Internal Working Model – SMALL MUSIC SCENE: ISSUE #4


Liela strikes out of the gates in amazing fashion with Empathy Files, her voice both radiating a lush essence that’s pleasing to the ears and carrying this real serious weight as she reflects on how openly accessible our data and even our inner emotions are in this current technology-enforced state, all while the song sinks in and sticks to you with its calm yet indescribably addictive chorus and a mesmerising ambience.

The energy begins to increase a little in the fluorescently flowing and wonderfully synth-sprinkled Woo, and that goes for Liela’s vocal capacity too, then the shimmering Vanishing Shadows thoroughly encapsulates that uncomfortable sensation of being stuck in a mentally dark place as you’re further fed endless adverse thoughts, and this is where Liela enlists the help of her first guest – the legendary Gary Numan – and just wow, their dual harmonies match up superlatively.

The Wall From The Floor is chillingly quiet to begin with before switching to this remarkably ominous tone which fits well with the scenario of being lost, uncertainty and dragged down by anxiety as you fight hard to be in your ideal place, then Liela flashes back to childhood with Ache In The Middle, and is overcome with regret as she wishes she could make changes to the past, thus creating this effectually sombre and sympathetic number that is doubly boosted by Jehnny Bath joining in with her own heart-tugging chimes.

New Day is another cut that gets the goosebumps materialising, and is immeasurably heartfelt in its encouraging, supportive message as Liela’s puts on her most beautiful vocal display yet. Come And Find Me is pushed by such a satiating, fiercely infectious pelvic-shaking rhythm, and Welcome To It isn’t far off that distinction either, plus the lyrics are great in regard to fighting your demons and striving to detach from them and make that long overdue positive change. Dhani Harrison then makes his presence marvellously felt in the glamorously glittery finale, Love As Hard As You Can, which has you smiling with a newfound inspiriting hope growing inside.

The third album from the London artist is a stellar and fascinating deep dive into one’s self, exploring every last inch of mental and emotional being, honestly shining a light on the suffering faults and hardships, and that desire to escape these poisonous pains, which I can certainly relate to and I’m confident others share the same sentiment, and Liela manifests these experience through an exceptionally gripping and well produced array of songs.


Gigi’s Recovery – SMALL MUSIC SCENE: ISSUE #3


The record opens in a curious and entrancingly dark mood with Existence and how said namesake seems to be fading; setting course for the main theme of the album; before breaking free with Crying and elevating into something with a distinctly stimulating verve, but still retains that warping, rapturous sense of atmosphere while frontman James and both his slick vocals and creative, fixating words take centre stage.

Return My Head definitely kicks up the energy levels and gets a good old catchy beat on the go, while the great lyrics encompass the unbearable amount of negative baggage being carried mentally and trying to become free of the pain, then there’s Ethel which is the most sonically musing cut yet, with very nice riffs, rich bass tones, battering drums, and such strong, sonorous string/electronic mixtures that spark an ominous feeling, all while, once again, the singing drips with vivid emotion.

The definitive keys and chords of The Stars Will Leave Their Stage are so cool and drive the melody and stand out among the rumbling rhythm, and the writing has reams with passion in that battle to at last break free and leave a worthwhile impression, while Belonging is incredibly hushed and haunting; all about publicly expressing the hurt that’s been endured.

The Lie Becomes The Self physically has more meat to it but is equally just as eerie; the lush pianos help in that matter; with that focus on how spending so long being caught in a horrible false state of mind through both self-deprecation and the bad influences of others can manipulate and convince you that this is who you truly are, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth and you’re actually straying from you who genuinely are.

The drumming is on superior tight form in the thrilling A Thousand Lives, plus the guitar flickers and the harmonic hooks are damn infectious, then after that ballistic rush is We Had To Disappear which also has this animated life to it while James continues to impress through his concentrated performance.

Rays of positivity really start to become present in Only Good Things, showcasing that things are beginning to turn around for the better, and you find yourself happy about that fact. This naturally flows through into the captivating title track where that long sought escape into freedom finally comes through, as well reflected in the prosperous manner committed by the band, and afterwards, they cap off well with Exist.

Needless to say that The Murder Capital made quite the newsworthy breakthrough with their debut When I Have Fears back in 2019, establishing the Dublin act rightfully so as the next big thing in post punk, and this sophomore release has firmly verified that matter.

Gigi’s Recovery is a beautifully constructed album pieced together by a range of remarkable numbers that validly chronicle, as the name suggests, the recovery process from the deepest and darkest depths of depression and how the folk you surround yourself with play a major factor in your livelihood, and everything from the lyrics to the performances are exceptionally convincing and legitimate, and it is guaranteed to make a resolutely indelible impact on the audience.


Endings = Beginnings – SMALL MUSIC SCENE: ISSUE #2


The Ruhr squad open up promisingly with the cool preliminary interlude Paradise, then proceed on to Young Blood, accompanied by Between You & Me, which has to rank as one of the premier alternative bangers of 2022, where every element is a winner, from the ripe vocal performance, to the crunching rhythm, to the explosive, ridiculously infectious chorus, and trust me when I say I’ll be giving you a dirty look if you somehow don’t find yourself buzzed by this.

The similarly rad Bloodshot Eyes comes forth with a bit of a darker tone and the words capture that feeling of just being simply done, tired and brought down by it all and looking for that desperate liberation. We get a quick pause with Endings and its nice ambient vibe, before they abruptly launch into the great Drowning Underwater, a triad effort alongside We Were Sharks and Breathe Atlantis which is sonically energetic and lyrically stifling, embodying pure hopelessness and being on the brink of personal defeat, and god damn, the screams in the latter half are chillingly strong.

Over You is an effective platform for self-realisation, and the importance of detaching from a past which caused emotional, mental damage, and Beth from As December Falls (a band I’m very much fond of) steps in to join Stefan for dual harmonic duties, and the pair are as raw and inspiring as they come. Out Of Love is considerably more upbeat in comparison to the previous numbers and it’s just straight up electric, so expect to find yourself juiced up by this one.

Cotton Candy Clouds continues the dynamic trend, with Stefan, through more impressive singing, letting loose a tonne of baggage and becoming focused on the positive possibilities that have come to light thanks to a healthy new mindset, while the breezily melodic Criminals is about taking a mature stand of accountability and honestly acknowledging the mistakes once made.

Saviour presents gentle, thoughtful verses intermixed with zealous, catchy choruses, another pleasant break comes in the form of Beginnings, then we return with the real nice and roseate Heartclash, about opening yourself up to the one you love, and afterwards is No Use, a fittingly hearty send-off to cap off such an emotionally fuelled record.

Endings = Beginnings, the sixth album from the alt-rock champions, is sensationally awesome, to put it quite lightly. The songs are many, but at no point boring or redundant, thanks to such dedicated, pure performances from the guys and their guests, a vibrant sound that’s easy to get swept up in, and authentic writing that refuses to beat around the bush, striving to be as truthful and legitimate as possible; the latter especially, because in this day and age where people try too hard to be something they are not, a lot of respect comes with being unafraid of sincerity.

Flash Forward have surely right now got to be the hottest act in Germany; hell, probably among the hottest across the entirety of mainland Europe as of now; and their next stop I imagine will be to conquer the world. 2023 will definitely be a banner year, and with mainstream breakthrough right there on the cusp, don’t be shocked to see the quartet emerge as an esteemed global entity very soon.

Songs Written For Piano – SMALL MUSIC SCENE: ISSUE #1


Well, if we’re talking success stories within the Scottish scene in 2022, you gotta bring up Katie. This year, the Inverness artist unexpectedly became a viral sensation with a demo of her song Complex and, well, naturally, she’s been on the up and up since, and deservedly so, as she’s a magnificent talent. If you haven’t been made aware of her as of yet, then this EP right here is the perfectly starting place.

I’m Worried It Will Always Be You is first, and within seconds her popularity is immediately apparent. Her voice is outstanding, bursting at the seams with so much pent up emotional sorrow in amongst the sleek delicacy, it’s all so lovely, and the piano work of course complements the gentle and hushed ambience.

Now that she has you under her spell, she follows with To Be Eighteen, where the piano is accompanied with faint but very nice acoustics. The writing here tears you apart, centring around the one you loved not truly loving you back, and in a veil of denial, wanting to so badly to teleport back to the good old days where all seemed perfect.

Then we come to the feature presentation, Complex itself, and wow, it’s absolutely no wonder why this exploded the way it did, it’s impeccable, everything about it is flawless. Katie’s singing is hauntingly beautiful and its power alone is enough to spark the waterworks, assuming the lyrics don’t, it’s so gut-wrenching and heart-breaking and your sympathies run at an all-time high, coming to the realisation that you’re not considered that special in the eyes of the one you devote yourself to, but still refusing to let go, it just hurts so much, and lastly the chorus is remarkable and sticks with you and builds up to a stirring finish. What else can I say? It’s a masterpiece.

And then there’s White Lies. Firstly, Katie’s vocal talents are at their highest pinnacle in this one; oh my gosh, when it hits the peak of the tune, her pitch and power is just breath-taking; and secondly, again, the lyrics just stab the heart, where even after everything, you’re swallowed up in a state of confusion and uncertainty about yourself, just highlighting how traumatic and damaging this whole ordeal was.

With all the hype and publicity Katie’s received, I feel like I’m just preaching to the choir and repeating what everyone else has said, but hey, this is a platform where I want to just share with you all some of my favourite acts that I love, and Katie I undoubtedly love. This EP is superlative, it’s a rare kind of special, and Katie is already far off to the races of superstardom.

Fonzy & Company: Touche – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


The Kids Stay Home is an absolute belter of an opener that’s bubbling and bursting with an immensely infectious buzz. The vocals across the board are glowing and firmly committed, the guitars really help in creating a rousing rush, and the sweet chorus is unforgettable. The group keep flying on stylishly with the palpable Precious Malicious, where the riffs are once again out of this world, boasting an added aggression here, and the rhythm section are on sturdy form, plus there’s a solid and subtle ambience lingering in the early goings too.

The lyrics have been fantastic up till this point but really capture your attention in particular during the quick and snappy No Way, firing shots at those from elder generations who can’t properly understand and relate to the struggles today’s youth have to endure, and the purest of emotions are displayed at their optimal degree in the wonderful finishing tune, The Serenade.

What makes the Bristol outfit’s record so great is the genre-bending quality of it, where they are never sticking to one particular sonic route, constantly mixing it up with such a broad variety that very few other acts can match up to. Intertwined with devoted performances and engaging writing, and you have yourself a bloody superb EP.


Bleaks: Bleaks – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


One blare of feedback later, we shift into the unadulterated frenzy of Break Of Day, headed by blunt, chesty singing. After having set the mood, the lads amp up it further with the purely chaotic Disgraced, featuring rigid riffs and the drumming battering out a hysteria of hammering beats in every direction. The Bleaks Theme is a catchy bobber with an undercurrent of tight bass tones vibrating throughout, eventually devolving into total carnage in the closing moments.

They blitz the senses with the breakneck Yack, then fire up the aggression even more through the deafening vocals in Wise Guy while keeping that rapid pace charging on. The combined stabbing lyrics, cool guitars and stiff rhythm of Signals are addictive as all hell, and they save the best for last with the formidable climatic belter Jolt In My Brain.

A damn fine, heavy, heart-stopping and beautifully mental debut effort from the Glasgow hardcore punk supergroup, all in all, and if they’re ever up for it, I’d happily pay to hear more.

Katherine Aly: Shadows Are Made Of Light Too – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


Immediate interest is sparked as soon as Glow & Ignite kicks off, which is from bell to bell a wonderfully radiant and vivacious song in every regard that couldn’t possibly not get you smiling. The swaying dazzler Pariah has a darker and more emotional flow to it, with Katherine’s beautiful voice carrying that weight through efficiently.

The levels of passion featured in Never Giving Up On You are insurmountable, with much love and care bubbling behind the lyrics, and Katherine giving 110% conviction and dedication in her incredible performance, mainly during the exceptional chorus, and she continues to display more of that warmth and tenderness through the synth-drenched Hey Girl, emphasising that it’s perfectly fine to suffer a negative day now and again, and that you can get back on your feet and start afresh tomorrow.

The short and sweet Hype Up is so bright and catchy, with Katherine’s broad vocal range being truly displayed here. Maybe In Another Life not only features some contagious harmony hooks but also effectively captures that longing for how things could have turned out better under different circumstances. Rules is glisteningly spectral in nature and has a vividly magnetic pull to it, and the record comes to a rousing close with the utterly sweeping and fired up Butterflies.

The Edinburgh alt-pop queen had quite a task to accomplish with her debut album; naturally her biggest release to date; but she has blown me sideways, coming through with a valiant and phenomenally devoted effort, undoubtedly cementing her as a hot new sensation in the Scottish scene, if she isn’t considered as such already.

Me & Munich: Postponing The Past – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


Things get off to a pretty promising start with the rollicking and energised opener Godspeed, and they keep the flow riding high in the riff-intensive Unspoken. Out Of Luck is the strongest cut yet, mainly owed to the focused vocal work and the engaging, relatable lyrics reflecting on when it all becomes too much and you find yourself battling struggles one after another. Stimming Youth is a great, sonically catchy piece, and Keep The Pain perhaps even more so, where the guitars steal the show with plenty of sizzling exhibitions front to back.

The guys then scale it down for Shadows Unfolding which swings with a solid amount of emotional resonance, but they return to hefty form with the stellar Broken Are The Most Evolved, highlighted by an electrifying chorus, more fiercely passionate singing, and strong writing detailing how those who have been forced to suffer have a better understanding of the world compared to those who are safe and stuck in their entitled bubbles.

Wash It Away shudders with definitively thick bass tones, the memorably written Catatonic packs a rhythmic punch, and a juicy guitar-driven melody and packing drum beats assist in making Serenity a super infectious banger. They then finish stylishly with A Curse In Your Ocean, defined by the theme of letting go, thus concluding the latest record from the Danish rock outfit which successfully makes a remarkable impression and is absolutely worth checking out if you find yourself unaware of this band’s talents.

Nimbus Sextet: Forward Thinker – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


High Time is a freaking infectious ditty where the brass section strut their stuff in an effective manner, crafting a melody that has you swinging, and Charlotte De Graaf’s fresh vocals add another level to the already great music.

The titular piece follows, and as you listen, you’ll find your body shaking and shimmying beyond your control, courtesy of the insanely addictive and engaging rhythm. The guitar and bass work throughout is slick, and both the keys and sax thoroughly impress when given the spotlight.

Woodview provides a nice reprieve after that fun frenzy, and it transitions damn perfectly into Another Place, which is a cool and composed number that gets you sinking back deep into your chair while you are serenaded by the satisfyingly polished horns, before climbing up into another buzz towards the end.

Search For Solace is mainly defined by the sweet pianos and creates a particular mood that sparks that image of a cosy, intimate bar in some tucked away urban corner of New York. From The Shadows is a similarly pleasing sonic affair, then the group bring the juice one last time for the electrifying To The Light.

The newest album from the Scottish jazz ensemble is a stellar sensation, forming refined atmospheres in the low-key songs while cranking up the energy through the entertainingly high-octane sweeping cuts.

Vanives: Thanks – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


Love Like I’m Falling eases in super smoothly with a loose atmosphere forged in the process, which is further hoisted by the incredibly eloquent vocals that get you absorbed right from the off. Babyshowers rings with some subtle R&B influences, and the thoughtful lyrics are provocatively latching; a trend that continues into the emotionally rich and sonically cool Old Names.

The dual performances of Birds are magnetic as all hell and have you totally frozen in a focused state as each half tell their side of the solemn story. Finn, as brief as it is, serves as an intriguing intermission, then the heat begins to pick up with Just Draw Daisies and its dapper beats, and it also exits to a neat outro.

The chorus of Basic Love has you flourishing in waves of euphoric ecstasy, and Cola indulges in a trip of nostalgia. Arc Of The Moment bursts with a gracefully grand scope at its highest heights, the mainly acoustic Bardennoch is a great reflection of self-doubt and that awful perception of seeming worthless, and Nothing caps the record off on a powerful and enveloping note.

The duo’s debut album is something awaited for so long by myself and I’m sure much of the Scottish music community, and Stuart and Roan have outdone themselves. The writing taking into consideration the hardships of love and the importance of life choices make this their most mature and antiquated release to date without a doubt, plus the production standards are also ace and play a major part in the investment factor.