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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TRACK REVIEW: Cold Summer- A Time Imagination Forgot to Inspire



Cold Summer



A Time Imagination Forgot to Inspire





February 19th



Leeds, U.K.


THERE are some mixed emotions hanging in the balance at the moment…

With Valentine’s Day here- in itself a mixed affair that is divisive to the extreme- I am hearing some sad news in the music world.  In addition to great bands calling it time- it is always heartbreaking to hear that- Viola Beach (a very talented ban primed for the big time) were involved in a serious accident- unfortunately all their members lost their lives.  It seems like an odd/harrowing subject to raise in a review:  It just goes to show how unpredictable and unfair music/life can be.  My actual point is- taking it away from the realms of the morbid- is highlighting great bands and how we should cherish them.  Aside from the ill-fated and upset surrounding Viola Beach; they were one of the last new bands that really excited me.  The Warrington-based lads set ablaze venues and fans with their kinship and tightness:  Musicians that enthralled people with ease and left huge smiles on faces.  While their music and legacy will remain- let’s do our best to spread their magic- it has made me appreciate music more and not taking so much for granted.  I have been on a downer when it comes to bands- and how variable the quality can be- there are some phenomenal young artists emerging.  Whilst I have grown a little fatigued of Alternative/Indie bands- too many acts blurring into one- there are those on the fringes that are impressing and originating.  It is brilliant to discover a young act with so much potential and verve to them.  Before I come to my featured act- and what they are all about- it is worth mentioning young bands playing at the moment; the genre of Post-Hardcore- completing with a word about changing the face of mainstream music.  It is always exciting discovering a young band that is just starting out and on the precipice of something great.  Music is such a challenging and unpredictable mistress when you think about it:  So many terrific bands can fail whilst lesser examples flourish and prosper.  I feel there is perhaps too much reliance on finding a particular type of band.  There is very little chance for the more original and diverse bands to get a chance to shine in mainstream festivals.  With the likes of Foo Fighters, U2 and Coldplay hogging the limelight- you can predict Glastonbury’s lineup before it’s even announced- I feel like a shake-up needs to occur.  The solo artists of music are gaining kudos from reputable, mainstream sources- such as B.B.C. – and it seems like a lot of bands are being overlooked right now.  Maybe there is a trend towards solo acts and a push away from bands.  I have heard a lot of people bandy about phrases such as “Rock is dead” and “Bands are getting worse these days”:  There seems to be a feeling the edge and originality is seeping out of the band market.  If you go away from the mainstream acts- and those that are pushed in our faces- the skepticism will be removed and you will find a lot of quality.  The small venues and lesser-known radio stations are doing their utmost to ensure the smaller bands are getting spotlight- and the attention they richly deserve.  Before I continue to new points, let me introduce Cold Summer to you:

Dan Feast – Vocals
Chris Harrison – Guitar
Chris Hepworth – Bass Guitar
Justin Eastwood – Drums

Collectively, Cold Summer are an energetic post-hardcore 5-piece from Wakefield / Leeds, writing experimental melodic rock with a twist that is developed through a wide range of influences between them.
The end result being music which portrays a bitter sweet ambience with angst and raw passion from their punk and hardcore roots.
Formed in late 2011 the band have seen their releases (despite being ‘under the radar’) meet critical acclaim, following the self release of two EP’s, ‘Transitions’ and ‘Wake’ during 2012 and their ‘Self Titled’ album in July 2013.
In addition to this band self booked a tour back in January 2014 to promote the album release as well as heading out in support of He Is Legend on their UK tour in October 2014.
The bands strong DIY ethic has been reflected in their relentless show & recording output. These contributing factors has resulted in a large and growing fan base across the North Of England, as a result of playing shows alongside well respected yet diverse bands such as: Funeral For A Friend, Polar, He Is Legend, Self Defense Family, Lemuria, Milk Teeth, Brawlers, Grieved & Employed To Serve
The band have completed recording of their follow up release with producer Mike Bennett (Empires Fade, The Eyes Of A Traitor, The Ocean Between Us) which is set for release early in 2016

Hardcore and Post-Hardcore are genres (and sub-genre) that you do not hear a lot of in the mainstream.  Aside from particular radio shows- Daniel P. Carter’s Sunday show on B.B.C. Radio 1- you do not get a chance to hear the best Hardcore has to offer.  I feel a lot of people have that same image in their mind:  Hardcore/Post-Hardcore bands will be all screaming and no musicality.  If you cast aside the clichés and preconceptions there are plenty of acts that subvert expectations and can really amaze.  Sure, there are bands that are very in-your-face and bellicose.  Most of the Post-Hardcore bands emerging have necessary nuance, subtlety and accessibility to them.  If you look at the best Post-Hardcore bands around- from Silverstein and Of Mice and Men; to Sleeping with Sirens to Pierce the Veil- you have a rich variety of examples.  Aside from the fact (the aforementioned peeps) are male-driven- I would like to see more female Post-Hardcore bands get equality and fair measure- there is a sea change in terms of lyrics and themes.  While a lot of Post-Hardcore bands hail from the U.S. (Florida seems to be a hotspot) there are some great British examples emerging.  Cold Summer are among a wave of hungry young bands that are setting the music scene alight.  Post-Hardcore is embracing more positive themes and uplifting ideals.  Many people assume- when it comes to Hardcore music- there will be a lot of negativity, isolation and anger.  That may be the case with some bands- these are themes that are embraced by many bands- many Post-Hardcore bands are mixing heavier compositions with redemptive and thought-provoking lyrical themes.  With Funeral for a Friend calling time- one of the better British Post-Hardcore bands- it is to the new crop for guidance and inspiration.  Cold Summer are a band that hail from Yorkshire- a county not exactly shy when it comes to terrific music- and have the potential to transcend borders and limitations.  I am getting a little tired of some of the ‘mainstream’ acts coming out right now.  Whilst there are some innovative and layered bands showcasing- those unsigned blazers that have much more clout to them- there are still too many weak, vanilla bands being heralded.  I am not saying only the loudest/most direct should succeed:  There is too much patronage of weak and overly-predictable bands, alas.  The festivals and big boys- Reading and Leeds, Glastonbury etc. – are not helping the matter.  The mainstream’s most tired/ineffectual bands get top billing; bands that have much more spark to them are further down the bill- appearing on smaller stages whilst gaining much greater plaudit.  It would be great to see bands like Cold Summer giving earlier exposure and the chance to share the big stage with some legendary names.  I know there are festivals (niche but well-attended) that showcase Post-Hardcore/Hardcore bands; it would be nice to see better integration and diversity at the largest festivals- providing music with greater richness and quality.

If you are a newbie to Cold Summer- I must confess, I was until a week ago- you might be wondering who influenced the Yorkshire clan.  The below list (sourced from their Facebook page) gives a good- if rather verbose and expansive- list of influential artists.  Showing depth, variation and quality:  If you appreciate any of the below, you will find relatable strands within Cold Summer:

Brand New, Thrice, Letlive, Night Verses, Deftones, Architects, Gallows, Queens Of The Stone Age, Cave In, Soundgarden, Poison The Well, Jeff Buckley, Sunny Day Real Estate, Glassjaw, A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, Converge, Foo Fighters, Husker Du, Tool, Quicksand, Texas Is The Reason, Vaux, Filter, ….And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Russian Circles, Blindside, Rise Against, Norma Jean, Boysetsfire, Alexisonfire, Self Defense Family, La Dispute, Touche Amore, Thursday, Defeater, Deafheaven, Funeral For A Friend, Drug Church, These Arms Are Snakes

A Time Imagination Forgot to Inspire is the latest revelation from a band that has enjoyed a steady rise.  The band has been playing for several years and seems to get stronger and more confident by the year.  Back in 2012, Wake was release to the public- a five-track E.P. that mixed Punk and Hardcore into one.  Waiting opens proceedings with twanging bass and militarism percussion fire.  Ramping up the tension, the band unites in a furious and atmospheric introduction- one that has ‘epic’ all over it.  Recalling elements of Muse and Guns N’ Roses, our lead looks at “crooked roads” and meeting people that are not the same.  Showing some impressive vocal chops- stunning when wracked and pained; passionate and soothing when letting that voice dip- you have a song that shows intentions and huge promise.  A is for Arson packs more meaty riffs and Muse-esque riffs that leads to one of the most fast-paced and urgent tracks.  That need to change and rebel- the double-edged sword of truth and deceit- in an accessible anthem that packs a great wallop.  It is interesting to see some very modern edges- Royal Blood seem to have inadvertently replicated some of Cold Summer’s sound- in songs that sound ageless and ever-relevant.

From their impressive debut; the band expanded their sound on 2013’s Self Titled.  While their debut wore some influence on its sleeve- from Funeral for a Friend and Muse; through to Green Day and Queens of the Stone Age- there is more originality on their sophomore effort.  The debut melted Queens of the Stone Age’s Desert Rock riffs with some Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) vocals- in a vacuum of Punk/Hardcore seduction.  Self Titled included some new tracks- alongside demos and alternative versions of debut-era cuts- that show the progression they made.  The Fallen boasts their most head-smashing percussion; wonderfully direct and savage vocals- compositions with more nuance and variety.  Bringing in political themes and motivation- that need to get your voice heard and fight- come out brightly.  Allowing more melodic/accessible sounds to sit with devil attack:  You have an E.P. that reaches its net further and allows those unfamiliar to Post-Hardcore to come in.  Ships contains some calm among the storm.  Its stop-start dynamic- some calmer strings punctuated by rapturous bursts- sees ships coming to the shore.  Loneliness and self-examination are chronicled in a song that sees Cold Summer unveil one of their most accomplished track.

I have heard Cold Summer’s forthcoming E.P., Fight to Survive– one of those smug media types that have rare privilege- and love what I hear.  The band is more honed, original and ambitious here.  The vocals are less Armstrong-esque and have come along over the past couple of years.  The sharp and volume-esque highs are more potent- cutting to the bone like a saw- with new melody and passion brought into the mix.  The band is tighter and have gained more discipline and sharpness through touring.  The E.P. is a six-track release that shows huge nuance and economy.  Coins Fall (But Don’t Make It) has an insane introduction that can blow any speaker off its goddamn stand!  The lead vocal has those shades of Billie Joe Armstrong/his peers but less reliant on U.S. influence.  Whilst some lyrics get squashed in the mosh- less decipherable than you’d like- there is enough clarity and intelligibility to be found.  Coins drop and wishes are attached to them.  The song could be related to governments not fulfilling the wishes of the voters; the evilness and corruption that lingers perhaps.  Car Crash (in Progress) is an opener that shows the verve and attack that is lacking in a lot of modern acts.  High emotions can be found in a song that looks at jealousy and greed.  No good intentions pervade:  We need to cast aside the self-obsessed age and make a better world.  The song mixes the snatches of vitriol- those Hardcore slams- with calm and more reflective phases.  A catchy and insatiable composition- if will get every part of the body moving- it shows the band has lost none of their quality and potential.  Something, Nothing, No-one ends the E.P. on a natural and stunning high.  Political attacks and dissatisfaction is all here and present:  Our boys are fired and compelled by the inequity and stupidity that can be found among society.  Such leaps have been made in a short amount of time- a band that gets stronger as they go.  Make sure you get Fight to Survive when it is released and hear a group that is hitting their stride.  A band that is sure to have festival bragging rights in months to come.

A Time Imagination Forgot to Inspire (a cool title that already gets the mind working) sits lower down Fight to Survive– it remains (for me) the key cut from Cold Summer’s latest E.P.  I hear a little of Slash’s (Guns N’ Roses) slash-and-burn pyrotechnics in the early moments of A Time’- I half expected the song to go into Appetite for Destruction territory for a moment!  Fans of the band will find much to love in the sapling moments of the song; there are new threads that will surprise some listeners too.  Right from the off, the listener is braced to attention and you know the band means business.  No slow-build or anything kitten-like:  The composition has such intensity that soon leads to a vocal packed with direction and conviction.  The early exchanges and ideas- “There’s a question burning through my head”- regarding the death of imagination split my interpretations between political dissatisfaction and something more personal.  On the one hand, here is a band who have always been concerned with justice and equality:  Their songs look at political imbalance and corruption that stinks society up.  The earliest words got me thinking about those themes:  The Conservative government are not speaking for the U.K.; U.S. politicians and their ills etc.  We all congratulate and praise- again, maybe leveled at elected politicians- but no difference can be seen.  On the other hand, perhaps there is a little shout-out to musicians and their lack of innovation.  We celebrate and champion artists all the time:  How often do these musicians provide anything new and wonderful when you think about it?  That open-for-speculation start got me thinking and I was fully invested in the song.  Enthralled by the band’s committed and disciplined performance- it does not explode or wander at all- those duel theories keep playing and poking.  Our man is “not seeing a change”- his country suffers the same problems; maybe musicians do not expand the mind- and you can tell just how meaningful those words are.  The dissatisfaction and annoyance is palpable in a vocal that threatens to explode in anger- harrowed and wound-up by realisations and hard truths.  Fans of Cold Summer will find familiarity in the song- there are still those Punk vocals and similar compositional dynamics- whilst the themes of politics and imbalance find new meaning and force here (they are stronger and more galvanised than on previous releases).  With bands like Funeral for a Friend dissipated- other Hardcore band starting to feel pressure- it is encouraging to see an eager young band with no intentions of submission or slowing.  Books sit on tables- with pages “torn away”- and you get a real insight into a band that likes to do things differently.  Whilst there are some strands of Green Day’s American Idiot– a British version perhaps- the lyrics still leave me guessing as to their true nature.  The band has certainly upped the ante and come up with a song that builds on their strengths.  The unrest and dissatisfaction they- annoyed and appalled by misrepresentations and corruption- is much more subtle and disciplined than other bands.

The guys have managed to mix melody and something accessible with plenty of passion and force.  Having toured extensively- and a couple of E.P.s under their belts already- you have the strongest statement from a group who never disappoint.  A Time Imagination Forgot to Inspire could easily look at (perhaps, subconsciously) lack of musical firepower and bliss.  At face-value- and how I see things at least- there is social unrest being appropriated.  Cycles go on- as the band themselves claim- and no changes are ever made.  No matter who we elect and what happens in the world:  There is never any real improvement or anything different occurring.  That quiet/loud/intense/controlled dynamic can be heard here.  Whatever we do and whoever speaks for us- whether a popular choice or not- seems to fall short of the mark.  The boys manage to unleash a composition that stops and stutters:  Catchy moments and joyous little kicks give it an additional spark that is sure to appeal to the live crowds.  On that point, the song is one that can be chanted and will get the throngs uplifted and moving.  The lyrics look at disbelief and confusion- not sure what to believe and what is true- and this central figure (whether a P.M. or personal figure) less-than-idealised and appealing.  This rhapsody-against-disappointment mandate is not often heard in the mainstream- left often to the more niche genres/musicians- so it is nice to hear a song that deals with weightier topics have such potential.  It is not a song that is reserved for the Hardcore/Post-Hardcore/Punk crowds:  The track could find its way across mainstream stations- probably B.B.C. Radio 6 Music- and appeal to their listeners.  The final moments repeat that core statement- “I don’t see anything new”- and reinforce that anger and dissatisfaction.  The lads slam and strike to the end and ensure their song gets inside the head- without ramming it down your throats.  Coming away from the song- and evaluating it in silence and reflection- it takes several listens to get the full meaning and have an understanding.  I still think about political ideas; there are possibilities of personal relations- a friend or sweetheart breaking promises- and musical imbalance and false ideals.  I am pleased Cold Summer  have such a firecracker on their hands.  Some bands in their position- that feel the need to change and alter their sound- have developed natural evolution whilst keeping their core intact.  Those blitzkrieg vocal explosions and calmer moments- the boys mix melody and overt together- still can be seen; they have new lease and inspiration.  What you have- that may have been missing in previous releases- is more originality and more honed songs.  The tight and kinetic performance (displayed best on A Time Imagination Forgot to Inspire) is matched with intention, focus and new musical influences- new and upcoming kings of Punk-cum-Hardcore make their way in.  What the Yorkshire fellas do it embrace their own voices more- whilst keeping some influences in play- and are much stronger for it.  A wonderful insight into their upcoming E.P.- the single is not released for a few days- make sure you get the song when it comes out.

I always love when bands come to me looking for a review.  Ordinarily, it may not have been easy discovering them- what with the mass of acts coming through; social media and its limitations- so it is great coming across Cold Summer.  My usual exposure to Post-Hardcore has been through stations like Radio 1.  Whilst key to championing the genre; there are genuinely worthy bands that have escaped their radar.  Inspired by a wide range of acts- from Russian Circles to Deftones- you have a Yorkshire band with a bright and prosperous future.  I have may have started the review with a rather downbeat and haunted subject- just a shock to see a young act taken too soon- but it is meant as a parable against those who overlook great acts.  I yearn for the day we see radio stations emerge- magazines and publications- that give more weight to bands (that would otherwise) find regard in smaller circles.  Too much focus and attention is being paid to some insincere and fly-by-night bands that do not leave impressions in the mind.  For the music fan that requires intelligence, directness and depth:  Where do you go to get your fix?  It may be a quandary that has no easy answer- or will take a long time to rectify- but for now, it has been great seeing what Cold Summer is all about.  We need to support the best young bands around and ensure they get the support they require.  I have seen too many groups capitulate and struggle through lack of donation and airplay.  Maybe there is over-saturation that is causing detriment to some wonderful acts.  Cold Summer are getting attention in Yorkshire and the U.K.:  I feel they have the type of sound that can reach the U.S., for sure.  With some like-minded Post-Hardcore bands doing good business in the U.S. – Florida, as mentioned, is a natural house- I can see the boys gigging across the pond and enthralling the American crowds.  Whether this happens in years or months- the latter seems like a real proposition- it will be exciting to follow the plight of one of our most exciting bands.  I have never been a loyal acolyte of Hardcore and Post-Hardcore bands in general terms.  Too many examples play with force yet lack direction, originality and reputability.  Too direct and angered to create necessary nuance and dimension; the wave of Post-Hardcore bands seem a lot more ripe and receptive.  Themes are starting to shift to positive oeuvres- although Cold Summer feature songs of isolation and anxiety- and more people are embracing the genre.  That is not to say Post-Hardcore bands are selling-out- dampening down their potency and replacing ethanol with soya milk- but they are showing more heart and control.  There are still the pure and explosive bands- that give voice to those that feel alone and isolated- but it is nice to discover acts that are brave enough to show some layers and depth.  Cold Summer’s forthcoming track mixes all the things I love about music is one place.  There is that core of guttural and stomach-kicking sound:  Compositions that evoke serious head-swinging and feet-stomping.  The lyrics mix relatable and everyday concerns- dissatisfaction and heartaches- with personal insight and something more oblique.  So where do Cold Summer fit into the Hardcore scene?  Well, they are more than the genre’s history would suggest.

There are still the pure and explosive bands- that give voice to those that feel alone and isolated- but it is nice to discover acts that are brave enough to show some layers and depth.  Cold Summer’s forthcoming track mixes all the things I love about music is one place.  There is that core of guttural and stomach-kicking sound:  Compositions that evoke serious head-swinging and feet-stomping.  The lyrics mix relatable and everyday concerns- dissatisfaction and heartaches- with personal insight and something more oblique.  So where do Cold Summer fit into the Hardcore scene?  Well, they are more than the genre’s history would suggest.  With a lot of their peers focusing on overt anger- without any intelligence or meaning- we have a band that is more political and socially-driven.  The upcoming E.P. Fight to Survive has a title that leaves little to the imagination.  What you get are songs that show fight and the need to survive against oppression and governmental control.  With so much greed, corruption and naivety in government- not just our Conservative ‘leader’; the wider political spectrum- it is apt to find an act that is saying what we all think.  Megalomaniac monsters like Donald Trump- a caricature that seems to become more cartoon-villain-in-a-suit by the moment- there is a lot of fear and disgust among the population.  Balkanised against politicians that do not represent the masses- their own agendas enforce questionable decisions- some great bands are electioneering with a much more attractive manifesto.  When I was guessing which acts will headline Glastonbury; rather predictable and depressing names come to mind.  Foo Fighters and Muse are speculated and tipped.  How rebellious and original of the Eavis’!  With the more appropriate acts- Radiohead, Blur and Gun N’ Roses- given longer odds, you have to wonder whether these festivals represent the diversity and quality in music.  Ed Sheeran and Adele are also mooted- they have their fans but plenty of detractors (me for one)- and Glastonbury is losing its grit and influence.  It is not good having the same-old acts topping the bills- why not give a shot to upcoming, younger acts?  Who knows, but what I do know, is there are some tremendous artists emerging that deserve a bigger stage.  Cold Summer drop A Time Imagination Forgot to Inspire very soon- their E.P. will follow shortly after- and it is another confident step from one of our most direct and developed bands.  That blend of Punk and melody fuses in a bonfire of explosive vocals and dissatisfied lyrics.  For those seeking cobweb-vanquishing sounds- that blow the senses wide open- cast your gaze…

TO a band that speak for us all.


Follow Cold Summer









TRACK REVIEW: Eric McGrath- Always the Same



Eric McGrath


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Always the Same




Always the Same is available at:




The album, Far From Here is available at:


These Are the Good Old Days

Always the Same

Let You in on a Secret

You Mean the World to Me

Sweetest Tasting Kiss

Ripples into Waves


Let’s Get Curious

Far from Here



30th October, 2015


M:89 Records


IT is sometimes hard to talk about new subjects….

When presented with a review subject.  Today there are no such obstacles:  Eric McGrath is an act I would not normally have stumbled upon- I was brought to his attention via McGrath’s management company.  Before I introduce you to the singer-songwriter I wanted to talk about Dublin musicians- looking at heritage and nationalities- exploring Jazz and Folk blends- completing with a bit about slow-burning/non-instantaneous sounds.  When reviewing musicians, I am always curious to see from whence their roots were planted.  It is rare to find artists that stray too far away from predictable locales.  From the Londoners across to Yorkshire- two of my most commonly assessed areas- I feel hometowns/location affects a sound and style.  Maybe it is the wider music community (in that area) that enforces a particular sound.  Dublin is a city I have not been to (in musical terms) for a long while now- I cannot remember the last review to come from there.  Having spent a lot of time in obvious realms- the U.K. and Australia; Canada and the U.S.- it is nice to put my mind back here.  Historically, the city has produced some of music’s best bands:  From U2 and My Bloody Valentine; there have been a wealth of interesting acts to emanate from the city.  Away from some of the dodgier examples- The Script and Boyzone hardly do the city any favours- it is the new musicians of Dublin that are more fascinating.  Sleep Thieves are a mixed-gender three-piece that has been playing for a few years now.  On the rise, the band is making their marks on the musical landscape.  Away from them, Indie duo Darling mix heavier influences with ‘80s acts like Ultravox.  SPINES are a four-piece Punk band of girls that are making all the right noise.  Kingdom of Crows and Leaders of Men are attracting attention from across the water (the latter has been played on U.K. radio) and there are some hidden treasures to be found in Dublin.  The Republic of Ireland, in general terms, is an attractive musical landscape that is more than its history suggests.  I feel music media in the U.K. negates cities like Dublin- for the life of me I am not sure why.  Whilst Eric McGrath has settled in Austrailia- having had an nomadic background- it seems a shame so many Irish musicians are relocating- perhaps they do not get exposure they deserve at home.  When interviewing acts- and asking why they move to the U.K./change locations- it all comes down to that lack of attention and proper backing.  I think people assume- looking at Dublin acts like The Script- the music of the city will be rather mainstream and pedestrian.  It is true- as is the case with other cities and areas- there are some rather lukewarm artists.  Dublin is a bustling and musical city that is seeing a lot of homegrown glory created.  It is just a shame there is not a stronger communication to the U.K. – and the press here do not spend much time here.  Before I raise a new point, let me introduce you to my featured act:

Folk-Jazz singer, songwriter, and musician Eric McGrath was born to a Spanish mother and an Irish father in Dublin. Having spent his childhood growing up in Spain and Ireland, and the past few years living in Melbourne, Australia, Eric’s international upbringing is reflected in the style of music he writes and performs today. With a strong love of Latin grooves, 1920’s North American song craftsmanship, and 1960’s Surf harmonies, it wasn’t long before Eric began to blend his diverse inspirations through his own unique compositions.

After completing an honours degree in Chemistry at University College Dublin, Eric finally succumbed to his true calling by obtaining a Masters in Music from Trinity College Dublin.

Recently signed to the prestigious Metropolis London Music Ltd., Eric has partnered with some of the world’s leading musicians and producers to craft his latest record ‘Far From Here’. Eric’s instantly catchy harmonies, unusual chord progressions, and breezy instrumental arrangements can again be heard throughout his latest record, which is already turning heads through regular international radio play.

A wider audience awaits…

McGrath has had a busy and interesting life so far.  That mixed heritage- the Spanish roots with Irish blood- is not a mixture I have encountered in a musician.  McGrath has traveled wide and seen some fascinating countries and people.  It is this never-sit-still attitude and zeal that has translated into music that is rich and original.  Whilst the core of McGrath’s music can be seen as ‘Jazz-Folk’; that is not to say it is a one-dimensional sound.  Those Latin grooves and ‘60s harmonies sit alongside modern Folk influences and bygone days Jazz motifs.  I was a little skeptical reviewing McGrath for a bit:  On paper, I was expected someone who was closer to Jack Johnson (an artist I do not like at all) than I would like.  The truth is- it is an influence of McGrath to be fair- that is doing him a huge disservice.  Our hero has his own style and range:  A breed and chemical mix that has seen his latest album (Far From Here) catch the attention of international media.  It is that adventurousness/cross-genre pollination that has led to such acclaim and recognition.   People may balk if they saw the words ‘Folk’ and ‘Jazz’ appear next to a musician.  Considered still- in this day and age- as minor genres; it would be naïve to overlook acts that go way from the mainstream and dig deeper.  If you are not a fan of Folk and Jazz- and variations upon the themes- that is not to say you should ignore a musician like Eric McGrath.  Not every musician that plays these genres will sound the same and be exactly similar:  You need to take a chance on music and allow something new to come into the consciousness.  I am not a fan of Country music yet am always willing to investigate artists that play in this genre.  Once in a while, you can become surprised and pleased of the endeavor.  Luckily, Jazz and Folk are genres I am not a stranger to:  It was without fear I approached the shores of Eric McGrath.  His music can be described as quite gentle and slow-burning.  You do not have devilish riffs and slamming sounds emerging from the speaker.  What you do get- something much more impressive- is music that reveals beauty and wonder after multiple listens.  Upon the first study, you have sounds that elicit charm and easy-listening appeal.  The older days charm and candour of the music- you imagine an artist that would be at home in the 1920s- puts you back to a simpler and easier time.  There is modernity and grit to the music; plenty of uplift and passion can be found- a blend that music listeners crave and demand.  The young artist has found patronage among B.B.C. Radio 2 and has struck a chord with the wider world.  Not a hometown secret, the Dublin-born artist has a gilded and busy future ahead of him.  His album, Far From Here, is as inoffensive and hard-to-not-love as you could get from any musician.  If you are hesitant and thinking it will be too effete to really get inside the skin:  Take time with a musician that digs deep and has much more than meets the eye.  If we should learn anything from music- 2015 was a rather spotty affair with regards great acts- we should take chances and give artists time to flourish and seduce.  Whether Far From Here manages to unite fans that prefer their music heavier and harder- tending to stick rigidly to Alternative sounds- I am not sure.  The music on offer (throughout the album) has plenty of appeal and heart to it.  I know McGrath will be playing around the land and meeting new fans as the year continues.  Having caught the eyes and ears of some influential stations- the media are starting to champion his latest work- you have a young man that could go a very long way.

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If you want a full impression of Eric McGrath’s talents; it might be worth checking out some of his ‘older’ numbers.  A few years ago, McGrath started to put music on SoundCloud give the public an insight into his musical mindset.  While some of the tracks released a few years ago feature on the new album- including Carousel and These Are the Good Old Days– there are some tracks that do not feature on Far From Here.

Let’s Get Curious is gentle and boasts a vocal that is calming and has its mind across the waters.  Letting that voice stand out front- it is sharp and has a bracing quality to it- you have a song that has playfulness and romance at the heart.  The hero and his girl are alone together- time to get curious- and the song is a beckoning call in a sense.  The guitars strum and fire; there are brief blasts of horns and lyrics that go deeper than most.  Our hero does not want to play possum and there is wisdom and maturity in a song that implores taking chances and making the most of life.  Whilst some of the guitar sounds do recall Jack Johnson; there are elements of Norah Jones’ entrancing vocals and musical blends.  That said, McGrath has a unique style and Let’s Get Curious is a song I would love to see more exposed and played across radio.  It is one of those songs that could inspire upcoming musicians and has an enormous amount of nuance- I kept coming back to play it!

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   A Lost Romance is perhaps the most Jack Johnson-esque track- the guitar/ukulele sound especially- whilst the vocal is perhaps less direct than Let’s Get Curious.  There are relaxed vibes and something borderline Reggae across a song that has a breeziness and casualness about it.  The track looks at growing old and missing chances- the lost romance is the most heartbreaking and haunting- and it is another song that has relatable and universal colours.  Another song that could make it onto the album- there was room only for the select few- it showcases a broad talent that has many sides to his art.  Regrets are common and lamentable- we all have to deal with this- and you immerse yourself in a song that will resonate with many.

With a rare piano appearance; Before You Left has touching and unexpected opening notes.  The introduction builds and creates something semi-symphonic and Classical.  The vocal is quite affected and haunted- words that can be tied to many of his songs- and that swirl of electronics and piano have spectral echoes and something troubled.  The brooding beauty and sunlight poke through- mixing Spanish and Irish sounds together- and you get a song that has so many working away.  Vocal snippets- not sure what it is from exactly- creates dialogue and storyline whilst the composition continues to impress to the final notes.

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Since these days- and the first recordings put out there- McGrath has grown in ambition and confidence.  To be honest, the consistency and talent was all evident years ago.  I am surprised just how authoritative and formed McGrath is in these sapling cuts.  What we have in Far From Here is a continuation on a theme- some of those earliest numbers are now album tracks- and an increase in subject matter and variation.  The songwriting is perhaps deeper and more impressive than some earlier numbers; again McGrath was always pretty assured and unique back then.  Whilst no sonic leaps were needed; it is good hearing some non-album tracks and other sides to a mercurial musical talent.  The rate of progress and passion signals a musical future with many more records and possibilities.  It will be good seeing where the young artist heads and what direction he takes.  Given the strength of his current output:  There is going to be no huge need to change things and really alter what is already out there.

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Always the Same mixes some tender percussion with some lightly strummed guitar.  Right from the off you get that sun-kissed vibe and something quite tranquil and romantic.  This blend of charming beats and smiling strings elicits early positivity and smile that is hard to ignore.  You get those reminders of Jack Johnson- only the merest of touches, mind- and what you get is an introduction that is scenic and deeply involving.  You cannot just listen to it and not have your mind taken somewhere.  Provoking some gentle feet tap and finger-clicking action; the early words see the hero in strong voice and with clear intentions.  It seems that tip-toeing around the issues- whether it refers to troubles in romance- has never been beneficial or solved the problem.  The vocal is breezy and cool- McGrath has that natural warmth and effortlessness to his tones- and you get swept up inside the gracefulness and passion of those vocal.  The lyrics are presented with plenty of heart but there is always a causal disassociation and detach.  Whatever has inspired the song- if it regarding a blossoming romance or strife- our hero wants everything to be kept cool.  This casualness and lack of commitment leads me to believe our lead has been through the mill and experienced too many splits and needless arguments.  Perhaps he has learnt lessons from love- the way things go if you plunge in too deep- and wants something more pure and different.  This girl he has is perhaps not exciting him quite the same as he’d imagined.  The conversations are empty and rather wasted.  Tired of shooting the breeze- that small talk and awkwardness is evident- is starting to take its toll.  Sure; the girl feels blue and alone now and then:  This is not ignored or overlooked by our hero.  What he wants- aside from the openness and bond- is conversation and an actual connection.  It seems there is this pattern that has been repeated time and time again.  Unable to extricate himself from the monotony of a rather predictable love- and a day-to-day existence that is stilted- you start to yearn for our boy to find something good.  Perhaps the girl herself is a nice and perfectly pleasant person.  You get the feeling it is a rather listless love and maybe the two are not as matched as they once imagined.  Away from love possibilities- it may just be a friendship that is feeling strains- you start to wonder how things will resolve and develop.

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McGrath is always light and lacking anxiety when he delivers his voice.  There is no spite and accusation when speaking of dissatisfaction and lacking inspiration.  You get involved in the energy and tenderness of the song- the composition boasts some skipping strings and light beats- and start to speculate as to the truth of the matter.  Things are always the same and this isn’t a casual fling being documented.  McGrath has been with his sweetheart for a while- you sense history and a lot of tribulation- and there have been mistakes and problems in the past.  Accounting that this bond is “forever”- showing commitment and a desire- there needs to be some fix and patching-up.  Unwilling to talk away and find someone new; you have a song that pledges its allegiance to a love that could go the distance.  Those minor issues and humdrum days- the sort of bland conversation he wants to get away from- seem like they can be fixed and repaired.  That loyalty and commitment is there- the hero stands by every word he has said- yet there needs to be some separation and breathing.  Maybe the duo has been too involved and under one another’s feet.  Every day seems to bring pain and a predictable clash:  The hero wants to get away from that crap and foster a healthier and less fraught love.  The suggestion is this:  Having some distance (for a while) whilst both can unclutter their minds and come back healthier and happier.  Whatever they have right now is not really working out for the best.  The love burns and goes deep and you just know they will go the distance.  I guess every relationship has its stumbling blocks and quandaries:  How you deal with them and move on is the test as to its purity and promise.  Ensuring the song remains uplifted and positive:  The vocal and composition has a smile and effusiveness that hooks the listener and makes proceedings light and casual- probably befitting of the song’s nature and desires.  As the song reaches its latter moments; you get more into the story and the fates of our duo.  The hero always saw this relationship being unfaltering and rock solid.  It is perhaps a bad time for the two- one that is going to have to be addressed- and that regret and sadness does start to creep in.  To ensure balance and romance; you get pitter-patter percussion and impishness from the strings.  Your mind has one foot at the beach and sunnier climbs.  That near-the-waters vibe and tranquility is an asset that few musicians employ in their music.  Whereas contemporaries like Jack Johnson have little besides that sound- his lyrics do not really leave marks in your mind- McGrath is a songwriter with a lot more depth and quality to him.  The rich and silk-smooth voice looks at the results of this new type of love:  The heroine will come running back and want things to be the same as before.  As has been explained- a mantra for the song in fact- is pain will always come through.  Whatever happens during that day; the two will quarrel and end up at each other’s throats.

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Eric McGrath has produced a song that stands up to a lot of listening and scrutiny.  Always the Same is a song that showcases the songwriting chops and skill that run across the album, Far From Here.  It is great to discover an artist that has such a sense of identity and purpose so early on.  McGrath has that boy-next-door charm and a songwriting talent that does not sit still and sound predictable.  Covering various themes and ideas; you have a musician with a busy mind who wants to appeal to a wide range of listeners.  Always the Same seems very real and personal:  A song that recounts a time in his life (maybe it is still there) and that need for something different and care-free.  McGrath is not an artist that plays too safe and honed.  Unlike Jack Johnson- who likes his style and does not often push beyond it- our Dublin lad has more diversity and spit to his music.  Among the warmth and tenderness, there is enough to suggest something more rebellious and impure lingers.  Never a bad thing- it could lead to some rather exciting sonic developments later down the line- the main strengths lie with McGrath’s voice and songwriting.  That voice is rich, warm and soothing:  Qualities that ensure his tracks bring positivity out of the darkest situations.  Compositions melt surfing scenes with ‘20s Jazz ideals; something rooted in traditional Folk and of-the-moment Pop.  I cannot wait to see how this young and vibrant talent develops in the future.  Always the Same is an impressive statement from an album with plenty of firepower and quality.

Far From Here is an album that has plenty of great moments and standout numbers.  Always the Same is perhaps the highlight- it is for me at least- but there are a lot of instant and memorable tracks to be found.  These Are the Good Old Days has already been featured across the airwaves- being picked up by B.B.C. Radio 2- and has enjoyed minor celebrity early on.  Away from these tracks, there is plenty to suggest that the restless musician will be one of our big names in years to come.  It would be great to see Far From Here collect more reviews- there is a criminal lack of them I can find- as the album is testament to a hard-working and passionate musician.  McGrath makes music that calms the soul and eases the strains of everyday life.  Described as ‘soulful’ and ‘uplifting’ in various reviews:  How could you ignore an album (and artist) that has such an attract set of qualities?  I am not sure; what I do know is there will be a lot more music from McGrath.  Into 2016, the hero will be taking the album on the road and seeing how it is received in the live setting.  The music is slow-burning- but reveals huge promise as you listen more- but is guaranteed to put you in a more positive mood.  Those compositions blend the wisdom and drive of Folk; Latin grooves and harmonies that take your mind somewhere special- topped with Jazz iconography and elements.  Before completing this review- and imploring you check Eric McGrath out- it is worth coming back to my earlier points- relating to Dublin, gentler music and the blends of music available.  Artists need to be adventurous and thoughtful when it comes to their music.

It is not good enough- unless you want to be forgotten about quickly- to just produce songs that have a similar sound and are predictable.  I know it is very tempting- a lot of bands and artists do this- to replicate artists and produce music that is well-worn.  There are far too many acts that try to fit into moulds and what the critics/mainstream want.  Those that push further and are more ambitious- tying different genres together- are always going to gain more appeal and support.  It is a hard trick to get right, really:  If you do not get that blend correct; it can backfire and put listeners off.  McGrath has a love of ‘20s artists and Jazz ideas; Folk core and modern-day Pop.  He brings all this together in music that will unify ages and all music lovers.  There are no borders and constraints (on McGrath’s music) and it is only right his fan-base increases.  At the moment, the social media numbers are growing and McGrath’s reputation is increasing.  Having originated from Dublin- he may still live there; I am only assuming he resides in London- it has given me a chance to revisit a wonderful and captivating city.  Many speak of Dublin in fevered tones- I am desperate to go visit the place- and always say the same things.  The warmth of the people is only matched by the wonderful streets and vibrancy.  You have so much to see and do; Dublin has such a warmth and friendliness that it’s hard to refute its joy and magic.  It is unsurprising musicians hear leave impression in the mind and have that comparable set of attributes.  Whilst Dublin has/is producing some great Rock bands- those with genuine nuance and originality- they have always been better when it comes to more adventurous/unexpected artists.  The artists in the city- that play heavier strokes- are mixing in other genres to create a more full-bodied and exciting palette.  The Folk-cum-Pop artists- a regular staple on the mainstream scene- are impressive and studied.  The development of McGrath- from his earliest cuts and experiments- is wonderful; the young artist has grown and matured into a musician with clear site and direction.  I cannot wait to see how McGrath’s career develops and expands.  Having uprooted from the home-only appeal- translating into the international realm- it is only a matter of time before more radio stations and countries are conquered.  That slow-burning bliss- that sits on McGrath’s debut album- fuses with emotive performances and uplifting vibes.   It would be good to see some London tour dates from McGrath- I am not sure what his diary is looking like so far- and the crowds here would embrace the gentility and captivation of the music.  Far From Here is an appropriate title for an album:  Our hero has traveled wide and has that heritage few others possess.  With Irish and Spanish blood- the nations and people he has seen- you have a set of D.N.A. that goes into music that is just as mixed and fascinating.  If you want music that puts you in a positive frame and smile…

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FEW acts do it as effortlessly as Eric McGrath.




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TRACK REVIEW: Night Wolf- The Tailsman



Night Wolf




The Tailsman





The Tailsman is available at:

February 8th, 2016



Bedford, U.K.


VERY few artists come across that differ from the pack…

and present something genuinely new and fascinating.  Of course, there are some terrific artists (past and bygone) that demand fond investigation and admiration.  What I am talking about are those acts that go the extra mile and unveil music that sounds completely fresh and exciting.  Before I come to Night Wolf- and the man behind the moniker- I wanted to look at Chill-out sounds and instrumentals; putting listeners into a song- and the key producers/collaborators emerging right now.  Away from the heaviness of Rock and Alternative; through to the seductiveness and sedate Folk motifs:  There are a great range of genres for every listener out there.  Whatever your tastes and preferences you are pretty much sorted.  I have had the privilege of reviewing so many different acts- covering most genres in modern music-and am always amazed when I happen upon something genuinely new and unexpected.  Whether it is Jazz or Pop:  If an artists does something new with the genre; it makes the listener experience that extra bit rich and rewarding.  Chill-out/instrumental music is not often heralded and focused in the mainstream:  It tends to be something that plays in the underground and not often uncovered.  I am not sure why genres like Chill-out are not played and represented more across radio and music in general.  From the ‘90s club classics to the ambient soundscapes that take your mind somewhere else- there is a wealth of magic to be found here.  It does not have to be an instrumental track either:  Adding a vocal to Chill-out/Electronic compositions can result in a wonderfully rich and evocative song.  I feel there is still too much emphasis on the voice- and creating mood and texture- that compositions seem to be second-best and overlooked.  Some of the best bands and artists are synonymous with their compositional innovation and talent.  Too many listeners go for immediate impact and something familiar:  They are overlooking sounds that have so much more nuance and longevity to them.  Songs that leave the lyrics/vocals out- and compel you to imagine your own scenes and possibilities- have so much potential.  If you have lyrics and vocals left in, you know what the song is about really- or have fewer outcomes to choose from.  By setting-aside those dynamics; you can elicit far more and leave songs completely open to that individual.  What I love about Chill-out- sounds that are dreamy and dig into the soul- are what they do to the mind and body.  It is great being jolted and struck into life:  Music that relaxes me and gets my mind working; that will always mean a lot more to me.  Ryan Wilcox is the man behind Night Wolf and has always amazed me with his production and composition talents.  From harder and more slicing cuts- that have dark undertones and bite- to something dreamier and more luscious:  The man can pretty much do anything he sets his mind to.  Before I continue on my point, let me introduce Night Wolf to you:

I am a composer/producer/artist working with MusicJar (UK) + SumSerious Music LLC (USA) + Sky Rocket Records (Europe) + GungHo Music Group Ltd (China).
Started out in rock bands as a drummer, had classical piano training at the age of 7, gave up after grade 3 to concentrate on my own music. Alongside solo projects I work with my partner Centrist (Mike Ziegler) From Dekalb Il. We formed into Harmony’s Descent around 1 year ago.
Please stay a while and sit back and browse over some of my work, please leave feedback as its always welcome, I am always on the look out for new artists, accapellas and producers to collab with

Night Wolf is an artist I have been following for years now and always amazed by how stunning the music is.  What is most impressive is how each song draws the listener in.  It is not music that boasts egos and showboats at all.  You get compositions that are for the listener and bring them into that experience.  Wilcox writes tracks that are for the mind and soul:  You cannot just listen to one of his tracks not take something away from it.  Emotive and dramatic- romantic and symphonic- you get a range of genres and styles thrown into an exhilarating boiling pot.  He is a producer that has attracted a great array of singers and collaborators.  Keen to work with a promising up-and-coming musician:  Names and artists have all been eager to share their talents with Night Wolf.  I am stunned more artists have not come through and wanted to appear on Night Wolf material.  Every time I hear a new composition (from Night Wolf) I think about the vocal possibilities and all the potential you can get from that track.  Those amazing production values- the musical innovation and wonder- and you have limitless songs that demand stunning vocals and a passionate talent.  Wilcox recently launched his Songs of Travel blog.  This is a venture that sees our hero travelling Europe and writing a new song in every country he visits.  Looking at the blog- the people and sites Wilcox visits- you have songs that reflect the country’s geography and multiplicitous joys.  Away from Songs of Travel, Wilcox is writing music for films too.  Uncle Sam Needs Money and Jester Hill are two new songs- both amazing and different- that showcase a rare talent with a big future ahead.  From the E.P. days- and the development and evolution you get from each one- Night Wolf has new inspiration and ideas.  The Tailsman is a track that will please existing fans and sure to bring new people in.  I will be excited to see what is next from a producer that seems to have no limitations.  Constantly inspired and in love with music:  There is no telling just how far Night Wolf can go.  I hope the social media numbers climb and more people discover one of our finest composers and musicians.  I love discovering musicians that are anything but predictable and samey.  Each time I come across a new Night Wolf composition, you get something new and genuinely fascinating.  With so many new endeavours and plans under his belt:  Who know just what this year will have in store?  I can see an album arriving perhaps.  Maybe Night Wolf will unleash something that goes back to his Moonlight E.P. (released in 2013) or a series of travelogues from his adventures.  There is so much going on with him now- writing for film and looking for hook-ups- I would like to see an array of singers lending their talent to the music.

When looking at The Tailsman; one must look back and see how far Night Wolf has come.  The new songs being out right now- there are several on SoundCloud- have a lot in common with previous offerings.  With Night Wolf, you never get a total departure and about-face.  The producer does not want to put off existing fans and constantly have to reinvent himself.  Even from the earliest days, the songs had such depth and variation- hard to compare two songs to each other- and the evolutions and steps lie elsewhere.  What you get now- from the earliest days perhaps- is that huge confidence and nuance.  Night Wolf’s early cuts had plenty of passion to them, but if anything, the latest offerings showcase an artist with renewed direction and intention.  Perhaps travel and time has led to this step-along and improvement.  The Tailsman digs even deeper than songs across previous E.P.s and seem tighter and more focused.  You get the same amount of joy and bliss but the music is more concentrated and disciplined.  That said, the consistency- the songs will keep existing fans happy- is the most important aspect.  Night Wolf never drops a step or produces weak songs- not one since the creation of his act- and right now you have a talent that can get even better and bigger.  The fact Night Wolf is so in-demand- having his music featured across T.V. and film- can be attributed to this consistency and growth.  Artists that leave big gaps between releases tend to lose a bit of edge and quality.  Night Wolf has never really been out commission, and as such, keeps honing and developing his craft.  The Tailsman finds the young artists in new form and finding inspiration once more.  In the past I have known what various tracks are influenced by- whether political stress or social issues- but here things are less direct and more open.  It is a song that has no set meaning- or not one I can see- that means every listener will have their own ideas and mindset.  If anything, Wilcox is becoming more diverse with his compositions and finding fresh angles and influences.  Traveling across Europe- part of his Songs of Travel adventures- that scope is wider and bolder.  This rate of progression and curiosity is a positive sign that can lead to a wonderful E.P. or album.  I know Night Wolf has enough material and new steps to fill an album- let’s see if that happens in 2016.  What existing fans will find is the quality rising once more.

It has been a little while since I have reviewed a new Night Wolf song.  Not knowing what to expect-if I would hear something that recalled the early days- it was fascinating sitting down with The Tailsman.  The first notes see some rising strings/synths that have edginess and a haunt to them.  Mixing intrigue and curiosity to them; bringing in some passion and romanticism to the fold- a song that gets inside the mind right away.  Tense and taut beats come to the fray to create a building atmosphere that takes the song in another direction.  The composition keeps building and you get a real sense of aesthetic and drama early in The Tailsman.  In the early exchanges the focus is on beats and the way they tumble and work.  Almost finger-clicked and tumbling:  There is a stunning mix of pitter-patter and direct slams.  Tumbling, swimming and dancing:  It is hard to overlook the beauty and magic of those notes.  As I have said before- in the introduction about depth and nuance- every listener will have their own ideas as to what the composition is trying to say.  It is an instrumental track that will see thousands of different visions and storylines.  It is quite rare to discover artists that create instrumental tracks that possess so much emotion and possibility.  Most music has vocals and lyrics, so when faced with something that contains neither it gives you a chance to arrive at your own conclusions and decisions.  Those slamming and cutting beats then start to fuse more with the electronics.  Compelled and driven by that constant sound- the swooning and swaying electronics- you have a beat that jumps and moves with a restlessness and sense of purpose.  My mind was imagining a shadowy man lurking in the dark of a huge city.  The neon lights might be buzzing and there is a strange sensation in the air.  Perhaps there is a mission or job to be done- here is a spy or government figure- and a definite target in mind.  With nary another body on the streets; you get drawn into an adventure or mission that is sure to build in intensity and force.  Listening to The Tailsman and it seems like a track ready-made for T.V. and film.  It is a song- even in the earliest moments- that could score a tense drama like Luther.  In that same spirit, I could see it soundtrack a big Hollywood scene or inside a low-budget Indie film.   I get little flecks of past Night Wolf work, although to be honest, we have such a leap and new sound at work.  Whilst existing fans will find a lot to recommend- it does not completely negate that solid core- you have so many new ideas and possibilities.  There is a catchiness and addictiveness to the beats that get your head nodding and the feet tapping.  Joining that exciting percussion are twitchy and spacey electronics that spark and elicit a quirkiness and odd charm.  My early impressions- regarding spy-in-the-cold-danger- start to mutate and alter as the song progresses.  There is romanticism and chill to the track that gets me thinking about love and something more relaxed.  Reminding me of acts like Massive Attack- who could deftly fuse the dramatic with romantic- and here’s a song that keeps blossoming and providing fresh promise.  Captivated by that insatiable beat- that seems to provide new story-line with each moment- the listener will have their own ideas as to what the song represents.  Thinking about it, I get remembrances from dreams and something quite abstract.  The Tailsman has that dreamy quality that takes you somewhere strange yet safe.  The composition remains fairly accessible and light- previous Night Wolf numbers have been more carnivorous and attacking- and that sense of calm is always there.  Part of me sees the song as a travelogue and glimpse inside a foreign land.  There is that sense of movement and energy that got me thinking about passing landscape and new cities.  That nervous energy and passion could be the representation of new discovery and foreign scenes.  As I said, everyone will take something different away from the listening experience.

   The Tailsman is a song that showcases new promise and ambition from one of the U.K.’s finest talents/producers.  A vibrant, rich and atmospheric track here:  We have a song that never allows the heart and mind to become involved and immerse themselves in a strange and beautiful number.  It is also a song that could be given new life were a vocal to be attached.  I know Wilcox is looking for artists to work with and it seems like The Tailsman would suit a female voice and soulful performance.  It is a song that could fit some great lyrics and be backed by a committed and rich vocal turn.  Whether that is the direction Night Wolf will take- or if it remains an instrumental track- what we have is a song with so many possibilities and potential.   The production values and superb which allows all the notes and ideas to come out with clarity and naturalness.  Having a few other new songs out there- I will give an overview below- it has been a creative and fertile period for the young producer.   It has been a while since I have heard Night Wolf so excited and dedicated to the act of music-making.  There is new passion and a lease of life that translates into The Tailsman.  Here, we have a song that could fit into a variety of situations and places.  It has the potential for radio play and will surely be picked up by stations that have championed Night Wolf previously.  In addition, the track could find new followers and it will be exciting to see if it features on upcoming films and T.V. productions.  Congratulations to Night Wolf on another step forward from an artist that becomes fascinating and promising by the year.

There are five new songs out there that Night Wolf is keen to share.  Jester Hill has enraptured violins and echoed vocals that create an odd and trippy opening.  Bonding with hard-hitting beats- it races and gets underway with intensity- you get drawn into the drama and emotion poured out.  A dangerous and busy opening few seconds; the combination of elements- violin and beats together with vocals- then leads to something symphonic and driving.  A sound collage that could easily score T.V. and film scenes a-plenty- no listener is immune to the drama and racing heartbeats that come out.  The song mixes various different genres into the pot.  There are Dance and Electro. elements joined by classic guitar- Flamenco and Salsa tangos inside the notes.  Dancing piano and juttering strings give the song an edginess and anxiety; mixed with the grand passions and lust and the song gains new majesty and life with each passing moment.

  World of Delusion has spoken vocals- with dancing pianos and strings- that gives a different angle to other songs.  The addictive and mesmeric composition brings strings and piano together in a peculiar and powerful dance.  Teasing and hissing beats provide energy and uncertainty around a mind that is besieged by contrasting thoughts and emotions.  Differing percussionary notes- sounds of a tabla or bongo lurk underneath perhaps? – are interrupted by vocal snatches that have me wondering about the origins. While the compositions remains fairly grounded- repeating its ideas and consistent as it goes- it is those vocal passages that perhaps get the mind guessing.  I am not sure who spoke them but you get various different snippets come out- “Your mind is what there is” for one- that ends with a very clear message:  The necessity of remaining in a state of delusion.

Uncle Sam Needs Money is edgier and recalls past work of Night Wold.  Vocal snippets- Uncle Sam needing money- reminds me of the work of The Avalanches.  That experimental and cut-and-paste freewheelin’ sees the track constantly on edge and fascinating.  It is a song that is breathless and is constantly pressing.  The beats tumble and slam with intent whilst those jagged (and wordless) vocal snippets create an odd sound that gets inside the brain.  You cannot escape the sense of suffocation that comes through through the track and the urgency that pervades.  So many ideas and so much life is put into a song that doesn’t even top three minutes.  It is a testament to the talent an ability of Night Wolf that Uncle Sam Needs Money seems like one of those epic tracks.

These new tracks show different sides to Night Wolf that unite the past and embrace the future.  Continuing the ideals of political unrest and anger (Uncle Sam Needs Money) you get dreamy soundscape and entrancing music nestling together.  I can see these tracks sit alongside one another on an E.P. and it will be exciting to see how they fuse with one another.  It is clear there is a lot more potential and music inside Ryan Wilcox.  If you have not heard the new music then make sure you do not overlook it- some of the finest sounds he has ever created, for sure.

Night Wolf is one of those acts that never seems to tire and pause for breath.  In a music world that sees so many short-stay artists do their thing- play a few tracks/E.P.s and then fade away- it is encouraging to see a musician that gets better and bigger.  It is not just the passion and energy that impresses me:  That variation and evolution is stunning to hear.  Having that potential and openness- not bound by particular genres and vocals- you get such rich and variegated sounds.  Every new moment (from Night Wolf) takes you somewhere special and wonderful.  Following the Songs of Travel blog- and the songs that represent each country Wilcox has visited- you imagine all sorts of scenes, streets and people.  Vibing from the beauty and uniqueness of each country:  You get an aural representation of every sight, sound and flavor from that nation.  When listening to his E.P.s; I was amazed by the boundless invention and talent that was brought into every song.  Whether inspired by financial woes and political issues- or problems in love and relationships- our hero always injects so much potential and passion into everything he does.  The Tailsman is another side to a composer/producer that differs from early work- in terms of the sound and inspiration- but retains that distinct and Night Wolf-esaque reach.  You have a composition that encourages the listener to immerse themselves inside the song and imagine what is unfolding.  I am not sure what the exact origin behind the song is- I prefer to leave that to my imagination- but listened to it again and again.  Every new play reveals hidden beauty and possibilities:  A song that evokes a wealth of emotions and ideas.  I have loved reviewing and discovering the past work from the Bedfordshire-based talent.  Wilcox is one of those humans that does not like resting and allowing too much time to past.  Influenced and motivated by everything around him- from different countries to news events- you are guaranteed to hear more Night Wolf work throughout 2016.  With his film scores and work- there are examples being unveiled at the moment- I am sure we will get a new E.P. or album.  What form that will take- maybe a series of numbers based around Songs of Travel or something that harks to past E.P.s- it will be interesting to see what direction Night Wolf takes.  Before ending things here, I wanted to circle to the original points around Chill-out and immersive music; the great producers that are coming through right now.

It might be a bit narrow to call Night Wolf’s music ‘Chill-out’- there are so many genres he mixes into the music- but you certainly gets music that elicits emotion and a response.  It is quite daring presenting music that is compositional and encourages the listener to think deeply.  The modern scene has that fixation with great vocals and band music:  Night Wolf seems like a renegade that is making music that balks trend and seems more credible for doing so.  There are so few genuinely wonderful musicians emerging that separate themselves from the mainstream and go much deeper.  What Night Wolf does- and has been doing for years now- is create soundscapes that have that chilled and ambience to them.  You get emotions and passions coming through:  There are energy and raw emotions that provoke all manner of thoughts and scenarios.  The Tailsman is another insight into a fascinating talent with no limitations.  The reason I have followed Night Wolf so closely is the originality and variation he provides.  Each Night Wolf song takes you into the music and allows your mind to drift and imagine.  I hear so few musicians that involve the listener and really provide that depth and detail.  Night Wolf tracks have that colour and majesty in every moment.  If you are looking for something that distances itself from the disposable nature of music- those artists you know will not stick around long- you need to get involved with Ryan Wilcox’s alter ego.  He is one of the finest producers around and stands above his peers.  There are some near-genius producers working across music- from the club D.J.s to those scoring films and T.V. – but Wilcox seems to have his own niche and sound.  Having appeared on B.B.C. Three Counties several times; various artists lending their voices to the music:  Just what can the rest of this year give to Night Wolf?  Well, it is sure to be another busy and productive one from our hero.  I hope those social media numbers get themselves rising- he deserves a lot more attention and supporters- and will be enthralled to see where this rare and special talent goes next.  The Tailsman is on SoundCloud now and is joined by Jester Hill and Uncle Sam Needs Money.  With each song title, you can probably arrive at your own conclusions.  When you listen to the music- and let those compositions get inside the head- you might change your views or discover new potential.  That is the mark of a truly great musician/producer:  Someone who can keep surprising and prompting you to revisit the songs time and time again.  Ensure you investigate The Tailsman and let its beauty and power get inside the mind.  Once you do…

IT may never get away.



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INTERVIEW: Dexter Krenal of Meat Loving Vegans





Dexter Krenal of Meat Loving Vegans



THERE are a lot of quite false and fake artists playing at the minute…

that all sound alike.  So many musicians are playing very samey and uninspired sounds- that clone others and show such little personality.  In interviews, some artists give very little value and fascination.  Meat Loving Vegans are a London-based band that cannot be accused of being boring and predictable.  Fusing some classic Punk sounds with British and U.S. contemporaries:  You have music that is sure to elicit a very positive response.

The boys are preparing to release a new album- following on from Lost in Fiction– only a few months after their debut.  Promising new direction and familiar strands:  I was keen to catch up and see what was in store.  Frontman Dexter Krenal gives us a glimpse into the band’s unique chemistry; the plans they have for 2016- which artists and bands inspire Meat Loving Vegans…


Hi Dexter.  I hope you are well.  How has your week been?

Cheers Sam mate.  I’ve been busy as fuck – 3 gigs, 2 rehearsals; a day recording demos with the band- working my botty off in my bar job (the worst was a 13-hour shift yesterday!).  Not for much longer though (my last shift is this Saturday).  Boozing and not sleeping much.  I’m paying for overdoing it, though.  I’m buried in sheets in my girlfriend’s attic/room gorging on tea, smoking roll-ups and feeling like death.

For those new to the music of Meat Loving Vegans:  Can you define it?

Bit of a toughie that really, coz it’s a massive blend of loads of stuff.  I add the hard-hitting British, working-class, Punk-Rock/Alternative vibe:  James (keys) is a Jazz fiend; Sam (drums) comes up with some really cool, weird shit (the Eno of the band); Matt (bass) comes from a Classical background which helps us hold it all together.  I think left to me, James and Sam it’d be the musical equivalent of an epileptic fit… On steroids.

Looking back at 2015:  Which memories stand in the mind as particular highlights?

Finishing the debut album (Lost In Fiction) – mostly by myself (although I did have some help)- putting the band together and doing loads of shit gigs.  Now I listen back to the record, I hear what I wanna do differently next time.  Same looking back on the gigs:  I know what needs to happen to take it up a notch.  Was (overall) a real good time honing our craft; doing what we love.

Meat Loving Vegans’ sound has echoes of Blur, The Clash and Punk greats.  Which artists and musicians were important to you growing up?

Too many to mention!  The first proper run-in I had with music was my grandad playing his old Jazz records- he mainly got them from New York when he was in the navy.  The music would really piss my nan off, which I thought was hilarious!  Then in school, I had to sing David Bowie’s Life on Mars in assembly, which I loved too.  But what really got the ball rolling was my mate James.  We’d skive off school, smoke fags; drink some vodka we’d nick off our parents; listen to Guns N’ Roses and try to play along.  Was fucking great!  Then, I found the Sex Pistols a bit later on which made me realise you don’t have to be the prettiest player/singer:  What REALLY matters is the message and the energy.  Was no stopping me from there!

On that note:  Which modern-day artists are inspiring you?  Any you would recommend to people?

Yeah.  I’m actually getting into quite a lot of newer stuff at the minute, which is cool.  For ages, I couldn’t find fucking ANYTHING that I liked!  I played with these two bands- Sleaze and Sex Cells– at the Windmill in Brixton last Friday.  They were both really cool.  Slaves, Misty Miller, Black Honey; Tess Parks, Fat White Family; King Krule, Mac DemarcoThe Brian Jonestown Massacre keep pumping out amazing new albums- although they started in the ‘90s…

I love the past work of Meat Loving Vegans.  Can we expect some new music sometime soon?

Ya sure can mate!  We’re working on our next album now.  We don’t have don’t have release dates yet but it’s looking like we’ll have a couple of singles out in April- and the album should be out in May.

In terms of your new material:  What subjects/themes have defined its creation?

Well, there’s a lot more depth to the second album.  We’ve tried out some really heavy, crazy stuff.  We’ve also gone further the other way and done some really quiet, dark, trippy stuff too.  It’s all about life in London the way I see it, more-or-less.  Roughing it, drink and drug addiction; the wealthy shitting on the poor; sticking with those that matter (to pull through the dirt).

With reality shows like X Factor dying out- having been removed from the schedules- do you think music is starting to embrace ‘real’ musicians more?

Hurrah!  Let Jah be praised!  Let’s hope that’s the case.  I’d LOVE for that to happen, but I doubt it.  When one crap thing like that’s extinguished there’s normally some wanker with another crap idea and a huge wallet in line ready to fill the gap.

We might end up with a super-charged version of X-Factor blended with Take Me Out.  One where a bunch of contestants desperately run around a room singing Pop cover songs at the top of their voices, half-naked- with the aim of getting a shag whilst simultaneously trying to impress record company executives to give them a multi-million-pound contract.  In fact, I’d watch that.  That actually sounds brilliant!

You live in London- formally a member of the Camden community- and are in the heart of things.  Do you think it is easier for musicians in London to get exposure and gigs?  What are the benefits of living in the capital?

Well, it’s AMAZING and BRUTAL at the same time!  I grew up in this little place daay’n saaa’f (sic.) called Gosport (next to Portsmouth).  Proper community vibe there; everyone mucks in with each other to make the music happen- and some of the stuff people are doing there is really good.  But there’s NO exposure:  Hence, I came to London.  Otherwise, I would’ve been the best guitarist in my bedroom and that’s it.  Here, it’s totally different.   You see incredible guys busting their arse and not getting anywhere; other people you see doing well and think “how the fuck did you get where you are?”’  There are just so many people trying to climb the ladder; everyone’s falling over each other.  But what are the benefits of living in the capital?  If you look for it, there’s some mind-blowing stuff going on- and it makes all the crap that comes along with it worthwhile.

There will be some young artists inspired to follow in your footsteps.  What advice would you give them?

Don’t do it!  Save yourselves!  Hahaha.  No, do it!  No, on a serious note:  I love making music.  It’s rarely easy but it’s so worth it.  So my advice would be:  If you love making music too; forward march brothers and sisters.  Troop on, and shine your light onto the darkness!

You have a good band behind you- James, Sam and Matt play with Dexter – and a tight bond comes through in the songs.  How did you guys meet?

We went to this music college called I.C.M.P.  That was my ticket out of Gosport and up to London, so I took it- although, we didn’t start playing together ‘til we’d pretty much finished.  The four of us are a pretty unlikely mix, to be honest:  James and Sam are like a loving, married from Newcastle; I’m a southern nutter from a council estate and Matt can be quite an argumentative (yet passionate) French/Italian fella.  The common ground we all have is to make great music; so it works.

If you guys could put together a ‘dream line-up’- of acts and musicians past and present- into your own festival; who would appear on that list?

I don’t know if anyone would show up if we put that on; it’d be mental!  I’d have a bunch of in-your-face Alternative/Rock/Punk; Lo-Punk/lo-fi bands like Slaves and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.   James would follow that with some Jazz guys like Charlie Parker (if he had resurrecting capabilities).  Sam would shake it up even more with some experimental stuff:  Like having Eno play discordant stuff on a synth with his photography being projected like strobes.  Then Matt would confidently stroll up to headline, armed with a bloody orchestra to finish it!  We’d get killed!

I always love to find what inspires musicians’ songs and creative spurts.  What inspires Meat Loving Vegans when it comes to writing new music?

It can be all sorts, really.  It’s so cliché but it’s true:  You never know what’s going to come into your head or when.  Sometimes, I’ll be listening to a lot of a certain artist and end up having an idea come into my head that’s a similar vibe.  Other times, I’ll be thinking of something and a tune will just arrive.  I’ve woken up at stupid hours of the night with a song and had to jot it down before I can get back to sleep.

It usually starts with me writing the basic track then taking it to the band:  They put their stamp on it and we go from there.  I’ve written a couple of the band’s ideas recently which is new.  I’m always late to practice (sorry guys) which gave them a chance to jam this really cool, trippy idea- it ended up becoming Purple Shores on the new record.  It made me think of being a teenager:  Slightly stoned/merry on the beach back home with my mates.  It ended up becoming what the song was about.  Another was when James went to the toilet for …business… and that made me think of all the shit stuff that happens in London.  Out came the song Only in Bloody London (again, going to be on the new album).

Music means a lot of things to different people.  What does it mean to you (and the band)?

Sanity!  Without it, I’d lose the plot.  I was always looking for a way to express myself when I was younger; I had all sorts of weird hobbies.  One was writing poems onto parchment paper with a quill:  Dipped in Indian ink and sealing it with wax and a stamp (as if I lived in the early 19th century).  A nutter from birth!  So lucky I found music (or that it found me).

Finally- and for being a good egg- you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…

Nice one geeza!  Since we mentioned Gosport earlier, let’s go with The Ballad of Gosport.  There ain’t nowhere like home…




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