Young You




Young You is available at:

13th June 2016



Bergen, Norway


JUST today I have managed to make a few decisions and experience a lot of…

different music. This morning, I started things off with a look at Jimmy and the Mustangs’ track, Cherry Bomb. A melting of Rockabilly swing and current Blues: a song that has left an impression and introduced me to a terrific U.S. band. A couple of hours later I get to dig into a Norwegian summer-ready band who differ completely. Music’ mystical unexpectedness and vast arrays continue to produce incredible artists. Before I come to the Bergen band; I wanted to look at Norwegian and Scandinavian acts; being ready for summer and what is to come; the way this year is shaping up (in terms of great new sounds). It has been a while since I visited Norway- a few years ago was the last review- and am very familiar with the artists coming from there. In the past, I have investigated Danish and Swedish artists: they have a different way of working and way of life; personalities that explode from the page and intrigue the listener. When we think of Norway and music our minds instantly race to Black-Metal and Thrash: heavier music that projects images of face-painted men and scream-a-thon tracks.

Whilst that is a part of the country- Sweden has a big Metal economy, too- Norway is a lot more deep and varied than you’d think. Consider Bergen and you everyone from Edvard Grieg, Kings of Convenience and God Seed hail from here- three very distinct and unconnected acts. Kings of Convenience, in fact, are one of my favourite acts from the last couple of decades. I love their gentle Acoustic Folk and gorgeous harmonies: how they can transport the listener somewhere beautiful and riparian. Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe are the brains behind Kings of Convenience: they take you around the west coast principality; across the fjords, mountains, and cityscape- so many different sights and scenes for the listener to enjoy. Those not keen on the ‘acquired’ taste of Dimmu Borgir, Gorgoroth and Enslaved have plenty of gentler, more accessible options. Röyksopp is one of Norway’s most-celebrated acts. The Electronica/Trip-Hop duo provide emotionally resonant and maudlin songs: tracks that have a sorrow but never drag you down. They are reflective tracks and balance whimsy and emotional intellect. With Sweden producing so many tremendous Electro.-Pop artists- those that can bring sunshine and warmth into music- Norway is not exactly second-fiddle. Aurora’s dreamy Pop and Awill’s lo-fi-set rapping are setting the nation alight: Emilie Nicolas and Comet Kid are names to watch. The latter is a band who write heartfelt, catchy songs. Mixing Soul, Blues, and Pop: they are a band that has an international future. Nicolas has a warm, entrancing voice that has resonated with fans and critics in Norway.

Farao and Highasakatie are national favourites that provide contradictions and variation. Sparse, hollow moments lead to rich, dramatic highs. Kid Astray’s catchy Pop and Samsaya’s infectious India-Swedish mashing (she hails from India) are garnering serious attention and praise (thanks to website Highsnobiety for recommendations). KMF- or Kakkmaddafakka (a tenner for anyone who can pronounce that first time!)- are one of Norway’s finest exports. Before I plod on; let me introduce KMF to you:


Axel Vindenes – Guitar and Vocals

Pål Vindenes – Cello and Vocals

 Stian Sævig – Bass and Vocals

Kristoffer van der Pas – Drums

Sebastian Emin Kittelsen –Piano

Lars Helmik Raaheim-Olsen-Choir / Percussion

The band hail from the beautiful city of Bergen, where they have grown from a small local group to an internationally recognised act. Their Facebook band page currently has over 150, 000 likes.

Having toured all over the world, KMF regularly play to 5000 fans at their own club shows across the continent and have appeared at and headlined stages at renowned festivals such as Melt! Festival, the Montreux Jazz FestivalArenal Sound in Spain and Hurricane FestivalWith support constantly coming their way, they seem destined to continue onwards and upwards and are not likely to stop until their out the stratosphere 

The group proclaim themselves to be ‘sauna extremists’, having gone so far as to perform naked in a sauna once on Norwegian national news!

Amongst sauna-extremism, the band’s other hobbies include football, gaming and Djing (two of the members Axel and Pål run a popular club concept ‘Klubben’ and a hip hop night in Bergen – proof of a band with eclectic musical tastes).

On May 31st the band will be playing an exclusive UK show at the prestige O2 Academy Islington. 

‘Young You’ is out June 13th and is set to appear on the group’s upcoming self-titled album KMF set for release July 3rd.


The guys have been playing since 2004 and are growing in stature and potential. Their social media numbers and accolades speak for themselves. The fact they have amassed vital festival dates and support/headline slots: the band is going nowhere any time soon. Their eponymous album is released on July 3rd and will include the new single, Young You. The band is capable of enthralling muddy festival-goers and getting bodies jumping- helpless to resist the lure and power of the songs they hear. When needed, the boys can tone it down and lead you somewhere comforting and nature-set- a safe place you can rest your head. The summer is coming- apparently so- and the sun will come out at some point. I am not sure what the weather is like in Bergen today: here (London-way) is a typically cloud-strewn, rain-lashed day. When summer finally does rock up: we need to discover musicians that soundtrack that weather. Today- a juxtaposition and odd synchronicity- is seeing me listening to Dizzee Rascal and watching Made in Chelsea (don’t judge me; it’s an illness!).  The fast-flow, slick raps (of Rascal) and authoritative performances have summer written all over there.

Fire-cracking slammers like Fix Up, Look Sharp– complete with industrial beats, awesome samples, and endless swagger- are backed with instantly memorable tracks and intelligent, near-genius lyrics. The Made in Chelsea gang- idiots and nauseating as they- are always decked in sunshine and expense; there is something compelling about the whole thing. Weird as my listening/viewing clash is: it gets me thinking about warmer days and the city. I know a few people in music/P.R.- D.J.s and promoters- who are enjoying city breaks and taking their music across the world. KMF are already primed for the hotter months: they latest offering is an instant tune that gets the head spinning and the arms pumped. The guys seem eternally cheery and optimistic: a band that makes you smile; whose music does thing rather wonderful to the soul. This year has seen wonderful albums from the likes of Paul Simon; fantastic tracks from The Avalanches, De La Soul and The Stone Roses. Things are hotting-up and some of this year’s finest achievements are being crafted. KMF are a band who could rub shoulders- in terms of quality- with legends like Simon and De La Soul.


Over the past few years; KMF have released the albums Down to Earth (2007), Hest (2011) and Six Months is a Long Time (2013): five singles have been spawned (including their latest) and has keep the quality level high from the very start. Previous tracks like Your Girl– from the album Hest– boasts catchy chorus lines and an eye-catching video (lots of in-love couples kissing). It is one of those festivals tunes that is simple and effective: a song you can sing along to and lose yourself in. The song’s lyrics of confusion, sleeplessness and caution are balanced with a glistening, effervescent vocal and composition. Restless (from the same album) is a racing, stuttering track that has such attack and drive. The feather-light guitars are frantic and spirited. The band- who creates another evocative video- put in a stellar performance. A modern-sounding track- that could fit into this year’s sounds- shows how ahead and intuitive the band is. Between Down to Earth and Hest: the songs become stronger and distinct; the performances tighter and emotive.

This qualitative leap reappeared on Six Months is a Long Time– it goes into their eponymous album. To be fair, the boys were astonishing and complete from their debut. Subsequent albums did not need leaps and vast improvements. The changes and developments are small ones. Songs are tighter and more disciplined. The sense of nuance grows and the confidence has climbed. The songwriting itself is more wide-ranging and the instrumentations show more depth and difference- never becoming wayward, unfocused and generic. It is the consistencies- rather than the changes- that impress me most about KMF. The band is one of the most reliable and dependable in all of music. With each album, you do not get weak moments and filler songs. KMF is their most eclectic and revelatory album to date. For a group that enjoys gaming, football and D.J. nights- two of the band members perform at a Hip-Hop night in Bergen- it is not a surprise their music reflects this eclecticism. I know blogs and reviewers will be lining up to sum the album up and see how the music has evolved. It is an exciting time for the Norwegian band. They are in inspired form and have taken influence from different countries and cultures. Mixing love songs with personal investigation: the songs balance bright and brash with restrained and tender. This inspiration feeds into their latest single, Young You.

Racing piano notes- almost evoking the sound of ‘80s/’90s club floor-fillers- get Young You off to a galloping, light-hearted start. The piano has a vibrancy and richness that contains romance, soul and vibrancy. It is the energy and catchiness that builds and grows: the introduction blossoms and bubbles; you cannot escape its sparkle and exuberance. The initial words are a paen to a girl: someone who has caused a stir and acting as a life raft. Our hero recalls when they first met. He was blown off his feet and amazed by her beauty and presence. His “something new”; a person that came along at the right time. There are arguments, doubts, and tears- in a night or two she’ll be fine; the tears will dry- there is that defiance and expectation. The couple was going to prove them all wrong- perhaps their naturalness and compatibility have been met with dubious sighs- and you can feel that rebellion and stubbornness. Lying on the grass in the park “all day long” is an idyllic scene that is a perfect romantic vision: something that seems less tangible as time goes on. Perhaps a rift or passage of time has put a strain on the relationship. You get the impression the lovers are apart and need to sort things out. Perhaps other people’s input and negative reactions have taken their toll; damaged something that was pure and strong. Our hero has optimism things will work out and everything will right itself. There is a detached, almost nonchalant, demeanour to the early vocals. The girl is crying but she’ll be fine soon enough: it is delivered matter-of-fact rather than sensitively. You forgive these oversites as there is purity and compassion in the voice: you know how much his girl means and how he wants their love to survive.

The composition is a light and breezy. Supporting the reverb-heavy vocals and creating a perfect summer backdrop: you imagine yourself under a tree by the river; watching people go by in the heat of the afternoon. Groovy bass and precise percussion ensure there is that commingling of tight and loose: the song is never tense nor is it bleary. The Shakespearian, Romeo and Juliet-esque bond start to grow as the evening draws in. After the afternoon lazing and dreaming: the sweethearts sojourn to a club where they can dance away their troubles. Doing things many would “consider wrong”- your imagination will have its own limitations of what that involves- there is youthful recklessness and frivolity. Against the doubting tongues and naysayers: they are embracing their passion and living whilst they are young. It is mysterious why the relationship has met with such disapproval. It is clear the two have overcome hurdles and faced conflict- with others and themselves. Stronger together than apart: you are drawn into their movements and are walking along with them. “Watch the sunrise from the rooftop” is a line that very easily leads you to imagine and envision. Underneath the perfect images and scenarios, there is that teary-eyed coda. The heroine will be fine in a night or two- she’s crying but it is never explained why- and you wonder what has occurred. That is when the title starts to show a malevolent undercurrent. Young You leads me to think about two different girls: the new flame is a younger version of a former love. The forgotten ex-girlfriend is wiping away the tears whilst the new girl- more agile, fresh and desired- is gaining the spoils of war. It is a cynical approach but everyone will have their own interpretation of events. Whatever the circumstances of the song you forget about it and get caught in the beautiful vocals and composition. That central performance has heart and passion: such is the projection and accentuation; every line is brought to life and given a distinct spin. The bouncy, upbeat backdrop sees jubilant piano and punchy beats spring into life. It is the piano which steals focus at the half-way mark. Again, recalling the likes of Black Box- a little Ride of Time comes into the mix- you are transported back to the ‘90s Dance scene.

A needed break- giving people a chance to collect their thoughts and put the pieces together- the compositional break has its own merit and gravity. That glorious, strident piano line transports your mind across the oceans- at this point in the music video; we see a plane soar against a sunset sky. “Young you/I’m leaving you/in a year with a stranger” (apologies if I have misquoted) throws up more possibilities and ideas. What do those words mean? Part of me was thinking of two girls and new love: a newer version of an old girlfriend. As new lines come through; perhaps there is something less obvious at heart. Whatever the true nature and reality of the lyrics: you cannot deny how well-crafted and unique they are. Few bands have such a way with words. Every sentiment seems obvious but then you doubt yourself: change your mind and have different opinions. Our hero is crying tonight- leaving no room for ambiguity- and will be fine in “a year or two”. Heartbroken and affected- more so than his girl, it seems- that defeat and crushing blow is never brought into the vocal. The lead keeps things buoyant and above-the-surface: never allowing his inner-demons and anger to come out. A wounded soul that is making sense of things- perhaps unable to reconcile what has happened- yet more mystery comes in. KMF are masters when it comes to complex/obvious lyrics; easy and light compositions- the combination is hugely evocative. Young You continues where Six Months is a Long Time leaves off- the three-year break has not seen any lack of quality- and is, perhaps, their most instant track ever. That is no small part because of the composition which continues to yield gold and emotion.

That Ride on Time-piano dance has energy, youth, and rapture; the bass is teasing, swooning and grooving- the percussion keeps firm and ensures discipline remains in the song. The final minute sees the instrumentation exploited and fostered. Yearning, aching guitar and rampant piano take us into the night. By the close, one wonders how things worked out for both parties. Heavy emotions are being traded and explored: the exact origins and realities are open for debate. After mentioning Made in Chelsea– not as derisively as you’d think- Young You seems like a song that could soundtrack a scene. A typical M.i.C. set-up: two ‘lovers’ revealing a misadvised kiss; a tense conversation unfolds before one storms off- the other is left looking on pensively. Maybe that would cheapen KMF’s music but my point remains: their music has that popular edge that is going to be snapped-up by T.V. shows and radio. Young You boasts one of the best outros. I have heard in many years. On its own merit is could exist: extend it for several minutes and you’d have a club jam on your hands. The third track from their self-titled album: Young You shows just how mature and accomplished the Norwegian band is. Few acts- regardless of how long they’ve been together- create songs as universal and loveable as this. A catchy, play-it-until-it-loses-all-meaning song that is going to be the soundtrack for the summer.

Since their debut album Down to Earth: the band has been working hard and ensuring they are in the public consciousness. Not just confined to Norway’s audiences and press: the guys have a huge international reputation and have toured around the globe. Last month, the chaps played O2 Academy Islington– a gig that was very well-received and introduced them to a lot of new, British fans. I hope the band comes back to England when it gets a bit sunnier. I can see them effortlessly slotting into the festival rotation. In the huge parks and on the big stages: their brand of music is likely to get the audiences unified in ecstatic dance; capable of bringing sunshine where there is rain. I looked at a few Norwegian acts in the first half of this review. Truls’ high falsetto, hook-laden, Electro.-Pop beauty has already won the nation’s heart. Mr. Little Dreams is another stunning Norwegian singer (although Mr. Little Dream’s heroine has relocated to California). The nation has been producing game-changing artists for a long time. The new wave of young, talented artists- from Electro.-Pop to Folk and Indie- are rivalling the best the U.K. and U.S. have to offer.

I have always loved Swedish music- and reviewed a lot of acts there- and Norway should not be overlooked. Perhaps dispelling the clichés we associate with the nation- the Heavy-Metal acts and harsh sounds- there are so many elliptical, summer-tinged artists poking through. Songs that have an alacrity and anthemic quality- able to get festivals enflamed- are making their way to Britain. It has been great assessing KMF and I will follow them with eagerness and scrutiny. It is difficult paying close attention to every country with regards music. The media do their best to promote openness and disclosure: not just sticking with homegrown acts and chart sounds. I am in a rarified position- a reviewer who gets sent all sorts of acts- but more people are starting to look beyond British borders. Our music scene is fantastic but it is always wise to embrace other nations and what they are producing ensuring our tastes are not homogenised and rigid. If you have always considered Norway a minor player on the music world’s stage: you might need to think again and reassess that viewpoint. Young You is a sumptuous taster from their new album. The group has always commanded respect and is synonymous with their consistency, quality, and stunning songs. Every new album from KMF brings something new and daring. Their self-titled L.P. is their most confident and anticipated. Legions of new fans will be eager to see what they can come up with- they will not be disappointed, for sure. Early buzz is talking about the record is heated and fevered tones. Young You is a typical example of what to expect. The group do show variation- more introverted moments among the high-energy songs- but show what a proposition they are. Perhaps the British mainstream has not fully embraced them: that has got to change with their new album. Their festival-ready, radio-primed music pushes nobody away and takes no prisoners: tracks that urge you to get moving and involved. The band have just come back from a tour of Europe- taking in Spain, Switzerland, and Britain into their itinerary- and will be back on the road before too long.

When the L.P. is released; the demand will be there and they are going to have a very busy summer. The sun is absent from London- and U.K. in general- and many are seeking something warm, enriching and flavoursome. KMF provoke so many different emotions it is hard to take it all in. You cannot listen to one of their songs and be in a bad mood- it should be prescribed as medication; it’s that powerful! As my afternoon ticks away- Dizzee Rascal’s music still spinning; Made in Chelsea’s stars bemoaning failed relations and cheating ‘friends’- it is great having Young You at the forefront. I will grab their album when it is out and know it will be met with passion and praise. Their three previous albums have shown they’re a band that is adaptable and ever-changing. Whilst you get that reliable concoction of positive sunshine and more reflective tracks: the band keeps growing stronger and more confident as they go along. It is hardly surprising they are so convincing and urgent given the amount of tour dates they have accrued. We look forward to the summer months and what the band will be doing. Of course, more tour dates will come but where will that take them?  I am not sure how widespread their name is in the U.S. It seems like KMF could easily fit into L.A. and New York. Both cities have vibrant, multicultural scenes that would welcome the Bergen-based boys into their bosom. L.A. is particularly hot when it comes to KMF’s brand of music. Maybe the following year will see them gain dates in the country. The band has a loyal and heavy following in Europe: surely Asia and Australia will fall under their spell? That possibility is quite a daunting one for a young band. After just putting their feet back on home soil; they are faced with the possibility of worldwide tours and commitment. It is perhaps their own fault: were their music not so wondrous and spellbinding they would not have that pull. If you look out the window and see clouds, rain and something very un-spring-like: put Young You on; close your eyes…

AND forget about it all.



Follow KMF









TRACK REVIEW: Jimmy and the Mustangs- Cherry Bomb



Jimmy and the Mustangs



Cherry Bomb





Cherry Bomb is available at:




Los Angeles/Texas, U.S.A.

The album Another Round can be purchased here:


1st October 2015


Roll the Dice

Cherry Bomb

Ready, Set, Go! (A Tribute to Gene)

Her Love is Gone

Rock My World

I Won’t Cry for You

Hotel San Jose

Bourbon Street

Love is Just Pretend

Long Black Train


THERE are so few Rockabilly artists out there…

making their presence curious and interesting. Music seems to work on the assumption everything needs to be forward-thinking and modern. You find comparatively few artists that look back and revoke the sounds of the past- genres that have been overlooked and passed by. I get to review so few ‘mature’ bands that have been playing for a while: evolved their music and lived an incredible life. So much of music is transitory and temporary. With the pressure on musicians and succeeding instantly: so few last for decades and manage to exist. It is a sad sign of the industry that a lot of bands and artists are crumbling under pressure. Those that overcome the hurdles and pitfalls of music- the fortitude and talent to remain and prosper- are to be congratulated. My featured artist- who I shall come to in a moment- has been playing since the ‘80s: emanating from the Californian Punk scene to their current base of Texas- playing Rockabilly sounds that date to the early-‘50s. Rockabilly itself started in the South of the U.S. and brought together genres like Country, Rhythm-and-Blues, and Bluegrass- a portmanteau of ‘Rock’ and ‘Hillbilly’. Boogie Woogie, Jump Blues, and Western Swing. Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly were the forerunners of the initial movement and opened it up to the masses. The ‘60s saw Rockabilly decline- it sounded outdated and out-of-touch; artists like The Beatles did try to keep it alive, in some respects- and saw its number decline.

During the 1970s and ‘80s, bands like The Stray Cats re-sparked the flame and brought (the music) back in vogue. Since then, there have been various movements and genres- Rockabilly has mutated and spawned genres like Punk-Rock and Neo-Rockabilly. The latter is represented by bands like Kings of Leon, The White Stripes and Morrissey. Whilst it might be hard to draw a line from Rockabilly to those artists: each were influenced by the genre; taking a little something into their own music. Whether the north-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line examples like Bill Flagg; Tennessee acts The Burnettes and Burlison (and) Presley; Tennessee’s Carl Perkins– you cannot deny the effects and inspiration these musicians provided (to the current crop). While Punk-Rock and Neo-Rockabilly have replaced Rockabilly: there is a clan of revivalists that are ensuring Rockabilly’s core and purity is kept alive. European interest in Rockabilly has seen musicians like Imelda May update and polish Rockabilly. Before I continue my point, let me introduce Jimmy and the Mustangs to you:

Jimmy and the Mustangs is an American roots rock band fronted by Jimmy Haddox. Emerging from the Punk Scene in Southern California during the 80’s, Jimmy and the Mustangs played their first live show to a sold out audience opening for the renowned all girl band, The Go-Go’s. At the time, the band’s “root’s music” was fueled by fury driven; gut wrenching guitars, not unlike their punk contenders of that era. As the band progressed, a more definitive sound began to evolve and Jimmy and the Mustangs carved out a style of Rockabilly and Swing unlike any other band in Los Angeles at the time. World famous Hollywood Nightclubs like The Whiskey, The Roxy and The Starwood began booking Jimmy and the Mustangs as an opening act for L.A. bands such as X, The Blasters and Los Lobos as well as touring bands such as Chuck Berry, The Stray Cats and Joe Ely, just to name a few. It wasn’t long before Jimmy and the Mustangs were headlining the same clubs with sold out shows of their own.

In a 1982 Los Angeles Times review of their sold-out Roxy show “filled with uaff-headed rocking cats and their petticoated kittens”, the group was described as “not just a band. The Roxy show featured a full-scale production number, complete with guest musicians, guest singers” and others.
Not long after being hired by Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame to perform at his own private party, the band was sought out by Bruce Springsteen who joined them onstage. An East Coast Tour followed. Upon returning home to L.A., the band received its first record deal with Vanity Records, which sold an excess of 40,000 copies. Television and Movie appearances followed. A self-titled E.P. was released on the Curb/MCA label and included the song “Justine” which was made into a video and received play on MTV (back when it was cool). Jimmy has a new lineup and is playing to great audiences throughout Texas. Look for exciting things in the coming months

 Jimmy  Mustangs One2One-77

Jimmy and the Mustangs is a band that adds shine and freshness to Rockabilly: something bracing, electric and new. Imelda May has ensured Rockabilly is kept in the mindset and forefront: critics have latched onto albums like Tribal (her last, released in 2014): the music reverberates with energy and declaration- it is impossible to ignore the force and authority of the songs. Jimmy and the Mustangs are playing Rockabilly in its natural location: the South of the U.S. Exciting and enthralling artists in Texas; the guys released Another Round at the end of 2015. The album is packed with tracks that introduce colourful characters; ‘50s-influenced romances and combustible, get-your-feet-dancing tunes. Texas is not the first location you’d look to for brilliant, exciting music. It might be naïve but states like California and New York are higher in the rankings: the natural leaders for the best new music in America. Texas should not be overlooked. If you want something gritty, raucous and Outlaw-Folk: Dirty Rover Boys from El Paso are your bag. Hip-Hop master Fat Tony has excited Houston (and Texas) with his exceptional music. San Antonio’s Hacienda are an Indie-Rock band on the rise; The Tontons (Houston) thrill you with Indie-Rock swagger- Wild Moccasins evoke the spirit of Blondie and Talking Heads. You can’t ignore the quality and variety coming out of Texas. We tend to get too obsessed with California and New York for our U.S. music: that comes at the detriment of other states. Jimmy and the Mustangs are one of the most unique and exciting bands playing Texas- their fan numbers are solid and they have a great local reputation. Playing in Austin: they are in a city that has seen some exceptional acts come and go. 13th Floor Elevators, Butthole Surfers, and Explosions in the Sky call Austin home. Throw in Black Angel and Spoon and it is a city well worth closer scrutiny.

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Another Round is the band’s most up-to-date record: we can look back and see how they have changed and adapted. The line-up for Jimmy and the Mustangs has changed over the years- along with their sound. Another Round is a more adventurous and compelling collection- compared with older work- and shows more urgency, depth and memorability. The songs are fresher, wittier and more intriguing: the vocals are at their peak and the band is as exceptional as you could imagine. The band began life (with an older line-up) opening for acts like X, The Blasters and Los Lobos– when they started life in L.A. Playing clubs like The Whiskey and The Roxy: the gang toured with the likes of The Stray Cats and Chuck Berry: establishing themselves as one of the best bands on the West Coast. By 1982, Jimmy and the Mustangs exploded. Their shows were productions that featured quaffed, quaff-headed guys and beautiful women; full-scale replications of 1950s Rockabilly- a time-warp that seduced critics and put them on the map. Given their status and reputation (in the ‘80s): the likes of Robert Plant and Bruce Springsteen hired them; lined-up to work with them. The band toured the West and East Coast: they signed with Vanity Records when they returned to L.A. T.V. and film appearances- getting their music to the wider audience- lead to M.T.V. exposure and support. The ‘first phase’ of Jimmy and the Mustangs- 1982’s Hey Little Girl to their eponymous E.P. in 1984- saw them at their peak. The original line-up made some incredible music and clearly resonated with U.S. (and international) audiences. Having moved to Texas; the new- improved, to my mind- band is something you need to hear.

Jimmy and the Mustangs might not enjoy the same success they enjoyed in the 1980s- that is not to say they have lost their step. If anything, they are at the peak of their powers. Another Round is an album that digs into music’s past and comes up with many gems. More expansive, wide-ranging and impassioned than ever before- it is their greatest work so far. Back in the ‘80s; Rockabilly was enjoying something of a resurgence- it started to die-off and crumble in the 1990s. Given the demand and popularity: it was not surprising Jimmy and the Mustangs accrued fans, airplay and T.V. attention. In today’s scene; Rockabilly is less-popular and has to work harder to stick in the mind. There are a lot of similarly-minded acts playing: the mainstream and popular stations have embraced other genres- Rockabilly acts are seen as niche and underground. For that reason, sticking in the imagination is a harder task; it takes more talent and drive. Another Round is not just an album that does Rockabilly proud: it could challenge with any of the best albums from this year- or last year; if you want to dabble with semantics.

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Cherry Bomb is the song I want to focus on: I feel it best represents the sound and personality of Another Round. The defiance and get-to-the-dancefloor attitude are personified in this track. Blogs and the media have been heaping praise of Another Round. I was keen to see if the band- who started as a Punk-Rock act, remember- approached Cherry Bomb. Before you can prime your senses- and get your head together- the band rock in with a rousing, call-to-arms celebration. The horns blare with sassiness and ripe receptiveness; the percussions get into the groove and give the song a definite kick and drive. Such a tropical, colourful and dance-worthy introduction- part of you is inside an island-vibe conga; the other in the milkshake parlours of the 1950s- ensures you’re fascinated and smiling. I love a song that gets down to business right away. Jimmy Haddox is a man who is direct and clear: he wants the listener engaged and dancing in the first seconds. When our hero comes to the microphone, he has some heavy burdens on his shoulders. Cherry Bomb– perhaps the name of his sweetheart: you wonder who is causing such stress and anxiety. Cherry Bomb is a title that has been employed by a number of artists- in addition to being the name of a firework. A 1976 single from Punk band, The Runaways; a 2009 film; a recent album by Tyler, the creator- few have taken that name and created something as spirited and jubilant. Even when assessing something scornful and deceitful- his girl is treating him badly; his heart is being torn- there is no depressive undertone or sorrowful mood. The band ensures things are light and breezy- without cheapening the sentiments or burying true emotions. “Come on baby light my fuse” is a declaration that had me intrigued.

Despite being poorly treated or teased- you imagine there is a flirtatiousness that is getting our man hot- Haddox is ready to sweat and explode- ready to get down and dirty. One wonders whether Cherry Bomb looks at a girl or a car. Perhaps a sobriquet for a cherished muscle car: something that is unreliable but provides growl and excitement; a ride you can pound through the desert landscapes. That said, the lyrics must lead many to more obvious conclusions: a special woman is in the frame; someone titillating and pure; kitten-like and sexual- a brilliant fusion of ‘50s innocence and modern-day sexuality. “Your love is driving me insane” as it is told. Enraptured and caught in a spider’s web: will our hero be able to set himself free? The composition continues to swing with reckless abandon and a gleeful smile. You picture petticoat-wearing girls serving at a diner: the jukebox blaring and patrons chatting and reveling. Other tracks on Another Round have more modern, gritty sounds: Cherry Bomb is a pure, unfettered nod to the halcyon days of Rockabilly. The hero is burning for the girl but, like Icarus flying towards the sun, he has got too close. Perhaps she is a temptress that lures men to their fate- a Siren on the rocks- but Haddock is keen to take a chance and sacrifice his heart. Tones that remind me of early-days Elvis Presley- there is that same burr and Memphis drawl- you hope (the hero) gets satisfaction. Few modern songs have that blend of innocence and sex: a chaste and courtship-like romance with the intention of satisfaction and sweat. It is a cocktail that gives Cherry Bomb a two-level appeal. The “firecracker” and dynamite- at this point; comparisons to the firework are most pertinent- is burning our man. Unable to get too close- maybe our guys are swarming- every listener will have their own view. I imagined a blonde girl in a red dress. A red lipstick-wearing heroine with red heels and an alluring smile: a Marilyn Monroe-cum-Jean Harlow figure that gets the guys swooning and blushing. Imbued with a fiery edge and sharp tongue- elements of Dorothy Parker to her, maybe? – I can understand the appeal. Jimmy and the Mustang’s lead wants his fuse lit- it is a firework metaphor but you can’t help thinking of smuttier images- and satisfaction.

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Many reviews have compared Another Round’s music with Grease and its flair. When listening to the songs- especially Cherry Bomb– you cannot help but transport yourself to a past time. At his most wracked and edgy: our man elicits a wolf-like howl; the horns blare with intensity and the entire band is at their (electric) best. If you isolate the composition; one will notice all the little details come together. A piano roll here; neat little drum fills and nuanced brass. The band does not sit in the background and merely provide support for their leader. Instead, they create a wonderful, rich score that gets the imagination wondering and projects a film scene in the mind. Jazzy, riffed horn lines add urgency and force: you get a real burst and thrust from the instruments; adding such a vibrancy and candour to the song. Whilst the hero takes a few seconds out- needing to regroup and recharge the batteries- the band step forward and provide a beautiful interlude. A carnival-like atmosphere gives Cherry Bomb such a sway and swagger. After the horns have done their thing- very assuredly and wonderfully- the electric guitars come forth. Blues-flavoured and meaningful: catchy, barbed-wire riffs get under the skin and will invigorate the senses. From the sexual, intense sound of the horns- representing desire, seduction and inner-tension- the guitars evoke firework crackle and explosive vixens- the effect the girl is having on the hero. Soon enough, Haddox has come back- taken a cold shower and had a beer, perhaps?- and is back for more. It seems the two have a history together- “Every time we kiss…” suggests they are in a relationship- and he is completely smitten. Every kiss sends shivers and shakes through his bones; the blood runs hot and the head spins.

A cross between Have Love Will Travel (The Sonics) and Little Willie John’s I’m Shakin’: you get such much grove, bravado and confidence come through. From the wise-stepping and cautious openings- our hero standing in line and desperate for release- he is a more satisfied and contented place. The final minutes sees a reinterpretation of the opening sentiments. Whilst in her thoughts and affections: those heart-melting, soul-shaking ruction is still occurring. The sweat drips and the nerves are frayed. Even when together and in a relationship: the girl is still causing this pain and tease. Maybe things will never be different. Perhaps she will always keep him at arm’s-length and be a temptress. By the closing notes- the band are still fully primed and tight- our man lets out a howl and seems completely bereft. Cherry Bomb gives Another Round personality, zest, and dance. There are other tracks that have a similar energy and charm: none has quite the same effect and aftertaste. Polished, rich production values ensure all the instruments and vocals burst into the brain. You can imagine what a fun time the guys had in the studio. Never a static and phoned-in performance: one envisages the musicians smiling and dancing as they played. Jimmy Haddox sounds like a man possessed. He must have been rocking and moving all around the vocal booth- recalling a particular girl who has left her mark on his heart. You know (the song’s heroine) is not intentionally cruel: she is one of those women who could have her pick of men. Let’s hope our man managed to win the girl and felt more relaxed down the line. Cherry Bomb is a track that never loosens its grasp and continues to impress- long after it has ended.

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The guys from Jimmy and the Mustangs have been a little quiet lately. Their album was released last year: since then; they have been touring it and promoting it. In terms of new music, I am not sure if they have any plans for the rest of this year. Perhaps another album will come (in 2017) or a single: something that keeps them in the mind and ensures momentum remains. You would forgive the guys for taking a break and letting the dust settle for a bit. Having performed since the ‘80s: Jimmy Haddox is not someone who takes time out and puts his feet up. From his days in the Punk-Rock scene to Jimmy and the Mustangs: a musician that has survived and prospered; giving inspiration to many out there. I began by stating how many musicians are short-term and temporary. Given the financial and commercial pressures (new musicians) face: many are unable to meet demands and collapse under the strain. Even the finest, most-original acts find it tough going. Jimmy Haddox has lasted so long due to his evolving songwriting and dedication to music. From the woozy brass and romantic vocals of Hotel San Jose; the jive and dance of Roll the Dice; the Blues stomp of I Won’t Cry for YouAnother Round has something for everyone. While Rockabilly will find it hard appealing to everyone- it might never make its way fully back into the mainstream- it should not be ignored or mocked. Far from it. Given the tremendous energy, positivity and retro. charm of it- it is a style of music that provides smile and uplift. Even if you were not alive in the ‘50s- I, for example- that does not mean Rockabilly will be lost on you.

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Jimmy and the Mustangs hop between genres. Blues, Rock, Punk, and Pop are in there with Country and Folk: no two songs sound the same; the muscular and joyous songs will appeal to the stoniest of hearts. It doesn’t matter what your tastes are and what you are used to. Great music- regardless of origin and genre- should be heard and appreciated. Another Round has enough shading, diversity, and emotional balance to ensure it speaks to everyone. I Won’t Cry for You is a chugging juggernaut that is among the most exhilarating and intense songs of the band’s career. Bourbon Street has Country tones and sees our hero craft a love song to alcohol. Whether sipping gin or downing bourbon: maybe his troubles are intense; maybe a girl is on his mind. Even when subject matters get dark and heavy: there is enough bonhomie and wit in the lyrics to keep things fun and un-suffocated. Her Love Is Gone and Love Is Just Pretend are two highlights from the album: exploring the true depths and abilities of the band. If you need a pick-me-up and lift: you can do no wrong buying Another Round. The songs brim with character and frivolity; a sense of purpose, fun, and merriment. The band does go into more introverted and love-lost territory- even those songs have spirit and vibrancy. There is never a dull moment with the Austin clan. Mixing the purity of Rockabilly- the true ‘50s sound- with modern vibes and elements- it is a stunning album from start to finish. Many will see the word ‘Rockabilly’ written down and have their assumptions. Maybe they picture the likes of Buddy Holly and assume we will have a 21st-century version of Peggy Sue.

I feel too many artists are being ignored because of stereotypes and ignorance. Too few actually cast a wide net and embrace everything music has to offer. We all have our favourite genres and bands: how often do we take gambles and spread our wings? Maybe diehard music fans do; the rest are perfectly comfortable staying with what they know. Jimmy and the Mustangs have been playing around Texas since the release of Another Round. One wonders whether the band will come to the U.K. and play here. We have affection for older styles of music and acts that bring the fun. Even when the Austin band takes the lights down- and provides something emotional- you are with them and invested. Jimmy Haddock is a man who has seen music change greatly. Many- who started out decades ago- would struggle to evolve with the times and adapt their music. Haddox has a voice that makes everything sound completely wonderful and hypnotic. The compositions have so much life and texture; many strands and ideas that come together naturally.

The band has a connection and love that makes the music so enthralling and beautiful. Haddox is a front-man that has many years ahead of him and will take The Mustangs with him. Another Round is not a throwback to the ‘50s and the sound of men who hate the modern age. Jimmy and the Mustangs take us back to a simpler time but never keep their music there. ‘90s Blues-Rock and modern Country fuses with Rhythm-and-Blues and ‘60s British Invasion Pop- a compendium of brilliant songs that compel you to sing along wildly. I earnestly hope the boys come to Europe and spend some time touring here. We have plenty of pubs and venues that cater for this kind of music: plenty of British acts that play similar sounds. Against the ultra-modern and urgent Electronic.-Pop/Post-Dubstep that has defined 2016- the best albums at least- it is nice to hear an act that takes you back in time- something more comforting and spirited; not quite as intense and brooding. Another Round is a drunken pleasure- see what I did there?!– that is addictive and energised. On a rainy day- it is England; what do you expect?- Jimmy and the Mustangs provide…

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JUST what you need from music.



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TRACK REVIEW: Darla and the Blonde- In Admiration of the Female Spy



Darla and the Blonde



In Admiration of the Female Spy







In Admiration of the Female Spy is available at:

May 2016



London, U.K.

The E.P. Eugeina is available at:


In Admiration of the Female Spy


The Article


End of the Party


May 20th 2016


 Heart of Gold Studios


 Tom Loffman


 Darla and the Blonde


 Nina Lovelace


IN the coming days the nation will decide…

whether it wants to remain in the E.U. or not. It is, as everyone keeps telling us, the most important decision to face this generation- perhaps the most vital box-tick of our lives. Whilst there is hyperbole and over-exaggeration in there: there is also some fact and truth. I know which way I am going to vote- none of your g-darn business, to answer the question- but there is referendum and decision-making in music. Rock- whether Alternative or plain-old Rock- used to occupy a rarified position in music: the go-to genre for new bands and musicians; sounds that were celebrated by critics with Devil-horned regard- the most sought-after sound at festivals and events. Over the last few years- whether signaling a decline of quality or change in tastes- other genres are becoming popular and dominant- leaving Rock to fight for its status. To be fair, there are a lot of hungry, young Rock bands making impressions- in the mainstream, their numbers are becoming fewer. As I have explained in these pages- and shall do so for the final time this month- British wonders like James Blake and Radiohead have thrown down the gauntlet in 2016: producing the (two) finest albums of this year. When the nominations for the Mercury Prize are announced: not only will both be nominated (they should: Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool and Blake’s The Colour in Anything) but they should be odds-on favourite for the win. Electronic and Post-Dubstep artists are becoming more prominent: Radiohead have abandoned their Rock glory days- when The Bends and OK Computer ruled the land- and embracing something more textured and experimental.

Festivals- aside from those who specifically cater for Rock acts- are seeing their line-ups reflect a broader, lesser-seen range of genres and acts- in the past, Rock/Alternative were staples of these festivals. It brings me back to an age-old question: Is Rock Dead? Hell no! Rock will continue to rock until the end of time: we just need to give it a kick in the posterior. There is a bit of a vacuum in the mainstream. The likes of Royal Blood– busy working on their new album- and other titans seem quiet and M.I.A. for a bit: how many great, current Rock bands can you name? Yuk, Drench and Car Seat Headrest: Loose Meat and Downtown Boys are worth watching out for. Rock is not dead: it is just developing body hair and starting to grow up. Away from the Punk revivalists and straight-ahead, go-for-the-guts Rock acts: the genre is evolving, expanding and becoming more textured. Bands are introducing other genres in- primarily Electronica, Indie and R&B- and giving Rock more contour and layers. It may sound like a gentrification, but you’d be wrong: acts that stay true to Rock’s values are capable of rubbing shoulders with the best bands out there. More bands- who play Rock and Alternative- are mixing genders- rather than the depressing slew of all-male acts- and becoming a lot more interesting.

All of this brings me to Darla and the Blonde: a beautiful moniker that sounds U.S.-based; perhaps a sunshine-coast band or highway-wandering band of dreamers. Before I continue- and dispel that romantic vision- let me introduce Darla and the Blonde to you:

Encompassing the seductive glamour of goth, the catchy harmonics of pop, the experimentalism of prog and the narrative traditions of folk, Darla And The Blonde are a broad-based five-piece who craft their influences into a bold and distinctive brand of dramatic alt-rock.

Formed in East London by chief songwriter Nina Lovelace (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), the band are completed by Jen Demaris (lead vocals), Rob McCabe (lead guitar), Craig Page (bass) and Tom Loffman (drums). While Darla And The Blonde’s sound is influenced by the likes of Nick Cave, Patti Smith and PJ Harvey, and their live performances take cues from musical theatre, Lovelace’s lyrics are primarily inspired by the concerns and experiences of inspirational women, both real and fictional, all set to the band’s impassioned and inventive alt.rock sonics.

Having shared taster track ‘The End Of The Party’ in March 2016 – whose searing glam-rock groove underpins an infectious lyrical riff on revolution – to much acclaim, radical Hackney rockers Darla And The Blonde reveal the details of their first full EP, ‘Eugenia’, released on 20 May.

The first of five eclectic but equally invigorating indie-rock nuggets, ‘In Admiration Of The Female Spy’ is a melodic musing on the escapades of feminine espionage set to a forceful three minutes thirty of edgy new wave. The dexterity of the band is to the fore as Craig Page’s intricate bass shadows the catchy vocal harmonies through the verses before the chorus is announced by a crescendo of crunching overdriven guitar.

Follow-up ballad ‘Vampyr’ has an air of fragile beauty that belies its themes of age, decay and mortality, its celestial vocal pattern meandering across a metronomic tick-tock rhythm that lends the song a further touch of the fantastical.

’The Article’ tells the story of Eugenia Falleni (after whom the EP is named), a female-to-male transgender man who was falsely tried for murder in the early 20th century. Atop the song’s heavyweight folk-grunge score, Jen Demaris and Nina Lovelace’s voices ring out a powerful shanty-like tale to resound long in the mind.

Part prog-rock, part widescreen gothic-pop, ‘Hexenhammer’ was originally released as a single on Halloween 2014 and its unorthodox melody lines are a fitting fabulist homage to the novel ‘Dark Aemilia’ by Sally O’Reilly, in which the protagonist dabbles in the dark arts. “If you say his name I’ll lay a Hexenhammer at your door” runs Demaris and Lovelace’s anthemic chorus.

From their party manifesto: it is clear the East London band do not do things in a predictable manner. They have the heart of Alternative-Rock beating in their chest: their soul and blood contain a range of different shapes, sounds, and ideas. Able to fuse (catchy) vocal harmonies and melodic Pop; Gothic darkness and Progressive-Rock experimentation: they are the perfect representation of a modern-day Rock act. When they want to- and that is quite often- they can dispense a brutal, ball-shaking, three-minute assault to the senses. Being a savvy and intelligent band: they do not drag knuckles and aimlessly slam; they inject hooks, nuance, and kaleidoscopic energy. Basing themselves out of Hackney, one could be forgiven for thinking they are an uber-cool, hipster band that are all words and no action. On paper, there are few that can rival the individuality and fascination of Darla and the Blonde. When you dig deep- and read interviews they have conducted- the band are cool, down-to-Earth folks that are exceptional musicians. The kinship and closeness feed into their stunning, instantly-addictive tunes. Eugeina is the band’s new E.P. and is crammed with festival-ready tracks full of personality and contrast. Among the masses of new, fresh-faced band; Darla and the Blonde offer something distinguishing and unexpected. Part-frightening, part-welcoming: the polemics and contradictions ensure everybody is on board. You do not have to be a die-hard Alternative-Rock fan to appreciate Darla and the Blonde- they are a group that blends so many sounds and ideas together; few will be able to fault their ambition and range.


Darla and the Blonde have not been playing for long: usually, I would look back and see how a band/artist has changed/improved. When it comes to the Hackney collective: Eugenia is the best place to start. Not only is- their five-track E.P.- a jam-packed creation with anthems all over the place- it shows how confident and together the band are. You would not imagine they have only been around a little while. Inspired by the likes of PJ Harvey and Nick Cave: you get that inimitable blend of dark and light; Gothic and fantastical; dreamy and hard-hitting. For a band who have so many different sides- and weapons in their armoury- you would assume they’d have little focus and ragged edges. In truth, that is not the case. Nina Lovelace writes songs that reflect the needs/issues of men and women. She is never defined or tied-down: not a songwriter that can be predicted. Whether looking at historical, transgender heroes or female espionage: every song has such personality, originality, and charm. The band has such an affection and intuition it means every song gets straight to the core- stone-cold anthems that will get the crowds unified and excited. The big test is whether Darla and the Blonde will continue their hot streak and maintain their cool. Many bands- that start off with distinction tend to succumb to mainstream tastes- lose their identity and that initial spark. I feel Darla and the Blonde will only grow stronger and more distinct. They are a band that has commercial appeal but a loveable quirkiness.

With the band’s E.P. having been dropped last month: the band released In Admiration of the Female Spy to give a taste for fans. Reviews have noticed the riotous, defiant sound and powerful swagger: the breath of fresh air that has been put into Rock. Keen to separate myself from other blogs/reviews- and form my own opinions- the opening seconds had me fascinating. Woozy, Grunge-influenced guitars ensure the song gets off to a gentle- if extremely intriguing- start. The guitars build, fleck and shine- so many different little ideas and notes into a glorious collage- whilst the percussion adds heartbeat and anxiety. Perhaps the band’s attempt at a Bond theme- it would be a super-cool, if slightly ironic, twist on the format- the sense of restraint and tempoirisation is to be commended. Too many Alternative-Rock bands go for the jugular from the off: it makes the songs too intense, too soon. Darla and the Blonde build Rome with more care and discipline- ensuring the track does not crumble and crack. There are so many clues out- so many that will drown the heroine- which instantly leads your mind in many directions.

On the one hand, you imagine espionage and spies about town. The song’s protagonist- a female Bond that is hunting down a traitor or villain- is prowling the city (perhaps in the cold of night) and looking for answers. That would be an easy- if perhaps accurate- assessment of the song. The band is laying down a paen to female espionage: the escapades and adventures that can be found. In another sense, there are emotion and romantic possibilities. Maybe- the song’s heroine- is trying to piece together a break-up or hard time; making sense of why things went wrong and seeking happiness. I am not sure whether Lovelace employs a spy figure as a metaphor: the early words are certainly compelling. Bubbles of doubt have formed- our heroine is keen to prick it- and there are obstacles, sweet ripostes, and come-hither possibilities all around. Maybe (the song’s heroine) is faced with her male counterpart: someone who’s a cliché and stereotype; the traditional embodiment of a spy. Here is a fresh and bold alternative who does things her own way.  A sassier and more eye-catching option: the song’s anti-hero dispenses “sweet nothings”; they have no effect on our girl; she is immune to cheesy lines and flat sentiments. The heroine is calling the shots- a “sweet dumb boy” has his cheeks red; laying his smoothest rap down- and completely in command.

Driven by rumbling, galloping drum and detailed, melodic basslines- the composition adds so many different emotions and visions into the mix. As the story unfolds; we learn more back-story and revelation. The only one (the heroine) ever loved has been condemned to the grave. Maybe the result of cross-fire or caught in a trap- a pawn in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game- he has paid the price. A treasured and loved sweetheart: that sense of regret and longing comes out in the vocal. “The same dogs/in the same starting trap”: life is not as simple and clear-cut as all that. Whilst blame could be assigned and culpable parties hunted down- maybe honest mistakes were made and nobody is really to blame. That explanation never washes and you become more invested in the song. The composition starts to build and brood in the background- you know something combustible is afoot- whilst the vocal has an anger and malevolence to it- a woman that is about to unleash Hell. “Better dead” is a bellicose taunt that is chanted with fierce determination and aim: the spy is on the prowl and hunting down the perpetrator. Whoever took her man- perhaps taking a bullet for his lover- will pay dear and have their day. The immediacy and tightening tension is exemplified by the rise in volume and force.

The drums and guitars get heavier; the bass more stinging and viper-like. After a melodic- if dramatic- opening half; the song reaches fever-pitch. Caught in a whirlwind of pain and nightmares: our heroine wonders when she will wake up. A bad dream that never seems to end: you empathise with her plight and hope she can find solace and answers. There is that need to track down the culpable and see justice done. Coming face-to-face with her man- the one she is tracking- there are similarities and reflections. The two are very similar and not too uncommon. If you stick with espionage themes- the female spy going in pursuit of vengeance- there is a slight U-turn and about-face. Packing up her bags- and starting to assess the future- there might not be the cliffhanger we predicted. Taking it down another route- something dealing with heartache and more everyday: you start to wonder whether the “better dead” projection refers to (the deceased) or our heroine. Judging by the wracked and intense vocal performance: one would assume there is heartbreak and regret.

In Admiration of the Female Spy has plenty of mystery and obliqueness underneath its raw and primal growl. A song of two halves- the slow-building and atmospheric opening; the burning and crunching second-half drama- it is the standout track from Eugenia. Nina Lovelace proves what a stunning songwriter she is. Her lyrics are never formulaic and predictable. Together with Jen Demaris Tom Loffman; Rob McCabe and Craig Page: they form one incredible unit. There are a lot of terrific bands in London: few have the personality, talent, and originality of Darla and the Blonde. I know the guys will keep the pace up and go on to create some wonderful music. In Admiration of the Female Spy is a marvelous example of what they are capable of. Always entrancing and together- one of those bands that are unbreakable and has that telekinetic bond- they put a smile on the face and get the feet kicking.

Although I have expended time assessing In Admiration of the Female Spy– coolest title ever- their Eugenia E.P. does the business. Vampyr has yearning, aching beginnings: a Country-Rock/Pop beginning that is dreamy and enticing. Complete with vivid images- our heroine will “kick your shin/and spit in your eye”- it is a celestial, twilight song that has such fragility and serenity. Juxtaposing a beautiful mood against lyrics of age, decay and death- the band never do things the way one would expect- the song is a haunting thing. You are drawn in- the first few times- by Lovelace’s spellbound vocal. Few listeners could resist the contrast of stark and tender: you get washed inside the vocals/composition; the lyrics paint fascinating/unforgettable images and burrow in the head. The Article begins more prominently and with austerity. Grunge/Alternative notes open the song with restrained- if rather imperious and threatening- strings. The twin vocals of Lovelace and Jen Demaris tell the tale of Eugenia Falleni- after whom the E.P. is named- who was a female-to-male transgender man in the early-20th century. Such a unique and unexpected source of inspiration would stymie and restrict other bands.

Inner-stress and turmoil- the song’s mercurial centre- are balanced by shanty-like sway and beauty- a song that could only come from Darla and the Blonde. Hexenhammer builds and builds- a song that grows hotter and more rushing; a fabulist lament that (sees the heroine) dabble in dark sciences- replete with a knock-out, quotable chorus. End of the Party is a swaggering and cocksure track that blends Progressive-Rock and Punk: one of the heaviest songs from the E.P. Kick-ass riffs and endless confidence go into a song sure to be a live favourite. “All apologies are lies” our heroine explains: a cynical assessment that you (somehow) buy; it seems completely compelling and right. The band comes together in a song that- whilst never exploding and unshackled- has a lingering bite and real electricity. One of the most-played tracks on SoundCloud– fans and followers have bonded with the track- it is a beautiful end to Eugenia. Over a five-track E.P.; Hackney’s Darla and the Blonde show just what a special proposition they are. They are never divisive and off-putting- if Gothic sounds are not your thing; there are plenty of light moments and ‘traditional’ elements- the group has a future ahead of them. They have not been playing long but already seem like a complete article- a band that has been pounding the tour circuit for decades. Festivals like Reading and Leeds will showcase some of the world’s finest Rock and Alternative bands. From Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fall Out Boy to Eagles of Death Metal and Cage the Elephant will take to the stage.

Anyone who thinks Rock- and bands that play down harder, edgier avenues- is dead better think again. Darla and the Blonde will play their E.P. launch at Finborough Arms (The Cellar) on June 24th. Try and get down and see the band in their element. Eugenia is a stunning effort from a band that definitely stand out from the rest. If their character-filled, literary lyrics do not get you; the stunning vocals and tight performances will- failing that; their anthemic songs surely will. It will be interesting seeing how the London band blossom. Given the reaction to their new E.P. – and the fact they are a new band- things will only get better. So much depth and authority (on their E.P.) means they have no need to retool and adapt their sounds. The road, people, and life will provide fresh song inspiration; live dates and touring will galvanise and strengthen their performances- ensure they are as natural and tight as possible. Right now, the quintet sounds completely whole and fully-formed- how much better can they get? If they get the support they need- increased social media numbers and people going to their gigs- it cannot be long before festivals and venues come knocking.

I have been a bit ambivalent towards bands lately. Someone who loves traditional Rock and heavier acts: perhaps I have ignored a lot of great acts; had my head in the sand. Whilst there are fewer bold, original bands than a few years ago- what with the proliferation of solo acts and changing sounds- that is not to say we should give up. Far from it. If you want head-pounding, fists-in-the-air Rock then there are options out there. Those who seek deeper and more layered bands have a lot more options (than a few years back). Darla and the Blonde are one of the most interesting and unique bands I have heard in a long time. Their music has so many details and fascinating parts; the compositions switch genres without losing focus; the vocals are consistently bold and beautiful. Altogether, it goes into a glorious band that seems natural in London. Given the competition and quality in the city: the guys will have to fight hard for market share and fans; their music is already recruiting many followers and eager listeners. In Admiration of the Female Spy is a song I will be playing for a long time: there is something inescapable about it. Take time out of your day to…

DISCOVER your favourite new band.




Follow Darla and the Blonde











TRACK REVIEW: Lánre- Human











Human is available at:

RELEASED (video):
30th May 2016

Folk; Soul


London, U.K.

The E.P. Human is available at:





My Soul


April 29th 2016


Lanre Nioku Music


I am a little late to the ball when it comes to…

extolling the virtues of London-based singer, Lánre. She is being talked about as one of the finest upcoming Folk-Soul singers we have to offer. Before I come to her- and her style of music/subject matters in mind- I want to look at Soul and Folk- how the British are leading the genres- the multiculturalism of the music world; singers that evoke the spirits of legends past. Depending on when you were born- I am an ‘80s child, myself- will probably enforce your views and preferences for music. We all grow up on a blend of chart music and our parents’ record collection. In today’s world; there is greater access to ALL music has to offer: niche stations, social media, and Internet availability means every style and flavor of music is free for the young, impressionable music explorer. Given this multitude and bounty: there is still a leaning towards the mainstream sounds/stations. This predation of unspectacular- if popular- music is something that needs to be changed and developed. I understand the safety and comfort of something radio-friendly and mainstream-approved. It is not just a folly of the young: too many older listeners are getting stuck in a rut; assuming modern music offers little when compared with the past. If we all become more adventurous and less honed: music is something that can provide surprise, revitalisation, and life-affirming sensation. Do not assume (certain genres) should be overlooked and ignored- just because they do not get the radio-play they deserve. Folk and Soul are examples of genres that have always had to struggle for true recognition. From past legends like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder (Soul); Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell (Folk): some of music’s most influential have played these genres.

Today, that legacy has inspired musicians to pick up the torch and keep the flame alive. Although new artists- who are Soul/Folk acts- do not get the same recognition as other musicians- Rock/Alterative etc. – that will all change. Britain, to my biased mind, has some of the best Soul and Folk acts in the world. The last decade has seen everyone from Amy Winehouse, Florence Welch, and Adele put British soul onto the map. A female invasion that has kick-started the Soul genre: we are seeing an explosion happen right now. Folk artists are enjoying a similarly prosperous time. I have been proffering the likes of Laura Marling for years now: she is, as far as I’m concerned, the finest Folk artists playing right now. She is playing Meltdown Festival in the coming days- she was Guy Garvey’s (curator) first call when assembling the line-up- and will bring her magic to the capital. London is becoming more open and cosmopolitan as the years go by. In the past, it may have been the case there were homogenisation and limitations: the city is keen to embrace all tastes, cultures, and nations. This open market is seeing London lead British music- the most sensational and original acts are coming from the capital.

Lánre has to be considered among the brightest talents in London this year. Before I continue, let me introduce our featured artist:

“Headlining we had the beguiling Nigerian songstress Lánre, who held the auditorium in the palm of her hands. Armed only with her personality, her smile and an acoustic guitar, she took us on a journey back to her homeland (via Stoke-on-Trent) painting many vistas and drawing on many emotions with bright African colours – absolutely spellbinding”  John Drummond – Brewery Blues

Relish in her soft yet soulful vocals…” – MTV UK

“This utterly soothing new single is well worth a listen.” – MOBO Awards

I was born in Stoke-On-Trent England many years ago to an amazing mum and an adorable dad. Some people say they can trace their earliest memory to way back in their mama’s womb but mine was on my first birthday trying to blow out the candle on my cake, strapped in a walker!

Yeah, I did not walk unaided until after my first birthday, I figured I would be walking all my life anyway, why the rush. (LOL!)

My parents thought it was a good idea to learn about my heritage and to grow up knowing the rest of my extended family, so at age four I traveled to Nigeria with my parents where I spent the next twenty years studying, learning and living.

My first public performance was at the age of eight when I got picked to lead the song ‘Don’t do that to the poor pussy cat’ at the local radio station. My teacher chose me to lead because according to her, I sang like an Angel. Awwwwwwwwwwww!

Growing up in Nigeria meant music was a hobby and passing my Maths, English and Sciences with flying colours became high on my priority list. I picked up my love for writing and music again in year 2002 when I joined the award winning UK collective GK REAL and that musical journey took me around the world singing and performing with amazing singers, writers and producers.

Discovering the guitar and freedom to express my thoughts is why you’re here reading my story which is to be continued…

so who am I….?

I am a writer

I am a singer

I am a wife

I am a sister

I am a daughter

I am a friend

I am African

I am British

I love God

I love reading

I can play a few chords on the guitar

I tend to go into my own shell even in the midst of a crowd

I have loads of stories locked up in my head

I am on a journey of discovery and I am excited!!


Two years after the release of her critically acclaimed EP Home, British singer, songwriter Lánre has come out with her 3rd record.

‘Human’ a 4-song EP is a collection of uplifting songs which encapsulates the message and depth of Lánre’s artistry.

Lánre as well as touring Canada, France, NYC and Sweden has taken her unique sound of Acoustic Soul, Folk and captivating storytelling influenced by her Yoruba heritage, to the Royal Albert HallGreenbelt FestivalEdinburgh FringeBath Music FestivalFolkstock FestivalMusicport Festival and the Brighton Fringe among others.

Lánre currently curates a monthly residency at the Omnibus in Clapham Common”.

Human (the title track) has been out for a while: it demonstrates a sensational voice and deep soul; a burning passion and compulsion to succeed. With every song, you know how important music is: how much Lánre wants to push on and grow. The Human E.P. is out and already picking up impassioned reviews and praise. The four-track collection is economical- the tracks are all one/two-worded- and instantly gripping. Lánre is not your traditional Soul-cum-Folk artist. Bringing her African roots to the music: we span continents and are provided with some of the freshest, most evocative music, you will hear this year. Human (E.P.) is perfect for getting lost in- a record that can accompany you on a long drive; you will not tire of the songs’ beauty and grace. London is constantly evolving and growing with regards its music. In the course of my reviews; I get to witness all sorts of vibrant, colourful artists- the city never ceases to amaze me. Whether you are a fan of hardcore Electronic music or deep Jazz vibes: you will find musicians/venues to take care of you.


What impresses me about Lánre is how she is fresh and current: inside her voice, you can detect little bits of musicians past. Tracy Chapman is probably the strongest name- when comparing voices- and someone who has influenced Lánre. There is- inside Human– a mix of human emotions and political motifs; a drive for positivity and humanity- in addition to contemplations of love and sacrifice. Chapman remains of the most inspiring and remarkable musicians of the past: someone whose influence can be heard in many of today’s musicians. Lánre is going to be someone to watch very carefully. There are so few musician that can seduce you the first time you hear them- make you want to keep listening and discover everything they have done. Once Human has been fully appreciated and played- new fans are discovering the E.P. by the week- our heroine will be very busy, indeed. Gigs and interviews will arrive: fresh faces experiencing her music up-close and personal. That is the think (with Lánre): she is a musician that brings you into her heart and world- not someone who is distant and happy to hide behind her songs. Human’s title track is the personification of that: a number that goes around the head and will affect everybody who hears it.

Human is the latest work from Lánre. If you- like I was, until a few weeks ago- are foreign to her stunning songs: make sure you investigate everything she has done. There are no weak songs from Lánre: everything she touches is gold and possesses wisdom; a glimpse inside a strong woman and beautiful soul. Beautiful was released four years ago now and showed a different side to Lánre. The song looks at a heroine who wanted to “be like everyone else”. A skippy and upbeat track- that mixes Folk and Pop elements- it is a typically intelligent and wise song. The song’s heroine sees herself ugly and insignificant: when she looks in the mirror; the truth comes through- she has grown to “be a swan”. The central coda- “You are beautiful”- is delivered with clarity and drive; backed by wordless vocals and driving percussion. A song that has a summery vibe and intoxicating skip: all framed by Lánre’s gorgeous, heartfelt vocal performance. As the tale progresses (the heroine) wonders whether true love exists: if someone will love her and see the beauty she possesses. Towards the end, things come together- she is spreading her wings- and realising her self-worth and potential. An impressive song that delivers a gorgeous message- something that gives hope and inspiration to those listening.

Home is another stunning song- unveiled a couple of years ago- that differs from Beautiful. Aching, laconic strings sees Lánre with a torn heart and a sense of loneliness. Differing from the positivity and overt kick of Beautiful: we find our girl in more pensive and restless mode. Her soul needs satisfaction and direction: she is at a crossroads and seeking a safe haven. Going more into Folk territory- not as Pop/Soul-driven as Beautiful– there is so much beauty and tenderness in the song. An aching and exceptional lead performance gets inside the heart and elicits something wonderful. Inside a song that has doubts and strains: there is that desire to change things and become positive; Lánre never wallows and basks in defeat. Strength, persistence and hope go into the track: one of the finest and most memorable songs to date.

Human (E.P.) contains a little bit of her previous work but shows new confidence and inspiration. The messages seem deeper and sharper: there is more soul, philosophy, and direction; the most impressive and resonant set of words Lánre has created. The vocal performances are at a predictable high: never has she sounded as meaningful, beautiful and compelling. Those who are unfamiliar with Lánre’s work need to start from the beginning and see where she began. You can see that transformation and evolution unfold: how each song (as time elapses) takes in new direction and confidence. It is that strength and authority that defines Human. The entire E.P. overflows with quotable moments and gorgeous melodies; stunning performances and rich, rewarding songs. By the end, you are a more educated and better human. The songs’ themes and lyrics teach us valuable listens and provide a glimpse into a gorgeous musician. I know Lánre will be planning new music for the next year: following on from Human; there is likely to be new music down the road.

I opened this review by stating how late I was to Lánre’s party- many reviewers have already written about Human’s title track. Given scheduling conflicts and a one-man army approach- just one boy a laptop- it is only today I have had chance to write about the song. That said, the momentum is strong and the song is gaining fresh appreciation- every week, people are realising what a wonderful thing it is. Evocative, dramatic electronics open Human. “Over and over again” are early words that pertain to mistake-making and poor decisions. Our heroine- normally campaigning positive, life-changing messages- is in more heartfelt and haunted mood. If talking about love and bad relationship decisions: a pattern is unfolding that she cannot get out of. The composition is sparse and bare-naked: it allows the vocal to stand tall and tell the story. Injecting a huge amount of drama and urgency into the voice: Lánre is seeking answers and trying to change things. Perfect lies and deceit are subjects few would be able to present in a positive and hopeful light. Lánre’s knows we are all broken so light can come in: every bad day will lead to good; better things will arrive. Holding onto a story “that never was”: there is that sense of fairytale romance and something false. Always hard on herself and self-critical: maybe she has high expectations for a relationship; thought it would grow into something long-lasting and spectacular. Whether speaking directly about a lover- or a way or life she has pined for- there are no accusations and anger- just self-reflecting words and maturity.

Most love songs- that deal with break-ups- have a kleptoparasitism approach: a scorned lover jabbing at the ex- not letting it go and taking bits of them. Our heroine is a stronger and more hopeful human. She is not getting bogged down in vitriol and depressive anxiety. Seeing the bright side of disappointment- mistakes and heartbreak allow us to grow and learn- is not something we see often. It is not just that central vocal that gets to you. Backing it up is a gospel- almost choir-like- shiver that adds electricity and mysticism to the song. Once more, the composition takes a back seat to the majestic and hypotonic pull of the voice. Lánre is one of the most astonishing and bold voices in modern music: this is exploited and perfectly represented throughout Human. This central message- being broken so light can come in- leads to the song’s most full-bodied and explosive point. Before you know it, the composition charges in and the song kicks up a gear. “Let there be light!” is delivered with effusiveness and purpose: a coda that becomes more scintillating and strong with each delivery. The vocals rise and the strings race; everything becomes a lot more charged and heady. Caught in the spell: the listener cannot help but smile and move along with the song. Wordless vocal coos and bubbling electronic undertones sit with hand-clap percussion- a perfect combination that emphasises the vocal and adds so many different colours. There are few singers that can keep you hooked and awed from start to finish. So many love songs have a dolorous and predictable sound; the lyrics are often claustrophobic and tormented- the overall experience is unrewarding and harsh. What Lánre does is opens her heart- expressing her pain and confusion- but does not let things get her down.

She has mourned and questioned herself: been through the emotional mill and is not bitter. Whether enforced by her family heritage or religion: Human encourages positive messages and seeing things from a different side. We may feel splits and disappointments will lead to bad things: from the cracks and darkness; light can come in and create better things. It is wonderful hearing a songwriter that has that healthy approach to life- not wallowing in misery and accusing others. Lifted by an exceptional production sound- it has a great, raw live sound to it- Human is the perfect distillation of Lánre’s many talents. A song that defines the E.P. – and what she is about as a human- it will be stuck in your head for days. If you are not blown away by the strength of the vocal- might want your ears syringed- the positivity and redemptive messages will surely get to you. By the end of the track, you cannot resist but smile, reflect and bask. Human leaves a wonderful aftertaste and ensures you will go back time again- if only to hear that immense closing vocal. Whoever has motivated the song’s creation- maybe a past love or current friend- they cannot weight our heroine down. From a harsh and unpleasant situation, she has managed to create something truly wonderful. Taking in elements of ‘70s Soul and ‘80s Folk- together with some contemporary Soul- Human is a deeply affecting song that signals the arrival of an immense talent.

In the next few weeks, Lánre will be playing across London- including a couple of appearances at Omnibus Unplugged Sessions– and the opportunity for you to hear Human. The reception garnered so far has been positive and praise-filled. Commentators have noted the depth, nuance and vividness of the songs: the detail and emotions that are portrayed; all made golden by Lánre’s sensational voice. Lánre is someone who wants to inspire other people and make the world a better place- offering motivational words to her social media followers. This beauty, thoughtfulness, and humanitarianism can be found throughout Human. The finger-picking arpeggio of My Soul frames Lánre’s fiery and intense voice: one of the strongest vocals on the E.P. Her soul will not be broken and defeated: she has run in the past; escaped pain and life; she is fighting strong and defiant. The band comes together in one of the most magical and spiritual performances across Human. Our heroine battles against silence- she will speak and have her voice heard- and there is a wonderful choral effect. The song is almost like a religious sermon: something that has great spirituality and etherealness; wisdom and guidance. Fire and Dreams have a similar quality and immediacy to them. Allowing that sensual, powerful voice to climb, stir and motivate: you cannot listen to the tracks and casually shrug them off. Every note and vocal have meaning, depth and purpose: whether documenting an important message or unearthing soulful confessions; you become involved in the song and immersed.

After listening to Human, I was instantly revisiting it and replaying the songs. Human and My Soul are the most-played and mentioned: Fire and Dreams are two of the most beautiful songs. Within the four-track E.P. there is so much variety and scenery. Songs tackle myriad themes and give us a glimpse into Lánre’s soul. By the end, you almost want more: maybe another couple of tracks to keep the appetite satisfied? The mark of any great artist is one who can leave the audience satisfied but wanting more- hopefully, we will hear more material in the next year or so? Until then, the London-based musician is getting her sounds to the crowds: every live performance leaves it mark and established her as one of the most treasured artists in this country. It is that humanitarian, love-filled personality that gets to people. Every review I read- of the live performance she gives- remarks how personable and friendly she is. “Will you light a fire for me?” goes Fire: a sentiment that seems ironic and pertinent. Lánre has lit a fire in the music scene- apologies for being a bit cringey- and has set many hearts ablaze. Few musicians are as giving and motivational as Lánre. Every week: her social media feed offer sage words and positive vibes; a sincere love of her followers and life in general.

Music is often defined by a negativity and insularity. Too many songs recall broken love and strains: hurt and heartache are popular commodities; the strains and woes of musicians. When it comes to Lánre; there is no such slight: an artist that wants to bring light, passion and positivity to the world. That is to be commended and congratulated. Not only does this attitude compel others to be better and think about the wider world- new musicians will hear these words and change their way of working. We need more acts like Lánre to make the music world- and life in general- a more love-filled and better place. Human’s title track is something I felt I NEEDED to review: a song that showcases one of our most unique and beautiful artists. Dig deeper- and hear the entire E.P.- and you hear the many sides to Lánre. The kind-hearted poet and African queen: a soulful singer who brings elements of Tracy Chapman together with something modern and current. London is becoming more popular for young musicians. There are opportunities and audiences waiting: plenty of places one can perform and experiment; masses of fellow musicians and a wonderful scene. I can see the lure- and am looking to move there soon- as the city provides so many different styles, sounds, and musicians. Inside the capital, there is a growing Folk and Soul scene. No longer (are the genres) predictable and underground: they are evolving and different from the past; we should dispense with misconceptions and cliché opinions. Folk, to some people, is defined by the gentle strummer at one with nature: a tender, if unspectacular, style that is too gentle and slight to appeal.

To many, Soul is seen as something that peaked in the ‘70s and ‘80s- a genre that has few modern treasures. You would be wrong on both fronts. You only need to tune into a credible radio station- away from the chart-obsessed options- to hear how many wonderful artists play these genres. I mentioned the likes of Amy Winehouse and Laura Marling: two names that have made a huge impact on music. Lánre is a musician that adds authority, beauty and originality to the genres. Her African heritage has taught her some important values. That love of the world (and her fellow man) go into the music: her songs have such a warmth, embrace, and positivity. Even when the lyrics reflect something pained and sad: you always get a redemptive undertone and that desire to overcome negativity; change things and return to a happier place. The beautiful musician posed- on the track, Fire– whether a fire would be lit for her. She has already lit one in the music industry; one that…

IS burning with the intensity of a thousand suns.



Follow Lánre







TRACK REVIEW: Signal- All Night







All Night




All Night is available at:

5th June 2016

Hip-Hop; Rap; Grime


Jay Picasso



Basingstoke, U.K.


OVER the course of my musical searches…

I am always keen to find an artist who is raw and real: a person(s) that brings you down to street-level. Of course, a lot of musicians are open and original: bringing you into their hearts and minds; without barrier or shield. What I mean (in my search) is something hard-hitting and cutting-edge: sounds that get straight into the brain like a bullet; musicians that have that drive, confidence, and hunger. Before I come to my featured artists- who is one of the most fascinating acts in the underground- it is worth looking at the U.K. Hip-Hop/Grime/Rap scene; the way to get exposure in the modern market; which acts are going to make their mark in 2017. I am a huge fan of British Grime and Rap: that which brings in Hip-Hop- from both the U.K. and U.S. – brings it together in a riotous rhapsody. I am one of those people who feels music peaked in the ‘90s: the finest decade of music we have ever seen. Whether something was in the air; there was a rebellion against the 1980s- although some life-changing music was created then- I am not certain. If the ‘00s didn’t live up the hype: the first-half of the decade some of this country’s most innovative artists shine and amaze. Dizzee Rascal and The Streets are two acts I have mentioned a lot in my blog- and shall ‘bore’ you one more time with. Dylan and Mike (the men behind the monikers) brought their unique and unmistakable voices to British Hip-Hop: their Grime and Rap styles amazed critics and changed the face of British (and world) music. Dizzee Rascal emerged fresh-faced from the streets of East London: Bow was home for Dylan Mills; the backdrop to many of his songs- he brought you right into his experiences and life; the sounds, sensations and characters of the street.

His peerless debut, Boy in da Corner, displayed immense maturity, intelligence and confidence- from someone who was a teenager when the album came out. Lascivious girls, gang culture and London life sat with redemptive tales and introspective moments: a staggering, flawless album that (rightfully) scooped a Mercury Prize in 2003. The Streets’ Mike Skinner arrived a year before Dizzee Rascal. His debut album, Original Pirate Material, introduced the Birmingham musician to the world. That conversation style and witty lyrics- geezers getting fired up and late-night drinking; modern society and what defines it- were all aired and explored. Another unbelievable debut that saw Skinner go onto create an even finer album: A Grand Don’t Come for Free showcased unstoppable genius. Both artists have since capitulated- Dizzee Rascal is on sabbatical- looking for new inspiration- whilst The Streets have called time. The legacy of The Street and Dizzee Rascal found a band of young (mainly men) explode onto the scene. Modern heroes like Lethal Bizzle, Skepta; Kano, Tine Tempah and Stormzy have shaped and moulded British Hip-Hop. Whether predominantly Grime- in the case of Skepta and Kano- or something Hip-Hop/Rap-influenced- Lethal Bizzle and Tine Tempah- there are plenty of options.

Perhaps the quality is not up to 2002-2004 regency: the sound of U.K. Grime and Hip-Hop has evolved. Whether music school-trained- as is the case with my featured artist- or via the streets- each artist has their own distinct take on the genres. Upcoming forces such as Jay Prince– the East London lad’s Soul-inflected tales of disenfranchised youth have drawn comparisons with Kendrick Lamar- are getting critics interested and compelled. Novelist is a Lewisham-born Grime/Hip-Hop star that has listened to Skepta and Wiley- a swaggering, multi-talented artist that is primed for big things. Little Simz– A.K.A. Simbi Ajikawo- has caught the ear of the mainstream press with her music; has played a string of dates in the U.S.- someone encouraging more women to take up Grime and Hip-Hop. Before I carry on this point- and raise a couple of new ones- let me introduce Signal to you:

Signal the future of the UK urban music scene hails from Basingstoke. A ‘90s boy, inspired by Eminem, Biggie, along with the Grime scene legends Dizzee Rascal, Skepta and Boy Better Know. He started writing at the age of 14 and has been working his way towards aligning himself with the greats. He’s already performed at major events supporting well known acts like Chipmunk, Kano, Wretch 32, Scorcher, Sneakbo and Krept & Konan. To date, he has 4 mixtape releases under his belt which has been well received and has led to him building a strong local following.

Signal has always had a strong passion for music and took up the vocation studying Music Technology at college and graduating with a Music Production degree at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford.

When it comes to performing Signal is no stranger to the stage. With many successful appearances performing on the main stage at Basingstoke Live 2012, 2014 and 2015, where it was very evident he has the backing of people from his home town. He regularly showcases his skills at local Basingstoke clubs and open mic sessions. The young rapper has also branched out and has performed in Camden, Oxford and Reading. One of the highlights from doing shows was the winning of the Vocal Networking competition in November 2013, followed by securing a place at the finals of Reading’s Got Talent in 2014 and 2016. Signal also finished 4th out of 70 contestants in the Croydon With Talent final 2015. This activity got him noticed by management agencies and in 2013 he was signed to ‘Titans Entertainment’, who specialises in representing emerging talent. Signal recently left Titans Entertainment as he felt it was the right career move.

The future is very bright and exciting for Signal. His 5th release ‘Make It Happen E.P.’ is now available to download from iTunes and all digital stores. The material clearly shows the growth of his artistry and the evolution of his music. The first single from the EP ‘Make It Happen’, the title track and is arguably his best work to date. The song has already been picked up by radio stations and B.B.C. Introducing: The South. Most recently Signal featured in the Basingstoke Gazette, promoting the E.P., future plans and releases. This can be found via

The hunger continues…

Daniel Amps– Signal’s creator- can be added to the above list. He is a musician on the rise, gathering pace. I have been checking out the likes of Nick Brewer– the Essex lad spits lyrics of death (of a close friend) and modern youth- and his talent. If you are familiar with him- Gerald Jacobs is another name to investigate- Signal will be well-worth your time. Based around Basingstoke- having performed across Reading and the south a lot- All Night is a typically assured and nuanced cut. Following the success and momentum of Make it Happen (Signal’s latest E.P.) a lot of people have been buzzing about the new single. Given his proximity to London- a short drive from the capital- one wonders whether Amps will be tempted by the bright lights, expensive beer, and busy streets. A city that provides inspiration to all musicians: it is somewhere I yearn to be; the natural Mecca for those with ambition and a love of music.

He seems pretty comfortable and happy where he is; it is something to think about. With London homing some wonderful Grime and Hip-Hop artists: Signal would fit effortlessly into the groove; find a lot of support and contemporaries. His tracks of love, relations and self-discovery have seen him catch the ear of B.B.C. Introducing Berkshire and local radio- this is only the beginning of things. Signal is a very modern-day musician in every sense. Having cut his teeth at A.C.M.- Academy of Contemporary Music– he blends that education with observations of life’s realities: whether chasing girls or avoiding trouble; making it in the world or protecting someone close- every track has that distinct flair and confidence; another side to an eager and ambitious young artist. Always exceptional assured and controlled- one of those vocalists that owns a song without sounding too cocky- All Night sees Signal create a sensational track of attraction and flirtation; a natural self-confidence and desire- a track that gets the mind racing and the feet tapping. Amps is a savvy and intelligent talent that pushes his music out there. Whether giving interviews or getting his music in D.J. hands: someone with that desire to succeed and be recognised. Whether sharing music across social media or performing live: there is no stopping the Basingstoke native.

Music is a competitive and hard industry. You need a lot of money, self-belief, and fortitude: develop a thick skin and be prepared for a lot of graft. Those who have the talent and discipline will succeed: it may take a while but you will get there eventually. Signal has already laid down his gauntlet and showed what a force he is. A Grime/Hip-Hop artist with a down-to-Earth personality and impressive consistency- he is someone you can expect to hear in years to come. Some have derided modern-day British Grime for not being able to compete with the U.S. Dylan Mills and Mike Skinner may have put Britain on the map by 2004: the last decade-or-so has seen America overtake us. With the likes of Signal charging large: I would not count your chickens just yet. As we get nearer to 2017- how long before Christmas decorations are in the shops?!– (bloggers and journalists like me) are seeing which artists will define the next calendar year. Grime artists like Kano are in hot form- his previous albums have not exploited his full talent- and there is a desire for something edgier, heavier and honest. Kate Tempest and Wiley– two of our most innovative and accomplished Rap/Hip-Hop musicians- have new albums coming out (Wiley this year; Tempest next year, perhaps). It is great hearing the stalwarts of music impress and stun- Radiohead’s latest album, for instance- but I am excited about the ‘underground’ musicians and their movements. Signal is watching and keen to join the fray: it will not be too long before he joins the pantheon of British Grime/Hip-Hop.

It is going to be a busy and vital next few months for Signal. When new music is released- and you have a solid reputation- eyes and ears are alert; possibilities open up and new fans emerge. All Night has been widely shared and viewed across social media- it is available to buy on iTunes, too. Whether (the song) forms the basis of a future E.P. – or is a stand-alone single- we will have to wait. I’d like to think we could see a four/five-track E.P. before the year’s end. With every Signal song, you get a new angle and side: something impassioned, thought-provoking and exceptional. All Night has prurient interest and a single-minded approach- our man turning on the flirt- its sense of confidence is to be commended. It is not a lewd or shallow song- we see too often- but a window into Signal’s current creativity drive. Let’s hope this momentum and inspiration leads to more songs and output. For those new to the Basingstoke man- and want an indication into how his music has changed and developed- you would do good to investigate his E.P., Make it Happen. The natural flows and stunning production back an artist with impressive work-rate and talent. The 6-track collection boasts incredible wordplay from a rapper/Grime artist who sound completely dedicated and in the zone- that sort of confidence usually takes many years to materialise; making the E.P. a hugely impressive and accomplished work. Make it Happen’s title track (feat. Willow Wonder) starts with a jagged, juddering opening. The song looks at getting a job and making it happen: following dreams and grabbing your goals.

The rhymes are fast and hard- influence from London Grime artists like Wretch 32 and Stormzy- boasting immense confidence and talent. People have our man’s ringtone and download it (the song tells); there is that blend of cockiness and level-head: few artists can balance that so expertly.  The lines have a quotable nature and you find yourself repeating the words. Willow Wonder adds chocolate-smooth, soulful and hard-hitting mixtures. Our hero will make it happen and work all night; he puts the effort in and will reach for the sky. Launching the #KrackOn hashtag- the motto and tag of Signal- the hero (will be) spitting bars and seduce the clubs (with his “African queen”).  Other tracks across Make It Happen see collaborators like Ruby Grixti (Taste It) and Eclipse (Leave This Girl) bring new colour and sides to the music. Signal shows his malleability and flexibility: able to work with varied singers and not steal focus; a performer who is effortless and comfortable around others.

This impressive approach (makes the E.P.) a stunning work. Songs look at grafting for your dreams- Work Rate and the title track- and relationship issues. All Night is the most confident and assured track from Signal. The track changes older themes to something more sexual and relationship-based; that key message still focuses on obtaining what you desire. The rhymes are even more varied, riveting and transfixing. Complete with a more unique and distinct sound; the production is bigger and more atmospheric- it mixes polish and street grittiness. Every single/work sees Signal grow in strength and push himself to the maximum. His E.P. – he has also released four mixtapes and a recent single, Dam Freestyle– was lauded and celebrated because of its dexterity, personality, and flexibility- how it could change course and pace without losing its identity and core. All Night surpasses Make It Happen (if that is even possible) and demonstrates how on-form and incredible Signal is- a supremo of the asphalt opera. This determination- praise and recognition have probably given Signal a boost- is infectious. Maybe a modern-day Boy in da Corner-cum-Original Pirate Material will arrive? I could see a concept-type album come: one where Signal takes us on a tour of the cities and nightlife; the people we all recognize; issues around money, love and success- all delivered with that inimitable and engrossing (supremo) strut. Songs like All Night and Make It Happen could fit into that concept/conceit: giving Signal food for thought, perhaps…?


Throwing down some stalking beats- a hollow, sparse hit that comes; waits for a few seconds before coming back- fuses with shimmering, ripe electronics. Keen to not shear the wheels off- and create intrigue and ceremony in the opening seconds- there is an urgency and drama from the off. All Night strikes to life and pulls the listener in. Distorted vocals and a church bell inject some twilight mystique to things- an odd aside that gives the song new dimension and layers. Whilst a wordless vocal haunts in the background; the electronics buzz and stutter: such a busy and physical introduction. You are brought into the song and made to think and feel right from the opening gambit. We get a snapshot of James Blake- that Electronic/Dream-Pop combination- that quickly dissipates. So many emotions and ideas are thrown in without overcrowding the music. Signal lays down his marker and ensures All Night is an instantly memorable track. I was picturing late-night walking around the city (London, perhaps) and something teasing and tempting. Whether searching for a club to while the hours; a girl to hook up with: there is something exciting, youthful and contemporary- the sound of a young man looking for a good time. Those echoed, disturbing vocals- giving the early stages depth, instancy, and darkness- layer with an early mantra (“If you wanna roll”). Our hero is speaking to a girl- or maybe all the women out there- with a confident shout-out. His stamina and endurance are not up for debate- “We can go all night”- and there is that need for closeness, satisfaction, and togetherness.

Whether he has a particular girl in his head- laying down his best lines and moving in- or walking around town: you are on his side and (strangely) compelled. In the first seconds, the mood is quite chill; the vibe is cool and relaxed. The introduction threw sounds and elements into the fold: that hard and alpha male-like electronic thud; the sensual and intense beat; those strange, hypnotic vocal interjections. Once Signal laid down his mandate- a man who has bravado and confidence; someone legendary with the ladies- the pace changes. Signal transforms from soulful seducer to hard-on rapper. Bleeding and scarred- a vivid and sexualised vision; ideas of lovers enraptured and contorting- the birds and bees are leaving. It might not be scientific and Shakespearian: our hero is ready for action; the sweat is dripping from his lips. Michael Jackson-dropping references- Billie Jean and Beat It are cleverly name-checked and mutated- and social media references- “Text, Tweet it”; hashtag and WhatsAppwhen you need it”- come into the fray. The rhymes are spat with determination and hustle. Inside this sensual melisma- one imagines our man has already made one conquest- Signal is taking us through a tour of his night. He is cold and sick inside- maybe a warning; one feels like he is not overly-sincere- and that sense of confidence keeps riding high. From 1982-Michael Jackson to modern-day technology- the girl can post and promote her dalliance- your head doesn’t get a chance to rest. Intense and hot as the images he is laying down: the composition is hard and defiant; sticking its chest out and driving the vocal through.

Lesser songs bury the vocal or put liquidy splats and too-reckless beats together- assuming that will augment the lyrics and add emotion. Jay Picasso is an accomplished producer that brings the best from Signal. The song brings us into Sal’sa local club or acquaintance? – when our man owes you (“I owe you!”). The two (entranced in dance and abandonment) will be pumping in the background- not as sexual as you’d imagine- and get lost in the music. In the song’s video: our man walks the streets pursuing a girl. Played by Sara Parker a multi-talented model and actress- she is coquettish and refuting his advantages. Maybe having seen boys come and go- assuming Signal is one of those types- Parker gives a sly smile and backs off- you know she will succumb to that confidence and engaging charm. In-between the two-hander; our man is seen rapping on a rooftop: laying down his philosophies and projecting with immense drive and vigour. All Night grows harder and more compelling as time elapses. Showing how exceptionally skilled he is: the wordplay is stunning; so many different ideas and scenes come together; everything hits the mark with ease.

Wrestling metaphor comes in- tapping-out and grappling on the mat- implying what is to come. Our boy has a single-minded voyage and wants the girl. Our heroine (in the video) is letting her resistance down. Whether friends or former sweethearts: Signal is getting through to her and proving an attractive proposition. Keen to take her into the unpredictability and electricity of the night: numbers are exchanged and the heat is on. The duo is vibing and clicking, no doubt. Essences of Skepta and Kano can be heard- artists important to Signal. All Night could easily fit into their catalogue. Amps displays a comparative talent and naturalness. The sharp and bold words- replete with underlying ambiguity- will get listeners engaged and jumping. All Night is an instant and unmistakable hit: something that could be adopted by B.B.C. Radio 1 and underground stations- plenty around London would take it on- and translate in the U.S. Able to go all night: one wonders whether sex or togetherness is being assessed. It may be my naivety- and the assumption sex is the natural desire- but there is a need for connection and vibe; bonding with someone and having fun (dancing and clubbing). Maybe an amalgamation of the two: so many different sights, emotions and sensations approach the senses. All highlighted by Signal’s endless confidence: All Night never loses a step or misses a beat.

Our heroine- Parker goes to her trendy flat (alright for some!) and is a girl from the other side of the tracks, perhaps- seems coy but pleased. She has quite an expensive and luxurious life- I know Signal would have had this in mind before the video was conceived- whilst our hero has a more restricted and working-class life- having to live on the estates and exist more modestly. Reading texts and kicking-back: the gorgeous heroine has been seduced and hooked- things are about to get intense! Before another militaristic assault: the chorus comes in with a laid-back and cool-as-f*** groove. Bringing the swagger of Grime and Hip-Hop together with the sharpness and assiduity of Rap- it is a brief respite that gives the listener a chance to recharge and reflect. When he is back on the microphone- the story has progressed to the bedroom; that first date is over- the girl is showing off (“Clothes off”) next to the bed. Handcuffs and a “Karma Sutra robot” are thrown in. With our girl- the video sees Parker posing and pouting; flirting and intoxicating, to say the least- only in heels and a smile; the sweat and steam levels rise; one of the most visceral and sexual statements is put out there. The twisted limbs and down-and-dirty vibe is never overdone or crass. Signal gives things such a likability and (almost gentlemanly) approach: you are always rooting for him and never feel cold. The “Bedroom gangster”- whether references our girl or hero- is ready for action: down on the sheets and taking control. Inventive language and eye-catching imagery show no profanity or crudeness. Signal is an inventive and skilled writer who can talk about sex and passion without it seeming laddish and immature. Floating in “like Casper” and making love “in anger”- that bond of T.V./popular culture and physical directness adds layers and intensity. As you catch your breath- in the video; Parker plays with her hair as she chats with Signal (on the phone); the two have a definite bond and connection- the chorus comes back in to provide gravity and grounding. The chorus becomes more relevant and imperious- our heroine (in the video) tries on dresses as Signal approaches her flat- you brace yourself for another round of quick-fire lines; the boy grows more ‘up for it’ and brash; never too forceful or cloying.

That mandate and proclamation have been laid down- just what is in mind; how he wants things to go down- and we have reached the bedroom (Parker and Signal exchange furtive glances before heading to her room). “I’m Jack and you’re my pumpkin” leaves little to the imagination- an example of Signal’s way with words- as the two tease, laugh and kiss. Somewhere- as it is said- there is always rubbing. Their coming-together is never XXX cinema: it has passion to it but definitely errs on the ‘not-suitable-for-all-the-family’ side of things. The gloves and clothing are off- one of the video’s most memorable and evocative moments arrives at the 2:56 mark- and things get properly hot. The final minute sees the chorus roll back in- gaining new nuance and meaning- and a post-coital reflection. The echoed, distorted vocals are reintroduced; parped brass and scuffled beats fight it out; the mood remains spellbound and dramatic. If the video leaves some mystery- Parker sweeps aside her hair and bites her lip; Signal walks away (both are in the street) and you wonder whether they will see each other again- the song is more conclusive. Our hero has enjoyed an unforgettable experience and you feel like it was just a one-off thing. Maybe the allure and beauty of the girl will draw him back in: given the explosion and bond between them, can we ever rule it out?

Assessing things- after the dust has settled- one has a lot to take in. The chorus is one of the most unescapable and unforgettable of this year. It will stick in your mind and you are helpless (when listening to the song again) and will sing along, proudly. An immediate and bonding mantra- designed to get the crowds chanting; hands and voices aloft- it is simple and effective. The verses are delivered with intensity and passion. You listen to All Night over and over to get to the bottom of things: relive those images and let your imagination conspire and imagine. That allure and addictiveness runs in tandem with the song’s theme: that sexual pull and thrilling relationship. The listener- like the song’s heroine- is powerless and will submit to Signal’s charm and prowess. Even if you think you have All Night sussed out- simply about sex and getting the girl into bed?- there is depth and mystique. Something about the song digs beneath the surface and gets you thinking- such a strange thing but that is the power of a truly remarkable artist. (On a side-note: it would be great to see Amps and Parker work together again; they have a natural click and chemistry in the video). Jay Picasso brings All Night to the precipice- ensuring it is as hard-hitting and formidable as possible. Muscular, swaggering and impassioned: Picasso is a veritable artist (see what I did, there?) who adds shine and buff but keeps things real, gritty and dirty. I hope the duo works together soon as they have a close affinity and chemistry. Once said and done: All Night marks the arrival of (one of Britain’s) hottest and most talented Grime/Hip-Hop artists. It is the beginning of a glistening future.

It is clear Signal (Daniel Amps) has found his nice and vocation. There are few out there that are natural-born musicians: absolutely determined of who they are and what they want to do. Many musicians discover their ‘calling’ over years; some lose the faith and struggle for identity- no such issue with Signal. Even from those earliest recording you can hear that lust and assuredness. Genres like Grime and Hip-Hop (Rap too) are not seen as mainstream and radio-friendly. Acts like Skepta, Wretch 32 and Kano are trying to change that transgression. Britain is unsettled and becoming more uncertain. Whether the looming (and never-ending) threat of terrorism and violence; the changing nature of our population and streets; the vibrancy and chaos of modern youth- it is to this generation’s musicians to make sense and articulate this variation and reality. Signal’s latest single has its tongue in cheek and radar primed. The sweat and decibel levels rise as our hero spits her words and rides high: someone who will not stop until he gets what he wants; that confidence and determination explodes through. During a recent interview with B.B.C. Introducing Berkshire, Signal documented his musical career and plans for the future. Filled with optimism and passion- you can feel that desire and intensity. Recent performances in Camden (part of the U.K. Unsigned Hype gig at Lockside) impressed the capital’s music-loving devotees. Reading’s Got Talent saw Amps bring his armory to Berkshire: accruing new fans and attention; more positive steps from a rising star.

The press has been impressive- if slightly localized right now- but will grow in the coming years. Each month sees Signal amass followers and praise; people are responding to the music. The antithesis of the safe and bland Pop charts- the same themes and pedestrian sounds being peddled- it is rewarding discovering a musician that stands in the mind. Signal wants the young generation to keep at it- he said this in the B.B.C. Introducing’ interview- and focus their minds. So many become disenchanted and disheartened by the hurdles music throws. Too many musicians want instant rewards- thinking their talent should be acknowledged instantly- but that is not a realistic goal. Every year, music becomes more competitive and hard: with Signal blossoming and succeeding; he will give guidance and leadership to new musicians coming through. On June 17th he plays Junction Music (Purple Turtle, Reading) from 7-10pm. The following day, he takes to the Nor Lye Music Festival. On 9th July, Signal will be part of the Basingstoke Live Festival– playing a small afternoon set. If you have not caught Signal live: I would urge you to see him and experience his engaging, blood-rushing music first-hand. Hooking up with Jay Picasso: Signal is in rude form; at the top of his game- he has never sounded quite as motivated and ready. I would love to see Daniel Amps take his music to London- either to live or regular gigs- as that is where you can gain the most exposure and support.

All Night leads on from Make It Happen and pushes Signal out-front- the E.P. saw him collaborate with other artists for most tracks- and embrace carnal pleasures and desire. Never displaying braggadocio or luridness: there is a blend of humour, cheekiness, and confidence- few will be able to hear the song without a smile creeping onto the face. Inside the lyrics, you find a young musician who can turn a phrase and create indelible lines- those you quote back and get lodged in the brain. The composition is infectious and rushing; the vocal skillful and urgent- all these ingredients go into a superb and authoritative song. There is no news whether a Signal E.P. will be out before the end of the year. I know Amps is busy promoting and performing. Following the reaction to All Night– the song has been posted to social media- that backing will surely create confidence and fresh impetus. A natural collaborator- who can blend with any other musician with ease- there will be those lining up, for sure. There will be no rush; plenty of options await Signal. The U.S. may lead the Hip-Hop/Rap agenda. Musicians like Kendrick Lamar seem untouchable right now. One of music’s defined geniuses: we do not have anyone (in the U.K.) that boasts that degree of talent and ability.

The upcoming generation of British Grime/Hip-Hop stars are taking inspiration from the U.S. (the likes of Kendrick Lamar) and producing some phenomenal music. I can see Grime and Hip-Hop becoming more popularised and present in the coming year. Talented, ambitious artists (like Signal) are adding colour, vivacity, and real-life insight; a window into the realities of day-to-day life. A lot of modern music deals with subjects in a detached manner: musicians cloak emotions in metaphor and simile. Grime (Hip-Hop and Rap) artists are unafraid to be naked and direct: ensure their songs do not beat around the bush. Whether this transformation and change occur in the coming years- Grime might take longer to assimilate into the public consciousness- it will be interesting to see. Signal is an artist as honest and hard-working as they come. Somebody who deserves a lot more success and adulation: All Night is a song that will get his name out to stations and venues; those who can help push his music. Producers, singers, and journalists will take note and keep a watchful eye: just how far can the young artist go? Judging by the quality- and hugely positive public reaction- to his latest single…

ALL the way to the top!



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TRACK REVIEW: Saints Patience- Break of Dawn



Saints Patience



Break of Dawn




Break of Dawn is available at:

July 8th, 2016

Classic-Rock; Alternative; Soul; Retro.-Electro.


London, U.K.


I have explained how contrast and contradictions…

make music the majestic drug it is. Not long have I put the pen- metaphorically-speaking, of course- I pick it back up: ready and inked. From L.A.’s DreamVacation- an Indie-cum-Alternative act- to a London duo that does things very differently. Before I introduce you to the chaps; their music has compelled me to look at Classic-Rock and older acts; London duos and their prominence; making new starts and making first impressions. When I am faced with a new act- who is making their way through the world- I can always pick up influences and idols. If I come across a Rock band- which is the case today- there are the same musicians that come to mind. I have mentioned the likes of Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age regularly- a lot of young bands try to replicate these acts- but to my mind, so many different styles of music are being overlooked. If you are a Rock band, let’s say, you do not need to be confined to ‘70s legends and ‘90s-‘00s gods. I have always been a fan of Classic-Rock: not too many new artists look to this genre. You cannot really call Foo Fighters Classic-Rock by virtue of their age and style.

My featured duo are fans of Led Zeppelin but look to the bombast and theatrics of Queen. Two people who have a fond affection for the stadium-filling, blasting-out-of-your-stereo anthems: as opposed to the tighter, newer acts. It is rare to find a band/duo that count Queen as their influence. Maybe (the band) has always had a bit of a jokey persona: easy to love Freddie Mercury; harder to love the songs themselves. Whilst Queen created some obvious wonders- Bohemian Rhapsody and The Show Must Go On– their back catalogue is a mixed bag. Every song is given credibility and drama because of Mercury’s octave-straddling voice: able to transform the most camp and ridiculous number into a religious experience. Led Zeppelin inspires a lot of young bands: albums like Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin IV– few take from their debut album or Physical Graffiti; when they were at their most emphatic and all-conquering. I think that is a problem with the younger generation: they are too narrow and unadventurous; unaware that artists and genres exist- perhaps not seeing them cool or credible. Before I carry on my point; let me introduce Saints Patience to you:

Essentially the project of two London-based musicians, multi-instrumentalist Spencer and vocalist Mudibu, Saints Patience place melody and groove front and centre in a thrilling audio format that mixes the classic and the contemporary by following the lead of such timeless artists as Queen, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin and The Wailers. Their songs are cohesive amalgamations of Spencer’s prolific guitar jams and improv sessions in his home studio, which Mudibu, formerly of Mantilla, Lostchild and The Jezebel Sextet, enhances via his rich and powerful voice. This intuitive pair – “You know it’s good when you just look at each other and smile” – have now collected the best of their writings into a vibrant full-length album (to be released later in 2016), recorded using minimal gear at Spencer’s studio and thus exuding a fresh and dynamic analogue vibe. All this as Saints Patience are recruiting additional band members to perform the artisanal instrumental parts in a live setting and take this charismatic show on the road. As Mudibu says of the process, “When everything comes together, I know it and feel it running through me.” Rest assured that everything is definitely coming together for Saints Patience, and it is coming together apace. Consider ‘Break Of Dawn’ your introduction.


Spencer and Mudibu- too cool for surnames- are the twin force that makes Saints Patience such an alluring act. Not only do they source their sound from the annals of Classic-Rock: they have affection for Soul and the legends that defined the genre. Mudibu is especially fond of the likes of Otis Redding and The Wailers: you can hear that empathic power and prowess in his voice; a combination of Redding and Mercury; bits of Reggae and Funk thrown into the blender. Spencer’s multi-instrumental talents take in Retro.-Electro. and Pop; a perfect counterpart and backdrop for Mudibu’s golden vocals. Saints Patience are based out of London: a city that is seeing a range of duos emerge. I can think of nowhere else in the U.K. that has so many (and varied) duos- Brighton have a few; not on the same scale. I have reviewed a few- from Rews and Gypsyfingers to Them&Us- and am amazed by what talent is on display. Once upon a time- not too long ago- duos were something or a rarity. In the ‘80s and ‘90s there were a few prominent examples: that seemed to slow and dissipate going into the 21st century. After the glory of the ‘90s- and the exceptional bands that defined the decade- duos were a bit of an endangered experience. I am not sure what is being the rebirth and resurgence- close-knit friendships and a more streamlined approach- but I am glad it is occurring. Most of my reviews look at artists that are established or have a few songs under their belt- making Saints Patience a bit of an oddity. The boys have been playing for a while: Break of Dawn is, in effect, their introductory release. As a result, their Facebook and Twitter pages are quite bare and fledgling- hence the reason the same photos will reappear throughout this piece.

Their follower numbers are limited: that is all going to change before too long. It is a daunting proposition coming fresh onto the market: having to recruit followers and get the music out there. With a great P.R. team behind them- the guys at Lost in the Manor– their lead single is getting a lot of exposure, reviews, and plaudit. It will not be long before (the song) gets serious radio-play and airing. I am their 7th follower on Twitter- that number is going to climb very soon- and their Facebook page mainly consist reviews and the odd photo. Were the guys based in a town or outside a major city, I would be a bit worried for them. I have heard multiple horror stories of artists that struggle to gain attention in towns and villages: there is not a live music scene or media outlets to help their careers. That is why London is becoming packed and appealing: there are so many different venues and musicians; plenty of P.R. agencies to help get the music out there. With that lure and captivation comes the flip side: everyone has the same idea; overcrowding leads to competiveness and increased anxiety. I feel London is big and clever enough to recognise true talent. Saints Patience are distinct and agile in their approach. They take common- if under-represented in 2016- genres and acts: mixing them together and creating something extraordinary. With such an impressive singer- who is soulful and explosive- and a can-play-anything musician: a compacted and unbreakable duo that have many years before them.

Saints Patience are a new act: it makes it hard to chart a progressing and compare their new work (with older sounds). Give their list of influences- from Queen and Led Zeppelin to Otis Redding- if you are a fan of any of these acts- I would recommend you get involved with the London duo. Defined by Mudibu’s empathic and epic vocals; Spencer’s extraordinary musical innovations: it goes into one of this year’s most immediate and remarkable singles. If you do not believe me- or think it is hyperbole- the opening seconds of Break of Dawn dispel reluctance. Skipping, bouncing strings put you in mind of Beggars Banquet-era The Rolling Stone. Funky, twanging and hypnotising- you find yourself tapping feet and sucked into the rhythm and catchiness. The introduction sounds like it could belong to The Kinks or Led Zeppelin- in addition to The Rolling Stones- and possesses that ‘60s/’70s ethos. A hip-swaying groove that will get every listener on board- the percussion comes in and adds to that swagger and confidence. A driving, Hard-Rock/Classic-Rock bombast: few duos have such a confidence this early on. The chugging, locomotive-like momentum of the introduction grows and builds in stature. Electronic notes are put into the background: augmenting the foreground and injecting colour and zest into the high-proof alcoholic ramble. Whilst I could happily listen to the introduction extended into a four-minute exercise: Saints Patience are keen to deliver their message to us. Our hero steps to the microphone and demonstrates an instant authority and determination. There are no nerves and mis-steps in the vocal: it is delivered with such verve, clarity, and passion. Feeling low at times; like there’s “nothing to lose”: there is that desire to go for broke and follow dreams. Even after the initial words; you get the sense of a young man that wants things to change. Maybe stuck in a place he does not feel happy; in a rut or boring routine- there is that desire to break free and becomes someone different. Whatever you believe is what you become: a quasi-philosophical statement that is the song’s mission statement and tagline. If you want to escape and change your life: embrace a better life then you can do that. Overriding synths. and arena-ready percussion kicks Mudibu’s voice: Spencer makes every second dramatic and romantic; completely dizzying and delirious.

The duo implores dawn-set dancing: the chorus is a foot-stomping, call-to-arms: an insatiable, rabbel-rousing deceleration that is impossible to refute. Musicians that can lick a good chorus are pretty much set for life: the modern consumer wants something simple and easy; words they can chant and be involved with. Break of Dawn repeats its thoughts and lines: with every revocation; the immediacy and potency increases; the sweat levels rise and the smiles broaden. Propelled by a Classic-Rock jam of the highest order: how many radio stations could you hear playing this song throughout the summer months? With the temperature rising- it is positively spring-like in London- Break of Dawn matches the mood: it is an elliptical, embrace-your-fellow-man swing that boasts a very impressive message. It might seem like a simple concept: if you want something/want to change life for the better; go out and do it. Songs have explored this issue in the past: very few modern artists present something as overtly positive and humanitarian. Music is so caught up in negativity and insularity- people talk about their hurt hearts and own self- it is wonderful seeing an act that puts the focus on everyone else. An altruistic and thoughtful approach to songwriting will always yield interest and fascination. We should dance until the sun rises; the truth is in our eyes: snapshot inspirational messages that are obvious and decipherable to all. Mudibu lets his voice fly and reign free. You get embers of Steve Perry and Robert Plant in his regal bellow: a vocal that can topple buildings and cool the sun. With such power comes great responsibility: this is utilised to deliver something proud, profound and uplifting. Never do you get a sense of one man’s agenda being pushed onto the listener. So many contemporary songs have that selfishness and need to buy into someone’s pain- without considering whether the listener is interested or not.

Saints Patience have such a dogmatic approach: undeniable truths that are being laid down with so much gusto. One part of me always hooks around Mudibu’s voice. It has such flair, personality, and legacy: a unique singer that subtlety blends legends into his voice. Spencer gives the song its kick and authority: that un-distilled Hard-Rock sizzles that never abates. Riding that sticks-in-the-brain-until-you-die chorus effusively: they ensure it gets into your mind and gets you singing along with ease. By the second spin of the song, you are on board and ready for what is to come. A lot of songs need time to reveal themselves; nuanced to the extreme. Break of Dawn is instant and straightforward: every listen will see the song register dancing and smiling; that effect never wanes or fades. When Mudibu steps aside from the microphone (a few second that allow the composition to come in) Spencer grabs the gauntlet and steps into the light. Those syntheised notes wash over the song and bathe it in a tropical, orange blossom scent. In an odd way, the duo mix flavours, smells, and ingredients together- trying not to step too far into pretentious territory. The guitars and percussion add something shot-like an intense: a vodka-cum-whiskey hybrid that gets to the head and evokes instant results. The electronics are more tender and mellifluous. You get impressions of cosmopolitanism and London vibes: the sounds and scents of the street; the shop ways and parks; the boutiques and restaurants. The vocal has chocolate flavours and husky overtones- spicy and intense at once; soothing and sumptuous the next (okay, I’ll stop now!). Just before the three-minute marker: that Kinks-like kick (You Really Got Me, perhaps?) shifts up a gear and gets the body rocking.

After a brilliant and evocative middle 8: we are back into overdrive; helpless to deny that leather jacket-clad swaggering hero. Spencer’s guitar work is exemplary and natural- you can hear the hours of work he puts into the instrument; how easily he can craft these meaty riffs. The percussion work is equally imperious and domineering; little shades of Dave Grohl come through. Mudibu never lets (that glorious, powerhouse) voice drop for a second. When layered and multi-tracked it sounds like an evangelical choir: an army determined to get the gospel delivered. The final seconds enforce the qualities of both performers: the chorus is cycled; it shows different sides every time around- such is its simple charm and command (in fact, by the final seconds I heard riff comparisons to Beat It). London is at the vanguard of the duo revolution: no other city in the world is producing so many original and special twosomes. L.A. is pretty close behind, but to my mind, they are leading us in the band market- I have spent long enough reviewing acts there to know that. That parentage of Classic-Rock and of-the-minute Retro.-Electro. makes Break of Dawn such a smash. If the indelible, gut-punch riff does not get to you: the delirious, swelling chorus surely will. I have heard few young acts make such an instant mark. I know the boys of Saints Patience have experience and performed for years: they sound completely right and natural in each other’s company. Mudibu’s mountainous voice makes every word compelling and stand-out. He is such a commanding performer and imbues essences of Soul and Classic-Rock greats. Spencer supplies the beats, licks, and electronics: an exceptional musician that gives the song contour, drama, and memorability. Backed by exceptional production- it is polished but raw enough to make it live-sounding- the future is very promising for Saints Patience.

I have gone into depth about Saints Patience and their defining qualities. The boys are recruiting musicians as they go along. A full-length album is due soon. They will use their artisanal instruments and sparse setting- Spencer’s home studio is minimal and has an analog charm- to create something raw, bare and stunning. Too many acts are keen to jump into the studio and polish their tracks. Many are negating the importance and effectiveness of stripping things back and recording something with more openness, honesty, and directness. Break of Dawn gets into the heart because it’s free from tinsel and gleam: it is a track that brings to mind ‘70s Soul greats and their sound. This D.I.Y. approach to music is going to become more prominent in the future. Music-making is becoming more expensive and less accessible. Studio costs are pricing musicians out: they have to revert to their own means; find cheaper ways to make music. Whilst this will frighten many new acts: it is not such a bad thing. As Saints Patience have demonstrated: you can mould a beautiful and direct track with the least amount of input, fuss and expenditure. Spencer’s home studio-based experimentations fuse with Mudibu’s experience (having appeared in Mantilla, Lostchild and The Jezebel Sextet). Both have cut their teeth in different ways- together, they seem like the perfect partnership. It will be wonderful seeing an L.P. from these guys. If we get anything half as good (as) Break of Dawn: it is likely to be one of 2016’s most essential and elementary albums. You can feel the chemistry and brotherhood: the guys have an understanding and affection that bleeds into their music; drives their messages to the forefront.

There are a lot of London-based duos being discovered: few promote such positive messages in the music. Maybe it is Mudibu’s love of Soul and his background- I find musicians with an African background favour songs that proffer hope and dream fulfillment- or natural personality that makes the music so personable and inspiring. Whatever the explanation behind the explosion: I would love to see the guys live; bringing their music to the London stage. Right now, they have caught the ear of some of the U.K.’s most prominent blogs and reviewers (not including myself in that). Break of Dawn is a pretty unbeatable debut release- I’m sure the duo will find a way to do it. I opened by looking at Classic-Rock and its undervalued status in today’s climate. A lot of acts nod to the days of Queen and Led Zeppelin: they are not keeping the flame burning as brightly as they should. The same goes for Soul, to an extent. Non-Soul singers/bands do not often look to the likes of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke; bring some Reggae vibes to the fold. Saints Patience have so much colour and culture in the music. Break of Dawn unites various genres, decades, and singers. The planet-hopping belt of Mercury and Redding have inspired Mudibu; so too have The Wailers and bands like Led Zeppelin. A powerful, mind-melting vocalist that has got the media melted and seduced. Spencer’s musical abilities are not to be overlooked. Whether it is Keith Richard-esque chopped guitars; modern, arms-in-the-air synthesisers and electronics. The guys are making music that could fill arenas. Break of Dawn has fists-aloft rouse and singalong potential: a song that implores crowds to get together and lose themselves. That said, the duo feel comfortable and assured in a more intimate and less daunting environment- the comfort and safety of a home studio. I am not sure which area of London they reside in; they make music that speaks to all areas of the capital. The funky, youthful trendiness of East London- you have plenty of Electro.-Synth.-cum-Pop strands to get Hoxton bars and Shoreditch streets bouncing.

The rich and fashionable Chelsea/Knightsbridge clans- around the south-west- will find much to love. Grittier, hard-edged riffs will speak to the boys and girls in North London estates; across the south of London. In truth, there is universality (in Break of Dawn) that will unify all ages and areas. Not just confined to Britain in their appeal: the guys are ready-made for the U.S. – from L.A.’s vibrant, polemic geography to New York’s characteristic and distinct boroughs- and other areas. There is no stopping Saints Patience when they set their mind to things: when their L.P. is released; their touring schedule will swell; they will be inundated with social media followers and review requests. I am not sure how the next few months are shaping up- what gigs they have lined and if they are recording- but I’m sure they will be very busy indeed. I love the quality and consistency of duos emerging in Britain right now. Maybe London has the best of them- there are plenty in other parts of the U.K. – but they cater to all tastes and preferences. Saints Patience are one of the most scintillating and promising of them all. Whilst too many duos lean towards electronic sounds- it seems the most vogue form of partnership- here we get something with more body, depth, and originality. Being a fan of Classic-Rock: it is nice to see it given a modern take; blending inside sumptuous Soul and vivacious Electronica. Make sure you investigate these guys and follow them- help spread the word. All great musicians deserve support; it is vital we keep their careers alive and well. Break of Dawn is a track that wets the appetites and nods to the future: who knows just how good their album will be?! Judging by their debut single…

IT could be one of this year’s finest albums.



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TRACK REVIEW: DreamVacation- Letting in the Dead






Letting in the Dead




Letting in the Dead is available at:

16th May 2016

Alternative Rock


Los Angeles, U.S.A.


LaserGhost Records, Inc.


IT is back to a band that has been enjoying a steady rise…

over the last few months. I always like returning to a band or artist: so many of my review subjects go out into the ether never to return (to me): making me wonder how their careers are doing. Before I dive into DreamVacation’s latest track; it is worth looking at how one’s environment compels musical creativity; how personal circumstances help- and can bond a group- looking at the bands putting L.A. on the map. So many songwriters tend to draw their inspiration from their love lives and relationships. Love songs tend to make up the majority of most songs: it is the most-common form of track; something most of us can relate to. While it is a staple of the music industry: it is nicer when musicians draw their inspiration from other areas; go deeper and stretch their imaginations. Even within the boundaries of love and relations: you can explore so many different avenues and ideas; expand the imagination and come up with something spectacular. My featured act is based in L.A.: a variable and ever-changing city that mixes vibrancy and excitement with scenic views and sweeping landscapes. Depending on where you live: it can either have a negative or positivity effect on your mindset. For musicians, their home/location is paramount: it is where they are based and will be hugely important withy regards the songwriting process. For that reason- and because of increased opportunities and audiences- musicians are flocking to cities and prosperous areas- London and L.A. are safe havens for the emigrating masses. L.A. enjoys so much diversity and contrast.

One moment, you will be cruising through upmarket neighbourhoods and well-to-do areas; down to less-privileged refugee camps and dangerous areas- all within the blink of an eye. Los Angeles’ vast array of shops, bars and nationalities is enough to get the laziest of musicians frantically writing. A wonderful, busy city that supports musicians and spurs creativity: DreamVacation is vibing from the city’s lustre and creating some of their finest material. They are enamored of the juxtaposing areas and scenescapes: this all feeds into their vivid, remarkable songs. Before I go onto another point: let me introduce DreamVacation to you:

DreamVacation’s stunning new self-titled EP sweeps you away with a brooding melodic power and hard-edged yet atmospheric guitars behind lead singer Ray Silva’s emotional vocals. The EP was produced by John Rausch, engineer and track architect for such powerhouses as Taylor Swift, Pink, Florence and the Machine, Foxes and Birdie.

DreamVacation’s stellar lineup includes Gerry Matthews on bass and backing vocals, Morgan Terrinoni on guitar, and Noah Alexander on drums. The band members previously supported live acts such as Foster the People, Airborne Toxic Event, The War On Drugs and Matt & Kim.

The EP was written at a rehearsal space in downtown LA, and recorded in Kingsize Soundlabs in Eagle Rock.  “LA is such a juxtaposition of opposing landscapes,” says Ray Silva. “One minute your rolling through a really upscale area and the next you find yourself on 6th Ave passing the inner city refugee camps of the homeless.”

The band members’ personal stories over the last three years have been equally up and down. They’ve endured breakups, living out of rehearsal spaces or cars, marriages falling apart, and family deaths. But they learned to write as a group, and that forged songs such as “Window Room,” “Press Play,” and “Letting in the Dead”.

The four piece also had success placing songs in films and TV shows, including Showtime – Shameless, TNT – Boston’s Finest, and SYFY – Being Human, to name only a few.

“We hope to inspire people to think and see things differently than they normally do.  And maybe even remember things they thought they forgot.  To feel more connected and sense that there is more kindness available than it seems.”


A lot of bands go through tough times: none more so than DreamVacation. It seems like their lives are ready-made for the screen: the story of struggling artists that have overcome hurdles and remained strong in the face of adversity. The guys have seen marriages break-up and family members die. This tragedy has been backed by misfortune and bad luck. Having to exist out of cars and rehearsal spaces: the lives of DreamVacation has been anything but smooth. In a modern age, few of us have any perception of struggle and poverty. Hiding behind Smartphones and laptops; ensconced in the blur and fakery of social media: we seem disconnected from society and the realities of the real world. When we think of musicians; we do not look at the people behind the songs- how they struggle and where they come from. Music is becoming more disposable and less tangible: the soul and physicality has gone; replaced with something digital and distant. We would do well to consider the inspiration behind the music: what drives the process and where it comes from. DreamVacation’s recent struggles have not only enforced new music: it is the most direct and emotional songs they have ever come up with. In addition to putting new material onto tape: the band want to encourage others to think widely about the world; feel more connected with the world and not assume negative views- realise there is kindness and support out there.

Few bands take the time to reach out to people and show social awareness. Music is an exhausting reality and few acts touch you on a personal plain- DreamVacation is the exception to the rule. The L.A. four-piece have seen their music played across shows like T.N.T., Shameless; Boston’s Finest and Being Human- to name but a few. They are getting their sounds heard and recognised. It rewarding when a great band overcome the odds and get their rewards. L.A. is a city that has a fair few good bands around- an understatement, if ever there was one- yet DreamVacation nestle among the finest. From Blacktop Queen and Elohim; Riothouse Royale and The Shelters: there is a lot of competition around. DreamVacation’s blend of hard-edged Rock and dreamy melody is a wonderful experience. You hear embers of ‘70s Rock legends and modern-day Indie: something unique and inexplicable, too. The band sprinkle that added ingredient- like the secret ingredient in Coca Cola or that mystery spice from Colonel Sanders- that pushes their music over the edge. Following Window Room and Press Play; they bring to us Letting in the Dead- perhaps their most remarkable statement so far.

Letting in the Dead is DreamVacation’s latest cut- many argue it is their best song so far. Looking back, you can tell how far the guys have come. Like all great bands: the boys were solid and entrancing from their earliest moments. Their eponymous E.P. was released last year and was a four-track that gained them new followers and critical acclaim. Window Room features high-pitched strings and pummeling beats: driving guitars and emotive vocals burrow into their mind and compel the listener to sing along. The song is an emotive and romantic- sounds like to me, at least- track brims with emotion and urgency. Addressing mortality, love and truth: a song that digs deep and is a lot more profound and original than one would expect. Songs that address love and moving on- for the most part, at least- lack that lyrical clout. DreamVacation expend a lot of time with regards the words- this comes through on Window Room. Press Play showcases that inimitable concoction of teasing, tick-tock strings- woozy and ghostly here- and building mood. The song grows and evolves into something rushing and immediate- like the sun rising over a Californian highway. Our man is out in the freezing rain and calling to his love- wondering where she is- as the guitars strike with venom and bite. It is one of the band’s heaviest tracks, for sure. A song that could well be a live favourite- I am sure it is already- it showcases what a tremendous (tight) force the guys are. End of Time is a faster-moving, lighter song that showcases Ray Silva’s delicate voice: something capable of seduction and intense beauty. Breathless and meaningful: you get caught up in his smoky, pained voice. Red Water completes DreamVacation with evocative images of falling skies and being watched. Complete with chanted, wordless vocals: it is one of the most compelling and mysterious tracks on the E.P.

DreamVacation’s E.P. showed a consistency and distinct personality throughout. The songs explored themes of love and dislocation around compositions that provoke emotions, thought and reflection. Whilst each song had its own personality and weight: Letting in the Dead shows a new side and sound from the guys. Not beginning like you’d expect- slight, dizzying strings; a song that builds to ecstatic heights- the boys have created something new and evolved. Not wanting to repeat their E.P. sounds: their latest single has their D.N.A. on it but shows them growing and developed. The vocals are clearer and more decipherable- one of the issues with the E.P. was the intelligibility of the vocals. The four-piece take on new influence and have crafted their most unique and impressive song so far. Whilst Letting in the Dead is their most intense song: it is wholly accessible and pushes their talents and abilities more. Catchier, more atmospheric and compelling than their past work: John Rauh’s production brings the best from the band. Whether Letting in the Dead will form part of a new E.P.; it will be interesting to see how the group develops and progresses. Given the respect their single has gained- across blogs and Facebook– it will surely get their imaginations working; some more songs will follow, surely?

Choppy strings and low-down, scene-setting electronics open Letting in the Dead. From the very off, we hear something that differs from DreamVacation’s debut E.P. The boys are keen not to be pinned down and formulaic. Those cutting and bare strings have a lullaby quality. A “steady channel” on a crazy spirit: the early words build pictures and evocative images. The band has said the song looks at love’s ghosts and holding a séance- making sure the ghost of love past finds a place to rest. Silva is at his most intense and gripping here. Laying in his bed- haunted and letting the dead in- he goes from a whispered sermon to wracked preacher- someone affected and troubled by the memories of the past. The spirits are swirling and calling; there is something spectral and odd in the air. From the tender and relaxed foundations of the song: the mood builds and the vocals start to race. The band come up to the plate and support their lead. Previous DreamVacation tracks have seen heavy-hitting percussion and snarling guitars come together. Here, there is more subtlety and discipline. A certain catchiness enforced Letting in the Dead. More upbeat and uplifted than previous songs: the vocal hops and springs; the composition twirls with abandon. Balancing the song’s dark and troubled lyrics: you get a song that has many layers and levels; it gets into the heart, mind, and soul. With embers of Bruce Springsteen- some of The Boss’ early albums come to mind- there is a Heartland Rock/Jersey Shore sound; something that effortlessly sits with L.A. breeziness. Our hero lies awake and is haunted by the spirits of a departed relationship. Whether it ended on good or bad terms- one assumes the latter is truer- there is that desire to put ghosts to sleep and find some form of solace and peace. The girl (and he) were worlds apart: they lived different lives and did not always see eye-to-eye. The relationship had its good moments but ultimately crumbled under pressure- its effect and pains are still making their impressions.

The vocal performance is one of the most impressive things about the song. It never sits still and brings the maximum emotion and potential from the lyrics. Changing course and direction without warning: it ensures the track is constantly mobile, unexpected and growing. Towards the half-way mark, the band allows the composition to come into the light. The bass and guitars propel things forward and keep the story going. Light yet immediate: the strings summon up a lot of atmosphere and visions. Lesser songs will try similar things- instrumental breaks- and it would add nothing to the song. It would be utilised as a way to fill time. That is never the case with DreamVacation. The guys ensure every second of Letting in the Dead gets the listener involved and speculating. The combination of drum-bass-and-guitars allows you to imagine your own interpretation. I was thinking about ghosts swirling the room: the L.A. twilight basked in tranquility and stillness. Inside a small room, our hero is awake and thinking: seeing these apparitions race around- memories of a bygone relationship is affecting him, still. Although (the two lovers) have split and are in different towns: it is amazing how current the scars are. That is the thing with relationships, I guess: even if the person is out of your life; the aftertaste and regrets can linger long after. I was always guessing whether these ghosts- the memories of the broken love- were positive or not. Maybe the relationship was solid and had its good times- our lead is looking to put the memories to bed. On the other hand, there is an anxiety and strength to the vocal performance which suggests the opposite. Knowing “we’re worlds apart”; the hero is feeling sick inside and wracked. That sentiment adds to the obliqueness rather than providing clarity. That is one of the good things about the song: it does not reveal the whole truth; there is a little room for guessing and personal interpretation. Maybe that separation and distance is a good thing- good to be apart from the girl- or perhaps there is longing and regret- that need to rekindle the spark. The relationship was complicated and strong: it is only right the haunting spirits would come back time again.

Into the final minute, Letting in the Dead keeps the listener fascinated and compelled. The band is at their most accomplished and loose, here. Their debut E.P. showed a lot of tension and nervousness: here, they sound more relaxed and tight. Although the composition backs lyrics of loss, upset and doubts: the way this is scored is done with a sense of melody and positivity. It is hard to listen to the song and not be affected by its catchiness and detail. The guitars vary from Western-themed- there is a nice, twanging coda towards the end- and static. Eliciting a variety of emotions- disturbed dreams and that need for peace- the band are at their peak. The percussion ensures a constant heartbeat is there: it at once forceful and primal; the next, restrained and light. DreamVacation have managed to write about a common subject- love and the effect break-ups have- and put a new spin on it. By using spirits and ghosts as metaphors: the lyrics do not suffer cliché and predictability. The way they are presented and delivered shows what an evolving band we have here. Lesser acts would keep the same pace and projection: maybe changing things in the chorus; it would still sound pretty lumpen and derivative. DreamVacation’s lead lets his voice mutate and move in all directions. The lyrics are given so much emotion and colour: one of the most assured and impressive performances Silva has delivered. Gerry Matthews’ bass and backing vocals add so much to the song. He keeps things ordered and together: guides the lads and adds plenty of rhythm, groove and fluidity to the track- making sure the words and vocals flow naturally. Morgan Terrinoni produces one of his most varied and complicated guitar work. One minute light and Indie-flavoured- The Strokes have been mentioned as influences- whilst dreamy and delirious the next- so many different sides and sounds; a treasure trove of notes on offer. Noah Alexander’s sturdy and impassioned percussion work gives the song its spine and thudding heartbeat. Let’s hope Letting in the Dead is the start of a new creative phase from the L.A. quartet.

The L.A. quartet is in fine form and this is going to drive their future recordings. Having supported the likes of Foster the People and Airborne Toxic Event: the band has a cachet and solid reputation; their incredible performances and electric connection has enthralled the crowds. Letting in the Dead is a song that gets inside the heads and offers so much. Like the best and deepest tracks around: its potential and true magic is not realised the first time around. A nuanced and intelligent band: their music blossoms flower-like; growing more impressive as time elapses. I have not heard any news about an E.P. or album. I know the band will be crafted new tunes: where will this end up? I would love to see an album from them. It would give the world a chance to experience the full DreamVacation experience. For that matter, perhaps the group will come to England and play. I say this a lot, too. I know how many different music venues would love to see DreamVacation rock up. London is an obvious example; Manchester and Liverpool, too. They could find work in Scotland and other areas: there are few parts of the U.K. immune to the potential and force of DreamVacation.


Blogs and magazines have been going crazy for Letting in the Dead. The song has a personal edge to it- the ghosts of a dead relationship- that can be interpreted by anyone, really. The band’s incredible bond and exceptional songwriting has resonated with fans and followers. Their solid reputation is not just confined to L.A. Followers from around the world are keen to get the boys playing their town. Whilst the band is still in their early days; there is plenty to suggest they will be one of the premier artists in Los Angeles. It is always difficult when it comes to bands. There are so many out there- all offering something different- and it can be a challenge deciphering which ones are going to make it. The U.S. are slightly ahead of us when it comes to that side of music. We have the best solo acts- in my humble view- but America is leading the way in the group market. For that reason, new bands are having to work harder and up their game. The media can be a fickle and unforgiving thing: heralding (a band) one week; scolding them the next. If you do not keep active- leaving gaps between releases- and show any side of weakness; you will be forgotten about and buried. DreamVacation realise there are a lot of groups that are playing the same sounds. Confined in Indie and Alternative regions: their music has obvious influences and is not distinguished enough. DreamVacation have a common and tangible core- that we will all be able to get on board with- but distinguish themselves enough to stand out from the crowd. It is their resiliency and strength that will see them succeed. They have faced the perils of marriage break-ups and the heartache of family deaths; the struggles of a musical life and personal strains- battling it all to come back with fight and determination. They have not carried burdens in a negative way: translating and transforming these scars in their music; turning them into extraordinary tracks. Letting in the Dead is not as dark or haunting as the title might suggest: it is a song that has beauty and intriguing lyrics; a blend of vulnerable and strong- all the ingredients the modern music seeker could expect. Let’s hope the L.A. band have a smoother ride of things through the next few months. Whether the guys are heading into the studio- between their gigs and touring- I cannot say with certainty. I would love to see an E.P. come soon and witness the guys in the flesh- they would have a lot of demand in this country. If they keep producing tracks like Letting in the Dead, they might be…

HERE for a long time.



Follow DreamVacation








TRACK REVIEW: River Becomes Ocean- Seven



River Becomes Ocean







Seven is available at:

7th April 2016

Post-Hardcore; Rock; Alternative


Brighton, U.K.

The E.P., December, is released on June 21st 


We Will



Buried at Sea

For Now


Sam and Joe Graves (Asking Alexandria)


MY previous review- for Effie, and her track, Pressure– extolled the virtues…

of the female singer-songwriter genre. This review will focus on the new bands: those making impact and forging their way onto the scene. Before I come to my featured act: I wanted to look at bands outside London; the Post-Hardcore/Rock blends; gaps that need filling in music. I have a lot of respect for bands but feel they are over-exposed and put under too much pressure. Most of the mainstream press tends to focus on bands- rather than the solo artist/duo etc. – and very few (of the groups) live up to the hype. For every example of Royal Blood- a duo, I know- there are dozens of ignoble, weak-bloodied servants: those with little grit, majesty, and presence. I feel there is too much copycatting and laziness happening: too many fresh bands wear their influences too heavily; replicate their music in a hope for reciprocal success and support. While it is hard to be truly original and distinct- given the genres and styles of music that have come before- there is still enough room for maneuverability. The lure and zeal of the festival circuit is compelling musicians to pick up instruments and take a chance. It is always great embracing music and dedicating your life to it. Maybe I am subjective and a partisan: there is no finer cause than music; who would want to do anything else?

Rebelling against the day-to-day drudgery of the office place: music is a creative outlet that encourages freedom, expression and passion; bringing people together and exploring what is truly possible. For that reason, bands are springing up at an alarming rate. Whilst there have been some unwisely-tipped groups- the media need to calm down when it comes to crowning every new band- there are plenty of wonderful groups out there. Away from the Foo Fighters-parodying guys: one has plenty of options with regards originality and quality. If you want to look beyond London and the major cities: you would assume your choices (for great acts and variation) is somewhat stifled. That is where you’d be wrong. Brighton is an area that is becoming more popular and desirable. Those who are not keen with the hustle and shoulder-barging of London find solace and beauty in Brighton.

It is a seaside city that offers plenty of cosmopolitanism and community: fascinating side-streets and peaceful retreat- all within walking distance of one another. Out of this veritable cauldron of inspiration and fascinating grows wonderful music. Many would assume Brighton to have a rather slight and quiet music scene. Acts like British Sea Power, Rizzle Kicks and The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster hail from here: Blood Red Shoes, The Levellers and Phatfish call Brighton home. If you have a proper search- and get onto Google- you can see just how many great bands emanate from the southern city. Royal Blood are one of the most-famous and laudable acts to originate for many years: although they no longer live in Brighton; they cut their teeth in the bars and local venues- drawing influence and subject matter from the people and communities. River Becomes Ocean is a band gaining similar nourishment from Brighton. Whilst they may locate to London in years to come- eventually, bands do tend to make their way there- I hope they remain at home for a while. Before I go into more depth; let me introduce the band to you:

Marvin McMahon: Vocals, Piano

Danny Snow: Guitar, Backing Vocals

Ben Bartup: Guitar

Dorian Neidhardt: Drums

Forming in late 2013, River Becomes Ocean represents the movement of something small emerging into something bigger and reflects their music style combining heavy rock riffs with a bold cinematic sound. The lineup features Marvin McMahon (Vocals), Danny Snow (Guitars, Backing Vocals), Ben Bartup (Guitars) and Dorian Neidhardt (Drums). All coming from a musical background, members of the band moved from Germany and France to focus on their musical careers by building the band and developing their sound from scratch. 

The first year consisted of hard work, building their debut 5-Track EP released in March 2014. The band immediately impressed and this led to their first European tour. Following the release of this EP the band consistently toured the UK and Europe picking up support slots with Silverstein, The Qemists, Funeral For A Friend and more.

Their debut EP ‘The World Around Me’ produced with Ben Humphreys and John Mitchell, consists of 5 songs mixing heavy rock riffs and sophisticated clean guitars with cinematic themes and atmospherical orchestral arrangements. The EP also features Canadian post-hardcore veteran, Shane Told of Silverstein on the emotional and hard-hitting track ‘What If I Stay’. This track became a huge success for the band and saw the video picked up for full circulation by MTV, MTVu and VH1. Using this as an opportunity to support projects the band are passionate about, the band donated proceeds of this song to the organisation ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’. The band are strong advocates of animal rights and all members are vegetarian and vegan.

River Becomes Ocean are now building up to release their second EP ‘December’ on June 21st , produced by Sam and Joe Graves (Asking Alexandria) 

Speaking about the record, vocalist Marvin McMahon said:“This record is very close to us and is reflective of the times we went through whilst writing it. After our old bassist left, we chose to start from scratch writing this record. We still had to hit deadlines and were pushed to finish this record within three weeks. However, this limited time frame and the strong emotions we felt enabled us to write December whilst including our experiences of that period of our lives. The songs each have the influence of our individual feelings. We used this negative energy in the most positive way possible and produced these songs which encompass our passion, drive and heartache. We could not be more proud of this release, seeing as it’s a new chapter for River Becomes Ocean, releasing all the negativity we felt and replacing it with the positivity we now experience on a daily basis right now.”

Having just completed a European tour that saw the band perform to sold out audiences across Germany, Austria and Italy, River Becomes Ocean are now looking towards the release of the new EP ‘December’ and will be touring the UK in June in support.

From a city that gave us Poison Girls and The Go! Team: it is no shock to hear a band as heavy and urgent as River Becomes Ocean. Brighton- aside from atmospheric and sky-scraping bands like British Sea Power- hosts a lot of Alternative/Post-Punk/Post-Hardcore bands. Maybe it is the ‘uniqueness’ of the city- the tattooed, eye-catching folk; The Lanes and all its idiosyncrasy; the general sense of rebellion and youth- but there is something very exciting and promising about River Becomes Ocean. Their name says it all, really: they may be small (or relatively so) now but will become bigger and more ominous: a proper force of nature who will conquer the festivals and major venues. Their sophomore E.P., December, is released very soon- something getting tongues wagging and pens inked. Following the success of their debut E.P.: December shows just what a talent is unfolding; the signs all are incredibly positive. Post-Hardcore-cum-Alternative mashings are becoming more popular and marketable. Distinct from the- comparatively held-back and limpid- sounds of Indie and Rock: here, we get more grit, depth, and passion. River Become Ocean are not your average go-for-the-jugular, riff-heavy group. They offer layers and emotional variation: something primal yet intelligent; forceful and emotive. We need more bands that offer the epic tunes of Royal Blood; the blister and energy of The Go! Team: step forward, River Becomes Ocean.

December is on its way: for a full impression; you should listen to the band’s debut E.P., The World Around Me. The guys launched (The World Around Me) as their introduction to the music world. They had enough time to craft the songs and create something layered, detailed and colourful. Whilst not a huge departure from their current E.P.: cinematic strings and orchestral elements sat with clean riffs and a blend of sophistication and heavy Rock. What If I Stay saw Canadian Shane Told (of Silverstein fame) lend his talent- the subsequent video was picked up by M.T.V. and a string of music stations. John Mitchell and Ben Humphreys’ production suited the band’s ambitious tracks. While songs looked at struggles and love; the girls and gambles that motivate their creativity- the compositions boasted a range of instruments and emotions; gravel and grime among the romance and embrace. After their original bassist left, the band was faced with a serious challenge. Against the tide of commercial pressure and regrouping: December is a surprisingly focused and consistent E.P.

The boys have gone for something more to-the-bone and stripped-back. Whilst there are moments of lush beauty and reflectiveness: they have switched producers and embraced something more uncluttered and Post-Hardcore. Their debut E.P. leaned more towards Alternative and Rock sounds. Given the upheaval and changes they faced: their music has changed with them; the guys present River Becomes Ocean 2.0.  On a tighter schedule- and with new influences and themes in their songs- December will bring in new listeners. You do not need to be familiar with their early work to get where they are now. The five-track collection sees clean guitars and stirring strings switched with something dirtier and raw. As I stated: all the original River Becomes Ocean elements are there; they have made some minor alterations. These tweaks go into their best work so far. The band sounds more comfortable in their skins. The songs have greater longevity- you will be replaying them and remember riffs and choruses long after they have finished- and the performances are universally tighter and more studied. The boys are at once looser and more honed. These contradictions and progressions would cause problems in lesser bands- fans going off them and the media becoming a little skeptical. River Becomes Ocean’s touring experience and knowledge of the music world sees them overcome pitfalls; they have crafted a superb E.P. December is the new single that shows what one can expect: if you love this track (which I do) then you are in for four more musical treats.

Seven is a song that spares no time flirting and dispensing small talk. After some low-in-the-mix electronics- the beast grumbling in the undergrowth- the volume starts to increase and the guys notch-up the offensive. Pusillanimous, spoiling-for-a-fight riffs whip the senses; the percussion goes for the gut- the bass gets the blood flowing and the veins pumped. Right from the get-go, the band dispenses their distinct brand of rough justice: a gut-punch offensive that is like a shot of vodka in the eyeballs. A song that seems primed and oiled for the small venues: you can imagine it sounding pretty roof-raising and immense. Once the introduction has done- and you stop head-banging for a second- our lead comes to the microphone. Anyone expecting a Prince cover or David Fincher reference will be in for a surprise- or perhaps not. There is bloodshed and mystery from the off; sinfulness and deceit; something bleak and harrowing. Our hero has been spurned and tormented. His girl has left him- one assumes the breakup was acrimonious and acidic- and has backs sticking from his back- you “might wanna pull them out” is a helpful stage direction. With the band still adding fuel to the fire- the guitars murmur and the percussion has a low-lying shadowiness to it- the vocal is one of McMahon’s most impressive. Whether taken from a painful memory of past love- Seven might refer to a sin or metaphorical murderousness- or based in fiction: you can feel that pain and anger come through in every note. Society, it is claimed, is a cabaret: a shambles that propagates vitriol and attack (if you watch the video- set on the grounds of a council estate- it sees two guys square-up and fight; leaving one of them fighting for life). With his voice at its most gravelly- like his tongue is being pulled through his brain- our man counts to four: “Four for a funeral” is the final commandment/declaration. That mystique and obliqueness make one curious. Whatever the numbers refer to- biblical relevance or part of a modern-day version of the seven deadly sins- it is hard to say. No matter what the origins and relevance: the lines are delivered with maximum intensity and growl; making sure the listener is fully involved with the song.

The girl is officially a bad smell- someone dead to our front-man- and he is in no forgiving mood. Seven is a song that could have been a one-take wonder: such is the anger and purposefulness of the delivery; every player is completely committed and tight. Between the bursts of Hardcore venom: there is a chance for reflection and appraisement. The experience has been rancorous and life-changing- not always for the worse. A learning experience that has brought clarity- our hero is better off without the girl; a weight off his shoulders- those lies and knife wounds are still bleeding and hurting. The Brobdingnagian burden is poking at the psyche; flashing into view at the most inopportune times- causing sub-psychotic burst of recrimination. By the second set of commandments/sins- which are a little too intense for intelligibility- the story is told- the girl is well-and-truly gone. The final minute sees the band introduce a choir (a girls’ choir by the sounds) which gives the song a feel of Linkin Park’s In the End. Running up the numbers- five is for Heaven; six is for Hell; seven for The Devil- the song is lending a spooky, The Shining-type vibe. The band does not encroach and bleach-out the vocals- remaining brooding; they lurk and fire in the background- which gives the choir an unfettered and harrowing sound. When they come back around- that sweet-sounding, if chilling, vocal- the boys come in heavier and turn the volume up. With the amp set to ‘12’- a Harry Potter, platform 7-and-3/4; a recess even Spinal Tap were denied access to- the guys throw everything into the mix. The percussion rifles with determined glee; the bass keeps the song focused and together- the guitars are lupine and without morals. The overall effect is symphonic, grand and operatic- albeit, one that attests love’s bloodshed and perils (a Wagner opera I guess?!). A musical/operatic mash-up of Der Ring des Nibelugen and Tristan and Isolde: Seven completes its plight and tells his tale. A wonderful, intense song from one of Britain’s most promising Post-Hardcore bands.

The Brighton boys have just completed a tour of the continent. Even this early, the guys have accrued international demand and enormous appeal- few bands can attest to that. Right now- in preparation of their forthcoming E.P. – the gang play Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar (cool name) on 21st; they move from Brighton to London the following day- The Garage will play host to the quartet. December is going to be met with acclaim and celebration. We Will begins with layered chants and something peaceful: it explodes into a blood-pumping rage before too long; loses control and becomes an insatiable, free-from-the-shackles beast. Lies is not quite as fevered and intense as other tracks: there is more depth and restraint here. Not wanting to fight anymore- tired of the lies and duplicity- there is plenty of emotion and determination on display. The band put together one of their tightest performances here: in a song that is hugely dramatic and memorable. McMahons vocals always threaten to explode and completely lose their head: the fact he manages to keep his cool (by the band’s standards) is impressive. Buried at Sea packs plenty of meaty riffs and punchy, precise percussion. Our lead’s heart has turned to stone; his soul has been frozen and broken. Using a sweetheart as oceanic metaphor- the waves that crash into him- you get some vivid and poetic lyrics; a huge sense of atmosphere and anger: that tension manifests itself in guttural punctuations- perfectly juxtaposing the accessibility and Alternative vibes.

For Now is the swansong that begins with tenderness and sensitive build. The track aches and yearns; bubbles and spikes- before a croaked and heart-aching vocal unfolds. McMahon is at his most sincere and soul-baring here: reflecting on a love that has gone sour; memories that are spinning around the mind. A lighters-aloft anthem for tormented hearts: it is one of the most honest and open songs on the E.P. When assessing the E.P., McMahon explained it, thus:

This record is very close to us and is reflective of the times we went through whilst writing it. After our old bassist left, we chose to start from scratch writing this record. We still had to hit deadlines and were pushed to finish this record within three weeks. However, this limited time frame and the strong emotions we felt enabled us to write December whilst including our experiences of that period of our lives. The songs each have the influence of our individual feelings. We used this negative energy in the most positive way possible and produced these songs which encompass our passion, drive and heartache. We could not be more proud of this release, seeing as it’s a new chapter for River Becomes Ocean, releasing all the negativity we felt and replacing it with the positivity we now experience on a daily basis right now”.

That negative energy has resulted in something wonderful and immersive. Whether you are a fan of Post-Hardcore (or not) you need not worry. December is an E.P. that ventures into Alternative and Rock avenues: there are plenty of gentle moments and radio-friendly sounds; enough teeth and lust to satisfy that more at home in a mosh-pit than the higher reaches of huge venues. That is the thing about the band: they cater for polemic tastes and needs. They could fill large arenas and produce a stunning live performance- something that would enthrall the capacity crowd. To my ears, they sound more suited to the intimate, sweatier confines of Britain’s unique clubs and venues. I will try and catch the guys in London- unless they come my way- as they seem like a hugely impressive live band. The fact they have filled locations across Europe bodes well. It will not be too long before they go to the U.S. and get demands up and down the U.K.

The World Around Me announced their arrival with a vibrant kick: like a band who had been performing for years; they sounded natural and confident right out the traps. The band are all vegan/vegetarian and advocates of animal rights: loving, conscientious guys who are not afraid to show their sensitive sides. Inside this compassion and love emerges a band who are capable of getting the voice shouting and the bodies jumping. The boys have been to Germany, Austria and Italy: they are back home and looking forward to launching December. After that, they will be on the road and taking their music to the masses. I cannot wait to see how the band’s career maps out- whether an album or E.P. arrives next year; what they have in mind. Seven is a song that tells you all you need to know (about December). One of the most complete and memorable songs of the band’s career: the Brighton collective are in rich form- rarely have they sounded as confident and determined. Maybe the rough time schedules and negative experiences are conducive to wonderful songs- not something you’d recommend as a recording regime- but whatever works. The guys have taken the stresses and rigours of creative/personal life and turned it into something wonderful. Go see them- in Brighton or London- if you can, because, as bands go…

THEY are filling a gap that few others can.



Follow River Becomes Ocean








TRACK REVIEW: Effie- Pressure










Pressure  is available at:

May 2016

R&B; Soul; Dance; Electro.


Salisbury/London, U.K.


IT is quite obvious this year is starting to…

get better and more positive. The first few months of 2016 were ones to forget. With the deaths of Prince and David Bowie hovering in the mind- and other notable music legends- it seemed like all was lost. Never has a single year produced so much tragedy; over such a short amount of time. As a result, there seems to be a defiance occurring: artists are coming through with some of the most stunning and immediate music you can imagine. Mainstream legends like De La Soul and The Avalanches are back. The former’s new single (Pain) suggests a future album: it is classic, old-skool De La Soul: you are taken back to their ‘80s heyday. The Avalanches- where have they been for 16 years?!- have just unveiled Frankie Sinatra. Whilst not as ‘pure’ and unfretted as their eponymous debut album- where it was a samples-only, cut-and-paste treasure trove- there is a more collaborative, less-rigid sense of discipline- a looser and less fastidious approach to their music. That said, all the weird, kooky and bananas elements are there: that inimitable and distinguished sound that could only come from Australia’s finest head-spinners. Paul Simon has just released a fantastic album in the shape of Stranger to Stranger. The 75-year-old legend has released one of his finest albums in decades.

Embracing modern production and urgency- embracing electronic and conspiring with Italian producer Clap! Clap! – it is a colourful, witty and magical L.P. A five-star, brimming-with-genius work from Simon: few would have predicted such a nuanced and splendid set (even from the Graceland maestro). In new music, this charge and quality can be found. Solo artists like Dua Lipa and Billie Marten are showing how age is no hindrance: each has produced exceptional, world-class sounds- Hotter Than Hell from Lipa; Milk & Honey is Marten’s latest. If the boys of the mainstream are stealing some of the focus: it is the girls (for my money) who are providing the most impressive and original music of the underground. My featured artist is someone who has exploded onto the scene. A beautiful, bright and immense talent: Pressure is the sound of a young woman with a long career ahead. Before I raise a new point, let me introduce Effie to you:

Effie knew from a young age what career she wanted. Age just 11 she asked her parents if she could ‘go pro’ and signed up with the E Minor Choir. Within just a few years she was being mentored by Lemar, garnering praise from the MOBOs and Radio1 Xtra.

Now in her early twenties, Effie feels fully ready to make that leap she has always known was possible. Having spent the past 18 months developing her own material while working as a featured artist on releases for FOOR (Gravity / Everything You Need / So Good /Running Away / Connection), Dots Per Inch (Sparks and Flashes), Effie has been been enjoying finding her voice alongside some of the industry’s leading lights. 

Having worked heavily with Ghetts, who invited Effie to join him for his 2014 tour, she featured as the vocalist on These Words, which is featured on his live album. Currently working with Ghetts and Rude Kid, writing and recording material for his forthcoming release. Her, a collaboration with O’D, was released earlier this year and saw Effie praised by TheFourOhFive for her ‘smooth and sultry vocals’. 

Boasting the soul of Kwabs, the innovation of FKA Twigs and the vocal dexterity of Jessie Ware, Pressure is an honest representation of Effie’s intentions as an artist. A fusion of r’n’b, soul and electro, Pressure manages to be simultaneously polished and raw. Written at a point of emotional catharsis, it is elegantly constructed and powerfully delivered.


Effie is someone who seems born to perform and make a career in music happen. Given her biography- her parents’ support from a tender age- she has consecrated her life to pursuing that dream- making sure her songs make their way to our brains. Surrounding herself with some of music’s most influential and best: it cannot be too long before (Effie) is a household name. Pressure has been picked up by the 1Extra Breakfast Show: Effie has already played the Isle of Wight Festival and Common People– how long before she is one of Glastonbury’s headliners? There is something completely natural and assured about her: the music just explodes and crackles; Effie is a natural-born artist that is completely comfortable and astonishing. With her four-track E.P. soon for release: her previous E.P., Conquer, was a bold and striking statement from one of music’s brightest young hopes. Her latest offerings have a maturity and quality that surpasses her early efforts: another musician that is growing in stature and intuition with each record. Effie is not one of those artists that let producers and teams mould her; waits for material to come in and bashes it out. There are a lot of Pop artists that have zero talent and ability: they exist to sing other people’s songs; be controlled and dictated as marketing tools.

Although Effie has a strong and loyal team behind her: she is a woman who takes charge and has astonishing control and determination. The authority and strength come through in Pressure: a sign that things are about to hot up for the London-based singer. When her E.P. is released; there will be touring demands and she will find herself the toast of the airwaves. I know she has a busy summer calendar: that is likely to become fuller and packed with every passing week. It is hard deciphering the truly great from the pretty-darned-average: there are so many new musicians coming through; it is such a challenge. There are many that have that initial burst and potential: only to succeed and whimper as time elapses. Given Effie’s ineffable drive and talent: she is someone who will go as far as she pleases; has that cache and originality to keep her music burning for years to come. I will be fascinated to see how she develops and matures as a young woman. Still in her early-20s: her music has an astonishing level-headiness and grounding: there are no juvenile moments or catty asides; just an intelligent and noble work rate that will see rewards and appreciation flood in.

Of course, there is a lot of talk about Effie’s forthcoming E.P. Fans and critics have seen how she has grown- knowing the brilliance she has already displayed- and are justifiably excited. Pressure is the finest song Effie has come up with in my view. Conquer was released a couple of years ago and proved what an artist Effie was. Addicted was the shining jewel that had that incredible, sensual voice all over it. With little compositional input- in the early stages- the song explodes into life and burst through the ceiling. Turning into a fast-moving club hit: the song documents an addictive love that is unshakable and huge. It’s Hard has a purity and romance to it. Addicted had that hooked-and-baited nature: Effie was in the middle of a whirlwind relationship; something she could not get out of- its effects were clear and evident. It’s Hard is a catchy and singalong track that reminds me of Destiny’s Child and ‘90s Soul/R&B. Groovy, sexual and confident: it is a slinky and stunning track that has some heartbreak and struggle. Her man- whether the same hero from Addicted– is making life hard and creating an internal struggle.

Biggest Regret and Oceans look at mistakes and love’s struggle; there is that same blend of immediate and textured: Effie’s powerful and stirring voice makes each song an instant classic. You cannot help but be swept up inside the song; they ensure people flock to the dance floor and get lost inside the music. Exceptional, polished production brings to life the vocal and introduces jagged electronics and huge rush. Each song has a very modern sound yet Effie reminds us of musicians past. Her love of ‘90s R&B and Soul legends is evident. Few young singers have such a layered and compelling voice. One of the things about Addicted is the lack of softer moments, perhaps. You get a quartet of heard-hitting and bracing songs: perhaps some polarity and tenderness could have come in. Being her debut E.P.: there was that need to announce her presence and define her sound. Getting into people’s mind often calls for an urgent and immediate set of songs. I know Effie has a gorgeous voice and tender soul: it would be great to see that explored on (one or two songs) that take the mood down and are a little more restrained. Perhaps that is not where her music is right now- she is in her 20s still- but perhaps her new E.P. will explore that side of things. It is a minor quibble from an E.P. that has no weak tracks: each song stands out and proves what an exceptional artist Effie is. Pressure is- in a way at least- a continuation and leap forward. We get the same production values and compositional elements found in Addicted. Also, you get those inimitable and assured vocals: exhilarating and incredible evocative. Pressure shows Effie at her most confident and compelling. Every second sees her (at the peak of) her powers: such vision and quality from a very young artist. The ensuring performances- between Addicted and Pressure– go into the song. The lyrics are sharper and deeper: they have more standout lines and maturity; the music is more rounded and scintillating- Effie has crafted one of the songs of the summer.

Pressure has already gathered a heap of praise and respect- blogs and reviewers have been keen to add their words and opinions. A strange and beautiful cocktail opens the song. A mouth-popping sound melts with a pulsing electronics and stamping beats: the resultant infusion ensures the track has a very unique and instantaneous quality. The introduction makes it mark straight away and elicits emotions, atmosphere, and drama- that builds and builds as the vocal approaches. The heroine has been experiencing sleepless night and turbulent dreams: something is on her mind and causing her a lot of weariness and disturbance. The nature of her sleeplessness seems to be a particular boy: somebody who will not evade her mind. The initial lyrics and themes have a commonness and relatability to them. A staple of music- a relationship or bond that is drug-like and troubling- you wonder whether Effie is trying to forget the boy- or caught in the magic of his spell (and happy about it). There is that early mystery and distance to begin with. You can tell how anxious and fevered (the heroine is); she is trying to make sense of things and remain focused. After the first few lines, I was wondering whether the song concerned a bygone relationship- one that keeps cropping up and causing its scars- or one that is current- and keeps Effie up at night. Embers of FKA twigs and Jessie Ware can be heard in the initial phases. Effie’s vocal has a little bit FKA-and-Ware: that soulfulness and directness; something mainstream and tangible- yet imbued with enough difference and distinction. The composition pumps and drives the vocal forward: everything is too hard to handle; you can feel the pressure mount and reach its precipice. When the chorus arrives, Effie lets her voice rise and strike: one of the most impassioned and powerful performances of her career.

New pieces of the puzzle come in and reveal new light. It seems like the bond has broken: Effie wonders whether they should get back together; if that is foolhardy. Maybe she will be pulled under (were she to take the boy back) or would it be a success? The couple was happy in the past but broke up for a reason: rekindling that relationship might not be the sagest decision. Most relationships that break up- and one party thinks about getting things going again- regrets it. Effie is too deep to step back and be objective: know things have been extinguished and broken beyond repair. Her hero has clearly made an impression- it would be interesting to know exactly who inspired the song. “Why do I always get myself in trouble?” is a question that shows honesty and bravery. Effie knows she has made some bad decisions and been naïve: perhaps going for the bad-boys and less pure types. That preference and instinct might lead her up the wrong road: her latest romance is causing intense confusion, doubt, and pain. You can feel that uncertainty and stress come right through- the production ensures each note and layer gets inside the brain. The lyrics have simplicity to them which means they can be sung by festival crowds: a song that you blare from the car and lose yourself in. Inside the easy-to-understand elements is a deeply personal song that looks for reconciliation, clarity, and answers.

Effie is not only assessing a complicated and unforgettable love: she is looking inside herself and wondering why she repeats patterns of behaviour. Maybe instinct has let her down in the past. Effie (in the past) has been reluctant to say what’s on her mind- maybe a hesitancy or demur- and that has cost her parts of the soul. Maybe the break-up is not as one-sided as you would imagine- I always assume the guy has caused it- and you get a feeling of self-assessment and maturity. Effie is not casting blame and pointing fingers: she recognises her culpability and transgressions; how timidity and silence have cost her something pure. On the other hand- the fact she is so conflicted and tormented- means things are not clear-cut and obvious- the decisions (to get things started again) is far from simple and obvious. The song gets hotter and heavier by the two-minute mark. The composition combusts and grows: the vocals layer and add to the anxiety; the percussion slams and growls; the electronics jittery and intense. In the swirl of panic, contradictions and explosion: Effie remains controlled and settled; ensuring the song does not get too heated. Her voice- whilst it possesses pain- is a calming and beautiful thing. She is not going to pressure the boy and make him stay.

Few Soul/Dance tracks have such a complexity and nuance to them. Often too simple, direct and unsophisticated: Pressure is a song that evolves and surprises at every turn. The composition is always changing and moving: making sure the emotion and lyrics come fully to life; they stop-start and calm; race and scuttle with no warning. Effie’s vocals get layered and intertwine- scoring and underlining the desperation and confusion. Your heart goes out to the heroine and what she is facing. By the song’s end, the vocal fades and the song start to dissipate. With the electronics draining away; there is that emotion and cliffhanger element. Does Effie know what she’s going to do? You wonder if the relationship issues were resolved; if they got back together and how things ended. Effie has a lot of affection in her heart: making the right decision is proving a challenge; you have such empathy and support for her plight. Supported by incredible songwriting and production: Pressure is one of the most immediate, stunning and compelling tracks of the spring. I have mentioned the likes of Jessie Ware and FKA twigs as a positive: you can hear embers of both; Effie is in no way inferior. Pressure is a track that seems destined for mainstream radio and has such mobility- able to enthrall ‘Radio 1 and 2 listeners; make its way onto ‘6 Music. Such a stunning and impressive song bodes well for the new E.P.: fans will be desperate to get her hands on it!

It has been great discovering a young talent that gets inside the head and fills you with fascination. Effie has had an interesting and varied upbringing: from such a musical family; it is only natural she would take to music so keenly. If you have not heard of Effie: be prepared to learn a lot more about the young star. Already- aside from festival dates and her own material- she has provided vocals for Ghetts’ track, These Words: laid her vocals down to (U.K. Garage act) Foor for their album, Yoshi. She is a busy lady and this is unlikely to abate. With every new track, she reveals a part of herself. Maybe heartache and love’s foibles defined her early work: she has varied her lyrics book and is embracing more concerns and issues; showing versatility and range. I heard about Pressure from its co-writer: the wonderful Olivia Stania. Mystic Sons’ music scout and P.R. genius: I can see her personality and talent come through; let’s hope there will be more work from her (as a writer) in the future. As for Effie herself, what can you say? I have been pleased with the number of solid and original young acts coming through right now. I mentioned the likes of Dua Lipa and Billie Marten: Effie is another you can add to that list; someone who could give the mainstream a real shot of energy. Aside from the legends and stalwarts of the scene: there are few that are exciting me right now; it is quite a mixed affair. Yes; there have been some great singles and albums from the last couple of months- James Blake, Radiohead; De La Soul, The Avalanches; Paul Simon and Beck- but these are from acts that have established themselves and are well-known.

What of those coming through and making their first moves? The media is quick to proclaim bands/artists as their next-big-thing, and that always troubles me: maybe the pressure and expectation get to them; perhaps the initial praise is unwarranted and impromptu? Whatever it is, there needs to be more stability and consistency in the top league. News musicians coming through- bubbling under the surface; perhaps unsigned and tender- are creating the best sounds. Effie is someone who has the promise and consistency to last a long time and inspire other artists. Pressure is perhaps an ironic title: the song flows and has an ease to it; a brilliant and accomplished performance from someone who is has a huge backing behind her. The social media numbers continue to rise and the reviews are tumbling in.

I cannot wait to hear Effie’s new E.P. and what it offers: there are likely to be a string of summer-ready, stick-in-your-head songs that burst with personality and electricity. Effie is a musician who has grown up around some vintage music: her tender ears were subjected to the finest the scene has offered. Fast-forward and artists like Jessie Ware, Beyoncé and Kwabs have made their mark: you get a little bit of each of them in her soulful and gorgeous tones. Artists like Dua Lipa and Alessia Cara are showing (new music at least) is very much the girls’ to own: they are the boldest and most scintillating musicians coming through. Maybe that is a controversial and narrow view: I humbly believe the female dollar is more precious and better value compared to the boys; there are a greater number (of great and profound) female artists emerging. In the past, we have seen the media focus on bands, boys, and their music: the girls have often had to fight to get their voice recognised; lingered in the shadows for a long time. Although Effie shows strength, determination, and a superb attitude: she is still a young woman who feels the same strains and stresses (than her peers).

Love and relationships play on her mind; the expectations of life can weigh her down: music is the way Effie expresses her pain and exorcises demons. Such an honest and open musician is to be applauded and respected. Past endeavours have worn influences on sleeve and mixed older-day legends and new gems. Her new material shows unique edge and original personality. Pressure has summer-like vibe and expressive sound: a song that is busy and rousing; there is still some concern and anxiety beneath the surface. After the shaky and sorrow-ridden start to 2016: I am delighted to see there is a change in the wind; something redemptive and hopeful coming through. Returning legends are coming up with new material; some of the finest albums of the year have just been dropped- all the signs look very good indeed. Effie is coming in- with her best material yet- at the right time. She has released Pressure at the perfect time: her E.P. will arrive and build her reputation; get more fans supporting her work. If you have not fallen in love with the young Londoner, you soon will: Effie is one of those artists that you know will succeed and become a big star; be a fixture of the mainstream before you know it. Songs like Pressure prove what a huge talent we have before us. On a cloudy day- unless it is sunny where you are- spin her latest track and…

HAVE a huge smile put on your face.



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FEATURE: The Ones to Watch (Part Two of Two…Maybe?)





The Ones to Watch


(Part Two of Two…Maybe?)



IT seems like I might need to do a third part for…

this series. Having ignored- in this part and last- some great bands, solo artists and international talent: there are still more to include. For now- and embracing some wonderful musicians and influential people- it is on with proceedings. The music market is packed full of eligible options: of all different shapes, sizes and smells. For those struggling to take it all in: I bring to you some of the artists who will define (and already are) this year.

Have a look at these beauties


Little Sparrow



I have known Katie Ware (Little Sparrow) for a long time and struggle to get her out of my mind. Having chatted with her manager, Shay Rowan: I know how busy her calendar is for this year. A series of 360-degree were shot at dock10: part of MediaCity U.K. in Salford. Those videos captivated fans and demonstrated the widescreen beauty and entrance of Little Sparrow’s music. If you have not heard Wishing Tree (Little Sparrow’s 2014 album) I suggest you do: it shows what an incredible vocalists and songwriter Ware is. Everything about her music brims with beauty, transcendence and tenderness. You get transported into the songs and helpless to resists their sweet-kiss allure and honesty. You feel- listening to the music- more open and vulnerable; safer and warm- so many different emotions and contradictions. Ware is the warm and bright smile behind Little Sparrow: a musician that has a burning passion; she will be one of our stars to watch. Recording demos. at the moment- and performing gigs around the country- it is exciting to see what’s coming next. A musician that mixes bit of Kate Bush, Eva Cassidy and Folk greats: an extraordinary talent with no limits. If you want to discover a pure musician that takes the senses away: check out the incredible sensuousness of Little Sparrow- and prepare to be taen away.





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Dylan Cartlidge



After Bi:Lingual split, I was shocked indeed: they were one of my favourite bands from the last few years. Happily, front-man Dylan Cartlidge has stepped from the fire and has risen- his Phoenix-like flight will culminate in a new record. He is putting down tracks at the moment: Strawberry Blonde’s Snip is a lo-fi gem that boasts swaggering rhymes, industrial beats and solid bass. Bi:Lingual mixes Metal and Rap; Hip-Hop and Alternative: a modern-day, British version of Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys. Who knows what Cartlidge’s solo material will contain? On the evidence of his initial recordings- head to SoundCloud– the signs all look good. He is a restless songwriter who puts his struggles and heartache onto the page. Making sense of the world and battling against forces- unforgiving people and anxieties- his songs contain wit, edginess and warmth. Throw into the mix a commanding vocal and innovative compositions: few modern artists are as confident, unique and promising. The man can mix overt anger and somnambulistic introspection; braggadocio rhythms and teasing bass notes- a special artist with a very strong voice. Few are more excited about Cartlidge’s progression than I: the Manchester man is on a quest; a primal musical assault- be prepared for what is to come.





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Elena Ramona


When Gravity arrived recently: it saw Elena Ramona return with a bang. She is a musician with such a versatility and desire: like nothing in the world matter more than music. Whether assessing love or the struggles of life: she never stands still or compromises: always pushing herself and making the songs as gripping and stunning as possible. Gravity’s Dub-Step teeth-snarl is the latest step from a fine young artist. Previous tracks have mixed soulful subterfuge and family-dedicated Pop: sassy R&B. with piano-led balladry. Her simple, easy-to-adore lyrics sit with rich and accomplished compositions: all augmented by a gorgeous, limitless voice. Another artist who will be releasing new material in the future: Gravity is a promising glimpse into Elena Ramona’s current ethos. She has been busy conducting radio interviews and performing: there is a huge demand for her music right now. Having been raised on the Greek island of Skiathos- she lives in Surrey- there is an exoticness and sunshine warmth to the music: a string of impressive gigs have seen Elena Ramona cut her teeth; get her name out there and wow crowds across the U.K. If she carries on producing stunning music- and all the signs say she will- her ambitions and dedication will be rewarded by international performances and mainstream radio play. Still in her 20s: an incredible young musician that puts her heart and soul into everything she does..



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Ellene Masri


I have a lot of love and affection for French-born Ellene Masrii: she is one of those musicians that gets inside the head and elicits something rather incredible. Her debut album, Music, was lauded by Jazz stations and gained incredible reviews. The songs not only highlighted Masri’s spine-tingling, velvet-smooth voice: the lyrics reflected personal struggles and universal themes; the music connected with the public with ease. New material is being written and will be some of the most hotly-anticipated around. Based in Las Vegas: it seems the U.S. is providing a creative and inspiring climate. Where Masri is concerned; you can hear some musical legends in her own D.N.A. I know she loves the likes of Stevie Wonder and Prince (the former is a hero of hers). Soul-baring power and seductive entice nestles inside Acoustic-Jazz tracks of the highest order. With the likes of Sir. Gant supporting her- as a musician and producer- Masri’s compositions burst with life and love; they compel you to close the eyes and let your imagination run wild. There are few musicians that hold the power to buckle the knees and drop the jaw- Masri is a staggering proposition. Performing across Las Vegas and the U.S. right now: it would be great to see her come to Europe in the coming months. I know she has a lot of fans in the U.K.: her incredible, breath-taking tracks would be the perfect soundtracks for clubs across London.


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Ellie Rose


There are certain musicians that are personified by their smile, personality and infectiousness: this is certainly the case with Ellie Rose. She is one of those musicians that connects with fans and wins you over with her undeniable warmth, beauty and intrigue. Over the last few weeks, Ellie Rose has been in L.A. – a chance to perform at The Hotel Café (a dream for the young star). Back in the U.K., the pineapple-loving youngster- a common theme of her social media posts- let’s hope the inspiration and climate has rubbed up on her. When it comes to her music: I cannot wait to see what she comes up with. Hold Me On High has just been released and is a wonderful blend of dancing strings and resounding vocals. Ellie Rose layers her vocals inside a song that looks at deceiving lovers and lies: uncertainty and tension linger beneath the cracks. A catchy and effusive sway drives the song and makes it a radio-ready smash. She is another artist- like Elena Ramona- who can own and conquer multiple genres whilst retaining her focus and core sound. Previous tracks like Finding My Feet are raw and naked songs: Ellie Rose pouring her heart out in a very personal and immersive track. Let’s hope L.A.’s sunshine and communities do not lure the London-based musician- we need her here! One of our best and more prodigious young musicians: perhaps an E.P. will be coming in the next year? See that smile and quirkiness- where does that love of pineapples come from?!- the strength and vision- Ellie Rose want to remain in music for years to come. She has definite mainstream appeal but is a lot cooler and more credible than that: she has the ability to unite undecided voters and get lots of people singing her tunes. That kind of prowess, power and potential is rare these days: let’s embrace a fine and beautiful young star-in-the-making.



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Chess Galea


This year has very-much been all about 1869: the debut album from Maltese star Chess Galea. I have been following her career and previous E.P.s- Babygirl and Tuxedo– and can see the growth and evolution. Across the L.P., Galea sounds in-control and completely entrancing. Whether laying down the law and riding a heavy beat; taking the lights down and whispering alluringly: every song sticks in the memory and highlights a consistent and incredible songwriter. As a singer, there are very few that have the same breadth, power and ability: able to tackle any theme or genre thrown in front of her. Chess Galea is a musician that can not only pen a memorable original: she is also a fine interpreter; capable of reinventing classic songs in her own style. Influenced by the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince and Christina Aguilera: you can hear aspects of her idols across her own music. She will be heading to Malta soon- to launch her album there- and has been non-stop in the U.K. Whether enjoying radio-play or performing gigs: Galea has barely let her feet touch the ground. I know how much sweat, passion and work has gone into her album: that comes through with ease and panache. A musician that is ready-made for the big leagues: you will want to keep your eyes on her very closely.



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Richard Hubbard


Richard Hubbard is a man very familiar with Chess Galea: he goes to great lengths to promote the best Maltese artist around. In these features, it has mainly been about the girls; the musicians and artists- Hubbard is a D.J. and music-lover that deserves wider appreciation and scope. His dedication to unearthing the best new music out there is to be applauded- he has led me to some wonderful artists. Part of the wonderful Channel Radio– one of the best Internet stations around- that bold and loveable personality cannot be beaten. Hubbard’s show mixes contemporary artists with well-researched brand-new acts- a show that draws in a wide demographic and range of listeners. That endless wit and natural knowledge (makes Hubbard’s shows) a must-listen weekly event. If you want to discover the hot acts and best out there- go to Hubbard’s page (link below) and hear one of Channel Radio’s flagship D.J.s do his thing. It is important to promote those that work behind the scenes to champion musicians- there are few that work as hard as Richard Hubbard. He is inspiring me to go into radio and take risks: broaden my passion and follow in his lead. There are few bigger legacies than that. Let’s hope we hear a lot more from Hubbard: many more years bringing us a range of wonderful music and witty banter. Radio is not for everyone- it is a generational, divisive thing- but few will be able to resist Hubbard’s intoxicating tones and humour. A man whose life-long desire is to put great music in the spotlight: we need more like him in the music industry.



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Channel Radio (Link to His Show):


David Durrant


Another D.J. and hero of local music: Durrant is head of Live and Unsigned at Brooklands Radio. He is another man that goes out his way to give the great young musicians their due- making sure their incredible music is heard and supported. Tune into Brooklands Radio Tuesday at 10pm to hear Durrant’s show: his ‘Under the Radar Live Sessions brings us the finest new talent on a weekly basis. Not only does Durrant strive to help musicians and promote their cause- whether it is a new video or crowd-funding campaign- he has a huge social conscience: highlighting causes and issues we need to be aware of. A human whose heart and focus is put to improving things and making us all more aware: this reflects in his never-ending loyalty to great new music. Like Hubbard; Durrant is a D.J. who takes pride in putting his patronage to exceptional young talent- covering a wide array of genres and tastes. Hearing his show, you know how much music means and how important it is to all of us. His interviews and conversations show his full focus (towards and artist): another taste-maker that has pointed me in the direction of some wonderful, life-affirming musicians. Let’s hope he has no plans for slowing down: his show is one of the reasons I keep reviewing; I tune-in in the hope of hearing the most compelling music of the moment- I am not often disappointed. Durrant’s official site- see link below- puts artists in the spotlight and helps them reach their potential. An altruistic and endeavouring; multidiscipline talent that lives and breathes music.

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Brooklands Radio:





The fate of the small music venue is a rather uncertain one. By the week; legendary, established places are closing down: leaving the music fan infuriated and anxious. Given the state of the economy- with pubs closing too- where does one go for great live music? Whilst the larger cities are seeing some of this tragedy: the bigger venues are continuing to grow and flourish. Whether it is the proliferation of free music; the larger venues stealing focus- it is good to see bedrock like Boileroom continuing to thrive. Whilst its future has not always been secured: the way the Surrey venues caters to the community is commendable; creating arts and crafts events; social discussions and a range of special-themed nights- making sure nobody is overlooked. Modern day heroes like Wolf Alice have played Boileroom: in fact; some of the music world’s most influential and promising acts have taken to the Boileroom stage. With an inaugural summer festival forthcoming- Always the Sun Festival– it gives a chance for the venue to launch a bespoke festival: one that brings together terrific acts and family-friendly ethos. There is not a lot for young, exciting people in Guildford- where Boileroom is based; it is a town readymade for families and the slightly less ‘exciting’ brand of person- so Boileroom acts as an unusual (but vastly necessary) aberration- one that makes the town fashionable and huge appealing. Throughout this year, many great musicians will pass through the doors: make sure you get down and experience this charming venue in all its glory.



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Hoxton Radio


The likes of B.B.C. 6 Music have stoked a passion for radio: one that has been missing for many years. With so few decent, local stations out there- particularly where I live- London is seeing a lot of cutting-edge, relevant options spring up. If you want to get away from the stuffy and ‘safe’ sounds of mainstream stations: Hoxton Radio is a great place to go. The presenters have a genuine passion for music and warm, engaging personalities- making sure they reach every listener without fail. The music draws together classics and older sounds: to the best and boldest songs from the underground. Based in the ubercool, swinging east of London: it is a station that sets to influence Londoners across “habitual pop culture pursuits”. Hoxton Radio has a huge online follows and actively engagers with followers: few radio stations offer such a close relationship. We need more young people going into radio: keeping the medium alive and bringing wonderful music to the masses. Hoxton Radio’s presenters will go onto bigger things: their current family has a loyalty and bond to the station; that love and devotion comes through in every show. If you are bored of the current crop of radio stations- the inane presenters and string of nauseating adverts- I can recommend a rather fine alternative.



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Them & Us


Ami Carmine and Lee Michael are the duo behind Them & Us. With such a huge connection and understanding: the music of thw London Electronic/Synth-Pop is some of the most dramatic and layered out there. Them & Us is like a musical equivalent of Game of Thrones. You get huge, biblical scenes: adventure, drama and fire; beauty, mysticism and sexuality. The band are playing Leicester tonight: they will be performing across London, Shropshire and Luton throughout June- a chance for new faces to experiments the strange, wonderful magic. Carmine’s vocals match beauty and sweetness with something empathic, powerful and operatic- bringing light and electricity to every song. Michel’s exceptional production and musical contribution gives richness, texture and fascination to the music- few acts are as urgent and memorable as Them & Us. There is- thankfully for everyone- no end in sight for the duo: their current music is among the best of their career. Across social media, there have been studio-based photos surfacing: it suggests there might new music coming; thousands of fans will rejoice is salivation and anticipation. Their live performances are noted for epic production and wonderful visuals: if you want a wonderful treat; go catch these guys in the flesh. Critics have been quick to add their plaudits and opinions. Comparisons to Lana Del Rey and Nero; the duo’s ability to fuse the rough and smooth; the combination of rave and tragedy- everyone has their own opinion.



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Regularly readers of this blog will understand my fascination/obsession with Yorkshire-based duo, Issimo. Hailing from Bradford- but playing all around the county- the charming twosome consists of Abi Uttley and Marc Otway. Not only is there is a wonderful, brother-sister bond between the two: their combined talents make Issimo one of the most promising acts in Britain. Uttley’s gorgeous voice has such range and ability: able to be soulful and sky-scraping; perfectly authoritative when tender, heartfelt and seductive. Otway is an exceptional musician and writer that can pen a witty two-hander or broken-hearted ballad: few songwriters have that capability and talent. Hearing them together and you can feel that relationship and understanding. Whether rousing and upbeat; introspective and romantic: Issimo put their own stamp on proceedings; they have few equals and no sound-alikes. Individuality and talent are two commodities lacking from a lot of acts- not the case from the Yorkshire duo. The guys deserve mainstream consideration and national airplay. Their music has a universal quality that could see them entrance and own Europe and North America. If you love music honest, original and surprising: get involved with Issimo and investigate their back catalogue. So many gems and revelations are waiting to be discovered: songs that put a smile on the face and get the body moving. Walking on the Sky is the forthcoming E.P. from Otway and Uttley: that will be one of the hottest releases of the year. Given the reception The Coldest Queen- their latest E.P. – received; there is no stopping this juggernaut of song.



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Like Issimo: Gypsyfingers is another duo that has been in my mind for years now. Luke Oldfield and Victoria Coghlan are an extraordinary act that have toured around the world. Cinematic-Folk-cum-Rock is a combination hard to pull off: this London duo manages to take the breath and silence the most stonehearted of crowds. Coghlan’s gorgeous voice can go from bird-like and temptress to Rap-delivery and cutting. Oldfield’s warm tones and exceptional guitar work is the perfect drive Gypsyfingers’ songs demands. The band have been playing London recently- having spent a time playing around Europe- but the truth is, the guys will have to abandon the idea of home soon- they will get requests around the globe very soon. Circus Life- their debut album- demonstrated what strong and variegated songwriters Coghlan and Oldfield are. The duo’s past is a fascinating one: Oldfield has a famous father (one guess who it is) whilst Coghlan spent time in Paris as a youngster- living there, she embraced the underground sounds of Dance, Rap and Gipsy. Together, they are one of the tightest and most intoxicating acts you can imagine. The mark of a great band/musician is one that gets you thinking about the world and compelled to pick up a pen. When listening to Circus Life– and later songs from the duo- I have found my imagination running wild; thoughts spiraling- their music brings emotions and imagination to the surface; so many ideas and scenes. For that very reason: I will wait with baited breath to see what the duo come up with next. If Circus Life is anything to go by: their next moves will be truly spectacular.



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Gemma Louise Doyle


There are not many artists that have the intelligence and abilities of Gemma Louise Doyle. A musician that has covered a range of artists with supreme confidence and stunning intuition: her voice is something that will stick in the mind for a long time. Her 4-octave range means nothing is off limits. Whether tackling an Opera number or modern-day Pop track: she can make it sound completely new, essential and wondrous. Full of charm, comedy and wit- she speaks six languages, too- Doyle is a natural performer with so many strings to her bow. Not only does the London-based heroine blow you away with her music: her attitude to life and positive outlook has helped and comforted many out there. No matter what mood you are in; how low you are feeling: Gemma Louise Doyle can help; she can make you feel more positive- give you a fresh perspective on life. A humanitarian and philosophical leader: a stunning entertainer and beautiful soul- somebody that deserves happiness and success. That success should not be far away. The young musician’s feet do not get a chance to rest and relax. Currently in Las Vegas: she has been performing around the U.S. and U.K. As part of International Entertainment- a duo alongside vocalists/pianist/violinist Corey- there is the promise of new music, soon. I, for one, cannot wait to hear more. The musical talent alone- the two have a mastery of a range of instruments- is enough to get the mouth watering. Add some incredible, soul-shaking vocals: who knows what is in store for the coming weeks and months.



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Braver than Fiction


Braver than Fiction’s route has been one beset with hazards and obstacles. Factoring out- which would be mighty hard- frontwoman Mel Lampro’s battle with cancer: the guys have worked hard to make a name for themselves. The Sheffield five-piece are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support – and taking their music as far as they can. The band are rehearsing and keeping busy: making sure they take a rest here and there! I have reviewed their music before and can attest at how wonderful and unforgettable they are. The tight-knit performances and tremendous vocals are backed with intriguing songs and combination of old-and-new sounds. Braver than Fiction have a love for the finer, bygone days; they have a modern aesthete and discipline: combined, this yields some of the deepest, most fascinating music across the country. Their live performances have enthralled critics- blown roofs off and awed audiences- and that is set to continue. Whilst Lampro’s cancer fight has put creative processes on the back-burner: new material is mooted; the band are reconvening and preparing a fresh assault. I am fully behind the band and know how hard they work; what they have endured and what they want to achieve- anything is possible for them. I am not sure whether an E.P. or L.P. is in their minds: whatever they produce is sure to be filled their staple ingredients of passion, emotion and quality; songs that demonstrate a sharp pen and incredible chemistry. It is that rock-solid bond and inter-band love that makes the Yorkshire clan a fine-fettled and unbreakable army. If you have not enlisted into the Braver than Fiction ranks: get over to their pages and discover one of most treasured groups.


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Defeat the Band


A rare U.S. inclusion- I have been remiss embracing American acts, here- the Anthony Winkely-led band bring you a blend of Punk. Showtunes and Pop. It is the rage, anger and power that intrigues me most. Something Unheard Of– their recent album- showed how talented the boys are. Winkley’s electric and raw vocals are augmented by Michael Story’s slick and snake-like bass; James Ringstrom’s powerful and avalanching percussion. So much noise and music is created by the three-piece. The Arizona boys sure know how to rock! I would love to see them come to the U.K. and exhilarate the crowds here. Country-mates like The Vim Dicta- featured in the previous part- have already carved-out a foothold and fan-base here- the Defeat the Band fellas are on a surge right now. There are a tonne of bands playing right now: each jostling for position and leverage; the chance to get under the radar of music’s influencers and media. It can’t be too long until Tucson’s finest are clambering onto the main stages of the biggest festivals. Not only can they get small rooms and clubs bouncing- in a sweat-filled, hyperactive orgy- but they can get huge arenas incapacitated and awed. Their songwriting tackles love and heartaches; the realities of life and the negatives we all face- with some unique slants and takes thrown in.




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A&E was recently released and proved what a proposition FloodHounds are. Another terrific Sheffield band- Steel City has plenty of them- the three-piece have a glorious, guitar-heavy sound- one that has impressed critics around the country. Their D.N.A. encompasses American Blues-Rock bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys; some Royal Blood and Drench- a drizzling of Band of Skulls. If you are inclined to any of these bands/this type of music; then why not dig the epic sounds of FloodHounds? Ther kinship and connection of the guys- Jack Flynn, Rhys Owen and Lauren Greaves- goes into their hook-driven and crowd-pleasing tracks. Competition will be fierce and endless- new bands wanting to get their market-share- but this trio are not going to surrender without a fight. I know they have their local crowds hooked and on-board- they have much more to them than home-town pride and ambition. In a city that has produced Pulp and Artic Monkeys: we could well see these chaps ascending the rigmarole of modern music to claim their sceptre and throne- making their way onto the festival circuit. A&E is still garnering views and reviews: that impetus and momentum must give the band food for thought. They can take time to plan their next moves and think about things- whether an album or single will come next. Whatever they choose, eyes will be upon them.



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Gold Phoenix


The Heavy-Rock band are boys to be reckoned with. I have been following Jamie Tipson- their lead- under his solo moniker, Second Hand Poet. Where the music of S.H.P. is lush, reflective and bedroom-made: the hard and swaggering sounds infuse raw Blues and riotous Rock- songs that explode from the speaker and causes the listener to sway in a hypnotic groove. Songs like Mortal Man build from curious, lo-fi beginnings: growing in intensity, it becomes a huge and unadulterated beast. Whilst the boys are touring through June and July- taking in Bristol and Dorset- they have been a little quite on the music-making front. That will all be allayed and rectified. A new music video is being made and it will mark a fresh assault from the southern gentlemen: a band that has no intention of letting the dust settle; they want to stay in the public mindset and keep their fans happy. Gaining effusive praise- their live performances have been lauded and celebrated- there is a lot of excitement. Whether performing locally- they have played Boileroom and The Stoke’ in Guildford- or somewhere more exotic and busier- the boys are capable of turning every crowd into fans. Those claiming Rock is dead- or on its last leg- would do good to behold a band like Gold Phoenix and rethink their assessment. Inspired by the legends of U.S. Blues-Rock and ‘70s Progressive-Rock: you get a lethal concoction of guitar histrionics; pulsating drive and anthemic lustre.




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You could never accuse the Miss Defiant girls of being boring or colourless. Their styles, music and output explodes with vibrancy and brightness. New single Ear Candy (released today) sees them (in the video) bedecked in neon- face paint and neon headbands- dancing with abandon. The song is a summer-ready smash that shows the duo at their peak. I have been impressed by how much MissDefiant have grown and developed: they have evolved from their earliest days and show a huge maturity, skill and confidence. A much-loved and respected act from London: they are pulling in big crowds and commanding love-filled reviews. Their three-track single 133T proves what consistent performers-songwriters they are. Backed by incredible producers and team: Jordan Cather and Emily Rose Adams are an eye-catching, thought-grabbing two-piece that bring joy, light and energy to your life. I long for the day the girls release an L.P. Their back catalogue has shown a lot of depth and diversity: stripped-back moments and explosive, thought-provoking moments. Songs (alternately) investigate the cheapness of party culture and its shallowness; the no-good guys that we are all familiar with- they go a lot deeper than other acts. The next year will see them continue to play and release new songs; gain fresh support and climb the ranks. Stations and venues have already recognised their insatiable appeal and staggering sounds: that patronage and backing will grow larger and more rapturous.




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Dana McKeon


Gorgeous Maltese musician Dana McKeon is a very rare talent indeed. An accomplished Beatbox performer: she combines Electronic and Pop sounds together to come up with (some of the most) wonderful music you will hear. On Thursday, McKeon will play O2 Academy, Islington– where she performed in her first U.K. Beatbox competition- and that will be a welcome return. Albums like Halycon have built McKeon’s stock and revealed a very special talent. She continues to experiment and push her music: find her limits and discover new layers and possibilities. A determined and dedicated artist who never stops trying to be better and more astonishing: a respectful attitude and impressive intensity that goes into her songs. Each number brings you closer to her soul: what drives a brave, peerless and fascinating young woman. McKeon has a lot of fans in Malta- she has recently been there to perform- and has a deep connection with the island. D.J.s like Richard Hubbard have taken time to spin her music: stations around London and the U.K. are keen to expound the virtues of McKeon.



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Sir Gant and the Invisible Force


Sir Gant and his Invisible Force are a musical outfit that have performed with Ellene Masri- one of my favourite humans. Based out of Chicago: that smooth blend of Soul, R&B and Jazz is enough to send you somewhere very special, indeed. The Journey- the latest album from Sir Gant and the Invisible Force- shows what a huge talent and producer (Gant is). Having worked with some of music’s top names: that authority, experience and leadership gives the tracks huge nuance, immediacy and passion. The album looks at life and love’s struggles; the need for positive and discover of the self: all portrayed through a prism of liquid-cool groove; chocolate-silky vocals and luxurious instrumentation- layers of gorgeous production and an appetising balance of spice and sweet. Sir Gant is a musician I respect hugely. His legacy and influence cannot be ignored or overlooked. His arrangement and production of Anita Baker’s L.P. Rapture gathered 2 Grammys– the album sold over 8 million copies. If that is not enough to peak your interest, then listen to the music: the songs that get into the soul and swim around the brain.




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Beautifully dark and orchestral: NYNA’s music is once heard; not easily forgotten. An accessible and beautiful voice is propelled by hard beats and scorpion-bite electronics; fantastic production and exceptional addictiveness. Catchy choruses and huge anthemics make her music some of the finest out there. The London-based star is busy touring and getting out to the public. The reception and appreciation leveled her way has been immense. Recent tracks like Bridges have gained huge kudos and provide an insight into her current ambitions. Whether will see more tracks this year remains to be seen- photos of studio-born production and home-made writing give us all something to hope for.  NYNA exudes such warmth and appeal: she is a natural star and somebody you hope goes all the way. She has a solid (and expanding) core of fans: with every release that number goes up; she is making huge strides. There is no stopping the young musician: she is one of those people that could easily become a household fixture in years to come. She has something about her and a great attitude to music: always putting the work in to achieving something remarkable. Those who love their music with depth, repeatability and all the necessary components- the emotion, force and soul; every facet absolutely striking- then you will not go far wrong with NYNA.



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If you are hard-pressed to come up with musicians from Israel: ADI is a pretty good place to start. The stunning young musician is one of the finest (and most innovative) musicians around. It is hard to categorise and define her music- which is why she doesn’t- except to say it is a mixture of Electronic and Future Beats. In her latest track- the video for Pink Pillz has just been released- she tackles depression and its effects. Defining a new stage of her career- where the music is more open and honest- it is impossible not to be drawn into the track- one of the rawest and most relevant she has produced to date. ADI is tired of hiding and ignoring issues like mental health: she is an advocate that pushes it to the forefront and makes people take notice. Pink Pillz is a typically assured and layered track: one that packs a confident, memorable vocal and dizzying compositional strands- messages that we should all take heart and direction from. I have been following ADI since her earliest days: the E.P.s and mixtapes; the various evolutions and changes she has undergone. What remains is that passion for music and unimpeachable quality and originality. Every track (from ADI) has a bold stamp and lingers in the mind- once heard; it is impossible to forget. ADI’s fan numbers continue to grow: she is a musician that easily wins hearts and has a huge army behind her. Whether Pink Pillz (the track has been available for w while; its video is brand-new) marks a new phase- an E.P. or album is out- I am not sure- make sure you keep your eyes peeled.



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This Modern Hope


This London project derives from musician Rob Payne. Having known him in The Bedroom Hour days- a fantastic band who split, very sadly- I can attest at his songwriting and vocal skills. This Modern Hope offer cinematic compositions and fresh tracks: there is that effortless contrast of vintage and new; lush and intimate; widescreen and deeply personal. If you listen to a song from This Modern Hope- and are not affected and entranced- you might need your pulse taken. Payne’s pure and honest voice- it reminds me of Guy Garvey to an extent- has no cynicism or ego- it is one of the most bare-naked and wonderful sounds you can imagine. Ship on the Ocean is the latest track and has all the key traits you would hope for: drama and building momentum; music that gets into the soul and pricks the ears; oodles of grace and panache. I hope Payne gets back into the studio and has his mind set on a new record. I would love to see an album from This Modern Hope: a compendium that shows just how vital (Payne is). Previous tracks like The Abyss have been met with fevered respect: it is a song that brings emotions and truth from the listener; wonderfully immersive and intense. With the likes of James Blake and Radiohead ensuring Electronic music- with dreaminess and intelligence- remains in the public forefront- there is a great opportunity for This Modern Hope to gain foothold and residual fandom. It cannot be long before Payne’s new outfit go beyond the U.K.: take the music across the seas and reach an international audience.



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The Condors


Jessica Greenfield and Gavin Condor are a soon-to-be-married musical duo that has an incredible bond and connection. Their music matches Greenfield and Condor’s stunning vocals- both different; they fit perfectly- and their down-to-Earth and everyday songs. Lyrics that look at common themes- issues and stories we all encounter- it is small wonder (the duo) have amassed a loyal and fascinated following. Fusing classic Pop and Soul; R&B-Gospel and Alternative: so many different colours, emotions and genres: few other acts offer so much range and versatility. Whatever they are tackling- thematically and sonically- you are always left awed and impressed. The likes of Dusty Springfield, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke are idols of The Condors. You get a little of each at various moments: the legends of music come through in this modern and amazing duo. The duo are celebrated and lauded in London- where they are based- but have the potential to expand and build their itinerary. Another act I can see traveling abroad and playing in various countries- musical that transcends boundaries and translates effortlessly. Given their music upbringing- the fantastic artists they embraced- and long-lasting relationship- quality, tightness and passion defines The Condors’ music. I would speculate the future for Gavin and Jessica: it seems like they are so busy; future songs might have to take a back seat. Knowing how dedicated and committed to music they are: it won’ be too long until a fresh record is out; we see more from the London-based twosome. Every year, they increase their talent and confident: they are coming into their own as performers and writers. If you have not heard of The Condors yet: it will not be too long before they are a common fixture.



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The Jackobins


You might have noticed the lack of bands in this feature- and the previous part. I have seen a lot of bands touted as heroes of the future- few of them actually register with me. With The Jackobins, you are assured quality, cool and originality. The Liverpool-based act has just played Sound City and are on a promising trajectory right now. Tracks like One More Chance drip with edgy, Punk-influenced vocals and a tight-knit band performance- once where each player gets a chance to shine. The band has a very modern dynamic. They could easily fit into the playlist of B.B.C. 6 Music– and have been played by Tom Robinson- and are perfectly suited to the current music scene. With embers of The 1975, The Libertines and Catfish and the Bottlemen- a band they recently performed alongside at Sound City- few will be able to ignore the juggernaut that is The Jackobins. Front-man Dominic Bassnett exudes film-hero good looks and a moody rebelliousness: a Rock star-cum-pin-up that backs his looks with charm, exceptional vocals and leadership. The boys of The Jackobins have been performing across the north and exhilarating crowds wherever they go. I would like to see the chaps come down to London- they seem readymade for the bars and clubs here- and get the audiences jumping down south. The guys have a busy diary the next few months- gigging in Ireland and the Tramlines Festival to name two- and will hardly have much time to relax. It is befitting of their music and ability- they should have such demand- and this is only likely to increase.



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Since their birth four years ago- all sweaty, screaming and hopeful- the Yorkshire band have gone from bedroom heroes to mainstream-kings-in-the-waiting. Their fan-base has blossomed due to a number of reasons. They are a stunning and exceptional live band: always offering theatrics, drama and exceptional performances. Having supported the likes of Enter Shikari: how long before these legends are making their way to the country’s most-prestigious festivals? They are not merely another Yorkshire band: they are primed for the big stages and top-of-the-league stadiums. Their Psych-Pop-Grunge concoctions are the envy of lesser bands: all their tracks possess a strange magic; something elemental and emotional- motivating the soul and body to get involved. The boys are going to be conquering the U.K. throughout the spring. They have important dates and towns to defile- honestly; they are all lovely, early-night-sleep kind of folk- and offer peace and love- not to mention bitchin’ songs that have few equals. If you like your basslines groovy, silky and commanding; charging, bouncing and kinetic- you will not be disappointed. Like your percussion heavy, intense and primal; kicking, detailed and nuanced? If you fancy intense and primeval vocals; ripping, snarling guitars; tunes that are anthemic and unforgettable- the Yorkshire clan are your guys! There is so much to recommend about Allusondrugs: the best thing you can do is check out their website and social media output; get involved with the music and become a life-long fan. The guys have infectious personalities and a Grunge-cum-Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit- genuine articles that sound like a ‘90s band. I could have seen them performing during the heyday of Grunge: sharing the stage with Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Nirvana- although Allusondrugs’ front-man- his resemblance to Kurt Cobain- would have been something from The Twilight Zone!



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Sarah Collins


We stay in Yorkshire: to the music of Sarah Collins. Here is an artist who can take a song and make it her own- her cover versions are the stuff of legends. With a love of Soul, Funk and Blues; Pop, Rock and Reggae: nothing is off limits for the young singer. Subscribe to her YouTube page- and fall for a young woman who takes the breath away. Collins has overcome a brain tumour- something that almost took her life- and managed to not only beat it- she is producing some of the best music of her life. Such a life-altering occurrence would shake most of us: Collins has shown immense bravery and is consecrating her life to music; bringing her gorgeous voice to the masses. Sarah Collins and Keep the Faith is her band: a chance for people to see her live; experience the wonder and stunning performances. Singing means everything to Collins: nothing else will do! That passion and meaning goes into every live performance and cover version. Whether this love will funnel into a record or E.P.: I am fascinated to see how Collins will develop as the year ticks on. So far, her fans and followers have given her strength and focus: the social media numbers are meteoric; they continue to climb. She is a star that has humility and bravery; she has overcome struggles and illness and is surely one of our future mainstream artists. With each passing week, we get a new Sarah Collins cover version: an amazing version of an old favourite; that soulful, sky-scarping voice taking flight. Just seeing her smile is all you need to know: how deep the music runs; how much this all means. So many artists seem vague and shallow; they do not grab you and win you over: Sarah Collins is someone who lets you into her heart and soul.



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The Dutch Guy


A bastion of new music promotion and champion of the best underground stars: The Dutch Guy has led me to some of my review subjects. I always look to him for some of the greatest new music around. He has his ear to the ground and his groove-o-meter constantly charged. An exceptional writer, D.J. and journalist: his work has such charm, personality and humour. He is always willing to go the extra mile for artists: push their songs out there and give his full support. In turn, they are motivated and provided extra strength- making bigger, better music; growing in confidence and ambition. If you visit his website (below) you will discover reviews, tips and features: his vlog and links; all the information you need for Holland’s finest music journalist. The musicians are the ones who get all the credit- when it comes to music itself- and the D.J.s/journalists often do not get the credit they deserve. If the mainstream doesn’t have the balls to promote an act: our man sure as sure will! The Dutch Guy dedicates his time to sniffing out the most unique and special musicians on the block. That kind of dedication and selflessness is to be applauded. What next for his music empire? Whilst continuing to promulgate and lend patronage to the great unsung: you feel there is a lot more coming for The Dutch Guy. The D.J./radio bug is always in him- maybe he will return one day? Whatever is in his mind, you can guarantee a steady stream of terrific music and effusive posts. The guy always has a smile and a laid-back attitude: a groovy dude that knows his stuff. The influence he has had on me- all the acts I have nicked from him! – cannot be understated. That effect and influence extends to musicians and bloggers around the world: few have his way for words and experience; the way he helps and assists musicians- a noble chap that is one of the under-the-radar influencers. Most of us get stuck in ruts and all pretty unambitious with musical selections. You will not go far wrong keeping your ears trained on The Dutch Guy: his recommendations are constantly fascinating and on-the-money!



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FiFi Rong


Her hybrids of Electronica are as compelling and colourful as her fashion: one look at FiFi Rong and your mind and senses start to melt. She is eye-catching and vivid- someone who will not get out of your mind- and that extends to her music. Forbidden Desire is her recently-released E.P. and her most accomplished, complete work to date. The songs look at forbidden love and strange desires: lovers who have scarred and scorned her; hurt and pain are laid bare. In lesser hands, that might sound quite heavy and hard to digest. Rong’s delicate and beautiful vocal delivery mixes with multi-dimensional compositions that evoke so many emotions and textures. It may sound like pretention- me not choosing my words sagely- but you cannot underestimate the strength and evocations of the music. One listen and you are stunned and hooked; future investigations reveal new light and beauty. Across the last few weeks; Rong has been conducting interviews- including Hoxton Radio– and performing across the capital. She has built a solid reputation and has proved to be one of the U.K.’s most special and distinct musicians. Rong is a hugely prolific artist always making moves and creating new music: she gets better and more assured with each release. Forbidden Desire is the best thing she has produced: you feel there will be even better records down the lines. Whether inspired by love and its capriciousness; the struggles and mysteries of life; something more spiritual and indirect: it is always adapted into spellbinding, soul-enriching music.



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The Australian-based, German-based musician is not one to stand still and relax. Always traveling the world- recently having visited Pisa- Kirbanu takes her music, joy and positivity across the globe- sending travelogues and videos to her fans. Her ethos and look on life is wonderful: always full of inspiring quotes and uplifting messages. In turn, the love her fans give feeds into some of the most direct and emotional music about. Drifting (her album) is awash with beautiful, reflective songs. Not just confined to looking at relations and inner-visions: the songs provide positivity, hopefulness and wonderful scenes. As Kirbanu states: “Drifting is a journey through emotions, space and music. It is reflective in its nature, posing questions about uncertainty and purpose. The eight tracks on the album each carry their own personal identity and stand alone, beside each other. United in the genre of folk/pop some of the album songs are powerful & upbeat, with tribal drums, electric soundscapes and intense vocals”. Let’s hope Kirbanu comes to the U.K. soon and pays us a visit. In London, it would be wonderful to see her perform and bring smiles to the capital critters: hungry Londoners would eat-up her sensational tracks. Those in Scotland and the north would take her to heart: no area is immune to the charm and immaculate beauty. Right now, Kirbanu is travelling Europe and keeping her fans updated- her frequent videos and statuses give us a unique glimpse into the life of a modern musician. That angelic and heavenly voice wraps around songs that glisten, shine and enthrall. It is near-impossible condensing Kirbanu’s potency and personality into words- as you can see here- so it is best you get busy and take my word for it- let her music and smile buckle the knees.




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It only takes a few seconds of Lanre’s voice before you are a stone-cold devotee. Based out of London: her mixture of Acoustic-Soul and African-Folk unifies her heritage and background with something universal and utilitarian. Human was introduced a few days ago and highlights the beauty, bliss and depth of our heroine. The Human E.P. boasts incredible guitars work and stunning moments. A four-track record- Human, Dreams; My Soul, Fire– it is an economic and focused collection.  It is clear Lanre has a very bright future ahead. When Human is fully embraced and reviewed: masses of new fans will flock in and get behind one of our most promising new musicians. The mainstream has so many everyday Pop stars and musicians that all sound the same. There are very few idols that separate from te crowd and have any sense of distinction and longevity. We need more musicians like Lanre and what she has to offer. Radio stations are turning onto her music and keen to play her music: listeners are responding and the excitement levels are building. It is only a matter of time- like a few musicians I have mentioned here- before the rewards come and huge success follows. Right now, Lanre is on the promotional circuit: ensuring Human is given a good airing and embraced by as many people as possible. After that, she will be touring and bringing her incredible voice to new crowds. After the dust if this year settles, one wonders whether a new E.P. will be dropped. Such is the strength of her music: you always want more; look ahead to see just how many other (Lanre songs) there will be. I am reviewing her very soon- the track, Human– and cannot wait to add my appreciation and support. She is a very rare artist and one that deserves a lot of happiness and adulation.




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Jasmine Rodgers


The daughter of Free legend Paul Rodgers: there is a lot of expectation on the shoulders of Jasmine Rodgers. Anyone expecting (her to sound like) her dad might be in for a shock. Splicing Electro., Folk and Rock together: her eponymous E.P. is one of the most arresting efforts I have heard for a long time. Starting out in the band Boa from the age of 16: the band released two albums in Japan and the U.S. Rodgers’ mother is a Japanese poet; her dad a music legend: that special and unbeatable D.N.A. feeds directly into her own music. Poetic and picturesque lyrics- that take you into wonderful realms- gets a solid and commanding musical backing- made perfect with a soul-infused, emotional voice. Idols like Ella Fitzgerald, Radiohead and Bjork- the kind of artists she listened to as a child- can be detected in various moments. In truth, there are few as original as Jasmine Rodgers. She is the antithesis of modern Pop music: somebody that owes a debt to nobody; a strong and stand-alone musician that wants to bring her songs to the entire world. I have listened to interviews with Rodgers and she comes across as someone filled with wit, warmth and intelligence. She certainly knows her music and you just melt listening to her: one of those voices that can silence people; you just concentrate on her words and how she talks. The music is no-less knee-buckling and sublime. Rodgers has enjoyed a prosperous and busy year to date: that level of demand is going to increase. Icicles remains one of the best new tracks of the year: a gorgeous musical example from one of Britain’s most fascinating and special talents.



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Nina Schofield


This feature is quite girl-heavy: not really a shock when you consider the amount of wonderful female artists around. There have been accusations of imbalance and sexism in the industry: there can be a tendency to promote men over women; focusing heavily on all-male bands (as opposed to solo artists). Maybe there is some truth in this assessment: when it comes to the underground artists; it is the girls that are making the biggest impressions. Nina Schofield has been performing for a number of years. Her gigs have taken her from festivals to schools; local events and huge-capacity events- someone who is comfortable and effortless wherever she goes. After securing a record deal recently- finally getting backing and acclaim she deserves- there is new confidence and direction in Schofield’s mind. Her latest song, Imaginary Love, has pummeling beats and a sense of catchiness. Schofield’s voice is bold, in-control and on fire: she rides the percussion and lays down the law. The song was inspired by the (unwanted) affections of a sociopath: someone who hassled her and caused scars. This traumatic and unwelcomed part of her life has inspired a song that has Pop accessibility and Dance/Electro. cutting-edge- topped with Schofield’s passionate vocal. The single Restart has caught the ear with reviewers and fans: another assured and stunning cut from our heroine. Shapes (album) is out this summer and will see Schofield embrace an edgier and more mature sound: she has grown in confidence; her music has evolves and flourished. I adore her early releases: her current material is perhaps her best work yet. A bright, beautiful and incredibly talent young star: someone I am sure will be a mainstream fixture; a radio-ready artist that easily wins the heart. Recently she’s performed at The Great Escape and has also been touring with The Sons of Pitches, the winners of B.B.C. T.V.’s Naked Choir contest, playing in session at many B.B.C. local and commercial stations along the way. She’s written and worked with several acclaimed dance production teams as featured vocalist on tracks from Aurosonic and Frainbreeze plus Vintage & Morelli amongst others.




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Laura Saggers


Laura Saggers might have begun life in England- having lived in Buckinghamshire for a while- but is based in L.A. The sunshine, varied cultures; cosmopolitanism and vibrancy has pushed Saggers as a musician. Her infectious zeal and personality will win you over; the music will drop the jaw- a rare artist that is effortless when covering songs; spellbinding when performing her own tracks. From Fleetwood Mac to Hall and Oates: Saggers has a wide range of favourite songs; the tracks she tackles are provided with new life and revelation. The U.S.-based musician is not merely a covers artist: she is one of the most impressive and consistent songwriters I have encountered in a long time. Summer Fling– released last year- recounts a rather hazy and wild romance- a whirlwind bond that certain put a hop in her step. Those longing for more material from Saggers will not have to wait too long: her album is recorded and will be released very shortly. Having played to 20,000 people- when part of an ‘80s cover band- Saggers is used to big crowds and adulation- that is something she will have to get used to it. After years of discovery and hard work: she is finally making it and commanding the love and respect she dreamt of. A classically-trained pianist- I have seen videos of her playing that have left me dumb and speechless- Saggers is a real musician that can pretty much do anything. It is exciting to think what she can do and how far she can go: her fans are fully behind her and excited to see what comes next. When her album is released it will give the world a chance to discover a truly wonderful human in her element. Will there be a mix of covers and originals? Will her piano-playing genius be prominent? Will there be a leaning to summer-ready Pop numbers? Whatever form (the album takes) will be one of 2016’s biggest releases- guaranteed to get the U.S. and U.K. talking- the rest of the world for that matter.




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