TRACK REVIEW: Eric McGrath- Always the Same



Eric McGrath


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Always the Same




Always the Same is available at:




The album, Far From Here is available at:


These Are the Good Old Days

Always the Same

Let You in on a Secret

You Mean the World to Me

Sweetest Tasting Kiss

Ripples into Waves


Let’s Get Curious

Far from Here



30th October, 2015


M:89 Records


IT is sometimes hard to talk about new subjects….

When presented with a review subject.  Today there are no such obstacles:  Eric McGrath is an act I would not normally have stumbled upon- I was brought to his attention via McGrath’s management company.  Before I introduce you to the singer-songwriter I wanted to talk about Dublin musicians- looking at heritage and nationalities- exploring Jazz and Folk blends- completing with a bit about slow-burning/non-instantaneous sounds.  When reviewing musicians, I am always curious to see from whence their roots were planted.  It is rare to find artists that stray too far away from predictable locales.  From the Londoners across to Yorkshire- two of my most commonly assessed areas- I feel hometowns/location affects a sound and style.  Maybe it is the wider music community (in that area) that enforces a particular sound.  Dublin is a city I have not been to (in musical terms) for a long while now- I cannot remember the last review to come from there.  Having spent a lot of time in obvious realms- the U.K. and Australia; Canada and the U.S.- it is nice to put my mind back here.  Historically, the city has produced some of music’s best bands:  From U2 and My Bloody Valentine; there have been a wealth of interesting acts to emanate from the city.  Away from some of the dodgier examples- The Script and Boyzone hardly do the city any favours- it is the new musicians of Dublin that are more fascinating.  Sleep Thieves are a mixed-gender three-piece that has been playing for a few years now.  On the rise, the band is making their marks on the musical landscape.  Away from them, Indie duo Darling mix heavier influences with ‘80s acts like Ultravox.  SPINES are a four-piece Punk band of girls that are making all the right noise.  Kingdom of Crows and Leaders of Men are attracting attention from across the water (the latter has been played on U.K. radio) and there are some hidden treasures to be found in Dublin.  The Republic of Ireland, in general terms, is an attractive musical landscape that is more than its history suggests.  I feel music media in the U.K. negates cities like Dublin- for the life of me I am not sure why.  Whilst Eric McGrath has settled in London- having had an itinerant background- it seems a shame so many Irish musicians are relocating- perhaps they do not get exposure they deserve at home.  When interviewing acts- and asking why they move to the U.K./change locations- it all comes down to that lack of attention and proper backing.  I think people assume- looking at Dublin acts like The Script- the music of the city will be rather mainstream and pedestrian.  It is true- as is the case with other cities and areas- there are some rather lukewarm artists.  Dublin is a bustling and musical city that is seeing a lot of homegrown glory created.  It is just a shame there is not a stronger communication to the U.K. – and the press here do not spend much time here.  Before I raise a new point, let me introduce you to my featured act:

Folk-Jazz singer, songwriter, and musician Eric McGrath was born to a Spanish mother and an Irish father in Dublin. Having spent his childhood growing up in Spain and Ireland, and the past few years living in Melbourne, Australia, Eric’s international upbringing is reflected in the style of music he writes and performs today. With a strong love of Latin grooves, 1920’s North American song craftsmanship, and 1960’s Surf harmonies, it wasn’t long before Eric began to blend his diverse inspirations through his own unique compositions.

After completing an honours degree in Chemistry at University College Dublin, Eric finally succumbed to his true calling by obtaining a Masters in Music from Trinity College Dublin.

Recently signed to the prestigious Metropolis London Music Ltd., Eric has partnered with some of the world’s leading musicians and producers to craft his latest record ‘Far From Here’. Eric’s instantly catchy harmonies, unusual chord progressions, and breezy instrumental arrangements can again be heard throughout his latest record, which is already turning heads through regular international radio play.

A wider audience awaits…

McGrath has had a busy and interesting life so far.  That mixed heritage- the Spanish roots with Irish blood- is not a mixture I have encountered in a musician.  McGrath has traveled wide and seen some fascinating countries and people.  It is this never-sit-still attitude and zeal that has translated into music that is rich and original.  Whilst the core of McGrath’s music can be seen as ‘Jazz-Folk’; that is not to say it is a one-dimensional sound.  Those Latin grooves and ‘60s harmonies sit alongside modern Folk influences and bygone days Jazz motifs.  I was a little skeptical reviewing McGrath for a bit:  On paper, I was expected someone who was closer to Jack Johnson (an artist I do not like at all) than I would like.  The truth is- it is an influence of McGrath to be fair- that is doing him a huge disservice.  Our hero has his own style and range:  A breed and chemical mix that has seen his latest album (Far From Here) catch the attention of international media.  It is that adventurousness/cross-genre pollination that has led to such acclaim and recognition.   People may balk if they saw the words ‘Folk’ and ‘Jazz’ appear next to a musician.  Considered still- in this day and age- as minor genres; it would be naïve to overlook acts that go way from the mainstream and dig deeper.  If you are not a fan of Folk and Jazz- and variations upon the themes- that is not to say you should ignore a musician like Eric McGrath.  Not every musician that plays these genres will sound the same and be exactly similar:  You need to take a chance on music and allow something new to come into the consciousness.  I am not a fan of Country music yet am always willing to investigate artists that play in this genre.  Once in a while, you can become surprised and pleased of the endeavor.  Luckily, Jazz and Folk are genres I am not stranger to:  It was without fear I approached the shores of Eric McGrath.  His music can be described as quite gentle and slow-burning.  You do not have devilish riffs and slamming sounds emerging from the speaker.  What you do get- something much more impressive- is music that reveals beauty and wonder after multiple listens.  Upon the first study, you have sounds that elicit charm and easy-listening appeal.  The older days charm and candour of the music- you imagine an artist that would be at home in the 1920s- puts you back to a simpler and easier time.  There is modernity and grit to the music; plenty of uplift and passion can be found- a blend that music listeners crave and demand.  The young artist has found patronage among B.B.C. Radio 2 and has struck a chord with the wider world.  Not a hometown secret, the Dublin-born artist has a gilded and busy future ahead of him.  His album, Far From Here, is as inoffensive and hard-to-not-love as you could get from any musician.  If you are hesitant and thinking it will be too effete to really get inside the skin:  Take time with a musician that digs deep and has much more than meets the eye.  If we should learn anything from music- 2015 was a rather spotty affair with regards great acts- we should take chances and give artists time to flourish and seduce.  Whether Far From Here manages to unite fans that prefer their music heavier and harder- tending to stick rigidly to Alternative sounds- I am not sure.  The music on offer (throughout the album) has plenty of appeal and heart to it.  I know McGrath will be playing around the land and meeting new fans as the year continues.  Having caught the eyes and ears of some influential stations- the media are starting to champion his latest work- you have a young man that could go a very long way.

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If you want a full impression of Eric McGrath’s talents; it might be worth checking out some of his ‘older’ numbers.  A few years ago, McGrath started to put music on SoundCloud give the public an insight into his musical mindset.  While some of the tracks released a few years ago feature on the new album- including Carousel and These Are the Good Old Days– there are some tracks that do not feature on Far From Here.

Let’s Get Curious is gentle and boasts a vocal that is calming and has its mind across the waters.  Letting that voice stand out front- it is sharp and has a bracing quality to it- you have a song that has playfulness and romance at the heart.  The hero and his girl are alone together- time to get curious- and the song is a beckoning call in a sense.  The guitars strum and fire; there are brief blasts of horns and lyrics that go deeper than most.  Our hero does not want to play possum and there is wisdom and maturity in a song that implores taking chances and making the most of life.  Whilst some of the guitar sounds do recall Jack Johnson; there are elements of Norah Jones’ entrancing vocals and musical blends.  That said, McGrath has a unique style and Let’s Get Curious is a song I would love to see more exposed and played across radio.  It is one of those songs that could inspire upcoming musicians and has an enormous amount of nuance- I kept coming back to play it!

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   A Lost Romance is perhaps the most Jack Johnson-esque track- the guitar/ukulele sound especially- whilst the vocal is perhaps less direct than Let’s Get Curious.  There are relaxed vibes and something borderline Reggae across a song that has a breeziness and casualness about it.  The track looks at growing old and missing chances- the lost romance is the most heartbreaking and haunting- and it is another song that has relatable and universal colours.  Another song that could make it onto the album- there was room only for the select few- it showcases a broad talent that has many sides to his art.  Regrets are common and lamentable- we all have to deal with this- and you immerse yourself in a song that will resonate with many.

With a rare piano appearance; Before You Left has touching and unexpected opening notes.  The introduction builds and creates something semi-symphonic and Classical.  The vocal is quite affected and haunted- words that can be tied to many of his songs- and that swirl of electronics and piano have spectral echoes and something troubled.  The brooding beauty and sunlight poke through- mixing Spanish and Irish sounds together- and you get a song that has so many working away.  Vocal snippets- not sure what it is from exactly- creates dialogue and storyline whilst the composition continues to impress to the final notes.

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Since these days- and the first recordings put out there- McGrath has grown in ambition and confidence.  To be honest, the consistency and talent was all evident years ago.  I am surprised just how authoritative and formed McGrath is in these sapling cuts.  What we have in Far From Here is a continuation on a theme- some of those earliest numbers are now album tracks- and an increase in subject matter and variation.  The songwriting is perhaps deeper and more impressive than some earlier numbers; again McGrath was always pretty assured and unique back then.  Whilst no sonic leaps were needed; it is good hearing some non-album tracks and other sides to a mercurial musical talent.  The rate of progress and passion signals a musical future with many more records and possibilities.  It will be good seeing where the young artist heads and what direction he takes.  Given the strength of his current output:  There is going to be no huge need to change things and really alter what is already out there.

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Always the Same mixes some tender percussion with some lightly strummed guitar.  Right from the off you get that sun-kissed vibe and something quite tranquil and romantic.  This blend of charming beats and smiling strings elicits early positivity and smile that is hard to ignore.  You get those reminders of Jack Johnson- only the merest of touches, mind- and what you get is an introduction that is scenic and deeply involving.  You cannot just listen to it and not have your mind taken somewhere.  Provoking some gentle feet tap and finger-clicking action; the early words see the hero in strong voice and with clear intentions.  It seems that tip-toeing around the issues- whether it refers to troubles in romance- has never been beneficial or solved the problem.  The vocal is breezy and cool- McGrath has that natural warmth and effortlessness to his tones- and you get swept up inside the gracefulness and passion of those vocal.  The lyrics are presented with plenty of heart but there is always a causal disassociation and detach.  Whatever has inspired the song- if it regarding a blossoming romance or strife- our hero wants everything to be kept cool.  This casualness and lack of commitment leads me to believe our lead has been through the mill and experienced too many splits and needless arguments.  Perhaps he has learnt lessons from love- the way things go if you plunge in too deep- and wants something more pure and different.  This girl he has is perhaps not exciting him quite the same as he’d imagined.  The conversations are empty and rather wasted.  Tired of shooting the breeze- that small talk and awkwardness is evident- is starting to take its toll.  Sure; the girl feels blue and alone now and then:  This is not ignored or overlooked by our hero.  What he wants- aside from the openness and bond- is conversation and an actual connection.  It seems there is this pattern that has been repeated time and time again.  Unable to extricate himself from the monotony of a rather predictable love- and a day-to-day existence that is stilted- you start to yearn for our boy to find something good.  Perhaps the girl herself is a nice and perfectly pleasant person.  You get the feeling it is a rather listless love and maybe the two are not as matched as they once imagined.  Away from love possibilities- it may just be a friendship that is feeling strains- you start to wonder how things will resolve and develop.

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McGrath is always light and lacking anxiety when he delivers his voice.  There is no spite and accusation when speaking of dissatisfaction and lacking inspiration.  You get involved in the energy and tenderness of the song- the composition boasts some skipping strings and light beats- and start to speculate as to the truth of the matter.  Things are always the same and this isn’t a casual fling being documented.  McGrath has been with his sweetheart for a while- you sense history and a lot of tribulation- and there have been mistakes and problems in the past.  Accounting that this bond is “forever”- showing commitment and a desire- there needs to be some fix and patching-up.  Unwilling to talk away and find someone new; you have a song that pledges its allegiance to a love that could go the distance.  Those minor issues and humdrum days- the sort of bland conversation he wants to get away from- seem like they can be fixed and repaired.  That loyalty and commitment is there- the hero stands by every word he has said- yet there needs to be some separation and breathing.  Maybe the duo has been too involved and under one another’s feet.  Every day seems to bring pain and a predictable clash:  The hero wants to get away from that crap and foster a healthier and less fraught love.  The suggestion is this:  Having some distance (for a while) whilst both can unclutter their minds and come back healthier and happier.  Whatever they have right now is not really working out for the best.  The love burns and goes deep and you just know they will go the distance.  I guess every relationship has its stumbling blocks and quandaries:  How you deal with them and move on is the test as to its purity and promise.  Ensuring the song remains uplifted and positive:  The vocal and composition has a smile and effusiveness that hooks the listener and makes proceedings light and casual- probably befitting of the song’s nature and desires.  As the song reaches its latter moments; you get more into the story and the fates of our duo.  The hero always saw this relationship being unfaltering and rock solid.  It is perhaps a bad time for the two- one that is going to have to be addressed- and that regret and sadness does start to creep in.  To ensure balance and romance; you get pitter-patter percussion and impishness from the strings.  Your mind has one foot at the beach and sunnier climbs.  That near-the-waters vibe and tranquility is an asset that few musicians employ in their music.  Whereas contemporaries like Jack Johnson have little besides that sound- his lyrics do not really leave marks in your mind- McGrath is a songwriter with a lot more depth and quality to him.  The rich and silk-smooth voice looks at the results of this new type of love:  The heroine will come running back and want things to be the same as before.  As has been explained- a mantra for the song in fact- is pain will always come through.  Whatever happens during that day; the two will quarrel and end up at each other’s throats.

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Eric McGrath has produced a song that stands up to a lot of listening and scrutiny.  Always the Same is a song that showcases the songwriting chops and skill that run across the album, Far From Here.  It is great to discover an artist that has such a sense of identity and purpose so early on.  McGrath has that boy-next-door charm and a songwriting talent that does not sit still and sound predictable.  Covering various themes and ideas; you have a musician with a busy mind who wants to appeal to a wide range of listeners.  Always the Same seems very real and personal:  A song that recounts a time in his life (maybe it is still there) and that need for something different and care-free.  McGrath is not an artist that plays too safe and honed.  Unlike Jack Johnson- who likes his style and does not often push beyond it- our Dublin lad has more diversity and spit to his music.  Among the warmth and tenderness, there is enough to suggest something more rebellious and impure lingers.  Never a bad thing- it could lead to some rather exciting sonic developments later down the line- the main strengths lie with McGrath’s voice and songwriting.  That voice is rich, warm and soothing:  Qualities that ensure his tracks bring positivity out of the darkest situations.  Compositions melt surfing scenes with ‘20s Jazz ideals; something rooted in traditional Folk and of-the-moment Pop.  I cannot wait to see how this young and vibrant talent develops in the future.  Always the Same is an impressive statement from an album with plenty of firepower and quality.

Far From Here is an album that has plenty of great moments and standout numbers.  Always the Same is perhaps the highlight- it is for me at least- but there are a lot of instant and memorable tracks to be found.  These Are the Good Old Days has already been featured across the airwaves- being picked up by B.B.C. Radio 2- and has enjoyed minor celebrity early on.  Away from these tracks, there is plenty to suggest that the restless musician will be one of our big names in years to come.  It would be great to see Far From Here collect more reviews- there is a criminal lack of them I can find- as the album is testament to a hard-working and passionate musician.  McGrath makes music that calms the soul and eases the strains of everyday life.  Described as ‘soulful’ and ‘uplifting’ in various reviews:  How could you ignore an album (and artist) that has such an attract set of qualities?  I am not sure; what I do know is there will be a lot more music from McGrath.  Into 2016, the hero will be taking the album on the road and seeing how it is received in the live setting.  The music is slow-burning- but reveals huge promise as you listen more- but is guaranteed to put you in a more positive mood.  Those compositions blend the wisdom and drive of Folk; Latin grooves and harmonies that take your mind somewhere special- topped with Jazz iconography and elements.  Before completing this review- and imploring you check Eric McGrath out- it is worth coming back to my earlier points- relating to Dublin, gentler music and the blends of music available.  Artists need to be adventurous and thoughtful when it comes to their music.

It is not good enough- unless you want to be forgotten about quickly- to just produce songs that have a similar sound and are predictable.  I know it is very tempting- a lot of bands and artists do this- to replicate artists and produce music that is well-worn.  There are far too many acts that try to fit into moulds and what the critics/mainstream want.  Those that push further and are more ambitious- tying different genres together- are always going to gain more appeal and support.  It is a hard trick to get right, really:  If you do not get that blend correct; it can backfire and put listeners off.  McGrath has a love of ‘20s artists and Jazz ideas; Folk core and modern-day Pop.  He brings all this together in music that will unify ages and all music lovers.  There are no borders and constraints (on McGrath’s music) and it is only right his fan-base increases.  At the moment, the social media numbers are growing and McGrath’s reputation is increasing.  Having originated from Dublin- he may still live there; I am only assuming he resides in London- it has given me a chance to revisit a wonderful and captivating city.  Many speak of Dublin in fevered tones- I am desperate to go visit the place- and always say the same things.  The warmth of the people is only matched by the wonderful streets and vibrancy.  You have so much to see and do; Dublin has such a warmth and friendliness that it’s hard to refute its joy and magic.  It is unsurprising musicians hear leave impression in the mind and have that comparable set of attributes.  Whilst Dublin has/is producing some great Rock bands- those with genuine nuance and originality- they have always been better when it comes to more adventurous/unexpected artists.  The artists in the city- that play heavier strokes- are mixing in other genres to create a more full-bodied and exciting palette.  The Folk-cum-Pop artists- a regular staple on the mainstream scene- are impressive and studied.  The development of McGrath- from his earliest cuts and experiments- is wonderful; the young artist has grown and matured into a musician with clear site and direction.  I cannot wait to see how McGrath’s career develops and expands.  Having uprooted from the home-only appeal- translating into the international realm- it is only a matter of time before more radio stations and countries are conquered.  That slow-burning bliss- that sits on McGrath’s debut album- fuses with emotive performances and uplifting vibes.   It would be good to see some London tour dates from McGrath- I am not sure what his diary is looking like so far- and the crowds here would embrace the gentility and captivation of the music.  Far From Here is an appropriate title for an album:  Our hero has traveled wide and has that heritage few others possess.  With Irish and Spanish blood- the nations and people he has seen- you have a set of D.N.A. that goes into music that is just as mixed and fascinating.  If you want music that puts you in a positive frame and smile…

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FEW acts do it as effortlessly as Eric McGrath.




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TRACK REVIEW: Night Wolf- The Tailsman



Night Wolf




The Tailsman





The Tailsman is available at:

February 8th, 2016



Bedford, U.K.


VERY few artists come across that differ from the pack…

and present something genuinely new and fascinating.  Of course, there are some terrific artists (past and bygone) that demand fond investigation and admiration.  What I am talking about are those acts that go the extra mile and unveil music that sounds completely fresh and exciting.  Before I come to Night Wolf- and the man behind the moniker- I wanted to look at Chill-out sounds and instrumentals; putting listeners into a song- and the key producers/collaborators emerging right now.  Away from the heaviness of Rock and Alternative; through to the seductiveness and sedate Folk motifs:  There are a great range of genres for every listener out there.  Whatever your tastes and preferences you are pretty much sorted.  I have had the privilege of reviewing so many different acts- covering most genres in modern music-and am always amazed when I happen upon something genuinely new and unexpected.  Whether it is Jazz or Pop:  If an artists does something new with the genre; it makes the listener experience that extra bit rich and rewarding.  Chill-out/instrumental music is not often heralded and focused in the mainstream:  It tends to be something that plays in the underground and not often uncovered.  I am not sure why genres like Chill-out are not played and represented more across radio and music in general.  From the ‘90s club classics to the ambient soundscapes that take your mind somewhere else- there is a wealth of magic to be found here.  It does not have to be an instrumental track either:  Adding a vocal to Chill-out/Electronic compositions can result in a wonderfully rich and evocative song.  I feel there is still too much emphasis on the voice- and creating mood and texture- that compositions seem to be second-best and overlooked.  Some of the best bands and artists are synonymous with their compositional innovation and talent.  Too many listeners go for immediate impact and something familiar:  They are overlooking sounds that have so much more nuance and longevity to them.  Songs that leave the lyrics/vocals out- and compel you to imagine your own scenes and possibilities- have so much potential.  If you have lyrics and vocals left in, you know what the song is about really- or have fewer outcomes to choose from.  By setting-aside those dynamics; you can elicit far more and leave songs completely open to that individual.  What I love about Chill-out- sounds that are dreamy and dig into the soul- are what they do to the mind and body.  It is great being jolted and struck into life:  Music that relaxes me and gets my mind working; that will always mean a lot more to me.  Ryan Wilcox is the man behind Night Wolf and has always amazed me with his production and composition talents.  From harder and more slicing cuts- that have dark undertones and bite- to something dreamier and more luscious:  The man can pretty much do anything he sets his mind to.  Before I continue on my point, let me introduce Night Wolf to you:

I am a composer/producer/artist working with MusicJar (UK) + SumSerious Music LLC (USA) + Sky Rocket Records (Europe) + GungHo Music Group Ltd (China).
Started out in rock bands as a drummer, had classical piano training at the age of 7, gave up after grade 3 to concentrate on my own music. Alongside solo projects I work with my partner Centrist (Mike Ziegler) From Dekalb Il. We formed into Harmony’s Descent around 1 year ago.
Please stay a while and sit back and browse over some of my work, please leave feedback as its always welcome, I am always on the look out for new artists, accapellas and producers to collab with

Night Wolf is an artist I have been following for years now and always amazed by how stunning the music is.  What is most impressive is how each song draws the listener in.  It is not music that boasts egos and showboats at all.  You get compositions that are for the listener and bring them into that experience.  Wilcox writes tracks that are for the mind and soul:  You cannot just listen to one of his tracks not take something away from it.  Emotive and dramatic- romantic and symphonic- you get a range of genres and styles thrown into an exhilarating boiling pot.  He is a producer that has attracted a great array of singers and collaborators.  Keen to work with a promising up-and-coming musician:  Names and artists have all been eager to share their talents with Night Wolf.  I am stunned more artists have not come through and wanted to appear on Night Wolf material.  Every time I hear a new composition (from Night Wolf) I think about the vocal possibilities and all the potential you can get from that track.  Those amazing production values- the musical innovation and wonder- and you have limitless songs that demand stunning vocals and a passionate talent.  Wilcox recently launched his Songs of Travel blog.  This is a venture that sees our hero travelling Europe and writing a new song in every country he visits.  Looking at the blog- the people and sites Wilcox visits- you have songs that reflect the country’s geography and multiplicitous joys.  Away from Songs of Travel, Wilcox is writing music for films too.  Uncle Sam Needs Money and Jester Hill are two new songs- both amazing and different- that showcase a rare talent with a big future ahead.  From the E.P. days- and the development and evolution you get from each one- Night Wolf has new inspiration and ideas.  The Tailsman is a track that will please existing fans and sure to bring new people in.  I will be excited to see what is next from a producer that seems to have no limitations.  Constantly inspired and in love with music:  There is no telling just how far Night Wolf can go.  I hope the social media numbers climb and more people discover one of our finest composers and musicians.  I love discovering musicians that are anything but predictable and samey.  Each time I come across a new Night Wolf composition, you get something new and genuinely fascinating.  With so many new endeavours and plans under his belt:  Who know just what this year will have in store?  I can see an album arriving perhaps.  Maybe Night Wolf will unleash something that goes back to his Moonlight E.P. (released in 2013) or a series of travelogues from his adventures.  There is so much going on with him now- writing for film and looking for hook-ups- I would like to see an array of singers lending their talent to the music.

When looking at The Tailsman; one must look back and see how far Night Wolf has come.  The new songs being out right now- there are several on SoundCloud- have a lot in common with previous offerings.  With Night Wolf, you never get a total departure and about-face.  The producer does not want to put off existing fans and constantly have to reinvent himself.  Even from the earliest days, the songs had such depth and variation- hard to compare two songs to each other- and the evolutions and steps lie elsewhere.  What you get now- from the earliest days perhaps- is that huge confidence and nuance.  Night Wolf’s early cuts had plenty of passion to them, but if anything, the latest offerings showcase an artist with renewed direction and intention.  Perhaps travel and time has led to this step-along and improvement.  The Tailsman digs even deeper than songs across previous E.P.s and seem tighter and more focused.  You get the same amount of joy and bliss but the music is more concentrated and disciplined.  That said, the consistency- the songs will keep existing fans happy- is the most important aspect.  Night Wolf never drops a step or produces weak songs- not one since the creation of his act- and right now you have a talent that can get even better and bigger.  The fact Night Wolf is so in-demand- having his music featured across T.V. and film- can be attributed to this consistency and growth.  Artists that leave big gaps between releases tend to lose a bit of edge and quality.  Night Wolf has never really been out commission, and as such, keeps honing and developing his craft.  The Tailsman finds the young artists in new form and finding inspiration once more.  In the past I have known what various tracks are influenced by- whether political stress or social issues- but here things are less direct and more open.  It is a song that has no set meaning- or not one I can see- that means every listener will have their own ideas and mindset.  If anything, Wilcox is becoming more diverse with his compositions and finding fresh angles and influences.  Traveling across Europe- part of his Songs of Travel adventures- that scope is wider and bolder.  This rate of progression and curiosity is a positive sign that can lead to a wonderful E.P. or album.  I know Night Wolf has enough material and new steps to fill an album- let’s see if that happens in 2016.  What existing fans will find is the quality rising once more.

It has been a little while since I have reviewed a new Night Wolf song.  Not knowing what to expect-if I would hear something that recalled the early days- it was fascinating sitting down with The Tailsman.  The first notes see some rising strings/synths that have edginess and a haunt to them.  Mixing intrigue and curiosity to them; bringing in some passion and romanticism to the fold- a song that gets inside the mind right away.  Tense and taut beats come to the fray to create a building atmosphere that takes the song in another direction.  The composition keeps building and you get a real sense of aesthetic and drama early in The Tailsman.  In the early exchanges the focus is on beats and the way they tumble and work.  Almost finger-clicked and tumbling:  There is a stunning mix of pitter-patter and direct slams.  Tumbling, swimming and dancing:  It is hard to overlook the beauty and magic of those notes.  As I have said before- in the introduction about depth and nuance- every listener will have their own ideas as to what the composition is trying to say.  It is an instrumental track that will see thousands of different visions and storylines.  It is quite rare to discover artists that create instrumental tracks that possess so much emotion and possibility.  Most music has vocals and lyrics, so when faced with something that contains neither it gives you a chance to arrive at your own conclusions and decisions.  Those slamming and cutting beats then start to fuse more with the electronics.  Compelled and driven by that constant sound- the swooning and swaying electronics- you have a beat that jumps and moves with a restlessness and sense of purpose.  My mind was imagining a shadowy man lurking in the dark of a huge city.  The neon lights might be buzzing and there is a strange sensation in the air.  Perhaps there is a mission or job to be done- here is a spy or government figure- and a definite target in mind.  With nary another body on the streets; you get drawn into an adventure or mission that is sure to build in intensity and force.  Listening to The Tailsman and it seems like a track ready-made for T.V. and film.  It is a song- even in the earliest moments- that could score a tense drama like Luther.  In that same spirit, I could see it soundtrack a big Hollywood scene or inside a low-budget Indie film.   I get little flecks of past Night Wolf work, although to be honest, we have such a leap and new sound at work.  Whilst existing fans will find a lot to recommend- it does not completely negate that solid core- you have so many new ideas and possibilities.  There is a catchiness and addictiveness to the beats that get your head nodding and the feet tapping.  Joining that exciting percussion are twitchy and spacey electronics that spark and elicit a quirkiness and odd charm.  My early impressions- regarding spy-in-the-cold-danger- start to mutate and alter as the song progresses.  There is romanticism and chill to the track that gets me thinking about love and something more relaxed.  Reminding me of acts like Massive Attack- who could deftly fuse the dramatic with romantic- and here’s a song that keeps blossoming and providing fresh promise.  Captivated by that insatiable beat- that seems to provide new story-line with each moment- the listener will have their own ideas as to what the song represents.  Thinking about it, I get remembrances from dreams and something quite abstract.  The Tailsman has that dreamy quality that takes you somewhere strange yet safe.  The composition remains fairly accessible and light- previous Night Wolf numbers have been more carnivorous and attacking- and that sense of calm is always there.  Part of me sees the song as a travelogue and glimpse inside a foreign land.  There is that sense of movement and energy that got me thinking about passing landscape and new cities.  That nervous energy and passion could be the representation of new discovery and foreign scenes.  As I said, everyone will take something different away from the listening experience.

   The Tailsman is a song that showcases new promise and ambition from one of the U.K.’s finest talents/producers.  A vibrant, rich and atmospheric track here:  We have a song that never allows the heart and mind to become involved and immerse themselves in a strange and beautiful number.  It is also a song that could be given new life were a vocal to be attached.  I know Wilcox is looking for artists to work with and it seems like The Tailsman would suit a female voice and soulful performance.  It is a song that could fit some great lyrics and be backed by a committed and rich vocal turn.  Whether that is the direction Night Wolf will take- or if it remains an instrumental track- what we have is a song with so many possibilities and potential.   The production values and superb which allows all the notes and ideas to come out with clarity and naturalness.  Having a few other new songs out there- I will give an overview below- it has been a creative and fertile period for the young producer.   It has been a while since I have heard Night Wolf so excited and dedicated to the act of music-making.  There is new passion and a lease of life that translates into The Tailsman.  Here, we have a song that could fit into a variety of situations and places.  It has the potential for radio play and will surely be picked up by stations that have championed Night Wolf previously.  In addition, the track could find new followers and it will be exciting to see if it features on upcoming films and T.V. productions.  Congratulations to Night Wolf on another step forward from an artist that becomes fascinating and promising by the year.

There are five new songs out there that Night Wolf is keen to share.  Jester Hill has enraptured violins and echoed vocals that create an odd and trippy opening.  Bonding with hard-hitting beats- it races and gets underway with intensity- you get drawn into the drama and emotion poured out.  A dangerous and busy opening few seconds; the combination of elements- violin and beats together with vocals- then leads to something symphonic and driving.  A sound collage that could easily score T.V. and film scenes a-plenty- no listener is immune to the drama and racing heartbeats that come out.  The song mixes various different genres into the pot.  There are Dance and Electro. elements joined by classic guitar- Flamenco and Salsa tangos inside the notes.  Dancing piano and juttering strings give the song an edginess and anxiety; mixed with the grand passions and lust and the song gains new majesty and life with each passing moment.

  World of Delusion has spoken vocals- with dancing pianos and strings- that gives a different angle to other songs.  The addictive and mesmeric composition brings strings and piano together in a peculiar and powerful dance.  Teasing and hissing beats provide energy and uncertainty around a mind that is besieged by contrasting thoughts and emotions.  Differing percussionary notes- sounds of a tabla or bongo lurk underneath perhaps? – are interrupted by vocal snatches that have me wondering about the origins. While the compositions remains fairly grounded- repeating its ideas and consistent as it goes- it is those vocal passages that perhaps get the mind guessing.  I am not sure who spoke them but you get various different snippets come out- “Your mind is what there is” for one- that ends with a very clear message:  The necessity of remaining in a state of delusion.

Uncle Sam Needs Money is edgier and recalls past work of Night Wold.  Vocal snippets- Uncle Sam needing money- reminds me of the work of The Avalanches.  That experimental and cut-and-paste freewheelin’ sees the track constantly on edge and fascinating.  It is a song that is breathless and is constantly pressing.  The beats tumble and slam with intent whilst those jagged (and wordless) vocal snippets create an odd sound that gets inside the brain.  You cannot escape the sense of suffocation that comes through through the track and the urgency that pervades.  So many ideas and so much life is put into a song that doesn’t even top three minutes.  It is a testament to the talent an ability of Night Wolf that Uncle Sam Needs Money seems like one of those epic tracks.

These new tracks show different sides to Night Wolf that unite the past and embrace the future.  Continuing the ideals of political unrest and anger (Uncle Sam Needs Money) you get dreamy soundscape and entrancing music nestling together.  I can see these tracks sit alongside one another on an E.P. and it will be exciting to see how they fuse with one another.  It is clear there is a lot more potential and music inside Ryan Wilcox.  If you have not heard the new music then make sure you do not overlook it- some of the finest sounds he has ever created, for sure.

Night Wolf is one of those acts that never seems to tire and pause for breath.  In a music world that sees so many short-stay artists do their thing- play a few tracks/E.P.s and then fade away- it is encouraging to see a musician that gets better and bigger.  It is not just the passion and energy that impresses me:  That variation and evolution is stunning to hear.  Having that potential and openness- not bound by particular genres and vocals- you get such rich and variegated sounds.  Every new moment (from Night Wolf) takes you somewhere special and wonderful.  Following the Songs of Travel blog- and the songs that represent each country Wilcox has visited- you imagine all sorts of scenes, streets and people.  Vibing from the beauty and uniqueness of each country:  You get an aural representation of every sight, sound and flavor from that nation.  When listening to his E.P.s; I was amazed by the boundless invention and talent that was brought into every song.  Whether inspired by financial woes and political issues- or problems in love and relationships- our hero always injects so much potential and passion into everything he does.  The Tailsman is another side to a composer/producer that differs from early work- in terms of the sound and inspiration- but retains that distinct and Night Wolf-esaque reach.  You have a composition that encourages the listener to immerse themselves inside the song and imagine what is unfolding.  I am not sure what the exact origin behind the song is- I prefer to leave that to my imagination- but listened to it again and again.  Every new play reveals hidden beauty and possibilities:  A song that evokes a wealth of emotions and ideas.  I have loved reviewing and discovering the past work from the Bedfordshire-based talent.  Wilcox is one of those humans that does not like resting and allowing too much time to past.  Influenced and motivated by everything around him- from different countries to news events- you are guaranteed to hear more Night Wolf work throughout 2016.  With his film scores and work- there are examples being unveiled at the moment- I am sure we will get a new E.P. or album.  What form that will take- maybe a series of numbers based around Songs of Travel or something that harks to past E.P.s- it will be interesting to see what direction Night Wolf takes.  Before ending things here, I wanted to circle to the original points around Chill-out and immersive music; the great producers that are coming through right now.

It might be a bit narrow to call Night Wolf’s music ‘Chill-out’- there are so many genres he mixes into the music- but you certainly gets music that elicits emotion and a response.  It is quite daring presenting music that is compositional and encourages the listener to think deeply.  The modern scene has that fixation with great vocals and band music:  Night Wolf seems like a renegade that is making music that balks trend and seems more credible for doing so.  There are so few genuinely wonderful musicians emerging that separate themselves from the mainstream and go much deeper.  What Night Wolf does- and has been doing for years now- is create soundscapes that have that chilled and ambience to them.  You get emotions and passions coming through:  There are energy and raw emotions that provoke all manner of thoughts and scenarios.  The Tailsman is another insight into a fascinating talent with no limitations.  The reason I have followed Night Wolf so closely is the originality and variation he provides.  Each Night Wolf song takes you into the music and allows your mind to drift and imagine.  I hear so few musicians that involve the listener and really provide that depth and detail.  Night Wolf tracks have that colour and majesty in every moment.  If you are looking for something that distances itself from the disposable nature of music- those artists you know will not stick around long- you need to get involved with Ryan Wilcox’s alter ego.  He is one of the finest producers around and stands above his peers.  There are some near-genius producers working across music- from the club D.J.s to those scoring films and T.V. – but Wilcox seems to have his own niche and sound.  Having appeared on B.B.C. Three Counties several times; various artists lending their voices to the music:  Just what can the rest of this year give to Night Wolf?  Well, it is sure to be another busy and productive one from our hero.  I hope those social media numbers get themselves rising- he deserves a lot more attention and supporters- and will be enthralled to see where this rare and special talent goes next.  The Tailsman is on SoundCloud now and is joined by Jester Hill and Uncle Sam Needs Money.  With each song title, you can probably arrive at your own conclusions.  When you listen to the music- and let those compositions get inside the head- you might change your views or discover new potential.  That is the mark of a truly great musician/producer:  Someone who can keep surprising and prompting you to revisit the songs time and time again.  Ensure you investigate The Tailsman and let its beauty and power get inside the mind.  Once you do…

IT may never get away.



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INTERVIEW: Dexter Krenal of Meat Loving Vegans





Dexter Krenal of Meat Loving Vegans



THERE are a lot of quite false and fake artists playing at the minute…

that all sound alike.  So many musicians are playing very samey and uninspired sounds- that clone others and show such little personality.  In interviews, some artists give very little value and fascination.  Meat Loving Vegans are a London-based band that cannot be accused of being boring and predictable.  Fusing some classic Punk sounds with British and U.S. contemporaries:  You have music that is sure to elicit a very positive response.

The boys are preparing to release a new album- following on from Lost in Fiction– only a few months after their debut.  Promising new direction and familiar strands:  I was keen to catch up and see what was in store.  Frontman Dexter Krenal gives us a glimpse into the band’s unique chemistry; the plans they have for 2016- which artists and bands inspire Meat Loving Vegans…


Hi Dexter.  I hope you are well.  How has your week been?

Cheers Sam mate.  I’ve been busy as fuck – 3 gigs, 2 rehearsals; a day recording demos with the band- working my botty off in my bar job (the worst was a 13-hour shift yesterday!).  Not for much longer though (my last shift is this Saturday).  Boozing and not sleeping much.  I’m paying for overdoing it, though.  I’m buried in sheets in my girlfriend’s attic/room gorging on tea, smoking roll-ups and feeling like death.

For those new to the music of Meat Loving Vegans:  Can you define it?

Bit of a toughie that really, coz it’s a massive blend of loads of stuff.  I add the hard-hitting British, working-class, Punk-Rock/Alternative vibe:  James (keys) is a Jazz fiend; Sam (drums) comes up with some really cool, weird shit (the Eno of the band); Matt (bass) comes from a Classical background which helps us hold it all together.  I think left to me, James and Sam it’d be the musical equivalent of an epileptic fit… On steroids.

Looking back at 2015:  Which memories stand in the mind as particular highlights?

Finishing the debut album (Lost In Fiction) – mostly by myself (although I did have some help)- putting the band together and doing loads of shit gigs.  Now I listen back to the record, I hear what I wanna do differently next time.  Same looking back on the gigs:  I know what needs to happen to take it up a notch.  Was (overall) a real good time honing our craft; doing what we love.

Meat Loving Vegans’ sound has echoes of Blur, The Clash and Punk greats.  Which artists and musicians were important to you growing up?

Too many to mention!  The first proper run-in I had with music was my grandad playing his old Jazz records- he mainly got them from New York when he was in the navy.  The music would really piss my nan off, which I thought was hilarious!  Then in school, I had to sing David Bowie’s Life on Mars in assembly, which I loved too.  But what really got the ball rolling was my mate James.  We’d skive off school, smoke fags; drink some vodka we’d nick off our parents; listen to Guns N’ Roses and try to play along.  Was fucking great!  Then, I found the Sex Pistols a bit later on which made me realise you don’t have to be the prettiest player/singer:  What REALLY matters is the message and the energy.  Was no stopping me from there!

On that note:  Which modern-day artists are inspiring you?  Any you would recommend to people?

Yeah.  I’m actually getting into quite a lot of newer stuff at the minute, which is cool.  For ages, I couldn’t find fucking ANYTHING that I liked!  I played with these two bands- Sleaze and Sex Cells– at the Windmill in Brixton last Friday.  They were both really cool.  Slaves, Misty Miller, Black Honey; Tess Parks, Fat White Family; King Krule, Mac DemarcoThe Brian Jonestown Massacre keep pumping out amazing new albums- although they started in the ‘90s…

I love the past work of Meat Loving Vegans.  Can we expect some new music sometime soon?

Ya sure can mate!  We’re working on our next album now.  We don’t have don’t have release dates yet but it’s looking like we’ll have a couple of singles out in April- and the album should be out in May.

In terms of your new material:  What subjects/themes have defined its creation?

Well, there’s a lot more depth to the second album.  We’ve tried out some really heavy, crazy stuff.  We’ve also gone further the other way and done some really quiet, dark, trippy stuff too.  It’s all about life in London the way I see it, more-or-less.  Roughing it, drink and drug addiction; the wealthy shitting on the poor; sticking with those that matter (to pull through the dirt).

With reality shows like X Factor dying out- having been removed from the schedules- do you think music is starting to embrace ‘real’ musicians more?

Hurrah!  Let Jah be praised!  Let’s hope that’s the case.  I’d LOVE for that to happen, but I doubt it.  When one crap thing like that’s extinguished there’s normally some wanker with another crap idea and a huge wallet in line ready to fill the gap.

We might end up with a super-charged version of X-Factor blended with Take Me Out.  One where a bunch of contestants desperately run around a room singing Pop cover songs at the top of their voices, half-naked- with the aim of getting a shag whilst simultaneously trying to impress record company executives to give them a multi-million-pound contract.  In fact, I’d watch that.  That actually sounds brilliant!

You live in London- formally a member of the Camden community- and are in the heart of things.  Do you think it is easier for musicians in London to get exposure and gigs?  What are the benefits of living in the capital?

Well, it’s AMAZING and BRUTAL at the same time!  I grew up in this little place daay’n saaa’f (sic.) called Gosport (next to Portsmouth).  Proper community vibe there; everyone mucks in with each other to make the music happen- and some of the stuff people are doing there is really good.  But there’s NO exposure:  Hence, I came to London.  Otherwise, I would’ve been the best guitarist in my bedroom and that’s it.  Here, it’s totally different.   You see incredible guys busting their arse and not getting anywhere; other people you see doing well and think “how the fuck did you get where you are?”’  There are just so many people trying to climb the ladder; everyone’s falling over each other.  But what are the benefits of living in the capital?  If you look for it, there’s some mind-blowing stuff going on- and it makes all the crap that comes along with it worthwhile.

There will be some young artists inspired to follow in your footsteps.  What advice would you give them?

Don’t do it!  Save yourselves!  Hahaha.  No, do it!  No, on a serious note:  I love making music.  It’s rarely easy but it’s so worth it.  So my advice would be:  If you love making music too; forward march brothers and sisters.  Troop on, and shine your light onto the darkness!

You have a good band behind you- James, Sam and Matt play with Dexter – and a tight bond comes through in the songs.  How did you guys meet?

We went to this music college called I.C.M.P.  That was my ticket out of Gosport and up to London, so I took it- although, we didn’t start playing together ‘til we’d pretty much finished.  The four of us are a pretty unlikely mix, to be honest:  James and Sam are like a loving, married from Newcastle; I’m a southern nutter from a council estate and Matt can be quite an argumentative (yet passionate) French/Italian fella.  The common ground we all have is to make great music; so it works.

If you guys could put together a ‘dream line-up’- of acts and musicians past and present- into your own festival; who would appear on that list?

I don’t know if anyone would show up if we put that on; it’d be mental!  I’d have a bunch of in-your-face Alternative/Rock/Punk; Lo-Punk/lo-fi bands like Slaves and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.   James would follow that with some Jazz guys like Charlie Parker (if he had resurrecting capabilities).  Sam would shake it up even more with some experimental stuff:  Like having Eno play discordant stuff on a synth with his photography being projected like strobes.  Then Matt would confidently stroll up to headline, armed with a bloody orchestra to finish it!  We’d get killed!

I always love to find what inspires musicians’ songs and creative spurts.  What inspires Meat Loving Vegans when it comes to writing new music?

It can be all sorts, really.  It’s so cliché but it’s true:  You never know what’s going to come into your head or when.  Sometimes, I’ll be listening to a lot of a certain artist and end up having an idea come into my head that’s a similar vibe.  Other times, I’ll be thinking of something and a tune will just arrive.  I’ve woken up at stupid hours of the night with a song and had to jot it down before I can get back to sleep.

It usually starts with me writing the basic track then taking it to the band:  They put their stamp on it and we go from there.  I’ve written a couple of the band’s ideas recently which is new.  I’m always late to practice (sorry guys) which gave them a chance to jam this really cool, trippy idea- it ended up becoming Purple Shores on the new record.  It made me think of being a teenager:  Slightly stoned/merry on the beach back home with my mates.  It ended up becoming what the song was about.  Another was when James went to the toilet for …business… and that made me think of all the shit stuff that happens in London.  Out came the song Only in Bloody London (again, going to be on the new album).

Music means a lot of things to different people.  What does it mean to you (and the band)?

Sanity!  Without it, I’d lose the plot.  I was always looking for a way to express myself when I was younger; I had all sorts of weird hobbies.  One was writing poems onto parchment paper with a quill:  Dipped in Indian ink and sealing it with wax and a stamp (as if I lived in the early 19th century).  A nutter from birth!  So lucky I found music (or that it found me).

Finally- and for being a good egg- you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…

Nice one geeza!  Since we mentioned Gosport earlier, let’s go with The Ballad of Gosport.  There ain’t nowhere like home…




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TRACK REVIEW: Yui Karlberg- Seasons in a Day



Yui Karlberg



Seasons in a Day





Seasons in a Day is available at:

November 20th, 2013

Folk; Pop


Bournemouth, U.K.


IT is not often I get to look at serious issues when it comes to musicians…

When reviewing acts, I spend a lot of time investigating the artists themselves- rarely does anything away from music come to mind.  Today, and with regards my featured artist, it raises new themes and something important.  In addition to looking at transgenderism and how it addressed (in the music world) I wanted to look at inspiration and how the voice can change everything- finishing things by looking at musical transformations and developments.  Over the course of several years- the length of writing this blog- I have always just reviewed a band/act and left it at that.  Even if the music has been great- which it often is- that is where it is left.  I never look at anything deeper or discuss social themes at all.  Yui Karlberg is a transgender artist that has had to fight to get her voice heard.  In a world where it is difficult enough getting the music heard and favoured:  Talking about subjects like transgenderism is even more challenging.  In a so-called ‘modern world’ there are still conversation points that are seen as taboo or awkward.  People are not nearly as open-minded and accepting as they should be (not everyone, but a lot) and it can create a lot of anxiety and upset (for those affected).  When it comes to transgenderism, a lot of people tend to skirt around the subject.  It is always really depressing and angering watching people close their minds and not embracing humans the way they should.  It baffles me why areas such as transgenderism, race and sexual orientation still have to fight stigma and repression in 2016.  We have come a long way in some respects- with regards technology and science- but when it comes to emotions, human development and awareness:  Are we as ‘human’ as we could be?  Far from being unusual or strange, transgenderism should not be an issue at all.  If a person wants to change their gender and become who they are supposed to:  Why should there be any problem with that?  Perhaps the general population are scared by something that is slightly different or foreign to them.  Maybe we all get used to a perspective of ‘normality’- or what we define it to be.  Anything hat rests outside of that definition scares us.  It is a problem of human-kind that we are not as accepting and loving as we should be.  Whether transgenderism is wholly accepted and embraced in society- unfortunately, we may have to push a lot harder- I am not sure.  Where it shouldn’t be a problem- and should actually be seen as a massive positive- is when it comes to music.  My featured artist has shown bravery and a lot of courage in her life.  Looking at transgenderism, it is not something that is being addressed by music media and the press.  While there are quite a few artists in new music who are transgender:  The only mainstream role model we have is Antony Hegarty.  We should valorise musicians who are transgender and not see it as an embarrassing thing to discuss.  It is hard enough having to live and succeed in life as it is:  If you have to fight against people’s narrow-mindedness and prejudices, it makes things a whole league worse.  Hegarty is an artist who has come out in the press and stated he is a transgender artist.  In early interviews and features, Hegarty started how she struggled to identify herself and has wrestled with demons.  Hegarty is a female artist that has a distinctly male voice:  This is something that scares people and they cannot understand it.  Maybe it asking too much for humans to fully change their perceptions and ideals of normality:  I plea that in years to come we will see transgenderism addressed and discussed in very positive tones.  With the likes of Hegarty inspiring legions of musicians coming out, we have something terrifically starting.  By talking about the topic (transgendrism) it is seeing other musicians come through and talk about it.  Yui Karlberg is someone inspired by Hegarty and his fight.  Not only compelled by her (Hegarty) amazing voice and distinct sound:  The way Hegarty has embraced and realised who she is has motivated Karlberg to talk more widely about transgenderism and how important it is.  I shall not labour the point too much- we are here to talk about the music, alas- but I am pleased something other than music comes to my attention.  Before I move onto new topics, let me introduce Yui Karlberg:

Sometime way before March 2012, Yui had heard ‘Skinny Love’. A song written and produced by Justin Vernon aka. Bon Iver. She then purchased his debut album ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ and she was hooked…

She had been playing songs and performing under the stage name of Miss Interpreted for about a year and then in January 2012, she thought she wasn’t getting anywhere and called it quits.

For 2 months, she was mentally somewhere else…in a zone searching for the ‘new sound’ referring to an episode of hit UK comedy ‘The Mighty Boosh’.

She was tired of singing in a voice that everyone else around her seemed to be doing. She was tired of playing guitar like most other people do too. It was time to go back to the drawing board.

Then she remembered a song of hers called ‘Unspoken’ that she wrote back in 2005 in DADGBE tuning (standard tuning is EADGBE).

For those of you who don’t know and it’s not such a big deal , but it is relevant for this biography…is that Yui is a transwoman…which means she was born male but lives, talks and does anything else that most women of her own age do.

So bearing that in mind, she remembered about Bon Iver’s vocals and used that as an inpiration to sing ‘Unspoken’ in a falsetto/high voice.

After a few singing lessons, she tried it out at a local open mic and people wanted to hear more.

She was astonished!

Shortly after, she worked out how to play chords in that tuning and wrote ‘Endless Journey’ ….

Her debut album ‘YUI’ was released mid 2012 via iTunes. It has sold over 200+ copies.

Since then, she has recorded a second album ‘Beauty Within the Beast’ which is by far her most popular yet and this is what transformed her from an ambient folk artist to the electro-pop artist she is today.

As Karlberg is inspired by Antony Hegarty; it brings to mind the relevance of having a stand-out voice.  The voice is not just an audible representation of your music:  It is the dynamic, personality and spirit of the music you are performing.  While lyrics and composition hold a great cache:  The voice, to me at least, is the most vital aspect of music.    A lot of musicians still undervalue the vocal and do not give it enough originality and power.  Karlberg has been compelled by a range of artists but Hegarty is someone very important to her.  By that same token, Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) has also been vital with regards moulding her sound and music.  If you consider those two musicians, you have deeply atmospheric and bold vocals.  Hegarty has that operatic and transcendent low:  Capable of rising to a delicate high, it has enormous grace and peculiar allure.  Hegarty is seen as one of most singular voices in music history:  Karlberg possesses some of Hegarty’s wonder and etherealness.  When I Am a Bird Now as released- the 2nd album from Antony and the Johnsons in 2005- critics noted how metaphysical and otherworldly the record was.  The multi-octave vibrato tackled themes like love and loneliness with new life and light:  Few artists before have made these themes sound so new and heartbreaking.  Karlberg has that ability- to turn everyday themes inside out with a powerful voice- but plenty of beauty and tenderness too.  With Bon Iver’s lead being an idol- and that unescapable voice defining every song- you get themes of isolation and struggle being addressed.  Whilst the aforementioned artists address darker themes and battling the odds; they do so with unique beauty and wonderfully rich and engrossing songs.  Karlberg is perhaps a little less haunted than some of her idols:  The songbooks contain a little more celebration and positivity.  That said, she is keen to make the songs stand out and get inside the head.  The voice can make any song sound essential if you get the blend right.  A lot of artists either come off too powerful and wayward- those Pop idols whose force of nature approach can fatigue quickly- or ridiculously slight and passionless.  Karlberg is one of those musicians that has a perfect blend of sky-scraping and intimate.  Having begun as a Folk artist in the early days- no doubt enforced by the likes of Bon Iver and the sound of For Emma, Forever Ago– Karlberg is playing Electro.-Pop with less introversion and more layers to it.  While those early years showcased songs with intense emotion and a stunning originality:  What we have now is perhaps something more layered, accessible and uplifted.  That is not saying the music has taken its heart away from beauty to embrace something commercial and insincere:  Seasons in a Day is perhaps Karlberg most arresting statement and demonstrates a songwriter with an arresting voice and plenty of years yet to come.

Having spoken about how Karlberg has developed and changed as an artist; it is worth looking back at the early sounds and how the music has come on.  Yui is a song released a couple of years back- when Karlberg was starting to make her first impressions- and showcases a wonderful musicianship and tones.  You get a mix of deep and beautiful vocals- that come together beautifully and purely- and a song that has plenty of punch and drive.  A personal statement and summation of musical influences- Thai sounds and Pop music alongside Folk- you have a performance that is engrossing and stunning.  Personally open and with some familiar tones- you get a bit of Antony Hegarty’s wonderful timbres- it is a solid and confident song.

  The Ghost of Love is one of Karlberg’s most celebrated songs- the debut single from her- and demonstrates new direction and purpose.  The vocal has a huskiness and depth that gives the subject and lyrics the emotion and relevance required.  Needing instruction and guidance- how to love and be “your lover”- there is that calling-out.  Whilst friends are procrastinating and not helping; our heroine sings to Romeo and puts her heart out there.  The track has an addictiveness and catchiness- that Pop energy with a chorus that cannot be ignored- and you have a song that is short but very sweet.  It is no surprise the track has gained popularity and a cult status among fans:  It draws genres together but its central themes of desire and acceptance are relatable and very human.  It is an honest and heartfelt song from a musician that shows a step forward and natural evolution.

  Restless Mind is another track that shows a jump forward and sea change.  Whilst Karlberg has always been an artist with innovation and quality in spades:  Here, we get a song that seems to be one of the most urgent and direct tracks to date.  Released last year, the song’s title is repeated over hard beats and a Dance-cum-Electro.-Pop composition.  While earlier numbers have been more Folk/Pop-driven:  On Restless Mind, we get something that could be destined for the club dancefloors.  It has that pounding and relentless energy that gets people united in dance and voice.  A pumping and daring- bangin’ and hard-hitting- you get drawn into the vibrated and echoed vocals.  Tender piano notes mix inside quivering electronics- a daring mix of ideas and sounds- to create a song that has so many layers and nuances.  A bona fide club classic- something that has the drive and ambition from ‘90s Dance music- it is a song that stunned me upon first listen.  Such an authoritative and confident song- Karlberg sounds completely lost in the beauty and headiness of the music- you have a song that demands multiple listens.  The quirky-cum-accessible composition drives a vocal that documents a restless young woman who is struggling to overthrow anxiety and troubles.  Perhaps my favourite song from Karlberg- one of those that just hits you and does not escape attentions- it proves what a varied and stunning artist she is.

That range and forward-thinking approach will make any future E.P. a tantilising proposition.  It would be great to see songs like Restless Mind kick things off; a bit of The Ghost of Love with Seasons in a Day.  With those three songs you get a varied lyrical bent- love and anxiety sits with uplift and hope- whilst the compositions switch between tender introspection and out-and-out swagger.  I cannot wait to see Karlberg release a solo effort this year- I know she is busy with band music and performances- but there is so much promise and variation.  The music has universality and it would be wonderful to hear the songs played more widely across radio.  Tracks like Seasons in a Day and Restless Mind could alternately play across Radio 1 and 2- the former being suited for that audience; the latter for theirs- but the truth is, the music could easily slot into any radio station.  There are no walls and divisions in the messages and compositions.  Seasons in a Day is one of Karlberg’s proudest achievements and one of the most personal statements from an artist with a clear sense of identity and strength.

Seasons in a Day has gained a few listens across SoundCloud and YouTube- to my mind, it deserves more attention and views- but the social media crowds have been keen to highlight a track with a terrific consistency.  From the early notes you get recollections of a young Nick Drake and his haunting refrains.  The acoustic guitar finger-picking and notes put me in mind of Five Leaves Left and Bryter Later.  With its pastoral/Folk elements, there is a nod to Karlberg’s earliest days and her love of acts such as Bon Iver.  Without a word being evoked, you are transformed somewhere scenic and befitting of the song’s title.  The seasonal and changing sound- the introduction gives impressions of summer’s warmth and the grace of autumn- puts your mind in a better place and makes you smile.  Not only is the guitar playing exceptional and original- few guitarists give new ideas and room when it comes to acoustic introductions- but it is impressive to hear Karlberg completely in control and lost in her music.  There are doubts and questions in the early stages of Seasons in a Day.  The central character- whether Karlberg is using herself as the heroine in the song- has been walking road for years and trying to find who she is.  Filled with doubts and concerns- her mind struggling to find truth and happiness- there is that quest to overthrow negativities and discover happiness and truth.  With friends around her- who are meant to eradicate the doubts and fears- there seems to be a lot of confusion and fear early on.  Perhaps Seasons in a Day refers to the way a single day can go through various stages- the cold and uncertain to the positive and light-baring- and that balance of beauty and heartache is perfectly represented early on.  Karlberg has said- when she began music in 2012 and had doubts about it- the need to break away and show a voice that differed from the masses- she grew tired of singers sounding like everyone else and not being original.

That passion for individuality and personality shows itself in a vocal that has enchanted beauty and wonderfully rich harmonies.  Whilst the elliptical and arpeggio guitars have Folk tones- and can be easily compared with masters like Nick Drake- the vocals draw in the Chamber-Pop of Antony and the Johnsons with the intrinsic transcendence of Bon Iver.  The mix of sweet and low notes fuse together naturally and augment and emphasise the lyrics.  You get swept inside the wave-crashing harmonies and the stillborn beauty they contain.  At every turn, I get the impression the song is autobiographical- or at least has a lot of Yui in it.  The girl- the central figure of uncertainty- is trying to find a voice and a sense of satisfaction. Seemingly a “bit distant”- perhaps struggling to find acceptance with some and fighting hard- there is that heart and determination that comes through.  Ascribing some loneliness and soul fallowness- a heart that is not beating as fast as it should- it is an emotional performance that compels the listener to surrender themselves to its purity.  That mix of low and higher notes creates an odd sort of beauty:  You do not hear many singers with such a range, so as such, it may take a few listens for the vocal to truly resonate and seem natural.  Karlberg is a singer that can inject the soulful beauty- everyone from Antony Hegarty to Jimmy Helms- whilst having that sweet and agile side to the vocal.  If you take away preconceptions and embrace the vocal in all its wonder:  You will find so much joy inside Seasons in a Day and what it offers.  As the song progresses, more insight and storyline is revealed.  The heroine- in spite of the distance and aloofness at times- is okay and doing fine.  The song seems to look at the way some people can change moods and attitudes within a day.  Some days can throw so many obstacles and unexpectedness:  We all have to face uncertainty and difficult times.  At the end, everything will be okay in spite of the troubles and strife.  With that calming and trance-like vocal swimming and calm against the ocean; the consistently impressive guitar work keeps the heart beating and the soul enriched.  The blend of fast and consistent strings- against the slower and more emotive vocal- gives Seasons in a Day a wonderful contrast and identity.  That sense of not knowing whether “she’s coming or going” is reintroduced and highlights the confusion the heroine feels.  Perhaps some friends have not been supportive as they should- some people not truly understanding- but it is those that are loyal and loving that eradicates the confusions and loneliness.  Seasons in a Day has a lot of Karlberg in it- that desire for acceptance and belonging- but has such a universal and open-ended potential.  So many of us feel distance and struggle- whether depression or anxiety or feeling lost- and we all seem to go through a rigour of emotions.  The track assesses and highlights the desire for comfort and safety:  Overthrowing those negative people/thoughts and finding a more assured and safe tableaux.  The breath-defying beauty of the song keeps pervading until the final notes.  Such gentility and softness partners with a deep and conscious song that wants you to think deeply and understand what is being said.  Whether I am off the mark- with regards the origins and true nature of the song- it struck a chord with me and really seemed to speak for me.  With that heroine in the spotlight- whether it is Karlberg herself or a friend- you look at someone that has some bad times and shadows- in the end, she will be okay and find her way.

When Crowded House addressed similar themes- in their track Four Seasons in One Day– they address how contradictions can occur within a day.  The bed could feel cold while the blood can run hot.  Whether personal relationship- or struggles with the self- are in the fore:  You can go from elation to sorrow; change to numb and angered over a single day.  Karlberg’s seasons-of-uncertainty track has more personal relevance to it yet has an openness and need to connect with the listeners.  Looking back at Karlberg’s tracks- her early recordings and head-rush anthems- you have an artist that is always moving and has a restlessness.  Karlberg has released some tremendous albums over the years- including YUI and Beauty Within the Beast– and seems at her most assured and stunning here.  Whilst I love other songs she has done- Restless Mind is a song that deserves huge acclaim- Seasons in a Day seems to tie together Karlberg’s past and present together with her musical passions and ideals.  On a lyrical basis, you get insights into a human that is on a path to discovery and seeks happiness.  Whilst a day can see seasons change- friendships and support capricious and nights cold- there’s a well-being and security to be found.  When we look at the vocal, you have the inter-gender range and beauty of Antony Hegarty.  The hit-you-in-the-gut lower notes elicit different responses to those high-pitched and angelic notes.  When blending together, you get a mixture of debut album-era Antony and the Johnsons with more current and contemporary Pop sounds.  Bon Iver is an idol of Karlberg and you get that intimacy and frozen beauty that can be heard across For Emma, Forever Ago.  Whilst Seasons in a Day is not as isolated and hermetically sealed as Bon Iver- the oblique lyrics and little concern for personal insight and narrative- Yui Karlberg is more direct with the lyrics and a more confessional musician.  With 2016 promising productiveness and new music:  Seasons in a Day is a confident and memorable song from one of music’s most important stars.

It has been a good review for me, because I get to look at things besides music.  While Yui Karlberg is a great artist with a big future, she has made me connect more deeply with transgenderism and how important it is.  Not many people talk about it and it is not one of those areas that is addressed in the media.  Whilst others fight to have transgenderism discussed and accepted- in should already be; such is the way of the modern world- the music media needs to do more.  I shall bring Antony Hegarty back in- she seems the most relevant artist with regards this point- and how transgenderism is being fought and highlighted.  Back in 2012, Hegarty was interviewed by The Independent and explained his shock with regard’s the attitude of the press.  She stated how interviewers talked (euphemistically, in her words) about the anatomy and were very forward and insensitive.  Whilst it is great to hear about the person behind the music:  Hegarty feels the media does not take golden opportunities to address bigger issues and talk about transgenderism in a positive and human way.  That de-humanisation and (often, degrading) way of speaking seems callous and hugely immature.  Like schoolboys snickering in the playground:  It is shocking that such normality is seen as taboo and abnormal.  While it may not be widespread- with regards the amount of transgender people in the country- that does not mean to say it should be overlooked and derided.  Hegarty explained how she had become accepted- not the case with a lot of peers and friends- and how there is confusion between transgenderism and transsexuality.  With terminology and definition being muddled and confused:  Is it any wonder transgender artists feel such anger and alienation.  Hegarty explained how that alienation (for her at least) can lead to positives:  Make you a stronger person and that growth-through-pain experience leads to great things.  Karlberg has brought transgenderism to my mind and given me a platform- however small or under-subscribed- to address this point and ensure other people open their minds.  There are over 10 million transgender persons on the planet- that number is growing as communities and countries become more accepting- and it is vital musicians promote transgenderism and transfeminism to de-stigmatise it.  In a later interview- recorded in 2014 by Flavorwire- Hegarty spoke candidly about how the word ‘he’ was an invisible pronoun.

By calling (Hegarty) ‘she’ it gave validation and identity:  Something that is lacking and shows ignorance in some people.  Yui Karlberg is an upcoming musician that is keen to keep the topic burning and ensure it is discussed.  Not just having the words ‘transgender’ and ‘transfeminism’ on her bio; she promotes it and compels other to discuss it too.  That is a brave and noble move from a musician that wants people to think deeply about something that is important and very personal.  There is still that reluctance to ‘accept’ transgenderism:  Karlberg is going a long way to ensuring attitudes change and we all become more open-minded and human.  When we look at the music; there is so much to recommend and point to.  Whilst Karlberg has been performing a string of intimate gigs- smaller venues and crowds- that is not to say she has niche appeal and a small fan-base.  Those fan numbers are growing and spreading by the week.  That loyal core promotes her music whilst new appreciators are coming in and discovering a rare artist with a definite future.  Seasons in a Day is a perfect representation of what Karlberg is about and how effective she is.  I am not sure what the plans are for 2016:  Whether there will be a new E.P. or a string of singles will be unveiled.  Inspired by Thai music- not surprising given Karlberg’s heritage- and modern artists like Sanitgold and Rhianna:  You have an artist that is very unique and should inspire many others.  That central voice has the depth and glorious power of Antony Hegarty and Justin Vernon but is capable of a special intimacy and universal passion.  Those distinct contrasts and blends feed into music that is affecting a lot of listeners.  Based in Bournemouth, it would be great to see Karlberg perform a few gigs in London- and travel around Britain- and amaze the crowds here.  I feel Karlberg will have a prosperous year and showcase a lot of great songs.  Before completing it is worth readdressing the importance of evolution and vocals in music.  If you have a very special and powerful voice- which Karlberg does- you are much more capable of reaching a wider audience and ensuring your music is remembered.  The mainstream has too few genuine singers who stick in the memory.  There is too much disposability and featherweight vocalists around so it is always pleasing discovering a singer with a lot more depth and ability.  Karlberg is a musician that wants to get people talking and ensure the music is allowed exposure and consideration.  An artist that is difficult to compare with anyone else- one of the most unique I have encountered- that success and evolution is no happy accident.  From the early days as a Folk artist- and compelled by heroes such as Bon Iver- the music has transformed and grow into stunning Electro.-Pop moments.  Those Folk elements still remain:  The songs are broader and more urgent; the vocals more assured and affecting- everything has improved and grown.  That growth may have resulted from confidence and acceptance- lots of fans and supporters embracing Karlberg and the subject of transgenderism- but I feel like she wants to get more people converted and talking.  Take some time to discover a musician that possesses a fantastic sound a consistent songbook.  The pleasures and moments you can take from Yui Karlberg make it all worthwhile.  She is an artist that addresses the wider world- universal subjects come into the music- but is keen to look at personal growth and feelings.  In a world where there are still too many narrow and close-minded people; we all need to do more to ensure attitudes change and acceptance reigns.  Whilst transgenderism may be a subject that will take more time (so it is properly accepted) one thing you cannot ignore…

IS the power of Yui Karlberg’s music.



Follow Yui Karlberg












TRACK REVIEW: Robert Lane- My Love’s in Deep



Robert Lane




My Love’s in Deep





My Love’s in Deep is available at:

February 4th, 2016



Birmingham, U.K.

Robert Lane

The extended E.P., Ends and Starts is released on March 26th.  It can be pre-ordered via:


My Love’s in Deep

Feels Like 5000 Miles

Break My Heart Blues

Willful Independent

Teardrop Tattoo

Alone Now

Mary’s Theme

Launch Date:

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on the afternoon of the 26th of March

E.P. tour dates:

06/02 Albion Brewery Bar, Northampton

13/02 Busk Love Folk Festival, Southport

24/02 Bury Songwriters Circle

25/02 Speakeasy, Sunderland

26/02 Launderette Sessions, Durham (supporting Bob Fox)

27/02 Suddabys, Malton

21/03 Stafford Gatehouse (Supporting Kelly Oliver)

26/03 Album launch Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

01/04 Foley Arms, Malvern

03/04 South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell

08/04 Kontra Roots, Finnedon

09/04 Old Cock Inn, Droitwich

14/04 Southside Blues, Birmingham

27/04-03/05 Tour of Germany


WHEN considering today’s featured artist it provokes me to…

Look at a different type of solo artist; the importance of character and charm in music- in addition to the discipline of being an actor and musician.  I will start off with the little point which is an interesting one to raise.  A lot of the upcoming musicians tend to focus predominantly on music itself.  Rarely do you come across a musician that exists as an actor- or has another discipline to their name.  It may seem like an irrelevant point to make, but it interests me to see how acting translates into music itself.  I have reviewed a couple of actors- who are musicians too- and always find the performances and songs that little bit more special.  Perhaps it is the skills involved within acting- projection and performance- that easily leads to some rather accomplished music.  I am not sure, but what I do know is the actor-musician label should not be one open to derision (it can often get a bad reputation).  If you look at some T.V. stars that have made a stab at a music career- I shall name no names here- their attempts can be summed up as ‘mixed’.  You get a few actors who can deftly amaze in music- bringing their skills and personality to great songs- but many come off embarrassingly short.  In modern music, there are a lot of singers/musicians going into acting; the reverse is also true.  Perhaps the two areas have a closer link (than I imagined) or there is something inherently attracting about a music career- something an aspiring actor cannot refute.  I raise the point because my featured artist mixes acting with music:  A talent that is making in-roads in both fields.  If you have not heard of Robert Lane- he is one of many making their way through right now- then yu will do soon enough.  One of those honest musicians toiling and crafting their current sounds- trying to get as many as possible engaged and listening- this year will see his extended E.P. dropped.  That seven-track record showcases a unique talent with a different way of working.  I have mentioned Pop music a lot recently- and the much-maligned attempts from our current crop- but it needn’t be that difficult.  Before I carry this point on, let me introduce Rob Lane to you:

“Robert Lane is a singer songwriter based in Birmingham.

Robert’s musical path began with liberating his brother’s guitar from a bedroom cupboard. “He’s eleven years older than me so he had all the cool toys, including this guitar. I asked if I could have a go or even borrow it, he always said yeah sure tomorrow. So in the end I went into his room one day when he was at work and sat on his bed playing it. I did this for a week or two, having to put it back in his cupboard before he came home. I couldn’t re-string it as a left handed person should do as that would give me away. By the time he lent it to me legitimately I had learnt too much to start again left handed and so to this day I play the wrong way round.”

Inspired to write and perform by the likes of The Beatles, Pete Townshend, Rufus Wainwright and Ron Sexsmith, Robert played with various bands as a guitarist before taking the decision to perform as a solo artist.


Robert was chosen by the LG Arena to perform before concerts by Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler, BBC Sound of 2010 winner Ellie Goulding and international superstar singer/songwriter John Mayer. In May 2013 he returned to the Forum Live to play before Eric Clapton’s main stage appearance. In August 2013 he was one of 15 songwriters selected to attend a song writing retreat/course with Kinks front man Ray Davies. Robert has appeared at Beverley Folk Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Birmingham Artsfest and The Tenby Blues Festival as well as venues including Birmingham’s Glee Club and Jools Holland’s famous venue The Jam House. He has supported a wide range of performers including Nell Bryden, Polly Paulusma, Gary Knock, Lotte Mullan, Paul Liddell, Alice Gold, Cattle and Cane, Jazz Morley, Edwina Hayes, Dan Wilde, Jess Morgan, Steve Gibbons, Jay Leighton, Dan Whitehouse and Steve Ajao.

As well as writing and performing Robert works as a guitar teacher and workshop leader for musicians of all ages. “I’ve learnt an awful lot whilst teaching. Sometimes you have to find new ways to explain things you haven’t thought about for years, and in doing that you get a new understanding of them.”


He’s worked as an actor, comedian and shoe salesman. “I’ve performed in some very strange places…a shed, a tree house, busked on the street, art galleries, in a glass box for 6 hours on BBC3…strange but wonderful.”

Robert’s work as an actor and teacher has brought new skills and realisation into his music.  His exposure and work with musicians/actors has enforced realities and truths about the industry.  These realisations come through in the music which distinguishes itself from what is out there.  So many Pop crop wannabes are throwing the same old jams out there:  Those love songs with a few chords to their name.  Away from the derisory and ill-fated attempts at Pop:  There are artists that are doing something different and exciting.  Robert Lane- to be fair is not a pure Pop act- plays Acoustic, Rock and Alternative sounds- infuses them around a Pop base.  What impresses me about him- and one of the reasons for assessing his music- is the charm and charterer that emerges from the music.  Maybe that stems from his natural acting ability- an issue I will have to explore more in future- but you hear that smile and depth emerge in every word.  Not someone simply going through the motions:  The songs he puts forward stick in the imagination and showcases a natural talent who wants to keep making music.  It is often hard bringing new light when talking about solo acts- I have been doing this for so long now- but Robert Lane is an artist that subverts preconceived expectations.  Over the years, he has performed at a string of festivals- and supported an array of great musicians- and has grown in confidence and stature.  He is an artist that manages to balance his many endeavours- from acting to teaching- whilst ensuring the music is stronger for it.  Lane takes some well-worn/traditional themes- love’s strife and the unfairness of relationships- but ensures there is much more originality and diversity across his sounds.  Quirky tales and wonderful charterers mix with songs about wit and confessional moments.  It is clear to me Lane has gone to great lengths to ensure his music has its own mark and distinction.  Not an average Pop singer:  An artist that has a unique flair and voice that should be fostered and encouraged.  His E.P. is available to order and shows what a proposition he is.  The consistency and breadth across the E.P. mixes the themes of heartbreak alongside charming tales and songs filled with imagination.  Birmingham is perhaps not a region that has produced a lot of current masters- Mike Skinner was the last great musician from here- but there have been some legends who hail from here.  Everyone from Jeff Lynne (E.L.O.) to The Beat; Duran Duran to Black Sabbath:  There have been some terrific musicians that call Birmingham home (or hail from nearby).  Lane wants Ends and Starts (his new E.P.) to inspire people and get fans talking.  Having collected some dedicated followers across social media- all attracted to that very special type of music- you would not bet against those numbers swelling and expanding.

Seeing as I am a fairly recent fan of Robert Lane:  It was apt to have a look-back and investigate his earliest moments.  Having been performing music for a while now, I was expecting his sapling songs to be a little under-formed and slight.  Well Adjusted was unveiled six years ago and shows how confident he was from the start.  Catchy and memorable- I get touches of Oasis, The Beatles and Bob Dylan at various intervals- it is a song that showcases a terrific and emotive composition.  Our hero holds a line he cannot cross- he feels lost and disconnected- he speaks to a heroine that thinks he does not care.  Unable to bare the tensions and realities of the situation- hoping there is more than this- no-one does it “like I do”.  The well-adjusted star boasts incredible vocals- the lead performance is emotive and passionate throughout- bringing in huge backing vocals to enforce the lyrics and add to the mood.

  Lost But I Can’t Care is another song that showed Rob Lane’s many sides and abilities.  A softer and tenderer vocal- compared to a track like Well Adjusted– we go into more Folk/Soul territory as the young musician shows his adept ear for melody and a catchy chorus.  Few artists craft such melodic and memorable tracks so early in their career.  In the earliest cuts, I was swept in the graceful and gorgeous moments; the strong and nuanced lyrics- everything hangs together and Lane sounds completely natural.  Giving the impression he has been playing for decades:  Such an assured and confident artist grows in strength with every release.

More recent tracks like You Want It Both Ways and One of Those Guys demonstrate that evolution and Lane’s ability to craft classic-sounding Pop- the likes of The Beatles keep coming to mind- whilst throwing wit, intelligence and mature into the mix.  Those big and memorable choruses can be found once more- You Want It Both Ways’ is particularly stunning- whilst the compositions have retained that mix of Folk, Pop and Alternative blends.  What you get- comparing the earliest sounds with the songs produced a couple of years back- the consistency and quality.  Lane does not sound fatigue or lacking any inspiration:  If anything, his songwriting is more ambitious and he brings new ideas and sounds into the frame.

  My Love’s in Deep is perhaps Lane’s most assured and stunning cut to date.  The composition employs more grit and gristle- some scratched electric guitar strings- and boasts Lane’s most soulful and direct vocals ever.  It is a song that marks new life and direction whilst retaining his identity and sound.  I will be fascinated to see if the E.P. continues the themes of My Love’s in Deep– it may stray away and concentrate on other areas.  What I do know is how confident Lane appears right now.  You can tell his years of performance have strengthened his music and given him fresh inspiration.  This will mean future records carrying this trajectory on and building on these exceptional foundations’.

My Love’s in Deep is Robert Lane’s latest single, and- judging by the feedback across social media- it has connected with a lot of people.  The opening strings race and hustle into life.  Sprightly and ready for action:  You get a boisterous and invigorated introduction that gets the listener involved and ensures their attention is focused.  Unable to sleep- with his love being in deep- you get Country-esque twangs and Folk threads coming out in Lane’s vocal.  With perhaps a touch of early days-Dylan in the delivery- that acoustic guitar sound reminds me of his earliest work- the song starts off with a solid and impressive flourish.   Having lost his “last chance to leave” I began to wonder whether the hero was in a rather struggling bond.  Maybe the relationship has felt strains and seems beyond the point of repair.  Most songs that deal with love both address break-up and its heartache; some look at casting blame and pointing fingers when necessary.  As the lyrics start to unfold, I realise my early interpretation is a little wayward.  The hero continues his story and looks back at when the two first met.  That vintage/classical storytelling- the superiority of the ‘60s songwriters against the grain of some modern-day cliché- boasts a terrify narrative and charm.  The duo- you start to picture what the girl looks like- met by chance it seems.  Perhaps the heroine is someone Lane knows- or has seen around- but he always wanted to see her one-on-one.  That cute and almost teenage-like meeting- perhaps it is a recollection from an older bond- see the girl inviting our man to see a band.  The hero becomes god-smacked when the girl takes his hand- enforcing that innocence I get from the song- and the bond starts to blossom.  As they go and see the band- that feature’s the heroine’s best friend- you start to explore possibilities and various images.  Our boy cannot sleep and it seems like this girl has made a huge impression early on.  Having lost that chance to leave- you wonder whether he wants to leave or feels he needs to- there is no turning back.  Perhaps this is new territory- or the romance is moving along too quickly- but you get some nerves and hesitations early on.  With the initial stages laid out- the hero letting his voice campaign and explain- a beautiful compositional punctuation adds evocation and atmosphere.  Blue-inspire guitar soloing sits with energised and heartbeat percussion to move the song on and give the listener a chance to reflect.  Lane is one of those artists that is capable of inspiring various parts of the body.  The lyrics and vocals get in the mind and heart- that mixture of thoughtfulness, romance and intelligence- whilst the composition ensures the feet and arms are activated.  I love the layers and different genres Lane can bring into a song and make everything sound consistent and completely natural.  That authority and bravery emerges throughout My Love’s in Deep.  Following that chugging motif, we hear more of the story.  The two- our boy and his girl- sojourn to a party after the gig and that is when the first kiss arrives.  The hero did “not stand a chance” and is taken unaware.  Recollections of early-days Beatles- the songwriting style of Paul McCartney especially- comes through in a song that never fails to put a smile on the face.  As they are at the party- and that kiss has been planted- the two go for dinner (the girl would not let our man pay).  The heroine is used to having her own way and there seems to be differences in this relationship.  As things have continued and flourished- from those early days they are now more settled- there is no guessing where things are headed.  Those nervy and quick-moving moments are in the past:  What we have now is a love that seems serious yet has uncertainties.

Lane has a beautiful knack of storytelling and narrative- perhaps not surprising given he’s an actor- that moves things forward but ensures the listener can envelop themselves in the lyrics.  The coming-together/bond has been, in the words of our hero, an “unqualified success”- almost as quirky as The Streets line in Let’s Push Things Forward:  “I wholeheartedly agree with your viewpoint” against scenes of disagreement and argument- showing a distinct Britishness and distinct pen.  With so many songwriters being overtly direct and blunt- their choice of language and words lacks imagination and surprise- Lane has a distinct dictionary and a great turn of phrase.  Unable to sleep- in the grip of this deep love- the hero seems invested and stuck (perhaps not the best word) in the relationship.  That infectious and rousing chorus is reinterpreted to emphasis the points and get the listener singing along.  One of the most catchy and unforgettable choruses I have heard all year- an out-and-out stomper- the song’s final moments are a riot of uplift and addictiveness.  The guitars chug and spark; the percussion rifles and smatters- that voice continues to climb and strike.  A coming-together of all Lane’s strengths and assets:  My Love’s in Deep is his most accomplished and impressive song so far.

   Ends and Starts’ lead-off song- and perhaps one of the most upbeat that will appear in that collection- shows just how confident and accomplished Robert Lane is.  I have heard his older material- and how assured he appears on those cuts- but his latest revelation is the most memorable he has ever produced.  The lyrics bring together childlike innocence- a love story that could be taken from 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll- with something modern-day and contemporary.  With that in mind, the composition has a great blend of Rock, Blues and Alternative.  Robert Lane is an artist with one mind in the past; the other firmly planted in the future.  The way they come together (on his latest track) will appeal to a wide range of listeners and those who love their music with depth and nuance.  I find myself revisiting the song and becoming entranced by the storyline and that final coda.  There are so many strands and little touches that reward a devoted and passion listener.  In the solo world, it is so challenging discovering an artist that differs and really sticks in the mind.  Robert Lane has shown how he can negotiate and overcome hurdles- an artist that has continued to play for years- and this is a good thing.  My Love’s in Deep is a stunning number from a songwriter that ranks himself among the most talented and able we have in this country.  Do not let him pass you by.

Ends and Starts is a collection of songs that showcases what a talent Robert Lane is.  Not just reserved to narrow themes and tastes:  The width of genres and subjects explored across the record are hugely impressive.  At the heart is that consistency and core which will ensure his existing fan-base go away very happy.  With every release Lane seems more assured and confident.  As an actor and teacher it is only natural the musician would be able to project and inspire- one of the most credible and respectable actor-musicians working in the U.K.  Bringing influences as wide ranging as Kate Bush and The Beatles into his songs:  You have an artist that has a great love of the legends of the past.  Of course, there is a contemporary edge to Lane’s music- it is very much the sound of here and now- but those older/classic touches mean his music resonates with older generations and more mature listeners.  I got hints of Paul McCartney when listening to My Love’s in Deep:  One of those lovely tracks that could easily have slotted onto Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  It is a track that has a charmed smile and plenty of character.  Lane is an artist whose lyrics get inside your head and paint pictures and vivid scenes.  Few songwriters are capable of stepping away from cliché and providing music that has character and nuance.  If you have not heard Robert Lane then check his previous songs out- available on his SoundCloud account- and get to grips with one of the rising stars of British music.  With people seeking what London and the big cities are providing music- Birmingham is a part of the U.K. that is showcasing some great artists.  While not on the same level as London, there is evidence to suggest here is an area that could grow (as a musical hot-stop) in years to come.  Robert Lane is a fascinating example of what can be achieved when it comes to music.  Having his fingers in a few pies- as a teacher and actor- you would see him on paper and maybe think this:  Here is another actor who is trying to become a musician!  Truth is, music has always been a key love for Lane:  Acting is just another area that interests him and he loves to do.  You can tell how vital music is and what a passion he has.  From his compositions- that mix Acoustic and Blues together with Pop and Folk- you have a musician’s musician that wants to inspire others.  That will not be hard to do- I know others that have latched onto Lane’s music- and it will be exciting to see what this year has in store.  Lane is going to be traveling across the U.K. in support his new record:  A chance for fresh listeners to come see him and hear those songs in a live environment.  I hope he gets to come to London and give the capital a glimpse into his stunning music.  For now- and with his extended E.P. dropping- it is going to be great seeing just how far Rob Lane can go this year.  I can see more music arriving and the young musician making plans for festivals.

With a ubiquitous and much-need sound at his disposal, it seems like Lane has the ability to translate abroad and have a career there.  It would not be an exaggeration to say he could gain plaudits in the U.S. and Australia.  I mention these two nations- as I have done in a lot of reviews- as they are the most popular and notable nations for new music (Australia to a lesser extent).  The point is, Robert Lane has the ability to get his music heard far and wide- marking him as one of the brightest talents around.  With Birmingham recently voted as the third happiest place to live in the U.K. – a recent survey showed areas of London to be the least happy- fewer sniggers should be leveled here.  It is clear the atmosphere and lack of anxiety in Birmingham works wonder for musicians.  Take away the jokes and clichés- the accent gets a bit of a ribbing- it will be interesting to see if this honorific achievement will reveal similarly exciting songwriters.  I always find it interesting London- with its anxiety and bustling environment- showcases so many unfettered and great artists.   I feel London will relinquish some of its dominance as its boroughs become more compacted and overly-populated.  The sheer numbers flocking to the capital is exciting for music- the range and mass of artists to be found- but a lot of the young artists are feeling the strain.  I talk to many artists from London who all tell me how difficult and challenging life in London can be.  It appears other parts of the U.K. are stealing focus and producing treasures.  Robert Lane is promoting and campaigning hard- with the release of Ends and Starts– so keep your eyes on him.  The solo market is producing a depressing amount of robotic and faceless acts.  From the boring and lifeless acoustic guitar-strumming Pop example; through to the big-choruses-and-uplifting-messages female solo acts:  I get rather red when looking around music at the moment.  Those musicians that strike against the conformity and sheer averageness of music- and the worst traits of the young coming through- should be commended and congratulated.  Not only does Robert Lane stand aside with regards quality and consistency:  The individuality and personality of his music makes him a very relatable and warm artist.  My Love’s in Deep is Ends and Starts’ lead-off song and a great representation of Robert Lane’s music.  Possessing all his traits and ingredients; it is a track impossible to ignore and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  An exciting and original musician that deserves a wider fan-base; let Robert Lane become a part of your music rotation.  Few truly unique and memorable solo artists are coming through so here is someone…

WE all need to follow.



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TRACK REVIEW: Hunting Bears- Sweet Anthony



Hunting Bears




Sweet Anthony





Sweet Anthony is available at:

December, 2015



Leeds, U.K.


WITH the raft of Hard-Rock bands that fill my…

daily playlists- I am a guy who likes his bands to be a bit heavy- I am always pleased to review new music- bands that differ from my usual rotation.  In my day-to-day I tend to immerse myself in a range of music- with Rock and Alternative being at the heart- and love to dip into a spectrum of sounds and genres.  When it comes to new music, perhaps the assortment of music is not as varied as you’d always hope.  It is true, there are some fantastic artists fusing genres and crossing boundaries:  Musicians that are rallying against predictable and obvious to provide the public with something genuinely innovative.  My featured artists are a Baroque-Pop band that has opened my eyes to a whole new possibility in music.  Before I come to them, it is worth talking about that genre:  Moving onto investigating consistency and evolution among musicians- concluding with a bit about embracing music that is outside our comfort zone.  Leeds has once more produced another wonderful act- a catchphrase of sorts for these pages- and I never cease to be amazed at the breadth and quality of the musicians that play here.  I shall not wax lyrical (once more) on this subject but it is great to see the city so fervent:  Where else in the U.K. do you get such a range and consistency of music?  Maybe London is boasting the same variety and ingenuity:  Leeds is a constant hotspot that many should look to if they seek something special and fresh.  Bereft of sameness and fatigue:  I can see 2016 showcasing a whole wave of phenomenal Leeds-based musicians.  Pop music is a style and genre that has enormous possibility yet seems to have few true pioneers.  In the mainstream, we still hear too many power ballad-producing artists (normally female) that are aiming at a very specific audience.  It is essential to have a few examples of this type of music- to provide inspiration to young women- but there is a suffocation and over-reliance on rather bland and unoriginal motifs.  The most standout artists- in my view anyway- are those that take that Pop core and mix in other genres.  Whether it is Rock or Electronic ideas; something Folk-based or pastoral:  There are no limits to how far you can stretch Pop to create something sensational.  Baroque-Pop fuses Rock sounds and is commonly played by artists from the U.S. and U.K.  During the 1960s, artists like The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones brought the style into public prominence.  By the mid-1970s, the popularity (of Baroque-Pop) started to fade due to the rise in Disco and Punk-Rock artists- and the explosion of Punk music for that matter.  With that said, the genre never truly died and gained resurgence during the 1990s.  With acts such as Belle and Sebastian- Regina Spektor and the Divine Comedy displaying immense talent- revitalising the genre:  That has influenced modern artists to keep the torch burning bright.  Designed to be less commercial and more mature- less edgy than Rock- Baroque-Pop incorporates Classical elements and instruments to mix the popularity of Pop with something more cerebral.  Hunting Bears have a little in common with the likes of Regina Spektor and classic acts like The Beach Boys.  Being relatively unfamiliar with Baroque-Pop, it has been great looking into the band and how their sound has developed.  The orchestral Folk-cum-Pop blends of the quintet from Leeds has enthralled and stunned critics and music reviewers.  There are few acts like Hunting Bears which got me thinking about how difficult it is to be consistent in a music scene that sees so much brief fling and beauty.  I have often stuck to a band that seemed promising and amazing upon their first release:  With my heart seduced, said band/act would crumble and feel the pressure of the industry.  It is always sad to see a genuinely promising artist feel the pinch of a jam-packed music climate.  Those artists that can pervade and remain in music are those that deserve a lot of applause and respect.

Day-to-day- speaking with musicians on social media- I hear about their daily woes:  The struggles to get gigs and earn money; the disappointment of underwhelming radio play and patronage.  It is heartbreaking to find great acts so disheartened and despondent.  Passion and purpose go a long way to ensuring musicians survive and prosper.  Away from that, it is the originality of music and the evolutions of music that create footholds.  It is great having an induvial sound- one that has commercial promise but is unexpected too- but you need to keep evolving and provide the listener with new ideas now and then.  Even the legendary acts of old- The Beatles, Led Zeppelin etc. – did not stick to rigid sounds in their music.  From each album, you get new ideas a definite progression.  By the same token, modern-day artists must ensure they keep their music fresh but consistent.  Hunting Bears are looking to create their third E.P. – rumours it will surface this year- but do not doggedly stick to a narrow sound and stretch it across the E.P.s.  Every song has a definite personality and sense of purpose.  While their debut E.P.- 2011’s So Long– was a confident and immediate release; Brother Sister (unveiled in 2014) was a step forward and showed new ideas.  As 2016 is here, the Leeds five-piece will look to keep consistent but ensure their third E.P. has new endeavours and sounds.  Too many music listeners get caught in a ‘comfort zone’ and do not often seek anything that does not conform.  I am sometimes guilty of ensconcing myself within the sounds of ‘90s music and Rock.  I love most genres but do spend an inordinate amount of time coming back to the same artists and sounds.  With bands like Hunting Bears emerging, I have been compelled to broaden my horizons and find like-minded acts.  The recollections Pop past- The Beach Boys’ harmonic, Baroque music for one- sits with of-the-moment Pop and Rock to create something involving and romantic.  The five-piece are not one of these niche bands that will be playing specific festivals.  The guys have a sound that can transcend boundaries and has a universal appeal to it.  All the ingredients we look for are there:  The immediacy and nuance; songs that look at love and relatable figures.  Importantly, the passionate performance and exceptional musicians cannot fail to impress anyone who listens.  I love the E.P.s they have produced already- having gone back and seen what they are about- so am looking forward to finding where they head next.  The Leeds collective has a very popular and marketable sound- the likes of Joanna Newsom showing what can be done (she is more avant-garde but mixes Classic elements together with Folk and Pop) there is no telling just how popular Hunting Bears can become.  Many listeners and music fans are looking for something deeper- that makes them think but ensures it speaks to the heart- and you get that in spades from Hunting Bears.  Let us hope a new E.P. does arrive and the band come and play down south- it would be great to see them arrive in London.

A lot of bands I review tend to have a very small back catalogue- or the song I am reviewing is their first- and that virginal timidity makes it hard to discover how they will mature and develop.  Luckily, Hunting Bears have a couple of wonderful E.P.s under their belt:  I can see how they started out and whether their music has changed at all.  So Long is nearly five years old and is a four-track release that shows immediate conviction and originality.  Mother City is a gentle and immersive song that is awash with gorgeous strings and passion.  The vocal interplay looks at chasing streams to the hills:  An idyllic and riparian scenery unfolds as the percussion adds race and clear movement.  Compiled of live and early-career cuts; So Long is an insight into a tender and young band making their first step.  You get so much atmosphere and live-sounding tangibility in every recording.  Despite the fact, these are early recordings’ it does equate to a lack of development and authority.  The band sound completely formed and tight in every track.  Mother City boasts a range of wonderful vocals and evocative lyrics:  The band create a song that lifts your spirits and makes you imagine what is being sung and unfolding.  Holes In Your New Shoes ends the E.P. is one of the most emotive and reflective tracks across the E.P.  The lyrics see the leads ask the question:  “Who says I’m to blame” for a static surrender?  Creaking stairs and confessions- “I’m the oldest man I know” show a unique lyrical bent and a charming sense of storytelling.  Colours are being turned black and blue- the old man has holes in his new shoes- and the song seems like a fable or nursery rhyme.  Differing across the E.P.- in terms of the production sound and quality- you have an E.P. with plenty to recommend so many different ideas.  The E.P. has a little bit of a two-sided sound- live tracks and early recordings but this does not affect the consistency and overall tone.  If anything, it provides precious insights and revelations from a band that sound stunning from the offset.

   Brother Sister was recorded after a three-year ‘hiatus’- the band working on new songs and performing across the country- and does not lose anything at all.  You might think that gap would see a slight dip in quality- the band unsure of what direction they are taking- but the performances between E.P.s leads to a stronger and more confident E.P.  Julia opens things and is a crisper and more affecting song.  Right from the off, you become entranced by those haunting and ethereal vocals.  Choir-like and beautiful:  The heroine has a knife in her back and is feeling the strains of the world.  Looking at characters and figures- rather than making their songs first-person and love-based- makes the music more interesting and original.  It is here we get more musical ideas and tighter performances.  The band bring more strings and elements together- violin, harp and piano- to fuse Folk, West Coast harmonies and Pop into a rapturous blend of sounds.  The production is sharper and more polished allowing all the elements and notes to radiate through.  Her Velvet Dress is one of the most arresting and stunning songs the band created (to this point).  Pin-sharp vocals present redemptive vocals and the need to defeat the odds and remember a wonderful velvet dress- when things were perhaps a little better.  Tears are being fought and the hero is struggling to look at life’s positives.  Maybe the sweetheart has broken up or moved:  That longing and remembrance is truly affecting and memorable.  You can picture the scenes and there is something classical and old-time about the song.  It seems like a literary chapter and has its heart in a classic text.

The band have developed and improved between E.P.s.  Their debut was confident and showed what they were capable of.  If anything, Brother Sister is a sharper; more layered and nuanced E.P. that fully exploits their shared talents and genre ambitions.  You get more ideas and a crisper sound (compared with So Long) and that shows a natural evolution and step.  This means a third E.P. could take another step forward and bring in yet more sounds and ideas.  Whether we will get a Brother Sister-sounding E.P.- that continues where their last record left off- or a reinvention, I am not sure.  Sweet Anthony suggests there will not be a big departure.  You have a band that has fresh influence but keen to keep their well-formed and unique sound intact.

Sweet Anthony has been claimed to be bolder and more experimental than before- the assessment from the band after a recent interview.  The band stated- in that same interview- with each song/E.P. they bring in new ideas and show a natural shift.  With Sim on keys- a new dynamic change- their latest offering shows fresh insights and moves from a band constantly changing and improving.  I can feel the new-found hero/heroine influences from Joanna Newsome and Sufjan Stevens- artists Hunting Bears have been digging recently.  Bringing the U.S. giant into a British palette- the storytelling and sensibility of the lyrics- shows a fresh story with a new central figure.  Whereas previous characters like Julia– from their E.P., Brother Sister– we have new perspective and incentive.  The opening moments launch straight into a wordless vocal.  Instantaneous and unexpected- the band’s past songs would suggest a building composition- you are taking aback by the vocal force and urgency.  That tone continues and is backed by soulful and atmospheric keys.  Right from the opening notes, you sense new direction from a band that are probably revisiting past Soul masters and U.S. idols.  I know the likes of D’Angelo have been name-checked by the band- one of their new songs has that vibe to it- and I get the impression they have shifted away from The Beach Boys/Bob Dylan avenues- for a few songs anyway- to embrace artists that are perhaps bolder and bracing.  The band has not betrayed their roots for one moment:  Sweet Anthony is an updated version of Hunting Bear’s established sound and is a song that (probably was) cemented after some experimenting and science in the studio.  It seems “Hell this peace we’re chasing” and seems to look at a distant relationship that is causing strain and anxiety.  I know the band’s member find themselves in a long-distant relationship- their new material is more personal and intimate- so Sweet Anthony seems to be the reflection of a very personal and current malaise.  Whether the lyrics were penned by one particular member- or it is a collaborative effort from the group- you know each musician finds relevance and truth in the words.  The song is almost a call-across-the-oceans:  A desperate cry to try and bond too-far-apart hearts.  In past releases- especially Brother Sister– the band have relayed stories from people close to them.

The songs came from heartaches of friends and close ones:  Now, we have something more particular to the band and ‘traditional’ perhaps.  As the song continues, the fight seems to be “our own creation”.  The schoolyard tricks and infantile games have caused a separation and the distance between them.  The lush and harmonic vocals- that sway and intertwine like the rapturous flight of birds in the summer sky- you get confessions and honesty from the heroine.  It seems like her man has been pushed apart but it may not be so one-sided.  Too in love to play politics and be dishonest:  Maybe things- the way they sit right now- are for the best and the only way they can be.  Whatever the reality and circumstance- where the hero may be right now- it is causing a lot of strife and upset.  The band’s stunning and soulful harmonies- the staggering vocals perhaps reveal the best any band has to offer- provide candour, tranquility and strange beauty.  The tetchy and heartbeat drums add Soul edges to the track:  The instrumentation sees traditional Folk ideas mix with something more experimental and mind-altering.  Unlike any previous song- or quite with the same effect- the lyrics and notes are bent and elongated to create something heavenly and transcendent.  With musicians like Joanna Newsom and Dirty Projectors counting as influences:  You get Newsome-esque harmonies (with those wonderful love songs) and something innovative and genre-splicing.  ‘60s Folk and ‘70s New Wave combine in a marriage bed that gives Sweet Anthony huge nuance and repeatability.  Upon the first spin, it is those immense and captivating vocals that hit me.  Later on- when I replayed the song- composition touches and lines of the song find influence in my brain.  The heroine has demons and the Holy Ghost breathes down her neck.  The hero has given a lot and means a lot to our lead.  That need for “mutually-assured forgiveness” comes out and mistakes have been made.  It is rare to see a singer cast blame on themselves and perhaps confess to transgressions and immaturity.  Whether there has been a communications breakdown or some petty argument- the hero may have run away to try and find space- you wonder what provoked the current situation.  My mind being romantic and purist:  I see a love that exists with few arguments but obstacles to overcome.  Perhaps the duo is in communication but find them separated by seas and land rather than ideals and party lines.  The emotions are raw and revelation-spilling:  Whether that openness can lead to reconciliation and togetherness is uncertain.  Before the 3:00 mark- and after the vocals bid to sweet Anthony- you get glitch and quirky guitar sounds that fuse elements of Vampire Weekend and their ilk- to my mind at the very least.  The bond of twiddling and racing strings- going to stick with Vampire Weekend- produce a call-and-response with the violin, that mixes Classic with Indie into something contemporary and traditional.  The band produce one of their most interesting and developed composition that shows them embrace new influence and show fresh confidence.  While the group has mentioned Sufjan Stevens, Talking Heads and The Punch Brothers- when chatting to The State of the Arts– Hunting Bears are no less experimental and impressive.  You got little hints of other acts/genres but all presented in a unique way.  Caught in the breeze and wave of the strings- joined by aching violin towards the latter stages- it is impossible not to fall for the song.   Darker and haunted strings fuse with hissing percussion and starlight guitars:  The resulting excelsior is a potent one indeed!  Not only does the compositional conclusion please the senses:  You get narrative and fill in pieces of the jigsaw.  Whereas most of the lyrics are portrayed within the opening half- and set out the realities and circumstances of the situation- now you get fresh revelation and possibilities.  With final harmonies- that sound graceful and heaven-reaching- the band leaves the listener wondering how things worked out.

Whether Sweet Anthony sees a satisfactory conclusion- the lovers make it to one another or open the lines of communication- it is an engrossing song that shows the band at the peak of form.  They have stated how they are keen to experiment and progress as a band- not stand still and trot out the same songs.  Sweet Anthony is a wonderful glimpse into their upcoming E.P.  A song that is insistent and memorable straight away- they go in harder and more assured than ever- it marks a progression and confidence they have not shown before (not to this extent, anyway).  The composition seems to have brought in new elements- the keys stand out as do the string sections- whilst the entire band interplay shows a terrific bond and affection for one another.  The performances are tight and the intuitiveness borders on telekinetic.  How the song truly began- and whether rehearsal saw it bloom and form- it is clear a lot of work and passion has gone into its creation.  The melodies, vocals and harmonies have surpassed anything Hunting Bears have attempted before- in terms of range and beauty- and the five-piece sound as essential and mesmeric as ever.  Sweet Anthony marks a shift from impersonal narratives- bringing in friends’ experiences to their songs- towards a more personal and self-reflective tone.  While a lot of bands would look at these themes- distant love and the need for a happier bond- with cliché and rather lipid presentation; our band demonstrates a rare talent that shows immense power and beauty.  Congratulations must go the Leeds outfit shows they are one of the most promising and consistent bands working in the U.K. right now.

So Long and Brother Sister showed how confident and unique Hunting Bears are.  The development and consistency between the E.P.s highlighted a band with a lot more years ahead of them.  I am excited to discover a quintet with beautiful and nuanced sound.  Sweet Anthony is their latest offering a tantilising glimpse into what 2016-music could reveal from Hunting Bears.  If you are a fan of the ‘60s masters like The Beach Boys and The Beatles- who took Classic and Folk elements and sprinkled them inside Pop- you will find a lot to love about Hunting Bears.  Whether they go to create their own Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper’s in years to come remains to be seen.  What we have right now is a young band with plenty of ambition and ammunition.  They have a great following across social media and are being touted and promoted across a range of media sources.  Interviews and reviews are getting their music out there:  The band’s profile is building and that can only be a good thing!  Of course, it is the music they play that is speaking to those who like their music with depth and emotion.  Ensuring listeners are not divided or exclude:  What you have with the band is an all-encompassing and warm sound that has so much passion and tenderness to be found.  Leeds has once more- hardly surprising to me! – pushed a band forward that puts the city right back in the focus of the music press.  London’s dominance and ruler-ship seem to exist out of convenience and sheer numbers- close to the majority of the nation’s press and with a larger population- but Leeds is not exactly inferior when it comes to quality and diversity.  The mark of a great city is one whose musicians do not trot the same sounds:  They show innovation and the desire to separate themselves aside from the masses.  L.A. and New York boast an enormous amount of possibilities and artists:  Each doing something different; here are cities that are restless and hugely impressive.  London too has that sense of character and work ethic:  Leeds can be mentioned alongside those much-heralded hubs for musical excellence.  Baroque-Pop is a genre (sub-genre) I was only familiar with via my association with bygone acts- The Beatles and those that popularised the genre throughout the ‘60s.  Whilst we saw a slight dip in the 1970s- musicians influenced by this type of music- the 1990s and 2000s saw that slump conquered.  Of course, it would be narrow and foolhardy to mention Hunting Bears alongside The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

Not in terms of quality- the Leeds bands are exceptional- but our five-piece have so much more to them.  Influenced by West Coast melody and Gospel-tinged harmonies:  They fuse ideas and genres into a sound that is very much theirs.  Reminding you of the legends- whilst having a very contemporary relevance- there are so many ideas and layers inside their stunning music.  You find yourself coming back to the songs and finding things you missed the first time around.  This nuance and authority stand them in very good stead.  Too many modern acts are so thread-bare and unexceptional, you crave something with more substance and meaning.  With so many of their peers falling at early fences- the strains and demands of music are too much- this Leeds quintet is here to stay.  Whilst they have had a slight change- they started as a six-piece- that has not compromised their music and integrity.  This year, we will see another E.P. drop- Facebook suggests the guys are recording at the moment- and that can only mean tour dates and performing across the U.K.  I hope festivals and venues snap these guys up and ensure they make it onto their stages.  I feel too many of us- I include myself with this point- tend to get too safe when it comes to our music tastes.  When we see a unique and unusual act come along- that strays from what we are comfortable with- the noses turn up and the eyes turn away.  It is true, there are so much rubbish acts and waste in music- acts that deserve very little acclaim- but there are a huge amount of acts that deserve a lot of acclaim.  If we all broaden our horizons and embrace something new; that can lead to a broader and more educated musical palette.  Hunting Bears are accessible and by no means an acquired taste.  Sweet Anthony is where they are headed but have a look-back and see where they came from.  A restless and innovative band that could ensure for many years to come- add to their fan-base and discover something fantastic.  Consistency is a hard thing to obtain in modern music.  The level of competition- tied with the over-crowded population of musicians- means it is harder than ever making a lasting impression on the scene.  So many new artists find the realities too daunting:  They will make a few good songs before tiring under the lash of demand and day-to-day work life.  It is a hard graft ensuring fans and media appreciate your music.  Not only do you have to campaign and ensure people listen to what you have produced:  There is that demand to keep your music consistent yet evolving.  It is no good sticking with one formula and repeating things- people grow tired and will look for something new- and the challenge of originality and evolution is scaring a lot of people.  I am looking forward to seeing where the Leeds five-piece are headed next.  It is sure to be exciting and- if Sweet Anthony is any sort of guide- it will lead to a lot of new fans coming aboard.  If you are (currently) not one of them…

SORT yourself out, sharp!



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TRACK REVIEW: The Ronaynes- Panic Attack



The Ronaynes



Panic Attack






Panic Attack is available at:



Grunge; Rock ‘n’ Roll


Glasgow, U.K.


IT is challenging being in this line of work and coming up with anything…

new to say.  Not in a bad way:  I just encounter so many bands, it is near-impossible putting a different spin on things.  Whilst The Ronaynes play music with plenty of life, quality and originality:  I find myself (briefly) back in Scotland.  I am splitting reviews for the next week- a lot of them feature artists from Scotland and Yorkshire- so it is good to start things with a look into one of Glasgow’s best kept secrets.  Before I come to them, it is worth revisiting the music emerging from Glasgow; the importance of mixing genders into a band- looking at the genres of Grunge and Rock ‘n’ Roll to complete things.  So many music fans are looking around searching for those quality bands:  Those that can play heavy and hard but make sure there is nuance and repeatability to be found.  With so many brief and disposable bands coming through- that drop a great album only to disappear from view- the challenge is finding an act that can endure and improve.  With the sheer amount of competitors flooding the market, the question is this:  How do you make sure you are in the public’s attention years down the line?  The simple answer is ‘you can’t’.  Music today is such an overcrowded and unpredictable thing:  You never know which artists are going to go the distance.  That said, I can always detect an artist that has that potential:  Early sounds that have the potential to lead to long-term success and acclaim.  Away from the obvious avenues for new music- those big cities of England- it is great to see Glasgow producing so many terrific and unique artists.  Historically, the city has produced a wide range of artists who have made their impressions on the music world.  From Franz Ferdinand’s arty Rock to Primal Scream’s legendary music:  Glasgow is a city that has not exactly slouched when it comes to those legends and leaders.  Throw in Marmalade, Mogwai and Belle and Sebastian:  Softer ‘middle-of-the-road’ acts such as Deacon Blue and The Fratellis call Glasgow home.  I often speculate- when assessing a city or area- what causes the type of music and quality that emerges.   Glasgow prefers to play with that core of Rock:  Throwing in Electronic and Dance elements; that primal and exciting core seems to mandate a lot of the output.  Whilst areas like London have more Pop and Soul artists:  Glasgow has a tougher edge and more grit than elsewhere in the U.K.  This can lead to some homogenisation- you have to dig deep to find great Pop, Electro.-Pop and Folk singers- but the Rock bands they are producing rank among the best of the moment.  I have listed a few legends- some of them still playing today- and that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Rock (or Rock ‘n’ Roll) is one of the hardest genres to make new and original.  There is mobility, but due to the sheer number of bands doing the same thing, separating yourself from the pack is extremely difficult.  I encounter so many bands that are cut from the same cloth:  At the end of the song, you hardly come away overly impressed or surprised.  Luckily, The Ronaynes have taken the time to ensure their music leaves the listener wanting more.  Whilst they do wear a few influences on their sleeves, the music they are coming up with has enough verve, passion and invention to stand them in good stead.  Here is a band that is building slowly and ensuring their music has plenty of nuance and appeal.  I think so many acts are nervous they need to put out music:  You get rushed and hurried songs that possess no depth and intelligence.  The Ronaynes have grown up listening to Grunge, Rock and Indie artists- from the ‘70s/’80s legends to the upcoming acts via Nirvana and their Grunge peers.  With so many boy-only bands out there- I am stunned there are so few mixed-gender acts- it is always a nice surprise finding a band with a female lead.  It is 2016 but there is that depressing over-reliance on the 4/5-piece band with only men among the ranks.  I guess it is not their fault:  Diversity and difference always leads to stronger music, mind.  With male and female members (in the band) not only will the vocals have a greater range- the music and lyrical content will have different angles and possibilities.  The Ronaynes understand how important it is to distinguish themselves and not just be your run-of-the-mill band.  Before I continue my point, let me introduce them to you:

Debi Mason – Singer

Guitar – Steven Mcauley

Guitar – Jamie Reid

Bass – Mark Mcguinness

Drums – Jenny Tingle

A filthy breed of classic rock, glam and grunge with a controversial twist has the music world talking about the Ronaynes”.

The band’s description of themselves (above) is a pretty apt summation.  There is no room for relaxation and Pop cliché in the ranks.  With a powerful female lead- and an equally assured female percussion section- the boys’ strings nestle together in songs that have that familiarity to them.  Those who love the past masters of Grunge will find a lot to love inside The Ronaynes.  The Glasgow five-piece do not simply replicate the past:  Their fusions of Rock and Glam are the perfect blends that make the feet move and the hairs stand to attention.  Authoritative yet melodic; direct and developed:  A band that hits you first time but ensure their notes stay in the head for a very long time.  I am not sure what they are planning for the next few months- a new record or single- but it seems like they have enough material for an E.P.  Maybe the guys have already been in the studio- recording that E.P. – but it will be interesting to see what is coming next.  Having completed a series of great gigs, the band are looking forward and keeping their fans abreast.  Keen to connect with their followers- keep them in the loop with regards developments and plans- I am going to be following their progress and what they have in mind.  Panic Attack is a stunning insight into one of Glasgow’s best upcoming acts.  They are not an act that simply throws songs about love into the ether.  They investigate common and diverse concerns; they have a social coincidence and are a relevant band.  In a tumultuous and uncertain time, you need musicians that are speaking for you- not those that are obsessed with their own heartbreak and misery.  An honest and vintage-sounding band with modern attitude and impetus:  This year will surely see them make their way into the public forum.  With a loyal fan-base and solid sound:  Who would bet against them taking the festival circuit by storm?

Panic Attack was originally released a while ago:  It is one of the band’s newest cut and something that represents where they are at the moment.  Capturing their live energy and those wonderful performances- together with a sturdy and professional production- I was keen to look back at their earlier works to see any changes and alterations.  Johnny Jones mixes a Rock backbone with an emotive and impassioned vocal from our lead.  The band comes together in a performance that has soulful edges and something quite melodic.  When called for, the mood lifts and the harder edges come through.  What the band does is have Grunge and Rock working in the back but give it a controversial twist.  The emphasis is very much on distinguishing the sounds aside from expectations.  Those vibrant and full-bodied vocals have huge soulfulness- and could be straight out of Motown- whilst the composition brings some gravel and pummel into the mix.  The songs look at issues of love and relationships but give the areas new meaning and potential.  When It Comes Around is another song that shows the band are not your average and predictable players.  Every track has those captivating vocals and a rounded and multi-genre composition.  It would be good to see the group stretch their subjects out across a future E.P.  Whilst they tackle everyday love and relations with new angles:  There are other subjects and concerns that would benefit from their chemistry and shared talents.  Political unrest and modern-day social issue are not often tackled by a lot of bands.  That gritty and hard-rocking music could inspire young listeners to become more involved in social and political issues.  Whether The Ronaynes are settled on their current themes- tales from their lives and something more relatable- I feel they have that potential to broaden their horizons and address lesser-heard themes.

The band released the E.P., No Courage Without Fear– that brings all their previous songs together in one record- and showcases their full talents and abilities.  I hope the band have another E.P. in them and continue their sterling work throughout 2016.

I love that the band has already put out in terms of quality and sound.  That inimitable lead vocal and core sound has meant they are building their fan-base and growing in reputation.  It would be good to see the band exploit this on future recordings and perhaps expand their palette.  Having such wonderful musicians- and incredible singer- at their disposal could see them own anything they touch.  Perhaps something more pained and angst- like the classic Grunge anthems- could come in or maybe something overtly Glam-Rock and danceable.  It is not my job to suggest the band’s angle but I love the music they have already offered.  So much confidence and authority already exist:  I just know they can achieve some great things and really expand their influence.  With each new release, you get something a little different and unexpected.  Panic Attack takes love and day-to-day but gives it a new angle and attention.  It would be great to see the guys step aside completely from relations (for a few more songs) and fully exploit their abilities and hugely powerful music.

Panic Attack begins with a rampant and meaningful charge.  Reminding me a little of Elle King’s Ex’s & Oh’s– that same chugged momentum and sound- you have a track that has that Blues rooting together with a blend of Detroit Rock and Amy Winehouse-esque soul.  Everything comes together in those initial moments but remains restrained and controlled- the band does not explode out of the gates too soon.  The firepower and potential come out right from the start.  Our heroine starts with advised a man to “keep on running”.  That vocal is well-paced and ensures every word is delineated with care for emotion and setting the scene.  Whilst the composition has those Blues-cum-Rock blends, the vocal is a lot more soulful than you’d expect.  This is a good thing as it gives the lyrics of chase and anxiety a charm and beguiling allure.  Perhaps the song looks at two lovers with very different agenda or perhaps an overall warning against panic attacks.  Whilst so many of us get those feelings in our veins- a caution that is laid out on the song- maybe there is panic inside a bond that has hit the skids.  You cannot ignore the confidence and passion that comes through in the vocals:  It ensures each lyric has that quality and urgency desperately needed.  In previous numbers, the band has experimented more with Grunge and Rock edginess.  Here, that is done to a lesser degree:  What you have is a song that marries Rock ‘n’ Roll of the ‘50s and ‘60s with something modern and contemporary.  Tying these older and modern threads together- ensuring the track has its heart in the 21st century- will mean a multitude of listeners and music fans will appreciate the song.

Interpreting the song, we see a man that is not who he used to be.  I become curious as to what has happened and compelled the song.  You cannot shut this man “out of the door”.  There seems to be control and something dangerous coming out.  The man is hard to shift and there is that air of suffocation.  When the heart “skips a beat” it is not in a romantic thing:  That fear and attack has Grunge sensibility but is delivered with beehive swing and revives the swinging ‘60s Soul sound.  Few bands mine the territories of Rock, Soul and Blues inside songs that investigate unsavoury characters- it works wonderfully here.  Whether this song is written in the first-person- our heroine is recalling hard times from days past- or it is fictional, I am not sure.  The Devil stands over her and there seems to be no room to escape.  Inside the domestic unrest and entrapment, you get a song that plays a catchy and addictive beat.  The percussion keeps slamming whilst the strings have groove and dance to them.  From my “front to my back” that panic attack is making its feeling known.  With some backing vocals- that add to that intensity- you get a song that ensures the issues and lyrics have accessibility to them.  The Ronaynes are a band who has shown how hard-hitting and unique they are- the themes they explore and the sounds they unite- and here they have probably created their finest track.  At every stage, Panic Attack showcases what a tight unit they are.  The performances are consistently committed whilst that lead vocal ensures the right balance of light and grave danger.  It is rare to find a band that deal with well-worn cores- relations and love- but push it out and tackle different sides.  The desperation and need for escape keeps coming up for breath.  Our heroine asks whether we heard her scream:  That hopelessness and need for salvation is one of the most haunted and electrifying pleas you will hear.  If the delivery lacks that necessary scream and Grunge roar, perhaps the soulful and big-bodied alternative works even better.   Spooky and ill-fated, our lead seems to pray to the heavens and look for a savior to lead her away from her tormentor.  Themes of domestic abuse and stress might not seem like a goldmine for musical revelation:  Such is the rarity of its exposure The Ronaynes sound utterly fresh and new.  There is no other band that treads the same lines with that blend of sounds and elements.  The composition never relents its campaign and urgency:  The percussion slams with sweat whilst the guitars and bass keep the blood flowing fast.  The rough-and-tumble nature then explodes into something demonic as our heroine unleashes a single scream- the summation of her pains and harrow.  The chorus remains catchy and memorable- in spite of the subjects it broaches- whilst the band ensure the final notes are as compelling as the first.  At every stage, you wonder whether you have the song licked and have interpreted it right.  That central figure- who started out/in the past was so nice- has now turned and showing a different side.  I wondered whether the song was a personal revelation from the lead or something that distances itself from personal revelation.

The mix of ‘60s Soul and Rock/Grunge undertones makes the track such an instant thing.  In future cuts, I would love to see the band ramp things up and let their Grunge animal out a little more.  The lam-cum-Blues sounds unite inside Panic Attack.  The testifying Soul and Rock swagger bonds surprisingly effective and ensures there is fire and rumble throughout.  You cannot refute the emotion and conviction of that central performance.  Debbie Mason has a mature voice that stands her apart from her contemporaries.  Singers like Amy Winehouse are inspiring a wave of new artists of the moment.  The combination of grit and anxiety- together with Soul power and something utterly exposed- means artists like Ella King are getting a lot of attention.  Perhaps an unsurprisingly sound- given how much Winehouse meant to people- it is nice to see a female singer step away from that obvious idol.  You get a bit of Winehouse but the abiding sound is a singer with native accent and love of ‘60s Soul.  On Facebook, the band markets themselves as a blend of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Grunge and Glam.  Whilst there is some Grunge barbed-wire and undertones, you get more Glam and Rock ‘n’ Roll emerge.  Those ‘50s Rock swings- unusual for a modern band to be influenced by that genre- is given a retro. twist and lease of life.  The Ronaynes are a band that take existing genres/styles and give it vitality and fresh lease.  Steven Mcauley and Jamie Reid allow their guitars to give the song Rock nervousness and plenty of layers.  It is not just about raw emotions and directness.  With the guitars, you get danceable swing and something tender in places.  The duo combines well and propels the vocal- ensuring the pained lyrics are given appropriate support and drive.  Mark Mcguinness ensures his bass keeps things disciplined and ties all the threads together.  With Jenny Tingle providing sturdy percussion- that pummel and constant drive- you have a drummer that perfectly injects a tormented heartbeat and spades of urgency.  Together, the band ensures Panic Attack lingers in the mind and reveals its true potential over repeated assaults.  Given the subject matter and nature of the lyrics, everything is dealt with maturity and intelligence.

It is always a nervous experience- for me anyone- coming up with something new to say about a band.  Having reviewed hundreds of acts across the last few years- and having a very set style and way of writing- it is getting harder finding new angles and topics.  Whilst Glasgow- and the words written about them- have become familiar and a little worn- the acts emerging from here are anything but.  Having previously reviewed The Fables- a couple of great local bands coming shortly- it is the music and sounds that are the most important things.  With the next few reviews being a challenging thing- new ways to write about Glasgow, Rock and bands in general- for today I have been captivated enough with the music on offer.  The Ronaynes have only been playing for a short time but have made in-roads and created a name that has seen them amasses some loyal and dedicated fans.  It is no surprise (this has happened) given the mix of sounds and the way they perform.  Their songs are not predictable and the same as other acts- heartbreak tales and overly-familiar stories- whilst every performance bursts with energy and commitment.  The tight-knit connection of the members can be heard in every single note.  Having two female members (and three boys) in the band has resulted in a rare chemistry that allows their music to showcase depth, diversity and layers.  So many bands are filled with boys and you get limitations and predictability.  That strong and to-the-bone vocal is backed by incredible compositions that have instantaneous and epic status.  There are Grunge bones and gristle inside Glam stomps and Rock ‘n’ Roll swagger.  That blend of cool-and-spiked makes the Glasgow band a fascinating proposition.

Rebelling against the worst instincts a lot of bands show- stadium-sized songs with no depth and originality- you have a five-piece that is grittier and more real than a lot of their peers.  With 2016 shaping-up to be a rather unsettling and unpredictable one- in terms of the political turmoil and violence that rages- there is anger and fear in the minds of many.  The Ronaynes are a band that reflects a lot of this uncertainty inside songs that strike against the normal yet document universal feelings.  Away from that, there is plenty of personal insight and familiarity:  They are not a band that is too singular and restrictive.  I am curious to find where the quintet is headed and what their next move is.  They have unveiled a few tracks and it seems like there is definite scope for an E.P. or album.  Having has a run of gigs under their belt, they will be more confident and assured than ever.  Having gained that live experience- and made sure their songs have been rehearsed and well received- surely will compel them to not only record some new tracks but put the existing tracks together with them.  In 2016 it is important our bands and musicians separate themselves and try and make their music as long-lasting as they can.  I am worried there is that tendency to rush into making music through fear of missing out- as a result, songs seem half-baked and under-cooked.  While too many bands are sticklers for Indie and Alternative sounds- they are popular so why not? – there are so many other avenues worth exploring.  Dance and Electronic sounds can be thrown into Rock music- like Primal Scream did across Screamadelica– whilst Punk and Grunge are always there for the taking.  The Ronaynes have ensured they are not a divisive band:  By the same token, they do not want to be too familiar and predictable.  While a lot of their peers make music to get the feet moving; here we have music with a much more ambitious intention.  Those Glam-cum-Grunge minglings get the brain inspired and make the heart pump.  The feet and arms move; the voice shouts and supports- songs that get the entire body activated and united.  Glasgow has once more showed what it is capable of.  There is a thriving local scene which sees bands and artists support one another.  I was lead to The Ronaynes by a Scottish photographer- other Glasgow bands have pointed me to home-town favourites- so there is that desire to get the city on the map.  The truth is; Glasgow has never stopped impressing and producing great acts.  It is just the media and largest attention is trained to other parts of the U.K.  Being so far away from the capital does not mean the music deserves to be overlooked.  Maybe there is not the number of great solo artists you’d hope for- there is a tendency towards bands largely- but the groups on offer have that energy and originality the music world craves.  If Punk and Grunge is not your bag then there are more subtle and studied alternatives.  If you are a fan of something more artful and Pop-based then you have plenty of options available.  Our Glasgow quintet has a future ahead of them and need people to support their music and help it spread.  With Panic Attack currently on offer…

NOW is the time to get these guys the attention they deserve.



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