TRACK REVIEW: Jamie Coleman (Feat. Toni Etherson)- That Goodnight Msg



Jamie Coleman (Feat. Toni Etherson)


 Photo: Pat McGuire/PMG Photog


That Goodnight Msg





Photo: Pat McGuire/PMG Photog


That Goodnight Msg is available at:

February 12th, 2016

Rock/Pop; Blues


Glasgow, Scotland


WITH another Glasgow-based musician coming to my attention…

it may be prudent just to mention the city for a bit- not spending TOO much time there.  I have reviewed a lot of Glasgow artists and something new and exciting always reveals itself.  I am not sure what it is about the city that compels such a drive and creativity.  In previous posts, I have mooted the question around Glasgow bands and their dominance- how few solo acts there are by comparison.  Here is a city that very much favours the bands and a particular style of sound.  Whether that is rooted in heritage and the past- Primal Scream, Belle and Sebastian and Del Amitri hail from the city- I am not too sure.   From Paws’ Blink-182 approved tracks (the track Jellyfish was lauded by the Blink’ front-man recently) to Machines in Heaven:  there are a lot of terrific artists emerging right now.  What I am noticing (about Glasgow) is the determination and confidence that stems from musicians.  While I mentioned there is a particular ‘sound’ in Glasgow- a lot of Punk/Indie-inspired bands favouring guitar-driven music- there is also diversity and genre-fuse to too.  Catchy and uplifting bands such as White and Holy Esque are inspiring a wave of like-minded bands to take action and bring their music to the people.  Clearly, community and support are important to Glaswegian musicians.  Across the years; I have assessed a wide range of Glasgow acts- mainly bands to be fair- and always find the same thing:  they will recommend fellow artists and support what they do.  Whereas London (and other huge cities) perhaps have less of this- maybe it is the sheer numbers and stress of the place- Glasgow is showing a lot of thoughtfulness and respect.  This is leading many up-and-coming musicians to come into the music world and take a gamble.  The results are really speaking for themselves:  Glasgow is among the most exciting and prosperous hubs for new music right now.  For those who prefer their music band-made; you have a lot of choice and quality on offer.  If you want something less ‘obvious’ or just a bit different:  there are some great and agile young alteratives around.  Although Jamie Coleman plays with his band The Giants (thus making Jamie Coleman and the Giants) Coleman has been a successful and hard-working artist for a long while now.  Right now, there is a lot of excitement regarding Coleman’s latest song, That Goodnight Msg.  From the modern, short-handed third word (Msg); there is something of-the-moment and current about the song.  Drawing in Blues, Pop and Rock influences- nothing too obvious springs to mind- you have a hungry artist who is keen to make a big impression on music.  Before I raise a new point; let me introduce Jamie Coleman to you:

 “Touring artist Jamie Coleman, a talented singer/songwriter from Clydebank is due to release his single ‘That Goodnight Msg’ ft. Toni Etherson on Friday 12th February through GQ Records, the first in the line of singles due out in 2016 including guest artists such as Toni.

‘That Goodnight Msg’   is available to download from iTunes, Deezer, Spotify and all other media download sites. Toni first performed this song with Jamie on STV Glasgow’s Riverside show “Live”  in Feb of 2015.

Singer/songwriter Toni Etherson has toured Europe, Australia and America as well as recently collaborating with ‘Jack Eye Jones’, by writing and performing ‘Fire in your soul’, and  the title track from their album ‘Summer Nights’.

Jamie’s band ‘Jamie Coleman and The Giants’ are also due to release their first single ‘Day Trippin’ in Mid-March, with an album due to follow later in the year, along with Jamie’s own solo album.

Jamie has already been making a name for himself touring and supporting artist and bands like Alabama 3,  Ocean Colour Scene\ Merrymouth ,  John Power &  Jay Lewis of “CAST/The Las”,             Barry Sutton “the Las”, Chris Helme “The Seahorses , The Bluestones, The View, Curtis Harding, BrownBear and many more.  Also playing various gigs at Alan McGee’s Creation Sessions from Glasgow to Wales.

An exciting year lies ahead for Jamie, not only as a solo artist a collaborator and writer, but working with his band The Giants. The music industry will be seeing a lot more of Mr Coleman”.

Coleman will be taking the Giants around the country and preparing for the launch of the album.  Having heard previous cuts from Jamie Coleman and the Giants- and noticing the evolution and progression that has occurred- it will be exciting to hear an album from the group.  It is rare I get to feature a female singer in these pages- the last few reviews have been boy-heavy- so bringing Toni Etherson into the mix is very exciting.  Finding herself nestled in the splendour and dreaminess of the L.A. scene- in the Hollywood Hills by the Santa Monica Mountains- it is alright for some people!  I must admit this:  I was a stranger to Etherson until last week.  It has been a revelation discovering a singer with such a terrific voice, talent and passion.  Whilst a lot of her time is spent in the U.S.; she has a lot of support from the Scottish crowds- a lot of Scottish musicians I follow on social media follow her.  Thinking about Etherson- and the dreamy yet direct nature of her voice- makes me think about collaborations and artists hooking up.  You do not need an advanced degree to know what richness can be exploited from musicians coming together.  Too many bands are rigid and rarely bring other singers/producers to the fore.  Solo artists- not all but many of them- are concerned with getting THEIR voice on record and do not collaborate too often.  It is always fascinating witnessing two sole voices come together to create something new and natural.  That Goodnight Msg has an understated quality yet it resonates and produces shivers.  There is something completely RIGHT about Etherson and Coleman’s parabond:  two artists that GET one another and fit like hand in glove.  The two have very different lives- Etherson’s U.S. sunshine and Pop influence; Coleman’s Glasgow base (the sun does come out there sometimes) and harder sounds- but the combination and pairing produces a chemical reaction that cannot be faulted or undervalued.  I for one would like to see more acts sharing microphones and blending their music together.   Some of the most exciting and nuanced sounds I heard from last year arrived from collaborations:  two parties joining forces to give the music world something wonderful and rich.  Of course, collaborations do not always work:  there are unions that are completely wrong and clunky.  That is perhaps a subject I should explore another day- if I am lucky enough to review another joint effort- but I am excited about the future of Jamie Coleman and Toni Etherson.  Whether Etherson has an E.P. or album in her- an artist that seems capable of performing with any artist and elevating their work- only time will tell.  A young and exceptional talent I will be following and seeing how she blossoms.  Coleman is preparing for a new album and will doubtless be hitting the road throughout the spring and summer- let’s hope he heads down London way for a brief spell!

That Goodnight Msg is the latest unveiling from an artist who has been growing in confidence and direction the last few months.  Looking back at Jamie and the Giants’ past sounds- particularly Calm Yourself Down and Day Trippin’- and you get a sense of a musician who is still finding his feet.  Whilst the band’s past maneuvers have been met with celebration and acclaim:  you cannot help but think this year will see the finest work from the Glasgow clan.

   Calm Yourself Down boasts a raw and determined lead vocal that cuts through the mire.  The composition has a rollicking and Blues-tinged drive that gets bolder and bigger as the moments elapse.  Coleman’s gutsy (yet restrained) talks about time being wasted- maybe a girl or friend is screwing our hero around- around a ‘90s-sounding track.  You could imagine the likes of Oasis or Ocean Colour Scene tackling such a number.  Aside from the 1990s flavor; you get a distinct accent and local flavor- Coleman’s accent and pronunciation possesses a distinctly Glasgow feel.  You get caught in the song and the addictive nature of the beats; the wracked and powerful vocals- the kinetic and dynamic energy of the band.

  Day Trippin’ may lead you into ‘Beatles territory- with its similarities to Day Tripper– but it is a song that shows a different side to the band.  Coleman’s vocals have raspiness to them- recalling a young Bob Dylan- and the harmonica-and-voice combination that puts me in mind of debut-era Bob Dylan.  A softer and more contemplative number:  our hero is gone (nobody notices his absence) as he trips in the “midday sun”.  Part-sad; part-freeing- a song that has a relaxing and carelessness to it- you get drawn into a song that assesses a particular feeling/mood with effectiveness and memorability.  There is a relaxed and lounging vibe to the song that makes you smile and imagine.  What inspired the song is hard to say:  whether Coleman was reflecting on past memories or writing from fiction.  What you find (with regards this track) is another side to a multifarious and boundless songwriting who manages to retain a core sound but employ different strands/genres to ensure the music remains surprising and fresh.

It will be interesting seeing how Jamie Coleman progresses and evolves throughout this year.  I know there is an album due:  it is sure to feature the aforementioned songs, one would think?  Coleman’s songs have depth and wisdom to them:  I’d like to see a bit more grit and rousing energy across future songs.  Coleman has a voice and passion that is crying out for a volume kick and additional boost.  The band has that talent and potential so let’s hope we will see this exploited when the album arrives.  As it is, the young master should have no fears or concerns.  A songwriter that has immense promise and originality:  you always wish the best and have high hopes for a new Jamie Coleman work.  That Goodnight Msg allows the Glasgow-based music to join forces with another voice- creating something rich, compelling and primed for some serious radio play.

Excitable beats and a real sense of occasion greet That Goodnight Msg in.  Those early percussion notes- punctuated and slam like a punching heartbeat- start static and powerful before mutating into something more open and variegated.  The building introduction sees tender strings join the fold and augment the initial sense of romance and seduction.  The song’s first words (“Here comes a smile”) are perhaps not what you’d expect.  A neat choice of words- that gets the mind racing and imagining from the off- we see Coleman and (Toni) Etherson combine voices to elicit beauty and grace.  A tenacious and perfectly blended vocal performance:  you get heartfelt purity radiating from two very purposeful vocalists.  It is perhaps no coincidence Etherson and Coleman sound in-tune and natural together- maybe they have been fans of one another for a while? – but there is no gamble or risk here.  The duo sounds like a couple in the midst of a wonderful, romantic night.  “Straight out of nowhere” there has been a message delivered to the heroine (or perhaps the same message has been received by both).  The impulsive missive- one assumes it is a text message rather than a letter- seems like juxtaposition when balanced against the composition.  Those aching and old-time sentiments- there lingers a distinct ‘60s Folk vibe-cum-Country sound- has a distinctly traditional/vintage purity to them.  The foreground- the modern love story that unfolds- does not seem out of place or odd at all.  Coleman’s easily accessible lyrics come without complexity and obliqueness:  they are direct and from the heart; there is a university that makes them very amenable and happy-go-lucky.  Listening to the two joins voices and you get a real ‘live feeling’ to the song.  The production is clear and concise yet gives the song a live sound that draws the listener in.  If it were too polished and shiny the song would sound alien and completely fake.  As it is, you have a track that has no borders and boundaries:  it is a direct and all-encompassing number that we all can appreciate.  The lovers (the parts Coleman and Etherson portray) are in the midst of late-night message exchange.  Whatever the text says- a simple platitude or trope; something more personal and meaningful- it has its effect and resonance.  That sense of ease and comfort comes out in the twin vocals.  Each performer is invested in the song and sound completely awed and comfortable.  A lot of collaborations have problems and limitations.  Either the artists sound distant and shoed-in- like the vocals have been recorded in different studios and lazily welded together- or the parts do not blend well together.  There are no jarring issues to be found within That Goodnight Msg.  Each artist commits themselves to the subject matter and you can picture the studio scenes and recording process.

 Photo: Pat McGuire/PMG Photog


At every stage, I was impressed by the simplicity and everyday nature of the song.  There are no sweeping dramas or recriminations:  a lot of songs deal with anxieties and splits; something big and painful.  That Goodnight Msg seems almost mundane and pedestrian if you read the lyrics.  As the song progresses- and the conversation unfolds- you learn a bit more about the messages/texts.  One asks how the other slept- providing some intrigue and another side to the story- and it is something not ascribed in many songs.  If you think about love songs and romance, consider this:  how many strip it down and look at the everyday familiarities?  Here, we get something personal and ubiquitous.  The lyrics’ strengths lie in those lovely details and unspectacular ideals.  Coleman is an exceptional songwriter capable of some rather moving and profound ideas.  By keeping things charmingly simple; you have a song that has widespread appeal and ounces of charm.  Whereas our duo yearns to be in each other’s arms- relying on to-and-fro texts and messages- you wonder why they are separated.  Maybe an ocean separates them- appropriate given Etherson’s L.A. residence; Coleman based in Scotland- or there is a long-distance relationship unfolding.  With the exchanges “Lighting up my phone”; there’s purity and positivity in every lyric.  Both seem happy and comfortable in themselves.  The heroine wishes she was not sleeping alone- desiring the touch of her man- and there is an underlying heartache and pain within the track.  As impressed and fascinated by the lyrics as I was; my brain looked at the composition and how it supports the vocal.  The aching strings have those Country elements:  they draw in Blues touches without sounding too outdated and divisive.  There are a lot of people that dislike Country- I am among them to be honest- but That Goodnight Msg has accessibility and a British sound/sensibility to it- thankfully, the song is not TOO Americanised and Nashville-influenced.  Towards the final moments, the duo blends their voices to ensure that connection and intensity continues.  Etherson showcases an immense beauty and a wonderfully adaptable voice- something that augments the lyrics’ beauty and tenderness.  Coleman’s soulful and masculine tones are a perfect blend:  together, the duo elicits shivers and tingles at will.

That Goodnigtht Msg is a departure for both artists- Coleman and Etherson- but does not show any weaknesses.  Jamie and the Giants’ back catalogue is perhaps more personal (songs that shy away from love and more towards personal insights) and have a more driving and Blues sound- here the vibe is more Country-based with U.S. twangs.  Etherson’s collaborations and work have seen her go into Pop and Dance territory.  Fire in Your Soul (her hook-up with Jack Eye Jones) saw something rather bracing and immediate come forward- no wonder it was championed by Radio 1!  If anything; That Goodnight Msg would be more at home on B.B.C. Radio 2:  it has a more mature and softer approach.  The track signals how talented and passionate both performers are.  Not only do they sound completely right together- like they have been recording duets for years- but they both sound committed and dedicated to every word.  There are no false emotions or any weak moments to be found:  the performances are exemplary and packed with emotion.  Supported by a tight and wonderful band performance- that creates a rich and sensual backdrop- you have a song that will appeal to a mass of listener and music lovers.  I know Toni Etherson has a great future and can easily slot alongside any other musician.  She has great potential as a solo artist: there will be some choices and options ahead of her.  As for Coleman:  he will embark on work with his band and see what results from that.  Both artists have prosperous and busy years:  it has been great hearing them combine in a track that is hard to shake off and ignore.

I should perhaps stop acting surprised every time a Glasgow act remains in the memory- lest it is interpreted the wrong way- but once more, I get to witness another of the city’s musicians fare so well.  Like the city itself- which grew from a rural community into a thriving centre of U.K. culture today- the musicians of Glasgow are increasing in stature and ranking among the world’s very finest.  Perhaps the bands of Glasgow are fitting more tightly into moulds- Rock and Soul/Blue hybrids- but that is not to say the music is stilted and unexciting.  There is plenty of pioneer and mobility to be discovered inside Glasgow’s best and brightest.  Jamie Coleman has cemented a local reputation- together with his band he has made big waves- and will capitalise on that reputation as 2016 moves through the gears.  It will be great seeing what an album will contain and how the band develops throughout the year.  Glasgow has such a thriving band scene:  Jamie Coleman and the Giants are one of the more exciting and compelling examples you will hear.  I feel London’s current reign- as the hotspot for musical excellent- may concede defeat to Glasgow in years to come.  Never have I seen a city so prosperous and evolving.  Every month seems to produce wondrous musicians and something unexpected and original.  Certain areas/towns have a very set sound:  Glasgow provides much more intrigue and colour than meets the eye.  If you dig under the raft of Indie/guitar bands emerging you will find all manner of styles, genres and sounds being fused and experimented with.  Coleman is one of the city’s more mature and accomplished songwriters.  Not someone who sticks with the tried-and-tested clichés of the scene- the heartbreak and overly-played motifs of broken souls- you have music with much more depth and intrigue.  As I type this, I am listening to Wild Beasts and the track Sweet Spot.  From the instrumentation- the track featured on their most current album, Present Tense– to the divine and swooning vocals- you have a band that get better by the release.  Their stunningly tight, original and  dynamic songwriting- the band’s vocalists Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming are a natural pairing- gets inside the head and provides so much intensity, passion and soul.  The same can be said of Jamie Coleman.  A young artist that is never going to be bogged down and wants to push the music to new heights.  There is a transcendental reach and sonic experimentation (inside Coleman’s work); a perfect balance of emotions and vocals.  Band parts are written to exploit the potential of instruments and timbre:  someone who does not put themselves in the spotlight and neglect the rest of the band.  Maybe I am over-emoting and going too deep:  assessing a songwriter’s strengths can lead my thoughts in all sorts of directions.  The point remains this:  Glasgow has produced another gem and stellar craftsman.  Toni Etherson has leant her voice to a song that taps on modern themes- with a vintage and old-fashioned ethic to it- and puts the listener right into the mix.  Those Blues and Soul influences- that have been the hallmarks of Coleman’s writing- allow Etherson to create a vocal filled with yearning and serenity.  That Goodnight Msg has Country themes and strings that perfectly sits inside a Blues core.  The ensuing track allows Etherson to make a huge impact and showcase a serious talent.  Her social media numbers have been climbing and reaching dizzying heights.  One of the most noteworthy and rising stars in the music world:  make sure you keep an eye on her progress and career.  I am sure there will be album or E.P. very soon.  Having been featured on B.B.C. Radio 1; her voice has captured the public imagination and resulted in a fervent and dedicated fan-base.  I hope Coleman and Etherson combine somewhere down the line.  On paper, you would not imagine the two coming together:  that is the beauty of collaborations.  I find myself in a tawdry quandary at the moment:  trying to unearth genuinely exciting musicians that offer a long-term future and quality.  It may sound like a rather basic concern yet there are few (musicians on the scene) that can promise that.  May competiveness and quantity is always going to lead to indeterminism and once-a-year heroes.  When listening to Jamie Coleman (knowing how good the band is; how strong Toni Etherson is) you get a sense this young artist can be triumphing and compelling for years to come.  Not to place too much weight on young shoulders:  the stage is primed for something rather special to take place.  Not a musician confined to the softer side of music- the tender ballads and aching songwriting- you get rockier and more gritty moments; songs that have drama and force.  Whether my assessments will make him say “shut your geggy” or cause a bit of greetin (my Glasgow slang might need some fine tuning); I apologise.  A musician that is going to be a name familiar to us all soon enough: take a glimpse into a song that promises intrigue and fascination.  I am excited to see where Jamie Coleman head this year.  Whether the album (rumoured to be released very shortly) expands on That Goodnight Msg– more of the same sort of thing- or pushes more boundaries; that is going to be exciting.  For now, and whilst the record is still waiting to be unleashed, cherish a talent who is…

Photo: Pat McGuire/PMG Photog


ON the precipice of something big.




Follow Toni Etherson




Follow Jamie Coleman and the Giants


 Photo: Pat McGuire/PMG Photog











TRACK REVIEW: Nicky Davey- Been Lovin’ You



Nicky Davey



Been Lovin’ You




Been Lovin’ You is available at:

5th February, 2016

Soul; Rock; Pop


Los Angeles, U.S.A.


AS I get to feature another Los Angeles-based artist…

it is worth talking more about the city (and its musical culture); fusings of Rock and Soul- a little bit about the Pop mainstream and unsigned acts.  Wandering back into L.A.; it gives me an opportunity to meet one of the most exciting acts emerging from the city.  Nicky Davey produce ‘noise alchemy’ and are mingle beauty and soulfulness with something edgier and Rock-inspired.  Although Nicky Davey are touted as a duo- they do have Bert Gay on bass- their sound suggests something band-made and much larger.  I shall get to them soon:  for now, it is worth looking at the best bands coming from the city.  In a historic sense, the likes of Guns N’ Roses, The Doors and Rage Against the Machine have called L.A. home.  Throw in Hole, Weezer; The Byrds and Bad Religion:  you have an epicenter of musical creativity that has spawned some of the greatest acts of all time.  In terms of Rock acts alone- and artists who play within various sub-genres of Rock- and you have a plenty of options there.  I guess Los Angeles is always going to be associated with a certain sexiness and hardness.  The tough and granite sounds of Rage’ and Hole; the riffs and histrionics of Guns N’ Roses:  many will have clear impressions of L.A. music based on its legends and past masters.  The scene has changed today and is a lot more surprising and varied.  Lord Huron’s sweet-leaf jams (and songs about marijuana parties) have enthralled critics and the local crowds.  In the Valley Below (who hail from Echo Park) pen Indie lullabies and are the epitome of the uber-cool and happening.  The Peach Kings are another duo (like In the Valley Below) who teases ‘70s Rock sounds alongside smoky lead vocals.  If you want something a bit more underground:  The Koreatown Oddity spits his raps and rhymes behind (a creepy-looking) wolf mask.  Los Angeles Police Department thrilled audiences with their self-titled 2014 E.P.:  their melody-driven music has seen them grow in reputation and stature.  Chela is perhaps the most relevant example- when looking for like-minded acts of Nick Davey- and has crafted stunning Pop sounds without compromising her ideals.  Hailing from Australia- ensconcing herself in West Hollywood- here is an artist who blends universal sentiments with ‘80s synthesisers to create music that gets the feet moving.  Los Angeles- and California in a wider sense- are producing some of the most varied and consistent musicians in the world.  Having never visited L.A.- it is something I must rectify in future years- I am not sure what motivates such a drive and sense of quality.  In London, there are some terrific venues a musician can cut their teeth in.  Certain areas of the capital have wonderful enclaves where musicians support one another.  There is that sense of kinship and togetherness that propels creative spurts and inventive writing.  Perhaps that can be said of Los Angeles.  We all assume the city to be over-crowded, bustling and stressful- hardly conducive to great leaps of musical productivity- but perhaps that is a false impression.  Like every major city; Los Angeles is going to have its limitations and repression.  There are a lot of musicians that rebel against the worst traits of the mainstream- the over-produced and committee-written songs; the boring and predictable sounds; musicians that want fame over respect- to present something much more credible and laudable.  Before raising new points; it is worth me introducing Nicky Davey to you:

Nick Green – Vocals
Dave Rosser – Guitar, Vocals
Bert Gay
– Bass, Vocals

The LA rock and soul duo Nicky Davey just dropped a video for their single “Been Lovin’ You”. Nick Green and Dave Rosser officially formed the project in 2011. They started out just making records together under various aliases until they carved a sound they could truly call their own.

Their approach to songwriting has always had a strong emphasis on beauty, combined with infectious hooks. Their music features lush vocal arrangements, infused with the melodic honey of the talk box over organic beats. Constantly striving to reinvent the modern pop song, they were given the opportunity to work closely with Odd Future affiliates, The Internet. Lead Singer Nick Green‘s vocal production on The Internet’s Ego Death helped earn it a Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

Directed by Rich Yodsukar and filmed in the streets of downtown Los Angeles, the music video captures in a light-hearted way the reality of being musicians in L.A “We live and breathe our music and are willing to do anything for it, even walk all the way down to Hollywood Boulevard. to play outside in front of people, that’s just the spirit we have”. “Been Lovin’ You” is the last track on the NOW compilation album that went in stores everywhere on February 5.

Nicky Davey is the only artist unsigned to a major label to be featured on NOW 57. The duo is working on new material and will release a new EP in spring 2016”.

I am glad Nicky Davey have made it onto a major release (Now That’s What I Call Music! 57) but perhaps not something I would lead with.  It is a great achievement but they sit alongside some rather questionable artists.  In the past, the Now’ series has been synonymous with the best of music- until the 1990s at least- but now is a collection of the media-approved Pop artists a lot of people dislike.  While you get a few credible songs in the mix- Alessia Cara is among them- the majority is filler and bland Pop- Coldplay; Justin Bieber etc.  A notable achievement for the L.A. group but it does them a disservice, I feel.  Nicky Davey expertly blend their Soul/Funk influences- Stevie Wonder; Jamiroquai- with lush vocals and stunning hooks.  You get impressions of downtown L.A. and vintage shades of the 1970s- hardly what you’d associate with a modern Pop act.  To be fair, Nicky Davey have more in common with their idols than they do their peers.  Able to transcend borders- and chart positions too- they are a hot proposition.  It is amazing the duo is unsigned at the moment:   let’s hope that is something they cannot claim in a few months.  I guess that is one good thing to come from the compilation inclusion:  it will open record labels’ eyes and start a bidding war before too long.  If that doesn’t; Been Lovin’ You certainly will.  A confident and exciting slice that roots itself in the brain and pleases the senses:  a wonderfully rich and catchy song from a seriously promising act.  Maybe not strong enough to sway my opinions on the mainstream- it will take a lot more than that- it does raise some interesting points.  A lot of us are too concerned with the mainstream and those artists climbing the charts- when it comes to the so-called ‘best’ music has to offer.  I think that notion is rather dated and misleading.  While Nicky Davey are certainly worthy of long-term success; they have an edge and nuance most of their contemporaries lack.  They nestle alongside Coldplay (on the Now’ compilation) but are far stronger than the British act.  What separates Nicky Davey from the crowd- aside from their unsigned status- is the genres they combine and the lyrics they put out.  The songbooks look at universal themes- love and longing; loss and heartbreak- but ensure their songs are a lot deeper and more original than their subjects.  I hope Nicky Davey capitalise on their momentum and nods and keep the flame burning.  I know there is a spring release (for a new E.P.) and the boys will look to tour and take their music out there.  Whether they are stopping by the U.K. – I know how many fans they have over here! – is probably down to them.  Been Lovin’ You is just a fraction of what they are capable of.  A teasing and salacious slice of Blues-cum-Soul-via-Rock:  one of the most arresting and compelling songs from one of Los Angeles’ best.

Whilst the video for Been Lovin’ You was released very recently:  the song has been on the Internet for a few months now.  Last year; Nicky Davey released their self-titled E.P.  The five-track collection demonstrates plenty of variation, personality and strength.  While Been Lovin’ You is the strongest of the set- a natural lead-off track and single- that is not to say the remainder of the E.P. suffers.

   Dreamgirl has that delirious and stunning lead vocal swooning and pervading.  Velvety and soul-nourishing:  you get embers of Michael Jackson and Prince come through in the notes.  Haunting, romantic and luscious:  a song that makes the hairs stand on end and shivers arrive.  Multi-layered vocals and sparse electronics combine to create something rapturous and hugely sensual.  The vocal quality reminds me of Boyz II Men and the best work they produced.

   Rainbows relies less on the choir-like vocals and has a more focused central performance.  “She had bullets in chamber”; in a “pistol full of danger” are evocative words that look at love’s harder times.  Locking and loading; guns and danger are used as metaphors to ascribe a relationship that has its perils and pitfalls.  Edgier guitar and driving beats bring Prince comparisons to the fore.  You get a delicious blend of Funk and Rock around a rich and soulful performance.  A huge and impressive lead vocal pushes the song and ensures every word gets inside the mind.

Hollywood is a driving and sassy number that is fast, furious and divine.  With embers of D’Angelo underpinning that ecstatic drama:  here is a song that is instantly catchy and filled with promise.  Vocal layers and insatiable guitar seduce one another and create something hugely atmospheric.  You get recollections of Prince and Michael Jackson inside modern and polished production.

   Gonna Love Ya is perhaps the most mainstream/Pop-influenced track on the E.P. – maybe the weakest track of the set.  That said, there is plenty to suggest it is more than the sum of its parts.  Dig deep, and you find a song that has more maturity and edge than most of today’s Pop.  Cosmic electronics and a constant energy ensure the track is never boring or passes you by.  Once more, you get committed and chocolate-smooth vocals that vary between scatting and elongated.  Dynamic, nimble and changing pace at will:  the song keeps busy and restless until the final moments.

Nicky Davey released their E.P. with plenty of conviction and quality.  The attention to detail and workmanship that went into its creation is hugely impressive.  Whether there were a lot of writers and producers brought in- or the boys themselves had more control- it is hard to say.  What you get from the quintet of tracks is impressions of 1970s Soul/Pop greats with some very modern and relevant sounds.  It means (the E.P.) is not primed and directed at the Pop charts.  There is enough maturity, quality and depth to distinguish away from the bland and over-hyped releases we have seen the last year.  Nicky Davey is an act that has plenty more to say:  it will be interesting to see how they develop and what their next move is.  Given the reaction to Nicky Davey- and how critics have celebrated it- I would not be surprised to see their forthcoming E.P. get the same attention.  The real test will be whether they keep their qualities and personality shining in the new E.P.  A lot of artists would be tempted to sell-out and succumb to the lure of chart positions and dumbing things down.  I am confident the L.A. boys will keep their sound intact and strong:  not ones to let their fans down and change things now.  Whatever they come up with will be hugely exciting and promising, I am sure.

Been Lovin’ You is the most-played and shared track Nicky Davey has written.  The standout and gem from their E.P. – the most urgent and nuanced song from them- has hit people hard and left its marks.  Tribal sounds and curiosities open the track.  You get electronic click and jungle calls mixing inside acoustic strings:  a build-up that gets more heated and colourful as we progress.  From the edgy and dark recesses of the start; the track opens up and you get something light, breezy and dancing- the acoustic string section reminds me of The Doobie Brothers’ Long Train Running.  After the head-spinning and exciting opening; that smooth and honey voice arrives to give context and explanation.  The vocal rides the acoustic guitar and is enraptured.  Our lead is clearly in the throes of love and has a particular girl in mind.  When seeing her face- or the first time he saw her- you get a sense of an angelic and heart-aching beauty.  With his blood hot and heart racing; there is that desire to get the girl and gain her heart.  Maybe the two are not together at the moment- there is a seduction call and ritual unfolding- and our hero keeps his emotions at bay.  Working hard to get her- through patience and romance- you start to picture the scenes and the parties involved.  In a way, Been Lovin’ You is more classic than it is modern.  Hints of Michael Jackson and Prince- two names that crop up when describing the band’s songs- influence the vocal and direction.  Soul and Pop spar with modern beats to create something instantaneous and classic.  On the one hand, the production and composition have a modernity and radio-friendly vibe that will appeal to many Pop fans and mainstream stations.  On the other hand- and perhaps more pleasingly- is the 1970s/’80s vibe that will draw in older listeners and those with a genuine love for great music.  It is impossible to ignore the beauty and sweetness in the voice:  the acoustic guitar keeps swinging whilst the beats continue to crackle and impress.  Our hero asks for (the girl’s) number and is biding his time.  Ready to explode- he will school her “like a teacher”- and wants a relationship with depth and potential.  Promising to stay true and loyal- unlike the braggadocio and arrogance of some men- there is some honesty and maturity to the lyrics.  The sweat keeps dripping and there is a palpable lust and longing that burns brightly.  You feel our hero is about to explode and desperately wants the girl.  Other guys might rush in and come on too strong.  In order to succeed and separate himself from the clowns; there needs to be some control and discipline.  Upon first listen, Been Lovin’ You is all about that vocal and how aching it is.  There is never melisma and ululation to be found:  the notes and delivery are controlled and in keeping with the lyrical tones of the song.  After future investigation; you discover layers and new joys- the composition and production after the second listen; the lyrics on the third, etc.  When first hearing the song- I have since gone to study the song in a lot more depth- it is impossible to ignore that arresting vocal and the evocative lyrics.  There is so much spark and shiver that emanates from that voice:  the lyrics suggest a young man who has found a rare girl that might be with another guy.  There is some ambiguity in the song that allows the listener to interpret their own version of events.  Maybe the heroine is with someone else- and our hero wants to steal her away- or perhaps the two have just come together and are taking things slowly.  In my mind, the two are single but not wanting to rush into things.  Our man has loved her (whoever she may be) for a while and wants to claim his queen.  Backing the vocal- with layers of voice and delicious compositional touches- and you get a rich, deep and uplifting song that gets into the soul.  Guitars, xylophone-like sounds tie together; the beats remain sparse but effective throughout.

For those who adore the Soul legends and Pop masters of old will find much to recommend and love within Been Lovin’ You.  There is a sense of authority, genuine knowledge and command that makes the song sound so pure and natural.  Nicky Davey has grown up listening to the likes of Prince and Michael Jackson and done them justice here.  Plenty of originality and personality comes out in the song that deserves a lot of respect and radio play.  Too much chart/mainstream music is over-produced, hollow and vacuous.  Too many ‘stars’ have armies of writers working for them:  the music lacks identity and any focus whatsoever.  Worse than that; you have a scene that lacks imagination, intelligence and cross-border appeal.  Nicky Davey has ensured they do not fall into the traps laid by some of music’s least and slight.  Been Lovin’ You has gained a lot of focus and admiration (rightfully so) and shows just what the boys are capable of.  It means their forthcoming E.P. will be met with huge anticipation.  I cannot wait to see what they come up with.

It will be exciting to see what Nicky Davey produce when spring arrives.  Been Lovin’ You is a strong statement from an act that have grown and developed since their inception.  Formed in 2011; the hungry L.A. act have distinguished themselves from the mainstream.  One of the most credible and exciting propositions coming from music:  make sure you check out what these guys are providing.  Nicky Davey are looking to reinvent and push Pop/Soul forward.  In a scene that is still defined by its shallowness and lack of quality- predictable tracks and uninspiring artists- Nicky Davey are on a noble surge.  What you get from the duo (or trio, if you will) is passion and hunger without limits.  It is clear music means everything to the group.  That passion and determination comes through in the music and videos they produce.  It is not about money and column inches with the guys:  they record music to influence others and show their spirit and heart.  I have grown a bit tired of the mainstream and Pop world in general.  Aside from the odd gem you can find; still there are too many one-dimensional and effete artists that all say/sound the same.  What is the point of coming into music is you are not going to put the effort in?!  Maybe there is a degree of lacking talent- said Pop artist just doesn’t have the ability to be different- but there is a worrying trend happening.  Award ceremonies are still highlighting some of the worst and most unspectacular acts music has to provide.  The truly worth/credible artists are those whose musical ability outstrips viewing figures and chart positions.  Nicky Davey haven’t been prostituting their music and hogging red carpets in a (shallow and deplorable) bid for stardom.  They have been grafting and honing to ensure their music reaches as many people as possible.  I love the little touches of Soul legends- Stevie Wonder is a big name you recall- and the ghost of Michael Jackson.  The stunning and rousing vocals beautifully nestle with more modern acts such as Justin Timberlake and Macy Gray.  It seems like the boys are at home in L.A. and feel very comfortable amongst the people.  A huge and supportive crowd follows them and is keen to share and support their music.  It would be great to see the guys come to London and play across the U.K.  There are certain musicians that have wide-ranging appeal and will be in demand across the world.  I can see Nicky Davey playing across Australia, Europe and Asia.  Whether they want to concentrate more on U.S. gigs- and their hometown crowds- I am not too sure.  A new E.P. is mooted and will be snapped up by those who prefer their artists to be obsessed with quality and not fame.  Nicky Davey understand the realities of the city and the struggle musicians have to go through.  Poking fun at the struggles and pitfalls of the game- the video for Been Lovin’ You spoofs it brilliantly- there is happy-go-lucky charm and smile with everything they do.  Too many artists are dour and determined to be as downbeat as they can be.  There is no such danger when it comes to Nicky Davey.  The music world is a lottery that does not seem to have any real sense of justness and balance to it.  I have witnessed too many great artists fall early; so many undeserving artists succeed and prosper.

That capriciousness and unpredictability is worrying for new musicians coming onto the scene.  The first few years are always a real test of durability and strength.  Having been playing for a few years now; Nicky Davey have already jumped the first hurdles with impressive aplomb.  Before wrapping up, I will circle back to the finest L.A. musicians coming through and the importance of blending Soul and Pop.  L.A. had a huge year in music throughout 2015.  This year looks to be even more exciting and prosperous.  Perhaps the finest and most productive city for music:  Los Angeles keeps on giving so much wonder and originality.  Death Valley Girls– Echo Park neighbours of In the Valley Below- fuse Psychobilly and Punk with songs that look at the darker side of life (the occult, for one).  Justin Jay is a master of euphoric and sky-scraping hits:  marimba-like synths. go into songs that compel audiences to chant and come together in an orgy of excitement and delirium.  Swarvy puts old-skool beats and electronics together with Jazz fusions and Rap samples.  Flecks of Thom Yorke emerge in Toy Light:  a daring proposition that adds originality and personality to Electronic music.  I mention other acts- and L.A. peers of Nicky Davey- to show what diversity and excellence is coming forward.  The charts are not really indicative of what real music is all about.  Acts like Nicky Davey are creating disambiguation and given listeners something deep, meaningful and without cynicism.  There are so many artists that are fake and really lack any quality whatsoever.  Some of the musicians being celebrated/awarded at the moment- from Coldplay and Adele to Ed Sheeran- really do not give music a great name.  A trio of artists who have been derided and criticised- Adele and Coldplay’s latest albums lacked inspiration, overall quality and consistency- yet seem to scoop up awards, regardless.  Unsigned and putting out exceptional music:  Nicky Davey deserve more acclaim and following than the likes of Ed Sheeran and Coldplay.  Putting Soul and Pop into a dizzying blender has seen their fan-base climb and their reputation grow in leaps and bounds.  This year will be exciting for the guys and let’s hope they keep their momentum going.  Been Lovin’ You is a song that makes you smile and implores listeners to get involved.  Respect to a musical force that is going to be…

AMONG this year’s most exciting acts.



Follow Nicky Davey







TRACK REVIEW: Defeat the Band- Love and How It Got That Way



Defeat the Band



Love and How It Got That Way





Love and How It Got That Way is available at:

December, 2015



Tuscon, Arizona


AS every day passes I am not exactly becoming…

prouder to be a British music fan.  Last night saw the televisation of the annual Brit Awards.  While the ‘Oscars’ and similar award ceremonies have been derided because of the lack of diversity- the nominees are predominantly white- the same is true of the Brits.  I am not saying we need to fill quotas or employ reverse-racism:  Making sure there are black names on the list, regardless of talent.  There are plenty of talented black artists in British music:  The award categories are too few and broad; they do not reflect the wider music community.  The Brit Awards tend to have that reputation as being white, middle-class and boring.  The ‘winners’ from the night include James Bay, Adele (who picked up four awards) and other musicians who did not exactly set the music world alight.  Adele’s album 25 was a massive disappointment and undeserved award winner.  That album did not depart from her previous efforts:  It packed little punch and range; relying on the same big ballads and tear-inducing tracks.  If this is the ‘best’ album from the past year you have to wonder what is happening with music.  Of course, 25 was not actually the best from 2015.  There are dozens of other more deserving albums:  the Brit Awards has a very ‘type’ of audience and has to configure to mainstream expectations and chart figures.  Last night showed how out-of-touch the Brit Awards is with actual music.  The fact Coldplay won the award from Best British Group- how many people would say they are the best we have to offer?!- speaks volumes about the uncool and tragic nature of the awards.  They do not represent people with an actual passion for quality music.  With no edge and terrible dated ‘humour’- Ant McPartlin wearing a dress was the nadir and death knell of their attempt at humour- you had a ceremony that dripped with embarrassment and stupidity.  The worst and most chart-friendly musicians played and were nominated:  what a terrible time and showcase for British music.  If you want to discover proper music and what it offers:  you need to stray award from the idiotic award shows and look deeper.  Maybe there will be a day when national award shows are more diverse and quality-controlled- I am not holding my breath to be honest- but forget about them.  For me- when trying to unearth great music- I do not rely on such nonsense.  Luckily my featured band has erased the sour taste of the Brit Awards.  Before I get to them, I wanted to have a look at the music coming out of Arizona- where Defeat the Band are based.  It may seem like an odd diversion to many:  I do not get to go to U.S. areas away from L.A. and New York that often!  From Gospel Claws through Jimmy Eat World; along to Dear and the Headlights and The Format: there have been so great artists emanate from The Grand Canyon State.  Given its proximity to California; perhaps it is not surprising Arizona houses so many great musicians.  Over the past few years, the state has showcased some great talent.  Future Loves Past (from Tempe) mix ‘70s Pop and Psychedelia; What Laura Says (from Phoenix) boast a wonderfully sunny ‘60s Pop sound; Gospel Claws (the best from Mesa) are one of the best Arizona has to offer.  A lot of us do not look beyond L.A., New York and obvious U.S. areas:  Arizona has plenty of wonderful bands showing what they are made of.  What Arizona does well is stamp some terrific, original Rock bands out.  Defeat the Band is starting to make waves and recently unleashed their album, Something Unheard Of.  Before continuing my investigation- and raising a new point- let me introduce the Tuscon-based band:

Anthony Winkley– Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Michael Story– Bass, Backing Vocals
James Ringstrom– Drums

Defeat the band is a Pop/Punk/Showtune band based of Tucson, AZ. Founded in early 2013 as an acoustic solo project by frontman Anthony Winkley, it has since grown to a three piece with hopes to add more. The lineup started to build and change as the band started to form in early 2014, eventually settling on James Ringstrom as the percussive backbone of the outfit. Although Anthony is the composer for most of the songs, James brings the aggressive punch necessary to deliver the experience of a DEFEAT song. The latest addition of Michael Story is exactly the boost the band needed. The new record “Something Unheard Of” released December 18th, 2015 an album meant to set the tone for a springtime US tour in April 2016. Please Download the new record and if you enjoy the record and want to help us come play near you the donate at”.

The boys are doing things honestly and working hard to get their sounds heard and supported.  While the guys wear some of their influences on their sleeves:  they are not a band that wants to be the same as everyone else.  They kick harder than most groups I have come across; stay in the memory and are consistently impressive and innovating.  Among a scene of rather indistinct bands:  it is nice to discover a group that balks against the trend and does things their own way.  Our Tuscon guys are not in music for the money- although they would like to have a bit! – but get their music heard by a wider audience.  Their new album is gathering praise and review but not as much as it should.  That brings to mind how hard musicians need to campaign to get their voices heard.  It is true there are an awful lot of musicians coming through by the week.  It is a huge challenge keeping control and sifting through the silt- to get to the real gold.  I think the busier music gets; the harder it will be to champion the most deserving musicians.  Social media is only effective to an extent- and needs a lot of work- so I am not sure what the answer is.  Defeat the Band has gained reputation and respect in Arizona- and wider afield for sure- but are almost unknown in the U.K.  I hope the boys come play here as there is a market and a real demand for bands (and musicians) with realness and grit to them.  Tired of the mainstream Pop crap- and the vanilla sounds that plague award shows- we need to foster artists like Defeat the Band.  Something Unheard Of is an impressive nine-track release that proves what a force the band is.  I will follow them (as much as I can) as there are few bands that are as hard-hitting and ambitious as them.  I hope their passion and drive pays off very soon.

The band has not been around too long but have already released quite a bit of material.  A couple of months ago; the boys unveiled Sorry for the Weight:  a five-track E.P. that laid out their intentions and sound.  American Grief has Country tones and a reflectiveness to begin.  Aching vocals and plaintive strumming looks at our man in the wilderness and looking at who he is.  A song that looks inwards for answers- someone that has been blinded by city lights- you sense a soul that needs direction.  Blood Habit has a similarly acoustic-driven sound and showcases the tenderness and sensitivity they are capable of.  The E.P. is a live-sounding and raw insight into the band’s pastoral and acoustic side.  It does not have the same directness and attack of Something Unheard Of.  What you get- and a nice comparison to their album- is how diverse and able the boys are.  Capable of seducing no matter how they sound- whether calmer or going for the jugular- their songs are just as effective when stripped down- compelling when meaty and menacing.  Drawing from U.S. Rock bands- it is hard to overlook the effect Foo Fighters have had- they bring in other artists like The Front Bottoms, Pup and The Rifle.  The band was originally conceived as a solo endeavor (back in 2013) but expanded soon after.  Experimenting with line-up and sound:  the boys seem settled now and are an effective and tight-knit trio.  Given the changeable nature of the band- and how they have evolved- you would expect the music to have some weakness and uncertainty.  There is no such fate with regards Defeat the Band.  Whilst front-man Anthony Winkley puts his stamp on the music; the trio is a democracy where every player has their role and place.  This balance and brotherhood result in music that has seen the group grow in popularity and regard.  The guys will embark on a U.S. tour in a short time and take their latest album far and wide.  Given the fans they have accrued already- their social media numbers continue to widen and climb- it is clear the music is resonating and hitting the mark.  The trio employs mainstream and radio sounds together with individual touches- their native accents and intuition overrides everything- to bring us something deep, direct and nuanced music.  I cannot wait to see how the band progress when it comes to this/next year.  They have momentum but are still looking for that defining moment and a wider audience.  I know the guys are seeking money, fans and tour dates:  they are determined to be big names and have lofty ambitions.  If they continue on their path- and bring more of the same- they are not going to be secrets for too much longer.

I chose to focus on Love and How It Got That Way– I do not do a lot of album reviews- because it is the most instant and memorable (in my view) track from the album.  From the opening moments; you hear that passion and intention come out.  The drum trickles, rolls and patters; the guitars elicit punctuation of aching, sensual strings.  An upbeat and rousing introduction that gets the listener standing to attention.  You will not be able to avoid nodding your head- or moving your feet- hearing that effusive and racing introduction.  After the band have set out their stall; our hero comes to the microphone with concerns.  Whether he is in a relationship- or looking back at one that has ended- there seems to be some issues and questions.  The girl in question- the heroine that is being attested- thinks things are ridiculous; there is something teenage and juvenile in places.  Digging into the lyrics and their meaning; the listener will have their own interpretation and what the song means to them.  Maybe the love was/is not so pure.  The song’s subject is leaving our hero restless and up and night:  the memories of their bond is causing some turmoil or consideration.  There is a spikiness and directness to the heroine which have caused their scars.  When our boys lies awake at night; he starts to bring those memories back and replay the times again and again.

While some of the lyrics get buried in the mix- the instrumentation drowns some of them down- you get hooked into the song’s rousing energy and catchy backdrop.  The guitars, drum and bass kick and skip; change course and remain constantly engaging.  Never descending into Pop territory:  you have a song that brings in some Punk and Rock together with Indie and Alternative strands.  That quiet-loud switch the band have cemented appears throughout the song.  Whilst the majority of the song is quite controlled and calmed:  at various intervals, the vocal reaches an intense point and breaks through the mist.  When a new number arrives; I try and see what motivates the lyrics and pick it apart.  Looking at Love and How It Got That Way and you sense a band that have been messed around in love and are assessing something quite shallow and basic.  The heroine is someone who satisfies (our hero) sexually:  there is nothing deeper or more profound.  The girl has defiled the bed- the imagery the band employ direct and colourful language to drive the point home.  Perhaps the two lovers have different objectives and perspectives.  Maybe there was miscommunication or different ideals.  Our man is showing some scars but also maturity.  Perhaps he did not want something long-lasting or permanent but seems a little annoyed.  Whilst one part of my mind looks at the relationship and scenes- the hot and heavy nights and lack of conversation- I am also invested in the composition that keeps driving and impressing.  It has addictiveness and memorability that ensures it gets inside the brain.  The percussion drives whilst the bass and guitar chug, slam and change courses- ensuing the song remains unpredictable and nimble.  Our hero picks apart the wreckage- maybe the two are together but you’d hope not- and assessed the changing nature of modern love.  In past years- something old and vintage- love was more pure and meaningful.  It seems like there is disposability and sexualisation that is replacing emotions and longevity.  Making sure the vocals are arresting and potent; the band unites to chorus “hey” and “ho”.  That boisterousness and rabble injects some ladishness and swagger.  Maybe the two were on the same plain to begin with.  In so much as the ‘relationship’ had its shallowness; there must have been some more fulfilling times.  Our man pines over his girl and what they had in the past.  Whether it is just about sex- and getting that spark back and alive- the damage has been done.  “Until my voice is rotted through” our hero will pine and yearn.  It is a descriptive and vivid emphasis of this loss and lust.  Strangely, you begin to sympathise and wish the two would rekindle.  Maybe the girl has moved on or the relationship met an untimely and sticky (maybe not the right word) end.  By the closing notes, all has been said and you feel compelled to replay the song- hear those addictive and stunning jams one more time.

With another Brit Awards ringing in my ears (like a screaming child on a plane) I am looking for a musical cold shower.  Something that can wash away the stench of blandness and horridness.  Luckily, Defeat the Band have provided a much-needed dose of perspective and reality.  You will not see these guys pandering to the needs of the charts and mainstream radio bosses- dreary Pop with no insight, originality or guts.  In fact- if they were to attend an award ceremony- you’d like to think they would smash a few tables up and causes some chaos.  I shall leave award shows alone- I could go on for days, to be fair- but my larger point is this: the best and most worthy musicians are not represented by award shows and the nominees.  Love and How It Got That Way is a snippet inside Defeat the Band’s latest album.  I know how hard the boys have worked and toiled to get the record ‘just so’.  The U.S. is putting a lot of great bands our way and we should all be a lot more attentive.  Far too many focuses on British music and are stubborn when it comes to trying new cuisines.

Whilst U.S. politics has bat-sh**-crazy lunatics like Donald Trump rising- and moronic voters in Nevada brainwashed by his insanity- at least the music has sanity and truth to it.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could get rid of the politicians- people elected to speak for us- and let music/musicians lead the way?  It would be a more popular democracy and promote peace and unity over… whatever our leaders proffer.  Anyway; let’s all do our best to look beyond predictable and safe options and celebrate music from other parts of the globe.  Before I finish things off, I wanted to come back to Arizona musicians and the impact they are making.  Go to the Internet and check out musicians like Celebration Guns, Factories and The Holy Coast- a trio of acts playing out of Phoenix.  Away from the state capital, you have a variety of agile young artists staking their claim in music.  Between Tuscon, Tempe and Arizona you have a veritable army of musicians that could happily conquer the scene- were they given enough exposure and attention.  I feel the media- and radio stations to a large extent- do not take risks and take their minds away from the larger cities/states.  I am not sure whether things are different in America- and national radio brands are more adventurous- but it shouldn’t be down to local radio/media to help champion the best a state how to offer.  New York and California get their dues and are put right into the forefront.

What of the solo artist from Boise or the invigorating five-piece from Tallahassee? We might never heard of them- unless we are in the right place at the right time- and lose a wonderful opportunity.  Maybe it is just an issue of numbers and size.  With music growing larger and more corpulent by the day:  how hard is it for a modern-day artist to get their music heard?  Arizona is a wonderfully rich musical centre but there is so much competition at local level.  As good as Defeat the Band is; they have had to work relentlessly to get their music beyond state boundaries and to a wider audience.  I guess the best music has to offer will always win out- even if their struggle is fraught and long.  I have been enjoying what Defeat the Band has to offer.  Their entire album- Something Unheard Of– showcases a consistency and solidity that few other acts possess.  Every song has that unity and tight performances coming out.  The boys have been hitting the road and honing their skills:  taking that experience to the studio and delivering some terrific tracks.  At one moment they roar and deliver feral vocals- Don’t Feed the Bears is particularly direct- whereas songs like Ultra Blue showcase depth and musical innovation- the composition is particularly impressive here.  Among the passion and fervent vocals lingers heart and tenderness.  The band switch between anger and control without a moment’s notice.  They are a collective that puts you in mind of the best stadium Rock band playing.  They have a little bit of Foo Fighters- at their most credible and compelling- without sacrificing their integrity and unique sound.  There is something pleasingly comforting about the Arizona group.  They put your mind in a better place and write music that gets in the head and makes the listener warm.  It might sound like faint praise but too many bands do not leave lasting impressions.  Go and support Defeat the Band as soon as possible:  a band who want to bring the listener in and ensure their music creates smiles and fascination.  It is hard to not love the guys and become immersed in their direct and to-the-point tracks.  Nuanced and deep; compelling and hard-hitting:  genuinely one of the most impressive bands I have encountered this year.  Don’t take my word for it…

DECIDE for yourself.



Follow Defeat the Band








TRACK REVIEW: Terrorista- Sarah Michelle Gellar







Sarah Michelle Gellar






Sarah Michelle Gellar is available at:

The E.P., Softpush is available at:

12th February, 2016



Toronto, Canada


Sarah Michelle Gellar


Morriseau’s Black

In a Crowd


FOR the first time this year it is…

back to a band who do things a little differently.  Last year- I can’t remember the exact date- I got to review Terrorista and their split-cassette release (they teamed up with fellow Canadians, Outer Rooms).  That particular record really excited me because it seemed very retro. and unusual.  In this day and age- where everything is digital and intangible- to release something on cassette is a bold move.  Like the V.H.S.; cassettes have rightfully been consigned to the annals of history- they were a terrible and flawed invention that were unreliable and frustrating.  Given the fact C.D.s has arrived, we can look back with fondness and relief- more bands should release stuff on cassette.  One of the good things about Terrorista/Outer Room’s endeavor was the mingling of two like-minded and forward-thinking bands.  The Punk/Post-Punk sounds produced really got into my head and elicited something quite wonderful.  I hear a lot of bands that use Punk as a template:  Splicing in Alternative and Rock sounds to create something modern and direct.  Before coming to Terrorista, it is worth talking about their contemporaries in Toronto; other Post-Punk bands coming through- completing with a bit about the wider music scene.  I have featured Toronto-based musicians before and compared them with the bands coming through in the city.  We all know the hottest U.K. acts emerging- or those relevant to us- but Canada is a bit more of a secret.  If you look at the band Toronto has produced- Broken Social Scene, Barenaked Ladies; Crystal Castles and Cowboy Junkies- and you have a vibrant and receptive musical centre.  There is not just a particular ‘sound’ or scene when it comes to Toronto.  Like all great cities- that promote diversity and variation- you have so many options and alternatives in your music.  The bands are not confined to same-old sounds and similar genres.  Last years, acts like New Chance and Princess Century were among the most productive and stunning Toronto had to offer.  It is not just the sound quality that is amazing (with regards Toronto) but the originality of the dynamics.  In some areas, you get predictable four-piece bands and little variation with regards gender and numbers.  Toronto has some great female-fronted bands coming through at the moment.  Weaves, The Beaches and The Beverleys are just a trio of names that have got critics excited and put their stamp on the local scene.  Away from female-lead acts; you have some tremendous duos doing sterling work- Terrorista are among the finest.  I love discovering an act that is not your four-piece-making-Alternative-sounds type:  The same old band we see shoved in our faces by the media on a daily basis.  It does not matter so long as the quality is up there (with regards the four-piece) but there’s a part of the brain that tires of the sameness and turgid lack of surprise.  When confronted with Terrorista last year- and not knowing their back catalogue- they instantly appealed to me.  It is not just that kinship that gets inside the brain- the boys have a kinetic energy and understanding that enforces their music- but the types of songs they were coming up with.  There is scent social media information with regards the boys- they have no official website or biography- so you have to put little bits together to try and get a full impression.  What I do know about them- it is the mainly the music and their reviews- is how highly the duo is regarded.

Terrorista are not just confined to local circles and have hometown appeal:  They are an act that have translated further afield and are making big waves in Canada.  Softpuh is the first E.P. from trhe band in a while and it is great to hear brand-new sounds from a two-piece who have a big future.  What I love about Terrorista is the attention and detail they put into their music.  The sounds recall Punk masters of the ‘70s; a little sprinkling of Alternative music of the ‘90s/’00s- a dollop of up-to-date Rock.  Together, you have an explosion of sound that digs deep and provides colour, emotion and fascination.  The song titles are eye-catching, to say the least.  Not your average tropes and boring clichés- nothing as pedestrian as Home or I Love You– the boys Hollywood nominals (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) with pithy, intriguing one-worded songs- Canvas and Prig for example.  After the split-cassette release of last year- and their Pink Tape work before that- it is exciting to hear the new stuff from the boys.  Whereas their past body of work has been cassette-themed/base; here is an E.P. that is purely digital and modern- maybe they will release it on cassette?  What does remain is that astonishing confidence and the intriguing song titles.  Sarah Michelle Gellar is a curious title- if Fall Out Boy can write about Uma Thurman; why not write a song about the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor? – and Morriseau’s Black compels the imagination- Norval Morriseau was an Aboriginal Canadian artist referred to as the ‘Picasso of the North’ whose work depicted struggles between Canadian and European cultures; spiritualism and mysticism.  If you look at the Post-Punk bands of the ‘70s and ’80s- The Cure and Orange Juice- their legacy has compelled a lot of modern-day examples.  Canadian Post-Punk bands such as Metric, Viet Cong and Fifth Column have shown there is a market for it.  A lot of listeners yearn for that revival of Punk:  Getting back to basics and producing music that provokes a reaction.  Of course, it is hard to really define ‘Post-Punk’ as it’s a sub-genre that straddles geography, sound and dynamics.  Each band (that plays Post-Punk) employs different instruments and may take a different direction.  For that reason, a lot of media sources are frantically promoting the best of the crop:  Rhythm of Cruelty, Freak Heat Waves and Teledrome are among the most hotly-tipped and exciting Canadian Post-Punk bands.  Terrorista are getting themselves out there and nestling alongside the finest out there.  Softpush is another confident step from a duo that has tremendously conviction, consistency and nuance.  In music- and in the wider sense- there is a lack of diversity and originality- the lack of diversity in music (and award nominations) has been lambasted and criticised.  For music to grow and inspire, we need to highlight artists that have that diversity and difference- put them at the forefront.  The media still has an obsession with a particular type of band and artist.  Until they broaden horizons- same goes with award show panels- we are in danger of seeing homogenisation and a rather depressing state of affairs.  I feel Terrorista are capable of- in addition to their peers- forming a shake-up in music.  Revival, improvement and evolution begin with small steps.  By embracing artists that do things differently (and have exceptional quality) it broadens the mind and leads to positive changes- other races being nominated for music awards; a less discriminatory palette.  That is a hotcake for another day- an argument I am keen to explore in depth- but for now, I am thankful Terrorista are back in force!

When Terrorista released Terror Rooms (the split-cassette offering with Outer Rooms) and the Colour Tape Compilation; there was plenty of quality and urgency to be found.  There have been no radically changes and developments over the last couple of years.  So confident and defined early on; the boys didn’t really need to change things too much.  With a hard and gritty sound; the biggest change has been the confidence and subject matter development.  The production values on Softpush are cleaner and more polished than on earlier cuts:  To that end, the guys have grown in stature and confidence and sound completely in their element.  Collaboration and touring has strengthened their sound and what you have now- across the four tracks of Softpush– are songs that demand multiple listens and reaction.  In their earlier cuts, I was compelled to come back time and time again.  This time around, that fascination has not relented for one second.  If anything, I find myself more drawn to the songs and the steps Terrorista have taken.  Perhaps the tracks are more rounded and accessible than on earlier efforts.  Whatever the reason, you can see clear evolution and improvement from a duo that gets stronger with each step.  It will be great seeing how the boys develop from here.  Whether we will ever see a full-length album from them- or that comes years down the line- I am excited, for one.  A duo that is incapable of producing weak songs:  Make sure you get a hold of the latest release from one of Canada’s finest acts.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is the first single from Softpush.  It is a perfect example of all the ingredients that make Terrorisata stand in the mind:  That instantaneousness and raw passion alongside emotional depth and compositional intelligence.  Concise, clear and seductive strings open the song:  It is a reflective and teasing introduction that gets the listener involved straight away.  The sound of the guitar- hard to explain or tie-down- has a romanticism and gracefulness to it.  Evocative and strong- knowing the duo you expect an explosion very soon- that guitar starts to move and become more ambition.  Recalling Post-Punk bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s; Alternative sounds of the ‘90s- with a bit of Grunge thrown into the mire- and you have a bubbling cauldron of exciting scents and possibilities.  I was bracing myself for something bomb-like and bracing.  That bolt and brace arrives soon enough and takes you by the lapel.  Recalling previous tracks- the sound and force of the vocal- you have some familiarity and consistency to that performance.  Fans of the duo’s older work will be pleased the guys have not made any radical departures.  New listeners will be drawn into the song’s electricity and sense of fascination.  When looking at the lyrics; you get some curious insights and possibilities.  The track’s central figure- not sure who it is in the earliest stages- has their face illuminated by traffic lights.  Maybe the song recalls/accounts a date or romantic endeavor (our hero waits for a perfect moment to say goodnight) and there is clear tension and doubt to be found.  Given the song’s title- and the images that come to mind- I wonder whether the U.S. actor was in mind when the lyrics came out.  Maybe our lead saw himself- in a dream or otherwise- courting Sarah Michelle Gellar or involved in some romantic tryst.  The listener gets caught in the ferocity and passion of the vocal.  Some of the lyrics suffer decipherability issues in these exchanges:  The lyrics get buried among the sheer noise and do suffer some clarity problems.  It is not a major quibble as the song grips you with its exhilarating slam and intensity.  I get the impression the song looks at love and the sheer joy of being involved- the duo may correct me on that.  Inside the explosions and raptured utterances, there is subtly and romantic implications to be discovered.  Those early lyrics (the reflection of the traffic lights against the heroine’s face) has a mix of teenage awkwardness and Indie movie charm.  You picture our lead waiting for the perfect moment to make a move- kiss the girl or leave the date on a high- and there is a great sense of what-if and possibilities.  Terrorista display their talent for quiet-loud dynamics and building suspense.  The heroine smiles and our boy seem in the grasp of a very delirious and soul-capturing passion.  After those near-orgasmic Punk explosions, the boys calm things down and allow reflectiveness and tenderness to come in.  Many would expect a Post-Punk band to be all about anger and rebelling against society.  It is a cliché and oversite that is seeing some great musicians being overlooked.  Terrorista demonstrate how much depth and subtlety you can being together with Punk sounds.  Sarah Michelle Gellar juxtaposes its feral moments with some restrained and reflective instrumentations.  You have a chance to breathe and reflect at various junctures.  The track has a constantly movement and always subverts expectations.  One moment it will jagged and savage; the next it will demure and show plenty of heart and soul.  While some of the lyrics will be lost and trip over themselves, the central decelerations and emotions are clear.  Our man is in the midst of a pure love and with someone who is causing all manner of excitement.  Whether this love is reciprocated, it is hard to say:  It doesn’t seem to matter at all!  That emotion and sheer passion makes everything seem right and positive.  The boy will wait until dawn for that perfect moment:  He wants things to end of a high and get a chance for another date.  Maybe the song is based on an established love- and the bond he has with a girl- or there may be some fictionalisation.  It is always great deciphering a song and seeing what inspired it.  The song’s heroine may have flaws and human aspects:  This reality makes that love more intense and provokes realisation and declaration.  You can hear that lust and affection radiate in a vocal that remains compelling and enthralled from the first to final moment.  Terrorista are a two-piece that sound like a big band.  They have so much power and potency at their disposal it is amazing to think it derives from two guys!  What Sarah Michelle Gellar shows (best) is how consistent and impressive the boys are.  A perfect example of what Softpush represents:  Sarah Michelle Gellar is a memorable track that will linger long in the mind.

Softpush continues Terrorista’s hot run of form and shows just what the boys can do.  The four-track E.P. contains no filler:  Instead, you have gems that get shinier and more precious as time elapses.  Songs that hit you upon first investigation- and reveal new wonder after further study- you have an E.P. that balks against the disposability and un-nuanced bands of the moment.  In a Crowd is a quiet-loud brooder that grumbles the one moment; snakes and crawls with venomous intent the next.  Little hints of Joy Division appear in the quieter moments:  The song suddenly explodes and brings about an intense and venomous delivery.  As “We’re all going to go the valley’s edge” where the dead will be raised- not the most evocative image in a song full of memorable visions- you have one of the most visual songs on the E.P.  That tight and intuitive bond (between the duo) is at its peak on the E.P.’s closer.  Consistently intense and focused:  In a Crowd never becomes undisciplined or loses its direction among the throng of sweaty notes and insatiable anger.  Rising from piranhas’ jaws; death-defying moments and repeated mantras lodge into the brain and create something hypnotic.  The E.P.’s title track has soft and tender beginnings- showing the range and diversity of the duo- that soon shifts to balls-to-the-wall aggression.  Snarled vocals are propelled by granite percussion and chugging guitars.  The boys’ ability to shift a 180-degree sees the song go from restful to rampant with nary a moment’s breath.  One of the grittiest and most direct songs on the E.P. – the best representation of Terrorista’s past sound- it is also one of the deepest and busiest songs, too.  The guitar notes create different impressions and ideas- there is so much depth and emotion portrayed- whilst the percussion mixes bellicose tribalism with something accessible and graceful.

The song changes path and evolves as time elapses:  A perfect example of how nuanced the duo can be at their peak.  Morriseau’s Black starts with rumbling guitars and something quite anxious at the start.  Perhaps as conflicted and vivid as its name-sake influence- the Canadian artist whose paintings inspired the boys- you have a song that looks at conflict and clashes.  The central vocal has such a passionate intensity and attack to it; you cannot overlook or ignore its ferocity.  Among the finest cuts from SoftpushMorriseau’s Black is a song that will leave the listener guessing and wondering- just what inspired the words.  Upon first listen, you try and take everything in and remember as much as you can.  You will go back and piece new strands together; recalling memories and finding fresh revelation.  Perhaps the strongest and most focused work (the duo has created):  A confident and exceptional release from one of Canada’s finest Post-Punk acts.  Before leaving things, I wanted to (briefly) come back to my Post-Punk points; a word about Toronto music and the emerging acts to watch.  In the U.K., there is not a great deal of Post-Punk bands being proffered.  Since the days of Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure- two of the most influential bands of the genre- there have not been too many modern examples pushed to the forefront.  That is a shame, because as Terrosita have proved, there is so much potential and excellence to be discovered.  We in Britain have some stunning Rock and Indie bands appearing:   We need some ambitious Post-Punk bands to arrive and create a bit of shake-up.  I mentioned how a lack of diversity in music is creating a negative awards culture.  When we look at the nominations for the Brit Awards and the Grammys; there are few black and female faces among the proliferation of white ones.  Perhaps it is an age-old issue- when were award shows ever synonymous with diversity and equality- and it is particular prescient in this day and age.   If positive changes will occur in years to come- let us hope controversy and protest affect change- I am not sure.  What I do know is music is less homogenised than award shows suggest.  There are so many varied and wonderful artists emerging- Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly demonstrated that- who deserve great acclaim and attention.  In terms of sounds, a lot of people are not as bold and adventurous as they should be.  The only way music is going to develop and grow is by taking chances and acknowledging a broader spectrum of musicians.  Softpush is a tight and accomplished statement from a duo that do things very diffidently.  From their quirky and original cassette releases:  We have an E.P. that shows such ambitious, quality and consistency.  Canada- and Toronto especially- is hardly foreign when it comes to waves of Post-Punk genius.  Many have a particular view with regards Post-Punk:  The genre is limited and will just be noise with no depth.  That may be true of some Punk bands- who rigidly adhere to particular acts- but Post-Punk has a lot more variation and range than you’d expect.  I am glad Terrorista are back and they show no signs of slowing any time soon.  What the rest of the year will provide- tour dates or another release- is anyone’s guess.  I hope in time they come to the U.K. and play here.  Whether financial restraints hold them back- or they feel there is little demand- it is hard to say but there is a definite need for their music on our isles.  Check our Sarah Michelle Gellar and Softpush and show how music…

SHOULD be done.



Follow Terrorista






FEATURE: The Optimism Playlist





The Optimism Playlist


AS every day passes; I find so many people taking to social media…

talking about mental health.  Whether going through stress and heartbreak; confusion and sadness:  It is always galling seeing so many people affected.  I guess it is no surprise so many of us are affected by mental illness.  It is estimated 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health condition- I am surprised at that statistic, to be honest.  Most people I have ever known have suffered from some form of anxiety and depression.  I guess that figure (1 in 4) relates to those diagnosed with depression/mental illness.  To be fair, and if you think about it, how many people have never encountered depression or some form of poor mental health.  With so many of going through it- more and more by the day- there are some alarming stories coming from the press.  It seems most of us who seek help- to combat or deal with the effects of mental ill health- is not getting adequate support.  When perusing social media- I tend to do it more than I should- I am witness to statuses and comments relating to depression, stress, anxiety and other mental disorders.  Those of us who have to endure the misery of depression (for example) always find the same thing:  Most people do not understand what we’re going through.

There are great charities out there campaigning for those who have to go through dark and uncertain days.  From SANE to Depression Alliance:  Some wonderful bodies exist in the U.K.  In desperate need for continued donations and support:  I hope the government invests more capital into charities that are under-funded and overlooked.  Cancer and cancer research gets such a spotlight and focus (only right) but it comes at the cost of other charities and causes.  In 2016, mental illness is still seen as a stigamtising and divisive theme that should not have to fight for respect.  Those who are polemic and short-sighted- people with mental illness need to “get over themselves”- need re-educating and a swift kick.  It is shameful (things like) mental illness is taboo and is relegated to the shadows.  Nearly every one of those will feel the sting or depression or anxiety; the struggle of B.P.D. (Borderline Personality Disorder) or anorexia- or just a few days where we are very down and forlorn.

In the past, I have launched various attempts at a viral charity campaign- including pitches for Shelter and Mind– but have found little support and backing.  I am back highlighting SANE and the great work they do.  Having contacted the charity- I am still waiting for their reply- it is hoped they will get onboard and lend their patronage to my idea.  What I am going to do is premiere The Optimism Playlist.  It would involve sharing a playlist from YouTube.  Each listener would go to the site and select between 9 and 16 tracks that make them feel better/optimistic/reflective.  If the song (you choose) makes you reflect or more open; puts a smile on your face or takes your troubles away- put them all together!  Once you have selected your songs; share that list across social media.  Like the Ice Bucket Challenge; you would nominate a few people- not confined to three- to carry on the incentive and do likewise.

Not only does the campaign encourage people to think more about music and what makes it special to them:  They would have the chance to discover new music and artists they weren’t aware of already.  Similar social media campaigns have been met with success- #NoMakeUpSelfie for one- and raised a lot of money.  In my view, there has not been a real attempt to start a campaign for a mental health charity.  On Facebook; the post would look similar to this:

Here is my entry for The Optimism Playlist:  (List link)

Donated (amount) to: (SANE donation link)

I nominate (Person 1); (Person 2); (Person 3).


Twitter would be similar, too:


#TOP entry (link).  I nominate @1st person; @2nd person; @3rd person.  (Mind donation link).


The Optimism Playlist would be easy to do/share and each ‘participant’ would be encouraged to donate to SANE– there would be a central link that allows you to donate (you can do so by text too).  With SANE on board (hopefully) it would give control to the charity and ensure they could keep a track of donations/the plight of the incentive.

The Optimism Playlist would not just be a chance to share music and spend some time checking some wonderful sounds.  The objective is to consider those who suffer from poor mental health and struggle with a harsh reality.  Go to SANE’s website and hear stories of those who live with the burden of mental illness.  It will give us- anyone not aware of the struggles some people feel- a chance to share that pain and feel more empathy and sympathy- to people who seem to be overlooked by society.

If something like the Ice Bucket Challenge– with its simplicity and vague link to A.L.S. – surely The Optimism Playlist can gain similar support?  The important thing is to include SANE and make sure mental health is brought in and put in the spotlight- rather than a viral campaign that ignores it altogether.  It will take some time and involvement- very few people take part in things like this unless it trends on social media- but I want to raise money and support for a charity that helps so many people out- their aim is to ensure everyone with a mental health problem gets the help they need.

It is no bromide of fad thing:  I want to raise thousands (if not more) for people who desperately need support and guidance.  I will officially ‘get the ball rolling’ next week and post my entry.  My choices so far (subject to change) are:

  1. Higher Ground– Stevie Wonder
  2. Tusk– Fleetwood Mac
  3. Go with the Flow– Queens of the Stone Age
  4. Up the Bracket– The Libertines
  5. Don’t Mug Yourself– The Streets
  6. Shake Your Rump– Beastie Boys
  7. Mr. Wendal– Arrested Development
  8. Step On– Happy Mondays
  9. Tender– Blur
  10. The Boy in the Bubble– Paul Simon
  11. Grace– Jeff Buckley
  12. Deacon Blues– Steely Dan
  13. Groove is In the Heart– Deee-Lite
  14. Carnival– The Cardigans




FEATURE: Jeff Buckley- Me, You and I




Jeff Buckley



Me, You and I


PERHAPS apropos of nothing…

it is to Jeff Buckley I divert my passion.  A man capable of awed hush and frisson:  A true musical angel who remains my music idol.  This feature is not entirely without relevance and timing:  In a few weeks, a new compilation is released- bringing some never-heard-before material and early cuts- that were committed to tape before Buckley recorded Grace– his seminal debut and only studio album.  You and I bring some previously heard material- Everyday People and Just Like a Woman has surfaced on YouTube– will nestle with cover versions (The Boy with the Thorn in His Side; I Know It’s Over) with an early version of Grace.  Before I investigate Buckley- and the true reasons for this post- I implore everyone to get You and I when it is released March 11th):  It is an album that shows a once-in-a-lifetime talent in his element; showing an extraordinary talent for interpretation.  Buckley is an artist who not only penned extraordinary original compositions but was a masterful cover artist.  From Led Zeppelin- Night Flight– to Poor Boy Long Ways from Home (a traditional Blues number that the likes of John Lee Hooker have covered this); you have a range of tracks that showcase Buckley’s immense voice and peerless talent.  Just listen to Just Like a Woman—Buckley’s affection for Bob Dylan is evident and clear- and you get shivers and start to lose breath.  Whilst purists argue Dylan tackled the song with more grit and directness- perhaps appropriate given the song’s lyrics- Buckley’s version has such passion and soulfulness- elevating the song to the realms of godliness and Heaven-kissed beauty.  The way that voice wraps itself around the words- almost a sermon from a young man who could relate to every word- is just one snippet of what to expect.



There will be those- Buckley fans included- that will argue against You and I’s release.  Many will ask why it took so long for these recordings to come to light- given the fact they are over 20-years-old.  Whilst it would have been easy to unveil this compilation following Buckley’s death (in 1997) perhaps it was never appropriate or right at the time.  Others will debate the reason behind the compilation- for financial gain or a way of getting every Buckley moment into the ether- and question the necessity of these recordings.  If Buckley were alive he would probably not want the record to be released- he was a fierce perfectionist throughout his career- and wants to keep these songs private.  Whichever side of the fence you come on, for me at least, You and I is a window into a phenomenal talent finding his feet- discovering who he was as a musician and singing these spellbinding love letters.  I agree it goes against Buckley’s will and desire- a conscience-troubling greediness I will have to reconcile- but you cannot leave these songs in the vault.  Every recording reinvents the original- Calling You is one of the most spine-tingling recordings from Buckley I have heard—and you feel like you are in the studio with Buckley- such is the intimacy and immediacy of the production.  It is just one man and his guitar:  Allowing the songs to pass through his blood; you feel the chills come and drift away.  I cannot wait to get the album (on vinyl; as the gods of music intended) and allow that wondrous voice do its thing.  Of course, You and I arrives with a bittersweet price:  It is terrific hearing new material from Buckley; the fact he is no longer with us is something I cannot get over…



Despite the fact I never met Jeff Buckley- I was a 14-year-old when he died- thinking about his death almost reduces me to tears:  Such a beautiful man taken in such a random and avoidable fashion.  En route to the recording studio- Buckley was priming himself to begin recording the follow-up to Grace– the 30-year-old was driving through Memphis.  Having seconded himself in Memphis- he rented a shotgun house and laid some tracks down on 4-track- things were looking very promising.  Buckley was  worlds away from New York and L.A. – the big cities he had called home at various points- and seemed at peace in a tiny house away from the hurly-burly of modern life.  Happy with how things were going- the recording sessions prior to this time saw Buckley dissatisfied with the results- and things were starting to come together.  Buckley went for a swim in Wolf River Harbour (on May 29th) and I cannot figure out why.  Perhaps the water looked inviting and romantic that evening:  Maybe there was a lure or it was a hot day that required a cooling-off opportunity.  After being dragged under the water- passing tugboats had created waves that dragged Buckley down- the U.S. legend was reported missing- his body was discovered days later by a passing tourist boat.  It is such an unfair and insane thing to happen.  One of the music world’s most promising and prodigious talents was taken from the world in such a strange and unnecessary way!

Perhaps it is fitting of an artist so impulsive and bold that he met with such an ending.  Many will argue with mythology and ‘inevitability’- Buckley’s father, Tim Buckley, died at 28- but the truth is it was a tragic accident that should never have happened.  Maybe if Buckley had decided to drive on- get to the studio and pass by the river- music would have been changed forever.  Maybe the young hero would have retired from music in years to come- dissatisfied with the changing face of the industry.  Would he have embraced social media or seen it as an unnecessary tool that takes away human connection?  These questions will (sadly) never find an answer:  That fact causes heartbreak and immense sadness in me.  It is unusual to be attached and in love with someone who was a sound through the speakers- a human I never got to see up-close and personal.

Some people dislike Buckley and find his reputation and legacy rather shallow- a column published in The Guardian back in 2007- saw the writer (a foolish human!) list her reasons and arguments.  If well-argued- plenty of passion in his disapproval- Jude Rogers- the author of the piece- saw Buckley as too calculated and self-aware; someone who penned only a few decent hits- someone who employed melisma and overly-emotive phrasing too often.  Whilst I would never deny anyone their freedom of speech; I cannot agree with anything in this article. True, Jeff Buckley was a man who knew he was good looking and had a tragic past:  Unavoidable, genetic predispositions that he could not overlook or ignore.  Given the fact he only recorded one studio album; it is unfair to criticise a lack of breadth and consistency in Buckley’s songwriting.  An artist who covered a lot of artist- the recordings that surfaced after his death (that could have featured on his 2nd album) were by no means artist-approved and complete- you cannot judge a songwriter on the strength of a few songs.  Sometimes Buckley did over-exude when phrasing and delivering lines; some of his songs lacked necessary intensity and quality- Grace’s Eternal Life lacked the rawness and kick it would be given in the live setting- whereas So Real does not demand repeated listens.  Every artist and album contained a couple of less-than-perfect tracks- how many albums ever recorded are flawless?- and it is unfair to see Jeff Buckley as purely the result of Grace.  If you love the album- the vast majority do- or are indifferent to its charms; the American legend had so much more to him…

Why do I love Jeff Buckley, then- and the real motive behind this piece- you might be asking?  Buckley (I’ll start calling him ‘Jeff’) was a lonely man whose childhood was fraught with constant moving and instability.  Having never known his father- Tim Buckley died of a drugs overdose when Jeff was a boy- he was moved between states and cities.  Music was Jeff’s way of making sense of the world; the way for a shy man to make himself heard- a way for him to express what was inside.  So many musicians today seem so anodyne and robotic- you wonder whether there is a soul behind the eyes- you cannot connect with them or fathom why they are in music at all.  No other artists I have ever known seems so at home in music.  For Jeff, music was not just a vocation or thing to do:  It was a calling; the only thing that really made sense to him.  You only need to hear a few seconds of a Jeff Buckley song knowing how much music means to him.  Every song seems like an exorcism of sorts:  That bruised spirit finding peace and purpose in something pure, magical and transcendent.

Listen to the man talk- with that sweet and angel-like speaking voice- and you can hear that passion and love pour from him.  A human who possessed extraordinary intelligence, wit and wisdom:  Every interview I hear (Buckley conduct) teaches me something new about the world.  Not a soundbite-friendly musician who trots through interviews with expressionless fatigue:  Jeff Buckley was a man who oozed charisma, charm and authority.  The ‘90s was a decade that saw so much terrific music emerge:  Jeff was an artist who stood among the best and brightest from that time.  One of the most influential musicians of all-time; you can hear that legacy in so many of today’s artists.

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The link below- a retrospective feature on Jeff Buckley- is a recent discovery that compelled me to write this piece.  A passion piece that pays tribute to a phenomenal human being:  New information and revelations came out; new sides to a musician I feel I had all figured out.  The narrators/contributors documented Jeff’s time in the U.K.- the young star was excited playing his first gigs in the capital- and the trials and tribulations he faced.  Having to overcome stupid and ignorant interviews- who unwisely brought up Tim Buckley; against Jeff’s wishes- those tense moments were overshadowed by a hungry artist who wanted to bring his music to as many people as possible.  One of the best parts of this documentary- and what really defines Jeff Buckley to me- is how anger defined his music.  During one London interview- Jeff was pissed-off after the D.J. name-dropped Tim  prior to his arrival in the studio- there was so much tension in the air.  Jeff gave one-syllable answers and was (understandably) frosty towards the D.J.  What followed- asked to perform the song Grace– is the stuff of legend.  That particular performance- against the circumstances and anger inside Jeff- dropped jaws and showed how that music; the voice and that soul can turn anything into awe-inspiring beauty and divinity.



Whatever shit was happening around Jeff- whether it was other people’s stupidity or his struggles with depression and loneliness- it was the music that brought him back to a safe and warm place.  Nothing else mattered when he was lost in the moment.  All the stress and negativity were funneled into something pure and biblical.  One of the great tragedies is the fact I never got to saw Jeff perform live- imagine seeing the legend in an intimate venue absolutely owning it- so have to rely on recorded tracks, interviews etc.  Jeff might not have transitioned well into the 21st century.  A musician who favoured intimate gigs over stadiums- most bands and artists today do the opposite- he would have hated Twitter and Facebook’s ‘influence’ on people- the way communication and friendships are faked and fed through computers.  He would have despised a lot of modern music and what it is turning into.

What I do know is- had Jeff have lived- is the joy and pleasure he would have brought to the world.  You cannot change the past and the tragedy that claims the finest humans:  We are lucky to have had this man on Earth for the short time he was there.  It is hard keeping my emotions in check when typing this- I hear his voice and picture his smile right now- and am so sad it has been 18-and-a-bit years since his death- how has it been THAT long?!  Jeff Buckley is my idol because he epitomised what every musician should be/do.  There was no calculation and fakery to his personality and words.  Someone who was uninterested in sell-out venue gigs and magazine photoshoots:  He was a pure musician that simply wanted to spend his life showing his affection for something that meant so much to him.  Perhaps it is appropriate he is no longer here- he would seem strangely out of place in today’s scene- and the world is so much sadder for his departure.

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I shall leave this piece with a song/moment that (for me, anyway) defines Jeff Buckley- and explains why I idolise this man.  There was no pretense and bullshit; there was just a beautiful man trying to connect and find meaning.  If you have never heard Jeff Buckley’s music- what the hell have you been doing with your life?!- this clip perhaps defines why you should rectify this.  A one-off treasure we will never see the likes of again; I am thankful for any new material that comes to light- You and I will be on my stereo for many months to come.  Jeff Buckley made me connect more with music; he made me feel less alone and lost- a person who seemed similar to me- and I am so fu***** mad he was taken from this planet.  Whilst that anger will never abate; I am at least thankful for what he gave- and what he still gives to us- and the undeniable effect he had on the music world.  For that, and because I don’t need a reason to say this, I will end by saying…



THANK-YOU Jeff Buckley.


The Jeff Buckley Playlist:

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For more information on Jeff Buckley:

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TRACK REVIEW: K-Syran- Heartless











Heartless is available at:


March 20th, 2015




The album, Smoke in My Veins is available at:


IN this rare instance I get to look away from the…

usual themes I discuss and concentrate on an artist (and sound) that is new to these pages.  Before introducing K-Syran; I wanted to look at artists coming out of Norway; acts that take their influence beyond music- completing with a bit about Dance music and mixing genres into that sound.  When I get to venture beyond U.K. and U.S. artists; I tend not to focus too heavily on countries such as Sweden and Norway.  It is perhaps a shame, as these nations are housing so many fascinating and compelling artists in music.  Not just confined to Indie, Alternative and Pop music:  There is so much more adventurousness and direction when you assess a Scandinavian act.  When we think of Norway; I guess a lot of us will envisage Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal acts and a darker side to music.  That may be true of Sweden, but as I have shown in past reviews, this is an oversite and ill-judged assessment.  Norway has a lot of those artists playing- they have spawned everyone from Wardruna to Burzum; Immortal to Taake- but there is a lot more subtlety and depth.  If you want to hear the best black Metal the world has to offer, head to Norway- make sure you dig deeper and look at artists with more heart and passion.  Whilst there is a constituently impressive music scene in Norway; few ears tend to spend much time here- assuming there will not be any treasures at all.  If new bands like Team Me have proved- an Elverum-based Indie/Pop band- there are mainstream and accessible acts a-plenty.  Aurora has recently burst onto the scene- her rather cover versions are rather unspectacular and bland- who will impress more when focusing on her own material.  A sweet-voiced singer that has enough heart to overcome her limitations:  Someone who can make an impression in music shortly.  Away from female Pop you have Rap artists- Norway does have a few, interestingly!- Awill; Indie band Comet Kid; Farao and Highasakite are darlings of Norway right now- showing how many different acts are playing in the country.  Throw in some magic from Jenny Hval, Truls and Samsaya and you are rather spoiled for choice!  I guess you just have to dig deep if you want to unearth great musicians.  Norway is a national that does not get a lot of focus from media in the U.K. to be honest:  A sin of omission that should be rectified given the musicians breaking through.  K-Syran is one of the most impressive and multi-talented coming from Norway right now.  A human who is not just content to let her music impress- her charity and ambassadorial work is laudable; I shall mention that soon- has put her in focus.  Before coming onto my next points, let me bring K-Syran to you:

Norwegian born K-Syran is a singer-songwriter who has received acclaim for her acting achievements on stage and screen, including ‘Voyage in the Dark’ at The Young Vic.  However, her tender vocals always got her noticed and singing in each of her productions.  With a professional drummer as a father, she was deeply inspired by music from a very young age.

Her new album, recorded at the legendary Metropolis Studios, ‘Smoke in My Veins’, is a fusion of Classical, pop, rock, jazz and techno influences together to create her distinctly unique sound. K-Syran nurtured her voice as lead vocalist for a number of groups, but it is as a solo artist that she is enjoying the greatest success.

Running parallel to her catapulting music success, K-Syran has also made considerable waves on the global arts and humanitarian scene. Earlier this year, she took her own play, ‘Breaking The Silence’ to New York. The play was nominated ‘Best Play’ at the Global Summit To End Sexual Violence In Conflict organised by Angelina Jolie and William Hague. K-Syran is also raising much needed awareness for Human Rights Watch through her work.

It is surprising that someone of K-Syran’s calibre and influence has not accrued more followers across social media (they are in the hundreds at the moment).  I have witnessed a lot of acts- to be fair, fly-by-night examples- that amass a huge following and are talked about in honeyed tones.  Whilst their name will escape the lips of many very soon; someone like K-Syran is going to be around for a long while- as a musician and as a humanitarian.  It is the worst side of social media- and perhaps modern society to an extent- that those noble and worthy receive the least; have to struggle to get their name heard.  K-Syran does not threat over social media numbers and ranks:  Her work is shouting loudly and here is a serious proposition.  Whilst Smoke in My Veins is the latest album from the Norwegian; I wanted to focus on a previous track- a little window into her past work- and how she has progressed musically.  Before arriving at that, it is worth talking about (given K-Syran’s humanitarian work) musicians that do more than music alone.  It might not seem worth discuss- I would respectfully disagree- but I feel a great pride when musicians involve themselves with humanitarian/charity efforts.  K-Syran is deeply committed to promoting human rights and is someone trying to bring about (positive) change in the world.  Too many artists simply arrive and record their music; see how it does and then carry on regardless.  I am not suggesting every new artist needs to involve themselves with other people:  It would be nice seeing more go out their way to make the world a better place.  Not only does it give music a great name; it inspires others to follow suit and continue that example.  K-Syran has that passion for improvement and humanity:  lt is hugely impressive discovering a musician that wants to affect change in society.  Blending Dance music together with Pop, Jazz and Techno; here is an artist with so much depth and endeavor.  Previous efforts have shown K-Syran bring immediacy and passion together in songs that have universality and reflection.  Smoke in My Veins is a bold testament and insight from a musician that has a promising future ahead.  She will surely translate across the land- break from Norway/London and gain plaudit further- and is making huge strides already.  In addition to playing in London (this coming March) I will be excited to see where the Norwegian star is headed.  Her sound (and album) has that ubiquitousness and mainstream appeal; there is subtle nuance and hard-hitting emotions- everything the serious music lover looks for.

Smoke in My Veins is the latest album (K-Syran’s second album) effort from an artist who has been around for a few years now.  Tracks like Heartless and Intimacy show two sides to a hungry and talent musician that will linger in the mind for a long time.  It is hard to compare the Norwegian to any other act- not instantly race to mind- so the best thing you can do is assess the tracks on its own merits.  Smoke in My Veins is a confident and multi-genre release that signals a musician that has plenty more albums in her.  I know K-Syran is a playwright- spending a lot of time promoting human rights- and someone who will not sit still and is always working.  This work rate and itinerant passion will see more music emerge from one of music’s brightest propositions.  Whether any future albums continue along the lines of Smoke in My Veins– blending Dance, Pop, Techno and Jazz together- I am not sure.  The immediacy and confidence are there right from the start; each of the album’s tracks say something new and are synonymous with directness and nuance.  You find yourself being hit and affected upon first listen:  Further investigation reveals new light and sides to the music.

Heartless is the second track from Smoke in My Veins and is the finest track the Norwegian artist has produced.  Reading interviews with her; you get insight into a musician that possesses wisdom, humanity and a great affection for the music itself.  Not an artist that simple turns up and puts the bare-minimum into the sound:  Heartless showcases the depth of imagination and daring genre-fuse that has defined her previous work.  Beginning with teasing beats and something exhilarating.  You get control and discipline in the percussion- it never needlessly explodes and wanders off- remaining tight and focused.  Those hissing undertones parabond with the striking percussion core to get the feet tapping and propels the introduction forward.  Synths. and electronic sounds linger in the background to make the composition richer and more varied.  Lush and emotive colours nestle inside the black-and-white directness.  The listener has no idea where the lyrics and song might lead after those initial seconds.  When our heroine approaches the microphone, there seem to be some recriminations and accusations emerging.  Despair and heartache would have been erased had the subject (the hero or heroine of the piece) looked our heroine “in the face”.  Whether these words look at the splits in a relationship or the breakdown of a friendship I am not sure.  There’s certain universality and ubqiutousness to the sentiments; so it is hard to know the exact origins behind the song.  Riding the wave of bristling electronics- those tense and teasing beats continue to play- the vocal has an air of anxiety to it that makes you wonder what has occurred.  Perhaps there has been a lack of trust prevailing; our heroine is going to take her tears and take this person down.  In the early moments of the song- and the sound of the composition- you get recollections from ‘90s Dance acts- the likes of Sasha and Corona- that takes you back to a golden time of music.  Whilst some of the vocals have that processes/machine-fed sound to them- they create a mood and urgency rather that paper over a limited voice- you never feel like you are listening to an average artist.

A lot of Pop/mainstream contemporaries process their voice to deceive the listener.  K-Syran has a fine voice but uses technology to add a certain jaggedness and directness to the voice.  The so-called “heartless man” is not working with our heroine and seems like a deplorable sort.  Boasting an endlessly dramatic backdrop- that mix of ‘90s Dance and modern-day edginess is perfect- no one is immune to the song’s strength and meaning.  I get the impression K-Syran is attesting a past love and somebody who was not right for her.  Maybe there was deceit and cheating- maybe there were some mind games and cat-and-mouse double-cross- but whatever the situation; the man is being given a dressing-down in the track.  That central voice keeps strong and passionate- never succumbing to moodiness and ineffectiveness- and ensures the song remains focused and buoyant.  The future would be so much brighter were this man (to let our heroine) into his dreams.  There seem to be conflicts and some contradictions in the track.  On the one hand, you have that accusatory tone and a lot of anger surfacing.  There is that need to eviscerate a rather unsavoury character:  Digging deeper, there are lingering passion and feelings.  Complexity and conflictions lie in our heroine’s heart; Heartless is a song that evokes a wealth of emotions and possibilities.  That composition is not merely there to boast the foreground.  I love those ‘90s vibes and the floor-filler potential that bursts from the speakers.  The modern-day club-goer will find much to love and will no doubt revel in the ecstasy and attack of the composition.  Others will find classic strands in the music that recalls heady days and Dance artists from the past.  As the song progresses- and before that chorus comes back- our heroine keeps her campaign burning bright.  A heart that is more open and pure will become stronger and more human.  The blend of direct and oblique lyrics never reveals names and situations:  It gives each listener a chance to theroise and imagine.  As the feet and voice rise and sway; the mind imagines and the soul tries to uncover truths and the crux of the song.  Past the half-way mark of the song, there is a chance for calm and reflection.  Our heroine launches through the chorus- seeming more determined and attacking than ever- and allows her voice to really push and pervade.  The emotion and directness that comes through- bite and venom linger within the notes- cannot be ignored.  As the song progresses, your attention- perhaps just me in this case- starts to concentrate more on the vocal and composition.  I have perhaps dug as deep as I can with the lyrics- the ideas of infidelity and dishonesty; that man who is heartless and despicable- and pay attention to beats and electronics that get more direct and strike.  The final moments of Heartless repeat the chorus and ensure the central message is understood and reinforced.  By the end, you reflect on the song just past and what our heroine has had to go through.  An exorcism as much anything- there seems to be little lingering hurt and anger- it is a direct and compelling testament that perfectly highlights Smoke in My Vein’s ideas and sounds.

Smoke in My Veins is just one side to a musician that is a lot more than the music alone.  Concerned with affecting change in society- her plays and involvement with humanitarian work is to be applauded- you have a human that cannot rest and is always looking to make things better.  While it may seem separate from the music (human rights involvement) it gives inspiration for those musicians coming through; people that want to find idols and heroes.  K-Syran’s latest album shows a rare talent that will be on the music scene for a long time yet.  Heartless appears on the album and is just one- the album has 12 originals plus a few remixes- side to a mercurial artist with a terrific voice and direction.  I started this review by raising points about Dance music- splicing genres around this core sound- the nature of the life-improving musician; the great artists coming from Norway.   When I was approached with the prospect of K-Syran- via her management company- and the term ‘Dance music’ was leveled my way- I got a slight sense of unrest.  I am not a huge follower of Dance and have to pick carefully when investigating artists of the genre.  Luckily, K-Syran uses Dance as a core and expands and stretches the sound to great effect.  There is that pulsating and insatiable base- that gets the heart pumping- together with softer Pop moments; Techno savageness and Jazz seductiveness.  A mellifluous-cum-direct concoction arrives from one of Norway’s most stunning musicians.  Few of us look towards Norway when we want to find a great musician to follow.  We all tend to stay in the U.K. and U.S.:  Occasionally we look further afield but are somewhat limited in our horizons.  I am culpable of this and am glad to have been brought to the attention of K-Syran.  Her music has compelled me to look at Norway’s music scene and study the best the nation has to offer.  I stated a few examples above- the likes of Awill and Truls- and there is plenty of variation and quality.  That stereotypical view of Norwegian music pervades:  We assume there is nothing but Death Metal and rather bracing music.  While there’s a great deal- and rich heritage of- Death Metal; it is unfair to say that is all Norway has to offer.  Rap artists are shining whilst some great Pop moments are being produced.  Young Indie and Rock bands are nestling alongside the best from this country:  Norway is a nation we should all be looking to for some seriously great acts.  K-Syran is putting Norway into focus and showing just what excellent and range can be found here.  Her stunning music is just one side to a fascinating character that is making changes in the world and setting her sights high.

A playwright and spokesperson for human rights- committed to using her voice to spread positive messages- a truly modern musician that is going to inspire many others to spread themselves and think more deeply about the world.  If we look at the music itself- the album Smoke in My Veins especially- you have a talent that is getting stronger and more assured with every release.  I have looked at K-Syran’s previous tracks- some of which appear on her new album- but the sense of immediacy and quality is apparent the second you start digging into the album.  I have spent a great deal of time looking at Pop, Rock and Alternative acts these past few weeks.  K-Syran takes a hard and effusive Dance beat and marries a variety of sounds to create something stunningly evocative and blood-rushing.  If you have not encountered K-Syran; Smoke in My Veins is a perfect starting place and a wonderful representation of where she is right now.  That confidence and talent radiates in every song:  You cannot imagine K-Syran slowing down anytime soon.  I know our heroine comes to London in March to play:  Let’s hope there are more U.K. gigs booked- K-Syran resides in London now- as so many here would love to hear that music up-close and personal.  Heartless hits you from the first seconds and does not relinquish its grip until the final notes.  In the midst of the rabble and push is a heartfelt nature and openness from a musician that wants to involve the listener and bring them into the moment.  My next week will see British and American acts come together and appear under my radar.  Having heard K-Syran- and searched for some like-minded acts- I have immersed myself in the Norwegian music scene and will champion some of the best from the country.  If you want something bracing but deep; immediate and nuanced:  K-Syran is a musician that provides all you could ever want.  Heartless is a window into a talent that has a lot more to say.  Snap up Smoke in My Veins and support a fertile young musician who…

WANTS to make the world a much better place.



Follow K-Syran







TRACK REVIEW: Sunflower Bean- Easier Said



Sunflower Bean



Easier Said






Easier Said is available at:

The album, Human Ceremony is available at:

‘Night Music’; Rock; Psychedelia


Brooklyn/Long Island/Manhattan, U.S.A.


Human Ceremony

Come On


Easier Said

This Kind of Feeling

I Was Home

Creation Myth

Wall Watcher

I Want You to Give Me Enough Time

Oh, I Just Don’t Know

Space Exploration Disaster


I wanted to review Brooklyn’s Sunflower Bean- without commission or request- because…

their music and way of working really fascinated me.  One of those bands that are doing well in the U.S.- and gaining plaudit and name in the U.K.- they have escaped the ears of some.  It is not often I feature an ‘established’ act- those that have a reputation and cache to their name- and stray away from the unsigned/fledgling acts.  The group’s album Human Ceremony has just been named Rough Trade East’s ‘Album of the Month’- an honour for the New York-based clan.  It seems like their stunning blend of Punk, ‘Night Music’ and Indie has translated to us here and is gaining a lot of steam.  In spite of the recognitions and honorifics:  Sunflower Bean deserves a wider platform and more exposure than they are receiving.  I shall come to that issue soon, but for now, wanted to raise a few points.  Hearing Sunflower Bean- who cover Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan in their D.N.A.- give me a chance to get back into New York music; mixing older psychedelia and Punk with new lo-fi; bands that are making impressions in their home countries.  Great as it can be digging the music that emanates from the U.K.; going to the U.S. and seeking the best from their:  That is a pleasure and treat I do not get to do too often.  It is axiomatic saying London has variability and a range of different musicians coming out.  This cultural mix and genre-fusing ambition have made the city synonymous with daring sounds and stick-in-the-brain artists.   It is a claim and fact that has resulted in so many bright and agile musicians locating to the capital and staking their claim in the world of music.  If anything, New York is even more diverse and qualitative.  Given its sheer size and spread- a state that is America’s fourth most populous:  Behind Florida, Texas and California- it is not a shock so many great musicians play around New York.  Whilst California has always been a fond source of U.S. music- a state I go to when I need to discover something warm and engaging- New York has that much-needed grit and excitement.  Maybe living up to stereotypes of the states- California warm and sunny; New York more dangerous and edgy- I know New York will always produce music of the highest order.  Among a busy and no-room-to-maneuver state; I am always surprised musicians can come up with such natural and un-suffocated sounds.  Sunflower Bean is not a band who sounds hustled and strained:  Their songs have room to breathe and a terrific amount of focus and ambition.  Before I continue onto my next points, let me introduce the band to you:

Jacob Faber (drums)
Julia Cumming
Nick Kivlen (vox/guitar)

In their first year, Sunflower Bean has made waves coast to coast. Julia Cumming (vox/bass), Nick Kivlen (vox/guitar), and Jacob Faber (drums), draw from a wealth of rugged lo-fi sounds, adapting the heroic charisma of VU psychedelia and Black Sabbath’s dark rock to fit their own generation’s drowsy ethos.

Having formed a few years ago, the trio quickly established themselves as one of America’s hottest propositions.  Not just confined to New York and the east of America:  The guys have played all across the land and taken their music internationally.  Recently, they traveled to France and played a gig there (playing Lille on the 13th) before coming to the U.K. – Edinburgh and Manchester were covered and conquered.  The band is preparing for extensive dates across the U.S. – Canada is part of the itinerary too- and it seems they have little time for rest.  When confronted with a band- and deciphering why they are so popular- I de-compartmentalise their sounds and deconstruct them a little.  It always baffles my brain when certain bands do so well and gain (undeserved, to my view) credibility and gig slots.  There are too many artists pandering to critical expectations and taking risks in music.  The Indie-cum-Alternative bands that toss-off second-rate replications of existing bands- the same suspects are often subjected to piracy- are those culpable.  Whilst it is great hearing a band with passion and desire:  That should not come at the expense of originality and surprise.  Sunflower Bean has their influences and idols but cunningly mix lo-fi Punk with darker strands and Heavy Metal influences- ensuring at heart they remain accessible and embracing.  This is a trio that packs plenty of punch without drawing too much blood.  They have humanitarianism and fight; they possess contrasts and complexities- all found in music that begs for deep study and repetition.  Having enthralled and seduced America- no easy feat; even if you live there- they have deftly intoxicated Europe and threaten to colonise and dominate the globe.  Whilst they have no plans to relent touring and rest anytime soon- their next few months are going to be very busy- it would be great to see the band take some time out and relax.  Human Ceremony will be dropped soon to the public:  An 11-track album that boasts wonderful titles (Space Exploration Disaster for one) and plenty of nuance.  The album has already gained pre-released thumbs-up- including that shout-out from Rough Trade East– and come highly recommended.  Having just played Brighton last night- not sure if they are sticking around the U.K. for a bit longer- the trio is excited to see what their (first) album does.  It has gathered some respect and applause so far:  It is only a matter of time before the group plays our biggest festivals- ‘Reading and Leeds‘ seems ready-made for them!  Being so tightly bonded and electrifying- it sounds like the guys have been playing with each other for decades- you cannot escape the immediacy and intensity of their music.  For those scared off by the pronouns, verbs and damned right proclamations:  Here is a group that welcomes the listener in and sucks them into a wonderful place.  Recalling memories of ‘70s Punk with of-the-moment Rock- via some Led Zeppelin and The Velvet Underground- and you have a group that is ready for the big leagues.

Human Ceremony is the first full-length release from Sunflower Bean.  Although the band has released E.P.s in the past- Show Me Your Seven Secrets was a 6-track cut- they have shown growth and evolution from their initial days.

   Bread was the first release from the band- recording in a home studio in 2014- and showcases some atmospheric and far-off vocals.  Dreamy and drugged- embers of The Velvet Underground echo- you have a song that has that under-produced/D.I.Y. charm and a clear signature sound.  Recalling elements of other bands- but never too obvious with the influence- the track gets inside the brain and subverts expectations.  Changing course and pace at will; the song starts to race before the halfway mark.  Tender notes and sprinting strings melt with cosmic interjections and echoed notes- creating something dizzying and intoxicating.  The band employs few lyrics- the 2nd half of the song is largely compositional- and creates mood and fascination with the instrumentation.

Show Me Your Seven Secrets was unveiled early last year and saw the band at their moist ambitious.  Past E.P.s- 2014’s release, 2013 was a 2-track cut- were concise and short insights into the band’s current ideas.  Show Me’ boasted 6 tracks and expanded their sound across a mini-album.  2013 starts with racing strings and an air of excitability.  Carefully deployed words- lines come with an ellipsis after them to begin- leads to more heavy and hot projection.  The band showcases their unique dynamics and discipline- changing pace at a moment’s notice to evoke the biggest reaction- and seem at their most confident.  2013 is a song that contains so many details and ideas.  Futuristic and retro. at once- a song that looks back but seems like a prophecy- it has a quirkiness and charm that is hard to escape.  Tame Impala starts with some hooking bass before going straight into some devilish and attacking guitar.  Focused and intense; the vocal has such intensity and ferocity.  Reminding me of Alison Mosshart’s most febrile performances- that same sort of thrust-and-parry can be detected- the song is darker than 2013.  Head-spinning, psychotropic and teeth-baring; there are (again; like other releases) shades of Velvet Underground and bit of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti.  The blend of Rock and Avant-Garde fuses beautifully in a song that draws you in and demands a reaction.  Ok Mr. Man begins with echo and intrigue before expanding into light-seeking and impassioned compositional charge.  Whilst the vocal seems to be mixed quite low to start- playing the lesser role in the early exchanges- the band demonstrate their innovativeness and spectacular musicianship.  A composition that promotes so many images and possibilities- it drives and saunters down a desert highway- there is mysticism, heart and darkness in a song that showcases the full talents of Sunflower Bean.

Human Ceremony is not such a gamble given the past of a band that gets stronger and more confident.  Show Me Your Seven Secrets was met with critical acclaim and showed they could remain enthralling and essential when spreading their sound out.  The fear was- given this is the first album from them- whether they would sustain interest over 11 tracks.  Sunflower Bean has so much inventiveness and talent they make sure no two songs sound the same.  Human Ceremony is not a grand-natured departure or about-face:  The band keep their core sound intact and show the same confidence and quality they have always boasted.  What is new and unexpected is how assured and nerve-free the trio is across the album.  There are no weak songs and if anything, the New York band showcase their most nuanced and stunning work to date.  Whether it is the touring and honing- having spent so much time on the road- you get tight and stunning songs that remain in the memory and compel the listener to come back time and time again.

Easier Said kicks off with light and breezy strings that evoke summer and something quite pure.  Relaxed and charming; the listener is gently brought unto proceedings.  It is hard to bring other bands and sounds into mind (when considering that introduction) but you get a little drop of ‘60s Pop and Avant-Garde inside Fleetwood Mac-esque vibes.  Once those effusive and serotonin notes have completed, our heroine comes to the microphone.  Allowing her voice to stretch and campaign:  Early words see her “on the outside” trying to look in.  It seems (she) needs to prove herself and has been cast aside for some reason.  Wanting to demonstrate she is in the “right mind”; the brain instantly gets to worth uncovering the origins of the lyric.  Maybe broad interpretation steers towards love and relationship quandaries.  Maybe our heroine has encountered some fragmentation in a relationship:  Trying to get onto an equal footing; there’s anxiety and desire coming through in the voice.  Needing that justice and opportunity- to prove herself and redress the balance- unafraid “to take the blame”; you get more intrigue and fascination.  She will take a chance and make things right; concede some defeat and blame perhaps.  Every word and line bring new images and possibilities to the mind.  I find myself looking at the issues of love and relations as each sentiment emerges.  Backed by lilting and graceful strings- that have that summertime Pop and passion to them- the vocal continues to impress and get inside the brain.  Never too haunted or pressing; that control and consideration ensure the listeners are never lead in one direction.  Each person has a chance to interpret as they feel and arrive at their own conclusions.  I scanned Google to see if there were any articles about the song- to see where the origins lie.  The first couple of verse are:  “You try hard to see but I’m lying/On the outside/Give me one last chance to see it/I’m in the right mind/Act so tough, make you prove/Don’t be afraid to see it through/And I’m not scared to take your place/It’s not your fault, emancipate”.  From those lines, I get the idea of love but also of music itself.  The lines regarding “take your place” and “emancipate” give me insights into a band that are rebelling against the tried-and-tested.

It is the curiosity and obliqueness of the lines that will probably intrigue the listener most.  Whilst the composition-and-vocal combination has dreaminess and Pop sentiments- perhaps the more serene and enchanted the band have been for some time- it is those lines that create the biggest impressions.  When the chorus arrives, our heroine attests she “heard you right the first time”.  At every turn, I grow more curious as to the reality and inspiration for these lines.  My mind is split between relationship battles and something rooted in the music business.  Perhaps Sunflower Bean is fed up with the tired bands that all project the same sound- that blend of Post-Grunge and Alternative.  Being more developed and original; there is that push against the stolid nature of music and the necessity for boldness.  Perhaps bands make proclamations about moving on/growing:  It is easier said than done when it comes to execution.  The best songs have depth and are never too obvious in their meanings.  Easier Said digs deeps and allows the listener to transpose themselves into the mix and extrapolate their own conclusions.  Whether I am near-the-mark- or some way off- it will be interesting to see what inspired the song.  When the next verse swings in; you get the same heartfelt vocal and spirited composition- keeping those warm vibes flowing- and more pieces of the puzzle.  “Trying to ride by our cabin/It’s in my head/Should have just stayed home when I’d rather/Be alone instead” are lines that take my interpretations to other avenues and my thoughts start to stray away from love- more firmly rooted in something music-based or creative.  In spite of the near-ethereal nature of the voice; anger and accusation linger in the delivery.  “You’re getting old/So act your age” is delivered with the necessary amount of directness and fatigue.  Every new revelation has that unfettered and natural smile that keeps the song uplifted and positive.  The song’s core and title is a relevant one to all of us.  It is easier said than done when it comes to promises and changes.  Whether representing a friend, lover or music peers:  You get a track that has a lot of truth and relevance to it.  By the closing stages, more truth and insight is revealed.  Mistakes are being made (the same old ones) and it is getting quite sad- certain patheticness pervades throughout.  Buoyed by the light-seeking and Lush-inspired strings; the band unify for one final push.

Easier Said might be a red herring when it comes to Human Ceremony.  Reviewers and press have noted how light and airyated Easier Said appears- contrasting their most recent work and hardness.  Influenced by ‘60s and ‘70s Pop; you have a number that shows new sides of Sunflower Bean whilst keeping their core firm.  Backed by tremendous production- that allows every element to be heard and shine- the trio sound more urgent and addictive than ever before.  A beautiful composition and stunning vocal are only the start of things.  Dig deep and Easier Said reveals new layers and gold with every listen.  Whatever the truth of the song- an enigma I may never crack- it is exciting to speculate and imagine.  Human Ceremony is an album that is defined by range and variation:  Easier Said is a perfect example of the quality and passion Sunflower Bean possess.  The confidence that is lacking from some bands is compensated in the ranks of the New York trio.  Few bands sound as elemental and assured as Sunflower Bean.  Easier Said has hints of ’80s Blondie with some U.K. Indie:  A concoction of genres and decades that hangs together supremely.  A stunning glimpse into their forthcoming album:  Make sure you involve yourself in the beauty of Easier Said.

Human Ceremony is an album that comes with expectations and speculations.  After amassing loyal fans and attracting the ear of the media- their previous E.P.s have all been greeted with near-universal approval- many wonder how the band with adapt to a full-length release.  Would their established and unique sound become labored over the course of 11 songs?  Would the guys betray their core- in the face of rising popularity- and go with something safer and more ‘mainstream’?  Thank goodness the trio have answered both questions with a resounding f*** off.  If anything, the New York trio sounds as urgent and meaningful as ever.  The best moments of Human Ceremony– there are many of them- are focused and assured.  No song runs too long and by the end of the album; the listener will be asking for more.  Bringing in new lyrical inspiration and fresh confidence- the extensive touring has honed them and shows in their tight compositions and assuredness- you have an album that explodes with brilliance and potential.  Our favourite new band have not sacrificed their integrity and intuitions and replaced it with something vanilla and watered-down.  Finding gold and new beauty in each number; fans can breathe a sigh of relief.  Those who have followed Sunflower Bean from the beginning will find much to love in their new album.  What is new- and will bring in fresh faces for sure- if how current the music sounds.  Whilst there are those embers of Zeppelin and other idols:  Every moment is so gripping and pure it does not confine itself to any particular group or genre.  Open and honest; layered and complex:  These are the qualities that make Human Ceremony a much-heralded creation.  I would elucidate- perhaps an album review at a later juncture? – although Easier Said is a perfect insight into an album that will firmly place Sunflower Bean on the map.  Before wrapping proceedings up; coming back to my original points would seem pertinent.  Gleaning information from interviews the band has conducted- the guys recently chatted to Paste– and you get wisdom and honesty from a group who know exactly where they want to be.  Whilst talking about the mortality of creative peak- they explained that artists and directors get better with age; musicians seem to hit their stride younger- they seem very down-to-earth and realistic.  Music is so demanding and cut-throat- the group wondered whether they would have a chance to play if their album fell short; not a fate they should contemplate- yet Sunflower Bean seems unlikely to fail.   This trio constantly evolves and grows- taking influence from modern artists like Tame Impala in addition to older idols- and write with contrasts and human emotions firmly in mind.

One of the reasons I raised a point (up top in this review) about their inimitable blend- the lo-fi Punk and ‘70s Rock- is relevant to the band’s creation and sound.  In 2012, there was a lot of Post-Grunge/Art-Noise bands playing- all sounding the same; none that inspired- and directionless-ness and fatigue around Brooklyn.  Straying from that mould; Sunflower Bean took the heart and soul of Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin:  Transformed it into something modern and unique.  The band themselves have already started penning new material- perhaps another album will appear some way down the track?- and are passionate and hungry to get their music into the ether.  With New York’s reputation as the doyenne of music- the finest and most splendid bands hail here- I am not shocked Sunflower Bean have done so well.  They have seen/been put off by the rather predictable sound of 2012- that need to recapture a past movement with no imagination- and displayed the best traits of the state.  Taking guidance from their heroes and influencers- the Rock gods and Krautrock artists of the ‘70s- and you have sensational music that is constantly engaging and inspiring from beginning to end.  I am sure Human Ceremony will do a roaring trade upon its official release.  The fact it has already picked up adulation in the U.K. bodes well for potential festival call-ups.  So many people are fed up with the samey bands who headline our biggest festivals- Coldplay, rather predictably, have been announced as headliners for Glastonbury (*sigh*).  I do not know who will headline ‘Reading and Leeds’– probably Muse or someone like that- but there are so many treasures waiting to be discovered.  While Sunflower Bean might not (as yet anyway) be main-stage-ready quite yet:  I wouldn’t bank against them being festival headliners very soon.  If you have not heard Easier Said; ensure you dive into song and prepare to be blown away by one of music’s biggest emerging bands.  They have worked hard and relentlessly to ensure their sounds distinguish themselves from the crowd.  I cannot wait to get a hold of Human Ceremony and see the band in the flesh.  As they prepare to head back to the U.S. – a restless and tiring tour schedule awaits them- it will give the New York trio a chance to showcase the new material and gain feedback.  For those who feel depressed with the under-ambitious nature of some bands- who seem stuck in a rut and rudderless- ensure you give Sunflower Bean proper attention.  Never ones to disappoint; their music digs deep and will take you somewhere…

YOU will never want to leave.



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TRACK REVIEW: Aperture- Get in Line






Get in Line




Get in Line is available at:

November, 2015

Alternative; Punk; Dance; New Wave


Edinburgh, U.K.


GIVEN the depth of feeling among the music community…

Given the untimely passing of Viola Beach- a bright young band who were recently killed in a car crash in Sweden- there is a campaign to get their song Swings & Waterslides to the charts.  It is perhaps only right that a group who yearned for stardom and success should be honoured in such a way.  Given the horrible surroundings that propelled this campaign:  Let’s hope this is not just a zeitgeist measure that is a one-off thing.  Viola Beach are the personification of a band that is a lot more than the sum of their music.  Their attitude and personality were highlighted- fans and listeners that saw them in the flesh- and they are a group whose back catalogue- every song they have recorded- deserves wider scrutiny and long-term investigation.  While it is sad to see one of our up-and-coming groups taken away; the tragedy has at least proven how much the public care about real music.   It is a point I want to raise- the definition of the word ‘real’- in addition to Punk/Alternative sounds emerging; finishing off with a bit about Edinburgh’s best bands emerging.  Among by midst of skepticism- some bands that are not quite up to standard at the moment- there are a fair few that are pioneering some rather exciting and unexpected songs.  While there are some weak and ineffectual bands around- a depressing amount when you think about it- there is enough out there to suggest we have some future legends in our midst.  It is difficult to distinguish yourself from the crowd- given the amount of artists emerging- so gaining recognition is a hell of a challenge.  We all have our definition of what ‘real music’ consists.  To me, it is those who do not follow the pack and have their own way of working.  One of my main criticisms- when it comes to unoriginal bands- is how they just replicate their idols’ sounds.  Artists that are brave enough to experiment and pioneer are those who will get my applause.  Whether they are Rock or Alternative; Pop or Heavy Metal:  I will always follow those bands that push the envelope and do not copycat anyone else.  A lot of the bands heralded by critics over the past year- Chvrches, Wolf Alice and Beach House for example- have gained recognition for their incredible albums and way of working.  There is a trio of acts who very much have their own sound and are determined not to singled-in with any other group.  That said- and despite the recognition they have obtained- it seems to be the solo artists who have stolen focus.  I am not sure whether there are fewer bands that are truly exceptional- the lone stars are gaining foothold and plaudit- but their once-held dominance is starting to slip.  Among the newcomers working in the underground- trying to ensure bands are not overlooked- are some wonderful artists.  Aperture are an honest and hard-working quartet that have the potential to be one of our big artists of the future.  Before I raise a couple of new points- and highlight the merits of Aperture- let me introduce them to you:

Lisa McGlynn (vox)
Lachlan McIntosh (drums)
Tom Galbraith (guitar)
Martin Munoz  (bass)

Aperture were formed in 2010 by Lead Singer Lisa McGlynn, as a female -fronted alternative rock band. Independently released debut single ‘Chemistry’ .

Possessing a defined archaic sound, ‘Get In Line’ instantly finds your mind wandering into a souped-up version of the 80’s rock scene. While being complimented by both modernised adventure and tributes to Aperture’s inspirations (The Cure, Yeah Yeah Yeahs); ‘Get In Line’ is the definition of a time-hop, neatly allowing the track to be likened to every era of music.” (Gigslutz)


Aperture tracks have been played on Aaron Philips Amazing Radio Rock Show, Jim Gellatly’s Amazing Radio Show, Leith FM, Diamond FM, Pulse Radio and Radio Salford. The band have played with excellent Scottish acts such as Bwani Junction, United Fruit, Aerials Up and White Heath, Make Sparks and Vukovi.”

Aperture walks the line when it comes to originality and tribute.  The band has their heroes and favourite acts- including The Cure and Red Hot Chili Peppers- but do not sound too similar to any of them.  A lot great Alternative-cum-Punk bands are emerging and gaining the ear of radio stations and the media.  Whether it is the favoured sound at the moment- and rebels sufficiently against the bland Pop that seems to persist- I am not sure.  One thing I do know is that the public yearn and crave music that is direct and pure.  With no polish, garnish and falsehoods:  They seek bands that recall the legends of old whilst injecting something original and hard-hitting into the blend.  Aperture was new to me until a few weeks ago:  It has been great discovering a Scottish band that are gaining headway and respect.  Whilst I have looked at the Punk/Rock blends of Aperture; there is much more to them than that.  Throwing Dance and New Wave together to create music that fire on all cylinders.  Not your average and predictable band here:  The four-piece are a lot deeper and assured than the majority of their peers.  Anyone seeking a band that sticks in the mind and has the potential to remains on the scene:  We have a fine example of what you are looking for.  Edinburgh has come under my radar a lot over the years.  Whilst my last Scottish-based review concerned Glasgow- and I looked at the great bands from that city- it is to Edinburgh I am headed today.  Historically, the city has produced some dodgy acts- Bilbo Baggins are the stuff of nightmares- but are cranking out some of modern music’s finest acts.  Boards of Canada have been established for a long time but continue to produce wonderful music.  Young Fathers and Broken Records are among the most important modern-day acts playing around Edinburgh.  With The Beta Band and Idewild being among the city’s most influential artists; it is clearly a rich musical pedigree with regards Edinburgh.  In terms of the new artists coming through, Birdhead, Black International and Law are just a few examples of future stars.  The media does not spend a lot of time concentrating on Edinburgh bands- compared to the time they expend in London and Manchester- so we often have to rely on social media links.  What I do not is- from reviewing act around Scotland- is how many fine young musicians are playing here.  The future of music is going to hinge on whether the media expands their horizons and gives equal time to bands from other parts of the U.K.  Aperture have received some great radio play and are definitely on the rise:  I feel with a bit of media patronage they could transcend boundaries are emerge into the mainstream in years to come.  Whether they have an E.P. or album coming this year- I am not sure what their studio plans consist- they are a band worth keeping your eyes on.

If you have not heard of Aperture; you might be looking for acts and bands that have inspired them.  The list below- taken from the group’s Facebook page- is an indication and good guide:

The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Joy Division, PJ Harvey, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Artic Monkeys, Skunk Ananasie, Led Zepellin, Soundgarden, Nevermore, Altered Images, Blondie, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Paramore, Flyleaf, Steven Severin, The Bay City Rollers, Pat McGlynn Band …………Classic Rock

There are a lot of names on that list but it gives you an overview of what Aperture are all about.  I was excited reviewing Get in Line but was keen to look back and see how the band started out.  When looking at Get in Line– and how the song has developed from older efforts- Good to Know You is a pertinent start.  Confident and catchy from the off, it boasts some terrific band interplay and memorable lyrics.  If anything, the song requires that addition kick- a bigger performance and extra volume- but is an early song that showed just how nimble and authoritative the band is.  The lead vocals have clarity and run a gamut of emotions.  Switching course and breathless in its campaign:  One of the most compelling and passionate vocal performances from the band’s catalogue.  The chorus is instantly memorable and will leave you singing along and chanting upon further listens.  Hard to compare with other bands and artists- it has a distinct uniqueness- there is a mix of sounds and ideas brought in.

With Good to Know You released four years ago; Click is another song that is was released around the same time.  Displaying a similar force and passion of Good to Know You:  Here is another driving and determined assault that highlights that tight-knit bond the band shares.  The percussion and bass particularly stand out here.  The former is impressively teasing, ear-catching and consistent- a performance full of pace, power and technique.  The bass is allowed to shine and guides the song perfectly.  To be fair, each instrument is allowed to shine and demonstrate the musicianship and talents of all the band’s members.  Whilst not as catchy as Good to Know You; the band sounds tighter and more confident here.

Before their Get in Line E.P., the band sounded formed and confident, to say the least.  Their E.P. – and the song Get in Line– benefits from more polished production that brings that force, volume and clarity together.  Sounding stronger and more direct than ever; songs like Chemistry get inside the mind and the originality the band has.  Bringing in a few different influences- nothing too obvious- you get a song (and E.P.) that bristles with edginess and attitude; there’s heart and soulfulness- all coming together in exceptional performances.  The E.P.’s title track is a perfect representation of the band’s evolution.  The guys sound more together, confident and forceful than on earlier efforts.  Those sapling cuts had layers and hugely memorable moments, yet I felt there were some nerves at work.  Maybe not as full-bodied and bold as they should be; the newer songs are much more compelling and potent.  Maybe touring and gigs- between the older and new songs- has strengthened the band and lead to this improvement.  Whatever the reason; we have a four-piece that keeps getting better and Get in Line’s title track is a song definitely worth investigating.

With every track I assess; I try and dig down to its core and extrapolate meaning and definition from the lyrics.  As I settled down to study Aperture’s current single; I was stunned to attention.  The initial moments see that inimitable bass shine.  Few tracks give the bass a chance to come up front and lead a song.  When I look at band’s and bass players that get exposure- Led Zeppelin and Muse among them- I wonder why it is an instrument few others give exposure to.  Not as shredding and electrifying as guitar; it is a component that is hugely important and vital to the mix.  Aperture understands this and ensure Martin Munoz’s weapon lead the charge.  With its funky and sassy crawl- a snake-like slither that has plenty of teeth- you get hooked into that swirling and teasing line that is like a bomb floating through the sky- not exploding but menacing in its presence and potential.  That explosion arrives soon after:  The band unleashes some kick-ass and lightning licks that scratch, explode and endeavor.  The beginning- of the riffs that is- have that scratchiness and composure.  Never bursting and losing control- instead, they keep things tense and under-the-surface.  When our lead comes in; the lyrics have some obliqueness and open-for-interpretation mystery.  When looking up and down; side to side and all around- time is being taken and annoyance comes through in the voice.  As our heroine looks around; everybody is going to “take your time”.  Whilst getting things wrong- not sure if it is reference to something musical or romantic- you start to wonder what is being referenced.  The band repeats lyrics as mantras in the song.  The ideas of getting in line and taking your time are reintroduced time again.  Amazed by the band’s bond and passion- they have a knack when it comes to stunning compositions- I was trying to get to the bottom of those lyrics.

Sounding completely struck and involved; our heroine ensures every word hits the mark and speaks to the listen.  In those early exchanges, you start to piece things together and discover some truth and insight.  Telling people to get in line- whether music contemporaries; friends or perhaps people in general- there is emotion and revelation unfolding.  The true nature of the song is something I am not sure- may have to hear from the band on this one- but I get impressions of a woman who is struggling against the pressures of the modern world and expectations.  Perhaps it is a general statement of discontent and something political coming through.  Maybe being a young woman in a young band- and having struggled to get true recognition- it is a campaign against the political scene.  Maybe there are odd expectations in music- Aperture are not getting recognition they deserve- with everyone expecting something different.  Maybe there remains a simpler romantic unhappiness or stresses of life starting to surface.  Whatever the origins; you get involved in a performance with heart and sheer passion.  Before any more words are revealed, the band unleashes some catchy and spirited riffs- crossing Artic Monkeys with Siouxsie & the Banshees- with the entire band sounding tight and together.  That determination and simplicity rule throughout a song that is direct and economical.  There are few lyrics overall- a set of a few lines repeated throughout- whereas the composition is muscular, disciplined and concentrated.  Our heroine’s lead has plenty of life and diversity to it- at once spiked; the next breathless and pissed-off.  By having those core themes and lines; the listener cannot help but remember the song and find yourself singing along.  Imploring people to “move along”; there is a mix of confidence and mystery to the words.  Gaining pace and power as the song progresses; the band get heavier and more intense into the final moments.  The vocal quickens and that determination becomes more pronounced.  A song that could find itself played across national radio- it is not an inferior example of the type of music popularised at the moment- you wouldn’t bet against the Edinburgh quartet making big strides over the coming months.  By the end of Get in Line, I was compelled to listen again and discover new depths and insights.  That insatiable and deep performance- the vocal especially stands out- and catchy composition ensures repeated investigation.  More intent and confident than they ever have:  The band is on a trajectory that few others boast at the moment.

Congratulations must be leveled at a young group that has found inspiration and a very defined sound.  They have recollections of ‘80s Punk and some of their idols.  The band goes deeper and is more distinct than most on out there.  Loving their earliest songs- but finding them not getting the most from the group- I am pleased to hear a track that highlights the strengths and merits of Aperture.  The Scottish band leave the listener guessing throughout Get in Line.  Everyone will have their own ideas and meaning when they hear the song.  Not revealing any truths or direct insights; it is down to you to arrive at conclusions.  Lisa McGlynn’s lead voice perfectly brings passion and power to a song that forces its way through the speakers.  Forceful and intense- yet never overpowering and harsh- you have soulfulness and heart inside a voice that is enamoured of music’s legends.  Little embers of Punk mistresses and Rock masters come through in a performance with grit and determination.  Equally determined is the percussion of Lachlan McIntosh that boasts power, leadership and vitality at every stage.  Giving the song its heartbeat and punch; it is a performance that showcases him as one of the most consistent drummers on the block.  Tom Galbraith’s guitar work is busy and innovative throughout.  At once blood-letting and gurgling; the next spiky and scathed- it has so many layers and ideas.  Ensuring the lyrics are given perfect sonic representation:  It is a performance that has depth and power in spades.  An impressive and accomplished turn from a guitarist who is crucial to Aperture’s success.  Martin Munoz’s bass leads the song and shows what a talent he is.  Ensuring Get in Line begins with intrigue and panache; it is an instrument that brings all the components together and keeps the song disciplined and defined.  Melody, rhythm and personality come through in the bass that keeps on plugging and fascinating to the very end.


I have been checking Aperture’s Facebook timeline to see just where 2016 is going to take them.  The band have been hitting the campaign trail and promoting Get in Line heavily.  It is a song that has resonated hugely with critics and the public.  There is just something about the band performance and spirit that has awed and inspired.  The group unleashed the E.P. Get in Line last year.  That four-track release showed how intent and intense the band are/were.  Whilst the band are unsigned- an oversite that should be overturned soon enough- they certainly have momentum and impetus.  It is always hard and fraught making proclamations- with regards a band’s shelf-life and longevity- but I always feel confident when making such predictions.  Aperture have a defined and original sound that has enough familiarity to it to appeal to a wide range of listeners.  Bringing in hints of familiar acts- PJ Harvey to Yeah Yeah Yeahs- the Edinburgh alliance has plenty of unique insight and direction to stick in the mind.  While Get in Line has intensity and force to it:  There is enough dance and uplift to be discovered, too.  Whether the group has any immediate plans for a new E.P. – or will be touring for a while yet- it is hard to say.  From looking at Facebook; it seems the group are heavily promoting Get in Line and seeing how far they can get the song/E.P.  The band plays Stramash on February 24th and will be deciding what to do after that.  Following the acclaim the E.P. Get in Line received- and how much credit is still accruing- I can see the guys getting into the studio and giving us another E.P.  Until that time- and whatever they have in mind- it is great discovering a hungry young band that is working tirelessly.  Deserving of more than hometown appeal- they could gig down in London and find venues- I hope one day to see the band in the flesh.  Before concluding, it is worth coming back to the Edinburgh band market; Punk and Rock sounds; the importance of fostering ‘real’ music.  Whilst I have waxed lyrical about Glasgow over the past few weeks- when featuring some wonderful acts from the city- it is Edinburgh that comes to my focus today.  The city has hardly been idle when it comes to producing awesome bands.  If the likes of Young Fathers- a Mercury Prize-winning band whose album White Men Are Black Men Too is a staggering feat- proved anything is how much versatility and passion lies within the city.  I find there is a lot of diversity in Edinburgh bands- mixed races and genders rather than the predictable homogeneous- that leads to richer and more nuanced music.  Aside from Young Fathers, there a swathe of eager bands putting the Scottish capital on the musical map.  Great bands are great bands- regardless of which city they hail from- but I love looking at particular areas.  I am not sure what it is about Scotland that results in such consistency, quality and power.  It is a theory and question that will have to wait for another day, alas.

Bands that offer range and width- a point I have raised before- are always going to be more successful and lauded than those who lack imagination.  Too many lifeless and narrow bands play- finding long-term success hard to come by- whereas Aperture mix genres into their music.  It is not just Punk-Rock/Alternative hybrids, here.  There is Dance and New Wave to be discovered when you dig down.  Despite the varied and multifarious mixtures; there is consistency, focus and plenty of direction.  The original and nuanced music has already seduced critics and has seen the four-piece gain confidence and insensitive.  Where this takes them is down to them alone.  Let’s hope the guys make plans for the rest of the year and get their music to as many people as they can.  I shall leave things on a semi-sombre note.  Whilst I have mentioned Viola Beach- and the harsh circumstances that have brought their music to focus- it seems like a lot of great bands are being lost.  Not by death you see, but just calling it time and finding the pressure too much.  Among those who leave us; I am finding so much wonderful music being lost.  I am always stunned by the rise and prominence of musicians that have no quality or individuality to them.  It seems some fans are going out their way to promulgate and proffer the worst music has to offer.  Those with genuine innovation and ability have to fight harder and longer.  With the death- or temporary hiatus at least- of X Factor; it seems like there is a shift away from manufactured and committee-selected artists and towards those doing things honestly.  My lasting hope is that talent shows and plastic Pop stars are vanquished very soon.  The ruination and endless stink of music; they are taking time, attention and acclaim away from artists who are real and relatable.  Aperture have a long way to go- and will battle hard to get into the public focus- but are making big strides already.  Get in Line is a song that signals their intentions and lodges deeply in the brain.  Here’s to a successful and prosperous year for…

A band with a lot more to say.



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TRACK REVIEW: The State of Georgia- No Man’s Land



The State of Georgia



No Man’s Land



No Man’s Land is available at:

January, 2016



Leeds, U.K.


BREAKING away from bands and male artists at the moment…

it is good to be back with a solo artist who is back with a new track.  Before I get to The State of Georgia- and the album Roses & Swallows– I am looking at female solo artists and those coming through; the variation available within Pop- finishing by looking at how musicians are finding their ambitions and dreams.  I have talked a lot about female solo artists and the variable quality you can find at the moment.  It is interesting looking at the mainstream artists coming through and seeing which ones are going to go the distance.  I have previously highlighted Elle King- a new U.S. singer-songwriter who fuses Country, Rock and Soul- and how she seems to be leading quite a charge.  Her music has that effectiveness and directness- especially the single Ex’s & Oh’s– and the way she fuses multiple genres into something unique and personal.  End-of-year polls (released last year) touted a few examples that could be making waves across 2016.  Everyone from Izzy Bizu and Alessia Cara has been tipped for greatness this year:  Hardly surprising given the way they have exploded onto the scene.  Perhaps a lot of media sources are focusing on the bands and what they can achieve- they tend to overlook some wonderful solo talent.  I am always fascinated to see which lone stars are going to shine and the most worthy in music.  I still maintain the fact female solo artists are more adventurous and stunning than the male examples.  It is not reverse-sexism or anything cynical:  I find the guys are lacking necessary spark and adventurousness in their sounds.  You never know what music is going to give you and who will emerge:  That surprise and unpredictability can lead to some major revelations.  Nobody can deny there are some terrific young bands emerging in music right now.  They get a lot of attention and acclaim- the festival headliners that will always be a huge draw- but those solo acts have to fight harder to be heard and have a more challenging life.  Too many sound-alike, characteristically dull acts are playing which makes the job (deciphering which is best) so much more difficult.  The girls of music- most of them anyway- are making big strides with some tremendously passionate acts showing their stuff.  Before I continue onto new points, it is worth mentioning Leeds-based The State of Georgia.  Like some of the mainstream’s hottest up-comers- Elle King being among them- The State of Georgia deftly blends genres together to create something accessible yet personal.  I have been a fan of hers (Georgina Jakubiak is the face behind the name) and have been following her plight.  There are a great many ambitious and wonderful solo acts performing:  The State of Georgia is among them and continues to grow and develop as a musician.  With the album Roses & Swallows coming up; it is time to embrace those talents that go further and put more depth into their music.  I understand people want something quick and easily digestible- music that just hits you without necessarily leaving an impression.  There are too many mainstream artists that simply turn up and seem to put such little effort into the music.  From Dance acts who are Auto-tuned to the hill- and sound robotic and sterile- through to some of Pop’s most lipid- such a depressing state of affairs at the moment.  I am not suggesting music is in decline- and that we are seeing a huge dip in quality- I am just tired of so many poor and under-achieving musicians come through and do nothing about it.  Too many are getting away with doing the bare minimum and it is really annoying.  The State of Georgia’s heroine is someone who puts effort and time into her songs to ensure they are special and nuanced.  Not another of the turn-up-and-lazily-toss-something-together crowd; a talent that understands how important it is to put passion and grit into the mix.  No Man’s Land is another step forward from a young musician that is completely in love with music.  You can tell how much it (music) means to her and what effort has been expended.  It has not been an easy ride for The State of Georgia and getting where she is now.  One of the reason Roses & Swallows has come to light is the support and backing of her fan-base.  Having found funding through Kickstarter it has raised an interesting point.

Music is an alluring mistress that demands a lot of dedication, drive, originality and… well, money.  It seems anything that appeals and drives humanity- when it comes to passions and dreams- involves a certain capital outlay.  I have been planning ideas and goals myself- a music café in London and radio station- and it is mind-boggling the amount of money needed to get things kick-started.  Musicians have a particularly tough time when it comes to finding the pennies.  When you have that talent and zeal- yet know the financial implications associated- it can be infuriating trying to get funding and support.  The State of Georgia’s forthcoming album has gained public support already:  The fans across social media have donated and backed the project; ensuring it got to the studio and will reach us.  Sites like Kickstarter have their detractors- who claim musicians are not doing things honestly: They should be funding their own music- but they are invaluable and a useful tool for musicians.  If it were not for the crowd-funding sites we would be denied a lot of terrific music.  I am glad the fans have stepped up to the plate and shown faith in an artist that is on the rise.  Having evolved and galvanised as a musician- each new release sees steps forward and new vision- it will be exciting to see The State of Georgia’s new album gain airplay, feedback and respect.  No Man’s Land is an insight into the new sounds and sees the Leeds-based artist in fine form.  Not many musicians are capable of longevity, consistency and originality:  For that reason, The State of Georgia should be congratulated and encouraged.  Using Pop as a starting block; she unites elements of Rock and Alternative into the pot- the result is a heady and seductive sound that has struck the public ear.  I hope she comes play London and the south as the year ticks on- people down here would love to come see her- and it will be exciting to see what is in store.

No Man’s land is The State of Georgia’s latest track and shows huge promise and quality.  From the album Synesthesia– released a few years ago- to this moment, there has been evolution and development from our heroine.  Concentrating on a few tracks- Arm, The Beast and Stay Awake– you can see definite change and mutations.

  Arm is a track that boasts some immediate and stunning vocals- crystal-clear and direct- around a swirling electronic soundtrack.  The strings rise and rouse; the piano lightly plinks and seduces.  With those influences of Kate Bush and Tori Amos combining; we have a number that looks at troubles and doubts.  Our heroine is usually “so strong” but cannot get through today.  Perhaps a partner or lover has been disappointing and insincere.  That bond and passion have faced a challenge and reduced to photos “in the bottom of my bag”.  Arm hooks you with that beautiful vocal and composition; the lyrics show some emotional vulnerability and strength-against-the-tide.  A number that stands up to repeated assaults- a song that never seems to lose any of its appeal- it was a confident and impressive track from The State of Georgia.

   The Beast was released a year ago and carries on from Arm.  The two tracks share D.N.A. yet The Beast shows new inspiration and light.  Those haunting and spirited strings are all here and present:  Making sure the song has grandeur and passion; they combine with spiked and exhilarating electronics.  Harder and more forceful than Arm; you get a dizzying array of strings, electronics and beats.  The song has a quiet-loud dynamic that is centred around a committed and beautiful vocal.  Our heroine asks “Will you love me when the sky is grey?” and you have another track that looks at commitment and love.  The beast inside our lead can be vanquished by devotion and faith- her man standing by her and easing the burdens.  Warning not to “let it out”- the beast inside her- you have a Jekyll and Hyde switch.  When flying and posing questions; the vocal is light and tender.  When the images of beasts and emotions are unleashed you get a more direct and assaulting charge.

Given the quality and consistency; it is no surprise Stay Awake is a gem.  The song perhaps strays away from orchestral territory- the vocal is sharper and more concentrated; the composition straighter and tighter- and shows another dimension to The State of Georgia.  The track’s themes are more positive and redemptive.  Our heroine saw a face and “time stood still” with the rest of the world falling away.  Rushing and Disco-inspired beats create funkiness and a driving song that gets the feet tapping.  Alive, alert and pulsating:  Stay Awake is a song that has that mainstream appeal whilst retaining its huge credibility and uniqueness.  The swirling electronics recall legends of the ‘80s- Prince and Michael Jackson stand out- and has a very modern sensibility.  Our heroine stays awake just to ensure (her subject) will be okay.  A song that shows heart, tenderness and thoughtfulness:  It appeals for so many reasons and has tremendous nuance.  You find yourself revisiting the song to get inside that effusive and hypnotic composition; the tight and punchy beats- everything comes together superbly.

The development and change between tracks- a natural progression and range- show different sides to an artist that keeps on getting better and more confident.  No Man’s Land recalls some of the early-days sounds and some more recent efforts.  What you get is a song that will be familiar to established fans- there is no big departure or about-face- but will hook new listeners in with its directness and layers.

Beginning with a haunting piano; our heroine looks at a figure “in no man’s land”.  Crossing Florence and the Machine with Tori Amos; you have early moments that mix low-pitched seriousness with beautiful multi-tracked voices.  The instantaneousness of the song cannot be overlooked:  Instantly you are hooked in and invested in the story.  The song looks at this heroine being in a bad place having has her friend taken away.  The State of Georgia questions God and why so much is thrown at one person- the unfairness and casual cruelty that has befallen a great human.  I sense the song is inspired by real-life events- something so particular and unique cannot be fictional in my mind- and it will be interesting to hear the origins of the song.  Clearly, a friend has been affected and dented by the capriciousness of life.  Whatever the circumstances behind tragedy and the unhappiness- illness or accident; whatever the reasons- you have a song that gets inside the heart and evokes response instantly.  Keeping the composition reverent and respectful- it is a dignified and emotive coda that backs the lyrics- few listeners will be unaffected by those early exchanges and emotions pouring out.  The song’s heroine is falling from a great height- any cushion that is placed beneath her will not make any difference- and you get a real sense of harrow and sadness emerge.  I have mentioned Tori Amos and Florence Welch early on.  The former is an idol (of Jakubiak) and her piano-and-voice combination puts me in mind of Amos’ best work.  The soulfulness and bare compositions (we see on No Man’s Land) have tonal comparisons with Little Earthquakes– the U.S. legend’s 1992 debut album.  The State of Georgia possesses a similarly striking mix of soul-bearing and directness.  Whereas Little Earthquakes was a personal album- that looked at Amos’ struggles and issues- we have a song that is no less personal and affecting.  With its sound in the early-‘90s; that voice brings in recollections of Florence Welch and her striking tongue.  Away from comparisons and other artists you have a musician with a unique direction and sound- one who recalls legends and great singers without utilising them too heavily.

No Man’s Land continues its quest and reveals new insight.  Few artists speak to God and address religious matters in music- being an atheist I hardly go out my way to find God in music- but it is rewarding finding an artist that does not simply do what everyone else is doing.  Our lead looks to the skies and asks why a divine creator would allow such tragedy to befall a person.  That struggle-against-faith- that questions whether God could exist given the cruelty that plagues the world- shines through in a song that seems like a confession or exultation.  With soul bared and the emotions crying out; the funereal/majestic piano- that has shades of Radiohead’s Amnesiac– perfectly scores lyrics that pose questions that need answering- the fact is; they will not be answered.  Our heroine looks up but gets no reply or sound:  She is trying to discover justice or insight but is received with silence and emptiness.  It is clear a lot of effort and time has been invested in the song.  The vocal has that gorgeous mix of Amos, Welch- with Jakubaik’s unique style- whilst the composition flourishes, dives and seduced.  The piano is hugely impressive and produces a wealth of emotions and ideas.  With the chorus reinforcing the pertinent questions- why would a loving deity not protect a good soul- you have a song that transcends religious boundaries and has a universality and intelligence.  We have all been in that situation where a friend or loved-one has been taken from us or experienced huge hardships.  It never seems just or right that life is so indiscriminate and callous.  When good people are dealt a bum hand, we always go looking for answers and explanation.  Our heroine has been scarred by this tragedy and cannot make sense of this fact:  The chorus reinforces that desperation and anger felt.  This is a very human track that does not selfishly concentrate on love- the over-worn sentiments that so many songwriters favour- and looks at something troubling and unfair.  The song’s subject has lost a friend- curious whether Jakubiak is using herself as the central figure; having lost a friend- and you get a noticeable rise into the second half.  The chorus gets more intense and that vocal is layered to create something gospel-like and explosive.  Following that, the piano becomes more brooding and impassioned; the percussion slams and the intensity grow.  Swirling around enraptured and crying-out vocals; the composition matches that fever-pitch emotion to create enormous force and atmosphere.  No listener will be able to ignore the song’s crashing waves and hurricane magnitude.  Allowing emotions to reach their height- as no answers have been provided still- you get caught off guard by that rise and build.  The vocals are especially impressive- they mix inside one another and create something transcend- whilst that piano builds and builds.  Such a busy and layered song- elements of ‘80s Pop with modern-day Indie; Amos et al into the agenda- and you have to go back to the song to get to grips with things fully.  It is clear a woman has had her life torn apart; whoever that is I am not sure.  I keep thinking of Jakubiak speaking in the third-person:  A direct friend of hers has been scarred and this is her response to such unfair and harsh circumstances.  Whatever the true origins of No Man’s Land; it is a song that epitomises the diversity and quality in music.

Whether the track will lead-off Swallows & Roses– or will be further down the running order- it is going to be wonderful to hear the rest of the album.  If this is a taster of what we can expect then we are in for a huge treat.  Few artists have such a way with words as Jakubiak.  Addressing something personal and harrowing can be difficult to translate into music that will appeal to the masses.  Compelled by her heroines and heroes- Tori Amos seems the most relevant name to bring in again- you get a song that is the result of intense work and passion.  Each element and component works with one another and drives the song forward.  Lee Smith provides guitar, bass and drum and makes a huge contribution to the song.  Partnering with Jakubiak; the duo seamlessly blends and augment the other.  The intuition and kinship between the players result in a composition that has such depth, imagination and spark.  From haunted and tender piano to fizzing and explosive percussion:  This is a song/sound that more musicians should be doing.  Lee and Jamie Lockhart recorded and produced the song and have done a great job.  They have not changed The State of Georgia’s sound and allowed her to provide personality and her own voice, unfettered.  Were they to come in and change everything- make her sound like every other artist- you would be disappointed with the song.  Understanding how good and intuitive she is; they have simply added polish and guidance to ensure No Man’s Land is the best it can be.  What you have here is a song with resonance, nuance and startling breadth.  It is no minor compliment to say this song could rival the best from Little Earthquakes– and the brilliance Tori Amos shows across that record.  An accomplished and wonderful work from one of our brightest and best artists.

Since her earliest recordings, I have been a fan of The State of Georgia and the terrific music.  Jakubiak is blossoming as an artist and seems to become more confident and assured as time goes on.  Roses & Swallows is an album that will see her pick up new fans and fresh venues call on her.  It will be great seeing just where she plays and what feedback will be gained.  No Man’s Land is a typically special and memorable from one Yorkshire’s finest artists.  There is a lot of competition and variety in music, so standing out is always a huge challenge.  As I stated up top; it is not just good enough turning up and throwing something out to the world.  There are those musicians that do not understand how important it is to be original and differ yourself.  From Pop’s tired and predictable clan- I shall mention no names but we all know the type- to the anodyne and robotic Dance tracks- there is an alarming amount of horrendous music blighting the landscape.  The bands and their music- the all-male variety is particularly popular- have the ear and eye of the music press and are a necessary force.  Even in the band arena, there are too many examples of musicians that just want to sound like someone else.  Those acts that are tipped for big things- appearing on polls and radio stations- go the extra mile and recognise the need to get inside the brain and elicit fresh emotions.  Too often I hear music and a new artist come through and find myself tired and unaffected.  The song(s) will not stay in the mind and there is a definite lack of nuance and repeatability.  The most affecting and memorable tracks I have heard in the last few months have been from (predominantly) female solo artists.  Whether it is an arresting voice or stylish blend of genres:  The girls of music are showing more courage and intelligence than their male peers.  Whether this imbalance corrects itself this year- there are a few cool male acts that could steal focus- I am delighted to discover The State of Georgia in splendid voice.  One of those musicians that will get to the mainstream eventually- she has hometown support and a solid fan-base around the U.K. – No Man’s Land is a stunning track.  Make sure you take time out to listen to it- and check the music video out too- and see one of our most exciting artists do her thing.  Roses & Swallows is the result of hard work and a lot of graft.  The fans have got behind The State of Georgia and shown faith and love for a musician that improves and reveals fresh insight with every release.  Before closing this, it is worth coming back to the variety of solo artists available; a bit about Yorkshire- where The State if Georgia will be headed.

I have alluded to some terrific young solo acts coming through:  It seems we could see a lot of stunning moments emerge in 2016 and some long-term stars emerge.  I love the likes of Billie Marten and Alessia Cara and what they are doing:  Two solo artists with very different sounds but immense promise.  Away from the mainstream-tipped artists, there’s a wealth of prosperous musicians coming in under-the-radar.  Perhaps the one-dimensional and simplistic artists have their market and necessity- they seem to resonate with a certain core- but I will never embrace what they do.  It is those that go deeper and put more thought into music that will always win me over.  I understand how many acts are playing right now- and how hard it is to be distinct- but it does not take a monumental effort to be original whilst being inspired by other acts.  I feel too many musicians are going for easy recognition and cheap acclaim.  Those daring enough to take the time to forge something original are those that will obtain longevity and respect.  The State of Georgia- with the help of musicians and producers- is an act that puts so much heart and passion into her music- hardly surprising her fan numbers are growing.  Ensuring her Pop-based songs do not come across too familiar and run-of-the-mill; other genres and ideas are blended around a singular and impressive voice.  No Man’s Land is a teasing and tender insight into what Swallows & Roses will provide.  Romance and introspection will sit alongside personal revelations and uplifting moments.  Influenced by everyone from Kate Bush and Tori Amos- two of music’s most innovative artists- you get little hints of each inside Jakubiak’s captivating tones.  When the official video arrives for No Man’s Land– in the next couple of days- make sure you have a watch and see the visuals behind the music.  Dive into a song that sees one of our brightest stars progress and shines without hindrance.  Yorkshire keeps its reputation ablaze- for producing wonderful artists- and it is a county that always amazes me.  The diversity and quality is only matched by consistency and originality.  Perhaps it is the landscape or the communities there; maybe the support musicians give to one another- whatever it is, more people should look to Yorkshire for guidance.  Congratulations to The State of Georgia on the progress that has been made.  Clearly the fans and followers have faith in the music and this has resulted in an album that will please existing supporters and bring in fresh ears.  I cannot wait to see where Georgina Jakubiak goes and where the music takes her- perhaps international gigs or some spots in the capital.  Whatever comes around, two things can be guaranteed:  The crowds will adore the new music and…

THE young artist will continue to amaze.



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