Interview: RKZ



“Don’t be afraid to do what’s different”



By Sam Liddicott

17:00 31st July, 2014.


The mixtape Science X Soul is released on 21st August, 2014.

RKZ’s music is available to purchase at:


Renowned for his philanthropy, humanity (multi-talented abilities) and stunning music; RKZ is one of this country’s busiest talents. Still Oceans is a tantalising glimpse into (the forthcoming) Science X Soul: a record that will distinguish the Bedfordshire-born Rikesh Nitin Chauhan as one of the most vibrant names on the scene. I ask the 24-year-old about his influences; how music helps vulnerable adults in society; what drives his process- plus any advice he would offer up-and-coming musicians.


IT is rare to meet anyone in music that has such an…

entrepreneurial and humanitarian approach. Aside from names like who seems to be financially-driven and technologically-focused- few modern-day musicians take the time to consider others- the focus is on their own worth and ambitions. I guess it is hard to balance that sort of work ethic: make sure your mind is committed to your passion; allowing some room for charity and unselfishness- whilst making sure you do not burn out. I am always impressed when someone comes along; able to negate the pitfalls (of this balancing act); ensuring they dedicate as much attention to others- as they do to their own craft. It is a well-heralded belief that musicians do not give enough to the public- too much attention is on commercialism and financial gain. This is true of a lot of mainstream acts: those who have their heart in the right place ensure rigid focus is placed on benevolence and community. Recently, I was introduced to a rather special and tremendous talent: the vibrant and compelling RKZ. Before I pay tribute to one of the U.K.’s most special artists, let me shed some biographical light:

RKZ (pronounced ‘Ricks’) is a singer-songwriter, rapper and Spoken Word artist from Luton, England. He began his career in 2009 as a rapper before gradually developing his skills as a singer, Spoken Word poet and writer. His musical style is considered a fusion of alternative R&B, Neo-Soul and Hip Hop. Aged 24, RKZ has already released several singles, four mixtapes and three EPs to date with a fifth mixtape, Science X Soul, scheduled to release in 2014. He has been playlisted on radio stations including BBC (Radio 1, 1Xtra, 3 Counties, Radio 4, 6 Music and Asian Network), KISS and Bang Radio, and has performed nationwide – from acoustic venues such as The Water Rats and Hoxton Bar & Grill to festivals including T In The Park, Reading, Leeds and BBC London Mela. He is currently preparing the release of his fifth mixtape, Science X Soul, and debut LP, Wanderlust. In 2012, RKZ was announced as Ambassador for CALM. The charity aims to reduce the suicide rate with young men in the UK, particularly London. Suicide catalysed by depression and stress is the single biggest killer of young men aged 15 to 35 in the UK. RKZ is a prominent writer and regularly contributes to CALM’s website and monthly CALMzine, where he touches on topics including depression, society and youth culture. He has self-published an online series called #MotivationalProse, which is dedicated to instilling a positive mentality and outlook in the youth of today. He also contributed to Hip-Hop blog, Sampleface, as a music reviewer before becoming the Head of UK Content in 2014. RKZ – who is slowly becoming a jack of all trades – has directed all of his music videos since 2011. He has gone on to direct music videos for artists including Cashtastic, Skott Summerz, Preeya Kalidas and more. He also produced video content for emerging arts talent platform, Be Discovered, which featured artists including Shakka, Little Simz, Tawiah, Chasing Grace, Jasmine Solano, MeLo-X, Little Nikki and more.”

Few other acts are as busy and driven as RKZ- it seems he is immune to fatigue and self-absorption. Committed to charitable avenues (and the importance of good mental health), he is the ambassador and figurehead of a new wave of musicians: those that take the time to help struggling and vulnerable. RKZ does not make music a catalyst for his charity work- or vice versa. The two work with each other but do not encroach- RKZ has as much passion and conviction for both disparate realms. As warm and caring as the young artist is, his music is among the most electric and potent in this country. Having been recording since the age of 17, he set up the record label DAS Records: he left the label is 2009, before embarking on the first of his series of mixtapes- a classic series that shows the full extent of his ambition and experimentation. Already having released four mixtapes- and a series of E.P.s- the Luton-born rapper has no sense of slowing or relenting- his album Wunderlust is released shortly; in addition to his mixtape Science X Soul. Following a prestigious spot at last year’s Reading and Leeds Festival (on the BBC Introducing stage), the momentum has been building- this year, the assiduous artist has been as busy and creative as ever. In addition to his loyal charity work, RKZ cares about his fans and listeners: his official website is the most detailed and informative I have ever seen. Ensuring new eyes and ears do not miss out, RKZ has a distinct and unquestionable love for music- something that has compelled me to find out more. As the video for Still Oceans is released- Science X Soul and Wunderlust are imminent- I was keen to find out who influences the 24-year-old; what his plans for the future are- how important poetry and lyrics are (to the development of his music)…

You are renowned for your fusions of various genres – built around a Rap core. Do you think that cross-pollination is the key to a richer and more fascinating sound?

Art doesn’t have boundaries, it continuously evolves. I’ve always lived trying to learn and experience new things – quite often that takes shape through different styles of music. I don’t start creating with the intention of emulating a certain sound, I just do what I feel works best. What sounds good, and what feels good. For me the key to a richer and fascinating sound comes from being your truest self and losing all constraints.

What do you think of current music – in terms of quality and innovation?

There’s so much scope for experimentation, for inspiration. A lot of things are happening in the world right now that have inspired people to raise their voices. The best art has always been the product of (usually) politicial-driven triggers. You begin to see a lot of rappers speak more consciously, producers are going back to their roots, writers and composers are able to bring attention to things we wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to. And in similar vein, it’s bringing out incredible records that preach positivity and make people want to get up and move. Music is great right now – it never stopped being great – it’s just down to where you’ve been looking.

Are there particular artists – on the modern scene- that you are impressed by?

Of course. I’m always first to praise the likes of Jhené [Aiko] and Kendrick [Lamar]. They’ve been my favourite musicians for a minute. Their sound is so undeniably fresh, and that struck a nerve with me. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Jordan Rakei, Common, Ariana Grande, ScHoolBoy Q, and I’m getting into Snarky Puppy. In the UK artists like Daley, Ego Ella May, Little Simz, Shakka, Shawn Sanderson, Wretch, Tawiah, Eric Lau… the list is endless, man.

Your fifth mixtape – Science X Soul – is released shortly. For those new to your work: what can you tell us about its content?

It’s an amalgamation of R&B, spoken word, rap, groove and a lot of awesomely subtle BVs! I’ve enlisted some incredibly talented producers and collaborators in the likes of Gifted The Great, Shawn Sanderson, Raxstar, TINYMAN, Kaly, Handbook and more! I keep my music conscious – everything needs to have a strong moral or purpose behind it. I love records with good groove and warmth so I always try to intertwine all of those elements where possible.

Still Oceans (RKZ’s latest single) is gaining praise for its chilled and seductive sound – who are your main and most important influences?

The record was inspired by an acoustic version of In LOVE We Trust by Jhené Aiko. I’ve sampled her on my last two mixtapes (Stranger on 21 and Jhené’s Song in Words of Adrenaline) so it was only right to keep that going. Generally – I’m influenced by the things I see around me and experiences people go through. I like to position myself in their shoes and write about how they feel, if it’s something I’ve not personally been through. I’m told I’m quite good at doing that.

Your debut L.P. – Wanderlust – is forthcoming. What is that album going to offer; how will it differ from your mixtapes’ sounds?

It’s not as raw as the mixtape. It’s very intricately arranged – vocal heavy as opposed to rap led – melancholic, sultry and honest. I love making music you can sit and chill to, something that takes the listeners away into their own world. With R&B and Soul the music alone can speak volumes, so having the entirety of the album produced in that way really allows me to be in my element.. creatively, lyrically.

Many modern artists overlook the importance of great lyrics and words. How important are lyrics and poetry in the development of your identity?

I’m a writer, so they’re THE essential element for myself and my art. I’ve never really been able to express myself as well as I do with music, poetry and spoken word. It’s gives me a canvas to build a story on and allows me to paint a picture for everyone else to absorb. I don’t necessarily think it’s overlooked but it depends on the kind of artist you are. A lot of what we see in the mainstream is the product of a business. They create what’s trending and make music that doesn’t really provoke. This isn’t to say that it’s not a skill – making pop music is very, very difficult to do. Rather poets, writers, and musicians that want to share their collective thoughts, ideals and stories, favour lyrics as the primary and tie music AROUND that.

Do you think that social media – and the rise of the digital age – is helping or hindering new acts?

If it hinders you, you’re not doing it right. Social Media is a fantastic tool that’s revolutionised music promotion and the DIY attitude. Of course the flip side is you’re exposed to a lot of ‘spam artists’ that send generic tweets to a million people, but no one pays attention to that shit. And yes, the digital revolution did change the face of the music industry but we need to accept that and find ways to utilise the situation at hand. Social Media is the first place I hear about new releases, videos, etc. Everything is moving over to digital – if you’re not with it, you’re falling behind.

In addition to music, you are an Ambassador for C.A.L.M. (a charity that aims to reduce suicide rates of young men in the U.K.) – how important and crucial is that work to you?

It’s important to put good energy into the world. CALM is a fantastic cause that aims to help men tackle their demons and destroy the stigma surrounding depression. It’s played a massive part in my development as an artist, a person, a human being. They’ve helped a lot of people through tough personal situations, and every other day I get someone new wanting to know more about them. It’s so important to get people talking about their feelings and make people more aware about mental health.

Having worked with a lot of depressed and vulnerable young adults; how important a role does music play in their life? Is there a way the music industry can help those affected (by mental illness)?

It transcends beyond music. ART overall is such a massive part because it gives people that aren’t great with their words an outlet. They can express through that, in surroundings that are more comfortable to them. CALM actively works through the arts across London to reach the younger audience from working with musicians like myself, to graffiti artists to maintaining presence at festivals, street parties and general events. Just check out their website and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

In regards to the music industry, Soul Culture took a massive positive step forward with the launch of their blog focused on depression and mental health – OK Not To Be OK. It’s a case of opening up and putting shit out on the table. When we talk, we’re empowering ourselves, and that needs to happen more because I know there are some phenomenal stories out there. Slowly but surely we’re making headway.

In terms of plans for the next year- what is forthcoming?

That very much depends on how this year pans out! I’ve got two singles following this mixtape, as well as the LP. Ask me in December and I’ll be able to give you a better answer, ha.

What would be your advice for any young and eager musicians coming through?

Don’t be afraid to do what’s different.

It is clear that RKZ is a young artist with a great deal of heart. Committed to raising awareness- of vulnerable and mentally ill adults- his hard-working drive should inspire many other new musicians- enforce and compel a new way of thinking. In addition to continuing his role as a C.A.L.M. ambassador, Chauhan is making sure that his music reaches as many people as possible. It is clear that music has the power to lift and soothe the mind: people who suffer mental illness- such as myself- find redemption and inspiration in music- it gives the affected something to find comfort in. I have been listening back- at RKZ’s body of work- and seeing the progress and development (he has made). Seemingly more fervent, hungry and striking- with each release- he is one of this country’s most important and prominent musicians. His compelling blend of Rap, Spoken Word and Hip-Hop influences creates unique and wonderful music- draped around atmospheric and direct vocal deliveries. If you haven’t heard of RKZ- and his majestic blends- then make sure you make it a top priority. Few understand the importance music plays in helping troubled minds- reaching out to the most susceptible and vulnerable. Ensure that you absorb the music and magic of RKZ and his fascinating back-story- where has come from- and just what is to come…

FEW other artists would appreciate it more.

Special thanks to Tracey Hills of Brick London Ltd.


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Album Review: Gorilla Punch Radio- Gorilla Punch Radio


Gorilla Punch Radio



Gorilla Punch Radio


 Gorilla Punch Radio, Gorilla Punch Radio

Gorilla Punch Radio is available from:


Bragging Rights- 9.5/10.0

Pick Yourself Up- 9.3

I’ve Got Your Back- 9.3

Burn this City to the Ground- 9.4

Shadows- 9.2

Follow You- 9.4

Tease- 9.2

Breathe- 9.4

Song for the Underdog- 9.5

Jane- 9.3


Song for the Underdog


Bragging Rights, Burn this City to the Ground, Follow You, Breathe, Song for the Underdog


Gorilla Punch Records


Rock, Indie-Rock, Funk, Pop, Punk


Yorkshire is producing ounces of terrific bands and artists. Riding high in the mix is Gorilla Punch Radio: an act capable of some terrific things. Their self-titled debut album sees them explore balkanised fighters; deep and longing passion; dirty and seedy pub scenes- all tied around an axis of force, passion and pressing urgency. For those bemoaning the lack of ambition and diversity- in modern-day bands- here comes the case for the defence…


LOOKING out at the band market today…

and you get a clear sense of developments occurring. I am referring to the mainstream largely: the case is the solo market seems to be making serious ground. In previous reviews, I have stated how dominant bands are- in people’s thoughts- and how far ahead they seem to be- in terms of demand and popularity. Through the course of 2014, I am finding that solo acts are taking most of the critical glory. From the likes of new heroes Sam Smith; through to current heroine La Roux, the public are connecting with the lone stars- those whom proffer their inner-most thoughts and emotions. I am not sure what accounts for this reversal and transposition: whether the quality is not what it should; tastes and trends have enforced this move. Whatever is behind the shift, it is fascinating to watch. Part of the reason- why solo acts are fascinting and compelling- is that they can be more distinct and individualised: you are focusing on the human being rather than an overall sound. What you tend to find- with regards band music- is that the overall projection and sound is focused on; it is harder to distinguish yourself aside- solo artists have a much easier time of things. If you take the cases of Sam Smith and La Roux, you would be hard-pressed to compare them: the former is a master of heart-aching and stunningly evocative introspections; his voice gliding and haunting every scintillating note. La Roux has a more energised and vibrant disposition, yet still errs towards the recesses of personal insight- giving the public an insight into her psyche and life. Icons of different genres; the two are equally potent and effective- I worry that bands are suffering from a lack of mobility. Over the past year, we have seen a rise and growth that has been unparalleled- the sheer force of new acts coming through has stifled and suffocated the scene. Making it hard to discern the quality from the quantity, the public have been faced with a Herculean task: deciphering which sounds are worth holding onto; which you should negate and dispose of. One of the most sought-after and in-demand genres is Indie- and Indie-Rock. Accounting for the majority of new bands- coming through- it seems to be the favoured and the in vogue style of song. I can understand why bands tend to prefer Indie- over other genres- as it is a great middle-ground between harder and more intense sounds and softer and less striking ones- there is a lot of mobility and potential within these areas. The major issue is that not a great deal of diversity is being summoned: the bands that are aiming to seduce the heart are starting to numb the mind- only a small few manage to resonate and enthuse. Because of this, there might be some trepidation and scepticism- among listeners- as to the future potential of Indie- new bands coming through are offering some form of redemptive hope. Having reviewed more than my fair share of Indie and Indie-Rock bands, I have seen a mixture of quality- quite a few are pretty average; there are a fair number that have the potential to make some serious waves. In order to separate yourself apart, your sounds, lyrics and formation needs to be striking- too many new acts are the epitome of boredom and unadventurous thought processes. My featured act understand the necessity of these points- just seeing their (band) name and you are hooked in. In addition to their music (being alert and endlessly compelling), the quartet seem like they can be a name to watch- their debut album is certainly no slouch or minor work. Before I go into more depth, let me introduce them to you:

James- Vox

Boothy- Gtr.

Sam- Bass

Paul- Drums

“‘Bragging Rights’ is the lead single from the electrifying self-titled debut album by Gorilla Punch Radio. It explodes with a rhythmic guitar riff that’s reminiscent of the Hives and serves up a lyrical commentary of the drunk and seedy shenanigans of folks out on the town getting messy. The single includes a video shot on the streets of Leeds, documenting the evolution of the band from Gorilla’s to people as they make their way to perform a sound check at Leeds’ very own Brudenel Social Club. ‘Pick Yourself Up’ is the second single and is a reflective ballad about moving past heartbreak. It includes an Rn’B style beat underneath a fingered guitar rhythm that provides a very unique and fresh sounding groove. A video will also be included upon release of this single. The album will be released on Friday 25th July and was written and recorded by the Leeds based multitalented musician James Booth better known as Boothy. He recorded and mixed the record at his studio in Headingley and is preparing several videos to promote it, including the aforementioned ‘Bragging Rights’ that will be released alongside the record. The songs that comprise the record are incredibly diverse with each song providing a different feel and tone whilst still retaining the same underlying guitar driven sound. This diversity comes from a wide variety of influences with soaring chorus’ reminiscent of Foo Fighters and Coldplay on tracks such as ‘Burn this City to the Ground’ and ‘Follow You’ alongside more delicate tunes like ‘Pick Yourself Up’, ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ and ‘Shadows’ which take lyrically from the style of Michael Jackson and rhythmically from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Songs like ‘Bragging Rights’ and ‘Tease’ provide a more cynical lyrical style influenced heavily by Arctic Monkey’s with pumping grooves that belong on any dance floor. The underlying sound of the album however is driven by the masterful guitar work.”

Focusing on- and revolving around- the guitar; the band’s diverse and distinct songs cover a lot of ground: they are not contented to stick with one formula and style. Adept at transmogrifying their projection; keeping their roots and core focused and solidified- the Yorkshire band have created an album that offers so many different avenues and possibilities. One of the biggest issues I have- when it comes to new and established Indie bands- is their lack of adventurousness and range. Too often they are concerned with being unique, they overlook the relevance of motility and surprise- leaving the listener cold and somewhat disinterested. Solo acts like La Roux have shown how a fertile and ambitious focus can reap serious rewards- without compromising your ideals and uniqueness. Gorilla Punch Radio draw in a wide range of influences; their songs are striking and unexpected treats (that put your mind in overdrive): you do not have a chance to be fatigued or bored; everything they offer digs deep and elicits a big response- it is no surprise they are garnering some effusive praise and support. I have given up staying away from Yorkshire-based bands: there are so many coming through, I am going to have to accept that the county is never going to stop being awesome- there are no two acts (in Yorkshire) that sound alike or play along the same lines. For those among you (like me) that prefer their music band-driven, we are all looking around for something different and interesting- which breaks away from the grey quagmire of the new scene; the gloomy bog of predictability. Given that social media- and music websites- have a hard task ahead of them- making sure the best and most worthy bands get their due exposure- it is a mind-boggling proposition. It is down to people like me to make sure Gorilla Punch Radio draw in some new supporters- I have witnessed too many fantastic acts fall by the wayside (due to lack of dedication and fans). The self-titled L.P.- from the quartet- is sure to give the guys a huge boost: there are few that will be able to ignore its direct and sagacious propositions.

Being an embryonic and new act, the first offerings are the ones you are hearing. Of course, the quartet have been recording and playing for a while but their fully-fledged and most concrete work is their album- the first chance for the public to witness them in their full potential. It is hard to say how much they have developed- given this is their debut L.P.- yet it is clear they have a solid and familial bond. Most bands show some loose edges and weaknesses; their music has some ragged minor notes and bum proffering- inevitably everything is not that polished and assured. That is not the case with Gorilla Punch Radio: they sound like a band that have been recording for decades- such is the emphasis on conviction and tightness, it is impossible to point towards any weakness. Every one (of the album’s 10 tracks) is assured and instilled with confidence- these songs have been worked on and given a lot of due attention and consideration. Able to sound live and effortless, the band skillfully come across as professional and jamming: they mingle the rush and urgency of live performances with the defined and full sound of a studio-recorded act. Few artists are able to pull of this kind of feat- kudos goes to the band for this. The reason acts and artists develop and improve is due to their solidity of their bonds. If the relationships are not solid and assured, then the music is sure to suffer- the best and brightest musicians are those that have a clear respect for one another. When listening to Gorilla Punch Radio’s sapling cut, I was astounded by how natural and dominant the music was- I have witnessed few artists that project the same amount of luster and energy. The passion and directness really bowls the listener over: even when songs are more temporised and restrained; the sense of assuredeness is hard to shake off. Being such a fully-formed and rounded band, the biggest test is where they go from here- how will their next move compare to what they have unveiled (on their current album). I would expect to hear the same mixture of influences and dynamics: mixing unique and unexpected lyricism with some mobile and fertile sounds; making sure the guitar fascinates and overwhelms- keeping the palette multifarious and deep. Drawing from personal experiences, the group will certainly have enough material (for new recordings)- how they solidify and distill them will see whether they keep the momentum going. I am wholly confident the Yorkshire quartet will increase and grow- draw in some new sounds and sights; augment and widen their appeal. A lot of new Indie acts are somewhat limited and constricted- due to their rigidity and narrow focus- but Gorilla Punch Radio will not have this worry- they offer such a distinctive and heady brew; they have ammunition to confound and impress for many years to come.

Gorilla Punch Radio have their own unique sound- they do have some idols and influences that has inspired their music. If you are looking for comparable acts- or artists that have resonated with the quartet- then there are a few names that can be provided. The first band I would mention are Kasabian. When Gorilla Punch Radio swagger (and let their sense of adventure mandate their sounds), I catch hints of that pumped-up and hedonistic swing. Able to mix social commentary with a sense of fun and smile, Kasabian’s latest album has been impressing critical eyes. Whereas Kasabian’s lyrics are hardly impressive, they do make sure that excitement and entertainment comes to the fore- modern-day anthems and jams seduce and enthrall the listener. Gorilla Punch Radio instill these properties (writing much finer lyrics) into their motifs: they have managed to master the art of entertaining the crowd; ensuring their tracks get feet moving and fists pumping- they could very well be a future festival act to watch closely. During Empire, Kasabian provided twists and turns; rave-ups and changes of skin- their songs were not samey and confined. Gorilla Punch Radio provide comparable diversity and mobility: their songs mutate and develop as they play; each new number reveals something unexpected and original- without losing the sense of focus and guidance. One other band that came to mind- when hearing Gorilla’- is Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Funk-Rock mesmerisation that made them legends can be heard in Gorilla Punch Radio. Perhaps the best album comparable is Californication. The vocal soulfuleness, range, pitch and melodic sensibility made the album such a phenomenal work: the way Kledis improved and strengthened his vocal ensured that critics were raving- tied with taut and addictive jams, the L.P. is seen as one of their finest works. Although Gorilla Punch Radio do not have their lyrics in California- and similar themes- I can hear those same Funk-laden epiphanies. The introspectiveness and relaxation (that gave their tracks its power) can be seen on the Yorkshire quartet’s album: when the band go into Funk realms there are embers of Californication‘s finest moments. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ mix of esoteric mythology; divine musicianship and soul-lifting stylisations has resonated with Gorilla Punch Radio- they incorporate the best elements of them into their sounds. By this stage- Californication- John Frusciante was back on board: his revolutionary and compelling guitar work transformed the band. Capable of going from lush and reserved; scorching and Western-themed and Hendrix-inspired it is a riotous and genius performance- the album would have been weaker were it not for him. Gorilla Punch Radio employ similar guitar-based wonder: they can merge disparate and unique strands into a full-bodied whole- change course and direction; keep songs fresh and unpredictable. Foo Fighters are a name that come to mind when thinking of our quartet. The way Grohl’s mob provide emphatic and anthemic classics has had an effect- a lot of Gorilla Punch Radio‘s most urgent moments can be linked to Foo Fighters. If you look at one of their mid-career gems like One by One: that album mixes introspective qualities with potent guitar riffs. Even the quiet moments have impassioned and stirring middles- it hits the guts and resonates with the listener. Exploring relationships and various heartache, the album is an emotional high-point- a work that meant a lot to Grohl. Gorilla Punch Radio explore similar love-lorn themes and tenderness- they imbue their songs with a similar sense of atmosphere and nuance. When Wasting Light arrived (in 2011) the fiercest and less compromising side of Foo Fighters arrives- they are less trampled and confined here. Positively-charged and affirmative lyrics mix with anthemic and crowd-lifting bonhomie. A lot of Grohl’s vocal growl and gravel comes through in Gorilla Punch Radio’s most gripping moments- the band make sure they tie affirming themes with the importance of consistency- their tight and compelling anthems could easily fit on Wasting Light. When the quartet become more introverted and emotional, you hear whispers of Coldplay’s most lauded work. The band (Coldplay) are derided and less potent now- their latest album was universally mocked- but if you look at Parachutes: that album has elegance and uplift abound. The graceful and real emotions that came through transcended the band’s identity crisis- too many hints of Jeff Buckley presented themselves. Able to make sorrow and emotional themes uplifting and life-affirming, the genuine and earnest emotions- complete with classic guitars and piano-laden washes- made it such a phenomenal work. I can see that Parachutes- and early Coldplay- has inspired Gorilla Punch Radio. When the Yorkshire crew’s softer and emotive numbers come to play, you can extrapolate some Coldplay-esque gracefulness and style. A lot of modern acts are inspired by Coldplay- they tend to incorporate the band’s worst and most cloying aspects- Gorilla Punch Radio have instilled the headiest and most resonant aspects of the band (into their delicate and stirring mandates). Two names I would like to mention are U2 and Green Day. Sharing little common ground, the two acts have struck a chord with our quartet. U2’s legendary quality for larger-than-life stories made albums like The Joshua Tree so mesmerising. U2 managed to link the bombast and volcanic prowess of their early albums with the lush and scintillating emotion of their newer releases- something that Gorilla Punch Radio have taken to hear. The band spar anthemic and driving Rock with tender and considered ballads- everything is packed with soul, heart and grit. Vitality, restraint and exultant nuance- seen in The Joshua Tree- sees mainstream pride and unabashed swagger sit with tailored and honed classics- similar elements I can see in Gorilla Punch Radio. The broad palettes of Achtung Baby has arty guitar textures and a lack of pretentiousness; moving from economical and save-the-world rallying, it looked at relationships and personal strife- a more fascinating and compelling album awaited. Metallic and invigorating guitar sounds saw darker themes lurk with reinvigorated and inspired Pop classics. Gorilla Punch Radio incorporate similar qualities and aspects into their music- the guitars are emphatic and variable; the range of sounds as diverse and rich; the quality meter as high as can be. Green Day seem to have inspired the Yorkshire quartet. I can hear some of Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocal quality (that was solidified in Dookie). That album sees humorous apathy and catchy (and infused Pop rush) unite; the true identity and personality comes through. Whilst adolescent snottiness and vitriol is heard on that album, the biggest hallmark is the hooks and sense of fun- Gorilla Punch Radio instill these essences into their unique- and deeper- songs. Peppiness, maturity and slickness came out in Warning. The album contained rebellion- it was far less petulant than predecessors. Softer numbers like Warning and Macy’s Day Parade sees Armstrong lose the snide and cutting side of his voice: opening it up, he lets his tenderness and emotion come through. Gorilla Punch Radio- in their calmer moments- elicit some of Warning‘s passion and qualities. I want to mention three more acts- that could have inspired Gorilla Punch Radio. Oasis come to mind- in the band’s most uplifting songs- the spirit of 1994 ‘Britpop’ can be discovered. Definitely Maybe sees a bed sit dreamer- Noel Gallagher- make it in music: surveying the streets and modern youth, the song takes in love and the essentialism of ambition. The messages look to uplift and inspire the masses; raise the downtrodden and overly-hopeful- inspire the deepest and most burning dreams. There is bravado and confidence in spades: the record covers so many topics, it is a dizzying cornucopia of sonic experience. Gorilla Punch Radio fuses anthemic paens to youthful longing; the proclivities and inequality in relationships; the desire to make a better life- those fundamental philosophies that defined Oasis have compelled our quartet. Those aching and delirious guitar codas; the impassioned and striking vocals; the deep and catchy songs. The Yorkshire quartet have incarnated the spirit of Definitely Maybe; skimmed away some of the fat- appropriated it for their own means and ideals. Michael Jackson is a name you may not expect to see- linked with an Indie band. The biggest comparison one can levy is towards his lyricism and pace. If you hear songs on Thriller, Bad and Dangerous: those anxious, frantic and delirious jams made him the true King of Pop. Jackson’s genius for melody, composition and nuance enforced the albums- made them such timeless works. What Gorilla Punch Radio have done is incorporate some of Jackson’s distinct and innovative beats and rhythms. Their most Funk-infused and upbeat songs skiffle and dance; they have that same rambunctious and captivating drive- embers of Billie Jean, Leave Me Alone and Dirty Diana can be heard in some songs. Thriller’s zesty and determined energy sees a range of different sounds come in: strutting jives, asphalt arias and cool chills linger. Gorilla Radio Punch incorporate this range and ambition: the band are adept at fusing these emotions and diversions into solid wholes. The final name I will introduce is Radiohead- particularly their The Bends era. When Gorilla Punch Radio become more introspective and focused, I hear some of Yorke’s distinct and angst-laden tones. Thoughtful and instantly memorable, the 1995 masterpiece joined challenging soundscapes and haunting melodies- there was something for every listener. Gorilla Punch Radio sees (Nice Dream)-esque guitar swoon with My Iron Lung-style rage and direction. Incorporating various elements of The Bends, it is clear that the album has played a big role in Gorilla Punch Radio’s build-up- it will be great to see if they expand on this in future releases. As much as I have mentioned other acts, it is worth stating that the Yorkshire band follow no others- their L.P. is unique and original as anything out there. If you dig deep and listen hard, you can detect shades of other musicians; fragments and moments that have inspired them- nothing glaring or obvious comes through. Few bands take the trouble to be distinct and unique- it is pleasing that Gorilla Punch Radio step away from their peers’ worst tendencies.

Given the band’s potential and promise, you eagerly wonder what the first notes of their album will offer. Bragging Rights is up first- dragging the listener in with the first notes. Echoed and machine-like electronics put me in mind of Michael Jackson and Radiohead. The emotive and anthemic grandeur of The Bends’ (most immediate moments) nestles with Jackson’s Bad-era sonics. An intro. that rouses the soul, it sets the album alight from the first seconds. When our frontman steps up to the microphone, his voice is determined and impassioned- it is clear that his messages need to be expounded immediately. Taking us into bar rooms and alcohol-filled climbs, we focus on the song’s subject: walking into the bar, we see a man who has “evil in his eyes“- whether referring to a drunken patron or a jealous friend, the words are delivered with a punchy directness. The man seems to be a cad and bounder: someone who is capable of seducing and entrancing, it seems like he is honing in on his prey. A disreputable and cheating sort, it appears he uses the bar as a hunting ground- using women; buying them breakfast then dispensing of them. Back in the bar, our hero- buys the girl- a “gin and tonic“, yet is acting kind of cold- ill-concerned with personalisation and bonding, his procedures seem routine and formulaic; he has done this many times before. Able to take a person’s reputation, it seems the heroine doesn’t really care- perhaps intoxicated and uninhibited, nothing really matters much. Possessing an ember of Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocal sound and delivery, there is a great U.S.-Punk aspect coming out- it is an urgent and youthful coda that never loses energy. When the chorus comes in, the chugging and rumbling guitars whip up the mood- the song becomes anthemic and puts its heart in the stadium. With singalong pride, the band unite with a tight and passionate performance- ensuring that the words are as indelible and memorable as possible. The girl- of the story- is the hero’s bragging rights; when the morning comes he has had his fun- no intentions of repeat performances, he is moving on to his next conquest. Perhaps it is no surprise that events have conspired as they have. With the heroine spilling drinks down her top; making a mess of herself, she is far-gone and adrift- the sharp-tongued hero has whiskey on his breath and has honed in on his latest victim. The evocative and scenic pictures put you right in the bar- the sights, smells and spills tumble through; the pugnacious and spirited vocal enforces every word and consideration. Building that infectious chorus back in, the song increases its momentum and cores- you will sing along by the time you get to the half-way mark. Lacing in some scorpion-sting guitars; psychedelic weaves and acid trip, the band unleash a firestorm of sonic potency- emphasising the urgency and danger of the mood. Scintillating and Slash-esque; it is a dizzying and insatiable guitar riff- one that bays for blood and never lets go of your mind. After more chorusing, the song comes towards its end- marking the cessation of an immediate and stunning open coda. Pick Yourself Up begins life more restrained and gentle. Our hero’s voice is soothing and soft; whispered and emotive, we are following him through the city- the cold wind is blowing his mind. Scarf around his neck, our frontman loves the city; he wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world. In spite of the embracing arms of the city, there is doubt and ghosts haunting his mind. Some bygone love is swirling around his brain- her “smeared mascara” is a memory that is impossible to shift. Acting as a demon burden, you feel the weight on his shoulders- listen to Thom Yorke’s delivery on High and Dry and you are half-way there. Propelled by a rousing and classic-sounding guitar rush, our hero has his girl on his mind- whatever the circumstances behind the break-up, there are unresolved issues. The effusive and swaying composition lifts the spirits and causes a smile; our hero looks outwards- needing a pick-me-up and soul raise, he is trying to inspire his spirit and move on. When the next verse comes around, it seems that it is not going to be easy to get over things- sleep is alluding him. Listening to the silence- which helps him to sleep- our hero is being kept prisoner by the secrets he keeps- as is everyone else. Whether this signals a guilty conscience; if he has secrets he needs to get off his chest, you find yourself intrigued- something is keeping him up at night. Obsessed by his sweetheart, our hero does not want to feel sorry any more- maybe moving on is the only sensible thing that can be done. Mixing Radiohead’s The Bends with some early Coldplay, it has a Pop-Indie feel: inspiring and emotive, it possess a contemporary and modern feel- its messages are as relevant now as they have always been. Most listeners can relate to that sense of lingering romance- trying to hold onto to something that should die. Sitting “on the fence” there is a lot of mixed emotion happening; weighing things out, our frontman looks back on life- the good and bad times he shared with his girl. Wondering whether he should do the right thing- whatever that may be- effective and atmospheric backing vocals add to the sense of urgency and emotion. Arriving in a myriad of Funk-infused promise- stuttering and jiving percussion; grooving and dancing guitars- I’ve Got Your Back is instantly gripping. We see lingers of Red Hot Chili Peppers come in. Our hero has some anxieties on his mind: being on life’s trapeze, he knows he could be knocked off by the “slightest breeze.” Radio-friendly but not too mainstream, the track marries a mellifluous and insatiable charm with introspective and edgy inners- there is a great mix of positivity and vunerableness. With his voice ragged, growling and strengthened; we are seeing a special figure being introduced- someone who our hero is looking out for and supporting. When their back is against the wall, they should have no fear- our frontman is going to be there for them. Reminding me of some of Crowded House’s Woodface-era gems, the melody and constant movement gets into your head- its addicitiveness and memorability is one of its stand-out qualities. Consistently motivated and determined, another rumbling and psychotropic guitar arpeggio comes in- it is fierce and buzzing; hypnotising and strong. Offering motivational codas and thoughts, our hero projects his mind to his subject- advising them to keep their head straight and back firm, he is the voice of resilience and faith. Wonderful things can happen when you are not looking; random chance can favour the unfortunate- it is waiting for the song’s subject. Ensuring the song never succumbs to glibness and ineffectiveness, the band punctuate the verses with vibrating and stinging guitar swagger- counterbalancing and juxtaposing, it is a needed and balanced condiment. Raging and jumping, you allow yourself to become entranced in the lust and ambition of the riff- before our frontman comes back to the fore. Reintroducing his direct and honest outpourings, you know how much he means everything- that conviction is hard to ignore. Riding the song to its conclusion, the band ensure the chorus remains in your thoughts- that central message defines the song and the ambitions at work. Burn this City to the Ground begins with a rampant and determined swing: Punk energy and Foo Fighter-esque force makes the song instantly gripping. Our hero is determined not to stop dancing; no one is going to get to him- a “10-tonne man couldn’t stop me from living in the now.” Overlapping and overlaying vocals, the primal rush and rampage puts me in mind of early Green Day- that same authority and passion can be detected. Gritting his teeth and biting his tongue, our hero is not going to remain silent- he has something to say that his target will not appreciate. Whether speaking to the government, his musical peers or a girlfriend, you can feel the pent-up rage increase- that nervy and frantic energy makes sure the messages resonate. Determined to burn the city down- you can kick him, kill him- our man is not relenting or submissive- he is determined to make his way and say his piece. I get the impression that the song refers to ambitions and personal identity; maybe enforcing yourself through music, the hero is striking against the modern-world (and ineffectual) colleagues- presenting something braver and more memorable. Whether off the mark or not (my interpretation), the weaving and transformative compositions hits your ear- the guitars contort and tease; a Punk rave-up-cum-Funk odyssey; it drives the track with immense force. With his voice full-bodied and intent, our frontman is not letting anyone overthrow him. Spurred by tripping and funky bass; clattering and insatiable percussion; carnivorous and trippy guitar, the full weight of the lyrics hit home- my mind was changed towards the final moments. Stating that he will do things his way- “so we don’t get it wrong“- maybe a relationship is being rebuilt and reappraised- the heroine may have screwed things up; this time our hero calls the shots. Creating some mystery and ambiguity, the listener is left to project their own course of events- it is a rousing and compelling song that is synonymous with its unwavering and lustful energy. Shadows takes the mood down again- the beginnings are rampant and pummeling; they subside to something more measured and refined. After the pounding percussive build, our frontman comes into the light- looking at a stranger tapping the concrete, we are viewing the streets once more. With the voice impassioned and elongated, our frontman stretches notes and thoughts- his voice is aching and tender; strengthened and determined. At night, he walks alone; his sweetheart’s shadow is there with him- loneliness and heartache seem to be playing on the mind. Watching empty streets in silence, words are whispered from the trees- you sense that our hero has lost someone dear to them; that void is causing tremulous desire and longing. The moonlight shines and seduces; our frontman lets his voice soar and proffer- you put yourself next to him (as he watches the world go by). Showcasing a mix of traditional values- scenes of broken love and haunting ghosts- with an original and fresh spin, the song compels you with its earnestness and honesty- nothing is disingenuous or forced at all; nothing overdone or over-emotive. The compositions keeps things in-check and balanced: never encroaching or interrupting things, it nobly backs up our hero- his voice and words are firmly in focus. Composed with an innate catchiness and alacrity, the charm of the song (and Pop edges) lift it high- few can overlook its intentions and multiple qualities. Consisting of few words, the chorus- once more- is the most pertinent thought: it is reintroduced and instilled frequently to ensure that the sense of hope never pervades. You wonder whether our hero is longing for something he cannot have; whether his mind is weighed-down and overcome- he seems hopeful in spite of everything. Gorgeously gentle strings beckon in Follow You- making me think of Radiohead and Jeff Buckley- with romantic and delicate regard. Aching, beautiful and inviting, you get caught in its flowing breeziness- that sweet-natured and riparian sound is enough to soothe the weariest of bones. The glass is cracked- it is professed- our hero still able to see through: whether a metaphor for a relationship that has ended, I am not sure- the aching and emotive delivery makes you think that we are surveying the development of a love story. Pondering life’s big questions; wrestling conflicts; our hero found comfort in his girl- she was able to make him forget about such repressive issues. Now that things are through- those problems- are “here to stay“- the teardrop vocal gives me the impression the relationship is unsolvable. The song soon explodes; the guitars and percussion smash and strike- joined on backing vocals, the track kicks up a gear and elicits genuine surprise. Our frontman is running away; unable to get any traction, he cannot face the world- nobody is able to make him forget about the problems he has. Finding no answers, our man is seeking redemption and guidance- unsure of what he really needs. The relationship he had was close to completion- the loss of which has caused defragmentation of his soul and heart. Having to make his own way, you can detect that desperation and loss- emphasised by the atmospheric and busy composition. Twinkling and high-pitched notes mingle with persistent percussion; lower bass notes fuse with the vocal- creating a vibrant and stunning whole. Keen to follow his subject- whether his girl or an unnamed guide- the course is set and plans made- nothing else is left for it. Letting his falsetto seduce and campaign, our frontman’s voice mutates and shifts; keeping the energy and passion levels high, it is an impressive and stand-out performance. With the band tight and intuitive it is one of the strongest songs on the album- the group show just how effective they can be when electioneering in Acoustic and romantic avenues. After a song that looked at direction and rebirth, there is now some Tease afoot- the opening notes certainly seduce and compel. Gentle arpeggio strings are underpinned by pattering percussive elements- mingling the likes of The xx with Radiohead, it is a curious and impressive initial gambit. Our frontman is having some doubts and problems: when he looks into the face- of his new love- all he sees is an ex- a girl (who still plays heavy on his mind). Wracked by the confusion and lingering affections, there is some turmoil and pain- events turn towards more romantic and honest considerations. When singing “I could simply sell my soul/just to watch you sleep“- you wonder if a particular sweetheart is being referred to. Whether concentrating his attentions to his current love- or looking back at a lost romance- there is certainly conviction in the vocals. Willing to give everything up (to watch her breathe), the romantic and urgent proferrings speak deeper- our hero does not want to “be alone tonight.” The mind is split; the truth not so elementary- when touching his girl and caressing her skin; you feel he wishes she was someone else. The truth would be destructive and calamitous: living a pretense, our man cannot shake the feeling he is with the wrong girl- when looking in the mirror, he sees her staring back. Whatever is holding back his true desires- maybe the relation is beyond repair- he is trapped in a relatively loveless bond; he would endure this rather than sleep alone. Cinematic and romantic compositional elements bolster the song’s bargaining position- the band provide maximum effect with few notes and histrionics. Wanting his love to breathe him in, I am reminded of Crowded House again- the band’s legendary gift for melody and smart songwriting is being portrayed by Gorilla Punch Radio. The lines are evocative and scenic; by the final moments, you questions whether things will work out right- or whether the two will never know the absolute truth. Dispelling the serenity of songs past, the creeping and devilish electronic spring that starts Song for the Underdog promises something heavier- initial moments are controlled and focused. A particular person has rocked into town- whether an old foe or enemy- they are willing to “take the crown.” There is an instant balkanisation: our hero’s crew will not back down at all- it seems like a rumble is imminent. The spirit never dies; the clans come together- punctuated by rushing and clattering guitar injections- the mood builds. With his sisters and brothers, the scene is set- they can not antagonise or defeat the brave band of warriors. The commonality and community (that is bonded) is unflinching and solid- whomever dares challenge them will suffer the consequences. Whether the song refers to a literal coming-together- or an emotional tug-of-war- the intentions and convictions are evident. Stepping into Muse/Green Day territories, the mixture of bombastic and motivation implore- you could imagine the song featuring on Black Holes and Revelations- nestles with Punk youthfulness and spirit- the intoxicating infusion whips up a toxic fire of fight. Unleashing furious and venomous guitar snakes, the song teases and strikes- backing off slightly to let the vocal come back in. Leading the army, they will “take it all“- the band back up the hero with a majestic and intent composition. Determined to not stand down or demure, our frontman keeps his soul sharp and resolved: the stadium-sized projection is enough to get legions of fans singing along in unison. Showcasing some of Foo Fighters’ nous for anthemic tribal calls, Gorilla Punch Radio bring their own brand to the party- the electrifying and delirious guitar line- that occurs near the end- gets quicker and quicker; the sense of drama and tension reaches its fever-pitch. Sensing imminent destruction, the song dies down- the listener is left to imagine scenes of carnage and triumph. Ensuring that some calm quells the broken glass (of the previous number), Jane provides some relaxing and soothed strings. Folk-tinged and tender, our frontman comes to the mic. “Deep inside the candle of goodwill and good intent“; he can hide away- the warmth touches his skin. His sweet and redemptive heroine (Jane) is keeping his heart good and true- inspired by her personality and natural goodness, her flame is keeping him alive. A medicinal love, our man is swept off of his feet- protected from the “morning’s rays“, there is a cocoon formed- Jane has ensured her man is protected and safeguarded against the rain. Free from the vicissitudes of life, the vocal is relaxed and natural- you can hear a sense of a relief and contentment radiate perfectly. With Jane on his mind- in his thought and on his side- her legacy cannot die- our hero clings onto the memory. Perhaps keen to have her back, there is a sense of sadness: this protective layer may not last forever; wherever she is, you feel our hero wants her back. Having provided him with a new lease on life, she is surely someone who needs to return- I am left wondering the true meaning behind the song. Maybe reflecting on a night with his love- in the heat of the moment- or looking back on days past, there is a spectral lingering- as though Jane is a spirit that hovers in the breeze. Romantic and utterly devoted, the track is the perfect way to bring the album to a close- wonderfully bookmarking a deep, compelling and stunning collection of songs.

Before I highlight the band themselves, I shall give some initial impressions. The album is a rich and marvelous work that seamlessly blends serene and romantic acoustic numbers with emphatic and rousing anthems- few bands manage to pull of this feat. It would be great to hear more Foo Fighter-inspired tracks like Song for the Underdog and Bragging Rights. Two of the album’s best cuts, the braggadocio and machismo- that is ready-made for arenas- shines through- the band are at their most confident and inspired here. That said, there are no real criticisms I can levy. The emotional and romantic numbers are never overdone or too numerous- that balance seems just about right. For transparency’s sake: it may have been good to see some more Funk-inspired moments- I know the Red Hot Chili Peppers are influences; when Gorilla Punch Radio let their relevance come out, they elicit some of their finest moments. The track order is spot-on: the strongest tracks are well placed; there are no long runs of acoustic numbers (or harder-edged jams)- they are ordered so that the album never loses momentum or becomes predictable. With some assured, polished and stunning production values, the L.P. is allowed to flourish and roost- every note and song is clear, concise and beautifully represented. Few new bands possess as much confidence and conviction as Gorilla Punch Radio- this comes out emphatically in every track. They manage to incorporate influences but never make it seem glaring- the abiding sensation is of a band with their own sense of identity and direction. The album is perfect for the current weather: able to perfectly soundtrack hot days, it is a collection of songs that never lose their charm and quality. The softer moments are apt for those times of reflection- when one yearns to escape the pace and fervency of modern life. Tight, structured and nuanced, the Yorkshire quartet’s debut album is going to see them go far- if they can keep the pace up, their next offering will be very good indeed. The imagination, musicianship and diversity- within the album- leads to huge results- it is strong enough to draw in a wide range and sector of different listeners. It is worth mentioning the band members themselves. Paul’s drumming is one of the album’s biggest draws. It never impedes or overcrowds songs- instead keeping the backbone firm and assured. When the band present heavier and more anthemic songs, the percussion is dominant and primal; unleashing fury and vengeance it is a magnificent performance. When songs became more reflective, the drummer does not become too quiet- able to provide enough passion and guidance to lift the song to new levels. Working perfectly with his bandmates, Paul’s precise and impressive contributions provide a huge amount of passion, weight and lust- I can imagine he is one of the best live drummers around Yorkshire. Sam’s bass provide some lyrical and beautiful notes; able to snake and sting with venom, it is a multicoloured and variable instrument. Making sure every song propels forward and does not relent, I was impressed by Sam’s contributions- few bands have such a potent and talented bass player. Capable of melody and tender backing; able to step into the spotlight and offer something divine, you are compelled by that sense of spirit and determination throughout. Boothy’s guitar shredding is quite epic indeed. Able to transform his axe into a wailing and psychedelic animal, you have to tip your hat- so much invigoration and tantilisaion is summoned forth. Fully competent of changing directions, the guitar work is endlessly inventive and mobile- no two songs have similar riffs and lines; terrific arpeggio moments are traded with psychotic and blood-thirsty finger-shredders. For a band that provide so many different sounds, you need a guitarist who is up to the job- most bands employ two guitarists to cover their spectrum. In Boothy, they have an ambitious and mesmerising strings man. The figurehead of the band, James is the voice of Gorilla Punch Radio: the mouthpiece of one of Yorkshire’s finest Indie bands. You are never truly reminded of other singers- you get embers of Thom Yorke, Billie Joe Armstrong and Dave Grohl but it is never too pressing or obvious. Able to move between Punk sneer, composed and delectable falsetto; ragged and masculine gravel, it is quite an instrument- not many singers have such a huge and varied range of emotions. Equally convincing when letting his heart bleed- as he is when summoning armies of fighting comrades- here is a definite singer to watch- it will be intriguing to see how his voice develops (and is employed) on future records. So much passion, energy, urgency and fight is provided; capable of rustling up myriads of scenes and sights- the ten vocal performances are uniformly stunning and extraordinary. I was left deeply impressed and gripped by Gorilla Punch Radio: a new band to my thoughts, I am going to be watching them closely over the next year. Yorkshire is spawning so many terrific bands, that it may be hard for some to distinguish themselves- our quartet have such a distinct and singular sound that no other band really come close (in that sense). If you want to unearth an Indie/Indie-Rock band with oodles of heart, soul and adventurousness- this should be the logical first stop.

A great deal of time- when concluding a review of an Indie band- I am left in two minds: whether there is genuine room for improvement; just how long the act will last. It is not that I am a hypocrite or prone to over-exaggerating reviews; but the reaction you get when you first hear a band can wane- the appeal can subside on repeated listens. The main reason behind the devaluation and depreciation is the element of freshness: the bands that lose their sparkle tend to provide little in the way of shock and intrigue. Gorilla Punch Radio strike me with their name alone- although for some reason I get images of that Goddamn awful loan advert with Chesney Hawkes! They are a dapper and fashionable band: not contended to deck themselves in jeans and a T-shirt, their eye for style is reflected in their music- here is an act that appreciate the importance of range and diversity. Having such an original and distinct sound, they manage to sprinkle in some elements of other acts. With that drive and anthemic punch of Foo Fighters; the to-the-jugular stun of Nirvana; the lyrical componency of Michael Jackson (and so much more)- they are a band that have a clear authority and affection for music. The likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Oasis feature in their rotation- fans of (any of the aforementioned) are likely to find much to appreciate. There are some remembrances and scenes of Arctic Monkeys- it seems the natural starting-point for every new Indie band- yet it is not a major sticking point- Gorilla Punch Radio employ the Sheffield band’s hitting and stirring punch without mimicking or hanging onto their coattails. This is something that impresses on me a lot: too many new bands want to become Arctic Monkeys; ensuring their music pretty much replicates the band’s outpourings- leaving the scene rather uninspired and listless. Gorilla Punch Radio’s lack of homogenisation and yawning predictability is what will bring in the fans- in a scene that is busy and hungry, they have given themselves an early edge. Before I wrap up, I will finish on two different points: their album and the current scene. When listening to Gorilla Punch Radio, you are left feeling distinctly uplifted: the L.P. has so many fascinating edges and nooks, you replay tracks over and over- seeing if there is anything you have missed. Both instant and nuanced, the album is one that stands up to repeated spins. The reason behind this discovery is the band themselves: the quartet have such a love for music, that all of their songs are imbued with passion and unmitigated conviction. Solidified and galvanised- because of their unwavering friendship- each note is rich and compelling. Leaving no room for austerity and slightness, the ten tracks- on their album- will win you over. If you are a fan of slower and more emotive songs, then you will not be disappointed. If you prefer things more potent and energised, there are songs for you; if you want to be dragged onto the dance floor and compelled to move- this is the album for you. New music is showing plenty of heart and hard work: the acts coming through are tireless and as ambitious as any that have come before. There is plenty of choice and diversity to be found; the issue comes when we arrive in certain genres- Indie is particularly culpable of lacking imagination. Although Gorilla Punch Radio work in various different genres, their Indie-flavoured output is as unique and distinct as any I have heard- they differ from the mass of contemporary sludge-makers. For this reason, it will be interesting to see how far they can progress- the initial reaction to their album seems positive and assured. The real test will be when it comes to promotion and sharing- making sure the songs are projected as widely as possible. I would implore everyone to seek out the band’s music; make sure you pass it along the channels of Twitter and Facebook- ensure as many ears as possible (get the chance to enjoy a real treat). The band is gigging and planning their next move; seeing how the album does- they are plotting the rest of 2014. I hope that dates in London are a proposition for the next few months- there are plenty of people who would want to see them down here. Having a reputation for chewing up and spitting out unworthy acts; many new bands are scared of the capital- it can be a cruel and uncaring mistress. I do not think Gorilla Punch Radio have much to worry about- I have seen many less exhilarating and high-quality bands do very well in the London scene. Over the next few days I am going to be assessing a couple of different Indie acts- based out of Canada- to see how North American sounds differ from U.K. ones- I find that over there the new artists are a bit stronger and less rigid. With the likes of Gorilla Punch Radio leading the charge, it will not be too long until the mainstream is given an overhaul: we will see bands take to the throne and rule with impunity. The likes of Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys will not last forever; their best days may be behind them- eager eyes are looking towards the new wave of wonders. If you are bored and uninspired by the raft of insipidness- coming from Indie quarters- then make sure you check out Gorilla Punch Radio…

THEY are going to be here for a while.


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Track Review: The Tallest Tree- Boat



The Tallest Tree





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Boat is available from:


Dan Weston and The Tallest Tree


Independent-Rock, Indie-Folk, ’60s Pop, Garage, Grunge


The blissful love story behind The Tallest Tree‘s incarnation is almost as uplifting as Boat: a track that is destined to find sunshine where there is rain. With so few musicians offering comparable redemptive music; this Mexican-Canadian husband-and-wife act should be in everyone’s lives. Sit back and let it take you over…


A number of different thoughts entered my…

mind- when The Tallest Tree contacted me. Their debut single Boat has been garnering a wave of adulation- helping the proud oak sprout, flourish and bloom. I shall go into more depth- with regards the act themselves- yet have been inspired to divert my mind- somewhere pleasant and less stressful. Over the last few weeks, sleep and satisfaction have been elusive- music is attempting to fill the (massive) void that is present- an aural remedy that is only making small dents. A lot of my recent reviews have centered around energetic (but forceful) music- with harder and dangerous edges. Concluding that what is need- considering I am watching a lightning storm as I type- is something elliptical and sunshine-infused, the arrival of The Tallest Tree could not have been better timed- their incredible and glorious musical rush is enough to quell and soothe the most downtrodden souls. The duo have a charming and delightful back-story: they are a husband-and-wife duo who are building a reputation as one of the most impressive new acts around. That milieu and formation- married couple making music together- has been explored in a number of different acts- the likes of Fleetwood Mac have seen partnerships and relationships change; inspire songs and cause friction. It always seems like a risky avenue: if the love breaks down or is subverted; the music may suffer- causing entropy and break-up. The flip-side is relevant, mind: if the passion and sympatico- between the lovers- is strong and unbreakable, it can lead to something truly wonderful and enduring- as is the case of The Tallest Tree. Modern (British) acts like Knuckle, Royal Blood, Red Blood Shoes, and Huxtable build their reputation because of the close-knit bond of the duos involved- most of the music to be heard here revolves around Grunge, Indie and Alternative themes. With the exception of Red Blood Shoes, the aforementioned are male-only. In California, acts like Little Dove and The Open Feel provide boy-girl componency- they marry heavier and harder sounds with scenes of modern life and the realities of love. In all of these cases- all the musicians mentioned- the relationship involved is friendship- it is a collegial parabond that enforces their strength and direction. Having seen the likes of The White Stripes- the (former) husband-and-wife Detroit duo of Jack and Meg White- play so marvellously; create some of the best music of the last two decades- closer and more intuitive bonds can lead to terrific things. In the case of the Garage legends; it was various other factors which lead to the duo’s end: Meg’s anxiety; Jack perusing solo avenues etc. I have been thinking a great deal- with regards to what mandates the most effective and genuine music- what creates the finest and most unbreakable units: if you have a shared passion for music, as well as each other. It may be unrealistic to suggest that those in love make better sounds- the scene would be formulaic and rather unpredictable. The essence and passion that radiates from Boat is infectious and rare- it could only come from musicians with a natural and unimpeachable connection. There is still too much pernicious and unethical behaviour (and motive) in music: too many established and big-named acts are in it for the money- concerned with advertising, promotion and self-edification. The lure of the shiny dollar is seeing faceless and empty musicians put their image and voices on cheap and pointless technology; plastic and cheap appurtenances- the industry is slowly transforming into a stock exchange. Those that are dedicated to music itself- doing things honestly; unconcerned with the evils of money and selling-out- are the ones that are eliciting the biggest reactions- you can hear how much the art means to them. My featured artists are the embodiment of the rebellion: true musicians that want to create songs; connect with people and give as much as they can- completely devoid of the natural necessity to rattle their money tins. Before I expand, let me introduce them to you.

We met a couple of years ago when Armando’s band, The Oats, was playing in Canada.

And that’s when Armando fell in love with Dawn.

Now Dawn and Armando are married.

This is starting to feel a little like a short story….

Every time Dawn came to visit Mexico City, we would write a new song…

We’re not sure if the shell shock of getting torn apart at an airport will ever wear off. But now we are joined at the hip and we’re getting to do what we love together. “The Tallest Tree is a band formed by Dawn from Dundas, ON and Armando from Mexico City. They met a couple of years ago when Armando’s band, The Oats, was playing in Canada. Now Dawn and Armando are Married. This is starting to feel a little like a short story. Then Armando said “Let’s have a band together” to what Dawn replied “And we’ll call it The Tallest Tree”. Every time Dawn came to visit Mexico City, they would write a new song. They both sing and write music that they love. They like simple, straight forward, grungy music with a hint of folk and garage. They have a simple philosophy of a do-it-yourself, use-what-you-have nature and simply enjoy doing every part of what they do. We believe the music business has gotten twisted and crooked and weird. There is wonderful music out there, but a big percentage of it isn’t signed or promoted by the big guys. Support independent music. The Tallest Tree feels that people in a position to give should help people who aren’t, and that’s why a part of our merchandise sales goes to charity.

Independent music is seeing the hardest working people make impressions- having to do everything themselves, you have to admire the fortitude and determination. The Tallest Tree’s band moniker is inspired by nature; its words look at evolution and growth- the same proponents and ethics that are synonymous with their drive and zeal. Determined to return music to grass-roots- do things yourself; connect with the public- they are shrugging off the seduction of commercialism and marketing- funneling a percentage of their profits to charity. A benevolent, considerate and warm-hearted duo, this is no cynical ploy or hoodwink: that efficaciousness and delirious urgency comes through in their music- they are as honest and open as anyone you could mention. After my last review- surveying Reverend Moon’s album Coyote Gospels- I find myself back in Canada: with The Tallest Tree being based out of Dundas, Ontario, I am in familiar territory- I have seen many great acts emanate from here. The likes of Indie-Rock, Punk and Folk masters play here (Ontario); a wide and diverse swathe of musicians live- The Tallest Tree provide another chance to expound the virtues of one of Canada’s most fertile musical avenues. Having a cross-pollinated, multicultural and mixed heritage, the duo espouse this diversity in their sounds and music- the divine and scintillating allure of Mexico City has seen the capital’s flavours (and inspirational scenery) come into Boat. Before I delve into the duo themselves, I will bring up one point: uplifting and summery music. At the moment, there is a general lack of bonhomie and positivity coming through: too many bands and new acts tend to portray darker and more introverted sounds- they negate the vitality of vitality. In a harsh and unpredictable time, we all need something that puts us in a better frame of mind: takes our anxieties and woes away; subsumes our deepest and most ignoble thoughts- creating a paen of light and renewed energy. The Canadian-Mexican duo’s sense of commonality and community is what stands them aside from (most of) their peers: their drive towards apportion and rationality is going to stand them in good stead- they are an act that should be embraced and supported. Having come from such storybook and filmic scenes- you can imagine a captivating Indie flick being made about their coming-together- they are making their first splashes into the waters of music- determined to make some serious waves indeed.

It is difficult to compare Boat with the duo’s previous work- being their debut musical venture. The first signs are incredibly promising. Most new acts do not come through with anything that strong- at the very start- and seem nervous and reluctant- the hesitancy and restrain they show restricts ambition and any development. In a scene where competition is high; spaces in music are a at a premium- you have to make sure your first footsteps are as explosive as they can possibly be. The Tallest Tree make sure that their debut single contains all the hallmarks they will go on to cement: the mixture of Garage, Folk and Independent-Rock; the effusive and stunning vocals- tied around memorable and swirling compositions. As emphatic and tremendous as Boat is, the future sounds will show how the duo have evolved- that will be the true test of character. I do not feel The Tallest Tree have anything to worry about- you can hear potential from the very first notes (they proffer). It will be intriguing and interesting to see where they go from here- whether a new single or E.P. is going to come forth. In terms of comparable acts; often a three or four-track E.P. is unveiled: containing a range of ideas and sounds, they are all keen to showcase just what they have at their disposal- I suspect that The Tallest Tree will follow this course. Unlike most of their peers, the Canadian-based duo have some hidden and clear potential: if their debut single is this vibrant and catchy, then there is no stopping them- they have a flexibility and mobility that few others possess. Having a love for and authority in a number of different genres- as diverse as Grunge and Pop- eyes will look to see just how well they can unite them- if they produce an E.P. (in the coming year), just what are we going to see? It is clear that there will be progress and evolution: new themes and stories will explored; some fresh sounds injected into the mix- retaining that distinct and original sound. What would be great to see (from The Tallest Tree) is some two-hander love songs: something that documents their road to now; how the duo met- something that takes us into Mexico City- a succinct and delirious coda. Perhaps The Tallest Tree will delve deeper into sunny territory: unleash a sunny-as-hell smile that builds on Boat’s charm- soundtracks beach parties and sun-drenched drive. Their first outing has some terrifically assured lyrics and vocals: I suspect that some firmer and more introspective numbers will come to play- with more impassioned grit and guts (to be seen). The most apt and appropriate thing I can do is to project outwards: see how The Tallest Tree compare with those around them. The vocal harmonies and driving determinism does not put me in mind of anyone else. I shall look at some influences and possible reference points (below), yet 2014 is not showcasing any comparable acts- no-one has quite the same mixture of qualities and sounds. The modern scene sees quite a few acts that play Grunge, Indie and Alternative- most of the tracks look at love and the problems faced in love. Enforced by traditional values and public demands, most of the songs do not differ or surprise too much- occasionally bands come along that will subvert expectation. When reviewing Bi:Lingual- a Rap-Rock band- their direct and original songs looked at reality TV, hollow fame and the waifishness of modern music. Similarly- when assessing Grunge band Allusondrugs- there was a clear sense of (a band) that followed no-one else- their songs stepped away from overly-trodden soils; planted seeds in new hectares; leaving their listening public satisfied and treated. The Tallest Tree have some pleasingly familiar undertones; they ensure that the music and composition is striking and unparalleled; the vocals have a true and different projection- their mandates and themes step aside from any common and undistinguished quarters- the results have led to a song that is potent as it is memorable. It is this potential and strength that is going to see them thrive in the future: when (and if) they do release an E.P., that will be one of the most sought-after and tantalising records of the year- it is worth keeping your eyes open to see how the intrepid and entrepreneurial duo progress.

As distinct and fresh as The Tallest Tree are, I can find a few bands- and acts- that may have influenced their sound. One of the most impressive names- when it comes to influences- is The Beatles. The Liverpool legends’ gift for melody (and stunningly evocative Pop) sounds enforced their greatest albums. When listening to Boat, I was put in mind of two Beatles albums: Rubber Soul and Abbey Road. The former is my personal Beatles favourite- not many people share that view- because of the melodies and superb compositions. On that album, the four-piece did not sacrifice their ethics and background: establishing themselves as music’s forerunners (by 1965), the guys did not compromise their Pop ethos- the songs across Rubber Soul retain their cores and hallmarks. The tightness, intelligence and artiness (that came across in the album) can be applied to The Tallest Tree (and Boat). The sophistication and artistic depth that ran rampant through the album’s first half seems to have had a baring on the band. Listen to songs such as You Won’t See Me, Think for Yourself and The Word- tracks 3,4 and 5- here is a trio of taut and catchy numbers. Cooing and atmospheric vocal harmonies are backed by incredibly deep and rich compositions- the lyrics mix harsh truths, dislocated love and pure affection. Joining adult themes with traditional- and young audience-targeted themes- The Tallest Tree make sure they appeal to all ages- bringing in mature listeners and younger alike. Expanding the instrumental and lyrical parameters (of the Indie and Rock genres), The Tallest Tree display a Beatle-esque sophistication and maturity. Pushing beyond purely romantic boundaries, Boat has some ambiguity and mystery to it- Rubber Soul’s deeper and more curious moments have oblique cores. When their final album- to be recorded rather than released- Abbey Road came out, you could tell that the boys were having fun- following the turmoil that synonymised Let It Be’s torturous recording process. Hard edges and vibrant guitar sounds- that came to the fore during their self-titled L.P.- made their way onto the disc. Abbey Road saw The Beatles indulge their passion for lovely phrasing and beautiful segues; mixing various themes into a complete whole- the album is a symphonic and united effort. The Tallest Tree have a similar passion for collage sounds and variations: Boat has various colours and distinct strands; coupled tightly and authoritatively, their gift for phrasing and melody sees a weight of light and conviction come through- possessing some semblance of the ’60s legends. With similar lushness, depth and emasculate production; The Tallest Tree ensure their debut cut is as urgent and pressing as it can be- compelling the listener on multiple plains. Wistful sunniness came out in Here Comes the Sun; unity and direct messages in Come Together; recriminations and accusations in You Never Give Me Your Money- those stylistic shifts made the album such a phenomenal work. The Tallest Tree pack similarly disparate and diverse themes into their music: exploring various aspects of humanity and love, they show a restless and innovative spirit. As The Tallest Tree have Garage elements, one pertinent name (you can compare with them) is The White Stripes. Being a devoted fan- and mournful at their loss- of the U.S. (modern-day) legends- I can see that The Tallest Tree are fans as well. Jack White’s spellbinding and emotive riffs made their early work such forceful records. White Blood Cells was the first true work of genius (for the band)- Elephant perhaps was their second. It was here that White fully seduced the critical minds; brought Blues and Garage elements into powerful and simple numbers. Introducing meditations on fame and love, the songs win you over with their honesty and sheer passion- the mixture of strength and sweetness is what makes The Tallest Tree so compelling. White- when writing White Blood Cells- ensured that every number had a very distinct sound; nothing sounded tired or overly-rehearsed: making the album fresh and timelessly classic. The Tallest Tree show some of the Detroit giants’ ear for authoritative and ragged riffs; backs-against-the-wall percussion- with those delicate and sweet embers coming forth. Boat puts me in mind of tracks such as I Can’t Wait, I Can Learn and Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground: these Stripes gems married romantic and genuine middles with spiky and rushing compositions- the sparring of precise, cutting lyrics and passionate vocal turns can be seen in Boat. As The Tallest Tree instill some Grunge gravel and grumble, there are a couple of reference points: Pixies and Nirvana. The former comes out in Boat’s more squalling and raptured moments. When the guitar bays for blood; allows itself to become more rampant and lustful- it put me in mind of the band’s (Pixies) seminal work, Doolittle. The scintillation, drama and atmospherics that made Here Comes Your Man and Hey such standout cuts- I can hear suggestions of each within Boat. Minus the berserk histrionics and demented screaming, The Tallest Trees have skimmed that away- they instill that Pixies dust into their motifs; putting you in mind of the heyday (of one of the world’s finest bands). When proceedings become determined and hypnotic; when the sounds and riffs crank up the heat, it reminds me of Nevermind-era Nirvana. Cobain- being one of the world’s most underrated songwriters- was noted for his incredible range and intelligence: his songs could be honest and romantic; spiteful and direct; bizarre and disturbed. Boat mixes the bite and endless catchiness of Come As You Are; the swagger and louche tongue of Lounge Act- together with the vocal hypnotism of Polly and Something in the Way. Nevermind was lauded for its nuance and addictiveness: tunes you just hummed and sang all day long- The Tallest Tree have that same talent for infallibility. The deep textures, mood shifts and scintillation is the reformulation of Nirvana’s stunning masterpiece. It will be interesting to see if The Tallest Tree indulge Grunge territory in future E.P.s and releases- crank up the amps and investigate typical and traditional Grunge themes. A few more names I can suggest step away from Grunge and Garage elements. The Magic Numbers came to mind- when assessing the vocal harmonies and elemental sway- of Boat. When the two female vocals blend in sweet unison, I catch glimmers of The Magic Numbers’ debut album. Cuts like Long Legs and Love Me Like You capture you with their swells of vocal rushes; the insatiable charm echoes strongly- The Tallest Tree have so many more strengths. Building on The Magic Numbers’ foundations, our heroes are more obstinate and deep- the vocals more authoritative and enforced. The Tallest Tree ensure memorable hooks and repeatability mandates their sound. Whilst Romeo Stodart’s (The Magic Number’s lead) voice seems reedy and feminine, Armando’s assured and convincing delivery is much more concrete and fascinating- backed by ethereal and dexterous female tones. When Dawn and Marra let their gorgeous pipes blend together; you hear tones of The Magic Numbers’ most compelling and urgent moments- the swelling grace and shimmering beauty can be extrapolated. The Tallest Tree have more balls and fashionable movements (than The Magic Numbers)- who were criticised for being too twee and middle-aged- and make sure their music is livelier and more enriching. Perhaps a more credible and sustained name- you can draw with the band- is Noah and the Whale. The lead vocals put me in mind of Charlie Fink. Having his voice somewhere across the Atlantic, some critics saw it as an acquired taste- having no real backing and contrasting tones. Armando’s voice is more cinematic and atmospheric: it can ruminate and tenderise; it is a baritone possessed of vulnerability and fastidious longing- there are no twee and soporific moments to be found. When Noah and the Whale hit their stride- on The First Days of Spring- many found it a progressive leap forward: the band mixed openness and bleeding wounds with rich and lush sounds- the songs stepped away from insane chirpiness to provide something deeper and more enriching. The band dug into the soul and came up with a gem. The Tallest Tree are masters of mingling light and breezier oeuvre, with vulnerable moments (and signs of anger)- tying together the most potent aspects of Noah’s eponymous sophomore disc. The final two names I am going to mention are Fleetwood Mac and The Auteurs. Perhaps a lesser influence, Fleetwood’s Folk and Alternative beauty made albums such as Bare Tree such relevant early works. The first key work from the band, it saw earnest genius Spare Me a Little of Your Love so true and earnest- the conviction and low-key brilliance made that track lodge in your brain. When the group developed and launched (their masterpiece) Rumours, something incredible happened: among fractious and fighting scenes, the band managed to record a phenomenally cohesive and stunning album. The rhapsody of sarcasm and underhanded deception fused with eccentricity and diversity. It is an urgent record that leaps out of you; bowls you over with its style and panache- Boat has a similar (instant) appeal and force. That mix of anguish and cheerfulness gave Rumours such a fascinting core: it was not one-dimensional or predictable; tears and smile could be found in every song. Tracks looked at break-ups and tormented proffering- the band’s two couples were undergoing infidelity transitions and huge fall-outs- shining like diamonds, nothing outstays its welcome- its instantly redemptive harmonies and staggering compositions make Rumours such a classic. Boat- and The Tallest Tree- instill all of these properties into their house: minus the squabbles and fragmentation, the music packs so much in; seamlessly parabonds emotion and spike with something more romantic and tender. When witnessing Boat’s more ragged and low-down guitar swaggers, one song came to mind: Lenny Valentino. Taken from The Auteurs’ career-best gem Now I’m a Cowboy, Luke Haines’ distinct and sneering anthem really hits the mark- it is staggering in its immediacy. Filled with aplomb, feral intent and sexiness, that track- and album- seduced critics and fans- all bowled over by the movement and conviction (of the off-kilter and influence album). Boat sees some of Now I’m a Cowboy’s determined riffs surface in its layers- you can hear a similar majesty. Those are a few names you can investigate- if you want to see where The Tallest Tree came from. It is always a good idea to separate expectation from reality: what you are provided with has far more distinction, personality and originality than most songs out there- possessing the slightest touches of other acts.

Beginning with some tense and disciplined guitar strings, the opening coda (to Boat)  is a powerful and forceful one- the duo want the song’s urgency and sense of drive to resonate as soon as possible. Carrying a hypnotising and entrancing twang, it is backed up by enthusiastic and impassioned percussion; bass underpins it with a determined and vibrant punch. When our hero comes to the microphone, early words are delivered with a real sense of purpose and weight- his voice begins fairly structured before rushing and running through the words. The opening couplet sees the lines- “All this time for one decision/seems like an important mission“- leaving you wondering what is being referred to. Maybe ill-at-ease with his current life; anxious and displeased with his situation, the hero is determined to get away and find something new and more nourishing. The obliqueness and ambiguity finds the listener curious and teased: the duo know the real influence (of the lyrics); making the words open for interpretation and speculation. Looking at a journey (and imminent travel), the decision is being mulled over- whatever is backing this escape, our hero thinks that “this shit is just a waste of time.” With some Charlie Fink-esque vocal intonation, the voice drops slightly on “waste of time“- that disaffectednenss and resignation comes through sharply. Whether our hero is keen to shed off the skin of his current endeavours; find something away from the chaos of life- I am not sure. It put me in mind of the romance of Armando and Dawn. Perhaps Armando is stuck at home- looking for romantic satisfaction and a new lease on life- he finds someone to take him away. The initial thread of the story looks at a heavy heart- some deep thinking is being done (and decisions weighed up). The song never loses its momentum and sway; with little room for breath and audio punctuation, the lines are strung together- stream-of-consciousness in their delivery- as though the lines need to come out as soon as possible. That urgent and breathless outpouring means the song gets inside of your brain: caught up in its agendas and aims, you are helpless to resist its determination. As the compositions becomes fuller- the static and twanging core remains; the mood lightens and expands- you get more pieces of the picture. The heroine arrives with her boat- the hero states that “I got paddles.” With thoughts of transition and relocation (on his mind), the duo just need (that) “thing that rattles.” Sensing this heroine represents something new and much-needed, you are mandated to become involved with the story development: almost able to picture the micro scenes and conversations, the adventurers make their way for new lands. In a sense, the lyrics act as metaphors: our hero’s empty heart needs an engine and catalyst; his girl’s mechanical rejuvenation and fuel is spurring him on- infusing his soul with meaning and new purpose. When the verse comes to its end- and the line “hope for something great that we can all live by” is presented- the first real signs of the backing vocals come in. Marra and Dawn project- in this interval- lower and calmed introversion; matching our hero’s tired and overwhelmed bones, it takes the song to its most relaxed and calmest realms. The chorus signals rejuvenation and revitalisation: the vocal- from Armando- is more upbeat and inspired; you can detect a smile and galvanisation- that required spirit and helping hand is enforcing his passion and urgency. The backing vocals offer sweetness and heart-rending passion. Imbued with a catchiness and compulsive charm, the addictive mantra sees the trio unite in a chorus of “She’s got to take me anyway“- when the vocals are blended, the song elicits its more electrifying and rousing moment. It is curious whether that particular line signals compromise- not able to leave him behind- or a shared desire to forge new beginnings- though you can hear the resilience and light come through in the song. The compositions makes sure that the listener taps their feet and nods their head. The percussion keeps a steely and punchy head on things: it makes sure the heartbeat keeps determined and solid; that drive and constant momentum never subsides- the song pushes forward and never loses its step. The bass’s swinging and dancing strings keep the sense of occasion upbeat and firm- elliptical restitution, it perfectly segues the song into its next phase. The guitar has its soul in dimensions of Indie and Garage: stinging and vibrating; insistent and rampant, it is never too heavy-handed- it’s textured and wonderfully evocative. When a microsecond riff- showing signs of Lenny Valentino (by The Auteurs)- it made me smile. The song throws in so many unexpected and fresh notes; it is not just a straight-ahead and aimless thing. Our hero thought that it would be boring “running on the beach this morning“; he found out that “shells, they come in plastic bags.” The wordplay here is wonderful: those vivid and peculiar scenes come rushing to your mind- I got visions of a tourist shack selling bagged shells; offering the scenes of the beach- but in the comfort of indoors. Throughout, there is an element of cool detachment- in Armando’s voice- that subsides exponentially; the distinct and pressing vocal delivery does not modulate or overemphasise (like Charlie Fink)- our hero is capable of nestling sensitivity and disconcertedness in single breaths. Mystery and byzantine curiosity comes to the fore (in subsequent lines). When speaking “I’m alright, you feeling jolly?”; the vocals from our hero have a determined and strong luster: there is little smile or tell; that sense of masculine pride means he never becomes entrenched in the sentiments- giving the words a sense of irony. Speaking to the heroine, he admits: “Tell me darling, that old story/I forgot, I guess it doesn’t matter.” Backed by wordless and entranced vocal offerings- from his sweet cohorts- that Noah and the Whale composite hits new heights- the band present their own inimitable version of events. When the chorus comes back around, you can not overlook the sense of fun and care-free regard. Released from the shackles of a previous anxiety, (the trio of voices) summon up sunshine and passion: the energy and youthfulness of the chorus makes the words that much more addictive- you will be signing along by this point in the song. At the 1:30 mark, there is a slight break. The rush subsides and things become a little more temporised. The percussion clammers, clatters and elicits (some subtle and primal beats); vocal coos and chorusing see ethereal and spectral haunt enter the fray- it is a beautiful and nerve-settling presentation. Building in that sense of atmosphere and repetition, the song presents a new line: “She got me good.” The mountain peak of Boat, the full effect (of the heroine) has taken effect: With Dawn and Armando uniting in voice, they share the sentiment- their distinct tones perfectly mix and blend a myriad of different emotions. Our hero seems contended and satisfied- never succumbing to overt happiness, his pride and assuredeness comes through. Dawn’s sweet and emotive calling is addicitvely effusive and uplifting- you are caught in the midst of another gravitational pull. With that percussion smashing- intermittently- and adding staunch and rigid clout, the bass keeps an undercurrent of energy going- not as emphatic as before, it has plenty of melody, identity and character. The guitar lines are stinging and vibrating (when elicited). The mood starts to build up and up. Assessing the precipice of relief and satisfaction, the vocal-instrument parabond shifts- to give way to a delirious and rampant guitar break-down. The inflamed and compelled axe unleashes a rapturous and defiant howl- containing some of Pixies Grungy wail, it is unexpected to say the lease. Whereas bass and percussion keep levelled and measured, the guitar contorts and transforms. Sunnier and jumping strings settle with howling and stoning execrations- mixing in Garage fuzz, Grunge beasts (and ’60s Pop) into the same refrain. Before you become enthralled in the potency and conviction (of this coda), the chorus comes back into life- the sun is back out and the cheer is reinforced. Joining hand-claps and grinning smiles into the palette, the song mutates once more- the listener’s head is taken back to previous realms; trying to take in what has come before. Unable to ignore and shake off the intuitive need to lift and please, the trio ensure that the final moments are as compulsive and catchy (as the first). Marra and Dawn provide vocals: blending together the one moment; working in a round-robin the next. Our hero seems content and relaxed at least: less nervy than the initial moments, it seems that has obtained some form of relief and escape. The ambiguity and oblique lyrical style means that the story could have a parallel- something less satisfactory and storybook may be projected. It is that sense of mystery- tied with the band’s enthused and incredible delivery- that gives the song such a depth and multi-layered appeal. The Tallest Tree know the true inspiration behind Boat: I like to think of it as a moment from the husband and wife- perhaps the moment they met and the way they bonded; that alacrity and passion- that resonates- is infectious and endlessly fascinating. As the song comes to the end, you still have moments and lines circulating and prodding; vocal melodies and blends obsessing the mind- embers of bygone scenes replaying in the front of your mind.

Boat is the type of song that does not come around that often. An impressive and emphatic debut cut, The Tallest Tree are going to be a band to hold closely. A lot of music is so po-faced and serious- it is nice that something with a lot of grace and smile comes along. Never overly-cheery nor needlessly depressive, it strikes a perfect balance: the contradictions and emotional blends are what give the song a nuanced feel; you are compelled to dig deep into the lyrics- discovering what they refer to and what lies behind them. The tight performance gives Boat a clear solidity and authority: every note and vocal proffering is assured and filled with conviction- the trio never suffer fatigue throughout. Marra Koren provides some captivating and incredible support- especially on vocals- mixing splendidly with Dawn. Adding extra depth and beauty to the song, her voice is an essential contribution- increasing the level of evocativeness and sensuality, it gives the track some terrific backing. Dawn’s vocals are compulsive and memorable. Able to provide something sweet and soothing; go to strong and powerful, you cannot imagine Boat without her voice- it elevates the words and gives moments ethereal and tender bolstering. Armando’s captivating lead beautifully keeps the song fertile and engrossing. His sonorous tones give depth and meaning to the words; even when the track calls for some aloofness, he ensures that the listener is still hooked- able to inject emotion and interest in all of his thoughts. I have mentioned Noah and the Whale’s lead a few times: there are definite flecks of Fink’s enthralling and unique voice- with Armando, it is less forced and much more natural. Most singers over-project and over-sing songs; many more do not provide emotional resonance or anything truly convincing. Armando’s distinct vocal is one that has great flexibility and depth. It can portray so many emotions and sights and will be fascinating to see what it is capable of in future records. When he combines with Dawn, you capture the closeness of their relationship- that mutual understanding and bond comes through emphatically. The sound they rustle up is a fantastic and multifarious blend- it means that the public will want to hear a lot more. It is not just the vocals that stand-out, mind- the lyrics are distinct and worthy of close investigation. Too many songwriters present words that are over-simplified and cliché; a clan of songwriters too highfalutin and intellectual- both camps push listeners away to an extent. Boat has some simplicity and directness- it does things with a great ear for imagery and economy of language. Employing few different lines, an incredible amount of curiosity and scenic projection is summoned. Thanks to determined and incredible performances, each word has your mind racing- you never have a chance to switch off or become bored. When a one-line repetition is unveiled, The Tallest Tree show how impressively they can burrow a single thought (into your brain). Compositional regard is not a scant consideration- each aspect and elements adds a huge amount to the track. The percussion is austere and focused- when the song needs some levelled and tight sounds- and can shift to something more inflamed and direct. Adding plenty of kick and lust, the mixture of pleasantly upbeat (and springing) beats raises the one moment; towards the song’s final moments, you hear embers of grittier and more snarling influences- shades of Grunge and Garage come forth. Like the vocals, it will be great to see how this develops across future releases. The bass keeps everything in-check and solid: not allowing the song to become overly-energised and unfocused, it is lyrical and simple; snaking and elegant- infusing vibrant and sun-kissed melody when the song calls for it. Making sure the song is tight and focused- in spite of the shifts and moods offered- it is a fantastic and assured performance (that is by no means left in the background). The solid and honest production is quite polished and fresh- it is not too gleaming, however. The guitar notes give Boat a driving motion: in the early moments, the sound is sparse but enticing- there is a consistent energy that does not lose its head or break (from its own sense of determination). When the solo comes up, the guitar opens and swaggers- an unexpected jolt, it is a rushing and awe-struck beauty. When you put all of this together, you get a perfect blend: every part of the song is perfectly fused to elicit the biggest sense of occasion and emotion. With codas and lines (you will be singing forever), not one listener is immune to its charms and power.

The Tallest Tree are one of the most genuine and warm acts you are likely to hear- instilled with such a passion for music and people; few other musicians deserve acclaim more. They have no ill-driven motives and ideals: profitability and market share is at the back of their mind; at the precipice is the desire to connect with fans and new listeners- ensure their music resonates as strongly as humanely possible. Boat is a staggeringly emotive and beautiful song that is the bottled perfume of summer itself: soothing and sensual flavour notes mix with multifarious lights; rawer and more urgent edges provide oomph and passion- it is a creation to overwhelm, inspire and motivate. Being embryonic and newly-bred, it is always hard to see- in the case of most acts- where they are headed- you know The Tallest Tree are going to make music for as long as they can. A compendium of spirited beauty, the Dundas duo are a name that are on a lot of lips: they have received airplay in Manchester; been recipients of multiple (glowing reviews)- building a reputation in the U.K. and North America. It cannot be too long until this wave of momentum parlay into European, Australian and Asian acclaim- you wonder who can resist the allure and draw of such powerful (and evocative) music. I hope that The Tallest Tree have thoughts of an E.P.: it would be great to see the expansion and augmentation of their talents and sound exposed to some more luster and wonder. The rest of this year is going to see the duo perform gigs; interview and promote Boat- look to the future and what is holds. Capable of creating hypoxia and awed admiration; few other artists can evoke that same sort of reaction- it is clear The Tallest Tree are going to be growing and expanding in a very short time. No sooner have I absorbed (fully) the mesmerising and unshakable wonders of Reverend Moon- and his Dylan-esque parables of religion and dreams- than another Canadian treasure comes into view- you wonder just what sort of magical elixirs are put into the water there! As the thunder and lightning pervades- like a stroppy infant wanting food- I have been compelled to spin and let Boat absorb into my subconscious: a startling and fresh mission statement from one of the music world’s most intriguing and impassioned new acts. Before I let you all be, it would be incongruous to ignore one pressing subject: independent music and the most worthy acts. The Tallest Tree have gone to a lot of effort to ensure they get their name out there. Their official website is eye-catching and vibrant; informative and easy to navigate- they ensure that new listeners are treated to all the information and links (they demand). Our duo make sure that their music is as effective as possible. Mingling Garage charge and energy with simpler Folk beauty and restraint, they hustle the senses- put you in mind of some terrific legends whilst projecting an air of distinction and clear personality. The closeness of Armando and Dawn is what makes the duo such a phenomenal proposition- the love they have for one another is as solid and determined as their music. For those seeking out something different; challenging and unexpected; new and enlivening- check out this wonderful double act. Boat is the sound of musicians who want to…

MAKE your day that much better.


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Album Review: Reverend Moon- Coyote Gospels



Reverend Moon

 Coyote Gospels cover art

Coyote Gospels


 Coyote Gospels cover art

Coyote Gospels is available from:


Old Graves- 9.6/10

Reaper Man- 9.4

A Message For You- 9.5

Mary Says- 9.5

Satan, Hear My Song- 9.6

Drinking With Jesus- 9.7

Black Sun Rising- 9.5

Resurrection Day- 9.7

Deeper Down- 9.4

God Culture- 9.9

Singing The Blues- 9.7

God Don’t Love Us (Like The Devil Does)- 9.6

Apocalypso- 9.9


God Culture


Drinking With Jesus, Resurrection Day, God Culture, Singing The Blues, Apocalypso


11th August, 2014


Aracnidiscs Recordings





Experimental, Avant-Garde, Bluegrass, Psychedelia, Folk, Acoustic, Punk-Blues


Instilling the genius and emphatic leadership of early-career Dylan, Reverend Moon is a startling voice in music.  Having taken 20 years to complete; Coyote Gospels offers religious themes, twisted streets, animal rulership and distorted dreams- I dare you to find a more immediate and emphatic album in today’s music.


WHEN reviewing Australian Christian-Rock/Funk band The Updraft Imperative recently…

it seemed like there was a cartoon angel sitting on my shoulder. Guiding me to the lighter and more ecumenical side of life, I found myself becoming more enlightened and open- when reviewing their music. Not quite potent enough to convert my atheistic mind, I did at least gain some insight and wisdom; became fonder of Christian-Rock- more fascinated by Funk and hopelessly positive music. The band is gaining in stature; getting gigs and interviews through the U.K. and Australia- they are a name to watch carefully. That experience made me feel purer and more cleansed as a human being- today the cartoon devil sits on my right-hand shoulder. Waving away any spiritual and divine intervention, the pitchfork and studded hoof has gripped into my back- music with a darker flaming (inferno) heart has come to play. Before I unveil my featured act, I want to bring up one particular topic: the shadowy and more frightening side of music. In the current scene there is plenty of enticing and sweetly-uttered music; a number of acts that tread the lighter side of the street- ample music to uplift the heart and soothe fevered brows. Aside from Rock, Indie and Grunge bands, there is little of the flip side: sounds that have one eye in the gutter and one on a bottle of whiskey- something smoky and utterly compelling. This is especially true of genres like Folk and Bluegrass. Folk is- during 2014 at least- more synonymous with ethereal and romanticised movements- music that aims to entice rather than envelop. It is understandable that musicians- working in this genre- choose this path- if you frighten away your listeners, then it is pretty hard to come back. It is not to say that being unique and daring means dangerous and threatening- those that expand their ambitions (and sprinkle ashes into the melting pot) will always gain greatest plaudit. If you look at living legends such as Tom Waits: here is the example of a musician who offers cigarette-ravaged, whiskey-soaked growl- his enraptured and blitzkrieg burr has scored some of the most evocative and fascinated songs of all time. Wrapped up in that unmistakable and overpowering voice; tracks that proffer back alley losers, twisted lovers and corrupt governments reign: the U.S. master is adept at weaving phenomenal lyrics with full and strange compositions- backed by his ravaged and inflamed voice. There is little heretic and atheistic rebellion in Waits’ work: for the most part, he is the pastor of truth and knowledge- keen to guide disillusioned and confused voices towards a very comforting light. His messages may sound stark and foreboding- at times- but that is what great music should do- grab you by the scruff and makes you consider the world at large. Reverend Moon is hardly the voice of the Antichrist; nor is he the embodiment of Lucifer himself- not a twisted idol keen to push satanic themes and a proclivity-fuelled lifestyle. Mixing in religion and God; looking at faith and understanding, his music has an edge and sound that is hard to top- he mingles seedier and drunken scenes with pure reflection and consideration. Before I expand on my motives, I will introduce my featured act:

REVEREND MOON is Jakob Rehlinger of Toronto-based psychedelic space-rock band Moonwood and founder of the Arachnidiscs Recordings label. Over the past 20 years the Reverend has been slowly working on Coyote Gospels, an album of 13 songs of ersatz-praise and upside-down faith. The song cycle was born in the manger of university poetry workshops beginning in 1994. It grew into an awkward adolescence at the dawn of the millennium when Rehlinger suffered a nervous breakdown and was paid for his trouble in what he called several “dark prophecies” in the form of visions. These hallucinatory cosmic messages from beyond are recounted in the songs “A Message for You”, “Black Sun Rising” and “Old Graves” — wherein animals reclaim the Earth from humans. Since 2007 Rehlinger has been polishing these heretical-hymns and pseudo-psalms over several demo versions before setting out to record them in earnest beginning in 2012.”

It is not surprising that I find myself back in Canada: the country has been throwing some of music’s finest examples my way. Distinct and more ambitious than their U.S. neighbours, the nation is a veritable hotbed for creative wonder and diversity- from Punk-Rock and Folk, my mind has been nurtured by some phenomenal musicians. Reverend Moon’s compelling and made-for-the-big-screen background has a cinematic edge; an ember of classic literature- he seems like a Beat Generation hero making his way into music. With a personality and struggle few can comprehend or compete with; Rehlinger’s alter-ego is the sound of a vibrant and daring artist- providing a sound that is guaranteed to compel the mind. I shall move on in due course, yet need to mention a couple of different topics. Looking at Reverend Moon’s list of influences- I shall expand more on this with appropriate investigation- my eyes and mind were spiked. Drawing in the likes of Waits and Bob Dylan, you know- before you hear a note- a comparative husky and stirring voice will be elicited- lyrics that have intelligence and poetic potency; compositions with plenty of wonder; music that differs from the modern-day norm. Having been- over the last few weeks- involved with reviewing a lot of Indie, Folk and Pop bands- that have their very own styles- it is great to discover a North American treasure- a musician that draws in elements of ’60s and ’70s masters- with a very modern edge. Able to appeal and entrance multiple genres (and clans of fans), his songs look at mystical and spiritual realm; odd scenes and surreal dreams; incarnations and reincarnations- an evolutionary hegemony that sees animals taking over the world. Many may see these subjects akin to oddball antics- too detached and quirky to appeal to anyone- but the songbooks are filled with storybook wonder; fascinating and vivid scenes- new and distinct projections that are what the music world demands. If you look back at artists such as Captain Beefheart- for anyone under 40, take a look back at his back catalogue- you cannot deny how compelling and phenomenal his fever-dream and hazy psychedelia (captured your imagination)- with a voice as hypnotic as his, he is one of the most underrated acts of all-time. Music has too much conservatism and predictability: new acts do not stray too far from commercial ambitions- tending to ensure their records do not cause too much alienation. It is a real shame that acts such as Reverend Moon- theoretically; he is still making his mark- are relegated to niche and clandestine avenues- seen as alternative and unable to penetrate the mainstream. His distillation and cocktail mix of harsh life experience and spirituality (and religion) has been expounded and mastered by some of music’s most assured acts: from Dylan to (Leonard) Cohen; Neil Young to Beefheart; modern-day geniuses like Laura Marling- why are there so few current acts pushing the boundaries? Writing about love and personal relations is all admirable- it is the common experience everyone can relate to- introducing something more byzantine and reverent can go a long way- it makes songs richer, more fascinating and inspiring. Keen to differentiate himself from the musical masses; instill the same kind of wonder (the legends of old possessed)- Coyote Gospels is as intriguing and emotive as its title suggests.

Being the debut album from Reverend Moon, it is difficult to give an impression regarding development- how the artist has progressed over the years. The best thing to do is to compare- Coyote Gospels- with its author’s (Rehlinger) other projects. Being a member of groups Moonwood and Babel, the Canadian is one of the busiest and most diverse musicians in the country. Hexperience is Moonwood”s experimental highpoint- an album of improvisations and Krautrock cuts. Playing like a blissful acid trip, the album sees Captain Beefheart’s influence come in. Strange, beautiful and entrancing, the album is the most updated incarnation of the band- the peak of their combined powers. With compositions that have Prog.-Rock elements, it is a record that will appeal to fans of the genres- its fascinating sounds and collages will appeal to everyone. Filled with plenty of stunning moments, it is a break away from Reverend Moon’s Bluegrass/Folk offerings. Before then, Moonwood produced albums such as Trans Wasteland Express. This album is fuzzier and more ragged: containing red-hot Blues-Rock jams, it is less experimental; more concise and straightforward. None of the fascination and unique personality is lost. Jim’s Super Bee is a Hendrix-esque distorted mandate: echoing guitars and wailing notes marry Pink Floyd and Muse- it is a head-spinning jam that is impossible to shake. Dave’s Arrow is a determined and ragged swagger- fizzing and popping guitars make it a stand-out cut. Lizard Wizard has a different skin: more crawling and strange; the song is moody and haunted; dark and dangerous- showcasing another side to the band. Ghost Aberrations saw Jazz-infused and twisted horns come into songs like Freezone. With a mix of Charles Mingus and Kid A-era Radiohead, it (Freezone) is a dreamy and dizzying assault. The band stick in psychedelic and experimental territory; the album is more Jazz and Funk-inspired- Aubade is gentler and builds up; acoustic elements add serenity and haunt. The far-off vocals put me in mind of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon tenure- that trippy and sleep brilliance radiates through. One earlier album is Forest Ghosts. Giving early impressions into Rehlinger’s mind, it is an experimental gem. Dreamsnatchers is as evocative and delirious as the title suggests: sound samples and effects give the impression of disturbed sleep and bizarre dreams- the relentless force and eeriness get inside of your head and muddle your senses. No Past, No Future has a spectral and mordant sound: wailing and echoing cries see ghosts lurk in the woods- the creatures call and cry out for mercy. Reminding me of Yma Sumac- and her Voice of the Xtabay work- it fuses World, Mambo and Exotica threads. Moonwood is an avenue (Rehlinger can explore his experimental and far-out visions): Reverend Moon is more traditional and composed- Coyote Gospels showcases the same strong and unique vocals; the compositions vary greatly. Showcasing what a talent he is, you would not think that the same man was responsible for such a wide range of music. Like Jack White, Rehlinger is not contended to be in two acts- his third incarnation is as part of Babel. Similar to Moonwood, the band are concerned with Prog. and Experimental genres: this is emphasised in Rillingen‘s luster. Pink Floyd-esque guitars marry all shades of mood and thoughts: a heady and intoxicating blend of sound snatches, it is an epic work- one that tells so much with instruments alone. Earlier disc Zahlreiche sees the Hammerschlag series throw up huge intrigue. Hammerschalg.01 is dark and feline; creeping and contracting, it teases and hypntoises- injecting the sound of someone knocking on a door (it is a tense and shadowy work). Hammerschalg.03 recounts Asian avenues: samurai movie darkness showcases a song that could have featured in the Kill Bill trilogy- it is a track Tarantino would snap up. Perhaps with its eyes in horror films, it is dangerous and menacing; with softer moments it also provides some tenderness as well. Alphabeta is a more ‘traditional’ album in a sense: the song titles are less byzantine and weird; the compositions more Psychedelic and Blues-Rock- the sense of oddity and fascination is as high as ever. Caged is light and flowing; colourful and rushing- endlessly rushing, it has elements of Bjork’s happy and delirious Homogenic period. Dead is fuzzed and demented; robotic and rampaging- there is feedback of epic proportions. Bee is a continuous hum: an elongated and held note follows from demonised and demonically fast riffage- it is a track that has peculiarity and charm in equal measures. Given what Rehlinger has- and is still- created over the years, Coyote Gospels sees a different side to him. In a way, the album’s lyrics would fit perfectly in his other work: that same identity and mix of ethereal, spiritual and odd linger in his work. His voice seems more emotional and striking- in his current work- the compositions are more restrained but less divisive- more likely to draw in a larger number of supporters and listeners. Showcasing a huge songwriting talent, there is a definite sense of development: the work on his latest offering is as result of fastidious and impassioned hard work- it is more concrete, deep and compelling than anything he has ever created- the finest and stronger album he has produced.

When looking at similar acts, there are a few names that I can introduce. Beck may seem like a peculiar first port of call. The maverick experimentalist is renowned for his shifting sounds; that sense of pioneering spirit and restless innovation- the mutation from albums like Odelay and Morning Phase is incredible. Rehlinger’s creative brain is never contented to stick with one theme or sonic idea: like Beck, the Canadian understands the importance of mixing sounds and ideas. Perhaps more befitting of his side projects, the same glorious mixture of moods and scenes come to play. Even more experimental and psychedelic than Beck, Rehlinger’s music sees odd and unexpected sounds unite in a glorious and multifarious way- tapestries that are deep and filled with odd avenues. Part of Led Zeppelin‘s album Led Zeppelin III can be seen- within Coyote Gospels. When you look at that album’s most stirring and rousing Acoustic-Blues themes, you can see a bit of that (in Reverend Moon). Able to unveil stomp and feet-tapping jams, Coyote Gospels has plenty of early-’70s glory: you could imagine Plant and Page loving Reverend Moon. Not as overly bombastic as the legends of Rock, Coyote Gospel does contain that Zeppelin-esque mingling of Bluegrass, Folk, Acoustic and anthemic punch. Another- perhaps minor influence- I can incorporate is Neil Young. The fellow Canadian is a rightful legend: one of the most astute, impressive and staggering songwriters ever; his songs are as influential and mesmeric than any ever produced. I mention Young because of his Country sound. Reverend Moon reminds me of Young’s Harvest/Time Fades Away period. Although Time Fades Away is the representation of the zeitgeist of ’70s America, its mix of bad karma and electric attack. Like Dylan mutating- from acoustic guitar to electric- this album marked a sonic shift: the mingling of pessimistic coda and slice-of-life truths did not resonate with critics when released- it is an album that has gained acclaim and paen decades later. Coyote Gospels is equally bare and open- an album that is emotional and honest as anything out there. In the same way Young funnelled anger and rage into his palette; distanced himself from his early work- here, Rehlinger offers a sonic gem that is a step away from his Moonwood and Babel life. Continuing down the Country road, Johnny Cash is another name- that comes to my mind. Although Cash’s voice is deeper and more velvet (than Reverend Moon) his authoritative and spellbinding stomp can be seen (in Coyote Gospels). Cash’s works American IV: The Man Comes Around and America III: Solitary Man are his latter-day diamonds: mixing theological and religious messages (with introspective and heart-aching confessions), they are albums that demand deep investigation. Coyote Gospels has a comparable mixture of spiritual and ecumenical longing and consideration; personal confessions and reverence- that inimitable blend of direct and detached. Backed by tantilisingly dark and shadowy guitar chords, Cash’s black night oeuvres find themselves incarnated in Rehlinger’s current spirit. In so much as I am reminded of Nick Drake‘s Pink Moon regency- when listening to Coyote Gospels- you can find that same gentle and late night performance. Drake recorded his masterpiece over the course of a night: wracked and possessed by depression, it is a wonder it was recorded at all- the beauty and phenomenal songs that were offered are a remarkable achievement. Reverend Moon does not have that same anxious and deathly submission; the biggest comparisons come when the songs become lighter and more melodic- you can hear some of Drake’s expert finer-picking within Coyote‘s thirteen tracks. The Acoustic-cum-Folk beauty has made an impression on Reverend Moon: he blends that essence and strength in his album. One of the most obvious influences is Captain Beefheart. Having seen some of Beefheart’s lunatic and experimental brilliance (make its way into Moonwood and Babel’s cannon); Reverend Moon injects some into his debut album- the master’s early work has had an effect on him. If you look at Lick My Decals Off, Baby: that work is a refined and deep album; surreal wordplay, jagged rhythms and fervent imagination mandates that work- our Canadian hero incorporates some of the album’s stripes. Coyote Gospels has some bizarre and trippy moments; hugely imaginative and storybook themes- tied with some compelling and unexpected riffs, signature and compositions- you can hear a hint of the 1970 classic. With some of the eccentric prowess of (his finest work) Trout Mask Replica, Reverend Moon instills some of that Avant-Garde and Blues-Rock colour- there are comparisons one can make. Singalong moments, atonal melodies and jagged (and intricate) guitar parts mingle with detached complexity and disjointed surrealism. Reverend Moon’s album is less disjointed and random- his songs are more cohesive and flowing. He does instill that same adventurousness and passion: his surreal and unique poetry has elements of Trout Mask Replica’s unique and striking identity- fusing the same sort of considerations and themes. Tom Waits is an artist that has had a bearing on Reverend Moon. When songs look at God, the Devil and intoxication; you get lingers of Waits’ Mule Variations- back-streets Blues-Rock and Bluegrass ran riot in that album. Blood Money (released in 2002) sees religious imagery and tales come into play: God’s Away on Business looks at abandonment and the reliability (and truth) of religion. More elegant, refined and structured- than early work- the album’s dark and spiked tongue introduced warped characters and dialectic aphorisms- his wordplay and musical innovation reached unparalleled heights. Reverend Moon incorporates theatrical and unique stories into his work: evil and heart-aching miniatures; spiritual and poetic paens and caricatures spar with bleak, funny and unexpected contradictions- the same richness and diversity (in Blood Money) can be seen on Coyote Gospels. On Apocalypso (Coyote Gospels‘ closer) you get a real feeling of Bad As Me: that hard and pugnacious swagger; the biblical and crunching riffs; twisted and contorted sounds- you hear lingers of the title track, Satisfaction and Hell Broke Luce (sic.) here. I shall save the biggest influence for last: Bob Dylan. Rehlinger’s voice is unmistakably enforced by the U.S. legend. That same tone and sound resonates throughout: the aged and mature croon; that impassioned and distinct delivery- there is no copycatting; our hero presents his own version of events. The vocal and compositions are perhaps the most obvious comparisons- when it comes to lyrics, the two artists differ slightly. When Dylan became born-again, he explored his faith in Saved and Slow Train Coming. Whilst extolling the virtues of Christianity and God, they contained some of Dylan’s most assured and fascinating songs- the mix of religious and spiritual images was backed with deep and consistently brilliant compositions. The albums acted as exorcism, release and tribute: Dylan was renewed and inspired; keen to pay tribute to a new lease of life. Reverend Moon finds inspiration in dark visions and religious quarters: while less concerned with sermonising and protesting, it does share similarities with Dylan’s mid-career masterpiece. When Oh Mercy (released 1989) saw Dylan reconnecting with his past, critics were impressed by the arty and refined production- it was atmospheric without being unsympathetic. Reverend Moon connects with his youth, past indiscretions and harder times. Whereas the voice and compositions may put you in mind of Dylan, Coyote Gospels cannot be compared with any Dylan album too directly- in terms of themes and subject matter. It is best you judge the album on its own terms: Reverend Moon is very much his own artist, and someone who you cannot readily link to anyone else.

Old Grave begins life with springing and spiraling strings: teasing a tempting line of riparian notes, it is a spirited and upbeat start. The song looks at animals overthrowing the human population. Rehlinger’s Dylan-esque smokiness adds huge evocativeness and emotional weight to the song’s surreal and apocalyptic images. In the midst of a revolution and new order, the human population are being held down whilst they sleep; dogs and cats are pining them and physically dominating- the images one projects are quite vivid and strange, believe me. Creatures and animals are “coming down from the trees“; the animalisitc plague is infesting the towns and streets- teeth sharpened and eyes blank, there is nothing that can be done. A percussionary smash (tambourine) adds atmospheric punctuation; the endlessly swelling and persistent guitar contortion keeps the momentum flowing; the mood is edgy and urgent- enforcing the scary and foreboding forecasts. Terrified and anxious- of imminent death- our hero’s voice seems nervy and edgy: you can feel the walls closing in bit by bit. The raccoons and tree-dwellers unite with cats and dogs; balkanized against mankind, the animals first eat the “hoes and hobos“- feasting on their flesh, they go for the weakest and lowest- making their way across the street. As the rats join with the crows, the duel guitar lines- reminding me of Captain Beefheart’s most compelling compositions- increases the tension and palpable sense of destruction. Employing embers of Bob Dylan’s The Freewheelin‘- and nightmarish visions such as A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall- you are swept up in the bizarre and fascinting tale. Rabbits sit beneath shady trees; sharpening their teeths with “rusty screws” our man sings the blues- like the Titanic going down, there is nothing that can be done but play; just hope for a swift and merciful end. Judging by the engorged junkies and flesh-picked promiscuousness, there is no escape or logical end- the animals are teasing and tempting fate. Cougars ride the back of bears; the mountains are bare of their carnivorous dwellers. Our hero wants the asphalt stripped from the road and the children stuck “in a zoo“- whether representing animal enslavement or a safe haven, you feel that reality and logical fallacy has transposed things: luckily it is dreams that are being foretold- not a coming judgement day. With mouldy bones lying around; dogs “all dug from old graves“, it is a stunning and scintillating opening number- one of the most impressive starts to an album I have heard. A swaying and heel-kicking rouse brings Reaper Man into the frame. With the vocal less rushed and urgent as before, our hero takes his time and projects his words: early thoughts say “It’s not hard to read the signs/Written in neon lights.” Selling your cash for gold, prophesies are lighting up the sky- you get the feeling Reverend Moon is rallying against corporatism and modern-day consumerism; the way the world is transforming and mutating. Professing that “the end is nigh” there is the sense of a pastor preaching to the flock: warning them to renounce the proclivities of the street, the direction and passion in the vocal- and composition- cannot be denied. The reasons this is occurring; why things are unravelling is because of who you are (and where you have been)- our hero advises to clap your hands and “stomp your feet.” Howling and rapturous guitar parables interject doom-laden and end-of-the-world musings- no matter what happens, the morning will signal the apocalypse. Razor wire squalls underpin tales of Judas and Jesus; a “house in the sky” and having fun- biblical treachery and teachable moments are dispensed around a sonic whirlpool of suffocation. The bellicose chant gets stronger as the song nears its end- limbs are tumbling and our hero wants to fly; with the dawn light near, escape is on his mind- perhaps there will be no chance of survival. Ending with a psychedelic and rampaging guitar myriad, the song ends with an appropriately epic flourish- another prophecy-laden and haunting number has been unleashed. Seeking some type of cleansing and (brief) relief, A Message For You has a hopeful title. The sapling moments see lighter- but bouncy- guitar whip up a buoyant and dancing mood: our hero is determined to get his words across as potently as possible. With unmistakable embers of you-know-who enforcing the vocal delivery, you stand to attention- enraptured in that familiarity; impressed by Reverend Moon’s pressing and phenomenal sound. Not sure (if his subject will hear him), our hero has a message: not knowing what it means; it is perfectly clear. There is a sense of ambiguity and obliqueness early on: the anonymous and vague message can be blown in smoke signals; written down- its truth and clarity has not come to light. Whether a guiding light or an elemental truth, the ‘message’ seems a pertinent and relevant one- something that is backed by an atmospheric and energised backing composition. The determined and one-dimensional thought keeps pressing- “there’s only one word.” No one has heard this “joke” before; it is a byzantine and inscrutable mistress (you are keen to undress)- and see its true beauty revealed. Having not appeared on TV or radio, the mystery and fascination grows: in my mind, so many images came to the fore; perhaps a religious truth is being explored- our authour keeps his cards close to his chest. That taut and hypnotised composition expands past the half-way mark: introducing Bluegrass twang and Country kicks, it is rousing and swelling. Like Chinese whispers, the message is being passed around from person to person: more and more you believe that some ecumenical assignation or invocation is being represented- something clairvoyant or spiritual? Such a tantalising and curious song, each listener will have their own views and interpretations- only Reverend Moon know the real truth. Boinging and echoed acoustic strings mix with hand-claps; Johnny Cash-cum-Tom Waits scintillation and darkness presents itself- Mary Says boasts an intriguing and purposeful birth. Taking its mind into religious avenues- with vocals multi-tracked- we look at Mary and the baby Jesus- “everyone knows” that the baby is Joe’s. Attesting there is no God; they are trying to trick you into “playing nice.” The sense that by thinking someone is watching over you, makes you scared to act human or wrong- every movement and thought is carefully choreographed and planned. Mary has heard the prayers and praise; they have got it all wrong- the evocative and striking words get your mind working overtime. Transporting yourself into biblical scenes, the issue of reality and omnipresence is investigated: there is nobody upstairs “pulling the strings.” Few songs have trodden these themes with such an original and unexpected essence- Reverend Moon’s gift for words and story makes Mary Says a fascinating and compelling song. No one cares about the truth- that a higher order is controlling events- so “you might as well sing“- nobody is listening. A feeling of loneliness and uncertainty mixes with the nature of reality and religion. Mary is a meek and real figure: not a spiritual magician, she never turned water to wine; rose from the dead or amassed a vast kingdom- her life and situation is genuine and humble. There is a great modernity and relevance in the song. A lot of people have to struggle and deal with the limitations of life and reality: God is the antithesis of this; he is being praised without having to have endure hardship and pain. Our hero is keen to point out (that nobody is watching); you can dance and try to impress- all you are doing is projecting to an endless infinity; eternal nothingness- no spirit in the sky. From stories of God’s existence, we progress to Satan, Hear My Song. A light and gentle guitar introduction may act as a red herring- for those looking for a soothed and sensual Folk ballad may come away slightly short-changed. Subverting expectation and predictability, hints of Pink Moon Nick Drake come out. The song looks at issues (as proclivious and nonsensical) as fame and fortune. If you want to be famous, all you gotta do is “say his name“- call out and strike a deal with Nosferatu. Initial impressions lead me to believe our hero is rallying against fame-chasers and the desperately shallow- the lack of empathy in his voice certainty takes my mind that way. Morality, effort and purity are examined: our man has lived a good life- it is taking too long to get to heaven- and doesn’t think “I can make it old“- Satan will need to take his soul. The one-stop shop for the needy and tired, the dark prince is the confidante of weary souls and disaffected dreamers- any willing to forsake eternal happiness are welcomed forth. Past the 0:50 mark, the album’s most urgent and electrifying moment is elicited: a ragged and buzzing electric guitar swarm adds menace and power to the song- it fuzzes and rampages with psychedelic luster. Backed by stomping percussion, our hero’s voice entwines and contorts; layers are brought in to emphasise the sense of confusion, helplessness and compromise. Heaven is not worth the wait; there is no guarantee to be found- the sorry state of the world is always likely to cause people not to hold onto something so far-fetched. Our hero looks at the selfishness and ruination of modern youth: they steal from the future; raping the land of anything good or lasting, nothing will be left- when the meek inherit the earth. Looking at the digital age and the unconcerned public, everything is being squandered and digitalised- the good is being overlooked and a hollow and barren world is being left. Squelching and hornet guitars make the point emphatically: our hero is ready to end the strife; Satan can have his soul if he can make things better- perhaps he just wants out altogether. After parabonding with Satan, Drinking With Jesus seems to promise a flip-side. A similarly ebullient opening gets the song to life; our hero’s voice is more Country-fied and matured here- not meaning to brag or boast, he is friends with the holy ghost. Drinking his “wine-coloured blood” Satan cannot drag him down- he has Jesus backing him up. Our hero never cried when his parents died; he seems detached and unemotional- the suicidal background gives the song a haunting and disturbed twist. Making it look like a suicide, our man had a hand (in the death)- blithely unconcerned, he is untouchable. With an evil glint in his eyes, an eerie and crawling backing echo augments the terror and defiance- our hero is spiraling and damned be the consequences. Being thankful for what he has received, you sense the hero is speaking from the other side- maybe having got his comeuppance, he is reaping the rewards of eternal immunity. The epic story is the most evocative and detailed on the set: you follow the course of events and become fascinated by each development. After repenting sins and atoning, that wistful lack of concern gives the song a huge weight. When his parents were buried; the hounds of Hell released, the song’s hero was taken in- living a sheltered and disciplined life; punished and beaten in a strict and draconian school. With the central figure being found dead, our hero hit the road: unable to face the music, there is a dead girl in the trunk of his rusty car; “a lousy lay”, the wheels keep spinning- the untouchable and itinerant soul keeps pounding on. Packing the song with so many characters, scenes and twists, it is a stunning and brilliant track- a song that is an epic movie in itself. After dalliances with Jesus, Black Rising Sun cleans the slate: the uplifting and brief intro. spares no time in getting things underway. Taking us into his dreams’ landscapes, our hero saw “we’re all going to die.” In a rather bleak and frightening apparition, the mind once more errs towards apocalyptic themes. In this story, the “mother dies when the child is born“; child grows to be a man- “sells his seed and rapes the land.” With that black sun rising- a euphemism and metaphor for death and genocidal arrival- the disturbed and harsh landscape (of the song) gets inside of your brain. Ensuring that the song packs compositional clout- in addition to lyrical and vocal- a blood-rush coda snakes in: sparing no prisoners; Blues-infused and whiskey sour- a clattering chain gang rally, it is a striking sound. The portentous visions get through in under 2:30: after the epic nature of the previous number, it is a tight and focused track- that leaves you with plenty to think about. Resurrection Day perhaps offers no light and relief. On Easter, Jesus was laying “on his side“- we are back in the waters of biblical regard. Not keen to be resurrected, Jesus is lazily refusing- sullen and fatigued, there is another saviour “two doors down“- a charming and witty sentiment for sure. Wanting to pass the buck; bequeath his scars and responsibility, Jesus wants (the unnamed woman) to inherit the burden- the saviour is in a bad frame of mind. Keen to remonstrate; remind Jesus of the achievements gained- by the song’s subject- the exhausted messiah shows little interest- an exploding compositional burst ramps the song up. Jesus has moving on his mind: to destinations unknown, he wants to take in the world- almost ‘find himself’. With the highway ahead, the hirsute figure sees a world out there- cars, planes and modernity are all waiting to be seen. The crunching, catchy and stomping composition makes sure everything resonates and sticks: whether reinterpreting biblical passages or investigating modern-day responsibility and strife, it is a phenomenally fascinating number- showcasing Reverend Moon’s full potential. Deeper Down continues where the previous number left off: that insatiable and rousing kick welcomes the track in. Looking at rebirth and new life; the dying grass gives way to a “brand-new lawn.” With a distorted and grumbling backing vocal- injecting some Captain Beefheart-esque oddity- our hero looks at digging deeper down- to find something new- recycled and cliché jokes have all been told; all prayers have been exhausted- all plays have been played. There is a sense of weariness and exhaustion- everything new has been used and over-used; if you want to discover something rare and unique, you need to dig deep- the messages and lyrics can be applied to multiple situations. Perhaps musicians are not being ambitious enough; not breaking ground and making waves- if they open their mind and expand, then they can achieve clarity and uniqueness. Maybe human beings seem stifled and boring- if you want to make a change, you can do so. God Culture has a funky and intriguing opening- after some skipping strings, a low and echoed voice comes to narrate. Telling a story “2,000 years old“; the New Age girl met an older man- we all know what is being revealed. Not having a say (in what happens), the seed was planted in her soil- a witty and a little dirty, it is a stand-out thought. With a vocal that marries Beefheart’s legendary and dark croon with Johnny Cash’s velvet tones, you are hooked into proceedings. Unable to escape, Mary is trapped and confused: no immaculate conception, something darker and more violent is at heart- a seedy and unsanitary underbelly is being pulled apart. Avant-garde and crunching riffs give the song a dizzying and hypnotic feel- the track has psychedelic swathes that pulls your mind and brain in different directions. If what is in the Bible is true- the conception was immaculate; it was done right- then the truth is “some virgin’s getting raped, each and every night.” Keen to uncover the flaws in religion; uncover the plain truths and realities, the track highlights a religion that celebrates “predators and vultures.” Aside from discrimination, horrors and inequities (Christianity espouses), we are now through the Looking-Glass- Reverend Moon’s darkest fable is being told; the dark and determined voice is pouring out. Whether this is deliberate- using a different vocal sound to detach himself from the subject- or a character, you can feel the sense of hatred and anger come out- it puts me in mind of Tom Waits’ distinct and determined growl. Mixing Waits, Beefheart and Cash into a raging cauldron of judgement and hell; no one cares what happens behind closed doors- “boys will be boys” and girls will be “drunken whores.” Drinking with Jesus strikes you with its detail, length and story- God Culture overwhelms you with its brevity and effectiveness. Two contrasting sides of dark themes, I was staggered that any song could top Drinking’- it just did. Belching, groaning and drunkenly swaggering, the song is a psychotropic is an unforgettable and direct missile- it will be hard to lodge it from your consciousness. Well enmeshed into the final third, Singing The Blues arrives next- it is a lighter and unexpected turn. Our hero’s voice is relaxed and romantic: with a sweetness, he is backed by a gentle and swaying guitar. People have been signing the blues for years; since people been singing, “brothers been singing the blues“- sisters too. Stating that these people would rather be happy, it is said they don’t get to choose- the melody and vocal delivery is one of the most impressive and stirring so far. Letting his words gently sway; the song’s distinctly emotive resonance and projection makes the lyrics stand out. A subtle and tender number, our hero turns in his most emotive vocal. Looking at the father than uses all his crops; the young man “gunned down by the cops“- mothers have been singing the blues all these years. Haunting and still, you sit and let the words take you in- it is a stunning and spine-tingling song. When God Don’t Love Us (Like The Devil Does) arrives, you need a moment to clear your head- having witnessed so much; been initiated to some truly divine offerings, you wonder what could possibly come next. Deranged and pulverising beginnings give you no room for doubt- here is another kick-ass and urgent slice. Fuzzed, distorted and panicked, the compositions rushes and runs; Beefheart brilliance lingers- another song decrying the gift of God has arrived. He waits until we are in our graves- to speak to us; offer a home- when we die and are reduced to ashes; if God won’t take us “the Devil must.” After the plain-speaking and recidivism that lingered (in God Culture), our hero employs more scepticism and disillusioned truth- why would a loving God not protect us during life; only rewards us after death? The ecstatic and yelling compositional bursts add urgency and spike to events- there are a lot of people buried underground; you wonder whether they could possibly have transcended to Heaven? If God is not there- unwilling to embrace the departed- the only way is down: the Devil has a warm and fiery shelter. The message conveys a sense of harsh truth: we still have rape and war; pain and hunger- in spite of what you believe, these things go on without intervention or retribution. The reality is that “sex and drugs are all we got“- a religion with nothing but truth (and uplifting) and redemptive potential. The Devil provides contraband goodness; sexualised pleasures and temptation- all the richness and satisfaction one could hope for. Flip it against wars, terrorism, pillage and famine- are we making the right choice? Whether saying that faith- is at best- a zero-sum game; or that it is best to not pin your hopes on salvation- the song certainty wins you over. Leading us nicely into the finale, it is a tight, muscular and rebellious mandate- with a beating heart of heretical Rock ‘n’ Roll. Drawing in the most demonic and whiskey-inflamed moments of Tom Waits, the primal and terrifying Apocalypso arrives. The next door girl is introduced; with a myriad of images coming to play- foreskins, sex-smelling objects, toenails (and all manner of lasciviousness) the song has a staunch and unforgettable lust. That Beefheart-esuqe vocal- that synonymised God Culture- is the arbiter of downfall and disease; recklessly preaching about seedier avenues and twisted scenes. In this place, the TV screen’s static is a “perpetual motion machine“- the entranced and overwrought guitar wail gives the lyrics a distinct and alcoholic kick. In an Alice in Wonderland-esque delirium, the world is crumbling; the walls are flying- we are taken to San Francisco where a whore “warms the room“- the Beat Generation and beatnik hero pounds the sidewalk; ensconced by “Kamikaze moths” and the peculiar vibrancy of the surrounding. Whether the result of an acid trip; the psychedelic and Salvador Dali-esque portraits seem like the fevered last moments of the world- the apocalypse is nigh; destruction is close. Underground clubs, grunge and blind swagger are introduced (by that hypnotic and preacher voice)- with all the potency and darkness you could imagine; the howl of sex rolls with the rumble of beasts- what magic was created when they “split the atom“? The stream-of-consciousness outpouring look at city streets with “diamond dogs“; prophesying nut-jobs and roaring engines- mangers of straw and whores seem commonplace and quintessential. Religious proclivity and sexual twists conspire with crying men and broken souls; Mary’s breasts and God’s images are presented- trippy and distorted sights rampage. Country, Blues, Bluegrass and Psychedelia conspire in an epic and grandstanding finale- one of the most haunting and effecting songs you are likely to hear. In the final moments, an echoed and elongated vocal mixes with eerie calm; introducing lines from Singing The Blues, the crawled and slow-paced vocal is a wonderful and unexpected moment- you feel a sense of shiver as the song ends. After such a raw and visceral experience, you lose your breath- glad that you can reflect and escape the potency of proceedings.

It seems that every time an album arrives, the game is stepped up: something unbeatable comes along- new music is breeding some phenomenal and amazing works. Reverend Moon has released one of the most immediate and essential albums of this year- a few of the numbers are among the finest I have heard all year. Some of the numbers may put you in mind of Dylan; that is no bad thing- there is no intention to mimic or overthrow the master. What Coyote Gospels does is to instill some of Dylan’s particular moments- the anger and apocalypse of his early work; his Christianity works towards the ’80s; some of his latter-day wonder- around songs that cover a spectrum of subjects- religious truths, Satan and God; strange and weird dreams; dangerous street scenes etc. With the exception of a couple of songs (Drinking with Jesus and Apocalypso particularly) the numbers are short and concise- they get to the point and say their piece with regard for economy and brevity. The longer tracks are some of the best- Drinking With Jesus is an insanely gripping and memorable story; something destined for the big screen- a song you will be quoting endlessly. Looking at murderous avenues and disreputable evil, it grips you and haunts your soul- how many other tracks can do that? Apocalypso is the album’s intense and mesmeric swan-song: haunting and dark vocals; phenomenal and vivid scenes; beautiful unpredictability and diversions- it is the distillation of all of the album’s themes and sounds. Not everything here is heretical and anti-religion: there is positivity and spirituality to be found; the messages rally against the pitfalls and realities of Christian teachings- pointing out the shortfalls and ironies. The songs are all original and distinctly unique: no other act has presented 13 songs that sounds and play like this- I sure as hell hope that another album is coming. Like his countryman legends Neil Young and Leonard Cohen; Reverend Moon mixes an evocative and stirring voice with intelligent and witty songs- that explore love, life and religion. The early numbers- that look at animal uprising and overthrowing- are quirky and stunningly strange; unlike anything I have heard, they are filled with wonderful images. When proceedings look at death, religion and questioning; the album becomes profound and investigative- some of the most pertinent and stand-out lyrics are elicited. When that undeniably strange and Beefheart-y voice comes to play: not only are we treated to some of the legend’s eccentric and brilliant oddity shines, but the album’s finest tracks are unveiled- God Culture is one of the most direct and unforgettable songs I have been treated to for a long while. Having investigated Rehlinger’s other works, it is stunning to see the development and difference- not keen to repeat himself, this is a much more focused, muscular and impressive work. The master of sonic innovation and intrigue, there is no a flat moment or insincere thought on Coyote Gospels- it is as dangerous, imperious and wonderful as the title itself. Before I investigate Reverend Moon in closer detail, I will sum up the album- as best I can. It instills the spirits of Dylan, Young and Cohen- the masters of the ’60s and ’70s Folk movement- and rustles up comparatively deep and spellbinding songs. The sights of visions and dreams has psychedelic edges- Beefheart and Frank Zappa- and give you an insight into our hero’s haunted mind. Plenty of beauty and restraint shows its pride: Singing The Blues is a gentle and mellifluous beauty (with some unforgettable lyrics to boot). You see the tracks whizz by; the music is so fast and potent- you want to replay scenes and songs over and over. That mix of weight and huge epic grandeur is counterbalanced with some introspective and ghostly moments- the mixture is a heady and incredible fusion. Reverend Moon is a name that you need to follow now: I hope that a Facebook and Twitter account does come- give fans a chance to connect with one of music’s most potent and important warriors. Having an air of mystique and detachment, the songs have an extra layer of curiosity and meaning- you fill in the biography and details as you go along. Perhaps wanting to ensure the music does not get buried with the shallowness and unimportance of social media and ‘likes’, a rare bird has flown: one that wants the music to say everything that is needed. It would be terrific to see more work from Rehlinger; knowing that Coyote Gospels is the result of 20 years of hard graft- we may way a little longer. His voice is that which instantly grabs and mesmerises: imbued with the flair of Dylan’s croon and gravel, it has passion, energy and force to it- mobile enough to fit into a variety of scenarios and pieces. Displaying more flexibility than Dylan, so many colours and layers are evoked- making each song filled with life and meaning. The songwriting shows a clear amount of hard work and discipline. You can tell the songs aren’t tossed-off and hurried: the detail and quality of each track could only come from a writer that wants to make sure everything is as good as it could be. So many new acts are under pressure- the public want music as soon as possible- that disposability and short attention-spans have taken over- when albums like Coyote Gospels arrive, it should change people’s way of thinking. Swaggering, alluring and bomb-blast Blues compositions sit with Bluegrass rushes; Folk beauty and stillness; deranged and unsettled Psychedelia- nothing is scattershot or fragmented; it is solid and rounded. The exceptional production values bolster the vocals and compositions: everything is clear and atmospheric; no chance for misinterpretation or slenderness, the music is given proper room to shine. I was not expecting to witness an artist like Reverend Moon- I am so glad that I did. Not only am I going to be replaying the album- until Doomsday- but have been inspired to write myself. Some of the cuts provided are strong and emphatic enough to get the mind racing; compel the pen to scribble and dream- if an act can do that, then you cannot fault them. If you have not heard the splendors and brilliance of Canada’s hardest working musician- ensure that you check it out in its complete beauty.

In addition to having been introduced to something special and unique; Reverend Moon is an artist that deserves a wide and hungry audience. Having worked so tirelessly on Coyote Gospels, the time and effort has truly paid off- it is one of the most deep and emotional albums available. With a voice that mixes wisdom, maturity; passion, fear and strength it is an instrument that makes every song rich and fascinating- the weight and urgency that is directed at the listener means the tracks grip onto your brain. The songbook is full with myriad themes and sights: personal heartache and confessions; religious images and tableaux; death and mortality; bonding with Jesus and the Devil- how many other albums can you find these particular blends? That is not to say that Coyote Gospels is a heavy and angry work- the testament of a man rallying against the world and finding answers in detached realms. Reverend Moon has had a hard road to where he is now; struggled and encountered plenty of pain- his L.P.’s thirteen tracks are the writings of a human being with a distinct and intelligent musical mind. Never projecting a suffocating or smothered sensation, the music is rich and emotive; filled with plenty of light and open moments, it is the sort of album that everyone should investigate- embers of some of the ’60s finest records come to mind. With the current scene being filled with so much empty and stupefying inconsequentialness, the artists that matter most- providers of the finest music around- are not getting as much recognition and safety as they deserve- something needs to happen to ensure they do not suffer or die away. Canada is at the forefront of something quite astounding: an underrated and overlooked avenue for music, the nation is showcasing some of the world’s finest and more confounding musicians. Housing a rich and rewarding music economy- which promises rewarding links and bonds- the country is giving more than it is taking- providing the world with some truly astonishing sounds. Whereas bands- Canadian artists- like The Dirty Nil and JEEN have their own distinct and exhilarating sound, Reverend Moon stands out from the contemporaries- it is incredibly hard to compare Coyote Gospels to much else out there. Rehlinger’s mixture of heretical hymns and apocalyptic epics is a breath of fresh air for music- anything that provides such an original and unexpected reaction should be subject to mass appeal and regard. I hope that the Canadian manages to see his special blend of song translate across the ocean (to arrive in the U.K.)- there is such a gap in the market that we need more acts like him. Europe and Britain have very few artists that summon a comparable wonder- make sure you do not overlook Reverend Moon’s magnum opus. Building and being developed over the last 20 years, you would imagine his album would be over-rehearsed and overdone- what comes through is a body of work that sounds fresh, alive and of-the-moment. Being involved with Toronto Psychedelic/Space-Rock band Moonwood; Rehlinger has built a reputation throughout Canada- few people may be familiar with him in the U.K. Reverend Moon remains a little bit of an enigma- familiar and seen (in his alter-ego projects of Moonwood and Babel), the mysterious icon projects his essence and personality through his music. This review contains fewer photos and links than you may be used to; the music is the most important thing on offer, but you wonder whether Rehlinger will give the world some Facebook/Twitter insight. Coyote Gospels is an album that hits you in a number of ways: it compels you with its fascinating sounds and stories; it also makes you want to know more about the hero. Coming across as a stunningly curious figure, it would be good to think Rehlinger will bring his pastor to the U.K.- entrance and seduce the London audiences; bring his intoxicating musical potions to our stiff upper lips. Being secluded from such cosmic and spiritual scenes; trapped inside a more conservative sonic world, Reverend Moon provides a cherry bomb of heady scents and phenomenal stories. Capable of attracting lovers of Dylan, Beefheart and Cohen- the Canadian is going to hit a lot of hearts and minds. I hope that his next L.P. comes along sooner (than 20 years); that some more material comes from our hero- in the next couple of years. An itinerant and ambitious musician, Rehlinger has his creative mind in a number of places- it does not lead to diffuse attention or reduced quality. All of his creations are different and powerful- I would love to see a follow-up to Coyote Gospels. With music proffering so many false idols; beholding weak and uninspired leaders- we all need some guidance. Reverend Moon has overcome a great deal; able to instill it into some layered and fascinting music, they are tales designed to inspire the unconverted. With no boundaries, secular limitations or rigid rules, they are songs…

EVERYONE can believe in.


About the Author:


Jakob Rehlinger’s other projects/music can be found at:









E.P. Review: Lightknife- Bad in Love





Bad in Love


Bad in Love is available from:


I Want You Back- 9.2/10

I’m in Love- 9.2

Heavy Heart- 9.3

Black Magic- 9.4


Black Magic


23rd June, 2014

℗ 2014 Lightknife


Pop, Electro.-Pop, Alternative, Trip-Hop, Trance


The Cornwall trio’s (spoonerism nomme de guerre) shows what a mixture and sense of style lingers within Bad in Love. Lightknife unveil a four-track cut to uplift the soul; get the dancefloors blazing- cause superfacient delight and mesmerisation- they are on the precipice of an exciting eve- a name you should watch closely in 2015. On the basis of the band’s current evidence, this summer-defining E.P. should be spun on every stereo.


FEW people take the trouble to open their eyes…

and take a look around them. In the age we are in, eyes are cast down (and rarely make contact). Every street you walk down; you can be guaranteed that hordes of people are texting- whilst moving- without looking up- you have to jump out of their way to avoid knocking them over. Most people’s eyes are covered by sunglasses; keen to avoid human contact, the sense of detachment and impersonality is growing- humans are turning into machines by the day. It is sorrowful when technology and Internet relations take the place of real contact and life- generations are getting sucked into machines and social media; bereft of the need to forge personal bonds. It is sad that this trend is extending into the music world: a great deal of new sounds tend to cast their gaze downwards- less personality and openness is showing itself in modern music. Whether rebelling against a sense of loneliness; a feeling of anger of resentment- too many musicians are pushing themselves away from the public. When bands and acts come along- that project cheerier and more open sounds- they should be embraced and celebrated. Sometimes upbeat and energised can equate to twee and annoying- it is a difficult balance to hit upon. I am not suggesting acts need to engulf their songs in washes of electronics, samples and vocal layers- hoping that force and relentlessness leads to pure elliptical joy- that can often come across as cloying and overly-eager. A lot of modern Pop suffers because of this; a great deal of songs are threadbare and minor- the compositions, vocals and lyrics are not strong enough to bond disparate bands of music worshipers. If you consider mainstream Pop and the examples on offer: how many artists do you relate and listen to? Personally, I find that very few- modern Pop acts- really strike a chord. There is just something missing from their artistry and attack. If you have a grand voice and sense of adventure, then you can avoid some of the Pop folly pitfalls- few current artists are capable of sticking in the consciousness. A lot of times the music they play is aimed at the young and pre-teen audience- those that do not possess a huge music knowledge; are distracted by shiny and hollow things; not mature and smart enough to embrace ‘real’ music. The genre is always going to pervade and grow- shameful as it is- because there is a market out there. It is true that this type of music pulls the listener in- and does not hide- yet the most effective form of the genre is Electro.-Pop and Alternative. These sub-genres are cultures that are breeding some of music’s most exciting and promising acts. If you hear the reception the likes of Foxes and NoNoNo- both female acts- have garnered, it is enough to make you blush. Their music- and albums- are chocked full of inspiring and summer-ready codas; insatiable and deliriously catchy songs- they contain plenty of heart and emotion. Electro.-Pop is not just synonymous with rush and movement- intelligence, depth and sensitivity bring as much to the party as emphatically-charged swagger. Before I delve into this subject in a bit more depth, let me introduce my featured act:

Rosie Vanier

Lee ‘Pixie’ Matthews

Bubs Taylor

It’s ready to go and boy has it been worth the wait. Rosie Vanier’s new electro pop project Lightknife is kicking off, bringing a vocal spectrum which ranges from sugar-plum fairy to the attitude of ESG. Rosie brings an energy to the stage which is sure to get the crowd moving. Her space age synth combined with the deep rich bass lines and pounding drum beats from bassist Pixie and drummer Bubs Taylor, the trio create a buzz and an atmosphere which will hook you in an instant. New songs, a fresh energy and the release of their Debut E.P. Bad In Love, this is a band you will want to follow. Come have a dance, tell your friends and find out where they’ll be popping up next.

London Grammar and La Roux are two of this country’s finest Pop and Electro.-Pop acts. The reason they are so lauded is because of their mixtures of emotion and fun. London Grammar’s album If You Wait showcased Hannah Reid’s amazing and distinct voice; eleven tracks that demonstrated what a force they are. Each number is packed with mesmerising electronics and samples; vivid and emotional stories; incredibly evocative swathes of light and lust- the songs perhaps have more emotion than you would expect; everything is kept compelling due to Reid’s staggering pipes. La Roux has just unveiled Trouble in Paradise- showing why the genre is such a potent and important style of music. Critics have been raving about the self-assured nature of the album; how mature and fantastic the songwriting is- elevating diary scribbling into an elegant and high art-form. The album is filled with incredible tracks; emotive singing contrasts with tight and solid electronics- there is tragedy and pain to be found, yet everything is uplifted with light and a redemptive heart. Commentators noticed how lush and full the songs are; how the singer has grown in stature and confident- her latest album is the proud voice of one of the U.K.’s most important artists. This is what music needs: acts that project outwards and bring the listener into their mind- do not look at the concrete and check their text messages. Although acts like London Grammar and La Roux provide semblances of depression and heartache, there is ample beauty and hopefulness- the abiding message is adversity over pain. Lightknife- with their delightful spoonerism of a name- are a distinct act that are following in the golden footsteps of the likes of La Roux and her contemporaries. What makes them such an arresting act, is their mix of older and new sounds. I will investigate this more later; the sensation you get from their music is of a hungry and ambitious young group- that want to entrance and compel everyone that hears their songs. Lead by Rosie Vanier, the beguiling and stunning lead has an emotive voice that adds fizz, pizzazz, beauty and captivation into the music- each number mandates you to repeat it over and over (to get the full impression). Backed by wonderfully rich and spellbound compositions, the band are sure to have a long future- they are an act that have few comparables. Plenty of young and new Electro.-Pop/Contemporary artists come off a bit short: something about their music sounds jaded and impersonal. The mixture of male and female genetics; the commingling of beautiful allure and staunch conviction makes Lightknife so strong- that diversity and range comes through in their dizzying music. I am a fan of male-lead and male-only Electro.-Pop acts, yet find more to recommend when they are female-fronted- the vocals are more impassioned and more convincing; the heartache more compelling and open. The band has been recording for a couple of years now (and have grown in stature and talent)- Bad in Love is the vivid sound of one of best up-and-coming British Electro. acts. Hailing from the climbs of Cornwall- somewhat under-subscribed and populated when it comes to new music- they are one of the south’s most promising bands. Whether it is their proximity to London- being a fair few miles away- or the freshness of their career; the three-piece are deserving of a much wider and diverse audience- I am sure it will be a matter of time before they achieve their rightful acclaim. With so many nauseated and saccharine Pop acts pulling in top dollar; almost as many Electro. acts falling by the wayside- you would do well to embrace and study an act that are so much more distinct and illustrious than anything out there.

Being that this is the band’s mist defined and fully realised work, it is hard to hark back and provide retrospective investigation. It is a brave move to release an E.P. so soon in a career: the band are a treasured commodity in Cornwall, yet have lesser relevance farther afield. Although Vanier has performed in London and made a name for herself, her new moniker is less synonymous among the cosmopolitan clans of the nation’s capital. Most bands- faced with the daunting prospect of obtaining creative avarice- would meekly present a single or cover version- try to garner some muted feedback and test the waters. I always love the braveness and boldness of the nation’s finest: those that have an innate confidence in their ideologies and intuitions. Lightknife are no cut-and-past rank-and-file band; throwing together songs with no regard for quality and appeal. The quartet of tracks on Bad in Love sounds well-rehearsed and honed: there is enough breathing room for fun; yet a professional and astute solidity defines their music. It is clear that Lightknife have a passion for music and performing: the urgency and headiness that shines in their tunes is one of their biggest marketable points. For that reason, Bad in Love is the sound of a band keen to show the world what they have- flex their smile and muscles to prove a point; show just how fervent and honed they are. The tight and unflinching energy that they pervade is equalled by few acts; their flair and passion makes all of their tracks so indelible and tantalising. Vanier’s gorgeously rich and evocative voice is a the quintessential weapon- the songs come across as deeply personal and utterly important. With an ear for style and substance (over numbers and length), the band ensure that the E.P. is controlled and disciplined- leaving the listener wanting more (after the final notes). The best way to judge the band is on their current output- rather than yearn back and see how they have risen/fallen. There is so much going on in modern music- new bands appear by the week- so it is apt to draw lines with what is being offered in 2014. Aside from Electro.-Pop forerunners like Say Lou Lou, La Roux and James Blake, the trio separate themselves from obvious comparison: their songs are distinctly their own whilst their sound incorporates darker and more primal underlings; emotive and sweet-natured profferings- insatiable and dexterous energy. There is till too much immaturity and lack of focus among new bands: songs tend to err too closely to primary school levels of literacy and intelligence- Lightknife have the ability to mix grown-up and mature themes with teenage concerns; ensure that everything sounds original and stirring- allowing no loose notes or weak lyrics to mar their potency.

Being such a new and distinct act, it is not fair to lump musicians like Lightknife in with others. For those looking for a guide or frame of reference, I could offer a few names- to give you an indication of who inspires the band; where some of their sounds originate. Two initial names I will offer is Shakespeares Sister and Goldfrapp. Scoring high on the trio’s influence-o-meter, the diverse acts are rightful legends. In so much as Vanier elicits some of Siobhan Fahey (Shakespeares Sister’s lead) and Alison Goldfrapp’s sense of quirkiness and individuality; that honesty and lack of fear- when it comes to emoting. Shakespeares Sister’s Hormonally Yours (released in 1992) sees Fahey’s deep and near-masculine vocal give life and huge conviction to her songs. Lightknife have an element of this in their music: Vanier’s voice is one that is beyond easy comparison- her unique and striking voice has character and vitality; able to define and augment everything she sings. Imbued with a sense of drama- yet no melodrama- she can marry bouncy and resilient with flawless Pop moments. Whilst the band do not turn out anything like Stay or Goodbye Cruel Word, they ensure that every song is instant and engaging- there is not a number that passes you by or does not entice. Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry is the best source of reference- when ascribing Lightknife’s current movements. That album- from Goldfrapp- moved towards a mixture of retro and modern Electro.-Pop music- the results are splendid. Vanier lets her personality shine and come through- it is one of the most impressive facets. Able to switch between cool hauter and alluring seduction, it mingles beautifully within twisted and distorted synthesisers- animatistic and primal at times. Goldfrapp take in a lot of ’80s influences like Gary Glitter: they mix bygone sounds with very modern and fresh elements. Lightknife build on this principle: drawing past masters into their palette, their aural assault is enough to impress chill-out fans and classic Electro. acolytes- just like early-career Goldfrapp did. If you are looking for something a little more contemporary, then Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue (may be pertinent starting blocks). In moments of Bad in Love, you catch glimmers of Spears’ distinctive growl and kittenish purr- Vanier is capable of whipping up such a huge amount of sexuality and womanly luster; able to switch to something more calmed and sweet when required. Spears may have left her best work behind her, but it is clear her music has had an effect on the Cornwall Siren- her voice needs no Auto-Tune or processing- that delicious and insatiable voice is all her own; the naturalness and distinction makes the music so much more convincing. Minogue is a name that sprung to mind. Embers of Light Years/Fever-era Kylie came to my ears. The shiny mix of classic disco and modern-day Electro. made songs like Spinning Around and Your Disco Needs You such stand-out cuts; gorgeous Dance music mingles with effervescence and perfectionist songwriting. There is no syrup or inconsistency; each song from Lightknife has commercial appeal and does not drop a step- it marries the youthfulness and glory of Minogue’s early days; tying it to the passion and quality of her ‘comeback years’ output. Instilled with more maturity and lyrical quality than Minogue- and her factory of contributors- I cannot help but to mention Massive Attack. Their fearless and pioneering mix of synthesiser, electronics and Trip-Hop prowess defined them as one of the most important bands of the ’90s. If you look at Mezzanine- the best album since their career-defining Blue Lines- that albums possessed fuzzy guitars; eerie atmospherics and classics destined for the clubs and beaches of the word. The band managed to fuse light and dark elements; there is distorted bass and singular intentions; memorable tunes and a seemless blend of low-tech come-down (and rampant flame-out blazers). Lightknife similarly pack a range of emotional clout into their music: the production is excellent and superb- the compositions packed with menace-cum-enlightening beauty. Blues Lines contained bold, symphonic and grand textures; songs that look at loss and disconnection- the songs inspire creative bursts; the language and vocals pour out colours; the mantra-like (and repetitive) codas motivate the mind. Whilst not up to the faultless genius of the 1991 masterpiece, Lightknife create songs that bond upbeat and moving dancefloor jams with scene-stealing vocal highlights- mixing a myriad of genres and touches into a defined and taut collection. Two contrasting names I will throw in are Kate Bush and The Kills. There is a whisper of Bush’s unique eccentricity and personality in Vanier’s vocals. She has that same girlish and child-like curiosity in her voice; able to prick the heart with her crystalline and delicate gift; summon a masculine burst of raw energy- cover such an emotional spectrum with as few notes as possible. Bush’s phrasing and delivery gave extra layers and nuance to her tracks; Vanier has her own inimitable and distinct ideal: she makes sure her words are never boring or meagre; the life and lust she gives to them makes sure they burrow into your consciousness. That ethereal and spectral beauty- Bush defined- can be found on tracks across Bad in Love. If you look at the U.S.-U.K. duo The Kills, that grit and Blues undertone can be seen in Lightknife. The Cornwall band are capable of minimalist and monochromatic sexiness and introspection: among their colourful tapestries; foot-stomp, sexy-as-f*** beats mingle with sass. The band accompany Vanier’s glitter-cum-dirty vocal allure with some springy and bomb-laden electronics and guitars. Albums like Midnight Boom contained passion and plenty of style: an album more concerned with conviction- as opposed to cool- it is the band’s most varied and wild album- with such a range of emotions and sounds, it fuses Punk, Blues and Pop into the blend. A few more names I want to mention are Moloko, Marina and the Diamonds and No Doubt. All quite unique and different, Lightknife instill an essence of each into their make-up. No Doubt’s party spirit and hell-yeah conjecture shines in Bad in Love. The energy and rush the band summoned in Rock Steady can be applied to Lightknife. No Doubt broke out of their prison: summoned a hook-laden and tight Pop record- something unique and adventurous came through. Credibly mixing Dance, New-Wave and Pop, the album is unpretentious and mainstream-ready- qualities that Lightknife project. Vanier has a semblance of Stefani’s imploring and come-to-the-party voice: less Californian and Americanized, it has a British passion that implores the listener to lose themselves in the majesty of the music. That sense of pride and fun made Marina and the Diamonds (and Moloko) such quality acts. The Family Jewels (from Marina’) saw savviness and discernible maturity coexist with considered and well-defined methodology. Like Marina and the Diamonds, Lightknife expertly update and introduce ’80s Pop and Dance; late-’90s Rock with some distinct and personal lyrics- wrapped in a bright and uplifting skin of song. Moloko’s swing and seductive sway was highlighted in I Am Not a Doctor: an entertaining and delirious collection that marries wit with emotion. Wonderfully blending musicianship quality with vocal freedom and effortless, the record was a step up for the band- it appealed to the clubbers of Ibiza in addition to the laid-back musos of London. Lightknife have a similar inter-continental strength and sense of quality: their music is fun and alive without losing the importance of maturity and restrain. Before I move on, I want to end with two particular names: Soft Cell and La Roux. Soft Cell are idols of the band. If you look at Non-Step Ecstatic Dancing: the album is packed with energy and endless movement- quite a mesmerising and appealing prospect for a young band. Soft Cell’s early work was defined by chilled and icy beats; rushing and insistent moments- bolstered by Almond’s charming and insatiable vocal. Lightknife elicit some of the band’s grandeur and potential: their latest offerings see them carve out modern-day Dance classics- minus the lasciviousness and plaintive edges. The best modern-day proponent of Electro.-Pop is La Roux. Her diary entry tracks let us into the heart and mind of a fascinating songwriter: self-assured and eminently influential, the crackling and fizz-bombing delivery sees her songs of heartache come alive and resonate; her most startling and feisty mandates lodge into your brain- the combinations and mixtures are intoxicating and wonderfully realised. Lightknife know the importance of these components and considerations: energetic and spirited vocals are nobly supported by deep, devilish and pushing compositions- making their songs as rounded and impressive as any out there. Of course, you should not compare the band (directly) with anyone else. They make music designed to be new and fresh; unexpected and vital- that is exactly what is achieved in Bad in Love.

The virginal moments of Bad in Love arrives with a dizzying and infectiously hypnotised coda of electronics. Punching a Morse Code of temerity, the burbling and firecracker embers spark the song into life- the Faraday cage on which proceedings are ensconced. I Want You Back- in no way will it put you in mind of the Jackson 5 equivalent- then evolves into a roaring and stumbling beast: a primal pounding of percussions permeates the light; bonding with the elliptical refrain, the two fuse into a symphonic- and oddly harmonious whole- mixing elements of ’90s Hip and Trip-Hop with of-the-minute Dance vibes. The electronic backing- spiralling and gleefully grinning- has the sound of a video game soundtrack: with its retro skin and helpless charm, it provides a fascinating counterpart to the rambunctious and unshakable drums- clouding the mind and unnerving the senses (with its psychotropic intent.) When our heroine does arrive in the fray, she provides some measure and calm- although her voice has an element of bold proclamation. Stating that the rules have been changed- the game has developed. She wants her man back- whatever has led to the initial sensation is not weighing on her mind- our heroine wants to invoke a romantic dispensationalism; get things back on firm ground. With a resonating tone of Britney Spears- the finest cuts from her self-titled album come to mind- the vocal is empowered and determined. Sans any form of manipulation, our heroine is not going to be messed around: whatever the tongue-wagging masses thing, it will not detract from her goals- the wisdom of crowds does not apply here. Backed by an invigorated and meteorological downpour of a back-beat, a tattooed and rebellious kick is swung in- bolstering and jostling for attention. It doesn’t matter what the people say; whether this decision is sagacious or naive- this is going to happen. Showing no signs of pusillanimity, our heroine’s voice rises in the chorus- quasi-operatic, the serene and ethereal rise is impassioned and hot-bloodied. A woman who knows what she wants, these desires are augmented and emphasised by her band mates: the primitive and smash-and-grab percussion acts like a continuous lightning storm- you imagine Vanier standing in the rain, volumizing her mandate like a bellicose slogan. There is biological division- among the listener- when presented with the sonic blends.  Your heart stays with the heroine; rooting for her and following her plight. Your mind and feet are directed towards the trouncing backing- rousing your body in motion, it is an avalanching and Stone Age smash. With its soul rooted on the dancefloors of the country; the soundtrack to beach parties and late-night get-togethers; the seminal festivals and events- the song is a potent and insatiable brew that never desists. The lyrics suffer no ambiguity or lack of clarity: our heroine wants her man, as he is “everything I need“- nothing has changed in that respect. Whether she is swallowing her pride or negating the minor indiscretions of their past life, her renewed faith and lust is infectious- the vocal is a riot of licentiousness. The chorus gets you singing along in unison- its simplicity and effectiveness means it will be chanted and repeated in locations across the land. That ’90s U.S. Pop-cum-modern-day Electro. vocal is imbued with as much power and kinetic energy as you can imagine- few other vocalists are able to summon a comparable strength and directness. Repeated with intention- ensuring her man knows how meaningful she is- that chorus comes play to play- building momentum with each spin. The track may not be able to recruit those uninitiated to the genres (being represented): the sheer pace and fervency of I Want You Back will win over the most unmotivated of listener- its fresh and current sound will be snapped up by Dance aficionados. Perhaps having expended all her energy and focus on getting her message across, the final moments are a string of chorus reappraisals- the brevity and economy of language means the song is not bloated or pretentious; it is lean and sharp. Being a bigger followers of Grunge, Indie, Desert-Rock and such, if someone had described the track, I may have briddled- perhaps clicked my tongue and thrown my head back in derision. The emphatic mix of beauty, passion and raw sexuality is hard to ignore or shrug aside: by the final stages, it is amplified and mutated. The composition comes to shine- in the winter moments- offering up a ragged and rage-induced clatter of notes and beats- representing the inner burning and sense of longing. Having been intoxicated by the insane catchiness of the chorus, your mind is diverted- not for too long- to the urgency and motoring swagger of the outro.- something that dies down to a splutter in the last seconds. I’m in Love begins its course with a similar projection to its predecessor: up-swinging electronics are designed to evoke movement and energy right from the off- embodying unrepentant joy and positivity, it is a whirlpool of multifarious lights and sights (something that does not starkly uncouple itself from I Want You Back). Perhaps the logical next chapter, the song sees the relationship solidified and consecrated- our heroine’s mind is more rested and satisfied. Vanier is walking around in a daze; her feet not touching the ground, there is a definite feeling of spiritual levitation. Perhaps having struggled to find a suitable paramour, the relief and cool-edged vocal has a measure of caution- perhaps something deeper has not completely quelled doubts. Our heroine is “so amazed that I’m understood“; whomever her man is, he has acted as a redemptive and medicinal force- balming wounds and easing heartache. Paying tribute to her boy- pushing any hesitations to the back- the vocal expands and opens up: breezier and more jubilant than before, the delighted and upbeat voice puts me in mind of acts such as Kylie Minogue, Kate Bush and No Doubt. Vanier pick ‘n’ mix of breathy sensuality, girlish and sweet sigh and full-powered soulfulness gives the track a deep and layered feel- every note is natural and subjugated; she is free to move in the composition. Less foreboding and dominant than previous, it acts as a supportive hand- lifting the foreground and ensuring that trepidation does not creep into proceedings. When the chorus comes, that proud and thankful stun makes it voice heard- there is no sarcasm or ingeunine spirit; there is pure satisfaction at work. Maybe some of the chorus’ words get a little buried in the mix; it does not cause any devaluation at all- the pure strength of the projection wins you over. When our heroine finds herself “floating around“, you helplessly imagine a tranquil and blithe spirit: someone entranced in the grip of a romance- anyone trying to find any cracks or cynicism may go away disappointed. With that authoritative mix of early-career Minogue; dashes of classic Pop and Electro.-Pop figures, the song has a gender-blind appeal- it is aimed at a universal and ubiquitous market of fans; not just for the girls. When the delirium and enrapturement of the chorus subsides, the atmosphere does not diminish. Replacing outright energy with a more focused central vocal, our heroine calls out to the world (or perhaps her man). Asking whether she is being seen and heard- you sense it is intended for her current sweetheart. Perhaps not taken seriously in the past- leading you to believe is a continuation of the opening salvo- she is firm and authoritative. Wanting to be an equal partner (and not the object of deceit), the mood introverts and darkens slightly- seriousness and intent make sure the words are firmly understood (and hit home). The stern missive does not last too long: before you know it, the chorus swings back around- the band showcase how a strong and indelible chorus can elevate a song to giddy heights. Genetically infusing smokes of legendary Pop and Electro. acts- into a very fresh and modern body- you get a track that has a definite mobility. Able to succeed on the dance-floors and clubs; capable of seducing sweaty stereos driving down sun-drenched highways, it sunny disposition means its appeal and charm do not tire- I can imagine the song is (or soon will be) a live favourite. After the jubilation and satisfaction of I’m in Love; Heavy Heart would lead you to believe that the smile may soon fade- the opening mandate certainly differs from its forefathers. The electronics and synthesised sounds are darker and more moody- throbbing and sorrowful, a grand swathe of charcoal velvet presides over events- bringing to mind the likes of Soft Cell and Massive Attack. Whereas the first two tracks got underway with an explosion of rush and intention, here there is more consideration for pace and emotion- the composition dims and quietens; it rises and comes back for more- that unnerving and unpredictable sense of drama takes your mind in all sorts of directions. With the kind of tribalistic pound- Blues Lines-era Massive Attack would snatch up- the electricity levels reach unpalpable levels. When our heroine comes into the song, her voice is more reserved and deep in thought- the E.P. starts to play out like a conceptual piece. Assumingly representing the same hero- as featured in the opening numbers- the relationship has taken a turn for the worse: walking away from a fall-out and fraught moment, it seems that cracks are starting to appear. Whether repairable or not, the heroine sounds more emotional and fragile than before- the effects and aftershocks are shaking her soul to the core. Her man said that he could live without her love; resentful that she has to “start again“, the romantic odometer has been reset- perhaps the intransigent stubbornness of events means there is no way back. It seems like her man is at fault: unwilling to fight or explain things, an ultimatum and irreversible gauntlet has been thrown down- our heroine is walking the street; her mind a maze of what-ifs and confusions. In spite of the upsetting series of events, the vocal does not allow itself to wallow in grief: displaying that legendary prowess and belt, Vanier shows just how strong and unflappable she can be- when gripped in the regal emotions of music. The composition has an interchangeable and evolving drive: when scoring fractious and mordant realms, it is appropriately petrichor and suffocating; when the chorus brings some lighter elements, the sonics energie and rejuvenate- a myriad of fizzes and rushing electronics. Our heroine builds her voice in a chorus of “oh oh oh“s- stating that (her man) knows the truth, she is at the negotiating table- trying to hash out some sort of compromise, she does not want this thing to end so soon. Despite what has come before, the heroine is alive with a brand-new heart: perhaps the blame should be put squarely on the shoulders (of her boy). The circumstances of the break-up are not explained or highlighted: needing to rest and build her life back up, the passionate energy keeps the song buoyant and gripping- Vanier showcases how much lung power she has when rising (in the chorus). Letting her distinct and unwavering vocal potency allure and overpower, the composition matches its essence and incandescence. Just as the song’s sense of restraint and balance becomes untenable, the high-aiming waterfall is drained into a calmed reservoir- the intro’s burbling electronics come back into play. It acts as a brief and sprite parable; aimed as a chance to take a deep breath- from under the harsh and deathly waters- the kaleidoscopic hornets nest (fuzzing) electronics return- with that striking and stirring chorus in tow. Explaining that it’s “always you“; you wonder whether that means (the man) puts himself first; or whether our heroine will think of no one else- you get the impression that her guy should not walk away. Perhaps there is chance for mediation and rebirth; the love seems too concrete and entrenched (to capitulate so readily). There is no such thing as ‘true love'; there is such a thing as noble and honest love- our heroine is in the fevered grip of a mass of contradictions. Having once more grabbed your attentions- with the composition, passionate vocal and honest lyrics- the E.P. begins to intrigue on two different plains. On the one hand, the songs get better and more assured; the motifs more fascinating and rounded- leaving you salivating by the swan-song. On the other hand, there is a clear and developing story-line: from the initial come-hither seduction call, it progresses to full-blown passion and delirium; transforming into something more fragmented and battling- the scars start to show, but there are still chinks of light and possibility. How your thoughts and guided depends on what the intro. to Black Magic sounds like. Giving the listener no time to evaluate, our heroine’s voice is clear and sharp: wordless rises replace sonic threads- her voice acts like an instrument that crackles and bubbles; rises and falls; putting a sense of mystery right into the track. It seems the soul will be cleansed and restored after all- this black magic is something not to be feared. In bed- with her man lying next to her- he is doing “what you do“; normally the subject of daydreams, her fantasies are being realised- it didn’t seem possible up until this point. The track has a curious and detailed mixture of sounds and (possible influences). Those essences of mid-career Britney Spears have weight in some of the vocals; the rushing and heady composition takes in the likes of Moloko and Goldfrapp- current examples The Klaxons are in there. With words that have half a mind in diary pages; half in the vitality and unrehearsed rush of the heart- the lyrics mingle simple pleas with more descriptive and evocative scenes. It is said that the lovers cast a spell (on one another): that is the real nature of black magic- something intangible but very real. The composition chugs and rifles: the electronic machine dances and stomps; twirling a whirling dervish, the conjoining of brooding undertones (with merriment highs) is endlessly fascinating- it is perhaps one of the most well-rounded compositions on the E.P. It is clear that the passion felt is very engaging and direct; in the back of her mind our heroine has some swings and lows. She tells us that “I’m up and then I’m down“- one day she feels young and inspired; the next aged and sad. Her heart is spinning around thoughts; sitting in the dark, the euphemism for love is causing contrasting and conflicting feelings- not everything is as rosy and perfect as it could be. That said, the enthusiastic and unerring delivery keeps everything elementary and upbeat- even during the most introverted moments, the power of the song does not loosen. Incapable of insouciance, our heroine knows who she wants- and exactly what she wants to achieve. Imploring her man to “lay down next to me“; the pace contracts slightly- the vocal come more into play to emphasise the meaningfulness and seductiveness of the words. Tease and succinct talent mean that verses are kept brief and to-the-point: having laid down her impressions, the chorus swirls and pours down- the sharp shower returns to take you mind into the sky. Additive and compelling, the track steals the highest honour- it is the perfect way to end the E.P. As the final moments present themselves, you speculate as to whether the relationship fully resolved itself; if complete satisfaction was obtained- maybe we will see it continued in the next release? Having encountered such a heady rush of an E.P., you are left to piece the pieces together- I hope that the heroine was happy and contended by the very end. I adore the way the songs each have their own story within them: following the plot-line from the (tentative and alluring) beginnings, we come full-circle- with her man in her arms, the relationship should work; it will require compromise and patience. Having packed so many strands, sounds, genres and themes into four songs, you find yourself amazed at how confident and ripe the band are- few other new acts are capable of producing an early work with so much conviction and professional authority.

Quite a lot to take in and reflect on- when listening to Bad in Love. From the initial notes- the first whispers of the band (and their music)- you are grabbed in and pulled asunder- your brain and body is entrapped in a delighted rictus of immobility. Such is the sheer force and perpetual motion elicited, the tracks do their bidding with expeditious accuracy. Barely wasting a word or note, the quartet of songs are dispensed with in a terrific flurry of bonhomie, passion and inner-vision longings- by the final notes of Black Magic, your mind seeks more (from Lightknife). The spellbinding effect is created due to a number of different reasons. Each of the four songs is tight and focused- they clock in at several minutes; never outstay their welcome- are imbued with such a complete and emphatic performance that (if they would longer) it would ruin their appeal. The choruses are infectious, endlessly catchy and memorable- I am still singing the chorus from I Want You Back! The songs do tend to be chorus-heavy: they are reintroduced and repeated in order to summon the greatest sonic effect- burrow few words into the brain; creating minaret scenes and distilled wonder. The transitory verses pack plenty of clout; making the brain race and imagine, the lyrics are vivid and heart-aching- at times- enthralled and delighted the next. Never succumbing to naivety or infantile offerings, it is a compelling and impressive songbook. Before I applaud the trio themselves, it is worth noting the songs- and the styles of music they fall under. Lightknife have created an E.P. which improves with each fresh number- the opening salvo is strong and instant; the songs then open up and expand; become more evocative and atmospheric as they go on. This neat trick is tantamount to a stroke of brilliance by the band: if this quality consideration had been transposed- if the tracklisting were reorganised- a disjointed and weaker collection would have been provided. Playing out like a concept/story, you follow our heroine (and her man) as they embark upon love; see it fall- before picking things up and finishing concessionary solace. If you are not a fan of insistently upbeat and energetic compositions, you may seek out something more reserved and demure- the unquenchable drive and pace may not instantly hook every listener. Bad in Love is an E.P. that will hit a certain percentage- upon the initial surveyance- reveal its beauty and full potential to others- when the disc is repeated a few more times. Proffering faultless love, impassioned and delighted happiness; jilted and anxious recrimination and discombobulated anger- the quartet of gems deserves wider regard and study. Being more inclined towards the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Radiohead, Lightknife marked a bit of a departure for me- their particular blend of Electro.-Pop and Alternative has made me rethink things (and broaden my regards). There are touches of Pop queens such as Britney Spears in certain parts: whether you are a fan or not, Rosie Vanier’s original and heart-breakingly pure voice will convert you- make you fall in love with it. It is the genre-splicing and cross-pollination that perhaps impresses most. I have mentioned some sources of influences- in an early paragraph- and each name comes to the fore (in some form). The bounding and primeval beats (and dangerous electronics) Massive Attack perfected- during their regency- lingers in (the E.P.’s tracks) to give the music a dark and edgy brood. Mixing classic ’90s Dance with modern-day Trance, the compositions see swelling and cinematic snatches infusing with symphonic and demonic beat-downs. Unconnected acts like Soft Cell and No Doubt see their essence instilled within the numbers: that hard-hitting and stirring Disco/Electro. concoction is as prevalent as good-time and upbeat party swing- the tracks are uniformly capable of getting each listener to their feet to show their appreciation of the beats. With an entrancing and multifarious voice that marries Shakespeares Sister, Kylie Minogue, La Roux and Alison Mosshart- you have a cornucopia and multi-coloured lead. The lyrics offer plenty of relatable and personable themes: most of the listener can relate to our heroine’s plight; the very real and open nature of the words mean the tracks attract your thoughts on an emotional base- the fear and dread that unfolds in some moments is truly stunning. Let me conclude (this section) by focusing on the trio themselves. Bubs Taylor and Lee ‘Pixie’ Matthews have a London Grammar-esque role- backing the female lead with some suitably stunning compositions. Unlike the in vogue trio, Lightknife’s sonic innovators have more at their disposal- a greater ear for melody, emotion and sheer wonder. London Grammar are more inward and introspective; Lightknife more overt- it may be an unfair comparison. What Matthews and Taylor do is to ensure that the central stories are transcribed with the utmost attention to detail- the amount of sound and quality they pack into each number is to be commended. Capable of mastering and owning genres- as distant as ’80s Electro., ’90s U.S.-Pop and Bristolian Trip-Hop- there is no maverick cut-and-paste infusion- every sound and layer comes from astute and hugely knowledgeable musicians. The sympatico they share; the vibrancy they throw into the boiling pot- it gives Bad in Love‘s tales of love-against-the-odds entries a feeling of grandeur and touching honesty. Most Electro.-Pop artists tend to stick with a quite rigid and formulaic set of tracks- the overall sound tends to be less adventurous and surprising as one would expect. Matthews and Taylor are going to be innovative minds to watch- how Lightknife expand and develop may rest on their shoulders. Providing the brotherly spirit- to Vanier’s heroine-elect- they are responsible for projecting the mood and sound of the song- I hope that future Lightknife releases will see their bold and instinctive approach reap rewards. Before I get to my conclusion, I cannot overlook the voice of the Cornwall trio: Rosie Vanier. Possessed of a stunning and rare beauty, her voice matches this entrancing allure and grace. She is a singer whose voice never rests or settles on a particular idea: girlish and vulnerable at some avenues, it can transmogrify into the sound of a soulful woman- that vast and impressive shift happens over the course of a few seconds. Evoking memories of vocalists (as diverse as) Kylie Minogue and Siobhan Fahey, the real headline comes when Vanier unleashes her personality- that is the most distinctive and impressive aspects of the E.P. Music that lacks a singer’s personality is a pointless excercise: those that can put as much as themselves into music are those that elicit the greatest results. Each song on Bad in Love is unflinchingly and undeniably the thoughts and sound of Rosie Vanier: her strong and passionate soul makes every note and utterance sound so urgent and direct. The lyrics and ideas put forth have an air of familiarity to them- themes of love and break-up are staples of music and have been represented comprehensively. The way to distinguish yourself (from the hordes of fellow songwriters) is to put your own stamp on these topics- provide the listener something new and personal. With few clichés or over-emotive lyrics, you feel as though you are reading the journal of our heroine: being given front row access to her innermost confessions and doubts- being offered insight into one of this country’s potential stars. How the trio combine and unite lends their songs such a weight and conviction: the performances are tight and familial; the intuition and understanding (they have for each other) solidifies and galvanises the music- there is no weak link in the chain at all. It is no shock the band are so noted- in the live arena- and capable of seducing audiences wherever they go- their bond and uniformity is what makes them names to watch incredibly closely. With 2015 looming large, critics and publications will be looking around- seeking out their ’10 Acts to Watch’ and so forth. A lot of Indie and Rock acts will make their way there; with the likes of La Roux making Electro.-Pop so utterly compelling, eyes will cast around for up-and-coming genre representatives. For anyone looking for songs that provide fun and frivolity; deep-seated anxiety and doubts; strong and redemptive cores- the young and ambitious Cornwall trio are more than up to the task.

Music is a funny and inscrutable mistress- sometimes she is hot and heavy; other days she blows cold. I shall not get into risqué and lewd avenues, but she is very much like a lover: when they are aloof and argumentative, you want to retreat and get away; when passionate and instep you want to embrace and love them. Music seems to change moods and intentions every week- sometimes you hear nothing of any note come through; others there is a myriad and tidal wave of quality. Lightknife have not been hiding in the undergrowth, but the media have been a little remiss- their name deserves to be out there in the ether for thorough investigation. Rosie Vanier is one of the most arresting and down-to-earth musicians around; her voice is that which fuses delightful and angelic sweetness; plenty of attitude and tough punch; some alluring and seductive whispers too. Belying her tender years, the songwriting is instilled with maturity and ripe creativity- her inner-most recesses and profferings are those that instantly connect with the listener. Providing colour, emotion and serious weight are her comrades Lee ‘Pixie’ Matthews and Bubs Taylor- musical brothers that are perfectly in-tune with our heroine. The three-piece have been rocking, pleasuring and hypnotising audiences around Cornwall- local audiences have been entranced and joyed to see the band in the live arena. Bad in Love is the band’s embryonic effort, and an E.P. that should give them motivation and guidance- they have the talent and ammunition to turn in an L.P. (in the future). The four tracks on Bad in Love are so tight and studied; red-hot and beautiful; cherry-red and ice-cool- colourful and emotive songs that paint a stunning portrait. The bond between the band cements their music’s reputation and excellent- you know that nothing can come between the close and tightly-knit friends. I am going to try my hardest to get other reviewers and sources talking about Lightknife- ensuring that their E.P.’s good name is spread and shared as far as possible. I have a built-in barometer- when it comes to a musician’s potential- and can forecast just how far they can get. Most acts have little potential to break through their home barriers (and progress into the mainstream). With the likes of La Roux and James Blake showing just how strong, deep and stunning Electro.-Pop can be- acts like Lightknife are deserving of fonder investigation. It is a genre which has no prejudices or rules; it embraces and welcomes all listeners- providing messages, missives and masses of fun sound. Plenty of depth and emotion resonates in its skin; that heartbreak and pride shines bright- with the days getting warmer, it is the perfect music to enjoy and spin. Before I wrap up- I’m sure there are some rolling eyes- I just want to focus on the trio themselves: the Cornwall clan are swimming and drinking in the scenic pleasures of the county- its gorgeous panoramic sights; the warm and loyal crowds; the characterful and unique streets. Unsurprisingly, they have a huge live reputation: fans across social media are paying tribute to just how tight and assured the group are. This will translate well among the crowds throughout the U.K.- Lightknife should brace themselves for a busy and itinerant future. There may be an element of circumscript regard- at the moment- yet it will be a matter of months before the band are in the midst of an explosion: when more ears become enamoured of their music, the guys will see themselves in demand. It is no faint praise to say the trio are one of the most exciting new bands I have heard in 2014- I have heard A LOT of new acts- so they should be very pleased. Few groups have such confidence in their songs; immune from criticism and speculation, they are soundtracks and mini-epic scores- to accompany your summer sojourns. Vanier has previously made splashes up in the capital- at Madame Jojo’s in Soho included- and unleashed her intoxicating breaths into the clouded smoke of London. A band will only gain a legacy and foothold if they are given appropriate support and backing- this is where you all come in. I am loathed to make big statements and bold proclamations: the group are going to be big business in the coming years. They have marshalled their talent and honed their unique and stylish sound- sure to inspire legions of new acts coming through. If you- like me- are tired of the anonymity of street pedestrians; aggrieved by their lack of eye contact; yearn for something more personal and human- music is your safest option. Take your head out of your iPhones; cast your thoughts aside (from social media) and get back to grassroots music appreciation. Cornwall has unveiled a precious and gleaming gem: their name is Lightknife and…

THEY are wucking fonderful.



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E.P. Review: Braver than Fiction- King of Crows


Braver than Fiction

King of Crows 


Three of  King of Crows tracks are available from:


King of Crows (Live)- 9.3/10

Candle-blind (Live)- 9.4

Mr. Jones (Fear of Falling) (Live)- 9.5

Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Live)-  9.6


Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Live)


Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield


Mel Lampro


Braver than Fiction


Folk, Blues-Rock, Alternative, Soul


Limited editions of their E.P.s are selling like very hot cakes. It not hard to see why Braver than Fiction are in such demand: King of Crows is a phenomenal work from one of the steel city’s most startling new bands. This is music designed to amaze and seduce- why deny yourself the pleasure?


MY featured band impressed me hugely…

when I got in touch with them a week ago. I need to bring up a music-related point, but will address one key issue: online representation. It is a debate point I have flung around like a tattered feather bower: this will not be the last time I will be raising it- so many bands are culpable of a sin of omission. The best way to promote your music; get the fans into your tent; ensure you are shared and adored- is to get your online pages sorted and cemented. By this, I mean having a full and thorough visibility. Too many new bands- being a little naive and ill-equipped- tend to come onto the scene with a basic Facebook page: perhaps a few social media sites are covered- as a whole- there is scant to see and witness. Most people- reading this- may feel that it is no big deal: who cares if the media output is sparse- so long as the music is top quality? In addition to the music not always being that good, you need to make sure people can find you- there is no point in being fantastic if you are borderline-anonymous. Too much compartmentalisation and self-regard mandates and defines Facebook- few people share bands and music beyond their own borders. With this in mind, bands need to utilise the Internet fully- get their name spread across it as far and wide. Braver than Fiction understand this vital component: their official site is one of the most impressive I have seen; detailed and eye-catching it gives you everything you could possibly desire- offering a lot more outside of this. They have Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud and Bandcamp pages- meaning their music is available in multiple destinations- plus plenty of other sites. If you need to be kept abreast of tours dates; new goings-on- then you have no chance of missing out. Music is a hugely competitive and cut-throat business: if you show signs of weakness or effortlessness, then you will be crushed and spat out. Our band show some keen sight and clear ambition: their music is even more startling than their online portfolio. Hailing from Yorkshire- I swear I’ll stop reviewing the county some day- it is not a shock that another gem has been thrown up- most of the U.K.’s finest acts come from these parts. Before I raise my final point, let me introduce the band to you:

Mel- (Vocals)

Adam- (Bass)

Jason- (Keyboards)

Paul- (Drums)

Martin- (Guitar)

We choose not to haemorrhage every note we conceive across the wonderful world of social media but, we do have an insatiable predilection for playing live, at every possible opportunity. In search of a faithful echo to reflect this passion, we challenged ourselves to record all four tracks for our first EP live, on the same day. If you are looking for a recording that has been picked apart and scoured to death in production you are going to be disappointed. Aside from some minimal but entirely necessary tweaks, this is an authentic portrayal of how Braver than Fiction actually sound – up close and personal. We hope that you enjoy it and that you will be encouraged to venture out to one of our gigs and support the live scene!

“So who is this sturdy-legged bunch of troubadours from the damp, industrial north of England? Braver than Fiction formed as a studio (that really means living room) project in the summer of 2013 and quickly recorded their debut track, “Your Little Fantasy” which they duly uploaded to t’interwebs and wandered off to have a pie. Until Paul’s arrival, Adam had enjoyed the lofty position of ‘tallest band member’ which actually meant that he was the one who’s oxygen levels usually returned to normal the fastest after hiking his bass and amp’ up eight flights of steps to Braver than Fiction’s rehearsal room. To be fair, he could take on more than one step at a time though. Maybe it’s because he’s so tall and his bass is so far away from his face that has made Adam so dexterously brilliant a musician (honestly, he’s got music degrees and everything); it’s a long way down to check what your fingers are doing so it’s best to make sure you are really, really good – then you don’t have to try to keep looking at your hands. What is more, Adam’s just as good on guitar as well as bass. So is Paul and…guess what? So is Braver than Fiction’s keyboard player, Jason (who is also of an adequately, manly physique and thus, does not have to struggle to change a light bulb). In fact, all of the band can play more than one instrument with varying degrees of skill but nevertheless, competently enough. It’s not a circus though (well, not all of the time) and most of the band stick with playing just one instrument at a time – even the multi-talented Jason, the ‘Rick Wakeman of Barnsley’ (he works in Barnsley – it’s a long story) and who is not only not from Sheffield but is from deep, down in the mysterious south-west of England. Nevertheless, the band still needs a guitarist and that’s where Martin, the newest victim arrival to Braver than Fiction’s line-up, comes in! Having recently satisfied the band’s ‘unofficial’ multi-instrumentalist and height criteria, Martin (who is also a professional measurer-upper) quickly fitted in with the rest of the Braver than Fiction members, augmenting their sound with both his electric and acoustic guitar savoir-faire. He’s another interloper though – Sheffield-based now, Martin has spent a good deal of his life in Hull but has not absorbed the accent and annunciates his H’s perfectly. As the principal songwriter and lead vocalist with the band, Mel’s passionate and sometimes downright disconcerting lyrics coupled with her distinctive, husky delivery are unquestionably a significant component of Braver than Fiction’s instantly recognisable sound. Even though she is a classically-trained musician, as Mel is dyslexic, dyscalculic and synesthetic she favours a more abstract approach to her craft. She can often be found waving her arms around, illustrating musical concepts in terms of kaleidoscopic, cross-sensory metaphors to the rest of Braver than Fiction; they deal with it. So as different as they all are, this mad mix should probably not work but nevertheless, does work and it is obviously working bloody well. Braver than Fiction’s swift inclusion onto the playlists of radio and venue DJs worldwide, strong social media following and clear love of live music have given them a great start and 2014 is looking to be a phenomenal year for this outstanding band. The unholy fusion of Braver than Fiction’s members’ diverse industry backgrounds, individual creative influences and musical styles is undoubtedly the fuel that fires their unique sound and has everybody who hears them talking! Together, they enjoy a wealth of experience and Mel’s collection of hats has been known to cause a stir, as well. However, the way that this collective works on any of their compositions, each according to their singular flair but simultaneously in synch, reveals a fascinatingly organic process. Comparisons have been drawn with the grotesque glamour of Tom Waits and the dysfunctional ‘family’ of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours incarnation but, Braver than Fiction are still evolving. Although ‘alternative rock’ seems to be the closest genre fit, this extraordinary band continues to resist being pressed into any kind of predictable musical mould – for now…”

Braver than Fiction are a fascinating band indeed. Lovers of live music, Beatles vinyl, Japanese horror films and pasty-eating- they are a group with ounces of personality and appeal. Having a universal charm and huge sense of ambition, they have already won over quite a few hearts. The release of King of Crows is likely to see the band rise to prominence and get their names fully out there- it is a collection that is packed with marvellous sounds and lyrics. The title itself beckons images of darker themes and evocative images: with the likes of Tom Waits, Soundgarden and The Libertines counting as idols (and inspiration), the music they provide is a tantalising mix of ’70s Folk, U.S. Blues-Rock and British Indie. Idols and influences are an important factor- when it comes to forging your own sound- and can go a long way to determining its overall quality: the best artists and bands that have ever come have been inspired by the greatest names before them. I shall go into more depth about the subject below- detailing Braver than Fiction’s sources of inspiration- but I find that few new acts are taking the trouble to delve back into music- taking their minds back in time and explore something unexpected and unique. A lot of new artists lazily comb around the current scene- whatever artists are making waves, that tends to enforce their drive and direction. Braver than Fiction have a clear love for some of the most tantalising music of the past: melting rare and beautiful combinations, their sounds are among the most unexpected and golden around- few bands project such an originality and sense of intrigue. You do not have to replicate other acts and artists- in order to distinguish yourself- but there is so much that has come before- expand your horizons and allow music’s true wonder to hit you. Before I move on, I will finish up on this point. Too few new musicians tend to go the extra mile: ensure that every part of their name and music is as compelling and possible. It may sound a little unfair; we are still seeing loads of new bands and solo acts come through- sounding very much like others that came before. This year- above all else- has stuck in my mind because of the quality new musicians are providing- it is a shame that there are still quite a few artists that fall short. The only way you are going to thrive and inspire is to impress from the off- not leave anything to chance or circumstance. Braver than Fiction understand the essentialness of this point: the passion and purpose that their music promotes is enough to win over the most cold-hearted and resilient. It is probably apt that I get down to business..

Your Little Fantasy is the band’s previous song- a number they are very proud of indeed. Released back in October of last year, it is a confident and compelling insight (into Mel Lampro’s songwriting mind). It is a very different-sounding beast- to the work they are producing now- which makes their development that much more impressive. Here, we begin with Folk-tinged and rushing strings. Kicking up a hell of a jam, Led Zeppelin III‘s Folk moments blend with an impressively tight and compelling band performance. Lampro’s vocal is direct and determined. It has a consistency and drive- matching the dimension of the composition- that brings her words to life. Shades of The Bends-era Radiohead see punchy and taut percussive notes back some vivid and distinct oupoutings. Lampro’s huge talent for words stands out along the track. The lyrics are sharp and evocative: looking at the song’s heroine, she hides her sting behind her “honey mouth.” Whilst she wears a new colour and shade (every day)- trapping men into her web- she “hides razors in her hair.” The song looks at a two-faced woman who has her fun; gets her way- before backstabbing and double-crossing. Most modern songwriters would fill similar songs with less eye for detail: Lampro’s words bring scenes to life; her choice of topics and images are mesmerising and heady- it is an emphatic and impressive cut from the band. It is perhaps the lyrics that stand out most- on Your Little Fantasy. The biggest development one can see- on their newest work- is a fuller and more nourished sound. The lyrics are perhaps even more impressive- if you can believe it. Lampro incorporates more vulnerability and tenderness here- the anxiety and fear is projected inwards on King of Crows. Once Bitten, Twice Shy sees the vocals more powerful and full- imbued with soulful regalness, they are incredibly captivating and urgent. Few would have expected quite a transformation and evolution from our heroine- her lungs open; her pipes seduce in a riot of beauty and sensuality. The song looks at a breaking relationship; the duo fight to get along- the track sees Blues-Rock notes mingle with Soul, Folk and Jazz cores- it is one of the band’s most impressively alluring and memorable numbers. The great live feeling of the E.P. brings the songs to life: their modern music has a greater sense of atmosphere and directness- you would swear you are right there in the studio as the tracks are being laid down. With Candle-blind’s impressive, byzantine (and mysterious words) burrowing into your brain, another sexy and seductive diamond is discovered. My Jones (Fear of Falling) has harder edges and hurried vocals: the projection is more flowing and rushed- a certain feeling of lust throughout. Euphemism and licking-lipped lines see our heroine direct to Mr. Jones: wanting to have him three times a day, he is what the doctor ordered. The band have come on leaps and bounds since last year- it may be unfair to say as Your Little Fantasy is just one song. As impressive and wonderful as their beginnings were, King of Crows sees the five-piece step up their game and really come into their own. I adore the sound that they have cemented and perfected: songs are more rounded and captivating; your mind is transported somewhere special and safe. The band is very much coming into their own in 2014- I wonder just what they have in store for the coming year. You can hear the confidence and assuredeness in their tracks; the performances are incredibly detailed and tight- the words cannot be compared to any others out there; special and distinct as they are.

This is usually the juncture where I compare a band (or artist to other acts)- today it is going to be very hard to that. Fewer more original acts have come to my attentions; the band manage to summon up their very particular blend of music. Commentators have pointed to the music’s timelessness; the ageless and wordly beauty of the messages poured forth- the incredible performances and nuanced compositions. In that sense, Braver than Fiction cannot really be linked with anyone else. In their newer work- throughout the E.P.- there is a great amount of soulfulness and heart to be found. The first comparison I would levy is towards Aretha Franklin. It may sound like a peculiar name (to mention)- when assessing an Indie-Rock/Blues-Rock bands (with Folk edges). The lush and sensual vocals- tied to powerful and blood rush sonics- put me in mind of the Soul queen. The way Lampro’s voice captivates and powers through the songs- a definite essence of Franklin’s voice comes in. Our heroine has adapted it and instilled her particular stamp; providing a more raw and sensual sense of atmopshere- it is one of the most distinct and striking facets the band have at their disposal. It is noit just the vocals- that put me in mind of Franklin- the lyrics have a similar emotive and open nature. Aretha Franklin’s early-’70s cuts- Call Me, Don’t Play That Song (You Lied), Day Dreaming etc.- come to my thoughts: the shivering and entranced feeling one gets- when hearing the tracks- takes your breath away. Franklin is a mistress of dreaminess, reflection and Funk-ladden emotion. When she brought our her pen- to testament her struggles and feelings- some of her most empowered and vulnerable sentiments poured forth. Lampro’s talent for elegance, poetry and evocative songwriting can be compared to Franklin’s early work- our heroine has the potential to be a huge future Soul icon. Franklin infused groove and Funk-inspired touches to her music: giving it a fuller body and sense of momentum, her intoxicating compositions captivated a generation of listeners. Braver than Fiction has an affection for Funk and grooving jams: although their songs look at romance and feelings of upheaval, they ensure that their music is as developed, layered and energised as they can- swelling your heart and making your body move in the process. Some people have compared the band with Tom Waits; his glamour and grotesque blend- cementing his reputation as one of the world’s greatest songwriters- can certainly be seen in Braver than Fiction’s work. It would be a stretch to compare Waits’ gravelled and whiskey-gargling pipes with that of the Sheffield band- that WOULD take a hell of a talent- yet the lyrics and music contain some of Waits’ magic. His early albums like Blue Valentine signalled a stylistic shift- previous albums were compounded by a focused and rigid personality. Blue Valentine introduced a Blues-orientated feel; expounding barroom philosophy, Waits looked at the crawling underbelly of the city- examining the crawlers and creeps; he also looks at love and fracturing. Gorgeously tender moments mixed with swampy, down-low zings- Braver than Fiction has a similarly packed and impressive audio palette. Our heroine’s songbook draws in a range of odd avenues and disreputable types- wrapped up in her stunning and unwavering voice. When Waits presented Swordfishtrombones (in 1983), he infused more horns and brass sections. Whilst Braver than Fiction do not inject as many Jazz and symphonic touches into their music, Waits’ mid-career gem saw surreal and byzantine stories pervade- taking the listener to some unexpected and peculiar climbs. Like Waits, Braver than Fiction can trade dirty blues tirade (and vivid lyrics) with ravaged vocals and gorgeous melodies- throw in some unexpected time signatures and uniquely quirky instrumental touches, and you can hear 1983 Waits in Braver than Fiction (throughout the tracks of King of Crows). I am a huge fan of Waits’ current work- Bad as Me- that showcases a more turbocharged and poisoned tongue- themes of war and governmental screw-jobs define the disc. Game-changing, focused and badass, the album is raucous and ragged- it would be fascinating to see whether future B.T.F. become more gin-soaked and disaffected. Such is the mobility and evolution of their music, I wouldn’t put it past them. British influence arrives in the form of Fleetwood Mac (I know they are part-American; hang semantics). Reviewers have noted how the discontented ‘marriage’ of Fleetwood shines; their civil war one-upmanship spats come through in Braver’s music. Although our band are solid and immovable, they ellict some of Rumour’s magic. That album employed tattered and anxious love songs; splendidly honest and uninhibited proffering- the quality of the music was never surpassed by the band. King of Crows showcases that unbeatable combination of dysfunction and unity- music that looks at fragmentation and on-the-rocks endings; beautiful and brotherly uplift. The band Acoustic-Folk-cum-Alternative sounds have inspired Braver than Fiction: with a gift for full and evocative compositions, the Sheffield troupe are masters of enthralling and deep soundscapes- that demand repeated listens and a dedicated ear. When Lampro allows her voice to combine sweetness and rawer sexuality, she evokes the spirits of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie- the former’s feline and intoxicating prowess; the latter’s more sensual and delicate projections (are embodied in Lampro’s wide and ranging pipes). She can summon up blues majesty and triumph; distill Fleetwood Mac’s most memorable moments- whilst presenting them in a very special and unexpected way. Led Zeppelin can be detected in the band’s music. That timelessness is something that defines Zeppelin’s body of work- they are a band that will never go without fans and adoring followers. Robert Plant’s soulfulness and lion-roared vocals made albums like Led Zeppelin III such works of genius- mixing Folk with Blues-Rock, I can detect some of this in Braver than Fiction. When they allow the guitar to wail and swagger, you detect hints of Tangerine, Celebration Day and Gallows Pole. Plant’s knack of mixing baroque, surreal and mystical themes- into cohesive and inspiring songs- is updated by Braver than Fiction. Their songs are as capable of expounding the virtues of love and loyalty; comfortable when stepping into mysterious realms and scenes- encapsulated in a riot of staggering sounds. The final trio of names I will introduce is Laura Marling, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. Notable for their lyrical genius, these three artists cover a wide spectrum of genres, decades and moods. Marling’s poetic and intelligent themes have anger and accusation at heart; a sense of loneliness and longing- the way she employs her words (and shows her feelings) is her most impressive weapon. Cohen’s darker intellect scored scenes of depression, death and ageing- that distinctive croon made every one of his words urgent and unforgettable. Mitchell’s intoxicating and wonderous wordplay (and lyrical genius) marked her out as one of the most impressive singer-songwriters of all-time- her legacy has not dimmed or diminished. Braver than Fiction’s songs marry intellectual and well-considered tales; vibrant and stark moments; phenomenal scenes and stand-out lines. The band is evolving (and hard to pigeon-hole): their music is near-impossible to compare with too many others. Such is their sense of individuation and emancipation, that you catch the most fleeting whiffs of others. That said, the above are a pretty good overview and guide- if you have any of these acts in your record collection, then add Braver than Fiction to it.

The title track is the first taste of King of Crows. With a ghostly and cackling crow cry, there is an atmospheric and eerie opening few seconds- you are transported to a desolate and haunting scene; just you and the beady-eyed stare of the feathered enemies. After a male voice interjects “I’ve got the king of crows“- in a stirring and emphatic belt- the song tumbles underway: soulful and jazzy keys flirt and roll; the introduction has a merriment and uplifting dance to it- the listener is offered solace and relief after frightening beginnings. Changing the song’s course- in a few seconds- it is a fantastic twist that subverts expectation and peaks your fascination. Backed by a tomahawk percussive slam, the delirious coda gets into your mind- before our heroine steps to the mic. Her voice is dead-ahead and determined- there is anxiety on her mind and she has some burden to unload. Stating that there are troubles on her mind; issues and problems weighing her down like “stones in my pocket“, you get an instant sense that our young lead has had to tolerate and balance quite a lot- her mind is wracked and fatigued by demands and emotions. Dragged down to a paranoia ocean, I got the impression that maybe love was being looked at: perhaps her man has caused her to doubt his loyalty and honesty- this in turn has caused our heroine to question and turn-over events. The angst and strain of the opening exchanges is made lighter by the lustful and excited composition- it acts as a ballast and makes things sound oddly chipper. Everything that was held firm; all beliefs and convictions are now “dead in the water“- torpedoed and sunk without a trace. Our lead keeps her cards close to chest: not revealing whether romantic heartache is at the fore- or general woes- the listener is left to imagine and theorise. I get the feeling that a key event has triggered this wave of outpouring- it has compelled words that point towards an unsure and confused mind. The emotion and crack- there is a brief second where you could swear she gets a catch in her throat- starts to permeate towards the 1:00 marker. Back in the kitchen with another glass of wine- the sound effect of a dropped glass is a nice touch- provides evocative detail: whatever problems are being tackled, this is not the first time that they have occurred. If you examine it physiologically or detached, you come to the same conclusion: our heroine has encountered her share of sorrow and pain. Wondering how long it is going to last “this time“, the rousing pace- the vocal keeps firm and fast-paced- lends an air of desperation to proceedings. Not content to play games- with her suitor- she has nothing to lose. It seems that her boy has been toying with her brain; filling it with lies and woe, it has come to a climax- there is no way she is going to walk in “dead man’s shoes.” Having already relegated her man from her thoughts, our heroine is upping and leaving- walking away from a situation that is creating nothing but grief. There is no need for a messiah or divine light: the “mystic mojo” she possess is all hers- and has never steered her wrong. Whether an intuition or sexual weapon, she needs no help or guidance- her mind is made and she has plans afoot. With the king of crows by her, she can do no wrong. Whether a literal crow- or a euphemism for a better man- I am not too sure. The ball park-themed organ dizziness is superseded by a rampant and strung-out electric guitar parable: weaving, contorting and baying for flesh, it introduces some Blues-Rock and Alternative energy into proceedings- seeing the song change course once more. Captured by the spirited and authoritative line, the listener is stood to attention- wondering just what the song will be offering next. When back at the mic., our heroine seems more firm and resilient- her cryptic words paint some vivid possibilities. Seeing her man’s hand, we are in the poker realm: bluffing and trying to keep a straight face, her honey can “walk away a winner.” It is the singer that will be crowned the winner: her disreputable and no-good man has destroyed too much; reduced her kingdom to a dust- the mighty edifice has been dissolved into a state of disrepair. Seeking answers at the bottom of the bottle, our heroine is washing her hands- keen to eradicate the memory of her sweetheart. The infectiousness of the chorus- that distinct organ line tied with some chorused vocals- gives the song a redemptive and infused ending- by the final notes you feel that things will work out just fine. With the king of crows on her side, a better life awaits. Candle-blind comes up next- it intrigues right from the off. Building from a few seconds of silence; finger-clicking sway welcomes the song in. Laid-back and Jazz-influenced, the opening moments mingle smooth and luxurious organ seductions with astute and disciplined percussive beats- joined with tender guitar notes. Our heroine is more serene and teasing here: her voice is relaxed but smoky; captivating and emotive- bringing her words fully to life. Showing her flair and talent for striking words, Lampro’s fingers are “stained like old tattoos/Of every word I scored for you.” Not only incredible opening words; there is a sense of mystery and obliqueness to the lines- you wonder just what is being referred to. The sense of wonder and grand emotion never desist; when words such as “Bright of eye and dark of wing” are unfurled, that repressed and shadowy feel come over; mystique and ambiguity presents itself- you are left to imagine the truth behind the words. I felt that love was being looked at again: maybe a man is not quite as fascinating and impressive as once thought- causing words that look at pain and deathly hallows. The beauty of the lyrics- on this track- are their lack of directness- the likes of Cohen and Dylan would be proud of the poetic nature of Candle-blind. Guitar and organ are back in the agenda: the former stands out front and rallies with intention- manful and enforcing, it fires a rifle-load of concrete and Blues-edged grit into the track. A gorgeous reminder of Stevie Nicks (and even Janis Joplin) come into play: when singing “Faking for a living thing/Shadows of my carrion king“, a gravelled and musty (cigarette-ravaged) sound projects- far sexier and more Teutonic than you would imagine. Quite a rare and beautiful sound, the smoky and desirable vocal sound draws you closer- as you investigate the story unfolding. With her tones lighter, our heroine has her screaming bones picked; wanting someone to “Clean this criminal debris“- an ocean of images flood to mind. Whether enraptured in the gravity of a sorrowful situation; conquered by the unforgiving situation of life; a shadow of herself, you are enticed and seduced by the weight of the words- our heroine ensures that each listener comes away with different impressions and ideals. As the next verse dawns, those mesmerising tones come back to play: crackling, purring and growling, a myriad of colour and power is thrown in- the authoritative delivery makes sure that full focus is with her. Advising the man to stare- “I won’t even look behind“- he seems to be obsessing on something: whether infatuated in love or unable to drop an issue, you imagine the latter is more likely. Perhaps relations have hit the rocks; the ship has been sunk- it is clear that an untenable state has been reached. The man is defining and characterising; being cruel and judgemental- our heroine is “finer than the world you’re dying in.” When lyrics are too defined and simplistic, the mystery and beauty of a song can be robbed: here there is room for manoeuver; so many different avenues that every line has a distinction and sense of purpose. When parping and rousing organs join with elocutionary guitar, that passion and tension augments- it is a foolish and senseless man who crosses and displeases Lampro. Past the half-way mark, Mr. Jones (Fear of Falling) arrives. A terrifically curious and teasing Blues-Rock ember sparks the song: beginning with funky and grooving guitar notes, the organ soon comes to play- adding in some playfulness, it is a perfect lead-in for the vocal. Our heroine is the “devotee of Newton’s Theory“- wondering how her subject could get to her. Perhaps gripped by something headier and more impassioned, you get a feeling of coquettishness and reservation- the relationship is moving too fast and intensely. Keen to keep her feelings “pinned to terra firma“, our heroine is reserved (about jumping in with) both feet: the fear of falling and seeing things break is not a prospect she wants realised. The romantic tussle and dazed atmosphere comes out in the voice- with hot-bloodied passion and tantalised aches, is a terrific and vibrant performance. Lampro’s voice is (perhaps) at its strongest in this number: whipping up such a beautiful sound, there are touches of the greats of Soul- our heroine has a more youthful quality to her voice, but lacks none of the punch and panache. Delirious in the throngs of potential, she flees outside; the air is cool and a dance is ellicited- with the stars as a compass, an unexpected southern mist blows in. When Lampro wants to summon romantic and picturesque, she does it better than most- you can see every scene; smell and see everything with crystal clarity. In the heady brew of the night’s mystery, Mr. Jones has caused quite a furor: with the peppermint-tasting mist in her lips, the heroine sees her heart float “fifty feet above the ground” (quite a charmer and stunner, the hero is causing some girlish glee). Keen to not break the pendulous swing, the next verse comes up: our heroine is in the atmosphere and hanging upside down- floating in the clouds, “it’s a beautiful view.” Contrasting the tension and unhappiness of previous songs, it is great to see some positivity and paen come through- her man moves through the clouds in a way no-one else does. In spite of the seeming bliss and contentment, there is a feeling of unnerve and hesitancy. Afraid of the heights of emotion, perhaps our heroine has never been this high before- the mesmerising love is something new and strange. She cannot be left alone; Mr. Jones has taken her to the heavens- if he were to let her fall, she may not recover. A supportive and guiding hand is sought; the conviction and passionate beauty of Lampro’s vocal- tied to her unique delivery and projection- lodges the song in your mind- at points I catch glimpses of singers like Bonnie Tyler, Jacqui Abbot, Stevie Nicks and Eva Cassidy. The band make sure proceedings are funky; mixing jazzy dance with soulful swing; Blues-Rock jamming nudges in too- a veritable buffet of tantalising sounds gives the song a hugely memorable and colourful- skin. Taking things into sweaty and sexual realms, the two adjourn to home: desiring her man thrice-daily, there is no need for sweetener- our heroine has a very clear motive on her mind. Sticking with medical themes- her love is a medical enigma it is said- she does not need water to swallow; her man can be hooked straight to her veins. With head swimming- and unsure if she is breathing or drowning- there is little room for doubt- you know that this one is going to have a very happy ending indeed. After the spellbound luster of the previous number, Once Bitten, Twice Shy provides comparative demure and introspectiveness. A gorgeous and elliptical piano introduction gives the track some early romance- this will lead to warnings and detachment. Sporting the finest intro. on the set; the combination of spiraling piano, proud and firm percussion is awe-inspiring- it is an incredible fusion of Jazz-Rock, Blues, Soul and Pop. Keen to keep the music going, our heroine’s wordless belt enters the spotlight- her voice is at its most convincing and imploring here. Her man has left her and walked away from the relationship: if he ever changes his mind, our heroine’s heart will not be so “easy to fall.” Fed up of being messed-around and duped, a barrier is put up: the rules are being laid out and clear rules set in place. Imbued with such a force and incredible power, the vocal is a thing of wonder- you are trapped under its spell. Our heroine’s man is a cheater and lacks any ethics and morals- keen to not be fooled and led astray, the song pushes against her boy’s come-ons (and seductive missives). Joining Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Nicks- into the back of her voice- the song is backed by a splendid range of tones and emotions- nothing but utter conviction and intention comes through. Perhaps the two have a complex history: trapped in the relationship, the issue of trust is never going to go away. Set-up by an evocative and slinking Blues-Rock guitar whisper, our heroine becomes more entrenched in doubt- it seems that “nothing is right/When nothing is wrong“. Displaying a Dylan-esque eye for striking and unforgettable couplets, following in its wake is: “So why do we fight/Just to get along?” The way Lampro rolls her words; repeats syllables; stutters and paces her words is incredibly intoxicating and effective: the lines are distinguish, highlighted and coated in layers of emotions- you cannot escape their immense potency. Where as previous songs have been bolstered by organ and guitar; here piano takes the lead- arriving near the mid-way point to elicit an entrancing and divine punctuation. The band’s epic, the track is 6:30 of exorcism and honesty- the vividity and stirring soul never lets go. Doing a deal with the devil at the crossroads; our heroine will drive her man “round the bend“- not wanting him to come back ever again- the clear emotion ringing in the vocal. With the sort of grandeur and epic proportions- befitting of a movie soundtrack or score to an intense emotional scene- the song is a stunning and vote-stealing epic. The band is by no means left in the shadows: percussion gives shivers and drive; the bass keeps proceedings controlled and in check- the guitar is a snarling and rampant sound that adds electrification and fire into the song. When all these elements combine- around that stunning vocal- it is a perfect moment- few other songs gave me quite the same chill as Once Bitten, Twice Shy. As it comes to an end, earlier words are repeated: our heroine wants her man to look her in the eye; try to rustle up some pure honesty- knowing that he will never change his ways. There is a certain sadness and defeat to be found: if things had been different then it could have been wonderful; the lying lover has wrecked a potentially golden love. A sweeping and indelible swan-song, it brings the E.P. to a close- leaving you quite in awe of things. With notes and lines still turning in your mind, part of you wants to hear more- that sense of desire lingers after the final notes.

I shall get to the band themselves- handing out recommendations, plaudits and praise. The public have the opportunity to hear King of Crow‘s quartet of beauties- an E.P. that is incredibly impressive and assured. A record that gets better as the songs progress, it is the work of a band that are getting stronger with each release- their confidence and effect grows larger and more emphatic with every track they unveil. The production on the disc is phenomenally appropriate and evocative: sounding like a bona fide live recording, it mixes the professionalism and comfort of the studio with the atmosphere and unique energy of the stage. Intimate and embracing, the songs make you feel as though the band are performing in your bedroom- I was listening on an iPad, so definitely need to hear the songs through proper speakers. Given that my listening experience was via a laptop, who knows how immense and emotive it will sound through the majesty of stereo speakers? What I do know is that one of this year’s most unexpected treats has been offered. I discovered Braver than Fiction via a music writing contact (on Twitter): lucky to be in the right place at the right time, I was compelled to investigate the band. Having fallen in love with Your Little Fantasy, I was expecting an E.P. that followed the same sort of lines: what one actually witnesses is something different and hugely surprising. I do not mean the word in a negative sense- quite the opposite. The band have defied expectations and created a four-track release that can rank alongside the most compelling of 2014. The quintet clearly have plans for the future; ammunition and creative fertility is all there- one suspects new material will not be too far away. Having conducted social media straw polls, the initial early feedback is universally positive: people are falling in love with the grace, power and intelligence of Braver than Fiction’s latest progeny. Not contented to narrow focus or stick with one subject, the four tracks go from anger and accusation to longing and inflamed passion- right along to deceit and cheating. Before I wrap up my summary, let me congratulate the band themselves. Bass work from Adam gives the tracks a tight backbone and sense of direction. His notes enforce the power of each track; add a host of mixed emotions and shades- keeping the atmosphere compelling and unpredictable (from start to finish). Jason’s keyboard work adds beauty and passion in spades. When on organ, a churlish and infantile glee mixes with hypnotic and feet-moving joy- adding positivity and immense rush into proceedings. The piano offerings do the opposite: tenderness and still beauty are presented: adding romantic and tender stillness, his contributions are stellar and consistently incredible. Martin’s guitars provide shout, shots and raw, ashen emotion- roaring and contorted at once; restrained and calming the next, his influence is essential and emphatic. When solo-ing and allowing the guitar to pervade, some of the E.P.’s most startling and stand-out moments occur. Paul takes on drumming duties: his stick work is the heartbeat that makes sure the music does not die or wane; it keeps the soul in tact and resolute. Never needlessly overpowering or incensed, it makes sure (our heroine) is supported and suitably backed up- offering security, assurance and weight- the percussion adds spark and punch to King of Crows. It is Mel Lampro that stole my heart: her performance and contributions make sure every song on the E.P. grips you fully. The band- as a whole- are tremendous and tight; the leadership and central gravity is immense and unforgettable. As a songwriter, the lyrics compel and fascinate: when oblique your mind races for possible answers and detail; when direct they take you aback; when cooing and romantic they make you sigh. A songwriter clearly inspired my the greats of music, Lampro shows a huge range and emotional colour chart: always instilling intelligence, wit and conviction into her songs, there are no wasted words or lazy afterthoughts- few writers have such an accuracy and impressive strike rate. The compositions are full, stunning and cinematic- filled with wonderful details and moments, the songs show new insights with every listen. It is the vocal performances that resonate in my mind. Possessed of a huge and soulful power, the emotion and stirring passion that is presented takes the breath away. Youthful and honest; aged and ravaged- at times- Lampro’s multifarious and stunning pipes make each song sound utterly insistent and urgent- the listener is pinned and seduced with ample ease. The band themselves are able to master Folk, Alternative, Soul, Blues-Rock and Indie themes; each player adapts and camouflages themselves when called for- the vocal is able to shift from delicious and seductive realms to a whiskey-soaked growl- sometimes in the space of a few notes. Especially impressive on Once Bitten, Twice Shy, Lampro has the potential to be one of the country’s ‘voices to watch.’ In age of reality talent shows and depressingly slender singers, I am glad that genuine and epically-proportioned vocalists still can be found- I hope that our heroine has many years in the music industry. If you have not snapped up King of Crows, you have to do so: it is a quartet of songs designed for every type of person- those in love; those in the midst of a break-up; the casual observer is tempted in. With so much emotion, movement and colour coming under the band’s microscope, King of Crows is the amplification and polarisation of their hard work- a collection of tracks that highlight what a firm and tight unit they are. Let’s just hope the quintet come and entrance some London venues before this year is through.

I know I have rabbited for quite a while- I always err towards loquaciousness when an act is as terrific (as Braver than Fiction). Not content to be as good as everyone else, they are one of this country’s most fertile and imposing acts. Their sounds look back at the likes of Tom Waits, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin; instill some essence and urgency of the modern music scene- stir it in with their distinct blend of heart, guts, boldness and fascination. King of Crows is a sterling work that showcases just how potent a force they are- I recommend that everyone snap the E.P. up. In love with the finest that music has provided the world, the Sheffield band instill a whisper of their essence into their palette. Their patented blend of Blues-Rock and Folk touches is compelling and gripping- filled with beauty and passion into the bargain. With such incredible performances throughout, they are a group that are in no danger of tiring or going separate ways. Clearly music means a hell of a lot to them- I hope that the release of the E.P. sees them in huge demand. At the moment, the band are ready for the release of King of Crows; having seen 100 limited edition (of the E.P.) pressed-  each band member personally signed them. Such a fastidious and astute eye for detail and attention shows just how much music resonate and hits them- you will not find many other bands that have such a passion and admiration for the form. These are the early days for a group that have a lot of potential: it will be great to see how they blossom and flourish. The band’s local fans are snapping up the limited edition release of the E.P.: enthralled and seduced by the wondrous music provided, legions are keen to clasp Braver than Fiction to their bosom. This bodes well for the future months: the confidence and support they are gaining is sure to see their creative mind let is juices flow- possibly an album or new E.P. will arrive in 2015? Before I conclude my review, I will finish off my looking at the band market in general. Having seen everyone- over the last few weeks- from the likes of Allusondrugs, The 48K’s and Broken 3 Ways; I am amazed by the diversity and sheer quality that is being provided. Everything from Indie to Punk-Ska- through to Grunge- is seeing some bold and striking acts amaze listening ears- it bodes well for the future of music. There are plenty of effete and minor acts out there- not adding much to the musical landscape- but with acts such as Braver than Fiction coming through, there is no need to have any doubts: the quintet have plenty of years ahead of them. The band sector is the most in-demand and hotly-contested aspect of music: the next few years will demonstrate which of them have the legs and pace to make it into the mainstream. The key to ensuring success and continued demand is to provide interest and something deeper- differentiate your motifs from your contemporaries. Braver than Fiction certainly have few like-minded and similar competitors; they have a flair and energy that I cannot link to anyone else; a songbook that is distinctly theirs- instilled with deeply personal touches; drawing in sonic embers of some wonderful past musicians. The bold and brave Sheffield band will see their E.P. fall into the hands of a range of different music fans and supporters. Their music has compelled me to get in touch with other reviewers; see if they can focus King of Crows in their blogs/pages (and contact Lampro directly)- get the word out and spread the joy. The darndest thing happens when I take my mind to Yorkshire: each experience brings something new and wonderfully impressive. Keen to detox for a little while- and not be spoiled by riches- it will be fascinating to see what the county offers in the coming months. With the likes of Braver than Fiction doing their bidding, they are writing a stunning and ambitious chapter…

ONE that is well worth reading.

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Track Review: Bi:Lingual- Subject Number





Subject Number



Subject Number is available to pre-order from:


4th August, 2014

℗ 2014 Bi:Lingual


Jamie “Jampott” Donnelly


Jamie “Jampot” Donnelly and Kurtis Brudenell


Rock, Hip-Hop, Rap.


Incorporating elements of early-career Rage Against the Machine, The Streets, Plan B and Beastie Boys- together with lyrics that highlight a very relevant modern-day problem- you should embrace and follow Bi:Lingual. Subject Number is the sound of angry young men trying to change the world: their Rap/Hip-Hop-cum-Rock rush is one of the most essential cuts of 2014.


WHEN it comes to daring in music, there are

not too many that takes real risks. In new music, there is a certain degree of adventurousness- bands and acts mix genres and different sounds together. As far as I can see, there are limits and confines: even those that broaden their horizons have an air of predictability to them. I love all that new music has to offer up: the new sounds and opinions; great songs that come from nowhere; beautiful and tender songs- everything in-between. One of the problems- when it comes to being pioneering- is the amount of risk involved: if you mingle sounds without too much consideration, you risk spoiling your music. I have seen so many different acts merge disparate and diverse genres: Rock and Soul are lazily put together; Indie and Grunge are fused- with little regard for consistency and coherence- few manage to successfully pull this feat off. When an act does manage to provide daring and unexpected sonic treats, it makes the music that much stronger- taking your mind from the predictable; putting it somewhere quite fantastic. As much as I have mentioned the necessity of hard-edged music- Rock, Indie, Grunge etc.- I have probably heard most combinations, formations and avenues- there is fantastic music to be found, yet little shock or huge originality. I feel that more bands and acts should be broadening their horizons; stretching their ambitions and offering up something truly unique and daring. Before I introduce my featured act, they raise a valid subject: Rock and Rap. Balkanized and distant cousins, the two rarely come together: they hang in different crowds and share different personalities. When musicians have conjoined the genres, the results have often been quite calamitous. Often the rapping is ineffectual and plain embarrassing; the Rock element distilled and vague- I struggle to find too many artists that have successfully combined the two. In the past there have been acts that have achieved this mean feat- I shall mention them in more detail later- yet modern-day acts fail to confound and stand out. It seems like such a shame really: so many new artists have a timidity and risklessness; meaning new music very much has limitations and boundaries. Those that push beyond these- step away from what is ‘expected’- some magic and fascination can be unearthed. I have another point to raise, but before I do, let me introduce you to my featured act:

Dylan Teague

George Louca

Aaron Lythe

Stephanos Louca

Bi:Lingual. The name says it all. Two cultures, one unorthodox language. We’ve seen the failures of rock and rap colliding in an ill-aesthetic form, but nothing succeeds like this. The front mans Afro brings more than a sense of style to the scruffs of the band, it brings a sense of security to the rap that forebodes. Baring witness to the waves of locks that behead the multi-talented rhythm section scream out we’re loud, we’re angry and the apathy we hold towards those who hate, presents the idealistic irrationality of them against the world. And Bi:Lingual are just that. A pure source to be reckoned with. Untainted and unashamed. They are what they are, and if you don’t like it you can go suck a dick. Penniless but not hopeless they’re here to stay whether you like it or not. But chances are when that kick drum, heavily fuzzed bass and guitar kick in to the pop orientated but ear drum shattering chorus, that Bilingual have made their trademark, your dick and your brain will blow, and swell, and vibrate to the point that an unconscious rattle in your head protrudes to a steady head bop that simply cannot be controlled. You are drawn in and intoxicated, and take my word for it, in a world so ugly, that’s what we need.

The angry young men have a lot of seething rage inside- they do make valid points. Aside from warnings of penile explosions; among the pseudo-philosophy; next to the oral sex invitations- their biography gives a glimpse into some pretty special musicians. It brings me to my second point: sonic innovation. Bi:Lingual have a degree of pent-up rage; they are innovators of the pretty reckless; they dare to be different and provide music not often heard- they are to be commended on this fact. Rebelling against those that offer hate and detachment, the boys have hit upon a sound that is perfect for these times: in a world that is getting less pretty with each day- their brand of scintillating and heady music is just what we need. There are plenty of acts and artists that can give you something beautiful and tender; those that have a melodious and well-considered approach to songwriting- sometimes what you need is something urgent, direct and utterly addictive. That seems to be missing a lot from the current scene- new bands are artists seem to lacking that necessary clout. Every Indie and Rock band that comes through shows a degree of rawness and primal passion; their songs project a modicum of violence- few remain in the memory in that particular sense. Grunge acts perhaps do it a little better; they can enforce some dominance and rage into their agenda- too many go straight for the jugular without thinking about the overall sound. What makes Bi:Lingual so impressive is the fact that expertly blend Rap and Rock: succeeding where others have failed, the boys summon up the edge and danger of Rap with the popularity and traditions of Rock- blended in their own inimitable way, their music is something you would not have heard too often. What makes them such a tantalising proposition- aside from their daring- is the amount of layers and flavours they put into their songs. They do not simply lump some Rap vocals over striking and stirring riffs- hoping that this will be enough to differentiate themselves from the masses. You can tell that intelligence, study and authority mandates their music: they have a clear love of past masters (of Rap and Rock); seamlessly fusing myriad sounds into their boiling pot- they have made sure that what they give to the public is of the highest order. The band’s lack of homogenization works in their favour: so many current acts do not mix cultures, nationalities and races- a lack of diversity enforces their make-up. Bi:Lingual mix languages in a very different way: musical languages that are never usually united in harmony. Clandestine and nervous, the group win you over due to the depth of their sounds; the ambition and sheer force that they provide- you just know how honestly they want to win you over. Before I progress, it is worth noting their business plan: the necessity to rally against the apathetic. Whether speaking politically- or musically- there is too much shoulder-shrugging and non-committal mutterings among the young: my generation seem happy to watch from a concrete balustrade as the world passes them by- when the time comes for them to stand up and take action, they do nothing. This can be applied to music too: few are willing to embrace unexpected and daring sounds; connect with politicised and spiking messages- more contended to embrace something less heady and oppressive. Whilst this natural instinct is coded in our D.N.A.; if you are unwilling to flee rather than commit- you miss out on some truly terrific music. Bi:Lingual are proponents of a new form of sound: something that is guaranteed to get your body moving; puts messages and truths into your skull- leave you feeling very different about yourself and music itself.

A lot of readers are probably new discoverers of Bi:Lingual- unaware of their past work and where they came from. For a fuller and more rounded experience of the band, it is worth looking back and hearing where they came from. Their debut E.P. came about in April, 2013. Entitled Do Misa, it was a quartet of tracks that showcased how strong the band were- right from the off. Such a tremendous mix of sounds and styles mingle over the four songs. Delilah has Pixie-esque backing strings; a ’80s/’90s Grunge/Indie mood lingers behind; guitar riffs arrive to explode and overwhelm- the percussion starts softer before becoming enraptured and devilish. At the forefront is a vocal expounding a love that cannot be broken: seeking Delilah, she seems to have fled and run away- our hero wants to capture her and bring her back. Menace and anger lurk with something more restrained: the projection is quick-fire but never demented (or lacking control). Showcasing the band’s signature blend of quiet and loud, it is a song that lodges in your head- an early classic. Songs such as The Scene and Zoology expand on this and offer up some new flair and fascination- the band inject more raucousness along these numbers; keeping alive a firm and contrite sense of measure and musicianship. The compositions are just as developed and alive; capable of seducing listeners with the faintest of notes. Growing Pains sees more primal lust and pound: the riffs are more demonic and intent; the vocal more direct and insistent- possibly the closest song that one can compare with Subject Number. On an E.P. that highlighted many sides and emotions, the band hit the ground running- it is a deep and compelling work that proffered a band with a clear ambition. Most acts would present a debut that was held-back and muted- the boys waste no time in separating themselves aside from the pack. A few short months later (in August), Doppelganger was unleashed. This brief interlude would suggest that a few half-decent tracks would be unfurled- the E.P. contains six quite brilliant numbers. Spiderwebs has crunchy and bouncing underpinnings; catchy riffs that have an air of Nirvana- the vocals tumble and rush forth. Investigating such topics as talent shows and the people who win them; the band wonder what the point is- what are they actually worth? With a chanted and bolstered vocal, it is endlessly gripping and intent. The band showcase their lyrical flair and inventiveness: weaving lines with a breathless pace; presenting topics that are relevant and true- tied to compositions that is endlessly fascinating. The E.P.’s title track sees Blues-Rock crunch come in- with some Jack White and Jimi Hendrix coming to the fore- as the band whip up a firestorm. The lyrics see dormant volcanoes, rivers of excrement and tension a plenty- the vocals see our hero forced to survive; impress the critics; survive vehicular carnage. Delivered like a sermon, the pace and passion of the delivery builds on their debut work- the band increase their confidence and sense of urgency. Some of Eminem’s venom and sound come out in the backing vocals- polydactyl and primeval psychedelic give the song a lustful and ’60s feel. Pluto is more low-down and rumbling; with some primitive anger it blends soft and loud; rage and temporized measure conspire- the track is one of the most interesting cuts on Doppelganger. Although Do Misa is an emphatic and stunning debut, their follow-up built up and cemented the band’s sound: the ambition and range grew; the songs more detailed and layered. Although there was no need for a huge sonic leap, songs like Spiderwebs compel you to listen over and over- elements of The Streets breathe in the frantic and mesmerising delivery. Given that Subject Number is a more brutal and attacking piece, some people may think that the band offer nothing but this. Their E.P.s show their full potential: tuneful jams and Blues-Rock swing are as synonymous as pulverising and demonised rushes- there is such a lot to be discovered; they appeal to all listeners. The biggest development- from last year’s output- is the sense of passion and directness- their latest cut is the most direct and impassioned number they have ever turned in. I would thoroughly recommend you check out Bi:Lingual’s back catalogue- there is so much pleasure and quality to be found. The last year has seen the boys look out on the world and events unfolding- the way they deliver Subject Number is imbued with as much anger and dissatisfaction as I have heard (from them). Any future E.P.s or album is likely to see similar tracks pervade; as the group have proved, there will be plenty of colour and light among the darker moments.

It is hard to draw too many comparisons when thinking of Bi:Lingual- the boys have such a unique flair and sound that it would do them a disservice. That said, they have some influences- intentional or not- that can be extrapolated from their music. One of the less obvious sources of inspiration is The Mars Volta. The Texan Prog.-Rock band mix Hispanic and Latin-influenced sounds with harder and more squalling Rock- works like Frances the Mute are spellbinding. Our boys put me in mind of The Mars Volta (and that album): they provide a heady thrill-ride; there is no pomposity or over-indulgence- instead it is nerve-shredding and primal; combining Hip-Hop and Classic-Rock, it is a cornucopia of music. Bi:Lingual have similar qualities and embers: their music sound like blueprints for live shows; that raw and open sound enforces their music’s directness- the songs reveal themselves across multiple listens and investigations. Our boys provide visceral moments and some degree of absurdity; impressive ambition as well as human emotion and beauty- very much like The Mars Volta. The Texas band are masters of confounding the mind and bamboozling the sense- their dizzying array of sounds and intentions overcome the senses. Bi:Lingual have a comparable gift and weight to them- their latest offering shows just how intense and gripping they can sound. A lot of commentators have compared the band to Beastie Boys- fair given that the two share some similar skin. Although our lads perhaps offer more spit and overt rage- than the U.S. legends- there are plenty of similar aspects one can draw. Beastie Boys probably hits their peak in the mid-late period of the ’90s: albums such as Hello Nasty certainly seduced critics. That album is probably the best starting-point when it comes to comparing Bi:Lingual. Our lads provide enough party and sense of celebration to put you in the mind (of that album’s mood)- there is festival and joy to be heard in their music. A veritable feast of sounds, the album mixes Lounge, Hip-Hop and free-spirit (of ’60s Psychedelia)- Bi:Lingual appropriate this sense of ambition and luster. Their melange of sounds never rest or relent- they display the same clear sense of daring and experimentation. The vocal performances (of our lads) perhaps contain some of the New York giants: that unique delivery and fascinating tonal regard is showcased in tracks like Spiderwebs. The anger and impassioned belt that comes through in Sabotage and Root Down rally and scream- sleaze and filth lies down in the cracks of the album. Beastie Boys mixed subjects like marriage, religion, corporate slackdom and modern-life communities; swirled it around samples, myriad genres and stunning ambition- to create wonderful results. Bi:Lingual have a clear and comparable gift that has already been highlighted- sure to be found on future releases. Another U.S. source of influence is Rage Against the Machine. Possibly the most obvious comparison; Bi:Lingual invoke a lot of Zack de la Rocha’s venom and insane vocal bite. The Rap-Metal band’s self-titled debut was such a terrific work because of the band relationships. With peers and contemporaries trying to match the band’s majesty and grandeur- and failing- the sympatico and bond between del la Roucha and Tom Morello (the band guitarist) is key- delivered by suburban white boys that had as much conviction as any of Rap’s most notable forerunners. The rebelliousness and emotionally-charged candour that was abound in R.A.T.M. can be compared to Bi:Lingual’s current movements- Subject Number marries Wake Up, Killing in the Name and Take the Power Back. Back in 1992- as of now- few acts were capable of fusing intelligent and meaningful lyrics with fiery and combustible compositions- our boys have a similar essentialness and towering muscle and grit. The way Rage’ expertly tie Rap, Metal and ’80s Hip-Hop together made their debut- and subsequent records- so fascinating and full. Bi:Lingual manage to summon the same emotions and conviction in their work- it will be fascinating to see if an album of theirs can match the heights of Rage Against the Machine. The final American comparable goes to Jimi Hendrix. In a few of the songs- across Doppelganger and Do Misa, the band unleash furious and psychedelic guitar riffs- putting you in mind of Hendrix’s finest work. Although not on the same rarefied plateau, there is an essence of the guitar master: the innate need to infuse the guitar with as much lustful brilliance and ragged and raw sexuality (comes out in Bi:Lingual’s music). Our band have a great ear for the terrific guitar sounds of the ’60s and ’70s- they can incorporate elements of Hendrix and his insatiable appetite for sonic danger. The last two influences I will mention are Plan B and The Streets. Two British Rap/Hip-Hop acts, the intrepid newcomers manage to tangle the street scenes and social commentary of both acts; the range and diversity of their music- adapt it for their own means and ambitions. As well as Ill Communication being a source of inspiration (for our lads), Ill Manors comes to mind. Plan B’s latest disc, it was the soundtrack for disaffected and impoverished youth: talking about the poor and needy; the kids on the streets- the danger and sense of anger that lurked in the minds of many. Politicised and potent, the album is purposeful, solid and a modern-day milestone: a relevant and pertinent sound of modern life Britain. Bi:Lingual have the ear trained to the streets: they know just how much of a struggle life is- how hard it can be to make your name and mark heard. Too many kids and musicians get hand-outs from talent shows; made fat with ill-deserved fame- too many people have to fend for themselves on dangerous streets. Sensing how much displeasure and disgust there is, our lads distill this into their music- soundtrack the voices of modern youth; add in political messages and their own spiked mandates- to score sounds that equal the potency and direction of Ben Drew. There is bleakness, obscenity and fear in Plan B’s vocals- he explores avenues other rappers are scared to tread. Bi:Lingual have a comparable braveness and fearless intent: they can inject foul-mouthed anger with intelligent and relevant codas; project appropriate panic and grime into the palette- wrapped up in brilliant hooks and diverse sonic soundscapes. The Streets is another name that comes to the mind. Original Pirate Material (his emphatic and eponymous debut) looked at being skint; eating chips and getting drunk- it was an album made genuine by someone who has been in that position- and experienced a harsh life. Mike Skinner blends humour and wit with social commentary and pugnacious prophecy: Bi:Lingual have a terrific ear for good-natured humour and unique phrasing- making Garage elements fresh and rejuvenated. Whereas Eminem projects his wit with a degree of insanity, The Streets place observance and truth above all else- the debut cut was rife with poetry, hard-hitting honest and free-association rapping. Few contemporaries convincingly update Skinner’s voice; keep that torch burning- ensure that 2014 Britain has relevant and important heroes. Bi:Lingual- alongside artists such as Kate Tempest- are deserving of equal acclaim: their movements suggest bold and creative voices that are in tune with the needs and pains of this generation- able to translate their pain and suffering into brilliant music. The urgency and conviction the likes of The Streets and Plan B utter is infectious and unforgettable: Bi:Lingual understand the world today- and the hardships faced- able to evoke this in their brilliant songs. Having given you a sense of where our boys come from- who inspire their mind- what their ambitions are- I better get down to reviewing Subject Number.

The song begins in a blitz of obscurantism; darkened in flagrante delicto as our frontman lets his words spit with fury and venom. It is said that “Pissing is a business“: surveying people who advertise their pictures, the hero is ignoring the “viciousness“- right from the off you are not allowed breath or any chance for surveyance. Signs of early-career The Streets and Plan B come to mind- particularly the latter- with that same direct and pleasing tone; authoritative and striking words- the band are laying down the law and making their intentions known. Perhaps aimed at the hollowness, celebrity and iniquity of modern-day Rock, the sting is directed at musicians and people who turn Rock into a “little bitch.” Rallying against a lack of adventurousness, passion or true spirit, it is a mandate to shake the modern-day Rock ‘n’ Roll purveyors- the first frantic ten seconds shows its anger towards people (who exploit their gift for arrogance and anger); the people who have no regard for the reality and true nature of music. Before any more words can be expounded, an exploding and rampant riff unfolds: the band get into R.A.T.M. territory to summon an annihilating and furious spell of deliriousness- pummeling in the mosh pit, the band are showing how Rock should be played- there is no room for tenderness and vagueness here, sir. Defined by crunching and monster riffs; furiously demented percussion; taut and psychotic bass, the coda gets inside of your brain- invigorates your fists to raise themselves aloft; implores rebellion and repressed tension to come pouring forth. A strangely catchy and addictive parable, you want it stay and play- caught in its combination of bonhomie-cum-feral vengeance, it is a stonewall blissed-out jam- the type Tom Morello would sever his head to get a hold of. Giving the music a spirit to infatuate, our hero is back on the mic.- ready to let his words tumble some more. Wondering how we have progressed from vinyl “to downloads“- aghast at the mindlessness and impersonalness of music- you can sense the annoyance and fatigue in his delivery. There is no bolshiness or impetuousness to be found: I feel similarly when it comes to music; we are in danger of losing the physical art of albums and songs- soon everything will be a ghost in the corporate machine. Our hero is in the quandary of an ill predicament: surrounded by “shit bands” and mind-numbing repellency, his words burn in the bonfire- raging against the serene; where the hell has the true essence gone?! Well, judging by the psychotropic recklessness and energy of Subject Number, it is right here: take note all you posing effeminate bands. With no musical reasons (why labels would “sign those“) you are entranced in the staccato and waterfall flow of the words: syncopated at times; purulent and determined the next; the pace and rapid-fire potency grabs you and drags you in- your mind is fully ensconced in the song’s vivid images. Displaying their innate wit (and ability to weave humour against pathos), the next lines are quite illuminating. Our hero lets it be known most bands just want their faces on “contraceptives and bobbleheads“- I know J.L.S. had their own brand of condom; there are too many jokes in there; I will get distracted. Everyone can emphasise and relate to our man’s plight: the commercialisation and celebrity brand (that comes with music) is polluting the water- too many new acts want to be media messiahs and tabloid fodder. If you are more concerned with having your own line of perfume or clothing, then you are in music for the wrong reasons- the acts that go down this road are unanimously awful and pointless. Not just confined to boy and girl bands, many ‘proper’ musicians are letting the cloak and dagger aspect of business cloud their judgement. The money and profit (bands will be reaping) does not equate to respectability and credibility: if your motives are driven by financial reward, then get the hell out of music. The cloying and nauseating fans- who snap up their branded merchandise- are just as culpable: funneling funds into the sludge, they are fueling this pernicious trend. Backed by an insatiable and overwhelming swagger, our frontman lets his voice mutate and develop- from the previous parable of scattershot Rap, we now go into Metal and R.A.T.M./Beastie Boys territory. Keen to get the lipid competition out of the picture; further his band’s own noble agendas, our hero wants them to “drop“- make sure that is “now.” I was impressed by just how far the vocal climbs. When scatting and rapping, our leader has some composure and melody- his tones are pleasing even when giving musicians a thorough dressing-down. In the second third, the screaming and wailing urgency comes to the fore: it is a libidinous and determined shout that emphasises the sense of desperation and annoyance. With the likes of Bi:Lingual working honestly- struggling to raise capital and patronage- it is not fair that untalented cretins are rolling in money (like pigs in shit). Our man is “sick of waiting“- possessed by a satanic and animalistic spirit, the blood-curdling roar is enough to scare the likes of One Direction all the way back to their mums. Of course, the vitriol and mission statement is not solely directed at the heroes of the 8-18 market- plenty of Indie and Rock bands are falling under our group’s attentions. Affirming their allegiance to real and veritable (and unfeigned sounds), you feel that Bi:Lingual are casting their poisoned net farther afield- perhaps artists like Kaiser Chiefs are in their mind. With a desire to see the wasters drop dead and retreat; renounce the throne (and desist with their evil ways). As the words are being poured- like gasoline on a bonfire- you get entranced by the delivery and composition- the former has an authentic Rap/Hip-Hop sway and pace to it that drives the song forward with fervency. The composition juxtaposes ‘traditional’ Rap/Hip-Hop sounds- electronics and samples- to give some true Rock grit and lust- the band play at such a force and speed that I would imagine they had to capture the song in one take! Our hero’s voice certainly couldn’t withstand too many re-records: after the 1:00 mark, you can hear it start to strain and crack- the ferocity and dominance of his delivery is stunning. The bi-polar projection allows refrain and calm to take over: we are back in the midst of a frantic and rifled verse. Attempting to euthanise clever talent shows; people who “show their sympathy” to the gullibility of the public (towards tawdry and pathetic sob story idols)- and wait on the phone line- wasting good money on conveyor belt musicians. Our hero shows an ear for atmosphere and delivery. Rather than let his words get buried and tangled in one another, he allows brief pause between certain lines/words: a tidal wave crashes…waits, and then rises back up again. Pointing the finger at “blind” viewers- that do not appreciate the pointlessness of the disposable ‘musicians’- the words here are as urgent and meaningful as any others- you just know how much the likes of The X Factor piss off the Bi:Lingual crew. Being of a similar mind, I share their disdain and perturbation- the likes of Simon Cowell and his orange face; pensioner waistline and student review put-downs are enough to put you off life altogether. Perhaps the vulnerability of the modern viewer is being exploited by monopolistic and proclivious companies; the scrupulous moguls and money-makes are keen to bilk the ‘faithful’- exploit their weaknesses and contribute to the “demise of the pedigree.” Lesser bands- there are too many of them- would not imbue their lyrics with intelligence and poetic potential. Showing the same lyrical flair and savvy (and witty suaveness) of Mike Skinner and Ben Drew, the words are not hyperbolic, conjecture and offensive- truth and obliviousness are represented in a shower of fragmented poetics and stunningly multifarious outpourings. Bereft of any sympathy, our hero has had enough of the Radio One music culture- the meaningless charts that document the true squalor and shallowness of music. Whereas their fond contemporaries are fighting in the trenches, the corporate penis-flickers are back at H.Q.- getting financial progesterone and ill-deserved adulation. It is great how much I relate to the song- sharing the band’s opinions- and the targets they charge towards- headlights bright and horn blasting. If they had mentioned the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, I would have ended this review here- the fact that Little Mix are name-checked brought a huge smile to my face. The epitome and embodiment of worthlessness; the glorified cover band (bands play instruments; these are marketing tools)- who ruin any cover they attempt- are infantilizing and demoralising music. Perhaps largely represented by prepubescent and pre-teen girls, you wonder if a moratorium could be imposed: ban anyone under 21 from buying music- ensuring that the likes of Little Mix, Neon Jungle and One Direction do as all a favour- and stick their head under a train. Emphasising how music is becoming more a business and charity case- replacing the days when musicians were ranked according to merit and promise- the order cognoscenti is wrong and corrupt. With hegemony going to the churlish and controversy-courting generation- who say the word ‘like’ every fifth or sixth syllable- the full passion of the words comes to light. With every kid from the “north and south” being a “fucking linguist“- supposed bona fide music-lovers on the order of false morals and impunity- the vague and plastic guitar proffering are hardly nascent revelations. The Pop and Rock acts that have as much credibility and conviction as Justin Bieber- the scummiest of the scum- think they are something special: deluded and deserving of opprobriousness, they are the ruination of music life. Backed by a guitar and percussive duel- sounding like a boxer punching his opponent- you can hear the gravel and concrete show its teeth- it is such a meaty and growling coda, you are helpless to resist its power. Mixing in reverbed and echoed vocal interjection; an additional layer of menace; malice and darkness comes in- our hero is a priest leading a holy quest- seeing his flock diminish and fall, he is atop a mountain. The vocal never loses its energy and avalanche: packing more into a syllable- than most acts pack into a song- you listen hard to take all of the words in (pausing and replaying lyrics to make sure you have all the information). Before the fever-dream chorus comes back to feast, the band let the composition have a bite: the stuttering and drunken blasts from bass, guitar and percussion provide a taut and tight ellipsis- preparing you for what is to come. By the time the chorus does come back around, you have more story on board- the words become more relevant and frantic- the song grows in stature and meaning. After the drowning gasps are spluttered; our hero tries to keep his emotions in check- I imagined he demolished the studio after the engineer and producer called things to a halt- and not let explicitness cloud his concision. As you prepare yourself for lyrical treats- more fascinating and intelligent lines- the instruments make sure they step into the limelight. The guitar is an arpeggio of firestorm fury and biblical resonance- Van Halen and Hendrix come to mind- complete with see-saw and considered modulation; there are touches of Muse thrown in- embers of their Black Holes and Revelations (epic fretwork) shows its scars. Distorting your mind and making your eyes spin, the parable is the aural equivalent of a burning pyre- our hero has ignited a flame that looks set to caramelize and incinerate the weakest of the species. When the chorus comes back around, the percussion stood in my mind. Matching the likes of R.A.T.M. for pure pummel, the percussion’s octopus-limbed cannoning is a thing of beauty- you would imagine Dave Grohl, Neil Peart and Brad Wilk Cellotaped to one another. Our hero is kept in check by authoritative and fatherly bass lines- plenty of exhibitionist power comes out; it makes sure the song does not show any loose seams or edges. With his voice still intact- how the hell has that happened?- he sounds like a man alight: having jumped into the fire, the only chance of survival is the cooling water of fairness and musical karma- you suspect that he has second-degree burns just thinking about the likes of Scouting for Girls and their ilk. Ensuring his fastidious and unimpeachable carniverousness remains strong, the final lines are delivered with just as much passion as at the start- the consistency and momentum is never-ending and unflinching. As our man steps away from the mic., a final few notes wrap things up: going for a much-needed drink of water, you are staggered by the amount of anger at the song’s heart- hardly surprising given what is being assessed.

Few reviewers will expend as many words as here- when it comes to reviewing one song. That is going to change for sure! Most songs are only worth a dozen-or-so words- the likes of N.M.E. and The Guardian distill an entire album review into six lines. If you were surveying a cover version from a boy band, you would probably urinate on the page; type the words ‘I want to die’ several times and put it out into the ether- it is acts like Bi:Lingual that inspire the pen to run out of ink. I found myself- with futile outcome- trying to keep pace with the rollicking vocal delivery; conveying my thoughts as fast as the lyrics are uttered. Subject Number is a song that demands endless repeat and investigation- you will pause the song at intervals to repeat lines and thoughts. Before I get down to patting the band members on the back, I shall finish up with the song. The epic and gleaming production- from Jamie Donnelly- makes sure the song is given full respect- the words and notes are crisp and undiluted. It is not too polished; allowing some raw and sweaty edges to come seeping through. Ranking alongside the best cuts the likes of R.A.T.M., Beastie Boys or The Streets could produce, it is a stunning and mesmerising track. The vocal puts you right in the song: such an impassioned performance, it is impossible not to be won over by its intentions and electioneering spirit. A few acts write similar themes- the game of fame; endless reality show garbage- but none have sounded as immediate and emphatic as this. A crystalline and golden nugget, Subject Number is one of the most addictive and impressive tracks I have heard all year- let us hope that future songs match its dizzying heights. As relevant and common as war, terrorism and corruption, the song will never lose its potential and meaning- unless talent shows and horrid musicians are expunged and extinguished, then we should never stop battling and fighting. A worthy and necessary warfare, Bi:Lingual are a confederacy against enslavement and musical genocide: they do not want everyone taken out- just the acts that are stopping them achieving their goals. It may come off as a political and fascist manifesto, yet most of the public back these opinions: we need to enforce some limitations and restrictions- castrate the testicles of facile and whiny Pop music. Any acts that are involved in Rock- with nary a thought for passion and conviction- are standing under a dangling sword- if you are not good enough to appeal to proper music-lovers, then there is no sense having you around. Too many acts get into music for the hell of it- thinking that the minimum is good enough- hopefully Subject Number will inspire some hesitation and creative revisions. Designed as a rebellion against commercial and marketing dictatorships, it also gives a warning to new musicians- if you do not enough weaponry in your armoury, you are going to be human shields. Of course, good music is a not a synonym for Rap, Metal, Hip-Hop- everyone has their own tastes and Folk, Pop, Soul and Indie can produce works of genius. The band is not saying they are the best examples of what music has on offer- they are not far from it- merely explaining they have spirit and genuine talent- they want to cull those that do not deserve to be here. As such, the song is the sound of conviction and absolutely delirious urgency- ironically making the song one of the finest things you will hear in 2014. Most bands that rally and complain turn in cold turkey songs- the sounds seem pretentious and free from any class or solidity. Bi:Lingual get their clear message across, but do not overlook the importance of music, composition and melody. They ensure their sound is ever-changing and mobile; enforced and galvanised when needed- sparser and less oblique when the vocal shines. Subject Number ticks all of the boxes: few commentators and observers would find anything that could be considered a negative- what more could you want from a track? The song is a winner because of the band themselves: the closeness and intuition they have shines in every syllable, note and refrain- bands twice their age are not as in-step and telekinetic. The vocal delivery is insanely determined and impressive. Drawing in some embers of heroes past, the sound mixes some of R.A.T.M.’s early work (in the chorus) in addition to Mike Skinner’s charm and wit (in the verses). Able to shout with insane menace; offer prophecies with controlled and measured pace; roll, rock and slither- it is a phenomenal performance. All the words are intelligible and decipherable- even when the verses are delivered with an ecstatic sense of drive. This makes the song’s messages extrapolatable and meaningful- you will be quoting lines and singing couplets for weeks to come. The bass work keeps the song from collapsing and regression to hyperbole. Taut and slinky at times, the abiding sound is of a stringed and winged beast- one that ensures that every note and vocal is backed by immense support and purpose. Guitars melt your face; shred the scenery and drug your brain- mingling Hendrix-esque pyrotechnics with ragged Rock/Hip-Hop masculinity, the parables and outpourings are deeply startling- the band show how terrific they are as musicians. The song is likely going to be an essential mosh-pit demand- a set closer that will see bodies carried away on stretchers. Beer-swigging and knife-wielding, it is the sound of modern-day music-lovers- those that hate the rise and prolifency of mainstream Pop muppets. With a sterling and earthquake percussionist on your team, you are never going to go wrong: with tentacles flailing and pulverising, few modern drummers could keep up with what is on offer throughout Subject Number. Instilling unexpected fills and calmer measures into the track, you cannot deny the vitality and primitive splendour of the delivery. Having not heard of Bi:Lingual until a few days ago- shame on me and the media- I am so glad I have. When new material flies out, I wanna be the first on it! Appropriating the candour and majesticness of legendary Rock/Hip-Hop acts of the ’80s and ’90s, they are a brave crew that deserve a tremendous amount of support and backing. Subsiding from their own crops and creations; living off of the land, they need money and cash injection- music like this should not die in the heat and be overlooked. If you have any sense and faith in new music, then you need to check out Subject Number- a wonderful glimpse and window into one of this country’s most vital and patriotic bands.

In nearly every review- when it comes to the conclusion- I always find myself saying vaguely the same thing- using similar words and prostrations; familiar predictions and summations. Today, things are very different indeed. I find myself deeply impressed with Bi:Lingual; having experienced something new and distinctly original, I have been given a lot of inspiration and fascination. Bonding Rap and Rock into an intoxicating blend, the guys are going to be a very exciting future proposition. If you are put off by promises of anger and rebellion, then have no fear: the guys make music that promotes energy and togetherness- as opposed to dislocation and feral snap. Being a huge fan of acts such as Beastie Boys, I can hear a lot of them in Bi:Lingual- that same ambition and innovative brain. The U.S. legends pretty much had- and have- a faultless career: I am loathed to think of an album that was met with anything but critical acclaim. Few acts can boast this kind of consistence and plaudit- the New York Hip-Hop crew are one of the most inspired and daring acts of all-time. I particularly love III Communication: a twenty track collection that marries so many sounds and threads together- it is a dizzying and hypnotic record. Perhaps not their most celebrated album- Paul’s Boutique steals that honour- to me it represents the peak of their creative powers- tracks like Sabotage are as tight and potent as anything I have ever heard. Given the band’s consistency- and the fact that they hit upon such a phenomenal style and trajectory- and huge patronage, it has baffled me why more acts do not follow in their footsteps- not replicate them but at least be inspired by them. Even though the last Beastie Boys album is three years old, it is not to say that they are through- the guys will be back, showing the music world how it is done. We all need to witness and embrace bands like this: Bi:Lingual are a brave and emphatic group that are going some way to introduce Beastie-esque magic and urgency into their music. With music innovators such as Beck become more restrained and matured, it is vital that some youthful anger and innovation comes back into the scene- keep an eye on these chaps. Subject Number is causing much excitement; it bodes well for the future: it would be terrific to see a full album from the group in time. On the evidence of their latest track, the band have lost none of their magic and potency- they have grown in confidence and stature; found new inspiration and sense of purpose- their current offering is their most stunning cut to date. I love how effortless and assured everything sounds; how bonded and tight the guys are- their music ranks alongside some of the most fascinating and promising in all of music. I would advise that everyone take a look back on the band’s work- find out how far they have come and how great their beginnings were. It is not just Subject Number that hits you: the potential and promise gets you very excited and filled with hope. Being penniless and impoverished, the boys may have to club some cash together- to be able to record an album. It is my wish that people snap up physical copies of their singles; give their money across to a band that have the potential to go all the way. So few new musicians sound as intent and meaningful as Bi:Lingual: they are an act that want nothing more than to stay in music for as long as possible. I have never seen them perform live; I imagine it is quite an unforgettable experience- if they come down my way, then I have no excuse missing out. Before I wrap up, I should offer some sort of direction to up-and-coming bands; provide missive and truth. The sense of fun, wise-crack and anger is seeping from music; bands that can tie this to deep and inventive sounds are disappearing and fading out- what we are left with is less daring sounds; those that are safer and more predictable. It is true that some terrific music can be discovered- within these confines- yet there is a part of the brain and psyche that is going to seek out those who do not want to follow the flock- Bi:Lingual are the guys for you. Artists that usually spar Rock and Rap capitulate and stumble with embarrassing results- our guys are in no danger of suffering this fate. They clearly have a love and admiration for classic acts like Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys: they do not ape them or copycat; instead instilling an essence of their magic into their own distinct sound. Fans of the genre are sure to find a hell of a lot to love (in the band); those perhaps a little more timid should come forth and have a taster- their music does not push anyone away. There are no bellicose scream-fests and profanity-laden rallying: there is rhythm, hypnotism and huge energy to be found- music that is designed to draw people together and not cast them aside. If you- like me- want to find something that is distinct and meaningful, then you need Bi:Lingual in your life. They are going to go a long way and have a lot more to say- let us hope that they have album and E.P. plans in their thoughts. Anyone that does not like their music are offered an oral sex-related option; their music has the potential to make your genitals burst- it seems that whatever you do you are in danger. The best thing you can do is to listen to the music and love what you hear- I guarantee that you will- otherwise the worst will happen. I am going to listen (again) to Subject Number; close my curtains and Cellotape my trousers on…

JUST in case.


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Tour dates accessible at:



23- The Showroom, Hartlepool

30- The Fenton, Leeds


2- Carpe Diem, Leeds

4- Subject Number Single Release

5- The Keys, Middlesbrough (supporting DZ Deathrays)

9- The Globe, Newcastle

14- Roadhouse, Manchester

15- Ryans Bar, Derby

26- The Islington, London

30- The Lomax, Liverpool (International Music Festival)


11- Zombie Shack, Manchester


4- The Crown, Middlesbrough (Guests at RISE Wrestling)


Bi:Lingual’s music can be heard here:


Bi:Lingual’s videos are available via: