The Ones to Watch
(Part Two of Two…Maybe?)
IT seems like I might need to do a third part for…
this series. Having ignored- in this part and last- some great bands, solo artists and international talent: there are still more to include. For now- and embracing some wonderful musicians and influential people- it is on with proceedings. The music market is packed full of eligible options: of all different shapes, sizes and smells. For those struggling to take it all in: I bring to you some of the artists who will define (and already are) this year.
Have a look at these beauties…
I have known Katie Ware (Little Sparrow) for a long time and struggle to get her out of my mind. Having chatted with her manager, Shay Rowan: I know how busy her calendar is for this year. A series of 360-degree were shot at dock10: part of MediaCity U.K. in Salford. Those videos captivated fans and demonstrated the widescreen beauty and entrance of Little Sparrow’s music. If you have not heard Wishing Tree (Little Sparrow’s 2014 album) I suggest you do: it shows what an incredible vocalists and songwriter Ware is. Everything about her music brims with beauty, transcendence and tenderness. You get transported into the songs and helpless to resists their sweet-kiss allure and honesty. You feel- listening to the music- more open and vulnerable; safer and warm- so many different emotions and contradictions. Ware is the warm and bright smile behind Little Sparrow: a musician that has a burning passion; she will be one of our stars to watch. Recording demos. at the moment- and performing gigs around the country- it is exciting to see what’s coming next. A musician that mixes bit of Kate Bush, Eva Cassidy and Folk greats: an extraordinary talent with no limits. If you want to discover a pure musician that takes the senses away: check out the incredible sensuousness of Little Sparrow- and prepare to be taen away.
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After Bi:Lingual split, I was shocked indeed: they were one of my favourite bands from the last few years. Happily, front-man Dylan Cartlidge has stepped from the fire and has risen- his Phoenix-like flight will culminate in a new record. He is putting down tracks at the moment: Strawberry Blonde’s Snip is a lo-fi gem that boasts swaggering rhymes, industrial beats and solid bass. Bi:Lingual mixes Metal and Rap; Hip-Hop and Alternative: a modern-day, British version of Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys. Who knows what Cartlidge’s solo material will contain? On the evidence of his initial recordings- head to SoundCloud- the signs all look good. He is a restless songwriter who puts his struggles and heartache onto the page. Making sense of the world and battling against forces- unforgiving people and anxieties- his songs contain wit, edginess and warmth. Throw into the mix a commanding vocal and innovative compositions: few modern artists are as confident, unique and promising. The man can mix overt anger and somnambulistic introspection; braggadocio rhythms and teasing bass notes- a special artist with a very strong voice. Few are more excited about Cartlidge’s progression than I: the Manchester man is on a quest; a primal musical assault- be prepared for what is to come.
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When Gravity arrived recently: it saw Elena Ramona return with a bang. She is a musician with such a versatility and desire: like nothing in the world matter more than music. Whether assessing love or the struggles of life: she never stands still or compromises: always pushing herself and making the songs as gripping and stunning as possible. Gravity’s Dub-Step teeth-snarl is the latest step from a fine young artist. Previous tracks have mixed soulful subterfuge and family-dedicated Pop: sassy R&B. with piano-led balladry. Her simple, easy-to-adore lyrics sit with rich and accomplished compositions: all augmented by a gorgeous, limitless voice. Another artist who will be releasing new material in the future: Gravity is a promising glimpse into Elena Ramona’s current ethos. She has been busy conducting radio interviews and performing: there is a huge demand for her music right now. Having been raised on the Greek island of Skiathos- she lives in Surrey- there is an exoticness and sunshine warmth to the music: a string of impressive gigs have seen Elena Ramona cut her teeth; get her name out there and wow crowds across the U.K. If she carries on producing stunning music- and all the signs say she will- her ambitions and dedication will be rewarded by international performances and mainstream radio play. Still in her 20s: an incredible young musician that puts her heart and soul into everything she does..
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I have a lot of love and affection for French-born Ellene Masrii: she is one of those musicians that gets inside the head and elicits something rather incredible. Her debut album, Music, was lauded by Jazz stations and gained incredible reviews. The songs not only highlighted Masri’s spine-tingling, velvet-smooth voice: the lyrics reflected personal struggles and universal themes; the music connected with the public with ease. New material is being written and will be some of the most hotly-anticipated around. Based in Las Vegas: it seems the U.S. is providing a creative and inspiring climate. Where Masri is concerned; you can hear some musical legends in her own D.N.A. I know she loves the likes of Stevie Wonder and Prince (the former is a hero of hers). Soul-baring power and seductive entice nestles inside Acoustic-Jazz tracks of the highest order. With the likes of Sir. Gant supporting her- as a musician and producer- Masri’s compositions burst with life and love; they compel you to close the eyes and let your imagination run wild. There are few musicians that hold the power to buckle the knees and drop the jaw- Masri is a staggering proposition. Performing across Las Vegas and the U.S. right now: it would be great to see her come to Europe in the coming months. I know she has a lot of fans in the U.K.: her incredible, breath-taking tracks would be the perfect soundtracks for clubs across London.
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There are certain musicians that are personified by their smile, personality and infectiousness: this is certainly the case with Ellie Rose. She is one of those musicians that connects with fans and wins you over with her undeniable warmth, beauty and intrigue. Over the last few weeks, Ellie Rose has been in L.A. - a chance to perform at The Hotel Café (a dream for the young star). Back in the U.K., the pineapple-loving youngster- a common theme of her social media posts- let’s hope the inspiration and climate has rubbed up on her. When it comes to her music: I cannot wait to see what she comes up with. Hold Me On High has just been released and is a wonderful blend of dancing strings and resounding vocals. Ellie Rose layers her vocals inside a song that looks at deceiving lovers and lies: uncertainty and tension linger beneath the cracks. A catchy and effusive sway drives the song and makes it a radio-ready smash. She is another artist- like Elena Ramona- who can own and conquer multiple genres whilst retaining her focus and core sound. Previous tracks like Finding My Feet are raw and naked songs: Ellie Rose pouring her heart out in a very personal and immersive track. Let’s hope L.A.’s sunshine and communities do not lure the London-based musician- we need her here! One of our best and more prodigious young musicians: perhaps an E.P. will be coming in the next year? See that smile and quirkiness- where does that love of pineapples come from?!- the strength and vision- Ellie Rose want to remain in music for years to come. She has definite mainstream appeal but is a lot cooler and more credible than that: she has the ability to unite undecided voters and get lots of people singing her tunes. That kind of prowess, power and potential is rare these days: let’s embrace a fine and beautiful young star-in-the-making.
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This year has very-much been all about 1869: the debut album from Maltese star Chess Galea. I have been following her career and previous E.P.s- Babygirl and Tuxedo- and can see the growth and evolution. Across the L.P., Galea sounds in-control and completely entrancing. Whether laying down the law and riding a heavy beat; taking the lights down and whispering alluringly: every song sticks in the memory and highlights a consistent and incredible songwriter. As a singer, there are very few that have the same breadth, power and ability: able to tackle any theme or genre thrown in front of her. Chess Galea is a musician that can not only pen a memorable original: she is also a fine interpreter; capable of reinventing classic songs in her own style. Influenced by the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince and Christina Aguilera: you can hear aspects of her idols across her own music. She will be heading to Malta soon- to launch her album there- and has been non-stop in the U.K. Whether enjoying radio-play or performing gigs: Galea has barely let her feet touch the ground. I know how much sweat, passion and work has gone into her album: that comes through with ease and panache. A musician that is ready-made for the big leagues: you will want to keep your eyes on her very closely.
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Richard Hubbard is a man very familiar with Chess Galea: he goes to great lengths to promote the best Maltese artist around. In these features, it has mainly been about the girls; the musicians and artists- Hubbard is a D.J. and music-lover that deserves wider appreciation and scope. His dedication to unearthing the best new music out there is to be applauded- he has led me to some wonderful artists. Part of the wonderful Channel Radio- one of the best Internet stations around- that bold and loveable personality cannot be beaten. Hubbard’s show mixes contemporary artists with well-researched brand-new acts- a show that draws in a wide demographic and range of listeners. That endless wit and natural knowledge (makes Hubbard’s shows) a must-listen weekly event. If you want to discover the hot acts and best out there- go to Hubbard’s page (link below) and hear one of Channel Radio’s flagship D.J.s do his thing. It is important to promote those that work behind the scenes to champion musicians- there are few that work as hard as Richard Hubbard. He is inspiring me to go into radio and take risks: broaden my passion and follow in his lead. There are few bigger legacies than that. Let’s hope we hear a lot more from Hubbard: many more years bringing us a range of wonderful music and witty banter. Radio is not for everyone- it is a generational, divisive thing- but few will be able to resist Hubbard’s intoxicating tones and humour. A man whose life-long desire is to put great music in the spotlight: we need more like him in the music industry.
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Channel Radio (Link to His Show):
Another D.J. and hero of local music: Durrant is head of Live and Unsigned at Brooklands Radio. He is another man that goes out his way to give the great young musicians their due- making sure their incredible music is heard and supported. Tune into Brooklands Radio Tuesday at 10pm to hear Durrant’s show: his ‘Under the Radar Live Sessions brings us the finest new talent on a weekly basis. Not only does Durrant strive to help musicians and promote their cause- whether it is a new video or crowd-funding campaign- he has a huge social conscience: highlighting causes and issues we need to be aware of. A human whose heart and focus is put to improving things and making us all more aware: this reflects in his never-ending loyalty to great new music. Like Hubbard; Durrant is a D.J. who takes pride in putting his patronage to exceptional young talent- covering a wide array of genres and tastes. Hearing his show, you know how much music means and how important it is to all of us. His interviews and conversations show his full focus (towards and artist): another taste-maker that has pointed me in the direction of some wonderful, life-affirming musicians. Let’s hope he has no plans for slowing down: his show is one of the reasons I keep reviewing; I tune-in in the hope of hearing the most compelling music of the moment- I am not often disappointed. Durrant’s official site- see link below- puts artists in the spotlight and helps them reach their potential. An altruistic and endeavouring; multidiscipline talent that lives and breathes music.
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The fate of the small music venue is a rather uncertain one. By the week; legendary, established places are closing down: leaving the music fan infuriated and anxious. Given the state of the economy- with pubs closing too- where does one go for great live music? Whilst the larger cities are seeing some of this tragedy: the bigger venues are continuing to grow and flourish. Whether it is the proliferation of free music; the larger venues stealing focus- it is good to see bedrock like Boileroom continuing to thrive. Whilst its future has not always been secured: the way the Surrey venues caters to the community is commendable; creating arts and crafts events; social discussions and a range of special-themed nights- making sure nobody is overlooked. Modern day heroes like Wolf Alice have played Boileroom: in fact; some of the music world’s most influential and promising acts have taken to the Boileroom stage. With an inaugural summer festival forthcoming- Always the Sun Festival- it gives a chance for the venue to launch a bespoke festival: one that brings together terrific acts and family-friendly ethos. There is not a lot for young, exciting people in Guildford- where Boileroom is based; it is a town readymade for families and the slightly less ‘exciting’ brand of person- so Boileroom acts as an unusual (but vastly necessary) aberration- one that makes the town fashionable and huge appealing. Throughout this year, many great musicians will pass through the doors: make sure you get down and experience this charming venue in all its glory.
The likes of B.B.C. 6 Music have stoked a passion for radio: one that has been missing for many years. With so few decent, local stations out there- particularly where I live- London is seeing a lot of cutting-edge, relevant options spring up. If you want to get away from the stuffy and ‘safe’ sounds of mainstream stations: Hoxton Radio is a great place to go. The presenters have a genuine passion for music and warm, engaging personalities- making sure they reach every listener without fail. The music draws together classics and older sounds: to the best and boldest songs from the underground. Based in the ubercool, swinging east of London: it is a station that sets to influence Londoners across “habitual pop culture pursuits”. Hoxton Radio has a huge online follows and actively engagers with followers: few radio stations offer such a close relationship. We need more young people going into radio: keeping the medium alive and bringing wonderful music to the masses. Hoxton Radio’s presenters will go onto bigger things: their current family has a loyalty and bond to the station; that love and devotion comes through in every show. If you are bored of the current crop of radio stations- the inane presenters and string of nauseating adverts- I can recommend a rather fine alternative.
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Them & Us
Ami Carmine and Lee Michael are the duo behind Them & Us. With such a huge connection and understanding: the music of thw London Electronic/Synth-Pop is some of the most dramatic and layered out there. Them & Us is like a musical equivalent of Game of Thrones. You get huge, biblical scenes: adventure, drama and fire; beauty, mysticism and sexuality. The band are playing Leicester tonight: they will be performing across London, Shropshire and Luton throughout June- a chance for new faces to experiments the strange, wonderful magic. Carmine’s vocals match beauty and sweetness with something empathic, powerful and operatic- bringing light and electricity to every song. Michel’s exceptional production and musical contribution gives richness, texture and fascination to the music- few acts are as urgent and memorable as Them & Us. There is- thankfully for everyone- no end in sight for the duo: their current music is among the best of their career. Across social media, there have been studio-based photos surfacing: it suggests there might new music coming; thousands of fans will rejoice is salivation and anticipation. Their live performances are noted for epic production and wonderful visuals: if you want a wonderful treat; go catch these guys in the flesh. Critics have been quick to add their plaudits and opinions. Comparisons to Lana Del Rey and Nero; the duo’s ability to fuse the rough and smooth; the combination of rave and tragedy- everyone has their own opinion.
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Regularly readers of this blog will understand my fascination/obsession with Yorkshire-based duo, Issimo. Hailing from Bradford- but playing all around the county- the charming twosome consists of Abi Uttley and Marc Otway. Not only is there is a wonderful, brother-sister bond between the two: their combined talents make Issimo one of the most promising acts in Britain. Uttley’s gorgeous voice has such range and ability: able to be soulful and sky-scraping; perfectly authoritative when tender, heartfelt and seductive. Otway is an exceptional musician and writer that can pen a witty two-hander or broken-hearted ballad: few songwriters have that capability and talent. Hearing them together and you can feel that relationship and understanding. Whether rousing and upbeat; introspective and romantic: Issimo put their own stamp on proceedings; they have few equals and no sound-alikes. Individuality and talent are two commodities lacking from a lot of acts- not the case from the Yorkshire duo. The guys deserve mainstream consideration and national airplay. Their music has a universal quality that could see them entrance and own Europe and North America. If you love music honest, original and surprising: get involved with Issimo and investigate their back catalogue. So many gems and revelations are waiting to be discovered: songs that put a smile on the face and get the body moving. Walking on the Sky is the forthcoming E.P. from Otway and Uttley: that will be one of the hottest releases of the year. Given the reception The Coldest Queen- their latest E.P. - received; there is no stopping this juggernaut of song.
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Like Issimo: Gypsyfingers is another duo that has been in my mind for years now. Luke Oldfield and Victoria Coghlan are an extraordinary act that have toured around the world. Cinematic-Folk-cum-Rock is a combination hard to pull off: this London duo manages to take the breath and silence the most stonehearted of crowds. Coghlan’s gorgeous voice can go from bird-like and temptress to Rap-delivery and cutting. Oldfield’s warm tones and exceptional guitar work is the perfect drive Gypsyfingers’ songs demands. The band have been playing London recently- having spent a time playing around Europe- but the truth is, the guys will have to abandon the idea of home soon- they will get requests around the globe very soon. Circus Life- their debut album- demonstrated what strong and variegated songwriters Coghlan and Oldfield are. The duo’s past is a fascinating one: Oldfield has a famous father (one guess who it is) whilst Coghlan spent time in Paris as a youngster- living there, she embraced the underground sounds of Dance, Rap and Gipsy. Together, they are one of the tightest and most intoxicating acts you can imagine. The mark of a great band/musician is one that gets you thinking about the world and compelled to pick up a pen. When listening to Circus Life- and later songs from the duo- I have found my imagination running wild; thoughts spiraling- their music brings emotions and imagination to the surface; so many ideas and scenes. For that very reason: I will wait with baited breath to see what the duo come up with next. If Circus Life is anything to go by: their next moves will be truly spectacular.
Gemma Louise Doyle
There are not many artists that have the intelligence and abilities of Gemma Louise Doyle. A musician that has covered a range of artists with supreme confidence and stunning intuition: her voice is something that will stick in the mind for a long time. Her 4-octave range means nothing is off limits. Whether tackling an Opera number or modern-day Pop track: she can make it sound completely new, essential and wondrous. Full of charm, comedy and wit- she speaks six languages, too- Doyle is a natural performer with so many strings to her bow. Not only does the London-based heroine blow you away with her music: her attitude to life and positive outlook has helped and comforted many out there. No matter what mood you are in; how low you are feeling: Gemma Louise Doyle can help; she can make you feel more positive- give you a fresh perspective on life. A humanitarian and philosophical leader: a stunning entertainer and beautiful soul- somebody that deserves happiness and success. That success should not be far away. The young musician’s feet do not get a chance to rest and relax. Currently in Las Vegas: she has been performing around the U.S. and U.K. As part of International Entertainment- a duo alongside vocalists/pianist/violinist Corey- there is the promise of new music, soon. I, for one, cannot wait to hear more. The musical talent alone- the two have a mastery of a range of instruments- is enough to get the mouth watering. Add some incredible, soul-shaking vocals: who knows what is in store for the coming weeks and months.
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Braver than Fiction
Braver than Fiction’s route has been one beset with hazards and obstacles. Factoring out- which would be mighty hard- frontwoman Mel Lampro’s battle with cancer: the guys have worked hard to make a name for themselves. The Sheffield five-piece are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/braverthancancer- and taking their music as far as they can. The band are rehearsing and keeping busy: making sure they take a rest here and there! I have reviewed their music before and can attest at how wonderful and unforgettable they are. The tight-knit performances and tremendous vocals are backed with intriguing songs and combination of old-and-new sounds. Braver than Fiction have a love for the finer, bygone days; they have a modern aesthete and discipline: combined, this yields some of the deepest, most fascinating music across the country. Their live performances have enthralled critics- blown roofs off and awed audiences- and that is set to continue. Whilst Lampro’s cancer fight has put creative processes on the back-burner: new material is mooted; the band are reconvening and preparing a fresh assault. I am fully behind the band and know how hard they work; what they have endured and what they want to achieve- anything is possible for them. I am not sure whether an E.P. or L.P. is in their minds: whatever they produce is sure to be filled their staple ingredients of passion, emotion and quality; songs that demonstrate a sharp pen and incredible chemistry. It is that rock-solid bond and inter-band love that makes the Yorkshire clan a fine-fettled and unbreakable army. If you have not enlisted into the Braver than Fiction ranks: get over to their pages and discover one of most treasured groups.
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Defeat the Band
A rare U.S. inclusion- I have been remiss embracing American acts, here- the Anthony Winkely-led band bring you a blend of Punk. Showtunes and Pop. It is the rage, anger and power that intrigues me most. Something Unheard Of- their recent album- showed how talented the boys are. Winkley’s electric and raw vocals are augmented by Michael Story’s slick and snake-like bass; James Ringstrom’s powerful and avalanching percussion. So much noise and music is created by the three-piece. The Arizona boys sure know how to rock! I would love to see them come to the U.K. and exhilarate the crowds here. Country-mates like The Vim Dicta- featured in the previous part- have already carved-out a foothold and fan-base here- the Defeat the Band fellas are on a surge right now. There are a tonne of bands playing right now: each jostling for position and leverage; the chance to get under the radar of music’s influencers and media. It can’t be too long until Tucson’s finest are clambering onto the main stages of the biggest festivals. Not only can they get small rooms and clubs bouncing- in a sweat-filled, hyperactive orgy- but they can get huge arenas incapacitated and awed. Their songwriting tackles love and heartaches; the realities of life and the negatives we all face- with some unique slants and takes thrown in.
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A&E was recently released and proved what a proposition FloodHounds are. Another terrific Sheffield band- Steel City has plenty of them- the three-piece have a glorious, guitar-heavy sound- one that has impressed critics around the country. Their D.N.A. encompasses American Blues-Rock bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys; some Royal Blood and Drench- a drizzling of Band of Skulls. If you are inclined to any of these bands/this type of music; then why not dig the epic sounds of FloodHounds? Ther kinship and connection of the guys- Jack Flynn, Rhys Owen and Lauren Greaves- goes into their hook-driven and crowd-pleasing tracks. Competition will be fierce and endless- new bands wanting to get their market-share- but this trio are not going to surrender without a fight. I know they have their local crowds hooked and on-board- they have much more to them than home-town pride and ambition. In a city that has produced Pulp and Artic Monkeys: we could well see these chaps ascending the rigmarole of modern music to claim their sceptre and throne- making their way onto the festival circuit. A&E is still garnering views and reviews: that impetus and momentum must give the band food for thought. They can take time to plan their next moves and think about things- whether an album or single will come next. Whatever they choose, eyes will be upon them.
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The Heavy-Rock band are boys to be reckoned with. I have been following Jamie Tipson- their lead- under his solo moniker, Second Hand Poet. Where the music of S.H.P. is lush, reflective and bedroom-made: the hard and swaggering sounds infuse raw Blues and riotous Rock- songs that explode from the speaker and causes the listener to sway in a hypnotic groove. Songs like Mortal Man build from curious, lo-fi beginnings: growing in intensity, it becomes a huge and unadulterated beast. Whilst the boys are touring through June and July- taking in Bristol and Dorset- they have been a little quite on the music-making front. That will all be allayed and rectified. A new music video is being made and it will mark a fresh assault from the southern gentlemen: a band that has no intention of letting the dust settle; they want to stay in the public mindset and keep their fans happy. Gaining effusive praise- their live performances have been lauded and celebrated- there is a lot of excitement. Whether performing locally- they have played Boileroom and The Stoke’ in Guildford- or somewhere more exotic and busier- the boys are capable of turning every crowd into fans. Those claiming Rock is dead- or on its last leg- would do good to behold a band like Gold Phoenix and rethink their assessment. Inspired by the legends of U.S. Blues-Rock and ‘70s Progressive-Rock: you get a lethal concoction of guitar histrionics; pulsating drive and anthemic lustre.
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You could never accuse the Miss Defiant girls of being boring or colourless. Their styles, music and output explodes with vibrancy and brightness. New single Ear Candy (released today) sees them (in the video) bedecked in neon- face paint and neon headbands- dancing with abandon. The song is a summer-ready smash that shows the duo at their peak. I have been impressed by how much MissDefiant have grown and developed: they have evolved from their earliest days and show a huge maturity, skill and confidence. A much-loved and respected act from London: they are pulling in big crowds and commanding love-filled reviews. Their three-track single 133T proves what consistent performers-songwriters they are. Backed by incredible producers and team: Jordan Cather and Emily Rose Adams are an eye-catching, thought-grabbing two-piece that bring joy, light and energy to your life. I long for the day the girls release an L.P. Their back catalogue has shown a lot of depth and diversity: stripped-back moments and explosive, thought-provoking moments. Songs (alternately) investigate the cheapness of party culture and its shallowness; the no-good guys that we are all familiar with- they go a lot deeper than other acts. The next year will see them continue to play and release new songs; gain fresh support and climb the ranks. Stations and venues have already recognised their insatiable appeal and staggering sounds: that patronage and backing will grow larger and more rapturous.
Gorgeous Maltese musician Dana McKeon is a very rare talent indeed. An accomplished Beatbox performer: she combines Electronic and Pop sounds together to come up with (some of the most) wonderful music you will hear. On Thursday, McKeon will play O2 Academy, Islington- where she performed in her first U.K. Beatbox competition- and that will be a welcome return. Albums like Halycon have built McKeon’s stock and revealed a very special talent. She continues to experiment and push her music: find her limits and discover new layers and possibilities. A determined and dedicated artist who never stops trying to be better and more astonishing: a respectful attitude and impressive intensity that goes into her songs. Each number brings you closer to her soul: what drives a brave, peerless and fascinating young woman. McKeon has a lot of fans in Malta- she has recently been there to perform- and has a deep connection with the island. D.J.s like Richard Hubbard have taken time to spin her music: stations around London and the U.K. are keen to expound the virtues of McKeon.
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Sir Gant and the Invisible Force
Sir Gant and his Invisible Force are a musical outfit that have performed with Ellene Masri- one of my favourite humans. Based out of Chicago: that smooth blend of Soul, R&B and Jazz is enough to send you somewhere very special, indeed. The Journey- the latest album from Sir Gant and the Invisible Force- shows what a huge talent and producer (Gant is). Having worked with some of music’s top names: that authority, experience and leadership gives the tracks huge nuance, immediacy and passion. The album looks at life and love’s struggles; the need for positive and discover of the self: all portrayed through a prism of liquid-cool groove; chocolate-silky vocals and luxurious instrumentation- layers of gorgeous production and an appetising balance of spice and sweet. Sir Gant is a musician I respect hugely. His legacy and influence cannot be ignored or overlooked. His arrangement and production of Anita Baker’s L.P. Rapture gathered 2 Grammys- the album sold over 8 million copies. If that is not enough to peak your interest, then listen to the music: the songs that get into the soul and swim around the brain.
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Beautifully dark and orchestral: NYNA’s music is once heard; not easily forgotten. An accessible and beautiful voice is propelled by hard beats and scorpion-bite electronics; fantastic production and exceptional addictiveness. Catchy choruses and huge anthemics make her music some of the finest out there. The London-based star is busy touring and getting out to the public. The reception and appreciation leveled her way has been immense. Recent tracks like Bridges have gained huge kudos and provide an insight into her current ambitions. Whether will see more tracks this year remains to be seen- photos of studio-born production and home-made writing give us all something to hope for. NYNA exudes such warmth and appeal: she is a natural star and somebody you hope goes all the way. She has a solid (and expanding) core of fans: with every release that number goes up; she is making huge strides. There is no stopping the young musician: she is one of those people that could easily become a household fixture in years to come. She has something about her and a great attitude to music: always putting the work in to achieving something remarkable. Those who love their music with depth, repeatability and all the necessary components- the emotion, force and soul; every facet absolutely striking- then you will not go far wrong with NYNA.
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If you are hard-pressed to come up with musicians from Israel: ADI is a pretty good place to start. The stunning young musician is one of the finest (and most innovative) musicians around. It is hard to categorise and define her music- which is why she doesn’t- except to say it is a mixture of Electronic and Future Beats. In her latest track- the video for Pink Pillz has just been released- she tackles depression and its effects. Defining a new stage of her career- where the music is more open and honest- it is impossible not to be drawn into the track- one of the rawest and most relevant she has produced to date. ADI is tired of hiding and ignoring issues like mental health: she is an advocate that pushes it to the forefront and makes people take notice. Pink Pillz is a typically assured and layered track: one that packs a confident, memorable vocal and dizzying compositional strands- messages that we should all take heart and direction from. I have been following ADI since her earliest days: the E.P.s and mixtapes; the various evolutions and changes she has undergone. What remains is that passion for music and unimpeachable quality and originality. Every track (from ADI) has a bold stamp and lingers in the mind- once heard; it is impossible to forget. ADI’s fan numbers continue to grow: she is a musician that easily wins hearts and has a huge army behind her. Whether Pink Pillz (the track has been available for w while; its video is brand-new) marks a new phase- an E.P. or album is out- I am not sure- make sure you keep your eyes peeled.
This Modern Hope
This London project derives from musician Rob Payne. Having known him in The Bedroom Hour days- a fantastic band who split, very sadly- I can attest at his songwriting and vocal skills. This Modern Hope offer cinematic compositions and fresh tracks: there is that effortless contrast of vintage and new; lush and intimate; widescreen and deeply personal. If you listen to a song from This Modern Hope- and are not affected and entranced- you might need your pulse taken. Payne’s pure and honest voice- it reminds me of Guy Garvey to an extent- has no cynicism or ego- it is one of the most bare-naked and wonderful sounds you can imagine. Ship on the Ocean is the latest track and has all the key traits you would hope for: drama and building momentum; music that gets into the soul and pricks the ears; oodles of grace and panache. I hope Payne gets back into the studio and has his mind set on a new record. I would love to see an album from This Modern Hope: a compendium that shows just how vital (Payne is). Previous tracks like The Abyss have been met with fevered respect: it is a song that brings emotions and truth from the listener; wonderfully immersive and intense. With the likes of James Blake and Radiohead ensuring Electronic music- with dreaminess and intelligence- remains in the public forefront- there is a great opportunity for This Modern Hope to gain foothold and residual fandom. It cannot be long before Payne’s new outfit go beyond the U.K.: take the music across the seas and reach an international audience.
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Jessica Greenfield and Gavin Condor are a soon-to-be-married musical duo that has an incredible bond and connection. Their music matches Greenfield and Condor’s stunning vocals- both different; they fit perfectly- and their down-to-Earth and everyday songs. Lyrics that look at common themes- issues and stories we all encounter- it is small wonder (the duo) have amassed a loyal and fascinated following. Fusing classic Pop and Soul; R&B-Gospel and Alternative: so many different colours, emotions and genres: few other acts offer so much range and versatility. Whatever they are tackling- thematically and sonically- you are always left awed and impressed. The likes of Dusty Springfield, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke are idols of The Condors. You get a little of each at various moments: the legends of music come through in this modern and amazing duo. The duo are celebrated and lauded in London- where they are based- but have the potential to expand and build their itinerary. Another act I can see traveling abroad and playing in various countries- musical that transcends boundaries and translates effortlessly. Given their music upbringing- the fantastic artists they embraced- and long-lasting relationship- quality, tightness and passion defines The Condors’ music. I would speculate the future for Gavin and Jessica: it seems like they are so busy; future songs might have to take a back seat. Knowing how dedicated and committed to music they are: it won’ be too long until a fresh record is out; we see more from the London-based twosome. Every year, they increase their talent and confident: they are coming into their own as performers and writers. If you have not heard of The Condors yet: it will not be too long before they are a common fixture.
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You might have noticed the lack of bands in this feature- and the previous part. I have seen a lot of bands touted as heroes of the future- few of them actually register with me. With The Jackobins, you are assured quality, cool and originality. The Liverpool-based act has just played Sound City and are on a promising trajectory right now. Tracks like One More Chance drip with edgy, Punk-influenced vocals and a tight-knit band performance- once where each player gets a chance to shine. The band has a very modern dynamic. They could easily fit into the playlist of B.B.C. 6 Music- and have been played by Tom Robinson- and are perfectly suited to the current music scene. With embers of The 1975, The Libertines and Catfish and the Bottlemen- a band they recently performed alongside at Sound City- few will be able to ignore the juggernaut that is The Jackobins. Front-man Dominic Bassnett exudes film-hero good looks and a moody rebelliousness: a Rock star-cum-pin-up that backs his looks with charm, exceptional vocals and leadership. The boys of The Jackobins have been performing across the north and exhilarating crowds wherever they go. I would like to see the chaps come down to London- they seem readymade for the bars and clubs here- and get the audiences jumping down south. The guys have a busy diary the next few months- gigging in Ireland and the Tramlines Festival to name two- and will hardly have much time to relax. It is befitting of their music and ability- they should have such demand- and this is only likely to increase.
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Since their birth four years ago- all sweaty, screaming and hopeful- the Yorkshire band have gone from bedroom heroes to mainstream-kings-in-the-waiting. Their fan-base has blossomed due to a number of reasons. They are a stunning and exceptional live band: always offering theatrics, drama and exceptional performances. Having supported the likes of Enter Shikari: how long before these legends are making their way to the country’s most-prestigious festivals? They are not merely another Yorkshire band: they are primed for the big stages and top-of-the-league stadiums. Their Psych-Pop-Grunge concoctions are the envy of lesser bands: all their tracks possess a strange magic; something elemental and emotional- motivating the soul and body to get involved. The boys are going to be conquering the U.K. throughout the spring. They have important dates and towns to defile- honestly; they are all lovely, early-night-sleep kind of folk- and offer peace and love- not to mention bitchin’ songs that have few equals. If you like your basslines groovy, silky and commanding; charging, bouncing and kinetic- you will not be disappointed. Like your percussion heavy, intense and primal; kicking, detailed and nuanced? If you fancy intense and primeval vocals; ripping, snarling guitars; tunes that are anthemic and unforgettable- the Yorkshire clan are your guys! There is so much to recommend about Allusondrugs: the best thing you can do is check out their website and social media output; get involved with the music and become a life-long fan. The guys have infectious personalities and a Grunge-cum-Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit- genuine articles that sound like a ‘90s band. I could have seen them performing during the heyday of Grunge: sharing the stage with Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Nirvana- although Allusondrugs’ front-man- his resemblance to Kurt Cobain- would have been something from The Twilight Zone!
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We stay in Yorkshire: to the music of Sarah Collins. Here is an artist who can take a song and make it her own- her cover versions are the stuff of legends. With a love of Soul, Funk and Blues; Pop, Rock and Reggae: nothing is off limits for the young singer. Subscribe to her YouTube page- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkVRpx7qz63mZR817lTt7vg- and fall for a young woman who takes the breath away. Collins has overcome a brain tumour- something that almost took her life- and managed to not only beat it- she is producing some of the best music of her life. Such a life-altering occurrence would shake most of us: Collins has shown immense bravery and is consecrating her life to music; bringing her gorgeous voice to the masses. Sarah Collins and Keep the Faith is her band: a chance for people to see her live; experience the wonder and stunning performances. Singing means everything to Collins: nothing else will do! That passion and meaning goes into every live performance and cover version. Whether this love will funnel into a record or E.P.: I am fascinated to see how Collins will develop as the year ticks on. So far, her fans and followers have given her strength and focus: the social media numbers are meteoric; they continue to climb. She is a star that has humility and bravery; she has overcome struggles and illness and is surely one of our future mainstream artists. With each passing week, we get a new Sarah Collins cover version: an amazing version of an old favourite; that soulful, sky-scarping voice taking flight. Just seeing her smile is all you need to know: how deep the music runs; how much this all means. So many artists seem vague and shallow; they do not grab you and win you over: Sarah Collins is someone who lets you into her heart and soul.
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The Dutch Guy
A bastion of new music promotion and champion of the best underground stars: The Dutch Guy has led me to some of my review subjects. I always look to him for some of the greatest new music around. He has his ear to the ground and his groove-o-meter constantly charged. An exceptional writer, D.J. and journalist: his work has such charm, personality and humour. He is always willing to go the extra mile for artists: push their songs out there and give his full support. In turn, they are motivated and provided extra strength- making bigger, better music; growing in confidence and ambition. If you visit his website (below) you will discover reviews, tips and features: his vlog and links; all the information you need for Holland’s finest music journalist. The musicians are the ones who get all the credit- when it comes to music itself- and the D.J.s/journalists often do not get the credit they deserve. If the mainstream doesn’t have the balls to promote an act: our man sure as sure will! The Dutch Guy dedicates his time to sniffing out the most unique and special musicians on the block. That kind of dedication and selflessness is to be applauded. What next for his music empire? Whilst continuing to promulgate and lend patronage to the great unsung: you feel there is a lot more coming for The Dutch Guy. The D.J./radio bug is always in him- maybe he will return one day? Whatever is in his mind, you can guarantee a steady stream of terrific music and effusive posts. The guy always has a smile and a laid-back attitude: a groovy dude that knows his stuff. The influence he has had on me- all the acts I have nicked from him! - cannot be understated. That effect and influence extends to musicians and bloggers around the world: few have his way for words and experience; the way he helps and assists musicians- a noble chap that is one of the under-the-radar influencers. Most of us get stuck in ruts and all pretty unambitious with musical selections. You will not go far wrong keeping your ears trained on The Dutch Guy: his recommendations are constantly fascinating and on-the-money!
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Her hybrids of Electronica are as compelling and colourful as her fashion: one look at FiFi Rong and your mind and senses start to melt. She is eye-catching and vivid- someone who will not get out of your mind- and that extends to her music. Forbidden Desire is her recently-released E.P. and her most accomplished, complete work to date. The songs look at forbidden love and strange desires: lovers who have scarred and scorned her; hurt and pain are laid bare. In lesser hands, that might sound quite heavy and hard to digest. Rong’s delicate and beautiful vocal delivery mixes with multi-dimensional compositions that evoke so many emotions and textures. It may sound like pretention- me not choosing my words sagely- but you cannot underestimate the strength and evocations of the music. One listen and you are stunned and hooked; future investigations reveal new light and beauty. Across the last few weeks; Rong has been conducting interviews- including Hoxton Radio- and performing across the capital. She has built a solid reputation and has proved to be one of the U.K.’s most special and distinct musicians. Rong is a hugely prolific artist always making moves and creating new music: she gets better and more assured with each release. Forbidden Desire is the best thing she has produced: you feel there will be even better records down the lines. Whether inspired by love and its capriciousness; the struggles and mysteries of life; something more spiritual and indirect: it is always adapted into spellbinding, soul-enriching music.
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The Australian-based, German-based musician is not one to stand still and relax. Always traveling the world- recently having visited Pisa- Kirbanu takes her music, joy and positivity across the globe- sending travelogues and videos to her fans. Her ethos and look on life is wonderful: always full of inspiring quotes and uplifting messages. In turn, the love her fans give feeds into some of the most direct and emotional music about. Drifting (her album) is awash with beautiful, reflective songs. Not just confined to looking at relations and inner-visions: the songs provide positivity, hopefulness and wonderful scenes. As Kirbanu states: “Drifting is a journey through emotions, space and music. It is reflective in its nature, posing questions about uncertainty and purpose. The eight tracks on the album each carry their own personal identity and stand alone, beside each other. United in the genre of folk/pop some of the album songs are powerful & upbeat, with tribal drums, electric soundscapes and intense vocals”. Let’s hope Kirbanu comes to the U.K. soon and pays us a visit. In London, it would be wonderful to see her perform and bring smiles to the capital critters: hungry Londoners would eat-up her sensational tracks. Those in Scotland and the north would take her to heart: no area is immune to the charm and immaculate beauty. Right now, Kirbanu is travelling Europe and keeping her fans updated- her frequent videos and statuses give us a unique glimpse into the life of a modern musician. That angelic and heavenly voice wraps around songs that glisten, shine and enthrall. It is near-impossible condensing Kirbanu’s potency and personality into words- as you can see here- so it is best you get busy and take my word for it- let her music and smile buckle the knees.
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It only takes a few seconds of Lanre’s voice before you are a stone-cold devotee. Based out of London: her mixture of Acoustic-Soul and African-Folk unifies her heritage and background with something universal and utilitarian. Human was introduced a few days ago and highlights the beauty, bliss and depth of our heroine. The Human E.P. boasts incredible guitars work and stunning moments. A four-track record- Human, Dreams; My Soul, Fire- it is an economic and focused collection. It is clear Lanre has a very bright future ahead. When Human is fully embraced and reviewed: masses of new fans will flock in and get behind one of our most promising new musicians. The mainstream has so many everyday Pop stars and musicians that all sound the same. There are very few idols that separate from te crowd and have any sense of distinction and longevity. We need more musicians like Lanre and what she has to offer. Radio stations are turning onto her music and keen to play her music: listeners are responding and the excitement levels are building. It is only a matter of time- like a few musicians I have mentioned here- before the rewards come and huge success follows. Right now, Lanre is on the promotional circuit: ensuring Human is given a good airing and embraced by as many people as possible. After that, she will be touring and bringing her incredible voice to new crowds. After the dust if this year settles, one wonders whether a new E.P. will be dropped. Such is the strength of her music: you always want more; look ahead to see just how many other (Lanre songs) there will be. I am reviewing her very soon- the track, Human- and cannot wait to add my appreciation and support. She is a very rare artist and one that deserves a lot of happiness and adulation.
The daughter of Free legend Paul Rodgers: there is a lot of expectation on the shoulders of Jasmine Rodgers. Anyone expecting (her to sound like) her dad might be in for a shock. Splicing Electro., Folk and Rock together: her eponymous E.P. is one of the most arresting efforts I have heard for a long time. Starting out in the band Boa from the age of 16: the band released two albums in Japan and the U.S. Rodgers’ mother is a Japanese poet; her dad a music legend: that special and unbeatable D.N.A. feeds directly into her own music. Poetic and picturesque lyrics- that take you into wonderful realms- gets a solid and commanding musical backing- made perfect with a soul-infused, emotional voice. Idols like Ella Fitzgerald, Radiohead and Bjork- the kind of artists she listened to as a child- can be detected in various moments. In truth, there are few as original as Jasmine Rodgers. She is the antithesis of modern Pop music: somebody that owes a debt to nobody; a strong and stand-alone musician that wants to bring her songs to the entire world. I have listened to interviews with Rodgers and she comes across as someone filled with wit, warmth and intelligence. She certainly knows her music and you just melt listening to her: one of those voices that can silence people; you just concentrate on her words and how she talks. The music is no-less knee-buckling and sublime. Rodgers has enjoyed a prosperous and busy year to date: that level of demand is going to increase. Icicles remains one of the best new tracks of the year: a gorgeous musical example from one of Britain’s most fascinating and special talents.
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This feature is quite girl-heavy: not really a shock when you consider the amount of wonderful female artists around. There have been accusations of imbalance and sexism in the industry: there can be a tendency to promote men over women; focusing heavily on all-male bands (as opposed to solo artists). Maybe there is some truth in this assessment: when it comes to the underground artists; it is the girls that are making the biggest impressions. Nina Schofield has been performing for a number of years. Her gigs have taken her from festivals to schools; local events and huge-capacity events- someone who is comfortable and effortless wherever she goes. After securing a record deal recently- finally getting backing and acclaim she deserves- there is new confidence and direction in Schofield’s mind. Her latest song, Imaginary Love, has pummeling beats and a sense of catchiness. Schofield’s voice is bold, in-control and on fire: she rides the percussion and lays down the law. The song was inspired by the (unwanted) affections of a sociopath: someone who hassled her and caused scars. This traumatic and unwelcomed part of her life has inspired a song that has Pop accessibility and Dance/Electro. cutting-edge- topped with Schofield’s passionate vocal. The single Restart has caught the ear with reviewers and fans: another assured and stunning cut from our heroine. Shapes (album) is out this summer and will see Schofield embrace an edgier and more mature sound: she has grown in confidence; her music has evolves and flourished. I adore her early releases: her current material is perhaps her best work yet. A bright, beautiful and incredibly talent young star: someone I am sure will be a mainstream fixture; a radio-ready artist that easily wins the heart. Recently she’s performed at The Great Escape and has also been touring with The Sons of Pitches, the winners of B.B.C. T.V.’s Naked Choir contest, playing in session at many B.B.C. local and commercial stations along the way. She’s written and worked with several acclaimed dance production teams as featured vocalist on tracks from Aurosonic and Frainbreeze plus Vintage & Morelli amongst others.
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Laura Saggers might have begun life in England- having lived in Buckinghamshire for a while- but is based in L.A. The sunshine, varied cultures; cosmopolitanism and vibrancy has pushed Saggers as a musician. Her infectious zeal and personality will win you over; the music will drop the jaw- a rare artist that is effortless when covering songs; spellbinding when performing her own tracks. From Fleetwood Mac to Hall and Oates: Saggers has a wide range of favourite songs; the tracks she tackles are provided with new life and revelation. The U.S.-based musician is not merely a covers artist: she is one of the most impressive and consistent songwriters I have encountered in a long time. Summer Fling- released last year- recounts a rather hazy and wild romance- a whirlwind bond that certain put a hop in her step. Those longing for more material from Saggers will not have to wait too long: her album is recorded and will be released very shortly. Having played to 20,000 people- when part of an ‘80s cover band- Saggers is used to big crowds and adulation- that is something she will have to get used to it. After years of discovery and hard work: she is finally making it and commanding the love and respect she dreamt of. A classically-trained pianist- I have seen videos of her playing that have left me dumb and speechless- Saggers is a real musician that can pretty much do anything. It is exciting to think what she can do and how far she can go: her fans are fully behind her and excited to see what comes next. When her album is released it will give the world a chance to discover a truly wonderful human in her element. Will there be a mix of covers and originals? Will her piano-playing genius be prominent? Will there be a leaning to summer-ready Pop numbers? Whatever form (the album takes) will be one of 2016’s biggest releases- guaranteed to get the U.S. and U.K. talking- the rest of the world for that matter.
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