TRACK REVIEW: FloodHounds - Take It Too Far

TRACK REVIEW:

 

FloodHounds

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Take It Too Far

 

9.4/10

 

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The track, Take It Too Far, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/3y9kppFghlgJz8O7J6Jf7L?si=bBWfS-azSuivPeESzG4C6Q

GENRE:

Alternative-Rock

ORIGIN:

Sheffield, U.K.

OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE:

20th October, 2018

_________

THIS time around…

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I want to look at a great band that is back in my view and I want to pay some new attention to. I want to address, before I get to them, Sheffield and the Yorkshire scene in general; the conflict between bands and solo artists and how the balance is starting to tip; lyrics that paint an optimistic picture; developing as a group and making changes – I will end by looking at how FloodHounds will develop and what their future has in store. This is not the first time I have come across the band and it is nice to be back with them. I am pleased to see them again and I wonder whether their new song, Take It Too Far, is the start of something full. It is always nice reviewing and interviewing artists from all areas of the world but I am back in Yorkshire. It is a county that keeps cranking out fantastic acts and I am pleased to put FloodHounds alongside the very best. Yorkshire is a vast and colourful county that is teeming with sounds and brilliant artists. I am not sure whether there is something in the water – I think there must be! – but you tend to get a lot more variation and strength in Yorkshire. What strikes me about Sheffield is the consistency and the history the city has. Look at bands like Pulp and Arctic Monkeys and you have two of the best bands of the last thirty years. Maybe they differ in terms of style but you can tell there is a distinct local sound that comes into their music. The city is still firing out brilliant artists and wonderful venues like The Leadmill mean there are places for artists to play. I don’t know really. Maybe one finds more cooperation and unity in Sheffield but it is a part of the world that should not be overlooked.

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You can investigate the classic artists from here but I know there is a new breed working hard and keeping the city burning. FloodHounds are in no rush to move away and have a great fanbase there. The trio have been playing for a long while now and there is a great connection within the ranks. I am a huge fan of the work they do and I feel it is where they are based that means they are solid and together. It can be hard surviving and growing somewhere like London but it is easier and less stressful when you are away from there. I have nothing against music in London but it is difficult tackling the daily grind and making a name in a very packed area. Sheffield is away from the capital – so critics might not come here first – but I feel there is less tension and more room to breathe for artists. What impresses me is how diverse the city is and the variety on display. I know FloodHounds have been playing a long time but I have seen them add new elements into their music. Other acts in Sheffield have taken inspiration from FloodHounds and incorporated that into what they do. I feel local sources and national websites need to be more invested in Sheffield and realise it is a city that has always provided us brilliant music. We get too fixated on other parts of the world and forget there are places like Sheffield that are bursting with life and activity. I will move onto a new subject in a bit but I am fascinated by local differences and the various scents one gets when you move around. Yorkshire is a county that, I feel, is producing the best music around and we all need to get more invested. Sheffield is an industrious and steely city that is proud and hard-working. Make sure you spend a little more time that way and unearth all the brilliant new acts that are emerging right now.

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It has been a while since a publication did a rundown of Sheffield artists to watch but, right now, FloodHounds should be top of your list. I have looked a lot at solo artists the past few weeks and am always extolling their virtues. I feel it is a ripe and productive time for them and it has been a long time since bands ruled the scene. Arctic Monkeys were one of the last bands to properly have mainstream attention and apart from some modern acts like IDLES; how long has it been since a band has been right in the centre of music?! I feel there will be a shift happening in the next few years. Music goes through cycles and different trends dictate what we hear in the mainstream. Right now, solo music seems to be reigning and it is a period where brilliant young names are creating work that will resonate and remain for years. I wonder why bands have taken a backseat in the mainstream – I feel it might have something to do with the sounds they produce and whether they can mix it with solo artists. There have not been THAT many exciting bands come through in the big leagues for a bit so I am looking to the underground to inspire. Look at the legendary bands like Pulp and Radiohead and they were coming into music at a time when bands were more common and, between them, they were providing personal and unique sounds. Right now; it is harder to be distinct and the popular demand seems to be aimed at solo artists. It means new bands have a harder time of things and it may take longer to transcend and get recognition. FloodHounds are part of a culture that can provide hard and grumbling sounds with lyrics that go deeper than the commercial and cliché. I feel a lot of bands (in the mainstream) either have softer sounds or are quite predictable or they are repeating what has already come before. The best of the newcomers are showing their stripes but it might take a while for a real shift to occur.

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A reason why I feel FloodHounds will remain and inspire is because they have that bond and chemistry – which I shall talk about later – and the music being produced is fantastic and consistent. You can hear a FloodHounds song and take away messages that are compelling, encouraging and interesting and the sound is always urgent and bright. The band has gone through some changes but I feel like the brilliant music they are providing is the main asset. It may take a little while longer for bands to get properly into the mainstream but we need more bands like FloodHounds. They have a wonderful live show and connection and there is a magic and explosion that gets into the head and stays with you. I am not sure what their plans are for next year but I am sure it will not be long until FloodHounds will get their acclaim. I feel it only takes a few bands to get the spark lit and, from there, they can inspire a movement and revolution. Maybe IDLES and groups like Wolf Alice need a bit of backing but I can see other bands starting to make their way through. It is a great time for music and, whilst solo artists are making big headway and taking biggest attention; I can see a slight shift and I have every faith more balance will come in soon enough. FloodHounds are an ambitious and hungry band that are based in a brilliant county. They have a lot of support around them and have gained acclaim for journalists and radio. There are  a few reasons why bands are slightly struggling against solo artists but maybe the lyrical content and variation of the compositions are a factor. I think solo artists have more room to manoeuvre and they are less bound to commercial demands and particular sounds. Perhaps I am wrong but bands, over the past few years, have been a bit constrained. I can hear little changes emerging and the underground best are providing something original, fresh and interesting.

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One reason why bands have taken a slight backseat is the lyrics they are producing. I do not want to say solo artists have more appeal in that regard but it has been a while since I heard a band whose words stuck in my mind. FloodHounds, on their latest cut, have an optimistic mindset and are producing words that we all need to abide by. These times are stressful and demanding and it is great artists see that and are releasing music that provides that kick of life and redemption. There is nothing to suggest love-based, less optimistic lyrics are dying out but I am more prone to artists that can talk about something encouraging and reflect the times in which we live. It is a challenging period in history and things are getting rather dark. I am hearing solo artists who are urging something upbeat and urging us to keep strong but, more and more, personal concerns dominate lyrics. That is understandable to an extent but I want to hear more bands/artists thinking outside of their own lives and give us something more profound. FloodHounds mix something general and accessible with inspiring messages and encouraging tones. They want us to know we can all make it through the worst times – not always the case but largely true – and that is something that is unusual in music. Maybe it is a commercial risk straying away from love and broken hearts but I am seeing more and more artists observe the modern world and dig a lot deeper. In terms of their music; FloodHounds have progressed and made some alterations but they have always broken away from the obvious and routine – their music has that flair of individuality and has actual substance. I shall move on now but I wanted to display my views regarding lyrics and how important it is to go beyond the rather easy and tackle bigger themes. It seems, then, that FloodHounds have all the components and contours figured and they might well be one of the first bands to break into the mainstream. I am excited to see how they progress and what comes next for them.

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I have been following them for a long time now and not a lot has managed to faze them. Jack Flynn and Lauren Greaves are the consistent link in the band and they have brought in a new bass player, Joel Hughes. I am not sure why the change has happened but Hughes seems to be settling in well. He made his live debut when FloodHounds supported The Blinders in Derby and FloodHounds are embarking on their next phase. It can be difficult losing a member and having to make changes and, in a lot of cases, it can be the end of the band. If there was another loss then it might be too much but FloodHounds have quickly adapted and strengthened. I like their new addition and it has not changed their sound too much. Things are starting to get big for the band so they need to remain strong and productive. Their latest song has some Blues harmonica thrown in and a Psychedelic bridge section – complete with flutes and all sort of magic! Most bands, like FloodHounds, stick to what they know and are reluctant to break away from something tried and tested. It can be tempting sticking with something familiar and safe and you might not feel easy doing something new and experimenting. FloodHounds have that core sound but feel they are willing to shift and try new things. This is a reason why I feel bands can make their way into the mainstream and the new breed are showing great strength. FloodHounds have a great live sound and have been playing a long time so it is no shock to see them cemented and solid. Rather than continue to play the same sort of thing and keep to that basic drum-bass-guitar routine; they want to expand their horizons and keep things interesting. I know how the local scene is embracing FloodHounds but I can hear people from further afield welcome the band and start to embrace their music. FloodHounds have a Punk edge they, on Take It Too Far, inject Blues and Indie together.

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Before I get down to the song in question; it is worth seeing where the band can go and why I feel they will be big news next year. It has been a little while since we saw new music from FloodHounds and it good to have them back in the mix. Whatever happens in new and mainstream music next year; I am sure we will see a change happening and bands like FloodHounds will make headway. I shall end by speaking about the future of the Sheffield band but I can see them grow and get more intriguing by the release. Few bands have made as big a leap as FloodHounds and they are one of the most solid acts around. Even though they have changed a member and that could have split them; there is that friendship and solidity in the ranks and they all want to continue and make wonderful music. Life for bands can be hard when you have several members and keeping that harmony can be tough. I have a renewed interest in bands and have spent a long time investigating solo artists. Whilst I am a big fan of the solo artist and have been exposed to some incredible sounds; I am excited to adjust my radar and start bringing bands into the mix. Maybe the balance will come in a few years – and will not be instant – but I feel the underground is producing bands with much more substance and intelligence than recent years. Many are discussing important themes and not just sticking with the same subjects time and time again. I hope I have contextualised FloodHounds and what they do but the bottom line is this: they are on a sterling and golden path that will, soon enough, see them rub shoulders alongside the big guns.

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A spirited and hardcore blitz reminds me of Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age – and a song I heard on Spaced that doesn’t come to mind right now! – and it is an instant blast. You are right in the song and FloodHounds are wasting no time getting into the mind.  There are wordless vocals that have a slightly distorted edge and the to-and-fro between the players gets your head rocking and the body moving. I was moved from the very off and impressed by the physicality of the song. The riffs are chunky, the bass guiding and the beats firm. That combination gives a real fizz and electricity to proceedings and, before a word is sung, you are invested and interested to see where the song heads. I mentioned how bands such as FloodHounds stray away from obvious lyrical themes – heartache and romance splits – but they manage to weave a little bit of that into the fold. You get some familiarity and understanding but there is something more widespread and optimistic working away. Whilst the band wants us to be strong and determined; they are talking about something harsh and poisonous. Maybe it is impossible to completely detach away from love and relationships and you always need to put that into music. I don’t know but you can take a few things away from Take It Too Far. There is a lot of hatred and struggle and it seems, even when the first round is done, there is more where that came from! No names are mentioned – and it is not completely clear whether heartache is being assessed – but you might get a bit of political whiff. Perhaps the trio are talking about Government strife and how they are leading us down a bad road. You get a bit of romantic hurt and deceit but you can apply the words to wider concerns and what is happening in the country. Our hero knows we will get there some way and, whether that alludes to harmony in the country or personal satisfaction; I feel like his hurt is shedding and optimism is on the horizon.

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The spirit and influence of Arctic Monkeys is clear but it does not dominate what FloodHounds do. I have seen the trio mutate and grow since the start and they are becoming their own boss more and more. It is nice to hear elements of Arctic Monkeys in the background but the forefront is very much that of the trio. I hear words that talk of hope and improvement and my mind is divided between the personal and political. The clever thing about the song is how you are never completely sure where the story emanates from and what the origin is. The damage has been done and the lead wants to know whether this pattern is coming to an end. Maybe there is a bit of personal problem that has been brought to the forefront. He is tired of the same occurrences and being hurt; having his life altered and affected like this. I, at every stage, am drawn to the idea of political tensions and how the country is moving. You can interpret the song how you want but, at its heart, is that message of improvement and change. It may seem like things are bad now and they will not brighten but that is not true. The trio unite perfectly and provide a composition that is always snaking, teasing and strong. The verbal hit-and-run and this constant crap is getting to the hero but he is resolute. One of the biggest strengths of Take It Too Far is learning from the past and not willing to make the same mistakes. By not revealing names and whether it is about heartbreak, a friendship souring or political upheaval; you can bring your own conclusions to mind and take the song where you feel fit. I always think about the political side of things and how FloodHounds might be thinking about recent events. However you view the song; you cannot get away from the bursting and enflamed composition and the strong lead vocal.

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Greaves comes in with backing vocals and there is a brilliant burst of Blues harmonica. You do not expect it from the song and it provides another angle. More and more, as time goes on, things shift to the personal and you wonder whether they are talking about individual romantic strife or something more general. I was caught by the left-turn the song took and how it shifted from the familiar. Take It Too Far is a song you can play time and time again and get that hit from it. I have been hankering for a song that provides a real release but projects a great message. The more I listen to the song, the more I am divided where it stems from and how it came to FloodHounds. The trio provide an exceptional performance and the production brings every note and sinew to life. The song’s villain is fighting with themselves and it seems like they are digging their own grave. I was thinking about our Government and what a mess they are making but maybe FloodHounds has a common enemy that has inspired their latest single. You need to listen to Take It Too Far a few times for everything to sink in and all the shades hang. It is a fantastic song that gets into the blood and stays with you. I hope FloodHounds continue to make music and we will hear more from them next year. It has been a great and productive career so far but I feel they are hitting a new stride and things are getting stronger. I am thrilled they are back and they have not disappointed with Take It Too Far. A brilliant song that takes you by surprise and gets into the head; I feel it will do wonders on the stage and people will respond to it in a very physical and real way. Make sure you wrap your head around the track and spread the message far and wide.

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The band is playing in London on Friday and then they are back up in Sheffield. The guys have that appeal in the capital but it is the local venues/crowds that are providing the biggest support. Their new single is officially released on 20th October and the gigs they have coming up is to promote it. Right now, we are lucky enough to have it on Spotify and give it a listen before it is officially released to the wider world. I know the band has experienced some change recently but that has not dented their armoury. They will continue to grow and play and I love what they are putting out into the world right now. Take It Too Far is a brilliant song that, I hope, will lead to an E.P. or album. It is clear there is renewed ambition and I am looking forward to see what that translates into. Next year will be a great one for them and I feel there will be big gigs. I am not sure whether the band has plans for international date but I would not be surprised to see FloodHounds take on the world! They have a sound that would do well in America and other parts of the world. I am seeing some great bands come through and it is interesting seeing all the different variations around. The solo artist holds a lot of clout but there has been this huge majority that (I feel) needs to change. Moving forward; 2019 will be a good year for FloodHounds and I know more material will come. Led by Jack Flynn; the Sheffield band will look to add to what they have out there now and I predict some huge gigs will arrive. What impresses me is how FloodHounds keep solid and never drop a step. One might see a slight change in terms of composition and the tones they are bringing into the blend but there is that distinct ‘FloodHounds sound’ that keeps coming through. The trio are among the most solid and fascinating around and you would do well to follow what they do. Everyone needs to show some support for the Sheffield three-piece and get involved with what they are up to. I would like to see them do a few more gigs down London way and Brighton is not too far away. Rather than race ahead and plan a list of gigs; I know they will be promoting their new single and thinking about where they head next. I am sure more material is brewing and they have an idea of what they want to do next. I am compelled to see what that is and how they move. Take a listen to Take It Too Far and let it get into the bones. It is another memorable and strong single from FloodHounds and I am glad they are putting new stuff out there. It has been a busy and eventful last couple of years for the trio but I feel they are strong and rock-solid right now. Maybe they have faced challenges and the odd slip lately but there is no stopping them right now. The FloodHounds juggernaut is strong and determined and you would do good to…

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JUMP on board.

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Follow FloodHounds

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TRACK REVIEW: Fiona Harte - White Picket Fence

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Fiona Harte

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White Picket Fence

 

9.5/10

 

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The track, White Picket Fence, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/3R55JILwSML3YrB1kC4WJb?si=JGD4OTpmTpCxSI1zRWjUDQ

GENRES:

Folk; Singer-Songwriter

ORIGIN:

Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland/New York, U.S.A.

RELEASE DATE:

10th September, 2018

_________

ON this trip out…

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I get to talk about Fiona Harte and what she is up to right now. I will look at her debut single but, before then, I will investigate songs that take something common and add new elements to it. I will look at influences and where some artists take guidance from; artists who move and take a chance somewhere big and new; those who can get into the heart and have that star quality; competing in a challenging business that is seeing a lot of turnover – I want to talk about Harte and where she might head next year. I have looked at Fiona Harte before and have featured her music on my site. It is good to do a proper review of her debut single and what she is doing right now. She is a songwriter that has worked hard to get where she is and it seems like her potential is boundless. What strikes me is how determined she is and what natural talent she possesses. It is quite hard differentiating between songwriters because many of them are talking about the same things and there is not a lot of distance between them. The impulse to talk about love is common and understandable but it seems like every songwriter out there is doing it. I normally would think twice about looking at songwriters who talk about love because it seems to be all anyone talks about. I know it is key to us all but I long for artists who tell stories and break away from the mould; go a bit further and study something more original. This might seem like a slight against Harte but there are a couple of reasons why her subject matter is needed. She is writing a debut single and has it out there now. You cannot really go into the market with something odd and unexpected as you need to bring audiences in and, essentially, write about what you know. Her music switches between Folk and Pop and these genres rely upon those artists who write from the heart and we can connect with. I know she is an intriguing and talented songwriter who will break away from love in future releases but now, on White Picket Fence, she is keeping it safe.

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Again; there is nothing against that because you want to embrace artists who can strike a familiar chord and you can easily bond with. Look back at all the legends and they started their careers looking at relationships and matters of the soul. Harte is among the songwriting tradition but, rather than copy everyone else and create something dull and generic; she has penned a song with a more interesting bent and dynamic. The twenty-four-year-old has had her share of heartache and disappointment and wants to put this down onto the page - she does so in a colourful and intelligent way. One of the most shoulder-shrugging things would be if Fiona Harte were like much of the mainstream and wrote about love in a very stale and formulaic way. She, instead, has decided to use that song title as a sort of dream and curious enigma. Maybe it is that ideal of a white picket fence and settling down; perhaps it relates to something cliché and boring in love – being too settled or boring and not showing enough ambition. In any case, I shall look more into that when I come to the song but it is an interesting number indeed. Harte has written a song about someone who controls the mind and actions by doing very little and it can be rather unsettling. She has the hope new love will come along and there will be something good on the horizon. It is an interesting angle and one not many songwriters explore. I guess, as long as a musician can engage on a different level and do something new, love and its much-trodden themes are safe and fertile ground. Harte is not someone who can ever be caught writing in a very ordinary way or presenting what has already come before. I like her writing because you never know whether she is writing about her own life or taking it from a more fictional space. Her debut single leaves you wondering and the rich language throughout paints pictures and causes interpretation. I will move on now but allude to this point more in the conclusion.

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It is always hard coming into the market and trying to carve out your own territory. I have encountered many songwriters who have come and not really burned that brightly. It is really tough getting attention and setting yourself aside with the first song. Maybe you compromise and do what everyone else is doing and risk taking a long time to get genuine credibility or you can release something fresh and run the risk of people not really getting it. Harte has penned something original and unexpected but there is that familiarity of love and trouble in relationships. It is a nice mix but her influences and sounds gets to me. Harte has been inspired by great artists like Joni Mitchell and Carole King and you can hear that coming through. They might seem like lofty names but so many new artists do not look that far back. It might be snobbish but I worry when young songwriters do not have a musical knowledge past this decade and list all their favourite albums as very recent ones. It is okay being inspired by the likes of Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift but there are so many young artists who only know new music and that is all that matters to them. They have not got that wider knowledge and all of their icons are from today. It is so limited and, as such, you have so many who sound alike and do not retain those icons and what they did. Harte is a more mature songwriter who has grown up around some great music and that has captured her heart. Whilst she does not take too heavily from King and Mitchell; you cannot help but to hear elements of them in her work. I love both of these artists but they have different styles. Mitchell is a more challenging artist in terms of her themes and can often be quite gritty, dark and emotive. She is someone who has enflamed imaginations with these bold stories and incredible albums.

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It is hard to explain but Joni Mitchell is maybe harder to love in terms of her voice – it is quite divisive – but her lyrics are phenomenal. Carole King is a more appealing and popular vocalist and her songs are more traditionally romantic and accessible. The two are legends and have changed music but they are very different in many ways. I am interested to know where Harte came from and how she discovered these artists – you get to hear shades of each in her songs and it is a really interesting brew. I feel influences and idols are as important as anything. It is hard to be unique and every artist has taken from someone else. It is a hard thing to come into music and be completely alien and not be compared with anyone. Influences are important because they give you that guidance and root and it means you can start there and build outwards. Although one does not hear too much of Joni Mitchell and Carole King too heavily; I feel that style of music is most important and Harte prefers the more poetic, deep and classic style. Rather than do something mainstream and too ordinary; you get that clash of relatable heartache and poetic flourishes. Her songwriting has already caught minds and captured people and I think that is going to increase. I do wonder whether there is more material next year but now, with White Picket Fence, we have a song that marks a big talent who has a lot of potential. It is a brilliant and memorable introduction that sets the scene and will leave many people wanting more very soon. She is a Northern Irish artist but is based in New York right now. Some people might say that leap is quite big and scary but it seems like it is working very well for her.

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One might say that is a bit of a strange move. Maybe the scene is not that great where she is from in Co. Tyrone but it is a bit of a trek to get somewhere where her music will resonate. I have never been to Northern Ireland but I wonder whether there is much of a scene beyond Belfast. I know there are a few good spots for music there but it is not a nation as active and well-known as the U.S. America is a nation that has always produced wonderful music and that dream of getting to somewhere like New York and making it big is still there. Songwriters want to settle in and make it soon; they want to get that attention and play alongside the biggest artists around. It is brave stepping outside of your home and safe territory and going somewhere daunting. I cannot imagine how unusual it was going there for the first time and how long it took for Harte to feel truly settled. It is impressive seeing her take this leap right from the start and knowing where she wants to go. You can detect an artist who wants to be a big success and not take years to get there. Her songwriting is already assured and brilliant and it might take years to flourish and be discovered in Northern Ireland. Harte wants to take her music to the masses and it seems New York is a perfect place for her. It is a packed and competitive area but it is possible to find collaborators and plenty of people to make the music shine and spread. More and more, artists are moving to cities and not finding opportunities in smaller towns. As more and more musicians come into the world; it is hard to set yourself aside and a lot of venues are closing. What worries me is how stressful the city can be and how expensive it is for musicians. Harte has gone to a part of the world that has its struggles and problems but, in terms of music, it is a hotbed of variation, innovation and wonder.

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I have moved myself to get my work further and it is a tricky thing to master. You take that time to settle in and, once you have, you have to keep your ears and eyes open for any chance that comes along. It is different in terms of journalism but songwriters have the same issues. Fiona Harte is a young woman who knows what she wants but will still have to tackle the size and width of New York. I know she is making moves and turning heads but I feel next year will be a very big one for her. After bringing out White Picket Fence; the question is whether there will be more material and what happens next. New York is a perfect place to get fresh inspiration and collaborate; work with some top talent and get the music to a load of people. I am excited for her and know she will be a big success very soon. What impresses me is how hard she is working and how determined she is. The songwriter has moved away – I am not sure if it is a permanent thing or a temporary move – and shifted into a whole new world. Rather than feel overwhelmed and buckled by that task; Harte has taken to it very quickly and knuckled down. She is hard promoting her debut track and wants her name to get out there. Already, there are a lot of sources spreading the news and falling for what she does and it is all very positive. Harte is a songwriter that, as I said, is writing about something quite familiar and known but does so in a new way. Not only is she talking about heartache and relationship problems in an innovative manner but she is able to get into the head very quickly. It is hard to get your songs heard above everyone else and resonate but she has done that right away. I feel it is a mix of her personality and influences that make her music so strong.

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Fiona Harte is someone who has put her heart on the line and committed herself but been messed around. She has given her all and faith and been let down. Rather than get too despondent and defeatist; she knows something good will come along and there is hope on the horizon. The worst thing a new artist can do is to take something as obvious as love and write in a very unengaging and simple way. She knows this but also knows relationship issues are a commodity we can all understand. It is the manner of her words and the way her voice elevates sentiments that gets under the skin and stays with you. As a songwriter; Harte mixes poetry and striking images with common strands and the result is a bold and brilliant bouquet. She is in an industry that is as brutal and unpredictable as anything and it can be easy to have hope and then be buried. That has happened with many different songwriters. They come into the business and have big ambitions but, unless they do their own thing and take risks, their music will never remain and people will go elsewhere. Fiona Harte is someone who has been looking around music and what is being put out. She is a fan of Pop I am sure but her music is much more indebted to classic Folk artists and iconic singer-songwriters. That is a breath of fresh air in an industry that is still putting too much focus on mainstream Pop and that kind of thing. There is so much turnover and choice in music and it can be startling covering great artists and those who have the potential to remain. It is great to hear Harte emerge and I have every hope she will remain for a very long time and there is a lot more material to come from her. Given the fact White Picket Fence is out there; it is probably wise I get down to it and offer my thoughts.

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One gets relatable and classical tones from the opening strings. The acoustic guitar flows like water and tumbles. It is a fast and exciting rush that is pastoral but emotional. You get a little bit of Joni Mitchell at her finest and shades of modern artists like Billie Marten. I was engrossed from the off and compelled to imagine and conspire. Before Harte comes to the microphone and any words come forth; you are already struck and buckled by the beautiful tones. The guitar adds so much and you already start to get impressions of a relationship going through storms. The heroine approaches and asks to be wound up so someone can watch her choke. The calm manner in which she delivers the words makes them stand out and seem more shocking. Luscious, smoky and delicate; the vocal is delightful and potent and has so many different shades. It is a beautiful and divine sound but one that seems to carry hurt and burden around with it. You get feathers and smoke and there are all sort of vivid images being projected. Maybe we are seeing someone being pulled apart by the black horses of love and being torn to the wind. It is clear there has been some hard background and things are not going well. Perhaps Harte is stuck in a relationship where she is being controlled and hurt and there is that need to remain strong and deal with that comes her way. The hero looks at Harte and expresses more than words can; he is holding her and taking her breath. One wonders whether there is pure love coming through or whether those looks hold something a little unsettling and insincere. Maybe there is that coercive nature and something deceiving lingering. Harte has cracks on her back and it seems she has been carrying a lot of pain around for a while. The man is the reason she has left and if she wants her than she will be gone. Maybe he has been given too many chances and there is no more room left for him. Harte delivers her words with such clarity and beauty and you actually hear little tones of singers like Eva Cassidy. I am not deliberately trying to compare Harte to anyone else but you can picture her record collection and upbringing by the way she sings and how her voice mutates. White Picket Fence is an emotional and heartaching song that is honest, affecting but has that redemptive hope. One needs a few listens to get to grips with the song and really consider its meanings. You can have your views and interpretations but White Picket Fence is more complex than that. It is a marvellous and accomplished debut single from a songwriter, on this evidence, who has a long future ahead of her.

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Perhaps there was affection and safety before but the tide has turned and there is that desire to find something purer and less strained. The song looks at brighter horizons and how things can get better but it is clear how much has already been taken from her. I was following the words and painting all sorts of scenes! Harte’s voice is that ever-striking thing that has immense beauty and variations. You get sweetness and seductiveness but gravitas and command come through. It is a colourful and complex sound that makes the words resonate and gives them so much potency. She is not willing to be controlled and does not want the aggression in her life. I am not sure what has caused this split and why things have turned this way but the heroine is keeping her head. As opposed wallow and document a break-up in a very staid and comfortable way; Harte uses language as a way of writing this fascinating and poetic drama. One feels the force of images and metaphors; a songwriter who is challenging tough days into something beautiful and wise. You want things to work out for the best but you cannot get away from the struggles and chains that are haunting her. Harte wants to be the one who “got away” and you wonder whether that relates to her escaping his clutches or a pure sweetheart who the man did not realise – someone who was special and he messed things up. The building backing vocals produces this choral affect and, alongside the persistent tumble of acoustic guitar, it is a highly charged and gorgeous thing. I detect a nod to artists like Laura Veirs and Neko Case – check out the album case/lang/veirs and songs like Behind the Armory – and it is a very pleasing mix. Harte still sees white picket fences and green grass growing; she has that romantic ideal and feels that potential. I wonder whether that image is a romantic dream or a symbol of safety and somewhere calm. Again; Harte splits the mind and you wonder what the real truth is. In any case…you cannot get away from that desire to break from a rather troubled space and find something idyllic and comforting. She also knows new love will come through or things can improve.

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I have talked a lot about Harte and what she is writing about. The Northern Ireland-born artist has grown up around some wonderful musicians and has been struck by their genius. You can hear shades and spirits of Joni Mitchell and Carole King but it would be unfair to solely mention them. Above all else, Harte is her own writer and takes from her own experiences. She is a wonderful writer who can pen poetic expressions but there is so much working away. A wonderful artist who seems to tick all the boxes; I wonder where her music will go and what she has coming in 2019. Today is National Album Day and it is a chance for us all to reminisce and talk about our favourite albums. Not only that but we get to underline the relevance of albums today and argue, against some people’s opinions, that albums are dead. I feel they are burning bright and people still have an appetite for them. I am not sure whether Fiona Harte, today, will be listening to something like Blue (Joni Mitchell) or Tapestry (Carole King) – and whether she is aware of the day – but I know she loves albums and all they offer. The reason I bring this topic to mind is the way Harte writes and where she wants to head. One feels White Picket Fence is the start of a story that could continue and blossom very soon. I know there will be more material coming and I feel an E.P. or album might not be that far away! There is so much she can talk about given the fact she has moved to the U.S. and changed her life quite a bit. It would be easy to fall back on relationships and exploring them every way possible. Rather than repeat herself and be too predictable; Harte, I assume, will be talking about all manner of things and having that mix of personal and poetic.

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She is a writer who can take from the heart but has the ability to transcend that and step into other worlds. I cannot wait to see where she steps next and I imagine there will be tour dates soon enough. Having moved to New York; things will take a little longer to truly settle and she is getting to grips with everything there. Maybe it will take a while before she can command a big tour but I know there will be U.S. demands and people back here will want to see her play. Make sure you throw your support behind her and do not let her music pass you by. It is hard to survive in modern music and, unless you have all the bases covered, you can get swallowed and overlooked. Fiona Harte will have no such issues and I feel she has a lot to say. Her debut single is a brilliant moment that is as strong as anything out there and does a hard thing: looks at love and common subjects but does something new and exciting. I was drawn to the lyrics and they sort of took me by surprise. Her voice is gorgeous and the composition, whilst quite simple, is highly engaging, affecting and emotional. Here is a rounded and complete songwriter who has a natural charm, sense of the mysterious but is relatable and easily likeable. Harte will round the year off by getting White Picket Fence out there and planning her next moves. Maybe there will be a few smaller gigs or she may already be percolating with ideas for others songs. Whatever is in her mind; let’s hope she gets time to rest and reflect on how far she has come. The striking and stunning songwriter will have a lot of demand come her way and it could be easy to take that all on and burn out. Rather than run too fast, she will want to carefully consider what is coming and what she wants to achieve with her music. The future is hers and I feel she can go anywhere she wants. Ensure you support Fiona Harte and listen to White Picket Fence; follow her next steps and watch a talented and bright songwriter…

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SLOWLY seduce the world.

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Follow Fiona Harte

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TRACK REVIEW: Cedric Burnside - We Made It

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Cedric Burnside

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We Made It

 

9.8/10

 

 

The track, We Made It, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/7oMfprCkncaMYeT88o9FVR?si=WcjxCm-vT9C5lCtsogNW8A

GENRE:

Electric-Blues

ORIGIN:

Mississippi, U.S.A.

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The album, Benton County Relic, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/4T2zPWhLYVCjambuNxVbhd?si=mJSKxMI2Q4eQeoSRl2yakQ

 RELEASE DATE:

14th September, 2018

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THE last couple of days…

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have allowed me the chance to look in other directions for music and break away from what I usually do. This time around, I am investigating Cedric Burnside and a few points relevant to him. Burnside is the grandson of the legendary R.L. Burnside and you get embers of the great man himself. I want to talk about the Blues and how that has evolved; Mississippi and how Burnside still resides there; the upbringing he had and why his background affects his music; how he recorded his album, Benton County Relic, quickly and why we need to spend time around an artist like Burnside. You might have heard that surname but Cedric Burnside does not copycat his grandfather – he has the same sense of passion but tackles Blues in a slightly different manner. I am a new convert to Cedric Burnside and have been diving into his music. I have not followed the Blues for a while and I think we all get the impression the genre is going to be rather old and predictable. Think of the Blues legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House and Blind Willie McTell and you definitely get a sense of what the Blues was about in the 1920s and 1930s. I dip in time and again but it is quite hard to get into a head-space where I can sit and listen to the Blues. Maybe there is not enough going on or there is something lacking in the production. Whatever it is, I feel many of us avoid the genre because it lacks spark, magic and physicality. I am interested tracing the Blues back seven or eight decades because, in many ways, those artists are the forefathers of what we hear now. Listen to what is in the mainstream right now and, to some degree, you can trace it back to the Blues. It is a vital genre that holds so much power and is very influential – even if you are not a fan of the original source.

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My favourite sort of Blues is when it is sprinkled with Rock and Garage. I am a big fan of The White Stripes and The Black Keys and love what they did. Maybe we do not hear so much Blues-inspired music in the mainstream but that is a shame. Not only can you provide gritty and confessional lyrics but the music has that urgency, kick and electricity. Cedric Burnside is someone who has not betrayed and modernised the lyrical roots of the Blues. He has managed to put his own life and stories into the pot but has updated the Blues. There are acoustic moments and something that reminds one of players like Son House but the electricity has been cranked up and it is a lot more fresh and exciting. I know the Burnside legacy and realise what pressure there is to produce work that is true and loyal to the lineage. I feel Burnside is someone who can convert people to the Blues and has plenty going on in his music. Many wonder whether Rock and Alternative are dead because you do not get enough captivating and memorable bands out there. Maybe that is exaggerated – listen to the likes of Wolf Alice – but there is less wonder and popularity than there was decades ago. What strikes me about Burnside is the way he can provide exhilarating and rich compositions but address themes that are personal and deep. A lot of artists concentrate on love and generic themes but Burnside goes further and brings you into his world. I will talk about that in a second but, before I move on, it is worth bending your ears to the music of Cedric Burnside and seeing where he came from. Many artists do not interest me in terms of their family and background but the Burnside name is one that has excited and influenced music for generations. You are compelled to look at where Cedric Burnside came from and how he has impacted music. It warrants a big screen adaptation because, when you look closely, there is so much we can teach other musicians and those interested in the Blues.

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Cedric Burnside still resides in Holly Springs, Mississippi and is not one of those artists who has abandoned his roots. It may not seem like the most interesting and scenic part of the U.S. to live but it somewhere that means a lot to him and he holds it very dear. Burnside was raised on the Hill County variant of the Blues and the unorthodox version one might hear. That is why his sound strays away from the more traditional and honed variety – there is something almost spiritual and enflamed about his interpretation and it is one that, I feel, is much more relevant and substantial than the old-school Blues. Burnside grew up around the likes of Otha Turner, and T-Model Ford; he listened to a lot of modern music but it was the Blues pioneers that inspired him. There are some great Soul and R&B singers emerging from Holly Springs but it is not renowned for its overflow of great music. It is less productive in terms of music but it is a space where Burnside feels most comfortable and pure. Mississippi is one of the most deprived and neglected parts of America and I bet there are a million stories one can hear from the people. Most would associate Mississippi with legends like Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King but there are modern musicians in the state who cover a range of genres. Mississippi has its French Quarter and there are so many cultures running through the state. Many might forgive him for living in New York or L.A. – so he can get that exposure and explore somewhere huge – but he has no reason to leave where he is from and what made him. If anything, the state is more important regarding his music than it is his personal growth and happiness. By that, I mean you can hear the history and heart of Mississippi come through in the music and everything he does. It gives his Blues authenticity and a flavour many of us are foreign to.

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Burnside was born to play the Blues and has been surrounded by that music his entire life. He is a black artist who, like many of his peers, has had to struggle for attention and been overlooked by the Government. Many African-Americans have had to fight for their rights and to be heard. That is not news but the fact it happens in 2018 is shocking. Music is a great way of ensuring we are all aware and conscious of the plight. I guess Rap and R&B are genres that provide a platform for black Americans to discuss what they are going through and how their ancestors have had to struggle. It is a way for them to sing loud and have their voice but that seems like scant consolation. The U.S. Government should be doing more but, look back through history, and the fate of the black citizen has been hard and ignored. The reason why Burnside is so passionate and determined is so he can tell his story and document the way his people have struggled. There are great Rap and R&B artists out there but Blues, for decades, was the way for black Americans to vocalise their fight and talk about the reality of their situation. Blues is a genre that is not as popular as it once was but, with the likes of Burnside established and popular, I would like to see the genre rise. Benton County Relic is an album that is Burnside’s story; a way of scoring his situation and background; talking about social themes and touching on political concerns. It is a fascinating album that inspired me to review a cut from it. One might argue his music would be less potent and memorable if he hailed from somewhere like New York. Mississippi is a state that has been synonymous with Blues masters but, in the current time, it is still compelling musicians.

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Mississippi is a fantastic state but its poverty and deprivation do affect how people perceive it. Look closely and there is a rich musical seam running throughout. Burnside recorded his album in only two days and performed it alongside drummer/slide guitarist Brian Jay in the latter’s Brooklyn home studio. Whilst the album was recorded in New York; it is Mississippi and the bones of Burnside that run through the songs. One gets that blend of old-style Blues and traditional sounds and a more immediate flair. It is not the Blues sound of the 1930s one can hear in Cedric Burnside’s music. Artists like Led Zeppelin and The White Stripes spring to mind when hearing Burnside’s Blues and it means there is a much more commercial and accessible aspect to it. I am excited to see if he produces more music next year but, right now, he is talking about where he came from and the heartache he has endured. From growing up in a poverty-stricken house where there was no T.V. and entertainment to suffering the loss of his parents, uncle and brother in quick succession…it has been a long road and one that has been paved with tragedy. It is fascinating seeing him talk about hard times and how he managed to grow from those foundations. I am sure his words will inspire other artists to come through and talk about their story but you listen to Burnside sing and you get this distinct impression of how he grew up and why the Blues is so important to him. It might be hard for Burnside to remain cool and composed given the fact he has come from such hard times and is seeing so many black Americans struggle and live in such squalor. The music he is creating right now cuts much deeper than his previous work and is the most urgent record he has put his name to. Cedric Burnside is one of the most important musicians around right now and you need to hear how he sings and the electricity coming from him to know how much it all means.

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Burnside was Grammy-nominated in 2015 for Best Blues Album (for the Cedric Burnside Project’s Descendants of Hill Country) and he is a coveted musicians. Burnside is trying to update the Blues and make it more accessible to young generations. Maybe his previous work has been more traditional in terms of his sound but the 2018-Burnside is a more fired-up and rocking sort. I hear elements of The White Stripes in his work but, to be fair, it sound completely new. What amazes me is how Burnside talks about themes such as losing loved ones and growing up in a poor state whilst making the music resonate and connect. It is a brilliant brew that seems to unify R.L. Burnside and old Blues masters and nods to modern-day Rock and Garage bands. I feel it is the perfect combination and something we should all be paying attention to. So much of modern music is about cliché themes and relationship talk that it becomes stale and annoying. You do get artists that go beyond the ordinary but they are few and far between. The commercial dollar still holds clout but I am drawn to artists who are much more intriguing and deep. Burnside is not one who is going to sell his values and talk about love and boring themes – even if there is a bit of romance and heartbreak in what he does. Instead, you get family values and bold confessions; exposure regarding his early life and how he became the man is today. I would love to see this continue and thrive on future albums because I feel it is artists like Burnside saying so much more than anyone else. Many of us are unaware of the struggle out there and how many artists started their lives. Few of us are aware of the realities and how people like Burnside got into music. Blues is a genre that many ignore and feel it is going to be the same as it was decades ago.

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We Made It opens Benton County Relic and starts with a lot of fascination. You get a few flecks of guitar and some grumbling electronics. It teases you in and there is that feeling something will explode and something great is going to occur. One feels some tension and anticipation but things get chugging and moving pretty quickly. Without Burnside speaking a word; you get this nice duel between the guitars and drum. It is propulsive and catchy and provokes an image of a train moving along. There is that old-school Blues grumble combined with the electricity and modernity of music today. The production is never too crowded or polished: it allows the rawness to come through and ensures there is that live-sounding feeling. It is impossible to get beyond that hooky and mesmeric composition that scratches, struts and strums. The flair and colour one feels from the song is wonderful. You are helpless but to groove along and let the potent rhythms get under the skin. Boogying, bouncing and kicking along, you are cast under Burnside’s spell. The hero keeps his hair and head straight even when he is down and low and, as the chorus attests, he has made it. He is also speaking to another party; maybe his family or a sweetheart who has gone through the same things. I get the feeling Burnside is talking about his past and how he grew up in tough times. There is that hurt and struggle but the defiance and determination is primal. Burnside never explodes or gets carried away: he has sass and cool but there is a lot of emotion and physicality behind his performance. I am always drawn to the way his voice is backed and what a funky, compelling sound one hears. If you are new to the Blues or think you have it figured then you need to hear Cedric Burnside.

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From the very first moments of We Made It, you are transformed and drawn into this mystical world. Even though there was no running water in the house – or hot water at the very least – you have to imagine his childhood was intense. The hero talks about that struggle and poverty but the chorus keeps coming back: he made it out and made it through. It is always as though Burnside is speaking about other people and those he knows – whether the family he grew up around or the people of Mississippi. The locomotive and propulsive guitar-and-drums combination gives you shivers and smiles; the vocal has a rumbling depth that reminds me of Howlin’ Wolf but has plenty of Burnside’s D.N.A. Rather than throw too many words into the song and reveal too much; Burnside allows the music to do some talking and strut. It is a fantastic swirl of notes that has ample kick and wonder. It grumbles in the blood and blends into the marrow; seeps into the soul and gets the feet moving. I always picture his growing up and living in a house where he and his family had to struggle. He had grown and survived those days but is not willing to ignore where he came from. The Blues is about your roots and laying down the truth. Burnside is not going to ignore an important part of his life and what he has had to come through. The hero comes back into the fray and keen to deliver that mandate. He has seen the worst of times unfold and never thought he would make it. The lyrics on the song are not complex and there are few individual lines but it is the focus of his message and the way he delivers his lines that makes We Made It stand out. Cedric Burnside fuses with the backing brilliantly and there is that steam that builds and explodes. I was helpless but to surrender to the song and how it carries you along.

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There are great songs on Benton County Relic but few are as interesting and swivelling as We Made It. A perfect opener to the album and a true assessment of who Cedric Burnside is and what he is all about. The song is a perfect introduction to a brilliant artist. Ensure you get back and listen to what other material he has produced and see how he has grown. Burnside is masterful in everything to do and sounds at his most confident and rich right now. I know there are other Blues artists out there but none who have the same spritz, magic and brilliance as him. We Made It reveals more layers and truths the more you listen to it and gives you goosebumps. I am one of those people who can immerse themselves in a genre and is not willing to simply pick here and there. The Blues has been out of my mind for a while and I have not really seen anything that turns my head. Burnside’s updating of the form has got me reinvested and makes me realise what a fantastic style of music it is. You get the gravitas of the Blues masters and the sounds of old but he makes everything sound contemporary and new. Get your ears around Cedric Burnside and his brilliant. Not only does it move the body and mind but it gets the heart pumping and makes you come back time and time again. Not many artists have that addictiveness and sense of purpose – reasons why we should celebrate Cedric Burnside and promote him far and wide.

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Benton County Relic is a fantastic album that has many great songs and ear-catching lyrics. You do not need to listen too hard to know how inspired Burnside sounds and how much the music means. The guitars are fantastic and you get big riffs and pumping sounds. It is a hot and spicy brew of sounds and that, combined with the hard-hitting and personal lyrics means you get a record that is much more immediate and enduring than anything out there. I have not heard an L.P. that cuts as deep and sounds so fresh. The songs never sound crowded and too rehearsed. The fact it was recorded in a couple of days means it has that live-sounding quality and reminds one The White Stripes. You never feel like you are listening to anyone else but there are those memories and flecks running through. A bold and colourful sound that gets into the brain and bones; everything from the record gets into the head and makes you smile. That is not to say the lyrics lack emotion and you pass them by – Benton County Relic is a profound and affecting documentation of a talented artist who has gone through a lot and has the Blues running through his veins. Listening to Cedric Burnside makes me look back at the Blues and his relatives; how the genre has evolved and grown and why we need to listen to what he says. I wonder what more is coming from Burnside and how he will develop over the next few years. There is a lot going on in the U.S. and one feels political situations and developments are affecting him. Mississippi is still with him – as he resides there – and he still lives around struggle. I would love to see Burnside play in the U.K. and bring his music to the people here. The man is a compelling and engaging artist and I feel it is only a matter of time before he is a big name here.

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I am pumped to see where he heads and how his music will evolve. I feel we still rely too much on Pop music and what is promoted in the mainstream – it means we are missing out on so much and do not really get the chance to explore in more depth. Cedric Burnside is an artist who is revitalising the Blues and has a serious talent. His music cuts deep and he is able to unify the old and new. For those who love the foundations of Blues and what it stands for will not be disappointed; anyone who wants something more intense and body-moving will gravitate towards Benton County Relic. If you have not heard the album then it is worth getting stuck into and spending a lot of time around. Every song has its place and tells its own story. I am someone who is familiar with the Blues and what it is all about. It is not viable to possess the same Blues sound as was present in the 1930s but that does not mean it should be overlooked and written off. I am one of those people who feels a few tweaks and modifications can enliven and revitalise a genre. Cedric Burnside is bringing the Blues to new ears and not willing to let it rest. Make sure you follow Cedric Burnside and what is happening in his life right now. There will be tour dates and new developments and I feel 2019 will be an important year for him. Things are going really well and his music is hitting hard and teaching us all lessons. I get a real sense of where he is from and why music means so much to him. It is hard to explain but artists like Burnside stay in the mind for a lot longer and makes a genuine impression. Get behind Burnside and what is contained within Benton County Relic. It is a brilliant album and I was eager to review We Made It. It is a fantastic song that seems to define the record and shows how exciting Burnside is. If you have not heard of him now, make sure you correct that and…

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GET lost in his world!

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Follow Cedric Burnside

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TRACK REVIEW: the Village - Always on My Mind

TRACK REVIEW:

 

the Village

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Always on My Mind

 

9.2/10

 

 

The track, Always on My Mind, is available via:

https://thevillage2.bandcamp.com/track/always-on-my-mind

GENRES:

Folk; Alternative; Indie

ORIGIN:

Derby, U.K.

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The album, Carnival of Fools, is available via:

https://thevillage2.bandcamp.com/album/carnival-of-fools

 RELEASE DATE:

8th September, 2017

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ON this occasion…

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I am taking my mind in different directions and looking at an artist who compels new lines of investigation. I am changing pace and looking at an artist, Phil Matthews, and a musical project that is growing and creating delight. The Village (or ‘thevillage’) is the moniker of Matthews and one that I have discovered quite recently. Before I review a song from his latest album, I wanted to look at records that grow and develop over time; music that is Folk-based and looks at something quite pastoral, quaint and calming; a look at artists who are building their reputation and growing a steady fanbase; a nod to musicians who cannot be easily predicted and are surprising when you hear them – I will look at where the Village might head and what comes next. My review schedule has been thrown into a loop and I have had to chop-and-change things recently. Even though I was going to review the Village’s album in a few weeks; it is a year old and a record that has been out there in the public long enough. I do not review albums but I was interested to review Matthews and his music. We are often told the album, as a concept, is dying and should be ignored. I have been thinking about that proposition and how we are starting to ignore albums in-full. Matthews, as the Village, prides himself on creating records that are complete, immersive and every song shines – he is one of those old-school artists who loves the album and creating something whole. The reason why I am not too bothered coming to Carnival of Fools late is because the songs shine and reveal themselves through time. Even through the pace, for the most part, is quite enticing and settled; there are nuances and revelations that do not instantly come to the fore. It is wonderful discovering an album that does that: it flourishes and blooms so long down the line and stays firmly in the head.

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Songs on the record bubble and still have that charm whilst ones you might have overlooked are firmly golden and presenting fresh avenues. I have always loved the album and do not feel it is endangered and warrants any talk of extinction. It is brilliant finding artists who are more concerned with musicians who want to produce albums and give the listeners something solid and personal. Listen to the Village’s new (or most-recent) record and you will find yourself coming back to the thing time and time again! It is, as I shall investigate later, an album that has softness and pleasure but there is ample invention and interesting lyrics. I do not usually review artists with few high-resolution photos – although Matthews has a few – and relatively little information. I always look for artists who can produce great images – a selection of them – and some deep and stunning information. It gives me something to build on and I can go from there. It is not a big problem here (and a lot of artists are struggling to piece that together) because the album itself is rich and I struggled for a while to select a single track that represents Carnival of Fools. The album, as I have stated, is bursting with ideas and I feel one needs to investigate it in its entirety to get the biggest impact. Although I have singled a song out and wanted to focus on Always on My Mind; I suggest you all pick up the L.P. and spin it right the way through. I do not feel albums are dying and there is any risk they are going to slip away at all. What gets to me is how little patience people give to records and the fact many jut pass them by and focus on singles. Artists need their albums to be heard and do not want people to simply skim through and select the odd track. There is a National Album Day coming up in a week and it will provide a chance for us to celebrate the album and all bond with those that have defined our lives.

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It has been a while since I last reviewed a Folk album. Although the Village is not purely Folk; that is the basis – although there is Pop and Psychedelic touches here and there. The Village, as Matthews claims, is a place for oddballs and outsiders; it is a space where they can feel safe and understood. Maybe that is a bit harsh and off-putting but, in fact, it is a place for those who want to get away from the rush and stress of modern-day life. Matthews has built up a following in the Midlands’ live circuit and I will look at that a bit later. He has cemented his reputation and honed his skills over the past few years. The music one hears on Carnival of Fools is quite slumber-inducing and inviting. I dived into the record and was blown away by all the sounds that came through. It is a tender and personal presentation but one that is filled with scenes, dreams and the serene. Whether you see the Village as a concept and specialised place; you cannot ignore the music is universal and easy to love. I have avoided looking at Folk-inspired music for a while because I tend to find the artists (I reviewed) sound very alike and I repeat myself when writing reviews. There is pleasant Pop that scores carnival tents and the rush of the fair. There is the quiet chatter and the softness of the village; the tenderness of a fete and something quite serene working away. Opposed to that is a musical excitement and vivid scenes that suggest something a bit more edgy and exciting. You do not often see albums that address these themes/emotions being proffered in the mainstream. Maybe we are too concerned with Pop and Alternative sounds – and that which is concerned with commercial avenues – but we cannot ignore artists creating something more sophisticated, calm and interesting.

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I will move onto a new subject in a bit but I wanted to stick with Folk and how varied the genre is. Phil Matthews has spent years developing his music and getting to where he is now. I have not mentioned age – because it seems a bit coarse – but it is something that needs addressing. Although Matthews is not as young as he once was, I feel we need to mention artists who are not considered ‘trendy’ and ‘cool’ by the media. Perhaps Matthews does not care about that but there is ageism and exclusion in music right now. It has always been the way and it is not a new revelation. Radio has always been stuffy when it comes to middle-aged artists and they are less keen playing their music. Maybe BBC Radio 2 would be a natural space for Matthews and the Village but I wonder why all radio stations cannot get over age limitations and feel that, when an artist gets to a certain point in life, they are past it and consigned to the scrapheap. That sounds rather foreboding and cruel but I feel artists like Matthews warrant more attention and age gets in the way of things. Look at the experience he has and the way he writes; how engrossing the music is and the way it takes you by surprise. Most of the submissions I receive are from artists in their twenties and thirties and that seems to be what is sought-after and popular. I feel a lot of respect should be given to artists who do not have flashy P.R. teams and shiny websites; those that are performing at big venues with flashy sets and getting onto the coolest websites. Music is about image as much as anything as it seems age is a huge factor when it comes to focus. I feel music should only be based on quality and, when you listen to the Village; one cannot ignore the quality that emerges and how promising it all is. Maybe I have rambled a bit but I feel an artist should not be ignored or restricted to certain radio stations when they reach a certain age.

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Matthews, as I said, has built his name in the Midlands and has been on the circuit for a long time now. Over two-hundred radio stations have played his music and he has a loyal and growing fanbase. Although one, on Carnival of Fools, is given projections of bunting and village carnivals; that is not to say the music is reserved for those who are found in those environments. What strikes me about the music of the Village is how ubiquitous and wide-ranging it is. Matthews is not singing only about villagers and the quaint pace of fetes and outdoor activity. His music dips deeper and the lyrics stretch further than you might imagine. That is one reason why he has built a big foundation and continues to reach new ears. People assume you have to pack out places and be on streaming sites – and getting millions of streams – to be deemed worthy and popular. Matthews has a great following and radio stations around the nation have turned onto his music. It has been a fabulous past few years and, with Carnival of Fools, it got a lot of attention and love. Even recently, he tweeted how delightful it is when someone asks for one of his C.D.s. That sort of reaction – when musicians are taken aback – shows how much things mean and the assumptions they have. I feel we get into a mindset where we assume everything is digital and people go after what is on Spotify. Matthews continues to plug and he is one of the hardest-working musicians on the road right now. He knows his music has that easy grace and cannot be pegged that easily. I am excited to see where he goes next and where his music will take him. I feel Matthews has the potential to take the Village to the cities and take it around the world. Maybe you assume his Britishness is the defining feature of the music but everyone anywhere can understand what he is performing and picture what is being sung.

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This place for oddballs, the Village, is somewhere just south of convention and not a place where chart-makers and trend-setters might step. A reason why Phil Matthews gets into my head is because he cannot be easily predicted and written about. You might see photos of him and read his biography and feel you have it licked and figured. I got into that headspace and felt I would easily be able to write about him and what his music is all about. You only need listen to a few cuts from Carnival of Fools to figure the Village is a much more complex and interesting beast than you would imagine. The best musicians out there are those who can bring you in and do not push you away but have their own skin and do not follow the pack. I wonder whether Matthews has plans for new music next year because I feel the demand is growing right now. I feel music is too much about style and a sense of fashion and not enough about reputation and longevity. Matthews has built this base and continues to recruit people in. His live sets are fantastic and lauded and the records he puts out are filled with details, great scenes and wonderful memories. Maybe the population of the Village is expanding but I feel more radio stations need to get involved with what he is doing and how his music is perceived. I feel we still devalue artists of a certain ilk and age and we are missing out on so much! Before I move onto my last point; I wanted to address the visual presentation and marketing – how that can be increased or changes that can be made to get it to new hands. Many do not really consider it or might be wrapped up with the music itself and have little opportunity to think about websites and presentation etc.

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It is a point I have made with a few artists in the past – and got my arse chewed once or twice! – but I feel one way of getting the music to a wider realm is to have a look at the images and website etc. It might sound shallow and insignificant but you can reach a lot more people when you think about these considerations. Matthews has a big fanbase but his music warrants a lot more love and exposure. His official website is updated and looks good but I wonder whether more biography and some review snippets would catch the eye of potential fans and radio stations. I want to know who Phil Matthews is inspired by and where his musical path started. The photos I have included in this review are good and of a great quality but, given the concept of Carnival of Fools and images one summons; the musician could run riot with that and produce a lot of new snaps. The same goes for a P.R. company. I am not sure whether he is being represented by anyone but I think a good team could get him some more images and add something to the website; bring new light and life to his music and push it hard to other stations. I might be one to talk – I need to sort my website out a bit! – but there is so much promise; that ability to get the music to other age groups and new realms. There is that domination of Pop and what is in the mainstream and anything on the boundaries is not given the same heat and affection. In order for music to survive and albums to be treated with more respect; we need to start opening our eyes and broadening our horizons. I have been caught by the variation out there and never limit myself to certain genres/sounds. The Village is a moniker that offers so much and has a lot more life left. I know Matthews performs regularly and he wants his music to reach as many people as possible.

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Perhaps he will consider those aspects/suggestions for 2019 because I am keen for his music to pick up new waves and traction. Right now, looking at Carnival of Fools a little whole after its release, I wanted to make a few points. If you feel you have the Village figured out and know what the Folk-tinged sounds will involve; you listen hard and your expectations are subverted. I will wrap things up here and get down to the song but I feel it is amazing how narrow our tastes can be and how we peg artists too readily. Phil Matthews has that gentle and comforting sound but he is not someone who, in a way, shows his age and there is plenty of endeavour and excitement. His lyrics are far more intriguing and arresting than you might imagine and the whole experience is wonderful. I feel we should all snap up the album and build it in to our regular rotation. One other reason why I feel the Village could build and gain new fans is the timelessness of the songs. Not every track on Carnival of Fools is about love and matters of the hearts – there is imaginative diversions and tracks that step away from the familiar. In any case; I am interested to see where Phil Matthews takes his music next year and what he might come up with. It is a great time for him and, when I look at his Twitter feed; I can tell how people are taking his music to heart and how popular it is proving. Maybe he will look at his website and getting his sounds out to new markets but, in truth, he is doing brilliantly as it is. The man has been in the business far longer than I have and knows what he is doing! I know his audience is quite broad in terms of age but I think there are so many more people who would turn on to his record and what he is putting out into the world. Keep your eyes on his social media feed – and his official website – and see where the Village heads next.

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You can definitely hear the croak and gravitas of Bob Dylan when Always on My Mind comes up. I got flavours of Traveling Wilburys (the supergroup Dylan was in) and that sort of sound. The hero saw this girl that has been seen as distant but is always there. The heroine, it seems, wants our man to be the one who to pass on some advice. The girl is nice, it is said, but I wondered what he meant by the opening verse. I wonder what the ‘advice’ alludes to and how they both met. Matthews’ voice holds so much potency and weight; there is colour and candour and you are instantly fused to the lyrics. Maybe the girl feels like she is too lonely and wants someone to hang with. It seems, right away, this is a sweetheart relationship and more than friendship. In the same way old masters like McCartney can still write about love in fresh and interesting ways; Matthews presents something alluring, original and surprising. Matthews looks at the girl and knows how she feels isolated and in need of sanctuary. This advice she is looking for seems to be romantic, perhaps, or maybe she required some wisdom and guidance. I get the sense of someone who has been cast adrift and has been fighting the tide for a while now. The composition is fairly simple but it is the perfect accompaniment to the lyrics. There is a pleasing beat that gives the song strike and passion whilst the guitar provides gentleness and tender allure. The hero is stepping between an honest and comforting presence and someone who wants a little more than, in the words of McCartney, “casual conversation”. It seems like this girl has made an impression on the hero but he is fighting a rival. The affections of the girl are being split between Matthews and an unnamed man.

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The hero wishes she could be his alone but, as things often go, there is complexity and other jostling for her heart. The melody and gentle swoon of the song catches the heart and gets you calm but, when you listen to the lyrics, there is a lot of pain and pining emerging. What gets to me is how you get these impressions of Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney but are never too attached when you look at influence. Matthews has a bit of Dylan’s gravel and vocal sound whilst, lyrically, there is a bit of McCartney working away. Rather than stick too closely to them, you get this new and personal concoction that gives Always on My Mind much more weight and truth. The themes will ring true with a lot of people and it is the straightness and directness of the words that makes the song shine. Our hero can only watch and wonder whilst he says the girl going off with another man. He has a heavy heart and wonders why things cannot be different. Maybe this intrigue and yearning has been there for a while and, who knows, maybe he and the girl have a history together? I think there is more at work than an instant attraction and fresh encounter: there are roots and seeds that have been planted years ago and it seems like there is history to this history. Rather than cast anger out and give the song acidity; Matthews keeps his head and heart level and keeps his cool. The woman treats him like he is not there and ignores him somewhat. These pains and ignorances get to him but there is still that hope things might be different. You can never write things off and say they will not happen but things are tricky right now. Matthews’ voice holds so much conviction and I love how the composition changes and evolves. You have this backbone that lurches and drives through but, soon enough, another guitar line comes out and gives the song new electricity and ache. The spirit of Dylan and McCartney is never too far from view but, as I say, you never feel like these icons are too encroaching and dominant. Phil Matthews writes from his own heart and, because of that, Always on My Mind wins you easily and stays in the head. It seems like the hero himself is the lonely one – although he says he is feeling fine – and he definitely needs that company. I wonder how things worked out and whether the heroine of the song changed her mind and went to the hero. It is a frustrating tale of lust and unrequired affection; something we can all relate to and get behind.

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Phil Matthews has been in music for nearly five decades and has written for a lot of different artists. He has been in bands since he left school and Matthews himself has been covering quite a lot of ground since he discovered music. After building up a collection of songs for bands and having all this material in his pocket; he went solo and formed the Village. Matthews records and plays the instruments himself and has been steadily putting out material since then. Although the Village has been around for about four years; it seems like the natural space for Matthews and where he is most comfortable. Perhaps I was being a bit harsh and judgmental when I said his biography was a bit scant. In fact, when you look at his official website, you get backstory and discover where he came from. It is amazing to see how he has evolved and where his career started. I am not sure what the next step is but Matthews will continue to record music and get out there. So much of today’s music is about how many times a song has been streamed and, although Matthews’ music has reached far and wide; should we look at Pop and mainstream artists more because of some flawed measure of popularity?! I think music and the market needs reorganising so we can put the Village on the same platform/level as a big Pop name. Matthews himself is a sort of cross between Sir Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan. He definitely gets guidance from those legends but there is plenty of energy and personal D.N.A. in his tracks. I selected Always on My Mind because it is one of the most accessible tracks from Carnival of Fools and I think Matthews himself counts it as a favourite. If you have not subjected yourself to the wonders of the Village and got involved with Carnival of Fools; make sure you rectify that and get involved. I am keen to see where Phil Matthews goes in 2019 and whether another album comes along. I am a recently new convert to his music and am looking back at what he has done. Carnival of Fools is an album that promises one thing when you look at its cover and name but, when you dive down, it provides so many more colours and themes. I love what Matthews does and how his music makes you feel. Have a listen to the great songwriter and make sure you spend the proper time to…

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LISTEN to his music in full!

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Follow the Village

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TRACK REVIEW: Adia Victoria - Dope Queen Blues

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Adia Victoria

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PHOTO CREDIT: Patrice Jackson  

Dope Queen Blues

 

9.5/10

 

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The track, Dope Queen Blues, is available via:

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

GENRE:

Alternative

ORIGIN:

Nashville, U.S.A.

RELEASE DATE:

27th September, 2018

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THIS time around…

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PHOTO CREDIT: @nolanknight_

I have been looking at Adia Victoria and what is happening with her right now. I will look at her current track, Dope Queen Blues, and take a look at what the track is all about. When it comes to the songwriter herself; I am compelled to look at those with individual spirit and unique flair; Tennessee and why it is a part of the world that needs more recognition and is attracting people in; songs that have a bit more guts and direction to them; female talent that are striking out and deserve celebration; producers and how they can bring the best out of songs. I am reviewing a lot of female artists right now because I feel they are not getting the attention they warrant. Most of my submissions are for men and it seems like most agencies and record labels promote the boys. Whether they are solo artists or bands; I am seeing more men come through and being promoted. What gets to me is that, in most cases, women are more interesting and diverse. Maybe there is something commercial about male artists or they sound similar to someone else – I feel female artists have more depth and there is something fascinating about them. I will come to that subject in a bit but, right now, I wanted to take a view at those who show more character and determination. I am looking around music and, when I get submissions sent to me, there are few that really strike me with their personality and candour. You look at Adia Victoria and she seems like the Real Deal. You have this artist that can project something wonderful but you get the impression she would be cool to hang with. I have not met her but I feel she would be a great laugh and would provide a right-good laugh. There are few in music that stand out because of who they are and show more texture and fascination than the music suggests.

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The music itself is wonderful and vivid and really gets into the imagination. I have been studying a lot and looking at musicians who are unique and special. I am looking, at the moment, at Kate Bush because I am planning a documentary. She is someone who has enjoyed a long and evolving career and, due to the way she writes and how she approaches music, we have all been fascinated and hooked. I am not saying Adia Victoria is like Kate Bush but, in terms of personality and that strength of the music, you get something similar. Music is a busy and packed industry so it can be hard standing out and lasting the distance. I think putting your personality into the music can really add something and goes beyond the plain and commercial. I am sensing a lack of distinction and colourful D.N.A. in the musical landscape right now. You might get something good from the music but I am not really drawn to the person behind the sounds. In the case of Adia Victoria; she is someone who could spring to life in film and seems like she knows how to have a good time. A proper, all-round artist who can add a lot to the landscape; I expect her to go far and produce a lot more music. She is someone who is honest and pure and has a rebellious nature. There are contrasts and complexities in her soul and I know, with Adia Victoria, you get a songwriter whose life and work are one of the same. By that, I think she does not need to hide and obfuscate through music. She brings her true self into the words and you get a much stronger connection with her. I like artists who write about fictional aspects and other people – such as Kate Bush – but there is nobody like her in music. I find too many current artists write the same sort of thing or, when they are open and revealing, it is not that compelling.

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It has been a while since I have looked at American music – I have been looking at British artists for the most part – and it is good to be back there. A lot of my U.S.-based reviews are based in New York or Los Angeles. I have been drawn back to Nashville, given the fact iida Victoria is based there. A lot of people think, it you are based in Nashville, it is all Country music and it is going to be a bit cheesy. The same way Detroit was never only about Motown; Nashville is more than Country. In fact, it is a fantastic city for innovation and a wide range of genres. Everyone from Kings of Leon, Kesha and The Civil Wars hail from Nashville and, although there is a bit of Country twang to a couple of those acts, you only need look at the new breed to realise how diverse and variegated the city is. From the Tammy Wynette-meets-Amy Winehouse vocals of Kassi Ashton and the Garage-Rock humour/smash of Ron Gallo; there is a lot of great music coming from Nashville. Kiya Lacey is an Alternative-R&B artist who has been impressing critics and Caitlyn Smith is a fantastic Pop artist who can go a very long way. Tennessee, as a state, is vibrant and pulsating and Nashville is at the heart of that. Great venues like The Bluebird Café and Douglas Corner Café are great venues for artists to strut their stuff in and there is a great sense of community and togetherness in the air there. I have not been to the city but know what a rich and seamless history it has. The new breed coming through are diversifying the music and bringing in aspects from other parts. A lot of the musicians who are working in Nashville have come from other areas of the U.S. and are bringing their experience and blood to Nashville. It is almost like musical immigrants adding multiculturalism to a place and enriching it.

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Another reason why Nashville is a great place for new music is because of the sense of support and unity. Artists are keen to collaborate and there is a feeling that everyone is on the same page. The people are friendly and there is so much going on. Adia Victoria is someone who seems to thrive and buzz from the spirit of Nashville and shows it is more than Country over there. What gets to me is how surprising the general market is in Nashville. You get every sort of genre and the venues range from grand and legendary to new and bijou. I feel it will continue to grow and overtake the likes of New York when it comes to reputation. Maybe Nashville will not rival Brooklyn and Manhattan in terms of its sheer size and legacy but I can see changes coming. Maybe I am rambling a bit but I wanted to contextualise Adia Victoria and what she is putting out. One of the reasons her music is so special and vibrant is because of what is around her and where she has come from. A lot of her current inspiration is based around her time in Atlanta, Georgia but, at the moment, she is stationed in Nashville and gathering a lot of genius from those around her. It seems like she is really settled and in a place where all her personality sides and pluses can coalesce and shine. Adia Victoria is another artist who gets all they can from their hometowns and then feel the need to get more success and go somewhere that accommodates where they want to be. The ambition and fierceness that comes from Adia Victoria is being fostered and supported by Nashville and I cannot wait to see where she goes. I have talked about artists who are bold and do not follow the pack but, alongside that, you get a bit miffed when looking at  the landscape and wonder whether any songs really have the potential to glue into the brain.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @shaynejacopian

A reason I have been obsessed with a song called Black Doe – by English artist Mary Epworth – is because it is so different to anything I have heard. It was released back in 2012 but I am a new convert to the track. It has scuzzy and fuzzy guitars and phat beats; an additive chorus and a general swagger that gets you rocking. I am not saying there are no interesting songs around but so much of what is coming through is dictated by the mainstream. Some great little cuts are emerging but I have been searching around for something that gets the blood boiling and gets my brain racing. I have enjoyed some good reviews lately but how often does that song remain in the brain and come to mind weeks later? I feel Adia Victoria’s latest single, Dope Queen Blues, will be emerging and surfacing days and weeks down the line. Maybe it is the vocal projection and the way the songwriter does not casually toss lines away – she makes sure there is cadence, nuance and colour in every note. You experience something spectacular and intriguing. The vocals are fantastic and deep; you get so many different emotions working away and you immerse yourself in the song. The sheer depth and drama mixed with some sly humour and obliqueness is something to behold. I am expecting more material from Adia Victoria and it will be great to see how she develops and what she has in mind right now. I will look at her current song’s inspiration a bit later but I wanted to stay on this course and keep uniqueness in the mind. I am not sure whether Dope Queen Blues is getting a lot of airplay already in Nashville but I feel it could do good business in the U.K. I think Adia Victoria is an artist that could go down well over here and add something great to the scene.

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One of the reasons why people think the album is a dying format is because singles are being pushed. It is all about those few songs and making sure they get as much airplay and streaming as they can. Once that is done and everyone has heard the song; it is on to the next one and that is it. I do not feel that many people sit down and listen to albums because a lot of artists are more concerned with singles. There is the four or five bold songs and then, a lot of times, you get lesser work. I am not convinced the album is dead and things are that doomed. I still listen to albums and I know other people do too. The very best L.P.s of this year have been among the best in years and I feel there is a bit of a resurgence. You can say the album is not as precious as it once was but that will change. Truly brilliant albums have songs that contain different skin and have a lot to say. Adia Victoria is someone who puts something fresh into her music and, when it comes to an album, I feel she could tell a story and create something wonderful. You listen to what she puts out and you are instantly invested and curious to see what comes next. There is so much experience, story and background to mine from her life – the songwriter puts all that onto the page and does not want to be compared to anyone else. Every aspect of the song – lyrics, melody; composition and vocals – jump out and your senses tingle. Perhaps that is down to Adia Victoria herself but I feel like it is another reason why female artists should be promoted a lot more. Should we be spending less time with male bands and concentrate more on female acts?

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @ace_jace_

I think there is a disparity and one of the reasons why the music industry is not as strong as it was years ago is because of the imbalance when it comes to gender. The gutsy, cinematic and personal songs from Adia Victoria are among the finest coming from new artists and it shows why female artists need more respect. There are male artists who can project something alive and illuminating but, I don’t know…there is something special about female artists that is not being given enough kudos. I feel female musicians are more honest and adventurous with their music; they are taking risks and producing music that stays in the imagination a lot longer. It can be hard establishing yourself and cutting loose from the pack but those who want to remain and inspire will find a way. I am struggling to think of too many male solo artists who have made that big an impression lately. It is the female artists out there who are doing the best and most interesting work. Look at the mainstream and the likes of Cardi B, Anna Calvi and Christine and the Queens have produced the most intense, critically-acclaimed and appealing records this year. A few male-made records (from the likes of IDLES) have shone but it seems like female artists are leading the charge. We all know there is a problem when it comes to songwriters, producers and those in studios. Look at the songwriters behind the big albums, chart acts and those making the sounds come alive. The majority are male and, with strong and impressive female artists emerging, things will change. They attack music from different angles and Adia Victoria is the personification of what I am talking about. I am hopeful things will change but the media needs to start highlighting the best female artists, new and established, around. Things will take a while to balance but I am seeing some small changes. Just listen to the brilliant female artists around and they, in my mind, have greater potential than the boys.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @patricesharon 

I will come to look at Dope Queen Blues in a bit but it seems like the song has a recognisable ally in The National’s Aaron Dessner. He is someone who has been busy and worked with other artists but, as a producer, there are many coming his way. It is interesting seeing how famous artists approach producing and what they can do for other artists. You might think Dessner would make Adia Victoria’s music sound like The National and it would be very much his own image. Rather than funnel his own personality too heavily into the song and take control away from the songwriter; Dessner came in and brought something bad (as in good) out of the song. Dope Queen Blues is Adia Victoria when she was down in Atlanta during her early-twenties; a wild and debauched time that saw her liberated and free. It is great to imagine what was happening and the sort of things she was getting involved with. Whether it was drinking and partying or having sex; hitting the road and causing some mayhem – it seems like it was great period and one that she was keen to explore in the single. Ensuring it was as edgy and brash as possible was a tough thing. Dessner did not come in and say everything was perfect and then leave it at that. He sat down at the piano and came up with something new and alive. That inspired Adia Victoria and, from there, the pieces fell into place. Producers can do a lot for artists and they do not get the credit they deserve. So many of the greatest records from all-time have been shaped and directed by producers. You can still let the artist do what they want and have their voice but producers can explore new ground and bring their experitise to the plate – transforming great songs into something very special. A producer is a great cog in the machine and someone who can do wonders with the music. I wonder how Adia Victoria came to meet Dessner and whether they will work together again.

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 ARTWORK CREDIT: @micaelariel

The opening seconds project howling echoes and darkness. There is a bold and stern skip from the piano and something howling in the background. It is a teasing, intriguing and spirited opening that gets you sat up and wondering what comes next. A certain funk, skip and head-nod comes from the piano and teasing beats. It is a wonderful compositional element and you can hear Aaron Dessner’s influence in there. Adia Victoria comes to the microphone and talks about the landlord knocking on her door. She repeats the words and gives a real physical sense of what is happening. Maybe there have been complaints of noise and things are getting a bit too spicy in her apartment. That dark and looming composition burbles in the back and, at the front, a hyped and ready vocal has a definite spring and intention. The heroine talks about the bill collector coming to the door and asking for money. She is not going to answer and is hiding away. Maybe she has pissed money on drink or nights out but she does not have enough for the rent and utilities. It is a common situation but not one you hear explored through song a lot. It seems the heroine is not someone you want to mess with. One feels a smokiness in the vocal but there is a playfulness and degree of danger. Adia Victoria is someone who seems like a bad-ass who is not to played around. She has a dagger and a pistol and does not want anyone coming to her door. There is a film-like, old-style drama shaping up where the heroine is being hounded and backed into a corner and it seems like she needs to fight her way out. Things have culminated and she is doing her best to make things work and find her way through.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @slanginc

You sense an almost Nick Cave-like gloom and haunt in the background as that occasional piano jump makes its presence known. A lot of artists would toss so much into the palette and crowd the composition too much. Instead, you have this sparse and fascinating element that says so much and is able to tell so much story. Adia Victoria elongates words and does not lazily present. Everything gets a lot of treatment and she wants to bring as much emotion from the song as she can. This culmination of ruination, as she says, is coming and she is doing her best – things are getting too heavy and time is ticking. I love how Adia Victoria repeats words and gives things such rhythm, step and dance. Rather than repeat lines; certain words are repeated and that adds so much emphasis and weight. I picture what is happening and can see the heroine in her apartment and shutting things away. Maybe, down in Atlanta, she has spent a lot having a good time and that has caught up with her. The domestic side of things has been ignored and she wants to keep on rolling. People are closing in and it seems like escape is quite hard. Our girl is looking for a quick fix and going out getting into all sort of bother. She does not want anything permanent and it seems like she needs to move on and go somewhere else. So few songs look at life in a very free-spirited way. Rather than idolise and romanticise that side of things; Adia Victoria knows things are serious and how she can screw up. I am not convinced she knew what was coming and has painted herself into a bad situation. Rather than self-destruct; we see the heroine push herself away and, through everything, the composition and speed does not alter. You get this tension and simplicity mixing together and it is addictive. There is romantic misadventure and excess; the heroine is backed by heavier beats and things start to get tauter. Dancing horns come in and it seems like a shadow cabaret comes through. It is mesmeric and fine; a combination of funky strut and Blues-inspired beats. The horns screech and stretch and the beats dance merrily. It is a great gear-change and aspect that, again, projects great images. It is brilliant to see what can come from the composition and how, whether simple or packed; it can get into the bones. The heroine is sniffing – whether a sniff or life or sucking up cocaine – and she wants to get away and be free. Detach herself from the body and find new spirit; one sees the heroine look for help and, in doing so, succumbs to some cheap temptation and danger. She is lost in vain and I wonder whether she can get out of this hole. You always stand by the heroine and hope she will manage to break through. It is a scary time but there is that hope things will get better and a new light is around the corner. Dope Queen Blues is a great number that swims in the brain and you cannot help but get involved and follow every movement. By the end, you want to go back in and experience the song one (or two) more times. There are few songs that have the same qualities and brilliance as this. It is a fine number from a songwriter who has a lot more to say – I expect her to go very far.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @patricesharon

I have discussed aspects of Adia Victoria’s life and I know things will get bigger and better for her. I wonder whether an album will arrive and what she has in mind for next year. Dope Queen Blues is a great track that has so many different layers and you instantly jump in. I can picture what the heroine was going through and what she is trying to say. Dessner, as producer, has added a lot and the combination is a great one. Maybe they will work together for more material but I know how curious Adia Victoria is. She will want to venture into new territory and do new things. What she is throwing out there now is great but I get the sense she wants to look at where she is now and how far she has come. One of my wishes is she comes to the U.K. and plays some shows over here. I am always interested what is coming out of the U.S. and I know Nashville is an area that continues to breed brilliant artists. There are not many cities that have such an eclectic mix of artists working away and are so appealing. The songwriter is keeping busy and has gigs ahead but will be thinking about her next moves very soon. I know there will be more songs coming and I cannot wait to see where she steps next. Among the new breed of songwriters coming through, strong females like Adia Victoria are showing something brilliant. Her music is different to everything out there and I am compelled by her personality and spirit. She is an intriguing and fascinating person who brings that into the music and leaves a big impression. It is amazing coming across an artist who has a unique flair and can get under the skin that readily. I will end things now but want to urge people to get behind Adia Victoria and follow what she does next. Things are going well for her but it will be a big next few months for her. Take a listen to Dope Queen Blues and celebrate an artist who…

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Chilson

IS destined for big things.

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Follow Adia Victoria

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TRACK REVIEW: Beth McCarthy - Shame

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Beth McCarthy

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Shame

 

9.3/10

 

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The track, Shame, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjS83It6Tlc

GENRE:

Pop

ORIGIN:

York, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

21st September, 2018

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WHEN I think about Beth McCarthy

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a few things spring to mind. I want to talk about ambition and passion for music; experimenting with sound and ensuring you get the right components; keeping the pace going and staying in the public mind; back to Yorkshire and why there is so much great music coming from there; artists who you know will go a long way; promotion and great live performers who are putting their all into things. McCarthy is someone who seems born to do music. Every waking hour, I get the sense her career is in her mind. I look at her social media feeds and you can understand exactly why she wants to continue down this path. I am one of those people who can get weary getting so many requests and being busy but, at the end of the day, it is what I want to do. Maybe my faith wanes a little and there are darker times but I feel Beth McCarthy never feels like music is the wrong choice. There is infectiousness and energy that comes from her that gets into the bones and creates smiles. I can tell those artists who do not want it as much and seem to be a bit tired now and then. McCarthy seems to radiate glee and promise; a boundless sense of wonder that should be a lesson to everyone else. Maybe that is down to her natural personality – bright, warm and upbeat – but the songwriter has goals to be a big artist and get far. She will get there in time but the way she drives and pushes through is exciting to see. I know McCarthy wants to grow and explore new ground but, right now, she is producing fantastic work. There are a lot of great female songwriters out there and the Pop market is quite busy. It can be tough differentiating between some of the artists out there and I know how competitive things are.

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The reason why the very best songwriters succeed and continue to impress is their passion and determination. It can be tricky keeping that spirit high and finding positivity but McCarthy knows where she wants to go and what she should be doing. I have been following her work for a little while and she is growing more impassioned and solid. The infectious positivity from McCarthy is what we need in music and what more people should be displaying. It is not only the music from McCarthy that gets into the blood but is her social media output. You look at what she is putting out and how she communicates with her followers and it makes you want to stick with her. She has a quirkiness and friendliness; a natural and loveable personality that draws you and gets into the heart. Above all, you hear a young woman who wants her music to touch people and spread around the world. I know she will tour internationally and things will get a lot more hectic for her in time but, right now, she is busy promoting Shame. I will talk about the song later and what it is about but I can tell McCarthy has put everything into the song. It is a time of transformation and experimentation for the Yorkshire-based artist. I can tell each song is a chance to express a new side of her and say something fresh. A lot of songwriters get into a rut and seem to write the same thing over and over again. McCarthy has been in the business for a little while but she knows what it takes to succeed. So many people think they have a great sound and do not need to move on – they might get a lot of streams and positive comments – but music is all about evolution and movement. You always need to keep it fresh and explore different territory. Another thing that amazes me about Beth McCarthy is the way she plays with sound and experiments.

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I have mentioned how artists need to keep it fresh and move forward but McCarthy knows this better than anyone. Shame is her first true release – she has released other material but this is her first, big track – and she has been playing with image and sound. I look at how she appeared last year on Pretty Lies (bespectacled and concentrated) and now, on Shame, that has been that blossoming. If the somewhat shy or reserved figure of the previous single has been replaced by a vivacious, bold and complex artist who has a new look; the determination and passion has remained the same. It is interesting to see how McCarthy has changed. I think artists like Dua Lipa have made an impression on her. Maybe it is a more sexual and confident look but you can tell McCarthy’s new work is a more adventurous, bold and enflamed thing. Shame has tease and emotion but there is a world of colours working away. This is her bid for a big step and, after one listen, you know she has the ammunition to succeed. McCarthy has stepped up a lot and has spent a lot of time creating a more intense, mainstream-ready and mature persona. That is not to say she was lacking any maturity but there is something eye-catching and captivating about the cover for her latest single. Maybe you think looks and style are irrelevant when it comes to music but it is vital. So many artists stay with the same look and do not reinvent themselves. I am not say artists like McCarthy are like David Bowie and drastically reinvent but they do keep evolving and trying new looks. Now, in 2018, McCarthy has adopted a striking and stunning look that matches her music. Not only does she look different and we have a new version of the artist coming out; her sound has fresher and more polished production and her lyrics venture into new ground.  

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I will move onto new things later but I wanted to stick with this subject. Look at the biggest Pop artists of the moment and they change their style and outlook between releases. Even if they score a big smash and get a lot of media attention; trying new look and changing it up regarding sound is really important. We might think people want artists to stay the same and do not have the imagination to accept change but we want to find talent that keeps things moving and can present new aspects. Beth McCarthy seems to adopt a new persona and outlook on every track. Now, on Shame, I get the impression of someone who has experienced a lot of heartache and trouble but she is fighting back. I will go more into the song but heartache and relationships are still at the centre of what she does. In previous reviews, I have asked whether songwriters need to stick with heartbreak and relationships and whether they should move things on. The great artists can talk about their personal lives but step into new subjects and broaden their horizons. McCarthy is looking at love and her experiences at the moment but it will not be too long until she looks wider and takes in new subjects. The finest songwriters can balance the personal with unusual and I feel it is only a matter of time before McCarthy is stepping away from matters of the heart. I am excited to see where she goes and whether there is more material coming next year. I know McCarthy has experienced changes this year – most of it positive – and she has a lot to reflect on. She is a D.J. and has seen some career progression; a lot of happiness and things are good right now. I hope McCarthy brings this spirit and joy into her work and reflects how far she has come recently. The past year has been brilliant for her and I would love to see some songs come through that talk about those times and how she has blossomed.

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Beth McCarthy is working in an industry where there are so many competitors and challengers. It is hard to make a break and stand out – many quit and do not find the strength to keep going. I can emphasise with those who find it hard and retreat but there are many who overcome hurdles and tough times. McCarthy knows how far she can go and what she has accomplished so far. Rather than compromise what she does and succumb to something quite cheap and easy; she puts her all into the music and writes songs that are natural to her. That is an important thing to consider. Many artists seem to copy what is in the mainstream and are reluctant to put any personality and unique edge into their sounds. I worry a lot of new acts are compromising and struggling to find their own identity right out of the traps. Beth McCarthy reminds me of artists like Dua Lipa and Sigrid but does not mimic what they do. McCarthy has the passion and heat of Dua Lipa; the songwriting maturity and intelligence of Sigrid and a soul that is all her own. Those combinations and strengths mean her work bursts from the speakers and gets right into the blood. Everything about McCarthy – her look and image; the way she writes and how she comes across on social media – leads me to believe her time in the spotlight is not that far away. Pop is a genre that has changed a lot through the decades and many ask whether it is as strong and surprising as it was back in the 1980s and 1990s. I feel a group of young female artists/bands – like Dua Lipa, Christine and the Queens and Robyn – have made such a huge contribution and are doing wonderful things. Pop is really interesting right now and there is such a banquet of sounds. Whether you want something commercial and easy or a more mature and complicated brand – there is something out there that will prick the senses.

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Look at Beth McCarthy and you can tell she encompassed all the strands and textures of Pop. There is the emotion and challenging songwriting from the industry’s best but there is an accessibility and lightness that will appeal to those who stick to the mainstream. McCarthy tackles tough subjects but never makes things sound too heavy and dark. She can embody a sensitive and tortured lover and then jump to someone who is out there in the world and ready to face things head-on. I have not seen many artists who have so much in their locker and have some variation available. I am confident McCarthy will go a long way because, even this early, she has been clasped into the public bosom. People are reacting to Shame and it seems like there is a big appetite for more from her. I know 2019 will be a big deal and we will see more releases from the York-based songwriter. It is a great time and you can hear that ambitious and excitement come out in the music. What excites me is how positive McCarthy is and how optimistic she is. That glee and passion we see in everything she does is infectious. You need an artist like that who can stay in the heart and you remember easily. I feel McCarthy has the skill and talent to get into the mainstream and mix it alongside Dua Lipa, Sigrid and the very best out there. The market is always looking for artists who show something special and have the potential to remain for years. Maybe there will be an E.P. or album from Beth McCarthy next year but I know she wants to release singles and show a new look. Now, after a slight break, there is this determination to get music out there and strike hard. The first signs are very positive and we are going to see a more sustained period of activity from the songwriter. I feel compelled to come back to Yorkshire.

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I have talked about the county a lot and am always interested what is coming from there. The county, for me, defines the height of ambition and innovation. You get something different, exciting and original when it comes to Yorkshire. Places like London and Manchester are steeped in history and great music but I feel we need to look more at Yorkshire and the artists emerging. There are fantastic bands in Sheffield and terrific solo artists that put their heart on their sleeves. What amazes me is the way Yorkshire artists can fuse older styles and music with current movements. I feel the media ignores the county a lot and we need to uncover the magic coming from there. If we are too reliant on London for our sounds and follow what the media thinks; we are going to deny the true spectrum of music and all the local brews. Yorkshire is a proud and fantastic county that has a raft of great artists. Beth McCarthy is one of the best from the area and she seems to vibe from the diversity and spirit happening. You get the impression she takes a lot from the people around her and is inspired by local musicians. She is getting a lot of praise and focus but I wonder how long it will take to get to the mainstream – given the fact she is not from London. Maybe there is, by virtue of there being more people here, more great music from London but I feel there is more range in Yorkshire. The county has always been pivotal and exciting. Let’s spend some time uncovering all the great Yorkshire music and why artists from here need more exposure and love. It is a wonderful county that keeps producing gems. Beth McCarthy is among a long list of artists who are putting the county on the map.

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I will come to look at her new single in a bit but want to end the section by looking at those who throw their all into it and have the tools for success. Beth McCarthy is not one of those artists who wants to keep her eyes on streaming figures and getting onto playlists. Sure, that is important and something she needs to consider but it is the art and music itself that is most important. The fact the songs resonate and people can get something from them is the most crucial consideration. McCarthy is a wonderful songwriter and artist who brings something new to the business and she wants to influence others and be around for a very long time. I know she can continue to evolve and strive and that is all a matter of time. The reason I am sure she will get there is because of the energy she tosses into music and how dedicated she is. I love what she is putting out there right now but am excited to see what comes next. Everyone should keep an eye out for McCarthy and follow her every move. She is an artist that wants success and to be in the foreground. You can feel that determination and passion in every note and her naturally warm and bright personality has made her a fan favourite. Her live performances and the way she can connect with people is wonderful. You feel this artist radiate and shine from the stage. McCarthy has a brilliant smile and warmth but she is serious and complicated. You get so much from her and, when watching her from the stage, all of that comes to light. There are not many who have the same colours as Beth McCarthy. Here is a natural and ready songwriter whose path to the mainstream should be unhindered and clear.

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There is a breathlessness and smokiness coming from the firs moments of Shame. You get this electronic pop and bubble that teases you in and projects a mood of night-time revelation, delicate emotions and something sensual. The introduction does not race or explode: we get something tempting, soft and brooding that gets under your skin right away and spikes the mind. McCarthy’s voice has a sexiness and softness that mixes with a soulfulness and caramel entice. She seems to be attracted to someone and wants to be the only one. You get lost inside this honey-rich and engaging vocal that is soft but powerful; it is impassioned but has some tease to it. McCarthy is talking about someone that means a lot to her – that need to be with them and not have anyone else in the scene. Maybe there is that history and long relationship that has gone through changes and stages. You get the sense something has happened to compromise the purity and strength of what they have. My first impression was two lovers who have that strong bond but something has caused a slight weakening. The heroine definitely wants to be there and not overlooked but you sense some reservation and hesitation in her voice. Indiscretion and loyalty are subjects that make their way into the environment soon enough. Most Pop artists would ramp up the tension and throw energy into the mix; crowd the production needlessly and rush to the chorus. McCarthy takes her time and wants the listener to stay with her – not run off and be too keen to throw everything into the mix. It appears the hero does not want her or his heart does not resound the same way. You feel they are together – in the same bed and room – but are on different pages. Rather than communicate, things are being hidden and the heroine is feeling the weight. She has been loyal and open but he has either been cheating or not revealing what is on his mind.

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You get involved with the song and fall for the way McCarthy presents her words. It is a shame the man is not with her and feeling the same way. From the husky and low-down words of before; McCarthy lifts the mood with sweet vocals and there is that rush. Before long, it is brought back down and we are back with them. Our heroine shows how she runs to him and would come if he asked. There is a loyalty and passion from her that has not been compromised or questioned. You never feel like she is unattached and feeling cold. The hero is the one who has lacked that connection and has forgotten why they are together. I am not sure what has caused the division but there is something heartaching coming from McCarthy. I know how much she has invested and how faithful she is but the man is turning away and leaving her out in the open. It is hard to hear and the heroine never overdoes things. A lot of artists would be over-emotional or rack their vocals right to the limit. McCarthy keeps her voice fairly restrained and emotional. Rather than belt out notes and go for something too heavy-handed; she keeps it controlled and that creates a much more potent and long-lasting effect. Your heart is with her and wonder why things have gone the way they have – is it a case of an affair or have things just run their course?! The man gets a bit of a kicking at times (he is doing deals with the Devil) and it seems she cannot help herself. An addictiveness and sense of entice comes from the hero and, maybe, she saw all this coming. It is hard learning lessons like this and being fooled by someone but it seems like this is the final nail. She should, as she confesses, know better but there is something powerful and pure that means she keeps coming back. The chorus is brief but beautiful and admits how it is a shame things have gone the way they have. After a single listen, you remember that chorus and the song is indelible. McCarthy does not overload the song with words and keeps things fairly simple. The power of her voice and the emotion coming from the lyrics does all the talking and stays in the brain. You will return to the song to see how things work out and figure why it turned sour. I was backing the heroine and wanted to know whether things would work out. It seems times are hard and maybe there is no going back. Shame is a heartfelt and effecting song that has detail and personal relevance. Beth McCarthy has been working hard on her new material and wanted to produce a return that was emphatic and new. This is a big step from her and I hope we see more material coming soon. All the signs are good and I am confident she will make some serious waves next year. Keep an eye out for the talented songwriter and get behind everything she does. Shame is a song that means business and comes from an artist who wants to remain in music for a very long time to come.

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Follow social media to see what Beth McCarthy is up to because the next few months will be busy. The York artist has a new radio gig and Shame is out there. I know she will be hitting the stage again and getting the music out there. Local stations have been playing the fresh cut and she has been hitting the road to spread the word. The determination and energy expended to promote her material shows you how much this all means. I feel McCarthy has all the qualities we require from an artist. She has that natural beauty and alluring smile; a sense of evolution and experimentation that keeps you hooked; a grace and passion that gets into the soul; that desire to connect with people and produce something genuinely stunning. I will close things by recommending we all listen to Beth McCarthy and what she is putting out there. Maybe there has been a bit of a gap and things have been slightly quiet the last year. She has been busy working away and developing new music; getting her new track out to people and letting people fall in love with her sounds. I have blathered and chatted a long time and will bring this all down. I am excited Beth McCarthy is back and writing. We can see a retuned and new artist who has grown and knows where she wants to head. I feel there will be more singles and maybe an E.P. will arrive in a few months. It is a great time for her and I can feel that energy radiate. We have so many artists to choose from in music right now but Beth McCarthy definitely stands aside. A fantastic talent who is reinventing herself and has her sights set on the horizon; I know how far she will go and what an impact she will make. Keep your eyes fixed on this exciting artist and watch her fly. It has been a busy year for McCarthy so far and she is not willing to drop the pressure and energy right now. Things are starting to hot-up and dare anyone…

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STAND in her way.

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Follow Beth McCarthy

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TRACK REVIEW: Tiger Mimic - Elephant Skeleton

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Tiger Mimic

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions  

Elephant Skeleton

 

9.5/10

 

 

The track, Elephant Skeleton, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w9O0G-sspQ

GENRE:

Indie

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

14th September, 2018

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THE reason I am doing two reviews in one day…

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

is because it is pissing it down with rain! Actually, that’s not the real reason but it is quite handy having that excuse to stay in! I am hearing some great new acts coming through and I am keen to get on top of everything. This time around, I want to look at a few things pertinent to Tiger Mimic and the music they make. Their name, essentially, comes from a butterfly that disguises itself to be poisonous but actually is not – just so predators leave it alone. It is a cool name and something that actually feeds into their music. I think of them and the way their music has bite and real toughness but, underneath, there is that sweetness and sense of beauty. I want to look at artists who have a real interesting sound and cool blend of styles; music videos and why I am drawn to them; bands you want to know more about and those who boast a cool story; the persistence and effort artists show and why they should be paid attention to more – ending with why Tiger Mimic will go a long way and should hang tight. I actually met the founders of Tiger Mimic, Bram and Jess, a few days back after interviewing them. I will talk about them but, in essence, I almost lost my voice speaking to them! Not that this was entirely down to them – I was interviewing people all day and was a bit sore before I got there. We do not hear about artists’ personalities and what makes them tick. Bram had many great stories and has had a vivid/interesting career path to music. He is a great raconteur and loves his music. Jess is a complete dream – she and Bram are married – and, by her own admission, a crazy cat-lady! She is charming and funny (we both can speak German – forgot to mention that to her) and, between them, make for a formidable team! The two are fairly new to London and, with Ben and George, they have a band together.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

What attracts me to Tiger Mimic is the blend of styles they fuse together. When interviewing them, I asked what sort of sounds/genres they put together. I can usually predict what a band will sound like and the fact they will, in some form, follow the mainstream. I know Bram loves The Beatles and told me about his first taste of Magical Mystery Tour. You get the sense the inventiveness and out-there nature of The Beatles inspires how he writes and performs. Listen to his vocals or guitar work; how he orchestrates music and approaches things. Hailing from New York – a quieter area of the city/state – I get a combination of the ‘quirks’ of the area and the new-found eye-opening from London. Jess, meanwhile, embodies that enigmatic and stunning heroine. I know how she loves Joni Mitchell’s Blue and I feel like she identifies with that record. Mitchell, regarding Blue, said how she was putting everything out there and being completely open. That raw and vulnerable expression comes through in Jess’ voice. Both of the leads had different musical upbringings but they are lured to those artists who do things differently. You listen to a song like Elephant Skeleton and so much is working away. The storytelling is illustrative and colourful; the delivery is original and you get a much bigger hit than you’d think – the band combine their multiple facets and produce a blistering song. Maybe I have laboured on this point but I like to hear artists who do things in a different manner. By that, I mean they are not your predictable fare that you can match with anyone else. Tiger Mimic are as deep and multi-coloured as the butterfly on whom they are named. I can listen to Tiger Mimic and get a real understanding of the artists that inspire the performers; a rare cocktail that gets into the blood and transports you to a strange and magical world.

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I will come back to styles and fabrics in a bit but, right now, Tiger Mimic’s video for Elephant Skeleton is out there. I do not often look at a musician/artist and feel like their visual side speaks to me. A music video is part of the promotional cycle and some artists love doing them – others are less concerned and you can tell their heart is not in it! I love music videos and feel they can say so much about a song. A great producer can turn a rubbish song into something good: a fantastic video can bring new life and energy from a song. Tiger Mimic’s latest track is stunning but they manage to heighten it with a great video. Look at the animation and old-skool looks of the video and you are transported to another time. I love how nostalgia seems to fuse with modernity inside everything Tiger Mimic does. I love directors like Michel Gondry and how he brings his own universe/scent to the party. One can look at one of his videos and know it is his work. From directing The White Stripes through New York (The Hardest Button to Button) or bending minds directing Lucas or Björk…you get this insane and brilliant result. My favourite videos are those that take chances and put a smile on your face. I particular love those videos Peter Gabriel put together for his album, So. That album arrived after four eponymous records – who names four albums after themselves?! – and videos for Sledgehammer and Big Time, with their Claymation-style shoots were groundbreaking. Those videos were out in the mid/late-1980s and were well ahead of their time. I also love how someone like Kate Bush and how she approached videos. Not only did Gabriel and Bush collaborate (for Don’t Give Up and Games Without Frontiers) but she threw everything into every video. They are renowned for their brilliance, physicality and storylines.

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This might sound like a rambling side-street – the sort Bob Dylan might write about as a metaphor – but it is relevant. Artists, now, have to think about every asset and facet of their work. If they pen a great tune but do not do something good with a video then they have left a flapping hole. You need to be rigid and disciplined when it comes to every angle. People are looking for artists who are the complete package and appeal to every sense. I think the music video is a great opportunity to do something fantastic – I understand finances are limited and it can be hard doing something ambitious. I am a wannabe director and have a few ideas for videos. I always imagine it would be costly to do something majestic but you can create memorable work with very little money. I am not sure how costly the video for Elephant Skeleton was but it is amazing in its own right. I used to be a big gamer and love the retro look of video games from the 1980s and 1990s; playing the Sega Mega Drive and being thrilled – going down that street again; need to flip it in reverse! – by the effect it had on me. I know there is more material in Tiger Mimic and, with London at their feet, I am excited to see what they have in mind. Given the fact the band is fronted by a husband-and-wife team – like The White Stripes but without the uniforms and we’re-really-siblings-lie – they could bring something romantic, explosive or domestic to the plate. From speaking with them, their minds spark with ideas and they have brilliant visual eyes. Many might say videos are not as vital as the music but we really need to start evaluating the importance of them and how they can ingrain a song in the mind. It is not usual you get to have a personal attachment to someone you are reviewing.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

Not that I am living with them or hanging out all the time but it was good to speak with Jess and Bram about their music, background and chill with them. Jess has lived in different countries and seen a lot of the world. She is out there looking for a great job with a label (hire her if you want someone great) and Bram has a background in the wine industry. An oenophile from New York and a Joni Mitchell-like heroine together is a recipe for success! We do not often think about artists and where they came from. How often do we read reviews or chat with artists after gigs?! Do we have the platform where they can talk and get their true story out to the people? The music itself only provides one take and it can be obfuscating, fictional or inscrutable. Jess and Bram have come a long way and, with their band members, are a fresh team. It is great to see where they have come from and where they want to head. I can hear the bustle and accents of New York in their music – not literally; a certain ambition and dynamic you do not get elsewhere – and there is a clear passion. I know they want to get a lot of gigs and, with an E.P. coming next year; it will be a chance for new eyes to be seduced by them. I listen to their music and am instantly grabbed by the way they sound and how everything comes together. You cannot compare the band with anyone else and that all bodes well. I have talked about audio and visual sides to them and will come to look at the personal drive that is evident. There are so many reasons why you need to get behind Tiger Mimic and show them some love. One gets a cannonball of delight, intelligence and passion from their songs. I have no doubt they are going to go very far and will be a big success in very little time.

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The guys have teamed with producer Matt Lawrence and, having recorded at London’s Livingston Studios; some great music and results came through. Elephant Skeleton is about a mysterious garden fading and its owners sit and count drops of rain – searching for an answer that will never come. You never get that sort of story with artists, and so, you owe it to dip your toes into the waters of Tiger Mimic and swim with them. Having spoken with Bram and Jess; the guys are hustling and sending emails to people. The modern game involves a lot of communication and very little return. I get tonnes of emails a day and, whilst I cannot around to featuring everyone and feature each act; I make sure I reply to anything personally directed to me and ensure I do not leave people hanging. Modern music is a game of returns and beating the odds. A lot of time, it is about getting lucky and I wonder whether the media needs to change. There are platforms for artists to get their music heard and reviewed but there are so many people going for the same thing. You need to be resilient and determined if you want to make headway in the industry. One mustn’t take things too personally if there are ignored emails but I feel every artist is owed a response from everyone. How often do artists who pine and graft get what they want? Is music about being in the right place or getting lucky? That may sound harsh but it seems the most talented and worthy have to fight harder than those who are commercial or have a label behind them. I am not sure whether Tiger Mimic have a P.R. company behind them but I know there are some out there who would snap them up. Maybe that would get their music to more blogs/sites and they might be able to benefit from a team putting their music out into the world. I am a big fan of BBC Radio 6 Music and feel their music would be popular there.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Luis Guillén

I feel Tiger Mimic have a long way ahead of them but they can get there. Right now, they are preparing for a gig at the Dublin Castle on 26th September (see their social media feeds) and it will be a great opportunity to get their music to a new crowd. I will come to that in the conclusion but here is a band that can mix it with the very best and deserve a lot of oxygen. It is a hard music world to dominate but fortitude and talent will win the day. The reason I feel Tiger Mimic will continue to grow and succeed is because of the unity in their ranks. You have that American duo who have a close connection and the two British (I assume) newcomers. They are almost like Fleetwood Mac (Bram and Jess as Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks?!) but without the fighting, drugs and controversy. Who knows; maybe a Mac-like success will come (without the extra-marital affairs) and they will produce their masterpiece. I think relationships and understanding in bands can make a big difference and the fact Tiger Mimic are a solid unit means they are determined to keep plugging and playing. The guys are getting emails and word out there; they are lining gigs up and it seems like they are excited about what is ahead. This year has been important and has seen them get their name out there. Next year is going to be big and I think we need to respect and give more chances to those artists willing to keep pushing. Given the fact Tiger Mimic have a terrific sound and great stories within the band; I think they will get success very soon and see their efforts rewarded. Certainty, if you get time to hang with them and chat; you get a much better understand about what makes them tick and how their personalities feed into the music.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

The first moments of the song are vital if you want to grab the listener and keep them involved. So many artists are shortening their intros because they want to grip people and feel a lack of vocals will turn people away. Elephant Skeleton has a great video and you get a bit of 8-bit electronics at the very start of the song. From the old-skool and nostalgic electronics; you then get some sexy, slinky and grubby guitars that take you from one decade to another and really shift the mind. You are transformed from that vintage world to somewhere more modern and changed. I imagine myself in some colourful and candid street as the rain seems to trip down. You get a real blast of cool and swagger as the song starts to warm and take shape. You never instantly pine for a vocal and feel something is lacking. The guitar is fascinating and has a nice mix of Blues and Rock. You get caught in the sway and tropical breeze of the guitar and let the song take you away. Ironically, the opening lyrics of Elephant Skeleton talk about icy rain dropping down and something a bit cold coming through. Bram delivers his words with a sense of story and emotion. Rather than tumble the words out and race away; you get that careful projection that matches the composition. Everything is quite laid-back (at first) and seems to carefully entice the listener in. The hero talks about math being laid out and figures being presented. I get this combination of numbers and rain and, knowing the song is about a garden; I am transported to that scene and a figure watching things wither away. The band come together to give the song plenty of strut and adventure. Guitar and bass fuse with the percussion and you seem to get instrumental representation of the weather and view.

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The lead duo starts to come together and talk about this garden. Nothing is growing and it seems like the fallow fields will never bloom again. Bram’s opening vocal lead transfers to Jess and she brings a new dynamic in. The pace continues the same as the heroine discusses an inevitability and branches everywhere. Maybe the garden is overgrown and things are falling into a state of disrepair. Both vocalists have their own style and it is great to compare the two. They sound great when in unity but you get different scents when they step aside. Jess has elements of Joni Mitchell but there is a husk and raw quality that emerges. I have heard about some mixed-gender bands but most of them are female-fronted (male members not contributing to the vocals much). You get true partnership with Tiger Mimic and both have a way of taking lyrics and really putting them into the brain. Our heroine impressed and stuns with a breathy, smoky and engaging voice (hard to put into words how both singers make you feel) and it is like you are hearing a classic chanteuse perform from the stage. You are helpless and are swept away but this sensual wave of voices. It is interesting seeing how each of the leads sounds and guides the story. They can stand alone and weave but, at every stage, you are buckled and excited. I think the garden is a metaphor for a relationship or bond that is seeing its roots come apart. Maybe lovers who have neglected one another and hearts that are not as strong as they were. It is the rhythm and kick of the song that comes to me. It is a flowing, hypnotic and wonderful song that stays under the skin. Just as you dive into the verse and picture scenes; the guitar comes back in and there is another Blues lick.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Luis Guillén

It is almost like the guitar parable acts as the rain and weather itself. It is a tender, tongue-teasing and animal-skinned slither that gets into the blood and does something fantastic. The big walls and obstacles in the gardens are as noticeable as an elephant skeleton at the door. You get grandeur and vast images but feel like something more intimate is being assessed. Maybe the relationship quandary is not taken from any band member’s past but you feel like they have experienced a bad past and dealt with these pains. I love how Jess and Bram weave inside one another and their voices expose all the nuances of the song. You walk with them and picture the scenes they are painting. They have no idea why the walls and structures are there but it seems like this garden owner is doomed. Help can come but it will not make a difference. Again, I look at matters of the heart and feel like a relationship has faulted and been overlooked. The heroine speaks of being far away from home and, in every line, you take your mind in a different direction and conspire as to the song’s origins. The melody, wonderful flourishes and busy composition is wonderful. I love how much activity there is in the song and how Elephant Skeleton goes through different phases. You envision this story and chronicle that seems positive to start but becomes heavier by the moment. Oddly, I get touches of French and a classic romance in the composition. A swoon, kiss and merry dance gives the composition great sway and tenderness. The contrasts and clashes of styles makes the Tiger Mimic latest such a gem. As the song closes, you get a final rush and it is brilliantly concluded. A nice, cool and awesome little flick of the tail brings the song to its end and perfectly stops things. After that fascinating start (you get electronic samples for the video; the actual version starts with guitar), there is a different vibe to end the song. Elephant Skeleton is a packed, brilliant and original song from a band that are fully-formed and fantastic. You can hear the connection in the ranks and how natural they all sound around one another. If this is what their material sounds like so early; it is scary how good they can be in a few years from now.

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I mentioned how they have a gig coming up at the Dublin Castle and, if you are about on Wednesday (26th); get behind them and ensure you show some support. The venue is legendary and it will be an exciting one for them! I will try and get down there and see them but I know there will be some more gigs coming. When their E.P. drops early next year, they will get some more bookings and see the crowds flocking. I am keen to see how that chemistry unfolds on the stage and how they interact with the audience. What amazes me is the freshness of the music and how I cannot lump it with another band. They have a great creative vision and have put out a terrific music video. Throw into the mix their natural abilities and talents and you have a group that are going to be ones to watch. I have spoken with Jess and Bram and got to learn a lot about them. I know they are excited to get their music to as many people as possible and you know nothing matters as much as music. They seem to live for it and do not want to be overlooked. So many artists seem to be in the industry for success and, whilst that is fine, their music does not really remain and show any original flair. I am looking forward to seeing where they head next year and where their music takes them. I know they can get some gigs in the U.S. and a lot more dates around the U.K. Given the positive reception of Elephant Skeleton and how it stands in the mind; I feel they should look forward to some big success. It will not come easily – and they will have to graft still – but they have all the components ready for longevity.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions  

You can hear the personalities and brilliant of the players in every note and you cannot listen to a Tiger Mimic song and not be affected. There is something about the sound and the unusual subject matter. I have mentioned Bram’s Beatles love and that sort of experimental mind – you feel like he wants songs to trip into strange territories and not follow the same boring rules as everyone else. Jess, to me, resembles a modern-day Joni Mitchell and has a brilliant high-pitched vocal. She can buckle the knees and make the soul swoon. The two of them combine brilliantly and offer brilliant magic. When you hear the quartet step up; their music leaves you a bit breathless and amazed. I have gabbed enough about them and, I hope, assessed Elephant Skeleton properly. As we head towards the closing weeks of the year; Tiger Mimic will take to a big London stage and they will be readying themselves for their E.P. They have made some movements and steps the last few weeks and I know they have big plans for 2019. There are not many bands who leave the same impression as Tiger Mimic and have such intriguing and wonderful leads. Things can only get better and, if they continue to produce music like Elephant Skeleton, then they will be a big proposition for the future. They might have started in different countries and from different backgrounds but now, firmly cemented and determined, the guys of Tiger Mimic are very much…

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Martin-Kelly/JMK Productions

ON the same page.

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Follow Tiger Mimic

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TRACK REVIEW: Emmi - Moments

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Emmi

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PHOTO CREDIT: @DarrenSkene2 

Moments

 

9.6/10

 

 

The track, Moments, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/track/2yKufY8fpRd1kDWJKO1lgz?si=jU4WgHgRRQiRow-5l8yx4A

GENRE:

Pop

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

21st September, 2018

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THIS time around…

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @natecamponi

I get to look at a few things that I have not discussed before. I will come to look at Emmi’s work very soon but, when looking at what she is doing at the moment, I get to think about concepts around love and how things come together in a new and original way. I will also talk about female artists and the variations that is being put out there; those who take a break from music and sort of reinvent themselves; those who find their way into music and debate other careers – I will end looking at Emmi and where she might head. I have been looking forward to seeing Emmi come back into music and wondering what she is up to right now. I will explore that later but, right now, I wanted to look at what she is conceiving and releasing to the world. Emmi will put out a few singles as part of an E.P. – each new song is a separate chapter and part of the story. Moments is the first chapter of this love story and one that intrigues you for the future. I have heard a lot of E.P.s this year and they all have a very similar format and composition. By that, I mean they are not bound by themes and you sort of know what to expect. Emmi is different. She is readying herself for a six-song E.P. that will chart the progress of love: from the start to the labelling stage; settling down to the fraying of the bond to a natural end. I am not sure what date the second single is due but I am really interested in this concept. A lot of people think about concepts in albums/E.P.s and sort of blanch. They might think it is going to be something weird or it is Prog-Rock; a head-scratching thing that is off-putting and strange. That is not the case with Emmi and her playlist. In fact, I think Emmi plans on releasing a new cut every few weeks.

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I am always drawn to artists who do things differently and approach music in an exciting way. The opening chapter from her playlist/E.P. is the start of a relationship. There is something new and unexpected; a sense of optimism that draws you in and compels you. I wonder how much of the story is culled from Emmi’s real life and how things worked out for her. I feel many artists release E.P.s and albums and they do not really hang it together with any real story and hook. We are being told how the album is dying and not many people are listening to them in their fullness. Maybe that is because a few singles come out and that is all people are interested in. I feel, if more people were more willing to pay attention and submerge themselves in an album then it would be better for artists. A lot of the time, we are not really interested in what comes after the big hits and artists, as such, are filling albums with lesser works. The best albums of this year so far – from the likes of Christine and the Queens – need to be heard in-full and demand proper attention. Emmi is one of those artists that has the desire for listeners to follow her music and not skip through songs. She has just released the first offering but, now that we know how things begin, it is impossible to put the ‘book’ down. You want to chart the relationship and see how things work out. The wonderful thing about Emmi’s new project is the fact it is related to something we can all relate to. It is not some whacky concept that you cannot chart: everyone knows what she is talking about and can identify with the stories. I feel more artists need to invest in what Emmi is doing and do something similar. It is always more appealing when an album/E.P. has some great concept you can follow and look forward to seeing unravel.

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Female artists are producing, I feel, some of the best music this year. I have mentioned Christine and the Queens but others, such as Anna Calvi, and providing sensational and strong material. I am not suggesting the only great work out there is by female artists but they seem to produce more original and personal work. I feel a lot of new female artists are shaping up to be future mainstream stars and they are digging a lot deeper than their male peers. One of the reasons I love music by female artists is because you get greater revelations and emotional depth coming through. Emmi has put her heart on the line on her latest work and she is willing to be revealing and soulful throughout the course of her concept. The starting chapter is an eye-opening window into what she is planning and the beginning of that love story. I have followed Emmi for a while and love the variation she puts into her music. You never really know what she is going to get and she fascinates me greatly. The last time I reviewed her was last year I think and the music she was putting out there was a lot different to her new single. Emmi wants to create something memorable and gritty; she loves stories and wants to be part of a culture that narrates great pieces and can entrance a listener. She has composed instrumentals and worked with other artists; created a variety of different subjects and songs and, by the year, gets stronger and more ambitious. I feel Emmi will continue to study new areas of music and push her work to new boundaries. Female artists, I think, are more daring when it comes to narratives and ideas. I love the candidness and emotion you get from the best female musicians. Many might say writing about love is not that original and it can be quite dull. I agree some artists write about love in a very staid and predictable way. Emmi has always been skilled at approaching matters of the heart from different angles and putting new light into things. Moments is the start of things and I am compelled to see how things turn out. I will move onto a new topic but, before then, I feel it is interesting to see how Emmi tackles music.

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The songwriter knows many people view the world differently because of where they live and how they were raised. It depends where you are born or how you were raised but we are all brought up differently and are told different things. Maybe we view love and life through a different lens or we are educated in a dissimilar way to someone else. Emmi realises it is the things we have in common that bond us. Rather than write songs that divide and concentrate solely on what she is all about; the songwriter looks at universal bonds and things we all are tied by. She is obsessive about exploring things we all live through but she presents her version in a unique way. I love her voice and how she projects; the way she writes and how her music pops off of the page. She is an artist who has a long run ahead of her and can genuinely touch many people. I can feel how hungry she is and what she wants to achieve. I have mentioned how she has had a bit of a gap and not been in music for a little while. Rather than release singles that fill a hole; she has worked hard on new material and coming back strong.

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PHOTO CREDIT: @DarrenSkene2 

I will come back to another topic soon but I wanted to look at those who take a bit of a break from music. It has not been that long since she last released material but the way she has reinvented herself is amazing. I think the last time I reviewed her was when she was writing something fantasy-based and vivid. Now, rather than repeat herself, she has delivered something strong and unexpected. It is important not to keep plugging away and constantly putting stuff out in case people forget you. It is much more productive and sensible taking a bit of time and producing music that is strong and means something to you. If you just crank out singles and repeat what has come before then people will get a bit bored and that will take a toll. Emmi has been working hard and thinking about where she is going next. I have seen a lot of artists release material and then take a bit of a pause. Modern music always requires artists to pop something out and there is that pressure to keep in the public eyes. So many have stretched themselves to the limit and worked tirelessly because they feel they will be overlooked and forgotten about. It is a bit insane there is so much stress and pressure placed on the shoulders of new artists. I am interested in what Emmi is doing and what she wants to achieve. The new project/E.P. from her is a charting of a love story that has an optimistic and bright start but goes through changes and challenging times. Maybe there is a personal aspect and she takes from her own life but it is interesting guessing. Every song she puts out has that conviction and physical connection. You feel like you are involved in her life and she wants to bring you into her world. Great songwriters can wait a bit and bring us something that is different from what came before.

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Too many worry they need to keep things moving all the time but we all need to recharge and find time to relax. If we take a pause and get out into the world, that can energise the creative mind. Emmi has been busy promoting her material and experiencing life at the same time. Emmi, at one point, wanted to go into medicine and she decided to go into music. Things changed for her and it seems like she is born to do this. There are few as strong a songwriter; someone who can pen these tales that drag you into things and provoke such revelation. The concept playlist, LOVERS, is a glimpse into what she is concerned by and affecting her life. I have talked about love and how it can be hard to approach it from a new angle. So many songwriters go through the motions and you feel like you have heard everything before. I love when artists take a risk and are bold. Emmi wants to make something beautiful and epic. She does not want to sit back and let the music wash in the background. So many songwriters are commercial-minded and they are not really bothered adding anything original into the pot. Emmi looks around her and absorbs stories from others. She has a broad mind and knows, although we are all affected by love and its pains, everybody’s story is different. Emmi wants to join the great songwriters and loves the way they can climb into her head and speak for her. I can relate to where she comes from. Terrific songwriters can climb into our brains and speak for us; seem to dig into the soul and make an enormous impression. Emmi has followed great songwriters and, I feel, that is why she is so eager to put music out. She wants to get people connected and feel the same way she does; bring them out of themselves and find something fantastic in her music.  

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There are so many songwriters out there and it can be really difficult differentiating them. Let us look at where she has come from and why Emmi is a songwriter to watch out for. She is constantly innovating and trying to head into new areas. Female artists, as I said, are doing some incredible things right now. I feel they have to fight harder than men and the industry puts them down somewhat. It can be hard for them to get the same oxygen as men and I think this needs to change. The core of the music industry, in terms of themes, is personal emotion and relationships. Although a lot of the best female songwriters of the moment are talking about politics and gender issues; the majority of songs reflect love and relationships. The ability to deliver these words and experiences in a fresh and new way is paramount. I am not sure what it is but the male songwriters out there do not get into my soul as readily as the female artists. Maybe it is that they hold back or cannot present their words in an exciting and impassioned manner. Listening to Emmi’s new track and you are attracted to this songwriter who has clearly witnessed some excitement and hurt and, rather than conceal that and keep it inside; she has pushed it out into the world and wants other people to feel something. Maybe I am rambling a bit but there is a lot to love about Emmi. She is a great songwriter who has come a long way and there is a lot more to come. Make sure you follow what she is up to at the moment because she is back and very strong. Moments is unlike anything she has brought to the world and it is hard to approach love with something fresh and eclectic – she has managed to do that and show why she is one of the most interesting and promising artists around.

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The first thing you can tell from Emmi’s new release is the direction change she has taken. I can hear a more modern and different sound come from her. A lot of songwriters are taking an approach where they open songs with mutated and echoed backing vocals. It is eerie and atmospheric and draws you in pretty quickly. Rather than stay with that common sound – it is good to hear but so many songwriters are doing it – we get Emmi’s pure voice come through and there is no clutter. The heroine explains how things have not worked out well and how she is being a bit of an idiot. It is a bold confession to state you have been wrong or foolish. Maybe Emmi’s confession is not as bold and brave as Kate Bush’s in Hounds of Love (song) but it is brave. Rather than admit fault; I feel Emmi is mad at herself for doing something stupid or taking a risk on someone who is not worth the effort. I felt the songwriter would start her story by looking at the rush of love and how exciting the new bloom is. I have noticed a bit of a change in Emmi’s voice, too. It is a lot more complex and textured than her earliest material. You can hear a bit of R&B and Soul; a fleck of Amy Winehouse and smoothness come through. It is a complex brew that brings so much colour and emotion to the party. Listening to her speak, you hear this songwriter who, like Winehouse, reveals her scars and is unafraid to be earnest. Emmi has let her mouth run away – it has a mind of its own – and it is getting her into trouble. Maybe that is the nervousness of new love and saying things that are a bit silly. Perhaps she has a habit of speaking her mind boldly and not holding things back. The way she delivers her lines is amazing.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Connor

Most artists have this rather predictable and mannered way of speaking and eliciting. She will start with a smooth jam and seduction and then races some words and scuttles. It is a rollercoaster of a performance that has natural conversation and personality. Emmi admits that she drinks a bit too much and her natural inclination is to make a bit of controversy. I do not think she intentionally sabotages herself and gets into danger but maybe this is a time for re-evaluation. The latest offering from Emmi reminds me of new artists like Jorja Smith. That is not to say Emmi borrows from anyone or is sitting in a scene. She has her own vibe and sound but it is the quality that shines through. You are diving into the song and picturing the images of Emmi saying things she regrets and beating herself up. The chorus sees vocals doubled and backing vocals come through. It is a seductive and fiery blend that gets under the skin and take you somewhere special. The energy and sense of passion that comes through is incredible and you are buckled by Moments. Rather than think solely about love; I get the impression Emmi is talking more of herself and using this chance as a moment of reflection. She has been comfortable in a space for a long time and I get the impression she wants to take a leap. It is the vocal performance from Emmi that makes the biggest mark. She is not someone who casually delivers lines and follows everyone else. Her voice swoons and dives; it is sexy and defiant at one time and then is more sensitive and revealing the next. The sweetheart she is talking about maybe can relate to what she is going through. Our heroine knows things are a little crazy but she knows the man might understand where is coming through.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @DarrenSkene2 

That bond and strange connection is important. Rather than connect through someone boring and ordinary; both lovers seem to have a bit of baggage or they have faults that they wish they could get rid of. Emmi is awkward around new folk and is never quite sure what to say. She has taken a chance with this man and felt compelled to come on over. Maybe it is a risk – given what we know about her racing mind and how she speaks freely – but there is something magical working from across the room. There is a cuss in there and it is that reality that gets to me. You get that rudeness and humour; there is a real person coming from the speakers and confessing her sins. Emmi knows she is not perfect but understands we all have our flaws. We all have stuff we wish we could erase but this is part of who we are. The rushing electronics and big beats bring the song up in the chorus and, when the verse comes in, the energy subsides a bit and it is a chance for Emmi to coo and confess. This is a revelatory and stunning song from her and one that perfectly kick-starts her new work. I am not sure whether to call LOVERS a concept E.P. or whether it is a playlist. New material will come very soon. The six songs are about the same two people and what they go through. This is that meeting and a rather awkward heroine laying her cards on the table and taking a chance. What the next song, Label on It, has in store for us is hard to say. Maybe there will be that rush of sex and passion or they are already warring. I am not certain but many people are already keen to hear another song. The first new song from Emmi in a bit is a compelling and stunning gem that shows she has grown stronger and lost none of her touch. She is one of the most exciting, promising and amazing songwriters in the country and I am excited to see where she goes next. Maybe there has been a slight gap between work but she has taken time to work on something brilliant. Moments is a wonderful insight into her new phase and I will follow the story with great interest. Make sure you check out Emmi’s latest single and keep an eye on her social media feeds. It is wonderful to have her back and proving she is a rare talent with very few equals.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: @natecamponi

I have talked a lot about Emmi and how she has come back into music. It is not a drastic gap but, by her own admission, she has been a bit quiet lately. Maybe that is life getting in the way or maybe it is the songwriter exploring something unexpected and wanting to take her music in a new direction. Emmi has gained a lot of fans and her popularity is growing. She is one of those songwriters that can involve everyone and make you belong but it is very much from her heart. I am looking ahead and seeing where her concept/playlist takes her. Future titles include The Way We Used To and Stay Awake and, after the excitement and rush of the opening; I wonder where things go from here. Maybe I have been rash assuming the rest of the story is going to go downhill. Perhaps she will not experience the pang and pinch or love and get her heart broken. That is what I like about her new work: you can realise it will chart the course of a relationship but you cannot tell how things will end. The titles are ambiguous and I am keen to see what direction the music takes. The stuff Emmi is putting out now is different to her older work and shows she is keen to reinvent and remain essential. I can look ahead and predict where she might tour and I know people will want to see Emmi take to the road. I have never seen her perform and I wonder what her stage show involves. Given the fact she has a playlist idea and E.P. (if we want to call it that) means there are new songs she can bring to the people. Perhaps she will want to wait until all the songs or out before taking to the road. I feel the next year is going to be a great one for Emmi. She is in a creative space and it is really good to see her back. I am not sure whether she wants to spend next year touring and going around the world or will be releasing new material. Moments is a brilliant song that shows she has lost none of her spirit, brilliance and talent. The incredible songwriter has the ability to speak for the listener and has a terrific relationship with them. There are few songwriters like that and, when you find one, make sure you stick with them. Emmi is a star-in-the-making and I know she will get to the forefront of music before too long. Looking where she has come from and what she is putting out there; you can tell how much she wants this and how much music means to her. I am pumped to see the next song in the cycle come through and discover where this relationship concept…

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TAKES us next.

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Follow Emmi

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TRACK REVIEW: Rews - Can You Feel It?

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Rews

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @TomPullenphotography  

Can You Feel It?

 

9.5/10

 

 

The track, Can You Feel It?, is available via:

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

GENRE:

Alternative-Pop/Rock

ORIGIN:

London/Belfast, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

21st September, 2018

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THIS is quite a timely review…

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because I get to react to the Mercury Prize and the winners, Wolf Alice. Before I come to look at the new cut form Rews; I wanted to look at British music now and why I feel a duo like Rews could win a similar award; artists who were born to play and are heading in the right direction; new British stars who are climbing and making big moves; continued success and launching brilliant marketing campaigns; artists who have a special bond and you can hear that in the music – I will end by looking at Rews’ future and where they might head. For now, it is worth reacting to the Mercury Prize because many, myself included, were not expecting Wolf Alice to win it – I was tipping Nadine Shah to walk away without much challenge. What interests me is the predictions and how they changed the last few hours of the award night. Up until the winner was announced, many assumed Lily Allen might take it away. It was, again, a London winner and a male majority (Wolf Alice are fronted by Ellie Rowsell but there are three blokes in the band). I wonder, in terms of genre and location, the Mercury is a bit stuck at the moment. I agree there needs to be that celebration of a band/act who deserves the prize but there is that bias towards London. Maybe that is a diversion but I realised it was rare we see the prize go to a Rock/Indie act. It has been Grime and other genres that have stolen the honours the past few years. Many claim guitar music is dead – or not as potent as it was – and Wolf Alice embody a more evolved and developed sound that can mix snarl and viciousness with genuine sensitivity and maturity. Thinking of Rews and they seem to strike that same chord. I feel they are possible Mercury winners of the future.

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Maybe it will not be next year – I already have IDLES in my mind as the clear winners – but there is not long to go before Collette Williams and Shauna Tohill will be vying for that honour. I know there are duos like Royal Blood who have not been in the running this year and great Rock bands around the country that have been overlooked by mainstream and Pop acts. The reason I feel Rews are primed for a big award is because of their multiple sides. They are based around London but Tohill is from Northern Ireland (perhaps she lives near Bristol now) and Williams is from Corby. Both of them spend time in the capital but you would not label Rews a London duo. That is one reason why I feel they can win awards and a big prize like the Mercury. Not only are they purely London-centric and would repeat a pattern but their sound embodies the same qualities as winners Wolf Alice. Maybe Rews are a bit more direct with their sounds but you only need listen to their latest track to realise they produce music that is essential, memorable and signals a return of guitar music. They switch between Pop and Rock and there is that fantastic Alternative thread that hangs everything together. A lot of people have been contending the Mercury and why it exists. Should it be for the best album of the year or should it award artists who could benefit from the prize money? Many claim this year has been a bad one nominations-wise but there are bands like Wolf Alice who produced a great record in Visions of a Life and have pledged to use the money to fund their own studio – they are keen to make new material and get back into things. Rews, to me, are that great balance of top-quality artists and newcomers. Their record, Pyro, was released last year and was critically acclaimed. Although they are not eligible yet for Mercury nomination – have to inch more to the mainstream – I see no reason why they cannot get there in very little time. They’d be a popular nod and I think they could really benefit from the exposure.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Andy Tatt

That is all speculative – do not want to put that much pressure on them – but it is worth looking at Rews’ music and how solid it feels. I read a social media post Collette Williams posted a few days back that questioned whether she was pursuing the right course – was music for her and is she on the right course? We all have those doubts and it is natural to feel tired and as though we are not as far along as we should be. I hope that sense of defeat has passed her because we can all tell she and Shauna Tohill are where they need to be. Listen to the way Williams plays and there are few drummers like her out there. I am always lured to female drummers and, whilst they are becoming more visible and noticed, there are still comparatively few. The dedication and effort Williams puts into her music is incredible. Not only is it about creating the best songs and making them sound awesome but she has that attachment to the drums that is passionate and unbreakable. Always wanting to improve and find out more; there are not many who have the same focus as she does. The same is true of Tohill and how she operates. This is someone who does not want to do anything else and, as the lead singer of the duo, wants to deliver their messages as far as possible. I can tell there are some artists whose heart is not really in it and you feel like they are on borrowed time. Rews are definitely not in that camp! From the first notes of Can You Feel It?; you are moved and fascinated and can tell how much work has been put into the song. Every musician has that self-doubt and needs assurance but Rews are going from strength to strength. They are getting that critical attention and radio stations are playing their music. If you have been featured by BBC Radio 1 and played Glastonbury then you have to realise you are doing the right thing!

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It is hard to get to the very top quickly and it can be depressing, when you put all that grind and graft in, to find yourself in the underground still. I would urge Rews to enjoy where they are now because, when they do get big, they will not have a lot of time to settle. Worldwide tours and big demands will be great but also mean they will be busy all of the time. As it stands; Williams and Tohill are building their foundations and are definitely doing what they should be. I understand them when they ask whether things are moving as fast as they should but that is just a symptom of the modern scene. Things are so packed and competitive that even the very best will have to fight for their rights. If Rews were a chaotic and disorganised duo then I would say they need to sit back and take time to focus. As it is, they have a great record label and team around them that help put the music out and are keen to get them as far as possible. The gigs are coming in and all of that experience feeds into the music. The more exposure the duo gets - that means they are sharp and ready for headlines lots. Look at how far they have come in a short time and I can only imagine where they will be this time next year. It is a busy and bustling time that I am excited to watch. If you are born to be in music, like Rews, then you want the very best and you have these dreams. Maybe it takes a little longer than anticipated to get things as far as you’d like but it will come. Hold steady and show some patience and all of the pieces will connect. I feel next year, if there is another Rews alum mooted for them, will be the biggest one for the duo.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @TomPullenphotography  

Rews are on my mind because they are a great British act who continues to rise. I have talked about their evolution but that should not be ignored. A lot of artists either stagnate or go backwards or make very small steps. Rews have a great team but the music is all theirs. Look at the way stations like BBC Radio 1 have latched onto them and the demands at their feet. People want to see them up-close and I know full well what an incredible live set Rews put on. I am not sure whether their Mercury glory will be in a few years or longer but it is something they can set their sights on. I have spoken about duos before and, whilst they are coming through and more celebrated; the solo artist is still at the forefront. I think Rews will help change that and show what variation, power and brilliance there is in the duo. They have that ability to stretch their music and that extra member. It is amazing to think all of the sounds and potency you hear from the stage comes from the two of them. Let’s think about Rews in the context of current British music and where they might head. Look around and there are great new albums from the likes of IDLES and Anna Calvi. Both of those artists have passion to spare and they are producing exhilarating and potent works. Nadine Shah, denied the Mercury, is in the same camp. People want to bond with artists who have that strength and are delivering something heartfelt, open and passionate. Look at the new album from Christine and the Queens (Chris) and that looks set to be one of this year’s best-reviewed albums!

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Andy Tatt Photography

It is getting five-star reviews all over the place and is that perfect mix of accessible and personal. Talking about gender and womanhood; it is an album filled with great tracks and inspiring messages; delivered by Héloïse Letissier with so much pride, commitment and authority. She is one of the most compelling voices around and someone who is in a league of her own. Rews already have that teeth and bite and I feel their music could go in the same direction as someone like IDLES or Christine and the Queens. Maybe Rews concentrate more on love and their personal experiences but they have socio-political minds and have focused on subjects outside of relationships. One of my tips would be to mix what they do with examinations of politics and gender; a nod to the sort of themes IDLES, Wolf Alice and the best out there are penning. That seems to be what we are attached to and being noted by critics. Rews already have a terrific sound and are popular and I think new lyrics features in the coming year or so would expand their work and get them to the mainstream quicker. What they are doing now is so incredible that I feel awards will come their way. We have a few terrific British acts who are delivering world-class albums and Rews have the ammunition to join them! Rews deliver brilliant campaigns and are always keeping their fans abreast. They send videos out on social media and have that direct bond and need to connect. The artwork and videos for their singles are great and you have brilliant photo-shoots out there. Williams and Tohill think about their fans and what will stand them apart. I am fascinated by what they do and how they do it. You do not need to strain your eyes too much to see Rews have a great understanding of campaigns and what will capture the imagination. They have the tools for success - and doubts of their place and potential should be quashed.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: @TomPullenphotography  

I am keen to come to their new track but, before then, I wanted to look at the bond between the two. Both have been playing music for a while and it would be understandable if a slight strain came through. A lot of bands show cracks because they spend so much time on the road and in confined spaces together. Naturally, that closeness can lead to tension and it can be hard. Duos are not immune and, whilst they have few members and a bit more space, they are always together and arguments can happen. I get the sense Rews have never shared a cross word! They seem sisterly and like nothing can break them apart. Maybe there have been stressful times and bad gigs but that is more to do with promoters and circumstances out of their control. One can sense the closeness of Williams and Tohill and realise how much they love one another. Listen to their music and go to a gig and you can feel how they connect and vibe off of one another. You can sense that degree of simpatico and they both know where the other one is. That kinetic and telekinetic bond is not something that is natural to everyone. One of the reasons albums seem to work and get noticed is because of the understanding between musicians and real relationships. People can tell when things are faked or strained and, as such, bands and duos need to be on the same page and solid. Rews are one of the tightest and most assured duos in the world. I often worry when you have duos comprised of those in relationships. It is good having that natural affection but working with someone you share your every waking moment with, I feel, can be a gamble. If you are good mates then you get to separate at the end of the day and not be around each other all of the time. I am not suggesting Rews’ members do not want to hang every hour – they are very close – but they get to be with boyfriends/friends/family and they have those two different worlds. I feel everyone should keep an eye on Rews because all of that magic is there – how long until they explode and are scooping up awards?!

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Can You Feel It? opens with plenty of mood and atmosphere. Rather than leap in with pummel and vocals; you get this teasing and winding build-up that reminds me of Metallica. Past tracks from Rews have put me in mind of Royal Blood and, in fact, with every track that become more individual and distinct. I can hear embers of Metallica’s eponymous album in the thick and pulsating drums and viper-like guitar. You feel something wonderful is brewing and are happy to swim in the introduction. I feel a lot of artists do not expend much effort when it comes to introductions but Rews are masterful when it comes to capturing you within a few seconds! Another reason why Rews are so majestic is because they can switch from a snarled and dark introduction to a lighter and more Pop/Indie verse. Tohill’s voice has that lightness and accessibility but there is distinct punch and primal edge. The lyrics ask what you do when you do not let your feelings out and what’s in your heart show. With Williams backing on vocals; words are repeated and there is this great skip. The heroine asks what happens when things are contained and you are not revealing what is inside. Rather than race through lyrics and put too many words out there; Rews are really effective and potent when it comes to linguistic economy. Creating melody and a sense of dance with a few words; you are mesmerised by their delivery, concision and style. What I mean is they deliver thought-provoking thoughts with very few words. Repeating certain phrases and twisting lines together is much more impactful than a load of lines that gets a bit messy. For my money, Can You Feel It? is one of the strongest things Rews has put out into the world.

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Williams provides that solid and driving beat that gives the song its backbones, grumble and control. Tohill leads superbly and the combination of the two is infectious and natural. What attracts me to the song is its catchiness and energy. Lines are almost chanted and you smile whilst thinking. The words concerning hurt and that desire for revelation hits us all. Our heroine talks about people saying they love you and leaving; it is not what you deserve and you feel hurt – letting that out and showing that pain is needed. As I say; rather than pack the song with lots of lines and not leave an impression in the mind; Rews repeat lines and it means the sentiments get into the mind a lot more quickly. The chorus takes the song in a new direction and tightens things up. From the more relaxed verses; the duo ramp things up and power through the chorus. Tohill asks whether we can feel it in our veins. That anger and sense of hurt needs to come through and defiance shows itself. (Make sure you watch the lyric video that accompanies the song because it is visually stunning and will add to your listening experience). We need to dance like nobody’s watching; sing as though no-one is listening – love will come again and things will work out. The song has a narrative arc and, by the second verse, questions come back in. The first verse asked what you do when you have pain and are not sure what to do. The chorus provides answers and suggestion and now, having followed that advice, what are you to do when you have pulled through? In spite of a spiritual release and having unleashed some anger; the heart has been refuelled and those painful memories are still there. Tohill and Williams know recovery will happen but keep bringing back that mantra: letting things out and not burying that pain deep inside.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @TomPullenphotography

One gets a powerful and more primal second chorus. The delivery is the same but, having more story and revelation means its delivers a bigger punch. I wonder whether Can You Feel It? comes from a personal places and Rews have felt that hurt. Everyone can identify with what is being sung and Rews are not an act who does things like anyone else. Many focus on love and hurt in cliché ways and their music can be rather stilted and samey. Not only do you get a very powerful and intelligent song but there is that sense of the catchy. Listen to the way the words twist and turn. It is wonderful hearing how Rews change between songs and how solid their material sounds. Everything is tight and polished but not so much so it takes away that distinct energy and personality. I know Rews will be looking ahead to more material but they should take time to savour what they have created. The lyrics video for the single is brilliant and stunning to see. I would like to see an official video and feel they could come up with something insane. I know Can You Feel It? has been performed live and been in their pocket for a while but it has never made its way into the studio. Rather than release another tracks from Pyro; Williams and Tohill are keen to push forward and explore fresh ground, Both are excellent songwriters and performers and they are at their most solid and exciting right now. I am impressed by their range and how they can produce such a spectrum of sounds. Where they go from now is up to them but I feel they have a chance to look at what is happening in the world and bring their take to issues like gender/discrimination and social concerns. They are brilliant when documenting matters of the heart and soul but I wonder we will get any assessments of what is bubbling up in the news. In any case, they have delivered an exceptional song in Can You Feel It? and they are definitely on the right course. A brilliant duo who keep getting stronger and more ambitious – keep your eyes in Rews and throw your love behind them.

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I have talked a lot about Rews and what they are putting out into the world. Things are busy for them right now and, with Can You Feel It?, into the ether; they will get more gigs and demands Today, they are in Sheffield and, as part of their autumn tour, they head to places like Glasgow and Birmingham. It is not long until they are back in London and it is a great time for them. Getting to great venues and delivering their music to hungry crowds is what they are all about. The social media love is out there and, gradually, they are poking their way into the big leagues. It is the commitment and effort they expend that bowls me over! The sheer energy and focus to keep going and playing all these gigs is not something anyone can do. Rews are determined to get their music to as many people as possible and they will not rest! I hope they do get a break before Christmas because I feel they have a lot more songs bubbling away and ready to unleash. Having that stage-studio balance is important and many will look and wonder when a new Rews record comes out. I feel the duo have a big future in the U.S. and would not be shocked to see them tour the East and West coasts next year. In fact, I know they could go down a storm in Australia and have a very busy 2019. They have already toured around the world but, with new material out there, there is going to be increased demand; new fans coming through and the chance to see new places. Can You Feel It? has their natural and distinct D.N.A. but it explores new ground. Every release finds Rews upping their game and more confident than before. I know they will be a big success and go a very long way.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: @TomPullenphotography

To get back to Collette Williams’ sense of existential dread and doubts: there is no way she is in the wrong place and not moving forward. I know she will be inspiring many women (and men) who want to get into music and is one of the finest drummers around. Shauna Tohill is a terrific lead and songwriter and, with Williams, they are great artists who pen incredible moments and deliver them with real emotion. It is no fluke they are where they are. All the hard work and drive has meant they are preparing for new gigs and getting big reaction on the road. It can be hard to think you are where you need to be when you have to work so hard and other, lesser acts are further ahead. I am fully confident Rews will change for awards very soon and will remain on the scene for many years to come. Right now, they have a brilliant track out and should look forward to (I hope!) some relaxation later this year. Get behind Rews and ensure you do not let their music pass you by. I have been a fan of theirs for a while and can see how much they want this. Rews are one of the best acts in this country and I can detect that passion in them that will never die and falter. Without much rest in sight right now; you know how much it means to Williams and Tohill to be out there and performing to hungry fans! Can You Feel It? is a new addition to their cannon and I wonder how that is going down when they are performing live. If you have not checked out this magnificent duo then you owe yourself that at the very least. Maybe they not in the mainstream right now but that will all change. When you see a genuine act who can go all the way and have a brilliant future ahead, that is really exciting and promising. Rews have heart, soul and talent in spades that cannot be faked. It will not be long at all until the interpret Rews will be…

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ON top of the world!

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Follow Rews

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TRACK REVIEW: Denton Thrift - First Light

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Denton Thrift

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First Light

 

9.1/10

 

The track, First Light, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/dentonthrift/first-light

GENRE:

Electronic

ORIGIN:

Leeds, U.K.

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

https://open.spotify.com/album/42XvDlhZTVCNqC4LA4Wuuy?si=o-Ai3O5yQM2vmzvIAFAGFA

RELEASE DATE:

17th August, 2018

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I am scaling reviews down in the coming weeks…

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to focus more on bigger acts and other sides of music but, right now, I am looking at a few different acts who produce interesting music. I have found a lot of acts coming up for review are saying very similar things and are almost the same on paper which, for a review as deep as what I do, it is incredibly hard to write much and it has led me to look at the mainstream or artists that I know can produce something different and unusual. That is not a shot at the artists coming up for review and there is plenty to love about Denton Thrift. That said, I will be wandering over old ground because, being based in Leeds, it gives me a reason to look at the city again and duos that come together from rather different backgrounds; E.P.s and, again, why they are an important form of music; similarities in music and why there are common themes/sounds coming up; artists who have great potential and certain sides to look at; a bit about compositions and where Denton Thrift can go. Whilst I am covering old words when I come back to Leeds – it is an interesting city to look at but have reviewed a load of artists from here – it is worth noting a consistency and why the place is synonymous with interesting new music. I keep talking about the Londoncentric scene but it is worth revisiting. You get a load of personality and colour with London but I love the accents and variations you get from places like Leeds. The city seems to be teeming with fresh talent and artists that do things in a rare way. Years ago, I reviewed an artist from Leeds who played Electro-Swing and, more recently, someone who produces a mix of Nick Cave and Tom Waits. Whilst London and bigger cities can provide that sort of range; there are fewer limits in Leeds and a great sense of freedom.

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What amazes me is how the city keeps on stamping out artists who have a rare mindset and do not follow the pack. I have not seen a place that has such a strange spirit where its musicians venture into unusual avenues. That is not to say Denton Thrift are bonkers and mad as crows but they definitely do things their own way. I feel there is a lot more to come from them and I feel they will remain in Leeds. The North is a fascinating place for new music and I feel the finest of the current breed will emanate from here. I think it used to be the way all the better northern artists hailed from Manchester but there is a definite case for somewhere like Leeds. A lot of its native venues are remaining open and many of the locals are ensuring the live music scene is thriving and sustainable. Leeds is, like any city, a bit pricey but a lot more affordable than areas like London. People are keen to explore the cool venues in Leeds and that means artists have places to play and do not feel the need to migrate. This is all positive and you can tell there is a real sense of identity and togetherness in Leeds. Because of all these factors, the music seems to be a lot more expansive, adventurous and original. Who knows where the city will go in the coming years but I am confident many of the venues will remain and local artists will continue to grow. I also hope the media take more attention of Leeds and reflect the great music that is coming from there. Over the years, I have followed what is coming from there and how artists approach older styles of music. Denton Thrift have a modern cut but there are classic stripes and older elements that weave into their sounds. Although Denton Thrift are based in Leeds, they hail from different parts of the world.

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Their name comes from a year they spent in Denton, Texas and the duo hail from Devon and Northern Ireland. It is a rather scattershot and random togetherness you might think. The pair met whilst at the University of Leeds and it seems like their common ideals and desires have fused into fantastic music. I am getting more excited about duos as opposed to bands because you have that closeness and connection you do not get elsewhere. Music is at its stronger when those performing it are on the same page and you can feel that sense of understanding. A lot of bands are tight but I get the impression some of them are not communicating and there are tensions. If we look ahead, I feel bands will continue to inspire but there is a greater place for duos. Right now, the best albums in the mainstream are coming from solo artists but duos are starting to make a case. Most of them are in the underground and, in years to come, the exceptional music they make will grab more ears and become more influential. As opposed the solo artists, duos can produce a bigger and more varied sound, I feel. You have the option of providing something gritty and big or, in the case of Denton Thrift, music that is more emotive, atmospheric and detailed. It is going to be interesting where the Leeds-formed duo is heading and where they are going to base themselves. I have talked about Leeds and its importance but, in truth, they could head anywhere and find success. I hope they do settle for a while but, with critical acclaim behind them, it seems Denton Thrift have the chance to travel the world and bring their music to new nations. The music industry is a tough and competitive landscape that is impossible to gauge but I know how popular duos are right now and how well they can do.

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It is all about that central connection and a sort of ersatz relationship that makes the music so together and intuitive – a lot of those in duos are in a relationship, in fact. In a duo, there is nowhere to hide really. You cannot stand behind a band member or retreat into the shadows. I have also spoken about E.P.s recently but, again, I need to bring them up when looking at Denton Thrift. Their four-track E.P., Sight, is full of different stories, life and fascinating sounds. It is worth noting why many new artists are producing E.P.s as opposed an album. Albums are obviously very expensive and it can be quite a challenge putting them together. The album market is not as strong as years past and people are more interested in singles. I worry that modern artists will struggle to sell albums and many do not have the patience to sit through there. This year has provided some immense albums but I wonder how often we will listen to them and how many other albums have been forgotten about. E.P.s are that useful bridge between singles and albums. I love albums but I feel the appetite is not what it used to be. Singles are great and give you that burst but you can say more with E.P.s and it provides a lot more flesh and bones. Maybe this is something the mainstream will take to heart. Might we be more accepting and willing to listen to albums if we had the gateway of E.P.s? I feel they are an accessible and nice way to hear more from an artist and you do not need to commit to the album. There are fantastic options in the underground and new music and I have been dipping into Denton Thrift’s E.P. lately. Many might say it is hard to distinguish between various duos in the same genres producing E.P.s and how do you separate them? There is some truth there but Denton Thrift inhibit their own world and you can hear their unique D.N.A. in every track.

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One can hear the closeness of the members and one knows each song means an awful lot. Again, like a lot of artists lately, mental-health is back in the spotlight. There were years in music when you never heard about subjects like mental-health and it was seen as stigma. The music you get is emotive and open and Denton Thrift are unafraid to discuss deeper and darker subjects. Many of us suffer mental-health issues and it is important musicians document this and provide their own assessment. I am keen to see whether mental-health becomes a bigger part of the musical landscape and how the subject grows. As I said, it is becoming more common in music and so many artists are tackling the effects of poor mental-health and how they impact relationships. Many might say it is a rather depressive subject to cover but it does not have to be. Denton Thrift bring melody, light and a sense of optimism to the area. They are not producing music that drags you down and makes you want to hide away. They investigate, on their E.P., how it can be hard to reflect and have any sort of inner-calm when mental-health impacts on relationships. I guess a lot of people can relate to this problem and, through the music, there are answers and sympathetic tones. The media is reacting to their music and note how bold they are compared with their earliest work. Each new single seems to be a big step and you can hear the confidence grow. The best music around needs to have a balance of darkness and light and, I feel, have some form of education and information. If you cannot relate to what is being said or do not take something new away from the music; how likely are you to come back? Artists who remain in the mind are those who understand this and ensure their music ticks these boxes.

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I mentioned how I am moving away from reviews in a bit and that is simply because of the familiarity. As my reviews are long and I like to tackle themes around an artist/track; it is becoming harder to find new angles to explore as so many artists are producing similar themes/sounds. I feel Denton Thrift are among the last remaining artists in my diary where I can find fresh insight and places to explore. I get a lot of submissions from British artists and those who play in the same genres; the same sort of lyrical themes and, after a while, it gets impossible to find fresh things to say. I long for an explosive Hip-Hop artist/band or a cool Soul female – something that I have not heard for a while that gives me a spark. You might say my blog attracts a certain type but my output is varied and I never exclude a genre. Denton Thrift, as I mentioned, are the last of the more original acts I can explore from different sides and say something new. I am impressed by their music and intrigued by their backstory and, if anything, it would be nice to see more come from them. The photos I have included are great and well composed but I wonder whether a new photoshoot is coming from them. They look great on camera and have a clear idea of how they want to look. I feel another set of snaps could bring new people their way and show another side to their personality. I’d also like to know how they met at the University of Leeds and which artists drew them together. You can hear the odd influence in their sounds but I wonder what they grew up around and whether there are particular artists that bonded them. I feel there is a lot more to explore from Denton Thrift and they have unique edges that can come to the fore.

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Before I go onto to look a track from their new E.P., I wanted to look at the compositions and why they stick in the mind. I mentioned how duos have variation and a flexibility you do not really get from a solo artist. You can get fascination from a solo artist but how much variety can you find? They are only one person and, whilst you get some great composers, I feel there are constraints and it can be difficult to push things too far. Duos have that extra member and, as such, there is that chance to add more texture, weight and eclecticism to the music. The compositions of Denton Thrift have been commended because they have so much life and expression within. You are not listening to two people who are lazily stringing songs together and have not thought of the music. I long for artists who take care to really craft music and ensure they augment the lyrics. One might feel songs of struggle and a lack of self-reflection might be mirrored with rather tense and dour sounds. This is not the case with Denton Thrift. They bring their lyrics to life but their music seems to exist in its own world. Emotions, visions and stories burst from the music. It is wonderful stepping inside what they do and swimming in the music. I feel this is one of their biggest assets. So many duos are focused on lyrics and vocals but do not expend as much energy when it comes to compositions. Listen to the songs on Sight and you get a new experience and story with each track. I love what they are putting out right now and I am excited to see where they can go from here. I chose First Light to review because it stands out strongest but, to be fair, you can find much to love about any track from the E.P. It is the way you can close your eyes and let the music get inside the head that really stands out. I feel so much modern music lacks a soul and you can feel rather detached from the whole experience. Denton Thrift ensure the listener is treated to something wonderful and allowed to paint their own pictures.

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I wonder how much artists really think about the complete picture and whether compositions are heavy in their mind. By that, I worry there is a need to produce something rushed or not understand how much nuance and joy you can bring from a well-thought-out composition. Denton Thrift provide a complete experience that hits all the senses and I am not surprised they are getting a lot of love. Critics are noting how Denton Thrift are growing and they seem to up their game with each track. You get a different skin in each number and, when collected together on an E.P., nothing sound out of place or foreign. It is a whole story and you will struggle to find your favourite track. A lot of E.P.s have a clear standout and maybe there is a weak track in the pack. Denton Thrift have ensured their E.P. is a more rounded, quality-assured and balanced work so that you are drawn to each song and nothing comes across as half-formed or unimportant. Maybe that is because of their bond or the way they want to tell a story with Sight. In any case, they are getting under the skin and turning many heads. At this rate of progression and realisation; I feel they have a very long future and it will not be long until they are playing some big stages. I think their music can get even bigger and, when taking it to the stage, one wonders how emphatic, swelling and sensational the music can sound. The duo is promoting their E.P. at the moment but I feel they are already looking ahead to more material. You can hear the hunger and desire in their voice. I feel I have covered a lot of ground regarding the duo and it is time to move on to a song of theirs. I wanted to look at First Light because it is getting a lot of heat and it is really interesting to hear.

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I talked about compositions and how few artists genuinely think about how the listener will react. First Light seems to project so many different sights and emotions within the opening seconds. The delicate and electronic notes are sparse but there is a rhythm to them. The smokiness of the combined vocals and the way the words are projected means you get a real sense of emotion coming through. The composition mutates and there are backing noises and new flecks that add dynamics and suggestions. One can hear a lot of The xx coming through. This is not a bad thing but that is the first act I thought of when listening to the song. The male-female vocal style (breathy and sullen but with plenty of engagement) and the compositional style reminded me a lot of the early work from The xx. Many might see this as a problem but, if anything, it is s strength from the duo. You get a real sense of who they are and there is not any need to copy what is already out there and piggy-back off of another artist. Denton Thrift talk about falling down and a sense of struggle but one of the only criticisms of the song is a lack of decipherability in some areas. I have noted this a lot with artists but, when lyrics are projected a certain way, you do risk losing clarity and intelligibility. One gets a lot of seduction and passion from the vocals but some of the words are hard to detect. You can pick up a few bits here and there but, early on, it is a little hard threading the story together because words do come apart. Maybe this is impossible to rectify given the vocal style of Denton Thrift but, actually, you can piece together all the elements and narratives from the composition. Beats crackle and there are electronic flickering. So much is working away and the composition itself does so much work. Your mind races as you keep up with what is happening and you start to imagine little scenes.

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The vocals become clearer and more focused when you head into the next verse. I get the impression things are falling apart in a relationship and there is a coldness coming through. In terms of the vocals, one gets a real hit of Soul and silkiness. It is a luscious and smooth deliver that packs a real punch. I got impressions of two sweethearts on different pages and things starting to crack. You never get a sense of anxiety and stress when listening to the song. Everything is delivered with a real calm and you settle into the song and are free to wander. That need to approach the light and find something more positive is evident. Maybe things have got bad and you get a feeling tense emotions have frayed a relationship or poor mental-health has impacted things. As you are in the darkness and the subject is struggling to find footing; there is that call to step into the light or start afresh. This is my interpretation but the reality might be different. Elements of the East – in terms of the electronic sounds and how they resonate – fuse together with stiff beats and those luscious vocals. I am always attracted to that composition and how it evolves and shifts. The duo have taken care to put so much into the music that you can listen to the composition alone and feel addicted and intrigued. Again, as things start to develop, some of the lyrics get lost again but it is never too much of a burden. Music is about the whole experience and what you get from it. I feel First Light is about a sense of rebirth and the promise of the morning. You can hear how there are struggles in a relationship and personal crisis. It looks rather bleak in places but that spirit of betterment and improvement shine through. My abiding takeaway is turning something bad into good and making some important steps. It is a great song from Denton Thrift and the standout from their Sight E.P. There are a lot of duos out there but Denton Thrift are among the most inventive and interesting out there. Many eyes will look their way and see what they can come up with next.

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I wonder where Denton Thrift can go and what they have coming up. Maybe the remainder of the year is going to be taken up promoting Sight and seeing how far they can spread it. It has been out for a few weeks and is picking up some good reviews. We all know how hard it is to succeed in music and how many others are sort of doing the same thing. That is why I have decided to change review tack and take a breather down the line. It is the case where artists are almost identical on paper. Most reviewers only cover the music so they are not worried about the artist’s location or their story. I like to put more depth into things and feel artists need to stand out and not be the same as everyone else. In terms of sounds, I am getting a lot of the same thing and few acts outside the U.K. It is hard starting to write because I don’t know what to say and it is hard to flesh a review out. Maybe this will change and I can discover something fresh but Denton Thrift have provided something genuinely new for me to talk about – even if I have had to re-explore Leeds and look at mental-health in music. I feel talking about something that is making the news and standing to get more focus is really important. Their future material will look at other things – it would be exhausting and a little boring if they repeated themselves – but they have created an E.P. that explores a challenging subject we all have exposure to. In a sea of duos that are all vying for attention and want to be taken seriously; the Leeds outfit are equipping themselves for a long reign. I know they will be hitting the road – keep up with all their social media feeds – and I wonder whether they are looking ahead to next year and where they might head. I think they have the promise of doing international gigs and it will be interesting to see how their music translates overseas. It has been great getting involved with their work and I shall keep an eye out and see where they go next. If you want to discover something that has its own voice and will stay in the mind; have a listen to Denton Thrift and explore the E.P., Sight. First Light is a fascinating offering that I wanted to single-out but each of the E.P.’s tracks is worth exploration. Their start and present is interesting and worthy of attention but I feel their future moves will be…

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EVEN more interesting and exciting.

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Follow Denton Thrift

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TRACK REVIEW: RIDER - You

TRACK REVIEW:

 

RIDER

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You

 

9.5/10

 

 

The track, You, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA2VzbF_g78&feature=youtu.be

GENRE:

Alternative-Pop

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

14th September, 2018

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THIS time around…

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I wanted to look at a few different, new things. I will come to look at RIDER and her latest track soon but, when thinking about her style and changes, things do pop into the head. I will talk about authenticity in music and those who are very real and revealing in music; artists who keep things fresh and do not stay with the same sound; live performers who can bring something sensational and memorable to the stage; complete and organised artists who are not mainstream and have their own direction – I will look at where RIDER might go and what her future holds. I was watching a documentary on Amy Winehouse yesterday evening that put her album, Back to Black, under the spotlight. It was a classic album series that spoke with those involved in the album’s creation and collected archive interviews with Winehouse. The artists died in 2011 and yesterday would have been her thirty-fifth birthday. It was a bittersweet documentary that highlighted and exposed Winehouse’s unique and peerless talent and how she approached the recording of that album. The eleven-track record was released in 2006 and is an award-winning, confessional record. Where does RIDER fit into this speech?! Well; she does not have (luckily) the same tragedy and addiction issues as Amy Winehouse but the common factor is the sense of authenticity and personality one gets in the music. Winehouse wrote about breakups and those who let her down. She said how no fake or unlikable lyric made its way onto that album – she was not going to sing something impure that lacked any meaning. I was amazed by her candidness and sense of confidence. The songs throughout Back to Black have fantastic production values – thanks to Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi – but it is that central figure that makes things shine. It is sad Winehouse is no longer with us but artists can look at her epic album as a sign of just how good she was!

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I listen to RIDER and I do not hear the same fakery and commercial drive as you get with many artists. Knowing her, I also know how much music means and it is a way of putting herself into the world. A lot of artists are warm and open in the flesh but there are things they cannot communicate through conversation. Like Winehouse; RIDER uses music as a way of confessing and exploring; digging deep into her soul and bringing from her heart lines and scars that make you think. Maybe the two artists’ voices and personalities are different but I can sense a very pure and hungry artist in RIDER. She does not put words into her songs that are aimed for radio-play and following the pack: her creations have that unique and stunningly emotional quality that stands aside and worms its way into the soul. Another reason why I wanted to look at Amy Winehouse was the honesty of her interviews. You did not have rehearsed lines and you could really connect with her. A complex human with troubles but a big and open heart; a very real artist who has inspired legions of new artists – I wonder whether we will see her like again. I do wonder how many artists actually mean what they say and how real their music is. I can detect those who are aiming for chart gold or writing music that has very little connection to them. RIDER does not waste words and ensures everything she puts out into the world is personal and from her mind. Maybe you feel that is no special thing but you would be surprised how many artists lack any real conviction and control over their music. In the vocal and delivery, I can pick up on an artist who wants the listener to listen to every syllable and take her music to heart. In an age where albums are less important and we are looking for a quick hit; RIDER is an artist who writes music that warrants serious investigation and time. Whether she is planning an album next year – I will touch on that a bit later – every song she puts into the world is very much her thoughts and emotions; lines that are meaningful and personal that we can all connect with and relate to.

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I also hear a lot of artists who either stick with a same and familiar sound or lack any sense of direction and consistency. It can be hard cementing a sound and discovering what the listener wants. Music is about experimentation and bravery and it does take to get things right. I have been following RIDER since the start and she is someone who always wants to push her music forward. Her previous single, Hurts Me Too, stunned me and I was lucky enough to review it. That was an emotional and heart-aching song and, whilst it has plenty of fizz and memorability; You is the artist stepping into new territory and doing something new. The first few seconds of each song are vastly different. Hurts Me Too is a slower beginning and has more emotive and tearful beginnings. You starts off with crackle and plenty of spunk. One might say that split and development might lack focus but the opposite is true. Rather than repeat herself and write another song that spoke of heartache and pain; we have a different angle and an artist who keeps things fresh and evolved. I go back to Winehouse and how an album like Back to Black contained different musical styles – classic Soul and the girl group sound of the 1960s together with Blues – and lyrical themes. The opener, Rehab, is witty and humorous but delivers a serious punch; love songs throughout the record are varied and interesting and there is no repetition. RIDER is someone who can keep her personality and purity but does not want to repeat her. I spoke to her before her new track came out and she said she has been experimenting and looking to venture into new realms. It is encouraging finding an artist who is writing music that means something to her but provides something different and unpredictable. I am excited to see where she goes next and where her music is headed.

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There are artists who can switch things up between releases but RIDER seems to be vibing from the city of London and the various scenes and sights. I look for artists who are original and do not repeat the same tricks. RIDER goes through heartache and relationship troubles but she has a curious and imaginative mind that does not want to remain still and ordinary. I love the boldness of her sound and how she makes such shifts between songs. I have hinted at a possible album but I think an E.P. is more likely. Maybe that will come next year and it is exciting to see her progress, develop and shift. Every song from her is an open and honest story that you can dive in and feel safe. You really root for her and feel a connection and that sort of potent emotion is hard to find. She is a true and authentic writer who wants others to learn from her music and know there is someone like her out there. I am going through change at the moment and moving. It is a bit scary and the future is not 100% sure and I wonder how things will go. I look to music to provide guidance and a sense of direction and I get that with RIDER. What you get from her is relatable words and music that is so rich and interesting. I am not sure of her exact process and how the notes come together but you can tell everything has to mean something! The songwriter has a team around her but she does not let them dictate and guide her sounds too heavily. Instead, she has a great band behind her and you get this collaborative process. It would be easy to repeat songs and, after success, stay on that course and not make too many changes. RIDER does not want to get stagnant or sound too predictable. Instead, you get songs that are their own beast and do not sound like anything that came before. This is something a lot of artists should take to heart.

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I will talk about RIDER as a complete artist soon but it is her live performances that have been getting a load of love. I am yet to see her perform – I will amend this very soon – but the reviews are clear and positive. She loves performing to crowds and, being based in London, she has a lot of venues around her. What strikes me about her live shows is how much energy she puts out there. A great performer who does not repeat what is on the record – you get fresh nuance and revelation with every gig. I know she loves the connection with the audience and seems to be at home on the stage. It is great hearing her music in the studio but she seems to feel free and unleashed on the stage. Projecting a lot of movement, spirit and electricity; she is someone you need to see play and see what the fuss is about. I am reluctant to go and see some artists perform because I wonder whether they will provide value and are going to be worth it. In a busy age where we all have less time and money to go out; I see many of us staying at home and not venturing out. When you do go out to a gig, you want to make sure it is worth the trip and you’ll get something special. That is a lot of demand and pressure on an artist but there are plenty who can provide wonderful and memorable sets. RIDER knows all of this and wants people to come away from her gigs feeling different and having had a very special night. There are very few original tracks out there but she is growing as an artist and has a busy future ahead. When she takes to the stage, you know she wants people to come together and have a fantastic time. Rather than hide away and not put much out there, we get a wondrous and physical performance that stays in the mind for a long time.

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I feel RIDER has the chance to perform a lot up and down the country. She is American-born and has experience playing and watching gigs over there. I know there is a part of her that wants to play back in the U.S. and I feel next year will be an exciting and busy one for her. It is her determination to get out in front of people and have her music heard that stands out. Rather than spend hours on social media and look at streaming figures – she has to consider that but it is not the most important thing – being out in front of people and getting their reaction is much more powerful and effecting. She played at The Water Rats not too long ago and it was a fantastic gig for her. The live shots you see in this review are from that gig and capture what she is all about. I have mentioned how she is a real artist and there is no fakery in what she does. This is especially true when she plays gigs. RIDER brings out her personality and has that instant bond with the people. In order to succeed in the music industry, you need to consider everything and ensure you deliver in every area. RIDER knows this and, in terms of live performance, is ready for new challenges and fresh audiences. I would like to see a U.K. tour – which will come with more material – but she is someone who would love to take to the skies and get her music around the world. One of the reasons I want to see her perform live is to see that reaction and how it makes people feel. A great performer should be able to connect with the crowd but there is a lot more to it than that. RIDER packs so much colour, energy and brilliance into her sets and I know she will get even stronger as a live artist.

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Great artists, too, need to have multiple sides and tackle everything music puts in their path. By that, I mean they need to strike you with their personality and complete package. RIDER, having met her a couple of times, is ambitious and has a lot of plans for her career. She has feistiness but there is that honest and soulful quality that means she is open and human. She can relate to you and have that sensitive nature but she is an upbeat and positive human who wants to go as far as possible. Her website and social media profiles are fantastic and appealing. You can get a lot of information and know where she is heading next. A lot of mainstream artists are directed and they have to follow what the label wants. Artists like RIDER, although they have management, are not being dictated to and are restricted. Instead, she is able to craft her own career as she pleases and there is a great sense of understanding – that connection with the label and her management. Her band is around her and, when she shoots music videos, you have a great team that brings her stories to life. The videos are great and memorable. I remember watching the clip for Hurts Me Too and being impressed by it. It is an emotional watch and contains some striking images. There is a sexiness and physical excitement but one sees the heroine pained and teary. A Little Light, too, has emotional moments but there are some salacious and sexy moment – a passionate and exciting video that has a sense of joyride and abandon. Now, on You, you get even more excitement, colour and bounce. Each video has a different skin and does not repeat what came before. I know how much she puts into each video and how important it is to tell a story through film. Artists have limited budget but RIDER uses studios and the outdoors effectively and creates something special. Videos are as important as songs to me and you can get something out of videos you cannot from the songs – new shades and elements that are not evident in the original song.

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I am always impressed by artists who have brilliant social media pages and a professional edge. RIDER has great sense of creative drive and imagination and brings that to videos. She wants fans informed and connected so ensures she brings us the latest information, photos and updates. You are part of her world and feel part of the team. Whether there is a collective noun for RIDER fans – might have to brainstorm that one – I am not sure but you always feel connected to her. This is important at a time when we are less connected as people. I struggle to bond with too much music and it can feel very impersonal. Some artists do not have high-resolution photos and do not consider the visual side of what they do. I know I go on about this quite a lot but photos are crucial in this day and age. There is no excuse for overlooking it and one cannot say they are too expensive. One can get a lot of photos taken in a single shoot and, even though it costs a little, it is an investment that will pay for itself. You know that band/artist is more serious and you get to see different sides to their personality. Rather than make people guess and struggle to piece things together; those who consider every element of music are going to resonate and be much more appealing. RIDER takes care to ensure her music and videos are the best they can be. I know she wants to go a long way in the industry and she is doing a fantastic job so far. There are few artists out there who have as much attention to detail and care as she does. I know she will go a long way and there is a very bright future for her. The fact she goes out of her way to deliver as much as possible and give her fans a great experience does really show. I know all this hard work will pay off and she will be a mainstream star in the future. We need those who stand out and are real; artists that are original and deliver huge value.

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The opening notes of You are vastly different to anything RIDER has put out there. It has a gleefulness and sense of delight that makes me think of the 1980s. If anything, there are touches of Prefab Sprout around their From Langley Park to Memphis period. You are hooked and interested before a note has been sung and it is a fantastic introduction. The video sees RIDER and the band in a studio playing the song live. The heroine bounces and dances to the music and we know this is a song that wants people to get up and feel involved. We get shots of a bedroom and items; a sense of memory and today – a complex set of shots that make me think of someone rebuilding and taking new steps. RIDER talks about being reborn and not being who you were before. I have talked about her personal approach to music but here, it seems, she is directing her words at someone else. The girl in the song – I get the sense she is talking about herself to an extent – is not who she was yesterday and things are different today. Maybe there have experienced heartbreak and bad times but those memories are in the past. Perhaps things have been bad but they can get better. RIDER’s voice, too, sounds more alive and deep than I have ever heard. She attacks the song with so much energy and colour but ensures she injects plenty of emotion and honesty into You. The hard times have passed and now she is going into a good period. It is hard to avoid a sense of autobiography when you listen hard. Previous RIDER songs have looked at pain and struggle but now, it seems, she is thinking ahead and knows things are getting better. Maybe I am over-reaching but I can hear the heroine speaking to herself in addition to an anonymous heroine. You are sucked into the song and affected by its spritzing and delightful tones.

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It is impossible to listen to the song and not feel the need to get a bit active and jump along with it. We hear about stars aligning and things improving and, when the chorus hits, that true explosion comes. It is a delirious and bold delivery that takes you by surprise and packs plenty of strength. On You, one hears a positive coda that urges people to move past the bad and realise better things are ahead. Whether a documentation of the anxiety we feel and how we can all get bogged down; I always feel like the song is speaking to me. Great tracks should have personality and be true to the artist but they need to be understood by the listener. We have always got this from RIDER but this is her most expressive and exciting track. Although there is a lot of modern production and elements, you definitely get that sensation of the 1980s and the Pop of the day. The song becomes more personal and love-based in the chorus. The heroine wants the boy to be the one who stole her heart and thinks about. Maybe there have been some hard times and setbacks but she knows things are getting better and they are rekindling the flame. Our girl is belting the words and pouring her heart out. It is exciting and thrilling to hear the song and the power that arrives from the vocal. Her band is tight and supportive and they create an incredible sound together. Even if there have been hard times; that physical connection and understanding they have is right and real. RIDER knows how strong the relationship is and how much it means to her. Unable to escape the wave of energy and delight that comes from the song; it is wonderful hearing something so thrilling and inspiring. A lot of songs still trade in misery and a sense of negativity and RIDER is determined to project something wonderful. The synths and electronic elements of the song have that nostalgic feel but are modern at the same time; the band is always in-step with RIDER and You goes through various phases. Taking the energy down a bit near the end – so she can focus on her subject – there is actually a bit of Alternative-Rock from the 1990s and 2000s. You had those elements of 1980s Pop but there is another genre-shift before the chorus comes back in. A song that evolves, mutates and twists; You is a great song that showcases RIDER’s powerful and nuanced voice – she puts in a really powerful performance and take you aback – and an artist who is keen to explore new ground. Considering her changes and how she creates something new every time; I wonder where she goes from here. It is a very exciting time in RIDER’s camp and I cannot wait to see where she heads next.

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RIDER has made moves and developments between songs and she gets stronger by the release. I am a big fan of hers and am lucky enough to have spoken with her. I know she is curious and always looking to push and build her music. Her first couple of offerings have their own sound but, on You, there is something fresh and new coming through. RIDER does not want to stand still and repeat things. It is a great time for her and I feel, next year, she will go even further. I wonder whether she will bring an E.P. out and what she has planned. Her gigs are getting great reviews and she clearly loves being up on the stage. It is wonderful to see her vibe and bond with the audience and have so much fun. Enthusiasm is an important thing to hold onto and it will see her go a very long way. Ensure you check out her latest offering and its great video. I opened by comparing her, in a way, to Amy Winehouse. Both artists put themselves onto the page and do not write anything that lacks meaning and relevance. It is hard to detect fake artists from the real but there is never any doubt about RIDER. Another great thing is you never know where she will head next. Maybe she will stick in Alternative-Pop territory with flecks of electronic or she might take the lights down and go into a more Soul/Jazz realm. As we wonder whether she might step and what her plans are; it is worth looking at what she is bringing out now and how her stock is rising. A brilliant and passionate artist who is holding her head high and getting under the skin; I wish her a long and happy career in music. She can go as far as she wants and, with great people around her, has that comfort, partnership and support. This is important to keep a hold of and she knows this too. You can hear an artist who is born to be in music and wants to get people talking about her. You is a fantastic song from someone who is showing there is nobody out there like her. Give RIDER some serious love and time and, when she gigs next, make sure you get out there and see her…

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DO her thing.

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Follow RIDER

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TRACK REVIEW: Billie Marten - Mice

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Billie Marten

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Mice

 

9.7/10

 

 

The track, Mice, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXi5jVGwUu4

GENRE:

Folk

ORIGIN:

Yorkshire, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

9th September, 2018

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THIS is going to be a 'shorter' (it's still quite chunky!) review than usual…

but one I felt I had to schedule in! There have been some fantastic and inspiring releases this year. I am still reeling from Anna Calvi’s Hunter and IDLES’ Joy as an Act of Resistance – two great albums that have just come out and left a huge impression on my mind! They are masterful works from two of our most special and talented acts. Paul Simon and Paul McCartney have released, last week, incredible albums and we get to see old masters and newer talents working alongside one another. It has been a great year for music and, with a few months left on the calendar, 2018 has thrown another gem into the treasure chest. I am one of Billie Marten’s biggest fans and was one of the first journalists to review her 2016 debut album, Writing of Blues and Yellows – for a now-defunct site called The Metropolist. I hope, when her new album is released, I can be one of the first to grab that and review it (it will be for Too Many Blogs this time). Aside from making a couple of silly judgements – I felt the tracks Emily and Green were weaker than the rest; the former, especially, is a masterpiece – I was blown away by this relatively fresh and untested talented. I also said, in that review, the album would be bettered by the young star but, in fact, its strengths and beauties are being revealed this far down the line. It is a record that continues to amaze and reveal hidden sides – a truly wonderful creation that has no weakness. I also compared Marten, when the album came out, to Kate Bush. Both released their debut albums as teenagers (Bush was a couple of years older than Marten) and both knock you sideways with their incredible voices. Both are impeccable and original lyricists and they both have few other bodies helping the music come together. Maybe the comparisons end there but it is exciting to see, forty years after Kate Bush arrived on the scene, another British teenager who looks certain to enjoy a very long and brilliant career.

Some commentators have puffed out their cheeks in relief that, after two years, Marten is back – it brings me back to Bush and, in 1980, when she came back with Never for Ever (after only two years away) it was as though she had gone missing and been rescued at sea! Nowadays, everyone wants music instantly and if an artist releases a successful record, they are expected to get straight back into the studio and follow it. Marten’s new material arrives after not so long a gap. Consider artists like London Grammar and Royal Blood who left longer pauses between their debut and sophomore records – neither have the same complexities and resonance as Marten – and it is really not that long at all! In any case, I felt she was about to release something and had a sense an album was on its way. Lo and behold, Mice has scuttled into the music world (it has been played live once or twice prior but it is new to most of us). One of my fears, following Writing of Blues and Yellows, was that Marten would drastically change her sound. At the end of 2016, critics scandalously omitted the album from their top-fifty (it was my favourite of the year) and many artists, wanting more commercial attention, would shift and compromise who they are to get ahead. The cover art/photos for Mice suggests a more mature, edgy and alluring artist – the cover sees Marten’s back, drops of water and goosebumps showing; her hair flowing and a sense of intrigue in the mind. Another promotional photo sees her in water, hair wet and a rather sullen look on her face. Those images are, at once, quite sensual, mysterious and grown-up. Consider the songwriter who adorned the cover of Writing of Blues and Yellows. It is a painting of Marten and shows her long hair showing, a focused look on her face and a sense of calm and beauty are evident. Match that against the new images and would we see a songwriter attacking Pop, Electro or a harder edge of Folk?! My heart was in my mouth – as her sound is perfect as it is – and, within the first few notes of Mice, it seemed like business as usual!

The two years since her debut album and now have seen Marten tour and play festivals. She has been writing and spending time taking stock; having a bit of a breather and studying. I am not sure whether the nineteen-year-old is balancing university with music but it seems, aside from a slightly different look in a couple of shots, she is the same woman we fell for back in 2016. Her Twitter account is filled with the same charming, kooky and humorous posts she beguiled us with back then – recent tweets include her snapping a rainbow and appearing standing by a tent at a festival with her thumb aloft. Her Instagram feed has the same photos and moments we’re used to. From snaps at her relatives or Marten hanging out and playing guitar; the multi-talented artist has not cut her hair, slapped on make-up and decided to reinvent herself as a mainstream Popstar-in-waiting. Pleasingly, it is her grounded and unique contours (not many teenage artists are so relatable and interesting) that go into her latest single. Writing of Blues and Yellows was released two years ago this month (23rd) and it seems like autumn is a season that suits Marten. That album had a crisp and autumnal feel; some slightly wintery and Christmas-ready songs in there – no surprise she would release her new material during the autumn. Although the sound and instant reaction are pleasingly familiar; there are changes and slight modifications. Writing of Blues and Yellows (aside from the song, Green) had fairly little percussion and, when it did appear, there was a sense of nimbleness and spring. Here, the percussion is more straight-forward and, in fact, sort of plays out of time with the guitar. The electric guitar has wooziness to it that suggests something a little confused, dizzy and in search of sanctuary...

It is a fascinating blend that marries the best electric moments of her debut album (Emily seems like the obvious example) and that reliable and spellbinding beauty that was rampant throughout the record. The guitar and percussion never stride too heavily and steal too much focus: they support the heroine as she talks about living her life all wrong; it seems that, lately, she is making unwise choices. Thematically, there is the same introspection and anxiety we found on Teeth and Lionhearted (from Writing of Blues and Yellows); the watery promotional image, in fact, makes me think of the doomed and submerged figure that was sung about in Bird. Before the first verse has been completed, Marten is mixing the old with the new. The production is beautifully clear and concise to allow the voice to shine up-front and sing loud (it is wonderfully clear; like her lips are right by the microphone) and you get caught in that odd wave of thudded and sparse percussion and twirling, staggering (in a physical way) guitar. Marten’s defining traits – her immaculate voice and deep, emotional lyrics – define Mice. If her single, Live, suggested a young woman ready to explore the world and see cities like Berlin; it seems, after returning and drinking in foreign waters, she is tasting the cold rain of England. Marten wrote Mice (or parts of it) during a miserable day in Cornwall (I wonder whether that is because of the weather or her mood at the time?) and recorded it in London with long-time collaborator, Rich Cooper. The songwriter felt, prior to writing it, she lacked purpose and felt empty. The lethargic and slumbered drums are the definition and embodiment of Marten’s weary shoulders and lacking smile. Maybe she has experienced bad relationships or struggled to find her place and feel connected with those around her. Whilst one sympathises with the heroine and forgives a musical frown (her debut album mixed anxiety and self-assessment with breezy and lighter songs like Hello Sunshine). Even when she is unpacking a clouded psyche and sense of alienation, it is the tenderness and crystal-clear elegance of her voice that buckles the knees.

The way she can elicit a sensual breath or hold a pure note to the heavens; go down to a more sullen key and then bring it back into poetic, balletic territory – if her personal life has been muddled and bad the last year, she has not lost her skillset and unique abilities! Marten’s smile is on the backseat and wall; she has separated the ones she loves and hates – she has said she saw people in black-and-white and was the anomaly in the middle – and is experiencing some spiritual depression. It is understandable for a successful teenage artist to feel uprooted and changed compared to the person who started to record the songs for Writing of Blues and Yellows. She has been exposed to big crowds and attention and had the task of following an album up that gained big critical respect. You can tell Marten is assessing a struggling time – one can imagine her sitting in the rain and having these lines going through her head – but knows there are positives to be found. “I can do…”, things that, as she attests “no human can do” and, whilst that is followed by confessions of a doubtful personality (judging herself and others) I get the sense the heroine realises her gifts and the fact she is a wonderful person. It is natural to doubt those around you, even often, and the songwriter seems to be too harsh on herself. If songs on her debut album, such as Heavy Weather and Hello Sunshine, brought you into the weather and exposed you to the elements; here, there is much more intimacy and closeness. You get the sense Marten is not outside but cloistered and contained in a safe space; maybe sitting in her room and watching nature go by. The title, Mice, is never really explained and that mysterious, oblique nature allows the listener to conspire. Does Marten see herself as a diminutive and vulnerable creature, susceptible to screams, fear and someone whacking her with a cricket bat?! Is she this fragile and lovable soul that is misunderstood or struggles to be heard? Is the title a reference to Three Blind Mice and an update to that rhyme? I feel like stature and vulnerability are at heart and, when looking at promotional photos of her in water and shivering, you know she is exposing her soul and bare bones.

The most affecting lyric in the song are the words “I’m tired”. Those words are delivered breathily and with a genuine sense of fatigue. The words hold and then fall; they seem to float and hold much more than two syllables – the heroine is trying to find her place and be happy but keeps making wrong steps and this is taking its toll on her body. Whilst there is a slew of younger female singer-songwriters who can wield a guitar and sing from the heart; there is nobody that comes close to what Billie Marten can do. For my money, her voice is richer and more beautiful than any out there. Her lyrics, not as poetic on Mice as, say, La Lune (the opening track from her debut album), are very direct and urgent. The Billie Marten who shed musical tears on Teeth is still looking for a hug and answers that will set her free. Coming back with a single that is more lyrically straight and direct is a good move. You can understand and empathise where she is coming from but there are still expressions that make me wonder. I am curious whether a breakup has changed her worldview or she is struggling to bond and understand her friends and family. Maybe success and critical pressure is creating a weight on her back or, simply, she is a young woman who is not quite where she wants to be right now. I imagine Marten as someone who could reside in a Parisian apartment with flowers by the window, paintings adorned throughout and a rather quaint yet historic-looking décor (a mixture of literature, bohemian touches and musical accoutrement). The teenager who wrote lines on a dead man’s bench in Cornwall, I feel, pines for European sun and art; an exploration and a sense of freedom. Elongating words and holding lines creates this gorgeous and spiritual thing. Pure emotion and naked confession are wrung from every line. Marten, as I glean from interviews and what I know of her, seems happiest when settled writing or with a book; some great John Martyn or Jeff Buckley vinyl close at hand and that sense that she is in her natural environment.

If some things have not changed since 2016, it is clear Marten herself has encountered transformation and new challenges. Mice might be a red herring in regards to her new album – we have no release date or title but Marten says it is ready and finished – but I feel we will get the same blend we saw in Writing of Blues and Yellows. Expect a woman wrestling with personal doubts and looking to find romance, happiness and new lands. There will be, I assume, songs about her mind and personal life; tales of ill-fated heroines and optimistic cuts that find her eyes open and her heart beating fast. I am not 100% sure but I am excited to see what comes next from her. If many end-of-year-pollsters failed to recognise the nuance and stunning variety of her debut album, I hope Marten realises it is a perfect thing that needs no abandonment, cosmetics and doubt. I feel the electric guitar will play more of a part (it showed itself on her debut but there was a lot of acoustic guitar and piano) and she is documenting a different period of her life. Mice finds her one album down and an artist who has seen the world; wondering what comes next and whether she is as open and kind as she should be. Billie Marten is that complex mix of ambitious and homebound. She loves the nature and quiet of Yorkshire but she yearns for travel and foreign lands; the chance to find fresh buzz, culture and people. She, in many ways, is like me: there is that hot ambition but, no matter what you do and how much you progress, there is always that feeling you can do better or are struggling. I can understand her viewpoint on Mice but there are countless hearts that love her and numerous arms willing to snuggle her close. I cannot get that image of Billie Marten sitting on a dead man’s bench (I wonder who he was?!) writing the last verse to the song. Like Eleanor Rigby in The Beatles’ famous song; you have the loneliness of a graveyard that comes to mind and the rain falling down; a tragic figure that does not have a face but, with very few words, you can picture them. Maybe Billie Marten’s Revolver is a few years away but, right now, she is proving there is nobody quite like her! Mice is a song you listen to time and time again. Oddly, it has a Christmas, snowy vibe to it. You can imagine the heroine walking in the cold or sitting by a fireside; looking out of the window and contemplating what comes next. The artist we were seduced by in 2016 has not left us and, in those two years, she has picked up new directions and her voice seems to be even stronger (if that is possible?!). Mice is a portrait of a woman who fears losing those who she loves and misunderstanding people in a destructive way. Alas, young poet..we understand you and know where you are coming from. We all love what you do and who you are – her Instagram posts and odd tweets make me smile – and there is never any chance, when you put out such wondrous music…

YOU will ever be unappreciated and alone!

___________

Follow Billie Marten

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TRACK REVIEW: Creature - Something More

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Creature

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 Something More

 

9.5/10

 

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The track, Something More, is available via:

https://wearecreature.bandcamp.com/track/something-more

GENRE:

Grunge

ORIGIN:

Newcastle, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

27th August, 2018

_________

WHEN thinking about Creature

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it seems their name is very apt! I will come to the topic of Grunge and grittier sounds in music but, before then, I am compelled to investigate bands whose live shows have mess, scramble and memorability; bands and the artists they take influence from; creating a unique sound; the music coming from Newcastle and the North East – I will look at Creature and where they might head. I am getting excited about bands again because, at the moment, there seems to be a revival (of sorts). I mentioned this when reviewing yesterday and it seems, in the North, this is especially true. Maybe bands have always been hot there but here, in the South, it is the solo artist that is ruling. I am not sure why there is this charge and revival but, in many ways, some of the artists of the mainstream, like IDLES, show a band are capable of delivering something meaningful and deep whilst being exciting. In the case of Creature; they have a great dynamic and sound that serves them very well. Their live shows have been celebrated for having so much energy, physicality and endeavour. They are tight-knit and professional but there is that electric spirit that runs through their bones which means you can never know what will happen. I see a few live artists but, to my mind, the most memorable gigs are ones where the sweat is dripping and the crowd are jumping. There is nothing like being part of a crowd that is surrendering to that moment; enraptured and caught by a white-hot flame of energy and music. If anything, the band are more interesting and exciting live than most acts working today. They have picked up great reviews and are a hugely popular act in the North East.

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I will talk about music from that area of the country but, before moving on to something new, it is worth sticking with the subject of the live act. Most of us tend to listen to music from our laptops or phones and we do not often get to gigs. We are getting out less and less and it is a shame we are all too busy or tired to get out in the evening. A lot of us still get to gigs but I think more of us should make time to go and see an artist and blow away the cobwebs. That is what Creature do: their shows get into the blood and they can deliver a catchy and emphatic set that is a pretty good night out. I wonder whether they will come to areas like London and bring their music here. Right now, they have a great local following and it seems like they are in productive mood. I feel a lot of us do not go to gigs because we assume it will not be as good as on the record or it will be too expensive. There are venues that are expensive and it can be a pricey night out but, more and more, it is becoming possible to go and see gigs. Most venues do not charge that much to get through the door and, so long as you keep the beers to a minimum, it will not break the bank! The reason artists are allowed to exist and thrive is because of gigs and the support they get there. We know there is not a lot of money to be made from releasing music so it seems, more and more, the money comes from merchandise and gigs. Artists like Creature need people to come out and see them – one of the reasons they provide a stonking and sharp set. I know they will continue to play this year and are setting their sights on a productive and busy 2019.

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Yesterday, I spoke about bands and how they are starting to claim back credit. I am going into this more later today but one of the reasons why bands are making a bit of a comeback is because decades like the 1990s are coming back to the fore. I feel more artists, solo at least, are borrowing from the 1980s but it seems the 1990s is striking a chord right now. Maybe it is the unity and togetherness the popular bands provided; the sheer quality that was coming out and the way we all felt back then. Popular culture was a lot more exciting and inspiring and I feel like music was in a much better state. Maybe I am being wrapped in nostalgia but I am excited there seems to be a nod to the 1990s and bands are integrating sounds from that time. Creature’s live sound has been compared to groups of the decade such as Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins. You get a gnarly and explosive set but it is the sophistication of the sounds that stand out. Creature do not simply turn the amps up and aimlessly slam. They have a great set of songs in their pocket that provides a fantastic show. It is always interesting seeing where artists take their influence and what goes into their fold. I have mentioned a couple of bands but, alongside them, there are godfathers of Grunge and Rock acts such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Creature are influenced by Neil Young & Crazy Horse and modern acts like PUP. They have quite a nice mixture of influences that drive what they do but that is not to say they take too heavily from them. I am always compelled by the artists others are inspired by and how they approach their own music. You definitely get a sense of the heavy and raw with Creature but there is definite intelligence and emotional diversity.

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You can tell they grew up around some heavyweights and were exposed to brilliant artists as children. You look at their influences and more and more of them are from the past. I wonder whether there are enough solid bands/artists in today’s music to really captivate and intrigue newcomers. Maybe the likes of Royal Blood and Foo Fighters (although they started life a long time ago) are still worthy but the new breed are a few years off from truly igniting upcoming musicians. We have some great bands coming through but still, more and more, artists are looking further back and following what they grew up on. Maybe that has the way it’s always been but it is interesting to note. I have said bands are starting to swing back but it might be a little time yet before they are as prominent as they were back in the 1990s. I wonder whether that is a reason why bands are less popular than they were. Because solo artists are taking more attention and focus, it is harder for modern bands to get heard and, because of that, other bands are taking inspiration from further back. This sound all negative and doomed but I am pleased artists like Creature are poking through strong and determined to be a success. The more and more we uncover and promote these bands, the stronger and more varied the scene becomes. I am seeing a lot of great groups showcase their material and there are many possible stars of the future. Creature set in their own niche but I feel, the more exposure and gigs they get, the more they will craft their own sound. I will talk about their unique edge but they will start to create more of a personality when more material comes. Being compared to other acts is great but those who remain and continue to evolve are those who break away from influences and go their own way.

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It is hard to be unique in music and, in fact, there are very few that can claim to be associated with that word. Maybe artists have a little bit of individual character here and there but how many artists can you name that are impossible to compare with anyone else?! I feel there might be a few and, although it is not the most important thing, it is always impressive finding someone who is in their own league. I think Creature have a lot of original intent and movements and, in years to come, they will be associated with the word ‘unique’. Most bands starting out will look at the artists they grew up around and, naturally, that is going to define what they do and how they sound. Whilst there are some obvious influences when you hear Creature on the record and live; I feel they are already showing signs they want to detach from the legends they love and do their own thing. There is a lot to suggest they will be a nationwide force soon enough and the way to do that is to have those influences with them but be defined by their own minds. Their new single, Something More, puts you in a familiar space but there is something unusual and unexpected about the song. It is a complex and hard thing, I guess. I love to discover artists that I can bond with straight away and have some familiar notes. You can get on board with their music quicker and that nostalgia value is great. You also get to discover artists they are influenced by and check out their music – seeing where that band/artist comes from and what goes into making their sound. How easy is it, in 2018, to be unique and not be compared with anyone? I feel like it is unwise to be too out-there and on your own plain because that will alienate people and can be a huge gamble. Artists that have a balance of original thought and familiar influence are what we need to hear.

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At the moment, Creature have a dizzying array of influences and favourite sounds and that leads to deep and colourful music. I feel future gigs and records will see some of that stripped away and a more focused and linear sound emerge. They have already proven themselves to be a tantalising and superb live act and, on their recordings, something new presents itself. I like how they can possess these different auras and not feel confused and contradictory. I will move on from this subject because I am keen to return to the North and what is coming from there. Yesterday, I looked at a band from Yorkshire and was determined to convey all the great music and sounds coming from there. I feel Yorkshire is a fantastic county that does not get the credit it deserves and has so many wonderful artists working there. The North East has always been in my mind and, historically, it has always been relevant. Maybe we pay more attention to the North West and areas like Manchester but we cannot ignore Newcastle. Current North East artists like Nadine Shah are in the minds of the mainstream and there is a distinct difference between artists from London and places like Newcastle. Maybe acts in the capital get more attention and there is great variation but, to me, Newcastle artists have more personality and flair. You get something spunkier and more personable; a better brew that lasts in the mind longer. Creature are starting to come into their own and, with each movement, pressing their own sound and forging their own direction. The trio are making waves and getting that great local press. I am interested to see how they progress but I wonder whether they will remain in the North East.

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Newcastle and Sunderland have great venues are becoming more gentrified. That is not to say the authenticity is being taken away and the cities are losing what makes them great. Venues are surviving and more money is being injected into the areas; licks of paint are being applied here and there and, whilst not as gentrified and expensive as some areas of London; the North East is becoming a more attractive and profitable and local artists are remaining there. I wonder whether the media will spend adequate time seeking out artists from there and bringing them into the light. The likes of Creature are doing great things and getting buzz but it will take more national focus in order for them to get where they deserve. I still feel there are very few eyes straying to the North East and that has to change very soon. I know Creature will be a success very soon and they are growing stronger by the year. I am watching where they go and what they have in mind. Whilst I think they need to remain where they are and continue to seduce the local audiences; their tour plans will need to include cities like London and Manchester. It can be expensive getting out there and getting gigs but I know they have music that will be taken to heart by punters there. They are among the most interesting and promising new bands around and that needs to be rewarded. Perhaps all that is to come next year and I am sure the guys have plans to spread their wings and get out there. I have covered a lot of ground and spoken about various things and I think there is a lot of life in Creature. Their sounds rumble and get into the brain; they have emotional sophistication and intelligent lyrics that mark them above the rather basic and aimless bands. I will move on to their new song, Something More.

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One gets little chance for breath and reflecting when Something More chugs away. Like a Grunge-Devil locomotive leaving the station with a fire burning in the back and steam billowing; the guitars churn and the percussion rifles. It is a bold and exhilarating opening that gets the blood running and make you wonder what is coming next. There are slight hints of Royal Blood in the guitar and Nirvana in the vocals but neither is too obvious – that combination works well and it provides a great blend of emotions and sounds. There is talk of evil love and it being wrong; the hero is looking for something different and it seems like a rather tense time is unfolding. I was instantly thinking about love going wrong and a painful split: the possibility of movement and improvement are at the back of the mind. If some of the vocals get buried beneath the composition and there are some intelligibility issues at times – path of the course for a Grunge band and that intensity – it is not a big factor. You get a really authentic blast of 1990s Grunge but it is modernised and bespoke to the tastes of Creature. They have ingested great bands and take a little of each on board. The tightness of their performances and the explosion of the composition get straight into the brain. The guitars weave and bite like vipers whilst the bass and percussion drive the song forward and create an avalanche. Something More is a song that wastes no time in getting under the skin and make you feel alive. I was picturing the hero being annoyed by a lover or feeling like they are taking too much from him. A need for something different and more substantial is on his mind. It seems like the lead has been looking for a reason to stay and looking deep inside his sweetheart. Maybe things are not over and it has been a hard road to realisation.

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There have been problems and setbacks but our man has staying put and discovering something new. I love how the band manages to fuse gritty and fuzzy notes together with a more polished production. You have a professional shine – that does not take away from the music – but some real dirt that works its way through. The more the song goes on, my mind starts to look at this relationship and how things are progressing. It would be easy to walk away from something that is not perfect but that desire for something more keeps the hero pining and searching. With huge vocals and soaring words; combine that with chugging and rampant strings; throw in some meaty beats and a general feeling of dark smoke and you have a song that keeps on biting and seducing. It looks like the hero wants things to work and they are going to make it. Whether wanting something more involves greater physicality or trust, I am not sure. Maybe there is greater complexity at the heart of the relationship. You definitely get hints of the 1990s and early-2000s in the vocal and song. Bits of Linkin Park mix in with the influences Creature name. It is a great sound that comes together and, although there are some influences working away, the trio manages to create something that is true to them and new. Certainty, in 2018, there are not many bands in the mainstream that have such a dramatic and impressive sound that offers more than easy riffs and vague lyrics. You get a sense of wisdom and maturity in the words and the band has taken the trouble to craft a composition that has nuance and depth. There is definite sexiness and sweat to be found in the lyrics. The hero wants to fill the space inside the girl – nobody does it like her – and he wants to feel more connected. You feel there is palpable electricity and lust working away but there is enough emotional maturity to ensure the song does not get too smutty.

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The more it continues and the more you get involved; the more beauty and pleasure come to the fore. Creature throw in great little diversions and ensure the song is never predictable. It changes direction and attacks; it stops for a second and throws in some backing vocals. By the end of the song, your head is all over the place and it has been an exhilarating ride. I went back and listened to the song and got something new on that occasion. Something More reveals new skin and insight the more you listen and that is a mark of a great band. With great lyrics that are easy to understand but offer mystery and interpretation; a composition that takes the body and heart and does something strange with them – it is a fantastic cocktail that gets into every pore and does something fantastic. It is wonderful hearing the song come together and alive. I can only imagine what it sounds like on the stage and can imagine it is not as clean as it is on the record. The band have the option of being professional and disciplined musicians who can write brilliant songs but can strip them apart and open them up on the stage. It will be wonderful to see them play and I hope I get to see them play Something More if they come down to London. Whatever the truth behind the song is; I have been getting to grips with it and discovering a fantastic new band in the process. If you are not aware of the wonders of Creature and what they do then ensure you follow them closely and see where they head next. They are already proving they have the muscle and talent to go a very long way in the industry – I know they will continue to improve and grow as we go into 2019. An exciting and brilliant time for a fantastic northern band!

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There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Creature. Listen to their single and, if you can, get involved with their live shows and go see them. Check out their social media channels and follow where they head next. They have local gigs coming and, at the moment, they are promoting Something More. Many journalists have expressed their support and love for them and it seems they are hitting their stride. I wonder whether there will be more material coming next year and what the trio have in mind. I feel, based on their latest release, there is a lot of energy and inspiration in the camp. It is clear the band want to go far and have that great mix of older bands and modern influence. I have asked whether it is possible to be unique in this age and what the right balance is. You can hear everyone from Nirvana and Neil Young is the work of Creature and that mixes with the trio’s unique blends. Put that together and you get an intense and busy style of music that will appeal to a variety of tastes and ages. Let’s look ahead and see where Creature will go. I would like to see them get down to London and try and get some gigs in other areas of the nation. I think their sound travels well and they could find success at some bigger venues down here. The reviews for their live sets mark them as ones to watch and I feel that is something they should be proud of. With many people resisting the temptation to get out to gigs and spend money at venues; I feel the likes of Creature have an important role to play. I have not seen them perform but I would definitely be interested if they came down to the South. Listening to what they are producing now and you feel Creature will keep on making music and growing.

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The connection and chemistry they have is what shines and sparks. I did not mention it further up when looking at what they do but you can hear how close they are. I can hear a lot of bands where you know the balance is off and they are not on the same page. Look at what Creature are throwing out and they definitely have a closeness and kinship that makes their music so solid. Make sure you check out the band and follow their movements. It has been a busy and productive year for them and I know next year will be even bigger. If anything, I hope more people cast their eyes to the North and take a greater interest in artists up here. There is nothing to suggest the area will remain dormant in the critical mindset and we will hook onto London. The more great acts coming from there the easier it will be for the national media to break away from the obvious and show a bit more boldness. In order for music to be diverse and all-inclusive; we all need to get out of our comfort zones and search other areas of the country. I know Newcastle and the North East have always been relevant and active but, with the media being largely based out of London, it is harder for artists in the North to get their due. Creature do not have to move location and compromise who they are in order to get ahead quicker. They have a great live sound and sound gilded and solid when in the studio. As bands come more to the fore and there is this change happening; it is the time for the likes of Creature to rise and bite. The intrepid trio has crafted a brilliant song in Something More and it hints at a very bright future. Get behind the guys and give them your support because, in a tough and busy music scene, they are a shining light. It may be a while before they hit the bigger leagues and get mainstream attention but, if they carry on like they are, they will make that transition…

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WITHOUT many problems.

___________

Follow Creature

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TRACK REVIEW: Sandra’s Wedding - Run, Rabbit, Run

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Sandra’s Wedding

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 Run, Rabbit, Run

 

9.3/10

 

The track, Run, Rabbit, Run, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/sandraswedding/run-rabbit-run

GENRES:

Alternative-Rock; Folk

ORIGIN:

Goole, Yorkshire

The E.P., Good Morning, Bad Blood, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/sandraswedding/sets/good-morning-bad-blood

 RELEASE DATE:

17th August, 2018

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BEFORE getting down to looking at…

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Sandra’s Wedding and what they are all about; I wanted to look at a few different topics that are relevant to them. For a start, I will have a peek at Yorkshire and why the county continues to produce good music; songs that reflect real life and have an authenticity to them; songs collections that have range and emotional variation; whether bands can assume a mantle of control and get back to the top of the musical tree – I will talk about Sandra’s Wedding and what comes next for them. I have not been to Yorkshire for a while and have spent a lot of time investigating music from London. Now, back to Yorkshire, I get a chance to focus on a county that continues to pump out great music and show its originality. One of my favourite Yorkshire-based artists, Billie Marten, releases her first new music this Sunday – it is exciting to see her back and where she is now in her career. One of the reasons why I love Yorkshire is the sheer variation and diversity of sounds. London has a lot of great artists but there is something unpressured and free about Yorkshire. There are fewer commercial acts and you have musicians that seem a lot more relaxed and inventive. Sandra’s Wedding are a fantastic band that have been playing for a while and define what Yorkshire is all about. Their songwriting and sounds have a classic edge but are very much based in the here and now. What gets to me is how they create such seamless and interesting music that is not like anything out there. I will not go and say it is unique and never been heard before – that is impossible in modern music – but you can sense their personalities and surroundings through the music. Maybe that is a symptom of how they want their music to resonate but I feel it is a characteristic of Yorkshire and what it is all about.

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One can move between counties and parts of the country and gain a distinct flavour. Maybe the bigger cities have an urgency and distinct tone but Yorkshire seems to be on a different plain. I have never been there myself but can only imagine how the warm people and stunning geography impacts what comes from the artists. Many move to larger cities to get money and attention but there are more and more artists remaining put and unwilling to shift. That is impressive in a time when music is becoming more directed towards the capital. Another thing that shines in Yorkshire is the way the music is made. The artists here seem to have less concern about charts and commercial gain and want to produce something that stands the test of time. The bands coming from the country have a special edge; the solo artists extra-cool and original – so much to recommend about the music coming from there and where it will go. I have a lot of faith in the county and feel we should all look at Yorkshire in regards where the future sounds are coming. Maybe it will take a bit of time for Yorkshire to get its credit but it will come. Sandra’s Wedding are a great band who present a vivid and emotive brand of music that has plenty of guts and passion. Look around them and there are not really any bands that have the same blends. There are a lot of talented musicians but, in terms of their band competition; I have yet to discover another example of what Sandra’s Wedding are all about. I wanted to look at them and their latest music because it gets into the heart and leaves its memories. I feel we all need to move beyond the big cities and realise there is a lot of life and variation in other parts of the U.K. Music is a broad and fascinating market and, unless we get to grips with as much as possible out there, I do not feel we are going to be truly fulfilled.

Good Morning, Bad Blood is the new E.P. from Sandra’s Wedding and that follows from their album, Northern Powerhouse, in February 2017. That album gained a lot of praise and saw the band compared to the likes of The Smiths and The Beautiful South. That may seem like an odd northern clash – because both bands have different lyrical styles – but it seems right to me. Both of those bands were less concerned with obvious themes and stories and took from their own lives. The witty, acerbic and honest songs have survived through the decades and are known to most of us. Rather than follow the more commercial, stadium artists; Sandra’s Wedding have followed in those big footsteps and write what is true. One of this year’s biggest albums, Joy as an Act of Resistance, has seen IDLES catapulted into the public mindset. They gained a lot of love after their 2017 debut but now, on their follow-up, they have hit new peaks and gained exceptional reviews. Maybe you can ascribe that to the music but it is the lyrics and honesty that comes from the words that have made the biggest impact. The band are not penning easy songs and stuff that is radio-friendly and uncomplicated. The guys challenge perceptions and misconceptions and have brought us one of the best albums of the last few years. Not that Sandra’s Wedding are providing the same sort of music as IDLES. The reason I bring the bands together is that of the shared honesty and reality that emanates from their music. I often wonder, when listening to modern music, how many of the artists out there are writing about what is real to them and something meaningful. You see a lot of popular artists with teams behind them and you get to thinking whether they are pulling the strings or the artist needs those bodies to bring their own visions to life.

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Have a look at the most enduring and popular artists from music and it is their voice that shines through. They have a sense of what they want to create and produce inspiring, truthful music. I am not suggesting most artists in the mainstream are fake but there is a lot of calculation and marketing that goes into what they say. There is nothing more important in music that originality and authenticity. If an artist is hiding or getting others to say something for them, I feel that takes something away and comes across as rather cold. I want artists I can connect with and feel like they understand me. Sandra’s Wedding have gained a foothold in the industry because they write from the heart and soul and want to connect with the listener on a deeper level. The guys reflect what is happening in working-class towns of the North and what is happening around them. Many modern artists are still detached from the social and economic problems around them and talk about love and what is happening in their lives. It is good to find artists who want to open their hearts but, in these troubled times; there is something cathartic and pleasing discovering musicians talking about what is happening in the wider world. A lot of us are unaware of the strains and imbalances happening in the North. The economic climate there is troubling and many people are fighting for survival. The sepia-tinged songs have wormed their way into the hearts of many and you get that purity – a band that is not willing to sell out and write about something meaningless. I am ore drawn, now, to artists who pen tracks that look at the modern world and try to make sense of it all. With Sandra’s Wedding; you have wit and humour running through the marrow of what they do. It is never too heavy and bleak, nor is it too whimsical and light-hearted. The way they balance tones and emotions is really impressive.

Good Morning, Bad Blood is a great E.P. packed with great tunes, plenty of personality and warmth. Critics love the work they have already put out and the new E.P. is getting credit and positivity. Inspired by the likes of Pulp and The Beautiful South, the band want to document what life is really like where they are and how there are cracks running through the nation. In a way, their current E.P. could be brought to Parliament to show the realities and complexities in the North. Many of us do not know what is happening in other parts of the country and we have to rely on what the news tells us. In many ways, music is a great source of information and undistorted reality. We can get a real sense of how life is for northern artists or those in other parts of the world. Not only do songs like Run, Rabbit, Run have energy and spring but there are intriguing lyrics and nuances. I am drawn to the while E.P. but wanted to highlight that song as being particularly strong. They could have created an E.P. that was all hard-edged and Alternative or they could have gone all Folk/Pop – something softer and yearning. Whilst there are not the same Pop and Indie tones of The Beautiful South and The Smiths in the music; you get a similar lyrical feel and sense of purpose. The band want the public to feel uplifted and brightened by their music but are not willing to compromise their ethics and what they believe in. The reality and observations that went into their album are present on the E.P. If anything, they have gotten stronger and incorporated new elements into their music. The sonic blends and textures that run through the songs is what gets to me. One is immersed in a very special world and, when listening to the songs, you vividly project images and walk alongside the band. It is more potent, reliable and informative than any news report or conversation.

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I will move on to another theme soon but, right now, I wanted to look at bands and how they have been a bit quiet lately. I mentioned IDLES and how they are succeeding but I wonder whether we are seeing a true resurgence. It is good to see more band focus come through and it has been a long time coming. The solo artist still rules the roost and they are taking a lot more of the focus. Bands used to be the most sought-after commodity until fairly recently and I feel there has been a turn towards solo artists and what they have to say. You can interpret that shift however you like but, to me, it is because of the honesty that comes from them. Maybe they have more variation and fewer restrictions than bands but it is how they can emote and create something personal that strikes me. Bands have multiple members and it can be difficult writing something that has the same power and soulful revelation as a solo artist. The solo artist can more easily write from the heart and project something uncluttered and emotive. Bands, by and large, are more raw and energised and it can be more difficult getting into the soul of the listener. Sandra’s Wedding do not go for the gut and wash songs with big chords and fat choruses. Maybe they are not destined for stadiums and bigger gigs but, at the same time, they have a much more impressive and stirring brand of music. It is hard for bands to be quieter and write something heartfelt but Sandra’s Wedding want people to know about the realities of where they live and what life is like for them. They could have gone for the easier avenues of life and love and penned something very commercial. Gambling a little; they are bringing out much more potent and personal sounds that will stand the test of time. That might sound like a big claim but I feel artists who are writing about modern life and problems out there will endure.

I do wonder how long before bands get back in control and whether they can regain the acclaim they had years ago. The fact Sandra’s Wedding are inspired by Britpop favourites like Pulp leads me to believe they are heading in the right direction. There is a big demand for 1990s music now and it seems like the decade is coming back in. Perhaps it is the dislocating nation and the fact our Government is shambolic. We want to return to a time when things were a bit more secure and there was hope in the air. I am not suggesting things were great and perfect back then but there was a unity and a time when bands were at the forefront and ruling. There was this hope things were changing and we were heading in a better direction. Things are different now and I am not sure where the nation is headed. I feel we are all in a worse state than years ago and there is uncertainty in the air.  Look back at the 1990s and when bands like Oasis and Blur were top of the tree. Perhaps that is why there is this new interest in the decade: people looking at fonder times and a time when bands were truly popular. I feel like that transformation and reverse will happen but, as the artists of the 1990s showed, we need to hear a lot more real-life and relevant music come through. If they are all writing about personal concerns or something vague then that is not going to bring us together. The secret to band success, as Sandra’s Wedding show, is writing about modern Britain and how things are. Maybe it is not as celebratory and positive as the 1990s but there is an appetite for an undistorted and true social-political view of the nation – especially how there is a North-South divide. The guys do write about love and splits but that is all part of the blend – the same way Arctic Monkeys did when they started out (and still do).

It is interesting to bring that band in because they are still going strong but have changed direction. They are older than once they were so they might not be able to write about chips, fights and loose characters in the same way they did back then – it would lack a sense of reality and conviction. There is a great gap for bands to fill that hole – the lyrical one; nothing smutty! – and document how things really are out on the streets. I am seeing bands emerge that are doing that and, before long, the tide will shift. Maybe that has been a long time coming but the pressure needs to remain. I will move on but I feel like Sandra’s Wedding have a long future ahead. Perhaps it will take a while before they get to the bigger leagues and can get the same attention as the biggest bands around. The band can go far and I feel they are primed for something good. Their live shows are celebrated but it is the music they make in the studio that gets into the blood. You listen to their music and it hits you and stays in the mind. There are very few modern artists who can represent something political, social and real and make you sing along. That humour and candidness mix well and you feel like the band want to bring you into their world. I am excited to see their stock rise and know they will go far. I have been following the music of Yorkshire for a long time and can attest to how varied and consistent it is. Music is always shifting and changing and I wonder how it will transform in the next couple of years. Given the state of the nation and tension out there; I feel there is a new place for bands and a bigger role. Whether the big guns can step up and lead the charge has yet to be seen. I am hopeful we will fall back in love with bands and, whilst we will not see another Britpop movement; perhaps there will be a pronounced and sustained wave that will help effect political change.

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Whereas songs like Titanic and Saturday Night Television are gentler and more emotive in their tones; I wanted to look at Run, Rabbit, Run because it seems like the black sheep of the family. It closes the E.P. but, rather than throw aimless riffs and big drums into the blend; the boys get things started with a spicy and flavoursome lick that mutates into a festival feel. You get a trumpet sound and, oddly, there is a slight mariachi feel to things! They do not crack out the sombreros, donkeys and pistols and go completely nuts but there is an eccentric and humorous musical edge that makes you smile. The opening phases of the song sound like something from a Quentin Tarantino film – there are shades of Pulp Fiction in there. Elmer Fudd and tasting blood are not sentiments and visions you would see put together but, backed by that rushing horn sound; we are treated to some rather vivid and exciting images. The hero – sounding like a blend of Paul Heaton and Morrissey – is reading the daily news and seeing someone’s face on there. Maybe it is a maligned figure or someone in the public eye. Right away, I am interested and hooked into the song. The song dispenses with the horns soon enough and the band create a rousing, racing and spirited composition that gets you moving and propels the song. I wonder whether the track is about accusing and driving a hated figure into the open. The chorus is delivered with intent and emotion but there are lighter tones to be found. The frontman speaks of the English sun and being out in the atmosphere. I still get the feeling there is an observation of the media culture and political mistrust. Perhaps that is not explicitly revealed in the opening verse but that is where my mind went to.

When the Tarantino-influenced sound comes back in; I get a more bloodied and violent image. Maybe that is a false assumption but it seems like the yearning vocals hide a more spiked and dark intent. You are drawn to the song because of the unexpected sounds and great lead vocal. The band is incredibly tight and the song sounds like it has been worked on a lot in the studio. That does not mean it is polished and overly-rehearsed: there are plenty of raw edges and moments for invention. The second verse looks at someone wanting your way of life and teaching an old dog new tricks. One gets a sense of the oblique which allows some personal interpretation. I still get political senses and maybe the divide between the rich in the South and those in the North. The chorus, in a way, highlights a sense of fear and being chased; the rich and elite chasing the rabbit and less -well-off. It is that chorus burst and rush that makes the biggest mark. The choruses are strong and impressive but the band is masterful when it comes to recording instant and memorable choruses. You find yourself singing along and, even after one spin, the song gets into the head. Before the song is through, we get electric guitar, new elements and a composition that gets hotter and more colourful. Sandra’s Wedding provide a fulsome, eclectic and fascinating brew that brings the song to life. How you view the lyrics and what they mean is up to you. I was thinking about political divides and problems in the country. Maybe there is something more personal and insular being ascribed. In any case, the band has created a wonderful song and a perfect ending to a brilliant E.P. Make sure you listen to each of the four tracks but, to me, the save the best for last. I am curious seeing what comes next and how they follow things up. I have listened to Run, Rabbit, Run a few times and am finding new things every time. Make sure you get involved with the track and keep an eye out for the band on all their social media channels.

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Good Morning, Bad Blood is a great E.P. from Sandra’s Wedding and one I suggest you listen to in full. Produced in Hull by Dan Foster; the guys have upped their games and are showing new sides to their music. We could say their time will come a long time from now but I see they are turning heads and getting acclaim. I like the way there are softer and gentler offerings on the E.P. In fact, Run, Rabbit, Run is the only real full-out stormer that has that Alternative-Rock spirit. The remaining tracks and more reflective and calm but have plenty of teeth. I wonder whether the band will be gigging down South and what they have in mind. There are a lot of fans where they are in Yorkshire and I feel their demand in the North is assured and growing. I would love to see their music spread down this way and get bigger radio time. I am excited about the band and what they represent. I feel we need to look back at artists like The Smiths and Pulp and realise why they were so popular and are to this day! There is a return and renewed interest in the 1990s and I wonder whether this will remain. Sandra’s Wedding are showing their stuff and I feel like they have a lot more material in them. Make sure you check the guys out and, if you can, get to see them on the road. I have been exploring their new E.P. and digesting all its strands and stories. Where they go next is up to them. I feel they could get festivals next year and a lot of radio-play in London; new exposure and the chance to tour a bit more widely. In any case, we have seen how a good and honest band can make its way into the heart and resonate. Their music might take a bit more time to impact than the stadium acts but, once it does hit, it is hard to shift. Their E.P. is titled Good Morning, Bad Blood but, when hearing it, the listener is not troubled and stressed: you are afforded the chance to reflect, imagine and…

FLOAT away.

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Follow Sandra’s Wedding

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TRACK REVIEW: The Oceans - Song to Molly

TRACK REVIEW:

 

The Oceans

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann

Song to Molly

 

9.3/10

 

 

The track, Song to Molly, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/theoceansofficial/song-for-molly

GENRE:

Indie

ORIGIN:

Copenhagen, Denmark

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IMAGE CREDIT: Bobby Mandrup 

EP 1 is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/theoceansofficial/sets/the-oceans-ep-i

 RELEASE DATE:

20th August, 2018

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THIS time around…

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I want to cover a few things that seem to sum up The Oceans. I will look at one of their singles I was keen to highlight but, with EP 1 out; I have been compelled to investigate sides to them that stand out. I will look at Copenhagen and an area of the world that needs more attention; artists and that D.I.Y. ethic that means they do not follow the pack; setting up a record label and being able to release music on your own terms; music that represents the contrasts of a busy and varied city; E.P.s that forms part of a narrative and why the E.P. is favourable to the album; where the Danish band can go from here. I have not had the chance to look at Danish bands and artists and, for the most part, I am stuck in the U.K. with music. That is not a bad thing but it is always good to hop on a plane and go somewhere new. Maybe we think of German music when it comes to Europe but I wonder whether we consider Denmark and the music coming from there. Copenhagen, especially, is a great place for music. There is an eclectic population and artists are free to create as they see fit. Maybe there is not the same depth and opportunity as London but the mood is much more easy-going and the vibe is more chilled. In terms of venues; VEGA, Rust and Loppen show the variation that you can experience. There are the grubbier and earthier venues and the bigger, grander ones. I love the fact there is a great and tight-knit community in Copenhagen and there is that history. The Rumour Said Fire and Iceage are bands who hail from Copenhagen and have helped put the city on the map. Whilst the new generation are breaking through and will come to worldwide attention soon; I am seeing so many great and inventive artists that are worth checking out. The Oceans are vibing from the city and taking in all its colours and characteristics.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Per Joe Hansen 

What strikes me about Danish music is the emotion and nuance you get from it. I have been listening to a lot of U.K. and U.S. music at the moment and, whilst it is good, what I find is it will hit you and some of it might not stick in the mind. Danish sounds, for the most part, are a lot more stirring and detailed. Even when playing Indie music (like The Oceans); you still get something epic, physical and gripping. With the riotous and striking guitars; the scents and sensations you get from every note – I am not sure what it is about Copenhagen but the city seems to breed artists who dig deeper and have a bit more magic about them. The Oceans are releasing vinyl and they are proud to share their new E.P. It is a great work that takes in so many different themes and transports you somewhere wonderful. I am not reviewing the entire E.P. but can tell how much work has been expended. I am looking more to other nations when it comes to musical inspiration. The Danish people are friendly and warm and that seems to reflect in the music. On the other hand; there is something hard to put your finger on. I have listened to Swedish and German music; stuff from Norway and other parts of Europe. Denmark is rising and will, in years to come, compete with the U.K. in terms of influence and talent. I feel the media needs to spend more time away from what is coming from Britain and London and adventure more. Copenhagen has the history and grace; there is a mixed population and, above all, some wonderful music emerging. The Oceans are an example of the sensational and memorable music coming from the Danish capital. Follow what they do and make sure you investigate their new E.P. It is a work they have spent a lot of time crafting and want as many people as possible to hear it.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann

More and more artists are releasing their own work and not relying on labels. I am often curious whether signing with a big label is as advantageous as you’d imagine. There is money and networking chances but how much freedom does an artist have?! You might be dictated to and that label wants to market your music in a very particular way. Artists sign up with impressions of success and having some control over what they do. I would be tempted to sign with a label if I were a musician and see where that took me. So many musicians, mind, are taking another road and producing music themselves. The downside to this tact is the lack of money that will come their way. They have to shoulder everything and finance all their music. They might have a P.R. label helping them out but, by and large, they need to take care of everything. Being D.I.Y. and controlling every facet means the music gets where you need it to go but it might take longer to reach the mainstream. The Oceans are doing things how they want to and have a concept that a record label might squelch. I will explain more when I come to look at their new E.P. but, right now, I want to stay on this theme. A great duo who have a connection and understanding; I feel a record label might divide their ranks and spoil their music. I am not down on labels but I feel there are advantages to going your own way. If you record in your own time and spend more time cultivating the music; it allows more natural expression and personality. You can release when you want and put it out in whatever format you like. The fact the Internet is available and music does not need to be released on physical formats; it makes it easier for artists to get their material out when they like and not have to spend a lot of money doing so.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Per Joe Hansen 

One of the biggest disadvantages of a label deal is the sound of what you produce. The guys of The Oceans have released their first E.P. and it is a more summer-time and upbeat feel. The second one, due next year, will be a more wintery and different-sounding one. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with and how they progress. The concept they have in mind is impressive and I feel the fact it can flourish and resonate is because of the freedom The Oceans has. Labels often have an idea of what they want to do with an artist and how they want to push the music. Maybe they will not say too much regarding sonic direction but they might not be able to market and promote the work. It is crucial artists have their say and some control but they need to compromise to an extent. It can be scary and brave refuting the label and taking a D.I.Y. direction but there is something freeing and liberation. Artists get to push themselves and break new ground; they are not forced into a particular mould and there is that opportunity for creative flexibility. Money is the big object and it can be a struggle having to self-find music. Social media means artists can promote their work widely and directly contact radio stations etc. It is always going to be tough but more rewarding when you know you have done all that work and made music that sounds right to you. I see more and more artists doing this and, whilst it can be expensive, there are downsides that need to be shouldered. Doing the D.I.Y. thing is bold and impressive but there are artists setting up their own labels and taking that extra step. If you can fund your own label and release music through that; you get the benefits of the record label and have more personal control. The Oceans have taken this approach and you can hear how determined they are.

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Stripped Down Records is their venture and it is impressive indeed. There are artists who set their own label up and, by having it, they do not have to fear having their material compromised or taken away. Big names in modern music such as Kate Bush have set their own label up – always regretful when they sign with big labels and are forced to release music when they are told. That is a pressure many musicians have: labels want them to put something out instantly and keep strict timetables. It is a pressurised and tough market out there and labels are keen for their artists to remain busy and not lose ground. I can see where they are coming from and the fact they need to do the best for their artists but many musicians want to release when they want and take their time. Creating a label not only benefits what you do and how the music sounds but you can draw in other artists and set up your own camp. Recruiting others into the fold can give that label a sound and direction and, before long, other artists will be inspired to establish their own labels. Maybe, again, finance comes into it and you cannot set up a label without having a business plan and a knowledge of what you do. Having that business mind and being prepared for slow success – it may take a few releases before success comes – is all part of the process. If you can negate and negotiate that then you might well be prepared for something marvellous. The Oceans have their own product and label and are stirring the imagination. Since their inception in 2014; The Oceans have progressed and evolved. They have always wanted to make music on their own terms and not be held back. That is something we need to see from a lot of artists coming through.

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I can understand the imperative to want the label and have that financial security; the backing and expertise and industry contacts. Maybe signing with a label to start is good but, when you have a fanbase and foundation; you can break away and form your own label. Doing that, you get to capitalise on that success and will have the following/finance to do your own thing. The Oceans have crafted sounds that seems to represent the diversity and dichotomy of the city. Copenhagen is like any other capital city and, whilst there is rush and pollution; history and a certain calm does come through. The Oceans want to reflect this through their music and, with EP 1, they are starting conversations. This warmer and more urgent E.P. looks at various sides of the city and personal experiences. You get the big notes and sounds but there are more refined and controlled expressions. What gets to me is the way the duo takes from the city and pulls it into their music. Rather than projecting a fantasy of a city or let the listener work too hard; you have the music that infuses the senses and gets right into the imagination. I am curious regarding Copenhagen and what is happening there right now. You can never say two cities are alike and, in many ways, music is a way of expressing that difference and unique edge. London is a more packed and populous city but, in terms of Copenhagen, one gets a real sense of the physical and spiritual, oddly, in EP 1. Dan Joe and Linus Valdemar project a sea of noise and chaos and splice that with a calm and degree of tenderness. It might be hard diluting Copenhagen into an E.P. but, for the most part, the general idea of the city is taken in. I have been following the songs on the E.P. and you can hear those compositions connect and inspire.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Bobby Mandrup 

It is hard to explain but, when listening to The Oceans, there is so much going on and a lot to digest. You listen back to the music time and time again and fresh stuff comes to the fore. Their first E.P. – I am not a fan of the title and feel they could have added a bit more to it – is the more light and edgy work whereas their second E.P. – you can guess the title of it! – is going to be, perhaps, more glacial and dark. It is a concept that, let’s hope, may translate into a third work. Previous singles like My Copenhagen Love and You & Me show you what they are creating right now. The major chords and sense of happiness that emerges through the E.P. is indicative of what I associate with nations like Denmark and Sweden. We often think their Pop and Indie scenes are a lot more refreshing and sunny than it is here. The minor chords and winter skin of their EP II is going to be a shift in a new direction and will be interesting to see. Working forward and I feel the Danish duo will produce an album and put more work out into the world. We often associate modern music with singles and E.P.s rather than albums. How often do you see big artists release E.P.s? Maybe that is the label coming in: the need for something fuller and more expansive. Given the fact few of us have the patience to listen to albums and we are cherry-picking songs; how much fuel and sustainability can we get from the album? I maintain the album is precious and worthy but, with streaming services available, we can take songs from records and not have to listen to the whole thing. New and underground musicians do release albums but it can be a more expensive process. E.P.s are a way of bringing music out and not having to wait until they can afford an album.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann

A lot of times; artists have ideas for a few songs and they need to put them into the world pretty quickly. Most mainstream artists will release singles and then, after they have been ingested, they will bring out the album and that will be flogged to death. That is not quite the case when you look at newer artists. They have a different dynamic and the competition is a lot fiercer. The E.P. is that great and accessible way of putting together a few singles but not having to invest in an album or waiting that long. I would like to see more mainstream artists putting out E.P.s into the world. The Oceans have their new E.P. out and they already know what their second one sounds like. You could say they could put out an album that has two distinct sides. The problem with that is we would have to wait until the end of this year and it might be a bit strange having summery and light songs released in the winter. Rather than wait and have a disjointed album; they can split them in half and create a bigger impact. It is a good thing to have (the E.P.) and I always love to see them come through. The Oceans are determined to create a story and narrative when it comes to their E.P.s. Their new one is all light and has that relaxed and spritzing sound whereas, next year, we will get something a little more chilled and cold (in terms of the weather). I know the duo will release an album at some point but they can keep in the mind and ensure they have a consistent stream of music if they put out E.P.s. I am looking forward to seeing where they go and whether they continue the theme of concepts. I always love artists who can put imagination into music and do not stay with the same tired and predictable themes.

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Song to Molly is a beauty that starts with frantic beats and chaos. You get something akin to rushing through the city and darting between cars. Whilst there are no sound effects and beeps; the racing drums and tough pulse gets you in mind of an urgency and need to be with someone. Maybe the hero is running to his girl or there is a chase ensuing. Guitars and a lighter mood come in that fuse with the beats. The soundscape envelopes you and one gets a sensation of sunshine and rain all at once. It is an intoxicating brew that filters through the nostrils and makes you smile. Before a word has been spoken; you have a real sense of what the song is about and its intentions. Luckily, I was sent a lyrics sheet when the guys pitched a review because decipherability is an issue. The sound is gorgeous and big but one of the problems is understanding the words and what is being sung. Maybe that is (because of the) accent and the heat of the music buries a lot of the words but it doesn’t matter too much – you are invested in the song because of the composition and all the other elements. The hero has jumped out of bed and lit a cigarette. He is putting clothes on and there seems to be a memory obsessing his head. Maybe a relationship has broken up and the heroine, Molly, has broken his heart. I have said how the music of The Oceans represents the city and what it is all about. I get a sensation of the traffic outside and someone who is in an apartment in the capital, Copenhagen. There is an oblique quality to the lyrics where you get contrasts and contradictions. The opening words suggest Molly has left and things have taken a tumble. The song goes on and pays tribute to the girl; how things are better and the hero has his girl by his side. You are always drawn to the mood and composition that keeps that energy going and slams around the head.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Per Joe Hansen 

The vocal has a combination of warmth and caution and, whilst there are some missed words, one understands the emotions and intentions coming through. Maybe the opening verse about putting clothing on is after a night of triumph. The rest of the song is more celebratory and open and the hero has his friends around him. His blood is pumping and there is energy in his veins. Whatever your views of the song; you will be captivated by the sheer pulsation and movement of the music. You get carried away and taken where the song goes. You can almost see the hero walking out the door and putting his clothes together. Things are complex in the world and the hero’s head is blurry. He confesses some things are dead inside him and I get the feeling it is not as obvious as you’d imagine. The song suggests something blissful and calm but I sense something anxious beneath the surface. Maybe the hero has some sense of lift and purpose but I can detect some pain in his heart. He is, for the most part, free and connecting with a positive mood but I feel there are some complicated stories and days regarding the boy and Molly. You seem to project an image of the girl and what she is all about. Maybe there is cuteness and innocence but someone who has spirit and a darker side. The city is a backdrop to all the events and dramas that take place. Beats come down and the rampant sway of the music dips a little. You get ups and downs; there is rush but The Oceans take things down and cool it for a second. Song to Molly is a heartfelt offering that seems to have a happiness and warmth at its heart but I cannot forget some of the lyrics – that suggest something painful is lurking and the hero has a few doubts. Regardless of how you see the song; you will be drawn to its fire and heat. It races and rushes; there is a big mood and smile that brings you in and the song is perfect for the summer days. Even though we are now into autumn; you will appreciate the brightness and intentions of the track and can appreciate it in any weather. I have listened to the track a few times and get something new each time I play it. One gets something personal and emotional in the song but you can take the words and sound and apply them to your own life. The Oceans are a force that can speak for everyone and create music that never alienates a listener. That is a hard trick to pull off but they do this with aplomb right through Song to Molly. It is an excellent song that shows what EP 1 is all about.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann

I have loved listening to EP 1. Despite a bit of a crappy title; the music is anything but. I have been investigating all the threads and various ideas that are expressed throughout. You can follow the narrative and look at the songs on their own but they work best when taken as one piece. One gets a feel of the city and all the contrasts available within. Copenhagen, to me, seems to define what the guys are doing right now. They show the dynamics and contrasts of the capital but, in many ways, seem to talk about the city as a general concept. We all know how cold the city can feel but there is that buzz and electricity that is hard to resist. I think we all need to follow The Oceans and get behind what they are doing right now. The Danish guys are creating great music and, with their own label and D.I.Y. approach, they are taking bold steps and inspiring others. I would love to see other artists putting their own labels together and taking more control. I am not against labels but know there are advantages when it comes to setting your own label up. It is a brave and expensive step – and you need clout and knowledge – but the risk is worth it. I recommend people listen to The Oceans and follow what they do next. It is clear the guys have plans for next year and I wonder whether they will tour and bring their music around the world. Maybe they will come to the U.K. and it would be good to see them play over here. In any case; I feel artists and the media need to look to nations like Denmark and see what is coming from the country. We often get too hooked on America and Britain and forget there is a lot happening in other parts of the world. What strikes me about Denmark is the fact the music sound familiar but it has its own personality. Something unique and fascinating can be discovered and, listening to The Oceans, you get a sense of what is happening in the country right now. EP 1 is a good sign of what to expect from the country and a Danish way of working. Song to Molly is a great song and a wonderful side to an E.P. that is so busy and fascinating. You cannot listen to the music without being sucked in and following every note. Take a listen to The Oceans’ new material and, before long, you will fall in love…

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WITH their gorgeous sounds.

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Follow The Oceans

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TRACK REVIEW: Danelle Sandoval (ft. French Braids) - Hands

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Danelle Sandoval (ft. French Braids)

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Hands

 

9.1/10

 

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The track, Hands, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/danellemusic/hands-ft-french-braids

GENRES:

Pop; R&B

ORIGIN:

Los Angeles, U.S.A./Toronto, Canada

RELEASE DATE:

17th August, 2018

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I cover a lot in various reviews and it can be hard…

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to come up with new things to say each time. In the case of Danelle Sandoval, there is quite a lot of new ground to cover. I wanted to talk about L.A. and the clemency of the scene there; posting covers online and starting down the music-sharing avenue; taking new routes into Pop and fusing vocals from Soul/R&B artists; finding new lease and life with a collaborator; Canadian difference and unique flair (compared to the U.S.); bringing in childhood influences and carrying them along with you. I will start with L.A. because a lot of songwriters go there and seek out guidance. It is seen as this desirable city to record and produce in because of the idyllic weather and scenery. I have never been myself but know a lot of artists who go there to get inspired. It seems like an obvious and age-old choice. Film actors and T.V. performers seek out the glamour and romance of L.A. For artists, there is a huge scene and a vast array of venues and contemporaries there. Like London; I wonder whether there is too much choice and it is a little intimidating. Certainty, one has the chance to drink in the full gamut of sounds and colours coming from Los Angeles. You go there with ambitions to be successful and get a load of gigs but, in many cases, it can be a struggle. I am not saying this to be depressing but it is true: L.A. is not for everyone. In the case of Sandoval; she has learned a lot from the city and started her creative life out there. The songwriter did a lot of good in Los Angeles and the fact she has the array of sounds she does, in my mind, is down to L.A. It is great to see an artist grow and take distinct aspects from a city. The rush and energy of Los Angeles fed into her blood and the ambition you need (if you live in L.A.) has pushed her to become bigger and better.

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Los Angeles’ biggest draw and point, as I see it, is the choice and venues. It may not be easy to get noticed and stand out but, even for a smaller musician, you have chances. Los Angeles is a vast landscape and you can cut your teeth at smaller venues around the city. You can catch a gig every night of the week and get a sense of what the people want; check out local radio and do research regarding pitching music and what the D.J.s are listening to. It is the same situation with London: there is a dizzying array of people and musical options but, if you take your time and stay focused, you can learn an awful lot. Sandoval was in L.A. for a while and, for whatever reason, felt a bit of a funk. Perhaps it was the rush and exhaustion of being in a place like that but she sort of retrenched and needed a spark. People can get into that headspace: spending a long time in a city and finding it a bit tiring. I can understand why people come to L.A. and want to thrive there but I also get why many will get a bit weary and it can be hard to find that influence. What do you do when you reach that point when you need a new lease? Sandoval spent a long time working and pitching in L.A.; she was performing and recording but she wanted to take her music in a new direction. Maybe she has reached the end of what the city could provide and, one day, she met French Braids. He was in L.A. visiting – he hails from Toronto – and the two started to work on a new song, Hands. All at once, there was this new brain and voice coming out that compelled Danelle Sandoval and led to an instant and natural song. That is the way things go at times: songwriters need an additional voice and angle to uncover something rooted inside them.

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In the case of French Braids; there is that experience mixing with the fire and energy of a young songwriter. Sandoval decided to split her time between Los Angeles and Toronto and, in many ways, take a big leap. Collaborators can be a saviour when it comes to renewed love and focus. Sandoval and French Braids worked on this new song and, compare it to her previous work and there is a definite difference. Look at artists through time and the way a new producer/collaborator can reinvent what they do. As an example – it might not be relevant to Sandoval – Madonna started work on her album, Bedtime Stories, and changed musical direction. A less saucy and adult version of what she was recording before; she joined forces with Babyface and that smoother, R&B-led direction resulted in songs such as Take a Bow. Not only is that song (and album) a more mature direction from Madonna; it shows her exploring new ground and moving into a creative space she had not stepped into up until that point. In many ways, the comparison is not too ambitious and far-fetched. Sandoval is a songwriter who has a love of R&B, as I shall explain later, and that is sort of brought out in her collaboration with French Braids. Many might say a songwriter should go their own way and trust their own voice. If you add other people to the mix then that might take away the personal and pure. They might have too much of an influence or it can seem more like a duet. Rather than overwhelm the song and have too much of a say; French Braids has put his elements and input into the song and brought out something fantastic. I can hear a lot of artists get a bit weary and need a sense of purpose and direction. Maybe they have released a few songs and, when it comes to the next phase, they do not want to repeat themselves.

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Danelle Sandoval was in L.A. and was in a city that, I guess, was a bit overwhelming at times. She has been writing a lot and releasing material but there was something missing. Maybe she did not want to go in the same direction or perhaps there was fatigue forming. French Braids was a fresh mind and body and showed there was a lot more potential and brilliance to be mined from the songwriter. Many would forgive Sandoval for moving away and going somewhere quieter. Instead; Sandoval split her time between Canada and America and seems to be in a better place. Hands is taken from her forthcoming E.P., For Love, and things are going well for the songwriter. I wonder whether she will work with French Braids on future E.P.s and they will form a partnership. It is clear there is a close relationship and they get one another. Songwriters who feel like they need more company or a fresh pair of eyes could look out into the world for producers and artists. It may only be for a song or two but that new partnership can uncover something buried inside and bring it to the surface. From there, the mind is opened and it could lead to a lot more music. L.A. was a draw because of its glitz and polish. She wanted to succeed there and get some form of recognition. She did that but it is true something was lacking. Maybe it was soulfulness or a sense of authenticity. L.A. is more Pop-based and predictable when it comes to sounds whereas Toronto is a place that allows more personality and flexibility. French Braids allowed Sandoval to be experimental and step outside the box. She has retained the Pop edge and flavour but brought in other sounds and elements. This revelation and new discovery has transformed her music and opened her eyes.

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Sandoval started posted covers online and released original music on SoundCloud from 2016. Although she began writing songs from the age of ten and playing guitar aged twelve; she moved to online and put her music out to the world. I feel a lot of new songwriters coming through have been going for a while. Many of us assume artists start fairly late and do not connect with music until they are adults. Maybe there are artists who do not have a lot of musical talent but, in quite a few cases; artists start as children and grow from there. It is impressive to know Danelle Sandoval has been playing for a long time and had that love instilled in her very young. She started by posting covers and testing the waters. Having that basic knowledge and passion within; she utilised the Internet and, when moving to SoundCloud, started to gain a larger audience. I know there are a lot of artists who have thrived and survived through the years without the Internet – or they came onto the scene before the Internet – but you cannot underestimate the value and market that is out there. I am thankful for the Internet because it allows me to put my work out there and see it shared. I love being able to connect with the wider world and having an audience. For artists; it can be hard getting a foothold and finding popularity but the music-sharing and streaming services are a valuable and limitless avenue for exploration. Sandoval can/does put her songs out on these platforms and can get instant reaction. Whilst it might be quite scary going out into the digital world; you can reach a lot more people through the Internet. Sandoval gigs and plays live as much as possible but she knows the potency of music-sharing websites. Chart her development and how she moved from a talented young musician to a fresh and energetic talent who is born to do this.

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She matured to being this artist who wants to share her music with the world and knows what it takes to succeed. Sandoval was exposed to music as a child. Her Filipino mother would play her music and there was a combination of local sounds and her mother’s tastes. That music was then connected with Sandoval’s love of Pop and Hip-Hop. It was that revelation and choice of sounds that filtered into her mind and led her to record her own stuff. MySpace (remember that?!) was a portal used to get music out there; Sandoval went to YouTube and posted Lana Del Rey covers and, after that, things really started to take off. You can see all the little steps and how she has blossomed from the aspiring child and eager mind to someone who has utilised technology, music-sharing websites and current trends. Her first single, Chairs, was met with great success and got her a cover on Spotify’s Indie Pop Chillout playlist. It has been a long and busy road for the songwriter but I feel taking productive and sensible steps has played it part. To start, it was getting online and getting music to new hands. Now, as she has met French Braids, splitting time between L.A. and Toronto is the next big evolution. I feel every leap is important and scary but it pays off. I am not sure whether there will be a third one but, rather than quitting and feeling despondent; the songwriter has shown fortitude and made her way to a new plain. Success and longevity will come but, right now, a new single is out and it is exciting. I am looking forward to seeing where she goes and what we will get from her E.P. Clearly, Sandoval has a passion for music and a curiosity that she wants to exploit and spread around the world. I feel the songwriter will get those gig demands and play in a lot of different countries next year.

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I have seen a shift in sounds between Sandoval’s earliest work and where she is now. It seems like she has moved from the Pop avenue and a certain L.A. sound to sprinkling in R&B and Soul. Influences are important when it comes to sound and direction and, in Sandoval’s case; one gets touches of artists like Mariah Carey and Toni Braxton. Rather than surrender her passions and give in; Sandoval brought in some new influences and pushed her music out. Hands has Pop flesh but there is something else working away. You get smoothness and silk; there is definite fire and something kicking. The production is more alive and richer; the vocal stronger and more nuanced. Lots of depths come out and I think, in order to move forward, Sandoval has looked back. Not only in terms of the age of her influences but when they came into her life. Often, looking to the future and taking from what is around you does not work. There are lots of great artists out there but many are compelled by what came before. In many ways, Hands is a fusion of the modern – production and lyrics – with the older and classic – vocals and music – and you have a great creation. I love artists who can change direction and do not feel the need to be commercial. Sandoval has embraced something insightful, fulsome and textured. I think she has found a new footing and is not going to abate anytime soon. Let’s hope she has plenty more material in the tank and keeps her sights set. I have a lot of faith in the songwriter and know she has much more to say. It can be difficult relocating and taking in new musical direction. Rather than let it bury and confuse her; Sandoval has assimilated it into her soul and come up with terrific music. I am determined to see where she heads and how her career progresses. I hope I have covered enough ground and provided background – where she came from and what inspired her.

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You get some tease, beauty and trip in the opening moments of Hands. A wordless vocal from the heroine has a lullaby-like quality and it is dreamy. French Braids brings in some great electronics and production shine; you have a modern and cutting sound but one that never sounds too heavy and strict. There is intensity lurking beneath the surface but that is balanced with a sweetness and romance from Sandoval. The earliest lyrics – that find the heroine taking a chance in the wilderness – seems to be a signal and representation of where she is now. Rather than leaping into bad romance or a weird place; I feel there is a nod to her creative and geographical space. She has split her life between Canada and the U.S. and it seems to be a big step! It is scary and unknown but she wants to take the risk. I might be overreacting and looking down the wrong path but I got a clear sense Sandoval was talking about her new decision and working with French Braids. You get a real sense of trepidation but there is excitement and a sense of hope. As the lyrics progress, there are more romantic and physical connotations. Maybe there is a combination of passion and dreams or, maybe, the heroine is using her new movements and desires through the filter of love and physical passion. The heroine’s voice trembles and is breathless; you get a sense things are shaping up to be explosive and sweaty. Soon enough, my viewpoint changes from interpretations of musical desire to physical lust. Bodies are doing the speaking and she does not want conversation. Like Elvis Presley; she wants a little less conversation (and a bit more action). I can hear the intensity rise and something bubbling away.

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Maybe it is a new relationship or something that has rekindled. In any case; it seems like there is an itch that needs to be scratched and an intense heat that is forming. Maybe I was quick to abandon the angle regarding songwriting and dreams. One can see Hands as a song about touch and intensity but, in many ways, you can feel a spiritual connection to music itself. French Braids keeps the production fairly simple as to allow, at first, the voice to build things up and create a mood. You get drum clicks and pointed electronic bubbles; there is a general movement but it does not crackle as you’d expect. That is not a bad thing at all. Rather than go for bold and reckless; the composition remains teasing and sexual. The vocal pitches itself between modern Pop and 1990s R&B and holds plenty of power. There is that call for loyalty and commitment. Hands are wandering and, in many ways, she wants to tenderness of faith and romance rather than the physicality of sex and something hollow. Perhaps this is a complex relationship but you can feel how much it means. Rather than rush in and make mistakes; the heroine wants to slow it a little and have her sweetheart stay. Her voice tempts and coos; it is tender and light but there is ample gravitas and lust that creates a rich and intriguing blend. New elements are brought in as the wordless coda returns. The beats sparkle and expand; you get more angles and edges that create a more fulsome and colourful sound. Little electronic rushes give the song a fresh fizz and definite warmth. From a rather reserved and somewhat restrained start; Hands starts to get a lot more mobile and sunny. It is a nice shift that pushes the song forward and builds images in the mind. Rather that build in new words and put too many lyrics in there; you get a return of the narrative – not wanting to talk and just wanting bodies and hands to do all the talk.

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It never seems too explicit and full-on. There is romance and a purity that balances any suggestion of the shallow and quick. Whereas the verse had a set sound the first time around; there is a new flavour and direction this time around. Nuance and fresh revelation come through and you start to picture what is happening. I imagine two lovers who are new to one another but there is a recognisable connection and understanding. I keep thinking about music and dreams having physical manifestations. Sandoval is in a place where she needs grounding and the knowledge things will be okay. There is desire and ambition in her heart and a definite love. She does not want that taken away from her and knows she is taking a risk. It is a complicated song that can have distinct and different truths. Each listener will have their own viewpoint and interpretation. I was thinking about that mixture of love and music but, to be fair, we might be looking at a simple passion that is arriving at the right point in life – something needed but might not have legs. Sandoval will know what the origin is but, rather than give everything away, she allows some room for manoeuvre and personal relevance. By the end of the song, you are compelled to go back in and see if you missed anything the first time around. Hands has a very modern sound and slick production but you get classic edges. French Braids brings fresh ingredients to the mix but does not take away the true and trusted Danelle Sandoval sound. It is a great partnership that has resulted in a great song. It might be a new combination of talents but you can tell they work together. I hope there is more collaboration between them and they get to work on other songs. Hands is a great song that has summer vibes and energy but there are cooler and more teasing moments that are perfect for the colder months. I am curious to see where Sandoval heads and, in the coming years, how her music grows and builds. Even after a couple of songs, she has proven herself to be an exciting and interesting voice in modern music.

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I wonder whether Danelle Sandoval will come to the U.K. and play here at some point. She will have Canadian and U.S. dates and, with an E.P. coming, there will be fresh love. Coverage is coming in for Hands and it seems many people are reacting. I am pleased and can tell the future is very bright for her. I love the song and can definitely feel a difference between what we have now and what came before. Progression and change is all part of the songwriter’s life. It is going to happen and can bring new energy to the bones. It seems Sandoval is primed and pumped for what comes next. Maybe international touring is a few years off but I would not be shocked if she got some big dates off of the back of her latest single. There are not many songwriters who would take risks like her and make such leaps. That is a testament to her desire and what she wants to achieve. Let’s follow her closely and watch a brilliant talent blossom. I shall end things in a bit but, before I do, distil why you need to get behind Sandoval. She has been around music all of her life and, from a young age, it seems to resonate. That love got into her heart and there was a decision to peruse music and bring it to the people. Working tirelessly and ambitiously for years; she worked her socks off and put covers into the world. From there, ears were primed and that led to original material. It won hearts but, at a point, that funk arrived. Now, Sandoval has progressed and made a decision to work with someone new. It seems she is in a great place and you can hear that defiance. It is the way she has handled obstacles and given her all to music that marks her out for success.

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So many songwriters take an easy road and quit; others write material that is not pure to them and it can show. Other simply carry down a bad road and it can be quite hard to watch. If you want to remain in music and evolve; you need to think outside the box and take chances. Danelle Sandoval has come a long way and there is plenty more to come from her. Ensure you get your body behind Hands and investigate its every move. I am excited to see where she heads next and whether we might get to see her in the U.K. I can see a correlation between Sandoval’s live experience and how that feeds into her music. As more and more people get behind her music and spread the word; those demands will come in and she will be on the road. I know there are big plans and dreams in the mind of Sandoval; she wants to grow and continue to make music. I am thrilled she has come so far and created wonderful music. Throw some love behind the talented songwriter and keep abreast of everything she does. It is an exciting and promising period that will yield material, great reviews and gig requests. There are many songwriters who evolve and change direction but few have the same striking nature and sound as Sandoval. She is out there on her own and occupying special ground. She will continue to build and flourish; take in new sounds and, let’s hope, continue to work with French Braids. She may have found him by chance but, as they have created the wonderful Hands; I do hope that partnership continues for…

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A long time to come.

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Follow Danelle Sandoval

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TRACK REVIEW: DXTA - Going Home

TRACK REVIEW:

 

DXTA

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PHOTOS: Ashley Walsh

Going Home

 

9.5/10

 

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SINGLE ARTWORK: Alice Bradley

The track, Going Home, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA-fdg6l9UI

GENRES:

Alternative-Rock; Dream-Rock

ORIGIN:

Portsmouth, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

16th July, 2018

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I get to look at slightly different subjects…

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when thinking about DXTA. I have been following Dexter Krenal, whose solo project it is, and what he is putting out into the world. It has been a long road for him and he has gone through a lot but, right now, there is a lot to get excited about. Before I talk about the music and what is going on in his camp right now, I want to look at homelessness and sleeping rough; sounds that have a Punk flair and real personality to them; keeping going in the face of adversity and struggle; the world-famous Abbey Road Studios and artists whose music makes their way there; where DXTA can go from here – I will also have a quick look at artists who can change from being in a band to going solo and make things work. What strikes me about Krenal is how he has managed to come through some really bleak days and make things work out. It may seem odd to talk about homelessness in a music review but it is something I have spoken about before. I know a few musicians who are homeless and others who are sleeping rough right now. It is hard for many of us to imagine what they are going through and how hard their lives are. One might think Krenal would be thinking of anything but music when he was on the streets. The determination he had to get through the darkness and back on his feet can be heard in his sounds. Survival was key but there was always something working in the back of his mind that knew everything would be okay. In his new project, Krenal is joined by Rob Walsh on guitar, James Ford on bass and Kristian Driver on drums. It is a nice unit but one he might not have imagined would take shape. I predict big things will happen for DXTA and there will be much success coming their way. With Dexter Krenal as the lead and figurehead; it is going to be an interesting next few months.

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It seems like music can provide a great platform to help the homeless and raise awareness. You only have to look at big cities like London and Manchester to see how prevalent the issue of homelessness is. I have just come back from Manchester and detected so many rough sleepers – something that is hard to see and cope with. I think the issue is getting more pronounced and things are pretty bad. Music can provide an outlet for those who are on the street. Not only is it a way of earning money but it is a source of creativity and channelling thoughts. I noticed a few homeless people in Manchester who played guitar and it seemed, to me, to provide some solace and guidance. I am simplifying things but I feel music has the power to pull us from the depths and give us some sort of direction. In the case of Krenal; he was sleeping rough in London and suffered drug and alcohol issues. He sought refuge in his hometown of Portsmouth and is was a challenging time for him. I met Krenal when he played a gig for me as part of his old band, Meat Loving Vegans. From that time until now, things have taken a turn and it might have seemed like he would not record any music again. Musicians are an important platform for raising awareness about subjects like mental-health issues and homelessness; struggles with addiction and political issues. I know Krenal has a powerful sound and, given his situation, I hope he unites with a homeless charity and helps get the word out regarding the plight of rough sleepers. He is not completely out of the woods but one hopes his worst days are behind him. In any case; it is a brighter route forward and music is keeping Krenal focused and moving ahead. I think a lot of the past experiences and torment he has faced goes into his current movements.

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There is a lot of great music out there but I feel like something is missing. I mention bands like IDLES and Shame a lot because they produce great music but they have the swagger and sense of rebelliousness that you can hear in the classic Punk bands. Krenal’s previous incarnation had more spit and knuckles but DXTA has that distinct accent working away. There is no faking things with the frontman: he is an authentic bloke and does not disguise his voice to fit in with the market. If you had to compare his voice with anyone then I guess there is a bit of MGMT about it. It is a faint hint but it is there. In any case, there are few you can link him to. I feel artists lack a sense of authenticity and unique energy; we are missing bands who put the spark back into music and get into the ears. I am interested to see how Krenal’s project evolves and whether more material is coming out. I have been following Krenal, as I say, for a long time and know what he is capable of. As a stage performer, there is ample explosion and guts from the man. I love those artists who can put in a hellacious show and throw themselves into the crowd. That tactic might not work too well if you are playing at a Jazz club or in a coffee shop but for Krenal, and where he is used to playing, he vibes from the energy of the crowd. All of that intuition and physicality goes into the music. One hears plenty of heart and soul in the sounds and you feel a real bond with the singer. He is someone who has carried a lot of weight and, rather than let it bury him, channels that into incredible music. I will move on to another subject in a bit but feel it is important to keep on the topic of the music scene.

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MODEL DESIGN: Alice Bradley

Look around the mainstream and there is little place for the older Punk sounds or something with classic edges. A few great Pop artists are emerging and it is good to see changing tastes but I do worry we have come too far to see a revival of the golden days. Maybe it is a class thing: the working-class musicians always struggle and not accessible to the big leagues. I am annoyed we have a situation where hungry and exceptional artists are being denied and things are set up for a particular kind of music. I long to see bands and artists who tell it like it is and win you with their ego-less persona. You get a lot of calculated discussion and songs when it comes to the mainstream. Look at what is being said and delivered right now and you have to ask how much freedom and flexibility there is. Many of us can identify with the music being put out at the moment but do you often take the time to explore the artist behind the sounds? Dexter Krenal is an intriguing figure who has an interesting story and has a bright future. There is nothing to suggest DXTA cannot be a big force in music but I ask myself how long it will take them. It seems the mainstream is less established to accommodate those with real talent and voice: you still have too many commercial artists that are winning a lot more focus than they should. I know DXTA will release more material and gig but, on sheer quality alone, I feel something good needs to happen now. You can hear that intent and know how much music means to them. With Krenal as lead and guiding voice, I feel there will be a lot of deep and interesting songs that go beyond the ordinary and love-based – a look at gritty sides of life and social observations. We can never get bored of artists who reflect reality and shine a light on what is not being said. For that reason, I feel DXTA are worthy of big love.

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Not only do you get a bit of attitude and plenty of authenticity with DXTA but you have a central message that urges people to keep going strong and to hold on. Whether it is the depths of mental illness or addiction; sleeping rough or having a broken heart – Krenal is keen to show things can turn around and work out okay. It is all well and good saying things will be right but it is harder to believe. How powerful are words when they cannot transpose your situation and act as a magical fix?! I feel music holds the potential to change lives and change the world. Maybe it takes a lot of luck and community but, as we are more aware of social issues and big problems, social media acts as a great tool to unite and inspire. In the case of DXTA’s track, Going Home, there is a light at the end of the tunnel many of us can follow. Things have been tough for the lead but he is resolved to stay on a smoother course and see it through. Music is a therapy and safe drug for Krenal and an addiction that is a lot more healthy and secure than anything he has previously tried. I hope there are no relapses because, right now, he is in great form and keeping his spirits high. Listen to the latest track from DTXA and you feel a sense of the personal and revealing but there is a wider message to the people out there. Music should not solely be about sending big messages into the world but, if you have that platform, then it shouldn’t be about love and what is going on in your own life. I feel too many artists squander what music can do and do not explore bigger subjects. Maybe that is a sense of fear – commercial loss and people not responding – but so many of us are going through dark times.

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Look at what is coming from DXTA right now and you hear a young man who knows the pains of isolation and fear and having to live on the streets. I can only imagine how his world fell apart and what he had to endure before finding his feet. I am not sure what the catalyst for the reckless behaviour was but, to me, it is a complex sense of events tied to a general frustration in professional and personal life. I hope there is more music to come from him that looks at his experiences and how he has managed to turn a corner. Even if those songs speak to one person and help them then it has been worthwhile and means music is doing what it should do – go beyond the speakers and connect with people. I feel too many artists are struggling to create something memorable and, in a market that is growing larger, that is going to continue. If they change tack and start reflecting something more substantial and meaningful then I feel music could really inspire and get into the mind. It should be more than just sound: artists need to project messages that are deeper and go past the cliché. Krenal is someone who can mix the familiar with the personal but turn the lyrics outwards and allow the listener to extrapolate whatever they need. The most powerful hit will be when he comes to perform songs like Going Home and how they resonate from the stage. With his band in tow and the ammunition inside of him; I feel he will get a great reception and go down a storm. Krenal has worked as a session musician and played the Reading and Leeds Festival with Misty Miller; he has worked with other bands and had plenty of experience. I know there will be a lot of gig chances for DXTA – and a chance for the people to connect with that incredible music.

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It is not often an artist or song gets to Abbey Road Studios. Some are lucky enough to record there and be within touching distance of where The Beatles recorded their greatest sounds. I have never been there but really want to. I can only imagine how powerful and emotional it is walking through the doors and being in that stage. In the case of DXTA, the music was mastered there and you can hear the quality come through. That professional and legendary handling makes Going Home sparkle and pop. You can smell the studio and feel its blood running through the body of the song. I hope DXTA get a chance to play there and record an E.P. at those studios. It is a good start to have their music mastered at Abbey Road Studios and they can capitalise on that in the future. The latest song was recorded and produced at their guitarist’s studio down in Gosport. In a way, the song has taken a reversal role to Dexter Krenal. The man himself is based near Portsmouth and had his start in London. His song started life in Gosport but has been perfected and housed in London. I will talk a bit about Going Home’s video when I get to the song but there is a lot going on with DXTA. Even though there is not a big budget, you are attracted to the visuals and a song that gets right under the skin. Looking ahead and I wonder whether there will be another song before the end of the year. I have predicted a bright future for DXTA and I feel the momentum from the current single will lead to more releases. There is nothing to suggest Krenal and his band cannot take to some big stages and play the festivals. It is a bit late this year but I know next year will be an eventful one for them. We all want to bond with an artist or band that goes beyond the familiar and stays in the mind.

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There is a lot of sound, momentum and energy that opens Going Home. There is a clash of drums and upbeat guitars; it has a 1960s feel and there is a jollity that mixes with the edginess. You are instantly connected to the song and compelled to move. As the whirling and cheery organ plays – forgive me if it is a different instrument – you hear Krenal come to the microphone and have his say. I can hear shades of bands like The Small Faces and there is a definite nod to past masters. What excites me is the unique voice of Krenal and how his personality reigns. He says, quite clearly, how he does not get along with anyone and seems to have that anti-social edge. The hero is afraid of dying – although he doesn’t know why – and he seems to be running from something. The song’s video sees Krenal rob a shop and gets away with a bag of cash. He points the gun at the owner and makes off with the stash. The symbolism and story of the video – the lead shooting a man who he bumps into whilst evading capture; nods to desolation and disconnection – make me think the song is a sign of desperation from a man who is making ends meet in nefarious ways and getting really scared. Mortality plays a big part and Krenal wonders why he feels fearful of his future. The composition has an amazing quality that matches frivolity and youthful energy with something more disciplined and dark. The excitement and electricity continue and you are following the plight of the hero. Things are surreal and the man cannot believe what is happening. Maybe it is a commentary on his situation and living on the streets or a look back at his past and the way his life has panned out. Going Home boasts that strong lead vocal that constantly questions, campaigns and strikes. Once or twice the vocal gets lost in the mix but, for the most part, it is clear and revealing.

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I am impressed Krenal and DXTA did not go for an all-out assault regarding the composition. Maybe that was the first option but I feel the song is more potent given a sense of melody and optimism. I have mentioned a particular decade and band but, to be honest, there is so much working away. You get a fusion of decades and ideas that never seem to be distant and alien: it all hangs together and takes the song in different directions. The video follows the hero as he boards a train and heads home. His mate picks him up and they divide the money stolen and go their separate ways. All the while, the hero is being traced and tracked by police and there is that sense that he will be captured. The hero ends up being cornered and meeting his end and it seems to be a metaphor for walls closing in and being unable to run from the darkness. I know Krenal is in a better place now but I feel Going Home is a sign not to take desperate measures and find a way out of problems that involve criminality and risk. Maybe it is a wake-up call for him but, to many, it will ring true. I am one of those people who question what I am doing and whether it is the right thing. We can all get into the places where we feel trapped and not sure whether we should move or remain. Dexter Krenal has come a long way and he knows more than anyone what it takes to get clean and safe. Going Home is the sound of a man coming to terms with reality and making better decisions. I love how the band fuses together and the composition created. It is addictive and memorable and you will find yourself coming back again to discover new things. The song is a good sign of what the group/Krenal can achieve and what they can offer music. I would love to hear more material and am pumped to see where they head next. Maybe the sound will take a different slant but I feel there is a chemistry and formula in place already that is already established and solid. I can imagine Going Home going down a storm in the live setting and more gigs will come off the back of that. Make sure you investigate DXTA and follow what comes next – you will not want to miss it!

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I have taken some time out to look at Going Home and what makes DXTA tick. This is a new project but one that has legs and big potential. Make sure you listen to the current track and see how far Dexter Krenal has come. I feel there are more singles coming and it will be interesting to see what sort of direction they take. In terms of sound; maybe it will mix some of Meat Loving Vegans’ sound and go in a more snarling direction. I feel Krenal can balance the rowdy and romantic and create his own identity. Right now, he has fused together a great sound that makes you come back time and time again. What gets to me is how he has managed to transition from painful and hard times and come through it. Maybe he is not completely free of his demons but the worst is out of the way, one hopes. Going Home has a personal origin but it is a mandate to people out there to keep going and stay strong. I will follow DXTA and what comes next and I feel there will be gigs coming up. I am not sure of the exact plan for the rest of the year but keep involved with the social media pages of DXTA and find what is coming up. I am impressed there are a lot of good photos available and the music is available across a number of sites. A lot of artists have a very vague platform and layout and their social media pages are weak. Maybe it is photos missing or they have very little information; they might be absent from some sites and it can be frustrating. It is important the music is strong and it gets into the brain. I find marketing and being visible is a crucial tool when it comes to standing out and capturing attention. If you have great music and know where you want to go then that is great but it is important, at a competitive time, to consider social media.

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DXTA do/does it very well and it is pleasing to see. I would love to see them play and see how far Dexter Krenal has come. He has been through a lot of crap and there would have been points where he felt resigned and defeated. Coming from the streets and overcoming the black hole he was in is impressive but maybe he has a long way to go. It is never easy to get rid of addiction and ensure it does not come back into your life. I feel music is a very solid ground for him and something he can use to stay out of trouble and keep focused. A sense of optimism will come when the music starts to spread and more people share it. That has started already and I know it will continue as we head to the end of the year. Let’s all get behind DXTA and discover an exciting venture. The music reminds me a bit of the great Punk bands and, no matter what your tastes, it is impossible to deny the potency and wonder coming from the speaker. I have been a fan of Krenal for a long time now and it is great to see how his sound has shifted and shaped itself. I hope the success and determination continues and, in time, DXTA is allowed a passage to the mainstream. We are seeing bands like IDLES speaking about important things like masculinity and mental-health and it is striking much harder than a lot of what is coming from music. Maybe it can get a bit familiar and tired after a while but, if an artist can mix important subjects with something more familiar then that is a good blend. I am hopeful big success will come the way of DXTA and new songs will come. I am not sure what form the material will take but I feel the sound will get bigger and more ambitious. It is exciting to see the songwriter and lead grow and gain new traction. He has made his way from the streets and is in a position where he can inspire and grow. I hope the rise continues and DXTA is a name, soon enough, many of us…

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WILL be familiar with.

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Follow DXTA

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TRACK REVIEW: INBAL - Hail in Madrid

TRACK REVIEW:

 

INBAL

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Hail in Madrid

 

9.3/10

 

 

The track, Hail in Madrid, is available via:

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

GENRE:

Electronic

ORIGIN:

Tel Aviv, Israel

RELEASE DATE:

12th July, 2018

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WHEN considering INBAL

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and her music; I am compelled to look at various things and understand how everything comes together. I will talk about Hail in Madrid soon but, right now, I wanted to study atmosphere and mood in songs; strong visuals and videos that stand in the mind. I will then look at artists who are hard to categorise and sounds that have a unique melodic flair; themes that are creeping into songs and being investigated more by musicians; a quick peek at music that can settle you and make you think at the same time. INBAL has based herself in a studio and been working on an E.P. The multi-linguist from Tel Aviv has been busy and working on some great material. Following from previous singles, Right Mistakes and Almost Twenty, she has been described as an artist to watch and someone who stands aside from the crowd. I listen to INBAL’s music and there is so much working away. It is not your average Pop or Alternative song and, each time you listen to the music, you take something new away. It is important to infuse a sense of mood and emotion into everything you do. One of the reasons INBAL has gained praise is because of the sense of beauty and passion entwined in every note. You can tell how much energy and thought goes into line and expression. She is a songwriter who is not aiming for the charts and anything that could gain quick streaming figures and popularity. Rather than compromise integrity and go for an easy option; INBAL makes sure the listener is immersed in a world of magic and mystery. I listen to her work, like Hail in Madrid, and you get that unique expression and fantastic sound. INBAL pitches the mood between dreamy and real; a clash of states that will have a different effect on different listeners. It is a real trip, in a good way, seeing what she produces and how it all comes together.

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You may say creating atmosphere and mood is not that important: if there is a hook or big chorus then that is okay. I think there is a lot more pleasure and emotional impact when you find a song that has so much working away and a fantastic soul. It is brilliant diving into a brilliant track that takes your head and heart in different directions. INBAL is an artist who considers how the song(s) will strike the memory and imagination. I listen to her work and it is the sort that rewards repeated listens and study. There are not many artists in the mainstream that take care when it comes to nuance and real depth. I have been searching for artists that go out of their way to provide intriguing songs and break from the herd. INBAL is among the artists right now doing something amazing. Critics and journalists have backed her work and celebrated its majesty. It is hard writing a song that has a unique purpose and sound and then following that up with something equally special and stirring. INBAL is someone who can show consistency and not let her standard drop. I am amazed how she manages to provide such engaging and thought-provoking every time and not seem familiar. By that, each of her singles has their own skin and colours. Alongside this mood and emotion, you get plenty of drive and physicality. It is not all about playing it calm and taking the lights down. When you listen to Hail in Madrid; your mind starts to conspire and you get all these different scenes forming. You can watch the music video but I have switched that off at times and cast my own interpretations. Connecting video and audio is something a lot of artists struggle with. It can be difficult, on a budget, creating something complete and memorable. INBAL has accompanied her latest track with a great promotional film.

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Many say music videos are dying and not as important as they once were. Maybe we have passed the glory of MTV and when music videos ruled the land but they are still important. I feel videos can add new dimensions to songs and it can bring something new and unexpected. I am one of those people who loves to see a great video and see whether it connects with the original song. If the artist gets it right; you can take something away you hadn’t expected and it is a great thing. INBAL ensures her videos capitalise on the potency and grace of her music and matches that with astonishing visuals. There are few fireworks and big scenes but you feel, when watching one of her videos, you are connecting with an artist who wants to remain in music for a very long time. She expends so much attention and work; taking care to ensure the maximum amount of emotional engagement and effect is produced. Music can be quite a soulless place where we listen idly and never really question its origins. Disposability is coming in more and more and I fear we are losing sight of music’s origins and purpose. Given the digital age, more of us are abandoning physicality and stuff like music videos. I want to return to the days when we were interested in music videos and actually questioned how the music came together and feel something pure – stopping in our tracks and letting the sounds sink in. Today, we are so quick to dismiss and can whiz past a song without giving it a moment’s notice. INBAL realises there is a problem in the modern age and we are all becoming less involved in music. Rather than pander to that and go for something cheap and simple; she aims at those who have longer attention spans and prefer their music more compelling and detailed. That reflects in the music videos.

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It has been many years since we saw any classic music videos – maybe Childish Gambino’s This Is America ranks alongside the very best out there. Hail in Madrid is about the fine line between dreams and being awake; our perceptions of surreal events that happen in dreams and the illusion of being awake whilst we are actually asleep. She puts so many different emotions into the lyrics and takes care to craft songs that are meaningful and stunning. The videos are given the same amount of care and attention. You can listen to a song of hers and get your own visions but, when looking at the videos that accompany them, everything slots together and seems perfect. It might be risky taking that time to really produce great music and not following what so many others do. Maybe INBAL will not get the same hits and streams as the big Popstars but she appeals to those who are gripped by music’s substance and core. You can watch a video from INBAL or listen to a song and strip it away and take it apart. You wonder how it was all put together and how quickly it all formed. I shall move onto another subject but I have not really covered Israel and Tel Aviv. I have featured artists from this part of the world before and always find something different. You get a distinct British and American sound and way of working. If you look at music coming from Tel Aviv; there is something incredible and strange coming through. Many of us do not listen to music from Israel and consider the nation’s potential. I am a fan of the county and feel Tel Aviv especially is a fantastic place to discover fresh sounds. The city is a paradise for those who want to be inspired and find new impetus for songwriting.

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The beautiful scenery and history feed into the blood and the people are friendly and wise. You have different cultures and religions alongside one another; beautiful vistas and great music venues. There is no one set ‘sound’ in Tel Aviv: one experiences a spectrum and so many different ideas and movements. INBAL has her own sonic flair and she seems to borrow from the heartbeat and lungs of Tel Aviv. Her upcoming E.P. was produced and mixed between Brazil, Helsinki; London, Tel Aviv and Seoul – and the U.S. I am a new follower of INBAL and what she does and can see her evolution and rise. There is nothing to say she cannot ascend to the big leagues in time and rank alongside the modern best. I have mentioned her visuals and music and how there seems to be this close relationship. INBAL’s unique style and melodic sensibilities are among the reasons why the music settles in the brain and endures. Rather than produce Pop bangers or compositions that are soulless; you can hear a distinct INBAL sound and note a musician that takes care to ensure each song is as striking and stirring as possible. I am looking at musicians now and there seems to be a general break away from songs of love and relationships and something more original. There are still those who focus on the ordinary and familiar but I love artists who step aside and write something that is a bit more unexpected. INBAL’s latest track looks at that blur between dreaming and being awake; not quite knowing whether you are experiencing something real or it is part of a dream. It may not sound like the most obvious thing to write about but dream-like states and our consciousness is coming more into music. Maybe it is a rebellion against commercial subjects but many of us want to find artists who document the new and sensational. Many of us, too, experience these moments where we are in a dream or cannot distinguish between reality and the surreal.

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Every time a songwriter comes out with something that challenges the mind and takes you somewhere special; I often wonder how they will follow it up and keep away from rather stale and basic themes. INBAL would have experienced heartache and disappointment but, if she writes about it, she will not employ basic lyrics and copy everyone else. That lyrical intelligence and imagination is already set so it makes me urge INBAL to have a look at past heartache and mine that for gold. That sounds rather exploitative and cruel but I would love to see how she tackles this side of life and what the video will look like. More and more artists are moving away from love and investigating the human mind. The state of our being and the conscious vs. the unconscious is coming into music more. Maybe it is a recent development but I am pleased to see a more mature and interesting sensation come into the fold. I will move on to look at Hail in Madrid but, right now, I wanted to look at songs and artists who can calm the bones and keep you safe. One other reason why I love INBAL and her work is (that you) can dive into the music and escape. There is so much working away and you always feel comforted and engaged. I can listen to one of her songs and get carried away on a wave but, at the same time, think about my own life. I can see big things come for INBAL and I feel she will enjoy a long career. If you are not familiar with her work and why she is so lauded; make sure you take some time away and dive in. Many of us have stressful lives and tough times and, whilst it is good listening to music with energy and verve; I am always drawn to something a little more tender, alluring and dream-like. I can listen to an INBAL song and everything sort of melts away.

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Maybe I have spoken a lot about aspects of INBAL’s music and how it comes together but, right now, it is worth looking at the song in question. I have seen a lot of press around Hail in Madrid and other people giving their impressions. It is always strange seeing how others view a song and whether they get the same things out of it as you. Rather than let them guide your own interpretation; I use critics are a general guide and somewhere to start. INBAL makes sure everyone gets something from her music. There is an odd mixture of calm and chatter in the opening moments of the song. You get acoustic guitar and a gentle strum but there is childish conversation and chat that fuses with that sound. The heroine comes to the front and talks about some sort of cosmic force and dream-like feeling. She can feel the rhythm and sensation of someone’s feet near her. At the start, you are not sure whether she is talking about a dream itself or that odd feeling when you are half-awake and not sure whether everything is real. The composition adds a nice feeling of confusion and dreaminess that affects how you view the song. I was caught by the immediacy of Hail in Madrid and how it made me feel. Once settled and pure; it starts to provoke feelings and interpretations. I was looking at that feeling of just waking up and having some of your dreams there. By that, I mean you think of something vivid and fantastic and it sort of remains once you wake up. Maybe the heroine is feeling connected with a lover or pining for something and that manifests itself in the form of a dream. She is struggling to draw a line between the dreaming and awakened state. I guess the subject of her thoughts might be fictional but I think there are unresolved issues and feelings that are working their way into her dreams.

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There are those who feel there is no meaning in dreams and symbolism does not mean anything either. You can ascribe a meaning to dreams but, in reality, dreams is the unconscious mind working through problems it could not solve in the day; a random collection of thoughts and ideas that have no deeper significance. INBAL is talking more about consciousness and being wrong or right; she wants to be home for the night and I wonder, as I hear the words, whether we are witnessing a dream or something real. The distinct accent of the subject brings gravitas and new emotions to the song. Rather than feel disconnected and uninvolved with the song; you get right to the barrow and walk alongside the heroine. The music and lyrics have their own mindset but they connect wonderfully. In the background, you have that child-like chat and echo; you get ethereal notes and a soundscape that seems to separate the body and mind. The vocal is quite calm and restrained but holds plenty of weight and potential. The lyrics are never clear so you can definitely assert where they were born and what drives them. INBAL lets the listener come to their own conclusion and go in whatever direction they feel matters most to them. I have provided my feelings but, in truth, there is so much working away. One gets impressions of a deadly smile and lies; a strange explosion in silence and the heroine falling back again. Maybe she is trusting someone who cannot be trusted and looking for solid ground. Given the fact Hail in Madrid looks at the conscious and dreams; I keep wondering whether the entire piece is part of a night-time fantasy. It is interesting piecing things together and coming to your own conclusion. One of the reasons I wanted to investigate the song is because of all the colour and emotions working away.

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The backdrop is not merely there to score the track and provide little impetus. The score is as integral and meaningful as anything in the forefront. INBAL weaves something beautiful and emotive together that, before long, makes its way to the front and get into the heart. The song stops and changes direction; there are odd little moments and evocative revelations too. This is not a song that keeps a steady course and has a predictable path. You get twists and turns and a real sense of the unexpected. INBAL has put so much effort into the track and that workrate really shows. Twinkling notes and galloping notes spar one another and you get that unexpected clash. By the end of the track, I was still taking it all in and figuring it out. My first impression was one of a dream that is bleeding into waking life; a feeling of loss and struggle that is hard to vanquish. Maybe the real situation and story are different but that is the thing: every listener will come to their own conclusions and witness something unique. With lush production and a commanding vocal; Hail in Madrid is a stunning offering from INBAL. Perhaps those who prefer their music primal and emphatic might take a while to get behind it but they will be broken and seduced soon enough. I keep coming back to the track and witnessing something fresh each time around. Hail in Madrid is a colourful and challenging song that will make you feel better but get you thinking at the same time. Not many artists can do that and, when you discover them, you need to put them out into the world. Make sure you put Hail in Madrid out there and spread the word. I am always stunned by artists who can create something unexpected that goes against the grain. INBAL is someone who will enjoy a long future and, on the strength of her current single, will provide a sensational E.P. Ensure you watch the music video for Hail in Madrid and watch all the stunning visuals come together. It is a great experience and beautiful video that does justice to a fantastic song.

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With each new release, you can feel something new come through. I am a fresh follower but can already track changes and developments emerging. Critics have celebrated her work and noted her as one of the best new artists around. I would back that hypothesis and am excited to see where she goes from here. The approaching E.P. is a chance to see INBAL’s existing songs and new offerings mix alongside one another. I am one of those people who loves the E.P. and album and is not just interested in singles. Music should be savoured and enjoyed: those who quickly skip and pass by songs are missing out on so much. I do not think music will advance and progress if we ignore it or give it very little time. If you take an INBAL song as an example and what you get from it. Listen to Hail in Madrid and you will not want to simply have it on in the background and let it pass you by. You will want to put the volume up and make sure every note of the song gets into the mind. I am excited to see what we will get from her E.P. and where she heads from here. Those who have praised her work and highlighted her merits are looking forward and will surely be all over it. INBAL is someone who can make us interested in full works and taking a bit more time out. You cannot simply let one of her songs flow past and ease away. Let’s consider where she will head next and what her future holds. There will be gigs and developments but I feel there is a chance for a long career and real influence. The amazing songwriter has already crafted some wonderful singles but shows no signs of slowing. I would love to see her tour and take her music around the world. I know she has plans to play in Berlin and London and you need to check her social media channels for all developments.

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I will end things soon but I want people to follow a modern artist who seems to take music back to its ideal start. We have someone who takes care to produce properly arresting songs and moments that will stay in the memory. INBAL takes care when it comes to visuals and how a music video makes you feel. Her live show is not something I have witnessed but I am sure it matches the brilliance and beauty of her music. You cannot escape the passion and purity that comes from every note. If you need a lift or want to think and reflect; there is so much in INBAL’s locker you can take away and enjoy. Make sure you do catch her live and see the artist up-close. I have talked a lot about her sound and various highs but I have not really discussed where she will head and how her career will work out. I feel there will be albums and more E.P.s arriving from her. It is always hard to predict longevity and which artists will stay in the consciousness. I know which artists will fade quickly and those who will be around for a bit. You cannot say INBAL will have a short career. Just listen to what she is putting out into the world and you get an artist who knows what it takes to succeed and what the people want. Hail in Madrid is another fine offering from a young talent who should be in your regular rotation. I will follow her career and see where she goes from here. I know there will be a lot more releases and maybe that sound will expand out. Right now, we have someone who can get the heart skipping and make the mind wander and imagine. I feel there is a chance for INBAL to push the envelope and kick the energy up. That would not mean compromising her sound or going in a Pop direction. What I mean is she has that passion underneath and I can see her tackling big and emphatic themes. Maybe she has the future worked out and I shall not dictate too much. I am excited to see her produce such strong material and go to new plains. Make sure you listen to her latest track and what it is all about. Her E.P. is not too far away and I suggest you get behind that too. Here is an artist who will go all the way and has many more years ahead of her. Hail in Madrid is a fantastic cut from an artist who does thing her own way and stands out as a star of the future. I have been listening to the song a lot and taking new things away each time I hear it. That is a hard feat and achievement at a time when we are still going for songs that are rather aimless and hollow. This will all change in time and artists like INBAL are fighting against easy instinct. If you have not discovered her brilliant work then get behind Hail in Madrid and fall in love with a brilliant…

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AND distinct gem.

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Follow INBAL

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TRACK REVIEW: Clare Bowen - Let It Rain

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Clare Bowen

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Let It Rain

 

9.5/10

 

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The track, Let It Rain, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=146DT8ShGHY

GENRE:

Country

ORIGIN:

Nashville, U.S.A.

RELEASE DATE:

4th May, 2018

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THERE is quite a lot to cover…

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in this review, so I better get down to things. Before I look at Clare Bowen and her latest track; I wanted to speak about a few things. I will talk about Country music and its variation (including a bit about Bob Harris); female icons and artists who stand in the mind; a start in music that deserves time on the screen; a mix of acting and music (and how that can aid songwriting); activism and artists who take a greater stand outside of what they record; a little bit about Nashville and why that made an impact on Bowen – I will end by speaking about her career and where she might head. One has a lot to unpack with regards Clare Bowen and what she is all about. I am a fan of Country music and know it gets a bad rap with many people. There have been accusations the genre is not as diverse as it should be, in terms of race, but the music itself is among the most compelling out there. Whether pure Country or a mixture Pop and Country – listen to artists like Kacey Musgraves... – and you have plenty of diversity and colour. I grew up around artists like Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and Glen Campbell and listened to what they were offering the world. I have not dipped into modern Country too much but I do know there is a U.S./U.K. divide. Here, it is a growing genre but we do not have the stars and artists like Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underworld and Jess Williamson. There is a hot breed coming through and you have cities like Nashville, which I will come to later, that continues to produce these wonders. In Britain, we do not really have the same degree of artists but there is a bubbling Country scene emerging – we do not have the scenery and cities that are set up to accommodate the genre.

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I listen to Clare Bowen and she seems to define new Country music: you can hear the roots showing but there is a blend of other genres and sounds working away. We get it into our heads that Country is all about a certain wardrobe – the big hats, boots and spurs – and the songs are going to be all twanging guitars and something a little cheesy. There is Country music like that but most of it, especially now, is a lot more engaging, appealing and nuanced than you’d realise. Bowen is an artist who has been on the scene for a little bit and has grown in stature. Her voice has that mix of lustrous and vivacious; there are so many different emotions working away and you feel a real connection with her. The music is indelible and incredible and, with an album due at the end of this month, Bowen will gain a lot of new requests and interests. I will nod to the album in the conclusion but I wanted to highlight Bowen as someone who is keeping the bones of Country alive but is modernising its sounds and reaching new audiences. One of the reasons why Country music is getting acclaim and recognition in this country is because of Bob Harris. He is a fan of Clare Bowen and has featured her music on his Bob Harris Country show – lauding her talents and recommending we keep a watch out for her. Harris is a champion of the best new Country music from the U.S. and U.K. I have listened to his show and his warmth and affection – that legendary voice makes everything sound essential! – and get to witness so many eclectic Country artists speak and perform. It is illuminating hearing them discuss their career and background and what goes into their music. I discovered Clare Bowen through that show and, after that, was compelled to find out more. Harris’ patronage of the genre and bringing it to the masses means, in the U.K., there is a lot more visibility and attention given to Country.

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Every time I review a female artist; I get a chance to talk about the scene and how female artists are being perceived. I have just witnessed a documentary, last night, on Aretha Franklin and, whilst I have mentioned her a lot the past few days, it is worth bringing her back to the fold. One reason why that documentary fascinated me – it was a reaction to her death and a narrative of her story – is because of the footage of Franklin performing and the goosebumps elicited; the way she campaigned for civil rights development and gave a voice to so many who didn’t have one. At a time when we all need some guidance and answers; Franklin’s voice and soul – in many ways and definitions – will be a comforting and inspiring tool. She gave a greater voice for female artists and broke down a lot of barriers. Now, in an industry that is open and competitive as ever; I wonder whether people are spending time around an artist and truly getting to know them. I am spotlighting Clare Bowen because she is one of those strong female artists who has that multifaceted appeal and dynamic. She is an activist and has a kind soul; a story and progression into music that compels imagery and imagination; sounds that are exciting yet deep; a rise and popularity that can only see her ascend to the mainstream unchallenged – so many different reasons why she will go a very long way. We have a lot of songwriters out there who are interesting and strong but there are few genuine artists who you want to cherish and follow. Bowen is a performer whose live shows have stunned audiences and gained praise; her recorded music sits in the heart and stays in the mind for a long time after you hear it. She is very striking to behold and has a sense of style and confidence that fuses with unique songwriting and a staggering voice.

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Maybe she will not reach the heights of Aretha Franklin but I can recognise a true star that has a lot to say and can influence a lot of people. There is something about the female voice and the music being made that ensures and resonates harder and longer than that of the men. Maybe it is a natural compassion or a different lyrical approach – a more stirring and distinguished music that is not getting the passion and kudos it warrants. Clare Bowen is a standout among a busy Country scene because she has a sound that is not easy to define and categorise. Inspired by artists like Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash; the young songwriter grew up around icons and splices Country and Folk together. The Australian-born, American-based artist releases her much-anticipated debut album on 31st August and the single, Let It Rain, was debuted on Bob Harris’ show to incredible reaction – so many people getting in touch and saying how much it touched them! You can always tell when an artist is primed for great things and the fact they have that natural and easy ability. Bowen is born to an artist and seems to channel her every being and iota of emotion into every sinew and note. That is what struck me about the Aretha Franklin documentary: she was described, by commentators and fans, as someone who brought the church and religion into every single song. The slightly shy woman became an icon and powerhouse when she came to the stage. I get a feeling that Bowen has a similar attachment to music and its meaning. It is not merely a career to her but a calling and addiction she has been working towards for her entire life. Listen to her music and watch her play and you can sense that desire for connection with the audience and the need to be heard. You, as a result, shiver and sigh at the music and all the power it holds.

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PHOTO CREDIT: @clarembee

The story of Clare Bowen is one that is destined for some sort of T.V. drama. She was struck by music and Country when listening to the Grand Old Opry on the wireless in her grandad’s kitchen. Maybe it was that show that did it but there was a Country lilt to the artist and a curious soul who felt an affinity with a certain voice and type of music. Clearly, right there, she had that love of music that possessed a beguiling beauty and human touch. Her voice coach noted that Country intonation and encouraged it to come through. It was a little while before she worked with heavyweights such as T Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller; a tour of the U.S. and a big role on the American T.V. show, Nashville. I will look at her acting career in a bit but it is those early experiences and the love she felt for older Country stars that drew her to Nashville and what it stands for. The city is a community that recognises its history and is, quite rightly, considered to be the centre of music in the country. It is ironic, talking about Aretha Franklin, that I speak of Nashville and its starring role. Detroit, where Franklin hailed from, was always seen as the epicentre of musical innovation – Motown and Soul through to Garage-Rock that arrived in the 1980s and 1990s. That crown shifted and now, in 2018, one needs to head to Nashville if they want to discover all the best music in the U.S. Residents of New York and Los Angeles might argue against that assumption but Bowen felt a sense of belonging there and has negotiated scary and hard times to get where she is. It has been an interesting life with ups and downs that, according to Bowen, she would not change for the world. It seems like she has found her home and everything is slotting into place. Looking at the way she has come into music and blossomed compels visions of a big T.V. show and biopic.

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I am always fascinated by artists who come from quite ordinary and humble backgrounds and take big leaps. It is brave and scary following your heart and taking on a challenge that could go wrong. Bowen, since those early experiences to Country, has evolved and grown into a true star. It is the acting work and what that has done for her acting career that gets to me. Bowen gained acclaimed for her role in the controversial Australian film, The Combination, and as the lead role in the Sydney Theatre Company’s musical production of Spring Awakening. Around this time, Bowen took the advice of Cate Blanchett and bought a one-way ticket to L.A. In 2012, with a few roles under her belt, she arrived in America and took a bus – not right away – to audition for Nashville. Bowen won the role of a poet-turned-songwriter and found her calling. Bowen struggled with cancer at the age of four and it is a disease that impacted her hugely and the role in Nashville, in many ways, hit home – the relief and delight at getting a role in that show must have been a memorable and evocative time for the songwriter. Playing Scarlet O’Connor in the show, she was required to sing hundreds of songs and play countless instruments. Bowen overcame her fear of microphones and bloomed as a performer. She was once asked if she could play the banjo – ‘probably’ was her response – and drew from her childhood when writing. There are musicians who act as well and I always find they are disciplines that weave inside one another. In the case of Clare Bowen; the once-shy artist gained that role and strengthened as an artist. She has played in the U.K. with her Nashville co-stars and sold out the Royal Albert Hall wowed crowds up and down the country. Bowen has been in Nashville for six years and has stepped away from the role to record her album and ensure it is as good as possible.

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I have reviewed artists who combine performing with acting and feel you can learn so much from acting and bring it to music. Bowen learned disciplines and performance skills she has brought to the live setting and grown in confidence. The fact she has performed hundreds of songs has brought so many emotions from her voice and solidified her foundations. That instrumental talent means the music Bowen plays has more variety and depth than most. She can bring different elements to what she plays and that voice has benefited from acting. The two are natural companions and she can also bring experiences on the road to her acting work. Bowen plays shows between shoots and tours the U.S. with her fellow Nashville actor Charles Esten and her singer-songwriter husband, Brandon Robert Young. I feel the reason Nashville has impacted Bowen’s music is because of the sense of characterisation and narrative. Bowen brings that drama, story and characterisation into the music. She can not only write about herself in new ways – having grown since appearing on the screen and blossoming – but write about other people and characters. The protagonist, whether personal or fictional, has more body, life and meaning. She has learned a lot from her acting roles and sprinkles those skills and memories into the music. In turn, she can bring all the touring experience back to acting and take on new roles. I wonder whether Bowen will embark on more acting and balance the two careers. It is a busy time for her so I can forgive the need to concentrate on music but it seems she will do both. The fact she came to America to pursue acting means one will see her on the screen for a while to come. She was living in rural Australia a year before she came to America and those worlds clashing must have been startling.

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To transition from the detached and quiet lifestyle in Australia and arrived somewhere bustling, busy and moving must have taken its toll. It seems Bowen has embraced the possibilities and opportunities of the U.S. and seems like she has found her place in life. Bowen’s activism and kind spirit is another facet that intrigues me. She is an advocate for kindness and better understanding in the world. Bowen has said she cannot solve all problems and change the world alone but she is determined to take a stand and bring love to the people. That desire for kindness is an impressive and fantastic plaudit that stands her out from her peers. In 2015, she cut her hair and adopted a new image to encourage people to look past the physical. Although Bowen is a stunningly beautiful woman; she wants people to focus on the music and what comes from inside. That act of cutting her hair went viral and gained an enormous reaction. Bowen was startled by it and could hardly get down from the ceiling – an unexpected reaction and moment that has given her so much joy and fresh impetus. There is so much to love about Clare Bowen and so many interesting shades. She is that actor who has enjoyed a varied and successful career. Bowen has performed countless times and toured around the world; she is an activist and natural star that wants to make the world better – an icon that we can hold up at a time when so many artists are bland and ordinary. I am looking forward to seeing the reaction to Bowen’s debut album (it is self-titled) and how it fares. I am sure critics will love it and there will be a lot of interest from fans here – I expect Bob Harris to play a couple of cuts. It is a great time for Bowen and seems like everything in life has been leading to this moment.

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Let It Rain starts with a clap of percussive thunder and a definite sense of meaning. The percussion rolls and claps whilst the heroine comes in with a voice that is sweet and alarming. You have this alluring, sensual and incredibly crystal voice that juxtaposes the hardness of the background and environment. The composition acts as weather and that sense of wet and windy. Our heroine is going to let it rain and see the tears fall down her face. I wonder, at once, what has compelled the emotion and where the story has stemmed from. There is heartache and pain in her heart and it seems like something has impacted her soul. Maybe a relationship has ended and there have been some cross words but the state of the world, and all the pains and horrors we see, have got to her. Look at the song’s video and you’ll see the heroine in the outdoors, curled up and fighting the tears. She heads to a bar and solemnly orders a drink and is letting the emotion wash over her. The percussion gets calmer and employs great rhythm; it accompanies her as she assesses the scenes and tries to piece things together. You get beautiful Country twangs but there is that core of Folk that balances a stern and determined spirit with something more emotive and open. Bowen is going to let those tears come and not fight things. It seems like life in general has poured too much on her lap. She knows things are in a bad place but holding it all back and bottling things is not healthy. The heroine cradles a drink (in the video) and wonders where she heads now. At this stage, I have already drunk in so much and projected my own impressions. I get the feeling there is a romance in her heart; one that has ended and those memories keep coming back to haunt her.

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PHOTO CREDIT: TGMoments

One gets philosophy and pragmatic determination from Bowen. She knows you cannot experience highs without the lows; the levee needs to break and Bowen has got to a point where the pains and bad times have made her a stronger person. Rather than let them get her down, we see someone who is moving on and determined to embrace fresh horizons. Even though the heroine is strong and moving on; there is that pain working away and eliciting some serious revelation. It is rare to see a songwriter so open and positive given what she is facing. The initial percussive storm has mutated into a different beast that mixes with guitars and tenderly supports the heroine. It is firm and strident sound but one that holds a lot of compassion and love. Bowen, in the song’s video, is watching people play poker and is in the bar. She is emotional but watching people express their own emotions and pains. Compassion and positivity come out of everything. In the video, we see the bar’s tip jar is full of dollars – a woman who was playing poker has given her winnings and that, in turn, brings joy to the proprietors. It seems like that moment of light and kindness can make everything different. We see people comfort one another and the more downbeat and teary mood changes to something positive. Bowen takes from those around her and is keen to transition from the heartache and find a more peaceful plateau. Our heroine is not afraid anymore and is letting the rain and water wash over her. She will embrace it and knows there is light and hope ahead of her. Let It Rain is a mandate that projects strength against the tide. It is for anyone who has felt the pressure of life build up and not been able to see a way through. Many of us can relate to what is being sung and where Bowen is coming from. The heroine’s immaculate and emotive performance ensures the song gets into the mind and compels you to keep coming back. There is a distinct Country sound to the song but more of the modern breed – not the stereotyped view we have of Country and what it incorporates. There are few songwriters as strong and engaging as Clare Bowen. She seems to speak for everyone out there and can make the listener feel more positive and hopeful with songs like Let It Rain. If the track is an indication of what the album, Clare Bowen, will sound like; I know there will be a lot of new ears and fans heading her way.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Maarten De Boer for Hulu

From a challenging childhood to embarking on a trip to America and settling into a role in Nashville; it has been a whirlwind of a life that is getting better and better. The Australian-born artist is bringing Country music to new people and making it more accessible. That sounds rather dismissive but there are some who are uninitiated and ignorant to the pleasures of the genre. Bowen mixes Folk into the palette and has gained a lot of skills as an actor. That physicality, discipline and sense of fiction add a beautiful aspect to her music. The fact Bowen has grown in confidence and come out of herself means the writing is a lot more emotive and bold; her stories are much more vivid and deep. You get involved with the music and not only listen to the words and picture what is happening but think of Clare Bowen and how her life has changed. I know there are a lot of great artists out there but Bowen has managed to achieve so much and create such heat – someone who stands aside and is much more fascinating than most of the artists out there. From battling cancer and moving from Australia to being a big T.V. star and launching her eponymous debut; it has been a time of strength, realisation and success. Bowen brings love to people and wants us all to be kinder. She looks out at the world and knows we have a long way to go before there is harmony and grace. Her music, personality and words are helping make things better and getting into many hearts. I am a new convert and am stunned by everything I learn about her. Make sure you get Bowen’s album when it arrives and follow her career. Nashville has given so much to her and seems like somewhere she is drawn to. Maybe those memories of listening to her granddad’s wireless and experiencing those stars booming out – it sparked something inside her and compelled her to follow in their footsteps. Already a big name in the U.S.; I know she has a huge fanbase in the U.K. and will be back here soon. Follow her social media for all the dates but I know Bowen is playing back in Australia and will be there very soon – getting back home and bringing her fresh material to the people. If you have not experienced Clare Bowen and all she holds, make sure you check her out and fall in love…

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WITH a spectacular human.

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Follow Clare Bowen

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TRACK REVIEW: D.A.N - Think About Me

TRACK REVIEW:

 

D.A.N

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Think About Me

 

9.3/10

 

 

The track, Think About Me, is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFDRgTRhVt8

GENRE:

Electronic

ORIGIN:

Derry, Northern Ireland/London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

27th July, 2018

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IN this outing…

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I will look at icons in music and how we need to breed personalities and those that stand out. I will get on to songs about love and relationships and putting a new spin on the format; artists from Northern Ireland why it is a part of the world we should investigate more; getting songs played on the radio and having that widespread and national acclaim; putting something new into the fold and creating compositions that get into the heart; a look at where D.A.N might go and what his future holds. It has been a complex and interesting week for music where we have seen the death of a music icon and the birthday of another one. A lot of mixed emotions have been swirling around and I wonder whether we are going to see a week in music where we have felt that contrast. I am looking at the modern industry and searching around for something that fills the gap or gives guidance. It would be unfair to place all that pressure on D.A.N and ask him to be this big icon and create a legacy right now – that might happen but it is a long way off! I am listening to all the music swirling around and asking if we will see any legends and big names from the current breed. It may seem like an odd point to start on but I wanted to look at music now and how it has changed since decades past. D.A.N is one of those people who brings a lot of emotion and personality to his music. I think there has been something lacking in music lately and I do ask where that next breed of standouts is going to come from. D.A.N is someone who injects so much colour and depth into his sounds. I am not suggesting artists like him will match the heady icons we have noted this week but he is part of a revival and wave of new artists are standing aside.

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It can be rather boring listening to artists who stay the same and have very little innovation. I get into that mindset of hearing the same sort of thing rattling around and it can get a bit weary. Although I maintain modern music can never reach the levels of the older stuff and the artists who have come; there are so many interesting and promising musicians who are spiking my imagination. One of the reasons I am drawn to D.A.N is because he brings the listener into the music and it is a completely immersive experience. Too many tracks are quite cold and sterile and you never feel like you are part of the process. The songwriter has gravitas and passion and you can hear that in every note. Whether he is singing about something heartbreaking or not; you never feel like you are being pushed away and left out. D.A.N is a different force and really gets under the skin. His songs about relationships come from his heart but you never feel like there is cliché and the ordinary coming through. I am a bit weary of those relationship songs that deal with tropes and copy everything out there. D.A.N’s new one, Think About Me, is a hopeful song that looks at the dislocation of a relationship but has positive results. The hero is trying to make himself stronger and find independence after having his heart broken. A lot of love songs work with the negative and you can feel a bit buried and suffocated by what is being said. I like those songs that provide something spirited and stronger when they are being performed. Rather than get sorrowful and down; a track that has that lifted heart and finds something hopeful is a lot better. What you get from Think About Me is a story of facing disappointment and change but using it as an opportunity for betterment and reflection. It is inspiring hearing his latest track and the fact he is not going to let the end of a relationship get the better of him.

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Having that positive approach and being a bit more optimistic given the end of love is a rarity in modern music. I hope D.A.N, following his latest track, finds a new bond and can rebuild from it. It is strange how love forms so much of the creative mindset and how important it is to music. Some of the greatest songs ever written have been about relationships but, for the most part, it is the failure and bleak that forms the majority – how often do we hear about something more rousing and redemptive when it comes to splits?! I will move on now but come back to relationships a bit later down the line. D.A.N is based in London now but is from Derry. It seems odd to focus on Northern Ireland but I feel we overlook parts of the world and often assume everything great comes from the capital. Although I am always keen to champion London music; I am much more interested focusing on other parts of the world and what is happening there. Northern Ireland has been part of the musical landscape for decades now. The Undertones are from Derry and there are a lot of interesting new artists coming from that part of Northern Ireland. I know Hannah Peel has moved to Northern Ireland and it seems there is something about the nation that is attracting artists. London is still a big draw for musicians and provides endless opportunities but, as things get more expensive and city living is not affordable; people are moving away and finding something beneficial elsewhere. Derry is a great part of a nation that has some fantastic venues and local acts. You have The Glassworks and Never Centre and there is a lot of love about the city. Northern Ireland is a fantastic country for music and you cannot ignore what is coming from there. I feel D.A.N moved because he wants to get bigger acclaim and see his music spread but I am interested to see where he comes from.

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Do we spend time looking at music away from London and big cities and find what sort of variety there is available? I have been compelled to investigate Derry but there are other parts of Northern Ireland, including Belfast, with a great scene. Maybe E.I.R.E is a bit more active regarding music but Northern Ireland has so many great artists and venues to investigate. I hope more and more of us take the initiative and look at music from all around the world. As part of my daily activity; I get to discover music from all over the world but I seem to see a pattern emerging. A lot of submissions still come from obvious places and I wonder whether artists from smaller cities and towns get a look in. If D.A.N gets some love for Derry and makes me look over there; I am curious how many other artists there are that are not getting acclaim because the media is obsessed with bigger areas. I will come to a new subject in a second but I would urge everyone to take some time out and investigate the world of music – rather than what is happening in London or obvious places. That may seem like an impossible task but a bit more open-minded approach and study will broaden our horizons and make us all richer. I have seen D.A.N progress from the turmoil of insomnia and emotional worry on 0300 (Human) and arrive at a new avenue. The songwriter progresses with each release and I am excited to see where he goes from here. Think About Me is a much brighter and more vivacious song that sees him work with producer Dave Okumu and mixer Dan Parry. Between them, they have worked with the likes of Jessie Ware and Loyle Carner. That sort of pedigree is nothing to be sniffed at. It shows how much D.A.N’s music is resonating – he can attract that sort of talent and make his songs stronger for it.

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Another good reason why the songwriter is important is because of the acclaim he gets from radio. A lot of artists get airplay on big stations and it is something to be proud of. There is limited space and chance for artists to get their music exposed so, if you can, make something of it. I am one of those people who is keen to get artists publicised and see if I can get them to radio stations. It is a big step if you can get to national radio and the possibilities are endless. If you can have your music featured on local radio then that is important and is a great first step. I am always listening to stations like BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 Music and seeing what is coming through. D.A.N is an artist who has struck the imagination of radio producers and, as such, his music has spread far and wide. There is nothing to say, years from now, he cannot get to big stations in the U.S. and get a lot of tour dates over there. You have to have those ambitions and the fact he has managed to get onto big British radio stations is a huge step. I am excited to see how far he can go and what comes next. I know D.A.N is working on new material and there will be new releases very soon. I am going to keep an eye out and see what happens but I expect more and more radio stations to turn his way and play the music. If you can get your music played on radio and get reaction from it; that is a good way of getting gigs booked and having venue take note. I have heard so many artists get bookings directly from promoters and venue owners hearing their songs on the radio. D.A.N’s latest track has that summertime sound and, whilst it might be too late to have festivals lined up and get involved with that side; I am sure more gigs will come and people will be reacting to his music.

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I am looking ahead for D.A.N myself and wonder whether his music has been put in the hands of American producers and radio stations. I feel his music has such a great sound and would resonate there. Radio is a hugely powerful medium and cannot be underestimated. T.V. is a potent force but how many music shows have we got right now? It is rather sad there is nothing specifically set up for modern musicians. Many have to perform on cooking shows and non-music outlets and radio, in so many ways, is the only place to hear artists. I wonder whether we will see a music T.V. show come through and whether anything will change in that regard. My point is how important radio is and its power. I am pleased D.A.N’s music has struck the ear of stations and he is gaining a lot of new fans. He has seen his music played on T.V. shows like Made in Chelsea and BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 Music have spun his material. It is great seeing the Northern Ireland artist getting acclaim on T.V. and radio. Where does he go from here in terms of ambition? I will speak more about that in the conclusion but I feel D.A.N can go a very long way. Not only does the songwriter have a popularity and base on radio but his evolution marks him out as an artist with endurance. I have been speaking about icons and how few modern artists can match their brilliance but the industry is so much harder now. Artists like D.A.N have exceptional qualities and I feel he is someone who will remain for many years to come. I keep mentioning icons and classic music is because of the shifts in music and how we view it. I love modern music but so many artists are not putting effort in regarding composition and depth. D.A.N expends so much of himself into every track and you get a window into a unique musician who wants to inspire the next generation.

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It would be easy for D.A.N to repeat himself and not stretch his ambitions between releases. I have seen many artists discover a popular sound and then not expand from there. What we get is a rather samey and predictable career where you cannot really distinguish songs from one another. D.A.N can talk about love and its complexities but is always engaging and new. I loved when he sung about insomnia and emotional turmoil – not in a cruel way – because he managed to splice a striking core with a beautiful and soulful sound. Now, when recounting a break-up and coming out the other side more positive and bright; he injects something a lot more rousing and sparkling into the mix. It is a leap from 0300 (Human) but still sounds like him. What I am noticing from his music is how much confidence is coming in. I am not saying his early sounds and timid but it seems, with every new release, that spirit is raising and he is getting bolder. I mentioned how he is working on other material and I am excited to see what form that takes. Whether there is an album or E.P. arriving; whether he has summery tunes or a mix of emotions…it is going to be interesting discovering what comes from him. Not many artists are able to achieve such leaps and evolutions between releases and keep their identity intact. The songwriter is vibing from the attention and acclaim and providing the music world with some brilliant sounds. Let me look at Think About Me and a current release that is already turning heads and getting some big love.

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The hero starts the song by looking at the same old streets and investigating those old haunts. There is a patter of drums and something brooding working away. The composition is quite minimal and things are fairly tense to start with. The hero is looking at the immediate split and is walking through a street of memories. He gave the heroine space and time and it seems, regardless of how open he was, things were not going to last. I am already in the corner of D.A.N and wondering whether he will recover quickly. The early stages see the hero look at the old sights and places he used to visit with her. It has been a touch split and it is inevitable he would go back to where the two of them used to visit. You get vivid scenes and sights come through in his vocals. The composition is fairly light and that minimal approach allows the listener to paint their own thoughts. You are in the song itself and walking alongside D.A.N. Although there is that initial sense of remembrance and looking back; he is pining forward and what is coming next. The hero knows the girl is thinking of him and is still searching for answers. It would be unhealthy transitioning from a relationship and not wanting to know where things went wrong. As opposed those who wallow and let break-up eat them and haunt their mind; this is a more productive and pragmatic reaction to a bond that had been showing cracks for a bit. You get words where the author is talking to his heroine – she must think of him and knows there is something in her heart – but the music elevates and shines. The beats get brighter and lighter and electronics fuse in. It is a galloping and summery jam that gets into the heart and makes it beat faster.

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PHOTO CREDITCora Hamilton

Even if the early moments are a bit more downbeat and mournful; that soon changes to a more dynamic and spirited thing. Think About You is a feeling the spark is still there and everything is not lost. You can imagine the two of them going their own way and still holding on to the great times. I am not sure what caused them to end but it seems like everything is not lost. The hero is not yearning or begging for another chance: his mind is looking to rebuild and look at life in the future. Getting catchier and picking up rhythm; you are immersed in the song and captured by its hooks and flair. I wonder whether the song is taken from two sides of the conversation. It is obvious our hero is still fascinated by the heroine and does not want to completely lose sight of her. Those good times are in his mind and it is vital he keeps hold of them. You do not get the sense the songwriter is holding onto a raft and looking for salvation. He is determined to move through and find something positive on the other side. It is impossible to forget about the song and get it out of the head. You are stunned by the sunny notes and big chorus; the way the hero projects a positive outlook and is not letting things getting him down. In the midst of everything; I am thinking about the way he is holding onto the relationship and those memories. Maybe it is hard to completely forget and relinquish that grasp. You feel for him and wonder whether there is any chance of reconciliation. Rather than try and repair something that is struggling; I feel the hero is moving on and looking to find something on the other side.

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Many songwriters want to move on after love ends and that can be a really hard thing. The hero has accepted the best times are done but there seem to be no regrets and blame. It is easy to bond with a song like Think About Me because it puts you in a better frame of mind and gets your body moving. I predict it will be a big hit for him and prove popular with T.V. producers and radio stations. Many people are reacting to it already and there is every evidence to suggest he will have a big smash on his hands. You do not get many songwriters who can create very different songs and keep their own identity solid and clear. D.A.N does not want to repeat himself and be seen as a formulaic artist. He is making big waves and pushing himself with every track. I am excited to see other material and get a sense of where he is now. It is hard to get a real sense of which songwriters are worth a shout and who can remain the course. Such is the mass of artists available online, it is hard working through them all and making predictions. I am sure D.A.N will last for many more years and continue to do great things. The Derry artist is on a hot streak right now and seems to have his sights firmly set. Make sure you hear Think About Me and get involved with a brilliant creative revelation. There are not many artists out there like D.A.N. He gets into every part of the body and mind and makes you think and feel more deeply. In an age where there is so much meagre and predictable music; it is nice finding artists who go much further and have much more substance.

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I have investigated D.A.N before and am always blown away by his talent and instinct. He is an artist that seems to speak for everyone but does not have any likeminded peers. He can address love and its perils but add something hopeful and positive to the plate. I think he has a bright future and can go on to create a lot more great songs. I have been talking about icons and modern music vs. the past for a while – there is a point behind it. Whilst it is true it is near-impossible to see any of the new breed rise to iconic levels and stay in our hearts for decades; the climate has changed and things are very different. Competition is fierce and, rather than look for idols and icons; I feel applauding those who can survive and continue to find focus is much more helpful. D.A.N is a modern artist who can rank alongside the most promising of the mainstream. He is a multi-talented writer and musician and seems get stronger with everything he brings out. I am not sure when further material is out but you will have to keep an eye out for his social media channels. He will keep fans abreast and it will be excited where he heads next. There is nothing to suggest D.A.N cannot release a series of albums that will get into the critical mind and inspire new musicians. He stands aside from what is out there and wants to endure and remain. One gets something deep, engrossing and fascinating with Think About Me. The track, on paper, seems like an average and everyday workout regarding moving on from broken love and finding hope. When you hear the song come alive; there is so much working away that you are taken somewhere special. I have been a bit down regarding new artists and what they are about but there are some fantastic musicians who are showing great endeavour. D.A.N’s new music makes me think of Derry and Northern Ireland as a whole. It is a fabulous nation that is housing some remarkable new talent. Although the artist has located to London and is finding chances here; I hear his home running through the musical blood and it makes me want to investigate the music of Northern Ireland a lot more. If you have not discovered D.A.N and feel he is going to be your normal and predictable songwriter then give his sounds a spin and discover something wonderful. I shall end this here but I want people to investigate the rising star and find out why so many radio stations and media sources are promoting his music. Even if a bad relationship has influenced his latest track; it is the positives and possibilities that come from that fuelling his mind. The young artist is not getting down and letting things get on top of him. I am sure there are many more years (maybe decades) in the tank for D.A.N. He has that desire and heart that many songwriters do not possess. Follow the fantastic songwriter and see where he heads next. 2018 has been a great year for him but I feel next year will…

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TAKE him to a new level.

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Follow D.A.N

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