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Friday, 31 May 2013

#112: King Eider - Drink Me Dry (single review)

Basing their sound around late night bar laments and three-part harmonies are Edinburgh's King Eider. Blending together influences old and new in to a a form of bluesy, contemporary nostalgia, the band self-release their début single 'Drink Me Dry' on the 10th of June.


Over the four minutes of the tracks playtime, emotive vocal harmonies soar and fall like the emotions of the barfly the song paints a picture of. A huge and diverse array of instruments builds throughout, from acoustic motifs and brushed drums to a harmonica that's evocative of Neil Young suggesting that there actually is something for everyone at the bottom of the a pint glass. An impressive string section is juxtaposed against gruff and gravelly vocals that are a perfect match for the impactive and lamentable narrative that the single upholds. This isn't your typical Top 40 folk-pop that seems to be everywhere at the moment. This quarter seem to have encapsulated and distilled an aesthetic of simpler times while never once feeling archaic. Great stuff.



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#111: Top 5 Unsigned - 31/05/13

The Franklys



With members coming from both Sweden and the US as well as Britain, it's easy to see how The Franklys have allowed their individual influences to manifest themselves in to one thunderous assault to the senses. Combining elements of garage rock from across the globe, this girl-band are following in the footsteps of bands such as The Hives as well as more contemporary acts such as Savages. Each track is a blistering example of how to subvert expectations; it grabs you by the balls with a tenacity that won't let go until you've heard each and every note. Exciting stuff. 



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Life Model



Shoegaze is a genre of music that it has taken me a while to 'get'. It's sparse vocal harmonises and sweeping walls of sounds just didn't seem to resonate with me when I was younger. Thankfully now my tastes have matured some what and I'm able to appreciate the majestic sounds of bands such as Glasgow's Life Model.  Ethereal vocals glide effortlessly over guitars that work not alone, but as part of a single unrelenting entity that form the back drop for singer Sophie Evans to play her trade. There's more to the vocals here than your usual shoegaze fair as her voice adds a certainer layer of depth to the music making Life Model one of Scotland's most exciting exports.




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Plainview



American is not a genre oft associated with the north of England, nor the south for the matter, as it happens however it works as a catch all terms for each and every influence that Plainview bring to the table. Ranging from anything from Metallica to The Beach Boys the band's influences as eclectic as the band's overall sound. Ranging from grunge-soaked endeavours such as 'Warmth of the Sun' to the candid and acoustic 'Patient' this trio aren't afraid to turn their hand at anything. Worth keeping an eye on.




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feedthekid



Originally "set up to give our mate's gingerbread kid a future", Manchester's feedthekid are making off-kilter and eclectic songs that are acoustically driven but pack all punches and uphold all the nuances of much more than your usual folk-pop that has found itself in the Top 40 of late. Further to this, the band's Soundcloud page features and impressive version of the Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear the Reaper', putting their own distinct spin on the classic. While a lot of up-and-coming band these days have a penchant for driving riffs and crashing percussion, feedthekid are much more than that, painting pictures of Manchester to rivial Lowry, I'm looking forward to hopefully catching these cats live soon.



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ArtClassSink



Oxford's ArtClassSink are a band who have been on my radar for a good couple of months and unfortunately I've never had a chance to cover them before now. Their music harbours a melancholic streak that underpins their overall aesthetic without ever becoming overbearing or claustrophobic; there are always moments of uplifting and unexpected melody around the corner which make listening to each and every song a joy. The more morose elements are evocative of bands such as Editors or White Lies while never losing their own distinctive sound. Expect big things.




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Check out last week's Top 5 Unsigned

Saturday, 25 May 2013

#108: Big Deal - June Gloom


Following in the vein of various boy/girl combos such as The White Stripes and The Kills are London's modestly named Big Deal. Made up of duo, Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood, the band released their début album 'Lights Out in 2011 to generally favourable responses and now, two years later, the 'anti-twee' troubadours are back with an expanded array of instruments at their disposal. While Lights Out featured just two guitars (one acoustic, one electric), forthcoming sophomore effort June Gloom sees the inclusion of a drummer and a bassist that ultimately fleshes out the overall sound as the band.

Friday, 24 May 2013

#107: Introducing...Cotton Mount

What comes to mind when you think of Switzerland? Trains? Watches? Chocolate? Hauntingly beautiful and dazzlingly melancholic indie folk? Thought not. Geneva’s Cotton Mount are a band whose sound is difficult to pin-point. Having managed to self-finance their début album Still Life, set for release later this year, the band are now hoping to make a name for themselves and move outside of their native Switzerland and in to “the larger and more diverse London…scene.”. And well they should. The overall aesthetic is romantic and quaint, whilst harbouring a darker undercurrent that, at times, swells to overbearing proportions while light and progressive melodies are punctuated with occasional moments of moody claustrophobia that melt away almost instantly.

‘Golden Doll’ is a prime example of the bands darker sensibilities; the first minute of the song is nothing but an understated and foreboding bass line that works in duality with singer Igor Varidel’s husky and self-deprecating drawl. It as if the instruments featured in ‘Golden Doll’ are trying not only to work together, but also against each other, trying to assert themselves as the instrument that propels the song forward. An honour that ultimately falls at the feet of Varidel and his unique vocal work. Conversely, tracks such as ‘Abbie’ offer up a slightly lighter, almost dream-like atmosphere and vocal harmonies swell to the point of breaking in a manner much like that of Bon Iver, while a finger-picked guitar gives one brief respite from the moments of cloying darkness that are present throughout their music.





The sweeping atmospherics that the band have a penchant for will appeal to fans of acts such as Radiohead or Sigur Ros, while the vocals could lend itself, really quite easily, to that of a Republic of Wolves record, particularly on ‘In Blue Colour’, a further example of the bands less oppressing side; wind seems to swirl in and out of the instrumentation on this track and the ever-present reverb on the vocals seems particularly strong here.

While the overall sound of Cotton Mount might not be immediately accessible to listeners, particularly if they’re idea of indie-folk is Mumford & Sons, it is a sound that slowly reveals more and more with each listen; and those who wish to dig a little deeper will find an unusual and juxtaposed sound that mixes several aesthetics, sometimes even in to a single song. Emotions run riot, as do instruments as the band incorporate moments of shoegaze-y intensity in to candid and poignant sections of understated beauty. Cotton Mount are a band that take some getting in to, but when you do, you’ll know about it.

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This article was originally written for Ears On, click here to check out what they're doing.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

#106: Top 5 Unsigned - 22/05/13

mylittlebrother



There's something about the stripped down nature of an acoustic guitar that almost provokes the player in to wearing his heart firmly on his sleeve, and Cumbria's mylittlebrother are one band who certainly aren't afraid to do that. Songs such as 'Hey Stethoscope' have their feet firmly in the realms of American bands like Beulah while managing to keep them quintessentially British. Easy Summer listening for the romanatics.



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The Finest Hour



Whilst not strictly unsigned (though several bands I've featured haven't been) Cleethorpes based six-piece the finest hour are simply too good not to mention. A fusion of ska, punk and indie influences has allowed the band to hone a sound that embraces all three genres with an emphatic energy that's impossible to deny. Heartfelt lyrics are juxtaposed with abrasive yet ever-melodic guitars in a way that you can't ignore. Set to play A Camden Day Out on 2nd June alongside several bands that have been featured here before. A day well worth checking out.



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Two Weeks Running



Again, another reasonably popular band but another one that's hard to overlook is Wigan's Two Weeks Running. Harnessing the energy of bands such as The Automatic and mixing it with a frenetic almost math-rock quality keeps their as fresh as it is relentless. Shared vocal duties keep listeners on their toes while tenacious percussion hammers every song home. With two EPs behind them and a slew of summer dates in front, Two Weeks Running could easily be making 2013 their year.



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The Deliquents



Sleazy gutter rock from Lancashire now in the form of four piece The Delinquents who are taking rock n roll back to basics. Traditional garage rock vocal harmonies work in tandem with the actual vocal tracks while dirty bass-lines roll behind a clean lead guitar, proving that traditional band format can still work.



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Bourbon Street Beat



Display a distinct sense of nostalgia are Manchester's very own 50s and 60s enthusiasts Bourbon Street Beat. Their infectious juxtaposition of old and new aesthetics is really something worth spending some time listening. Positive press reviews and some decent support slots, including Hot Club De Paris have allowed the band to garner a loyal following despite still remaining unsigned. Their unusual blues fusion has been proven to go down a storm in the spit and sawdust pubs of the city's Northen Quarter. Great stuff.



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Check out last weeks Top 5 Unsigned

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

#105: Introducing...Lucy-Mae

Manchester is a city synonymous with music, no one can argue with that. However ask any one of the city's many fresh-faced up-starts who their biggest influences are, and you can almost guarantee that Morrisey will be named more than Etta James and that Ian Brown's name will fall from their lips a damn sight more frequently than that of Aretha Franklin's. With this in mind, it's easy to see why the soulful sass of Manchester's Lucy-Mae has hoisted her head and shoulders above many of the other acts in the city, based purely on the individuality of the music she's producing.

Claiming herself that she was born in the wrong decade, Lucy-Mae's archaic amalgam of soul, jazz and r'n'b is as timeless as her influences, despite her bringing a certain degree of the contemporary in to the mix. Her voice, a delicate tour de force of pitch shifts and dynamics that has listeners on tenterhooks. She also brings a charismatic level of humour to her music (see the fantastic cover of The Jungle Books 'King of the Swingers') which is crucial in maintaining the seemingly perfect balance of sincerity and whimsy that is so clearly embedded in her overall style.

 Having just been signed to FF Audio, it's clear that things are moving in the right direction for Lucy-Mae as she hopes to bring her music to a whole new platform of listeners. And rightly so; while four or five piece guitar bands are ten a penny in Manchester, Lucy-Mae's own brand of contemporary soul is something few and far between. Her voice blends masterfully with the instrumentation that backbones it, irrespective of whether it's guitar, piano or percussion. Perhaps most diverse of her tracks is 'Silent Be Still' which sees an understated guitar and bass entwine themselves around vocals that exude sex and swagger in equal parts.





With a forthcoming EP in the works, now is the time to get acquainted with Lucy-Mae. Her effortless vocals are an absolute joy to hear, while the music that supports her seems to expand and diversify with every song released. Even after several listens, tracks such as 'Gutter Boy' continue to reveal further nuances that just keep you coming back, time and time again. With hopes of 2013 being her year, and the recent dissolution of another local soul act, Mama Roux, there's plenty of room for Lucy to assert her rightful place at the forefront of Manchester's music scene. Captivating. 


Thursday, 16 May 2013

#104: Introducing...INEGO

Harnessing the perpetual energy of their city’s finest with and peppering it with an undercurrent of West Coast vibes are INEGO. Hailing from Manchester, this quartet have been making waves in the underground by supporting some of the city’s best known alumni, including The Courteeners and Twisted Wheel. Their insatiable amalgam of upbeat and optimistic pop-punk is offset by moments of candid sincerity. While it’s not quite the modern equivalent of the genre, INEGO have managed to contemporise the positive elements of 90s alternative/college rock while giving it a distinctly British aesthetic.

With a handful of singles under their belt, it’s not just journalistic hyperbole that set the hype machine rolling, they’ve been featured on BBC6 Music Manchester and have plied their trade up and down the country, not to mention in New York in support of their single ‘Your Style Defeats Me’, a huge-sounding ode to stadium rock that would feel right at home closing a festival, despite the band’s relatively small nature. Conversely, ‘Ghosts’ is a song which is wholeheartedly throwing itself to the realms of bands such as New Found Glory and the long-forgotten Mest. The intro features some nice muted guitar work, which is completely indicative of the genre to which it’s indebted while vocalist Toby Belshaw is sounding particularly Fenix Tx.




On the other hand, the more recent ‘Used to Give’ offers a darker disposition, at least throughout the verses, suggesting a maturing in the band as a whole. A particularly effective lead guitar is prominent throughout while the rhythm and bass form a particularly solid background. ‘Unoriginal’ shows a further facet to the band, in which the pace is traded in for stadium rock atmosphere and sees Belshaw’s vocals perhaps the strongest yet.

Purporting themselves as space-rock is a bit of an odd thing for the band to do, though whether it’s with tongues heading cheekwards I don’t know. What the band are is a modern embodiment of the bands of the yesteryear. There’s too many genres at play to be able to pigeon-hole the band as many reviewers do. The best way for you to understand would be to listen to them yourself. It’s at once both fresh and nostalgic. It’s summery but at times, shimmers with a wintery brilliance that contradicts other tracks in the band’s repertoire. It’s easy to see why INEGO have caused a stir, their sound encapsulates and reinvigorates a 90s genre thought dead and buried, that’s seemingly on course for a reinvention. Great stuff.

This article was originally written for Ears On. To read more, click here.

#103: Tribes - Wish to Scream


Album review: Tribes - Wish to Scream (2013)

This article was originally written for Muso's Guide. To read the full review, click the link above.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

#102: Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs - Clarietta


Music these days is all about nostalgia, that doesn't stop newer releases from sounding fresh or exciting mind you, it just means that nothing can really be considered as ground-breaking any more. Even genre-defying, stomach churning sounds of stuff like dubstep has it's roots in genres that came well before it, no matter how much it's pushed as being completely original. As I said before though, this doesn't necessarily make contemporary music bad, far from it, it's just with so much musical history preceding them, how can new bands make anything that's never been done before? Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs are one band plagued with such troubles. Their début album Clarietta is by no means a bad album. It's just there's nothing that really jumps out and grabs you. Sure there's the occasional song that will set itself apart from the others, but is that really enough in an industry as flippant as the music business? 

In short the answer is no. Sure the quintessential guitar sound is present and ever indebted to the 1970s bands of NYC while off-kilter keys occasionally permeate the record's overt fuzz giving it that little bit more melody, but only just. Debut single 'Watch You' is the highlight of the record and comes across as the band Palma Violets wished they were. Frenetic keys move in between pounding drums and surging guitars all the while singer Charlie Boyer's voice shakes and warbles its way to the song's conclusion in a fantastic fashion. It's just a shame the rest of the record doesn't live up to this songs dizzying heights.

Tracks such as 'A Lion's Way' and the Bowie-esque 'Be A Complete Dream' are other saving graces that punctuate an album that is nothing short of beige, which is a shame as there are occasional moments of musical brilliance buried underneath formulaic layers of filler. With a bit of luck, the energy that's present on Clarietta will transfer to their live sets, as there's certainly an abundance of it upheld by the band, it's just the music they make does nothing to grab your attention the way a record such as this should. There's absolutely no doubting the musical credibility of the band, but there's a distinct sense of deja vu that manifests itself throughout the eleven tracks featured. A good first effort from perhaps the next band to fall victim to the hyperbole of the music press, albeit one that certainly could have been built upon and refined before being released.


5/10

This article was originally written for Little Indie Blogs as part of two reviews showing two differing opinions. To read the other review, and more, click here.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

#101 Top 5 Unsigned - 14/05/2013

Flight of Arrows



Injecting a slice of sunshine in to Preston are four piece Flight of Arrows. Making a kind of utterly infectious indie-pop that's sure to brighten up anyone's day. Guitars jangle amidst vocal melodies and tenacious drums whilst singer Richard Winnard exhibits strong vocals made all the more full by the addition of backing vocals in the choruses. An optimistic outlook coupled with youthful exuberance that will appeal to fans of The Rumble Strips and The Vaccines.



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Backbench Rebellion

Keeping in fitting with the four-piece theme are Devon's Backbench Rebellion. A band full of energy that blend dark undertones with melodies that soar above a moody bass. Despite university and work commitments the band have pushed forward over the last few years and honed their sound until it's the delicate and crisp sound it's become today. Not quite your standard indie fair but ultimately as catchy and certainly a band worth keeping an eye on.



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Soho Riots


Formed at the University of Liverpool, Soho Riots are a fantastic dichotomy of upbeat and sombre. Songs such as 'Who's Your Man?' rumble along with a foreboding intensity that underpins the tracks occasional fleeting moments of optimism, whereas 'The Shore (Oh My)' is an upbeat breath of fresh air after the previous songs understated ominousness. Straight forward and catchy there's absolutely no denying this quartets talent. Brilliant stuff.



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Ant Chamberlain


Breaking this weeks trend of four-piece guitar bands is Ant Chamberlain a singer songwriter from Cannock, Staffordshire, whose quaint and candid lyricism coupled with some deft-handed guitar playing makes him a really exciting find. His first single 'Stepping Stones' is out now, preceding his forthcoming EP Escape which will be available soon. Expect big things for the future from Chamberlain.



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Clever Little Tramps


The second band this week to come from Merseyside are acoustic trio Clever Little Tramps. Eschewing a drummer in favour of candid and introspective lyrics sets the band apart from many of their contemporaries and gives their music a rustic edge that gets it's point across perfectly. Akin to the likes of Bear's Den, the bad evoke a certain sense of nostalgia with their acoustic troubadoury. Gentle and captivating, it's easy to see why the band have been causing a stir.



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Check out last week's Top 5 Unsigned.

Monday, 13 May 2013

#100: Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart



Frank Turner is a man whom divides opinion. As a musician, his place as front-man of the seminal UK hardcore band Million Dead cemented him in the hearts and minds of punks globally. Since the band's dissolution however, he's both won over the naysayers and alienated a handful of those who held him in such high regard previously. In one fell acoustic swoop, Turner has gone from politically charged mouthpiece to folk-punk troubadour and though his ideologies may well have changed, the fact remains that his music still crackles and sparks with a punk aesthetic that he will never truly be able to shake. Gone, however, is the face-melting evisceration and overt politicisation of his previous band's efforts and in their stead is a charmingly candid insight in to Turner's world. Now with Tape Deck Heart, his fifth studio album, Frank carries on in much the same manner as previous effort England Keep My Bones, with both albums narratives seemingly moving away from that of his earlier releases, now upholding a higher degree of introspection than before.

The first track on Tape Deck Heart is also the first single to be taken from the album 'Recovery'. It's pretty standard Turner fare, and nothing to shout about, however those expecting something similar to 'Peggy Sang the Blues' won't be disappointed whilst it eases newcomers nicely in to Turner's blend of paradoxically upbeat, self-deprecating tendencies. However while it is very much business as usual, Tape Deck Heart is quite easily also the most removed of Turner's releases; it couldn't be further from the likes of 'Back in the Day' or 'Photosynthesis' but that isn't strictly a bad thing. While the 'classics' still go down a treat live, hearing the instrumentation at Turner's disposal expand album by album has been a treat, and it's certainly the fullest and most diverse it's ever been here. From the off-kilter keys in 'Good & Gone' to the woodwind and strings of 'Oh Brother' it's without a doubt Turner's most adventurous foray yet with 'Broken Piano' particularly sounding more like a Death Cab For Cutie or Postal Service, indeed, some especially effective drums on the latter half of the song serve only to add to the song's overall impact whilst the guitar provides a spatiality never-before exhibited by Turner.

'Plain Sailing Weather' is one of the particular highlights of the album. Coming early on it's particularly indicative of earlier Turner releases; a welcome nod to the fans who have been there since album one or two. Having had the pleasure of hearing this song live late last year, it's safe to say that it's explosive chorus goes down fantastically and really is turner at his pessimistic best. Another song he previewed live is the candid 'Anymore'. Understated production here allows the guitar to take a back seat in favour of a vocal track really conveys the candidness lyricism. The song also features a line which is sure to adorn the tattoo sleeves of Turner's devout fans for years to come, “I'm not drinking any more/But I'm not drinking any less” pretty much sums up at least one aspect of Turner's penmanship. Conversely, 'We Shall Not Overcome' is an upbeat and optimistic affair that turns the table on some of Turner's more morose numbers. Unfortunately though this is only featured on the deluxe edition of Tape Deck Heart which includes half as many songs again as the album itself. While these tracks aren't intrinsic to the album overall quality, the inclusion of them, Turner has said, is to allow fans experience everything that went in to the album, whilst the standard release is “the concise version”. These tracks are nothing out of the ordinary or exceptional, however 'Tattoos' and 'Time Machine' (the only non-acoustic bonus track) are worth seeking out online.



As an album Tape Deck Heart couldn't have been concieved by anyone other than Frank Turner. There's a perfect mix of optimism, self-deprecation,narrative analogies and everything else that makes a Turner record what it is. That said however it isn't his strongest release to date, but there are certainly several songs included that will almost definitely find themselves included on the inevitable Greatest Hits. Newer fans of Turner will almost certainly relish in the accessibility of the album, while older fans might well sour at the prospecting of having heard it all before. There's certainly no boundaries being broken (apart from the inclusion of instruments new to Turner's repertoire) but that being said his music hasn't been about breaking boundaries for a long time. Instead Frank Turner's found a niche in folk-punk and will continue to reside over it for a long time to come.

Friday, 10 May 2013

#99: Keys - Innocuous Beats (EP review)


Forming through a “mutual sense of not fitting in” Bury St Edmunds-based Keys have whole heartedly embraced a DIY aesthetic in order to further themselves. Relentless badgering of promoters has allowed the band to hone their sound and garner fans along the way while a penchant for eclectic indie grooves from the likes of LCD Soundsystemand The Fall has permeated the overall aesthetic upheld by Keys and leaked it’s way in to their music. After picking up the attention of Sturm Und Drang recordings the band release their début EP entitled Innocuous Beats, a somewhat misleading title given what is contained therein is nothing short of infectious.



This article was originally written for God is In the TV Zine. To read the full review, and others, click here.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

#98: Top 5 Unsigned - 07/05/2013

The Jade Assembly 



Bolton-based quarter The Jade Assembly are currently setting Greater Manchester ablaze with their driving anthemic indie-rock. Coming off sounding somewhere between The Enemy and Manic Street Preachers it's pretty standard fair in terms of aesthetic, but the conviction and charm with which they carry it off is anything but standard. Rousing, riotous and utterly irresistible, catch The Jade Assembly tearing up any backstreet Manchester watering-hole before the bandwagon rolls around.



Jess Harwood



Though only 20 years old, Jess Harwood has already become a staple of her home town Blackpool's open mic nights. Her stripped down, acoustic numbers have already caught the eye of BBC Introducing, while she's also set to release her début EP in the forthcoming months. Hauntingly beautiful vocals are made all the better by a distinct lack of effects and overt production allowing for the heartfelt messages of her songs to hit all the more harder.



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As Elephants Are


Shimmering and atmospheric are two words which would aptly describe High Wycombe's As Elephants Are. Harbouring an almost shoe-gaze style aesthetic, the band's dreamy blend of atmospheric vocals with translucent, almost ephemeral guitars that serves add to the bands overall sincerity. Keeping one foot firmly planted in the 1980s means the band aren't breaking any boundaries with their sound, that said however there's a lot more going on here than with most of the bands indebted to an era of shoulder pads and synthesisers  Moody yet at times utterly captivating, As Elephants Are won't be cheering anyone up in a hurry, but they will be seriously impressing you.



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The Banquet Years



Purporting yourself to be 'avant-pop' isn't the best way to win fans over, whether your tongue is embedded in your cheek or not. Thankfully though the music of London trio The Banquet Years isn't as pretentious as their self-coined genre suggests. Far from it. In fact, The Banquet Years are making back to basics indie-pop   with only a slight twist coming in the form of singer Art's unusual voice, something that really sets the band apart from their contemporaries. Think of an English We Are Augustines with tinges of a more romantic Clash and you're somewhere close to the mark. Quirky and cool and completely worth spending a while checking out.




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The Last Scout



An incendiary amalgamation of art and music, Northwich's The Last Scout, are today's personal highlight. A double-female vocal provides a fantastic variation of tone and timbre while a subtle and subdued acoustic guitar and drums gently carry each track forward with slow yet deliberate precision; never once drawing the attention away from the moving and ethereal vocals. Having only been a band for a matter of months, there's an impressive number of tracks featured on the band's Soundcloud page with each one deserving a mention. From the slightly bluesy feel of 'Children of the New Brigade' to the melodic floating heights of the understated 'Scar Love', every song here deserves your attention.



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Check out last weeks Top 5 Unsigned.

#97: Introducing...Stressechoes


Acoustic acts these days are ten for a penny. Whether their influences are blues, folk, punk, whatever, one just needs to take a trip down to a local open mic night in order to hear and see a plethora of shaggy haired troubadours wearing their hearts on a multitude of steel-stringed sleeves. The problem is, while many of these artists show a sense of conviction about their songs (you’d be worried if they didn’t), a lot of it just seems like it’s all been done before. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules and Cheltenham’s Stressechoes are one such exception.

Eschewing the acoustic stereotype of the ‘lone minstrel on stage’, this acoustic quartet are making music that is impressively accessible and candidly fraught without ever once coming across as overly emotional and clichéd. Sharing the vocal duties with three members allows for a deepened timbre and a varied pitch rarely afforded by similar acts such as that of Frank Turner or even Crowns. This gives the band an edge over their contemporaries and asserts them as something just that little bit different, whilst a steady balance of punk-fuelled urgency coupled with heartfelt lyricism also aids the band in furthering their plight.



There’s an inherent ability, exhibited by all four members of the band, to make a listener feel completely uplifted, irrespective of the emotions going on within the lyrics, and with a full length album and an EP behind them, there’s enough emotions to go round. ‘Branches’, taken from the band’s début EP Bitter Acoustic Noise, is fast-paced and frenetic as far as acoustic goes. A steady drum beat drives the track forward while a duel picked guitar serves as the hook. The lyrics, paradoxically, tell the story of a love he won’t forget in true singer-songwriter fashion.

There really is just too much going on within Stressechoes to confine to a review on a website, Already within their first two records there’s a total of twenty totally different tracks, each one worthy of it’s own mention. However, rather than I make trite comparisons and clichéd metaphors, telling you which songs sound like which bands, get on the band’s Bandcamp page and make your own opinion. You won’t regret it. This is music for those people who truly do wear their hearts on their sleeves, especially when they’re round a camp-fire.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Friday, 3 May 2013

#95: The Graphite Set - These Streets (EP review)


Artist? Musician? Contemporary bohemian? Lucy Buchanan, better known by her stage name The Graphite Set, could easily be considered as all three. Immersing herself in both the music and art worlds from a young age, it was inevitable that the two should meet. After studying Illustration in London (get the band name now?) Buchanan enveloped herself in the city's local music scene and with the addition of Duncan Brown (guitar), Grundy Le Zimbra (bass) and Scott Skinner (Drums) The Graphite Set as it is now came to fruition. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

#94: Top 5 Unsigned - 01/05/2013

Kids With Machetes


While Skrillex may have stolen dubstep from the grimy dives of inner-cities and whole heartedly destroyed everything we knew about it, what he did do is allow a whole host of metal bands to capitalise on fusing the two together. One such band is Leeds born, Manchester based Kids With Machetes. Their fusion of abrasive hooks with off-kilter beats and balls-to-the-wall vocals that take no prisoners has earned them a devout following across Manchester and further afield and it's easy to why. Eclectic, aggressive and ultimately a party band, KWM will appeal to fans of Hadouken! amongst others. 



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Subrosa



Dreamy and understated, London's Subrosa are making shoegaze cool again. guitars swirl majestically while ever-present drum beats rattle relentlessly behind. Vocally the band won't be for everyone, as singer David Woolf, has a tendency to verge on the almost-falsetto. However while it might deter some people, personally I think it's perfectly matched to the optimistic guitars and serves to make Subrosa one of the freshest sounding bands around at the moment.




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The Knievel Dead



Brilliantly named with music that's as haunting as it is infectious, London based (via the North East) The Knievel Dead have been concocting their own eclectic amalgam of guttural blues and foreboding vocals for little under a year now but already their name alone has sent ripples through the blogosphere. While one wouldn't go so far as to say that the band were punk, there's a frenetic enthusiasm behind the music at least that harbours some of the same sentiment as the genre; although I would say would appeal more to fans of bands such as Eagles of Death Metal or Queens of the Stone Age.



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The Stagger Rats



"Born out of love, under a bad sign" Edinburgh's The Stagger Rats are a band who want to "jangle your extremities". Blues-fuelled indie pop guitars rattle each song to their respective climaxes whilst the vocals ooze an unspoken sordidness. There's an Eastern European feel to some of their tracks that are evocative of certain Gogol Bordello tracks though that's as far as the similarities lie. That's no arguing that The Stagger Rats are a band in their own right, indebted to nothing but their own creative tendencies, and long may that be the case, with their début album Scorpio Leisure recently being released it won't be long before the buzz they've garnered gets even louder.



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Beats & Cheats



Manchester's Beats & Cheats have been causing a stir on the spit and sawdust circuit of the city's Northern Quarter for several years, making music that's emphatic, uplifting, and ultimately fantastic. Singer Andy Seager's vocals are particularly effective, asserting himself as more than another wannabe Gallagher or Brown. While the influence purported on the bands Facebook page are the usual fair (The Who, The Clash, The Beatles) their music never sounds anything short of fresh and is never once particularly evocative of any of the aforementioned. Instread, Beats & Cheats have carved a niche for themselves in a city saturated by stagnant carbon copy bands. 



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This article was originally written for Muso's Guide. To read the review in full, click the link above.