Feature: Sounds of 2016- Part Three




Sounds of 2016- Part Three


THIS coming week I have been looking ahead to 2016…

and the bands/acts/musicians that will making a mark throughout the year.  From U.S. treasures to British bands, there are so many passionate and great musicians making plans for the coming year- new recordings and tour dates; it will be exciting to see.  Time for the final 30 …






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Martha Paton




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Hannah Pisani


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Rosie Crow




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Meat Loving Vegans




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Vinyl Staircase




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Gemma Louise Doyle




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In Hoodies




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The Condors




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False Advertising




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Tiny Rhymes




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The Falling Birds



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Ruby Lane Music





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Sir Gant and the Invisible Force




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Lisa Marini




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Sophia Ben Yousef




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Their single All You Want is available from:



The Glass Child




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God Damn




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Beth Macari




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Little Violet




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Rouge United



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Lydia Baylis




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Mrs. Skannotto




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Feature: Sounds of 2016- Part Two




Sounds of 2016- Part Two





THIS coming week I will be looking ahead to 2016…

And the bands/acts/musicians making a mark throughout the year.  From U.S. treasures to British bands, there are so many passionate and great musicians making plans for the coming year- new recordings and tour dates; it will be exciting to see.  Time for the next 30 …



Lauren Housley




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Noah Clouds





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Them & Us



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Eliza Shaddad




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Archi Deep and the Monkeyshakers




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The State of Georgia





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Feature: Sounds of 2016- Part One





Sounds of 2016- Part One




THIS coming week I will be looking ahead to 2016…

and the bands/acts/musicians making a mark throughout the year.  From U.S. treasures to British bands, there are so many passionate and great musicians making plans for the coming year- new recordings and tour dates; it will be exciting to see.  I start with the first 30 acts to watch…


Sofia Talvik




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Dana McKeon




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Lola Coca




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Jen Armstrong



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The Mono LPs




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Echo Arcadia




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FiFi Rong




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The Mouse Outfit




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Universal Thee




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These Your Children




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This Modern Hope




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Braver than Fiction



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The Black Fields




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Elena Ramona




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Jo Kelsey Music




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Ellene Masri




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Billie Marten




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Antifreeze in Summer: The Lyrics



“The Journey”

Mine’s a Double!


East End Boys

Hold On, Don’t Let Go

Love at Third Sight


“The Journey” (5:34)


Female pop star:

I don’t think I could have done this without the support of my friends, family…and…um…it’s been an emotional rollercoaster; like fate, you know?  Yeah, but like, it’s been one incredible journey…”


Give me a break honey, for Christ’s sake

You ain’t got a clue what a struggle takes

Been on a journey?  You ain’t moved a yard

Sounding like everyone else out there isn’t that hard

Putting nonsense lyrics over a contemporary composition

Don’t want to be an original just settle for tradition

But no, no, I’ll humour you girl

You been traveling the globe an emotional whirl

Nightly blood-shed violence; some geezer kicks your door

Another sleepless night and conversations with the law

That rite-of-passage that’s a hard ol’ life

Not obsessing on social media over shares, comments or likes

The ReverbNation charts; the YouTube views and shit

Your pouting Instagram photos; your epileptic fits

Male solo artist:

Man I have to work all day, like.  Why ain’t local radio playing my songs?  I put in all the clichés, you know; heartache and love so what did I do wrong?  It has a nice piano line and a chorus you can sing.  One Direction make it work so why aren’t I worth a damn…”


You wanna know why eh?  Because there’s 20 million like you

Want the green, won’t bleed red, all blue blood; black that ain’t true

All tweak and faked; no soul, emotion, no point

So long as you get the money you don’t care about this joint

Could get them buzzing with a catchy beat and slick rhyme

That would take some talent though; a little bit of time

But don’t bother yourself, no, it’ll be okay we’ll make do

Guess there’s a pioneer out there; a couple, a few?

Wanna make a difference then cut the talent show crap

Don’t give me that hard-luck bullshit; it’s all fallen in your lap

You ever seen a fight they didn’t show on Netflix?

I know you’ve dated so losers and no some no-good pricks

I’d rather have my music heard by a few ‘cos the hurt is real

Don’t give a damn ‘bout Kiss F.M. so long as I can feel…

Like me, a real person; saying what’s happening out there

All you sound-alike bands; your clean-cut and well-quaffed hair

Band member:

We’d like to thank our fans this year for supporting the album and inspiring the music.  It’s been really hard, but you know, but it has been our best year and one hell of a journey…


Excuse me mate, toss that work around; you even know what it means?

It ain’t a spiritual thing or emotional definition or a dream

It is physical progression, a movement then I’ll listen man

I don’t hear anything ground-breaking in your 3-chord jams

Foo Fighters riffs, Arctic Monkeys vocals, a girl on your mind?

It seems like miss what’s-her-name ain’t really been too kind

Ah bless, she broke your heart?  Must be the fucking first

Because everyone’s doing it the same and putting it all in verse

Why not pick your language carefully; do something quite bold

Because that whining and ball-bitchin’ is getting somewhat old

Throw in a key change; a nifty or sleepy chorus

How could something so fresh ever go and bore us?

Radio D.J.:

A new Indie band with a promising future.  Catchy choruses and stunning vocals that are getting people excited.  Songs that deal with very real-life issues and…


You been penniless lately?  Felt the sting of depression strike?

Or did some naughty boy in Nikes just run off with your bike?

Can’t afford a Caribbean holiday so you’ll have to go to France

I’ll put this all down in writing of the public give me a chance

How about you sleep alone or spend a night out on the street?

All those who struggle that you walk past begging at your feet

The kids with no happiness; no prospects, no fun

You have that silver spoon in your mouth; well they have a gun

When they get free they’ll document it over an industrial loop

Some liquid bass, cutting words; something more astute

May not be a chart smash; the teenage girls may get vexed

It won’t appeal to your Facebook posts, first-world problems, texts…

Death of the Sweetheart is here giving an even-hand education

Antifreeze in Summer in your veins brings about a new sensation

Let’s make a change and take it back to make the future bright

Because what we have right here?  Well (laughs) oh yeah…right

Girl band member:

Thanks to everyone that’s listened to us.  Those struggles we had this year with the chart positions and break-ups.  Having the fans’ confidence, like, has you know?  It’s been a real blessing; helping us every step of the way on this… incredible journey”.


Mine’s a Double! (3:32)



Oi, oi, don’t want no trouble

Oh boy if I get buried under the rubble

Savloy no-one’s going to burst my bubble

Oi mate, make mine a double!


Right it’s Friday that would make this wine o’ clock!

Except let’s start with beers wouldn’t want the lads to mock

Three layers-thick at the bar; what the ‘ell!

If that geezer knocks my pint I’ll send him to Hell!

Don’t want to fight just ignite a J.D. and coke!

Throw a Jagerbomb in there a Courvoisier, mad jokes!

I’ll fall on my arse I’m not a turtle; I’ll be straight back!

Show the girls some muscle; flash a little crack

By the time it comes to close I’ll be wasted on the street

Lying in a daze, ambulance and paramedics by my feet

Then it’s off to hospital me, Darren, Mick and Den

Hey hey by the morning break I’ll be back at it all again



Let’s break this down shall we?

Why not sort your life out.  What are you boozing for?

You know alcohol is a depressant so I don’t want to bore

But get a grip; have a life and maybe on a Friday night

You write a song, do something productive not star in fight

The hazy heads and expensive meds.; does it really make it better?

You’re A&E, D.O.A., D.U.I., D.I.V.; try choosing some different letters”.


Back at The King’s Head and Suzy’s looking pretty firm

Get another pint and yeah bruv, think it’ll be my turn

Take her to an alleyway and seduce her from behind

Then when we’re done I’ll walk her home; that would be kind?

Right now I’m, wankered; and man this pool table’s upside down!

(Laughs) It’s alright Daz; another Stella will turn it the right way round

I may be late for work again but the boss I know he’ll be mad

Screw it we’re only young once; having fun out with the lads

No harm done apart from some broken arm; he’ll walk it off!

(Landlord): Last call people!

You what?  I’m not having that, he’s well soft!

I pay that guy’s wages; what you looking at you mug!?

Let’s have five more for the road and get away from all these thugs!



Let’s break this down shall we?

(Starts to fade down):

Do I need to repeat myself, it just seems like…



Amelia (5:54)


Boys’ choir:

Three years in a row you’ve been voted the most popular girl’s name

For even-more years before you’ve been the boys’ favourite dame

Give it is this life and live it in the next

The wordplay you scream out every time you have s-e-x

Istanbul not Constantinople; an empire all-but purged

Amelia you’re breaking our heart; shaking our confidence daily”.


It must have been last Friday and I was at the local K.F.C.

I flashed my glance in your direction; you chatting at your friend Tracey

Your fake fur and false tan; that attitude was pretty real

Those bed notches on your cheek; this girl’s out for a thrill!

Was chatting shit to Dave whilst ordering my bargain bucket

As you looked my way tried to smile, but, oh man, fuck it!

I blew my nerve and paid my words you laughed that girlish coo

Tottering your 3ft heels to that outside Beemer; all shiny, new and blue

Kissing that cropped-haired guy with tattoos; a muscled prick I see

Your chaperone, dog with a bone, one-night man, she wouldn’t want me

That cheeky grin you threw me as that car pulled away

Gave me some false hope; I explained this all to expertly to Dave

So I left with the chicken and hope in heart; mayonnaise on jeans

We cracked a crude sexual one-liner; well you know what I mean!


A vision in Essex astro-suede those boys all like it rough

But behind it all Amelia is quite shy; she ain’t really that tough

The girl from west of Mayfair; the boy from the east of Hackney Wick

Yeah, this could happen so all you fools can just hit the bricks!

Now I down a can of Budweiser and head to the Club U.S.A.

To the local spot where the underage psychos all play away

The bouncer starts all shirty and wants to see some I.D.

I flash a nervous smile and a hand over a handsome bribery fee

Past the vomiting couple doing it doggy on the stairs

Through the doors to the Viper Room where hope battles with despair

Sweaty pissheads rhapsodise to Calvin Harris, Swedish Mafia or some shit

Rude boys slipping Es discreetly to 16-year-old girls well off their tits

To the toilets, ah yes, a confidence boost; every toilet door being pounded

Orgasms among the muted bass-lines all my confidence was compounded

Oh Amelia, you’re breaking my heart, you’re shaking my confidence daily!


So I fight my way to the bar, pushed asunder by some leery dick

One racist geezer shouts “mental oriental!”; Jesus some people are so thick!

Down another G&T, wish these V.I.P.s and G.I.T.s would R.I.P.

Although not in peace because you can’t hear a word among all this noise

No humanity just profanity; no eye contact, just people staring at expensive toys

Just about to call it quits whilst Dave calls up for a taxi

He turns and says “Ain’t that the K.F.C. bird and her mate Tracey?

Every eye swerves verve and every boy turns to perve

An angel from south of Highbury; these clowns all got a nerve!

Their Mockney accents and cheap lines: “You must have fallen from Heaven”!

Give us a break mate, what are you, like eleven?

Nah, I’m out of here; I accidentally brush Amelia on my way out

Grab my coat from the pink-haired girl with the purple lipstick pout

The girl on my mind she ameliorating my life; excuse my crafty wordplay

If I play it cool and causal, you know it might well be my day!


Alone in the July air as siren’s blare the fuzz are here

Cuffing all the hooligans; getting too fresh, seven too many beers

While the wagons pull away, see Amelia fumble for a Marlboro Light

I drift in and seize the chance and say: “Don’t I know you, right?

We share a lame old joke regarding queuing in line for our K.F.C.

I laugh all nervous and lean in, she smiles and kisses me

Dave distracts Tracey with a Shakespearean aside; I hail a cab

We buckle in and race up-town destined for my pad

Arriving at the curb we get out: “’ere mate, keep the change!”

Get heavy in the bedroom I show her my full histrionic range

It’s all a blur the next morning see the lipstick mark on my pillow

Knickers on the bed stand, radio playing that song about Amarillo

Walking back from the bathroom I see a note there and read it aloud:

Darling I don’t feel very proud.  I’m a career girl and don’t commit; I really had a ball.  Maybe I’ll see you in K.F.C. (lol) or maybe not at all

I wipe away a tear; that girl stole my heart and…

Oh shit, she stole my phone, wallet, everything!

What a mug I can hear it now, the boys’ choir they will all sing:

Boys’ choir:

Easy son, it’s not your fault don’t let her get to you

By this time tomorrow she’ll be dumping number 2-0-2

That girl she ain’t a true love; not a true love see mate

You two were different classes this ain’t your fate

A decent and naïve boy a fine motor but second-hand car

Just thank your stars you didn’t end up with that vixen Amelia”.


Amelia, you’re breaking our heart, you’re shaking our confidence daily.




East End Boys (8:12)



This is Death of the Sweetheart and Antifreeze is Summer.  Rhymes not slick as the streets or pack that dizzy beat; but last night, saw this…


Joe: What the hell, you seen Facebook status, who is this Tina girl all hating?

(Reading it out): “Joe Buckley is a real prick and should die”.  You hear that mate?

Hero: Just let it go mate; it’s only social media so don’t let it grate

Blow it off bud, we’re next in line get your coinage primed

Joe: Nah fuck that; Claire Menzie liked this post; what a bloody joke!

Share, like, comment?

Claire that Dyke must be on something!

Hero: Who the Hell is Tina anyway

That girl I saw you with the other day?

Joe: Just a girl I dated, so overrated

Wouldn’t want to procreate so hit it hard to third base

Then she was all in my grill; wouldn’t let me go until…

Kept saying she wanted to date; hung up wanted to chill with mates

Now she’s posting this scorn for all and sundry to see

Look, now; likes are up to 6; comments now up to 23!

Hero: I’m having the spicy zinger burger.  You?

Joe: True, alright I’ll let it lie

Even though I hope that bird dies

Look mate it’s that fine piece Amelia

She’s be the top of my bucket list

The finger-licking chick I’d like to kiss

Speaking of buckets, Tina can kick it when I bring it

Fuck it!

Hero: Just cool it mate, you ain’t thinking at your best

Just let’s go home and get rid of all this stress

Joe: Nah get the boys and the Ford Fiesta

When Amelia bends can see the crack in her jugs, ah!

Pray one day she’ll let me mess with her

Get the rest of the boys from the Isle of Dogs

That girl has got me down and grinding me cogs

Know you’d rather spend a night chatting reflective pronouns

I’d rather take revenge; that bitch the low-blow, hoe-down

So let’s get ourselves sharpish into town

(Across town the girls offer their retort…)


Claire: Oh Tina, that slag Joe is cussing you bad

That post I commented; said he’d like to cut me bad

What a tool a loser, he’s so sad

Truth must hurt; that ain’t a man he’s a lad!

Tina: Look at the Facebook status

That Chelsea slag Tina really hates us

Current location: Camden

Let’s go in tandem, get the rest of the girls

Get The Swifts crew

Take on that boy and make him blue

Thinks I’m a slow-honed, low-boned, hoe-down

I’ve seen his mum and galactic bum; takes one to know one!

(Girls all laugh)

Claire: Woah, stop the car- the light are still on

Tony Turner’s Deluxe Knives and Guns

Let’s grab a pistol for fun the geezer owes me one

Tina: Yeah, sure; ain’t that your man Rebecca?

Rebecca: Nah boy was crap in bed; like a 2-inch pecker

Guess this is his way to over-compensate

But nah, it’s cool, we’re sweet, we’re mates

Claire: Be quick mind, we’re going to be late

Tina: Relax Joe’s retarded; doubt he can even drive

By the end of the night he’ll wish he ain’t alive

Not lucky enough for suicide

How dare he hurt my pride!

(Across town…)


Hero: Mate, this is going too far

Let’s just grab a quiet pint at the bar

In the morning you’ll be over her

Instead of mock her; have that bird Amelia

Joe: Yeah she’d be good for my ego

Great for the show and blow; a walk down death row

Rich: What you talking about Joe?

Joe: Shut up Rich just drive this shit bro!

Don’t go so freaking slow put down the toe

Tina’s current location: Camden

Damn man, she’s so near!

Just want her to disappear

Rich: Woah, that girl; ain’t that her girl Stacy?

Claire, Rebecca, Tina, Trish; man they look pretty tasty

There they are by their Peugeot 306

Walking into the bar and taking Instagram pics

Hero: Woah look at the new post; that girl’s real sick!

Joe: What!  Oh come on; that girl gets on my wick

Okay, we’re here, that’s it!

(Back to the girls…)


Rebecca: That guy across the bar ain’t that Nick Goldfini?

Is it him or global warming melting the ice in my martini?

Trish: That’s a Lambrini you div; you’re stirred and shaken

He always orders doubles that lout; look at the glasses he’s breaking

Spray tan, all mouth, a yob; could I be any clearer?

Rebecca: Ark at her, why don’t you look in the mirror!

(Girls all laugh)

Tina: Yep soon as I see him won’t be fun

I’ll make the boy a Joe-k; excuse the dodgy pun!

Claire: Let’s make it to the Banbury Estate

Know some spots there a couple of close mates

Tina: Wait, The Filth might be there with their lot

Every night there’s someone there getting shot

Rebecca: Chill hun; it’ll all be sweet

Got a shooter and ten ready feet

Don’t give a rat’s about that twat!

(To the boys…)


Joe: Says on Facebook she’s off to the Bambury Estate?

We’ll seal them off to seal their fate

Put the hammer down don’t wanna be late

(Fellow drive shouts abuse): Shut up mate!


Act I and our gangs are balkanised and dehumanised

As it progresses we are witness to an incredible journey

Go sit back because mine’s a double

Because man there’s going to be trouble

Death of the Sweetheart, Antifreeze in Summer act II:


Joe: There’s The Swifts crew but between me and you…

(The two gangs meet)

It’s all spoilt girls, just… Oi Tina, what the Hell!

Tina: Don’t give me that all you do is yell!

Joe: Where you get off telling all those lies?!

Tina: Christ boy, just open your eyes!

Think you have an alibi?

All you do is screw, cheat and lie!

Joe: Excuse my righteous indignation

Back at Dance Station you gave no clear indications

That night we met you wanted no strings

Then you kept bugging me, my phone never stopped ringing

What happened; thought we were in it for the fun?

Oh shit, wait; that girl got a gun?!

What’s the Hell’s going on!

Tina: Relax man, it’s firing blanks

Like you that night to God I thank

Joe: Funny stuff but she’s a nut when goaded

You tell me that pistol ain’t loaded?

Tina: Look I’m sorry should have left it at sex

Joe: No fair play, I was perplexed but I did wrong

You hear that?  From the club there; this is our song?

You want to dance along?!

The composition changes to a Latin dance as the lovers dance


Tina: Alright you soppy monkey

You move like King Kong mind, not funky

Joe: Think you’ll find he’s a hairy ape

Just like Becks your blonde mate

(Tina laughs)

Tina: Oi, quiet she’ll hear you

For now I just want to be near you

And Becks will be a mum in 26 days

Not sure about the dad; they’re running the D.N.A.

Never really wanted it to come to a fight

Just kiss me and we’ll dance instead tonight!

Sirens blare. 


Hero: Oh Christ what am I doing here?!

Just wanted to stay home with a beer

We’ll be arrested and I’ll have a record

Why do we need this trouble and negative discord?

Stacy: Which of you called the law?!

Mick: They could have heard you in Cheshire with that mouth of yours!

Stacy: Hey Mick, how would you like a gun in the mouth?

Mick: From what I hear you’ve been sampling guns further south

(Cat calls and howls from the gangs)

Stacy: Yeah, well I’d put a bullet in your brain

By the time I find it I’d have serious finger pain

Mick: Or menstrual pains, you’re such a psycho!

Gun cocks as an approximation of The Rumble (from West Side Story) kicks in


Tina (talking): Hey, hey, just stop, put it down!  It’s all okay me and Joe and cool now.  We had a chat and want to move to Norfolk.  That was the plan to just get away from London.

Joe (talking): Get away from the gang life and start a music store.  Still up for it babe?

Tina: Course babe.  That incredible journey.

Police car door slams.

Police officer: Metropolitan Police.  Nobody move!

Hear the gangs run and disperse.


Hero: Oh God, I don’t need this stress

Why does everyone here want to imitate the U.S.?

Settling feuds with the click of a gun?

Rather be home with Seinfeld re-runs

What happened to the country, we used to be sane?

Now everybody wants to blow everyone else’s brains out

Used to be Great Britain now we’re two-faced U.S. louts

Can’t wait until August when I get to finally emigrate

Female Police Officer: You might as well stop there’s nowhere to run!

Stacy: Who are you to talk pig; I’ve got a gun!

Police officer: Don’t move, don’t move!

Hero: Guys, guys stop, need to call my mum; she’ll-

A shot rings out and hits the Hero.  Screams and cries from the gangs.

Ah!  Ow; oh crap.  (Cries).

The score goes to strings and piano.


Didn’t really want to be part of a gang

Just didn’t fit in and was all alone

Was good people of my age wanted me to hang

Got to get away from the stress I felt at home

Wish I had told my parents

How sorry I am and how much they meant

Mum drinking heavily when she thought I wasn’t looking

Dad counting his mortality in possessions the cancer really shook him

One losing her mind in spirits; the other losing his body through disease

Most days wrapped up in myself never hear their mortal pleas

Through all my loneliness and depression they always cared

Put me first and in return I was never really truly there

I’m sorry I was a burden; I’m sorry I love you!

Now it’s too late if I make it and wake

Just want a chance to be a better man with a  sounder plan

These messed-up friends in their dead-end world

These East End boys let the West End girls shoot them…

Police officer: DOWN!  Nobody move!

Joe and Tina run.

Joe: Got to stop, he’s dying!

Tina: He’s gone babe; no use in trying

Female Police Officer (on radio): I.C.1. male, 22-year-old; gunshot wound to the chest…

Ambulance Crew: So sorry guys did out best; nothing we could do; can I call anyone for you?

Police Officer: Stacy Pilkington, you’re under arrest for murder!

Nobody else move you’re all under arrest!

Rich: What?!

Rebecca: You heard her!

Rich: All of this because of a Facebook post for shit’s sake!

Rebecca: We didn’t start this; where’s Joe and Tina; they’re our mates!

Ambulance speed away.  Hear Hero’s phone beep.

Answerphone: You have one new message.

Hi sweetie this is your mum.  Just heard there’s a shooting in Islington.  Not sure if you are near?  Just being overly-cautious but with me and your dad being unwell- just worried about you.  Just wanted to say we love you.  Oh, it’s Mum by the way (Dad in the background says “he knows!” as both laugh).  Call us back; love you.

Hear feet stomp and out of breath sound as Joe and Tina get into car and program satellite navigation.

Sat Nav: “Choose your destination”.

(Taps it in)

“Is Norwich, Norfolk correct?”

(Taps again)

“Calculating distance: 123 miles.  Set as new destination?”

Slight pause.  Tap again as turn engine on and drive away fast.


Hold On, Don’t Let Go (5:30)



It’s Christmas Day and all I want to do is blow my mind away

Can’t smile or think; just numb, I’m not a human any more…


I know it can be lonely and appreciate how bad it can feel

When people think you’re overreacting; try to walk in your heels

There are people who have it worse in the world” they say again and again

What  fucking good is that?  You know how I feel; you in my brain?!

You know how it feels to daydream of an eternal sleep?

Every time I see happy lovers all I want to do is hide and weep

Depression is a black dog; hundreds of shades and dozens of breeds

So how do I know which is biting me and when they’re through with the feed?

When you find yourself on the ledge don’t look down just up

You’re a ledge yourself; don’t think there’s never much hope in that cup

It’s half-empty now but soon enough it’ll be 5/6ths full

All those people that put you down will seem so very small

You stand tall and follow those dreams; make a better world

Those scars will heal, you’ll find a foothold; fall for some great girl…

Who makes it all seem better; makes you a brand-new man

I know it sounds impossible but men and women you can do it…you can.


I don’t know how you feel but I know that you can touch

The soul is just a counterbalance for a heart that feels too much

I know you pray for sunshine when all you get is snow

But please don’t give in; hold on, don’t let go!


I ain’t never kissed a girl or shared my bed at night

I’ve never felt the blinding light of those blessed with perfect sight

But I have hope I’ll write it down in a five-and-a-half minute song

And those who feel just like me would happily sing along?

You’re so low but just know just how far you can truly see

It sounds unlikely, you can smother that beast, and then you’ll be free

No platitudes just gratitude; just the person you used to be

The booze we used to numb ourselves just crumbs in a champagne glass

Lift that flute don’t refute the brute- raise a toast to a bygone past

You see the boys in the band and those Pop stars who have it so easy

Don’t let it knock your voice and aim; don’t let it make you queasy

Don’t compare yourself, just prepare yourself; they’re jealous of what you’ve got

You’re beautiful and strong; if life gives you a gun then take a shot

You don’t need all that jewelry; those B.M.W.s and Mercedes Benz

They are so much poorer than you; your riches they can’t comprehend…

How much stronger you are; your scars are static veins

The honour badge you know it’ll end; it’s only a temporary pain

We’re all in the same boat so let’s all row against this tide

This hell-ride, runaway bride; bad side, brain fried

We’re tongue-tied, happiness dried, just wish you could hide



Look I’ve been there; in fact I’m going through it still

Always so tired of being tired; sick of being ill

Don’t have a lot of excitement; no money or real friends

This ain’t an unquenchable thirst curse I know one day it’ll end

Like a verse I guess that’s played for too long

As a reminder of how far I’ve come I’ll sing along

Because that song made me who I am for better or worse

I’m going into clichés, I’m sorry it’s just a verse

Don’t pray to God he ain’t there; this is all down to you

If you’re kicked down into the gutter be sure to look at the stars

Because only something so bright and distance knows how lonely you are

I’m walking Hell and I’ll keep on walking to those who understand

Just hope these words motivate you in the best way that they can

So I’ll leave it up to you with this because I believe it sums it up

That vessel that was once half-empty is now a full-up cup

When you can’t climb out the hole your heart is far too torn

One day you’ll wake and realise that this morning you’re reborn

Repeat chorus *2 


Love at Third Sight (4:14)



It was love at third sight; the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen

An angel with Prada wings; the heroine in all my dreams.


It’s Saturday; I’m down on my luck my wallet clasp is bent

Had to hock the last of my porn DVDs to make this month’s rent

Need to blow off some steam so fumble into a local Costa Coffee

Almost have a cardiac arrest when I see the queue in front of me

The middle-aged woman taking for-bloody-ever to decide

Barista keeps cool but inside he’s planning a double homicide

She goes for a double-shot vanilla, triple-shit hazelnut Frappuccino

I ask for a beer to lighten mood; he sighs; not the worse he’s seen though

Grab a copy of The Sun and make my way to a vacant near-by seat

Dodge the city bankers and the woman with babies swinging from her teat

I flick to the sports pages when an angel sits just ten feet away

I completely ruin the ambiance as my Crazy Frog ringtone plays


I let Mum bounce to answerphone; girl didn’t notice it, she’s alone

Playfully manipulating her bright-blonde fringe distracted by her smartphone

There’s a little glance it’s furtive; man, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen

I keep it together and smile back gotta keep this dirty mind spring clean

Whilst she goes to the counter I read the first page

Some Manchester bird with her breasts out; Simon Cowell’s wage raise

Oh look!  A bit about terrorism… continued on page 34

Our government bombing innocent countries; what the fuck we voting for?!

Prime Minister stands proudly grinning like a constipated school boy

Doesn’t have a grasp on reality; let’s overthrown them let’s destroy ’em

Along with his cronies taking the ‘great’ right out of The British Isles

I’m getting wound up sodistract myself with a quiz about menopausal piles



She smiles again I’m nervous so I make shapes with my underground card

Casually quaffing the Americano and trying not to sweat too hard

A barista lets out a scream, got burnt on that milk-making steamer

Drops a cup in his best French; think we’re going to need a cleaner!

As I scribble a crude anatomy on the receipt from the pawn shop

The girl licks the chocolate from her lip and makes my jaw drop

And my phone!  Oh shit!  The battery’s out; people are staring!

Fumble it back into position and shoot a smile; that’s quite daring!

Giving my T-shirt a pull a man says I’m the loudest chap he’s ever met

Never been in a coffee shop with such a delightfully honest etiquette!

This could well be like Paris except for that unmistakable sound

Of Westminster City Council tearing a historical monument down



I digress as I recall my mother’s advice about not punching above my weight

Guess it’s not that extrapolatable, it just helps me to relate

I’m getting nervous so I read the sports page: Arsenal lose again!

A local beggar comes into the place creating looks of disdain

I plant some gold in his palm; he hooks away my half-empty Americano

Cheeky sod!  The girl smiles, seems my generosity has really charmed her

She goes to leave but a crowd blocks me; walk brazen in front of my gaze

Where did that girl go?  Which way; oh man, oh my days!

Resigned I scoop the underground ticket; no eye contact don’t want my anger to transfer to them

Although secretly I hope all these lovely people take a running sprint straight into the Thames

Then I see a note left on a table; 11 digits, her name… XX

Today is my day; can’t help beaming mate; oi, oi, success!



Things are on the up, hail a taxi can’t believe my luck

Just then the paper flies out my hand, out of sight…

Oh f-!

Feature: Death of the Sweetheart- Antifreeze in Summer




Death of the Sweetheart


Antifreeze in Summer


IT has been a long time since a zeitgeist really swept across music…

and really brought about movement and change.  My favourite music is Rock and Jazz Rock; Jazz itself and ‘90s sounds- love the ‘60s and ‘70s masters too.  Recently I have been getting into the U.K.’s early-2000s Garage/Hip-Hop blenders- the likes of The Streets and Dizzee Rascal.  The former has particularly compelled me; listening to Original Pirate Material (the debut from The Streets) and you get that confidence and genius; the amazing and unique sound- an artist with a rare and special voice.  Mike Skinner (The Streets’ human voice) followed up that debut with an even better album- the peerless A Grand Don’t Come For Free.  This was a concept album that looked at the British streets and drinking culture; the seedy figures and everyday concerns- music that spoke to the working-class and those often ignored in music.  A stunningly intelligent writer with a  savage wit; Skinner ensured his music packed serious poetic cut with tremendous compositions- resulting in music of the highest order.  Dizzee Rascal emerged at the same time with his 1-2 wonder: that phenomenal debut Boy in da Corner; its no-less-impressive follow-up Showtime.  Those albums showed two of Britain’s best- in fact possibly the only- rappers; writing music that documented the concerns of the youth- the struggles and issues they faced.  Perhaps it was a product of the time- and captured a feeling and desire- but I’d like to think that spark could be recaptured.  Being quite unhappy as-of-late; I decided to see if I can write something positive.  Over the last few days I have written a five-track E.P. I hope to get out next year:


The Title:

Antifreeze in Summer

A play on words that looks at the problems of the modern times.  Antifreeze (in this context) refers to heroine; how people with nothing bad in their life- who have privilege and advantage- turn to the drug and try to ‘cure’ themselves.  It also refers to global warming and the changing climate; in addition to the depression people can feel when all is sunny and bright- themes that are explored in the E.P.

The album cover would boast a striking central image.  Inspired by the photo below; it would be a similar shot that perfectly documents the themes and ideas of the E.P. – something that is haunting, beautiful and memorable.

The Collaboration

Having written the lyrics; I will be working on the compositions and basic instrumental tracks.  I am hoping to pitch the songs to a singer I know- who has the perfect voice for it- and contribute to the vocals.  It essentially will be a duo project- vocals switch and you get two different perspectives- that brings in collaborators.  Because a few of the tracks have female ‘voices’; there will be a few female singers involved- that can play characters and add their talents to the mix.  Listen to the likes of Boy in da Corner and A Grand Don’t Come For Free and that is the sort of sound I am going for- vocalists that add a raw and street-level sound- expect for the final track which would showcase a soulful female voice.

There will be the odd sample thrown in but in terms of compositions there is a chance for other musicians.  A lot of the music will be composed by the band/laptops but there will be harder guitars and beats; some liquid and funky bass- bringing some great musicians into the fold.

The Making/Funding

I hope to get the tracks started and rolling in the spring; with the view of releasing the E.P. by the end of 2016.  It would be funded via a Kickstarter campaign- to afford the recording and production- where the backers would be offered rewards.  This would include appearing in the lead music video and lending their voice to the album.  I hope to record the album in London and Manchester; there will be home recording too giving it a D.I.Y. feel.  Because it is an ambitious album- even though it is quite simple- it will involve a lot of studio time (in addition to home recording).

The Tracks

Antifreeze in Summer would be a five-track E.P. that would tackle modern-day concerns.

“The Journey” (5:34)

A track that pokes fun of pious musicians that describe everything as a journey.  Tackling Pop stars with few issues and problems; it is a song that looks at real struggle and real music- cutting down bland bands and acts that sound alike and say nothing new.  The track would marry a hard and heavy beat with electronic fever; tying in some moody and edgy strings- similar in key to Catch Me If You Can’s score- and guest vocals.

Mine’s a Double! (3:32)

This would be one of the most direct and assaulting tracks.  Hard and primal; it would address the drinking culture and the types that numb themselves with alcohol- not giving a damn how much destruction they cause.  Looking at a central figure and his guest to get as drunk as possible; it would mix with contrasting voices- the hero getting smashed and causing trouble; the narrator then tries to talk sense to proceedings.

Amelia (5:54)

A tale that sees the hero goes to K.F.C. at the weekend with his friend Dave.  There is meets a girl called Amelia.  She is very different and has a boyfriend with a B.M.W.  Making brief eye contact in the queue our man is smitten even though they are very different- she has expensive clothes and different tastes.  Later that night the hero and Dave go to a local club where there is chaos and mayhem.  Amelia is there and they are separate all night- our hero unable to break through the crowd but they meet outside.  Going to the hero’s place, they spend the night- our man thinks this is love and the real thing.  Seeing a note left by Amelia; she has just used him and he’s another notch for her.  Taking inspiration from the song Cecilia– the song paraphrases the lines “Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart/you’re shaking my confidence daily”.  It is a love story from different perspectives.  Taking in the sights and sounds of a London night; it has flavours of early-career The Streets.

East End Boys (8:12)

The most ambitious track on the E.P. it would parody West Side Story.  Looking at a gang of girls- in the sense they are social media-obsessed and rather shallow- called The Swifts from Chelsea; an East End gang called The Isle Dogz (they hail from Isle of Dogs).  The song’s lead male starts in K.F.C. with a friend when he spots Facebook.  A row and battle starts because of an offensive comment Tina made about Joe.  Tina and Joe are the former lovers; Joe stopped calling her and she was too clingy.  Just as comments are being left on the post the boys decide to confront the girls; the gangs both meet in Camden one evening- after the girls stop by a gun shop on their way.

The lovers lead their gangs and argue in the street- the gang members all taking verbal shots at the other- until the two dance and kiss in the street.  The police have been called and the gangs run from the sirens.  They get to the Banbury Estate (Islington) where things get heated.  Until this point one of the Isle Dogz (the narrator) has been cautious and apprehensive- he is the only one that wants this to stop and not be there.

The second act sees the lovers arguing and trying to keep control.  Both want to escape to Norfolk for a quieter life but are dragged in by debt, drugs and gang loyalty.  Just as the gangs are heated and at their fiercest- after a silly dispute- one of the girls find a gun.  As they rumble, the narrator gets caught in the crossfire- as he slumps to the street.  Just as he bleeds and slips away he regrets not having been honest to his parents- told how much they mean to him.  His mum and dad are struggling but look after him- his depression and issues- but he never said how much it meant.  The narrator dies.  The guilty girl is in shock- “Now I kill too, because now I have love”- paraphrases West Side Story’s immortal line- as sirens blare once more.  As our hero drifts away, the gangs circle his body.  As the stretcher is lead away arrests are made and the story ends- Tina and Joe makes it away in a stolen car and headed for Norfolk.  The final sounds we hear is a voice message on the hero’s phone- his mum apologising and asking him to call her- and the satellite navigation setting route for Norwich- as the two speed away.

The song utilises the West Side story The Rumble and a harder rock sound- blending with something orchestral.  It features guest vocals- from gang members to police- but the central sane voice is from the narrator- who watches the madness unfold.  There would be a few parodies of West End Girls– paraphrasing the odd line and borrowing composition snippets- but would look at gun violence and the need to ape the U.S.; the gang culture still faced- how the young feel the need to eradicate one another for respect.  There would be plenty of wit and humour among everything giving the song balance.  The track would bring in previous characters/songs- Amelia is in K.F.C.; the opening line would see us announce the song/band; stating we’re having a double (before the tale begins); claiming it to be a huge emotional journey.

Hold On, Don’t Let Go (5:30)

An emotional and redemptive final number that looks at anxieties and depressions- people facing their bleakest days.  The hero expels his own troubles and woes; how people can’t grip how serious things are- and understand what he’s going through.  It has a positive message that implores everyone to hold on and know things will get better.  That honest and raw emotion is backed by the E.P.’s most simple and sparse composition- strings and a piano line; a classical guitar tumble that adds some light and energy- that promises things will get better; giving guidance to those in a similar boat.

As Is Now…

The lyrics are all written so it is a case of getting the compositions sorted and the ‘band/act’ formed.  I am really pleased with the subjects, lyrics and ideas that have come out- I have not suffered any blocks or struggled to get the thoughts down.  I hope it comes to light very soon and that that sound- The Streets and early-‘00s- captures something missing in music.  There are a few good Hip-Hop/Garage acts yet few that actually address subjects away from love and money.  Whilst The Streets and Dizzee are not at their peak- The Streets lost credibility and momentum after the sophomore album; Dizzee is declining- it seems like there is a need and hole to be filled.

Hope that 2016 brings serious happiness and improvement for us all; and some great and




Track Review: Ted Z. and the Wranglers- Go Find Your Heaven



Ted Z. and the Wranglers



Go Find Your Heaven


9.6 /10.0



Go Find Your Heaven is available at:


September, 2015

Americana; Folk


California, U.S.A.

The album Ghost Train is out now:


 Hold On9.4

Joseph Ratcliffe9.4

Go Find Your Heaven9.6



Bitter Hands9.5

Ghost Train9.6

Ball and Chain9.6

Sam Whitaker9.4




Go Find Your Heaven; Bitter Hands; Ghost Train; Ball and Chain


Go Find Your Heaven


WITH the final days of the year upon us; Christmas even closer…

it is worth reflecting on the year’s music and which albums are worth noting; the individuality of some of music’s best- in addition to  the variety of Americana/Folk acts emerging.  The best and brightest albums from this year have been synonymous with acts that have pushed the envelope and injected colour and originality into their sounds.  Kendrick Lamar and his album To Pimp a Butterfly has topped critics’ list of 2015’s best.  The Hip-Hop gem has seen black politics come to the fore and his timing is wonderful.  Now more than ever an album like this needs to exist: something that blends outrage and anger with self-examination and urgency.  Critics and fans have embraced the album and its meaning; that relevant and needed sense of disgust and rebellion- mixed into Deep-Jazz threads and hard Hip-Hop beats.  Elsewhere, Courtney Barrnett emerged with her album Sometime I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.  That collection was celebrated for its humour and anger; the mixes and contrasts delighted the public.  Not a Rock ‘n’ Roll album that reinvented the genre; it didn’t really need to when it came down it- Barnett put so much originality and invention into the music as it was.  In a music world of rather bland and tired Rock acts; Barnett went further and expanded the lyrical themes of her peers- creating something deeper and more compelling.  The final album- that gained recognition and widespread acclaim- was Jamie xx’s disc, In Colour.  The immersive and multifarious soundscapes fluid compositions were unlike anything out forward this year.  Throw in accessibility, heart and dreaminess and you have an album that has resonated with listeners and critics alike.  Jamie xx crafted something minimalist yet widely expansive: an album that grows with each listener and shows so many layers and intricacies.  My point is that these albums are as distinct and original as any.  Critics have not embraced the fetid and asinine releases from Rock heavyweights and chart-friendly acts.  It would be disheartening to see a list compiled of top-40 records and the dross played across Kiss F.M. and Heart.  As the music-buying public has related to the outsiders of music- those that stray away from the pack- it shows 2016 will be a similar year for endeavor and quality I have slated the lack of great bands coming through- the best albums of the year have been largely created by solo acts- yet there are some quirky and bracing bands that are causing excitement.  This is my last review of the year- and the final California-based assessment for some time- so it is fitting we comes to a band that not only portrays that uniqueness and vibrancy music needs; they are a group that does not concern itself with fitting in and mainstream expectations- just making music the way they feel; doing what sounds right to them.  Before I get to them, it is worth looking at the necessity for variation and personality in music.  The artists and albums I highlighted resulted from musicians who have spent time and effort; differ hugely from the chart-friendly acts and those gracing the covers of Pop magazines.  From hard, grizzled and compelling Australian Rock (Barnett) to hypnotic Hip-Hop politics (Lamar) – via the stunning soundscapes of England’s Jamie xx- and you have consistency and contrasts a-plenty.  Each album drips with authority and passion; each stays in the mind and provides nuance and strength- this is what acts should be looking at when crafting their sounds.  There are far too many artists that stick too closely to others; do not delve deep enough and provide originality or anything exceptional.  You do not have to reinvent music to come up with unique music, alas- just put more thought and attention into things.  In terms of the bands of 2015- and focusing on the mainstream here- there have been few truly unexpected treats and wonders.  Whilst it has been the solo artists making biggest impressions; the bands of the underground are more convincing and enduring.  One of these rather special groups comes in the form of Ted Z. and the Wranglers.  Looking and listening to them you may expect them to emanate from Nashville or the Deep South- they have a certain Country flavor; one of the red states’ artists.  The blue state boys hail from California and mix Country flavours of the south with Americana tradition and outlaw Blues.  The mix of sounds and themes has electrified listeners and really struck a chord.  Before I continue on my point, let me introduce you to my featured act:

Ted Z and the Wranglers, of Southern California, deliver outlaw country-charged rock. Ted’s catchy story-songs are fully-realized tales of love, regret, getting older, and getting in trouble. The band stirs up its Americana influences, featuring quick picking and bluesy slide guitar over galloping train beats and swinging shuffles.


The Wranglers are Dan Mages (bass), Mike Myers (drums, vocals), and Ted Z. (lead and slide guitar, vocals). The band has honed its sound on big stages and in biker bars alike. They get audiences dancing and bring them back for more.


Ted Z and The Wranglers were signed to Rip Cat Records in 2015. Their first label release, Ghost Train, was recorded at Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberley, TX and produced by Monty Byrom (Big House, Eddie Money).

The good ol’ boys of Ted Z.’ sojourned to Texas to record their album (Ghost Train) to give it that authenticity- find inspiration from the state and create something with its heart very much set there.  What you get from the album is the work of a band that has few limits- they do not define themselves to be Californian or Texan.  The music they offer is from a band who have been around for a while and are in no danger of slowing down- one of the most hard-working and ambitious groups on the scene.  Americana is a genre that is being given new lease of life and motivation lately.  A lot of the Americana artists I have reviewed this year have emanated from the U.K. – acts that have faux Americana accents; yet are keen to provide their take on the genre.  It is one of those musical avenues that appeal to the romantic and daring: people that want to create something memorable and long-lasting.  Americana is not just about Folk/Country blends and rather stilted and defined themes: you can stretch the genre and you have enormous possibilities.  Ted Z. and the Wranglers are inspired by the likes of Jack White and Bob Dylan; they go hard and electric when they need to- Folk-tinged and reflective at other times.  After the release of the album; the boys have been touring and taking their music on the road- this will continue into 2016.  If you have not met these rebel-rousing, fun-having boys then make sure you correct this- they will be an underground band making their way to the surface real soon.

Ghost Train shows the band at the height of their power.  The most compelling and complete work they have ever produced; it sees them embrace all their idols and influences- from Elvis Presley to Jack White- in an album of heart, granite; passion and wonderful American vignettes.  The band’s 2014 release Like a King showed the boys increase their confidence and scope to create something that topped their early promise and work- songs like Rather and Afraid of Dying.  The band steps up their game and sound tighter and more additive than ever.  The title track has a relentless wave and drive to it; the vocal yearns with soulfulness and intention- the lyrics show that unique and distinct Ted Z. and the Wranglers flair.  Virginia is one of their most impassioned and romantic numbers up until this point.  Chasing rivers downtown; our man is love-sick and cannot get over it- that yearning and pain comes to the surface.  Tomorrow ends the E.P. with reflectiveness and some need for love.  Investigating dreams and the future; it is a song that has sensitivity and honesty.  The band have improved and stretched their sound since their last E.P.  Ghost Train takes the softer and more introspective moments and broadens the horizons and genres.  There are more Blues-Rock jams and harder sounds here; the band has become more adventurous with their themes- taking their pen across the country and through strange avenues.  The music is more nuanced and the volume turned up; there are fewer weak moments and the group infuses more colour and weight into their music.  The likes of Elvis, Dylan and Jack White make appearances in different forms- the previous work was more restrained and defined- and Ted Z.’ have created an album that builds on early promise and develops it impressively- without losing their personalities and core sound.  With that rate of progression and ambition it will be great to see what the Californian band come up with in the next year.  I can see another E.P. created that reflects their current malaise and desires- something that continues where Ghost Train left off.  Their current album is one of the most immediate and bold I have heard in a while; so much depth and diversion to be found- something all bands should look towards.

Go Find Your Heaven is perhaps the truest reflection of Ted Z. and the Wranglers’ sound.  It brings together all the themes and threads of Ghost Train– marrying a variety of genres and sounds.  The introduction mixes Blues and Acoustic strands to elicit something romantic and upbeat; calming and reflective- something both complicated and simple at the same time.  The listener gets drawn into that beautiful and soul-pleasing sound; making you wonder just what is coming next.  That initial intrigue builds and flourishes from the initial seconds.  The electric guitar becomes more prominent and hard-hitting; it twangs and drives with determination and pride- infuses electricity and feet-kicking energy into the mix.  With our hero’s voice committed and solid- reminding me a little of Bruce Springsteen- it is 3 in the morning; the girl beside him looks familiar (“she looks just like you”).  In a God-forsaken town- that seems to be dragging her/our hero down- there is that need to go find Heaven and something more idyllic.  Those yearning and heart-rending vocals are among the most impressive and pure the band has ever come up with.  The percussion remains committed and propulsive in the early moments- supporting that vocal and making the emotions and lyrics more urgent.  The girl has been forced into a shotgun wedding- with whom we are not made aware- but you start to dive into the song and the scenes being projected.  The band have always had one part of their mind in the past- no surprise given their make-up and look- but this song has the feel of ‘40s/’50s America; perhaps somewhere down south- a simple town with rather old-fashioned and immoral ideals.  With its heart and images torn from the pages of classic literature- that forced-love and suppression-against-the-tide- and you have a song that seems familiar and relatable.  With “angels of mercy” and cowboys into the song, you get something that definitely places its heart down in Texas.  The central figure (the heroine) needs some salvation and an escape from her life as it is.  Our hero will wait for the girl- as he implores her to go find her truth and Heaven.  As seasons pass, there is that need to break away from the entrapment and suffocation.  The song never becomes too heavy-handed or forceful; never slight or too tender- a perfect blend and balance of emotions.  The band remains supportive and tight throughout the track; ensuring the lyrics are given a chance to shine whilst providing plenty of atmosphere and evocation.

Our man is not right for the girl (“I’ll never do”) and that sense of letting-her-go-for-her-own-good shows some maturity and class.  Maybe that sentiment is a reflection on the town and culture of the times- and indicative of the south many decades ago- whereas the land offer happiness and hope.  Perhaps the heroine needs to go to the big cities or California- somewhere safer and moral-driven; where something happier lies.  Our hero comes to the microphone yet his heart is heavy- Nashville is making him feel blue- and there is that sense of loss and heartache.  The man has taken the paychecks and spent it all on booze; there is that old-time charm to the song that makes it constantly engaging and fascinating.  With its novel-like development and feel, Go Find Your Heaven is an original and compelling song from one of the U.S.’s most original acts.  Whilst our man is trying to move on and find something new- his girl just won’t do; they are too different- he seems unable to move past her.  His new girl looks like the last; he has subconsciously chosen someone like her- clearly unable to get past the separation.  The track shows two different people from two different worlds.  Whilst the heroine seems destined for the city and a wealthier life- where things are done differently- the hero seems prone to stay in the south among the loose morals and strange figures.  It is a testament from a hero who wants the girl badly yet knows they are not right for one another.  The lyrics have simplicity at heart yet compel deeper thought and interpretation.  That chorus seems more relevant and haunting with each interpretation- as the full weight of emotions becomes clear.  The final moments see the band unite and express that loss and hope in a rhapsody of acoustic strings and Americana reflection.  The compositional coda offers some closure to an extent although there are mysterious and questions unanswered- you wonder how it worked out for the duo.  The band come together beautifully to showcase some fine finger-picking and tenderness; plenty of emotion and soothing undertones.  By the final moments you hear that chorus once more and become engrossed in that endlessly-compelling and beautiful sound.

Across Ghost Train, there is so much range and depth; a variety of moods and themes explored.  Among the softer and romantic moments stands Go Find Your Heaven.  A song that looks at miscast love and heady desires; it shows a vintage backdrop against ever-relevant and relatable heartache.  The band come together wonderfully to present a song that is the album’s best.  Dan Mages’ bass keeps the song level and focused; ensuring all the themes and sounds are held together perfectly- not allowing anything to become undisciplined or loose.  Mike Myers lets his sturdy and impassioned percussion whip up a lot of emotion and force- giving the song its needed urgency and grit.  Our front-man Ted Z. stands out front with a dedicated vocal performance- and some superb guitar chops- to give the song its heart and conviction.  Backed by a wonderful and polished production; Go Find Your Heaven is a song that will linger in the mind and gives you a true impression of the band.   If you have not heard Ted Z. and the Wranglers do what they do best then you need to start here.  It shows a songwriting progression and confidence that will see them do great business in 2016.  Few bands are deft and able spreading themselves across multiple genres and themes.  Having been together for a while- and having such a close bond- the Californian boys demonstrate why they are so popular and loved.  I hope their music gets more exposure in the U.K. as it will not only create new fans and admirers; it will motivate other bands to rise up and follow their lead- a new scene and sense of fun in this country.

Ghost Train is filled with songs that stick in the mind and compel the imagination.  The work of a passion for music; a love of many genres and artists- they have few limits and boundaries when it comes to their sources- it golds together in a creation that brims with passion and fun; there is emotion and reflection too- everything the modern listeners desires and demands.  The boys of Ted Z. and the Wranglers have a great sense of humour and have crafted a band that have an everyman appeal and a knowing wink to them.  If you hop to Facebook- and see their biography- their interests are listed as hop-making and metal-detecting; academia and latex clothing.  It is an insight into the minds of men who want to embrace the public and let their personalities shine.  So many musicians are stuffy and insular; they do not reach out and provide anything human and impressive.  So many bands sit and write music; they get into the studio and release the songs- it seems procedural and robotic to an extent.  The Californian band had a ball making the music and wants to keep that degree of fun and frivolity burning bright.  The next year will see them perform in California and bring their inimitable Americana blends to their state-mate folk.  It would be great to see the U.S. band hop a plane and come play in the U.K.  We have so few bands like them; it would give people here a chance to encounter something fresh, ambitious and hugely impressive.  We have some rather offbeat and quirky acts that evoke Americana sounds and sensations of bygone days; it seems rather forced at times and not as authentic as you’d hope- hardly a wonder when you consider they are British.  Our Americana boys are authentic and pure; their music is the result of shared passion and ideals- I would love to see more from the group into the next year.  Before closing it is worth looking at the best from this year and Ghost Train– the latest album from the Californian band.  With Hendrixk Lamar and Jamie xx providing some of 2016’s best albums- their mix of raw emotion and expansive dream-scapes- the music world desires artists that go further and stray away from the predictable.  So many bands this year have come and gone without leaving much of an impression at all.  The critics’ end-of-year lists have revealed what is making them tick- and what the general public wants- so it is worth looking at artists with a similar ambition and personality.  In 2016 I think we will shy away from bands that have an Indie/Alternative sound- and look to Foo Fighters and Nirvana for influence- and see the rise of the solo artists and duos.  The band market is still relevant yet the solo artists are doing things differently and creating more nuance and surprise.  When it comes to the hopes of the band realm we must look to the underground and their brightest shining through.  Ted Z. & the Wranglers are not your average guitar-slamming Alternative players that sounds replicated and insipid- they are a bona fide band who do things different and have a very unique personality.  Ghost Train is a collection of songs that mix Blues-Rock riffs and Garage undertones; Country romance and Folk introspection- plenty of interesting characters and sights; wonderfully lines and stunning choruses.

   Hold On begins with a familiar and bracing introduction- a little like Cocaine (Eric Clapton’s version) – but then mutates into something smooth and flowing.  An upbeat and uplifting song that has a redemptive and inspiration message: keep holding if you have no hope or feel alone.  Joseph Ratcliff boasts sparkling Blues guitars and a merry swing: a song that swaggers and dances.  The lyrics look at a giant called Joseph Ratcliff- slayed by our hero in his garden.  The quirky and vivid images tie in romance and pennies in wishing wells.  Kansas is another racing and itinerant track that pays tribute to the state.  There is a central romance and the need for embrace- there is fever in the morning and Hell burning through the night- as you get drawn into that effusive and gripping vocal.  Trouble is one of the album’s most contemplative and calmer numbers.  A little of Dylan comes through- the vocals are quite scratched and strained- and you get a semblance of ‘60s-‘70s Folk.  Perhaps the most accessible number on the album; it has a radio-friendly kick but retains the unique take of Ted Z. & the Wranglers.  Bitter Hands has a bulldozer and delirious opener that see echoed and distorted strings marry a racing, train-like beat.  That Americana core is emphasised- money woes and relationship troubles against the backdrop of the wonderfully varied land- which shows the band having a ball in the studio.  Catchy chorusing and united vocals highlight a song that is indelible in its appeal and nuance.  The title track is a calm and reflective thing (to start with).  Looking at music’s lost- the ghost train full of stars- we see the likes of John Lennon paid tribute and assessed.  It is an original take on a delicate subject- the legacy these great musicians and figures have left- dealt with affectionately and with great heart.  With the likes of Ricky Nelson and Jim Morrison riding that train- he has “whiskey on his mind”- it is a vidia and terrifically evocative song.  Ball and Chain is a rousing and merry track that has a definite Blues kick to it.  One of the most electric and impassioned vocals on the disc; there is a little element of Elvis to the vocals- a stunning mix of Rock ‘n’ Roll heritage and White Stripes-esque Blues.  A feet-kicking, hoe-down stomp; it is a tremendous band performance that is tight and utterly stunning.  Sam Whitaker is a more modern take on the Blues.  You get that stomp of Jack White with a bit of The Black Keys.  Making it more accessible to the younger generations; it manages to take its lyrical heart to more traditional areas- that will appeal and spike the (slightly) older listeners.  It is one of the album’s most energised and rousing tracks- it never relents its charge and kick.  Postcard returns to that more traditional Americana/Folk sound; it has a quivering vocal- sides of Elvis come back into the mix- and themes of romance and vintage ideals.  With its heart in the 1950s, you imagine yourself in an old novel or black-and-white film.  Among the romance and purity is wit and humour scenes- dentures flying and chaos in the fold- as the band seem at their most assured and effortless.  Another catchy and nuanced composition backs the track wonderfully.  Broken is one of the most distinct songs on the record- perhaps the softest and most reflective.  A heart-bearing and haunted track it sees the hero bare his soul and show his scars.  Reminding me of early-Dylan and Neil Young it showcases a very mature lyrical voice- some of the finest lines across the album- as philosophical questions and inner-pain is explored.  A wonderful album from a band…

WE all should take to heart.



Follow Ted Z. & the Wranglers:

















Track Review: Even in Arcadia- Electric Thumb



Even in Arcadia



Electric Thumb





Electric Thumb is available at:


September, 2015



Glasgow, U.K.

The E.P. Blue Prints is available at:



Electric Thumb9.3

City in the Dark9.2

Weave a Web (Acoustic)9.2


Electric Thumb


ON this rare occasion…

I get to review a band from an area of the U.K. I have not visited for a while: that would be Scotland then.  Before I reach my featured act, it is worth bringing Scotland into the mix; in addition to looking a Grunge/Alt.-Rock sounds- plus the need for some escapism in music.  I have not had a chance to review a Scottish act for some time.  I believe the last time I did it was the fellow-Arcadians, Echo Arcadia (wonder if the two bands know each other; should have a special Arcadia-related party) – so it is great to be back in Scotland.  Having finished another L.A.-based review, one can see the huge shifts going to Glasgow- not just in terms of geography (the L.A. of Scotland, maybe?) but the musical styles and acts coming through.  What I love about Scotland is there are so many D.I.Y. acts emerging: unconcerned with record label approval; there is a more honest and hard-working bunch of musicians coming through.  In Glasgow and Edinburgh (other parts of the country too) there are a lot of bands emerging that play the heavier side of things- as opposed to solo artists and duos for instance.  I am not sure whether it is a ‘Scottish thing’ yet there seems to be a predominance of Alternative/Rock bands coming out- each bringing something new to the table.  The thing that amazes me most about the bands of Scotland is that work ethic and honesty that comes out in the music- the emotion and raw touches that few other areas do so well.  I am not sure whether it is down to the people- and particular characteristics indicative and exclusive to them- or something else; whatever it is (is) leading to some fantastic music.  In addition to Echo Arcadia- a band that plays dreamier Alternative sounds- I am close with Universal Thee- a Grunge/Alternative band in the mould of Pavement and Pixies.  Perhaps the closest comparisons with Even in Arcadia, I was interested to see what the band was about and what they could offer.  Being female-led, it also reminded me of the aforementioned Scottish acts- each of who have a female lead/joint-lead vocalist.  There seems to be a different dynamic and way of working in Scotland- greater equality and originality; stronger bonds among bands which is resulting in more natural brilliance and surprise.  One of the main reasons I have slated a lot of bands this year- the last time I shall bandy this feathered bow about in 2015- is the cessation of originality and emotion; the music is either predictable or copycat or lacks any depth and memorability- leaving you rather annoyed and underwhelmed.  Bands that come through who are new and fresh; who leave impressions on the mind- leading me to my featured act.  Before I continue with a new point, let me introduce Glasgow’s Even in Arcadia.

Vocals – Hazel Gore
Guitar – Christopher Garvin
Bass – Chris Gore
Drums – Blair Martin

Even in Arcadia are a female fronted rock band from Glasgow formed in 2014. 

Intricate guitars, thought provoking lyrics, powerful female vocals and a hard hitting rhythm section blend together to give a distinguished sound. It is hard to class the band in one genre but they have been described as “New Wave vocals meet Punk Rock guitars”. Influences are varied across the band and include; Patti Smith, The Ramones, Nirvana, Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Blue Oyster Cult.

Despite only being together a short period of time, the band have already featured on radio stations across the globe.
In 2014, Even in Arcadia released their debut EP “Weave A Web”. The EP can be heard on their various social media sites.

In September 2015, the band released their new EP “Blue Prints”.

Just looking at the band’s influences- the likes of The Ramones and Patti Smith gives you an insight into their music and feel.  Not confined to a single genre- essentially creating their own sub-genre- the band have distinguished themselves as ones to watch; a group that should be making some significant moves in 2015.  When you are forming a band you decide what sort of sound you want to present- dependent and influenced by your idols I guess.  There are so many bands that do not cast their attention back and look at the legends of music.  So many young musicians have such ignorance of music; their attention spans do not go beyond the 1990s- as a result, you get a lot of predictable and immobile acts.  My generation have the warped opinion music is at its best now- it has been on a slide since the heydays of the ‘90s- and tend to concentrate on the established acts on the scene at the moment.  The best bands take influence from older-day acts and those that have already left their mark- making their own music much richer and rounded.   Although music has declined over the last couple of decades, there are plenty of great acts that are standing out and making a real difference.  Even in Arcadia have only been together a year but are showing signs they are one of those bands for 2016- that we all will be hearing more of in time.  Their latest E.P. capitalises on their debut work and ups the game: the group sound more essential and confident than ever before; honed and completely in control.  Grunge and Alternative genres are those that have been well-represented over the year; a popular choice for young bands as there is plenty of chance for raw edges and emotion- music that is exhilarating and hugely evocative.  Being a fan of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana- ‘90s legends when Grunge was taking off- it is great to hear an act that evoke a little of their spirit- whilst showing so many more sides and ideas.  Being winter- and with Christmas looming- we need some escapism as the days close in; let music do its work and take our minds somewhere else.  Already saturated and exhausted by the constant and mind-numbing array of Christmas-themed songs- the same tracks played over and over- I have been seeking music that differs completely and affords me the opportunity to find something genuinely new and great.  The guys and gal of Even in Arcadia are an act who I will be watching as we go into 2016; keeping an eye on what they are all about- seeing how Blue Prints resonates with music-lovers.  So far they have been getting great feedback with regards the E.P. – it was released a few months ago- and has seen their fan-base rise.  The next year will see the band do some touring and prepare some new music- whether they choose to release another E.P. – and let’s hope they are afforded the chance to tour beyond Scotland- come down to the south and enthrall the crowds here.

It is great to hear the latest sounds from Even in Arcadia.  They show a band with a lot of potential and future ahead of them.  If you want an insight into how Blue Prints differs- from their original work and how they have come on- then it is worth looking back at the earliest moments from the band.  Stuck in a Current was released last year and starts with a shimmering and subtle arpeggio.  That raw Punk sound and its sparse production makes the track sound live and urgent.  You do not get a lot of polish or sheen making the composition and vocal sound immediate and unfettered.  Whilst some of the vocals get a little lost in the mix; the song looks at being stuck in a current state of mind- the heroine is coasting and seems entranced in an unsettled mindset.  Reminding me of Patti Smith and Siouxsie and the Banshees, you get a clash of U.S. /U.K. Punk of the ‘70s.  The song has that sound of a jam- although a lot more rounded- and is built off few lyrics; repeating the central messages to get that claustrophobic and walls-closing-in sense.

   Weave a Web is the band’s debut E.P. and matches Stuck in a Current alongside two other tracks.  The title track begins with glistening and upbeat guitar strings.  Sounding more polished and rounded then earlier cuts; it has a sensation of ‘90s Grunge with a distinct sound of the Glasgow band.  The song looks at entrapment and struggling in a web.  Whoever has weaved the web- whether it is a lover or friend of the band- and causes intrigue and speculation.  The vocal has that reliably impassioned and cigarette-smoke allure to it that draws in the listener; impressed by that energy and raw edge that comes through.  With its heart between ‘70s Punk and ‘90s Grunge, you get a great mix of sounds that shows the band at their peak- as tight and compelling as they ever have.  The band’s distinct chorus work- that sees key words elongated and repeated into a mantra- mixes with a bold and energetic performance.  Our heroine is tumbling and falling.  Whether there is emotional discourse or something haunting her; some romantic ideals and intentions- you get the feeling of someone on the edge and losing some emotional ground.  The vocal is as strong as any on the E.P. whilst the band presents a different dynamic and blend- mixing Punk and Grunge yet injecting something softer into proceedings.  The entire E.P. shows confidence and commitment from a group with a great knowledge of music and its past.

   Blue Prints sees a development and step forward for the band.  Whilst they keep their Punk core and live sound intact; the production values are stronger and more polished- making the songs clearer and more decipherable.  In past tracks, the band has suffered some clarity and intelligibility issues: vocals get dragged too far down and there is problems understanding some of the lyrics.  The vocals are more assured and nuanced than before; showing greater emotional depth and ideas- more distinction and originality into the bargain.  The band has created an E.P. exploring different scenes and progressing their sounds.  It is a natural step that has brought in new listeners and made their songs more accessible without losing their grit, originality and live-sounding aesthetic.  Many bands tend to slavishly stick to their original sound and do not show any evolution or change- meaning their lifespan is limited and they have limited careers.  Even in Arcadia get stronger and more confident as time progresses; more inspired and assured- even though their debut E.P. is a stunning and hugely memorable effort.

I wanted to focus on Electric Thumb as it is the best representation of the band’s current sound ad direction.  Whilst they have not altered (or needed to) their core sound; they have shown some new sides and subjects- all brought brilliantly to life on Blue Prints.  Beginning with more kick and upbeat energy than any other track (the band has produced) you get some Pop melody and softness in the early exchanges- making it perhaps more accessible to some than other numbers.  The band come up with something full-bodied and catchy without expending needless energy and cluttering the sound- they craft an addictive little riff that brilliantly fuses with bass and percussion.  With some funky edges and a spirited heart, you get initial lyrics that look at knife-bearing deceit and something quite double-cross.  Whether the song’s title refers to online attack or has its origins elsewhere; you get the impression of someone attacking the heroine- although she cannot see the knife/their face as it is perpetrated.  The lead vocal has that distinct Even in Arcadia tone; although it sounds more trembling and anxious than I have ever heard.   These electronic weapons- bombs and knives being dropped and sharpened- give that initial impression of cyber warfare and vengeance.  With static I.P.s and sinister anonymity, you get a song that has an original and distinct side.  Even in Arcadia like to craft songs that stray away from the predictability of love and its perils- what 99% of other acts do to death- and dig deeper.  In these early moments you get a modern-day concern and ill uncovered and testified- an issue we can all relate to and understand.  The band infuses one of their most heady and scintillating compositions so far.  Putting their own stamp on Grunge and Punk flavours; you get a composition with more diversity than light than you’d expect.  My initial impressions develop as our numb heroine starts to withdraw and retreat.  Unable to feel the night and the light, there is some ambiguity and mystique to the lyrics.  Whilst there are one or two clarity issues still- it would be good to have the song’s lyrics on SoundCloud- you get drawn into that electric and wracked vocal that shows some vulnerability and pain.  Whether affected and struck by an enemy or central figure- or just enveloped by life, there is a relatable anxiety to the track.  The entire track seems to be about anxieties and fears of the modern age.  Whereas songs like City in the Dark explore drinking cultures and the binges and chaos around Glasgow- the early-hour scenes and characters that define it (for better or worse) – here you get something more personal and detached.  With the heroine letting her voice fully explore and delve into the emotion you get a little semblance of Wolf Alice- the same sort of lyrical ideas and vocal sound comes out in spots.  The band have stated in interviews how this song is related to physical anxieties and stresses; the strains and dangers of modern life- inspired by the likes of Foo Fighters and Pixies.  While it has the sound of those bands; there is a classic Indie feel to it- recalling other influences like The Cure and The Smiths.  Throughout the E.P., the Glagow band unites the ‘80s Indie/Alternative sounds with U.S. Grunge and Rock- via some ‘70s Punk.  It is a layered and deep sound that makes songs such as Electric Thumb so compelling.  You can hear the attention and details flood and strike as those central lyrics and themes- feeling numb with fear spreading through the veins- is reintroduced and isolated.  Even in Arcadia are a band that taps into modern-day concerns and issues relevant to the listener.  Not making the song too morbid or suffocating; you get plenty of light and melody in a composition that runs a gamut of emotions.  The band is at their tightest and more insistent here; they always sound urgent and essential- this is perhaps their finest moment.  It is no surprise the song is a live favourite as it has that sing-along chorus and a familiarity that will get many moving in time and dancing- evocative and reminiscent in equal measures.  As the track gets towards its closing moments, you get that chorus-heavy ride that ensures those key themes and ideas are punched into the mind- the building tension becomes palpable.  Our heroine never explodes or collapses under the weight of these emotions; she remains firm and buoyant to ensure the song has a dignity and composure to it.  Employing few lyrics- they repeat lines and the chorus predominantly- you have a track with an economical sense and knowledge of its strengths.  Were there too many lyrics it would distill the effectiveness and potency.  The vocals remain gutsy and on-edge throughout; making that tangible sense of anxiety more real.

It is great to see what Even in Arcadia have come up with.  Blue Prints continues to gain ground and wins new fans and support by the week.  The guys have toured the songs around Scotland and play King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow tomorrow (that has hosted the likes of Oasis) and will be a great chance for those songs to be heard by a new set of faces.  Electric Thumb is the band’s key cut from the E.P. that will go down really well among the new fans tomorrow- and see them gain fresh respect and support.  Having recorded the E.P. live- hence that live sound and feel to things- it gives Electric Thumb a really direct and emotional sound.  Gore lets her stunning and evocative voice hit its peak throughout the track.  Expertly letting the song’s anxiety themes bleed into the vocal; you get an emotive and nuanced performance that compelled me to repeat the song- to hear that vocal do its work.  It manages to summon up so many possibilities and ideas- bringing to mind the great Punk icons Patti Smith and Joe Strummer.  You get so many different sides and genres coming through- from ‘80s Indie to ‘90s Grunge- whilst retaining a distinct accent and originality.  Garvin ensures his guitar summons enough emotion and electricity to do the song full justice.  Mixing hard-hitting fears with something lighter and more introspective- you get melody and heart among the barbed-wire intensity and bite.  Never encroaching on the vocal or stepping too far out front; you get a performance that superbly lifts and drives the vocal- providing the song’s edginess and danger.  For a song that looks at smothered emotions and uncertainty; Garvin projects so much colour, emotion and riffs into the agenda- whilst offering something more soothed and contemplative when required.  Chris Gore ensures his bass keeps the song controlled and disciplined.  Given the weight and importance of the foreground, you need a bass player who can tie everything together and keep the sound stable- Core manages this with expertise and intuition.  Melodic and light when the song reflects; striking and viper-like when the volume is notched up- again, the instrument is used to drive the song and propel that lead vocal.  Blending wonderfully with his band-mates, you get an accomplished and nuanced performance- from someone who has been vital in shaping the band’s sound.  A player with a clear identity and determination; it will be great to see how this talent blossoms across future releases.  With Martin providing a stunning and masculine backbone; you have a drummer that has the strength and intensity of the Grunge legends- the Dave Grohls and Matt Camerons- but with an Indie/Gothic sensibility.  Because Electric Thumb ventures between genres and decades- going into Punk and Alternative grounds- you get a song that invokes Pixies and Foo Fighters; The Cure and Patti Smith- Martin handles everything with ease and produces a commanding and dramatic performance.  Backed by an assured and wonderful production value- it is a live-recorded song that has polish to it- you get plenty of clarity and energy coming through.  The highlight of Blue Prints; Electric Thumb is a triumph from one of Scotland’s most scintillating and promising young bands.

There are a lot of acts coming through at the moment; each one provides something a little different from the rest- it can be daunting deciding who the worthy ones to follow are.  Even in Arcadia have a great local fan-base yet their popularity stretches beyond Glasgow and Scotland.  Having been inspired by the likes of Blue Oyster Cult and Blondie- in addition to Grunge legends and Punk heroes- combined with their own voice and sense of style.  The combination works wonders in their music; sounds and sensations that have enthralled fans and lead to some big predictions- I can see the guys being festival headliners a few years down the line.  Ensuring their keep consistent and busy; Blue Prints is a confident and assured statement from a band on the rise- I shall review the E.P. below.  Scotland is a country that has always been synonymous with musical endeavor and quality- the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Primal Scream; Idewild and Orange Juice call Scotland home- yet few critics and media types focus their attentions here.  In addition to modern acts like Chvches and Young Fathers- the latter of who won the Mercury Prize last year for their debut album- are showing what pedigree and force Scotland has,  Whilst there are some great solo acts out of Scotland, they are more synonymous with their bands.  I am not sure whether it is a personality/community thing- Scottish musicians find inspiration when surrounded by others- or something else; it is a part of the U.K. where more people should focus.  Most of the Scottish bands I have witnessed tend to play harder Alternative sounds- as opposed to Pop and Folk for instance.  Glasgow is a cultural epicenter and a city that is showcasing some of music’s most tantillsing modern prospects- from Chvrches and Prides through to Catholic Action and Tijuana Bibles- all the way to the Synth.-Pop of WHITE.  It is not surprising Even in Arcadia sound so confident and ambitious given the sort of musical community and contemporaries they have.  Less bustling and compacted than London; Glasgow is nurturing some fantastic artists that we should all behold- set our sights away from the likes of London and Manchester for a while.  A lot of Even in Arcadia’s contemporaries have a sense of predictability to them- not showing great originality or presence- yet our featured act have distinction and clear personality.  Creating music that you can escape to and get lost in- a perfect antidote to Christmas sounds and the overly-gleeful parade of carols- and discover something wonderful.  Those female-fronted vocals give the music a depth and richness that few other bands possess- the likes of Chvches and Happy Meals boast tremendous female vocalists- and create lasting after-impressions.  If you go into the market and want to create Grunge/Alternative-Rock sounds, it is vital to create that balance of tradition and originality: have something that evokes a sense of the past yet sounds fresh and personal.  Too many acts replicate Nirvana or Queens of the Stone Age; have little ambition or ideas when it comes to things.  The acts that will succeed and flourish in the New Year are those who show something distinct.  I can see Even in Arcadia doing some good things in 2016.  It is clear they have more music up their sleeves; they want to tour as far as possible- maybe making their way down to London at some point?  Blue Prints is a stunning thee-track release that shows why so many people are following one of Glasgow’s best new bands.

   City in the Dark is the E.P.’s sophomore track that keeps the pace of Electric Thumb going.  Beginning with a primal thud and a carnivorous bassline, you get a song that evokes images and thoughts from the very first seconds.  From its raw and killer-on-the-loose beginnings, the introduction evolves and grows into something more harmonious and balanced- eliciting light and heart after a while.  Portraying the transition from darkness to light; the band have spent a lot of time crafting an opening that gets you to attention and readies you for what is to come.  In the city is the “darkest hour”; our heroine wants to be joined (she does not mention who) as you begin to immerse yourself in the lyrics and what they offer.  The composition remains support and light; it does not needlessly tumble and strike- allowing those vocals to come to the forefront and the lyrics to be heard.   Looking at souls “avoiding pain” once more the band emphasise a central message/coda to get inside the head- creating an unnerving wave and sense of unease.  The band step the composition up and provide necessary weight and urgency.  The percussion is especially notable; exploding and pummeling with insistency you get a track that builds in stature and emotion as the seconds progress.  One of those songs that seems destined for arenas and live performances- one that could unite and captivate the crowds into song- it has a catchiness and familiarity to it.  Recalling Punk masters and mistresses of the ‘70s; taking in modern-day (Scottish) acts lie Chvrches- you get a rounded and fascinating track.  Being one of the E.P.’s longest songs, it is given time and chance to develop and mutates- that central vocal has its own endeavours and ideas.  Building in intensity and precision; you get caught in the whirlwind of emotions and desires.  Whilst the song looks at the city’s darkness and the haunted figures that linger; there is some mystery to it- you wonder what has inspired the track and how it came to be.  One of the most rounded and emotive songs from Blue Prints; City in the Dark is one of those songs that could gain serious radio play very soon.

Weave a Web (Acoustic) shows a new angle to the debut E.P.-era track- giving it new life and meaning.  The lyrics are more decipherable and there is greater clarity on this recording- making the lyrics more relatable and tangible.  Our heroine seems trapped and is waiting in a safe haven; there seems to be a danger nearing in and you can sense that anxiety.  What you get from the song is more bare emotion and live-sounding flair than before- the song is less gritty but more haunted.  If you consider Nirvana and their live recording for M.T.V. – where they were unplugged and incredible- you could hear new meanings and nuance in their classics.  Stripping back their album tracks- they performed a few covers among the set-list- you got a chance to see a hard and vibrant band take things back and reveal some sensitivity.  Weave a Web works wonderfully when propulsive and granite; it has a new appeal and relevance when the guys take it back to basics- making it sound like a new and original number.  Our girl is in the web and waiting to trap her prey- her voice sounds even more gripping and dramatic on the original cut.  You start to wonder the origins of the song- who she is battling and what has caused this- and naturally you go to relationship grounds.  Backed by bouncing and flowing strings, you get a more honest and soul-bearing vocal- impossible not to think of Patti Smith when it is in full flight- that gives the song new dimensions.  One of the lesser-heard tracks on the E.P., it at least shows how adaptable the band are- reinventing their own material and offering a different sound.  Whilst they are an electric guitar-based band who plays harder sounds; it is nice to end with a song that has some emotional outpouring and something less busy.  Bringing Blue Prints down to an impressive close, you feel compelled to go back in and revisit moments; take in stuff you missed first time around- those layers and details that may drift by first time.  If you want to discover a great young band with a distinct sound and a sure future ahead, then spend some time…


WITH Even in Arcadia.




Follow Even in Arcadia:









Track Review: REL- Before the Storm






Before the Storm




Before the Storm is available at:


13th October, 2015



L.A., U.S.A.

Written/composed by Arielle Sitrick & Travis Bunn.
Produced by Travis Bunn & Bill Burke

Artwork by Juan Ándres Rivera.


OVER the next few days I will be wrapping up reviews for this year…

and winding-down L.A.-based artists.  It has been great seeing what the city offer but it is time to step away to other locations and see what is around at the moment.  Before I pack up my U.S. bags- Wednesday will see the last U.S. review for a while- it is back in a city that has provided much speculation and promise this year.  REL (or ‘rel’; it varies now and then) is my featured artist and someone who has made big waves with her unique sounds and daring blend of genres and ideas.  Before I come to her, I wanted to look at female solo artists in L.A.; genres such as R&B and Pop- in addition to the importance of social media and music-sharing websites.  L.A. is lining some terrific solo acts for the following year.  When it comes to the boys the likes of Evan Mellows- and his dark-sexy R&B mixings- is going to be one to watch for sure.  It is worrying that it’s so hard to actually find out the names to watch into the next year.  A Google search shows few promising results; you have to be very specific with your search terms.  There is not a website that is dedicated to showcasing new artists and narrowing them by city and genre.  If I want to find out L.A.-based female solo artists to watch (for 206) then where do you go?  It is alarming that in 2015 there is no website focused on music and all it has to offer- something huge and all-encompassing.  It is a pity because I know L.A. has a lot of great solo acts right now- that will come to the public attention in dribs and drabs it seems- especially when it comes to the girls.  There are some great girl groups coming through in L.A. – Punk and Hard-Rock treasures- but it is the solo sector that seems to be most promising.  Like New York; L.A. specialises in ambitious, genre-mixing artists; those that provide something dreamy and passionate- with darker edges and plenty of power.  When it comes to genres- those that are going to be played and represented- there are a going to be quite a lot of R&B/Pop acts emerging.  These genres are well represented yet few artists mix them together and experiment with what is possible- exploiting the emotional and sonic ground on offer.  Each genre has potential and flexibility in its own right yet when you splice and blend them- same goes with any two other genres- you get a richer and wider sound; something that packs a bigger emotional punch.  My featured artist is someone that deserves a lot greater attention and needs big recognition in 2016- her music warrants serious investigation and respect.  Before I continue my point, let me introduce you to one of L.A.’s hottest female solo artists:

r e l/20 years old / 20 years wise/full of dreams and poems and love/curious, passionate, compassionate.
r e l is a 20 year old artist based out of Los Angeles. r e l ’s music radiates emotion, embodying what she calls “evoca-pop”– music that makes you think and feel– and what has been labeled by music-tastemakers and fans as dream pop/alternative r&b.  This past May she released her debut self-titled EP containing the upbeat, ever popular track, “Plateau”. r e l ’s music has been featured on notable blogs such as MTV Iggy, Hilly Dilly, BaebleMusic, Crack in the Road, and Impose Magazine.
r e l has played at several historic venues throughout the Los Angeles area including The House of Blues, Room 5, and The Mint, along with playing industry showcases including the DL at Dirty Laundry and BMI’s Acoustic Lounge. She has been working nonstop on new music and visuals for her upcoming EP”.

REL is an artist of-the-moment who displays huge ambition and love for what she does.  When it comes to marketing your music and connecting with fans, social media and music-sharing websites are pivotal and crucial.  Over the past year, the L.A. star has produced a string of wonderful songs and moments; dazzled with her self-titled E.P. – gaining the eyes and ears of some very high-profile publications.  It is the way REL utilises social media and other sites- the likes of SoundCloud especially- that has connected her music with a wide range of people.  I still find so many acts that negate the importance of social media and the music-sharing websites.  A lot of bands and acts limit themselves to Facebook and Twitter- some stick to Facebook alone- and do not put their music out there.  It is all very well having a great sound and a promising talent: if you fail to make your music readily-available and widespread then you will not pick up the fans and they will look elsewhere.  It is not to say you need to be on every music website and flood people with updates.  Too many acts are being cagey and naïve with regards their music- foolhardy considering how competitive and packed the music industry is.  REL has a great team behind her for sure- ensuring her music is put in the right hands and gets exposure- but the L.A. artist’s stunning sound and distinct blends have done a lot of the talking.  As we go into 2016, it is clear she is going to make a name for herself- there will be new material and tour dates on the agenda.  It is still the early days for her so it is wise to remain realistic and not leap ahead.  From what she has produced already there are clear signs of an artist who does things differently- someone that has a singular voice that needs to be encouraged and loved.  Getting more assured and confident with every song, it signals a very bright and busy future for the young heroine.  Just how far she can go is anyone’s guess.

Taking Before the Storm into consideration, it is worth tracking back to REL’s previous outings- seeing how her music has developed and shifted.  Love Your Neighbour was released a year ago- before her self-titled E.P. – and showed a very distinct lyrical style.  Backed by ghostly and sparse backings- something quite unsettling in fact- the heroine looks at twisted shadows and blood splatters on the wall.  Taking us into a song that looks at knife wounds and haunted dreams, you get some vivid images and a compelling story.  Whereas the chorus implores loving your neighbour (“as yourself”); the verses take us into troubled and disturbing avenues- presenting images that will linger in the mind for a while.  REL’s vocal remains impassioned and firm throughout- barely changing course and projection from start to finish- to give the song quite an edgy and emotional sound.  We look at a man with red in his eyes and a lustful hatred burning deep.  With his meat cleaver by his side, there are yearnings for chaos and murder- the neighbourhood is about to get a rude wake-up.  The song focuses on the troubled minds and peculiar figures that can lurk behind doors; taking us into very unique and murky waters.

   Heading for the Sun featured on REL’s self-titled debut and changed course from Before the Storm.  Whereas that song was more dark and haunting; Heading for the Sun is a more upbeat and fast-paced song.  REL lets her voice roll and rap- as opposed to the more static delivery of before- to create something that takes us into R&B territory.  The heroine’s voice is lighter and more impassioned; images of space exploration and solar flight and “all systems go”.  Using these lyrics as metaphors for love and relationships- I may be off the mark but that is the way I interpret it- the song boasts one of the most accessible and memorable choruses REL has produced.  Across the E.P. the L.A. musician mixed that accessibility and relatable themes with something more singular and dark- ensuring her music crossed boundaries and unites a lot of new fans.

  Plateau is one of the mist memorable and celebrated tracks from REL- a song that has garnered a lot of attention and focus.  The song was featured on various blogs and music publications because of its upbeat composition and consistent energy.  Whereas the backing is quite uplifted, the lyrics look at time slipping away- personal concerns and reaching the end of the road.  As the title suggests, there is little room to manoeuvre and compromise.  It seems like a particular relationship is being investigated and explained.  That need to turn the clock back and do things differently; it is clear there are struggles and need for resolutions.  REL employs a very distinct lyrical style that is more image-provoking and dream-like than many of her contemporaries.  Whilst many go for simple phrasing and language, she ensures her words have an idiosyncrasy and intelligence to them- delivered with a tumbling and impassioned weight.  Throughout the song you get to focus on the vocal and lyric- the composition adds urgency and emotion yet is second nature to the foreground- and the confessions of a young woman who wants change in her life.  The song repeats the chorus and central mantra- more so towards the ending- ensuring those words and sound stick in the mind.  Boasting a contemporary sound and relatability- there are shades of Rhianna and other Pop-R&B crossover acts- meaning it success and popularity is no surprise.  Whilst not as individual and unique as some previous outings, it shows new confidence and a change in direction- whilst retaining those original lyrics and stunning vocals.

Before the Storm continues the lyrical themes and idea of the E.P. – presented in that unique way but tapping into common themes- and could well have sat across that work.  It seems like REL has found her niche and sound; there is not a lot of need to change things up much- it will be interesting to see where she goes now.  The self-titled E.P. was a full and frank work that showed the L.A. heroine explore issues of love and relations; stress and strain- composed and presented with a very distinct style and projection.  Over the course of the last year I get hear her confidence grow and little changes here and there.  REL’s earliest work pushed her lyrics to darker avenues and demonstrated a song-writing talent with a need to distinguish herself from the pack.  Whilst her vocals were not as developed and rounded as later work; what you got what that urgency and conviction from the very start.  As time has progressed the music has become lighter and more upbeat; the Pop and R&B genres have been fused more readily and prolifically- that vocal has become more wide-ranging and impactful.  Each song has its own pace and sounds; the vocal can twist and turn- it can rap and roll.  This gives the music much more freedom and mobility- something that we will see more of in 2016.

Before the Storm emerges with an appropriately moody and evocative beginning.  Darker electronics whip up images of clouds and rain; something quite uncertain and dangerous is at work.  On this song, REL sounds at her most upset and troubled.  Due to the discontent and friction in her relationship, her mind is heavy and her heart is burdened.  Presenting lyrics that are among her most direct, accessible and simple- they do not have the poetic edges and obliqueness as before; the need to keep them simple ensures the full force of the emotions gets to the listener- in a song that will speak to a lot of listeners.  The track begins with a vocal flow that gives some light and uplift to a rather unsettled and heart-aching song.  Speaking to her man- the reason behind the relationship disillusionment is not clear- she reminisces about the old times and having fun.  Perhaps things have got too heavy and they tried to run too quickly.  Back when there were fewer ties and they were just having a fling, it seemed to be simpler and more pure- the happiness was there.  Maybe their relationship was solid and defined; something might have come between them and has caused friction- our heroine is expelling her demons and trying to understand things.  It appears there is some resentment and fall-out given what has happened; the lyrics point to someone who has a wrong to right- a lot of pain carried around with her.  Backed by a thumping beat and an emotional sparseness- the composition remains quite bare and uncluttered early on- the vocal remains determined and strong.  The prize fighter is winding up and preparing a whirlwind for her former lover.  “I got a trick or two up my sleeve/You aren’t gonna see them but you’re gonna feel them” suggests someone who has been played and deceived too many times- time to put the man in his place and equal the score.  Soon enough the composition becomes fuller and more driven- a neat and catchy beat meets swelling electronics- as our heroine talks of “The brawl is done, the fight is far from done”- signalling the duo are going to be in each other’s lives for a while now.  It appears like the man has been cheating or telling lies; messing our heroine around and being no-good- something that is a common ill in relationships.  In the beginning REL let it be known she liked it slow- I presume the speed of a relationship rather than sexual preferences- and this has been misinterpreted and abused.

Perhaps the guy has been lazy and inattentive; spent too much time with the boys and sniffing around other girls- assuming the relationship was causal and open.  Whatever the circumstances behind the disservice; you sense that bristling angered and spiked intention.  Our heroine’s voice never becomes too enraptured or strained; there is restraint and focus for sure- to allow those words and sentiments to be appreciated.  The composition remains fairly predictable in a way.  A lot of R&B/Pop acts present a similar mix of beats and electronics; in this case it is the right way to score the song- any other configuration or sound would do it an injustice.  Riding that supportive and hard-hitting beat, you transport yourself into the battle and war.  Amidst the themes of love-gone-wrong and bad fall-out there is enough obliqueness to keep the mystery building- no statement as to what happened to cause the rift.  Maybe there are a lot of reasons and problems that have resulted in the explosion- it is clear the man is at fault.  Our heroine prepares her punch and cyclone; he will not see the attack coming- but he’s going to feel its force.  Empowered and vengeful; you get hooked into the passion and menace being built.  Keeping her language simple and direct- not as highfalutin and unique as before- ensures that emotional resonance rules and she does not bury her feelings.  By complicating the lyrics and making them too detached you would not get that spark and reality- the sign of a songwriter who understands the importance of developing, evolution and change.  A terrific song that will appeal to a wide range of listeners- it blends R&B beats alongside more uplifted Pop moments- and Before the Storm takes effect.  As the song continues a lot of the lyrics are reintroduced- like a mission statement or bellicose chant- but we get some new insight and revelations.  It seems like the man was playing her; fooling around and trying to get the upper hand- it took her by surprise.  Those sentiments and insights see the vocal toned down and isolated- before the composition wave whips once more.  Our heroine has a surprise or two and is determined to get vengeance and justice.  Boasting a contemporary sound that has its heart in the mainstream; there is enough grit and individuality to ensure it has more authority and depth than a lot of chart-based music.  REL has always been an artist with far more grit and appeal than the slew of Pop acts on the scene- the sort that produce rather unforgettable and simplistic songs- but has ensured her sound are as accessible as they are unique.  That composition keeps developing and pushing the heroine forward; driving the words and providing a pulpit for our girl to let her voice be heard.  I am not sure who her lover is/was but one thing is for sure: he is being given a serious kick in the teeth throughout the track.  By the final moments, there is a malevolent laugh and that desire to level the score.  A song that not appeals to done-wrong girlfriends; its messages and ideas can be appreciated and understood by anyone- it is not a song that distances anyone or creates any walls.  One of the most confident and determined songs I have heard from REL; it shows just what she can offer music in 2016.

I am not sure whether Before the Storm marks at the sound of what is to come- where relationship recriminations are in focus- but the language here is more simple and straightforward than before.  A song that required few diversions and false avenues; the messages and words cannot be misinterpreted by anyone.  It shows a songwriter that can ably seduce when going for the jugular- just as she can when in poetic territory.  Every time REL looks at love and its issues, she presents her words and thoughts in a new and very unique way.  Perhaps Before the Storm is the most accessible and everyday representation from her- her previous numbers showcase stunning wordplay and depth- but it is a required move here.  Given the weight of emotions and circumstances surrounding the song- the pains and heartache that motivated the song- you need a set of lyrics that can be understood and interpreted by all.  The power and primacy of the vocals brings you right into the song and makes you side for the heroine- balkanised against the wrong-doing boy and his mean tricks.  Alongside Travis Bunn; REL has created a song that packs a huge emotional wallop.  Whether this will form the basis of her forthcoming E.P. – there is speculation there is new material afoot- it will be fascinating to see what comes about.  As it stands, Before the Storm is a fascinating stand-alone that will keep her old fans very happy- whilst bringing in new supporters.  Retaining the sounds and compositional elements of her older work- whilst developing her songbook and emotional angle- you have a young artists with maturity, range and a huge amount of potential- a songwriter and artist that seems limitless when it comes to the music.  I cannot wait to see where that inspiration takes her next.

There are so many solo artists out there it can be challenging and impossible to find out which ones are worth closer scrutiny into the next year.  I have bemoaned the lack of appropriate websites that represent all of music and making it easy to find musicians by city and genre- surely not that hard an achievement?  If something like that were introduced it would make it a lot simpler to locate YOUR type of music and the likes of REL.  As it was, I came across her via good fortune in a way- a representative for REL contacted me- but chances are I would not have heard her music otherwise.  I know there are tonnes of new musicians coming through but it is possible to narrow it down and organise things- make it a lot easier for the listeners to find the kind of music they want; in addition to stuff they may not have previously discovered.  Our L.A. heroine is making the most of her online portfolio and ensuring she takes her music as far and wide as she can.  With a sea of contemporaries vying for airplay and recognition, REL has developed and honed a sound that is very much hers- few other singers come across the same way.  In the modern musical climate, it is vital you attack publicity and promotion on all fronts.  A lot of new and inexperienced artists put themselves on Facebook and Twitter yet ignore SoundCloud and BandCamp.  I have seen a lot of artists put their music on iTunes only- meaning relatively few people ever hear it.  I understand the need for finance and making money from your songs but with so many musicians giving it away, can you afford to do this?  There is no room for naivety in music as it is so competitive and packed.  REL has made sure she gets her name and words out to the public as effectively as possible- it is no coincidence she is seeing the fruits of her labours blossom and inspire.  Having played at some rather prestigious venues- including Dirty Laundry and B.M.I’s Acoustic Longue- she is sowing the seeds for an assured and prosperous future.  Blogs and music publications have taken the music to heart and been seduced by those rare blends of sound and lyrics- stemming from an artist with originality and intelligence.  L.A. is a musical neighbourhood that houses some of music’s most adventurous and fascinating artists.  Being used to London and the U.K., when I get a chance to travel to the U.S.; I get to see the difference that is happening there- the wonderful young artists that are emerging and playing.  L.A. has a lot of great solo artists emanating; REL is one of the most hungry and distinct of them all- let’s hope she continues with strength and determination.  Songs like Plateau get you thinking and conspiring.  Its lyrics mix romance and something classical- “The candle from the little shop in Paris, our adventure/Wax and wicker sitting on your dresser to remember” with something contemporary and new- “Watching Netflix in your bed/Back when you remembered every word I said”.  Heading for the Sun looked at an imploding romance- sun to burn out in the sun- employing space terminology and imagery (“You’re facing Mars, I’m facing Jupiter/Locked inside these bars, but you’re still keeping score/I’m losing air, but you’re so full of it (hot!)/This spaceship didn’t come with the right toolkit”).

From her days of neighbourhood dangerous and religious symbolism; the salt-themed relationship woes and a unique insight into a young artist on the hunt- REL is developing into one of the most special and formidable writers around.  Her way with words and phrases is intoxicating; the way she lets her voice glide and strike is phenomenal- an artist with a huge soul and passion.  There are few artists out there who have such a sharp pen and a way with words.  Too many musicians stick with clichés and platitudes; keep language simple and do not give that much depth- meaning their music does not stay in the memory for long.  Picking apart REL’s words and thoughts gives you an insight into her mind and music; it makes the whole listening experience that much richer and more rewarding.  2016 is a year that should see a change in musical fortunes- there were few genuinely great acts in the mainstream- so let’s hope new music’s best and sharpest will transcend from the underground to give music the spark it desperately requires.  If you have not heard the stunning L.A. resident do her thing; make sure you check out her music and watch a rare talent come to life.  Getting stronger and more fascinating by the release- she is one of those artists that will be playing for years to come.  I say this about every artist- and it is a point that needs repeating- but let’s hope REL comes and plays the U.K.  It would give the nation a chance to see one of the U.S.’s finest solo talents take her unique blends and sounds to a new audience- her music has no limitations and every listener can appreciate what she says.  With there being so many straight-ahead Pop and R&B artists around, it is great to see an artist invent her own genre (Evoca.-Pop) and fuse different sounds and blends into a wonderful whole.  Congratulations to REL and what she has created in Before the Storm.  That lyrical individuality and intellect is intact; the heroine keeps those mandates of love and separation intact- it is a musical consistent that is always going to be in vogue– and gives the subject new life and twists.  Those evocative and poetic words show a young woman with a fertile and hungry imagination.  The passionate vocals and intuitive sense of dynamics and mobility result in a song that never loses its fascination and sense of the unexpected.  Take some time today to discover a new artist that has cut herself from the pack and is showing a huge amount of potential.  With so many of music’s new and ambitious starting to wane and fade, it is great to see an artist…

IN no danger of fading any time soon.




Follow REL:

















Track Review: Mayflower- Sienna










Sienna is available at:


28th September, 2015

Rock & Roll


Manchester, U.K.


THERE are contrasts to the reviewing world that see…

experienced and established acts sit alongside brand-new artists.  Before I get around to mentioning my featured act, it is interesting to see the new bands coming through.  I have stated how there is unreliable quality control; a lot of acts seem to be determined to just come along and play for the hell of it- not enough distinction to really appeal to the listener and fans.  I have come across so many acts that either sound like someone else or have so little about them- just the mere suggestion of something good.  I wanted to mention new bands in general- it seems apt as we head into 2016- and just what they can offer music.  All of my cynical words aside- I am a bit down when it comes to band at the moment- I have seen quite a few bands that could make an impression into the next year.  The bands that stay in the mind are the ones who inject plenty of originality, diversity and nuance.  Of course, it is hard to be truly original and distinct these days- even the best bands have an essence of others to them- but there is plenty of room to maneuver and appeal.  I think a lot of the issues arise when bands look at the media and what is being expected of them.  The groups that are highlighted tend to play heavier sounds- Rock, Alternative etc.- so that is that inclination to compose and replicate those sounds; in the hope that this will lead to approval and success.  Solo artists have a lot more mobility when it comes to their music.  Hip/Hop-Rap, Electro.; Pop or Country- you name it; they have fewer limitations it seems.  You do not get that same genre-diversity that solo acts portray- there is more predictability at work.  Even if you work in slightly narrow confines, that does not mean you are limited and in trouble.  From the subject matter to the vocals; along to the compositions- there is so much potential for wonder and originality.  Those acts that are sticking in the imagination- causing a little of fevered praise and excitement- need only make a few tweaks to the recipe to create something sizzling and delicious.  When it comes to our featured artists, little is known about them at all.

Oliver Gaydon: Lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Jacob Calvert: Lead guitar

Mike Cromey: Bass guitar

Jim Mulherin: Drums

Manchester-based four-piece Mayflower was born in 2014. The band’s early chemistry spawned a host of original material, not restricted to one style, but displaying broad influence and a clear focus on the importance of crafting their songs.

In just a matter of months, the band has headlined Night & Day Café, sold out The Castle Hotel and performed a live session track on the Introducing Show on BBC Radio Manchester.

Mayflower’s second demo, The Dice Man, has received extensive support on the Introducing Show and the group have received praise from Michelle Hussey and Natalie-Eve Williams for the strength of their songwriting.

They hail from Manchester- a subject I will explore in more depth soon- and are making their first moves into the music world.   It would be good for the lads to put a little biography on Facebook; maybe have a link to their official site included here- a way of letting people know who they are and where they want to head.  At this time they have a new track out (Sienna) that is receiving impassioned feedback and a lot of heady praise.  Before getting down to their music- and what the guys have set in their future- it is great to be back in the north and in Manchester.  It is hardly worth mentioning what a reputation the city has when it comes to producing fantastic music.  During the ‘80s and ‘90s the likes of The Smiths, Oasis and The Stone Roses set the music world alight with their phenomenal sounds- three of the most influential modern acts you could think of.  As we moved into the ‘00s, there seems to be a split of sorts; there were fewer great Manchester bands coming through- other cities and towns were showing the way and producing the greatest artists.  Over the past few years I have seen some great Mancunian acts emerge that have recalled some of the glory-days wonder of the likes of The Stone Rose et al.  It is impossible to recapture and reproduce the wonder of the ‘80s-‘90s regency- music will never get within touching distance of being that good again- but that is not to say we should switch off and concentrate on the solo acts.  Mayflower are one of those acts that seem unconcerned with being pigeonholed and topping critics’ lists.  Their originality and natural personalities have gone into their music to ensure it resonates with listeners and sets them aside from the flock of other bands- contented to dance to the beat of the critics’ drum.  I love seeing an act come through with their very early number- their sapling steps are the most exciting and nervous; that very first chance for the public to hear what they are all about.  Mayflower are one of these bands that pride substance and soul above sheer force and a wrecking ball approach.  I love gritty and anthemic bands; those that can lacerate for a good cause- pen songs that have stadiums jumping and rocking.  The trouble is, there are too many bands that aim this high and fail- it creates a rather depressing state of affairs.  The groups that remain longest in the mindset are those who dig deeper and create something more enduring and emotive.  That is not to say bands need to be overly-sensitive and soft; just realise the importance of depth and melody; soulfulness and colour- when you put all this together you get music with greater importance and longevity.  Our Manchester lads have been excitedly reviewing feedback from fans and reviewers; seeing where they head next- just what the future holds for them.  It will be great to see the boys up their game and create a charge in 2016.  If they can get more music on their official website; give the public some insight into their live and influences- how they tick and where they came from- that will lead to big social media numbers.  Their music- their fifth song at this stage- is doing all the talking and creating a serious wave of excitement and anticipation.  Into 2016 I can see them crafting an E.P.; something that showcases their talents to great effect- a chance for the public to experience Mayflower in full flight.  That is all ahead of them, but for now, Sienna is garnering a lot of love and support- no surprise when you dig down to its core and explore its beauty.

Although Mayflower have released Many Clouds, Mayflower; The Dice Man and Rapa Nui; you have the hardest time trying to locate them- not sure why they have been expunged by the band (except for the odd site here and there).

   The Dice Man is available here-https://amazingtunes.com/mayflower/tunes/337103- and begins with a soft and uplifting coda.  Chiming strings and a determined percussion welcome in the track- such a dream and assured introduction.  Backing away from pure Rock and something harder; Mayflower go for a softer and more studied approach to the music.  Recalling a little of Richard Ashcroft’s verve; you have a song that has swagger and confidence- yet displays a tender heart and sensitivity.  Our hero is galvanising his patience and waiting for calls- seemingly hanging by the phone waiting for a girl to ring.  It seems like a bond has been solidified long ago; the lovers have been through the motions and have a complex history.  Too often they have not waited for the morning; rushed into things and been too hasty- resulting in fall-out and problems.  The song looks at patience and that need for discipline; a mature and intelligent approach to relationships- something that is a defining them in their music.  The composition remains quite lo-key and unobtrusive: it ably lifts the emotions whilst creating something quite tender and semi-operatic.  That central vocal is powerful and inflamed; yearning and burning in equal measures- something that gives the track so much panache and potency.  Memories of ‘90s bands- the likes of The Verve and Oasis- create fond recollections and musical nostalgia.  The lads ensure their feet and motifs are in the present-day; making sure that original edge and direction shines through.

Sienna is the most available and truest sense of what the band are all about.  Whether they felt their previous demos are not up to their best- and wanted to keep their finest work in the mindset- it is a shame as I know how well their previous songs were received.  On the plus side, it has not dampened their potential and quality one bit.  Their latest demo shows a lot of promise and improvement; they have come on strides and sound at their most essential- boding well for future sounds.

I was excited to review Sienna, given the passion and praise it has already received.  Blogs and reviewers have stated its melodic potency and beauty; that central vocal performance- bringing the song’s emotions to life- and the originality the song possesses.  Not as off-to-the-races as their previous tracks- Many Clouds was also noted for its immediacy and harder edges- there is a subtleness and slow-build quality that sees the boys embrace a more nuanced and mature approach.  The initial words see our front-man assess a relationship and the recollection of times past.  Having lost “nothing from those times” where “liberty followed”.  Off the back of an entranced and seducing introduction- nimble and atmospheric guitar notes create a hazy and morning-awake sensation that seems wholly appropriate- and you have a dreamy and reminiscent number.  Our hero is looking at his girl and the times they shared together.  Perhaps they have been through disagreements and turbulence before; the vocal has the sound of a man who has witnessed too much and had too many sleepless nights- that need for something happier and more comforting seems to linger in his soul.  The band ensure they do not distill the song’s message- offering a considerate backing that drips with emotion and subtle shades- perfect augmenting that need for change and improvement.  Perhaps I am misreading those initial concerns and feelings.  Our hero lets his voice drift and hover across the horizon; allowing it to portray sensitivity and longing.  That central figure- Sienna, the heroine- is someone we will all have images of.  If you go to SoundCloud and see the art work for the single; there is an extraordinarily captivating woman/model pictured- unsure who she is; I guess a friend of the band- which comes pretty close to my impressions/views of her.  Someone quite slight and slender she has immense beauty and a wicked side to her- able to make you forget your troubles and strains- someone who is fun and happy-go-lucky.  Once upon a time the morning sun and the new dawn seemed like a remedy for the hero- it was the “only cure” it appears- when his girl as not around.

on tour with mayflower4

Whether the two have parted way or they are in different locations; you get the idea our man is sleeping alone and looking out the window- dreaming of his girl and wishing she was there.  I hope the band work the song up and record a video- include the model in the video- as it’s an evocative song with plenty of wonderful possibilities.  You get a cross between Elbow’s dripping emotions and a bit of early-career The Verve: a blend of Soul and haunting Alternative.  That dreamy nature of the song- every review has highlighted this- makes the lyrics and vocals so entrancing.  When the band lead into the chorus you get the most seductive and head-spinning vocal- it recalls the vocal harmonies of ‘60s Power-Pop and is a sensational moment.  Unable to escape the power and soothe of the song; each listener will be carried along and project themselves in the scenery.  In past numbers, Mayflower have looked at the importance of patience and not squandering moments; making the most of the time romance has- it seems like Sienna is a bedfellow to their past endeavours.  Our hero has hazy recollections and swirling snippets of times past- when the two were together at their peak- and seems to be yearning strong.  Having left too soon and maybe made a mistake there is that need to make things right and reclaim what has been lost- have Sienna back with him.  I am not sure as to the origins of the song- whether our hero has based the song on a relationship he had- but you can hear that conviction and rawness come out in the song.  The vocal aches and pains for that sense of emptiness; there is a soul burning and bleeding- perhaps kicking himself for something said or done.  It is not made clear why the two sweethearts are separated or what has caused this distance; what is clear is the emotions that come out in the song.  The band unite wonderfully to ensure there is a constant momentum and beautiful soundtrack.  The strings and percussion act as blood-rush and breath; strings that are pulled to create the most vivid and direct representation of the mood- a vivid and urgent sound that few bands can match.  It appears like there may be hope for togetherness and another chance.  The chorus gives impressions our boy will see Sienna; maybe in dreams or reality there will be another opportunity for the two.  As direct as the vocal is, the lyrics have an oblique nature that means the real truth and ending are known only to the band- whether the sweethearts made it back to one another and who the girl is.  Even though it is a demo-quality song; it sounds like a perfectly mixed and balanced track- raw enough to convey the reality of the song yet professional enough to ensure it sounds slick and accessible.  Fans and commentators have noted how graceful and beautiful (Sienna is); the shades and emotions that intertwine- that stunning and emotion-drenched lead vocal.  The composition goes a long way to filling blanks and pushing the story forward.  With distinct views in my head- the beautiful heroine holds hope her boy will do right and they will be together- you get an itinerant and mobile feel to the composition.  It has a terrific flow and energy that means you picture images and sunlight; flickering night-time rain and images of the players- our man looking out across the Manchester day; our heroine close-by and thinking.  The song has that feel of winter: something that can keep you warm when it is dark and unsure; it is perfect when you are alone and listening in bed- just staring at the ceiling and letting your thoughts wander.  Plagued by problems and uncertainties; when other things let you down and life seems scary- “Sienna’s waiting there”.  It seems like the remedy and rescue for our hero yet could be the representation of solace for everyone- the faithful girl that gives you comfort and hope in spite of everything.  As the final notes chime my mind goes to something more straight-forward and simple: a bond that is still pure; when our boy has a hard day and he needs warm arms- when he comes home, Sienna is waiting.  The beauty of the song is that it says so much with so few words.  It has the feel of a love song with different meanings.  In the early stages I got the sense the lovers were split and a break-up was being mourned.  As you get to the chorus- and the song develops some- my thoughts turned to something happier and more hopeful.  It seems like the hero used to be alone; the only comfort he has was a new day or some small glimmer- now his girl is here he has something stronger and much better in his life.  Whatever the true nature- and however you interpret the song- you cannot deny its immense beauty and purity.  Not shrouded in cynicism or fake emotions it is a song that drips with passion and desire.

   Sienna is a song that definitely needs taking further and exploring.  Although it is a ‘demo’ it does not need any more work really.  Perhaps Mayflower could add a string section- perhaps just a lone cello would add the additional shiver and kiss the song needs- and perhaps a little piano coda towards the end.  That said, the comparative sparseness may be what makes the song so essential and right- any more notes and ingredients may distill it and water-down its majestic sweep.  That central vocal by Gaydon is from a man who has lived every moment of the song.  Whether Sienna is an alias or sobriquet- or is the name of his true love- I am not sure; it is a song that is filled with conviction and jaw-drop.  I would love to see the boys take this back into the studio and really take it that step further.  The song has no rough edges yet shows just how potent and it could be- a very little tweaks here and there could turn the song into something transcendent.  I am not going to be a backseat producer- the boys have shown how intuitive they are- but Sienna is a track that shows a young band in terrific form.  It will be great to see a video for the song- I would love to be a part of that somehow- as there is so much possibility and wonderful concepts you could levy.  Congratulations to the band that are as tight and wonderful as ever; creating their finest statement to date.  That composition brings ‘60s and ‘90s sounds through a modern-day blender to create something dark and dreamy; chinks of light and tenderness- it evokes so many images and intimacies.  Perfectly backing that soulful and powerful vocal; you get sounds that drive the song to impossible heights whilst remaining understated and subtle.  It is a hard trick to pull off yet one the band has managed.  There is positivity and hope in the song- with so many bands offering negativity among hard sounds- so to hear a band provide this (and keep their sounds graceful and melodic) is something music needs right now.  Their latest track is just the catalyst Mayflower needs to get the E.P. juices flowing.  Let’s hope the following year sees them take their wonderful sounds as far as they can.

It is terrific seeing a young band with so much potential ahead of them.  I get irked and depressed by the lack of quality and consistency that is coming from bands at the moment.  Every week, there is a flood of new artists that are touted as being ones to watch- there are few that ever live up to the hype and expectations.  Perhaps we need to lower expectations somewhat- not in a bad way; just stop putting so much pressure on acts- and focus on the minority of stunning bands emerging right now.  Mayflower are starting out their career but the initial signs are very promising and encouraging.  Sienna has captured a lot of attention from music-lovers around the U.K. – something about the track resonates with the public.  Those soulful and direct vocals are backed by a lush and emotive composition- stirring lyrics that show plenty of heart and intention.  Manchester is showing what potential its bands have at the moment.  All-girl group PINS have a hard sound with raw edges and plenty of nuance- a band that has a big future.  Horsebeach- and their sounds that recall The Smiths and Real Estate- have unveiled plenty of singles and albums.  They will continue that charge into 2016 and set themselves up as one of the big names to watch closely.  Blossoms are a lite-Psychedelic five-piece that have already been lauded by the B.B.C.; throw in the ‘80s-cum-Beach Boys blend of Whyte Horse and you have some bands with a lot of potential and power.  It is early for the lads of Mayflower, yet I can see their ship sailing far and wide.  Off the back of their new track, they show translatable mixes that could see them demanded across the water.  Before taking this thing to a close, it is pressing I look at the future for the guys; also reflecting on the importance of those first songs out the traps- ensuring your name and music gets the appreciation and patronage it deserves.  Mayflower have shown how adept they are at those uplifting and stunning melodies- like The La’s but a lot better and less cloying- in addition to impressively mature and soulful vocals.  Too many young bands need to prove they are youthful and fresh- this often means immature lyrics and rather unfocused and rambling compositions.  Not keen to tie themselves to anyone else- that originality and personality marks them out especially- our lads have created music that has personal relevance; it reaches out further to connect with the audience- there is accessibility and familiarity too.  I would like to see Mayflower really take hold of this momentum they have and keep the energy strong.  They have the potential to create an E.P. that will rank among music’s best; deep and varied with plenty of emotion and passion.  They have a few songs under their belt- so have the ammunition and material to come together- so it will be fascinating to see where that takes them.  Already backed and tipped by the likes of B.B.C. Radio 6 and (Manchester’s) B.B.C. Introducing; the lads have gained impressive kudos- setting them up for a huge year.  With a few songs in the ether you get an impression of a band mutating and evolving their sound.  They are growing in stature and confidence; more originality and personality is in Sienna– as opposed their previous cuts- and their intention grows bigger by the moment.  Tight and focused; nuanced and full of spark, this is a band that has a lot more to say.  They have been together just over a year and covered some good ground already- the hopes are high for these lads.  When bands come through- and are at the stage as Mayflower- it is important to remain original and true to your own voice.  I have seen so many acts start off hot; only to succumb to market expectation and sell themselves out- lose that authenticity and do what everyone else is doing.  You would be forgiven for thinking Mayflower are going to follow suit; I know how much detail and thought they put into their music- they are not a band abut to compromise and change who they are.  It is also easy to see the band as a debut-single act- their previous songs are not available on SoundCloud or anywhere else it seems- so it would be great for the boys to dig them out and make them readily available.  When it comes to beating the crowds and forging ahead; it is vital to go in attacking and put as much out as you can- Mayflower have such a great sound; the public want to hear as much as they can.  The lack of musical visibility and history is a minor quibble from a band who are gaining ground by the week.  After national radio-play and attention, it is the start of something fantastic.  Make sure you hear the beautiful Sienna– a gorgeous girl and mystical figure- that has already seduced and buckled knees around the music globe.  The lads have the ability to get their music far and wide; take their songs abroad- who knows how far they will head.  For now, they have their feet planted and are reveling in their recent achievements.  With their new track creating a serious buzz, you have no excuse to…

MISS out on a terrific young act.



Follow Mayflower:











Track Review: Sofia Talvik- Starwalker




Sofia Talvik


Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014 






Starwalker is available at:


The album Big Sky Country is available at:



Aha-Aha– 9.5

Big Sky Country– 9.5

Dusty Heart, Empty Hand– 9.4

Lullaby– 9.3

A Matter of the Hearts– 9.4

Starwalker– 9.6

Bonfire– 9.4

Jasmine, Rose and Sage– 9.5

Give Me a Home– 9.4

Fairground– 9.3

So– 9.4


Aha-Aha; Big Sky Country; Skywalker; Jasmine, Rose and Sage



April 14th, 2015

Country; Folk; Pop


Gothenburg, Sweden

All songs written by Sofia Talvik, except ­“Starwalker” by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Kobalt Music). Vocals and ­acoustic guitar Sofia Talvik, electric and acoustic guitar, dobro and lap steel Marcus Högquist, bass Janne Manninen, drums and percussion Joakim Lundgren, banjo John Bullard, violin Mathis Richter-Reichhelm. Guest musicians on “Give Me A Home” – David Floer: cello, Jozsef Nemeth: piano. All other instruments by Sofia Talvik. The Big Sky Choir Boys: Jonas Westin, Isaac Cheong, Jim ­Magdefrau. Produced by Sofia Talvik. Recorded in Mahoni Studios, Berlin, Recipe Music Studios, Stockholm. Mixed and mastered by Mathis Richter-Reichhelm. Graphic design by Sofia Talvik.


WITH the days creeping towards Christmas and…


the pressures of the occasion getting to many; music is that elixir and comfort that we all need.  I myself have more stress now than at any point- family and financial woes; job unhappiness and uncertainty of the next year- so naturally turn to music; it is the only thing that really understands and makes things bearable- never asking for anything but attention and passion.  A lot of musicians are going quiet this time of year- preparing their moves for the next year- making an early impression on the scene.  For that reason, it has been great reviewing Sofia Talvik- someone whose music is appropriate and wonderful all-year-round; perfect for this time- sounds that take you somewhere safe and warm.  Before I introduce her and her latest album it is worth mentioning Swedish music; prolificacy and consistency in music and female solo artists of the moment- and the variation of sounds on offer.  Perhaps themes I have trodden before- it is apt they are evoked fully today- Sweden keeps providing wonderful and varied music.  Artists that seemingly have no boundaries and limitations; the Scandinavian artists have a little more adventurousness and passion to them.  It is not just the passion that amazes but the unusual-ness of what comes through.  Looking at the likes of Anna von Hausswolff- and her album The Miraculous– you get a semblance of Sweden’s true magic- the limitless ability and sonic adventure being presented.  It must be something in the air or landscape.  Sweden is noted for its beauty and friendliness; the stunning scenery and the wonderfully rich musical heritage.  Away from the bustle and strains of city life you get artists that are among the finest in all of music.  The likes of DNKL (fellow Gothenburg musicians), Fredo Sundemo and I Break Horses were big names last year- and have kept that intrigue and quality firm this year.  Throw Mapei, NoNoNo and Wildbirds and Peacedrums in there and you can see what a colourful array of young stunners are coming through- check them all out now for a full understanding.  As 2016 comes to view, those artists will make an impact but so many more are too.  Maybe the mystery is that Sweden is just showing better quality and passion- as opposed to conspiracies regarding landscape and the lifestyle- which should give us in the U.K. something to take note of.  I love how many genres are teased and intertwined; my featured artist is one of the most varied and wide-ranging acts around.  In Sweden there is a love of sunny Pop and Electro. sounds; terrific Alternative acts and some wonderfully compelling solo acts.  Before I raise a couple of new points; it is worth introducing you to Sofia Talvik:

We all know the Swedes can write a mean pop songs – but what about folk songs? Well, one artist is nonchalantly transferring the charm and fun found in most pop songs into sweet, acoustic twang. Sofia Talvik, brings bubbly blonde ambition to this raw and often quiet genre with a captivating breath of fresh air.  Growing up in Sweden her music has always had a special tint of her Scandinavian heritage, making her a favorite among music lovers, but her 16 month, and 37 state long tour, through the USA (in an RV) has moved the new album closer to the Americana tradition. The adventure on the road spurred a lot of emotions, both those of triumph and joy, but also those of self doubt and defeat – all of which found their way into the songs of ”Big Sky Country”.  ”Even though this young lady is from Sweden, I’d place her at the forefront of the American vanguard. One listen will tell you why and how.” – Rob Ross, PopDose.com  Living like a musical nomad, moving from place to place, slowly but steadily building her audience through her heartfelt and personal performances she got to experience the USA in a way few people do. The people she met opened their homes and hearts to her and some of them even made it into her songs. But the new album is not a diary from her tour, it’s more of a storybook of emotions, new and old in which everyone can find their own place.  Recorded in Sweden, Germany and the U.S over the course of four months the album is now being released in the U.S and Canada in April through Caroline/Universal. Although simple and acoustic, the album sounds full but not overbearingly so. Twangy electric guitars and tasteful banjo fills highlights in just the right places, as Sofia’s own acoustic guitar provides the steady base of the songs.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo -2014

Talvik is one of the most prolific artists I have seen in years.  Clearly there is a lot of love and support for her music.  Having crafted a series of E.P.s, albums and songs; it seems the young Swede has no signs of slowing and retreating- becoming more potent and amazing with every new release.  Her sounds dig deep into the heart and elicit something truly awestruck and amazed.  One of the best and most intuitive songwriter on the scene; her music takes your mind to the scenes and sights she sings- it is such vivid and raw music that rewards those that love music with depth and soul.  Big Sky Country is as stunning and rich as its cover art: music that covers a wealth of topics and explores love, hope and wonderful characters.  There are few artists that have the prolific and consistency as Talvik.  A lot of new acts start nervously and take a while to release something new- there can be big gaps between E.P.s.  Talvik has a great work rate when it comes to music; constantly writing and recording she has kept fans and reviewers salivating with her staggering sounds.  As 2015 draws to its close Big Sky Country– a mini-review will be near the end of this piece- is a truly awesome statement from one of the music world’s biggest propositions.  The gorgeous Swede could well go onto conquer the U.S. and see her music being adored there- there is no reason why she could not tour the country very soon.  That said, the U.K. loves her music and it would be great to see her come here and play.  With so many great female artists emerging; Talvik ranks among the most talked-about and talented I have encountered.  That soft, swooning and emotive voice ensures every word is brought to life with force; no listener is immune to the wonder and passion.  Some of new music’s female artists are letting the ball drop and come through quite insincere and lacking.  Among the variable quality there are a band of artists that are truly entranced in music and giving everything to it- those acts we should all watch for in the next year.  Talvik is a true talent with immense song-writing ability and a voice impossible to compare with anyone else- how far she can go in 2016 is anyone’s guess.  I can see an E.P. or album emerging; some tour dates too- hopefully she can come and play London.  If you have not heard Big Sky Country; ensure it is at the top of your ‘to-do list’.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

When it comes to the 2015 sounds of Sofia Talvik is savvy looking back to see how she has progressed and evolved.  Florida was an album released in 2010 and boasted vivid and bold sounds- just look at the cover art to the album!  Building from her softer and gentler beginnings- that is what her sound was defined as- the album marked a shift towards bigger and bolder arrangements.  Trombones, cellos and orchestral touches ensured the album provided a richer and more ambitious shift- bringing richness and variation into the fray.  The album highlights the drums- Talvik wanted it to be a central figure- and the album marks a love letter to the U.S. – a country the heroine is keen to explore.  The entire album shows a consistency and musical adventurousness: genres and themes are mixed to create a great blend of Country, Folk and Pop.

The Owls Are Not What They Seem was released at a time (2011) when Talvik was preparing a work visa for the U.S. – about to tour the nation.  The songs signal a return to basics and that stripped-down approach.  The album’s aesthetics look at D.I.Y., bedroom-recorded numbers that have intimacy and sparseness.  There is great atmosphere and emotion throughout: you picture yourself alongside Talvik; there is that drama and closeness that brings you into each song- such a wonderfully direct and passionate album.  The album explores delusions, good and evil and love; the inequalities of relationships and the need for compassion- themes and ideas every listener can relate to.  The vocals boasted dreaminess and huge effects- that breezy and passion the likes of Lana Del Rey bring into their music.  In spite of the D.I.Y. approach there is a lot of atmosphere and cinematics to the music- the compositions bring in classical strings and a variety of sounds to create a lush and heart-warming collection.

   Big Sky Country marked a return for Talvik after a little while- the songs were recorded over several months whilst our heroine and once again was inspired by the U.S.  Whilst touring and living there she got the chance to reflect the people, places and landscapes into an album that is her finest work- that creation that blends the big and bold sounds with the intimacy and sparseness.  Combining various (previous) albums together; Big Sky Country shows Talvik at her most impressive, stunning and best.  The horizons and possibilities are explored; that unwavering passion for people and places; the album is that storybook that unites the old and new- into an album that has gained a huge amount of respect and kudos from fans and reviewers.

We have an artist that gets stronger and more impressive with every new release.  It means the next year will be very exciting and interesting.  It would be great to see another E.P. released.  Whether Talvik locates to the U.S.- or records in Sweden- it will be fantastic discovering what comes next; whether an E.P. or an album- a new chance to see another side to the young artist.  Given what Big Sky Country offers, who knows just how far she can go.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

I was keen to explore Starwalker as it represents all the emotions and ideas of Big Sky Country.  Written by Buffy Sainte-Marie- Talvik makes the song sound deeply personal and meaningful- it is a stunning number. Beginning with a couple of electronic strums- eliciting a dark Country vibe with something atmospheric and bold- you get a song that begins with urgency and strange feelings.  A deeply emotional and direct beginning, it soon explodes into a rapturous and delirious wordless chorus- our heroine lets her voice fly and entwine.  From the darkness and twilight danger you get that morning sunshine and awakening- taking the listener through a 180 degree spin within a few seconds.  Captivated by that raw energy and stunning rush; the song builds these wordless vocals together to create colourful strands and contrasting emotions.  There is that mixture of tribal clarion call and spiritual awakening.  Our heroine is letting her soul fly and her emotions soar- it is a bracing and urgent opening that makes the listener stand to attention and become entranced.  Our heroine lets it be known that “Starwalker, he’s a friend of mine/you’ve seen him looking fine”; making you wonder the origins and truth of the lyrics.  Quite oblique and fantastical; there is that sense of dream and detachment.  Whether Starwalker is an alias for a lover or a dedication to the beauty of nature- a natural force that is giving her strength and focus- you are hooked by those special and original words.  It has a literary approach to it that compels you to imagine images and possibilities.  My mind instantly went to a giant landscape or a rolling scene- like the cover to Big Sky Country.  Perhaps enveloped in the night’s air there is that lone light in the sky- something quite mystical and strange.  It is good to hear a song whose origins and nature is not that obvious and evident- something that every listener will have their own view on.  Whilst a lot of musicians go straight for love and relationships- the themes are explored in the album- Talvik prefers a more novel and personal approach to things.  Her songs look at nature and geography; something that strays away from pure emotions and heartbreak.  Whilst the vocals and instrumentation climbs and stuns; my mind keeps digging into those vocals- and what they represent.  The song has a consistent energy and energy that makes the imagery and lyrics come to life and get straight inside the mind- it will remain there for a long time to come.  Propelled and captured by the passion in that vocal; I was looking towards it seems Starwalker is a “straight talker”; it is best not to drink wine- that mystery and unexpectedness keeps coming.  Maybe Starwalker is a truth or personal honesty; if you drink you become more honest and foolish perhaps- maybe I am over-reaching and missing the point.  That is the true beauty of the song: there is no direct meaning (for the listener at least) so you are always trying to find what the song is looking at/saying.  Wolf Rider is introduced in the next verse- a friend of ours and someone who opens doors- that looks at another figure or emotional representation.  Perhaps she embodies opportunity and potential- that spirit inside that makes everything possible and provides chance and hope.  It is said she’s a “sweet grass burner” and a “dog soldier”- those vivid and quirky ideas take your thoughts in another direction.  After that mystical quest and outpouring- taking in the lyrics your head starts to layer images and scenes- our heroine lets that wordless vocal call across the night.  It seems like Talvik is providing a paen to nature and the beauty of the outdoors- embracing it and its captive grace.  As our characters and figures have been paid tribute; the holy light guards the night- our heroine asks it to “pray up your medicine song”.  It seems the richness and medicinal qualities of the night have infused the spirit; caused something quite primal and wonderful in our heroine.  That enticing and strange vocal call has a beauty and serenity to it- in the verses Talvik sounds a little like Laura Marling.  Lightning woman and thunder child are in the mix this time- nominal representations of the meteorological- that embody harsh weather and the change of climate.  You can imagine the country sky exploding and bursting with colour and light.  The clouds build and the thunder rolls; our lady asks them to “aim straight, stand tall”.  Bringing the listener into the song directly- and summoning such an army of wonderful images- you cannot help but get lost in the energy, emotion and raw passion that are created.  That vocal remains firm and rousing from start to finish- never dropping or letting that electricity dim at all.  That combination of elements and figures; the coming-together or weather and nature- leads to a song that is a stunning and vivid creation.  The composition has a terrific percussion that helps to summon that idea of thunder and drive; the passion and pummel the song represents.  Bringing in aching strings to the mix; it sees Talvik create something euphoric, atmospheric and bold- embracing that fuller sound of the past.  The final moments see the vocal come fully into effect and return to that wordless coda.  Our heroine allows her voice to reflect that raw passion and strong emotion- the listener is always guessing and imagining the images and ideas being explored.  By the final notes you get to reflect and breathe- taking everything in and getting to the bottom of Starwalker.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

Starwalker is the most urgent and impressive number from Big Sky Country.  A great representation of Sofia Talvik and her various sides; I was amazed by the depth and ambition explored across the song- there are plenty of gems across the record.  That sense of oblique and mysterious continues right across the album.  Aha-Aha starts things with a little more directness and tangible relatability.  Words about sealing your heart with faith; looking in the mirror- it has a more personal and human element to things.  Talvik’s voice is pure and beautiful throughout; ensuring she gives the song the heart and soul it requires- one of the most beautiful and aching songs across the record.  That need for redemption and hope comes out; pushing you and keeping sweethearts close- not losing what’s inside and what could be.  A stunningly assured and strong opener- I get shades of Led Zeppelin III within the composition- there is a nice mix of pastoral Folk and something Country-based.  The title track is the most evocative and heart-aching song across the album.  Talvik’s voice is stunning and tender across a song that looks at the Blue Ridge Mountains and Texas; across the U.S. and the states.  The heroine takes her lyrics across America and the passion for the country; it recounts Talvik’s journeys and travels- and the great people she has met.  Perhaps the album’s most soul-bearing and love-filled song; it is a love song to a vibrant, varied and wonderful country.  Dusty Heart, Empty Hand has a catchy drive to it that puts it firmly into Country territory.  That compelling pace and passion comes out in a song that looks at betrayal and deceived hearts.  With her voice clear and emotive; the song recalls a troubled relationship that ended in pain- the song’s hero let the heroine down; caused her suffering and loss.  One of the most accessible and relatable songs on the album; it is a moment listeners can relate and understand.  Beautiful and sensitivity, you are powerless to resist the track and all its magic.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

Lullaby is one of the most emotional-drained songs on the album.  There are images of beauty and a sweetheart’s boots; the purity and possibility of the summer morning.  Everything is good outside yet the hero wishes they were dead- something is missing or there is emptiness.  Matching summer purity with something raw and unsettled; you get a song that shows a troubled heart and some lingering depression- something that remains in the mind and makes you speculate.  It is one of the most naked and honest songs across Big Sky Country.  The vocal is pure and focused allowing those words to get inside the mind and make you think- one of the standouts from the album for sure.  A Matter of the Hearts again recalls a love-gone-wrong parable.  Our heroine has let her man go- and may have been the wiser of the two- but there are recriminations and fall-out.  As things have broken down and the love has gone cold; that is not to say the heroine is cold herself- missing her man and unsure why this is.  The strength of that love has not evaporated and there are those lingering feeling and desires- represented by a vocal that drips with passion and purity.  The composition is one of the most sparse and bare across the record; appropriate given the subject matter.  Bonfire is another song that looks at lust and desirability.  Our heroine’s heart bursts like a bonfire at the seams; it aches and yearns for a particular man- it is a raw and evocative number.  With the intensity of that passion- and the fact her heart and chest are cracked open- there is nowhere else to put that love; the reservoir has run dry.  You get a gentility and purity once more; the vocal is at the centre and allowed free reign to intoxicate and seduce.  A very touching and honest number, it clearly stems from a personal place- a relationship or situation that has caused some pains and lingering emotions.  Jasmine, Rose and Sage could be a Simon and Garfunkel companionship- the second part of the cooking extravaganza- but displays raw emotions and some of the most standout lyrics on the album.  Our heroine implores a subject to “hold her hand, still so small and warm in yours”; and she is drifting away like sand.  Whereas a lot of the songs across Big Sky Country look at love and simple emotions; here we get something a little more oblique and open- a song that once more provokes you to interpret and understand what is being sung.  The vocal and composition are not too heavy-handed and dark; there is lightness and uplift to it that keeps things levelled and buoyant- you never feel depressed or suffocated by things.  A wonderfully-written track that showcases Talvik’s song-writing chops; it is one of the album’s most evocative numbers.

Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014

Give Me a Home has a tumbling guitar coda that promotes grace and beauty.  Our heroine pays tribute to the sky- it provides a happier ending and possibility- and wants to be comforting by the stars and their light.  Maybe escaping something tormenting and fearful; wanting to run and get away from things- it is an emotional number that shows the soul bared and feelings come to the surface.  Where the buffalos roam there is always a chance for something new and safe; maybe things at the moment or not ideal or welcome.  Our heroine has been told she will lose faith (as she gets old) but as long as the sky’s there- and the country reaches out to her- she will not lose that hope inside.  Fairground has a merry and uplifted sound that contrasts the lyrics somewhat.  Our heroine has been down the same road she has been before; there is that fatigue and sense of hopelessness.  Maybe life was meant to be better; the fairground lights would shine for her- things are not changing and purpose seems to be lacking.  There are obstacles and pitfalls to get around; a constant danger and uncertainty to life- that need to find something happier and more pure.  You are always sympathising with the heroine and the strain she shows.  A beautiful and sensitive song; it shows that haunted and struggling side to her- something that provokes empathy and self-reflection.  So brings things to a close with gentleness and a stunning vocal.  The song looks at fears and trepidations; the pains and uncertainties.  Whether speaking to a lover or a friend; they (the friend) are regretting things not said and the darkness they feel- things being kept inside and cloistered.  Our heroine loves them for it and shows her support; paying tribute to someone that is going through hard times- yet has a supportive friend in Talvik.  The album is brought to close with something redemptive and hopeful; the feeling things will get better and the darkness will abate- a necessary uplift and sense of purity.

Across the album you get an immense amount of emotion, passion and diversity.  The production values are stunning; it allows the vocals and instruments to resonate and shine- bringing the words to life and giving the music the openness it needs.  Never polished or too shiny; Big Sky Country is a compelling and stunning work from one of music’s finest artists.  The songs tackle a range of subjects, emotions and scenes.  One moment we have a song that pays tribute to the U.S. and its varied geography; we go to haunted emotions and dislocated love- heading towards issues surrounding pain and personal unhappiness.  Love songs deal with real emotions and longing; themes that listeners can appreciate and understand.  Within the 11-track album we get something more oblique and literary.  Strange and wonderful characters tangle with meteorological moments and mystical themes- giving the album a depth and range that few other musicians are capable of.  Talvik shows herself to be one of the most unique and sharp lyricists around.  Deftly able to convey heavy emotions and romantic stress; she is as authoritative when taking her songs somewhere spiritual and oblique.  A singer with a rich, passionate and gorgeous voice; here is an artist with few bounds and limitations.  There is so much quality and wonder to be found across Big Sky Country.  If you are not familiar with Sofia Talvik and her body of work; you will want to check her album out.  A window into a wonderful soul with a big future; you cannot refute the amazement and nuance the album offers.

photo byline must be included: Kim Reed Prairie Moon Photography

I predict some wonderful things for Talvik in 2016.  After a prosperous and busy 2015, the next year will see her tour across the U.S. (I would presume) and find new inspiration for recordings.  Each new album has a vivid and wonderful backstory.  A lot of artists record albums and E.P.s because they want their voice heard; they need to get something out there- Talvik is an artist that records when inspiration strikes; distilling her experiences and travels into music that wonderful travelogues and spellbinding stories.  Sweden is producing some of the strongest and most vibrant artists across all of music.  The variation and depth being explored is staggering; the sheer passion and love put into music is not equalled in any other country- you have a nation that should be in closer focus.  The U.K. and U.S. are always at the forefront of attention and expectation- other nations often get overlooked and ignored.  Few would naturally place themselves in Sweden when it comes to the best new music.  If you listen to Talvik and her peers; you get such an amazing difference and way of working- a naturalness and ethic that leads to some of music’s most amazing and long-lasting sounds.  It is the variety and genre-pollination that impresses me most.  The country seems less stressful and anxious; the artists are writing music because something wonderful hits them- not just to fill a gap or ensure they are not forgotten.  Before wrapping this thing up, it is worth looking at consistency and the female solo acts that are about right now.  This year I have been lucky enough to assess some wonderful female acts that provided a little something new.  From Electro. acts to Pop treasures, 2015 has boasted some fine and talented artists.  Few have really done what Talvik is offering music.  One of the most unique and special solo artists in music; her sounds and songs transport your mind across the lands and takes the imagination with it.  There are so many new acts coming out at the moment- the quality is rather unsure to be fair- so it is a pleasure to follow an artists that gets stronger and more assured with each new release.  Big Sky Country shows the Swede at the peak of her powers- more in love with music than she has ever been.  Having recorded and performed for years now; Talvik is one of the most consistent and prolific artists I have come across.  Nobody can deny how special her music is and where she is headed- the next few years will be very prosperous for her.  I hope Talvik comes and performs in the U.K.; spends some time in London perhaps- new inspiration for a future release.  It seems Talvik’s heart and soul belongs to the U.S.: a nation that has inspired a lot of her music; I guess the heroine will be spending a lot of time here next year.  If you are unfamiliar with Talvik then dig into her past and see the progression of a young woman that gives everything she has to music.  That passion and emotion shine throughout.  With every release Talvik describes the recording process and what inspired it; explains the details and gives the listener a direct insight into its formation- how many other acts do that?  Someone who loves her fans and the bond they provide; you would be foolish to ignore one of music’s most special and shining jewels.  Big Sky Country may be a few months old but its effects and wonder are still being talked about- a truly special album from a serious musical talent.  With the last few days of 2015 approaching, it is rewarding to find a musician that will be making big waves into 2016.  Embrace the passion, serenity and contradictions of…

Sofia Talvik Live Photo 2011

A staggering musical force.



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 Sofia Talvik Live Photo 2011












 Sofia Talvik Press Photo 2014