Tuesday, 15 August 2017

MATT EMERY – SINGLE REVIEW

Matt Emery – Empire 
Matt Emery - Empire


Release Date: Out Now

I’m getting increasingly encouraged and inspired by the number of composers coming my way as opposed to singer-songwriters and Matt Emery is the latest to soothe my troubled soul with his mastery of the piano. The latest track, ‘Empire’, is built around a relatively simple and repetitive piano riff that moves with the slow and meaningful solemnity of a funeral march until the strings join in to make this swell in to something so utterly cleansing and beautiful that I don’t mind admitting it brought a tear to my eye on first listen. I can be a morbid and music obsessed beast at the best of times so I often consider my own funeral playlist and this tune has just put itself in strong contention which is meant as a very high complement. I urge you to clear your mind and put aside 4 minutes to listen to this, really listen to it’s simple beauty and ascending mood – do this without thinking of a lost love one or your own mortality and you’re doing well. Do it without breathing a little heavier or wiping the moistness from your eye and you’re emotionally stunted.  Don’t listen to it at sunrise though, your heart might just burst and I won’t be held responsible.



BALAKO – SINGLE REVIEW

Balako – Nervous Inn (Greco Roman) 
Balako - Nervous Inn


Release Date: Out Now

OK, these guys are fast becoming my favourite Brazilians. Possibly of all time. DJ/Producer duo Balako can do sexy things with a bassline and it makes me want to dance in clothes made entirely of manmade fabrics in garish colours, possibly in a jauntily angled hat as well. Latest single, ‘Nervous Inn’, uses that rolling, super-funky bass line to underpin the song so that the percussion can roam around, jazz-style, and the keys can be liberally sprinkled like magic dust at a Studio 54 party in the heat of summer. The trumpets slide in as smooth as Huggy Bear on a night out and, as Ron Burgundy would say, “this here is baby making music”. Sure, you could fit in some rasping, soulful vocals but you don’t need to, just lie back with a honey on each arm and let that chest hair break free. Yeeeeaaaaaahhh……



PHILIP WHITEHEAD – SINGLE REVIEW

Philip Whitehead – I’m Gone 
Philip Whitehead - I'm Gone


Release Date: 25th August 2017

Philip Whitehead lives in Hammersmith which is not a trendy hub of music at the moment but has a rich musical heritage and not just because I used to shop in the Tesco there and partake of the odd curry. Throughout the years, many a band has made music in and around Hammersmith and there’s a timeless quality to Whitehead’s new single ‘I’m Gone’ that feels as though it has been lurking under the flyover just observing and soaking influences up the passing troubadours over the years. The song opens with near-whispered late night vocals and the gently plucked guitar strings of Cream era Clapton while the structure of the song follows a more Elliot Smith pattern that builds beautifully. The guitars layer up slowly but surely before the drums give up on their stuttering subtlety to find a loose groove that shifts the song up a gear. By the time the chorus properly rips in and Whitehead opens up his lungs you know you’re listening to a proper, died in the wool rock tune that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Jeff Buckley album, such is the soaring and affirming climax in a crescendo of guitars and cymbal crashes. Sumptuous doesn’t even cover half of it.


Live Dates:

23rd August – The Monarch, Chalk Farm
6th September – The Old Queens Head, Islington


EMMA MILLER – SINGLE REVIEW

Emma Miller – Leaving 
Emma Miller - Leaving


Release Date: Out Now

There is real heart to this song, the latest release from London based Emma Miller. In a very literal sense, ‘Leaving’ has a pulsing heartbeat coursing through it like words inked through a stick of arock and that makes it feel incredibly personal and close. Beyond that, though, there is the beautifully soulful vocal of Emma Miller accompanied by the Morcheeba meets Goldfrapp organic dance groove that lurches and lunges with unexpected elegance and the weight of some huge sadness laying heavy on the aforementioned heart. Miller sings “Wrongs I’ll never right, all the moments I denied” and you can hear the regret dripping from every word which gives this the kind of haunting tone that Portishead used to monopolise. Well, not any more.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

GABRIELLE APLIN – SINGLE REVIEW

Gabrielle Aplin – Waking Up Slow 
Gabrielle Aplin - Waking Up Slow


Release Date: Out Now

“Heaven help me, my mind changes like the wind” are the opening lyrics to this latest release from bright hope Gabrielle Aplin, new single ‘Waking Up Slow’. Lyrically, there are some nice touches to this song and there’s an underlying bass sequence which suggests something close to an edge, lurking in the shadows. However, we’re just a millennial whoop away from this being a Taylor Swift or Carly-Rae Jepson tune and that kinda sucks all the uniqueness out of this. Sure, it’s breathy and uplifting in a reliable way that KFC will always fill you up but never really leave you satisfied. I had hoped for more, I have to be honest, and I’m sad that this track didn’t deliver.



Live Date:

14th September – Sonia, Massachusetts
15th September – Velvet Underground, Toronto
16th September – The Foundry, Philadelphia
17th September – Bowery Ballroom, New York
20th September – U Street Music Hall, Washington
22nd September – Bottom Lounge, Chicago
23rd September – Amsterdam, Minneapolis
24th September – Record City, Kansas City
26th September – Larimer Lounge, Denver
28th September – Kilby Lounge, Salt Lake City
30th September – Chop Suey, Seattle
1st October – Holocene, Portland
3rd October – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
4th October – Music Box, San Diego
6th October – Troubador, West Hollywood
19th October – Oran Mor, Glasgow
20th October – O2 Academy, Birmingham
22nd October – The Junction, Cambridge
23rd October – Concorde 2, Brighton
24th October – Trinity, Bristol

26th October – The Venue, London

NOAH GUNDERSEN – SINGLE REVIEW

Noah Gundersen – Bad Desire (Cooking Vinyl) 
Noah Gundersen - Bad Desire


Release Date: Out Now

Every now and again there are those artists that everyone around you is talking about but you just haven’t hooked in to yet. Now, it’s not through a lack of interest but just through not crossing paths with the music which, you know, just happens sometimes. Noah Gundersen is one such musician that a number of, shall we say, ‘acquaintances’ have been banging on about for some time and, luckily, his new single ‘Bad Desire’ just landed in my lap. The Seattle artist is, undoubtedly, a supreme talent but one that seeps in to your consciousness rather than one that screams for your attention. The keys that open this particular tune are so soft that you wouldn’t be surprised to discover the keys had been covered in velvet before committing anything to tape. Gundersen’s voice is dusky and smooth with just enough teeth-clenched growl when you need it to urge those drums on. This is the kind of song that would make grown, testosterone fuelled men cry at the thought of their dead partner/mother/grandmother/cat on a wet day when they could just do with a hug and a bit of looking after. Simply beautiful stuff, I’m converted.



Live Dates:

11th September – Borderline, London
12th September – Night & Day, Manchester
14th September – Auster Club, Berlin
15th September – Bitterzoet, Amsterdam
5th October – The Olympic, Boise
6th October – The State Room, Salt Lake City
7th October – Armory, Fort Collins
8th October – Bluebird Theater, Denver
10th October – Fine Line Music Café, Minneapolis
12th October – High Noon Saloon, Madison
13th October – The Back Room Café, Minneapolis
14th October – The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
15th October – The Opera House, Toronto
17th October – The Belmont, Montreal
18th October – The Sinclair, Cambridge
20th October – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
21st October – Wonder Bar, Asbury
22nd October – World Café Live, Philadelphia
24th October – 9:30 Club, Washington
25th October – Visulite Theater, Charlotte
26th October – Cannery Callroom, Nashville
27th October – Revelry Room, Chattanooga
28th October – Terminal West, Atalanta
29th October – The Grey Eagle, Asheville
31st October – Saturn, Birmingham
2nd November – The Heights Theater, Houston
3rd November – The Kesler Theater, Dallas
4th November – Barracuda, Austin
6th November – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix
8th November – El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles
9th November – Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
10th November – Hi-Fi Music Hall, Eugene
11th November – Wonder Ballroom, Portland
12th November – Imperial, Vancouver

17th November – Neptune Theatre, Seattle

JAMES DAVIDSON – SINGLE REVIEW

James Davidson – Shape of My Soul 
James Davidson - Shape Of My Soul


Release Date: Out Now

The very beginning of this single from James Davidson sounds like it might veer off in a slightly esoteric and obscure angle. However, before long ‘Shape of My Soul’ settles in to a gentle, country tinged slice of singer-songwriter standard fare. Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad song, there are traces of Del Amitri and Deacon Blue in there that are more than a little pleasing. The slide guitar notes are smooth and comforting, like the first sip of whiskey after a long day and Davidson’s voice has a soft, inviting tone. No, the only problem I have with this tune is that it doesn’t give me that tingle moment when the chorus drops or the guitar kicks in. A solid start though, there’s no arguing with that.


THE BOTTOM LINE – SINGLE REVIEW

The Bottom Line – I Still Hate You 
The Bottom Line - I Still Hate


Release Date: Out Now

Among the likes of Sum 41, New Found Glory and Simple Plan, London pop-punkers The Bottom Line list Blink 182 twice in their list of influences which kind of tells its own story. New single ‘I Still Hate You’ doesn’t fall far from that particular tree but when it falls it doesn’t stop bouncing for a good four minutes. As you might expect, the guitars are huge and choppy, the vocals have a mid-Atlantic sneer and the rhythm section chugs satisfyingly. When the chorus kicks in, then you know you’re expected to bounce like your life depends on it and with an infectious little melody like this who are we to argue? If you like your punk with a slick melody and a sense of pop bordering on the McFly/Busted end of the scale then this will be right up your street. Enjoy.


Live Dates:

21st September – Fleece, Bristol
22nd September – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
23rd September – O2 Academy 2, Newcastle
24th September – King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
26th September – Key Club, Leeds
27th September – Academy 3, Manchester
28th September – Underworld, Camden
29th September – O2 Academy 2, Birmingham

30th September – The Haunt, Brighton

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

KANSAS SMITTY’S HOUSE BAND – SINGLE REVIEW

Kansas Smitty’s House Band – Party Party Party 
Kansas Smitty's House Band - Party Party Party


Release Date: Out Now

I normally steer clear of three genres that do nothing for me – Jazz, Thrash Metal and modern R’n’B. This latest release from Londoners Kansas Smitty’s House Band, ‘Party Party Party’, fits firmly in to the Jazz pigeon hole but I’ve let it through my filter on the basis that they sound like they’d be a hell of a lot of fun live. This is a live recording of the 8-piece doing their horn filled thang with some pretty simple sing-a-long lyrics (“party, party, party” if you want the full transcript). There’s a trumpet solo that makes me a little edgy and lots of encouraging shouts of ‘ho’ and ‘hey’ that I’m not entirely on board with but these are clearly talented musicians with a lot of energy so if I was in the vicinity of this going down on a stage somewhere then I’d definitely want to check it out some more.


PABLO AND THE APPLEHEADS – SINGLE REVIEW

Pablo And The Appleheads – Zaida
Pablo And The Appleheads - Zaida

Release Date: Out Now

Coming straight outta the cultural hotbed of Barcelona comes this infectious slice of indie-pop that I would urge you to add to your summer play lists asap. Pablo and the Appleheads are fronted by the enigmatic Pablo Villavacchia and it’s his deadpan vocal delivery combined with his jaunty acoustic strum that makes this such an instant and engaging prospect. ‘Zaida’ bounces and bobs on a summer breeze with all the effortless charm of George Ezra but the sweet melodies of a young Supergrass and the story telling chops of the Libertines in their prime. “Zaida, she’s flying like a spaceman” sings our Pablo before a Kinks-esque chorus that is by no means complicated or ground-breaking but it’s a whole lotta fun. Definitely one for the car with the top down.


Watch The Video: 

NOSAJ THING – SINGLE REVIEW

Nosaj Thing – UG (Innovative Leisure) 
Nosaj Thing - UG


Release Date: Out Now

I’m undecided on quite why I love this new track from LA creator Nosaj Thing. ‘UG’ is the single that precedes a new album and, on the one hand, it is a macabre slice of unhinged electro that pulses and swerves like a skittish and paranoid drunk trying to get home without being followed. This would perfectly suit the end credits of a recent episode of Twin Peaks and fits in with the David Lynch aesthetic of high art mixed in with beats and a sense of the left of centre being the norm. Equally, there’s something beautiful Aphex Twin-esque about the incomplete vocals and juddering beats that keep you on the edge of your seat, second guessing the whole way through. It’s great to see this kind of music going out on an extensive live tour around the US and Canada rather than just being broadcast from a bedroom or studio somewhere anonymous.



Live Dates:

31st August – The Ritz, San Jose
1st September – Harlows, Sacramento
7th September – Knitting Factory, Spokane
8th September – Knitting Factory, Boise
9th September – The Top Hat, Missoula
11th September – Commonwealth Bar & Stage, Calgary
13th September – Amigos Cantina, Saskatoon
14th September – West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg
19th September – The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids,
21st September – A&R Music Bar, Columbus
24th September – Brighton Music Hall, Boston
26th September – Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia
27th September – Warsaw Concert, New York
1st October –  Echoplex, Los Angeles
2nd October – The Broadberry, Richmond
3rd October – Motorco, Durham
4th October – New Mountain AVL, Asheville
5th October – Georgia Theatre, Athens
7th October – The Social, Orlando
8th October – Crowbar, Tampa
12th October – Hi-Ho Lounge, New Orleans
13th October – 1884 Lounge at Minglewood, Memphis
17th October – The Black Sheep, Colorado Springs
19th October – Metro Music Hall, Salt Lake City
20th October – Beauty Bar, Las Vegas

21st October – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix

Monday, 7 August 2017

DEQN SUE – SINGLE REVIEW

DeQn Sue – Melanin 
DeQn Sue - Melanin


Release Date: Out Now

I am fast becoming a huge fan of LA native Deqn Sue and this is the kind of song that stands up on its musical merits but should also be played to children (and some adults) every morning to remind you that life is there to be lived in a good spirit, not as a douche bag. What am I on about? Well, ‘Melanin’ is a synth heavy alt-disco romper that will have you dancing around the kitchen/night-club/train carriage (delete as appropriate) which is no bad thing for starters. However, there is a strong and clear lyrical message here delivered with pin-point accuracy by Sue’s smooth and slightly cheeky pop-soul vocal. “Black, brown, dark or light, peach, yellow, beige or white, no matter what you are like, you are precious in his eyes” sings Sue while the guitars get funky and the synths layer up like some kind of delicious multi-coloured cake. “Colours, why do they make a difference to you?”, “I’ve got melanin in my blood and you’ve got a little bit too” – racial equality never sounded so funky. In the hands of a A-grade, major-label pop star this would be blasting out of radios all over the summer airwaves so the least you can do is give it a spin and spread the good word.



I AM WILLOW – SINGLE REVIEW

I Am Willow – Hearts In The Night 
I Am Willow - Hearts In The Night


Release Date: Out Now

London based singer-songwriters are ten-a-penny but those that are Maltese born and have incredibly sultry voices are less common. I Am Willow is this less common and wonderfully sultry talent and her new single ‘Hearts In The Night’ has a beautifully wonky vibe about it that makes it really stand out. If you want to pigeon hole this, you’d be looking at a Lana Del Rey penned track, sung by Lordes or Kimbra but with Years & Years performing the music and Jamie XX on production duties. I Am Willow has that holy grail talent in a unique vocal style matched with a tune that sticks out from the pack and that makes this a genuinely exciting prospect.


ANGELE DAVID-GUILLOU – SINGLE REVIEW

Angele David-Guillou – Desert Stilts 
Angele David-Gillou - Desert Stilts


Release Date: Out Now

Well, this is wonderfully and refreshingly different. Just under four minutes of intense and dramatic instrumental music courtesy of the supremely talented Angele David-Guillou, that’s what you get from her latest release, ‘Desert Stilts’ (not dessert stilts as I nearly called this, a very different prospect). This is orchestral stuff but with, to me, a very British tone as the strings bounce relentlessly along and the horns swell and heave to anchor the lightness of the melodies. If I close my eyes, I can see myriad shades of green fields rolling past a train window and the different ages of history unfolding behind each hill and curve in the track. If Danny Boyle where to hear this I feel like he’d commission a whole new sporting extravaganza just so that he could use this as the music for the core element to the opening ceremony. One of the few truly original things that has dropped in to my inbox over the last few months and something you should seriously consider adding to your playlist to break up the pattern a little.


PAUL DRAPER – SINGLE REVIEW

Paul Draper – Things People Want (KScope) 
Paul Draper - Things People Want


Release Date: 11th August 2017

There has been something of a slow creep about Paul Draper’s renaissance as a solo artist but this latest single feels like he’s finally breaking through that glass wall of his former band. ‘Things People Want’ definitely has a Mansun-esque vibe about it with the dramatic, sweeping chorus and the multi-layered instrumentation that bleeds in and out without any warning or pattern. But what this release really does is give Draper’s voice a platform to show that he’s moved on to a more soulful, more mature tone that speaks of his experience and wisdom. Draper was always an arch story-teller, that was a natural teller, but now he has a voice worthy of those stories and more experiences to sing about in the dulcet tone.


Live Dates:

14th September – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
16th September – King Tut’s, Glasgow
21st September – Scala, London
22nd September – Thekla, Bristol

23rd September – O2 Institute, Birmingham

CALUM PEARCE – SINGLE REVIEW

Calum Pearce – Missiles 
Callum Pearce - Missiles


Release Date: 12th August 2017

Well this is a perky indie-pop romp considering the song title is ‘Missiles’. It’s like having a musical with loads of dance routines but calling it ‘cancer’. But that’s the beauty of this hugely impressive debut release by Scottish singer-songwriter Callum Pearce – it’s sugar and spice, sweet and sour, ying and, if you wall, yang. The guitars are choppy and bouncing at the same time and the drums are tight and punchy which makes for the kind of indie-pop tune that you can’t help but want to pogo to in your Adidas Gazelles. On top of all that joviality, however, is Pearce’s accented vocal singing of the injustice of politicians we didn’t vote for spending our money on missiles that we don’t want and hope not to need. If this is Callum Pearce’s opening gambit then the world had better watch out as he has you in his sights and he has his phasers set to stun(ning).


Live Dates:

12th August – Limekilns Gala, Dunfermline

30th August – PJ Molloys, Dunfermline

Friday, 4 August 2017

WE SINGING COLORS – SINGLE REVIEW

We Singing Colors – Get Up Slowly (Volta Records)
We Singing Colours - Get Up Slowly

Release Date: Out Now

Bucharest is not a place I get many submissions from but if indie-poppers We Singing Colours are anything to go by then I’m up for more. New single ‘Get Up Slowly’ comes ahead of their second album due out later this year and it’s a lot of fun. The male-female vocal harmonies bounce effortlessly along on top of a lively acoustic melody and a subtly persistent rhythm. “Get up slowly, I know you can, If you make it here you’ll make it anywhere” they sing with the kind of honest friendship and encouragement that you normally only get in Country music. In the hands of Passengers or Aviici and with a bit more pop production this could easily be a summer time hit to be played specifically when you’re best friend has just been dumped and you need to convince them to get their best clothes on and get back out in to the world. Uplifting and genuinely heart-warming.


Live Dates: 

6th August – Boho, Camden

8th August – Easter, Dalston Garden

Watch The Video:

SALAD UNDRESSED – SINGLE REVIEW

Salad Undressed – Being Human (Pledge Music)
Salad Undressed - Being Human

Release Date: Out Now

Remember Salad? You know, from the 90s and from Britpop and all that? I had a Salad carrier bag for a while from their ‘Ice Cream’ album, that was pretty neat. Anyway, Paul and Marijne from the band are back with a little stripped down single under the guise of Salad Undressed and said single, ‘Being Human’, is a lot of fun. Marijne’s breathy vocal is edgy and somewhat, well, not of this world with a sense of the dramatic. The guitars have a wild-west meets Britpop vibe as the rhythmic chug is quietly relentless and keeps things moving regardless of your will. “Being human, what a stroke of luck, must try harder to catch up” they sing with that whispered sense of cinematic drama that Salad and Pulp pioneered so delightfully all through the 1990s. Good to have them back, then, and on tour with some of their peers too. What a time to be alive?!

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

Live Dates:

5th August – Forum, Kentish Town w/Sleeper + The Bluetones
12th August – ABC, Glasgow w/Sleeper + The Bluetones
19th August – Ritz, Manchester w/Sleeper + The Bluetones
27th September – Lexington, London
7th October – Indie Daze Festival @ Forum, Kentish Town
8th December – Fibbers, York

Watch The Video: 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

BDY_PRTS – SINGLE REVIEW

BDY_PRTS – Rooftops (Aggrocat Records) 
BDY_PRTS - Rooftops


Release Date: Out Now

So, I’m slightly baffled by the fact that trio BDY_PRTS list their home town as Glasgow, Brisbane AND Chicago. Three of them, three home towns, you do the math……….s. Sorry, I couldn’t do it. I mean, where do they rehearse? Prague? Anyhow, regardless of where they lay their hats, new single ‘Rooftops’ is an absolute delight in all it’s angular but melodic glory. Imagine, if you will, a lo-fi Florence + The Machine with just as much melodic ambition but the sense of mischief that Lush had back in the day and the box of beats that the XX use but with a can of Monster poured in to give it a kick. The vocals are siren-sweet while the synths mingle and intertwine like electro-ivy on a fence made entirely of neon and sugar. Sure, it’s a slightly overpowering image but if you give this your time I think you’ll understand.


BO – SINGLE REVIEW

Bo – Baby Come Back
Bo - Baby Come Back

Release Date: Out Now

Not many artists get away with a two-letter name but Toronto’s Bo is making this bold move as she releases her single ‘Baby Come Back’. The tune itself is a sparse, Lana Del Ray style number with rhythmic pulses and gentle synth probes that give Bo’s breathy vocals space to explore like smoke swirling in a candle-lit club. In fact, aside from needing a few good meals and a pair of trousers that have been stitched properly, Bo has the capacity to make more than splash in the pop ocean on the basis of this tune. Classy, if heartbroken, stuff.


Watch The Video:

GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS – SINGLE REVIEW

Ghosts of Social Networks – If This Isn’t Love (Integrity Records) 
Ghosts of Social Networks - If This Isn't Love


Release Date: Out Now

Some artists stick in your head and after the last single by Manchester’s Ghosts of Social Networks, I was mighty pleased to see this latest release pop up in my inbox. ‘If This Isn’t Love’ is and indie-pop powerhouse of a tune that starts with blistering drums and a drawled vocal that could only have been sung from behind the darkest of dark glasses. We’re talking The Jesus and Mary Chain levels cool but with a catchy little melody and the kind of uplifting melody and bounce that should, by rights, have sweaty indie clubs heaving up and down the country. This is polished but edgy, controlled but chaotic, intense but lighter than air. Just how rock and roll should be.



Live Dates:

11th August – Night & Day, Manchester
18th August – Actress & Bishop, Birmingham

26th August – Bridgnorth Festival, Highley 

SAN BLAS – SINGLE REVIEW

San Blas – Kiss From Argentina
San Blas - Kiss From Argentina

Release Date: Out Now

Everyone’s favourite Ukulele rockers (yes it’s a thing) San Blas are back and their new single 'Kiss From Argentina' is certainly something different. For a start, there’s a six minute video which is unusual in itself but then the Ukulele is used to moody, dramatic effect (not your normal tone for an instrument of whimsy). Some crashing cymbals and elfin vocals soon give way to thumping drums and a drive bass line, smoothed over by some delicious horns. This is one of those tunes that changes on you repeatedly and it’s hard to place what kind of audience you would want to play this to but I guess a support slot with the likes of James or the Levellers wouldn’t be a million miles away from the target. That said, any audience with a discerning ear and a taste for something different would lap this up so wrap your eyes and ears around this treat.


Watch The Video: 

PROPHETS OF RAGE – SINGLE REVIEW

Prophets Of Rage – Living On The 110 
Prophets Of Rage - Living On The 110


Release Date: Out now

Rock-rap supergroup Prophets Of Rage are definitely one of my highlights of 2017 so far and I hope they hang around long enough to hold a mirror up to the world until it cracks. In the meantime, we’ll just have to make do with their latest single, ‘Living On The 110’, which is entirely awesome so that’s OK. The head-bobbing groove laid down by the bass and drums is pure Rage Against The Machine and then Tom Morello’s guitar does it’s inventive but still melodic thing all over the top to make sure there’s a hook to proceedings. Here we have musicians who could sit on their behinds for the rest of their lives and still be comfortable but they’re not creating music for financial gain – well, not their gain anyway. No, Prophets Of Rage are here to raise awareness, to hold that aforementioned mirror up and make sure people get equality in this messed up world. Who’s in? Fists in the air y’all.



Live Dates:

16th September – 93X:Twenty Canterbury Park, Shakopee
17th September – Riot Fest @ Douglas Park, Chicago
1st October – Louder Than Life, Louisville
15th October – Houston Open Air, Houston
27th-29th October – Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, New Orleans

4th November – Ozzfest, San Bernardino

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

SECOND BRAIN – SINGLE REVIEW

Second Brain – Hair Of The Dog
Second Brain - Hair Of The Dog

Release Date: Out Now

I don’t often give much time to instrumental acts, largely because I like to hear a story or a message in a song that you don’t often get without lyrics. That said, London based internationally born combo Second Brain are an intriguing and engaging prospect so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, OK? ‘Hair Of The Dog’ starts like the house band on an edgy late night chat show with perky drums but then those 3 axe wielding gents join in and suddenly we’re on the mean streets of Chicago trying to track down the kingpin of a drugs ring, sporting 3 days of stubble and a whisky hangover. These guys have got serious chops and the funk is strong in them so I can totally see myself busting out my dance moves to these guys at a festival or in some cool bar in a back alley somewhere. I still yearn for a rasping vocal or MC, a la Westcountry heroes the Soul Stroke, but if you want to feel like you’re on a stake out while you’re on the morning commute then this is the tune for you.


Live Dates: 5th August – Camden Assembly, London w/Fat-Suit

Watch The Video: 

THE MOONLIGHT CRUSADE – SINGLE REVIEW

The Moonlight Crusade – No Denying 
The Moonlight Crusade - No Denying


Release Date: Out Now

For this, the 2000th article posted on Listen With Monger, I wanted to bring you something special, something utterly new and on the cusp of great things. Fortuitously, the debut release from the Moonlight Crusade fell in to my lap/inbox and my search was over. There couldn’t be a more instant beginning to a song than that which opens ‘No Denying’ and lesser bands would have tested the water with a wall of feedback first but this trio is straight in to the action. A relentless, malevolent beat punctures the squall of guitars before delay drenched vocals rise up desperately from the mire to call you in to shore. The Moonlight Crusade are rising from the smouldering ashes of North-East heroes Bernaccia as brothers Jonny and Dom Noble carry a torch for the dramatic and psychedelic side of music but it’s where they carry that torch that is really interesting – notably, in to crypts, dark alley ways and grave yards full of metaphorical and real skeletons. 2000 pieces published and still there are bands lurking in the shadows all around the world making music that makes the hairs stand up on your neck and dry your mouth out with anticipation. Here’s to the next 2000.



Monday, 31 July 2017

THE DARKNESS – SINGLE REVIEW

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

Release Date: Out Now

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



Live Dates:

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

14th December – Colston Hall, Bristol

RYLANDS HEATH – SINGLE REVIEW

Rylands Heath – Skin 
Rylands Heath - Skin

Release Date: Out Now

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


Live Dates:

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

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

SEPHINE LLO – SINGLE REVIEW

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

Release Date: Out Now

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



Thursday, 27 July 2017

BEACH RIOT – SINGLE REVIEW

Beach Riot – Slackers 
Beach Riot - Slackers


Release Date: Out Now

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


Live Dates:

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

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

LITTLE HURRICANE – SINGLE REVIEW

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


Release Date: Out Now

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


Live Dates:

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

Watch the video: 

REVEREND & THE MAKERS – SINGLE REVIEW

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


Release Date: Out Now

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



Live Dates:

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

4th November – Academy, Manchester

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

INDIGO GIRLS + LUCY WAINWRIGHT ROCHE – LIVE REVIEW

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


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

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

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

More information:


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

Thursday, 20 July 2017

JOE BOYD – SINGLE REVIEW

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


Release Date: Out Now

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



BALAKO – SINGLE REVIEW

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


Release Date: Out Now

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