Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Vintage Trouble Live @ Moles, Bath

 My view of the 'stage'

I came home from Uni for Christmas on Sunday and was even more excited than in previous years for I had managed to obtain tickets to go and see Vintage Trouble with my girlfriend. I couldn't believe I had been so lucky, as it was a rescheduled show that had previously sold-out, not to mention the fact that it was in a tiny venue. It turned out to be one of the best shows I've ever seen and I just wanted to share with you the awesomeness that is a VT show.

The venue capacity is a mere 200 and we found ourselves right at the front which was perfect; the 'stage' is barely a foot off the ground so had we been a just a few rows back we wouldn't have seen much of the band. Moles is a real dirty, dingy basement venue, surely the most-suited environment to watch some dirty, rock 'n rollin' blues and no sooner had Vintage Trouble taken to stage after a much-anticipated wait were the 200-strong crowd dancing the night away. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who expected an explosive opener, but as the band took to the stage to be met by the rapturous applause and whooping of a a very-ready audience, the gentle, bluesy intro of 'Not Alright By Me' eased in, complete with the beautiful, soulful vocals of Ty whose usual manic stage-presence was surpassed by a sultry demeanour that was befitting of the style of the song. It caught everybody completely off-guard and no sooner had we been drawn in, the band kicked into their two-hour set and the walls were literally dripping wet by the end.

The entire show was a real pleasure to be a part of; although these American blues maestros had opened stadiums for Bon Jovi around Europe over the summer and featured on Jools Holland, the UK's primary live-music TV show, you could just tell they meant every heartfelt note and wanted to be there every second of the night. The tiny venue really did suit their style perfectly and the audience participation was fantastic. It felt so informal and that all anybody wanted to do was have a good time, the band included, who appeared humbled by such a small audience and rocked just as hard as they had done at Old Trafford in June to tens of thousands.

As we filed out of the sweaty dungeon two hours later, the band were already at the merch table and I was thankful I'd pulled a poster off of the wall as we went inside which was swiftly signed by all four members of the band. Not only were they eager to meet their audience without hesitation, going directly from the stage after the gig, their sincerity didn't stop there. As they passed posters and CDs along the line they didn't keep their heads down as if they had to be there, you got a sense that they really wanted to be there, with each member making conversation with me and really engaging on a personal level.

Not only was the show incredible, I was equally impressed and grateful for the level of interaction and effort from the band during and after the show to really connect with their audience and this is what made the show such a special and memorable evening, not to mention one of the greatest and most-rocking gigs I've experienced. A friend of mine introduced the band to me, and I then caught them on Jools Holland and have since been lucky enough to see them twice; if you're a fan of the blues, rock 'n roll or just love to see a live band I urge to catch Vintage Trouble whenever you get the opportunity, for if it's a sell-out stadium crowd or 200 people squashed like sardines underground I can assure you that you won't be disappointed. These guys really are the pioneers showcasing a true and raw love for the arts and of what they do so meet them halfway and experience music how it really should be.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

New Artist Alert: Flatland Wolf

Just when I was losing faith with all the pop-punk drivel that seems to still find its way out there, along came Flatland Wolf with all the howling promise and snarling intent of a new-folk quartet from Southampton, who take influence from The Band, Crosby Stills & Nash to the more recent sounds of Fleet Foxes. I'm sure they'll hate me for saying it, but they'll have to get used to the Mumford & Sons comparisons early-on; on this side of the pop-folk genre there aren't many artists to draw likeness with and, equally, a wholly different sound one can create that can set you far enough apart.

The limelight is shared between SJ Mortimer and Jack Birks, the male and female vocals that work so well together and supported so fantastically by a whole host of instruments including acoustic guitars, banjos, harmonicas, mandolin and piano courtesy of Joe Harrison and Kieran Morgan.

I urge you to catch this fresh folk fever while the wolves are still at the door; submerge yourself safely within the refuge of your four walls and the company of a bottle of wine (alright, maybe not an entire bottle) and devour the wonderful music of Flatland Wolf. It's a great, fresh sound that has come along just at the right time; as an antidote to all that is shit within music, allow me to prescribe Flatland Wolf to you (daily consumption advised) to remind you that there are still those out there with drive, passion and talent worthy of turning this industry around. Great sounds from great guys, enjoy.

To listen for youself, check out their demo online. For more information, be sure to check out the Flatland Wolf Facebook Page.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Stories Beats Stuff UK

‘He who dies with the best stories, wins’. It’s the 21st Century. Gone are the hoarders of yesteryear, it’s all about downsizing this and reshuffling that. It’s most definitely cool to be small. In an age where we’ve replaced all our CDs that took up a whole wall in our flat with a palm-sized digital music library, everyone’s looking for an excuse to take up the minimalist approach. And what better opportunity to do this whilst being in with the chance of winning a money-can’t-buy trip to New Zealand?!

I thought I might have your attention now. It’s so simple, just pick which of the two-week experiences you’d like to win; maybe you fancy the ‘Summer Rhythm’ music festival trip, where you’ll partake in a road-trip across the South-East of NZ before ending up at Rhythm & Vines music festival with a chance to catch Calvin Harris, Pendulum and Example. Or perhaps you might prefer the ‘Beaches & Boats’ option where, in the Bay Islands, you’ll get a chance to swim with dolphins, dive the Poor Knights Islands and sun yourself on glorious white sandy beaches. A tough decision I know, but once you’ve made your choice, film yourself picking out the material possessions you’re happy to trade in for the chance to win, upload the video to YouTube and share it all over Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to get your mates to share it about too, because the top-10 videos with the most views will be short-listed to help find the ultimate winner!

Want to check out my video...

This global competition opened on the 9th November for anyone over the age of 18 but is only running until the 31st November so get your entries in quick! It’s so easy and you’ve just got to get sharing. Need some more inspiration? Check out this video. Looks great, but I reckon you could do better. How about this one? Still very cool but remember this is a competition! So now you’ve seen some examples, get out there and make your own, but make it ten times better!

Be sure to Like the New Zealand Facebook page for your chance to keep up to date with all their latest offers and ensure you’re at the front of the queue for all their upcoming competitions. I did a bit of research on NZ as I must admit, it isn’t somewhere I’d considered as a holiday destination before. That’s all changed now though; New Zealand is a traditional country but with a great fresh, new party vibe that it’s bursting to share with all you guys! The country is oozing with culture, awash with white, sandy beaches and has a great night-life; the best of all worlds I’m sure you’ll agree! Oh, and there’s no need to cram in those last-minute language sessions because they speak English! What more could you want?!

So I think you’ve got the idea by now, for more information and to submit your video check out the official website, otherwise get filming, get sharing and get on that plane! Make yourself some memories with this amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You only live once and you can sleep when you’re dead!


The Ocean's Eyes TOUR!

Good morning! I'm pleased to announce that, in association with Drop Stop Rock Clothing,  The Ocean's Eyes are taking to the road very soon alongside The Return and Taking Hayley. Listings are as follows:

Sun 04 Dec/SHEFFIELD/O2 Academy 2
Mon 05 Dec/LEEDS/Cockpit3
Tue 06 Dec/NEWCASTLE/Riverside
Wed 07 Dec/NORWICH/B2
Thu 08 Dec/BIRMINGHAM/Ballroom2
Fri 09 Dec/LONDON /Islington O2 Academy 2

Tickets are available here so be sure to check them out in a city near you!

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Ocean's Eyes - Lost Along The Way EP Available Now

You may recall my post at the beginning of the month highlighting the release of The Ocean's Eyes' EP 'Lost Along The Way'? No? Well, refresh your memory with the feature (including EP audio sampler) here.

Refreshed? Good. Well today's the day; the band kick off their release date with a launch party at King's Cross Scala tonight in London, followed by a supporting tour:

October 25/Norwich B2
October 26/Nottingham Rock City
October 27/Cambridge Cornerhouse
October 29/Basingstoke Bang Bar
October 30/Brighton Prince Albert
October 31/London Zenith Bar (Halloween party)
November 01/Bristol Croft

Grab your copy here and be sure to check ourt the guys on tour!

Birds In Flight: EP 'A Hand To Hold' Available Now!

Birds In Flight's hotly-anticipated EP 'A Hand To Hold' is available now! After a fantastic launch party at Monto Water Rats, London UK, fans are now able to download a digital copy of the 4-track EP here.

Physical copies of the CDs are available from the band at their upcoming shows:

02 Nov/The Riflemans, Glastonbury
04 Nov/The Cellar, Southampton
17 Nov/Avondales, Southampton
03 Dec/Joiners, Southampton

Keep up to date with all goings-on with the band on their Facebook Page.

Friday, 14 October 2011

New Artist Alert: Anchors

Introducing metal/posthardcore quintet Anchors! Admittedly not really my thing, but I can certainly appreciate the guys' awareness of their genre and the talent on show here.

Based in Bournemouth, UK, the band have been together for about a year and a half playing shows all over the South Coast, picking up fans along the way thanks to their tight and energetic live shows. The guys have a mini-album available as a FREE download which you can get your hands on here.

Upcoming Shows
Friday 21st October/The White Horse, Bognor w/ In Place of Hope and more TBC
Sunday 27th November/Facebar, Reading - Charity Half Dayer w/ Echoes, Death Of An Artist and more
Monday 5th December/Southampton Solent Uni Student Union w/ 5 Miles North of Nowhere and more TBC
Be sure to check out Anchors on Facebook for more gig dates, photos and music and make sure you catch them live soon!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

New Artist Alert: The Ocean's Eyes

The I Am Mighty army is growing stronger by the month, as latest newcomers The Ocean's Eyes signed with the label last month and have their latest EP 'Lost Along The Way' available for pre-order now. This alternative/pop-punk quintet hail from London and you can pre-order your copy now here.

All Pre-Orders will be signed by the band and come with some free stickers from I Am Mighty Records. Lost Along The Way is set for general release on October 24th. Talking of the band's latest offering, lead singer Luke McInroy said: "In each song we talk about being alone or being lost. With the title of our E.P. being 'Lost Along The Way' it means that sometimes you've got to lose yourself to make you realise what you have, or who you need to become to overcome the problems in your life and make yourself a stronger person".

Included below for your listening pleasure is a sample of the EP.

   The Ocean's Eyes- Lost Along The Way Sampler by I Am Mighty Records

For more information on the band please visit I Am Mighty or check them out on Facebook.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

New Artist Alert: These Days

That this band share their name with my favourite Bon Jovi album has no bearing on my wanting to share them with you...honest. I don't think there's much more correlation to draw from anyway, so I'll lay that to rest now (on a bed of roses perhaps?) and get on with this feature. This quartet from Salisbury are set to launch their six-track mini album titled 'Hope and Glory' of which I've reviewed a few tracks from below. The guys 'take inspiration from the likes of Foo Fighters and Brand New; These Days have an exciting and different outlook on music'. I'm excited to hear what this rock/pop/punk outfit can bring to the table...

Glory/ A much calmer introduction to the CD than I expected considering the band's influences and pop-punk description. Glory starts life as a soothing, almost folk-tinged track, gaining momentum as the drums hope to pull it from its Mumford & Sons' clutches whilst melodic guitars and quintessential vocals stake their claim and dig in their heels. The track has a progressive feel to it as the mix is enriched with a growing musical spectrum and a really refreshing sound. Just past the one minute mark the track kicks in with a strong and epic-sounding chorus before dipping, showcasing the great-sounding vocals and imaginative backing harmonies. There's a fantastic guitar riff that kicks in, lifting the track many miles away from it's roots a mere two minutes ago but it's been such a progressive and cleverly crafted journey that nothing is out of place. A fabulous start.

Always/ Is it too much of a coincidence that the band share another Bon Jovi song title? I'm certain this won't be a cover (and for the sake of the review, will stop with the references now!). An edgier second track kicks in, the vocals reminding me of the All American Rejects before a short pre-chorus introudces a half-time feel that texturally allows the track to grow. The vocals take on a more Gerard Way sound here, or at least some of the melodies remind me of him, as frantic drums and guitar work take over as the second verse enters. The snare strokes on the drums are perhaps a little overkill every bar, it may have been more effective every two or perhaps even every four as it creates quite a busy sound., but the impact of the half-time second chorus is heightened by this. The subtle backing vocals add a lot to the track, and the breakdown section really allows for the rhythm section to step into the limelight as winding guitar works away in the background. More vocals enrich this section before the last double chorus kicks in, the latter making the leap to a double-time feel which is a great touch, before a very abrupt and unexpected end.

Misery/ I love the sound of this as the track starts off with everyone all-in; the drums really fight for centre stage against the dual-layered lead-vocals with a great tom-driven beat topped with uplifting hits on the bell of the ride. The vocals eventually stride on ahead in the final straight as an interesting and chunky chord progression highlights the changing section before the chorus comes around in almost two parts (unless I've misread the specific sections). I love the minor-sounding first-half of the chorus (or extended pre-chorus!) as the vocals stick close to the home key, always threatening to leap up into the next octave. It's a lovely interval, as they eventually leap a fifth above (tonic to dominant; a winning formula!) which creates a really uplifting section against the same interesting chord progression that was featured before; listen out for the ingenious second chord that adds a real alternative touch. I'm not sure how much thought has gone into the arrangement of the track but either way the effect on the listener is perfect. Suddenly a punky-section kicks in and I've realised that this band are the masters in really mixing up the theme of a track, dipping in and out of many different sub-genres whilst maintaining an over-riding feel. It's a great asset they hold and they pull it off perfectly.

I've genuinely enjoyed listening to a really refreshing sound that thinks outside the box and really pushes the pop-punk boundaries in a way that can keep the genre alive. To think this EP started off with a Mumford-esque feel, only to morph seemlessly into a MCR drive really pays a compliment to the song-writing abilities of this band and I hope they are the pioneering force to be reckoned with. As the 'same old' pop-punk genre threatens to die out a boring and drawn-out death, finally someone is taking it upon themselves to help give birth to its sister genre and, lest we forget, every genre of music we listen to once started life as something very different. I urge you to check out These Days on Facebook and either get yourselves a copy of the mini-album or catch them live. Brilliant stuff.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Boy Set Sail - We're Almost There EP Review

Do you remember my introduction of Boy Set Sail with their EP sampler recently? Well the EP, entitled We're Almost There, is now available and I've had a little listen myself. Check out my review below and be sure to get yourself a copy to help support our struggling young music scene.

Track 1/Rewind/ A strong and anthemic start to the CD highlights a cool-sounding pop song with fantastic lead vocals and a great song-writing abilitiy. Backing vocals help to support the main vocals throughout as the lead guitar dabbles in cheeky lead-lines here and there adding a little more colour to the track. It's quite a short song coming in at just 2.30 mins but packs a strong and determined punch nonetheless.

Track 2/Believe/ Starts in a similar way to its predecessor with chugging, palm-muted guitar and introspective vocals before the rest of the band enter. The chorus is strong, once again led by the vocals and there's a lot of energy in the track but I'm not sure the production does the overall CD justice. The drums in particular sound a little deflated and the whole EP could perhaps do with some more brightness and texture to help it really jump out. This, of course, isn't to take away from the song-writing and arrangements; although Believe is even shorter than Rewind, all the tracks demonstrate a great interest and awareness of the genre and the band demonstrate this well with really tight performances.

Track 3/You Are/ A mix of double and half-time rhythms introduce the mid-way part of the EP with a more interesting track. There are some unexpected chord progressions which are welcomed and some progressive work as the track builds, introducing new guitar ideas in the second verse and a fluent breakdown section. The final chorus kicks in really well with loads of energy from the drums, again playing with the rhythms, before settling for a relentless double-time feel as the lead vocals step further into the limelight with some strong final notes.

Track 4/All These Things/ A confident start and some more cool-sounding chord progressions. The verses rock but the chorus is a little weak in comparison and doesn't stand out on its own as much as others on the EP have done so. This might be because the vocals lead the chorus sticking too close to the home key as in the verses and don't break up into the next octave until the end of the second line; the chorus needs to pack a punch all of it's own and not amble so politely in from the verse. It's a safe track; by all means sounds good and fits in perfectly with the rest of the EP but it's no highlight for me.

Track 5/ This Time Around/ Track 5 marks the end of the journey with Boy Set Sail and safely remains well within the pop-punk bordera showcasing strong lead vocals, supportive backing, frantic bursts of drum fills and confident lead-guitar lines. I'm glad the vocals remain with an unashamed English accent and haven't adopted a bad American twang; there's nothing worse with UK pop-punk than when bands feel the need to completely emulate our cousins across the pond in every which way. The breakdown here sounds cool, bravely sticking with just vocals and guitar for quite a length of time but it pays dividends when the rest of the band are re-introduced. The song, especially the ending, definitely has a finalising quality to it that rounds off the EP well. The band have definitely honed their sound and I'm sure are even better live, matched on a like-with-like bill and with a bit more volume and brightness behind them. They're brilliant at what they do but I'm not sure the sound of the EP in general has enough for them to stand out in a very crowded sea of pop-punk enthusiasts. The ideas and musicality are great and I wish the boys every success but I'm worried that the sound is a little too familiar in terms of what a pop-punk audience might expect and sometimes you've got to step outside the box to ensure your voice is heard.

You can purchase your copy of the EP from iTunes or from the label's website where you can keep up to date with the band.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

New Artist Alert: Two Types of Clothing

When We Were Beautiful is proud to introduce Two Types of Clothing, a hard-edged pop-punk trio who come bursting onto the scene already with loads of gigging experience. The guys hope to add to this soon when they become of driving age (17 in the UK) and have the freedom of the open road ahead of them. In the meantime, their current three-track EP 'It's Not Our Fault' fell into my proverbial lap and I was more than intrigued to have a listen...

Track 1/The Truth's Off The Bed/ A poetic title that sets the lyrical scene for the track, as a strong guitar riff builds, guiding us through the accompanying half-time feel then all-out double time massacre. I love the chords playing behind the main riff; it's a very genre-specific riff and feel. The vocals are all-out punk with a quintessential hint of English charm and, to be honest, it's refreshing to hear male vocals over a pop-punk track without a pretentious American tinge. The guitar threatens to burst in throughout the verses as the rhythm section drives along relentlessly, eventually parting for the half-time feel chorus. The breakdown goes exactly where it needs to, with a great intro to it and the solo is just what was called for; predictable perhaps but for all the right reasons. The band tease with the final chorus, letting big guitar chords ring and introducing a hi-fi vocal sound before everything falls back into place for one final flourish. A really explosive opener with great energy.

Track 2/Picks and Sticks/ A prickly guitar riff opens up to a more melodic and dynamic pattern as it introduces the second track that's just as ferocious as the first. This band's all about the riffs and I can really appreciate the song-writing abilities of the band; they're tight and all very capable musicians topped off with really raw and confident vocals and great musical ideas. The verses are imaginative and the chorus comes like a punch in the face, hitting you like a freight train and not leaving any prisoners but it's not so heavy that it wouldn't work on Radio 1 which is a great balance I think the band have struck. The guitar chords that ring out in the breakdown sound a little weak against the drums and could do with a little more volume and reverb on them. I think they just sound a tad dry but it's nothing to do with the arrangement, more about post-production work. The section it feeds into though sounds great and again the chord progression and the specific voicings really work well. It dips once more before gaining volume for the final chorus, adding to the impact that the punch of a final chorus should pack.

Track 3/Limitations/ A crackly, feeding-back intro filters through before the guitar riff welcomes us to the final track of the EP, I think the only criticism I would have is that all the intros are quite lengthy; it was almost a full minute before the vocals came in and I think listeners (and record execs alike) want to be grabbed as soon as possible to maintain their interest. The harmonies explored here work really well and are really nice to hear; the track itself isn't as strong as its predecessors but the addition of backing vocals helps it to stand its own. The drummer sounds great in this track, really showcasing himself well with loads of flashy fills and busy grooves; the breakdown is guitar-led and could easily lead to a solo but works equally well feeding back into the chorus. The song ends well and caps off the EP perfectly.

Two Types of Clothing are hitting the studio again soon to record a track that will be available on iTunes for a pocket-friendly 79p so be sure to check that out soon and keep up to date with the guys on their Facebook page where you'll also find a rocking version of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

EP Review: Four Weeks Inbetween - Chasing Wasted Time

It's a Friday night at The Joiners, Southampton's premier small rock venue, and hoards of loyal teenage supporters are kitted out with the latest t-shirt from the pop-punk wonderkids Four Weeks Inbetween, emblazoned with their slogan 'You Hide Behind Your Tainted Smile'. They are eagerly awaiting the band's headline set at their EP launch show, and all the sweat and shoving that goes with it. The band had a great crowd for a local show that stuck around for the entire set and were eager for more. Even more impressive was that, the band's vocalist, Luu McGonagle, had them in the palm of her hand. If she said jump, they jumped. If she said singalong, they knew all the words. But it wasn't cringey like it could have been, far from it; it was admirable. Friends joined in for signature tracks, either on the floor or by crashing the stage and there was a lot of energy and fun in the room. These guys look the part, sound the part and most importantly, act the part, and I wish them all the luck in the world for the future.

And now onto the EP; Chasing Wasted Time. Physically it's a very professional product, in plastic case with printed CD, great artwork, and a small booklet which features photos of the band and lyrics for their two singles. But I know you're much more interested in the audio rather than the visual...

Track 1/Sit Tight/ An explosive opener to the CD with strong vocals from the outset shared between lead and backing. The guitar is afforded a sudden break showcasing imaginative writing before the really strong chorus drops which has a great vocal hook. The rhythm section is steady and pulsating throughout; a reliable engine driving this energetic track. The breakdown gradually builds to a strong section before the last chorus, led by lead solo vocals, which works really well. The culmination of the song is a huge final push from all members of the band before a very sudden cut; I wasn't sure it worked first-time around but when I re-listened it was quite a brave thing to do and does, in fact, work and work well. A great opener to the EP.

Track 2/Chinos/ The first of the band's singles from the EP features prominently, and is a great throw-back to fast and fun pop-punk bands ranging from Blink 182 to Avril Lavigne; the lyrics smack of teenage-heartache whilst the music reveals no let-up and drives along, pulled furiously by the crotchet snare strokes which are as relentless as the song itself. The breakdown section again showcases some great lead-guitar work before it bows out to allow the lead vocals to lead into the final chorus and a great tapping-guitar solo, mixes of half and double-time rhythms, huge cymbals, frantic bass lines and anything else they could think to throw into the mix. Huge, and another great pop-punk song worthy of it's single-status.

Track 3/Lost/ Discerning, winding guitar leads us into the mid-way point of the CD eventually making way for steady chugging, palm-muted guitars and dual-layered lead vocals. The chorus is equally as strong as its EP-counterparts and musically shows a great awareness of writing for the genre. The lead guitar definitely leads this track though, returning to its hook before the second verse; it's setting up for one hell of a solo. The breakdown is very much led by the vocals, with a great heavy beatdown section which unfortunately doesn't lead to the blistering guitar solo I expected which is the only thing the track is missing. The vocals bring the song home and it ends as it begins with the lead guitar line, although personally I'd have preferred it if the lingering note hadn't been resolved, creating a feeling of unease with the listener but this is a minor, and most importantly, personal opinion.

Track 4/Alaska/ A great and strong-sounding chord progression accompanied by huge drums provide a great intro, as the track drops dynamically in the first verse and progressively builds from there before it reaches the same energy apparent in the intro in the great sounding chorus. The band have defiintely honed their sound, tipping their hats to tried and tested writing techniques of pop-punk greats and pull it off really well. I love the breakdown sections with the held-back dual-vocals shared between the lead and backing before they become a little more desperate and push a little more as the music progresses further into a slick outro.

Track 5/Make Do, With You/ I've sung the praises of this track before, very much the leading song on the EP which not only stands out coming from my speakers, but holds it own in a live setting too with a great singalong chorus. This was proven by the droves of loyal supporters at the EP launch show as they sung 'I've got so much left to say, why won't you tell me anyway' at the tops of their voices. Back to the EP and a hi-fi guitar sound introduces arguably the band's strongest song. We're sucked out of the vortex and released among the huge full-band sound as the verse gathers speed (not literally, the drummer is holding down the groove and doing a great job!) before the chorus explodes onto the scene complete with well-supportive backing vocals and great vocal melodies. The obvious hook of the track makes up the breakdown section; they conflict slightly when the lead vocals come back in briefly but this might be more a case of levels in the mix rather than the actual idea. The band tease at an ending before we're dragged back around again one more time. The drum outro I feel could have been longer layered with loads of reverb to give it a huge sound but it's a cool idea.

Track 6/Chinos/ It's been a relentless ride with the Four Weeks Inbetween crew and much-needed rest is sought in the acoustic version of an earlier-featured track which is a great move. It really allows the lead vocals to showcase themselves in among so much more space and sheds the entire song in a whole new light. It works equally well as an acoustic ballad and I'm glad they included it at the end to round-off a really professional-sounding EP. They work around the guitar solo section well with a much calmer offering and I love that they revisit this at the end, leaving a really positive final thought with the listener. In all, a really strong sounding CD that I hope paves more of a path for this band who are well on their way to making a name for themselves as long as the pop-punk genre remains strong for a little bit longer, providing a leap-pad for them and their infectious tracks.

For more info, be sure to visit the band's website and keep up to date with them on Facebook.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

New Artist Alert: Boy Set Sail

Introducing Boy Set Sail, the latest pop-punkers to join the I Am Mighty Records roster and I bring news that their debut EP, We're Almost There, is available for pre-order now. All Pre-Orders will be signed by the band and come with some free stickers from I Am Mighty Records.

You can pre-order your copy here! Included below is an EP sampler to give you a flavour of what to expect from the Welsh quartet:

Boy Set Sail - We're Almost There Sampler by I Am Mighty Records

You can keep up to date with Boy Set Sail on their Facebook page.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

New Artist Alert: Thomas Neptune

When We Were Beautiful would like to introduce Thomas Neptune, a multi-instrumentalist who currently resides in Los Angeles and continues to 'carry the musical torch' as he follows in his talented family's footsteps. He may have been seen from time-to-time behind the drum-kit, but we all know that drummers are secretly envious of the attention deserved by the lead-singer and it's not long before we (and I use the term collectively!) crave more of the lime-light. Well, Neptune is one such soul, whose debut EP 'Down To Earth' features himself front and centre and I've been lucky enough to snatch a listen.

The prickly, picky and extremely-positive sounding 'Unbreakable' opens with a great uplifting feel and showcases Neptune's soulful, slightly rustic vocals early on. Wise move; this guy has a voice made for radio and his lyrical prowess and arrangements cry out for airplay. It's an almost boy-band sounding vocal but works fantastically against a less-contempary backdrop with swamping synths, bubbling electronics and syncopated rhythms. I'm not sure about the American market, but I'm thinking Neptune should definitely get his music heard by music mogul Simon Cowell as I think he's sitting on a goldmine in terms of an audience across the pond; UK pop fans would lap this up.

'The Good Times' features equally-feel-good acoustic guitar and I love the no-fuss attitude of Neptune's arrangements; no time-wasting in the intros, just get straight to it. The vocals are as confident and crisp as before and he picks fantastic melodies which are kind to the ear and lean towards his pop-friendly sound. The verses are minor and lift to more major-sounding choruses, reminiscent of artists as diverse as Nickelback to The Calling but the constant remains the same; the method works and sells records. The slight lead-guitar work in the second verse was a welcome addition and I love the vocal melody that leads into the choruses. The only thing the song feels it could do with after the short but complete breakdown is a key-change...cheesy perhaps but it just might work! Even without it though this track is great.

A brief listen to 'My Ohio' reveals a foot-stomping, hoe-downing, slide-guitaring party that could tap into an entirely new and different market in the American pop-Country charts that's becoming a little more accepted in the UK with similar artists such as Keith Urban and Taylor Swift. Neptune is certainly sitting on a goldmine, fingers crossed I'll be hearing him on UK Top 40 Radio before the year is out!

'Down To Earth' is available from iTunes here and Thomas Neptune is, of course, available to check out on Facebook.

Afterlife Parade, Reborn and Revisited

You may recall my post of April 6th, 2011 introducing Afterlife Parafe and their debut EP, 'Death'. I'm pleased to announce that I have since had a listen to the second in the two-part album offering, Death's proceeding partner 'Rebirth'. As explained in the previous post, 'Death' sought celebration in the passing of life and explored the emotions connected with this, so naturally the second-part of the album focusses on rebirth.

As you might expect, Rebirth is the exact opposite to Death in every way, including the arrangment and musicality of the tracks. 'Black Woods, White Beach' features a wonderfully uplifting chord-progression and folk/dance/electronic feel. Quinn Erwin's airy vocals are as present and strong as before, whilst the track builds and falls often with a great groove behind it. Soaring vocals and light, ascending melodies are prominent and help to lift the song, reflecting the positive message that Rebirth hopes to bring.

Another track on the EP, Cincinnati, is as equally uplifting and feel-good. The entire concept behind the album is interesting and quite original, to reflect life and death in such a way musically and lyrically. Cincinnati has a great driving pop-rock groove and feel to it throughout, lifted with synth sounds and assuring vocals. The track is fairly average sounding, in that it might not stand out on the radio, but it definitely wouldn't be out of place either; a perfectly-suited radio-friendly pop-rock track. Strangely the hi-hats are high in the mix and hog a lot of the sound-output; I found their level a little distracting in the final chorus as it drew my focus away from the lead vocals but this might be more the opinion of a drummer rather than a music reviewer! Either way, a safe but confident track.

Creating a concept-album with such differing sounds and themes is an extremely brave move; if fans latch onto your retrospective sound and regard you as a dark and soulful artist, they might hate the very opposite of what they loved about you if you counter all of your ideas and overall sound. It's a matter of taste, but I think it's a great idea and works really well. Rebirth is available now on iTunes and Afterlife Parade are on Facebook.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

'Drummers Are Natural Intellectuals'

According to an article in The Telegraph, a study suggests that drummers are naturally intelligent people, thus dispelling the age-old myth that we're all idiots!

The full article is HERE.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The City Calls - A Spark To Ignite EP Review

Fans of pop-punk's freshest hipsters The City Calls have a mere matter of days to wait now for the release of the anticipated 'A Spark To Ignite'. I was lucky enough to get an advance listen, and for fans of the band or simply the genre alike, I can tell you won't be disappointed.

1/Get Away/ An explosive start to the CD with loads of great guitar work going on parts for the fantastic and mature vocals that lead the way into the first verse. The space allowed by the rest of the band creates a great listening platform to really listen to the lyrics before the energetic chorus burts onto the scene, featuring key-lyric 'You'll never bring us down' teasing in the background. This becomes the feature of the track after a slightly-more relaxed breakdown and a sure-fire singalong at live shows.

2/Kings/ The band have definitely mastered the art of creating a hook, as the second tracks starts as explosively as the first, drawing us in with all guns blazing. The dual-vocals work great here, tipping their caps to their pop-punk knowledge knowing exactly what works and also, what people expect to hear. There's definite Panic! influences in the vocals as the imaginative pre-chorus parts way for another really strong sounding chorus. The track peaks and dips in all the right places; were it too relentless, the effect on the listener is that of being punched in the face by this constant wall of sound but TCC have got it just right. The outro is cool too!

3/Truth or Dare/ A key-sounding song placed strategically in the middle of the EP which maintains the listener's interest without having to stray too far from the overall sound of the CD. The song-writing is really showcased here with a great mix of original ideas and, again, the predictable parts which are equally important. The vocals in the chorus are fantastic; great lyrics and a melody that are once again sure to rouse a singalong and also stick in your head for the rest of the day. The progressive breakdown section builds steadily before leaving the listener dangling in the eye of the storm as one last chorus springs us back to life, setting the wheels in motion for one final go round. A truly great pop-punk track.

4/Kryptonite/ Surely only an exclusively-student band could release a track of this name, although I'm not sure whether it's more reflective of the radioactive element or the dodgy student-favoured cocktail. Either way, this train is showing no signs of slowing as it thunders along onto track 4 that still has my feet tapping and head nodding along approvingly. This track feels to be all about the vocals and it's a great performance which doesn't take away from the imaginative guitar work going on in the background. It's quite brave to feature such a long solo-drum breakdown that doesn't particularly build but it sets up the great-sounding call and response section between the vocals and their backing really well.

5/Lucky Start/ I love the sound of the guitar intro; quite different sounding to everything that's come previously before it, which can be said for the progression and overall sound of the full track that follows. It's evident that the band rely heavily on the use of huge-sounding backing-vocals which definitely pay their dues at live shows; the audience always feel an important part of the gig. I really like this track which stands out for all the right reasons and love the short drum burst before the final chorus.

6/Meet In The Middle/ Already the journey is ending; the station is in sight and I fear we're in for a sudden halt rather than a gradual slow and this sums up the EP as a whole. It's been an energetic ride which hasn't failed to showcase mature-song writing abilities and fantastic musicianship along the way. The final track doesn't disappoint, continuing the trend of the preceding tracks and drives along nicely. Another great mix of double-time and half-time feels to maintain interest in the track feature whilst lending their sound well to the genre and the drawn-out vocal note just before the end is fantastic. This is another great release from The City Calls who should definitely not be underestimated and are surely well on their way to greater things.

You can purchase a copy of the EP from I Am Mighty Records or via the band's BigCartel stores, or it will be available to download from 12th August from iTunes and other digital outlets. Happy listening!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Birds In Flight - Promo Shoot and Video!

Hi all, I wanted to share with you the photo-shoot from my band Birds In Flight that we did last week. We had a lot of fun on the beach in Bournemouth and have also compiled a behind-the-scenes video with some footage we shot on the day that features our track 'Biggest Mistake'.

We are planning to record an EP mid-September and will be back gigging from the beginning of October.

Behind The Scenes Movie 

Birds In Flight are available to check out on Facebook now.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

New Artist Alert - Senit

Every once in a while I've delved into sharing some dance music with you all to hopefully widen my outreach and connect with new readers who might otherwise not have been drawn in, but find themselves discovering all sorts of new artists when they get here. Today it's all about Senit and, although this article comes ahead of her fourth studio album, she's still a new artist here!
Senit's latest album isn't available until the end of the year, however her first single ahead of its release is available now on iTunes and from other digital download platforms. Senit is a credited artist in her own right, performing at the Eurovision song contest this year with her previous, and slightly less frantic single, Stand By.
Through The Rain explodes right from the very beginning with its infectious dance hook and Senit's strong, assuring vocals. There's no worry that the chorus won't immediately be stuck in your head, and I love the string part that lifts the verses, adding texture and a lot of colour to the track. There's a danger in dance music (though I'm no expert) of artists layering and layering, thickening the texture of the song so much that it turns out to be a muddy wall of sound but Through The Rain has enough components to sound like a busy dance track and everything cuts through the mix perfectly. It's a relentless dance piece that drops only to allow you to catch your breath but holds no prisoners and steadily kicks back in with its signature hook and drive. It's a real 'floor-filler' as I believe they say in the dance world, and one to keep a listen out for.
As an artist, Senit has a history of musical theatre and performing arts that has seen her career blossom into that of an international pop star. Her first album hit the shelves in May 2006 and and she has since been churning out albums whilst finding time for charity concerts and also working in television. Her latest album has seen a collaboration with some huge American producers who cite Pink, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera as previous clients and promises to be a great spectacle when it's released at the end of the year.
So what are you waiting for?! Go check her out! You can find out more information about Senit here: http://www.believedigital.it/artists/104974,senit.html or by checking out her official website: http://www.senit.it/. For a more personal touch, head over to her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/senitmusic and engage with her army of loyal supporters. Here's a hint of Through The Rain:
<iframe width="560" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/j2GSY6i9mCA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
If you like what you hear or have been swayed by reading my article, be sure to download your own copy of the track from iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/it/album/through-the-rain-single/id445599204 and if you do go for it, let me know by leaving a comment below and hopefully you can engage with some other new Senit fans!



Through the rain

Sponsored Post
Viral video by ebuzzing

Monday, 11 July 2011

Pre-Order 'A Spark To Ignite' - The City Calls

At last the wait is over; you can now pre-order your copy of The City Calls' A Spark To Ignite right here! All pre-ordered copies of the EP come with some free TCC and I Am Mighty Records stickers plus will be signed by all members of the band.

Still undecided? Check out the EP sampler:

The City Calls - A Spark To Ignite Sampler by I Am Mighty Records

Be sure to grab yourselves a copy of the EP, released on August 12th and if you're close to Southampton make sure you're in attendance of the EP release show at The Joiners a few days after on August 19th.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


I think it's safe to say that the French music scene isn't the UK's biggest, but how many of you have dreamt of visiting, or have perhaps even already visited, the beautiful country that is France for a holiday? Francophonik provides you with the opportunity to combine our two favourite past-times; holidaying in France and attending a massive music festival! Francophonik allows you to join its Facebook community and win tickets to French gigs in the UK and music festivals in France, and it's so easy to do! Just LIKE the Francophonik Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/francophonik, and then apply for tickets by simply clicking a box! It's a fantastic opportunity to visit the Country and experience some of the biggest touring artists in the world today.

If you're interested to learn more about the festival itself, be sure to check out the official webpage here: http://www.rockenseine.com/en/. It's a newly expanding festival that has grown from strength-to-strength since 2003 and now boasts a 4th stage in its 9th year whilst still sticking close to its ethical and environmental morals. Ok, you're waiting for the important bit... the artists! Expect to see Foo Fighters, Deftones, Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, Tinie Tempah and many more; what a great line-up!

This is an opportunity I'm not willing to let pass me by; it's so simple and I can't think of anything better than spending my summer holiday in beautiful France whilst listening to some massive bands in a safe and friendly festival environment with thousands of like-minded people. Maybe you're a festival veteran, so why not try the experience in another country?! Perhaps you've yet to book your sumer holiday yet, well this is the perfect opportunity! A huge fan of loads of the artists on the bill?! It couldn't be easier! Head over to the Facebook page and get yourself signed up NOW!

Viral video by ebuzzing

Monday, 4 July 2011

New Artist Alert: Xander & The Peace Pirates

I've been looking forward to sharing with you all the breath of fresh air that is Xander & The Peace Pirates after they opened for Bon Jovi in Manchester a couple of weeks ago. As I said at the time, it doesn't really matter who's supporting when you go and see your favourite band, at the end of the day they're the only thing standing between you and Bon Jovi. It's even harder for the first act, because they're normally a lucky College band who won a radio contest and no one is really that interested. However, when Xander & The Peace Pirates strolled confidently onto Bon Jovi's daunting stage and fired up their set, it was instantly apparent that these guys definitely had something. Whether the experience opened doors for the band or was simply an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience I don't know, but I am sure that these guys are definitely worth checking out and were certainly worthy winners of the opening act competition. Their passion for their music matched with their stage presence and song-writing abilities certainly won over a very large and impatient Manchester crowd on a rather wet Friday 24th June, and I'm delighted to be able to share the guys with you now.

Xander & The Peace Pirates are definitely pioneering the campaign to bring rock music back to the masses and are very ready and willing to derail any R&B or dance acts that get in their way. Their music bio isn't full of pretentious self-evaluative comments or 'John met Gary in 2006 and they looked for a drummer' but instead rhetorically yearns with the reader to ask where the great and real energetic rock bands of the past few decades have gone. Who stole all the good music, the real music?! This Liverpudlian quintet have certainly got what it takes to lead good rock music back into the charts but they certainly can't do it alone. So have a listen for yourself, and help to support what is real and sorely missed in music today.

I had a listen to a couple of the band's tracks, the first being 'Fire' with throwbacks to classic Hendrix-esque style vocals and guitar lines sharing the lead melody and the driving rhythms of Cream brought up to date with funky drums. The lead vocals really carry the track with a wonderful whirring keyboard backdrop and if the solo sections don't have you tapping your feet then maybe music just isn't for you.

'This Life' showcases a slightly different side to the band; we know they can rock but can they pull of a ballad? When the vocals come in, I find myself questioning the originality of the song; I've only heard it once yet it is instantly recognisable. As the song develops and the soaring vocal harmonies carry us through I'm reminded of how perfect the band pulled these off live in a huge stadium setting. The low-key nature of the track allows much-needed space for the vocals to lead, allowing us to really listen to the lyrics and the extended solo-section sounds fantastic as it dribbles out into cascading piano runs and almost-tribal drums before the track builds for its final curtain call. All in all, a great sounding song.

Debut album '11' is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify now; be sure to check them out and keep up to date on their Facebook page.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

New Artist Alert: Fools For Rowan

Fools For Rowan are the latest artist to rise from the Nashville flames, a female-fronted rock quintet who have been around for just over a year now. Debut single 'Burnt Around The Edges' drives with down-n-dirty guitars and soaring vocals. I was a little unmoved with the lo-fi sounding drums in the first verse but the impact of the first chorus when they dive crystal clear smack bang in the middle of the mix certainly told me; it turned out to be a great production technique and a great way to help develop a simple-sounding rock song. The backing vocals in the latter parts of the verses really add depth and the lead guitar work showcases some interesting ideas throughout. The solo section is a little flat, especially at the beginning but lifts towards the end;, I think overall the track has potential as a good rock song but lacks that real and raw impact to help it stand out although this could be down to post-production work rather than the band's song-writing abilities. Hearing it live would definitely cast the deciding vote.

The band's latest single, Dead, is a slighty more sinister and calmer affair, showcasing the band's rock-ballad side and highlighting a more-matured writing style. Soaring strings really lift the choruses and the solo section is a lot stronger in this song. It drops and builds in all the right places and really holds its own as a great-sounding rock ballad, with the passion and feeling I felt was lacking in Burnt Around The Edges a lot more evident here. Check out the video for Dead, where the visuals help to aid the lyrical meaning; amateur videos can be really difficult to get looking professional but Fools For Rowan have definitely pulled it off here:

The band continue to tour across the US, so if you live across the pond be sure to try and catch them soon. For everyone else, head over to the band's Facebook page to keep up to date with everything that's new with Fools For Rowan.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

New Artist Alert: The Reserve

The latest recruits added to the I Am Mighty Records family alongside labelmates The City Calls are The Reserve, another energetic pop-punk outfit from Newport, South Wales. The guys cite their influences to include Four Years Strong and New Found Glory and will be releasing their forthcoming EP in the summer with a subsequent tour certain to follow.

Check out the video for their debut single 'Rewind' here:

Lots of fast and furious fun I'm sure you'll agree, with strong vocals and catchy hooks. The pop-punk train is showing no signs of slowing as yet and these boys are sure to do well. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and catch them live soon!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

New Artist Alert: Vintage Trouble

A friend of mine introduced me to these guys a month or two ago but I've been holding off posting about them since I found out they were to be supporting Bon Jovi at my Manchester show 2 days ago. I have seen them on Jools Holland, had a good listen to their album but figured it would be cool to hear them live too before I passed comment.

Vintage Trouble are a soul/blues/funk quartet from LA, who happen to be managed by Bon Jovi's ex-manager Doc Mcghee which is how they got the support slots for some of Bon Jovi's UK summer shows. They were definitely a breath of fresh air to hear; obviously not an original-sounding band, they wouldn't have really stood out in the 70s but now it's refreshing to hear something a little retro that not many other people are reviving. The thing I love about these guys is firstly their song-writing capabilities, the harmonies and everything going on is really quite simple but it's so effective. As a band, they draw you in live, cramped together on a large stage, each great musicians in their own rights. But also, to watch them live, whether on TV or in the flesh, they put on such a fun and enjoyable show. Front-man Ty is so much fun to watch as a front-man because he's so charismatic; not in a 'running about the stage' kind of way but his dance moves really add another dimension to the music whether he's swaying or spining or using the mic stand as a dance-partner. He has a real natural soulful quality to his vocal which really soothes the listener, which is evident in the slower Nobody Told Me:

Also great is the more upbeat 'Pelvis Pusher', recorded live here in Edinburgh:

Another track worth checking out is Nancy Lee, written about Ty's Mother and Father when they first met at a barn dance, written from his Father's perspective.

I definitely urge you to check these guys out if you're a fan of any sort of blues, funk or soul music as they're bound not to disappoint. Also, they're back performing at tiny venues in the UK later in the year even though they're currently opening stadiums for Bon Jovi; I can't help but think this will be your last chance to see them in such intimate settings!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Bon Jovi - Manchester L.C.C.C. 24th June 2011

Today is not a good day. The day after a Bon Jovi show never is, because I've no idea when they'll be touring again next and I've got withdrawal symptons already. But last night in Manchester was the best time I've seen them yet. I'll get the negatives out the way first; unfortunately I still didn't get to hear Something To Believe In live. I even made a small banner, which Jon and Richie both read and that was quite special in itself, but my hopes to influence the encore were in vain. Richie pointed at it and smiled and Jon took ages to try and read it frowning then just smiled, so that in itself was very cool. The other slight negative (I'm picking at straws here) was the sheer height of the stage! I was right on the barrier, right in front of Richie which was perfect but I could only see Richie, from the knees up of Jon and Hugh on his riser! Tico, David and Bobby might as well have not been there, as I only saw them either on the screens or when they took their bow at the end unfortunately. I'm sure it improved the view for people nearer the back but I've got neck-ache this morning and only saw half of the band!

Anyway, slight negatives over I just wanted to share a bit of my experience and a couple of highlights for anyone who might be interested. Firstly, I only took two photos because it started to rain when the second support act were on and it just got heavier from then! I don't take a lot of photos at concerts but would have loved a couple of Richie posing just feet from me, although I don't think my phone would have agreed with the driving rain! So the snap at the top of this post was one of them, the other of the white mic stand after it had been placed in its usual spot. We were queueing since 8am and luckily it stayed dry all day; the experience was fine and, as we were numbered, were able to use the loos etc without losing our place in line. We went in at 3pm and I couldn't believe there was a big gap at the barrier on Richie's side, so we sat there until the first act went on. I was expecting some got-lucky, average College band but in fact 'Xander & the Peace Pirates' were fantastic; passionate, talented and grateful. Vintage Trouble, the main support were brilliant live, they're a funk/soul/blues quartet with a very dancey frontman and great songs. Bon Jovi came on at 7.30 (I was expecting it to be 8) and played an awesome 2 1/2ish hour show. Here's the set:

Blood on Blood
Bad Name
Born To Be My Baby
We Weren't Born To Follow
In These Arms
Lost Highway
It's My Life
Raise Your Hands
We Got It Goin' On
Captain Crash
Bad Medicine/Roadhouse Blues/Shout
When We Were Beautiful
Bed of Roses
I'll Be There For You
Who Says You Can't Go Home
Sleep When I'm Dead
Work For The Working Man
Have A Nice Day
Keep The Faith

Dry County

Dry County was fabulous and very epic in the driving rain and heavy clouds. Jon had a little angry rant about being in the band that really plays, without tape-recorders and fancy prancy backing dancers and DJs and 50 other mother-fuckers up on the stage with him which was amusing. I'll Be There For You was very special; one of the night's highlights was singing along with 45,000 like-minded people as Jon and Richie just smiled. They were really enjoying themselves, Jon talked of how he couldn't remember a colder, wetter show in Manchester where the crowd didn't want to go home (it's late June, it should be beautiful weather here!). Him and Richie did their joint-stance at the end of IBTFY and it felt like a lifetime as they stood their and absorbed the reaction, surveying the crowd and smiling at each other. And there were definitely a couple of 'oh my god he looked at me' moments with Jon and Richie too :)

Sure you get used to the staple quotes Jon throws in and, if you follow all the set-lists, could probably write the skeleton for the show but last night's gig was the best yet. I was cold, wet, tired, had a 4 1/2 hour drive home ahead of me in the middle of the night but I can honestly say it was my favourite Bon Jovi show yet. And if they place Something To Believe In at one of the other UK shows I think I'll scream!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Towers by The Joe Public out on iTunes Today!

Today's the day, head over to iTunes now to purchase your copy of The Joe Public's latest single Towers or click HERE.

I recently featured the track with its accompanying video which you can check out here to get a preview of the song but if you like it, be sure to support our rising talents and aspiring young musicians and download your own copy. Enjoy!

Friday, 27 May 2011

New Video Alert! The Joe Public - Towers

This is amazing! You have to see this; the very first video from The Joe Public to promote their latest single Towers which you can buy from iTunes here from the 20th June. The song is amazing; it showcases real Incubus flavours with subtle hints of all of the guys' influences, ranging from the grit and feel of Queens of the Stone Age to the song-writing ability and commerciality of Kings of Leon. Their latest offering is, in my humble opinion, the best song they've written to date and if it's a sign of things to come then these boys are on the brink of something huge. Enjoy.

For more on The Joe Public, check out their Facebook Page.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

New Artist Alert: League

Inspired by their story of 'two students having dropped out of college to live in a tent on the beach', I was most definitely intrigued by League and interested to hear what such an experience might do to affect the music one produces. League claim that their music was inspired by their move, calling it "a primal experience that was a huge influence, that we managed to mix with a modern/urban sonority, to make a connection between two distinct worlds" and the very obvious originality in their music is testament to their lifestyle change. 'Golden Maps' relies heavily on the fusion of two worlds and, more importantly, two quite differing styles of new wave-dance which features, in my opinion, heavy influences from indie in the synth melodies, drum sounds and vocal styles. It sounds like a synthed-up indie track, but equally a rocked-up dance track so I'm unsure which pigeon hole to place it in...either way it's got a great sound that takes on an almost tribal and psychadelic route at times.

'Take My Hand' starts with an interesting synth riff that could either settle into a slow, reggae-feel, Manu Chao groove or, equally as comfortably, break into a faster-paced rock beat. The latter has been chosen upon and works well, again with the indie-rock drum sounds prominent and sounding great against the dancy-backdrop of synth and bass-sounds. The track breaks into synth-led sections, staying true to the duo's dance-roots whilst always maintaing that rock under-current, once again with the tribal influences in the chorus.

League are definitely onto something here; a really great marriage of styles brought together by a dramatic personal lifestyle-change; the next step is to hear them pull it off live. And yes, the pair are based in London and gigging. If you want to hear for yourself the psychadelic sounds featured, make sure you check out their Myspace page for music, photos and to keep up to date. Enjoy :)

Monday, 23 May 2011

New Artist Alert: 4 Weeks Inbetween

4 Weeks Inbetween are a female-fronted upbeat pop punk quintet from Southampton but, be warned, do not be deceived by their tender years...these guys rock! With their debut EP 'Tearing At The Seams' available on iTunes, the band are really making a name for themselves on the Southern UK music scene and you can catch them live at The Croft in Bristol on 23rd June.

'Scream, Live, Lie' showcases great guitar work and a really tight rhythm section; I've listened to a load of bands a lot older than these guys who definitely aren't as together as this band are which is great to hear considering that things can only get better. The track is energetic and typically pop-punk but written well; the vocals suit the style of the music and carry the track well.

'These Rumours' is a down-n-dirty punk song, full of frantic guitar, thrashing drums and strong vocals. The drums really drive this track along and I love the high-guitar riff in the chorus. The vocals are definitely the crowing moment of the track though; they carry long, drawn-out notes confidentally and sound wicked in the bridge section. This is a great break-down with chugging bass that builds as the vocals intensify; the rest of the band slowly ease their way back into the fray before a climatic pause is reached followed by an explosive guitar-led break before the last choruses. This is just a great track!

Without You is a lot calmer which is a great move, I definitely need a sit-down after the previous tracks but it still manages to maintain the bands rockier sound in the choruses. The guitar work is inventive whilst the rhythm section hold down the groove well. The vocals are allowed a lot of space in the verses and they sound great, really showcasing lead-singer Luu McGonagle's talent. The track is well-written and the pace change was definitely what was needed.

4 Weeks Inbetween have got a lot going for them and, as they grow as individuals and musicians, can only hope to get tighter and write even better songs. I definitely urge you to check the guys out on their Facebook page to keep up to date and have a listen to their songs for yourselves. Enjoy!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

New Artist Alert: Ellie Walker

Photo by Paul Capewell

Does the name sound familiar? Well it should do, just last month Ellie Walker cropped up in my review for Saturday Night Gym Club after her track 'I Know' was remixed by the band. But today is all about her, and where better to start than with the original version of the song. Ellie's sound fuses folk and acoustic styles with a pop-edge that is clearly evident in 'I Know' with its simple arrangement and structure. The vocals are easy and soothing with a whole load of space, the piano ostinato is always at the foreground of the track whilst the drums are totally minimal but with great lifting-snare fills every so often. There's a real treat towards the end of the track where the vocals harmonise wonderfully; just so you know that I still need you around; the gradual crescendo as the rest of the instruments slip away unnoticed is a fantastic end to a brilliantly simple song.

'Tonight' features a catchy, picky acoustic guitar part that compliments Ellie's dreamy voice which is really exposed here but stands its ground well. The track is really nice but could maybe do with another dimension, perhaps a simple cello part just to maintain the listener's interest and help progress the song. I really enjoyed the cover of 'Call The Shots', adding a slightly sinister and retrospective downbeat feel in great contrast to the Girls Aloud original. Definitely an interesting choice of cover and arrangement.

You can listen to all of Ellie's music on her Myspace page so be sure to keep up to date with her!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Gemma Mewse - First glimpse of 'Neverland'

Check out this first glimpse of 'Neverland', the title track taken from the fabulous Gemma Mewse's album due out July 2011!

Be sure to check Gemma out on her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Amy Heffernan - Friggin Little Know It All

Remember my introduction to the fab Amy Heffernan back in September 2010? Well she's back with a less self-indulgent yet rather more angry-sounding album entitled 'Friggin Little Know It All'. Track names such as the title track of the album, 'Ignorant Pig' and 'Crap' hint that Amy might have been bottling up some rage since we last heard from her yet her likeable teenage punk-rock image remains the same and I'm confident her latest offering will be as energetic as her last.

'Ignorant Pig' hints at an angsty-rock number with the chugging palm-muted guitar in the intro until the waves of synth throw us off the scent until the chorus. Heffernan's voice is strong and the chorus is definitely what I expected for all the right reasons; rocky, poppy, energetic and the overall sound of the track leans back to the Pink and Avril Lavigne sounds of yesteryear but with a fresh, electro take which is great and equally important. In an industry so reliant on originality, it seems like Heffernan is definitely moving in the right direction.

'Perfect' follows suit as does title track 'Friggin Little Know It All' with its slightly obscure vocal style that might not be to everyone's tastes. 'Dance Ourselves Sober' stood out to be as a track that might afford a drop in tempo for the listener; although the key and overall feel of the song is slightly more minor, I would have liked to have heard something a little slower, gentler, perhaps just a simple acoustic guitar or piano-led ballad for the sake of the dynamics of the album overall. Heffernan's definitely got herself a signature sound in the making here but not everybody wants to dance all night, sometimes we need a slow one to pick us up and recharge for the rest of the album.

It is though, overall, an uplifting, in your face, runaway-train kind of record that I'm sure people will enjoy hearing. For an exclusive listen to 'Ignorant Pig' and 'Perfect' plus teasers of the rest of the album, check out her LaFamos Digital Press Kit because this girl isn't going to come quietly!

Monday, 16 May 2011

New Artist Alert: Dom Liberati

"Liberati’s sound pays homage to his influences, blending The Police with Jimmy Eat World and Kings of Leon". Quite the interesting tag line, and one I think you'll agree left me wanting to hear what this sexless male-marriage of music might sound like combined with Dom Liberati's own personal touch. I had a listen to 'We Own The Night' taken from Liberati's forthcoming album 'The Good Hurt' and I wonder if he might be thinking of adding Bon Jovi to his list of influences anytime soon. It's a long shot, but the track title appealed to me as I thought back to Bon Jovi's 'We Rule The Night' and it also showcases the lyric 'You can't stop what you can't see' reminding me also of Bon Jovi's 'You can't cage what you can't tame' from the similar-sounding acoustic guitar-driven 'The Fire Inside'. But maybe that's just the hardcore fan inside me with my Bon Jovi blinkers on and really it's just a massive coincidence; these are both quite rare tracks... Back to Liberati as an artist in his own right; I love the energy afforded in quite a minor-sounding track thanks to the melodic synth and poppy, hard-hitting drums. His vocals have a great sound to them; a soulful radio-friendly tone with a grittier rock-edge demonstrated in the chorus which lyrically is simple yet effective, perfect for live sing-a-longs. If one track sums up Liberati's three listed influences it's this one without a doubt, the Kings of Leon, The Police and Jimmy Eat World are all definitely in there, showcasing an original and very clever amalgamation of the differing sounds of the bands. The track itself is great, leading the album well and really setting the bench-mark high.

If you're a fan of any of the artists mentioned or like the sound of Dom Liberati, make sure you check him out on his Facebook page. The Good Hurt is out on the 21st June, so be sure to pick up a copy from iTunes.