Thursday, 28 June 2012


Rebecca Jade - The Distaff Muse

Rebecca Jade – The Distaff Muse

The delightful is carrying two things right now. One is her immense songwriting talent and the other is a baby. Now, I don’t know an awful lot about babies (they’re small and intermittently cute, terrifying and amazing) but I do know a good songwriter when I hear one so that is what I am going to write about. The Distaff Muse is the debut long player from the Welsh songstress and her band of merry men and it truly is a thing of beauty. Opening track What Happens Next? starts off as a frail, delicate slip of a song before emerging in to the world as a sashaying, lilting Indie stomper swathed in harmonies, distortion and a Flaming Lips-esque sense of the grandiose. Not bad for a hello. Echo Strikes Out Alone is a more typical indie tune and has me thinking of teenage one-non-hit wonders that I bought from local record shops on 7 inch vinyl (Milk, Linoleum, Frente). But it’s on 3rd track, Brother, that the soul of this album starts to shine through. A tale of sibling love covered in a thick layer of that special kind of Sunday morning home sickness that city dwellers who have grown up in the country get. For a first album, The Distaff Muse is incredibly brave in the honesty and fragility that it displays; it’s real heart on the sleeve stuff.

Hospital Corners is a more up tempo ditty that explores the notion of ‘opposites attract’ better than Paula Abdul and that cartoon cat ever did and leaves you in a more comfortable place thinking you know what’s going on with this record. And then You Do happens. The first half of You Do sounds like the Edge noodling away under a pile of sustain and delay in front of a soggy crowd at Red Rocks back when U2 didn’t own Ireland. Now, for me, this is no bad thing but coming smack in the middle of what I would firmly call an Indie record, it is a real slap across the chops. The second half of the song is a bittersweet strum along that could have been recorded on a wet afternoon in Wales and about as far from the atmosphere of the song’s openings as possible. As if to compound the oddness that this record has now descended in to, Rebecca Jade calls a song Entirely Instrumental and then goes and puts lyrics to it – Instru-mental if you ask me!

Throughout all the oddness (note, NOT kookiness) though, this record is wondrous thing and something that can be enjoyed and studied at the same time. I don’t like to pick a favourite song out as I’m a traditionalist and believe albums should be devoured as one complete work, but if you’re scared by the challenge of this record then a good point to jump in would be Shaking My Heart (Where My Head Should’ve Been). It’s a romper stomper of a break-up song with a pounding piano refrain from Jeremy Radway, fuzzy guitars and a sense of anger mixed with fun that is infectious and ever so slightly Super Furry Animals-esque. The album concludes with the sexy and sassy Willow Walk which perfectly displays Rebecca Jade’s vocal style from Regina Spektor style operatic interludes, attitude laden shouty bits and delicately fragile moments that crescendo in to apocalyptic venomous outbursts. At one point I swear it could be PJ Harvey dueting with Nick Cave as the album stumbles and staggers to a drained and dishevelled climax. But it’s not. It’s Rebecca Jade and Bass man Andrew Pridding on vocal duties but the climax is just as satisfying.

This is one of the longer reviews I’ve done recently and I think that’s testament to the intricacy, complexity and substance that The Distaff Muse provides. We are not talking about a polished, immaculately produced work of art here but we are talking about the kind of album that can really inspire a person in to thinking a little differently or looking at the world in another way. I’m talking about the kind of album that you can sit and listen to, not as background music but as something to really get to grips with over a bottle of red wine. And considering all these ideas came from the heart, mind and soul of one woman I think that makes Rebecca Jade Jnr a very lucky little tyke indeed!

Download the album for a bargain £4 @

Sunday, 24 June 2012


CANDICE GORDON - Smoking Like The Barrel Of A Gun
Candice Gordon - Smoking Like The Barrel Of A Gun

In this age of information overload, it’s a funny mix of refreshing and frustrating that Candice Gordon has next to no internet presence. I mean there are videos and tunes aplenty but there is pretty much no information about who or what Candice Gordon actually is. That puts me in the relatively unique position of being able to review this single based solely on the music and one photo. So, here goes....

18 seconds in and this track is dripping in PJ Harvey’s eccentricity, Karen O’s attitude and the Duke Spirit’s ballsy femininity. If you let the track play on you will discover that this is not a complicated or sophisticated track but it still stands up alongside those aforementioned heroines of rock’n’roll. This is tub-thumping, foot-stomping, fist-pumping stuff that should be played in a bar with sweat dripping off the walls, a crowd hanging off the sweat and then other people hanging off those people. There is a primal, raw and urgent nature to this tune that is infectious and the addition of some genuinely excited squeals alongside some borderline sexual noises from Ms Gordon make this a genuinely exciting slab of leather-clad, crotch grabbing rock’n’roll fun. Which crotch the song grabs, however, is entirely up to you.

Live Dates:
5th July – Bull & Gate, London
10th July – Instore @ Rough Trade East, London

Sunday, 17 June 2012


Films Of Colour – Running

Films Of Colour - Running
Release date: 16th July

There’s no getting around it, Films Of Colour sound a lot like Coldplay. From singer James Clutterbuck’s vocals that could be Chris Martin in a hat to the expansive and semi-uplifting tunes that would not be out of place underneath an inspirational montage in the build up to the Olympics. But before you switch off completely, cast your mind back to when Parachutes came out and everyone thought Coldplay were awesome and beautiful. In a parallel universe, Coldplay took the Films Of Colour route and kept the acoustic fragility whilst eschewing the bright lights of showbiz and becoming more of a band rather than a group of individuals.

New single Running is a broken hearted love song that explores the feeling of knowing your relationship is dead before you are ready to let go of it. There is hope, there is despair, there is a sensation of utter helplessness and raw emotion but most of all there is honesty. Sure, the production quality is high and there are multi-track layers that sometimes threaten to hide any sense of tune but that’s the risk you run when you get in to bed with the big boys (FOC were discovered by Indie-Finder-General Simon Williams who brought us Radiohead and Coldplay amongst others and the band have received the blessing of the Thin White Duke himself). Nevertheless, the quality of the songwriting shines through and this is no fluke as B-Side (remember them?) Creature Of Habit is a more angular but equally tuneful and expansive slice of atmospheric Indie.

Many have trod this path before (Elbow begat Coldplay who begat Keane and so on) but every now and again the music bucks the trend to move back up the scale. Films Of Colour have a real shot at moving in to a bigger arena both metaphorically and literally speaking. 

Live dates

Summer Breeze Festival, Swindon - 14th July 2012

Saturday, 2 June 2012


MAIGHREAD - Irish Eyes Are Styling

ARTIST - Maighread

FROM – Limerick, Ireland

LINE-UP – Maighread Neligan

FORMED – sometime in the 80s, never ask a lady her age...

The diminutive Maighread has followed the route of many a budding singer-songstress by starting out all acoustic and folky before going down the electro route. But unlike so many others, Maighread creates soulful, meaningful dance music that gets you thinking as well as moving. There are moments when Ms Neligan echoes Alison Goldfrapp’s soulfulness at the same time as mirroring Annie Lennox’s amazing vocal range. There are moments when she transports you back to the raw, cutting edge of 80s electro experimentation and you get that thrill that you imagine people getting the first time they heard Depeche Mode or when they pressed play on that C90 to hear the first strains of the Eurythmics. And then there are moments when Maighread conjures up images of packed Balearic nightclubs singing one tune, dancing to one rhythm and feeling the same emotion.

Tunes like Worth, Sea and the Disco Damage collaboration of In The Beginning show the range that Maighread possesses in terms of style and ability. There’s a subtlety to her voice that betrays her Irish roots and you can still hear the folk singer bursting to come out, no matter how hard the beats or how deep the bass notes. It’s a beautiful mix that Ellie Goulding would kill for and La Roux wouldn’t even recognise if it slapped her in her pasty face. The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a lady to lift your spirits, move your feet and keep your brain ticking over then Maighread is that lady. And then some.   

There aren’t really any collections of Maighread’s material but if you want to dip your toes in some Irish electro water (wow, that sounds painful doesn’t it?) then head on over to her soundcloud page and check out her latest offering, What You Want. It’s a slice of swaggering, attitude filled electrodisco that Lady Gaga would sell her nose for (and boy, what a nose).

Maighread will be appearing at the inaugural Poptronik festival. This is a new electropop festival that promises zero mud but maximum campness (let’s face it, one of the main sponsors is Gaydar Radio fercrissakes!). The festival takes place over the weekend of 1st September in the Catalan beach town of Sitges, Spain (20 minutes from Barcelona) and, apart from Maighread, also features the audio delights Madonna’s pals Kazaky, Scissor Sisters collaborator Sammy Jo and 80’s Toy Soldier hit maker Martika. Sound like a random mix? It probably is but then again, aren’t all the best nights out? More info can be found at; .


Dead Coast - album review

DEAD COAST - Dead Coast


DEAD COAST – DeadCoast

How do you define analbum? Normally you’d expect around 10 to 12 tracks with a few killers and afair amount of filler. So, when I found out that this offering only contained 6tracks I was sceptical to say the least. Until I pressed play. Opening track KalamaroDream conjures up the sensation of walking in to a smoky dive bar in themid-60s to hear the Doors going through the early stages of creating a newsound. In fact, everything about this first offering from the London based fourpiece is steeped in the sound of West Coast America during that golden era ofmusical exploration. Second track is the slightly livelier Just Don’t GiveYourself although it’s lively in a way that a drunk guy is lively once he’s hada little snooze in the corner and then decides that 2.00am is the perfect timeto go bowling. In The Meadow is an expansive, swaggering western tune thatwould sit nicely over a driving scene in a Tarantino film and if they ever do avideo for Why Are We Still Together? then it absolutely has to feature a sultrytemptress sashaying in to a smoke filled Vegas lounge bar and turning everyhead as she goes.

You have to be prettygood these days if you want to ply your musical trade in a genre that has beenfairly widely explored already but what Dead Coast deal in is the creation ofatmospheres and moods. At times, Italian singer and guitarist Luca Bianci’svocals feel too low in the mix and this was irritating to begin with, but onceyou stop trying to listen to the lyrics and start hearing the sound they arecreating then you will get to the core of what Dead Coast are creating. Theexperience of hearing these songs live will give them even greater impact butsince the smoking ban came in the atmosphere won’t be quite right. Maybe take aflare and set it off in the corner. I’m pretty sure it would be encouraged....