Wednesday, 30 November 2016

SPENCER KILPATRICK – EP REVIEW

Spencer Kilpatrick – Rhonda EP 
Spencer Kilpatrick - Rhonda EP


Release Date: Out Now

Regular readers of this little blog will know that US band Failure Machine have found a special place in my heart and my T-Shirt drawer. Apart from being some of the nicest guys I’ve never met, they are also hugely adept and rocking out with soul which is a rare thing these days. So, being given the opportunity to get an early listen of the new solo material of FM main man Spencer Kilpatrick was too good to pass up. These five tunes are bundled together under the title ‘Rhonda’ and open up with ‘San Jose’, a bluesy, rattling good tune played out on acoustic guitar with some drunken horns in the background as Kilpatrick gives a Big Lebowski style chat up line to an old flame. On ‘Two Long Nights’ the blues are back with a more midnight hour vibe as the whisky smell and smoke seeps through every note and that low horn blows in the corner to give this a New Orleans funereal vibe.

The four count in to ‘Running Back’ is almost reticent as Kilpatrick’s heartbreak is there for everyone to hear with nothing but the rich, rasping, Joe Cocker-esque voice with a deep south twang played out with a simple guitar strum and tambourine tap. ‘Precious, Precious’ is the missing track from the Blues Brothers soundtrack as the rich horns beef out some bottleneck guitar and the woozy stagger home from a late night bar suddenly has a soundtrack. Final track ‘Plastic Jesus’ is a Ray LaMontagne strum played out sat on the ledge of a broken window looking out at lazy trees swaying in time to the chords that could be a modern blues classic given time. The scariest and most impressive thing about this humble EP is that these are songs Kilpatrick wrote in another lifetime before Failure Machine even existed. That means there is more, so much more, still to come and I can’t wait for it.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/failuremachine/?fref=ts

TOM PRIOR – SINGLE REVIEW

Tom Prior – Don’t Worry 
Tom Prior - Don't Worry



Release Date: Out Now

One thing I like about a lot of emerging artists these days is their willingness to see past genres or pigeon holes when it comes to choosing their influences. Enfield lad Tom Prior is no different as he cites the Kinks, Coldplay and Kanye West among the artists that have inspired him. Prior’s new single, ‘Don’t Worry’, is a mix of influences and experiences that create a tender, Ed Sheeran-esque tune that is delivered like a Cockney Eminem before the chorus shows off the singer’s more soulful tones. Melodically this is simple and honest stuff with real heart and the ability to pull at the heart strings so when you start to listen to the lyrics that tell of a father’s guilt of not being around for his kid, well, there must be something in my eye. I really like this tune but I don’t think this will be the one to break Tom Prior in to the mainstream – he’s not far off though and this will be a useful tune to have in his arsenal for showing off his more tender side.



Live Dates:


30th November – Sebright Arms, London

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

BARRICADES – DEMO REVIEW

Barricades – Demo 
Barricades - Demo


Release Date: Out Now

Time for three fresh tracks from two lads making one whole lotta racket. London based duo Barricades (great name by the way) are a no-nonsense garage-punk outfit and opening track ‘England’s Eyes’ hits you straight between the eyes like walking through the wrong door in the pub and finding yourself in the middle of a UKIP rally. Fierce, piercing guitars are met with crashing drums and it’s all referred by a punk yelp that reminds me of Cassels or early Subways, especially when they ask “Are you fucking high?”.

‘Pipe Down’ is no less visceral but there’s more of a post-punk effort going on here with elements of At The Drive-In and Pixies sneaking in to the snarling, meandering guitars and flailing drums before a Lou Reed-esque drawl creeps in – I just read that back; Pixies, At The Drive-In and Lou Reed referenced in one song ain’t bad is it? The final track on this collection ‘Know, See, Want, Need’ find Nick and Jordan in swaggering mood and this, for me, is the highlight track here as the duo step in the sliver in the Venn diagram between Royal Blood and the Black Keys for a blues fuelled jam that gets the juices flowing with its choppy guitars and rolling drums that sound like a four-minute solo. Two men, three tunes and one hell of an exciting prospect – these guys are right at the beginning, somebody pick ‘em up, quick.


Monday, 28 November 2016

IZZY FLYNN – SINGLE REVIEW

Izzy Flynn – Faith 
Izzy Flynn - Faith


Release Date: Out Now

Now, I know what you’re thinking and, no, this is not a cover of the George Michael classic. No, instead, this consummate musician is stepping out from the backing bands and the shadows to make a name for herself and ‘Faith’ is a hell of a way in. Izzy Flynn’s vocals have that slightly cracked beauty that worked so well for Portishead or Everything but The Girl but there’s an added elegance here as her voice floats and weaves like a humming bird rising up above the dark storm below. The electronic melodies and pulsing beats layer up to create the kind of classy climax that La Roux used to employ and you know that you’re listening to a special talent. I expect Flynn has a couple of extra gears to move through in terms of energy but this is a darkly classy electro ballad with a beautiful video to match. Well played Ms Flynn.



MICHELLE O FAITH – SINGLE REVIEW

Michelle O Faith – Lemonade 
Michelle O Faith - Lemonade


Release Date: Out Now

Well, here’s a striking talent making a late bid for a place in the 2016 record books. The singers new single, ‘Lemonade’, and its stunning accompanying video are things of beauty from the get go. The skittish, tribal beats and almost Gregorian chant that forms all there is of a melody are stop-you-in-your-tracks beautiful while our heroines voice is somewhere between rap and opera but with pitch and poise perfect delivery. “Can’t make Lemonade out of this, you left me only pips and I choke cos you’re with her, with her, with her and I’m bitter, bitter, bitter” she sings utterly uniquely as the very real pain of a breakup comes across with a very real rawness. The only comparison I can draw to any other artist in both audio and visual style is Kate Bush, Michelle O Faith is simply that big a talent.


Watch The Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD9G9TUObgk

Sunday, 27 November 2016

NATIVES – SINGLE REVIEW

Natives – Passion 
Natives - Passion


Release Date: Out Now

I may have said this before but anyone describing themselves as a tribal pop band from the New Forest would normally need a slap and good hard think about what they’d done. Natives, however, manage to swerve such retribution as new single ‘Passion’ is a joyful slice of indie-pop sprinkled with the kind of perky energy that Coldplay and Years & Years have employed so successfully in recent times. Melodically, this about as uplifting as things can get with layers of synths stacked up on top of a beat that should be prescribed on the NHS for anyone having a tough time. This is a song designed for the happy ending of the next Richard Curtis film as friends overcome adversity and differences to triumph on a work away weekend in the New Forest…..oh bollocks.


Live Dates:

28th November – Joiners, Southampton

29th November – Borderline, London w/Farro 

W.H. LUNG – SINGLE REVIEW

W.H. Lung – Inspiration (Hed Glo Inc.) 
W.H. Lung - Inspiration


Release Dates: Out Now

It is bold, to say the least, to begin one’s career with a near eight-minute psych-meander accompanied by some artwork depicting a yellow double decker bus that looks like a prop from a Chuckle Brothers episode. Some would say fool-hardy but I’m sticking with bold. Nevertheless, Manchester trio W.H. Lung are introduction themselves to polite society with seven minutes and forty-two seconds ‘Inspiration’ which is quite something. Building from a throbbing base, a disco beat soon gets things moving but the anticipation is only pricked at around the minute mark as swagger guitars join in. Then the Django Django meets Mark E. Smith vocals make things a little more ‘arty’ and you start to picture the sweat dripping from the walls of an underground Mancunian nightclub as these three jerk and reel about the stage. Manc classics like Joy Division and the Stone Roses seep out through the weaving guitars and erratic vocals mixed in with urgent, unrelenting drums. This is definitely bold, I’m standing by that statement, but I would also say this bold move is entirely justified by an electrifying debut.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/whlungmusic

Friday, 25 November 2016

GALLOWS GHOST – SINGLE REVIEW

Gallows Ghost – Lick Your Wounds 
Gallows Ghost - Lick Your Wounds


Release Date: 30th November 2016

London eccentrics Gallows Ghost have a single out by the name of ‘Lick Your Wounds’ and it’s a little bit special. A loose beat and a growling bass open things up before the velvety, sultry tones of singe Kate Young seep in through the cracks in the floorboards and the walls like an insidious smoke. Comparisons with Florence + The Machine, Tori Amos or PJ Harvey are inevitable but there’s also a dance edge here which is more akin to Above & Beyond, Bjork or Moloko in their pomp. Gallows Ghost are one of those acts that are ready made to be huge on both the commercial and critical stages just as soon as they get a single that gets enough attention – this could just be that single.


Live Dates:


30th November – Video Launch @ The Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton

YES BABEZ! – SINGLE REVIEW

Yes Babez! – Round Around 
Yez Babez! - Round Around


Release Date: Out Now

The perky London pair Yes Babez! are back with their exclamation mark and their ability to write infectiously upbeat pop tunes. ‘Round Around’ is a wonderfully country infused little number with a little bit of banjo and rattling hobo drums classing with a pop beat and the saccharine sweet twin vocals of Mick and Lily. There’s a hand clap breakdown and the kind of lyrics that 12 year olds can learn because of the catchy melody. Now, the only problem I have with this song is that if Olly Murs or some other X Factor muppet was singing this with a manic grin and a trilby I’d probably hate it but coming from these guys I kinda like it. Why is that a problem? Because that makes me feel like a bit of a snob but I don’t care, I just don’t like Olly Murs.


SAINT AGNES – SINGLE REVIEW

Saint Agnes – Merry Mother of God Go Round (Death or Glory Gang Records) 
Saint Agnes - Merry Mother of God Go Round


Release Date: 8th December 2016

London leather clad rockers Saint Agnes have been building up a steady stream of excellent rock’n’roll singles and ‘Merry Mother of God Go Round’ is the latest which is just as fine as all the others. A squall of dirty (nay, filthy) guitars come rolling in like Royal Blood being egged on by Jon Spencer and sewn together with a distorted harmonica that sounds like sex would sound if it had a voice. The twin, male vs female vocal is both aggressive and laced with sexual energy but then there is the mellower mid-section that lulls you back in to the bedroom before your body is slammed up against the wall in a way that is both exciting and terrifying. The ending to this song is as brutal and heavy as anything I’ve heard this year but damn it’s good. So very good.


Live Dates:


8th December – Oslo, Hackney w/ Electric Child House

Thursday, 24 November 2016

ANGIE – SINGLE REVIEW

Angie – Housewife Spliffin’
Angie - Housewife Spliffin'


Release Date: Out Now

Sweden’s queen of moral outrage Angie is back with another fantastic slice of blissed out chill pop that surprisingly has the tabloids queuing up to praise her. I say surprisingly because ‘Housewife Spliffin’’ is essentially a song about hanging around the house all day smoking weed and maybe squeezing in the odd half arsed chore. The darkly beautiful star sings a lazy chorus atop a bare beat and some sparse keys, “Oh bae, I call it housewife spliffin’, just without a man and no housework mission”. The brilliance here is not only that Angie has created a supremely catchy pop tune from the most meagre of instrumentation but also that she doesn’t even seem to be trying that hard. If she can write a song this good with a few ‘do do dos’ and high as a kite, then 2017 might just want to watch the hell out.



PIP HALL – SINGLE REVIEW

Pip Hall – Devil You Don’t (My Little Empire Records) 
Pip Hall - Devil You Don't


Release Date: Out Now

Kids, eh? Hanging around on their own, absorbed in their smart phones and disengaged with the world. Terrible. Except that’s not true, is it? There is a constant flow of talent young musicians coming my way at the moment and the latest is Pip Hall, an extremely hotly tipped 16-year-old from Preston. New single ‘Devil You Don’t’ is a slow burner to begin with as a low synth rumble creeps in from the horizon before Hall’s soft, smoky vocals drift in breathily a beat kicks in. We’re in Lady Hawke meets Kimbra meets Lorde meets Seaker territory here but with some scuzzy guitars thrown in and the kind of energy that would get you out of bed at sunrise with a determined smile. There’s a maturity far beyond her meagre years here and the kind of potential that gets a lot of people very excited and for good reason. More in 2017 for sure, assuming she’s got her GCSEs sorted.


JUNKYARD CHOIR – SINGLE REVIEW

Junkyard Choir – Blue Moonshine Lady 
Junkyard Choir - Blue Moonshine Lady


Release Dates: Out Now

Brighton duo Junkyard Choir are neither a choir nor do they live in a junk yard but they sure can rock and they sure can wear a flannel shirt with a hint of beard. New single ‘Blue Moonshine Lady’ is a bluesy, country inspired romp that grew up on the same swamp as Bruce Springsteen and Grinderman with its accomplished but gritty swagger and gravelly vocals. For two guys they make a hell of a racket and the gloriousness of their near gospel sound is only topped by a music video that features some moments of dogs-eye-view footage and finishes up with a bearded man on a porch with a huge cigar and a bottle of jack. This is one for the good times.



Wednesday, 23 November 2016

STEALTH – SINGLE REVIEW

Stealth – Blame 
Stealth - Blame


Release Date: Out Now

Brummie bluesman Stealth is a fine talent indeed, a fine talent. Stealth’s new single, ‘Blame’, might only be 155 seconds long but the slow pace of it makes it feel as though it stretches out for miles and miles. The blissed out guitars sprinkle and sparkle with a wild west laziness but it’s Stealth’s country-blues twang get gives this song its dark edges and gut wrenching sadness. Scatter in some piano notes and the barest of beats and you’ll have a bleak soup that speaks directly from a broken heart and a soul struggling to reconcile the past with the future. Wrap yourself up in this one and give it a few listens, you won’t be sorry.



Tuesday, 22 November 2016

IDLEWAR – SINGLE REVIEW

Idlewar – Glory (PHD) 
Idlewar - Glory


Release Date: Out Now

Hard rocking Californians Idlewar are heading to the UK armed with some songs and hell bent on having a good time. The aptly named ‘Glory’ has a slow start before the meatiest of guitars come crashing in with an ominous sense of relentlessness. Part ZZ Top and part Rage Against The Machine in both sound and looks, Idlewar do what they do because they can and I, for one, am glad they do it so well. The bass is in the driving seat, grinding through the dusty valleys in a battered pick-up but those guitars and drums are pure Foo Fighters in their early rawness. Mighty, meaty and glorious – get out and see them if you can.



Live Dates:

24th November – Brickmakers Arms, Norwich
25th November – The Corporation, Sheffield
26th November – The Black Heart, London (sold out)
28th November – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
29th November – The Cluny, Newcastle
30th November – Bannermans, Edinburgh
1st December – Rebellion, Manchester

3rd December – Planet Rock Stock (sold out)

THE LAD CLASSIC – SINGLE REVIEW

The Lad Classic – Are You With Me (Our Audio Kin) 
The Lad Classic - Are You With Me


Release Date: Out Now

Normally, I wouldn’t watch a video before I’d heard the tune in isolation but I did in this case and, for some reason, it didn’t help. I’ve got nothing against the four guys in Canadian outfit The Lad Classic but something in the video seemed to lack energy which didn’t really go with the song. You see, ‘Are You With Me’ is a dyed in the wool slab of rock with big riffs and a pumping rhythm so it needed something more powerful to visually accompany it. Taking their lead from rock legends like Audioslave, Guns’n’Roses and Reef, The Lad Classic are sexy rockers with the chops to back it up so if you want a tune to do some high speed cruising too then look no further. Maybe that’s it – not enough gasoline in a video for a song that drives so damn hard.



Monday, 21 November 2016

BERRIES – EP REVIEW

Berries – Those Funny Things 
Berries - Those Funny Things EP


Release Date: Out Now

2016 has been accepted by most as a universally shit year. Sure, I feel sorry for those that have had weddings, given birth to beautiful children or been given the job of their dreams but 2016 has been a year that the majority would gladly wipe from the history books. Normally, I’d agree with this point but in wiping that slate clean you would take with it the good things, the glimmers, the shining needles in a hay stack of steaming horse dung. London trio Berries are one such glimmer for me this year and if they’re not on your radar yet then you need to pull your head out of arse and get listening. Get listening good.

This six track EP is the culmination of a busy year for the three London ladies as they have relentlessly carved out a niche as one of the hardest rocking but melodious bands around – regardless of gender. Kicking off with ‘Siren’, replete with its hypnotically spiralling riff and rolling bass, and that clear vocal chimes out like Breeders or Veruca Salt sneering out from behind their guitars but with an English accent. ‘Waiting’ is a little more introspective but those guitars ripple and sway with confidence until the bass and drums give this one a nudge over the edge in the chorus and things start to hot up. Berries have a delicious darkness to them on songs like ‘Never Smiled Once’ as the guitars shudder and grind, always keeping things tight in the rhythm section.

Mixed in with the song writing, musicianship and sheer originality, there’s a rawness that is endearing but I think it’s only a matter of time until they get a crack at some proper production in a proper studio and that’s going to be hugely intriguing when it happens (when, not if). Title track ‘Those Funny Things’ is the most indie track on the album that has tones of Britpop about it with the angular guitars reminiscent of Elastica and Sued at their best. On ‘Lights’ the guitar sound is inspired by really early U2 and the thin, strained notes have that fantastic punk meets stadium rock feel about it. The EP closes up with ‘Written In Paint’, the trios most accomplished song as the guitars emerge from the swamp accompanied by a bass rumble and driving drums that are pure Biffy Clyro but with that pop-rock vocal making this jagged little pill much easier to swallow. Berries are not the finished article yet but they’ve got all the important things in place, the rest is just polish and I get the feeling that 2017 is going to be the year in which these three start to shine.


Live Dates:


30th November – Tooting Tram & Social, London w/Signals + Faux + Atiptoe (FREE ENTRY)

THE WINACHI TRIBE – SINGLE REVIEW

The Winachi Tribe – A Room With A Zoo 
The Winachi Tribe - A Room With A Zoo


Release Date: 18th November 2016

Northwest collective The Winachi Tribe have opted for a short film to accompany this latest single release and have bagged themselves a little bit of a star in Tommy Flanagan of Peaky Blinders/Sons of Anarchy fame just for the hell of it. Now, I’m not here to review videos but I will just say that there’s a Wild West meets Tarantino vibe going on which is never a bad thing is it? ‘A Room With A Zoo’, however, is a more LCD Soundsystem meets Electronic kind of trip with electronic pings and pongs bouncing around while a smooth bass rolls around in the background. The disco-cum-rap vocals are like Hot Chip giving Ian Brown some pointers in the back of the club while the drinks flow and the children’s ‘choir’ fits perfectly with the innocent instrumentation. This is an epic release with different elements, twisting paths and spiralling twists of smoke working their way through your consciousness.


Watch The Video: https://vimeo.com/189475366

Live Dates:


6th December – Live In Session @ Glyndwr TV, Wrexham

Thursday, 17 November 2016

MARK DALY – SINGLE REVIEW

Mark Daly – The Hearts Reminder
Mark Daly - The Hearts Reminder


Release Date: Out Now

Mark Daly is a singer-songwriter from the fair city of Cork and his new single, ‘The Hearts Reminder’, is quite the slinky little number. The slow piano notes and simple guitar strum wouldn’t turn many heads on their own but Daly’s voice has that gravelly tone that Joe Cocker and Chris Cornell use so well which makes this a for more soulful number. With an impassioned crescendo and a video with a story this is a slick piece of soul-rock that would do well on the US networks I would think and they’d probably accept his hair too but it’s a little too Nickleback for my liking.



Live Dates:
19th December – O2 Islington Academy, London
20th December – Waterfront, Norwich
21st December – Cat House, Glasgow
22nd December – Voodoo, Dublin

23rd December – Empire, Belfast

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

QUEEN OF JEANS – SINGLE REVIEW

Queen of Jeans – Moody (Super Fan 99/Third Uncle) 
Queen of Jeans - Moody


Release Date: Out Now

Philly cheese babes* Queen of Jeans are back with a new single and a top new video both with the title ‘Moody’ – suspicious, non? From the lazily strummed guitars that open proceedings to the Tennis meets Warpaint vocals, this is a beach house, sun drenched tune that wakes up in the dunes with an empty bottle of Jack and only the vaguest of memories. Stylistically, the video and the music could feature as a DVD extra on Gentleman Broncos II – the Beach trip but be warned this is not motivational music. But wait, what’s this? A rousing military snare beat and some optimistic gives this song just enough energy to pull it’s dishevelled body from the dunes and head back to the hut for a shower, some bacon and a full bottle of Jack.
*sorry for the misogyny.


Live Dates:

25th November – John & Peter’s, New Hope
30th November – Mercury Lounge, New York

THE WATANABES – EP REVIEW

The Watanabes – Spoiled & Nostalgic 
The Watanabes - Spoiled & Nostalgic


Release Date: 25th November 2016

For a huge part of my life I used to listen to obscure artists that I had heard on late night radio and had that ironically lonely thought that I would be the only one listening. Some of those moments, listening on headphones in the dead of night, felt highly intimate and life affirming at times. The reason I mention all this is that The Watanabes fight beautifully in to that category for me with their gentle but precise folk infused indie. This latest EP from the Japan based quartet is a thing of subtle beauty that could soothe the weariest of souls at their lowest ebb.

‘Over Romantic’ gets things going with a song with a gentle acoustic strum with a country twang and some intimate vocals and a real sense of late night soul searching. This is the song for that moment – maybe a second, maybe an hour, maybe a day – when you realise that the relationship you’ve been mourning is well and truly over. Building like a Teenage Fan Club indie romp or a David Kitt folk ramble this song has a tear-jerking lilt to it which puts its arm around you and whispers “let it all out, mate”. On ‘Tonight’, the band get in to late night jam mode with picked guitar swirling like smoke circles and some organ rippling like whisky rolling over ice cubes and settling in to the glass. Bliss.

The song that got me thinking about my musical youth is ‘An Insult to the Present’, a song that looks back to bygone times but then shakes its head, puffs out its cheeks and just, well, just gets on with the here and now. Those delicate, soft pop vocals dance on the breeze created by the simple picked acoustic line and piano notes that suggest this could easily be turned in to a dance track of an uplifting nature. The EP closes off with ‘Hummingbird’ and the sweetness and purity of this band shines through to envelope your soul and send you on your way with a song in your heart – “You can open up your window, let the sunshine smother you”. You can almost smell the cherry blossom, can’t you? I’ll say it again, bliss. Sheer bliss.



Download Here:

Live Dates:
23rd November – What The Dickens!, Ebisu (Acoustic)
10th December – Hot Buttered Club, Shibuya
18th December – Christmas Art Party @ Bauhaus, Roppongi
24th December – What The Dickens!, Ebisu 

Monday, 14 November 2016

MR B THE GENTLEMAN RHYMER – ALBUM REVIEW

Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer – There’s A Rumpus Going On 
Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer -
There's a Rumpus Going On


Release Date: Out Now

For the last week or so I’ve been waiting for this album to come my way, I just didn’t know it. With the world in a downward spiral at the end of a truly horrible annus I was searching for something to lift the spirits, something to defug my existence and along came this little beauty. For those that aren’t already acquainted with Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer you’re in for a real treat – just imagine Terry Thomas blending Hip-Hop, Bigbeat and the Banjo and you’re only half-way there.

Opening with some swirling, slightly disorientating electro squelches, Mr B samples the white noise of politicians expertly not answering questions and introduces the album on the aptly named ‘There’s A Rumpus Going On’ which taps in to a general feeling of disgruntlement and miffedness. Or chap hero hits his stride on track 2, however, as the lengthily titled ‘So Many Reggie Perrins in the Arse End of Space’ gets the Banjo working full effect and makes a thoroughly danceable tune out of the lyrical matter of the world being full of suicidal middle managers. ‘No Character to Clear’ speaks to that common modern disease of worrying too much about enjoying life rather than actually just getting on with living. It is, however, the genius of ‘Hitler Gifs’ that shows off the sheer brilliance of a chap such as Mr B. Wonky piano, the sound FX from an early arcade game and a shuffled beat create a bed for our hero to rap, in the Queen’s English, about his preference for ignoring tendencies towards rage and taking time to absorb hilarious GIFs of Adolf Hitler. Mental but brilliant.

Mr B - Pantaloonie
Musically, ‘Ollie and Stan’ is probably my favourite track on the album as it brings back memories of Bentley Rhythm Ace and Lemon Jelly at their best while we hear of Mr B’s love for Laurel and Hardy. Meanwhile, ‘Sell Drugs in The Proper Manner’ is a two-minute comedic blast at the establishment who police the selling and consumption of drugs which causes the death of customer service. The piece de rĂ©sistance sits in the middle as we hear ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ sampled as a lead in to rant at Kanye West played out via a conversation with West’s parents with Mr B taking the part of a disgruntled Head Teacher. The utter joyous romp of ‘National Trust’ is an ode to Britain’s network of country estates while ‘Still Can’t Play the Trombone’ lets us all know that we are all great at something, even if that isn’t playing a brass instrument. The kid’s TV theme inspired ‘Last of the Unknown International Flâneurs’ extols the virtues of sauntering through the world’s great cities delivered through a clipped English twang and a sense of reverie.

‘The Happy Song’ and ‘Boredom’ do what they say on the tin set to the jauntiest of big beat Banjo romps and ‘The Secret Ingredient’ is a woozy summery Banjo lead romp that steers this album towards its ultimate inevitable conclusion. ‘Youth, Truth, Gin and Vermouth’ is a nostalgic look back at life from a man who’s created, lived life and enjoyed the full range of experiences and taken note of them all in readiness for such a song. It’s hard to sum up an album as timely and welcome as this but in an era of soundbites, brevity and simply not thinking things through (I’m looking at you Brexiteers and Trumpites) it is a real (gin and) tonic to listen to a collection of fourteen songs chock full of wit, wisdom and articulacy. Edutainment in its purest form, then.


Live Dates:

18th November – Madness House of Fun Weekender, Minehead w/Madness
1st December – Junction, Cambridge
2nd December – Milton Keynes
9th December – The Islington, London
10th December – Old Joint Stock, Birmingham
13th December – Moth Club, Hackney
17th December – Cluny 2, Newcastle
18th December – Gulliver’s, Manchester

23rd December – The Venue, Torquay

Friday, 11 November 2016

NATALIE BOULOUDIS – SINGLE REVIEW

Natalie Bouloudis – Burning Pier 
Natalie Bouloudis - Burning Pier


Release Date: Out Now

East Sussex native Natalie Bouloudis sounds like she should be singing from the mist enshrined porch of a Louisiana shack but instead us Brits are lucky to have us on our shores…. for now. Bouloudis’ new single, ‘Burning Pier’, is pitched somewhere between Morcheeba, the Indigo Girls and an acoustic version of Sneaker Pimps as the Jazz infused soul breathes out from each note and tap of a cymbal. Bouloudis has the kind of voice you could listen to reading out a transcript of a Conservative party political broadcast and it would still sound stirring and alluring in equal measure. A true vocal talent and one to mark down on your ‘must check out live in 2017’ list.



KING NO-ONE – SINGLE REVIEW

King No-One – Alcatraz 
King No-One - Alcatraz


Release Dates: Out Now

Yorkshire lads King No-one have made the bold move to go on tour in December following the release of this single, ‘Alcatraz’. One can only assume that they’re either super organised and have done their shopping early or they’ll be doing it all online from the back of the van. The real gift, however, is this single as it’s perky, twitchy and funky tones speak directly to your dancing bones and your boogie feet. But this isn’t empty, vacuous dance music, oh no. King No-One sing of heartbreak, sure, but lyrically this is more engaging than most indie-pop singles as the Everything Everything meets Delphic in and 80s disco vibe pleased “set me free, my heart’s in Alcatraz”. Never before has the phrase ‘down here for dancing, up here for thinking’ been so appropriate.


Live Dates:

28th November – Fruit, Hull
6th December – Bodega, Nottingham
7th December – Sound Control, Manchester
8th December – Exchange, Bristol
9th December – Boston Music Rooms, London
13th December – Mama Roux’s, Birmingham
14th December – King Tuts, Glasgow
15th December – Wardrobe, Leeds

16th December – Fibbers, York

MOWBECK – SINGLE REVIEW

Mowbeck – Vaseline 
Mowbeck - Vaseline


Release Date: Out Now

Regular readers will know I don’t go much for genres but Nottingham lads Mowbeck have come up with the term Gritpop to describe their music and I kinda like that…but is it accurate? Latest single ‘Vaseline’ is certainly dark as the haunting keyboard notes and shadowy vocal bleed in from the corners. The quartet have developed a sound that is part alt-pop and part bleak-indie which works so well as they occupy the space that is more accessible than the National, more edgy and damaged than Bastille and more authentic then pretty much every artist occupying a place in the top 40 at the moment. This might be dressed up in a slick black suit with perfectly fitting Raybans but this song comes from a raw emotion bubbling deep inside and that comes out in the music as well as the excellent video. A real contender of a song but also a band surely set to do something pretty big in 2017.



Live Dates:

19th November – The Bodega, Nottingham
23rd November – Nambucca, London
13th December – Cookie, Leicester

21st December – Asylum 2, Birmingham w/Tigress

Thursday, 10 November 2016

KULA SHAKER – ALBUM REVIEW

Kula Shaker – K – 20th Anniversary Edition (BMG) 
Kula Shaker - K


Release Date: Out Now

It is human nature, at times of great sorry, despair or stress, to look back to better times when the world held more hope and social media meant sharing your copy of Melody Maker with the kid next to you on the bus. It’s fitting, then, that this 20th Anniversary Edition of Kula Shaker’s legendary ‘K’ should land on my door mat at just the time I needed it most. Let’s face it, when you’ve had a shitty day/week/month/year what you really need is for an old friend to turn up in a beaten up Mercedes and take you on a road trip with some good tunes and a bag of hash.

For those of you unacquainted with ‘K’, it was a debut released during the peak of Britpop that stood in direct opposition to the lad culture of the time with themes of Indian mysticism and English legend played out to a soundtrack of 60s guitars and urban hedonism. The opening strains of ‘Hey Dude’ are instantly recognisable as the soundtrack to the summer of ’96 as much as any Blur or Oasis number. The slow burn introduction to the classic ‘Govinda’, complete with peacocks, sitars and tabla, still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – especially when Paul Winterhart’s loose drums come pounding in and the guitar kicks in.

Modern nostalgia is a funny thing that I’m usually suspicious of but being reminded of tunes like ‘Tattva’, ‘Grateful When You’re Dead/Jerry Was There’ and the road trip anthem of ‘303’ makes me feel like a teenager again and that is no bad thing right now. The other point to note is this; you can say what you like about Kula Shaker and their appropriation of other cultures or misguided use of the swastika in its original form but you can’t deny that they had honed their craft, played bloody good tunes and too the spirit of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper to a new logical conclusion. I’m off to vote for Blair, drink some Hooch and buy shares in Myspace……


Live Dates:

1st December – O2 Academy, Oxford
2nd December – O2 Academy, Bournemouth
3rd December – Rock City, Nottingham
5th December – UEA, Norwich
6th December – G Live, Guildford
8th December – O2  Forum, London
9th December – O2 Forum, London
10th December – Albert Hall, Manchester
12th December – Institute, Birmingham
13th December – O2 Academy, Bristol
14th December – O2 Academy, Liverpool

16th December – O2 Academy, Newcastle

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

MOLLY WARBURTON – SINGLE REVIEW

Molly Warburton – The Way It Is 
Molly Warburton - The Way It Is


Release Date: 25th November 2016

“That’s just the way it is; some things will never change”. One of the most iconic lines of lyrics from down the years of pop music made famous by the unassuming Bruce Hornsby. Now, ‘The Way It Is’ has been reworked by the similarly unassuming but talented Lancastrian, Molly Warburton. As soon as those famous soft key notes ring out and a smooth bass gives things a bit of soul, you know where you are. Warburton’s voice chimes with a little delay and it’s haunting in a very modern way as she uses old words to warn a modern generation of the dangers of apathy and inaction. There is a propensity these days for covering a song with minimal instrumentation and it’s starting to get a little old but I think Molly Warburton’s treatment of this 80s classic just gets through under the wire – partly down to timing and the fact that this could soundtrack an anti-Trump montage for the American liberals.


Live Dates:

18th November – The Gallery @ The Dukes, Lancaster
24th November – The Asahi Back Room, Guildford

8th December – Dublin Castle, London

HOTEI + IGGY POP – SINGLE REVIEW

Hotei + Iggy Pop – Walking Through The Night (Universal Records/Spinefarm Records) 
Hotei + Iggy Pop - Walking Through The Night


Release Date: Out Now

I do like uncovering hardly heard of new artists and introducing them to you, dear reader/listener, but I can’t claim any credit for this pair. Iggy Pop sits astride the western musical world like a semi-naked Greek God while Hotei is held in the highest regard in Japan where he is a superstar of stadium sized proportions. So, when East meets West, what do we get? We get ‘Walking Through The Night’, that’s what. As singles go this is a bit of a modern take on a Blues stomp with an oriental element behind the guitar riff. Pop’s voice is low and mean in the way only he can do while Hotei’s guitar growls and grunts like a warrior waiting to go in to battle. There is something subconscious and darkly disturbing about this tune but it is similarly almost impossible to resist as our many of darkest urges.


Watch The Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mvSkNstigU&feature=youtu.be

WHOOP-SZO – SINGLE REVIEW

WHOOP-Szo – Another Show 
WHOOP-Szo - Another Show


Release Date: Out Now

Canadian collective WHOOP-Szo come around from time to time and send me a piece of delicate indie to soothe my soul from their frosty outpost. ‘Another Show’ combines a plethora of instruments and the spirit of the likes of Teenage Fanclub, Lemonheads and Arcade Fire to build to a chorus line of “rock and roll, when you gonna soothe my soul?”. Everything about this band is borne from a genuine love for music and wanting to use that love and that music to share a message with as wide an audience as possible. On a day like today when hatred and anger seems to have won the day in America it seems only fitting that a group of Canadian musicians north of the border (soon to be wall?) should be the ones to calm my rage and bring me back to reality with a gentle arm round the shoulder and a tune that says “it’s OK, we’re going to be alright”.



Monday, 7 November 2016

SHINERS – SINGLE REVIEW

Shiners – Goosebumps 
Shiners - Goosebumps


Release Date: 2nd December 2016

London lads Shiners have a visual likeness to a young Blur on first look but on hearing new single ‘Goosebumps’ the similarity is confirmed. From the louche basslines to the perky drums and synth stabs, this is classic pre-Parklife Blur and it’s a lot of fun, even when the chorus skirts alarmingly close to Hard-Fi. The video is a confusing blend of a bit of bukake snuff and a Trump party political broadcast but if that chorus melody doesn’t stick in your head after all 2 minutes and 47 seconds of this pop-punk nugget then you’re likely to be tone deaf.



CHILDCARE – SINGLE REVIEW

Childcare – Film Club (Lost in the Manor Records) 
Childcare - Film Club


Release Date: 18th November 2016

Presumably this London crew chose their name because they like being criminally underpaid and hounded by Ofsted for no good reason while singing about bears and making seasonal greetings cards out of painted twigs. In their spare time, though, Childcare have managed to knock out a single in the shape of ‘Film Club’ and it’s, well, it’s infectious indie-pop with the energy of a slightly dark spirited 10-year-old with too much Relentless and access to a record collection beyond its years. The guitars are pure Django Django but then there’s Dutch Uncles in the time signatures, Franz Ferdinand in the slick pop ethic and Everything Everything in the futuristic euphoria of the song writing. It might be November but this is a late contender for single of the year and it’s a safe bet that 2017 will be a big year for this lot once they get done with their support slot on the Bastille arena tour. Superb stuff.



Live Dates:

12th November – SSE Hydro, Glasgow w/Bastille
13th November – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle w/Bastille

28th November – ‘Film Club’ launch show @ The Waiting Room, London

DUA LIPA – SINGLE REVIEW

Dua Lipa – Room For 2 
Dua Lipa - Room For 2


Release Date: Out Now

Dua Lipa’s Facebook professes that she is from London but her music is already straddling the Atlantic and her sound is on the very cusp of world domination when her hotly anticipated debut album drops in February next year. As a little pre-Christmas teaser never goes amiss though, so ‘Room For 2’ comes along to give you a tasty little treat. The nearly whispered vocal that introduces this single suggests we’re in for an intimate experience, which is no bad thing, but then Dua Lipa’s strength comes through in the verse to provide this song with the perfect ying and yang. The instrumentation is sparse as a bass note pulses and some shuffling percussion keeps things moving but it’s that vocal power layered up like sonic lasagne that makes this so delicious. There will be more instant songs on the albums but if you’re after a smoky number to get your slow jams on to then look or listen no further.



Live Dates:

7th November – The Fillmore Detroit, Detroit
8th November – Sound Academy, Toronto
10th November – Metropolis, Montreal
12th November – Agganis Arena, Boston
14th November – Terminal 5, New York
15th November – Terminal 5, New York
17th November – Venue tbc, Washington DC
18th November – The Tabernacle, Atlanta

2nd December – O2 Birmingham Academy, Birmingham

DMA’S – SINGLE REVIEW

DMA’s – Believe 
DMA's - Believe


Release Date: Out Now

If you’re looking for the most unlikely match up of the year, then you should certainly take a seat and check this bad boy out. For those of you that haven’t come across DMA’s yet, the Aussie trio are not what you’d describe as pop princesses, largely because they are three guys who like to wear baseball cap, trackie bottoms and Burberry shirts. So, when they break out their acoustic rendition of Cher’s ‘Believe’ you have to tip your Kappa hat to them and chide yourself for judging this particular book by its cover. If you’d never heard this before, you could be easily forgiven for thinking this was a Noel Gallagher penned anthem being strummed out by the Coral, ready to be used in the heartbreak montage of a British rom-com. Speaking as a man who once found the Greatest Hits of Cher stuck in the CD player of a used car he bought, I can honestly say this is the best Cher has ever sounded (and the best she’s looked for quite a few years too).



Live Dates:

7th November – De Helling, Utrecht
8th November – Effenaar Kleine Zaal, Eindhoven
9th November – Maassilo, Rotterdam
10th November – La Boule Noire, Paris
12th November – Astoria, Turin
13th November – Circolo Arci Magnolia, Milan
14th November – Locomotiv Club, Bologna
16th November – Venue tbc, San Sebastian
17th November – Moby Dick Club, Madrid
3rd December – Spilt Milk Festival, Canberra
28th December – The Falls Music & Arts Festival, Lorna/Marion Bay
30th January – Laneway Festival, Auckland

17th February – Mountain Sounds Festival 2017

Thursday, 3 November 2016

SAINT SISTER – SINGLE REVIEW

Saint Sister – Tin Man (Communion Singles Club) 
Saint Sister - Tin Man


Release Date: Out Now (Digital)/16th December 2016 (Vinyl)

Gemma and Morgan, for they are Saint Sister, hail from the emerald isle and make the kind of music that crosses boundaries, eras, genres and fads. New single ‘Tin Man’ is as delicate and stark as it is powerful and moving with gentle harp plucks and smooth chords tacked to the night sky by the pin prick percussion. Across the top of all this is the dark, rich velvet of the twin vocals of our two heroines which wraps around you like the warm smoke of a countryside fire full of the smells of Autumn and the promise of what is to come. Transcendent stuff with beauty at its core. No biggie.


Live Dates:

2nd November – Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris
5th November – Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
6th November – Cyprus Avenue, Cork
7th November – The Empire, Belfast
9th November – The Loft, Galway
11th November – The Delacroix, Derry
17th November – Cecil Sharp House, London
18th November – Picture House Social Club, Sheffield
19th November – The Hug And Pint, Glasgow
22nd November – Gullivers, Manchester
23rd November – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
24th November – The Lantern @ Colston Hall, Bristol

25th November – The Bullingdon, Oxford