Tuesday, 30 August 2016

ALSARAH & THE NUBATONES – SINGLE REVIEW

Alsarah & The Nubatones – Ya Watan 
Alsarah & The Nubatones - Ya Watan


Release Date: Out Now

The world seems obsessed with the pros and cons of immigrants or refugees at the moment so it seems somewhat timely to be featuring an artist who was born in Sudan, raised in Yemen and has been plying her trade in Brooklyn. Alsarah and her selected Nubatones present ‘Ya Watan’ for your listening pleasure and it’s a truly refreshing piece of music if ever I heard one. Musically and lyrically this is hugely influenced by Alsarah’s routes in traditional tribal music but clearly she’s learned a thing or two about Western pop melodies as well. The vocals and harmonies create a hypnotic swirl only punctuated by the rhythmic drumming and occasional synth trill. If you’re after something original and cleansing then I can heartily recommend Alsarah & The Nubatones to tick both boxes for you.



Live Dates:

9th September – Chicago World Music Festival, Chicago

17th September – Lotus World Music Festival, Bloomington

MACCIE – SINGLE REVIEW

Maccie – Bleed 
Maccie - Bleed


Release Date: Out Now

Ontario starlet Maccie is back with new single ‘Bleed’ and it’s a moody, atmospheric and wonderfully bleak blend with its feet firmly planted in the 80s. Blending elements of Florence + The Machine, Soft Cell, the Human League and Bat For Lashes, Maccie manages to fuse the coldness of early 80s electro synth pop with a voice full of soul and sensuality which is a talent in itself. But the piece de resistance is to package this all up in a slinky yet almost confrontational song which leaves an impression on the listener and not an unwelcome one.



Friday, 26 August 2016

JAMIE N COMMONS – SINGLE REVIEW

Jamie N Commons – Not Gonna Break Me (Fiction Records) 
Jamie N Commons - Not Gonna Break Me


Release Date: Out Now

Jamie N Commons may look like Chesney Hawkes’ grumpier little brother and he may go for wearing ponchos on stage on the odd occasion but he’s got the kind of gravelly, man-of-the-people voice that you usually only hear from wizened old rocker types. New single ‘Not Gonna Break Me’ is one of those moody, montage soundtracking tunes that comes straight outta the next Fast and Furious (I’m assuming it’s on to 12 by now, “So Fast I’m Furious – angry old ladies moan about the boy racers outside their bungalows”) featuring big, booming drums and Commons’ powerful vocal tones all threaded together with some moody keys and slide guitar work. It’s slightly more Bon Jovi than it is Springsteen but I think a lot of musicians would chew your left ear off for the chance at having half the career of JBJ wouldn’t they?  



SHAYLA SOULIERE – SINGLE REVIEW

Shayla Souliere – Screw U 
Shayla Souliere - Screw U
                             
Release Date: Out Now

There seems to be a long line of talented female pop stars coming out of Canada at the moment and Regina Saskatchewan native Shayla Souliere is the latest on the conveyor belt. The slightly uncompromisingly titled ‘Screw U’ is one of those songs that you just know is borne out of real life emotions as the stabbed keyboard melodies and Kelly Clarkson vocals emerge from the wreckage of a totalled relationship. The slightly subdued verses give way to an angry and bile spitting chorus that is delivered through clenched teeth and a sense of utter defiance. ‘Screw U’ fits in well with likes of Pink, Katie Perry and Jessie J in terms of creating pop with that defiant, sassy edge and a sense of power that is hard to ignore.



Thursday, 25 August 2016

DOLLIE DEMI – SINGLE REVIEW

Dollie Demi – New Girl 
Dollie Demi - New Girl 


Release Date: Out Now

I’m a sucker for a bit of bubblegum pop with a sassy attitude and it feels like a while since the dust settled on the whole girl power thing so I’m intrigued by the prospect of Mancunian pop princess Dollie Demi. This debut single, ‘New Girl’, pretty instantly sets its stall out as somewhere in the middle of the Lily Allen, Kate Nash and Brassy trifecta but with louder guitars and a real American radio friendly twang. The 90s skatepunk guitars mixed with Demi’s saccharine sweet vocals and some big drums in the middle eight make this primed for the kind of film where a teenage geek girl finds her inner glamour-puss and shocks all the mean girls at the prom but with a more English edge. This is in no way highbrow stuff but if you want something you can mosh to and have a melody stuck in your head for the bus ride home then Dollie Demi might just be your favourite new pop star.


Live Dates:


21st September – Night & Day CafĂ©, Manchester

HOLY HOLY – SINGLE REVIEW

Holy Holy – Darwinism 
Holy Holy - Darwinism


Release Date: Out Now

Aussie outfit Holy Holy are coming across to kick up a storm in Europe this Autumn so it’s only fair that us Europeans get a fix on what they sound like before they get here (apologies to any Australian readers but they’re doing a massive tour in November so you’re getting more than your fair share). New single ‘Darwinism’ is a beefy slice of indie-pop that combines the slick smoothness of the Killers or the Strokes with the darkness and despair of the National or Interpol. Interested? You should be. This is heavyweight stuff with rumbling drums, wall-to-wall guitars and there’s even a brass section before we get to an almighty guitar solo that actually makes my eardrums vibrate. For a song named after the concept of evolution, ‘Darwinism’ has something heavenly about it but always with the threat of the underworld bubbling under the surface.



Live Dates:

20th September – Paradiso, Amsterdam
21st September – Merleyn, Nijmegen
23rd – 24th September – Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg
27th September – Electrowerkz, London w/St Agnes
28th September – Oporto, Leeds
1st October – Supersonic Club, Paris

2nd October – Rotown, Rotterdam

EMILY C. SMITH – EP REVIEW

Emily C. Smith – Far From Judd 
Emily C. Smith - Far From Judd EP


Release Date: Out Now

I don’t go much for genres but Emily C. Smith’s self-certification as a ‘Death Folk’ artist has me hooked pretty much straight away. This shiny new EP from the Londoner kicks off with ‘Don’t Leave Me Alone’ and I already love death folk as a genre. Processed beats, roomy guitars and a primal wail that Polly Jean would give a respectful nod to all mingle together to make a lo-fi but thoroughly enthralling tune with a grunge heart and so much soul it hurts. ‘Slow Death’ is more jaunty but the guitars are still buzzsaw sexy, so much so that this deserves a brightly coloured, 90s inspired video filmed on super-8 and featuring a number of musicians in an open topped car.

On ‘I Have No Use For You’, Smith explores the death element of her genre with the chugging, moody guitars and her attitude rich snarl evoking sonic images of Patti Smith, Anna Calvi, Belly and a classier version of Courtney Love. The EP closes with ‘Burn’ which is a far more sedate affair with elements of Teenage Fanclub and the Lemonheads to the lackadaisical guitar strum. Emily C. Smith is one of the most rounded, talented and vital artists I’ve heard in a long time and I’ve listened to a lot of artists in my time. The funny thing is, when I first wrote that last sentence, I instinctively put ‘female’ in the description but on reflection it’s completely unnecessary – this is an artist who transcends both gender and genre. Stick that in you pigeon hole and smoke it.


9th September – EP Launch @ The Harrison, London

21st October – Hope & Anchor, London

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

PAREKH & SINGH – SINGLE REVIEW

Parekh & Singh – I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll (Peacefrog Records) 
Parekh & Singh - I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll


Release Date: Out Now

This has to go down as one of the most astonishingly surprising tracks to come my way this year. Seriously. Parekh and Singh are duo of gents hailing from Kolkata in India and they sure are a pair of snappy dressers but, more importantly, they make gloriously understated indie-folk-pop with a tinge country. ‘I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll’ blends elements of Belle & Sebastian, David Kitt, Sufjan Stevens, the Flaming Lips, the Magic Numbers and the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis to make a gentle, subtle and thoroughly adorable tune with soft but oh-so-sweet vocals. I don’t know what I expected from the artwork and the back story to these two chaps but it certainly wasn’t this and I’m glad. I do so love nice surprises.


ASTRONAUTS – SINGLE REVIEW

Astronauts – Breakout (Lo Recordings) 
Astronauts - Breakout


Release Date: Out Now

Londoner Dan Carney, for he is Astronauts, is the latest in a long and distinguished line of lo-fi electro, folk artists from in and around the British Isles. This latest single, ‘Breakout’, is as downbeat as they come as the tightly strummed acoustic guitar battles with layers of noises, melodies and beats to create the kind of sound that forged successful careers for the likes of Jim Noir, Badly Drawn Boy and David Kitt. What’s different here, though, is that Carney’s smooth vocals and sense of the cinematic means that this could just fly in America as well as being successful in his own back yard. There’s something of the Midlake or Eels about this and that makes it even more appealing so get some in your life.


I AM KARATE – SINGLE REVIEW

I Am Karate – Swayze 
I Am Karate - Swayze


Release Date: Out Now

Let’s be clear, this is electro-pop by a Swedish duo named after a Japanese martial art with a song about a dead man famous for playing a dance instructor in a film from the 80s set in the 50s. OK? Good. I Am Karate are said Swedish duo and their single ‘Swayze’ is slinky, sultry and classy as the bass tones modulate sensuously and the electro melodies go from subtle verses to dog-bark choruses. Whether it be as songwriters, producers or performers, Erika and Marta could fit in with the big league pop players in the U.S. so ‘Swayze’ should be treated as a calling card and one printed on fine Italian leather if this is anything to go by.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/iamkaratemusic/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

KAISER CHIEFS – SINGLE REVIEW

Kaiser Chiefs – Hole In My Soul 
Kaiser Chiefs - Hole In My Soul


Release Date: Out Now

Kaiser Chiefs have just about come full circle from what I can gather. From plucky Northern indie upstarts to America bothering British high hopes to commercial radio sell outs and now back to indie upstarts made good. This new single, ‘Hole In My Soul’, is a very different sound to what you might expect from the Leeds quintet with elements of nu-Coldplay, Bombay Bicycle Club and the Farm all mingling together to make a dance tinged indie stomper with a slight hint of Take That’s indie-pop nous about it. If this was a new band on the scene getting its first air play on XFM I think a lot of folk would be raving about this but I suspect a lot of folk will think Ricky has been hanging out with Will.I.Am backstage on the Voice too much. For me, this is a brave new direction and just the kind of thing the band need to do to avoid doing tours of their first two albums for the next 20 years. A brave move and one to be applauded.



Live Dates:

10th September – Lollapalooza, Berlin
11th September – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
22nd February – Venue Cymru Arena, Llandudno
24th February – Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth
25th February – Birmingham Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
27th February – Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth
28th February – Brighton Centre, Brighton
1st March – The O2, London
3rd March – Manchester Arena, Manchester

4th March – First Direct Arena, Leeds

JUSTIN LLAMAS – EP REVIEW

Justin Llamas – Gold EP 
Justin Llamas - Gold EP


Release Date: Out Now

Flattery will get you a long way with me, I’m that shallow. So when Justin Llamas approached me with praise for a previous review I had written I felt compelled to give his new EP a listen at the very least. The Gold EP opens with ‘Got It Out For Me’ and it’s as instantly poppy and paranoid as when I first reviewed it with its crunch beats and dirty bass. ‘Last In Line’ has a Drifters meets Bruno Mars via Meghan Trainor feel about to it while ‘Tile Floor’ is more dramatic with it’s made-for-MTV piano stabs and dramatic beats.

EP title track ‘Gold’ features the additional vocal talents of Amina Harris and has that defiantly poppy feel that Temposhark used to employ so well but mixed with some hip-hop vibes. ‘Figure Things Out’ closes the EP out and it’s a cinema ready ballad as Llamas’ smooth vocal signs off with a sense of heartache and regret. The MTV and E4 generations should lap this up and Llamas obviously has knack for writing a smooth pop song so it’s all looking golden from here….sorry.


BARE HUNTER – EP REVIEW

Bare Hunter – Dry Rot EP 
Bare Hunter - Dry Rot EP


Release Date: Out Now

Who fancies some dirty blues rock from London town? Tough, that’s what you’re getting. Trio Bare Hunter have unleashed their Dry Rot EP on the world and it kicks off with the furiously paced ‘She Said’ which has all the snarl and swagger of The Hives mixed with the uber-cool of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The rumble, the thud and the wail all mingle to a tumultuous level and I’m in love, I want to have their babies and we’re only one track in. ‘Cash Money’ is a more scratchy, bluesy affair with a harmonica siren call and that Jon Spencer (or is it Boss Hogg) tone is there again mixed with the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s grandsons playing around in the family vault.

On ‘Kilamanjaro’ Bare Hunter’s psychedelic influences start to shine through as some plodding drums and atmospheric guitars stumble from a smoky room in nothing by a pair of skinny jeans and a smile. There are brief moments when this sounds like a song from a particularly freaky episode of the Mighty Boosh or a noodling Kula Shaker number but with more of a primal rumble to it before it explodes in to some frenetic, amp kicking garage rock’n’roll. EP title track ‘Dry Rot’ brings things to a close with a bluesy swamp stomp that sounds like the kind of thing Seasick Steve would jam out with Electric Six on the soundtrack to the sequel to ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’. That love at first sight feeling lasts through all four tracks on this EP so I think this might just be the real thing – I’m going to introduce Bare Hunter to my parents after a lustful weekend in Dover.


HUNTING BEARS – SINGLE REVIEW

Hunting Bears – Bronze, Silver & Gold 
Hunting Bears - Bronze, Silver & Gold


Release Date: Out Now

Here we sit in the interval between the Olympics and the Paralympics so it only seemed appropriate that we feature a song called ‘Bronze, Silver & Gold’ by Leeds combo Hunting Bears. These folk describe their music as Baroque Pop and this single is a delightfully sashaying number all dressed in a slinky little black number as it enters the club. The gentle drum shuffle and soulful vocals make this feel like Sade or Corinne Bailey-Rae but the guitars are more at the indie end of the soul spectrum which gives this a broader appeal. This is Sunday morning music for those Sundays when you’ve had a great night out, there’s no hangover and your other half brings you breakfast in bed with the papers and a glint in the eye. Superbly soulful but also wonderfully chilled so kick off your shoes and come get some.



Live Dates:


21st September – Oporto, Leeds w/Rue Royale + Poppy Rose

Monday, 22 August 2016

CASSELS – EP REVIEW

Cassels – You, Us and They (Scary Monsters) 
Cassels - You, Us and They


Release Date: 12th August 2016

I came across Cassels quite early on in their fledgling musical careers and there was always a tonne of potential in the back of their van so it’s great to see that being recognised with some more success and this official EP release. As was ever the case, Cassels are uncompromising from the off as opening track ‘Cool Box’ thrashes, crashes and splashes with Reuben’s aggression and Mike Skinner’s unapologetic vocal style. ‘You Us and They’ opens with some old Pathe audio about the setting up of the NHS before that deadpan vocal delivers the lyric “I’m a fucking idiot, I got run over by the last remaining ambulance”.

On ‘Well Fed Worms In A Graveyard’ the duo shift in to 100mph with a Fall-esque approach to melodies and time signatures in a 35 assault on the senses. The EP closes up with ‘Ignoring All the Tunnels & Lights’ which is a more considered number but still has that raw energy and brutal honesty that is a Cassels trademark in their garage-punk shamblings. They won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I don’t think they care particularly and they have the attitude combined with acerbic, on point lyrics to make them a compelling prospect if nothing else. And let’s face it, if ‘compelling’ is your base point then you’re doing something right aren’t you?


Live Dates:

25th August – The Wheatshead, Oxford w/Dym + Slate Hearts

Saturday, 20 August 2016

ARCH BIRDS FEAT. VANESSA HAYNES – SINGLE REVIEW

Arch Birds Feat. Vanessa Haynes – Be The Fastest 
Arch  Birds - Be The Fastest


Release Date: Out Now

Now, the cynical side of me suspects that this might be a ploy to get some attention during the Olympics but then I think you’ve got to take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way these days. You see, London duo Arch Birds have recruited nine-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt (aka the fastest man in the world) to dance in the video for their debut single, ‘Be The Fastest’ (see what they did there?). The tune itself is throbbing, instant electro beast with a pulsating beat and rippling melodies that could have been pulled straight out of an early 90s PC game soundtrack. Vanessa Hayes provides the vocal talent instructing everyone to “be the fastest, be the fastest” as Bolt dances round the club in formation with his fellow athletes looking like he hasn’t got a care in the world. Catchy, to the point and just the kind of song you want to kick of a party that celebrates literally being the fastest. Fair play all round.



Tuesday, 16 August 2016

HYPOPHORA – SINGLE REVIEW

Hypophora – Youth/Caught 
Hypophora - Youth/Caught


Release Date: Out Now

Have you ever wondered what kind of music the kids of Cornwall are making these days? Well, Truro trio Hypophora are a good place to start if you’re interested in finding out. New single ‘Youth’ is a clattering, rambunctious racket with power and finesse in equal measure as the band slot in behind LWM favourites Berries with influences in the Reuben, Biffy Clyro and early Incubus patch in the middle of their indie rock Venn diagram. The guitars are System Of A Down level intricate while the bass and drums are so tight you’d be lucky to get half a shandy out of them. Leading lady Katie McConnell has that rare thing these days in that she has uber-powerful lungs mixed in with a real vocal style that should see these guys play listed on a whole range of Rock shows and channels like Scuzz in no time. There’s the bonus of extra track ‘Caught’ here which is slightly more considered but packs no less of a punch with a growling bass line and 90s grunge guitars underneath McConnell’s clenched teeth vocals. This is small town frustration borne out with guitars and drums (my favourite, how did you know?) and it is utterly enthralling stuff. No more do you need to wonder about the kids of Cornwall, the answer is here and the answer is good. So good.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

PETULA CLARK – SINGLE REVIEW

Petula Clark – Sacrifice My Heart (BMG) 
Petula Clark - Sacrifice My Heart


Release Date: Out Now

It’s not often I get to review a genuine musical legend on this l’il blog of mine so when the opportunity to hear some new material from Petula Clark came along it didn’t take much to get me involved. The Epsom born songstress now resides in Switzerland but is returning to her native Britain to tour extensively and show off her new album as well as belting out a few of her hits, surely. ‘Sacrifice My Heart’ is the first missive from the forthcoming album and it is a dark slice of electro-disco that broods as much as it seduces. Taking musical influence from the likes of Pet Shop Boys and early French electro, Clark’s voice is as delicate and sweet as ever like a finely crafted piece of pastry adorned with elegant cream and decoration. There is a lot to learn here for those starting out on their musical careers; Petula keeps it edgy, perfectly crafted and superbly encapsulates that finely balanced cross-roads at the start of a relationship. Bravo indeed.



Live Dates:

3rd October – G Live, Guildford
5th October – Colston Hall, Bristol
6th October – Anvil Arts Centre, Basingstoke
7th October – Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe
9th October – St David’s Hall, Cardiff
10th October – Town Hall, Birmingham
11th October – The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
13th October – Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone
15th October – Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff-on-sea
16th October – Salisbury City Hall, Salisbury
17th October – Pavilion, Bournemouth
19th October – Town Hall, Leeds
20th October – Bridlington Spa, Bridlington
21st October – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

23rd October – Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London

MANGOSEED – SINGLE REVIEW

Mangoseed – Jah Jah 
Mangoseed - Jah Jah


Release Date: 26th August 2016

A Jamaican, a Trinidadian, an Australian and an Irishman walk in to a bar wearing face paint and kilts …. everyone else gets the fuck out of dodge. Alternatively, meet London quartet Mangoseed. The band’s new single, ‘Jah Jah’, is an intense slice of atmospheric dub-rock with tight beats and a loose bass line getting things go as scattered guitar notes dot the horizon. Some scratched out reggae rhythms and the impassioned singing Nicholai La Barrie make this one of those truly original songs you don’t forget hearing in a hurry although it never quite erupts in the way you might expect. Something a bit different, though, and that is always a good thing, isn’t it?


Listen Here: https://soundcloud.com/mangoseed/mangoseed-jah-jah-guide-radio-edit-mix-140616-master-1-1644/

Friday, 12 August 2016

BERRIES – SINGLE REVIEW

Berries – Written in Paint 
Berries - Written in Paint


Release Date: Out Now

Cards on the table, Listen With Monger loves this band so much that they’ve been booked to headline at our October show in London as part of #Blogtoberfest. Now, you might think this means I’m going to give them an automatically brilliant review but, like a parent who has to teach their child in school, I might just end up being harder on them. This latest single, ‘Written In Paint’, doesn’t give me much choice though; It’s just awesome. A deceptively delicate guitar riff is soon blown apart by that Biffy-esque angular thing they do so well and those uber-cool vocals. The bass rumbles and the drums fill the gaps with Arctic Monkeys tightness as they sing of loss and regret at the end of romance. Throw in a snarling little guitar solo and an attitude that is somewhere between Lush and Veruca Salt (y’know, ‘I’m gutted that you’re gone but screw you cos I’m way better than that’) and you’ve got another finely crafted indie-pop-rock nugget well worth your time.


Live Dates:

13th August – O2 Academy 2, Islington w/Rawset + Well Dressed Thief + Flawless Carbon

23rd October – Listen With Monger/Blogtoberfest @ The Finsbury, London w/Pattern Pusher + Seaker + Jamie Yost + Rosa Belle [FREE ENTRY]

Monday, 8 August 2016

NOVA TWINS – SINGLE REVIEW

Nova Twins – Hitlist 
Nova Twins - Hitlist


Release Date: Out Now

OK, so I was all ready to slate this. I was going to be all flippant and compare this London duo to Shampoo or t.A.t.U. and all that. And then ‘Hitlist’ drops’ and, well, I don’t mind admitting I felt a bit ashamed. Nova Twins are fierce in pretty much every sense and this track should be played to every girl around the country to show them that if you want a career in music you don’t have to sell your soul to Simon Cowell and be overtly sexual at every opportunity. This tune blends the likes of Rage Against The Machine, Skunk Anansie, ManBreak and doesn’t let go of your throat until the last note rings out. Snarling, swaggering, lip curling and entirely lacking in shits to give about what you think – Nova Twins are almost exactly what the music world needs right now and if they teamed up for a tour with Deux Furieuses then they might will cause a few riots up and down the country and we could do with a few riots this summer.



Live Dates:

12th August – The Green Door Store, Brighton
3rd September – Three Mills Island, London

24th September – Alexandra Palace, London w/Afropunk

SON OF SIMON – ALBUM REVIEW

Son of Simon – Rivers/Pastures 
Son of Simon - Rivers/Pastures


Release Date: Out Now

I don’t get to review as many albums as I’d like, due to time pressures mainly, but I give them all a listen and when I come across one that’s really special, really worth writing home about then I want to make sure you all hear about. This new album by Andy Wilson-Taylor, under the pseudonym Son of Simon, is one such album so pull up a pew and let me tell you all about ‘Rivers/Pastures’. The haunting, wintry tones that open ‘Waltz’ would make you think this was going to be Ludovico Einaudi’s folk album but then Wilson-Taylor smooth, assured vocal joins you know this is something different, something more. ‘Mara’ continues with the intricate, plucked string theme but this time a sultry rhythm and some stadium sized strings take things up a notch on the drama-o-meter to somewhere along the lines of System Of A Down doing the score to a film about the breakdown of a relationship in Ukraine shortly after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Apart from being a song title that you have to type carefully, ‘Shi’ is a Muse-esque album track of a song with deep, rumbling strings slinky and swirling around like a balletic ice-skater but powered along by some fantastically dramatic drumming. As delicate as the notes are on ‘Sisters’ the intention and power behind this tune is just as formidable while ‘Shadow’ is a more straightforward indie ballad in the style of Keane or The Fray with that huge sweeping sound and tear jerking build of emotion. The double tracked vocals of ‘American Girl’ are sublime and by the time the first chorus is done I’m convinced this is a song I’ve known all my life. And that’s the ‘Rivers’ part of the album over – dramatic, ambitious and not without huge melodies.


Son of Simon aka Andy Wilson-Taylor
The ‘Pastures’ half of the album kicks off with the thoroughly Ed Sheeran-esque ‘Before It Turns To Rain’ which has a real feel of ‘Photograph’ about it and would surely be gobbled up by the masses if they got to hear it. The intimate feel of ‘Run Away’ is purely made for that last glass of red wine as the lights of the city go out and the glow of the sun starts to creep in. Wilson-Taylor’s voice is rich and velvety smooth on its own but when doubled up its absorbing and the scattered beat that come and go make this just one of many highlights on this album. Similarly, ‘Colours In The Rain’ is a gorgeous slice of acoustic thoughtfulness that has a hint of Brother & Bones about it but those sumptuous strings elevate it to another level as the lyrics tell their sad tale of loss and regret. On ‘Helpless’ the piano is the instrument of choice but there is no let-up in the beauty and elegance of the music while ‘Moonlight’ goes for a slightly more edgy feel with a hint of the Above & Beyond acoustic material about it which is a very, very good thing. The final (bonus) track is ‘Next To Me’ and the piano rolls like a field of corn in the breeze and the melodies are full of homesickness and longing as they bring a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye.

It’s rare to find an album full of melodies with mainstream appeal which also has the kind of song-writing and musicianship to be considered for critical acclaim as well. Son of Simon might be a pseudonym or nom de plume but I can’t help but feeling this is an intensely personal album for Andy Wilson-Taylor and I, for one, am very grateful that he’s chosen to share it with us. You should be too.


Friday, 5 August 2016

STACEY – SINGLE REVIEW

Stacey – Build Me Up (Buttercup) 
Stacey - Build Me Up (Buttercup)


Release Date: Out Now

Right, we’ve got to be careful here. ‘Build Me Up (Buttercup)’ is a bloody classic song and one that I am fond of belting out in the kitchen, whilst driving or at a wedding. So when Toronto’s Stacey comes to the table with this cover version it makes me somewhat sceptical before I listened to this. Now, fair enough, Stacey has gone for the classic ‘strip it down and make it slow’ approach to cover versions which I’m getting a little bored of these days but this is different. Stacey’s haunting vocal and subversion of the melody makes this a tragic, forlorn love song and a completely different mood to the original. As covers go, this is strikingly original and will be a real Marmite tune for many people but I think Stacey deserves huge credit for putting her enchanting slant on a Motown classic. Brave but the gamble has paid off.



SERIAL CHILLER – SINGLE REVIEW

Serial Chiller – Life’s Rough (Warren Records) 
Serial Chiller - Life's Rough


Release Date: 6th August 2016

So two lads from Hull, Spud and Liam, may be my favourite new band of the year and I’m only half way through this single. This single, ‘Life’s Rough’, is punk, garage, art-rock and scuzz all rolled up in to a ball of energy channelling the spirits of Mark E. Smith, Iggy Pop and pre-Grohl Nirvana. Grungy guitars, swaggering but slurred vocals and primal drums all make for a tune that is hard to ignore no matter what your tastes. Then throw in the kind of lyrics that Franz Ferdinand, the Velvet Underground or the Long Blondes might spit out with utter disdain and you’re getting close. B-side ‘Fuck Right Off’ is a more laid back affair but it’s still a 99mph rampage through edgy guitars, clattering beats and the kind of vocal attack that you might expect from a charming drunk on a Friday afternoon when the sun’s out and the Special Brew is flowing. Raw, edgy and brutally honest – I’m in.


Live Dates:


6th August – Humber Street Sesh

IVORY WAVE – SINGLE REVIEW

Ivory Wave – Paradise 
Ivory Wave - Paradise


Release Date: Out Now

Birmingham boys Ivory Wave are something a little bit different and everyone knows I like things that are a little bit different. New single ‘Ivory Wave’ has a real Happy Mondays vibe about it complete with bizarre samples, baggy guitars and the loosest drums. But, just as with Bez and co., there is a tune here with excellent melodies and a trippy sense that would suit that sunrise moment after an all-night party when you decide to get on it one more time. B-side (bonus point) ‘Young Blood’ is a more acoustic driven affair with more than a hint of Richard Ashcroft about it but there is an unmistakably gang feel to this band; five lads make music together as a way of communicating and maybe as a means of escape. The way it should be.


Live Dates:

19th August – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham

30th September – Sunflower Lounger, Birmingham

Thursday, 4 August 2016

THE SAD SONG CO. – SINGLE REVIEW

The Sad Song Co. – The Legacy of Love 
The Sad Song Co. - Legacy of Love


Release Date: Out Now

No many will remember the Unbelievable Truth (mostly famous for featuring Thom Yorke’s brother) but they released a single called ‘Settle Down’ that is still one of my all-time favourite songs to sing along to. So to receive this new material from ex-Unbelievable Truth member Nigel Powell was pretty exciting to me even though that won’t mean much to anyone else. Such is the curse of those that seek the obscure and unheard. The Sad Song Co. produces that utterly British thing of an epic, sweeping love song done through dour, sombre landscapes and muted tones. ‘The Legacy Of Love’ is a genuinely beautiful song with soft vocal harmonies and gentle guitar notes playing off the thoughtful vocals and shuffled rhythms. However, before this gets too depressing, The Sad Song Co. manage to blend from Simon & Garfunkel introspection in to Elbow-esque triumphalism without you even noticing it happen before your very ears. There is also something strangely comforting about this song, a familiarity that you hadn’t noticed before. Like collapsing exhausted in to a bed you’ve never slept in before but feeling instantly comfortable. This is gorgeous stuff that feeds the soul and nurtures it back to full strength.


UPBEAT SNEAKERS – SINGLE REVIEW

Upbeat Sneakers – Hope & Glory (Foof Records) 
Upbeat Sneakers - Hope & Glory


Release Date: Out Now

Seven lads from Merthyr Tydfil with a penchant for Ska and guitar solos? Oh go on then, I think I squeeze them in. Upbeat Sneakers are an impossibly young bunch of lads with that gang mentality and some horns to boot so brace yourself because ‘Hope & Glory’ kicks in hard from the get-go. Blistering drums, lung busting horns and some seriously catch hooks are all in there and that just describes the first 30 seconds. This is punk-ska in the vein of Reel Big Fish and that whole 90s scene that come over from the US on the back of No Doubt’s success before Gwen Stefani went all weird. Oh, and there’s a B-side too, I love a B-side. ‘Here We Go Again’ is a little lighter in tone with a more indie edge but the guitars are still perky as fuck and those horns weave in and out like a velvet snake gliding through a busy bar. The good folk at Foof Records are getting a reputation for finding future stars and sharing their music with the wider world for free and Upbeat Sneakers are the latest product of that idealist business model. Perfect summer fun.


Live Dates:

19th August – Cyfarthfa Castle w/Madness
27th August – Sunbird Records, Manchester
10th September – Big Cwtch Festival

29th September – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff w/The English Beat

JUNO IM PARK FEAT. HANNAH TRIGWELL – SINGLE REVIEW

Juno Im Park feat. Hannah Trigwell – Never Gonna Give You Up 
Juno Im Park feat. Hannah Trigwell - Never Gonna Give You Up


Release Date: Out Now

The combination of a German electro-pop duo, an internet sensation and a Stock, Aitken and Watermen cover wouldn’t normally fill me with glee, I have to admit, but this is the exception to the rule. Deutschland duo Juno Im Park are straight out of the summertime vibes Rudimental, Years & Years and Klangkarussell book of gentle dance-pop with bouncing beats a juicy little bass line. Now throw in Trigwell’s duskily smooth vocal and some playful synths and you’re on to a winner. But wait, what’s this? This is a cover of one-hit-wonder Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’? It’s surely going to be utterly naff, right? No, it’s not. It’s actually not. There are so many covers these days that are just slowed down piano ballad versions of once great pop songs that it’s nice to hear a cover that retains the energy of the original but gives it a reboot for whatever the hell decade this is that we’re in. Savvy move then, this could be the unexpected hit of the summer.

More information:



Watch The Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKdYNbKkt8o&feature=youtu.be

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

THREE DIMENSIONAL TANX – SINGLE REVIEW

Three Dimensional Tanx – Son of Go 
Three Dimensional Tanx - Son of Go


Release Date: 29th August 2016

112 seconds. That’s all this song takes to start and finish but it’ still better than everything in the charts these days. ‘Son of Go’ kicks in with a circular guitar riff and is soon followed by some Doors-esque organ work and the kind of drumming Keith Moon would have been ripping out in his prime. The psych-garage romp of Lancaster’s Three Dimensional Tanx is infectious and had to ignore when the guitars and organs drop out do reveal a tight, funky rhythm section and the kind of gravelly vocals that you’d be a fool to ignore. Elements of the Madchester sound and obvious throw backs to the pscyh-scene are all to be found here but there’s a very current feel to Three Dimensional Tanx as a certain frustration and edginess breathes through their music as it does through the world this summer.


Live Dates:

20th August – The Golden Lion, Lancaster
2nd September – Venue TBC, Rugby

13th-17th October – Lancaster Music Festival, Lancaster

TWIN PINES – SINGLE REVIEW

Twin Pines – Young Heart (The Enigma Corporation) 
Twin Pines - Young Heart


Release Date: 12th August 2016

Presumably named after the mall in Back To The Future (nice choice if that’s the case), Glasgow trio Twin Pines are ready to make their claim on the pop world with their debut single ‘Young Heart’. I’m instantly taken in by this tune with its bubbling bass line, lightly sprinkled guitars and sweeping, 80s synths that tantalise. There’s a maturity and classiness to this indie-pop number that sees it fall in line with the likes of Maroon 5 and the Killers so it’s no surprise that it’s New York label the Enigma Corporation that has picked these guys up.  The only slight shadow on their thus far unblemished career is some involvement in the soundtrack to the abhorrent Made In Chelsea but we all make mistakes when we’re young, right?


Live Dates:

18th August – In The Mix, Mall Of Asia Arena w/The 1975 + James Bay + Panic! At The Disco + Third Eye Blind + Elle King  

ED HARCOUT – SINGLE REVIEW

Ed Harcout – Furnaces (Polydor) 
Ed Harcourt - Furnaces


Release Date: 19th August 2016

Brooding British indie legend Ed Harcourt is back with an album and single out on the same day. ‘Furnaces’ is the aforementioned single and it’s a horn laden delight of soul stirring proportions. The swaggering guitars and loose drums are just made for festivals and sweeping landscapes or at the very least Jools Holland’s studio. Throw Elbow’s epic soundscapes in to a bag with Jon Spencer’s cool and the sombre soul of Aloe Blacc before soaking it in the darkest red wine and leaving to steep in an old gentleman’s club that reeks of leather and cigar smoke. This is classy stuff and bodes well for the album if the spirit of this tune runs through the forthcoming collection.



Live Dates:


21st September – Village Underground, London