TRACK REVIEW: Racing Glaciers- Patient Man



Racing Glaciers



Patient Man




Patient Man is available at:

13th July 2016



Macclesfield, U.K.

The album Caught in the Strange can be pre-ordered here:

August 5th 2016


EVERY time a new band arrives to my ears…

it allows me the chance to discover a new part of the world- where the act hail from and the local artists that inspire them. A lot of my time has been focused on London lately. My featured act (who I shall come to soon) is an arresting band that is setting themselves up to become one of the scene’s most intriguing forces. Before then, I wanted to look at musicians in the North West of England; the importance of momentum and people sharing music; Alternative-Rock and its finest players. Let’s consider the North West of England that has, in the past few decades, been overthrown by London (and other areas) when it comes to music hegemony. In the ‘60s, the likes of The Beatles made Liverpool synonymous: Manchester enjoyed an explosion throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. Manchester is still creating a lot of brilliant acts but, to my ears, London is leading the charge for new music. I love discovering a stunning band; my mind has been obsessed with solo artists lately so it is good to refocus my attentions. The North West has shared quite a few treasures across the decades. From Oasis and The Beatles to The Hollies and Echo & the Bunnymen- the list goes on and on. I have been thinking about the reasons why North West England has so many great bands. Perhaps The Beatles and The Hollies started the ball rolling. So many subsequent bands were inspired by them; the legacy and influence hit hard and it has created a sort of chain reaction. What I find, that differs from London, is the community and openness of the people. There is such a warm and supportive vibe (not from everyone) that makes cities like Liverpool and Manchester great places to create music. The rise and proliferation of venues and local radio stations have made it easier and more accessible for young bands. It is the heritage and history that still creates the biggest impact.

Whereas The Beatles inspired Oasis; they have motivated a generation of fresh acts to get together and make music. The same is true of The Smiths and The Stone Roses made a gigantic statement in the ‘80s (The Stone Roses in the ‘90s, too) and I can hear their sounds in many young bands today. Current Manchester crop Whyte Horses, Spring King and Man Made are bands we should keep our eyes out for- Horsebeach, TVAM and PINS should be added alongside them. Perhaps Blossoms are the most notable Manchester bands of the moment- they release their debut album next week. My point remains: the North West should never be overlooked or underestimated. So many of us, me included, put so much stock in London and the music coming from there- at the expense of areas like Manchester and Liverpool. Racing Glaciers were formed in Macclesfield, which is to an extent, not steeped in classic bands and musicians.

Macclesfield is about 40 miles south of Manchester; 44-and-a-bit miles from Liverpool. Racing Glaciers are going to be conquering the world soon enough, but for now, they are happy where they are. The boys have released three E.P.s and gained plaudit and support from some hugely influential stations and figures. Before I carry on, let me introduce the band to you:

Racing Glaciers return with another stellar new single ‘Patient Man’ this July, out just ahead of their debut album ‘Caught In The Strange’, released through Killing Moon on August 5th.

With well over 2million Soundcloud plays on just their first few tracks, Racing Glaciers quickly burst on to the scene with their track ‘First Light’, which featured on the Transformers 4: Age of Extinction movie and won the band widespread support from BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6Music DJ’s including Annie Mac, Huw Stephens, Greg James, Fearne Cotton and Steve Lamacq.

The band have since performed lauded shows at the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend, Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape Festival, Secret Garden Party, London Calling in Amsterdam, Berlin Music Week, Y Not Festival, Wakestock and Beacons, as well as a mammoth 35-date headline UK tour late last year.

The new single ‘Patient Man’ is another exciting glimmer of what is to come from Racing Glaciers’ debut album release, ‘Caught In The Strange’, and pulls together all that is great about the 5-piece from Macclesfield, as gloriously cinematic, inventive and essential as we need right now.

Racing Glaciers debut album ‘Caught In The Strange’ is released through Killing Moon on August 5th 2016. ‘Patient Man’ is available from all good digital stores now, or available free – along with the singles ‘Seems Like A Good Time’ and ‘Samadhi (So Far Away’) – with exclusive album pre-orders.

Few bands have achieved as much (in a short time) as Racing Glaciers. Just look at their biography and you can tell how much their music is resonating. Caught in the Strange will arrive soon and its current single, Patient Man, has been lauded and congratulated by reviews and D.J.s. Social media is such a powerful force; many of us are ignorant and ignore the importance of it. When we see a great musician or band come through: how often are we likely to share their songs or promote them? I see artists with thousands of followers and how fee actually get involved and share the music. Even if you ‘like’ a song or retweet a status update: it makes a difference and can reach some very important people. If you follow a band, it stands to reason you will be invested in what they have to say. Why see an update about a great new song and simply let it go by? I feel we are becoming naïve and lazy; too keen to support an artist and be very casual with our patronage. New musicians, more than ever, need backing and kindness from their fans. Racing Glaciers have got where they are for a few reasons. Of course, the music itself is tremendous and fresh: among the most original and urgent I have heard in a long time. I know their fans are very loyal and many have shared the music and proffered their craft- ensured people get buzzing and chatting about the boys. You cannot discount the relevance and importance of Facebook and Twitter. If you are passionate and excited about a musician, then you have an (unwritten and unspoken) obligation to do more than simply listen. If we do not make efforts to promulgate the finest out there; music is going to suffer and many terrific artists are likely to call time. I know of many bands that have called it quits due to lack of relevant support and love.

Racing Glaciers are on a roll now and are enjoying critical acclaim and heady promotional duties. Enjoying some incredible festival slots and making their name knows to the likes of B.B.C. 6 Music: the future looks very rosy for the lads. It always warms my heart when I discover bands that have such plaudit and backing behind them. Racing Glaciers are likely to grow larger and more successful as time elapses. Over the last four years, they have come from modest foundations to become one of this country’s most-talked about propositions.  Of course, the Macclesfield crew is savvy and has not just relied on fan generosity and social media. They have set up their stall wonderfully: social media pages present; music easy to find across SoundCloud, BandCamp and YouTube; they keep themselves busy, no doubt. Aside from the organisation skills and intelligence; the guys’ music redefines Alternative-Rock. I have become somewhat disenchanted by the genre over the last few months. Every time I see a band described as ‘Alternative-Rock’; I approach the task with trepidation and weariness. So often I hear a group and within a few seconds recognise the song: it is simply a retread of another artist. Rock and Alternative are areas that have so much promise and room for maneuver. Pup, Wild Nothing and Chairlift are a trio of bands that mix Indie, Alternative and Rock together: making sure cross-pollination and mobility define their music. My problem is too many bands are rigid and unbending when they create songs. Maybe obsessed by their favourite bands: they are reluctant to do anything inventive, new and unexpected. As a result, Alternative Rock has gained an (unfair) reputation among some critics as being lackluster and tired. It is possible to craft crowd-pleasing, classic-sounding songs and do so with verve, uniqueness, and nuance. Racing Glaciers have suggestions of older acts but, by and large, are completely separate and stand-out; they owe a debt to nobody and have given spark and life to Alternative-Rock. Caught in the Strange is out on Friday and will demonstrate what a proposition they are. Stations and critics are liable to pick the album up and promote it readily; give it great reviews and enjoy people know about it.

Caught in the Strange is the first full-length release from the band. Patient Man is a tremendous single that gets into the heart and has an addictive quality to it. Racing Glacier’s current work is, in my view, their best to date and sees them build on early promise and really strike. The eponymous debut E.P. came out in 2012 and picked up some impassioned reviews and admirers. Songs like South begin with far-off, dreamy vocals and rush off the blocks. “I can tie my shoes/I can wash you too” are words that are hard to forget. Our hero hears a ghost in the house; he is returning to the “burning south”. As you get caught in the pace of the vocal and the beautiful composition- merry, jubilant horn blasts sit with rampant percussion- those lyrics intrigue and compel the senses. It is impossible not to picture scenes and interpret the meaning. Vivid, picturesque and romantic: South is a terrific song that defines the E.P. and the band. Talking About Space begins with more punch and clout (than South) and promises something epic. Before long, calmer, reflective guitars sit with brass and soothe the listener. Perhaps detailing a sweetheart or lonesome heroine: our lead poses questions and wonders whether she could cope on her own. The song’s title gets you thinking about cosmic possibilities although the words seem directly to apply to love. Soft, teasing and nimble at once; energrised, rousing and spirited the next: a song that has plenty of atmosphere, layer and detail. An exceptional band performance makes the track (one of the E.P.’s) finest creations. Little River closes Racing Glaciers and gives us Led Zeppelin III-esque patrol acoustics to start. Seduced by the tumbling beats and feet-moving drive of the song: another song that details romance and desire. Little River seems to be the name given to the girl (a sobriquet perhaps) but could also apply to nature itself- embracing the outside world to the full. Waves crash and the water rushes: the duo are not alone and are surrounded by the natural world. A terrific, singalong track that ends the E.P. with a bold statement.

Ahead of You Forever was released in 2014 and saw the band increase in scope and confidence. The opening (title) track is a lush and evocative piece that is riparian, tender and gorgeous. The acoustic strings open up to proud and noble horns. Expansive, delirious and swooning: there is a gracefulness and emotion to the composition. It is impossible not to get swept up and let your mind wander freely. Reminding me of Pink Floyd in their early days: it has elements of ‘60s-‘70s Psychedelic-Rock. New Country follows on from the opener- without pause at all- and sees the group at their lyrical finest- “Cold winged daughter/shaking in the morning sun”. Our hero has been sitting on his hands too long and coasting: now is the time to get up and do something- “Silver girl. We’re sailing on now”. Like their debut, there is a geographical and physical element to the song. A lot of Racing Glacier’s songs look at places, movement, and relocation. New Country refers to the east; previous songs have alluded to the south- the band is keen to immerse the listener in something physical, otherworldly and personal. The Falls enforces this and sees the lead escaping from home and trouble brewing; embracing a girl who is a “perfect failure”- he, as he admits, is a “freak, I’m a loner”. It is an odd, if balanced, love that is replete with aching vocals and an incredible band performance.

Every release and move see Racing Glaciers grow in confidence and stature. Ahead of You Forever was a progression from Racing Glaciers and contained more memorability, nuance, and colour. The band had started brightly but really hit their stride here: a remarkable E.P. filled with wonderful stories, emotions, and festival-ready songs. Now, in 2016, the boys have released Patient Man: a song that naturally fits into their back catalogue but takes another step forward. It is hard to truly define but (Patient Man) has that extra spark and layer; the performance is tight and brilliant; the vocal more passionate and soulful- Racing Glaciers evolving and progressing another step. This all hangs well for their L.P. which is liable to contain that same brilliance, consistency, and improvement. Existing fans will be pleased to find little has changed with regards their established, solid sound. What has changed is the quality and brilliance. Previous outings have been met with applause; critics and fans are likely to love their latest material and find much to recommend. Bands that build and grow between records are a rarity. You either get groups that start promising and then start to weaken or hit their peak many years down the line. Racing Glaciers sound at their most assured and contented right now. Caught in the Strange is going to be an album that highlights one of the most astonishing and unique bands in the country.

Patient Man is the lead single from Caught in the Strange and is very much business-as-usual for the group. Right from the gates, you are settled and pleased: there is no such thing as a disappointing Racing Glaciers song. Suitable to their name; the initial offerings have glacial strings and a sense of energy. Folk-tinged acoustics give the song beauty and stillness; underlying it, you have plenty of energy and blood-rush. “Look so happy with your hands behind your back” are the first words; not ones you’d expect. Given the compositional nature; one might predict something more romantic and traditional. Those early words get the mind working and imagining; one thinks of someone casually standing or relaxing- further revelation provides something darker (“Where we tied them up”). Maybe sinister or not as one imagines: the song’s subject “looks so good” laying on the table. Many might think of something deathly (somebody still and unmoving) or perhaps something less negative- perhaps with sexual overtones. That is the beauty and fascination of those words: the truth is not instantly revealed which means anyone can guess as to the origins. Racing Glaciers always make you smile with their music with all their songs. I have mentioned Racing Glaciers being Alternative-Rock but here, like many of their songs, there are more suggestions of Folk. Patient Man delineates its words to ensure maximum emotional resonance; the listener has the chance to drink it all in and immerse yourself in the picture. Our hero is patient and is keeping his emotions in check.

Constantly looking for revelation and truth: those lyrics still burn in the brain and get me wondering. Images of bondage or submission are inevitable but the composition and vocal restraint take your thoughts somewhere pure. Before too long, the song kicks up a notch and things get tenser and grittier. Whoever the heroine is; she is being given a bit of short shrift. The little pills she used to take- whether medicinal, hallucinogenic or suppressing- are being prescribed by our man. Maybe words of cruelty or causal annoyance: that initial patience is fading and the story gets more exciting and dark.  Patient Man is the band’s biggest topographical shift. Their previous material has looked at more optimistic and itinerant themes. Here, they transpose their ethics and create something closed-in and nervy; a black drama that looks at a capture-hostage-like situation. The girl/heroine is being let outside (just for an hour) and has been advised not to try anything- maybe she will run and evade the scene. It is at this point you realise the band has subsumed a very unsettling tone into the song. Perhaps not as clear-cut as one would imagine: again, it is impossible not to raise a sly smile. Words are never delivered with forceful malevolence or aggression: there is a playfulness and sense of detachment to be heard. “They don’t understand” are ironic words considering the next verse: the heroine is rolling on the floor as our man considered using a tranquiliser.

Maybe intended for comedy or sarcasm: it is a very tense atmosphere that is offset with a light and (almost romantic) presentation. We get plenty of detail about the shackled girl and the waning patience; no explanation as to the situation and back-story. This leaves the listener to come to their conclusions and speculate. Perhaps the relationship has been going a while and the girl has taken a lot: the lead has reached his tether and been as stoical as he can. One cannot take Patient Man to be a violent and cold song; throughout every stage, you smile at the exaggeration and ludicrous nature of the song- maybe not what the band intended but the fact remains. If there is some brainwashing and conditioning (the girl looking so good doing “what we taught you”) the fascination levels increase and the song becomes more filmic. Rather than attacking strings and funereal organs; we have a loose and relatable composition that will not put the listener off. More than that; Patient Man is the best song I have heard from Racing Glaciers.

The closing moments see the mantra (“They don’t understand”) repeated and becoming more appealing and hypnotic with every cycle. I can see crowds and festival-goers unified, shouting those words: perhaps ignoring the severity and true meanings behind the words. As hooked as I was by the sentence; the ‘we’ part of “what we taught you” gets into the mind. Who are these other people? Again, you feel like a gang or cult is being ascribed- such an unusual basis for a song but something that you cannot forget. Vocals get layered, choral and rousing; the composition remains light but adds plenty of emotion and story- the song reaches its peak and you are caught in an odd Stockholm Syndrome. From disquieting and unusual beginnings: by the end, you are on the hero’s side and submitted to the catchiness and sway of the song. No matter what your impressions of the song’s origins- something troubled and dark; more oblique and fictional- Patient Man is the most complete and authoritative song from the Macclesfield band. Differing from their early work- that looks at escape, romance, and nature- we have something left-field and against-the-grain. If that reflects the direction of the album (might be a red herring) it will be interesting to see.

I started this review by looking at bands of North West England and how Alternative-Rock is on shaky ground. If you link the two together- consider the classic bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s- there is no real evidence to suggest a huge about-face will occur. London might have the critical ear (and lead the charge of new artists) but the North West has always been a vital, historical part of the U.K. It is not just Manchester and Liverpool that is throwing terrific artists our way. Macclesfield, as we have seen, has quite a few; Wigan is pretty fertile with regards great music- the same can be said for Lancaster. Rock and Alternative are two of my favourite genres and feature heavily in my record collection. Lately, I have been more interested in Electronic music and Pop; getting more involved with Folk and Grunge. It is those culpable, tepid bands that have caused this abandonment. So many new acts are fans of Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, and Oasis; they do not make any effort to differentiate themselves and just duplicate their idols. Worse than that, there are so many groups that are plain boring, formulaic and stuffy. Those that stick in the mind and campaign for years are those that have their own mind and way of working. You do not need to be defined and one-dimensional when playing Alternative-Rock. Lyrically, musically and vocally; there are so many options and possibilities. Viola Beach are probably the best example of what I am trying to say.

The Warrington band gained a reputation throughout 2015 and started to get some great gigs under their belt. Not consciously influenced by anyone- they count The Coral and Hooton Tennis Club among their favourites- they were taken from us far too soon. After playing Where’s the Music? Festival in Sweden; the boys were involved in a fatal car crash. It was a tragic event for two different reasons. For one, they were a young band that were enjoying life and working hard to make a name for themselves. In another sense, you should hear the music they left behind. Their debut album (a collection of songs they were planning to release in the future) shows the group had a huge future ahead. Their basis was Rock but they incorporated Pop and Indie into the pot to produce something affirmative, happy and visceral. So few bands possess their sense of optimism and wonder- few argue we may never see their like again. What Viola Beach left behind was a very clear message to their contemporaries: you can get into people’s hearts readily by taking time to work on your music and create something new. The imperious, riff-obsessed bands- concerned with introversion and woe-is-me songs- should take note and learn from the Warrington heroes.

I shall step away from such sad remembrance, but Viola Beach’s memory will live on and inspire. Racing Glaciers remind me a lot of Viola Beach. The way they approach music and connect with fans- both happy-go-lucky bands that connect with the audience- it is the quality and originality of the music that defines them both. Patient Man is a stunning song that shows just what their album will provide. The band market is such a varied and unpredictable thing. There are some wonderful acts playing but there are many more that are not worthy of any attention. Discovering the ones that are genuinely interesting is a hard task. What sets Racing Glaciers aside from their peers is a combination of work-rate, identity, and personality. The boys are tirelessly pounding and never stop grafting. They do not sit back and let fans promote them alone; they do not have P.R. companies hyping them and creating false ideals. The band is the real deal and is determined to get their music across as many stations and towns as they can. Racing Glacier’s music has a blend of positivity and reflection; there are classic and contemporary shades. It is the boys’ personalities and love of music that supersedes it all and shines brightest. One of those groups you just know will remain in music for many years to come. They have clear passion and zeal that is infectious and joyful. Like Viola Beach (last mention) the boys want to produce sounds that make people thoughtful and happy. Patient Man has serious edges and a sense of introspection but plenty of energy and excitement. Their L.P. will expand on that and showcase a very rare force in British music. If you are like me (my apologies) you want your Rock bands new and imaginative; you cannot go wrong investing time in Racing Glaciers. Music is looking for bands that can step up and have the potential to last and inspire a new generation. The guys from Macclesfield…

ARE easily capable of that.



Follow Racing Glaciers










TRACK REVIEW: Trickster Guru (Ft. AWAY)- Problem Child



Trickster Guru (ft. AWAY)



Problem Child




Problem Child is available via:


1st April, 2016


Blues; Alternative; Pop


Los Angeles, U.S.A.


FEW greater pleasures exist than discovering musicians…

that put you in a better frame of mind. Before I talk about influences, cross-genre sounds and collaborations: it is worth exploring the medicinal and psychological effects of music. I know I keep saying it but the truth rings loud: we all require something uplifting and positive right now. The world gets shakier and less sure every week- such insanity and horror unfurling before our eyes.  Whether that atrocity is on our doorstep or not; it has a profound effect on the psyche; naturally, everyone will be affected some way. In response to that, we can react one of two ways: either find something positive to help us get through; that or crumble and let it get on top of us. The former is a preferable option and one we should be pursuing. Music is a mystical and soul-nourishing force that is capable of some wonderful things. It doesn’t matter if you are a musician or a music listener: the result and motivation is the same. I, myself, have been rather downbeat and hunting for anything that can help balm the wounds- music is helping a great deal. Artists that arrive and put the smile on faces; cause something positive and redemptive in the bones: that is what we are looking for. It doesn’t matter what genre you play (more on that later) or where you come from- if your songs can transport listeners somewhere safe and hopeful; you have a great chance of holding their attention for many years. The music industry is such a fickle and unpredictable place: is it enough to simply create happiness and escapism in the listener? Well, not really, but my point is this: it is an essential and much-needed starting block. My featured artist is someone who can bring soothe the mind but goes a lot further.

Trickster Guru has been around long enough to know what it takes to succeed and remain. Before I talk about him- and raise some new points- it is worth introducing him to you:

“Trickster Guru is the alternative rock and electronic project of singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Christopher Caplan.  Trickster Guru’s debut EP “Problem Child”, beautifully fuses vintage rock and soul with the excitement and innovation of modern electronic synth. Like a poignant conduit between the past and present, “Problem Child” draws influence from rock anthem greats such as The Doors and Jeff Buckley as well as modern electronic artists such as Flume and Skrillex.  The added synths and beats from alternative electronic co-producer AWAY, allows Trickster Guru to ingeniously create a sound of passion, culture and indulgence.

Although Trickster Guru began as a two-piece garage rock band in 2013, the band sadly broke up before self-releasing their debut EP “Black and White” in early 2014 after a near fatal car accident in the desert. This experience inspired the first single off the new EP “Feel the Spirit.” one of their tracks to be featured on NPR’s KCRW. Between creatively addictive yet divergent hooks, “Feel the Spirit” reflects the spiritual seeking and psychedelic culture of Los Angeles while addressing, through its narrative, the heart-breaking realism of the city.

The “Problem Child” EP features mastery from Nick Stratton, Jason Aguja, and Dylan Fenley. Trickster Guru reveals ‘the new EP was a way of coming to terms with my past – artistically, emotionally and spiritually.”  This is ideally demonstrated with the stunning accompanying music video shot in Astoria Oregon, which pulls inspirations from the surreal, gritty and realistic style of David Lynch, and also features the talented musician and model Lindsay Perry. Buzzbands LA praised “Problem Child” as ‘a collection of bluesy pop and unrestrained rockers that display substantial range yet are not always what they seem’.

Following the “Problem Child” EP release show at “It’s a School Night”, and recent performances at The Satallite, The Study and KCRW’s Summer Nights, Trickster Guru continues to organically gain media attention and radio play including Buzzbands, KCSN and KXLU. Trickster Guru’s unique understanding of technology intersecting with music via augmented reality, shows an honorable dedication to the future of music, of which he hopes to create his own pathway and musical culture.”


Cross-genres and influences. Two subjects that are important when it comes to your music. Trickster Guru (is an artist) that uses different sounds to create something awesome and new. We get some vintage, old-style shades of Blues and Rock. Tied together with modern Electronica: artists from The Doors and Flume come together; a union few would ever imagine. Problem Child (E.P.) brings the past and present together and does so in an extraordinary way. Those who adore everyone from The Doors to Jeff Buckley will raise a smile: those who prefer the harder, more direct music of Skrillex will not be disappointed. Fusing disparate sounds is quite a risky venture. Many artists resist the temptation altogether: getting it wrong can be quite damaging and embarrassing. Those who do it (and do it well) should be applauded. It is not unoriginal or lazy experimenting and unifying old and new: it can make music more layered, fascinating and appealing. Trickster Guru has grown up around a range of artists and learnt from them; integrating their essence into something unique and fresh. Of course, there is more to the man than genre-joining. The music itself is a festival for the ears. Our man has had quite a tumultuous and difficult road to success. Having formed the two-piece band in 2013 (Trickster Guru), a near-fatal collision almost ended his musical dreams- the fact he has rebuilt and continues to strive is a testament to his fortitude and defiance. The music (of Trickster’) reflects the dichotomy of L.A. life. On the one hand, you have that fantastical dreaminess and beauty: the gorgeous voices, multi-cultural neighbourhoods and wonderful sights. On the other side, there is the realism of the city: the heartache, loneliness, and harshness that can be found. I guess that is the same with any major city (London is a perfect example) but few are able to portray that balance and contrast through music.

Photo: Rory Kramer

Problem Child brings city experiences with personal insight and recollections; topics of love, life, and survival. The way these subjects and emotions are represented is through bold sonic invention and a direct, to-the-soul delivery. Rock and Blues are soldered with myriad strands: songs that have mystery and depth; plenty of nuance when you listen hard enough. Problem Child’s title cut brings AWAY to the bosom. The combination of talents makes the song a wonderful song that cannot be forgotten in a hurry. Collaborations, like cross-pollination to an extent, can be a risky endeavor. It takes two (or more) special, intuitive voices to succeed: if they are mismatched or an ill fit; the ensuing work is going to suffer.  Problem Child does not suffer any such fate. The mingling of Trickster Guru and AWAY creates alchemy, for sure. Let’s hope they work together in the future, but until then, it is important we encourage more collaborations in music. Bands hardly ever join forces with anyone: it would be great to see a group bring another singer/artist in for a few songs. Solo artists are more open but often feel they need to keep their music to/by/about them. If there are any other cooks in the mix: perhaps listeners will ignore them. Whatever the psychology; musicians need to be more adventurous and take chances once in a while. Some of the finest music I have heard in the past year has arrived when artists get together- take that gamble and create something sensational.

Trickster Guru has had quite a long and busy career so far. If we are assessing Problem Child; it is worth looking back and seeing how he has progressed. Black and White is a song that starts with Reggae groove and slinks into life. “Stray cats in the night” and indecision are assessed. The early sentiments lead me to look at relationship break-ups and miscommunication. The song has a great quiet-loud dynamic and the delineation is superb- atmospheric and highly unexpected. Trickster Guru is in command and makes the song sound completely essential and urgent. Sparse, funky guitars give the track a real kick and coolness. Messiah is a contrasting song that begins with scratchy riffs and Blues elements. Another funky and insatiable introduction: it leads to a fast-paced and emotive vocal from Trickster Guru. The entire E.P. (Black and White) is defined by its uplifting, Funk-cum-Blues tracks that get the feet tapping. Indiana Speedway Bomber takes things (briefly) into Country territory but is imbued with that rushing, hectic mood. It is a song that looks at the bombing of a small town- an evocative narrative that brings you right into the song. Feel the Spirit looks at the contrasts of L.A. The heady nightlife and dancing “on a Saturday night” is brought into view. There is drug-addled regrets and hedonism; the beauty and scenic views- the differences and diversions the city has to offer.

That is just a sprinkling of Trickster Guru’s work and is worth checking out. Every track and E.P. has such quality, consistency, and style. Whether spirited Blues songs or something more reflective: you cannot help fall in love with the music and what is being sung. Our hero looks at a variety of topics- from love and life to L.A. and its people- and is not an artist that stays on one topic- always keen to remain nimble, mobile and flexible. The Problem Child E.P. takes his back catalogue on and adds extra layers and urgency to the fold. The latest material is the finest from the America. He is at his rawest, most committed and compelling now. While the subject matter embraces new concerns; the compositions will be familiar with existing fans. It would be great to see an L.P. from Trickster Guru in the future as he is one of the busiest and prolific musicians around. Problem Child’s title track is the most arresting and instant song I have heard from Trickster Guru. A sensational track that flows with life, imagination, and passion- a wonderful revelation from a stunning artist.

Problem Child opens with spritzing, jagged electronics that convey different emotions. You get impressions of a drive down a highway; arguments and tension: all this comes to fruition from a few simple notes. Setting the scene and painting images early on: the listener is free to imagine and dive inside the song. The introduction, like a lot of Trickster Guru’s work, is filled with originality and momentum. The lo-fi, repetitive electronic buzz pervades and takes you into the world of the Los Angeles man. In the song’s video- at this stage in proceedings- we see an abandoned car at the side of the road. A woman falls from the driver’s side and starts to crawl across the tarmac. That image sets the tones for the opening notes. There is a degree of panic and unpredictability early on. Wordless vocals from our hero; a cooing, wordless utterance of beauty: Trickster Guru and AWAY melt their tones- AWAY provides the synths./electronics and beats- and get the song underway. Rather than go straight in with lyrics and get to the heart of the matter: Trickster Guru builds the song and ensures he does not reveal too much too soon. That two-handed vocal beginning is beautiful and odd at the same time- you start to imagine different scenarios and possibilities; it is both oblique and direct. When our hero steps to the microphone, he is looking at his sweetheart. His girl is free and wild; different from everyone else and somewhat a rebel- the car crash scenario in the video would suggest she is a loose cannon and danger-seeking girl. Her “spirit is alive”; she is special and divine: someone who is causing shivers and excitement in his bones.

Backing the vocal is subtle string-work and romantic notes. We get a blend of impassioned shiver and edgy, hard-minded drive. These contrasts add to the overall effect which is quite stunning. Despite Problem Child being one of the more soulful and reflective songs- calmer and more seductive than previous Trickster Guru numbers- it is one of the finest. Even in the early moments, you are transfixed and hooked. Our man is a problem child and seems to need the girl. Whether the song is from a first-person perspective I am not sure. Maybe he is flipping things and speaking from the girl’s point-of-view. One suspects it is autobiographical and our hero is holding onto someone that is giving his life meaning. The beats get heavy and the composition rousing and graceful. A woman who is free-spirited, beautiful and life-affirming: you get impressions of who is being attested and what she means to him. “Born to be wild/Oh the problem child” springs out of nowhere and is a mantra that gets straight into the brain. Propelled by insatiable electronics and a hardened spine: the composition explodes into life and creates a real sense of drama and occasion. It is at this point you stop still and let the words flow over you. From the soul-flecked, smooth beginnings: Problem Child takes a turn and instantly changes the mood. If you follow the video; you see our hero in a car with the heroine. She has a coquettish look and playful façade; the two are alone and you sense an imminent coming together (no pun intended). I still wonder as to who is the problem child; who the song is portraying. From the video, one would assume the girl is the flighty, problem: someone who needs grounding and stability. Hearing the song on its own merit: I get the view the hero is the one who requires saving and redemption. Whatever your viewpoint; you cannot escape the claustrophobia and nerviness that is brought into the track. Just when you need a breath and chance for quiet; the song starts to calm. Piano notes roll and romance replaces uncertainty. That dynamic shift and change of projection: it catches you and resonates for sure. Most artists are fairly simple-minded and predictable when it comes to compositions. There are musicians that push the envelope but a lot of new musicians do not cause that much surprise. Trickster Guru makes sure his compositions are alive, varied and hard to predict.

Problem Child is a mini-epic that changes course and seems like a three-part suite. From the early professions and love-filled decelerations; we move into self-revelation and contextualisation. Our hero has some stories to tell and seems to be letting honesty come out. “I can tell you lots of stories about the hippies and the war/I can give you the feeling that you’ve been here before” are lines that are fascinating and unusual. From that revelation, one imagines an older storyteller: someone who has lived a life and seen a lot. Problem Child, once more, changes your mind and seems to be less personal and direct than one first thought. Maybe the song is about a variety of people; those lines might be fantastical and a bit of a red herring. Tease and contradictions are paired together. Our man can create and reveal the Garden of Eden; he will make it rotten to the core. Heaven’s gates will be flung open; only to have them slammed shut. His girl is being promised wonderful things to have them stolen and replaced with harshness. The song title becomes more defined and relevant with every new line. Who knows what is causing this rebellion and cold attitude. “Sweet ecstasy” (a name or term used to describe his love) is a much-needed anchor and reality check. Despite the wars and negativity: he has someone that calms his soul and gives meaning to life. Maybe I am misreading but one assumes that fact. Just as you get immersed in the open, soul-baring side; the song shifts once more. That exhilarating, near-violent electronic contortion comes back to provide relief, sexuality, and anger. Problem Child brings Blues and Soul together with Electronica and Dub-Step without losing focus or authority. Trickster Guru has always been masterful when splicing genres: here, he is at the top of his game and has created one of his greatest songs. If you follow the video; all sorts of peril and violence is unfolding. Our man is being strangled by a priest and evading holy men. The heroine follows him- they are at a beach as two priests are converging and attacking our man- with a gun in hand. Those images are a pertinent and perfect representation of a song that runs thick with drama and heartache.

The final minute finds the song at its hardest and most primal. The stridulating, vibrating electronics slice, smack and swagger their way through. Grungy, dirty undertones mix with a clean and clinical side: the resultant collaboration takes the song to a new level. Distorted, salacious guitars fuse and add yet another genre (Grunge; Blues-Rock perhaps) to the spectrum. The wild one, the problem child: our hero cannot catch a break and is walking a road he should not be. You sense a desire to change and redeem himself. That’s what makes the song’s video ironic. Perhaps unholy and abandoning ecumenical corners: he is stalked by men of God before being strangled- a very odd and David Lynch-esque story. All along, one feels Trickster Guru does not want to be problematic and troublesome: he just needs the right person to give him guidance and meaning. His heroine provides that ballast and love: maybe it has come too late; he cannot change his ways and is stuck in a rut. By the final notes, the tale has been told and one wonders how things turned out. In the video, the vengeful priest is shot (by the heroine) and the duo has a chance to flee. Problem Child caused a lot of thought in me: just what it meant and its origins. A fascinating song that hits the senses and gets right into the soul. The composition is epic, diverse and changeable. So many different shades and colours come together. At once, calmed and introverted; it grows to exhilarating, electric heights- a filmic number that one will not forget. The lyrics intrigue while the vocal amazes and shines throughout. You need a few listens to get the full effect of the song; it reveals itself and its intricacies across time- the definition of a nuanced track. A superb accomplishment from one of the U.S.’s, and the world’s, most promising musicians. Kudos goes to AWAY whose percussion and electronic contributions add so much life, drama and brilliance to the song. A great partnership I hope will be seen in the future.

Trickster Guru might be a new name to British ears but that should all change. L.A. and the U.S. has, once more, provided an intriguing future star. I get sent a lot of American review subjects and am never disappointed. Like the U.K.; there is a fantastic scene and so many different types of acts- musicians that deserve more attention than they have. It is tough breaking out of ‘local’ circles and making an impact on a national/international level. Trickster Guru is making a mark in the U.S.- his new E.P. has picked up some very impressive reviews- so it cannot be too long until his music is spread across the nation. There are too many pointless Pop artists and overrated artists that get undeserved acclaim and success. Those genuine and talented often have to fight harder and struggle for focus. I hope that injustice is righted in the coming years. Until a solution is arrived at: what of the likes of Trickster Guru? He seems to be keeping busy with music and would be nice to see him come overseas; come to the U.K. and play some shows here. Unfortunately, financial strains and logistical considerations must all be considered. If Trickster Guru can source funds and times: British crowds would certainly welcome the problem child in. I opened by discussing experimenting with genres and collaboration; the vitality of music (as a positive tool) and how underrated it is in general. This year has been incredible for music in general. Whether artist are reacting to the world at large- the heartaches and pains- I am not sure. One thing is pretty clear: 2016 has been a very rosy and prolific year for music. Let’s hope this parlays into 2017 and keeps the ball rolling.

Problem Child is an E.P. already well-loved among critics in L.A. and the U.S. Trickster Guru has been on the radar for years and has created (perhaps) his most assured, compelling and complete work- there will be debate among fans. The title track brims and bristles; it is instant but has a slow-burning quality. Too many musicians still come across one-dimensional, predictable and safe. There is some justification for that, I guess. The industry is a tough and unpredictable place. Critics and labels demand something instant and popular: music that fits in with mainstream consensus and tastes. Those who push against these sensibilities face an unsure future but create the greatest music. Trickster Guru might not have huge pressure from label bosses and press (just yet): there is an expectation to evolve and inspire- he has not let us down just yet. Problem Child’s early wave of effusiveness is very apt and deserved. A modern artist who gives us something familiar and direct; unexpected, individual and stunning- essentially, something for everyone. Trickster Guru has battled adversity and obstacles and grown stronger. Airplay and local attention has put the music to the people. This is just the start of things. Whether Trickster Guru thinks about reassembling a band- or keen to keep solo- there are possibilities and options before him. Make sure you grab hold of Problem Child and experience its wonder and revelations. The title track, for me, defines what makes Trickster Guru a singular artist. You get flavours of older acts (I have mentioned The Doors, for one) and new acts like Flume. Whilst those suggestions are a base: they augment sounds that could only stem from the young American. It is hard to truly unravel and explain the feeling one gets: the best thing to do is experience it for yourself. Our hero might have had an unsure and uneven last few years; that will all change. It only takes a few minutes (of Problem Child) to realise Trickster Guru’s future is…

GOLDEN and safe.



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INTERVIEW: Carly Wilford



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Carly Wilford


THERE are few people in the music world that have such a profound effect on me in terms of my life plan and desires. Carly Wilford is someone I have been watching for a while; admiring the progression of her career. Starting from humble beginnings: she has grown into one of the most influential and hard-working people in music. Whether running/support her projects SISTER and I Am Music; D.J.-ing around the world or promoting great musicians- she never seems to have a day off! This year has been an especially busy one for the Carly. Keen to chat and learn more about her; I have been lucky enough to get an insight into one of Britain’s most important musical figures.


Hi Carly. How has your week been? What are you working on at the moment?

It’s been great you know. I’m currently in Prague for Beats Evolution Conference. I’m moderating panels here, it’s the first ever Drum & Bass conference so I feel really blessed to have been part of it. I have completely fallen in love with this city.

I can’t believe you got to interview/hang with Big Narstie a few days ago! That must have been a very special and incredible experience? What is he like in the flesh?

What a guy. I tell you what, it’s the first time in any interview that I have been genuinely lost for words. He’s a dude. Super-funny but also really sharp. He’s an amazing businessman and I love the fact he’s killing it right now. 

Your enthusiasm and passion for music (and artists) is boundless. Where did that deep love of music begin? Was there a particular moment you knew music was going to be your career path?

Music has always played a really important part in my life. I was a dancer from a really young age so music naturally becomes part of you. Growing up we were surrounded by it. From jumping around in the front room with my mum and sisters to Phil Collins; to driving in the back of my dad’s car with the roof down to The Pogues. It brought our family together. My grandad played the piano & me and my sisters used to stand around and sing. It’s always played such a pivotal part in the decisions that I have made. Music speaks when words can’t. My main move to working in the industry happened when I realised its power. I was at a real turning point in my life and had decided to walk away from everything. I had always wanted to be a presenter and was told I should decide a field to focus on. Music was my heart beat so my decision was made.

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You have interviewed a whole range of artists and actors; musicians and talent; played around the world and travelled the world. This year has seen you particularly busy. Which moments from this year stand out as especially memorable?

It has been the most incredible year. Playing Glastonbury was really special. I have the best crew of people in my life right now and sharing four crazy days with them is something I will never forget. 

I also spent some time in L.A. at the beginning of the year. We were there for The Grammys so found ourselves in some ridiculous situations. Talking to Calvin Harris about S.G. Lewis at The Weeknd’s party in The Hills was awesome as I have been really close to S.G. and his journey. Ending up at a party that turned into a jam; watching Seal harmonising with Nicole Scherzinger as Quincey Jones, Gerard Butler, Wesley Snipes; Manny Norte, Bashy and Lucy Lu danced and watched on was also crazy.

What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

Who knows. My life and plans seem to change every day. I am really excited about my D.J. sets right now and everything that is happening with SISTER. We have found a unique lane that no one else seems to be in and it’s really starting to fly.

Part of my ‘job’ (reviewing and sniffing out the freshest new music) is discovering the best artists and talent out there. You are in a position where you connect with musicians/D.J.s on a daily basis. Any hot tips or emerging stars you feel people should seek out?

It’s such a ground-breaking time for new musicians. They are in the driving seat of their futures and there are so many platforms to help the world to hear them when they are ready. It’s all about Jorja Smith. Check out Blue Lights. The end. Haha. I have a really good feeling about Anne-Marie. She’s toured with Rudimental for a long time and she knows who she is as an artist. The pop world needs a role model like her and the doorway is wide open. I saw Nadia Rose at The Great Escape this year and she slayed it. I love Liv Dawson: check out her song Tapestry. I really rate Bibi Bourelly, Will Heard and Wolfie. It’s also going to be a big year for Jarreau Vandal, Mella Dee; Kojey Radical and 808INK.

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I Am Music is one of your babies: intending to help find the new generation and create a legacy. What compelled you to start it and who have been your proudest discoveries?

I was fed up with what I was reading in the press and the way a lot of it tore people apart. I realised it was tough for new artists to break the scene as physical sales of music were plummeting and the streaming world hadn’t quite found its feet. I decided to start a platform that highlighted the artists I believed had something special and tell the world about them. This soon became more of a consultancy and management platform. Sitting with artists helping them to understand who they were and the best path to take. I manage Josh Barry who is currently on tour with Gorgon City; have worked with Bloom Twins, Tom Prior; S.G. Lewis (who I mentioned earlier) and Longy, to name just a few.

SISTER– “Global rave material”- sees you join forces with Shan McGinley on Dash Radio. For those who have not heard of SISTER: what can new listeners expect to find?

SISTER bridges the gap between the U.K. & U.S. Electronic music scenes. We release an hour-long show once a month. It’s really bassy, forward thinking and brings together the very best of the music we have discovered. After spending time in the U.S., I realised that their radio was very different to the U.K. I also watched the size of the E.D.M. crowds and knew at some point those fans would want to discover a different sound. Shan and I worked together for a long time on I Am Music. He is one of the only people who matches my relentless work-rate and vision to shake things up. We send emails and reply to one another as most of the word is sleeping. 

The way you work and your tireless approach really astounds me. You have been championed by the likes of Zane Lowe and ranked as one of the most influential female D.J.s/musical entrepreneurs in the country. How does this make you feel? Have there been any particular people that have helped you get this far? Any heroes or heroines that you take guidance from?

You just made me blush. Haha. I really respect anyone who has had a vision and gone out there and created it. Meeting Skrillex changed my life. Not only is he one of the nicest guys in music he has built his career from nothing- even when people have tried to stop him. I have a lot of respect for Annie Mac as she has kept complete authenticity and integrity even though she has taken on more shows at the B.B.C. I am really lucky that I am surrounded by so many pioneering musicians and creatives- they inspire me daily. 

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Sigourney Standley (Siggy Smalls) is another human that bowls me with her verve and talent. You two are very close and work together. How did you two meet, and what is it like travelling around with her? You both D.J. together but are there any plans to work more together in the future? Maybe a business venture or musical enterprise?

Siggy Smalls. What a legend. I met her when I was on Rinse F.M. She was down in the studio at a party one evening; we got talking and just clicked. She’s one of the most down-to-earth yet talented and beautiful people I have ever met. We have a lot of fun, some hilarious memories and cause quite a lot of mayhem together (follow me on Snapchat). When you travel so much it’s important that you are on a level with the people around you. We party hard but can also chill out and not say a word  to one another. The back to back D.J. thing is something that happened by accident. We were on a yacht in Barcelona recently for a D.J. competition that Mazda were running. We weren’t part of the competition but I had a U.S.B. with my tunes on in my bag and asked the organisers if we could jump on the decks for a laugh. It was hilarious and we kinda smashed it so decided to start doing more sets together. It seems to be becoming a thing so let’s see what happens from here… 

You travel around the U.K./world but London is your base. What is it about the city that draws so many musicians/artists in?

London is so important not only for music but fashion, the arts, food, and culture. So many new musical genres have been born in its streets. Its heritage, the people and the history of the music scene are carved into its gritty pavements. There are so many different scenes in London that collide. Look at the Grime scene right now. I’ve watched it rise, fall and now completely take-off since living in the city. I think a lot of music is born out of people’s struggle. It’s not an easy city to live in so people have to be real and I think that makes the music really authentic. A lot of us don’t do it for the money so we take risks; try things that other people might be afraid to and collaborate with one another which is key.


Knowing how demanding your work-life is; how do you unwind and decompress?

Spending time with my family is really important. They love me no matter what madness is going on in my life and they help to keep my feet on the floor. Making sure I stay connected with myself is essential too. Walking through London at night, going to Hyde Park, turning my phone off; running a deep bath with candles and a book and getting a good night’s sleep. When you are jumping across time zones, it becomes one of your most precious commodities. I also meditate but only once a month. 

There will be many young men and women who want to follow in your footsteps; live up to your example. What advice would you give them? Where is the best place to start in terms of contacts and experience? 
Discover who you are. It sounds so simple but so many people don’t know who they are or try to follow someone else’s dream. Do the things you love and get rid of anything in your life that makes you unhappy. Realise that your thoughts create your world and you can achieve anything even if you’re not sure of the process to make it happen. Take small steps and big chances. Don’t be afraid to fall along the way, they can sometimes be your biggest lessons. Whatever industry you decide to work in, learn about the scene then find a way to align yourself with the people that matter. Offer your time, energy and support. Doors might be closed in your face but there will be ones that are half open that you can kick down.  
On that note; given how many people follow you and connect with your work; what would you say to them? What is it like receiving that kind of love and support from people- many of whom would never have met you in person before?
It’s amazing and I love meeting people in real life. Sometimes you forget that those social media stats and video views are actually people. If you ever see me wherever we are in the world, come and say hi, let’s grab a drink and rave.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can choose any song and I’ll play it here.
Dusky – Ingrid is a Hybrid. Had it on repeat for months. Can’t wait for their album. 

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TO be quite honest: Maxdmyz were a new force to me…

until very recently. After a few seconds of their music: the effect takes hold and you are dragged into their world. Sometimes thrilling and strange; dirty and raw the next- safe and settled before you know it. The five-piece are playing across London (a date in France thrown in there) across the next few weeks- I heartily recommend you check them out. Their live shows are chaotic and frantic- as the interview unveils- but the experience is one of ecstasy, revelation and visceral thrill. In fact, the guys seem to be non-stop touring at the moment: bringing their stunning brand of Metal to the masses. Maxdmyz incorporate Alternative, Progressive edges to their music; a combination of emotions and decades- one of the freshest and most exciting groups around London. With suggestions of an E.P. later in the year; I was keen to catch up with the group for a quick chat.


Hey guys. Hope you are well. Can you introduce yourselves to us, please?

Twister: We’re a five-piece Alt/Prog-Metal band from London, England – I’m the singer; we’ve got Jay on drums; Vortex on keys; A’Zedd on bass and Roger on guitar.

How did you all come together in the first place?

Jay: Over time really – just finding people whose playing we liked and offering them a spot in the band.

Which bands/musicians were influential when helping to sculpt your sound/direction?

Roger: A huge range really – from Danzig, Pantera and the Beatles to the Doors and Amon Amarth.

You are based in London and the South-East. What is the Metal scene like where you are? Do you get opportunities to play?

Vortex: Loads of opportunities to play – but for next much money – there are a huge number of bands, even Metal ones, and so many different and competing potential calls on people’s money and time. Having said that, most of the gigs we play are worth playing – and the richness and creativity of the bands is amazing – so much talent.

Photo: Radek Nowicki (

I know the band does have some tour dates coming up across London and U.K. What is it like touring with Maxdmyz? Give us a window into that chaos.

A’Zedd: You must be a telepath – how did you know it’s chaos? The best way to describe it pandemonium, confusion; boredom, ecstasy; joy and frustration – all in equal measure.

Are there any downsides that come with touring?

Jay: For me no actually – I love playing and touring and everything that goes with it. It can obviously be knackering and stuff but who cares – I can sleep when I die.

Metal is a genre that struggles to transcend to the mainstream. What do you think Metal scene is like now? Is it more underground or has chance to break into the mainstream?

Twister: It depends what you mean by Ketal – there are so many sub-genres. I think you’ll get bands like ‘Maiden and AC/DC, who, if not mainstream, have reached a mass audience, although some may argue with their being defined as metal of course. Or, you’ll get great bands, like Nile and Origin, who are out of this world, but who aren’t going to make it to the ‘Radio 1 playlist anytime soon and will never have anything but a relatively-small fan base. However, the cultural impact of Metal has been immense, in music and elsewhere. I think in Maxdmyz we successfully produce music that appeals across the board – it’s got hooks and grooves, but also elements of Death, Thrash and Classic Rock – as well as occasionally something a little more experimental.



You have a new E.P. How’s that coming along? What can you tell us about that?

Vortex: It’s all gone very well so far- with the E.P. pretty much at the mixing and production stage. It’s the first release we’ve written and recorded with the band in its current form – so we’re all very excited. Ays Kura, who’s a well-known performer and producer on the UK Metal scene, is working with us – as he’s done before – we can’t wait to hear the final results as he always done something very special. The working title is Alchemical Metal, and it’ll be out on Renegade Records in October, we hope.

I always like to uncover something from every band; something you wouldn’t have told any other interviewer. Can you reveal a secret/unheard-of nugget about the band or the music?

A’Zedd: That’s a tough one; and we do so many of these interviews that it’s difficult to think of anything – but Twister did tell me the other day that he only writes lyrics on trains, planes or in the bath.

For being great interviewees; you can select any song (other than your own) and I’ll play it here…

Manifesto’ by Die Kur (Ays’s band).



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TRACK REVIEW: Greer- Deal with the Devil






Deal with the Devil





Deal with the Devil is available at:

13th July 2016


Pop; R&B


Boston, U.S.A.


IT is great to discover a solo artist that comes…

out of nowhere really. I feel this year is going to be defined by bands and their music. In terms of the underground, there is a remarkable blend of solo singers: each with their own course and sense of style. In relation to the mainstream; the balance is different: the bands are stealing focus and producing some of the best music around. Before I come to my featured artist; I wanted to look at musicians from Boston (where he hails); the young solo artists breaking through; looking at the elements that are overlooked when it comes to music. In the U.S., we often get distracted by New York or Californian- a point I have raised before- and obsess ourselves with what’s coming from there. It is understandable; as both areas are bound with great music and a busy, cosmopolitan scene. Push your imagination further, and America provides so much more. I have had the pleasure of going to various states (online) and discovering some terrific music. Boston is a city that has always produced solid and inspiring artists. From Pixies and Aerosmith; The Dresden Dolls to Blake Babies: Boston is a vibrant and captivating musical arena. In terms of modern Boston acts; Palehound are worth investigating further. Ellen Kempner’s project; the music provided is gentle and finger-picked; a dreamy and emotional sound that has resonated with critics. The Ballroom Thieves and Dutch ReBelle are two diverse, and stunning, acts that are putting Boston on the map. ReBelle’s Hip-Hop, beat-laden jams are getting recognition from the likes of M.T.V. The Drax and Funeral Advantage (all acts picked up by tell you how much quality and passion is coming from the city.

Animal Talk, Bent Shapes, and Bearstronaut, between them, provide clean, uplifting and intriguing songs: a trio of groups that have the potential to transcend into the mainstream and reach across the world. My point is how variegated and applaud-worthy the Boston scene is. That is just the tip of the iceberg really. I know there are local bars and venues that play host to some truly awesome musicians- those that never reach the consciousness of the media. The British press is a little lackluster when it comes to exposing the best America has to offer. I am never entirely sure whether there is a reason behind this: perhaps it is too daunting getting to grips with everything in the U.S. I have always mooted the idea of a music site that compartmentalises musicians by region and genre. Everyone would be able to hone in on a city/country and go even deeper- discover all the artists that play in a particular city.  That way, if you wanted to find all the acts coming from Boston, you would click and have a comprehensive list. Having heard Greer Wilson: I am keen to dig deeper and see more of what Boston has to offer up. Greer is a 19-year-old musician that has seemingly exploded onto the scene with a bang. In spite of the fact he has a few songs to his name; there are signs to suggest he might be one of the big-hitters in years to come. What marks him out is the freshness and unexpectedness of his music. Not replicating other bands and artists: he is a unique talent that is already getting attention from the local press. Greer’s looks will likely get teenage girls swooning and incapacitated: his music will get everyone similarly entranced. Having sung since the age of eight; that passion and commitment feeds into the songs. Greer is a young man that has his sights set and is making big strides. Love Me Less and Deal with the Devil are twin tracks that are being shared and celebrated on social media. Each track has its distinct influence and make-up but both prove the same thing: the Boston artist is someone with a very special talent.

We in the media place a lot of emphasise the importance of age when considering brand-new talent. The young the artist, the more vacillating and sweating the reviewer becomes. I feel too much pressure is placed on shoulders right from the off. Yes, there is something impressive about someone so young getting into music; releasing music and achieving a degree of recognition and acclaim. If we are too pressurising and expect too much; there is that fear (that artist) will burn-out and not be able to live up to the hype. In the mainstream (in the U.K.) everyone from Billie Marten and Dua Lipa have overcome the hurdles of youth. Marten is barely in her teens- think she is 16 still- and balances school work with music. Her majestic voice and ethereal, soul-baring songs suggest she is going to be a huge star very soon- already, the nation’s biggest radio stations are proffering her music. Dua Lipa, whose music is sexier and more Pop-based, is filled with confidence and sassiness. She takes influence from the likes of Rhianna but is very much her own woman- an incredible artist and down-to-Earth human. My general point is we should celebrate the great young artists but not put too much on their shoulders. It is scary getting into music and especially so for those in their teens/early-20s. Greer is in his teens still but shows a lot of maturity and direction from the off. Not your average Pop star who sings shallow songs and lyrics written by a host of producers: a proper singer who is unique and exceptional.

What hits me about Greer is the unique D.N.A. that springs from his music. Fresh, compelling beats; sweet, Soul-tinged vocals and thoughtful lyrics mean the music really leaps out at you. Too many artists distort their vocals or bury it in the composition. Others copycat others or seem somewhat generic. Greer lets the vocal take charge and is tricky to compete with other singers. Sure, he would have grown up around a variety of musicians- from his parents’ collection perhaps- but is not content to duplicate them. His songs dig deep into the heart and come from a very real place; love and relations are put under the microscope but given a new spin. Not resigned to let the vocal and lyrics say everything: so much colour, emotion and physicality is put into the music. The entire effect is quite amazing. You get drawn into this wonderful world and brought directly into Greer’s world. Deal with the Devil is a song that is garnering attention in the U.S. but could well make its way to the U.K. I know stations and fans here would love getting to grips with a singular, exceptional track like this.

The past few months have been very busy for Greer Wilson. He has released three songs- Blow Your Mind; Deal with the Devil; Love Me Less– and there is a lot of variation between the tracks. Blow Your Mind has racing, juddering electronics and an urgent vocal. It is a song as intense and powerful as the title suggests. It is very much a song that has its eyes on the Pop charts and mainstream radio. Confident, committed vocals back a perfect summer song that stays inside the head. It is fresh and vibrant; sizzling and upbeat: the perfect Pop number for new followers of Greer. Love Me Less (like Deal with the Devil) are harder, tougher songs that bring in new elements. Less Pop-based with more R&B/Soul elements: the composition is more varied and prescient. Blow Your Mind focused on the lyrics and the sheer energy of the song. The new singles place more emphasis on the complete package. The vocal is given more chance to breathe and grow; the composition brings in beats, lovely little details whilst the lyrics are a dichotomy. Blow Your Mind was a perfect introduction and way to gain instant recognition. Keen not to repeat himself; Greer has shown a more adult, bold approach now. Love Me Less is a song that urgencies a certain lack of commitment. Wanting to vibe and connect with a girl, if not commit to a relationship, there is a casualness and looseness to the song. Yeah, we can have a good time but that does not mean we need to be joined at the hip.

There is nothing callous or shallow. The song is a paen to good times and just having a blast. You can sense that mood in the track and it sweeps you up and creates smiles and memorability. Deal with the Devil was a track I was motivated to investigate due to its layers and depths. The composition alone is so busy whilst the vocal is the most direct and pure of Greer’s career. Even over the course of three tracks, you can hear a development and evolution from the young American. A couple of years ago; the E.P., The Sounds introduced Greer to the world. More in coming with Blow Your Mind (than his two new songs); it ensured tongues were wagging and attentions were captured. Again, the songs were more Pop-focused and chart-seeking. The production values were strong but feel they have improved now- more polished and complete. Greer has grown as a singer and seems distinct and soulful: he has more variation and moods; greater nuance too. This rate of change will surely see a new record reveal itself in the coming months? Greer has a range of songs at his disposal and I know the creative juices will keep flowing. Being 19 still: there is a lot of years ahead; you can see him getting bigger and better. As it stands, he is one of the most complete and hungry young artists around.

It has been a matter of days since Deal with the Devil dropped and already there has been heat and love put its way. The title leaves you in little doubt as to the emotions and story that influenced its creation. Clearly not emanating from a happy place: it recalls a rather duplicitous and deceitful sweetheart; someone who has been dishonest and hurtful. The Americans social media numbers are quite modest at the moment but that is going to change. When Deal with the Devil gains plaudit and attention: he will find himself adored around the globe. The opening notes of the track have sighing, edgy electronics creating a very unsettled mood. At once, you are planted in a tense and dangerous scenario. Those electronic warps and pulses get the hairs on end and the listener curious. Many might expect something direct and heavy from the off: Greer ensures there is a build-up and instancy blend; so many emotions in the first seconds. Our hero starts out giving some backstory and setting the scene. His subject has her heart set and is getting ready; there is something in the air and the night is just getting started. Maybe trusting his instincts and hopeful: the initial lyrics suggest a date is starting and the two have high hopes at least. Wilson’s vocal has deepness to it but remains composed and restrained. He does not explode out the gates or come across too insincerely. Letting the electronics and finger clicks create a perfect backdrop: Deal with the Devil seems to be a narrative from the girl’s point of view. Maybe recalling a personal relationship; perhaps one a friend had: the song starts to get hotter and more accusatory. Mind erasing and a sense of recklessness are portrayed. The duo is stepping into the night with different objectives. The heroine has no angels by her side: she is leading the hero astray and setting him up for a fall.

Greer’s voice raises the stakes and has a degree of anxiety lingering- ensuring the song’s words are given appropriate weight. As the song progresses; I find myself feeling sympathetic towards Greer. It is impossible to hear Deal with the Devil and not think about personal issues: this song must have emanated from an experience in his life. The chorus comes in big and those beats come up front. Tribal and bellicose; sexy and hip-snaking: a sound that projects images of the girl in your mind. You can see the smirk on her face; the red dress gleaming in the night; drink in hand- a femme fatale that has led many men to the rocks. Few artists put as much attention and thought into the chorus as Greer. Most Pop stars would simply throw everything into the mix and assume numbers and volume compensate for emotion and intelligence. Deal with the Devil’s beats tumble and patter: a wonderful sound that has its own gravity and appeal. Look away from the composition and the lyrics keep resounding. The song’s heroine has few morals and is contented to play games and throw men aside- our hero is the latest victim. “I’ve got you sinning now” the girl exclaims: following a bad path and dancing to his tune. Maybe (Greer) was reluctant to become involved but seemed helpless to her charms. Being taken down to the underground; going deep into the fires- the deal has been signed and there is no turning back. Each new utterance makes me wonder just who inspired the song and whether Greer is the affected party. He could be working from a point of fiction but the sheer conviction of the vocal suggests otherwise. Still scarred and affected by the relationship: it has made a deep impact in his soul.

The final minute finds the chorus swinging back in to reinforce the messages and underlying feelings, Every time the chorus comes in its gains new significance and quotability. While you will sing along with it; you know there is a hurt and anger being revealed. Greer is not just speaking from a personal viewpoint: this is a message to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. It is hard to listen to Deal with the Devil and not take something away from it. On the surface, it might seem like a pretty regular Pop-cum-R&B numbers. Look closely, and it is a lot more detailed and complex than that. Greer Wilson may be young but he has been making music for a while now. Every element of the song seems inconsistent with expectation. Maybe it is the maturity- perhaps the subversion of Pop tropes- but the song has a richness and depth to it. That might just be my interpretation but you need to listen to the song. It has summery vibes but at its heart looks at alluring girls who deceive men and toy with their hearts. This is a subject that has been portrayed in music a lot but Greer gives it his own edge and brings new life to the theme. The Boston musician is lauded in his hometown and is likely to be a bigger name in years to come. I am always sceptical when approaching musicians and the acclaim they get- some reviewers do get carried away. When it comes to Greer Wilson; the celebration and attention is more than justified.

Greer is among a sea of young artists that are all vying for critical acclaim and progression. So many seem to crumble under the weight of things and find it hard to compete. It is sad discovering a musician only to find they are daunted and buried in the music scene. Challenging to promote and safeguard every great artist that comes through- we must make the scene less pressurised and safer. I am not sure how we would go about it but too much talent is being wasted and quitting too soon. Maybe it is the sheer numbers that make that solution impossible. I am uncertain but do know a great artist when I see one. He is a young Bostonian that is making waves in the city and is someone who could crack the U.S. in general. He has the smouldering looks and grown-up, authoritative music to back it all up. If you look past the looks; a very credible and distinguished musician can be found. His subject matter might tread familiar, well-worn ground- the issues of bad love and self-discovery- but the subjects are covered with fresh insight and different angles. That is part of the challenge I guess. Love and relations are always going to be a commodity musicians stick with: how do you go about giving a fresh lick of paint to that milieu? It is a challenge but fortunately Greer straddles that hurdle and sticks in the imagination. From the first notes (of his tracks) he engages the listener and ensures they are hooked. I opened by looking at the great acts coming from Boston; the brilliant young artists that are emerging and the vitality of original music. Greer Wilson is in a city that has a great reputation and solid legacy. The press and musical community is supportive and big; there are plenty of venues and areas he could gig- chance for his songs to be heard by all sorts of people. I know Greer has a lot of love for Massachusetts but can see him emigrating to California in the future. He seems like a young man that would be enticed by the sea, sun and busy cities; his music sounds Californian, in an odd way. I think of Boston and look at harder, more Rock-based sounds. Greer’s smoother, more Pop/Soul-focused songs have a sunshine vibe to them but a rich emotional core and sensitivity.

Greer has only released a handful of singles- Blow Your Mind was a confident early step- and seems like there is a lot more work left in him. I can see his songs going together in an E.P. Each of his songs has a consistency and thread running through them. Maybe an E.P. would be out before the end of the year? There is a lot of food for thought from someone who is getting exposure and spotlight placed on him. Like I mentioned up-top; there is no need to put strain and too much weight on the young artists emerging. I like Greer’s way of working and the music he has created. There is modesty to him and a maturity. At the moment, he is content to get the music out and let the audience feedback; get his face out there and ensure (his songs) are heard far and wide. In the U.S., Greer is gathering steam and is liable to be a big star there very soon. Little is known about him in the U.K. but that will all change. We have many, similar artists like him here and there is a definite demand. London is an obvious place he could come play. There are so many different venues that would house him and put him on. Maybe he has other views and wants to stay homebound for now. Tracks like Deal with the Devil have radio appeal but more credibility than that. Sure, they could rule the airwaves and speak with the Pop-hungry core (young girls and teenagers) but there is enough depth to connect with older listeners and those who prefer their music edgier and less predictable. I have suggested an E.P. might be forthcoming but in reality, Greer has a golden opportunity ahead of him. His music is garnering a lot of traction and that leave various roads ahead. Maybe he goes touring and takes in the U.S. as much as possible. Perhaps he capitalises on the focus and does more promotion or interviews. He might be looking back at the studio and eager to lay down some more songs. Whichever route he takes, it will be exciting to see. Few young musicians are so instant and loveable as Greer Wilson.

I urge those reading to study Greer and listen to the music out there. This year keeps getting stronger and better for music. Every day seems to reveal a stunning new album or piece of news. In the next month, albums from Dinosaur Jr., Wild Beasts, and Blossoms are emerging. In September, Jamie T. unveils his new one. De La Soul are back as are DJ Shadow and The Avalanches. Such a strange and busy year already: the same can be applied for new musicians in the underground. Last year, there were some definite highlights but not enough. Conversely, 2016 has been much more prosperous and quality-laden. Greer is working tirelessly to ensure he is a young man you do not forget in a hurry. That will be difficult after you immerse yourself in Deal with the Devil.

NOT regret it.



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INTERVIEW: Nick J. Townsend of WEAK13




Nick J. Townsend of WEAK13



WEAK13 were founded in 1999 from the shared consensus of…

making a real impact on the scene. Adrift from the predictable, songs-by-numbers approach of many Metal contemporaries: the Kidderminster-based three-man crew is a Grunge-Metal-cum-Industrial-Punk outfit caused fevered chatting and hugely impressive reviews. Hardly surprising when you hear the music and the ethos the band abides by. There is a truthfulness and reality to their music not hidden behind rhetoric and fakery: they are a trio that gives it to you straight; insure their music gets right into the bones. Their album They Live showcased what immense talents we have in our midst. With low-tuned guitars and unorthodox performances; intelligent lyrics and insatiable, brother-bound performances: these guys will be headlining major festivals in no time to come. Fascinated to learn more about the bands lead vocalist and guitarist Nick J. Townsend set-aside some time to chat further…


Hi. For those unfamiliar with your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

Nick J. Townsend: To put it simply; WEAK13 are three men from the birthplace of Heavy Metal attempting to repair the damage in the music scene; remove the greedy talentless elitist artists; expose the blatant brainwashing and corruption displayed in modern mainstream media; prevent the dumbing down of the population encouraged by the entertainment industry and write the best Rock tunes. My name is Nick J. Townsend; I am the vocalist and guitarist; Wesley Smith plays bass and Neel Parmar is the drummer.

You chaps are based out of Kidderminster. The Black Country and West Midlands has always had a reputation for great Metal bands. What is the scene like these days up there?

The band began in a 13-letter town called Kidderminster; I was born there. Now WEAK13 is based in and around the home of Metal and the nerve centre of the creative county. In our opinion; the best original bands and songwriters are located here. The mainstream music industry, which is currently content with manufacturing and promoting watered-down versions of talented artists and real songs, is trying it’s hardest to pretend the area doesn’t even exist. The scene here is full of strong underground bands; the majority is self-governed and growing in popularity despite the wall imposed by the national and international music press that is heavily influenced by elitist control. Music journalists are programmed to ignore artists and bands, not from The Capital; dismiss artists from poorer areas in order to protect the fragile reputations of the over publicised mainstream artists whose roles appear to (be to) dumb down the population with mundane mediocre drivel. I believe that more than answers your question.

The band has undergone some shifts and changes over the years. Do you think the line-up you have now is the most solid and satisfied WEAK13 have been?

Yes for sure. The past few years have been the most important too. We spent three years writing and recording the first professional WEAK13 studio album They Live with engineer John Stewart from Birmingham band Eight Great Fears; he taught us how to home in on our strengths and we’ve become much better musicians and songwriters. The three of us have shown the fans how committed we are to the music; we’ve always tried to be ourselves; Neel and Wesley are two of the best musicians I’ve worked with and they take their craft very serious. I think all bands have to go through shifts and changes; we’ve just tried to adapt to whatever comes our direction. The They Live album is getting so many good reviews; a lot of folks notice one particular change and that’s that the overall sound of the band live and on record is more professional than ever before; songs such as Closure and Here Come the Drones have opened up a lot of critics’ eyes.

What types of bands and albums were influential to the band members growing up?

Speaking personally, I’d have to credit bands like Mudhoney; Nirvana, The Kinks; Gruntruck, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden- but the three of us all have very different music tastes. The Jimi Hendrix live album Hendrix in the West is one of the most powerful performances ever captured on a record

Your songs look at deep subjects- passing away and survival- whilst your guitars employ dark, low tunings. What were the reasons behind these dynamics?

In the early 1990s, there was a revival for unusual guitar tunings: lyrics were deep, music became less predictable and the songwriter was reborn. Before that we had the ‘80s Glam, Shred-Cock-Rock years filled with bands whose guitarists seemed to be just worn out technical players coated in make-up; selling guitar tuition videos despite having little or in some cases no actual ability to write songs that kids could relate to or identify with. When the Seattle scene exploded the music industry completely changed overnight; I remember it well. At the time, I was a bored teenager watching M.T.V.; it was obvious that the only music reaching out to my generation came from these strange looking new bands with meaningful lyrics; songs which didn’t insult your intelligence and imagery that opened your mind to new possibilities. This wave of new bands also had some characteristics that mirrored the iconic music heroes of the late-‘60s and the early-1970s. WEAK13 is pretty much a modern-day equivalent of that school of thought: there are traces of influence from the greats of the early 1990s encoded in our music; we’re not part of the current fairy tale state-controlled music scene; we’re writing about dark subjects that make a lot more sense right now to teenagers and adults. Unlike the majority of mainstream artists; we’re not writing songs about whoever’s got the biggest bottom.



I know you guys are hunting for label management at the moment? To any labels reading: what defines and distinguishes you guys from the pack?

That’s not entirely correct: I wouldn’t call it a hunt. Since the band has self-financed its own professional debut studio album with the help of loved ones and slaving all hours of the day; we’ve not actually spent much time searching for a label. We’ve instead just concentrated on our fans and further spreading the name of the band in new territories. We are still open to considering offers for sure but about four years ago we didn’t have much faith in the idea of some magical handout from a big label saving the day. Instead, we’ve worked hard ourselves with support from our good friends; made a seriously good album; created our own music videos; concentrated on the music and made sure we had a lot of fun during the process too. What distinguishes WEAK13 from the pack I’d say is that we aren’t lazy. The They Live album demonstrates what the band is capable of musically and we’ve even been told that it intimidates a lot of bands. Everyone that’s bought the They Live album seems very impressed. Songs like Ashes in Autumn have really surprised the critics as we’ve shown how versatile we can be as a band and also how we can handle delicate subjects too in a tasteful manner.



Tracks like Joke are defined by their political edges and humour. Given what is happening in the world right now, from terrorism to political upheaval, how does that resonate with the group? Is it inspiring new material?

Yes; it is inspiring to an extent but rather than us jump on any sugar-coated narrative, created by the mainstream news media. We conduct our own research first and attempt to send out an informative message of hope via the hard truths in our song lyrics. We tend to use satire rather than fearmongering. Currently, we’re writing and recording a lot of new material and investigating the subject of crisis actors; a disturbing topic and visible in abundance during mainstream news stories. There’s a lot of dark humour in the WEAK13 music video Joke and it’s a pretty sarcastic look at the world of politics; in it, we explore and make fun of political sex scandals, media sensationalism, the selfie culture and the illusion of democracy. I got the idea for the music video after watching a T.V. news channel feed which showed a reporter explaining how heads of state were using Nelson Mandela’s funeral as a photo opportunity; it was a ridiculous, disrespectful and selfish opportunity to generate media attention from the funeral of a public figure and overshadow it with the ‘Selfie’ buzz-word. I thought to myself: “If someone assassinated a president then those around would probably be more concerned with a selfie opportunity rather than care about what was taking place”. I then contacted some filmmakers close to my heart (Fifty Seven Studios in England) and we began working on producing the music video to Joke.

On that front: can we expect any E.P./album before 2016 is through?

Probably not. We spent three years making a strong 11-track record and I think it would be a rushed effort if we attempted to release another record before the end of 2016. What is more likely is the band producing and releasing a series of music videos that represent some of the tunes from the They Live album- whilst we work on recording the follow-up. We expect to make the next album bigger in scope. It’ll take as long as it takes to complete. The material we’ve got all ready for the next album in our opinion is very intense and has the potential to wake a lot of people up.

I see you are launching a new behind-the-scenes reality show. Is it going to be a Keeping Up with the Kardashians-type thing or a bit more raucous?

I have never watched an episode of the Kardashians’ fake reality T.V. exploits; maybe if they changed the show title to A Day in the Life of Some C**ts it would be more representational? No, ours is likely to be a polar opposite in regards to content; I’m assuming that the show about this self-appointed Royal Family of America documents their staged lives integrated with all the predictable farces which occur within the media that people have been programmed to believe are factual events. We’re just producing a small and simple series about three underdog musicians making music the hard way; without the support of the mainstream music industry. This is purely for the fans and supporters of WEAK13 but if anyone else enjoys it then that’s a bonus.

For being good interview sports; choose any song you like (apart from one of yours; I’ll feature one in the interview) and I’ll play it here.

Well; we are big supporters of underground music and independent artists so I’ll choose the song Kamikaze by the Dudley-based band, Buzzard. Their music video is on YouTube and it’s kinda like hearing a young version of Motörhead- I’m looking forward to seeing this band grow.



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FEATURE: The July Round-Up

The debut from Manchester-born, London-based Shura (her mother is Russian; Shura trailed for Manchester City as a youth) is a record of self-discovery and examination. After record labels came calling in 2014, her music was wetting the appetites of executives listening to her songs on YouTube, Shura suffered a panic attack. The resultant hospitalisation and fear (she was dying) has compelled the creation of Nothing’s Real. The album cover sees the heroine staring meaningfully: half her face is beautiful and natural; the other, black-and-white and metaphysical. These contrasts and dichotomy; that mix of outwardly confident and inwardly reserved define the album.

Nothing’s Real title cut crackles; introducing child-like echoes and a cacophony of sounds (and distortions). Frenzied and hypnotic; a disturbed, psychotropic dream that is oddly soothing. Happy to stay in the moment and let it envelop you: the song fades with whistles and a distant cry. Without warning, it knocks the cobwebs away with synthesisers and ‘80s Pop blasts- the likes of Madonna come to mind. Shura unleashes a stone-cold gem: her voice is commanding an alluring; the words intriguing and rich. Everything is fake and intangible; the heroine is unable to connect with herself; there are nerves around the chest and anxiety lurking. Nothing’s Real is one of those tracks that paints dark shades whilst wrapped around bright, punchy compositions and graceful vocals. An addictive song that sees its author at her most confused and open.

What’s It Gonna Be? documents two lovers separated by the miles (“I don’t want to be that girl”): the nature of commitment and jealousy come to the fore. Not willing to give her man up; make a big deal of this: an ultimatum is thrown down. A sassy and energetic song that rushes and dances; Shura opens her heart in technicolour, glorious fashion. If the title track recalled a hard encountered with a doctor- there was no medical basis in Shura’s panic attacks; idiopathic or imagined?- Touch’s longing and so-near-yet-so-far imagining is equally affecting and hard-hitting. If Kidz ‘n’ Stuff exposes Shura at her most downbeat (“Maybe I knew right from the start and that’s exactly how I broke us down”); her sublime delivery keeps the song engaging and utterly fascinating. The naivety of adult relationships is prescient- Shura wearing a cap backwards; riding the last train with shrapnel in her pocket. Indecision, by contrast, is a proud, woman-like declaration: “You’ve got my love, boy”.

Holding on to the good and looking back at a relationship that should have lasted the distance: What Happened to Us? is another revelatory and soul-baring song- “I’m no child but I don’t feel grown up” is among the album’s most mature lines. Before Tongue Tied we get a little interstitial: a child voice that bridges the album’s half-way point (a similar one opened the L.P.). Tongue Tied is lustrous, kitten-like and in-control: ghosts of Like A Prayer-era Madonna come out here. 2Shy bravely blends fragility and hesitation whilst swansong White Light is a delirious and screw-the-world anthem that shows Shura at her absolute apogee.

Whether a young girl walking through London streets and piecing together broken hearts; longing for passion or introverted; she is always fascinating, unique and beguiling.  Shura co-produced most of the album and shows more fortitude, talent and depth than most of her peers. Nothing’s Real not only introduces a wonderful young artist the scene: it ranks among 2016’s most memorable albums.


London’s Michael Kiwanuka took breaths away when he arrived in music in 2012. His debut, Home Again, contained vintage Soul and a sense of naturalness and ease- he was not trying to fit into moulds or please marketing men. Combining artists like Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye: the album was lauded for its warmth, contrasts and wisdom. Perhaps some urgency and direction were lacking. That album was produced by Paul Butler (of Indie-Rock band The Bees in his Isle of Wight basement studio) and gained Kiwanuka plaudits and fans.

Four years can do a lot for a musician. Rethinking, adaption, and consideration go into Love & Hate. If its title seems vague and well-worn; the same cannot be said of its content. Maybe Kiwanuka seemed slight and scattershot on his debut, not really sure who he was and what he wanted to say, but there is intention and urgency on the follow-up. Gone is the nervous and hesitant artist: in his stead is a leader and bold voice; a musician that knows what he wants to say and does it magnificently. Most musicians that open an album with a just-over-twelve-minute track would open themselves up for ridicule and raised eyebrows. Such is the assuredness and instinct of our hero that he turns in a transcendent and otherworldly opener- replete with wordless vocals; Progressive-Rock build and symphonic gracefulness.

Never pretentious or boring: Kiwanuka sets the scene and introduces us to a brave, bold new world: an album that is astonishing from the first track. “I can’t stand myself” is a proclamation backed by squalling guitars and gospel choir; the song reigns itself in and unveils an astonishing, confessional vocal. Black Man in a White World turns that recrimination outwards. Assessing discrimination and imbalance in our modern world: not only does the song address social issues; it draws people in with its hypnotising chorus and determined vocal performance.

I get the feeling something is wrong” is languidly (and with elongation) portrayed in Place I Belong. Kiwanuka looks around him and the people leaving: his voice deep, expressive and majestic. One of the most focused and intense songs on the album; you cannot help but fall for the chocolate-rich vocals and choral builds; soul and passion drips from the speakers in a sermon of lost relations and identity. The title track scores wordless, mellifluous vocal chorusing with a Marvin Gaye-nodding number that hopes for no more “pain” ,”shame and misery”. Transcendent, ethereal and awe-inspiring- our hero will not be taken down and defeated. One More Night finds our hero finding and improving himself; no more lies and indiscretions- it is a call-for-action and self-improvement. A lot of the album addresses faith and spirituality and does so with startling beauty and profoundness. Searching for “miles and miles”; someone to walk with him: the guitars crunch, the keys are simple and direct- the vocal could cause jealous sighs from Otis Redding; such is its power and prowess.

Michael Kiwanuka has expanded his lyrical and thematic grasp and in the process, created a near-masterpiece. Love & Hate is a huge leap from his debut; few musicians have produced such a turnaround. Not that Home Again was a meagre or average thing. Here is a musician that seems reborn and simply unstoppable. In a year that has produced some transformative and life-affirming albums: Kiwanuka might have just unveiled one to best them all.


Formed in New York in 2011; the Anglo-American band’s eponymous album was greeted with muted reviews. Part of the issue (with their debut) was a calculated move towards being cool and mainstream. Vocals that sat uneasily between The Libertines and The Strokes; songs that strayed close to the aforementioned (The Smiths register too): the lack of personality was a concern.

With the mixed reception in mind; the band has retooled and taken stock. Opener Troublemaker explodes from the speakers in a riot of riffs, beats, and sweat- a conscious move to bring the noise early and hard. Some debut-era issues remain; the vocals are struggling for identity whilst the choruses are too generic to define them as Drowners originals. That said- and with the opening track in mind- there is plenty of fun, swagger, and confidence to compensate. Human Remains nods to ‘80s Pop and ranks among the album’s finest offerings. Light and breezy from the start: it is impossible not to sway and be moved (literally) by the song. Disco ball reflections fall on a freckled face; a brief romance is unfolding; lead singer Matthew Hitt watches his girl from across the room- his words and expressions are heartfelt and vulnerable.

Songs like Trust the Tension are the clearest expressions of Drowners’ improvement. Here, they manage to be sensitive and thought-provoking whilst retaining cool, credibility and, most importantly, their own sound. Tight performances and anthemic choruses rule the album: On Desire is designed for the festival crowds and sunny evenings- arms aloft and beers in hand. Another Go is all chugging guitars and primeval drive; evocations of Is This It ‘Strokes come to mind- a summer jam that is guaranteed to fill the airwaves in the coming months.

Yes, the boys have created a much-improved sophomore album. True, they need to dispense with The Libertines-cum-The Strokes desires as it could well be another critical sticking point. Don’t Be Like That (the album’s closer) could have come further up the pack: the track order is not as considered and balanced as it should be- the record is a little too bottom-heavy if anything. These niggles aside and you have a worthy album from a band continuing to grow, learn and evolve. On Desire provides plenty of joy, quality, and nuance: what more could you want? Let’s hope, by album three, the rough edges have been smoothed. If that is the case; they could establish themselves as one of the finest guitar bands around.

Following the recent release of their highly anticipated sophomore album On Desire; Drowners are in the midst of an exciting year.  The quartet will kick off their string of shows on 10th October in Glasgow; taking their electrifying set through Manchester, Leicester; Liverpool, Newcastle; Leeds, Birmingham, and London- culminating in a show in Cardiff’s S.W.N. Festival on 22nd October. Following that, they move on to Europe for a selection of dates. Having toured with Arctic Monkeys and Foals; played festivals such as Coachella: the quartet’s imitable show has been finely crafted and is always unmissable.

Photo credit: Amanda Demme

The score to Captain Fantastic features all-new compositions by American composer, musician, and producer Alex Somers- who first rose to prominence in 2009 via his highly acclaimed ambient album collaboration Riceboy Sleeps. Somers has since gone on to tour with Jónsi and produced his debut album Go, with further production work for Julianna Barwick, Sin Fang, and the last two Sigur Rós records, Valtari and Kveikur.  Jónsi is featured on several tracks and the music sounds like seminal Sigur Rós, sweeping, lush orchestral soundscapes.  The film itself stars Viggo Mortensen and premiered at Sundance to great reviews.

Part of the film’s acclaim/success must come down to its soundtrack. A New Beginning, the current single from Captain Fantastic, is awash with lush strings and evocative soundscapes. The song bristles, yawns and awakens the senses. An instrumental that puts you in mind of a beautiful dawn: the perfect way to set the scene. Church is a stately and tender song consisting of sporadic notes and echo: a spectral number that puts the listener somewhere safe, empty and inspiring- the imagination cannot help run wild. Campfire and Funeral Pyre continue the themes of gentility and beauty- the former is especially stirring and evocative- whilst Funeral Pyre contains distorted vocals and a ghostly wail; a song that could easily sit on a Sigur Rós album.

In fact, it is the influence of Sigur Rós and Jónsi that makes the soundtrack so familiar and instance. Tracks like She Slit Her Wrists– whilst the title is alarming- juxtaposes gracefulness and danger; juddering electronics and heart-rending strings. At times, the album does lose a bit of individuality and nuance; especially towards the middle: songs like Dream remind you how much wonder and reflection can be discovered.

Keepsakes is, perhaps, the soundtrack’s pivotal score: an orchestral, emotional moment that takes the breath away. Little details and shades entwine; so primal on the one hand; gorgeous and child-like on the other. Anyone who hears the song and does not become affected and changed is clearly not listening hard enough. There are some numbers (Goodbye and Disappear especially) that are too slight and homogenised to really stand out in their own right. Those niggles aside and you have a soundtrack that gets inside the head and takes the listener somewhere magical.

You do not need to be a fan of Alex Sommers, Jónsi or Sigur Rós to appreciate the myriad themes, ideas, and emotions contained within the album. In a hectic time filled with danger and unpredictability: we need to embrace something warm, nourishing and escapist. For that reason, Captain Fantastic’s score is the perfect answer. Switch off the nerves and clasp something colourful and breath-taking to the bosom. Alex Somers, who is the boyfriend of Jónsi; he lives in Iceland, has marked himself out as one of the film world’s most accomplished and unique composers. Let’s hope we hear much more from him very soon!

Guilty was recorded in January 2015 during her month-long residency at Somerset House, Recording in Progress, in which audiences were given the opportunity to see Harvey at work with her band and producers in a purpose-built studio. The Hope Six Demolition Project (her ninth studio album) has picked up emphatic reviews and proves the 46-year-old, Dorset-born musician has lost none of her step and power.

Guilty was released on Wednesday and was not included on the album. Producer Flood explained how the song felt outside of (the rest of the material). Harvey, Flood and John Parish (co—producer) decided to omit it. The track is propelled by bellicose percussion and a determined vocal. “What’s he doing with that stick?” is a mantra that gets into the brain.

Which one is guilty?” is the rejoinder that gets the listener curious. Whether looking at global inequality or the nature of justice- drone strikes by the U.S. compelled the song- the imagery is unforgettable.

Performed in a lower register to previous albums/songs: Guilty is a haunting and powerful song that is a perfect companion to The Hope Six’. If “Power to the predator/The Grim Reaper/Grainy little suspects running for shelter” leaves little doubt: the same could be said for PJ Harvey- an artist who is still capable of inspiring others and remaining essential. A rare talent who can write political songs (take note, Muse!) and sound credible and compelling.

PJ Harvey tours Europe in October; she plays in the U.K. at the end of the month: a chance to hear her in the natural environment; up-close and personal. For those who adored The Hope Six Demolition Project: Guilty is an essential and potent mandate- from one of the most fascinating musicians of our generation.


It seems like Australian songwriter Courtney Barnett came out of nowhere. The music world was not expecting anything as urgent, unique and invigorating as Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (her debut; released in March 2015). Of course, Barnett has been making music for years. From performing in Rapid Transit- between 2010-’11- to appearing on various works- including How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose (a combined package of her first and second E.P.s)- it was not a surprise, perhaps.

Sometimes I Sit and Think’ was the culmination of a year’s writing- Barnett presented the songs to her band a week before recording; in order to capture the live feel- the vocals for the album are the first time Barnett sang them out loud. Surreal and funny one moment; down-to-earth the next: her debut captured the hearts (and attentions) of the world’s press.

The video for Elevator Operator (directed by Sunny Leunig)- the album’s opener- has just been released and shows all her skills in one place. Thudding percussion and prehensile drive soundtrack a song of everyday simplicity and relatability. Its hero, Oliver Paul, drops Vegemite down his shirt; he dreads work- “Feeling sick at the sight of his computer“- and represents the modern-day, consumer dread- those who live to work; no fun to be had.

Descriptive, evocative lyrics- “A tortoise shell necklace between her breasts”; garnishing a lady looking Oliver up and down with a “Botox frown“- create smiles and sighs. A wonderfully rich songwriter: the track is part-anthemic singalong; part-suburban poetry. Barnett’s catchy coda- “Don’t jump little boy/don’t jump off that roof”- is sympathetic and earnest- to a man simply idling; on the roof to get perspective.

Elevator Operator encapsulates Courtney Barnett at her finest. That loveable, unfettered voice; a tight band performance: lyrics that build pictures, mini-dramas, and witty vignettes. Barnett visits London next week- playing Somerset House on Thursday; Lattitude two days later- make sure you see her. For anyone claiming Rock music is dead (or dying): listen to Exhibit A and think again!

Los Angeles’ Jillian Rose Banks (A.K.A. Banks) released her debut album Goddess back in 2014. Upon arrival, the positive reviews stacked up; impressed by her take on Fiona Apple-esque raw revelations and FKA twigs-like minimalist R&B (albeit more restrained and grounded). Although her shots at ballads were largely forgettable: the diverse range of sounds and moods across Goddess saw the album climb to number 12 in the U.S. charts.

If the confessional style of Lorde and Lykke Li bleed into the lyrics; the likes of Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu could be detected in the vocals- an inimitable fusion of vulnerable and empowered. Maybe a little formulaic and generic at times: the dramatic, emphatic Beggin for Thread; Brain’s cut-and-putdown; the long-distance relationship stress of Waiting Game– plenty of promise and personality.

Banks’ sophomore album is released later this year and its title cut, Fuck With Myself, shows a different side to the 28-year-old. Instead of mimicking the times and fitting into the vanguard: the opening seconds to the song are instantly memorable. Nervy, glitchy electronics and tense beats see the heroine in confident mood (“I got two diamonds and a feather/Gimme three reasons why we ain’t together”). Banks’ voice switches between barely-there purr and bespoke vocal intonations- recalling Kate Bush during her Never for Ever peak. The song’s anti-hero has caused hurt and seems to be plunging the depths (“I caught you fishing through the fodder”); Banks is giving him an imperious dressing-down.

More dramatic, individual and compelling than anything on Goddess: Fuck With Myself still recalls shades of Aaliyah and FKA twigs at times. Instead of replicating these influences, they are employed as a point d’appui. An enchanting glimpse into her sophomore album: the young American’s sighs, whispers and proclamations are as sensual as they are alarming. The song’s accompanying video, in its twisted, Chris Cunningham-meets-Bjork dark quirk, perfectly backs the track’s marriage of coarse confessionals and empowered mandates. Banks is back and she is a woman on a mission!





E.P. REVIEW: Chapter and Verse- The Wolves Back Home



Chapter and Verse



The Wolves Back Home




The Wolves Back Home Cover.jpg

The Wolves Back Home can be purchased here:


The New Breed9.5


Shelf Life– 9.5

Electric Tongues– 9.5

Slave– 9.6


 Tunnels; Electric Tongues; Slave




13th July 2016


AS dependable as turmoil and unease is in the modern world…

so too is the rise of a great London band. I will dip into the London band market- something I have done a lot- and look at Post-Hardcore bands and the day-to-day experiences of being in a band. Every publication and journalist have their tips and recommendations for bands this year. The Amazons, Baby Strange, and Estrons, between them, Punk/Rock vibes; Pretty Vicious are young upstarts that are worth your attention. Extend it outwards and The Bohicas and The Carnabys employ enough soul-searching and ‘60s-sounding Post-Punk magic to seduce critics. It is quite subjective when you think about it. There are so many great bands in London; it is hard taking it all in. Depending on your tastes and preferences, you are pretty much covered. I tend to find too many bands are proffered without just cause and rationale. Critics are too keen to promote bands who have a vague spark about them: it leads me to wonder what their criteria are and how low their expectations are. There are some journalists that have their ear to the ground and seek out the most original and striking groups. Bands like Pumarosa are at the higher end of the spectrum. The five-piece fuses spacey, psychedelic and Dance music strands together into a heady and feet-buckling cocktail. The future looks bright for them; a great band that has a very unique and special sound. London has so many corners, avenues, and neighbourhoods. Even if you spent your life in East London, you would be spoiled for bands and wonderful music. Big cities have that creative vibe and cosmopolitan blend. London, especially, is a great place to make music and absorb creativity. Whilst the capital is strangulating slightly; getting too packed and expensive: it is not putting everyone off. In spite of the expense, compaction, and rush: it is the natural place for those who want to create stunning music.

Chapter and Verse hail from East London and are clearly finding a lot of motivation and inspiration from the area. It is, to my mind, the best part of the capital for new music. The quartet has burst onto the scene and is one of the most explosive and hungry bands you’ll hear this year. Before I continue my point- and raise a couple more- it is worth meeting Chapter and Verse:

Josh Carter: Lead Vocals

Darren Gosling: Guitar

Jonny Hopwood: Bass/Backing Vocals

Ash Morton: Drums/Backing Vocals

CHAPTER AND VERSE might seem like fresh faces to the scene, but with their explosive debut EP ‘The Wolves Back Home’ these East London boys are hitting the UK like they’re veterans. With a raw, energetic twist on the alt-rock genre, Chapter and Verse released their debut single ‘Shelf Life’ in March 2016 and sold out their first ever show in less than a few weeks. Now with a relentless tour ethic, the quartet are quickly becoming one of the bands to watch this year.

Formed in early 2015, the four boys came together with an immensely diverse taste but a unified vision of creating honest, passionate and hard-hitting tunes. The result is a cocktail of noisy alt-rock that has been likened to the sound of Circa Survive, Crooks UK and Saosin.

‘The Wolves Back Home’ will be self released by the band through all usual outlets and supported with an extensive touring schedule – all handled by the band themselves.

It would be nice to see the boys get a label deal and find someone who can help handle their affairs. I have affection for groups that have a D.I.Y., autonomous approach to their music. So many modern acts (mainstream mainly) have legions of producers, agents and support crew handling everything they do. At times, you wonder whether said band have any control or say in their careers at all. One of the great things about a take-everything-on tactic is you get to make music you want to make; tour where you want and plan your diary. There is a flip-side that means things can get overwhelming and too hectic. Most fledgling bands have to cope with everything themselves until they gain a reputation and catch the ear of management. Chapter and Verse and expertly handling their music at the moment but one suspect they would benefit from a few pairs of hands. The boys are so busy right now; a bit of pressure release would give them breathing space and a chance for relaxation. That something to ponder, but for now, it is worth investigating the Post-Hardcore bands in the U.K. Scanning the mainstream/established scene and everyone from A Day to Remember and Alexisonfire are making a mark. Add Pierce the Veil and La Dispute and you have a variation there. Post-Hardcore is becoming very popular right now.

Not that it has suddenly exploded and come from nowhere. Maybe a reaction to world affairs or a frustration at modern music: the genre is attracting a lot of bands. Orlando’s Sleeping with Sirens; Kentucky’s Emarosa and our very own Oceans Eat Alaska are among the finest of the breed. Punk is always going to be a popular genre and new bands are finding fresh ways of reinterpreting its grit, passion, and raw edges. I feel there is a rallying against the stilted, committee-led Pop stars and beyond-dull raft of Folk artists around. Of course, there are plenty of great acts in these types of music: my general feeling is (Hardcore/Post-Hardcore bands) are tiring of colourless, soft music: keen to inject vitality, atmospheric and drama into the boiling pot. Many will have cliché views of Post-Hardcore: a lot of screaming and noise with no real nuance or composure. Since the ‘80s- when the genre started to take a hold- it has been growing and expanding. The San Diego scene rose in the early-to-mid-1990s and led to a Post-Hardcore movement under the Gravity Records label. Since then, the genre has incorporated more sub-genres and become more detailed and wide-ranging. Not just taking Punk/Grunge as its basis; modern-day examples lace Power-Pop, Sludge-Metal and Krautrock to unleash something cross-pollinating and beautiful. The Frankenstein’s monster approach to music-making is not as reckless and undisciplined as it seems on paper. Current Post-Hardcore bands not only want to appeal to a wide range of listeners; they are pushing boundaries and ensuring their music is as deep and varied as possible. Even if you are not a fan of ‘traditional’ Post-Hardcore; Chapter and Verse are guys that make it accessible and tangible; they do not blow you away with force and alienate.

The E.P. The Wolves Back Home announces them as a huge proposition and a band to clutch to the chest. I know the chaps have a busy and itinerant next few months ahead of them. So far, the gang has taken in Rebellion (Manchester) and Mother’s Ruin in Bristol. To launch their E.P. they rocked The Old Blue Last in London. Yesterday they were up in Glasgow ensuring Nice ‘N’ Sleazy was appropriately sweaty, dirty and aghast. After travelling hundreds of miles in the last few days- from London to Doncaster to Glasgow- the four-piece will want a second to decompress and recharge. Many underestimate the rigmarole and strains of music today. It is not as idealistic and simple as you would conceive. As Chapter and Verses have shown; there is a lot of graft and grind required. They love performing to the people but the toll it takes and the work they have to put it- it is enough to take it out of the best of us. I have seen so many great bands burn out and crumble under the pressure that is put before them. When it comes to Chapter and Verse; you know they will straddle the reality checks and tiring days. Not only does their music ensure they have a solid and loyal fanbase: their attitude, determination, and discipline means they will remain and grow. Touring duties are done for a little bit; they will be heading back from Glasgow and assessing their future. The reception and love The Wolves Back Home has garnered mean they will not have a lot of time to rest.

The New Breed kicks things off with a rude awakening.  The song brings oceanic and water-themed metaphor to the surface. Prophesising sailors and guardians of the ocean are trying to lead our heroes astray. “Waves won’t collapse” it is said if you follow the light; instead of what’s in your head. A sinewy, dark figure waves you (the hero) from the harbor with a “warm smile”; turning his back and asking us to mourn for “your lost soul”. Following a rictus and riot of strings and beats; a heavy, wave-crashing slam that gets the head spinning- the band keep is calm and fascinating in the early stages. The song’s lyrics are a lot deeper and more intelligent than the majority of acts out there. Story-like and scenic; literary and mythical: each listener has their own visions and interpretation of events. “You’re not the one we need” is chanted with intensity and anger; turning against preachers, false idols and lying voices; the fascination levels reach the ceiling. Maybe rebelling against impure friends and those that lie- there are so many options for interpretation and truth. A great band that delivers urgency and obliqueness; one cannot help but draw conclusions and paint their own story. Words of madness and stupidity are swirling; we have to (as the chorus documents) have faith “in the new breed”. Maybe musicians of the latest generation are being attested. Stop proclaiming and heralding those who are fake, shallow and sort-lasting. Perhaps critics and labels pay too much attention to those underserving. Whatever the real truth behind the song; its teeth-baring drive and slamming chorus cannot be ignored. Guitars spiral and dive; the percussion and smashes through boulders; the bass guides and brings the layers together. Our hero’s voice is strong and intense to the last; passionate and forceful. Disbelievers said the storm “could never bring you home”; vessels struggle and vivid imagery is unfolded. Kudos must be given to the band performance which is tight and magnetic to the end. A dramatic and bold opening number that perfectly introduces the band to us.

After that riot of scenery and impassioned delivery comes Tunnels. Grungy, low-down guitar slam fades up into a head-banging riff for the masses. Electrifying and rollercoaster right away: every listener will be immersed and drawn into the song. Our hero feels it is hard not to look back and to better times perhaps. Claiming there is “nothing to show” from current endeavours; there is a light in the tunnel and a hope. A song that looks at insecurity and a sense of anxiety: there is, as the song says, a comfort knowing others feel “lost in their own skin”. From the oblique and novel-like intrigue of the opener: here is something more emotional, personal and direct. Crisp and clear production means the vocals are decipherable and intelligible; ensuring the lyrics register and everyone can appreciate them. The “soothing rush of comfort” that comes with the realisation (we are not alone) seems like a mantra Chapter and Verse live by. We all feel alone and unsure at the best of times. Knowing others feel the same can be a comfort and compensation. “We’re no longer alone in our own homes” is a line that could have a variety of meanings. Perhaps being under surveillance and control; feeling suffocated in the mass of people; not having time to ourselves.

Walking and Smiling!.jpg

It was a sentiment that stood out to me and seems to define the song. Modern life and its insecurities mean few of us feel completely relaxed, safe and secure. Given recent political and world events: Tunnels is a song that sums up general consensuses but provides a suggestion of unity and fight-against-the-oppressors. Not just reserved to lyrical intelligence and passionate vocals: when the instruments stand alone; you see another side to the band. Beats tease and slam; the guitars are vibrant and louche; the bass swells and bounces- a perfect punctuation and parable that ties the song’s chapters together. Sceptics and critics poke at the hero; there is that sense of repression and exhaustion throughout the track. One eye “on the backdoor” adds more nerves and unsettled drama to the song. The lead runs on empty for miles and is buried under the weight of things: a chorus that gets in the head and can get the crowds united in song. The words tumble and the song gets hotter and harder: the vocal more animalistic and angered as everything starts to sink in. It is perhaps worse getting what you want sometimes as the hero explains. By the end, you sit back and try and take it all in. Such is the primal urge and anger of the song; the mixture of emotions and feelings. Another stunning song that shows just how accomplished the band is.

Shelf Life is the middle child that is not awkward or second-nature in any sense. The lead is in a cold sweat and has a burden on his shoulders. A selfish heroine is making the same digs and digging a grave for the hero. Perhaps a relationship that has restarted and ended: two people who have a history and unable to break a pattern. Promising never to do this again; our boy is being cheated and punished once more. Like The New Breed: here, we get a song that could have several meanings and comes equipped with provocative possibilities. On the face of things, you assume a relationship is being focused upon. Never using clichés and obvious lines: the band is masters when it comes to story and original sentiments.  Selling out his friends for lifetimes; his hands are sore and his head is aching. Not a child anymore; these ideas and lines start to reveal more of the truth. Perhaps an immature and dangerous love is being documented. A relationship that is inherently damaged and deceitful; our front-man is betraying friends and focusing on the wrong people. Backed by his brothers-in-arms; the composition swells and strikes with appropriate fever and focus. Ensuring the E.P.’s momentum and consistency remains sharp and intact; Shelf Life is a song that has radio-play potential. I have mooted the possibility of Post-Hardcore transcending beyond cobweb-strewn cells into the mainstream’s regard. Shelf Life is a track that is accessible to the masses but pleasing to the archetypes of the genre- bona fide fans who appreciate the heritage, edginess, and cool-ness of the music.

N I C E / N / S L E A Z Y 
Tonight in Glasgow for @pshiftband's EP launch! Get down and show us you Scots do it!
📷 - @jaywennington 
#chapterandverse #thewolvesbackhome #nicensleazy #glasgow #london #uk #paradigmshift #live #newnoise #newmusic #newband #neweverything #ffo #circasurvive #saosin #emarosa #letlive #malloryknox #bmth #giglife

The best acts are those who can make music that has mass appeal but never feels sold-out, watered-down or untrue to their ethos. “I thought this was going to be everything” the hero screams- as though he is directing it at his girl. The E.P.’s cover features a blurry-faced hero doing up his shirt whilst his wolf-headed girl points a gun to the back of his head. You feel Shelf Life is the sonic apparition and representation of the cover art. Perhaps the defining chapter from Chapter and Verse: mistakes have been made and incongruous bonds formed; mistakes and lamentable decisions that are breaking our man in two. A sorry state of affairs has unraveled and a relationship (that seemed long-lasting on paper) has dissipated and crumbled. Again, the instrumentation adds contour and flavor to the song. The bass stands out with its grumble and rumble. In fact, the entire band is on top form and gives the song a tight-knit sound. Selling out his heart “with punchlines”; our man flees west and packs his cases. After the ruins of the night before have been stepped over: the recrimination and accusations come through sharply. The girl has been a lifeline that was once an anchor; now she is a Siren that has caused irrevocable damage. Unable to put emotions onto paper: the composition goes a long way to defining the pain and confusion. If the hero seems expendable and lost; there are signs he can rebuild and find clarity again. As the song wraps up; I wonder whether it is strictly relationships being looked at or the nature of friendships. Clearly, deceit and mistrust are being looked at but one wonders how far that extends.  Another song that gets the brain working; you need a few listens to understand the truths being laid out. Benefiting the body, soul, and blood: Shelf Life is another jewel from a shining crown.

L O U N G E / 4 1 
Workington tonight with @veragraceband and @thedistantnorth ! 
#chapterandverse #thewolvesbackhome #lounge41 #workington #veragrace #thedistantnorth #newmusic #newnoise #newband #neweverything #london #uk #love #ffo #saosin #biffyclyro #donbroco #malloryknox #letlive #giglife

Electric Tongues is the penultimate gambit and opens rather unexpectedly. Soft and romantic pianos greet the song and beckon a soothing and tender vocal. Keeping his hands by his side and remaining steady; it seems like a particular girl is being sung about. Walling to cherish her (if only for the night) you can feel that sense of longing and affection. On that note, the combination of guitar strings- which grow headier through the opening maneuver- let you know something harder and heavier is waiting around the corner. The percussion rolls and dives; the piano continues to seduce whilst the guitar threads a tapestry and gives the song fluidity and movement. Together, the band creates something huge by being sparse and minimalist. Well-chosen, intelligent compositional notes give Electric Tongues a grandeur and sense of occasion without resorting to ecstatic vocals and primeval performance. “You’re better than I” and “I can’t dance” are sentiments that put my thoughts back in relationship arenas. Previous tracks across the E.P. have been blame-shifting and self-assessing; acid and vitriol have been common ghosts. Here, we have something more refined, uplifting and affirmative. Our hero wants to spend the night with the girl; embrace the moment and not ruin his chance. There are no rose-tinted glasses; just a man who is laying his heart on the line. Chapter and Verse show they can be sensitive and open without seeming out of their depth.

The Wolves Back Home benefits from this richness and variety: Electric Tongues is one of the most vital cuts on the record. Past the half-way mark, when ideas of recklessness and youthful abandon are suggested, the song tightens and becomes more inflamed- perhaps in tandem with the heated sexuality and bedroom eyes the song is laying out there. The band steps out and deliver an aural assault on the senses. Combining like a decades-old band that has conquered the world: that confidence and instinct makes the song sound enthralling and spectacular. When our hero comes back to the microphone, there are some regrets and doubts. His bleary eyes are clearing; he tries not to wake the sleeping girl. Perhaps too forward or ill-advised in his conquest: the morning after is a severe hangover. Given the song’s title; I was thinking about social media flirtation and how we create false expectations/relationships on Facebook, for instance. Chapter and Verse are wonderful when it comes to second-guessing and subverting expectations. Electric tongues are “just for the ride”- a myriad of images and possibilities come to fruition- and there are deep-seated regrets for sure- the girl should never have been by his side. Starting as a romantic and hopeful song has twisted into something rotten and devilled.

Ending proceedings is Slave. Sparing no expense when it comes to setting the mood: the song gets underway instantly; keen to deliver its messages. Our hero proclaims: “You don’t know me at all”. Maybe directed at an ally or friend; an acquaintance who thinks he has him sussed. Salt is being tossed in the wounds and a lot of pain comes out. Making sure The Wolves Back Home ends with a bang: Slave is the most intense, concentrated and memorable track from the collection. The chorus, in particular, is quite vivid and quotable. “Slave/You got what you came for” gets the imagination working overtime. The lead urges him/her to think slowly: this might be the last chance they get. Oblique but endlessly fascinating; what do those lyrics refer to? It is a tough one but a conundrum one is willing to challenge. It is in this song where all the band’s merits and components are galvanised. The composition is the most compelling of the E.P. Sounding like a Bond theme; it has espionage danger and an anthemic quality to it. Perhaps Chapter and Verse would be available to score the next Bond film? The guitars are at the most viper-like and biting; the percussion boulder-like and meaty; the bass precise and melodic. The lead’s vocal is at its most passionate and nuanced here. His words talk of endurance and evolution: a need to move on and grow perhaps? Each new revelation pushes the story on but causes me to question my motives and interpretation. Slave’s anatomy brings respite, river-side contemplation and watery graves together. A dark and unsettled song that finds the hero wrestling with consciousness and his conscience- he is betraying the ones he loves, it seems. The band have been storing up some special fireworks are ready to release them. That compositional quality keeps glistening. Basslines remind me of Rage Against the Machine’s eponymous debut, and for that matter, does the song itself. The lead speaks candidly and directs his words to the subject. They do not know him and are playing him for the fool. Again, one wonders whether a sweetheart or friend (former maybe) is causing this upset and anger.

Mixing Post-Hardcore bands with R.A.T.M. and Muse (to an extent) and you have a song that signs the E.P. off with aplomb. Another track that could get the crowds heaving and voices shouting clear. It never rushes or seems too eager to please. The composition takes care to work its magic; lacing in emotions, shades and ideas while the vocal is restrained for the most part. Even when our hero is casting aspersions; there is never histrionics or any wild-limbed tantrum- just a controlled man keeping his emotions in-check. That said, there is a natural explosion point that sees everything become a little too much. Hoping he can stay sane; all that tension is released and the song kicks up another gear. The chorus proclaims this is the last chance to evolve; the slaves got what they came for. I keep wondering what that alludes to and the true origins of those thoughts. The gift and wonder of Chapter and Verse is they leave absolute clarity to their own pens; each listener is free to take the song’s lyrics where they may. Compositions and vocals and more direct and obvious but always imbued with complexity and originality. I have mentioned Rage Against the Machine who are synonymous with their intelligence, innovation and kinetic bond. Chapter and Verse seem like a British, Post-Hardcore equivalent: perfectly explained and realised on Slave.

I have looked at the rise of Post-Hardcore and how conducive London is to creative inspiration. These twin charges will continue unabated. Our capital is leading the race with regards innovative and exceptional music. Other cities (Manchester especially) are always going to be crucial but London is going from strength to strength. As the city becomes more cosmopolitan, variegated and busy; it is having a positive effect on musician. Vibing from the mixture of faces, races and places: the new wave of artists is hardly struggling for inspiration. When it comes to subject matter, if you are based in boring towns and villages, you are a bit stifled and stuck. Big, busy cities have plenty of life and action; it spikes the imagination and is just what a musician needs. On that thought, venues and opportunities to perform are wide ranging and vast. Fellow bands/artists help to promote their city-mates and these aspects together has scene London’s music is among the world’s finest. I have over-simplified it but perhaps it needs no further explanation and insight. I love the best Rock/Indie and Alternative bands out there but often feel like there is something missing. Maybe not as bold, adventurous and memorable as they could be- the spirit yearns for something a little different and more explosive. Step up Chapter and Verse who come ready with a suitcase-load of fireworks, dynamite and fire. If you are nervous approaching the shores of Post-Hardcore then have no fear. The London clan is not people who want to appeal to their cliché and followers- exclude others and be seen as a niche act. Splicing a variety of genres into their Post-Hardcore base: a stadium-sized band that are capable of becoming mainstream artists of the future. It is lamentable certain genres have not gained full recognition and have to struggle beneath the surface. Chapter and Verse’s The Wolves Back Home is a professional and immediate E.P. that hits you upon first listen. Across the five tracks, you are enthralled, compelled and overcome by the power, quality and performances from the London band. Few acts have registered as hard to me as Chapter and Verse. It does not matter if you’re a Post-Hardcore fan; Chapter and Verse are a band for the people. Their touring log has been full and it will get fuller as time goes on. It may be the debut E.P. but The Wolves Back Home sounds like a creation from an established, long-standing band. There aren’t many that can release an E.P. that appeals to every sense and part of the body. Unusually, you see weak links and lesser numbers. When it comes to ticking all the boxes and touching every listener; Chapter and Verse…

DO that perfectly.



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TRACK REVIEW: Laura Roy- Don’t Chase



Laura Roy



Don’t Chase




Don’t Chase is available at:

February 2016

Pop; R&B


Vancouver, Canada

The E.P. Laura Roy is available via:


Don’t Chase

Looking the Other Way

Bright Lights

Full Moon

Take Me Down



ANOTHER week has passed and we find ourselves in the midst of yet…

more unsettlement and terrorism. It is almost ‘expected’ that we will wake to hear devastating news somewhere around the world. It seems like an odd thing to open a review with: music is that sanctuary that allows us a place to hide and reflect. It is not often I get to investigate a Canadian artist- I used to a lot but have not done lately- so it is great to discover another tremendous Canadian musician. Before I come to her, it is worth looking at the best Canadian acts around; the strength of current artists emerging- finishing by looking at the importance of starting the musical education young. In terms of the country’s legendary acts: everyone from Rush and Arcade Fire have called Canada home. I have said it in previous reviews but is remains true: a nation that continues to promulgate and create some of music’s very best. Of course, we could look at the historic acts and what they have brought to the world. In terms of the modern acts emanating from here: we should keep our eyes out for a few prime examples. The Franklin Electric are based out of Montreal and have been tipped as one of Canada’s most exciting young acts. A hook-laden sound that mixes Indie and Folk together has seen the ensemble collect rave reviews. Reuben and the Dark and Brave Shores are worth spending more time with. The latter, in particular, are renowned for their insanely catchy songs and brother-sister connection. HIGHS have been growing in stature since touring with Twin Forks and Cold War Kids last year.

The Toronto band are another example of just what is lurking within Canada. I use the word ‘lurking’ because it seems almost conspiratorial. I have been lamenting the fact certain nations are overlooked by the British media. We are keen to proffer homegrown examples but rarely expand into foreign territory. Sure, the U.S. is featured heavily but why not Canada? Laura Roy is based out of Nova Scotia, which is a area many of us would not normally think of (when it comes to great music). Hillsburn are one of those bands that blow you away live. Not an opinion reserved to the locals: powerful visuals and contagious vocals; pummeling energy and a kinetic band bond mean their shows are the stuff of legends. The Stanfields are stalwarts of the European and Canadian scene: having been performing for years; they are a native group that provides sweat, memorability and a raucous night. The Town Heroes have picked up awards in Nova Scotia and it is not hard to see why. The guys rock hard and are among the most consistent and engaging acts in Canada. The Jimmy Swift Band, The Trews, and Gypsophilia are a trio of Nova Scotia acts, but in truth, it is the tip of the iceberg. Unless you are in close proximity or well-connected across social media, how do you ever hear about these acts?

It might be a debate for another day but the factor remains: Canada is a nation that should be put in the spotlight; their musicians are among the finest in the world. Laura Roy hardly does much to dissuade my opinions. Canada has quite a few hot Pop-cum-R&B stars: many of them will not linger long in the mind. The last few years have been productive and busy for Roy. Battling to make a name for herself; there seems to be no stopping her right now. One of those musicians that connects with producers and gets herself out there: small wonder she has resonated and caught the eye of some big names. Before I carry on my points; let me introduce Laura Roy to you:

Laura Roy is a singer/songwriter based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A captivating songwriter, vocalist and college music graduate, Laura has shared the stage with the likes of Canadian RnB sensation Jully Black, JRDN, Ludacris, Rakim and Freddy Gibbs. Voted “Best R&B Artist” by the Coast Magazine, she is known for her powerhouse pop-RnB vocals. Laura is also a four-year attendee of the prestigious Gordie Sampson Songcamp, put on by the Grammy-winning writer in Nova Scotia every summer, and was invited to participate in songwriting camps via The Songwriter’s Association of Canada in Montreal and Toronto in 2015.

During these camps, Laura had the opportunity to write and connect with producers and writers like Rob Wells (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande), Alex Greggs (N’Sync, Lady Gaga, Mad Decent), Caitlyn Smith (Meghan Trainor, John Legend, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum and Garth Brooks, Cassadee Pope), and Gordie Sampson himself (Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill). Needless to say, Laura has come a long way since selling her first EP out of her backpack at the age of 16 on school lunch breaks. The project contains 6 songs infused with synth-pop, 90’s r&b vibes with soulful melodies and catchy hooks, she adds “I’ve been working on the EP for the last year and a half. I’ve tried to make sure the music represents my experiences in a way that feels true to who I am as an artist right now”. Written and recorded in Toronto and New York City with producers Adam King, Joel Stouffer (Dragonette) and Ari Leff (Epique), Laura Roy’s debut EP is now available on iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music. 

I have waxed lyrical about 2016’s best albums. Every month seems to unveil treasure and surprise. Shura is the latest artist who has really caught my ear. Her debut album, Nothing is Real, is primed to ride high in the charts this weekend. A singer that gets into the heart and distinguishes herself from the raft of Pop/mainstream acts. Languid and introverted on the one hand; theatricality and presence on the other. The East London star is someone that has hit the ground running seemingly. Inspired by Janet Jackson and Madonna: her music hits the heart and puts you in mind of the greats of Pop. Away from her, there is ample evidence to suggest this year will be a good one. The past few years have seen determinable and varied quality. This year, something remarkable has happened. I am not sure what has motivated it- perhaps this is the sign of things to come? – but wonderful albums keep tumbling forth. Laura Roy is working hard to ensure she ranks among the mainstream’s finest.  Like Shura; Roy avoids clichés and makes old subjects feel new and revitalised. A mix of confidence, playfulness and fragility remain; a blend that feeds into the music. It is Roy’s personality and drive that comes to the surface with intensity. Many artists start music quite late (or develop a passion for it late) and seem rather inexperienced and uncertain. Growing up around a wide range of artists and sounds: Roy’s early life and childhood compelled her to write her own songs. I myself became obsessed with music from a young age. I feel that everyone should involve themselves during childhood: there is no excuse to overlook and ignore wonderful music these days. The love and connection Roy experienced through music can be heard in her latest offerings. Her eponymous E.P. has already picked up some lucrative and praise-heavy reviews. From the U.K. to Australia: journalists and fans have been queuing up to lend their opinions. We get that blend of familiar and unique with Roy.

When it comes to assessing Roy’s current endeavours; it is worth looking back and seeing where she started. Older tracks like Tonight and Getting Back to Loving Me have a lot in common with Laura Roy material. The vocal and sound is quite similar and no radical reinvention was required. The subject matter stays close to issues of love and commitment; embracing what you have and honesty in general. The biggest difference from the older material and current offerings is the conviction and confidence that emanates through. I say this about a lot of artists but it rings true here. You can detect that step-up and leap forward. More assured and convincing: Laura Roy is the moment the heroine announces herself as a true artist and future star. Maybe it is the subject matter or production; the time that has passed but you can definitely detect a change and growth. Her E.P. brims with wonderful songs and instant smashes. No filler material to be found; it is a record that is not designated only to Pop and R&B lovers. The coming years will be interesting to see. Whether Roy keeps with her sound and expands it somewhat, we can only guess. A lot of the song themes have familiarity and predictability to them but never presented in a tired and obvious way. Over time, it may be hard breathing new life and invention into topics of love, heartache and the like. I, for one, will be excited to see how Laura Roy evolves and changes as an artist. For now, we have an extraordinary talent who is starting to hit her peak form. Laura Roy is an E.P. that can perfectly soundtrack any day and season. It has an evergreen nature that extends beyond setting and time. The themes, subjects, and sounds will resonate with many and do not push anybody away. Some musicians are too niche and insular; never truly welcoming everyone in. No such qualms when it comes to Laura Roy.

The finger clicks and distorted vocals swing in heavy and hard. The initial moments see shuddering electronics and solid beats (again electronic) provide plenty of drama and emotion. It is an out-the-gates song that does not get too heavy early on. Instead, you have a subtle, sexy song that is keen to shake its hips and elicit a smooth groove. Roy’s voice is high, proud and determined. Balancing Pop accessibility with something a little raw and R&B- a performance that brings to light the song’s tease and mystique. Our heroine has to stop chasing something- whether a boy or an ideal- and seems frustrated. Maybe being kept awake and tormented: it is right there “in front of me”; teasing and heartbreaking all at once. Most will instantly jump to ideas of love and satisfaction. Perhaps a particular man is in her thoughts: someone who is causing trituration and desire; she is unable to release that frustration and get what she needs. That instinct to chase and push too hard- our heroine wants a little taste- is palpable. Your mind starts thinking of other possibilities and potential.

Maybe not reserved to passion and affairs of the heart. Perhaps the song relates to ambitions and fulfilling dreams; a desire that stems from the soul rather than the heart. “Tell me when it’s going down” gives the lyrics a sense of tangibility (for a teenage audience) but something deeper. On paper, you would think Roy to be your average Pop star. When you start decoding and listening to the lyrics; you discover someone a lot richer and more developed than her peers. We never deal with tropes and stereotypes. The lines marry simplicity and complex without either losing identity or confounding the listener. Before the chorus arrives; ideas of a drugs fix get introduced. So strong and eager is this need: it is hard to shake off; causing shivers and anxiety. When the chorus finally does arrive- the momentum had been building for some time- it is a joyous and instant Pop hook; a confident and impassioned vocal that is celebratory and cautious. There is a part of the heroine that offers sage advice (not chasing something that will come to you) but a determination and recklessness- keep pushing and hoping no matter what. The beats explode and the electronics swell: everything gets bigger, brighter and more intense. Few will be immune to the impact and instancy of that chorus: one that is delivered perfectly. The heroine implores economy and patience. If you chase it- whether a dream or another human- then you risk losing everything. It is no good being too eager and thinking it will never happen. If you work hard and have belief: what you crave and dream of will find you. While an individual and unique voice: there are little shades of R&B contemporaries to be found.

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Embers of Rhianna come out in the sexier, more luxuriant deliveries. That tone and intonation slip into some of the phrasing, which gives the song a sense of familiarity. Laura Roy is a singer that does not hang onto the coattails of others: she is her own boss and brings some influences into the palette without seeming replicate. Don’t Chase is a song that is relevant to all listeners. Not confined to teenage audiences and young women: everybody can find guidance and wisdom here. We all aim and have that urge to get something; we pine and desire things we feel are out of reach. Given what we know about Roy; it is likely music and success are in her sights. The beauty of Don’t Chase is the fact it is never too obvious and direct. You never take the lyrics at face value: each lyric can apply to different possibilities and scenarios. Our heroine’s heart races and palpitates; she wants it that bad: there is never exaggeration when she sings; you know how much it means. Plaudits must be given to the vocals but the composition too. Don’t Chase is built around a largely electronic foundation: it gives the song a fizz, panache, and ready-for-the-club vibe. A song that could get the beach-dwelling jumping; cause sweat and celebration in nightclubs- plenty of utilitarian potential and impact. Better than that; the track is radio-friendly and accessible. Stations across the globe will want to spin it and revel in its delights and layers. By the closing stages, you are desperate for the song to continue. After an exhilarating and wave-riding ride: the listener will want more; our heroine teases a little but does so perfectly. Too many musicians needlessly fill songs and provide extended instrumentals. That can cause a loss of focus and seem rather tacked-on. Roy ensures there is economy and concession in her music. Don’t Chase would be pretty ironic if it were to wander and linger too long. By keeping things short and to-the-point: the song will be repeated and revisited many times over. Few Pop-cum-R&B acts get me excited and stick in the mind. I feel there are too few that sound distinct and have their own way of working. Laura Roy is an artist who has grown up listening to legends but never duplicates what they have said. The highlight from her eponymous E.P.: Don’t Chase is a sunny, passionate song that is guaranteed to see Roy cross oceans and get into the heads of international ears.

Laura Roy is fairly fresh to the scene but already has proved she is up to the demands. So many young artists arrive without having thought things through. They will replicate others are write songs that are too familiar. Don’t Chase explodes right from the off and lets you know this is music from someone unlike anyone else. It is not an apportion when it comes to her E.P. If you thought Don’t Chase was an obvious highlight that makes everything else seem pale, then think again. Looking the Other Way is tumbling, busy and calm. The vocal has a smoothness and soulfulness to them. Our heroine is checking herself and trying not to say anything stupid. Supported by colourful electronics and a calming influence: there is that need for correct choices and well-chosen words. Maybe speaking with her boyfriend: there is a history and past that is coming to the surface; one wrong word and things could explode. Whether argument or something else has caused this situation; you are invested and interested to see where it goes. The beats snap and crackle; punch and pound: the vocal swings and swaggers but has vulnerability under the skin. Once more, we get a huge and vivacious chorus. “You can say it a million times” is a mantra that has some cold truths- the boy has screwed up and had his chance. Seeming pushy- the boy feels she is being unreasonable- he is playing the victim it seems. A perfect compassion piece to Don’t Chase: it is almost a juxtaposition in a lot of senses. The opening track is upbeat and restrained yet has a positivity and wise head on its shoulders. Looking the Other Way is nervier and angered. Roy is trying to keep things together and not lose her head.

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Bright Lights comes in and provides some comfort and calm. Swimming in a sea that is “open wide” we get a story of Roy’s current light. Perhaps used to a more subtle and homely existence: the recent months/years have seen her embrace late nights and bright lights. Perhaps a metaphor for stardom and popularity: she is never losing focus and keeping the spirits high. People will try and drag you (our heroine) down but will never succeed. In the song, you get a sense of pining and longing. Perhaps a boy is at home and being missed but you would never know it. Our heroine is in the moment and in the whirlwind of the city. Living for the moment and embracing all life has to offer: a song that never loses its huge energy and force. The focus is on Roy’s voice which grows in eagerness and strength as the song progresses. Following a fraught and unsettled predecessor; Bright Lights provides some joy and distraction. Full Moon and Take Me Down show different sides to Roy. The former is a smooth and R&B-heavy song- one that puts me in mind of Aaliyah. Taking the lights down; it is the E.P.’s most reflective and heartfelt track. Setting her heart out there; once more, love comes back into the spotlights. Even when the sky pulls “us apart”; the love they have is a full moon. You cannot ignore the conviction and range in Laura Roy’s voice. Someone capable of switching moods and styles over the course of an E.P.; she is one of the most amenable and flexible singers in Pop. Take Me Down is a song that gets to business straight away. Determined, suave and sexualised: the heroine provides an alluring and enticing vocal. Her boy is causing quite a reaction in her. Fighting against the pull and allure: she is helpless and not willing to fight the feeling. Putting the song in the bedroom; it is one of the most ‘adult’ and risqué songs from the Canadian. Pushing against ideals and expectations- being for teenagers or just a girl- this proves Roy is a woman with urges and not willing to hide them. Catchy vocals (“Every time we do this” is delivered with twirl and accent; instantly repeatable) whilst the composition remains fairly composed and demurring.

Plastic closes proceedings with a huge punch and ceremony. The hardest-edged and gritty song on the album: Roy is strong and fighting throughout. Pushing her chest out and with fists aloft: this is a declaration from a woman that is not taking any crap. Plastic hearts cannot love or feel; her subject is getting a dressing-down. Comparisons to Arianne Grande, Rhianna, and their peers might come to mind. The song could ride high on the R&B charts and something a young Beyoncé would have killed for. It goes to show how versatile and unpredictable Roy is- whilst being consistent and focused. Previous numbers have shown a mix of fragility, exoticness, and hopefulness: a mixture of emotions and dynamics that give songs nuance and variation. Plastic is a track that signs her E.P. off with a huge impact. Almost the highlight- not quite able to steal the crown from Don’t Chase– your hat goes off to Laura Roy. She manages to evoke memories of R&B queens without ever stepping into their territory. What we get is a young artist with her own skin and her own stories. Every song is short and memorable- she never outstays her welcome or elongates unnecessarily. It means you get quite a few tracks but the E.P. never overruns. Too many provide a three/four-track E.P. that lasts for twenty minutes. Not only do they not provide enough contrast and content (in sheer numbers) but they need lack the necessary editing and honing.

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Laura Roy has shown she is going to be on the scene for years and is an incredible artist. It was wonderful investigating her eponymous E.P. and you know more material will arrive. Whether the next year will see another E.P. or album; that will be exciting to see. As I mentioned; Roy has already gained reviews and press from various continents. Not just a hometown hero: the future is very bright for Roy. I would love to see her come to London and bring her music here. There is a clear market and plenty of stations/venues would love to host her. Before I get ahead of myself, it is worth pointing out the strengths and pluses she possesses. Don’t Chase is a stunning song that rattles around the head and will get everyone singing. Not just a shallow and vague song: lots of great advice and layers can be discovered; a song that keeps revealing joy and potential after dozens of listens. Those who like their music intelligent, instant and colourful; make sure you dive into Laura Roy and…

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HAVE a smile put on your face.



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INTERVIEW: Carina Round





Carina Round



DERANGED to Divine is perhaps the starkest and most beautiful…

album names I have ever heard. It pretty much sums up the work of Carina Round. Based in L.A. now: the British-born musician has collaborated with some of music’s heavyweights- from Dave Stewart to Ryan Adams. Deranged to Divine– available to pre-order is out shortly and unifies and combines the multifarious, spellbinding work of a stunning musician. Having achieved and experienced more than most artists: it is all hands on the deck for Round. In August, she returns to the U.K. for some promotional dates. Taking in the likes of London (The Lexington on 5th) and Brighton (The Green Door Store on 11th) it is an exciting summer, for sure. There is perpetuity and an evergreen quality to Round’s work: her music gets inside the soul and evokes something unexplainable. Taking all this into consideration, I was keen (with respect and nerves) to press Round. We discuss her childhood and musical icons; the juxtapositions between L.A. and Wolverhampton (her hometown) and plans for new material…


Hey Carina. How are you? How has your week been? For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?

I’m great. I’m just off the back of a U.S. and a European tour with Puscifer for our latest album which went really well. I’m currently preparing to for some shows with Tears For Fears and my U.K. solo tour in August- in support of my record Deranged to Divine which is a self-curated retrospective spanning the last 15 years of my career.

You are based in L.A.  What is it about Los Angeles that is so attractive to musicians?

Well, the entertainment industry is based here. Also, before you reach a certain level of success as an artist- unless you come from money- it can be quite difficult to live comfortably. There’s a certain quality of life here just because of the nature of the location:Ocean, Mountains, Weather; that it’s hard to get in many other big cities, yet it offers the same amount of potential. And then, after reaching a certain level, I find many artists move over here from N.Y.C. They can still do what they need to but have a much less stressful life: bigger house, large working space, a pool; maybe they start families.

The legacy afforded to California as a hub in the ‘60s and ‘70s by the Laurel Canyon Scene (Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Joni Mitchell, Mamas & Papas, James Taylor; Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne etc.) or music from the Wrecking Crew sessions had enough longevity to carry over a romantic ideal too. I think even (though) that is long gone.

In reality, though, it can be very isolating- many hours alone in cars. A few simple tasks can take a whole day. No walking anywhere. No real central energy.  A lot of the time this can be pleasurable and conducive to creativity. For me, I need to inject myself into a nucleus of overwhelming human energy every now and then. Like charging a battery.



Your music clearly resounds with listeners around the world; your voice and confidence are outstanding. Did you grow up in a musical background? Were your parents influential with regards your musical ambitions?

Music was always a part of my life from as long as I can remember. I grew up in Wolverhampton with a single mother and listening to music and dancing was a big part of our household. Then at around 6, I moved in with my grandparents and it was a huge part of that household too. My grandfather had a terrific voice. He would be singing more often than not singing and I just adored him for it. It became a big part of my physical expression as a child to go about my day singing my face off. Both pre-existing songs and stuff I made up in them moment.

I began writing poetry before I was a teenager. I picked up a guitar and began crafting songs around the age of 15. At this point, my attendance at school dropped off a lot but my self-education began to bloom. I really began to find my voice. That’s what I was going to do. While my single mother couldn’t really get behind the idea of allowing me to flunk she didn’t really have much choice. Once she realised that she was nothing but supportive.

On that front: which artists and singers were particularly important to you growing up?

Growing up – Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music, and David Bowie played a big part in inspiring me to express myself through music. Japan and the voice of David Sylvian. I discovered Can very young. Bob Dylan, Neil young; Nick Cave is a constant. Kate Bush of course. The honesty and warmth with which Patti Smith writes poetry and the rawness with which she performs is an ongoing inspiration. The Bulgarian Women’s Choir excited me vocally a lot. The recording of Chess Records and Northern Soul music were a big presence in my youth. As well as whatever was on the radio at the time.

When it comes to writing a new song: what motivates you to put pen to paper? Is it scenes from day-to-day life or the realities of love (or a mixture of both)?

For the most part, I draw from my own experiences. I’m a very emotional writer so it’s difficult for me to say read a synopsis and make up a song for it. Unless I have an emotional response to someone else experiences, then I can draw from that and arrange a song based on emotional reaction. That’s where the initial inspiration comes from; then once that’s in place I can approach it more cerebrally and elaborate with technique. The exact relaying of an experience is not really what matters to me in terms of inspiration. It’s more the feeling I get from what’s being said.

You tour and perform with a large band (of guys no less). What is the atmosphere like on the road? What is it like having to tour and live with a bunch of guys?

For some people, a bus full of people is problematic regardless of the sex. I’ve grown pretty adaptable to that situation and everyone keeps to themselves when necessary and mingles when it’s appropriate.

There were 4 women on our bus. It’s actually pretty well-balanced.

Deranged to Divine is out on 29th July; taking material from your career between 2001 and 2015. What compelled you to release the album?

I released the album partly because I knew I was going to be traveling through Europe with Puscifer this summer – the tour had sold out and the response to the album is very positive. It’s garnered a much bigger fan-base and I wanted to release something that would be a cohesive yet eclectic; experimental and very personal introduction to my solo work (for people who have never heard it before).

Can we expect to see any new material from you in the coming months?

Yes. I will be touring until the end of the year and I would like to spend next year making, releasing and touring a new solo record.

Looking into Deranged to Divine: you have collaborated with some extraordinary musicians over the years. Which artists have been particularly great to work with?

My relationship to all of these people and artists are different and the work and time spent was unique to each. I learned a lot from each of them. You know, I worked with Ryan (Adams) off and on over a few years. My work with Dave (Stewart) spanned over a decade and I spent a few hours in the studio with Billy (Corgan) – but each experience had a lot of utility for me as an artist, as well as providing moments of outright joy. They are all very memorable for different reasons.

From August; you are embarking on a mini-tour of the U.K. Does it feel good to have home on the horizons? Do you miss the West Midlands and Britain?

Yes, I miss my family and friends of course. The friends that remain over long distance are usually the ones worth missing. I never really miss living there. I have developed some strong and important family in Los Angeles over the last decade. I do, though, miss the seasons and the weather in the U.K. strangely enough. I long for cold damp air for painfully extended periods of time. Then after a fortnight of visiting I’m ready to go leave.

A lot of singers and musicians will be inspired to follow you into music. What advice would you offer them

If you’re anything like me you won’t be ready to listen anyone’s advice until you learn something the hard way. That being said, I think the most important thing that I learned, the hard way of course (and continue to learn) is that in any collaborations or relationships in general, it’s always good to remember that, no matter who it is telling you otherwise- and how many years of experience they have- it’s ok to say no to something that you don’t feel is an authentic move for you as an artist. The flip side of that, of course, is to learn to make the distinction between a ‘no’ that is safeguarding you from future regrets of inauthenticity and a ‘no’ that is just from fear of being pulled out of your comfort zone.

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

It’s Raining Today – Scott Walker.



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