SINGLE REVIEW

Bud Sugar – Get Familiar 
Bud Sugar - Get Familiar

Release Date: Out Now

Hull upstarts Bud Sugar look like two fifths of them are having a whale of a time judging from this press shot. I kind of imagine the photographer saying “you two, look like you’re having way more fun than the others. And you three, look like they are your dads and they’re pissed up and dancing at one of your gigs. Perfect”. Nevertheless, new single ‘Get Familiar’ starts like a Jack Johnson or G Love and the Special Sauce track before morphing in to some early Will and The People stuff. Trickling acoustic lines and some rippling rhymes flowing out atop some sparse percussion makes for an easy going vibe which, I’ll be honest, is more appealing than I was expecting. This is beach party music with a ska and reggae inspired undercurrent that should be drifting out over a sandy landscape as the sun goes down, the fires get lit and the mood turns to partying. I can imagine these guys opening for Pharrell Williams or Bruno Mars someday but for now I’m sure they’ll be making girls dance suggestively across the UK for the summer months and beyond.


THE GOOOD THINGS – EP REVIEW

The Goood Things – EP III (33 Records) 
The Goood Things - EP III


Release Date: Out Now

I normally rile against purposely misspelled words but there’s something quite endearing about the extra ‘o’ in The Goood Things and I’m sure there’s an excellent reason or story behind it too. This is the third EP from the Anglo-Japanese quintet and the quality doesn’t let up in any way from their previous releases. Kicking off with ‘Been Bad’ and these guys get straight in to their stride with their summery, west coast vibe mixing Beach Boys with early Beatles and a bit of Best Coast as the guitars jangle and drums roll along nice and loosely. ‘Too Much…Too Little…’ has a slightly more modern feel to it with Ting Tings style handclaps mixing with some Elvis Costello meets Evan Dando vocals and a quirky, poppy melody that it’s hard not to adore. You see, The Goood Things aren’t out for world domination or stadium filling but getting to play their upbeat vibes for an engaged and energised crowd every night would be just peachy, thanks.

On ‘Oh Brother’ the guitar and organ dance a sexy little dance together, slinking around each other’s curves before a B52s chorus (complete with ‘woo-woos’) kicks in to make the dance moves kick up a notch and that surf guitar really makes you want to shake your thing for whoever is watching. Final track ‘Looong Way’ (more superfluous vowels, but I’ll allow it) is a 100 mile an hour indie-surf-pop crowd pleaser with a non-stop bass, a slab of organ and drums that just won’t quit. The Goood Things are another addition to one of my saddest lists; bands I’d absolutely love to see live but probably won’t get to due to restricted finances. However, when that lottery win finally comes in I’m going to do a tour of dive bars and indie clubs all over the world and Tokyo will be right up there if these guys are gigging.


FAULKNER – SINGLE REVIEW

Faulkner – These Kids Nowadays 
Faulkner - These Kids Nowadays


Release Date: Out Now

There are certain places that demand a certain sound from their musicians and Los Angeles demands that it’s artists are over the top and larger than life. LA boys Faulkner live up to that expectation on ‘These Kids Nowadays’ with a video recorded on a helipad on top of a high rise building. Classy. The song itself is a slice of synth heavy rock with a poppy bass line and stabbing guitars. This is part Duran Duran, part the Killers and a twist of prog-pop thrown in there. Essentially, what we have here is a slower, mid-set song to let things simmer down before you unleash your big crowd pleasers so it does its job but as a single it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as you might hope for. Also, if you’re going to film on top of a high rise building you might as well invest in a drone camera and get some big money shots, this kinda looks like it could have been green screened.



Live Dates:

6th July – The Satellite, Los Angeles

12th July – Bowery Electric, New York

DOTTER – SINGLE REVIEW

Dotter – Creatures Of The Sun (Warner Music Sweden) 
Dotter - Creatures Of The Sun


Release Date: Out Now

Dotter is described in her press blurb as a Swedish Pop Goddess which would surely have attracted a snort of derision if you’d given this as your life goal to a high school careers advisor. Nevertheless, Dotter has achieved this level of awesomeness at a relatively young age and new single ‘Creatures Of The Sun’ attests to this fact. The Stockholm songstress comes on like Lana Del Ray but with some more Rhianna-esque pop power in this uptempo but ethereal pop gem. What’s even more delightful, however, is that somewhere along her musical path Dotter has clearly taken in some B52s as Kate Pierson’s gorgeous vocal style. I think Dotter could be a bit of a star and if the likes of Lauren Laverne or Chris Evans give the Goddess of Swedish Pop a bit of radio play then she might just become a Goddess of world pop.  



BLKMGK – SINGLE REVIEW

BLKMGK – SINGLE REVIEW 
BLKMGK - I Got Ya feat. She's Ryan


BLKMGK – I Got Ya! Feat. She’s Ryan (Cosmos/BITD)

Release Date: Out Now

Swedish producer Lars Soderberg is either a fan of 80s chocolates or Little Mix songs but whatever his preference, he sure as hell doesn’t like vowels. New single ‘I Got Ya!’ features the vocal talents of She’s Ryan and it’s a bonafide sexy stomp or strut through club land. Dirty synths, Minaj attitude and some fairly aggressive vocals (“I swear to God, I’d kill a bitch”) all make for a great song that is, essentially, about having your mate’s back no matter what happens. There’s that unmistakable Europop flavour to things but it’s a positive, upbeat and groove laden dance tune and I think we can all agree that’s exactly what this summer needs right now so do some stretches and be prepared to bust your best twerk out at the next BBQ you attend.


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

COLTANA – SINGLE REVIEW

Coltana – Bitter Sweet 
Coltana - Bitter Sweet


Release Date: Out Now

When a band says they’re influenced by the likes of Rage Against The Machine, The Distillers, Scroobius Pip, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Skunk Anansie then you have to check them out, right? Right. Coltana are a London based Anglo-Portuguese hybrid and new single, ‘Bitter Sweet’, starts as a spooky music box melody played backwards on a guitar before settling in to an easy groove. Musically this is something like Red Hot Chili Peppers with Kate Nash on lead vocals but under Matt Bellamy’s musical direction. When the chorus drops you can hear the Skunk Anansie influence in the vocal performance and the power hits through like a shock wave flying through a thousand windows and sending shards of glass in every direction. Chunky guitars, pounding drums and a unique vocal style that will make this quartet stick out in a very, very good way. More please.



Live Dates:


2nd July – Single Launch @ The Finsbury, London (free entry)

THE UNDERGROUND MAN – SINGLE REVIEW

The Underground Man – Hysteria 
The Underground Man - Hysteria


Release Date: Out Now

Now the world is going to shit around us and it seems to be starting in the UK with legitimisation of far right thinking and open racism. Once again, however, music has a way of transcending such nonsense and nastiness so up step The Underground Man, a band of British and Polish musicians, ready to show some unity and a way forwards. New single ‘Hysteria’ (appropriate much?) is a balanced and sombre piece of piano indie-pop in the vein of Keane or more recent Coldplay but with more punch. The jerky beats and juddering drums are just about held together by the smooth vocals of Gafyn Davies and the classy power of the chorus. There is a sadness to this tune but one that gets overwhelmed by a sense of defiance, a fighting spirit and a hope for something better. This could easily end up being a rallying call if enough people hear it – so get listening and get sharing.



Live Dates:

8th July – Piaskowa Pub, Krasnik
9th July – Atrium Naleczow, Naleczow
14th July – Piwiarnia Warka, Lomza
22nd July – BSCK, Busko-Zdroj

30th July – Bajgiel, Kazimierz Dolny

RACING GLACIERS – SINGLE REVIEW

Racing Glaciers – Samadhi [So Far Away] (Killing Moon Records) 
Racing Glaciers - Samadhi [So Far Away]


Release Date: Out Now

Macclesfield lads Racing Glaciers might have a great name but before I’d even given this tune a listen I was distracted by something. I’m specifically referring to you, second from the right in the band photo. What the hell is that in your pocket? Seriously, I’m pretty sure you knew that photo was going to be taken when you set out that day unless you all hang around in the woods waiting for the right light and passing photographers. I’ll let it slide but, y’know, be better next time.

So, this single, ‘Samadhi [So Far Away]’ starts like a shoegaze folk acoustic meander before the force of the band crashes in for the chorus and you realise the size and weight of this tune (maybe that’s what’s in the pocket). There’s a west coast, slacker vibe to this like Weezer on a grumpy day but then there’s that introspective Britishness that the likes of Maccabees do so expertly as well. As the song builds to its unstoppable crescendo you get the feeling you’re on a runaway train heading for an unfinished bridge but, all of a sudden, Godzilla’s giant foot just squashes that runaway train like a lousy woodlouse. At just over five minutes, this song takes some attention but it’s worth giving your time and attention to. So worth it.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

ROONEY – SINGLE REVIEW

Rooney – My Heart Beats 4 U (Beachwood Park Music) 
Rooney - My Heart Beats 4 U


Release Date: Out Now

LA rockers Rooney are back with a new single and are probably blissfully unaware of the moderate performance of their footballing namesake in France at the moment. Despite sounding like the title of a boyband mega-ballad, ‘My Heart Beats 4 U’ is actually an indie-pop stomper with real purpose. The chugging, pounding and relentless verse soon gives way to something a little smoother and more mainstream. This is part the Killers, part early Maroon 5 but then features enough balls and grit to pack more of a punch as the guitars snarl like Kings Of Leon and there’s the swagger of bands like Weezer or OK GO. The video is gently trippy as well which is always a good thing. I have to admit to having missed out on Rooney in the past despite numerous chances to check them out. Shame on me, don’t make the same mistakes I did.



Live Dates:

8th July – On The Border, Mission Valley
9th July – Pub Rock, Phoenix
10th July – The Bunkhouse, Las Vegas
12th July – Launchpad, Albuquerque
13th July – Lost Lake, Denver
15th July – The Tank Room, Kansas City
16th July – Opolis, Norman
17th July – Float Fest, Martindale
16th September – Kaaboo Del Mar, Del Mar

LOVESTARRS – SINGLE REVIEW

Lovestarrs – Somebody Like You (DEFDISCO) 
Lovestarrs - Somebody Like You


Release Date: Out Now

Poppy upstarts Lovestarrs are back with a new single and, as they say up north, it’s reet classy. ‘Somebody Like You’ has a punchy, sumptuous synth melody and crunchy beats that are matched only by some lip curling, teeth baring pop vocals from the feisty Sarah. There’s a dark element to the tune as the duo sing of unrequited infatuation (this isn’t a love song) and this reminds me of all the best bits of pop, like Sugababes when Siobhan was still a member or Girls Aloud before they got above their station but with the raw energy of Sleigh Bells and a sense that they’re making this music for themselves, who cares what everyone else thinks. Now put your Converse on and let’s go have a pogo down the front.


Live Dates:


23rd July – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

JENNEL GARCIA – EP REVIEW

Jennel Garcia – Life Starts Now 
Jennel Garcia - Life Starts Now


Release Date: Out Now

In the UK, those that don’t make it in to the final of the X Factor either tend to join the back of the queue to audition again for the next season or go on endless tours of coffee shops desperately trying to get a song on to national radio rotation or used on an advert. Jennel Garcia, it seems, has had a ‘Disney’s version of punk’ make over and decided to release and EP which intrigues me because and EP is usually what artists release when they can’t afford the studio time for an album but have more than one good song so a single seems like a waste. Shall we explore? Let’s.

The first of the six tracks on this collection is ‘Don’t Break My Heart Again’ is a poppy, guitar driven piece of breeziness that would fit straight in to an episode of any one of the teen shows on Nickleodeon. ‘Hate To Love You’ is equally pumped up and plays the quiet-loud-quiet-loud card particularly well picking up the baton where Demi Lovato and Avril Lavigne left off when they decided to go all ‘mature. The riff on ‘The Only One’ is prime Blink 182 fodder and that takes a confident vocal performance to carry off which Garcia manages with ease. Switching between poppy sweetness and emo-punk aggression, Garcia has the kind of voice that, if she was singing on top of heavier, more distorted guitars in band called something like Even After All, would see her gracing the pages of Kerrang! on a regular basis.

EP title track ‘Life Starts Now’ is easily the standout track here with its Cyndi Lauper 80s power pop vibe and grrl power spirit just ripe for plenty of pogoing and lip curling at the end of a coming of age film. On ‘If You Only Knew’ Garcia opts for the piano ballad approach and it’s a useful tool for showing off another, more tender side of her voice but the song isn’t particularly strong and sounds like a Christina Aguilera album filler at best. Now, final track ‘Looks Like You Missed Out’ shows the direction that I think Jennel Garcia should be taking. Aggressive, assertive and in your face with blistering drums and razor sharp guitars giving the power needed to match that voice as Garcia veers in to alt-pop-emo territory with aplomb. Now, ironically this is the only song on this collection that Garcia had no part in writing so there’s some thinking and soul searching to do. Does she want to stretch herself and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Pink with an edgier career or settle for the safer shores of a middle of the road pop career. I know which way I’d turn.



BEST FRIENDS CLUB – SINGLE REVIEW

Best Friends Club – Thru The Nite Feat. Kasho 
Best Friends Club - Thru The Nite


Release Date: 28th June 2016

I’ve said it before and I’m about to say it again; Canada keeps pumping interesting and engaging musicians. Best Friends Club (aka Matthew Vultaggio and various guest artists) is an intriguing project and, if ‘Thru The Nite’ is anything to go by, then it’s one worth paying attention to. It might only be two and a half minutes long and have some awful spelling in the title, but ‘Thru The Nite’ features so gloriously trippy beats, sparse melodies and the kind of vocals that can only be produced when you’re about 4 joints in and you think you’re powering out a stadium filling rock ballad. It’s a bedroom project, for sure, but it veers more towards the trippier moments of LCD Soundsystem or Boards Of Canada despite having a few touches of White Town which are just as satisfying.  Best Friends Club is the sound of one man heading in many different directions.


SCARLETT SAUNDERS – SINGLE REVIEW

Scarlett Saunders – Windmill (Lost In The Manor) 
Scarlett Saunders - Windmill


Release Date: Out Now

Scarlett Saunders sounds like one of those people having a sickeningly fulfilling life that makes you question so many of your life choices. As well as being a musician, Scarlett also paints on foraged wood and attends acting school – I know, I know, me too. Jealousy aside, however, new single ‘Windmill’ is a sparsely beautiful piece featuring some gentle guitar notes, Scarlett’s easy vocal style and, well, not much else really. There’s a 90 second coda featuring various ambient sounds and tones but otherwise this is just a gently, quietly beautiful piece that soothes and quietens the soul like the tide rolling back and forth over softly rounded pebbles on a beach.


ROSIE CARNEY – SINGLE REVIEW

Rosie Carney – Better Man (X Novo) 
Rosie Carney - Better Man


Release Date: Out Now

Before I get on with this review, I just want to take issue with one thing. In her press release, it says that Rosie Carney has been compared to Adele and while that might peak the attention of the Heart FM slobbering masses that put me off immediately – I mean, Christ, who needs another Adele? But, being the unpaid professional I am, I carried on to listen anyway. Rosie Carney is nothing like Adele. Fact. Where Adele fits in alongside the likes of Cilla Black, Carney is for more aligned with the likes of PJ Harvey, Laura Marling, Bjork and Beth Orton – and she’s all the better for it. ‘Better Man’ is a delicate, soft and touching song that gently sways like the branches of a Weeping Willow in a soft early evening breeze. Carney’s voice, while ultimately soothing, is also incredibly disarming but at least she isn’t banging on about Adele’s ex, let’s leave that to Adele.


MACKIN CARROLL – EP REVIEW

Mackin Carroll – Damascus EP 
Mackin Carroll - Damascus EP


Release Date: Out Now

The first thing you need to know about this EP is that this is solo consumption. Don’t throw this on at a party and expect it to improve the mood. Now, that’s not to say it’s bad, quite the opposite. Before the first track was over I could tell this was a beautiful, heartfelt and honest musician making music for individuals, not the masses all at once. That first track for example, ‘Ashes On The Bridge’, is a Dylan-esque lament about a flyover and Carroll’s desire to have his ashes scattered from said structure when he dies. It contains a morosely strummed acoustic guitar, Carroll’s rich voice and the occasional accompaniment of a female vocal – nothing else. The EP was essentially recorded live and raw which only adds to the honesty and beauty of the piece.

I guess what I’m saying is that Mackin Carroll could be that illegitimate child that Llewyn Davis sires but never meets on screen, such is his talent and ability to make a lament feel like a warm, familiar blanket of regrets. “I hope that I grow old so that I can see my kid feel better than me”, for instance, is the closing line of ‘Cigarettes & Fatherhood’ which is a masterful piece of song writing about past and future regrets and anxieties in the mould of Evan Dando on a really bad day. The final part of this trio is ‘Sleepwalking’ which heads back to Bob Dylan for inspiration with its semi-spoken, semi-drawled vocal performance and jittery guitars. Call it folk, call it Americana, call it singer-songwriting; I just call it great and possibly the least fake thing to come out of LA…ever.



JAMIE MOON – SINGLE REVIEW

Jamie Moon – Fear For Your Life (The Acoustic Roots Label) 
Jamie Moon - Fear For Your Life


Release Date: Out Now

This song has me reeling and I don’t care who knows it. The acoustic riff at the beginning seems like a carbon copy of Foo Fighter’s ‘On The Mend’ but then ‘Fear For Your Life’ starts to shift in to something more like I Am Kloot with understated vocals and gently chugging guitars. Then the chorus appears on the horizon and the thudding drums build the tension until this song has stabbing guitars, piano, crashing cymbals and all the power of a Snow Patrol stadium filling tune with the soul of a Tom Williams & The Boat heartbreaker. This is epic stuff and not in the way that kids at the bus stop mean, it is truly epic. The video is excellent too so really we’ve got the full package right here, all the way from downtown Nottingham.



Sunday, 19 June 2016

TAYLOR TUCKER – SINGLE REVIEW

Taylor Tucker – Leather Shoes 
Taylor Tucker - Leather Shoes


Release Date: Out Now

Saucy New York minx Taylor Tucker has decided to unleash her debut single, ‘Leather Shoes’, on an unsuspecting public so you’d better sit up straight and listen good. Immediately, ‘Leather Shoes’ has the stomping thump of Florence + The Machine, some sexy soulful horns and a sense of the Amy Winehouse brand of vocal ability but with a more pop sensibility. Tucker keeps you guessing from verse to chorus and back again with her rich tones adding some silk to the steely industry of that punchy rhythm section. This is a song made for tough seduction, ‘I want you but only my terms’ is the message Tucker is giving out. Kinda like girlpower but without all the crop-tops and shrieking. This is just power, regardless of gender. I told you to listen good, don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Saturday, 18 June 2016

MIA RENWALL – SINGLE REVIEW

Mia Renwall – Full Circle Rainbow 
Mia Renwall - Full Circle Rainbow


Release Date: Out Now

So one thing you should know about this song is that is been chosen as the anthem for the Helsinki Pride Festival so it’s only fitting given recent events that this is positively charged slice uplifting pop that will have crowds dancing and smiling in elation. Helsinki singer-songwriter Mia Renwall releases ‘Full Circle Rainbow’ at exactly the right time for society to get a shot of positivity that is pitched somewhere above a Eurovision winner and in the realms of the classier end of dance like Klangkarussell or Above & Beyond. A satisfyingly pumping beat and flitting melodies create a bed for Renwall’s voice to float effortlessly above like a cool linen sheet on a hot, European afternoon. Bliss.



Live Dates:

27th June – Helsinki Pride House Opening, Helsinki
27th June – The Circus, Helsinki
29th June – Harjun Nuorisotalo, Helsinki
2nd July – Helsinki Pride Park Fest, Helsinki
2nd July – Eurogames & Helsinki Pride Closing Party, Helsinki
9th July – Natural High Healing Festival, Uusikaupunki

20th August – Club Origo, Hanko

Friday, 17 June 2016

DEPARTED – EP REVIEW

Departed – Departed EP 
Departed - Departed EP


Release Date: 18th June 2016

Devon rock outfit Departed are about to unleash a 7 track EP upon an unsuspecting public although I would argue that at 7 tracks it’s dangerously close to being a mini-album. This collection opens up with the sub three-minute power-ballad of ‘Are You Ready?’ which is pitched somewhere between mid-career Foo Fighters and a clutch of 80s hair metal bands doing lunges regardless of which instrument they’re playing (apart from the drummer, maybe). ‘Dreaming’, on the other hand, opens with a much more menacing feel and is far more in the vein of Guns’n’Roses, Buckcherry or Motley Crue with some chunky riffs and powerhouse drums building to a sing-a-long anthem of a chorus. The slightly creepily titled ‘Pretty Little Thing’ goes all Bon Jovi on us (I’m thinking ‘Blaze of Glory’) to begin with before some more choppy, angry guitars beef things up a bit.

Half way through the EP, ‘Don’t Follow Me’ pops up like an angry teenager and it’s a party tune and a half. Snarling guitars, a rock’n’roll spirit, growling vocals and the revving engine of a dirty motorbike all combine to make the kind of song that you would gladly watch ride off in to the distance as long as it didn’t make direct eye contact with you. ‘Superstitious’ is a speed-rock tune that doesn’t let up in its Motorhead meets AC/DC drive and sense of urgency while ‘Steal Your Crown’ straps that Foo Fighters mask on again and busts out the tight riffage and powerhouse vocal performance. The EP closes with ‘All I Want’ (surely one of the most popular song titles ever) and it’s four minutes of foot stamping rock’n’roll that will get venues nice and sweaty as it chugs and thrusts along the dusty highway. Departed are not breaking any boundaries with this collection of songs but they are creating a good, old fashioned rock’n’roll racket which is hard to dislike. Throw in some leather, long hair, skull artwork and an upside down crucifix as part of the logo and you’ve got yourself a proper rock band. No mistake.


Live Dates:

8th July – Apple & Parrot, Torquay
12th August – Livewire, Saltash w/Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band (Motorhead)
13th August – The Hub, Plymouth w/John Coghlan’s QUO
26th August – Belinis @ Dartmouth Regatta, Dartmouth
23rd September – Main Stage @ Looe Music Festival, Looe
30th September – Bierkeller, Bristol w/Chuck Mosely of Faith No More
8th October – The Dolls House, Abertillery
11th November – Hard Rock Hell, Pwllheli

26th November – The Globe, Cardiff w/Big Country

Thursday, 16 June 2016

NARCS – SINGLE REVIEW

Narcs – Bullingdon Boys (Clue Records) 
Narcs - Bullingdon Boys


Release Date: Out Now

So the world is turning to shit faster than you can say ‘misogynistic racist nut-job’ and the soundtrack is still a collection of arse wobbling mediocrity ‘singing’ about where they want you to put your junk through a series of very thinly veiled euphemisms. What we need now is some angry, politically charged music by four master songwriters from Leeds who want to hold their middle fingers up at the establishment while a wave of feedback dries their eyeballs in to dust. Well, you’re in luck, Narcs are back. There’s a new album on the way next month but, for now, feast your ears on new single ‘Bullingdon Boys’. From the punchy drums that herald the start of this tune to the expansive guitars and grinding bass this is a tune that screams of underdogs taking centre stage in the big leagues. This is Leicester City not only winning the Premier League but setting fire to the trophy and pissing on the bonfire. And then there’s the lyrics; where else would you find lyrics like “Captain Neckbeard and his logical bellend friends” and “Your whole street means less than a single fucking Boris faced foetus”? Narcs are not just a band you should listen to for enjoyment but a band you NEED to listen to as the soundtrack to your anger at the world right now. And if you’re not angry then you should be, you really, really should be.



Live Dates:

8th July – Album Launch show @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds w/ Mouses + Fighting Caravans
9th July – 2000 Trees Festival, Tetbury
16th July – Green Rooms, Stockton

23rd July – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

JUPITER CATS – SINGLE REVIEW

Jupiter Cats – A Disengagement Party (Foof Records) 
Jupiter Cats - A Disengagement Party


Release Date: 17th June 2016

Two men in colourful knitted balaclavas making quirky indie pop is essentially what Jupiter Cats amount to but you could be forgiven for thinking they are a low budget Daft Punk… with trumpets. ‘A Disengagement Party’ is a wonderfully, classically British slice of Indie pop in the vein of the Divine Comedy (yes, I know) Belle & Sebastian, Squeeze and Teenage Fanclub. Horns, organs, guitars and a snappy rhythm section all make for fun listening and the balaclava heavy video makes for enjoying viewing too. Low budget, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some real gems in the bargain bin sometimes. Charming stuff.



Wednesday, 15 June 2016

THE MEDICINE HAT – SINGLE REVIEW

The Medicine Hat – New Survival 
The Medicine Hat - New Survival


Release Date: Out Now

More wondrous music from the realms of Canada now as Ontario miserablists The Medicine Hat are back with a new single under the title ‘New Survival’. Now don’t misunderstand me when I use the term miserablist, I’m a firm believer that from time to time we all need to visit our dark side, our grumpy quarters and our moody mansion. ‘New Survival’ is a great soundtrack to the journey towards these spaces as the urgent beats and swaying synths mark off each mile of the journey fuelled by the bouncing guitars. There is a sense of wanting to resist the urge to wallow, to rise above the misery here but also a sense of acceptance that the only way out is through. The Medicine Hat take the expansive indie of the likes of the Arcade Fire and the Killers but add a darker, alt-pop edge that is washed down with some seriously gorgeous vocals. One for the dark times, for sure, but one that will help you through them as well. Classy stuff.



Tuesday, 14 June 2016

THE BALLROOM BABIES – SINGLE REVIEW

The Ballroom Babies – I Won’t Change 
The Ballroom Babies - I Won't Change


Release Date: Out Now

Three hungry Canadian brothers walked in to a bar and the landlord said “play me some Blues and I’ll get you some shows in close proximity to a whole lot of food”, so the legend goes. In reality, the Ballroom Babies are three Canadian brothers but the fact that most of their forthcoming gigs seem to be at food based events could be a coincidence. New single ‘I Won’t Change’, however, is one mother loving slice of Blues Rock and no mistake. Hendrix-esque grooves fly from the guitars while that rhythm section rocks out as tight as anyone out there today. The three way brotherly harmonies add some velvet to the raw, steely machine that chugs away relentlessly eating up the road beneath its smoking tyres. Get these boys some ribs and a few brewskis and then let them rock your socks off, it’s only right.


Live Dates:

17th June – Beach BBQ & Brews Festival, Toronto
18th June – Cherry Cola’s, Toronto
25th June – Woodstock Rib Fest, Woodstock
2nd July – Georgina Rib Fest, Goergina
9th July – Thomas Rib Fest, Saint Thomas
16th July – Milton Rib Fest, Milton
29th July – Hamilton Food Festival, Hamilton
7th August – Ajax Rib Fest, Ajax
13th August – Gage Park Rib Festival, Hamilton
19th August – Georgetown Rib Festival, Georgetown

28th August – Orillia Rib Festival, Ontario

THE RAMONA FLOWERS – SINGLE REVIEW

The Ramona Flowers – Dirty World (Distiller Records)
The Ramona Flowers - Dirty World


Release Date: 17th June 2016

Fancy a little synthed up indie pop with a video featuring the love child of a threesome between Daft Punk and Skeletor conceived in a disco? I thought you might. The Ramona Flowers’ new single, ‘Dirty World’, is a heady and sexy blend of the Killers, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem and Duran Duran all slick melodies and pulsing bass lines. Never mind bikini ready, these guys are stadium ready and the video matches the slickness in the music brilliantly. Uplifting, sexy, heavy on the melodies and with a nod and a wink to the 80s – you can thank me later.



Live Dates:

2nd July – Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham

16th July – Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, Edinburgh 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

THE BLACKHEART ORCHESTRA – SINGLE REVIEW

The Blackheart Orchestra – Keep The Light In 
The Blackheart Orchestra - Keep The Light In


Release Date: 24th June 2016

The wonderfully named Mancunian duo, the Blackheart Orchestra (sounds piratey doesn’t it?), are ready to unleash their debut single on the world and what a peach it was. Chrissy Mostyn and Rick Pilkington, for they are The Blackheart Orchestra, are releasing ‘Keep The Light In’ and you need to listen up and pay attention if you’re a fan of slightly gothy dance with a hint of the dramatic. Taking the more muted moments of Florence + The Machine, a more accessible Portishead and Ellie Goulding’s angrier little sister and mixing it in a sparse little electro sound-lab has created something particularly enthralling. The beats gently lurch forwards while the electric melodies pulse and sparkle in the shadows allowing Mostyn’s voice to take centre stage in all its breathy elegance. Late night loveliness then from the duo with the most apt of names.



Live Dates:

17th June – Holland House, Pershore
18th June – St Denys Church, Colmworth
24th June – Burton Dassett Hall, Warwick
25th June – Worleston Hall, Nantwich
20th July – The Art House, Southampton

13th August – Muncaster Hall, Ravenglass

Thursday, 9 June 2016

JAKE MORLEY – ALBUM REVIEW

Jake Morley – The Manual (Sandwich Emporium Records) 
Jake Morley - The Manual


Release Date: 10th June 2016

The arrival of this CD on my doormat happened at what you might call an opportune moment. You see, Jake Morley is one of my all-time favourite singer-songwriters so this second album was always going to make me smile but the fact that the album, ‘The Manual’, is a guide to how to be an adult man in adverse times seemed spot on what with just having been diagnosed with cancer in the last few months and having a young son named Jake as well. Themes of loss (Morley’s father died when he was 21), confusion and struggles with mental health all run through this album like letters through a stick of musical rock.

Anyway, on to the music, and this music is particularly fine. Opening with ‘The Floods’ you’d be forgiven for thinking that all is well in the world of Jake Morley as the quirky rhythm, slithering bass notes and professions of love create an atmosphere of romantic obsession that stays just the right side of stalking. It is on ‘Strange Loop’, however, that Morley’s unsettled state comes to the fore through his truly unique and astounding songrwriting comes to the fore as at least three or four songs are blended together in different movements and often at the same time to magical effect. Now, before the next song I would warn anyone who has been through a difficult break up recently to leave the room for 4 minutes and 59 seconds. You see, ‘Ghostess’ is an absolutely heart rending account of that period between the break up and getting over it as Morley takes in abandoned tooth brushes, indents in mattresses and socks left behind enemy lines. I don’t mind admitting it reduced me to tears and still brings a sting to the back of my eyes.

The Manual - fancy packaging
On ‘Falter’ our hero uses his guitar as though he’s playing a hip-hop waterfall such are the rippling notes and louche rhythm all held together by forlorn strings and lyrics that question every decision thus far in life. One of the undoubted highlights of the album, however, is the extraordinary ‘Watch Yourself’ during which Morley duets with a choir of his unconscious mind and works through a whole series issues whilst also holding down a catchy melody and some original arrangements – not bad for a three-minute indie-pop song that ends on a triumphant crescendo of mind and soul pulling together for the greater good. The piano led ‘Room In The Middle’ is another tear jerking rendition as Morley’s soft vocals show that he’s starting to come to terms with the issues that have been pulling him in myriad directions for so long. Then, on ‘Lionchild’, we return to the kind of tune that was more evident on Morley’s first album with scattered and hammered out acoustic notes and half spoken story telling as a vocal style.

Strangely, it is the seductively dark ‘Weight On My Eyes’ that provides potentially the most commercial moment on this record as the growling piano and guitar chug through a darkly rich tune which sees us getting to explore the darker reaches of Mr Morley’s soul and imagination. Despite opening like ‘The Living Years’ by Mike and The Mechanics, ‘Allegorical House’ is a truly outstanding piece of storytelling, songwriting and, yes, it’s tear jerkingly beautiful – happy tears this time though. A truly uplifting song without any pretentiousness or cynicism attached is a rare thing
Jake Morley - Genius
these days but on ‘Allegorical House’ the relief, joy and sense of release is entirely palpable and if it doesn’t touch you somewhere inside then you’ve issues of your own. Album title track ‘The Manual’ is a slow, late night acoustic jam which sees Morley explore his more soulful and philosophical side but the lines “walk tall, find a roof and make a bed. Take good care of all the ones that you love. Don’t be scared, be strong, carry the weight of the world. It’s time to learn what it means to be a man now” resonate so heavily with me in my current state that I can’t help but feel this album was somehow intended for me and me alone.

The album closes on ‘Start Again’, a statement of positive intention for the future and the kind of tune that will get folks dancing and smiling at the end of his sets every time. What Jake Morley has created on ‘The Manual’ is an intensely personal account of his battles and struggles delivered with incredibly original musicianship, inventive lyrics and real sense of care whilst retaining the freshness. The by-product of that work is an album that speaks directly to me at a particularly difficult time and, I suspect, will be a source of strength and support for a number of others going through stuff that they need a hand up from. Bravo Monsieur Morley, bravo indeed.


Listen/Download: http://www.jakemorley.com/music/  

Live Dates:

17th June – Le Vicomte, Rouen
18th June – La Scene Bourgogne, Orleans
19th June – Le Resevoir, Paris
20th June – Bar A Papa, Alencon
23rd July – ToneFest, Poole
16th November – Gullivers, Manchester
17th November – Bootleggers, Kendal
18th November – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
19th November – Thekla, Bristol

23rd November – Bush Hall, London 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

JOSH KEMP – SINGLE REVIEW

Josh Kemp – Imaginary Friend/What A Wonderful World 
Josh Kemp - Imaginary Friend/What A Wonderful World


Release Date: Out Now

Videos are a funny thing these days as some artists don’t bother and some go full throttle for something truly creative and original. Nottingham singer-songwriter Josh Kemp has gone for something in the middle in the video accompanying his latest release ‘Imaginary Friend/What A Wonderful World’. Using self-shot (yes, sometimes using the dreaded selfie stick) from travelling around South East Asia that shows some stunning scenery, Kemp matches up a song that is from the Jack Johnson, Ed Sheeran, Newton Faulkner or Passenger school of uplifting guitar led pop. The second half of the song is a sparse, piano led version of the classic ‘What A Wonderful World’ as the jealousy inducing footage continues. There’s no doubting that Kemp has a smooth and pleasing voice that fits in to the Michael Buble stable of sounds and he seems like a thoroughly nice bloke so he’d probably go down a treat on the X-Factor or the Voice if they’re still running. Right now, though, I just want to book a holiday that I can’t afford. Thanks for that Josh….


Live Dates:


16th July – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

APEMAN SPACEMEN – SINGLE REVIEW

Apeman Spaceman – Spacecatraz 
Apeman Spaceman - Spacecatraz


Release Date: 10th June 2016

Now, I like the name these guys have chosen from themselves (supposedly Brian Cox inspired) but as the band is formed from musicians who have previously been members of Dogs and Razorlight I would have gone for RazorDogs myself. No matter, their debut single is the wonderfully titled ‘Spacecatraz’ and I’m not going to argue with that. The low slung bass and guitar riffery creates a chugging tsunami of noise that doesn’t let up for the near three minutes of this track. Essentially, this sounds like My Bloody Valentine producing Cake and Presidents of the United States of America but with David Bowie on vocals and a whole lot of weed doing the rounds during the recording sessions, none of which is a bad thing.



Live Dates:


10th June – Seabright Arms, Hackney

PALM HONEY – SINGLE REVIEW

Palm Honey – You Stole My Blackout (Flying Vinyl) 
Palm Honey - You Stole My Blackout


Release Date: Out Now

Well this is a jaunty little number and no mistake. All it needs is a cravat and some fly sunglasses before it would be offered its own boutique in Soho. The tune in question is the indie-psych stomper ‘You Stole My Blackout’ from Reading quartet Palm Honey. Bouncing guitars, tight drums and melodies that would sound great ringing out around a festival tent in an English field this summer all mingle and intertwine to create what becomes a proper romper-stomper of a tune. The infectious hook has brought me back for at least five listens in half an hour and, well, I’m going for six right now; why don’t you join me?


Live Dates:


15th June – Purple Turtle, Reading

KETO – SINGLE REVIEW

Keto – Nowhere 
Keto - Nowhere


Release Date: 17th June 2016

There is a type of sound, a sense of being that it is so quintessentially English that it speaks of time immemorial and this is the sound that Nottingham lo-folk combo Keto produce with elegant ease. New single ‘Nowhere’ (from the ‘What We Do’ EP) is so delicately poised that it sounds like the aural representation of morning’s first light dappling through the low slung canopy of Oak and Birch trees giving just enough light for the woodland creatures to go about their early morning business to. The winding and sliding violin is pure Laure Marling while Joanna Newsome gets her influence in on the vocals before the bass starts to slither around in the background and melodious notes dance around in the half-light, still drunk on the intoxications of the previous night’s revelries. One of those songs that you can get utterly lost inside if you let it inside you. Beautiful.



Live Dates:

18th June – Chameleon Arts CafĂ©, Nottingham

22nd-24th July – Nozstock Festival

MAD LOVE – SINGLE REVIEW

Mad Love – I’m Not A Smoker 
Mad Love - I'm Not A Smoker


Release Date: Out Now

‘Angry Northern Teenage Noise’ and ‘Indie Music Antiheroes’ are just two of the descriptions this Huddersfield trio give themselves and they sound like fine mottos to set your stall out to. ‘I’m Not A Smoker’ opens with some strained and drawled vocals atop some delicate guitar a la early Arctic Monkeys or the Longpigs. Just before the minute mark, however, a swaying, braying and leery end of the night indie anthem lurches in to view. The bass is the driving force here as these young’uns take direction from 90s Britpop, slacker grunge and the Sub Pop back catalogue to create something that lives up everything they’ve said about themselves. This is angry, there is a northern accent in evidence, they are teenagers and boy is there a wall of noise as they sing ‘Do you need another metaphor?’ as if they’re asking you all out for a fight. I love the energy and the cynicism for ones so young, more please.



Live Dates:

9th June – Tsone, Middleborough
10th June – Santiago’s, Leeds w/Party Hardly + Alverstone
11th June – The Maze, Nottingham
18th June – Live In Barnsley, Barnsley
24th June – The Rs Bar, Sheffield
29th June – Otso, Huddersfield (Acoustic Show)

9th July – Futuresound Competition @ The Wardrobe, Leeds

ALESSANDRO CIMINATA – EP REVIEW

Alessandro  Ciminata – Rivers EP 
Alessandro Ciminata - Rivers EP


Release Date: Out Now

Although currently plying his trade in London, Alessandro Ciminata originally hails from Biela northern Italy and that accent comes lazily drifting in to this EP like sun through a window on a Sunday afternoon. This three track EP opens with ‘Shadow’ which is as close to prog-folk as I’ve ever heard a solo artist get with meandering guitars, percussion as an afterthought and Ciminata seemingly on a Doors-esque train of thought lyrical journey. ‘Pleasure and Pain’ is a little more indie by numbers but Alessandro’s English lyrics are still a million miles better than anything I could write in Italian so respect is due for that at the very least. The EP closes on ‘Autumn’ which opens as a more traditionally folky number with those oh-so-quiet vocals that put me in mind of David Kitt or Ben’s Symphonic Orchestra and develops in to something more akin to Teenage Fanclub. All in all, I feel like Alessandro Ciminata makes the kind of music that you could kick back and relax to but there’s also a bit of substance behind these tunes as well – like reading a philosophical novel while you dangle your feet in the cool waters of Lake Garda.



Monday, 6 June 2016

HILARY WOODS – SINGLE REVIEW

Hilary Woods – Bathing (Blood Orange) 
Hilary Woods - Bathing


Release Date: Out Now

I’m always keen to give new artists a chance, particularly when they’ve been in other bands before but are now striking out in a new direction. However, although this is no different I do have to pause and note a smirk of joy when I saw that former JJ72 bassist Hilary Woods was putting out solo material. Now this has nothing to do with her musical ability, I always quite liked JJ72, it’s just that during my university years my partner in crime Adam had an uncontrollable crush on Ms Woods for which I mocked him relentlessly.

Anyone, on to the music; ‘Bathing’ is a super-slow, tripped out slice of ambience that drifts in on the mists of an estuary with a sense of foreboding calm. This is a 21st century siren call that lures you in with its long held notes and breathy vocals before the clicked rhythm starts to chip away at your sanity and before you know it you can’t remember who your family are or how to get home. The rippling piano leaves this erring on the side of beauty as the likes of PJ Harvey, Portishead and Ultravox all come seeping through like fresh rain water filtering through porous rock. This is a vast soundscape that takes nearly six minutes to come in to focus but when it does you can’t help but go back to the beginning to do it all again. Oh and there are loads of giraffes in the video which may or may not float your boat.