Monday, 31 March 2014


Kagoule - Encave 
Kagoule - Encave

Nottingham is a place I've been to a gig in as many times as I've been there. Fact. It's also where noisy upstarts Kagoule hail from. Another fact. This latest single, 'Encave', is a triumph of angular guitar riffs, fuzzy bass lines and powerhouse drums that don't let up. The guitar work delights in its defiance of convention as much as early Biffy Clyro did as the time signatures get ripped up to give preference to creativity and, quite possibly, spontaneity. There is a real lo-fi 90s American feel to this tune which I find hard to resist but am slightly disappointed not to hear either Steve Lamacq or John Peel take a deep breath and then say something like "what a cracking tune" right at the end. I can see Kagoule getting a real cult following and I hope that's backed up with enough commercial success to allow them to keep going and not become bitter office workers who once had a shot.

More information:


Live Dates:

5th April - Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate
17th April - Lock Tavern Festival @ Lock Tavern, London
19th April - Record Store Day @ Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery, Nottingham
25th April - 60 Million Postcards, Bournemouth

1st May - Liverpool Sound City @ Zanzibar, Liverpool


Dream Lake - In The Lights (Niwi Music) 
Dream Lake - In The Lights

Release Date: 31st March 2014

Swedish indie-pop collective Dream Lake have announced their new single with some fanfare surrounding the video in particular. 'In The Lights', as a song, is a light and airy piece of indie-pop with a haunting piano melody and a driving beat both enveloped by ethereal vocals that drift in on the morning mist. There are elements of Ellie Goulding and the lighter moments of Faithless in here as well as a mellower take on the type of dream pop that Swim Deep trade in. The video, by comparison, seems to be an Amelie style snapshot in the day of a relationship between a ridiculously good looking guy and his mood-swing prone girlfriend. I'm sure in the concept there is a whole lot of meaning here but for me the song is better off as an aural treat only.

More information:


The Shy Lips - She Was Born In Bahia 
The Shy Lips - She Was Born In Bahia

Release Date: 11th April 2014

Take a bit of the Beach Boys, a pinch of the Strokes, a soupcon of the Hives and a waft of Grass Show, mix it all together with a Fender and then bake it in an oven built out of the more gang mentality Beatles songs. The resultant cake will sound an awful lot like Sweden's The Shy Lips and their new single 'She Was Born In Bahia', if cakes have a sound, that is. Swaggering vocals, choppy indie guitars and a sense that these 4 guys were more than a little 'merry'  when they recorded this. But that's part of why I absolutely love this single, it's the sense of being part of a gang or collective that's missing from so many bands these days which makes 'She Was Born In Bahia' such a delight. I'd heartily recommend that you get yourself some of this and bounce around your living room with a big, sweaty grin on your face......go on then.

More information:


Stephen Emmer feat. Glen Gregory - Untouchable/A Break In The Weather 
Stephen Emmer - Untouchable

Mr Stephen Emmer is one of those people lurking in the shadows of popular music history and, whilst recognised by those inside the machine, he is perhaps unknown to the rest of use mere mortals. This new release from the Dutch composer and conceptual artist sees him team up with the velvet voiced Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 fame as well as uber-producer Tony Visconti. 'Untouchable' is, essentially, the best James Bond theme that has never been used and would be a triumph with the Gregory's voice lying like a layer of smooth caramel atop a complex layer of Muse-esque orchestral dramatic melodies. The other track here, 'A Break In the Weather', is in a similar vein but it's more the theme for a James Bond that sees the most British of heroes stuck inside on a rainy day in Sheffield while his arch villain taunts him from the living room window across the road. It could be a latter day Pulp song or something by the likes of Baby Bird or Divine Comedy. Either way, this is rich, grandiose stuff with ambition and a sense of the opulent which you would be made to resist.

More information:


Witching Waves - Concrete (Soft Power Records) 

Witching Waves - Concrete
Release Date: 21st April 2014

Now this is what you call lo-fi, underground and raw. Witching Waves are a boy-girl duo from London town who play their instruments like they mean it but I don't think they're entirely sure what they mean. This forthcoming cassette single, 'Concrete', is a must for anyone who loves theirs guitars jangly, their drums basic but brutal and their vocals with a hint of boredom. There are some lovely vocal melodies which are part riot grrrl and part menacing sociopath depending on which of the duo is singing. Not to mention the lovely little false ending the passion with which these guys play their music, like they've had to save up for every note and then stand in line for an hour to collect them.

More information/Listen:

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Tropic Of Youth - Sun City EP (Plastic Fish Records) 
Tropic Of Youth - Sun City EP

Release Date: 7th April 2014

Man, Vampire Weekend have got a lot to answer for. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, it's just that their guitar sound pervades a lot of areas now, including Sheffield indie-pop bands, apparently. Tropic Of Youth are one such band and you only need to get about 10 seconds in to the opening track of this EP, 'Poa Nichizi Kama Ndizi' to hear those guitar influences. Having said that, the next track, 'Hot Season', has a guitar riff that is pure sun-rise stuff and makes you want to stand on a stand on a sun drenched balcony before drinking some freshly squeezed orange juice. Naked. 'You' is a little less sunny and has a Maccabees feel to it as the drums patter in the background and the guitar work takes centre stage again.

Bands like Tropic Of Youth and Swim Deep are ploughing a successful furrow in dreamy, almost nostalgic indie with luscious melodies which are almost impossible to resist. 'We Can', for example, returns to the earlier guitar themes but has that very real feeling of optimism that you get at the end of an engaging film when the main protagonist wins the battle or gets the girl. The final track on this short collection is 'Post Youth' is another more straightforward indie track but with some nice 80s indie overtones that make you think of Simple Minds or the Cure as well as Foals. This is pretty promising stuff from the Steel City quartet and I hope they can get a good summer of gigs under their belt before they lose too much of their innocence and inquisitiveness. Those are the two qualities that make this music so appealing, after all.

More information:

Live Dates:

9th April - Shacklewell Arms, London

18th April - The Plug, Sheffield w/Jaws + The Magic Gang 

Saturday, 29 March 2014


Cold Summer - The Fallen 
Cold Summer -
The Fallen

Ah, you can't beat a good, old fashioned tour video. Cold Summer have been racking up the miles around the UK this February and the video for new single 'The Fallen' features a number of grotty venues, alot of monotonous motorway and a huge amount of audience participation - or lack of audience participation in some of the cases. As for the song, it's an energetic, in your face piece of indie rock that borders on the hardcore end of the spectrum. I say 'borders on' because although the drums are big and the guitars are choppily crunchy there is almost too much melody to call this pure hardcore. Nevertheless, the excellently named front-man Dan Feast is a fine singer-slash-screamer which is what keeps them on that fine borderline. There's a couple more dates to come before the second album gets started on so help them with a better populated video at least and head out to a show soon.

More information:

Live Dates:

20th April - The Riverside, Selby

25th April - The Zombie Hut, Corby


Go Native - Sleep  Patterns (Scruff Of The Neck Records) 
Go Native - Sleep Patterns

Release Date: 5th April 2014

No matter how fast music develops and moves forward, some things will always remain constant; pop music will always be increasingly sexualised, goths will be sorely misunderstood by the mainstream and Manchester will pump out top quality electronic music like a factory line during the industrial revolution. Go Native are the latest to drop off that production line in to the packing box and this EP follows on from their excellent recent single 'Atom Heart'. Starting off with 'Beaten By Butterflies' is a slow burning, slightly sulky record saved by the delicate bleeps and bloops constantly ascending in the background. 'Sleep Patterns' starts off like a remix of Depeche Mode's 'I Just Can't Get Enough' before Nick Toone's smooth, 80s vocals stride in full of confidence and precision. Possibly wearing a grey leather jacket.

There's a really nice 'bedroom music' feel to 'Napoleon' but those live drums give this an extra element of energy that helps the music forge forwards and not get swallowed up by the swathes of synthesized sound. Then follows 'Atom Heart' which I've previously waxed ecstatic about on this here blog before 'Dunes' arrives to go all Delphic on our collective ass and bring a little bit of Ibiza to a grey Spring afternoon. Ironically, final track 'Electric Chair' is full of life and vigour as the beats, basslines and melodies swell to heart pumping crescendo. I like the way these guys are gently building a solid foundation for what is bound to be a glorious career. Count me in.

More information:

Live Dates:

5th April - EP Launch @ Fac251, Manchester
12th April - The Cockpit, Leeds w/The Book Club

30th April - Notting Hill Arts Club, London


WTCHS - Over Kilmer (Sonic Unyon/Out Of Sound/PERDU) 
Wtchs - Over Kilmer

Vowels. There are only five of them but they are massively underrated. I keep looking at WTCHS and thinking "does it stand for something? Is it WATCHES with vowels missing? Or WITCHES?". It's confusing, to say the least, but I'll try not to get bogged down in the details and just give this first single of forthcoming 'It's Not A Cross, It's A Curse!' EP. Both 'Over Kilmer' and the accompanying video are dark, unsettling and menacing pieces of art that dry out the mouth and make you shift in your seat. Buzzsaw guitars produce angular melodies, the bass thrums like a generator in a basement and the distorted, almost undistinguishable screams come from all directions like those that you hear in your nightmares. I'm sure this will make more contextual sense in amongst the rest of the EP but on its own this song is like seeing a lone undertaker walking down the high street on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It stands out and forces you to do a double take which can only be a good thing.

More information:


Live Dates:

4th April - London Fuse Studios, London w/Exit 2012
5th April - TAH w/Sailboats Are White + Thoughts On Air
12th April - Kazoo Fest @ Jimmy Jazz, Guelph

19th June - NXNE

Friday, 28 March 2014


The Vals - Quiet Part Of Town (Unique Records) 
The Vals - Quiet Part Of Town

Release Date: 17th April 2014

Belfast boys the Vals are the kind of band that would have been ten-a-penny in the 90s appearing in a Camden pub one week, Melody Maker the next, then getting signed by a mid-sized label before being dropped after one album and a Japanese tour. But that was then, this is now and the Vals have lasted a good few years already so there's no danger of them going away any time soon. 'Quiet Part Of Town' is Beatles infused with the Lightning Seeds' sense of melancholy and the kind of story telling indie-rock that seems to emanate from large port cities around the United Kingdom. The jittery acoustic strum and rhythm that is seemingly in a rush to get through song gives this single a sense of urgency but some Indian-meets-celctic melodies keep things from sliding towards anything punky. Not the most memorable song in the world but certainly one that keeps your attention for the full three minutes which is no mean feat these days.

More information:

Live Dates:

17th May - International Pop Overthrow Festival @ Cavern Club, Liverpool
22nd/23rd August - Hilden Festival, Lisburn

6th September - Golzheim Festival, Dusseldorf


The Talks - Don't Look Behind You 
The Talks - Don't Look Behind You

Release Date: 28th April 2014

I love a bit of ska, me. It's great fun to dance to and there usually some fun lyrics to sing along to while you skank with a pint in your hand. Kingston-upon-Hull lads The Talks are indie-ska lovers and their new single 'Don't Look Behind You' wears that influence on its sleeve. The problem I have with this particular release, however, is that the keyboard melody sounds a bit like a demented icecream van and the rest of the song sounds like a cross between Space and Hard-Fi which is not something anybody really wants if they're honest with themselves. There are some nice punky vocals and a tight rhythm section but there's nothing else I can really hook in to on this one so I'll just keep this one short but sweet. Over and out.

More information:

Live Dates:

28th March - El Metteko, Brussels
29th March - Supermarkt, Zoersel
3rd April - South Sea, Sheffield
4th April - The Moorings Bar, Aberdeen
5th April - The Steampunk Cafe, Glasgow
6th April - The Citrus Club, Edinburgh
11th April - The Winchester Gate, Salisbury
12th April - Carnabys, Weston Super Mare
13th April - The Hairy Dog, Derby w/Random Hand
15th April - Lady Luck, Canterbury
16th April - Dublin Castle, London
18th April - The Duchess, York w/From The Jamm
19th April - Mfn, Nottingham
24th April - The Leopard, Doncaster
25th April - The Owl Sanctuary, Norwich
1st May - The Piper, Hull
2nd May - The Donkey, Leicester

31st May - Camden Rocks @ The Good Mixer, London


Blast Unit Moscow - Footsteps In The Snow (E Sounds) 
Blast Unit Moscow -
Footsteps In The Snow

I'm not against Pussy Riot by any stretch of the imagination, I think they are standing up for a very good cause in the face of unbelievable ignorance, but I bet there a load of Russian bands who just want to rock out and not have the politics attached to them. Nevertheless, Blast Unit Moscow have adopted a political stance on their new single, 'Footsteps In The Snow', not to mention their video which focuses heavily on the Russian-Ukrainian standoff of recent weeks. On the face of it this is a stomping indie-rock song about your girl walking out on you and following her footsteps through the snow with a steady 4/4 beat ringing in your ears. But this could just as easily be a song about losing the sisterly relationship between Crimea and Ukraine as it walks reluctantly in to the blizzard under the arm of a new Russian lover. Musically speaking, 'Footsteps In The Snow' lifts from bands like U2, the Killers and a softer version of the Foo Fighters but it's the striking video and its timing that is most remarkable here.

More information:


Live Dates:

3rd April - Village Underground, London w/The Milk + New Street Adventure + Mat Format


The Shaker Hymn - The Runaway 
The Shaker Hymn - The Runaway

This new single from Cork lads The Shaker Hymn feels a little bit like falling asleep on the sofa on a Saturday night only to wake up and have to decide whether you want to move or not. There is a warmth to 'The Runaway' which exudes from every inch of the fuzzy guitars, rolling drums and soft drawling vocals like the warmth of a sofa that you've been melting in to for the past few hours in front of a well love movie (let's say Caddy Shack). But at the same time there's an uncomfortable, slightly uneasy feeling in the air caused by the nervous tones to the vocals and anxious guitar solo much like the thought of moving from your warm spot to go to bed. You know you should go to bed as a night on the sofa won't do your back any good but that means moving and probably getting cold. The only thing this song doesn't do is replicate the realisation that you need a pee anyway so you have to get up regardless of what you want to do. Maybe that's on the B-side. Tasty and invigorating staff anyway, sofa analogies aside, which bodes well for the predicted Irish revolution I've mentioned a few times. It's coming people, you heard it here first...

More information:


Vuvuvultures - Arty Party/Song Bot (Energy Snake Records/Cadiz Music Ltd/Universal) 
Vuvuvultures - Arty Party

Release Date: 19th April 2014

These guys have got me a bit baffled. On first impressions, you could look at Harmony, Nicole, Paul and Matt and think "here's a bunch of hipsters from Dalston, let's listen to their soulless art-pop and then wait and see if everyone else likes it before making a decision". But then if you don't look at the people behind the music and just take 'Arty Party' on the combination of noises that it is then you'll get a very different picture. A dirty, guttural, almost primal guitar riff chugs along as all manner of unholy electro noises provide a jittery, nervous melody  that winds in and out of the song. The thumping drums keep hammering away like pistons in some kind of chrome sex machine and then Harmony starts singing about hashtags. It's all kinds of mental, aggressively sexual and has good sense of humour. Oh, and the video has a hidden track/outtakes reel at the end as well. Hipsters are not, they're welcome at my party any time.

More information:


Live Dates:

2nd April - 110 Cafe-Mercoledi Rock City, Perugia
3rd April - Combo Social Club, Florence
4th April - PnBox, Pordenone
5th April - Covo Club, Bologna

19th April - Hammersmith Apollo, London supporting Adam Ant


The Retrospectives - Bittersweet (Tiny Teeth Records) 
The Retrospectives - Bittersweet

I do worry sometimes that bands I review on here will get one good single or EP out and then disappear as the lure of an Assistant Manager job at Asda becomes too strong. So it's nice when bands come round again with another release and another string of dates, just like the Retrospectives. The Sheffield indie-pop trio are back with their latest single 'Bittersweet' which is somewhere between the hugely marketable and accessible songs that McFly bash out and some kind of pop version of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Front-man Tom Galton does a good line in indie vocals but it's the infectious guitar hooks backed up by the bouncing bass line that really sells this track as a lot of fun and guaranteed to make a crowd pogo like it was the height of Britpop within about 20 seconds.

More information:

Live Dates:

30th March - Cockpit 3, Leeds
31st March - Sound Control, Manchester
3rd April - The Diamond, Sutton-in-Ashfield

6th April - Enterprise, London 


Nina - My Mistake (Aztec Records) 
Nina - My Mistake

Berliner Nina is back with a new single and it demands that you get your best sexy dancing moves out from the get-go. The low, synth thrum that opens 'My Mistake' is pure 80s dance bliss but with added 21st century lust. This is the song Madonna wishes Goldfrapp had written for her, just begging to be remixed by Daft Punk or Justice and played all over E4 to advertise beautiful American TV shows. Nina's voice floats seductively over the top of the layers of 80s sounds and you can't help but feel this tune is destined for a remake of a classic film from the decade of neon and hairspray. Maybe over a montage scene. For Weird Science? Nah, they wouldn't touch that....would they?

More information:

Live Dates:

5th April - The Islington, London
3rd May - Heebie Jeebies, Liverpool

14th June - Underbelly, Hoxton


Manuals - In A Clean, Well Lighted Place (Get In To It Records) 
Manuals - In A Clean, Well Lighted Place

Alex and Andy are from Leeds and they are the raw energy behind Manuals. Raw is the operative word here as this is a blast of grungy, distorted, wall-of-noise guitar music that is as rough around the edges as it is full of vitality. The slab of sound that is 'In A Clean, Well Lighted Place' has a heaviness that combines with vulnerability to evoke thoughts of Reuben or My Vitriol in their prime. I do genuinely worry for the future of bass guitarists in rock though if you can make a noise of this size with just guitar and drums. 'A Room Of Our Own' is the other track to feature here and it's something of a slow jam in hardcore terms. The twisted and barely held together guitar notes are kept in motion by the powerhouse drums before the pained and distorted vocals skew out of the speakers. The production quality isn't the best on these songs but these days it's actually quite nice to hear a band who have put more effort in to just creating music they feel passionately about rather than getting to send pitch perfect and smooth. Raw and unaffected stuff which is A.O.K. by me.

More information:


Live Dates:

28th June - The Dog & Parrot, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Monday, 24 March 2014


Cosmo Sheldrake - The Moss (ParadYse/Transgressive Records) 
Cosmo Sheldrake - The Moss

Release Date: 21st April 2014

First things first, bravo to the parents of Cosmo Sheldrake. That is not a name that was ever destined to belong to an accountant or parking attendant. No, Cosmo Sheldrake was always going to be destined for greater things with a name like that and great things are what he is creating. 'The Moss' is a beautiful piece of nonsense-pop in that fine English tradition that has been upheld in recent years by the likes of Lemon Jelly, Jim Noire, Gideon Conn and Gilbert among others. What makes this stand out, however, is the perfect blend of styles as a low slung hip-hop beat mixes with a cornucopia of instrumentation that spans centuries as well as genres. Then there's Sheldrake's smooth vocal delivery that can only have been recorded whilst wearing a bowler hat and no trousers such is the Monty Python vibe of the lyrics and their delivery. Superbly original, delightfully charismatic and sublimely creative - everything I want in an artist I've never heard of before. More please, much more.

More information:

Live Dates:

30th March - VEGA, Copenhagen
31st March - Knust, Hamburg
1st April - Magnet Club, Berlin
3rd April - Gebaude, Cologne
4th April - Rotterdam, Motel Mozaique
5th April - AB Club, Brussels
23rd April - Single Launch @ Sebright Arms, London

24th April - The Green Door Store, Brighton 


Little Matador - Stitch Yourself Up (Fiction Records) 
Little Matador - Stitch Yourself Up

Release Date: 21st April

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. So starts the latest single from dirty rock'n'rollers Little Matador but they ominous beat soon evolves in to a sexy, suave anthem that Alex Turner and co would happily turn up to 11 in their shiny gold jackets. 'Stitch Yourself Up' has a great mix of plodding, menacing verses and a chorus that soars to melodic heights that border on the indie pop of the Killers or Queens Of The Stone Age. There's also a suitably seedy little video to go along with this which makes a lot more sense of the song but that's not necessarily a good'll see what I mean when you watch it. Regardless, this is another stomping song from Little Matador and a good indication that they are far more than a flash in the pan. Catch them on the tour while you can catch them in some nice sized venues.

More information: 

Watch the video:

Live Dates:

27th March - Shepherds Bush Empire, London w/Band Of Skulls
29th March - Rock City, Nottingham
31st March - Boiler Room, Guildford
1st April - The Alexandra, Southampton
2nd April - Waterfront Studio, Norwich
24th April - The Venue, Derby
25th April - Cavern Club, Exeter
26th April - Louisiana, Bristol
29th April - Railway, Winchester
1st May - Sound City, Liverpool
3rd May - Live At Leeds Festival, Leeds

8th-10th May - Q Stage @ The Great Escape, Brighton 


Revere - A Road From A Flood (Albino/V2 Benelux) 
Revere - A Road From A Flood

Release Date: 28th April 2014

If you want to relax and stare out longingly in to the rain then I may have the track you need. London collective Revere return with new single 'A Road From A Flood' which starts as a melancholy lament with influences from the Editors and the National to Nick Cave and Jeff Buckley running through the spirit of the song. And then, two thirds of the way through the drums begin to gather pace like glistening horse that has suddenly started to stop grazing and run around the outside of a dark, still lake. The sweeping strings swerve and dive like a flock of Swallows and that sumptuous low vocal rumbles out from the centre of the song like a roll of thunder on the horizon. This is dark, elemental stuff and even if you are generally having a great day it's worth indulging your dark side for a few minutes just to enjoy everything these guys have to offer.

More information:

Live Dates:

10th April - Album Launch @ The Lexington, London
11th May - Spiegeltent, Brighton w/Gabby Young & Other Animals
13th May - The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
14th May - The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
15th May - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
16th May - The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool

17th May - The Marr's Bar, Worcester

Sunday, 23 March 2014


Nine Black Alps - Supermarket Clothes (Hatch Records) 
Nine Black Alps - Supermarket Clothes

I knew a guy once who used to rave about Nine Black Alps at every opportunity to the point at which I decided I didn't like the band purely on the basis of this annoying habit. Later in life, however, I pulled my head out of my arse and started to form better opinions, one of which was that Nine Black Alps are actually pretty awesome. 'Supermarket Clothes' is an instant and impatient piece of indie-pop noise that will appeal to everyone who likes to jump around without any sense of coordination at indie discos. A choppy, circular riff draws you in and the band then do a bang up job of sounding like Weezer, Sebadoh, Folk Implosion or any number of US indie slacker bands. There's a whole new album on the way and I feel like this song will make even more context in that format but as an opening salvo 'Supermarket Clothes' is a gloriously melodic racket.

Live Dates:

22nd April - Fruit, Hull
23rd April - Rock City Basement, Nottingham
24th April - Live Rooms, Chester
25th April - The Underground, Stoke
26th April - The Hop, Wakefield
28th April - Crauford Arms, Milton Keynes
29th April - The Bowery District, Reading
30th April - The Fleece, Bristol
1st May - The Flapper, Birmingham
2nd May - Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
3rd May - Audio, Glasgow

31st May - Camden Rocks, London


RUFUS - Take Me (Columbia Records) 
RUFUS - Take Me

Release Date: 14th April 2014

My girlfriend would love this tune. And that's not to say I don't but there's not much we see eye to eye on in the world of music so it's always exciting when we find something we can agree on and both enjoy listening to. Aussie trio RUFUS create soulful dance along the lines of Delphic or Disclosure with organic and electronic sounds mingling beautifully together to create one infectious sound. 'Take Me' is a song for summer driving along coast roads in the early evening on your way to a beach party full of beautiful people and good vibes. It's not overly complicated stuff but the trancey melody and chilled out vocals make for addictive listening and, more importantly, 'Take Me' makes you want to move. Job done then.

More Information:

Live Dates:

23rd April - Start The Bus, Bristol
25th April - Temple, Birmingham
26th April - Night & Day, Manchester
27th April - Stereo, Glasgow

29th April - Scala, London


Catfish & The Bottlemen - Kathleen (Communion Records/Island Records) 
Catfish & The Bottlemen - Kathleen

Release Date: 14th April 2014

One of 2014's hottest properties are back with their latest single, 'Kathleen', and this is about all I can take. There is such a thing as too much foreplay before getting down to the actual, well, sex and 4 singles without releasing the album is leaving me in danger of popping my load before I get anywhere near penetration. Too much information? Get over it, prude. Needless to say, 'Kathleen' is full of trademark edgy guitars, crashing drums and frontman Van's impassioned vocals that scream and rasp like a man at the end of his wits. This single is a little lighter and poppier than their previous releases but there is still a mischievous twinkle to proceedings and it won't be long before these guys are causing more problems around the UK and illegitimate children are being named Kathleen. Time for the album now boys, no more teasing. My nipples are red raw.

More information:

Live Dates:

3rd May - Live At Leeds, Leeds
5th May - PJ Molloys, Dunfermline
6th May - Sneakys, Edinburgh
9th May - 02 Academy, Leicester
10th May - Institute Temple, Birmingham
11th May - O2 Academy 2, Oxford
18th May - Boileroom, Guildford
19th May - Joiners, Southampton
20th May - Dingwalls, Southampton
21st May - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
26th May - Cluny, Newcastle
27th May - Westgarth, Middlesborough
28th May - Central Station, Wrexham
29th May - The Victoria Inn, Derby

30th May - Duchess, York


The Franklys - Puppet (Electric Wood Records) 
The Franklys - Puppet

Release Date: 7th April 2014

Bugger. I always try to shy away from using gender as a genre but there is no avoiding the fact that The Franklys consist are an all-girl rock'n'roll band who know their way around their instruments. Why it should matter that they have different body parts to the majority of the rock'n'roll fraternity I don't know but I guess we're not quite 'there' yet as a society. Anyway, regardless of which side the buttons on their shirts are, the Franklys come armed with new single 'Puppet' which is full of dirty guitar riffs, drums that teeter on the edge of control and vocals that almost make the spit fly from the speakers. There's a 50's rock'n'roll feel to the overall song but within that are moments of 21st century indie-rock with big, echo laden guitar solos battling with cutesy handclaps before the repeated refrain of "You never wanted me" is screeched out like the last desperate attack of a wounded and jilted lover on a Saturday night in Camden. Blisteringly impressive stuff and now battling with the September Girls for my favourite all-girl band of the moment. Bugger, I've done it again...

More information:

Live Dates:

2nd April - Single Launch @ The Barfly, London
20th April - Yardlife Festival, London
26th April - The Good Mixer, London
8th May - Roadkill @ Aces & Eights, London
17th June - Artrocker New Blood Festival @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London

8th August - Strawberry Fields Festival, London


Mikey Georgeson & The Civilised Scene - Blood & Brambles (pop-Z) 
Mikey Georgeson & The Civilised Scene - Blood & Brambles

Well here's a man who likes long a long band name. Currently trading under the name Mikey Georgeson & The Civilised Scene, the main man used to be at the helm of David Devant and His Spirit Wife. Names aside, however, here is also a man who likes to make quality music over quantities of music which is a delight when you get down to listening to this album, 'Blood & Brambles'. Proceedings begin with 'Curtains Of Zagra' (no idea) which is a Grinderman-esque tune with wild west overtones and a dangerously seductive baritone vocal atop some sumptuous slide guitar. The waltzing ballad of 'Sometimes' is a beautiful Bowie-esque triumph with a sense of humour that soon bleeds in to the romp and pomp of 'Blackberries' which is something like the Pogues with Nick Cave on vocals but with a defiantly English bent. Oh, and horns. Gorgeous, gorgeous horns blasting out like thick, treacly, sexy custard all over the aforementioned blackberries. That's right, sexy custard. Deal with it.

'Turn For The Worse' is a song for closing time at a bar that's only had two people in it all night and you can almost hear the chairs being turned upside down on the tables and the slop trays being emptied out. Things get a little livelier on 'My Heart Bleeds' though as the seven piece band put their all in to a Divine Comedy sized piece of melancholy indie rock with extra blistering guitars for good measure. There is a child-like quality to 'Level Is Complete' as the guitars and horns ape each other's melodies and that deep, rich vocal comes in like Johnny Cash singing you a funny song to cheer you up after you've scraped your knee (having said that I'm not sure I'd want Johnny Cash on childcare duties). Recent single 'My Heroine' is up next and has a nice mainstream appeal to it as it bobs along with its bouncing rhythm and jaunty melodies although I'm sure the lyrics would have the one dimensional red-tops up in arms.

Being one of my favourite phrases to use whenever my brother makes another bad joke you'd think 'I See What You Did There' would appeal to me and it's not a bad song but I think there are better options elsewhere that sound a little less like Bruch Springsteen trying to cover Pulp. On 'You're Telling Me' the mood shifts a harmonica infused country shuffle but before long 'Briony' begins with an evil cackle and suddenly we're transported to a villainous hall of mirrors with music all around and images of ourselves moving independently of our actions. Rather satisfyingly, the album closes with 'Secrets of Zagra' which returns to the refrain of the opening track to give the album the feel of a TV show that you've tuned in to by mistake but been absolutely captivated by for the best part of an hour. Mikey Georgeson and The Civilised Scene are, I suspect, a project borne more out of a love for creating music than a need to be famous or adored by the masses but if they were to set up a cult and hand our brochures on the high street then I might be tempted to attend a meeting. Just to see who else turned up if nothing else.

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Tom Strasser - Second Thoughts 
Tom Strasser - Second Thoughts

Austria! Welcome to the party. I've been thinking of creating a map to mark off the music I get from all over the world and I don't think Austria has featured before so that would be a new pin. Tom Strasser is the Austrian in question and he has magic fingers - ladies beware, he'd probably be able to unhook your bra as quick as he could click his fingers. You see, throughout this album Strasser employs a finger tapping or hammering guitar style as used by the likes of Newton Faulkner and Jose Gonzalez to create some gorgeous sounding music. Tracks like 'Coffee and Cigarettes', 'One Of These Days' and 'How Do You Know?' show what can be done with an acoustic guitar if you move away from the limitations of strumming and picking. 'Take It All' is another great example of Strasser's abilities as he uses the guitar for both melody and rhythm. The politically charged 'Goldman And It Sucks' is a more melodic tune as the notes run from the guitar like Swallows in an early evening sky.

In a moment of obvious labelling 'Protest Song' does what it says on the tin and gives our hero a chance to flex his social commentary muscles while 'Time To Mind' takes things to a darker place, musically speaking. There are times when you feel the songwriting has been slightly neglected in favour of showing of technical ability as on 'Feel The Flow' which doesn't move from the initial dirge or 'Special Place' which sounds like a song about trying to find the clitoris but is actually a fairly bland, over earnest jazz-lite love song. By the time you reach the closing songs of 'Fallin' To The Sky', 'Sail In To The Sun' and 'Easy Sun' there is no denying that Tom Strasser is a technically gifted guitarist and a passable singer but there aren't really any stand-out songs that you can see the mainstream falling in love with. That's not what everyone is aiming for, however, so in the meantime let's just enjoy some good fingering from a talented Austrian. If you catch my drift...

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Live Dates:

6th April - Online Gig, Worldwide! (

25th April - Vienna, Austria


Edwina & Deko - Berlin Seasons (Monkey Records) 
Edwina & Deko - Berlin Seasons

An Italian and an Australian walk in to a German language class in Berlin and bond over a love of Lennon and McCartney which leads them to form an acoustic folk duo and release an album together. It's no joke. This is the story of how Edwina & Deko came to be and the very good reason that their album is called 'Berlin Seasons'. 'Innocent' is the opening song and it is a real 60s folk protest song complete with eerie whistling and stern lyrics about battles being lost and won. 'Berlin' is more of a soft love letter to the duo's adoptive city while 'Romeo' is a more jaunty, almost busked affair with a tale of ill-conceived love and matriarchal advice woven through the lyrics. Edwina & Deko are not the most technically astounding musicians or singers but what they excel at is the craft of songwriting and storytelling, part of the process that is so often overlooked these days. 'Home' and 'Sunday' are great examples of this ability as the duo share what can only be stories from their past.

The delightfully delicate strum of 'Leo' sees Deko take the lead on the vocals for a change and the sombre tone of autumn in a bleak German city is infused throughout this tune. The smooth, comforting tones of Edwina's vocal style is brought to the fore on 'Black Friday' while 'Josephine' is more of a jaunty tale of infatuation and innocent love. This is a raw collection of songs with very little production but that's the way acoustic folk songs ought to be presented so as not to detract from the important lyrical content that takes more prominence as shown in the story telling beauty of 'On My Way'. As the duo bring proceedings to a close with 'Finally Flow' there is a gentle but melancholy calm that falls over the music which makes me want to stare in to the middle distance of a rainy day but it's all blue skies and sun here so I'll save that one for another day. A fine collection of songs indeed and I would urge you to make a big mug of tea before spending some time getting wrapped up in the stories contained within each one of them.

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Morrissey & Marshall - And So It Began... (Independent Records Limited) 
Morrissey & Marshall - And So It Began...

Release Date: 31st March 2014

Now here's a story you don't hear as often as you used to. Morrissey and Marshall are a pair of Irish lads who left the relative comfort of their native Dublin to chance their arm on the golden streets of London which triggered a period of intensive busking, gigging and eating of baked beans - through necessity not choice. Nevertheless, their passion for the music and will to succeed never waned which finds them with a debut album and a list of impressive support slots including the Magic Numbers and Sinead O'Connor among others. But what of the music, I hear you ask. Let's dive in.

The folk blues stomp of opening track 'And So It Began...' provides the perfect introduction to their twin vocals and rich harmonies that wrap around the music like a warm, velvety scarf. There is a more delicate feel to 'Pack Up, Lady' before the shuffling rhythms kick in and immediately this is a great track for a summer's day drive in the countryside. There is an authentic feel to the music which is perfectly exemplified by the lilting folk beauty of 'Old Tree' and In Need Of Guidance' which starts with a gentle, haunting vibe before building in to full on, impassioned ballad. As you'll see from the cover art, there is very much a good cop/bad cop look to the duo and that reflects in the music as the darkness of 'The Last Four Days' juxtaposes the previous tracks but is no less luscious and richly layered. Although 'You Are Who You Are' sounds like a shrug in a song title, the subtle guitars gives the Irish pair the first real chance to show off their perfectly balanced vocal harmonies and you can't help but think of Simon and Garfunkel who must surely be influences.

There is a serious amount of Paul McCartney infused in to the music and lyrics of 'I've Got A Plan' which is not always a bad thing while  'Song From The Birds' is total Paolo Nutini but with a smoother vocal and more Hammond organ. There then follows a short song under the title 'Mantra' which feels incredibly celtic and should be listened to on a misty morning by the banks of the river Liffey just before you leave for the new world (man, that's seriously stereotyping the Irish isn't it? Sorry guys). 'We Are One' picks up the pace again with a rattling acoustic strum and some simple percussion as the boys beautiful intertwine their vocals once again. Closing song 'High And Low' revisits that Beatles vibe without stumbling in to Oasis territory and, despite a subdued start, ends the album with a rousing rock'n'roll wig out which is never a bad thing. I was going to make a flippant joke about these guys being a collaboration between whinging Mancunian Morrissey and Eminem but that would be doing a disservice to two guys who have worked hard, taken risks and deserve a crack at the big time. If that fails, they should just go on Britains Got Talent and make Simon Cowell's head explode. Maybe do that anyway, whatever happens.

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We Three And The Death Rattle - WTATDR (Paw Purr Records) 
We Three And The Death Rattle - WTATDR

I've been looking forward to this album for a while but it seems to have slipped past me as it was released over a month ago and I've only just noticed! No matter, good things come to those who wait and, even though I didn't realise I was waiting, this is a very good thing indeed. We Three And the Death Rattle go from 0 to 60 in about 2 seconds as 'Down Out And Deep Fried' and 'Hot Neptune' burst in like Sandy at the end of Grease but with a rottweiler as the end of a chain, a pierced tongue and tattoos on her face. What's more, she doesn't care if she gets Danny or not, she just wants to get loaded and start a fight. 'Stitches And Winners' continues at the same pace with Joan Jett guitars and Karen O's vocal sneer before 'Split Lips' snakes in with hypnotic guitar work and chugging drums like a old but reliable factory machine.

For all their cool and swagger, though, WTATDR are defiantly British as lyrics about scrambled eggs and self service checkouts prove. There is scratchy rawness to 'Inpatients' that is reminiscent of how the Long Blondes might have sounded if they'd been more interested in blues rock than disco and the lyrics of "I found God on the bathroom floor" should be written in tipex on the folders of college kids across the country before long. The marvellously name 'Bipolarcoaster' is up next and is full of dirty, swampy guitars battling with electro drones under the sultry, seductive vocals of front-vixen Amy. Stomping recent single 'Alligator' drones in to view with its wild west references before giving way to 'Double Or Quits' which is all Patti Smith cool and rhythmic appeal. The great thing about this trio is that they're not doing anything particularly complex or intricate but the approach to giving the blues a real 21st century facelift and injecting it with raw sex appeal is musical genetic engineering of the highest order.

'Hey Detonator!' demands your attention but if I was to make one criticism it would be that the vocals are a tad too clean and high in the mix - that's like criticising a woman for being too beautiful though, kinda pointless. By the time you get to 'You're My Ammunition' you get a feel for the uncompromising and slightly aggressive tone of this album but the industrial, futuristic tones are of this tune are still a delight as they channel the Black Keys but with a cyborg Beth Ditto on vocal duties. 'Bitten By The Dust' brings the album to a close with frantic beats and a sense that, to use a football analogy, WTATDR wanted to leave everything out on the pitch. My advice to you would be not to wait any more than I already have, got yourself a copy of this album and then go out working on dark streets with it in blaring out in your ears. This is great stomping music.

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Elastic Sleep - Leave You (Big Tea Records/FIFA Records) 
Elastic Sleep - Leave You

Release Date: 31st March 2014

I'm not sure what you call people from Cork. Corkians? Corkish? Corkers? Answers on a postcard please. Whatever you call them, Elastic Sleep are a corking indie-pop combo from the Irish city and their new single, 'Leave You', is a master class in the genre. Lazy drum rhythms, squally guitars and luscious vocals drift from my speakers and mingle with the morning sunshine to put a blissed out tint on the world. Imagine a middle point in a Venn diagram that includes the likes of Dubstar, St Etienne, Tanya Donnelly and anyone you care to mention from the lighter end of the shoegaze spectrum and you're pretty much there. Elastic Sleep are the latest in an encouraging number of Irish bands making a resurgence after a few years of being under the radar and as the climatic guitar chimes ring out on this track you can't help but feel that it's high time we had some new heroes to champion from the emerald isle. Could it be Elastic Sleep? Quite possibly.

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Live Dates:

5th April - The Pavilion, Cork w/Girls Names


NARCS - Coast To Coast/Souvenir (Clue Records) 
NARCS - Coast To Coast/Souvenir

Release Date: 1st April 2014

Regular readers will know of the love LWM has for Clue Records and everything they are doing as a fledgling British label so those readers won't be surprised to hear that I am a huge fan of NARCS and particularly their new double A-side single. Kicking off with 'Coast To Coast', NARCS reaffirm their position as one of the UK's leading purveyors of intelligent, articulate, passionate and infectious indie-rock that falls somewhere between Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro and the Maccabees. 'Souvenir' follows which has more of a blues rock feel but it's the charismatic vocals of frontman Wilko and sinister minor keys that give NARCS the edge over other pretenders to the throne of the young princes.

You can download this single for a minimum of £2 (you can pay more and you should pay more) as you don't just get the two main tracks but you're also treated to three excellent live recordings from sessions at the Leeds College of Music and this is where the band come alive. 'Sandchild' comes first and is an undulating, heavy beast driven by urgent drums and quick-fire guitar work that spits out riffs faster than fingers should reasonably be expected to work. On 'Collisions' NARCS take a slightly more prog-rock approach to things with some explorations of feedback before the weight of a thousand guitars comes crashing through the speakers and Wilko's vocals sneer at you like the voice of the Child Catcher who has diversified and will gladly snatch anyone off the streets if the fee is right. The single finishes up with 'Tall Grass' which, for the first time, shows a more tender side to the quartet as guitar strings are gently plucked and the melodies ripple like water from a melting glacier. Nevertheless, the chime of a soft cymbal suggests something lurking in the shadows and, sure enough, a thudding, nostril flaring beast slowly emerges in the half light before letting out an almighty, blood curdling roar full of crashing cymbals, wall-of-sound guitars and always that persistent bass like a horrible heart beat. NARCS have got it on pretty much all fronts: talent, ideas, imagination, ability, a great band mentality. Kinda makes you sick. I bet their junk is huge as well. Gits.

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Listen/Download Here:

Live Dates:

31st March - The Brudenell, Leeds w/The Witch Hunt
4th April - The Library, Leeds

3rd May - Live At Leeds


Collapse Under The Empire - Stairs To The Redemption (Finaltune Records) 
Collapse Under The Empire -
Stairs To The Redemption 

Release Date: 21st March 2014

What's in a name? It depends of your sphere of reference I suppose but when I first read Collapse Under The Empire's name in the subject line of an email I immediately assumed they would be an incredibly serious, hardcore band from the UK with impossibly angular hair and a huge number of tattoos. What Collapse Under The Empire actually are is a German duo who produce instrumental post-rock of the highest order. So, once I'd stopped judging the book by its cover it was time to give 'Stairs To The Redemption' a spin and get over my naming issues. Now, I may have been influenced by the video slightly on this one but this music does remind slightly of the incidental music on one of those big computer games that people get entirely immersed in. Atmospheric guitars, ominously industrial rhythms, non-descript noises and spooky piano riffs build up to buzz-sawed in half by come crunching sex-string action and crashing drums. As a piece of music, I could see this being used in film to cover a fight scene montage or perhaps as the walk-on music for the likes of Metallica or Muse in a big stadium environment, such is the evocative ambition of the piece. I probably won't be popping it on while I'm making pancakes though, it's just not that kind of tune.

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Watch the video:

Saturday, 22 March 2014


Fabienne - City Of Shadows (Super Recordings) 
Fabienne - City Of Shadows

Release Date: 24th March 2014

This is the debut EP from Bradford born Fabienne but she's already achieved a fair amount to get this far in life. Following an audacious but successful request for an internship at New York's Atlantic Records at the age of 15, Fabienne went on to graduate from LIPA and has now been tipped as one of the 25 under 25 rising stars by the Evening Standard. Those are the facts but what about the music? Well, the music is liquid summer and that's all you really need to know but I'll tell you more, just to be thorough.

Lead track, 'City Of Shadows', has a beautifully soft, late night piano riff which is the perfect foil for Fabienne's super soulful vocal style as she sings of her struggles chasing her dreams in the big city. There are elements of Winehouse to her style but there's also a pleasing 90s feel to this that I haven't heard for a while. 'Sunstroke' is the anthem to be played at top volume in a car with the windows rolled down and your best sunglasses on as Fabienne sings and raps her way through a light, breezy piece of soul-pop. Then comes the new take on the soul standard structure in 'Are We Dead?' which uses that 90s vibe again with a more rousing feel than the previous tracks on this collection. Final track 'Mary Jane and Joseph' is the most relaxed piece here with some Mediterranean guitar plucking and a chilled out beat giving Fabienne room to express herself and freestyle on a song that seems to take in drugs, religion and the Wizard of Oz. I could be wrong though. Anyway, get yourself a copy and the next time the sun comes out you will want to stick this on, turn it up and unleash your inner soul diva with a Mojito in one hand and a fake microphone in the other. I recommend a ketchup bottle or hairbrush.

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Live Dates:

1st April - St Giles in The Field, London w/Bruno Major
2nd May - Sound City, Liverpool

9th May - The Great Escape, Brighton


Francobollo - Steven Hawkins (Moonshiner Records) 
Francobollo - Steven Hawkins

Release Date: 31st March 2014

There are times when you shouldn't look at the ingredients of something and should just concentrate on the end product. For instance, on this new single by Swedish nutjobs Francobollo, we have a song randomly named after some guy 'Steven Hawkins' accompanied by a video that starts off as a prank and starts off as a love story between a man and a brick. That's right, a brick. That all makes sense, however, when you listen to their unhinged, jerky, twitchy indie strewn with handclaps and soft Scandinavian vocals. Then there's the processed beat layered on top and a liberal smattering of whoops. You could liken these guys to Zappa producing Grass Show while Two Door Cinema Club skin up in the next studio but what would be the point? Just listen to the music and, if you regularly lust after building materials, give the video a watch too.


Live Dates:

22nd March - Four Bars @ Dempseys, Cardiff
27th March - Green Door Store, Brighton
28th March - Sebright Arms, London

29th March - Crauford Arms, Milton Keynes


Jungle Doctors - Falling 
Jungle Doctors - Falling

Release Date: 22nd March 2014

There is a video to accompany this latest single from the impossibly young London upstarts Jungle Doctors and I have a problem with the video but I'll come to that in a minute. As a song in its own right, 'Falling' is a perfect little slice of English indie-pop with a bouncing rhythm, jangly guitars, a sickly sweet synth sound and some infectious woo-hooing. It's got summer hit written all over it and will surely be used over various montage pieces on TV this year - everything from the Football League Show to trailers for Made In Chelsea. These guys have talent, that's for sure, but if they're getting advice from someone then they need to stop taking because a) Jungle Doctors is not a good band name and b) the video is ill advised. The premise of the video is let's go in to the studio and film the band recording the song which is fine on paper apart from the fact that when a band is in the studio they only concentrate on getting the notes right so there is little or no performance. What you end up with is five guys gently nodding to their own music whilst wearing headphones and making damn sure they hit the right notes so that they don't have to pay for an extra hour of studio time. Next time, just get 5 high bar stools and do a Boyzone pastiche. At least it'll be funny. To sum up, great song but awful video.

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Live Dates:

5th April - O2 Academy, Birmingham w/The Vibe + Faith + Ego Honey + Daniel Beckett


The Folk - We All Say 
The Folk - We All Say

When I started a band as a teenager the obvious place to look for members was my immediate group of friends. I mean, if you're going to spend months at a time touring the world with these people, they might as well be people you get on with, right? Canadian quintet The Folk have a similar philosophy as they are a group that has formed around friendship and you can kinda tell. From the opening strains and jangles of 'In Silence', the listener is treated to a sound that is not so much separate instruments but more different sounds coming from the same singular source. The delicate introduction to 'Subtle Play' has tones of Belly or Veruca Salt to it but with a slightly more pop-ballad feel that suggest this song could be picked up and polished for the likes of Pink or Kelly Clarkson but it's much more effective in its original, raw form. The Beatles-esque opening to 'So They Say' is a huge indication of the variety of influences and styles that these guys have drawn from, so when the soulful vocal of Sara Bortolon-Vettor kicks in and the band swirl all around in a myriad of time signatures it's a delightfully eclectic twister to be in.

By the time 'Soft Dispute' rolls around, I am quickly falling for The Folk and largely because they keep me guessing between indie, grunge, soul, rock, pop and whatever Alanis Morissette is. 'I'll See You Again' uses those retro keys sounds again but layers on some luscious vocals, intermingling guitars and mixes it all together with a jazzy rock spoon. Then the goalposts get moved again as a grumbling, fuzzed up bass line heralds the arrival of 'Physical Sound' which descends in to a swirling, bluesy, garage rock maelstrom that owes as much to Hendrix and Joplin as it does the White Stripes or the Black Keys. The jaunty, Redd Kross meets the Magic Numbers indie-piano-pop of 'I Care (If You Care)' is an innocent delight while 'Staying Up All Night' is a more introspective, melancholic affair which relies on acoustic guitars and vocals only but still builds in to an eminently satisfying climax. Those jangling, winding guitars are back on 'Deep Space' as The Folk find a point somewhere between 90s dance, Haight-Ashbury and the XX to pitch their tent in. The album finishes up on 'We All Say/Basement Feeling' with that beautiful eclecticism is there for all to see again and that's the great thing about being in a band with real, true friends. Even if there are any egos you are all close enough to deal with them which means there is space for everyone to bring ideas to the table and create something out of a collective mind, heart and soul.

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Listen/Download Here:

Live Dates:

20th March - Clark Hall Pub, Kingston
21st March - Pressed Cafe, Ottawa w/Adverteyes
30th March - Merchant Ale House, Saint Catharines

4th April - Sneaky Dee's, Toronto w/Navy Skies + The Dying Arts + The Keroucs