SMALL RECORD REVIEWS | #3 | Are You Even There At All?



Many will recognise Brent Walsh as the frontman of San Francisco alternative band I The Mighty, and there is no doubt that he has enjoyed his fair share of success along with the rest of the group.

But lately, Brent has been inspired to try something new that is more out of his comfort zone, and the result is his first individual EP since 2014 – Are You Even There At All?

What becomes obvious quick is that Brent doesn’t just stick to the one sound, instead mixing it up with a range of the styles between the tracks, from mellow acoustic-based numbers, to catchy pop songs that are upbeat and featuring a hint of hip-hop to them that has drawn comparisons to Justin Timberlake.

Brent puts a real effort into his performances, with bold and vibrant harmonies throughout that impeccably get across the emotional tones of the tracks, shining with compelling writing focusing on an uncertain relationship, which also ties of them together and makes a flowing narrative out of it.

Refined by memorable choruses and a ravishing level of production, Brent’s return to the fray as a solo artist has proved to be very successful, with a tonne of passion thrown in and a gamut of excellent material from top to bottom, and truth be told, this is more investing than most stuff in the mainstream charts right now.


The Way You Seem, Clouds Song, Confession Repentance




Kilwinning musician and Girobabies vocalist Mark McGhee made the unlikeliest of big impacts when he introduced his Jackal Trades project, and sequentially released his debut album Need The Character(s), which has went on to earn him a SAMA nomination and a strong following of listeners and local journos alike.

And just recently, at this bustling stage of his career, Mark has followed up with a sophomore release, titled Trip Hazard Advisor, and it is clear he has only gotten better.

If it wasn’t already evident at this point, Mark’ greatest attribute is unquestionably his vocal performances. As crude and rugged as it is, there’s nothing phony about it. His delivery is totally legitimate and it’s not about him putting on a show or trying to prove how amazing he is, it’s all about trying to convey the lyrics of each number, which is what matters here.

On the subject, the record is driven by the story of Jack The Lad, a figure who debuted in the song of the same name on the predecessor, and this narrative is one that is thoroughly engaging from start to finish, and that is owed to the blunt and explicit writing, featuring lyrics that suck you in, keep a firm grasp and still linger long after it is over.

Once again, Mark collaborates with a range of talented producers, who help to forge immersive beats that shift between dark and catchy; dependent on the track. We also get a line-up of some real fine vocalists from around the country contributing throughout, with stand outs including Josephine Sillars, Jo D’Arc, Becca Starr, and even John McMustard of all folk gets involved.

If these long paragraphs weren’t apparent enough, Trip Hazard Advisor is one hell of a sequel highlighted by a magnetic plot and built upon the always-improving talents of Mark McGhee and the collective of proficient performers that join him by his side. Jackal Trades is at the core of Scottish hip hop for a reason.


Chaos Nights, Badvisor, Suspiciously American Drug Education, The House That Jack, One Star From The Gutter, I Can See Patterns, Death Of The Centre, Jack To The Future




Over the course of 5 years, Why Everyone Left have slowly but surely built into one of Italy’s most prominent pop-punk acts, and are set to cement that status with their long-awaited EP – This Is Not A Test.

It doesn’t take long at all for the boys to switch into high gear and bring forth a blistering energy to the table over the course of the tracks featured here.

Enzo’s harmonies are melodic and spilling with spirit, the guitars from Thomas are pleasing, and the two Luca’s help to keep the pace constant with bouncing and dynamic rhythms.

If all that wasn’t enough, they up the ante even further with tremendous choruses, while entertaining with great writing that makes a lasting mark and only improves with each listen.

Add in a quality production for good measure, and you have what is by far Why Everyone Left’s best and most significant work to date. More material like this in the future, and they will surely reach grand new heights.


Pick You Up, Dead Inside, Whiskey & Coke




Within a short space of time, Arkdown have established a reputation as one of Sheffield’s definitive metal acts, and having listened to their forthcoming second EP – The Calling – that sentiment rings very true.

The record is nothing short of a perpetual barrage, with one behemothic track being chugged out after the other, each donning a cumbersome power that is boosted by swift tempos, wild choruses and mighty big breakdowns.

Kyle puts in a hell of a shift with immense, guttural vocals at the forefront, while the pairing riffs add to the intensity, and the dense bass and drums cap off the rhythms with an extra dose of force.

The Calling is a mind-blower, and easily ranks as one of the most massive, rip-roaring British metal EPs of the year.


Wake Up, Mirrors, It Calls Me




Glasgow hip hop artist A-Macc, well known as a part of the Deadsoundz Inc collective, is back with a new project titled MVCC, and he has already got a lot of people talking with his debut solo record – This Isn’t Fun Anymore.

It’s been a long time since we’ve laid ears on Andy, but he quickly reminded us what made him notable in the first place, starting with the sharp inflections as he delivers verse after stinging verse, loaded with lyrics that are bitter and pungent.

The grim and bleak production fits perfectly with the overall tone of the album, and there’s a selection of really memorable choruses that pop up too which beg for multiple listens. Plus, the collaborators Andy gets on board are a tight match in their spots.

It’s not always strong, but when this record is good, it’s really damn good, featuring some cracking tracks that make a dent with intense writing and a regularly committed performance from Andy. Another worthwhile addition to the country’s teeming scene.


Play Games, 030917, Save Me, Slippin’, This Isn’t Fun Anymore, Everything & Nothing




Well, with a name like B**** Hawk, you can only hope for something subtle, right? Well, subtle they ain’t, but they are the very definition of mental. Case in point – their upcoming album, JOY.

In the space of 25 minutes, they blitz through a batch of bloody crazy tracks that are heavy and unrelenting, and it is a non-stop dash from the first note to the last.

Fred’s piercing vocals are among the most deranged of the year, Andreas pelts out a line of furious riffs, and the team of Patrik and Henrik on the bass and drums respectively curate rhythms that run at swift tempos and are brimming with such a stomach-dropping intensity.

JOY is an album that is heavy incarnate. Mad, chaotic and utterly rambunctious, the Swedish quartet have turned out something that is beautifully crazy and worth sitting through time and time again.

Undoubtedly won’t be for everybody, but this will surely satisfy metal fans out there that like their music straight up wild and are up for a good old-fashioned headbang.


Baby Love, Get Up You’re Fine, EDM, Rikspsyk, Optical Chracter Recognition




Homegrown in North Berwick and currently residing in jolly old Glasgow, Tom Vevers is one of many great acoustic artists to have made the rounds over the last number of years, and his latest effort – Exactly What You Need Right Now – might just be his best yet.

A quality that is instantly apparent is Tom’s harmonies, which are striking in pitch and really sincere, as he gets across the right amount of emotion that he wants to convey, and it helps to make the tracks all the more gripping. Also got to give credit to accomplices Robbie and Euan for doing their fair share too in that regard.

The writing is pretty strong as well, containing engaging themes and telling tales that are so magnetic. In fact, it’s probably one of the most interesting records as of late lyric-wise. Can’t forget to mention the fine performances on the guitar as well.

A fascinating EP that starts good, and only improves with each subsequent number. Tom Vevers is definitely a guy that cannot be overlooked.


Children, Moscow




It’s been proven time and time again that Europe is home to some of the best underground shoegaze acts. Slovenian quartet Haiku Garden have established themselves as yet another over the last couple of years, and recently they released their first full-length record – Where If Not Now.

The guys produce an assortment of numbers that fuse elements of several genres such as rock, pop and a touch of psychedelia; the latter in particular giving it that immersive, dream-like quality the band are trying to achieve, and it’s certainly ambient, but they even succeed in creating a buzzing energy at times.

From a performance standpoint, the members play their parts to a tee. Above all, the vocals are fittingly smooth, the guitars adjust between dense and serene at a moment’s notice, and the synths are often the primary driving force behind the cool atmospheric sounds.

Haiku Garden’s objective with their debut album was to give listeners an engrossing experience, and in that regard, mission very much accomplished.


Days Dripping Away, What Lies Within, Caving, Hazel, Drifter




Following on from the demise of Silence The Foe and featuring members of other notable acts, the trio of U-Foes from Norway are wasting little time trying to make a formidable impression with their forthcoming debut album – Whiteout.

Whatever deliberate or not, the really raw guitars from Marcus have this sort of cybernetic quality to them, and this definitely helps give their sound more of a unique identity, and it’s even more interesting given that they use no effects at all.

The thunderous drum blasts from Peter are damn hefty and large in scale, and Anders delivers monstrous vocals on the mic. They consistently mix it up between the tracks, with some slower and swelling, whilst others kick it up and charge with the force of a stampede.

U-Foes have made a whopping impact with Whiteout, an unadulterated record featuring a line of awesomely deranged tunes packing tonnes of weight behind them. A promising start for a band set to light a fire within the Norwegian scene.


The Getaway, Lies Refined A Thousand Times, Massive Star, No More No More




A cool new act has emerged from Livingston. They are the experiment post-punk duo known as Gravelle, who are fresh off releasing their first EP – Liquid Skin.

We get a quartet of seriously addicting tracks with dazzling sounds and captivating hooks, particularly during the utterly catchy choruses.

Monique generates stimulating melodies with the keys at hand, while Kyle bursts out with real sweet riffs, and the two are both top notch in the vocal department.

Liquid Skin might just be the single best Scottish debut record of the year. It is so fun, so well produced and so damn memorable that we cannot help but play it again and again. Perhaps the ultimate sleeper hit of 2018.

We are not exaggerating when we say that Gravelle are special, and we can only hope that the rest of the country finds this out as soon as possible.


How I Learned To Stop Worrying, Touch Me, Shut Up




Glasgow metal troupe Rare Breed have been on the go for quite some time now, however they never really had a record to define themselves with. But that all changed recently, as after many months of grinding in the studio, they finally put out their new EP – City Of Hands.

They get the ball rolling in firm fashion, and never lose their footing as they charge their way through a selection of rocking tunes that are packing rapid velocities and a tonne of energy.

The mix of vocals and screams work effectively, the tenacious guitars really stick out, and the songs are loaded with catchy, heavy sections tailor-made for banging your head to.

Not perfect by any stretch, but still a great record that is both enjoyably wild and the ideal representation of a band who should be earning more attention at this rate.


City Of Hands, Broken Memory, Open Grave




It was around a year ago that Glasgow alternative pop trio Garlands came together, and they’ve garnered an underground following courtesy of their live shows, as well as their debut EP – Golden Sounds.

Each of the tunes on here providing a satisfying rush, thanks to perky melodies headed by neat harmonies, constantly pounding beats and rocking choruses.

With less focus on trying to create a complex work of art and more on something simply fun and energetic, this is a cracking little record worth going back to a few times more.


Wake Up, Don’t Do Me Wrong




For a metal fan, hunting through the European scene is an absolute blessing. Left, right and centre, cool new acts emerge and leave a mark, and here is an example that is no different.

Chaos Over Cosmos is the unique duo of Polish guitarist Rafal and Spanish vocalist Javier, and from different ends of the continent, they have collaborated together to produce their first album – The Unknown Voyage.

The pair really go the extra mile and deliver lengthy, progressive numbers with large, absorbing sounds and powerhouse rhythms. Rafal throws everything into the electric riffs, especially as he busts out some wild solos, and Javier utilises his voice to his full advantage to pitch out fiery harmonies.

While it could do with a little polishing in some spots, The Unknown Voyage is, on the whole, a thrilling record.


Armour Of The Stars, The Compass, The Sky Remembered By Night


the shan


Alternative rock and roll quartet The Shan are recent newcomers to Edinburgh’s rich music scene, and they did pretty well in making an impression with their debut EP – Meanwhile.

They crash out the gates at a fast pace, and from wall-to-wall keep it going non-stop with a set of charged numbers that have a real verve to them. The distorted guitars are damn good and the rhythms are vigorous.

It’s short, but gets the job done nicely. It’s a great preview for what this lot have to offer, and we would be keen to hear more.


Discount Violence, Crawling I


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