TRACK REVIEW: Gold Complex - Homegirl

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Gold Complex

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Homegirl

 

9.5/10

 

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The track, Homegirl, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/44I3RJr477lVCsXilT1Iat?si=xvMbs_zATgeuoZ0XCyrzZQ

ORIGIN:

Toronto, Canada

GENRES:

Pop/R&B/Rock/Soul

RELEASE DATE:

8th February, 2019

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THE way I am doing things with reviews now...

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is that I am focusing on one popular/well-known artist to start with at the weekend and then looking at someone new the next time around, on Sunday. The reason I am doing that is because, to be truthful, there is not a lot of distinction between the requests I get. I get ones like this that are distinct and give me new angles to explore but too many are very samey and there is nothing much to be said. Having to repeat myself every week can get very boring and frustrating so I find it is easier if I go after a bigger artist who I know will provide me with some fresh aspects. Today, as I look around, I get to look at Gold Complex. To be fair, I will be repeating myself a bit with regards some of the topics raised but they have some elements that are different from everything else I have featured lately. I will talk about recommendations for the band and strengthening their social media core; a bit about Canada and Toronto when it comes to music; fusing different worlds and getting something exceptional at the end; vocal harmony groups and larger acts – I will end by looking at Gold Complex and where they might head. I have featured the band before – back in 2016 – but can’t recall what I said and whether it was an interview or not. It was a long time ago so I am not being too harsh on myself but there has been quite a bit of time since then for the guys to build and put new stuff into the world. They have been very busy and developing their sound as they go. I think they are in a really strong position right now and they will only continue to grow bigger and more confident. The guys have a great sound and sensation and they are doing their very best to promote that and ensure they keep the material coming – and that it is of a very good quality.

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I think they could definitely have a few more shots out there. I say this with every act – or most of them – but there is this scope for visual expansion. Gold Complex is an octet and, as such, they have various different angles they can take regarding photos. If they want to do all group shots then that is cool but they can split into smaller groups and try some concepts. I think they have some very good photos out there but a few extra ones on their pages – with different concepts – would be great. The reason I say this is because, when you have groups, they tend to do very similar photos and it can be a bit samey. The boys have a great bond so having some individual shots or some different concepts would be good. They are popular in Canada but I think there is a big market waiting for them in the U.K. Maybe it is hard to get the music heard here unless there are regular performances but hitting up the U.K.’s best stations and putting their music this way would get new fans their way. I know they have fans in the U.K. but I think there are a lot of new ears waiting to discover them. If they can get some radio stations here to play their music then they can get some gigs here and I think there would be big demand. Maybe they have a bit of a base here but there is a big opportunity here. I will move on to a new subject but I know Gold Complex take good care of their social media and always trying to get their music to fresh faces. I am not surprised they have such an interesting sound because, when I think about invention and originality, I am taken back to Canada. It has been a while since I ventured there and got to review a great Canadian act. Toronto, especially, is an area that always seems to produce results.

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Most of my recent investigations have concerned U.K. and U.S. artists so I am glad I get to go back to Canada and have another look. Most of my Canadian-based reviews seem to focus on Toronto but I have looked at Montréal and Quebec. I think many of us overlook Canada when it comes to music and assume it will be inferior compared to America. I think there are vast differences between the nations. There seems to be more commercial pressure in the U.S. and fewer underground artists taking risks. That might sound incorrect but I think there is more boldness and bravery when it comes to Canadian music. Canada does have its mainstream and Pop core cut I think its new artists are fusing sounds more and providing something fresher and more exciting. Toronto has produced great bands such as Broken Social Scene and Crystal Castles and there are no signs the city is slowing down at all. When I interview people from Toronto, they always tell me there is a friendliness and sense of community that musicians are drawn to. There are great venues to be found and plenty of opportunities for artists to see different acts and get inspired. Having a core and solid live scene means local artists can cut their teeth and get that recognition. From there, they have the chance to move up and attract ears from other parts of Canada. Many Toronto natives are being retained and feeling no need to live anywhere else. Maybe it is the community and togetherness that keeps musicians where they are. I think it is the combination of history, great live venues and eclectic music that makes it such a fantastic place to be. As more people are looking away from London and seeking out other cities to inhabit, I think Toronto is a possibility for many – if you do not mind especially chilly winters! I do think Canada, as a whole, gets overlooked and has to fight too hard for focus.

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Maybe that will change in time but, if you look at cities like Toronto, there is ample gold. I have not been there myself but I know there is a hugely eclectic scene forming. Canadian acts, unlike some other big nations, are still very keen on older technologies like cassettes – with many artists releasing music on this format and keeping it alive. What I do find (regarding Canada) is that there is this genuine sense of ambition and dare that means the music is rarely boring and formulaic. Toronto is at the forefront of this inventive streak but Canada is definitely a nation to watch! I am not sure why this is but Canadian artists are bolder regarding splicing sounds and adding new ingredients to the pot. Look at previous Gold Complex songs like Driver – the song I was going to review but, as time has passed, I felt it better to review their newest track – and you can hear it is not like anything else really. This is not unusual at all: Canadian artists are known for their skill and intelligence when it comes to original expressions. Sure, there are some mainstream and Pop-heavy acts that do not stray far from the norm but I think Canada boasts so many interesting and curious souls. It does make me wonder whether there is a channel whereby journalists in the U.K. and U.S. can connect easily. I think we tend to concentrate too much on the U.S. and U.K. and Canada does not get as much of a look in. I love the way Canadian artists work and think the rest of the world needs to take notice! I shall move on and talk about something else but do some research and see what tremendous diversity there is in the country. Canada, I feel, is right at the forefront and should be respected accordingly. Let’s think about Gold Complex and how they approach their music; mixing together sounds and ideas that create this harmonious and evocative whole.

Every one of the songs from Gold Complex has a sense of funk and drive. You always get energy and a degree of freedom that gets you moving and makes you smile. Even when the guys are thinking about something more emotional and personal, that does not mean the music has to suffer. That is what I am talking about when it comes to their music: even when they are getting serious, they like to have fun and create something quite alluring. In terms of their music, you get this horn parts and blasts of sound; you have the harmonies that run riot and an immense amount of power. Gold Complex mix genres but, largely, one experiences a bit of Funk, Soul and R&B. Maybe there is some Pop in the mixture but I think Gold Complex are stronger than that. They have been seen, by some, as similar to Red Hot Chili Peppers in the way they melt these genres and the energy they project. Think about harmony-rich bands of the past like All-4-One and Boyz II Men and it has been a long time since we have seen anything like that. Whilst Gold Complex are slightly different to those American bands, the vocal strengths are very similar. I was thinking about larger bands and why they do not really exist right now. Bands as a whole are becoming less popular so the days of having these larger bands must seem strange. I do remember, back in the 1980s and 1990s, enjoying the all-male/all-female crews who could have so many members and had so much vocal firepower at their disposal. I would like to see this come back because, when you think of bands, the voice is not top of the agenda. In fact, when it comes to the sounds being produced, there are still more Rock and Alternative bands around than anything else. Gold Complex intrigue me because they have this tight bond but they can go in any direction they please.

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I love what they are throwing out right now. It is so different to anything else and it is the way they can splice genres together that gives them such a fulsome and rich blend. Maybe I am being nostalgic but I loved the days of Boyz II Men and the fact bands did not necessarily need to focus on instruments to elicit response. I hope Gold Complex keep playing together in the way they are because there are few groups like them right now. It makes me wonder how the eight members of Gold Complex got together and started life. It is interesting to envisage how eight guys all started recording and when they realised they sounded great together. There is a danger, when it comes to male bands like this, they can descend into cheese territory and be a bit like a boyband. I have nothing against that type of group but it is not something I am interested in. Gold Complex are more like the respected and quality groups you had decades ago that could combine this many bodies and not seem unwieldy at all. Have a listen to the vocals on display when Gold Complex get going. Look at the genres they put together and how they sound. It is hard to compare them with anyone else and think of any like-minded groups. There must be others out there but is rare to see an eight-piece group playing and making music like this. I think, in time, there will be more bands like Gold Complex coming along. Think about the effect the vocals have and what the music does to you. This inspiring and colourful blend definitely makes you feel better and there is that clash of the modern and classic. One gets touches of the older-days male groups but you get something very much of this time. It is probably worth moving on and thinking about the latest track from Gold Complex, Homegirl. It is another exceptional and assured cut from the Canadian troupe.

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Homegirl sort of comes up in two different stages. To start, we have this slightly Jazz-like calm that provides gentle percussive elements. There is this kind of sensual and calming mood that draws the listener in and gives you a distinct viewpoint. There is romance to be found and this rather calming aura. I was imagining a passionate scene or a quiet room. They may sound unconnected but one definitely gets a feeling of relax and release, even though the opening moments are quite calm and undramatic. Then there is a kick as the percussion steps up and the horns come through. It is not an explosion but more of a rousing little rise that takes the song up a gear and changes your mindset. I do like the way the introduction sort of builds and the fact you cannot really predict where it might head next. Underpinning the song is this sophisticated and smooth composition that jigs and jumps. One feels a definite energy and kick but the focus is on a sexiness and caramel smooth. It is a gorgeous sound and one that, to me, fuses Jazz and R&B. I like the horns and the way they add to the mood. When the hero comes to the microphone, he talks about this new girl being interesting and bold. She is not like anyone he has met before and, within a few weeks of their courtship, she is calling him ‘baby’. The vocal has a soulful and passionate tone and it is a great accompaniment to the composition. In many ways, there is this fusion of the older R&B groups and something modern-day. The track never gets into the modern boyband situation where the lyrics are quite cliché and the song holds little weight. Instead, the chorus has this accessible nature and sound but one definitely gets vibes of the better days – when you had these vocal groups that produced luscious and scintillating songs.

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The chorus talks about this new girl sort of being converted. Maybe the lovers are tentative at first but, soon enough, they are fused and a lot closer. The hero wants her to be his homegirl and hang with him. Maybe there has been past relationships that have not worked out too well but here, it seems, there is more hope. I feel this girl is someone who naturally clicks with the hero and there is this excitement. The chorus flecks and sparks with a serious bounce. You find yourself nodding along to its alacrity and catchiness. Although I have mentioned other sounds and eras, I do not think it is easy to compare Gold Complex with anyone else. There is almost a Michael Jackson-like feel (his Off the Wall period) to the song that is pleasing. I have been looking around for songs that have that 1980s Pop and Soul but have modern production values. Gold Complex are always great when it comes to big choruses and this is no different. I do love the constant sense of movement and delight that the song offers. I am thinking about the heroine and wondering what she looks like. The entire group add their elements and create this fulsome and vibrant mood. One might say an eight-piece band would struggle to remain focused and provide any real depth. How many people will sing and how many will be playing instruments? In the case of this track, there is a focused lead vocal but some great backing; the composition allows new light and elements to come in and Homegirl is this nuanced and fascinating song. The lead vocal looks at this girl and how chilled she is. There is no need for any sort of probation period and seeing how things go. It seems, right away, she is on the same level and someone that is perfect. The guys are paying testament to her and I wonder whether this woman is less a romantic fixture or someone who is just hanging with the guys.  Maybe, strangely, there is a bit of a Fall Out Boy tone in the lead vocal but I love the different tones and flavours the group provide.

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I love the track and how it keeps on stepping and jumping. There are not many songs that have a constant energy and make you feel a lot better. The horns are great and they give this idea of vibing and chemistry. If the foreground and vocal suggests something more Pop-based, the composition and lyrics hint at R&B and Rock. It is a nice blend and concoction that rewards repeated listens. I have heard the song a few times and get something new from each experience. The chorus remains this huge and catchy thing but I was thinking about the central figure and who she is. On one level, I think there is a slight romantic yearning and desire. She seems to be pretty cool and someone that is naturally in step with the guys/hero. On the other hand, she seems like a really interesting person that Gold Complex feel is similar to them. Many will have their own interpretation of what the song is about but few can resist the intensity and pleasure of the mood. I am keen to experience music that makes me feel better and, in the modern scene, that is becoming harder. Homegirl is a fantastic song that bodes well for the album. I wonder where it will sit in the pack and whether many of the other songs will have the same sort of flair. I do hope so and, knowing Gold Complex’s work, they are unlikely to put too many piano ballads in there! If you have not heard Gold Complex before then this is a great song to begin with. It is easy to appreciate but there is so much going on that will intrigue. I do wonder who the lead figure is and whether she is based on someone real. It appears there are some deep feelings going on and this heroine seems too good to be true. Homegirl is an original spin and take on romance and friendship. It is another fantastic offering from Gold Complex – a group that continues to evolve and strengthen with everything they do. The chorus has that classic sense of giddiness and memorability and I am a big fan of songs that work this way. Because of that, you will want to return and experience that joy over and over. I shall end the review section here but I have been blown away by the energy and instant appeal of Homegirl. It is an incredible cut and makes great use of all the members of Gold Complex. There are few groups that can create such a sensation and feel but Gold Complex are assured and astonishing in everything they do. Homegirl is a perfect song to bring the heat and sun; brilliantly smooth and romantic or, if you just need to dance and unwind, then this is the track for you! I have very high hopes for the Canadian group and feel they are a lot stronger than most of their peers right now...

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Gold Complex are going to be pretty busy in the coming months. They have the new single out and, on 22nd February, they release their debut album, New Soul. The guys released an E.P. back in 2015 and, since then, have unveiled a couple of singles. In fact, the group were a little quiet between 2015 and 2018 and I did wonder whether they would release anything else. Perhaps they needed more time to get the songs right but it is a relief Gold Complex have come back and they have been working on that album. There is a lot of pressure for artists to release music all of the time and remain visible. I know, given the complexities and layers you hear on a Gold Complex song, there needs to be focus and patience. They are naturally harmonised and bonded but one does not experience something simple and throwaway with Gold Complex. Instead, there is this music that gets into the brain and makes all the senses tingle. The vocals are exceptional but the compositions are equally fabulous. It takes a while to make sure that is right so one can forgive a slight gap between releases. Keep an eye on the social media channels of Gold Complex and make sure you snap up their debut record. The group have been around a while now and have made a name for themselves in Canada. There is still a long way to go and new areas to conquer. I do wonder whether they will get to the U.K. and we will hear them over here. Given the fact they are turning heads in Canada, it cannot be that long until we get to see them over here. I am not sure what their plans are regarding an international tour but they might be focusing on Canada at the moment. That would be understandable but, if they do get the chance to travel, there are people and venues over here that would be very interested.

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I will end the review very soon but I wanted to recommend people check out Gold Complex. It has been a while since I’ve been able to talk about a new act in a different way. I get a lot of similar requests and it can be tricky finding fresh words to say – and the sounds do not always stay in the mind. The band has those incredible vocals and harmonies but I do love the fact they switch between R&B, Rock and Pop. Some might say they have a commercial sound but that would suggest they are mainstream and chart-bound. I think Gold Complex are stronger than that and they remind me more of the classic R&B bands of the 1990s. However you view them, it is clear this year will be a successful one for the group. I intimated they might want to get a few more photos online. I think they have a great chemistry and visual side. It would be good to see that displayed more perhaps. If you have not experienced Gold Complex then Homegirl is a good place to start. It is one of their strongest offerings yet and shows, with every release, they are strengthening and discovering new levels. I wonder how the band will grow and where they head next. There will be Canadian dates and demands and I am sure there will be requests from the U.S. too. I shall not get too ahead off myself but it would be good to think Gold Complex will come over this way. There are so many groups out there and there is definitely something different about Gold Complex. I love the sounds they put together and the effect their music has. Let me end things here but I am pleased Gold Complex have new music out and I look forward to seeing where they go now. I am always excited when a genuinely inventive and original proposition comes my way and I just know the Canadian eight-piece will go a very long way. Congratulations to the guys on a brilliant single and the best of luck for the future. The New Soul L.P. will do great business and see their stock rise. If you get a chance to see the group live and up-close, make sure you do. That is likely to be an experience...

FEW people will forget.

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Follow Gold Complex

TRACK REVIEW: Lizzo - Cuz I Love You

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Lizzo

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Cuz I Love You

 

9.7/10

 

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The track, Cuz I Love You, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/1R1NwL3p27XZC9n5xpP8LE?si=68_EDDV8QIS2q9OxcEJB2Q

ORIGIN:

Minnesota, U.S.A.

GENRE:

Pop

RELEASE DATE:

14th February, 2019

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THE reason I have selected Lizzo...

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and not gone for someone less-well-known is because, well, the requests I am getting are all very similar and there is not a lot to differentiate the artists. That might sound cruel but there is more variation and choice outside of the underground. I can pick a track I really want to go after and know there is a lot of new stuff to talk about. In the case of Lizzo, I want to talk about female artists who have spark and can be considered headline, leading acts; those that raise important issues and powerful messages through their songwriting; adding a sense of fun and vitality back into Pop music; whether newer acts like Lizzo can complete and equal the icons of the past – I will end with a little but about why Lizzo stands aside and how she is unique. For now, I wanted to chat about Lizzo because she is someone who always gives her all to the music! Look through her previous albums and you can hear someone who has come a long way but, right from the start, she was producing these bangers that got into the head and made the body pop. She is one of these artists who wants to have fun and show some sass but deliver a potent message at the same time. Lizzobangers arrived in 2013 and instantly set out her stall: a record packed with big songs that had confidence and her special D.N.A. I love that album and instantly bonded with it. I think we look out at the mainstream and assume artists there must be good and memorable because they have made it that far. What I find is that there is this division between those who are genuinely great and worthy and many who have an overly-commercial and tired sound – appealing because their audience do not really have the imagination to look elsewhere. It is necessary to look through those at the top of music and listen closely.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @gaytimesmag

Lizzo is an artist who has been playing for a little while now but is growing and adding new elements to her sound. I think she is special when it comes to the fizzing and body-moving jams that have ounces of confidence and energy. There are not that many artists in Pop who have positivity in their bones and continue to stamp out these classics. The past few months has seen Lizzo cut these great gems that are instantly addictive and exciting. I think music needs more artists like Lizzo and we need to embrace this type of music. Listen to everything else out there and can one truly say there is anyone else like Lizzo around? Cuz I Love You is not as fiery as some of her other songs but it has so much working away and is a brilliant thing. I only discovered Lizzo a few years after her debut in 2013 and am glad I did. I wanted to highlight her today because, whilst she is popular and known, there are some who do not know her music. If you are unfamiliar with Lizzo and wonder whether she is worth exploration then I would say her main assets are the energy, the big hooks and the lyrics. She has a fantastic voice but her words stand out and truly shine. I wonder whether many consider Lizzo too new to be a festival headliner. She has been going a little bit now so I am not sure why festivals are not lining up. You want these artists who can get people moving and have some great songs in their locker. Lizzo fits the criteria and I can easily see her on a headline stage getting the crowds whipped up and singing along. Lizzo’s songs have that anthemic quality and will endure for many years to come. I think, maybe next year, we will see Lizzo headlining and it is about time really – as she already has proven herself and should be getting those bookings.

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I think it is rare to see artists around that have genuine spark and physicality. So much modern Pop is quite muted and does not have the same spirit as it did back in the 1980s and 1990s. I mention this point a lot but I see no reason why Pop has sort of turned in on itself and gone a bit soft. It is still good but does not have the same attack as the classics. Lizzo is part of the new generation who knows how important it is to have movement and something fun in the music. I wanted to talk about Lizzo because of her energy and memorability but I love what she talks about and how she approaches things. In the press, she has chatted about body confidence and how proud she is of her curves. I feel there is a bit of hesitancy from some quarters to raise these kinds of issues but Lizzo is proud of her body and it is brought into her music. I do love how Lizzo speaks her mind and she is not afraid to be bold and controversial. She is a very real person and talks about sex and love in a fresh way. Songs like Juice are filled with great lines and expressions that you would not get from any other artist. Lizzo has brought body issues and confidence into her music and discussed gender inequality; she has spoken about big themes and is not afraid to tackle them. We need more artists who are actually using music and the press as a way of getting big messages out there and doing something different. Think about most of the popular artists around and do they honestly have something about them that stands aside?! Maybe they have a slight edge but Lizzo seems to be in her own field. One discovers this very fine and accomplished artist but the woman behind the songs is remarkably open, funny and interesting. This all leads to a complete package and, going back to my headliner point...why isn’t Lizzo on top of festival bills?!

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I am not saying others neglect important topics when they write songs but Lizzo, regarding body and sex appeal, is shining a light and, as a larger woman, is inspiring many others. There is this notion and ideal that female artists need to be super-slim to be seen as popular, attractive and commercial. If they were to stray from this mould then that could see them outcast and they are not exactly what you want to see on the cover of magazines. I feel this mindset has eased through the years but there is still, on magazines and in videos, this desired type and look that has always been in music. Maybe female artists will always be marketed based on their looks but I’d like to think artists such as Lizzo are making changes and helping to turn the tide. I think so many people are afraid of getting into music because they feel they are not the right size or look. Most mainstream female artists are of a certain size and shape and I think many have been denied an access to the top because they do not conform. Lizzo is someone who is never going to change – and why should she! – and, instead, is delivering these big songs that show all her curves and truths. In the media, Lizzo is keen to break misconceptions and tackle those who think women should look a certain way. She has spoken about sexism and L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. concerns and, at various moments, addressed sex and love in a very fresh and personal way. There are few out there who have as much personality and appeal as Lizzo. I wanted to focus on her because of how inspiring she is and how that will continue. I will move to another subject now but think about all the big artists around and can you say there is anyone as standout and grand as Lizzo? It is hard to think of anyone and, for that reason, she deserves all the attention and acclaim in the world.

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I have already mentioned it before but I think Pop music has somewhat got gloomy and a bit ordinary. That is not common to everyone but most of the scene has changed radically through the decades. There are some great Pop artists who have proper swagger and big tunes but most modern stuff is quite personal, unmemorable and safe. I do wonder why artists are not really spreading their wings and why there has to be this sound. By that, can you really compare the best Pop music of the 1960s-1990s and feel this is still being done today? It is not hard to produce great music that has energy and catchiness but most are choosing not to play this way. I hope there is a shift and we get to see Pop music return to its roots. At the very least, I think other artists should look at Lizzo and see the affect she is having. Her songs get into the blood and they are so much fun! That is what we need right now and, more and more, artists are choosing to be too personal and lack that killer punch. It might just be a phase but I think the mainstream has been in a bit of a state for the past decade at the very least. We do not have the same quality as we did in the 2000s and it does concern me. I will raise this point later this weekend but I have not lost hope Pop will bring some of the fun back! Lizzo is definitely having a great time in music and not willing to change who she is to fit in. I do feel there is a lot of pressure for artists to sound the same or not wander too far from the garden path. It is quite sad this is the case but I feel there will be an evolution. Lizzo is a remarkable case of an artist bringing something fresh to the table and providing incredible album after the next.

I will end this piece by talking about her upcoming album but I love how consistent Lizzo is and what she has already produced. There is more to Lizzo than fun and energy but that is a big part of what makes her stand aside. I do love how much energy and force there is in when you listen to her music but Lizzo has a way with words that gets into the brain. There are few tropes and clichés when you hear a Lizzo song! Whether it is the wit and humour or the way Lizzo can fuse unique phrases and create something very alluring...nobody else is doing what Lizzo is. I feel she is someone who will provoke change and shows what can be when you tear up the rules. It makes me wonder, more and more, why there is not more volume in Pop right now. I mean, there are some fantastic tracks and artists but I think so much more could be done. It all comes back to fun and bringing a sense of movement into the mainstream. Maybe it is me being all hung up on the past but I am excited by Lizzo and think she has a real light. Everything she produces sounds amazing and it cannot be long before she is headlining Glastonbury and playing the biggest festivals around. There is a real opportunity right now for musicians to help make a change and inspire the masses. I am seeing more and more acts talk about deeper issues such as political divide and mental-health – this is very positive and encouraging to see. I think this has been long overdue but I feel you can discuss something weighty and potent and still have fun whilst doing so. Lizzo does and I do think this can be reciprocated by her peers. Can this fine American artist, in years to come, reach the giddy heights of ‘icon’ status?!

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Linda Nylind for The Guardian

I have talked about the fading icons and why there are not many in modern music right now. By this term, I mean those who reinvent themselves and endure for decades; they have these changing looks and go through changes. I think Lizzo’s career is too young for me to make those sort of bold predictions but I do feel she has the ammunition to become an icon.  If you look at how she has consistently produced great songs that stick in the head and stood you to attention. Lizzo has always been real and true to herself and never compromised what makes her her. She is an inspiring role model and someone who has the same sort of integrity, sass and confidence as Madonna. Maybe Lizzo’s stylistic reinventions are not that big and expressive but she ticks so many boxes. I look around music now and there are some artists who might be around and compelling listeners in decades to come. It is harder to stand out now than it was back then and so much music is disposal and samey. I think, more and more, the days of the icon are numbered and we will never see someone like Prince or Michael Jackson again. That is not to say we will not see someone remain for years and make a big impact on the next generation. Perhaps the terminology has changed and the definition (of an idol) is narrower. To me, Lizzo has all the hallmarks of a future-legend and she has already proven herself. Everything seems to be falling into place and it is only a matter of time before Lizzo is considered a modern-day icon. I am not sure whether that is a contradiction in terms but I think Lizzo stands away from everyone else and is a very promising artist. Maybe I should move onto her latest track, Cuz I Love You, as it sort of brings all of my points together and shows what I am talking about.

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There is something almost classic about Lizzo’s latest track. The last thing I – and many other people – heard from her was Juice. That has a very distinct sound and sort of captures you with its colour, catchy chorus and swagger. Listen to Cuz I Love You and the start has Lizzo singing unaccompanied. She is belting out this rather romantic and powerful lyric and then, without much notice, we get this very impassioned and bold compositional explosion. There are horns, percussion and strings that crash like waves and take you by surprise. I love the way the song starts somewhat calm and uncluttered and allows Lizzo to announce the song. It is a great way to kick it off and the heroine talks about being in love. Maybe it has not happened before and, as she attests, it is quite a feeling. I spoke about Lizzo’s songs being very different and it is hard to compare this one with any others. So many artists repeat what they do but here is something that is unlike any other Lizzo song! The words, like all of her songs, have a unique aspect and paint a picture. Here, as the biggest blast calms and she is accompanied by a skipping piano, Lizzo talks about, once, visiting the liquor store and drinking. Maybe there were reckless and wild days and she was in a different place. She seems to have found love now but, before, life was a bit different and she was rolling with a different crowd. This is Lizzo still having a blast and fun but showing a more sensitive and revealing side. The song almost sounds like a classical Soul or Jazz offering. Produced by X Ambassadors, there is this nice shift between the huge and spirited composition – that acts like a heartbeat and provides drama – and Lizzo’s voice. It is not often Lizzo gets to have her voice standout out front and being so emotional.

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What one discovers is how strong her voice is. This has always been the case but this latest offering allows her to go in a different direction. There is so much power and emotion when she talks about crying over her love and being affected. Maybe the lyrics are not as distinct as some of her other songs but, when you are talking about the strength of relationships and a new passion, there is a sense of limitation I guess. Cuz I Love You switches between the Jazz-like belt and the faster-paced and more characterful expressions. Lizzo talks about standing in the rain and getting her hair all wet; maybe having to wait for the man and doing all of this. I do love how Lizzo cuts and strikes some moments and can turn into this hugely soulful singer the next. It seems like the heroine has found this new lease but has had to make some changes in her life. It seems like this romance has been blossoming but not always smooth. Lizzo talks about this person being hidden away and on the down-low but now, after some realisation, she wants to put them on a plane and take them to her shows. I am not sure whether there was some friction before or whether her sweetheart was a bit troublesome. In any case, things have got to this stage and Lizzo is realising she has feelings. She did not know she cared so much and, when the chorus comes back, she lets all the feelings out. I do love, as I keep saying, how the song switches and the potency of the chorus. You try and compare it to another song – the chorus does have that classic sound – and fall in love with the vocals. In many Lizzo songs, she is singing quite fast-paced and you never get to hear her singing in a more direct and impassioned manner.

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The addition of the horns and percussion gives plenty of stamp and rouse and perfectly backs her vocal. The heroine has struggled to make a connection before and not found it easy to be in love. There are moments when Lizzo hits really high notes and extends her range all over the place! When belting out and really letting her voice open, you get hints of Aretha Franklin and some of the most powerful singers ever. Cuz I Love You is such a hugely powerful record and you wonder whether it could extend for another minute or so. One gets hooked on that switch between the fast and edgier verses and this very different chorus. One will listen to the song the first time and it is quite hard to take everything in and get to grips. You are amazed and blown away so go back and listen a few more times. There are a few writers on this track – including Maroon 5’s Adam Levine – but it is Lizzo’s amazing and towering central performance that makes the song so masterful. It is impossible to listen to the song and not be moved and amazed. I believe the title cut is the opening track for Cuz I Love You – although don’t quote me on that! – and, if that is true, it will be one of the most impressive lead-off tracks in recent memory! The fact Lizzo, between this song and Juice, has shown so much variety and quality means very few will be able to refute her brilliance. Ensure you dive into he brilliant waters of Cuz I Love You and discover this wonderful song. You will need a few listens for the track to truly sink in and work its magic because, as I found, the first listen is so intense and you are not prepared for what comes! Lizzo has shown she is one of the most flexible, impressive and original artists around and this is why I think she will be around for many decades more.

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Cuz I Love You is out on 19th April and is the third studio album from Lizzo. It is her first album in four years and the singles released so far are amazing. There is a bit of speculation regarding the tracks that will appear on the album and what it will sound like. Juice gave us a taste of what we might expect and now, with the title offering in the world, there is another piece of the puzzle. I am excited to see what is coming and what Cuz I Love You will sound like. There are various writers and producers who work with Lizzo but I do not think that gets in the way of her music and personality. You can be a great artist and leader and have others working on the music. Lizzo has always worked this way and, at the end of the day, it is her voice that stands out. She is the most important and dynamic part of the mix and the person who makes the music come alive! Maybe it is too reductive and simplistic calling Lizzo’s music ‘Pop’. It has so many different aspects to it and is very different to everything else around. I do love how Lizzo keeps her social media updated and she is always communication with fans and letting us into her world. It gives a great impression of who she is and what makes her tick. There are a lot of big artists who are quite reserved and insular and, whilst that is cool, you never get a real sense of who they are. Maybe music is meant to provide the real commentary but Lizzo knows, in this day and age, you need to be more active on social media and that fan relationship is very important. I will end things pretty soon but I have been looking around music and asking whether people performing today will be remembered in decades to come.

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It is very hard to tell but you can think of a few who definitely will be. I think Lizzo will continue to produce albums and she will headline festivals before long. Like powerful female artists such as Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin – that might sound random but they have some shared aspects – Lizzo has a unique sound and personality that goes into everything she does; a real confidence and need to be true in interviews; an urge to change music and make a difference in the world. With Lizzo, you have someone who is a bit cheeky and fun and that adds to the sense of wonder and infectiousness. It has been great breaking from my unusual routine and writing about a bigger artist. I do miss that side of things but the main reason I wanted to do this was to bring Lizzo to more people. She has big fan numbers but so many of her followers are female. I do not think her music is reserved to women and, in fact, it is much more eclectic, broad and open than anything out there. When all is said and done, Lizzo wants to bring fun to the party and she likes to shake it! Keep an ear out when it comes to tour dates and see if she is heading your way. I know there will be promotion around the release of her upcoming album and a chance to catch her very soon. Cuz I Love You is a wonderful track and brings new elements into Lizzo’s music. She is always growing and getting more confident as a performer. I think this will continue and, before too long, she will be one of the biggest artists on the planet. It is the way Lizzo brings all her energy and life to every song that makes them stick in the brain and remain in the heart. If you have not experienced the wonder and vitality of Lizzo then make sure you rectify this. Cuz I Love You is a brilliant track to start with and lays out all of Lizzo’s assets and qualities. It has been great reviewing the song and, when the album comes out in April, I will be...

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PHOTO CREDIT: Atlantic Records

REVIEWING that too!

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Follow Lizzo

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TRACK REVIEW: Swears - Subliminal

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Swears

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PHOTO CREDIT: Izak Jackson 

Subliminal

 

9.3/10

 

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The track, Subliminal, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/0pfo9NlC7qcOgWQngKVaiD?si=hYbj3KG0RbOyPsQetFankw

ORIGIN:

Middlesbrough, U.K.

GENRES:

Indie-Punk/Grunge

RELEASE DATE:

8th February, 2019

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I am going to have to repeat myself here a bit...

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because, whilst it is not a slight on Swears themselves, they have a lot in common with other bands I have featured from the North East. Whilst the sound is sort of the same and there is not really a unique angle – in terms of their story and  how they got together; what their music combines etc. – that is inevitable in a market that is growing and very busy right now. I shall get to the good bits in a second but it occurs, looking at them, that they take good images. There are some cool photos on their social media right now but I would suggest the boys gets a few more included. They have some great live shots that have been taken at various shows but not too many of them together in a portrait. It would be good to see them come through because, whilst their images suggest they are a great live act, a few composed shots might add a new dynamic to their personality. The guys keep their social media updated and informed so, as a fan, you are always being kept in the loop regarding what is going on and how they are moving. That is important in this market because I get so many requests from people who are either not on Twitter – an essential platform for every act – or they do not update it very often. It is hard enough to stand aside from the pack so you’d think people would take advantage of every option out there. For a band or artist, social media offers fans around the world and I never get the logical behind people forsaking Twitter. Even if you do not use it that often and it does not bring too many people in, it is useful to have and there are ways to attract more followers. Swears are organised and, when it comes to their social media platforms, they are visible and passionate.

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This might sound like a small point but, as I have said numerous times, it is vital. Music is as much about the visual aspect of things as it is the music. If the guys can supplement their online spread with some more photos then it would stand them out even more. I would also like to know what sort of music they are attracted to. As I say, I have reviewed a few bands from the same part of the world and, given this review is so extensive, need some special angles to come from. You listen to their music and know that there is a lot of depth and work that goes into it. The band is tight and you can feel that, behind the scenes, they have a great relationship. Bringing something of that to the page would be awesome and give them another layer. I am not too bothered when it comes to biography because most people will look away from that and go straight for the songs. I guess that is the most important part of the process and, so long as you get the music right, then the rest will sort of take care of itself. This is true but Swears have a great sound and I think they could give themselves an easy boost. I should park that on the side for now but, as I said, I might need to repeat myself because of the situation and location of the band. When it comes to me reviewing Subliminal, I will be able to give a unique expression but, right now, I will need to move onto another subject. Before I do, it is worth exploring Swears’ social media and information because they definitely want to reach as many people as possible and stand out. Joel Clayton, Craig Hughes and brothers George and Stephanos Louca have been going since 2017 and made some big steps since then. I love the singles they have already released and they seem to be growing stronger with each one.

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I will talk about the new track soon enough but I wanted to cover the North East and why it is often overlooked. I have, as I said, talked about music from Newcastle and Middlesbrough and why these are areas we need to talk about more. I think London does get a bit too much attention but how many bands do you get from there? I feel London is better when it comes to solo artists but other parts of the nation seem to do the band thing better. I think the North has always been stronger when it comes to bands and we need to embrace them more. There are a lot of great solo acts around but I can feel bands starting to make more of an impression. When it comes to bands, I find myself attracted to those playing in areas like Brighton and Manchester. Swears are up in Middlesbrough and, whilst it is not as busy as other cities, there are some great venues around. I have assessed a few bands from that way and I am always left satisfied and educated. I find bands like Swears are less concerned with copying other bands or producing sounds they think will fill stadiums or get into the charts. I will discuss the sound Swears make because, with every band that comes through, it is hard to stand apart. There has always been that North-South divide when it comes to music. Things are getting better but I do worry many artists are relocating down this way because they cannot get the same attention where they are. Swears have a great local reputation and I feel like they have ambitions to perform as far and wide as possible. They are clearly happy where they are but how much of the national music media casts their eyes as far as the North? It is a bit of a concern and I think it is something that needs to be challenged and solved.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Piron Aston Music Photography

Swears have been around for a bit now and they know the business pretty well. Their great live sets and solid songs have won them praise and attention but this is a very competitive industry. It may seem like a cliché but I feel you get more personality and energy from bands in the North of England. Look back at the bands from this area that have endured and inspired – such as Oasis and Arctic Monkeys – and there is something about them that lasts in the memory. So many of the new bands from the North are carrying on this mantle and setting themselves aside. Swears instantly seem to jump from the speakers and their music remains in the mind. I am not sure whether there is a direct connection between location and music but I think there is something in it. If Swears were based in London, I feel their music might sound a bit generic or they would change what they do. Where they are now, they have a bit more freedom and are writing in a way that is true to them. I do feel like there is little focus given further north of London and there is so much treasure to be discovered. I think there are more and more bands coming out at the moment so it can be tricky having that unique selling point or distinct flavour. Swears, in terms of sound, are similar to a few bands but it is the combination of qualities and the way they write that gives them a little boost. I do wonder whether the general sound bands are producing has changed through the decades. Look back from the 1960s and the Pop that dominated; the fact Punk came out in the late-1970s and we had Britpop and Alternative by the 1990s. Every decade fostered its own movement and, a lot of the time, there was an emphasis on energy and spirit. I am not suggesting bands have lost that now but there are fewer out there who are producing something quite intense and rousing. Many bands now are sort of mixing genres and there is something lacking. There are some mighty bands around but so many of them come off as quite routing and uninspired. It is a hard balance to get right.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Izak Jackson 

The guys of Swears seem more prepared and, as I said earlier, I would be eager to know which acts inspired them. I do not feel like it gives too much away mentioning that and, for people like me, it is interesting seeing where they came from and who they grew up around. I shall mention their sound when I come to the song review but, in a general sense, there has been something missing from the industry. There was a time when you got a lot of fuzzy bands who produced something quite lo-fi and snarling. Maybe it was more prevalent when Grunge ruled but I have seen it continue. I think the band market has less pull than it did and so many new options are stepping far away from that gritty and gravelled sound. It is a shame because, when done right, it can be electric and hugely memorable. A lot of bands have tried their own version of Grunge and Alternative and it can fall flat. There is something about the connection between the Swears members that makes their music pop and explode. Maybe it is their influences and the music they love but I think they have detected a gap in the market and are primed for success. I would love to see more bands follow their lead. We all have plenty of choice when it comes to sounds and genres but there are not that many bands that are doing what Swears are. Maybe it is a thing of the North but that is another reason why critics and people need to train their eyes that way. One of the reasons there might have been a dip regarding fuzzier sounds is because it is not that commercial. The market has shifted and it has changed a lot. The most popular sounds in the mainstream are sort of Pop-based and you would struggle to name that many bands that are getting as much attention as the best solo artists.

PHOTO CREDIT: Izak Jackson 

In sonic terms, there seems to be this leaning towards Pop but I feel that will start to change in a few years. If you look at how things have changed through the past few decades, I feel we are about to see a break away from the Pop rulers and a bit more eclectic landscape. I am not suggesting hard and hitting bands like Swears will instantly conquer and replace the current order but there is a yearning in the air that is calling for movement. I feel people want to discover music that has depth a sense of heart. There are Pop artists who have soul and can provide something real but there are too many that are quite shallow and commercial. Maybe Swears felt this pining when they started life but I feel they will start to grow and become more popular as there is this drive for evolution. It would be strange to think Swears will just remain where they are and play the local circuit. They are an ambitious band and their music is getting some serious heat. It is the sheer force of their movements and how they suck you into songs that gets to me. So many bands make you work hard and they are not always as appealing as you’d hope. The second you start to play Swears, you are in their world and are moved. That is not an easy thing to pull off so kudos to them. I think it is their sound and chemistry that sets them apart because, as I intimated, they have very similar aspects to other bands out there. The reason they stand above so many other groups is the way they play and how instant their music is. Even though more artists are looking at gnarling sounds and something fuzzy, Swears have this additional magic and level that gets into the brain and stays there for a while.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Andy Lochrie

I think live sets and a reputation on the circuit is a good way of spreading the message. Streaming numbers are important but there is nothing like seeing an artist play and then sharing the good word. Swears have been played on BBC radio and they have gained a lot of praise because of their incredible sets. It is clear Swears are one of the best bands on the Teesside circuit and that is not something to be taking lightly! There are some great bands up there all bustling for attention and looking for fans. I think Swears’ ability and natural strength on the stage is another reason why they get into the mind. I find so many artists are impressive in the studio but they do not translate that well onto the stage. Maybe that is a reason why some live venues are closing. If there are not that many great artists pulling people in then venues can struggle. The Teesside scene is thriving at the moment and that is because there are so many tremendous local acts. Swears’ new single, Subliminal, was recorded at Prospect Studios but it does have that live sound.  I do hope the media shows more love for Swears and they get the chance to have their music played on bigger stations down here. I am not sure whether they have been included on BBC Radio 6 Music before but it seems like they’d pick up a lot of new fans there. This might be territory for them to explore but Swears are clearly on the rise. I will end by looking at their 2019 and what might come next but, when thinking of their new single, the title sort of tells the tale. Subliminal is about the media and how their negativity can infiltrate our minds. It is about their pervasive negativity and sense of propaganda that can skew our thoughts and do damage. It seems like an appropriate and always-timely thing to write about. The way the messages are projected and delivered means every words stands out and you find yourself coming back for more.

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There is something Punk-like and anthemic as Subliminal opens up. There is that meaty riff and gravelled sound but I love the chanted vocals that sort of mix the Punk of the 1970s and 1980s with something modern. It is a great start to the song and you are already invested. There is a sense that the chanting and vocals represents the chatter of the media and its inanity. The hero talks about carrying out wishes and not being able to put up with this. Maybe it is a reaction to the way the press project these views and try to poison the people. The composition is great but I feel like it does crowd the vocal at times. Maybe it is the way the lines are delivered but some lyrics do sort of fade down or they are not as decipherable as they should be. Most are clear but there are occasions when you miss a few of the words and the music gets a bit too heavy. That is not a big problem because, to be fair, look at Punk and Grunge of the past and that was a common problem. One gets the sense the hero is fed up with the way the press is campaigning on their own terms and they are spreading lies. I feel like there is a more general look at the media and the way there is not a lot of truth. This might extend to social media but I get the sense the printed press are under the boot. What I like is the sheer force and commitment of the band. Things never get too loud and aggressive but one cannot say Subliminal is a soft and calm thing! Maybe there is a little nod to the Foo Fighters at times – which is not a bad thing – but Swears very  much do their own thing. They talk about different layers to the dayshift and that sense of fatigue comes back through. A lot of the lyrics are clearly a shot against the media and the way they operate but there are some oblique elements that make me wonder.

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Everyone will have their own visions regarding some lines but you detect a definite anger and need for change. When the chorus swings back in, you are ready to sing along because it has that instant and huge sound. Subliminal is under two-and-a-half minutes and it is impressive to see a band do that. A lot of artists like to take a bit more time but Swears manage to pack so much into that time. Their short and sharp mandate is a rally against the press and the way we are all sort of being brainwashed. One detects personal dissatisfaction and a desire for improvement. The band is very tight throughout and you can tell they have worked very hard on the song. It has that great live sensation so I can imagine it will go down very well with the crowds. You have that catchy chorus – so people will be singing along – but the verses pack a big punch. I do feel there are very few bands who can produce something economical and focused that lingers in the mind, Swears have achieved this and they leave a lot of questions unanswered. I get the aspects regarding subversion and subliminal messages but I get the feeling there are other aspects at work and other concerns. Maybe that is me reaching but one feels like the lyrics are not only attacking the media but looking inwards. Every listener will go in their own direction but I definitely wondered whether the lead had some concerns and personal struggles he was trying to get out in the song. In any case, Subliminal is a song that will last in the memory and make its impression. I will wrap things up in a bit but I hope more people listen to the song and get something from it. Swears have grown between releases and they seem to get bigger with every track. This is promising as they look ahead and think about new material.

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I do wonder whether they have an E.P. in mind as Subliminal could perfectly open it. I mentioned how bands like IDLES and Foals are making an impact because of what they are talking about and you can add Swears to that list. I maintain there is something special about bands in the North and the way they perform. Maybe it is something to do with their local environment and sounds around them or it might just be a natural thing. In any case, this song shows we all need to spend a bit more time investigating folk like Swears. I love how each band member gets a chance to shine on the song. The percussion is able to strut and stand out whereas you get a moment when the grumbling and groaning bass takes the lead. It is not just about the frontman and making sure his voice is the dominant force. The song is about connection and chemistry and, essentially, being different. It is refreshing hearing a band that allows the music to shine and gives each musician a moment in the sun. The lyrics will remain long after the song has ended and I think their importance will not diminish anytime soon – which is sort of tragic. I have talked for long enough – so I shall move on – but congratulations to Swears who have created an instant and incredible song that proves they are one of the most exciting new bands coming through in the North of England. I look forward to seeing where they head next and whether subsequent material follows the same path as Subliminal. A raw and incredible song from a band that are in a league of their own. Do yourself a favour and follow this fantastic Middlesbrough band.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Izak Jackson

I have talked about a lot about general aspects around Swears and how they fit into the market. I think they will have a very successful 2019 and continue to pick up plaudits. They will have gigs in the Teesside area and check out their social media feeds for all the latest news. I wonder whether they will play in the southern counties and if they have plans to perform in London. I would like to see them play but I feel like there is a whole world for them down here. I maintain they need to remain where they are and should not feel the need to relocate. Their reputation is building and that will only continue as they put out more music. If they can add a bit more to their social media pages and maybe put up a few live videos onto their accounts then that might give people an impression of who they are as a band. Swears have featured on Amazon Prime so there is footage out there of them playing. I wonder whether they might produce an E.P. this year and launch that into the world. I am excited to see where they can go and what they can achieve. There are more bands coming along but I think solo acts still take most of the acclaim. Maybe it will take a bit longer for the balance to shift but I feel more and more bands are making their voices heard.

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What strikes me is how few can project that fuzzy and intense sound and make it stick. There are a lot of people trying it and I genuinely feel that there is another Grunge-like movement in the offing. Swears are definitely one of the more assured and talented bands around. They have this exceptional bond and energy. This all comes through in their music but they are so much more than force and aimless riffs. There are bands that trade in the hollow but Swears have a lot of depth and they are joining bands like Foals and IDLES regarding subject matter and its importance. There is an appetite for truth in music and I feel, as the political situation in this country shows no signs of shifting, it means Swears can keep on growing and getting more acclaim. I will leave things there but I would recommend people do investigation regarding Swears and start from the beginning. If you can see them live then make sure you do but it cannot be too long until the guys are playing around the country. There is a hunger to see them in the flesh and I hope that is realised. I shall leave things here and it has been great listening to Subliminal. I hope I have done the band justice but, as I mentioned, there are a lot of aspects that are similar to other bands I have encountered – including where they are based and the fact they are an all-male band playing on the heavier side. That said, there is plenty to separate Swears from everyone else and that all can be found in the music. Get your ears around their latest gem and discover why they are picking up so many great reviews. I know Swears are local and growing at the moment but it will not be long until...

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Piron Aston Music Photography

THEIR name is better known.

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Follow Swears

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TRACK REVIEW: Orchards - Age of You

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Orchards

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jessie Morgan  

Age of You

 

9.5/10

 

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The track, Age of You, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdQkaTwqYFs

ORIGIN:

Brighton, U.K.

GENRE:

Pop

RELEASE DATE:

29th November, 2019

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THIS year will see me do things a bit differently...

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jessie Morgan  

as I am getting a lot of requests from solo artists who are a bit under the radar. It is okay because, naturally, people will contact you and ask if you can feature them. The reason I am making changes is because I am getting a lot of solo artists coming through and it can be a bit samey. In that respect, I am going for bigger names; those that are a bit more recognisable and have more of a standing. It has come to a point where I am getting lots of requests and they are not really interesting me and providing any sense of ambition. My mind is turning to bands more and, whilst I will apply the same rules to them very soon, I am keen to include more in my blog. Sam Rushton, Dan Fane; Will Lee-Lewis and Lucy Evers form Orchards and they are a crew that spike my interest. My rules regarding status and follower numbers will include everyone very soon but I think it is interesting to see a group like Orchards grow and see what they have become. It is early days for them at the moment but there is a passion there. Before I come to look at their current single, I want to talk about a few subjects. I will look at Brighton and the scene that inspires originality in artists; why bands and female-led bands are growing; simplicity and originality regarding songs and videos; why bands are starting to take more of a stand and have more promise to them; touring and how getting that gig experience can make a big impact. I miss Brighton a lot and do not get a chance to visit much. I haven’t been since Christmas Eve and always love heading down there. I love the people and vibe down there and always gravitate towards the vibe. It is a very colourful and friendly part of the world and you always get relaxed and feel better when around the people.

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The reason I mention Brighton is because the band are based down there and it is a great spot for talent. Whilst one or two of Brighton’s big venues have closed the past few years, it is an area that is thriving and worth a closer look. The atmosphere and feel of the place inspires something different and fresh. The people are a lot different to, say, London and you are put in a good mood when walking the streets. That may not seem important when it comes to music but I think there is something in the air that compels musicians. Of course, if you are more relaxed and happier then that will translate into great sounds but I think there is something else at play. The fact artists are more relaxed and it is a less busy and packed place means they are free to wander and not so stressed. Brighton has a lot of great shops and bars; a great pier and beach and there is a tonne of stuff that compels the imagination. Other areas of the U.K. are great but there is nowhere quite like Brighton. Maybe it does not have the same opportunities and stature as London and Manchester but Brighton’s music is brilliant. There are a lot of female-fronted bands coming from here and I will talk about that later. It might be a stretch to suggest the sound of Brighton is vastly different to that of London but one gets a different tone. I am bit late to the party regarding Orchard’s new single, Age of You, because I got the request last year but it was hard working out timing and getting everything together. I am not reviewing any song in the past soon – singles released a few weeks or months ago, say – but I will make an exception here. The band will be planning new material so, in a way, Age of You is still quite fresh and worth exploring.

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Orchards had a busy 2018 and achieved quite a lot. I will end by looking at their touring schedule and the fact they are pretty busy this year. I wanted to address female-led bands because they seem to be on the rise. There have always been female-fronted bands and some of the greatest from the 1990s, - including Skunk Anansie and Republica – have inspired a lot of groups today. I think there was a period when there was a lot of male bands and they tended to dominate. It might be the case they are the ones still getting booked for festival headline slots but the new wave of female-fronted bands should redress that. One of my biggest annoyances is the fact festivals still go with the all-male band and the same predictable sort. It can be annoying and does not reflect the changes in modern music. By that, I mean there is more depth and variety to be found. Female bands are more evident and mixed-gender bands provide a nice tonal shift. I am not slagging off all male bands but I think they can be quite limited and there is something lacking regarding sound and vocals. I do prefer a female voice and, when you have one leading a band, it can provide greater thrills and emotion. I feel all-male bands do not have the same depth and chemistry and bands with a female member. That might sound general and flawed but I think female-fronted bands are really exciting. Brighton has quite a few female-led bands (including Yonaka) and I love to promote them. Maybe festivals will get their act together and realise, when it comes to bands, there is much more pleasure and colour to be discovered in female-led bands. I am not sure why there are a lot of female-led bands coming through but I think it is something to do with the lack of variation and surprise you get from a lot of male bands. You have different voices in the group and, with a female voice at the front, it can add something you would not get from a male band.

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It is interesting seeing how the band market is changing but, in many ways, it still has to compete against the solo hegemony. It has been the case, for many years, solo artists are ruling and they seem to take more of the pie. I wonder whether bands will get the same attention as them very soon or whether this pattern and landscape will remain for years to come. I think, if bands are to take more of a stand, then we need to look at moving away from the all-male variety. It might sound harsh to write them all of but I think they can be quite limited in terms of sound. When it comes to the male bands I am approached by, they tend to be Alternative or Rock bands. You might get the odd different one here and there but they tend to be a bit heavier. That is okay but you do tend to get a bit bored after a while. Unless you are IDLES are a band like that, you are not likely to make a big an impact as a band that has a bit more range and endeavour at their disposal. It is the Pop element that Orchards add that I love. I also love how bands like Yonaka can add something fiery and intense but, because it is delivered by a female voice, it provides something very different to what is out there. Not only does one get a more interesting vocal performance but you have a new lyrical perspective. Lucy Evers leads the boys but she does not dominate and steal too much of the focus. Instead, she puts her incredible voice at the front but you can hear the connection and intuition. I like how Orchards have this close bond and there is this original sound. I do hope festivals will book more female-led bands and, in years to come, they will get to headline. The same can be said for female bands too: a more interesting and fresh alternative to the sort of male bands that are headlining festivals right now.

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Orchards have already released their E.P., Losers/Lovers, and it gained some big reviews. Age of You is about making promises and not quite being able to fulfil them. Lucy Evers has said it is a therapeutic song but quite hard in an emotional sense. The track is about having chances to be the best version of you but knowing there is something missing. There are still too many tracks about love and heartbreak and I think many artists are lacking when it comes to ambition. Think about the average human and how complex they are. They have so many sides to them and I do wonder why so many get caught up with relationships and focusing on them. We all go through so many different situations and very few of them are actually documented in music. I do love music that talks about matters of the heart but how inspiring is that for the average person? If you have not been in love or going through that sort of thing that is more academic than anything. I think music is most potent when it reaches the largest amount of people and has that familiarity to it. If you are not in a relationship then it can be hard to get behind songs that talk about splits and strains. I do think a track that talks about not being at your best is more common and we can all relate to that. We have all been in the position when we try and give everything to someone/life and still feel like we are lacking. Rather than provide a rather tense song that is quite depressing, the Brighton band do offer some hope and it will teach you some lessons. It is quite emotional and hard-hitting in places but I like its overall sound and we can all take something away. How many artists are writing songs that connect with everyone and go beyond the average and ordinary? Not only can a simple yet effective song resonate and endure but the same can be said for videos.

 IMAGE CREDIT: Joe Keys

Orchards had Stewart Gardiner direct the video for Age of You and they collaborated with their fans. The band wanted to keep things quite simple in terms of the lightning and set and not have something too cluttered. They reached out to their Instagram followers and, on certain lines, photos from them filled the blanks. Rather than the director compose the band in a scenario, they used these snaps to sort of respond to questions posed in the song. It is a nice way of involving the fans and quite a fresh twist. I think too many music videos try and tell a story and they do not feel personal or seem a little ambitious. It can be hard getting the video right and making it hit but there are ways to make it stand out. Given the rise of social media, I like the fact Orchards incorporated Instagram but the video itself has a lot of great elements and moments. It is a stunning video but a fairly simple one. I like music and videos that can make an impression based on something quite easy. Orchards manage to pack a punch with their song but do not need to use complex language and expressions. The song is cleverly written and sharp and it digs deep. One can feel it is very personal but everyone can relate to it. The video could have gone in the wrong direction and been rather wasted but the band and director have crafted something superb. You look at the video and remember the sights and scenes. I do wonder whether artists are taking advantage when it comes to videos and trying to craft something unique. It is costly to make a video but that does not mean you have to skimp on memorability. Orchards and Gardiner have produced something fantastic and charming. It almost juxtaposes some of the more serious aspects of the song itself and helps heighten the words. I can tell the band enjoyed the video and it perfectly visualises their track.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Chase

I intimated bands will struggle to match solo artists and not get the same credit. Whilst I think there is too much focus on solo artists and that seems to be what is popular right now, I feel bands can make a break. There are some great solo artists in the market right now and the work they are creating is stunning. Whilst one can relate to solo artists and love their music, I do think bands provide something more emphatic and fulsome. When seeing a band live, there is something different compared to seeing a solo act. Bands used to rule and have the biggest say but things started to chance at the beginning of the last decade. Maybe it was a natural evolution but I think bands now are struggling to get mainstream attention. I think one of the reasons why bands have struggled is the fact they have been sticking with generic themes and sounds. Solo artists can provide more depth and flexibility and groups have not been able to match them. I am seeing the older order die out and those groups that are all heavy riffs, generic songs and the same old feel. In their place is a more ambitious and original line-up that has that knowledge of what the market wants. There are predictable bands out there still but there are many more that have something real to say. Whether it is the emotional struggles they face or the state of the world right now, it is a lot more than simple riffs and the same sound. Genres are being fused together and, with more female-fronted bands around, there is ample choice for festivals and fans alike. Bands are becoming more varied and I like the options out there. One can find an Electro-Pop group and there are some great Pop-Punk options. Depending on what you are into, you are likely to find a band that can fit the bill. I do think this choice has been missing and it is good to see a host of bright bands who can inspire the next generation.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Smethers

Maybe bands will not completely bring us back to the 1980s and 1990s but there is nothing to suggest we will see less of an imbalance. I think the best live performance is from a band and there is something thrilling watch a group interact on stage. Solo artists are great but it can be quite hard to project the same sense of urgency, energy and colour you get from a band. Orchards are a group that showcase what is out there and how the market is changing. They have Pop and Rock elements working away but their lyrics are as personal and arresting as any solo artist. It is the chemistry in the group and the way each member adds to the pot that gets to me. You get that sense of togetherness and I feel Orchards are the match of any solo act out there. I do feel like male bands have struggled to adapt and too many are not saying anything new. That can lead people to solo artists; the band market starts to shrink and it can be sad to see. I feel this new breed are a lot more conscious of what the public wants and why solo artists are taking a big slice of the pie. Perhaps it will take a few years before we start to see real change but I can see bands taking a stand and getting more focus. Orchards are a brilliant group that have a long future and they seem rock-solid. I like the way they do things and the sounds they produce. The more bands that come through, the harder it can be to be distinct and stand aside. One of the dangers of bands swelling is the fact you get soundalikes and there is repetition. That is natural but there are plenty of bands who are on their own page and have their own scent. Let me come to the song, Age of You, and express why it is so good.

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Age of You opens really well and springs right into life. It skips and has a crisp sound that instantly gets you invested but does not sound like anyone else. It is quite a catchy opening that has plenty of energy but there is depth to be found too. Although a few words do get lost – either buried by the composition or delivered quite fast – the lyrics talk about the heroine talking to herself and asking some big questions. It appears she has being trying her best and being the best version of who she can be but that has not been enough. She has thrown fireworks and maybe struggled a bit in relationships. Rather than beat herself up and blame others, this is this sense she has room to grow and is aware of problems that have arisen. Even though the odd lyrics does get lost and fades a bit, the heroine’s voice strikes out and she is looking back at opportunities lost. She talks about relationships past and wonders whether the right decision was made. Would things have been different if the bond was still intact and would it have made her happier? It is always hard to look back and wonder whether you have made the right call; if you did what was necessary or was a little rash. It seems like the decisions made were right and seemed natural but there are questions being asked. I like the fact the song has this quite energised and sprite tone but it is never too heavy. One would feel an emotional and personal song would be quite gloomy but the band ensure things are kept light and appealing. A lot of choices are being investigated and whether the decisions made are right. I do wonder how our lives would be different if we had stayed in relationships or taken a different path. Our heroine is wondering whether things would be better if she had done things different and maybe stayed with someone.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Helen Messenger

I think these are natural doubts and she cannot be too hard on herself. We all go through times when we look back and question our minds. There is something quite interesting about the vocal. In terms of sound, it is like nobody else but there are some familiar strands around the edges. It is a powerful and rousing delivery and one that brings the words to life. I like how the band connects and the interplay. The music is wonderful and often stands aside and strikes. There is a lot being said in the composition and it beautifully blends with the vocals. The lyrics talk about being the best version of you and thinking about yourself. I wonder whether the heroine was looking at herself and wondering whether she could have made things better or is taking a new leaf in 2019. She has been through some hard times and made mistakes but I think she is looking forward rather than back. Maybe there have been some hard decisions made but she is in a place now where she can evaluate and move forward. I’d like to think she’s happy now and excited about the next moves. I know Orchards, on Age of You, want to write about something missing and someone not being there. Maybe it is based on some single experience or relationship or it might be about a general feeling something is missing. You can look back and decide what is missing and moments lost but looking ahead and making a better version of you is a more positive thing. I feel the band are looking to embrace this sense of fulfilment and making improvements. Our lead has been through some bad moments and might regret some decisions but she is keen to move forward and build as a person. The lyrics are quite tough and revealing but there is a lot of positivity people can take away. We have all been in that mindset where we think we have missed out or are a bit incomplete. Orchards project this song that has a sense of optimism and cheer but that does not mean the song is slight and ineffective. The deliver and lyrics are powerful and memorable and the combination of these two elements is extraordinary. A terrific and impactful song from a promising young band that are growing stronger and stronger. Age of You is a cracking song that we can all relate to and take something away from.

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Orchards embark on their first headline tour I March and April and tickets are available. Ensure you see them live because they are fantastic and a brilliant proposition. The band has a great 2018 and I think one of the reasons they are so strong is because they have toured a lot. There are some great venues down in Brighton and local bars to cut your teeth. The great thing about Brighton is that attracts a good mix of people and the artists are more eclectic. Maybe it is to do with the sea air and the people but the music seems more organic and nuanced. I like how Brighton artists do things and it is an area we all need to look at more closely. Orchards performed at festivals last year and got some great gig experience. I think this has translated into their music and has opened them up creatively. Not only do they sound sharp on record but their songwriting has broadened. Losers/Lovers has a great sense of range and I think Orchards have become more ambitious the more they have toured. They have played to a lot of people and had a chance to experiment with music. They have seen a lot of other acts play alongside them and all of this has been brought into the studio. Their play is excellent and you can hear the tightness and confidence. I feel a band with less gig experience might not sound as strong in the studio. They might be too reliant on their influences and not quite as electric as other acts. Those who have been on the road and had the chance to test their songs and work on them in front of the people have that unique perspective. They can get that instant reaction and people can respond. If they like a song then the band does not need to change much but, if a track does not get the big reception hoped, they can chop and change a bit before bringing it to a producer. Orchards have been out to the people and, through various gigs, seen that response. Check out their social media pages because they have gigs coming in March and April and make sure you go see them. I will leave things now but I am glad I have got the chance to review Orchards and bring them to new people. 2018 was a big one for them but 2019 is also going to be huge. Not only does the band have a headline tour but they will be thinking about new material and their next step. Given the strength of Age of You (and Losers/Lovers), I cannot wait to see...

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jessie Morgan

WHERE they heads next.

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Follow Orchards

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TRACK REVIEW: Jamie Hutchings - December Park

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Jamie Hutchings

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December Park

 

9.4/10

 

 

The track, December Park, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9jqxkg7gUk

ORIGIN:

Sydney, Australia

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The album, Bedsit, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/3o8NU61qgyOOEzV3UVXLid?si=LUXV2IxJRGqXYS16AyYj_A

GENRES:

Singer-Songwriter/Indie

RELEASE DATE:

2nd March, 2018

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I am in need of a distraction at the moment...

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as my email account has been hacked and, rather annoyingly, there are a lot of emails and contacts on there that I cannot retrieve. That may be by the by but, as usual, I need some sort of calm and settle from music. It is a bit of a chilly time out there so I am looking for something to settle the blood. I will talk about Jamie HutchingsDecember Park in a bit but, before then, I wanted to address a few things. Although his album, Bedsit, has been out for a little while and there has not been a new single since the early part of last year, Hutchings has been working hard in Australia and trying to get some traction for the record in the U.K. and Europe. I will discuss that later too but, for now, wanted to look at unusual and rare settings for writing music; Australian artists and a part of the world I do not get to investigate that often; record that, whilst in a tone I am not a huge fan of, seem to be very personal and might have their own escapist quality. I also want to address artists who mature and move through different stages/ranks to get that experience; a bit on breaking from somewhere like Australia to the U.K. and a little on when Jamie Hutchings might head. Most records tend to be written somewhere quite conventional and conducive to calm. There are albums that are penned in the studio or somewhere a bit unusual but most artists favour something a bit more settled and unusual. They might write at home or go on holiday somewhere to get the creative juices flowing. I often wonder whether there is a link between location – when it comes to writing – and how a record sounds. It is interesting to see why certain artists choose the locations they do and how that translates in the final product. For Hutchings, he went to the Outback. That might sound quite bleak but it seems like it has led to something very personal and revelatory.

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I have seen artists retreat from the busy city and go somewhere quite sparse and nomadic. Think about Bon Iver and when he recorded For Emma, Forever Ago. He was in a woodland cabin and sort of shut everything away; reflecting on personal heartache and coming to terms with change. In many cases, Hutchings has replicated that process and he has taken a similar approach. I wonder whether the woods or Outback is more detached and which creates the best sound. I do wonder whether more artists should take an approach like this and get away from all the technology. I think Hutchings needed to shut away any noise and really get down to the nub of things. I think it can be a bit extreme going away and being that distant but it can focus the mind and lead to some fantastic songwriting. I will move to another point very soon but it is fascinating to me. I think there is this wisdom that suggests you need to record at home or a studio and that is the way to do things. In a lot of instances, finding your own version of unique and peaceful can add something to the music. There was the emotional reason behind Hutchings going to the Outback and choosing to record like that and it seems to have brought the best from him. I am curious whether he got much time to walk around outside and find inspiration there. He was in this sort of converted shed/barn and, with a sixteen-track recorder and six microphones, recorded Bedsit with a few musical friends. It is amazing to think it came together like that and such a location led to this brilliant music. I think there is a natural correlation between your setting and sound but I hope Hutchings finds some peace and is in a finer mood on the next record. The Outback is a great area but one would not want to record there all the time you’d think.

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I mention Australia and the Outback and it has been a while since I have been to that part of the world. A lot of my reviews and interviews look at musicians from the U.K. and U.S. and it is good to be in Australia. I love the music from there and how artists work. Historically, Australia has produced some of the finest artists ever and I think they should not be overlooked. Given the distance between Australia and nations like America and Britain, I do think the artists over there get ignored and it can be hard for them to get focus. That is a shame because there are some fantastic artists working in Australia. I think the standard of living and the varied landscapes have a lot to do with the music variation and quality. One often thinks of Australia and relates to this rather calm and measured demeanour. It is true the Australians, for the most part, are pretty chilled but that would suggest the music is all like that. In fact, music coming from Australia is as wild, eclectic and passionate as any in the world. With incredible cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart producing their own scenes and some fantastic locations, I feel Australia is a nation that many should look towards. Think of all the past treasures that have come from the nation: everyone from Nick Cave to Sia and it is clear there is a lot of brilliance to be found. I think it is harder for artists to get worldwide acclaim in the country and, when it comes to touring, it often involves a hefty flight. There are fewer finer countries to tour in than Australia but, if you want to go to different nations, it can be a hard and tiring process. I think one of the reasons I love Australian music so much is the fact it tends to stray from what we consider to be normal and mainstream here. There is a mainstream there but a lot more artists moving to their own beat and stepping away from the conventional.

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I will address another point soon but I think Jamie Hutchings perfectly displays what it is about Australian artists I love. He has recorded in this very grand yet underpopulated part of the country and did that because he wanted to get the best from the music; cut off from the distractions of a city and go somewhere he felt comfortable in. I do like the fact that he is a respected musician in Australia and I hope his music gets to make a big impact over here. There are great reviews out for Bedsit so I am confident it will not be long until the man is touring here and has that demand. It will be a long trek but we do not often get to see Australian musicians tour and I think that is a shame. If one dips deeper into the nation and discovers the music out there then they will find one of the most interesting and innovative scenes around. I mentioned different cities and it is true there is a vast contrast when you move from state to state. I guess there is here in the U.K. but Australia, to me, seems to be even more exciting and varied. Great Australian newcomers like Camp Cope, Jade Imagine; Moaning Lisa and Orion are starting to turn heads and show what they are made of. It is hard for people in the U.K. and U.S. to get a good impression of the nation unless radio stations play artists from Australia. I will look away from Australia but I would recommend people do some research and dig deep. Make sure you listen to Jamie Hutchings because he is one of the finest and most respected artists from the nation. I am excited he has an album out right now and there is that interesting recording process. Although a lot of the themes addressed will resonate, I think Bedsit is this personal and very precious collection of songs that, in many ways, sounds like a man unburdened and opening his soul.

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I have rallied against artists who are quite downbeat and often wonder where all the fun has gone. I am not saying we all need to abandon the rather unhappy or personal songs but the music industry seems to lack a sense of excitement and optimism right now. I am not sure why that is but one assumes the personal is easier to explain and explore and it is something people can relate to. I agree with that but do wonder how many realise music should be escapist and we need to find some pleasure and optimism among it all. That is another issue because Hutchings could not have written a record like Bedsit and added too much fizz. I guess there are artists, new and older, who can give you something rousing but Hutchings has produced a record that is stirring and frank. He has opened up his heart and mind and brought the listener in. The title of his album seems to be very apt. Hutchings found himself living in this single-roomed house and it was a bit of a change for him. I am not sure whether he was living with someone else before then and had to move but it seems like there was transition and that change. One can get a sense of the narrow and insular on the album and maybe the images of living in a bedsit are a world away from the scenes of the Outback. In many ways, there is that related sense of loneliness and a chance, in different ways, to reflect and be with yourself. Bedsit is a very personal record as you’d expect and you get that live sound to it. One can imagine this rural space with very few luxuries where the musicians were all together and recording quite fast. I think there is this assumption music is at its finest when there is time to dwell and you have technology at your feet. Some of the best records ever have involved very little comfort and this rather natural and naked sound.

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That is not to suggest Bedsit lacks richness and depth. In fact, the album has humour and great stories; the musicianship is great and the production balances between the live flavour and something a little bigger. I prefer my music a little bolder and optimistic but I think this is something Jamie Hutchings had to get out and explore. If a songwriter is going through a tough time and their world is changing, it is their duty to reflect that and put it out in music. I feel many will be able to relate to what he has gone through and how life has shifted. I do find myself wondering whether Hutchings is looking at lands altering and modern life smashing down what stood before; if it is about love and losing someone close; a feeling of being displaced and trying to come to terms with that – maybe a combination of all of them. Many who know the geographical sounds of Australia attest to the fact Bedsit feels very Sydney in its tones. Hutchings is from there so it is understandable he would have that sort of feel. I am interested whether there is a distinct smell and tone to Sydney and whether that differs greatly to Melbourne. Others have noted references to dreams and nature on Bedsit. We have an album that talks about the heart and home but it also spreads its wings and says a lot. Everyone will be able to take something from the album and feel represented. I like the fact the record is quite stark and bleak in places because it is quite brave being that naked. Many artists sort of skirt around the darker topics and going too deep but Hutchings knew he had to go that way. There is plenty of light to be found in the cracks and the variation of Bedsit is wonderful.

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Jamie Hutchings might be familiar to those who know the band Bluebottle Kiss. They were quite a big name in the 1990s but maybe you need to be more familiar with the work coming from Australia during that time. The band was underground but they were much-loved and produced some fantastic material over time. Hutchings is one of those musicians who is not confined in terms of bands and sounds and he has performed as part of Infinity Broke. They are a percussion-heavy unit and working alongside songwriter Peter Fenton as part of The Tall Grass. I am not familiar with the ins and outs of those acts but it is impressive to see the fact Hutchings can step into different moulds and has that variation. It is the fact Hutchings is a seasoned live performer and has worked with different bands that leads to such great music. He has that knowledge and can bring the confidence to his latest album. Many artists take a while to cut their teeth and that inexperience can show in the studio. I think it is a shame Hutchings does not get a chance to perform more in the U.K. and U.S. but he has done before. There is a hope that, once Bedsit does good business here, that sort of possibility will be realised. I am new to Jamie Hutchings so I am sort of piecing everything together and getting to grips. I have listened to his entire latest album but I am also looking back at what came before. It is a great collection of work and I think more people need to check Hutchings out. I do think that experience he has had with different bands has worked in his favour and given him the confidence to be bolder as a songwriter. When it comes to the live performance, one can see this very natural and accomplished musician and you’ll get a very varied and interesting set. Let’s hope he gets a chance to bring it to the U.K. soon.

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The aim, I guess, is to get Hutchings to other parts of the world because, as I have explained, it is hard for Australian artists to really shine and get focus further afield. I hold hope the media will change its ways and pay more mind to musicians in Australia but I guess it can be hard. The rigours of touring here and finding the money is always a challenge and something that needs to be considered. I do hope Hutchings gets over here because we need more internationality in music. Australia is producing some brilliant artists and I think they could find some great venues and support in Britain and America. It is hard to break any nation but Hutchings has a solid reputation. He is already loved in Australia but there are some who do not know him over here. Bedsit is picking up reviews but I guess it is tough to truly get the music to the people unless there are tour dates. I do hope more stations and people here play the music and there is great awareness. We need to start looking beyond obvious cities and nations because, when we truly open the eyes, we discover incredible and unexpected treats. I shall come to a song from Bedsit I wanted to review because, when you listen too, you’ll find that it is a fascinating and memorable moment. It is time to move on because a lot has been said about Jamie Hutchings and his latest album. I have explored a few sides to it and what makes it stand out but I suggest people either stream it or purchase it and listen to it alone. It is one of those albums you can get lost in. I am picking up new aspects from different songs and it is a wonderful collection. I wanted to focus on December Park because it has a video alongside and it is one of the finest tracks Hutchings has produced. It seems to embody everything about Bedsit and it definitely stays in the mind.

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The opening of December Park is very natural and intimate. We hear the record start and you get sounds from the studio space opening things up. It is quite subtle but, rather than this brash and huge production, one gets to discover little noises and elements that you’d normally not experience. The guitar coda that leads from that is intensely beautiful and incredibly immersive. You are lost in this heavenly and intimate sound that gets into the mind and swims. I am not sure who Hutchings sources as inspiration but you can hear some greats of the guitar in his performance. It is a sensational opening and, before too long, you are engrossed in the track. I was already wondering what it was about and whether December Park was based on a real place or a state of mind. Maybe there is a combination of both because we see Hutchings walking through dark streets and getting tangled up. I guess there is that sense of mental dislocation and isolation; a need to find some safe space and comfort. The vocals match the music in terms of the production and sound. It has this quite bare tone but there is ample beauty and fullness to be discovered. Hutchings’ voice is not too high in the mix and it fuses nicely with the guitar. The guitar gets firmer and larger as the hero asks about someone and where they are now. A storm is coming and it seems like there is a bit of mystery. It is clear there is another party involved in the song but it is quite hard deciphering the true story. I do like the fact there is mystery and every listener can come up with their own interpretation. There are some wonderful lines expressed that makes you curious who this other party is. Maybe they are a former love but it seems like memories are flooding through.

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Hutchings does not know whether the other is alive at all and what they are up to. He even projects this image of a badger in a ticket booth – an example of his original imagination – and you picture all these different elements and visions. Rather than portray rather ordinary and predictable words, Hutchings fuses in the unusual and unexpected. Many songwriters could learn from him when it comes to their own material. As the hero walks through the park, he ponders how easy it would be for him to be an apparition and spirit. Maybe the other person in the song was a former lover but they are somewhere else right now. It is not clear whether there has been this natural split but it seems like where Hutchings is now holds all sorts of bad images and memories. The way Hutchings reveals the words and opens his heart is spellbinding. I cannot compare his voice to anyone else and it has this very potent quality. The composition is not too heavy but there is this energy and sense of gravitas that adds to the vocal. I love the song and everyone will have their own interpretation. One of the best things about December Park is the imagery and how powerful the words are. I love the detail in the track and the unusual verses; the way the words entwine and how they seem to project this dreamy perspective. It is very personal and meaningful but everyone can find something that relates to them and their experiences. This other person has disappeared and there are questions around that. As the guitar campaigns and continues to strike, the hero lets his voice wander and wonder.

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The hero/heroine being spoken of is coming back weary and lost. Maybe Hutchings is talking about himself and his sense of isolation but one feels there is a relationship or friend being ascribed. Little elements of Crowded House do come in here and there and I like the fact December Park has a mix of the relatable and original. It is a wonderful track that will get you thinking and perfectly documents what Bedsit is all about. Even though it is nearly four minutes in length, you will come back to the song and try to understand it. I have my own views and conclusions but others might go in another direction. I do love the vocal but think the guitar work is exceptional too. One gets this rather bare-boned sound but it works perfectly on this song. If anyone wants to discover a songwriter who can pour their heart out but does so in an imaginative and evocative manner then they need to listen to a song like December Park. I will follow Jamie Hutchings and his music because I think he is a rare talent and someone who can go a long way. He already has gone a long way but many people might not know him over here. I think that can all change when it comes to Bedsit and getting more attention in the U.K. and Europe. It is understandable why Hutchings is a celebrated name in Australia and has that big fanbase. There are very few who have that balance and mixture of intimate and personal alongside the imaginative and open. I think more songwriters should follow this course because, we can hear, the results are incredible.

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Jamie Hutchings is touring around New South Wales, Australia from March and it will be good to see how the people respond. He is touring alongside Darren Cross – two of the most respected names in Australian music – and there are some great dates. Most of us will not get a chance to see them there but let’s hope Hutchings is afforded the chance to head this way later in the year. I love what is explored through Bedsit and it is one of those albums that will inspire so many others. It is a stark and bare album but one that has plenty of life and colour. Many might be offput by the fact it is very personal but I think everyone can get something from it. Make sure you spend some time with the album because, when you close the rest of the world away and focus, it is a wonderful thing. I am glad I have discovered Jamie Hutchings and will follow to see where he goes next. He has enjoyed a long and fruitful career and it is entering a new phase. I do wonder whether Bedsit represents a more single and lonely time for him. It appears things have changed and I do like the way he is handling it. Rather than get angry and hide away, he has released this record that brings listeners into his world and explains what he is going through. There are many beautiful moments on the album but I love December Park because it seems to incorporate all the aspects and contours that makes Bedsit shine. Let us end things here and I would implore, going forward, everyone to have a listen and discover a great artist. If it does well in the U.K. and Europe then there might be that chance for touring and further exposure. I hope that comes to pass because, after only one listen, Bedsit is an album that...

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HAS won me over.

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Follow Jamie Hutchings

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TRACK REVIEW: The NonStick Pans - Man up, Man!

TRACK REVIEW:

 

The NonStick Pans

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Man up, Man!

 

9.3/10

 

The track, Man up, Man!, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMtYPLKTSSo

ORIGIN:

Blackpool, U.K.

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The album, Nineteen Sixty Four, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/0YGu3vwxGbcKqsxbJvfNfV?si=04U4DhGzRUqGmhIGFCmgOA

GENRES:

Alternative Rock/Power-Pop

RELEASE DATE:

11th December, 2018

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THERE is a lot to recommend...

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when it comes to The NonStick Pans but, perhaps, lettering is not one of them. That sounds odd but I think it is for artistic affect. The ‘NonStick’ combined as one word (without a hyphen); the title of the new track being spelled ‘up’ instead of ‘Up’ and the album being ‘Nineteen Sixty Four’ - without any hyphens. A lot of artists do this with their song titles and names. Billie Eilish is renowned for putting her song titles in lower-case lettering but, in a packed industry, it sort of stands out I guess. I was not going to expand on it – it was an observation and I wondered whether artists did do it for an artistic affect. In any case, I will focus on the more positive sides of the music. I want to address artists who put their everything into the mix and create a real labour of love. I will also look at those inspired by the sounds of the 1960s and particular acts. I will bring in sounds in general but also look back at the North and ask whether it is here we are finding the most intriguing songwriters today. I will then go on to look at new artists and getting noticed in the modern scene – completing by thinking where The NonStick Pans might head. I do not review entire albums – only the singles – so cannot give you my impressions regarding the rest of the material on the record. I recommend you listen to the whole of Nineteen Sixty Four because, in many ways, its title sort of gives you an impression of the sound and quality. This was the year when The Beatles produced A Hard Day’s Night and Beatles for Sale and there was a great Pop sound coming through. I think The NonStick Pans’ creator has taken to heart this great Pop core and combined it with something very much of his own. There are few artists who put their all into the music and you can hear that incredible effort.

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I listen to the music on the album and can hear all the effort and love that has gone into it. It seems strange for me to mention quality in music and passion but how many artists do put this much attention and detail into their work? I think there are a lot who really hone and put passion into their music and it can be a really hard slog. That sounds a bit dark but, to get ahead and produce something exceptional, you need to really expend a lot of time and energy. It is clear The NonStick Pans – not sure I will ever get used to that name! – has been away and really worked on the songs to make sure they shine and have that balance of the old and new. I do think there is a lot of pressure when it comes to getting music out there and putting something into the market quickly. I worry that artists have this pressure to put out music fast so they do not get overlooked. As such, I am discovering a lot of music that sounds fairly forgettable and it can be frustrating. Those who take the time out and really work on something fresh do risk losing some traction regarding pace and attention but I think it is the right approach. It will be a while before The NonStick Pans gets to the bigger festivals but that achievement will happen because of the strong material and the fact it sounds so solid. I can imagine him doing some of the Folk festivals or maybe ascending to one of the biggest gigs in years to come. The rich vocal harmonies and tight songs come from someone who has really stood back and ensured the material is as strong as it can be. I love the songs and feel the album, Nineteen Sixty Four, is really solid. One gets something very fresh yet professional when listening to The NonStick Pans’ music. That is rewarding to hear and something a lot of musicians should take to heart.

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I think I am drawn to the music because it has that inspiration from the 1960s. You get the harmonies and sunshine from The Beach Boys and there is the melodic sensibility of The Beatles. I think a lot of artists look back when it comes to inspiration and there is nothing wrong with that. So long as you are contributing something new to the older mix and not replicating the artists then that is okay. What we get with a song like Man up, Man! is a modern-sounding theme and storyline but there are those scents of the 1960s. On other songs, one gets a more evocative and potent semblance of the decade and a real love of the time. I do wonder how many young artists coming through will actually take inspiration from the 1960s and whether it is a relevant time. So many parents now are of an age where they did not listen to music from then – or were born in the 1970s and 1980s – and they do not pass that down to their children. I got exposed to music of the 1960s as my parents were born the decade before and this was the music they grew up around. How many parents now look back at the 1960s as opposed, say, the 1990s?! Maybe there are a few who are that bold but it is good to see an artist as young as The NonStick Pans forsake the 1990s – so many are following and working in that decade right now – and go back to that golden age. It is quite lofty following the sounds of The Beatles and The Beach Boys and one might have certain expectations. In this case, you get the shimmering and California-rich harmonies but you also get the northern sensibilities of The Beatles and that sort of blend – not something we hear often in modern music! I think many fear looking at the 1960s because they assume it is quite limited or it is hard to follow those big acts. I think there is so much gold from that time that, if done right, can lead to some sensational music.

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What one gets with The NonStick Pans is a nod to that time and a way of writing that does add optimism and light into the blend. Too many modern songwriters are quite moribund and hopeless when it comes to joy and I feel we need to bring the thrill back. I am not suggesting Nineteen Sixty Four is all joy – there are moments of anger, fear and darker mood – but one does feel buoyed and elevated by the music. I often look at the 1960s and think it is that happy time when there was genuine optimism around. Maybe things have changed but I look at modern music and do not think there is as much hope as there should be. I think a reason why people avoid the 1960s is because the music of the time was defined by a certain tightness and catchiness. Bands like The Beatles cut their teeth crafting these three-minutes wonders and bringing something instantly memorable to the plate. Maybe The Beatles and The Beach Boys started getting more experimental after a time but think about their earlier work and it is all about these really tight tracks. I listen to The NonStick Pans and songs do not run on and outstay their welcome. It is refreshing hearing a songwriter who can write a great song and does not feel the need to go past the five-minute mark. Because of that, you get these fairly brief songs that pack a lot in. I do love the sense of energy that runs through and a distinct accent. Too many people, when replicating 1960s sounds, tend to Americanise their accent or mimic other artists. You can tell our hero has not done that and keeps his true voice strong. I have been looking away from the North quite a bit and focusing on London to an extent. It is good to have the chance to go back to an area of the world that is producing sensational music.

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The NonStick Pans is based in Blackpool and, aside from Jethro Tull, there have not been that many big artists from that part of the world. Lancashire in general is a productive and epic spot for music and I can see why artists are not willing to leave there. When I am faced with a northern artist, I often wonder whether they will move to London but, in a lot of cases, they stay put. I think this is good because it shows there is an audience there and venues willing to put them up. Down here, we have a lot of venues closing and it is becoming very packed. It is harder to get attention and I do wonder whether we have reached a saturation point in London. I feel there is still too little attention paid to northern artists by the big websites and papers. Think about the great bands like The Beatles and one would think they alone have done enough to ensure the North does not get overlooked. Today, there might be fewer legends here than there was in decades past but I am seeing a great new crop grow. I do like the fact there is more personality and variation in the northern sounds. I feel artists have less stress on their shoulders and write more honestly. Maybe that is because of economic divides or it might be the natural personalities of the people. Whatever the reason, I love music from the North and it definitely deserves more acclaim and focus. Let’s look at somewhere like London and whether it is possible to distinguish artists here. There are countless great acts here but how easy is it to find them and stand them aside? Because of the pace and crowded nature of the city, I do wonder whether a lot of acts are getting buried and overlooked. Compare that to somewhere like Blackpool and it is a lot easier to unroot the very best. Maybe The NonStick Pans will locate to Liverpool or Manchester in the future because I think there are more venues and labels that could catch his eye.

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I think Liverpool especially is a city that is coming back with force and attracting a lot of young musicians. It is the history and heritage of the place that beckons them in and, as a result, leads to fantastic music. Why do we tend to ignore the North and concentrate too heavily on London? Maybe some of us are bolder but it seems to be a media thing. I am discovering so many great northern acts emerging and wonder whether they are being exposed. There is a definite split in terms of voice and narrative when one compares the South and North. I love the more humorous, natural and varied sounds of the North because you get all these extra elements. One gets charm and humour mixed with something deeper and more serious. It is hard to define but I think northern artists approach music differently and put more of themselves into the songs. Listen to The NonStick Pans’ love of 1960s music and that fuses brilliantly with his natural surroundings. One gets a blend of the modern and of-the-moment with that dreamy and wistful nod to the 1960s. There is also a great mixture of Britpop-era sounds that, perhaps, is a time he dimly recalls. Many artists are inspired by the 1990s but I wonder whether they find it hard to match the sense of energy and hope that came from Britpop. Instead, many are looking at Grunge and the American Alternative scene from that time. Maybe it is not exclusively a northern thing but I love that mixture of decades and what comes out in an album such as Nineteen Sixty Four. Take a listen to the whole album and one gets so many great stories and combinations. I wanted to feature a few other songs in this review but I feel I will only give them a slight nod. I have picked Man up, Man! because it is especially strong and a song that has received a lot of attention. I shall come to that in a bit.

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It is hard to stand out nowadays and I do wonder what life is like for a new artist. A lot of the time, there is so much to consider and quite a task ahead! Think about all the social media factors and the fact you need all these different accounts. By the time you have them going, you need to promote yourself and, with each new track, there is this cycle and pressure. One needs to keep the focus strong but also ensure other factors are considered. By that, there needs to be regular updates on social media and one will always be pressured to gig. Most artists love to perform but, alongside gigging, you need to look ahead to yet more material and ensuring you are ahead of the competition. It is hard for every artist but I think those coming through right now have it hardest. That might sound scary for The NonStick Pans but think about all the work that must have gone into an album like Nineteen Sixty Four. The songs need to be memorable and fresh and the quality has to be there through every stage. When the album is done, it needs to be promoted and the music needs to get the attention of the public and radio stations. The NonStick Pans also needs to push the music on social media and get as much press as possible. It is exhausting promoting the work, let alone being successful and ensuring enough people are invested. It is impressive when one comes across someone like The NonStick Pans because you have this very professional and assured artist. So few artists have good social media numbers and pages but his are impressive and always growing. The music is solid and the visual aspect is very pleasing. Given the fact the 1960s-inspired sounds have led to these great images from The NonStick Pans, I wonder whether even more photos could be provided with this sort of aesthetic – I love the shots that are out there that sort of shows the hero as a Scott Walker-type figure.

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I think, if an artist does not rush and takes time, they can get everything right. There is this pressure to get stuff into the ether and so much competition around. Many get stressed because they always have to get their music out there – I think this is quite dangerous. It can be stressful putting together music and succeeding today but I think originality and a unique sound can do a lot of the work. That might sound tricky considering the number of artists around but it is not impossible. The NonStick Pans has this brew of the 1960s and 1990s and joined that to this rather striking and personal tone. As such, one gets a little nod of familiarity but there is this chemistry that nobody else has. I feel so many modern songs are quite dour and lack any sense of happiness. People want to discover music that can make them feel better and is not always so downbeat. Musicians today need to think about why we listen to music and the power it holds. If everything is too ‘real’ then that provides little escape and can actually create something negative. Those who manage to be personal and honest but ensure there is light and colour in their sounds will get ahead a lot quicker than those who are all bleak and too insular. It is a promising and big start from The NonStick Pans and I feel he can success and grow if he remains true to his core and sound. The 1960s-scented material is fantastic and there are few other artists out there who sound quite like him. I should get onto the new material of The NonStick Pans and a song that mixes the classical sounds of The Beatles with something quite today-focused and vital. It is a song that conveys a very important message but enriches you with its colours and energy.

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I am always interested in how a song starts and what approach an artist will take. Do you go in quite urgent and try and grab them in the first few seconds – like The Beatles did so effortlessly – or does one build the mood and not give too much away at the top? In the case of Man up, Man! there is this rather instant and alluring start. The drum sort of roils and rollicks and you get this burst of energy and Pop magic before a word is spoken. It is a nice and unexpected introduction that gets you involved straight away and represents what The NonStick Pans is all about. The hero talks about someone who is the “king of the world” but is unable to jump for joy right now. Although I have mentioned bands like The Beach Boys the vocals, in fact, have a little touch of singers Paul Heaton and Paddy McAloon. I am not sure how familiar with them The NonStick Pans is but one gets this soulful richness in the voice. It seems like this is this rage building up (in the subject) but this is being replaced by joy. The song’s title might sound like something that is being avoided in modern music: that ‘man up’ sentiment and just getting over something. Here, it is used in a humorous and conversation way and there is never a sense the hero is trying to undermine a subject or create tension. In fact, the vocal is consistently light and breezy but has so much texture and heart. One definitely hears the influence of the 1960s because of the general energy and skip of the track. It is impossible to listen and not be moved by the music. The composition is fairly sparse but the sturdy percussion gives plenty of kick and guidance. It is the vocal and the alacrity of The NonStick Pans that creates the biggest draw. It seems like the song’s hero is someone who has been through a lot and, in some ways, needs to do some growing.

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Maybe the title – Man up, Man! – is more a call for maturity than balls. In some ways, the song commentates on the way we approach feelings and our emotions. Are men pressured into being quite angry and distant and not letting their true emotions out? Is toxic masculinity and ignorance still too present and dominant? One can approach the song from different angles and it is interesting picking things apart. Perhaps this is a song that addresses a particular subject and the way they have approached life but there is that wider vision. I love how, in spite of everything, the man keeps the song cheery and delightful. There is a sheer infectiousness and sense of rouse that gets the words to life and puts them in the brain. It seems like, the more the song goes on, the more it applies to the general population. I get the feeling The NonStick Pans is looking at the way men are expecting to have this mask and what that is doing to the mental-health of many. Is it time we sort of broke from that parable and encouraged more openness? I think there are a few songs that carry a similar message but very few in such an uplifting way. Maybe the tone and sound is ironic in a way: the rather happy delivery is a way of hiding something more troubling and serious. Listen to the rest of Nineteen Sixty Four to know there are plenty of other happy moments but, in this context, the sound carries particular punch and weight! The chorus is instantly memorable and I do love the way new instrumental elements come in near the end. We get a blast of horns and there is this growing mood. The lead vocal is consistently strong and soulful and it adds so much to the song. You are invested all the way through and wonder if there is this particular man in mind. The hero talks about someone who has bottled things up and might not be in the best headspace right now. In a larger sense, there is this wider message that looks at masculinity and whether we are telling men to hide things and not let their emotions out. By the time Man up, Man! comes to an end there is so much to look back on and ponder. The song itself is great and has this perfect energy and fusion. I kept coming back to it because you get this release and explosion. It is a wonderful song but one that carries weight and a serious lyric. Many will have their own interpretations regarding the truth and story and I hope that I have gone some way to explaining it. Make sure you investigate and get behind the wonderful tune. It is the perfect example of what The NonStick Pans is all about and what defines his sound. Let’s hope there are many more albums from the man!

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I think this year will be a big one for The NonStick Pans. I am not sure whether he has any tour dates coming up and what is in the diary. I would love to see a U.K. tour and a collection of small dates that brings the Nineteen Sixty Four album to the people. I stated he is based in Blackpool and asked whether he might move at some point. There are some great venues where he is but, actually, he is not too far from Manchester and Liverpool and it is not such a trek getting that way. Maybe London is more of a trek but there are a lot of venues that would put him up and give him some stage time. I love the record and feel the song titles alone are worth exploring! Somehow Girl, Jennifer String and Ignota are favourites of mine and you listen to the song just to see whether the inspiration behind those titles is revealed! I think it is great the album is out there – it was released last year – and there is a chance to release a few singles/videos from it. That will give The NonStick Pans a chance to bring to life some of the bets cuts and get the music to new audiences. He is active on social media and building a small fanbase at the moment. That will increase when more airplay comes and he tours a bit wider. I know there is that demand already and the incredible songwriter has been noticed by critics. I love how the music has that effortless blend of natural tones and the familiar sounds of The Beach Boys and The Beatles. That means those who grew up in the 1960s will find much to love but one does get a smash of the 1990s and, in every moment, sounds of the here and now. The strong songwriting is evident and the songs get into the head without much struggle. I predict The NonStick Pans will go far and it will not be long until he is...

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TAKING these songs all around the country.

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Follow The NonStick Pans

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TRACK REVIEW: Rosie Turton - The Unknown

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Rosie Turton

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The Unknown

 

9.4/10

 

The track, The Unknown, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiWYwUaPsAk

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

GENRE:

Jazz

The album, Rosie’s 5ive, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/0ecE3kT7P76f7ZUtEvnL9X?si=M5ksuZSuS1ugleuJIdcIKA

RELEASE DATE:

11th January, 2019

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THIS is a bit of a step into a new direction...

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and it is quite hard for someone like me to review music that is instrumental. A lot of my ‘skill’ comes from interpreting words and deciphering what an artist is talking about. I have reviewed Jazz before and the trick is to be able to understand the music and what that is trying to say. I will come to the song in question in due time but, right now, Rosie Turton is in front of me and it brings a few things to mind. I want to discuss Jazz and organisations that are raising its profile in the U.K. a lot; why we have overlooked the genre and what it offers to the world; the beauty of composition and how it can say more than words; a look at the future for Rosie Turton and how Jazz can come more into the fore and integrate with other genres. The Jazz:refreshed name is one that has been helping raise the profile of Jazz musicians in the U.K. for years. In 2003, they created a weekly residence in the Jazz world for artists who wanted to experiment and push boundaries. It is hard to succeed in certain genres because the music played can be quite unconventional and strange to some. Think about genres such as Grime and Drill and, why they are getting respect and being heard, it is hard to assimilate into the mainstream. The core of modern music relies on a certain safeness and a familiarity. If one were to splice anything a bit edgy or new into the mix then that ruffles feathers. I will explore Jazz and why it has always struggled to impress upon the mainstream but it is great that Jazz:refreshed is around and helping to aid and uplift some of the best Jazz musicians in the country. The ‘5ives’ series of records – Rosie Turton has released hers recently – has been brought from the Jazz:refreshed stable and brought artists like Ashley Henry and Nubya Garcia. It can be hard for musicians to get heard and have their music discovered and I like the fact there is a label/body like this that is a safe haven and common voice.

I like the fact there is this place for Jazz musicians to go and a supportive hand. If we think about Jazz then we often look back to the past and get a very distinct impression. In terms of the modern brand, perhaps the U.S. leads in our views. I am thinking about Kamasi Washington and the sounds he is putting down right now. There is a rich and hugely impressive stock of Jazz musicians in the U.K. and that has always been the way! I think we need to clear our mind of preconceptions and stereotypes and listen to what is coming through right now. It is always going to be hard for Jazz to truly make its voice heard but there are so few radio stations who take a chance and actually play it. Jazz:refreshed has gone a long way to raise the profiles of some of the best Jazz musicians in the country and make it more accessible to the people. I do wonder whether there is a time when all genres will be together in the mainstream and it is a much broader canvas than it is right now. The reason I say that is because Jazz offers something one does not get from other genres. Think about the sheer sense of expression and individuality one gets from a Jazz player. Pop and Rock can be very generic and you rarely feel like the artist is putting their everything into the music. Also, the music can play second fiddle and, when faced with lyrics and voice, there is not much to distinguish from the rest. It can be quite frustrating seeing this fairly narrow market where there are few risks and truly unique artists. Jazz is a lot more accommodating to those who want to stand aside and genuinely make people feel something. Rosie Turton is someone who can help bring Jazz to more people and show what a strong and varied genre it really is.

She studied Jazz at Trinity College London and she has expressed herself through a variety of musical projects, including composing and playing with the septet Nerija, Sun Ra space-influenced Where Pathways Meet and recording with Hollie Cook. You mention Jazz to most people and they will wrinkle their noses and tell you it is boring. Many people have that impression Jazz is all the same and it is going to be very similar to what was coming out in the 1950s and 1960s. I love Miles Davis but, to some, he can be seen as dry and not terribly exciting. His playing is exemplary and he is a true pioneer but, in terms of excitement and capturing minds, there are some who grow weary and feel there is little on offer. It is different retuning your mind to listen to a form of music that is largely wordless. It is more about the sound and mood set rather than what is being sung. For that reason, some cannot cope and feel like they need vocals in order to understand. Davis proved, through his career, that Jazz is this malleable and ever-evolving form – he moved from the chill of Birth of the Cool to the wild experimentation and fire of Bitches Brew! Modern Jazz is very different to what came out decades ago and there is much to recommend. There is that need for reappropriation and seeing the genre in a new light. Jazz has always been vital and part of the music fabric. From its beginnings to its use in Hip-Hop and Rap – think about the classic records where Jazz can be found – through to the modern breed. Many see Jazz as this club-based thing where people are nodding their heads and it is all quite pretentious and dull. That does still happen but Jazz is so misunderstood. There is so much physicality, beauty and colour to be found and, even if you are new to Jazz, there are modern artists who can make it tangible and real.

You do not need to be an expert and know the history of Jazz to get involved with the genre. Maybe start with artists like Rosie Turton and then work your way back. Turton is a modern talent who is pushing Jazz in new directions and putting her stamp on it. Listen to her album, Rosie’s 5ive, and you have five tracks that are all under ten minutes. One of the problems with Jazz is brevity and focus. It is as much about expression and experimentation as anything and, as such, a little time is needed. Many have short concentration spans and do struggle to sit with a piece of music. Because of that, modern Jazz is offering more fizz, explosion and life than the older, classic icons of the past. I feel Jazz is a mobile and evolving genre. Maybe it will be hard to integrate it fully into the mainstream – due to the lack of vocals – but listen to modern Pop and Rock albums and there is something missing. Maybe it is a certain explosion or that lack of real soul. I think Jazz has a lot to offer and shows what can be accomplished when you get musicians together who create these evocative and hugely impressive pieces. I do think Jazz has so much to give and we often get hung up on this rather cliché and misguided view. Turton’s album does offer some vocals but it is more about the compositional sound and what it is saying. There is a real sense of the international and explorative in the record. Inspired by London, New York; the Himalayas and India, it is a global recording that proves why Jazz warrants respect. How often do you listen to music today and feel genuinely moved?! It is hard in this fast-paced and competitive world to find music that gets into the brain and takes you somewhere special. Jazz, in so many ways, is the perfect form of music for these stressful and busy times.

Most of us are stressed and have very demanding lives. We do not have that much time to relax and set time aside so, when it comes to music, we often play what we are familiar with or something that is quite simple. We need that release and music that makes us feel less tense. I think Jazz has a vital role in that respect because it provides a carapace and comfort. A new article from The Guardian shows many under-thirty-fives are turning to Classical music because it offers an escape from the noise of modern life. That makes sense. We want something calming and beautiful to soothe our minds and ease the strains. I think Classical music will continue to grow and gain focus from young listeners. The same can be said for Jazz. One does not get blasted with guitars and drums and, if you need something de-stressing and inspiring, Jazz is where you go. I do think many assume it is boring and there is not going to be anything worth exploring. I do admit some Jazz music is very academic and unmoving: more about technique and ability rather than emotion and feel. Jazz has always suffered from elitist sneering and snobby disregard. I feel the new breed of players in the U.K. are showing what people are missing. One can add a vocalist to the music but that is not always necessary. It is great just listening to the compositions and discovering all the life and texture that is being presented. Unlike Pop and Rock – which guides us and tells us what is being presented – Jazz allows the listener to go their own way and paint their own images. Music that offers that personal and unique perspective should be applauded. I think too much modern music is very literal and provides little imagination and wonder. Maybe this is why Classical music is bringing in the younger listeners and stressed workers – they want to unwind and be eased but also want something that channels that restlessness in a creative way.

Rosie Turton will go a long way and is already establishing herself as one of the finest young performers in the U.K. Recorded at Soup Studios in East London, Rosie’s 5ive blends together trombone, violin and electronic elements. One of the most important things to remember regarding modern Jazz is how progressive and varied it is. Many feel Jazz is just about trumpets and saxophones and that is about it. Modern Jazz, in fact, integrates many others genres and has quite a modern and fresh feel. Turton and her players explore Indian sounds and Hip-Hop; fuse that with traditional Jazz and pepper through something quite special. It is a blend and explosion of sounds that perfectly draws from Turton’s itinerant and busy past. She has travelled far and met many different people. All of this is brought into the music and she urges the listeners to enter her world and see where she has been. It can be hard convincing a stoic audience Jazz is a genre on the rise and worth exploring. We are all comfortable with our tastes and many of us feel unwilling to bend and try something new. I feel there are elements in Jazz that we do not get with other genres. Consider the power of music itself and how a composition can say more than words. Genres like Pop are great but they are very literal and there is little opportunity to experience the composition – the vocal and lyric are very much the focus. I listen to a lot of modern music and there is this focus towards the vocal and words. The compositions are okay but it is very rare to be drawn to the background and what is happening there. Jazz is all about the musicianship and hearing these committed and passionate players unite and create something stunning. Think about what you can experience when listening to Jazz.

Rather than put it on in the background and dismiss the genre, listen to the music itself and realise how much work and technique goes into it. Rosie Turton is someone who seems completely natural and free but she has many years of music experience and puts so much of herself into every note. (Alongside her is Johanna Burnheart on violin; Maria Chiara Argirò on piano/wurlizter; Twm Dylan on Bass and Jake Long on drums’ Ben Hayes on synthesisers (on Orange Moon) and Luke Newman on vocals (on the track, Stolen Ribs). One can listen to the album and discover something new in every track. Some are more rhythm-heavy and intense whereas you get something softer and more teasing in other moments. Jazz is always fighting against misconception but young British Jazz musicians are showing what can be realised. With the likes of Jazz:refreshed offering stages, support and a community, so much terrific work is emerging. I am excited to see how British Jazz develops and what is around the corner. I think Jazz will not convert everyone and it can be quite hard bonding with a form of music that is more about music than it is vocals and words. You need to have patience to truly appreciate the music in its glory but I think we all need that right now. Classical music is making an impression on the young and I can feel a tangible desire for music that calms us and makes us feel safer. Jazz has that power and, in fact, I think it is much more varied and wide-ranging. Have a listen to songs like The Unknown and, before long, you will realise it is a sign of what Jazz is right now rather than what it used to be – and what people think Jazz is all about. I am not saying modern Jazz has abandoned its past but what we have today is much more exciting and eclectic than the Jazz of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Rosie Turton is among a group of young musicians who are making Jazz more accessible without compromising on ambition and ethics.

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I love the production and sound of The Unknown. Rather than starting as this apocalyptic, scary and bleak place, it is quite sparse and rhythmic. Percussion takes the lead and one gets this almost Asian sound coming through in the beats. It is someone spiritual and meditative and, alongside the fast clicks and rolls, there is a contemplative nature that steadies the mind and opens the imagination. Piano rolls in and, at once, the listener is imagining and picturing the song. We begin with this gentle introduction but one that offers plenty of pace and nuance. My lack of technical knowledge will come in regarding the instruments but I love how there are so many different percussive sounds. There is a deeper drum boom at the background that drives the accelerated and bone-clicking lead. The piano rolls romantically and tees up Turton who brings in some smooth, caramel and sensual trombone. I am reminded of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue but, in many ways, Turton adds her own spins and provides something even more tender and romantic. It is a great fusion against the passion and pace of the foreground. In many ways, we get a new stage and vision. I am not sure what ‘the unknown’ relates to. Maybe it a physical thing and a darkness we all experience or a more spiritual realisation. Many will have their own views but Turton’s introduction takes the song in a new direction. The players weave in and out of one another and you get this rather scintillating and exciting mixture. The percussion and trombone have their own pattern and path but the piano offers this constantly moving narrative that takes the song to its next phase. There are Jazz numbers that can be cluttered but The Unknown balances the instruments perfectly and everything sounds wonderfully balanced. It is a hypnotic brew that gets into the mind and takes you away. Whereas there are no words in the song, you have these images and scenes that mix the darkness of the night and something more nourishing.

Turton and her band fuse supremely and create this fulsome, rich and epic sound. I feel this song could well be sampled by a Hip-Hop or Rap act because there is so much life and potential to be found. There are moments where certain instruments stand out and get chance to tell a story. I like how the percussion and piano come through when Turton stands back. The song builds and becomes more intense. There is cymbal from the percussion and the trombone sets its own course. Turton both guides her band and creates her own thread. The piano is less audible as we hear this rise but then, before long, the song comes back down new elements come through. There is a violin and the piano shines once more. The Unknown started calm and dark but rises to this sunshine thing that burns and warms with its radiance. I like how there is this improvised feel and the band do not sound overly-rehearsed. One gets romance and yearning from the violin and the piano provides this sense of movement and curiosity. Percussion gives that heartbeat and backbone and the bass keeps things solid. The sheer spritz and energy of the track does not relent and you get captured by this incredible force! I love how it is impossible to turn away from the song and how you will be immersed within. I was imagining this colourful and bustling city that is full of life but there is that confusion and fear. The traffic blares and the people rush; the signs are neon and there is this somewhat spiritual light that emerges from a local café. Maybe there is some psychological fear and sense of the unknown but, to me, the anxiety comes from the physical aspects and the busy streets – something I get from the music. Each player acts like a part of that scene and it is quite an experience!

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As the drums pulsate and the trumpet expresses with emotion and conversation, I see that as the rush of traffic and the chatter of people. The piano, bass and other elements are the background noise and life that keeps the feet music and keeps me moving. I find myself drawn to this hectic and multicultural landscape and trying to find some sense of reflection and gravity. Like Kamasi Washington’s work; Turton and her crew are able to create these grand and atmospheric pieces that are full of life but can be understood and appreciation by those new to Jazz. The Unknown calms and retreats and then builds up into this almighty high. It is a sensational track and one that definitely needs a lot of plays. You listen to its first and try to get to grips with all being played and, the more you play it, the more you discover. I was amazed listening back again and finding stuff I did not notice the first time around. The Unknown is the second track from Rosie’s 5ive and leads to the wonderful The Purge. I love how the album/E.P. is arranged and what role each song plays in the overall narrative story arc. There are few songs that leave an impression as big as that from The Unknown. I do not listen to a lot of Jazz but I think this track is a perfect introduction. You do not need to be aware of the genre’s history to understand and appreciate what is being played. If you have not heard Rosie Turton’s music and often find Jazz can be quite stiff and unarresting then do yourself a favour and investigate The Unknown. It is a jewel in an extraordinary album and shows how strong modern British Jazz is.

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Rosie Turton has grown as a musician and shows great maturity throughout Rosie’s 5ive. Follow her social media pages – which are at the bottom of this review – and make sure you listen to all the songs on her new album. I love the musicians she plays with and they have a real connection and chemistry. It is important to bond with the musicians and make sure everyone is on the same page. I am not sure how long they have all been playing together but one finds a blend of freedom and routine. The music is exceptionally tight and together but there are moments for free expression and improvisation. Jazz is at its strongest when there is looseness but always retains its focus. I think many avoided Jazz because of the noodling and experimental aspects – often going off in all directions and not really saying anything cohesive and productive. I do like musicians being lost in the moment but you need to tell a story and not just wander off and play whatever sounds ‘right’. Modern Jazz feels a lot more disciplined and focused but is also more genre-fusing and bold. I think grandfathers like Miles Davis and John Coltrane are in their bones and D.N.A. but look at how Jazz has grown. It is no shock it has been part of the Hip-Hop and Rap tapestry since the 1980s. Think about the glory days of Hip-Hop and how Jazz was an essential background. Modern artists like Kendrick Lamar use Jazz to heighten the music and offer something dynamic, fiery and thrilling. Jazz will always be vital in the musical landscape but I want to see it assimilated into the mainstream and used more heavily by artists there. Listen to great Jazz musicians today and you will find much variation and quality. Jazz is no longer a genre that is reserved for the diehards and the intellectuals. That might sound insulting but that slightly dusty and dry sound that used to appeal to a certain breed has gone and been replaced by a much more modern and relatable flair.

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I will end things soon but want to urge people to listen to Rosie Turton and get more involved with British Jazz. This article highlights British Jazz pioneers like Shabaka Hutchings, Yazmin Lacey and Nubya Gracia – some of the most expressive and inventive players in the world right now. That feature offers some useful words and reasons why Jazz is essential right now. The artists feature mention how Jazz is changing and appealing much more to a younger audience. It is much broader and more exciting than we can imagine and there are so many clubs around the capital that are offering a space for these talented players. We also have this impression of the old Jazz clubs being all smoky and accommodating these beard-stroking quartets that are all finger-clicking and too-cool-for-school. Modern Jazz clubs offer temples for musicians to hone their craft and draw together the generations. Modern Jazz artists like Rosie Turton and Kamasi Washington are bringing more story and concept to the plate. Turton mixes together her travels and experience around the world into this variegated boiling pot. Kamasi Washington, on Heaven and Earth, brings spirituality and physicality together; a deep and proactive selection of songs that are as potent and impressive as any I have heard in the last few years. One of the challenges Turton faces arrives when it comes to accepting a female leader on the stage. Nubya Garcia, in the above feature, talked about experiences of talking to people impressed to see a young woman on the stage. They are used to men – men of a certain age – and are unfamiliar with seeing a woman lead a band or stand alone. Nobody can define modern Jazz or easily write it off. I do worry we are not willing to expand our minds and get beyond the comfortable and commercial. Modern Jazz is a broad canvas and one that offers fast-paced rides, comfortable templates and genre-fusing magic. These times are stressful and unsure and artists like Rosie Turton are providing music that provides safety, inspiration and majesty. If you do anything today, make sure you play Rosie’s 5ive and fall in love with this bold, varied and accomplished...

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QUINTET of compositions.

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Follow Rosie Turton

TRACK REVIEW: Kahlla - Small

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Kahlla

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Small

 

9.5/10

 

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The track, Small, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/63dshJ8uXzZQgq1J3Xob9P?si=yNJk_z1rQzCiJFFcx_WQQA

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

GENRES:

Pop/Alternative

RELEASE DATE:

25th January, 2019

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I might go on a bit of a detour...

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to start this review – but it will make sense later. I will talk about Kahlla and how her international and varied past have contributed to her sound. I also want to look at how songwriters compose and what inspires their process; how honesty and revelation in song can work so long as there is substance in the song; those who are primed for success years from now – I will end by looking ahead to Kahlla’s future and where she can head. The reason I want to slightly go off the road to start is because I am listening to music right now and there is not too much that is catching my ear. Sure, I like bits and pieces coming out but there is relatively little that remains in my mind and gets under the skin. I have tried explaining this and trying to rationalise why I feel a bit distant from music but I think it is the sheer weight of the industry and how hard it is to stand apart. I am listening to a lot of David Bowie and his work prior to his ‘Berlin Trilogy’ – Station to Station is an album that I love and does not get talked about as much as it should. Bowie was always innovative and looking to take his music in different directions. Even though he was not always perfect when it came to quality, you could never call him boring and he never liked to do the same thing. I look back at the icons and innovators because they have made their mark and should act as a guide to the new generation. I wonder how many modern artists are learning lessons from the legends of old and actually realising why they sustained and continue to be talked about. Whilst it would be unfair to compare Kahlla to David Bowie, I think she (Freya Volk) is someone informed by different cultures, experiences and movements. So many artists simply stick with the same sound or do not really evolve between releases.

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She was born in Amsterdam and raised in Germany – she now lives in London. I can hear the internationalism in the music and different parts of her life in every track. Like big artists such as Bowie, you get this sense of different nations and people; a more open mind and artistic soul. Stick with me on this one but I think Bowie succeeded and was so inspired because he travelled and integrated different genres into his core. Too many artists now are stiff and not willing to open their horizons. Not only does Kahlla give us impressions of different landscapes and views but the way she writes about herself and experiences is bold and honest. Kahlla left her rural home at the age of eighteen but I feel that time was instrumental to her. If she started life in the city and did not make a leap then I think her music would sound very different. I think it is the different settings Kahlla has lived in/around that has enforced her ambitions and inspired her sounds. One gets a sense of the vulnerable with Kahlla and she opens her heart to the listeners. Maybe it seems rash and hopeful thinking Kahlla’s boldness and extraordinary music can be linked to the fact she has lived in different nations – I would argue against this. If you are standing in the same spot and only have the same people around you then, unless you are very imaginative, your music will not be that broad. Kahlla has spent time in a rural setting and time in Europe. She now lives in London and a very different environment. I yearn to hear artists that have a constant need to move and grow with every release. Kahlla has a definite core sound but you can tell she is always keen to express different aspects of life and not do what so many do – just talk about love and relationships and nothing else. Her current song is about a relationship but, as you will see, it takes a different angle and is very personal to her.

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Another reason I have been looking back at the legendary artists is because of how they used to write. I might have this romantic impression but it seems, more and more, artists now are relying on technology and are not actually sitting down to write. Many are using apps and recording ideas onto their Smartphones and it is a quick and easy way to compose. I know a few who will literally take pen to paper and others who are influenced by scenes around them – they photograph what they see and that translates to songs. Look at Kahlla and, in many ways, she has that romance and tradition of the older songwriter. I get the impression of the classic artists scribbling notes and projecting this very idyllic and peaceful scene. Maybe I am naïve regarding the process but things have definitely changed a lot. So many are hurrying and jotting notes between jobs and not having that much time to sit and write music. The reason Kahlla’s songs sound so complete and evocative is the way she writes and the attention paid. I like the fact there is a mix of the modern and old-fashioned when you look at her. Her music projects the impression of someone who is aware of the demands of the market and what music is popular but look at how she writes. She can be caught wandering the London streets armed with a disposable camera. Not only is it rare to find a shop that still processes photos but how often does one see anyone taking pictures the old way?! It is a charming and authentic aspect to her personality that sets her aside. I am not sure whether Small relied on photos and capturing special scenes but it is clear Kahlla is a step apart. She does not approach songwriting in a very clinical and formulaic way. I think so many songwriters are like that and their music seems to replicate a common pattern or algorithm.

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I think many fear they will struggle for success and quick appreciation if they do not follow the pack or write something that is similar to everything else. Kahlla builds collages from pieces of her life and arranges them into the music. These soundscapes and striking pieces are as a result of her taking these photos and freeing her mind. She is very honest and open through her music but she is not a songwriter who simply writes about love and heartache in a very predictable way. One gets a real sense of a unique artist who wants music to be much more immerse and captivating than simply listening and walking away – she wants to bring you into the music and ensure you are walking alongside her. Kahlla was classical trained and spent time in Punk/Rock bands. She digested as many shows as possible and got a really eclectic upbringing. Again, this is similar to a lot of the legendary artists who, naturally, would evolve and shift between albums.

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I also want to look at how songwriters compose and what inspires their process; how honesty and revelation in song can work so long as there is substance in the song; those who are primed for success years from now – I will end by looking ahead to Kahlla’s future and where she can head. Maybe my comparisons to Bowie were not rash and there is something in that. In any case, both of them are informed by their past and other nations – both have an attachment and link to Germany – but it is that artistic approach to music that is why I mention Bowie. He almost approached music like a canvas: not beholden to a set formula and style, he was this artist who was keen to stand out and not be easily defined. His various impressions and creations were staggering and, when I look out at the modern landscape, I do wonder whether there is any real sense of preserving that discipline. I am not sure whether Kahlla is inspired by artists like Bowie and Can but you can sense a connection. She has been influenced by years of poetry and a ‘bare-all’ style of lyrics. In many ways, each song is a collection of photos that document a very particular point in life. I love the idea of Kahlla walking around London in all weathers being moved by things around her. Whether a wintery scene or an unusual human; a perfect sunset or a very strange bit of graffiti – it all makes its way onto film and into music. Kahall is very into art and someone who is keen to express in a very evocative and physical way. Like me, she has a few tattoos but, unlike me, she has a real passion for tattoo art. She is a very striking woman in any case – my way of saying she is incredibly beautiful – but one is stunned by her tattoos and the fact that she stands out in a crowd!

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One would definitely not forget Kahlla is you saw her and she is fascinated by art and culture. In many cases, she has already conceived artwork and the videos before a song is finished. Again, here is an artist who is much more involved in songwriting and approaches it from a visual and imaginative standpoint. I do think a lot of modern songwriting is quite procedural and predictable and there are very few that view music as art. When she talks about love, that is not to say Kahlla is abstract and detached. Instead of being very stark and colouring by numbers, Kahlla talks about heartache and being overlooked in a way that mixes emotionally honesty with something quite colourful and artistic. In ways, she is similar to female trailblazers like Lapsley and Phoebe Bridgers. One definitely can hear similar melodic sensibilities and a fresh, exciting approach to songwriting. What one gets with Kahlla is a definite personality. That might sound strange but she pops and resonates. Too many artists are unattractive on the page and you are not compelled by their past. Kahlla is a fascinating songwriter and someone whose creative process and imagination draw you in and keep you hooked. I am not always a fan of artists talking about love because, a lot of the time, there are clichés everywhere! I do not mind hearing about heartache and doubts so long as there is something different to be found. I have heard too many wracked and over-emotive songs that drain the energy and leave you cold. Kahlla is the same as us and goes through hard times and has to fight against doubters. Instead of being defeated and deflated, she has this strength that resounds and sparks. She is confident in her own skin and knows how strong she is. Small is about someone close who doubts her strength – whether a family member or her boyfriend – but Kahlla knows not to take the words too seriously and believe what that person thinks.

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We can be made to feel inadequate and small. Whether it is someone we do not know well or a family member, it is hard to take in and can dent the spirit. Rather than believe that and let it get to you, that determination and fortitude is important. Kahlla uses this truth and direction to create inspiring songs and provide something genuinely uplifting. One gets the drum machine-led groove and soundscapes that bring in her Classical music background. It is the way she marries these rather different sounds together and comes up with something natural and unexpected – a songwriter who is taking risks and seeing them pay off. In many ways, Kahlla is the artist we need in music right now: a brave, innovative and fascinating character who will inspire many. Whether Freya Volk’s alter ego is an exaggerated sense of who she is – like Bowie and his Aladdin Sane – then I am not sure. What we do know is that Kahlla is truthful and, when it comes to matters of the heart, we are hearing Freya Volk write without disguise. Artists who obfuscate and blur their own reality behind metaphors and lies will never resonate like those who are very open and true. Kahlla might be a creation and invention but what we hear and experience comes from the woman behind her – with no sense of fantasy and lies. This is important because I find it hard to bond with many modern artists. I want to feel connected and as though I am listening to words that explain who they are and what drives them. Kahlla, on Small, battles against doubt and those who want to put her down. It will be interesting, when I get to the song, seeing whether the perspective is from a lover or someone in her family. It is a great inspiration for a song and something we can all relate to. Let me get to the song now and not leave you waiting too long.

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I wonder whether there will be a video for Small because I can imagine a very vivid and memorable outlook. I would love to see what Kahlla comes up with because, as the song opens, I already started to picture scenes and the storyline – as Kahlla often envisages videos when writing songs, I am sure she has something in mind. There is almost something Jazz-like and classic about the opening of Small. Too images come to mind when hearing the opening lines. For one, I imagine the heroine in a club in the 1950s playing to this smoky room. There are no other sounds and she is under this spotlight and closing her eyes – letting her soul out and lost in the moment. The other vision I had was of Kahlla in her room with the rain beating down. She is alone but thinking about harsh conversations and troubled times. I do not know whether the song relates to a previous lover or her current boyfriend – if, indeed, she is seeing someone – but I got the view a sweetheart was in her mind. Maybe that is rash but the opening lines find the heroine wondering if she needs approval and support. Kahlla feels like they are not on her side and she really wants to be who she is – it is hard at the moment and she wonders why she cannot toughen up. Strength is not something Kahlla is lacking and I think she has plenty of guts and strength. What is most impressive about the song is how sparse the composition is. Kahlla’s voice is allowed to reign and there are a few piano notes in the background. The voice is very much at the top of the mix and it is smoky and dreamy. One can imagine Kahlla very close to the microphone and with her eyes closed – in a very intimate setting with some low lighting. The vocals soon layer and we get this sort of mix of direct and disembodied.

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I like the fact the transition is quite gradual and we are not overwhelmed with sound and rush. Beauty and tenderness are present but you can feel the hurt come out. Again, I was thinking of a relationship but the words might relate to family and friends. It is hard not to think of Kahlla and her boyfriend on different pages and separating. Maybe it is an older relationship but the words sound fresh and urgent. It is clear, whoever inspired the song...they do not have faith and are not providing that support. The heroine is left to wonder whether she should go her own way and trust what is being said. She is being made to feel small and bad and this is getting to her. Kahlla knows she is strong and worth more and I do wonder how the situation came to be. Maybe there is a natural breakdown and disconnect and one is left to wonder. I feel like the other party has not been committed and is taking Kahlla for granted (I should say Freya). The heroine has been stung too often and made to feel like she does not matter. Instead of striking back against them, Kahlla has that self-belief and knows she is worth a lot. The earlier piano notes are replaced by fresh beats that click and patter with immediacy. Kahlla also does not keep the vocal projection static and, instead, moves and twists. At one point, there is this syncopated rap that is unexpected but seems to give the words even more weigh and reality. At another moment there is an almost seductive delivery and the fact we get this mixture and change keeps the song mobile and original. I hear a lot of artists who do not consider pacing and delivery but Kahlla ensures Small is always moving and never gets predictable. She is questioning her mind and wondering whether she should place any trust in her once-treasured support. It is hard to break away from someone you love and trusted but it would be foolhardy to bury anger and stay with someone who does not respect you.

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When Kahlla is at her most seductive, beautiful and evocative – the vocals layer and the words rise to the heavens – I think about the cover art for Small. The image is of a small watering can and a cactus. I think of this dry and desert-based soul who used to rely on this nourishing water and substance but does not have that anymore. Maybe she needs that watering or feels like she is deserted. Maybe the sweetheart is this prickly plant and she is the life-giving force. Maybe I am over-interpreting but I feel like there is a connection between the visual image on the Small cover and what the song is trying to say. Even though she is letting her heart beat strong and asking hard questions, the vocal is light and beautiful and one gets a real rush and physicality. I do love how there is that balance of raw and hard-hitting lyrics and a composition/vocal that is soulful, rushing and explosive. Kahlla feels small in her shoes and she knows she is worth more than that. The heroine is asking questions and searching her mind but you sort of hope she will move on and not made to feel inferior. Perhaps there are issues that can be resolved but I think, when you are at the stage when you are being belittled, it is tough to come back. Maybe, again, I am thinking too much of love (rather than family) but what is left when you take away that trust? There is a physical connection and passion but the core of a relationship is trust and respect – it seems like this has been taken away. If we are looking at family and friends then that bond is important and you cannot break it. Instead, there needs to be some harsh words from Kahlla – informing them that she is not to be taken for granted and made to feel small. By the end of the track, you hope Kahlla is okay and she has been able to find some peace. One knows she will be okay but it is quite sad to realise she has been put in this situation and made to feel like this. Let’s hope whoever has committed this sin has either been spoken to or removed from her life!

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I have covered Kahlla quite extensively and the woman behind her, Freya Volk. I will write a bit more because I think there is a bright future for her – and I forgot to mention something at the top. In many ways, Kahlla is this almost-flawless person. You have this very confident and stunning woman whose beauty and grace and matched with a strength and sense of rebelliousness. Her love of tattoos and artwork goes beyond her body and soul – one can feel images and art flowing through her songs. Kahlla’s music is accessible and original at the same time. You can bond easily with her but never feel like we have heard it all before. The way she mixes more Classical edges with Rock and Pop elements is fantastic. It is still early days for her but all the signs are very positive. I wanted to mention her voice and how that makes me feel. Maybe this is me getting a little gooey-eyed and smitten but it is another aspect that buckles the knees and gets into the heart. I am discovering a lot of great Pop around but the vocals seem somewhat distant or routine. I want more explosion or passion; I need that delicacy and tenderness when required. So many artists have a narrow emotional palette and their performances can come off as colour-by-numbers and flavourless. On Small, you get all these different shades and emotions and there is so much beauty to be found. Not only that but one is instantly bonded to Kahlla because there is this rawness and strength that inspires. She packs so much into the performance and, together with the excellent composition; it means you’ll come back a few times just in case you missed something! This is rare to find and another reason I believe Kahlla will go on to have a bountiful and bright career. So, then...what comes next for her and what does the rest of 2019 hold in store for the multi-talented songwriter?

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I do feel like there will be tour demands and more material. She released Come with Me last year and that gained a lot of positive reviews and respect. I am seeing people react to Small and, again, the song has gone down a storm. It is not a shock to discover this but it makes me wonder what happens next. I think there is a definite E.P. inside her and, maybe in the summer, Kahlla will look to unite some of her songs into a collection. People will want her to tour and there will be plenty of demand in London. I am not sure whether she will be based here long-term – let’s hope so! – but it seems like she is happy and secure right now. There are fantastic venues around and plenty of chances for Kahlla to get onto the stage and wow the crowds. I think there will be chances for her to play through Europe and perhaps Germany will be part of that plan. It will be a busy year for Kahlla and I would not rule out some festival dates and bigger gigs. It might sound premature but there are very few artists like Kahlla. I will wrap things up in a minute but I would urge people to listen to her music and go see her live when you can. Keep a track of her social media pages because she keeps them updates. There are very few who have that combination of informative and full social media pages – with a biography and links – and some excellent photos. I am always banging on about photos and how few artists have decent ones but Kahlla, as an artist and someone visually-minded, was not going to fail. All of these elements make her much more attractive and appealing. If you get that visual aspect and know a bit about her then it adds to the music and makes for a more direct and realistic artist. If we have to have to fill in too many gaps then it gets frustrating and we move on to someone else. There is no fear here as we have this very talented and ambitious artist who has a long future ahead. Small is another fantastic bouquet from Kahlla and I feel, as 2019 progresses, we will see a lot more wonderful work and fantastic revelations from this...

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INCREDIBLE artist.

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Follow Kahlla

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TRACK REVIEW: Violet Skies - Is She Gonna Be There?

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Violet Skies

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Is She Gonna Be There?

 

9.3/10

 

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The track, Is She Gonna Be There?, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/08smskvqoahjcKhbUqZDME?si=SSX4U-qYTpCMj7bzNOvDxQ

ORIGIN:

South Wales, U.K.

GENRES:

Pop/Alternative/Electro

RELEASE DATE:

18th January, 2019

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THIS review finds me picking up on a great artist...

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PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

but I also have to raise a few issues to start with. This might sound more and more like a broken record – and everything else I write will be glowing – but I am coming back to information and images. The latter is not a huge issue if I have autonomy but, many times, a P.R. agency/management will impose limits on photos used for reviews and what is available. That is okay if there are quite a few but, in the case of Violet Skies, there are two publicity images relating to her latest single, Is She Gonna be There? The song’s images are phone-themed and there is a distinct style but, if there are a couple of images, it means the reviews will be quite short. I appreciate there are many out there who pen short reviews and two images is enough but for me, I require a few more because I like to go deep. Having a limit does stifle somewhat and, whilst every single/album is entitled to a theme, maybe having more options in terms of the number of photos is wise. This is not something dictated by Violet Skies herself. In fact, it is an issue I am finding with a lot of P.R. companies: going to an artist direct usually yields more images and a bit more flexibility. Maybe it is all part of the marketing and music machine – the teaser clips, the images; the lyric video before the actual video; the way the song is promoted and the words used – but I like to just tear apart a song and actually get right in there. This means my pieces are longer and I do require a bit more imagery. I know how photogenic Violet Skies is and she is someone who shines on camera. I know she has a few images on her social media feeds but a few more images would be good and it would allow journalists like me more of an option and give pieces more illustration.

 PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

The same can be applied to biography and personal information. I mentioned this yesterday – and most reviews – but so many artists have a couple of lines on their social media and it does not say where they came from; what music infuses them and inspires their mind; how they plan on evolving and where they are headed. I do not require much but a little paragraph that gives me something to work from. I did approach Violet Skies’ management for photos and information but there were only two images available (that were never sent) and I am still waiting for the biography/info. I have had to work from what is available on social media and go from there. Again, this is not artist-specific but Violet Skies is an illuminating and great new artists who is starting to turn heads. The music can capture minds and reaction but you need the information and detail to go alongside. I do hope there will be new shoots and some detail regarding her past, present and influences because I would not bother to get too worried if I thought she could not make it – the fact she is so promising means many want to know more about her and who she is. I shall leave aside the constructive bits and look to the positive when it comes to her music. I have mentioned images and looks – not in any seedy way – and how some artists can just stand out from the crowd. Violet Skies has clear star quality and I feel she is one of those artists who will inspire in years to come. It is hard to put my finger on but the songwriter has a distinct style and image that captivates and hooks you in. She connects well with her fans on social media and, before I move to look at her latest song, I will address a few things.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

It is hard to explore newer artists because they have less in the tank and it is easier to discuss established musicians. When thinking of Violet Skies, the first thing that comes to mind is her nationality. The Welsh songwriter is proud of being from the country – and why wouldn’t you?! – but I do not often get to look at a Welsh musician. It is strange to think but the media does not really focus on much music outside of England and the U.S. That may sound all-sweeping but it has been a very long time since I read a paper or looked online and there was much coverage of Welsh acts. I suppose Boy Azooga and Gruff Rhys have been talked about; Gwenno is an exciting artists but, apart from them, I cannot name too many that make the music pages. It is sad to see countries ignored because, as anyone will tell you, Wales has always provided great music. You do not need me to tell you the fantastic artists who hail from there but there is this assumption the new breed migrate and do not stick around. That is so far from the truth! There is plenty of native wonder and so much interesting music. I think South Wales, where Violet Skies is from, is the most productive and eclectic but that would be too restrictive. Investigate the whole nation and you will find richness and interesting sounds wherever you go. There are so many promising newcomers (like Adwaith) but there is not that link between the press in London and Wales. By that, I mean the biggest music publications and sites are not looking to Wales and picking out what is being recommended. Does this mean artists have to leave Wales and come to England?

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That may sound drastic but I am finding those great Welsh acts are actually remaining put. Violet Skies is someone who loves where she is – I hope – and is getting attention because she puts stuff out online. I do wonder whether the fact people like me are finding her is because of a certain intuition and luck. Her music is fantastic and, although she is quite new, her stable is more developed and refined than a lot of artists who are getting a bigger shout. I can only think that is because of the location of Violet Skies. Events like the Welsh Music Prize celebrate the best Welsh albums every year and last year saw the prize go to Boy Azooga for 1,2, Kung Fu! I love that album but there were other artists on the shortlist – including Bryde and Seazoo – who deserved a nod. I know these artists will be successful but I do worry it takes award ceremonies and big events to get people talking about them. I am a big lover of Welsh music and dread this divide that has always been in place. I think most of the national award shows here do tend to be bias towards London and it is annoying when entire nations are missed out of things. One reason why Welsh acts remain where they are is because there is a warmth and connection among artists. Labels and bands are supporting each other; there are great stations that are keen to back and spotlight great new music and there is no shortage of unity. We need to redress the imbalance at the moment and make sure countries like Wales are not overlooked. Violet Skies, like many Welsh acts, is hard to pin down and she goes beyond the expected. Maybe that is the defining characteristic of a Welsh artist: they have an original aspect and tone but their music can easily slot into the brain. I think that is a good moment to break from this subject and discuss Violet Skies’ sound.

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In the modern time, it is hard to be THAT different and unique. The market is set up and there is a demand for a particular sound. By this, a lot of artists are presenting the same sort of thing and presenting their own stamp on it. A lot of times it is Electronic and Pop blends and a particular lyrical style – I do wonder whether we will get anything radical and rebellious in modern music. Violet Skies could easily have copied a peer or looked on Spotify playlists and written a song based around what is trending there. So many new artists seem to write their songs to specific designs and many are writing for playlists and popularity rather than what is meaningful to them. Violet Skies knows that, today, artists do need to be aware of what is popular but she allows plenty of her own inspiration and tastes to come into the music. Looking at the list of influences on Violet Skies’ Facebook page and I can see everyone from Joni Mitchell to Fatboy Slim. Is She Gonna Be There?, at this stage, is a song to get her to the next level and nestle among her contemporaries. If she were too bold and diverse with her music then it might alienate her and mean she is confined to the boundaries. I love her latest single and will talk more about it but I can see her breaking from the expected road and blending some of her idols into her upcoming sounds. It is important artists have an identity and their own mould but that does not mean they need to be narrow and rigid with style. I have been following Violet Skies for a bit and she is someone who changes and evolves between releases. I can see her, if there is more music coming this year, looking at different genres and areas of music. What might we get from her if she does splice other sounds?

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I love the fact Violet Skies is compelled by a broad range of sounds and she does not keep her record collection limited. I would love to see this blossom and explode in future songs because I genuinely think she is someone who has that desire and wants to experiment. Her existing songs are fantastic and interesting but, for upcoming releases, might she be thinking in other directions and seeing where her music can go? The industry is busy and it is hard to stand out considering what a flood of newness comes out way every week. Many have accused modern music of lacking flair and anything fun and I do feel like there is a bit of a fatigue and over-familiarity when you encounter new acts. Maybe it is the lyrics being plodding and inconsequential or the vocal not having much emotion or colour. Sometimes, it is the song itself that does not strike and impress or maybe it is the production. In any case, it is very easy to forget a lot of new acts. I listen to Violet Skies and there is that combination of assured and different current sounds together with that future potential. Right now, her music walks that line between Spotify/playlist-ready and personal. By that, I mean she knows what the industry wants but that does not mean she is compromising and playing it safe. There is so much to love about Is There Gonna Be There? I listen to the song and my mind is taking in different directions. The subject matter is quite broad – lies and dislocation in love; a lack of faith and seeing questions – but it would be easy to just repeat what is already out there. The song’s title itself is intriguing and is not the usual cliché-ridden/boring ones we usually get. I will talk about the song in detail when I get there but I like the compositional shifts and the lyrical direction of the track.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

The heroine looks at the hero in his sleep and there is almost a film-like projection. Rather than write rather uninspired lines and lack imagination, Violet Skies has this way with words that amazes me. She has seen her share of heartache and could easily have put anger and a lot of lazy words together. It is clear she’s a songwriter that takes her time and comes at things from a different angle. We get a track that could only really come from her. The genre/market she is in – Pop and Electro – is the most competitive and full out there and it is so hard to stand out. Whilst I yearn for some Beastie Boys-like acts to come along or something that is foreign to everything out, I know there is a lot to be said of what is already around. I have been tracking Violet Skies’ career and she always seems to approach songwriting with consideration and intelligence. If the lack of biography means I have to work a bit harder it does at least mean I focus on the music and find guidance there. I can get a sense of who Violet Skies is from her songs and what drives her. When talking about love, there is a maturity and fortitude that bellies her years. If her story of doubt and romantic confusion does sound common to many, the way she sings and how the song comes together might speak more to her roots. I am interested to see whether there is any connection between a song’s/artist’s musical angle and where they come from. Many living in the city, when they talk about love, seem to be more harried, strained and urgent than those that come from smaller areas. This might be a generalisation but I am seeing a pattern emerge. I review a lot of artists from London and, although the music is great, you can detect a lyrical pattern. So many songs that talk of love put their heart out there and there is less subtlety than I would like.

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Again, maybe this is me coming up with my own theory but I find artists from small towns or less populous parts of the world are free to breathe, think and come at the subject in a new way. Violet Skies asks questions and she ponders. She watches the boy sleep and, rather than attack and play the victim, she is showing a dignity and sort of telling him what he is missing. The song is complex and you can come up with your own viewpoint. To me, the heroine is fighting against claims of jealousy and trying to get through to the sweetheart. He is someone who is with another but cannot see what is good for him. I do think many people will be able to understand Is She Gonna Be There? but there is that mystery lingering. By the end of the song, you do sort of wonder whether she found satisfaction and why the song came to be. Is it based on a true romance or has she watched this happen to someone else? If you ask these sorts of questions by the end of a song then it shows you have been listening and paying attention. So many tracks fly by and you do not connect because they lack that sense of story and personality. I should move on to the song itself and get down to it but I wanted to cover a few points that are relevant to Violet Skies. I hope more details do come to her social media pages because she is a fascinating woman and someone who is stronger and more determined than most artists out there. I know she will be success and I hope the mainstream media look her way and shine a light on the great music emerging from Wales. Let’s get to the business of Is She Gonna Be There? It is a confident and nuanced track that, one hopes, will find a mate later in the year – might we see a Violet Skies E.P. very soon?

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

There is both definitive declaration and ambiguity in the opening lines of Is She Gonna Be There? The hero says things are over and it is through but our heroine is not sure. So many Pop songs throw big compositions into your face and start songs with a real burst. This means you are smothered by volume and it can be hard to connect right away. Here, we get the vocal with very little intrusion and it allows this rather interesting contradiction to emerge. You think, at once, here are two lovers who share history and are just going through a bad time. It is not obvious whether the man has strayed but I get the feeling they are both tired and need some time to recharge their batteries. Violet Skies tells us about this other girl that her man is hiding. She, apparently, is quite cool and someone that seems very similar to the heroine. It appears, therefore, the man has dated someone similar to Violet Skies and it does not seem to make sense. The duo is together but it seems like they are strangers when together. There are insecurities and questions circling in her mind and it is interesting asking why the relationship has taken this turn. It is when the chorus comes through, and that question is asked, and this sensual and tender vocal emerges. It is soft and teeming with emotion. This new girl seems like a temporary high and it is doubtful whether she has the same sense of loyalty and commitment as Violet Skies. When asking whether the new love will be there, you almost feel like the heroine is stifling anger and this confusion. It is not jealousy we hear here: this is a genuine surprise and loss that is being presented with maturity, rationality and patience.

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The heroine does not want to keep the man at home – she is not a bitch and controlling, as she says – but all of this is making her feel a bit sick. It is stressful watching this possible/new relationship come together. Rather than go on the offensive and attack the other women, our heroine needs some time away and is definitely not willing to beg. In many ways, Is She Gonna Be There? can be compared to a lot of modern Pop artists; it has a definite comforting familiarity but it is the lyrics that set things apart. I love the way the story unfolds and how Violet Skies narrates. You get this balance of heartache and stress combined with a need to move on and get some space. That is not to say Violet Skies is forgetting her man and moving on quickly. She cannot get too involved and stressed because it is a rather tricky threesome and there are these unanswered questions regarding the breakdown and why things are going this way. She narrated us through these dates and happenings and, why things seem safe and secure on the surface, there are these tensions. The heroine is wondering about the other girl and what she is offering him. In many ways, we get a rather classic story. It is that age-old mystery as to why some relationships break down and why they go after people who seem, in the flesh, to be inferior and less reliable. That is the feeling I got here and, with every line, that urgent questions is underlined and emphasised. The composition remains fairly light and does not get too high up the mix. There are beats and electronic elements but they are fairly uncluttered. What this does is provide some physicality and direction but the vocal remains the most important aspect. You get this strong and impassioned performance that is trying to make sense of things and cannot find any logic behind it all. As things continue, I wonder how involved the man and this other woman are.

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PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

Her name is being mentioned a lot – and this makes the heroine edgy and concerned – but it is never said whether there is an affair happening or the other woman is too much in the picture. Perhaps there is this friendship happening that has the potential to translate into a relationship. I guess it is up to your own imagination how involved they are and whether it is a case of them getting too close or there being something to it. I get the feeling the man is playing around and not being that honest. Violet Skies certainly feels there is reason to be wary and she is not being paranoid. I started to sympathise with her because it seems like she is getting the short end of the stick! The biggest takeaway I got from the song was that mystery and how things resolved. Violet Skies has the answer to that but, in many ways, the listener is free to speculate and wonder how things worked out. It is sad to see the cracks formed already but maybe there was a resolution. It seems, alas, things did take a turn for the worse and this other woman has become too much of a permanent fixture. The man seems naïve and rather insensitive throughout and I was wondering whether he was being deliberately brash – flaunting her whilst dating Violet Skies – or felt he was he was not crossing any lines. He may feel it is only friendship and it is okay to get that close with another woman. I do feel like there is this moral and ethical line crossed and there is no just cause for the break-up. Perhaps they have had their troubles before but has something come between them that could justify what is happening?! That is the beauty regarding Is She Gonna Be There? and its message: one wonders what started all of this and, actually, if Violet Skies found some peace and answers. It is obvious we have a strong song that has the potential to translate across multiple radio stations. It is cool and ‘young’ enough to spike the interests of BBC Radio 1 but has that BBC Radio 6 Music quality; a universal quality that could see it played on BBC Radio 2 and, in fact, there are no real limits! It is exciting to see just how far Is She Gonna Be There? can go and how many people it reaches.

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PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

I have chatted about Violet Skies and tried to drill down to who she is but I think the music itself is the only real way we can find out things. Violet Skies has a great bond with her fans on social media and she keeps her pages updated and informed. She is one of these artists who likes to have that relationship and knows what is needed. I guess, with more material, we will see the images multiply and get new sides to the Welsh songwriter. I love what she is doing and know, with or without that, she will get where she needs to go. It might be early days but let’s not rule out a possibly huge year right now. It is evident she has a real determination and passion for what she does and this needs to be teamed with great music. Luckily, we have someone who can provide an accessible and modern sound but she has her own brand. As I mooted earlier, I think some of those influences could come in to future recordings. Think about Violet Skies going acoustic and Folk; some bigger beats and some Jazz tones. She has a love for great singers and songwriters and I feel, when she becomes more established, it will free her up to broaden and bring new genres together. I think she is someone who can be multifarious and brave without losing fans and, instead, winning new hearts. It is always a gamble when modern music has such a way of working. So many artists are tied by marketing campaigns and release schedules. Many labels and playlists only like a particular type of music and I wonder how many new artists feel reserved about kicking out and trying something new. Violet Skies is an exceptional songwriter and I do not feel like I paid enough attention to her voice. A lot of times, I can compare someone to someone else and you hear that similarity. When it comes to Violet Skies, it is hard to link her with another artist. Switching from soulful and tender to more angered and intense – here is a singer who has the arsenal and range in her pocket to take her music all over the shop! I shall leave things here but recommend people listen to Is She Gonna Be There? as there will be plenty more from Violet Skies. Her current offering is, perhaps, her finest and most assured work and that points at a very bright future. If she keeps on this path and puts out music as strong as this then it will not be long until...

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @IAmVioletSkies

HER gig schedule is very busy indeed.

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Follow Violet Skies

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TRACK REVIEW: Dermot Kennedy - For Island Fires and Family

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Dermot Kennedy

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For Island Fires and Family

 

9.5/10

 

 

The track, For Island Fires and Family, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EfE4W60VoA

ORIGIN:

Dublin, E.I.R.E.

GENRES:

Indie/Singer-Songwriter

VIDEO RELEASE DATE:

10th January, 2019

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The album, Dermot Kennedy, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/0JF97yTibdYQh25AaFuioF?si=zSiUpFYyTXaq_lHrQXrlqA

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ON this outing...

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there are a few things that I am bringing back up that I have mentioned a lot recently – to aid a musician and make them more illuminating to the public. I will talk about information and painting a picture of the artist; a look at the ones to watch in 2019 and which artists are really worth investigating; heading out of London and looking at a Dublin-raised artist; being a complete package and formed in a busy market; how things might change in 2019 – I will end by looking at Dermot Kennedy and what his year has in store. This year is about change for me. I am getting a load of emails every day from agencies/artists that are all asking for reviews and interviews. These are the same sort of people I have dealt with in the past few years but, now that I have been doing this for seven years, one cannot keep doing the same thing and focusing on the very small acts – it might be a boost for them but if you are a journalist that is not being ambitious and writing about what you want to then others will overtake you. I am very aware of the music I want to feature and the status of the artist I want to spotlight – closer to the mainstream and with a larger number of fans at their feet. It is getting to the point where I am not interested in the tinier acts who are coming through and do yearn for the more substantial and interesting. This is why I was attracted to Dermot Kennedy’s new music and wanted to follow him. I will look at his new release in a minute but the man is being tipped for greatness by a lot of different people out there. One can attribute so many positives to the man and he has a lot going for him. There is one thing I want to bring to the fore.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

So many artists are being backed for success but I wonder how much we know about them. This is a common complaint I have but, for a meaty review, I need to know quite a bit. On record, Kennedy is a lot different to many out there and shines but there is not a lot on paper. I know a bit about his latest single but what about the man himself?! So many artists leave a lot left aside and you do struggle to pen some words. I wanted to write about Kennedy as he is an interesting artist but I do wonder which acts he is inspired by and more about him. I do sort of want to know what his early life was like and the music he was raised on; how he approaches songwriting and more about what drives him. It is great to write about him but I do sort of need that U.S.P. and some other angles I can work from that differentiates him from everyone else. The music is great but I know Kennedy has conducted interviews. Bringing that into his social media and having them all easily available would be an advantage. So many acts just have a social media page and no biographical information. So many potential fans are going to skip by because there is not a lot of information to go from. I might navigate his way but then there is that need to find out more and dig deeper. As I said, so many are doing it and I wonder whether artists need to be more personal and revealing. I am not suggesting they give it all away but some words about who they are and where they are heading would be beneficial. Can we get all the information needed from the music and have out questions answered? I think Kennedy is a great songwriter but I am still curious as to his music and how he provides this unique edge.

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This year is fairly fresh and we are looking out at the artists who might make waves. I think the predictions from sources such as the BBC are strong and we are getting an impression of what to expect through 2019. There is always a bit of scepticism regarding these lists and whether all the artists mentioned ae actually worth sticking with. I do feel music is broad and you cannot narrow down to a few names when it comes to defining the sound of a particular year. One reason why I think Dermot Kennedy is worth the kudos and energy is because he has a natural gift for songwriting. There are many artists out there splicing genres and throwing in these unusual sounds but there is simplicity to Kennedy that resonates. This is not to say he lacks complexity but his music does not need to rely on tricks and too much activity to get into the heart. I think the songwriters who will make a mark this year are the ones who can get into the mind with ease but have a sense of hope. You can talk about love and loss all you want but it seems to be the stock for a lot of artists. This can be quite depressing and we do need musicians to bring some cheer. Kennedy is someone who can balance the introspective and outward and has this great sound. It is hard to distil what makes the music shine but it is the charisma, confidence and intuitive spirit of the songwriter. He knows how to write a solid song and puts his personality into every line. I think Dermot Kennedy is someone who defines what we need in 2019: a solid and interesting songwriter who has a varied sound and a big personality. It is hard to sustain the public interest and keep ears hungry right the way through the year.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

Many artists sort of intrigue at first and then that appeal can wane as time goes on. I do feel there is this trend in the media to rave about an artist because they are a little different and edgy and that aspect can sort of grate. I am not pointing the finger at any artist tipped this year but I am not entirely sure all of the names recommended by the media will remain and surprise. Dermot Kennedy is a solid bet because he is a classic songwriter and someone who continues to evolve. I have been following his music for a little bit now and can see how he has grown and what he is bringing into the mix. His confidence is rising and every song seems to see him get stronger. I am confident the Irish songwriter will continue to bloom and take his music in new directions. One does not require anything too explosive or radical from Kennedy but, from each song, you notice the growth and something special. For Island Fires and Family is a song from his back catalogue and you can tell how much it means to him. I do hear there might be a debut album later in the year and it will be interesting to see what songs make up the collection. The popularity and the support Kennedy is getting from all around the world makes it clear he is a rising star and someone who can endure for many years to come. I am glad I get to support an artist who started life outside of the U.K. That might sound like an odd declaration but I have spent a lot of time featuring London artists and think it is time to get out and focus on acts from different parts of the world.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

I am focusing on a Welsh artist tomorrow and it is good to look at a great Irish musician. I am not certain whether Kennedy is planning on moving and whether he will base himself in the U.S. or U.K. soon but I get the chance to look at Dublin and a city that continues to spawn great musicians. Through the years, Dublin has produced some cracking acts like U2 and My Bloody Valentine but its reputation and influence is not consigned to history. It does not get the same sort of attention as London and the music scene might not be as busy but that is not to say we should ignore Dublin. It is a complex, rich and colourful city that has always provoked fantastic creativity. I do think the media overlooks the city and assumes all the great sounds are coming from the U.K. In fact, even Scotland does not get the same focus and here is another part of the world overflowing with terrific music. I think Dublin’s people and character leads to this flavoursome and colourful music. Maybe it has always been this way but I notice something in Dublin you do not get from anywhere else. It is a sense of grace and beauty that seems natural; a way of songwriting and performance that sets Dublin aside. It is tricky explaining but I know the people of Dublin are very warm and witty and that sort of feeds into the music. The city mixes the modern and historic and you get a great clash. It has a sense of calm to it but, like every capital city, it is busy and has plenty of tourists. I think we should all spend more time looking at Dublin music because there are some great local artists emerging. It is hard to get big attention because the media often looks at other areas. I think, in order for music to be broad and fair, we need to concentrate on cities like Dublin and what is coming from there.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

I will move on to new areas in a second but I want to stick with that idea of area and location. I feel Kennedy might relocate when he becomes even bigger but I think his Dublin roots serve him well. Maybe it is me reaching a bit but I think he has a spark and way of working that is very particular to where he comes from and the people he grew up around. I love what he is throwing out into the world and here is an artist who can go a long way. What happens when he does explode and there is even more celebration? I feel Dublin is a wonderful city to play in but can you sustain a long career and get all the attention you need if you remain there? I do feel Kennedy is someone who might move to the U.S. in years to come. This might seem random but I am seeing a lot of musicians move from the U.K. and base themselves in cities like Los Angeles and New York. Not only do you get a bigger crowd and more focus but there are a lot more musicians/sounds around you to draw from. It is clear Kennedy is one of the most promising artists of this year and his name continues to rise. I will end by looking at his gig schedule and popularity and soon enough he will have to think about the long-term. I love Dublin and its music and feel Kennedy can owe a lot of his success to where he comes from and the people around him. The need to spread wings and go somewhere bigger might creep into his mind. The music he is releasing is fantastic and I feel it suited for a huge market. Maybe he is happy where is for now but this is an artist who will become a big star and I can imagine him moving on and settling in another country. Dublin, mind, is a glorious part of him and he is helping raise awareness for the fantastic musicians who are playing there. I do still feel the media needs to give more support to Irish artists so they do not have to relocate and struggle to gain traction.

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Your man Kennedy seems to be this complete artist who ticks all the boxes. I have discussed how I would like to see more information about him and that all holds true – I can imagine his early life was filled with music and I would like to know how he got into the industry. That being said, it is clear Kennedy is not your average artist who is learning as he goes along. He is not quite at his peak yet but the man has this sense of self and confidence that comes through in the music. He is an interesting character in interviews and his stage performances have been lauded. I encounter so many artists who lack something and do not really spark. Maybe their songwriting is a bit predictable or they are not the most captivating performer. Kennedy’s popularity is no fluke and he is someone who can go on and on. His music has a personal touch and comes from his heart but it is accessible and universal enough to speak to the world and make a mark. He is a great live performer who can produce this big show and connect with his crowd. That sense of completeness and quality goes into music videos, too. The shoot for his new single, For Island Fires and Family, was shot on location Inis Mór - one of the famous Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. This is the very same location Kennedy refers to in the track’s title. This place is very important to Kennedy and he was keen to film the video there. I have sort of omiited the fact Kennedy has released his debut album, Dermot Kennedy, and that is out in the ether. That came out on 4th January and picked up some positive reviews. It is rare for artists to release albums in January – many wait until the weather gets warmer – but Kennedy was not wasting any time! I wanted to feature the single so I can into depth more but I recommend you check his album out!

 PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

There are a lot of reasons to listen to For Island Fires and Family. It is a song that gets to you right from the off. It is a passionate song and, whilst Kennedy has produced more energised examples, this one comes right from the soul. He imagines what it might be like to be a bird, flying over the sea with nations underneath him. You get an instant sense of movement and that flight. The words are delivered with a sense of gravitas and intensity; there is a weight behind the voice that makes you tremble and definitely stops you still. It is a potent voice and, whilst some might compare it to singers like George Ezra, I think Kennedy is more soulful and has more in common with artists of the past – I think we all too often make lazy comparisons. There is little accompaniment and this allows the voice to stretch, campaign and seduce. It is a powerful performance for sure. We get backing vocals arranged in a choral style – that remind me a bit of James Blake – and the sheer potency of Kennedy’s voice makes the words striking and huge. He has a rawness that powers through and it seems like there is this love that has gone wrong. One of my aims for this year is to focus on music that is more positive and strays away from love but I am making an exception today. It seems the hero has made some apologies and concessions but the girl is not giving him time. Perhaps they have been together a long time but things have taken a turn. It is hard to get beyond the sheer weight and power of the delivery and how it gets into the mind. We have many great singers in music but few of them can match the muscle, soul and gravel of Dermot Kennedy. I do like how the background is quite sparse and there is that concentration on the foreground and this very evocative delivery.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

Maybe my viewpoint regarding a sour love was a bit premature. Kennedy talks of someone bringing the moon and stars and these great people in his life. It is not long before the delivery is more conversational and you get Kennedy’s accent coming through. The song becomes much more fulsome and interesting than it would if it were delivered in a rather plain American or English accent! Kennedy talks about the secret and sacred and the desire to walk on the rooftops and be free. The hero casts back to summertime and being in a full room; the girl the only one he smiles at and that connection being made. I wonder whether they have gone off the tracks but it is evident Kennedy has fond recollection of the time they met and that very meaningful time. Kennedy uses very personal and simple language to ensure the song gets into the head and we can all understand it. His potent delivery and use of language ensures For Island Fires and Family swims in the blood and hooks you in. I was walking in the song and seeing what was going down. It does seem the love was brief and it is not revealed why things went wrong. Kennedy switched between fondness and times good – when they were bonded and talked about everything – and the rather harsh nature of love. The vocal does change from the faster-paced and energised to a more gravelled and intense belt. It provides these two sides to the song and gives things mobility and emotion. I was wondering how things went wrong and whether they still talk. It is clear the hero is affected and does not want things to end but I do guess and conspire.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Spotify

Maybe it was only meant to be brief? The lyrics, actually, show much more originality and personality than what you get in the mainstream. Kennedy talks about the feeling of the heart bursting out the shirt and how it has happened before – it is happening more with this girl. It is a nice angle to approach heartache from and I do love the strong Irish accent giving a sense of beauty and power few songwriters can match. By the end of things, you feel for the hero and wonder whether reconciliation can be affected. He seems reigned to his lot and what the lovers had seemed very special. We have witnessed this very powerful and visual song – watch the video alongside if you can – and it sort of takes the breath away. I came back a few times to see if I could piece things together and speculate as to why the relationship fell apart. It does not seem to be a particularly awful and painful breakup in many ways but this loss has left a gap in his heart. I love Kennedy’s voice throughout and the fact it does switch between this immediate and urgent soulfulness to a more chatty, light and faster pace. It is not something you hear much in modern music and another reason why Kennedy stands aside. For Island Fires and Family stands out in its own right and tells a story but sounds different in the context of the album. Listen to Dermot Kennedy and you can hear what else he has to offer but, if you want an introduction to the man, then this is a great place to start. There are more popular songs in his cannon – Power Over Me is one – but I have a soft spot for this track. It is a glorious, touching and brave song from someone who is getting a serious amount of respect. If he continues to write music like this then he could well find himself running shoulders with the biggest names in modern music.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

Dermot Kennedy has had quite a hectic and exciting past year. He has managed to come under the radar and gain all this new applause. People are predicting he will define 2019 and many know he will go a very long way. Kennedy announced a tour for May 2019 and it has already sold out. He goes to Dublin, London and Manchester and the tickets have been snapped up. Kennedy keeps on getting bigger and there are no signs to suggest he will slow down. I have speculated what he might do regarding material later in the year. He has introduced his eponymous album and, as I said, it has won a lot of praise. The fact critics are invested and can see this special artist is great. Maybe touring will get in the way and occupy his time but many will ask whether there are going to be more songs later in 2019. It is clear there will be no be a lot of moments to breathe between gigs so I have to wonder when we might see that new step. Digest and get involved with the debut album – as it is terrific – but I am already pumped to see where Kennedy might head and what he can follow it with. This might sound impatient and reckless but he has so many different sides to his songwriting and it will be interesting watching that blossom. I will end things soon but I am just excited to focus on a bigger name. I am not certain how the rest of my year will play out. It is clear I am not doing things the same way I have been and the idea of interviewing smaller acts no longer holds any excitement for me – there is a lot of frustration and, at the end of the day, it is not the music I want to include anymore. I am getting more ambitious and feel I am ready to highlight those artists who are more acclaimed and have more support behind them.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

Dermot Kennedy is one of the names I have been looking to include for a while now and I am glad I have found the moment. For Island Fires and Family, despite its unusual title, is a great song and one that is distinctly Dermot Kennedy. It can be hard pushing above the crowd and getting noticed by Kennedy has managed to do that. It is that combination of natural talent and passion combined with hitting on a very desirable sound. You get a lot of the personal and revealing from Kennedy but he has a sense of mystery and intrigue that hooks you in and makes you wonder. The music switches from tender to powerful and the fact he has so many different scents and flavours working away makes him a more complete artist. The touring and big gigs mean he can hone and sharpen and he will learn a lot of skills on the road. I feel like he will grow even more in terms of confidence and it is only a matter of time before he adds new elements to his music. The future is in front of him and he has an opportunity to become one of the biggest artists around. I love what he is doing and many others agree. Make sure you check out his eponymous album and get involved with all of the tracks. I wanted to focus on For Island Fires and Family because it has a video out and it is a song that warrants a lot of love. I will wrap things up now and move onto something else but it has been great to feature Dermot Kennedy. He does not need my backing and thumbs-up but I am, as I say, keen to feature the bigger names this year. He is definitely one of them and it is interesting seeing where he will be by the end of this year – as his music continues to grow in stature and he performs around the world. Ensure you align yourself with this fantastic artist and, if he does announce more dates later this year, you might be fortunate enough...

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster

TO catch him on the road.

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Follow Dermot Kennedy

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TRACK REVIEW: The Lottery Winners - That’s Not Entertainment

TRACK REVIEW:

 

The Lottery Winners

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That’s Not Entertainment

 

9.6/10

 

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The track, That’s Not Entertainment, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPjrQOjof3Q

ORIGIN:

Manchester, U.K.

GENRE:

Indie-Pop

RELEASE DATE:

9th November, 2018

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ONE topic that springs up when I review a rising act...

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is the need for more information and input! This is the only constructive criticism I have regarding The Lottery Winners but they are rising and need to take it to heart. I will mention bands from the North and why Manchester always thrives; bands that can rule and have had that backing; great chemistry in the ranks and how that aids the music; unusual influences and why I welcome that – I will end by looking at the future for The Lottery Winners and how this year will go. To start with, I want to see more artists give more information to their fans. There is a school of thought that says, if you are new, there is not much to give and you want to let the music fill in the blanks. I admit that the music needs to guide and do the lifting but journalists and fans still like to know where someone comes from and what music they are inspired by. When reviewing Sharon Van Etten yesterday, I had a press release attached and it gave me a lot to go from. I know she is a big artist but anyone can assemble a pack that talks about a song’s background and how the band/act came together; where they hope to head and some personal background. It is not too revealing providing some information regarding where you are from and what you are about. I pitched an interview to The Lottery Winners but they never got back so do not have insight and revelation I can put into the review. Given a lot of reviews are just simple and short pieces, I feel more musicians need to think about providing something substantial and helpful. In the case of The Lottery Winners, they have great reviews we can see on their social media but what of the guys themselves? I would like to hear about their start and how songs come together; a bit about inspiration and how songs come to them.

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I love their music but do not have a lot of other information to build a review around. It is a problem that affects a lot of artists and I can understand why some would want to hold stuff in reserve. If you are too bold and wordy then it means people have that impression and do not value the music the same way. There is middle-ground where you can provide some information for fans and the media and still allow the music to do the bulk of the work. I hope more artists amend this in 2019 and understand that there is a desire to find out about them and get a sense of who they are. In a competitive and hectic industry, I think that attention and addition will make a big difference. I am hoping the interview comes back from The Lottery Winners because their music suggests a fun and original flair – I wonder if this translates to conversation and what the guys do away from music. The Lottery Winners have great music behind them and they have some cool photos available. This is pleasing to see but I still hanker to discover more about the northern band and how they all found one another. I think there is a lot about them to recommend and it is clear many people are falling for The Lottery Winners. They are from different parts of the country but Manchester/Greater Manchester is where they base themselves. I have always been a fan of music from Manchester and feel artists there do it differently; there is something about them that stands out from the pack. The Lottery Winners definitely have a distinct flair and direction about them. I hope, going forward, they put a bit on their social media pages regarding their home and how music came to them; how they plan on moving forward and how a song like That’s Not Entertainment came to be. Whilst I do not need to know the story of the track, a little bit about the music in general would aid my opinions and would provide a bit of colour and truth regarding the group.

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I have mentioned the North and how music differs there. I think there is all this attention paid to London and, whilst I bring this up a lot, I do feel like the spotlight needs to point in other directions this year. I can understand why we keep focusing on London: so many different stars are being made here and there is so much going on. It is a busy city, for sure, but that does not mean everywhere else is inferior and quiet. Manchester has always thrived and been an essential cog of the music machine. Look back as far as the 1980s and you can see how Manchester acts have inspired what we hear today. I have visited Manchester a few times and feel there is something special about the city that keeps musicians rooted and leads to very cool music. I think London is full of interesting people and the music can reflect that diversity. More often than not, I am sensing something a little anxious about music from London. So many people I talk to from here are feeling the strain of daily life and it can be hard separating that from the music. You want to be truthful and reflect what is going on in your life and, more often than not, we get something that has tension and a sense of fear. That might be all-sweeping but you can definitely see a split between artists in London and those in the North. I think there is more wit, story and personality in music from Manchester. I am not suggesting London lacks personality and charm but you tend to find a higher percentage in Manchester. Look at The Lottery Winners and they are your typical example. They love fun and want to ensure the music makes you feel better. I am sure they have the same problems and stresses as everyone but it seems their natural environment is a lot calmer and more inspiring than it would be if they were in London. Maybe that is a bit rash but I cannot see them moving anytime soon.           

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What is it about the North that leads to original music? I have met a lot of people there and there is more time for communication and conversation. You can always expect to find a friendly face somewhere and that simple thing can inspire music and a human in general. If you are bustling and rushing through a city then it is hard to reflect and take the time to sit and rest. Manchester is busy and popular but one gets a different vibe there. More easy-going for the most part and, when you get to know the people, their stories and humour can really lift you. For a musician, having that at your feet is invaluable and I can tell The Lottery Winners are comfortable where they are. Maybe it is not as simple as saying northern artists are brighter and more optimistic but I can always rely on a certain wit, colour and brightness when I investigate acts from Manchester. At the very least, you get something fresh and exciting. The Lottery Winners occasionally look inward feel the pinch but they are more concerned with projecting a vivacious and multifarious canvas. I have listened back to their previous tracks and there is a distinct sense of adventure, energy and brightness about them. I feel the cynicism of the world will not change their demeanour and they will continue to write these classy gems. I think the media, if they want to discover artists bringing the joy, need to look further north and investigate Manchester more. I feel the last bold and nation-uniting movement that came from music, Britpop, was northern-led and we need to recapture that sense of togetherness and hope – even if you think Britpop was a fad and fake, you cannot deny there was some epic music from that period in the 1990s! I would like to know more about The Lottery Winners and how the guys’ music comes to be. Maybe they will disclose a bit more later this year but, right now, people are falling for the music.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @samanthajguess

I have read the reviews The Lottery Winners have garnered and they are all very positive. I have been obsessed with solo artists the past few years and it has been a tough time for bands. There is this never-ending divide between the mainstream and the underground. I mention this a bit but it is interesting to see the different layers. Look out at the charts and the big scene and most of the music coming through is from solo artists. A large percentage of the best albums of 2018 were from solo acts and there was not a lot of band influence. That is very different when you dig deeper and look at the artists coming through. Maybe there is still a weight of solo artists but I am seeing some terrific bands emerging. The Lottery Winners are definitely needed in the mainstream right now. Many have damned the Pop market and claim it lacks feeling, substance and longevity. Maybe there is that demand for music that is quick and easy to understand. Often, we like our sounds quite uncomplicated and catchy. Perhaps bands deal more with something a bit heavier and there is not quite the demand for their work right now. What I am finding with a lot of mainstream bands is the fact they lack a real spark and sense of identity. There are so many recycled sounds and not that many who genuinely go down their own path. As I stated when reviewing Leeds’ allusinlove recently, it seems the underground band market is in safe hands. The Lottery Winners have a distinct style and passion that could help bring about a revival and improvement. It might take a few years until we see the solo hegemony end but I think we do need more balance in the mainstream. The fact The Lottery Winners have the ear of stations like BBC Radio 6 Music – as I shall explain later – shows they are doing something right. How does a band manage to get from the underground and emerge in the big leagues?

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @BBC6Music

It is clear it takes more than good tunes to make that happen. I feel a committed social media presence is needed and putting your music out as much as possible. By this, I mean bands need to keep sharing their music and update fans as much as possible. You do not need to keep releasing songs but do not leave a big gap between releases. The Lottery Winners have ticked all the boxes and they are keen to update their fans all of the time. We get a real bond with them and it makes it a lot easier to follow them and stick by them. I feel so many artists leave gaps between communication and it is hard to find out what they are doing. If you have a great act that keeps you in mind and does not leave this big pause then you are more committed and invested. I think there is a great relationship in the band that comes out on the screen and in their music. Maybe it is harder to resonate as a band because, in many ways, it is easier to bond with a solo artist. It is an easier and simpler relationship and solo acts can easily get into the heart and speak to you. Bands, largely, find it harder to be personal and deliver music the same way as solo artists. This is my opinion and you might have a different take. It is clear that a successful band needs to have faith and trust working through everything. Look at bands such as IDLES and you just know the fellas are great friends and they have that unbreakable connection. I have heard so many bands that fail to register because every member seems to be on a different page. Listen to The Lottery Winners and you just know they have nothing but respect for one another. It comes out in their music and that makes you stick by them and see what comes next.

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I think chemistry is important and you need to be a solid unit. Music is a difficult business and it is even more stressful now. If you are a band like The Lottery Winners, friendship and solidity is vital. The band specialises in sweeping and big songs and you need to commit to them. If there was any tension or struggle in the ranks then it would be harder to sell those songs. I do like the fact that there are these promising bands coming out that have a deep respect and affection for one another. I think it is harder being in a band compared to life as a solo artists and it is easy to get under each other’s skin in a bad way. If you have that mutual respect it makes the songwriting process smoother and means the music is much more natural. I love The Lottery Winners because they are connected solidly and you just know the songwriting and rehearsal sessions are full of laughter and fun. I think the future is very rosy for the band and they are definitely filling a void right now. I don’t know when the change occurred but I definitely recall when the music scene was a more positive and upbeat place. Compared to what we have today, one could find music that got the heart pumping and made you feel better. More and more, it is harder to discover that sort of bliss and much-needed bliss. One might say society now is more anxious and we are all obsessed by technology – less connected to one another and more stressed as a people. I keep saying it but music needs to be somewhere one can escape to and give us a distraction from daily life. If we have a mass of artists who are mirroring the strain and unhappiness around us then how is that going to make us feel? It would be impossible to demand that every artist cheers up a bit and produced sunnier music but we definitely need to promote those artists that understand the problem – this is where The Lottery Winners come in.

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I will end by looking at their backing and how the critics are receiving them. In terms of where they come from, musically, there is a lot of the North in them. I was delighted to discover a band that had elements of The Housemartins and The Beautiful South in their D.N.A. One can also hear the jangle of The Smiths and it is very clear The Lottery Winners keep the North close to them. One can hear some southern tones but it is the classic songwriters of the North that direct what they do. I wanted to mention influenced because it can be important when it comes to understanding an artist. I always delight in being able to mention The Beautiful South whenever I can. The reason so many have noted a link between The Lottery Winners and The Beautiful South is because of the wit and the  catchy choruses; the fact both bands could make you smile and produce quintessential Pop music – the sort that makes you feel better but can provide a bit of bite here and there. I miss The Beautiful South and feel they never got the respect they deserved. Led by songwriter Paul Heaton, we all know at least a few of their songs and grew up around their music. I love the way Heaton (and composer Dave Rotheray) could articulate the less glamorous and more realistic sides of domestic harmony and relationships. Heaton was masterful when talking about the mundane and familiar; the sort of horrors that lurked behind closed doors and things most songwriters were not discussing. We have not really seen a replacement for them and it is a shame so many songwriters feel writing about love needs to be a draining and harrowing thing. Where are those that artists that add some wit and story to the blend? I long to hear bands that articulate the wit and worldview of The Smiths and can pen those classic tracks like The Beautiful South did.

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The Lottery Winners, whilst not in the same league as them, have a similar ambitions and attitude. You can tell they are tired of the same songs that address the same things. Rather than follow everyone and hope to get to the mainstream but being samey and common; the band provide a lot more sparkle and intrigue. You listen to a song like That’s Not Entertainment and, aside from the rewording of a Jam song, there is so much to unpick and become hooked by. There are few bands that deliver solid and uplifting songs and I think we all need to spend a bit more time with The Lottery Winners. The guys have been backed by BBC Radio 6 Music and D.J.s such as Chris Hawkins rank among their fans. I feel that sort of backing is impressive and rare. I am not suggesting BBC Radio 6 Music are the only station who matter but they are not interested in the commercial and cheap. Instead, they look out at the music world and are keen to support musicians who are different and place quality over popularity. I shall move onto the new song from The Lottery Winners but, before then, a bit about backing. I have read great reviews that all seem to say the same things about the band. People are noticing the jangle and the fun; the fact the songs get into the head and stay with you. Maybe it is a northern thing but many have been charmed by the wit and verve of The Lottery Winners. I hope the guys continue down this road and do not let the rather pessimistic and bleak shadow so many are under come their way! I think it is right to look at a song that came out late last year. That’s Not Entertainment points at great things and shows that, with every release, The Lottery Winners are more assured and ambitious.

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The first moments, as I keep saying, of any song are vital and you need to bring people in. They say we tend to turn off and make a decision about a song after only a few seconds. I fear for those who slowly build a song and rely on a listener sticking with things for longer! The Lottery Winners are masterful when it comes to hooking you right away. One gets a nice jangle and spirited swagger to the first few seconds and a declarative vocal that drives the song forward. Strangely, I get impressions of Smash Mouth (their hit, All Star, comes to mind) when listening to the melody and delivery. Maybe the U.S. band was not in the mind of the Manchester clan but we can hear a bit of them. Our hero steps to the microphone and confesses this: nothing on the radio means that much to him. A lot of songwriters have talked about the absence of quality on the radio – including Nelly Furtado – and it is, sadly, a subject that has plenty of ‘inspiration’ – the mainstream has not become much stronger or more varied lately! You wonder whether the song will be an attack on the state of commercial music or whether the band have their tongues firmly in their cheeks. I definitely get a flair of Smash Mouth and, rather than discuss confidence and pumping up the senses, The Lottery Winners look at those who are proferred by big labels and stations. If you are good looking then that does not mean you are better than anyone else. One wonders whether artists like ZAYN and Harry Styles are being revealed: the sort that is quality-lite but have a distinct look and appeal that pre-teen fans love. The song, despite some sharp-tongued directions, is light and has a conversational style. It seems these stars are being taken for fools and are being guided by labels that want a lot of money and do not care about the quality.

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I love the blend of sounds that seems to unite the early days of The Beautiful South but there is a bit of U.S. Rock to be discovered. It is a big and impressive sound and one can understand why so many critics have been raving about The Lottery Winners. The band seem to share the same attitude as me when it comes to talent shows: they are bubblegum and exploit those who want their fifteen minutes and have sob stories to tell. Look at the T.V. schedules and we have inane dance contests on BBC and singing shows all over the place. All of them lure in the lightweight and slight who only have minor talent and do not have the worth and substance to remain and inspire. It is not new attacking these outlets but The Lottery Winners do so in a fresh way. Their always-light and affecting charm means you are never uncomfortable and feel anxious. It is great to hear that catchy and fantastic sound give the song a freshness and audible smile. Balance that against the cynical words that wonder whether there is much treasure to be found on the radio and on the T.V. Maybe The Jam did not have ideas that, years after That’s Entertainment! Was released, there would be this sly retort. I am not sure what the original was inspired by but the music scene has changed since 1980. The static and white noise we are subjected to is getting boring and we are looking around for some light. The band throws in guitar stabs and wonderful accents. It keeps the song alive and appropriately interesting. It would be bad to hear a song that rebels against the bland if the song itself was the same – The Lottery Winners have produced a fine and epic song that gets you pumped. That’s Not Entertainment is a song filled with spritz and excitement. One can stand by the song’s messages and ethics. You will find yourself nodding your head and singing along to a song that brings the fun but conveys a serious message. I wonder whether the messages of That’s Not Entertainment will run off on the artists being accused!

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I have discussed The Lottery Winners from different angles and covered them quite well. I do hope the band put more online regarding their story and make sure they share as many interviews as possible – let’s hope they get mine back to me soon! That’s Not Entertainment is a solid and interesting song I was keen to review and, although a bit late, I wanted to take the time and do it justice. 2019 has not been with us too long but I know the band are planning ahead and seeing what is coming. I do hope there is more music afoot and they take their tracks on the road. I am not sure what they have planned regarding tour dates but they will cover the North and do as much at home as they can. I am looking at this year and seeing what sort of artist will define things. I think The Lottery Winners are worth keeping an eye out for and following. They have a good link with their fans online and they produce a wonderful live show. I would like to see them play further south and I do hope they have quite a few gigs lined up. I am sure there will be an E.P. later in the year and it is an exciting time for them. A lot of artists are making early bids regarding singles but it might be a couple more months before we start seeing big albums arrive. That is a weird thing with music. How many great albums, from history, came out in the first couple of months of the year? It seems like most of the classics, from recent times or the past, arrive later in the year. This is just me musing but I feel The Lottery Winners should be thinking about an attack around March; lining up some dates after that and readying themselves for the festivals. I love what they are putting out right now and, if you have not discovered them, ensure you...

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CORRECT this right away.

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Follow The Lottery Winners

TRACK REVIEW: Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Sharon Van Etten

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Seventeen

 

9.5/10

 

 

The track, Seventeen, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7sTHoeH0eA

ORIGIN:

New York, U.S.A.

GENRES:

Indie-Rock/Alternative

The album, Remind Me Tomorrow, is available from 18th January. Pre-order here:

https://www.roughtrade.com/gb/music/sharon-van-etten-remind-me-tomorrow

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THIS is the first review of the year...

 PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Pfluger

where I am stepping things up and dealing with a big artist. I am not suggesting all subsequent reviews will be like this but I have been keen to explore musicians who have more of a name and I can approach from a different angle. Before I come to review Sharon Van Etten’s latest single, I will talk about a few aspects that are relevant to her. I want to talk about artists who make changes between albums and change dynamics; those whose life situations and developments impact their sound; adding something fresh to the mix and the records that will soundtrack the start of the year – I will end by talking about Van Etten and why we need to follow her more. I am reviewing her album, Remind Me Tomorrow, early next week and am keen to get into that. It is a fantastic album that reveals something new every time you listen to it. Are We There (2014) was the last original album from Van Etten and received fantastic praise. I am looking at the reviews and there is so much love for the record. There is darkness and atmosphere in the record but there is so much beauty as well. Now, on her latest album, you get something else. Van Etten embraces the darker edges but we are seeing some more intimate, sensitive and spirited on Remind Me Tomorrow. I do admire artists that can alternate and evolve and, with Van Etten, life and how she perceives the world has been responsible for this change. I will talk about that in a bit but think it is interesting when you get these established artist who do move forward. It would be easy for her to repeat her previous album and stick on that same course. Given the critical reaction and how that album was received, one would forgive her for repeating what happened before. It is good to see a big artist take steps and go in a new direction.

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Those familiar with Van Etten’s work will not see something radical and foreign: it is very much the same artist you love but with new additions to the sound. She is very much embracing the present on Remind Me Tomorrow and it urges the listener to explore their deep emotions – tenderness, bravery and a special fortitude. I wonder where she will head from here and how quickly we will get a follow-up. Look back at Van Etten’s catalogue and you can see and hear something fresh with every album. I do feel like many ignore that need for development and alteration. I do get bored with acts who feel it is okay to do the same things every time and not really stretch their imagination. Look at the choices out there and what you can do – why do so many stick with a rigid style and repeat what they have already done? Sharon Van Etten has been in the business for a very long time and can be forgiven for doing things her own way; sticking with a single style and not really venturing far from that. Her latest album does not abandon what we love her for but it reflects changes in her life and different emotions. We get to hear an artist who has written and recorded in a different way and someone taking a leap. That might sound a gamble but, with everything Van Etten does, there is that authority, assuredness and confidence. I love Remind Me Tomorrow and, judging by some reviews already through, people back that up. Van Etten is keen to investigate avenues and ideas not put down on record before and, as new life has come into hers, she has created a record that, although dark in places, is more emotive reflective and embracing. She wants listeners to feel what she feels and immerse themselves in the music. We are seeing the songwriter open a new chapter and, from what I have heard of Remind Me Tomorrow so far, all of these amendments have led to a wonderful revelation.

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Let us look at Van Etten and how her life has changed since her last record. She wrote her new album whilst pregnant and a lot of it was written in scraps and between spare moments. Life has definitely been different the last couple of years and Van Etten, when expecting her child, expressed her fears about raising a child in New York. New York is a wonderful city and somewhere you can fall in love with easily. I always associate it with the single life or not having any commitments. We all hear about the danger and crowds in New York; the way it is hard to get around and how uncertain things can be. Throw in the noise and rush and you have a lifestyle that might be best for those without children. That said, Van Etten spoke to Katherine Dieckmann whilst she was in school and she (Dieckmann) has lived there the past thirty years. She and her husband lived across the hall from one another and they made things worked. She assured Van Etten that things would be fine and she would be great. Maybe Van Etten will not be in New York for thirty years – I can see her moving to L.A. at some point – but it seems like she can make it work out fine. I feel these feelings and concerns have affected her album. I think the title of her latest album came from a simple source: clicking on those prompts that say ‘remind me tomorrow’ when running computer updates. She kept clicking on that and, in many ways, that sense of not having time for small things enforced the album. You get a feeling Van Etten was dealing with her pregnancy but she was busy with other stuff. That is not to say the record is rushed or insincere but it was recorded in a different situation to previous offerings. I love the sense of urgency but, given her pregnancy, there is that wondering of the future and some maternal urgings.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Pfluger for @TheCut

I will talk about Van Etten exploring other talents and putting down the guitar later but, when writing and making Remind Me Tomorrow, she worked alongside John Congleton. He suggested that the mood of the album is more upbeat and forward than inward and reflective. Instead of producing a record that looks at fears and the unsure nature of New York and new motherhood; these concerns have been fed through a bright prism and we have an album that has upbeat energy and a great vibe. Van Etten knew she had to work with a producer and approach her music in a different way. She gave Congleton music by Nick Cave and Portishead as guidance. Maybe we do not get as many elements from them as past Van Etten albums but you can hear them in there. What Congleton did was to bring fresh light and idiosyncrasies from Van Etten’s music and take her sound in a new direction. You can hear new light and love in the album. Van Etten has embraced new passions and lines when writing the album and all of this comes through. It is hard to describe the biggest changes through the years but is clear something fresh had to come into the mix. The fact she was expecting a child and realised life would be different could have resulted in a fearful and reflective album. Instead, we can hear excitement and a longing for the future. We do get some sadder and more insular cuts but the abiding mood is of an artist who is refreshed and approaching music differently. I will come to her latest single, Seventeen, in a bit because it is a song that struck my ear the first time I heard it! You can hear Van Etten, on her album, talk to her new son about the world and present something positive for him. She was tearful writing love songs and took a maternal approach to her messages: making her child feel like everything would be fine and putting a positive spin on it all.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Jody Rogac for The New York Times

This is humbling to hear and has led to the most emotional, tender and uplifting album she has produced. I think she was getting into a headspace where she relied on the guitar and had writer’s block. She was writing music for Strange Weather and naturally had the guitar with her. It got to the stage where she could not get past a certain sound and was feeling a little constrained. Instead of becoming frustrated, she turned to organs and synths. She was sharing a studio with someone who had these instruments and was inspired. That score took a new life but, when it comes to Remind Me Tomorrow, it gave her a new lease. This is the first time in a while Van Etten has approached a new sonic direction and used different instruments. All of her records are busy but the guitar has been the focal point. It can be hard when you have reached this stage and cannot take a sound any further. Rather than getting frustrated and defeatist; Van Etten found that impetus and has moved her music in a new direction. I love what she is doing at the moment and it seems like she has this new guide and influence. Many other artists can learn from her and I would like to see more try something new and be inspired by something else. So many acts do get into a rut and they seem to churn out the same record every time. This means we get bored and everything is predictable. I feel Van Etten has seen that life is not the same and she will have to look at the world differently. Because of that, the themes on Remind Me Tomorrow are not the same as As We Are; the tones have a new life and we get a more positive and fulsome sound. I shall move on and come to the final topic.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Leah Woliansky

I have already mentioned Dieckmann already. Van Etten composed the score for Strange Weather. The two worked together and, when writing music for Dieckmann’s film, it cleared her mind and influenced what would come on Remind Me Tomorrow. Van Etten also brought her music to the stage for David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks. A lot has been happening but I feel the multiple outlets and projects have made her latest record stronger. Van Etten has got the chance to experience different settings and styles; she has composed film music and been given some sage advice but a director. All of this got into the mind and compelled the U.S. songwriter to tackle her music differently. I think Remind Me Tomorrow is an album of 2019. There was a lot of anger around in 2018 and that is understandable enough. We saw a lot of division and stress and artists were keen to make sense of this all. I do feel like there was too much negativity and anger circling around. Music needs to be honest and open but we need it to lift people and elevate their mood. If you are always listening to music that gets you down or angry then it has a big impact on your mental-health. I feel music in 2019 is going to be more positive and have that determination to lift the listener. I am excited to see what comes but feel Remind Me Tomorrow is a sign of what is happening. I do want music to reflect a strength and courage of fortitude. I am a bit tired of hearing so many anxious records and people who are angry. What annoys me is this feeling that anxiety and anger is commercial and what people want to hear. We want to listen to music and feel better; get our mind elevated and our imagination opened. Van Etten is doing this and I think she is leading a new direction for 2019.

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 IMAGE CREDIT: @WSJMag

There is an anxiety in the album and a feeling or tension but it does not define things. Rather than lean on that fear and uncertainty, we have an artist who is definitely looking ahead and wanting to embrace a new feeling. She has a new child so did not feel it was right to pen an album that is all sadness and fears. Music has the power to change lives and make thing everything sound alright. I want artists to realise this in 2019 and make music that is forward-looking and uplifting. Maybe it is ambitious to think everyone will go this way but I have hopes things will change. The world is getting more tense and divided so music can fill a gap and get us all in a better mood. Van Etten has crafted an album that does open its heart and show some fear but there is light and a sense that everything will be okay. This is good to hear and I hope other artists feel inspired. A lot has happened in her life, as I have mentioned, and all of this comes out in the album. I am excited to see where Van Etten heads now and how the next couple of years will affect her. It is a big time for her and I think her new projects and parental responsibilities will impact the music. I better investigate Seventeen and get down to things. I got a sense of what Remind Me Tomorrow would be like when hearing Van Etten’s single, Comeback Kid. That set the tone and gave us a flavour of how this album would be different. Seventeen carries that sound on and provides a lot of intrigue and interest. I will stop my nattering and get involved with the song – one of the strongest Van Etten has crafted in a while.

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The video is worth watching alongside the song because we see Van Etten in New York and her being tracked. It opens with the buzz of the city and her on a staircase outside. It is an intriguing start and, before a note is delivered, you sort of get a real insight into her world and the beating heart of the city. Seventeen is very much beats-led. The song has that taut and tough beat that gets under the skin and drives you forward. The sound has a positive vibe to it and physicality but one hears the heroine talk about people who are all the same. These people are being led astray and knowing something they don’t. Maybe, given the title, it is about age and naivety – perhaps someone thinks they are grown up and they have mastered life. Perhaps there is political naivety and the feeling of what is happening in the U.S. right now. One can interpret the lyrics as a shot against those who profess to have wisdom and one gets a feeling that inexperience and arrogance are at work. It becomes clear that Van Etten is talking about herself and the younger years. Casting her mind back to her teenage times, she used to be halfway up the street and life was very different. I have discussed Van Etten and how motherhood has changed things. She is not who she used to be and life has taken a turn. That is no bad thing at all. Rather than see the past and free times as a better state and place to return to, Van Etten feels more educated and wise now. There is this figure – whether a friend or family – that used to be like her. Maybe the younger heroine was sad and low; they were looking for answers and chasing life. Van Etten acts as the older and more aware narrator who can see herself in someone else.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Leah Woliansky

I did wonder whether it was Van Etten talking to her younger self or she was directing her words at a friend. It is clear past experiences and Van Etten’s teenage years are acting as a guide to this person. In the video, we see Van Etten climbing chain fences and standing to camera. A younger version of her (Rachel Trachtenburg) is looking at camera and the fascination builds. I kept wondering whether it was a message to her younger self. It seems, as Van Etten talks about growing and how life was…it is a message to who she was. Van Etten wishes she could go back and tell her seventeen-year-old self that things will get better and influence her. Maybe the younger Van Etten was impulsive and not sure what to do. She would flitter, to an extent, and was unsure about the world. I like the video and how it cuts between Van Etten looking solemn and stern and the young actor who plays her teenage self – moving in a taxi and looking through the window. May be Van Etten is trying to lose her shadow or forget about who she was. It is hard to determine whether there is regret about who she used to be or whether there are general fears in her head. Seventeen is a busy song that has a big sound and definitely projects energy. The percussion drives the song through and you are hooked by the waves and punch of the track. I was invested from the very start and could hear something fresh from Van Etten. I had heard Comeback Kid before and it seems like the new Van Etten sound is one that gets the blood hot and the mind opened. Even though there is some looking back and uncertainty in the song, you feel like the heroine is looking forward and is in a better place. We all look at our younger self and wonder how far we have come.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Dusdin Condren

You can detect some squalling sounds in the back and electronic influence but it is not as guitar-led as past songs. I love the new synths and electronics that seem to offer new burst and fire. Seventeen is quite an intense song but not one that weighs you down. It is inspiring listening to Van Etten cast back and see who she used to be. That mystery starts to grow. When talking to her young self, Van Etten says that there were fears. When she was young, she felt like she would turn into the adult she is now. Whether that means more fearful and less free, I am not sure. We learn that the rebellious Van Etten would skip around and how a lack of care. She would gamble and had a sense of liberty. Maybe growing up means having to give that up and assume some responsibility. Van Etten is a mother and cannot do what she used to do when she was a teenager. Perhaps that feeling is rather sobering and I do wonder whether there is a part of Van Etten that wants to return to that world. She has a great life but that need to cut loose and be free once in a while is in her heart. Life is good now and you cannot remain on the same course all of the time. I love the power of the song and how much emotion Van Etten projects. Her voice is as strong and potent as ever and it seems like the subject matter of Seventeen means a lot. In the video, Van Etten looks across at her young image at a train station and it provokes some emotion. I still wonder whether Van Etten wants a bit of her old life back but you get a real hit when seeing a younger Van Etten with a suitcase look at who she is now – sharing that look and seeing what the future would be. By the end of the song, you wonder whether these words to the past Van Etten have been taken to heart and she will realise how life has changed. I like how there is a mystery and listeners can decide whether Van Etten is excited to be where she is or yearns to be who she was. I think she is in a great space now and wants to let her young self know it will be okay and you will be more grounded.

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I have spoken a lot about Sharon Van Etten and how life has changed for her in the past year or so. She has a new son and has been busy with various projects. Situated in New York, I wonder how the setting will direct her next album and whether she will remain put. It seems like the city feeds her and is a perfect environment to test her material, get ideas and collaborate. Keep an eye on her social media channels for tour news and what is coming next. I do hope Van Etten can come to the U.K. and play here very soon. There is a lot of love for her and the demand will be huge. Even though her album, Remind Me Tomorrow, is not out for six days; people have been reviewing it and the feeling is positive. Critics have noted the stylistic shift and the fact there are different tones/subjects inspiring things. I have been following her work for a while and can see these changes. It is good to see Van Etten walking in a different way and it seems like she is excited about the future. Maybe there was some doubt about remaining in New York with a child but it seems like the people are in her blood. I can imagine things being hectic in 2019 and I wonder whether she’ll do any more film work and composing. Maybe there will be collaborations but it is clear her diary is going to be busy! I love Seventeen and it is one of the best singles of the year so far. That might sound like a half-compliment but Van Etten is a masterful songwriter who continues to make incredible music. It is hard to think of an artist like her: one who has not really put a foot wrong and continues to grow. She could have easily repeated the past for her latest L.P. but has come in and done something fresh.

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I am thrilled to see her venture into new territory and find new motive. When she hits the road and brings the music to the people, there will be a big reaction. Her live shows are great and she always puts in a huge performance. I will end things now and let you all get on but it is good to see Van Etten with a new album. It has been a busy time and many would have felt fatigued by all of it. Instead of being weighed and affected, we have an album that combines all of these times and filters it into exceptional music. Seventeen is a cracking song and one that I will continue to listen to. These are early days regarding the best albums of 2019 but I think Van Etten has made a big statement. Make sure you listen to Remind Me Tomorrow and follow Van Etten. There is news and developments coming out all of the time and little time to rest. She is looking out to the world and keen to get her album to the people. Maybe the writer’s block and new motherhood would have drained her or led to an album that is uninspired and bad: instead, we have one of her best records and a great new addition to her cannon. Take a listen to the record and drink in every track. I have heard it and can feel this revitalised and repurposed artist looking to the future. One gets some fear and doubts but there is a lot of light, life and positivity to be heard right through Remind Me Tomorrow. I have spun Seventeen a few times and am discovering fresh stuff every time. It is a great song and one that proves Van Etten is one of the finest songwriters around. Make sure you listen to this brilliant song  - and her fantastic album (pre-order it) – and start your day…

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Leah Woliansky

WITH a real spark.

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Follow Sharon Van Etten

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TRACK REVIEW: allusinlove - All Good People

TRACK REVIEW:

 

allusinlove

All Good People

 

9.5/10

 

The track, All Good People, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoCiTQCVImg

ORIGIN:

Leeds, U.K.

GENRE:

Alternative

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The E.P., allusinlove, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/4q7aSxhn8fl5qvabivScyH?si=IIVJWtxyTgSMlbthcbthTw

RELEASE DATE:

30th November, 2018

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AS I bring in some new rules for my blog...

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it is already proving quite tricky. I am turning away those with no/small Twitter following and those who I have already featured before. In a big to get more traffic and take things more seriously, I am looking at bigger artists and trying to get noticed by bigger publications/radio stations. I figure, after seven years, if you are doing the same thing you did a few years ago then you are not really taking leaps or improving. Every music creative and journalist should grow and become more ambitious as time goes on. It may sound like a diversion but it leads me to a band whose previous incarnation, allusondrugs, I am familiar with. They have dropped the third syllable and replaced it: they are now called allusinlove. It is a more mellow and positive name and one that translates to stronger music. I am excited to feature the band because they had a big and successful end to 2018. I have been following the members for a few years and charting their progression. I will talk about their sound and connection and also mention Leeds; I will recommend allusinlove as a band to watch out for in 2019 and talk about those acts that seem to ooze star quality and something sensational. I wanted to review allusinlove because of their rather accelerated and raw sound. I have been looking out at the music landscape and not seeing that many bands emerging. Maybe it is the way things are going now but there is not a lot of room for bands. Look at the mainstream now and it is dominated by solo artists. Check out the best albums from 2018 and most of them were made by bands. The story is a different one in the underground. I am seeing some great groups limbering up and providing some incredible music. What is missing a lot from these new bands is something physical and electric. So many artists are doing Electro and Pop – what has happened to all the great Rock and Alternative bands?!

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I feel, once upon a time, there were a lot of great bands who got under the skin and made the blood boil. It was a long time ago now and things have changed quite a bit. Maybe that seems a bit daunting when it comes to allusinlove but they are providing something sensational and fresh. They are one of a few bands who are offering the sort of sound I grew up around. It is not quite Grunge and it is not quite Rock. I suppose you can call it ‘Alternative’ but, whatever you call it, it is an incredible brew. I feel more bands are coming through in the underground but not as many as I’d like. How long ago was it when we had the mainstream filled with great groups who provided anthems and meaty gems? It has been a long time and I would like to see a return to that state. Allusinlove make me hopeful because they have a tight connection and they have reinvented themselves since the early days. I am not suggesting we overhaul the scene so solo artists are replaced by bands but I think it is imbalanced at the moment. I do feel bands such as allusinlove have the promise to transcend into the mainstream and create some waves. I shall move on in a second but I have been wondering why bands have taken less influence over the past few years. Maybe it is the way music is going but there is something you get from bands like allusinlove that you cannot get from solo artists. The sheer presence, drama and connection you get it fantastic and thrilling. There is so much going on in the allusinlove camp and it looks like they will have a very successful 2019. I think their chemistry and friendship is a reason why their music pops and explodes.

Think about the greatest bands out there and how they make an impact. You love their songs because they have quality and addictiveness but it is the bond between the members that makes the music as solid and nuanced. I have heard a lot of groups that seem connected on paper but there is something lacking when you listen to the music. I know how tough it is being in a band and the commitment needed to make things last is huge. The greatest new bands in the underground have been performing a while and they have that sense of trust. For bands to succeed and last they need to have that mutual respect and that love within the ranks. I know allusinlove have been through a lot and have endured; they have a real connection and understanding and you know they all want to be together. I can tell how close they are when I listen to the music. A lesser band would sound a bit sloppy and be going through the motions. It may seem like an odd subject to mention but I think a reason why bands are less popular than they were years ago is because it is tough to maintain that bond. Maybe people feel more connected to solo artists and think their music is more personal and revealing. I think it is unfair bands are given less consideration because, as you can hear from allusinlove, they open up and provide real truth in their music. I am hopeful, this year, things will change and we will get more of a balance. I am glad allusinlove are making music and it is good to have the Yorkshire clan showing how it should be done. I am glad I get to focus on a group outside of London and feature a different part of the world in this segment.

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I have been featuring a lot of London acts because, let’s be fair, most of the bigger names emerging are from the capital. I am trying to change things this year and feature other areas of the world as much as I can. The reason why I love allusinlove is because they are a Leeds-based band and proud to be from there. They will get plenty of demand from London and have a chance to perform here but they are in no rush to move along and relocate. I have been feeling the scene has been lacking diversity and too many eyes have been the way of London. I have always loved cities like Leeds because there is a great range of sounds coming from there and a different way of working. The ethos and philosophy of Leeds is to encourage those artists who bring something genuinely new to the plate. Through the years, I have been looking at what Leeds has to offer and been amazed. From Electro-Swing and Pop to Folk and Grime; I have discovered so much wonder and eclectic spirit from Leeds. I have stated how it is hard to categorise allusinlove and they do not seem to easily fit into slots. That is good because I feel so many bands are too easy to peg and give too much away. Although the boys are honest and revealing through their songs; they never tip their hat too much and there is some mystery in the music. I will talk about their music videos in a bit but every single angle is covered by the band. They have this real desire and passion and I am tipping them for big things. I feel the fact they are in Yorkshire and have less stress at their feet means they are able to breathe and create the music they want. One might suggest, in order to succeed and last, they need to fit in with what London requires and expects.

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I think the bands that are turning heads right now are doing their own thing and not necessarily conforming to what London needs. I still think there are too many bands who are playing Pop and Electro so it is good to foster allusinlove. A few years ago, we had albums from Foo Fighters and Royal Blood out but there has been a void since then. I feel a reason why we are not encouraging like-minded bands is because a rather basic sound and lack of intelligence. That is not the case with allusinlove. The boys can sprinkle in something softer and more brooding but, when they create that explosion, they have a depth and smart sound that few possess. Again, that might be as a result of the Leeds education and the way musicians do things up there. I do feel like the Yorkshire city has a different way of working and is creating future stars. It is always tricky predicting whether an act can go all the way but you sense allusinlove are in this for the long haul. I do feel like the boys will need to come to London quite a bit and perform and maybe divide their time between here and Leeds. I am not sure whether they are all based in the city – or they are scattered a bit – but it is clear the influence of Yorkshire is key. It is great seeing this solid and innovative band continue to grow and do great things. They seem happier now than ever and their E.P., which I shall mention at the end, has got a lot of great press. This year has only just begun but I feel allusinlove have their sights set and will have a lot of gigs up their sleeves. I shall move on to a different topic but I feel Leeds and Yorkshire are producing some of the most interesting and original artists around. I think more media eyes should look the way of Yorkshire.

I have been looking around for the artists that can make a splash this year and which ones will remain and inspire. I think allusinlove will continue to impress and compel because they seem to have been reborn and reinvigorated. Their long-standing friendships and experience means they know what the music industry requires and how to navigate it. They have a committed fanbase but are drawing in new fans and followers. I think this year is going to be more accommodating and open to bands. Last year was very much about solo artists and encouraging what was happening in the mainstream. I think the underground will take more of a stand and greater influence. It is humbling seeing so many great artists come through and show they have the potential to sustain. What strikes me is how much more varied and promising the underground is compared to the mainstream. I think allusinlove are a band who have a few similar-sounding peers but nobody has quite the same magic as them. I do think we will see some changes come through regarding tastes and who gets focus. 2018 was very much about solo artists and a confessional style of music. A lot of the biggest albums looked at the world around us and what was happening – quite truthful and raw when you think about it. I think 2019 will be more about a sense of escape and putting energy back into the mix. I feel truth and observation will still play its part but people want music that makes them feel better; a way of being able to distract their mind whilst discovering great new talent at the same time. Allusinlove have the components to succeed and seem to be primed for longevity. I am a big fan of theirs and feel the music they are putting out right now is the strongest so far. One can expect the Yorkshire band to get stronger and keep releasing music in 2019.

I have talked about star quality and the sort of sounds that will flourish this year. Another reason why I feel allusinlove will be a success is because of their connection and style. They are a photogenic and captivating band – their lead, Jason, has long been compared to Kurt Cobain in terms of looks and, whilst it is a bit annoying, it does him favours – that seem already primed for success. Not that image is the main thing but the band knows that cool photos and fascinating images will catch the eye and keep people invested. I think a lot of artists ignore the need for good images and projecting personality. You do not need to listen to a note of allusinlove’s music to know they will appeal and pull you in. I look at their photos and there is cheekiness and humour. They have a love of the camera and they can certainly catch the eye. I love the way they can catch the eye and have this great visual spread. I have tried to include as many great photos as I can in this review and there will surely be more this year. The more artists that come into the scene, the more people need to be aware of what it takes to endure and impress. It is important having a great sound that stays in the mind but you need to think about image, online attention and nuance. If you can tick all of these off of the list then you are making a big leap. I feel a lot of artists ignore fundamental considerations and it makes it hard to remember them. No such danger with allusinlove as they have been in the business long enough to know what the people need. This year will be an interesting one for music and I feel we will see a lot of changes. I am predicting some big things and I feel like bands, as mentioned, will take more of a stand. There is a definite place for allusinlove at the top of the scene and I think they will take some big steps.

All Good People is the opening track from the allusinlove E.P. and gets things off to a flyer! The guitars wind and strike and spar with percussion. It is almost like a fighter winding their arm up and delivering a punch; an elastic band winding and snapping. It is an interesting beginning as I was expecting the band to strike and come out of the traps with teeth showing. Instead of doing that, they take their time and concentrate more on emotion and pace. Lesser acts would needlessly strike and produce something frantic and aimless. Instead, the band snake and wind like professionals. You are subverted and your mind is not ready for what they bring forward. There is scorching riffing and a chunky coda that sounds classic and familiar. Although the band has come up with something fresh, you get elements of Classic Rock and some of the best sounds from the past. Again, they focus on melody and mood and create something sensational. You are nodding the head and the body is primed for something exceptional. It is hard to get over the riffs and how catchy the song is. It has a simplicity and foot-stomping charm – watch the video to get a real sense of how the band look when strutting their stuff – that instantly gets into the head and makes you smile. The fact All Good People is so catchy and instant means you will come back time and time again. The band is not just interested in riffs and leaving the lyrics alone. When the hero comes to the microphone, he talks about a girl’s body and how it makes him feel happy. Alongside the simple and effective riff, we have these lyrics that appear quite basic on the surface. To start with, there is this simplicity but things grow and spread. If you thought sophistication and Bob Dylan-like words were going to come through then you will be a bit disappointed. The allusinlove boys are talking about the pleasure and electricity of passion and sex.

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In terms of vocal sounds, you get a whiff of Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl’s tones. That is no bad thing as it adds a masculine and raw quality to the song. Our man is in a good place and, whether he is seducing or in the grip of passion, he is loving the situation. The girl’s body makes him feel good and our hero is keen to express his fondness. The man wants to get down and dirty and not leaving anything to the imagination. I have been listening to a lot of artists who are talking about politics and the state of nation so it is good to see a bit of a change. Allusinlove are keeping it close to the bone and not leaving much to the imagination. Whilst the band perform their riffs and let the beats roll; our hero is laying down his rap and telling the girl what he wants. I have mentioned how there is something classical about the band and the way they put you in mind of the giants of Rock. It is rare to hear a band like allusinlove that can create these great riffs and pen songs that instantly get into the head. The chemistry and connection between the members shows and you have this intense and tight song. I doubt there is much mystery behind the song but it is not made clear regarding the identity of the heroine. What I love is how there is this simple charm and you do not have to think too much. The band, crucially, has written a fun song and make sure the listener is put in a better mood. The chorus is a series of chants – of the song’s title – that finds the lead letting his voice scream in celebration. Through every stage, All Good People keeps the spirits high and the pecker even higher.

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This is the type of track that would do very well live and can translate from smaller stages to festivals. I know it is a track that will serve the band well and go down a storm with the crowds. There is a bit of Grunge in what they do but it is more Alternative in tone. I am reminded of some 1990s giants and the titans who pushed the scene forward. What strikes me hardest about All Good People is its confidence and memorability. It can take years longer for bands to get to the same stage as allusinlove. Their new name seems to embody their approach to music. They want peace, love and sex to reign and do not want negativity in their world. This is quite a rare approach from an artist and I would like to see more of in 2019. Whether you are a new fan of allusinlove or not; make sure you get behind them and check out their work. I would urge people to check out their eponymous E.P. but, if you need a great starting place, investigate All Good People. It seems to be their mantra and messages that define them. It may seem like there is a crudeness and juvenile attitude in their minds but, in reality, they are promoting simplicity, sexual freedom and fun. It is great to see this from a band and, as long as it is not too cheap and vulgar, then I say let it blossom. The sheer fun and kinetic energy you get from the track stays in the brain and it is impossible to forget about those catchy riffs and the incredible lead performance. All the aspects and sides blend together marvellously and lead to a fine song. I just know allusinlove will be a huge name and they will continue to grow. You owe yourself to get behind the boys and show them some love. They are an exciting band who, I feel, will make a lot of headway this year. If you do not believe me then sit down with All Good People and let it get inside the head. It is a fantastic song I will definitely getting to know a lot better today.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Haris Nukem

I have looked at All Good People and really love its video. The allusinlove boys have produced a cracking song and showing what they are made of. I have experienced few bands like them and I feel their original angle will serve them well. Their new E.P., allusinlove, is four tracks of raw energy and goodness that gets into the head and bangs around the brain. I love the E.P. and feel like it is one of the best from 2018. The guys will be keen to play as much as possible and promote their latest work. I am not sure what 2019 looks like for them but I know there will be dates around Yorkshire and their favourite haunts. I expect London will come calling and would not be shocked to see them playing some of the best joints in London. There are venues that would love to see them perform and I know the capital will get right behind the band. The Leeds clan have been playing together long enough to know what the scene wants and they are responding emphatically. I will end things soon but urge people to listen to their eponymous E.P. It is the time of year when we start to look around for the artists who will remain and compel. You can add allusinlove to the list of artists who are going to go a long way. The chemistry within the band is incredible and they have a lot of love for one another. This sense of brotherhood and understanding makes the music so strong and fascinating. You know they want to keep making music together for years and that faith is what brings people in. I hope I have covered the band well and presented them in their best light. Where do they go from here?

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I have suggested there will be gigs around the country but I feel like international dates could come their way. Look at bands like IDLES and how well they are doing right now. I know they are in the mainstream but I feel the reason why people want to see the band play is because of the energy they project and how well they translate on the stage. I know allusinlove have a similar rawness and spellbinding show. I think they would be a popular option around the world and do very well. Let’s look even further and see where the band might be in a few years. I have seen their sound change and things get stronger. I think the boys will be in the mainstream in a few years and can rub shoulders with groups like IDLES. I shall not get too ahead of myself but I am excited by allusinlove and what they are throwing out into the world right now. Let’s end things here now but make sure you get involved with their new work and follow them on social media. They are armed for success and durability and can make people genuinely excited about bands again. I am not suggesting we are out of love with bands but there is this dominance of solo artists. I do hope things shift and there is more equality in 2019. Ensure you have allusinlove in your regular rotation and follow them closely. I am predicting some great things for them and know they have the ammunition to flourish. Have a look at this incredible band and immerse yourself in their world. I understand there are some great bands emerging but not have the same energy and passion...

THAT allusinlove provides.    

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Follow allusinlove

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TRACK REVIEW: Kelli-Leigh - Nothing More

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Kelli-Leigh

Nothing More

 

9.6/10

 

 

The track, Nothing More, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32USGv4YZLA&feature=youtu.be

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

13th December, 2018

GENRES:

Electronic/R&B

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I am looking around for new artists to look at this year...

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and I am seeing what will define 2019. Before I come to look at Kelli-Leigh and what she is doing right now; I want to look at those who are stars in the making and have a definite confidence about them; sounds that have the soulfulness and R&B styles of the past days with some modern threads; getting to know the person behind the music (through social media); which way music can go this year – I will end by talking about Kelli-Leigh and what she can achieve. I have been searching for artists who have legs and those that can go a long way. Last year was pretty good in terms of new music but I still left it feeling there were fewer long-lasting artists in my mind. Maybe it is the lack of energy in the music or something missing but I was hoping 2019 would start with a bang. Although the Kelli-Leigh song I am going to feature is from later last year, I feel the songwriter is one of those names that can go a very long way. There are a few different aspects and elements that mark her out for longevity. I think music in 2019 needs to show more spirit, physicality and durability than it did in 2018. A lot of artists managed this but so many were quite slow, inward-looking and dour. I was left a little cold at times and searching for something deeper. Kelli-Leigh has her moments where she turns the light inward but you get a lot of confidence and physicality that stays in the mind. I am excited about her and feel she has a lot more to say. You get an artist who can project something extraordinary and nuanced and is not chasing the commercial dollar. She has a fantastic sense of her own self and how to bring that to the page. As opposed some artists out there, Kelli-Leigh is a bold and catchy artist who can pen these instant and original songs.

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I will move on to another subject soon but I want to stay here for a bit. Kelli-Leigh has already worked with the likes of Duke Dumont and Jax Jones and has been able to fuse her voice with some great artists. It is early days for her but I have every hope she will go a long way. There is a lot of great material in her locker but I think Kelli-Leigh stands out because she has that confidence and attachment to the material. She pops from the speakers and you buy everything she is putting out. I love her ability to sparkle and to pop; to get out of the traps fast but showcase so many emotional strands. Her music might sound simple on the surface but there is a lot working away. Many songwriters come across simple and have only a limited amount of imagination and ammunition. When you listen to Kelli-Leigh, one feels this complete artist who can step into different moulds and areas and shine. At the moment, the music she is putting out mixes Electronic and R&B sounds but I know she can succeed in other genres. It would be great to think an E.P. is on its way and we get all these different sides coming out. It is complex explaining what makes a star and how one remains but I can feel it when listening to Kelli-Leigh. The fact she has such affinity for what she is singing and writing in a different way to her peers means you get an original and unique artist. I can see the songwriter carrying down the same lines as she is now but building in other genres and sounds into her mix. If you are looking for someone who can get into the blood and bounces around the memory then Kelli-Leigh is an artist you need to get behind. It may be near the start for her but there are good days ahead.

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Kelli-Leigh has that star quality and confidence working well and she has a focused style that has plenty of potential. It is hard to properly define the styles Kelli-Leigh plays but you can hear some classic R&B and Soul alongside more modern Electronic. I am not a huge fan of Electronic music in general and heard a lot of it in 2018. It is nothing against the genre but I feel so many modern artists are leaning on it and it seems to be all anyone can say. Kelli-Leigh only uses brief elements and suggestions of Electronic: her main arsenal is reserved for something smoother, more dynamic and spirited. I can hear R&B from the 1990s and, when listening to her, one gets snatches of the strongest girl groups and female songwriters of the decade. I am a big fan of the 1990s and the best that came out there and Kelli-Leigh seems to evoke the best of the time. There are a lot of great female solo artists around but very few that are doing what Kelli-Leigh is. I love how, on Nothing More, she brings together the sassiest and most spirited elements of R&B and a smoother Soul; some Pop crackle and undertones of Electro. I think the mixture of new and old is a reason why she succeeds. The lyrics and themes are important and get into the head but the sonic blends really make you move. One can get a real blast of nostalgia and something classic but it all hangs around a current and fresh outer-shell. I feel, in 2019, I will move away from a lot of what I reviewed last year and embrace something fresh. Kelli-Leigh represents the best of the new breed emerging right now. She has her own identity and way of working but you can hear little bits of her influences alongside that. Another thing that captures my imagination is how she can bring people into the songs and make them feel like they are part of it.

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I have been thinking about 2019 and which artists will make an impression. Last year saw a lot of great new Pop artists emerge and there was a lot happening. I look back and, when thinking about the sounds and very best, there was something missing. I feel it is hard to please everyone in music but there has been a bit of an R&B/Soul gap that I am keen to fill. Maybe others will come through but I love what Kelli-Leigh is doing and will follow her very closely. I should move on now but am impressed by what she is doing and how her music makes you feel. I can listen to a song of hers and the blood bubbles; the head spins and the imagination goes into overdrive. She can put so much into a song and leave you wanting more. That is rare to find in an artist and something that should be encouraged. Kelli-Leigh has moved out of the shadows and working with other artists to work on her own and shine. She has picked up a lot and learned from them; bringing those experiences into what she does and letting her voice reign. I can see how fully-formed she is and how hungry she is. There is something in her music that seems destined to rule the airwaves and last for a very long time. It is hard, as I say, to put a finger on it but I am very excited. The year has only just begun but I feel there are going to be some artists who shine from the outset and define what the year is about. Kelli-Leigh has high hopes and is an ambitious songwriter. What do we require from artists and what makes them last in the memory? Do we want someone who fits in with the crowd or those who stand aside? Everyone has their own mind and tastes but I think those who make a big impression in 2019 will do their own thing and not copy what is already around.

Kelli-Leigh, as I said, seems to evoke some of the best of the past but she manages to stir her own potion and do her own thing. It is not only her original sounds and mind that stands out but it is the way she connects with fans on social media. It may not seem like an important factor but I think artists need to create brilliant songs and be active on social media. So many acts from last year left me a bit cold because they were inactive on social media and were not as busy as you’d hope. I am not suggesting everyone post something every day but one wants to build a relationship with the musician. You get a bit of their personality in the music but I look to platforms like Twitter and get another sense of who the artist is. Kelli-Leigh keeps her fans updated and posts regularly. You get her latest news and what is happening with her music but you also get a sense of the woman behind the music. I feel artists are becoming less and less tangible and harder to pin down. Kelli-Leigh amazes me with her vitality, personality and charm. You get a real sense of the complete artist when you look at her social media. There is a lot more to learn about Kelli-Leigh and that will come from more music. One of the reasons I mention social media is because building that relationship with the artist is key. I felt, last year, I was less connected to musicians than I was previously. Many whose sounds I loved didn’t have much of an online presence and that left me a bit odd. Those who had a better presence left something out of the music and there were very few that seems to have both worlds working well. We have this great platform available and I feel many artists are not utilising it the way we should.

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I will come to the final subject in a bit but I want to stay with social media and uniting that with the music. I am turning away a lot of requests for reviews and interviews because the artist is not on Twitter or they do not have much of an online look. I think, in order to recruit fans and resonate, one must consider the Internet and building that bond. Kelli-Leigh keeps her fans abreast and lets you into her world. You get personal details and posts; updates regarding her work and a real sense of who the artist is. Maybe the Kelli-Leigh of the music is different to that on social media but I feel like I am a lot closer to her because of her updates and information. Many accuse social media of lacking soul and relevance but, in musical terms, it is invaluable and should be considered more highly. I will end this segment but would recommend other artists take more care regarding social media and understand how important curating that relationship is. The musicians I have recalled and remembered from 2018 are those who amazed me with their music and how they took to social media. Maybe it is a personal thing but, with the raft of artists out there, the ones who stand and endure are those who can get into the heart and connect with you. I want to be won over and sold when I listen to the music but, when I seek that artist out on social media, I want to get to know the artist and see where they are headed. So many ignore the importance of keeping active on social media and being as visible as they can. Kelli-Leigh is a different artist and one who combines sensational and fresh music together with a great and fascinating online portfolio. I should move onto Nothing More and what Kelli-Leigh is all about.  

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The opening to Nothing More syncopates and punctuates words. We get a fresh and heavy beat that acts like a solid heartbeat. The heroine sings about this feeling being intoxicating. Rather than rush her words and present them with little thought we get this breathy and passionate delivery that takes care to pronounce every syllable. It is an arresting start that instantly hooks you in and make you think. I caught elements of Aaliyah and Toni Braxton in her voice. That is not meant to lazily compare but you get the same sort of soulfulness and sexuality that these singers projected. Both were renowned for their power and amazing tones and one gets this with Kelli-Leigh. Despite the fact she is a British artist, one hears an American influence in her music. The Electronic genre has been over-used and many artists do not utilise its full force. Kelli-Leigh uses the beats to give that heartbeat and lust and some electronic sounds to project electricity and colour. So many lazily throw together beats but the heroine is using them to highlight a song that is about surrendering to a feeling. It seems like both parties are hesitating and denying this clear feeling that is in the air. Maybe there is a reason behind the hesitation but the time for denial is over. One gets a real sense of sweat and desire. The heroine knows the man thinks about it and wants her. They have been apart and spent time alone; maybe they have found other people or been spending time reflecting. I like the way the words are delivered with punch but there is time and consideration. The pace starts to shift and you get this snaking and erotic charge. Kelli-Leigh has been spending her time in the shadows but she is ready for a change. It seems like the reality of the bond is different to the dream.

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The hero feels them being together would be a mistake and the fantasy is what they are holding onto. Maybe they have tried to be a couple but they have rushed in. Maybe their personalities and desires are different and they are on separate pages. I get the feeling Kelli-Leigh is more invested and wants something longer-term. The hero might be in it for the chase and physical side; perhaps the two of them need time to cool. I have heard a lot of songs about desire and trying to overcome obstacles but none the same as this. Nothing More seems to resonate right away and its title takes on its own meaning. Perhaps all they can ever be is a concept and an apparition. The chorus sees the heroine slink and smoothly wind with the beats. When it comes to delivering her mantra, we get that syncopated and punchy delivery. It is great hearing this sweaty and alluring tongue make the words stick and resound. It is clear she wants something more than is being given and knows the man wants it to. His identity is never revealed but one feels there is a history between them. It is not revealed why they cannot be together but I think both want different things. It is said that the two of them together would be onto a loser and they would not survive. Again, there is mystery as to why they would fail and not gel. There is a clear sexual attraction but one feels the two sweethearts are on different plains. It is interesting hearing the story unfold and listening to the heroine campaign. It is quite rare to find a female artist who knows that things might be a failure but presses ahead regardless. I feel Kelli-Leigh knows there is more to this feeling than sex. She has been in the wilderness for a bit and wants to rectify this.

Maybe she is supposed to be this fantasy and comply with this unrealistic notion. I get breaths of Beyoncé when she sighs and you get the wordless vocals. I also hear bits of Kelly Rowland and, whilst it might be remiss of me to compare her to others I mean it in positive spirit. She takes aspects of classic and iconic singers but shines with her own voice. I like that blend of the original and familiar and it makes the song explode. It is an addictive and instantly memorable cut that you will be singing and remembering for a long time. The beats draw you in and, whilst they are of a similar ilk and one-dimensional, they manage to make their mark and bring the song to life. I love the composition and how you get that balance of electronic smoothness and stiff beats. Our heroine has had her say and I do wonder whether the two will ever get together. I feel they have had this connection in the past but it seems like their divisions are playing a part. They might come from different lives and it is impossible for them to be a couple. I get the sense the hero is playing hard to get a little a bit and might not believe his own words. In any case; we have this song that lays out its story and ambitions. Our heroine feels a little exhausted and wonders what she is supposed to do. You do feel sorry for her and wonder why things cannot work out. The sense I get is of this frustrated woman who knows there is potential but there is this roadblock. Nothing More is an original and fascinating take on frustrated love and trying to overcome differences. I selected this song to review because its video is out and shows a different side to the track. I urge you to watch it and see the star quality Kelli-Leigh has. I feel she will go a very long way and 2019 will be a big year for her. She has not been producing her own music for too long but is already confidence and has her own style. We do not get many artists who have the same voice, textures and magic as Kelli-Leigh. Make sure you follow her and look at what comes next. Here is an artist who seems complete already but has the potential to grow and improve. Nothing More is a fantastic and sultry offering that will get into the head and seduce the senses. Not many artists can accomplish that.

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I think 2019 will be a very busy one for Kelli-Leigh. She shines with star quality and how so much working for her. Not only is she a confidence and passionate artist but the material she is producing has its own skin and energy. Nothing More is a song that has been out a little bit but you only need look at the video to see Kelli-Leigh is a star. There is something about her that gets into the brain and makes you smile. It is hard to describe her sound and what it is but there is that mixture of R&B with Electro. You get a fiery and intense sense of confidence and drive but there are soulful touches and whispers that mix alongside that. The sheer weight, physicality and emotion one gets from her music is overwhelming. I would like to see more material in 2019 and I know Kelli-Leigh will produce some incredible stuff. Maybe it will sound like the stuff she has already put out but Kelli-Leigh is always evolving and developing. I am thrilled to see where she goes from here and what she can come up with. I love what she does because it is original and hard to compare with others but you get a sense of something familiar. That might sound contradictory but it is a satisfying combination that remains in the mind. I think artists this year need to think about social media and music and making sure they are as active as possible. So many songs from 2018 walked alongside the darker and moodier side of the coin and I was left feeling somewhat empty and cold. I can understand the need to project the sense of self and truth but we need music to be more positive and lift the listener. I want to listen to artists who can get into the head and make me feel better. Kelli-Leigh can be introverted and talk about heartache but she specialises in the more seductive, passionate and uplifting side of things.

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Maybe I have laboured long on this subject but I am hopeful this year will be a great one. If artists can take something from Kelli-Leigh and do their own version then I think it will be a richer and more interesting scene. It is early days so it is hard to predict which sounds will define 2019. I feel there will be a move away from straighter Pop and more depressing sounds and a more developed, colourful and physical style of music come to the fore. I will wrap things up but I am impressed by how far Kelli-Leigh has come and what she is about. There is so much that catches the eye and tongue and I am tipping her for big things. That may sound premature but there is a lot working in Kelli-Leigh’s favour. Her fanbase is rising and she has that dedicated support. The music has an instant quality and brilliance and you find yourself repeating her songs. Make sure you follow what she is doing and keeping an eye out. I feel she has an E.P. in her and there are some big gigs ahead. Organisers and promoters will be looking around for artists to fit the bill and play and I feel Kelli-Leigh has that star quality. She might not be headline-ready quite yet but this will not be the case in years to come. I have been following her for a little while and can see how she has grown and matured. I am taken back to a better time when I hear her music and it fills my senses with pleasure. I shall leave things now and round it all up. Kelli-Leigh ended 2018 with a bang and she is getting stronger with each release. Nothing More is a terrific song that has so much life and nuance. You find fresh revelation every time you play it and get a sense of who the artist is. She has the ambition to go a long way and make a big success of herself. That is only a matter of time and, if she keeps on putting material out like this, her name will be…

 PHOTO CREDIT: @aidantobias 

SYNONYMOUS to all.    

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Follow Kelli-Leigh

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TRACK REVIEW: Elder Island - I Fold You

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Elder Island

PHOTO CREDIT: Ash Holdsworth 

I Fold You

 

9.3/10

 

 

The track, I Fold You, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/26lF5mVfDEctMHJFxbvPtc?si=VJLiWLK6SYibUQVqrzhAUQ

ORIGIN:

Bristol, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

28th December, 2018

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The album, The Omnitone Collection, is released on 8th February, 2019. Pre-order here:

https://ffm.to/omintonecollection

GENRES:

Dance/Electronic

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I am still in the...

rather uncomfortable grip of a cold right now - so I hope my words make sense. This is my final review of the year and with a band I am not overly-familiar with. I want to talk about Elder Island but I will chat about Bristol and its scene; artists that are new to me and I have discovered through social media; acts that can vary their aesthetic and have nimbleness for 2019; cross-pollination and how effective that can be. I will look at what 2019 will be like for Elder Island and how far they can go. We often get too obsessed with London and what is happening there and overlook Bristol. I think music has changed the last couple of years and so much of what we are looking and listening to is from outside the capital. I have been listening to a lot of London music the past few years but, more and more, I am discovering really cool stuff elsewhere. I think there is the assumption that London has all the great music and, when you consider all the labels and money here, it is not worth looking elsewhere. This is wrong because, as we can see with Elder Island, Bristol has ample ammunition. I have always loved what has come out of the city and it has always produced epic stuff. Consider all the Trip-Hop music that came from there and incredible bands like Portishead and Massive Attack. In fact, Bristol is responsible for the Trip-Hop movement and was offering something genuinely new to music. The genre is still existent today and evolving every year. We have Bristol and its innovation to thank for that. I think the city does not get the credit it deserves and we overlook all the great music there. IDLES are probably the most successful newish band from Bristol and show how diverse the culture is. I think things have changed from the 1990s and Bristol has become more varied and adaptable. There is still Trip-Hop coming from Bristol but I am discovering wonders from other genres and some great sub-genre work happening.

Maybe the strength of the live scene there means artists are able to flourish and survive. London is seeing a lot of venues close and other areas like Brighton are losing big venues. Bristol is susceptible to the same dangers but it seems the live venues there are safer. The Louisiana, Exchange; the Trinity Centre and The Old Duke are a few different venues that offer platforms to the next big things. I have not been to the city myself but know how much good music is coming from Bristol. It has been this way for decades but I think we often overlook what is emerging from there. If we keep focused on London and follow media guidance – there is still that preference for the capital – then we will not get anywhere. To be fair, things have gotten a little better regarding the imbalance and how the media perceives music’s epicenter. It was the case, not too long ago, when London ruled the roost and other areas did not get a look in. Now, there is still an unfair weight towards London but there is greater awareness of other parts. Elder Island are adding to the rich music scene in Bristol and actually tying together a range of sounds. One gets a little bit of Bristol history in the electronics, beats and experimentation but there are so many other elements to the music. I shall explore that later but I think being based in Bristol is good for them. They have so many talented peers and great venues around them. London can be great but I know hoe suffocating and isolating it can feel. There are more musicians here so it is a little hard discovering how to listen to and getting your voice heard. I can see the balance shifting and think Bristol has a lot to offer right now. Not only do we have great bands like Elder Island making moves but there are some great venues growing and remaining.

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I stated how Elder Island was new to me and I wanted to end this year by looking at a band who I think will do very well. A lot of my recommendations and reviews come from direct contact where artists will get in touch and I will go from there. It is an easy way of discovering music and getting something out there but I have not often stepped away from that and done my own searching. What I have missed is a bit of diversity and change. A lot of what I have featured is good but the sounds are not hugely different. Elder Island’s usual work is very different to their latest track, I Fold You, so this might be a bit of a red herring in terms of who they are. I came across Elder Island through social media and was intrigued to see what they are all about. I have listened to some of their other music and I can see how they have changed and how fresh they appear. Their current track is different to what we will get with their upcoming album, The Omnitone Collection, and that title might be a little ironic. This suggests we will get something very similar and basic in terms of sonic exploration. What the Bristol band will actually provide is a diverse and ever-changing sounds. They have their own sound and identity but songs burst with life and adventure. I will come back to that but I think social media and streaming sites are important when it comes to music discovery. Maybe radio still holds most of the sway and influence – I think so – but you cannot discount the role of social media. Twitter is a great platform for musicians and fans alike and I have found so much cool music there. Elder Island came to me when I was looking at another site’s ‘ones to watch’ list for 2019. Elder Island were included in that and I instantly got to grips with this great band.

Next year, more and more, I am concentrating on artists who are big or at least are making strides in the industry. It has been interesting looking at smaller acts but I think I need to start focusing on acts who are a little further ahead. I am not sure where you’d put Elder Island in the list but the band are definitely capturing the imagination and making some interesting stuff right now. I will come to their latest single in a bit but I am always stunned how much great music I am getting to hear through social media. It is a huge market and it can be really challenging filtering your own tastes and honing it down. I think you have to go in with energy and hear as much as you can; put aside what sounds great and discard the rest. Maybe radio is a more reliable way of getting the music you want into the ears but social media offers great variation and eclecticism. Elder Island instantly struck my ear and I think I will check them out as we head into 2019. I am not sure which other artists will come to mind before next year but I continuously look at social media and discover something exciting every week. This time of year is when many are recommending their tips for 2019 and, of course, that means plenty of possibilities will come through. I am taking note and observing the best new artists who will make impact in 2019 and it is great to hear other people’s viewpoints. I would like to see social media go a bit further a new music site fostered that can concentrate solely on sounds and make it easy for people like me to discover great artists. I do not think we have a site like that where it is all about music and nothing else. You can locate artists based on genre and location and get a news feed that recommends wonderful acts.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Will Pace

I have argued the case for social media but I do wonder whether there needs to be these bespoke sites that are dedicated to music, new and older, where we could go to find fantastic artists. Elder Island would benefit from that exposure and, whilst they have a great fanbase; I feel an extra boost would do them good. Maybe there would be a way of integrating social media and the way we find music there with something concentrated and specialist. It is interesting to ponder but, for now, I think social media is a fantastic method of getting to grips with all the best new music around. The sheer range of artists we discover through social media is staggering and it can be fun seeing all these wonderful acts sparkle. In do not think there will be a huge shift in terms of sounds next year but there will be some changes. I do think certain genres will make their voices heard and there will be greater experimentation at the forefront of music. If you consider the artists coming through and those being tipped for next year; you can get a sense of what the year will be about. Elder Island have a great name and there is so much about them to recommend. I hope I would have discovered Elder Island through radio or other forums but social media allowed me to find them a lot sooner. Considering a website and how useful it would be having a central port; consider all the music websites that deal with reviews and news and putting all that into a single site would make it easy for music lovers to focus. I am going to continue to use social media for music discovery in 2019 and am thankful they have given me another fantastic name in Elder Island. I do wonder, again, whether there is a way of having a site/area of channels like Twitter and Facebook that are dedicated to music and can make it simple to get behind the best of the old and new.

 PHOTO CREDIT: David Thomas Smith

One of the reasons why I was attracted to Elder Island is because of their eclectic spirit and the way they fuse sounds. Reviewers have noted how the band mix myriad keys, guitars and other instruments to create this rich and rousing brew. I am fans of artists who have a singular sound and can focus effectively but there is always greater promise and opportunity when you push things and are more open. Elder Island are a great band who can create identity and singularity in their own way. I do like artists who are less experimental but am interested in the bolder sort who bring different shades and colours to the party. One other reason why I like artists who take music in directions is because it gets the imagination enflamed and can be a lot more interesting. I think it is hard to keep people invested and arrested if you have just one level. That might seem harsh but it can also be difficult staying focused and appealing if you marry sounds. So many people go off the rails or seem quite uneducated. Elder Island have a great knowledge of the Bristol scene, past and present, and bring a little of that into what they do. The band look further than Bristol but there is a nice balance. It is hard to put into words how Elder Island go about things but I think they are keen to express as many emotions as possible through their sound. You get so many different colours listening to their songs and it is a fascinating experience. If you are not a fan of one particular sound or line then you are not disappointed for long. If an artist is limited or they have a sole sound then you are pretty much stuck with it. That might sound a bit dismissive but I have a lot of respect for those who tease genres and sounds.

Maybe I should move onto a new subject but I am interested in the musicians who are not willing to sit still and stick with one direction. Listen to a song like I Fold You and it is very different to everything else the band are about. They have that ability to rotate their dish and try something new with every cut. Maybe I Fold You has a calm and simpler aspect because it is Christmas they want to end the year with a softer moment. I know the band have an album coming up and one can expect to see a lot of different beats and notes fused. It is hard for any artist to keep things focused when they throw so much into the mix. Elder Island do not overdo things but they are a band who keep things busy and diverse. Look at the best artists from this year and I think the focus has been on lyrical integrity and portraying something deep. The best albums of 2018 have not been hot on sonic variety but the words and intention have rung true. I think next year will be more about sonic width and promoting artists that are broader when it comes to sounds. I think, as time elapses, it is harder to capture the mind with a singular or narrow texture. I don’t know. What I am sure about is how we need to encourage musicians to be bolder with their work and inspire the listener. That is why I am hooked on Elder Island. They definitely have an identity and their own skin but they can easily splice genres and different aspects to create this bursting and wonderful environment. I love what they are doing and, whilst there is clear chemistry and excellent songwriting; the guys strike and shine because of the way they create this interesting and fulsome brew. It might sound like Elder Island throw tonnes in and it is a head-spinning experience but that is not the case.

There is subtlety in what they do. It is not about tossing everything into the blender and seeing what tastes good. There is expertise and professionalism. You can tell the guys spend a lot of time on what they do and there is huge consideration. I am a big fan of musicians who tease genres and can create their own universe. I think, to stand out in 2019, you need to be nimble and have a sense of mobility. Rather than be rigid and not experiment; artists have to be aware of what the market needs and how things are changing. A lot of the best from this year have struck the critical mind because of their words and a powerful projection but this is not necessarily the case for underground acts. Instead, the ones we are tipping for 2019 have this keen mind for cross-pollination. I have run a series recommending artists for 2019 and feel many are taking sound and pushing it to the limits. I come back to Elder Island and what they are doing right now. I am excited for their approaching album and know it will grab some fantastic reviews. I keep thinking about what they do with tones and genres and how they can bring in their own vibe. Rather than replicate the sounds of Bristol Trip-Hop – like so many have in the past – the band briefly nod to it and bring in other influences. I am looking at next year and seeing which artists will reign. I have indicated diversity and cross-pollination will take a bigger role for new artists but it is not as easy as that. I think Elder Island will be among the best of 2019 and, the fact they are releasing an album in February means they’ll make an early impact. Let me move onto Elder Island’s latest song, I Fold You.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ash Holdsworth

I have heard a few other songs from Elder Island but cleared my mind as I prepared to review their latest song, I Fold You. Unlike a lot of what we will hear on the band’s album; there is a sadness and sense of lost on their new single. We open with moody organ and this rather funeral atmosphere. There is not a big distraction in the background and the song has this great live-sounding feel to it. Rather than being too polished and cluttered; the band has created this track that is earthy, floating and ghostly. Elder Island are known for their mixing of Techno and Dream-Pop but here they are definitely on the softer end of the scale. The heroine talks about being out in the open and there being this bridge. It may seem like she is close to the hero but she is far away. Maybe the heroine is this ghost figure or maybe the scene symboilises a broken relationship and being separated. I like the imagery and how the song is given conviction and chills through the organ. One half of the mind looks at a church and somewhere quite stately whereas the other half is out in the wilderness, following the song. The lovers measure distance in the darkness, as it is told, and there are a lot of smart and original lines in the song. The entire song is quite slow-moving but that is not to say it lacks physicality and soulfulness. Rather than be bombarded with noise or restless energy; you get this track that hits the soul and get into the bones. It is hard to create a song with so much atmosphere and emotion without it being draining but Elder Island manage to do it. They are never too heavy and create this great balance throughout the song. The vocals become more charged and intense as the song goes on.

Starting from a somewhat gentle and brooding start; now we step into this quite bristling and stormy scene where the full pains of emotional break and disconnection are laid bare. It is easy to see signs of artists such as London Grammar and Adele in the vocals and compositions but the lyrics are a lot smarter and the song richer and more sophisticated. Beats start to come through and create this racing heartbeat. I feel the instruments represents part of the body and emotions. The organ is the soul and consciousness that is calming and looking for answers. The beats symbolise the heart and seem to be overtaking logic. Maybe there was a bad reason for love going cold but it seems the heroine cannot stay away. Perhaps there is too much at stake and it is difficult walking away from something so special. I love how the vocals twist and turn to match the emotion of the song. There is a lot of power and conviction coming from Elder Island and you can tell how meaningful the song is to them. Following it through, you get a repetition of the song’s lead coda – measuring distance in the dark – and it provides the song with an unofficial chorus and gravity. Vocals start to layer but the most effective burst is when the voice bubbles, echoes and has this choral effect. The band are always mobile and changeable and do not rely on cliché structures to get the most from their song. Rather than stick to worn paths, they create this always-moving song that gets you thinking. I wonder whether there is a current relationship at play and whether there is any way back. The guys have been through a lot and this is all coming out on the page. We hear a lot of dignity and grace in I Fold You and that balances with the rawness that comes from the front. The song gets busier and more atmospheric as it ends. It started with the somewhat sparse and roomy opening but gets more busy and intense towards the ending. Beats get stiffer and there are strings in the mix; synths play a part and we get a great blend of genres and decades. I love the song and think it is a great way to end the year. The band have a busy 2019 already and I am excited for them. I Fold You’s title suggests origami and emotional manipulation but there is heart and tenderness to be found. It is a complex track but one that reveals new layers and revelations with each listen. In a way, it is like that game we played as children where you’d fold paper in a structure and open up individual flaps – they reveal a message or something you have to do. New listeners will really enjoy the song and bond with the band. Make sure you buy their album is February and experience what they are all about – you can pre-order it now. I have only listened to I Fold You a few times but will keep going back and I am sure there will be fresh things coming to light. It is another triumphant for a brilliant and original band who are on the rise.

A lot of love and attention has been aimed the way of Elder Island. The Bristol band has not been around for ages but they have managed to establish themselves and released some fantastic singles. I am excited to see where they can and what they can achieve in 2019. I know their album, The Omnitone Collection, will be received well and it will contain the band’s knack of balancing sounds and genres with confidence. There is so much to recommend beyond the sonic element with Elder Island. Listen to the way they come together and how focused everything is. You can feel how tight they are and how much respect there is within the ranks. All of these elements fuse together to bring about this glorious and unique sound. I am fairly new to the band but will follow them into next year. I think they can influence a lot of other artists and are showing what can happen when you show some bravery. It is going to be interesting seeing what is favoured next year and which artists make an early break. I said early how there will be a split in expectation between the underground and mainstream and what is required. In terms of the new breed; many are looking for something interesting, more experimental and bold. Elder Island are just the band to get under the skin and stay in the memory. They are a brilliant force and get stronger with everything they release. When their album is released, we will get to see them on the road and bringing this material to the people. I am not sure what they have planned regarding locations but I hope they get to tour the U.K. quite extensively. I know they will play Bristol a lot and the local audiences will get to hear a growing band in their elements. Right now, as we head into 2019, I feel Elder Island will continue to progress and there will be fresh opportunities. I shall end things here but it has been great to discover this great band who already sound assured and focused. They know where they want to go but are open to new sounds and idea. There is a lot to love about Elder Island so make sure you get right behind them. They have had a great 2018 but next year will be…

  PHOTO CREDIT: Will Pace

EVEN bigger.    

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Follow Elder Island  

TRACK REVIEW: Gold Baby - Maggots

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Gold Baby

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PHOTO CREDIT: Keira-Anee Photography 

Maggots

 

9.4/10

 

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The track, Maggots, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/goldbabyband/maggots-1

GENRES:

Punk-Pop/Rock

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

3rd December, 2018

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MAYBE this is going to be my last review...

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Keira-Anee Photography 

of the year - because there isn’t anything in mind that suggests itself for tomorrow. I shall do my best to do Gold Baby justice but I am a bit sore at the moment – I have a wicked cold and moving about is rather tricky! I do not need to be that mobile but I wanted to discuss the band in the context of a dance-worthy noise; a combination of Punk and Pop that we could do a lot more with and bands who get stronger between releases. I also want to look at song inspiration and doing something different in music; who I am tipping for 2019 and why I am making changes. It is hard to see which acts are worth recommendation and how the next year will progress. I think the artists who will go far and make changes are those who can produce something upbeat and energised but has some substance. I do think this year has been a good one but we need more acts that are capable of bringing some fun and depth. Gold Baby take the basis of Punk – its rawness and direct energy – but they can produce some excellent Pop and mix it together. What you get is a nice balance of spritz and colour and some great physicality. The band pride themselves in being able to bring something fantastic and ripe that gets you moving and stays in the mind. I have heard a few songs with this ideal in 2018 but it is good to see Gold Baby strike and promise something cool for 2019. It is all very well offering some spirit and catchiness but you need to be able to balance this with nuance and substance. I will bring these words up again but I have encountered acts that throw together aimless sounds and they have not stuck around. Gold Baby are masterful when it comes to getting you to the dancefloor and keeping your mind rattling; they are North London’s catchy troupe who can get you involved and stand aside from the competition.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Patmore

I will move to another subject in a bit but I am keen to look at songs that provide a catchy swing, some distinct swagger and a colorful brew. The title, Maggots, might not sound like a great song for those who want to dance and get together but you’d be wrong. I think next year needs to be synonymous with upbeat and alive songs. We have had so many lower-beat tracks that have done their work but how many rousing and colorful songs have we all witnessed? I think something has been missing so it is good to see Gold Baby come to the fore. Variegated and bold songs that get your feet moving is a rarity on the scene and many assume you cannot provide something uplifting and catchy without compromising. It is a hard balance to achieve but, if you are like Gold Baby, there is a natural intuition and guidance. The band manages to take the energy and edginess of Punk and marry that with the softer edge of Pop. Pop-Punk is a common genre today and one that is appealing to a lot of new artists. It is much more credible and varied than Pop and you can match an aspect of snarl and spit with a smiling and spirited vein of Pop. Gold Baby want people to take them seriously but they do not want to come across as overly-serious and po-faced. I have studied a lot of the artists emerging this year and there are none that have the same components as Gold Baby. They have a special energy and one that will continue into 2019. I shall move things on and talk more about Punk and Pop but I want to stay with the subject of noise and a sound that gets you uplifted. I will talk about it later but music has showed very little optimism and positive spirit through 2018. I think we need to start promoting acts who can make a great brew that gets you to the floor and stays in the brain for ages.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Keira-Anee Photography 

Let’s investigate Pop and Punk a bit more and what can be produced if they are united with great care. I am a fan of both genres and feel the unification is a natural and wonderful thing. Gold Baby sort of have the Pop glee and skip of some of the mainstream’s best but they fuse that with the sort of Punk you’d catch Kim Deal playing. These worlds might be difficult to cut together in lesser hands but Gold Baby manage to keep the glee and pop solid but sprinkle in the grime and authority of Punk. I do wonder whether Pop-Punk is going to take over next year and whether it will dominate. I have been a bit concerned with the lack of happiness and forward-thinking ethos in music this year so I think we need to embrace and expose Pop-Punk more in 2018. We need to show more hope in 2019 and I think Pop-Punk has a big role to play. If we are going to showcase bands that stick around and can influence us then the music needs to possess something cheery and smiling. That is not to suggest Gold Baby are exchanging credibility and coolness to write songs that are easily marketable and commercial. They manage to bring us the accessibility of Pop and sounds that can appeal to a certain demographic but there is the swagger and punch of Punk. It is the best of both worlds and here is a band that can please everyone without making any concessions. The music that comes from them is pure and well-constructed and there are bags of fun. I love how they can mingle Pop and Punk and not manage to repeat what is already out there. With Pop-Punk, you can get artists that sound the same and it is a little generic. Rather than repeat what is out there; Gold Baby provide their own brand that should be highlighted. I think Pop-Punk will replace Pop in terms of popularity because you have the best of both worlds. The Pop is not too sugary and commercial whilst the Punk side of things can be understood by everyone.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @Muldooon

Look at the influences one can find on a song like Maggots. The band has mentioned artists like Kim Deal and Courtney Barnett. One gets earnestness in the lyrics but you also get plenty of humour, determination and catchiness. It is a fantastic and complex cocktail that many will want to drink down for a long time. I am still hooked on the song and need to spend time investigating more. I will follow Gold Baby into 2019 and feel they have a lot more to say. This is their second single and I will talk more about the way they have developed and matured. I do think Pop has reached a bit of a limit at the moment and there is a lot of room for development. What we have now is quite inward-looking and does not possess the same positive energy and catchiness as times past. I am a bit worried that Pop is getting too serious and concerned with being personal and revealing. Some of the joy has been sacrificed and I do feel Pop-Punk is a good way of bringing it back. Maybe Gold Baby alone cannot revitallise the Pop industry but they are releasing music that definitely works its way into the mind and gets the body moving. I think Punk has the danger of becoming too intense and aimless but, if you are a band like IDLES or Shame; you can write something deep and inspiring without being too gloomy or aggressive. I do know there is some upbeat music around but, more and more, it is escaping and being replaced by something downbeat. It is sad to see but maybe we can reverse it in 2019. I do think artists need to remember why a lot of us listen to music. We want that escapism and release that we might not get anywhere else. I shall come to another topic as my bones are aching quite a bit right now!

 PHOTO CREDIT: @snapperchap

Maggots is the sound of Gold Baby stepping things up and writing their finest cut. The theme of the song is about missing the boat or being eaten alive by your own expectations. They have already released the single, What Party?, but Maggots is the band discussing expectations and being late to the party. This is a theme that is not often explored in music. I have listened to a load of songs this year and a great deal of them are personal and relate to relationships. I have experienced music that casts its view outside and takes a more general approach and I am always attracted more to these tracks. Music is full of the personal and sad and I think we need to encourage artists to be a bit more diverse and open their mindset. I love Maggots because it is a move up for Gold Baby but its subject matter is something we can all get behind. I think we will remember music and artists will get further in the industry is they write songs that step away from the love-based and take a different approach. I feel we can take greater heart and direction from songs that have a bold message and are uplifting. Rather than bemoan what is happening in love and put that onto the page; let’s step away from that and write songs that provide guidance, strength and general drive. That notion of missing out on things or putting too much pressure in yourself is something I would like to see explored in music more. How often do we see artists going away from love and being braver?! I think there are a few who are bold and do that but so many that are obsessed with their own love and heartache. It is sad to see the obsession with the self and relationships but bands like Gold Baby are making big steps. You can definitely relate to Maggots and bond with the messages.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Patmore

I shall come to look at my final topic in a bit but I want to stay on the idea of subject matter. Gold Baby have taken a big step forward from their debut and have found a new focus. What Party? was a great start and opening but I can feel the band upping it and opening up on Maggots. The title might not provoke joy and lovely images but it is apt regarding the subject matter. The notion of being consumed by expectations or missing out on the boat is an intriguing one and it marks a new creative leap for Gold Baby. I am curious what will come next from the London band and how they develop. I am curious to find out whether the band will release an E.P. or album or put another single into the world. Maggots is a great offering from a band on the rise and a track that has captured the imagination. I am always interested how artists approach a song and what compels them to write how they do. Maybe Maggots is based on their own experiences and struggle to get noticed. Maybe it is based on something else but I can hear personal experience and relevance in the song. I am not suggesting the band will always look away from love but I like how they approach music and they are not beholden to familiarity. 2019 is a big year for them and one that will see them get to a new audience and capture the public imagination. There are a lot of Pop-Punk bands around but Gold Panda seem to have that advantage. If we always have the same songs that talk about love then we are not going to make any progress and change the industry. Let’s move on from this subject and look at 2019 and what will come through.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Don Blanford

I am excited to see what is happening next for Gold Baby and where they take their music. 2018 has been a good year for them and they have ambitions afoot. In terms of sonic shift and what will come through; I feel Pop-Punk will take more of a stand. Other great bands like The Wild Things are brewing together Pop and Punk and writing in an original and electric way. I would like to see Pop continue in the mainstream but I do wonder whether it is too insular and focused on love. It can be dangerous carrying down that line and not pushing away from the personal. I am making changes in 2019 and making moves in another direction. One of the dangers of stepping away from the comfort zone and embracing something fresh is that it can be a gamble and risky. Look around music and what is happening right now. There has been a lot of negativity and insular expression and we need to start holding artists that are willing to look at the wider world and different themes. Post-Punk will continue to reign and I do feel like Pop will evolve and step in another direction. Maybe it will not be as joyous and catchy as it once was but it will not quite be as serious and moody. I do hope things change and we see some real development. Gold Baby are among the chasing pack who will be putting their music out into the world and trying to make an impact. They have not been a band for too long but they have already taken strides and achieved quite a bit. I will come to the song in a bit but feel Gold Baby will keep growing and adding their magic to music. After only two singles, they have shown diversity and grown as a unit. I feel 2019 will be a very big one for them and they will keep on recruiting fans and getting some pretty awesome gigs.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Keira-Anee Photography

There are softer strums and tender notes that open Maggots. You get something almost Country-like that beckons in Maggots. Whilst the Punk and harder edge is not as pronounced as the more gentle side to the song; one is drawn into this terrific song. The chorus tells of being covered in maggots and things getting on top. Maybe the song’s hero/heroine has been a bit late to the party and tried their hardest to make things happen. Maggots concerns always missing the boat – regardless of what time you get there – and letting things slip away. One feels the lead project from her heart and one wonders whether there is a bit of the personal in the song. You can definitely sense some emotion and longing in the performance and, backed by touching yet physical backing; the song perfectly balances the soft and pressing. In the first stages, we get hints of Sixpence None the Richer and The Cardigans. The singing is pure and beckoning but one experiences a determination and need for things to change. Maybe that will not come yet but, as you get settled in, the song kicks up a gear and things get cutting. The song changes course and goes from this rather delicate and gentle thing to something much more attacking and spiked. This brief explosion and bite gives us a very physical and evocative revelation. I am not sure whether the coda is designed to bring maggots and that sense of being eaten but it is a rather unexpected and thrilling little stab. It does not last long, as I say, and we get a return to the melodic and rhythmic line. I love the sound the band have created and how it sounds like Pop but not like anything that is around at the moment. I know what Maggots is about but unravelling the lyrics and we get new insight. The tones and lines we hear can be applied to the heroine but they can be taken to heart by everyone that listens to the song. If What Party? was about not having friends and being alone to the celebration then Maggots carries similar weight.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Patmore

The heroine says (to the subject) that they learnt things along the way and things would have been better. I love how the song seems direct and clear but there is an oblique nature. You can sort of guess where the words are coming from but there is mystery and room for interpretation. I was listening back to see if I could pick up on anything new and whether there was any fresh revelation. Maggots is a great song that boasts an incredible melody and tune that gets into the head and enlivens the senses. I do not think I have heard another band take this approach to song and show the same influences. In any case; Gold Baby are a fantastic band that stand aside from the pack and genuine show legs. I love Maggots and the way it makes you feel. Maybe the themes and messages have a sense of struggle in them but Gold Baby never drag you down and show any sort of negativity. Ensure you get into the mind and heart of the song and let it do its work. I think the band has hit on a rare and exciting vein and they should be congratulated. Everyone will take something different away from Maggots but the song’s sheer smile, sense of complexity and mystery will surely resonate. I have been excited to play it again and again and discover stuff that passed me by the first time. It is testament to a band that, while new and not as experienced as some out there, has that individual experience and combine their brilliance. The songwriting is astonishing the connection between the band members is tight and wonderful. There is so much colour through Maggots and do not be misled by the rather gruesome title. I think the London band have already come a long way but, if they keep producing songs like this, their road to success will be straight and golden.

Gold Baby started life early this year but the members have been part of the toilet scene for a long time. They have been around for a while and combine their knowledge into this incredible and solid band. Gold Baby is a great project built from strong foundations and an effortless spirit. The members have a love for one another and they are incredibly tight. I know they will have to rely on smaller gigs for a lot of 2019 but I think they will be able to attract bigger gigs later in the year. Maybe it will not be an instant transformation but, the more their music gets out and attracts, the larger the demands will get. I would like to see them play the larger venues because I think their music warrants that space and can definitely get the room buzzing. Perhaps Gold Baby will stick with smaller gigs for a time and cut their teeth - and you know there will be more material. I hope we get an E.P. but I am not putting pressure on the band. Maggots is a great track that announces its ambitions and colours very quickly and you’ll keep coming back time and time again. I shall end things here but it has been great getting to know the band more and seeing where they are headed. Despite my aching bones – it has been tricky! – I hope I have managed to assess the band well and got to the core. The Pop-Punk band has only been in circulation a little but I am excited to follow them and watch them strike. We need more bands like this around to offer original intent and upbeat expression in music. I might get together another review by 2019 – if I am still alive tomorrow – but it is good to end things with Gold Baby. They are a formidable force and have given the world some brilliant music.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Keira-Anee Photography

I am hopeful the band will be among the biggest acts of 2019 and a lot of journalists get behind them. I have not even talked about the images and social media outlay for Gold Baby but that is a great weapon in their arsenal. There is a professionalism and sense of passion that goes beyond the music and feeds into social media. One gets some great shots of the band and can find them across all platforms. Many might assume this is a minor aspect but so many artists overlook stuff like photos and being across social media channels. You know Gold Baby have thought about everything and are a lot more prepared than most musicians around. I will end things now but recommend everyone seek out Gold Baby and check out their latest single, Maggots. They have so much passion and energy and their songwriting is a lot more engrossing and deep than most of what is out there. It is a great time for the North London collective and Maggots is a song that burrows under the skin and sticks around forever. Few bands come along that create such an impact but, in the final throes of 2018, we have a band that has the promise to go as far as they like. Make sure you get behind the incredible Gold Baby and step with them...

 PHOTO CREDIT: Keira-Anee Photography

INTO the coming year.    

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Follow Gold Baby  

TRACK REVIEW: Satanic Ritual Abuse: Hurting (Adjective/Verb)

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Satanic Ritual Abuse

PHOTO CREDIT: Georgie Scott

Hurting (Adjective/Verb)

 

8.8/10

 

 

The track, Hurting (Adjective/Verb), is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/memorials-of-distinction/satanic-ritual-abuse-hurting-adjectiveverb/s-37jze

GENRE:

Alternative

ORIGIN:

London/Brighton, U.K.

The album, Hurting, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/68Cujpmj1IVFX76bv2FVeL?si=XEHQcGlETK-qG5Nj4nmMVQ

LABEL:

Memorials of Distinction

RELEASE DATE:

7th November, 2018

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I am not sure whether this will be my last...

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PHOTO CREDIT: Daniel Cohen

review of the year but, before I get to Satanic Ritual Abuse, I wanted to address a few themes that I am considering for 2019. I have been thinking about reviews and what I take on because, through 2018, it has been an interesting year but there has not been a massive amount that stuck in the mind. Maybe that is my problem – short attention span or too tired – but I am going to be going after artists for reviews rather than have people come my way. I think one of the main issues is a saminess that has pervaded the music scene. I have yearned for difference in terms of sound and artists who go out of their way to create something unlike anything else. It sort of takes me to Satanic Ritual Abuse and, whilst the name is not something that interests me or has that edge; the music being created by him (Josh) is excellent. I shall mention sound difference and, because there is strength and difference in the music, a couple of constructive points relating to social media and images that I reserve for those who can go far; a bit about minimalism and a sense of the basic – in order to create something quite epic and atmospheric. As I said, I am not really taking too many requests next year because I feel like a lot of my reviews have been about the same sort of thing. Consider how I write them – long and in-depth – and it is hard to say something new about an artist who sounds pretty much the same as the one I just covered. That is not necessarily the fault of the artist but I am seeing a lot of the same thing coming out. I listen and look at Satanic Ritual Abuse and there is that room for interest. The name might point you in the direction of Heavy Metal or something foreboding but that is a bit of a mislead. It is a humorous take and name that certainly gets in the mind and sort of points you in the direction of the music.

Certainty, there is a lot of hectic and strange energy running throughout and one is reminded of artists like Aphex Twin to an extent. Rather than repeat what is out there right now; we have someone who is taking a stand and creating sounds that get into the mind. It is a witches’ brew of odd scents and movements that fuse together quite well. I will come to look at minimalism and creating something grand with very little but I am trying to categorise Satanic Ritual Abuse. It seems to be an Alternative sound but there are electronic glitches and machine-made drama; a blend of harder edges and softer middles. Maybe it is Electronic or Art-Noise but it seems to go against the conventional and commercial. I am not sure whether the creator has an idea regarding genre but it is interesting trying to define this music. Maybe that is the best thing about it. One is not instantly reminded of someone else and the music stands aside. I think it has a touch of those darker innovators like Aphex Twin but there is more accessibility and warmth to be found in Satanic Ritual Abuse. To me, the music does not really need categorisation or any sense of defining. Experience it without labels and you are free to swim in the details, depths and textures. It is more a soundscape and, as the songwriter says, a mix of teen angst and ecclesiastical grandeur. There is colour and consideration but there is also explosion and anger. It is almost like the manifestation of the human psyche. Perhaps it is the contrast of emotions and how we can go from calmed and nice to rather heated. In any case; this is a style of music that I am interested in and have not really had a lot of in 2018. Before I explore the music more, a few considerations regarding Satanic Ritual Abuse and 2019.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Georgie Scott

It is hard for an artist who deals in sound more than image to get a lot of photos online. I have been reprimanded and blasted a few times this year for mentioning photos and lack of them but it is something I have to bring up. Even though I like the sounds being put out by Satanic Ritual Abuse, I was a bit sceptical regarding images. You can see there are a few out in the review – and the man might want to retain mystery and a sense of intrigue – but music is a visual medium and image is as important as sound. Some might contest that but I would say, because of social media and competition, people cannot afford to overlook photos. Again, given the nature of the music, it is not like we have a Pop artist who can take shoots and is not reserved about getting images out there. It does not need to be shots of the man’s face or something forced but I feel like there need to be a few more photos. As much as anything, it will bring more people in and catch the eye. It boils down to the nature of the images and what will be in there. Maybe it would not be studio shoots and Josh reclining all seductively and a few shots of a laptop or studio are not quite enough. He could have a concept whereby there is a stylisation or effect added to photos that would look professional but not necessarily be the usual, glossy photoshoots. That might aggrieve him but there needs to be this consideration among musicians regarding their images because, more than anything, music is visual and the aesthetics are as potent as the sound. All the positives and important highlights go to the music but those peripheral aspects need to be taken to heart. It is never a criticism and, if I was not interested in the music, I would not even raise the issue of snaps.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Rawlinson

I do feel like artists feel that the photographic side of music is not vital and it is all about sound. The music rules and will remain but the way people are attracted is through images; journalists will be more invested if they have a spread of shots and can make a great piece. In as much as anything it shows that the artist is invested in their music and, even if they have little cash, they can still afford a selection of images. I shall move onto the music and a lot of positives but I am thinking about social media too. There are social media links at the bottom of this review but they are for Memorials of Distinction: the record label Satanic Ritual Abuse is under and a popular label at that. It is good one can access the music of Satanic Ritual Abuse through these channels but, as we head into 2019, I would urge the songwriter to get together a concurrent and accompanying social media spread. Another reason why I am going after artists and turning so many away is because of the lack of social media presence. Many either do not have a Twitter account or their portfolio is so limited and light of support. It is understandable if the numbers are light in the early stages but I wonder whether artists are doing enough to keep their social media lines fresh, appealing and funded. Maybe Josh does have social media links for his music but I would say you the essential options are Twitter, Facebook; SoundCloud, Spotify and Instagram. I am a bit remiss when it comes to Instagram but I would urge him to set all of those up and run it alongside the label. Keeping these channels updated and getting a lot of people in not only appeals to journalists and new followers but it means you can get your music to radio stations, the press and other avenues.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Brydges

Music is as much about business and success as it is creating a quality product and making sure you are original. The best way to promote the product and get out into the world is exploiting social media and being as active as possible. If Satanic Ritual Abuse combines some new shots with these social media sites; bringing them together with the music then I think he can be one of the most promising artists of 2019. I understand how he wants to project some mystique and a lo-fi outlook regarding images and that side of things but, if he wants to get the great music to the masses, a few compromises need to be made. He is a new act and not overloaded with cash but I see great promise in what he is putting out. I and many others would love to see the sounds succeed and go as far as possible. Satanic Ritual Abuse already has a Spotify account and one can access the E.P., Hurting, there right now. These are all things he can take to mind but I feel like there is that promise – one wants it to be fulfilled and the world to share the music. Let’s get back to the music itself and a few points that spring to mind. Satanic Ritual Abuse mixes that sense of angst with something grand and epic. The recordings on his E.P. are culled and primed from 2009 (when he was sixteen) to 2014. It is, in a way, a historical journal from the stages of adolescence to adulthood. In an era when we are so fixated with quick turnaround and instant satisfaction; it is gratifying to see someone produce material that has that lineage and history. In many ways, Hurting is like a greatest hits collection or an anthology. You get a literal sense of growth, maturation and revelation happening. Seeing this composer grow and change as you listen to the songs is quite potent!

There is experimentation and a lot of little samples. You have a sparseness and atmosphere but there are bigger moments. Another change I am making next year is going after cheerier music that has a smile and sense of energy. Whilst one cannot easily describe Satanic Ritual Abuse’s music as upbeat and cheery; there is an energy and fascination in there that gets the blood working and provokes images. The lyrics themes look at the pains of love and isolation; paranoia and other concerns. That sounds heavy and a bit bleak but the music creates space, a sense of redemption and a chance for change. Perhaps this is as un-Christmas-like one can get regarding music but, in many ways, this is an end for me. I am, as I say, taking in happier and more high-spirited music next year and artists with a bigger following. The reason I wanted to focus on Satanic Ritual Abuse is because I see that promise and can think of very few other artists like him. It is amazing listening to the various layers unravel and stepping inside this strange world. I was engrossed by the E.P. and have selected the sort-of-title-track because it seems to embody all the aspects and definition of the work. It is a deep and enriching song but one that provokes quite a lot of emotion. I have talked about artists like Aphex Twin and, as I am not that versed in the lo-fi end of the spectrum and have been denied that pleasure a bit; I am struggling to compare the sounds with anyone else. Maybe that is the best thing one can say. You can hear the sense of discovery and endeavour; a young man who is making sense of his tribulations through music and being as bare and honest as one can be. One is brought into the mind of Josh Cohen throughout and, at every stage, you get a new side to a complex young man.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Georgie Scott

Recorded and created between Brighton and London; Hurting is an album that warrants a lot of focus and I am sure will be on many people’s minds in 2019. I will look at the title song from the album very soon but wanted to finish up looking at the nature of the music and why more people should be invested. Consider the way the music was created and how it differs from the mainstream. There are a lot of D.I.Y. artists around right now but not many of them are making music that seems more like a score and soundtrack than conventional music. One of the issues I have had with music this year is that lack of boldness that takes risks and steps into new territory. Perhaps my horizon has been narrow and I have played it safe but one listens to Satanic Ritual Abuse and you get something very different and gripping. I am fascinated by technology and seeing what can be created from such a humble foundation. I can imagine Satanic Ritual Abuse working away on a laptop and experimenting to get the best sound possible. There are lyrics in the songs but the main focus and pull is the sound itself. You are attracted to the compositional elements and the sense of mood created. Switching between nervous energy to anger and through to something lighter; it is a refreshing and varied bouquet that filters into the brain and infuses the imagination. It can be hard marketing music like this to the mainstream because it is so different to what is already there. I feel the scene needs to be more open and embrace these artists who  take chances and go away from the conventional. Perhaps these sort of radical changes are years away but I do hope the scene takes greater note of artists like Satanic Ritual Abuse because we need to see the music get out to the wider population. Look back at a time when artists like Aphex Twin, The Prodigy and Orbital ruled and the effect they had. Their music is a little different to what we have here but not a million miles away. People got behind it and we saw something inspiring come into the mainstream. I miss those days and feel there is something lacking.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Rawlinson

It is hard to describe the sound and sensation one gets listening to the opening of Hurting (Adjective/Verb). It is very lo-fi and you can hear percussive clatter and some softer strings. It is a melting of the classical and elegant and something more industrial and raw. Whilst not full-blown Electronic territory and as edgy as artists on the odder end of the spectrum; you get this rather strange feeling and are bonding with sounds that take you into different worlds. I was attracted by the lo-fi production and how the music leaps from your left to right ears (if you are wearing headphones). You are almost placed in the song and hear all these little details fizz and unite with alacrity. When the hero comes to the microphone, the vocal has a sense of drone and there is this very focused and deeper sound. It juxtaposes the mood of the composition and offers some instant gravity. One has floated, dreamed and imagined before and, with the vocal, you are levelled and planted more. There is a sample in there that sounds familiar – I can’t recall it for the life of me! It is melodic, sensuous and immediate and it balances against the original notes which are more jarring and darker. There is hiss and a sense of electronic wash; you have vocals that are in the mix but less audible and decipherable than the composition. That is a deliberate mood as it places the hero underneath this wave of sound, emotional disconnect and strain. It is a heavy listen and one that should not be taken lightly. I would never warn people from listening to music but, if you are not familiar with the sort of music Satanic Ritual Abuse is throwing out, then it might take a while to rotate your dish! It is not overly-Christmas-like (my fault regarding timing and being busy!) but Hurting (Adjective/Verb) is a busy and intoxicating song that makes you want to come back.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Daniel Cohen

You listen to the song and, as I said, it is more about sonic mood and composition than the vocal. One can decipher the odd word here and there but it is not a case of interpreting the lyrics and trying to piece together this story. The track is more like part of a concept and story of a man growing from adolescence to adulthood. I am not sure whether the tracks are sequential in that respect and we are hearing something written around 2010 (this song is in the middle of the album so might have been written around that time). It is interesting to sit Hurting (Adjective/Verb) against other tracks on the record and compare. The lo-fi charm of the electronics and drone fuses with that sample and more accessible sound to create the clash of two worlds. Percussion continues to clash and roll whilst the hero croons and offers up words. He is being driven crazy and intense by someone and it is clear some sort of romantic dislocation has come to play. That sample – I shall ask him what it is! – is lifted and it seems almost like a cover version...albeit, one that you will not often hear! The twanging strings and metallic percussion do not seem like easy bedfellows on paper but they work really well. There are so many different aspects and elements that are unified to create this deep, strange and oddly understandable soundscape. It might not be to everyone’s liking but you cannot deny the innovation and production quality. I love how all these rather disparate elements form and how they sound when mixed. You go into the track not knowing what to expect and what will come. You need a clear mind before you do step in but there is this feeling you get that is hard to describe. It is an unusual listen but one that stays in the mind. I am a fan of the more experimental side of music and think more people should check out Satanic Ritual Abuse. The fact it is so different to everything out that means it will take time to resonate but is a much more rewarding listening experience than you’d be used to. Investigate the Hurting album as a whole and it is interesting hearing how Hurting (Adjective/Verb) sits alongside all the other tracks. If this is my last review of 2018 – I might fit another one in – it is a good one and has introduced me to someone I might not have otherwise discovered! Make sure you have a listen and discover something unique and truly special.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Georgie Scott

I have talked about some alterations and steps Satanic Ritual Abuse can consider next year but the fact its creator runs Memorials of Distinction means there is that popular platform promoting the music. Josh Cohen founded the label and has other acts under the wings – including Viewfinder and Tree House. Maybe he will get another set of social media sites but I think a few more snaps to accompany the music would be a wise investment. Whatever he has planned going forward, I am excited to see what happens and how far he can go. The Hurting L.P. is the result of years of hard work and there has been some delay. Personal things have hindered true progress but now the album is out, we can see what has been happening and get a real sense of Satanic Ritual Abuse. Maybe I will come around to the name – might take a while! – but one cannot argue with the music and the quality available! It is a wonderful thing to discover an artist that is very different and kindles some excitement. I have lacked a certain bite and curiosity the past few months and it is something I am going to remedy next year. I am going to end things by looking at where Satanic Ritual Abuse and Memorials of Distinction can head next year. I feel the label is one of the more popular around and is building a lot of steam. The social media following is impressive and the artists being represented are putting out great work. I think they can go further and there are some underground artists that would be a perfect fit. I am not sure how they recruit new signings – whether it is word of mouth or they listen to demos on streaming sites etc. – but I know a few other acts that would be a nice fit for the label.

There is a great deal of respect for Memorials of Distinction and that is down to its founder, Josh Cohen. He has put his everything into the label and his musical project, Satanic Ritual Abuse. I feel he could tour quite extensively next year and progress from the comfort of home and studio and get his music around the world. I am not sure what he has in mind regarding gigs and how it translates to the stage but I would love to see it brought to life at a gig. Maybe there are technical difficulties making the music resonate the same way from the stage but Hurting is a great album that warrants a lot of affection. I will wrap things up here and go about my merry way. Before I do that; I wanted to advise not only Satanic Ritual Abuse to get that music as far as possible – I know Cohen is doing as much as he can to get it to the masses – but people in general to be more open and aware of the selection we have in modern music. Still we focus on the mainstream or what is being recommended by radio stations. It is hard to get a good handle on the best out there – given the vast array of sounds – but we are missing out on so much. I am not saying we need a revolution but there are so many great artists being overlooked because they do not conform with what is deemed ‘popular’ and ‘trending’. It is hard to change things radically and have said this a lot recently. I do think we need to consider music as a spectrum and ocean rather than something very narrow; stop following trends and be more open to unexpected and unusual sounds. I have been looking for someone like Satanic Ritual Abuse and it is great to see this rare and ambitious composer/songwriter who can go a long way. As I start to wrap things up for 2018; I am thinking about next year and what I want from music. I am keen to up my game regarding the popularity of artists featured and need to think about moving to the next level. I also want to be more daring regarding sound and the type of thing I produce. It is good, therefore, to review Satanic Ritual Abuse, and someone who is very different to anything I have covered this year. Best of luck to him because, after only one review, I have been compelled by this rare talent who, I feel, can go a long way...

  PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Brydges

IN a short space of time.    

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Follow Satanic Ritual Abuse/Memorials of Distinction  

TRACK REVIEW: Rachael Sage - Myopia

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Rachael Sage

Myopia

 

9.4/10

 

 

The track, Myopia, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/5yjKamYcJep1mGnM3NC80a?si=drQ0HgVCTzebubd-VPvnqg

GENRE:

Singer-Songwriter

ORIGIN:

New York, U.S.A.

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The album, Myopia, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/2SDxgZrPIHEIOUenCrAlfk?si=_CypwmMsSMusvIXYpN9kxA

RELEASE DATE:

4th May, 2018

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I am not sure how many reviews I will do before the end...

of the year but there might only be another two or three after this. There are some new tracks coming through that are worth exploration and consideration but, at the moment, I am catching up with an artist who I featured earlier in the year. I will talk about Rachael Sage and her sound in a bit but, right now, I wanted to look at changing style and hooking up with collaborators; artists who have a boldness and colour to them; artists bringing more positivity and reflection into their albums; those who are achieving a lot and look set to make a big break in 2019 – I will talk about New York and why it is an area more of us should explore. Sage’s new album, Myopia, sees her in a different light and it is a bit of a move for her. It is hard to believe that this is the songwriter’s thirteenth album and that sort of longevity is very impressive indeed! I guess artists can produce that many albums if they do not have a label and that sort of commercial pressure. One feels, if Sage were signed to one of the big labels, she would still have that endurance and be making records still. I have not seen many modern acts who have managed to sustain themselves through the years and continue to evolve. There are some great artists out there but few manage to crank out so many albums! Sage has managed to endure and survive because she puts so much life and colour into everything. Every album from her has its own themes and skin and you never get the same thing. Myopia is a new step for Rachael Sage and a different turn to what we are used to. If you are familiar with her piano stylings and something familiar; there are collaborators and the guitar is put more to the fore. It is not a huge leap in terms of sound but Sage has managed to add new touches and brought fresh voices to the pot.

It is good seeing names such as James Mastro (Patti Smith, Ian Hunter) and a new instrument is put under the spotlight. I think longevity is underrated and many tend to forget about artists if they drop off of the radar. Rachael Sage has a huge love for music and would not be doing anything else – it is a world that suits her perfectly and every album from her is a huge delight. I love how she manages to say something new with every album and how you get this artist very much connected to themes, images and aesthetics. I will talk more about visuals and that side of thing in a bit but I think making changes and taking your music in a new direction can revitalise what you do. I am not a fan of those who throw in too many producers and collaborators because it can crowd things and make an album sound impersonal. When you bring in a few select names and get that balance right; listening back and you have this rather wonderful and inspiring thing. That is what has happened with Myopia and the songs throughout. I shall move through and look at other topics but I wanted to look at how Sage has moved forward and what she is doing right now. Sage, when looking at the album, titled it as such to reflect society’s narrow views and bad sight. There is a lot of prejudice and discrimination; people struggling and so much hatred around. Rather than get angry on the album; Sage has brought something inspiring, warm and hopeful to the plate. There is a look at the negative sides of life and how we can be myopic – I shall go into detail when reviewing the album’s title cut – but she has taken a big leap on her thirteenth record. As owner of her own label, MPress Records, for two decades now, you have someone who can take control of their own sound but is always eager to explore. So many artists get stuck in a rut or reproduce the same thing every single time. Rachael Sage is somebody who, here, has abandoned (to an extent) the piano-centric sound and brought some guitars to the party. The change is not radical enough to abandon and alienate her core base but it will tempt new listeners in.

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There is a natural versatility that comes with Sage – always producing varied and brilliant work that is stronger than most of the stuff out there. It is her wide-aiming songs and a sense of vibrancy that catches the eye. Look at the photos sprinkled throughout this review and you will see someone who has that rather vivid and exciting look. Sage is a character and a musician; someone who seems to embody an icon and pioneer. I see so many musicians who are listless and rather boring when it comes to their sounds and music. I will address positivity and bringing more of it to music but, looking at Sage, and I think about those who are gripping and provide us with relief. Sage can and does talk about serious subjects – not someone who overlooks what is important and urgent. Rather than being all about the gloom and anger; albums such as Myopia showcase plenty of hope and life. I was drawn to Rachael Sage because of her sense of character and colour. Too many artists do not draw the eye or capture the imagination; Sage is somebody who has that potent, dynamic edge and sense of adventure. I love what she is doing and have seen how she has grown as a performer through the years. One wonders where she will head from here but, right now, the music being put out into the world makes you stand up and take notice! I have not got time to review more than one track but, on Myopia, tracks such as Alive capture you with a retro sound and real drive; Snowed In is about the ever-controversial Edward Snowden and Haunted by Objects is about a hoarder whose only option is to set fire to everything! Those stories might sound darker and sinister but, in the hands of Rachael Sage, they are spellbinding and accessible. Lesser artists might make them too dark and depressed…but that is not what you get here.

Instead, we have someone who can introduce humour and a sense of fun into songs; make sure a message is being put across but grab you with a big personality and an even bigger voice. I am looking out more for artists who have the ability to get under the skin and infuse the senses. What amazes me about Rachael Sage is how she can create these deigns and concepts for albums and bring together so many great stories and songs. I feel the fact she has changed style/sound a bit and brought in a few different names means she is free to wander and open her imagination. I know there are artists who can meet my requirements and get into the blood but there are few who do things like Rachael Sage. I know she will continue to grow and enjoy success. She should act as a guide to other artists who are looking for ways to get their music heard and bring something fresh to the plate. Sage can discuss current events and address the world at large but ensure there is little aggravation and sense of misery. I love all the different facets and sides to the songwriter. The way she can entice and allure with her fashion and look; how her promotional shots really do draw you in and how you dive into the music and remember it for a very long time to come. I think a lot of music in 2018 has been about a rather angry and unhappy mood and, whilst that is fine, I am looking at artists who can give some uplift and hope. I am finding too many acts who are endlessly downbeat and cannot really present anything encouraging. Let me move on and talk about that particular side of things because I would like to see more of it in 2019 – a redemptive and hopeful spirit that counteracts the tension and stress that is out there in the wider world.

This year has seen a lot of stress and strain permeate music. The political landscape has been fractured and fraught – many artists have reflected this and tried to make sense. It seems 2019 will start with the same sort of friction and dislocation as we have seen; as we try to make sense of it all and move forward. I can understand why many would want to add their sense of disgust to what is happening but it has been rare to see sunshine and brightness in 2018. Even bigger Pop artists are not showing their usual verve and optimism and I wonder whether that is the way music is going. I feel 2019 is a chance for many to change the tide and, even though it is important to assess what is happening in the world, ensure fun is not lost and we can inject some positive spirit in. Rachael Sage does talk about the myopia of the world on her new album and figures that are controversial. She looks at serious things and big problems out there but does not weigh things down with anger. Instead, there is that hope of things thawing and what can happen if we take a more positive stance. We can be quite short-sighted and blind but, instead of fighting and being naïve; getting together and trying to make things better is what is required. Sage taps into this feeling of hope and being able to make the world better. That stance is to be applauded and, throughout Myopia, we have an artist who wants everyone to try harder and show that positive spirit. In fact, the balance of emotions we get on the L.P. is incredible. We are able to have this brightness and sense of hope but that does not mean the problems in the world are overlooked. I think Sage has created an album that is perfectly suited to this year and seems to match some of the very best albums from the mainstream. I am seeing more and more modern songwriters abandon more traditional aspects of love and relations and investigate politics and their world.

I shall move and round off this first section of the review but it might be worth looking at 2019 and what can happen there. I feel there will not be huge shifts in terms of subject and sounds; maybe there will be some minor shifts but I wonder how much politics and the state of the world will impact music. Artists are entitled to have their say and interpretation but I do hope many take a lead from Rachael Sage and see what can happen when you offer a more optimistic perception. She is not ignoring the seriousness of things nor is she making the music too weighty and bleak. Striking that balance is vital but I feel more fun in general needs to come into music. It has been a bad year in so many ways and many are looking for refreshment and new starts. If you are unfamiliar with the work of Rachael Sage than Myopia is a good place to start. It would be ironic if you overlooked the album but I feel like this is her most confident and complete work yet. The record is packed with textures and nuance; there are songs that take a few listens to get to grips with and others that are instant. It can be impossible navigating the underground and making sense of everything that is happening right now. I feel artists like Sage warrant more focus and love and, let’s hope, she will be afforded the chance to tour around the world next year. I will come to the reviewing part of the review soon but I wanted to look at Sage and what she has achieved so far in her career. Not only has her sound and style changed and grown but the plaudits have come in and she has played in some really good venues. I think those big moments and adventures can impact the work and create confidence.

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Sage has shared the stage with artists as lofty as Judy Collins, Shawn Colvin and Beth Hart. She performed in the U.K. last spring and performed alongside Howard Jones. That appeal on both sides of the Atlantic mean she has these big fanbases and can experience very different music scenes. I love the fact Sage has that experience and she can bring all of that into the music. She has performed at the Fringe in Edinburgh and won several music awards here in Britain. A lot of her tracks have been played on T.V. shows and it has been a busy last few years for Rachael Sage. Of course, this will continue next year and I am excited to see how far she can go. The music industry is a tough one but Sage has managed to make her impressions felt and is growing all of the time. I feel 2019 will be a massive year for her and all of the past experiences she has had will come into play. Myopia is a fantastic album that seems to integrate all of the previous records and moods and signals another direction. I am already excited to see what her next album sounds like but shouldn’t get too carried away! I love how many different ideas and stories are explored throughout Myopia and what you get from each one. It is a packed and fascinating album that seems to perfectly look at some darker sides to the world but, above all, urge for movement and something more positive. We do need more songwriters like this and need to embrace those with big hearts, personalities and voices. I shall talk more about Sage in the conclusion but, as she does have an album out that is doing very well; it is time I got to looking at Myopia’s title-track and what it is all about. It is a wonderful song that gets into the heart and bones but also makes you think hard and deeply.

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The opening stages of Myopia bring together wordless vocals and a rather tranquil setting. I have mentioned how piano has been overtaken by guitar to an extent throughout the album but you get a nice and potent piano sound that brings the introduction to life. Sage is wordless to start and the introduction has this very bold, effusive and romantic quality that seeps into the skin and creates a very distinct mood. Even through the track suggests short-sighted people and something more negative; the heroine is talking about someone who knows what they can live with and without and, right away, you start to wonder. Maybe it is about someone who is materialistic or people who are uncompromising when it comes to their own lives or others. All of these thoughts went around my head but I struggled to get over the beauty of the performance. There is no real aggression or urgency that would put you off. Sage is comforting and soft but able to project power. It is a brilliant concoction and sound that catches you by surprise. Sage talks about people seeking answers and, when they have received all the answers they need, they will have more than enough to survive. Maybe we all do get too fixated with being spoiled or seeing ourselves as victims; expecting too much and taking so much for granted. It is hard to listen to the song and not think about political figures and what they are doing. Although it is not a direct message to leaders and how they control countries; I feel it looks at society in general and how we do not often look beyond our own lives and think more deeply about the wider world. Sage suffers from myopia herself – as do I – and uses the word in a couple of different ways. There is a literal sense of poor vision but, away from that, she has been a little selfish and not bold enough. She talks about holding a kite too tightly and lacking some perspicacity.

Sage’s voice always has that sweetness and breathlessness that gets into the soul and makes the song come alive. I can see Myopia as a call to everyone to be a little less concerned with their own universe and having a more positive outlook. The lyrics have that oblique nature in places that means you are free to interpret and take things in your own direction. The heroine talks about earning an embrace and that feeling of having enough. Maybe we do value our own worth and success in terms that seems unreasonable and, if we let some things go or change our views, then we can all become a little richer and see things differently. Myopia brings in yearning strings and all sorts of elements. You get little bits of Country and Folk and it is a wonderful blend. Sage – sounding like Briana Corrigan to an extent – talks about a screen of myopia and being tangled up in her own way. Things were piling up and she was not able to get through that. She does not say whether relationship burdens or the busy nature of everyday life meant she was being selfish and not taking stock of things. Whatever was causing this burden and strain seems to have been lifted and she is now in a more productive and clear space. It is nice to hear her looking forward and in a different space. I am not sure whether the change will be instant but the heroine is urging others to remove the clutter and take a different view of the world. Maybe things can get a bit much and we do not often think rationally about what we have and how much we possess. The musicality and strength of Myopia means the song will remain firmly lodged in the mind for a while.

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Everyone will get something different from Myopia but, in essence, it is about changing your way of thinking and taking a more positive approach. I love the song and how much life is in it. The music is never too heavy-handed but it is lush and has a real sense of the romantic. Within the yearning strings and the tender notes; Sage lets her voice shine through and guide. She offers laughter and syncopation; some really nice expressions and a real personality. It is a song filled with heart but that message regarding a different viewpoint and perspective. If we can be content and satisfied with what we have and not being too demanding then that will make us look more clearly at the world. I took something from the song and I know many others would have too. It is a number that you can learn a lot from but the music is accessible enough so you can play it in the background and let it wander. Few songs have that ability to get right into the brain or float in the atmosphere. It shows what an accomplished songwriter Rachael Sage is and how she can deliver songs with such confidence and ability. There are plenty of other songs like Myopia on the album but I feel the title offering stands from the pack. It seems to hold the most weight and nuance and I think it is the representation of what Sage is trying to say. It is a wonderful song and one that is perfect for this time of year. We are with family and giving a lot but many of us are caught up in the tensions around us and maybe not being as open and humble as we can be. I think next year provides an opportunity for reassessment and change and we all could do with something more positive. Sage is definitely one who wants change and is offering the listener with excellent wisdom and guidance.

I have explored various sides of Rachael Sage and I hope I have done justice to her work and endeavour. Even though the Myopia album came out a few months ago, I was keen to review a song from it and not let it slip by. Ensure you investigate every track from the record and do not let it pass you by. There are some fantastic songs throughout and you will get something different from each of them. I was hooked by so many of them and will make sure I listen more through the weekend. It is a bit too early to see where Rachael Sage will go and what the next few months will be about. I think there are touring dates booked but make sure you look at her social media channels and get to grips with her moves. I know there is a lot of love for Sage in the U.K. and, although I mentioned it in the introduction, I forgot to talk about New York. Maybe I have not left myself enough time but it is an area of the world that always produces sensational and deep music. Perhaps it is the sheer size and variety there but you have the history and richness that runs through the streets. It can be hard living in cities and built-up areas of the world and finding peace and positivity. So many urban songwriters are beholden to a general mood of fatigue and suffocation and, whilst it is genuine and understandable, we need to embrace those who have that hope of positivity. N.Y.C. seems like a very intimidating and scary place to live but there is humanity and so many different nationalities living there. It is hard living in the U.S. and U.K. right now and there are so many problems that need to be tackled. Songwriters cannot ignore everything going on around them but music’s role, in my view, is to help guide and to offer something comforting. Rachael Sage is a natural leader in the sense she can write music that makes you feel better and there is so much going on that spike the mind. I know she will be very busy next year and many more people will be turning onto her music. I hope she gets back to the U.K. and we get a chance to see her take to the stage here. I shall wrap things up in a bit but I have loved listening to Myopia and getting involved with its title offering. The song is brilliant and it is one of those cuts that get into the brain and you will be remembering it for a long time. I might do a couple more reviews before the end of 2018 but I was keen to involve Rachael Sage. Make sure you have a listen of the album and follow Rachael Sage on her social media channels. Congratulations to Sage on a brilliant and productive year and let’s hope this continues into 2019. I have heard so many different songwriters and offerings but few have the same qualities and highlights as Sage. She is one of those artists who stands aside from everyone else and offers much food for thought. We need that in music right now and a lot more of it next year. I shall end the review now but want to encourage people to listen to Myopia in its entirety and, if they want a track to pick for special consideration, then its eponymous offering is, to my mind, the best. It is another wonderful, intriguing and spectacular release from an artist who...

FILLS the heart with something special.    

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Follow Rachael Sage

TRACK REVIEW: One-Way Song - Billy Fisher Fitzgerald

TRACK REVIEW:

 

One-Way Song

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Billy Fisher Fitzgerald

 

9.4/10

 

 

The track, Billy Fisher Fitzgerald, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfy7Kv6UAko

GENRE:

Alternative-Rock

ORIGIN:

Manchester, U.K.

The E.P., Passionate Leave, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/5J9zUInFhkNzyYdmVdKLOu?si=Ch9k0ASWRvyvRAR3SlsQLw

RELEASE DATE:

27th November, 2018

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I am not sure how many reviews I will do...

before next year - but I am still finding little treats that prove 2018 is certainly not over. I will talk about One-Way Song in a bit but, before then, I wanted to look at bands who take a more poetic and literary approach to music; influences and sounds that should come back into music more; northern sounds and why we need to re-shift our focus; a bit about unique songwriting – I will end by looking at the 2019 of One-Way Song. I have reviewed a lot of music this year and it has been great to see all the different sounds poking through. I do not feel like I have really touched the surface and I wonder whether it is ever possible to truly know what new music sounds like. There is such a wealth and range out there – spread around the world – that it is daunting and impossible to tame. I hope to step things up next and focus on the bigger artists around but it has been rewarding getting to see some smaller artists making early steps and showing real promise. I love what One-Way Song are doing because there is an originality to them that sort of stands aside. Actually, before I continue on this point; I do wonder whether there is any sort of way we can funnel and organise music so that people like me can specifically target the sounds we want to feature. I have pitched this before but rather than wading through a sea of music; have a website that acts like a search engine where we can put in our criteria – ‘New York’, ‘Hip-Hop’ would be one example – and narrow down our focus to a very particular sonic and physical location. I mention this because, through no fault of the artists, I have been sent a lot of the same stuff. I have not really reviewed much Hip-Hop or Grime; been remiss when it comes to whole swathes of new music but, unless you know where to look, it can be really tough to find those artists. I digress but, in a way, it brings me to One-Way Song. One could not accuse them of being a Hip-Hop act but their music certainly is different to what I have been assessing lately.

One might see the words ‘poetic’ and ‘literary’ tied to music and shudder at what could come through – something rather arty and pretentious with no real substance and meaning. Some artists do create that way but, when looking at Manchester’s One-Way Song, they can balance the accessible and familiar and heighten that through a literary prism. Rather than solely write about love and ordinary heartache; they study these characters and figures that seem relatable and like us but have that extra edge to them. It is hard to explain without bringing a song into play but you get something quite fantastical. It is no surprise seeing as band member Luke Gifedder is a playwright himself! He can bring this sort of dramatic and evocative edge to the songs and, with his bandmates, concoct these potent and multifarious tales. It is hard to stray away from the trodden path of anxiety and heartache and I understand why artists are sticking to it like a wet tongue on ice. If you go through the breakups and have inner strains then you will want to project that on the page. I get that but it is the dogged over-reliance on this subject that frosts my cake. It is hard for some people to inject any form of optimism and expression into songs that are, let’s be fair, a bit of a drag. I want to discover music that makes me forget about my own troubles and concerns – One-Way Song manage to achieve this. I am not suggesting for a minute that every artist rations themselves when it comes to love and themes like that. I wonder where are the songwriters who could leave those sort of topics at the door and come into the studio with a more open and curious mind. I am reminded of one sadly-departed and missed songwriter, Mark E. Smith. It is no coincidence I mention his name: Keiron Melling produced One-Way Song’s Billy Fisher Fitzgerald and it seems like there are some touches of The Fall in the song. There is not quite the same spit, edginess and accent as one got from Smith but track the lyrics and a certain wit in the song and it is easy to make those parallels.

Smith, in my view, is one of the last real songwriting pioneers who has paved a way for the new generation. The trouble with only writing about love and that sort of thing is that people are not going to be motivated and inspired by it. Fewer new artists are taking the lead of Mark E. Smith and figuring their own blend of his style. Some might say it is sacrilege to drink at the feet of the late genius but I am not suggesting people rip him off wholesale. I have heard a few One-Way Song songs and, in each moment, I can sense the spirit of Smith in the music. Maybe it is the vocals and a distinct northern perspective; a fresh way of writing that seduces the mind or a sensation that gets into the blood and stays in the mind. Whatever it is, I feel like more new bands/acts should follow One-Way Song and what they are doing – or at least straying away from a cliché road and experiment more in 2019. Next year is an exciting and hopeful one and I would like new acts to shape up. There are some brilliant ones who are exempt from my concerns but far too many who lack spirit and original content. One-Way Song are one of these bands who have a loyal and small following but will build on that because of their striking and unusual style of songwriting. I have mentioned how they have a poetic and literary approach to songwriting but maybe it is more character-driven. Perhaps it is a northern way of writing that we also need to shine a light on. I want to stick with influences and different sounds before I move onto a new subject. Let us consider those special and away-from-the-popular-crowd songwriters and wonder why few are trying to follow their lead. I have mentioned Mark E. Smith and, if the band does not object, I will stay at his side…

Maybe it is going to be hard for any new act to adapt what they do and become more Fall-esque. One-Way Song do not have the same jagged cynicism and gruffness as The Fall’s leader but there is a quality that puts me in mind of their music. Maybe Melling’s producing has pointed my mind that way but there is a lot about One-Way Song I can compare with The Fall. The guys have a fondness for history and poetry; they prefer to write about characters and sides of life that do not often make their way into the mainstream and there is a nice combination of humour, intelligence and interesting angles. I will end the review by speaking about the band’s future and why they can make big strides in 2019 but they have already accomplished a lot. It is hard to really touch on any other influences of One-Way Song but I get little elements of certain artists. Maybe that freshness is a good thing and you certainly do not grope too heavily in the direction of others. The band’s E.P., Passionate Leave, is out and it is filled with wonderful songs that warrant repeated spins. The band, on the E.P., have channelled the Vorticism (an art and poetry movement around the time of the First World War) and they have reimagined how they would write if they lived in this century. That in itself is a unique starting point so it is wonderful digging into the songs and pulling them apart. I am reminded of someone like Paddy McAloon, actually – a man I have been mentioning a little bit lately. The Prefab Sprout lead is another one of those northern songwriters who can study characters and take a less personal but more original approach to music. McAloon is bringing out some new music next year and, on all of his albums, he has delighted and stunned people with his incredible songwriting gift. There is nobody like him but, in a slight manner, I can detect the influence of songwriting leaders like McAloon in newcomers such as One-Way Song.

Perhaps it is something in the water but I am finding the more able and interesting songwriters are coming from the North. It might be the way they can shout above the London crowd or a natural reflection of the local people and the way they speak. Perhaps there is more commercial pressure in the South but there is something wonderful happening in the North. You can say this is nothing new and, when you look at the most fascinating and original songwriters from the past few decades – from Mark E. Smith and Morrissey through to Paul Heaton and Alex Turner – they all have called the North their home. I do feel like there is a divide when it comes to creation and the style of music. It has been the way, for a long time, the mainstream and press have gravitated towards the South. Maybe it is easier to bond with music that is perhaps a little less challenging. Northern artists have a spirit and mannerism that is all theirs and I feel they expend more effort when it comes to songwriting nuance and personality. Look at a band like One-Way Song and you have a continuation of this rich and inspiring northern tapestry. Their name comes from a poem by Wyndham Lewis (who founded Vorticism) and One-Way Song incorporate video and theatre into their live performances. The guys match art and theatre with music to create a more immersive and memorable experience. I love gigs that are traditional and straight-forward but it is good to see artists trying something new and providing a more captivating show. This year has seen Talking Heads’ leader David Byrne take his latest album, American Utopia, on the road. There is dance and lecturing at his shows; an almost theatrical approach to music and, as such, reviewers have been blown away. His multimedia, sense-moving show brings us the hits new and old but there are other layers that mean you are not just witnessing a music show – it is almost like a religious conversion!

Maybe One-Way Song are a way off of doing something similar but they do have a similar approach to a live show. Other artists like St. Vincent and Christine and the Queens have pushed the boundaries of live performances and, in an age where there is mass competition and lacking focus, they have caused a storm. I will end this section by combining northern sounds and the live experience. I think we are too beholden to artists in London and it can be a bit sad seeing so many great northern artists neglected. One-Way Song are making their way and doing fine but they are still in an area of the world that is not getting the acclaim and parental guidance it needs. There are a load of brilliant acts coming from cities like Manchester and I know for a fact what a stunning and varied scene there is right now. I speculated how northern artists have a different personality and musical perspective compared to the rest of the music landscape. In 2019, I think the media needs to open up their eyes and point their telescope the way of the North. Maybe not as extreme as focusing all their energy there but at least keeping focused on what is coming from there. I do feel like a lot of the future stars are making music in the North right now and maybe the press attention is not as hot and loyal as we’d like. I shall move on from this point in a bit but I feel One-Way Song have a great locker of colours and gems that will see them succeed and get into the mainstream. I have mentioned fallen gods like Mark E. Smith – we need songwriters that have that strange and wonderful edge that would make things a lot more interesting. Let us move to a great song from their E.P., Passionate Leave, and celebrate a unique band who are primed for some very good things before too long.

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One gets some futuristic echoes and electronics that open up Billy Fisher Fitzgerald. I was expecting this old-age character that lived in the early part of the last century and was known for his rather lugubrious and addictive personality – someone who can often be found walking the street drunk and ‘delighting’ the crowds. Maybe that is a rather harsh predication but one has their own views and impressions when faced with that name. We experience something warped and tripping that beckons this rather strange and wonderful song. I have mentioned The Fall and one half-expects Mark E. Smith to come in with his distinct drawl and unique take on life. What we do get is something more unexpected and, perhaps, more accessible. There are two skies, as the lead says, and the song transforms from this warping and cosmic slow to something rushed and pummelling. The song’s hero is someone who has a very alive and distinct personality and one of those people who sticks in the mind. There is a truth and reality behind the song but one is free to imagine and discover their own story. I was thinking about someone who liked a drink but had a charming heart. Maybe there is a deeper truth and darkness but one is hooked by the song. I was transfixed by the energy and sheer boldness of the song but it is when we get some echoed and Fall-like vocals that the hairs really stood up. The lead is announcing himself as the song’s hero and meeting our acquaintance. From the spacey and weird opening to the rush that follows – we are not slowed right down and the song goes in a new direction. I loved listening to the isolated and echoed/augmented vocal that punctuates the song and treats things like a story. We have had a foreword and now the first chapter has begun. There are backing vocals that support Luke Gifedder and the whole song has a real unity and sense of togetherness.

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The guitars strut and swagger and allow the song breathe and run. The percussion is solid and physical and the combination is heady and wonderful. The vocals, one might feel, would not match the composition but there is a natural blend that means everything hangs together wonderfully. The professional and assured production shines and highlights every aspect but keeps things dirty and not too clean. A conversation takes place and we hear Fitzgerald join the fray. He has already introduced himself and there is development. Our man has a rather original and memorable personality and does not seem to care what people think of him. One-Way Song have created this song that is like a play; a scene that brings in distinct characters and lets the listener conspire and dream. It is hard not to think of The Fall when the fuzzed vocals have an element of Mark E. Smith. There are two skies still and two-tone shoes; the news says that Billy is back in town and people are being made aware. It is almost like this big event seeing the hero come into town. The band mix the odd and standout dialogue with a sound that is more traditional and familiar. When the song races and campaigns, you get sensations of 1990s Alternative and there is a clear quality that rings in the ears. It is wonderful seeing the two rather distant worlds clash in this epic song. On the one hand, you have a fresh and peppy sound that is singalong and catchy and then there is something weirder that brings in this figure that has lived quite a life! Everyone will have their own impression of what Billy Fisher Fitzgerald looks like and why he has such a reputation. I was amazed at how easy it was to drift away and think about this figure that is on everyone lips.

He has left town and might have had a sworded past but I’d like to think there is a lot of good in him and he is one of those people easy to love. Whatever the real truth is; one cannot overcome the charm and appeal of the song. You listen to it time and time again and pick up things that were missed the first time around. I kept going back and was amazed at how the song stays in the mind and you will be humming lines. One-Way Song have been playing a little while and they sound utterly focused and united throughout. Here is a band that stands aside from the crowd and really do have a wonderful way of doing things. I think they will go onto do a lot of good in 2019 and they can really clean up. There is nothing like them right now and I feel a lot more people will want to hear songs like Billy Fisher Fitzgerald. The song is fourth on the E.P. and gives Passionate Leave a real spark and sense of personality. Not that the rest of the songs lack that but I was more drawn to this number – it has its own skin and an impact that is really interesting and potent. You will listen to Billy Fisher Fitzgerald and want to come back time and time again. Perhaps it is suggestions and elements of The Fall or the way the lyrics project stories and wonderful visions. I was attracted to so many things and love how One-Way Song do things. You will want to get behind the band and follow them into 2019. Here, on this one song, they show what a force they are and are very different to everyone out there. In a music scene that is packed and busy; it is rare to see a band stand out and shine so brightly. Let’s hope this momentum, focus and sense of quality continues next year. I also hope the media gets behind One-Way Song and ensures they get one step closer to the mainstream. The guys deserve that and, I feel, they are primed for very good things. It is very exciting seeing this young group grow and blossom into something very strong and dynamic.

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I have talked a lot about the North and various aspects that are particular to One-Way Song. Passionate Leave is a fantastic E.P. that is full of body and life. I think there is a lot more this E.P. can give and I need to listen to it a lot more. What amazes me about the band is their approach to performance and how they are mixing art alongside music. This year has been defined by a more political approach to music – the best albums – and the finest live performances have gone beyond the basic stage-band set-up and transformed what a musician can do. I think One-Way Song have the promise to match the likes of David Byrne with their shows and the music has a very wondrous and captivating quality. Billy Fisher Fitzgerald is part of a five-song E.P. that is solid, rounded and detailed. There are some nods towards conventional avenues but what separates One-Way Song from the rest is the way they can put characters and eye-opening personalities into the fold and create their own world. Many bands might try this sort of approach and fail in their ambitions. There is a tightness and focus within One-Way Song that makes the music solid and nuanced without losing focus. You swim in this ocean of imagination and wonderful images and are helpless to resist. I feel there is a lot more to come from the Manchester band and they are turning heads right now. Make sure you investigate the group and check out where they are headed. I have experienced a lot of great new music in 2018 and it is fitting to end (almost) this year with a solid and special band that go beyond the familiar and routine. I think it is the original tones and angles that makes the band so appealing and promising.

Maybe mentioning The Fall’s Mark E. Smith was a rash decision but I feel there are similarities. Look at the way Smith wrote songs and the sort of people he brought in. Maybe they were slightly grubbier and more personal than One-Way Song but I applaud any artist that steps away from the mass of the traditional and does something bold. I want to experience music that brings something new to the plate and nourishes my mind in a new way. It is good to see One-Way Song progress and I can see them going a long way in the industry. Things are almost done in 2018 and they will want to rest for a little bit. It is a well-deserved rest because the guys have been busy indeed. They have performed local shows and taken their music to the people; their E.P. has garnered some great reviews and people are starting to respond in a very direct and passionate way. It would be remiss of me to make big predictions but there is nothing to suggest the band will remain local for much longer. It is a tough industry with lots of fish in the sea but those who have sharp teeth and can swim fast are primed for glory. By that, I mean One-Way Song have a sound and style all of their own; they are hungry and ambitious and I can see all of that effort paying off. I am predicting which acts are going to storm things next year and can easily put One-Way Song in that group. It has been a successful year for the band and I think they will take even bigger steps next year. Maybe there will be an E.P. or album but I hope they continue to create great songs and get their music to the people. Many here in the South will want to see them and I feel there will be ample demand for their music here. I am excited to see where they head and what the next move is. I know the guys will already have plans but I think the media needs to react to their work and start looking more closely to the North. It is still deprived and overlooked (compared to the South) and that is a huge shame. I have found so many great northern treasures this year and feel like they all deserve their place. Maybe things will change in 2019 – and the media will correct things – but I think the likes of One-Way Song are going a long way to putting northern music into focus. I shall end things here but suggest people listen to their E.P., Passionate Leave. It has been a wonderful 2018 for One-Way Song and I know they will continue to build on this. Get behind them and ensure you do not let these excellent musicians...

PASS you by.   

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Follow One-Way Song

TRACK REVIEW: Passive - Like This

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Passive

Like This

 

9.3/10

 

The track, Like This, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/4zywxd6AMLoj8ewX8btYjK?si=HqmgDBAeTGWsaDX6b4-TlQ

GENRE:

Alternative-Rock

ORIGIN:

Watford, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

30th November, 2018

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AS we are coming to the end of the year...

I wanted to look at what trends we might see in 2019 and why bands will make a revival. I will also investigate subjects in songs and why it is important to redefine and remould; a quick check at releasing music and why it is best to put quality over quantity; artists who are playing outside of London but get the best of both worlds; why next year will be an important one for music – I will end by looking ahead and seeing where Passive might head. There are a lot of impressive aspects regarding Passive but, perhaps, their name is not one of them. It is short and simple but it also happens to be very hard to Google. I can understand why they wanted something punchy but, not only are there other bands called Passive, but it is incredibly difficult to narrow down the guys on a search engine. There is not a lot they can do about it now but I do wonder whether their name is the best representation about who they are and how they stand out – one would not heard the name and instantly think about a unique and sparkling band who are doing things their own way. Maybe I am not seeing their side of things but it is just as well the band produce fantastic music. Their creative name and identity stands out a lot more than the one-syllable, Google-unfriendly name they have chosen to emblazon their uniforms with. I mention the name thing because, in order to get ahead and make the biggest stride, you need to distinguish yourself and be as visible as possible. In terms of the mainstream sounds; I think solo artists will continue to rule and there will be an increase in the artists who are talking about politics and social issues. The underground, mind you, will be very different. Things are not quite the same there.

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I think Passive will be among the chasing pack and there is going to be that need for bands to come through and make a statement. Whilst I think it is great solo artists are having more influence and they are the ones who are creating the biggest albums; bands have started to fade out in the mainstream and take less of a role. I have explored this before and wondered why this shift has happened – 2019 will be different regarding the underground and that imbalance. Whilst there are a lot more solo artists than bands in new music; I feel that desire for band-made music will change this trend. I feel we will clamber after bigger sounds and a sense of unity. Given the fact the U.K. is divided and isolated right now; that psychological issue – being alone and wanting to go solo – will have an effect on music. I am seeing some great bands emerge and make terrific music but it is solo artists who are getting most of the acclaim. I am seeing many pining for something bigger and a solid musical unit. I like solo artists a lot but do miss the days when bands were leading and what we were all listening to. Perhaps we have come too far to see that scene return but it is what bands are saying – or what they are not saying – that is giving solo artists the edge. Solo artists have the ability to be more diverse with their material and they can be a lot more personal. I think bands have got caught looking at rather general themes such as love and have not dug as deep as solo artists. The reason I think bands in the underground will make a claim is because of the way the world is changing and how music needs to react. We cannot stand by and see how things are shaping up without taking note. Passive talk about conventional subjects like relationships but they seem to have that desire to go further and write something important. They want to be discovered and loved and, to do that, they need to follow the likes of IDLES when it comes to subject matter. I do not think bands can strictly narrow their focus in a market that wants to see them succeed, push forward and rise to the top.

The band’s latest cut, Like This, redefines what youth is and puts a new spin on things. It is not, as you might expect, immature and generic but it goes a lot further and explores different angles. Maybe Passive are a few years off getting mainstream attention but they need to follow the same path as the biggest bands out there. In terms of lyrics and themes, Passive are doing the right thing and are not rigidly sticking with broken hearts and the same complaints. That is not to say heartache and strain is not valid and desired, but I think too many artists get fixated and do not understand the need to widen their horizons. If we are all listening to the same music and the same words, it means we are not being challenged and we go looking elsewhere. I think bands, as I say, will do a lot better in 2019 in terms of the underground and the subjects talked about will contribute to that heavily. The band, now, are discussing youth and a unique take on that but I think they will go even further and keep pushing things. I feel they can tackle subjects like politics and what is happening in the world but also stay closer to home. I am not one who feels relationships need to be ignored and we should forget them but too many people get fixated. Passive impress me because they combine an original set of lyrics and pair that with music that has so much colour, diversification and nuance. You can hear one of their songs and discover new light every time you investigate things. I do not think it is a coincidence artists who have made this year’s best albums are standing away from love and are looking at the wider world. I have some suggestions for bands like Passive and how they can succeed in 2019.

I have been a bit down on their name – their song titles are more striking – but they can do something about the lyrics and themes. They have already made a big impact regarding their voice and songbook but now, more than ever, we want bands to create music that is stirring and takes a political stance. We have lived through a hectic and chaotic year and are more separate than ever. I am not sure what next year will hold and whether we will be more stable than 2018. I doubt things will improve anytime soon and, because of this, we are looking to music for a sense of guidance, unclouded truth and escape. Bands who want to succeed and get into the mainstream need to think about music in these terms now. They need to provide some fun and light escape but also balance that with songs that study fresh angles and have a conscience to them. Alongside that, it is vital groups need to be the political voice and have to lead our hand. It might be impossible to achieve all of this but the desire for bands has waned because there are few who are striking the heart and opening the mind. The mainstream has seen a few great bands take big strides and resonate and I think this will translate into the underground. I think Passive opened their music account with a bang and, although they talked about angst, they are already growing and expanding their horizons. It is all well and good providing a blast of noise and anger but that will not last and impress if there is a samey and predictable message at work. General tension, angst and anger is useless if others cannot relate or a deeper message is not at play. We have seen bands perform for decades and the new crop needs to be aware of this. Passive have taken a big leap on their new single and are not solely talking about their own lives and are showing more maturity, awareness and boldness.

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The guys are balancing the demands and appeal of London with the different scene and identity of Watford. I think Watford is a great place for music and has that proximity to the capital. What gets me is how there is that focus on London and nowhere else. We know cities like Manchester and Leeds have a great scene and we are not placing a lot of attention there. London is vital but I feel you can take advantage of the city and not live there. The guys of Passive have played shows around Watford and are creating a legacy there but they are close enough to London and can get advantages from there. I do think it can be expensive and risky basing yourself in London and not always ideal. If you have a base that is close enough to commute but you do not have the same pressures and strains then that can benefit the music. I think Watford is a very up-and-coming place that needs to be explored more and many of us overlook. It is not as popular and bustling as Liverpool or Leeds but there are some great acts coming through. Passive have played some great local gigs but they have the ambition to head to London and conquer the city. They are playing in Hoxton tomorrow and are on the stage at nine. It is good to see them gain attention and traction in London but I feel they can base themselves in Watford and not lose focus. If you live in London, it does not mean you will have an advantage over anyone else and it can cause some damage. Being too engrossed in the city and being in the rush has an excitement but it can wear you down. The ability to have some personal space to create and that convenience to commute to the capital seems to be working for a lot of artists.

Passive have said the reason they are a band and playing together is because of the gigs. Live experience and getting that instant reaction is the most important thing to them. That makes sense. If you are in a band then you need to be seen and have people watch you connect. The way to do that is to get onto the stage and bond with the audience. Because of that, Passive are getting themselves out there and want that acclaim. They are doing well in Watford and gaining a name for themselves there but London is a harder game. We have more competition and it is trickier getting up that ladder. Passive are taking the right course and their exceptional live show, combined with their subject matter and natural bond means they are making waves a