Friday, 29 July 2016


Michaela May – Lights Out 
Michael May - Lights Out

Release Date: Out Now

So Michaela May is an aspiring Pop Princess in the Taylor Swift mode – fun, sexy and sassy but with a steely edge and at least one eye always on the prize. It’s no surprise, then, that ‘Lights Out’ is a slick, catchy and mainstream friendly slice of sing-a-long pop that will work equally well in nightclubs and open top cars on girl’s nights out. Think bouncy synth melodies, 80s pop guitar notes and vocals that switch from breathless to powerful with the blink of a heavily made up eye. May has all the ingredients for success in the pop world all she needs is that hit that catches the ear and this might just be that hit. Not bad for a girl from the small town of Aberdeen in central Saskatchewan, eh?

Live Dates:

21st August – Poprocket (Michaela May & August Rigo) - The Drake Hotel, Toronto


Me, You & Thomas – Winning Again 
Me, You & Thomas - Winning Again

Release Date: Out Now

Bristol pair Me, You & Thomas are back with the first of a few new songs and ‘Winning Again’ is one of those raw, delicate acoustic songs that makes me want to gather some old friends around have a good old jam. There’s nothing particularly complex or revolutionary about the acoustic strum and vocal melody but it’s the kind of song writing that has long since been the staple of English indie. The harmonies between Rhianna and Joe are sublime (Thomas makes no appearance as far as I can tell) and the middle eight where the guitar almost drops away completely is as intimate as it is powerful. ‘Winning Again’ works as an acoustic amble but could just as easily work with a scuzzily melodic band powering it along as well. No frills, maybe, but there are still chills and thrills to be had here.


Rooney - Washed Away
Rooney – Washed Away (Superball Music) 

Release Date: 29th July 2016

Having only recently been switched on to the marvellous Rooney it was somewhat fortuitous that a brand new album just found its way to me. ‘Washed Away’ is the fourth long player from the band that is essentially a vehicle for the song writing talents of one Robert Schwartzman. Opening with ‘All The Beautiful People’, Schwartzman plays a strong first card with a bouncy, edgy, alt-pop sound thoroughly suited to the American market and destined to be played in the background of a montage on one of those shows where everyone is gorgeous and even the drunks are glamorous (I don’t know what those shows are called because, well, I’m always writing about music). Recent and gorgeous single ‘My Heart Beats 4 U’ is just as wonderfully catchy and chant-able as ever it was with dirty guitars counteracting the saccharine melodies that puts this in Weezer or Fountains of Wayne territory. The strong start is completed by the swaggering ‘Don’t Be A Hero’ which uses a honky-tonk piano and some 80s grooves to great effect in making a song that sounds like Katie Perry doing a weird version of the Beach Boys classic ‘Kokomo’ produced by Brandon Flowers.

As this album settles in to its stride and grows in confidence, ‘Why’ touches down like Squeeze making a comeback via some Strokes inspired material while title track ‘Washed Away’ impresses with its hypnotic, indie-meets-industrial riff and slacker-cool chorus. ‘Time Alone’ is a track made for a happy ending (not that kind, I meant like in a film - you filthy boot-licker) with a sing-a-long chorus melody and plenty of references to the end of an era in the lyrics. That Strokes influence is there again in ‘Do You Have To Go?’ but with more of a punky edge coming out in the stop-start verse guitar riff. There’s no doubt that Schwartzman can put a tune together but it’s the combination of indie nous and pop melodies that makes this such an appealing collection of songs, each one a carefully mixed cocktail of sunshine, regret and lust with a twist of melancholy all served in a glass made from pure optimism (question; would a glass made from pure optimism always be half full? Discuss).
Rooney - aka Robert Schwartzman

Track 8 sees Rooney take on the stylings of Teenage Fanclub and the Mersey Beat bands with ‘Come On Baby’ before getting all 90s West Coast indie on us with ‘Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow’ – albeit 90s West Coast indie with some serious guitar wailing going on. The underlying spirit of lament in these songs comes bubbling up on ‘I Miss You When You’re Gone’ as the spirit of John Lennon at his most mopey rises to the surface. In to the last two tracks and, sadly, there’s an element of the album petering out a little as ‘You’re All I Ever Need’ does little to stand out from the other tracks on the album. ‘Sad But True’ closes things up as a plodding, piano rich affair which is fine as songs go but isn’t the triumphant end to the album we might have hoped for (‘Time Alone’ might have been better placed here). So, all in all a fine album indeed but it would have survived at 10 tracks instead of 12 and I kinda hope that Schwartzman gets some partying in before album number 5 as some of his melodies deserve some good times to go with them.

Live Dates:

16th September – KAABOO Del Mar, Del Mar

Thursday, 28 July 2016


Sophia Danai – Bitter ft. Brevner 
Sophie Danai - Bitter

Release Date: Out Now

Sophia Dinai’s press release openly states that this track is about purging all those negative emotions that come at the end of a relationship that has headed down a toxic pathway. ‘Bitter’ has a mellow guitar melody that broods and twists like the last drop of whisky dripping from the bottle at the end of a long session. Danai’s voice has pop and soul in equal measure and reminds me of the likes of All Saints and Sugababes in their more sultry prime. MC Brevner adds some edge to this classy piece of passive aggressive break up pop but I was already sold by the repeated line of “It’s so bitter going down” sung through clenched teeth and a strong lip curl. There aren’t many pop songs with this much anger and bile in them which makes it stick out in the melee of wannabes but I hope for Danai’s sake that she’s moved on now. Nobody needs that negative energy handing around them long term.

Live Dates:

19th August – Vault Café, Nanaimo
20th August – Ukrainian Centre, Victoria
23rd August – On The Rocks, Kamloops
24th August – Spirit Bar, Kelowna
9th September – Guilt & Co., Vancouver
13th September – Sunset Tavern, Seattle
17th September – Copper Owl, Victoria
21st September – Studio Bar, Toronto
22nd September – Bar Pub St Denis, Montreal
23rd September – Pianos, New York

24th September – Rockwood Music Hall, New York


Taco Hell – Breathe Deeply (Circle House Records) 
Taco Hell - Breathe Deeply EP

Release Date: 12th August 2016

Regular readers will know how much I love a good band name and Nottingham Punks Taco Hell have already put themselves in the driver’s seat for my ‘Band Name of The Year’ Award in December. The quartet have only been together since January but they’ve already bagged themselves a deal with Exeter label Circle House Records who are re-releasing this debut EP. The five track EP opens up with ‘Joe Shocks the Band’, a furious two minutes of punky, bouncy fun that sets out the band’s stall and boy do they mean business. ‘High 2.2’ is up next and it’s a thoroughly British slice of garage-punk lamenting the waste of time spent studying towards something, anything really, in the hope of a future, of a direction.

The rawness and energy will surely appeal to devotees of Steve Lamacq’s playlists and would have certainly got John Peel excited back in the day. ‘Bendy’ is a slightly mellower affair as singer Joe Booker wails “Don’t walk out on me, I’ve got something to ask you” over clashing and jangling guitars. ‘Audrey’ is my favourite track on this collection with its heavy rhythm section and gang mentality played out through rough edged vocal harmonies. The EP closes with ‘Breathe Deeply’ which, at six minutes long, is virtually prog-rock for these guys and has a more considered approach as the song builds its shoegazey, My Bloody Valentine wall of noise just to deliver the devastating singular vocal of “All I know is that I don’t want to go, Breathe deeply with me”. Taco Hell might not be as whimsical as their

Live Dates:

12th August – JT Soar, Nottingham w/Happy Accidents + Austeros + Sun>Moon
19th August – Santiago’s, Leeds w/Splitsville + Middle Distance + Jaded
20th September – JT Soar, Nottingham w/The Tuts + Crywank
28th September – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham w/The Tuts + Happy Accidents

2nd October – JT Soar, Nottingham w/Dowsing + Ratboys


Wildwood Kin – Warrior Daughter 
Wildwood Kin - Warrior Daughter

Release Date: 2nd September 2016

It took me so long to finally see these talented ladies live but I’ve been in love with their music ever since that wondrous night. So, I was excited beyond words to hear that the Exeter trio had a new single coming out and that single is ‘Warrior Daughter’. Excited? You should be. The furious acoustic guitars and nearly-Spanish hand clapped rhythms provide the perfect spiky platform upon which to pour the beautiful three-part harmonies that Meghann, Beth and Emilie produce. What really excites me about this single is the step up it takes from their previous material. Sure, the First Aid Kit meets Sound of the Sirens acoustic-folk-pop stylings are still there for all to see but there’s a harder, steelier edge in there that is reminiscent of Brother & Bones at their feisty best. Then, as the song builds to a chaotic crescendo, you can’t help but imagine fans of artists like Passenger getting switched on to these three, especially if some savvy DJ did a powerful dance remix of this tune to get it out to a wider audience. In the meantime, Wildwood Kin are taking their powerful mix of melodies and rhythms all around the country so there’s no excuse not to catch them now and, trust me, you won’t regret it.

Live Dates:

3rd August – Sidmouth Folk Festival, Sidmouth
10th August – Creation Fest, Wadebridge
12th August – The Electric Circus, Edinburgh
13th August – The Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow
14th August – The Cluny, Newcastle
15th August – The Brudenell Social Rooms, Leeds
16th August – The Deaf Institute, Manchester
17th August – Bush Hall, London
19th August – Beautiful Days Festival, Ottery St. Mary
26th August – The Plough Arts Centre, Torrington
4th September – Abbey Days, Torquay
9th September – Regal Theatre, Reduth
16th September – Derby Cathedral, Derby
18th September – Drill Hall, Lincoln
19th September – Kings Place, London
20th September – St Mary in the Castle, Hastings
21st September – Westgate Hall, Canterbury
22nd September – St Peter and the Holy Apostles, Plymouth
23rd September – The Factory, Barnstaple
24th September – Looe Festival, Looe
8th November - RNCM, Manchester
9th November – Town Hall, Cheltenham
10th November – Bridport Electric Palace, Bridport
11th November – New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
12th November – Octagon Theatre, Yeovil
13th November – Corn Exchange, Kings Lynn
30th November – Corn Exchange, Cambridge
1st December – St George’s Church, Brighton
2nd December – Town Hall, Birmingham
3rd December – Derngate, Northampton
4th December – Town Hall, Oxford
6th December – Philharmonic, Liverpool
7th December – Sage, Gateshead
8th December – Winding Wheel, Chesterfield
9th December – Colston Hall, Bristol
10th December – St. Mary’s Church, Ashford
11th December – Open, Norwich
13th December – Union Chapel, London
14th December – G Live, Guildford
15th December – Theatre, Malvern
16th December – Lighthouse, Poole
17th December – Cathedral, Exeter

18th December – Arts Centre, Warwick

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Xam Volo – Down 
Xam Volo - Down

Release Date: Out Now

Unusually, Xam Volo has moved away from his native London to pursue his music in the historically significant city of Liverpool – a bold move indeed but one that has borne fruit already. ‘Down’ is the new single from the talented artist and it’s something a little bit special. The woozy, slightly unnerving opening meander of vocal harmonies catches your attention before Volo’s smooth, soulful tones slide in on a thoroughly waxed floor in a tuxedo. The jazz-meets-soul vibe is ultra-cool and throbbing piano, skittish beats and vocal harmonies are of the highest order. This kind of tune with this level of song writing and this perfect production quality could easily fit in to the mainstream if the mainstream could open up its mind a little take a listen around once in a while. In the meantime, however, Xam Volo can just be our little secret, yeah?


Feels – Roadkill 
Feels - Roadkill

Release Date: Out Now

Look at this pair of nut-jobs, bonkers huh? Well, this is what the kids in Helsinki are wearing these days if this Finnish duo are anything to go by. Feels are here with their new single, ‘Roadkill’, and its pretty gorgeous stuff if I’m honest. There’s a harshly raw beat and some roaming, ambient synths but then it kicks in to full on 80s pop mode for the chorus. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on their sound it switches again so one minute it’s Bat for Lashes, then it’s a Whitney Houston backing track and then it veers off in to Florence + The Machine messing about in the studio territory. Feels have that undefinable Scandinavian quality that always brings a touch of class and cool to proceedings but even if you scrape that away you’re still left with a quality pop song.

12th August – Flow Festival, Helsinki

Thursday, 21 July 2016


Cheese Finger Brown – Low Down People (Humu Records) 
Cheese Finger Brown - Low Down People

Release Date: Out Now

Right, first things first, Cheese Finger Brown sounds awful as a name. It sounds like the kind of nickname they would give a kid from high school who gets caught sticking cheese up his ass in the toilets. Anyway, Cheese Finger Brown is Dutch so maybe there’s a different meaning over there and at least he’s not called Meatloaf. So, this new single, ‘Low Down People’, is a gloriously and appropriately low down bluesy ramble with every string vibration and intake of breath recorded for posterity. This sounds like the music I used to hear my dad playing when he was in a really good mood, the kind of music that used to be recorded in booths with a month’s wages and cut straight to vinyl only to launch the career of a legend. What we have here is a Dutchman who can make a guitar sing like John Lee Hooker and has the blues so bad it makes his voice distorted. There’s a full album to follow in September but in the meantime I’d pour yourself a bourbon and let this wash over you (sit on a porch if you have one, for added flavour).


Ignis Amare – The Genesis EP 
Ignis Amare - The Genesis EP

Release Date: Out Now

Ignis Amare is the nom-de-plume of 19 year-old Cambridge lad Rafik Daaya who professes to make minimalistic alternative-electro music which is impressive as all I could make at the age of 19 was a passible Spaghetti Bolognaise and a decent cuppa. In all seriousness, I’m pleased to get some music from the more tender end of the age spectrum as the internet’s main positive contribution to the music world has surely been to open up possibilities to people of all ages, backgrounds and scenes. This four track EP opens up with ‘Genesis’ and the sound of alien insects emerging from mechanical undergrowth in to a swamp made of low synth notes and a sense of foreboding. There’s a feel of early Depeche Mode about this with the aforementioned minimalism and slightly gothic overtones coming to the fore.

‘Dive In’ starts with more of a flutter, a panicked heartbeat of a rhythm and some chunky percussive moments before fluttering notes and basement-dark vocals emerge talking in tongues and making a mockery of the idea of ‘pop’. This is not music for the easy listening crew but if you, like me, spent your teenage years drifting off to sleep listening to extended rare mixes played by John Peel then this will have you feeling pretty excited. On ‘City of God’ Ignis Amare gets all Aphex Twin on our asses with an aggressive opening sweep followed by some heavenly tones that soon blend in to something approaching a club tune – albeit the kind of club that Noel Fielding would imagine up after a week-long Absinthe bender on his own in an igloo. Closing up with the peacefully beautiful ‘Revelations’ (there’s a definite religious them here), Ignis Amare cements his new found reputation as an uncompromising but worthwhile listen. Like very dark chocolate or fine wine this is not music for binging on but every now and again it’s good to try something that challenges and awakens the taste buds.


The Lottery Winners – Young Love (Sire/Warner Brothers) 
The Lottery Winners - Young Love 

Release Date: Out Now

I’m sure I’ve used this story but I’m so chuffed for these guys that I’m going to use it again. The first time I heard these guys play I was setting up to DJ at a friend’s wedding in Halifax and they were whipping through the tightest set of covers I’ve ever heard. Now, years later, they’ve just signed to Warner Brothers imprint Sire and all that hard work and relentless pub gigging around the Northwest of the UK has paid off. This latest release is, I guess, a celebratory anthem of this new found success so dive in to ‘Young Love’ with all the carefree abandon of someone who has just realised their dreams. Starting out like something from Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ era, this soon slips in to the band’s trademark slick indie-pop with a sugary tinge. There is a touch of the Magic Numbers or the Beautiful South about these guys but with way more confidence and hooks aplenty so it’s no surprise they’ve been snapped up by a major with the potential to make something of their song writing ability as well as their songs. Expect big things of the Lottery Winners even if it’s through some sort of ‘Valerie’ style hit like the Zutons had via Winehouse or, better still, on their own terms.

Live Dates:

18th September – The Loft @ The Arts Club, Liverpool
19th September – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
20th September – Glee, Cardiff
21st September – Moles, Bath
22nd September – Golden Lion, Bristol
23rd September – Stereo, Glasgow
24th September – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
25th September – Joiners, Southampton
26th September – Hope & Ruin, Brighton
27th September – Black Heart, London
28th September – Glee, Nottingham
29th September – Donkey, Leicester
2nd October – Oporto, Leeds
3rd October – Fibbers, York
4th October – Cluny, Newcastle

6th October – Academy 3, Manchester


Beaty Heart – Raw Gold (NUA Entertainment) 
Beaty Heart - Raw Gold

Release Date: Out Now

South London might be where all of Beaty Heart’s bank statements are sent but the trio are truly citizens of the world and that comes through in everything they do. Ahead of a new album, this single – the evocatively titled ‘Raw Gold’ – drops on us like some kind of beautiful mongrel creature descending from the sky. There are some Asian and middle eastern flecks to the melodies, some West Coast chill mixed with some East Coast club cool and a southern hemisphere vibe that is all about that moment when the sunlight just gives out on you. Think Hot Chip but way more relaxed about things or Boards of Canada on a night out and you’re heading in the right direction. The video of Brazilian long-boarder Ana Maria Suzano flows and weaves perfectly with the music as well which makes this one tasty multicultural package. Perfect for a summer underlined by division and borders. Come together and party, good people.

Live Dates:

29th July – Leefest, Kent
30th July – Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle
19th August – Pukkelpop, Hasselt
20th August – Dockville, Hamburg
10th September – Bestival, Isle Of Wight
14th September – Great Scott, Boston w/Beach Baby
16th September – Beat Kitchen, Chicago, w/Beach Baby
21st September – The Sunset at Sunset Tavern, Seattle w/Beach Baby
26th September – DC9 Nightclub, Washington w/Beach Baby
27th September – Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia w/Bach Baby
6th October – The Bussey Building/CLF Art Centre, London
7th October – Deaf Institute, Manchester
8th October – Paradiso, Amsterdam
10th October – Lille VEGA, Copenhagen
11th October – Berghain Kantine, Berlin
12th October – Yuca, Cologne
14th October – Chelsea, Vienna

15th October – Neo, Zurich

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


Roosevelt – Fever (Greco-Roman/City Slang Records) 
Roosevelt - Fever

Release Date: Out Now

Just to get this out of the way, the press shot for this latest single by Marius ‘Roosevelt’ Lauber doesn’t exactly scream ‘woohoo party fun time’ but I’ve heard good things so I’m willing to give it a go. From about half a second in you know this isn’t going to be a morbid slouch-fest. No, ‘Fever’ has Now That’s What I Call Summer written all over it with its mix of Calvin Harris, Above & Beyond and Klangkarussell ready made for crowd pleasing fun. Bouncing synths, punchy beats and laid back vocals are the perfect mix of ingredients for an Ibiza smash to make the late afternoon pool parties go with a bounce and a jiggle. And maybe a wink or two.

Live Dates:

23rd July – Musik, Lejet
28th July Appletree Garden Festival, Germany
29th July – Stuttgart Festival, Stuttgart
1st August – Obonjan Island, Croatia
19th August – Lowlands Festival, Netherlands
31st August – Pop Kultur, Berlin
8th September – Bestival, Isle Of Wight

18th September – Golden Leaves, Darmstadt


Lissie – Wild West 
Lissie - Wild West

Release Date: Out Now

Rock Island’s favourite daughter is back with a new album but ahead of that comes ‘Wild West’ and, don’t worry, it’s got nothing to do with Will Smith. The dreamy, blissed out opening bars are so suited to that point when the sun has just gone down on a summer’s evening and that pink sky gives you all the promise that only open spaces can. The relentless but subtle rhythmic stomp coupled with some expansive melodies and Lissie’s powerhouse vocals just grab you by the optimism and lift you up to make you want to spin around on a beach next to a roaring bonfire. Lissie is one of those artists who will probably never make the heights of mega-stardom but she’ll be perfectly happy and successful writing epic tunes like this and performing to adoring crowds at beach festivals and sweaty venues. She’s a star in my eyes and my ears so if you haven’t discovered Lissie yet then you really should catch up.

Live Dates:

29th November – Old Fruit Market, Glasgow
30th November – Academy 2, Manchester
1st December – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
3rd December – O2 Institute 2, Birmingham
4th December – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
6th December – Koko, London
7th December – Concorde 2, Brighton

8th December – Waterfront, Norwich


Stables – Meet You (Circashaw Records) 
Stables - Meet You

Release Date: 22nd July 2016

Matthew Lowe and Daniel Trenholme may sound like a pair of Victorian entrepreneurs who aren’t appreciated in their life time (trust me, I’ve time travelled…. I had a gap year) but when they combine as Stables they make sweet, sweet music together (not like that). The delicately forlorn opening notes of ‘Meet You’ soon get swept away by some up-tempo, dare I say jaunty, acoustic strumming and the kind of pleasingly gentle yet gravelly vocals that made Mumford his millions. The US lo-fi film budget market should be on standby to snap this up for the next Michael Cera film just in case there’s a montage about a mundane routine (let’s face it, there always is) but in the meantime there is a lovely little video that focuses heavily on the legs – an underrated body part in music videos – and made me feel slightly nauseous from motion sickness by the time it reached its inevitably romantic conclusion. If legs can be romantic.

Live Dates:

30th July – Leefest: The Neverland, London
18th August – The Lexington, London
23rd August – The Castle, Manchester
24th August – Actress & Bishop, Birmingham
26th August – The Green Door Store, Brighton

27th August – Café Kino, Bristol


Soffia Bjorg – I Lie 
Soffia Bjorg - I Lie

Release Date: Out Now

Iceland, as a nation, seem to do things in terms of quality rather than quantity and that certainly applies to this debut release from the diminutive Soffia Bjorg. The punky garage riff behind ‘I Lie’ is somewhere between Graham Coxon, the Strokes and the Breeders which is an infectious place to be as the chorus melody bounces around just the way the indie disco ordered. Bjorg’s voice has a 70s quality to it as she switches from almost apologetic verses to defiant, lip curling choruses with the help of a shouting choir. If Soffia isn’t performing somewhere in a tent at Glastonbury next year then someone at the BBC isn’t doing their job and Michael Eavis will be gutted to have missed out. Soffia Bjorg is ready to come in out of the cold so step aside, losers.

Live Dates:

23rd July – Braeoslan 2016, Borgarfijorour Eystri

2nd November – Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik


BeX – Time To Stop The Rain  (PRB Media) 
BeX - Time To Stop The Rain

Release Date: 15th August 2016

A tight little drum riff and some slide guitar kicks this tune off and you just know this means business. Isle of Wight resident BeX has a debut single in the shape of ‘Time To Stop The Rain’ and as statements of intent go, this is pretty impressive. It’s a bit country, a bit pop, a bit rock and a lot catchy. If you took the melodies of the Corrs, the defiance of Kelly Clarkson or Pink! and the rock-pop nous of Feeder then you’d come pretty close to what BeX is offering here and at just under three minutes long this is a neatly packaged slice of up tempo, post breakup pop that should be sung by women in clubs the world over once they’ve got rid of that loser boyfriend who couldn’t hold down a job and always left the toilet seat up. You’re better than that! You go girl.

Live Dates:

16th August – The Bedford, London


Rivita – Silent Nights 
Rivita - Silent Nights

Release Date: 22nd July 2016

I don’t get many submissions from India (off the top of my head, this is the first) so this latest release from New Delhi diva Rivita piqued my interest immediately. As a graduate of BIMM you would expect a certain level of professionalism and ‘Silent Nights’ doesn’t disappoint on that front with some slick production and plenty of delay on the acoustic guitar notes. The squelchy synth notes and Rivita’s breathy vocal give this a slightly 80s feel and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but I’m still waiting for this song to kick in properly. There’s no big payoff to the low key verses which is a shame as it feels like this song could be building up to something but it never quite gets there. Solid enough stuff, then, but solid isn’t really a word you want to associate with pop music these days, is it? A few more risks and a bit more experimentation wouldn’t do Rivita’s music any harm if she wants to take things to the next level.

Watch The Video:

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


CaveMouth – Who’s Pulling the Strings? 
CaveMouth - Who's Pulling The Strings?

Release Date: Out Now

A hot day like today (in the UK anyway) needs some special music to make the air that little bit more electric to trigger a thunder storm of sorts. Devon Alt-Blues combo CaveMouth are that special music and new single ‘Who’s Pulling the Strings?’ is a snarling, shirt ripping and chest beating beast of a song ready to take to the moors and howl at a blood moon. The guitars swirl, the drums pound and the saxophone (that’s right, saxophone) get the funky blues vibe going before the half rapped, half ranted vocals come popping out with a real sense of anger and frustration. I’m struggling to think of someone to compare this to you for your ease of access but the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Mudhoney meets Rage Against The Machine doing Jazz only covers about 62% of it. Genuinely refreshing and unique music with a cracking video to go with it.

Live Dates:

23rd July – Chagstock, Devon
30th July – Sidmouth Folk Festival, Sidmouth
13th August – Festival of R’n’B, Radford Mill

Monday, 18 July 2016


Berries – Siren 
Berries - Siren

Release Date: Out Now

5 seconds. 5 seconds is all it took for me to get the hots for this track. Not even long enough to read the accompanying email. London trio Berries’ new single has one of those guitar hooks that just grabs you straight away and this first listen of ‘Siren’ has grabbed me in the same way that ‘Cannonball’ by the Breeders did back in the day. The circular guitar riff is hypnotic but the rumbling drums and rolling bass line keeps you from falling completely the spell of these three sirens and their respective calls. Three part vocal harmonies from the temptresses add an element of slickness to this otherwise raw and grungy piece of gorgeousness. Some serious licks in the guitar solo followed by the kind of breakdown that feels like Young Knives meets Reuben and you can consider my ship well and truly wrecked. Oh and there’s a bass solo as well as a fade out ending, I could be in love. Keep an eye out for Berries (aka Holly, Lucie and Lauren) as I suspect they’ll be on the lips of tipsters the world over before too long. Myself included.

Live Dates:

22nd July – Welcome To The Monkey House @ The Black Heart w/Sisteray + The Barratts + Public Service TV (DJ set)


Prophets of Rage – Prophets of Rage
Prophets of Rage - six angry men

Release Date: Out Now

So the idea was this; take some members of Cypress Hill, Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy, check they’ve been paying attention to the last few months of global carnage and press record. The result of that idea is this eponymous debut single from the angriest of all the super groups, Prophets of Rage. The siren and rifle drums that get things going are pure RATM but man it’s good to have them back. Now, throw in the smooth rap stylings of Chuck B and B-Real and you’ve got a tune. Those trademark Morello guitars squeal and strain through the verses before they get seriously chunky in that fist pumping verse and Tim Commerford’s bass is as snarling and grinding as ever it was. It’s hard not to get lost in the gloriousness of this tune but you must remember these guys have a message for you – the world, particularly their American back yard, is seriously fucked up right now and we all need to get angry about it. Prophets of Rage have their crosshairs aimed at Trump and everything wrong with the looming post-Obama world, Make America Rage Again; now that’s a slogan.

Live Dates:

19th July – Agora, Cleveland
19th August – EagleBank Arena, Fairfax
20th August – BB&T Pavilion, Camden
21st August – Xfinity Center, Mansfield
23rd August – Bell Centre, Montreal
24th August – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
26th August – PNC Banks Center, Holmdel
27th August – Barclays Center, Brooklyn
28th August – Mohegan Sun, Uncasville
30th August – Centre Videotron, Quebec

1st September – DTE Energy Music Theatre


Narcs – A Thinking Animal (Clue Records) 
Narcs - A Thinking Animal

Release Date: Out Now

Regular readers of LWM will know just how awesome and important I think Leeds quartet Narcs are at the moment and this, their second album, comes just at the right time. ‘A Thinking Animal’ is an album full of anger, outrage, despair and beautifully worded straight talking so grab a copy of the most recent newspaper, read it all and then put this album on to get you fired up to do something about the state the world is in right now.

Don’t let the softly spoken opening to ‘Drains’ fool you, this is just the final murmurings of a man about to lose his rag with the world as charismatic frontman Wilko spits, screams and projects-bile atop some of the tightest and most impassioned musicianship you’re likely to find anywhere on this godforsaken planet. Recent single ‘Pig’ opens like something straight out of the Rage Against The Machine or Muse back catalogues with strained guitar notes and a sinister grumble in the background before exploding in the kind of chorus that, by rights, should see armies of adoring fans lose their shit in sweaty venues all over the country. The single, rumbling, monotone bass note that runs through ‘RAUS!’ is possibly the most threatening thing I’ve heard in music and it perfectly mirrors the underlying bigotry, xenophobia and hatred currently bubbling just beneath the surface of an entirely un-United Kingdom. When the chorus screams of “RAUS! RAUS!” (literally ‘get out’ in German) finally hit your ears it’s almost a relief, such is the build-up of tension, pressure and general agitation. It’s as masterful as it is terrifying.

The wondrous ‘Bullingdon Boys’ has been covered on this blog before in all of its lyrical beauty but needless to say it stands up in the format of an album track just as well as does on its lonesome – Tories beware if this ever gets play listed on Radio 1 (unlikely but still, don’t think hiding behind a woman who once went to a comprehensive is going to save you). ‘Mile Die’ has the kind of angular, rhythmic appeal that System Of A Down and At The Drive-In excel in but with the weight of RATM or Deftones in their prime but with a very definite Leeds accent. By the time we reach the middle point of the album, ‘Head Boy Sonnet’, your ears have just about adjusted but very little can you prepare you for the distortion infused onslaught which changes tempo and direction like a Brexit voter changes their mind.

Narcs - get angry
One of the most endearing things about Narcs is their enthralling, engaging and, at times, educating lyrics and ‘Empathy The Dog’ is a great example of this. With the Pixies inspired bass line swagger grunging the place up and some sparse guitar notes pinging about, Wilko croons through a razor blade “Every day I pray for civil war, for that moment I can nail your fucking head to the floor” and “Money is the mother, empathy the dog”. The beautifully cacophonous crescendo is Reuben-esque and it’s hard not to get swept up in their grind and swirl so don’t even try to resist, it’s futile. The tinny, mechanical rhythm that opens up ‘Soak’ is almost cleansing in its simplicity and this is possibly the album’s calmest moment as something more akin to the Maccabees or Foals emerges from the intermingling guitars and waltz rhythm. ‘Swinehound’ returns normal service though with a menacing riff and pounding drums that are stadium ready in the way that Muse love to full a space with noise while Wilko screams for millions of us “You don’t speak for me; you don’t speak for me!”.

As the album nears its terrifying conclusion, ‘I Told You I Was Ill’ screams in to view with an assured swagger and yet again an enormous bass sound powering the whole tune before descending in to the kind of chaotic jam ending that would give Queens Of The Stoneage nightmares. Closing song, ‘Pilot Light’ has the sinister, sombre air of the soundtrack to someone’s final minutes in the family home lit by the early dawn light before going off to perform some action that is required to quieten their raging soul. However, at seven minutes long this beast isn’t so straightforward and a cinematic, super-sized tune emerges like Martin Sheen from the mud with an inevitable, bloody conclusion in its eyes.

There are two things to consider with this album, with Narcs as a band in fact. Firstly, the musicianship, the songwriting, the lyricism and the whole craft is first class. They are the real deal, the whole package and they are genuinely one of my favourite bands of all time which makes me excited because not many bands make it on to that list these days. Secondly, Narcs are pissed. Angry. Raging. Whatever you want to call it, Narcs aren’t happy about the state of the world but more specifically UK politics and what it’s doing to people. I don’t think they care about what’s happening to our ‘once great country’ or anything like that, it’s what is happening to the forgotten masses while the privileged few fight for who gets to hold the least shitty end of the shitty stick in Westminster. Narcs want you to stand up and find your voice but if you can’t do that then listen to ‘A Thinking Animal’ and, at the very least, hear theirs. It’s loud and it speaks a whole lot of sense.

Live Dates:

23rd July – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
6th August – Humber Street Sesh, Hull w/Life + Vulgarians + Weirds + Allusondrugs
14th October – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds w/Kerbdog
15th October – The Boston Music Room, London w/Kerbdog

16th October – The Globe, Cardiff w/Kerbdog

Sunday, 17 July 2016


The SoapGirls – Bad Bitch 

Release Date: Out Now

South African duo The SoapGirls are now based in the UK and touring this small island with nothing but a couple of guitars and some songs. And I when I say nothing I mean nothing almost literally as these ladies seem to find wearing clothes inhibits their musical performance but not in a Eurotrash kinda way, I can assure you. New single ‘Bad Bitch’ was apparently written after an episode of sexually motivated abuse and that emotionally charged experience gave them the motivation they needed to write this tune. Musically, this is punk-rock with LA spirit like Buckcherry in high-heels but with the alt-pop sneer of Shampoo or Joan Jett which makes it all the more appealing. Sure, this isn’t the most original stuff out there at the moment but it’s hard to resist some good, honest, dirty rock’n’roll with some quality vocal harmonies and a heavy dose of genuine anger slathered over the top. I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest this pair tear it up on the live stage as well so get out there and catch them at a show if you can.
Live Dates:
21st July – The Haygate, Wellington
22nd July – Riflemans, Glastonbury
23rd July – The Albion, Liskeard
24th July – The Underground, Plymouth
29th July – The Blazing Rag, Ashton-Under-Lyne
30th July – The Crown, Bristol
31st July – New Crown Inn, Merthyr Tydfil
4th August – Surya, London
6th August – The Krazyhouse, Liverpool
12th August – Fox & Goose, Southport
14th August – The Joiners, Southampton
20th August – Eagle Inn, Manchester

10th September – Café Pitcher, Haarlem 


Daisy Victoria – Animal Lover 
Daisy Victoria - Animal Lover

Release Date: Out Now

I know precious little about Daisy Victoria other than that she’s turning a lot of heads for her musical ability and is the hot new thing in London town. Before new single ‘Animal Lover’ has reached half a minute you can see why people are clamouring over her as that mix of PJ Harvey, Florence Welch, Belly and Pixies weaves together like some glorious, vivid tapestry. Daisy Victoria wrings the notes out of her guitar and her vocal chords with passion and purpose but holds tightly on to the bucking bronco of melody throughout it all. As I said, I know precious little about Daisy Victoria but I think there’s a chance that the likes of BBC 6Music and the UK festival scene will grow to love her and that love will propel her to great things. Really great things.

Live Dates:

9th August – Birthdays, London w/Amaroun (Free Entry)


Maccie – High (Culvert Records) 
Maccie - High

Release Date: Out Now

Toronto popstress Maccie has a short but impeccable list of influence that reads; Beyonce, Ray Charles, Etta James and Michael Jackson. Kinda makes you want to listen to her, non? This debut single, ‘High’, certainly has the soulful groove of her influencers and just before the minute mark it kicks in with Beyone’s attitude as the brooding synths and guitars are lifted up by a big beat dropping in. Vocally, Maccie is more on the pop side of things and there is a sense of fierce, defiant passion in there but I would like to hear more of her range before making a final session as it all sounds quite middle to top endy. Nevertheless, a sassy pop single with a bit of edge and attitude is never a bad thing and this is certainly no bad thing.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


Saint Agnes – Sister Electric 
Saint Agnes - Sister Electric

Release Date: Out Now

If you haven’t experienced the wonderful Saint Agnes by now, then you really haven’t been paying attention, have you? I mean seriously, there aren’t many bands I’ve banged on about as much as these guys. Anyway, here’s another chance as new single/video ‘Sister Electric’ hits the airwaves for your delectation. Big pounding rhythms, guitars with more slide than a 70s waterpark and sultry vocals courtesy of fabulous Kitty are the order of the day and the portions are plentiful. In parts this is the Dead Weather, Electric Six, Boss Hogg and the soundtrack to a Tim Burton remake of the Addams Family starring Miley Cyrus as Wednesday and Alice Cooper as Morticia. Saint Agnes are a real force all wrapped up in scuzz, distortion and primal, guttural yelps which is, let’s face it, something we all need right now. You’re welcome.

Live Dates:

15th-16th October – Hackney Wonderland 2016, London w/Mystery Jets + We Are Scientists + Swim Deep.


Angie – Smoke Weed Eat Pussy 
Angie - Smoke Weed Eat Pussy

Release Date: Out Now

I love this tune and on the face of it I probably shouldn’t but it’s the most up front, honest, in your face tune I’ve heard in this genre for a long time. Stockholm self-confessed l’il weed hoe (it’s her Facebook handle for the love of God) Angie is the kind of girl that you would hate to be on a shift with at the 24-hour petrol station but you’d still want to get it on with her so you’d be nice even if she was a bitch to you. That energy and attitude comes out brilliantly in ‘Smoke Weed Eat Pussy’ as Angie sings “I smoke weed eat pussy every day and every day is kinda the same” through some wonky auto-tune. Skittish beats, ominous synth drones and some more lyrical gold (“I will never be your baby cos I’m a motherfucking lady”) make this a lot of fun, throw in some horns and a sense of relentless sexual passive aggression and you’ve got something pretty unique. Angie just upped the bar and the pretenders like Rhianna, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus are gonna have to reassess their output in every area. Or just give up. All hail Angie.


The Picturebooks – The Rabbit and the Wolf (Another Century) 
The Picturebooks - The Rabbit & The Wolf

Release Date: Out Now

Imagine if Royal Blood were German, massively in to motorbikes and had sought inspiration from the Icelandic football fans for their latest musical output. You with me? Right, that’s essentially The Picturebooks and they’re freaking awesome. New single ‘The Rabbit and the Wolf’ is as unapologetic as it is glorious as it opens with the chug of a motorcycle engine followed by tribal tub-thumping and some bluesy slide guitar. It’s classic modern duo stuff with the guitar and drums duelling whilst being refereed by some aggressive vocals but this is heavier than the Black Keys, more intense than Royal Blood and way sexier than the White Stripes. Throw in the sexiest music video I’ve seen in a while and, well, a freaking bell crescendo and you’ve got a winner. A massive, hairy, distortion fuelled winner that will probably have impregnated all the women reading this by now, and some of the men.

Live Dates:

14th October – The Black Heart, London
15th October – Kasbah, Coventry
16th October – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
17th October – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
19th October – The Workman’s Club, Dublin
20th October – Black Box, Belfast
21st October – King Tut’s, Glasgow

22nd October – Night & Day, Manchester

Monday, 11 July 2016


Paul Draper – No Ideas (Kscope) 
Paul Draper - No Ideas

Release Date: Out Now

Paul Draper has always been a bit of a hero of mine ever since I went to see his band of outcasts, Mansun, on tour as my first gig. I’d won tickets from my local record store when I purchased a copy of ‘Stripper Vicar’ and that gig turned me on to the world of indie music and suddenly the 90s opened up for me. Now, Draper is forging a highly respected career as a solo artist and sought after producer which is hugely reassuring – too many Britpop musicians ended up as bar managers, radio sidekicks and marketing executives. ‘No Ideas’, then, is a typically macabre piece of indie which opens with the gloriously bleakly post-modern lyric of “I did a google search for what comes up when I type in that I’ve got no ideas”. As the heart-broken, late night piano rumbles along with all the energy of an old drunk falling asleep on the keys, the song is suddenly injected with some energy and a certain indie swagger. Draper is a master of crafting a complex notion but packaging it up in a neat and accessible indie-pop package with some lovely Richard Hawley guitars and some good, old fashioned 90s squelchy keys. In years to come I think Paul Draper will be cited as a much more important contributor to modern music than he currently gets credit for but then the great artists are rarely appreciated in their time, are they?

Lyric Video:

Friday, 8 July 2016


Michel – Drive 
Michel - Drive

Release Date: Out Now

Siblings in bands always bring a certain special energy and this can work for or against the music so when you get twin brothers cropping up as we have in Michel you’ve got to open the box and see what’s going on haven’t you? Inside the box is new single ‘Drive’ and it’s a satisfying slice of pop that teeters on the line between being mainstream and being alternative. On the one hand, you have impassioned vocals and the kind of performance you might expect from X-Factor winners – all breathless and Enrique Iglesias about things. Then again, on the other hand, you’ve got some really fresh sounding production with edge beats and synth stabs that push this tune further than it really has a right to go. I think (or is that feel?) there is more to come from Michel and this is by no means a bad start but I’d love to see them step away from the mainstream light and explore that dark side a little more.