BIS – SLIGHT DISCONNECTS
In the mid 90’s, a humble little electronic trio from Glasgow named Bis began to make a name for themselves as one of the UK’s most distinct acts in the country’s alternative scene, and this led way to quite the flux of attention which eventually got them contributing to soundtracks like that of The Powerpuff Girls – a childhood favourite of ours – and even a spot on the prestigious Top Of The Pops.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to quite reach the heights that they were pegged for, and they would split in the early 2000’s, but towards the end of the decade, they would reform, and have been on the go ever since within the Scottish underground, and have formed a new lease of life in that time.
It’s been a busy past couple of years for the group, and entering 2019, they are back with a brand new record titled Slight Disconnects, and the results are just as awesome as we expected them to be.
The entire album is stacked with tune after absolute tune, each of them with this pulsing new wave vibe that grabs you and has you addicted from there on out. They never fail in delivering these juicy melodies that are just so engaging, dotted with hooks that glue to the brain, with just some of the best examples including Sound Of A Heartbreak, Dracula and the exuberant There Is No Point.
But you can’t have such zippy dance numbers without great performers at the helm, and all three members work at their highest level here. Most strikingly is Manda, whose sharp, distinct harmonies are so bright and peppy, with a real youthful quality behind her voice. Steven and John’s combined warmer, deeper vocals also click, the general production – from the perky guitars and synths to the pumping beats – is top notch, and the tunes feature some entertaining, often clever lyrics that hold our attention.
Slight Disconnects doesn’t feel like the product of a band desperate trying to cling on to past glory, instead being one that is a fresh, fun and raving good time, not only creating a feverish buzz that will rub off on both veteran fans and newcomers, but shows that Bis have only excelled with age and their talents are at a higher standard than ever before. Surely, it’s not too late to achieve mainstream success again, right?
***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 15TH FEBRUARY***
EMPIRE CIRCUS – Ti
It was 3 years ago that we were presented with the opportunity to check out Dublin indie folk rockers Empire Circus, and we absolutely fell in love with them, but we didn’t hear much of them since then. That is until now, as the guys have re-emerged to release their sophomore album, Ti.
The sound they produce is thoroughly rich and crisp, and has the listener just totally engrossed within a tingling atmosphere. It has a grand, cinematic vibe to it, and at the forefront are these warm and very sincere harmonies, and they are a major contributing factor towards the luxurious melodies that are further boosted by the excellent guitars, smooth bass chords and sleek drumming, and the occasional usage of pianos provides an extra coat of paint to the songs.
Bloodlines, Salt and We March Into The Night feature hooking choruses, pieces like One Snapshot are a little more straightforward yet still make a mark, and tunes such as Strangers, Under The Same Stars and A Promise Of Nothing pull in with captivating writing, but the cream of the crop has to be the closing number High Above This Grey There’s Blue, which is a masterpiece where all elements are employed to perfection, and it is honestly worth the buying price alone.
The quartet have absolutely outdone themselves here, creating one of the most brilliant, awe-inspiring records that we have had the pleasure of experiencing in the longest time, being as close to flawless as it gets from start to finish – already an early candidate for the best of 2019 – and cementing Empire Circus as perhaps the best underground musical act in all of Ireland; our favourite anyway, no doubt about that.
TWIN HEART – Mechanical Heart
To coincide with the 10th anniversary of them playing together, Dawn and Murray of Twin Heart have surprised us with a new EP titled Mechanical Heart, featuring a blend of the old and the new.
In terms of fresh additions, we have the gentle title track which has a simple but nice drum beat, the harmony is lovely and the lyrics, while straightforward, quickly stick in the head. We also have their latest single This Place Is Not My Own, which is our favourite to come from them in a while, featuring fantastic writing, a stand out chorus and what has to be one of Dawn’s finest vocal performances ever.
But on top of those, they also give us alternative renditions of 3 classic Mechanical Smile songs – Arrows, Kaleidoscope and Leap Of Faith – all presented excellently in a more stripped manner with the sound focused towards the emo-based direction that encompasses Twin Heart.
A much welcome addition to the stacked library that the Baxters have cranked out over the last decade, and hopefully this is truly not the end…
BURY THE TRAITOR – Ascend To Clarity
Since the Derby metalcore outfit Bury The Traitor made their grand return in 2017, they’ve been developing a buzz around them, in the meantime compiling together a brand new EP – Ascend To Clarity. It’s been a whole year since they put the finishing touches on the record, and on the eve of it’s release, folk better get ready because this is going to blow your socks off.
Embers kicks it off slow and steady, setting the scene before they drop into the heaviness with the incredible Season To Burn, highlighted by immense verses and a strong chorus, and from there it’s walloping thrills right up until the end, with other landmarks including the catchy A.S.I.F and Lion Vs Wolf.
The songs, in addition to being so tightly produced, have this thumping intensity propelling them that keeps the listener totally consumed and urging them to bang their head along. The great lyrics are also a key feature that add yet another notch to the already bountiful handiwork.
Oli is an outstanding vocalist with a real brawn behind his voice, and he’s complimented perfectly by Martyn Sheridan, who keeps himself busy working the kinetic riffs alongside Scott, while Martyn Emmett on bass and James at the drums churn out booming rhythms.
Bury The Traitor, as well as their followers for that matter, have been waiting on putting out Ascend To Clarity for ages, and we think it’s going to be worth it, because this EP is an insanely good one that excels on pretty much every level, and will go down as a major highlight within the British metal scene in 2019.
***AVAILABLE ON THURSDAY 14TH FEBRUARY***
SEMAPHORE – Leave With The Season
Hailing from Brooklyn, the quartet of Semaphore have been grinding on the city’s underground scene for a number of years now, and our first introduction to the group comes via their next forthcoming EP – Leave With The Season – and they grabbed us quickly.
On the surface, the guys label themselves as post-shoegaze, but their sound is not as simple as that, because there are clearly essences of rock, pop and indie meshed in there, so what we ultimately get is music that is diverse and can’t be necessarily pigeonholed.
As for the tracks themselves, they are pretty freaking sweet. Lead single Unreliable is the undisputed highlight, not only being catchy as all hell but also featuring really strong lyrics relating to the negative aspects of a romantic relationship in the modern age which we are sure many can connect with.
The rest of the tunes live up to that same high standard, driven by great performances from all the band; Siddhu leading the charge with bold and emotionally flushing vocals, Jay shining with superb guitar work alongside the former, and punchy rhythms being cranked out from Niko and Emmett.
Tightly put together and loaded with a tonne of depth, Semaphore’s latest effort is a cracker and proves them to be one of the finest up and coming acts to emerge from the Big Apple.
***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 22ND FEBRUARY***
BLAIR CORON – ON THE NATURE OF THINGS
We appreciate musicians who can deliver something different that breaks way from the usual mold, and Blair Coron fits that description. We actually first came across him back in 2016 when we got a hold of his first album DO RE, but now he’s returned into our sights with his latest release, On The Nature Of Things.
Within minutes, you’re fixated and locked in for the journey, and over the course of an hour, Blair presents a compilation of pieces that are nothing short of stunning, as he forms these intriguing soundscapes with a rich scope, sometimes soft and delicate, other times leaning in a more brimming, ethereal direction but always engrossing throughout.
Many instruments are put to use, most often beautifully gentle piano keys, but sometimes there can be the likes of raw acoustics, warm strings and even harmonies added into the mix.
It makes for nice easy listening, whether it’s before bed or on a long bus or train ride, it is a good distraction to ease the mind, and that’s something we can’t say about a lot of albums that we review, so if this is your cup of tea, then this record from a mature and talented artist will satisfy, being on the whole a pleasantly lucid, atmosphere experience.
BURNT TAPES – Never Better
Regret punk. If those two words resonate with you, then you’re in for a treat, courtesy of London quartet Burnt Tapes and their upcoming debut album, Never Better.
Their self-proclaimed brand isn’t just a cheap gimmick, it’s a perfect representation of the themes that they revel in, including loss and insecurities, and the negative effects of these experiences, which the guys capture to a tee through the captivating writing prevailing throughout.
The performances also bring these ordeals to life, courtesy of a triad of vocals rife with rough emotion; Phil leading the charge in stellar form in that area, aided nicely by Tone and Panos who also supply some slick guitar work and bass tones respectively, and Jordan completes the tunes with sturdy drum beats.
Add in a solid diversity between the tracks and you get a strong effort from a band who are clearly evolving and improving their artistry with each release.
***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 22ND FEBRUARY***
DANGERFACE – Get Loud
2018 was the year that we were exposed to the beauty of the Norwegian metal scene, with bands such as Kosmik Boogie Tribe, Leonov and Juicer grabbing our attention, and our latest discovery, Dangerface, ranks as one of the most welcome yet, having given their new record – Get Loud – a spin.
From the word go, they unleash into a string of insanely heavy, off-the-wall tracks that spark this overwhelming, high-octane energy that is so sweet, and they keep that sensation on a constant drive without much of a hitch.
The vocals are wickedly forceful, the riffs are pretty damn rousing, the bass tones have an extra crunch to them that is oh so good, and the drumming has a roaring power behind it.
It’s fitting that their content is about finding positive escapes from negativity, because this album can be described as one itself. Just stick in the headphones, hit the play button and you’ll find yourself on one hell of a chaotic, yet cathartic ride.
RESURGENCE – Voices
Australian hard rock band Resurgence haven’t been together long, but in no time at all they have garnered quite a decent reputation in their home country as promising stars within the Aussie underground, and if you get the opportunity to listen to their debut album – Voices – you’ll find out exactly why.
It has to be said, given their short run so far, they’ve already clicked so well with a firm chemistry between them as they perform at an equal level, giving us a tasty combo of hearty vocals, rocking riffs, bulky bass chords and stout drumming.
They have little bother generating a sense of excitement, with more or less every track donning a large scale, and that size is only reinforced by the staggering energy which encompasses each of the hook-laden numbers.
Whatever this record lacks in immediate originality, it makes up for with the rest of the great qualities that defines it. With a punchy verve driving it and plenty of variety on offer, Voices is just a pure blast. Here’s hoping Resurgence make something of themselves, because they definitely don’t deserve to slip under the radar.
PHONSECA – Between A Dream
Matthew O’Connor from Bristol has long been a musician, having trained as a classic pianist and also composing content that has been featured on national TV in both the UK and Europe.
But over the last couple of years, he has been established himself as a capable electronic artist with his solo project, Phonseca, which has earned him a positive reputation in the press and plenty of airplay to show for that, and now he prepares to release his first full-length effort under this banner – Between A Dream.
Matthew provides a blend of smooth, tranquil pieces that flow at a slow and steady pace, giving you the time to sit back, take it all in and immerse yourself within the enticing atmosphere being flourished.
The production is very pure, and the instrumentations that utilise the likes of piano keys, warm strings and subtle bass chords benefit from that.
Celestial vocal chimes are featured in a few places and they add to the ambience nicely, and Matthew also enlists the help of Kristina Sheppard to sing on a few songs, who does a terrific job with stunning, sublime harmonies. Honestly, the pair should collaborate more in the future, they make a great team.
All in all, a professionally assembled and beautifully executed album from a man with genuine talent that cannot afford to go amiss.
***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 15TH FEBRUARY***
JARET & KELLY – Here We Go
It took a while to get off the ground, but the faces of Bowling For Soup and The Dollyrots have got their co-project on a roll with an absolutely wonderful track, where Kelly’s sweet, bubbly harmonies blend perfectly with Jaret’s warmer vocals.
The lyrics make a dent in no time flat, and the melody is an infectiously bouncy one that is so catchy and able to generate such an elating buzz effortlessly.
LOCK & KEY – Changes
Well, this is a pleasant surprise. The hardcore outfit, who made such an instant impact upon their debut, are back and clearly haven’t lost a step in their time off.
Rich still brings such a weight behind his mighty vocals, while the rest of the boys help add meat to the highly intense track with a combo of piercing riffs and a colossal rhythm section. The writing is also damn good too, and the closing breakdown is class.
FOUNDLINGS – Enemy
A fine combination of folk co-hailing from London and Brighton, Foundlings give us a taste of their forthcoming debut EP with a dazzling tune blending the energy of indie rock with the enticing elements of dream pop, the former enunciated by the great riffs and beat, while the latter is brought to life through Amber’s pleasantly excellent voice.
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLDHEARTS – Black Diamonds
The latest project from the British rock veteran commences with a bang, courtesy of a dynamic single headed by really good vocals, accompanied by blistering riffs and sturdy basslines and drum beats, all wrapped up with an outstanding chorus that will bring out the inner headbanger of any sensible person.
CROSSLIGHT – Run Into Flowers
Perhaps one of our favourite discoveries of the year thus far, the Nottingham rock group deliver an absolute belter here, chock full of great qualities including an excellent vocal performance, high-octane guitars, a thundering rhythm and the hookiest of hooking choruses.
CALLOW YOUTH – Did It Really Matter
The Manchester indie rockers have been creating a buzz as of late, and their latest single demonstrates exactly why, as they bring forth a sensational energy in a catchy, jumping number embodied by fine riffs, a fast-paced rhythm and a really good mix of harmonies, with all elements being stepped up a notch during the cracking choruses.
BRONSTON – Leaving Utopia
After a couple of years without new material, the Edinburgh alternative rockers make their return to the limelight with a sweet track featuring grooving riffs, thick bass chords and irresistible drumming that goes all out towards the end for a spiffing climax.
NEONWAVES – Nostalgia
The Glaswegian rock quintet are back with another top-notch single with a sound notably leaning in a vintage post-punk direction. Sincere vocals, good guitars and sublime synths make up what is a slick, engagingly ambient tune.
ALCHEMY – Endless Quest
Taken from their upcoming album, the Italian band give us a hell of an exhilarating hard rock banger with a classic, old-school vibe. The ensemble vocals have a lot of spirit to them, the melody has a thrilling sense to it and the chorus is a loud and large beauty.
A BURDEN TO BEAR – Which Witch Is Which?
The metalcore outfit from Fort Wayne, Indiana make a notable impression with this cracker of a tune. Arising with the sound of dark church bells, they fire into an energetic track that runs with a consistent sweeping force, highlighted by a solid chorus and some provoking writing.
VIDEOCEAN – Genes
The swell new single from this London act has a low-key feel to it, yet it also a nifty melody to it that will get folk swaying their body back and forth along with the beat, emphasised by the sweet guitar chords and prominently groovy bass tones.
REBECCA RADICAL – Be Intense
Kirkcaldy’s resident “anarcho acoustic singer” returns with the first track off her upcoming debut album, a simple but inspiring number featuring identifiable, motivational lyrics regarding breaking loose and feeling comfortable in your own skin.
ALLUSINLOVE – Broadcast (4.2.19)
We entered a little late and walked in on Black King Cobra in the midst of repairs and chipping teeth, but once the issues were settled, they continued and did a damn fine job.
Callum is a really good frontman with a confident presence about him and holstering a strong voice at his disposal. Ross managed to keep his instrument in stable enough condition to dish out some great riffs, and the rhythms had an engaging energy to them that had us in their grasp.
Plenty of folk were bobbing their heads along and liking what they were hearing – including Jason from Allusinlove, who was stood right beside us and digging it – and they responded with a “par 3” applause. Top picks from their selection included Pyramid, Undesirable and the high-octane as ever Quake, off their Law Of Attraction EP.
We’ve seen them in tighter shape in the past, but with that said and despite the technical faults, they turned out a rocking set that got the night rolling quite nicely, and we still believe they harness some serious potential. Highly recommended.
In 2017, Shredd emerged and made us fans. In 2018, they blew us away with one of the best Scottish EPs of the year, on top of a class showing at the SAMA’s, so naturally we were excited to see them again, and they didn’t disappoint.
Chris was wildly into it as he busted out with these blazing, distorted riffs, Mark looked cool and collected while displaying his superb skills and churning out satisfyingly crunchy, grungy bass chords, and Calum battered out these hard-hitting, resonating drum beats.
They never took their foot off the pedal at any moment the entire way through, making for a half hour of non-stop, concentrated insanity that was capped off with the immense pairing of In My Head and Cobra.
Add three purely talented blokes with a line-up of top notch material and you get a pulsing, dynamic performance that further cemented Shredd as one of the best acts hailing from North Lanarkshire. For those somehow blind to them, they cannot afford to go amiss. They’re just too bloody good, and are only going to get better and better.
It had been nearly 2 years since we last saw Allusinlove in Glasgow, when they packed out Nice N Sleazy and got a party started. Since then, they’ve changed their name and their image a touch, but still appeared to carry the same appeal. Did it translate onto the stage though? Oh, absolutely.
They called for the crowd to step forward, who answered by squeezing themselves in front of the boys. Immersed within showers of flashing lights, they provided a doozy of a live experience.
Jason, clinging onto his mic for deal life, was a quintessential frontman, being a great vocalist, showcasing loads of personality and making a connection with the people, going all in with an outstanding, passionate presence.
Andrey…oh man, what a superb guitarist. The dude just belted out these flashy awesome solos that blew the minds of those within close proximity of him. Jemal was animated and fluent on the bass, while Connor furnished the music with firm, resounding drumming.
The tunes from their recent EP were quality, particularly Bad Girls and All Good People, we liked the newer stuff, and they also resurrected certain old favourites which we may or may not be legally allowed to publicly divulge…
The audience on hand were loving every second of it; dancing, headbanging and clapping along. There were demands for mosh pits from one individual but to no avail, although we did ascend to the heavens so does that count?
As expected, another showstopper from the Leeds outfit in the city, with no doubt that they brought their A-game here, and we can only imagine that they will step it up even more as they continue their rise up and onwards.
THE FAIM – King Tuts (5.2.19)
4 years ago, a rock band from Italy named Halflives (formerly Over) came across from Europe to Glasgow for the first time, and we were made fans there and then. They would make their return in 2017, and now here they were again in 2019 opening up a successful tour. Not too shabby.
The four wasted little motion and battered straight into Mayday and Half Alive, in the process bringing a load of energy onto the stage. Linda was a great singer as always, and showed this positive enthusiasm through, getting involved with the people at front row as much as possible, while the boys turned in good efforts too while they bounced around so fervidly, playing other notably excellent tracks such as Crown, Lone Wolf and Fugitive.
There were a whole batch of new young faces for them to convert, who were unsure at first, but gradually they warmed up to them and got more hooked as the set moved along, peaking at what was a special moment where everybody illuminated the room with phone lights for Collide.
Finishing up with the emotionally riding Burn, which was greeted by the entire place getting down and leaping up in unison, it was a sweet triumph for Halflives as they won over the locals and proved why they are a promising band that can’t be passed by.
Chapel were the one act on the bill that we were completely blind to going on, so there wasn’t much in the way of expectations. They walked on to the classy as ever HWFG chants, and it didn’t take long for the duo to get folk invested again, with a lot of movement around us and woo’s echoing about.
Carter, who sure as hell liked blinding himself with his beanie, had a lot of free space up there and he made sure to use all of it, launching himself around without much of a care, all the while displaying heaps of confidence which definitely boosted his presence. In the background, Kortney kept up with these pounding drum beats added both meat and a catchiness to the jumping songs that they dished out.
Our main issue is that when Carter ditched the guitar for a majority of the numbers, relying solely on the drumming and the backing electronics, the sound was lacking and it left an empty feeling in places. However, they recovered towards the end when the guitar was brought back in and they gave us the smashing pair of Friends and We’ve Got Soul, the latter sparking a venue-wide clapping frenzy.
So they didn’t always click, but when it worked, it was solid stuff that still had a handful of good qualities to hold our attention from beginning to end. We might just check out their new record once it’s released, who knows?
If you want the honest truth, the real reason that we bought tickets to this show was to see Halflives again, but in the weeks leading up, we checked out The Faim’s latest EP and were convinced pretty swiftly, so we went in with some buzz.
The crowd were occupied with a playlist featuring Smash Mouth and Linkin Park before the guys eventually made their way on and got off to a blistering start that had people headbanging along, and that electricity didn’t simmer as they drove along.
Josh was a seriously charismatic frontman, and you could see in his face that he genuinely cared about every single little thing he was doing, with nothing farce about him at all as he gave 110%. His devotion evidently rubbed off on everybody as they followed each of his commands, whether that be to clap, sing along or jump, and boy, did they jump, considering how much the floor shook at our feet to a point where we could have sworn that we were all on the verge of falling right through down to the bar.
Sam’s riffs were great, Stephen shined with equally excellent basslines and synths, and the drumming from Linden had a dynamic punch to it. Most of the numbers in their arsenal were just brilliant, getting us engaged with charged melodies that reached boiling point at the catchy choruses, with such worthy examples being the new single Fire, the wild I Can Feel You and the intoxicating as f*** My Heart Needs To Breathe, all topped off with amazing hooks.
But the highlight by far had to be Where The River Runs, where Josh came out into the middle of the audience and gave such an emotional, heart-wrenching performance that was so gripping, obviously having an impact on the teary-eyed fans that surrounded him. A powerful moment.
Making their exit with much love and appreciation for the paying attendees, it was a stellar experience to be part of that not only lived up to the hype that the Aussies had established for themselves, but also showed just much of a special effect that one band and their music can make on people, providing a distraction from the negativity of their lives for even just a brief time, and that’s exactly what The Faim did on this very night.
CHAPTER AND VERSE – Magazines (Live @ Moshhh)
Fresh off the release of their superb Glow EP, the East London rockers have shared with us the second part of their live session with Moshhh, this time performing what is in our mind the highlight of said record, Magazines.
This is a damn perfect rendition of the song, where they capture the immense energy which defines it. Josh’s vocals are bloody superb and as spot-on as they get, Darren’s riffs and Jonny’s bass lines are dynamic, and Ash puts in a tremendous shift behind the kit.
KARMA FOR VANDALS – Knights Were Basically Golfers (Live @ KeepTheHeid)
The Aberdeen post-rock quartet put their talents on display within the raw environment of the KeepTheHeid studios, and in doing so deliver a performance highlighted by a compelling energy that is formed from stellar work on the guitars, great bass lines and firm drumming, and within the space of under 6 minutes, they take on a range of different tones and tempos, and effectively succeed.
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