Track Review: Purple Hill- Six String All To My Heart

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Purple Hill

 

Six String All To My Heart.

 

9.4/10.0

 

Six String All To My Heart is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XUDLejcPhk&feature=youtu.be

RELEASED:
29th January, 2015

GENRES:
Folk, Punk, Rock

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Canada

Top 40 Radio Memory Dream (Oh Yeah!) cover art

The album Top 40 Radio Memory Dream (Oh Yeah!) is available from February 27th.  The album can be streamed via:

http://purplehill.bandcamp.com/

Jordan Bruce: Drums, Percussion
Quentin Ede: Bass, Back Up Vocals- tracks 3,4,6,7,8,10
Brent Hough: Guitar, Keyboards, Backup Vocals
Owen Marchildon: Guitar, Vocals
Dan Snyder: Bass- tracks 1,2,5,9

Produced by Purple Hill
Recorded and Mixed by Jeff McMurrich
Mastered by Fedge
Photography by Tyler Anderson and Michelle Siu

All songs written by Owen Marchildon

 

 

ONE thing that has been playing on my mind (among other things)…

Is how difficult it can be- for the new musicians starting out- to gain necessary appeal.  Many of my musician friends have been in disarray; jaded and angered by (how difficult it is) to get respect.  Many acts have a great sound (and mass of determination), yet competition is high: the time needed (to hit your goals) can take quite a while.  I am always anxious- when new musicians feel down- as all of them deserve respect- and their rightful share.  I am going to be taking a two-week break from reviewing (to launch a charity initiative) but before I take a short pause, I am back in Canada: a country that is producing some of the world’s finest new music.  In fact, I have had to ‘ban’ Canadian artists (from contacting me) for a bit: it seems that most of my requests (for reviews) emanate here- it is great, but the rest of the world needs a chance.  I am not sure what it is about Canada: whether there is more hunger; less pressure perhaps.  Whatever is occurring, I am never surprised by what is coming forth: last year I was lucky enough to witness some tremendous Canadian artists- all of whom can go far.  Before I introduce my featured artist, I will finish (this section) with one point: the year 2015.  Last year the mainstream disappointed me slightly: the very ‘best’ albums produced were not that great.  I enjoyed Royal Blood’s (self-titled album) but grew weary of its flaws: similarly, the best of the rest hardly gave me chills.  This year shows greater endeavor and wonder: the likes of The Libertines and Blur are coming (to show the new breed how it SHOULD be done).  New music has always been (a constant high) – this year something strange seems to be happening.  Bands and artists- whom were working hard during 2014- are starting to get angered: change courses and start afresh.  I know of several acts that are changing their game plan: the ambition and focus is unwavering and inspiring.  It is likely (this wave of reinvention) will herald new sounds; some stunning movements- and guidance for up-and-coming acts.

Purple Hill are an act that have been around for a few years: they have garnered respect among their native land- and are determined to take their appeal across the oceans.  Among their fellow contemporaries, the four-piece offer something different: it is not generic or formulaic in any way.  A lot of musicians (even Canada’s best) tend to replicate existing acts: losing any sense of originality; coming across as rather stale and insipid.  The Purple Hill gang is a lot sharper and spectacular.  Before I bring in some biography, I would offer some advice to the boys: get your social media output growing.  It is only (fairly) recently that the lads have joined- the big and rather anonymous- world of Facebook.  They have a Twitter account, but there is some ground to cover: a few more sites they could (make themselves visible on).   Their social media ranks are modest at the moment: with a bit more shouting and presence, they could reach huge audiences.  In an age where social media has overtaken real-life interaction (sadly), it is vital that it is exploited- I hope the band ramp up their online offensive.  Their music goes a long way to doing the talking; reviews and buzz has been very encouraging.  With their forthcoming album nary a matter of days away, the online community has been pricking their ears up- in-tune with what the group is putting out.  Before I go into more depth, let me introduce the Canadian quartet:.

Owen Marchildon – vocals, guitars, harmonica.
Jordan Bruce – drums, keyboards.
Brent Hough- guitars, keyboards, backup vocals.
Dan Snyder – bass.

Finally, Purple Hill has joined Facebook country. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How the hell did that computer illiterate, long-haired captain put together such a site? Well, I assure you, he didn’t have much to do with it. BUT EVERYONE IS DOING IT. So he thought they’d tag along. I guess there are a couple things that need to be said. They have a clean sound. Except for those god dam chromatic tuners. They sure can give Purple Hill the blues. Especially when trying to reach open spaces.
They’ve released three albums so far, a Self-Titled debut on Escape Goat Records in 2005. Their second effort was self-released in January of 2008. It was titled “I Was Born To Flesh”. With the exception of a few rockers, there both pretty much mellow affairs. They recorded their third record “Beechnut St.” at Owen’s parents’ house during a hot week in July 2008. It was released in October 2009 and received glowing reviews both here and overseas. The band was featured in the Eye Magazine the week of its release. With the exception of a few ballads, it’s pretty much an upbeat, jingle jangle, rock n’ roll record.
The band is set to self-release their fourth record, a 12 song storytelling seducer that lies somewhere between Micheal Hurley and The Feelies. There may have been a side order of Soft Boys in there but the band seemed to be over Underwater Moonlight. They just kept shouting “Give us Jonathan! We want more Jonathan!” The new record is called “Bring On The Macho” There also will be a 5 song E.P. released at the same time called “Leave No Prints Behind” This is all going down at the Silver Dollar on Friday March 18th. 2011. Hope to see you there!
So look for Purple Hill in the New Year. Find yourselves amongst the people, check local magazines, go to shows, and for Christ sakes, let’s be friends.

The boys themselves have a clear voice: a unique way of doing things; clear personality ideals.  In terms of ‘influences’- those who have inspired their sound- a few different acts (come under their radar):

The Feelies, Micheal Hurley, Jonathan Richman, The Velvet Underground, Neil Diamond, My Bloody Valentine, Glen Mercer, The Byrds, The Everly Brothers, Big Star, Georg Jones, The Kinks, Chuck Berry, The Travelling Wilburys, The Clean, Wire, Gordon Lightfoot, CCR, Bob Dylan, Alexander Spence, The Vaselines, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson,Beachwood Sparks, Pavement, The Replacements,The Meat Puppets, Freedy Johnston, The Flatlanders, John Fahey, The Raincoats, The Flying Burritto Brothers, Gene Clark, The Turtles, The Pretty Things, Patti Smith, The Soft Boys

Top 40 Radio Memory Dream (Oh Yeah!) is available to stream via BandCamp- the ‘official release’ is a few days away.  I have read a few reviews (of the album) and most are very impressed: highlighting the band’s vitality, inventiveness and fresh sound.  The strong songwriting that comes through (on each track) makes it a nuanced and fascinating collection- something that should be investigated.  When assessing the album, the band surmised it, thus:

“This album was recorded at 6 Nassau Studios between spring 2011 and the summer of 2012 with legendary recording engineer Jeff McMurrich. With the exception of a few guitar and back up vocal over dubs, everything you hear on this record is essentially recorded live off the floor. Working with Jeff was both memorable and rewarding. He’s a very adaptable person and this allowed for the band to attack the songs the way we wanted to without jeopardizing quality sound. This was definitely a fun record to make and I think that sense of “fun” and looseness really comes through on the recording. So sit back, put on your headphones and dream a Top 40 Radio Memory Dream. OH YEAH!!!

The Leave No Prints Behind E.P. - released back in 2012- was the band’s last fully-fledged effort.  The tracks (on that E.P.) showcased a wide breadth of emotions and sounds.  Tracks like Chromatic Tuner Blues dripped with vivid storytelling and wit; gentility and Folk strands- a perfect way to kick-start the set.  I Wanna Kick Your Ass is as vibrant and violent (as its title): a rife and riffling slab of Punk venom.  Old Time Hooligans (in terms of the music) puts me in mind of early-career R.E.M. – the vocals are a real stand-out here.  When We Became Friends has softness and tenderness: its lyrics are as picturesque and memorable (as any on the E.P,).  Throughout the disc, the band never sound compromised or exposed: the songs are tight and unique.  You are hard-pressed to compare them with any other act; their strong songwriting and seamless performances make the subject material engaging and repeatable.  The band has grown in confidence and stature (over the last few years) – their latest album is a testament to this.  Not only have their retained their core elements- strong songwriting and incomparable quality- but have expanded and broadened.  So much colour and adventure (comes out in the L.P.) and it is an album that will draw in a fresh audience.  Six String All To My Heart is a typical slice of Purple Hill: a song that at once is recognisable yet unexpected.  Having surveyed the album, I was impressed by how intent and impassioned (the band sounded) – there are no loose edges or tired moments.  No filler or weak songs to be found: everything on the album deserves its place there.  Being a new discoverer of the band, I was keen to dive into (their latest offering) – see what Six String’ had to offer.

Beginning in a woozy haze- of glorious notes and Blonde on Blonde-esque majesty- Six String All To My Heart gets underway.  Both romantic and intriguing, the intro. builds to a giddying high.  The song itself has its heart set (in the glory days) of the ‘60s: you can practically sense Dylan giving a nod of approval.  That is not to say the song is indebted (to Blonde on Blonde/Highway 61 Revisited at all) as it is very much the work of Purple Hill.  Charming hints and gentle seduction lead you into the first verse.  Like all great songs, there is a sense of literal and oblique (to the lyrics): you are always picturing two different sets of events.  In the video for the song, our moustache-laden hero is in fine voice.  Speaking of something hanging on the wall- a painting?  A gold record?  A photo (of a sweetheart)? – you are at once brought into a very intimate and vivid scene.  Our man is inspired and rejuvenated: keen to pen his thoughts (“The feel I get when it’s in my hands”), you can sense the optimism and passion.  The songwriter elite has been in a midst of what-ifs and sluggishness: he has struck a vein of form and is a man reborn.  Looking around him, our man picks up his six-string; with clear intent (and a girl in mind) you get caught up in the rush of excitement- that sense of renewed hope and intent.  As wrapped-up as you get (with the vocals and lyrical descriptions), the band rustle up a hell of an atmosphere.  I have mentioned Dylan- and two of his finest albums- and there is a genuine sense of the 1960s- an updated version that mixes (the songwriting master) with fresh sounds of 2015.  The band contributes shared vocals; the percussion is particularly sharp and memorable- the keys and bass add plenty of colour, light and strength.  When the entire band unites: that is when you get the biggest hit (and adrenaline rush).  Our hero lets his voice ring out loud and clear: you can tell the song’s messages resonate hard.  Whether inspired by real-life events/romance (or something imagined), you are caught up in the storm.  Looking at the “gold record up on the wall” (I thought that image might feature in the song).  The song itself not only acts as a personal tale; a representation of a man on a mission (to gain fresh musical success) – it is a great statement of the modern (music) age.  So many people I know- who are in the music industry- are lacking that spark and energy: so weighed-down by the pressures of the music business.  I have seen many that have come around again- like Six String’s central message- and many who are in need (of that boost and kick).  I hope this song not only acts as a gem of its own: but gets into the heads of any disaffected musician.  Keeping things simple and effective, the lyrics are economical and catchy: the verse entire track consists of relative few words and sentiments.  Rather than clutter up the song, we are left with a very focused song: it will stick in your head for a long, long time.  If you are a Dylan fan- apologies for the band for bringing his name into things too much- then there is a lovely transition: from the softer and settled romance of Blonde’; to the electric revolution of Highway’.  I was settled in my own presumptions and predications: thinking the song would keep on one course; not deviate or stray from its straight-eyed luster.  Just as the fading light comes to play, the band whip out an electric storm: bringing in some of their Rock-cum-Punk past to the party.  Adding a layer of force and weight, the guitar parable is an effective little thing: it perfectly bridges the two-third marker (and acts as a wonderfully tight middle 8).  Begging for more, the lads keep it concise and to-the-point (the song last 3:31).  When the final notes come into play- and our hero sets on his course of ambition- you are fully into the story.  Rooting for our man, you sit there and wonder: will he make it big this time around?  There is maturity and intelligence throughout the track; simplicity and gorgeous storytelling- something that is lacking (from large portions of the current music scene).  No cynicism or pessimism here, sir: the band is bringing the love back.  The song leaves a big smile on the face: it will resonate with listeners of all ages; inspire new songwriters to try something different.  If you are an acolyte of Dylan’s early/mid-‘60s glory days- when he couldn’t be touched for crap- then you will love (what the band offer).  Their original voice and style overrides any sense of over-familiarity- they inject modern and fresh vitality into their music.  I was left deeply impressed by the band as a whole: the tight performances and seamless intuition is what makes (Six String’) such a golden slice.  Kudos must go to Marchildon particularly, who seeks as much passion and panache (from the subject matter) as is humanly possible- his vocal tones are a perfect counterpart to the uplifting and inspired words.  It would be unfair to single one band member out for attention- as the entire group is on top form- but that is what makes Purple Hill so memorable (that each member is essential and hugely impressive).  Not only does the single act as a guide- as to what the album will contain- but is a step in a new direction: the band has never sounded more intent and inspired.  Make sure you give them a listen (as soon as possible)…

It is clear the Canadian warriors will be forging (a determined and impressive) path this year: hitting the road and reaching new faces.  If they can get their social media portfolio organised and expanded, then they will be onto something: they are no minor league band that are incapable of winning over the masses.  If they sort out a SoundCloud and YouTube account; start pushing their brand more- they will pull in a lot of new fans.  We in the U.K. have few bands (like Purple Hill).  On the evidence they have laid out- their new single and album- the boys are going to be a big sensation.  Too many bands suffer an identity crisis: too keen to mimic or rip-off another act.  Purple Hill has their own voice and sense of direction- their songwriting is among the most impressive I have heard (for a long while).  It is the sense of unity and togetherness (the lads display) that makes their music such a special proposition: that comes out in every note or every track.  I hope they find time to come and play London: it is a city that welcomes in all sorts of artists and musicians.  Too many Canadian acts seem relegated and ensconced in their home locales: few travel across the ocean and seduce continental soil.  Perhaps it is money issues- who can afford to come over on a whim? – or maybe something else- I hope the elite of North America change these habits.  I am stepping back from reviewing until next month- bit tired already- but will be picking up where I left off: discovering something great and unexpected.  If you have not heard of Purple Hill- there may be a few that haven’t- then they are worthy of fonder investigation.  Not your average one-dimensional band, the quartet are some of the most inventive and surprising musicians (I have heard).  It is surely only a matter of time before the four-piece are darlings of the music press: faces that few of us can avoid.  If they continue on their quest and path, then it will be a sure thing.  Have a listen to one of Canada’s best acts…

AND discover something rather special.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

Follow Purple Hill:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Purple-Hill/29372939270

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/purplehillband

_______________________________________________________________________

Music:

http://purplehill.bandcamp.com/

Friday the 13th, Valentine’s’ 14th: Reflect on the 15th?

Friday the 13th, Valentine’s’ 14th: Reflect on the 15th.

I am going to keep this one (nice and) brief…

as a lot of words have been expounded (about Valentine’s Day).  Yesterday was the dreading ‘Friday the 13th’: a day/date synonymous with bad luck.  I have always felt superstition (like destiny/karma) quite a ridiculous proposition: people control their lives/action; the universe has no hand- misfortune does not save itself for an asinine (date on the calendar).  Valentine’s Day has received derision- from singletons such as myself- for its commercialism; forced nature, and well, let’s face it- its smugness.  Lots of happy couples; lots of nascent profferings- a great deal of ‘love’.  I am ambivalent and tumescent (when it comes to today).  Being single- I have been single every Valentine’s Day- the day holds little relevance to me (much like New Year’s Day/Eve).  I guess every ‘holiday’ day is commercial and unnecessary- as an atheist, Christmas’ greatest strength is gift-giving and lack of religious input.  As I sink into the evening with a glass of red wine- and perhaps a beer- I feel this weekend holds great significance.  In so much as I am glad for people (who are in relationships)- who get to have some pre-approved copulation and romance (you can see why I am single), it provides an excellent opportunity for people like me- and many others- to do something good.

This year I have made some bad mistakes.  In addition to fu*****-up a friend’s life- a social media friend- and falling out of regular contact, I have been culpable of other transgressions: chief amongst them is not being a better person.  I consider myself to be quite thoughtful and generous- I give to charity as much as I can.  Days like today ram home some perspective: make me think about what is missing (from my life).  The need to find love is paramount (loneliness can be a serious bitch) but being a more rounded and decent human (is my main aim for 2015).  As Facebook and Twitter fill up with declarations of love; photos of gleaming couples (and some rather saucy remarks), it has a bitter-sweet edge: it makes me feel a little hollow.  If I could go back in time, I would reduce my fu**-ups: stop being so damn eager to please people/’be me’.  I hate the idea of a New Year’s Resolution- because nobody sticks to them; people very rarely change who they are.   I have decided that- for the rest of this year- I am going to be that rarest of lifeforms: the human that changes because they WANT to (and not feeling some need to conform.  My goals for this year are as follows:

Move to London (Soho preferably)

Work in London (in the music industry ideally)

Form a band and record an E.P. (or at least get my voice on tape)

Fall in love (or at least find someone special)

Claim back lost friends

Travel more (I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Italy)

Be as good to my sister (as she is to me)

Fix problems/break-ups I have caused

Donate more (I am giving blood this year; registered as an organ donor)

Do something insane/unconventional (I am seriously considering donating a part of my liver to a stranger)

Try and reduce the impact depression has on my life

Help as many people as possible, and

DO MORE.  I feel like I have done a lot for others- but am always driven to do more- and see too much heartache and tragedy.  Recently a dear music friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer; a distant relative of mine was killed; a colleague’s son was diagnosed with cancer- I have received some shock news and blows, too.  I look around and see a lot of sadness and inequality and cannot stand it- I am too fidgety; too motivated to stand still.  Today has made me reflect on things that are wrong with the world: the stupidity and iniquities that surround us.

Not as a ‘fad’ or temporary measure, I have been driven- by other people’s happiness- to do more: not just for others, but for me too.  I am switching to vegetarianism (for moral reasons) and eating less sugar and sweets (I am in pretty bloody good shape but my heart sure as hell isn’t); moving to London (and doing what I should have done years ago).  I have grown tired of living a ‘9-to-5’ existence: working for the hell of it; not taking risks; being stressed living where I am.  Other people’s illnesses and misfortune has really got to me.  In the next couple of days- to continue the themes of love/giving- I am donating to several charities; leaving a gift to a local music school; sending flowers anonymously; taking a homeless man (who I know) to lunch; doing a lot of random giving/gestures.  Not for the sake of blowing my own trumpet (I literally have no ego whatsoever), but to feel more like a worthy human being: at the moment I am in doubt regarding my self-worth and necessity on earth.  Outside of that, I want to reach a lot more people: contribute to REAL CHANGE.   In addition to continuing reviewing/promoting musicians (one of my true loves) I want to get something done about the world.  I am proper pissed-off with the gap between the rich and poorer: the (needlessly) deep pockets of tech giants and businesses; the shallow tins of the charities and needy.  In addition to doing some various charity bits- have a new half-marathon coming next month; some older campaigns to re-launch- I am tired of being a minor cog.  The plan I have is ambitious- and I will dedicate a full-length blog to it- but it will be a charity idea (I hope to take viral); involve some very cool ideas- and involve some huge names (such as Google, YouTube, Apple and Microsoft) play a part: make sure that millions is raised (for multiple causes and charities).  It may seem idealistic and far-reaching, but it is possible: I am fed up with feeling like crap every day (and worrying about everyone).

What is the point of this blog, then?  Well, today is a special day for many: for many more, it involves exclusion and emptiness.  I am glad that (so many people I know) are happy (and in love): I wouldn’t sacrifice that for anything in the world.  To me, today has greater relevance (than lazy poems and sugar-coated platitudes): it is the incentive to be better human being.  Friday may have been- if you buy into superstitious nonsense- a horrible one; today may be an awesome one- I can almost detect the far-off orchestra of squeaking bed springs- you know what: make tomorrow (and next week) a bloody EPIC one!  If someone like me (hardly the most spectacular flower in the Garden of Eden) can get up and become motivated then everyone (should and can) do the same.  You don’t have to do huge things, but do something unusual/unplanned: small things can go a long way (to making someone else smile).  As I bid the evening a sweet farewell (and reflect on things) enjoy the evening: those in their lover’s arms, or those comfortable in their solo awesome-ness.  If Valentine’s Day passes you by- with its baffling brevity/specificity- then it could (no: SHOULD) inspire something just as meaningful: that desire to make some (even if they are small) differences.  If you balk at V.D.’s sentimentality, then at least compel your arse to get up and do something GOOD.  After all…

THAT gives today a much greater meaning.

Track Review: The Holy Gasp- A Daily Affirmation

TRACK REVIEW:

 

The Holy Gasp

A Daily Affirmation.

 

9.7/10.0

 

A Daily Affirmation is available at:

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

RELEASED:
4th February, 2015

GENRES:
Afro-Cuban; Psychedelic; Surf-Punk

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Canada

 

The album The Last Generation of Love is available from February 24th.  A limited edition cassette (of the album) is available at:

https://arachnidiscs.wordpress.com/

________________________________________________________________________

IT has been a while since I have put (electronic) pen to paper: to review a band/act…

One of the reasons (I stepped away from reviewing) was the burn-out rate: taking on too much; too soon.  At the moment, I am reviewing an act every 2 weeks- that may change in time.  My reviews will be shorter and more ‘to-the-point’: reining it in slightly and… well, I’m waffling now.  It is Valentine’s Day (as meaningful to me as Christmas is to Jewish people); I have decided to bury my head into more important things: namely, discovering some kick-ass new music.  Before I get down (and introduce my featured band), it is worth noting an interesting point: I am back in Canada.  Over last year, I found that Canadian acts made up (a large percentage of reviews): each time I assessed a Canadian act, I was left stunned and surprised.  Britain is producing some varied flavours; some bold colours; some loveable tykes: the music we are putting out is pretty strong.  What I am finding is that the likes of Canada (and the U.S. too) are doing something rather different: they are putting out music of a highest caliber.  Whether it is the local acts (inspiring their neighbours into action); something in the air- or the music scene over there- they are inching ahead of us- in terms of quality and quantity (of great music).   Many of us here tend to ignore international music: we focus too heavily on home-grown artists.  The media are just as culpable: they naturally proffer acts close to home.  If you ignore international acts; you miss out on some rather special sounds.  Today’s act is an example (of such an act); a formation that is sure to seduce: one day they will be making their way across to the U.K.  Let me introduce them.

Benjamin Hacker’s Toronto-based crew has been enlivening and inspiring Canadian artists: among the Toronto music scene, they are one of the most exciting and promising acts of 2015.  In terms of their influences (and who inspires them), they list the following:

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, Primus, the Cramps, Dead Kennedys, Pete Seeger, the Birthday Party, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, the theme song from Ren and Stimpy, Primo Levi, Cat Stevens, Groucho and Harpo Marx, but not Chico, the B-52s…”

If you are a fan of (any of the aforementioned acts) then you will love The Holy Gasp.  That is not to say the band is the sum part of their influences- far from it in fact.  The boys have taken sprinkles and twinkles of Nick Cave’; a scoop of Dead Kennedys; a smattering of Birthday Party- to be honest, they are the faintest shades.  It is hard really to describe their ‘sound’- it is such a unique and refreshing blast of sonic goodness.  I urge you- to listen to the song immediately- and get a sense of what they are about.  The band is not that most predictable of thing: an Indie band that have little originality and focus.  Too many times- unfortunately it is a big problem in this country- I hear of a ‘great’ new act come through, and my shoulders sag: they are as formulaic and processed as you could imagine.  If I hear another band (that is a copy-cat) of Artic Monkeys or Oasis, then I may well give up on life.  The most imaginative and original acts are the ones that gain the biggest attention- and will claim the greatest rewards.  It is hardly surprising that The Holy Gasp have won some impressive plaudits: Toronto is a city that has produced a huge raft (over the last year) of stunning musicians.  It would do well for their British counterparts to take note- investigate what is happening over there (and be inspired by it).  Before I conclude my point, it may be worth introducing you to the boys themselves:

Benjamin Hackman (vocals, percussion)

Daveyoso (drums, percussion)

Sebastian Shinwell (electric guitar, vocals)

Christopher Weatherstone (alto saxophone, flute, vocals)

 James McEleney (upright bass, vocals)

Toronto poet and composer, Benjamin Hackman, formed The Holy Gasp in 2011. He tries to make it all sound like a bunch of hopped-up Latin jazz junkies singing Surfin’ Bird with a bad case of the shits. Call it Afro-Cuban psychedelic surf punk. Call it a groove, daddy!”

From their charming biography; to the intriguing influences: it is hard to ignore the potential on display.  It is a shame I neglected the high seas of music reviewing (for so long)- yet it was a necessary chance to recharge my batteries.  Now that I am (un-) semiretired, I am glad that my virgin review (for my second wind) is an exhilarating and soul-touching slice of gold.  I shall get into reviewing A Daily Affirmation (shortly), but for now, let me give you some further information…

The Holy Gasp will unleash their (The Last Generation of Love) in a matter of days: it will be chance for the world to discover a fully-fledged example (of what the band is about).  When assessing/distilling the album, the band explained:

The album was recorded sporadically between March and November of 2014 by Josh Korody (The Dirty Nil, Dilly Dally, Beliefs) at Candle Recording in Toronto. The album re-contextualizes beatnik aesthetics for the modern listener, and makes a desperate cry for humanity, for change–for people to not only care, but to see that to give a shit is profound.” 

The genre cross-pollination and “giving a shit” has clearly worked wonders: there is a definite buzz (about their forthcoming album).  When looking at the here and now, it is worth taking a step back: to see how the band has progressed.  Last year the boys unveiled Bedbugs- a duo of songs that showcased just what they are all about.  The title track (from the E.P.) is a woozy and stomping hoe-down; a break-neck swing of festivity and dark majesty: a howling execration of the damned.  Tom Waits’ distinct bark and rasp comes in; that same yowl-cum-howl swagger is all there.  Being a fan of Mr. Waits- especially his album Bad as Me- you can hear that influence come in: shades and elements of that album come to the fore.  The track stutters and cries to the heaven- an unholy drunken call.  In the middle of the demented fever comes kick and dance: there is cool rhythm and sexy percussive beats.  Stomp Out The Man: nervy and cosmic beginning; twinkling and curious- a beautiful and brotherly counterpart (to the title slice).  The vocal is determined and strong; swaying and addictive.  The lyrics (of the song) are intriguing, witty and quotable- quite Byzantine and oblique in places.  The album (The Last Generation of Love) is about to drop: a matter of months ago, the band unveiled the album’s title cut.  The song has Antony and the Johnsons shades: Hegarty’s gorgeous croon can be heard here.  Fascinating vocals marry with rumbled congas; horns parp with cowbells (and majestic Folk elements).  Tying together themes of Rock, World Music and Psychedelia, the band crafted a nugget of wonder: a track that is impossible to forget.  The band (on their latest offering) has not compromised their ethics and true sound: so unique, it would be foolhardy and unwise.  Having cracked a rich vein of sound (so early in their career) they have merely adapted their themes- grown in confidence and grown in stature.  You can hear the confidence and authority (in their latest song) – it is a sure-fire indication that the album will be quite a treat.  With that all said, it is appropriate (I give my thoughts) on the ‘birthday boy’ itself…

Having familiarised myself with (the band’s) back catalogue, I sort of knew what A Daily Affirmation would offer.  The song itself is loosely based on/inspired by Jessica’s “Daily Affirmation” (see YouTube to understand the irony in that statement: the crap people will watch!).  Readying myself for a visceral smack in the teeth, I steadied myself for what was to come: and sure as hell there was no messing about!  The track has a slight slow-build: some atmosphere, intrigue and quiet are laced in.  If you watch the accompanying YouTube video- there is a link at the top of this review- it goes a long way (to visually representing) the song’s themes and objectives: it starts with a sleepy head; it explodes into the morning- and has an epic day.  When Hackman’s vocals come into the mix (elongating and bellowing the words “right now!”), he is determined and focused mood.  His life (our hero’s) is on the up: he can do anything; there is a definite soulfulness to the opening stages.  Being backed by a chorus of affirmative voices, our hero is leading a charge: instilled with confidence and defiance, nothing is going to get him down.  Reminding me (of a cross between) George Ezra and Tom Waits, The Holy Gasp clan are in buoyant mood: the song rises your spirits; eradicates the malaise of the day.  Our man loves his family (including his cat: well, you would, wouldn’t you?): he is a man filled with promise; a lease of optimism (the video is particularly smile-inducing).  In the initial stages, the instrumentation is kept fairly minimalist: there are percussive touches; some rumbling in the background- the main emphasis is on the vocal itself.  Not only does Hackman inject some incredibly evocative and memorable vocals- his bandmates do likewise.  Allowing the words and sentiments to proffer unabated, the listener is entranced by the song’s motifs: the unabashed and non-cynical messages being expounded.  Throwing out a f***- you to the world; the protagonist cannot be shackled or held back: he is in fine form, and damned be anyone who tries to hold him back!  Infusing elements of Soul and Gospel (into the vocals and the lyrics) there is a fantastic choral affect created: you are almost compelled to get up and stomp around; wave your arms in a hallelujah chorus- or just smile inanely at the insistency of the track.  With some Tom Waits vocal mannerisms; a little bit of Elvis Presley croon (and vocalisations), you are hooked into the song: this affirmation being played out is undeniably spellbinding.  With so little in the way of jaded irony, (the song) is that rarest of beasts: a track that is optimistic and inspiring.  Right now things are good (for our hero and his band of cohorts); there are no obstacles on the rails.  Gathering up friends and associates, the boys care not for negative grumblings- they may have had bad days but this good day will be celebrated to the full.  Intoxicated and seduced by the video’s simple charms- honestly, check it out- you get enveloped in the rush and urgency: the passion of the performances are second-to-none.  After the imagination-capturing flair and beauty of the vocals- and the incredibly nuanced support from the band, the song transmogrifies: a fire-dancing sonic dalliance erupts.  Ensconced in a blizzard of horns, percussion and guitars, the lads unleash a raga of Jazz-tinged joy: a celebration of the sense, as it was.  Rumba and Latin dance tangos with quick-step promise and hold-me-tight passion; brass blasts implore you to move your arms- get up and get lost in the moment.  Quite a contradistinction from the low-down croon and soulful extroversion- this passage is a rainbow-coloured explosion of sunshine and grace.  The boys have a ball for sure (in the video) and this is passed onto the listener: such is the impact and wallop you get; it is impossible not to be overcome in the riptide.  Desperate for the track to continue for many more minutes, the song starts to fade out- you are left with one hell of a smile on your face.  A Daily Affirmation is a short and sensational burst of wonder; a song that has no hidden agenda: something that is designed to uplift and motivate the listener.  The entire performance is tight and incredible: the band is as close-knit and intuitive (as I have ever witnessed).   Each of the band is at the top of their game; each brings a hell of a lot to the table- there are no weak links or kinks here.  When you mix a dose of liquid joy; a healthy drizzle of dynamic Gospel; a liberal swathe of affirmative belief: you get a hell of a bang.  Not only does (the track) get inside your brain- and demanded repeated listens- it acts as a mouth-watering lead-off (from their forthcoming album).  If this is the sort of thing (the L.P.) is going to proffer: why the hell would everyone not garb it up?  I was transfixed by the soulful and seductive (weird synonym but true) vocals; the jubilant cries and exorcisms; the sheer recklessness of passion and panache- the Canadian lads are determined to bring sunshine and guidance the most pessimistic of bones.  There are few songs- and acts in fact- that are so immediate and vote-winning: the song is that which cannot help but be adored (like a soppy-eyed kitten begging for food).  Do yourself a favour- on this Valentine’s Day- and give your love to one hell of a song.

Their social media ranks are slowly growing: the arrival of their album will surely see them swell.  Across March, the lads will be taking their music on the road: touring around Montreal, Toronto (and near-by locales).  There are so few ‘truly original’ acts out there: bands and artists that betray a debt to nobody.  In this country, we struggle to produce these kinds of musicians: across Canada, there is no such problem.  The Holy Gasp are an act that have a big future ahead; ammunition and ample promise- their sound is sure to get inside of your head.  Mixing snarling vocals with insatiable compositions, I cannot wait to digest their album: I hope that it gets the attention it deserves.  I say this about (most international acts): I hope they get their butts over to London.  It would be good to see them play live; experience the wonder close-up.  The likes of George Ezra have put the vintage back in fashion: he has a low bellow and a treasure chest of classic sounds.  There are too many over-produced, polished and samey acts about: we need more bands like The Holy Gasp.  I shall conclude my review with a quote (from the band themselves): one that perfectly sums them up:

A teacher once told me long ago that “there are two types of people in this world: ‘those who make messes and those who clean them up.‘”

The Holy Gasp is cleaning up the mess (the bland and predictable swathes of music shards) but need your help…

IT will be worth the investment.

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Follow Holy Gasp:

 Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TheHolyGasp

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/theholygasp

BandCamp:

http://theholygasp.bandcamp.com/

Songkick:

https://www.songkick.com/users/TheHolyGasp

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/theholygasp

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Music:

https://www.facebook.com/TheHolyGasp/app_204974879526524

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Videos:

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

 

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Tour:

https://www.facebook.com/TheHolyGasp/app_308540029359

Where Words Fail…: The Cover Version

Where Words Fail…: The Cover Version.

When words fail, music speaks!! by Aron-Santana

A few months ago, I mooted- gaining positive feedback- an idea for a concert: whereby some of the best and brightest (new musicians) would come together- in Chelsea- to perform together.  The concert- entitled Where Words Fail…- is (was) designed to generate funds for (a variety) of charities.  Spending a large chunk of time behind a laptop screen, I find that: I rarely get time to actually connect with people.  I know so many people (across Facebook and Twitter), yet never actually ‘know’ many of them.  So many great musicians; a multitude of stunning artists- I have met a paucity (of them).  The aim of the concert was (not only to raise awareness/funds for charity), but get everyone in one room- and make a great sound.  Unfortunately, financial issues (the high cost of hiring a venue for the night) have pushed this idea (into my hindbrain): it is something that will have to wait until later this year.  It is definitely going to happen: money has reared its head; and stopped the charge in its tracks.  It occurred to me that (a concert) is not the only way (to raise funds for charity) of getting multiple artists together- something simpler could occur.  This brings me to this idea…

Having witnessed (some may say ‘suffered through’) another round of Band Aid (Band Aid 30); it occurred (to me) that so few new/unsigned musicians have been brought together- to do something similar.  You don’t have to be a celebrity to make an impression: a common cause and ideal should bring EVERYONE together (and not be exclusionary).  The finer details are yet to come; yet I have decided a few things- with regards this project.

So…

The Song:

To record on 15th August (hopefully will take one day)

It seemed that (the chosen song) need to have some uplift: was a crowd-pleaser; something that would raise the spirits.  For that reason- and sacrilegiously to Elbow fans- One Day Like This seemed (the best choice).  Not only is it a wonderful song: it is ready-made for a ‘group recording’.  The lyrics are universal and quotable; the composition is wonderful and stunning- the outro. Is one of the finest (and rivals Hey Jude for its chant-at-the-top-of-your-lungs quality).  I know the likes of Sarah Brightman (and I think Peter Kay!) have attempted the song: fine versions; neither I am hugely fond of.  Like Band Aid (and Do They Know It’s Christmas?) and Perfect Day (when various singers contributed their vocals); this track (the cover version) will do the same.  Every vocalist will get to sing a part of the song- when the final coda is repeated; all will combine.  I will work with an arranger/composer, to slightly rework the track- give it a new spin.  Essentially, the (reworked version) will not stray too much from the original.  I hope to incorporate more guitar (especially in the final minutes); brass and Jazz instrumentation- in addition to piano (and softer, acoustic guitar).

The Fundraising:

This is the most important thing: if no money is raised; this cannot happen.  Through a Kickstarter campaign, I hope to get the public engaged: raise money for a worthy cause.  At the moment, the total (money needed to ‘hit the target’) will be around £4,000- that would cover both recording (and music video).  Through the weeks, I will update everyone: how the project is going; what will happen next etc.  In return- for public generosity- gifts and benefits will be offered.  Among these will be the chance to appear in the music video; signed goods (from the musicians involved) etc.  This- and all other details- will be cemented shortly: there is incentive to get involved.  After everything has been completed- the song and video have been released- the track will go online: onto iTunes and Bandcamp.  When a listener wants to play the track, they will have to donate £2; all of the proceeds from the song are divided among the musicians- who then give that money (to their chosen charities).

The Video:

To shoot on August 16th (hopefully will take no longer than one day):

The Video:

You can’t have a song without a video, right?  Rather than a ‘studio video’ (recording the song as it is being performed), something more adventurous is required.  Again, I will be working with others- in this case a director- to come up with the appropriate promotion.  With a restricted budget, we can only do so much- but can still produce something quite memorable.  The video will be shot in London- over the course of an entire day.

The basic idea of the video is this:

The first half (of the video) will be shot using a single camera, and will be a continuous shot- like Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Rope.  The scenes will be shot in the streets of London; involving all of the musicians (featured on the track) suffering some misfortune.  Aimed to be comedic, the video will show various mishap and accident: it is a video that aims to be as ‘fun’ as possible.

As the video progresses- and the camera keeps moving- the musicians will each pick up a glow-stick: that will come into play in the final moments.  Just before the song’s (outro./round of choruses) comes into effect, the filming style will change- there will be a time-lapse interjection- before night comes.  Converging to a London park (not sure which yet; hopefully Hyde Park), all of the musicians will be there- having overcome their bad day.  Armed with glow-sticks (and a happy heart), they will all chorus (the song’s mantra): “So,throw those curtains wide!/One day like this a year will see me right.”  The artists will walk/march in a line- zig-zagging in and out of one another; crossing each other’s path- as they sing the lines.

With the shot illuminated with colour- under the night sky- the camera pans up- to see the London skyline (in all its beauty).  The final seconds see the camera pan out- towards the gates/entrance of the park- to end on a comedic shot (keeping it under wraps, as it is cheeky/unexpected/not quite written yet).

I hope the video will be as simple and cost-effective as possible: above all, fun and easy to shoot.  Speaking with a few (local) directors, I feel that it can stick to a slight budget- and still have all of (the details above) included.

Hyde Park Map

The Dates:

The recording (of song and video) will take place towards the middle of August.  As a result, the Kickstarter campaign will end towards the beginning of August.  Exact dates will be confirmed- to ensure all the musicians/directors/producers etc. are available on these dates.

The ‘Guest List’:

Singers:

There will be about 15 in total- maybe as many as 20- that will be contacted (invited) in due course.

Musicians:

In addition to guitarists; drummers and pianists will be needed- and a string quartet.  Sourced from acts (I know via social media) and local musicians, there will be a total of around 15 (musicians).

The Plan Going Forward:

I have had a few people (stating they are interested), and will need to get exact numbers.  Hopefully those who are ‘invited’ will be free- but it is important to get everyone together (and for all to be available on the same dates).  Hopefully- by August- I can have everyone (saying ‘yes’) in and organise the entire details- ready to go.  I will be posting/launching the campaign over the weekend, and will endeavour to post regular updates (as it goes along).  It would be great- when it is ‘live’- to get people donating and involved.  From the perspective of the musicians (who will be contacted): it would be great to have you all involved.

Watch this space…

The Malaise of the Modern-Day Musician

The Malaise of the Modern-Day Musician

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The music industry is a platform for the ambitious and creative.  With that comes a harsh realisation: many will not have long careers; others will take longer to find success.  In a scene where too many burn out (rather than simply fade away), it is understandable (from a musician’s standpoint) to have niggling doubts.  The music industry promulgates too many reality-star-quick-buck-no-talent-fly-by-night-clowns: true success/respect often arrives later (age-wise).  With so many of my musician friends disaffected- frustrated by their ‘lack of progress’- I have a little story to tell…

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ONE of the biggest joys- and tantamount regrets- is witnessing the plight (of my musician friends).

It is an industry (music) I will be entering soon (with trembling feet and an optimistic heart); getting a band together- and laying down my ‘impressions’ for the world.  I am very excited (about what I can achieve) and feel sure I can overcome some inner-fears- stage fright, nerves; public expectation etc.   When I look around social media (Facebook and Twitter et al.) one thing always strikes me: the struggles (the modern musician faces) to get recognition.  We all have our ideals of life: what we want to achieve; where we want to be (and by what age).  The truth of the matter is this: our expectations are always a little overzealous.  The musicians I know are universally exceptional: each offer something new and genuinely original.  The fact that (the ones who feel short-sold) are not ‘huge stars’ is not a reflection on themselves- their work ethic or talent- more a (hard fact) of consumer culture/the current scene.  When speaking (online) to various musical contacts, they always tell me the same thing: (they) are deflated by the lack of attention (they have received).  I can understand this malaise: true talent deserves reward and acclaim.

I am in the same boat myself: I wanted to be a lot further along (in my life) than I am now- I have not given up on any of it.  It is disheartening to see some lovely people sound so down: stuck in a rut and questioning of their life’s ambitions.  To all those (who have these fears and resemblances), I would say this: keep holding on; do not give up.  It sounds like a trite bromide; yet it is a valid point: those that stick at it will get their just-rewards.  The fact that (the musician in question) feels so under-sold and under-appreciated shows how much they want it (success) – that is the type of passion and dedication that will see them succeed.  Before I expand upon this point- and offer some personal insight- there is something worth mentioning: the cost of being a musician.

From (recently) chatting with a musician friend, I know the financial strains involved in music- an average (no-thrill, holds- barred) song can cost between £200-£300 to get produced.  Considering the average human earns practically sod-all (my business studies background coming into play here!), the tableau (and parable) of the recording process is a fiscal nightmare: how many of us have that sort of money to throw around?  When you look at an E.P. (or an album), the cost runs into four (or five) figures- unless you are raking in some serious gig money- you are not going to accrue a massive stream of revenue.  Social media- and music-streaming websites- make it easier for Joe Public to get tunes for free- adding an extra arrow into the chest of the musician.  Day jobs and savings are often used (to finance musical endeavours); factor out rent, food etc., and the reality is: how realistic is a career in music?  I am immensely proud of ALL my music ‘friends’- the people who have given me so much pleasure and inspiration.  Before I wrap up; offer some solace and (I would hope) ‘pep’- like an ebullient cheerleader chanting for a U.S. football team- I shall get a ‘bit personal’…

Among my (multitudinous) business ideas- I shall touch more on this anon- is (trying to) formulate something for the musician: a fundraising site- like your Kickstarter-s and so forth- that makes it even easier to raise ‘serious’ funds.  The aforementioned site works on the principle of benevolence and mass co-operation: getting the music-buying public to donate to a musician/music project- that can often be a stumbling block.  Having tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to get charity initiatives and fundraisers off the ground, I know for where I cometh: most people want their music free; few will spend their cash on something like a Kickstarter campaign.  It may be an over-generalisation, but there is some truth: the point of the idea (my alternate slant) would eradicate that side of things- it is in the ‘sketchy/infantile’ stage of development, but I am hoping for an ‘Archimedes moment’ (I shall keep you abreast if/when I get something concrete).  I digress, of course; but the point to my thesis is this: money is the major stumbling block (when it comes to furthering a music career) rather than a lack of talent.  This year I am getting my backside into gear; getting some music ‘done’: turning apathy into ‘hell-to-the-effing-yeah!’  In addition to recruiting various band members, I am looking at a fully fledged E.P.; making a move to London; getting my music out there- I will be exploiting sites like Kickstarter as much as possible.  On that point: I can understand certain reticence- people feel if they use it- and rely on crowd-funding, they are employing some dishonesty; maybe not being as independent as they would hope.  Bringing the public into your musical ideas- from the ground-level- is a great way to ensure long-term support- and detract from the disposable fair-weather fans.

I have quite an ambitious mind: my ‘dreams’ are quite extensive.  In addition to business ideas (music plans and the like), I have heady hopes and aspirations- they including moving to the U.S. for a few months.  Music is- and always will be- right at the top of my ‘to-do list’: few people on earth lionise music as much as I; have that intense hunger and desire (to want to be a part of it all).   Like everyone else, I set the bar high: have a timescale and plan of action; want to be big news very soon.  I feel like many of us assume we have to ‘get everything done’ by a certain age: most of the people reading this blog (and my musician friends) are in their 20s and 30s!  Some professions are a ‘young man’s game’- football, prostitution, child actor, trained assassin etc. – but most aren’t.  Music is an industry that provides a mouth-piece to the middle-aged and old alike (legends like Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney are still going strong).  I am worried about (how I am going to finance) most of my music: one of my songs will take at least £5,000 to produce- what with the studio time; crew of musicians etc.  Not wanting to descend into poverty (or sell my organs), I do wonder where the finances will emanate from: how will I ever afford a music career?  Small steps seem to be the answer: being modest at first and taking things a day at a time.  I understand that ‘your average musician’ does not rake in a lot from their songs- gigs and such only pay so much- so we all have to economise and scale-back to begin.  Ever since the ‘90s (when I was but a slip of thing) I have wanted to hear my songs in the ears of others: it is that realisation that subjugates petty financial concerns.    It is axiomatic to say the music world is over-populated: it seems every week several thousands new bands emerge; all ‘the next-big-thing.’  Making your voice hear (and getting a sturdy foothold) can be a source of anxiety and self-doubt.  Let me leave you with this…

Age and money are twin heartbeats that get slower (the longer they keep beating): the former merely a number; the latter a capricious and unyielding pain in the arse (we never seem to have enough money no matter how hard we work).  Aphorisms aside, my true-cum-basic diatribe should offer some crumbs (of guidance): success and appreciation come to those who keep at it.  It is a hard mistress, music: you slog and work; stardom can seem like a far-off beacon.  Before I sign off- and drill down to the bedrock of my blog- I will throw in some case studies…

Musicians like Ed Sheeran- not a huge fan of the music; fan of the man himself- arrived from a ‘humble’ and fraught background: nary a few years ago he was sofa-surfing and busking to make a living.  With a few pence in his pocket- and rejection calls ringing in his ears- he has moulded himself into one of the U.K.’s most exciting musical prospects.  Without getting fixated around short-term success; pacing his ambitions, Sheeran has bloomed into (one of the world’s) biggest stars- he is not a one-off by any means.  I know too many people who have lots of money; they are privileged and scarcely have to struggle- I know a few online friends who are in this position.  Money, comfort and luxury will come (later in life): the early years will always throw up their share of fiduciary woes and roadblocks.  Legendary artists like The Beatles and Bob Dylan rose from modest- that is to say, hard- backgrounds.  Having had to work themselves raw, they had no easy ride: their determination and talent got them where they are.  I know people get fixated with age: they assume that unless they have ‘cracked it’ by their 20s, then they will never succeed.  Bullshit.  I am 31, and have not even recorded a note- your most inspired days and mature movements happen in your 30s/40s etc.  The songs I was writing when I was in my 20s pale (by comparison to what I am recording now).  The world wants music that is of the finest order: it does not matter if you are creeping towards middle-age; so long as your music is good, you will get the support.  Although the young generation have limited attention-spans- and have shockingly-poor knowledge of ‘older’ music- they have enough savvy to realise a good thing.  So many music careers can be over in a blink, there should be no rush to ‘make it’- patience and limitations can be a good thing.  An historical sweep of the legendary music throws up its own maxim: the best there have ever been (took) years to become legends.  It may not be a world-beating saying, but you get the point: it will happen!  Bryan Cranston- Walter White from Breaking Bad- began his life on U.S. soaps: how many U.K. soap stars can you see being in his position (where he is now)?  It may sound snobbish, but few of our soap regulars can ascend to his heights.  The point is, that he- one of the world’s best actors- began life amidst low expectations.  His career started slowly; he began to get bigger parts- dramas and T.V. shows started to form on his C.V.  From there- doubting his ambitions; questioning his motives- he landed a part (as Hal) on (the criminally under-watched) comedy Malcolm in the Middle (playing a neurotic and happy-go-lucky dad to a clan of hellacious sons.  It was not until his 50s that Cranston scored the role of a lifetime: that of Walter White in Breaking Bad.  Aside from being one of the greatest acting shifts in history- Cranston played a lovable and put-upon man in Malcolm in the Middle; a drug-dealing cancer sufferer in Breaking’- it proved how patience, is indeed, a virtue.  Aside from Cranston’s biblical talent- few actors are as funny and traumatic as him- his biggest role has arrived in the middle of his life (well, we hope at least).  Society is too fixated with youth and (making it) young: the finest music; the best acting- that is (in this day and age) coming from wiser (and more mature shoulders).  Keen not to bore (to the point of rigor mortis), let me conclude:

The last year has seen (me suffering) some pretty f*cked-up things come my way.  In addition to being involved in a car crash, I have had a bad ‘depression year’- shall keep those details clandestine.  Having lost a couple of (good online) friends (under auspicious and ridiculous circumstances) – which has caused immeasurable stress and sadness, I have experienced personal ‘loss’- the death of those close to me.  In spite of all of this, I have never been more optimistic about music: that is thanks to those who provide the music.  From pink (now purple) haired Yorkshire stunners; to Surrey-based singers- I have revelled in the audible joy (they provide).  Over the past couple of months, I have spoken to three separate musicians who have said the same thing: they feel depressed because they are (not as far along in their career) as they had hoped.  Despite the fact that all three are insanely talented, I get what they are saying: we all (that write music) want to be wowing festivals; touring the globe- all whilst we still have energy in our bodies.  The realisations are these: a): those desires will be realised (trust me they will and b): stardom is the accumulation of gig tickets and magazine interviews.  Few will realise (reading this; they who make music) just what an affect they are having.  Set aside- for now- ideations of arena tours and record deals, and consider this: do you realise just what an affect your music has?  If you manage to influence and compel a single human, you have already made an impact: every musician I have review has done just that (and inspired me).  Every album I have heard; every song I have dissected- every new YouTube video that arrives- makes me a more confident songwriter- in words of Sam Smith: “I know I’m not the only one.”  It is the small things- the individual songs and performances- that make a big difference.  I know many will sit there and say: “It’s easy for you sitting there; try being us!”  Fair point, but I will offer this: you will all (those that want it) get success before you know it.  Whether it a spot on Later… (With Jools Holland) or a modest tour of the U.K., depends upon your talent and resolve.

The point of the blog- aside from trying to nullify the haunting doubts of some fine musicians- was to offer comfort and assurance.  Everyone I have reviewed- from Jen Armstrong through to Allusondrugs- will see their standards/hopes realised.  They may not know it (same applies to everyone else) but they have had a HUGE effect on me; they have inspired countless people- they have brought smiles to endless faces.  They are young, they are green (they- to paraphrase Supergrass- “keep teeth nice and clean”) – they should feel fantastic (more than merely Alright).  As for the future: give it time (that is, after all, what the future consists)- and know this: you are doing incredibly well.  Whether it takes a few more years- or you are hitting your prime in your 40s- it is worth sticking around.  Do not give up on music; do not question your career choice: NEVER doubt your talent and ability.  The reason I am optimistic (about music) and hell, even still breathing (no hyperbole needed) is because of the fantastic new music out there- saving someone’s life outranks sharing the bill with London Grammar (it may not to some, but it should).  As for those things that we (in the music-making sphere want): tours, radio interviews; to nestle alongside our heroes- that will all come along (I am not saying it to balm wounds and diminish ‘silly’ doubts).  Stick on a good tune; write a catchy song, and relax: you are doing marvellously.  In years to come- when gig stipends increase and hit singles are seducing the airwaves- all of the anxieties and fears will seem (almost churlish).  I know how you feel; I know how scary it is: we’re all in it together (and I cannot overstate how proud to know all you fine musicians).  Hell people, if the likes of me- procrastinator extraordinaire- are looking ahead (with high hopes), then you will all be fine!  Stay strong, keep playing, and (when next year arrives); keep your diaries well clear…

BECAUSE they will be very busy indeed.

The Thirty Best New Music (Acts) for 2015: ‘The Final Ten’

The Thirty Best New Music (Acts) for 2015:

‘The Final Ten’

 

The Verideals:

Jade Barnett and Mat Jones (make up The Verideals).  An act with immense potential, the last year has seen them develop and evolve.  Having reviewing the group (under their former name Shades of Jade), the way they have adapted is impressive- a musical proposition with a clear future.  Clear chemistry and strong songwriter is backed by Barnett’s inimitable voice- an act that are sure to rise from the underground.

https://www.facebook.com/TheVerideals

https://soundcloud.com/the-verideals

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW5avYZupeYeck6AD_OGy1g

https://twitter.com/theverideals

Boom Tales (Ft. Eloise Lovell Anderson)

One of my favourite acts from 2014, the unique and unforgettable sounds (from Boom Tales) is a rarity indeed.  When Eloise Lovell Anderson lends her vocals to the mix, that sense of beauty and ethereal entrance is augmented.  Whatever 2015 holds for them, it is clear they will continue to grow- reaching new fans and supporters.  As comfortable relaxed and serene- as enraptured and determined- the group are one of London’s finest.

https://www.facebook.com/BoomTales

https://twitter.com/BoomTales

https://soundcloud.com/boomtales

Allusondrugs:

Their front-man resembles Kurt Cobain: to be fair, their music has hints of Nirvana.  Allusondrugs are stronger than resemblances: catchy, anthemic and insanely hypnotic- the boys are destined for future festivals.  The north (and Yorkshire) has ample wonderful music: these lads rank amongst the very finest (from the county).  Once heard, they are near-impossible to forget.

https://www.facebook.com/Allusondrugs

 http://www.allusondrugs.com/

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

https://twitter.com/Allusondrugs

https://soundcloud.com/allusondrugs

The Moth Lantern:

Guided by the stunning songwriting o Dan Clark, the Lincolnshire band is one of the most underrated in the U.K.  Their album (Light Waves) shows just how strong they are: masters of melody, uplift and thought-provoking lines.  Having been backed by the likes of B.B.C. Radio 6, the four-piece will be climbing (new heights) throughout 2015.

https://www.facebook.com/themothlantern

http://www.themothlantern.com/

https://twitter.com/TheMothLantern

https://soundcloud.com/themothlantern

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

Braver Than Fiction:

Mixing Indie-Folk, Blues and Alternative shades, the Sheffield band have received serious plaudits- include laudatory statements from many.  A phenomenal live band, it cannot be too long before Braver’ are making their way internationally: their sound is ready-made for the U.S.  I know the group is making plans for this year: make sure you are a part of them.

https://www.facebook.com/braverthanfiction

http://www.braverthanfiction.com/

https://twitter.com/braverthan

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWR-hWqhw5FA4NYEa1CEfBw

Bi:Lingual:

Few acts (successfully, at least) mix Hip-Hop and Rock/Metal.  Beastie Boys mastered it: since then, there have not been many followers.  Skillful lyricists; masterful musicians: their stunning songs are backed by raw and scintillating vocals.  Another band (like Allusondrugs) that has grit and panache: they are sure to be regular fixtures at some of this country’s most prestigious music festivals.

https://www.facebook.com/bilingualband

https://twitter.com/bilingualrshit

https://soundcloud.com/bi-lingual

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

Dana McKeon:

Malta is a country that is growing in recognition- having produced the likes of Chess.  Dana McKeon is an exceptional talent: a skilled M.C./rapper; a prodigious artist and intuitive songwriter, she is sure to go far.  Critical praise has been flooding in; fans and supporters have flocked- this coming year is going to provide (her) much opportunity.  When I reviewed (her single) Street Art, I knew we had (an amazing artist) on our hands- see for yourselves…

https://www.facebook.com/DanaMcKeonMusic

http://www.danamckeon.com/

https://twitter.com/Dana_McKeon

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

https://soundcloud.com/danamckeon

CryBabyCry:

The three members of CryBabyCry are a busy bunch- Rosie Doonan has been heard as Rosie and the Howling North and Cissie Redgwick; Jonny Firth has performed solo and as one half as Knuckle; Nici Todd has played with Rose and the Howling North (as has Firth).  The guys are clearly comfortable with each other: this familiarity comes through in their assured and stunning music.  A terrific live act, the Yorkshire crew are building the foundations- to a very prosperous future.

https://www.facebook.com/CryBabyCryBand

https://twitter.com/crybabycryband

https://soundcloud.com/crybabycryuk

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwvW8AcNigNMx5FalXuJesg

Second Hand Poet:

Few (male) solo artists have stuck in my mind (over the last few years): Second Hand Poet is an artist deserving of wide acclaim.  Haunting and introspective; uplifting and passionate: the young artist is not short of inspiration and direction.  Having performed around Surrey and London, Second Hand Poet has garnered appreciative sighs- his fan-base is growing.  In a scene filled with half-arsed solo acts, it refreshing to see someone who has true potential.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Second-Hand-Poet/417534431620189

http://secondhandpoet.bandcamp.com/

https://soundcloud.com/secondhandpoet

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYTgFc0W1bGKSRO1UxqH43g

Ivy and Gold:

Drawing comparisons with the likes of London Grammar; Ivy and Gold are a stunning duo: one who will go far.  Mix alluring and powerful vocals; captivating and nuanced soundscapes; universal (yet personal) songs- they are a duo for the people.  The bond and affection (Rachel Wilkinson and Jamie Davies) share is evident: that simpatico comes through in their (glorious) music.  Last year was a good one for them- this year will be even better.  The market is begging (for an act like them): it is easy to see why.

https://www.facebook.com/IvyandGoldBand

http://ivyandgoldmusic.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/ivy_and_gold

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

https://soundcloud.com/ivyandgold

The Thirty Best New Music (Acts) for 2015: ‘The Middle Ten’

 The Thirty Best New Music (Acts) for 2015:

‘The Middle Ten’

 

Annie Drury:

A young artist who has had her work played on (B.B.C.) Radio Two: the Yorkshire heroine is on a golden trajectory.  Under the tutelage (and management) of Cuckoo Records, 2015 is going to be a pivotal year: expect to see this rare talent coming (firmly into) the spotlight.  Modern music provides much competition and variation- there is something for everyone- so it is tough knowing who to back: Drury is an artist that should be a staple (of your record collection).

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annie-Drury-music/185837401492957

https://twitter.com/anniedrurymusic

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

http://www.cuckoorecords.com/artists/annie-drury

Little Sparrow:

When I reviewed her (Wishing Tree) album last year: I was blown away by the mesmeric vocals; stunningly evocative songs- the beauty that spilled from every note.  Hard-working, determined and passionate- Katie Ware is an artist that is sure to be making music (for many years to come).  Whether wowing festival throngs- or seducing intimate crowds- there is no getting away from the wonder (of her music).  I know how hard she (and her manager) works: it will not be long before Little Sparrow is a huge success.  Do not let her music pass you by.

https://www.facebook.com/singinglittlesparrow?fref=ts

https://soundcloud.com/uklittlesparrow

http://www.littlesparrow.org/

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

https://twitter.com/uklittlesparrow

Lisa Marini:

Charming and cheeky; vicarious and vibrant: Lisa Marini’s E.P. from the Bedroom Den is as colourful and alluring (as its cover).  Highlighting the sort of memorable songs (and stunning vocals) that makes careers- the only way is up (for Marini).  Buy her E.P.- and help fund her future creations- and experience an artist with a lot more to say; a special voice (and plenty of ambition)

https://www.facebook.com/marinimusic

https://lisamarini.bandcamp.com/

http://lisamarini.com/

https://twitter.com/LisaMariniMusic

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

Sarah Collins:

Having begun (her music life) covering sensational songs (in her own inimitable and stunning way); Sarah Collins has grown and burgeoned- she has assembled her own band; is getting airplay; embarking on tour dates.  Having gained fans and plaudits (throughout 2014), the scintillating singer has impetus and purpose: to bring her warmth, passion and power to the masses.  Seek out her (many) performances- and see what all the fuss is about.

https://www.facebook.com/sallycollinsmusic

https://soundcloud.com/sallyc

https://www.youtube.com/user/diddy5848

https://twitter.com/SazzleCollins

Universal Thee:

A band with a stellar reputation: one of the U.K.’s finest rising acts.  Drawing influence from the likes of Pixies; the husband and wife-led group are a force to be reckoned with.  Boasting catchy hooks; insatiable melodies; quotable lyrics- these lot have ammunition in spades.  Few new bands are as assured and confident (as Universal Thee)- expect this to pay dividends as we progress through 2015.

https://www.facebook.com/universalthee

http://www.reverbnation.com/universalthee

https://twitter.com/universalthee

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

https://soundcloud.com/universal-thee

Alison Levi:

I have always loved Miss. Levi’s cheek and charm; her humour and beauty; her wit and vitality: above all, it is her knee-trembling tones (that capture me most).  The stunning London-based artist is someone we should all keep an eye on.  With possible new releases and gigs afoot; plenty of fresh potential- we will all get to witness the young singer do her thing.   Follow Levi (on social media) to enjoy the witticisms, fun and adventure- and some bloody good music.

https://www.facebook.com/alisonlevimusic

http://www.alisonlevi.com/

https://twitter.com/alisonlevi

https://soundcloud.com/alisonlevi

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

Nina Schofield:

Schofield has worked her socks off (over the last year)- playing gigs all around the country.  Her brand of Pop has managed to catch the ear of multiple radio stations, venues and critics.  An effortlessly talented songwriter, Schofield’s natural warmth and strength shine (throughout her music).  With new fans and support behind her: surely this year will see her become a household name.

https://www.facebook.com/ninaschofieldmusic

http://www.ninaschofield.com/

https://twitter.com/nina_schofield

https://soundcloud.com/ninaschofield

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

Crystal Seagulls:

After a whirlwind 2014, the boys are embarking on fresh assaults: their music is ready-made for festival crowds and hungry music-lovers.  Anthemic and fist-pumping; subtle and tender, the band has a range and ability (few of their peers possess).  When a new album- or E.P.- drops, it will see the guys win over new supporters and patrons.  In a world of reality T.V. musicians and manufactured idols- this group is the kick in the teeth (that makes you smile).

https://www.facebook.com/CrystalSeagulls

http://crystalseagulls.com/

https://twitter.com/crystalseagulls

https://www.youtube.com/user/CrystalSeagulls/feed

https://soundcloud.com/crystalseagulls

Lydia Baylis:

We are pretty much spoiled for choice when it comes to female solo artists- few manage to resonate (and stick in the consciousness).  Baylis is that rarest of things: a musician that manages to tick all of the boxes.  Humble and intelligent; talented and beautiful; prolific and inspiring: her music crosses boundaries; unites fans of (multiple genres).  Check out (Lydia’s) SoundCloud channel- and witness some very impresses footsteps.  Few are more excited (than me) to hear new material: it is sure to be very special indeed.

https://www.facebook.com/lydiabaylis

http://www.lydiabaylis.com/

https://twitter.com/lydiabaylis

https://soundcloud.com/lydiabaylis

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

The Bedroom Hour:

You may notice- that few of my recommendations- feature bands: this London clan is impossible to forget.  Containing essences of Elbow and Doves, the boys are in no shortage of wonder: their body of work is solid and remarkable.  With an album- and several releases- behind them, the group has amassed a dedicated fan-base.  Few bands are as primed for the big-time as The Bedroom Hour- their time as Reading and Leeds headliners cannot be far away.

https://www.facebook.com/thebedroomhour

http://www.thebedroomhour.com/

https://twitter.com/thebedroomhour

https://soundcloud.com/thebedroomhour

https://www.youtube.com/user/thebedroomhour?feature=watch