Album Review- Gypsyfingers: Circus Life.

ALBUM REVIEW:

  

Gypsyfingers

Circus Life

 

9.8/10.0

The album, Circus Life is available from 2nd May

LAUNCH SHOW

St Pancras Old Church, London

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/270363

The L.P.’s lead single, Eating Me is available from:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsSGFIGZt7U

___________________________________________________________________

Victoria Coghlan and Luke Oldfield fuse beautiful soundscapes and multiple genres to create a dreamy blend. Their inaugural L.P. is guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs and inspire the mind- as well as linger long in the memory.

_____________________________________________________________________

MUSIC duos are a dynamic that are somewhat rare (in the modern scene).

Historically, there have been a fair few ply their trade, yet few that remain the memory. To my mind, the greatest of all time is The White Stripes. Having seen the band at Alexandra Palace (after the release of Get Behind Me Satan), I can pay testament to just how incredible they are (live). In fact, as I type- their greatest album- White Blood Cells is spinning. It is an album that never fails to amaze me; each song seems to reveal a new treasure or secret- it is a work filled with nuance and timeless joy. The White Stripes worked so well, because of the bond between Jack and Meg. Being formerly married (they perpetrated the ruse that they were brother and sister- to avoid press intrusion and gossip), there was a natural combination of intuition and conflict; a sense of loyalty, understanding and parabond. The Detroit twosome’s third album was not only a leap forward; it retained their core sound but augmented it emphatically- as well as signified a spectral and qualitative move forward for music at the time. During 2001, music was transitioning from the decline and burial of ‘Brtipop’; changes were taking place, and people were looking around for new and inspiring sounds. White Blood Cells is a 16-track collection of near-impecable genius. Aside from the odd track (I find We’re Going to Be Friends a bit too saccharine and slight), I am stunned at just how phenomenal the album is. No band today would have the nerve to record tracks like Aluminium or Little Room; few could match the contrasting brilliance of Hotel Yorba and Fell in Love with a Girl- tracks I Can Learn and I Can’t Wait will not help but grow and reveal their charms. Of course, the duo went on to create three more brilliant and fascinating albums (before they dissolved in 2011). We all know that Jack White has gone on to work with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather (as well as a solo act); yet I feel that he was at his strongest as part of a duo. Aside from the defunct Michigan band, the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Daft Punk, Steely Dan and The Carpenters have all made their marks on the music world. If the chemistry is right, then the music made can exceed expectations; inspire generations- and transcend the sounds of solo artists and bands. Aside from Daft Punk, most of the all-time great duos have succumbed to entropy. When looking around in the modern scene, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that worthy successor are rising through. Ohio’s The Black Keys are a Garage/Blues riot whom are leading the second wave (of Garage music), and are one of the best acts on the scenes. More than mere White Stripes appropriators, the bond of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney has enforced some incredible sounds- which has seen them scoop their fair share of Grammy Awards. You can tell by my list of duos, that none emanate from the U.K. Traditionally, our nation has always favoured (and promoted) solo and band music- we have not spurned our fair share of duos. The scene is changing, and a resurgence is occurring. Recently I reviewed (which they ignored) Royal Blood; a Brighton outfit making serious waves. Reviewer bitterness aside, I find their music to be some of the strongest of the moment. BBC are tipping them as one of their acts to watch, and their White Stripes-cum-Queens of the Stone Age Rawk riot, is something we will all be hearing a lot more of (this year). Australian/Swedish sister duo Say Lou Lou (another act I have surveyed), their “organic ethereal music landscapes with flowing instruments and vocals” have captured a multitude of minds and ears. As well as U.S./U.K. wonders The Kills, we have Brighton’s own Blood Red Shoes- two distinct acts with a boy-girl dynamic. I raise the discussion, because I am always on the look out for new and different music; with an original componency- where the bond of the musicians is solid and creatively conducive. As much as I love featuring solo acts, you are always looking at the one person; shining the spotlight on the output of a sole human being- songs formed by that one individual. With bands (as there are usually four or five members), it is often more about the music- rather than the bonds. With music duos, you not only get to witness a (ersatz or real) relationship at work, but also the people behind. The band market has enjoyed an hegemony and dominance for many-a-year now, and I feel that musical two-pieces are going to be leading a charge. The likes of The White Stripes have shown just how good music can be in the hands of two people; there is greater force than with a solo act but the equivalent majesty you would hear with a band- it is music at its most compelling and economical. I guess a lot of musicians are fearful of forming duos, afraid that they may not be able to summon up the same amount of force and conviction (as a band). I hope that this policy changes (very soon), as a lot of terrific music and partnerships are being missed out on; but, for now, let me introduce you to my featured act.

In the course of my travels, I have had the pleasure of reviewing only a few acts who are based in (and hail from) the south of England. As well as my international feature-ees, most of my U.K.-based subjects are either situated in Yorkshire or Scotland (and occasionally the Midlands). A few of my recent reviews have looked at London-based acts; yet there seems to be a surfeit of Home Counties acts, currently making big impressions. Before I get more into Gypsyfingers themselves, here is a little biography: “Gypsyfingers is the collaborative musical creation of songwriter Victoria Coghlan & songwriter/producer Luke Oldfield (son of Tubular Bells’ Mike Oldfield) who blend the genres of folk, pop, spoken word, classical and electronic embedding their magical songs in subtle soundscapes. Victoria and Luke play almost all sounds and instruments themselves creating a modern orchestra of acoustic and electric instruments and textures. Multi-instrumentalists Victoria and Luke met in 2011 in London after Victoria returned moved back to her birth town from Paris. She was involved in underground gipsy, dance and rap music scenes there. Luke’s background is in rock and folk music and he runs Tilehouse Studios where his production skills were honed from a young age. Victoria and Luke’s contrasting musical backgrounds fused and soon blossomed into an intriguing and fresh-sounding collaboration, which they would work on recording during studio down-time. Victoria and Luke share vocal and songwriting duties with Victoria as the lead voice and writer. Victoria’s classically-trained intimate vocals go against the grain of recent popular culture’s trend for smokey, belting female vocalists (Adele, etc.) instead inviting the listener to listen more closely to the poetic and at times playful lyrics. The production of Luke Oldfield allow Victoria’s soft vocals space to breath and be heard, whilst building subtle musical worlds around the songs for listeners to explore“. You can see that duo have quite an extraordinary story behind them. I have known Luke for a while now, and familiar with his previous incarnations (playing in bands) and producing work. He is in love with music, and always keen to find the best and brightest around, and- in his role as producer- bring the best from them. A prolific guitarist and musician he was fortunate enough to have played at the opening ceremony of The 2012 Summer Olympics. Victoria has a striking beauty that is hard to ignore, and a voice that is unlike any I have witnessed. There is a definite trend for any singer to be the same as what is ‘in vogue’ or ‘trending’. As of 2014, the likes of Adele are still hugely favoured, and every dreary and awful (female) talent show contestant comes across as a third-rate knock-off. Setting aside my gripe and issues with ‘talent’ shows, the fact of the matter is this: we do not need another Adele. The best and richest voices stem from a unique source; those whom are determined to be themselves and present something that is unfamiliar to the listener- yet offers something wonderful, inspiring and fresh. It is no surprise that Oldfield and Coghlan are such a harmonious and successful duo. Aside from the bond of their relationship, the two share a love for evocative and spellbinding sounds; the need to be striking and original- whilst giving their public something cannot get from another act. As much as I love duos such as Royal Blood and Blood Red Shoes (aside from a shared blood type), there is not too much distinction to be found (both acts hail from Brighton). U.S. frontrunners such as The Black Keys are a little ahead of the likes of Royal Blood, but- even here- there is not a lot to choose between them. The styles and genres favoured may be different, but there is a definite emphasis on heavy sounds; in summoning up Blues and Rock sounds- with the key consideration being given to the sound rather than lyrics or the voice. Gypsyfingers are a leading a charge of duos whom not only can weave magic with their sounds, but also capture you with their words and voices. On May 2nd, the duo play at St. Pancras Old Church to launch the Circus Life album, as well as introduce some new faces to their music. On social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Gypsyfingers have a solid (and growing) following, yet I feel that they deserve more (fans). Whilst still being in their infancy, and making their first big strides, the duo are a name to watch very closely. Recently Coghlan and Oldfield have enjoyed the splendours and public transport of Brussels- as they were filming the video for their song, Return. A lot of work and effort has been expended over the past few months, ensuring that their L.P. is as strong as possible- it is a dedication to music that few other (new) acts share. Over the last few days, our duo have released the video for the song Eating Me- the lead-off single from the album. The video, shot in black-and-white (shot entirely on Super8) has a classic and noir feel to it; with Coghlan depicted in various scenes (including woodland) as the heroine. Interspersed with snippets of Oldfield, the promotional video is a perfect visual representation of the song, and as such, has been gathering positive and glowing reviews- many effusive commentators have added their praise to the duo. Our pioneering twosome have made some big leaps over the last year or so, forging and cementing their sound, and drawing in new and varied influences. Their previous E.P. (Gypsyfingers) was successfully received, and last year saw orders come in from all over the continent- including France, Belgium; Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  It seems that the duo already have a dedicated and multi-national following, which could provide tantalising future prospects. All of their previous history and movements have led them to the here and now- and the release of their debut L.P…

Gypsybath

Circus Life starts with snaps and fireworks. There is no languid lead in or silence; instantly we are off to the races. Percussive dance and hypnotic rhythm is elicited in the initial seconds; imploring you to listen hard- and grabbing your attention in the process. As a flowing and gorgeous (electric) guitar parable is laid in, the mood starts to build, and intrigue begins to rise. The intro. is succinct but effective, and portrays a breezy alacrity and sense of relaxation; as the listener is gently carried along. When or heroine’s vocals arrive, it is effective and emotive. With a slight edge of Kate Nash and Lily Allen (although sweeter and more striking than both), Coghlan tells tales where the people “Stay out late at night“.  Featuring an (unnamed central) figure; here is someone whom is “looking for someone more original“. With no phone credit or money to speak of, the song’s subject is making her way through life. Backing our heroine’s emotive and soothing voice is Oldfield whom uses electric guitar to perfectly parabond with the vocal line. Whereas most bands or acts would aimlessly weave a guitar pattern (that is detached from the vocal in terms of pace and sound), here it is almost like an additional voice; it augments the central voice but also duets perfectly. As the story traverses on, it seems that our (anti)-heroine is a little naive under it all. Her heart is gold and open, and she appears overly-trustful; as Coghlan explains: “You’re losing focus“. The crowds and friends are looking at the song’s subject, and whilst sympathising with her plight and predicament- apparently they are the only ones who see it. The song’s lyrics are brought to life by the vocal delivery, which has a clear skip in its step. Rather than being rushed or slowed, the words are given consideration; they pop and spark; kick and sway. Our heroine’s voice is clear and concise, meaning that the words are clearly audible (a lot of acts mumble or slur their words)- allowing the listener to be immersed within the tableaux. The song’s focal point loses her grip (on reality) by the second. Spending her money on whatever she pleases, the sense of naivety and recklessness is emphasised. I am not sure if our key character is based on a real-life influence (or is fictional), but everyone can relate to the type of person being described. With a modern-day Romeo and Juliet scenario being played out and witnessed, the song’s heroine has dispensed with her (former) beau- and is moving on in life. Our heroine unveils a wordless vocal parable (almost signalling the end of Act One); as guitar and vocal layers are infused- adding weight to proceedings. Coghlan is in reflective mood; sitting down drinking, she ponders events. “Bottled-up thoughts and tensions” are at the fore; yet it seems that alcohol’s effect in loosening the mind is very much needed- to rid her mind’s “constipation“. Whilst our heroine is laughing at the irony, she is “carried away at how it’s supposed to be“. The way that the words tumble almost rap-like leaves your mind racing as you keep up with Coghlan’s words. In terms of the delivery and pace, I got a faitn hint of West End Girls (a slightly faster version of it); and could not help but elicit a grin. Whilst our heroine takes a breath, our hero provides a guitar break that provides progression, punctuation- as well as a change of pace. With notes of Mark Knopfler (and Steely Dan), Oldfield’s twinkling notes tee up our heroine- for another round of slice of modern life anxiety. It is said that all of this- the overspending, naivety and doubts- are just how we live life today; how it would be good if someone could “read (my) mind“- the futility is just a part of the reality of the times. As the track reaches its climax (with another round of vocal wordlessness), a lot of ground has been covered; questions raised and pondered; lives investigated- a relevant and striking opening gambit. Circus Elephant’s embryonic steps are more relaxed and soothing than the opening track. With a gorgeous acoustic guitar arpeggio, the initial words paint striking pictures: “Born out of freedom/To a world that’s not my own“. Our heroine’s voice is less effusive and sunny than before; it has the same drive and passion but is more downbeat and serious. Seeing her mother shackled and tormented, realities and truths are revealed (“I knew this life was full of lies“). You instantly picture a baby elephant (as the central focus) trapped and enclosed; stuck in the circus and yearning to be free. Whether our heroine is speaking literally or using it as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of life, I am not sure; but it is an emotive and evocative track. The guitar work is particularly impressive here. In the opening phases it tumbles and rolls (like Leonard Cohen’s track Avalanche), but then changes speed and declination- creating a heady and entrancing mood. As our heroine tells that “My master beat me/I was weighed down by the shame“; voices are combined and blend to add emotion to the surroundings. Just as you think you are settling in for some calm reflection, the song explodes. Drum smashes tee up a yearning and impassioned brass coda; as gorgeous and swaying (wordless) vocals enter the fray. “Brightly-coloured fabrics” and circus scenery are surveyed, as our elephantic heroine remains ensconced within her torturous environment. Tears are shed and chains are shackled, and whether speaking about the hostility of the big top; or the strains of modern life and relationships, each line vividly sticks in your mind. The trumpets play, the show goes on (“This is just another day“), and an unfortunate fate is being accepted. The drum work is augmentative and impressive; the trumpet work impassioned (and strangely romantic); the guitar playing is gorgeous and highly effective- it is an incredibly moving and impressive composition. It is the kind of song you might imagine if Muse took on Led Zeppelin, doing Disney- it is emphatic and huge; compelling and hugely evocative. Over the course of two tracks a huge sonic shift has been unveiled, that it leaves you a little giddy- and excited to see what comes next! After the swells and operatics of Circus Elephant, the initial notes of Get Yourself Out of Town suggest a more relaxed fare. Grooving and snake-hipped guitar slithers (and what sounds like a bongo) provide our opening soundcape. Our heroine steps to the mic. to offer some sage and direct advice to (an unnamed) subject. Here is someone whom is “causing trouble“; but only they (and Coghlan) know why. Our heroine shows herself to be a vocal chameleon here. Whereas previous tracks have seen her present chirpy and Allen-esque; bold and choral- here she is in tender and sweet-natured mode. Her subject matter looks to ejected a wrong-doer from town, but she delivers her words with such a soothing and beautiful tone, that you get lost in the song. With Elizabeth Fraser-esque tones and Folk-tinged guitar work, our heroine announces: “I wanna see you/Really leaving“. The bustling and shimmering guitar work, not only puts your mind to the sun-filled countryside and shady recesses (of tall trees); it also reminds you of elements of Led Zeppelin III- and some of the greats of the ’60s and ’70s. Ambitions of The Taming of the Shrew and sticking “my fingers to my toes with glue” are coupled, as our heroine implores the deadbeat villan to leave town; and to get out of her life. The musical swathe that closes the track is achingly beautiful and picturesque- xylophone and strings bond with tender percussive tones. As the sun sets (and the fire dies), you wonder whether resolution was achieved and satisfaction obtained. Return has a bit of a Country feel to its introduction. With Oldfield on vocal duties, our hero talks of “Shadows in the doorway/Flicker down the halls“. One would imagine vacant doorways and peaceful silence, our hero sitting and wondering. When thoughts are empty, he sings: “I will fill them with your face“- there is a sense of romantic longing that is planted early on. Whether recounting the loss of a sweetheart or being separated from his love, the vocal is yearning and tender- and instilled with passion and desire. With the silence deafening, and a heart that is missing a huge chunk, our hero states that his love (for you) “is blind“. No amount of demon-praising and God-cursing implore can soothe his mind; as his romantic desire seems to be unslakeable. When Oldfield and Coghlan combine in voice, the lovers duet and intertwine- and the emotional levels rise high. In the second half, the duo combine their vocals and yearn to walk a shared road. Imploring and calling to one another to “dry your eyes“, there is hope that they will be reconciled; be with each other (soon) in body as well as spirit. Once more, an elliptical and riparian guitar intro. sets the scene; as You begins its course. Whereas Return saw Oldfield take the vocal lead, this time Coghlan returns to the spotlight. Her vocal performance has similar shades of This Is The Way- yet the themes here alternate from that song. The quick-fire (rap-like) delivery is present once again, as our heroine is caught in a quandary ( “I don’t know where I stand with you/But sometimes I feel I do“). Whereas This Is The Way looked at the inequities and harsh truth of life, here our heroine is growing wary of an individual- a friend or (fictional) partner- unsure where she stands and figures into their life. With questions that need answering, doubts prescient, our heroine asks: “Who am I to you?” (blending her voice with Oldfield’s). Delicate and plinking piano notes weave with acoustic guitar, as a musical break soothes the song’s anxieties. As the vocals come back around, our heroine wearily admits that “I’m used to people who don’t care“- as her words tumble forth. Wondering whether Coghlan will be asked to stay (or not), it is said that, even if she decides to leave by plane or vessel (“to follow the good stuff“) it will not matter- she is not sure where she stands, or what is expected from her. A sense of identity loss and detachment; a personal and emotional dislocation are evident. Our heroine is “baffled by (your) tactics” and is in need of some honest answers and clear-cut direction. As the song reaches its autumn stages, Coghlan burrows to the bedrock of her discourse (“Please tell me that I stand by you“), her voice still rife with emotional and perseverance. The track shows Coghlan display her skill for quick-fire (and quick-witted) lyrics; words trickle and fall at a rate of knots- meaning that the song grabs you hard and pulls you in. Boasting one of the most effective and memorable choruses of the album (so far), it is another triumph for the duo. The sixth track- and current single- arrives next, in the form of Eating Me. The intro. (here) is one of the most beautiful and flowing on the L.P., and has classical and romantic evocations. After the stirring opening has passed, our heroine is “seeking a remedy“; a way to put her mind at ease. Oldfield’s electric guitar tapestries blend with piano, the create a sonic sandstorm. Coghlan’s vocals are reflective and far less scattershot than in You (and This Is The Way). The entire feel and tone of the song puts you in mind of a 1950s (classic) film. There is a certain sense of bygone cinematic romance as the track progresses. Our heroine’s soul; which (like a hole) is getting “darker and deeper” perhaps takes your mind away from romanticized avenues, and towards something more haunting. As she talks of becoming weaker and thinner; of doctors and nurses carrying “curses in their purses” you can feel the shadows looming. Whilst our heroine is not “ready to go” (her words, once again, delineated and deployed with a rap-like quality), storm clouds rumble, and the soul aches. Whatever has afflicted our heroine has caused a lament; her mind seems weighed down by something troubling. The ghostly (wordless) vocals, wrapped around the piano-guitar cocktail whips up a heady and intoxicating chill. As our heroine speaks of fragility and aching bones; teachers and preachers whom provide leaches for weakness, there is a sense of mortality and frailty- of someone slowly losing her strength. Kudos goes to Coghlan, whom not only beautifully syncopated her lines (giving the song a ‘rollercoaster’ feel), but shows a real gift for words and economy of language- she manages to project a cornucopia of strange and wonderful images, over the course of a mere few seconds. With some aching and scene-setting guitar work, Oldfield allows our heroine to pervade and campaign- whilst investing a huge amount of mood and emotion. As the pusillanimous spirit of our heroine begs (once more) for remedy, the track ends- and takes us past the half-way mark. Steel Bones provides a necessary sense of relief, after the tortured images of Eating Me. The guitar-led intro.- as is almost a hallmark for the duo- sways and has an almost waltz-like quality. It compels you smile and relax; disengage any troubles- and just let the sound wash over you. Being one of the duo’s earliest tracks, it is one I am already familiar with; yet it fits perfectly into the album (there is no sense of disjointed mood or anachronism). With our heroine talking of her steel bones, which “harden as (I) grow“; her voice is a paragon of meditative calm and tranquility. With elements of the likes of The Carpenters and Sigur Ros (disparate I know, but I could hear it), Coghlan talks of “Wounded words you say…”; that are leading her dreams astray. I am unsure as to whom is causing imbalance and woes for our heroine, but any sense of recrimination and accusation is cocooned within a gorgeous dreamscape, which takes your imagination with it. The combination of vocal duetting; beautifully touching piano work and beautiful guitar melt your heart. The interplay of (classical-sounding) guitar and elongated strings put my in mind of The Cinematic Orchestra- a similar sense of graceful beauty is displayed here. It is a track that makes you think; makes you close your eyes- and drift away…and a song you will have on permanent repeat. A sudden rush of (guitar) strings and pianos opens Lump to your ears. As it gallops into view, our heroine arrives; telling some unfortunate truths (“I try to speak I just choke“). Desiring this feeling to fade away, Coghlan allows her breathy vocal to command; drawing you into her thoughts. As the acoustic strings trickle and flow like a river, our heroine speaks to an (anonymous) subject: “I’ve seen your darker inside“. Whether speaking of a friend, or else a former love, you cannot get help but be captured by the evocative and dream-like vocal; the multi-tracked waves- complete with delicately tender piano notes. Just as a sonic somnambulism casts its spells, the mood rises. Energised and jumping piano fuse with springing guitar, to whip up a delirious coda. The romantic and hypnotic parable melts with subtle strings; the pace modulates slightly- before our heroine returns to the mic. This time, Coghlan speaks of a restless and agitated soul (“She wants this feeling to fade away“); summoning up a phantasmal firestorm of (gorgeous) vocals- it is almost as though our heroine beckons from the heavens. The final seconds take the rush to a whisper; the story is recounted and told- and concludes a spellbinding track. It comes close to rivalling Circus Elephant- as the album front-runner- and (considering it is the antepenultimate track) shows that Gypsyfingers are tireless, unimpeachable and never in danger of dropping a step. Most albums tire towards the final few songs (meaning there is nothing to build up to), yet after Lump arrives, I found myself surprised at how many treats the album keeps throwing up. Lately takes its infant steps with less of a charge than Lump. The scene is set; the plaintive and beckoning guitar seems like the sonic representation of a lone figure walking a dusty road; the sun in their hair, and thoughts on their mind. Electric guitar vibrations infuse some urgency and invigoration into the picture, as our heroine comes forth. Coghlan- previously haunting of voice- is now back in direct mode; picking the bones of an emotional carcass (“I slammed you down and beat you to it“), her voice restrained yet filled with purpose. As she says (to her target) “I bet you thought I couldn’t do it“, Coghlan, once more, raps and spins her words. Defying expectation, showing bravery and- against the background of a life that has been “f****** cool“- our heroine is in an ambitious and motivated frame of mind. In spite of a sense of optimism, there are still pitfalls and hurdles that are being encountered. As the next verse arrive, her back is turned (“How could I have know that I’d regret it“); a figure whom acts the fool has let our heroine down- something that was not expected. Forgiveness has been given- something that is regretted- and Coghlan machine-guns words of recrimination and self-reflection. As our duo combine their vocals, singing about the fever and malaise that boredom has provided (“I’ve been feeling so lazy“)- a reappraised (optimism) refrain arrives. The song never slips in doleful or sombre mood; the bright and energizing guitar keeps the composition buoyant and hopeful. After the mid-point, Coghlan looks back at events; more philosophical and revitalised- she comes back to the fold. As our heroine confesses “I’ve had a second chance“- love has been found once more- she understands the meaning of the “path of (my) past“. As she contemplates “how things should happen“, it seems that whatever was weighing her down seems curcumscribed- call it ‘fate’, or reality; things have worked out. Coghlan (in the song) has the charming vocals or early-career Allen, yet her (Coghlan) words and thoughts are more compelling; her delivery much more pleasing on the ear- and the song a lot stronger than the Hammersmith-born singer has created. The final song of Circus Life arrives in the form of The Island. It is perhaps the perfect title for the final step of this musical travelogue- a final destination; a safe (haven) arrival. A tranquil and emotive intro begins our final track. Instant visions of a ship (or vessel) arriving towards an island are rustled up- perhaps appropriate, given the track’s header. It is perhaps the most stunning intro. of the ten, and put me in mind of the finest work of The Cinematic Orchestra. When I listen to tracks such as Arrival of the Birds and Transformation, I can hear some of the same beauty and grace in The Island’s opening. The vocal here is Oldfield’s; he has been collected by boats (from the island) to “take me away“. Perhaps the silence and loneliness of the isle paradise is not so idyllic; our hero yearns for another horizon- and asks for a reason why he should stay. Forever he has tried to “fit in the shapes“, his voice aches and longs. Whilst not as angelic as Coghlan’s it is a touching and honest vocal; one which is filled with meaning and conviction- and no less striking than our heroine’s. With the ship drifting in the breeze, our hero imagines the “wreckage beneath“; the darkness of the ocean; and an inescapable depth. When our duo combine their tones- backed by shivering strings- it seems as though Coghlan is playing the role of the Siren- luring our hero forth. In the same was as a track like Street Spirit (Fade Out) ends The Bends; Dream Brother ends Grace, The Island is the perfect track to conclude on- as it is not only one of the strongest, but instilled with beauty and spine-chilling moments. Arriving off of the back of a song (Lately) it is not only a stunning sonic (and mood) shift, but also a song which succinctly combines the talents of the duo. Some of the strongest moments arrive when they blend their voices, as this is true on The Island. Before you become fully entranced within the symphonic whirlpool of beauty, Oldfield is back with us. Speaking of riches (both literal and spiritually); although we are “all millionaires“, when it comes down to things it’s all just “a bucket of air“. You can imagine our hero, lying down on a boat- the island behind him- as he sets off to a new arrival. With his mind heavy, it seems that things might be alright. With a final round of spectral vocals, the song dies down- as you sit and (try to) take it all in.

On the evidence of Circus Life, I have no hesitation in predicting that Victoria Coghlan and Luke Oldfield’s Gypsyfingers bandwagon will be gathering huge steam. Previous to reviewing the album, I had heard songs such as Steel Bones- so was familiar with just what they were capable of. Their debut album is a confident and wonderful collection, that shows how the duo have grown. For anyone familiar with their previous work, you the duo’s core personality and components are present and correct- yet they have taken a big musical leap forwards. Coghlan is a singer whom is already ahead of many of her contemporaries. Whilst a lot of modern singers either favour a huge belting voice, or soft and (let’s be honest) un-captivating utterances, our heroine has managed to present and cement a voice that is unique and striking- yet has plenty of power and beauty within. As a songwriter, her palette is multifarious and stunning, and she is a talented and inventive wordsmith. Like my previous review subject (The Glass Child), not only was I captured by the music, but could relate to the lyrics. Great storytelling and poetry blends with vivid and stirring scenes and avenues- a rare treat for any listener. There are a lot of great female singer/songwriters on the scene, yet few whom distinguish themselves fully from the back. I have surveyed a few of them this year, and Coghlan is someone who can be added (very near to) the top of the list. Likewise, Oldfield adds his huge talents into the melting pot, and adds colours and huge emotional weight to every track. Being a prolific and multi-genre musician, he combines wonderfully with his cohort; his vocalisations are augmentative and hugely effective, too. It is perhaps unsurprising that our duo have a natural sympatico; yet it is surprising that they can weave their two- disparate and varied- backgrounds together: and infuses them so seamlessly. Because of their affection and kinship you can hear it come to life on the record. Nothing sounds forced or artificial across the ten tracks; everything is organic and completely seemless- what you would expect from a band/act whom had been recording for years. Similarly, there is a huge amount of confidence on the L.P. Every note and line is sung with emotion as well conviction- making sure each track sticks in your mind. The compositions are nuanced and sparse; emotive and symphonic (in places), and the sonic threads combine superbly. Whereas contemporaries such as Royal Blood have perhaps a one (or two) dimensional aesthete, the Gypsyfingers is rich and variegated. I know how much music means to both of them, and how hard they have worked on their debut- not only to make it sound as good as possible, but make sure it was recorded at all. This all comes through when you investigate Circus Life; is an opus that has its instant ‘classics’ but also a few tracks that reveal their charms (across multiple listens) a little later on. When I have reviewed albums by new acts, I often find that they tend to sag at the half-way (or two-thirds) mark, yet there is a pleasing and strong consistency in Circus Life. The production is brilliant as well; meaning that every song is as clear and concise as possible; full of atmosphere and wonder- and the running order is spot on too. One minor (non) criticism would be that you are left wanting more (after track 10); maybe an additional song or two would slake your thirsts; but such is the charm and intention of the album- it leaves you wanting more. On that note, I am sure our dynamic duo are looking to the future. Previous success has shown that they have a definite international market, and their music is such as it can be extrapolated and digested but audiences from all around the world- meaning they could be very busy, very soon. I know that nations such as France, Germany and Belgium would love their brand of song; as would larger (commercial) nations such as the U.S. and Canada. I feel that- maybe in a year or so- Coghlan and Oldfield could see themselves playing venues around the world; their unique and stirring sounds will be in demand across various nations. When we consider new music, and look around for inspiring acts and songwriters, then you should take the time to investigate Gypsyfingers. I feel that there are plenty of great bands and ‘heavier’ acts out there at the moment; with perhaps not a lot of room available for mobility and surprise. Similarly, we have our share of great solo acts- whom favour powerful vocals or something subtler- that do what they do very well. To my mind, we are bereft of duos whom offer something genuinely different (and exceptional); that which breaks away from Rock’s parable- and gives the listener and endeavouring music-lover something unique. The combined talents of our duo, as well as their natural bond and shared affection shines through in their music- they have the potential for serious longevity, and have a unabatable passion for their craft. Circus Life is an L.P. that I will be investigating for some time to come, and revelling in its myriad charms. I always advise people to pay patronage to new musicians whom are thoroughly deserving; to provide encouragement and support as much as possible. Their debut is a brilliant accomplishment, but also shows just a glimmer of what they can achieve- and how far they can go. Both Coghlan and Oldfield are itinerant and tirelessly hard-working, so they should seriously entertain the possibility of a wave in demand (for gigs and new material). For now, settle back; digest the scenes, themes and dreams contained within Circus Life- and witness a young duo intent on making big impressions. In a week that has been particular fraught and stressful to me, Gypsyfinger’s newest offering has not only provided me with a (much-needed) smile and anxiety release; but also inspired my own creative mind. I have long dreamed of snatching up Oldfield for a band of my own, yet I fear that our hero’s talents will see him taking Gypsyfingers to new horizons. Coghlan’s gorgeous voice and captivating songwriting has compelled me to pick up my pen and work on my own songs; craft my sound and try to get the best out of my own work. For all my effusive and florid words, the real proof is in the pudding- how you view their album and what the future demand will be. Dive in, and allow yourself to get lost, as our duo have created an album that will be revealing layers for many months to come. It is the sound of a two-piece with a lot to say; with a real appetite for music. As much as anything…

IT is one of the finest albums I have heard all year.

____________________________________________________________________

     Track Listing:

This Is The Way- 9.7/10.

Circus Elephant- 9.9

Get Yourself Out of Town- 9.6

Return- 9.6

You- 9.7

Eating Me- 9.8

Steel Bones- 9.8

Lump- 9.9

Lately- 9.8

The Island- 9.9

Standout Track: Circus Elephant

____________________________________________________________________________________

Follow Gypsyfingers:

Official:

http://www.gypsyfingers.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/gypsyfingers

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/gypsyfingersmusic

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/gypsyfingers

BandCamp:

http://gypsyfingers.bandcamp.com/

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GypsyfingersMusic

Last F.M.:

http://www.last.fm/music/Gypsyfingers

Songkick:

http://www.songkick.com/artists/4508098-gypsyfingers

Tumblr:

http://gypsyfingersmusic.tumblr.com/

Tour Dates:

http://www.gypsyfingers.com/#!gigs/c12yc

Album Review- The Glass Child: I’d Like to Remain a Mystery.

 

ALBUM REVIEW:

 

 

 

The Glass Child

 

I’d Like to Remain a Mystery

 

9.7/10.0

The album, I’d Like to Remain a Mystery is available from:

http://theglasschild.bandcamp.com/album/id-like-to-remain-a-mystery

_____________________________________________________________________

Anglo-European artist Charlotte Eriksson provides “Alternative Pop with singing angels and screaming ghosts”. Her music provides escapism, ethereal beauty, raw emotion- as well as poetic illustriousness. On the evidence of her debut L.P., this stunning talent will be a huge future name to watch.

_____________________________________________________________________

WHEN seeking out a great new act, I am often left impressed by a number of things.

Sometimes it is the music and ambition of the artist (that strikes me); occasionally it is their background and heritage that stands out- rarely do I find a musical ‘complete package’. An artists whom has a fascinating and detailed background, tied with an intriguing personality and projection is something that is a rarity in the modern scene. The mainstream and proliferation of generic solo acts has somewhat watered down the scene; few genuinely merit-worthy acts are making moves in the current climate. This point is less true when applied to bands, yet in terms of solo acts, I am at a loss to think of any that truly stick in the mind. Historically, we have had our fair share, but at the moment there is a bit of a scarcity. I have always loved Laura Marling as an artist; she is quiet and reserved, preferring to let her music do the talking- and it is music that sticks in the mind. As well as being one of the best singer/songwriters in the world, she comes across as articulate, intelligent and well-read: the epitome of what a modern-day artist should be. Located in L.A., the British-born artist seems to get better with each album. Aside from Marling, there are a couple of ‘mainstream’ artists capable of grabbing your attentions- yet it is new artists whom provide most fascination. In my course of surveying new music, I have encountered many weird, wonderful and lovely lone acts; each providing their own brand of brilliant song. From Canadian David Ward; through to Swede Anna von Hausswolff; to Brits Jen Armstrong and Second Hand Poet, there has been great variation and quality offered. Most of my ‘feature-ees’ tend to be British, and when looking to international quarters, I have been left somewhat ambivalent and jaded. Over the last few weeks I have reviewed two international acts; spent a lot of time focusing on their music- only for the subsequent review to be ignored and not acknowledged. It is a sad sign of the times that not everyone I take the time to feature will offer feedback; provide any sort of thanks or recognition- I guess it is a pitfall and cross I have to bear. It is not something that is reserved to foreign acts; and in both cases, I was not especially overwhelmed with the music on offer. My subject today is different in every sense, and I shall introduce you to her in due course. Before I do, I want to highlight a couple of other (prescient) points. As well as there being scant few acts whom provide tantalization in various areas, I have witnessed few European acts. Aside from van Hausswolff (as well as fellow Swedes, Club 8), I have heard of few European artists. Publications such as The Guardian and The Girls Are are doing their best to seek out Europe’s best, but they are amongst a minority. It is a shame, because it is here where some seriously phenomenal acts emanate. I have a love of French and German music; the Eletro artists, bands and solo talent that these nations promote. For my money, when it comes to seeking out diversity and the freshest and most vibrant music, Sweden is leading the charge. When I reviewed Dance/Disco-Pop act Club 8, I was staggered by their vibrancy, intentions and sheer quality. They tempt sunny themes and elliptical vibrancy through their mandates. Conversely, country-mate Anna von Hausswolff- with her Kate Bush-esque voice- mixes languid and symphonic church organs with something deliriously moody and striking. Her songs are mini-operas and you cannot help but to think that she will be a major star very soon. My general point is, that there is too much focus on the U.K. and U.S.- a lot of great European treasure is being left undiscovered. There seems to be a bolder sense of adventure and ambition here; a less homogenized and stagnated sense of ‘playing it safe’- greater mobility and pioneer, and as a result, more original music. My featured artists today not only provides a storybook background and loveable personality; yet has hereditary and native passion- tied with music that is both tangible and universal, but strikingly original and fresh. There seems to be (to me at least) a communication breakdown between the media, social media and music-lovers. I have mentioned a couple of publications which have a varied palette, yet most U.K.-based music sites focus too heavily on homegrown acts. It is understandable to an extent, yet many people are missing out on some of the world’s best music- for no good reason at all. When I discovered the brilliance of Los and the Deadlines (a band composed of four chaps from different corners of the globe), I was not only blown away by their music (I reviewed their E.P., Part One: Bank); but because of the kinship of the quartet. Blending different nationalities, background and personalities into the band, has not only lead to a richer and more electrifying whole, but also compelled me to seek out similarly diverse acts. I was disappointed that I happened upon the group somewhat surreptitiously; yet am grateful that I did. Keeping in touch with Niels Bakx (the band’s guitarist), I know that the Los’ boys have big future ambitions. I hope that a solution is found to a (worrying) problem; that sites are set up that are dedicated to foreign and international talent- ensuring that we in the U.K. (as well as the U.S. etc.) are made aware of what the continent has to offer. That conundrum is something we will have to solve another day, but for now, let me introduce you to someone rather special.

The Glass Child is the moniker of Charlotte Eriksson, and is someone I was made aware of via a mutual contact (Niels Bakx). Our heroine is someone whom sticks in your mind instantly. As well as being stunningly beautiful, she comes across as being born from a filmmaker’s dream. Eriksson herself confesses that her trajectory and background has all the hallmarks of a coming-of-age/fairytale saga; yet she has a pragmatic and level-headed approach to music. Before I investigate The Glass Child in more detail, I shall provide some biography: “The story of The Glass Child, Charlotte Eriksson, is one of those you usually see on movies. Only 18 years old she left everything she had and knew, family and friends, and moved to London to dedicate her life to her music and art. A vague dream about reaching out with her music became an everlasting journey about fighting for your dreams, self discovery, finding your true purpose and creating something that will mean something, now with over 25,000 dedicated followers and fans with her on her journey through her social sites like Twitter and Tumblr. Forward three years and she has started her own record label Broken Glass Records, released 4 EPs, released her critically acclaimed debut full-length ‘I’d like to remain a mystery’ in February 2013, had her single “I Will Lead You Home” reaching #2 on the Swedish Itunes-chart, was named Breakthrough Indie Artist Of The Year by Lemonade Magazine and been played on major radios such as BBC6, Sveriges Radio (Sweden) and 3FM (Netherlands). All alone, with nothing but hard work and determination she has built an incredibly dedicated community now with over 25,500 followers on Twitter, and to let her fans in on her journey even more she published her first book “Empty Roads and Broken Bottles; in search for The Great Perhaps” in April 2013, telling the true and raw story about a girl who had a dream and went for it with all her heart. The book was beautifully received and sold out after 3 days of pre-order. Charlotte is a wandering soul and after spending a year in England with nothing but a guitar and a will to search for something more, playing wherever she could play and crashing at fans’ floors, she has just made the move to Berlin, Germany, to seek new adventures and spread her music wider. “I believe in writing your own story. Do you wait for things to happen, or do you make them happen yourself?”, she says, and also shows how she’s constantly connecting with her fans in new ways. In September she released an acoustic edition of her album ’I’d Like To Remain A Mystery’, giving it away for free through Noistrade as a way to thank her fans, and the album was featured as a Top Download after only a few hours. With her constant search for new horizons the stories are endless, and to finish up a productive year she’s now releasing her new acoustic EP “Love Always, Your Tragedy”, and explains that “These songs are the letters I never dared to send. I wasn’t brave enough to speak up, so I sang instead.” “I wanted to turn my life into my art. My very existence into a poem. This is my story. It’s been a beautiful fight.” You can tell that as well as having a compelling and against-the-odds background, our heroine is determined and very much an independent spirit. I am always looking around for inspiration, and the fact that Eriksson is so young, yet has already set up her own record label- well, it is hugely impressive. Her output has been prodigious, and she is a restless and ambitious talent, intent of making huge waves in the music industry- for as many years as possible. Despite being focused and determined, The Glass Child is as a result of a combination of various musicians and input. As we speak, our heroine is in Germany and (with Bakx as well as other musicians) has been putting together the sounds, sights and sensations that will form her next L.P. To Eriksson, music is very much a collaborative and communal thing; she combines with wonderful musicians to ensure that her ideas and music are as rich as possible. This sense of openness and reciprocity is emphasised in her relationship with her fans. Having amassed a huge following across social media platforms, Eriksson has an impassioned bond with her supporters. Our heroine always seems genuinely chuffed and grateful when her music is shared, loved and well-received: it is a mutuality that has paid dividends. Too many modern artists seem rather distance or detached (with their fans); coming across as being too businessmanlike- and not projecting an air of approachability. I have featured too many acts whom do not give enough to their fans; whom seem cold and aloof- there seems no need for it. The Glass Child is a musical steamroller that is gathering huge momentum. Looking at critical reviews, it is clear that her music and artistry has hit a major chord:

Take a look now at someone who’s taken a different route to get to the mainstream and someone who’s going to shatter the notion that success is all about ‘industry’ or watered-down throwaway music. The Glass Child has broken through with some music of real depth for her fans to keep. This is how music is going to sound good again. ‘Ghost’s’ shows the makings of an icon, I believe. ” Musicfeeds.com.au

“..she tears down walls with her music, using starkly honest lyrics and intense vocal chops to draw her listeners in and turn them inside out

whatstheruckus.com

There’s an ethereal beauty to Charlotte’s vocals that speaks straight from the heart. She knows how to make every word count, how to tear the emotion from every syllable.”

totallyvivid.com

You will be extremely hard pushed to find an EP that gives more than “The Glass Child”, let alone a debut EP. If there is any justice in this world, Charlotte Eriksson’s talents will be given the exposure they truly deserve.”

roomthirteen.com

 The kind of voice that plays with your emotions and the type of lyrics that seem so similar to you, it’s almost scary. With brilliant music to match her voice and character, The Glass Child is an artist to look out for.”

snapshotsymphony.tumblr.com

Once in a while you stumble across an artist you have never heard of before and they just blow you away.”

Roomthirteen.com

Our Swedish beauty has managed to win a great deal of hearts and minds thus far-and is in no mood to slow down now. As well as being a prolific and brilliant musician, Eriksson is also a novelist and poet: one whom has a genuine future in both arenas. The multi-talented star displays all of her work and ambitions on her official site (link is at the bottom of this review); and I would implore everyone to check her site out. Too many times, I come across artists whom have a sparsely sourced and empty personal site; their social media sites are meagre and threadbare- they fear that by putting in too much detail they are giving too much away. The Glass Child is an act whom not only produces brilliant and inspiring music, but also lets you into her world. Her official website has blog posts; top-10 lists of her favourite novels and albums; links to her music and photographs- as well as detailed up-to-date information. It is clear that music is an obsession that she is in awe of; something that she cannot live without: “I can’t sleep at night because how could I close my eyes when there’s a whole world out there, calling my name, waiting to be explored. I love intelligent conversations while laying on empty streets at 5am in the morning, and I love watching the sun rise over a world that is still asleep. I make mistakes and I mess up a lot, but I’m trying to learn how to be okay with that. Some days I couldn’t care less about what all of you think about my art because this is my life and all I have. But then there are days when all I want is to be beautiful and good enough and someone to count on.“. Before I get down to reviewing I’d Like to Remain a Mystery, it is worth noting that the album was released last year. I am compelled to review it, not only to introduce some terrific songs to your attention, but also to provide a snapshot of a young artist whom has already had a busy career. Her five-track E.P., Love Always, Your Tragedy is an incredible collection of songs, and a testament to a fierce and diverse talent. The music is touching and inviting; personal yet relatable to all. As Eriksson explained: “Every song on this EP started out as something I wanted or needed to tell someone. They are all letters of things I never said but wish I would have and I’m learning how to say things when I still have the chance. This EP is my letters to 5 different people who became a part of my life in one way or another, and I want these postcards to be yours. I wish we could all let each other know that we matter, and I hope that you will send this postcard to someone who might not know“. That E.P., was a bold and impressive statement from a talent pouring her heart and soul into her music. Previous to this E.P., Broken Little Winter and This Is How Ghosts Are Made were unveiled- two stellar and fine examples of a unique and stunning talent. That was then, and this (semantics aside) is now. The Glass Child lists the ‘band interests’ as “Mythologies, coffee, laying on empty streets at 5am in the morning, talking about the meaning of oceans, escapism, whiskey, tattoos, pop-bands from the 90s, eat pancakes“. They are ingredients and components that have resulted in some fantastic music. Whilst we await what Eriksson’s next album has to offer, I have been compelled to investigate her previous offering, I’d Like to Remain a Mystery.

Picture of The Glass Child

Before you get into the music itself, it is the cover of I’d Like to Remain a Mystery that makes its marks. Baring a single image of our heroine; backed by white fairy lights, casting her gaze downwards. The cover photo is scratched and aged, given it the look of something that has been handled and looked at multiple times. The mixture of stylish lettering (showing the album title and ‘band name’) set against the stirring and potent image, is both modern and classic; familiar yet highly personal and fitting. Once you take your eyes and mind from our heroine- and investigate the album- there is plenty to get your teeth into. At 17 tracks, there is a bounty of varied and brilliant music (if you listen on BandCamp you can also access lyrics to the L.P.s tracks). A combination of echoed swirls and twinkling xylophone (or electric piano) notes herald in the title track. Eriksson’s voice is soft and tender; it skips and plays; teases and breathless implores- “Can you hear me calling, calling/I’m inside that falling star/I’m not human I am your belief“. The words tumble and trickle forth- there is an emotive pause- before further lines are syncopated forth. Our heroine’s voice is delicate and passionate as she claims “I think I made a myth of my own life“; a line both heart-breaking and perfectly apt (given the almost movie-like course Eriksson’s life taken). With galloping drums, our heroine’s voice goes from a Bjork-like child-like whisper to a full-bodied belt within a few seconds. Words about music-making and writing your own history (“It’s all about the way you write it down“), mingle with scenes of doubt and confusion (“No one knows if I’m real“). Eriksson’s voice is in emphatic form as she paints the picture of a young woman; part myth, part human: unsure of which she is, and how people see her. The track switches between hot-blooded vocal strength and delicate and balletic lightness: the effect is stunning. Eriksson’s love of words and poetry are evident from the first track; perhaps emphasised (and distilled) in the track’s final thoughts: “They will take me to the ocean/spread my ash across the sea/My story will go on but /I’ll remain a mystery“. After the dramatic swells and inner-visions of the opening track; Stay arrives. Again, there is a gentle and restrained intro. (this time light finger-picking guitar); one which leads to a beautiful and romantic vocal. Our heroine is in her lover’s arms- him resting on her shoulder- the two entwined, as our heroine whisper’s “we’ll be okay“. With misty eyes and her thoughts dedicated to her (anonymous) sweetheart, Eriksson yearns for her lover’s touch (“All my fear disappear when you’re getting near“); a man whom she wishes would stay- a safe haven whom can keep her warm. There are no vocal explosions or mood rushes here- everything is kept level as our heroine weaves her voice within the acoustic guitar notes. Eriksson’s voice retains her native accent, and sounds like no one else (a rarity in modern music). Softly imploring, it appears that the absence of her man has taken its toll: “I’ve never felt so wrong/When you are gone my fire’s gone“. With a particular powerful and evocative chorus (in which Eriksson’s voice trembles and rises emotively), it is a gorgeous paen to a treasured human- you wonder whether our heroine ever got her beau back. The Haunted flows similarly to the title track; our heroine’s voice once again switching between soft and hugely powerful. Riparian images mix with oblique scenes; personal detachment and visions of escape are uttered (“Don’t track me down I was born to leave/Don’t bother my name it was never me“). As with the previous two tracks, there is a sense of not belonging; a feeling of loneliness and mythology linger within The Haunted’s (approrpriately-titled) words. It is when Eriksson strikes and belt; rises and growls, that you stand to attention. Her voice sounds at once child-like; impassioned and womanly the next- wrapped around our heroine’s unique tones. There is a clear sense of dissatisfaction and regret (“I can’t stand the thought me“); of a young woman wanted to change or to get away. Whilst Byzantine poetry and fractured protestations are unveiled, our heroine multi-tracks her voice; weaves her vocals within one another- creating an evocative and haunting mood. Backed by bass, electric guitar and drums (that switch from charming and soft to swelling), it is another personal tale from a sensitive and determined woman- and completes an impressive 1-2-3. With an arpeggio swirl of beauty (including some classical elements), Give Myself Away begins. Our heroine’s vocals and sexy and breathy; composed of some brilliant phrasing and pacing, it is perhaps the most evocative track so far. Whilst Eriksson says (to an unnamed figure) “I call you my friend/why do they keep telling me to fight you“; her voice twinkles and coos (sounding a little like Bjork in parts). As the song starts to change gears, our heroine opens up; once again thoughts turn to release and escape (“I offer you my soul, if you take me with you/I swear I give my all, if you never let me go“). Again, we witness a song that changes pace (at once fast and breathless, the next tenderly slow); one which boasts a subtle yet powerful composition- and showcases our heroine’s vocal range. As she scores words that tempt darkened thoughts (“Think I’ve gone insane/Felling something pouring in my veins“) her voice remains controlled and powerful- never succumbing to histrionics. Consumed by You sees Eriksson back in romantic longing mode; speaking to a central figure, her voice (again) is aching and tender as she pours her soul onto the page – “A heart of stone and all these things I have become/I’m consumed by you“. Whereas Stay had a composition that was largely delicate and ethereal, here upbeat and punchy drum mixes with light and ghostly guitar. Eriksson’s voice reaches fever-pitch as she strikes: “Will you pull the trigger/Tell me what to say“. It is the heaviest song of the set so far, and Paramore anthemic are sprinkled into the melting pot. With gothic imagery (“The dead will dance for me tonight“) and scenes of screaming, crucifixion and ghosts, it is perhaps the most visually evocative (and provocative) track so far. Eriksson displays her lyric talent, again mixing oblique with poetic- but it is her voice which is the star. Over the first few tracks we have heard glimpses of how powerful her voice can be; here it is rampant and huge; mixed with sweet and soft evocations it a showcase of the young artist at her peak. With initial lyrics that tell of eyes meeting, stranger and “Chemics and I forgot“; Hit The Ground fascinates with its lyrics. Whilst the vocal performance is impressive and typically assured, the way Eriksson uses language and delivers her words is fascinating. Whereas the likes of Bjork cut and paste images; mix words and odd sentiments into a single line, here Eriksson presents her most intriguing set so far. When she says “I am fallen with me starlight/Making poems out of tears”, we see the blend of oblique and poetic all at once. Our heroine delivers her words beautifully; trickling lines together; pausing and changing pace within the space of a line- wringing as much emotion as possible from the lines. Whereas the previous track is a possible vocal showcase, here the emphasise (to me) is on the words. Our heroine introduces redemptive notes (“I was lost but now I’m found“); romantic images (“Whisper softly in my ear“) with striking images (“Defreeze my soul, Lips so cold“). As it comes to its conclusion, you wonder just what our heroine will offer next. Somewhere I Belong begins in emphatic and rebellious mood. Eriksson is in anxious mood, as she whips up an early sonic storm- “Now my stomach hurts again/And I don’t know what to do“. Dealing again with belonging and finding herself, our heroine delivers one of her most impassioned vocals. Words trip and strike as her band offer up a potent and powerful backing. Lyrics range from reflective and thoughtful (“Too old to be was strong/Too young to move on“) to self-destruction (“Spending my nights on the floor again/Empty bottles all around“). A departure from what has come back before, it is the most raucous (is that the right word?) and forceful number, and one that sees our young heroine trying to find her place; again wrestling with inner demons- and trying to find happiness. With an elongated and echoed (backing) vocal and sweet-natured composition, Letdown seems to deal with compromise and having to fit around someone else’s ideal (“I can tell you exactly/what you want to hear“). Whether speaking about a lover, or society in general, our heroine is concerned; worried that the way she dresses and speaks is perhaps wrong- that she should change who she is. When Eriksson says “I’m scared like hell I’m not enough“, you can hear the strain in her voice. With growls, sweet sighs and powerful rises, the vocal performance is (again) emotive and powerful. It is the most reflective and introspective track, with our star starting to doubt who she is- and the ‘real’ her. It appears that “nothing seems to please you“, she proclaims; admitting: “I’ll keep it to myself“. Again, Letdown sees Eriksson mix emphatic vocals with an impressive band performance. Past the 2:00 mark, the song goes into overdrive; our heroine pushing against oppression and trying to stay true to herself (“Oh you’re killing my belief/to be myself/and if I can’t make my own way I quit“). Creepy Little Story has one of the most intriguing intros. of the L.P., with a fairground waltz-cum-midnight tango, it sets the mood beautifully. Revolving around the central figure of Sophie; here is someone whom is pretty and small (“but she’s tired of it all“). Eriksson is the angel watching over; her voice is measured and gleeful, as she steps away from personal analysis and biography: to introduce some gothic and fictional storytelling. This girl who “grew up just like me“, is a curious and dark figure whom you will imagine in your head. Our heroine introduces creepy boys, haunting and strange images; Sophie it seems is not so fictional after all: “It turned out she was me“. With a beautiful melody and deft changes of pace, it is a departure from the previous numbers; and a perfectly mid-L.P. track. It blends Eriksson’s gift for storytelling and image-setting with a vocal that is at once delightful; and the next, unsettling. Hold On has a beautiful introductory coda and (brief) gorgeous wordless vocals. A pattering drum drive and rushing vocals breathe huge life into the track, as our heroine leads us into the song. Here, there is a sense of longing and romance; an overall positive mood and sense of yearning. The vocal is reliably gorgeous and snaking; bringing life to direct and impassioned words (“Hold on to what you’ve got/And I will never let this pass me by“). With London ablaze, and our heroine in full voice, there are all the expected hallmarks here: ghostly evocations, passionate implore and longing. Eriksson’s voice goes from a passionate belt to sweet whispers as she implores: “I could live as if I’ll never live again“. Hold On rises and swells to emphasise the emotions and lyrics, our heroine’s voice matching the energy and mood. There is a certain anthemic catchiness to the chorus, and is a track that I can see being a live favourite in time. As it reaches the closing stages, Eriksson has one (final) confession: “I am so scared of losing what I gain that I’d rather have nothing at all“. Stirring piano sounds herald the arrival of Lover I Don’t Have To Love; and the introduction of a tale of dislocated relations. Our heroine introduces a nameless figure; a man who seems mysterious (“When I asked your name/You asked the time“)- someone whom is perhaps aloof, or else seductive. The track is one of the most overtly sexual and direct. Eriksson tells of her hands “Pressing hard against your jeans“; the two lovers tongue entwined in a passionate embrace (“Trying to keep the words from coming out“). Whereas songs like Stay were more tender and coquettish, perhaps; here the other side of love is investigated- a pure and unadulterated passion. Complete with a strong and impressive vocal, the track is one of the strongest on the album, and once again shows another side to our heroine. We have gone from tender passion, to gothic scene; strange creatures and anti-heroines have been seen- here there is something sweatier; exhilarating and unadulterated. Eriksson has parts Lana Del Ray; bits of Bjork- and plenty of unique flair and wonder. It is a mini opera of lust and passion. In the morning, “We forgot where your car was parked” as the two lovers stagger into the morning light. Eriksson is very much on top and in charge, yet she still projects an air of caution and trepidation. The impassioned and enraptured repetition of “You didn’t hurt me” in the final moments is a fitting end to a brilliant track. “Come with me I’ll take you to the ocean where we can breathe” are the words that open Oceans. The track surveys a bygone romance; looks back at the good times and good nights that were shared; before our heroine’s sweetheart chose “reality/Reality instead of me“. With another powerful and memorable vocal, Eriksson is backed by guitars; and a whole lot of history. As our heroine pleads and implores, her voice rises and swells to operatic heights. With a frantic and emotive delivery, she speaks to her lover; begging him not to let go (and leave her on her own); offering (in exchange for devotion) genuine affection (” So close your eyes/I’ll show you love tonight“). By this point in the L.P., I am still impressed by the way Eriksson employs language; twists and turns her words- able to offer up some fascinating images. “And the piano full of blood/From the songs that I’ve been bleeding/A bottle full of wine I am standing on the ceiling” puts your mind into her imagination- you cannot help but to imagine and picture those words in full flight. With effective yet sparse backing, there is a larger emphasis on the voice and words; meaning that the full force of Eriksson’s words are felt. It is an atmospheric and augmentation number that displays our heroine’s lyrical talent; as well as putting her heart and soul under the spotlight. I Will Lead You Home boasts, perhaps, the most impressive intro. of the album. A beautiful and soothing acoustic line is unveiled; one that relaxes you and makes you smile (at the same time). Our heroine acts as a safe pair of arms; a guiding light in the track; she sends a message out (to an unknown subject(s) that she will guide them. “When you’re out of breath“; “When you’re left alone“- Eriksson says- then have no fear: “I will lead you home again“. Bolstered by a gorgeous and tender vocal display; with acoustic guitars that mix (Pink Moon-era) Nick Drake with Kings of Convenience, it is a heartwarming and heart-melting song. In a town with “Lovers walking hand in hand without a sound“, our heroine offers a helping hand. Whether Eriksson is speaking to a lover, friend (or perhaps a form of herself), it is unsure; what is clear the conviction and intention within the track. Whereas previous numbers may have left you exhausted (where emotions and hearts are being put through the wringer), I Will Lead You Home is a nice counter-balance and burst of sunlight. With wicked wordplay and striking lyrics, Stuck In My Mind starts its gestation amidst swooning and summer breeze guitar. Erikson’s voice is a paragon of touching beauty and seductiveness, as she states how she is going around in circles; looking behind her- “Two steps forward, one step back“. There is self-doubt and uncertainty, for sure, yet it is enveloped in the warmth and strength of the vocal, that is never becomes foreboding or heavy-handed. Oscar Wilde is quoted (and paraphrased), as books of wisdom are perused and studied; our heroine is doubting her mind and tripping over her feet. Whether the track documents a general anxiety (or a large malaise) I am unsure, yet it is obvious that there is a need for self-discovery; for answers and guidance a way to get out of this funk. Past the 1:00 mark, the mood swells (before exploding), as our heroine starts to doubt her mind. Monsters, ghosts and trees are employed as metaphors and symbols of oppressive force; Erikson pleads: “Can someone come figure me out“. As the track’s embers smoulder and the music ends, you wonder how much our heroine can take; whether she has found answers and reasons- and just what is coming next. Our antepenultimate track, Tell The World (Acoustic Version), arrives; with a dreamy lullaby (acoustic) guitar intro. is softly welcomes you in. A song that starts as “A journey on a broken piece of glass“, our heroine’s voice is at its tender best. Backed by the gorgeous guitar, Eriksson’s voice spikes and rises as she sings “I know you thought I disappeared“. An emphatic and determined call-to-the-world, our heroine repeats: “Tell the world I’m still alive/I found a way, yeah I survived“. With her voice if full flight, and filled with conviction, it is hard message (and song), to ignore. With a specular and romantic intro.- that reminded me of a Kate Bush gem- Play Pretend (Piano Version) arrives. Eriksson’s voice is in no laughing mood; she is fed up (of the unnamed figure), imploring him to “keep (talking) to yourself“. Her (former) beau has been playing her like strings and manipulating her for too long. Fed up of being used, our heroine has been diminished and ignored; proclaiming: “Just tell me how you want me to be!” With the soft (yet emotive) piano- flecks of percussion- and our heroine’s inflamed vocals, it is a stirring mood piece- both emotional yet defiant. Taking us to land, The Devil’s Sin (Acoustic Version) comes before us. Eriksson’s voice is, once more, soft and tender; backed by a delicate and evocative piano accompaniment. Speaking of the song’s central focus, our heroine sings: “My mind in his grip and through my lips/The devil’s words I let slip“. As with Play Pretend, Eriksson’s voice goes from a whispered coo, through to a gravelled growl; up to a full-bodied roar. With doubts and anxieties in mind (“I no longer know what’s wrong or right“), our heroine is feeling the weight of emotions. Whether referring to the breakdown of a relationship; personal doubts and questions, or recollection of a hard experience, the song gets into your head. When Eriksson confesses “I don’t want you to be the one who’s left all alone“- you can hear the conviction in her tones. As the song reaches its climax, you can feel the strain starting to show (in Eriksson’s voice); the song’s messages are taking their toll. As the final lines are delivered (“I am how your heart breaks/This is a dead heart’s game“), you wonder whether Eriksson gained some (much-needed) answers; whether absolution or salvation arrived. It is a fitting climax to the L.P., where cliffhangers are left- leaving you hungry for more.

Charlotte Eriksson and The Glass Child have created a splendid and captivating opus. At 17-tracks, it does not come across as too bloated or full- there are no filler tracks on the album. It may seem like I am coming across as too fawning or effusive, when it comes to The Glass Child- the truth is, I am not. You may not have heard of her until now, but Charlotte Eriksson’s endeavoring music and itinerant ambitions are what the music world needs. London is home to our heroine at the moment, but I can hear European influence (as well as U.S. acts). She yearns to be “Where I can sing as loud as I want, without wondering who is listening or what they think“. Although I’d Like to Remain a Mystery is over a year old, it is an L.P. that is still garnering huge praise and adulation. It is a brave and fascinating collection of songs that retains all of the personality and components of her previous work- yet is a leap forward and shows how confident and assured she is. I am amazed and impressed by how prolific Eriksson is, and what a range of sounds and sensations are available. Throughout the L.P., our heroine’s voice is compelling and thought-provoking; mixing gorgeous and soft shades with hugely powerful swells- a huge range.  Her band is a noble and impressive force, and score the tracks beautifully- adding weight and texture to her mandates. It is perhaps the lyrics- to my mind- that stand out strongest. Being a lyrics obsessive myself, I am impressed by the range of emotions and themes Eriksson explores; the intelligence of the poetry is startling- the L.P. is a statement from a young woman whom adores words, and knows how to use them. You find yourself, not only listening to the songs, but immersed within their wings; travelling where our heroine takes you and imagining what she sees. For any songwriter, this can rank amongst their proudest achievement, as so few (in the modern age) are capable of doing this. Having listened to the album in its entirety, I was mesmerised by the talent of our the young Swede, and how accomplished the L.P. is. It not only is the result of years of self-discovery, hard work and consideration, but provides a fascinating glimpse into what her future sounds will be. My split infinitives aside, The Glass Child is an act that will be familiar to many new lips this year. As well as having a huge and loyal online following, she is still foreign to many ears- I hope this soon changes. I am not sure when the next L.P. will be released, but it is going to be a collection that will see some familiar elements- as well as some new steps and themes. Knowing Niels Bakx, I am wondering whether heavier guitar sounds will be included; and if any of Los and the Deadlines’ Rock majesty will be infused (into the album). Whilst we speculate, imagine and prophesies, take the time to investigate the back catalogue of a restless and brilliant talent. The official site for The Glass Child is a awash with beautiful photograph; fascinating insight and information- a glimpse into Eriksson’s mind and ambitions. I stated that a lot of artists provide practically no personal information or biography; expend the minimum of effort and time to connect with their fans- it is a huge relief that Eriksson is the polar opposite. Our heroine has been recording songs and keeping busy since the release of her debut album, and I hope that she plays some gigs in London soon- I would love to see her perform for sure. It is clear that Eriksson is keen to connect with her fans in as many different ways as possible; this is reflected in the appreciated that is paid to her. Her music may not be instantly familiar or relatable to all, but given time, the songs will reveal themselves in time. Being a songwriter myself, as well as looking for inspiration (in terms of what can influence my own music), I am keen to find great artists with a terrific story. Eriksson’s musical outpourings have pushed me to incorporate new facets and shades into my own music; to modify my (sometimes) rigidity- and be more adventurous and bold. As a human, our heroine is living her life the way she wants and dedicating herself to her music (poetry and literature); setting her sights high. Before I conclude, I will unveil some words from Eriksson herself: “I just want to mean something to someone because every person I meet mean the world to me and I just wish to belong. I just wish to be me and be loved for that. I’m mostly insecure, but I believe that if you want something bad enough, you can always find a way to get it. I love challenges because I’m here to prove myself and other people wrong. I still don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way…”. Our gorgeous heroine has a long career ahead, and it will be fascinating to see what her future steps will be. As well as an L.P. in-the-works, I am sure that there will be more songs; poems and writing from the twentysomething Swede. Along the course of my musical traversing, I have come across a great variation and range of artists- both solo acts and bands. I understand that the mainstream or ‘established order’ provide commercial profitability; there are artists that are there to inspire and lead the charge- yet I feel that the overall quality is not as high as it should be. It is the upcoming wave of artists whom provide the strongest music. Premiation should be given to one and all, as I am genuinely impressed by the ambition and talent that is currently out there. Charlotte Eriksson is an act whom is near the crest of the current wave, and I hope more fans and music-lovers investigate her music- and take her to heart. I hope one day to see her play; to meet her and see what is in her mind- where she hopes to take her music. Until I find out, I have been smiling when thinking about her album title (I’d Like to Remain a Mystery). In a way, The Glass Child is a name appropriate and (strangely) completely wrong for our heroine. Eriksson has a child-like wonder for the world; a curiosity and a sense of fragility. You can tell that our heroine has a vulnerable side and is seeking comfort, answers and a sense of belonging. Conversely, she has proven herself to be brave an adventurous; someone whom has gone out into the world and shown how independent she is. We have- and can- gleam a lot about Charlotte Eriksson; who she is, what inspires her- and what goes into making her music so memorable. In that regard, our young heroine is perhaps not such a mystery. She is an open and honest woman whom wants to let as many people into her world (and mind) as she possibly can. On the other hand, there is mystique and abstruseness to evident. I’d Like to Remain a Mystery (as well as her E.P.s and writings) have provided the voice behind The Glass Child, yet I have the feeling there is so much more; some secrets and thoughts that Eriksson is keeping inside of her. I hope that she keeps them to herself, as it is that sense of seductive mystery that makes our heroine so fascinating. Amidst the L.P. plans, sofa-surfing (she often crashes on fans sofas; in order to connect to them more directly) and European travels, Eriksson is optimistic about what is to come. It is not often you come across an artist whom not only hits you instantly, but also reveals layers and truths after every listen. Our heroine is someone whom has worked hard to achieve this; yet she does it with seemless effortlessness. When all is said and distilled…

PERHAPS that is the biggest compliment you can pay to anyone.

 

____________________________________________________________________

Track Listing:

I’d Like To Remain A Mystery- 9.8/10.

Stay- 9.9

The Haunted- 9.7

Give Myself Away- 9.7

Consumed by You- 9.7

Hit The Ground- 9.8

Somewhere I Belong- 9.6

Letdown- 9.8

Creepy Little Story- 9.9

Hold On- 9.7

Lover I Don’t Have To Love- 9.9

Oceans- 9.6

I Will Lead You Home- 9.8

Stuck In My Mind- 9.7

Tell The World- Acoustic Version- 9.8

Play Pretend- Piano Version- 9.7

The Devil’s Sin- Acoustic Version- 9.7

Standout Track: Stay

____________________________________________________________________________________

Follow The Glass Child:

Official:

http://www.theglasschildofficial.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/justaglasschild

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/theGlassChild

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/theglasschild

BandCamp:

http://theglasschild.bandcamp.com/

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/aGlassChild

Last F.M.:

http://www.last.fm/music/The+Glass+Child

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/the-glass-child/id470307547

ReverbNation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/theGlassChild

Tumblr:

http://theglasschild.tumblr.com/

Songkick:

http://www.songkick.com/artists/3741181-glass-child

Merchandise:

Big Cartel:

http://www.theglasschild.bigcartel.com/

Feature: The Music ‘Business’: The Dirty ‘M’ Word.

FEATURE:

 

The Music ‘Business’:

 

The Dirty ‘M’ Word.

___________________________________________________________________________

As I look ahead to my (and many other people’s) future, it can be exciting to imagine. Ambitions and high-minded plans inspire the mind, compel the imagination; yet there can be one major stumbling block: money.

___________________________________________________________________________

WHEN you get to my stage in life, something odd begins to happen…

When I say ‘stage’, I don’t mean age- more a period of restlessness. The rest of this year is going to see (I hope) a lot of transition and fulfilment. The singer/songwriter area of my brain is spinning lyrics, compositions and designs- it is quite exciting. Once an entire album’s worth of material starts to cement itself- and the seeds are sown- it is only natural to think ahead. Before you know it, you (and I have) find yourself imagining the album cover; each song in its entirety- each and every component in full. One of the greatest things about music (from the perspective of an artist) is that it is easy to record and publish music. In terms of technology and accessibility, you no longer need to go into a studio, spend hundreds of pounds and labour hard to get your music recorded. Many ‘D.I.Y. artists’ or bedroom acts can sit in the comfort of their own homes; bring their music to life- and stream it straight to the general public. Most new acts start off by recording the odd song; perhaps an E.P. will (eventually) arrive: the embryonic steps are fairly modest. In time L.P.s and larger projects are realised, but I have witnessed many fresh acts lay down their tracks; put their intentions out there and feed them to the public. For most of us listening, there is no consideration given to the mechanics behind making the music- what is costs to make it happen. Even those whom make their music outside of a studio, the cost associated with doing so can be quite galling. It is only natural, yet when I look at studio rates, my eyes can water. Unless you are lucky enough to have a friend whom runs a studio (and thus get ‘mates rates’) or find an economical way of producing music, the final bill can be pretty high. An entire day in the studio (usually 8 hours minimum) can cost anywhere up to £400. Some studios I have seen charge almost double that, and that is just the recording costs itself- before any mastering has been completed. It may sound like an old (well thirty-something) man having a bit of a rant: far from it. Of course studios are businesses and have to charge for their services; it just seems that a lot of musicians are reverting to the confines of their own home, because the cost of professionally recording music is so high. I have friends whom run their own studios, and their costs are modest and affordable, yet they seem to be in a general minority. I am in the process of completing the writing of an album; one of which I have been working on for years now- something I am immensely proud of. When I tabulate all the various expenses and logistical considerations, the bar bill runs into thousands: five figures actually. You may say that if you want to spend less, than record fewer tracks; be less ambitious or convoluted, perhaps. In that sense, there is a bit of a chicken and egg dilemma. Before I investigate the costs of making it in music in general, I shall use myself as a case study.

I will get more into the inequities and vicissitudes of music ambition, yet from my own perspective, I have found the costs are mounting. As it stands (and as I sit) my bank accounts have a few hundred quid in them. I am looking at getting part-time roles at the moment, and writing as much as possible. Having applied to various music sites and publications (with regards to getting jobs here) most- to start with- are going to be unpaid. When I can afford to get my own place and move on in the world, I imagine that I will not have a lot of money left over. Even when I had a full-time role, I found myself with not a lot to show at the end of the month (once rent etc. had been deducted). I guess this is the same with everyone; of course there will be variables and differences. I have a basic 8-track recorded, yet find that the sound quality is pretty poor- not adequate for what I want to do. There are softwares and programmes available to record vocals and music, yet I find that they are pretty basic for what I need. The solution is going to be going into the studio and recording music that way. General rehearsing and band hunting will have a money value attached, although it will not be overly high. If I were to just record one of my most ‘unambitious’ tracks, it will take a full day in the studio- as well as additional mastering and production costs. I would imagine that we would be talking about £600 or so (at the minimum) and that seems quite daunting. You may sit there and think that this is perfectly reasonable: and it is. The issue is, that after all the ‘day-to-day’ costs are expended and you look at what you have left, there is not a huge amount to play with. One song may be an achievable goal (in terms of money), but if you are looking into recording an E.P. or L.P., then you are looking at a somewhat stiffing total. It is imperative and handy having recording software and facilities whereby you can record basic numbers at home. I know many whom started out this way, and they have gained attention and fans from it. Invariably, all music- at some stage- is going to enter the studio, and it makes me wonder: is it putting people off (recording music)? Aside from music-making itself, I am looking at two other ventures: a music bar/cafe as well as a (small) record label). The first business idea stemmed from a real need; a gap in the marketplace, and as much as anything, a neat concept. In London (and various cities) there are plenty of great music venues, bars and locations- we all have our favourites. From what I have seen, there is nothing on offer that provides a bar, cafe and music venue- all in one. I have written a full blog post about this before, but the idea is to have a London-based, two-floor location. Essentially, it would have a lower floor where there is a bar; seating areas and a couple of stages. Patrons would be able to order food (off an extensive menu); order alcohol (cocktails included) and hot drinks, and sit and listen to music. There would digital jukeboxes offering endless amounts of tracks; and put simply, it would be a music venue-cum-cafe. The stages would allow for local and mainstream acts to perform (in the evening), and it would be a (hopeful) major venue. Upstairs, there would be an interactive platform; where walls fo screens and units would be set up. A music website- Pyschoacoustics- would be accessible, and allow anyone to create and make music; listen to any song they want- as well dozens of other features. In addition, there would be a modest-sized recording studio on the floor as well, allowing musicians as well as first-timers to record music- at an affordable fee. It all sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, I grant you, but it is not me wanting to become Richard Branson here- just fulfil a genuine desire amongst many. Thom Yorke (in Paranoid Android) said that “Ambition makes you look pretty ugly“; well in my case, it makes me look tired. I have been formulating a business plan and ideas for the venue, yet it seems an almost impossible realisation. Setting aside issues such as finding a venue and getting a loan etc. the amount of start-up capital needed is immense. It is going to be the same with any business, but it seems that an idea is not enough: banks and lenders require you to have enough of your own money before they lend. I can guarantee that the business enterprise will be profitable and successful, but the initial stumbling blocks are hard to get over. The other ‘crazy idea’ I had, was to establish a record label. This is born, not out of a need for profit, but to provide a home for some great musicians. I know quite a few different acts and artists whom are unsigned; negated and passed over by labels because their sounds are not what they are looking for- seemingly wandering the road seeking out shelter. It is quite sad, as the artists in question are all hugely talented and impressive. My ickle label- tentatively to be called Famous Atheists Records- would be London-based, yet be free from genre restrictions. The idea would be to provide a parapet for all sorts of artists; from northern Pop and Rock acts, through to U.S.-based Electro.- and all in-between. As far as desire goes, this idea probably takes up more of my imagination than music-making itself. I know of so many acts all worthy of being signed, yet subjugated and rejected because their sound is too unique; ill-fitted to a record label’s rigid mould- it is heartbreaking. BBC 6 Music put out an article online (link below) stating how easy it is to start your own label. Like a business, you just need to have your plan, costs and cash forecast set out; do your market research and get in touch with contacts- simples, right? Well, in the case of some failed record labels, perhaps not. If you are smart enough to do your research, then you can make a go of it, just you always need some cash of your own (like with a business) before going to a bank. As much as anything, setting up a record label relies on getting funds and donations from other businesses and contacts- which can be a headache in itself. It is not just me (as a megalomaniac-music mogul-in waiting) whom has this issue: many of my contemporaries and pals have this conundrum…

Recently, I have reviewed quite a lot of different acts. From Scottish wonders through to English Pop princesses, there has been a great deal to digest. With every new act, there is always a lot of graft and sweat that has gone into their music. When I (recently) reviewed Universal Thee’s Back to Earth album, I know how much effort went into make it. The band members all worked harder than ever; toiling and spending hours on ensuring the finishing product was as good as possible. The money that went into making that L.P. was as a result of endless shifts, overtime and tiring work. Knowing how good the band are- and were before the album- it seems strange that the guys had to work so hard to raise the funds. I am sure that the five-piece did not mind; and that they would do it all over agin, but this struck me: shouldn’t it be easier than this? Other acts, from Issimo, through to Jen Armstrong; to Chess Elena Ramona and Crystal Seagulls, have broken their backs in jobs- to raise the necessary cash. I guess if there is a degree of struggle and overcoming adversity, then the end result can be that much more satisifying- as though you have genuinely earned the right to make music. The life of the unsigned artist is a fraught and unpredictable one, that to my eyes, does not seem to be so hard. When you have a label backing you, and you have management; issues such as finance are (although not non-existent) not a huge problem. It is axiomatic that labels should be seeking the best talent; that incentive to work and produce incredible music arrives when as few burdens as possible are present; money and raising finance is one of the biggest burdens- ergo, dissipating the problem makes sense. I do wonder if the reason bands and new acts favour putting out an E.P. (as opposed to a full album) is not that they want to distill their essence and do not have enough ready material- but because it is not feasible to release an L.P. Digitialisation of the music industry and the augmentation of music-sharing has made it easier (than ever) to get your music heard by as many people as possible; yet I fear that may be an issue: would charging a nominal fee to hear your music help? The music-buying public (not too long ago), has no choice but to buy everything they heard; I just wonder whether sites such as SoundCloud and YouTube act as a double-edged sword? From a personal perspective, I have heard a great amount of music on these sites (often to review) and have always felt regretful that I was unable to buy the sound- or to pay a token sum to hear it. If, say, each person whom listened to a track paid 50p, then you could raise hundreds (or thousands) of pounds- without putting anyone out-of-pocket. Perhaps this raises ethical issues, with many feeling it unfair that they have to pay for something- that they could otherwise have gotten for free. It is always a dangerous quagmire when discussing charging for music. There will be those whom say that music should be free to listen to; that this is the only way the less advantageous can afford it. Those- like me- in the opposing camp, feel that if the music is worth listening to, then it is worthy paying for. I always love hearing great new music in its full glory, but am always left wondering what the human and financial cost of making it (was). From my perspective, I am filled with trepidations and questions. We are in a year (and era) where there is a huge amount of new music out there; where the market is as crowded and bustling as ever- it seems logical that some form of financial backing should be available. Obviously, the musician will have to help to subsidise and support themselves (to a degree), yet some palliative care should be available for all.  I have been investigating a few sites that offer some financial absolution; sources that can offer assistance.  Whilst there is some merit and utility to these sites, there is still a lot to do (in terms of raising money).

What is to be done, I hear you (not) ask? Because music sees so many new acts enter the fold (by the day), then it seems that the issue of money may be an unanswerable quandary. In tandem with the general economy, the more people you have in a country, the more you have to stretch budgets. Unless you have a hugely well-paid job (or wealthy parents) then most of us have to live by the same, modest standards of living. The ambitious are often treated with impunity, and laughed at; spurring them on to silence the sharp-tongued detractors. As I stated early on, it is wholly possible to record music wherever you may be- and whatever your budget is. For those whom require the services of a studio or producer, then the whole business can become quite expensive. I know of many new musicians whom either have to work their feet to the bone (to afford to make music) or hesitate making it all- due to the realities of realising your dreams. For those making an E.P., L.P. or what have you, there are sources such as Kickstater (a site that is a crowd-funding platform). You can get loans and grants if you have a great business plan, but often you need quite a bit of your own capital. Designing a music website requires a lot of money; setting up a record label does- the list goes on. When you disseminate your earnings to various requirements (rent, food, life etc.) then you find that the coffers are quite bare. Ambition, talent and exposure will get the best and brightest what they desire, but you have to be able to walk before you can run. I guess me moaning about this fact will not solve the issue, yet it occurs to me that there may be some solutions. Crowd-sourcing website are a great way to earn money for your projects, and it seems to be a way forward. A lot of artists have found satisfaction through these channels, and we need more websites like this to be established. As much as anything, it seems that a fundamental (yet irritating) component is stopping a lot of new artists in their tracks. It makes me wonder whether something needs to be done; as music is one of the greatest art forms in the world, we should be encouraging it hugely. Unlike acting, music relies on a huge amount of self-funding, and to my mind, there is not enough being done to support musicians- making it more cost-effective to take the first steps. I am hoping to- amongst other plans- get a record label set up and make it a bit easier for some great musicians to make music (cost effectively). It is always a bugger when real life gets in the way of things, and a bigger one when money dictates things. It would be good to hear other people’s thoughts; hear from musicians whom face the hostilities of music-making/money, and get some feedback. As far as I can tell, a lot of acts are being put off of recording music, because they simply can’t afford it. I genuinely believe that there is a sagacious and realistic way to rectify the issue at hand. I feel that it is going to be unlikey that studios will reduce their rates; that banks will become a bit more trusting- the answer lies online. There are so many music websites and huge companies that work independently of social media sources such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+- it makes me wonder whether the bonds need to be formed. Music will never get to the stage where you will be able to record and distribute everything for free, so it seems that there needs to more support from the big names. Of course, once the musician is established and set-up they will be making money, thus able to afford to record as much as they desire- it is the sapling steps that trip up many. If big record labels or names such as Google, Virgin and Microsoft were to offer the initial funds need (on a quid pro quo basis) and then get their money back (without interest), then it not only makes it easier to get music into the studio- but draws together publicity outlets for said musicians. I am not sure, but I know that something needs to be done. I am impressed that so many new musicians keep plugging and recording- and find the money to make their music. I hope- in not too long a time- to be able to join them; accrue the necessary dosh, in order to get recording- it seems a (painfully) long way off. For the meantime, enjoy the sun (whilst thinking about it at least), and of course…

EAT Easter eggs!

___________________________________________________________________________

Links:

Funding for musicians:

https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/emerging-musicians/funding-wizard

http://www.prsformusicfoundation.com/Funding

http://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/

http://mfym.org.uk/

http://www.musictank.co.uk/resources/reports/funding-guide-2013

Crowd-sourcing websites:

https://www.kickstarter.com/

http://wefund.com/

http://www.patreon.com/

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/

http://www.artistshare.com/v4/

Great sites for music sharing:

https://soundcloud.com/stream

http://bandcamp.com/

https://www.spotify.com/us/about-us/labels/

http://www.last.fm/uploadmusic

http://help.rdio.com/customer/portal/articles/58994-getting-content-into-rdio

https://dashboard.earbits.com/submissions/submit-your-music-for-radio-airplay

____________________________________________________________________________________

Starting your own record label:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/events/indie/label.shtml

http://www.factmag.com/2012/06/23/how-to-start-a-record-label/

http://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Record-Label

http://musicians.about.com/od/musicindustrybasics/ss/howtostartalabel.htm

Advice for new musicians:

http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/topics/advice-tools-tips/

http://www.helpforbands.co.uk/

http://music.lifetips.com//cat/9753/advice-for-musicians-bands/index.html

http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/10-networking-tips-for-musicians-and-bands-1.html

Misc.: some of the best music sites in the world:

http://www.songkick.com/

http://www.emusic.com/home/home.html

http://pitchfork.com/

http://www.gorillavsbear.net/

http://www.blinkboxmusic.com/

http://hypem.com/

E.P. Review- The Tuts: time to move on

E.P. REVIEW:

 

 

 

The Tuts

 

time to move on

 

9.4/10.0

The E.P., time to move on is released by Dovetown Records, and available from:

http://thetuts.bandcamp.com/

_____________________________________________________________________

The gorgeous west London trio have been making waves since 2012. With their latest E.P., the Libertines-cum-Kate Nash mandates set them out as future festival headliners. At the moment, they are very much a ‘D.I.Y.’ band (handling all their own buisness themselves); although one thing is for sure: record labels will soon come a-knocking.

_____________________________________________________________________

IT is always quite an unpredictable life, when you have my job…

Well I say ‘job’, because reviewing (for me), is really a hobby (until I can record my own music), but the point is this: I never know what I am going to come across. In terms of finding and discovering new music, I am very much my own man. Through Facebook and Twitter, I have quite a few musical friends- and am able to review their work now and then. It always gives me pleasure and satisfaction, when I am able to pormote a great act; wonderful music, and some serious ambition. Sometimes I come across some Scottish Pixie-esque wonder; occassionally some northern Pop and Rock comes to the fore- I even take my travels beyond the U.K. My iteinerary can often encompass sensations from the U.S., Europe and Australia- as well as E.I.R.E. As much as I love to digest some international sounds, I always find it paramount to extol the virtues of homegrown acts. After all, these are the acts that are on our doorsteps: those whom we can see perform live and meet in the flesh. The biggest benefit and necessity (with regards to reviewing U.K. acts) is that it makes you aware about the larger and wider music scene (in this country). There is always a bit of a tendency- when we think of music- to consider the mainstream and what is played on the radio day to day- without too much thought towards new acts. One of the hardest parts of my reviewer-by-day duties, is that I have to look hard for subjects to feature- far too hard as far as I am concerned. There are some great websites that offer up reviews of new artists, yet there are few sites in place, solely dedicated to channelling the augmentations of our sapling musicians. Over the past few months I have existed on a diet of social media contacts and chance occurrence- there seems to be no stability at all. I would love to hear about a great Australian Rock act from Victoria; a fresh Electro-Disco solo act from France; bustling Indie acts from Manchester- yet how would one ever hear of these? I guess- with the proliferation of new acts- it is near-impossible to catalogue them all; sepearate them by country, genre etc., yet it seems that an attempt should be made. I have been formulating plans (amongst many others) to get together an all-encompassing music website. On it, there would be tonnes of features and elements- amongst them would be a thorough representation of new musicians. I have always had the idea of being able to introduce something where you could click on a map; highlight a country/city; then break down the new musicians in that locale by genre/gender etc. and then get a list of the acts that fall under these categories. I digress, but my point is that a lot of my reviews happen by serendipity. I hope some future bright spark will rectify this malady very soon, but for now, I want to raise a couple more points. A lot of my reviews over the last couple of years, have focused on U.K. acts- most of whom eminate north of the border (north of Watford actually). The likes of Crystal Seagulls and Los and the Deadlines are London-based troupes, whom are putting the capital firmly on the map. Outiside of them, I have surveyed some south cost Pop acts as well as a few acts based in Surrey- yet they are in the minority. My featured three-piece hail from London and call Hayes home- an area and hotspot I shall investigate in more depth. I am glad to be putting London back in the spotlight. It is axiomatic to say that it is a city where a lot of new musicians pioneer and dream- yet the best and brightest are based further north. From experience, most of my ‘London reviews’ have focused on bands; those whom prefer their sounds heavier and more hard-hitting, I have found few solo acts or diverse acts to review (although they are definitely out there); there is a slight homogenisation. This is no bad thing, as the likes of Crystal Seaguls and Los and the Deadlines have proven- some of the most invigorating acts in the U.K. play out of London. It is- and should always be- the mecca and epicentre of what is current, fresh and alive; London has always offered up some of the greatest acts of all time- something I hope will not abate. This conundrum and consideration may be something that is a question for the ages, but recently, I have been thinking a lot about bands. Being someone keen to not only record my own music, but recruit a band, I am always on the look out for great talent. I have never been keen on being part of an all-male band; diversity and cross-polination have always seemed more appealing. When I look at bands at the moment, there is still a dominance of the male-only realm. Occassionally, you get some male-female bands (2-4 members typically), and there are all-female bands, yet the following is apt: the styles differ gretly. Th last time I surveyed an all-girl group whom played heavier sounds, was Fake Club. Since then (that was last year), you either find that the (all-girl) acts tend to be largely Pop-based or mould themselves around a former girl group. For the boys, the sounds tend to be harder and more energetic (there are fewer boybands)- I am not sure why. Ever since reviewing Fake Club (and being mesmerised by their music) I have been looking out for a similar act- a band that can offer that potency and promise. Today’s subjects provide the excitment I have been seeking. The London 3-piece act summon up the force and conviction of a four (or five-piece) male act- and do so in their inimitable and unique style.

When looking around for new bands, I have been somewhat dissapointed lately. Certain acts such as Kongos (U.S. funtime purveyors) provided no feedback or acknolwegement when I reviewed one of their songs- which left me feeling angry and jaded. I have- as a result- slowed by workrate, and going after bands whom seem deserving of attention or focus- and that would seem grateful for any review. It is a minor quibble, but it is better when a band (or act) can use a review or feature; spread the word and get more people atuned to their music. My featured trio, should have no fear: they will be big news, very soon. Our heroines are comprised, thus:

Nadia- Vocals and Guitar
Harriet- Bass and vocals
Bev- Drums

The girls, themselves, describe themselves in these terms: “We’re a feisty all girl punk band from West London! Recently supported Kate Nash on her UK tour, played Indietracks Festival and many indie pop and punk shows! We’re self-managed, completely DIY and book all our own shows“. One of the most impressive elements of new music, is when a band or act manages to put out music at all- such is the demanding nature of the industry. Record label bosses and venues tend to not come calling right from the start, so musicians are often charged with make all their own moves and making all their own decisions. The Tuts not only book their own gigs, but write their own music; organise all their day-to-day activities and movements- they are a three woman army. The girls are all striking and gorgeous to behold, yet it is when their music hits your ears, that the biggest impressions are made. Our heroines’ onomatepiac name translates as “To express annoyance, impatience, or mild reproof“- their music whips up a certain distain and rebellion. Rare is their brand of music, that many critics have been allured and staggered by their intentions. The Tuts have a natural home in the live arena, and make most of their music their. When they get into the studio, their energy and glory is not reduced or distilled- it is all in tact and restored. In 2012, their debut E.P., S/T gained the hearts of many fans (and new admireres). One reviewer was compelled to write: “West London three piece buzz like a female version of the Libertines. From the same town as the Ruts, with only a letter difference, the Tuts are a bundle of attitude and suss.” Songs such as I Call You Up (a fan favourite) is a two minute aural assult that puts me in mind of ’70s Punk as well as White Blood Cells-era The White Stripes. That track was a rallying call; yet contained melody and a sunmmery feel. The girls turned lyrics such as “And I’m not just starting beef but you’ve gone to sleep/And I’m shouting and I’m screaming for you“, into something toe-tapping and upbeat. One of the most striking things about The Tuts is their image. Although the girls have plenmty of genuine Punk and Rock spirit; grit and punch to their music, they have plenty of heart and tenderness. If you look at their personal website, it is awash with bright colours, cartoonish figures and vibrancy. The E.P. cover to S/T depicted the girls in shilloutte; colourfully-depicted- it was the kind of image that would adorn the album of a Pop album perhaps. There is a definite air or happiness, joyfulness and sun-kissed variegation. After the success of their debut E.P., combined with a sturdy and busy touring scchedule, the positive reviews flooded in:

As The Tuts rage on through the tracks in their self-titled EP, the crowd really starts to come alive, including one particularly enthusiastic fan sporting a pair of cat ears on her head. Insightful lyrics in Tut, Tut, Tut chip away at sexism in the music industry, whilst Nadia, sipping from a bottle of lager in between songs, becomes an embodiment of everything The Tut’s music stands for. The rest of the set, along with jokes about Nadia’s “hairy armpits” (they weren’t by the way) receive raucous applause from the audience, signalling that The Tuts have gained a venue’s-worth of new fans“.

The Ark Preston

Part of an ongoing girl-band renaissance that takes in everything from the dark post-punk of Savages and Zoëtrøpe to the lo-fi sounds of Woolf and Skinny Girl Diet, The Tuts instead take a refreshingly punked-up pop approach, citing their inspirations as everyone from The Beatles to Bikini Kill, and wielding enough classic-indie influences to make them serious contenders for mainstream appeal should word continue to spread“.

The Girls Are

The Tuts let themselves be free to be as cheeky, poppy and cute as like, which turns out to be very cheeky, poppy and cute. The band sound like a Kate Nash, Jack Penate and Shangri-las mash up, which can be most obviously seen in their latest song ‘Call Me Up’, an upbeat catchy number with candy coated riffs and sweet as pie vocals that will definitely take the girls far“.

Don’t Dance Her Down Boys

Very much the definition of power-trio, The Tuts burn with an erratic energy and songs that make an almighty racket. Think of them as southern England’s answer to The 5, 6, 7, 8s (remember them?!) and you’re on the right track…Afterwards they were more than happy to spend a good deal of time meeting and greeting; shifting merch and posing for photos with a few sweaty-browed gents and a seemingly limitless supply of starry-eyed, impressionable young girls“.

Liverpool Echo.

At the moment, our trio have just unveilled their second E.P., and it shows them in confident and uthoriative mood. Their online pages- Facebook, Twitter etc.- are informative and kept up-to-date, and their fan base is slowly growing. I am sure that with the release of time to move on, their legions will swell and multiply; demand will flood in from all parts of the U.K.- and venues will come calling. With the likes of the Reading and Leeds Festival playing host to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age, there is a huge demand for groups whom provide heavy and impressive music. There is a definite niche and demand in the marketplace for groups that can provide the sort of kick that The Tuts have perfected. It is not just the music that has compelled so many, but the personalities of the girls. As well as being luminous and eye-catching with their online presentation, they are very much dedcicated to striking against sexism; reestablishing equality and balance- as well as coming across as relatable and tangible. On their Facebook page, the three-piece list their ‘interests’: “Gigs, drunken nights, eating pizza, playing sweet tunes, feminism, friendships, cuddling, craft, dancing, football, GIRL GANGS, horoscopes and being outspoken bad-ass bitches! Don’t let the patriarchy silence you. Confront sexism and racism head on“. It is clear that Nadia, Harriet and Bev have no intention of being labelled a ‘girl band’ or coming across as flyweight- they mean serious business. Amonst their influences, is the likes of Colour Me Wednesday, The Libertines, Best Coast, Kate Nash, Lemuria, Standard Fare, Martha, Perkie, Feeder, The Aquadolls, The Pipettes, and The Babies. It is the comparisons to- and the influence of- The Libertines that caught my mind. When listening to the girls’ debut E.P. I could hear comparisons with the (sadly defunct) band- especially their Up The Bracket work. The Libertines are one of my favourite bands of the past twenty years, and I have long-bemoaned their demise. It is a sad fact that broken relations (as well as drugs) disintergrated a group whom seemed capable of a long regency. A lot of modern acts are too shiny and polished; there is little intrigue; too little wit and bite in their lyrics. The Libs. boys offered up London back-alleys, deplorable characters; chancers and vagrants; broken love- all wrapped in their festival of sound. The Tuts have the spirit of The Libertines in their bones, and echo some of their finest moments in their threads and movements. As I sat down to review time to move on (knowing everything I do about the trio), I prepared myself for what is to come.

The first thing one notices about the E.P., is the attention to detail. The E.P.’s cover is a mesh of striking lettering, colourful washes and striking images. This consideration and allure is not confined to their visual presentations. From the first notes of Worry Warrior, it is clear that our heroines have seemlessly combined urgency with consideration and thought. A beautiful intro. is unleashed, that put me in mind of the U.S. You can imagine the sounds of Worry Warrior blaring from a speaker in Nashville; there is a bit of a Electro-Country feel to the first moments; the solid and stacatto drum beat gives it some kick and fun- making the combinatuion sound very much their own. I love the lo-fi and raw production sound as well. It sounds like you are listening to a live renedition of the track-it has that feel to it. Sam Brackley’s production gives the track the sensation of an early Libertines cut, but unlike Mick Jones’s efforts, sounds and sights are not buried in the mix- everything is clear and concise. You cannot help but be swept up in the gallop of percussion, drum and bass: the girls combine beautifully. When it comes to the lyrics, they point at some disatisfaction and anxiety (“I evern smile when I’m annoyed“). Our heroine’s voice is sweet and melodic, yet backed with genuine anger. With a Kate Nash-esque delivery, she states that “No one takes me seriously“. Unable to say no to other people, Javed is reflecting on the downside of her trusting and open nature: delivered with impecable energy and conviction. The song has elements of Kilamangiro‘s (by Babyshambles) energy; a bit of Happy Hour Housemartins- and a whole load of attitude by The Tuts. Towards the 0:40 mark, there is a rumbling and raw guitar, with Javed (Nadia) and Ishmael (Bev) clashing, backed (Harriet) Doveton’s solid bass. When proceedings are slowed, and our heroine is pounctuated by a catchy and powerful sonic blast; the song takes another twist. Speaking introspectively and inwardly (“I thought you were stronger“), our heroine comes to a conclusion: “time to move on“. The Surfer Rosa-era Pixies guitar/bass/drum swirls instantly transform back into lighter and linear territoy. Our heroine is back at the mic. as she looks back on life (“I used to fight to keep peace“); her voice inflected with a heavy heart. Such is the spirit and talent of the trio, that they can present such a unique and original song; yet put you in mind of others. The likes of The Bangles, The Libertines (Begging and Time for Heroes) as well as Nash come through: combined and concoted into a heady brew. As the chorus swagger in (with vocal duties being shared between Javed and Doveton), your feet will be tapping. There is such a raw and unadulaterated spike to the sound, that you can imagine yourself in a pub, listening to the song live- maybe being caught in the bow wave of a mosh pit. The final third of the song sees each of our players stepping up. A punchy and solid drum rattle comes forth; a wailing and electryfying guitar solo come in (Josh Homme, eat your heart out!); followed by a twirling and finger-picking bass coda. In the final seconds, the percussive and bass rush is juxtoposed by our heroine’s vocals; which, whilst still imploring and direct, are more relaxed and casual than her cohorts. As we come to the end, I have little time to reflect before the next track arrives: Dump Your Boyfriend. The version on the E.P. is a live one, and shows our heroines in their natural enviorment. With a vibrating and heady guitar storm (in the first few seconds), the track wastes no time in getting into your head. Again there is a slight hint of Kilamangiro, but the girls add weight, potency and force that Doherty and crew could only imagine. There is a Punk rush to the intro. that Buzzcocks undertones and a huge atmosphere whipped forth. Our heroine elonagates her words, as she recounts how peoplke advise her to dump her boyfriend; accusations are abound, as she admits: “But I can’t just dump/Duh-duh-dump my boyfriend/Accusations but what about all the birds in your tree?/So pull off the plaster for me“. Whereas the previous track was penned by Doveton, here Javed is a co-scribe; the two blending their talents together. The recording on the E.P. is clear and consise; like on Worry Warrior, the production allows clarity and consision- making the track stronger for it. The subject of the song has obviously caused issues; our heroine seemingly stuck in a rut (“He took my liberty away/(but I stay)/He clipped my wings so I stay/(can’t run away)/I’ll put it off for another day“). Dump Your Boyfriend has a relentless and unslakable energy and drive (unsurprsing consider the song’s topics); the vocal performance mixes languruous and laid-back with urgent and spiky- the percussion, bass and guitar once again rampant. It seems like there is a lot of regret and hesitation in the mottifs of The Tuts; the need to break away and change is clear, yet there is something holding them back. This is perhaps concecrated in one of the song’s final lines: “Easier said than done, I don’t want to jump the gun“. At just over 1:30, Loving It is the shortest of the four tracks (five, including the remix of Worry Warrior). After a brief lead-in/intro. (with some tantilising shades of Queens of the Stone Age) it is down to business, as our heroine steps to the mic. Caught in the riptide and franticnous of her colleagues’ combinations, our heroine states “It’s making me go mental”- although it is unclear, to begin, what this is referring to. As it is said (that) “We don’t see the struggle” there is a beautiful little guitar, bass and drum stutter and rush (the song snakes and turns in different direction) that adds a sonic smile to proceedings. Our heroine’s vocal is dependably direct and convicning; displaying its hallmarks or sedate and elliptical; breezy and spiky. The vocal delivery- as well as the composition itself- changes directions and pace, giving the song a constant electricity. You cannot help but kick your feet out when the composition is syncopated; unveil a grin when our heroine sings “I’m loving it“- there is a pause- before delivering”It’s making me…”. Again The Tuts seemlessly inject flavour notes of past hits and bands (there were one or two ’60s and ’70s toches and familiarities I enjoyed), with a distinct sound of 2014 London. I would say that Loving It is the catchiest song of the set (thus far); it packs so much dance, jive, rush and movement into 92 seconds- it is hard not to be impressed. The final (original) track of the E.P. is 1,2,3. After a sojourn of percussive pattering- that summons and tees up the vocals- our heroine steps into view. If the song’s title and nursery rhyme delivery makes you think our London trio are penning a song for the young, the first lyric snippets quickly dispel that. Whether the song is directed towards a former sweetheart or ex-friend, it is unsure, but whomever it is, a lot of anger has been provoked. Semblances such as “4,5,6/You can suck my dick” suggest that a common enemy has stirred some hostility; a need to right wrongs and change things is evident (“I wanna take back the night“). Our heroine wants to feel okay; to roll her car window down and shout out- the vocal here is one of the most nuanced and intruiging on the E.P. The entire band performance is (I guess not too shiockingly) tight and mobile; like Loving It, there is a lot of pace changes and direction shifts- meaning that you are always kept to attention. If some of the lyrics point towards juvenille petulance or infantile tongue sticking-out, the vocal performance and wit transcends any doubts. Such is the nature of the band- raw but upbeat; Punk but sensitive- you know that there must have been a smile on their faces when the lines were delivered. Like contemporaries Kate Nash, The Tuts are able to deftly weave witticism with vulgar; sensitive with spiked heels- and make it sound fresh and new. As with the opening three tracks, matters are dealt with with succint regard and concision. No track outstays its welcome, and each track arrives and plays like an explosion: it lasts a fairly short time yet leaves its impressions. By the final strains of 1,2,3 the listener is slightly exhausted and bruised- yet better for it.

On their BandCamp page, the band offered a Deluxe Edition of the E.P. (that included: 1x copy of the brand new EP ‘time to move on’ with signed lyrics booklet + immediate download of the tracks!/1x ‘Always hear the same shit’ Earth Positive T-shirt! (please pick your size! listed below!)/1x ‘Dump your boyfriend’ 13cm tall embroidered patch!!!/1x Tuts plectrum in either pink or blue! (please specify in order if you have preference!)/1x Tuts mirror!/1x Limited edition high quality cartoon tuts gig poster!/1x Limited Edition ‘Happy happy birthday to me records’ mix cassette tape featuring The Tuts & other Indie pop artists from around the world!/1x Randomly chosen hand printed mini patch! (over 4 different designs available!)/1x Akbar Ali Artwork zine/3x Tuts stickers/1x Badge pack). It is evident that the three-piece have a lot of respect and time for their fans. Their website and online portfolio is jam-packed and informative- fans and newcomers have eveything they need. It is impressive that the girls handle all their own business, and run the show: you get the impression they would not want it any other way. By having full artistic control, they have been able to play the gigs they want and make the music truest to them. One feels, however, that labels and venues will be knocking at their door. I have reviewed enough new music to know that the trio will be in demand very soon. Their sound is both evocative, familiar- yet definied by a unique and personal direction and flair. They are a tight and impressive force, and their live performances have gained huge praise. Music is a cruel and unpredicatble mistress where many get buried under its weight. The girls should consider the possibility of being future headline acts; of having many eyes cast their way. At the moment, they are probably more concerned with seeing how time to move on does. I was thoroughly impressed by not only the quality of the songs, but also of the range that they presented. Flavours of the Punk masters of old come to the fore; sparks of The Libertines and Kate Nash can be detected within- all contained within solid and memorable tracks. If I had one suggestion for The Tuts, it would be to allow some additional hands into camp. I know that they are skillfully managing their own careers, yet there are going to be label bosses and record companies that would snap them up in a heartbeat. Creative control and input would not have to be compromised; but the girls would have the opportunity to play their music as far and wide as possible. Bars, venues and localities within New York and California have similar bands (doing good business) here; Australia and Europe are all have definite room in the market for the likes of The Tuts. As much as anything, there are plenty of towns and cities throughout the U.K. whom would love to hear from the girls. That said, they play Cardiff, Birmingham and Exeter in the next few weeks, and will be taking their blend of song to some new faces. When compiling a new band, I would kill for the likes of Nadia, Harriet and Bev. Such is the mark of a great act, that they not only inspire your own work and motivation- but also make you rethink. I have been writing music that is lacking in guts and boldness. The likes of Worry Warrior and 1,2,3 have provided fresh inspiration, and I find myself re-inspired (once more). The ’90s (and early-’00s) was the last time we saw a genuine wave of exciting and new London bands- The Libertines included- so it is great that The Tuts are coming through. Like I said up top, there are plenty of London acts out there, yet few manage to bustle through the herd and steal focus. This year has been an encouraging one for new music, and provided more diversity and quality than I have heard for a long time. I am not sure what future market trends will be, but it is clear that the likes of The Tuts will be around to find out. I hope that as many people as possible listen to time to move on (buy it is as well), and go see them live, as they are determined to be around for as long as possible. It is the mutual friendships and strong bonds between the girls that will keep them togethger- so do not expect any Doherty-esque downfall. The music is impressive and nuanced, and there is something in there for everyone. Too many new acts arrive, implore hard- only to be forgotten about. With our trio doing what they are doing…

THAT will not be something they have to worry about.

 time to move on cover art

____________________________________________________________________

                 Track Listing:

Worry Warrior- 9.4/10

Dump Your Boyfriend (Live)- 9.3

Loving It- 9.6

1,2,3- 9.3

Worry Warrior (Remix)- 9.4

Standout Track: Loving It.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Follow The Tuts

Official:

http://thetuts.tumblr.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/TheTutsBand

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/thetuts

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/the-tuts

BandCamp:

http://thetuts.bandcamp.com/

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA44FE9BFE65850E3

Songkick:

http://www.songkick.com/artists/4047126-tuts

Tour Dates:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1406774409579871/

Album Review: Universal Thee- Back to Earth

ALBUM REVIEW:

 

 

 

Universal Thee

Back to Earth

 

9.3/10.0

The album Back to Earth is released by Eventual Heirs, and available from:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/back-to-earth/id840152482 and https://play.spotify.com/album/7gHtnqBMpjTbsRNZtCABIJ?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

_____________________________________________________________________

The band are- in their own words- “distinctly Scottish“; their ambition and drive seriously impressive- the results speak for themselves. On their debut L.P., they give the listener a glimpse into strange scenes and vivid themes: this five-piece mean business.

_____________________________________________________________________

IN today’s review I will investigate a band I have a lot of respect for.

The quintet is a group that have been working hard to ensure that their debut album is as fresh and engaging as possible; promoting it, making sure that it reaches as many ears as possible. I shall arrive at Universal Thee’s door in due time, but have been thinking about a few things (as-of-late). In my last feature, I investigated the 20th birthday of a rather special time/genre of music- ‘Britpop’. When looking back at this wonderful time, it occurred to me how many wonderful acts were part of this movement. The obvious leaders such as Oasis and Blur were making the biggest noises, but so many bands were joining together, ensuring that British music was at the forefront of the world’s attention. For me, the most impressive aspect of the ‘Britpop’ era was the invention and fun that was abound. By 1997, introspection and something more mood-lit was entering the scene, but the years between 1993-1997 saw a succession of elliptical and joyful anthems being produced. The bands of the time were intent of ensuring that as many feet were moving as possible; that their songs stuck in the memory and were not easily forgettable. When that period ended, and music started to reincorporate U.S. influences, the party, it seemed, was over. I mention ‘Britpop’ as it was a time that not only saw some wonderful music being produced, but spurned a lot of creativity and rivalry between the groups of the time. As of now, music seems to be a little more compartmentalized. Perhaps it is the sheer weight and number of acts making sounds, but reciprocation is rarer: there is not the same encouragement and bâtonnage happening. During ‘Britpop’, although there was a great sense of unity and patriotism, the rivalries (such as Blur v. Oasis) inspired acts to push themselves as much as possible- meaning that the quality of music was much greater. Perhaps I am living in the past, and still wearing my violet shades, but what happened to that? As well as there being less overt jocularity and joy in music, the nature of competitiveness and thoughtfulness seem a little compressed. Bands tend to keep to themselves; solo acts likewise; I just wonder whether market forces and modern times have enforced this. My abiding point is that it is a lot harder for new bands to get recognised; to be inspired and pushed as much as possible- meaning that few acts establish a long-term foothold in the scene. It is clear that there are a lot of new musicians popping up (each day it seems), but the channels of communication and bonds seem to have broken down. Over the course of my reviews, I have surveyed a great deal of bands and solo acts that emanate from the same area- yet neither is aware of any of their contemporaries. One of the greatest pleasures I have taken from promoting certain musicians, is that they have been able to connect with other local acts- and as such have been able to help one another’s trajectory. The music industry is a hard and unforgiving one, and whilst it may be impossible to return to the symphonic glories of ‘Britpop’, there is no reason why some of the spirit and hallmarks cannot be retained. To my mind, music requires a bit of a shift. The best and bravest music seems to be emanating from the north of England- as well as Scotland. Yorkshire is establishing itself as a county synonymous with phenomenal and daring musicians; of huge sonic range and diversity- as well as a scene that is going to see many future stars. Scotland is promising similarly encouraging signs. I have seen many great Indie acts; some wonderful solo artists as well, each with their own distinct sound and armoury. Although it is impossible to unite all musicians and galvanise the entire scene, it is imaginable that local acts can conjoin. Too many times I have seen similar-sounding or like-minded acts, sometimes within a few miles of one another- yet neither is aware of the existence of the other. Just a small connection like this will not only mean that the act/band have a connection; they also have someone whom can promote their music- and encourage a little competition/rivarly. Music is a wonderful industry and sector that gives opportunities to all to present their intentions. It is also one of the most unforgiving and unpredictable ones, as well. A new act- one fill of potential and promise- deserves as much support and community as possible- I fear this is being lost. If a greater sense of connectivity and mutual appreciation were to be initiated, it not only provides anxiety relief to new musicians, but ensures that they are incentivized to push themselves creatively; thus ensuring that they a waiting audience and market years from now.

Universal Thee are a band fully worthy of a lengthy and happy career. I have been familiar with the Scot five-piece for over a year now, and followed their path closely. The music they offer, not only is imbued with some of the fun and alacrity of the ‘Britpop’ era; yet also contains a wide colour palette and diverse sounds. Based out of Edinburgh, they play in a locality with many fervent and wonderful acts. I know that they have some connections and friends within the local scene, yet it appears that there are many more bands and solo acts, not attuned to Universal’s sounds. Our endeavouring quintet have made some critical impressions, and (Back to Earth) has received some notable praise; yet I feel that the group would be having an easier time of things, were their local colleagues to lend a hand. I shall return to my theme in the conclusion, but let me take you inside the busy and bustling camp of one of Scotland’s best and most electrifying young bands. I have been fortunate enough to have reviewed Universal Thee once before (back in May, 2013) when investigating their song All Is Love. In my banner headline, I announced the group thus: “5-piece, have vocal stream-of-consciousness, and a strong ear for melody. The Saltire is being strengthened by some prophetic wind and wonderful melody“. When listening to the track, I was impressed by the conviction and quality I heard, stating: “The opening notes have shades of early R.E.M., curiously, as well as light-edged Radiohead. Maybe there is some Jack White to be heard- circa White Blood Cells“. A year has passed, and the intrepid band have unveiled their debut L.P., Back To Earth. Before I dip into the disc (and fill in some blanks), a bit about the band themselves- and where they have come from: “Distinctly Scottish band, Universal Thee have been both delighted and surprised with national radio play within days of their most recent recording sessions, showing they have achieved their aim of creating music of wider appeal than their current Edinburgh base. Attention for the band has been beginning to mount and they have been taken on by Napier University on a band development initiative. With a range of songs and styles, the five-piece, led by husband and wife, James and Lisa Russell, provide a Pixies-esque loud-quiet-loud dynamic, mixing slacker rock, grunge and indie pop. It is James talent for writing catchy melodies delivered by beautiful male/female harmonies, matched with Robin’s ability to create diverse and powerful lead guitar hooks, that ensures listeners will be singing their songs for days. Although their music gives a nod to their many interesting and diverse influences such as Ash, Pixies, Weezer and Queens of the Stone Age (amongst others), fans and bloggers agree that they genuinely have their own new, distinct and exciting sound. The blog site musicmusingsandsuch sought to describe their sound, stating: “as well as melody, there is a great deal of exciting noise; this combination, combined with male and female (lead) vocals, elicits an almost-Grunge/Punk splendour, rarely attempted in the 21st century”. The band has been recording with Garry Boyle for their gentler folky sound (previously involved in the Pixar Brave soundtrack and SAMA winners, The Holy Ghosts, album) and Ross McGowan, (producer of Fat Goth and Dananananaykroyd) for their heavier work and are working with PR company A Band of Friendship, to promote, and release, their first single and Album in early 2014, with a tour scheduled to compliment the releases“. Our five-piece have influences that range from Pixies and Ash; through Weezer and Pavement- to the gilded shores of Queens of the Stone Age. The combination of solid and diverse influences; together with a natural talent and direction, have seen many critics heaping praise upon their L.P.:

What do you find so on Back to Earth? Abductees and catchy melodies that easily remembered and listen loop. Guitars sometimes coaxing, usually energetic and angular. Two voices, boy / girl who complement each other well and gives their side a bit rough and scratchy, dirty and brutal look a little dry, even the softer tracks“.

Dans Le Mur… Du Son

A very good debut album indeed with some cracking songs too“.

Pat McGuire, MyvoiceofScotland

Back to Earth is a nice album. It doesn’t wow you immediately but it’s a grower and the more you listen to it, the more you get from it“.

Indulge-Sound.com

James and Lisa Russell’s dual singing produces light and shade, with the latter’s soaring vocal’s adding angelic serenity…”

Daily Record

I will get down to investigating Back to Earth, anon, and pay my respects. I know how hard the entire band have been working- to ensure the L.P. sees the light of day. As well as promoting it tirelessly, band members have been working endlessly to raise the funds needed to record the album. It has been a labour of love, and one that the group have been striving towards for a long time now. Most new bands (or those at Universal Thee’s stage) usually put out an E.P. (or two), yet the Edinburgh group were determined to put out a full-length disc. The decisions and hard work have been paying dividends (so far), and it will give them the confidence to think ahead to album number two- or a possible E.P. Let me, then, get down to business…

The twisting and snaking intro. of Bone Collector is the first sound of the album. “You never wanna bring it up” is a coda that is repeated; James’s vocals punchy and accusatory. With an emphatic and crunching riff, the song steps up a gear after the 1:00 mark; Lisa and James combine vocally; telling the tale of a man whom never wanted to be a “city re-erector“. With shades of Bossavova-era Pixies, the track never loses momentum on energy- changing from softer and more tender implore to blitzkrieg guitar and percussion burst. With a simple and catchy chorus and a tight and impressive band performance, it is a perfect opener: our heroes waste no time in making impressions. Tiger Tiger’s gorgeous- yet hard-nailed- intro. leads a track that is almost lullaby-like. Sentiments and lines are twisted; considered and elongated to maximum effect (“These are the words/of the everlasting verse” are delivered especially potently). Boasting a particular impressive vocal performance (from both our leads), the guitar, bass and drums melt and spar with one another; infuse perfectly, before streaming like a river. Although Bone Collector may be the more memorable of the opening two tracks; Tiger Tiger offers more sonic intrigue: it is a strong and confident composition. Wolves of the Netherworld (again) has a shorter intro.; sparing little time with reflection before the vocals arrive. With a mantra that puts the central figure “Down there bobbing at the bottom of the sea“, it is a track that has a similar sound and pace (of the opening duo); yet seems more upbeat and sing along. With some elements of early-career Ash and Pavement, it is another catchy and bouncy track. The song is delivered with such abandon and energy that it comes to an end all too soon- making you want to hear more. With a softer and more gentle beginning, Feeling Fragile may be the hangover- following the drunken delirium that proceeded it. Our hero and heroine share vocals; yearning to be home and get away from a dead scene. The song has some U.S. roots; with the likes of The Magic Numbers and Document-era R.E.M. coming through. Line such as “Everything’s broken/You know” paint dislocated image- given emotive weight and conviction due to the tender vocal performances. You can imagine our band wandering a dust road, looking for some salvation- something to rescue them. It is a song that not only provides a needed comedown, but also shows a different (sensitive) side to the group. Eric‘s rumbling intro. and breakneck vocal performance cranks the energy-o-meter back to 11. In the way that our two leads combine; James yelps and adds menace to certain words, it has clear elements of Pixies, particularly their work during Dolittle and Surfer Rosa. Some of the guitar twangs and strikes have some of Joey Santiago’s memories in them- not that the track is too Pixie-esque. You can hear the distinct- and native- accents of our leads shine through. There is no U.S. inflections or Americanization: Scottish brogue is evident when the duo sing “Eric was a lonely guy/Lonely guy“. It is a combustible and frantic track that is done with in just over one minute- the pummeling pace leaves you a little breathless by the end. Down perfectly calms proceedings again- at first. Like Feeling Fragile, it sees our band in more considered and reflective mood. The track mutates into a sprightley and toe-tapping number before the 1:00 marker; the words “And down and down and down/You make me go round and round and round” elicited. With some flavour notes of legends such as The Kinks (in the composition), it is a song that catches you with its chorus. The strong and impressive vocal performance (from James and Lisa) enforces the catchiness; the tight and punchy guitar and percussion makes sure it sticks in your brain. There is an air of ’60s grooviness; there is such a swaying and psychedelic charm to the song, that it implores you to get up and dance- to surrender to its charms. Down is one of the L.P.’s longest tracks, and followed the shortest (Eric). Arriving as a mid-album fulcrum, Make a Little Money (Then You Die) pulls up. With a rumbling and dazzling intro. energy and invigoration are instilled early on. Again there are elementary shades of Pixies; with Come On Pilgrim’s gentler and more melodic moments, springing to mind. Whereas previous tracks such as Eric and Bone Collector have pervaded a similar sound and evocation; perhaps Make a Little Money‘s is a little less urgent and bracing than if it were higher up the order. Regardless, it is a charming and memorable mid-album track; all the band’s components (strong vocal interplay; multi-layered and intelligent compositions) are solid. Perhaps Down‘s intoxicating sound and chorus are still in my mind; yet Make a Little Money (Then You Die)’s ideas and lyrics seem pertinent. Perhaps you can apply the song’s title to the struggle most bands face: working hard until they make a little money; but by then it is too late (to do anything with it). Perhaps not the quintet’s finest moment, it is one that seems relevant and personal to them- perhaps some sardonic humour is at work. Kicking off the second half (the band’s previous single) Aranis Natas arrives. I am familiar with this track already; with its chugging and rumbling intro.; its scowling and grumbling vocals- all its wonder. Like Down, the song’s title is repeated and tempted; rallied and chanted- this time James gives a particular determined and gravelly delivery. Our heroes (Lisa and James combine) state that “Even if you see it“, then it’s “never gonna last“. Aside from the Byzantine and baroque title (that conjure up all sorts of images), there is a great quiet-loud dynamic that keeps the song on its toes. Although Feeling Fragile more textured and subtle; Aranis Natas is more urgent and forceful. A mid-song musical parable levels proceedings and provides chance for absorption- before the vocal force is back into view. The song is filled with humour; the entire group combine wonderfully- and the vocal performance of our two leads is perhaps the strongest so far. It is- and was- a rightful hit, and a song that is still getting great feedback and attention. Bear In the Hospital, with its light and cascading intro. has hints of early (The) Libertines; footnotes of Weezer (perhaps). You can tell from the title, that humour is going to be evident within. It is, but personal utterances and confessions seep in; something more direct: “Don’t wear me out/’cause you don’t know what I’m all about“. Boasting the most impressive guitar and bass work on the album, it is a track that bolsters Aranis Natas’s intentions- and provides a strong one-two. With qualitative shades of R.E.M.’s Near Wild Heaven, there is a similar Out of Time adventurous joy and strong melody. The quintet have been celebrated for their gift with a melody, and it is the way that a little of Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out) arpeggio; mixed with Jack White’s Never Far Away; with whispered dark edges of Pixie’s Debaser, that creates a fairytale/balletic skip and step. Lisa’s vocals are warm and sensuous: little honeyed edges of cherry country and folk, melting with a some U.S. indie edges too. The result is soothing and sexy. Similarly, the masculine edges from James’s voice compliment perfectly, and when “I see it/More now than ever” is sung, the resultant chemical reaction is soothing and beautiful. Pelican Crossing gallops and bounces from the off; with perhaps some edges of Free All Angels Ash in the mix. The track boasts a beautiful melody and vocal performance; our hero yearning “to be free again“. The sound pulls away from ’80s U.S. Punks and Grunge and towards U.K.-based Rock and Pop- perhaps with some 1960s semblance. The antepenultimate track, She Was a Whore has similar sonic evocations as All Is Love (there is a similar feel). The song tells of a central figure; unattached and uncaring, whom does not seem concerned by anything happening around her. The anti-heroine is put in the spotlight, as it is claimed: “Daytime, night-time/Any time at all/She’ll come to my bedroom door“. The lyrics are vivid and scene-setting, but the sound has a lot in common (maybe a wee too much) with other tracks on the set. Not to say that it does not distinguish itself (it does), but it does so lyrically, rather than sonically. The words make me smile, no less, and the band demonstrate another side to them, as they survey a rather salacious character (perhaps that has infested their lives at some point). Before the swan song arrives, Shallow Juvenile arrives, and, as the title may suggest offers another anti-hero. Focusing on a somewhat petulant and immature central figure, the song sees the phrase “I’m never going back” bent, elongated and repeated- almost as a rally cry. After some delightful whistling and (I may be wrong) xylophone interlude, the infectious coda is once more, unfurled. The track has a breezy and U.S. vibe to it, and wonder whether future producers will snap it up- as it could be ready-made to score a drama or Indie film. With some acoustic tenderness, Million Voices closes the L.P. With our hero asking: “Is it real?/Is it fake?“, the vocal is fast-paced, and has a distinctly American sound to it. There is a touch of Grandaddy in there (that same sort of high-pitched sound); perhaps a little They Might Be Giants, too- a straddling of East and West Coast U.S.A. When our heroine steps in, perhaps a little romance is lost when it is said: “You’ve got a beautiful face/You’ve got a f*****-up inside“. This bold honesty is juxtaposed with some honest emotion- a few seconds later (“Every winter/We lose/One million voices“). That combination of spiky and direct offering from Lisa, proceeding James’s earnest and impassioned croon is a terrific effect- when they combine during the chorus, there is an odd yet natural unity. After a lot of rambunctiousness and electricity, it is fitting that the album end with something more tempered and softer. Million Voices fades (the only track on the L.P. that does, I think), and Back to Earth touches down and settles- ending a tremendous debut.

Some reviewers have alluded to the fact that the album feels a little bloated at times- maybe there are a few too many tracks. Perhaps there are the odd one or two songs- She Was a Whore and Make a Little Money (Then You Die)- that do not match the dizzying heights of their best work, yet they should have no fear. It is a brave decision to release an L.P. at all (if you are a new act), and it shows that the band are as ambitious as they come. By having 14 tracks, it shows the full range and intentions of a hungry young group. Perhaps trimming a track or two would result in a leaner and more muscular set, yet I found no weak or filler material in the set- a big achievement in itself. No track lasts longer than needed, and because of the expert and atmospheric production, each song is compelling and intriguing. Back to Earth is the summation of months of hard planning and work; saving and scrmiping; dreaming and desire. The five-piece should be very proud of what they have achieved, and in tracks such as Aranis Natas and Down they have crafted some modern-day gems. You can hear clear influences such as Pixies and Pavement in quite a few of the tracks, yet it is no distraction: there is never too strong an aroma or semblance. Too many modern acts tend to staple themselves to the banks of Arctic Monkeys or whomever they deem to be ‘fashionable’ or ‘commercially viable’. Other groups tend to replicate an existing band’s sound- in the hope that it will see them held in high esteem by critics and fans alike. Universal Thee have a varied back catalogue and range of influences, and sprinkle scents and flavour notes into their templates. The abiding sensation is of a hungry group with a clear identity and a desire to mingle and nestle with the best bands of the moment. The sonic offerings from Spivey, Perrie and Haddow are compelling and evocative, throughout. The vocal interplay of Mr. and Mrs. Russell is the most alarming and memorable facet. Each has a unique voice that adds texture and variance to each track; yet when they combine the effect is impressive and indelible. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Universal Thee do not stick with one particular ‘sound’; in the sense that they pervade a certain timber and pace- and replicate that over the course of 10 or 11 tracks. Each song on the L.P. has its own gravity and pattern, and as such, as the album feels fuller and more diverse (there will be a song to fit everyone’s moods and tastes). Like Queens of the Stone Age’s album …Like Clockwork, there are immediate smashes; and a whole set of tracks that grow and reveal their charms. By the fifth or sixth listen, the full force and effect of the album hits, and unveils its intricacies and nuance. Kudos goes to the production, which mixes Gil Norton-esque authority (think Dolittle and Echo Park) with Butch Vig majesty. Tracks are never too cluttered or too sparse; full consideration is given to summoning as much atmosphere as possible. I began this review by bemoaning the lack of comradery and social linking between bands. There is a thriving music scene in Scotland, and many great bands and acts working hard. Universal Thee are amongst the best and most striking, and deserve wider acclaim. If a few of their local cohorts were to help spread the word- as well as provide some rivalry and competitive incentive- then it could help augment the charms and sparks of a brilliant young band. I know that the bars and venues of London are seeking Universal Thee’s Pixies-cum-modern Britain blend; the likes of the U.S., Australia and Europe could provide a home for their mandates- a vast enterprise of fandom awaits. Although the group are in their fledgling stages- and have a lot more ahead of them- I am sure they are going to be thinking ahead, and looking at horizons; markets and countries to be conquered etc. For those whom like their sounds harder and imperious, then there is a lot to treasure. That said, a great deal of melody and softness lingers within Back to Earth- it is an album that does not subjugate or discriminate; it wants to draw everyone in. Bias aside, the band are a friendly and likeable group of musicians doing everything they can to get their music heard. As much as anything, they are inspiring me to write and be daring; to aim as high as possible and change my way of thinking (in terms of songwriting). Too many bands have a disposable nature and one-dimensional charm- few manage to remain ensconced within the collective memory. I hope that this year- as well as future ones- see our heroes subvert natural expectations, and claim their place alongside their idols- Queens’, Pixies, Pavement etc. Give their album a listen, absorb its layers and myriad sounds, and witness a band on the rise; one whom…

HAVE no intention of calling it a day any time soon.

____________________________________________________________________

Back to Earth Track Listing:

Bone Collector- 9.4/10

Tiger Tiger- 9.3

Wolves of the Netherworld- 9.3

Feeling Fragile- 9.4

Eric- 9.0

Down- 9.6

Make a Little Money (Then You Die)- 8.6

Aranis Natas- 9.7

Bear In the Hospital- 9.3

All Is Love- 9.5

Pelican Crossing- 9.2

She Was a Whore- 8.7

Shallow Juvenile- 9.1

Million Voices- 9.4

Standout Track: Aranis Natas.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Follow Universal Thee:

Official:

http://universalthee.wix.com/band#

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/universalthee

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/universalthee

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-C70-KSoSJXgNifHO_Ip_A

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/universal-thee

Reverb Nation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/universalthee

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/universal-thee/id806189015

Spotify:

https://play.spotify.com/artist/6eWUN8JSxRAKW2BenbvLDv?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

Tour Dates:

http://universalthee.wix.com/band#

Feature: ‘Britpop’ at 20- Lest We Forget.

FEATURE:

‘Britpop’ at 20:

 

Lest We Forget.

___________________________________________________________________________

It has been twenty years since the music phenonemum called ‘Britpop’ arrived. In a period that saw some of the greatest albums and songs created, I look back at a wonderful era of music- and the legacy that has been left.

___________________________________________________________________________

QUITE a special birthday party has just happened in the music world.

In fact, it is more of an anniversary as much as anything. ‘Britpop’ is a genre and period of music that has seen some of the greatest music ever witnessed, presented. In terms of sheer quality, I feel that this period was synonymous with music of the highest order. Before I investigate the background of this magical period, I shall give you a quick dictionary definition (of ‘Britpop’) from Wikipedia: “Britpop is a subgenre of alternative rock that originated in the United Kingdom. Britpop emerged from the British independent music scene of the early 1990s and was characterised by bands influenced by British guitar pop music of the 1960s and 1970s. The movement developed as a reaction against various musical and cultural trends in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly the grunge phenomenon from the United States In the wake of the musical invasion into the United Kingdom of American grunge bands, new British groups such as Suede and Blur launched the movement by positioning themselves as opposing musical forces, referencing British guitar music of the past and writing about uniquely British topics and concerns“. Before I investigate the bands, moments and influences of ‘Britpop’, I just want to mention a couple of small points. The anniversary (or birthday) is one that brings out mixed emotions in me. On the one hand, it is great to look back at the music, moments and scenes that made up the movement. I still have many terrific albums from the time, and it was tremendous witnessing (first-hand) all of the highs and lows- as well as catfights! As much as anything, this period made Britain a music nation to be reckoned with; more so than during the ’80s, and the energy and combativeness amongst out musicians was incredible. Bands and acts upped their games; rivalries were formed and a unempeachable sense of ‘coolness’ lingered in the air. I am sure that many musicians today are directly influenced by the greatest pioneers of ‘Britpop’ and one cannot help but to smile when looking back. In another sense, it is a little bit sad as well. I think back to the early to mid-’90s and as brilliant as it was, you wonder this: will we ever see the like again? My first inclination is to say no, really, as I guess that the genre came out of a particular time period; as a reaction to a previous musical era- perhaps something that could only have existed when it did. Perhaps, though, music was just different twenty years ago. There is quality to be found, but you do not have the same fervency and excitement in music now, as we did then. The rivalries and Oasis vs. Blur battles were a one-off; the exceptional and definitional albums produced then, have not been replicated, and some of the magic has been lost- music has changed directions somewhat. Of course, it would be foolish to think that something exactly like ‘Britpop’ would ever reoccur- it was a very unique period. I guess I miss the band feuds, the phenomenal output and the spirit that filled the air in the ’90s. If any lessons have been learned and influenced and direction provided, then that is something that is to proud of. I am sure that many new musicians would not have existed were it not for the acts and talent that roamed the scene back then; many coming through will be indebted to the exhilaration, diversity and potency of that wonderful time- I hope that the legacy is never lost. I shall touch more on this in the conclusion, but let me take you back… to the birth of ‘Britpop’.

In the early-’90s, a huge musical transition was taking place. Th 1980s was a bit of a dour and unspectacular decade for music. There were some great U.K. acts such as The Smiths working hard; brilliant U.S. music like Michael Jackson and Prince were setting the times ablaze; yet by the time 1990 rolled into view, a change was required. That change (that started off in the late-’80s) was Grunge. Being a fan of the genre, I was sad to see it die away, and it acts such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana were masters of the craft. In fact, the death of Kurt Coabin (in 1994) was perhaps the most significant event with regards to the death of Grunge. Nirvana were riding the crest of the wave in 1991-2, following the release of Nevermind; that album was one of the greatest ever produced, and contemporaries were inspired to follow suit. Fantastic movements and creations were released, and the Grunge masters were each making their marks on the music world. It was a distinctly heavy and hard movement, yet one that has softer moments, and in the minds of Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden)- intelligent and stunning songwriters. I suppose each new music wave arrives as a reaction to one past; usually an angry one that necessitates an instant change. Grunge was as a reaction to what came before; ‘Britpop’ was the reaction to Grunge. When Cobain died in 1994, the genre started to die away. It was around this time, that a transition started to occur in music. Whereas Grunge was a distinctly U.S.-led genre, ‘Britpop’- obviously- was ours alone. The U.S. had been enjoying a musical hegemony from the late-’80s through to the first years of the 1990s, and it was their music that was leading the way. In the U.K., our young artists were keen to change this; to introduce a new movement that would blow away the dominant and hard-hitting Grunge cobwebs- and present something more melodic and less forceful. It is hard to say when the ignition was sparked; when the first flame was lit, yet journalist John Harris suggests some insight: “[I]f Britpop started anywhere, it was the deluge of acclaim that greeted Suede’s first records: all of them audacious, successful and very, very British”. Suede were the first of the new crop of guitar-orientated bands to be embraced by the UK music media as Britain’s answer to Seattle’s grunge sound. Their debut album Suede became the fastest-selling debut album in the history of the UK. In April 1993, Select magazine featured Suede’s lead singer Brett Anderson on the cover with a Union Flag in the background and the headline “Yanks go home!”. Other say that the release of Blur’s Popscene (in 1992). Of course, we can see ‘Britpop’ was happening before Cobain’s death, yet the full force and insurgency occurred during 1994- it was the most pivotal year for ‘Britpop’. Whenever the movement truly began is unsure, yet it was clear that the U.K. acts had grown tired of the American scene and way of life. It seems that us Brits had a desire to grab back the limelight and focus, and the combined surge of desire and fresh music started something truly wonderful. I will look at the defining bands, moments and fights of this transitory period, but want to look back at ‘Britpop’s lineage. When the genre was starting out in the early-’90s, the bands and acts that were making modern sounds, were distinctly looking back. Guitar and Pop music of the ’60s and ’70s were key influences, and flavours of The Beatles, The Kinks and The Smiths were all evident. The Indie scene itself was a direct ancestor of ‘Britpop’, and the influence of The Smiths as well as the ‘Madchester‘ wave were forefathers. The early years of ‘Britpop’ (1991/2-1993) were defined more with a shoegazing and lighter sound. Emphasis was placed on good times and joyousness, and albums from that time reflected this. Past masters such as Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses were acting as the templates the bands of this time, and it seemed like a deliberate act. Grunge is synonymous with depression and foreboding heaviness; the direct shift to the other end of the music spectrum showed just how angry and annoyed our musicians were (with Grunge). Clearly a desire for happier and merry music was enforcing the young artists of the U.K. I suppose ‘Britpop’ was more of a band arena, and the music-buying public were looking for vocal/drum/guitar/bass configurations- the solo realm had a minor role during the period. Because of the emphasis on Britain and British-ness, it was difficult for many artists, when trying to get their music appreciated in the U.S. Towards the mid-’90s, there was a commercial shift, yet initially, the ‘Britpop’ movement seemed to be confined to the U.K. Music critic Jon Savage asserted that Britpop was “an outer-suburban, middle-class fantasy of central London streetlife, with exclusively metropolitan models.”

When we think of the defining acts of the ‘Britpop’ regency, inevitably minds go to Blur and Oasis. Their pitched battles and warfare (which I shall elaborate on) was the defining period of the era, and produced some spectacular moments. In a recent poll from N.M.E., the track Common People by Pulp was declared as the greatest ‘Britpop’ anthem- by the magazine’s readers. Pulp was a band whom were natural rivals for the likes of Blur and Oasis. They formed in the late-’70s, but hit a commercial peak in 1995 with their album, A Different Class. That album was infused with fresh and wonderful scenes on modern-life; working-class snippets and aspects of dislocated love. Pulp’s frontman, Jarvis Cocker, has the swagger and effortless cool needed, and his cohorts were responsible for some of the best music of the time. During the era, there were a lot of minor acts and one-off gems that were bustling for attention, including Northern Uproar, The Boo Radleys and Black Grape- whom did not exactly leave permanent marks on music. When you think about some of the bands that can be classified as ‘Britpop’ artists, I am guessing many of them hold spots in your record collection. Ash and Cast were two bands doing battle during this time. Their heavier and more Rock-orientated sounds gained widespread praise and attention, and Ocean Colour Scene and Elastica were also jostling for attention. Between these bands, a great number of iconic songs were created, including The Riverboat Song and Uncle Pat- to my mind Ocean Colour Scene were the best band of that quartet. Their albums such as Ocean Colour Scene and Moseley Shoals were packed with wonders. I suppose there was a lot of short-lived triumph; a great number of acts whom were working away- yet never really poked their head to the summit. Before I focus on the two main players of ‘Britpop’ I will investigate one band. Supergrass is one of my favorite bands, are often overlooked when we look back at this period of music- I am not sure why. Their 1995 album I Should Coco, was one of the greatest albums of the mid-’90s (and the decade as a whole); songs like Alright, Caught by the Fuzz and Richard III will be familiar to most. I suppose Supergrass are synonymous with being laddish and good time purveyors. They may have shared more in common with shoegazing acts such as Kula Shaker (and Blur’s debut album); by 1994/5, the scene was perhaps favouring something less baggy and jocular- and something more Blur-y or Oasis-y. I am not sure, but it seems that Supergrass should have got more credit. Of course, they are regarded as one of the greatest British acts of the last twenty years, yet not a group anything things of when we look at ‘Britpop’. Okay, then, it is probably best that we investigate the two key players of the ‘Britpop’ movement: Blur and Oasis.

Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher are practical best buds. now, but the tension and rivalries that their bands shared from 1995, is one of the most striking and memorable aspects of ‘Britpop’. It seems that you either had to be a Blur man or an Oasis one. I was- and am- a Blur supporter through, and through. The two groups had their own style and sound. Oasis favoured a more Rock-driven sound, with elements of John Lennon, The Beatles, T-Rex and the like- or ‘real music’ as Gallagher stated. Blur, perhaps more melodic and Pop-driven, had touches of The Kinks in their music. Initially, both bands were respectful of one another, but with some media intervention and spurning, a rivalry and split occurred that saw them engage in fierce battle. To me, 1994 is the year that saew both bands produce their best work. Parklife (from Blur), is one of the defining discs of the era, and contained some of the greatest anthems from the time. Girls & Boys and Parklife are instant classics; This Is a Low and End of a Century terrifically evocative and scneic. Blur had concentrated on shoegazing and baggy sound during Leisure (their debut); and, after Albarn has visited America and got a whiff of the culture there, decide to retrain Blur’s focus. By the time Modern Life Is Rubbish arrived (in 1993), Albarn felt the need to comment on the American cultural influence and effect on music. Parklife took them further away from their past, and the sounds of the album were London, Essex and Britain- there were nods to the U.S. but is quintessentially a British album. Oasis, on the other hand, arrived later than Blur, and their debut came in 1994. Definitely Maybe was the confident and extraordinary debut that rivalled Parklife. The track Live Forever is regarded as one of the greatest songs of all-time; a track that emphasised the mood of the time. Supersonic and Cigarettes & Alcohol are classics that have their hearts very much with the legends of the ’60s and ’70s. I have always found Oasis to be TOO indebted to past masters. Riffs by T-Rex are stolen; vocals and melodies taken straight from John Lennon- there is not enough originality and individualism in their sound. That said, I recognise Definitely Maybe as the defining album of the ‘Britpop’ movement, because not only did it introduce a wild and ambitious new act, but also began a battle that came to a head in 1995. Oasis’ Roll With It was released on the same day as Blur’s Country House- Blur representing the south, Oasis the north. On 14th August, 1995, the nation awaited to see who would win the battle. Of course, Blur won, and some saw it as a victory for the artsy middle-class- as opposed to the honest working-class. It has nothing to do with class or a north-south divide; it was just numbers. The media fuelled the fire, but the fact was that the better song won. Even if Blur won the chart battle, Oasis won a bigger war. In 1995, Blur unleashed The Great Escape (where Country House originated). It is a terrific album, yet some see it is a departure from Parklife; a qualitative step-down perhaps. Charmless Man, Stereotypes and Fade Away were stand-outs, yet one could not ignore Oasis’ dominance. In spite of preferring Blur, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory boasted more emphasis and power. If Oasis had released a different single in August of 1995 they may have won the chart battle; the album is certainly one that pipped Blur. (What’s The Story)’ went on to sell four million copies (making it the third best-selling British album ever). The release of Wonderwall and Champagne Supernova, not only saw them overtake Blur- but also gain a sustained foothold in the U.S. The sounds and sparks from tracks invigorated and grabbed the public- it seems as though tastes were changing. Whereas Blur’s brand of intelligent and melodic Pop-Rock was favoured previously, the public now were favouring modern Rock- with a flair of 1960s elements. Starting on 10 August 1996, Oasis played a two-night set at Knebworth to a combined audience of 250,000 people. The demand for these gigs was and still is the largest ever for a concert on British soil; over 2.6 million people had applied for tickets. Blur would go on to release their self-titled L.P. in 1997; Oasis released Be Here Now (the same year). By then, both bands were a shadow of their 1994-5 selves it seemed; perhaps Blur were a little stronger, but it seemed like the best may have been left behind. The battle between Blur and Oasis, for me, was what made ‘Britpop’ so special. Each band pushed one another and forced a work ethic and ambition that we do not see much of now. There was a lot of pantomime and theatrics, but it was a joy to watch. You cannot deny that both bands produced mesmeric work, and each appealed to a different type of person. Blur may have been more ‘artsy’ and experimental; Oasis more straightforward and Rock-orientated. Each were presenting music that put Britain on the music map; reaffirmed the glory and wonder (that the U.S. perhaps had enjoyed before) and inspired a legion of fresh and hungry bands.

 

By 1996/7, a change began to occur- with the ‘Britpop’ movement beginning to break down. Bands and acts were seeing the world in a different way. In the same way as Grunge started for a reason, and broke down when it became unviable and tired- ‘Britpop’ went the same way. U.S. culture and music was being re-investigated and appreciated by musicians, and was being assimilated into the motifs of the modern acts. On Blur’s self-titled L.P., the band broke away from Parklife‘s sounds- the jollity and British scenes of life- to be more self-reflective and include influences of bands such as Pavement. Bands began to break up, and another shift was happening. The idea of ‘Cool Britania’ was now being moulded and appropriated by acts such as The Spice Girls, but a greater diversity was being introduced into the scenes. Bands such as Radiohead- whom had released The Bends in 1994- were now being given fuller attention. Radiohead had created some genuinely world-class moments during the ‘Britpop’ era, but attention was being shifted away from them- and onto the ‘cool’ bands of the time. By 1997, I guess the whole notion of ‘Britpop’ has started to die away. There were bands still purveying some of the spirit of the movement, yet the best had passed on. In 1997, Radiohead released OK Computer; acts such as The Verve were making big waves- each of whom presented influences from the ’60s and ’70s. The wave of music that followed on from ‘Britpop’ was not a million miles away from the likes of Pulp and Oasis. These acts were influential to the bands coming through, and Feeder, Stereophonics and Travis kept the flame alive- yet focused less on the London-centric and wholly British concentration. U.S. influences were being mixed with British ones, and there was a greater openness afoot. Gone were the days of concentrating on promoting a distinctly British brand of music (and way of life), and a more global and all-encompassing set of sounds were being projected. There was too, perhaps, less focus on English bands: more of the U.K. was being embraced. Welsh acts Stereophonics and Catatonia were rising through; Scots Travis and The Supernaturals threw their rings into the hat- whilst Northern Ireland’s Snow Patrol were starting out. It is clear that the bands that played and struck between 1993-1997 left their mark on the new generation coming through. Over the last few years, bands such as Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys have been seen as pioneers of the “second wave” of ‘Britpop’ acts- those whom invoke some of the spirit of Blur, Oasis and their contemporaries. Although amongst these bands there are fewer nods to the music of the 1960s and ’70s, there are Punk influences and strains of Hardcore music. I suppose that there are always going to be waves of music coming through- new genres and types year-by-year. At the moment, we have some groups that have a semblance of ‘Britpop’, yet by and large the scene is more varied and widespread. It will be interesting to see if- in our life times- we witness anything akin to ‘Britpop’ occur again.

I am a little ambivalent when I think about ‘Britpop’. It would be unrealistic to think that it would have lasted all the way to today. I guess it was a product of a time; there was a need to break out of the Grunge-led U.S. stranglehold- to assert some British identity into music. For that reason, it was no surprise that so many bands came out to play. The output from that time (’93-’97) saw an endemic of bristling and sun-kissed sounds; tableaux of British life and our way of living. You cannot deny that some of the best music we have ever witnessed, was created during this time. If you are a fan of Blur or Oasis; whether you prefer Suede or Pulp; The Bluetones or Supergrass- there was something for everyone. I love Blur because of the range of their music; because there are so many vast and multifarious snippets of British life; love lives and everything in between- Albarn, to me, remains one of the greatest ever songwriters. I cannot deny how vital Oasis were and how brilliant albums such as Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story Morning Glory)? are- I am listening to Champagne Supernova now. One off tracks such as Slight Return (by The Bluetones), Wide Open Space by Mansun- wow. It was not just the Oasis v. Blur histrionics that made it so exciting. There was a genuine passion and invigoration amongst musicians; keen to topple American-led dominance and Grunge-ness. As much as there was (media-led) divisions, the period- for me- is synonymous with togetherness. Each act and band were vying for top spot: the number 1 record and album spot. As much as there was commercial competitiveness, the overall scene was so wonderful because each band and act was trying to promote one cause- Britain. There was no sense of balkanization and compartmentalization; the overall sound was varied and strong because each of the acts wanted to promote ‘Britpop’. I am not saying music is weaker (now that the moment, as it were, has passed); far from it. My main reason for paying homage to ‘Britpop’ was that it signified a fervent period of music-making that has influenced so many great acts of today. There was a sense of national pride and defiance; a need to change the- U.S.- status quo: it was a rare phenomena. I hope that in the 21st century, something akin to ‘Britpop’ will be realised. Perhaps if mainstream Pop gets a bit too dominant, and too many teenage girls have too much money- we will need to rise up. Join the Rock and Grunge acts; the Acoustic-Pop and Folk artists in unison- and unleash something truly spectacular. We shall see; but for now, I challenge you to revisit the best and brightest from a time- 1993-1997- whom made their marks on music history. Dust off your copies of Definitely Maybe; spend an hour on YouTube sifting through the annals of Blur and Pulp’s career highs- and realise how good things were. I am sure, whether you are a musician or music-lover, you would have been influenced by some of the acts of ‘Britpop’. The British invasion celebrates its 20th birthday this year, and what better excuse than to celebrate a one-off and brilliant music time. It is unny; it is Sunday; it is warm- what better excuse do you need? I am rushing off to replay Champagne Supernova (for the 15th time today), so get right on it. Take heart, take inspiration and earn reflection. Above all, for all reading…

SMILE and remember when a truly magical time ruled our hearts.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

Ten Essential ‘Britpop’ Tracks

Girls & Boys- Blur (Parklife, 1994)

Don’t Look Back In Anger- Oasis (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, 1995)

Parklife- Blur (Parklife, 1994)

Common People- Pulp (Different Class, 1995)

Slight Return- The Bluetones (Expecting To Fly, 1996)

Live Forever (Definitely Maybe, 1994).

Caught By The Fuzz- Supergrass (I Should Coco, 1995)

Disco 2000- Pulp (Different Class, 1995)

Wide Open Space- Mansun (Attack of the Grey Lantern, 1996)

A Design For Life- Manic Street Preachers (Everything Must Go, 1996)

Five Crucial Albums

Oasis- Definitely Maybe (1994)

Blur- Parklife (1994)

Oasis- (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

Pulp- Different Class (1995)

Supergrass- I Should Coco (1995)

Feature- Relationship Status: “It’s Complicated”

FEATURE:

Relationship Status:

“It’s Complicated”

THIS will be a short one, as it has been an odd last few days…

to be honest. I am back to music duties on Monday, yet have had a lot to reflect recently. This morning I started- and completed- a half-marathon. I was running on behalf of Cancer Research U.K.- a marvellous charity that is in need of as much money as possible. Members of my family are donating, and that money will be pledged to a local hospice. My uncle, Mark, died recently and was supported by the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. With his funeral taking place yesterday, it seemed appropriate timing that I was running today- but am sad that he did not live to hear about it. I won’t bore you with the ins-and-outs of the run itself, suffice it to say, it was the toughest physical endeavour I have undertaken. My legs are screaming; my feet blistered- and I am slumped against the wall as I type. In spite of all the (inevitable) results of a 14 mile run, I feel proud that I have done it. Making it to the end was the target, and did what I set out to do. Tonight, I will spend a few hours relaxing and reflecting, but something weighs heavy on my mind…

I will give special props. to Kate Hollowood and Adele Pierce. These two human beings are the ONLY people whom have donated to my cause. Outside of social media, I have had various contributions from family (and extended family), yet only two from anywhere else. I am deeply appreciative and thankful that these two lovely people have donated- if they hadn’t then it would have been embarrassed. I guess I am angry. There are quite a few people on Facebook and Twitter whom I have supported endlessly. Money has been pitched into their music ambitions; presents bought (when they needed a lift); projects and so forth have been endless shared and promoted. Many people have new connections because of me; some have made big strides in their personal lives as well as music careers. I always endeavour to give as much as I can to as many as I can- because that is the person I am. I do not expect anything in return (it would be nice now and then), but it seems pretty appalling when it comes to this. I was- and am- not raising money for me; if this were a Kickstarter campaign for my music I would still be infuriated. I ran for a worthy charity, to help beat a disease that killed my uncle- something that should be a no-brainer when thinking about donating. There are no excuses that can be levied out. I know people have bills to pay, but guess what: so does everyone. I am unemployed, spending money on others and in the midst of a lot of illness and uncertainty. I am forging ahead and keeping strong; focusing on my future firmly, yet am not exactly in a position when I can boast about my life. I cannot afford to move from home; I have not be on holiday for 13 years and cannot even afford to go out much- and yet I contribute!

This post is not meant as a rant; and I am acutely aware of the irony, in the sense that no one will read this. I feel I am always giving to so many people without question; without thinking about it- some people have received so much from me. All I asked was for a token sum of money for a brilliant cause that is set up to help eradicate an indiscriminate dictator. Thanks to Kate and Adele, and it is a huge shame that everyone else ignored my kind requests (and the firmer ones). I will be thinking a great deal about who I want to be associated with in future- deleting people from Facebook. There are a few people I will not get rid of regardless, yet quite a few I have reached the end of my tether with. In an age where it is axiomatic that we should give as much as possible to noble charities, it is a sad reflection that I have had to rally so hard and endlessly bang my head against a wall. I don’t care if people donate (now) because of guilt; because they feel like they are being forced into it- everyone is going to be in a position (some day) where cancer affects their lives. Every charity post that comes from my online ‘friends’ I do my best to kick in; same goes with Kickstarter and any other donation. I buy music, show support and never think twice. I can only imagine that the lack of donations coming through, is because of selfishness and a lack of caring. I have been very depressed and saddened seeing the total I have raised (£70 so far) and actually am glad my uncle is not around to see it- I would hope to be in triple figures after nearly three months of setting up my Just Giving page.

Anyway, as I have stated, anyone I feel SHOULD have donated will no longer be in my life come next week- why should I give so much when they cannot be bothered to help? Most people urge me to make music and record as soon as possible, and I wonder what would be the point; I would be surprised if anyone actually bothered to listen to it. I guess it is a rant, but a justified one; I am just annoyed that other people’s friends donate to their charity causes, yet when it comes to my online contacts, the purses and wallets are empty. In spite of the anger and annoyance I am feeling, I am proud of myself for running. The money raised for some very lovely people will help and I am sure that my aunt will be pleased to hear of my day.

In a general sense, I am just imploring people to be more thoughtful and less selfish. I will not stop donating and expending effort ensuring that I assist my friends, but it is imperative that things change. I don’t care what your financial situation is at the moment- if you can afford to get pissed or to throw money away, you can afford to donate a few pounds to causes like mine. As stated, most people will probably not see this; those whom are culpable will not amend their ways, so it seems a bit lacking- I just needed to get it off my chest. On a day where I have pushed myself harder than ever, I would like to think that it is not entirely in vain. So, if you have even a quid going spare…

PUT it my way!

___________________________________________________________________________

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=SamLiddicott