Wednesday, 20 September 2017

BOKITO – SINGLE REVIEW

Bokito – Aloof (Lost In the Manor Records) 
Bokito - Aloof


Release Date: Out Now

The marvellous Bokito are back with another single and more artwork that looks like a sinister ransom note. ‘Aloof’ combines circular, swaying rhythm and charismatic vocals with a swathe of instrumentation that can only be described as a party in my ears. Interestingly, the band manage to combine elements of Yello and Gogol Bordello with the melody of Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ which most DJs would struggle to manage so doing that with a live band and then moulding it around a song about not belonging that also makes you want to dance, well…it’s either madness or genius but whatever it is, I love it.



Live Dates:

29th September – The Workman’s Club, Dublin

28th October – Club 27/11 @ The Lexington, London

HARDWICKE CIRCUS – SINGLE REVIEW


Hardwicke Circus - Please Don't Try This At Home

Hardwicke Circus – Please Don’t Try This At Home

Release Date: Out Now

Hardwicke Circus look like a bunch of massive hipster douchebags and drive around in a customised police van which feels kinda douchey too so I didn’t hold out much hope for this track. ‘Please Don’t Try This At Home’, however, has a really nice AC/DC meets the Darkness via Jet vibe about it which is hard to hate so let’s throw away this particular book’s dust jacket and get on with the story. We’re talking hunky, chunky guitars, pile-driver drums and a pumping bass line which is a solid start for any song. Then you’ve got the Jagger swagger behind the vocal performance but with Justin Hawkins’ filthy mind behind the lyrics. So what have we learned? Basically, fuck fashion and let’s get on with the rock and roll show when it rolls in to town, regardless of the wheels it rolls in on.


Live Dates:

13th October – Dukes, Whitstable
14th October – Ye Olde Rose & Crown, London
15th October – The Brown Cow, Cockermouth
11th November – Wharfedale Beer Festival @ The Town Hall, Grassington

22nd November – The Brickyard, Carlisle

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

SAY SUE ME – SINGLE REVIEW

Say Sue My – Good for Some Reason (Damnably)
Say Sue Me - Good For Some Reason


Release Date: Out Now

You might expect the folks of Busan, South Korea, might be more concerned with their cousins north of the border. However, on the basis of indie-pop quartet Say Sue Me, they’d rather be having a good old-fashioned party and forgetting about their troubles. New single ‘Good for Some Reason’ is a ball of 90s Britpop inspired energy with Shoegaze guitars propelled forward with more purpose than usual by rattling drums. Murmured vocals and a pumping bass line complete the line-up and before you know it you’re in love with a track that sounds 9 parts Camden in 1996 and 1 part Holy City Rollers.


CHERRYADE – SINGLE REVIEW

Cherryade – Blah Blah 
Cherryade - Blah Blah


Release Date: Out Now

Materialism. The very foundations upon which the pop world is built, surely. Even Madonna knew that. So, it seems brave or stupid for London upstarts Cherryade to turn on the hand that feeds and not just bite but rip it clean off the arm. Then again, this duo are not ones for towing the line and ‘Blah Blah’ is a superbly bratty and sneering view of the world where style rules over substance and the acquisition stuff is more important than, well, anything else. This is Lily Allen, early Kate Nash and Shampoo but with Years & Years at the controls just to give things a sense of the classy to underline the power of lines like “you talk shit like blah blah blah”. Fun but with a message, now that’s something I can dance to.

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

MARILYN MANSON – SINGLE REVIEW

Marilyn Manson – We Know Where You Fucking Live (Cooking Vinyl) 
Marilyn Manson - We Know Where You Fucking Live


Release Date: Out Now

Good old Mazzer, he always knows when to turn up to a party and turn the politics in to a riot, doesn’t he? ‘We Know Where You Fucking Live’ is a classically dark, moody and downright aggressive piece that doesn’t pull any punches at any stage. From the bulldozer-with-monster-machine-wheels guitars to the slithering, black venom filled vocals, this is a hugely relentless tune that couldn’t be more American or monolithic in size. However, the line “what’s a nice place like this doing round people like us?” shows Manson’s wittier, more acerbic side and it’s the combination of the weight and the subtlety that makes this such an appealing track. Throw in a chorus that is essentially the screamed song title over an even heavier riff and you’ve got yourself a rock anthem for the pre-nuclear generation ….. and then some.



Live Dates:

27th September – The Filmore, Silver Spring w/Alice Glass
29th September – Stage AE, Pittsburgh
30th September – Manhattan Center Events, New York
2nd October – House of Blues, Boston
3rd October – The Paramount, Huntington
5th October – Rebel, Toronto
7th October – BB&T Pavilion, Camden New Jersey
8th October – Express LIVE, Columbus
10th October – The Riviera Theatre, Chicago
11th October – The Rave, Eagles Club
12th October – Arvest Bank Theatre, Kansas City
14th October – House of Blues, Houston
15th October – Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie
19th October – The Fillmore Auditorium, Denver
20th October – The Complex, Salt Lake City
23rd October – Fox Theater, Oakland
27th October – House of Blues, Las Vegas
28th October – House of Blues, Las Vegas
4th November – Ozzfest @ Glen Helen Amphiteater, San Bernardino
5th November – Knotfest @ Glen Helen Amphitheater, San Bernardino
12th November – Ice Hall, Helsinki
14th November – Annexet, Stockholm
15th November – Live at HAL 14, Helsingor
16th November – Sporthalle, Wuppertal
18th November – Zenith, Munich
19th November – Tipsport Arena, Liberec
20th November – Gasometer, Vienna
22nd November – Pala Alpitour, Turin
23rd November – Samsung Hall, Dubendorf
25th November – Velodrom, Berlin
27th November – Accor Hotels Arena, Paris
28th November – Klokgebouw, Eindhoven
29th November – Mitsubishi Electric Halle, Dusseldorf
1st December – Zenith, Nancy
2nd December – Forest National, Brussels
4th December – O2 Apollo, Manchester
5th December – O2 Academy, Glasgow
8th December – Newport Centre, Newport

9th December – The SSE Wembley Arena, London

Monday, 18 September 2017

THE VELVET HANDS – SINGLE REVIEW

The Velvet Hands – Games (Easy Action Records)
The Velvet Hands - Games

Release Date: 22nd September 2017

Cornish chaps the Velvet Hands have a reputation. A rock’n’roll reputation, for sure, but also a reputation for being perfectionists when it comes to the creative process. Latest release ‘Games’ is a re-release of an old demo track but given a new spin with a dandy new video too. The choppy, garage infused guitars that rattle through the opening bars of this track are infectious in a Babyshambles kind of way with that gang vocal and furiously strummed chords in danger of tripping over themselves. A chaotic rhythm section stays just on the right side of controlled and the lyrics get spelt out with Scrabble tiles at a furious pace which give you something bordering on well-read epilepsy. So, literate, grungy, fun and energetic. Ugh, they’re probably handsome too *checks video*, yes they are.


Live Dates:

28th September – Mono, Falmouth w/Skinny Milk
1st October – Main Stage @ Looe Festival, Looe

Watch The Video: 

MARTYN CROCKER – SINGLE REVIEW

Martyn Crocker – Wishful Thinking 
Martyn Crocker - Wishful Thinking

Release Date: Out Now

Plymouth musician Martyn Crocker is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with and this latest release, along with the excellent accompanying video, is doing nothing to slow his momentum. ‘Wishful Thinking’ has a tense, fraught opening with just guitar and vocals before a tighter than tight rhythm section kicks in and we’re off and running. There’s a genuine, died in the wool indie anthem chorus to get behind which will appeal to indie audiences and rock kids too with its guitar solo and outsider lyrics of “I just know what it feels like alone”. The ringing organ notes that ride this one out to the end are a sublime wave on which to end a great journey. Keep ‘em coming.


Live Dates:

8th October – The Carriers, Bude
11th October – The Junction, Plymouth w/Meadowlark
21st October – The Cellars, Teignmouth
4th November – The Deck, Perranporth
25th November – The Old England, Bristol
24th November – The Palladium, Bideford

Watch the Video: 

Friday, 15 September 2017

NOAH GUNDERSEN – ALBUM REVIEW

Noah Gundersen – White Noise 
Noah Gundersen - White Noise

Release Date: 22nd September 2017

There are restaurants you can go to where you eat in the dark to heighten your senses of taste and smell which allows you to appreciate the food more by shutting off your sight. I feel like blindfolds might be easier but who am I to argue with a fad? And at least you don’t have to get dressed up. There is, however, something to be said for your surroundings and how they impact on your senses but I’ve listened to this album in the sun, rain and wind, in my car, in my home and walking the streets, in good health and with chronic back pain. Whichever way you slice it, it’s an absolute work of genius.

Seattle’s Noah Gundersen is shortly releasing ‘White Noise’ and, in a lot of ways, that’s a good description for the album but once you start to actually listen (y’know, put down your $1000 iPhone and actually listen) you can hear the subtleties and some shiny lyrical nuggets. Opening up with ‘After All’ Gundersen creates a distorted synthetic bass rumble and, a short yelp later, he’s standing in the eye of the storm – all calm, delayed vocals with guitars swirling around him. It’s a beautifully calm start to an album. On ‘The Sound’ there is a more urgent chug and you feel this is where the album starts to hit it’s stride with the first of many great lyrical moments; “just a pain in the ass Johnny Cash middle finger, no shoot ‘em up drugstore quitter is a winner”. This is triumphant, vital and vibrant – just the way I like my music. And women.

Taking a sharp left turn, ‘Heavy Metals’ opens with a rich 80s synth vs beat intro that sounds like the darker cousin of LadyHawke or a Berlin comeback while ‘Number One Hit Of The Summer’ is the real anthem of the album with Buckley-esque guitars and a road trip vibe push everything forwards, relentlessly onwards because there’s no going back. Not now, not ever. One of my favourite song titles in a while, ‘Cocaine Sex & Alcohol (From a Basement in Los Angeles)’ (not sure if the missing comma is intentional but I hope it is), introduces a song built on forlorn pianos, soothing strings and Gundersen’s voice doing that heartbroken, singing through pain with clenched teeth thing to perfection.

Snakes are not jewellery kids
The lo-fi pulse juxtaposing with the delicate piano work on ‘Bad Actor’ is perfect for a film or the darkest of the early hours but it only acts as a pallet cleanser before the main course to come. ‘Fear & Loathing’ is the American anthem from the reality of the Trump era and it’s so good that I’m going to put it in Springsteen territory. As Gundersen tells the story of a rundown American town, Fear & Loathing (population: everyone), you are drawn in to the picture he is painting by the gentle hum of acoustic strum and gentle piano notes as you fall in love with the characters – Quarter backs, Prom queens, old drunks; “no-one gets a break in this town”, “there’s nothing left for us here now, in Fear & Loathing. It’s a beautifully crafted story that the whole album revolves around as it builds from lap steel gentility to an almighty, frustrated crescendo that is the absolute release of years of being down trodden and forgotten about.

After a long fade out, there’s an ominously insistent metronomic beat like the drip of rain after a heavy down pour which brings about the new clarity of ‘Sweet Talk’, replete with high pitched vocals, intricate guitars and an (almost) overdue splash of drums to break the tension. There’s a wonderfully simple piano intro to ‘New Religion’ before the Killers-esque crowd pleasure shifts through the gears with ease before leading in to ‘Bad Desires’, a love song for a generation of defeated romantics. ‘Wake Me Up I’m Drowning’ is one of the most genuinely terrifying songs I’ve ever hear so younger readers may want adult supervision for this. It’s the gently persistent drip of piano notes that build in to a pool, a well, a lake of water that becomes oppressive and weighs down on your soul before Noah Gundersen sings as though this was recorded while he was actually at risk of drowning. Radiohead did the video, Gundersen seems to have taken it a step further to magnificently claustrophobia inducing effect. “It’s just a dream I’m having, wake me up, wake me up I’m dreaming and I can’t swim, wake me up, wake me up….again” – It’s Lynch-level stuff.

The album concludes with two tracks that provide something approach closure after this experience. Firstly, ‘Dry Year’ is a clean, pure acoustic and vocals track that feels like Gundersen possibly wrote it as he recorded it, such is the stream of consciousness lyrical theme. And then, to finish, we have ‘Send The Rain (To Everyone)’, another of Gundersen’s softer, more intimate songs that show off those song writing skills again. This is an album I could (and will) listen to again and again. There is triumph and despair, love and loss, anger and peace. All of human life is reflected here and that is in no way an easy task. Noah Gundersen has, with this album, put himself in amongst the great modern American songwriters like Dylan, Springsteen and Buckley, those who only need surnames and if their president lets them down in the worst possible way then you could do no better thing than taking this album in to your fallout shelter with you. 


Live Dates:

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

NELSON CAN – EP REVIEW

Nelson Can – EP3 (Alcopop! Records) 
Nelson Can - EP3

Release Date: 29th September 2017

It’s not often I review two all-female Danish trios in a week but having fallen in love with Velvet Volume earlier this week I am now rekindling my affections for the glorious Nelson Can with their new EP. Hurra! ‘EP3’ opens with ‘Break Down Your Walls’, a tune pegged to a glorious bass line that puts me in mind of that classic Breeders tune ‘Canonball’ with its loose groove maintaining some shape while the rest of the tune loses its shit everywhere else. ‘Digging Your Grave’ 96 seconds of spooky, atmospheric melody clearly intended to make you pause and stop being distracted by the rest of the world around you while you focus on what is, presumably, the new theme tune for the Morticia Addams spin-off show.

On ‘Downtown’ Nelson Can get back to those slinky bass lines and coolly menacing vocals that are straight out of a Tarantino scene, preferably a director’s edit of Pulp Fiction. ‘Miracle’, by contrast, has a sinister disco bass melody before those dark, husky vocals join in and then the track explodes in to a crossover anthem. The only issue is that this appears to be a crossover between PJ Harvey fans and disco aficionados which is one hell of a niche market to aim for. For ‘Move Forward’, the trio get loose and channel the likes of the Gossip and the Darts with a more garage punk feel but still that bassist (the wonderfully named Signe SigneSigne) keeps things groovy which is a big part of what gives Nelson Can such a unique sound.

If Nelson Can, anyone can
Sounding like an 80s wrestler, ‘Stonewall Frank’ closes out this six track EP and it’s a triumphant way to finish things up.  Blending the crossover between Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Boss Hog, the band go heavy on distortion and put their foot to the floor with three part harmonies and a rhythm section that just won’t quit…..except it does for few seconds while they sing “a giant woman called Frank, helps me to the car, she says let’s go for a drink in a neighbourhood bar”. Then they get back to rocking out and it’s so much fun.





Live Dates:

23rd September – Nordic Delight @ EKKO, Utrecht
5th October – Rampleys, Silkeborg
6th October – Studenterhuset, Aalborg
13th October – Atlas, Aarhus
14th October – Musikhuset Posten, Odense
20th October – Pumpehuset, Copenhagen
17th November – Sub 89, Reading
18th November – Engine Rooms, Southampton
19th November – Phoenix, Exeter
21st November – The Globe, Exeter
22nd November – The Fleece, Bristol

23rd November – Waterfront, Norwich

THE ACADEMIC – SINGLE REVIEW

The Academic – Bear Claws 
The Academic - Bear Claws

Release Date: Out Now

I’m sensing some sort of sync opportunity as this Irish indie quartet hail from Mullingar  so we could soon see a Listen With Mullingar hook up if we play our cards right. Anyway, corporate shenanigans aside, The Academic’s new single ‘Bear Claws’ is a delightful indie-pop romp that will have audiences swooning and swaying in equal measure. Smoother than Vampire Weekend, more romantic than the Strokes but with more of an edge than Bombay Bicycle Club and the melodies of early Teenage Fanclub you can see why these four lads are making a name for themselves. Off they go to America with at least one great tune and who’s to say they haven’t got more?


Live Dates: 

All dates with Judah + The Lion

28th September – The Blue Note, Columbia
29th September – First Avenue, Minneapolis
1st October – The Intersection, Grand Rapids
2nd October – The Rave II, Milwaukee
5th October – Newport Music Hall, Columbus
7th October – Minglewood Hall, Memphis
10th October – Maverick’s, Jacksonville
14th October – Music Farm, Charleston
15th October – The Ritz, Raleigh
16th October – Jefferson Theatre, Charlottesville
19th October – Town Hallroom, Buffalo
22nd October – 9:30 Club, Washington
25th October – Metroplex, Little Rock
26th October – Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa

Watch The Video: 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

MALKA – SINGLE REVIEW

Malka - No No No (Tantrum Records) 
Malka - No No No

Release Date: Out Now

We’re getting very close to the new album from Scottish songstress Malka now but there’s just time for one more single before we hit the jackpot. The stroppy sounding ‘No No No’ starts with an uncharacteristic deep bass throb before Malka’s trademark impish vocal kicks in with a carnival beat and a school yard melody that, by rights, be used as the soundtrack for some serious street skipping action. There’s a distinctly wonky guitar and those drums layer up in to a rhythmic lattice like a stack of funky waffles one on top of the other. Gloriously, there’s a juxtaposition here between Malka’s sweet, soft vocal and the lyrical subject matter that holds a mirror to the world and the way we treat the natural resources around it. Throw in some horns for the crescendo and you’ve got yourself what is sure to be a live favourite and perfect little mid set number to whip up a frenzy in the festival tents next summer.  


Live Dates:

1st November – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
2nd November – Hug & Pint, Glasgow
3rd November – We Are Robots, London
13th November – The Walrus, Brighton
14th November – The Lexington, London
15th November – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham

16th November – The Wonder Inn, Manchester

RIDER – SINGLE REVIEW

Rider – A Little Light (Sapien Records)
Rider - A Little Light

Release Date: 15th September 2017

If you’re in the market for some slick, classy and superbly crafted pop then I’d thoroughly recommend giving US singer-songwriter-producer Rider a listen. New single ‘A Little Light’ is full of Katy Perry meets Taylor Swift sized melodies that pull on the heart strings and give you something to hang on to through a difficult break up. Then there’s the supportive children’s choir repeatedly chanting “a little light” throughout the track which lifts your spirits – the kids have got your back. Rider’s voice is powerful and pure, just the way you want your pop stars and there are some nice little touches of 80s power-pop brought up to date which gives this a LadyHawke from time to time. I hear a lot of pop, particularly from female solo artists, but this definitely stands out from the pack with a glint in the eye and a knowing smile.


Live Dates:

19th September – The Water Rats, London
20th September – Virgin Money Lounge, London
30th October – The Camden Assembly, London

Watch The Video: 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

VELVET VOLUME – SINGLE REVIEW

Velvet Volume – Look Look Look! 
Velvet Volume - Look Look Look!

Release Date: Out Now

Velvet Volume have got it all: Great name, check. Great look, check. Recorded the Danish version of the theme tune for the Power Puff girls, check. Made a video where they look a bit like the Power Puff girls, check. Like I said, they’ve got it all and new single ‘Look Look Look!’ even has an exclamation mark in the title which I love. Musically, these three sisters can rock out as well. The colossal rumbling of the bass and drums is like the hum of a finely tuned engine revving up in the street. Then throw in the dead-eyed, gritted teeth vocals (with harmonies) that make this feel like the perfect marriage between the American power of Belly, Looker or Breeders and the British sass of Echobelly, Elastica or Lush. This is a strong contender for single of the year and Velvet Volume are on my new favourite bands list, I told you they had it all. They’re pretty good at tennis too!


Live Dates:

14th October – Studenterhuset, Aalborg
20th October – Konfus, Esbjerg
21st October – Kulisselageret, Horsens
27th October – Gimle, Roskilde
28th October – Verhuset, Naestved
3rd November – Fermaten, Herning
10th November – Kulturmaskinen, Odense
11th November – Turbinen, Randers
17th November – Lille Vega, Kobenhaven
25th November – Voxhall, Aarhus

Watch The Video: 

GLASSPOP – SINGLE REVIEW

Glasspop – I Need Somebody 
Glasspop - I Need Somebody

Release Date: Out Now

OK, holding my hands up here, the only thing I knew about Poznan before hearing Glasspop was that they had inspired a specific football celebration of sorts so I was keen to hear what this indie-pop bunch had to offer. ‘I Need Somebody’ has a compelling beat and slick pop production that, from the word go, draws you in and hooks you completely. Mixing the mass appeal of the Killers with the indie-pop of the recent Kaiser Chiefs material and some of the melodic signatures of Muse is a bold move but it all mixes together beautifully to create a tune that would be perfect in an indie club but also has mainstream appeal. So that’s two things to thank Poznan for (and probably more if I had the time to look).

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

Live Dates:

26th November – Lido, Berlin w/Mew
28th November – NIEBO, Warsaw w/Mew

29th November – B90, Gdansk w/Mew 

Watch The Video: 

DEATH BY UNGA BUNGA – SINGLE REVIEW

Death By Unga Bunga – Into The Night (Jansen Plateproduksjon) 
Death by Unga Bunga - Into The Night


Release Date: Out Now

When you look this menacing in an under pass and you come from a town called Moss you might as well go the whole hog and start a rock’n’roll band. No, scratch that, going the whole hog is calling the band Death By Unga Bunga. Anyway, enough of the peripherals, let’s get on to the music. ‘Into The Night’ is an immediately likeable slice of indie-pop-rock in the style of the bands like Grasshow, Fungus and the Hives with a pumping garage bassline and an excitable beat that just won’t quit. It’s the guitars that really sell this one, though, as they veer from indie chug to rock’n’roll solo wig-out with consummate ease allowing the vocals to rip you a new one without any warning. Great fun and I’d put money on these guys having a blistering live show too so check them out on their US tour with the Stiff Little Fingers if you’re in the area.


Live Dates:

12th September – El Corazon, Seattle
15th September – Metro Bar, Salt Lake City
16th September – Marquis Theatre-CO, Denver
20th September – Metro, Chicago
21st September – Turf Club, Saint Paul
23rd September – The Vogue, Indianapolis
26th September – Black Cat, Washington
27th September – Underground Arts, Philadelphia
28th September – Brighton Music Hall, Allston
30th September – The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park
1st October – Gramercy Theatre, New York

13th October – Poppodium Q-Factory, Amsterdam

Monday, 11 September 2017

DORIAN – SINGLE REVIEW

Dorian – Elvis/Sylvia 
Dorian - Elvis/Sylvia


Release Date: Out Now

The sparse information that accompanies this understated release opens with the kind of show stopping line that we’ve come to expect from Dorian Cox; “A decade after the pop charts front cover features with the Long Blondes put him in intensive care, Dorian has put time into writing his first solo LP”. The highs, the glamour, the critical acclaim, the loss and the rehabilitation following serious illness – it’s all great material for song writing so let’s dive in and see what Dorian has been up to.

‘Elvis’ opens with a tinny beat and a synth melody that, altogether is akin to Trio’s ‘Da Da Da’ before the song settles in to the lowest of lo-fi melodic structures and Dorian’s heavily delay laden vocal that feels like an unsure Mark E Smith. The background hum of the recording and simple set up gives this an incredibly rudimental feel but don’t underestimate the power of this tune and acerbic nature of the piece. The B-side, ‘Sylvia’, uses a preset on the drum machine but this time it’s accompanied by a distorted bass line and the dead-eyed vocal delivery of Dorian’s significant other, punk poet Elise Hadgraft. “Ip Dip Dog Shit, You Are Not It Anymore….” Sings Hadgraft in a playground call that could only be delivered by a woman for it to be effective as a put down and on top of this raw instrumentation it’s even more withering and effective. What we have here is the genesis of something that is potentially very exciting both musically and in terms of a cultural movement – these two could be the art-rock power duo we’ve all been waiting for.


More information: https://twitter.com/_doriancox

Sunday, 10 September 2017

THE DOORS ALIVE – LIVE REVIEW

The Doors Alive live at the Hub, Plymouth – 09/09/2017 
Mike Griffioen as Jim Morrison (Pic: Marielle Newton)

There’s something about the Doors that, above all other bands, makes people want to travel back through time and be part of the experience of one of their live shows. Even the Beatles don’t command the same level of mysticism and they have plenty of copy-cats so it’s lucky that we have a band like the Doors Alive around to bring the past to life – let’s face it, if you actually had a time machine you’d be doing a tour of North Korean and American maternity wards to change the current nightmare we’re living in.

Now, sure, there’s a passing physical resemblance to Jim Morrison in Dutch frontman Mike Griffioen which definitely helps with the aesthetic but before I’ve even laid eyes on the band you can hear those trademark velvety smooth vocals drifting out from the stage. Like a devilish siren call that lures you in, Mr Mojo Risin’ doesn’t waiver from that unique and singular voice that has been singing out through the ages ad across the generations.

The Doors Alive @ The Hub, Plymouth (Pic: Marielle Newton)
This isn’t just about the frontman though, is it? There are moments during the performance where the vocalist leaves the stage and just allows the guitars, drums and keyboards to go on a wander. That Jazz influence meanders as you might expect, the psyche influence weaves through like smoke in a crowded room and then you hear those moments, those notes that would later go on to influence the dawn of dance music in generations to come.

I specifically haven’t mentioned the songs as if you don’t know the Doors then it won’t matter and if you do, well, you just need to imagine your ideal set and that’s all you need to know. A packed venue of mixed ages and experiences responded with love, adoration and gratitude that these four men were able to bring the Doors back to life for a couple of hours. Whether you love the Doors or just know a tune or two, I can’t recommend highly enough the experience of standing in a room of people all swaying to the rhythmic Manzarek keys work and hypnotic tones that are core to the band legend. It’s semi spiritual and there were some big smiles leaving the venue so I’d say that was a job well done.



Photographs by Marielle Newton - http://www.mariellephotography.co.uk/ 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

JAMIE YOST – LIVE REVIEW

Jamie Yost live @ The Inn On The Shore, Downderry – 08/09/2017 
Jamie Yost


Every night of every week around the world there is a musician pouring his heart out in the corner of a bar somewhere. Tonight, that musician is Jamie Yost, that bar is the Inn on the Shore and that heart is overflowing. Originally from Torquay but now based in Plymouth, Yost has a growing reputation for his wide ranging and soulful vocals mixed with the ability to wring all manner of sounds and emotions out of an acoustic guitar.

One of my favourite games to play at a pub gig is to earwig on the conversations of other audience members to see what they think of the music and tonight’s chatter pretty much wrote this review for me. As Yost moves effortlessly from cover to original without making one song jar against another, the huddled masses mutter words like ‘genius’, ‘prodigy’ and, in one case, ‘pinball wizard’. Yost’s youthful looks combined with his guitar playing make him appear like some sort of child genius but when he opens up his mouth (and heart) to sing there is more soul in that voice than most manage in an entire career.

From strumming to picking and the occasional bit of lap playing and hammering, Yost gives his guitar a thorough work out, all soothed over by that velvety smooth vocal. The only downside to all of this is that, like many hugely talented musicians, Yost has a meek onstage presence and is the ying to Donald Trump’s self-promotion yang. Still, talent usually wins out and with another clutch of converted fans from this gig, Jamie Yost will continue his relentless shuffle to mega stardom. Or at least the release a much anticipated EP.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

EARL GREY – SINGLE REVIEW

Earl Grey – Snake Hips 
Earl Grey - Snake Hips


Release Date: Out Now

A German band with a very English name, Earl Grey also have a particular sound that is rooted in some pretty English influences. ‘Snake Hips’ has loose guitars threaded together with tight beats and comes straight from the school of rock that gave Hundred Reasons, Reuben and Hell is for Heroes. This is primal, urgent and thoroughly enjoyable but, more importantly, it will translate in to any language and make any rock club ignite in the best possible way. A gift of a band from Dusseldorf and finally something Grey that doesn’t involve bondage or hackneyed romance writing…..or does it?


Live Dates:

#4th October – The Tube, Dusseldorf w/Forkupines

AMY LAWTON – SINGLE REVIEW

Amy Lawton – Undone (Paradise Records) 
Amy Lawton - Undone


Release Date: Out Now

There’s a reassuring acoustic strum to the opening of ‘Undone’ and Amy Lawton’s vocals are raw and almost childlike which is appealing in its own right as well. The song is a country inspired romp which is fun and steady enough but doesn’t really set any fireworks off or give me any goose bumps. Lawton’s voice has a warmth and purity that is something you can’t learn or put on but the song doesn’t do give that voice a unique enough platform on which to perform for my money. Interesting and intriguing but I’m entirely convinced…..yet.


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

REVEREND & THE MAKERS – ALBUM REVIEW

Reverend & The Makers – The Death Of A King (Cooking Vinyl) 
Reverend & The Makers - The Death Of A King

Release Date: 22nd September 2017

Despite brief dalliances with fame and the top of the musical tree, Sheffield collective Reverend and the Makers have always seemed to be playing second fiddle to other leading lights from the Steel City over the years. Now, in 2017, with their new album ‘The Death Of A King’ the time feels right for them to take centre stage…the thing is, they don’t really give a shit about any of that and that might just be the secret. ‘Miss Haversham’ gets things going with a disorientating use of stereo and layered instrumentation giving way to a wild west stomp and some menacing guitar work that is the stuff of chain gangs. Crucially, a theme is set here as, like 11 of the 12 tracks on this album, this opener doesn’t exceed three minutes, showing that the band mean business with no time for wasting as the steady, relentless crescendo builds, ominously.

‘Auld Reekie Blues’ starts with a forlorn piano ballad but before long the party has started and the band are stirring up a 60s inspired party with big, Phil Spector-ish arrangements and a real sense of ambition. On ‘Bang Seray’, the band’s recent travels in Asia come to the fore with the instrumentation blending the Western timbre with a more Oriental vibe to profound effect – a brave move at just three tracks in, especially as it’s completely instrumental and features a tinny synth solo half way through. ‘Boomerang’ maintains the chilled out vibe and crunchy beats but retains to a more traditional song format albeit with frontman John McClure taking the role of louche lounge singer atop the smoky pianos and snake hipped rhythm.

The real genius of this album is the range of styles, influences and instrumentation that the band have blended in to one seamless album of work. ‘Too Tough To Die’, a recent single, is more a traditional Reverend & The Makers track full of swaggering guitars and primal beats giving McClure the room to be at his preachy, rousing best. As if to make the most of previous point, ‘Carlene’ is a pub-piano romp that is part McCartney and part musical theatre which only lasts a minute before we get to ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’. This mid-point track has a darker vibe and returns to the storytelling theme that Sheffield bands like Reverend & The Makers, Pulp and the Arctic Monkeys (not to mention Hawley) seem to be so adept at setting to music.

Reverend & The Makers - They've got balls
There’s a cinematic feel to the dramatic sashay of ‘Black Cat’ which should have a sepia tone video to accompany it while ‘Autumn Leaves’ has a granite slab of a riff which moves with all the grace of the Titanic but is far less likely to be stopped by a paltry ice-berg. ‘Time Machine’ is probably the weak point of the album with a fairly forgettable melody but it still fits in with the overall piece before the last single, ‘Juliet Knows’, floats up like a troubadour lazily strumming guitar on a river boat in the balmy heat giving Joe Carnall a go at the vocal duties. This last song really sums up the collaborative and collective effort that is in evidence throughout the entirety of ‘The Death Of A King’.

Now, you remember way back when at the start of this review I said most of the tracks were punch and to the point, well there’s one final track that bucks that trend in the shape of ‘Black Flowers’. Coming in at just over nine minutes, this closing track is a cinematic masterpiece with sultry French strings and breathy vocals doing a better job of a Bond theme than most of the efforts from the last 5 films. Elements of St Etienne and Ertha Kitt purr throughout opening few minutes and the cool of Audrey Hepburn oozes out of every note. But there’s a darker, more forlorn underbelly to this song that sees mascara stained tears roll singularly down an alabaster cheek before being covered with Jackie O glasses. Then, at around the three minutes, a beat kicks in and suddenly there is urgency, there is a sense of purpose and the top is down on the car as the sadness is left in the past with only hope and expectation stretched out on the highway as far as the eye can see. After a period of silence, the song then re-emerges in a squall of noise before a pure acoustic melody and some dreamy vocals appear to signal the end of this particular journey.

What strikes me most about this album is that it seems by McClure taking a less forthright role in vocal proceedings, the band have been given space, time and air in which to grow in something far, far greater than the sum of its parts. ‘The Death Of A King’ it may be but the birth of a Kingdom (or democratic republic, more likely) is certainly upon us.


Live Dates:

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

SPEAK, BROTHER – SINGLE REVIEW

Speak, Brother - Magnificent 
Speak, Brother - Magnificent


Release Date: 22nd September 2017

There’s a misty, atmospheric start to this new single from Rugby lads Speak, Brother but soon a pulsing guitar line takes over and ‘Magnificent’ starts to build in to proper indie-folk-rock stomper. “You have no idea just how magnificent, how magnificent you are” they sing and soon enough we’re off on a rollercoaster road of Mumford & Sons proportions that is designed to swell the emotions and arrest the heart as they sing of love, respect and adoration.  ‘Magnificent’ is thoroughly enjoyable and, I’m sure, a staple of a live set designed to whip up a frenzy of dancing feet and, eventually, hoarse voices.


Live Dates:

3rd November – Big Comfy Bookshop, Coventry
4th November – The Globe, Hay on Wye
5th November – Costa Coffee, Barrow in Furness
8th November – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham

9th November – The Cavendish Arms, London

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

MORRISSEY & MARSHALL – ALBUM REVIEW

Morrissey & Marshall – We Rise (Mass Market Recordings) 
Morrissey & Marshall - We Rise


Release Date: Out Now

Confession time folks. Whenever I get sent CDs to review (actual, physical CDs) they usually go in to a pile in my car and get sifted through as I drive. This one slipped down the side of the passenger seat so I missed the release date by a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I was hugely impressed by this second album by London dwelling Dublin duo so I wanted to give you a heads up. ‘We Rise’ opens up with ‘Cold November Sunrise’ and immediately you are hooked in to one of the most anthemic indie anthems of recent times. The hypnotic opening bars are soon blown away by some rhythmic horns and a funky little riff paving way for these lyrics “Imagine the hand of a blank man feeling his brother’s heartbeat, holding the chest of a white man out and proud in the street”. This song lays down a marker for the album with themes of inclusion, standing up to ignorance and generally getting the best out of life. It’s an incredibly strong start.

Now, I have an issue with the track ordering on this album as I think more could have been made of that opening before dropping down to the Phil Spector inspired ‘Love & Be Loved’. It’s a fine tune but the kaleidoscopic melodies lose something of the earlier momentum in the gentle acoustic strum and rich harmonies. Nevertheless, the funk and rock themes are back on ‘Play On’ as the band channel the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and Kasabian for a proper indie anthem for those sweaty club shows. Then you have a ‘Hangin’ Around’ which takes Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit In The Sky’ riff and mangles it through some sort of psychedelic meat grinder – in a really good way, though. ‘She’s Got Love’, by contrast, is a straight up, Beatles inspired love song that you could easily expect to hear as a first dance at indie weddings all across the land.

Morrissey & Marshall - like Ant & Dec
The second half of the album opens with the sprinkled optimism of ‘Stand Down’ which slowly emerges in to another anthem with the twin vocals clenching fists and punching the air among a defiant barrage of drums and disorientating guitars. You can’t help but feel that if Liam Gallagher had this quality of songwriting and production behind his solo debut he would be being carried at shoulder height through the streets of Manchester by now. There’s a sense of 80s pomp around ‘Beautiful World’ but if you strip that away you get a great, Deacon Blue inspired window on to the world with lines that floor you with their blunt perceptiveness: “Who stole creative souls and made them live their lives by remote controls and why did they do it?”.

After the bombast of some of the earlier tracks it is surprising but not unwelcome to come across the slow country chug of ‘We’re The Greatest’ with it’s layered, Lennon-esque climax. ‘I Need You’ is one of those songs that is beautiful in it’s pure simplicity with raw vocals atop some warm piano notes – I hope they never even considered recording this song with anything else as it’s just perfect the way it is. The album closes with a relatively short song, ‘The Light Breaks’, which has a beautifully gentle acoustic ripple about and those intertwining vocals are pure Simon and Garfunkel. The Morrissey and Marshall story of packing up their guitars and heading to London from Ireland to find their fortune is the stuff of a screenwriter’s wet dream and the fact that the soundtrack would be this good just makes  it even more of a no brainer.


Live Dates:

6th September – De Maatschappij, Scheveningen
7th September – Kino, Rotterdam
8th September – Frietrock Festival, Ypres
10th September – Hedon Zwolle, Zwolle
16th September – Mike The Pies, Listowel
25th September – Galerie Cinema, Essen

26th September – Galerie Cinema, Essen

VIOLET YOUTH – SINGLE REVIEW

Violet Youth – She Said (Modern Sky UK) 
Violet Youth - She Said

Release Date: 8th September 2017

The guitars that open this new track and video from Blackburn upstarts Violet Youth are luscious. ‘She Said’ feels like a long-lost track by the Cure given a fresh approach by the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and Foals with it’s dreamy, almost disinterested vocals, those aforementioned guitars and drums that sit somewhere between tribal and nightclub vibes. The real hero on this tune, however, is the bassist (Jonny according to the band’s Facebook page) who plays with a rare mix of precision and groove which gives the song depth where it might otherwise have sounded light and flighty. A great example of how a band can be greater than the sum of their parts if they learn how to use those parts effectively.


Live Dates:

5th September – Deep Cuts @ Buyers Club, Liverpool w/Deja Vega + Rival Bones
30th September – Liquidation @ EBGBs, Liverpool
7th October - Gullivers, Manchester
14th October - Oxjam Festival @ The Moorings, Sowerby Bridge

Watch The Video: 

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PALE HONEY – SINGLE REVIEW

Pale Honey – Get These Things Out Of My Head (Bolero Recordings) 
Pale Honey - Get These Things Out Of My Head


Release Date: Out Now

Ooh this is delightfully creepy; beautifully dark and stark. Swedish duo Pale Honey represent all the best things about lo-fi garage pop-punk and ‘Get These Things Out Of my Head’ wraps it all up in one perfectly formed package. The distorted, scratchy guitars that are the carpet of the songs have an underlay of sinister, grumbling synths and Tuva and Nelly (for they are Pale Honey) are pogoing relentlessly on the shag pile. This feels like the natural progression of bands like the Raincoats, Sugarcubes and the Long Blondes but rather than evolution this is distilling things down to their purest form and it sounds great.


Live Dates:

15th November – Katalin, Uppsala

29th November – Debaser Hornstulls Strand Bar, Stockholm 

ELIZA AND THE BEAR – SINGLE REVIEW

Eliza And The Bear – Higher 
Eliza And The Bear - Higher


Release Date: Out Now

There’s no denying it, this tune is a whole lot of fun. London collective Eliza & The Bear release ‘Higher’ just in time to be a massive hit at every Freshers Night around the country as 18 year olds everywhere cut loose before they try to get their heads round Psychology degrees they’ll use in three years working in telesales. A pumping bassline and a Nile Rogers beat kick things off before those funky disco guitars and falsetto vocals join in and things start to really cook. By the time we hit the chorus, the 80s horns and synths get laid over the top and we’re transported to a party at George Michael’s house at the peak of his Wham success. This is the very definition of a cross-over hit which will appeal to 6Music listeners as much as it will to the audiences of Heart FM and, judging by the video, these guys had as much fun making this as I had listening to it. Dive on in, the water is lovely.


Live Dates:

9th September – Moira Calling, Moira w/Flyte
14th October – Cub Fest @ The Welly, Hull
15th October – Cub Fest @ The Waterfront, Norwich


Watch The Video: 

<iframe width="854" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/W5cSqyQHzaY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

MS MOHAMMED – SINGLE REVIEW

Ms Mohammed – Alibi
Ms Mohammed - Alibi

Release Date: 29th September 2017

There are those that make music for the pursuit of fame, fortune and the belief that all that glitters is in fact gold. Then, there are those that use music as a medium through which to communicate, pass on a message and to educate. Ms Mohammed is firmly in the latter camp but, on the evidence of this latest track, ‘Alibi’, there’s a fair chance that the former camp still has some space for the artist formerly known as Dana Jade as well. The layered rhythms that kick things off are impressive off but when that circular buzz-saw of a guitar riff slides in you know you’re in for something special. Mohammed’s vocal is low, sultry and soulful but there’s a clenched-teeth steel to the delivery that tells you there’s no messing to be had here. The melodies blend Asian roots with Western influences and before long your swept away by the hypnotic swirl of this track, whipped up in to a frenzy that transcends genre, gender, culture and pretty much any other dividing line that society wishes to lay down. Ms Mohammed mean business so get on board now while the train is moving just slow enough for you to grab a hold – things are about to speed up.