TRACK REVIEW: The fin.- Through the Deep



The fin.



Through the Deep





Through the Deep is available at:

April 29th 2016



Kobe, Japan

The E.P., Through the Deep, is available from June 3rd:


Lost in the Manor


Joe Lambert


White Breath


Through the Deep


Anchorless Ship

Night Time (Petite Noir Remix)


Divers; Through the Deep; Anchorless Ship


Through the Deep 


THIS review marks a bit of a milestone for me…

as this is my first Japan-based review. Such a large and populous nation: I am shocked this is my first Japanese band. I know the country has such a rich and busy music culture: rarely, do we get to see too many Japanese acts make their way to our shores. Before getting to my featured act: it is worth looking at the music coming out of Japan; the genre, Dream-Pop- focusing on what the rest of this year holds. Whether you have heard of Dir En Grey and The’s: Maximum the Hormone or The Pillows- Japan has created some seriously great acts. Arashi and An Café can be added to this- rather long- list. Many of- when thinking about Japanese music- get two ideas in our head. We think of Heavy-Metal and Rock: heavy and hard bands that leave little to the imagination. A lot of people- rightly, to a degree- think of Japan as quirky, strange and bizarre- there are many Japanese musicians whose music reflects that stereotype. While Japan does things differently- and has a unique way of life- that is not to say we should assume stereotypes and clichés. In the same way Britain is not a stiff-upper-lipped, repressed nation of red phone boxes, posh-speaking toffs and chimney-sweeping East Londoners: Japan is not a country filled with neon-lit signs and head-melting oddness- there is subtlety, beauty and grace to be discovered. If we label a nation- thinking we have their number- then it closes the imagination and limits our expectations. In the same way, U.S. perceptions of Britain is way off the mark- very few Americans bother to visit us- we are just as naïve about Japan. While I have listed some awesome acts- that play things with grit and anger- the likes of Jinn, Luna Sea and Nightmare (a trio of Rock acts) are not the ‘norm.’ Japanese Pop music- or ‘J-Pop’ as it’s known- is its own culture. Country Girls and Buono!; Juice=Juice and Dream- just a few names (among dozens) that have made Japanese Pop music synonymous with invention, quality, and originality. I am a big fan of Perfume’s blend of Bubblegum-Pop and Synthpop: I love their bright fashions and instantaneous songs. In that spirit: Morning Museume are one of the freshest- and most distinct- girl groups in Japan.

It is great discovering The fin. They are a band you know will transcend to the big leagues and travel the globe. Before I carry on, let me introduce them to you:

Hailing from the vibrant Japanese port city of Kobe, The fin. are a reputed and singular attraction in their homeland due to their stylish Europhile blend of synth-pop, chillwave and dream-pop, complete with English lyrics addressing universal themes of everyday uncertainties. Often referenced alongside the likes of Beach House, Phoenix, Metronomy and M83, the quartet have, since forming in 2012, performed before thousands of rapturous fans at major Japanese festivals including Fuji Rock, Rising Sun and Viva La Rock. Not content with such acclaim in one country alone, Yuto Uchino (vocals and synths), Ryosuke Odagaki (guitar), Takayasu Taguchi (bass) and Kaoru Nakazawa (drums) set their sights worldwide and in 2015 embarked on a major tour of the US, which included a performance at SXSW, before making their first forays into Britain with a handful of dazzling shows in support of their debut UK EP, ‘Night Time’. Their much-anticipated return to these shores this spring comes in the wake of a second British release and a growing recognition that there’s an act of rare, sophisticated beauty creating a big noise in the East. It’s time to turn your gaze to The fin.

There’s a theme running through the beauteous new EP by The fin. that permeates more than just the song titles. Oceanic imagery features heavily in Yuto Uchino’s lyrics, as references to ship, shore and submersion loom large. The singer articulates these tales of impermanence and transition to a shimmering, sophisticated indie art-pop backing that will be familiar to fin. fans, even though there’s a greater electronic influence to this EP, as synths carry more of the weight, melodically and rhythmically.

Opener ‘White Breath’ builds on its vehement piano/vocal intro to envelop a cropped hypnotic groove with springy keyboard stabs, dubby fx and, of course, Uchino’s soaring harmonies. “I saw you jumped into the sea/What could you see from there?” the singer then questions to the symphonic arpeggios of ‘Divers’, set to a characteristically minimalist beat and crunchy bassline that segues into a second act of controlled yet quietly euphoric trance-pop.

The title track, ‘Through The Deep’ opens with a swell of surf guitar and thump of percussive kick drum that evolves into a stylish, deceptively complex composition that hums with sonic exploration and an ambient energy that will only tease the listener with its brevity. Even shorter is the 67 seconds of ‘Heat’, which finds The fin. at their most stripped down, just a wash of sine-waves, a sparkling melodic refrain and Yuto’s distinctive tones proclaiming the sudden onset of intensity. Finally, ‘Anchorless Ship’ is a modest masterwork of smooth, uncluttered funk built on a sustained pulse resembling the sonar ping of a submarine’s radar. A wash of synth then announces a change of course towards the tune’s expansive, ecstatic coda, as Yuto sings about deeper immersion in dreams.

The compelling video to ‘Through The Deep’ depicts a colourful traveller in a post-apocalyptic landscape, who happens upon a decrepit fairground and its ageing inhabitant. It’s a video full of grace, space and mystique, and as such is the perfect accompaniment to the ethereal wonder of The fin.’s new EP.

The band is in the U.K. at the moment. Tonight, they are in Brighton: taking part in The Great Escape 2016. They take on Tooting Tram and Social on 26th– visiting Hull in the meantime. After that, the band visits Portsmouth: they head back to Japan in June. The Kobe-born band mixes English lyrics with a Japanese sensibility: ensuringng they translate across the globe and have a wide fan-base. There are Japanese acts that sing in Japanese: there is that danger they will not be fully appreciated by the English-speaking world. The fin. have no such issues: their fan numbers are rising and their stock is rising. Going against expectations and predictions: Yuto Uchino, Ryosuke Odagaki; Takayasu Taguchi and Kaoru Nakazawa mix J-Pop with something more European (U.S. flavours in there). We in the U.K. have our share of Dream-Pop artists: it is a delight to see a Japanese act come through with similar sensibilities and ideas. That is not to say The fin. are westernised and betray their roots- Japan has a growing number of Dream-Pop acts. Sugarplant and Lemon’s Chair are a couple of acts that you should seek: showing just what Japanese musicians can do. The fin. are able to unveil Through the Deep (released on June 3rd) and its title track is seducing a lot of people. I have been lucky to receive the E.P. – one of the first to hear it in full- and can pay testament to the stun and beauty throughout.

Through the Deep’s title track is available on YouTube– complete with a gorgeous and unique video- and has gained a lot of praise. Whether you see The fin. as dreamy and surreal; hazy and pretty- few people will come to the same conclusion. Such is the strength of their music: so many different emotions and adjectives reveal themselves. Through the Deep opens with a shimmering and endeavouring sound. The guitar shivers and vibrates- oceanic and land-straddling- whilst a heartbeat-like percussion drips with emotion. After seeing the song’s title- and hearing the initial notes- I get impressions of self-actualisation and discovery: a band that is looking for answers and looking to brighter skies. The song’s composition does nothing to dispel that assumption. Yuto Uchino wanted The fin. to be seen as borderless and without boundaries- not rigidly defined and clear-cut. Through the Deep sees a haphazard wandered stumble upon a (abandoned and desolate) fairground (the video).

That light-and-shade contrast can be found in the first phases. Whilst the song’s video sees a wide-eyed girl run to the fair: the song’s lyrics look at “emptiness” and sentimentality. The fin. are masterful when it comes to emotional outpouring and meaning. They are revelatory and open yet always keep the full truth inside. Through the Deep could be seen in a number of different ways. Perhaps it is a tale of finding love and direction in life. You can see it as a general assessment of solitude and pain- each listener will have their own views. One thing that cannot be disputed is the unadulterated beauty and emotion that explodes from the speakers. Even when insular and self-examining: The fin. are a stunning and constantly engaging and mesmeric. You get vibes of The xx- whatever happened to them?!- and something cinematic and twilight. We hear of ships “with no destination” that are “drifting on the waves”- themes that run through the E.P. as a whole. I was thinking about a break-up and distance in a relationship. Maybe the duo- if it is taken from personal memories- are going through the motions and seem rather fragmented. There is that desire to rekindle an old spark or find common ground- knowing that things will never be as they were. Such evocative music calls for deep analysis and speculation- well, from my standpoint it does- and you cannot help but imagine and conspire. Before the half-way mark; the vocals become more unified- colour and layers come together- as the beat (that heartbeat pound) become more defined and clear. Elongated, stridulated electronics fuse with ocean-side waves- the resultant cocktail is one that cannot be beaten. Few bands are as astonishing and talented as The fin. There are a lot of Dream-Pop examples on the market: few have the originality and authority of Kobe’s masters.

When The fin. released their debut E.P. Glowing On the Red Shore– around the same time as their L.P.- they were fighting against being on the outside. Unconventional and brave: the Japanese band have never had the full backing of the media and movers-and-shakers. Through the Deep’s self-titled anthem sees them in uncompromising and dazzling mood. You will be hard-pressed to discover a song as gorgeous and fascinating. The band has grown in popularity in Japan- although they weren’t a couple of years back- but write music that has international appeal. They do not stick to J-Pop moulds and limitations: their music breaks beyond Japan and is intended for the wider world. Having traveled the globe- across the U.S. and Europe- The fin. have picked up a lot of inspiration and influence on the road. Through the Deep is an intense and fleshed-out diamond that shines with determination. Uchino demonstrates what an extraordinary visionary he is- the rest of the band take a back seat when it comes to songwriter- and what a talent he possesses. Awash with reverb and soulful vocals: they evoke so much emotion with so few instruments. The keyboard and percussion are matched with subtle guitar strings- a veritable painting unfolds before your ears. Through the Deep is a song that could mean everything and nothing: a look at love, life and death; each person will take something new and special (from the song). By the end notes, you sit back and struggle to capture everything- you need to come back to get a full reign on the song. Although the quartet have not fully captured the Japanese mindset- there is a need (in Japan) to quickly release songs; lest you leave things too long- they are a huge hit overseas. When they return home- and finish touring- they hit the studio for album number two. It will be exciting to see how far the guys can go. They have such a bond and talent on-board: few other acts are as consistent and limitless than them. Through the Deep shows just what a force of nature The fin. is. They have few equals and no limitations: by freeing constraints; they allow their imaginations and thoughts to run free, unhindered.

The fin. released Days With Uncertainty in 2014 and showed how formed and united they were. The 11-track album sported no weak moments and possessed a huge amount of diversity and urgency. Even at their dreamiest and most seductive points: the band was fully capable of stealing the breath; taking you somewhere (almost) spiritual. Forward two years- with a bit of music in the interim- and there is a blend of evolution and consistency. The band has not changed their sound too much- they didn’t need to- but sound more confident and adventurous than before. Sonically, they employ more risks and have expanded their palette- the same goes for the subject matter and themes. The performances are tighter and the vocals contain more emotion, layers and nuance. What we have- with Through the Deep– is an E.P. that will please existing fans- able to recruit plenty of new followers. White Breath is awash with swooning vocals and layers of sound: the track is an instant energy-burst and takes you by surprise. The beauty-assault grabs you by the scruff and demands your attention. One of the band’s only- forgivable and understandable- weaknesses is the accessibility of the vocals. Being Japanese: their English vocals can suffer some indecipherability and clarity loss. That is a minor quibble inside music that is more about mood and feel- the concision and lyrics are almost second-nature. You get embers and waves of ‘60s sunshine: Psychedelia and melancholy entwine in a rapturous and cohabitate bond that sparks with life and lust. The casual listener will be enthralled by the goosebumps-inducing vocals and dreaminess: those more serious will appreciate the subtle composition: one that adds extra emotion and grandeur to the track. The guitars flick with subtlety: the electronics buzz and burble- the percussion drives things; the bass packs plenty of groove and kick. That blend of expression, rhythm and purity combines in a stunning opening track.

  Divers begins with a more gradual and subtle pace. The electronics start to rise: leading to a very ‘Japanese’ sound. When hearing the cascading electronics: your mind is transported across the oceans to the city of Kobe (Japan’s sixth-largest). That contrast of mountains and the metropolis come together: the rush and crowds; the space and fresh air of the open. Listening to the- entrancing and elliptical- electronics and you swim in a very pleasing and warm sea. The percussion claps and slaps: the waterfall-sounding ‘tronics flow and smile. The band pulls all their key strengths together. The harmonious vocals- the blend of male and female tones is a pleasing contrast; a consistent high- and twanging bass ensure Divers drives and swoons- a verbal embodiment of the song’s ideals and values. Whilst lyrics look at ocean depths and discovery: the band take your mind with the song; allow the listener to become ensconced in its tenderness. The fin. display their incredible musicianship throughout the song. The bass features prominently- a pounding and bouncing centrifuge- while those electronics continue to evoke chills and sunshine. Mixing ‘60s-Pop with something modern and city-bound: one of the highlights from Through the Deep.

   Heat sweeps into life with an intent and direct vocal. The band layer the voices to create something heavenly and brief- the song is the shortest on the E.P. (1:07). Showing how economical the band is- they do not allow any track to outstay its welcome- you get a song that is by-no-means a filler- it is one of the most beautiful pieces on the E.P. Mysterious and wise- the lyrics could be taken literally; perhaps attest a romance- the listener will have their own take on the song. Sometimes the band’s vocals get buried underneath the compositions- that clarity issue- but, once more, there is more emphasis on the complete sound. Judging it on pure motives and merits: Heat showcases how effective the four-piece is. Few groups are able to write a 77-second song that puts so much emotion and evocation together.

  Anchorless Ship is (perhaps the E.P.’s) most direct and hard-hitting song. The light-baring and sunny vibes are there: everything is tighter, louder and firmer. The electronics plink and flash- rather than stretching and flowing- and there is an underlying fear and uncertainty. The song’s title suggests a rudderless and lost soul: someone floating in the ocean without gravity and destination. For that reason: the vocals are more one-dimensional and distilled. It would be disappointing to discover an E.P. where every song sounded the same: each track has its own soul and way of working. Anchorless Ship is the most unique and distinguished song from Through the Deep. The band’s most ‘serious’ revelation:  there is still playfulness and comfort to be found. That combination of electronics-and-percussion (with some mean and cool bass) sticks in the head. A regimental march that builds momentum as time elapses: a powerful swan-song that will want you desiring more (such is the definition of a truly great E.P.). Anchorless Ship moves through different stages and movements. After the tense and introspective opening: a building- delirious and cinematic- middle unfurls its wings. At first, the electronics hop and jump- an innocence and sense of playfulness- before it fizzes and bursts into life. The band raise the stakes and inject everything they have into the song. The bass swaggers and dances: the vocals become more defined and deep- a beautiful blend of ‘80s Synth.-Pop and modern—day J-Pop.

A few weeks ago: I did not know who The fin. were. It has been wonderful unravelling and inspecting a stunning and dream-like band. The fact they hail from Japan makes it much richer and interesting. I love getting stuck into London music and the sounds of the U.K. We should all support our home-grown artists and what is happening on our doorsteps- not forgetting to promulgate the best international sounds. It has been so long since I have been in Asian waters: the last review (in this continent) was when I assessed Indian artist, Antriksh Bali. It is not often I get to go beyond Europe and North America- Australia is a rare treat- and witness a great act that is producing stunning music. The world of music has become poorer over this year. With the loss of so many great artists- from David Bowie and Prince- we look to the new generation for inspiration and guidance. Whilst we might never witness those kind of titans emerge: that is not to say music, in general, cannot inspire and amaze.

As listeners/purveyors: we are too defined and restrained with regards musical experimentation (besides those who really have a burning passion). I would never have thought to check-out a Japanese Dream-Pop band- luckily I am in a position where these kind of musicians come to my attention. From this serendipitous discovery: I have been compelled to investigate Japanese music and the acts coming through. The fin. have set tongues wagging with the track, Through the Deep. The same-named E.P. will get the senses tingling and buzzing. A five-track (plus a remix) shows what consistency and talent is in The fin. camp. The bond- between the players and instruments- results in some of the most scenic and soul-baring music you can imagine. I will keep an eye on the Kobe-based band and what we can expect. I have not been able to see them this time- they head back to Japan in the coming weeks- but I will check them out when they return to these isles. The future is looking very bright for them. They could have a residency in the U.Ss or Australia- two nations that embrace the kind of music they play- and the U.K. has been gobbling them up like sweets. If you are unfamiliar with the quartet- and I’m guessing you will be- then check out their single, Through the Deep. When their E.P. arrives (in a few days) grab it and let its magic entrance you. That is one of the beauties of the music industry: there is so many variation and unexpectedness out there. With Japan’s The fin…

THEY epitomise that statement… and some!



Follow The fin.










TRACK REVIEW: Kindest of Thieves- Wanda



Kindest of Thieves








Wanda is available at:

Americana-Blues; Ragtime; Roots Music


Leeds, U.K.

The E.P., Cul-De-Sac, is available via:



White Feather

Bones to the Gurney

Baudelaire Black

Want You Something Rotten


Wanda; Baudelaire Black; Want You Something Rotten




OVER the next couple of days, I am reviewing everyone from a…

Japanese band to a Germanic solo artist- with some Trance/Electro. music thrown into the mix. You cannot say music lacks variety and range. My featured act- before I formally introduce him- embodies charm and originality. In modern music, there is that need and desire to be ‘ultra-modern’: sound of-the-moment and urgent. Consumers are not as predictable (as many artists) assume. The charts and mainstream are filled with artists that are like-minded, staid and overly-familiar: modern-sounding but without much distinction and colour. I would like to see more artists look back at the past and incorporate that into their music. There are musicians that blend decades and genres into their sounds: to my mind, even that can be limited and tame. Maybe it is seen as ‘uncool’ to revert to past days: it is 2016, so why would we want to hear something based out of the ‘50s, for instance? Well: consider this. Music (as we hear it today) did not just come out of nowhere: it has evolved over time and owes a debt to the early Blues masters of the ‘20s and ‘30s. The only reason music stands the test of time- and has mutated through the years- is from that initial basis. Who knows whether we would have a music industry at all were it not for those bygone performers? The best and most innovative albums/songs have drawn from a variety of sources and sounds. We cannot just look at music and assume it should all sound chart-ready and instantly digestible. The greatest albums of 2016- James Blake’s The Colour in Anything and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool– were/are packed with sonic innovation, changeable moods and stunning invention. The Pop charts are far too flaccid, rigid and distilled. I yearn for artists that put something interesting and unique into music. Christopher J. Fox- not the most eloquent way of introducing someone- deftly manages to be ultra-modern and vintage at the same time. He is a one-man-band of force and beauty. Taking his inspiration from an array of genres- Blues, Ragtime; Folk, Gypsy-Swing- we have an artist that certainly stands out from the crowds.

It is with pleasure- perhaps invariably- that my attentions return to Leeds- can never seem to escape the darned place! Having moved to Leeds- born in Manchester- Kindest of Thieves (Fox’s mysterious alter ego) has found a natural home. The Yorkshire hotspot is synonymous with embracing retro. music. Over the years, everyone from Electro.-Swing revivalist Little Violet- A.K.A., Cherie Gears- and The Holcombe Family String Band (sadly defunct) have come under my radar. I am not sure what it is about the city that breeds such a wave of rare musicians. While the likes of London and L.A. have a variation of acts: Leeds seems to surpass them all. With a lot of bands calling time- lack of popularity or the pressures of the game- we need to start paying attention to artists that are worthy and have the potential to last. I was sad to see The Holcombe Family String Band- a similarly-quirky and brilliant Leeds bands- disband recently. Their Hokum-cum-Ragtime sounds possessed swing, flair and something innocent. Looking back at simpler days: the group combined the romance of the past with modern production values and ideas. Kindest of Thieves does things in a similar manner. He (Fox) dips into the music’s past and shines up some (long-forgotten) sounds: stylising them and adding shine. Keeping faithful to the original text- making sure the genres still have their soul and heart- we get something eclectic, electric and new. It is like going into a fashion boutique. Kindest of Thieves scours the racks for various colours, fabrics and styles: experiments- with age and design- to come up with something dazzling and unexpected. Perhaps that was a little pretentious of me, but you know what I mean? He is a mixology and cocktail-making machine; he’s an innovator and risk-taking musician: however you see Kindest of Thieves you cannot deny this: there are few other acts that do things the same way! Before progressing- drilling down to the music and Cul-De-Sac– I am always impressed by a musician that can take things into their own hands. The musicians that impress me most are those that can transgress the biggest problem of (in my opinion) today’s music: the lack of ownership and personality.

So many artists are committee-written and have packs of writers on their albums. Even Beyoncé- an artist whose album Lemonade documented her rage at Jay Z (her ill-advised and disloyal husband)- had so many cooks in the kitchen. That vexed me somewhat. Why would you put something so personal onto record and have other people write it? Beyoncé is a woman who is capable of writing a song: does she need a dozen other people to make her (personal and distinct) messages come to life? If you are not able to write music yourself- or need a glut of producers to help you out- then you should not be in the game to start with. Those who have the talent and capacity to create music- from the initial germ to the finished product- gain my respect and adulation- regardless of the resultant quality. Kindest of Thieves is an artist I have been watching closely for a number of months now. Fox impresses me with his passion and authority of older-days music. Cul-De-Sac is a five-track E.P. that takes us to the ‘40s and ‘50s: a slight detour to the U.S.; a saunter to the northern coasts of the U.K. That is why Kindest of Thieves resonates and affects: you get so many places, decades, and genres in a single song. We need to start appreciating the musicians that want to keep history alive. Those ignored and overlooked types of music- Ragtime, for instance- deserve respect. At Cul-De-Sac’s heart is something contemporary and ‘today’. The songs combine a D.I.Y. charm with something slick and professional. If you have not followed Christopher Fox’s imaginative machinations: you owe yourself the opportunity to discover something rare and brilliant.

The Taxidermist (the E.P. released in September 2015 showed what a talent we had in our midst. The three-track record laid-out Fox’s stunning imagination, workmanship and wordplay- the way he could entwine personalities and portray love in a new and unexpected way. A fine and astonishing work: Cul-De-Sac expands that (early) promise and turns it up a notch. Right from the very first song: you are captivated and hooked. Whilst other songs (across the E.P.) have some oblique edges and mystery- not directly aimed at a particular person- Wanda is one of the most heartfelt and clear songs on the E.P. Our man wakes up to the morning and begins Wanda with bleary-eyed charm and rouse. If you thought Wanda was a pure and dedicated love song: there is teeth and humour to be found. The hero does not wake to “your leather hands”. Right there, you might imagine an ‘older’ female in the song- perhaps a misguided tryst- or someone that is not a typical heroine. The morning has come and there seem to be regrets and mistakes made. With any Kindest of Thieves songs: right from the off you start to get imagining and conspiring. My mind went to a sunlit bedroom- a small room in a quiet town- where our man is tip-toeing and collecting his clothes. Maybe my mind is starting shallow: there might be something more innocent and chaste at heart. The composition instantly evokes the glory-days of Ragtime and early Blues. Christopher Fox is a musician that has surrounded himself with old vinyls: you can imagine him spending evenings sat, embroiled in scratchy 45s- needle-jumping records from U.S. Blues champions and British Ragtime bands. With each passing second, the smile broadens on the face. The rather ‘uncontoured’ breasts and supple wrists are matched by a questionable girth: our boy’s bed has been ground to the floor- the mattress is getting a severe workout. In a year where love songs either sound sworded and seedy- drizzled in sweat and tongue- or distant: here, we have something charming (a word that will be used frequently in this review) and funny. Whatever caused this comical mismatch: you cannot help but jump into the song and imagine the parties in the morning. Fox is a man that has regrets and pain- having been struck in the eyes with various (loose-fitting) body parts- and is documenting his ill-fated congress. Compelled and energised by the spirited composition- it keeps cherry and heel-clicking right the way through- every listener will come away (listening to the song) with images and words bouncing around the brain. Wanda seems like a girl blighted by age, weight and gravity-defying size- someone that could appear in the pages of Viz. While our man stands back and assesses the wreckage- both metaphorical and literal, it seems- there is never any malice or cruelty.

Wanda has that old-skool Ealing comedy vibe to it: there is tongue-in-cheek and wit brimming to the surface. The cruel mistress- bedecked in furs and strange fashions- cause shivers for our hero. It would be great to know what motivated the song to come to life. With every Kindest of Thieves song: you know there must be some back-story to it. Wanda seems like a song that could only exist in the ‘30s and ‘40s- few modern-day writers have such a storytelling talent. Maybe Fox shared a bed with someone unglamorous and cruel: translating and modifying that experience into something vintage and humorous. Whatever the inspiration for Wanda: it is the perfect way to kick-start Cul-De-Sac. Nobody will be able to resist the spirited performance and stunningly pure vocal from Fox. I had to listen to Wanda a few times to let those words and scenes seep into the mind. The first listen was dedicated to embracing the oddity and quirkiness of things. Repeated spins saw me get into the lyrics and really dig deep. Even now- upon the fifth time- there is some mystery beneath the surface. The hero can “barely stand no more”- of the romance or life in general? – and he wonders how Wanda manages to carry on. By the two-minute mark, the song reaches its peak: the vocal is at its most inflamed; the strings sharpen and spin. Wanda consists of few original lines- codas and ideas are repeated for maximum effect- but that shows the economy and skill of Fox’s writing. He manages to make such a compelling and busy song with very few lyrics. The commitment of the performance and wide-eyed sense of surprise makes Wanda a real winner. It is a wonderful introduction to Cul-De-Sac and its finest moment.

After immersing myself in the likes of Radiohead, James Blake and Yak (there artists that are filling my head with all sorts of pleasure) I needed to step away from them and embrace something different- give my mind a chance to discover something new and lesser-heard. Kindest of Thieves- aside from the clever name- is a name you should familiarise yourself with. Other, similar-natured artists have (sadly) split: I feel Christopher Fox will not have the same problem. His social media numbers are solid: he is gaining new supporters by the week. There is a loyal band of fans that follow and cherish everything (Kindest of Thieves) does. The next gig- for those interested- will be the Warrington Music Festival. Fox is staying local at the moment: keeping himself in the north, at the very least. I would love to see him come down to London and play some gigs around here. I know there will be venues and pubs that would love to host him- clubs and spots that would go crazy for his music. That said, areas like Brighton would readily embrace the quixotic and heart-melting music- potential and possibilities around the U.K. Right now, Fox will be concentrating on the E.P. and ensuring people hear it. If you head over to his BandCamp page- the link is at the bottom of this review- you can hear the E.P. in full. Cul-De-Sac packs so much story and substance across its five songs. White Feather– one of the barest and most ‘live-sounding’ tracks on the record- begins with finger-picking and a delightful rush.

Compelling you to tap feet and get moving: the song spares no time in being aloof and wallflower-like. I am unsure whether white feather- the subject of the song- is a current sweetheart or a dream. “I want to take it out on you” and “perversion disrobes you” paint something dark and disturbed- other lyrics look at something more heartfelt and passionate. With every line of the song, the listener starts to imagine scenes and possibilities. Fox delivers the words with such passion and strength- marking himself as one of the most underrated singers in British music- ensuring White Feather sticks in the mind.  I was thinking about love and romance: maybe a particular girl is in mind; someone that is quixotic and strange; you never quite know the absolute truth. Kindest of Thieves is an act that combines mystery and direct: every song has layers and room for interpretation. White Feather has such an effusive kick and swagger to it: no listener will be immune to the rush and energy of the song. Fox grumbles, growls and rises (with operatic splendor): encompassed in gentle notes and a seaside-adjacent scene- embittered and affected by the “cold and rainy weather”. His heroine has a war within her- she seems quite restrained and bottled-up- whilst the hero wants something more explosive and expressionist. Maybe I have got my theory wrong: perhaps the ‘white feather’ is more a concept or emotion- perhaps something intangible and more theoretic. It takes a number of plays for the song to reveal its truths: when it does, you will be hooked on its unique blend flavor.

Bones to the Gurney swims, swallows and lurches into view. A drunken merriment brings the song to life. Again, you wonder whether love is in the midst: perhaps our man is looking at an object or chattel. Bones’ possess one of the most complete and busy compositions across Cul-De-Sac. There is rambling, train-hoping brass sounds; punchy and tight percussion- heartfelt acoustic strumming. This one-man-band puts such originality, invention and beauty into the music. An accomplished and intuitive musician: Fox displays an affection and understanding of everything he performs. A musician that has one foot in the past- the ‘40s and ‘50s especially- and one in 2016- there are few musicians quite like him. Bones to the Gurney puts thoughts and ideas into the imagination, no doubt. Our hero wants to be looked over one last time: perhaps a romantic supplication or something different? With every line, you wonder whether romance is being documented- Fox keeps his cards close to chest. Listening to Bones to the Gurney and it is like you are in the room with Kindest of Thieves. Listeners are brought directly into the listening experience- without periphery and baubles- and you are fully immersed in the song.

Baudelaire Black starts with a racing kick: getting off to the races with no thoughts of walking or calm. Strings twirl and nod- almost Grecian or Hispanic in their sound- whilst our hero wipes blood from his body (again, you wonder just what he gets up to in his spare time) his heroine wears a startling dress- the colour, Baudelaire black. Charles Boudelaire was a French poet (1821-1867) who remains one of the most influential essayists and art critics ever. Given that context: you start to imagine various scenarios and ideas. Baudelaire Black is (actually) one of the most straightforward and direct songs on the E.P. It is about a heroine- someone that is quite exotic yet relatable- wearing a dangerous smile. Fox makes sure his voice is compelling and impassioned to the very last note. Representing a heartfelt- if somewhat odd- love note: you picture the heroine and the exchanges that take place. My mind- and yours will be- was taken back to the 1940s- the juke-joints of the U.S.: where cigarette smoke fills the air and the hat-wearing suave lean against the bar- maybe I need to stop watching so many old films! One of the most stunning tracks on Cul-De-Sac– second, only to Wanda– and you have to tip your cap to Kindest of Thieves. Over the course of three minutes (and two seconds) you are taking into a dazzling mini-epic with anti-heroines and blood-shed: double-cross and deceit; head-spinning strings and something spider web-alluring beauty.

Want You Something Rotten brims with northern charm and accent. Even pronouncing the song: you will do so with a distinct accent and angle. Even before the song starts, I get images of ‘40s music hall stars with ukuleles: ditties about special girls and lampposts (got to stop listening to George Formby so much!). The track begins with our man at his most helpful: he has been “teaching slaves to kneel” and sets his sights on the girl. The hero has been lonely and lost for a little while: he needs something fulfilling and exciting- he is setting his mind on getting the girl. With a busy and special mind: the boy is not going to relent or demure. Once more, Fox combines a bedroom-made sound- again; you are in the room with him- with exceptional musicianship and dedication. The vocal brims with spark and urgency: the composition combines contrasting emotions and sounds; a compendium of dance, fever and exhilaration. By the closing moments, the listener has taken in so much. The words tumble and you envisage the conversations taking place. The music gets the body motivated and the senses primed: one of those songs that’s destined for the live crowds. Want You Something Rotten has a singalong quality that would translate brilliantly to larger audiences. Whether Kindest of Thieves sticks to intimate, home-based crowds- or expands the horizons to something more intimidating- few can overlook what a treat Cul-De-Sac is. The five tracks whizz by and leave a deep impression- you are seduced into repeated investigation. Whether you are a fan of U.S. Blues and Gypsy-Swing- and the other sounds invested- you cannot refute the charm and memorability of the music. There are so few musicians doing what Christopher J. Fox is doing. If you want a smile put on the face- who of us doesn’t?!- then you need to do this: listen to Cul-De-Sac and…

HAVE your day brightened, thoroughly.



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INTERVIEW: Laura Saggers




Laura Saggers



SHE may have been born in the home counties- and lived in one of my favourite places, Chesham- but Laura Saggers is ensconced in California. After leaving the U.K. to pursue her dreams: Saggers has been building up a solid reputation- marking herself as an immense talent. A classically-trained pianist- one of the most stunning and jaw-dropping pianists I have heard- she boasts a tremendous Pop voice a rare accessibility. Add an infectious personality and huge passion for music: she seems ready-made and primed for the big leagues.

In a state- and part of the U.S.- where competition is fierce: the British-born musician stands above her peers. Having performed a range of stunning cover versions- and original singles including Summer Fling– there are few musicians quite like Laura Saggers. I was keen to chat and find out what the future holds: whether we will see new (original) music; how the U.S. compares (to the U.K.)- and whether talent shows are good for the music industry…


For those new to your music: can you tell us a bit about yourself? You were born in England but live in California. What compelled the move to the U.S.?

I fronted an Emo/Heavy-Rock band back in the day (Sennah) and as the scene started to fizzle I decided it was time for a change. I packed my bags; bought a flight and literally never looked back. Honestly, can’t believe it has been nearly 7 years since I did that. It has been such an amazing ride.

I spent a lot of time in Chesham- where you lived: my aunt owned a business there- and can imagine it has a warm and alluring pull. Do you miss places like this or prefer the excitement and expansiveness of California?

I love this question: it is like asking someone could they live without cheese or ice-cream- if that person were obsessed with both (I can’t live with either F.Y.I.). I adore England and will always consider it home. I love the sarcastic wit of the English people and the countryside is stunning. London is a vibrant, eclectic hub of awesomeness but California had a scene for music that, for some reason, I wasn’t being able to locate as easily in the U.K. I would say L.A. is the toughest town (socially) to move to and can really bring the most-optimistic person down at times. The opportunities it offers are absolutely endless: you have to be a ridiculously determined person and prepared to work your butt off in order to benefit from what it has to offer. I guess I am lucky that I was born with two stainless steel testicles- metaphorically speaking of course 😉

Are there any local artists you could recommend at all?

YES! Of course. L.A. is a hub for aspiring artists. I have played and met with some great ones. My top-3- at the moment- are:

Ari – amazing girl from Canada. Heart of gold, a hustler: a hard worker; her Power-Pop voice is crisp and ripples with woman power.

Brian Davis – an amazing songwriter. Every time I go to a show I get absorbed by his lyrics- such a great storyteller.

Everett Coast – just heard these guys last week and the harmonies are ON-POINT. Sounds something like a ’90s Acoustic-Rock band (and oh-sooo-good).

Dreams is your latest cover song. What compelled you to tackle that number? Is Rumours– where the song features- one of those albums that’s particularly special to you?

I have always loved Fleetwood Mac. My voice suits their songs and she (Stevie Nicks) was just- and still is- so incredibly bad-ass- who wouldn’t want to cover her? I also chose Dreams (as) when playing around with it in the studio it really suited the patch sound on my keytar.

Each of your recordings is defined by a very sultry and stunning vocal. Which singers/musicians were key to you growing up?

I love voices. I am always attracted to the voice before anything else. Ella Fitzgerald has always been a huge top contender for me. I also love Norah Jones, Meiko, Lenka, Jasmine Thompson; Tracy Chapman, Hayley Williams. Anyone who can sell a song to me when it is stripped-down and in its rawest form shows true talent to me. It is easy to play loud but give me a piano or an acoustic guitar- and one beautiful vocal- and I’m happy.

Summer Fling– released via Snapchat last year- showcases a unique style and vocal. Was there a particular time/person that inspired that number?

Ha, yes. I had just come back from a trip to England where I met the most dashing of young men and got whisked away into a summer frenzy. I felt like I was 16 on some super-random summer vacation. The trip ended; I came back: wrote a song about everything we did as a kind of diary entry and that was that. It was very unexpected: very unlike me; the experience was awesome.

On the subject of your own music: can we expect a Laura Saggers E.P./album anytime soon?

The album is done: ready to release. It has taken me two years to perfect but I am soooo excited about it and can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Having been performing/recording for a few years now: which memories stand out in your mind?

I played with an ‘80s cover band for a while and we played some massive stage. Some were in front of 20,000 people and I remember looking out to the crowd and dancing with keytar and thinking: damn I made it! This is what I came for and then instantly feeling proud and grateful all at the same time.

You are a classically-trained musician. You have had a very rich and impressive musical background- making your name honestly. Do you think the decline of (music) talent shows is a good thing? Are they- the contestants that appear on them- good or bad for music?

Hmm. I have been begged by family members to go on these shows and I actually did a few auditions for a couple of the massive shows and got through- but after reading the contracts I politely declined. The reality is this: those shows have a purpose. They are good, live entertainment. Nothing more. If you are 15-year-old and have nothing to lose then absolutely go for it- but you may notice that you will never find an actual professional musician on those shows. The contracts involved are so dangerously one-sided that it hinders the growth and ability for musicians to have an actual career. Don’t believe me? Name 5 artists in past two years that came from those shows that are now huge stars…. nope? Thought so!

I came here to live the dream as a real musician. If I don’t make it- in the commercial sense of the word- then so be- at least I will be happy with myself. But I’ll be damned if I sell-out and crumble to a huge corporation that cannot guarantee me a future but profit from my talent.

Are there any plans to play in the U.K. this year at all?

I hope so! Working on it!

What advice would you give any aspiring singer-songwriters looking to follow in your footsteps?

Go take a business course in music. Go understand the industry you are trying to succeed in. The industry has changed so much over the years and it is so (so) crucial to understand what you are getting yourself into. You say you want to earn money by making music? Then understand where that money comes from and work your way backwards.


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INTERVIEW: Alice Avery




Alice Avery


THERE are a lot of great artists coming out of New York: few as stunning, committed and passionate as Alice Avery. Expired Love– her previous single- was a mouth-watering release from Kicking the Habit: Avery’s E.P. that is released later this week. Obsessed (the latest single to be released from the E.P.) was released today. I was keen to catch-up with the Belgian-born star. With so many fans behind her- her music talked about in fevered tones- I was curious.  We chat about her influences and upbringing; how New York feeds into her music- what she has planned for (the rest of) 2016…



For those new to you- and your music- could you introduce yourself? 

I’m Alice: singer-songwriter-actress, independent artist, runner; yoga-lover, vegetarian, optimist, serial dater; sister… (I feel like this is a dating app. bio.). I make Pop music with a bunch of different influences like Soul and Indie.

You hail from Belgium. How does the music scene there compare with other parts of the world? 

Musically, Belgium is mainly known for its Dance music. Besides that, there’s not a large amount of wildly-known Belgian artists. Stromae is probably our top musical export right now. It’s a small scene since it’s a tiny country and nearly everyone knows each other. There are a bunch of great artists and musicians.

I feel that it’s not always the greatest ones that get recognition- however that’s a problem everywhere; not only in Belgium. We have some great Flemish music, sung in our native language- which I appreciate so much more now living abroad.

Based in New York: what is the metropolis like for an aspiring musician? 

It’s overwhelming, exciting, inspiring: there’s opportunity in every corner! If you wanted to, you could perform in this city every day. You meet interesting artists everywhere you go and you never know who you might sit next to on the Subway. The other day, I took an Uber pool and ended up in the car with a girl that works for Kanye and Drake.



Expired Love– your new single- boasts a romantic and bold vocal; lyrics of fighting-against-the-odds. Which musicians and artists have been important to you? 

So many. I feel like I never have a great answer to this question because I listen and love so many artists. But then someone told me that as an artist it’s your job to listen to all kinds of music and it would be small-minded to not appreciate and listen to everything with an open mind. In life, I love Beyoncé and Alicia Keys (as does every other 20-something-yea-old female) – other artists I love and listen to- so therefore also seep into my musical subconscious- include Banks, Jhene Aiko, Norah Jones; Duffy, Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry; Sara Bareilles … mainly strong woman.



Kicking the Habit (E.P.) is out on May 20th. Can you tell us about the songs/inspirations that go into that? 

Kicking the Habit is mainly about love. I know (gross right?!) But don’t get too excited because it’s mostly about love that isn’t really love-love- but more like crushes on steroids; falling for the wrong people and being afraid of commitment. There are seven songs on the E.P.: some more ‘Pop-py’ than others but there’s something on there for everyone. My main inspirations were New York; entering ‘adulthood’ (is that a thing?), being far away from home; and then f***boy. Not texting them when you’re drunk: A.K.A. Kicking The Habit. Just kidding… kinda. No, but really: I’ve been an asshole with ‘commitmentphobia’ very often too.

A lot of your songs- that feature on the E.P.- explore love (its positives and negatives). How vital have relationships been to you as a songwriter? Do you find pain and heartbreak can lead to great creative moments? 

I do think pain, heartbreak and vulnerability all lead to great creative moments. I haven’t been in a serious relationship in forever (cat-lady alert!) but I have been dating- and have met many great and not-so-great people along the way. It’s really through your interactions with people and discovering how you yourself react to moments, tough and emotional situations that you realise who you are, what you want and learn about yourself as a person. As a person, I always try to step back and ask myself if I’m reacting to the situation or reacting to my emotions. As a songwriter, I’m like: okay emotions pour out of me on this paper right now! That being said, I think in super-happy and calm moments you can still write a great, happy Pop song. It doesn’t all have to Emo. and dark.

Which other acts around New York- may be a daunting question- could you recommend to us? 

Hmm, that is a tough question because there are so many talented people in New York! About a year ago the girl that performed after me- at The Bitter End– was called Raye Zaragoza: she is this amazing blend of Norah Jones-meets-Sara Bareilles. I’d say she’s definitely one to watch! And the guy who plays my cheating “love interest”- in the Expired Love music video- Adam Vinson, is a rapper who’s dropping his E.P. soon- under his artist name AV (which I’m really excited about). I went in to sing some vocals for him the other week and his record is going to sound awesome!

Looking back on your career so far: which memories stand proudest in the mind? 

This E.P. coming out and the music video that I just released this week are two major moments for me because there went a lot of time, hard work, sweat, grind and hustle into it. It’s major for me because I did most of it on my own: luckily, with a great group of people I found along the way. Even though this is (honestly) just the start- it’s been a long road already.

But looking further back: in Belgium, some of the biggest shows I did were VlaanderenMuziekland en Suikerrock– which were both really cool. I loved writing a weekly column for Flemish teen magazine JOEPI– about my adventures in New York.

I think one of my proudest moments- and biggest decisions- was deciding to move to New York in 2012- even though I was just at the start of my career in Belgium. It was one of those moments knowing that, if I stay, I’d probably have a good life- a career that’s starting to unfold and great people around me. But I always knew I wanted to live abroad and chase my big dreams- not just settle for the most convenient route.

Once Kicking the Habit is out; you will be promoting it. Any plans to take in the U.K.? Which countries will you be visiting? 

I’ll be visiting Belgium and The Netherlands this July. And yes, I am actually (also) visiting the U.K. this summer- but I can’t give away any details yet; I can tell you it’ll be in London. As soon as I’m allowed to say more, you’ll be the first to know!

Music is a demanding mistress; New York a crowded city. How do find time to relax? What do you do when not concentrating on music? 

Honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of time to relax. New York is demanding and expensive so I work part-time (or should I keep up the glamour and pretend it’s already with just music that I can pay this ridiculous New York rent?). I sing in a wedding band and then there’s my own music that I’m working hard on. I haven’t been on a relaxing vacation in three years (besides my trips home to Belgium to visit family) so down-time is really precious and rare. My biggest way to unwind is working out (I know- I’m weird), I just love running along the Hudson River and letting go of everything. I also love a good yoga class or a walk on the beach. Oh, and they have really good and cheap pedicures up in Harlem where I live- which I like to treat myself to on a rare occasion (And Netflix and Chill, obviously).

What does music mean to you, personally? 

Music to me means being able to express myself. In our world where everyone has an opinion about everything- and everyone judges everyone and you’re not supposed to do this but you are supposed to do that. For me, that just all doesn’t matter when it comes to music. It’s this raw thing where you feel an emotion and you produce sound and words (and you can sing your problems away). So that’s actually a very selfish part of it: that I do it because I love it and it makes me feel better. But then there’s also the fact that you can connect to people and talk to people; tell them stories through songs- let them know that they’re not the only ones experiencing a certain thing, or let them laugh, cry or feel things.

What can Alice Avery fans expect in the future (after the E.P. is released)? 

The first full album of course!

For being a good sport: choose any song and I’ll play it here. 

Any song?! Well, Expired Love, duh! And then Someone New by Banks!



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TRACK REVIEWS: Jasmine Rodgers- Icicles/Sense



Jasmine Rodgers





Icicles/Sense are available at:

June 17th 2016

Alternative; Folk; Electro.; Rock


London, U.K.

The album, Blood Red Sun, will be released later this year.


AFTER a (kind of brief) exploitation to Australian and American music…

it is back in my favourite place: London. I try and extricate myself from the city now and then: invariably; I am drawn back to the wonderful music. There is so much wonder, joy, and quality to be found in London. The music is not just confined to certain genres and ‘types’: there’s a smorgasbord and vast array of sounds and styles. Before I come to my featured artist, I wanted to look at the children of musical legends; the importance of traveling (conducive to adventurous music) and reinventing the Folk genre. Entering the music profession is a risky and unsure thing. If doesn’t matter what start you had in life; how wealthy you are: talent and determination are the most important, and underrated assets, you require. What fascinates me about new musicians is their background: especially those that herald from an artistic/musical background. You do not often encounter artists that hail from such creative and arty beginnings. With Jasmine Rodgers being a second-generation musician: I have been compelled to investigate other (children of musicians) examples. From Eliot Sumner- Sting’s daughter; formerly I Am Coco- there is inherent pressure to succeed and ‘prove yourself’. A lot of today’s artists go through music school or find their own path: something quite ‘traditional’ and ordinary. They will work hard and raise money to produce songs. It is always pleasing seeing genuinely great musicians make their way- regardless of their background. Those that have had that distinct musical education- well-known parents or a very musical family- have that edge and additional education. That is not to say- by proxy of their D.N.A.- they have an edge and will be naturally talented- they will have the experience and know a lot about the industry. Too many musicians get blind-sided by the harshness of the industry: what it takes to succeed and how challenging it can all be. Jasmine Rodgers is someone who knows what it takes to make it. Before I continue my point, let me introduce her to you:

Too many musicians get blind-sided by the harshness of the industry: what it takes to succeed and how challenging it can all be. Jasmine Rodgers is someone who knows what it takes to make it. Before I continue my point, let me introduce her to you:

Born into an artistic family – her mother a Japanese poet, her father the legendary vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company, Queen) – Jasmine Rodgers knew her way around both keyboard and fretboard before she even enrolled at secondary school. But given her love for art and zoology (in which she has a degree), music was initially a passionate pastime rather than a full-time pursuit. This changed when her older brother Steve, on hearing the ethereal beauty of Jasmine’s voice, asked her to sing with him and they formed the group Boa. Boa went on to record two albums, achieving renown in the Americas, France and Japan, after their single ‘Duvet’ featured in the anime series Serial Experiments Lain. The group disbanded in 2005, but Jasmine continued her association with the anime/manga genre, writing songs for the soundtrack of Armitage: Dual Matrix, which starred Juliette Lewis.

Jasmine continued rehearsing, writing and recording, releasing an EP of self-penned alt-folk nuggets and collaborating with artists including Indian classical musicians Mendi Mohinder Singh and Waqas Choudhary. She found inspiration for new material in the exploits of her travels (live performances led her from the Royal Albert Hall to the Venice Biennale and the Edinburgh Fringe). It was one such journey to the Joshua Tree desert in California that inspired Jasmine to capture the best of her material on a full-length album. She enlisted producer Sean Genockey (Tom McRae, Futureheads), whose experience working at Joshua Tree’s Rancho de la Luna studio made him ideal for bringing forth the material’s widescreen yet rootsy vibe. Blood Red Sun, to be released later in 2016, was recorded at Black Dog Studios in London and is the sound of an exceptional artist drawing deep from global musical experiences to craft a set of inventive, euphonious 21st-century folk.

Rodgers has had that filmic and made-for-the-big-screen upbringing. Given the fact her father is one of the most respected vocalists of all-time: it is, perhaps, not a shock his daughter has such incredible pipes. Raised in that musical and astonishing household- where her mother’s art and father’s music would have spiked her young mind- it was only natural (Jasmine) would chase music. Given Paul Rodgers’ connection with Free and Bad Company- later, Queen- Jasmine seems to have been fated to music since her first day. After singing around the house- her brother noticing her fine talent- she was encouraged to pursue music and take it by the horns. Just because you have a musician parent- father in this case- does not mean that will translate naturally. I have seen a lot of examples where the child does not hit the peak of their parents: this is not the case with Jasmine Rodgers. Possessing the power, passion and rawness of her father; a sweetness and beauty that is all her own- an amazing and unforgettable tone.

I can tell how influential her father has been: her mother’s art and itinerant background has compelled Rodgers to travel the globe in search of inspiration and subject matter. Too many of us are rigid and tied to home- I am culpable of this- and do not explore what is out there. With such a big, compelling and astonishing planet out there: more of us need to get out there and see it. Rodgers’ wanderlust and lust for inspiration has seen her travel widely and absorb cultures. If you are stuck in a city/town- London, for instance- you are likely to be limited when it comes to imaginative songwriting. Even if you have a wide and varied musical taste: that is not to say your own music will be suitably eclectic and multifarious. Rodgers has taken it upon herself to engage with the wider world and see what other countries are producing (in terms of music). When you hear Jasmine Rodgers perform- and when you listen to her interviews- you get cross-continental blends and something truly exotic. Using Folk as a basis- but stretching it and breaking ground- many people might assume (Rodgers’ music) would be predictable and narrow. Folk is one of those areas of music that can be very mixed and average. That image of the acoustic guitar-holding singer- who performs songs about the natural world with little energy- pervades. Jasmine Rodgers is a lot more than your run-of-the-mill Folk act. She brings Rock and Electric shades into the mix: something harder and grittier; cosmopolitan and ethereal. Every song (she produces) covers new ground and brings together something fresh- guaranteed to enthrall and impress the listener.

Icicles and Sense are some of the earliest works from Jasmine Rodgers. Music has been pivotal for year: she is still so young and making her initial steps. If it were not for her family- and brother’s persistent she get into music- would our heroine be where she is now? I’d like to think so as you know art and music coarse through her veins. She is taking her time to craft music of the highest order: you can hear the detail, work-rate and attention in her songs. Given the reaction to Icicles– it has been lauded and promoted by D.J.s and bloggers- there is a demand for more music. Sense and Icicles are two tracks that have a familial connection: they are natural album-mates and it will be great to see them alongside one another. It is at this point of a review that I look at an artist’s progress and development- see how far they have come; compare their new stuff to the older. Jasmine Rodgers is making her first moves- making it difficult to make comparisons- but her new songs are incredible. Intimate and open- like being in the wide expanse of nature- there is etherealness and passion in every note. Blood Red Sun is unveiled soon- Icicles is going to feature- and it will be a chance to see the musician in her element: stretching her talent and showing the world just what she has at her disposal.

Icicles begins with a very gentle and springtime feel. You hear the natural world breathe: the wind blows and you can feel the sun on your face. When our heroine comes to the microphone: you are instantly hit by the power and immediacy of her voice. It is so clear and crisp in the mix- right up-top and with stunning clarity. Backed by tender strings- a balletic, gently-picked guitar sound- there is sparseness and bare-naked purity from the first notes. Looking across the land and water: Rodgers lets her soul fly; she is sending it to a particular person. Whether a current love- or someone that is an important piece of her past- there is that desire and love in the vocal. So calm and reflective: you can get lost in the voice and its serenity; the tranquility smoothness and delicious, chocolate-like sweetness. Whomever is being sung about: clearly someone that means a great deal to our heroine. Having been lost “for such a long time”: with the intensity of the mood; the composition becomes darker and more tense. Mystical and dark-hued bass notes conspire: Celtic, Anglo and Middle-East sounds melt into something delicate and pure. Our girl will be flying “ever-so-high”; she will be making her way across the land- in order to hold her man. Part of me tried to pick the lyrics apart and see what inspired them. I instantly jumped onto themes of love and departed sweethearts- there seems to be more to it. Whilst deeply personal and heart-aching: I feel Rodgers has lost a lot more; is chasing more than a particular person; longing for something deeper and more profound. When combining her vocals- layering them and adding an urgency to proceedings- the emotions stake up and the fascination rises. “

I instantly jumped onto themes of love and departed sweethearts- there seems to be more to it. Whilst deeply personal and heart-aching: I feel Rodgers has lost a lot more; is chasing more than a particular person; longing for something deeper and more profound. When combining her vocals- layering them and adding an urgency to proceedings- the emotions stake up and the fascination rises. “How sweet to find”, it is said, “the meeting of minds”. You start to wonder what that refers to- taking me away from realms of love- and your imagination starts to spark. Chasing dreams and climbing mountains: if she is after a man; he must be someone rather special and wonderful. That obliqueness and mystery means Icicles is a song that needs repeated plays. You are affected the debut spin: new light and dimensions feed in when you give it more time and dedication. Our heroine’s heart is haunted and in need of satisfaction. When she finds her subject- whether lover or friend- icicles will melt. Such is the magnitude and importance of that connection: the climate will change and the world will move. You never get the feeling of hyperbole and over-exaggeration. Rodgers is not someone who employs ululation and needless over-emotion: everything she sings is performed with honesty. By the closing seconds, you are entranced by the images and lyrics. Waters are swelling and rising; snow is melting and everything is changing. Without a kiss being delivered; before a word is spoken: such a heavenly and biblical transformation will occur. It is this passion and intensity that makes Icicles such a bracing and spectacular thing. Imbued with beauty and tenderness- an arpeggio and little other accompaniment- the focus is on the lyrics and vocals. Few musicians could carry a song- with so few layers- and make it such a beautiful thing. Credit to Jasmine Rodgers who not only makes Icicles worthy: she makes it sound utterly essential and unforgettable.

Sense is the second-half of the double A-side. Whilst its sister was concerned with capturing love and a sought-after beau: we see a dynamic shift and a switch in emotions. Icicles was dedicated to chasing and fulfillment: positive and lustful; world-straddling and fast-moving. Sense begins with a similar arpeggio flair: it rushes away and ensures the listener is stood to attention. Clearly affected and determined: Rodgers asks the question: “Can you hear me?”. That sentiment is repeated and enforced. You sense- from the first words- these words are directed towards a lover. Perhaps someone who has been inattentive and remiss: a human that has not been as loyal and understanding as they should. Again, we get layered vocals and that build-up. The song has that live-sounding feel to it: you can imagine it going down particularly well with audiences; Sense is a shivering, atmospheric and mind-grabbing track. “Everybody needs to be believed”, our heroine attests: “So, why then, don’t you put your faith in me?

Again, one-half of the brain will look at lovers and the imbalance they have- the fights and distance; the broken hearts- but you can take that interpretation to friendships and family- maybe something unexpected and different. In these early exchanges, little insight is given. Rodgers elongates the words and performs them with an underlying anger. You imagine a boyfriend or sweetheart is being assessed: someone that is not as supportive as they should be; dropping the ball. Such is the fascination you get from Rodgers: every line has a little mystique; room for interpretation. When delivering the lines- “Can you feel me?/Do you know how I feel?”- she spins the words and tees-up a funky beat. There is a definite kick and soulfulness that makes its presence known. Differing from Icicles– which was more straightforward and gentle- here, we get something harder and more Funk-influenced. Showing another side to the musician: you start to tap the toes and get the head nodding. Everybody needs to be believed and shown faith: something we all can relate to and understand. I would love to know what the circumstances are behind the song- and who has compelled the words. Such is the commitment and determination of the performance- embers of Laura Marling and Natalie Merchant come through. The composition boasts some wonderful percussion and busy nature: the strings spike and fizz; the drums roll and crack- it is an intense and complete song. While the seconds tick down, you hear reflections of Folk’s past masters- Nick Drake and Neil Young.; Joni Mitchell in there- given a modern and updated shine. Rodgers rides her mantra- not being believed and supported when needed- against a crackling and emotive composition. By the end, you hope satisfaction was achieved and she obtained that faith- knowing she might have to fight for it still.

Dan Carey (who produces here) has worked with the likes of Kate Tempest and Nick Mulvey. He brings the best out of Jasmine Rodgers and gives each track a shine- without making it too glossy and unnatural. The voice is out high in the mix ensuring every word can be heard and understood. Icicles and Sense are two different sides to an intriguing talent. The former allows something pure, tender and divine to come through- gentle acoustics and something that unites Celtic and Middle-East sounds. The latter is a more brash and angry song. Rodgers is in pensive mood and seems lost in confusions and anxieties. This allows for a more multi-dimensional and Funk/Rock-inspired sound to emerge. Carey ensures Rodgers’ sound is as clear, crisp and defined as it can be. Joined by Dan Kavanagh (he plays drums on Sense) it is remarkable to hear an artist- new and eager- sound confident, complete and astonishing. I know Blood Red Sun is coming out later in the year. There is cover art and album credits available- on SoundCloud– but only Icicles and Sense are available to hear. Icicles/Sense will be released across digital platforms (as a double A-side) from June 17th.

Jasmine Rodgers is one of those modern-day artists that will succeed naturally and without obstacle. A very beautiful and confident woman: just listen to her being interviewed and you can hear that passion and determination come through. She is not someone that is here for the short-term: you would not bet against her being a mainstream star in a few years to come. The double A-side Icicles/Sense demonstrates how spectacular and wonderful Rodgers. She creates lush and vivid soundtracks: moments that takes you someone beautiful and arrest the senses. Bringing together multiple genres and sounds; emotions and dimensions: few artists are as bold, confident and accomplished. I love coming back to London music and embracing the best home-grown musicians. This city has such a vibrancy and community. So many amazing musicians are being born and making London one of the world’s musical hotspots. Maybe L.A. and New York have more musicians- by virtue of its size and population- but London (not bias or anything) has more magic and mystery. It is something inexplicable and hard-to-pin-down. Rodgers is one of those musicians who will keep playing and plugging for a very long time. She loves performing and bringing her music to the crowds. With every interview and gig; you learn a little more about the young star. Revitalising and updating Folk for the 21st-century: one of the most vital and impressive artists we have in our midst. You cannot have Paul Rodgers as your father and resist the lure of music- refute the bite and itch to get up there and play. I mused about the subject of musicians’ children and following in footsteps: whether a musical heritage instantly results in inherited ability and knowledge. It is clear

Jasmine Rodgers has an advantage right from the off. Her mother’s art and father’s music filled her senses from birth: got inside the mind and (if subconsciously) drove her musical desire. Those expecting a Free/Bad Company-esque sound will be a little disappointed. Sure, Rodgers has a spectacular voice and incredible power: the music she plays differs (from her dad’s). Icicles/Sense have already been premièred: the reception garnered has been incredible. Not just focusing on getting the sound right- collaborating with some wonderful international musicians- the visuals are amazing. Icicles’ video is filled with unforgettable images and gorgeous views- perhaps natural; given her mother’s poetry and art. We have a complete and astonishing musician that surpasses her peers: one of those people you hope will go all the way and be a huge success. Listening to her speak- her recent interview with Jammerzine- you get lost in her voice and what she says. Music means everything to her and something that is in her blood.

So what of the future? In June, Rodgers will be playing across London- Dalston Eastern Curve Garden on the 7th; The Finsbury on the 14th (the single launch)- playing the Cambridge Rock Festival on August 6th. I will have to come and see her play as- on the back of her double A-side- I have completely fallen. Nobody will be immune from the beauty, passion and power of Jasmine Rodgers. I feel there are not enough musicians coming out that are themselves. People try and imitate others and get caught up fitting into a mould. Very few have the bravery, patience and guts to be different, unique and special. Jasmine Rodgers has not traded off her father’s cache and legacy: she is her own woman and makes her own music. Blood Red Sun will be arriving soon and is sure to receive a rapturous reaction. In the meantime: ensure you get to grips with Icicles and Sense. Two different sides to a wonderful and multi-talented musician: world domination will surely follow? I could see Rodgers having a huge fan-base in Japan and Asia: Australia and the U.S. are all likely to follow. The U.K. is on board and embracing one of its most extraordinary talents. If you need any more proof, check out her music; one thing is certain:

IT is among the best you will hear this year.




Follow Jasmine Rodgers







TRACK REVIEW: Jude Perl- Hungry & Horny



Jude Perl



Hungry & Horny





Hungry & Horny is available at:

19th April 2016

Pop; Comedy; Soul; Funk


Melbourne, Australia

The album, Modern Times, is available at:


FROM a sizzling-hot musician from Florida to a unique and stuns-a-minute…

artist from Melbourne- you cannot fault the diversity music mixes in. I have not long put the pen down from assessing Alexandra Amor: now to Australian Jill-of-all-trade, Jude Perl. Before I come to my featured artist, I wanted to look at Melbourne acts; musicians that mix genres and comedy together- those acts that are quirky and stand in the mind. Recently- and perhaps behind the curve- I have been listening to Courtney Barnett’s album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Throughout the 11-track album you get humour, honesty and passion: all from an artist that is relatively unknown. Given the fact we do not have international award shows in the U.K.- recognising music from around the world- we often miss out on other artists. Sure, there is the Brit Awards- a lame attempt at representing music at its best- but there is nothing else really. Apart from N.M.E. and Kerrang!– who, to be fair, have their award shows- where do the best of the rest get their just rewards? There are so many great musicians arriving from the U.S. and Australia; Canada and Spain: they seem to be limited to their home nations; nodded-to by their press and supporters. Radio stations do their best to bring diversity into the music- ‘Radio 6 Music among them- but there needs to be more (done). Melbourne is a city I have always longed to visit. In fact- behind London- it is my dream city. Maybe my exposure and affection for Neighbours– an untrue-to-life if escapable fantasy- has rather romanticised Australia, but I doubt it. Melbourne is voted as the most sought-after and best-quality-of-life cities around the globe. The communities and people are nice- in the most part- whilst there is culture, art and history. Bustling streets and a burgeoning music scene are only a few reasons why Melbourne is so revered- throw in the great weather and, well, beautiful women (sorry). It is the music- honest!- that attracts me most. Barnett’s album enforced just how terrific music is, there. The slice-of-life songs tackle environmental decline and suicidality: anti-heroes and strange trysts; keen observations and sly humour. Topped with great hooks and addictive melodies: Barnett is one of those musicians you need to keep an eye on. Apply that logic to a wider scene and you should definitely dig Melbourne. The Temper Trap, Nick Cave and The Avalanches (are just a trio) that call Melbourne home. Husky and The Cat Empire can be thrown in there. Lowlakes’ intense, of gloomy, brand of Dream-Pop has invigorated critics. Baro and Good Morning are two acts that were tipped last year: primed for success in 2016 (and making waves thus far). Catlips (A.K.A. Katie Campbell) permeates accessible Pop with hard beats: an artist who can switch to bass-heavy Dance and insatiable rapture. Fait and Ecca Vandal are another two (female) artists that are setting the Melbourne scene alight. Whilst- on paper- Jude Perl might not hang at the same parties as Fait and Catlips: that is not to say they are that different at all. If anything, Perl has an advantage and edge over her local contemporaries.

Given the buzz of her album (Modern Times) is receiving rapturous reviews and some rather red-hot praise. Before I continue my points; let me introduce Jude Perl to you:

Jude Perl has been performing professionally for the past 7 years as a singer and pianist and in the last year has branched out into stand up and music comedy. In 2013, her debut single ‘Girls & Boys’ received regular commercial radio airplay all over Australia (including Fox FM and 2Day FM). The following year, Jude starred in the critically acclaimed narrative concert ‘Let’s Get It On – The Life & Music of Marvin Gaye’ in Melbourne.

Often described as ‘funk-a-licious music’, Jude offers a collection of feel good funk/pop/soul tunes that will make you want to sing along. Named purposely after Charlie Chaplin’s famous film, her debut album provides a satirical window on the advertising world that we are living in : « Music and advertising are so intertwined, which to me seems so ludicrous, as they have such different goals. Music is supposed to elevate people and challenge people and advertising kind of does the opposite »

With that approach in mind, Jude promotes her new album with fake advertisements set in the 50s, 80s and present day, pretending to have sold her intellectual property and identity to a sugar company. In her fun new music video ‘Hungry and Horny’, Jude Perl impersonates an anonymous actress who tries to look good on camera to please the producer and sell whatever she’s told to sell. Her debut album ‘Modern Times’ is now available on Bandcamp and on iTunes Australia”.

I have arrived at Perl’s feet a little late, it seems. Seeing her social media pages: they are packed with glowing reviews and wonderful feedback. Critics are climbing over themselves to exclaim and promulgate the virtues of this Melbourne treasure. What strikes me-about the album, Modern Times– is how relevant and relatable the music is. Most artists tend to focus on love and their own lives: Perl looks outwards and assesses the modern world; issues and themes that affect more than her own concerns. There are sweet and quirky love songs- that infectious voice and turn-of-phrase is pure and delightful- but so much depth and maturity. Genres and sounds switch from Bubblegum-Pop to Dance smashes: driving Folk to something multi-layered and impossible-to-pin down. I shall delve into Modern Times later, but it seems, Perl is a previous and glimmering jewel. I love the U.K.’s best but find so much more variety and range in foreign sounds. Our scene is consistent and growing but we need to embrace other artists from abroad. Perl is someone I will be following closely. Knowing how fantastic Melbourne’s music scene is: I was not surprised to discover someone who produces music packed with memorability and standout lines. Perl mixes comedy and wit into her song; charming and cheeky lines: she is someone who has a songbook of unbeatable lines and thoughts. On the sunnier, sassier numbers; we have an artist that rides the music and has undeniable confidence. When more low-down and reflective: that intelligence and emotional revelation hits the soul, hard. Throughout Hungry & Horny I had a smile on my face. It is a song that is hard to ignore and a perfect introduction to one of music’s true originals.

Jude Perl has had a long and busy career- producing a series of singles and E.P.s. Modern Times is her most accomplished and impressive work to date. I can see her evolve and develop as the years progress. Songs 3am and Somewhere to Call Home packed plenty of quality, memorability and emotion. Somewhere to Call Home showed what a tender and beautiful voice (Perl had). 3am is more Jazz-based and laid-back. It has a coolness to it whilst still ensconced in avenues of love and romance. A lot of her earlier work worked within traditional frameworks- talking about relations and love- but were distinguished by stunning vocals and a real flair for lyrical importance. Her wordplay and story-telling raised her songs to rarified heights. Songs like Sorry and Pop Singer– released last year- showed that humour and wit. Not dispensing with love altogether- Our Love: A Power Ballad documents, if ironically, relationships- comedy and humour has come more to the fore. Perl has realised she is compelling when deep and soulful: equally spellbinding when light, less-than-serious and comedic. Sorry sees the heroine with stretch marks and worrying about her face- pieces of food stuck to it. A song within a song about a song: one that critiques itself and expectations in the modern scene. Apologising for the one-note chords; the lack of variation: Perl asks (with a slight caterwaul) whether a key change is in order. Is It Just Me? compares love to a watermelon- too many seeds- and shows a humorous side to serious themes. Modern Times brings together the debut work- the more-sensitive and traditional love songs- with the comedy and wit of last year’s efforts. In 2016, Perl has brought her multiple sides and talents together: she is at her peak of form. Having grown and developed as an artist- she is more complex, rich and assured than before- you can hear the confidence come through.

Hungry & Horny is Modern Times’ latest offering: a song that is setting social media ablaze. One of the finest moments (from the record) it demonstrates why Perl is so special. In the song; Perl acts as the spokesperson for Sugar Oh’s: a 1950s-style cereal brand that has been providing “great taste…great memories” for over 65 years. Committed to the bit- the sort of nauseating (usually American) voice you’d hear inanely ringing throughout the T.V.- you (almost) buy into the advert. Perl dresses the part: a lollipop-themes top and teeth white; that grin never fades. When we reach the segment about world peace- the cereal can make the world a better place- Perl snaps and loses her cool. Offering an expletive to the director- dropping the f-bomb- the mask has been ripped off; the façade exploded. Stax-themed, rousing beats ebb-and-flow with an imperious and straight-laced guitar lick. When combined, you get pizazz, stealth and funkiness: altogether in an intoxicating cocktail that takes Hungry & Horny into more ‘conventional’ territory. After the Spoken Word introduction: the introduction-after-the-introduction gets things racing and pulsating. Our heroine is being sucked in- “I’m hooked on you”- and one wonders what the “you” refers to. Maybe a boy or sweetheart: perhaps a sugar-filled treat or forbidden object- one assumes it is the former. Given the song’s themes and opening: one might be lead to ideas of corporate control and selling your soul for money. Unable to escape the grips of the song’s core- whether manmade or foodstuff- you start to transpose yourself in the song- picturing possibilities and stray avenues. The words resonate and hit, mind you. Perl is at her most direct and unfettered: her voice is sharp and gets down to business. Rebuking this “snake”- clearly, an unwanted attraction- traps are being set “all over the place”. In the music video- which follows the shoot of a cereal commercial- one-half of the mind might think of professional engagements and the lure for easy money. The song exists on two different plains: ideals of love and satisfaction; trying to refute someone who has a clear allure. Whilst, on paper, Hungry & Horny might sound like a very male dilemma: it is one that is causing stress for our heroine. Maybe (her man) teases and keeps her hungry: craving a touch and always at arm’s-length. Perhaps- the song’s messages- addresses advertising and lies being told.

How we are promised things and presented with false images: a certain craving that can never be satisfied and slaked. Maybe that is me looking into things too deeply. Whilst your mind tries to unpick the lyrics: your body is helpless to the sway and swagger of the composition. Perl’s voice is consistently fresh and unique: brash and bold yet underpinned by sweetness and  girlishness. She is reaching for that spoon- assessing love’s lust in food terms- and desperate to dig in and satisfy her appetites. Whomever is being ascribed- a current flame or someone from her past- you get caught in the sweat, steam and longing. The boy may want her “stupid and lonely” but- as our girl makes it clear- they have both had enough. An impasse has been reached and these day-to-day rituals need to end. As little slithers of Alanis Morissette come through- when rapturous; you get flecks of the Canadian- our Melbourne girl has reached the end. The guy has been playing her and she is through being exploited and teased. Caught in a miasma of confusion: Perl asks if we all feel this way; have to go through the turmoil of split and tug-of-war. The composition remains light- ensuring the entire song is not too dark and fatigued- which gives proceedings contradictions and dichotomy. Crafting an uplifted and sunshine chorus- one that will be chanted from the crowds- means Hungry & Horny is readymade for summer months. By the closing moments, you are fully brought into the song and siding with the heroine. Having been made to feel stupid and infantilised: she is striking back and not taking any more crap. Caught in the merriment and dizziness of the song: the vocal gets firmer and more spirited; displaying a tremendous amount of bravado and spirit. Perl is tired of feeling bad and begging for love: both parties need to call it off and go their separate ways. There is maturity and wisdom within the song’s humour and memorable lines- suggesting our heroine is ready to spend time by herself; maybe find someone new. Whatever your interpretation- and however you experience the song- you are left with a dopey smile and a shot of serotonin.  If the sunshine is out- or the clouds are not shaking- Hungry & Horny brings heat, warmth and feel-good sensations. An immaculate song from a musician that is unlikely to stay a local treasure for too much longer- she will belong to everyone.

Modern Times is a 16-track album that does not feel bloated and pretentious. Every track earns its place and shows a different side. From straight-ahead Punk to sugary-sounding Pop: there are so many different colours and styles experimented with. It all hangs together, due to the commitment, talent and charm of Jude Perl. Can’t Wait to See You packs a punchy beat and vocals that drip with raw emotion and passion. Looking at a fond sweetheart- someone she cannot wait to see time again- you buy into that dedication, commitment and lust. Sugar-Oh’s starts with mock commercials- something that could be taken from the ‘50s and ‘80s- that rots the teeth. Built around Sugar Oh’s– a fictitious company that have been providing sugar treats since 1951- they have now branched into music. A cross between a cartoon theme and a radio jingle: it is something you’d use to torture people into confessions. Yetta is one of the most urgent and hard-hitting tracks on the record. Addressing consumerism and profit-seeking: it is a song that has a social conscience and sense of nobility. Yetta is the name of a figure: a talisman or chattel that acts as an inspiration and spirit animal. Someone that could take you- in a fight- you start to picture a very vivid and heartbreaking woman. Hard-as-nail but gorgeous-as-sin: someone you wouldn’t mess with (as much as you’d like to). Poison Diet has plenty of Funk and kick, right from the off. Caught in confusion, toxicity and a harsh daily regime: this unwelcomed diet is creating stress, anxiety and anger. The rushing vocals give the song a nervous energy and dance-ability. Just Don’t Know contains a similarly groovy and smooth nature. One of the most Soul/Jazz-influenced tracks on record: it is also one of the most tender and romantic. Perl sheds any humour and cynicism: this is a pure love song that goes for the heart. Her man has left (his “empty kisses”  are being craved) and she is looking for answers.

Slaves has a Steely Dan-esque jive and drive to it. One of those songs that remind me of Courtney Barnett. The track casts its gaze to the streets and looks at society as a whole. A world that is mad and ever-moving: we do not often stand and appreciate all the things that live and breathe. Maybe uncaring or crowded in human stampede: how often do you stand still and reflect? There is no preachiness and electioneering: just an honest woman who wishes more people would love the world- rather than slowly destroy it. Baby ends Modern Times with reflectiveness and admiration. A tune that could fit into the ‘90s Dance scene: there are banging beats and a real look at music’s past. I was transported to a bygone (and finer) era for music: one where things were simpler and less complicated. Perl looks at a hero- a boy that she cannot get from her mind- and creates a song filled with purity, desire (of the tremulous kind) and love. It is a perfect swansong to a magnificent album. Blending so many genres and ideas into one L.P.: lesser artists would not be able to pull it off. Given Perl’s stunning abilities, musicianship and writing: she ensures it all hangs together; each song sticks in the memory. There is piano balladry and Disco-flecked stormers: to-the-bone Punk jams and elliptical Pop numbers. Jude Perl mixes pathos, humour and passion with unnerving ease and authority.

I have been absorbed in some rather dreamy and wonderful music, lately. The Cardigans’ Life is in my car- one of the finest from the legendary Swedish band. Their stunning, imaginative compositions are framed by the sweet and hypnotic voice of Nina Persson. Courtney Barnett is in my mind: it seems Jude Perl evokes the spirits of both artists. You get acerbic and direct songs; there are sweet and gorgeous Pop numbers: minor symphonies and polemics. When you drill down, there is no real end to Perl’s talents and nuance. Modern Times perfectly reflects the concerns and contradictions of today’s world. Among the political and observational are those universal love stories: songs that put their heart on sleeve; leave you lunging for the tissues. I implore every music lover to spend more time and attention in Melbourne. When I get to the city- hopefully not too long- I will spend so much time touring the clubs, bars and venues- investigating all the treasure and gems the city can provide. In a modern music world where the likes of Beyoncé are ruling the column inches: we need more acts like Jude Perl. Beyoncé’s new album (Lemonade)- although impressive and career-defining- was committee-written and possessed too many cooks. For a record that was, supposedly, about infidelity and personal heartache- why do so many writers need to be involved? The American is an accomplished songwriter and has her own vision- not sure why THAT many people needed to put their names to her songs?! Jude Perl is a woman who does not need an army of writers to make her sound good: she is a pure and proper songwriter, primed and armed. Hungry & Horny is a track that made me light up and smile; something that perfectly defines Perl’s sound and vision. Sponsored by Sugar-Oh’s: this Australian is happy to be ab advertising stooge. Whilst the cereal rots the teeth- and comes with cloying advertising and noxious jingles- the songs of Jude Perl provide nourishment, feast and banquet. If you have not pulled up a table- to nibble on the cornucopia and sweet meal- then you need to redress that. Jude Perl has worked in the local scene to make a name: the last decade has seen her established her reputation and gain a foothold. With Modern Times, one of music’s most assured and original musicians is about to go global. I hope she comes to the U.K.: we would love to see her over here! Haul your arses to Jude Perl’s pages and emboss yourself in a musician that make sounds for everyone. If you really think about it:

HOW many musicians do that?



Follow Jude Perl








TRACK REVIEW: Alexandra Amor- Not Easy to Love



Alexandra Amor



Not Easy to Love





Not Easy to Love is available at:

April 2016

Pop; Soul


New York/Florida, U.S.A.


RARELY do musicians hit you right around the face…

without warning (unless you’re Azealia Banks: that’s another story entirely!). In the current scene: there is a lot of build-up and hype; slow-forming momentum and a gradual easing in. Sure, a few bands/acts make an instant impression: it is a rarity, by-and-large. I am always hunting for musicians that have that appeal and allure: those that dig deep into the soul and elicit something rather special and primal. My featured artist achieves that- with ease and aplomb. Before reaching her, I wanted to look at musicians around the U.S. – especially Florida and New York- in addition to ‘legends’ of music that are starting to fade- looking at the what makes an artist truly special. The last few weeks- as seems to be the way- I have been focusing a lot of attention towards London- checking out the musicians of the capital. It is great to be back in the U.S.: a nation that is providing some of the most exciting music in all the world. Ordinarily- when I look at American music- I am based in California: rarely do I get the chance to go elsewhere. In terms of Florida-based music- Alexandra Amor hails from here- it is not an area of the U.S. many of us would think of (with regards great music). Gram Parsons hailed from Winter Haven: Ariana Grande is from Boca Raton. I guess it is like the U.K.: the big opportunities are to be found in the cities. Florida is a part of America that always fascinates me, musically- and the only part of the U.S. I have visited- and feel that there are a lot of great musicians playing here. Based in London: it is tricky keeping an eye on all the terrific musicians of The Sunshine State. Outlaws and Lynyrd Skynyrd; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: some decent artists call Florida home. Black Kids and We the Kings are a couple of bands putting the state on the map: I would like to see the U.S. media focus more on this area. Perhaps it is hard highlighting states- away from New York and California- as there is so much music being made across America. Whilst Florida houses a lot of talented artists: New York seems like the natural place for the ambitious and passionate. Alexandra Amor is one of the most urgent and stunning artists playing around the city.

Having amassed a host of followers across social media- one of the most-popular musicians I have seen- her career is certainly building steam. Before I continue my point, like me introduce Alexandra Amor to you:

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida singer/songwriter Alexandra Amor was first blessed with the opportunity to showcase her musical talents in the mid 2000’s.  Making the brave decision to trade in her golf clubs and dreams of LPGA to embark on a career in music at the youthful age of 16 years old, Alexandra Amor signed her first recording contract with indie label Rich Music LTD.  Having gained fame as a teenager touring the country promoting her previous pop hit “Radio”, Amor soon realized she was not passionate about the music she was making and asked to be released from her contract.

Free from her contract Alexandra took a chance moving across the country to Los Angeles with her longtime friend and manager, where she has had the opportunity to work with hitmakers, such Micah Powell (Omarion, Sevyn Streeter, Etc), The Stereotypes (The Far East Movement, Justin Bieber, Drake, etc), and famed Dj’s Red Cup Nation to name a few for her upcoming EP “Amor Unplugged.”  For the last few years, 21 year old Alexandra Amor has been honing in on her new sound and building her fan base, by sharing covers as well as original music with her fans through her youtube channel where she has collectively generated over 3,000,000 views and 23,000 subscribers. Combining the vocal capability of a Christina Aguilera and Amy Winehouse, along with the raw edginess of Alanis Morissette, Amor is definitely recreating the look and sound of Pop/Soul.

Alexandra Amor opened up for Earth Wind & Fire at the legendary venue House of Blues on Sunset after being chosen out of  3,000 indie artists through a Reverb Nation contest. Shortly after she was asked to perform at the prestigious World Trade Center in New York for the Riviera Catering WTC860 grand opening, in front of a renowned crowd including Marc Jacobs, Christian Siriano and the co-founder of Avenue Capital Group/ co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Billionaire Marc Lasry. Alexandra Amor appeared on BET’s new hit series “About the Business” along side featured 6x grammy nominated artist Neyo and the man in charge of the Ncredible Entertainment Empire, Nick Cannon. Making her cameos Amor appeared on over half the season with this largely talented cast. They caught Amor in the studio recording her most personal EP in her career thus far as well as her mind blowing intimate performance at the world famous VIPER ROOM in Los Angeles, CA”.

Travelling from St. Petersburg to L.A.- where she has spent a lot of time performing; still does to this day- it appears New York is her natural home. To be fair: our heroine has very little time to stand still and unpack her suitcase. With her music gathering applause and love: she is in-demand across the U.S.; one of the most in-demand musicians you can imagine. Since childhood, there was no doubt music was readymade for Alexandra Amor. Every song and performance brim with energy, love and passion. It is hard coming across musicians that are distinguished and have that potential to shine and last. I see so many that are brief and vague. Amor is one of those people you just know will never give up on her dreams: keep producing music for years to come. Her heroines- Alicia Keys and Amy Winehouse- go into her electric, lustful voice. Comparisons have been made with Alicia Keys and you can see why. There is that blend of intimacy and tenderness: the ability to reach to the sky and evoke something scintillating and raw. Maybe it is the rush and bustle of L.A. and New York; the cosmopolitanism and variation the cities provide- it all goes into making Alexandra Amor what she is. Not only (has Amor) worked hard on making herself stand out from the crowd- there are no other musicians like her- but her social media pages are filled with personal insight and revelation. Here is a woman that does not want to shut the listener off: she invites you into her world and embraces everyone.

That is a rarity, no doubt. How many musicians evoke that persona touch? A combination of staggering talent and down-to-Earth likeability has seen the Florida-born singer talked about in enfevered tones. There is something inaccessible about Amor, too. Not only one of the most striking, beautiful women in music: there is mystery, layers and hurt in her music. Like many out there: heartache and longing enforce a lot of the songs. Transitioning between relationships- and embracing the comforts of Bourbon- songs like Not Easy to Love make their voice heard. Mama is a track coming soon- the video has just been shot- and will be revealed to the world in a week. Unplugged is the sound of Alexandra Amor discovering herself and making her way in the world. Every song from the young American is filled with so much personality and layers. You never get songs that sound routine and ordinary: everything explodes with heart and soul. Not Easy to Love has been picking up effusive praise and a lot of praise- no wonder when you investigate it carefully. I find a lot of music’s legends have been fading, lately. In addition to some of our best-loved artists passing on- Prince and Bowie- bands like The Stone Roses and The Libertines have had shaky ‘comebacks’- Radiohead’s latest album is receiving mixed reviews. Even Alicia Keys- whose new single, In Common is out- is not up to her epic standards. Being a fan of Keys: I am disappointed to find she is following in the footsteps of Lady Gaga and Rhianna: producing music that sounds processed, seedy and anodyne. Lacking personality, depth and anything distinguished: one would hope Alicia Keys reverts to her previous self. The new musicians of the world are showing the most promise and potential. I am excited to see how far Alexandra Amor can go and just what the year holds.

Never Apologize is a song released a few months ago. Overflowing with gorgeous vocals and intensity: it seems to document a hard break-up and a fraught relationship. Never apologising for “the moments we had”: you sense the sweethearts have parted ways and it has not been a mutual decision. Our heroine is struggling to make a clean break; perhaps part of her heart belongs to her man. While the song has a mainstream Pop core: there is Soul and Country mingling to create an exceptional track. There is polish to the production- but not too much- that augments Amor’s stirring voice and confessional lyrics. It is a song that not only will grip fans of Pop and Soul: it is strong enough to unite various clans of music-lovers. Rearview has similar dynamics and themes at its heart (like Never Apologize). The composition and vocal are tender: it recalls the debut album-era sounds of Alicia Keys. Strands of Amy Winehouse make their way through. That raw and ragged Blues voice; the nimbleness and beauty of Keys: both combine in a song that sends shivers across the spine. Whether looking at the same relationship- and the fall-out from it- there seems to be a consistency at work. The heroine is looking back but she cannot forget the memories. Recalling standing on the front porch (“Smoking your last cigarette”) there is something tear-jerking and harrowing about a young woman that has invested herself into a bond- one that is broken and cracked. Amor has shown how diverse and consistent she is. Rearview owes more to the greats of Blues and Soul: Never Apologize a more contemporary, chart-honed song- Not Easy to Love sits in another avenue. A musician that has so many sides and contours: it makes her music surprising, original and nuanced. You never get the same song twice- not in terms of composition and vocal, at least- and are always provided something fresh and engaging. Not Easy to Love– in my opinion- is the finest song Amor has produced. From the vocal through to the production: it is a song that shows her at a peak. I know Mama is not far away: I will be fascinated to see how that measures; whether it goes in a new direction. The title begs images of family and the comforts of a mother: maybe something more introverted and family-based? It is hard to tell- social media photos show a snake has shown up on the set of the music video- so something sultry, dangerous and edgy might make its way to us. With Alexandra Amor you can never guess. One thing I can say is Unplugged contains so many gems and beautiful moments. Whether an album is coming this/next year- or there will be another E.P. – I cannot wait to find out.

I discovered Not Easy to Love through The Dutch Guy. Tipping it as one of his Sunday Smooth Groove choices: you can see why it has been singled-out. The Dutchman follows and supports the hottest and best artists around. Not someone that exaggerates and produces hyperbole: I was compelled to dig deep and give myself to the song. The opening notes ensure your attention does not wander and stray. A thudded and precise drumbeat mixes with stirring and rousing piano. Not mentioning Alicia Keys too much- comparisons have been levied- but you can hear embers of her Songs in A Minor work. There is a maturity- recollection of the Soul greats- and something direct and to-the-point. Horns blast and swagger: the beat tightens and the introduction explodes with colour, light and vivacity. The song looks at another side (to a rather uneasy) love. Written over Christmas last year: it saw the heroine transition into a relationship (with a bottle of bourbon, as she attests). Clearly there has been a fall-out and some fragmentation. Perhaps based on a former love: Amor confesses she is not easy to love. The boy- if current love or past obsession- may have had ideas and desires. Perhaps a perfect wife- Amor would have been- our girl is in-control and is not someone you can dictate to. I am not sure what has caused the ruction and imbalance- maybe they have different goals in life- but there is tenseness and stressfulness. You would not know from the lush and delicious vocals of Alexandra Amor. I have compared her with other singers- so you can draw a line to her heroines- but she comes into her own here. There’s grittiness and edge; the swooning soul and gorgeous, pin-sharp highs. The heroine is filled with emotion and pain. Few singers are that self-reflective and honest: admitting they are not perfect and have their flaws. In other numbers, Amor has looked at the man as the point of blame: someone who has caused hurt and has left her scarred. Now, we see the mirror turned and something revealing. The composition remains powerful yet sparse.

The beats keep the heartbeat taut and pulsating: there are few other notes and input. The spotlight is put into the vocal and an extraordinary performance. Amor elongates her words to ensure the emotion and potency hit the mark. That idea- not being easy to love- is reinterpreted and repeated. Whether bird-call and sweet; rushed and harrowed: each time, there is a new way of delivering those words. Amor looks at a “life once missed”- lies and dark forces into her mind- and you start to imagine scenes unfolding. “Catch me if you can” is a line that sees the heroine falling and looking for safety (if you dare, that is). Like her previous numbers: there is an obliqueness that can be found in the words. It is clear (Amor) can be challenging and have her demons: the circumstances behind the break-up/struggle is not fully revealed. Clearly there have been disputes between the lovers. Maybe they have had a good ride but are too very different people. You always empathise with the heroine and want things to be better. Despite dealing with hard subjects- a lover that has her faults- the sentiments never become too exhausting and strained. Every revocation of the thought brings new insight and depth. The chorus has a sing-along quality; you cannot help but join in towards the song’s end. Every stage of Not Easy to Love showcases what a beautiful voice Amor has. The voice rises and hiccups; it swells and sways: there are so many different dimensions and sides to it. You can tell how important music is to Alexandra Amor.

She is not someone who cemented her voice years ago and is resting on her laurels. Every song sees her grow stronger and more assured; confident and more exhilarating. While you can detect little bits Alicia Keys and Amy Winehouse: the abiding take-away is a very strong and impressive original performance. You will be captivated by the voice as it is bare-naked and pure. There is no rushing electronic cover-up or heavy percussion: she is exposed and there for all to hear. Were the song weak and stereotyped, you would not come back to it. As it is, Not Easy to Love hits you upon first listen. Compelled to come back and keep hearing it: a song that grows and stays inside the mind. The song is chorus-heavy, which is no shock. The truth and background are quite heavy- how the lovers arrived at this point- and Not Easy to Love is an explanation and simple missive. The boy might be hopeful and expect something fairytale and unrealistic. At the heart of things is a brave young woman admitting her flaws and imperfections. The way that is presented leaves the listener sighing and seduced, fully. By the time you reach the final notes, your heart belongs fully to Amor. Never vile and accusatory- so many of her peers take that side- it is a heartfelt and emotional song that deserves respect and attention. Change is a scary process- as Alexandra Amor has admitted- but worth the risk. I hope she is happier and more contented- it seems that way- because you would hate to think demons and regrets linger in the heart. Old relations and past loves have gone into music of the highest order. Not Easy to Love is another nugget of gold from her Unplugged record. Mama will be premiered very soon: I cannot wait to hear what that sounds like. Improving, evolving and changing with every song: there is no one like Alexandra Amor. A sensational musician I know will make it big: do not ignore the U.S. treasure.

Mama has been gathering excitement and predictions: just what the song will sound like. Amor is releasing songs at quite a rate: ensuring her fans are kept informed and pleased; not letting anyone forget her in a hurry. That would be impossible: few can ignore just what an exceptional proposition we have. There are so many female solo artists out there; it makes it hard choosing which posses that spark and originality. Taking influence from Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, and Christina Aguilera- the raw fire and soulfulness; the stunning voice and punch- there is something very personal and relatable about Amor. She writes songs that we can all understand and connect with. Whether you have been heartbroken or find yourself in an uneven relationship- you will be able to extrapolate something from what she sings. The voice, passion, and beauty all come together in something packed with sweetness, spice and flavor. A honeyed voice that has some whiskey-soaked undertones: a musician that we should all start following more closely. Not Easy to Love has just dropped and has resonated with the fans and listeners. A song that could fit into any radio station’s playlists: it has been getting a lot of attention across the U.S. Having conquered Florida, L.A. and New York: there is no telling what Alexandra Amor can achieve. My music reviewing comrade The Dutch Guy has just featured her- stole the idea from him, to be honest- and he knows proper talent when he hears it. British publications and listeners are discovering Amor: she is a musician that has a worldwide appeal and reputation. Let’s hope she can make her way over here and treat us to some gigs. She would go down a storm in London: in fact, the U.K. would fall for her pretty hard. Europe would wait; so too would Australia: she could go anywhere she wanted and have huge crowds waiting. The reason for this lies in the music which has a simplicity and honesty to it. There are not layers of production and clichés building up. You have a woman that is putting her life onto the page with no pretense and fakery. Every word comes from the heart and is delivered with the maximum amount of drive, commitment, and beauty.

Mama is unleashed on the 20th– part of Amor’s record, Unplugged– and will get a lot of heat and patronage. Not Easy to Love has soulfulness and intensity: there is something heartbreaking and tense under the surface. Let’s hope our heroine is in a good place- and finds herself with a good, honest man- because here is someone who has been through an incredibly tough time. This pain and heartbreak results in some of the best music coming out of the U.S. I recommend everyone spins Not Easy to Love and waits for Mama’s release. Having grown-up and played in Florida- the state is producing some fine musicians- the lure of L.A. and New York proved too strong. These cities have provided Alexandra Amor the chance to exploit her talent and find inspiration. She seems at home among the rushing traffic and busy streets. Within the diverse neighbourhoods and wonderful music community: Amor is going to be one of the big names to watch. I am not sure what her touring schedule looks like but I am confident she will be traveling across the country. She may be Unplugged but there is something very electrifying and switched-on about Amor. Few singers have the ability to seduce you the one moment: kick through the ceiling the next. This year is going to be a hot and exciting one (for Amor). If you are unfamiliar with her brand of music: ensure you check her out and see a wonderful artist on the rise. If we ask hard enough, who knows…

SHE may come and play in the U.K.



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