E.P. Review: The Moth Lantern- Barricade



The Moth Lantern







The E.P. Barricade is available at:


24th July, 2015



Lincolnshire, U.K.


Barricade (All of This is Everything) – 9.3

Bring out the Claws- 9.4

Air- 9.4


Bring out the Claws


ONE of the reasons for my rather ‘boisterous’ rate of output…

is due to a (the need for a) distraction.  What with the horrors of job-searching- fruitlessly trying to get my arse out of Surrey (and the worst it has to offer) and to London- I need something to keep me ‘upbeat.’  It is terrific discovering a new act- that I have not surveyed before- yet coming back to a band/artist; that does else: it gives me causes for celebration; a chance to see how they have grown/developed.  In the music scene, you go one of two ways: start out strongly and collapse under the weight of financial/creative pressure or you keep going.  It may be black-and-white but there are few exceptions: I have seen too many great acts go down the first road.  When a (truly great) act makes headway; keeps producing records, it sends out a positive message: newcomers need not be afraid; there is a chance for them to succeed.  It is not just luck and hard woirk that creates this longevity: the music being produced has to be original and striking; penetrate the public ear- essentially, it has to appeal.  This year has seen some great acts come through; there have also been some dreadful ones to boot.  It is the female solo acts that are impressing most; the band market is flourishing- the male singer-songwriting realm is somewhat dirge-producing.  James Bay is perhaps the epitome of the point: something so bland, generic and wasteful, I have no idea why anyone buys his music.  The most interesting thing about him is his head-wear, and to be fair, Pharrell Williams has him licked- and can produce a few good tunes to boot.  The band market is starting to inspire (acts of the underground), which is where my thoughts have turned.  Having reviewed Tennessee’s Daphne & the Mystery Machines this morning- with their uplifting and spine-tingling Americana- I am not back at home- and welcome back some old friends.  Last year, I was lucky enough to assess Light Waves: the debut album from Lincolnshire’s (The) Moth Lantern.  What impressed me about the album- in addition to many other factors- was the consistent songwriting.  When it comes to music- and especially new music- the lyrics are a let-down: usually it is the music and vocals that resonate most.  In Dan Clark- the group’s principle songwriter- they have a stunning pen-smith: someone who can not only effortless taps into the common heart; he can write oblique and obtuse themes- a songwriter who is both agile and inspiring.  Before I continue on, let me introduce the band.

Dan Clark– Guitars, Lyrics and Music.

Jason Rungapadiachy– Bass, Lead Vocals; Lyrics on Bring out the Claws

Joanne Clark– Keys, Backing Vocals

Eddie George– Backing Vocals, Percussion

The Moth Lantern are a four piece indie rock band from the UK whose funky ballads, catchy choruses and colourful jams encompass the spirit of timeless bands such as Fleetwood Mac and Beck. The Moth Lantern offer a concoction of powerful, gritty lead male vocals harmonised with soft, folkish female backing amongst crunching riffs, tight rhythm sections and psychedelic keys to create an edgy and enticing sound. Having been selected to play the Emerging Icons stage at The London 2012 Olympics and having featured on BBC Introducing East Midlands several times, The Moth Lantern’s mix of gentle acoustic ballads and harmonious rock songs present impossibly catchy choruses and immaculately layered production which makes their music impossible to forget.

The four-piece band (in general) may be as common as Katie Price- and as manufactured and fake a lot of the time- yet there are those peeking through.  The Moth Lantern are not your run-of-the-mill Indie/Alternative act: each player contributes to the sound; the music is not dominated by one voice- it is a group effort and communal sound.  Although Clark’s words are at the forefront, it is the compositions that resonate in the mind- the result of each band member.  Backed by Jo Clark- Dan and Jo are a husband-and-wife- the vocals switch from tough and pervasive, to lush and ethereal.  This time around- unlike Light Waves– Dan steps back from vocal duties; drummer Eddie George provides backing vocals.   Taking on lead vocals is Jason Rungapadiachy: his inimitable tones add weight and texture to each track.  Compositions move from psychedelic swagger to introspective tenderness- all within the space of a few moments.  Light Waves was met with acclaim and plaudit: I still listen to that L.P. now; the critical feedback was effusive and congratulatory.  Having retreated to focus on new material, the band is back: Barricade is as striking and focused as its title.  What differentiates the music- from their earliest work- is the confidence and growth.  Their L.P. was rife was stunning tunes and terrific band interplay- although there were one or two rough edges; the odd song that was not quite as inspired as you’d expect (no fault of anyone within the band).  The new, three-track E.P. is faultlessly focused as tight: there are no loose notes or wasted moments- every minute has been well thought-out and performed; this has all been achieved whilst retaining a great, live-sounding core- that makes it such a triumph.  I will go into more depth below, but I am impressed by the band’s development: it not only bodes well for future released, but serves as guidance to others- how you can progress/inspire if you have a great line-up.

Barricade (All of This is Everything) is first out the blocks: the title itself is intriguing and open to interpretation.  Any die-hard fans (of the band) may be in for a surprise: the springing and scratchy introduction notes signal a move towards more Rock-infused avenues.  The initial seconds- building off a fast and frantic guitar- joins with percussion: the resultant coming-together kicks the song up a gear; gets the E.P. to the races.  Reminding me of early-days Manic Street Preachers (The Holy Bible) and The Libertines (Up the Bracket) there is a mix of ‘90s Indie and ‘00s Rock- the early words mix trips “into the unknown” and uncertainty.  Whether speaking to a friend or lover- based in fiction or fact- the lines look at protection and danger: the hero is trying to keep the wolves at bay; barricade the doors shut- to prevent any harm befalling (his subject).  The vocal itself- stronger and more determined than previous Moth Lantern outings- is determined and impassioned.  Backed by a rushing composition, you are caught up in the story: that struggle-against-the-tide story unfolds and progresses- the sense of nerve and danger ever-present.  Barricade’ is a song that showcases just what the band defines: that effortless and natural sound; the fantastic relations the members’ have- each player adds to the overall mood.  Between verses the band unleashes some hurried and harried strings; clattering propulsion- that emphasises that sense of claustrophobia and struggle.    Our lead turns the spotlight on himself- focusing on his struggle and sense of strain- as the song becomes more heated and defiant (the Manic Street Preachers comparisons came back to mind).  With the walls closing in; the haters/forces gathering, our hero sends out a plea:  “Stay with me/ ‘cause we got history.”   The song wins stripes because of the blend of simplicity and universality.  The lyrics share common themes and ideals- yet have a personal perspective to them- whereas the composition is both classic and current- it is straight-ahead and simple; direct and strong.  The Moth Lantern always does well with sing-along choruses; here they reach new peaks: the chorus here is one of their most effective and chant-worthy.  When Clark (Jo) combines vocals, the song changes up a gear: it becomes more effective and real- that sense of interplay and comradery gives it that extra something.  At the closing stages, the chorus is reuttered and deployed: not only leaving the song on a high but ramping up the emotions and sense of strain.  My mind was racing (when listening to the song) as to what inspired it; what is behind the story- that mystery may die with (Dan) Clark.  A great opening salvo, it sets out the band’s ‘new’ sound- their more Rock-infused direction- and welcomes them back into the public bosom.  Showcasing a great band performance (although not the strongest cut on the E.P.) it is an impressively memorable track- one that is designed for the venue floors and arena crowds.

Bring out the Claws begins somewhat differently (compared to its predecessor) and possesses a softer heart- it fades in and starts more gently.  Given the song’s title, that sense of restraint does not last too long: the band comes to play and unfurl a pummeling introduction- one that rattles and runs; strikes and retreats.  The vocal here- low-down and crooning; dark and imploring- looks at something rather animalistic and dangerous (“It’s got teeth/and I know you saw them too.”)  In the midst of the unfolding images- blood on hand; beasts on the loose; being shred in two- there is humour and uplift (whether intentional or not)- the song makes you smile as much as it does think.  With a unique vocal- that sees Jason Rungapadiachy present his sonorous tones- the song is gripping and original.  Few bands have a great vocalist let alone three (Rungapadiachy comes into his own as a singer- performing on the E.P.- whereas Dan Clark steps back): their bass player joins with George to present a story with beasts and feasting; canine lust and blood-fest- another one of those songs you mull over.  Whereas the title track looked at fighting the forces, here there seems to be another dimension: a nightmarish vision; uncertainty and choices; fighting the darkness.  With Rungapadiachy’s sharpened pen (he wrote lyrics to this track)- presenting a track filled with oblique edges and stunning images- the song causes smiles.  Complicated and intelligent, defiant and striking, the vocal work is at its peak: Jo Clark joins the fray, and when the trio unites, you get the biggest shivers and effect.  It is the deployment of the lyrics that is stunning to hear: the words are not lazily tossed-off and sung; there is a real ear for timing and emotion; the phrasing and projection beings the words to life.  Bring out the Claws is one of the busiest and most bustling tracks (on the E.P.): the composition is multi-part and multifarious; the song changes direction and skin- agile and nimble it ducks and dives; making sure the listener is kept on their toes.  The guitar work- at its most effective here- adds necessary bite and vitality; the bass is taut and strong- the percussion gallops and guides.  Whereas Barricade’ was more Indie-sounding and focused, here there is adventure and expansion: the band does not repeat themselves at any time; Bring out the Claws is the perfect mid-way point.  Once again looking at life’s adversity- battling demons and bad choices; holding out in the midst of uncertainty- the band sound essential and urgent- completing a superb one-two.

Closing the E.P, is Air: one would think we have a light and airy closer here.  The opening notes dispel any sense of calm and relax: the initial notes are bouncing and ducking; the song is the most instant and rushing (on the E.P.)- making sure Barricade closes with a belter.  It is here that the new ‘Rock sound’ really shows its testicles: The Moth Lantern have never sounded as heavy and menacing.  Air kicks and swaggers; if it were a human it would be a leather-clad biker- thumbing against authority and smoking endless nicotine.  With elements of Muse and Radiohead, the track keeps gripping grabbing- little dashes of Talking Heads sprinkled in for good measure.  Spacey and gritty; insistent and bracing, the song is the band’s most anthemic and festival-ready.  When the vocal comes in, the subject matter is as foreboding (as the composition).  Our lead is looking over the precipice- and very evident of the mortal drop below- buckled against the rush of gravity.  There is a sense of disillusionment and not ‘fitting in’: our man (once more) is fighting against pain and adversity- the lyrics mix personal doubts and fears.  It is the incredible keys-and-guitar combination that gives Air its infectious belt: the track keeps bouncing and springing (like an extended version of the outro to Knights of Cydonia).  The band unites again vocally; when the voices are blended, you get the biggest rush- and the song reaches its peak.  When it comes to interpretations- trying to dig to the song’s core- there is a little mystique and wiggle-room.  Lyrics switch between dreaming and driving; falling and fears- they rush by as fast as the composition- causing a dizzying effect.  Essentially, there is that core of demon-facing/overcoming fears- one of Barricade’s hallmarks.  The entire E.P. looks at a very common issue (we can all relate to): whether Dan Clark has been particularly affected- and faced some personal upheaval- I am not sure; yet it shows a great new direction- the new, Rock-influenced sound suits them fantastically.  Whilst not quite as strong as Bring out the Claws, Air is a superb closer- one that is a fitting swansong.  Towards the closing moments, the band unleashes their inner space demon: the intergalactic, Space Age electronics fuzz and vibrate- you can feel those little touches of Origins of Symmetry-era Muse.  Like a galloping horse, the band keep that epic-ness afoot: the riffs are relentless and fast-paced; the percussion and bass frantic and fist-aloft-against-the-tide- each note and thought adds to the boiling, psychotropic cauldron.  Before the E.P. is through, The Moth Lantern throw in another de-tour: the final moments mingle softer moments (among the rapturous kick).  The hypothesis- or rather, the losing chapter- wraps things up.  Our hero is “not coming up for air.”  He has been wronged (and let down) and you sense some submissiveness and defeat- that sense that his luck is done.  Trying to be strong, instead he’s sinking like a stone- when all’s said and done; he’s not coming up for air.

Congratulations to the band, who have produced a stunning E.P. – one that gets stronger (and more compelling) with every new listen.  Improving on Light Waves, Barricade is their strongest work: their new harder edge works wonderfully.  Complete with a trio of stunning songs- that are unique and diverse- and you have a band with huge ambition.  It is hard to impress with just a trio of tracks, yet here they have done that: come the end, you find yourself wanting more; hoping there is a hidden track (there isn’t).  Perhaps the vocals get muted/buried a little at times- the opening track is most culpable- and this happens during Air too- for the most part, the vocals and clear and decipherable; the production rich and clear.  Minor detraction aside, The Moth Lantern should be applauded: they have compiled an E.P. that is personal and universal; ready for festivals- yet something that seems quite intimate (at times).  The production itself allows the band full flight: each instrument and compositional element is given full breathing room- nothing is compressed or mixed low; each composition is allowed to breathe and strike- meaning every track hits full potential.  In terms of vocal, it is not needlessly high up the mix- at times it suffers; for the most part it doesn’t- making the E.P. sound like a genuine band effort- some bands put their lead up front and leave the other members behind.  The Moth Lantern are, first and foremost, a collective: every member is essential to the music; each comes into their own here.  Vocal duties are split between the Rungapadiachy, George and Clark: it is Rungapadiachy’s that provides lead vocals; Eddie George and Jo Clark backing- when all three unify, you get the biggest hit (Dan Clark has stepped back from vocals on this record).  Rungapadiachy’s lead vocals are an impressive replacement; it is great to have the bassist up front- he graces the E.P. with some tremendous vocals turns.  The songwriting is impressive throughout- the lyrics are never cliché or run-of-the-mill- and are those that can be appreciated by everyone.  Sharp and incisive lines mix with sing-along broadness: Clark has ensured the E.P. can be extrapolated and appreciated by a wide sect.  Jo Clark’s keys and vocals are stunning and mood-changing.  Adding magic and vibrancy in spades, you cannot ignore its effect.  Rungapadiachy’s bass work is reliable as ever: his unique tones add weight and majesty to the music; his guiding bass keeps the songs taut and controlled.  In addition, his lyrics (to Bring out the Claws) are both humouress and fascinating- he is developing into a fantastic songwriter.  Dan Clark’s sturdy lead drives the E.P. forward: he is a guitar talent with a stunning (and original voice).  In spite of not providing vocals, Clark wrote the lyrics (to tracks one and three); penned the music for the entire disc- showing himself as a songwriter to be reckoned with  He is the band’s leader and songwriter extraordinaire.  With Eddie George’s percussion hard and heavy; controlled and calm, and you have a superb backbone- his drum work adds primacy and danger to (the E.P.’s finest) moments.  His backing vocals are impressively strong throughout- the band have shown they have a range of incredible singers- his blend of emotion and heart help bring the songs to life.  Barricade shows The Moth Lantern in full flight: something I hope continues for years to come.

It is the bond of the quartet (that translates into terrific music).  Were the relationships collegial and insincere, you’d soon hear it- the music would be half-hearted and limp.  The Moth Lantern are friends and close-knit; they have a great understanding and mutual respect- this funnels into some wonderful music.  After Light Waves’ stunning example, I was expecting a new E.P.: to my mind, it would have been a natural run-on from the album.  What we have is something both new and familiar.  The band retains their key strengths and core sound, whilst expanding and developing their craft.  New themes and ideas are tossed into the pot- Clark has crafted three (musically)- two lyrically- of his most compelling tracks- whilst the band sound more essential and tight- you can hear the new confidence and passion.  Simple things impress me when it comes to Barricade: it is a three-track release, yet it seems just-so; the length is spot-on; the running time is neither too long nor too short.  That said, the E.P. begs for repeated listens and some teasing- the greedy listener begs for a fourth track; it means there will be some hungry/eager fans (looking for more music from the band).  The running order is great too: the title track perfectly opens things; Air is a brilliant closer- any other arrangement would mean a weaker release.  I hope the Lincolnshire band find some more support and reviewers: I know I am the first writer to tackle the E.P.; I hope more follow suit- the social media ranks deserve to be fuller and expansive.  Hopefully Barricade will go a long way (to getting more people to their shores) as the guys have worked tirelessly- making sure their E.P. is as strong as it could be.  Wonderful vocals- that mix of harmonies and strong lead- and incredible performances are rife; the production values are clear and concise- the songwriting is at its peak.  As 2015 runs down, The Moth Lantern will be hitting the road; bringing their new sounds to the people- hopefully they will have a chance to relax and reform.  When the new year emerges, they will look around (at their next E.P. or album) and where they go from here- that will be exciting to see.  The Moth Lantern have managed to remain very much them- whilst bringing in a harder, Rock-infused edge.  They have not compromised their ethics, instead they have evolved and grown- the same way all great bands have.  Radiohead started with Pablo Honey; their Rock-edge masterpiece The Bends (the greatest album ever produced) followed- they went on to introduce new sounds and aspects (into future releases).  Great acts understand the need to keep mobile and open-minded- will the next release be a ‘Moth Lantern version of OK Computer?  I doubt it, yet the quartet is growing in strength and innovation; they are bringing in new themes and sounds- all to the betterment of their overall sound.  Barricade is a perfect soundtrack for the ‘summer’ days: the breeziness and alacrity (of their softer moments); the hard rush and hooks (of the harder) seep into the mind; it gets you singing along- gripped by the natural chemistry the band produce.  My one hope is The Moth Lantern gain wider acclaim: are embraced beyond their base; demanded further afield- a chance for new faces to hear their music.  Social media is doing what it can, but more can be done- they are a group with a great future ahead; a lot more to say.  If you are unfamiliar with the band, rectify this immediately: once you have cottoned-on, be sure to share the word- and get others involved.  Barricade is the result of hard work and a lot of passion: make sure this is justly rewarded.  Whilst the band’s masterpiece is in their future, their current work is deeply impressive and nuanced; good enough to nestle with the best out there.  I look forward to seeing the four-piece in the flesh; bring them down to London- get venues/crowds here converted.  When all is said and done…

THAT will be great to see.



Follow The Moth Lantern:

















Track Review: Daphne & the Mystery Machines- Learn to Fall



Daphne & the Mystery Machines


Learn to Fall




Learn to Fall is available at:


January, 2015

Folk, Americana


Franklin, Tennessee, U.S.A.


FEW current acts manage to really grip the imagination…

with any real panache- impress you with their music and imagery; personality and projection (the whole package). With current music producing so many acts- there being a desperation to make an impression instantly; through fear of being forgotten- it is hard to stumble across real ‘characters.’ In the U.K. we have some pretty interesting musicians: those who win you over with their charm and personality; seduce you with their charm- it would be good to see it more often. To my mind, there is a lot of seriousness and po-faced acts: those that concentrate on the music alone- in person they come off as being rather humourless and business-like. It is not a big deal- and not the most important thing in music- but you want to connect with the human being- it makes everything a lot more effective and memorable. Whilst assessing some U.K.-based acts- including Los and the Deadlines and Jen Armstrong- I was not only amazed by the music- and its uniqueness and quality- but the people behind them. Witty, fun and friendly, it was great to see: musicians that feel very human and relatable; people you want to go out and see- those that give a lot to their fans. In the U.S., they do this a little better: produce musicians that captivate you on many fronts; have that vote-winning smile- fully-rounded musicians that know how to win fans. I know it is a small point- and as I said, not as vital as getting music right- but if you work on the image/personality, you can gain many more fans- ensure people keep coming back to you (and want others to discover you). When Daphne & the Mystery Machines were recommended to me- by an aforementioned Yorkshire stunner- I was hooked from the first moment: here is an act that intrigues you by looks/imagery alone. Delving into their social media, the band comes across as familial and warm-hearted: an Americana troupe that are built on a foundation of fun and warmth; kindness and community (complete with some stunning music). Before I go any further, let me introduce the band to you:

Josh Preston (beard of directors, lead guitar, happy feet)
Courtney Kinzer Blackwell (cello, bg vox)
Jenn Palmer (lead vox, guitar)
Daphne Culver (lead vox, guitar, harmonium, piano, accordion)
Jess Perkins (upright bass)
Amanda Palmer (harmony vox)

Daphne and the Mystery Machines was formed in July 2014. Daphne Culver (Missouri native), most locally known from her musical career with the Granny Whites, had met some amazing artists since she moved to Tennessee. First there was Jenn Palmer, (Sugar Dames and Anthony Adams & the Nite Owls) they became friends a few years ago, after, and always had a mutual respect and adoration of each other’s songwriting and vocal styles, so they started collaborating, not knowing if anything would ever come of it. Then Adam Taylor (originally from Iowa), was working as an engineer at the Sound Emporium at the time Daphne was working in the studio for The Granny Whites. He was so talented on the boards and in the studio, but soon Daphne would find out he was hiding an amazing talent, besides beard growing. He was a stellar guitarist and caught the attention of the Granny Whites, they started featuring him at live shows. Daphne became so enamored with his guitar playing alongside her own, she wanted him to join in on her sessions with Jenn. Soon after this trio was formed Maria Kowalski, violinist of Sage and the Saints and several other studio and touring projects got thrown in the mix (after Jenn worked with her in the studio for the Sugar Dames and was blown away by her emotional playing and creative stylings). Marias past remains a mystery, was she a dolphin trainer? Carnie? Escaped convict? Her mysteriousness is only matched by her insane skills on the violin. Courtney Kinzer Blackwell, (cellist from Honeyboy and Boots) was the last addition. Courtney (Washington native) came in the mix a little more by chance. She was playing at a CD release show in Franklin, TN at Kimbro’s Picking Parlor, and her performance on stage got the attention of Daphne. She searched her out and befriended her inviting her to bonfire jams and such, until she agreed to join what is now known as Daphne & the Mystery Machines. Their much anticipated debut was at the Tennessee State Fair and they are all looking forward to recording their first album and performing on tour soon.

Daphne and the Mystery Machines plan to start releasing singles in support of their upcoming EP by early 2015.”

It would be interesting for the band to come to the U.K. – maybe support Florence and the Machine on stage. It would be good to get Daphne’s (Mystery) Machines together with Florence’s- although it may just be my odd fantasy/wish-list. The group are built from a base of emotion and heartache; passion and pain; desire and love- concoctions that go into their incredible music. With some tour dates coming up- the guys are travelling Tennessee ready to amaze the crowds- the rest of this year looks prosperous; they have an album out in September- something you will want to get your hands on.

Aching and teasing strings beckon Learn to Fall in. Beginning rather tranquil and haunting, it sound progresses into something precise and strong: twirling and dizzying acoustic strings lift the mind and intrigue the senses- make you wonder what is coming next. Underpinned by some electronic tones, the song starts to expand and mutate: pick its feet off the floor and stride onwards- there is a tangible sense of itinerary and travel. The initial words- when our heroine steps up the microphone- are rather innocent and compassionate (“When I hear you sing/the songs that I wrote/I get a little lump/Down in my throat”). The vocal has a quixotic blend of southern U.S. and modern-day U.K. It may be an odd partnership, yet there are traditional Country music sounds; a striking Tennessee accent- all the hallmarks of a solid Americana/Folk pairing. On top of that, you have a very modern and striking voice: little bits Amy Winehouse and Adele; something soulful and British- the combination is effective and seductive. When the verse develops, something more philosophical and ruminative comes to the fore: our heroine looks at choices and mistakes; regret and our own decisions- not only creating some mystery, but speaking to the listener more directly. Whether speaking to a sweetheart (or friend of hers) there seems to be some perplexity. Maybe a situation has arisen- or life has taken an unwanted turn- but there is that need to go back; change events of the past- to avoid the strains of the present. Our heroine (and her subject) is out on her own; going into the world alone- perhaps there is a feeling that time has been wasted; youthful ignorance has led to mistakes- and a price is being paid. After the first verse- that is very much placed in the centre of attention- the vocal retreats; the band comes to the forefront to whip up a swaying beat; a striking support- adding emotion in spades. The guitars rise and pervade; the percussion crashes and strikes; plaintive strings add shiver and somberness- as our heroine comes back to the fold. When the chorus arrives, images are built up: I imagine something quite every day and relatable; that sense of regret and walls-closing-in-against-the-odds fear we can all understand. Whether lies and indecision have come to take their toll; a relationship is on the rocks- because of mistakes by both parties- it is not too sure- the song has room for interpretation; there is some ambiguity among the lyrics. The song’s most arresting moments arrive when Culver unites with her cohorts- the female vocals weave in and out of one another. Laying down some hard truths- you don’t have to be by the phone “to get that call”- the vocals soar and tangle; creating a stunning harmony and heavenly blend. To my mind, there was a sound (oddly enough) of ‘90s Rhythm and Blues- the classic girl groups of the age- that inspired legions of modern-day acts. There is that same sense of shiver and nuance- you keep repeating the verse; unable to take it all in (upon first listen). After the captivating vocals are complete, the band unleashes an instrumental coda- one that sees shivering guitars come to play. Reminding me of (a combination of) 1995 Radiohead and modern Folk, it is a stirring parabond; one that raises the song even higher. Never predictable or one-dimensional, the band gets stronger and more assured; the track gets better by the second- something few other tracks promise. After witnessing the stirring guitar quiver- that builds up so many images and emotions- the vocal comes back. Our heroine is still in firm voice; not wanting to deviate- more thought-provoking messages are presented. Whether speaking to a wider community (a universal message that everyone should take in) or a shamed lover, there is some anger and judgement; they better watch what they say and do- “’Cause it’s all coming back to you.” Among the sense of disappointment, there is some honesty and openness- a sense of compassion too. In spite of all the mistakes and short-comings, all that has been given (“has always been enough”). By the time the chorus comes back around, the vocals become more electric and spiked; it seems more effective and striking- meaning the song finishes (on an incredibly high) point.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Daphne & the Mystery Machines. On paper (and in photos) they seem like a band you want to meet- striking and happy; fascinating and interesting. When it comes to the music, they are indebted to nobody. Whilst Learn to Fall has some familiar themes- that sense of backs-against-the-wall fight; learning from mistakes of the past- the way it’s presented is indeed unique. The group does not go for bare-minimum with their words: the way the images and scenes they conjure will stick in the mind; they are an act that has a very individual perspective. The instrumentation and composition is emotive and stunning. Mixing aching strings and tender percussion, the band throw in quivering electric guitar- the effect is quite spellbinding. Standing above it all are those incredible voices: the stunning lead and the insatiable combinations. When leading the verses, Culver’s native accent mingles with some British tones (although my ear may be off); her strong and wonderful voice gets inside your head- and does not let itself go. When the trio (of voices) comes together in the chorus, you get an immense sense of swoon and romance- that aching beauty and uplifting grace. No member of Daphne & the Mystery Machines falters of slacks: each member is focused and tight; each element essential and paramount- most bands have one or two faults. Keeping Learn to Fall tight and focused, it does not overrun and wander- a song that does what it needs to; without wasting any words. Traditional Americana and modern-day Pop (with some soulful elements) combine to create a song that cannot be ignored- something that will unite all music lovers. With some incredible production values- the track sounds both intimate and expansive all at once- and you have a tremendous achievement. It is hard to judge the future on one song, yet the signs are all positive: I cannot wait to see what Daphne & the Mystery Machines’ album contains. Whether you are unfamiliar with the Tennessee band (or not) then do yourself a favour and get involved- they have a stunning future ahead of them.

Social media can be a very handy thing indeed: when you put a plea out- looking for a great act to review- those in the know always come through. I mentioned it in my last post; it seems we need some sort of music-based social media site- there are a few out there, yet none really cuts the mustard. It is hard to patrol and filter fantastic music: compile a bespoke list/channel that the user will desire. That said, the basic steps would not be a challenge: with the burgeoning of social media, it would be easy enough to make a better site- something more effective and full than what is already out there. It may be one of those ‘to-do’ things for me, because I do worry a bit: so many great acts are being overlooked and going past- only coming to your attention if you are lucky/have a music contact. In a social media age, it is ironic that the ‘social’ aspect seems to be lacking: when it comes to music/promotion, there needs to be something better (out there for the musician). I mention it because Daphne & the Mystery Machine- alongside many others out there- deserve a wider audience; great exposure- they would love/be adored by crowds over here; across Europe- and find opportunity and fan-base. With their eye-catching ranks- you cannot ignore the staggering beard of Josh Preston!- and stunning music, the future is looking very good. Having graced their social media pages- and seen the feedback fans are providing- they put on one hell of a live show. On the basis of Learn to Fall, I am looking forward to the forthcoming L.P.: see exactly what the band has to offer; how they will vary and adapt their sound across a full album. I love the music this country produces- I still think we are just edging it with new music- the U.S. has greater opportunities and support. I find musicians are talent is looking across the ocean: eyeing up the big cities; the warmth of Nashville; the lights of New York- finding better fortune over there (than they have here). The U.S. do somethings a lot better than us- their comedy is a lot better (ours sucks big-time); their dramas are superior (bigger budgets and better talent); their economy is stronger and more prosperous- and it seems the country has a better music climate. In spite of its superior size/population there seems to be greater diversity and community- hardly surprising so many great acts are coming through. Tennessee is synonymous with its terrific music scene- not just Country music and Americana- and the wonderful acts coming through. With its warm and friendly locals; the unique and charming music venues; the opportunities out there, it seems a very tempting proposition. What you find with acts- like Daphne & the Mystery Machines- is a natural warmth and sense of ease. There seems little anxiety and fear- like they have to hit a certain target; always have to look over their shoulder- they have a loyal fan-base and tremendous sound- a rather secure future it seems. There is a lot of preconception and judgement when you say the words ‘Americana’ and ‘Folk’- and tie it to the word ‘Tennessee.’ Many would imagine something quite antiquated and divisive. Many still have that preconceived notion of Americana-style music- and what Tennessee musicians produce. Sure, there are a lot of traditional and old-fashioned acts, yet Tennessee is a large state; its musicians are among the most talented in the U.S. – Daphne & the Mystery Machines are among the finest. Learn to Fall has some regrets and harder tones; it has warmth and heart to it: terrific melodies and building tensions; a combination of emotions- that comes together in an arresting way. Two things come to mind; make me wonder: firstly, if the band would ever come to the U.K., and secondly, what their album will sound like. Even on the basis of one track, you just know the band would be well-received here: those melodies and vocals remind me of Adele (and Amy Winehouse); the lyrics/music would inspire a lot of fellow acts- the crowds would love to see/hear Daphne & the Mystery Machines. Through London (and further north) there are venues they would suit; a definite fan-base awaits- of course it costs a lot of money to come over here (yet something for the band to consider). More urgently, their album will be hotly-anticipated and received: if it contains gems like Learn to Fall then it will be a staggering album, indeed. I’ll wrap this review with a singular message (to those reading this): expand your horizons and start to get out of the comfort zones. For me, I would not normally have known about Daphne’- the type of act/sound that is coming out of Tennessee- but I am so glad I did. Take away any preconceived notions; leave your restrictions at the door and there is a musical world out there: one filled with new heroes and wonderful sounds; entrancing moments and brilliance- start your search in the U.S. This country produces some wonderful music, but to my mind, the U.S. has a greater diversity and range- so much out there to discover. It may be hard to seek all the terrific (U.S.) music out; get to grips with everything out there. If you are looking for a phenomenal starting-point then start here…

WITH Daphne & the Mystery Machines.



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Track Review: Little Sparrow- Wishing Tree



Little Sparrow



Wishing Tree




Wishing Tree is available at:


The music video for Wishing Tree is released on Monday



6th May, 2014

Acoustic, Folk-Pop


Manchester, U.K.


IN a week where I am re-reviewing existing artists…

I am returning to one of my very favourite- a young woman who has one of the most captivating voices in music.  On Monday the video is released (for her twin single) Wishing Tree/Garden.  Having reviewed Little Sparrow’s album (Wishing Tree) last year, I was excited to assess (once more) its title track- review it with fresh ears.  It brings me around to an interesting point: the effect new musicians can have on the public- those who resonate and linger.  Before I introduce Little Sparrow, it is worth looking around the music landscape: there is a quite deal of tremendous and wondrous artists.  To my mind, the band market always seems to fair much better: they have more bodies and resources; it is easier to connect with the public.  Bands have always enjoyed hegemony: from the early-‘60s to current day, public money favours groups.  Being a solo artist is a lot harder and more challenging: the one person has to do all the work; they have certain limitations (bands do not) and have a harder time of things.  For that reason (when a solo artist succeeds and lasts) it is that extra bit special.  With the flood of artists coming into the market, it is harder to find someone truly special: that act that really strikes a chord; sounds that do something truly wonderful.  With the proliferation (and expanse) of social media, that task is no less easy- and often the mind and body can become overwhelmed.  When it comes to solo acts- that resonate and stay in the imagination- it really comes down to two things: the originality and potency of their songwriting; the effect their voice/composition has.  If we look at Little Sparrow- the alter ego of Cambridgeshire-born Katie Ware- and she proves my point.  When I first came across her music- when her album Wishing Tree was released (last year) – I was overcome by her voice: something that seeped into the senses; left me somewhat dumbfounded.  Few people can deny its magic; reviewers and critics were stunned and amazed- her music is still causing tremors and stun.  Before I go, let me give you a short introduction:

As captivating to watch as she is to listen to, Little Sparrow’s beautifully emotive use of expression mirrors the sincerity of her delivery, making her someone not to be missed.  Her delicately crafted folk songs are created with a combination of flawless vocals, strings, guitars, percussion and tender harmonies.  Singer-songwriter Katie Ware adopted the name Little Sparrow as she felt it characteristic of the sound she had developed and the direction in which she wished to travel.  Drawing upon influences as diverse as Kate Bush, All About Eve and PJ Harvey she creates songs that are filled with a blend of styles, woven into the colourful tapestry of her music, often with a mysterious fairy tale quality.

Listeners are taken on a journey that touches upon every emotion, from heart-breaking sadness to uplifting joy.
2014 was the most exciting year for her yet as it involved more live appearances than ever and most significantly she was thrilled to have fulfilled a huge ambition by releasing her beautiful debut album ‘Wishing Tree’.  The album has gained many great reviews and much radio
play from those including Janice Long (BBC Radio 2), Michelle Hussey (BBC Introducing Manchester),
Dave Monks (BBC Introducing Merseyside); Guy Garvey, Tom Robinson & Chris Hawkins (BBC 6 Music); Simon Raymond, Ruth Barnes, Shell Zenner & Kathryn Tickell (Amazing Radio) along with many other radio stations regional and international.

Little Sparrow has worked tirelessly throughout 2015: her music has been championed far and wide- taking her on the road and playing to new crowds.  With the music video arriving on Monday- for her Wishing Tree– it is only a matter of time before Little Sparrow is a household name.  It is hard to overlook that incredible voice: something that is heavenly and human; emotional and strong- few other singers have that range and sense of captivation.  Writing songs that speak to the heart- and paint wonderful tales and vivid scenes- Ware is among the best songwriters in the U.K. – someone who is inspiring others to take up music.  When reviewing Wishing Tree, every note and line lodged in the mind: the compositions were (and are) both nuanced and impassioned; the songs filled with detail and prowess- ruled by that insatiable and crystal-clear voice.  Take the time to investigate Little Sparrow in the full- through SoundCloud and YouTube- and check out the new music video (arriving Monday).  In a music scene with so many unimpressive and sound-alike artists, we need to herald and support her music- that which can truly inspire and impress.

The opening notes of Wishing Tree have Country tones: straining and breezy U.S. embers; a romantic and swaying sound that gently beckons the track in.  Mixing with Folk strings and the listener is intrigued and fascinated.  When our heroine comes to the mic., her initial words are curious and compelling.  “Take a step back from the things you see/You might get confused quite easily” make you wonder with whom she is speaking- whether a new love or a former friend.  When delivering these lines, Ware ensures the words are carefully and considerably deployed: unveiled with clarity and concision, there is an intentional sense of italicising and precision.  As the lines are being delivered in the foreground, there is a light and tripping backing vocal (a repetition of the main line); it is layered and presented so the two threads overlap and intertwine- creating a sensuous mixture of romantic and dominant.  Our heroine looks to be addressing a love/man: someone who is on her mind and thoughts; an anonymous beau arresting her thoughts.  Wanting (him to be her) wishing tree, Little Sparrow’s voice floats and pervades; flies across the sky- that sense of desire and lust is evident.  When assessing the initial stages of the song, I am reminded of two artists: Fleetwood Mac and Tori Amos.  Whilst there is an essence of Kate Bush’s mystique and etherealness, there is a suggestion of Fleetwood Mac- especially their Rumours/Tusk period.  Pastoral and dreamy; the song could easily fit within those albums.  Ware’s voice has suggestions of both Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos: that comingle of huskiness and child-like beauty; womanly strength and vulnerability.  As the song continues my initial thoughts are questioned: with regards the exact inspiration of Wishing Tree.  As our heroine counts to 10; taking off for the stars, I was starting to rethink my impressions- perhaps there is another subject in mind.  With her wishing tree, our heroine floats across the heavens; passing rainbows- the colours seep into her skin- and on its way.  Throughout, there is a real sense of dream-fulfillment and longing.  Ware’s voice multiples and variates- the backing vocals are hugely effective; the foreground varies its pace and timing- creating something both dizzying and unpredictable.  Caught up in the whirl of her own imagination, Little Sparrow is caught in a daze- taking the listener with her.  Wanting the stars to (tie her to the ground) you really get seduced by the lyrics and imagery- start to picture yourself with her; follow her in her quest.  It is not just the voice that entrances; the composition is changeable and nimble: switching between Country-tinged romanticism to dream-like Folk, there is plenty of depth, colour and variation.  The final moments are a myriad of cooing vocal and plaintive strings: the song starts to move to the heavens and complete its work.  Ware’s voice remains firm and urgent throughout; never succumbing to tire and ineffectualness- remaining beautiful to the very last note.

Having reviewed Wishing Tree last year, it is great to hear it again- and come at it with a fresh mind.  Nuanced and spine-tingling, it is a perfect Little Sparrow track: one that demonstrates what a tremendous writer and singer she is.  Plaudits must be paid to the production, first of all- that makes the song such a clear and concise wonder.  Each note and syllable has clarity and strength; nothing is buried or muted at all- the entire song has a very professional and polished sound.  That is not to say it is too polished; the production also provides quite a live-sounding feel to proceedings- earthy and open; expansive and fresh.  Ware highlights what an original and strong songwriter she is.  Making sure her words contain depth, ambiguity and directness, the listener is open to interpret the song- you can apply different meanings to certain words/lines.  At its heart, Wishing Tree is about dreaming and desire; escape and wonderment- that is achieved with aplomb.  When it comes to vocals, Ware makes sure she seduces at every moment: from the first line to the last notes, there is no escaping that sense of beguilement and entrance.  Aching and sensuous on the one hand; noble and strong the next; few can deny the potency and passion on display- what a wonderful instrument (her voice is).  Wishing Tree staggered me last year; it continues to blow me away now- a song that begs for repeated investigation.

The future will certainly be a golden one (for Little Sparrow).  After speaking with Little Sparrow’s friend (Shay Rowan; who looks after Katie/Little Sparrow) I know how hard things can be: the touring demands and input needed (for her music to thrive) is both challenging and exhausting.  Katie Ware is not a woman who tires easily and has been working passionately- ensuring new eyes and ears fall in love with her music.  Wishing Tree is an album that is (still gaining) plaudit and commendation- new stations and reviewers are starting to realise how special it is.  Fresh from music video recording duties, Ware has been performing some intimate gigs- the young artist never seems to stop working.  I am not sure what is in store for the rest of this year (and next year- although there are plans for a new E.P. next year) yet new music is sure to arrive.  Following Wishing Tree will be a challenge, yet there is plenty of inspiration and potential- it will be fantastic to see what arrives next.  Few solo artists have that same blend of mesmeric vocals and captivating songs; exceptional personality and rare beauty- someone very much made for the stage.  Ware is a singer/songwriter that is at home here (on the stage); dedicated to bring her music to the masses- an artist that is hungry and passionate.  Wishing Tree is one of those songs that demands repeated plays- it gets inside of your head and will not shake.  Struck by the tenderness and beauty of the song, your thoughts go into the wilderness: try and jump inside the lyrics and conspire; dream and float away.  The video for Wishing Tree is as captivating as the song itself: shot in the woodland, it sees our heroin (and other figures) dressed in an animal mask- well, a material animal head- given it a quirky and surreal aspect.  Whilst Wishing Tree’s dreamy and earnest lyrics unfold, you are presented with these strange and beautiful visions- giving the song an extra layer of beauty and appeal.  The video’s innovative use of stop-motion technology gives things a trippy and delirious feel: imagine Radiohead’s video for There There and you get a sense of what to expect.  The animal (mask) motif gives the video an eye-catching and dream-like feel- emphasising the song’s sense of delirium and imagination.  If you are new to Katie Ware and her exceptional music, make sure you do not miss out- an artist that deserves huge respect and support.  Before I conclude- and let you go on your way- I was keen to catch up with Little Sparrow; see what influences her- and what the future holds.

Your album Wishing Tree was applauded- by me included- for its stunning vocals and spine-tingling tracks. Which artists- either growing up or now-have influenced your work?

All About Eve, Tori Amos, P.J. Harvey, Kate Bush and probably the most influential was my dad’s own music!

Now I love listening to the people that I normally find while I’m gigging like Tracey Browne and Raevennan Husbandes, Liam Frost, TGElias, Jessca Hoop.  Other artists are First Aid Kit, Agnes Obel, Elbow.  You are starting to tour quite a bit; see different parts of the world.

Do you enjoy touring/gigs? What have been the best aspects about hitting the road?

The best bits are meeting all the different people :)  My goal this year was to ‘play out of Manchester’, to play to new audiences.  (I am a home bird and thought I should try and fly the nest a little and see what happens!)  I am slowly achieving this throughout the year.  I love performing, so any opportunity that arises that seems a little exciting then I’m there!  I have a few lined up later in the year that are in different parts of the country.

A lot of songwriters have different ‘muses’ (when writing music). What subjects/themes go into making a Little Sparrow song?

Anything really!  Whatever is in my head at the time… A little song I am working on at the moment is about a spider, just because I saw one walking along the floor at the time!  But I also write from the heart, so the emotion will always spill out in some way.

What does the rest of the year hold for you?  Can we expect a new album/E.P. (this year or next)?

I am actually planning to hide away for a couple of months in the autumn so I can work on a new E.P., to release maybe later in the year or in early 2016.

Finally- and for being a good sport and lovely person- you can pick any song; which I will post here.

Do you mean a song that I would tell you to check out?  There’s so many… But I will pick Agnes Obel – ‘Riverside

KEEP your eyes out for this truly wonderful artist.



Follow Little Sparrow:
















Track Review: Gorilla Punch Radio- No Retreat



Gorilla Punch Radio


No Retreat




No Retreat is available from iTunes on 7th August, 2015

Indie-Rock; Alternative; Rock


Leeds, England

IT is time to say hello to one of the most…

uniquely-titled bands in the world.  The pronunciation of their name conjures everything from tropical radio stations to violent primates- their music, weirdly, mixes the two.  I have dealt with the Leeds-based band before: the tail-end of last year I got to say ‘hi’ and check out what they are about.  At the moment, the group is preparing to launch No Retreat: their huge single that is gaining radio-play and huge plaudits.  Before I delve more into the band, I want to raise an important point: getting acts together/social media compartmentalisation.  In the course of my ‘duties’ I get to hear some varied acts; hear a lot of great new music- you often wonder whether they could do better.  I don’t mean in the sense of quality; more quantity: can their social media numbers be boosted honestly?  I have managed to connect a few acts- through #FF-ing on Twitter; sharing stuff on Facebook- yet there is still some division- lots of similar bands are missing out (on one another).  It is good to be back in Leeds- at one point most of my reviews were set in Yorkshire- and a growing band with a great sound.  I am organizing a charity music day/night in November- at a local music venue- and getting bands together: Gorilla Punch Radio would make a perfect addition (to the line-up).  Like Goldbirds- another young act in their first stages- Gorilla’ make hot and heavy sounds- hardly a shock given their name- and birth colossal riffs and epic soar.  Working in a bar (as a D.J., among other duties) I get to do a Monday night slot I review four albums: one of them has to be brand-new; one ‘older’ (1985 and earlier) one of my choice- the final one has to be influential.  From the likes of Los and the Deadlines to Gorilla Punch Radio, Foo Fighters are a big influence.  In fact, this Monday night, as part of my album reviews- Sly and the Family Stone, Radiohead and Sleaford Mods are included- is Foo Fighters (and their seminal album The Colour and the Shape).  That album has compelled a lot of new acts- songs like Everlong and Monkey Wrench cannot be ignored for their impact and effect- and G.P.R. have taken this on board- their sounds under Foo Fighters’ riff-age and update it.  No Retreat is abound with Grohl-esque vocal; seductive slink and ferocious arpeggio jams; brutal to-the-bone pummel- tied around lyrics of alienation and against-the-odds f***-you mentality.  Returning to my original point, Gorilla Punch Radio has stablemates and hombres: bands that play a similar sound; have that same spark and booze-flecked abandon.  Hopefully I can get Gorilla Punch Radio to the south- come November time- along with Los and the Deadlines, Goldbirds, Bi:Lingual and Allusondrugs- to my mind, some of the most essential Indie/Rock bands coming through.  Yorkshire is producing (and has done for a while) some quintessential acts- a county cannot stop giving birth to some good-looking babies- and continues to do so- few county-mates sound like Gorilla’. Before I wrap-up the point, let’s have a look into the band’s biography:

Paul James
Stefan Gandhi
Mark Heppenstall
Elliot Vaughan

Gorilla Punch Radio, an exciting new alternative rock band from Leeds, are proud to announce the release of their debut single ‘No Retreat’.

After touring extensively in support of artists such as The Struts, The Pigeon Detectives and New City Kings with his former band Titans Troubadours, guitarist and singer Paul James decided to pursue his own sound and formed Gorilla Punch Radio in late 2014.

Mixed by the acclaimed engineer/producer Elliot Vaughan, whose previous clients include: Pulled Apart by Horses, Frank Turner and They Fell from the Sky, ‘No Retreat’ kicks off with an explosive guitar riff that’s sure to have fans banging their heads and punching the air.

The song’s theme focuses around the gritty realities of standing up in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds, with lyrics that are designed to inspire courage and a refusal to back down.

“We’re really excited about this song as it has taken a while to craft and perfect. Elliot has successfully captured the energy of Gorilla Punch Radio in this recording, and we can’t wait to share it with everybody!” – Paul James of Gorilla Punch Radio.

The radio-beating gorillas- I will ask them one day the genesis of their band moniker- have not been wasting time- instead honing their sound and making their new single the best it can be.  The band is coming into the market at the perfect time: the likes of Royal Blood and Drenge have redefined Alternative-Rock- that sort of White Stripes-cum-Led Zeppelin-via-Queens of the Stone Age jam.  Gorilla Punch Radio has a range of influences- mainly U.S.-led- and distills this in their unique brand of music.  The boys are looking ahead to 2016: who knows what is to come from the group; just what a potential album will sound like.

If you are new to Gorilla Punch Radio, there are a few acts that are good starting points- to see who has influenced the Leeds four-piece.  In terms of U.S. examples, I would say Nirvana and Foo Fighters count as idols (and to a degree our version of Nirvana, Allusondrugs).  Like their Leeds contemporaries Allusondrugs, Gorilla Punch Radio has their ear on ‘90s Grunge.  In terms of album comparisons- for Nirvana and Foo Fighters- I would select Bleach and The Colour and the Shape.  Nirvana’s debut was filled with rough and loose-sounding jams; Kurt Cobain’s burgeoning songwriting talent; a keen eye for social commentary and romantic rage- a perfect mix of meaty riffs and superb band interplay.  In terms of attack and lunge, The Colour and the Shape may not be in the Foo’s top 3; however, the album remains influential and inspirational.  Its Post-Grunge production values/sound inspired legions of bands and followers.  The powerful rushes and big hooks defined that Post-Grunge era; it comes through in Gorilla Punch Radio’s single- you can hear little bits of Up in Arms and Monkey Wrench.  Like Grohl, Gorilla Punch Radio has a graveled and masculine voice: a powerful set of pipes that shred through the material- no sense of cadence or fatigue throughout.  I would say- in terms of U.K. influence- you’d look at Royal Blood and Muse.  Royal Blood- themselves not long in this world- have created quite a furor; critics are salivating over their innovative sound.  Of course Royal Blood employ no guitars- getting that ‘guitar sound’ from bass only- but their straight-ahead attacks; mandates on love and broken hopes have been extrapolated by Gorilla’: the boys have aspects of Royal Blood’s debut- that same endeavor and ambition; the epic riffs and huge choruses.  Listen to the likes of Figure It Out and Out of the Black and you can hear a bit of No Retreat: the trip, duck and dive; the groove and head-rush; that immense carnivorous bite- all backed with some pretty cutting lyrics.  The production values are quite similar too: both bands come across as both live-sounding and polished.  Words and utterances do not get over-bleached or drowned; the vocals do not get pushed down and suppressed- it is all up-front and elemental.  At the same time, there is a great ragged edge to things: Gorilla Punch Radio wants their music to sound like it is in your face- no studio tinsel and needless overproduction here, thanks!  When comparing Gorilla Punch Radio to Muse, you’d go back to their ‘glory days’- the 1-2-3 of Origins of Symmetry, Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations.  Nowadays (and as was evident with Drones) Matt Bellamy has been getting his crayons out; scribbling pseudo-political lyrics with a surprising amount of juvenilia and homoeroticism- Bellamy is more Chad Kroeger than Bob Dylan when it comes to penning a line.  Among the over-serious attacks and lyrical retardation, the riffs and bat-shit-crazy goofiness remains- the likes of Repears, Defector and The Handler are among their best tracks.  Muse hit their peak (in my opinion) on Black Holes and Revelations.  That album saw their riffs at their sharpest- with Assassin and Map of the Problematique right up there- and the emotion at its most earnest (songs like Soldier’s Poem and Supermassive Black Hole are delightful).  Gorilla Punch Radio take that ‘overblown’ aspect and mute it slightly: they have retained the sharp and face-slicing riffs; the operatic and dramatic vocals; the made-for-the-U.S.A. sound.  What is most evident- and the best comparison- is the craft and production.  On Black Holes’, Muse sound fully-realised and equal- in previous releases it was The Matt Bellamy Show.  With No Retreat, Gorilla Punch Radio sound equal and in-step; each member pulls their weight impressively and there is no sense of imbalance- each instrument gains equal footing to add to the overall quality and force.

When the band released their self-titled debut album- at the end of last year- tracks like Bragging Rights stood out- that song was appropriate in its declarations.  The immediacy and intuition was evident from the off; the song was filled with passion and urgency.  On No Retreat the boys sound even more confident and assured- from the earliest seconds, they have improved their sound; come on since their earliest days.  From the get-go, the riff is snaking and poisonous: it snakes and jives its way through the speakers; a concoction of threads and notes- fizzing and popping with energy and potential.  Flecks of Foo Fighters and Royal Blood unite to create something fascinating and teasing- the listen has their interest and imagination pricked instantaneously.  Clattering and rumbling, the band unites tight and fiercely.  The boys are up the task at hand: the percussion is particularly dominant (in the early exchanges) as the Gorilla boys whip an epic and grand-standing introduction.  When our man gets to the microphone, you can feel the anxiety and hostility.  Pressure is building; the strain is coming- like “acid dripping in an open wound”- and he is pressure-bound and all-consumed.  Whatever has compelled this feeling- whether the stresses of modern life or high expectations- there is an unnerving degree of anger and explosion.  The fires are burning; the tensions are building: our man is overcoming the odds against some rather stringent forces.  In terms of the mixing and production, the vocal is given a good chance to shine and focus- it is not buried low and crowded by the instruments.  That said, the mix also allows plenty of instrumental swagger and prevalence- the band members never let up their energy and motivation.  With some Grohl-esque growl, the sense of balkanisation is evident: either rallying against life’s pressures- or people who are letting him down- our hero is putting up his armour (and suggesting sides are being picked).  Just after the 1:00 mark- and after the initial round of anxiety- the band crank out a spiraling riff; prabond their instruments in a flurry of fist-pump and shout- making sure the listener’s attention does not wane or wander.  In the same way Royal Blood slam and punch- not to belabour a point or compare the band to them too much- the Gorilla boys have that same raw and relentless sound; the mixture of ‘90s Grunge/Indie with something unique- an insight into the struggles the band face.  Defiant in the face of adversity, the lads are faced with fist-raising enemies- these gorillas are waiting in the mist- and detractors.  Both youthful and mature, the band is waiting for submission: they will not be beaten and put-down; they are here for the long-run.  Whether a declaration to the music industry- the band will not be overcome and overlooked- or something personal, that determined and relentless voice cannot be overlooked.  In fact, at the mid-way point, the guitar work shines brightest: a delirious and whacked-out grumbling riff burrows through the concrete; conspiring with drum and bass, the band reaches their heavy best.  Beefy and British- a fuse of contemporary ‘Blood and ‘80s Judas Priest- the fretwork is both exhausting and exhilarating; it keeps the mind guessing and the ears hooked.  When our man is back at the microphone, his burden is no less extinct- that insatiable chorus comes round to root.  Melodic and sing-along, forceful and bolshie, you cannot help but chant in support- the bitterness and side-choosing; rebellion and masculinity.  The lines have been drawn- as we find out by this stage- and the vocal becomes malevolent and cooing (down to a whisper at this stage) as the lines “have been drawn” and another has come; there is that tangible sense of warfare- sides coming together in an explosive riot.  The Muse comparisons may not be too far off (at this stage) as there is some tremendous vocal work- something operatic and high-pitched is unleashed in the background- and the riffs have that Absolution sound (Plug In Baby and The Small Print especially) – the lads expertly walk the line of genuine honesty and intergalactic epic-ness (a combination not even Muse can the hang of these days- one suspects Matt Bellamy needs to find a good woman and read some Aldous Huxley).  By the end, the boys join vocals; the heat is well and truly on- the song becomes a sprinting bull; a wild and horny monster (the extent of the emotions involved is combustible).  The final notes are a guitar hold: a final note is struck and it is held; floating in the musical cosmos.  This a good move as not only do you get a very vivid picture- imagine the boys downing instruments and walking off with triumph to applause- but it allows some calm and consistency (although a nice, sharp ending may have been better: think Out of The Black and Loose Change is we want to go Royal Blood again).

Each member of the band has expounded a lot of effort and time: No Retreat is testament to a lot of craft and discussion; some dry-runs and rehearsal- a song that sounds as loose as it does honed and studied.  The exceptional production values and tremendous mixing means every note is decipherable and crystalline- yet instilled with some dents and cracks (to give it a great live sound).  The lyrics remain simple yet personal; nuanced and open for interpretation: the band are fighting forces of suppression; trying to battle the odds- yet you are never 100% sure if they are battling particular people (or just the state of the world).  This means, not only can listeners fill in the gaps, but the song appeals to a wider audience- if it were too insular and personal its appeal would be finite and mortal.  As it is, their single has all the mainstream appeal or your Royal Bloods, yet is ready-made for the underground pits- the sweat-flailing floors of the country’s best music venues.  Arms aloft and fist-pumping in its criteria, the Leeds collective have crafted something both classic and current- yet they do not sound too like anyone else; only themselves.  The guitar work is exceptional and ferocious for large parts.  When it needs to be controlled and calm, it always bubbles with intent: threatening to punch you in the jaw at any provocation.  The bass work guides and glides in the calmer moments; frantic and driving when the song explodes.  Similarly the drums provide a constant heartbeat and sense of primeval beat: always making the song sound Jurassic and masculine in every moment.  Together, the instruments create a Rock symphony; a concrete-aiming kick to the senses- and it succeeds in achieving its aims.  With vocal work that has suggestions of Dave Grohl and the Grunge greats, we have a forceful and powerful voice: something that makes No Retreat such a terrific song.

It is hard to point at any negatives or suggestions.  At points, I would suggest making the vocal even fiercer and wracked: adding in a primal call and scream; adding extra intensity in the chorus perhaps- matching the passion and fervency of the instrumentation.  With regards the mixing- although it is exceptional indeed- perhaps putting the percussion higher up the mix.  No Retreat is a song that demands a huge beat and clear kick- putting the drum further up; clarifying and defining its quality and the song would have a punchier and harder sound (that its lyrics cry out for).  They are minor suggestions, and in reality, I cannot fault the song for any reason.  The Leeds collective has not only unleashed a superb stand-along single, but a taste of the future: if they produce an album with songs like his, they will be festival booked in a second.  Primed and born for both underground venues and large stages, the boys should prime themselves for the future- they are sure to be big names before you know it.

Having dealt with the band before (and their music) I knew what to expect to a degree- No Retreat blows away any cobwebs of expectation.  No mere Foo Fighters wannabe, the lads inject their own cocktail of force and relevance: a song that speaks to the listener whilst kicking them square in the nuts.  Cranking the volume all the way to 12 (even Spinal Tap couldn’t kick it that far) the Leeds brotherhood has unleashed a snarling cross-breed: the teeth and snarl of a British bulldog; the heart of and hunt instinct of an American Fox Hound.  Together, you have an unbeatable combination: edges of American greats with some home-grown honesty.  The band has taken every care to ensure No Retreat is a supreme thing; it is polished and ragged; rough-and-ready around the edges.  Let’s hope new music embraces the potential of Gorilla Punch Radio: the band is no mere one-trick ponies; they have a lot more to say.  When I reviewed Goldbirds- and their brilliant new music- I was confident they will go onto great things- I have no hesitations here.  Radio stations are embracing Gorilla Punch Radio; their fan-base is starting to climb- their social media ranks will be expanding and diversifying.  One day we will discover a social media platform for music- takes away the needless aspects of Facebook and Twitter- and dedicate something to music/musicians.  That way, not only will venues be aware of ideal/perfect bands (for their venue) but other musicians will be able to connect- fans will be able to find their type of music without serendipity.  ReverbNation and their ilk do okay but there is nothing comprehensive and fully-fledged.  At the moment, we have to rely on luck and good fortune: the mainstream media cannot uncover every great act out there; it is a hell of a challenge.  I hope the lads get some more sounds out there; get a full SoundCloud and YouTube account set up- at the moment, it is quite hard to locate their music.  In time- and when they have more songs out there- they will be readily available.  Their Facebook and Twitter accounts are well-maintained and full; they want to make sure they are updated and full- plenty of people will want to keep abreast of all their news.  What more can one say then?  Well, it seems new music is producing plenty of variety; some terrific acts are coming through- I wish Gorilla Punch Radio all the best.  The Indie/Rock/Alternative mould is starting to fill up; the competition and range is quite immense- everyone fighting for those future festival dates.  If the band keep crafting gems like No Retreat, then they will be assured: the likes of Los’ and The Goldbirds have shown what can be achieved if you get your sound right.  Personal and unique; contemporary and familiar in places, the Leeds clan should be very proud- make sure you do not overlook what they have to offer.  In a year that has provided some great acts; songs that stick in the mind, No Retreat is right up with them.  I have a feeling…

2016 will be a great year for the band.


Follow Gorilla Punch Radio:









A Time for Change: The Single Voice: Uniting All

A Time for Change:




The Single Voice: Uniting All



ANOTHER day; another shooting in the U.S…

There’s almost a song lyric in that (steal it if you wish).  Seriously though, my opening line has almost become a cliché: every week there seems to be a new shooting; another chance to get angry.  It is all very well (President Obama) being disappointed- at how he cannot soften gun laws- but the fact remains: so long as the (irrelevant and seriously outdated) Constitution remains, the U.S. will always be strong-armed- never able to become truly civilised.  The news is dominated by violence and terrorism; horror and fear: we will never eradicate all of this misery.  With social media (and the Internet) growing and expanding, there is an opportunity being missed: a real chance to utilise it for genuine good, rather than self-promotion.

What the Charity Does.

I have mentioned The Single Voice in previous blog posts (probably bored everyone to tears) – I am really pumped about it.  Whereas charities focus on one issue/cause, The Single Voice brings them all together- and has its own agenda.  By uniting all charities, it is not only hoped that a) more money/awareness is raised for them, but b) each charity can help one another.  The Single Voice will have its own website- that would be eye-catching and unique- that is informative and easy to navigate.  There are links and ways for charities to interact; help one another and unite to raise funds.  The main points of The Single Voice are to make genuine changes and get everyone involved in charity.

The Charity’s Main Focus:

Mental health is a big issue: by addressing mental health issues, we can prevent so much tragedy from occurring.  A lot of gun violence and killing takes place, because (the perpetrator) has mental health issues- that are not being addressed.  The usual solution- when responding to terrorism and gun violence- is to shoot first; ask later.  It may seem pie-on-the-sky but actually talking about things; addressing issues before they occur is paramount.  In this country, there are limited resources: there is finite money/people available to tackle mental health issues.  By raising money- through mass online appeals and social media unification- we can generate funds; join mental health charities together- tackle those most vulnerable.

Another aim is to raise awareness of lesser-known charities: get their name into the forefront; compel people to do more for causes- and get involved in the community.  There are a lot of causes and concerns that get overlooked- go under the radar- that deserve wider acclaim.  From animal rights to equality for women, The Single Voice can help- by putting these charities up front.

The First Promotional Imitative- 2016


How it Raises Money.

The campaign is designed to bring together YouTube, Google, Apple and Microsoft: some of the most influential and important (companies on the planet).  I will go into more depth (below) but the way (the user) raises funds is through YouTube ‘views’: every time someone views a video (you have uploaded)- 15p is donated to your chosen charity (an additional 5p is donated for every ‘like’).  YouTube is the ‘hosting site’: it is their website that is the basis of the campaign.  Google will be the ones who are donating the money.  Each user/member- who chooses to take part- will register on the main site (see below) and through advertising and increased search results, Google will gain revenue- which in turn will be donated into The Single Voice.  Companies like Google and Apple generate enormous profits each year; they do great work but have a lot of profit coming in.  Finding a (legal and non-invasive way) for them to generate more funds- by advertising and getting more ‘business’- would allow them to channel this money into the campaign.  There is the potential (for an individual) to raise millions (possible tens of millions over the campaign) for a great cause- either something at a local level; or a national issue.

The Main Site.

The initiative will have a homepage: which will be where each person goes to register.  The campaign will be shared and spread to social media, but at the first point of contact, each person would start here.  Like Facebook and Twitter, registration is painless and quick: and a great way to connect with other users and like-minded people.  The homepage will be well-designed and eye-catching.  The top half will have various links: A-Z of Charities; Contact Details; Discussion Board; Events/Fundraisers; Latest Members; Links; Generated Profit (so far).  The bottom half will be fun and interactive.  It will depict a variety of locations: a comedy club; recording studio; film set; bar etc.  The sign will be the only constant- saying The Single Voice.  Whether attached to a studio (or comedy club) the figures (that interact will be from that world).  Musicians- past and present- will interact; comedy and film icons (too)- it will be constantly changing and moving.  Each figure will be animated- giving the homepage a great two-tone look/feel.  I shall expand more/give ‘the fully skinny’ in my next blog. (middle of June).


Each person will be asked to register simple details: name, D.O.B., location; campaigns; total raised (and several others).  It will work a little like Facebook, where there is a profile page: it will be a simple process and contain plenty of information- although nothing too personal or revealing.  From the registration page, there are links to social media- where you can easily promote your page/share your success.  When all the personal details/key details are entered, then comes the ‘fun part’.  The Single Voice has the option of 25 different YouTube-based ‘initiatives’/ideas.    These will be split into categories: Film and T.V., comedy, music, miscellaneous.

Each new member is allowed to ‘sign-up’/choose five of the twenty options.  For each initiative you will be selecting a different charity (I will go into more depth later).  On the profile page will be your list of ‘initiatives’.  By each of your selections will be the total (money) you have raised; how many times your idea/entry has been shared (and how many times you have shared it).  This charity campaign will run for a year- from its launch date- and your selected charities will get donations each month (at the end of each month; however much you have raised will be donated to them).

The Initiatives.

There are twenty five different ideas- covering film, T.V., music and advertising.  As I have said, each person will be allowed to select five different ideas (from the list of twenty five).  Each person could be involved with the campaign for five years  When you register, it will ask you to select from the list- which idea/choice you want- and there will be a step-by-step guide.  It is very easy and simple to complete.  Before I explain how it is done; here is what you can choose from (among others):

Top-10 Songs.  Like Desert Island Discs and Tracks of My Years, each user gets to choose their 10 favourite/most important songs.  There is an option- on each entry- for a user to commentate/explain why they have chosen (what they have selected) but it is a great chance for the person to share their favourite songs.

New Music. This is an option that is a chance (for new music to be heard).  A person can give the world a chance to discover new music/musicians.  If a new band/act has posted to YouTube, then their music can be shared.  There is a chance to select your ten favourite songs (from new acts).

Music Videos. It is nice and simple: choose your favourite ten music videos.  Whether it is from a new band- or classic act- you get a chance to have a good think- what you consider to be the best of the breed.

Comedy. Whether it is a short clip- lasting a few seconds- or a full-length film/T.V. episode, this is comedy-orientated.  Whatever makes you laugh the most: get it uploaded!  I shall expand on this more- and what I would select- but you can choose a stand-up show; an episode of The Simpsons- or a comedic home-made video/prank.

Drama/film. Again, whether it is an episode of Breaking Bad- if they are allowed on YouTube- or a short film, this is the chance to get it shared.

Originals. This is the chance for a user to create something new- and upload to YouTube.  Not a chance for self-promotion, it is a chance to flex your creative muscles.  It can be anything you want: a mock advert; a new song; a comedy sketch- whatever you fancy.

Commercials/Misc. If you have favourite adverts then you can get them seen hear.  This option gives voice to other videos: those weird and wonderful videos- YouTube seems to proffer by the bucket-load.  Beauty blogs and ‘how-to’ videos; home-made videos can be selected.  The rules are simple: it can be anything (as long as it is not sexual, offensive, and violent- or violates YouTube’s rules).

There are- as I have mentioned- 25 different choices; appealing enough to everyone- that gives the user a chance- not only to think about their favourite music/films etc.- but discover new and exciting work.

Beyond Social Media.

Of course, the point of the campaign is not to share music/film- just for the sake of it.  The idea is to raise money and awareness of causes and charities.  On the home page, you get a chance to share your ideas and videos- and raise money (each time they get a ‘view).  When you select a charity- for each entry- there is an information button: this gives you huge information and links.  If you select Diabetes U.K., then you get to find out about the charity.  There are links to their website; how to get involved in the community; how to spot the signs (of diabetes); ways to further becoming involved with the charity- runs, fundraisers, volunteering etc.  This will be the case for every charity.  It means that, not only does the user get to learn more about their chosen charities (and causes); other people do too.  On the site’s main page, there is an A-Z of Charities: a full list of all charities; information, links and videos for each. In addition engaging people more with charities and causes; there is a hope it will lead to more community involvement.  There is a chance to ‘represent’/choose (to support) women’s rights, stamp out gun violence, support local communities and boroughs- causes not usually represented by the big fundraisers.  In addition to giving information about each, there are ways for you to get involved: get out onto the street and make a difference.  Raising money will be a huge and important part of the idea, but it is hoped that the government will take note- issues and campaigns will be highlighted; a chance to change law- change people’s lives and initiate social change. Not only does one get to learn more about charities and causes- the main objective of the campaign- there is a secondary bonus’.  Each time you compile a list; there is a chance to benefit others.  Say you have selected Top 10 Songs.  After you have selected each track, there will be a link on each video/selection.  Song and album information is provided; links to other (similar) acts; ways to record your own music/become a musician.  In terms of new music, there is a chance to help new musicians (links to campaigns; ways to share their music and causes); find great new acts; support local venues and festivals- ways to bring about equality and change for musicians.  The same goes for film and music videos: ways to become a director/actor; local schools and campaigns; links to similar films/videos; local schemes; ways to support other charities and causes etc. All of this video-selecting and information-finding is designed to be quick to share/promote.  With a click of the button you can share you entries/profile to social media; encouraging friends to get involved- taking this thing viral.  It is A fun, quick, and educational scheme; with the potential to raise a lot of money very fast

Before Then…

I hope to organising a charity gig towards November/December- to raise money for Mind.  It would unite my favourite new musicians and would be an all-day event; not only aimed to showcase new music but raise a lot of money.

The Single Voice: Using Creativity to Make Changes:

The charity would use music and the arts to pull in people: encourage creativity and artistic endeavour to raise money and awareness.  Like the first promotional initiative, the charity’s website encourages creativity: becoming involved in music/creating your own sounds; D.J. work and music writing; comedy and screenwriting etc.  Having its own social media site, The Single Voice encourages collaboration and joint ventures: getting users to unite on creative projects; use music and arts to raise charity funds- and raise awareness of great causes.

Setting Up and Going Forward:

At the moment, there are a lot of ideas on paper; schemes and plans coming together- the first steps need to happen (before we can run).  Hoping to establish the charity this year, I will need trustees- and people to support it.  The website is the important next step: not only establishing what the charity does/aims, but having everything in one place.  There will be a social media channel and links to charities; bespoke music and screenwriting sections; ways to become active in the community.

The main aim is to help eradicate big issues and ills: from gun violence and terrorism to social inequality, there are ways to make a change.  Rather than use violence and hatred, raising money and awareness- helping tackle mental health issues- are much more vital.  By joining with companies like Google and Microsoft- helping to promote them- there will be money available and a necessary platform- which means The Single Voice can thrive.

The Point of Doing All This:

Something needs to be done in the world: there is too much needless violence; stupidity and ignorance; a lot of people not doing their fair share- people need to do a lot more in this world.  The Single Voice, not only aims to raise a lot of money and solve issues- but get people more involved in community and charity- and less concerned with social media and needlessness.  Before the end of the year, I will set up the charity and produce a more thorough blog- it may seem a little sketchy at the moment.  I just get so annoyed by the state of the world: too much rudeness and selfish people; needless gun violence and terrorism- nobody seems capable of being able to solve things like a human.  Things can be done; changes can be made- it just takes the support of the people…





Track Review: Tiny Rhymes- Arrows



Tiny Rhymes






Arrows is available at:


23rd June, 2015

Chamber-Pop; Indie-Folk


Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.

The E.P., A Kinder History, is available from:



Oh, Amaranta!

Gold Mountain


Performed by:

Sharon Mok– vocals, guitar

Katie Weissman– cello, vocals

Kathryn Koch– violin, vocals

Dan Schwach– percussion, glockenspiel

Brad Lauchert– percussion

Zack Steinberg– bass

Peter Isaac– trombone

All songs written by Sharon Mok/ Tiny Rhymes

Recorded at GCR Audio (Buffalo, N.Y.)

Mixed/edited/produced by Brad Lauchert/ BadTone Productions (Buffalo, N.Y.).

Mastered by Adam Grover/ Georgetown Masters (Nashville, TN.).

Art by Nicholas Dowgwillo.

ONE of the worst things about music reviewing…

is that sense of predictability: reviewing the same sort of sounds; similar acts and artists- you get to the stage where music becomes stale and formulaic.  This sensation is something that has been present lately: that feeling that a lot of the music (that is coming my way) does not break too far from the mould: predictable parables that leave little to the imagination; really does not linger too long.  Gladly- and very much distinct from other acts- Tiny Rhymes arrive.  A lot of my reviews emanate from the same sort of areas- the U.K. or Canada- yet Tiny Rhymes hail from Buffalo, N.Y.: my second trip to New York (having reviewed Ariana & the Rose) and my first to Buffalo- located in Western New York, on the eastern shore of Lake Erie.  Buffalonians (the name given to native dwellers) are a diverse mixture- the population is divided between Hispanic, Black and White (with Asian and Native Americans among the mix).  Recovering from economic downturn, Buffalo is a thriving economy (now): technology and financial services are big business; healthcare too- the area is bustling, in spite of economic issues (across other parts of the U.S.).  Tiny Rhymes are not what you’d expect (from a band from Buffalo) and are exempt from cliché and stereotype: the group marry Chamber-Pop and Indie-Folk- a hypnotic pairing of dark tones and orchestral undertones.  Before I continue my point, a bit of background is needed (provided by lead Sharon Mok):

I’ve always played piano, but decided to pick up the guitar for this current batch of songs, and set out to create melodies influenced by my childhood experience with both Chinese opera and classical music.  While writing and recording in Buffalo, I met cellist Katie Weissman and we instantly hit it off. Weissman’s diverse technique and smooth, dark melodies added necessary dimension to the songs.”

I know there is a lot of music out there; a huge pool of multifarious sounds: the media (and social media) tends to bring us only a select few; there is a lot of compartmentalisation- so much quality goes rushing by.  Tiny Rhymes are a band that deserves wider acclaim: a group that dare to be different; break away from the mass of samey bands- their music cannot be ignore or overlooked.  Chamber-Pop is a genre (many are) unfamiliar with; maybe some will balk or shy away- unware of what the sounds entail; how good it can be.  Having listened to Tiny Rhymes- assessed their E.P. and its wonders- I am now a fan: I would urge everyone to take a sip of the Buffalo clan.  Mainstream tastes tend to via towards Pop and Indie: there is wiggle room, yet there is still a rigid leaning towards tried-and-tested sounds.  With the growth of Electro.-Pop and Indie music, tastes are starting to broaden: some long-forgotten sounds are resurfacing; great music is coming back to the fore.  Tiny Rhymes are not quirky and divisive: their sounds are a concoction of everyday emotion and delicacy; orchestral swathes and pin-sharp vocals- something that is a rarity in today’s scene.  I hope that more follow suit; start to learn from Tiny Rhymes: they are getting a lot of tongues wagging (in New York); spiking the public imagination- it cannot be too long before they arrive here.  In the U.K. we have some ‘fairly’ similar acts- the likes of Little Sparrow (a solo artist) spring to mind- yet nothing quite like Tiny Rhymes- their brand of song would be celebrated over here.  I do hope the group comes to London and play: there are clubs and venues that would house them without hesitation- the capital would love to see them.  The group’s E.P. has arrived; a four-track collection that demonstrates a wealth of treasure: stunning beauty and fragility; fantasy and reality- a stunning collection of songs (that linger long in the mind).

When it comes to comparing Tiny Rhymes’ work (with their previous cannon of songs) it is quite difficult- being so fresh from the blocks, the Buffalo group are a sapling sound.  The Cape– a single released last year- was replete with romanticism and yearning; jumping strings and crashing waves- a touching story with some stunning images.  Since then, the group has not varied their sound too much: they sound more confident and intuitive.  Tiny Rhymes started off strongly and impressive: over the course of this year they have cemented their sound; brought in new influence and elements- augmented their beauty and wonder.  It is hard to compare Tiny Rhymes to another; few other acts spring to mind- they are a rare breed indeed.  Chamber/Folk music does have its patrons, yet none do things like the Buffalonians: few acts are quite as original and ornate as the group.  Taking elements from bygone acts; a sprinkling of contemporary Chamber-Pop/Folk acts, Tiny Rhymes bring in their own voice and flair- not wanting to come across sounding like anyone else.  If you are new to their music, I would suggest investigating the (genres of music they play) and getting some background: even acts like The Staves and The Unthanks can be traced (to Tiny Rhymes) – there is that similar sense of beauty and tenderness.  What makes Chamber-Pop so beautiful is the mixture of instruments: yearning strings and low-high blends- orchestral grandeur and romantic delicacy.  If you’re a fan of other genres- and not usually tempted to the kind of music the band plays- I would advise experimentation: they are well worth your time; a valuable addition to anyone’s collection.

Arrows leads A Kinder History; it does so with some tremendous beauty.  The song’s initial notes pair plinking notes and tripping dance; a myriad of trickling cascade- a balletic version of a Disney score.  Merry and romantic; light and breezy, the listener is welcomed with a warm and intriguing heart- you are never sure quite what is coming next.  “If memory of you finds me sleeping…” open the track- the lyrics in the early stages are clever and oblique- where there is a sense of separation and remembrance.  Employing some deft wordplay, the subjects of dreams and memories are introduced: our heroine will (not forget her man) until she is dreaming- she wants to re-write a kinder history.  There seems to be some regret and lingering doubts: our lead wants her man to think of/remember her; not sure if he will.  As I stated, there is some obliqueness and ambiguity: your mind and heart converge down different roads; never 100% sure whether there is resentment or contentment- I guess there is a little of both (in every word).  After Dan Schwach’s dizzying glockenspiel; some terrific strings (from Katie Weissman and Kathryn Kock) it’s Mok’s vocal that steps into the spotlight- narrating her tale with stunning passion.  Mok’s female companions lend their voice, yet Mok stands out front: that blend of child-like innocence and womanly strength radiates and compels.  Superbly delivered- she delineates her words with a real sense for mood and pace- you are hooked in and seduced.  The song looks at the present and past: Arrows mixes the physical with metaphorical; exploring love and innocence- a rhapsody of heartfelt emotions.  Our heroine looks back at childhood- where she had all the time in the world- and the present- where she and her lover have none.  One is never sure whether the relationship is intact or broken; if there is a parting or doubts- the words leave room for interpretation.  To my mind, I envisaged two lovers split and fractured: maybe overcome by modern strains and the distance between them; there is that need to return to the past- where innocence and simplicity were so much more favourable.  You can sense that yearn and sigh; that need to restart things- make life less complicated and fraught.  Never overly-anxious and full-on, each line is delivered with softness and consideration (yet there is plenty of passion and conviction).  It is not just Sharon Mok’s show: her cohorts ably support her; adding symphonic lust and immense beauty.  In addition (to some mesmeric) backing vocals, each instrument adds huge weight- the strings lift the song to heavenly heights.  As the song progresses, the travelogue continue: each party seems to be bound in a different direction; their paths never crossing- perhaps they will meet by chance?  With our heroine moving and dreaming- her subject on her mind- maybe they will see one another; perhaps things have finished for good?  Friends and companions, that dislocation-cum-break-up mandate is a well-worn subject- yet Tiny Rhymes present it in a very personal and distinct way (never succumbing to lyrical cliché).  Before the 3:00 marker, our heroine makes a plea: “Don’t come back for me.”  There is that sense of succeeding; letting events take their turn- and giving up on a dream-like meeting.  With her voice starting to show its emotions, Mok reaches her impassioned peak- recollection and truth have caused their damage.  Wordless vocals enter the fray- as punctuation and sense of relief- and the listener is forced to reflect.  You find yourself emphasising with the heroine: wanting things to be different but knowing they never could.  Adding lightness to proceedings, Schwach’s glockenspiel comes back in- that candid hop and sweet-natured chime prevents the vocals from becoming too maudlin and weighed-down.  Supported by some superb production values- that makes the song sound like it is coming live from a cathedral/large room- you feel as though you are there; yet there is some intimacy to things.  The production makes the song vast and impressive yet mollifies too- at times, it sounds like this is a riparian lovers’ call (as though you are being serenaded by the riverside).  Quite an impressive and laudable step, it brings Arrows fully to life.  In the closing stages, unity comes through: each instrument and voice blends in; the wordlessness augments and swims; the band notch up the offensive- reaching spine-tingling levels.  Scene-closing and evocative, the final notes are beautifully escheated- and you find yourself seeking more; continue that superb and entrancing sound.

Applause should be meted out to each Tiny Rhymes member.  Mok’s lead voice- and her lyrical direction- are at the forefront.  Her soothing and delicious tones are the perfect clothing to an amazing body of work: a song that resonates with all, yet feels deeply personal and special.  Her narrative and wordplay is incredible and stunning; her voice constantly engaging and gorgeous- few other leads could achieve such a feat.  The strings-and-vocals combination of Weissman and Kock is to be commended: not only exceptional players, their tones fit perfectly (alongside Mok); adding beauty and weight- lifting words and lines to unbeatable realms.  Perfectly in-step, the trio work wonderfully off one another- there is a clear love and affection; a natural bond that ekes through in every note.  Glockenspiel and other notes are supremely delivered (by the rest of the band).  The glockenspiel incorporates delicate beauty and crystal-like fragility; one of the defining aspects of Arrows.  When the band unite and weave (in and out of one another) the biggest chills are elicited: the bond they all share makes the song such a thing to behold.  Arrows is the perfect lead-off track; a perfect starting-point for A Kinder History.  The song showcases the band’s core strengths: personal and relatable scenes; stunning vocals and harmonies- authentic and genuine Chamber-Pop majesty; gorgeous string and percussion.  If you need an escape; get your mind off of modern life- investigate this stunning track.  It will melt the woes and raise a smile: when it comes down to it, how many other songs do that?

It is great to discover something genuinely wonderful: an act that comes out of nowhere; something unexpected- music you would never (have otherwise) heard.  Since reviewing Tiny Rhymes, I have looked into Buffalo’s music: the area fascinates me and I was keen to check out Tiny Rhymes’ colleagues and peers- who the movers and shakers were.  Few local acts resonate as hard (as Tiny Rhymes) yet Buffalo boasts some terrific music: from Goo Goo Dolls to Gym Class Heroes, there is a lot of fervent activity.  By and large, the music (coming out of Buffalo) sticks to the Rock-cum-Alternative territories- with some Metal and Folk peppered around the edges- so Tiny Rhymes are still quite unique.  In such a bustling and developing region, you’d expect some contrast.  Let’s hope more acts follow suit: we have too many bands that play it hard and heavy; tend to prefer something more forceful and to-the-point- Tiny Rhymes’ nuanced and uplifting beauty should not be overlooked.  Arrows is the perfect starting place- when investigating the group- and their E.P. (A Kinder History) is packed with stunning moments.  Oh, Amaranta! Is a tear-inducing sway; it begins with aching strings- the introduction then is overthrown with a beautiful and sighing vocal.  With its bare and natural production values, the song has a pastoral sound- a great live-sounding tone that makes each word more authentic and tangible.  Bubbling and rising, the song goes through waves and swells: rising like a phoenix, before demurring into the shadows.  Relentlessly touching, it is a song that gets under the skin: Mok’s lead vocal is entrancing and impassioned throughout.  Gold Mountain is similarly wistful and cooing: in the early stages it boasts similar traits to its predecessors.  Before long the group layer in; the sound becomes larger and more atmospheric: it is one of the most evocative takes of the E.P.  Putting your mind in the wide open; soaring across the sky, the track is stunningly sweeping; magisterial and graceful- a wonderful thing.  Home is the E.P.’s closer- and perhaps an appropriately-titled swansong- which sees Tiny Rhymes sign-off in style.  Tender and soft, trembling and honest, our heroine is focused on the door- looking to “run right out.”  There is a need for escape; get away from things and start again- find some sense of personal relief.  Overall, the E.P. has a consistent and loyal sound: the group do not stray too far from their signature feel; choosing to variate from track-to-track- never breaking away from that core of beauty and ethereal delight.  The four tracks are a testament to study and intelligence: a group that sound contemporary and classic; cultured and everyday- able to unite the mainstream with the underground.  Baroque-Pop is a genre that showcases many legends- from Belle and Sebastian to Florence and the Machine; Fiona Apple to The Decemberists- and is a very popular (and profitable) style of music.  Chamber-Pop manages to take in Baroque elements, whilst employing classical edges: Tiny Rhymes have a keen ear for Folk and Indie; never willing to become rigid and restrained.  I have a lot of genuine respect for Tiny Rhymes: in a music world of homogenization, they are separating themselves with distinction- the signs are all very positive.  With their E.P. gaining some heated praise, the U.S. newbies will take great solace and heart: hopefully it will not be too long before a second E.P. (or L.P.) is introduced.  As mentioned earlier, it would be great to see them (the band) in London: hear that stunning music up close and personal.  Arrows is a perfect song for the season: filled with sunshine and warmth, insight and mystery, make sure you do not let it pass by.  Having bogged-down in a sea of predictable acts, it is nice to regain some sense of focus and difference: it is my hope some similarly-ambitious acts come my way.  If you need a break from the heaviness of Rock and Indie; the staleness of Pop; the rank-and-file acts, then get involved with Tiny Rhymes: a soothing and medicinal balm that counteracts the stresses of modern life.  Brimming with talent and beauty; exceptional songwriting and exemplary performances- they are one of the most tight-knit and close groups I have ever heard.  Long may their success continue; they have overcome the first hurdle: their music is catching on and growing; their name promoted and celebrated- tiny steps, but vastly important ones.  It is wholly conceivable Tiny Rhymes will be playing internationally; creating another E.P. (and many more after); going on to great things.  In a music world packed and expanding…

FEW survive to see the day.



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The 350th: Foreplay is for Cowards- A Celebration of New Music

The 350th:

Espresso Shot

Foreplay is for Cowards-


A Celebration of New Music




AS I ‘celebrate’- well, wonder how the hell I did it- the 350th blog post, I decided to do something different…

and put together a playlist- that which celebrates the best of new music.  Having reviewed a lot of acts- from around the world; all different ages- it was great digging through SoundCloud- seeing which songs would fit in (hopefully my arranging/producing skills are passable).  It is not just celebrating new music; there is a charity component: users/listeners are encouraged to visit a JustGiving page- I have set up- and donate (to The British Red Cross).  In as much (as they do) terrific work- often in extreme and dangerous circumstances- they are desperately under-funded- and need support now.

Across the 21-track collection, there is a great mix of sounds: from the new Pop sound of Jen Armstrong to the upbeat Blues of Jonnythefirth- with lots of diversity in-between- there is something for everyone!  Take a listen to the playlist and enjoy!  I have called it Foreplay is for Cowards because (and not that I believe that statement) it a) sounds like a cool album title (my first two- if I get a band- would be Marriage: A Beautiful Revenge and American Genius) and b) it begged a simple- yet effective- ‘album cover’- something I whipped up for the project.  Not sure if I will make it to 500 blog posts- which is why this event may not be as arbitrary as it seems- and I want to highlight some of my favourite/hardest-working musicians- there are many more (I want to include).  Maybe on the 400th we will do it again; do something special- maybe get everyone together at a gig.

For now; enjoy the music and remember to donate- all the links and information is below.  Once you have done that, check out the acts included- these guys have tonnes of quality songs.  Thanks for reading and supporting the blog: here’s to the next 350 (you may be bored stiff of my by then)!

Peace X

Playlist link: https://soundcloud.com/samliddicott/sets/foreplay-is-for-cowards

JustGiving link: https://www.justgiving.com/Sam-Liddicott8/