Gig Review: Skinny Lister, 3rd May, Nottingham & 4th May, Cambridge, 2017 @SkinnyLister

Skinny Lister – Devil Heart Fight Tour with Support from AJJ band

Rescue Rooms – Nottingham 03-05-17 and The Junction – Cambridge 04-05-17

Written by Martin Tillyer, Photos by Martin Tillyer, Edited by Fi Stimpson.

The first time I saw and heard Skinny Lister was as support for Frank Turner along with Will Varley in November 2015 at Rock City – these artists are all on the Xtra Mile Recordings label.

Since that date, I have also had the pleasure of seeing them headlining on the first part of the Devil Heart Fight tour in 2016 and then as support for the Dropkick Murphys in London in January 2017.

As soon as the dates for this year’s UK tour were announced I ordered tickets for both of the shows being reviewed here, from this you can gather that yes I do like their music and I also had an idea what to expect from them.

The support – The AJJ Band from America – were new to me, having only seen one video clip on YouTube. “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” comes over as a very quirky American pop type track. I have to say that having now seen them live they are so much more than that.

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The Rescue Room gig was sold out and the room was nearly full for the AJJ set, some of crowd had obviously seen them before and knew what their shows were like.

As they came out it was obvious that there was kit sharing going on as the drummer was using Skinny Lister’s kit. I think that this was a good thing as they are then not forced to be cramped up onto a stage and left with no room to move and also allows for a quicker change over between bands, some of the more well-known bands should perhaps take note of this.

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AJJ are touring as a four-piece band and start off with “Cody’s Theme”, the first track on their latest album “The Bible 2” which soon had the crowd moving around. They then played through a mixture of back catalogue and new songs that varied in pace, the slower numbers having the crowd listening to the thoughtful lyrics which showed the band’s observations on life. They are definitely a tight band and have the audience hooked; the energy they show is highlighted near the end of the set with the singer doing forward rolls around the stage. Anyone that likes Will Varley and Beans on Toast would definitely enjoy this and I know I will go to see them on their next tour.

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The room fills up to capacity as we wait for Skinny Lister to come on with most having already seen them before; it was good to see people in the crowd that we had met previously at the Bodega gig last October, it feels like a big friendly party is about to start and it does with as they come onto stage to start off with “Wanted“ the first track off Devil Heart Fight, a real upbeat punchy number. They then proceed in the usual Skinny Lister party mode through tracks take from all of their Album releases with the majority of them from Devil Heart Fight (9), Down on Deptford Broadway (7) and Forge and Flagon (6).

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Mid set they fitted in a new song “Thing Like That” which still has the typical Skinny punch too it, could well get to be a crowd favourite once more people know the lyrics.

There is a variance in pace as they slow down for some very soulful vocals from Lorna on tracks like “Bonny Away” sounding reminiscent of Sandy Denny.

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Skinny Lister certainly entertain with a flagon of rum passed out among the audience (sad to say that the Flagon had disappeared at the end of the night).

Party George, Lorna and Max’s dad, was in the crowd and Lorna set off to see him going crowd surfing in a dress, she certainly is one very brave lady.

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Scott Milsom the double bass player is certainly fitting in well having replaced Michael Camino – although I will miss his crowd surfing with the double bass.

They ended up with a three-track encore “Beat it from the chest”, “Hamburg Drunk” and “Six whiskies”, a track that should be played at the end of the night in any pub (it is on the playlist in my local).

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It was interesting to go to The Junction 2 in Cambridge to see both bands the following night to see if they could party just as hard, this gig wasn’t sold out, this was possibly because of the band Alabama 3 playing in The Junction 1 next door.

Both bands produced sets that were of the same excellent quality as the night before with some variance in the setlist order. Skinny Lister had to resort to sending a bottle of rum into the audience due to the replacement flagon they had obtained needing to be cleaned out before it can be used.

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The Skinny Lister audience is growing and I think they will soon be having to tour in larger venues, take your chance to see them in these smaller more intimate ones whilst you still can.

Both bands are very approachable and always spend time talking to the audience after the show, helping out with the merchandise sales and signing CD covers

Skinny Lister are a really hard working band and will be appearing at various festivals over the summer and continuing the Devil Heart Fight tour into Europe later in the year.

They are definitely worth seeing live – go to see them if you get the chance.

http://www.skinnylister.com/

Gig Review: Hunter and the Bear, Voodoo Lounge, Stamford, 17th Feb 2017 @HunterTheBear

Being in a band is a difficult business right now. Gone are the days of going to your local record store, putting on a pair of headphones, hearing something new that you like and buying the album straight away. Bands generally rely on social media to get the word out there, and listeners now expect to get their music for nothing. Yes, there are those of us who still buy albums – I personally like to have something tangible as well as supporting hard-working bands financially.

Of course, a vital market to get interested is teens – they are the future of music in every way and have been since the 50s when “the teenager” really started to exist. You know what I mean.

It was, therefore an absolute pleasure to go to a gig and see a gaggle of teens standing at the front, adoringly watching their favourite band’s every move and singing every syllable.

I am talking about Hunter and the Bear when they appeared at Voodoo Lounge in Stamford on Friday 17th February 2017 as a warm-up gig in the run-up to the tour for their debut album “The Paper Heart”. Of course, their audience wasn’t limited to the youth of today – there was a great mix of people who seemingly followed the guys around the country! That, for me, is the mark of a band who has something a little bit special…

Supporting was Anglo-American singer/guitarist Pembroke Tenneson. He had immediate stage presence and a smile that could melt the iciest of hearts. He proceeded into a lovely acoustic set of self-written songs and covers, largely favouring Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles – a big thumbs up from me!

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Lively, cheeky and engaging, he had the audience on his side within seconds, especially his two lady hecklers who I think had more on their mind than just the music! I will be seeing Tenneson again – he’s got a fair few gigs listed for this year already, so urge you to do the same!

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Pembroke Tenneson’s setlist:

World Keep on Turning (Fleetwood Mac)

Look Out Below

Black Books

Good to Me

Oh Well/Heartbreak Hotel (Fleetwood Mac, Elvis)

Blackbird (Beatles)

The Fracking Song

Watch Your Man

Green River/Born on the Bayou (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Coffee

Bipolar Love

I Believe in Miracles (Hot Chocolate)

A Day in the Life (The Beatles)

Just moments later, Hunter and the Bear launched themselves onto the stage in a pleasingly rock n’ roll fashion! The entire set was high energy, slowing down only slightly to catch their breath during their calmer-paced tracks.

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This band has been compared to popular folk bands such as Of Monsters and Men and Mumford and Sons, but for me the guys have a much more rock edge to their style, complete with a solo from each band member (Chris’ bass solo was most excellent…!) and definitely the image to go with it. Comparisons are way too freely made on this occasion methinks!

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I couldn’t stop smiling during the entire gig – the band’s energy was infectious and the effect on the crowd was that they were mentally tethered to the guys and their music throughout.

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Hunter and the Bear are garnering a reputation a lot of bands these days would be envious of. They’ve got a following, they’ve got charisma and attitude, they’ve got awesome tunes, they’re getting gigs at great venues and most of all they’re selling tickets and hopefully albums aplenty.

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I came away from the gig tonight feeling happier than I have in ages and with a brand new favourite band in my heart.

Hunter and the Bear’s setlist:

Who’s Gonna Hear You

Hologram

Hey, My Love

Renegade

Evelyn

Burn it Up

Blood Red Skies

Warrior

I Am What I Am

You Can Talk

D.R.K.

Oh, Daisy

Won’t You Ever Come Home

Like a Runaway

Paper Heart

Nickajack

My advice? Get along and see them on their upcoming tour before they’re playing venues where you can’t get close anymore!

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Album Review: Scott Dean – “Neon” @scottdean3

Reviewed by Zoe

Scott Dean – “Neon” is available now on iTunes

Track Listing:

1.Intro

2.Radio

3.Break Me

4.The City Falls

5.The Puzzle

6.Lucky Seven

7.Neon

8.Better Keep Today

9.Convince Me

10.Cold Sea

11.Neon (Remix)

“Neon” from London based Rock/Indie solo acoustic artist Scott Dean is a little gem of an album that definitely warrants a second and third listen.

Short and sweet, with two of the songs being short instrumental offering, at first visit, “Neon” is easy on the ear (although please don’t worry, I am not implying this is “Easy Listening”).

Nothing too edgy or niche, the overall sound and tone of the album will appeal to a broad range of listeners and is instantly likeable – as a musician Dean is clearly very accomplished – beautiful, delicate acoustic guitar, smooth and polished like some lovely musical pebble, and Dean’s vocals are the right blend of melodic with just a touch of huskiness. I was put in mind of Grant Nicholas or, dare I say it, a less grating Daniel Powter.

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However, if you dig a little deeper you’ll discover that lyrically there is a thoughtfulness but also some grit, and darker elements.

The songs, for the most part, have definite narratives and they are more pained, more pensive than the largely major chord progressions would imply – somehow managing to be both dark and simultaneously elevating, and at times cinematic.

“The City Falls”, an homage to the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises”, is a great example of how Dean successfully manages to set a scene with his winning combination of moody, atmospheric sounds teamed with a strong storytelling vocal line.

Across the album, Dean deals with some rather hefty themes like betrayal and addiction (some touched a personal note with me – which I believe is always the mark of a good lyricist) as well as the perennial songwriter’s favourites of love and pain.

It’s clear to hear that mixing and producing this album has been a labour of love, it’s well thought out and measured; yet you sense fun was had in the making (I had a little giggle at the fleeting “guest appearance” from Craig David at the start of “Radio” – I do hope that was the intention!). Particular highlights for me are the delicate touch of the backing vocals on “The City Falls” and the driving guitar parts on “Radio” which has a real forward momentum.

The album has a couple of musical interludes – firstly the appropriately named “Intro” which had a deliciously growling bass line that personally I was little disappointed was not developed further in the album (maybe a request for the next release Scott?). It reminded me a lot of the start of “This Garden” by The Levellers, with a hint of jungle (geographical jungle – not “Massive”). The second is a bluesy little offering, “The Puzzle”. Definitely showing my age now, but it felt like the natural division between side A and side B where you would turn your cassette over (ask your Mum kids), a musical intermission that sounds almost experimental but also a chance for Dean to showcase his not inconsiderable skills.

There are a couple of stand-out tracks on Neon for me personally, the opening guitar of “Better Keep Today” honestly gave me goose bumps, haunting and atmospheric and well, just lovely. “Neon” itself is also a bit of an ear worm, the lyrics are deliciously dark (“lock me up now, give me the blue pill”) and the way the song builds works so well. Just incredibly well thought out.

Style wise, I heard smatterings of Dave Grohl’s more acoustic offerings, a heavy dose of Feeder melody wise (in particular “Lucky Seven”), the gentleness and subtlety vocally of Radiohead and some of the quirky sound injections of Kula Shaker – certainly a late 90s influence permeates.

Delicately striated, there is layer upon layer to each song; real depth, but despite that you can just tell that they would all work just as well completely stripped back in a one man and his guitar setting, which to me is always the real test of a good song, that it still works without the bells and whistles – the vocal and guitar are the real stars of this show. Listen to the way the less is more of “Better Keep Today” stands shoulder to shoulder with the more involved production on say, “Neon” or “Convince Me”.

In short this is a cracking collection, lovers of real quality song-writing and the clarity and depth of acoustic guitar (with all the trimmings of course) should definitely be adding “Neon” to their music libraries. And myself, I will be looking out for the next live gig to test my “just as good naked” theory….

Album Review: The Virginmarys – Divides (reviewed by Steve Rodriguez) @thevirginmarys

The Virginmarys – Divides – review written by Steve Rodriguez

1. Push the Pedal

2. For you my Love

3. Halo in her Silhouette

4. Free to do Whatever they Say

5. I Wanna Take You Home

6. Walk in my Shoes

7. Kill the Messenger

8. Into Dust

9. Moths to a Flame

10. Falling Down

11. Motherless Land

12. Living in my Peace

The Macclesfield trio’s second studio album to follow up 2013’s King Of Conflict. Divides was released 6th May 2016 on Cooking Vinyl.

The Virginmarys are: Ally Dickaty (lead vocals / guitar), Danny Dolan (drums / backing vocals), and newly recruited Ross (bass / backing vocals).

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It’s all too easy to pigeonhole bands into a particular genre and if you can’t find one then you make one up. Nu Metal, Punk Pop, Hardcore, Industrial . . . . etc. etc. For The Virginmarys, you could try and stick them in a category, or make one up, or just accept that they really do have a bit of everything going on and are very very good at doing it.

Push the Pedal kicks off this album and on the sound of the dirty bass intro you start to think it’s 1992 and Layne Staley is still alive, then, the drums and a vocal echo enters the fray and you’re in 1996 and listening to a new Oasis track. Precisely why this band can’t, and shouldn’t be, categorised. It’s a powerful guitar drum and bass driven track, but what would you expect from a 3 piece, and Ally gives it the rasping, powerful vocal treatment it deserves. In a very unsubtle way, it says play this album on 11 . . .

For you my Love follows where Push the Pedal left off but is more of an instant hit with an almost Flea/Frusciante intro and a Stipe vocal over the top. This quickly gives way to the more familiar vocal sound and again it’s a powerful riff driven track that keeps the album driving forward purposefully.

Halo in Her Silhouette is the most sing-a-long track so far and you just knew that chorus line was going to repeat in that tried and tested late 70’s punk style. Don’t be lead down a path of thinking this band are a 3 piece punk outfit pulling a 3 chord trick from their sleeve at every opportunity though, there’s a lot more going on here and it’s another affirmation that this band cover pretty much all musical bases.

More punk style sounds ensue on the next track, Free To Do Whatever They Say, with a snarling, spitting vocal and guitar fuelled intro that builds into a bridge and chorus with some perfectly placed repeated backing vocals. It’s a chant, a probable crowd pleaser and again has all the energy that the first 3 tracks set the bar for.

The energy doesn’t subside on I Wanna Take You Home, but things do slow down a little here and enables Walk In My Shoes to follow with it’s more sombre and deep feel. The piano comes to the fore much more prominently this time and compliments the almost haunting backing vocals perfectly.

Kill The Messenger keeps the keyboard but layers of distorted guitar and bass ride over the top and makes for a Pink Floyd-esque sound with it’s low chord changes ebbing and flowing through the chorus line of the song.

Although there’s a hell of a lot of energy in this album the band resist the obvious temptation to be more crude with their language and instead express their lyrics in a much more subtle and well crafted fashion. It’s a surprise then when Into Dust starts with the F word in the second line. This is not the recurring theme of the song however and it quickly develops into familiar expressive and well crafted lyrics.

Moths To A Flame is arguably the album’s standout track and sometimes it’s easy to forget this is a three piece band when you hear such a vast, complex sound all rolled into one song. It has emotion and expression in abundance and this carries throughout the whole track from the Kings Of Leon sounding intro to the Biffy Clyro-esque ending.

Sandwiched between Into Dust and Falling Down, Moths To A Flame would possibly sound completely out of place on any other album, but, as The Virginmarys have so many influences to draw from it’s no surprise that Falling Down starts with a vocal that’s everything Mick Jones in both its sound and delivery. More proof that not only the band have a range of sounds but Ally is equally adept at displaying his own vocal range to suit the songs, lines, syllables . . .

Motherless Land is a nostalgic trip back to the early 80’s and if John Cougar or Springsteen had written this one then we wouldn’t bat an eyelid, although neither do we here and instead get caught up in the story of the song, listening intently as it builds and builds to a crescendo, a well placed clean sounding guitar solo and a very fitting sudden ending.

If Moths To A Flame was arguably the album’s standout track then it would be fighting with Living In My Peace for the title, and it would be a closely run thing. The album’s closing track, draws on everything that’s gone before, energy, haunting backing vocals, a big vocal range, guitar driven melodies with pounding drum fills and beats and an emotive, expansive and atmospheric crescendo. It typically rises and rises then drops in that well fitting sudden ending to leave you thinking about what may have happened next.

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If you’re a fan of music, listen to this album because I really think there’s something here for everyone and you won’t be disappointed. The north west seems to give us a lot of very respectable bands and The Virginmarys although not the typical shoe-gazing, jangly-sounding 60’s influenced mods that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from this neck of the woods, they can undoubtedly claim to be part of the club if they wanted to, but then again they’re likely to be perfectly at home being slightly different, and not in any way pigeonholed . . .

* Photos are from Ally’s recent gig in Peterborough as part of The Virginmarys’ People Help the People tour in aid of local food banks. Photos taken by and copyright to Fi Stimpson.

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Album Review by @SteveRodz :Ebbot Lundberg and the Indigo Children – For the Ages to Come @WebbotEbbot

Ebbot Lundberg and the Indigo Children – For the Ages to Come

Words: Steve Rodriguez

Release Date: Friday 2nd December 16

Track listing:

  1. For the Ages to Come
  2. Backdrop People
  3. Beneath the Winding Waterway
  4. In Subliminal Clouds
  5. Drowning in a Wishing Well
  6. Don’t Blow Your Mind
  7. I See Forever
  8. Calling from Heaven
  9. Little Big Thing
  10. To Be continued

The former The Soundtrack of Our Lives (TSOOL) and Union Carbide frontman teams up with The Indigo Children and serves us up some 60s psych-pop / rock with a small dose of 70s prog. This is an album that takes you on a musical journey full of jangling guitars and lilting melodies, wakes you up half way, and then slowly calms you down again with the most perfect vocals and expertly crafted songs.

Ebbot Lundberg has been away a little while but this is now proof that he hasn’t disappeared and is still doing what he does best.

The 60s psychedelia comes to the fore instantly on the album’s opening and title track. For the Ages to Come is a Syd Barrett Pink Floydesque offering (Arnold Layne and See Emily Play immediately spring to mind here) and shows just how versatile Lundberg’s vocals can be. In fact, there is probably no coincidence that “Arnold Layne” has been a regular on his live set over the past couple of years and by all accounts has had a very raucous make-over, and just as raucous a reception.

Backdrop People and Beneath the Winding Waterway are next up and both are a familiar sound as more 60s psych and vocal harmony combine to great effect leading you into the calm and melodic In Subliminal Clouds – chock full of instrumental interludes where a new sound seems to join the party each time.

Drowning in a Wishing Well blends acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies and is nowhere near as dark as the title would suggest. In fact, quite the opposite thanks to the brass and upbeat drums on the chorus giving it a positive and meaningful stride onwards into the albums main body.

The tracks on For the Ages to Come are arguably only subtly, but adequately different, until now when Don’t Blow Your Mind shatters the calmness with a huge guitar driven 70s style rock riff and vocal and almost prog-rock soloing. This is the stand out track here and will satisfy those of you that like your music to have a more raucous nature.

I See Forever is a more experimental affair and almost haunting with its synth undertone and repeating of the song title lyrics, and it is every bit as encapsulating and moving as those before.

The musical journey then continues its calmness once more to its more recognisable state on Calling from Heaven and Little Big Thing where the 60s psych pop and vocal harmonies are here again in abundance.

Closing track To Be Continued begins with a plugged in, but not over-powering guitar melody that more accessible 60s influenced pop / indie artists Lee Mavers and James Skelly would have been proud of; and Ebbot’s vocals blend in seamlessly over the top catching your ear instantly. It rises to a crescendo of bass, guitar, piano and an almost marching drum beat.

For the Ages to Come is an album that creates an expansive and complex sound with perfectly matching vocals and production and makes you really want to listen. Fans of TSOOL would have undoubtedly been disappointed when they called it a day, but if this is the soundtrack of Ebbot Lundberg for the foreseeable future then I would guess it is a more than adequate trade-off.

Upcoming shows:

01/12 (DE) Bielefeld Forum

02/12 (DE) Hamburg, Molotow/Skybar – TICKETS HERE 

03/12 (NL) Nijmegen, Marleyn, Doornrossje – TICKETS HERE

04/12 (UK) London, Upstairs at the Garage – TICKETS HERE

Song Review by @RussellBarker12 : Úyanga Bold – Machiavelli @uyangaboldmusic

Úyanga Bold – Machiavelli

Words by Russell Barker

Machiavelli is a veritable swirling melting pot of many influences, sounds and rhythms. It’s the latest song from the multi-talented Mongolian performer Úyanga Bold. Not only does she sing on this, she wrote it and plays guitar, synth and the Turkish Cümbüş on it. That’s before we’ve even mentioned the co-producing and co-engineering credits.

It has the glacial presence of Curve, with Úyanga’s voice alternating between sassy and cutesy. Machiavelli is brimming with eighties influences, infused with her native Mongolian sounds.

The music is a different take on the old quiet, loud, quiet, by dropping in and out before gradually building back up to the explosive chorus. The chorus itself is reminiscent of the sensual style of Lady Gaga. Whether this could crossover into the mainstream remains to be seen, it is certainly catchy enough, but is also rather leftfield. Its pop music, but not as we know it. Something to make you groove, but also to make you think.

Album Review: The Yacht Club – “Fall” @bethshalomrecs

Words by Zoe Spencer

Introspective and melancholic, the EP “Fall” from London based The Yacht Club, is deeply cathartic – the musical equivalent of grabbing a quilt, taking the phone off the hook and having a damn good cry.

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Written in just a month by Marcus Gooda, and a change in pace from previous more toe-tapping releases, the record is full of emotion but also some very skilful composing, with band members pitching in in all areas, showing what a versatile lot they are.

Gooda’s vocals have a clarity that sits above the music akin to Death Cab for Cutie or Stephen Fretwell, but are very ably complemented with the multi-layering of instruments that is faintly reminiscent of Jose Gonzales’ Heartbeats or an unplugged Zero 7.

If you like your hearts bleeding but your music lovely, you won’t be disappointed.

Mouth of the Beast

The EP opens with Mouth of the Beast; arguably the most accomplished and rounded track on the EP. Lush layers that grow and swell and ebb with the gorgeous pulse of the drums, the subtle, only just there, harmonies and delicate acoustic guitar.

Afraid of the Dark

Slower and with less peaks and troughs than Mouth of the Beast, Afraid of the Dark is lulling and melancholic; the lack of drums, and lingering guitars and piano combined with the resonant vocals give the whole track an ethereal feel.

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The most stripped back of the songs of the EP, the opening phrases and lyrics bring home that this is a very personal record. On first listen, it was so personal they had me wanting to “look away”, there is something about putting names into songs that makes it harder to lose yourself in the music – how can you pretend this song is speaking to you, about you, if you don’t know a “Jessie” or a “Kathryn?” It was the musical equivalent of watching a stranger cry over a carton of milk in the supermarket – uncomfortable but strangely fascinating – however it is this kind of emotional nakedness that carries the rest of the EP through. They are making an art form of fragility and discomfort so to complain that an emo record is “too much” seems beside the point. That said, when the naivety of the vocal is teamed with the sophistication of beautiful piano accents and finger picked guitar, it becomes a more lovely thing.

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The final track is atmospheric and intimate. The lyrics drip with metaphor and analogy but the musical interludes have just as much to say – haunting and moody. The backing vocals in particular are beautifully done. Fans of Joanna Newsome’s chilling lilting guitar will find a lot to like here.

The Yacht Club’s newest offering is well worth a listen, and a wallow in the sadness.

Release date 25th November 2016 – you can buy the cassette here.

Beth Shalom Records

Marcus Gooda: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards

Alexander Esp: Drums, Keyboards, Piano, Percussion

Sam Rose: Guitar Jack Holland: Backing Vocals

Album Review: Soviet Films – “Cetacean”@sovietfilmsband #NewMusic #MusicIsEverything

It’s been over two years since Soviet Films released their debut album, “Victory Songs”. At last they’re back with their second album, “Cetacean” (definition: an aquatic, mainly marine mammal eg a whale or dolphin).

In the past couple of years or so, these guys seem to have been working on a stronger sound. They’ve also had a bit of a band re-shuffle, with Andy now on bass and Lee on guitar.

The album kicks off with a lovely, dynamic instrumental track, “The Flow” – it made me think they’d had a serious change of direction, until the next tune commenced…

“Kraken” brings the mix of brash, occasionally nu-metal style vocals and layered melody that is so reminiscent of the previous record. I’m listening on an afternoon overtaken by a particularly impressive thunderstorm, and it fits the mood perfectly.

Next up is “Barrow, AK”. This song provides a multitude of contrasting sounds which enthral the ears and vocal harmonies galore. I love this band’s penchant for what they describe as random time signatures – that’s not easy to pull off, but to me it sounds excellent.

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“Brace Position” is a bit more of a tough sell, but is guitar rich and has a tight sound. I like the little guitar nuances about half way through the track, but for me the rest of the album demonstrates more complexities which I think suit their sound more.

The penultimate song, “Loomings”, is one of those songs that pleasantly washes over the listener. It has a more mellow feel than the rest of the album, despite the heavier elements of the tune.

Instrumental track “The Ebb” completes the album beautifully and accurately showcases what Soviet Films are all about. It also leaves an impression that there is much more to come.

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With just the right levels of wandering into new territory and staying in a familiar place, I’m looking forward to hearing what they do during the next moves in their journey.

Soviet Films are:

Mud – Vocals/Guitar
Lee – Guitar/Vocals
Peter – Drums/Vocals
Andy – Bass

You can buy the album on Bandcamp or iTunes and follow the band’s goings on using Twitter and Facebook.

Album Review: Hey! Hello! – “Hey! Hello! Too!”@HeyHelloBand

Hey! Hello! is one of the ever prolific Ginger Wildheart’s musical projects. By no means a one trick pony, with this band Ginger focuses on spirited, lively power pop-rock. Their eponymous debut album displayed this perfectly, and they’re now following up with album number two, “Hey! Hello! Too!”, due for release on 23rd September on the Round Records label*.

The band themselves have this to say about their musical offerings…

‘Music is the sound of feelings, and we are all the creators of our own feelings – positive or negative. Hey! Hello! choose to be positive, therefore our music reflects that intention. This is the sound of joy.’

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The album kicks off with “All Around the World”. Catchy from the onset, I have a feeling this song is going to be doing the rounds in my head for quite some time to come…! Feverish energy and rising vocals make this the most rousing, uplifting tune on the album and gets you into the zone for what is to come.

Hey! Hello! have the ability to make a cheerful song out of negativity, confusion and unhappiness. “This Ain’t Love”, “Can’t Stand You (Hurting Me) and “Let’s Get Emotional” all do exactly that, and I’m sure those lyrics will resonate with many people – I can certainly identify with it from past relationships!

The relentless vim and verve continues throughout the whole album – the alternative, erm, romance of “Glass of Champagne”, the brilliantly humorous “Kids” (“creepy little motherfuckers”) and the uncontainable “Forever Young” (which caused the inevitable head nod) all link faultlessly together, and lead perfectly into the latter half of the album.

“Loud and Fucking Clear” is, for me, the front-runner of the album. The vocals are strongest on this song, and we are treated to striding guitar riffs and determined, throbbing drums galore. I entirely agree with the sentiment within the lyrics, too – “so hold on tight, we’re getting through my dear”.

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The next two tracks, “History of Lovers” and “Body Parts” provide an unsullied, spunky and provoking lead up to the end of the album, and keeps the listeners’ attention at a point when it can so easily drift off.

“Perfect” is the ideal album closer, as it makes you want the album to carry on, thereby encouraging you to press play and start it all over again… I was more than happy to do exactly that!

This isn’t a grower of an album; it’s already fully formed. I just hope it retains its appeal and doesn’t become a fader – it’s certainly going to be on my personal playlist for the foreseeable future!

Hey! Hello! is – Ai (drums/vocals) – the calm one, Toshi (bass) – the resourceful one, The Rev (lead guitar) – the cool one and Ginger (rhythm guitar/vocals) – the wise one.

Hey! Hello! Too!  track listing:

  1. All Around the World
  2. This Ain’t Love
  3. Glass of Champagne
  4. Kids
  5. Forever Young
  6. Loud and Fucking Clear
  7. Can’t Stand You (Hurting Me)
  8. Let’s Get Emotional
  9. A History of Lovers
  10. Body Parts
  11. Perfect

To pre-order Hey! Hello! Too! go to Round Records on PledgeMusic.

*About Round Records Records:

Round Records Records is the new record label from Ginger Wildheart – a home for Hey! Hello!, Mutation, live albums and DVDs from The Wildhearts and more. It’s arguably Ginger’s most ambitious project to date; moving from stand-alone individual releases to a fully-fledged record label.

PledgeMusic is proud to be partnering with Ginger and Round Records Records for fans to pre-order new releases and access a host of extra and exclusive offers.

Ginger and PledgeMusic have history. In August 2011, Ginger launched his Triple Album Project via PledgeMusic. The pitch was to record a 30-song triple album and the campaign met with immediate success, hitting 100% of the funding target within six hours of launching. The resulting album released in 2012 in single and triple album format was a huge success for Ginger and won him the Classic Rock magazine ‘Event of the Year’ award. Subsequent projects with PledgeMusic have delivered equally stunning results; the last one being a book entitled ‘Songs & Words’, which featured archive photos and the stories behind Ginger’s songs as only Ginger could tell them.

To start things off, the Round Records Records releases include the following;

  • The Wildhearts – PHUQ Live (out now )
  • Hey Hello – Hey! Hello! Too! (release 23rd September)
  • Ginger Wildheart– Solo Album Boxset(date tbc)
  • Mutation – Mutation III album (date tbc)

EP Review: Robert Hunter – “Outta My Mind”

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon, and I’m listening to a new EP that dropped onto my doormat this week. This is “Outta My Mind”, the debut EP from Robert Hunter, an American singer-songwriter from Danville, Pennsylvania, USA.

Robert Hunter EP cover

The title track is first on the EP. It’s also my favourite out of the five songs on offer here. It’s something of a cross between Ryan Adams and The Ravines. A fetching, wistful tune with glossy production, Hunter’s melancholic lyrics are kept in check by their brevity. “Outta My Mind” is successfully hard-wiring into my brain after a single listen.

“Wasted and sober” is a little bit Cat Stevens, a little bit Ronan Keating. It’s pleasant, kind sounding and melodic. Hunter shows here that he is capable of conveying emotion in his delivery, which adds a much-needed weight to this otherwise rather sombre song.

Next up we have “365”, which is full to the brim with tried and tested chord progressions, enhanced with some lovely little dynamic rock accents. It very slightly reminds me of Dancing in the Dark by Springsteen, and this is no bad thing.

The penultimate song, “Carbon”, is by far the most emotive song on the record – it sounds like there’s some pedal steel guitar going on, which adds to the sentimental feeling. I feel that it could do with a rise in energy at some point during the song, but it is nevertheless an endearing and graceful inclusion.

Robert Hunter 1

Rounding off the EP is “On That Road”, a deferential, easy on the ears tune with an extremely catchy hook and rousing chorus. For me, it would be perfect if he could embrace his gravelly vocal and imbue a little come-hitherness. I can easily imagine this being Hunter’s anthem and have visions of audiences singing along at the tops of their voices.

This EP is by no means perfect, but Hunter takes the proven formula of the sensitive singer/songwriter and injects new life into it by making catchy, radio friendly songs that actually have some meaning and substance.

Robert Hunter

He has produced thoughtful arrangements that include both acoustic and electric guitars and Hammond organ. I’d like to hear him do some more upbeat songs and to get that distorted guitar rocking occasionally. Overall, though, this is a charming and welcoming EP which gives a suitable insight into Hunter’s style and way of thinking. I look forward to hearing what happens next…

You can buy “Outta My Mind” on iTunes and follow Robert on Facebook.