Track Review: St. Paul and the Broken Bones- Call Me





St. Paul and the Broken Bones


Call Me



The single, Call Me is available from:

The album, Half The City is released by Single Lock Records, and available via:


These Alabama soul-revivalists proved a sensation when they played SXSW. With Janeway’s captivating and riotous belt (and a cornucopia of electricity on offer) at the fore, the seven-piece are on a mission: to overwhelm and awe.


I have reviewed a fair few American acts over the past couple of years…

each with their own style and background. Most of my reconnaissances revolve around U.K. acts and artists; I find myself often yearning for some international flavours- to provide some diversity. A lot of my time is spent promoting new artists and songs; featuring L.P.s and E.P.s by fresh talent- each of whom are starting out in the music world. As keen as I am to foster British-based newbies, I always love dipping my foot into foreign waters; seeing what is available in other parts of the world- and seeing what is out there. Recently, I have been reviewing quite a few Rock and Pop acts (and artists whom cross-pollinate these genres); always impressed by the fervency and urgency of their music. Artists such as Gypsyfingers and Echo Arcadia have provided me escape; an opportunity to experience something new and different; take in the ambitions of distinct and disparate young acts- and see what direction new British music is taking. I feel that our future will be a bright one, as I have seen enough mobility, ambition and quality out there, which leads me to believe that plenty of bona fide stars-in-the-making are waiting to rise up. When I recently surveyed Arizona’s band of brothers Kongos, I was impressed by their joyousness, rambunctiousness and abandon: music was offered up that provided excitement and good times. Each American act I have come across has managed to elicit a reaction in me; stir up a particular emotion or feeling- and leave me a little stunned. Music here (in the U.K.) can be exhilarating and potent, yet I feel that there are a lot of acts doing the same thing; that the sounds are designed to impress or seduce- yet few take the trouble to try to take your breath. Of course, there are some exceptions, but the abiding feeling I am left with, is that we need more exhilaration; a wave of musicians who- through Soulful screams or Rock majesty- can not only leave you a sweaty mess, but also offer a striking sound into the bargain. Although I hear of fewer U.S. acts, when I do happen upon them, they seem to innately fulfil the points I laid out; offer up something genuinely mesmeric and different. A while back, I discovered L.A.’s The Open Feel, and was blown away by their sunshine brand of music; both sexy and breathy; hard and vibrant. New York bands have come under my radar, and have shown themselves to be purveyors of awe-inspiring sound. I have often theorised that, depending on where you are brought up, enforces your music. In the U.K., I have investigated quite a few Yorkshire-based acts; those whom seem to be providing the most diversity and potential at the moment. Electro-Swing and Folk mixes alongside ’60s Pop and boy-girl duos; riot and pummel seamlessly nestle with shimmering and romantic. It is a county that is showing the rest of Britain how it is done. In London (away from the mainstream) I tend to find that most bands are Rock-orientated. There are fewer examples of diversity amongst the bands, yet the best and brightest here are in serious danger of being ranked alongside the modern greats. Down in the coastal regions of the south, something sunnier and more elliptical lives; music that provides brightness where there is rain- it is largely light and breezy, but hugely likeable. Elsewhere, there is plenty of diversity and range; yet when it comes down to it, the U.S. seems to be leading a charge. Perhaps it is due to the sheer size of the nation, but it is staggering how the sound and nature of music changes, depending on which state you visit. Midwestern states such as Ohio, Michigan and Iowa have plenty of harder-edged bands and acts; those I have reviewed tend to play their sounds on the louder side; mixing Punk and Rock elements with of-the-moment rush. New York and the East Coast locales such as New Jersey and Washington, D.C. again provide some more forceful sounds, yet there is a huge amount of diversity too. When I listen to the music of Georgia and Mississippi, I have heard plenty of Soul, Blues and Jazz acts; each with a very distinct and different coda and projection. Nestled between these two states is Alabama- where today’s subjects hail. I shall introduce you to them soon, but before I do, I will offer an addendum. As much as the above is a laudatory statement; I feel that it can used to amend Britain’s music constitution; with a few tweaks and inclusions, our music scene can be bolstered and galvanised. The fact that the U.S. has a greater width and breadth of music is not due to land size, financial considerations- or even talent per se. There is a boldness and adventurousness being encouraged not only by the media, but the music-buying public there. A great deal of media attention here revolves around mainstream acts and certain types of music. Our new acts- in an attempt to fit into moulds- often mould themselves into what they think critics want to hear- rather than who they really are. I would love to hear some great Soul bands and acts; more Punk purveyors and Country-tinged artists. I feel there is a general fear amongst new musicians; bands often stick with a particular sound, as do solo artists- only occasionally do you get examples who buck the trend radically. As great as our best and brightest new musicians are, it would be great to hear and see more willing to follow in their footsteps; those prepared to keep their identity yet think outside of the envelope. Many may argue against my points and claim that we have plenty of music that provides this, but I get the sense that American music is a lot more carefree; less concerned with critical expectation, and as a result, bolder and more diverse. My focal point today is a seven-piece outfit whom are causing waves in their native land; providing something startling to eager audiences- and marking themselves out as one of the world’s great ‘soul revivalist’ acts. Without further hesitation, I shall get down to business.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones are, I am imagining, an act you may be unfamiliar with. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, it is perhaps invariable that they have been compared with their fellow Alabamians, Alabama Shakes. There is a similar forcefulness and sense of wonder between the acts, yet plenty of difference too. Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard is one of the most electrifying and formidable female voices in music; her tones turn the band’s motifs into something otherworldly and overwhelming. St. Paul’s lead, Paul Janeway, is a comparable force of nature; lacerating, tenderly and pugnaciously wrestling with the Birmingham outfit’s songs of love, lust and R ‘n’ B/Motown blends. Before I get into dissecting our intrepid crew, its members consist:

Paul Janeway– Lead Vocals

Jesse Phillips– Bass

Andrew Lee– Drums, Percussion

Allen Branstetter– Trumpet

Browan Lollar– Guitars, Vocals

Ben Griner– Trombone, Tuba

Al Gamble– Organ, Piano

U.S. critics and media sources have been excitedly testifying to the wonders and strengths of the Alabama group. Hot of the heals of their album, Half A City, a huge amount of kudos and paen. I hope that Britain fully latches onto the band’s unique shades, as the majority of their fan base is located in the U.S. Across social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter their numbers are rising, and it appears that the boys have an exciting and prosperous future ahead of them. When looking at St. Paul and the Broken Bones, you realise what an intriguing and fascinating back story the group has had; it is worthy of a Hollywood film in itself. The seven-piece sum it up best themselves: “Grit, elemental rhythm, tight-as-a-drumhead playing, and a profound depth of feeling: these are the promises of a great soul band. And St. Paul & The Broken Bones deliver on those promises. Half The City is the compelling full-length Single Lock/Thirty Tigers debut of the Birmingham, Alabama-based sextet, who have already created a maelstrom of interest with their roof-raising live shows and self-released four-song 2012 EP. Produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes, and recorded and mixed in the storied R&B mecca of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the album harkens back to the region’s classic soul roots while extending the form with electrifying potency. Front man Paul Janeway’s handle “St. Paul” is a wry allusion to the vocalist’s grounding in the church. Like many a legendary soul singer, Janeway, a native of the small town of Chelsea, Alabama, was raised on the gospel side, in a non-denominational, Pentecostal-leaning local church. Virtually no non-religious music could be heard in his devout household. Janeway says, “The only secular music that I heard at all was a ‘70s group called the Stylistics, and Sam Cooke. That was about it. The rest of it was all gospel music. When I was about 10 years old, I was groomed to be a minister. My goal in life until I was about 18 years old was to be a preacher.” He adds, “My pastor was the reason that I learned to play guitar. They would let me play guitar and sing in church. What was weird was that he would never let me sing lead – I’d sing background vocals. I always thought, ‘Well, maybe I’m just a good background vocalist.’ So I never thought I could really, really sing, at all. I never thought it would be a living, ever.” Though his time in the church exposed Janeway to key influences in gospel music – the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Alex Bradford, Clay Evans – he began moving away from his youthful path in his late teens. He began attending open mic nights in Birmingham’s clubs and diversified his listening, excited by some decidedly left-of-center talents. “Tom Waits and Nick Cave were the really big attractions,” he says. “They have that passion. They’ve built this aura. They’re showmen to the teeth. And that’s what got me – it’s like going to church, in a weird way. At about the same time, I began listening to the great soul singers like Otis Redding, James Carr, and O.V. Wright. I was trying to find something that made my earbuds tingle.” Seeking his musical comfort zone, Janeway had an incongruous stint in a band that played Led Zeppelin covers, but, he confesses today, “That’s not what I do.” However, his early work in the rock vein brought him together with bassist Jesse Phillips. The pair became close friends and were soon writing together; “Sugar Dyed,” “Broken Bones and Pocket Change,” and “That Glow,” all heard on Half The City, were among the first fruits of their collaboration. The other members of the Broken Bones are all drawn from Alabama’s deep talent pool. Guitarist Browan Lollar, from the Muscle Shoals area about 100 miles north of Birmingham, previously played with Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit. “We never thought Browan would ever be interested in this band – he was too big-time for us,” says Janeway. “Jesse had met him while he was on tour with another band out of Birmingham. He asked Browan to come to the studio, and he showed up. I think we caught him at the right time. He wasn’t busy, and he said, ‘Man, I really want to be a part of this.’” Jasper, Alabama, native Andrew Lee signed on via his acquaintance with Phillips. “We just picked him up on the way to the studio,” Janeway recalls. “Jesse said, ‘I know this guy, why don’t I just call him.’ And 30 minutes later, he’s sitting there playing drums on ‘Sugar Dyed.’ Andrew’s just a hell of a drummer.” Brass players Allen Bransetter and Ben Griner are both graduates of the music program at Birmingham’s Samford University. Janeway says his vision of the band always called for a two-man horn section, a la the celebrated Memphis Horns, and he approached Griner, although the latter’s main instrument was tuba. “I told Ben, ‘Man, I’ve got to have horns. Do you think you can play trombone?’ He said, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’ And he brought Allen with him.” All six members share writing credit on 10 of the songs on Half The City, with Janeway contributing lyrics. “We firmly believe in a shared, communal writing process,” the singer says. “These guys are extremely talented. The drummer wrote horn parts. Browan threw something in. It’s very collective. We just get in a room. Sometimes we’ll have the scales for a song, or sometimes we’ll have this little riff. That’s how we do it.” In Tanner — who logged time at Muscle Shoals’ aptly named FAME Studios, where scores of memorable soul records were cut — St. Paul and the Broken Bones found a like-minded producer and label boss. Half The City is among the first releases on Single Lock Records, the imprint co-founded by Tanner, John Paul White of the Civil Wars, and Will Trapp. “When we started getting cranked up and nobody really knew who the hell we were, we got Ben to mix our original four-song EP,” says Janeway. “We just hit it off. He said, ‘Hey, guys, I’m in the process of starting this label. Obviously you can say no, but we’d love for you to be a part of it.’ And we said, ‘Hell, yeah.’” Reaching back nearly 50 years to methods employed the great epoch of deep Southern soul, Tanner and the group eschewed studio trickery for an in-the-moment approach during sessions at the Nutthouse in Muscle Shoals, AL. Fittingly, the album was mixed at FAME. Janeway explains, “We said, ‘We’re doing this as old-school as we can.’ We did it to tape. We did it live. What you hear is taken from about three takes, and we took the best take. I love it. It’s raw. You hear all the scrapes.” Special guests include Al Gamble on piano, organ and wurlitzer, Daniel Stoddard on pedal steel, Jamie Harper on baritone sax and Tanner on piano, organ and background vocals“.

We do not hear many- if any- similar acts in the U.K., and I was delighted to come across St. Paul and the Broken Bones. The guys have been on the scene for a little while now, yet their Half The City L.P. is a fresh unveiling; it has inflamed and seduced U.S. critics, and reception and feedback has been hugely positive and effusive. Given the voice that Janeway offers up, tied together with his cohort’s energizing and wonderful sonic support, it is unsurprising that a certain sense of tumescent patronage has been paid. Critics have all been eager to lend their opinions and tributes, to a truly unique and ambitious band:

“…[singer Paul Janeway) didn’t knock it back even a notch, crooning and hollering, collapsing to ground like a white James Brown sans cape, dousing himself with water and exuding more mojo than I thought a man in a blazer and bow-tie was capable of.”

Sam George, You hear This?/Weld

Packed full of soul with that hint of Southern charm…”

The South Rail Music Blog

With their album still ringing in the ears, American audiences have been keen to investigate the boys in the flesh; our heroes have an itinerant and jam-packed schedule in front of them; taking Half The City‘s multifarious gems as far and wide as possible. I have investigate the album in its entirety, and was amazed by the conviction and pace that runs through it. A sheer sense of exhilaration and passion runs through the entire L.P., and the amount of ground cover (across the twelve tracks) is startling. Tender romance and sweat-dripping passion rub shoulders, as do moments of introspection and reflection. When chosing a perfection representation of the album’s merit, I selected Call Me. It is a single which has been in the ether for a while, and a track that has been marked out as the album’s highlight. Recently Jo Whiley extolled the track’s virtues (on Twitter); introducing it to British audiences- and ensuring that the band gained new followers in the process. A lot of U.K. critics seem to be in self-exile in their neglect and naivety, because I have only seen one publication (here) surmise the group- I will mention them in the conclusion. With its video gaining plenty of YouTube love (a rarity considering it seems to be a natural home for trolls and back-biters); Call Me is the sound of a pioneering and purposeful seven-piece, with lofty ambitions of regency and longevity.


Attribiliousness is given no quarter, here. From the first seconds, horns burst and pervade against a plinking guitar line. At first, it is quite tender and composed; delicate strings and emotive brass do their work, before the song is opened up and strikes. With its Motown-flavoured sounds, there is an energy whipped up that not only gets you to your feet, but puts you in mind of some of the late, greats- Otis Redding came to mind, initially. Janeway, however, is his own man, and with a powerful and crackling soul tone, he lays bare his emotions. Early words talk of realisations and emotional ground; with some ambiguity and mystery laid in, cards are being kept close to chests: “This ain’t the heartache/That I thought I knew/This ain’t the party/That I thought we do“. The band aptly and deftly support out hero, eliciting a smooth, sexy and powerful composition, that blends their components together. Percussion is steady but driving; guitar and bass is uplifting (and funky, somehow); in the midst of brass notes which swirl and sway. In the video for the song (see the YouTube link at the top of the review), our hero stands by the mic., side-stepping and arm-waving. Entranced by the rhythm (and perhaps his own voice) the band play around him- the boys never let the smile drop. Whether the song is surveying a broken relationship or is a calling card to a desired sweetheart, I am unsure, but you get some oblique- yet evocative- images and words summoned up; everything is pure but filthy; direct yet withdrawn. Sentiments such as “You got your limit/Baby I got mine/Six Eleven/Three Three Six Nine” perhaps have a lot more sweat than sweetness; our hero roars and powers through each line, ensuring that it fully hits home. It seems that there is some resistance around town; that some tongues are talking- causing ruction and anger in Janeway’s mind. Leonine of voice, evisceration and laceration are words that come to mind; truths are being laid down, and a weight is exorcised from his soul. When singing “We aint the lovers/That’ll tear you down/We aint the fortune /All over town” there is as much conviction here as anywhere; the ‘bama boys weave a springing, emotive and soulful storm. Without seeing Janeway, you may imagine a black soul legend; someone who resembled Redding or Sam Cooke, perhaps. It is quite surprising to see our hero and realise whom is singing the words. You would not expect that voice to emanate from him; the sense of being stunned and surprised are facets which never let up- from start to finish. We have our soulful voices from the likes of Paolo Nutini, and he especially, is one of the biggest voices in the world right now. When I listened to Nutini’s song Iron Sky, I was impressed and overcome by the raw emotion that poured forth; how wracked and pained he sounded- you are drawn into his tableaux of love and suffocating forces. Similarly, when I hear Janeway holla, his voice carries that same weight; only this time the sentiments are more redemptive and lascivious. The composition steps up a gear during the next verse (“You got to call me baby/I need you to pick up that telephone/and dial those numbers honey“), the mood begins heavier and more exhilarating; our hero waits for that call; for his beau to ring and provide relief- the sexual tension and desire is palpable. In the same way that the likes of Otis Redding tore through and dominated numbers like Try a Little Tenderness, Janeway does likewise. Whilst he may need a few more years to scale to Redding’s heights, he is as close to a modern-day equivalent as we have. There is that same immense force and conviction; the same sort of heart and soul linger beneath. Similar, St. Paul and the Broken Bones keep a sense of innocence and purity to things- of course mingled with some salacious intentions. The ideas of picking up the telephone and dialling numbers have their heart in the ’60s; there is that sense of this being an up-to-date Motown hit; it has the same sort of songbook and skin to it. The temperature and enraptured fever starts to climb once more, as our hero becomes more impassioned and direct. When the words “Hey I need you to call me/I need to hear your sweet voice/Let me, let me, let me, let me hear you again“, the voice screams and strains; it bellows and belts- you can sense here is a man on the edge of his nerves, and on the precipice of salvation. There too, is that gospel feel to Hold On as well- not a shock considering Janeway’s upbringing- and our frontman is the pastor delivering a sexual sermon- a truth both irreligious and holy. In the video, our hero weaves and moves and body (at one point you expect him to drop to the floor and do The Worm); jiving and getting lost in the song. The composition levels down a bit; there is some scratchy and funked guitar and bass; the percussion becomes less enraptured. It offers some emotional respite and relax too, and has the feel of the storm passing- and the new day beginning. With some weeping and magisterial brass coming into the fray, the sedate mood does not last long. Our hero is still in pining mode; desperate for satisfaction and sexual redemption. Again, some smoky embers of Redding nudge their way in; the band parabond and combine beautifully, summoning up a coda that implores you to dance and move your body. Foreshadowing the most intense and gravelled vocal delivery I have heard all year (outside or Iron Sky), our hero lays down the law: “I need, I need you/I need I need you baby/I need I need I need I need I need you baby/I need I need I need I need I need you baby/I got to get you to pick up that telephone“. With the song nearing its end, our hero makes one last impassioned plea- “You got your limit/Baby I got mine/Six Eleven/Three Three Six Nine“. With his voice and body worked up into a frenzy, Janeway advises: “Call the doctor/Call the nurse“, he is become demonic with lust and anticipation. The words and music end, as the sweat glistens on the floor; our crew have done their work, and it is down to the anonymous sweetheart, as to how things proceed. You get the impression from witnessing the band play, that they have their roots in Motown, Stax and Gospel music; that the heroic likes of Redding, Cooke and (Marvin) Gaye mean as much to them as anyone currently on the scene. Janeway’s voice is laced and instilled with genuine soul and credibility; he could one day rank alongside the all-time greats- yet he has his own unique voice and personality. The band themselves are constantly compelling and tight; able to update ’60s and ’70s soul themes and make them sound fresh and urgent. The inclusion and incorporation of brass adds weight and sensual lustre to their composition; the percussion and bass keep the pace controlled but add force majeure; the guitar work is authoritative, funky and filled with coolness and swagger. Overall, the track is a perfect distillation of myriad genres and time periods, funnelled through a band whom have a fond affection for the past- yet are on cusp of modern music. In the same way as our own Nutini can entrance with his voice and let his compositions overwhelm you, so too can Birmingham’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Until yesterday I had not heard of the band, and am glad that I have been introduced to their music. Part of the joy (as well as sorrow) of my ‘job’ is coming across bands you would not usually investigate; or else not usually know about. I will not only continue to listen to our heroes and drink in as much of their music as possible, but am compelled to understand about Janeway’s voice; how he makes it happen and where it came from. It is the instrument that symbolises the emotion and power that are present in all of the group’s songs; and is the perfect blend of vintage Soul and modern-day sounds.

I have waxed lyrical about Birmingham’s finest soul revivalists, and their magic blend of music. As much as I adore native acts, it is always great to hear what our transatlantic cousins have up their sleeves. With the likes of Kongos in my thoughts, it is hardly surprising that another American act have burrowed their way into my soul. I was staggered by Janeway’s weaving and powerhouse voice; the band are a kinship of tight and wonderful sounds; myriad emotions and movements- surmounted and emphasised across their album. Reception for Half The City has been glowing indeed:

Hailing from Alabama’s suddenly exemplary music scene, the horn-fueled Broken Bones don’t re-create one funky groove after another. They make them sound more like the truth than any band since the Seventies. That musicianship carries Janeway and crew far, songs including “Like a Mighty River” and “The Glow” evoking Redding and Al Green. Throughout, there’s a sense that the band lives to let it all hang out – beg, scream, and shout. Alabama Shakes’ Ben Tanner sat in the producer’s chair, while recording and mixing were done in Muscle Shoals. Half the City, bona fide all around“.

The Austin Chronicle

With such a powerful debut, St Paul & the Broken Bones may struggle to live up to the hype they’re cooking. We can’t wait to see what’s to come from them in the future, but in the meantime we’ll take what they’ve got with a heartfelt hallelujah!

Cairo 360

St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ music doesn’t just mimic the sounds its members love; it regenerates the tradition. This is what happens when players are unusually in tune with each other and with the discoveries they’re sharing. Half the City is the first major recorded statement from a band already growing into greatness. Get it now, while the sweat’s still fresh“.

N.P.R. Music

“…That said, Paul’s voice (the real star in this band) pairs so perfectly with Allen Branstetter and Ben Griner’s understated but inignorable horn section that you pretty much have to be an asshole not to fall in love with this band inside of 3 songs. They’ve pretty much taken what the Alabama Shakes are trying to do and perfected it. Perfected. I did not misuse that word and it’s everything I envision Essential Listening to be“.

Ultimately, Half the City is a captivating, exceptional soul album. In a day and age where authenticity is questioned, St. Paul and the Broken Bones smash any doubts. Half the City is not an innovative affair, but given its retro-tinge, it doesn’t need to be. By all means, the goal of keeping “soul” alive and flourishing is easily accomplished here“.


There is a gospel feel to the music which is to be expected and two songs bring religion to the forefront. A loving couple following the lord and building a life together details “Let It Be So” while “It’s Midnight” is an emotional song about a mother pleading to her son to find god and all will be well. Both songs get into your head possessing the ability to make you think about your own life… There is not a single lull in the album and when it starts playing you will pray it never ends. SP&BB have captured the essence of their live shows in Half The City which is part of the charm. The emotion, the fine tuned soulful music, the Muscle Shoals flavor and influence of producer Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) is the rest of what makes it so damn good. This is the best record I have listened to this year and with ten months to go I find it hard that anyone will out do it“.

They leave enough grit on his playing and the music overall to lend some real edge to the music. Like great soul and R&B albums of yesterday, you simply press play on Half The City and walk away. This album isn’t about a couple of songs standing out. It isn’t meant to be carved up on to mixes. Fire this up and let it take you a different place“.

Hear Ya

There is no hyperbole or ingenuous proffering; it seems that the seven-piece have captured the attentions of the U.S. media. When it comes to U.K. reviews, there has been a sparisty- thus far. I can pay testament to just how great their album is, and it would be remiss to compare the group to Alabama Shakes. Our heroes have a different sound and set of songs; the fact that they share huge central voices and hail from Alabama is where the similarities end. When it comes to The Guardian (and its critic Paul Lester), I have often found myself in agreement. However, when he introduced St. Paul and the Broken Bands (as part of his ‘new band of the day’ feature), he missed the point entirely: “… They also sound mightily like other soul revivalists past and present, US and UK, from the Commitments to Fitz and the Tantrums. You will either be old enough to warmly appreciate their fidelity to the soul pioneers from Otis Redding onwards, be young enough not to care about history and adore their R&B (’60s variety) energy, or just dismiss them as karaoke copycats merely offering a Stars In Their Eyes version of the all-time greats“. He is entitled to his opinions, but, to me, they come across at the tired ramblings of a middle-aged curmudgeon. Aghast to truly cherish and augment any new act, Lester has forged a career from half-assed sentiments and praise: a sad reflection of a great sector of the media in general. That said, our heroes are playing dates in Dorset at the end of August; if anyone is able to get down and see them, I would strongly recommend it. Their live performances have been talked about in ecstatic whispers, and it offers the chance for fans to witness the songs in their barenaked and more electrifying form. My opening thesis concerned the U.K., and our lack of true diversity and bravery. Critics such as Lester are probably not helping when it comes to overturning and rectifying this trend, so it may take a bit of time to buck the negativity. My recent reviews have featured acts whom are ambitious and diverse, and offer up a semblance of the U.S.’s musical drive. It would great to think that the momentum can continue fervently, yet it seems that there is still a degree of stigma and reticence prescient. Our Alabama heroes are the kind of act that we should not only be fostering, but taking inspiration from. We do not have the landscape and evangelicalism over here, but that is not to say that it will be impossible to appropriate a similar sense of rousing Soul. A lot of our bands are still too reliant on the guitar-bass-drum configuration; few are willing to break these rigid structures and expand their horizons. With a paucity of acts and new artists setting the scene ablaze, it is always exciting to hear acts such as St. Paul and the Broken Bones. They may play the kind of music that is rare to your stereo; a genre that you may not necessarily seek out, but I would implore you to seek them out. Perhaps they don’t have the power to convert those infatuated with Metal or Punk, but realistically they will be able to draw in a whole host of diverse music-lovers. If you only investigate one of their tracks, I would recommend Call Me wholeheartedly. It is the encapsulation of a group that are setting tongues a-wagging; the sound of a septet with a unique voice- one that demands your attention. It is- where I am not- cloudy and somewhat dour; an injection of endorphins and sunshine is needed; a kick up the proverbial bottom. For all moods, needs and occasions, when it comes to uplifting music:

YOU will be hard-pressed to find a more impressive act.


Half The City Track Listing:


I’m Torn Up

Don’t Mind a Thing

Call Me

Like a Mighty River

That Glow

Broken Bones and Pocket Change

Sugar Dyed

Half The City

Grass Is Greener

Let It Be So

Dixie Rothko

It’s Midnight


Standout Track: Call Me.


For more videos of St. Paul and the Broken Bones:


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Track Review: Ruby Macintosh- Lady Killer.





Ruby Macintosh

Ruby Macintosh 

Lady Killer



The song, Lady Killer is available from:

The album, Ruby Macintosh is available via:


From a county which is offering up some of music’s biggest treasures, Macintosh’s ’40s-’50s-influenced music provides originality and glamorous lustre. Her debut L.P. marks her out as one of new music’s most exciting talents.


SOMETHING has been missing from music as-of-late, it seems.

Well, probably a few things are missing. It has been a while since I reviewed Yorkshire-based artist Little Violet. Last March I surveyed her tracks Don’t Stop and Shut Up; not only surprised by the vibrancy and quality of the tracks on offer- but how different they sounded. Up until that point, most of my reviews concerned bands and Rock acts; each of whom were brilliant- but tended to sound a little too samey. Compared with Little Violet, they sounded damn right homogenised; missing the sparkle and kick that made her music so revealing and awe-inspiring. A lot of modern acts tend to project modern sounds and reflect the sound of modern-day life. Obviously, various artists take influence from other acts and time periods, but you find few artists whom have their (musical) heart and soul lodged in a bygone era. Little Violet’s music invokes the spirit and jive of ’40s and ’50s Swing music. Giving it a retro shine and updated sound, her mandates are awash with the sights, sensations and sonics of the time- parping brass, twanging double bass and a whole lot of merriment. When I listen to a track such as Don’t Stop, it is as is the kind of song you could imagine The Andrews Sisters recording. Cherrie Gears’ (the lady behind Little Violet) voice drips with style, conviction and panache; the song has a rhythmic dance that one would move their feet to in a London ballroom during the Second World War. Our heroine herself is a stunning and gorgeous icon whom is one of the bravest musicians out there at the moment. I know of other acts whom are dipping into the annals of history (when creating their tracks), but they are in the minority. The reason that Little Violet got under my skin (and still does) is because her music is so different; it compels you to investigate the Swing-era; the tunes whip your feet into a frenzy; you cannot help but sing-along- how often can you say that about a new act? Contemporaries such as Caro Emerald are at the forefront of a wave of pioneers whom a daring to be different; Little Violet is amongst them for sure. The other facet that really appealed to me, was her aesthete and image. Her live performances are memorable and intimate, and she travels with a small band- bringing her brand of modern/Electro-Swing to hungry audiences. In her music videos, Little Violet looks the part of the 1940s heroine; the fashion and scenery is all authentic and as it should be. There is colour and flair to her music; an innate passion for music itself; a sense of adventurousness- her music is influencing more people than she may be aware of. One of the most disappointing things about new music, is the lack of endeavour and thoughtfulness, when it comes to the music. There are entire genres that have been relatively unexplored, such as Jazz, Doo-Wop and Blues, yet you hear few modern artists re-invigorating these styles of music. They should not be relegated to niche segments and audiences, and have a definite place in the mainstream. New music will thrive hardest when there is genetic diversity and variegation; if we hear Rock, Indie, Pop (and a few other genres) then stagnation and predictability occurs. You do not have to be a fully fledged copycat Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson or Ella Fitzgerald; you can incorporate a semblance of their artistry, update and reconfigure it appropriately- and then disseminate and distribute it to your audience. I just feel that there is not enough colour and innovation in new music; perhaps artists are too scared to embrace previous eras and artists- we need to be bolder. My featured artists has a long history ahead of her, and embodies a great deal of originality, classic evocations and vibrant sex appeal. I shall introduce her anon, yet will raise one more meeting subject. You may think that I have a bias towards Yorkshire (Little Violet’s Cherie Gears is based in Leeds); but there is a lot of bustling and eager music-making occurring here. Many a time I have mentioned Cuckoo Records, the Leeds-based record label. I shall not go into too much biography but they are representing some of the county’s brightest stars (including Little Violet). The likes of Annie Drury, Raglans (who hail from E.I.R.E.), Cissie Redwgick, Rose and the Howling North and Jonnythefirth have all been under my radar, and I am always staggered by the breadth and depth of their music. Detroit-flavoured Blues-Rock mingle alongside stadium Rock; there is so much on offer for all types of music-lover. Away from the Cuckoo nest, modernists Jen Armstrong and ISSIMO are flying the Yorkshire flag proudly. Some of the bigger cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and London are doing their bit for music, but for my money, they provide too few genuinely terrific acts. Perhaps there is too much media expectation; a lot of up-and-comers waiting to take centre stage, but I feel that there is not enough variation and ambition. I have reviewed acts such as The Castro’s, Crystal Seagulls and Bourbon Street Beat whom emanate from these areas, yet I am hearing little evidence to suggest that the larger cities will be providing great future-potential. Leeds is the best example of a city where its musical citizens are making waves; its environs and sister towns are playing host to new music’s biggest dreamers- those whom not only deserve future glory, but will go out and get it. I am always filled with admiration when it comes to a new act. The job of getting yourself ‘on the map’ is hard enough; getting people to listen to music at all can seem like an endless migraine- often artists capitulate before they have even begun. I have witnessed too many acts come through and fall at the first hurdle- I can always sympathise hugely when this happens. There is a veritable labyrinth of considerations (financial, personal and otherwise) the fledgling artist has to negotiate, so if you are able to overcome these- and obtain success- then full credit should be given. I have had to dig too deep and hard to unearth some really wonderful talent, and it is getting a bit tiresome. I know for a fact that some new music websites are coming through, taking on the burden of promoting the best out there; as much as anything, a lot of artists are having to work overtime (when they don’t need to)- it is worse for solo acts. Because major festivals and venues still place a premium on bands, the solo artist has their work cut out trying to get onto the radar. What has impressed me most by the (solo) artists I have reviewed, is their sheer determination. They are aware of the effort and persistence that is needed, and are headstrong and unfazed. My featured artist is someone whom has been working tirelessly to promote her music, and is deserving of a wider audience.

Ruby Macintosh is a talent I have been aware of for a little while now. Having reviewed various Yorkshire-based talents such as ISSIMO and Jen Armstrong, I was made aware of Macintosh’s name- and varied musical palette. Here is a young artist that- whilst being a definite pin-up and poster girl- is as hard-working and ambitious as they come. Our gorgeous heroine has been wowing and entertaining her home crowds for a long time now; she is someone whose name and talents will be made seeping into the mainstream before too long. On her Facebook page, Macintosh lists her interests, thus: “The glamour and fantasy of old film stars, the way I wish the world was in my head, sometimes real life, my family but mostly my songs are about myself or how I feel about someone else – aren’t all songs?“. There is a clear sense of vintage scenes, dreams and real-life heartaches that come through in her music. If you look at Macintosh, she has the look of a classic movie idol; her Vivien Leigh beauty, mixed with a vintage wardrobe stands her apart from the crowd. It is unusual (in 2014) to see someone whom has the look and feel of a ’40s/’50s movie star- you are fascinated before you ever hear her sing. The pathway to prominence has not been an entirely seemless and smooth. Our heroine has had to work hard to get to where she is now; she is working hard (as we speak) to ensure that as many people as possible are attuned to her brand of song- it is a tactic and determination that will pay dividends. Before I take you further into Macintosh’s mind and music, here is a short biography about our Yorkshire heroine: “Ruby Macintosh is a vivacious singer songwriter from Yorkshire inspired by music of the 50s and 60s. This retro pop siren with an air of nostalgia about her continues to captivate audiences up and down the country with her old school glamour and down to earth humor. Ruby studied at LIPA where she sang for Sir Paul McCartney, supported the Kooks at a secret gig and played at the Cavern for the prestigious Sound City festival in Liverpool. Since leaving university she has performed all over the country, from Catterick’s Help for Heroes party to London’s Vintage fashion fair. This songstress is now working as a full-time musician to promote her original music with the help of the Princes Trust. Since gaining support from the Princes Trust she has performed for HRH Prince Charles and recorded a self-titled debut album of original material. You can find the album on Itunes, on her website, at The Princes Trust Tomorrow Store in London and at her local record shop Wah Wah Records. The album has been featured on BBC Introducing Leeds with Alan Raw playing her original material, Ridings Fm as well as a few local internet radio stations. Currently, Ruby is being talked about the local press and is set to tour a myriad of independent venues and events, promoting herself and local live music to reach a larger audience. To see where is playing next, please see the ‘gigs’ page. For up-to the minute information about what she is doing you can join her Facebook ‘like’ page or follow her on twitter. Keep your peepers at the ready for tour dates coming soon near you“. One of the most impressive things about Macintosh is how she can project a genuine knowledge of the music from the ’50s and ’60s; update its sound and energy- wrapped around lyrics that are relevant and modern. It is the down-to-earth and girl-next-door quality that comes through when you hear the music. Our heroine is a musician whom is both striking yet approachable; vivacious yet sensitive- someone who can fit directly into the modern (mainstream) music scene. When looking at the interests of our heroine, she herself gives us some insight: “Dresses (obviously), glitter and shiny things, cake, Dr Who (David of course), dirty blues and jazz, musicians that make you melt a bit when they play, adventure, shoes that make me look like a normal height person, sunshine and clear water, my loved ones, my glue gun, not dropping my guitar, well-being, truth, warmer weather, touring the country in my VW camper van (that i don’t have yet.. feel free to buy me one), hope, wine and cheese, and many other things that aren’t important enough to list or i don’t know how to spell“. It may seem like I arriving late, with regards to her debut album (it was released last year), yet it is a collection that is deserving of attention and consideration. There are plenty of female solo acts working away at the moment, yet few whom have the same sound and identity as Macintosh. Reception for her debut L.P. was effusive and positive, and the local media were quick to highlight how confident and vivacious it was:

“…love child of Paloma Faith and Lily Allen, bringing fifties sex appeal to catchy and modern lyrics.”

“…talent that should be on everyone radar …”

David Pickersgill, Wakefield Express

What a debut!!! I can’t believe this is a debut album! From start to finish the songs take you on a wonderful journey of love and heartache and cherry pie’s! All set in a wonderful fifties setting. Then all the way through, this edge starts to build – it starts in Hey There Cutie.. a real attitude! Then again in I Don’t Miss A Trick and it just hits you in the ears by the time you get to Lady Killer!! What an album. highly recommended piece of work from a lady who is going to wonderous places!! Good luck to you Ruby!! Fantastic! A masterpiece!”

Tim Hearson, iTunes reviewer

Yorkshire’s Sweetheart

Bangtidy Burlesque

Macintosh has vibed and fed off of the positive feedback- as well as support from fans and friends- and I hope it is momentum that will compel her to record some new music very soon. There are not too many new acts whom expend a lot of consideration and time with regards to their online profile and web page. Our heroine’s official site is about as striking and well-designed as they come, and your eye is instantly struck. ‘Colour’, ‘vibrancy’ and ‘style’ are the first words that come to mind; everything is clearly laid out and beautifully presented. The music from Macintosh- which I shall investigate shortly- is compelling and layered, yet her background is equally impressive. Macintosh comes from a working-class background (in Yorkshire) and has fought hard to get where she has. Ten months ago, the Wakefield Express ran an article about Macintosh; one which went into detail about the hard times she has faced, and how determined she is: “The 26-year-old who has always wanted a music career, said the best thing she has ever done is turn to His Royal Highness’s charity, The Prince’s Trust for help. She said: “I was working 50 hours a week in a coffee shop and handed my notice in after getting a new job that would give me more time to concentrate on my music, but it fell through just before I was about to start“. After ringing her family in tears, it seemed as though future endeavours would be bleak and tumultuous. Macintosh has a quandary to face, and seemingly had only one option: “I decided to go busking. I made £200 in a day and it made me realise that music really was what I should be concentrating on.” Having contacted the Prince’s Trust, they put her on its Enterprise Programme- assisting her fulfil her music ambitions. Finances were made available, ensuring that Macintosh could buy equipment (to help record her album); something provided invaluable: “My family is poor, so there is no way we would have been able to pay.” This opportunity and largesse afforded our heroine the chance to bring songs to life; to ensure that the public got to heard music that had been in her mind for a long, long time. This turnaround not only inspired Macintosh to drive through with her music, but revitalised her as well: “I am so grateful to the charity – and this event will help raise money for other people who find themselves in the position I was in. I am a completely different person now to the one who picked up the phone. I’ve got my confidence back and have lots to look forward to“. I sat down to investigate the wonders, personal insights and scenic tableaux of Ruby Macintosh’s debut album; surprised and stunned by the quality, range of sounds and energy that runs through the eight tracks. When selecting a fitting representation, my mind was struck by Lady Killer: a track that highlights our heroine’s strengths; draws in all her inspirations- and shows what a talent she is.

Here is a track that has been marked out as a fan favourite; it is a number that has garnered a lot of attention. From the outset, it is a song that means business. Some vibrating and echoing guitars blend with our heroine’s voice which is instantly striking and purposeful. The mood is darker and more twilight here; not only marking a sonic and emotive shift, but showing another side to Macintosh. The subject of the song is shadowy and is a homme fatale. The streetlight is on, and the moonlight shining bright. With our hero “Standing outside/With your glass of red wine“, our heroine is beckoned in; tempted by a force that (she should stay away from) she is helpless to resist. There is an air of 1950s Jazz; you get the impression of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald coming through in Macintosh’s vocals- as well as the smoky and steamy composition. With her voice inflamed and overwhelmed, our heroine begs the question: “How do you do this to me?”. The song’s opening moments were calm and steady; they lead you into the night and tempt you forth. Her beau is tall and handsome, a man whom has the looks to lead our heroine astray. Macintosh’s voice is strong and determined, yet shows a vulnerable edge in this number; it trembles and quivers with emotion during some of the words. Backed by parpring and spritely brass, our heroine proclaims: “I don’t know if you’re lying or being true“. Our anti-hero is a poison apple; an arrow to Macintosh’s heart, and someone whom has cast his spell. Whether the central figure is based on a former sweetheart, or fictional, I am not sure; yet it seems that he is causing quite a stir. There is a great quiet-loud dynamic in the song. It bursts into life into the chorus, allowing the vocal and composition to explode; yet is soft and teasing int he verses. Our heroine explains that “You could have any girl to hold your hand“; extolling his aesthetic virtues, Macintosh is curious why she is being chosen; why he has this hold on her. There is conviction and emotion in the vocal performance; as the song progresses you get the sense that there may be some personal history and relevance to the lyrics. With a sense of capitulation, our heroine states: “I surrender myself at your feet“. Our man in the scene is throwing our heroine off her game; throwing her off her feet and seducing her truly. When brass mingles, melts and spars it adds the emotion and energy; emphasises the tension and sense of anticipation as well. There are questions in Macintosh’s mind, as she wonders “where is this going?”; if she is going to be adored and kept safe, or merely cast aside. The song’s energy and kick marries ’50s Jazz together with ’40s Swing, and will lodge inside your head. It would make for a great potential music video as well, and there are multiple angles and ideas that can be explored. Such is the nature of the song, that you are always rooting for our heroine, yet have a cheeky and guilty affection for the Lady Killer himself. Our heroine wants a romance for life; some security, but as she explains (with regards to our hero): “I couldn’t take you home to meet my parents“. Like previous numbers on the album, its heart and images are rooted in a past time; where there was some innocence and mystery to romance, yet there are plenty of modern touches and roots, too. When our heroine declares “I was a fool to think I could take you“, there is a sense that the battle may be over and there is no way back. The song evocatively projects images and scenes into your head. To my mind, events take place in the ’40s; in a smoky bar and with cigarette in his mouth, the hero never lets his gaze drop. Across the other side of the room, our heroine coquettishly averts her gaze; keen to not be caught in his web, she admits: “You’re such a charmer“. As the song comes into its final third, Macintosh realises that everything he says is a lie; she feels foolish for not realising it sooner, and is keen to become disentangled. The man is no more than a “cheap thriller“, and is bad news. It seems that there are just skin deep qualities; no soul underneath- just looks and (misdirected) charm. With the mood subdued and calmed down, our heroine confesses; “Lady Killer/My heart beats faster“. Elongated holding her words, she elicits a whoop; before the atmosphere bursts into life. With harmonica entering the fray and adding electricity and rush, a delicious Blues sound comes into view. Brass is still there in the mix, but it is the (electronic) harmonica which weaves and strikes; it dominates and gets under your skin. Perhaps the appropriate weapon of choice, it not only evocatively scores the mood, but also perfectly takes us into the final moments. With the lights down and the pace relaxed, our heroine is back on the mic. The song’s title is sung and teased once more; and with her voice quivering and overwrought (backed with one last blast of harmonica) the song reaches its conclusion.

On the evidence of Lady Killer alone, Ruby Macintosh is a name to watch closely. She has the stunning beauty and heart-melting looks to seduce, yet it is her music which sets her apart from her peers. As well as Lady Killer, I investigated the album as a whole, and was mesmerised by the confidence within. See You Later builds off of a dreaming brass sway; one which is both breezy and romantic. You get images of a ’40s heroine, walking down a black-and-white street. Our heroine wonders if love is a waste of time; with her voice sturdy and direct, we survey the break-up of a relationship; her man claiming: “It’s not you/It’s me“. With the offer of friendship, our heroine is let down gently; her beau offering excuses and platitudes- words and lines trip and dance their way into your brain. With a strong vocal performance and an impassioned and memorable composition, it is a solid opener which lays our Macintosh’s strengths- sharp and personal lyrics, tied with music which puts you in mind of the (female) Jazz greats; as well contemporaries such as Paloma Faith and Caro Emerald. I Don’t Miss A Trick is a skippier and more rampant number; our heroine directs her attention to an unnamed target- one whom has a “hidden agenda“. Someone whom offers “no-good cheating” is being read the riot act; scrutinised and dressed-down; against a striking sonic backdrop, Macintosh let’s her voice run riot; rising and punching- as well as having tender and sensitive moments. The subject matter is something that can be understood and relate to nearly everyone, and almost everybody can picture the type of person our heroine is singing about. With a composition that is subtle yet evocative, it is another song filled with conviction and passion- and completes a memorable duo of tracks. Dreamy and twinkling pianos score the musical recipe that is Cherry Pie. A “pinch of salt” as well as “some sugar” are thrown into the mix- Macintosh’s voice is teasing and striking throughout. The charming themes and lyrics are what hit hardest, and whilst our heroine is “similar on paper” to her target, she is not made “so simply“. Casting herself in the guise of a cherry pie, the song is a unique take on love, with our heroine sitting on the shelf- “waiting for you to take me home“. A punchy and pervading percussive thud, together with wordless vocals, open up Hey There Cutie. Our heroine asks her man “Why don’t we Jitterbug?”; her voice sounding far-off but empassioned- sounding quite like a classic Swing track. The chorus is problem one of the catchiest on the album, mixing cute wording with carefree romance, Macintosh wants her subject to “get off your booty“. The track is filled with great imagery; the song’s smile puts you right in the picture- once again you can imagine what is happening in each scene, and what our heroine sees. Some distorted vocals and skiffling strings give the track a sexiness and smoky allure- you can feel the lights dim and the intrigue build. Whereas the opening tracks have had their unique sounds and themes, Hey There Cutie is a chance for Macintosh to showcase her vocal range- as well as take us somewhere new and fascinating. Wild Horses is a beautiful and calming number; our heroine begins by stating that “Wild horses/Couldn’t keep me away from you“. If you are expecting a Rolling Stones cover, then think again. It is a touching and tender paen to a lover; a man that she can not keep away from and longs to be with. There is a unquenched sense of innocence and purity throughout, and it is a song with no hidden agenda or flaming ace- no sharp tongues are waiting to strike. The song boasts some of Macintosh’s most memorable and humorous lyrics. With alien invasions and vehicular strife, she states that- in spite of any obstacle- “I’d fly to wherever you might be“. It is a sort of transposed and re-inspired take on 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Instead of escape routes and sour love, our heroine is prepared to negotiate a plethora of hazards and natural disasters- so that she can get to her sweetheart. Once more, our heroine is up front; backed by a augmentative and playful composition, her voice is queen- you can hear the cheeky grin and sly wink in her delivery. A beautiful mid-way point, Wild Horses leaves the listener in a better mood; and keeps the album’s momentum going. Kicking feet and Swing-like sway put Will You Be Mine into the spotlight. Rolling and pattering percussion; mixed with brass give the song a lively and dancing swirl. Our heroine is in love-struck mood, looking out to her hero, and asking: “Will you take me out to dinner?”. Macintosh is fond of her beau, whomever he may be has clearly caught her eye (and heart). Wondering, “Will you take me to meet your mum?”, our Yorkshire girl is prepared to charm her man; take him out and show him a good time. There- once again- is no proclivity or seediness; vintage romance is the order here, and dignity and pure romance at the core. You cannot help but to be carried along in the song’s charm (it is becoming a byword for Macintosh), as well as get your feet moving. Starting life with soft and seductive acoustic guitar, Raspberry, Strawberry, Gooseberry Jam‘s first few seconds are a slight red herring: before long our heroine is in full voice. With a composition that is waltz-like and woozy, early words have an oblique quality, and sense of mystery: “I didn’t try very hard to fit in/I lost all of the game that we played“. There are childlike qualities to the words; cautions and fait accompli mingle alongside painted rails and future questions. Our heroine wonders what her life will be; “What will I do for a living?”- yet they are not issues that are weighing her mind down. The song is almost a nursery rhyme, a number that sees a carefree heroine smile: “Raspberry, Strawberry, Gooseberry Jam/Tell me the name of your young man“. With swooning brass and another set of charming and quotable lyrics, it is another strong and memorable track. Considered what a difficult time Macintosh had (getting her music career started), it is impressive and a huge relief that she has come through it. A lot of people would be deterred and scarred too much; afraid that they would not make it, yet our heroine (with the help of the Prince’s Trust) has succeeded in putting together an incredible debut album. The tracks are carefully considered and beautifully realised; our heroine’s voice is a striking facet that wins you over with every new track. For someone making her first in-roads into music, her songwriting is remarkably assured and well-structured. She is a skilled lyricist and storyteller, and mixes personal heartaches and set-backs, with positivity and tantalising slice-of-life scenes. Coming from a county that is showing itself to be at the forefront of modern music, Macintosh is one of the best Yorkshire has to offer. As well as an incredible sex appeal, an engaging and lovable personality, there is no air of woe-is-me to our heroine. If we were on a reality talent show, contestants (in her situation) would be milking it for all they are worth; prodding for sympathy at every turn. Our heroine has had a difficult trajectory, yet her music is what matters most, and she is determined to keep the momentum going. With her inaugural album a year old, I am sure there are going to be plans for a forthcoming E.P. or album. Our heroine is a busy and vibrant creative mind, and is someone who is intent on being a big future name. In many of my reviews I have seen artists arrive whose sound is ready-made for London; for U.S. audiences and European crowds. Macintosh’s vintage chic and modern-day mandates are a rare breed in the current scene, and I hope that her originality and intentions lead her to huge things. I can genuinely see her playing some huge venues in the future; if she comes to London I would love to see her perform. Her voice and music- to my ears- can be extrapolated and adapted for American audiences, and there is a huge gap that she can fill.  Similarly, her sound has European tones and qualities (Caro Emerald is one name that springs to mind), and countries such as Germany and France would welcome her with open arms. It is probably the least she deserves, as it is clear that music is paramount to Macintosh; the business of taking her music to as many people as possible, you sense, means more than anything else in life- it is a passion that shines through in her songs. It may have been a difficult last couple of years, but things seem to be on the up. There are record labels and venues whom could benefit from having Macintosh on their books and many people I know whom love her brand of song. Being from a working-class background- and having very little money to by name- I can emphasise and relate to our heroine’s plight. Whilst writing my songs, I am acutely aware at how much it will cost to get them recorded; every note and line has a pound value added to them- it can be a depressing realisation. I am sure that back in 2013 (and before) Macintosh was working all hours; writing music at the same time; wondering whether she would every be able to afford to record them. After losing her job, the idea of having a successful music career would have seemed non-existent. This year has seen our heroine earn some plaudits; play some great gigs and make her name known to more people- and there is still more work to do. The rest of this year (and 2015) will see her build upon that, and prepare her future. I started this review, by looking at a relatable case study: Little Violet. Signed to a notable and reputable Yorkshire label, she has a natural home that has allowed her to cement and build her career. I know that there are new songs afoot (for Little Violet), and her brand of Electro-Swing and evocations of the roaring ’40s have been in my mind for a long time now. Macintosh is a name that, not only could see herself snapped up by an eager label, but go onto bigger things. Those whom show themselves to be unique and different will always have a harder fight, yet will always earn greater rewards. I have reviewed many bands and acts this year whom are wholly individual, and I am seeing their stocks rise, and their names celebrated. I am sure that Macintosh has her feet firmly on the ground, but she should be thinking of the future. Our young heroine’s debut is a stunning collection of tracks that will appeal to music lovers of all genres; her music does not alienate or divide- it is universal and relatable. There are too many new musicians whom get undeserved credit, or else gain unwarranted acclaim- which always erks me. Too many are overlooked or undervalued, and if music is to grow and adapt, then we should be fostering talent such as Macintosh. It may be early days (with a lot more to come), but you can sense a young woman with a lot to say; she wants to get her music heard and remembered- and be on the scene many years from now. It is not often that I get excited by a solo talent to such an extend, but I am with Macintosh. If you are tired of some new acts and are looking for something that can not only inspire but make you smile, then do yourself a favour…

AND investigate one of the U.K.’s future stars.


Album Track Listing:

See You Later

I Don’t Miss A Trick

Cherry Pie

Hey There Cutie

Wild Horses

Will You Be Mine

Raspberry, Strawberry, Gooseberry Jam

Lady Killer

Ruby Macintosh BBC Radio Leeds 22 – 2012 – 1

Standout Track: Lady Killer.


Follow Ruby Macintosh:







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Album Review: Echo Arcadia- Beauty in an Average Life





Echo Arcadia

 Beauty in an Average Life

Beauty in an Average Life



The album, Beauty in an Average Life is available from:


Edinburgh six-piece offer “rock backbeats, grumbling guitars and catchy pop melodies“. Having been signed to a burgeoning U.S. label- and capturing the media’s attention in the process- everyone should embrace these ambitious band of brothers.


I have been thinking a lot about bands in general; what makes them so special…

and why certain acts succeed (where others fail). In previous reviews I have featured a whole range of different bands- located in various parts of the world. Whilst the sounds and ambitions can vary, there seems to be no logical reason why success (for the very best) is fleeting. Over the course of the last year, I have been lucky enough to survey a magnitude of endeavouring talents; from Yorkshire’s ISSIMO; Scotland’s Universal Thee; London’s Los and the Deadlines- through to Liverpool’s The Castro’s. And while there has been a degree of success for each of the aforementioned acts, I find that a necessary and appropriate sense of recognition has not been provided. In a lot of cases the bands are unsigned, and it seems baffling that record labels have not been knocking a path to their doors. I guess it is the nature and reality of the modern music scene in general- there are so many different acts, that it is implausible that all would receive appropriate attention. The theory can (of course) be extended to solo acts, but for my money, bands provide the most durable and marketable brand of music. Looking through my record collection (I am delightfully old-fashioned), the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, The National and Arcade Fire are recent purchases; historic bands like Blur, The Smiths and Oasis are part of my regular rotation. And whilst I have my favourite solo artists (such as Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley), my consciousness and attentions always navigate themselves to the music that bands make. Sales figures and trends seem to support my point (to an extent), as this market is the most flourishing and promising in the music world. Huge festivals such as Reading and Leeds put our best and brightest on display to the hungry public- all across the land wannabe musicians are forming groups, keen to emulate their heroes. In relation to my own desires and music, I have always felt that it is better (and easier) to be part of a band; rather than go it alone and take on all of the musical burden. I am filled with admiration for solo acts, as they possess a lot of bravery and determination, but I have always craved the comfort of warm bodies- and additional creative minds. As I pen my lyrics; work on potential cover versions; sculpt my material, I cast my eyes around music’s landscape. There is plenty of guiding light in the mainstream for sure, yet it is always more relatable and beneficial to seek out the finest that new music has to offer. To that end, I am slightly aghast at the disproportionate attention that some acts receive- whilst others have to struggle hard to grab focus. It is always great when a band manages to break through into the wider public arena; gets the just rewards that their music deserves (and obtains success and patronage)- I just feel that too many great examples are being overlooked. Whether certain regions of the U.K. (and the world) and under the media’s spotlight (whilst others are not) or if something else is causing this imbalance, I am not too sure, but is a troubling aberration. A few weeks ago, I was embroiled in a somewhat stimulating discussing with a fellow reviewer, as to how to ‘cure’ this miasma. She prophesied that- due to the sheer number of bands out there- it would be impossible to ensure that the most ambitious and worthy are given necessary credit. I countered, that if a website were to be formulated (essentially a social media website, but for music), then a potential remedy would present itself. Essentially, an all-encompassing website would be created, whereby every band in a particular region would be listed. If you wanted to find, say, a Metal band in Carlisle or a Pop act in Gravesend, you would click on the relevant area of the map. From there, you could then see every act that played in that area- broken down by location, genre etc. For that reason, it would not only be easier for the general public to investigate the best acts out there; but it would make it easier for record labels to find potential stars-in-the-making. A lot of times I have tried to seek out great Rock acts in London, but when I Google these terms, my search is somewhat fruitless (or limited). There are plenty out there- and many I would like to review- yet it is hard to locate them. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter do not help the problem, and need to find a way to commingle with the large search engines (and music media sites), and make it easier for new bands to get the exposure they deserve. Circling back to my original thesis; I find that there are a lot of bands being touted as ‘The Next Big Thing’ but in reality, they are being over-hyped. In the course of my reviewing duties I have stumbled upon a great clasp of brilliant bands, and- after happening upon many of them surreptitiously- I wonder why their majesties are being neglected. I know that the likes of Universal Thee and ISSIMO have been gigging hard and wide; saving as much money as possible (to realise their ambitions)- and I am sure that this determination will be rewarded. I am annoyed that too many great acts are falling through the cracks; many more are out there waiting for wider acclaim- seemingly considered extra-terrestrial by the world’s media. Music is the most beautiful, medicinal and augmentatiuve force on the planet, so it stands to (logical) reason that the most elliptical and stunning musicians should be nurtured. I have limited influence in my role (as a music reviewer), so it falls to social media; the most influential music media outlets- as well as established acts- to help buck the trend. I know this argument and issue will have to wait for another day (if we are to figure out an answer), but for now, I am just glad that I have been made aware of today’s subjects. My feature-ees are a brave and hard-working group whom are fully deserving of armies of fans; wide and considered media scrutiny- as well as festival bookings a-plenty! I am sure that due diligence will occur, and justice will be done, because they are a band whom offer up something genuinely different; music that is filled with texture, escape and brilliance- I better introduce them to you, then…

It has been a busy- and eventful- week or two for David Moyes. The (former) Manchester United manager is on the market, and reeling from the (almost inevitable) downfall that he has experienced. With United being reduced to a gibbering pile of football rubble; they are a quivering shadow of their former selves. Luckily, Echo Arcadia are led by the much more assured and talented, Leigh Moyes. Here is a Scot leading a prodigious and talented band, whose future is far from bleak. I will get down to some precise investigation of our intrepid sextet anon, but for now, I shall give you some biography (from their Facebook page): Echo Arcadia make sweet music out of Edinburgh, Scotland. Their unusual mix of gritty rock backbeats, grumbling guitars and catchy pop melodies have gained them a growing fanbase. The seven members’ eclectic influences marry to create a fresh alternative to the usual indie-pop/rock fare. Following the release of their inaugural ‘Broken Chapter’s EP in October 2010, the Arcadians have enjoyed an intensive period of gigging, also relishing opportunities to play acoustically, allowing them to hone their sound and take their music to a new audience. 6 months later, they recorded their first single, ‘Joker’, (made available for download in early March 2011) Edinburgh Spotlight had this to say about it: “Sparkling and freshly polished…the track uses layers of shimmering guitar and Leigh and Siobhan’s atmospheric vocal harmonies to create a multi-faceted little nugget of poppiness. All this builds up to a classic vocal refrain which we guarantee you will be singing in the shower, on the way to work, shopping at the supermarket and everywhere else until all your friends tell you to shut up (or until they get their own copy)”. The group was brought to my attention by James Russell (in a roundabout way); with Moyes being familiar with my reviews, he contacted Russell- and now I bring them to you. James Russell is the frontman (alongside wife Lisa) of one of Scotland’s most potent bands: Universal Thee. I am glad that Echo Arcadia have come under my radar, as they are one of the most promising (and underrated) groups on the scene at the moment- they are a perfect case study of the points I raised earlier. It seems that Edinburgh is playing host to some terrific and fervent bands; filled with range and quality. Universal Thee’s Back to Earth is one of the best albums I have reviewed this year, and I was excited to get down to reviewing Echo Arcadia’s latest work. Before I do, it is worth mentioning our six-piece, whom comprise:

Leigh Moyes – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar

Leo Burke – Lead Guitar, Vocals

Euan Mushet – Bass

Dan Ciesielski – Drums

Pete Nicholson – Keys, Vocals

Andrew Gray – Violin, Vocals

It is not surprise that Spectra Records snapped up our heroes, as their music is a rare beast: that which can seduce with its beauty and enliven with its power. When sourcing their influences, Echo Arcadia include the likes of Influences: Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, Death Cab for Cutie, David Bowie, The National, Broken Records; The Smiths, The Cure, The Killers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Vampire Weekend, Pink Floyd and Air. Elements and threads of these (disparate and wonderful) acts come through in various tracks; yet the abiding flair is of an original band whom are hell-bent on long-term regard- and festival headline spots. It is a shock to me that the Edinburgh men remained a mystery to record labels for so long; but with the backing of an important and influential label, our heroes have the options of playing far and wide- a possible future/long stay in the U.S. is a distinct possibility. With hints of The National to their aesthete, the American audiences (as well as us here) will soon be clasping Echo Arcadia to their bosoms- there is a big, wide world out there for them. The band merge darker and more introspective lyrics, with shimmering and beautiful compositions; the results have hit critics hard. In a recent blog post (on the band’s official website), Moyes explained why the band tend to write about ‘darker’ themes: “Life always finds a way to balance out, no matter how hard you push one way, something will always find a way to create that equilibrium again. I don’t see this as dark, but more as a way of addressing that balance, we are less scared of the dark room once we know there is nothing in there to fear“. Our frontman is no Nick Drake; he is offering glimpses of something frightening, to- as he explains- take the fear and stigma out of it. Too many bands are aimless cheerful or banal with their lyrics; Echo Arcadia’s songbooks are filled with texture, memorable lines and deep thought. Their music is lush and effusive; seductive and impassioned, and it is this varied and multifarious canvas that has captured so many minds- and hearts as well. Mix in some grit and harder edges to the templates and you have a band whom are more varied and compelling that the majority of their contemporaries. The band’s wide range of influences was showcased in their Broken Chapters E.P. Critical palpitations and waves of sighing adulation followed the release of the 2010 release, and our heroes have been performing solidly ever since- taking their music to as many people as possible. Expectations were (as you’d expect) high, when Beauty in an Average Life was unveiled. It allowed our Scottish wonders chance to fully spread their wings; expand their potential and sound across ten tracks- and build on the success and brilliance of their E.P. Take a look at the selection of reviews below, and you can tell how critics feel about the album; it is something that has not only resonated with the press, but seduced them in the process:

Overall, this is a very fascinating shapshot of a band from the UK. It was an absolute pleasure to get into the mindset of these European visionaries and listen to what they were trying to tell the world. Some pieces will hold a place in my fascinating/dark play list  when I really need it. The best thing about this band is how well they bring together all the flavors of many different styles and genres, all the while making all of these songs their own. Echo Arcadia is armed with great writing, a brilliant creative mindset, and powerful messages no doubt many will fall gravitate towards… In the end Echo Arcadia is highly contagious, infectious and will no doubt evolve over time into something truly groundbreaking on the world stage. All of this makes them a welcomed and unique band in an overly cut-and-paste industry“.

Music Emissions

Echo Arcadia’s release from Spectra Records, “Beauty In An Average Life”, is an outstanding, inspired rock album with a unique sonic identity and highly literate writing. Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland, this outfit covers a wide variety of styles on this release with a fearlessness and restless creativity that impresses itself on the listener immediately“.

Vents magazine

I really like to song line up – the way each song masterfully transitions through to the next creating much in the way of drama. So many bands and record labels get this basic skill so wrong. They fail to listen to the songs at their disposal and seemingly throw the album together without giving it any real thought. I’ve known people who work to formulas making sure that their best songs start and finish the album with the remaining tracks squeezed between in a slapdash fashion. That’s not the case with Beauty in the Average Life. in fact each track could probably survive on its own merits, but the album just flows so well. Echo Arcadia could easily heralded as classic sounding rock but there is so much more to them. I hear Tonic, Five for Fighting, The Verve Pipe, and dash of Pearl Jam. I can even hear Masters of Reality, Arctic Monkeys and The Dead Weather“.


Echo Arcadia’s latest release Beauty in the Average Life is a compelling musical journey. These 7 pretty much rock the house. Its strong suit is its amazing sonic ambience and song for song musical flow. These guys and gals gets high marks from me for their brilliant musical approach bringing in much instrumentation and musical variety. This CD will be a real joy for those listeners out there who want flowing trippy ambience to fill their sonic space peacefully and unobtrusively. This progressive somewhat trippy format makes for a great extended play experience. I recommend you just hit play, close your eyes and see where the party takes you. So if you’re looking for a psychedelic musical experience with sonic ambience, theatrical brilliance and a psychedelic rock aftertaste, then I highly recommend you take a listen to the latest CD from Echo Arcadia right away“.

The Muse’s Muse

Echo Arcadia’s latest release “Beauty in the Average Life” makes a lasting impression upon the listener. Together these Scots are sure to make an impact here in the states. They sound comfortable together not holding anything back and their eccentrically good songwriting is boldly honest. This latest effort by Echo Arcadia creates an inviting musical setting that highlights all the good about eccentric trippy alt-rock and up close and personal singer/songwriter music. All songs offer a wide array of musical depth and structure – offering the best UK and US rock n’ roll has to offer – a great balance“.


If you want a pleasant mellow pop rocking staple there’s something on this record for you. Obviously many will fall head over heals with Echo Arcadia. I mean Moyes doesn’t even have to sing a single word for this to happen – really. This is one artist set up rather well for mainstream success this year and next. Some of this plays into strong marketability potential world-wide. Some pieces present more modern sounding overtones but despite all this the flavor possess traditional Progressive Pop Rock textures. This is really what makes this release from Echo Arcadia so enticing to me personally. In retrospect Echo Arcadia possesses an impressive sound that is rock-based. “Beauty in the Average Life” grants you rare access to peer into the soul of a young artist not so tormented by the world yet but rather easy-going and positive – from a fascinating Progressive Pop perspective shall we say that is, well more than average“.

Music News Nashville

With the L.P. available to the general public, the next few months will be crucial ones for the band. I mentioned the potential for multiple U.S. dates, but is would go without saying that Europe, Australia (and everywhere in-between) will want our heroes to come and play- they may have to get used to being outside of Scotland for a while! Music is a capricious and malevolent mistress; used to beckoning an act forth- before spitting their bones into the wind. Whilst a lot of artists are deserving of no more than a fleeting moment in the spotlight, Echo Arcadia will be around for a long time, as the music and importance of what they are doing means more than any facetious or corruptible distractions- fame and the puerility it brings. At the moment our six-piece have a modest (but loyal) following on their social media pages- this is sure to change very soon. I will conclude my review by looking into their future, but for now, I am very much intrigued by the present- in the form of their album, Beauty in an Average Life.

Before a single song arrives to your ears, you are (I certainly was) struck by the album cover itself. One of the things that the so-called ‘digital age’ will bury, is album hard- and the physical product. That is not to say that album (and E.P.) designs and covers will be gone compleltey- our heroes’ album artwork is eye-catching and memorable. With its desert and lunar background; with a floating astronaut and child in the foreground; it is a strange, wonderful and curious image. Whether it is a child playing with an astronaut-shaped balloon, or else an actual astronaut, I am not sure- but is sticks in your mind and lingers too. The cover image (of the album) tells you about the music and themes (before you even hear the first song) and sets you up for what is to come. The L.P.’s lead-off track is Sparks– a track that has already gathered and garnered a large amount of attention and praise. The song was featured on Broken Chapters, and it compelled Edinburgh Spotlight to write: “If bands like The Pixies were masters of the ‘loud quiet loud’ thing, Echo Arcadia are the peanut butter equivalent: their songs are all ‘smooth crunchy smooth’ and ‘Sparks’ is a perfect example“. A glowing and sparking rush begins the songs; little pattering percussion melts with throbbing electronics. With electric guitar seductively entering the fray, our hero claims “They’ll be tantrums“; his voice calm and purposeful. His indecision, it is said, are “haunting every choice that I make“. The sonic parable- which was levelled and smooth- steps up a gear, and an audible rush is detected. Guitar strings become more prominent; sparring with some solid percussion, the song’s energy and passion makes itself know. Whilst out hero states that “This introspection/Has never been that easy for me“, the electric threads become woozy and pulsing; they vibrate and sway- paired with some subtle bass and electronic undertones, it creates a hugely effective mood. Depression, repressed feelings and anxieties are under the surface for Moyes; you can feel his soul creeping towards insanity- before a vocal chorus arrives. Determined and emphasised, the coda implores our hero to “Hold on“; male and female tones mix to give the sound of a crowd (looking into his world) advising strength and resolve. The guitar work is more emphatic, backing a vocal sway which is as dream-like as it is purposeful- shades of The National come into view. I love the way that Echo Arcadia mix guitars and bass together; at the forefront is a sharper and more dominant electric guitar sparkle; with tender and supportive bass working in the background the combination is hugely evocative and emotive. There are “Broken chapters“, with every lines “torn out and unread“- you can sense our hero’s heart and soul ache and burn. With a further- and much-needed- choir of redemption and sage advice, the band weave their tapestry. One of the song’s key facets- amongst many- is the composition which changes course, path and declination- keeping the energy high and pleasing the ear at every opportunity. Grumbling and moaning guitar mixes with staunch and stoic percussion; each member of the band adds huge energy and colour to the song- lines and notes will stick in your head for a long time. With a gorgeous and spacey outro.- that has hints of Pink Floyd, Bowie and OK Computer-era Radiohead- a dancing and funky astral projection does it’s work, and ends the song- and concludes a striking and phenomenal start to the L.P. Apple Moon is the next track, and begins its life with an upbeat and punchy intro. It is one which compels you to tap your feet and nod your head; with splashes of cymbal and pattering percussion (together with some underlying bass and electronics) you allow yourself to get washed away in its majesties. Our hero approaches the mic., and with heavy-hearted words (“Steal my dreams while I’m asleep“), it seems as though he is speaking to (or about an unnamed) sweetheart. Whether looking at the quagmire and battles of romance, or life in general, words such as “Cut the ties or keep the key” get your mind thinking. The composition- in the embryonic stages- is kept subtle (yet emotive) to allow the words and vocal do their work. That sonic palpitation turns into a full-on coronary, as the atmosphere explodes. Breathy and elongated brass whips up a sense of lightning, hushed awe and tears- every emotion you can imagine can be heard. The drums crackle and tee-up a vocal rise; our hero proclaiming “She’s like an echo in my head“. Words unsaid, dancing shadows and memories arrive in mind; Moyes’s voice is impassioned and strong as he concludes: “My inner voice/My apple moon“. The song- likes it predessor- has a quiet-loud dynamic; the composition is variegated and diverse. Strikes of electric guitar mix with clattering drums- the song’s pace and turns keep you on the edge of your seat. With our hero (imploring to his subject) imploring: “Hold me tight in love’s embrace“, the rampant and thundering guitar acts like a heartbeat- one which is a rictus and riot of sadness and strain. Moyes’ heart is twisted and torn every time the heroine smiles; whether the romance is dead or she is with someone new (causing huge pain in our hero), you can hear the conviction in the vocal delivery. Like The National’s Matt Berninger, lightness mixes with weighted burden- you can hear the sorrow but it is not overwhelming, you always emphasise and feel empathy. Whilst Ohio’s Berninger has chocolate and deep tones, our Scot hero has greater power in his voice; it is less overwrought and more pleasing- displaying a unique and singular tone, which is rare in the modern scene. I can see the song becoming a fan favourite, as it has a sing along quality, yet its message can be understood and extrapolated by all- it is a relevant and universal theme, yet one with a certain catchiness. The driving and potent closing moments has hints of The Killers to its sound, and acts as the perfect conclusion to another stunning number- completing an authoritative and memorable 1-2. With a tribalistic and rumbling percussive line, Love Song gets underway. A feverish and twanging guitar coda parabonds with drums; they weave in and out of one another, and whip up a heady and exhilarating intro. Just then, a lighter and dancing element is introduced; keys and percussive timber commingle that puts a smile on your face and beautifully subvert expectation. It is the finest- to this point- introduction on the album, and sets up a huge amount of intrigue and fascination. “The time has come for dreaming” our hero starts; voice filled with purpose and passion; emphasised in words such as “We barely started breathing/Before we’re thinking about leaving“. It is here that our hero lets his voice power; wordless cries ring out and cut to the core. When the chorus swings in, Moyes is back down to earth (yet no less powerful), as he proclaims: “I’m on my own/’til I find my love song“. Backed in vocal unison, you get the sense of a man looking for happiness and meaning; dislocated and jaded by what life has thrown at him. The chorus wins you over with its sheer conviction and prowess; the combination of multiple voices, scintillating guitar and pummeling percussion (and strong-arm bass), augment and aptly support our hero’s pleas. With “carpet burns and whiskey“, our frontman drifts off; misty and fatigue, he looks back on stumbling points; quiet moments allow reflection- you get the impression (at this point) of two lovers in different head spaces. Unable to find the words, our hero sleeps and lost. When the chorus comes back in, it adds extra weight and meaning to the track; it seems that Moyes is somnambulistically walking alone “Until I find my love song“. Like Apple Moon it is a track whose meanings have relevance to (pretty much) anyone listening; the delightful sonic switches and range of moods add huge force to the song, as well as burrow inside your head. It is a track that shows the band place a large emphasis on projection, emotion and nuance- the song never tires and is constantly electioneering. With another memorable and evocative chorus, you cannot help but sing along- as well as hope that our hero finds satisfaction and answers. The final minute-or-so combines powerful guitar-and-percussion-duet and the reintroduction of the chorus- it glides us down to land, and you are left wondering whether our hero has managed to find resolve. Joker was- and is- the band’s first single, and will be familiar to any fans of the band. Edinburgh Spotlight claimed that the track was “Sparkling and freshly polished…” and something “you will be singing in the shower, on the way to work“. Released back in 2011 (when former member Siobhan was in the band) it is a song that has connected with a lot of reviewers. After listening to the Morse Code-esque piano notes blend with darker and astral guitar, you are already hooked. The intro. is both romantic, urgent and compelling- not surprising given the tracks that have come before, and what they offered. Rolling percussion adds another layer to the mood and emphasised a hugely impressive and well-considered opening salvo. When our hero steps into the spotlight; the joke is on him, as (it is said) “’cause I’m the stupid one“. The combinative vocals of our hero and heroine are a warm and powerful blend; there is introspective to be found, yet something more redemptive. With Moyes feeling warmer inside, it has reminded him that “everything’s gonna be just fine“. Like previous numbers, there is a memorability and ‘catchiness’ to proceedings; the melodies and lyrics will forge their way into your brain and not shift. Once more, the entire band play their part superbly. The guitar work is varied and striking; percussion keeps things levelled and constantly engaging; bass is solid and persistently engaging. Siobhan’s voice is not often heard on the L.P. (as she is not part of the band line-up any more), yet in this case, adds sweet and seductive tones- to pair alongside Moyes’ unique voice. With visions of “kaleidoscopes and silhouettes“, our duo combine: “Enjoy the moment/No regrets“. Echo-y and burbling guitar notes mix with purer shades; creating a brilliant punctuation- which takes us into the final stages. A final rally call is summoned up (by our hero), Siobhan joins implores- before the outro. arrives. A shimmering and delicate last few seconds closes Joker– completing another compelling and fascinating song. Once more, piano sounds greet our waiting ears; in Hide and Seek‘s opening moments. Here, they are more romantic and tremulous; when combining with percussion, the result is hugely effective. The drums do not overwhelm, instead stutter and smash (without too much force), creating a delicate and soothing sound. The introduction of strings and guitar only add to its beauty and sway; and you find yourself surprised at just how good the band are when it comes to intros.- few other acts are so consistently impressive and mobile in this respect. Our hero is soft and reflective of voice; hearing the rain come down (“It hits my window pane“); its loneliness remind him how much he is missing his love. Although it has been nine days, it “feels like half a year“; Moyes is looking for a way to have his sweetheart by his side, unable as he is to make it so. At this point Hide and Seek is the most romantic and gentle tracks on the album; sighing brass and twinkling piano are highly effective; the pace and weight is kept light to allow the song’s meanings and intentions to get inside of your heart. When Siobhan (once more) adding vocals, the two combines; our hero confession that he “can smell your perfume still…”- its scent lingers on his skin. Imaging and remembering fondest memories of his romance, there is a certain sadness to the recollections. When our hero announces that he “still can’t love (you) more”, his voice is at its purest and most soulful- emphasised and paid tribute by the twinkling and tender piano parable that follows. Moyes has his hands over his eyes and is counting to 10; admitting that if he can’t see his beau then he’ll “never say goodbye“. Just before the 3:00 marker, the brass and horn influence becomes more dominant- and joining with bolstering electric guitar- creates a hugely emotive and vivid scenery. There is a slight Jazz element, and you can imagine our hero walking the rainy streets; under the street light he looks up at neon windows, and wonders when he will see his girl. Imploring for her to “Come on home” (it is a mantra that is repeated and reinforced), our hero lets his voice climb and strike; you can hear the conviction and urgency. As the pace increases (and Siobhan ably supports with a gorgeous vocal line), sonic elements combine and rush. Sprinkling and beautiful piano, mixes with determined percussion and mood indigo brass; the fire burns, and you get the sense that this saga is not over- that there are more twists to come in the tale. After the romanticism and emotion of Hide and Seek, Four Lights begins energetic yet tempered. With a twirling and twisting guitar line, married to a driving and pattering percussion, the song builds curiosity and excitement early on. As our hero comes into view, some oblique but striking words are offered up: “Let the sunlight sting your eyes/Familiar feeling it should come as no surprise“. Displaying their talent for stunning compositions; Four Lights manages to elicit the maximum anount of weight and stir- with as few notes as possible. Whilst our hero sings of “Shield your face/From the eyes that look you through“, the band combine delicately sprinkle in their ingredients. The guitar is particular impressive; in the early stages it is subtle but impressive- as the energy explodes it is incredibly powerful. With hands tied and selfish pride being investigated, our hero’s voice is as direct and potent as ever. At the 1:40 point, the guitar becomes more snarling and crunchy; “You don’t wanna be the one to finish last” is repeated and enforced- the message directed at the anonymous central figure. When our hero delivers the lines “Untold pleasures come from keeping her around/for your own gain“, you wonder what he might be referring to; pictures and scenes are built up in mind; you get the sense that Moyes has a heavy weight on his shoulders. When the chorus comes back in, you find yourself singing along, carried along in the sonic rush and energy. As the final minute arrives, the light and sparse guitars build back up; the song always keeps you on edge and introduces something surprising and new. A low-down and burbling bass line opens up High Hopes and Low Expectations. The percussive and bass elements create a Jazzy and groovy intro., one which our hero is equal to. One more time through the looking-glass, his voice is soulful and firm. It appears that there are worries on Moyes’ mind: “I can’t take any more/flickers of the past“. Our hero is looking at his life (as well as the past); he is surveying scenes; and ask people to “Forgive the flaws you see“. The guitar strikes hard; drum rattles and smashes as our Moyes implores: “Take these memory/Burn them ’til they’re gone“. Our hero is determined to start again and forget the past; get rid of the demons- essentially become reborn. Boasting one of the most impressive vocal turns on the album, the band show how tight and impressive they are. Once again horns are deployed to add to the gravity; the entire band are on top of their game, and ensure that every note and second gets inside your head. Whereas the band have their influences and idols, there is such an original voice and flair that comes through, that you are hard-pressed to notice anyone else. This gives tracks like High Hopes and Low Expectations. Similarly, the lyrics are both relatable but personal; they offer sing along choruses and considerate verses- meaning by the end of seven you are in no mood for the album to end any time soon! Satellite arrives next, and keeps momentum up, and appetites wetted. You get the impression- from the intro.- of a satellite orbiting Earth. There is a weightlessness and nocturnal feel; the guitar opening trips and teases. In a way it reminded me of Amnesiac-period Radiohead; there is that same quality and sound that comes through; it is both dark and light- foreboding and open. When the vocal is introduced, you are already picturing scenes and images. Moyes’ voice is breathy and seductive; as though he is drifting to sleep, or else in a dream. Early words hint at a restless mind in needs of rest: “I’ve been counting sheep/But it never works for me“. Our hero seems to be speaking to a particular subject; a sweetheart; Moyes is in protective mode (“I’ll never let anyone hurt you“)- without them around, our hero is empty and lost. It is nice to hear Moyes’ soulful edges as they are one of the most vital facets on the album; made strongest and most effective when his mind looks towards love. You can hear the conviction come through with every note; this is made crystal-clear not only by the splendid production, but by the band as a whole. Guitar, bass and percussive inputs are not intrusive at all, but help to emphasise the words and add a sense of longing. Putting his heart on his sleeve, our hero confesses (to his love): “I’m lost without you“. Once again, Echo Arcadia display a knack for effective and layered sonic parables. Satellite boasts a tremendously evocative and stunning break, which sees glistening and spacey guitars mingle with delicate and tender percussion. It is a track not only to be seduced by, but one which allows you to relax and drift inside your own mind- and for me, marks itself as the finest song on the album. As an acoustic guitar strum comes into the mix, our hero repeats the words “Knowing that you’re mine“. Backed by Siobhan, it seems almost like a lovers’ duet; the vocals blend wonderfully. As the song ends, you cannot help but smile and feel warmer; whether this is the intention or not, I am not sure, but that is how it left me. Lucinda is the penultimate number, and begins its trajectory with a striking combination of piano, drum and strings. Moyes arrives to the mic. and speaks to our heroine; urges her to walk towards the light, something that “Strips away your apathy“. Whether the song is aimed at a wrong-doer in need of redemption; or a woman with love in her heart in need of direction, she is in the light, as it is “Lifting you above it all“. It appears that our heroine needs clarity and direction. As she lifts her arms in child-like prayer, the strings ache; the percussion sternly pioneers- only Lucinda can acquiesce to leave her sins. Chugging guitar, together with dreamy strings (and piano) elicit an aural storm; a wind of change perhaps? Our hero has been here before; he sees through our heroine, and shows the scars. Whether spiritual guidance is needed or just self-examination and repentance, our hero says that when the light’s so blinding “fall to your knees“. Mixing ecumenical and religious themes (and imagery) together with personal problems and negative proclivity, is hugely effective; you can visualise the heroine and get a clear impression of whom is being referred to. Hollow of beliefs and with thread-bare lies, our hero is in emphatic voice; striking out against Lucinda. Tenth, and by no means least, is Into Another Day– the swan song of a bounteous album. Ghostly and spectral wordlessness opens up the track; backed by trickling guitar there is an instant sense of stillness; perhaps of the night and all it holds- of floating into space perhaps. Such is the nature and beauty of those first seconds, that your mind wanders and imagines. Guitar and piano (once more) combine tenderly, and you sense that something epic and emphatic may soon be upon us. Moyes speaks of “One last breath of air/Before the darkness falls“; his voice controlled and with an unnamed subject in mind, our hero tells them not to “let this slip away from you“. Fleeting moments pass to another day, and you get the sense that there is personal relevance and meaning behind the words. Perhaps not referring to himself (but maybe a friend or sweetheart), the words paint pictures of someone whom may be low (at the moment), but can regroup and re-gather. When the words “We’ve come from nothing/And we’ll return/Back there again” the song acquires new meaning and direction. Our hero is placing himself under the spotlight, and is in the midst of the action. Like all great and remarkable albums, it ends with a song which is both unexpected but perfectly fitting. There are no rambunctious intervals or guitar smashes; no strained utterance and thoughts- the pace and mood are kept level and touching from start to finish. It is the finale to the film; the light at the end perhaps. A lot of emotional and ground has been covered, and the dawn’s light is starting to break. When Moyes re-introduces the words “Don’t let this slip away from you” the song reaches its closing stages, and the dawn breaks. It brings to a close a remarkable and assured debut from Echo Arcadia. The album is filled with brilliant and memorable vocals; insightful and stunning lyrics- and a band performance that is consistently engaging and powerful. Not only is it staggering to witness the range of sounds and sights across 10 tracks, but the L.P. never drops a step- or misses a beat. A compelling travelogue from end-to-end, it is an album that you will be repeating for weeks to come; quoting lines and melodies- wondering whether our hero has gained satisfaction and whether the album’s supporting cast have found absolution and (renewed) purpose.

Reception (so far) has not exactly been ‘ambivalent’ with concerns Beauty in an Average Life– feedback has been incredibly positive. It is no surprise, given the impact that Broken Chapters had; and being aware of the Edinburgh music scene, I am not shocked, either. The likes of Universal Thee are presenting their Pixies-cum-Pavement mandates to the world- and are a band whom will be big future names. Echo Arcadia are a six-piece whom were mere stranger a mere few days ago, and I am exceptionally glad they are no longer anonymous. I will be following the career and trajectory of the heroic Scots with a close eye, and will make an effort to see them live- if they play London in the future. When chatting with Moyes earlier in the week, a great humbleness and modest came through; as well as a desire and ambition to take his band as far as he possibly can. I started this review by investigating the mixed fortunes of various bands; the inequalities that are present in the market- and how hard it is to hear about genuinely great new bands. When it comes to mainstream or established music, then it is easy to find out about new releases. Between various music magazines, websites (and T.V.) new albums and E.P.s are advertised widely, ensuring that the public have plenty of notice. New musicians have to work a lot harder to get the word out. If you live in a particular region or area, then you may hear of local acts and neighbours- but how often are you made aware of further-placed acts? As I am based near London, I know of some great acts here (as well as talent in Surrey and West Sussex); yet rely on happenstance to locate great music in other locales. A great proportion of my reviews are as a result of luck or second-hand word-of-mouth; sources such as The Guardian are quite instrumental- it shouldn’t be this difficult! The bands (and solo acts) are doing all they can and free from culpability; it is the media and social media sites that should be doing more. Being a fan of the likes of The National, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and The Smiths, any band that employs elements of these groups seem ready-made for me. We need to discover a smoother way for great musicians to connect with potential fans; build clearly and concreted links between them and us- it seems so obvious. Until something is figured out, I will be glad for each opportunity that arrives, which allows me to discover great music. Echo Arcadia are a mature, intelligent and pioneering group whom not only sprinkle some key influences into their cannon, but project an authoritative and compelling individuality and unique sound- one that is hard to shake off. The reviews that have come in for the album so far pay testament to just how strong the six-piece are. Too few acts manage to truly get inside your head and heart; whether because of lack of insight or potential, a great deal come off as being hollow, generic and one-dimensional. I feel that a lot of bands are put on pedestals and drooled over (by critics); play the huge festivals and are subjected to a great amount of feverish praise- without any real reason why. I shall name no names, but there is too much of it in music; and it comes at the cost of genuinely purposeful and incredible bands. Echo Arcadia will have no fear, as they have a huge critical backing, and now (they have a big label behind them), opportunities and avenues will be opened to them. The vibrant personalities and everyman approachability of Moyes and his men comes through firmly; the guys are good-humoured, down-to-earth and hungry- and proud of the music they make. I hope that our heroes come down to London very soon as I would love to see them play in a live setting. After performing at the Voice of Scotland showcase a couple of weeks ago, Echo Arcadia are taking Scotland by storm; and it will not be long until they go off on their travels and begin an itinerant campaign. It seems that every week I am uncovering acts whom are capable of ruling festivals and venues in the future, and it seems that another has been covered. Whether our heroes will take this route or stick to more modest settings will be in their hand, but I am sure that for the moment they will see how Beauty in an Average Life is received. They have influenced some songwriting in me, and compelled me to re-investigate my best work, and push boundaries and limits even further- such is the merit and hallmark of an influential band. Their 10-track opus is not something that will appeal to fans of certain types of music/bands; there is an openness to their music that encourages all to participate. Some of the lyrics may tread a darkened road, yet- as explained earlier- Moyes sees it as a way of extinguishing fear and dispelling any anxieties. Our upbeat band of men are keen to instil themselves into the public forum as potently as possible, and I feel that this summer will be a very busy and prosperous period for them. With April slipping away, and the weather being unpredictable as ever; sit back and unearth a Scottish band whose stock will rise; six fellas whom will be on the scene for many a-year; and above all absorb…

ONE of the most compelling albums you’ll hear all year.


 Track Listing:


Apple Moon- 9.7

Love Song- 9.8

Joker- 9.7

Hide and Seek- 9.8

Four Lights- 9.7

High Hopes and Low Expectations- 9.8

Satellite 9.9

Lucinda- 9.7

Into Another Day9.9

Standout Track: Satellite


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Modern Classics: The White Stripes- White Blood Cells.



The White Stripes


White Blood Cells


Some 13 years after its release, I look back at an album that not only made a huge musical impact- but saw the rise of one of the biggest bands of our time. With a huge support (already behind them), Detroit’s black, red and white duo released something truly staggering.


IN a new (and regular) series, I am going to be investigating albums…

that can be considered ‘modern classics’. Some of them you may own; some you may have forgotten about, but my intention is to lend fresh praise and tribute to albums I deem truly timeless. You may not agree with my choices, and for that reason, it would be great to hear some suggestions- for albums I can include. Tomorrow I start work on a review for a new Edinburgh-based band; one whom I feel invokes the spirit of Punk truly- and have a huge future ahead of them. As great and important as new music is, I always find myself looking back; spinning albums and acts whom- although they may be gone- live long in the memory. It is important to keep their memories alive, and not forget what has come before. As much as anything, certain bands and artists have been responsible for influencing a great deal of modern players- for that, we should respect them. Today, I investigate an album (from a band) whom not only set alive the music world in the ’90s and ’00s, but were responsible for the new wave of Garage Rock bands that came through in that period. Without further ado, let me introduce them…

Most of you are probably aware of The White Stripes. They are a duo whom appealed to the masses; not just relegated to certain clans and camps- their music connected with everyone. A few years ago, they hung up their band patterns and called it today- but not without leaving behind a huge legacy. The duo consisted of Meg and Jack White, and formed in Detroit in 1997. Before I introduce you to their music, let me clear up a few things. As well as a brilliant palette and kinship, our Michigan two-piece had some unique quirks. Well, I say ‘quirks’; there was a clear uniformity (enforced by Jack), that separated them from their peers. The duo wore black, white and red and no other colours; White (fascinated by the number 3) insisted on their behind three instrumental sonic components -voice, guitar and drums. Extending this theory, the band had another key distinction: they were brother and sister. Well, technically they weren’t, but a myth and story was perpetrated to the media: one which would avoid any questions about their personal lives. In actuality, the two married in 1996 (Jack took Meg’s surname), before divorcing several years later. Jack was keen for the press to focus on the music, fearful that the duo’s marriage would take prescience- as such they became brother and sister. What made The White Stripes such a distinctive act was their lo-fi approach to recording; they fused ’20s and ’30s Blues music, and sprinkled in of-the-moment Rock. When the band formed (in 1997), the music industry was still transitioning from the death of Grunge. With acts such as Nirvana defunct, there were still band such as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden pioneering, yet the scene was on its last leg. The music-buying public were eager to embrace new idols; to find something fresh and direct- the duo provided this. Jack White (born Jack Gillis) was a former upholsterer, whilst Meg was a bartender. “The White Stripes began their career as part of the Michigan underground garage rock scene, playing with local bands such as Bantam Rooster, The Dirtbombs, The Paybacks, and Rocket 455. The White Stripes was signed to Italy Records, a small and Detroit-based garage punk label, in 1998 by Dave Buick. Buick approached them at a bar and asked if they would like to record a single for the label. Jack White initially declined, but eventually reconsidered“. Detroit, as it is today, is a bit of a desolate and ravaged ghost town, but during the late-’90s played host to some hungry and diverse bands. The White Stripes’ formative steps were tentative and soft, yet they were grabbing the attention of the local scene. Whilst a lot of the bands of the time were mere point-and-squirt purveyors; concerned with sheer racket- our Detroit duo prompted something different. The contemporary bands were being inspired by modern sounds and of-the-moment acts, whereas The White Stripes looked back. Growing up, Jack was fascinated by old Blues masters such as Son House, Blind Willie McTell and Robert Johnson. As well as the classic Blues acts, Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges were all big idols- White incorporated all these elements into the band’s music. These combinations and elements came to fruition self-titled debut. With the century nearing its end, The White Stripes was a fitting music way to end it- and was to see the first steps for a soon-to-be-legendary band. Surmising the album, Allmusic had this to say:

Jack White’s voice is a singular, evocative combination of punk, metal, blues, and backwoods while his guitar work is grand and banging with just enough lyrical touches of slide and subtle solo work… Meg White balances out the fretwork and the fretting with methodical, spare, and booming cymbal, bass drum and snare… All D.I.Y. -country-blues-metal singer/songwriting duos should sound this good.”

With Jack White (whom was the band’s chief songwriter) at the producer’s helm (alongside Jim Diamond), an evocative and stunning L.P. was unleashed. It was the ‘D.I.Y.’ sound that, perhaps, gives it its stripes (forgive the pun!). It is as though you are sitting in Jack’s house as you listen (a lot of it was, in fact). The fact that it sounds more like a live recording- as opposed to a studio-recorded one- for me, makes it so special. Critics at the time were a little split, and for that reason, The White Stripes is one of those albums that reveals its majesties after time. Those whom were turned onto the band’s wonders extolled the virtues of the raw sound; the updated Blues sound- as well as the urgency and conviction in the band’s performances. The debut saw some fresh and wonderful original material, but also saw the band’s interpretative skills displayed. Bob Dylan’s One More Cup of Coffee turned into a malevolent calling to the underworld- Jack’s voice drips with emotion and foreboding. Robert Johnson’s Stop Breaking Down is a bouncy and energised reworking; St. James Infirmary Blues was transformed into a sweeping and emotional number. Although there were some rough edges (Astro and Screwdriver seem a bit rushed-off and forgettable), White was demonstrating a songwriting talent, that was to mark him out as one of the busiest and most vibrant talents of the last 20 years. Wasting My Time and The Big Three Killed My Baby are sneering anthems; wrapped around Meg’s assured drum work and Jack’s tantalising guitar. The seeds were planted and Detroit’s finest new band were showing their contemporaries how it should be done. White Blood Cells would arrive two years later (in 2001); but The White Stripes had another L.P. to come first. Showing a breathless work ethic, De Stijl arrived less than a year after their debut. Inspired by the Dutch art movement (called ‘the style’), the L.P. saw Jack cementing the band’s triple-coloured aesthetic. The sound of their sophomore effort was less rambunctious and grittier (than on their debut), but more concentrated. With fewer ‘filler’ tracks, the album could be seen as a logical and progressive step forward- although many critics felt it did not match the heights of The White Stripes. When reviewing De Stijl, Rolling Stone had this to say:

The second album by the Detroit couple, De Stijl, is feisty and clever, full of scuzzy garage rock that would fit nicely on a Nuggets compilation between the Sonics and the Standells“.

The wave of positive press that followed the album’s release, saw Jack and Meg filled with confidence- as well as a host of new fans. When you consider the work on their 2nd album, it is no surprise it was met with acclaim. You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl) is a springing number that meets ’60s Pop bounce with legendary Blues. Whilst the songs themes look at a girl who’s “back is so broken“, it is a charming and memorable number, that was a terrific lead-off track. Let’s Build a Home and Jumble, Jumble are free-falling songs infused with enormous rush- Jack’s guitar work is varied and evocative; Meg’s drumming powerful and emphatic. It was during the album, that the softer side of Jack White was coming out. The debut hinted at the tenderness inside of the man (tracks such as Suzy Lee are fine examples)- but it was on De Stijl that White began to vary his songwriting. Apple Blossom is a charming and child-like love song; Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise is an epic yet brave defence of (a shy and withdrawn) girlfriend; I’m Bound To Pack It Up saw the young American as the modern embodiment of Son House. Both players were becoming more fully rounded and confident; Jack was growing as a songwriter, and showing himself to be one of the most talented artists on the block. As good as Meg’s drumming was, White, the maestro, was growing in stature. His voice was becoming more focused and individual; able to belt and snap as well as implore and seduce. The guitar work was authoritative and nuanced, and a legendary band were fully taking shape. With the album showing itself as a fan favourite- and with critical support behind them- the Detroit pioneers were abound with confidence come the end of 2001. With Garage Rock’s revival gaining momentum, its forerunners were mounting a charge, and on the cusp of releasing their most potent statement: White Blood Cells.

It is perhaps appropriate that White Blood Cells begins with a bang. With a slight percussive tapping, proceedings explode with a rictus guitar parable. Summoning up a hailstorm of electricity it is a buzzing and pulsating intro., augmented by Meg’s clattering and impassioned drum work. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground is an emphatic and potent opening statement. Here, Jack is in yearning mood; pining and waiting for someone to return. The track is awash with emotive outpouring; striking images and a whole lot of conviction. Mixing tender confessions (“If I could just hear your pretty voice/I don’t think I need to see at all“) with oblique sentiment (“If you can hear a piano fall/you can hear me coming down the hall“), the song really catches you. The White Stripes unleash a tough and mobile composition which fuses urgent rushes and softer moments. In Dead Leaves’ we see Jack put his heart on his sleeve. Whilst longing for his love, White’s mind drifts back (“Soft hair and a velvet tongue/I want to give you what you give to“); whomever he is talking about (their absence) is causing a hole in his heart. You get the impression of White returning to a house; yet finding it empty he sits and wonders; waiting for company and salvation. Although the vocal performance is strong-headed and determined, you cannot escape the poetry and tribute that our hero conveys. The song’s heart-aching messages are succinctly represented in the lines “I didn’t feel so bad till the sun went down/Then I come home/No one to wrap my arms around“- you can hear the aching in his voice. After the stunning opening salvo, the pace and subject is changed. Whereas a lot of bands (including the duo themselves did on their debut) would opt for a similar-sounding or flavoured track, Jack and Meg subvert expectations. There is no yearning and absent souls to be heard on Hotel Yorba– some empty ones, but not in a romantic ones. A springing and lilting acoustic guitar coda opens proceedings (a pleasing shift from the forcefulness of Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’s intro.); one which puts an instant smile on your face. Initial moments see our hero in a rush; he is being bustled and harried by life (“I had fifteen people telling me to move/I got moving on my mind“). In spite of the vivid scenarios, there is always a lightness and (perhaps ironic) joy in White’s voice. Meg’s drumming is loose and playful, allowing the song’s messages to come to life- as well as adding an urgency to proceedings. With our hero in nursery rhyme mode (“Well its 1 2 3 4/Take the elevator“), White is with his beauty, on the steps of Hotel Yorba; not fearful of rejection, because: (“All they got inside is vacancy“). It is a song that sticks its tongue out at the disreputable establishment. We can all imagine the type of discarded and alarming hovel that White had in mind; sly grins and smiles can be heard when the lines are delivered. The song has a sing along quality that is hard to ignore, but it much more layered and nuanced than any throwaway Pop number. White’s talent for wordplay and scene-setting are all evident, as he mixes faux romantic confessions with childlike innocence (“Let’s get married/In a big cathedral by a priest/’cause if i’m the man that you love the most/You could say ‘I do’ at least“). As the song comes to an end, it completes a stunning (and varied) 1-2- and one that covers a heap of territory in only a few minutes. The first four tracks blend short and memorable bursts with longer and more ‘sprawling’ numbers. Continuing the pattern, I’m Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman spreads its wings. White surveys manners and the breakdown of etiquette; delivered in his inimitable and cutting way. Building several different scenarios, our hero is acting the gentleman; irked at distractions in his head (“You think that I care/About me and only me/When every single girl needs help/Climbing up a tree“). Perhaps the intentions aren’t allows honourable; the thoughts always pure (“Well I’m finding it hard to say/That I need you twenty times a day“); it is a song that allows our hero to unleash his emotions; to get our his anger- whether based on real-life malaise or fiction, I am not sure. Whereas Hotel Yorba had a similar cut to its tongue, I’m Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman is longer and more detailed; less concerned with urgency and (perhaps memorability), it is a stunning number. Bait-and-switch perhaps, but for those expecting another I’m Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman are soon surprised. After a second track that was short and direct, we have a fourth track that is similarly truncated. Fell in Love with a Girl arrives, and was to become one of the most celebrated songs of the album. The song is barely two minutes long, but gains its status because the pace never relents- from start to finish it is fast and furious. Filled with Punk energy, it is a compacted explosion of romance, miscommunication and misappropriation. After falling for the girl, White has doubts (“She’s in love with the world/But sometimes these feelings/Can be so misleading“); the red-haired temptress is leading him astray. Trying to assuage White’s anxiety she assures him that Bobby (her beau) says kissing isn’t cheating, and to relax; whereas our hero is conflicted (“These two sides of my brain/Need to have a meeting“). Aware that it is not romance, but a temporary thing (“She’s just looking for something new“), White’s brain is melting and bursting in the heat of the situation. You can feel the primal urges and frustrations come through in the repeated “Ahhh aha ahhh ah“; the rampaging percussion and rampant guitar augment and emphasis the mood- it is a paragon of frustrated lust and second-guessing. After the short burst (as you would expect) comes a song that is not brief, but, like Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (the two songs share a similar sound and pace); it is persevering and imploring. Whereas previous numbers have perhaps been more direct, Expecting is slightly more oblique and open to interpretation. With a crawling and striking guitar smash (and impressive percussion), the track smashes and retreats (and repeat); scoring a tale of a imbalanced love, a relationship that sees our hero trapped (“Your mouth said this never/But your fingers have shown me/Your head is so clever…”). With a motif based around give and take (and the unfair share of either), White distills the essence of the relationship: “I’m expected/You’re expecting“. Love and fractured relationships form the basis of many songs on the album, but the chameleon-like nature of our band mean that no two songs appear the same; the subject is ascribed in various manners and tones- giving the album a rich and compelling sense of mystery and intrigue. Breaking from the parable of love-gone-wrong arrives (yep, you guessed it) a short song (the shortest in fact), in the form of Little Room. In the first of two songs that are both (very) brief and ‘unusual’ let’s say, it revolves around a subject, in their little room “working on something good“. We are not sure what is being worked on (or whether it is a general message about ambition and growing up), but you cannot help but picture whom White is referring to- and what he might have been imagining. Meg’s drumming remains constant and unwavering- she does not change pace or time at all, just a constant smash which gives the song a restless energy. The track may refer to White’s (and the band’s) ambitions or music in general; perhaps it is more literal or fictionalised- it is open to your own opinion. By the end of the song, White has a direct message (to the central figure whom has moved to a bigger room): “You might have to think of/How you got started/Sitting in your little room“. The song is just under a minute long and is a beautiful and memorable punctuation (after the draining emotions over the previous five songs). Based around Citizen Kane (the song referencing words from the film), The Union Forever is based around Charles Foster Kane, a man whom admits: “Well I’m sorry but I’m not interested in gold mines, oil wells, shipping or real estate“. Transposing and vicariously projecting himself into Kane’s shoes, White acts the showman-turned-bruised-romantic; a Kane-esque figure whom surveys a focal heroine (“’cause It can’t be love/For there is no true love“); someone whom our hero states: “I’ll bet you five you’re not alive/If you don’t know his name“. It is a mini-epic track, and one that takes us to the mid-way point of the album. The actual centre of the L.P. arrives after The Same Boy You’ve Always Know. With a new song comes a new subject; one which looks at love and expectation once more- but is a reinvention of previous numbers. There is no short burst here; the band supersede expectation and present a song that is considered and emotional. With White’s voice tremulous and wracked (Meg considerate of accompaniment), the track looks at White and his beau; a woman whom “Forgot my name of course/Then you started to remember“. Things seem strained, and White admits some truths (“Well I guess I haven’t grown“). White urges his subject to thing of the past and how things could have lasted. Our hero seems pained at the thought of recollection; guitar chugs and drives- emphasising the desperation and lost hope. The way the song looks at death, love, forgetfulness and lost youth, could well be written about senility- an elderly relative whom may have forgotten White and seems a stranger. Whether dealing with a relationship in its dying stages or something else, I am unsure; our hero seems aghast at the situation. The song sees White starting to give in; accepting that things may not work out. With doubts and questions- as well as stark images- racing around his head, our hero ends with an emotional confession: “And if there’s anything good about me/I’m the only one who knows“. Our ninth track arrives, and allows something more optimistic and pure: We’re Going To Be Friends. Perhaps my least favourite song on the album, yet you cannot deny its charms. It is the most innocent and sweetest song of the set; a simple paen to a childhood friendship- with Suzy Lee. Our hero casts himself at school; with Lee the two are back to school (as it is fall); the duo prepare to start back on their first day (“Climb the fence, books and pens“). The song’s melody is beautiful and soft; it is essentially a Jack White solo track- his voice is tender and breezy throughout. It is a sharp departure from previous songs (and the rest of the album), and for that reason isolates itself somewhat. I know for a fact that many fans consider it one of the finest tracks on White Blood Cells; White himself vividly paints pictures of the carefree nature of childhood: “Walk with me, Suzy Lee/Through the park and by the tree/We will rest upon the ground/And look at all the bugs we found/Safely walk to school without a sound“. With White and Lee arriving at school (dirty uniforms and all), numbers and letters, maths and spelling are order of the day; whilst “Teacher thinks that I sound funny/But she likes the way you sing“. As the song reaches its conclusion, our hero is in bed, dreaming of his schooldays- confident that he and Suzy will be firm friends. An unexpected and sweet-natured number then leads to one that is, well…not so. Showing their talent for surprise and diversity, our duo launch into a song concerning our ill-fated hero- whom cannot seem to please anyone he comes into contact with. Offend In Every Way sees White stymied (“I don’t know what to say“), tiptoeing through life, our hero’s discontent is backed by an epically direct and forceful composition. The band mix striking and pugnacious drumming with multi-layered guitar work (and some impressive piano interjections) to add weight to the mood; projecting an unabated air of fragmentation and dislocation. As White explains “I’m coming through the door/But they’re expecting more/Of an interesting man“, his emotions are in check; yet you can hear the burden in his voice. Our hero is faking who he is; second-guessing and bluffing (honesty is wasted on the crowds); but no matter what he does, offence is caused. People tell him to relax and realise that “Everyone’s my friend/And will be till the end“; but nothing White does seems to please-he is trapped in his own body. The anxiety and helplessness comes through the music, whilst the vocal is kept levelled- not allowing itself to descend into histrionics. Most other acts would probably throw so much bitterness and anger into the composition, that it would get buried under its own weight. Our duo present a composition that is detailed and emotive; filled with diversions and twists. In the manner that Offend In Every Way looks inwardly, I Think I Smell A Rat strikes outwardly. With an intro. that sounds almost Flamenco, the song gets under way. Our hero points his finger at people; specifically youth and those on the street (“All you little kids seem to think you know just where it’s at“); you get a real sense of a modern man, annoyed at kids and the new generation. With the accused “Walking down the street carrying a baseball bat” our hero smells a rat- everything they believe in and preach is wrong. The lyrics are sparse but effective; White employs only a few different lines, but repeats them to great effect. Punctuating vitriolic verses is that shimmering and spiky guitar line; with Meg slamming on her drum kit. With the kids “Using your mother and father for a welcome mat“; White has had enough; and reached the end of his tether. To me, I Think I Smell A Rat is one of the finest songs of the album; it is filled with accusatory directness; the composition is catchy and powerful- the song has everything that the album epitomise. If you are looking for a relaxing break after I Think I Smell A Rat‘s ballistic fire, then think again. The album’s sole instrumental (there are vocal interjections but you can’t really call it singing); comes with Aluminium. Twisted and distorted guitars arrive; they blend and spar with one another- giving you the impression of a robot on the rampage or a car being crushed. White’s only vocal contributed is a repeated ‘ahhh’; one which is gargle, distorted and multi-layered. Meg’s drumming is powerful and meaty; superbly backing Jack’s frantic and staggering guitar work. Whilst many would seem the song as slight or ‘filler’, it uis one of the best things on the album, as it gets inside your head- there is nothing you can fault at all. Whilst not a fully fledged number, it is a daring and brave inclusion; one which perfectly links the previous track, to the next. That song, I Can’t Wait, sees White punching out at an unnamed figure; a girl whom has messed him around too long. Explaining that “I can’t wait till you try to come back girl/When things they don’t work out for you“, our hero has had his share of being used. The composition, once again, is chugging and mobile; changing courses and paths to elicit up the full amount of raw emotion. White is surveying the scene and looking back at events (“First you said I was blind/And it’s gonna be different this time/I thought you made up your mind“); concluding his remembrance with fuzzy and scintillating raw guitar work. Our hero is getting used to being alone; fed up at this feeling, and determined to feel better again. His house does not feel like a home, and he hopes that his subject gets her act together- there is a sense that he wishes things could be different for them. When White states “Do you really think I want be left out girl/Who do you think you’re trying to fool“, you can hear his voice dripping with anger and spite. When the song comes to the end, there is a sense of breathlessness and exhaustion; you feel sorry for White and hope things work out- although you suspect that they won’t. Now Mary is up next, and there seems to be some sarcasm and irony within its lyrics. Looking at the sacrifices and realities of love, White apologizes; he has let his love down; but it is said: “Knowing you I’ll think things are gonna be fine/But then again you’ll probably change your mind“. Where as the last few numbers have had a powerful and overwhelming directness to them, here, the composition is lighter and less oppressive. With scratchy guitar riffs and jumping percussion, the song has a buoyancy to it that keeps things level- and slightly optimistic. It seems that the relationship may have broken down (or in its dying stages), and White reflects on the sacrifices he has had to make: “I’m sorry Mary but being your mate/Means trying to find something that you aren’t going to hate“. Not quite as memorable as the songs either side of it, Now Mary is still one of the most impressive numbers on the album. It has hints of their debut album, and is one of the ‘catchier’ numbers on White Blood Cells. My favourite song on the album arrives in the form of I Can Learn. It has a brooding darkness to it; a languid crawl matched with power and potency. White is in considered mood, pining for love and tired of being alone. He has made mistakes in the past, but can learn- change his ways and be a better man. Although White’s intentions are pure and admirable, he may have some work to do: “I don’t know any lullabies/I don’t know how to make you mine/But I can learn“. The guitars twang and strike; the drum is ecstatic and light- it is a composition of contradictions and conviction. White is out on the scene (or imagining in his head), cast in a date situation (“Drive you home/Then wait by the phone/For that call/And a walk in the fall“); hoping that a long-term romance is imminent. Our hero’s sense of optimism, desperation and genuine heart are what makes the number the highlight of the album. The composition changes path and course and keeps you on edge; it is as potent a number as you can imagine. White looks around at lovers and their happiness; he wants to have what they have, and implores to his sweetheart- “No harm will come of this/One little midnight kiss/It will not burn“. Our hero feels it is his turn; he wants to feel what everyone else feels. As the final verse comes into view, words are tempted and elongated; adding weight to them and making sure they stick in your brain- “Falling down/Is no longer around/Feeling sun/I’m no longer one“. I adore the final line as it is delicately and precisely delivered; each word is punctuated and emphasised- our hero delivering it with almost gleeful sarcasm (Well isn’t this fun?). The final track is This Protector; one which sees a rare vocal appearance from Meg. It is also one of the few songs (if not the only one) which is guitar-free. It is scenic and image-filled; its meanings are ambiguous. Whether dealing with paranoia, the downfalls of love, or something more dangerous, strange and oblique words are poured forth. When our duo sing “You thought you heard a sound/There’s no one else around/Looking at the door/It’s coming through the floor“- you wonder what the true meaning of those words are. With 300 people in West Virginia- whom have no idea of “all these thoughts that lie within ya“- the piano flourishes and rolls and smashes. A brave and different song, This Protector is one of the most stand-out numbers (as it unlike anything on the set). and allows Meg a chance to step away from the drums- and onto the mic. As the final notes play and the album ends, you sit back and take it all in. At sixteen tracks, it is a thorough and stunning work, and one that provides something for everyone- and shows The White Stripes at their creative peak. It is an assertion that is shared by many critics; the album received mass acclaim, and all kinds of effusive and wonderful praise:

Detroit’s Jack and Meg White, allegedly brother and sister, look like they haven’t been out of their apartment in six years, and like the Ramones, they named themselves after their band (or vice versa). Best of all, they fuse inescapable, eerily eternal melodies with dirty-ass, brain-scrambling riffs that recall both the Kinks and the Melvins“.

Rolling Stone

“…it’s precisely this mix of strength and sweetness, among other contrasts, that makes The White Stripes so intriguing. Likewise, White Blood Cells’ ability to surprise old fans and win over new ones makes it the Stripes’ finest work to date“.


With White Blood Cell’s amount of variety, I’ll leave the rest of the analysis to you. If you have yet to experience the album, go and grab it as soon as you can. It may take a couple listens to adjust to Jack White’s vocals and the slicing guitars, but you shant regret it once you do“.

Tiny Mix Tapes

Following the success of White Blood Cells, the duo found themselves wrestling with a double-edged sword. The media attention, scrutiny and expectation was weighting heavy on their minds- especially Jack’s. Speculation regarding the duo’s relationship; tied with commercial pressures, was leaving the band a little jaded and burdened. In spite of this, the band went on to record three more albums (before they broke up). For a group with the eyes of the world on them, Elephant was a surprising revelation. Many would assumed that the Stripes would falter or slow; yet the L.P. marked a leap in confidence and quality- and remains the band’s most notable album. Whilst it is a fan favourite and critical preference, it wouldn’t have happened without White Blood Cells. Elephant saw Jack and Meg continuing their lo-tech voyage; setting up camp at Toe Rag Studios (in London), the duo spent only a few days creating their fourth L.P. Monster anthems (Seven Nation Army) nestled alongside sexy and sweating numbers (Ball and Biscuit). Black Math’s crunching and staggering guitar-and-drum combo; Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine was a jumping and whopping sing-song; You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket a soft and tender number- there was a huge range of sounds and emotions. It seemed as though Detroit’s leading lights were in no mood to slow down or demure: here was a band on a mission. A couple of years passed between the release of Elephant and their next album (Get Behind Me Satan); it was this period that saw the band at their peak- in terms of critical pressure and popularity. Because of the weight of expectation and the need for the group to replicate Elephant’s templates, it is not shocking that Get Behind Me Satan was a slight step back. There were fewer hard-edged and raw mandates this time around. Marimbas and Country-tinged numbers came in; a Pop-infused mood crept into a few numbers; and our heroes were intent on moving their sound forward. My Doorbell and The Denial Twist are stonewall sing-alongs; composed of pure dance and glee- the Whites sounding like they were having the time of their lives. Sex and raw passion were still present, with Instinct Blues leading the charge. Paranoia and frustration were explored; there was more outwards spite and anger coming through- as Take, Take, Take will bear witness. The vicissitudes and scars of fame and adulation were causing Jack to pour blood from his pen, yet Mr. Gillis was still himself- there is plenty of joy, intrigue and humour afoot. As I’m Lonely, (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet) ended the album with a smirk, a new phase was being entered. The band was beginning to incorporate sounds of Latin America and Country Music- with perhaps less emphasis on Blues and Garage Rock. The final album was to arrive in the form of Icky Thump (in 2007). A lot had changed in the two years since Get Behind Me Satan. Countries had been conquered; Jack got married (to English model Karen Elson), and it seemed as though our frontman was a lot happier in his skin. Icky Thump (with its title rooted in northern England), to some, was ‘business as usual’. Of course, The White Stripes had never left, but it seemed as though their previous album’s unique sounds were an anomaly. The raw passion and force of Elephant and White Blood Cells was back. From the title track opener, through to Little Cream Soda; it appeared that Jack hd not lost his love of Zeppelin and Garage Rock. Both players were on top form, and tracks such as Rag and Bone and 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues married their past and present together. The band has moved from Detroit and were living separate lives; not that this had a detrimental effect on the music. Our duo were on heavier and traditional territory and showing how much innovation and genius they still possessed. Allmusic surmised it, thus: “(Icky Thump) is a mature, but far from stodgy, album — and, as is usually the case, it’s just great fun to hear the band play“. Perhaps it was personal relationship issues, or else a fatigue; but The White Stripes called it a day in 2011. Four years after their final album, the band were dissolved. In retrospect, the constant touring and pressure was always going to leave its marks, and so it proved to be. With Jack hungry to pursue other projects; Meg keen to step away from the spotlight, the duo went their separate ways.

The legacy that The White Stripes left is still evident today. I have focused on White Blood Cells, as it is not only my favourite (of their albums), yet it was the moment that the band truly felt comfortable. It was their first peak, and showed to the world just how good they were. When I first heard the album, I knew that I had found my ‘new favourite band’. I was aware of their work, but it had not truly hit me. When their third album came to light, everything changed. Jack White- in my opinion- is one of the most underrated songwriters of his generation, and White Blood Cells is a testament to a hungry and brilliant (songwriting) mind. It seemed that the man (and band) could achieve anything, and as a result, a whole host of groups were pricking their ears up. The album is still touching people today, and its layers and mysteries detectable in modern-day work. On that note, more people are influenced by that album than you may think. I have heard so many songs (and bands) whom have flavours and elements of White Blood Cells (and The White Stripes) in their motifs; the same Garage Rock rush- as well as the vocal strains of Jack. Few bands could summon up the immediate and short-lived bursts of Fell In Love With A Girl without sounding mimicking or inferior; no act has matched Hotel Yorba for sheer evocative charm- how many groups could pen I Think I Smell A Rat? As unbeatable (in my view) as that album it, so many people are taking on its legacy and ashes. Today, both Jack and Meg lead very different existences. Meg has retreated back into regular life, and is re-married and living happily. Jack (as you’d expect) is a White-of-all-trades. As well as working with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, he has a thriving solo career. Jack’s two different bands are unique, yet neither match the heights of The White Stripes. That does not mean there is no quality, as both acts have put out some wonderful songs and albums. White- unconstrained by the rigidity of his former act- found himself in open air, and relaxed. Across the two bands, White has proved what a varied and solid songwriter he is. It is in his solo work, however, that the strongest impressions are evident. On Blunderbuss, there are Country-tinged number, as well as hard and furious anthems- sound familiar? It seems as though the embers of The White Stripes have not burned out, and White remains one of the most fervent and prolific talents of his age. With a forthcoming solo act imminent (Lazaretto), it seems that he has a very bright (and busy) future.

Few acts have burned as brightly as The White Stripes. Maybe it was because of the climate they grew up in; the time that they came to prominence, or else the talents of our two heroes- but the band have found few equals. With Jack White still playing and aiming high, we are still going to be hearing elements of The White Stripes’ best days. White Blood Cells is incarnated in various other albums; on the minds of modern acts; it is something that is both timeless and rare. I hope that we live to see the day where a band (and album) arrives that makes such a huge impression; is a summation and distillation of the times- perhaps we have already. As much as anything, it is just a phenomenal work, and one that suits any mood. If you want emotion and tenderness, then it is there. Plenty of raw and primal urges linger; dangerous and direct Garage Rock slams can be heard- as well as anything else you may require. In the coming weeks I will be surveying other great albums (from various acts), but White Blood Cells is one of my all-time favourite albums for various reasons: there is an emphatic and relentless quality; it draws my mind back to better times, and fostered my love of a truly remarkable act. If you haven’t heard the album, then I urge you to seek it out- or at least check out a few tracks. I think you will agree that it is an album that subjugate definition; is not restricted to lovers of a certain genre- it is an album that can be appreciated by anyone. It is pretty wet and miserable today, so why not cheer yourself up and listen to a truly remarkable work. It will make you smile; it will urge you to sign along; it will get inside your mind, and if nothing else, it will make you…

FORGET about your troubles.


Buy White Blood Cells.


Track Listing:

Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground9.7/10.

Hotel Yorba9.8

I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman9.7

Fell In Love With A Girl9.8

Expecting- 9.5

Little Room9.7

The Union Forever9.5

The Same Boy You’ve Always Know9.8

We’re Going To Be Friends9.3

Offend In Every Way9.7

I Think I Smell A Rat9.9


I Can’t Wait9.9

Now Mary9.6

I Can Learn– 10.0

This Protector9.5

Standout Track: I Can Learn

Download: Hotel Yorba, Fell In Love With A Girl, I Think I Smell A Rat, I Can’t Wait and I Can Learn.


Album Review- Raglans: Raglans









The album, Raglans is available from:

The single, (Lady) Roll Back The Years is available via:


The Irish quartet have a long and busy touring schedule ahead of them. On the strength of their (self-titled) L.P., the Digging Holes impresarios will have a long and fruitful career. Coming to a town near you…


THE last few days have been some of the most revealing and surprising…

in terms of music discovery. A few days back I reviewed Gypsyfingers’ debut album, Circus Life. Being familiar with the duo, I was expecting a lot of quality and highlights. However, after reaching the end of the L.P.’s 10th track, I was taken aback. Between the sighing and spectral vocal harmonies; gorgeous and aching strings and spiky and emphatic guitar contributions, I was amazed. Not only were the musical and vocal components so impressive, but the lyrics were outstanding too. Victroia Coghlan- as the duo’s lead songwriter and vocalist- mixed slice-of-life realities with vivid and unusual storytelling- creating a myriad of wonderfully rich and detailed songs. Some tracks were scatterhsot and rapped; others tenderly whispered- our heroine is one of the best singer/songwriting talents on the scene. Luke Oldfield injects plenty of electricity and emotion, not only in his guitar-playing, but his emotive voice. With superb and assured production values, the album is a triumph, and something that will be launched to the public in a few days. A mere couple of days prior (to my review of Circus Life), I surmised a brand-new talent: The Glass Child. The alias of Swedish angel Charlotte Eriksson, our heroine cross-pollinate styles and genres; plays most of the instruments (on the album) herself; employing every song with nuanced and poetic words- creating a symphonic and spectacular album. Her, I’d Like To Remain A Mystery, is an album that everyone should investigate, as it documents the thoughts and feelings of a superb and hungry artist- one whom is a prolific writer and intriguing personality. Two (seemingly) disparate acts struck me in very different ways. Both are based near London, and each has their own banner, style and campaign tactics- yet they have many similarities. The way in which instruments are fused to elicit grand emotion wowed me; vocal beauty and force are paramount pillars (of both acts); considered and mult-layered songbooks are all present and correct. After a rather exhilarating and itinerant 2014, I am amazed at just how many twists and surprises music throws up. Every time a new band or act comes along, there is always something unique and tantalising that grabs me- although it is not always the case. In the wider scene, it is not always so easy to hear true quality and durability. Across my reviews, I have featured plenty of acts whom are instantly evocative- yet become less appealing and worthy as the days go by. There is a lot of disposability and short-lived dreams in the music scene; for willing to put the effort in, the rewards are bountiful. The reasons that The Glass Child and Gypsyfingers (as well as the likes of Issimo, Universal Thee and Jen Armstrong) strike me, is that their music is not only layered and complete- but there is bags of personality and ambition to be found. Professional and concise websites; tonnes of drive and direction all are evident- as well as a down-to-earth figures. As the year progresses, I am going to be seeking out as many great and diverse acts as possible- especially international ones. Before I introduce you to today’s subjects, I will mention a name that will be familiar to many: Cuckoo Records. The Leeds-based outfit have been the basis of many of my previous reviews: the likes of Cissie Redgwick, Little Violet and Rose and the Howling North have featured on my pages. Each time I surmount and dissect one of Cuckoo’s stars, I am always filled with a huge amount of admiration. The label is on the cutting edge of acts whom are ambitious, multi-talented, and above, all, different. The Electro-Swing lustre of Little Violet and Cisse Regwick were (and are) sounds unfamiliar to me. Invoking the glorious heyday of Swing, their modernisation of the ’40s/’50s regency are engaging and thoroughly catchy. Redgwick’s alter ego Rose and the Howling North is an outfit bursting with imagination and wonderful songs. The album Cuckoo, was one of the finest I have surveyed (last year), and its title track is a perfect distillation of the L.P.’s majesties. A few weeks back, I was fortunate enough to review Annie Drury, and her E.P., Some Day. The gorgeous Yorkshire starlet is a name that has featured on BBC Radio 2 (several times), and she is one of the most promising and potent female solo artists on the scene. Aside from the witiness and vibrancy of Drury’s music, the Yorkshire label is housing a new generation of talent: those whom re-engage and reinvent older genres; are modern and on the cutting edge of modern life; whom dare to be a bit different. As well as Cuckoo‘s outpourings, I have been reviewing a lot of acts based in the north. In terms of creativity, it is showing itself to be a hotspot and melting pot of some of the biggest and brightest music has to offer. As in love I am with the north of England (as well as the U.K. itself), I am keen to eek out and highlight the best music international shores have to offer. Over the past few weeks, I reviewed U.S. Rock act Kongos. As well as ignoring my review (bunch of bastards!), I was fascinated by their music; where they call home (Arizona), and their background. Swedish chanteuse The Glass Child was another fascinating (recent) example, and acts as varied as David Ward (Canada) and Say Lou Lou (Sweden) have all fallen under my radar. Aside from the odd North American and European act, I do not get to get my musical passport out- I featured an Australian band a few weeks ago, mind. My featured act hail from Ireland, and signify a departure for me. Once or twice an act from Ireland have struck my ear, but I do not hear too much from that glorious nation. I know for a fact, that between E.I.R.E. and Northern Ireland, some of the most encouraging and hard-working acts are playing. I feel that in order to have a successful and thriving music scene, you not only have to have the quality and present and correct- but have some multi-national influence. I have spent many a wide-eyed day reviewing brilliant and rare foreign acts; marvelling at music that we (hear sometimes) are not privy to; unaware of to a large extent- that which is different from what I am used to. I shall not delve too much into the issue, but is raises an interesting point: how often does one hear of a great act that originates from outside of the England, even? The music world is so compacted and busy, there is often enough room; often terrific and worthy talent gets overlooked (that hail from lands further afield). Today, I am lucky enough to feature an act whom not only call Ireland their home- but are based in, and gigging from, the U.K.

Having reviewed Raglans back in June (and their track Digging Holes), I was aware of the what the four-piece could achieve. The Irish lads impressed me with their sound, and I found myself coming away from the experience with a smile on my face- knowing that some future-stars were in our midst. There was the rambunctious fun and sensation of The Libertines; a modern sound that was relevant and familar- yet with embers of some of the great acts of old. Above all, the lads had a kinship and tightness that augmented the music; made everything come alive and feel urgent. It is obvious that there is a lot of affection in the band, and the buisness of music means a great deal to our quartet. The lure of demand has brought them from their native shores, to ours; they are in the midst of a busy year, which will see them touring far and wide. Given the reception from the release of their self-titled L.P., it is no surprise; they will be getting gig requests from many more venues before this year is through. I shall go into more depth about their music and qualities in time, yet I feel that Raglans have a sound that is transferable to the likes of the U.S. and Canada. When I featured acts such as Issimo, Univeral Thee, The Glass Child and Jen Armstrong, the abiding sounds being presented had elements of U.S. music; flavours of something continental- meaning international markets are much more likely to latch onto it. In this same sense, Raglans have a Rock/Indie template that shows homegrown (and British) hallmarks, yet is imbued with elements of American and European music. I am sure (that in a year or so), orders will be coming in thick and fast from the U.S.; New York and L.A. will be knocking at the door; Australia will be lining up, as will Europe- take my word for it! At the moment, the dust is still not settled from their album release, and the boys are familiarizing themselves with new towns and faces; taking their music to as many different towns as possible. Our Raglans quartet consist:

Stephen Kelly – Lead Vocals/Guitar

Sean O’Brien – Lead Guitar/Mandolin

Rhos Horan – Bass

Conn O’Ruanaidh – Drums

The likes of XFM have featured their music, and major stations are catching on to the hypnotic charms of the Irish lads. The boys have been added to the line-up for The Great Escape festival (in Brighton); Camden Rocks have booked them up as well; plaudits and patronage has been arriving from all quarters. Let me give you a bit of background about Raglans; where they have come from, and what they have achieved: “Formed in a festival tent in 2010 Dublin based 4 piece band Raglans launched the same year. Raglans blaze a trail of muscular new wave guitars, gritty pop melodies and uplifting indie folk arrangements that hops, skips and jumps with a skill and confidence far beyond their short lifespan and brought them The King Kong Club crown late in 2011, the prize, a recording session with Morrissey’s co- writer/arranger/guitarist Boz Boorer in his Sierra Alta studio. Raglans kick started 2012 in an imperious fashion with the witty, charmingly shot Beatlesque video for “The Man From Glasgow” (filmed by “insanely talented” young Finn Kennan) clocking up thousands of YouTube hits. Debut EP “Long Live” was the first release on Whelans’ record label launched in Ireland and the UK May 2012. The bands songwriting skills and musical camaraderie shine all over an EP that announces this vibrant, talented band to the world. Raglans followed the release with a video for the lead track of the EP, “Digging Holes” which went viral, adding to the 100,000 views of Raglans through YouTube. Such was the impact of this video that at their live shows large swathes of the audience are seen replicating the moves. The band have been touring since the release appearing at all the major Irish festivals including Westport, Sea Sessions, Indiependence, The Volvo Ocean Race, No Place Like Dome, Knockanstockan, Festival of Fires to name a few. Raglans will then head off to the UK for their first headline tour before returning for more Irish dates“. The online following of Raglans seems to be increasing daily. On Facebook, they have well over 5,000 fans; their Twitter support base stands at over 2,500 (followers)- their stock is very much on the rise. In an industry that is capricious and fickle, it is incredibly hard getting support; harder still to get recognition- near-impossible to make it ‘big’. Our heroes are clearly doing something right; it seems that critical pens have effusively been singing the praises of their album. Below are a few examples of what is being said amongst the music media minds:

“… upbeat, feelgood guitar pop with a raucous sense of youth. This is reflected in the band’s lyrics as well, with single ‘Lady Roll Back The Years’ dealing with a close encounter with an older woman, who the band refer to as harbouring ‘dastardly intentions’. The album boasts a refreshing lack of pretension seen and heard in many new guitar bands swapping the bravado and posturing for a sense of fun and what it means to be young“.

One listen to Raglans’ debut album and you’ll understand why their reputation for live performances precedes them. The Dublin four-piece write the sort of fun, anthemic indie-pop that fills venues and festival tents with a feelgood ambience, taking the Beatles blueprint for three-minute classics and twisting it to fit their own agenda“.

The Irish Times

With its mix of youthful exuberance, vigour and passion it should at the very least provide the soundtrack of this summer for more than a few Irish revellers. Expect to hear a lot more from these lads over the next twelve months, they are the real deal“.

Golden Plec

One listen to their self-titled debut will tell you exactly why, too. Their brand of catchy, no frills, rock & roll has already proved a hit with live audiences on tour with the likes of The Strypes, themselves alumni of the ‘next big thing’ tag“.

This scrappy Dublin quartet are slowly but surely putting themselves on the radar. Raglans recently toured the UK supporting The Strypes, they’ve achieved some mainstream radio airplay and next month they’re embarking on a headline tour in the UK. Their debut album is set for release today and it’s jam-packed with feel-good tracks that will ensure you don’t forget them in a hurry“.

Culture Fly

These guys are certainly one of the forerunners of the indie scene that deserve to be more widely recognised“.

Music Review Unsigned

First saw these guys live in London touring with the Strypes and loved them straight away! So happy the album was out so soon after hearing about them and have been listening a lot since I bought it! Perfectly made album that’s so good to blast through start to finish, especially love listening on the road! Good vibes and can’t wait for more Raflans!”.

Will Roberts (on iTunes)

The sounds currently flooding my ear canals are so goddamn cheerful. With their charging guitars and all-conquering ‘Da Da Da’ refrains, The Raglans certainly recall the golden era of indie rock, particularly bands like Dirty Pretty Things and The Pigeon Detectives.”


A dance for feet, imagination, and emotions, the self-titled debut album from Irish band Raglans is a magnetic introduction to a band which has already brewed up approaching feverish attention around home city Dublin and the wider landscape of Ireland. That spotlight is sure to be expanded as the infectious adventure of their album takes the hands of UK passions and leads them in its thrilling melodic waltz. The eleven song blaze of captivating sounds and insatiable energy provides all the reasons as to why the indie-folk quartet has swiftly made a major mark back home and will soon have wider fields spellbound you suspect“.

The Ringmaster Review

At the moment, the boys are preparing to play Oxford (before having a little rest); trying to win some new hearts. May and June will see Raglans playing various different festivals, and getting some valuable experience at playing the larger stages (to larger crowds)- the perfect platforms to allow their songs to come to life. The tracks within their debut (L.P.) have a natural summery appeal; a sunny kick- that are natural festival tunes. Before I get down to the album itself, I will conclude with one particular point: the band market in general. I have gone into some detail about the geographical location of new music acts (and how international elements are vital), yet when you consider the band market in general, it is incredibly competitive. Solo artists each have a distinct personality, and are perhaps less likely to be playing festivals- certainly true if you are a newer act. It is the bands that tend to pull in the big crowds, and as such, it is (the band market) a hugely bustling scene. I sang the praises of Crystal Seagulls recently- a London-based band whom are getting festival nods, that they have long deserved. Many other brilliant bands have struggled to get onto the ladder, and have been restricted to smaller venues and local gigs. When you get demand coming in, especially from the likes of Camden Rocks, it is a clear thumbs-up and indicator that huge things await. I hope that, in time, the likes of Reading and Leeds call on the boys; that the Isle of Wight Festival and Glastonbury keep their diaries open. I am sure the boys do not need my gold standard and high praise, but I shall give it anyway: they will be mainstays before too long. It is true that they are young and fairly new (perhaps need a few years to really solidify their talent) but all the early signs are encouraging. It is rare that bands at their stage get so much credit and demand this early, so I hope that the lads pat themselves on the back. I am sure they will not be thinking too far ahead for the moment, but it will be interesting to see where their music takes them over the next six months or so. It is the Raglans L.P. that has been setting critical tongues a-wagging, and an album that I have been immersed in.

The album’s lead-off track (Digging Holes) kicks off with a chorus of “Digging Holes!”; backed by rumbling boulders of percussion, and a youthful kick that tells of: “Now you know/Why the people don’t love you”. As soon as that line has been boisterously delivered, a shimmering and electrifying coda of percussive thuds and metal, as well as a waterfall of electronic sounds is unleashed. Scenes of an unnamed central focus watching the walls; for reasons unknown, is presented; the band asking: “What do you see?/What do you see?”. The lines and themes have a simplicity, that is designed to be remembered and sung. When the words are sung, they are done so with full-voiced conviction, and sound quite unique. There is never a sense of a band trying to emulate another: their tones and vocals are theirs alone. Our boys see “the future and the past”, but are very much in the here and now. The verses and nature of the delivery are very much ready-made for festivals and large venues, to be choruses by enraptured fans; but there is indie and folk charm to suggest that they will gain appeal from bigger radio stations. It is unsure who the figure is at the centre of the song; the subject that is being offered little solace. Their body and mind are drifting apart; they are unloved and digging themselves deeper. Usually, or for most bands at least, romance and the uncertainty of love is normally focused upon; yet it seems that there is a more masculine idol that is being picked apart. Perhaps the most defining feature of the track is the shimmering electronics and waves. They are employed to create mood and atmosphere between the choruses and verses, and make you forget about any negativity or scorn on behalf of the band, and take you somewhere calmer, and more detached. For all of the memorable simplicity, the boys have a way of offering scenes with intrigue and strangeness dripping from the seams. In the way Bob Dylan penned a venomous poem to an unnamed woman in Like A Rolling Stone, asking “How does it feel?”, Raglans do the same, instead insights such as “Like a leper on your throne” are proffered. Feelings and thoughts are key themes and topics that are dissected and examined in various ways. Backed by a tumbling and kicking musical smile- similar to Mumford and Sons only far less irritating- the question of “How do you feel” is asked; our singer feels alone, but “Alive/For the first time in my life”. No matter what vengeance or turmoil are present, there is a sense of there being a turning point afoot; no matter what bitterness is reserved for the anonymous subject, the lads themselves seem bereft of any burdens. Energy and conviction never let up, and it is this commitment to creating a sustained atmosphere and regulating any negative edges, that gives Digging Holes such an edge. Its chorus, with ‘uh-ohs’ punched and shouted, backed by folk augmentations. It is these folk touches, that give way to indie lines. A rapid-fire and glimmering passage twists and duplicates, whipping up another layer and shade of curiosity, before it is said: “This can be the start of something new”. The chorus is ridden again- and our tale comes to an end. Determined to keep the intrigue high and the energy decibel at a peak, White Lightning rushes onto the scene. After a brief sonic burst, the vocal arrives in; our hero in impassioned mood. Exclaiming that “All I do is wait/For you“, the pace and sound of has its roots in the early-Beatles period. With a nod to the With the Beatles/A Hard Days Night regency, a breezy and effortless ’60s feel washes over you. If the melody puts you in mind of the Liverpool legends, the words certainly won’t. With a powerful (yet aching) vocal, it is said that “We weren’t suppose to fall“; the song recount the tale of our (anti-) heroine; one whom is struck down by white lightning, lost it seems. Our hero admits “the lay of your land defeats me“; his mind wanders back to times where the two were in smoky rooms; listening to music that overthrew the heroine- there is a genuine sense of remembrance and passion. The sing along and happy-go-lucky charm of the chorus gets your feet moving, and implores you to duet with the band; the weaving and snaking guitar riff elicits a smile (and put me in mind of Definitely Maybe-era Oasis). I can well imagine this track being a fond festival favourite, as with the huge and raucous chorus- combined with a summery feel- hits its marks impressively. With a lot of personality, some nods to ’60s and ’90s greats, and a bucket of charm and conviction, it is a song which will burrow itself into your brain. Even after a couple of tracks, Raglans have established themselves as a band adept at employing catchy choruses; ensuring that their music has a mix of catchiness, as well as force. As you come to the end of White Lightning, you are curious and eager to see what is coming next. Natives begins in typically euphoric form; kicking up a storm of vocal chorusing and wordless chanting, there is no time to let your mind rest. With nods to Digging Holes’ sound and flair, the song gets off to the races quickly. Our hero is in considered mood: “Romance/Pathos/Lend me your ears…” he begins, his voice tender and restrained. Whereas the opening salvos have displayed a bolstered and striking energy, here things are taken down a notch- at first. Lamenting on things past, and “wanting what you never had“, subtle (yet potent) percussive backing adds weight to the words; guitars shimmer and twinkle- creating shafts and bursts of light. Not intend on letting things regress to a dour and morbid state, our boys soon take matters into their own hands. Again, there is an emphasis on memorable lyrics; using simplicity in order to lodge their words into your conciousness. Rallying words, “We are what we are” are met with pulsating and jittering percussive slams; the guitars and bass burst and join the fight. The song deals with a lot of hard truths; facts of life that (perhaps regretfully) our hero has to accept (“Work hard…no choice“), proceedings not only investigate wider issues and themes; but its messages can be extrapolated by anyone listening. Natives retains the band’s hallmarks of wordless and catchy vocal lines; huge and memorable choruses- yet introduces something new. Brass notes and subtler and romanticized guitar moments are added to the palate, and to my mind, the song is richer and more layered than previous numbers. The vocal performance- from our hero as well as the band as a whole- hits hardest when the mood is calmer; when things are more introverted and reflective. It is said that “Decisions define“; there is a sense of breathlessness with the delivery and energy of the final minute-or-so- the boys are in philosophical mood. By the time the song reaches its climatic moments, you get the sense that another festival-ready track has been unveiled. Although dealing with (occasionally) harder themes, there is an unabated sense of energy and momentum throughout, and is a song that will connect with a lot of music-lovers. Before Tonight contains the most memorable intro. of the set (to that point). A delicate and tip-toeing (electric) guitar coda gives way to a rumbling and stirring percussive rally. Mixing Punk energy with classic Pop beauty, the introductory moments show that the guys are concerned with emotional fortitude and nuance- as well as direct anthemics. Whether speaking to a specific subject or the world at large, our hero asks: “Let’s get along/In this hole where we were born“. As lines reveal themselves, you get the impression that a sweetheart is being spoken to. Sure that this is what our hero wanted, now he is not so sure; doubt and uncertainty creep into his thoughts. Yearning and romantic of voice, it is hoped that (the song’s subject was here) “to clean tyhe rust from all my years“. As is expected from the Irish quartet, they manage to blend sensitive with energised rushes. If you think you are settling in for a romantic ballad, then think again. Before long, vocals are multiplied and proceedings turn towards anthemic avenues. With a (repeated) message of “Before tonight/We were waiting“, guitar, bass and drums combine and spar to elicit a hugely evocative sound. To my ear, Kelly has a slight touch of Alex Turner in his voice (it is slight), yet you can hear some embers of Arctic Monkeys in the songs as a whole. Whereas the Sheffield outfit tend to come across as a little spiky and moody, here there is an abiding positivity to be found. Kudos to the guitar work throughout which is not only consistently strong, but changes course and direct seemlessly- giving the track additional gravity and potency. “Don’t let it rain on me” are some of the final words sung, and are done so with a c’est la vie attitude- never a band to let life get them down. With a deliciously cheeky outro., Before Tonight ends its life. It is a song that boasts the strongest band performance to date, and one of the most fully-rounded and intriguing vocal performances. The Man From Glasgow comes equip with a machine-gun first few seconds. The intro. put me in mind of Kilamangiro; there is the same jittery and pummeling pace of that of Babyshambles’ hit. Our hero sends his thoughts to a central figure; whether it is a man known to the band or someone fictional, I am not too sure. Opening words paint the picture of someone whom is perhaps not too fondly regarded: “If I had legs like you/I’d love to run“. Perhaps that is my interpretation, but the way the words tumble and are roll, give the song a huge sense of excitement. Sitting down with the song’s subject, it is said “I got a kid, I got a wife/I got rich, I got poor“. I guess there is not that much spite at its heart, as our hero says (when speaking to the song’s “boy“): “The things you want/Are the things you’ll find“. With the Raglans voices bellowing and chorusing, some truths and facts are laid down. Our hero lets the boy know that dreams may sink; events may not work out as hoped- yet in time he’ll become the man he wants to be. The Man From Glasgow boasts one of the most naturally carefree vocals of the L.P. Kelly seems less anxious and wracked; whether he is speaking to a familiar face or not, there is the idea of everything-will-be-okay- like a father sitting his son down and reassured his mind. Once more, certain words and phrases are repeated and emphasized; here is another track that has a large audience in mind. Whilst not as emphatic and anthemic as earlier tracks, the song earns its stripes with its composition and lyrics. The band have broken away from themes of love and personal doubt, and towards something new. The words are intelligent and simple at the same time, whilst the composition is varied and striking. A lot of bands would choose one pace or sound and provide few diversions and shifts; Raglans ensure that they do not let themselves do this. As a consequence, the song is one of the strongest so far, and a track that will be getting a lot of airplay in the future. Beginning with a cooing and melodic round of vocal “ooh“-ing, Fake Blood arrives. By this stage in the L.P., you get the sense the boys have figured out what their sound is going to be, and what components they want to present (in each song). Lightness and sweet melody is there; a breezy and summer-time feel as well- and, of course, the vocal sing-along. If each song sounded the same it would become grating and dull, yet this is not the case. Nature and meteorological components are used as metaphors for deeper emotions. Our hero seems “buried in the snow“; for all that happens and is known, “Rivers run deep/Rivers run cold“. Looking at childhood streets and harsh, nightmarish memories, our hero confesses: “I can still see visions in the night“. Perhaps for a track that deals with slightly darker issues, it seems unusual that the band unveil another upbeat vocal backing- but it seems to work. I guess proceedings need to be kept level, but it is a song that is crying out for something heavier and deeper. Whether the lads wanted to keep hold of their jocular and all-is-well aesthete, I am not sure, but it is not a facet that is too distracting or harsh. Words here are less direct and more oblique; “Rome was built before its time” and “When rivers run out/When rivers run dry” seem to have various meanings and interpretations. Perhaps not an album stand-out or favourite, but another strong track that suggest that Raglans find it impossible to be downbeat- energy and force are elemental to the guys. The opening moments of Not Now put me back in upbeat mode. After a slight dip, the rush and alacrity of the intro. spikes your attentions and elicits a smile. Our hero’s voice is full and alive in the embryonic moments; “Wake up, wake up/Take it while you’re young” is a rousing call-to-arms. There is a sense of mortality and capturing life in its purest form; when it is said that “nothing lasts forever“, you can hear the conviction come through. The percussion crackles and slams, both keeping time and driving the song forward. The boys are in vocal unison, yet it is more appropriate here- given the song’s themes and ideas. When our hero says “I hear you calling/I hear you falling“, the vocal backing is brilliant deployed. Perhaps with a bit of Liam Gallagher-esque sneer and swagger to the vocal, our frontman asks: “Teach me the value of tradition“. The track has a sound that seems ready-made for XFM and BBC Radio Two alike- there is that sense of modern youth as well as matured and wise. The composition is effective and evocative, yet not too intrusive. When all the sonic and vocal elements are combined, you get the sense that another fan favourite could have been discovered. I am not sure how the band interpret their songs in the live arena, yet it will be interesting to hear. Anyway, as the song comes to its conclusion, we are heading into the final third- and waiting to see what our quartet have to offer. On iTunes– and social media- there seems to be a frontrunner and standout track: (Lady) Roll Back The Years. With 17,000 YouTube views and a heap of praise, it is a song that seems to resonate with most. With a chugging and distorted snippet of feedback, the track blends into light-hearted acoustic guitar strums- before mutating into electric guitar. The percussion tumbles and barrels, as the vocal “uh-oo“s mandate. There is a sense of The Fratellis in the early stages; a similar energy and rousing kick. Early words speak of the “cold winter nights“; our hero looks into the innervisions of the song’s subject; foolhardy to think that he thought she could “make a young man of me“. There is a feeling of heavy shoulders and weight-of-the-world-burden; a sense of fatigue has crept in. Feeling further away from London, and “even further/From Dublin“, you get the feeling that there is a sense of detachment and loss; home is far behind and- whether this is seen as a good thing or not- our man is itinerant and wandering. Not knowing where he’ll be, he still hopes that his girl comes a-calling- “These days are all that we’ve got“. Perhaps yearning for past days and former years, our hero wants (his beau) to roll back the years- “Nothing stains your eyes like regret“. It seems that the last chances (to feel youthful and free) arrive with “Cheap tricks and romance“; gone, perhaps, are the best days of youth. High Road gets down to business pretty snappishly; leading off from where (Lady)’ left off, a weaving and swaying intro. is unleashed. Early sentiments see our hero taking the high road “after all the low blows“; apparently speaking to a (former) sweetheart, the frontman is under attack- when his subject over-reacts. Entrenched between a rock and a hard place, the downsides and anxieties of love are laid bare; heart-stopping moments are produced after “the penny dropped“- all, perhaps, is not well in the soul. Whereas the previous track implored his girl to revitalise an ageing spirit and re-envoke some lost youth, High Road yearns for safety and compromise. Maybe the early flourishes and rose-tinted glasses of love have been left long behind. When it is said that “We’ve been dreaming/Wish we could have known“, it seems there may be no way back. Raglans manage to keep the mood buoyant and not succumb to woe-is-me pouting. Perhaps fitting of the (song’s) title, the energy levels are kept high; ensuring that the sing along potentiality is kept in tact. The penultimate track, Down, arrives in a flurry of balls-to-the-wall vocals. “Falling down/All the way down” are thoughts delivered in full and euphoric voice; the boys singing from the parapet, or inside of a bottle of whiskey. With no musical accompaniment, the voices do the early work; weaving and imploring- retreating and blending. To counterbalance the rambunctiousness of early stages, a lilting and melodic mandolin parody arrives. With touches of Losing My Religion R.E.M., the song changes course, and stabilises. The vocal utterances of our hero are breathy and tender in the early stages- a departure from previous numbers. Telling us, that there is no life in these “shotgun towns”, there is a somnambulistic and dreary scene; where no one moves or “makes a sound“. Beneath the shadow of a setting down, our hero crawls all the way down, to the bottom “where it can’t be found“. Previous songs have touched on lost youth, fragmented love; wise words and bloodshed streets- here there is some personal dissatisfaction, and a need to move on. With “A thousand lines/divide in my mind“, our hero has messed up somewhat (it seems); and is falling down to earth. His cohorts keep the mood- once more- in check with their choruses of emphatic vocals. Perhaps with their minds and bones in a bar (drowning their sorrows) the song has a scrappy charm; you are always rooting from the frontman, and hoping that he’ll land on his feet. Musically, it is a departure from other songs. The employment and dominance of mandolin is impressive and gives the track a richer sound. In terms of the overall sound and theme it is not a huge departure, yet a song which keeps the core sound in tact- whilst adding new shades and colours. As the final track remains, you begin to reflect on the album, and absorb the myriad themes and sights that have been presented. That swan song arrives in the form of Born in Storms. Faint and relaxed mandolin strings are superseded by a bolstering and augmented voice; our hero retreating to his own biography. Speaking of his birth and early life, the young man has “chased down every hole“. Wonder “how did it come to this?”, our lead is almost looking back on life; standing in a spot and wondering where the time went. With his brothers in supportive voice, our hero realises: “Before I knew it I was a man“; the song looks at past events and circumstance. Privilege was offered, but our hero built himself a wall he knew he could climb; carved out his own way through. The composition- aside from some punchy percussion- is not too heavy or hard, instead relying on the swing and sway of the vocals and guitar. The mandolin touches are light but effective; guitar and bass effectively deployed, scoring lines that talk of “All of this land between us“- seeming like a million miles away- leads our hero to state: “We were born in storms“. The very last seconds fade down and the song comes to its conclusion, thus does the album itself. With the silence upon me, it was time to reflect on Raglans; how it has effected me- and how the music left its marks.

Some critics have been a bit ambivalent and luke-warm; proclaiming the band are a bit too new and fresh to really make an impression. There definitely is room for the band to grow and expand, but on the evidence of their debut, I was hugely impressed. Perhaps it is because the lads play the kind of music I love, but I could find no fault with their L.P.- quite the opposite in fact. Each song offered something original, fascinating and memorable- lines and compositions are still swirling around my brain. It shows that festival bookings have been no fluke; there is no ‘luck of the Irish’, either- the boys have been deserving of all the success they have accrued. One or two of the tracks do not hit their high standards, but even the ‘weaker’ numbers are still brilliant. Our Irish heroes have a knack for whipping up evocative imagery and drawing you into their music; encapsulating your attention and thoughts over the course of a few minutes- there is a great deal to recommend. As much as anything, the overall sound is hugely impressive. When reviewing the album, Louder Than War stated the following: “Nothing that Raglans do is revolutionary, but they do do it with a confidence and a contagiousness that is rarely seen. It’s not a classic either, but it is very very good and if this is the way they are starting their career then they have some big times in front of them“. Classic relies on longevity and experience, and new bands- unless you are amongst the legends- produce something world-class right off the bat. Being ‘revolutionary’ is a hard thing to obtain in music, and these are- as the publication admits- minor points: the ‘big future’ is the big news. The Irish Times wrote: “… although the catchy vocal hooks may be built for audience participation, their overuse on record ultimately translates to a slightly homogenous album“; but went on to say that “The Dublin four-piece write the sort of fun, anthemic indie-pop that fills venues and festival tents with a feelgood ambience, taking the Beatles blueprint for three-minute classics and twisting it to fit their own agenda“. I feel that the album has a sense of individuality; of a band cementing their own personal sound and motifs.  Whilst some may see it as homogenized, the truth is, that it is hard to compare Raglans with any other bands. Classic elements and some familiar tones can be detected, yet the boys are no fools: they have crafted a work that is very much their own. The hooks and sing-along festivities are rife, and it will be great to see the crowds of Camden and Brighton bouncing along to them- singing the band’s songs with reckless abandon. From all the reviews I have read, there seems to be the consensus that the guys are going to be big news. One or two have been imperious when it comes to some of the content; the production sound and originality, but that is their opinion- and surely will spur the lads on to up their game come album number two. The production is clear and crisp, yet not too polished or over-done. The album wins its stripes because of its utilitarianism and universality. It is not a collection that will alienate certain people; appeal to a delineated or clandestine core- it is music for the masses. Endorsements have come in from the likes of Ricky Gervais and Dermot O’Leary, and it is no shock. The music on offer has such a range, that there are Radio Two-ready anthems; Radio One-esque Rock gems- as well as scrappy outsiders that the likes of XFM and Absolute Radio adore. I know that Cuckoo stable mates such as Annie Drury have enjoyed some prestigious play from Radio Two, and I am sure that Raglans will experience this very soon. Their album is not going to purely be aimed at the 18-3o demographic; those whom prefer their music fast and urgent- there are softer moments and plenty to appeal to all age ranges. I have not met the boys (I hope to rectify this), but you can hear the personalities shine through. In the same way as Oasis and The Libertines poured their blood and thoughts over each of their albums, so too do Raglans. Our heroes should be very proud of their debut (album), and is a fine testament to a hungry band, intent on world-domination. The band arena is one that plays host to a great deal of players. Some of the legs to make their way to the top; a few are capable of legendary status- yet most only shine for a brief moment. We are in the embryonic stages, but Raglans possess enough chutzpah, direct and ballistic intent to signal a group very much intent on sticking around- for the long-term. Leeds-based Cuckoo Records have another treasure in their locker, and I know that they have high hopes for the boys- and are immensely proud of their progress. When they play Brighton in a couple of months-or-so, I hope to be there and see what all the fuss is about. Judging from reviews I have seen, they are a formidable live force, and their engaging stage presence has been highlighted. It is clear that 2014 is going to consist or many (wonderful) gigs and scene changes; new faces and crowds will get to hear Raglans’ music up close and personal. What happens after that is anyone’s guess, but I am sure that new music and new horizons are a distinct possibility- after a well-earned bit of time off! For now, digest their self-titled album and its myriad charms as their music is tailor-made for warmer and happier skies. Get out there and see the boys play live, and see what you reckon. As sure as anything…

I shall see them very soon.

 WE NEED YOUR HELP! We’re working on a lil’ som, som and we want to know what’s your favourite track on our newly released debut album? Let us know. You’re feedback would be greatly appreciated!____________________________________________________________________

Track Listing:

Digging Holes9.4/10.

White Lightning- 9.3

Natives- 9.4

Before Tonight- 9.5

The Man From Glasgow- 9.4

Fake Blood 8.8

Not Now- 9.2

(Lady) Roll Back The Years- 9.6

High Road- 9.4

Down- 9.4

Born in Storms- 9.3

Standout Track: (Lady) Roll Back The Years


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Album Review- Gypsyfingers: Circus Life.




Circus Life



The album, Circus Life is available from 2nd May


St Pancras Old Church, London

The L.P.’s lead single, Eating Me is available from:


Victoria Coghlan and Luke Oldfield fuse beautiful soundscapes and multiple genres to create a dreamy blend. Their inaugural L.P. is guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs and inspire the mind- as well as linger long in the memory.


MUSIC duos are a dynamic that are somewhat rare (in the modern scene).

Historically, there have been a fair few ply their trade, yet few that remain the memory. To my mind, the greatest of all time is The White Stripes. Having seen the band at Alexandra Palace (after the release of Get Behind Me Satan), I can pay testament to just how incredible they are (live). In fact, as I type- their greatest album- White Blood Cells is spinning. It is an album that never fails to amaze me; each song seems to reveal a new treasure or secret- it is a work filled with nuance and timeless joy. The White Stripes worked so well, because of the bond between Jack and Meg. Being formerly married (they perpetrated the ruse that they were brother and sister- to avoid press intrusion and gossip), there was a natural combination of intuition and conflict; a sense of loyalty, understanding and parabond. The Detroit twosome’s third album was not only a leap forward; it retained their core sound but augmented it emphatically- as well as signified a spectral and qualitative move forward for music at the time. During 2001, music was transitioning from the decline and burial of ‘Brtipop’; changes were taking place, and people were looking around for new and inspiring sounds. White Blood Cells is a 16-track collection of near-impecable genius. Aside from the odd track (I find We’re Going to Be Friends a bit too saccharine and slight), I am stunned at just how phenomenal the album is. No band today would have the nerve to record tracks like Aluminium or Little Room; few could match the contrasting brilliance of Hotel Yorba and Fell in Love with a Girl– tracks I Can Learn and I Can’t Wait will not help but grow and reveal their charms. Of course, the duo went on to create three more brilliant and fascinating albums (before they dissolved in 2011). We all know that Jack White has gone on to work with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather (as well as a solo act); yet I feel that he was at his strongest as part of a duo. Aside from the defunct Michigan band, the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Daft Punk, Steely Dan and The Carpenters have all made their marks on the music world. If the chemistry is right, then the music made can exceed expectations; inspire generations- and transcend the sounds of solo artists and bands. Aside from Daft Punk, most of the all-time great duos have succumbed to entropy. When looking around in the modern scene, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that worthy successor are rising through. Ohio’s The Black Keys are a Garage/Blues riot whom are leading the second wave (of Garage music), and are one of the best acts on the scenes. More than mere White Stripes appropriators, the bond of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney has enforced some incredible sounds- which has seen them scoop their fair share of Grammy Awards. You can tell by my list of duos, that none emanate from the U.K. Traditionally, our nation has always favoured (and promoted) solo and band music- we have not spurned our fair share of duos. The scene is changing, and a resurgence is occurring. Recently I reviewed (which they ignored) Royal Blood; a Brighton outfit making serious waves. Reviewer bitterness aside, I find their music to be some of the strongest of the moment. BBC are tipping them as one of their acts to watch, and their White Stripes-cum-Queens of the Stone Age Rawk riot, is something we will all be hearing a lot more of (this year). Australian/Swedish sister duo Say Lou Lou (another act I have surveyed), their “organic ethereal music landscapes with flowing instruments and vocals” have captured a multitude of minds and ears. As well as U.S./U.K. wonders The Kills, we have Brighton’s own Blood Red Shoes- two distinct acts with a boy-girl dynamic. I raise the discussion, because I am always on the look out for new and different music; with an original componency- where the bond of the musicians is solid and creatively conducive. As much as I love featuring solo acts, you are always looking at the one person; shining the spotlight on the output of a sole human being- songs formed by that one individual. With bands (as there are usually four or five members), it is often more about the music- rather than the bonds. With music duos, you not only get to witness a (ersatz or real) relationship at work, but also the people behind. The band market has enjoyed an hegemony and dominance for many-a-year now, and I feel that musical two-pieces are going to be leading a charge. The likes of The White Stripes have shown just how good music can be in the hands of two people; there is greater force than with a solo act but the equivalent majesty you would hear with a band- it is music at its most compelling and economical. I guess a lot of musicians are fearful of forming duos, afraid that they may not be able to summon up the same amount of force and conviction (as a band). I hope that this policy changes (very soon), as a lot of terrific music and partnerships are being missed out on; but, for now, let me introduce you to my featured act.

In the course of my travels, I have had the pleasure of reviewing only a few acts who are based in (and hail from) the south of England. As well as my international feature-ees, most of my U.K.-based subjects are either situated in Yorkshire or Scotland (and occasionally the Midlands). A few of my recent reviews have looked at London-based acts; yet there seems to be a surfeit of Home Counties acts, currently making big impressions. Before I get more into Gypsyfingers themselves, here is a little biography: “Gypsyfingers is the collaborative musical creation of songwriter Victoria Coghlan & songwriter/producer Luke Oldfield (son of Tubular Bells’ Mike Oldfield) who blend the genres of folk, pop, spoken word, classical and electronic embedding their magical songs in subtle soundscapes. Victoria and Luke play almost all sounds and instruments themselves creating a modern orchestra of acoustic and electric instruments and textures. Multi-instrumentalists Victoria and Luke met in 2011 in London after Victoria returned moved back to her birth town from Paris. She was involved in underground gipsy, dance and rap music scenes there. Luke’s background is in rock and folk music and he runs Tilehouse Studios where his production skills were honed from a young age. Victoria and Luke’s contrasting musical backgrounds fused and soon blossomed into an intriguing and fresh-sounding collaboration, which they would work on recording during studio down-time. Victoria and Luke share vocal and songwriting duties with Victoria as the lead voice and writer. Victoria’s classically-trained intimate vocals go against the grain of recent popular culture’s trend for smokey, belting female vocalists (Adele, etc.) instead inviting the listener to listen more closely to the poetic and at times playful lyrics. The production of Luke Oldfield allow Victoria’s soft vocals space to breath and be heard, whilst building subtle musical worlds around the songs for listeners to explore“. You can see that duo have quite an extraordinary story behind them. I have known Luke for a while now, and familiar with his previous incarnations (playing in bands) and producing work. He is in love with music, and always keen to find the best and brightest around, and- in his role as producer- bring the best from them. A prolific guitarist and musician he was fortunate enough to have played at the opening ceremony of The 2012 Summer Olympics. Victoria has a striking beauty that is hard to ignore, and a voice that is unlike any I have witnessed. There is a definite trend for any singer to be the same as what is ‘in vogue’ or ‘trending’. As of 2014, the likes of Adele are still hugely favoured, and every dreary and awful (female) talent show contestant comes across as a third-rate knock-off. Setting aside my gripe and issues with ‘talent’ shows, the fact of the matter is this: we do not need another Adele. The best and richest voices stem from a unique source; those whom are determined to be themselves and present something that is unfamiliar to the listener- yet offers something wonderful, inspiring and fresh. It is no surprise that Oldfield and Coghlan are such a harmonious and successful duo. Aside from the bond of their relationship, the two share a love for evocative and spellbinding sounds; the need to be striking and original- whilst giving their public something cannot get from another act. As much as I love duos such as Royal Blood and Blood Red Shoes (aside from a shared blood type), there is not too much distinction to be found (both acts hail from Brighton). U.S. frontrunners such as The Black Keys are a little ahead of the likes of Royal Blood, but- even here- there is not a lot to choose between them. The styles and genres favoured may be different, but there is a definite emphasis on heavy sounds; in summoning up Blues and Rock sounds- with the key consideration being given to the sound rather than lyrics or the voice. Gypsyfingers are a leading a charge of duos whom not only can weave magic with their sounds, but also capture you with their words and voices. On May 2nd, the duo play at St. Pancras Old Church to launch the Circus Life album, as well as introduce some new faces to their music. On social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Gypsyfingers have a solid (and growing) following, yet I feel that they deserve more (fans). Whilst still being in their infancy, and making their first big strides, the duo are a name to watch very closely. Recently Coghlan and Oldfield have enjoyed the splendours and public transport of Brussels- as they were filming the video for their song, Return. A lot of work and effort has been expended over the past few months, ensuring that their L.P. is as strong as possible- it is a dedication to music that few other (new) acts share. Over the last few days, our duo have released the video for the song Eating Me– the lead-off single from the album. The video, shot in black-and-white (shot entirely on Super8) has a classic and noir feel to it; with Coghlan depicted in various scenes (including woodland) as the heroine. Interspersed with snippets of Oldfield, the promotional video is a perfect visual representation of the song, and as such, has been gathering positive and glowing reviews- many effusive commentators have added their praise to the duo. Our pioneering twosome have made some big leaps over the last year or so, forging and cementing their sound, and drawing in new and varied influences. Their previous E.P. (Gypsyfingers) was successfully received, and last year saw orders come in from all over the continent- including France, Belgium; Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  It seems that the duo already have a dedicated and multi-national following, which could provide tantalising future prospects. All of their previous history and movements have led them to the here and now- and the release of their debut L.P…


Circus Life starts with snaps and fireworks. There is no languid lead in or silence; instantly we are off to the races. Percussive dance and hypnotic rhythm is elicited in the initial seconds; imploring you to listen hard- and grabbing your attention in the process. As a flowing and gorgeous (electric) guitar parable is laid in, the mood starts to build, and intrigue begins to rise. The intro. is succinct but effective, and portrays a breezy alacrity and sense of relaxation; as the listener is gently carried along. When or heroine’s vocals arrive, it is effective and emotive. With a slight edge of Kate Nash and Lily Allen (although sweeter and more striking than both), Coghlan tells tales where the people “Stay out late at night“.  Featuring an (unnamed central) figure; here is someone whom is “looking for someone more original“. With no phone credit or money to speak of, the song’s subject is making her way through life. Backing our heroine’s emotive and soothing voice is Oldfield whom uses electric guitar to perfectly parabond with the vocal line. Whereas most bands or acts would aimlessly weave a guitar pattern (that is detached from the vocal in terms of pace and sound), here it is almost like an additional voice; it augments the central voice but also duets perfectly. As the story traverses on, it seems that our (anti)-heroine is a little naive under it all. Her heart is gold and open, and she appears overly-trustful; as Coghlan explains: “You’re losing focus“. The crowds and friends are looking at the song’s subject, and whilst sympathising with her plight and predicament- apparently they are the only ones who see it. The song’s lyrics are brought to life by the vocal delivery, which has a clear skip in its step. Rather than being rushed or slowed, the words are given consideration; they pop and spark; kick and sway. Our heroine’s voice is clear and concise, meaning that the words are clearly audible (a lot of acts mumble or slur their words)- allowing the listener to be immersed within the tableaux. The song’s focal point loses her grip (on reality) by the second. Spending her money on whatever she pleases, the sense of naivety and recklessness is emphasised. I am not sure if our key character is based on a real-life influence (or is fictional), but everyone can relate to the type of person being described. With a modern-day Romeo and Juliet scenario being played out and witnessed, the song’s heroine has dispensed with her (former) beau- and is moving on in life. Our heroine unveils a wordless vocal parable (almost signalling the end of Act One); as guitar and vocal layers are infused- adding weight to proceedings. Coghlan is in reflective mood; sitting down drinking, she ponders events. “Bottled-up thoughts and tensions” are at the fore; yet it seems that alcohol’s effect in loosening the mind is very much needed- to rid her mind’s “constipation“. Whilst our heroine is laughing at the irony, she is “carried away at how it’s supposed to be“. The way that the words tumble almost rap-like leaves your mind racing as you keep up with Coghlan’s words. In terms of the delivery and pace, I got a faitn hint of West End Girls (a slightly faster version of it); and could not help but elicit a grin. Whilst our heroine takes a breath, our hero provides a guitar break that provides progression, punctuation- as well as a change of pace. With notes of Mark Knopfler (and Steely Dan), Oldfield’s twinkling notes tee up our heroine- for another round of slice of modern life anxiety. It is said that all of this- the overspending, naivety and doubts- are just how we live life today; how it would be good if someone could “read (my) mind“- the futility is just a part of the reality of the times. As the track reaches its climax (with another round of vocal wordlessness), a lot of ground has been covered; questions raised and pondered; lives investigated- a relevant and striking opening gambit. Circus Elephant’s embryonic steps are more relaxed and soothing than the opening track. With a gorgeous acoustic guitar arpeggio, the initial words paint striking pictures: “Born out of freedom/To a world that’s not my own“. Our heroine’s voice is less effusive and sunny than before; it has the same drive and passion but is more downbeat and serious. Seeing her mother shackled and tormented, realities and truths are revealed (“I knew this life was full of lies“). You instantly picture a baby elephant (as the central focus) trapped and enclosed; stuck in the circus and yearning to be free. Whether our heroine is speaking literally or using it as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of life, I am not sure; but it is an emotive and evocative track. The guitar work is particularly impressive here. In the opening phases it tumbles and rolls (like Leonard Cohen’s track Avalanche), but then changes speed and declination- creating a heady and entrancing mood. As our heroine tells that “My master beat me/I was weighed down by the shame“; voices are combined and blend to add emotion to the surroundings. Just as you think you are settling in for some calm reflection, the song explodes. Drum smashes tee up a yearning and impassioned brass coda; as gorgeous and swaying (wordless) vocals enter the fray. “Brightly-coloured fabrics” and circus scenery are surveyed, as our elephantic heroine remains ensconced within her torturous environment. Tears are shed and chains are shackled, and whether speaking about the hostility of the big top; or the strains of modern life and relationships, each line vividly sticks in your mind. The trumpets play, the show goes on (“This is just another day“), and an unfortunate fate is being accepted. The drum work is augmentative and impressive; the trumpet work impassioned (and strangely romantic); the guitar playing is gorgeous and highly effective- it is an incredibly moving and impressive composition. It is the kind of song you might imagine if Muse took on Led Zeppelin, doing Disney- it is emphatic and huge; compelling and hugely evocative. Over the course of two tracks a huge sonic shift has been unveiled, that it leaves you a little giddy- and excited to see what comes next! After the swells and operatics of Circus Elephant, the initial notes of Get Yourself Out of Town suggest a more relaxed fare. Grooving and snake-hipped guitar slithers (and what sounds like a bongo) provide our opening soundcape. Our heroine steps to the mic. to offer some sage and direct advice to (an unnamed) subject. Here is someone whom is “causing trouble“; but only they (and Coghlan) know why. Our heroine shows herself to be a vocal chameleon here. Whereas previous tracks have seen her present chirpy and Allen-esque; bold and choral- here she is in tender and sweet-natured mode. Her subject matter looks to ejected a wrong-doer from town, but she delivers her words with such a soothing and beautiful tone, that you get lost in the song. With Elizabeth Fraser-esque tones and Folk-tinged guitar work, our heroine announces: “I wanna see you/Really leaving“. The bustling and shimmering guitar work, not only puts your mind to the sun-filled countryside and shady recesses (of tall trees); it also reminds you of elements of Led Zeppelin III– and some of the greats of the ’60s and ’70s. Ambitions of The Taming of the Shrew and sticking “my fingers to my toes with glue” are coupled, as our heroine implores the deadbeat villan to leave town; and to get out of her life. The musical swathe that closes the track is achingly beautiful and picturesque- xylophone and strings bond with tender percussive tones. As the sun sets (and the fire dies), you wonder whether resolution was achieved and satisfaction obtained. Return has a bit of a Country feel to its introduction. With Oldfield on vocal duties, our hero talks of “Shadows in the doorway/Flicker down the halls“. One would imagine vacant doorways and peaceful silence, our hero sitting and wondering. When thoughts are empty, he sings: “I will fill them with your face“- there is a sense of romantic longing that is planted early on. Whether recounting the loss of a sweetheart or being separated from his love, the vocal is yearning and tender- and instilled with passion and desire. With the silence deafening, and a heart that is missing a huge chunk, our hero states that his love (for you) “is blind“. No amount of demon-praising and God-cursing implore can soothe his mind; as his romantic desire seems to be unslakeable. When Oldfield and Coghlan combine in voice, the lovers duet and intertwine- and the emotional levels rise high. In the second half, the duo combine their vocals and yearn to walk a shared road. Imploring and calling to one another to “dry your eyes“, there is hope that they will be reconciled; be with each other (soon) in body as well as spirit. Once more, an elliptical and riparian guitar intro. sets the scene; as You begins its course. Whereas Return saw Oldfield take the vocal lead, this time Coghlan returns to the spotlight. Her vocal performance has similar shades of This Is The Way– yet the themes here alternate from that song. The quick-fire (rap-like) delivery is present once again, as our heroine is caught in a quandary ( “I don’t know where I stand with you/But sometimes I feel I do“). Whereas This Is The Way looked at the inequities and harsh truth of life, here our heroine is growing wary of an individual- a friend or (fictional) partner- unsure where she stands and figures into their life. With questions that need answering, doubts prescient, our heroine asks: “Who am I to you?” (blending her voice with Oldfield’s). Delicate and plinking piano notes weave with acoustic guitar, as a musical break soothes the song’s anxieties. As the vocals come back around, our heroine wearily admits that “I’m used to people who don’t care“- as her words tumble forth. Wondering whether Coghlan will be asked to stay (or not), it is said that, even if she decides to leave by plane or vessel (“to follow the good stuff“) it will not matter- she is not sure where she stands, or what is expected from her. A sense of identity loss and detachment; a personal and emotional dislocation are evident. Our heroine is “baffled by (your) tactics” and is in need of some honest answers and clear-cut direction. As the song reaches its autumn stages, Coghlan burrows to the bedrock of her discourse (“Please tell me that I stand by you“), her voice still rife with emotional and perseverance. The track shows Coghlan display her skill for quick-fire (and quick-witted) lyrics; words trickle and fall at a rate of knots- meaning that the song grabs you hard and pulls you in. Boasting one of the most effective and memorable choruses of the album (so far), it is another triumph for the duo. The sixth track- and current single- arrives next, in the form of Eating Me. The intro. (here) is one of the most beautiful and flowing on the L.P., and has classical and romantic evocations. After the stirring opening has passed, our heroine is “seeking a remedy“; a way to put her mind at ease. Oldfield’s electric guitar tapestries blend with piano, the create a sonic sandstorm. Coghlan’s vocals are reflective and far less scattershot than in You (and This Is The Way). The entire feel and tone of the song puts you in mind of a 1950s (classic) film. There is a certain sense of bygone cinematic romance as the track progresses. Our heroine’s soul; which (like a hole) is getting “darker and deeper” perhaps takes your mind away from romanticized avenues, and towards something more haunting. As she talks of becoming weaker and thinner; of doctors and nurses carrying “curses in their purses” you can feel the shadows looming. Whilst our heroine is not “ready to go” (her words, once again, delineated and deployed with a rap-like quality), storm clouds rumble, and the soul aches. Whatever has afflicted our heroine has caused a lament; her mind seems weighed down by something troubling. The ghostly (wordless) vocals, wrapped around the piano-guitar cocktail whips up a heady and intoxicating chill. As our heroine speaks of fragility and aching bones; teachers and preachers whom provide leaches for weakness, there is a sense of mortality and frailty- of someone slowly losing her strength. Kudos goes to Coghlan, whom not only beautifully syncopated her lines (giving the song a ‘rollercoaster’ feel), but shows a real gift for words and economy of language- she manages to project a cornucopia of strange and wonderful images, over the course of a mere few seconds. With some aching and scene-setting guitar work, Oldfield allows our heroine to pervade and campaign- whilst investing a huge amount of mood and emotion. As the pusillanimous spirit of our heroine begs (once more) for remedy, the track ends- and takes us past the half-way mark. Steel Bones provides a necessary sense of relief, after the tortured images of Eating Me. The guitar-led intro.- as is almost a hallmark for the duo- sways and has an almost waltz-like quality. It compels you smile and relax; disengage any troubles- and just let the sound wash over you. Being one of the duo’s earliest tracks, it is one I am already familiar with; yet it fits perfectly into the album (there is no sense of disjointed mood or anachronism). With our heroine talking of her steel bones, which “harden as (I) grow“; her voice is a paragon of meditative calm and tranquility. With elements of the likes of The Carpenters and Sigur Ros (disparate I know, but I could hear it), Coghlan talks of “Wounded words you say…”; that are leading her dreams astray. I am unsure as to whom is causing imbalance and woes for our heroine, but any sense of recrimination and accusation is cocooned within a gorgeous dreamscape, which takes your imagination with it. The combination of vocal duetting; beautifully touching piano work and beautiful guitar melt your heart. The interplay of (classical-sounding) guitar and elongated strings put my in mind of The Cinematic Orchestra- a similar sense of graceful beauty is displayed here. It is a track that makes you think; makes you close your eyes- and drift away…and a song you will have on permanent repeat. A sudden rush of (guitar) strings and pianos opens Lump to your ears. As it gallops into view, our heroine arrives; telling some unfortunate truths (“I try to speak I just choke“). Desiring this feeling to fade away, Coghlan allows her breathy vocal to command; drawing you into her thoughts. As the acoustic strings trickle and flow like a river, our heroine speaks to an (anonymous) subject: “I’ve seen your darker inside“. Whether speaking of a friend, or else a former love, you cannot get help but be captured by the evocative and dream-like vocal; the multi-tracked waves- complete with delicately tender piano notes. Just as a sonic somnambulism casts its spells, the mood rises. Energised and jumping piano fuse with springing guitar, to whip up a delirious coda. The romantic and hypnotic parable melts with subtle strings; the pace modulates slightly- before our heroine returns to the mic. This time, Coghlan speaks of a restless and agitated soul (“She wants this feeling to fade away“); summoning up a phantasmal firestorm of (gorgeous) vocals- it is almost as though our heroine beckons from the heavens. The final seconds take the rush to a whisper; the story is recounted and told- and concludes a spellbinding track. It comes close to rivalling Circus Elephant– as the album front-runner- and (considering it is the antepenultimate track) shows that Gypsyfingers are tireless, unimpeachable and never in danger of dropping a step. Most albums tire towards the final few songs (meaning there is nothing to build up to), yet after Lump arrives, I found myself surprised at how many treats the album keeps throwing up. Lately takes its infant steps with less of a charge than Lump. The scene is set; the plaintive and beckoning guitar seems like the sonic representation of a lone figure walking a dusty road; the sun in their hair, and thoughts on their mind. Electric guitar vibrations infuse some urgency and invigoration into the picture, as our heroine comes forth. Coghlan- previously haunting of voice- is now back in direct mode; picking the bones of an emotional carcass (“I slammed you down and beat you to it“), her voice restrained yet filled with purpose. As she says (to her target) “I bet you thought I couldn’t do it“, Coghlan, once more, raps and spins her words. Defying expectation, showing bravery and- against the background of a life that has been “f****** cool“- our heroine is in an ambitious and motivated frame of mind. In spite of a sense of optimism, there are still pitfalls and hurdles that are being encountered. As the next verse arrive, her back is turned (“How could I have know that I’d regret it“); a figure whom acts the fool has let our heroine down- something that was not expected. Forgiveness has been given- something that is regretted- and Coghlan machine-guns words of recrimination and self-reflection. As our duo combine their vocals, singing about the fever and malaise that boredom has provided (“I’ve been feeling so lazy“)- a reappraised (optimism) refrain arrives. The song never slips in doleful or sombre mood; the bright and energizing guitar keeps the composition buoyant and hopeful. After the mid-point, Coghlan looks back at events; more philosophical and revitalised- she comes back to the fold. As our heroine confesses “I’ve had a second chance“- love has been found once more- she understands the meaning of the “path of (my) past“. As she contemplates “how things should happen“, it seems that whatever was weighing her down seems curcumscribed- call it ‘fate’, or reality; things have worked out. Coghlan (in the song) has the charming vocals or early-career Allen, yet her (Coghlan) words and thoughts are more compelling; her delivery much more pleasing on the ear- and the song a lot stronger than the Hammersmith-born singer has created. The final song of Circus Life arrives in the form of The Island. It is perhaps the perfect title for the final step of this musical travelogue- a final destination; a safe (haven) arrival. A tranquil and emotive intro begins our final track. Instant visions of a ship (or vessel) arriving towards an island are rustled up- perhaps appropriate, given the track’s header. It is perhaps the most stunning intro. of the ten, and put me in mind of the finest work of The Cinematic Orchestra. When I listen to tracks such as Arrival of the Birds and Transformation, I can hear some of the same beauty and grace in The Island’s opening. The vocal here is Oldfield’s; he has been collected by boats (from the island) to “take me away“. Perhaps the silence and loneliness of the isle paradise is not so idyllic; our hero yearns for another horizon- and asks for a reason why he should stay. Forever he has tried to “fit in the shapes“, his voice aches and longs. Whilst not as angelic as Coghlan’s it is a touching and honest vocal; one which is filled with meaning and conviction- and no less striking than our heroine’s. With the ship drifting in the breeze, our hero imagines the “wreckage beneath“; the darkness of the ocean; and an inescapable depth. When our duo combine their tones- backed by shivering strings- it seems as though Coghlan is playing the role of the Siren- luring our hero forth. In the same was as a track like Street Spirit (Fade Out) ends The Bends; Dream Brother ends Grace, The Island is the perfect track to conclude on- as it is not only one of the strongest, but instilled with beauty and spine-chilling moments. Arriving off of the back of a song (Lately) it is not only a stunning sonic (and mood) shift, but also a song which succinctly combines the talents of the duo. Some of the strongest moments arrive when they blend their voices, as this is true on The Island. Before you become fully entranced within the symphonic whirlpool of beauty, Oldfield is back with us. Speaking of riches (both literal and spiritually); although we are “all millionaires“, when it comes down to things it’s all just “a bucket of air“. You can imagine our hero, lying down on a boat- the island behind him- as he sets off to a new arrival. With his mind heavy, it seems that things might be alright. With a final round of spectral vocals, the song dies down- as you sit and (try to) take it all in.

On the evidence of Circus Life, I have no hesitation in predicting that Victoria Coghlan and Luke Oldfield’s Gypsyfingers bandwagon will be gathering huge steam. Previous to reviewing the album, I had heard songs such as Steel Bones– so was familiar with just what they were capable of. Their debut album is a confident and wonderful collection, that shows how the duo have grown. For anyone familiar with their previous work, you the duo’s core personality and components are present and correct- yet they have taken a big musical leap forwards. Coghlan is a singer whom is already ahead of many of her contemporaries. Whilst a lot of modern singers either favour a huge belting voice, or soft and (let’s be honest) un-captivating utterances, our heroine has managed to present and cement a voice that is unique and striking- yet has plenty of power and beauty within. As a songwriter, her palette is multifarious and stunning, and she is a talented and inventive wordsmith. Like my previous review subject (The Glass Child), not only was I captured by the music, but could relate to the lyrics. Great storytelling and poetry blends with vivid and stirring scenes and avenues- a rare treat for any listener. There are a lot of great female singer/songwriters on the scene, yet few whom distinguish themselves fully from the back. I have surveyed a few of them this year, and Coghlan is someone who can be added (very near to) the top of the list. Likewise, Oldfield adds his huge talents into the melting pot, and adds colours and huge emotional weight to every track. Being a prolific and multi-genre musician, he combines wonderfully with his cohort; his vocalisations are augmentative and hugely effective, too. It is perhaps unsurprising that our duo have a natural sympatico; yet it is surprising that they can weave their two- disparate and varied- backgrounds together: and infuses them so seamlessly. Because of their affection and kinship you can hear it come to life on the record. Nothing sounds forced or artificial across the ten tracks; everything is organic and completely seemless- what you would expect from a band/act whom had been recording for years. Similarly, there is a huge amount of confidence on the L.P. Every note and line is sung with emotion as well conviction- making sure each track sticks in your mind. The compositions are nuanced and sparse; emotive and symphonic (in places), and the sonic threads combine superbly. Whereas contemporaries such as Royal Blood have perhaps a one (or two) dimensional aesthete, the Gypsyfingers is rich and variegated. I know how much music means to both of them, and how hard they have worked on their debut- not only to make it sound as good as possible, but make sure it was recorded at all. This all comes through when you investigate Circus Life; is an opus that has its instant ‘classics’ but also a few tracks that reveal their charms (across multiple listens) a little later on. When I have reviewed albums by new acts, I often find that they tend to sag at the half-way (or two-thirds) mark, yet there is a pleasing and strong consistency in Circus Life. The production is brilliant as well; meaning that every song is as clear and concise as possible; full of atmosphere and wonder- and the running order is spot on too. One minor (non) criticism would be that you are left wanting more (after track 10); maybe an additional song or two would slake your thirsts; but such is the charm and intention of the album- it leaves you wanting more. On that note, I am sure our dynamic duo are looking to the future. Previous success has shown that they have a definite international market, and their music is such as it can be extrapolated and digested but audiences from all around the world- meaning they could be very busy, very soon. I know that nations such as France, Germany and Belgium would love their brand of song; as would larger (commercial) nations such as the U.S. and Canada. I feel that- maybe in a year or so- Coghlan and Oldfield could see themselves playing venues around the world; their unique and stirring sounds will be in demand across various nations. When we consider new music, and look around for inspiring acts and songwriters, then you should take the time to investigate Gypsyfingers. I feel that there are plenty of great bands and ‘heavier’ acts out there at the moment; with perhaps not a lot of room available for mobility and surprise. Similarly, we have our share of great solo acts- whom favour powerful vocals or something subtler- that do what they do very well. To my mind, we are bereft of duos whom offer something genuinely different (and exceptional); that which breaks away from Rock’s parable- and gives the listener and endeavouring music-lover something unique. The combined talents of our duo, as well as their natural bond and shared affection shines through in their music- they have the potential for serious longevity, and have a unabatable passion for their craft. Circus Life is an L.P. that I will be investigating for some time to come, and revelling in its myriad charms. I always advise people to pay patronage to new musicians whom are thoroughly deserving; to provide encouragement and support as much as possible. Their debut is a brilliant accomplishment, but also shows just a glimmer of what they can achieve- and how far they can go. Both Coghlan and Oldfield are itinerant and tirelessly hard-working, so they should seriously entertain the possibility of a wave in demand (for gigs and new material). For now, settle back; digest the scenes, themes and dreams contained within Circus Life– and witness a young duo intent on making big impressions. In a week that has been particular fraught and stressful to me, Gypsyfinger’s newest offering has not only provided me with a (much-needed) smile and anxiety release; but also inspired my own creative mind. I have long dreamed of snatching up Oldfield for a band of my own, yet I fear that our hero’s talents will see him taking Gypsyfingers to new horizons. Coghlan’s gorgeous voice and captivating songwriting has compelled me to pick up my pen and work on my own songs; craft my sound and try to get the best out of my own work. For all my effusive and florid words, the real proof is in the pudding- how you view their album and what the future demand will be. Dive in, and allow yourself to get lost, as our duo have created an album that will be revealing layers for many months to come. It is the sound of a two-piece with a lot to say; with a real appetite for music. As much as anything…

IT is one of the finest albums I have heard all year.


     Track Listing:

This Is The Way9.7/10.

Circus Elephant- 9.9

Get Yourself Out of Town- 9.6

Return- 9.6

You- 9.7

Eating Me- 9.8

Steel Bones- 9.8

Lump- 9.9

Lately- 9.8

The Island- 9.9

Standout Track: Circus Elephant


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Album Review- The Glass Child: I’d Like to Remain a Mystery.






The Glass Child


I’d Like to Remain a Mystery



The album, I’d Like to Remain a Mystery is available from:


Anglo-European artist Charlotte Eriksson provides “Alternative Pop with singing angels and screaming ghosts”. Her music provides escapism, ethereal beauty, raw emotion- as well as poetic illustriousness. On the evidence of her debut L.P., this stunning talent will be a huge future name to watch.


WHEN seeking out a great new act, I am often left impressed by a number of things.

Sometimes it is the music and ambition of the artist (that strikes me); occasionally it is their background and heritage that stands out- rarely do I find a musical ‘complete package’. An artists whom has a fascinating and detailed background, tied with an intriguing personality and projection is something that is a rarity in the modern scene. The mainstream and proliferation of generic solo acts has somewhat watered down the scene; few genuinely merit-worthy acts are making moves in the current climate. This point is less true when applied to bands, yet in terms of solo acts, I am at a loss to think of any that truly stick in the mind. Historically, we have had our fair share, but at the moment there is a bit of a scarcity. I have always loved Laura Marling as an artist; she is quiet and reserved, preferring to let her music do the talking- and it is music that sticks in the mind. As well as being one of the best singer/songwriters in the world, she comes across as articulate, intelligent and well-read: the epitome of what a modern-day artist should be. Located in L.A., the British-born artist seems to get better with each album. Aside from Marling, there are a couple of ‘mainstream’ artists capable of grabbing your attentions- yet it is new artists whom provide most fascination. In my course of surveying new music, I have encountered many weird, wonderful and lovely lone acts; each providing their own brand of brilliant song. From Canadian David Ward; through to Swede Anna von Hausswolff; to Brits Jen Armstrong and Second Hand Poet, there has been great variation and quality offered. Most of my ‘feature-ees’ tend to be British, and when looking to international quarters, I have been left somewhat ambivalent and jaded. Over the last few weeks I have reviewed two international acts; spent a lot of time focusing on their music- only for the subsequent review to be ignored and not acknowledged. It is a sad sign of the times that not everyone I take the time to feature will offer feedback; provide any sort of thanks or recognition- I guess it is a pitfall and cross I have to bear. It is not something that is reserved to foreign acts; and in both cases, I was not especially overwhelmed with the music on offer. My subject today is different in every sense, and I shall introduce you to her in due course. Before I do, I want to highlight a couple of other (prescient) points. As well as there being scant few acts whom provide tantalization in various areas, I have witnessed few European acts. Aside from van Hausswolff (as well as fellow Swedes, Club 8), I have heard of few European artists. Publications such as The Guardian and The Girls Are are doing their best to seek out Europe’s best, but they are amongst a minority. It is a shame, because it is here where some seriously phenomenal acts emanate. I have a love of French and German music; the Eletro artists, bands and solo talent that these nations promote. For my money, when it comes to seeking out diversity and the freshest and most vibrant music, Sweden is leading the charge. When I reviewed Dance/Disco-Pop act Club 8, I was staggered by their vibrancy, intentions and sheer quality. They tempt sunny themes and elliptical vibrancy through their mandates. Conversely, country-mate Anna von Hausswolff- with her Kate Bush-esque voice- mixes languid and symphonic church organs with something deliriously moody and striking. Her songs are mini-operas and you cannot help but to think that she will be a major star very soon. My general point is, that there is too much focus on the U.K. and U.S.- a lot of great European treasure is being left undiscovered. There seems to be a bolder sense of adventure and ambition here; a less homogenized and stagnated sense of ‘playing it safe’- greater mobility and pioneer, and as a result, more original music. My featured artists today not only provides a storybook background and loveable personality; yet has hereditary and native passion- tied with music that is both tangible and universal, but strikingly original and fresh. There seems to be (to me at least) a communication breakdown between the media, social media and music-lovers. I have mentioned a couple of publications which have a varied palette, yet most U.K.-based music sites focus too heavily on homegrown acts. It is understandable to an extent, yet many people are missing out on some of the world’s best music- for no good reason at all. When I discovered the brilliance of Los and the Deadlines (a band composed of four chaps from different corners of the globe), I was not only blown away by their music (I reviewed their E.P., Part One: Bank); but because of the kinship of the quartet. Blending different nationalities, background and personalities into the band, has not only lead to a richer and more electrifying whole, but also compelled me to seek out similarly diverse acts. I was disappointed that I happened upon the group somewhat surreptitiously; yet am grateful that I did. Keeping in touch with Niels Bakx (the band’s guitarist), I know that the Los’ boys have big future ambitions. I hope that a solution is found to a (worrying) problem; that sites are set up that are dedicated to foreign and international talent- ensuring that we in the U.K. (as well as the U.S. etc.) are made aware of what the continent has to offer. That conundrum is something we will have to solve another day, but for now, let me introduce you to someone rather special.

The Glass Child is the moniker of Charlotte Eriksson, and is someone I was made aware of via a mutual contact (Niels Bakx). Our heroine is someone whom sticks in your mind instantly. As well as being stunningly beautiful, she comes across as being born from a filmmaker’s dream. Eriksson herself confesses that her trajectory and background has all the hallmarks of a coming-of-age/fairytale saga; yet she has a pragmatic and level-headed approach to music. Before I investigate The Glass Child in more detail, I shall provide some biography: “The story of The Glass Child, Charlotte Eriksson, is one of those you usually see on movies. Only 18 years old she left everything she had and knew, family and friends, and moved to London to dedicate her life to her music and art. A vague dream about reaching out with her music became an everlasting journey about fighting for your dreams, self discovery, finding your true purpose and creating something that will mean something, now with over 25,000 dedicated followers and fans with her on her journey through her social sites like Twitter and Tumblr. Forward three years and she has started her own record label Broken Glass Records, released 4 EPs, released her critically acclaimed debut full-length ‘I’d like to remain a mystery’ in February 2013, had her single “I Will Lead You Home” reaching #2 on the Swedish Itunes-chart, was named Breakthrough Indie Artist Of The Year by Lemonade Magazine and been played on major radios such as BBC6, Sveriges Radio (Sweden) and 3FM (Netherlands). All alone, with nothing but hard work and determination she has built an incredibly dedicated community now with over 25,500 followers on Twitter, and to let her fans in on her journey even more she published her first book “Empty Roads and Broken Bottles; in search for The Great Perhaps” in April 2013, telling the true and raw story about a girl who had a dream and went for it with all her heart. The book was beautifully received and sold out after 3 days of pre-order. Charlotte is a wandering soul and after spending a year in England with nothing but a guitar and a will to search for something more, playing wherever she could play and crashing at fans’ floors, she has just made the move to Berlin, Germany, to seek new adventures and spread her music wider. “I believe in writing your own story. Do you wait for things to happen, or do you make them happen yourself?”, she says, and also shows how she’s constantly connecting with her fans in new ways. In September she released an acoustic edition of her album ’I’d Like To Remain A Mystery’, giving it away for free through Noistrade as a way to thank her fans, and the album was featured as a Top Download after only a few hours. With her constant search for new horizons the stories are endless, and to finish up a productive year she’s now releasing her new acoustic EP “Love Always, Your Tragedy”, and explains that “These songs are the letters I never dared to send. I wasn’t brave enough to speak up, so I sang instead.” “I wanted to turn my life into my art. My very existence into a poem. This is my story. It’s been a beautiful fight.” You can tell that as well as having a compelling and against-the-odds background, our heroine is determined and very much an independent spirit. I am always looking around for inspiration, and the fact that Eriksson is so young, yet has already set up her own record label- well, it is hugely impressive. Her output has been prodigious, and she is a restless and ambitious talent, intent of making huge waves in the music industry- for as many years as possible. Despite being focused and determined, The Glass Child is as a result of a combination of various musicians and input. As we speak, our heroine is in Germany and (with Bakx as well as other musicians) has been putting together the sounds, sights and sensations that will form her next L.P. To Eriksson, music is very much a collaborative and communal thing; she combines with wonderful musicians to ensure that her ideas and music are as rich as possible. This sense of openness and reciprocity is emphasised in her relationship with her fans. Having amassed a huge following across social media platforms, Eriksson has an impassioned bond with her supporters. Our heroine always seems genuinely chuffed and grateful when her music is shared, loved and well-received: it is a mutuality that has paid dividends. Too many modern artists seem rather distance or detached (with their fans); coming across as being too businessmanlike- and not projecting an air of approachability. I have featured too many acts whom do not give enough to their fans; whom seem cold and aloof- there seems no need for it. The Glass Child is a musical steamroller that is gathering huge momentum. Looking at critical reviews, it is clear that her music and artistry has hit a major chord:

Take a look now at someone who’s taken a different route to get to the mainstream and someone who’s going to shatter the notion that success is all about ‘industry’ or watered-down throwaway music. The Glass Child has broken through with some music of real depth for her fans to keep. This is how music is going to sound good again. ‘Ghost’s’ shows the makings of an icon, I believe. ”

“..she tears down walls with her music, using starkly honest lyrics and intense vocal chops to draw her listeners in and turn them inside out

There’s an ethereal beauty to Charlotte’s vocals that speaks straight from the heart. She knows how to make every word count, how to tear the emotion from every syllable.”

You will be extremely hard pushed to find an EP that gives more than “The Glass Child”, let alone a debut EP. If there is any justice in this world, Charlotte Eriksson’s talents will be given the exposure they truly deserve.”

 The kind of voice that plays with your emotions and the type of lyrics that seem so similar to you, it’s almost scary. With brilliant music to match her voice and character, The Glass Child is an artist to look out for.”

Once in a while you stumble across an artist you have never heard of before and they just blow you away.”

Our Swedish beauty has managed to win a great deal of hearts and minds thus far-and is in no mood to slow down now. As well as being a prolific and brilliant musician, Eriksson is also a novelist and poet: one whom has a genuine future in both arenas. The multi-talented star displays all of her work and ambitions on her official site (link is at the bottom of this review); and I would implore everyone to check her site out. Too many times, I come across artists whom have a sparsely sourced and empty personal site; their social media sites are meagre and threadbare- they fear that by putting in too much detail they are giving too much away. The Glass Child is an act whom not only produces brilliant and inspiring music, but also lets you into her world. Her official website has blog posts; top-10 lists of her favourite novels and albums; links to her music and photographs- as well as detailed up-to-date information. It is clear that music is an obsession that she is in awe of; something that she cannot live without: “I can’t sleep at night because how could I close my eyes when there’s a whole world out there, calling my name, waiting to be explored. I love intelligent conversations while laying on empty streets at 5am in the morning, and I love watching the sun rise over a world that is still asleep. I make mistakes and I mess up a lot, but I’m trying to learn how to be okay with that. Some days I couldn’t care less about what all of you think about my art because this is my life and all I have. But then there are days when all I want is to be beautiful and good enough and someone to count on.“. Before I get down to reviewing I’d Like to Remain a Mystery, it is worth noting that the album was released last year. I am compelled to review it, not only to introduce some terrific songs to your attention, but also to provide a snapshot of a young artist whom has already had a busy career. Her five-track E.P., Love Always, Your Tragedy is an incredible collection of songs, and a testament to a fierce and diverse talent. The music is touching and inviting; personal yet relatable to all. As Eriksson explained: “Every song on this EP started out as something I wanted or needed to tell someone. They are all letters of things I never said but wish I would have and I’m learning how to say things when I still have the chance. This EP is my letters to 5 different people who became a part of my life in one way or another, and I want these postcards to be yours. I wish we could all let each other know that we matter, and I hope that you will send this postcard to someone who might not know“. That E.P., was a bold and impressive statement from a talent pouring her heart and soul into her music. Previous to this E.P., Broken Little Winter and This Is How Ghosts Are Made were unveiled- two stellar and fine examples of a unique and stunning talent. That was then, and this (semantics aside) is now. The Glass Child lists the ‘band interests’ as “Mythologies, coffee, laying on empty streets at 5am in the morning, talking about the meaning of oceans, escapism, whiskey, tattoos, pop-bands from the 90s, eat pancakes“. They are ingredients and components that have resulted in some fantastic music. Whilst we await what Eriksson’s next album has to offer, I have been compelled to investigate her previous offering, I’d Like to Remain a Mystery.

Picture of The Glass Child

Before you get into the music itself, it is the cover of I’d Like to Remain a Mystery that makes its marks. Baring a single image of our heroine; backed by white fairy lights, casting her gaze downwards. The cover photo is scratched and aged, given it the look of something that has been handled and looked at multiple times. The mixture of stylish lettering (showing the album title and ‘band name’) set against the stirring and potent image, is both modern and classic; familiar yet highly personal and fitting. Once you take your eyes and mind from our heroine- and investigate the album- there is plenty to get your teeth into. At 17 tracks, there is a bounty of varied and brilliant music (if you listen on BandCamp you can also access lyrics to the L.P.s tracks). A combination of echoed swirls and twinkling xylophone (or electric piano) notes herald in the title track. Eriksson’s voice is soft and tender; it skips and plays; teases and breathless implores- “Can you hear me calling, calling/I’m inside that falling star/I’m not human I am your belief“. The words tumble and trickle forth- there is an emotive pause- before further lines are syncopated forth. Our heroine’s voice is delicate and passionate as she claims “I think I made a myth of my own life“; a line both heart-breaking and perfectly apt (given the almost movie-like course Eriksson’s life taken). With galloping drums, our heroine’s voice goes from a Bjork-like child-like whisper to a full-bodied belt within a few seconds. Words about music-making and writing your own history (“It’s all about the way you write it down“), mingle with scenes of doubt and confusion (“No one knows if I’m real“). Eriksson’s voice is in emphatic form as she paints the picture of a young woman; part myth, part human: unsure of which she is, and how people see her. The track switches between hot-blooded vocal strength and delicate and balletic lightness: the effect is stunning. Eriksson’s love of words and poetry are evident from the first track; perhaps emphasised (and distilled) in the track’s final thoughts: “They will take me to the ocean/spread my ash across the sea/My story will go on but /I’ll remain a mystery“. After the dramatic swells and inner-visions of the opening track; Stay arrives. Again, there is a gentle and restrained intro. (this time light finger-picking guitar); one which leads to a beautiful and romantic vocal. Our heroine is in her lover’s arms- him resting on her shoulder- the two entwined, as our heroine whisper’s “we’ll be okay“. With misty eyes and her thoughts dedicated to her (anonymous) sweetheart, Eriksson yearns for her lover’s touch (“All my fear disappear when you’re getting near“); a man whom she wishes would stay- a safe haven whom can keep her warm. There are no vocal explosions or mood rushes here- everything is kept level as our heroine weaves her voice within the acoustic guitar notes. Eriksson’s voice retains her native accent, and sounds like no one else (a rarity in modern music). Softly imploring, it appears that the absence of her man has taken its toll: “I’ve never felt so wrong/When you are gone my fire’s gone“. With a particular powerful and evocative chorus (in which Eriksson’s voice trembles and rises emotively), it is a gorgeous paen to a treasured human- you wonder whether our heroine ever got her beau back. The Haunted flows similarly to the title track; our heroine’s voice once again switching between soft and hugely powerful. Riparian images mix with oblique scenes; personal detachment and visions of escape are uttered (“Don’t track me down I was born to leave/Don’t bother my name it was never me“). As with the previous two tracks, there is a sense of not belonging; a feeling of loneliness and mythology linger within The Haunted’s (approrpriately-titled) words. It is when Eriksson strikes and belt; rises and growls, that you stand to attention. Her voice sounds at once child-like; impassioned and womanly the next- wrapped around our heroine’s unique tones. There is a clear sense of dissatisfaction and regret (“I can’t stand the thought me“); of a young woman wanted to change or to get away. Whilst Byzantine poetry and fractured protestations are unveiled, our heroine multi-tracks her voice; weaves her vocals within one another- creating an evocative and haunting mood. Backed by bass, electric guitar and drums (that switch from charming and soft to swelling), it is another personal tale from a sensitive and determined woman- and completes an impressive 1-2-3. With an arpeggio swirl of beauty (including some classical elements), Give Myself Away begins. Our heroine’s vocals and sexy and breathy; composed of some brilliant phrasing and pacing, it is perhaps the most evocative track so far. Whilst Eriksson says (to an unnamed figure) “I call you my friend/why do they keep telling me to fight you“; her voice twinkles and coos (sounding a little like Bjork in parts). As the song starts to change gears, our heroine opens up; once again thoughts turn to release and escape (“I offer you my soul, if you take me with you/I swear I give my all, if you never let me go“). Again, we witness a song that changes pace (at once fast and breathless, the next tenderly slow); one which boasts a subtle yet powerful composition- and showcases our heroine’s vocal range. As she scores words that tempt darkened thoughts (“Think I’ve gone insane/Felling something pouring in my veins“) her voice remains controlled and powerful- never succumbing to histrionics. Consumed by You sees Eriksson back in romantic longing mode; speaking to a central figure, her voice (again) is aching and tender as she pours her soul onto the page – “A heart of stone and all these things I have become/I’m consumed by you“. Whereas Stay had a composition that was largely delicate and ethereal, here upbeat and punchy drum mixes with light and ghostly guitar. Eriksson’s voice reaches fever-pitch as she strikes: “Will you pull the trigger/Tell me what to say“. It is the heaviest song of the set so far, and Paramore anthemic are sprinkled into the melting pot. With gothic imagery (“The dead will dance for me tonight“) and scenes of screaming, crucifixion and ghosts, it is perhaps the most visually evocative (and provocative) track so far. Eriksson displays her lyric talent, again mixing oblique with poetic- but it is her voice which is the star. Over the first few tracks we have heard glimpses of how powerful her voice can be; here it is rampant and huge; mixed with sweet and soft evocations it a showcase of the young artist at her peak. With initial lyrics that tell of eyes meeting, stranger and “Chemics and I forgot“; Hit The Ground fascinates with its lyrics. Whilst the vocal performance is impressive and typically assured, the way Eriksson uses language and delivers her words is fascinating. Whereas the likes of Bjork cut and paste images; mix words and odd sentiments into a single line, here Eriksson presents her most intriguing set so far. When she says “I am fallen with me starlight/Making poems out of tears”, we see the blend of oblique and poetic all at once. Our heroine delivers her words beautifully; trickling lines together; pausing and changing pace within the space of a line- wringing as much emotion as possible from the lines. Whereas the previous track is a possible vocal showcase, here the emphasise (to me) is on the words. Our heroine introduces redemptive notes (“I was lost but now I’m found“); romantic images (“Whisper softly in my ear“) with striking images (“Defreeze my soul, Lips so cold“). As it comes to its conclusion, you wonder just what our heroine will offer next. Somewhere I Belong begins in emphatic and rebellious mood. Eriksson is in anxious mood, as she whips up an early sonic storm- “Now my stomach hurts again/And I don’t know what to do“. Dealing again with belonging and finding herself, our heroine delivers one of her most impassioned vocals. Words trip and strike as her band offer up a potent and powerful backing. Lyrics range from reflective and thoughtful (“Too old to be was strong/Too young to move on“) to self-destruction (“Spending my nights on the floor again/Empty bottles all around“). A departure from what has come back before, it is the most raucous (is that the right word?) and forceful number, and one that sees our young heroine trying to find her place; again wrestling with inner demons- and trying to find happiness. With an elongated and echoed (backing) vocal and sweet-natured composition, Letdown seems to deal with compromise and having to fit around someone else’s ideal (“I can tell you exactly/what you want to hear“). Whether speaking about a lover, or society in general, our heroine is concerned; worried that the way she dresses and speaks is perhaps wrong- that she should change who she is. When Eriksson says “I’m scared like hell I’m not enough“, you can hear the strain in her voice. With growls, sweet sighs and powerful rises, the vocal performance is (again) emotive and powerful. It is the most reflective and introspective track, with our star starting to doubt who she is- and the ‘real’ her. It appears that “nothing seems to please you“, she proclaims; admitting: “I’ll keep it to myself“. Again, Letdown sees Eriksson mix emphatic vocals with an impressive band performance. Past the 2:00 mark, the song goes into overdrive; our heroine pushing against oppression and trying to stay true to herself (“Oh you’re killing my belief/to be myself/and if I can’t make my own way I quit“). Creepy Little Story has one of the most intriguing intros. of the L.P., with a fairground waltz-cum-midnight tango, it sets the mood beautifully. Revolving around the central figure of Sophie; here is someone whom is pretty and small (“but she’s tired of it all“). Eriksson is the angel watching over; her voice is measured and gleeful, as she steps away from personal analysis and biography: to introduce some gothic and fictional storytelling. This girl who “grew up just like me“, is a curious and dark figure whom you will imagine in your head. Our heroine introduces creepy boys, haunting and strange images; Sophie it seems is not so fictional after all: “It turned out she was me“. With a beautiful melody and deft changes of pace, it is a departure from the previous numbers; and a perfectly mid-L.P. track. It blends Eriksson’s gift for storytelling and image-setting with a vocal that is at once delightful; and the next, unsettling. Hold On has a beautiful introductory coda and (brief) gorgeous wordless vocals. A pattering drum drive and rushing vocals breathe huge life into the track, as our heroine leads us into the song. Here, there is a sense of longing and romance; an overall positive mood and sense of yearning. The vocal is reliably gorgeous and snaking; bringing life to direct and impassioned words (“Hold on to what you’ve got/And I will never let this pass me by“). With London ablaze, and our heroine in full voice, there are all the expected hallmarks here: ghostly evocations, passionate implore and longing. Eriksson’s voice goes from a passionate belt to sweet whispers as she implores: “I could live as if I’ll never live again“. Hold On rises and swells to emphasise the emotions and lyrics, our heroine’s voice matching the energy and mood. There is a certain anthemic catchiness to the chorus, and is a track that I can see being a live favourite in time. As it reaches the closing stages, Eriksson has one (final) confession: “I am so scared of losing what I gain that I’d rather have nothing at all“. Stirring piano sounds herald the arrival of Lover I Don’t Have To Love; and the introduction of a tale of dislocated relations. Our heroine introduces a nameless figure; a man who seems mysterious (“When I asked your name/You asked the time“)- someone whom is perhaps aloof, or else seductive. The track is one of the most overtly sexual and direct. Eriksson tells of her hands “Pressing hard against your jeans“; the two lovers tongue entwined in a passionate embrace (“Trying to keep the words from coming out“). Whereas songs like Stay were more tender and coquettish, perhaps; here the other side of love is investigated- a pure and unadulterated passion. Complete with a strong and impressive vocal, the track is one of the strongest on the album, and once again shows another side to our heroine. We have gone from tender passion, to gothic scene; strange creatures and anti-heroines have been seen- here there is something sweatier; exhilarating and unadulterated. Eriksson has parts Lana Del Ray; bits of Bjork- and plenty of unique flair and wonder. It is a mini opera of lust and passion. In the morning, “We forgot where your car was parked” as the two lovers stagger into the morning light. Eriksson is very much on top and in charge, yet she still projects an air of caution and trepidation. The impassioned and enraptured repetition of “You didn’t hurt me” in the final moments is a fitting end to a brilliant track. “Come with me I’ll take you to the ocean where we can breathe” are the words that open Oceans. The track surveys a bygone romance; looks back at the good times and good nights that were shared; before our heroine’s sweetheart chose “reality/Reality instead of me“. With another powerful and memorable vocal, Eriksson is backed by guitars; and a whole lot of history. As our heroine pleads and implores, her voice rises and swells to operatic heights. With a frantic and emotive delivery, she speaks to her lover; begging him not to let go (and leave her on her own); offering (in exchange for devotion) genuine affection (” So close your eyes/I’ll show you love tonight“). By this point in the L.P., I am still impressed by the way Eriksson employs language; twists and turns her words- able to offer up some fascinating images. “And the piano full of blood/From the songs that I’ve been bleeding/A bottle full of wine I am standing on the ceiling” puts your mind into her imagination- you cannot help but to imagine and picture those words in full flight. With effective yet sparse backing, there is a larger emphasis on the voice and words; meaning that the full force of Eriksson’s words are felt. It is an atmospheric and augmentation number that displays our heroine’s lyrical talent; as well as putting her heart and soul under the spotlight. I Will Lead You Home boasts, perhaps, the most impressive intro. of the album. A beautiful and soothing acoustic line is unveiled; one that relaxes you and makes you smile (at the same time). Our heroine acts as a safe pair of arms; a guiding light in the track; she sends a message out (to an unknown subject(s) that she will guide them. “When you’re out of breath“; “When you’re left alone“- Eriksson says- then have no fear: “I will lead you home again“. Bolstered by a gorgeous and tender vocal display; with acoustic guitars that mix (Pink Moon-era) Nick Drake with Kings of Convenience, it is a heartwarming and heart-melting song. In a town with “Lovers walking hand in hand without a sound“, our heroine offers a helping hand. Whether Eriksson is speaking to a lover, friend (or perhaps a form of herself), it is unsure; what is clear the conviction and intention within the track. Whereas previous numbers may have left you exhausted (where emotions and hearts are being put through the wringer), I Will Lead You Home is a nice counter-balance and burst of sunlight. With wicked wordplay and striking lyrics, Stuck In My Mind starts its gestation amidst swooning and summer breeze guitar. Erikson’s voice is a paragon of touching beauty and seductiveness, as she states how she is going around in circles; looking behind her- “Two steps forward, one step back“. There is self-doubt and uncertainty, for sure, yet it is enveloped in the warmth and strength of the vocal, that is never becomes foreboding or heavy-handed. Oscar Wilde is quoted (and paraphrased), as books of wisdom are perused and studied; our heroine is doubting her mind and tripping over her feet. Whether the track documents a general anxiety (or a large malaise) I am unsure, yet it is obvious that there is a need for self-discovery; for answers and guidance a way to get out of this funk. Past the 1:00 mark, the mood swells (before exploding), as our heroine starts to doubt her mind. Monsters, ghosts and trees are employed as metaphors and symbols of oppressive force; Erikson pleads: “Can someone come figure me out“. As the track’s embers smoulder and the music ends, you wonder how much our heroine can take; whether she has found answers and reasons- and just what is coming next. Our antepenultimate track, Tell The World (Acoustic Version), arrives; with a dreamy lullaby (acoustic) guitar intro. is softly welcomes you in. A song that starts as “A journey on a broken piece of glass“, our heroine’s voice is at its tender best. Backed by the gorgeous guitar, Eriksson’s voice spikes and rises as she sings “I know you thought I disappeared“. An emphatic and determined call-to-the-world, our heroine repeats: “Tell the world I’m still alive/I found a way, yeah I survived“. With her voice if full flight, and filled with conviction, it is hard message (and song), to ignore. With a specular and romantic intro.- that reminded me of a Kate Bush gem- Play Pretend (Piano Version) arrives. Eriksson’s voice is in no laughing mood; she is fed up (of the unnamed figure), imploring him to “keep (talking) to yourself“. Her (former) beau has been playing her like strings and manipulating her for too long. Fed up of being used, our heroine has been diminished and ignored; proclaiming: “Just tell me how you want me to be!” With the soft (yet emotive) piano- flecks of percussion- and our heroine’s inflamed vocals, it is a stirring mood piece- both emotional yet defiant. Taking us to land, The Devil’s Sin (Acoustic Version) comes before us. Eriksson’s voice is, once more, soft and tender; backed by a delicate and evocative piano accompaniment. Speaking of the song’s central focus, our heroine sings: “My mind in his grip and through my lips/The devil’s words I let slip“. As with Play Pretend, Eriksson’s voice goes from a whispered coo, through to a gravelled growl; up to a full-bodied roar. With doubts and anxieties in mind (“I no longer know what’s wrong or right“), our heroine is feeling the weight of emotions. Whether referring to the breakdown of a relationship; personal doubts and questions, or recollection of a hard experience, the song gets into your head. When Eriksson confesses “I don’t want you to be the one who’s left all alone“- you can hear the conviction in her tones. As the song reaches its climax, you can feel the strain starting to show (in Eriksson’s voice); the song’s messages are taking their toll. As the final lines are delivered (“I am how your heart breaks/This is a dead heart’s game“), you wonder whether Eriksson gained some (much-needed) answers; whether absolution or salvation arrived. It is a fitting climax to the L.P., where cliffhangers are left- leaving you hungry for more.

Charlotte Eriksson and The Glass Child have created a splendid and captivating opus. At 17-tracks, it does not come across as too bloated or full- there are no filler tracks on the album. It may seem like I am coming across as too fawning or effusive, when it comes to The Glass Child- the truth is, I am not. You may not have heard of her until now, but Charlotte Eriksson’s endeavoring music and itinerant ambitions are what the music world needs. London is home to our heroine at the moment, but I can hear European influence (as well as U.S. acts). She yearns to be “Where I can sing as loud as I want, without wondering who is listening or what they think“. Although I’d Like to Remain a Mystery is over a year old, it is an L.P. that is still garnering huge praise and adulation. It is a brave and fascinating collection of songs that retains all of the personality and components of her previous work- yet is a leap forward and shows how confident and assured she is. I am amazed and impressed by how prolific Eriksson is, and what a range of sounds and sensations are available. Throughout the L.P., our heroine’s voice is compelling and thought-provoking; mixing gorgeous and soft shades with hugely powerful swells- a huge range.  Her band is a noble and impressive force, and score the tracks beautifully- adding weight and texture to her mandates. It is perhaps the lyrics- to my mind- that stand out strongest. Being a lyrics obsessive myself, I am impressed by the range of emotions and themes Eriksson explores; the intelligence of the poetry is startling- the L.P. is a statement from a young woman whom adores words, and knows how to use them. You find yourself, not only listening to the songs, but immersed within their wings; travelling where our heroine takes you and imagining what she sees. For any songwriter, this can rank amongst their proudest achievement, as so few (in the modern age) are capable of doing this. Having listened to the album in its entirety, I was mesmerised by the talent of our the young Swede, and how accomplished the L.P. is. It not only is the result of years of self-discovery, hard work and consideration, but provides a fascinating glimpse into what her future sounds will be. My split infinitives aside, The Glass Child is an act that will be familiar to many new lips this year. As well as having a huge and loyal online following, she is still foreign to many ears- I hope this soon changes. I am not sure when the next L.P. will be released, but it is going to be a collection that will see some familiar elements- as well as some new steps and themes. Knowing Niels Bakx, I am wondering whether heavier guitar sounds will be included; and if any of Los and the Deadlines’ Rock majesty will be infused (into the album). Whilst we speculate, imagine and prophesies, take the time to investigate the back catalogue of a restless and brilliant talent. The official site for The Glass Child is a awash with beautiful photograph; fascinating insight and information- a glimpse into Eriksson’s mind and ambitions. I stated that a lot of artists provide practically no personal information or biography; expend the minimum of effort and time to connect with their fans- it is a huge relief that Eriksson is the polar opposite. Our heroine has been recording songs and keeping busy since the release of her debut album, and I hope that she plays some gigs in London soon- I would love to see her perform for sure. It is clear that Eriksson is keen to connect with her fans in as many different ways as possible; this is reflected in the appreciated that is paid to her. Her music may not be instantly familiar or relatable to all, but given time, the songs will reveal themselves in time. Being a songwriter myself, as well as looking for inspiration (in terms of what can influence my own music), I am keen to find great artists with a terrific story. Eriksson’s musical outpourings have pushed me to incorporate new facets and shades into my own music; to modify my (sometimes) rigidity- and be more adventurous and bold. As a human, our heroine is living her life the way she wants and dedicating herself to her music (poetry and literature); setting her sights high. Before I conclude, I will unveil some words from Eriksson herself: “I just want to mean something to someone because every person I meet mean the world to me and I just wish to belong. I just wish to be me and be loved for that. I’m mostly insecure, but I believe that if you want something bad enough, you can always find a way to get it. I love challenges because I’m here to prove myself and other people wrong. I still don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way…”. Our gorgeous heroine has a long career ahead, and it will be fascinating to see what her future steps will be. As well as an L.P. in-the-works, I am sure that there will be more songs; poems and writing from the twentysomething Swede. Along the course of my musical traversing, I have come across a great variation and range of artists- both solo acts and bands. I understand that the mainstream or ‘established order’ provide commercial profitability; there are artists that are there to inspire and lead the charge- yet I feel that the overall quality is not as high as it should be. It is the upcoming wave of artists whom provide the strongest music. Premiation should be given to one and all, as I am genuinely impressed by the ambition and talent that is currently out there. Charlotte Eriksson is an act whom is near the crest of the current wave, and I hope more fans and music-lovers investigate her music- and take her to heart. I hope one day to see her play; to meet her and see what is in her mind- where she hopes to take her music. Until I find out, I have been smiling when thinking about her album title (I’d Like to Remain a Mystery). In a way, The Glass Child is a name appropriate and (strangely) completely wrong for our heroine. Eriksson has a child-like wonder for the world; a curiosity and a sense of fragility. You can tell that our heroine has a vulnerable side and is seeking comfort, answers and a sense of belonging. Conversely, she has proven herself to be brave an adventurous; someone whom has gone out into the world and shown how independent she is. We have- and can- gleam a lot about Charlotte Eriksson; who she is, what inspires her- and what goes into making her music so memorable. In that regard, our young heroine is perhaps not such a mystery. She is an open and honest woman whom wants to let as many people into her world (and mind) as she possibly can. On the other hand, there is mystique and abstruseness to evident. I’d Like to Remain a Mystery (as well as her E.P.s and writings) have provided the voice behind The Glass Child, yet I have the feeling there is so much more; some secrets and thoughts that Eriksson is keeping inside of her. I hope that she keeps them to herself, as it is that sense of seductive mystery that makes our heroine so fascinating. Amidst the L.P. plans, sofa-surfing (she often crashes on fans sofas; in order to connect to them more directly) and European travels, Eriksson is optimistic about what is to come. It is not often you come across an artist whom not only hits you instantly, but also reveals layers and truths after every listen. Our heroine is someone whom has worked hard to achieve this; yet she does it with seemless effortlessness. When all is said and distilled…

PERHAPS that is the biggest compliment you can pay to anyone.



Track Listing:

I’d Like To Remain A Mystery9.8/10.

Stay– 9.9

The Haunted9.7

Give Myself Away9.7

Consumed by You 9.7

Hit The Ground9.8

Somewhere I Belong9.6


Creepy Little Story9.9

Hold On9.7

Lover I Don’t Have To Love9.9

Oceans- 9.6

I Will Lead You Home9.8

Stuck In My Mind9.7

Tell The World- Acoustic Version9.8

Play Pretend- Piano Version9.7

The Devil’s Sin- Acoustic Version 9.7

Standout Track: Stay


Follow The Glass Child:







Last F.M.:






Big Cartel:

Feature: The Music ‘Business’: The Dirty ‘M’ Word.



The Music ‘Business’:


The Dirty ‘M’ Word.


As I look ahead to my (and many other people’s) future, it can be exciting to imagine. Ambitions and high-minded plans inspire the mind, compel the imagination; yet there can be one major stumbling block: money.


WHEN you get to my stage in life, something odd begins to happen…

When I say ‘stage’, I don’t mean age- more a period of restlessness. The rest of this year is going to see (I hope) a lot of transition and fulfilment. The singer/songwriter area of my brain is spinning lyrics, compositions and designs- it is quite exciting. Once an entire album’s worth of material starts to cement itself- and the seeds are sown- it is only natural to think ahead. Before you know it, you (and I have) find yourself imagining the album cover; each song in its entirety- each and every component in full. One of the greatest things about music (from the perspective of an artist) is that it is easy to record and publish music. In terms of technology and accessibility, you no longer need to go into a studio, spend hundreds of pounds and labour hard to get your music recorded. Many ‘D.I.Y. artists’ or bedroom acts can sit in the comfort of their own homes; bring their music to life- and stream it straight to the general public. Most new acts start off by recording the odd song; perhaps an E.P. will (eventually) arrive: the embryonic steps are fairly modest. In time L.P.s and larger projects are realised, but I have witnessed many fresh acts lay down their tracks; put their intentions out there and feed them to the public. For most of us listening, there is no consideration given to the mechanics behind making the music- what is costs to make it happen. Even those whom make their music outside of a studio, the cost associated with doing so can be quite galling. It is only natural, yet when I look at studio rates, my eyes can water. Unless you are lucky enough to have a friend whom runs a studio (and thus get ‘mates rates’) or find an economical way of producing music, the final bill can be pretty high. An entire day in the studio (usually 8 hours minimum) can cost anywhere up to £400. Some studios I have seen charge almost double that, and that is just the recording costs itself- before any mastering has been completed. It may sound like an old (well thirty-something) man having a bit of a rant: far from it. Of course studios are businesses and have to charge for their services; it just seems that a lot of musicians are reverting to the confines of their own home, because the cost of professionally recording music is so high. I have friends whom run their own studios, and their costs are modest and affordable, yet they seem to be in a general minority. I am in the process of completing the writing of an album; one of which I have been working on for years now- something I am immensely proud of. When I tabulate all the various expenses and logistical considerations, the bar bill runs into thousands: five figures actually. You may say that if you want to spend less, than record fewer tracks; be less ambitious or convoluted, perhaps. In that sense, there is a bit of a chicken and egg dilemma. Before I investigate the costs of making it in music in general, I shall use myself as a case study.

I will get more into the inequities and vicissitudes of music ambition, yet from my own perspective, I have found the costs are mounting. As it stands (and as I sit) my bank accounts have a few hundred quid in them. I am looking at getting part-time roles at the moment, and writing as much as possible. Having applied to various music sites and publications (with regards to getting jobs here) most- to start with- are going to be unpaid. When I can afford to get my own place and move on in the world, I imagine that I will not have a lot of money left over. Even when I had a full-time role, I found myself with not a lot to show at the end of the month (once rent etc. had been deducted). I guess this is the same with everyone; of course there will be variables and differences. I have a basic 8-track recorded, yet find that the sound quality is pretty poor- not adequate for what I want to do. There are softwares and programmes available to record vocals and music, yet I find that they are pretty basic for what I need. The solution is going to be going into the studio and recording music that way. General rehearsing and band hunting will have a money value attached, although it will not be overly high. If I were to just record one of my most ‘unambitious’ tracks, it will take a full day in the studio- as well as additional mastering and production costs. I would imagine that we would be talking about £600 or so (at the minimum) and that seems quite daunting. You may sit there and think that this is perfectly reasonable: and it is. The issue is, that after all the ‘day-to-day’ costs are expended and you look at what you have left, there is not a huge amount to play with. One song may be an achievable goal (in terms of money), but if you are looking into recording an E.P. or L.P., then you are looking at a somewhat stiffing total. It is imperative and handy having recording software and facilities whereby you can record basic numbers at home. I know many whom started out this way, and they have gained attention and fans from it. Invariably, all music- at some stage- is going to enter the studio, and it makes me wonder: is it putting people off (recording music)? Aside from music-making itself, I am looking at two other ventures: a music bar/cafe as well as a (small) record label). The first business idea stemmed from a real need; a gap in the marketplace, and as much as anything, a neat concept. In London (and various cities) there are plenty of great music venues, bars and locations- we all have our favourites. From what I have seen, there is nothing on offer that provides a bar, cafe and music venue- all in one. I have written a full blog post about this before, but the idea is to have a London-based, two-floor location. Essentially, it would have a lower floor where there is a bar; seating areas and a couple of stages. Patrons would be able to order food (off an extensive menu); order alcohol (cocktails included) and hot drinks, and sit and listen to music. There would digital jukeboxes offering endless amounts of tracks; and put simply, it would be a music venue-cum-cafe. The stages would allow for local and mainstream acts to perform (in the evening), and it would be a (hopeful) major venue. Upstairs, there would be an interactive platform; where walls fo screens and units would be set up. A music website- Pyschoacoustics– would be accessible, and allow anyone to create and make music; listen to any song they want- as well dozens of other features. In addition, there would be a modest-sized recording studio on the floor as well, allowing musicians as well as first-timers to record music- at an affordable fee. It all sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, I grant you, but it is not me wanting to become Richard Branson here- just fulfil a genuine desire amongst many. Thom Yorke (in Paranoid Android) said that “Ambition makes you look pretty ugly“; well in my case, it makes me look tired. I have been formulating a business plan and ideas for the venue, yet it seems an almost impossible realisation. Setting aside issues such as finding a venue and getting a loan etc. the amount of start-up capital needed is immense. It is going to be the same with any business, but it seems that an idea is not enough: banks and lenders require you to have enough of your own money before they lend. I can guarantee that the business enterprise will be profitable and successful, but the initial stumbling blocks are hard to get over. The other ‘crazy idea’ I had, was to establish a record label. This is born, not out of a need for profit, but to provide a home for some great musicians. I know quite a few different acts and artists whom are unsigned; negated and passed over by labels because their sounds are not what they are looking for- seemingly wandering the road seeking out shelter. It is quite sad, as the artists in question are all hugely talented and impressive. My ickle label- tentatively to be called Famous Atheists Records– would be London-based, yet be free from genre restrictions. The idea would be to provide a parapet for all sorts of artists; from northern Pop and Rock acts, through to U.S.-based Electro.- and all in-between. As far as desire goes, this idea probably takes up more of my imagination than music-making itself. I know of so many acts all worthy of being signed, yet subjugated and rejected because their sound is too unique; ill-fitted to a record label’s rigid mould- it is heartbreaking. BBC 6 Music put out an article online (link below) stating how easy it is to start your own label. Like a business, you just need to have your plan, costs and cash forecast set out; do your market research and get in touch with contacts- simples, right? Well, in the case of some failed record labels, perhaps not. If you are smart enough to do your research, then you can make a go of it, just you always need some cash of your own (like with a business) before going to a bank. As much as anything, setting up a record label relies on getting funds and donations from other businesses and contacts- which can be a headache in itself. It is not just me (as a megalomaniac-music mogul-in waiting) whom has this issue: many of my contemporaries and pals have this conundrum…

Recently, I have reviewed quite a lot of different acts. From Scottish wonders through to English Pop princesses, there has been a great deal to digest. With every new act, there is always a lot of graft and sweat that has gone into their music. When I (recently) reviewed Universal Thee’s Back to Earth album, I know how much effort went into make it. The band members all worked harder than ever; toiling and spending hours on ensuring the finishing product was as good as possible. The money that went into making that L.P. was as a result of endless shifts, overtime and tiring work. Knowing how good the band are- and were before the album- it seems strange that the guys had to work so hard to raise the funds. I am sure that the five-piece did not mind; and that they would do it all over agin, but this struck me: shouldn’t it be easier than this? Other acts, from Issimo, through to Jen Armstrong; to Chess Elena Ramona and Crystal Seagulls, have broken their backs in jobs- to raise the necessary cash. I guess if there is a degree of struggle and overcoming adversity, then the end result can be that much more satisifying- as though you have genuinely earned the right to make music. The life of the unsigned artist is a fraught and unpredictable one, that to my eyes, does not seem to be so hard. When you have a label backing you, and you have management; issues such as finance are (although not non-existent) not a huge problem. It is axiomatic that labels should be seeking the best talent; that incentive to work and produce incredible music arrives when as few burdens as possible are present; money and raising finance is one of the biggest burdens- ergo, dissipating the problem makes sense. I do wonder if the reason bands and new acts favour putting out an E.P. (as opposed to a full album) is not that they want to distill their essence and do not have enough ready material- but because it is not feasible to release an L.P. Digitialisation of the music industry and the augmentation of music-sharing has made it easier (than ever) to get your music heard by as many people as possible; yet I fear that may be an issue: would charging a nominal fee to hear your music help? The music-buying public (not too long ago), has no choice but to buy everything they heard; I just wonder whether sites such as SoundCloud and YouTube act as a double-edged sword? From a personal perspective, I have heard a great amount of music on these sites (often to review) and have always felt regretful that I was unable to buy the sound- or to pay a token sum to hear it. If, say, each person whom listened to a track paid 50p, then you could raise hundreds (or thousands) of pounds- without putting anyone out-of-pocket. Perhaps this raises ethical issues, with many feeling it unfair that they have to pay for something- that they could otherwise have gotten for free. It is always a dangerous quagmire when discussing charging for music. There will be those whom say that music should be free to listen to; that this is the only way the less advantageous can afford it. Those- like me- in the opposing camp, feel that if the music is worth listening to, then it is worthy paying for. I always love hearing great new music in its full glory, but am always left wondering what the human and financial cost of making it (was). From my perspective, I am filled with trepidations and questions. We are in a year (and era) where there is a huge amount of new music out there; where the market is as crowded and bustling as ever- it seems logical that some form of financial backing should be available. Obviously, the musician will have to help to subsidise and support themselves (to a degree), yet some palliative care should be available for all.  I have been investigating a few sites that offer some financial absolution; sources that can offer assistance.  Whilst there is some merit and utility to these sites, there is still a lot to do (in terms of raising money).

What is to be done, I hear you (not) ask? Because music sees so many new acts enter the fold (by the day), then it seems that the issue of money may be an unanswerable quandary. In tandem with the general economy, the more people you have in a country, the more you have to stretch budgets. Unless you have a hugely well-paid job (or wealthy parents) then most of us have to live by the same, modest standards of living. The ambitious are often treated with impunity, and laughed at; spurring them on to silence the sharp-tongued detractors. As I stated early on, it is wholly possible to record music wherever you may be- and whatever your budget is. For those whom require the services of a studio or producer, then the whole business can become quite expensive. I know of many new musicians whom either have to work their feet to the bone (to afford to make music) or hesitate making it all- due to the realities of realising your dreams. For those making an E.P., L.P. or what have you, there are sources such as Kickstater (a site that is a crowd-funding platform). You can get loans and grants if you have a great business plan, but often you need quite a bit of your own capital. Designing a music website requires a lot of money; setting up a record label does- the list goes on. When you disseminate your earnings to various requirements (rent, food, life etc.) then you find that the coffers are quite bare. Ambition, talent and exposure will get the best and brightest what they desire, but you have to be able to walk before you can run. I guess me moaning about this fact will not solve the issue, yet it occurs to me that there may be some solutions. Crowd-sourcing website are a great way to earn money for your projects, and it seems to be a way forward. A lot of artists have found satisfaction through these channels, and we need more websites like this to be established. As much as anything, it seems that a fundamental (yet irritating) component is stopping a lot of new artists in their tracks. It makes me wonder whether something needs to be done; as music is one of the greatest art forms in the world, we should be encouraging it hugely. Unlike acting, music relies on a huge amount of self-funding, and to my mind, there is not enough being done to support musicians- making it more cost-effective to take the first steps. I am hoping to- amongst other plans- get a record label set up and make it a bit easier for some great musicians to make music (cost effectively). It is always a bugger when real life gets in the way of things, and a bigger one when money dictates things. It would be good to hear other people’s thoughts; hear from musicians whom face the hostilities of music-making/money, and get some feedback. As far as I can tell, a lot of acts are being put off of recording music, because they simply can’t afford it. I genuinely believe that there is a sagacious and realistic way to rectify the issue at hand. I feel that it is going to be unlikey that studios will reduce their rates; that banks will become a bit more trusting- the answer lies online. There are so many music websites and huge companies that work independently of social media sources such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+– it makes me wonder whether the bonds need to be formed. Music will never get to the stage where you will be able to record and distribute everything for free, so it seems that there needs to more support from the big names. Of course, once the musician is established and set-up they will be making money, thus able to afford to record as much as they desire- it is the sapling steps that trip up many. If big record labels or names such as Google, Virgin and Microsoft were to offer the initial funds need (on a quid pro quo basis) and then get their money back (without interest), then it not only makes it easier to get music into the studio- but draws together publicity outlets for said musicians. I am not sure, but I know that something needs to be done. I am impressed that so many new musicians keep plugging and recording- and find the money to make their music. I hope- in not too long a time- to be able to join them; accrue the necessary dosh, in order to get recording- it seems a (painfully) long way off. For the meantime, enjoy the sun (whilst thinking about it at least), and of course…

EAT Easter eggs!



Funding for musicians:

Crowd-sourcing websites:

Great sites for music sharing:


Starting your own record label:

Advice for new musicians:

Misc.: some of the best music sites in the world:

E.P. Review- The Tuts: time to move on





The Tuts


time to move on



The E.P., time to move on is released by Dovetown Records, and available from:


The gorgeous west London trio have been making waves since 2012. With their latest E.P., the Libertines-cum-Kate Nash mandates set them out as future festival headliners. At the moment, they are very much a ‘D.I.Y.’ band (handling all their own buisness themselves); although one thing is for sure: record labels will soon come a-knocking.


IT is always quite an unpredictable life, when you have my job…

Well I say ‘job’, because reviewing (for me), is really a hobby (until I can record my own music), but the point is this: I never know what I am going to come across. In terms of finding and discovering new music, I am very much my own man. Through Facebook and Twitter, I have quite a few musical friends- and am able to review their work now and then. It always gives me pleasure and satisfaction, when I am able to pormote a great act; wonderful music, and some serious ambition. Sometimes I come across some Scottish Pixie-esque wonder; occassionally some northern Pop and Rock comes to the fore- I even take my travels beyond the U.K. My iteinerary can often encompass sensations from the U.S., Europe and Australia- as well as E.I.R.E. As much as I love to digest some international sounds, I always find it paramount to extol the virtues of homegrown acts. After all, these are the acts that are on our doorsteps: those whom we can see perform live and meet in the flesh. The biggest benefit and necessity (with regards to reviewing U.K. acts) is that it makes you aware about the larger and wider music scene (in this country). There is always a bit of a tendency- when we think of music- to consider the mainstream and what is played on the radio day to day- without too much thought towards new acts. One of the hardest parts of my reviewer-by-day duties, is that I have to look hard for subjects to feature- far too hard as far as I am concerned. There are some great websites that offer up reviews of new artists, yet there are few sites in place, solely dedicated to channelling the augmentations of our sapling musicians. Over the past few months I have existed on a diet of social media contacts and chance occurrence- there seems to be no stability at all. I would love to hear about a great Australian Rock act from Victoria; a fresh Electro-Disco solo act from France; bustling Indie acts from Manchester- yet how would one ever hear of these? I guess- with the proliferation of new acts- it is near-impossible to catalogue them all; sepearate them by country, genre etc., yet it seems that an attempt should be made. I have been formulating plans (amongst many others) to get together an all-encompassing music website. On it, there would be tonnes of features and elements- amongst them would be a thorough representation of new musicians. I have always had the idea of being able to introduce something where you could click on a map; highlight a country/city; then break down the new musicians in that locale by genre/gender etc. and then get a list of the acts that fall under these categories. I digress, but my point is that a lot of my reviews happen by serendipity. I hope some future bright spark will rectify this malady very soon, but for now, I want to raise a couple more points. A lot of my reviews over the last couple of years, have focused on U.K. acts- most of whom eminate north of the border (north of Watford actually). The likes of Crystal Seagulls and Los and the Deadlines are London-based troupes, whom are putting the capital firmly on the map. Outiside of them, I have surveyed some south cost Pop acts as well as a few acts based in Surrey- yet they are in the minority. My featured three-piece hail from London and call Hayes home- an area and hotspot I shall investigate in more depth. I am glad to be putting London back in the spotlight. It is axiomatic to say that it is a city where a lot of new musicians pioneer and dream- yet the best and brightest are based further north. From experience, most of my ‘London reviews’ have focused on bands; those whom prefer their sounds heavier and more hard-hitting, I have found few solo acts or diverse acts to review (although they are definitely out there); there is a slight homogenisation. This is no bad thing, as the likes of Crystal Seaguls and Los and the Deadlines have proven- some of the most invigorating acts in the U.K. play out of London. It is- and should always be- the mecca and epicentre of what is current, fresh and alive; London has always offered up some of the greatest acts of all time- something I hope will not abate. This conundrum and consideration may be something that is a question for the ages, but recently, I have been thinking a lot about bands. Being someone keen to not only record my own music, but recruit a band, I am always on the look out for great talent. I have never been keen on being part of an all-male band; diversity and cross-polination have always seemed more appealing. When I look at bands at the moment, there is still a dominance of the male-only realm. Occassionally, you get some male-female bands (2-4 members typically), and there are all-female bands, yet the following is apt: the styles differ gretly. Th last time I surveyed an all-girl group whom played heavier sounds, was Fake Club. Since then (that was last year), you either find that the (all-girl) acts tend to be largely Pop-based or mould themselves around a former girl group. For the boys, the sounds tend to be harder and more energetic (there are fewer boybands)- I am not sure why. Ever since reviewing Fake Club (and being mesmerised by their music) I have been looking out for a similar act- a band that can offer that potency and promise. Today’s subjects provide the excitment I have been seeking. The London 3-piece act summon up the force and conviction of a four (or five-piece) male act- and do so in their inimitable and unique style.

When looking around for new bands, I have been somewhat dissapointed lately. Certain acts such as Kongos (U.S. funtime purveyors) provided no feedback or acknolwegement when I reviewed one of their songs- which left me feeling angry and jaded. I have- as a result- slowed by workrate, and going after bands whom seem deserving of attention or focus- and that would seem grateful for any review. It is a minor quibble, but it is better when a band (or act) can use a review or feature; spread the word and get more people atuned to their music. My featured trio, should have no fear: they will be big news, very soon. Our heroines are comprised, thus:

Nadia– Vocals and Guitar
Harriet– Bass and vocals
Bev– Drums

The girls, themselves, describe themselves in these terms: “We’re a feisty all girl punk band from West London! Recently supported Kate Nash on her UK tour, played Indietracks Festival and many indie pop and punk shows! We’re self-managed, completely DIY and book all our own shows“. One of the most impressive elements of new music, is when a band or act manages to put out music at all- such is the demanding nature of the industry. Record label bosses and venues tend to not come calling right from the start, so musicians are often charged with make all their own moves and making all their own decisions. The Tuts not only book their own gigs, but write their own music; organise all their day-to-day activities and movements- they are a three woman army. The girls are all striking and gorgeous to behold, yet it is when their music hits your ears, that the biggest impressions are made. Our heroines’ onomatepiac name translates as “To express annoyance, impatience, or mild reproof“- their music whips up a certain distain and rebellion. Rare is their brand of music, that many critics have been allured and staggered by their intentions. The Tuts have a natural home in the live arena, and make most of their music their. When they get into the studio, their energy and glory is not reduced or distilled- it is all in tact and restored. In 2012, their debut E.P., S/T gained the hearts of many fans (and new admireres). One reviewer was compelled to write: “West London three piece buzz like a female version of the Libertines. From the same town as the Ruts, with only a letter difference, the Tuts are a bundle of attitude and suss.” Songs such as I Call You Up (a fan favourite) is a two minute aural assult that puts me in mind of ’70s Punk as well as White Blood Cells-era The White Stripes. That track was a rallying call; yet contained melody and a sunmmery feel. The girls turned lyrics such as “And I’m not just starting beef but you’ve gone to sleep/And I’m shouting and I’m screaming for you“, into something toe-tapping and upbeat. One of the most striking things about The Tuts is their image. Although the girls have plenmty of genuine Punk and Rock spirit; grit and punch to their music, they have plenty of heart and tenderness. If you look at their personal website, it is awash with bright colours, cartoonish figures and vibrancy. The E.P. cover to S/T depicted the girls in shilloutte; colourfully-depicted- it was the kind of image that would adorn the album of a Pop album perhaps. There is a definite air or happiness, joyfulness and sun-kissed variegation. After the success of their debut E.P., combined with a sturdy and busy touring scchedule, the positive reviews flooded in:

As The Tuts rage on through the tracks in their self-titled EP, the crowd really starts to come alive, including one particularly enthusiastic fan sporting a pair of cat ears on her head. Insightful lyrics in Tut, Tut, Tut chip away at sexism in the music industry, whilst Nadia, sipping from a bottle of lager in between songs, becomes an embodiment of everything The Tut’s music stands for. The rest of the set, along with jokes about Nadia’s “hairy armpits” (they weren’t by the way) receive raucous applause from the audience, signalling that The Tuts have gained a venue’s-worth of new fans“.

The Ark Preston

Part of an ongoing girl-band renaissance that takes in everything from the dark post-punk of Savages and Zoëtrøpe to the lo-fi sounds of Woolf and Skinny Girl Diet, The Tuts instead take a refreshingly punked-up pop approach, citing their inspirations as everyone from The Beatles to Bikini Kill, and wielding enough classic-indie influences to make them serious contenders for mainstream appeal should word continue to spread“.

The Girls Are

The Tuts let themselves be free to be as cheeky, poppy and cute as like, which turns out to be very cheeky, poppy and cute. The band sound like a Kate Nash, Jack Penate and Shangri-las mash up, which can be most obviously seen in their latest song ‘Call Me Up’, an upbeat catchy number with candy coated riffs and sweet as pie vocals that will definitely take the girls far“.

Don’t Dance Her Down Boys

Very much the definition of power-trio, The Tuts burn with an erratic energy and songs that make an almighty racket. Think of them as southern England’s answer to The 5, 6, 7, 8s (remember them?!) and you’re on the right track…Afterwards they were more than happy to spend a good deal of time meeting and greeting; shifting merch and posing for photos with a few sweaty-browed gents and a seemingly limitless supply of starry-eyed, impressionable young girls“.

Liverpool Echo.

At the moment, our trio have just unveilled their second E.P., and it shows them in confident and uthoriative mood. Their online pages- Facebook, Twitter etc.- are informative and kept up-to-date, and their fan base is slowly growing. I am sure that with the release of time to move on, their legions will swell and multiply; demand will flood in from all parts of the U.K.- and venues will come calling. With the likes of the Reading and Leeds Festival playing host to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age, there is a huge demand for groups whom provide heavy and impressive music. There is a definite niche and demand in the marketplace for groups that can provide the sort of kick that The Tuts have perfected. It is not just the music that has compelled so many, but the personalities of the girls. As well as being luminous and eye-catching with their online presentation, they are very much dedcicated to striking against sexism; reestablishing equality and balance- as well as coming across as relatable and tangible. On their Facebook page, the three-piece list their ‘interests’: “Gigs, drunken nights, eating pizza, playing sweet tunes, feminism, friendships, cuddling, craft, dancing, football, GIRL GANGS, horoscopes and being outspoken bad-ass bitches! Don’t let the patriarchy silence you. Confront sexism and racism head on“. It is clear that Nadia, Harriet and Bev have no intention of being labelled a ‘girl band’ or coming across as flyweight- they mean serious business. Amonst their influences, is the likes of Colour Me Wednesday, The Libertines, Best Coast, Kate Nash, Lemuria, Standard Fare, Martha, Perkie, Feeder, The Aquadolls, The Pipettes, and The Babies. It is the comparisons to- and the influence of- The Libertines that caught my mind. When listening to the girls’ debut E.P. I could hear comparisons with the (sadly defunct) band- especially their Up The Bracket work. The Libertines are one of my favourite bands of the past twenty years, and I have long-bemoaned their demise. It is a sad fact that broken relations (as well as drugs) disintergrated a group whom seemed capable of a long regency. A lot of modern acts are too shiny and polished; there is little intrigue; too little wit and bite in their lyrics. The Libs. boys offered up London back-alleys, deplorable characters; chancers and vagrants; broken love- all wrapped in their festival of sound. The Tuts have the spirit of The Libertines in their bones, and echo some of their finest moments in their threads and movements. As I sat down to review time to move on (knowing everything I do about the trio), I prepared myself for what is to come.

The first thing one notices about the E.P., is the attention to detail. The E.P.’s cover is a mesh of striking lettering, colourful washes and striking images. This consideration and allure is not confined to their visual presentations. From the first notes of Worry Warrior, it is clear that our heroines have seemlessly combined urgency with consideration and thought. A beautiful intro. is unleashed, that put me in mind of the U.S. You can imagine the sounds of Worry Warrior blaring from a speaker in Nashville; there is a bit of a Electro-Country feel to the first moments; the solid and stacatto drum beat gives it some kick and fun- making the combinatuion sound very much their own. I love the lo-fi and raw production sound as well. It sounds like you are listening to a live renedition of the track-it has that feel to it. Sam Brackley’s production gives the track the sensation of an early Libertines cut, but unlike Mick Jones’s efforts, sounds and sights are not buried in the mix- everything is clear and concise. You cannot help but be swept up in the gallop of percussion, drum and bass: the girls combine beautifully. When it comes to the lyrics, they point at some disatisfaction and anxiety (“I evern smile when I’m annoyed“). Our heroine’s voice is sweet and melodic, yet backed with genuine anger. With a Kate Nash-esque delivery, she states that “No one takes me seriously“. Unable to say no to other people, Javed is reflecting on the downside of her trusting and open nature: delivered with impecable energy and conviction. The song has elements of Kilamangiro‘s (by Babyshambles) energy; a bit of Happy Hour Housemartins- and a whole load of attitude by The Tuts. Towards the 0:40 mark, there is a rumbling and raw guitar, with Javed (Nadia) and Ishmael (Bev) clashing, backed (Harriet) Doveton’s solid bass. When proceedings are slowed, and our heroine is pounctuated by a catchy and powerful sonic blast; the song takes another twist. Speaking introspectively and inwardly (“I thought you were stronger“), our heroine comes to a conclusion: “time to move on“. The Surfer Rosa-era Pixies guitar/bass/drum swirls instantly transform back into lighter and linear territoy. Our heroine is back at the mic. as she looks back on life (“I used to fight to keep peace“); her voice inflected with a heavy heart. Such is the spirit and talent of the trio, that they can present such a unique and original song; yet put you in mind of others. The likes of The Bangles, The Libertines (Begging and Time for Heroes) as well as Nash come through: combined and concoted into a heady brew. As the chorus swagger in (with vocal duties being shared between Javed and Doveton), your feet will be tapping. There is such a raw and unadulaterated spike to the sound, that you can imagine yourself in a pub, listening to the song live- maybe being caught in the bow wave of a mosh pit. The final third of the song sees each of our players stepping up. A punchy and solid drum rattle comes forth; a wailing and electryfying guitar solo come in (Josh Homme, eat your heart out!); followed by a twirling and finger-picking bass coda. In the final seconds, the percussive and bass rush is juxtoposed by our heroine’s vocals; which, whilst still imploring and direct, are more relaxed and casual than her cohorts. As we come to the end, I have little time to reflect before the next track arrives: Dump Your Boyfriend. The version on the E.P. is a live one, and shows our heroines in their natural enviorment. With a vibrating and heady guitar storm (in the first few seconds), the track wastes no time in getting into your head. Again there is a slight hint of Kilamangiro, but the girls add weight, potency and force that Doherty and crew could only imagine. There is a Punk rush to the intro. that Buzzcocks undertones and a huge atmosphere whipped forth. Our heroine elonagates her words, as she recounts how peoplke advise her to dump her boyfriend; accusations are abound, as she admits: “But I can’t just dump/Duh-duh-dump my boyfriend/Accusations but what about all the birds in your tree?/So pull off the plaster for me“. Whereas the previous track was penned by Doveton, here Javed is a co-scribe; the two blending their talents together. The recording on the E.P. is clear and consise; like on Worry Warrior, the production allows clarity and consision- making the track stronger for it. The subject of the song has obviously caused issues; our heroine seemingly stuck in a rut (“He took my liberty away/(but I stay)/He clipped my wings so I stay/(can’t run away)/I’ll put it off for another day“). Dump Your Boyfriend has a relentless and unslakable energy and drive (unsurprsing consider the song’s topics); the vocal performance mixes languruous and laid-back with urgent and spiky- the percussion, bass and guitar once again rampant. It seems like there is a lot of regret and hesitation in the mottifs of The Tuts; the need to break away and change is clear, yet there is something holding them back. This is perhaps concecrated in one of the song’s final lines: “Easier said than done, I don’t want to jump the gun“. At just over 1:30, Loving It is the shortest of the four tracks (five, including the remix of Worry Warrior). After a brief lead-in/intro. (with some tantilising shades of Queens of the Stone Age) it is down to business, as our heroine steps to the mic. Caught in the riptide and franticnous of her colleagues’ combinations, our heroine states “It’s making me go mental”- although it is unclear, to begin, what this is referring to. As it is said (that) “We don’t see the struggle” there is a beautiful little guitar, bass and drum stutter and rush (the song snakes and turns in different direction) that adds a sonic smile to proceedings. Our heroine’s vocal is dependably direct and convicning; displaying its hallmarks or sedate and elliptical; breezy and spiky. The vocal delivery- as well as the composition itself- changes directions and pace, giving the song a constant electricity. You cannot help but kick your feet out when the composition is syncopated; unveil a grin when our heroine sings “I’m loving it“- there is a pause- before delivering”It’s making me…”. Again The Tuts seemlessly inject flavour notes of past hits and bands (there were one or two ’60s and ’70s toches and familiarities I enjoyed), with a distinct sound of 2014 London. I would say that Loving It is the catchiest song of the set (thus far); it packs so much dance, jive, rush and movement into 92 seconds- it is hard not to be impressed. The final (original) track of the E.P. is 1,2,3. After a sojourn of percussive pattering- that summons and tees up the vocals- our heroine steps into view. If the song’s title and nursery rhyme delivery makes you think our London trio are penning a song for the young, the first lyric snippets quickly dispel that. Whether the song is directed towards a former sweetheart or ex-friend, it is unsure, but whomever it is, a lot of anger has been provoked. Semblances such as “4,5,6/You can suck my dick” suggest that a common enemy has stirred some hostility; a need to right wrongs and change things is evident (“I wanna take back the night“). Our heroine wants to feel okay; to roll her car window down and shout out- the vocal here is one of the most nuanced and intruiging on the E.P. The entire band performance is (I guess not too shiockingly) tight and mobile; like Loving It, there is a lot of pace changes and direction shifts- meaning that you are always kept to attention. If some of the lyrics point towards juvenille petulance or infantile tongue sticking-out, the vocal performance and wit transcends any doubts. Such is the nature of the band- raw but upbeat; Punk but sensitive- you know that there must have been a smile on their faces when the lines were delivered. Like contemporaries Kate Nash, The Tuts are able to deftly weave witticism with vulgar; sensitive with spiked heels- and make it sound fresh and new. As with the opening three tracks, matters are dealt with with succint regard and concision. No track outstays its welcome, and each track arrives and plays like an explosion: it lasts a fairly short time yet leaves its impressions. By the final strains of 1,2,3 the listener is slightly exhausted and bruised- yet better for it.

On their BandCamp page, the band offered a Deluxe Edition of the E.P. (that included: 1x copy of the brand new EP ‘time to move on’ with signed lyrics booklet + immediate download of the tracks!/1x ‘Always hear the same shit’ Earth Positive T-shirt! (please pick your size! listed below!)/1x ‘Dump your boyfriend’ 13cm tall embroidered patch!!!/1x Tuts plectrum in either pink or blue! (please specify in order if you have preference!)/1x Tuts mirror!/1x Limited edition high quality cartoon tuts gig poster!/1x Limited Edition ‘Happy happy birthday to me records’ mix cassette tape featuring The Tuts & other Indie pop artists from around the world!/1x Randomly chosen hand printed mini patch! (over 4 different designs available!)/1x Akbar Ali Artwork zine/3x Tuts stickers/1x Badge pack). It is evident that the three-piece have a lot of respect and time for their fans. Their website and online portfolio is jam-packed and informative- fans and newcomers have eveything they need. It is impressive that the girls handle all their own business, and run the show: you get the impression they would not want it any other way. By having full artistic control, they have been able to play the gigs they want and make the music truest to them. One feels, however, that labels and venues will be knocking at their door. I have reviewed enough new music to know that the trio will be in demand very soon. Their sound is both evocative, familiar- yet definied by a unique and personal direction and flair. They are a tight and impressive force, and their live performances have gained huge praise. Music is a cruel and unpredicatble mistress where many get buried under its weight. The girls should consider the possibility of being future headline acts; of having many eyes cast their way. At the moment, they are probably more concerned with seeing how time to move on does. I was thoroughly impressed by not only the quality of the songs, but also of the range that they presented. Flavours of the Punk masters of old come to the fore; sparks of The Libertines and Kate Nash can be detected within- all contained within solid and memorable tracks. If I had one suggestion for The Tuts, it would be to allow some additional hands into camp. I know that they are skillfully managing their own careers, yet there are going to be label bosses and record companies that would snap them up in a heartbeat. Creative control and input would not have to be compromised; but the girls would have the opportunity to play their music as far and wide as possible. Bars, venues and localities within New York and California have similar bands (doing good business) here; Australia and Europe are all have definite room in the market for the likes of The Tuts. As much as anything, there are plenty of towns and cities throughout the U.K. whom would love to hear from the girls. That said, they play Cardiff, Birmingham and Exeter in the next few weeks, and will be taking their blend of song to some new faces. When compiling a new band, I would kill for the likes of Nadia, Harriet and Bev. Such is the mark of a great act, that they not only inspire your own work and motivation- but also make you rethink. I have been writing music that is lacking in guts and boldness. The likes of Worry Warrior and 1,2,3 have provided fresh inspiration, and I find myself re-inspired (once more). The ’90s (and early-’00s) was the last time we saw a genuine wave of exciting and new London bands- The Libertines included- so it is great that The Tuts are coming through. Like I said up top, there are plenty of London acts out there, yet few manage to bustle through the herd and steal focus. This year has been an encouraging one for new music, and provided more diversity and quality than I have heard for a long time. I am not sure what future market trends will be, but it is clear that the likes of The Tuts will be around to find out. I hope that as many people as possible listen to time to move on (buy it is as well), and go see them live, as they are determined to be around for as long as possible. It is the mutual friendships and strong bonds between the girls that will keep them togethger- so do not expect any Doherty-esque downfall. The music is impressive and nuanced, and there is something in there for everyone. Too many new acts arrive, implore hard- only to be forgotten about. With our trio doing what they are doing…

THAT will not be something they have to worry about.

 time to move on cover art


                 Track Listing:

Worry Warrior9.4/10

Dump Your Boyfriend (Live)9.3

Loving It- 9.6

1,2,3 9.3

Worry Warrior (Remix)- 9.4

Standout Track: Loving It.


Follow The Tuts








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Album Review: Universal Thee- Back to Earth





Universal Thee

Back to Earth



The album Back to Earth is released by Eventual Heirs, and available from: and


The band are- in their own words- “distinctly Scottish“; their ambition and drive seriously impressive- the results speak for themselves. On their debut L.P., they give the listener a glimpse into strange scenes and vivid themes: this five-piece mean business.


IN today’s review I will investigate a band I have a lot of respect for.

The quintet is a group that have been working hard to ensure that their debut album is as fresh and engaging as possible; promoting it, making sure that it reaches as many ears as possible. I shall arrive at Universal Thee’s door in due time, but have been thinking about a few things (as-of-late). In my last feature, I investigated the 20th birthday of a rather special time/genre of music- ‘Britpop’. When looking back at this wonderful time, it occurred to me how many wonderful acts were part of this movement. The obvious leaders such as Oasis and Blur were making the biggest noises, but so many bands were joining together, ensuring that British music was at the forefront of the world’s attention. For me, the most impressive aspect of the ‘Britpop’ era was the invention and fun that was abound. By 1997, introspection and something more mood-lit was entering the scene, but the years between 1993-1997 saw a succession of elliptical and joyful anthems being produced. The bands of the time were intent of ensuring that as many feet were moving as possible; that their songs stuck in the memory and were not easily forgettable. When that period ended, and music started to reincorporate U.S. influences, the party, it seemed, was over. I mention ‘Britpop’ as it was a time that not only saw some wonderful music being produced, but spurned a lot of creativity and rivalry between the groups of the time. As of now, music seems to be a little more compartmentalized. Perhaps it is the sheer weight and number of acts making sounds, but reciprocation is rarer: there is not the same encouragement and bâtonnage happening. During ‘Britpop’, although there was a great sense of unity and patriotism, the rivalries (such as Blur v. Oasis) inspired acts to push themselves as much as possible- meaning that the quality of music was much greater. Perhaps I am living in the past, and still wearing my violet shades, but what happened to that? As well as there being less overt jocularity and joy in music, the nature of competitiveness and thoughtfulness seem a little compressed. Bands tend to keep to themselves; solo acts likewise; I just wonder whether market forces and modern times have enforced this. My abiding point is that it is a lot harder for new bands to get recognised; to be inspired and pushed as much as possible- meaning that few acts establish a long-term foothold in the scene. It is clear that there are a lot of new musicians popping up (each day it seems), but the channels of communication and bonds seem to have broken down. Over the course of my reviews, I have surveyed a great deal of bands and solo acts that emanate from the same area- yet neither is aware of any of their contemporaries. One of the greatest pleasures I have taken from promoting certain musicians, is that they have been able to connect with other local acts- and as such have been able to help one another’s trajectory. The music industry is a hard and unforgiving one, and whilst it may be impossible to return to the symphonic glories of ‘Britpop’, there is no reason why some of the spirit and hallmarks cannot be retained. To my mind, music requires a bit of a shift. The best and bravest music seems to be emanating from the north of England- as well as Scotland. Yorkshire is establishing itself as a county synonymous with phenomenal and daring musicians; of huge sonic range and diversity- as well as a scene that is going to see many future stars. Scotland is promising similarly encouraging signs. I have seen many great Indie acts; some wonderful solo artists as well, each with their own distinct sound and armoury. Although it is impossible to unite all musicians and galvanise the entire scene, it is imaginable that local acts can conjoin. Too many times I have seen similar-sounding or like-minded acts, sometimes within a few miles of one another- yet neither is aware of the existence of the other. Just a small connection like this will not only mean that the act/band have a connection; they also have someone whom can promote their music- and encourage a little competition/rivarly. Music is a wonderful industry and sector that gives opportunities to all to present their intentions. It is also one of the most unforgiving and unpredictable ones, as well. A new act- one fill of potential and promise- deserves as much support and community as possible- I fear this is being lost. If a greater sense of connectivity and mutual appreciation were to be initiated, it not only provides anxiety relief to new musicians, but ensures that they are incentivized to push themselves creatively; thus ensuring that they a waiting audience and market years from now.

Universal Thee are a band fully worthy of a lengthy and happy career. I have been familiar with the Scot five-piece for over a year now, and followed their path closely. The music they offer, not only is imbued with some of the fun and alacrity of the ‘Britpop’ era; yet also contains a wide colour palette and diverse sounds. Based out of Edinburgh, they play in a locality with many fervent and wonderful acts. I know that they have some connections and friends within the local scene, yet it appears that there are many more bands and solo acts, not attuned to Universal’s sounds. Our endeavouring quintet have made some critical impressions, and (Back to Earth) has received some notable praise; yet I feel that the group would be having an easier time of things, were their local colleagues to lend a hand. I shall return to my theme in the conclusion, but let me take you inside the busy and bustling camp of one of Scotland’s best and most electrifying young bands. I have been fortunate enough to have reviewed Universal Thee once before (back in May, 2013) when investigating their song All Is Love. In my banner headline, I announced the group thus: “5-piece, have vocal stream-of-consciousness, and a strong ear for melody. The Saltire is being strengthened by some prophetic wind and wonderful melody“. When listening to the track, I was impressed by the conviction and quality I heard, stating: “The opening notes have shades of early R.E.M., curiously, as well as light-edged Radiohead. Maybe there is some Jack White to be heard- circa White Blood Cells“. A year has passed, and the intrepid band have unveiled their debut L.P., Back To Earth. Before I dip into the disc (and fill in some blanks), a bit about the band themselves- and where they have come from: “Distinctly Scottish band, Universal Thee have been both delighted and surprised with national radio play within days of their most recent recording sessions, showing they have achieved their aim of creating music of wider appeal than their current Edinburgh base. Attention for the band has been beginning to mount and they have been taken on by Napier University on a band development initiative. With a range of songs and styles, the five-piece, led by husband and wife, James and Lisa Russell, provide a Pixies-esque loud-quiet-loud dynamic, mixing slacker rock, grunge and indie pop. It is James talent for writing catchy melodies delivered by beautiful male/female harmonies, matched with Robin’s ability to create diverse and powerful lead guitar hooks, that ensures listeners will be singing their songs for days. Although their music gives a nod to their many interesting and diverse influences such as Ash, Pixies, Weezer and Queens of the Stone Age (amongst others), fans and bloggers agree that they genuinely have their own new, distinct and exciting sound. The blog site musicmusingsandsuch sought to describe their sound, stating: “as well as melody, there is a great deal of exciting noise; this combination, combined with male and female (lead) vocals, elicits an almost-Grunge/Punk splendour, rarely attempted in the 21st century”. The band has been recording with Garry Boyle for their gentler folky sound (previously involved in the Pixar Brave soundtrack and SAMA winners, The Holy Ghosts, album) and Ross McGowan, (producer of Fat Goth and Dananananaykroyd) for their heavier work and are working with PR company A Band of Friendship, to promote, and release, their first single and Album in early 2014, with a tour scheduled to compliment the releases“. Our five-piece have influences that range from Pixies and Ash; through Weezer and Pavement- to the gilded shores of Queens of the Stone Age. The combination of solid and diverse influences; together with a natural talent and direction, have seen many critics heaping praise upon their L.P.:

What do you find so on Back to Earth? Abductees and catchy melodies that easily remembered and listen loop. Guitars sometimes coaxing, usually energetic and angular. Two voices, boy / girl who complement each other well and gives their side a bit rough and scratchy, dirty and brutal look a little dry, even the softer tracks“.

Dans Le Mur… Du Son

A very good debut album indeed with some cracking songs too“.

Pat McGuire, MyvoiceofScotland

Back to Earth is a nice album. It doesn’t wow you immediately but it’s a grower and the more you listen to it, the more you get from it“.

James and Lisa Russell’s dual singing produces light and shade, with the latter’s soaring vocal’s adding angelic serenity…”

Daily Record

I will get down to investigating Back to Earth, anon, and pay my respects. I know how hard the entire band have been working- to ensure the L.P. sees the light of day. As well as promoting it tirelessly, band members have been working endlessly to raise the funds needed to record the album. It has been a labour of love, and one that the group have been striving towards for a long time now. Most new bands (or those at Universal Thee’s stage) usually put out an E.P. (or two), yet the Edinburgh group were determined to put out a full-length disc. The decisions and hard work have been paying dividends (so far), and it will give them the confidence to think ahead to album number two- or a possible E.P. Let me, then, get down to business…

The twisting and snaking intro. of Bone Collector is the first sound of the album. “You never wanna bring it up” is a coda that is repeated; James’s vocals punchy and accusatory. With an emphatic and crunching riff, the song steps up a gear after the 1:00 mark; Lisa and James combine vocally; telling the tale of a man whom never wanted to be a “city re-erector“. With shades of Bossavova-era Pixies, the track never loses momentum on energy- changing from softer and more tender implore to blitzkrieg guitar and percussion burst. With a simple and catchy chorus and a tight and impressive band performance, it is a perfect opener: our heroes waste no time in making impressions. Tiger Tiger’s gorgeous- yet hard-nailed- intro. leads a track that is almost lullaby-like. Sentiments and lines are twisted; considered and elongated to maximum effect (“These are the words/of the everlasting verse” are delivered especially potently). Boasting a particular impressive vocal performance (from both our leads), the guitar, bass and drums melt and spar with one another; infuse perfectly, before streaming like a river. Although Bone Collector may be the more memorable of the opening two tracks; Tiger Tiger offers more sonic intrigue: it is a strong and confident composition. Wolves of the Netherworld (again) has a shorter intro.; sparing little time with reflection before the vocals arrive. With a mantra that puts the central figure “Down there bobbing at the bottom of the sea“, it is a track that has a similar sound and pace (of the opening duo); yet seems more upbeat and sing along. With some elements of early-career Ash and Pavement, it is another catchy and bouncy track. The song is delivered with such abandon and energy that it comes to an end all too soon- making you want to hear more. With a softer and more gentle beginning, Feeling Fragile may be the hangover- following the drunken delirium that proceeded it. Our hero and heroine share vocals; yearning to be home and get away from a dead scene. The song has some U.S. roots; with the likes of The Magic Numbers and Document-era R.E.M. coming through. Line such as “Everything’s broken/You know” paint dislocated image- given emotive weight and conviction due to the tender vocal performances. You can imagine our band wandering a dust road, looking for some salvation- something to rescue them. It is a song that not only provides a needed comedown, but also shows a different (sensitive) side to the group. Eric‘s rumbling intro. and breakneck vocal performance cranks the energy-o-meter back to 11. In the way that our two leads combine; James yelps and adds menace to certain words, it has clear elements of Pixies, particularly their work during Dolittle and Surfer Rosa. Some of the guitar twangs and strikes have some of Joey Santiago’s memories in them- not that the track is too Pixie-esque. You can hear the distinct- and native- accents of our leads shine through. There is no U.S. inflections or Americanization: Scottish brogue is evident when the duo sing “Eric was a lonely guy/Lonely guy“. It is a combustible and frantic track that is done with in just over one minute- the pummeling pace leaves you a little breathless by the end. Down perfectly calms proceedings again- at first. Like Feeling Fragile, it sees our band in more considered and reflective mood. The track mutates into a sprightley and toe-tapping number before the 1:00 marker; the words “And down and down and down/You make me go round and round and round” elicited. With some flavour notes of legends such as The Kinks (in the composition), it is a song that catches you with its chorus. The strong and impressive vocal performance (from James and Lisa) enforces the catchiness; the tight and punchy guitar and percussion makes sure it sticks in your brain. There is an air of ’60s grooviness; there is such a swaying and psychedelic charm to the song, that it implores you to get up and dance- to surrender to its charms. Down is one of the L.P.’s longest tracks, and followed the shortest (Eric). Arriving as a mid-album fulcrum, Make a Little Money (Then You Die) pulls up. With a rumbling and dazzling intro. energy and invigoration are instilled early on. Again there are elementary shades of Pixies; with Come On Pilgrim’s gentler and more melodic moments, springing to mind. Whereas previous tracks such as Eric and Bone Collector have pervaded a similar sound and evocation; perhaps Make a Little Money‘s is a little less urgent and bracing than if it were higher up the order. Regardless, it is a charming and memorable mid-album track; all the band’s components (strong vocal interplay; multi-layered and intelligent compositions) are solid. Perhaps Down‘s intoxicating sound and chorus are still in my mind; yet Make a Little Money (Then You Die)’s ideas and lyrics seem pertinent. Perhaps you can apply the song’s title to the struggle most bands face: working hard until they make a little money; but by then it is too late (to do anything with it). Perhaps not the quintet’s finest moment, it is one that seems relevant and personal to them- perhaps some sardonic humour is at work. Kicking off the second half (the band’s previous single) Aranis Natas arrives. I am familiar with this track already; with its chugging and rumbling intro.; its scowling and grumbling vocals- all its wonder. Like Down, the song’s title is repeated and tempted; rallied and chanted- this time James gives a particular determined and gravelly delivery. Our heroes (Lisa and James combine) state that “Even if you see it“, then it’s “never gonna last“. Aside from the Byzantine and baroque title (that conjure up all sorts of images), there is a great quiet-loud dynamic that keeps the song on its toes. Although Feeling Fragile more textured and subtle; Aranis Natas is more urgent and forceful. A mid-song musical parable levels proceedings and provides chance for absorption- before the vocal force is back into view. The song is filled with humour; the entire group combine wonderfully- and the vocal performance of our two leads is perhaps the strongest so far. It is- and was- a rightful hit, and a song that is still getting great feedback and attention. Bear In the Hospital, with its light and cascading intro. has hints of early (The) Libertines; footnotes of Weezer (perhaps). You can tell from the title, that humour is going to be evident within. It is, but personal utterances and confessions seep in; something more direct: “Don’t wear me out/’cause you don’t know what I’m all about“. Boasting the most impressive guitar and bass work on the album, it is a track that bolsters Aranis Natas’s intentions- and provides a strong one-two. With qualitative shades of R.E.M.’s Near Wild Heaven, there is a similar Out of Time adventurous joy and strong melody. The quintet have been celebrated for their gift with a melody, and it is the way that a little of Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out) arpeggio; mixed with Jack White’s Never Far Away; with whispered dark edges of Pixie’s Debaser, that creates a fairytale/balletic skip and step. Lisa’s vocals are warm and sensuous: little honeyed edges of cherry country and folk, melting with a some U.S. indie edges too. The result is soothing and sexy. Similarly, the masculine edges from James’s voice compliment perfectly, and when “I see it/More now than ever” is sung, the resultant chemical reaction is soothing and beautiful. Pelican Crossing gallops and bounces from the off; with perhaps some edges of Free All Angels Ash in the mix. The track boasts a beautiful melody and vocal performance; our hero yearning “to be free again“. The sound pulls away from ’80s U.S. Punks and Grunge and towards U.K.-based Rock and Pop- perhaps with some 1960s semblance. The antepenultimate track, She Was a Whore has similar sonic evocations as All Is Love (there is a similar feel). The song tells of a central figure; unattached and uncaring, whom does not seem concerned by anything happening around her. The anti-heroine is put in the spotlight, as it is claimed: “Daytime, night-time/Any time at all/She’ll come to my bedroom door“. The lyrics are vivid and scene-setting, but the sound has a lot in common (maybe a wee too much) with other tracks on the set. Not to say that it does not distinguish itself (it does), but it does so lyrically, rather than sonically. The words make me smile, no less, and the band demonstrate another side to them, as they survey a rather salacious character (perhaps that has infested their lives at some point). Before the swan song arrives, Shallow Juvenile arrives, and, as the title may suggest offers another anti-hero. Focusing on a somewhat petulant and immature central figure, the song sees the phrase “I’m never going back” bent, elongated and repeated- almost as a rally cry. After some delightful whistling and (I may be wrong) xylophone interlude, the infectious coda is once more, unfurled. The track has a breezy and U.S. vibe to it, and wonder whether future producers will snap it up- as it could be ready-made to score a drama or Indie film. With some acoustic tenderness, Million Voices closes the L.P. With our hero asking: “Is it real?/Is it fake?“, the vocal is fast-paced, and has a distinctly American sound to it. There is a touch of Grandaddy in there (that same sort of high-pitched sound); perhaps a little They Might Be Giants, too- a straddling of East and West Coast U.S.A. When our heroine steps in, perhaps a little romance is lost when it is said: “You’ve got a beautiful face/You’ve got a f*****-up inside“. This bold honesty is juxtaposed with some honest emotion- a few seconds later (“Every winter/We lose/One million voices“). That combination of spiky and direct offering from Lisa, proceeding James’s earnest and impassioned croon is a terrific effect- when they combine during the chorus, there is an odd yet natural unity. After a lot of rambunctiousness and electricity, it is fitting that the album end with something more tempered and softer. Million Voices fades (the only track on the L.P. that does, I think), and Back to Earth touches down and settles- ending a tremendous debut.

Some reviewers have alluded to the fact that the album feels a little bloated at times- maybe there are a few too many tracks. Perhaps there are the odd one or two songs- She Was a Whore and Make a Little Money (Then You Die)– that do not match the dizzying heights of their best work, yet they should have no fear. It is a brave decision to release an L.P. at all (if you are a new act), and it shows that the band are as ambitious as they come. By having 14 tracks, it shows the full range and intentions of a hungry young group. Perhaps trimming a track or two would result in a leaner and more muscular set, yet I found no weak or filler material in the set- a big achievement in itself. No track lasts longer than needed, and because of the expert and atmospheric production, each song is compelling and intriguing. Back to Earth is the summation of months of hard planning and work; saving and scrmiping; dreaming and desire. The five-piece should be very proud of what they have achieved, and in tracks such as Aranis Natas and Down they have crafted some modern-day gems. You can hear clear influences such as Pixies and Pavement in quite a few of the tracks, yet it is no distraction: there is never too strong an aroma or semblance. Too many modern acts tend to staple themselves to the banks of Arctic Monkeys or whomever they deem to be ‘fashionable’ or ‘commercially viable’. Other groups tend to replicate an existing band’s sound- in the hope that it will see them held in high esteem by critics and fans alike. Universal Thee have a varied back catalogue and range of influences, and sprinkle scents and flavour notes into their templates. The abiding sensation is of a hungry group with a clear identity and a desire to mingle and nestle with the best bands of the moment. The sonic offerings from Spivey, Perrie and Haddow are compelling and evocative, throughout. The vocal interplay of Mr. and Mrs. Russell is the most alarming and memorable facet. Each has a unique voice that adds texture and variance to each track; yet when they combine the effect is impressive and indelible. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Universal Thee do not stick with one particular ‘sound’; in the sense that they pervade a certain timber and pace- and replicate that over the course of 10 or 11 tracks. Each song on the L.P. has its own gravity and pattern, and as such, as the album feels fuller and more diverse (there will be a song to fit everyone’s moods and tastes). Like Queens of the Stone Age’s album …Like Clockwork, there are immediate smashes; and a whole set of tracks that grow and reveal their charms. By the fifth or sixth listen, the full force and effect of the album hits, and unveils its intricacies and nuance. Kudos goes to the production, which mixes Gil Norton-esque authority (think Dolittle and Echo Park) with Butch Vig majesty. Tracks are never too cluttered or too sparse; full consideration is given to summoning as much atmosphere as possible. I began this review by bemoaning the lack of comradery and social linking between bands. There is a thriving music scene in Scotland, and many great bands and acts working hard. Universal Thee are amongst the best and most striking, and deserve wider acclaim. If a few of their local cohorts were to help spread the word- as well as provide some rivalry and competitive incentive- then it could help augment the charms and sparks of a brilliant young band. I know that the bars and venues of London are seeking Universal Thee’s Pixies-cum-modern Britain blend; the likes of the U.S., Australia and Europe could provide a home for their mandates- a vast enterprise of fandom awaits. Although the group are in their fledgling stages- and have a lot more ahead of them- I am sure they are going to be thinking ahead, and looking at horizons; markets and countries to be conquered etc. For those whom like their sounds harder and imperious, then there is a lot to treasure. That said, a great deal of melody and softness lingers within Back to Earth– it is an album that does not subjugate or discriminate; it wants to draw everyone in. Bias aside, the band are a friendly and likeable group of musicians doing everything they can to get their music heard. As much as anything, they are inspiring me to write and be daring; to aim as high as possible and change my way of thinking (in terms of songwriting). Too many bands have a disposable nature and one-dimensional charm- few manage to remain ensconced within the collective memory. I hope that this year- as well as future ones- see our heroes subvert natural expectations, and claim their place alongside their idols- Queens’, Pixies, Pavement etc. Give their album a listen, absorb its layers and myriad sounds, and witness a band on the rise; one whom…

HAVE no intention of calling it a day any time soon.


Back to Earth Track Listing:

Bone Collector9.4/10

Tiger Tiger9.3

Wolves of the Netherworld9.3

Feeling Fragile 9.4

Eric- 9.0

Down- 9.6

Make a Little Money (Then You Die)- 8.6

Aranis Natas– 9.7

Bear In the Hospital9.3

All Is Love9.5

Pelican Crossing9.2

She Was a Whore8.7

Shallow Juvenile 9.1

Million Voices 9.4

Standout Track: Aranis Natas.


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