The last few months for Yorkshire alternative rock outfit Hands Off Gretel have been…eventful, to say the least. The band had embraked on a mission to raise funds in order to promote and distribute their album – I Want The World – via the once helpful Pledge Music, with a tonne of help from their dedicated fanbase across the nation and beyond.
They would smash their target with ease, but unfortunately, as was the fate of many striving musicians using the service, Pledge done a runner and have left the group potless, unfairly throwing them into financial insecurity regarding the record.
It was a dire situation, but despite that, the release of the album still went ahead, and it turned out that all those generous donations meant for the band went to a worthy cause, for this turned out to be a high quality product.
From top to bottom, every single song we get is bare minimum a certified rocker, each amplified by a storming energy which is so intoxicating, and if that wasn’t enough, at the centre of them are bloody awesome, whirlwind choruses that knock the socks clean off with such immense horsepower behind them, with the likes of Kiss Me Girl, Rot and I Want The World itself packing the biggest punches.
The writing is also on another calibre, personally clicking with us and keeping us firmly hooked throughout with raw, emotional undertones and relatable elements; It’s My Fault, Freaks Like Us and Milk being good examples in that respect.
This facet is only fully realised through leading lady Lauren Tate, who comes forward with one of the most fiercely bewildering vocal performances of the year by far. Her voice has a sheer intensity that pierces the senses, and she’s so believable in everything she sings thanks to her blunt, in-your-face delivery.
The remainder of the band also step up to the plate and bring nothing short of their best in their given duties. Sean is a lean, mean shredding machine, cranking out these mental riffs that elevate the excitement levels of what is already a frenzy. Becky’s basslines are consistently on top form, tightly played and resonating through the undercurrent of the tracks, and she’s perfectly partnered with Sam and the stiff, emphatic beats that he batters out to complete the beautifully grungy rhythms.
What else is left to be said? This is one hell of a kickass experience that is, in it’s simplest form, a thrilling, hard-hitting rush that will tick all the boxes for those who seek such a thing.
But it’s more than that, it’s a compilation of tunes that connects through the validating lyrics, and in combination with the members throwing in everything that they’ve got, we get a record loaded with passion, a passion that takes it to another level and is sure to make lifelong fans of any newcomers who dare to take the plunge and enter.
Hands Off Gretel have undoubtedly earned the right to success with I Want The World, and given both their talents and the community of people who keep them going on a daily basis, we have faith that they are going to continue pulling through and emerge better than ever, despite what they have suffered through. #ScrewPledgeMusic
Hailing from Pesaro in Italy, Edward In Venice are new to us but certainly not to the scene, with 7 years of their lives dedicated to the cause of a band who already had 3 records to their name by 2015.
But between then and now, they would remain quiet on that front, opting to take their time and grind away bit by bit for their next release in order to create the best product possible which properly exhibits their talents to a worthy degree, as opposed to just getting more music out for the sake of meeting a non-existent quota.
The final result is the Empathy EP, and their decision to take the patient route has paid dividends, because this has turned out to be something pretty damn good.
One major element that helps the group stand out from the crowd is their addictive sound, which successfully encompasses both the hardcore and pop punk genres; fans of the former surely able to be hooked by the brute heaviness, while listeners of the latter can easily dig the more melodic side of the tunes which lend to bouncier spots; and this becomes apparent within seconds of the opener, The Deserter.
While each bringing individual attributes to separate them from each other, the range of tracks on here are realised to a high standard with the combo of impassioned vocals and furious screams, charged guitars, tight driving rhythms, fine lyrics and memorable choruses, and besides Manalo Riddim providing a quick breather, there is a wild, exhilarating energy that is perpetual throughout.
Showcasing the benefits of quality over quantity, Edward In Venice’s careful crafting has given us undoubtedly one of the most satisfying metal records to have come out in 2019 that is potent, diverse and just plain well-executed overall.
Mairi Whittle, better widely known as Fenella, first came to our attention when we had the pleasure of seeing her live at the 13th Note a couple of years back – joined by Heir Of The Cursed and Russell Stewart, two other great musicians we can recommend – and we liked her an awful lot, and just recently, we finally got to see Mairi showcase her potential through her debut album – A Gift From Midnight.
In a matter of moments, we quickly see how capable she is in the vocal department, with a terrifically prime voice at her disposal, one that is dripping with a blend of mature class and chic elegance, and as a result, you find yourself totally hooked onto her very good writing.
The majority of the material stuns with a sound that borrows heavily from the likes of jazz and blues and has an easy-going flow to it, with notable examples including Pretty Abbey’s Mantra, Malicious and the title number, but then we get other picks such as The Western Way and The Pusher’s Lore, which stick in the head with their infectious underlying catchy beats.
Not that we expected anything less, but Fenella’s first full-length effort is an enticing collection of rich songs that are quite investing from start to end.
When Hull trio 99% COBRA arrived in Glasgow a few months back for a cosy little show at Bloc, they had us leaving the night as fresh new fans after delivering one hell of an awesome performance, and their mental know-how is captured to a tee in their debut release – Programmed To Coalesce.
A dank intro soon makes way for a set of dense, manic tracks that blaze along with a barbaric drive, and aside from a short interlude to break things up in the middle, it’s a persistent rush from beginning to finish.
The guitar work is rabid, the bass tones pounding, the drumming unbelievably kinetic, and the screams have a mighty power behind them, with the lyrics grinding into the eardrums and left crammed in the subconscious.
Delivering on pretty much everything that is promised from a band like this, this is an a stormer of an EP which makes an undeniably big impact in the little time that it lasts, and it wouldn’t be too big of a stretch to think that these guys could develop into something mighty noteworthy down the line.
Based in Oslo, VIGGO is a project that brings together a trio of adept Scandevian musicians who each excel at their respective fields: the savvy singer-songwriter Marte Wulff, the wonderful pop artist Charlotte Qvale and jazz extraordinaire Sjur Miljeteig.
As a collective, they shared a common goal of producing music that spawned as a result of their individual creativities being unleashed, and what we get from this is their debut album, Viggo Was A Love Child.
The three play their best hand straight off the bat with the amazing Get Up, an absolutely intoxicating tune with a fixating chorus which touches upon the notion of powering through tough situations and emerging in a better state; a positive theme that remains a constant throughout the writing of the record.
As they progress, they give us more great tracks that continue to make an impact lyrically, stick in the head with delightful hooks and impress with beautiful vocals, whilst being defined by an utterly sublime, sleek production centred around a sound really reminiscent of 80’s new wave but twisted into something modern.
Well, there’s very little to complain about here, VIGGO have went and delivered a truly excellent album that is rich and full of fantastic qualities which have us coming back for more, time and time again.