Tuesday, 29 September 2015

New Sounds Which My Ears Seem To Like

Although I don't have the time to blog as much as I would like to these days, it doesn't mean that I haven't been keeping both ears alert to new sounds from both upcoming bands and those who are already comfortably established. So here's a lowdown on what's been coming through my speakers.

JaJa Ok - Gimme Your Money

No matter what your music taste, this worth typing into YouTube simply for the hilarious, satirical video. In what could soon be snapped up as the new opening credits for the BBC panel show Mock The Week in the wake of the #Piggate scandal we see a rather bemused Simon (lead singer) replace David Cameron's face with his own. The song itself from the Swedish rockers is a fun, post-punk track with bounce along riffs and quirky melodies.
Gimme Your Money is out now on iTunes

Chvrches - Every Open Eye

My musical palette has been shifting itself around lately and readjusting. Although I still enjoy punk and rock, I've found a comfortable resting place within the realms of electro-pop. Hanging around my favourite record shop yesterday I bought Chvrches new album on a whim.  Every Open Eye breaks through the stereotype of the 'difficult second album' with it's high-energy synths and heavy, danceable beats creating strong album tracks rather than the'all filler, no killer' trap which second albums can fall in to. A simple pleasure can be found in the light melodies which Lauren Mayberry's vocals add a pop element to. Yet amongst all of this, heartfelt moments can be found with Down Side Of Me and Leave A Trace. Personal favourites from the album certainly have to be Clearest Blue and Playing Dead.

Young Romance - Wild

The rapidly ascending indie group recently released their latest single Wild. Creeping beats create an eerie atmosphere as Claire Heywood's gentle, velvet vocals echo from all directions. Just as you are lulled into the steady pace, razor sharp guitars cut in as the vocals then soar to new heights.

You can listen to Wild here
Available to purchase now from Banquet Records

David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock

Included in the box set of Pink Floyd legend David Gilmour's fourth solo album is a small copy of John Milton's Paradise Lost of which the album's themes are based on. It would be easy for Gilmour to spend the rest of his days resting on his Pink Floyd laurels - and although it contains much of his trademark, soaring guitar work - there is a soft romanticism which reminds us he is his own musician. Teaming up once again with his wife Polly Samson, her lyrics drive the album down dark, romantic avenues.
Something I never knew
In silence I'd hear you
And a boat lies waiting
Still your clouds all flaming 
That old time easy feeling.

Much of the album's charm comes from such lyrics in addition to the vintage jazz elements. Rattle That Lock seems to be a combined labour of love from a very creative couple.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Late Hala - Don't Look Now

Sometimes it's risky business putting my email address in my twitter bio as it leaves me vulnerable to various spam and scam emails. However having the latest video from Late Hala land in my inbox made it completely worthwhile.

Don't Look Now is a promising debut single from the London based, psychedelic quartet. Vocals float effortlessly across the steady riffs, continuing to spin dizzily around your mind as we are treated to an eclectic layering of indie, rock and 1960's inspired psychedelia. Just as you think you've grasped the twists and turns of the fuzzy verses, you'll find yourself suddenly lost in another world in the swirling, dramatic guitars of the outro.

Don't Look Now is one of those tracks that demands to be listened to uninterrupted and I look forward to hearing more from this intriguing group.




Monday, 6 July 2015

Make Exactly What You Want To Make: An Interview With Kelly Lee Owens

Having put forward her debut self -released singles 'Lucid' and 'Arthur' earlier this year, it is clear that Kelly Lee Owens is making herself comfortable in the ambient world of her newly formed solo career, a world that she is creatively in control of. The bittersweet, electronic pulses of both Lucid and Arthur was the perfect announcement that Kelly Lee Owens was stepping away from the indie-pop world of her previous band and making her own path. We discussed the learning curves that come with only having yourself to answer to.

'Being in a band always seemed like a stepping stone for me. A way to experience & learn what I wanted to do & what I didn't want to do. I had some great times, but I was itching to explore my own universe, to see what sounds I would create. It took me a while to get there, actually, I'm still exploring & learning. but yeah, I always envisioned myself as a solo artist in the long run.'

It may be bit of a leap in genre for some, but Owens spent valuable time co-writing with artist Daniel Avery and contributed her ethereal vocals to Ghost Culture's 'Understand' which was a experience which she soaked up.'Working with Dan & James opened my mind in terms of how things can be written & produced electronically. I very much wanted to dive in to that world & I did, head first.' Diving head first into a solo music career without a record label having your back is a daunting prospect even in today's DIY-driven industry, but for Kelly it left more room to expand her creativity, describing herself as 'not wanting to be inside any particular box' on her social media bios. 'Like I've said before I enjoy exploring the inbetween lines genre-wise. To be pigeoned holed as an artist can be a bit restrictive.. I have so many musical passions & inspirations and I want to make whatever comes to me at that moment in time, whether it's a track like 'Uncertain' - quite intricate & immersive or the techno rework I did of 'Lucid' - each explores different angles & sides of me. Also in general I'm a bit protective of my creativity, it's my essence. Same as you have yours. No artist should have to twist or mould that for any body or any label y'know?'
'Make exactly what you want to make'

  But what about the rules which we give ourselves in our minds? 'Umm I don't think I have any creative rules.. I just want to make sure I'm doing as much myself as possible - that's why I write, perform & produce. I sorta made a pact with myself before I started anything, to do just that. Saying that, if I hadn't worked with Ghost Culture early on in the album, I would never have had the encouragement I needed to finish my first single 'Lucid'.. sometimes you need those small, but gentle pushes.' Sometimes those pushes can come from people who we have never even met before and for Kelly, Bjork is that very inspiration. 'Well, I value her strength of character & her dedication to her individual creative visions. She makes me think, "fuck it Kelly, make exactly what you want to make!" I think a lot of young artists have been encouraged to be themselves creatively because of her. <3'

Kelly Lee Owen's debut headline show will be taking place at The Waiting Room, London on July 22nd 
Click here for further details.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Track Reviews: The Monday Project 'Bus Stop Boy' / Chris Stagg 'Treading Water'

St Patrick's Day 2015 saw my debut gig night which I had arranged at The Enterprise, Camden. The night was kicked off to a flying start by The Monday Project. This week they unveiled a new song and video titled Bus Stop Boy. Another artist, Chris Stagg, was also kind enough to reach out to me on Twitter and sent me over a demo of his track Treading Water for a review.

Bus Stop Boy is a fun, tongue-in-cheek tale of a young boy and his exploits in the City at night which comes accompanied by a comedic animated video created by Tine Kluth (Sean The Sheep). A gentle eeriness sets the scene of a cardboard London city before a sudden burst of energy from Luka's drums matches the youthful energy of Bus Stop Boy as we're introduced to our dissatisfied anti-hero. We follow Bus Stop Boy's drunken antics and even get a glimpse of how The Monday Project themselves would look in animated form. Dario - hitting near-impossible high notes much akin to Muse's Matt Bellamy - observes Bus Stop Boy's shenanigans with distorted, stop-start riffs transforming us into the drunken mind of Bus Stop Boy.

Chris Stagg delivers full-muscled guitar in his track Treading Water. The intro jumps straight into the roaring track with Stagg's gruff vocals delivering a heavy '70's rock influence with furious riffs of the chorus refusing to take prisoners.  The motion of the bridge and pounding bassline creates a a full-frontal attack and despite the title of the track suggesting tranquility, it is anything but.

Bus Stop Boy shows us that rock n' roll doesn't have to take itself too seriously to deliver a strong track that will be spinning in your mind for rest of the day. Treading Water also excels in promising us pure, adrenaline-fueled potential from Chris Stagg.

You can listen to Treading Water here.

The Monday Project




Chris Stagg



Sunday, 22 February 2015

Interview: Chatting with Puppet Rebellion

I caught up with the Mancunian Indie band Puppet Rebellion half hour before they took to the stage at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen for their debut London gig to chat about their change in line-up and working with famed producer Gavin Monaghan (Ocean Colour Scene, Paolo Nutini). 
However it's never just a simple chat when it comes to interviewing bands and we got distracted by other things such as wearing nothing but a golf visor on stage along with how much they would love Noel Gallagher to slag them off.

You've had a change in your line-up recently, has the transition been a smooth one?

It was difficult at first finding someone new, we auditioned quite a few people. We were waiting to find the right person. Ollie came in and we knew straight away, he blew us away. He was really good.

Love at first sight?

PR: It honestly was. He looks like a Greek God as well. If he wasn’t a singer he would be a swimwear model. He handsome though isn’t he?

*Ollie blushes and bats away the barrage of compliments from his band mates.* 
Ollie: Can we move on?

Gavin Monaghan is producing your new single, did he bring a lot of new ideas to the table?

PR: It was really, really good to be honest with you. Gavin approached us, being approached by a producer of Gavin’s calibre was very flattering. We’re quite a young band. I think you’ll hear when you compare the single to what we’ve previously released. There’s a big step up in quality and that’s all down to Gavin’s expertise.

Yeah he’s worked with some major talent Gavin; Editors, Paolo Nutini, Ocean Colour Scene. There’s an element of magic, he calls it the Magic Garden Studios and I think that is where the magic happens.

This is your first gig down in London, does London meet your expectations or is everyone just pretentious arseholes so far?
It’s our first gig down here which we’re all very excited about. When we first got here with all the tall buildings I felt like a town mouse coming into the city.

We’re back again headlining on the 5th June.

Yeah we’re on quite early which gives us more time to…

Get to know your fans?
I was going to say more time to get pissed!

I saw on your website you had a blog on your website. It hasn’t been updated in a while but it listed all your personality flaws.
Still there is it?

What would you say your personality flaws are now?

Well it needs updating that list because Ollie and Danny aren’t on it.

It was most probably based on things that might happen during rehearsals.

Might or did?

Yeah..Did! But I would like to say that rehearsals have been going very smoothly recently.

So, right now, what are your personality flaws?

Ollie: I’m just a bit dozy really

I’ll say one for Ollie, he is bit of a perfectionist. He’s hard on himself sometimes and he feels he has big shoes to fill.

Jim’s got an awful memory.

*starts pointing* Big feet…stinks…

You know my voice recorder doesn't pick up pointing right?

Oh yeah! Well, Paul’s got massive feet and Danny stinks out the rehearsal room. Erm, no everyone’s got their flaws and that.

Good banter

Good Shanter! Which is joining together ‘shit’ and ‘banter’. Because no one’s actually funny.

If you could have any musician from history to go on a night out with, who would it be?

Jimi Hendrix for me. Because he liked to party. I know he died choking on his own sick after partying too hard but I would go one level below that.

I’d most probably go for Amy Winehouse. I’d ask if she had any songs she hadn’t released yet that I could have.

I’d go for Noel Gallagher…                                                 
Noel-y G busy thinking up witty insults to throw at
Puppet Rebellion.

He isn't dead!

Does he have to be dead!?

He doesn't have to be dead.

Oh cool! Well he slags a lot of people off and he’ll slag us off if we get big enough.

That’s how you know when you've made it.

I look forward to Noel Gallagher slagging us off. That’s when you know you’re doing something right. He’s a funny guy, one of my favourite songwriters.

Keith Moon, he’s an absolute nutter.

Danny: Why have you picked another drummer? Why have you said that while I’m here?

Because drummers are...interesting


I’d go for Justin Hawkins. The only man to headline a major festival wearing only a golf visor and glittery guitar.

You should wear something like that one day.

Yeah but you've got to earn your glitter. 

Puppet Rebellion will be earning their glitter on 5th June when they'll be returning to the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen for a headline show. It is not guaranteed that they will be dressed in golf visors and glittery guitars

In the meanwhile, their new single 'Watch Me Fall' will be available from 23rd February. check it out here

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Interview: Robbie Boyd

Following the release of his acclaimed debut album 'So Called Man' Robbie Boyd is set to release his single 'Brave' on the 7th December. Tying in with the breezy optimism of his album, 'Brave' has reached the ears and received the praise of Radio 2 and 6 Music due to it's quintessentially folk, home-spun sound.
Robbie was kind enough to give me a quick low-down on his single and his career so far.

You learnt your trade by busking in major cities such as London and Paris. Do you take anything from these experiences to put into your live sets or even your songwriting?

'Absolutely, when you play songs in their raw form on the street, you discover which ones have the immediate effect of grabbing people’s attention as well as feeling which new songs you get the most enjoyment out of playing. Another thing you really learn is stagecraft and how to refine it – how to grab an audience and keep them there, whether you’re doing your own material or covers. If 10 people are playing ‘Imagine’, you need your version to stand out. From the start, I often made more money playing my own music, which gave me even more belief to carry on. I’ve had many interesting experiences with passersby on the streets, including one whose words of encouragement were “they want to see you have your face in the dirt!” - so I used that as inspiration for one of my songs. I have many other references to my busking experiences in my work.'

Alongside many other of your tracks, 'Brave' enjoys much positivity. Is this a theme you deliberately stick to or does the optimism flow naturally in your songwriting?

'It’s not really a conscious thing, it’s where I go when I write and I like to approach many difficult subjects with a sense of positivity. The world can be a very difficult, lonely place and we are told about it a lot in the media, so to say a few good things, and to say that this world is also a place of great kindness and beauty once in a while, can only be a good thing, I reckon.'

You've worked alongside Ray Davies, did he share with you any words of wisdom?

'Writing a song with Ray Davies was one of the most wonderful and surreal moments of my life. He taught me how to really hone my lyrics and about the power of imagination using fictional or real life characters in my stories. The song we wrote together is called ‘Modern Man’. I wrote another song called ‘Front Page News’ which is all about my encounter with him, and also has references to my busking days. Ray also recommended I keep as much control over my songs for as long as possible.'

How does it feel to know you're marked in history as the first ever Brit to perform on the O2 Arena?
'Epic. I’m very proud of all my achievements and that’s definitely up there, pun intended. My next goal is to perform on the main stage!'

'So Called Man' is available to purchase now on iTunes with 'Brave' set for release on 7th December 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Music...Will Outlive Anyone Or Anything: Interview with Bloom Twins

Anya and Sonya Kuprienko AKA the captivating dark pop duo Bloom Twins are not just your standard teenage pop stars. The Ukrainian identical twins channel their boundless energies into their world of music and high fashion, finding inspiration along the way. I mentioned before how seeing Bloom Twins perform was an hypnotising  experience and so I decided it was time to catch up with the sisters on their career so far.

The music and fashion industry are two of the most notoriously difficult worlds to break into and gaining a foothold in either isn't the easiest task in the world, yet the girls are conquering both after taking the dramatic leap of leaving their small town outside of Kiev for the sprawling lights and hectic pace of London.  "It totally was a big leap for both of us." They explain "But we've always dreamt about it. Something we always wanted. And we are very lucky it happened this early in our lives. We were just babies in Love with British music, our parents introduced us to it. We naturally began to get hungry for music and started to discover lots of different instruments, but that wasn't enough. And than we met our manager, who suggested we move to London. And that was a step closer to our dreams." However it was a quintessentially British artist that may have had a sub-conscious effect on the decision. "Our main influence was the legend of music - Paul McCartney. Our parents know all Beatles songs by heart. And our childhood was drenched in an ocean of Paul's McCartney songs."

As diverse as London is a city, an eclectic mix of various backgrounds, there is still no escaping cultural contrasts. However for Anya and Sonya, what could result in home-sickness, they have turned into inspiration for their songwriting. "When we first arrived to London, we were very hypnotized by its beauty. We found it very different from our home-country. It was like being on a different planet. And the city inspired us to write our first song "She's not me". 

It's not unusual in the fashion world for models to try their hands at a career in music once contracts become short supply (a record deal being one one of the prizes on America's Next Top Model) or even music artists becoming more known for the clothes they wear rather than the tracks they put out. However for Bloom Twins the two industries are not mutually exclusive, nor a back-up plan. Having graced the pages of Vogue Italy, Russia and Ukraine, music and fashion reflect one another for the duo. "Busy life is a happy life. Yes, music and fashion go hand in hand. They are very connected to each other, just like my sister and I. There is no life for us without music, and fashion helps us to show our personalities, we would say fashion is the way our music looks" Together in front of the camera, together behind the mic, do they ever drive one another mad? "We would lie, if we would say we don't drive each other nuts, sure we do, but that's healthy. We share all kinds of emotions with each other: Love, happiness, anger, sadness. Literally everything. Every one of her mistakes is mine, and an other way around. We're kind of prepared to be in marriage. We think we can overcome anything. And the good thing about having a twin is that sometimes we don't need words. We understand each other without them."

What do the girls think of each other?
Sonya: (Anya is) a mathematician in music
Anya: she's not me 

Last summer the world was united in grief and sadness when the commercial flight Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 crash landed - possibly shot down - with no survivors. The disaster came in the wake of civil unrest that has been boiling over in Ukraine due to the conflict of the country's standing with the EU and Russia. Last February Kiev saw their most violent day in over 70 years as fighting took place between police and protesters in Independence Square.  Watching the crisis unfold in their homeland while thousands of miles away in London, Anya and Sonya knew that they could not remain silent on the issue. What emerged was a haunting cover of Bob Marley's peace loving 'Get Up Stand Up', using previously unseen footage which was unable to emerge into the media as the accompanying video. "Firstly, we were in London, and watching what was happening was not easy. It moved us in every way. There was pride and sorrow mixed in one. We wanted to support people of Ukraine who wanted the change and hence the words "Get up, stand up for your right, don't give up the fight" were the perfect choice."Explaining the intentions behind the music video "It always helps to know that someone supports you. And that you are not alone. One other reason was that our society strives on appetite for immediacy. What's on the tabloids today is nowhere to be found tomorrow. But what happened in Ukraine - is shaping the history. We can't let it be forgotten. And music and authentic footage will outlive anyone or anything."  So how powerful a tool is music in getting a message across? "In our opinion music is one of the most powerful tools that exists. It's a language everyone speaks. It's so powerful and can really make a difference in a world. It can touch your consciousness. Anyone can relate to it, regardless of religion, skin colour, political view, or orientation. It cures people. Nordoff Robins transforms lives. And if we will manage to somehow make any difference in someone's live through it - then we certainly won the biggest prize."

The Bloom Twins debut EP was due for release earlier this year, but due to setbacks the twins have been unable to return to London in order to pursue its release. It's not the only plan they have for when they arrive back however. "First of all, we will buy soya late at a coffee shop. Cause we really miss it and we don't have it in Ukraine. Than we will see Lenka- our manager, and than the best of all- we'll get back to performing, recording, and we can't wait to release our long awaited EP that was pushed back due to visa issues. We miss performing so much. It's an addiction one can't cure."

Hopefully it won't be too long a gap before the duo do make it back to London, with their down to earth, bubbly personalities coupled with a steely ambition, it's an exciting wait to find out what the emerging EP will have in store.