This Week’s Albums: October 4th, 2015

This Week’s Albums


October 4th, 2015





IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something… 

that doesn’t rhyme”.  I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (; I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) – in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to!  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.

The Old: Buzzcocks- Singles Going Steady (1979)




Intended as the band’s introduction to the U.S. market, Singles Going Steady sees the English Punk band present their most accomplished album- it was not released in the U.K. until 1981; after the band had split up.  Featuring their most famous track (Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) it was the band’s most complete album.  There is sly and wonderful humour to be found- especially on Orgasm Addict’s tales of a lascivious sex freak.  I Don’t Mind sees the band ratchet the offensive and create one of their most urgent and frantic songs.  Harmony in my Head’s barked lyrics look at social inequities and neon signs: our hero is caught in the clatter of shoppers; he is long in the tooth- rallying against the world.  Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’- the album’s second-most famous track- sports simple and repeated lyrics (love as an illusion; our hero feeling tired of being sad).  Maybe the album’s most memorable chorus, it is a mantra for the disaffected dreamer- that feeling of disillusionment is tangible.  Across the L.P. the band are tight and peerless: mixing humour with asocial (although there is a great social element) commentary; Singles Going Steady stands the test of time- it has inspired the like of Nirvana no less.  One of Punk-Rock’s finest statements.


DOWNLOAD: Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve); Everybody’s Happy Nowadays; Harmony in my Head

STAND-OUT TRACK: Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)



The New: John Grant- Grey Tickles, Black Pressure (Released October 9th, 2015)

 John Grant - Grey Tickles Black Pressure Cover.png


A lot of people may be unfamiliar with John Grant: the former Czars front-man has released an album critics are buzzing about.  The 47-year-old is synonymous with his candour and honesty: the way he uses humour to diffuse and sanitise potentially hard subjects- his latest release is no exception.  Ensconced in Iceland, Grant recently received a diagnosis of H.I.V.: a crippling blow he addresses right from the offset- an impressive and brave move.  Whilst there are dark hues and disturbing avenues- especially on Down Here’s we-all-die-in-the-end realisations- Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is a largely affirmative and fascinating study.  The Tracey Thorn-duetting Disappointing sees him listing his favouite things; Guest How I Know exorcises a broken love; the title track is a grand and emotional (piano-led) gem.  Most artists would wrap serious illness and heartache in morbidity and anger: Grant ensures his songs tease absurd and thoughtful; never bring the listener down- instead offer something redemptive and astonishing.  One of 2015’s finest albums, John Grant is a name you should familiarize yourself with: fall in love with a remarkable album from a truly wonderful artist.

DOWNLOAD: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure; Guess How I Know; Disappointing

STAND-OUT TRACK: Disappointing


The Influencer: The Jesus and Mary Chain- Psycho Candy (1985)



Not a sweet shop I’d ever frequent; Psycho Candy is nevertheless one of music’s landmark albums.  The combination of guitar feedback and Pop-based structures foretold and welcomed-in the Shoegaze genre- inspiring the likes of Primal Scream in the bargain.  The Scottish innovators may not have intended to create a genre, but they did just that: it is hard to ignore the album’s grandeur and accomplishment.  Just Like Honey is a haunting and beautiful number: both Pop in sensibility and somehow not; it is a beguiling and entranced track- where our lead (asks his heroine) to use him like a plastic toy.  Never Understand is a rollicking and cascading number: it is a demented and feedback-heavy beast; finally succumbing to its own weight- the final moments are a miasma of distorted vocals and feedback.  Whilst the percussion work (from Bobby Gillespie) is a little robotic- it perfectly matches the mood in fact- the songs do not stray far beyond sex, drugs and dissatisfaction- the surly and somnambulistic delivery makes everything sound essential and vital.  N.M.E. described the album as “a great citadel of beauty whose wall of noise, once scaled, offers access to endless vistas of melody and emotion”- that just about covers it!

DOWNLOAD: Just Like Honey; Never Understand; You Trip Me Up

STAND-OUT TRACK: Just Like Honey


The ‘Other One’: Arrested Development:  3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… (1992)



The band’s debut (and essentially their greatest hits album) 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… refers to how long it took the U.S. Hip-Hop group to secure a record deal.  During the early ‘90s (the album was released in 1992) there was a feeling Hip-Hop was going into new territory: Arrested Development’s positive messages and religious oeuvres seemed like a tide turning.  The revolution never happened, yet the album did impress critics upon its release.  Fusing African rhythms, laid-back grooves and melodic R ‘n’ B, it is a fine album.  Inspiring the likes of Outkast and Nappy Roots you cannot ignore the songs: Tennessee (which shows lead voice Speech to examine the issues of the south) is the band’s defining anthem.  Mr. Wendal looks at the homeless life: the plight and struggles they face; give money regardless of your status.  People Everyday– a twist on Sly & the Family Stone’s Everyday People– is the album’s highlight.  Whilst not as cutting as their peers and contemporaries, Arrested Development crafted an album with pure optimism and unity pleas: not a bad thing given music’s tendency to introvert and campaign for the opposition.  A hugely evocative and moment-defining release; 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… is an album to drift away to- in a time when music was simpler and much more compelling.

DOWNLOAD: People Everyday; Mr. Wendal; Tennessee

STAND-OUT TRACK: People Everyday

Track Review: Issimo- Coldest Queen






Coldest Queen




Coldest Queen is available at:

2nd September, 2015

Pop; Alternative; Folk; Swing


Yorkshire, U.K.

The E.P. The Coldest Queen is available from:


26th September, 2015


Coldest Queen

Like You Do


Get You Excited Does He?

If You Know How


WHEN it comes to assessing Issimo…

it is hard to know how to charcaterise them.  It is near-impossible to define and label them: the duo has such a reverent and fascinating style of music; they flirt with genres and decades- melting it all in a delicious pan of bubbling musical bliss.  Before I investigate the Yorkshire-based two-some some more, a few points are to be raised: that which concerns duos and their variability; the unsigned acts in the U.K.; the importance of music diversity.  When it comes to duos in the U.K., we have a fair smattering of available varieties: from your Electro.-Pop champions and Folk-Pop purveyors; across your Hard-Rock hitters and Alternative flavours.  A lot of attention has surrounded Rock/Alternative duos this year.  Given the success of the likes of Royal Blood, a few like-minded duos are coming through.  In the north you have acolytes Knuckle and Huxtable (Scotland): two duos that play that similar sound; the fierce and hook-laden magic.  The hirsute duos do a good job of summoning-up that Royal Blood swagger and confidence- two headline acts of the future.  I see a lot of Hard-Rock/Alternative duos come out of the north: in the south (and Brighton, where Royal Blood hail) there are fewer examples; in London there aren’t quite as many of these duos- the capital and south house differently-minded two-somes.  What London does well is house Electro.-Pop and Folk duos.  Having been exposed to Ivy & Gold (Electrro.-Pop) and Gypsyfingers (Folk/Alternative) you get a different experience and sound- no less impressive and stunning than their northern contemporaries.  London has quite a mix of duos: I have reviewed Them & Us (Dub-Step-cum-Electronic) and Greenfield and Conder (Pop/Soul) – a lot of variety and diversity can be sought.  Elsewhere, you get some Sunshine-Pop and Indie duos; depending on your tastes, there is something for you.  What I find with most duos is their particular sound: they have a very defined and particular style.  Not to say they are rigid, yet they are not as experimental and wide-ranging as fellow bands and solo acts.  With any musician it is important to have consistency and personality- so you come across as original and personable- but it is vital to have some elasticity and adventure- otherwise it is easy to stagnate and stall.  The aforementioned duos work well within their remit and borders; they have enough vitality and talent- without the need to cross-pollinate and fuse genres.  I always love when a duo goes that bit further: they retain a distinct sound, yet understand the importance of surprise and freshness.  Issimo are a duo that makes these wishes a necessity: their back catalogue shows them switch genres and styles; they are as comfortable turning-in ’40s-influenced Swing as they are modern-day Pop.  A tight-knit and passionate duo; let me introduce them to you:

Unique songwriter duo Marc Otway and Abi Uttley, backed by the ISSIMITES make up the funky pop band ISSIMO. Branded as Yorkshires answer to “The Scissor Sisters” they take their influences from an eclectic range of genres, reggae, ska and even latin, and write thematic pop songs, that are lyrically driven and rhythmically charged. They will start an iTunes Pre-order Tour from 1st September for their Debut EP “The Coldest Queen”. The music video/short film, fan funded via Kickstarter, by the same name will also be on VEVO from the 2nd Sep.

In their short history ISSIMO have already brought their infectious vibes to Latitude Festival, Cornbury Festival, Beatherder festival and Bingley Music Live to name just a few. 

Debut E.P “The Coldest Queen” is set to be released 26th September; it includes their debut single “If You Know How”.

What I love about Issimo is their optimism and upbeat: few of their tracks are introspectively sad and emotive.  They are such a colourful and hypnotic act, it is impossible not to adore them- their latest work is no exception.  Uttley and Otway are a duo that has a unique connection and friendship: their songwriting and simpatico is scintillating; their songwriting is assured and quirky; dramatic and catchy- they are masters of big hooks and bold choruses; stunning vocals and exceptional musicianship.  A lot of duos tend to focus too wholly on vocals or composition- one side of things is either undeveloped or lacking.  The Hard-Rock/Alternative acts go for power and pace- whilst their lyrics may be simplistic and the vocals too defined- whereas the Electro.-Pop/Folk acts tend to negate compositional complexity.  The lovelies of Yorkshire’s Issimo have all corners covered: their compositions are expert and nuanced; the vocals always compelling and ear-catching- the lyrics are clever and humorous (they love to pen a witty tale!).  Issimo are unsigned and free-spirited at the moment: they are a duo that deserves a label endorsement; a P.R. company behind them.  Knowing quite a few down south, it seems logical Issimo should be on their radar- hopefully time will change this.  Few acts work harder than Issimo: their consistent quality and wonderful personalities seduce and captivate crowds; their latest offerings are among their very best.  They are self-sufficient and hard-working, yet they deserve a record label/company backing: it would help fund and aid their music; get their name spread wider across the U.K. – take the duo overseas.  With an ear for American-sounding music- they have Country tinges and Americana shades- they seem likely to play the U.S. – I could well see them in Tennessee, New York and L.A.; taking their brand across the land.  I am sure 2016 will see them transcend to the sights of P.R. companies afar; get them involved in some rather exciting projects- see them get the rewards they deserve.  All of this aside, it brings us neatly- if not quite succinctly- to the current-days Issimo.  A few months ago, they started a Kickstarter campaign: to get their E.P. The Coldest Queen funded.  That E.P. is available to buy (on iTunes) and was accompanied by a promotional video- funded by their fans via the campaign.  The Coldest Queen short film featured a full cast and great production values; an elaborate plot and some wonderful scenes- sort of Game of Thrones mixed with a historical epic.  The E.P.’s lead-off single (and closing track) If You Know How has been released; I have been struck by the E.P. title track- one of the duo’s most memorable and mesmeric numbers.

Before coming to their current music- and reviewing Coldest Queen– I am motivated to look back; see how the duo has changed and whether they have altered their sound that much.

   Carpe Diem is one of the duo’s earliest numbers (and does not feature on their new E.P.); it shows how strong they were from the start- and how confident everything sounds.  A springing and upbeat introduction leads to Otway’s lead vocal.  There are Reggae and Ska elements to the song; it has a summer-time vibe and a real swing- Uttley comes in to provide backing and support.  The lyrics look at life and its realities; returning to a “clean slate”.  The production is crisp and clean to allow the notes and instruments to resonate and impress.  From start to end the song keeps kicking and moving: that endless sense of movement makes it such a wonderful track.  With little Jazz elements and Pop undertones it is such a wealthy and fertile track- one that keeps you coming back.  The infectious byplay between Uttley and Otway brings a smile to your face.  Swaying and parping trumpet notes give the song a sizzling grandeur and smile- few modern acts have produced anything like this.  Charming and filled with joy, it is a song that implores upbeat and resolve- ensure whatever life throws at you; you get back on your feet and face it.  A track that means a lot to the duo, it is a fan favourite and a great track to hear live- showing how strong the two were in their earliest days.

   Pretty Simple is another non-E.P. track and early cut: like Carpe Diem it has Reggae and Ska openings.  Otway takes the lead again and lets his soulful and stunning tones lead.  Uttley comes in with a beautiful and soothing vocal- acting as Otway’s partner and other half.  Our hero is adapting to what the girl wants; he is changing to make things simple or complex- the heroine does not like what is unfamiliar.  The new and fresh can be thrilling- as he says- yet our heroine is not impressed.  The boy is being too smart and cock-sure; it cuts no mustard with our heroine.  That need to simplify and be himself; that is the message that comes throw- back by rampant and effusive brass.  The connection between the two is stunning and intuitive: each knows their role and combines wonderfully; weaving their vocals inside one another- creating such a harmonious and catchy number.  Designed to get crowds single and feet tapping, it is a deliberately simple song- one that is quotable and memorable to the extreme.  With similar shades to Carpe Diem– the subject matter changes yet the composition has similarities- Issimo showed consistency and huge passion here.

    If You Know How was originally recorded a year ago; it features on the band’s The Coldest Queen– a chance for new fans to hear it.  I became aware of this song a year ago, and it is shows another great step for the band.  Keeping their core sound and styles firm, it sees Otway up front again- being propelled by a serene and stomping compositional blend.  His girl does not love him deeply enough; there is some doubt and hesitations- our man is seduced by her smile and twinkling eyes.  Uttley comes into the background to support the chorus; the composition remains tender and rushing- never impeded on the mood and encroaching too much.  A funky and addictive slice, Issimo demonstrate how catchy their music is- once more creating something that remains firmly in the brain.  Our heroine wants her man to read between the lines; sing a song “and take my hand”- come closer and surrender.  Those smiles and optimistic vibes reign throughout the track: the chorus is perhaps the most insatiable and additive they have ever penned.  If You Know How sits naturally on The Coldest Queen: with the exception of a couple of numbers, the E.P. culls songs from last year- they are sit alongside one another easily and comfortably.

   Like You Do is the E.P.’s lead track and shows Uttley taking the lead here: her smoky and smooth voice drips and pours honey over the opening moments.  Soul-infused and stunning, you get caught in her web.  The tone has some Jazz and Swing elements- sourcing its core from ‘30s and ‘40s musicians- to create something retro and modern at the same time.  Uttley does not need to fake her voice or adapt it: throughout, she keeps her unique and powerful voice her own- letting it swim and glide inside the composition.  Our heroine’s hero is casting a spell: whether it is the rhythm or the words (beating to the rhythm of his heart); it is causing effects and desire.  That passion and longing comes through in the track: again you get a very catchy and bold chorus; something sassy and vampish- the composition is intricate and clever; stepping and dancing alongside the vocal.  Acting as an aural character, you get the idea of the duo (Uttley and her man) dancing and swaying: you are drawn into the song and imagine what is taking place; two young lovers casting glances alongside a packed hall/ballroom- as the hero is centre stage and under the spotlight.

Because the new E.P. contains a mix of brand-new and older tracks, you might expect some dislocation and split: each track fuses perfectly and nothing seems out of place.  Coldest Queen shows a new side to the duo, yet is a natural step- it does not deviate too far and it is good to see Uttley take some lead vocals.  Whereas Otway dominated vocals on earlier cuts, the switch means the E.P. is balanced in that sense- you get different perspectives and a nice mixture of vocal sounds.  Whereas Otway has a soulful and Jazz-influenced sound, Uttley is more Pop and Soul-orientated: her power and sexiness defines the tracks she leads.  It is when the two combine you perhaps get the biggest hit: the duo have a clear affection and work wonderfully with each other; both the talented vocalists have their own style and shades- blending magnificently when the tracks call for it.  Issimo are expanding their sounds and diversifying with each new release.  Whereas their 2014 work had more Reggae and Ska touches, Coldest Queen suggests something a little different and darker- they keep the sunshine in there but show they can be effective when taking the mood down.  It means the duo have a lot of options in their future: they do not just stick with one idea and genre; they like to keep things unexpected and mobile- changing their themes and songs when needed.  The Coldest Queen is a unification of their past and current agendas: what you get is unilaterally brilliant songwriting and bold compositions; stunning and awe-struck vocals- songs that are catchy and compelling; music that begs you to keep coming back for more.

   Coldest Queen is their E.P.’s newest (full-length) cut: something fresh to many ears- a song I was keen to investigate.  The track begins with a trickling and dancing electronic underpinning: supported by swaggering and drunken brass- it is actually quite composed but has a merriment and sway to its movements- and you get a fantastic introduction.  Already you are projecting images and possibilities- based on the song’s title- and wondering what will come next.  The first words take you into the mystical and historical: our heroine is on the microphone and lets her voice survey the land and scenes.  The song’s heroine is instantly in the picture: surrounded by her eager-to-please servants, there is a heady and fantastical scene set- one you are sucked into and keen to explore more.  Uttley’s vocal is quite smooth and levelled at the first stage: letting her words clearly ring, there is power and resonance.  There are volatile winds and a storm brewing perhaps: right from a few lyrics, you get a vivid picture in your head; start to predict where our travels may take us.  In terms of vocal-and-composition sound, I get embers of Amy Winehouse and Adele: Uttley’s voice is Blues and Soul-infused; dripping with emotion and potency- and backed against those stunning horns and evocative undertow- you get something both classic and contemporary.  The servants are kneeling to the ground- the ground “that she made”- and there seems to be trouble and heartache imminent- you get a sense of danger and knife-edge here.  It is impossible not to be seduced and entranced by the track- the lead-off track on the E.P. – as it is both immediate and layered.  The composition has a nice and straight-ahead electronic (either piano or guitar) twinkle that adds some mystique and magic.  That brass work topples back and forth: the two in combination create a psychotropic and lush whole; something that goes straight to your brain.  With Uttley’s vocal commanding and holding court- the fantastic composition supporting her every step- you are powerless to resist.  Being Issimo, you get humour among the pathos and hardships: the servants are staying away from the stocks; keen not to be beheaded- the lines are delivered with a cheeky wink and smile.  This cold queen has eyes that “turn green”: when they do, her armies are summoned to cause damage and war- she is a pantomime villain and arch baddie; someone you do not want to double-cross.  As the song continues its plight, that brass wave carries everything along: our vocal heroine keeps her voice stunning and focused- ensuring each word and line is delivered with gusto.  The cold queen will reign supreme- “if you believe the bluff”- and has her kingdom at her feet.  The chorus is a typical slice of Issimo gold: simple and effective, it is a big and uplifting beauty- something that radiates and strikes; gets you singing along.  Past the 2:00 you get a musical breakdown: the vocal steps aside (briefly) and the instruments unleash a storm- adding more vividity and mystery to the fold.  At first it is those brass notes that compel and overwhelm- being at their most eager and anxious best- but the percussion starts to come into its own- keeping things tight and hard-hitting; eliciting quite a punch itself.   Few acts are as effective when it comes to penning a colourful composition: each Issimo number is packed with life and joy; stunning details and a great sense of joy.  I have mentioned the likes of Winehouse and Adele- in the most complimentary and true way- and you get hints of a Mark Ronson-produced jam: the production and composition is exceptional and mesmeric; the vocal is such a beautiful thing.  Whereas the duo usually looks at love and life’s realities; here they step out of a ‘comfort zone’: away from biography and reality, it is their first foray into science fiction and fantasy- they do not sound nervous or unnatural at all.  Brilliantly confident and scene-setting, the song’s lyrics are hugely effective.  Those cheeky brass notes- reminding me of Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al– are part-carnival-part-conga- one would imagine the queen brushing her cape over the town; twirling with malevolent glee- scaring the townsfolk with her imperious glare.  Being a fairly short song- it doesn’t even hit the three-minute mark- it packs a huge amount of wonder and nuance in.  Issimo have always been intuitive when it comes to economy: they do not let songs linger or needlessly wander; they get their message and vibe across neatly- simultaneously leaving you wanting a little more.  By the final embers of Coldest Queen– and that green-eyed and danger-laden chorus- you are hungry for a little extra- just see how the story progresses and ends.

   Coldest Queen is The Coldest Queen’s opening salvo and most urgent track: the E.P. is choked with wonderful moments; this is my absolute favourite.  It is a new and fresh song from the duo; one that will see the live crowds latching onto it- I can see it becoming a favourite of fans across the country.  With Otway turning in a fantastic and rich composition- there is so much atmosphere and detail throughout- and Uttley at her vocal peak, it is a remarkable track from the duo.  I have always loved Uttley’s voice- it can be sweet and sassy within the same syllable- but here she sounds utterly authoritative and sensual.  With a magisterial and grand delivery, it is no short-sight to say she has Amy Winehouse’s gifts- without replicating her voice.  Uttley is her own singer and artist, yet manages to steal focus with her incredible performance.  I was impressed by how Issimo have ventured into fantasy territory: it shows another dimension to their songwriting and proves how adaptable and varied they are- sounding completely natural wherever their songs take them.  An incredible and polished production allows the song to burnish and explode into life- it is perhaps the duo’s most impressive song to date.  With so many new acts petering-out after a few songs; Issimo seem to grow and become more wondrous.  In an E.P. that contains no weak or ineffective moments- everything is stunning and a joy to hear- Coldest Queen is the jewel in the crown- gleaming and dazzling for sure.  Perhaps that wobbly-legged brass stays in the mind; maybe the whiskey-soaked vocal and sensuousness- perhaps the story as a whole.  To me, everything comes together and balances: the composition drives the vocal; the vocal drives the players- everything slots together so comfortably.  When you have heard the song once, you go straight back in to pick out little asides and notes- each new play reveals something new and unexpected.  A triumphant cut from a consistently brilliant act.

Over the coming weeks- past the inconvenience of work- I will be reviewing and interviewing a range of different acts- predominantly female-led acts, it will be an interesting time.  Issimo have always been in my sights; they are one of my favourite duos- they fully warrant some high-profile attention and acclaim.  With each new song/release they grow in confidence and desire; they are one of this country’s most prosperous acts- make sure you watch them carefully.  The Coldest Queen– the E.P. and Kickstarter campaign- took a lot of promotion and determination.  Their fans and supporters came together to ensure they could record their music- the results speak for themselves.  Coldest Queen shows so much drama and storyline; a tremendous and tight performance- it is one of the Yorkshire duo’s most complete and nuanced numbers.  Perfect for any weather and situation, make sure you investigate it now- and pick-up The Coolest Queen E.P.  The E.P. not only shows the hard work and passion that has gone into things; it also represents how much support Issimo has- it cannot be long until labels and P.R. bods are in-tune and on-board.  It makes you wonder where they head next- after they have toured and promoted their E.P. – and what their feature moves might entail.  I have always seen Issimo producing a wonderful and deep L.P.: something that shows them on full attack; expands their music and proves just what they can achieve.  When spring and summer rolls back around, you can expect them to hit-up festivals and stages: get their warm and vivacious music to the masses; get the feet and arms waving in unison.  I started the review by looking at the nature of duos and how they compose themselves: there is a lot of diversity out there; few acts have such an accomplished sound as Issimo.  They are not musicians that wildly throw sounds together- in the hope they coalesce and make sense- but instead have such affection for music- they are keen to explore it in as much depth as possible.  The Coldest Queen demonstrates these points fully: that wit and love-gone-wrong humour mixes with history and queens; the catchy hooks and bold choruses are matched with brassy music and stunning courtship- everything fizzes, flows and explodes.  A thrill-ride from start to finish, you have to tip your hats to them- and wish them success for the future.  I guess a lot of eyes and ears are trained to London and their musicians- it is where the majority of P.R. companies and labels seem to be based.  Whether their telescope is trained to the north it is hard to say: it would be a shame to think the likes of Issimo are being overlooked.  I would recommend Issimo get in touch with brands like Mystic Sons- who I mentioned in my previous review; they take care of Nina Schofield- and see if they will listen.  That failing, there are ample others who would welcome the duo into their nest- Uttley and Otway are too good to be localised and confined to the north.  They have played in London and the south, yet I can see them going a look further- I mentioned the likes of the U.S.; they would be at home here.  Perhaps a bigger ill with solo acts there seems to be some form of limitation with duos: their music does not really exceed expectations and few are daring enough to really broaden their motifs.  Coming back to Royal Blood, their debut album was met with applause and celebration (rightfully so).  What I find lacking was that sonic range that could spell trouble for album two.  The likes of The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age- who the duo have taken hints from- succeeded because they are broad and emotional wide-ranging.  Tying in some acoustic numbers and softer elements, their albums are more compelling and interesting.  Royal Blood struck me as two one-dimensional and samey: the band had to stamp an identity, yet you wonder whether they could really stretch themselves- how long will the public embrace the same sound/songs on a second album?  I worry they may just repeat their debut- with only a few tweaks and new diversions- thus risking losing their appeal and momentum.  Perhaps it is just short-sighted nerves, yet duos (as do bands and solo acts) need to be more forward-thinking and agile- the consumer market demands new sounds and freshness.  Issimo never stay still and are always looking to showcase something brand-spanking and vibrant- few of their songs sound alike.  What separates them from the pack is their songwriting and vocal dynamics.  Otway is the chief composer and is one of the most talented musicians on the current scene.  Whether penning a guitar lick or a Jazz/Swing riot- via some tender piano lines and feet-kicking acoustic moments- he is masterful and accomplished.  Uttley takes on the vocal majority and has sexiness and sensuality; plenty of smoke and tenderness- powerful and enflamed when the moment calls.  The duo’s stunning lead, she possesses such a gorgeous and emotive voice: it allows Issimo to really spread their wings are write any song they please (knowing she can accommodate and nail it).  The lyrics and stories are the most fascinating facet: the duo can write witty two-handers; they do slice-of-life stories and observations- perfectly capable of old-fashioned love and poetic utterances.  It is these talents that will see them endure and succeed: they are still a new act and have already achieved so much- from award plaudits and festival dates to gaining armies of new fans.  The fact they have managed to draw in so many new faces that prove they are a duo to take seriously- ensure they are not cloistered and exclusive to the northern crowds.  The nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder and more unpredictable- we need something comforting and warming to soothe our souls.  Off the back of a successful charge, the Bradford two-some are going to make future plans and seeing where they go next.  They needn’t be nervous or uncertain, as they are an amazing and unique act- few come up to their lofty status.  If you have not encountered the duo make sure you make up for lost time: they have a wide array of past songs to check; keep your eyes peeled in their direction.  With so many musicians coming across too downbeat and limited, we need acts that buck the trend and bring life back to music.  With that in mind…

SEEK this Bradford duo out.


Follow Issimo:









Track Review: Nina Schofield- Come Down



Nina Schofield



Come Down




Come Down is available at:

6th November, 2015



London, U.K.


23rd Precinct/Notting Hill Music Publishing


ONE of my favourite things about music reviewing is…

coming across great solo artists.  I love the band market; discovering some great duos and artists: for me, it is most satisfying discovering a solo star- someone taking steps into the music world on their own.  My featured artist is someone I have reviewed before- and featured on these pages a few times- and is on a great rise right now.  I shall mention Nina Schofield in a second, but for the moment I am compelled to speak about a few issues: the solo market today; the rise of the female Pop stars- and the future of British music.  On the first point there are some great solo acts about: from Electro.-Pop and Folk artists, there seems to be a great range coming through- perhaps there is a slight lack of overall quality.  What I find (with solo acts) is that there is a sameness and familiarity: especially when it comes to acoustic-led artists, there is not a lot of differentiation and distinction.  I may be over-simplifying; I just find that I have heard it all before- there is not a lot of surprise and awe happening.  On the mainstream, there are a few great solo acts; although they are harder to find.  Great acts like John Grant and Angel Haze are releasing great albums: aside from them, there is still a proliferation of bands dominating the scene.  When it comes to the Mercury Prize nomination coming out; you can bet it will be band-heavy: a few solo acts may appear, yet the groups will probably be near the top of the list.  In the underground/new music, there is saturation and overcrowding.  When trying to discover a great solo act, social media does help a little: finding someone that separates themselves from the pack; goes out their way to be different and fresh- that can be a hard task.  A lot of Folk, Pop and Electro.-Pop acts tend to sound too like a mainstream example; a lot of new artists struggle to really stamp their personality into the music- coming off as quite uninspired.  I have reviewed and interviewed acts that could be replicants: you would not be able to distinguish them from other artists; from their vocal sound to their lyrics, there is borderline plagiarism at work.  It is quite depressing but perhaps not too shocking: in a scene where musicians are crowding in; how easy it is to be truly original?  When it comes to Nina Schofield, I am pleased to announce there is originality and personality- it is hard to really compare her with anyone else.  I have followed her career since the earliest days: from performing in school halls and making her first moves, she has blossomed into a fine and stunning artist: a woman with a terrific ambition and voice; somebody that defines the ambitious and hungry musician- what can happen when you set your mind to things.  There are a lot of Pop artists that tie in Electronic themes: to my mind, that is the hardest genre(s) to get right and make original.  What I find with a lot of female solo acts (who play in this arena) is that their voice sounds the same- you cannot distinguish their tones from their countless peers.  Schofield has built her voice- inspired by her idols and current favourites- and very much has her own style and endeavor.  Inspired by great female acts; bands like Coldplay- she brings a little of each into her make-up.  Before I talk about Schofield- and bring in a couple of new points- let’s introduce our featured act:

Imagine a touch of Ellie Goulding mixed with a sprinkling of Jessie Ware and you are well on your way to hearing the epic sounds of singer-songwriter Nina Schofield.

Classically trained and having successfully completed a Degree in Vocal Performance at the Academy of Contemporary Music Nina has done a great deal of professional work to widespread acclaim.

The release of her first album “Drifting” led to a nomination for Best Female Vocal at The Hollywood Music in Media Awards with her second single “Slow Down Soldier” charting at number 4 in the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts.

Her featured vocal/co-write with successful trance act Aurosonic has seen radio support from the likes of Armin Van Buuren and ASOT.

No stranger to the stage, Nina, who is a proud ambassador for charity The Rose Road Association, has already performed at prestigious venues and events including The Paralympics Torch Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, The Buxton Dome, Derby and The Montreux Jazz Festival as well as supporting artists like John Power (The La’s/Cast) and Polly Scattergood. Working with internationally renowned producers and writers such as Jud Friedman (Whitney Houston), Richard Niles (Kylie Minogue, Ray Charles), and Lloyd Perrin (Pixie Lott, Newton Faulkner) has helped sculpt Nina’s individual pop sound into something truly unique and the release of her new single ‘Come Down’ is sure to place her firmly on the map of pop’s rising stars.

Schofield has worked hard to get her name out there: she is one of this country’s most promising solo acts- in no small part because of her stunning voice and phenomenal songwriting.  Working with award-winning producers and a great team, she has ensured her music shout its name- critics and fans are falling for her new sounds; desperate to investigate her thoroughly- and all the promise she offers.  I will get down to the business of reviewing- and looking at Schofield’s music- in a while; but for now, it seems like another issue is at foot: the plight of the solo scene and this year’s music.  I have loved some of this year’s solo acts; there have been some great moments and albums- the bands are still stealing the limelight.  I am not sure what is causing it; what you can ascribe it to- it might just be the limits imposed on artists.  When you are a solo act, you have to work harder; you have fewer members to make the music resonate- perhaps some limits with regards composition and range.  It is hard to say, yet there needs to be a shake-up of sorts: the underground acts are showing what is possible; there are some tremendous solo acts coming through- let’s hope they translate to the foreground.  Schofield seems like an artist that could make her way to the mainstream soon: start playing the large festival dates; get her songs on national radio- and really make a name for herself.  That voice has huge range and possibility; her writing is varied and consistently strong- her hunger and passion is undeniable.  With the mainstream filled with hit-and-miss sounds- and you have to dig hard to discover great acts- it is a relief to hear an artist that brings quality every single time- and is getting better with each new release.  It is sure to be a prosperous 2016 for Nina Schofield.

Before getting to Come Down– and what her current movements behold- it is worth looking back; seeing how she has developed- and progressed as an artist.  Over It Under It is a year old now, but saw Schofield in her element: a song that brims with confidence and a stunning vocal performances.  From the introductory moments, there is that Coldplay-esque sound: Pop and Alternative mix together; quite calmed to begin with- the song soon expands and blossoms.  The song’s composition stays tender and considerate: allow that vocal to shine and pervade, it is a track that drips with emotion and determination.  There are little shades of Ellie Goulding and Coldplay throughout; that soft and evocative piano line (that cuts through the atmosphere and elicits shivers) is supported by a whispered and hushed beginning.  There is quite a ‘U.S. feel’ to the song- I am reminded of Katy Perry and Pink at times; little shades of the current Pop crop- yet Schofield’s distinct projection and tones override this- the chorus is one of the most catchy and powerful she has ever penned.  Lost in confusion and doubt, the song sees our heroine strike against the odds: she battles her demons and heartache; passes through the darkness- and makes her way alone.  The lyrics have a familiar and individual contrast: they will speak to the young female sectors- and the heartbroken that can emphasise- whilst showing a superb way with words and expressions.  Schofield mixes in some electronic elements, but for the most part, the song has a Pop-cum-Alternative blend- one of the strongest songs she has ever put out.

    Colours’ title track was released last year (along with the E.P.) and follows a similar path to Over It Under It: the vocal projection and sound is similar; the introduction is very similar- both songs share E.P. space so it is not a surprise.  On this track, the lyrics are more redemptive and romantic: there is a soulfulness and deep sense of passion; that safety and security- the initial vocals are without anxiety and are beautiful to hear.  A very crystalline and pure thing, Colours mutates and starts to grow- the pace and energy begins to pick up.  That chorus sticks inside the brain naturally: it is upbeat and colour-filled; evocative and stunningly delivered- Schofield’s voice matches urgency and effusiveness to a spellbinding effect.  Taking little pieces of Electronica and sounds of the clubs- the beats and electronics bristle and tease in the undergrowth- it is another shining and spectral Pop attack.  Multi-tracked vocals augment that sense of wonder and purity: you are lost in the tide of light and life.  Every vocal note and utterance is delivered with a huge amount of panache and style: Schofield ensures she makes every word count; her control and authority is incredible.  Joyous and endlessly addictive, it shows the other side of Colours: the paen and pride; juxtaposing the rejection and sense of loss.  Within both songs, Schofield is strong and not to be trodden-on: there is no gloominess and woe-is-me; she is always independent and defiant- making the E.P. something that appeals to all ages, genders and music-lovers.

   Come Down is anything but: it shows Schofield employing and bringing in new sounds and styles- whilst keeping her true voice intact.  Whilst Colours is largely Pop-orientated and chorus-heavy; Come Down sees harder electronics and more cutting-edge force.  That is not to say her messages have become cynical and depressive: her style and personality are the same; instead you get a bit edgy and Electro.-Pop feel to things- a little bit of Future-Beats.  Breaking away from the Coldplay-by-Goulding stylisations, here we get something perhaps Ferreira and Rudimental-based- two acts that have been linked to Schofield.  Schofield has ensured she does not stagnate or repeat herself: her new single is rife with detail and stunning electronics; great bass notes and stunning production values- sure to please existing fans and draw in new support.  If she had released a similar-sounding single- that strayed too close to her previous work- it might not have drawn in too many new faces: as it stands, she has kept her integrity but shown bravery and innovation; taking in new influences and exploring new horizons.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding Come Down: a song that sees Schofield right back in the limelight; showing a huge amount of assurance and inspiration.  Clash Magazine have premiered the track: it has picked up some positive reviews and resonated with the music press.  Right from the first seconds this is no ordinary Nina Schofield track: comparisons have been levied to Sky Ferreira.  There is a little bit of Chvrches in there too; some incredible evocations and familiarities- whist very much sounding natural and unforced.  The early moments see bubbling electronics and some seductive bass and beats- a great combination that wouldn’t sound out of place on an FKA twigs release.  It is such an of-the-moment and modern sound; an introduction that seems to sum-up and define 2015- the introduction puts the listener on their toes; draws them in and creates a whirlwind of fascination.  When Schofield arrives at the microphone, her soul seems exhausted and in need of energy- needing another hit to get her through.  Whether addressing a lover or friend, there seems to be some tension and anxiety- her subject is bringing her down; that need to get away and find some space.  Schofield keeps her positivity and natural sunshine brimming: she is on all all-time high; at the peak of her creative happiness, she will not let anyone knock her down- too many people forcing negativity and doubts.  The early words could speak as a message to the music world and critics: those that doubt Schofield and her dreams; anyone that is cynical and unsupportive is being talked-to and investigated- why would you want to knock someone when they are at their happiest and most fulfilled?  On the other hand- and perhaps a more likely explanation of events- we are looking at personal relationships and love.  Maybe her subject is weighing her down and not showing enough respect: Schofield’s pure and gorgeous vocal cuts through the atmosphere- sending a clear message across the horizon.  Evocative and tender, it is a nice balance against the early jaggedness- the song blooms and swings; there is a great sense of movement and time elapse; the composition does not merely sit still and remain passive.  On previous releases, Schofield has started breathless and in awe; she explodes and expands in the choruses- bringing the song along a typical and assured tangent.  Here, there is a slightly different tactical approach.  After that instant and stunning introduction the vocal does begin serenely and dreamily: before long, Schofield increases her pace (her words are almost Rap-like at times); increasing that sense of insistency and determination- catching the listener by surprise.  Letting her beauty and expressive voice lead the charge, she is backed by scuffling and compacted beats- which augments the foreground and injects a note of danger and fight.  Our heroine does not want to become entangled with those who are pessimistic and unsupportive: she fears her allegiance (to her subject(s) is going to bring her down; she does not want to surrender this high.  Schofield is spinning “out of your control”; on a different sphere (to her subject) – making her own way and moving on.  At this stage- and thinking about the song so far- the lyrics are designed to resonate with the mass audience.  There is a distinct motivation to the song- having been inspired by real-life events and struggles with others- yet the sentiments can be extrapolated by all.  We have all been in a similar situation: whether it is a partner or friend; a town or community- that sense of being held back and knocked-down is easy to identify with.  Come Down is an anthem that is reserved for all: a song that can ignite and unite the dance-floors; get feet and voices blended in a throng of song.  As the chorus slams and rises- and Schofield is at the peak of her powers- the composition comes back to take charge.  Whilst the bass and beats rumble and clatter- never aimless or erring into Dub-Step territory- there is a sharp and kaleidoscopic parabond (your mind is pulled into the trance of electronics).  Sampled and processed vocal snatches tangle with the bubbling bursts and static pound- creating something dizzying and intoxicating.  You can never predict where Come Down will go next: by the 2:00 marker, so much ground has been covered; the sonics and vocals never let up or desist- it is a song that demands attention without a moment’s breath.  After the little explosions of composition, Schofield comes back into the centre.  Having shaken away some negative people; tried to move past the bad.  As the song progresses, perhaps there is a person responsible for the happiness and good mood.  My mind speculated a lover or friend was causing heartache and annoyance: as Come Down progresses, my thoughts turn.  Schofield is at a high place; she is swimming in the joy of this feeling- is it success/music or love creating this?  It is a song that has mystery and obliqueness: each listener might have a different perspective; have their own version of events.  Schofield is a strong soul that wants to be fixed to this feeling- and not let it go by- and is throwing the shackles from negative spirits.  The track catches you by surprised with little vocal bursts- when the word “woah” is delivered by the chorus it is sharp and ecstatic- and its sheer energy.  Ecstasy and delirium seem to be the common themes: Schofield is one of the most positive and resilient songwriters; even when people are holding her back, she manages to find strength and light at the end of the tunnel.  Here she is hovering above the world; she is lost in the clouds- at her most comfortable and ambitious.  It is not just the sentiments, determination and etherealness that grip your attention: the composition is restless and constantly contorting- it is such a detailed and deep thing, you rewind the song to revisit snippets of beats and electronics.  Before the 4:00 mark- and the song starts to reach its close- there is some tempering and evaluation.  The scuffing and skittled beats vibrate and buzz; the bass line underpins the movement- the variegated electronic twists tie everything together.  With her sights set, Schofield unleashes one more charge: the song ramps up and reaches its absolute peak- beginning with some sped-up and mutated vocals.  Schofield is the master of hooks and huge choruses: whilst not using the song’s title as a chorus centre-point; instead it is that vocal-and-lyrics blend that hits the mark.  With her words reloaded and ready- spiraling out of her subject’s control; pushing away the doubters- you get that squirreled and accelerated vocal exclamation- cemented into the heavy and determined beat.  It is a track that gets more addictive and compelling as it unwinds: by the final notes you are not done digging and listening- and yearn for it to keep going.  Schofield and her production team have ensured the song ends sharply and economically: it allows her to spread her wings but does not overstay its welcome- that combination of nuance and tease is a wonderful thing.

   Come Down is a song that has a summer vibe and a real sense of energy- you can tell Schofield was sun-drenched and serotonin-filled when writing it.  Whether her inspiration- and the people/person mentioned in the song- is a friend or group of people, her lyrics ring true and hard.  Whilst its core is optimistic and determined, you always get that sense of internal struggle and weight: although she is looking to the heavens, there are things and people waiting to try and put her down.  If there are any fears or doubts, they are not evident in the song: every moment is defined by a huge amount of force and passion.  Schofield has never sounded as focused and determined as she does here: it is a song that seems to be where she it at; she is on a creative hot-streak and in love with music- her admiration and happiness is put to tape with stunning accomplishment.  Schofield has stepped aside from her Colours-era workj a little: her latest single is not a totally departure; it does invest some new influences and genres into the boiling pot.  Retaining some Pop sensibilities and motifs, we get harder edges and a more primal core- the electronics are more complex and emotive; the production values have shifted slightly.  What you get is a natural step and a great degree of consistency- it bodes incredibly well for a future E.P./album.  Schofield seems to be at her most inspired and happy: with her heart and mind this assured, how long before future music?  I know she has had struggles and anxieties- nothing foreign to musicians; she has channeled it into her songs- and has risen above these negativities.  What Come Down shows is how a positive outlook and pen can lead to some wonderful results.  Too many musicians are insulated and shallow- always looking at a half-empty glass; never projecting any energy or optimism.  There is a lot of upbeat and delirious Pop/Electro. tracks/acts out there; a lot of them get bogged-down in clichéd lyrics and fake vocalisations.  Schofield is an artist that surpasses her peers and has a sharp and intelligent pen- never succumbing to anything ordinary or tried.  Each track she produces sticks inside the head; it demands repeated listens- the sheer rush and energy draws you back in, helpless to resist.  Come Down is already enlivening social media- it is not officially released until November- yet Schofield seems to be at her most comfortable and committed- and gaining appropriate rewards and attention.

I am always startled by Schofield’s talent and music: with every new track, you get something different and developed- an artist that keeps on growing and improving; showing so much confidence and assurance.  Since her Colours days- more-or-less when I started to fall for her music- she has built on that incredible sound: she has developed a nice edge and grittiness; employed addictive bass and stunning Electro.-Pop sounds- fleshed-out and augmented her core sounds.  With this newly-honed sharpness and edge, you get an artist that is showing no fear: few other artists have such a determination to succeed and inspire- Come Down is the sound of a young woman who has no thoughts of slowing or quitting.  Schofield has joined forces with Mystic Sons- and the lovely people there- and is gaining huge momentum.  Schofield has the energy, talent and sound of Ellie Goulding and Sky Ferreira; the musicality and expertise of Coldplay- the way she can fuse genres and emotions seamlessly- and the vocal chills and cinematic flair of Lana Del Rey.  People like me (those that review music) need to compare artists with others- to make them more accessible to the public- yet Schofield does not cling to anyone- she simply employs little pieces of certain acts.  Her words and stories are her very own- and her experiences of love and life- whilst her compositions are alive with fizz and excitement; serene and sensuous undertones- few modern acts can match her sense of colour and innovation.  I guess we compare acts to see how good they really are- if they get compares to X, Y and Z they must be as good?- so Schofield should be proud- she is more than a match for the mainstream’s finest.   I am glad she is getting some London patronage and representation; she is getting her name heard in Mortimer Street- it is only the start of things to come.  I look at solo acts and wonder really: which ones will make it to the mainstream- who will fall and fail?  Schofield loves the flavours and scenes of the touring life- seeing new people and taking her music throughout the U.K. – so she seems dead-set to be an international fixture.  There are some great U.S. and Australian acts- that play similar music- so there are venues and crowds that would love her- that much I could guarantee.  London is a city that is more than hospitable: there are so many venues and clubs she has yet to conquer- this is the start of something great.  To get a foothold; to really make a name in this town- one must keep the pace going and not let the quality meter drop.  Her latest single sees the young artist really hit a stride: her music will only become more intriguing and confident.  On that note, what does the next year have in store for Nina Schofield?  I would imagine an album would be next on her agenda- as opposed to an E.P. – yet I might be wrong.  I feel she has enough impetus and stories to fill an L.P.: show what she has learned and seen since Colours– although she may want to tour for a little first.  Colours was as vibrant and multifarious as its title: abound with style, emotion and confession there was plenty of dance and epic hooks- songs that lodged in your brain and would not relent.  That four-track cut was out last year; since then she has matured slightly; upped her ante- and really expanded her sights and palette.  I can see an album cover and title; I could imagine the track listing- Come Down would be a perfect lead-off track- and the range of sounds contained within.  What Schofield has in mind is her choice, yet there is a market and an eager audience: she has ears and eyes enamoured and set.  It is clear 2016 will be her most prosperous and busy year: a chance for her to mingle with her heroes and current idols- her hard work will be rewarded for sure.  Too many solo acts- in the mainstream too- seem to lose pace and focus as time elapses; maybe falter and show fatigue- I do not see this being the case with Schofield.  Her consistency and adaptability is what marks her out: when an album does come out (whether it is next year or later on) it will be a bold and impressive statement- nuance and quality by the bucket-load.  I shall leave with a note about London music: the scene that keeps on growing and producing.  The capital is fertile and nurturing some agile talent- from your Dub-Step hitters to sweet-smoke Pop princesses; down to your grizzled and whiskey-soaked Rock acts; throw in some Soul-cum-Folk hybrids.  The Pop market is one of the most crowded and closely-investigated: if you can rise above the fray here, you can pretty much make it all the way.  It is tempting to settle in London and spend your musical life playing the venues and the people- there is a whole world to see out there.  Schofield shows this in her songs: she is not somebody that is going to stay rooted in the U.K.: how long before she stars to tour across the U.S.?  If you have not heard Nina Schofield, go back and explore her earliest work; take a detour via Colours– and finish with Come Down.  If you want an artist (and a song for that matter) that sticks in the heart; really compels you to revisit and pick apart- then look no further.  As far from effete and simplistic as you get, the details and production details are fantastic: each note and vocal comes across richly and unimpeded- ensuring the listener gets an unbridled and natural listening experience.  The voice is rich and sweet; it has raw power and huge passion.  The music is busy and rousing; it switches course and perfectly matches the lyrics.  Those lyrics are universal and personal; they are quotable and thoughtful.  The woman at the centre of this is on a charge; she is growing by the year; she is simply…

NINA Schofield.



Follow Nina Schofield:










Track Review: Ethan Ash- Face to Face (Taken from his Live at Hunter Club’ E.P.)



Ethan Ash



Face to Face




Face to Face (original E.P. version) is available at:

2nd October, 2015

Folk; Alternative; Soul-Pop


Newcastle, U.K.

The E.P. Live at Hunter Club Bar & Venue is available from Friday 2nd October at:


Face to Face9.1

Long Drive Home9.0

Chasing Your Love9.1

Don’t Regret Me9.1

Boy Like Me- 9.0



Face to Face; Chasing Your Love; Don’t Regret Me


Face to Face

E.P. ‘Live At The Hunter Club’ released 2nd October 2015.
Recorded in front of a live audience at Hunter Club in August 2015.
Ethan Ash – Vocals and guitar
All songs written by Ethan Ash except ‘Don’t Regret Me’ which was co-written with Amy Wadge.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Steve Long, Hunter Club Recording Studio.


IT has been hard maintaining a satisfying balance…

when you mix work with passion.  Returning to the world of work, it has been good having something to keep me focused- or at least get me a bit of money.  Before this, I spent a lot of time reviewing and writing: that has been reduced and leveled-out somewhat.  It has been a bit disheartening (reviewing acts) at the moment: a lot of bands and acts have not been sharing the reviews; some only to Twitter (and not Facebook) – meaning few people see it; it seems like a waste of time.  I appreciate musicians are busy, yet it takes a few seconds to share a review; you need not even write accompanying comments- it baffles me musicians fail to uphold their end of the deal.  Were the review to come from a ‘reputable’ or mainstream source; I am sure they would not ignore it- perhaps it is just me having a moan.  My point is, I love discovering new music: being alerted to great acts and artists; if others do not get to know about it- and my effusive words are seen by a small number of faces- then it seems like an unwise marketing strategy.  When it comes to today’s artist- hoping that there is some love-spreading after the review- he deserves some wider acclaim.  Before I go into more depth- and bucking a trend for me- let’s hear more about Ethan Ash:

Singer songwriter Ethan Ash is regarded as an exceptional guitarist, on acoustic or electric guitar, a fine vocalist and terrific live performer. His soul-infused folk pop style, strong song writing, increasing reputation on the live circuit and many festival appearances have seen his stature as an artist grow, evidenced by an ever-increasing fan base, and international and UK national radio play, including CBC Canada and Radio1, and several television appearances.

Born in the north east of England Ethan has spent the large part of his life living in Cambridge. He began studying music and playing guitar at age six years and has been passionate about music ever since. He played his first solo gig age 12 and went on to perform solo and front a teenage band which played all over the UK but after studying music at university he decided to pursue a solo career.

One of Ethan’s songs was chosen to feature as an iTunes Single of the Week.

Solo gigs and festivals played include…

Bestival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Camp Bestival, Wilderness, Latitude, main stage at The Secret Garden Party, Y Not Festival, MK International Festival, Cambridge Corn Exchange, and several O2 Academies and Music Week, ASCAP and IMC showcases in London. Headline shows include The Stables (Milton Keynes), The Glee Club (Birmingham)The High Barn (Essex)CB2 (Cambridge)

Ethan supported Ed Sheeran on one of his sell-out UK tours. Other artists he has supported include Passenger, Seth Lakeman, Nick Harper, Foy Vance, John Bramwell (I Am Kloot), Jamie Woon, Amy Wadge, and he was guest artist on Janet Devlins’s O2 Academy tour.

Ethan co-writes with other artists/songwriters including award winning songwriter, and Ed Sheeran co-writer, Amy Wadge. His new E.P., Face To Face’, was released on 16th March 2015. Tracks mixed by Grammy award winner Simon Goggerly (U2, Paloma Faith, Gwen Stefani) and mastered by award winning engineer Mandy Parnell (Bjork, Faithless, Franz Ferdinand)

It is not often I get to investigate a solo act- especially the guys.  When it comes to the sole acts; the lone artists that go out into the world- the most impressive and impassioned are the girls.  I am not sure what it is- and it’s not reverse-sexism- I just find them more impressive.  If anything, my impressions of the solo scene are enforced by the mainstream acts: the artists in the public fore; those we are all familiar with.  My featured act has supported Ed Sheeran- to be fair, an artist I do not like at all- yet that is just my point: I assume every male singer will sound like him; it will all be that same sound.  What I find; when digging through new music’s best, is something quite different: there is a great deal of range and surprise; some terrific artists out there- you just need to dig quite deep.  I still think the girls have the edge in all departments: when it comes to their diversity and mobility; the effect they have- they are taking the honours.  I am not sure what is behind this trend; whether the girls are more ambitious or wide-ranging- there seems to be an imbalance on the scene.  For that reason, it is always great hearing a tremendous male artist: someone who has that flair and voice; an exceptional songwriter and example- there are not too many out there at the moment.  Ash is one of music’s most impressive songwriters and talents: having garnered critical praise and support; he is still ‘under the radar’- deserving of more respect and acclaim.  The solo sector is quite a mixed thing: the quality does seem to be unpredictable; there are too many stale and uninspired artists- which put off a lot of listeners.  Too many solo acts (particularly the guys) are just acoustic guitar and no talent; a rather insipid and aimless musician.  Ash certainly breaks away from this fate: having played from a young age- picking up the guitar as a child- he has played in bands; released a number of E.P.s- supported some terrific musicians.  His latest E.P.- a live outing recorded at a Bury St Edmunds- shows what natural performer he is: in his element and completely at ease; the crowd are sucked into his magical world- the simplicity and effectiveness of his music; the beauty of his words.  I am glad I have been introduced to Ethan Ash- by his management company and representative- but feel like Christopher Columbus: discovering something (America) after countless others have before him.  Before I get down to reviewing Ash (and his new E.P.) I am reminded of the northern towns; the live E.P. realm.  Ash hails from Newcastle: a location that has produced some terrific musicians; some of the music world’s most enduring acts.  The likes of Prefab Sprout, Brian Johnson (AC/DC’s lead) and Sting hail from Newcastle- as do The Lighthouse Family; that is a different story!  Having reviewed a lot of northern acts- mainly from Yorkshire and Manchester- it is great to be back in Newcastle- the band Kobadelta may have been my last Newcastle review (apologies if I have reviewed any others in-between).  I am not sure whether geography and location has an effect on music- and defines just what it will sound like- but there is something in it: London music tends to be more harried and busy (reflecting the pace of the city perhaps); Manchester and Liverpool reflect their rich musical heritage (and often nod to classic home acts) – Newcastle combine the two facets.  Borrowing that northern magic- and the spirits of legendary bands past- there is a sense of urgency and pace; often balanced with something more romantic and nuanced.  Ash is an artist that has grown up on some wonderful sounds; married them to modern and chart-friendly vibes- topped-off with his unique blend and artistry.  His songwriting ability is second-to-none; the way he crafts images and words- more adept and skilled than the majority of his peers.  It seems only right that his latest E.P. was a live recording: he sounds natural in that element; great to hear the crowd experience the songs direct- the combination is beautiful.  You do not hear many artists (newer ones anyway) produce live recordings: not sure why; perhaps there is too much focus on original material.  Some of my favouite musical moments have been live recordings- from Jeff Buckley’s transcendent Live at Sin-e to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York– you can learn so much; experience an artist in a new light.  In those two cases, there was fresh revelation and insight.  Buckley was at the start of his career- recorded before he was signed; went on to record Grace– and shows how gorgeous his music could be.  Armed with an electric guitar and microphone, he seduced and entranced the New York coffee house- a tantilising glimpse into what was to come.  By contrast, Nirvana produced something similarly beautiful- although this album was recorded at the end of their careers; shortly before Cobain’s death.  That album stripped Nirvana right down; gave the back catalogue an intimacy and new perspective.  Ethan Ash sort of fits in the middle- when it comes to his progress and stage of music- and gives his songs a warmth and delicacy; a real charm and sense of emotion- naked and pure; powerful and primal.

It is hard to compare Ash with many other artists: he has such a unique and characterful voice; one enforced by his own passion and identity- he does not simply replicate others; hangs onto shadows and contemporaries.  Having toured with peers like Ed Sheeran, he retains some of that modern Folk-cum-Pop sound: he can sound contemporary and classic; loose and relaxed- engaging and urgent.  Whilst I am not a fan of Sheeran- and find his music lacking in that original bite and sense of diversity- he does have a loveable and winnable personality- that sense of optimism and smile comes out in his music.  Ash has purposely ensured his voice and music is his own: not beholden to anyone; a young man with a clear idea of who he wants to be.  For that reason, the songs really separate themselves (from the mainstream predictability); that passion and talent radiates through- compelling fans and listeners.  If you want a good assessment of Ash; how he has progressed and whether he has developed a lot- it is worth looking back; checking his older sounds out- and how his new material stacks up.

If one goes back to Playing by Numbers (the E.P. released in 2012) there is a gradual build- before a vocal explosion.  Our hero looks at his love and sweetheart on I Like: how she whispers and seduces; the way she moves and tantilises.  Ash ensures his words and sentiments are not clichéd and over-sued: the way he projects his thoughts and desires sets him aside from the crowd.  Boasting a quasi-orchestral sweep; a real sense of drama- it is a passionate and gripping number.  Wouldn’t Get Through is more sprite and nibble: the vocal springs and jumps- sounding a bit like a Soul legend, strangely.  Letting his lush and smooth side come through, there is directionless and loss (in the words); that need to find his girl- find something that will complete him.  The song looks at wanting to get words off his chest: saying words that mean more in the flesh; wouldn’t mean much on paper.  An addictive and catchy numbers, it shows the range and breadth of Ash’s songwriting ability and vocal prowess.  No Love in That Bed demonstrates how soft and seducing his voice is: tender and finger-picked, the song looks at the proclivities and cheapness of modern-day love- as the heroine picks up cheap dates and thrills.  Trying to find completeness and fulfillment; the song takes us inside the mind of a sordid day- as it descends into a seedy night.

  Haven’t Got There was released a couple of years back.  The song sees the young talent traverse more into Blues and Soul.  The song has that distinct and strong vocal performance- sounding more confident and assured here.  Like a young Jeff Buckley, the song shows Ash in rich form: he lets his voice kick and campaign; promoted by a springing and sensuous guitar sound- when combined it creates something quite scintillating.  With some soothing and rich female backing vocals, it is one of the singer’s most powerful numbers.  Since the earlier work- and the 2012/2013 period- Ash has grown as a songwriter and performer.  In the sapling years, his voice and songs has Ed Sheeran tones- perhaps clinging too closely to that sound.  Perhaps lacking that killer blow and completeness; the songs has their charms and power- yet seem to hold Ash back a little.  Demonstrating himself as a terrific songwriter and guitarist, the work shone and radiated- whilst not completely overwhelming and distinguishing.  The best modern songwriters betray a debt to nobody; they do not remind you of anyone else- which is what Ash developed into.  Over the last couple of years, he has brought in new styles and genres- more Blues, Soul and Pop elements- to make his music more full, spectral and stunning- showcasing his full range and ability.  Not relying on the acoustic-guitar-and-love-song model- that has been tried, tested and flogged to death- he has blossomed into a more mature and intelligent writer.  His music contains the cores and hallmarks- love’s separation and personal doubts; personal strength and longing- but does so with a sense of individuality and personality.  Increasing his proficiency and wonder by the release; Ash gets stronger and more assured- it is a very promising song for the future.  His current work- live album that has developed from his Face to Face E.P. and earlier work – sees the young man at his peak: coming across as more confident and timeless; Ash is now a definitive and essential solo artist- someone every listener should fall for.

    Face to Face is my favourite song of Ethan Ash: the title track from his latest E.P.  I was keen to see how it translated into the live arena; what Ash would do differently- and whether it would be a faithful rendition.  The track boasts a most sumptuous and delicate introduction: Ash’s guitar playing is romantic and gorgeous; flowing and seducing- a most beautiful and calming beginning.  Reminding me of Nick Drake- and the magic he could weave with his guitar- for the new listener, you are not sure what to expect.  After the trickling waterfall; the dancing and twinkling strings- our hero comes to the microphone.  Ash keeps his voice impassioned and soulful- never getting out the traps with too much energy and emotion- letting his words do their work.  Early thoughts look at romance and longing; that need to be with (his) sweetheart- and find satisfaction.  Our man has been waiting to- with his girl one presumes- “talk to you”; let his words come out- get something important off his chest.  Without revealing too much insight and secrecy, the initial thoughts are quite compelling and simple- letting the listener imagine and conspire (as to what is unfolded).  It seems there has been some dislocation and upheaval; maybe an argument has ended- and the two lovers are split and balkanised.  Our hero does not want things to end; he is determined to keep the flame alive- broker reconciliation and get things back on track.  In this live setting- compared to the E.P. version- Ash’s voice sounds even more wounded and desperate: that desire and tremulous need echoes strongly.  The “little situation”- what has happened between the two lovers- is underplayed to some extent- maybe the hero is shirking his share of the blame; maybe things have gotten out of hand.  When love songs are written- that look at similar themes and storylines- the author never takes much of the blame- it always seems to be the fault of the other party.  To an extent, Ash is owning-up and taking his lumps; he just wants things to return to normal- that ache and honesty in the vocal is hard to ignore.  On that front, the vocal never deviates from that determined and soothing soulfulness- eliciting so much raw passion and pride with every note.  I have mentioned Jeff Buckley’s ‘Sin-e performances: the way he bends notes and keeps the audience enthralled; making sure his voice cuts right through the air- you can hear this happening here.  Ash has clearly studied Buckley- whether consciously or not- and translates some of his early-‘90s majesty and accomplishment- showing himself to be a stunning and soul-seeking voice of this generation.  It would be easy to walk away; cut the ties would be the simplest things: his girl seems to want a way back in- they need to be face to face.  That stridulating and crooning guitar creates atmosphere and force; summoning up plenty of possibility.  The hero asks questions of his girl: would she ignore his calls?  Would she just pass him by?  What would see do were they to meet again?  There is that anxiety and fear; the uncertainty for the future- they need to fight to make things right.  Perhaps they are in two different camps; their minds in different places- it is hard to ignore all they have shared and been through; they should not let that die.  Repeating the song’s central mantra- how it is easy just to “walk away”- Ash tried to keep his emotions in-check; there is that possibility he might crack- and let the force of his confessions come wailing out.  By keeping everything tight and focused; not letting his heart overtake his mind- it means the song always has that intrigue and mystery; the sense of what-if and suspense.  As it progresses to its final beat, you wonder what will become of the duo: will they ever rekindle their passion and deep love?  By the final moments, that voice is at its more alert and determined: getting that message across, it weaves and entices- sending a clear message across the land (hoping it hits its target).  Question marks are hanging and unanswered; you speculate as to the next steps- things may be beyond repair.  As Ash ends the track, the crowd loves his performance; they are scintillated by the performance- our hero turns the track inside out; gives it new life and meaning here.  It would be easy to say that Face to Face– and the rest of the E.P. – performed live is just a means of getting money and new fans.  Some artists release live albums; few really put much effort into them- they seem like a stop-gap and afterthought.  Ash ensures the songs are reworked yet kept consistent and recongnisable- exciting existing fans and bringing in new ones.  With the crowd sitting back in reverend mode- and not making a sound or motion- it allows the track to really show its heart and soul.  One of the U.K.’s most promising up-and-coming singers, Ash proves why he is such a popular artist- and is deserving of a lot more acclaim and attention.

As a new Ethan Ash convert, I am coming in with fresh eyes- assessing an E.P. that nods to his past and present; is a perfect introduction for new fans.  The current market is obsessed with disposability and turnaround; the instancy of music- wanting artists to produce music constantly; not leave gaps between recordings.  There is a fixation with short-attention span: few reviewers and critics (listeners for that matter) have that much patience.  Ash is an artist that is in no hurry: his music is pulling a huge amount of fans in; striking them hard- his reputation is growing by the release.  Still somewhat under-appreciated- not quite at that mainstream level yet- it is surely only a matter of time.  Live at Hunter Club Bar & Venue shows just what the young artist can come up with: confident and memorable; emotive and passionate- the sound of a musician in his element.  Coming back to my original points- before I give a ‘mini-review’ of the E.P. – Ash is an act that burns and smokes (has to throw some dodgy wordplay in there!).  The north is showcasing some of music’s most exceptional artists: compares with the south, there is a lot more range and innovation; a great spectrum of genres and possibilities- although London maybe has the edge in terms of quality.  It is great to compartmentalise the U.K.: see what each region comes up with; how the music differs- the northern climbs are really fascinating.  Whereas Manchester and Liverpool is more band-heavy- compared with solo/duo music- Newcastle seems to be unveiling more solo gems- there are some great bands; they are overshadowed by the solo artists.  Ash has come a long way; crafted some spectacular E.P.s- growing with each new record; on a very promising trajectory.  A great deal of modern solo artists are slacking and falling: the mainstream scene is showing occasional promise; new music is throwing a lot more promise up- artists not conforming with market expectations; free to write and project from a more relaxed heart.  Ash has been noted because of his terrific lyrics: ideals that are personal and honest; they also speak to the wider audience.  A lot of newer artists cannot pen consistent lyrics: keep their formidable force and retain a sense of adventure, ambition and integrity.  From release to release, Ash produces deep and reflective lyrics; songs we can all relate to- music that is nuanced and highly charged.  That voice stands right in the middle: the stunning tones beautifully blend into the mix; the result is an exceptional and potent thing.  I hope he comes down to London; takes his music to the capital- there will be a lot of ears waiting for him.  With the music scene growing and flourishing (in London) there is that desire for a brave and assured artist- someone who can command a crowd; really get the punters in.  Ash already has a reputation and fan-base; there are many more unaware of his music- let’s hope that changes soon.  On that note, it would be good to see an album emerge: Ash has the ammunition and quality; he could stretch his music over ten or eleven tracks- really put his stamp out there.  Following his E.P.s and singles; it seems like an album would be the next step- something that could cement him as one of the U.K.’s best.

Across the E.P., the beauty and power does not relinquish its grasp.  When his E.P. Face to Face came out (back in the spring) it was met with fond applause and impassioned support- fans and new listeners paid tribute to its solidity and consistency; the depth of emotion and wonderful songwriting.  Live at Hunter Club’ sees that E.P. out in the open (with Long Drive Home and Don’t Regret Me in there): performing to an intimate crowd and letting the music do its work.  Long Drive Home sounds sparse and intimate: right in the midst of the song, it sees the singer let his voice shine- looking at his love and his accompanied heart.  When driving and making that trek home, he is never alone- you can sense that insistency and devotion in his delivery.  Switching between wordless highs and soulful swathes, the energy and pace never drops- giving the song a sense of importance and urgency.  The guitar-playing abilities are right up front: adding so much momentum, mood and movement; the performance is stunning throughout.  Throughout the song, Ash never lets his voice slip or loosen: he sounds completely natural and at ease here; lost in the music, that warmth and purity comes out.  Reminding me of my favourite live album- Jeff Buckley’s Live at Sin-e– it is that mixture of familiarity and intimacy.  When Buckley recorded that live album- collected moments from several gigs at the New York coffee house- it predated his Grace work.  The songs on ‘Sin-e were being honed and experimented-with; tested and tried- not quite at their peak and final stage.  That is what made the record so wonderful: there was a sense of playfulness and improvisation; just going with the flow- what Ash displays here.  Being a new and fresh E.P., the songs are being changed and mutated; little details and nuances come to the plate- hearing them in a live setting gives the songs a natural backing; a raw and romantic vibe.

   Chasing Your Love proves all these points: one of Ash’s most impassioned tracks is given an airing before a devoted crowd.  Looking at chasing the heart (of his intended girl) there is history and a back story- when they used to play and chase one another.  Showcasing some youthfulness and child-like naivety, you can picture the young Ash and his girl- that innocence and sense of what-if.  Now there is that urge and need to obtain love and satisfaction- regressing to childhood days; wanting his girl to be his.  One of the E.P.’s shortest and most concise numbers, the guitar flecks are fast and spirited- reflecting the song’s endless sense of liveliness and the upbeat.  Not simply succumbing to the tendancy of his peers- letting himself wallow in his thought; present a by-the-numbers slush-ballad- the song has its head up high- a real determination to get what it wants.  Ash’s voice is enflamed and enriched; completely engaged in the moment- a stunning live performance here.  Being an assured and established star- with plenty more fans and lands to conquer- you might expect strings and supporting musicians to come into things; give the songs too much emotion and music- drown the lyrics in orchestral movements and needless over-production.  In this live setting, you get bare bones and a real atmosphere: Ash strips the song to its core; lets its meanings and feelings come off the page- get right into the minds of the listeners.

Don’t Regret Me slows things down- and gives a faithful comparison it’s the original recording- letting the crowd catch their breath.  Ash allows his soulful and stunning tones to come out: mixing elements of Stevie Wonder, Jeff Buckley and the current best; showing just what a range and emotional palette he possesses.  The track almost steals top honours- in terms of the standout of the E.P.- because of the range of emotions and themes throughout the track.  The guitar composition is simply a supportive aid: it gives the song its drive and movement; the real stars are the lyrics and the vocals.  Our man will write down a list- and “give it to you”- stating and declaring his love.  Asking the girl not to regret him- perhaps he has been remiss giving praise and affection- there is that need for safety and love.  Not wanting things to fade and dissipate; the song shows what an aching and tender heart he has- and what a sensational voice is at play.  That Stevie Wonder-esque Soul sound spills out- his high notes are crystal-like and heartbreaking- and does not sound forced or disingenuous.  You implore and support Ash; get caught in his plight and fight- hope he wins her heart.  Providing a nice sonic and emotional balance- between the high-rolling and feet-moving pace of earlier numbers- you get a window into his mind and soul.  Whereas other tracks have looked at love and break-up; pure affection and child innocence- here there is some honesty and mindfulness; taking his share of the blame.  Ash is in confessional mode; he is laying his thoughts on the line- a real fear and anxiety comes out.  Not just another love-them-and-leave-them guy, things are different here- bravery and real need for things to be better; regret of what has come before.

Boy Like Me is a perfect closer: one of the best acoustic performances I have heard for a while.  The guitar is the perfect backing and support aid: adding so many words and emotions, it perfectly aids the hero.  The words he has been saying; the words that come off his tongue- they are getting him into trouble.  Urging his girl to stay with him; he needs that particular girl- no other woman would stay with him.  The second part of his honesty fable, Ash is open and completely bare here: he knows his limitations and faults; he is desperate for his love to stay with him.  Letting his guitar twirl and conspire, you get lost in the drama of the song: all the images that are whipped-up; the pure force of that voice- all the possibilities and avenues.  Keeping things simple and traditional- Ash keeps his songwriting fairly straightforward and uncluttered- here is a man that specialisies in to-the-core song-craft- not overcrowding songs and straying off course; keeping his mind and attention to the task at hand.  Boy Like Me– and the E.P. as a whole- has quite a modern vibe; it could easily sit alongside the current scene’s finest- but offers that little bit more.

In a music world where solo acts- those that pick up an acoustic guitar at least- tend to lack individuality and unique direction; you get the same voice/lyrics/sound coming out the same way.  At some points I cannot tell artists apart: the vocal and tones are identical; their themes and stories samey and predictable; their compositions too simplistic and boring.  Ash has developed and grown as an artist- since his early days he has developed his personality and sound- and has really come into his own.  One of music’s weaknesses is the male singer-songwriter genre: few modern acts really take the breath away; make you want to stick with them.  Throughout the live E.P. you get a sense of what Ash is all about: he is a very distinguished and special singer; someone with a lot of heart and intelligence.   If you are a fan of his work, you will find much to love: he has not changed things drastically; increased the consistency and quality- improved his game and shaved away some rough edges.  It is that serene and pure soulfulness that shines brightest: when he is at his most ardent and impassioned, his voice flies and entrances- beating any other singer that comes within its path.  Imbued with so much entice and spectral haunt, you cannot deny its wonder.  The balance of love emotions and lyrics works well: there are not too many clichés or recycled ideas; the lyrics showcase a maturity and innovation- something lacking among his male peers.  Overall, Live at Hunter Club’ is an E.P. is one you need to get hold of.  You imagine you are sat in the crowd; you are alongside those who witnessed it in the flesh- the production allows you a front row seat to see the show.  What you get is an artist that is completely confident and determined to succeed; win the minds and hearts of his followers- show just what a unique and brilliant talent he is.  One of the best live releases I have heard for a while, it is has urged me to follow Ash; dive into his back catalogue- see just what he is capable of.  With regards his future, he will be in need beyond the U.K.: he could well translate to U.S. crowds; find success across Europe and Australia- he is a singer that has a big future.  What 2016 has in store is anyone’s guess- although Ash can be guaranteed of success and new interest- and I would not be surprised to see festivals, radio stations and nations line up- all eager to see the young man show what he’s made of.  With so many modern singer-songwriters showing little heart, courage and fascination; make sure you check out Ethan Ash…

ONE of this country’s most promising musicians.



Follow Ethan Ash:










This Week’s Albums: September 29th, 2015

This Week’s Albums


September 29th, 2015





IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…


that doesn’t rhyme”.  I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (; I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) – in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to!  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.

The Old: Tom Waits- Rain Dogs (1985)




One of the quintessential albums of the ‘80s; it stands out as one of Tom Waits’ finest creations- it followed the spectacular Swordfishtrombones.  Waits’ voice and persona- that he has cemented in earlier recordings- is that louche and poking songwriter: that whiskey-soaked burr wraps itself around 19 tracks of curiosity, beauty and weirdness.  It is hard to label Waits and Rain Dogs: the album cover so much ground; visits diverse and colourful  territory- it takes many listens to absorb everything; really get down to the album’s roots.  With Marc Ribot’s dominating and dangerous guitar adding bite and drama- the album saw Waits change his tactics.  Less honed and focused than Swordfishtrombones; Rain Dogs is nevertheless a triumph.  Regarded as one of the 1980s most cherished albums- the likes of Rolling Stone and Slant Magazine have placed it in their top 20 (of the ‘80s); you cannot deny its power.  Waits established himself as a surreal master on Swordfishtrombones– his wordplay and lyrics delved into some pretty far-out back alleys- which continues on Rain Dogs.  With more romance and musical innovation across the board, the album remains one of the ‘80s moments.  Whilst Waits would never quite match his 1983-’85 regency; Rain Dogs laid down a tremendous standard- one that not showed just what a tremendous songwriter Waits was.


DOWNLOAD: Singapore; Jockey Full of Bourbon; Gun Street Girl

STAND-OUT TRACK: Jockey Full on Bourbon



The New: Eagles of Death Metal- Zipper Down (Released 2nd October, 2015)



The band’s fourth album- and their first in seven years- Zipper Down does not sound like an over-perfected and inconsistent album (what one might expect if the entire record takes seven years to gestate).  With Josh Homme touring and promoting Queens of the Stone Age; Jesse Hughes looking at solo projects- it is impressive the album was made at all.  Clocking-in at just over 34-minutes; it is an L.P. that showcases typical Eagles of Death Metal hallmarks: the sleaze and tease; the humour and wit; the raw riffs and primal purr.  Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.) boasts electrifying and sexy riffs; a scuzzy and leather jacket-wearing hook- something that showcases what exceptional song-crafters the duo is.  Lead-off single Complexity is a simple and scintillating jam: the vocal (from Hughes) proclaims “It’s so easy without complexity”.  Swaggered and confident; doubting and nervy- the song is one of the album’s highlights.  It shimmies and shakes; grooves and slithers- just what the band are all about.  Elsewhere, their cover of Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer is reinvented and reborn: fully exposing the lyrics and meaning- the one-night stand and all it beholds.  In Eagles’ hands, the song takes on a fuzzed-out and lip-licking quality- something that wouldn’t have seemed possible when Duran Duran recorded the original in 1982.  It is clear Eagles of Death Metal and back and loose as ever- good news indeed!


DOWNLOAD: Complexity; Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M); Save a Prayer




The Influencer: Mary J. Blige- What’s the 411? (1992)



In 1992, What’s the 411? lead to Mary J. Blige being crowned “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul”- by the way she mixed modern Hip-Hop and classic soul.  This is reflected in her voice, which expresses soulful and strong edges; cutting and sassy Hip-Hop elements.  Where (in previous releases) Blige focused on Soul and Pop motifs; here she borrows from Rap heavily- in no small part due to collaborators Sean “Puffy” Combs; R&B producers Dave Hall and DeVante Swing; Rap mogul Tony Dofat and rapper Grand PubaYou Remind Me shows how effective and stunning Blige’s voices- a pure weapon of soulfulness.  Real Love marries a street-real beat with a huge vocal performance- as our heroine yearns for a new love; someone to satisfy her needs.  Elsewhere; Sweet Thing mixes Gospel into the agenda- earning Blige comparisons with Chaka Kahn.  In a time where the likes of En Vogue were splicing Gospel, Soul and Hip-Hop- creating stunning milestones like Funky DivasWhat’s the 411? surpasses them all: not only setting a blueprint for ‘90s Hip-Hop; its sample-heavy sound compelled a range of artists.  Few albums remain as influential and inspirational: with such rich and vibrant fusions; stunning productions throughout- few albums remain as compelling and fascinating.

DOWNLOAD: Real Love; You Remind Me; Love No Limit



The ‘Other One’: The KLF- The White Room (1991)



I ‘rediscovered’ this album a few weeks back: when playing The KLF’s stunning track Justified and Ancient (featuring the late Tammy Wynette on vocals) my heart leapt.  One of the ‘90s essential anthems, take a listen to The White Room– one of Acid-House’s most essential cuts.  There is Justified and Ancient’s heavy beats and hypnotic chorus; those rebellious and authority-defying lyrics- masterfully presented by the British masters.  3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.) and Last Train to Trancentral (L.P. mix) complete the album’s ‘holy trinity’- yet there is plenty of invention and majesty to discover.  Released in 1991, the album not only evokes images from a golden age in music- it remains well-aged and contemporary.  The songs and beats translate; the sonic innovations still sound fresh and alive- the songs compel the listener to swing their head; move their feet in a frenzy of submission.  The KLF disbanded in 1992- a shock that reverberated around the music world- yet their masterpiece shows that imagination and silliness; the stunning grasp and confidence.  The White Room is a creation to unwind to; get lost inside; let its dreams and realities shock and seduce- a work that is designed to

DOWNLOAD: 3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.); Last Train to Trancentral (L.P. mix); Justified and Ancient

STAND-OUT TRACK: Justified and Ancient

This Week’s Albums: September 22nd, 2015

This Week’s Albums



September 22nd, 2015





IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…


that doesn’t rhyme”.  I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (; I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) – in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to!  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.

The Old: Tim Buckley- Goodbye and Hello (1967)




One of music’s most underrated voices; Tim Buckley was synonymous with his gymnastics and vocal dexterity.  Whilst his later work suffered fatigue and washed-out songs, his early work brims with invention and revolution.  Goodbye and Hello sees the U.S. master in fine voice: from the haunting poetry of No Man Can Find the War; Buckley sets out his stall.  Pleasant Street sees Buckley at his most elastic best: his voice has rarely sounded as gripping and seductive.  With its images of “Christian licorice clothes” and “concreted skies”, the song mixes oblique and direct; fantasy and the fantastical.  Though some critics derided its dated and ‘too nice’ image upon release, the album has gained retrospective acclaim.  Larry Beckett (who would conspire with Buckley throughout his career) helps to pen half the lyrics; a stunning band providing backing- the album spills-over with colour, emotion and possibilities.  The title track (almost hitting the nine-minute mark) is a multi-part adventure; Elizabethan musical touches and grand-standing horns all in the mix.  Once I Was sees Buckley go into Country territory: casting himself hunter and soldier; lover and hero- the song showcases some of the album’s most romantic offerings.  I have wondered why Tim Buckley inspires so few modern acts- it is a strange thing really.  Perhaps they should listen to Goodbye and Hello and change their thinking- an extraordinary record.

DOWNLOAD: Pleasant Street; Once I Was; Goodbye and Hello

STAND-OUT TRACK: Pleasant Street



The New: The Dead Weather- Dodge and Burn (Released 25th September, 2015)



The Dead Weather’s third album sees them hitting their peak- following on from 2010’s hit-and-miss Sea of Cowards.  All the components are here: the bat s***-crazy riffs and Zeppelin-esque epics; the peculiar and delirious vocals- the fascinating stories and peculiar characters.  With its players having a busy schedule- Jack White and Alison Mosshart particularly so- the songs are the results of combined jam sessions- laid-down in Nashville over a year-and-a-half.  Lead-off track I Feel Love (Every Million Miles) is a rip-roaring blast/Immigrant Song retread- and although White’s drum work is not as fierce as it should be- Mosshart’s lead vocal makes up for it; it buzz-saws cut through the track.  On this L.P., The Dead Weather up the eccentricity: Three Dollar Hat is an eerie and demented murder-love-tale; boasting a peculiar and crazed vocal.  Open Up and Mile Markers see the band at their ferocious best: the former is a whacked and snarling Punk-Rock gem; the latter sees an odd tale of strange boys and girls; a twisted offering- one that sees each band member at their peak.  Whilst there are few mis-fires- the ballad Impossible Winner seems out of place; too distinct to fuse with its brothers- the album proves the band have grown in confidence and ability.  Let’s hope they get time to tour Dodge and Burn: Jack White seems incapable of slowing; Mosshart is becoming a more assured and unique vocalist; Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita complete a tight and phenomenal band.

DOWNLOAD: I Feel Love (Every Million Miles); Three Dollar Hat; Mile Markers 

STAND-OUT TRACK: I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)


The Influencer: Elvis Presley- Elvis Presley (1956)



This 28-minute album stands as one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most vital statements.  Presley was a relatively new name on the scene; he was not considered a vital artist- up until this point at least.  With Heartbreak Hotel gaining momentum and respect around this time- upon its initial release it was met with muted acclaim- Presley launched an audacious debut.  Representing every side to his artistry- Blues to Rock ‘n’ Roll; everything except Gospel- the album tackled recent tracks (from artists of the time) and gave them a new spin.  With that inimitable and distinct voice adding life, candor and energy to each number; it was no surprise the album reached the number 1 spot- the first Rock ‘n’ Roll album to do so.  Before the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones existed, Presley transformed the music landscape- putting Rock ‘n’ Roll directly into public consciousness.  In 2003, it was ranked number 56 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Elvis Presley was also one of three Presley albums accoladed in the reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, the others being Elvis Is Back! and From Elvis in Memphis.   It was certified Gold on November 1, 1966 and Platinum on August 8, 2011 by the Recording Industry Association of America.  Few debut albums have sounded as urgent and groundbreaking: in an age where most genres have been saturated and exhausted- it’s unlikely anything will touch Presley’s 1956 milestone.

DOWNLOAD: Blue Suede Shoes; Tutti Frutti; I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)

STAND-OUT TRACK: Blue Suede Shoes


The ‘Other One’: LCD Soundsystem- Sound of Silver (2007)



It has been a few years since James Murphy has released an LCD Soundsystem album (2010’s This is Happening was the last).  More emotive and focused than LCD Soundsystem (the band’s debut); demonstrated by the heartbreaking Someone Great– the lines “To tell the truth I saw it coming/The way you were breathing” are devastating in their honesty and beauty.  Get Innocuous! opens the album with furious beats and huge passion- a stunning Dance music number that demonstrates how skillful Murphy is.  North American Scum is political and socially-charged; charming and quirky- how North Americans are judged and perceived; propelled by a buzzing and cosmic jam.  All My Friends– with its New Order-sound and disordered thoughts- is a mid-life consideration in the middle of a packed and sweating dancefloor.  Murphy constantly amazes with his musical depth and innovation; he as skilled a beats-maker; exceptional wordsmith- effortless when mixing Punk and Dance; compelling when writing about love’s woes and New York-pathos (on New York, I Love You’ it appears the city is “bringing me down”).  The songs- and the album as a whole- are textured and supremely accomplished: it is not a Dance music-only collection; there is something for every music-lover.  The U.S. band have been in hiatus- or perhaps sequestered to record their next album- but let’s hope they return soon.  Sound of Silver was one of 2007’s finest albums- one of the best albums of the decade, in fact.  If you are new to the band, fear not: it is an accessible and endlessly rewarding treat for the ears, mind and body.

DOWNLOAD: Get Innocuous!; Someone Great; New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down

STAND-OUT TRACK: Someone Great

Track Review: Well Hung Heart- Throw It All Away



Well Hung Heart



Throw It All Away




Throw It All Away is available at:

1st June, 2015

Alt-Rock; Punk-Blues; Garage-Rock; Proto-Punk


Orange, C.A. via New Orleans, L.A. + Devizes, U.K.

The E.P., Well Hung Heart is available from:


Throw It All Away– 9.4

Touch the Sky9.3

Play Me a Song9.3

Lights Out– 9.4

Killing Time– 9.4


Throw It All Away; Lights Out; Killing Time


Throw It All Away


WELL HUNG HEART (Self-Titled) E.P.


RELEASED SEPTEMBER 2015 to Digital Retailers and 500 Limited Edition Custom Tin Deluxe Packaging.

Released 01 September 2015

Lyrics and Melodies by GRETA VALENTI.

Vocals & Percussion by GRETA VALENTI.

Guitar & Bass by ROBIN DAVEY.


Mixed & Mastered by WILL MOTT at 73 PRODUCTIONS.


Assistant Recording Engineering by BRANDON RAMIREZ.



FRESH from reviewing the always-mind-blowing-and-beautiful ADI…

I am crossing continents and oceans; across the genres- to a completely different proposition.  Before I reach my featured act, I have been thinking about the band market; the composition of bands- and those that will ascend to the mainstream.  At the moment, I am keeping an eye on the mainstream bands: those that are well-established and leading the way- seeing what they are coming up with.  This year has been defined by some underwhelming efforts; unexpected bands coming through- and stealing top honours.  I have banged-on about the merits and virtues of Royal Headache: Australia’s finest have nailed the short and concise Punk-Rock song; mixing heart and heartfelt vocals- plenty of gritty riffs and colourful compositions.  Nobody expected them to record a new album- since they split following their debut- and fewer expected such a unified and flawless album.  If you have not heard of the band, make sure you check them out- High is an album that should not pass by.  Away from the out-of-leftfield gems, the bigger boys have not fared wholly well: from the likes of The Libertines and The Vaccines; The Strypes and Mumford and Sons.  The Libertines had a world of expectation on their shoulders: critics were looking for an Up the Bracket sound-alike; something that harked-back to their young days- that same freewheelin’ spirit and under-produced chaos.  What we got (on their album Anthems for Doomed Youth) was something developed and matured: gone were the fireworks and scuzzy riffs; replaced by something more controlled and grown-up- perhaps you can’t relive the past; just have to accept the future.  The album has some classic ‘Libertines moments- about 4 or 5 solid efforts- but the rest is a little lackluster and distilled.  The Vaccines and The Styrpes are duo that had fairly impressive debuts: this year’s efforts have been somewhat underwhelming and stale; by their own standards really not up to the task.  Throw into the mix Mumford and Sons- to be fair all of their albums are gutless and completely banal- but they hardly reinvented the wheel- choosing to bore in a whole new way.  It seems the mainstream’s finest can’t always produce reliability and consistency; we have to look to lesser-known acts- and discover something different and new.  That is good, I guess: if the music industry were predictable and formulaic; then people would be turned-off- the pleasure comes from unearthing a terrific new band.  My concern is that the band market is starting to wane and crumble: the solo artists of the land are producing more innovative and spectacular music; again, the underground acts have to salvage respect.  I am thankful there are so many great under-the-radar bands; the new generation coming through- it leads me to believe there can be an overhaul and renewal; replace the old guard with some fresh and pioneering artists.  My featured artists are a transatlantic group; one of the most exciting groups out of the traps- that are renowned for their stunning live performances.  Before I raise a couple of new points- compositions of bands and the styles/sounds they make, let me introduce Well Hung Heart:

Well Hung Heart is a part American, part English Alt-Rock Trio band residing in Southern California and founded by Greta Valenti and Robin Davey. Well Hung Heart’s reckless and raw live performances earned the band a reputation as well as numerous awards including the Best Live Band & Best Music Video OC Music Awards 2014. The rock trio has have spent their first couple years in existence focusing on touring and songwriting; self-releasing a series of sold out Limited Edition Albums and EPs and booking tours across the US, UK & Europe. Appearing at the prestigious venues such as London’s O2 Academy, the Paradiso in Amsterdam and many festivals including SXSW 2015, Warped Tour, Rocklahoma, Center of the Universe Festival, Sturgis Buffalo Chip, Ink N’ Iron, Make Music Festival, Denton35, and more. Their high-energy performance and new rock sound, derving from a classic rock/blues foundation with a blistering edge and a front woman that the rock world has never seen, has earned them a diverse collection of shows ranging from Indie/Alternative to Hard Rock, playing alongside names as Linkin Park, Fitz & The Tantrums, ZZ Top, Motley Crue, Awolnation, Alice Cooper, Panic! at the Disco, Kongos, Grimes, Young The Giant,  Grouplove, The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm, Social Distortion, John Fogerty, and Mohave Lords (members from QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal, Kyuss). Well Hung Heart are touring worldwide in spring/summer 2015 in support of their forthcoming self-titled EP and summer single releases.

Well Hung Heart’s rise has been completely self-propelled and boosted by their inventive audio-visual output via their YouTube Channel. The duo direct and produce their own award-winning music videos and TV Shows; including the award-winning web series “Made in 48”, in which two artists collaborate to create a new song and video in only 48 Hours.   (Photography by John Hampton & Aerovision.)”

Vocals, Keys, Percussion / Greta Valenti
Guitar + Bass / Robin Davey
Drums / Kevin Conroy

In terms of the most successful bands- when it comes to their sound and make-up- I find the all-male/all-female line-up creates limitations and issues.  Not only are your vocal tones and possibilities reigned-in, the sound can be somewhat hampered.  There are more all-male bands (than all-female); when groups mix gender- that is when the most exciting and varied music comes-about.  I am seeing more female-fronted bands come through- which is pleasing and adds diversity to the scene- which has been long-overdue.  The boys usually dominate bands and the band market: having the girls become more prominent is a very good thing.  A lot of critics and sceptics think female leads have limited vocal potential (when compared with their male counterparts) which is not entirely true.  Whilst most of Rock’s- and indeed music itself- biggest and most range-spanning voices are male; that is not to say the girls are lacking- they can cover ground and emotions the boys cannot.  In my opinion, so long as the voice is strong and impressive, it should not matter the gender- diversity is much-needed in music; breaking the rigid structures currently imposed.  Well Hung Heart not only has a boy-girl formation; their sounds are hard and heavy; they contain heart and composure- at its core is bags of riffs and plenty of rampancy.  Based out of California, the band is one of the most impressive in the U.S.: their unique songs and stunning performances are just the start of things; they dig that bit deeper- create music that steps-away from the mainstream acts.  Whilst the mainstream has some great acts- that are capable of seducing at every turn- Well Hung Heart are heading for the big leagues very soon.  Having supported some wonderful acts, the band’s self-titled E.P. is out there: initial reaction has been positive and impassioned.  It is always baffling seeing a great band like Well Hung Heart- who have produced a stunning E.P. – garner so few reviews and column inches.  Maybe the U.S. press has been busy and productive, yet scanning Google- there seems to be little press dedicated to the release.  The band have worked hard to get where they are- and have staved off the pitfalls of young bands (creative droughts and financial issues) – to establish themselves in the U.S.

If you want a complete picture of the band- where they come from and how they have progressed- you have to look back.  When the band’s debut album was released- 2013’s Young Enough to Know it All– there was plenty of spunk and gravitas- right from the off.  Devil was one of the album’s highlights: beginning with a sturdy and crunching riff- that put me in mind of Queens of the Stone Age- the song is a swaggering and Blues-Rock beauty.  The song looks at Devil imagery and trips to Hell: our heroine’s voice crackles with urgency; she is being driven to the fiery depths- whether speaking of a relationship or something more oblique- you can sense that pain and anger come through.  Inspired by Alison Mosshart- little flecks of her vocal style come through- the song swings and shakes its fists.  With a pummeling and insistent percussive slam; a twisting and head-spinning set of riffs- the song implores you to get on your feet; throw your arms in the air- it is a huge anthem for the festival masses.

   This is Not Love is a more gentle and building introduction: our heroine comes in alluringly and deceitful.  Speaking to her man/a friend she “will hurt you”- before taking it away.  Whatever is being felt (“This is not love”) it is causing a lot of anxiety and confusion.  When the chorus is delivered- that mantra that comes back again and again- you pick up English accentuation; northern vowels and a very charming Britishness- whether intentional or not.  Contained within a song that is a distinctly U.S. offering- shades of Blues-Rock bands like The Dead Weather and The Black Keys- there is that bond with the U.K.  The song builds on that repeated chorus; its central message is in focus: you cannot help but be sucked into that chant- wonder just what is behind it.  Whether the relationship has broken up; or the couple is going through the motions- it is an unnatural and breaking bond.  Valenti’s voice is more expansive on this number: from the teasing lows of the beginning it rises in the chorus- reaching an ecstatic scream towards the latter stages.  Remaining authoritative and compelling, the track never becomes repetitive or predictable- keeping the listener guessing until the very end.

With their debut album being so commanding and instant; Go Forth and Multiply– the follow-up album released April, 2014- carries on that quality control.  Big Plans is a racing and dizzying assault: beginning with a fast-paced riff, the song snaps and jumps into life.  Hooks are in skin- of the song’s focal figure- and twisted and distorted imagery is brought in.  Our heroine’s voice is at its most natural and assured- less reliance of Mosshart-esque delivery- whilst the song itself contains plenty of vividity and quotable lyrics.  Since the debut cut, the band’s confidence had grown; the music on their sophomore effort seems more rounded and nuanced- with more dimensions and sides.  Big Plans has a huge and arena-sized chorus; the music is less grizzled and raw- than on their debut- projecting a more Pop and Alt-Rock elements.

   Sweet is one of the most straight-to-the-gut tracks.  The introduction has some twanging and heavy strings- one of the most fascinating riffs the band has produced- whilst the lyrics look at hazy dreams and reality.  The song sees a guy walk away; perhaps leave for good- our heroine seems wracked and lost.  That passion and pain comes through in the vocal: never has Valenti sounded as fevered and compelling as on Sweet.  The composition ties in more radio-friendly lines with a druggy and dingy undertow- the combination works superbly.  Uplifting and hugely powerful, the song is a monster: the riffs build and ignite; the percussion and bass keep everything tight and focused.  So much detail is thrown into the track: some loose and rambling notes; pummeling beats and electrifying riffs- all seamless and natural; working away to elicit the biggest emotional reaction.  Go Forth and Multiply tops their debut album- which was pretty damn good and spectacular to begin- with no fault to the band.  Their debut showed how assured and fully-formed they were from the start: there are no fillers on the eleven-track L.P.; plenty of anthemic moments and huge numbers.  What the sophomore album did was to expand their sound: the sonic palette is richer and more vibrant; there are more Pop and Al-Rock sides; the songs are more wide-ranging.  Not that the band gave into market forces: if anything, their sophomore work goes against the mainstream expectations.  Their debut had a lot of sweaty and gritty riffs; more direct and gut-punching assaults.  Here, they have plenty of those; yet there are softer moments- songs that rely more on lyrical resonance as opposed to the primacy and hardness of the composition.

   Well Hung Heart ties the Blues-Rock smash with melodic considerations: the set of songs (on the E.P.) are the band’s finest.  The overall sound/lyrical themes have not changed-up too much- the guys did not need to up-sell or radicalise their music.  What you get is that additional confidence and assurance: with each new release the band sounds more solid and formed.  The songs are still loose and live-sounding, yet there are fewer nerves; every note sounds completely compelling and confident- not many bands can offer you that.  Their latest cut is abound with inspired tracks and wonderful performances- the band have hit their stride in terms of tightness- and everything sounds more authoritative and layered.  The songs are more nuanced and uncompromising; the music has that extra edge- something indefinable but definitely true.  This bodes well for the future- increasing and improving with age- so I would advise checking-out the entirety of the band’s work; but make sure Well Hung Heart is at the centre.

Throw It All Away begins with an insatiable clatter and rush.  Before you can speculate and imagine what is coming; the band unleashes a feverish and racing introduction- mixing ‘70s Glam and modern-day Blues-Rock.  The tight and compelling opening beckons-in our heroine: her early words are introspective and pained; looking at love and loss- there seems to be some anger and regret afoot.  Cryptic and mysterious- “A black hole/isn’t what it seems to be”- things have come to an end.  It seems her sweetheart has let her down; we are looking into the black hole of a dislocated love- something that has hit the rocks.  As the verse continues- and that composition continues to strike and viper-attack- that anger and annoyance begins to grow.  “I followed you somewhere in my mind/Oh lately, you’re such a waste of time” can leave no room for misinterpretation.  The vocal is impassioned and determined- with little flecks of Gwen Stefani, oddly enough- as the song becomes looser and more swaggering.  Although the composition is razor-sharp and disciplined; the riffs and percussion relax slightly; swing and jive- the bass keeps the song focused and directed.  As is typical with the band- and what we have seen on previous releases- is their attention to detail.  The sonic coda is not a lazy paint-by-number jam: there are clever little asides; a rich and nuanced centre- the performances throughout are stunning.  The focal point is our heroine, who is in the quagmire of a break-up; the lyrics seem to look at dissatisfaction- also that ability to hold onto a fantasy; keep an image alive.  As the next verse unfolds, the words are intriguing: “Chemicals/when we two combine/A power flows/through our body line”.  It seems like there is still a passion and power there; the two have a history and legacy: when they get-together, there is electricity and magic.  Maybe I am misreading or misinterpreting; it seems like there is a physicality and intensity: when things get beyond a molecular level; that is when the issues start to surface.  When it comes to trust and faith- and relying on her man- that is when things start to slip.   The lyrics have an obliqueness that could lend themselves to a different speculation.  Maybe a friendship is being assessed; perhaps something less tangible and human- a general feeling or sensation.  Keeping my mind within the realms of romance and break-down, you cannot deny the vocal commitment: our heroine’s performance is constantly electric and enflamed; her voice breaks through the composition- never coming across too raptured or insincere.  A lot of singers tend to be overwrought and over-dramatic; many plainer anodyne and generic- no such issues here.  The composition is such a details and snaking thing: from the hit-and-run smash, it mutates to a woozy and addled crawl- mixing elements of Garage, Desert-Rock and Blues-Rock.  The riffs are particularly colourful and intense: always keeping the tension high, they change shape and consistency.  Backed by that central vocal line- that becomes more seductive and breathless when looking at physical chemistry- and Throw It All Away keeps you guessing and alert.  The chorus is one of the most catchy the band have produced in their career.  Coming back to roost- the lyrics are economical and do not use too many different words- it becomes more gripping with every injection.  Upon the second introduction, the composition swirls and spins; guitar is delirious and intoxicated; the percussion hissing and dangerous- the bass mixes melody and rhythm; passion and intensity.  Before the song comes to its end- and the chorus is brought in for an encore- there are some intrigued words.  “Unpredictable/well it changed night to day/And now I know/well there’s no other way”- so much curiosity and emotional possibility can be extrapolated.  If we stick with romantic possibilities; it seems the game has been changed- the dynamic has shifted and there is no going back.  Whatever has caused the ruction; whoever is to blame- it seems the two can never rekindle what they once had.  Again, my mind is always looking elsewhere: the words are not clear-cut (they do not name a man or mention love) so you could consider friendships or other relationships.  The vocal elongates and rises; really capturing that sense of distress and confusion- and taking the listener in.  With the chorus being brought back in (twice in fact) the song ends its campaign; leaves it marks- ending with a mazzy and dramatic riff; some exceptional bass and percussive notes.

Having dug through the band’s annals; investigated their past work- Throw It All Away ranks as one of their key moments.  Combining their heavy and melodic sensibilities; tying-in all their preexisting threads- it is a song that sees them at their most confident and assured.  Since their debut-days, they have increased this confidence: the performance (here) seems completely intuitive and tight; never a moment of weakness or inattentiveness.  This leads to a rich and passionate song that has plenty of nuance and depth- not just your run-of-the-mill Garage slammer.  In the contemporary climate, similarly-themed bands (that play Garage and Blues-Rock) vary in quality- the very best of the breed stick in the mind.  Well Hung Heart are a band that get better and better: their entire E.P. is alive with inspiration and commitment; they are clearly having a lot of fun making music.  This ease and relax is reflected in the music, which does not sound stifled or forced: throughout Throw It All Away it is the sound of a band jamming with alacrity; in love with what they are doing.  The song does have that great live-sounding quality- the production does not polish the track; it gives it an edgy undertone- which means the listener is transported into the mix.  Greta Valenti shows herself to be one of the scene’s most assured and exciting vocalists.  Most singers tend to stick too closely to someone else- you can easily detect the influences- yet Valenti has her own style and voice.  Employing the hallmarks of great Punk and Garage singers- the rawness and power; some emotive and tender sides- everything comes to life throughout the track.  Robin Davey lets guitar and bass run a gamut of emotions: striking and ballistic; spiraled and cool-edged- his strings perfectly soundtrack our heroine’s plight.  Whilst the lyrics and vocals summon a huge amount of emotion and evocativeness; the guitar matches it note-for-note: the two works seamlessly with one another; supporting as they go.  Using his bass to lead and guide the song; keep everything in-check; there is a huge amount of melody and rhythm- it also augments and propels the vocals and drum work.  On that note, Kevin Conroy’s percussion is consistently assured and fantastic: creating such an atmosphere and sense of occasion, his sticks are ignited from start to finish.  Reminding me of Dave Grohl’s most complex and committed performances, we get plenty of primal power; some nice fills and asides- one of the most talented and powerful drummers on the scene.  The entire band is tight and together throughout: each player knows their role (and plays it superbly); they highlight and motivate each other- leading to a song that shows lesser bands how it should be done.  The stand-out track from Well Hung Heart; make sure you check this track out!

The Well Hung Heart clan are preparing for a U.S. tour: traveling around the country, they will be taking their E.P. to the masses.  As I write, they have just played California; they move to Texas today- exciting new faces and ears.  Throw It All Away is the centerpiece of a remarkable E.P.; one that bristles with inventiveness and life- I shall touch on the E.P. below.  Coming into the music world can be a lottery: there is no guarantee your music will resonate with the public; longevity is never a guarantee- regardless of the quality and ambition.  The Californian-based band has already stamped-out a reputation; are growing in stature- still to hit their absolute peak.  Their brand of music will never go out of fashion: the public will always crave something hard and heavy; music that is meaty and filled with riffs- that has intelligence and originality too.  The band does not remind you of anyone else; their personalities and directions override conceptions- their sounds are among the most fresh and fervent about.  The confidence with which they play; the exhilarating live performances: these are just a couple of sides to an incredible act.  I opened this review by looking at the band market; where they are based- and the mainstream in general.  I have been a little disheartened by 2015’s supposed ‘best’ albums: this year has seen some great releases for sure; the big players have left me a little cold- seemingly their best days are starting to disappear from the rear-view mirror.  It is the under-proffered acts like Royal Headache that are providing most excitement- it seems 2016 will see some potential big-hitters release some new material.  For now, we must look elsewhere; see what is happening in new music: here there are some incredible bands emerging; providing unique sounds and some memorable jams.  Well Hung Heart were new to me- having seen The Dutch Guy recommend them; had to investigate- and I am glad they are no longer strangers.  That is the issue with the masses of artists and social media: there are no real channels that can filter the good from the bad.  I often come across some great acts- and wonder why the hell they remained a mystery- only to find they are established flourishing.  This is the case with Well Hung Heart: a band that have been plying for a while; just wish I could have got in on the ground-level- and supported them from the off.  I guess you can’t be aware of every great act that comes about: you just have to follow the words of the best music reviewers; steal from some groovy Dutch divining rod- and keep your ear to the ground.  Regardless, Well Hung Heart are here, and well, it is not just the hearts that are hung- their music is among the most febrile and head-spinning around.  Gritty and ballsy enough to mix-it with the pedigree bands- I can see them schlepping on the road with Royal Blood.  With Throw It All Away wetting appetites and exciting fans; the band’s E.P. is seeing them in-demand.  I love that fact the band market is becoming less homogenised: it is not just all-male bands out there; a great deal of all-girl groups are showing their stripes- and mixed-gender balances like Well Hung Heart.  The dynamic works really well: with Valenti up-front; letting her powering and seductive voice own it- and the boys providing bass, guitar and percussive support- the blend is phenomenal.  London is coming back to the fore; the city is overtaking cities like Manchester and Leeds- housing the most diverse and prosperous musicians in the U.K.  In the U.S., I feel L.A. (and California) is overtaking New York and Nashville: there is that extra edge; that additional passion and direction- hard to put my finger on it.  I love American music: from the busy communities of California and New York; to the traditional highs of Seattle and Nashville; the lesser-known cities and regions- the nation is certainly on a hot streak right now.

The rest of the E.P. contains the same amount of verve and oomph: there is not a weak spot on the record to be found.  Touch the Sky is a head-banging and violent beginning: the song spares no time in getting underneath the skin.  There is a mixture of juvenile delinquency and rebellion; a little naivety and vulnerability- our heroine is singing into her best microphone; forgetting her relationship dramas.  The entire track never relents its fast pace and endeavours: the composition mutates and changes course- going from a straight-laced attack to something winding and contorted.  Images of our heroine- high and forgetting about her guy- she is the master of her destiny; fully in control of things- touching the sky through narcotics, alcohol, and music, it seems.  You picture the heroine losing herself inside various illicit things; there is some cockiness and wit- the lyrics are some of the band’s most interesting and quote-worthy.  An incredibly tight and passionate performance, the song is economical and memorable- it is exactly three minutes long and does not waste any moments or notes.  Full-bodied and blood-lusting, the vocal is charged and determined- you can practically smell the sweat bouncing off the microphone.  Less gritty and raw than previous numbers, it provides a perfect balance of their debut and sophomore work: those low-down and grumbling riffs; the more sky-scarping and multi-dimensional sounds.

   Play Me a Song starts with a teasing and catchy lick: the song begins with composure and calm.  Our heroine is looking at the wreckage of a relationship; how they fought and quarreled- if they had thought things through they could have grown.  Not surviving the fall-out you think everything is beyond repair- if a certain song were played; things would be okay.  Mixing in child-like and school-time images (a scrapbook filled with memories for example) you can sense that vulnerability and emotion- the vocal is tinged with tears and sadness throughout.  A potent and lustful vocal, the entire number is both radio-friendly and deeply personal.  You can imagine this touching and uniting crowds: there is universality to the words; the sentiments can be appreciated by everyone- it is likely to gain quite a following.

The E.P. started with a bracing swagger (Throw it All Away); then followed it with two ‘softer’ numbers- that took the mood down and projected beauty rather than concrete.  Lights Out returns to the opening-song projection: beginning with a racing and spinning riff, the band are on fire.  Back in the groove and alive, the song is a rampant and furious thing.  The vocal is Punk-edged and visceral; the song mixes sexual innuendo and innocence.  With every utterance and thought- our heroine on her knees in front of her man- that is that knowing wink.  Perhaps not as sexualised as intended, the lyrics have a wonderful edge to them- half your mind is in dirty and late-night rendez vous; the other half is somewhere more sanitary and clean.  At its heart, the song’s chorus takes a hold: wordless vocals/coos mingle with that subject title- elicited and repeated with aplomb, it is endlessly catchy.  It is a song that will spark-up the crowds and get them singing.  In addition to the catchy lyrics and chunky riffs, the song lasts 138 seconds: like older Punk songs- think of The Ramones for instance- it says all it needs in a short space.  Concise and tight, the track is one of the E.P.s best; one of the band’s best- a stunning gem.

The final number is no real slouch: Killing Time is the album’s most feral and hard-nailed track.  The gutsy and primal riff beckons in a vocal (that at the beginning) is quite tempered and controlled.  Our heroine has attack on her mind: a girl is in her thought; she will give her a piece of mind- put her in her place.  Political and social messages come into the song- the realities of living in the U.S. – a new era dawning- reminding me of Rage Against the Machine’s early works.  Certainly that innovative guitar work is comparable: the riffs swing between gut-punching to intergalactic; twisted to sensual- taking the song to strange new places.  The lead vocal is endlessly determined and urgent: our heroine is pulling the trigger and letting Hell reign.

The entire E.P. benefits from the unity of the band: each performance is close-knit and tight; each player supports the other.  An insatiable and layered E.P.; songs that mix emotion and heartache with acidity and double-cross; it is an E.P. for the times.  Showcasing the band’s most complete and assured set of numbers, there are no loose or weak moments.  Well Hung Heart is sure to recruit new fans; seduce and enthrall new support- and please their existing fan-base.  The production values allow the music to resonate truly- keeping it quite sparse and unfettered- whilst there is enough polish to allow each word and note to be understood.  What impressed me most is the consideration that goes into the E.P.  The track listing is spot-on; the running order is perfectly formed: it means the strongest tracks are not in a block; you get a nice balance- same goes with emotional and sonic contrast.  From sweet-leaf vibes to hard-arsed mixology, the E.P. is flowing with emotion and grit; plenty of sensitivity and heart- meaning it makes a conscious effort to reach the masses.  Showing just what California’s musicians can offer; Well Hung Heart is a brave testament from a band on the rise- with a big future mapped-out in front of them.  If you require music to deliver the coolness and swagger of Queens of the Stone Age; vocals that run the gamut of emotions; a band that are completely in-step and compelling- then make sure you check-out these guys.  With so many of the major players slipping-up; a lot of music mediocre and under-developed, bank on something…

THAT won’t let you down.


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