TRACK REVIEW: Blushes - Honey




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PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale






 Honey is available via:




Buckinghamshire, U.K.


12th January, 2018


THIS review not only allows me the chance…


PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

to step outside London (again) - but feature a band who are turning a lot of heads right now. Before I look at Blushes and their latest single; I wanted to address groups who have male-female vocals; a special year in music and how, I feel, great bands/artists are picking up on a need to revisit that time; tight and solid acts who boast incredible musicianship; making the most of opportunities presented to you; how 2018 needs to promote artists doing things differently – how the Blushes crew can develop and strike this year. I will, as I say, look at Honey soon but, before then, I want to look at bands in general. There is a smattering of decent options in the mainstream but, for my money, it is the solo artists that is king/queen. I have talked about this a lot but the point remains: what has happened to the band-market in the U.K.?!  I will come to look at a year in music when bands ruled the roost but, in 2018, it seems the solo artist is still being tipped for greatness. We have had some half-decent attempts at a unifying band – The Amazons gave it a go; IDLES seem like they are in this for the long-run – and the best groups we have are in the underground. I really like PINS and The Big Moon – two female-led acts that are showing why we need to look at sexism in the industry. That is another point but, the reason I love these groups is the fact there is real invention and originality. I find the Rock/Alternative sounds of Royal Blood dull and limited – the guys not changing things up between albums – and I long for artists who go beyond the obvious and provide something sensational. PINS, especially, excite me and, yeah, there are a few other great bands (False Advertising and Yonaka; Anteros are another great act to look out for) but it seems, when you look at all the lists of ones to watch – it is the solo artists that are favoured.


PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

Maybe I am painting a bleak picture but I am glad there are bands emerging that have the chance to overhaul the dominance of solo artists. Blushes excite me because, like the bands I have mentioned; they go beyond what is ‘expected’ of groups and have that sense of quality and dynamism. They can easily fit into the mainstream but, rather than compromise their ethics and settle for something easy – they produce music that gets you thinking and sticks in the mind. I suppose it is quite hard creating music that truly distinguishes itself – as there has been so much recorded! – but the guys do it with aplomb. You get (with Blushes) Alternative muscles and melodic touches; lyrics that paint beautiful, captivating scenes and inter-band connections that allow the music to fizz and pop. I do not think bands will completely reverse the (im)balance but I am confident the likes of Blushes will make headway. There is a need for a group who can fill larger venues but do so without producing aimless riffs and generic sounds simply designed to get the body moving. In order to compel the mind; one must take the initiative and expend more thought – that can be quite a chore for a lot of acts! Blushes have been together long enough to know what the industry expects. They are among the hardest-working bands around and have a style and sound that is hard to overlook. You can look out at the mainstream and discover the odd band that is worth a shot but that desire to foster a genuinely fantastic act is palpable. There are contenders working underground and I feel, in a few years, Blushes can ascend and exert a lot of influence. I have alluded to the songwriting and originality of the band (as reasons to watch them) but there are others, too: the connection within the ranks and the fact they are not your typical all-male band.


PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

I have highlighted a few great all-female acts up-top but, like False Advertising; Blushes have that blend of male and female – In fact, like those groups; it is mostly boys but, happily, they have that single female voice. I am not sure why this composition is proving popular but I am glad to see a shift away from the all-men groups we grew up on. There is nothing wrong with them but I feel something extra comes through when you mix in a female voice. Many assume bands with being male; you have female solo artists/duos but, really, the guys are the ones in bands – that is a perception that continues to this day. Look around and we can see the fantastic female-only/female-led groups worthy of time and affection. One of the reasons I prefer my bands gender-balanced is the relationships and songwriting differences. Whether compelled by a brotherly spirit; you see a band like Blushes and there is something quite sweet and charming about their performances. They are all tight and professional but, I don’t know; you know their friendships are different. Whether a female member adds discipline or rules to a band: things feel different and it is pleasing seeing a mix of genders in a band. Blushes are very close but it is the way they come together on stage and in the studio that impresses. A lot of all-male bands tend to be in competition with one another. You get a sense there is a bit of friction and a struggle for power. You get a feeling the songwriting process is not as democratic and focused as you’d hope; there are fraught and tense moments in the ranks – without a sane, more rational voice keeping things level. That may sound like gender stereotyping but, with a female member; you have that more mature and calm spirit that can keep the members together and ensure things do not get out of hand. Blushes are not your stay-at-home-watching-Netflix kind: they have rawness and energy that, like Yonaka and PINS, means they enjoy life as much as anything.

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I digress, of course, but it is interesting exploring the sonic and interpersonal differences between all-male bands and those who have female members. That will not matter to Blushes but I think that is one of their strengths. It means the songwriting can be more varied and allow different emotions in. I hope these great male-female bands get the attention they deserve this year because I think the days of the all-male band owning the scene are long-gone. I am a big fan of solo artists but they are gaining too much focus and celebration. Blushes will make some big steps this year and are already preparing themselves for a busy time. I mentioned I would come to a special year in music: I am listening to a selection of songs from 1994. Just now, I heard a one-two from Hole and Nirvana: Beauty Queen (Hole) and About a GirlMTV Unplugged in New York (Nirvana). There is, on my list, Pearl Jam and Weezer; Portishead and Oasis – some Blur and Pulp to spice up the pot! Rather than list a selection of artists from my favourite year in music: I wanted to show why artists should look back and take note of that time – as Blushes are, to an extent. You can quibble it was a better time for music and things were easier then. The reason why bands were popular and dominant during that time was what they were saying; the sounds were original and they were breaking ground. It is harder to break ground this many years down the line but, those new acts who do not have commercial pressures, have an invaluable treasure-box of sounds to source from. Look at 1994-released music and listen to the variations and quality! I admire artists unwilling to repeat the past but I feel too many are copying what is already out there or creating music that lacks real wonder and memorability.

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Blushes, I sense, have one eye on the present but keep their mind trained on the past. I am not sure how much 1990s music they have in their collection but I can hear the same innovation and spirit present back then. Maybe there were fewer limitations and hurdles in 1994 – fewer musicians and streaming was not available then – but I yearn to hear bands that take from that time and update the sound. I pick up on some of those U.S. guitar strands – Pavement and Hole – but there is a pleasing layer of melody and populism – Blur and Pulp-y in places – with some jagged edges that remind me of the Grunge/Alternative artists of the time. Whether this various strands and patterns will coalescence into something biblical down the line, I am not sure. I hear the band and get that sensation of old and new; the way they can stay rooted in the current-day but remind one of finer days. Let’s hope this business ethic continues in 2018 as they make plans and charges. Honey, as I will get to, is a song that announces their place in music and singles them out for great things! I have alluded to the male-female tones present in the ranks but, another reason they are so celebrated is their musicianship. That is a component that is not often highlighted when talking about bands. Blushes are exceptional musicians who throw their all into every song. Their songs are tight and ordered but there is room for rougher edges and some interesting diversions. Every note and idea packs a punch and there is so much richness in their music. I am not sure how much time they spend rehearsing but I can tell a lot of effort and work goes into their songs. In an industry that demands artists are prolific and always-visible: Blushes take time to craft music and ensure they are putting out the best possible product. The Jazz notes of Tiffany Marie add something magic; the electro-acoustic rhythms are sublime; it all comes together in a wonderful, heady brew.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Capstick

It is good discovering a band who works outside of London – the guys are from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire – and I am glad they are getting gigs there. A part of me knows, in time, they will settle in London and take full advantage of the scene here. The fact they are so close-by means there are so many options in front of them. They do not have to struggle with the stress of the city but have it near them when they require gigs. Buckinghamshire is a county that gets overlooked – many assume it will be very quiet and dull. There are some great artists working in the county and it shows you should not judge somewhere until you visit there. The Green Man and The White Swan are a couple of smaller venues/pubs where local bands can cut their teeth; Coopers and The Aristocrats are reputable spots that are proving popular with musicians. Aylesbury is one of the more thriving parts of Buckinghamshire but there are great towns/villages where musicians can get gigs. Blushes know this but, as they grow larger; one feels they might relocate to the city. They have had some great opportunities and accolades presented to them in the past year. Since their formation in 2016, actually, they have been invited by producers of both London Live and BBC Radio 1 to feature on their platforms. Their debut E.P., Private Viewing, went down a storm and they have had tracks – To the Bone and Voices – featured on the radio station, Mix 96. With producer Ian Flynn; they have co-opted a nuance, yet organic, sound that emphasises the percussive boom and introduces a range of other instruments. I know they will continue to develop and progress but, so far, the band have achieved a lot. There are few who have a sound quite like theirs – something many radio stations and platforms are fully aware of!

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

2018 is here and, unlike last year, we need to start promoting a new type of artist. Last year provided some treats and great new acts but I feel we should take a different route this year. Bands, as I said, need more focus as there are some really good ones out there – differing from what has come before. The mainstream needs to recognise those artists that do things differently and are willing to add something fresh to the scene. We are seeing too many overly-familiar artists who too eager to get streaming figures high and appeal to a certain demographic. That is fine, to a degree, but it is creating a rather stodgy and dull scene. Blushes mix in cheekiness and Pop melody with strange instruments and some tough-strut. They are unafraid to venture into foreign territory and, because of that, are being earmarked as a band to watch. I know there are fellow groups who expend the same invention and, alongside Blushes, they warrant more acclaim and boost. This year is going to be marked by the solo artist once more. All the polls and rundowns are putting the focus on sole acts: what happens to all the bands who are keen to make a success of things? They might have to work harder but, I think, those who take the effort to stand out will find reward. I am not sure what Blushes have planned but I know they will continue to gig and get new material out there. It is a great time for them and who knows how far they can go. They continue to evolve and change; their music does not stay still and there is that insatiable and tangible energy and passion present. If this year is going to inspire listeners and suggest real change and growth; we should put more emphasis on those artists who have the ability to remain and inspire – even if it does differ from that is favoured in the mainstream.


Some crackle and eerie sparkle give Honey a slightly unnerving and disconcerted beginning. I was not expecting such a sound to come out from the introduction. It puts the listener in a certain mindset and you are looking at something quite dark and shadowy. An announcement comes out – “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen/ (and) Welcome to Saturday night” – and it is the band’s version of Top of the Pops. The male announcer tees the band up and it leads to a pleasingly Oasis-like drum thud. I mentioned the Manchester legends before: Honey’s first beats put me in mind of Oasis’ track, Live Forever. It is that mule-kick start that gets the blood running and, before you get settled in; that changes to something more swaying and seductive. Keys and fuzzing guitars give the song a mix of 1980s Pop and Electronic experimentation. It is a swooning and swaggering brew that subverts expectation and brings another layer into the song. The lyrics paint pictures of popcorn on the hob; the romance/domestic lifestyle that needs a bit of sugar sprinkled in. Whether referring to a new love or the weary state of a current relationship – there is a note of caution and unhappiness in the hero’s vocal. Backed by that wooziness and original bent; he lets his voice flow and investigate. Honey is a song that differs from Blushes’ previous material but has that relatable and familiar core – a band that are always on the same page and throw their all into the music. “You’re that honey/on my lips” the frontman explains – an addict who seems happy with his drug of choice – and is a lounging lizard ready to snap up and seduced the girl. In the song’s video; the band are cast in their own spoof/show – each member gets their own identity (Tiffany Marie is ‘Stacey’) and a Blushes-themed show unfolds.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

There are newscasts and bulletins; a range of scenes that give the song a more dramatic and visually-arresting angle. The chorus is an energised and breathy thing that melts male-female vocals into something soothing yet intense. One of the problems I have noticed with my recent reviews is a degree of indecipherability. The words come out but it is quite hard understanding them. They get buried a little by the composition and are a little too breathy – more about the sound rather than clarity. That is okay – the verses are really clear – but it is a struggle picking out all the words. What strikes me most is the sound: a melange of sweetness and low-down; a conspiracy of honey and silk. It is a pleasing coda that emanates various emotions and gets into the head. Comestibles and foodstuffs are used as metaphors and similes. The hero can make the relationship last so long as the milk does not sour; the honey-scented girl is his ideal but he knows there is a risk things can go bad – the need to please her and not rock the boat is evident. The composition never gets too hot and intrusive: the vocal is allowed to shine and, instead, the instruments push the song forward and add interesting little colours here and there. One gets impressions of 1960s Pop with the lyrical sentiment. There is an innocence and child-like nature that is reflected in the video. The huskier female vocals have croak and sensational passion; the male vocal is more relaxed and lighter – the combination gives the song huge vibrancy and allure. The hero does not know what to do or think anymore – the heroine expresses the same sentiments. Voices build and the entangled emotions give the song a sense of confusion and urgency. The chorus, as the song nears its end, becomes clearer and you piece more of the story together.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

What one notices by the end of the song is how quickly they want to repeat things. You listen again and are hooked by all the vocal and instrumental elements. It is an addictive song that, given its themes and ideals, should not come as a surprise! The band has created a song that will prove very popular and do fantastic business in the live setting. It is an intoxicating and wonderful song that has an insane degree of catchiness and seductiveness. You keep coming back to and are keen to explore every nook and avenue. Few bands have crafted anything as sublime this year – even though we are only a few days in – but that benchmark will be hard to top. Rather than go for something easy and commercial; the guys have crafted a song that means a lot to them. There are elements of the 1990s’ best; the joys and Pop of the 1960s – modern Alternative tones that keep things current. Even though the song is around four-minutes-long; you wish it would last a bit longer – so one can experience that chorus one more time, perhaps! Let’s hope there is more material from Blushes and, on the evidence of Honey, they are on a hot streak right now. The Buckinghamshire band ensure this year has begun with a dollop of warm, sweet and nourishing goodness.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

The Blushes guys will still be adjusting to the introduction of the New Year. Honey is a great way to kick off their 2018 and I am excited seeing where they go from here. Whether there is an E.P. or album arriving, I am not sure. They have momentum and fans behind them; radio stations are aware of them and it seems like more and more eyes are trained the way of Blushes. I am pumped and cannot wait to see them explore and conquer. They will get local gigs but, owing to their new stature; I wonder whether they will explore the spectrum and bounty of London? The city has so many great venues so, as spring emerges; they will take the time to get their music out to the capital-folk. I have mentioned bands like False Advertising: a Manchester act that is performing at some of their city’s biggest spots. I wonder whether Blushes will consider Manchester as it is a rich market ripe for tapping. These are all speculations and suggestions: how they progress and move in 2018 is up to them. It is the spirit and mutual respect that gets me; the way the band melts and fuse with one another – an intoxicating ballet that has led to some sensational music. I would like to see Blushes wipe the crimson from their cheeks and widen their scope. I know money is an issue and they will not want to race up and down the U.K. just yet. Their music is hitting the hearts of many so, in that spirit, there will be many people out there who have yet to see the band perform live. Let’s hope the band spend some time visiting other cities and counties through the year. It has been an exciting and successful past couple of years for the group – 2018 is the year, I feel, they will make the biggest strides. Honey is where they are now and, if it is an indication of where they are heading; I feel they will get some very good festival invites. That is another region they could explore: the fabulous festivals, small and large, that seems perfect for them. If you have not got involved with Buckinghamshire’s Blushes rectify this and discover a band who will soon become part of…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Merridale

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