Monday, 31 July 2017

THE DARKNESS – SINGLE REVIEW

The Darkness – All The Pretty Girls (Cooking Vinyl) 
The Darkness - All The Pretty Girls

Release Date: Out Now

Ah, the Darkness. The most Marmite of all the rock bands. Some love the shtick and some hate the histrionics. Me, I’ve always been thoroughly neutral to Marmite, I can take it or leave it and I’m the same with Darkness. This comeback single (let’s call it a comeback), ‘All The Pretty Girls’, is vintage Darkness with the falsetto vocals, big guitars, overtly sexual lyrics and a smattering of accents in the delivery. A pumping rhythm section, a chugging guitar line and the kind of rock’n’roll vocals that are sorely lacking in the world these days. Love them or hate them, the Darkness are at least prepared to unbutton their shirts to the waist, put a foot on a monitor and rock out with their collective cock out and that’s not to be sneezed or sniffed at these days. We need rock stars right now.



Live Dates:

4th August – Skogsrojet, Rejmyre
27th August – Rock The City, Bucharest
13th October – Dolans Warehouse, Limerick City
14th October – The Academy, Dublin
15th October – The Limelight, Belfast
3rd November – Razzmatazz 2, Barcelona
4th November – Sala But, Madrid
5th November – Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao
8th November – Alcatraz, Milan
9th November – Orion, Ciampino
10th November – Vox Club, Nonatola
12th November – Simm City Festsaal Zentrum Simmering, Vienna
13th November – Technikum, Munchen
14th November – Columbia Theater, Berlin
16th November – Matrix, Bochum
19th November – Le Trabendo, Paris
20th November – Z7 Konzertfabrik, Pratteln
23rd November – O2 Guildhall, Southampton
24th November – Academy, Manchester
25th November – King George’s Hall, Blackburn
27th November – O2 Academy, Leeds
28th November – O2 Academy, Newcastle
29th November – O2 Academy, Glasgow
1st December – Victoria Hall, Stoke On Trent
2nd December – Rock City, Nottingham
3rd December – Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA, Norwich
5th December – G Live, Guildford
7th December – Southend Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff On Sea
9th December – O2 Academy, Birmingham
10th December – Eventim Apollo, London
11th December – Dome, Brighton
13th December – St David’s Hall, Cardiff

14th December – Colston Hall, Bristol

RYLANDS HEATH – SINGLE REVIEW

Rylands Heath – Skin 
Rylands Heath - Skin

Release Date: Out Now

Luton’s finest indie-pop duo Rylands Heath are back with another slice of perky, up-tempo guitar based tuneage in the shape of ‘Skin’. There’s a lively beat, a nice little hook and the kind of downplayed vocals that the Kooks and Razorlight did so well with. There’s a sense of sadness, possibly fuelled by unrequited love (always good territory for awkward lads playing guitar based pop) and there’s a nice little bass line just to keep things ticking along. My only worry with this song is just who the audience is supposed to be. I mean, sure, we live a world where Scouting For Girls are still inexplicably getting bookings but is there still room in the world for perky indie-pop? There should be but then I guess I’m not the target market.


Live Dates:

4th August – LutonAid 2017 @ UK Centre for Carnival Arts, Luton
19th August – The Mall, Walthamstow

16th August – Relay For Life @ Stockwood Park Athletics Track, Luton

SEPHINE LLO – SINGLE REVIEW

Sephine Llo – First To Tarnish 
Sephine Llo - First To Tarnish

Release Date: Out Now

Sephine Llo is the nom de plume of Josephine Lloyd-Wilson and her single ‘First to Tarnish’ is a thing of understated and juddering beauty. It takes a good 30 seconds for this song to emerge from the cable crackle of some English version of David Lynch’s red room but when it does emerge, it’s a crisp, clear and utterly pure piece of alt-pop in the vein of Zoe Johnson and Joanna Newsome. The delicately plucked strings and atmospheric percussion build like the ladies of Wildwood Kin or a Laura Marling romp but with a more early morning in a misty glade vibe going on. This is classy, unapologetic and made of cut-glass with the dawns early light refracted through it so listen in, for sure, but don’t touch.



Thursday, 27 July 2017

BEACH RIOT – SINGLE REVIEW

Beach Riot – Slackers 
Beach Riot - Slackers


Release Date: Out Now

Hey. You. Yeah, you. Have you checked out Beach Riot yet? No? Well get a jog on, time’s a-wasting. New single ‘Slackers’ is a great place to hop aboard this seemingly unstoppable freight train that takes less than three minutes to reach its destination. A pounding bass line comes on like one of those instant hangovers – disorientating, aggressive and painful – which, accompanied by the drums leaves you staring in to the near distance and slightly panicked with a sweaty head. By the time guitars hit their stride and the vocals kick in, you are left in no doubt that this is the lost or undiscovered bastard child of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ and Reuben’s ‘Racecar is Racecar Backwards’ (in my head, albums are adults and singles are their offspring).  The wonky and intense guitar solo keeps the hangover survival theme at front and centre as the grunge-slacker-indie-pop ride reaches a beautiful climax. One to bounce off the walls to, for sure, but watch out for the morning after.


Live Dates:

4th August – Deadbeat Disco @ The Globe, Brighton
7th August – New Moons @ Old Blue Last, London
12th August – Leefest
2nd September – Sticky Mikes, Brighton w/Bootleg Rascal + Clever Thing

3rd September – O2 Academy, Islington w/Bootleg Rascal + Clever Thing

LITTLE HURRICANE – SINGLE REVIEW

Little Hurricane – Isn’t It Great? (Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group) 
Little Hurricane - Isn't It Great?


Release Date: Out Now

Blues-rock power couple Little Hurricane are back with a new single and boy am I grateful? ‘Isn’t It Great?’, as tunes go, is a jerky, sophisticated and brooding slice indie-rock with a poppy infusion that sits somewhere between the White Stripes and early Maroon 5 and isn’t as dirty as some of the duo’s other material. However, as Murphy’s law would have it, this probably has a better chance of being a crossover hit than some of their other releases which is not a bad thing. Weirdly, the video also manages to turn a shit date in to an ensemble dance routine and, just in time, that trade mark guitar scuzz comes back in and normal service is beautifully resumed.


Live Dates:

5th August – Wientrum Open Air, Bad Windsheim
8th August – Brussels Summer Fest, Brussles
9th August – Privatclub, Berlin
10th August – Haldern Pop, Haldern
12th August – Grape Festival, Piestany
15th August – FREQUENCY Festival, St Polten
16th August – Milla, Munich
18th August – Open Air Gampel, Gampel Bratsch
19th August – Zomerparkfeest, Venlo
15th September – KAABOO Del Mar, Del Mar

Watch the video: 

REVEREND & THE MAKERS – SINGLE REVIEW

Reverend & The Makers – Juliet Knows (Cooking Vinyl) 
Reverend & The Makers - Juliet Knows


Release Date: Out Now

I am increasingly beginning to think that Reverend & The Makers are one of the vastly underrated bands of our times and new single ‘Juliet Knows’ only serves to further that suspicion. A sparse acoustic number, this single sees vocal duties handed over to band member (and Milburn member) Joe Carnall and a soft sway that suggests a soft sub-equatorial afternoon fuelled by a few cool beers and a humidity that saps the energy from you. Carnall’s voice is warm and full of regret and love which makes this an engaging listen, even before the melodic whistling kicks in and someone opens another beer before handing it over to you with a wedge of lime in the neck. Bliss.



Live Dates:

28th July – Camp Bestival, Lulworth Camp
29th July – Kendal Calling, Kendal
29th September – Looe Music Festival, Looe
14th October – The Garage, Glasgow
25th October – Electric Ballroom, London
27th October – O2 Academy, Sheffield

4th November – Academy, Manchester

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

INDIGO GIRLS + LUCY WAINWRIGHT ROCHE – LIVE REVIEW

Indigo Girls + Lucy Wainwright Roche – Live at the Bierkeller, Bristol, 25/07/2017


It might only be July but I think I can confidently say that this was the hottest gig of the year. I’m not necessarily commenting on the quality of the entertainment (more on that later) but for some inexplicable reason, the Bierkeller decided to keep their air-con system and strategically placed giant fans just for looking at which made for an incredibly hot, sweaty and, frankly, unenjoyable atmosphere. Never fear, though, opening act Lucy Wainwright Roche is a cool cucumber of a customer and soon has the swelling crowd eating out of the palm of her hand – musically and on a personal level. Singing her own material as well as a macabre nursery rhyme written with half-sister Martha Wainwright, it was easy to see LWR’s musical heritage shining through from both the Wainwright and Roche musical dynasties. Aside from the music, there was some gentle but well observed banter around the seeming indifference of the English public to the constantly changing currency as well as some hints to the cabin fever that builds up when touring as a solo artist.

We thought we’d seen the last of Lucy Wainwright Roche when the need for fresh air meant that we missed the end of her set but, fortuitously, when Atlanta duo Indigo Girls took to the stage amidst rapturous applause, they were joined by Lucy Wainwright Roche on backing vocals and the talented Lyris on violin duties. There’s a special reaction that Amy Ray and Emily Saliers evoke in an audience that borders on hero-worship but is more in awe of the songs these talented women have created over the decades and what those songs mean to their devoted fanbase. Such adoration was repaid within minutes as fan favourites ‘Fill It Up Again’, ‘Power of Two’, ‘Gone Again’ and ‘Go’ get a sing-along going and produce a rousing sound for just four musicians with no percussion other than audience hand claps.

Bouncing around through their country, folk and blues flavoured back catalogue, Saliers and Ray played with warmth, passion and no short measure of talent on whichever stringed instrument they were handed by their hard-working roadie. ‘Woodsong’, ‘Olympia Inn’, ‘Get Out the Map’ and ‘Let It Be Me’ straddle an offering from Ray’s forthcoming solo offering, ‘Train Inside’. The evening climaxes with a joyous, almost biblical ‘Galileo’ which has every word sung passionately back at the stage by a beaming and satisfied (if sweaty) crowd. The standard short pause for chanting is followed by a collective version of ‘Hammond Song’, originally by the Roches, and then a guest is plucked seemingly from the crowd (via a Skype audition) and we are treated to a five-piece rendition of the anthemic ‘Closer to Fine’ featuring the talented Georgia Patterson on vocal duties. All in all, this was an effortless and consummate performance which touched all the high notes of euphoria and the lower notes of political commentary – a dichotomy that has worked so well for this pair for years. In a cooler, more aerated venue there may have even been a second encore but after that rousing final song we all needed to breathe. Don’t leave it so long next time, come back to the UK soon.

More information:


Lucy Wainwright Roche - https://www.facebook.com/lwrlwr/

Thursday, 20 July 2017

JOE BOYD – SINGLE REVIEW

Joe Boyd – Can You Believe It? 
Joe Boyd - Can You Believe It?


Release Date: Out Now

Londoner Joe Boyd is back with his 2nd single of 2017 and ‘Can You Believe It?’ has a real assured swagger about it. Simple strummed guitar and gentle beat are all that’s needed for Boyd’s soulful vocal to play out and seduce you in the small hours of the night. This is classy and sophisticated stuff with excellent production qualities and underplayed but well placed motifs that are just beautiful. As the strings swell towards the end, this tune takes on greater importance and you can feel the likes of Sam Smith and various boy-band drop outs looking nervously over their shoulders as this young and genuinely talented pretender is coming up on the outside. Keep an eye on Joe Boyd, I think he might just have something special going on here.



BALAKO – SINGLE REVIEW

Balako – Hora De Balako (Greco-Roman Soundsystem) 
Balako - Hora De Balako


Release Date: Out Now

Diogo and Rodrigo are a pair of DJs and producers from Rio de Janeiro trading under the name of Balako and they have just produced one of the most infectious and influential tunes of the summer with an absolute beast of a bass line. ‘Hora De Balako’ pulses with tribal rhythms and is tense with Bond-esque strings but then that 70s disco bass line kicks in and suddenly the party starts with a real swing and plenty of glitz. There’s a movement in the middle that gives this a real feel of class and I would pay well over the odds to attend a party DJed by the kind of cats that could pull this off wich out breaking in to a sweat on their finely ironed shirts and tightly tied cravats. Hip doesn’t even come close.


NINE INCH NAILS – SINGLE REVIEW

Nine Inch Nails – Less Than (Columbia Records)
Nine Inch Nails - Less Than

Release Date: Out Now

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this latest release from LA super-goths Nine Inch Nails but, pleasingly, they’re still relevant and still trying new things – Christ, they were the house band in Twin Peaks the other week. ‘Less Than’ works sonically, that’s a given, but with the intense and relentless arcade feel of the accompanying video you really get a sense of the helpless hurtling that this song is trying to capture. The electro pulses and clenched-teeth vocals show why bands like Muse and Queens of the Stone Age drew so much on the influence of Trent Reznor and his assembled hired hands. There’s a triumphant, mosh inducing chorus and the kind of call-to-arms that we all need in a pretty fucked up world that seems to be spinning off its axis right now.


Live Dates:

23rd July – FYF Fest, Los Angeles
30th July – Panorama Festival, Brooklyn
15th September – Riot Fest, Chicago
21st October – Aftershock Festival, Sacramento

Watch the Video: 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

GOGOL BORDELLO - SINGLE REVIEW

Gogol Bordello - Walking on the Burining Coal (Cooking Vinyl)
Gogol Bordello - Walking on the Burning Coal

Release Date: Out Now

Gypsy Punks Gogol Bordello are back with a new single in the shape of ‘Walking on the Burning Coal’ and it will please those fans who enjoy the band’s story telling side. Mariachi horns and flourishing guitars tell a story that is befitting of the climactic scene of a Tarantino or Scorsese movie. The gravelly vocals, wild-west vibes and fiddle melody that speaks of impending conflict all combine to make something steeped in drama and dripping in passion. Something to get your blood flowing and your heart pumping, that’s for sure.


Watch The Video: 

SISKA - SINGLE REVIEW

Siska - Need U Badly
Siska - Need U Badly

Release Date: Out Now

This might just be my favourite tune of the summer so far, largely down to the catchy chorus and refreshingly honest lyrics. French trip-pop artist Siska sings in English but with such a soft siren call of a voice that it really doesn’t matter what the language is on new single ‘Need U Badly’ – a title that feels like it came from a poorly translated T-shirt slogan. The sparse, skittish beat and woozy melody of the chorus provides the perfect foil for Siska’s soulful vocal to repeatedly state “I need you badly” with all the desperation and primal need inherent in the simple lyric. There are four remixes of the same song on this EP, all distinct in their own right, but it’s the first remix by Tom Fire that does this song the most justice so start there and see what else floats your boat.


Live Dates: 

28th July - Music Fesival, Gardanne
4th August - Urkult Festival, SE






KING FARO - SINGLE REVIEW

King Faro - Fun
King Faro - Fun

Release Date: Out Now

So, strange thing, there is an advert for the DVD release of Beauty and the Beast that was playing at the start of this track due to me being too pure to get ad free Soundcloud. No biggie but the advert blended in to the soft melody at the start of this new release from King Faro. The New Jersey rapper is bringing ‘Fun’ as his new release and it’s a superbly light and summery slice of R’n’B tinged with a sense of sadness that you get at the end of a Sunday or when summer starts to die. Lyrically, this is pretty standard fare about girls, sex and, well, fun but it’s the music that makes this an intriguing listen as the keyboard melody floats on a warm breeze in to your subconscious. More beauty than the beast.

DEQN SUE – SINGLE REVIEW

DeQn Sue – Messy 
DeQn Sue - Messy

Release Date: Out Now

There’s a sprinkly, early morning light vibe to this new track from DeQn Sue which is both playful but also means business, if you follow me. ‘Messy’ has a 50s feel to it in terms of the melody with strings and keys sounding like a classy commercial from back in the day but then DeQn Sue’s vocal has a real Kelis meets Corrine Bailey-Rae tone to it that is just gorgeous. The Jazz infused melodies are completly at odds with the lyric of “Messy, why do you hate me darlin’?” and this creates a really satisfying edge to this tune and ensures you stay hooked in for the duration. Delightful.


THE FRANKLYS – ALBUM REVIEW

The Franklys – Are You Listening? (Halta Halta Records)
The Franklys - Are You Listening?

Release Date: Out Now

For those relatively new to this humble blog, The Franklys are a group I’ve been championing for a while and here we (finally) are at the release of their debut album – and it’s glorious. In a year when anger has reached fever pitch people need a release for their frustrations, ‘Are You Listening?’ comes as a perfect conduit for that latent rage. Opening with ‘Castaway’, the menacing vocals and urgent beat gives you a hint at what this is going to be all about but when the full force of squalling guitars is unleashed you realise that the aforementioned hint was just the tip of a huge, black iceberg. The garage guitar chug of ‘Weasel’ takes things in a Queens of the Stone Age direction and you can’t help but want to drive somewhere fast with the windows down and your shades on – just to cause some trouble, shake things up. On ‘Puppet’ there’s a really pleasing bass rumble that is matched only by the repeated riot girl gang vocals in the chorus that insist “you never wanted me”.

The Franklys - 4 women, 1 giant foot
After that furious opening trio of songs you might expect some respite and ‘Keeper’ opens reassuringly slowly but the intensity spreads like fire through this song until you can see the headlights from the Mustang on the painted white lights of Route 66. The hypnotic vocal melody and the slithering guitars are pure rock’n’roll in their darkest form and it is glorious in every sense. The direct ‘You Go, I Leave’ is almost Alice Cooper theatrical in its rock cabaret as it lurches through the room like a drunk madam just about holding it together, whip in hand. Meanwhile, the solid advice of ‘Don’t Kill Your Friends’ is delivered atop a thrashy, bratty slice of pop-grunge  that would get most people’s attention if you heard it bleeding out of a dive bard on a dark night. A live show from the Franklys is a delight that has thus far evaded me but tunes like ‘Too Tall’, with its stabbing percussion and buzz saw guitars, would surely make it a chaotic and hedonistic experience.

Things take a turn for the menacing on ‘Imaginarium’ as the dystopian guitars and haunting vocals remind me of the fabulous September Girls or Berries, both contemporaries of the Franklys. ‘Comedown’ returns to the main road of foot-to-the-floor garage punk with growling guitars and those insistent vocals taking you to task – “where’s your passion? Where’s your soul?” they sing without waiting for your feeble answer. This, frankly, outstanding debut offering does a mic drop moment with ‘Bad News’ as the quartet leave in a hail of machine gun drums followed by the death knell feedback fade out of a band that have already left to find a party. So, as debut albums go, this is impressively strong not just for what is captured on these 10 tracks but for the promise this band shows and how far they could go. Right now, they have explored a few corridors but they have the ability and, I think, the will to go deeper, darker, heavier and louder if that’s possible. There will be no coming back though, there never is.


Live Dates:

23rd June – Flashback Records Store, London
30th June – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton
7th July – Dirt Quake, King’s Lynn
8th July – Tannerfest, Loddington
20th July – The Lexington, London w/Skinny Girl Diet
5th August – Verve Bar, Leeds
6th August – Rebellion Festival, Blackpool w/Bad Religion + Slaves + Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Saturday, 15 July 2017

THE ALL AMERICAN REJECTS – EP REVIEW

The All American Rejects – Sweat/Close Your Eyes EP
The All American Rejects - Sweat/Close Your Eyes

Release Date: Out Now

OK, so this one might take a bit of explaining up front. The All American Rejects (yes, them of ‘Gives You Hell’ fame) have produced a two song EP (don’t even get me started) and then set both songs to an 11 minute short film directed by Jamie Thraves, all as preparation for a summer tour with Dashboard Confessional. You up to speed? Good, let us start with ‘Sweat’ then. A slightly skanked up guitar shuffles on stage right along with the laconic vocals of Tyson Ritter, matched to the image of Ritter in drag ambling along hooker avenue in Nowheresville USA – so far so good. Then comes the anthemic chorus which, lyrically, comes straight out of the R’n’B playback but is set to an indie-rock guitar that makes you just want to pogo and shout “Sweat” with glee. Oh, and then there’s a dance routine featuting Ritter, a cast of hookers (not really hookers) and police officers (not really police officers). This is gloriously sleazy, unashamedly provocative and almost certainly NSFW depending on where you live.

A shift in mood brings us to ‘Close Your Eyes’ suddenly Ritter is in more forlorn, sombre mood and we swap the seedy downtown for suburban bliss – the ying to the yang of the night before. There’s a dreamlike quality to the music that plays out over the top of a scene where Ritter plays the role of hipster done good at a surprise party in his honour that is imbued with a real sense of unease and duty. Musically, it’s not the most engaging song but coupled with this video it is absolutely enthralling as things start to unravel and you realise the punch line to this whole affair is that one way or another we’re all playing a role, living some kind of lie and acting the part in somebody else’s play. This is a really intriguing release and one that brings sound and vision together really effectively – bravo, I say.


Live Dates:

13th July – The Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa
14th July – Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco
15th July – The Pearl Concert Theater, Las Vegas
17th July – Idaho Botanical Garden, Boise
18th July – Sandy City Amphitheater, Sandy
20th July – The District, Sioux Falls
21st July – Myth, St Paul
22nd July – Harrah’s Casino, Council Bluffs
23rd July – The Pageant, St. Lous
25th July – Express Live, Columbus
26th July – Fillmore Detroit, Detroit
27th July – House of Blues, Cleveland
29th July – Tag’s Summer Sound Stage, Big Flats
30th July – Sands Bethlehem Event, Bethlehem
31st July – Mod Club Theatre, Toronto
1st August – Corona Theatre, Montreal
3rd August – Central Park Summer Stage, New York
4th August – Foxwoods Resort Casino – Grand Theater, New London
5th August – New Hampshire Pavilion, Gilford
6th August – Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston
8th August – Stage AE, Pittsburgh
9th August – Festival Pier, Philadelphia
10th August – Wolf Trap, Vienna
12th August – Ascend Amphitheater, Nashville
13th August – Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, Charlotte
14th August – Mercury Ballroom, Louisville
15th August – Ravinia Pavilion, Chicago
16th August – Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis
18th August – Liberty Hall, Lawrence
19th August – Victory Fest 2017, Ogden
2nd September – New Belgium’s Tour de Fat, Fort Collins
7th October – Choctaw Grand Theater, Durant

Watch The Video: 

GO GRACIOUS – SINGLE REVIEW

Go Gracious – Shake 
Go Gracious - Shake


Release Date: Out Now

There’s been a bit of a trend for slow burning intros of late which flies in the face of all the advice you normally get from the recording industry – hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em fast. Go Gracious, however, have gone back to the basics on debut single ‘Shake’ which jumps straight in with a crunchy beat and wall-to-wall guitars before the artwork has finished loading up on screen! At a second under three minutes, this is riotously fun indie-pop with a laddish sneer and Vampire Weekend guitars. The line “I could stop drinking but you’re only fun when I’m drunk” kind of sums this tune up but if you need a more hedonistic line to shout back at the band then “champagne, cocaine, whatever makes you happy” should do it. I’ve been pretty vocal about my approval for protest songs this year but this tune is the “fuck it, let’s get wasted and have a good time” anthem that 2017 needs. So, turn off the 24-hour news feed, log off Twitter, gather some mates and crack open a bottle of whatever floats your boat with ‘Shake’ on a loop.


JESS & THE BANDITS – SINGLE REVIEW

Jess & The Bandits – Kings of Summer 
Jess & The Bandits - Kings of Summer


Release Date: Out Now

Now, from the press shot, I was expecting some goth or at least emo music from this bunch but I couldn’t have been more wrong. ‘Kings Of Summer’ is a modern take on that country staple of just celebrating summer that, as catchy as the melody is, has some time travelling lyrics going on. For example, over the perky acoustic guitars and jigging beat, Jess sings “ride our bikes to the dairy queen buzzing on our sugar high” – dairy queen is pure 50s but the concept of a sugar high is far more recent. Then, as the summer party moves on, Jess recalls “smoking menthols in the tree house, a polaroid of cool” – colour me confused. Essentially, what Jess & The Bandits have done is create a collage of the perfect summer images from the last 70 years and patched them together to create a song that if not a chart hit then should be snapped up by any holiday company with the ambition of attracting young families – I’ve got Haven on hold and Centre Parcs are on speed dial.


Live Dates:

28th July – FSA Festival, Newark
19th August – Nashville Nights, Under the Bridge

27th August – Cottingham Folk Festival, Cottingham

CRITICS – SINGLE REVIEW

Critics – Key Lime Pie
Critics - Key Lime Pie

Release Date: Out now

I have read so many band blurbs and PR write-ups over the years that you start to get a little jaded but ‘the band started in [insert year] and haven’t looked back since’ is one of my favourites. Really? Not once has one member of the band thought “did I leave the gas on?” or “have I got my keys?” or “should I just sack this in and go for that promotion in the day job?”. Well, in the case of nomadic trio Critics, I’m glad the latter never happened otherwise we wouldn’t have new single ‘Key Lime Pie’. From the get-go, this is smart, slick and up-tempo indie-pop with a strong sense of purpose – having some fun. There is a campness to this tune that is only amplified by the video (these lads like dressing up more than the Village People) but in the way that Mika, Scissor Sisters and Tempo Shark do so successfully these guys have created a truly infectious sound. I can only imagine the Millenial chaos when this one hits the chorus at a live show – Snapchat will surely go in to meltdown….


Watch The Video: 

TWIN JACKAL – SINGLE REVIEW

Twin Jackal – Humility 
Twin Jackal - Humility

Release Date: Out Now

There’s a strange journey that the new single from London lads Twin Jackal goes on during its near four-minute existence. You see, when ‘Humility’ starts you can’t help but think of those angular, choppy early tunes by Arctic Monkeys. Shortly after that, the song grows in to something akin to Incubus at their experimental and edgy best but with a British accent on the vocals. Then, as the piano starts to seep through the guitars and cymbal crashes, you hear Biffy Clyro emerging like an oil soaked and wild-eyed desperado walking out of a burning building bearing his teeth. The energy, intensity and ingenuity of this track is breath-taking but if you take a deep breath and go back for seconds you will be richly rewarded.


Live Dates:

26th July – Zigfrid von Underbelly, London

THE TAMBO RAYS – EP REVIEW

The Tambo Rays – Recharge EP (OIM Records) 
The Tambo Rays - Recharge EP

Release Date: 17th July 2017

I must admit that it was the ‘so bad it’s good’ press photo that piqued my interest in Oakland five piece the Tambo Rays but then their infectious indie-pop took hold. This new EP by the quintet kicks off with ‘Yes And No’, a song with all the perky energy of ‘Hey Mickey’ but the brattish sneer of Shampoo and Brassy – all good things in my book in case you were wondering. ‘Always Down’ follows with a more mature vibe as the choppy guitars and undulating synths bring to mind the likes of Years and Years or Clear Bandit but with that unmistakable pop vocal courtesy of Sara DaMert.

On ‘Wrong Turn’, the Tambo Rays hit pop gold and it’s on this tune that you realise just how ripe for remixing these guys are. That’s not say the staccato strings and fists in the air electro chorus aren’t powerful enough on their own but there are so many strands you could pull at to create songs going off at different angles that it’s hard to resist the urge. There’s a more 80s rock-pop feel to ‘Nothing To Lose’ and the waterfall guitar notes feel like they’ve travelled in time just for this song, still wearing wrap around shades.

The EP climaxes on ‘Get It Right Now’ as a clear indication that the band know how to build to something special as the infectious keyboard melody hooks under your skin and DaMert’s vocal bounces around like a pre-teen on Christmas morning. There’s a subtly assured swagger about the chorus that knows this song is about to kick the party up to the next level but doesn’t want or need to big deal about it. So, great songs, infectious hooks and a focus on having a good time rather than feeding their egos – that seems like a pretty complete package to me.


Live Dates:

21st July – The Night Light, Oakland

Thursday, 13 July 2017

HAFDIS HULD – SINGLE REVIEW

Hafdis Huld – Take Me Dancing 
Hafdis Huld - Take Me Dancing


Release Date: Out Now

Icelandic songbird Hafdis Huld is new to me but is on the verge of knocking out her fourth album so is pretty experienced at this game now. New single ‘Take Me Dancing’ has a gentle assuredness about it and feels like it should be the soundtrack to that ‘falling in love’ scene that all Rom-Coms have. Huld’s gentle vocal is pure and enchanting while the guitar bounces perkily and the piano keys trill playfully. There is something wonderfully innocent about this tune that speaks of love in its most basic form, that feeling you get when you just want to spend time with another person and forget about everything else for a while. Huld wants to go dancing and hold her lover close, nothing more than that. Surely that’s something we can all celebrate and get on board with.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

MAYA KILLTRON – SINGLE REVIEW

Maya Killtron – Whiplash 
Maya Killtron - Whiplash


Release Date: Out Now

Ah Ms Killtron is back, that means we can get the party cranked up another notch and get frisky. ‘Whiplash’ is the latest single from Toronto’s queen of funk-pop and it’s another doozy of a tune. From the opening beats and pure 80s synth melodies, this is a good time wrapped up in a fun time. Killtron’s vocal is assured soul and those synths just make you want to do your best pout and give this the full MC Hammer shuffle on the dancefloor. There’s some slap bass for good measure and that beat keeps going relentlessly like an aerobics instructor leading a class after too much red bull and a messy break up. The energy coming from Maya Killtron is impressive but the fact that she manages to maintain a melody and hook is equally as impressive if not more so. Put on your neon glad rags and let’s get this party started, fun times are here.


MALKA – SINGLE REVIEW

Malka – Falling (Tantrum Records) 
Malka - Falling


Release Date: Out Now

Malka has always had a childlike quality about the music she produces and the melodies employed in her tracks but new single, ‘Falling’, is like a coming of age anthem that transitions from the kind of skipping rhymes of the school yard to a feeling of real freedom and release. As always, Malka’s rhythm and percussion game is strong with tribal beats pounding out, only to be liberally scattered with melodies made by fairies hell bent on a good time. Equally reliably, Malka’s voice is cool, soothing and pin point accurate in terms of its pitching. There’s an album due in the autumn and a mini tour to boot so if you haven’t got involved with Malka yet then now might just be the time.


Live Dates:

27th July – Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle
1st November – Album Launch @ Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
2nd November – The Hug & Pint, Glasgow
13th November – The Walrus, Brighton
14th November – The Lexington, London

15th November – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham

BEN BATEMAN – SINGLE REVIEW

Ben Bateman – Don’t Breathe A Word 
Ben Bateman - Don't Breathe A Word


Release Date: 31st July 2017

So here we have a lad called Ben from the North East of England just playing his guitar and writing some tunes. Nothing particularly spectacular about that, just one man and his guitar. But that’s all it takes, isn’t it? ‘Don’t Breathe A Word’ is Ben Bateman’s new single coming out in a couple of weeks and it starts a little like a Tamsin Archer tune but when Bateman’s soft, accented vocal shuffles in this takes on a mood and life all of its own. This is as tender and unsure as a love song gets and in the hands of a pop star it would come across as hackneyed and insincere tripe. However, in the hands of a young and emotionally raw musician with nothing but a guitar to hide behind, this is pure and beautiful music.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

JAMES YUILL – SINGLE REVIEW

James Yuill – Fire Breathing 
James Yuill - Fire Breathing


Release Date: Out Now

The heavily effected vocals that open this tune up puts me in mind of Queen but then it settles in to a nice little synthy ripple with more of a Jim Noir or Badly Drawn Boy vibe. The incomparable James Yuill is one of those rare talents that can pull together different genres and moods in one song and make it appear seamless. ‘Fire Breathing’ has a dreamy feel for the first 90 seconds but when that processed beat kicks in and the synth notes start scattering like fireflies in front of a strobe you are immediately awoken from your trance like state. This is a skittish, uncertain tune with its fingers in a number of different pies and it’s heart breaking in a hundred different places.



Live Dates:

11th September – The Sebright Arms, London
12th September – The Cookie, Leicester
13th September – Castle Hotel, Manchester
14th September – The Talking Head, Southampton
15th September – The Cellar, Oxford
23rd September – The Mash House, Edinburgh

24th September – The Hug & Pint, Glasgow

TAMINO – SINGLE REVIEW

Tamino – Cigar (Unday Records)
Tamino - Cigar

Release Date: Out Now

Egyptian/Belgian artist Tamino has one of the single most enchanting voices around so I urge you to turn the lights down low, turn your phone off and let this one wash over you. ‘Cigar’ opens with some haunting tones before a slow acoustic strum is eclipsed by Tamino’s vocal, something akin to a slow rolling boulder made of dark chocolate covered in velvet. At times, it feels as though we’re running on low battery, such is the drawn out drawl of Tamino but as the song builds to a Hozier-esque crescendo, you can’t help but be swept up in the luxurious grandeur and effortless elegance of this single. I was utterly side swiped by this song and the vocal of Tamino and I hope you will be to – if you like it then check out his Nick Cave-esque cover of ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ on Youtube too, it’s a treat.


Live Dates:

15th July – Vondelpark Open Air Theatre, Amsterdam
16th July – Valkhof Festival, Nijmegen
28th July – M-idzomer, Leuven
5th August – Zeverrock, De Pinte
8th August – Lokerse Feesten, Lokeren
15th August – OLT, Antwerp
18th August – Pukkelpop, Kiewit Hasselt
20th August – Terug naar Tiengemeten, Zuid Beijerland
1st September – Into the Great Wide Open, Vlieland
2nd September – Crammerock, Stekene
17th September – Breda Fest, Breda
30th September – 7 Layers Festival, Amsterdam
11th October – AB, Brussels
2nd December – LE SALON, Silly
14th December – Ekko, Utrecht
16th December – Alstadt Eindhoven, Eindhoven
17th December – Bitterzoet, Amsterdam


Watch The Video: 


FELIX HAGAN & THE FAMILY – SINGLE REVIEW

Felix Hagan & The Family – Delirium Tremendous
Felix Hagan & The Family - Delirium Tremendous

Release Date: Out Now

With the sound off (yeah, sometimes I review music with the sound off, what of it?), Felix Hagan and the Family look super theatrical and arty like the XX with dancers. But then you turn the sound on and you realise that the wonderfully titled ‘Delirium Tremendous’ is actually a delightful slice of alt-pop with whimsy at it’s heart and that is a rare thing these days. Take elements of the Scissor Sisters and Mika, put them in a studio with Muse in their poppy pomp and then bring in the dancing girls and sugar based cocktails (Caipirinhas should do it), shake it all up and add a jaunty umbrella in the colour of your choosing (as long as it’s black with rose gold embellishment). I adore the spirit of fun and the dramatic in this tune and I’m pretty sure you will too if you give it a chance.


Live Dates:

27th July – Refract 17, Manchester
29th July – Kendal Calling, Cumbria
24th August – Big Issue presents Street Noise, Manchester

Watch Video: 

Monday, 10 July 2017

BASEMENT REVOLVER – SINGLE REVIEW

Basement Revolver – Tree Trunks (Yellow K Records) 
Basement Revolver - Tree Trunks


Release Date: Out Now

You know those grey days when it doesn’t rain but it’s just damp somehow and all you want to do is stare out of your bedroom window in the hope that something interesting will happen? Well, Ontario trio Basement Revolver beautifully capture that mood on ‘Tree Trunks’ as they use sparse guitars and sombre melodies atop lurching drums. Now, some of you may be reading this thinking “Christ, that sounds depressing” and you’d be right but, personally, I love that. Music is all about enhancing moods and sometimes you just want to wallow in the hopelessness of it all and that’s when you reach for those records that you want to wallow to. So, file this next to the downbeat moments of Belly or any of the distortion swathed left-of-grunge indulgences of the late 90s. I think this is gorgeous and I heartily recommend you get yourself some Basement Revolver action in your life. Your meaningless, drab and insignificant life.



Live Dates:


20th July – The Casbah, Hamilton

SHOTGUN SAWYER – SINGLE REVIEW

Shotgun Sawyer – You Got To Run 
Shotgun Sawyer - You Got To Run


Release Date: 26th July 2017

If you’ve had the kind of day I’ve had then you may well need to rock out right about now so why don’t you strap yourself in and enjoy a fat slice of rock and roll. Shotgun Sawyer (great name) are old school, wild west rockers from California and new single ‘You Got To Run’ is a wondrous piece of heavy guitar based rock cut from the same quarry at Motorhead, Monster Truck and Queens of the Stone Age. Grinding, snarling and with a hint of prog about the breakdown, this is a beast for a good ol’ stomp or putting your foot down too with nothing but a pair of sunglasses to hide the intensity in your eyes. This is a great tune and has rock’n’roll at it’s blackened, whisky soaked heart. Rev those engines.


Live Dates:

26th July – St James Infirmary, Reno
27th July – The Naked Lounge, Chico
28th July – The Naked Lounge, Sacramento
29th July – David’s House, Auburn
30th July – The Golden Bull, Oakland
3rd August – Howie’s, Medford
4th August – The Republic, Portland

5th August – The Moon, Seattle.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

STARSAILOR – SINGLE REVIEW

Starsailor – Listen To Your Heart (Cooking Vinyl) 
Starsailor - Listen To Your Heart


Release Date: Out Now

Right then, hands up if you remember Starsailor. Big indie hopes of the late 90s and early 00s? Yeah, I had a friend who was a big fan but then they faded in the shadow of Coldplay’s rising star and got pretty much forgotten about. But, as with many bands of that era, Starsailor are back with a  new single and, do you know what, it’s not half bad. ‘Listen To Your Heart’ starts with all the bombast of a Killers or Arcade Fire romp but then settles in to a chugging and insistent rhythm that is pitched somewhere between the triumphant indie of Reverend & The Makers and the elegance of an Embrace number. James Walsh’s vocals are still reassuringly powerful and tender in equal measure and this song explores those areas that the likes of James and Coldplay do at their best so, whisper it, we might just be talking about a comeback.



Live Dates:

5th August – Hope & Glory Festival, Liverpool
19th August – Nirwana Tuinfest, Lierop
26th August – Maanrock Festival, Mechelen
12th October – The Junction, Cambridge
13th October – Waterfront, Norwich
14th October – Bierkeller, Bristol
16th October – Leeds Beckett Student’s Union, Leeds
17th October – O2 Institute, Birmingham
18th October – Leadmill, Sheffield
19th October – Academy, Liverpool
21st October – Boiler Shop, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
22nd October – O2 ABC, Glasgow
24th October – O2 Ritz, Manchester
25th October – Concorde 2, Brighton
26th October – KOKO, London

10th November – Shiiine On Weekender @ Butlins, Minehead

FOREVER CULT – SINGLE REVIEW

Forever Cult – Codeine (Clue Records)
Forever Cult - Codeine

Release Date: Out Now

Ah, Forever Cult. Back again I see. Fresh from a clutch of live dates, the Leeds trio bring us their new single ‘Codeine’ which comes with a brilliantly disturbing video (for those Coulrophobics among you). The lurching, sinister bass line that introduces this one is brilliantly angular and, by the time clatters in, we’re in a place inhabited by the likes of Placebo, the Wrens, the darker moments of Young Knives and Idlewild. There are hints of US slacker rock and grunge to this sub-three-minute piece as well as a frenetic energy that brings the video to a climax to beat all climaxes. Great song but even better when coupled with the video.


Watch The Video: 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

THE LAD CLASSIC – ALBUM REVIEW

The Lad Classic – Rectifier 
The Lad Classic - Rectifier


Release Date: Out Now

I have a secret. A dirty secret. I enjoy the funky, dirty sounds of rock’n’roll and I don’t care who knows it. Toronto quartet The Lad Classic have produced an album of tight, punchy and ball busting rock’n’roll tunes that make you want to rev your engine, turn the stereo up and drive fast. Kicking off, in every sense, with ‘Hip Shaker’ the drums are front and centre, booming out of the speakers while those bass and guitar licks tangle elegantly like a pair of leather clad ballet dancers. Recent single ‘Are You With Me?’ follows hot on the heels with a riff that is somewhere between Reef and Guns’n’Roses which is OK by me and then some – this is a pure delight of a rock’n’roll tune that has a chorus the size of a Jumbo Jet and riffs to match. By the time we reach ‘Halfway to Memphis’ The Lad Classic have settled in to their groove and are producing driving, urgent rock music to escape to.

On ‘The Night’, guitarist Ben Healey shows off his impressive guitar work with a circular riff that fits perfectly in to the groove and keeps the high tempo rolling. ‘Who’ doesn’t let up the pace either with the wheels turning relentless and Paul Steven’s vocals doing acrobatics that Matt Bellamy and Chris Cornell (RIP) would be proud of. Now, one thing you don’t expect on a slick rock album is a song called ‘Kitchen Sink’ but the scratchy, funky guitars matched with the powerful grunge-pop vocals are air lifted in from the 90s as though a lost duet between Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers has suddenly surfaced. The Vedder and Co. vibes continue on ‘I’ve Got Your Sympathy’ before ‘Heart of Mine’ drops things down for a slower number that stays just the right side of Nickleback territory but is firmly in 90s MTV waters. Now, the Soundgarden feels are in full force on ‘Star Shooter’ as the power chords and loose drumming hit powerfully as they build in to something truly mesmerising. ‘Summer Song’ marks the end of the album proper with an acoustic strum that feels a little like an afterthought but it’s a fitting way to wind things down after such a ferocious album.

The Lad Classic - waiting for a bus, presumably
Now, normally I’m not a fan of tagging ‘acoustic versions’ on to the end of albums but in this case the stripped down versions of ‘Are You With Me?’, ‘Halfway To Memphis’ and ‘I’ve Got Your Sympathy’ are incredibly well worked and add genuine new dimensions to the songs. The only tragedy is that these guys are a few years too late for MTV unplugged but they have the chops and the songs to impress crowds the world over so I doubt they’ll be too worried. Now, let’s go back to the start and get our rock on, agreed?





Live Dates:

7th July – The Toucan, Kingston w/Sweet Talk Jackie
21st July – Asylum, Sudbury
22nd July – LIVE on Elgin, Ottawa w/Dress Black + Sweet Rocket
12th August – This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton w/Sun Kings
19th August – Chickenstock, Severn
15th September – L’Entre Nous, Montreal
16th September – Toucan, Kingston
22nd September – Station Music Hall, Sarnia

30th September – Button Factory Arts, Waterloo