It Was 900 Days Ago Today…
(With Many More To Come).
I look back at the bands, acts and moments that have encapsulated and defined my Musicmusingsandsuch blog; what is to come over the following weeks.
TODAY I am completing a milestone of sorts, looking back at…
all of the great musicians whom I have reviewed over the past two-and-a-bit years. Of course, I cannot mention them ALL, but want to pay tribute to some of the very best; those whom are making waves at the moment- and survived after being reviewed by me! It may seem a bit arbitrary, but it is hard to believe I have hit ‘Publish’ 200 times on Musicmusingsandsuch; put something out into the ether, and watched it being digested and shared. A lot of the time posts have been ignored, a few music acts have not read or recognised my work (I shall not shame them); but a lot of times I have made connections and friendships with some wonderful people. From Yorkshire stunners, through to local solo stars; across to U.S. duos and Scottish bands- I have certainly witnessed a great deal of variation. Every time I review a new act, it inspired my own music; adds something new and makes me rethink things- and improve it. I would like to think that my words and reviews have helped sell some music; touched or compelled the acts affected; but even if that is not the case, it has been a pleasure to hear what is out there. Enough of my ramblings, for I shall get down to things. If I have missed anyone out, I apologise, but I want to thanks every act for their time and patience- and for letting me survey their work. Below are a list of notable review subjects; acts whom are going to be doing huge things in the future- and staking their claim as mainstream acts (in years to come).
Jen Armstrong is an artist I have been in contact with a lot (as-of-late). As we speak, she is travelling the globe; in Finland at the moment, yet ready to head to the U.S. very soon. On March 16th, I featured Jen; labelling her as a ‘Modern-Day Music Icon’- and rightfully so. It hard to deny just how talented she is; how prolific an artist Armstrong is- and how prosperous her future is likely to be. Her heart-melting looks are hard to ignore, but it is when listening to her voice that you get a sense of just how special Armstrong is. After reviewing some of her past work (including her stunning E.P., 60), I was impressed by how assured and wide-ranging a song writer she is. Lyrics look at witty subjects; odd characters and charming avenues- as well as romantic and emotional themes. Armstrong’s voice is unique and potent; able to whisper and sweetly seduce; capable of rising hugely- and producing a monumental belt. The pink-haired Yorkshire stunner is a skilled interpreter, and has improved and reinvented many an original song. If you look at her Patreon page (as well as her Facebook site), you can tell just how talented an artist she is (when she is covering other artist’s songs). Mixed with a flair for nuanced and detailed original songs, the future is likely to be prosperous indeed. I hope that I get to surmount and investigate a future-L.P. from Armstrong, as it is likely to be phenomenal, but for now, I am watching a young woman whom is besotted with, and dedicated to, music- keen to reach as many fans as possible. Our heroine has visited France, Finland, the U.S. (as well as many parts of the U.K.); introducing audiences to her brand of song- allowing them to witness her music first-hand. With a bubbly and open-armed personality, tied with staggering looks and an incredible musical talent, Armstrong seems a ready-made star. Whether festival organisers will come knocking, or if our heroine would prefer to play more intimate and character-filled locations, I am unsure; yet it seems that the future is very much in her hands. In an industry that is fickle and unpredictable, Armstrong is overcoming and conquering its oppressive forces. ‘Live’ concerts (filmed for StageIt; the next one will be recorded in L.A.); constant covers and itinerant live performances mean that few artists deserve success more. Our unsigned heroine deserves a dedicated label to snap her up and help promote her music, but for now, Armstrong is enjoying being on the road; recording music, and pushing her talent as much as possible. I shall be seeing her perform for L.A. (in a few days; from the comfort of my laptop)- I would advise many others to do the same.
Surrey-based Elena Ramona (Elena Stathaki) is an original and striking young artist whom is going to be a huge future prospect. Over the past few weeks, Elena has enjoyed airplay from local stations; a gig in Camden, as well as being confirmed for some illustrious future dates- it seems that many are latching onto her talent. Few young solo artists come along with an original and incomparable voice, yet Elena is a rare example of what uniqueness and originality can do. I have focused Elena on my pages three times. As well as reviewing her single Rise, I also conducted an interview with her- as well as featuring her latest E.P., Hold On. Songs such as Addiction are really striking a chord with the public, and many are resonating with a beautiful artist whom can articulate words that speak to everyone. Words are effective and simple; themes are relatable and tangible- Elena’s more personal songs hit hard too. As well as being a mobile and accomplished writer, it is the voice that comes across emphatically. Like Armstrong, Elena has a powerful and impressive range, able to mix Pop-infused softer edged, soulful sexiness and operatic highs. From speaking with Elena, I know how much she prides her music and how much she wants to succeed. In times of hardship, Elena has managed to overcome anything thrown at her; dedicate herself to her songs- and get her name out there. I am sure that a record label deal will not be too far off; I know that future plans are being conjugated. Elena is looking into E.P. number 2 and formulating ideas at the moment. Hold On was a brave and stunning trio of songs that provide a glimpse of what we could hear in the future. As well as wowing the crowds of Surrey and London, I know that future gigs in further-off places are forthcoming; it is exciting to watch and think how far she will go. Being a solo artist is a difficult thing to crack; being successful can take time and perseverance, but there is no doubt that Elena Ramona will be a big future name.
Annie Drury is one of my recent feature-ees, and one of the brightest names in Cuckoo Record’s stable. I have twice-reviewed Drury before (her song Some Day in May of last year, as well as her E.P. (of the same name) last month); and am always surprised at how much she has to offer. Like Armstrong, this Yorkshire lass has a cannon of witty and charming songs; she can mix tender and romantic alongside hard-hitting and defining topics. Still in her early-20s, Drury is another young artist whom will be one to watch. The likes of BBC Radio Two have played her music, and is someone I am desperate to see perform live. With a voice and set of songs that entrance and stick in your mind, Drury is an artist whom will be making a lot more music. I would love to hear a full album, and it would allow her to fully demonstrate her range and colour chart. Backed by a dedicated and reputable record label, there is no telling what the next few years will hold. On the evidence of her debut E.P., big venues, key festival dates (as well as foreign dates) will be very real possibilities. A lot of solo artists come across as vague and generic; too bland and unappealing to really stake a claim in the public’s consciousness. With our Keighley heroine, there will be no fear of her name being forgotten or ignored. Her personality is down-to-earth, open and honest; she can drink the boys under the table and mix it with the girls- few modern talents have such a variegated and vote-winning projection. If you are unfamiliar with Drury’s music then afford yourself an hour or so; delve into her brilliant work- and discover an act whom be winning hearts for many years to come.
Cuckoo Records: http://www.cuckoorecords.com/artists/annie-drury
Night Wolf is the alias of Luton-based artist Ryan Wilcox. Having reviewed Night Wolf three times (two E.P.s and a song review), I can easily and confidently claim that here is one of the most innovative and striking sole stars on the scene. Whilst Wilcox collaborates with other vocalists and talents, the majesty and music is all his; E.P.s such as Watts The Time Mr. Wolf and The Moonlight mix a myriad of sounds and scenes. Dub-step elements are mixed with elliptical and soothing piano; powerful vocals settle alongside political mandates- our hero is adept at seamlessly blending diverse segments and sounds. I was stunned by how much Night Wolf offers up; classical strings and sweeps can be heard in the same number as Dance and Hip-Hop elements. There are not many acts whom are so bold and inventive, so for that reason, Night Wolf will be a name to watch. I would urge you to listen to The Moonlight, as it is a fresh and vivid statement from an artist whom is not only capable of long-term success, but winning over many new fans. Because a lot of the songs on offer fuse and blend multiple genres, Wilcox is someone whom will be able to unite lovers of diverse genres; tempt in those whom are unadventurous with their tastes- and ensure plenty of ears are waiting by the time E.P. number three arrives.
Lisa Marini is a gorgeous young woman, whom catches the eye immediately. With a stunning smile and some fascinating tattoos, the London-based star stands out from the crowd. Her debut album is afoot, and will be a record that everyone should try to get a hold of. My first exposure to Marini was her song Wonderful– that was back in March, 2013. When summarising the track’s beauty, I described it thus: “The lyrics track well, and the story is both universal and deeply personal. It is a song that will resonate with many people, and not just those in the female demographic. The chorus is perfectly placed and tight and adds a delicate mood shift after the verses. The vocal performance is solid and fascinating“. Tracks such as Times Like This (from her forthcoming album) show a modicum of what Marini has to offer; her voice and lyrics are spellbinding and demand repeated listens- her songs get underneath your skin. Over the next few weeks, Marini will be promoting her album, and visiting as many faces as possible. Her smoky, dusky and sexy deliver mark her voice out as something special, and the L.P.’s tracks are likely to be songs you be listening to over and over. With colourful hair and body art, striking looks and a determined and original song sheet, Marini is an artist worthy of wide exposure and great potential. If you are in the market for an artist whom will be making music for a long, long time; who is capable of winning your heart; as well as inspiring the mind- then you can hardly find a better act around.
Little Violet is Cherie Gears’ alter-ego, and one of a small band of artists reinterpreting Swing music of the ’40s and ’50s. In March of last year, I reviewed two tracks from Little Violet: Shut Up and Don’t Stop. The electrifying and fast-paced energy of the latter balanced beautifully with the seductive and femme fatale crawl of the former- it was a wonderful double A-side. Another jewel from the Cuckoo Records crown, the northern beauty has a raw and mesmeric sex appeal that the movie stars of the ’40s projected; graceful and alluring; yet our heroine is every inch the modern-day icon. Gears plays with a band; Jazz and Swing themes are whipped up in the form of keys, horns, double bass and strings- it is a whirling cacophony of genuine Swing, updated for the ’00s. I know there are a few other acts whom are making Electro-Swing moves, but Little Violet is amongst the very best. With a debut album in-the-works, it will give the public a chance to see what our heroine can achieve; how direct and enchanting her music is- and turn a lot of new ears onto genres that are being overlooked. There is a lot of Pop and Rock being played in the mainstream; many new acts tend to stick rigidly to ‘safe’ genres; yet Little Violet is a bold talent whom is reviving and reworking the glorious swing and sway of past eras- a tactic and lifestyle that will reap huge rewards. There is a definite niche and market gap for Violet’s type of music, so it will not be too long before stardom and mainstream regard is realised. Check out her current work, as it gives an indication of where this young talent is headed- and just how good she is.
With a talent for D.I.Y. music and a collection of songs that haunt as well as cheer, Second Hand Poet is a hungry and talented solo talent. When I reviewed his song, Little Sun (last May), I claimed that there were “indie edges, lighter Britpop hints, and above all, a keen and sharp ear for melody and mood-setting. The acoustic scenes and lines, swoon and endeavour with riparian flavours. At once the atmosphere is light and sensual; there is a sense that the author is trying to convey scenes filled with sun, Summer, and peace“. The Surrey-based Acoustic artist is working hard and long to put his music together; working jobs in order to raise fund to fund his talent. Jamie Tipson is the man behind the moniker, and his 12-track debut album (available on BandCamp) is a home-made treat; all the mixing and recording was done by our hero. The tracks on the album are a wealth of emotions, shades and insights, and showcase a young artist whom is determined to get his music heard. With all proceeds from his album going to a B.U.A.V. (a charity that fights against animal cruelty), Tipson’s personality, benevolence and human spirit shines through; few acts have such consideration- and few have the musical talent our hero does. If you like your music compelling; with sunny edges; instilled with heart and humanity, then you need to check out Second Hand Poet. I know that Tipson has been playing gigs in Surrey and locally, yet I am sure that a wider audience awaits through the U.K. He deserves a huge consideration and large patronage; I am sure that the rest of 2014 will see fruition and development. If his debut L.P. is anything to go by, we will be hearing a heap more from this bold artist.
Alison Levi strikes you with her personality: her wit and likeable charm. If you check out her Twitter feed, she comes across as bright, funny and warm; someone whom can easily connect with anyone- and is dedicated to her music. A few months back I reviewed a live version of her track Boy You Better Run. Stunned by her voice and songwriting ability it compelled me to declare: “It is perhaps Levi’s voice that does the loudest talking. It is no hyperbole to compare her with Cassidy. I have been listening to videos of Cassidy performing at Blues Alley. There, the legend made songs such as Cheek to Cheek, Blue Skies and Stormy Monday her own- the guitar and piano/keyboard style and sound is comparable too. I mentioned that Levi has an air of Cassidy in her beauty, and it is a genuine observation rather than an attempt of flattery. I am unsure whether Cassidy is a name on Levi’s radar, yet she should be proud. There is plenty of present-day tones within Levi’s voice; the likes of Dangerously In Love-era Beyonce are detectable, as well as Laura Marling and jazz and soul“. Our London-based heroine will be making fervent moves very soon, and I am sure that an album and future tour dates are in her mind. Stagedoor F.M. highlighted Levi as one of their ‘ones to watch 2014’; her powerful and soulful voice is certainly something that demands you attention. The market is a crowded and capricious one, but I am confident Levi will be amongst the major contenders coming through in the next few years. She is a skilful interpreter too, and someone whom can transform songs and bring them to life. Keeping an eye out for this vibrant young talent, as she is going to be someone we will all be familar with very shortly.
Steve Heron is a multi-talented Scot, whom I have featured a couple of times before. In April (2013) I reviewed his tracks, Saltwater and Picturesque. On both occasions, I was impressed by the Motown edges; the sonic blasts and energy throughout. Heron has just released the video for Saltwater, and our hero is someone whom is making a name in his native country. Heron has shades of The Smiths and Pavement, and with a powerful and emotive voice he is grabbing the attention of many critics. Bainbridge Edinburgh proclaimed: “Edinburgh’s prodigal son. He has managed to cram all the hooks and catchy choruses there are in the world into his set“. Our hero is capable of producing tender and heartfelt tracks (Eleanor); as well as tracks infused with Punk riffs and rampant smash. The cheeky Scot has been making music for a few years now, and seems to be one of the hardest working musicians around. Many of you may be familiar Universal Thee, and Heron performed with the band at The Ralph’s Life CD Edinburgh Launch Party (a couple of days ago). There are few artists out there that have Heron’s sonic range and back catalogue. The future will see our hero embarking on more tour dates, as well as releasing new music. I am sure that he will be playing huge festivals and dates before too long, and it will be richly deserved. Too many artists are homogenized and stale, and Heron is leading a charge of pioneering and distinctive acts capable of remaining on the scene for decades.
Nina Schofield is a solo artist I reviewed recently. When featuring her Colours E.P., I came away from the experience with a smile- knowing that I was hearing a future star make her mark. Towards the end of my review I wrote that I “…have reappraised my own music collection, and added Colours to it; it is a collection that offers something new with each listen- sure to brush away the cobwebs and inspire the creative mind. When it all boils down to it, the best and most memorable music is that which compels you to make your own..“. Schofield’s voice is arresting and gorgeous, her stunning locks and natural talent means that she has caught the attentions of many local outlets. Having performed around Surrey recently, many are becoming attuned to our heroine’s superb music. She is writing music that can be understood and loved by everyone; themes that are relevant and relatable to a wide sector of people; she is sure to have a huge and busy international career very shortly. Off of the back of her latest E.P., Schofield is going to be performing at various locations; charming and seducing new audiences- and ensuring her music reaches as many ears as is possible. I am sure that many up-and-coming solo acts will take inspiration from our heroine’s songs; compelled to project their own experiences in a similar way. There are a lot of impressive and hard-working female solo artists on the scene at the moment, and Schofield offers something new, original and striking. She will be making waves beyond Surrey and London; hitting the hearts and minds of people around the U.K. (and abroad), and cementing her reputation as one of the most engaging and potent new talents around.
Another female talent making serious impression at the moment, is Lydia Baylis. The beautiful Welsh songstress has been on my radar for quite a while. When I investigated her track, Life Without You, I was impressed by Baylis’ voice; her incredible songwriting grasp- and the way the track hits you. Its chorus and lines stick in your brain for an insane amount of time; her voice caresses and powers; drops you to your knees and makes you smile- few other artists have been able to do that to me. Our heroine’s is one of the most stunning and striking musicians out there, and her songs not only capture her personal experiences; but infuse literary references and darker themes. With shimmer, augmentative and evocative sonics, her songs are full and rich; packed with emotion and atmosphere- marking her out as one of the most impressive talents for years. Baylis’ album, A Darker Trace, has been in progress since 2012 and will be unveiled shortly; but I would encourage all people reading to investigate her music. Mirrors is a cinematic and hypnotic number; Happy Man boasts a soothing and tender vocals, backed with shimmering percussion- it is only a paucity of her range. Her gob-smacking beauty and intoxicating smile are capable of overwhelming, yet the music that is offered up drops you to your knees. Baylis has been performing at intimate gigs around the country, and is one of several names (I have mentioned them here) that will be a future star. There is no fakery or pretension to our heroine; her natural charm and talent shines through, and because of her well-read and curious mind, Baylis is able to vividly paint scenes- ones that put the listener directly in the song. One of my ambitions for this year is to meet her and tell her how much her music means to me; yet for the time being, I will listen to what she has produced- and look forward to what is to come.
The first of my two duos is the stellar Yorkshire outfit, Issimo. Abi Uttley and Marc Otway are the boy-girl pair whom have been responsible for some of the catchiest, most impressive and memorable songs I have heard in many-a-year. My I investigated the duo’s music, I was taken aback by how assured it sounded. Marc Otway is one of the finest composers and songwriters of his generation, and is a multi-instrumental wonder. His eye and ear for melody and rich composition come through in their music; Uttley’s gorgeous and sensation voice takes your breath and adds colour and life to the music- the duo combine vocals seamlessly as well. Publications, radio stations and magazines have all paid homage to the stunning Yorkshire pair, and I cannot wait to hear their debut album. Whilst a future L.P. is being talked about, I find myself listening back to songs such as Money and Carpe Diem. Marc and Abi are two of my favourite music peeps, and I look forward to reviewing them very shortly. Each time they unveil a new track, I am impressed by the range and passion instilled within. They do not just deal with witty two-handers; love and romance are investigated; arrogant humans are debunked and put to rights- life lessons and morals are wonderfully realised and assessed. The duo have a brother-sister sympatico, yet also a romantic tension lingering. Of course it is all for the sake of the music, but when they spar and mix you get the impression of a single voice; two people whom should not be separated. With Marc’s sublime compositional ability and Uttley’s multiple talents and stunning voice, they are a match made in heaven. As well as pioneering and electioneering throughout Yorkshire, the two-piece have been taking their music on the road- and amazing as they go. Feedback and social media fervency tells you all you need to know: these guys are going to be enormous names to watch. If you don’t believe me, check out their fabulous music…
My second duo- and another boy/girl combination- hail from down here in the south- they are Gypsyfingers. Last week, I was lucky enough to review their debut album, Circus Life. As well as extolling the virtues of their music, I also focused on its two stars: Victoria Coghlan and Luke Oldfield. Our heroine’s voice is one of the most staggering and beautiful music has to offer. She has a chirpy and modern-edged edge; able to rap with a natural ability and conviction; her emotional and romantic side is evocative and compelling- her vocal harmonising is simply dreamy and ethereal. As a songwriter she is one of the very best around, able to mix scenes of street life with down-on-their-luck anti-heroes (and heroines); paens to freedom, nature and the open air- as well as darker and shadowy elements of circus life and captivity. Oldfield is an incredible musician and producer, and as well as boasting an impressive and atmospheric set of pipes, he blends perfectly with Coghlan. The two are at their finest on their debut L.P. and it is being launched three days from now (in London). Everyone has to hear this album, and experience the majesty for themselves. I advised that “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“- never a truer word have I written.
One of the band that features most in my reviews, is Scotland’s Universal Thee. Fronted by husband-and-wife duo James and Lisa Russell, the band is one of the best Scotland have to offer. When I reviewed their album, Back to Earth recently, I announced that it was one of my favourite albums of the year- it is not hard to see why. With Pixies-cum-Pavement edges; some elements of the local scene, as well as a whole boatload of original talent and intent, you cannot help but fall in love with the band. Few acts come along that are able to present such a range of heavy sounds, yet with our striking five-piece you are always amazed at just what they are capable of. Of course, there are softer and more emotional moments to be heard, but the crew are at their strongest when whipping up a storm. Lisa and James’ voice are distinct and unique; yet perfectly fit together. The band as a whole is tight, action-packed and completely compelling. The next few months should see great reward come the band’s way. I know how hard they have worked on their L.P., and many reviewers have given it an emphatic thumbs-up. There is demand to see them in London and down south, and I hope to see them very soon. At the moment, the group are gaining new followers and fans, and I am sure will be in-demand amongst festival organisers. With their innate and swaggering mandates, few bands are as ready-made and primed to play the festivals and big arenas. It is a possibility Universal Thee will have to get used to, and all the success that will befall them is rightly deserved. When I wrote (with relation to Back to Earth) “…is an album that does not subjugate or discriminate; it wants to draw everyone in. Bias aside, the band is 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)“. If you are unfamilar with the Scottish wonders, familiarise yourself as soon as possible.
Jingo are going to be my next review subjects. In terms of historical reviewing, this U.S./U.K. band are one of my oldest friends. With husband-and-wife pairing Jack and Katie Buckett (who is the sole American in the band), the quartet are one of the finest bands currently playing. Their debut album is out in the summer, but I have already witnessed 1Q84, Same Without You and The Matador. Few acts come under my gaze three times, yet I am excited to be investigating them for a fourth time. With each track comes a new sound and subject. 1Q84 is my favourite of their past songs, and I wrote: “Katie demonstrates a huge vocal range and prowess; capable of switching from a mannered restraint, through to an emotional and powerful belt. There is no needless posturing or ululation: she is filled with genuine passion and conviction. Jack demonstrates an ability to be able to create a calm mood, that keeps the song level one moment, and at the next he can infuse a sense of electricity and danger into the mix; able to whip up a storm with his guitar. Joseph shows some real power and panache when armed with sticks. He can bolster and avalanche, as well as keep a steady and dedicated beat. This, couple with intelligent and memorable lyrics, brews together beautifully and provides an intoxicating and over-powering kick“. Keep an eye out next week, as another of their tracks comes under my microscope, but I am fully expecting to be blown away. Jingo are one of the few bands with a detailed and authoritative official site. Not only eye-catching and full-bodied, it gives you everything you need; music, biography and photos are all there- making it much easier for people to discover their music. Their latest single Before You Were Born is going to be something I’ll be surveying, but it is clear enough that Jingo are going places. Although based in the U.K., the band will have many in the U.S., Australia (and elsewhere) keen to hear their music in the flesh.
Los and the Deadlines draw their members from various parts of the globe. The bearded and wild-haired brethren have been causing enraptured sighs throughout London audiences for a long while now. Their E.P., Part One: Bank was met with huge acclaim, and I myself was compelled to write: “I am sure that an album will be in the back of the group’s minds, and they will have their eyes trained with a wide focus. It is paramount that we celebrate and promote the genuinely brilliant (and separate them from the chaff). Alex, Niels, Agostino and Alberto should be proud of what they achieve and have no fear about the future“. There is a bit of Led Zeppelin to their potent punch; a bit of Pixies and The Mars Volta- with some shades of Queens of the Stone Age. One thing that impressed me, was what a range the boys have. Songs vary between investigations of the banking crisis; ne’er-do-wells in the local pub- right through to the orgasmic capacity of caffeine. I am confident that the rest of this year will see the four-piece working on album ideas and new songs; playing hard and fast- and getting their name heard as much as possible. If you are not a fan of the ‘influences’ I have listed, then have no fear: their music can be loved and appreciated by everyone. With a flair and energy that compels you to nod your head, sing along and throw your arms in the air, the boys struck upon a riotous and nuanced Rock template- one that is seducing many around the world.
The final band I am going to look into, is Crystal Seagulls. Like Jingo, these London lads have been featured on my blog numerous times- in fact, more than anyone. From Heart Won’t Beat through to Time, I have loved hearing what the quartet have to offer. Lead by Jim Lawton, the boys have already played some note-worthy gigs and venues: they are a band whom seem naturally at home amongst large crowds. They are a loveable and down-to-earth group that mean serious business; they want to be around for as long as possible- it is something that should they will not struggle to obtain. When I investigated Heart Won’t Beat and Hands Inside The Dark a few months ago, I was amazed by the difference on offer. I described Heart Won’t Beat as having a “pulsing and slinking intro. immediately puts your mind to attention. It has a whiff of Bill Withers’ Lovely Day; a smidge of Another One Bites The Dust- as well a relationship of menace and melody. The snaking coda certainly has plenty of groove; it has a kiss of funk that you could imagine Prince snapping up“. Hands Inside The Dark was assessed, thus: “Whilst Sol Invictus presided over our previous track, Neptune rules over Hands Inside The Dark. Crystal Seagulls shift through the gears and unveil an interdiction. The introduction is a lot heavier and harder than Heart‘ and it is apt that the band describe the track as “A rocky, raw and raunchy tale of infidelity with a touch of the psychedelic”. It is clear that the song takes its belt off and starts to unbutton long before any words have been sung. Whilst the mood is not entirely oppressive and dark, there is plenty of force and intention offered forth. It has the feel of classic rock tracks/bands of the ’60s and ’70s, yet has a vibrancy and off-the-moment sound that puts you in mind of the likes of Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys“. The guys mix happiness and summer sounds with sex and sweat; they can mix it up and thrown down- and implore tenderly. The band market is a tough and unforgiving one, and has its fair share of participants and contenders. Crystal Seagulls have already accomplished a lot, and as this year ends, they will be thinking ahead. I am sure an L.P. will be amongst their ambitions, and I for one, cannot wait to hear it.
Newbies and special mentions:
Before I conclude, I want to mention some special names; people who have helped me out, inspired me; or else been notable review subjects. The first name was my first full review: Chess. Fran Galea is the woman behind Chess, and is a Surrey-based artist I have known for a long time now. I have reviewed both Babygirl (her first E.P.) and Tuxedo (her latest one); as well as Happy End. When surveying Happy End, stated: “Overall the number has hints of female blues legends, as well as modern pop icons. Unlike many of her peers- complete with distended egos- Chess is not going out of her way to model herself to conform to a status quo, or fit into a mould. She is doing what she wants to do, not what she has to. Her voice has elements also of male counterparts such as Matt Corby and Ben Howard; her songwriting ability is incredibly impressive and developed for one so young, and her passion and conviction nods to some of her idols such as Freddie Mercury and Prince“. With the release of Babygirl, Chess grew and showed herself to be one of the strongest solo artists around. Its three tracks looked at redemption, love and weathering the storm- and I was hugely impressed by what was on offer. Tuxedo was a bold step forward and showed (once more) how much Chess had grown. Sexier and harder themes lingered, with songs such as Vanity having a hard edge and biting tongue. A more seductive and empowered voice was coming through, and our young heroine has a bright future ahead of her. As well as being gorgeous and instilled with a hugely emotive voice, Chess is ambitious and hard-working. In between original releases, she works on cover version; collaborates and writes new tracks. She is a talented songwriter and artist and one of the most original voices out there. I am sure that I will be reviewing Chess in the near-future, and I am sure plans are afoot for E.P. 3- until then, investigate a young woman with a lot to say.
Just after I reviewed Chess’s Happy, Katsuo provided the inspiration for my sophomore review. Alex Larkman is the man behind Katsuo, and his track Stereo Jesus was an early favourite of mine. When investigate the song, I deduced: “…Overall it is an impressive song that will not leave your head any time soon. It is memorable, catchy, and impressive indeed complete with a strong vocal and lyrics. For anyone like me who worships at the shrine of rock, soul, stoner rock and metal such as myself, it is time to reappropriate any misapprehension. ‘Stereo Jesus’ is a track which demands your attention. It stays true to its dub step roots, and will appeal particularly to its hardcore. If you like Skrillex Chase and Status, Example and their ilk, you will love this. However it has a jour de vive, that means it will also ignite fans of Jackson, Prince and has a testicular attitude that will enrapture rock fans as well“. Katsuo is one of the most innovative artists around, and like Night Wolf, mixes genres and sounds together- to create wonderfully inventive and layered tracks. As a hugely successful Rockstep artist, our hero is going to be busy in the coming months. Larkman’s unique image catches the eye, and his swaying, catchy and pulsating numbers stick in your brain and will compel you to listen over and over. His Twitter and Facebook army is growing and swelling, and Katsuo will be one of the big artists to watch in the coming year.
Before I end, I want to mention a few more people. Kudos goes to Cuckoo Records and Phil Cass, whom have provided me with a number of great acts to review- including Little Violet, Annie Drury, Raglans and Cissie Redgwick. I am in regular contact with Phil and am always excited when another Cuckoo talent is brought to my attention. I hope to be working closely with them throughout the next year. I want to mention Vanessa Soto and The Open Feel, two U.S. acts whom have supported me (and in the case of the latter, a review opportunity). The likes of State of Georgia have also been sweet and supportive, too- so thanks very much. Newcomer Ruby Macintosh is one of my most recent reviews, and someone whom is going to be a future star; her stunning voice and words burrow into your heart and brain- she is one of the finest new talents I have had the pleasure to review.
My final two shout-outs go to Kate Hollowood and Chloe Jane Sparrow. Chloe’s music blog was one of the reasons for me to review music. Up until that point, I was a bit sceptical of surveying new music, and it was whilst reading her blog, that I was compelled to start investigating new acts. She is one of the most dedicated music-lovers I have ever met, and continues to inspire me as a writer. Kate is someone whom made me start my blog, full stop. After discovering her Mylittleponderings blog, I began mine, and found it not only a great way to get things off my mind; but keep it going. She has been endlessly supportive and without her, none of the above would have been possible- none of the 200 posts would have been. So to her: thanks for everything.
Christ, it sounds like an Oscar speech, but a lot of people have helped me push myself as a reviewer; all the great artists listed above have inspired me in my own music, and compelled me to keep writing. I hope that all the acts I have featured continue to work hard and look forward to the rest of the year. They have all worked immensely hard, and are deserving of any success they achieve. To them, thanks awfully for the first 200 blog posts; and hey..
HERE’s to the next 200!