Thursday, 17 April 2014

JACK WALLEN - EP REVIEW

Jack Wallen - Although EP 
Jack Wallen - Although EP

Mr Jack Wallen is a Cornishman with an impressive beard and pain in his eyes. This is almost enough for me to decide that I love him but I've been fooled before so I'm going to hold back until I've heard the music. This four track EP from the Westcountry troubadour kicks off with the gentle tones of title track 'Although' which immediately shows off Wallen's fragile, wounded vocals with a sense of smoothness that could see him make a passable stab at being a crooner if the mood took him. 'Soles' continues the theme of delicately plucked guitar strings that draw you in only for you to be swept away by the man's sumptuous vocals, drizzled with just the right amount of delay to make the most of his impressive range. As the percussion and strings swell, the song undulates like a tempestuous tide on a rocky beach with a mixture of soul and blues in his voice.

'These Truths' starts with a Motown drum stomp as the only accompaniment to Wallen's voice until the guitar creeps in, almost unnoticed, through the back door of a smoky club. You can entirely imagine Wallen in a dishevelled suit, tie loosened and singing through the smoke and sweat to win back the heart of the indifferent beauty sipping whisky at the bar. The EP closes with the much more sombre 'Wild Enough' which is an almost apologetically shy tune full of break-of-dawn regret and the kind of natural soul that Brother and Bones or Amy Winehouse exude rather than forced showmanship. Wallen is a talented musician and excellent vocalist but, what's more, the guy has natural soul and that is a rare, rare thing these days. Go find him in a dark, intimate bar and keep an eye on which lady he's staring at during the performance - she's broken his heart once and she'll do it again, probably tonight...

More information: http://www.jackwallenmusic.com/

Live Dates:

23rd April - South Devon Arts Centre, Totnes

26th April - Chapel Arts Centre, Bath

Sunday, 13 April 2014

NATHASSIA DEVINE - ALBUM REVIEW

Nathassia Devine - Cosmic (Inter-Dimensional Recordings) 
Nathassia Devine - Cosmic

Release Date: 28th April 2014

Right, this is going to be a bit of a departure from the usual stuff I get sent but that's what makes it all the more exciting. You see, Nathassia is a half Dutch and half Indian dance music creator and vocalist with a big reputation and bags of potential. This album is her calling card to the clubs, radio stations and DJs of the world to show just what she can do. The album starts off with a statement of intent with the minute long 'Creation' that sounds like a thousand radio dials being tuned through a range of songs until everything goes quite and the soft, ominous strings of 'Cosmic' come to the fore and suddenly we're transported to a Balearic island in the heat of the summer. You see, despite Devine's ability to stir up dark, minor keys, this is defiantly meant to be music to dance to so there is no point in ignoring that aspect. 'All In My Head' is up next with a great Eurovision style melody that would have a club jumping in no time while 'Alien Eyes' is an absolutely storming track for the dance floor.

There are some Robert Miles style piano notes at the start of 'You Will Recall' that sees Devine doing her best job of sounding like someone singing a dance version of a minor 80s hit before 'Dark Or Light' takes things to a more unusual place, showing off the Asian influences on the music beautifully. 'Light Of The World' is a nailed on Eurovision winner if the dance routine is good enough because it features just about every regional musical genre and has a message of unifying love - place your bets now. There's a 90s rave flashback on 'Over The Moon', a Euro-pop moment on 'Star Sapphire' and a real Ministry Of Sound feel to 'Centre Of The Sun'. Let's face it, this is euphoric, uplifting and unashamedly a little bit cheesy. If you're in the gym, the club, your car on a sunny day or dancing round your kitchen in your pyjamas then this will probably do you a job depending on your musical preferences.

This is an impressive collection of tunes for someone not established in this field of music and 'Telepathically' shows a darker, more Tori Amos-like side to Devine's work until a big (and I mean big) Dubstep bass line takes over and, well, things take a turn for the aggressively seductive. The album finishes with the contradictory 'Destruction', in reply to the opening track, 'Re-Create' which reprises the album's opening melodies superbly. This is a well thought out and constructed collection of songs from which you could pick about 6 songs to release as singles to be successful in the club charts. With a fair wind and a sexy video and you're probably looking at a mainstream smash this summer...mark my words.


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

GLORY GLORY - EP REVIEW

Glory Glory - So Long EP 
Glory Glory - So Long

Release Date: 21st April 2014

Another new Canadian band to get your ears around now in the shape of Halifax trio Glory Glory and their new EP, 'So Long'. The first of the three tracks on this CD is 'Take My Time' which is an instant and joyous slice if indie-pop with sunshine guitars, sexy bass and vocals full of charm and style. These guys would easily make a high school dance go off like Christmas Eve at the Playboy Mansion but there's a certain sincerity about the music that suggests they could easily put together an album full of cracking hooks and tunes as well. Next up is 'Indigo Sun', a song that belongs to the 80s in terms of the gentle, synth heavy melodies and guitars the echo so much you're not sure where they began anymore. Finishing up with 'Everybody Lies', Glory Glory show off their ability to switch styles with ease as they present a song pitched somewhere between Radiohead, latter day Incubus and Black Kids with one of the best indie guitar riffs I've heard in quite a while. I can't get enough of the Canadian music scene at the moment such is the quality but these guys stand out among their peers as being a bit special. All together now, Glory Glory = Hallelujah.

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

Live Dates:


2nd May - The Brink, Liverpool

POETICAT - EP REVIEW

Poeticat - Smash The Floor 
Poeticat - Smash The Floor

Release Date: 5th May 2014

London based spoken word agit-poppers Poeticat are ready to release their first EP containing some previously released singles and some new tracks as well. The EP begins with some coastal sounds before 'Jetty' swoons in to life with some gentle guitars which quickly become more lively and the Kate Nash-esque vocals of Catherine Martindale to rhyme jetty with spaghetti. On 'Centre Of The Concrete Square', things take a turn for the experimental as the throbbing bass line is the only element holding to instrumentation together while the lyrics take on the issues parenting, class and gangs with a good dose of rye clarity. 'Rest Reprise' is sombre and almost folkish in tone while recent single 'Kind Words Soft Kill' is still as intriguing and challenging as the first time I heard it. The EP finishes up with '3rd Arm' which opens with a scuzzed up bass line and a car alarm style vocal before the guitars come chiming in, all Franz Ferdinand, and the band finish up with what is probably their most mainstream song on the album with a pleasing groove but still a huge number of ideas packed in to one song with a punk ethos. Poeticat strike me as the kind of band that will command a strong and dedicated cult following but will never get played on Radio 1....and that's a very good thing to be.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/poeticat1?fref=ts

Live Dates:


10th May - The Canteen, Bristol

EMMA GARRETT - EP REVIEW

Emma Garrett - Emma Garrett EP 
Emma Garrett - Emma Garrett EP

Release Date: 5th May 2014

When you see the words Singer-Songwriter you tend to think of someone hunched over an acoustic guitar, maybe a piano, singing gentle tunes. Emma Garrett is not of this ilk. The three tracks that comprise this EP are passionate, intense and destined for bigger things. Opening track 'Dose Me Up' sees the London based chanteuse combine folk, indie, orchestral and rock styles to create a more organic version of Muse with Alison Moyet on vocals - Alison Moyet with a better range, I might add. The sinister key of 'This Is It' combines superbly with Garrett's breathless vocals to create an Anna Calvi-esque piece of music with a Florence Welch performance. At over thirteen minutes long, this EP is huge considering there are only three tracks but that's where Garrett's classical bent comes in to play as each track is like a movement in its own right. Final track 'Change Your Bones' is perhaps the most accessible of the three with a steady acoustic strum, luscious strings and a vocal melody that the likes of Ellie Goulding would jump on. I'm aware that I've done a lot of comparing Emma Garrett to other female artists (Muse aside) but sometimes you have to put female singer songwriters in to this pigeon hole when they are so strong and innovative. These songs, in the hands of a man, would not have the same resonance or power so it would be unfair to draw that comparison. Intensely beautiful stuff.


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

Saturday, 12 April 2014

WHALES IN CUBICLES - SINGLE REVIEW

Whales In Cubicles - We Never Win (Club The Mammoth) 
Whales In Cubicles - We Never Win

Release Date: 5th May 2014

London quartet Whales In Cubicles are back with a new single ahead of an extensive UK tour and I'm running out of superlatives. 'We Never Win' starts off as an angsty, urgent piece of indie-rock but when the chorus arrives it bursts in to life with guitars thrashing, drums crashing and breathless vocals sputtering in to the microphone. This single is billed as a live favourite and I can't help but think that is partly down to the superb energy of the song and partly down to the sheer number of words these guys cram in to the song making it a bit of a lung buster to try singing along to. Whatever the reason, get out to your nearest venue and catch these guys live if you can. It's sure to be messy, sweaty and euphoric - a bit like a rave in a sauna.

More information: http://www.whalesincubicles.com/

Live Dates:

4th May - Handmade Festival, Leicester
7th May - Krakk, Manchester w/Fight Like Apes
8th May - The Duchess, York w/Fight Like Apes
9th May - Oakford Social Club, Reading
10th May - The Great Escape Festival, Brighton
15th May - The Lamplighter, Northampton
16th May - Bunkers Hill, Nottingham
22nd May - Wharf Chambers, Leeds w/More Than Conquerors
23rd May - Adelphi, Hull

5th June - Barfly, London

DAYSDEAF - ALBUM REVIEW

Daysdeaf - When Colour Lost Light 
Daysdeaf - When Colour Lost Light

"The album song titles work as a gradient. Starting from white, the songs are then ordered in the form of the electromagnetic spectrum, then moving to phenomena of light." Call me crazy but that is not a normal statement that you expect to get in a press release from a band, is it? Now, when you're done calling me crazy, call me intrigued because when a band says something different in a press release then there's a fair chance they'll do something different with their music. Daysdeaf are fairly sparse in terms of information but I have deduced that they hail from Toronto and, judging from the opening track, 'White Flags', they are influenced by a range of styles from Hip-Hop and Dubstep to Electro and Soul (I'm going to ignore the annoying chipmunk style vocal effect for now).

As we move through the colours, from 'Silver (Oh Mercury!)' and 'Giving Life To Greys' to 'Purple Thrills' and 'Deep Blue, Deep', it's obvious that Daysdeaf are balancing the beam between kooky electro tunes and wanting to have that big Billboard hit, maybe with someone like Pitbull guesting on rap duties. 'Chasing Green', however, as a Mike Oldfield meets Jean Michel Jarre feel to it before it goes all Linkin Park meets Eminem and then the originality starts to wane. 'Bright Yellow Sun' has an engaging acoustic intro with some jazzy piano and percussion to give you that real south of France feel but again the vocals don't match and that spark is quickly extinguished.

'Tangerine', 'redREd' and the bizarrely titled 'Nazi Pink Triangles' continue the theme of promising ideas never quite being allowed to reach fruition, the latter of the three being somewhere on the lines of Parov Stelar but without the sense of fun. Moving away from the colours and on to the light we have the lullaby chimes of 'Iridescent', the creepily calm tones of 'CMY' and 'Prism' which features one of my least favourite sounds - the clicky, artificial finger snap that dull R'n'B songs always throw in for no good reason. The album finishes with 'Light', a mellow, Lemon Jelly-esque piece of instrumental music. Overall, this is a frustrating album as Daysdeaf obviously have some great ideas and some talent to back it up but the tendency to revert back to angry vocals and over instrumentation sometimes drowns out the spark of originality.

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


Listen/Download: http://daysdeaf.bandcamp.com/album/when-colour-lost-light