Sunday, 15 December 2013

Frankie and the Heartstrings – The Days Run Away – Pop Sex ltd

So, the ever chirpy Northerner’s Frankie and the Heartstrings are back, but boy, have I missed them! I recently learnt that their record store Pop Recs Ltd in Sunderland was originally set up in June of this year to promote the new album, but the locals loved it so much that it became a permanent fixture.

‘The Days Run Away’ is the fun, youthful, 50’s poppy Rock & Roll I expected and craved. The new single, ‘That Scene, That Girl’, fills your mind of a dance hall filled with sharp suits, slick quiffs and flying knee length skirts. While ‘Nothing Goes Our way’ is as broody as the title suggests, and yet the guitar still chirps away like a red robin.

They show another side with ‘Losing A Friend’ as it’s quiet, mournful and gentle with a shy guitar. They soon cheer up things up with ‘She Will Say Goodbye’ though. It’s a strange song ; it begins with backward swirls and has a Smiths feel to it. It certainly doesn’t feel like any other Frankie song, but I think I like it, although it’s probably the weakest track. ‘Invitation’ is back to good ol’ Frankie as it bops round the room with a guitar riff reminiscent of Pixies ‘Here Comes Your Man’. 

‘First Boy’  and ‘Scratches’ are different but very good, a nice sign of growth as they feels more mature; ‘First Boy’ has a lovely guitar solo and deeper less erratic vocals while ‘Scratches’ have pounding drums and explosive choruses that contrasts wonderfully with the gentle almost reassuring melodies. Then there’s ‘Everybody Looks Better’, precisely what Frankie are famous for as it will immediately bring a smile to your face with its bouncy beat and catchy chorus; it has an amusing video too.

Finale song ‘Light That Breaks’ is a romantic acoustic song with violins and guest vocals by Sarah Hall from the band ‘Lets Buy Happiness. It’s a beautiful song and lovely way to end. 

They did it. They made an album better than the last, which was a tall order. So I say, bring on the third!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Lily Allen- Hard Out There

So, Lily Allen ey? One thing’s for sure, she’s certainly back! She's top of the charts and center of discussion, right where she belongs. I pray her comeback success open up the single charts and radio air time for other acts that aren't mindless dance and rap music.

‘Hard Out There’ reminds me of The Smiths, it’s fun, poppy and very catchy but with those all important tongue in cheek lyrics.  Her voice is as sweet as sugar with a beat perfect to dance to with its hand claps, dancing piano and regular beat. Though I am praying that the auto tune on the chorus is ironic. It certainly bodes well for the new album.

Her new single has caused quite a fuss, well to be correct her video has been. Personally I think this proves what Lily’s always said; the worlds broken and full of ignorance and stupidity.

It's a direct parody of Blurred Lines
 To me to me it seems that the vast majority of critics and the public are either missing the video’s satire, despite her lyrics explaining this, or feel threatened by her pointing these truths out, so instead they hide the message by scapegoating the video.

Call me crazy, but it makes zero sense to me why this video can cause so much negative hype when Rihanna can produce videos and ‘songs’ like ‘Pour It Up’ without a word said; come on that video could be passed off as soft porn. Okay granted ‘Blurred Lines’ did cause a fuss, but why does it take an extreme example like that to make people open up their eyes? For me it highlights the poor state of Pop music and the charts, as well as society. Bring back the days when Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys were in the singles charts!
Uho, Sexy...
Well I suppose the silver linings to this dark cloud is that its brought a lot of attention to her and the single and at least she’s finally back and telling it how it is.

You can also find this review at

Friday, 8 November 2013

Echo Bench – V4V-Word Records

Album cover

What do you get when you combine three very talented Israeli women who are painters, film makers and sculptors? Well according to singer and guitarist Noga Shatz, bass player Shahar Yahalom and drummer Alex Levy you get gritty noise pop. Dirty guitar, fast drumming and raw passionate vocals, what’s not to love?

Album opener ‘Same Mistake’ has a steady hip moving beat with a desperate croon. It’s a rather sedated opener, calm and calculated. ‘Out Of The Blue’ is jerky, fun and sassy, while ‘High Noon’ has a  ‘Killing An Arab’ era Cure feel about it, with its exotic twists and hooks. This is contrasted nicely by ‘High Roller’ and ‘Liquid Sky’ which are fast and dirty, heavy on the distortion.  ‘After Party’ is a fabulous song; with its stop start opening that growls at you from behind the sofa. ‘French’ pounces at you but with honey sweet croons, it’s like the tiger cub of punk songs. The song was re-mixed by Colin Newman of Wire; he gave it a fuller feeling so that is surrounds you.

‘Flesh A Bone’ ends the album much like ‘Same Mistake’ opened it; gritty and patient as it broods waiting for its moment. Although it is a disappointing end as there is no final crescendo and I don’t think the fade out end really worked as you sit through the song waiting for a big ending.

Sculptor by  Shahar Yahalom
Echo Bench is an addictive album, it stays circling in your head all day and I think deserves success and exposure. I am privileged to have this opportunity to share it with my reader/viewers.

Echo Bench is available for free download from www. 
Artwork by Noga Shatz

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Promotion Time

 My mate did a totally cute picture for me to use on my Youtube videos :D
What do you guys think?
I Love it!

He runs a pretty awesome comic blog, largely about games but always funny (if you get the jokes!)

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Late Of The Pier- Fantasy Black Channel ( Long lost brilliance)

Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel 2008  -  Parlophon

Castle Donington’s (England) long lost Late Of The Pier are more of a pain to describe than Fixers, but even better.
Fantasy Black Channel is a cocktail of early 2000’s Indie, Punk, Psychedelic, Funk, Synth pop with every distortion technique in the book used on max and more than a hint of sarcastic black humour and pure weirdness. You only have to check out ‘About’ on their abandoned Facebook page to see how cocky these guys were. In influences they put “bake me a cake as fast as you can (and send us pictures)”. I wonder how many fans did….

It’s no wonder the band crumpled under the pressure for a second album and fell apart; it would have been incredibly hard to make a second album as good, never mind better than the debut. They may as well have created their own genre of music.

It starts off sounding drunk as thick distorted keyboard slowly slurs into ‘Broken’ which brings Indie crooning guitars and bare honest vocals to the mix.  This glitches into single ‘Space & The Wood’ with its threatening pounding fuzz synth and drums that turns into indie synth pop brilliant for the chorus; with vocals low and searching calmly stating “Suicides always been in my blood”. The song, much like the rest of the album, is filled with frantic time changes. Also a single ‘The Bears Are Coming’ follows continuing this deep distortion but contains this bizarre filtering, like vinyl being scratched crossed with a balloon being scratched. The time change here sends us on a brief psychedelic trip with crowed vocals and a chaotic end. ‘Random Firl’ welcomes back the indie guitar joined by percussion and questioning glittering keyboard, naturally the distortion is still high. His vocals croon sweetly over a heartbeat drum; it’s almost sweet and innocent.

‘Heartbeat’ is the closest to a normal Indie song as we get on here; it’s heavier on the drums and guitar, you could almost say a dance track with guitars. It’s taken the sound of the time, the time of Franz Ferdinand, Artic Monkeys and Lilly Allen being the charts but twists and distorts it into something utterly strange, often psychedelic and their own. ‘White Snake’ and ‘VW’ are prime examples of their truly unique cocktail of styles; they include enough time changes to include them all, I’d be here all day listing the sounds and moods created on these two tracks alone, let’s just say one song ends with the line “Cabbage. Can you smell snacks?” ‘There is a fine line between madness and genius’ drifts into my head when hearing these songs. ‘Focker’ is a trippy, happier and yet darker  ‘Space & the Woods’ and yet contains more structure and sanity than the previous tracks.

‘The Enemy Are The Future’ opens timidly only to explode boldly into one of the catchiest funk hooks with military drums and a rather desperate questioning vocals. It’s a more straightforward song, well Late Of The Piers idea of straightforward is as straight as an abused ‘bendy’ ruler. After all, it does drift from style to style, including bongo and synth pop segments only to suddenly stop. While ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ is minimalistic with its bold vocals,  sharp Indie guitar and fast beat. ‘Bathroom Gurgle’ returns to the same template as ‘Space & the Woods’ and ‘The Bear Are Coming’, it is what they do best after all. It’s fuzzed, simple beat and unusual raw vocals with sparkling keyboard to contrast. It smoothly switches between spaced out trips to pure indie pop brilliance.

Bizarre, changeable and utter brilliance and a challenge I’d highly recommend. - Space & The Woods - Bathroom Gurgle 

I'm Coming Back! So Stay Tuned!

I know I've disappeared, stressful times don't tend to lead to much inspiration or leave time for creativity... 
I am very happy though to come back to find my blog doing fine and pretty much running itself !

But I will be posting again, I have some reviews stashed away plus I'm working on a new debut review. 
An Italian record label, V4V, have contacted me asking to review Echo Bench's debut, which I am very excited to hear and write about, hopefully a video will also be made....

In the mean time here's a very good Echo Bench song and continue to check out my older material..... 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Esben And The Witch – Wash The Sins Not Only The Face

Esben And The Witch – Wash The Sins Not Only The Face – Matador Records

Hailing from Brighton, Esben And The Witch are a band who are not afraid to experiment with atmosphere, fear and magic. They do not compromise, but ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’ is proof that they do learn and grow.  The debut album, Violet Cries from January 2011, was a truly terrifying and haunting experience, it’s fantastic but intense. While the second album keeps the same themes and style its song have structure and beautiful, at times almost Warpaint like, melodies. I described the first album as being lost in a strange wood alone at night; this album is to go back to those woods with purpose and a flickering candle.

The album opens with the grand crescendo of crashing noise that is ‘Iceland Spar’. This occasionally gives way to Rachel Davies ghostly cries as guitar chimes gently away, the crash of instruments reappearing now and again, swift as the wind and as fierce as a storm. ‘Slow Wave’ is more peaceful and haunting with all the atmosphere of the first album but with more of a structure and dreamy luxurious melodies thanks to Thomas Fisher and Daniel Copeman.

‘When The Head Splits’ shimmers and swoons with a strong drum beat to carry, intricate melodies and Rachel’s passionate haunted croon cries out; its dark, dangerous and seductive. ‘Shimmering’ and ‘Yellow Wood’ are more reminiscent of their debut, brooding and enchanting, as they twirls in the air like glittery smoke from a forest fire. Single ‘Deathwaltz’ combines jangling melodic and desperate wailing guitars with running drums. It’s their most conventional song, the definite single, but without losing their style of murder and mystery, a bridge between the albums.

 ‘Despair’ shimmers and soars with frantic drums and heavenly cries, it builds into a screaming climax of feedback only to momentarily simmer back down. It’s a song on edge, fight or flight. ‘The Fall Of Glorieta Mountain’ is slow and thoughtful with innocent melancholic guitar, haunting keyboard and wistful vocals. It’s a beautifully heartbreakingly empty and emotional song. It drifts sedately into the ending track 
‘Smashed To Pieces In The Still Of The Night’ which broods and builds. Haunted running guitars lead over a misty electronic background and subtle drums. Rachel’s poetic cry croons seductively, repeating the title in a whisper while guitars become increasingly agitated as fast military drums come to the foreground building into a frightening crescendo only to suddenly end. Silence follows and a feeling of fear of the dark…

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Wedding Present - (a short story I wrote a while ago)

The Wedding Present     
Grand but old, large yet delicate: the old chest of draws sat quietly in the corner of the baby blue room contemplating the day’s events. Yet another day in the Birmingham Art Museum watching hundreds of passers-by as they ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’, wondering around gazing opened mouthed and wide eyed at the wonders surrounding them. Bernard was used to getting only the odd glance as groups of people left the room, it was rare anyone paid attention to him. This used to offend him, but at the end of the day he was just an odd looking wooden cupboard. No-one these days cared for the fact that he had intricate carvings of branches, leaves and flowers nor the fact that the top of him looked like a castle, with a triangle roof, towers and a balcony: But today had been different.

 Earlier today a young girl with long flowing red hair and freckled cheeks had come over to him and paid attention. She walked right up to Bernard, tracing the castle topping with wide green eyes, studying him intensely and marvelling at the little paintings that sat in most of the panels before stepping back to take a photograph. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had taken a photograph of him. She sat down quietly still looking at the cabinet; it soon became clear that she was not waiting for anyone, so he spoke to her.

“Thank you my dear. It is rare these days that anyone pays any attention to a foolish old chest of draws.” The girl looked around wildly to see who had spoken to her only to find that the room was empty of people. She looked suspiciously back at the cabinet in the corner.

“Hello?” she said very softly still staring at the cabinet with a puzzled look.

“No no no! You think the words. You don’t want to look foolish now do you? Talking away to yourself.” The girl giggled as the voice in her head continued, it was a very posh old fashioned Londoners voice. She could imagine the voice with a monocle and a shaped curled greying moustache. “I used to house a monocle, always losing it he was, never could remember which draw he’d put it in.”

“Why didn’t you tell him?” The girl asked, but in her head this time.

“He never listened. His mind was too closed, most peoples are, even if they do hear me they ignore me, very rude I do say!” The girl giggled again.

“Figures. Are you a ghost?” She was surprised how calm she felt, having this strange conversation in her head. The room was such a calm place, big and airy and welcoming, it seemed impossible to be scared in here. People didn’t even notice her sat on the wooden bench as they posed for photographs with portraits of dead English Aristocrats before walking into the next room. She suddenly felt sorry for the old chest of draws, no-one paid him any attention either.

“No ghosts, just an old cabinet. I was a wedding present you know, back in 1880 would you believe it? I was brand new then.” The girl blinked with surprise, he didn’t look 131 years old! With his varnished surfaces and lack of marks he barely looked 50 years old. The only sign of wear at all was on the brass handles.

“Wedding present to who?” She asked, shifting to get comfortable, still facing the cabinet as she sensed this was going to be a long story. She imagined the voice doing the same but that he was sat in a large grand red armchair by a blazing fire. In her head he lit a pipe, took a single puff before carrying on.

“The Everitts, a young couple in their 20’s. I was the gift from a close friend and work college of Mr Everitt. Mr Everitt worked at the Royal British Society of Artists; very proud of his job was Mr Everitt. Thought they were the bee’s knees, so to speak. He worked there his whole life, therefore meaning he was promoted several times but don’t ask me to remember his job titles or role, it never meant anything to me and it was a very long time ago.” The girl was secretly glad as it wouldn’t have meant much to her either.

“What did Mrs Everitt do?” When the voice spoke again, it sounded taken aback, shocked.

“Why, she was a proud Housewife of course! And a darn good one at that. Put on the finest Dinner Parties around, her Roast Dinner was renowned for miles. The Everitts home was always spotless and gleaming, but of course she had maids for that. Apart for me, she polished and dusted me herself with love and care. She was a painter: she painted all these and many more.” Admiration and pride filled the voice in her head, making her smile.

“Are any of them in the Museum?” The voice grew sad for a moment.

“Unfortunately not, My Lady’s work was lost in a fire that consumed the loft. What I bare is all that is left. A great shame” She looked again at the small beautiful paintings. There were 12 and nearly all of them were of places, Churches, rivers, woods, a village and the sea.

“She trusted me with these as they were all places of value to her, she wanted them displayed and I was the wedding present.  Can you guess why they meant so much to My Lady?” The admiration was back in the voice.  She got up and started to circle the cabinet, inspecting closely each of the paintings. The girl gasped.

“Is that the Church were they married? And the village must be where they met.” She could feel the voice smile.

“Correct. And the rest are where they courted. My Lady always did love romance. I always had a fresh vase of red roses placed on me each week.” The girl spotted a soft trace of a circle on the wood work before she sat back down.

“Aww! Are the flowers in the middle the first flowers he gave her?”

“You are a very bright little girl, but not quite. The first after they were married. Ah I remember those days as if they were only last week. It was their first house, a manor house by the name of Fair Gate, they didn’t name it, with three floors, the bottom being for the maids. Cream wall, mahogany furniture and red flowers, it was simply beautiful.  And they were such kind and hardworking people and so deeply in love with each other.”  Pride again filled the voice. “I used to be admired by all visitors to Fair Gate. I sat in the Dining Hall, excellent place for overhearing conversations.” She imagined the voice winking. “Most of it didn’t mean a thing to me, I was only listening out for mention of myself, see I was vain. A terrible fault vanity is.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. There are loads of vain girls in my class, they’re horrible.”

“It ruins the personality, makes you selfish too. I was letting it go to my enormous head! Ah well I soon learnt my lesson.”

“What happened?”

“My Lady had children; it was expected of her see. Michael and Lukas, two strapping lads, they both went into the Army and fought for Britain in the first Great War, neither survived. Broke their kind hearts that did, neither were the same afterwards. ‘At least they brought Pride to the family’ was what Mr Everitt said.”

“Oh.” The girl didn’t know what to say. A moment of silence fell between them.

“How did children change your life though?” Asked the girl, deciding it was best to move on.

“The Dining Hall became an “out-of-bounds” room, reserved for Parties only. Well you can imagine that those became very rare with two little lads to bring up. Me being vain, I just assumed she did it out of love, that she didn’t want my woodwork to get ruined, but the doors stayed closed, even when they grew up.”

“So why did she lock you away then?”

“I figured it out years and years later, when I was stored by a friend of the family in the loft. I kept all the post, didn’t I? Either Mr Everitt or My Lady were keeping secrets.”

“I guess. Nothing too huge I hope, like an affair!”

“Certainly not! No, it was probably bills that were none of children’s business, although My Lady was in contact with her Mother via letters, particularly after the lads were born. Mr Everitt never did like Mrs Semme. Lord knows why! I don’t think Mr Everitt ever found out….”

“Why do you call Mrs Everitt ‘My Lady’?”

“Because she was.  I barely saw any of Mr Everitt; to him I was only a nice bit of furniture. No, she had an open mind, she knew I was alive. Why else would she go out her way to polish and varnish me herself when she had maids? No. She knew deep down but not enough to talk to me.”

“That’s sad, I’m sorry. Hold on, why were you kept in a friend’s loft?”

“The Everitt’s moved on and in their old age decided to down size, I guess Fair Gate held too many memories of their sons. There wasn’t room enough for me but My Lady wanted my safety so I was moved into the loft of her dearest friends, the Campbell’s. I stayed there until the late 1900’s until I was found and donated to the Museum. I can tell you, it was such a relief to be out in the open again!” The girl giggled.

“Ah I remember that last day in Fair Gate. The house was so empty yet people were running around here there and everywhere. I could hear thudding of boots and the scraping of moving furniture coming from every room. The bulkier furniture, some of the tables for example, were left behind, a white cloth thrown over them and that was that. The walls were bare and there were no flowers. My Lady stayed behind after everyone else had left, she walked over to me smiling a sad smile that I had never seen before but it was the first smile I had seen in years. She ran her hand over my now dusty surfaces, gazing at her paintings before patting me once fondly then walked out of the room shutting the door behind her. The Campbell’s came for me the next day, not a second glance.”

The voice in her head was crying. A single tear ran down her cheek, she quickly wiped it away and composed herself again.  There was a pause as the voice did the same, lighting the pipe up again but this time taking three puffs before carrying on.

“I never understood why she didn’t take the paintings with her.”

“She knew that was the only way she would get her art in a museum, that’s why she stored you away, she knew this is where you belonged too but if you had moved with her you would have stayed in the family, getting old and tatty with use.” The voice in her head nodded, taking a few more puffs of his pipe.

“So she did care after all? It wasn’t just my vanity?” The voice was so desperate the girl felt she would have lied just to make it happy again but thankfully she didn’t have to.

“Of course she did and she never stopped caring.”

“It’s very kind of you to try to comfort me but please don’t, lying is as bad as 
vanity in my books.” The girl smiled

“I’m not lying. The painting of you has been passed down through my family for decades, not all her paintings were lost.”

“She….she painted me? I…I do not remember that….”

“She painted what was to value to her” Both the girl and the voice in her head thought this at the same time.

“How rude of me, I never asked you name? Old age that is, please forgive my sheer rudeness.”

“Your forgiven, you are 131 years old after all.” The girl stood up, stretching out her stiff muscles and rolled her neck before walking over to the cabinet, ignoring the ‘Please don’t touch’ sign she ran her hand gently over the smooth wooden surface. “My name is Marie, Marie Everitt.”

“Hello Marie Everitt, my name is Bernard, after Mr Everitt you see.”

“Hello Bernard Everitt, it was very nice talking you.”

“The pleasure was all mine Marie.” 

There’s This Place I Know- A very short story.

There’s this place I know.

In this place, in Summer the regal blue waters sparkle freely, shimmering with careless innocence under the Suns watchful gaze as the wind plays with its surface creating ripples like on an unruly rug. I could watch these forever, to let its relaxing steady movement wash over me. To watch the ducks bounce and bob, eternally unruffled by the winds spontaneity, continuing their loud conversations perfectly at peace.

In this place, in the Winter the water freezes over, taken over by ice and snow, banishing the ducks to the grassy banks, seeking warmth and shelter under their guardian trees. It seemed life was put on pause, waiting for Spring to revive them. But beauty lives on as the water would glisten, the landscape almost pure white, almost blinding. It’s monochrome charm never failing to capture my heart.

But in this place at Summer the Magpies dance all day, hopping from one tree to another, blissfully unaware that their numbers decide our fate.  And the Swans command as they float elegantly, boldly, up and down their waters, deceivingly fierce and large. The other creatures are their subjects while we mere Humans are casual visitors, allowed inside to marvel, to boost their inflated ego’s but with such uncompromised beauty who could blame them?

In this place the trees hang green and lazy, encircling the water on sleepy guard. In the Autumn the trees glow vivid reds, pinks, oranges and gold’s while in the Winter they stand tall and bare, alert to the cold, exposed like skeletons, their only cover being the blanket of snow coating their arms. In the centre of the circle stands the lone droopy Willow Tree. She watches over the waters like a loving Mother, her reach and all seeing gaze reaching far. Even the pompous Swans mind her.

In this place nature unwittingly creates a subtle symphony of tweets, 
whistles, buzzes, splashes, cracks, creaking, fluttering, rustling and quacks as each creature goes about its business independently yet working together. Only the Wind begs to be heard, howling through the tree, trying to provoke a reaction that never comes.

In this place surrounding the trees, while in Spring, the grass is white with tiny daises but sprinkled with yellow buttercups. But go no further as Nature loses her control as Humans have taken over, caging this paradise in with bricks, metal and fake noise. But there is a place where the water sparkles and the creatures sing while the Swans float regally.

This place sits inside a housing estate, next to Sainsburys, in Withymoor. But this place is beautiful, enchanting my heart time and time again; it is my little escape.  

Friday, 7 June 2013

Handy links to all my Youtube vids so far...

Not everyone likes pages of words but  are still passionate about music and it can't help to branch out, plus all these are still in written format on here. 

I'm very new to this and feedback would be much loved! What I'm doing right, what I'm doing wrong.... anyway enjoy! - My Bloody Valentine- Loveless

 - Savages- Silence Yourself

 - Peace- In Love

 - Palma Violets- 180

(most recent Fixers- We'll Be The Moon

I've also got videos for the Gorillaz 'Demon Days' review, My Chemical Romance 'Conventional Weapons' and will be making some for new written reviews yet to be published including Esben and The Witch, The Cure and Late of The Pier 

Fixers ‘We’ll Be The Moon’ (debut)

Fixers ‘We’ll Be The Moon’ – Dolphin Love Records

Fixers have created this strange blend of psych, “math rock”, indie with this electronic twist. It’s difficult to describe, to put your finger on, it’s optimistic and unusual, with elements of dream-pop. If Fixers were a cake, the recipe would include Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd mixed with Kate Bush and MGMT and dusted with Foster The People. It’s a fantastic and highly enjoyable album to listen to but a right pain to review.

Opener ‘Majesties Ranch’ is a prime example with its twinkling keyboards and distorted guitar. Single ‘Iron Deer Dream’ is another; it’s got heavenly echoed vocals, dancing piano and handclaps along with the guitar. Vocals loop and layer over each other creating this busy swirling atmosphere. ‘Alexandra’ takes a more psychedelic turn as its glistens and shimmers, very much keyboard and synth lead. ‘World of Beauty’ is a chilled experimentation that takes us into space. 

But you can never tell how seriously these guys take themselves despite their clear talent as ‘Pink Light’ includes the repeated lyrics “wiggle wiggle motion”… Single ‘Crystals’ has a clearer pop structure with fuzz keyboard that twinkle like stars and dancing guitar; its psychedelic, spaced out but with elements of indie rock, with a beat that would be great to go running to. 

The album ends with the mellow acoustic track ‘Good Night’. - Iron Deer Dream - Crystals 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Palma Violets- 180 (debut)

Palma Violets- 180- Rough Trade

London’s Palma Violets are another hotly tipped band who did actually enter into the album chart reaching no. 3 (well according to HMV) and are highly rated by the NME, winning Best New Band and Best Tracks of 2012 with ‘Best of Friends’.  And I can see why. They are have magnificently re-vamped Rock and Roll and Garage with sprinkles of Post-Punk.

Single ‘Best of Friends’ opens  the album with raw energy, its scratchy, sharp and fast with passionate uncontrolled vocals, chiming organ. The whole song shouts enthusiastically at you, begging you to join the party it’s sparked. ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ is an amazing track; simple organ, tambourine, crashing cymbals and fuzz guitar with this big chorus and catchy riff. It’s the outcast kids with shaggy hair in black suits and skinnies “dancing in the sun….” ‘All The Garden Birds’  and ‘Tom The Drum’ have a more stripped back 50’s rock and roll feel with calmer echoed vocals. The songs are fun and witty, full of time changes and sudden explosions of noise.

 ‘Chicken Dippers’ opens ominously with echoed banging and a grand church organ  which continues throughout the song as drumbeat like running feet joins while the chorus is fast and furious with squealing guitar. It’s another optimistic love and friendship fascinated album. ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ is romantic and mature contrasting nicely with ‘Johnny Bagga’ Donuts’ which is another big, fast, angular track, very reminiscent of PIL and The Sonics. ‘Three Stars’ is a calmer reflective track that brews slowly, giving you goose-bumps, mostly consisting of deep mature echoed vocals and comforting guitar. The end track ‘14’ is a grand as expected, with big fuzz guitars, church organ shimmering and united howling voices, bringing together all their talents into a crescendo of noise.  

The entire album has this wonderful grainy under-produced quality to it, like it was recorded live in a bit empty room.  It’s a proud and confident album filled with talent and hope, truly enjoyable. - Last of The Summer Wine

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Birmingham Gay Pride 25/26th May 2013

Whistles, dance anthems, heat (a minor miracle considering the drab 
weather of late), blinding sun, huge crowds of people and oh so many rainbows. Welcome to the annual two day festival that is Birmingham's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride. 

Heading the Parade (Own Photo)
Queen? (Own Photo)
It all kicks off Saturday with a parade starting 12 sharp in Victoria Square. It was vibrating with pride and excited energy as the square filled with thousands of people tripping over each to gaze at the vibrant floats, intersected by charity, support and awareness groups, cruise by. Every year is a surprise, as the theme changes and newbies appear, despite the same faces also appearing each year; nice to see Nando's back and bigger. No prizes for guessing this years theme of marriage and weddings, but what did come as a surprise was seeing Barclays bank as a new supporter with a wedding themed float and another wedding float being religious, including a bloke dressed as a Bishop; I sincerely hope this was funded by an actual church and/or religious group. The fabulously sassy 'Granny Queens' singing away on mobility scooters was a nice shock too. After watching the parade go by, the rest of the crowd join on at the end. This year was an entirely new route into the Gay Village, sat in the heart of the city; it took us strolling heads held high, hips swaying, music, whistles and cheers blaring proud right down New Street, yes the high street, then onto Queens Way, past the Bull Ring, Moore Street train station then round the corner past the Hippodrome Theater and into the Village itself. It was truly heart warming to see the huge crowds lining the streets cheering us on and snapping numerous photos. I only spotted one group of hecklers, a small religious group waving Bibles and shouting at us to "repent before its too late!" The response? Mixtures of laughter and obscene gestures. 
Own photo

Despite having to pay a pretty hefty price to gain entrance to the Village, it was easily as busy, if not busier than last year, which was sited as the 'biggest yet'. Even Sunday was as alive and full. Far as I'm aware no reason was given for the sudden entrance fee, my guess is it is either to cover for funding cuts (lets be honest, who haven't had their budget tightened?) or to keep out the trouble makers. Either way the Village was packed with colour, dancing, club music, stalls, alcohol and some really rather uniquely dressed individuals; anything really does go. 

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As far as the Main Stage acts went, this was Prides biggest year yet with the weekends line up including Bananarama, JLS and Paloma Faith DJ sets, The Cheeky Girls, Stooshe, Rylan Clark (X-Factor) and The Voice winner Leanne Mitchel plus loads more. For the first time I was luckily enough to catch some of later acts on Sunday, including Leanne Mitchel, who's flexible power house voice blew us all away and Stooshe who are very good live, full of energy and fun, reminding us that it was a party. Even Booty Luv were entertaining and animated. For me though, it was all about Paloma Faith's gritty lusty DJ set which successfully turned a hot crowed blue tent on a street corner into a raving club; with the sweeping lights, smoke machines, on stage dancers and  old classics mixed in. 

Birmingham's LGBT Pride is fabulously exhausting and all I have left to say is hurry up Pride 2014! 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Peace- In Love (debut)

Peace- In Love- Sony Music

Peace are amongst the “B-Town” (though most the bands argue it’s not a representative nick-name) Hipsters, along with Swim Deep and Jaws who have been hotly tipped this year to ‘break through’, if only.  All these bands seem to have unwittingly picked up the same threads, but have sowed it differently. They are the lost youth of today but Peace choice the love tinted glasses to hide behind, and they stand out from the crowd with their effortless mix that oh so fashionable thick dissonant guitar and luscious melodies. ‘In Love’ is summery, romantic and hopeful. 

‘Higher Than The Sun’ is aptly named with its thick soaring guitar, swirling keyboard, bouncing bass and careless creamy vocals. It’s lying content on dry grass in the heat of the sun gazing at the endless blue sky. Single ‘Follow Baby’ has feedback heavy swirling guitar, fast almost hip-hop beat and sassy vocals with a dissonant and hazy chorus. It’s youthful, careless and fun, much like the rest of the album. The album time and time again boosts their natural skill for song writing and craftsmanship. ‘Float Forever’ is like floating on a cloud with its soft melodic guitar and lovable crooned vocals, it has a washed out quality to it. While ‘Wraith’ is exotic with its sugary hip swaying Caribbean beat. Go back to the ‘golden age’ of having Gorillaz, Franz Ferdinand and Artic Monkeys in the charts and this would have been in the top 5 no problem. ‘Waste of Paint’ follows the same vain; it’s a cocktail of funk, pop, and grunge.

‘Delicious’ twists things with echoed percussion, dissonant guitar and insane time changes from calm minimalism to crowed energy. ‘Toxic’ is grittier and desperate as Harry turns more to wailing while ‘Sugerstone is soft and romantic. ‘California Daze’ is practically a lullaby. It’s dripping with hope, love, innocence, “she tastes like sunlight”. Dreamy melodies, silkily crooned vocals and soaring guitar which build up into a grand finale only calm back down and reflect, ending peacefully.

I actually saw them live supporting Editors (review is on here) before the NME stepped up the hype on them and I instantly knew they were ones to watch... 

Peace stand out amongst this emerging crowd of “B-towners” because while the rest of good, Peace are great.

- Wraith

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Savages debut– Silence Yourself

Savages – Silence Yourself- Pop Noire Records

London’s all female quartet ‘Savages’ are really what it says on the tin: savage.  'Silence Yourself' is the bands debut, which has been nominated the Mercury Awards. I could throw out endless comparisons but the truth is they’ve taken a well- worn, well done sound and style and made it, not only their own, not fresh and relevant, a skill not many bands actually possess. It’s violent, honest and raw.

The album opens with the a fore mentioned poem spoken calmly over a simple ominous piano before exploding into the fierce post-punk perfection called ‘Shut Up’. Gemma Thompsons guitar wails and screams, Ayse Hassan deep bass bounces and Fay Milton drums pound like an enraged frantically beating heart while Jenny Beth’s passionate cry criticises you, “The worlds a dead sorry hole”. The entire album pretty much continues this sound but each time twisting it slightly. ‘I Am Here’ begins with growling feedback which continues to echo menacingly in the background as thunderous bass leads, with sharp piercing guitar and clear fearless vocals; the whole song shouts accusingly at you; while chorus the is pure chaos. While ‘Strife’ has slow purposeful almost military drums with growling bass but it’s this distorted commanding guitar and electrified vocals that dominate. ‘No Face’ and ‘Hit Me’ are simply insanely fast.

‘Waiting for a sign’ is slower and threatening in an entirely different way. It’s dark, suggestive and melodic. A stand out track. It cries and howls with patient hammering drums whilst feedback and echoed screams circle the background.  Single’s ‘She Will’ and ‘Husbands’ are prime examples of Savages raw power, skill and witty lyrics. ‘She Will’ is fast, with spikey guitar, deep prominent bass and a chorus that erupts into chaos with Beth’s demanding cry ever being the focus. ‘Husbands’ likes to suddenly switches from threatening bass to guitar lead chaos and back almost at the blink of an eye. It’s frantic and powerful, frightening even as Beth becomes increasingly wild and agitated.

The album is very aggressive and emotional with this amazing energy and these stark honest lyrics. This is punk; it’s raw, commanding and intelligent. It questions and shouts at society instead of pretending everything’s fine. Every instrument has its own clear voice while also being able to unite into a wall of sound.
Concluding song ‘Marshal Dear’ is calmer with beautiful piano and Beth’s blunt lyrics passionately yet sarcastic croon contrasting perfectly with Joy Division-ish bass and soaring razor sharp guitar. Very surprisingly the song and album ends with mournful saxophone but it works.

Over all scary, intelligent and pure Post-Punk brilliance. The best bit though? There is truly no other band doing this, this well right now, it’s exciting. - Shut Up - Husbands

You can also read this review at

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless 1991

 My Bloody Valentine – Loveless 1991- Creation Records

Hailing from Dublin, formed in 1983, My Bloody Valentine pretty much invented Shoegaze, though their second album did pretty much bankrupt Creation Records and took two years to perfect across 19 different recording studios. Slight case of OCD here on Kevin Shields part, who pretty much ran the show, dominating the recording process while also being lead vocalist and guitarist. These guys did everything, pitch blending, digital reverb, guitars strummed with a tremolo bar to create that confusing trademark blend and distortion.

I know it probably makes more sense to review the brand new album ‘m.b.v’ which came out this year but I just couldn’t resist an album that not only defined a band but a genre, it the benchmark.; its iconic.

Single and album opener ‘Only Shallow’ is controlled by thick oppressive guitar that sways and soars but gives way occasionally to heavenly soft vocals and peaceful melodic guitar. That’s Shoegaze for you, or at least how MBV do it. It’s a gorgeously disorientating song. ‘Touched’ is rather scary, the distortion is so high I have no idea what blend of instruments I am listening to, it’s like an orchestra in a blender, backwards, it’s very innocent sounding but with that pounding drum and wailing it only adds to the general fear and confusion. This album really does make you feel high. I think we’ve move onto the next track…everything feels slowed down, stretched out, very dream like….
Single ‘When You Sleep’ shimmers and soars, with that trademark blend of grungy hazy guitar, simple chirpy melody and muffled charming vocals that seem to not have a worry in the world. It appears so effortless. In my opinion the best track on the album.

‘Come In Alone’ opens rather bluntly, it’s thick as cigarette smoke, heavily distorted and highly dissonant (thought that could just be my decrepit tape). The quiet dreamy melancholic vocals and subtle repetitive twinkling background melody contracts wonderfully with the dominating soaring backwards guitar. ‘Sometimes’ is much softer as the constant overpowering fuzz is balanced by a soft melodic acoustic guitar and heavenly organ. ‘Blown A Wish’ is romantic and sleepy with its lofty wistful female vocalist and sunny blend of distortion. ‘What You Want’ seems to contrast the previous with a violent vibrant opening but seems to calm down into the usual blur of keyboard, guitar, feedback, pedals with vocals that seem to be whispered from the end of a long tunnel; the song drifts out with a smiling reversed keyboard sample, bizarre but cheerful. ‘Soon’ ends the album superbly; a funky hip hop drum sample with a matching looped simplistic keyboard that seems to sashay to and fro. But naturally the fuzzed to the max guitar and high dreamy vocals takes prescience.

‘Loveless’ is an album of contradictions; it’s so crowded it can get oppressive but its cheerful and optimistic, it’s complex but made from simplistic loops. It makes you feel high, off balance at times but it’s a wonderful piece of craftsmanship that has lived on, inspired countless artists, and defined Shoegaze. Well worth two years hard work and £250, 000, don’t you think?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)

Gorillaz – Demon Days 2005 EMI Records LTD

Damon Albarn hailing from Blur and Jamie Hewlett, a comic book artist and designer, gave birth to the bizarre world of Gorillaz way back in 1998. The ‘band’ consists of  the blue haired wide eyed 2D as lead vocalist and keyboardist, the forever moody and grubby Murdoc Niccals  on bass and drum machine,  the token female with more fringe than face Noodle on guitar, keyboard, and occasional vocals and last but certainly not least Russell Hobbs the box shaped giant on drums and percussion.

Their second studio album, ‘Demon Days’ was sprung upon us back in 2005, went five times platinum in the UK, double platinum in the U.S and earned a load of awards. Not surprisingly it's pretty much universally considered (and rightly so) their best album; as a newbie fan, how could I resist?

The album ‘Intro’ sets the tone nicely as it’s a collection of smashing glass, police sirens, distorted chipmunk vocals and various other ominous sounds. ‘Last Living Souls’ carries on this rather pessimistic tone with it’s simple pitter-pattering hip-hop beat, distortion and bored blank questioning vocals, “are we the last living souls?” It even has a lovely  acoustic and piano mid-section, just to remind us of the bands diverse styles, a reinforced throughout ‘Demon Days’ with song such as ‘El Manana’ which is  a cocktail of fast hip hop beat, hopeful acoustic guitar,  violin, melancholic keyboard and depressed creamy vocals. While ‘Every Planet We Reach Is Dead’ has a backstreet jazz feel with squelching and twinkling keyboards, deep bass, piano, low vocals, simple beat. Its steadily becomes more dissonant with itself, like a chaotic crowd of people as more contrasting sounds compete to be heard. ‘November Has Come’ reminds us of the Gorillaz love of rap as it features MF DOOM who’s evenly paced ‘fuck off’ tone contrasts well with “2D’s” airy distorted vocals. ‘White Light’ on the other hand, is more post-punk, with its thunderous beat and thick distorted guitar, whereas ‘O Green World’ is sinister, glitched, busier, full of sonic noise and misleadingly soft ‘aahh’s. Then we have ‘Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head’ which sedately tells us a strange tale over spaced out funk. Getting a little pretentious here? Ah well, their talented diverse cartoon characters, they can get away with it.

Then we have the “OMG, I know this song! I had no idea it was them… I love this tune!” with singles ‘Dirty Harry’, which is the funky pop anthem with that trade mark bass, fuzzed keyboard and kids choir; ‘Feel Good Inc’ which is plain filth, witty and wondrous fun with those dreamy vocals.  And finally ‘Dare’ which is simply the prefect dance track; flirtatious simple beat and twinkling keyboard. They are all highly additive tracks, along with ‘Kids With Guns’ minimalism and brisling understated sass; heavy on the bass with thin angular post-punk guitar and shimmery keyboard: funky.

They then decided to pretty much reject all the previous styles and end with the dreamy psych trip that is ‘Don’t Get Lost In Heaven’. Nice backwards guitar and violin, lovely and disorientating particularly as it drifts into the concluding song, ‘Demon Days’ which adds a chilled funk beat and a choir of gospel voices to the soaring keyboard, giving it an ocean fell, like the gentle wash of the tide. It’s a surprisingly optimistic ending as the song drifts out, like falling asleep… - Kids with Guns -    Feel Good Inc