SMALL RECORD REVIEWS | #5 | The Shadowman



In the early half of 2017, Newcastle quintet of Tomorrow Is Lost came to fruition, and in no time at all, they started to make a name for themselves with a mixture of numerous great singles and dynamic live shows across the country on a seemingly non-stop basis.

From this, they have attracted attention as one of the hottest and hardest working young acts to emerge in the British rock scene as of late, and we couldn’t have been happier when they announced the release date of their eagerly awaited debut EP – The Shadowman.

Right off the bat, they instantly set the bar with one of the wildest opening tracks of the year in the form of We Are The Lost, and they keep that standard at a consistent high all the way up to the finish.

Cass is an incredible vocalist through and through, with such a rigid power behind that voice of hers; the central component of immense, awesome hard rock numbers ignited by a flaring energy courtesy of blazing riffs and seriously potent rhythms that go all in as they hit the staggering choruses.

With great writing and a clear diversity between the tunes as the icing on the cake, The Shadowman is an astounding record that is loud and large and triggers a feeling of sense of excitement that never ceases, leaving you buzzing for long after.

We have been an advocate of this bunch since we had the pleasure of being presented their first single, and we feel this EP has done enough to prove their worth and put them on a map as one of the UK’s next big hard rock bands.


We Are The Lost, Insane, No One Knows




Age appears to be just a number when it comes to music, as proven by Dallas power poppers Not Ur Girlfrenz. The trio are hardly in their teens, being a combined average of only 13, but given the quality of their material, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking they were at least twice that.

But what is it about these girls that has big acts such as Bowling For Soup asking for them to join their side across the pond for a UK tour? Well, the answer can be found in their appropriately titled debut EP – New Kids In America.

Each of the tracks on this are defined by really bouncy, buoyant melodies that are just plain catchy, filled with infective hooks along the way. Liv’s vocals are sharp in pitch and brash in tone, while Gigi and Maren drive the songs with pulsing rhythms that create this nice feeling of cheery elation.

But beneath the exterior of these pieces is surprisingly adult writing, with lyrics that touch upon themes that are pretty relevant to the members, and that is the striking quality where this record shines finest and helps it to make a bigger mark beyond it’s cool sound on the surface.

Not Ur Girlfrenz’ first EP certainly did a 180 on our expectations, being produced from their abilities that mix together youthful sensibilities and a developing maturity to the best advantage possible.

Given how much they’ve impressed at such an early stage, we can only imagine what the future holds for them, but we’d be shocked if it turns out anything other than good.


No One Asked You Anyway, Friends Or Memories, New Kids In America




Blackpool metal outfit Ravenface were making a lot of noise and garnering loads of praise back around the start of the decade, before sadly dispersing in 2013.

But much to our liking, they would then emerge out of hiding last year with a brand new-line up and a rejuvenated drive, and their comeback is about to be completed by their forthcoming album, the aptly named Breathe Again.

It doesn’t take long to get engulfed in the band’s sweeping sound, which is elevated by a lavish production quality. Leading man James impresses with bracing, highly impassioned vocals that are complimented by the backing harmonies of guitarist Jack, who is equally busy shredding some fine riffs alongside Leah. Meanwhile, Adam and Cameron team up to deliver heart-pounding rhythms that go all-in as they charge into the huge choruses.

While great overall, the one thing that does drag it down a little is that there is not much to separate the songs to make each of them stand out. It feels like the album has a whole follows a formula, which becomes more noticeable and somewhat repetitious as it rides along.

But with all that said, there is still a real effort put on display here where the group do make the most of their veteran skills. What it lacks in variety, it makes up for with hardy performances, an epic size and solid writing at the core. Not quite perfect, but a welcome return to form nonetheless.


Tastes Like Misery, In Time In Sight, Breathe Again, Colder, Light In The Dark




Whenever people discuss the Scottish music scene, usually most will direct themselves to Glasgow, but as we’ve been exposed to time and time again, the town of Paisley is very rich and brimming with talents, from the likes of Lisa Kowalski to The Vegan Leather, and here is yet another.

Folk pop artist Michael Cassidy is a fella that’s had his fair share of success, including nabbing the Best Acoustic award at the 2016 SAMA’s, but it’s been a while since we’ve had a record out of him. Luckily, that all changed recently with the release of his brand new EP – I Never Made It.

Spurred by delicate acoustics, the songs lay down the hurt and unhappiness of a failing romance, told through some excellent lyrical content and carried by poignant vocals that are equally sharp and emotional. The numbers also have some great facets that are memorable, such as the catchy chorus of You’re Gone, or the awe-inspiring strings featured in Benbecula.

Michael has returned to the limelight in the best fashion possible, with an EP that is so pure and authentic. It really expresses the melancholy tones of the material and makes an effective imprint that will have you coming back for more.


You’re Gone, Benbecula, The Wedding Dress




Glasgow singer-songwriter Peter Kelly has been in the game for a fair amount of time, and is best known for his alternative folk project, Beerjacket.

Over the course of the last 3 years, he has been slowly but surely forging together his ultimate project, that being an album titled Silver Cords, and after spending so long working on it, we are happy to say that the finished product has proved his efforts to be worthwhile.

Peter is an adept storyteller and lyricist all in one, hooking with some incredible, emotional writing that links throughout, conveyed through the heartfelt harmonies. The majority of the songs have a quiet, mellow tone, although there are some that feature a grander size to them, but all are gripping.

As you progress from track to track, you wait for that weak one to break the streak, but that never happens, it’s nearly flawless in being consistently strong, to the point where trying to pick out specific highlights is quite the challenge, and the more we listen, the more that certain elements begin to stand out and elevate our appreciation.

Silver Cords is an absolutely wonderful experience that clearly has so much love and toil thrown into it, and we don’t say this lightly, but it may very well be a candidate for the best Scottish folk record of 2018.


Hopen, Half, Nervous, Friends, Cord, Arms




It was back in 2016 that Tottenham trio Cocoa Futures made a significant impact in the British underground with their Blue EP, which was released to plenty of acclaim and made them ones to watch.

Over the last year, the boys have been hard at work in the studio trying to create a respectable follow-up on the same level, and now it’s here – Recovery.

What we get is a collection of sweet pop pieces that have this sheer, rich quality to them, basking in an enticing ambience that is joyous to the ears.

Greg’s vocal performances are so utterly crisp and vibrant, the smooth rhythms have a nice groove to them, and the melodies are infectiously catchy, with the sensational title track being the champion in that area.

Cocoa Futures’ sophomore record is just fabulously exquisite, and continues to show off the talents of 3 very skilled gentlemen that know how to get the job done.


Recovery, Sink In The Water, Big Time




I Am Pariah are a name that we’ve seen doing the rounds in the metal scene a lot as of late, but now that we’ve been given the opportunity to actually check them out via their forthcoming EP – Procreate//Annihilate – it turns out they’re actually pretty cracking, and then some.

As soon as they get rolling from the first verse, you know you’re in for something damn good, with all the tracks here being big, boisterous thrill rides. The harmonies are powerfully piercing, the riffs are plain wild and the programming adds to the scale so nicely.

The poignant lyrics are another element that stand out, tackling a variety of subject matters that range from something as simple as giving the middle finger to all those who treat you badly, to the cruel nature of the music industry.

They even delve into something as dark and distressing as child abuse, but they have no fear digging into topics like this, and all the credit to them for doing so.

Procreate//Annihilate is a superb record that is great on two fronts. It’s an utter blast that is tailormade for headbanging along to, but there are plenty of mature layers underneath the frenzy that make this one worth regularly returning to.


Heavy In Japan, A Place To Belong, Cult Society


Habberdash - MATM EP Cover


Hailing from Sheffield, the quartet known as Habberdash have spent the last 5 years honing their craft whilst simultaneously building their image within their local scene.

But it wasn’t until the latter part of 2017 that the guys would head into the studio to produce a record that would finally showcase the best of their capabilities and cement them a place as one of the UK’s hottest young acts.

12 months or so on, and the time has almost arrived to unveil it to the world. It is Morning After The Madness, and the result has proved to be as great as we had anticipated.

The tracks have a substantial sound that is real engrossing, chock full of energy and running off thrilling, turbulent rhythms littered with investing hooks that will pull in rock fans, but also featuring a lighter, poppy strain that will get listeners of more mainstream music interested too.

The vocal performances are avid and full of life, while the guitars are spotlighted through cool riff sections and blistering solos dotted about, and the bass and drum combos help add to the size and satisfy the senses.

Morning After The Madness is a short but undeniably dynamic rollercoaster of an EP that perfectly succeeds as the ideal platform for the band to display their purely evident talents.


Superstar, Like A Lover, Hear You Say




Alternative rockers Dead Fiction have not been around long, but it’s safe to say that they’ve been catching the attention of many already with what they’ve had to offer so far.

Things have been going smoothly to this point, but now they prepare for their first true test with their upcoming self-titled debut EP.

The general sound of the material has this pure, raw quality akin to that which all the great, modern Scottish rock acts of a similar vein that have sprouted over the years had. There’s also this perpetual fire that lasts throughout the entirety of the record, and it is one that never simmers.

The vocals are so hearty and have a fierce spirit behind them, the guitars are compelling and the drum beats only add to that pounding drive through all the tracks, which are topped off with choruses that are both large in scale and catchy as hell.

This EP is an incredible effort with so much to love about it, leaving you with a long-lasting buzz as it wraps up, and it only gets better and better as you run on back for more. We have been thoroughly impressed by Dead Fiction here, who undoubtedly rank high as one of Scotland’s top newcomers of 2018.


Polarised Parts, Crushed By The Weight, Bloodline




We can’t help it when we harp on about certain acts that we love, but when they make such an indescribable impact so unexpectedly, it can’t be helped. Livi Morris, aka Runrummer, is an individual who falls into this division, coming out of nowhere with her debut EP – Soul Wrinkles.

From the get-go, the electronic pop artist makes a tantalising mark with tracks that have this mesmeric resonance, simultaneously being carried by wonderful melodies and generating tingling atmospheres.

In other areas, Livi shines with stunning vocal performances, the choruses are so great, and most definitively, the writing is amazing, primarily tackling subject matters touching upon mental health, and doing so impeccably.

The strikingly addictive Good For Nothing is the prime example that combines the best of these elements, becoming what is in our mind one of the ultimate tracks of the entire year.

We have so much to say about this that we could go on for ages, but we’ll spare you all the extra reading. The point is, Soul Wrinkles is a tremendous work from a very talented lady hailing from East London who deserves way more attention, and hopefully that comes sooner than later.


Good For Nothing, Penny Drop, Eyes




Instrumental metal trio Grant The Sun broke into the limelight of the Norwegian underground scene last year with their debut EP, which got a lot of folk hooked, and now they’re back for a second round with another record titled Simmar Ur Bild.

Each of the tunes are driven by a firm, pulsing force that starts off resonant, cranks up for a fiercely exciting and energetic middle, before wrapping up on a strong note. The guitar work is consistently great, the basslines aren’t half-bad, and the drumming is seriously good.

An underrated little gem we’ve got here that is tightly performed, and will surely satisfy any headbanger that finds this in their radar.


Tje Kjonoj, Ondskans Vaktmastare




Ayrshire musician Stewart Bryden has spent the last decade and a half involved in a variety of projects, but never has he before ventured alone. That is until recently, when he released his first solo effort – The Bones Of Yesterday.

He quickly reminds us of just how capable a vocalist he is, with a tonne of vitality flowing through his singing. His writing is grasping, and everything else from the mix of acoustic/electric guitars to the harmonicas are done superbly.

The songs also stand out with their own individual qualities, with the title track being the undisputed highlight, featuring quite a rocking energy that gets you riled up.

Stewart has made the most of his veteran experience to deliver an EP that is thoroughly entertaining and thrives beyond expectations. Don’t you dare let this one pass you by.


The Bones Of Yesterday, Fleeting Moments




Curdle are a riot pop four piece of the trippy variety who have been playing around the Glasgow scene for a number of years now, but they only just recently came into our radar with the release of their self-titled debut album.

The quartet get the ball rolling with the rocking Give Me Your Phone Number, and from there, proceed to give us a line of tracks that swap between slow and smooth, and more bouncy ones with likeably rugged rhythms.

The songs of the latter kind tend to be the stronger ones that also feature some decent riffs, stiff bass chords and a lot of personality flowing through the vocals as they spout out some amusing lyrics, with highlights in this category including Dave Gahan and In My Car. Unfortunately, there are a couple or so that fall on the flat side that make little impact, and admittedly it sputters a little towards the end.

While rough around the edges production-wise and a lot of the songs don’t click as well as they should, Curdle’s record admittedly did gradually grow on us, because when the material is good, it’s real good, and becomes all the more enjoyable with each passing listen.

A farcry from being perfect, sure, but there’s enough here to warrant checking this out at least once, and perhaps it may be worth coming back to time and time again.


Dave Gahan Is Such A Love Butt, Give Me Your Phone Number, Dave Vanian, In My Car, Knock, Top 3



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