The Spine That Binds | SMALL RECORD REVIEWS: ISSUE #5

Tsunamibomb

TSUNAMI BOMBThe Spine That Binds

After a successful and considerably underrated first run between 1998-2005, Californian alt punk-rock veterans Tsunami Bomb returned to the scene in late 2015, and they have finally culminated their comeback with their much-anticipated brand new album – The Spine That Binds.

Tidal is an ideal starter for ten, getting the energy levels up high right off the bat, especially with the illuminating synths that give it that sweet poppy feel. Naysayers assertively puts the foot further down on the pedal, racking the pace up to an insane degree and lighting up with soaring drum work and memorably hooking yells

The Rathors is a little more straightforward and doesn’t jump out as much, but the harmonies are in good form and the keyboards have an interestingly distinct organ-esque quality to them. Sinkhole is perhaps the lightest of the record, with a direction more in line with pop-punk, and the assemblage of singing makes a mark.

Petaluma is one of the ultimate highlights in terms of writing, and the closing moments are ferociously wild, and Dead Men Can’t Catcall is another focal point, especially given the potency behind the vocals.

Phosphene falls as one of the weaker cuts here, but they recoup with the fantastic Last Call, yet another tune that delivers a quality chorus, is lyrically effective, and quite catchy due to a thumping rhythm.

Lullaby For The End Of The World keeps that dynamic flow running with the forcibly riff-driven, Wake The Dead has a vibrant edge to it, and closing the compilation out is the poignant and empowering title track.

It’s been a long time coming for sure, but Tsunami Bomb have pulled through with a satisfyingly entertaining, riled up rock record that is persistently investing in both the subject matters they tackle and the diverse, altering array of styles that their songs traverse. Sure, there’s a couple of spots where they’re not at full gear, but these are few and far between, and there’s nothing that can be classed as even nearly close to bad here.

Overall, the message is loud and clear – Tsunami Bomb are back in business and aren’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, and I fail to see any downside to that fact.

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mICKH

MICK HARGAN – I’m No Good

There is absolutely no question that Glasgow musician Mick Hargan is fiercely committed to doing what he loves most. Whether it’s performing on stage, touring the globe or promoting Scotland’s young, up and coming acts, he will give it 200%.

This also applies to recording, and just recently, Mick spent ample time in the studio crafting together his debut full-length album, I’m No Good, and the effort devoted to this project really shines through in wide amounts.

The title track kicks things off, and immediately Mick draws in the listener with his trademark raw voice and honest lyrics, and the passion only grows in size as he progresses

With If I Fall Into You, he proves to have a noticeable knack for creating some nice love songs that stray far from the usual cheesy metaphors you often see in the charts, opting to just keep it simple and straight, and this realism makes for something more heartfelt that can be easily identified with.

Other stand out highlights in the singing field include Take It, the candid Snake And Ladders and the foot-stomping pair of Flow and Ain’t No Good Reason Why, where Mick doesn’t hesitate and thrusts in the whole shebang.

There are also efficient acoustic sequences scattered throughout, with such examples demonstrating this being Mexico, Beautiful You Guitar and the damn catchy, energetic and spirited Magic Sponge; in fact, this might just be the best of the pack.

Pina Colada is a particular memorable selection with a magnetic melody and a pretty memorable chorus to chime along to, Blindfolded is blunt in tone and nothing is held back, the truthful thoughts being spilled out without a care, and lastly Ultraviolet serves as a pleasant, low-key conclusion to settle things down and let the listener take their leave on a high note.

This is a record that starts nicely enough, then it slips into a groove of sorts where it only gets better and better and Mick is busting out hit after hit, one after the other with little room allowed for errors, and any that exist are difficult to pinpoint.

Overall, I’m No Good ranks as one of the strongest, most legitimate solo albums to hit the Scottish scene across 2019, spawning from the heart and mind of a very dedicated individual.

***AVAILABLE ON SATURDAY 30TH NOVEMBER***

IN ASSOCIATION WITH SMALL KAFF RECORDS


harri

HARRI ENDERSBYMazes

Durham musician Harri Endersby may have only fallen into my radar within the last week or so, but she has been quick to leave an impression with her wonderful content, and I couldn’t have picked a better time to come across her, as she just put out her second album – Mazes.

Something special is sparked from the get-go as she commences with Mountainside, which serves as a great introduction to the charming sound that her music encompasses, that being an excellently blended mix of divine folk and familiar pop.

Now that the audience has settled in, Harri captivates with most recent single Breathe, an uplifting song about striving and escaping from the darkness into a wonderous place that helps put everything into perspective and leave you feeling better at the other side.

Golden Hour is quieter and a lot looser in tone, allowing you to take in the silky smooth essence it has to offer. It seems almost offensive to have not talked about Harri’s vocals by this point, but as exhibited in the titular number, her splendid voice is tender, extensive pitch-wise and able to translate waves of emotions from written word to harmony.

Glow delights with a good beat and a gleaming chorus, while Small Birds pleases with these gracious overdubs and absolutely grand strings. Isla comes to a lavish life with credit to the seriously sweet woodwinds, and following on from the lyrically sound Flight, she concludes with the dazzling, melodic Close To Home.

In a way that I can’t fully describe, Mazes has this therapeutic vein about it. There’s nothing cynical or scornful present here, instead Harri Endersby surrounds herself, and in turn the listener, within a veil of positivity that is formed from her passionate connection to the natural world that makes up the planet that we often take for granted, and as you would guess, it makes for a mature and more pleasurable experience that people could only benefit from revelling in.

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FoxMed

FOX MEDICINEProcedures Mystiques

 “Bubblegum doom”. Seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? But miraculously, it’s a concept that has been well executed by Portland pairing Fox Medicine in the past, and it can be displayed once again in their brand new album – Procedures Mystiques – which is graced by the most cute and fluffy of covers.

Comfort Pony sets the scene, with Neezy’s perky voice contrasting with her grungy riffs, and the song goes upfront and in your face with this imposing thumping rhythm. The madness only increases with the dead catchy Ice Cream Man, characterised by these totally surreal lyrics that you are quick to accept because this is the kind of alternate dimension the band reside in, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Swift verses combat with a slow, heaving chorus in Strawberry Tree, and matters only get further off the rails with the manic Cotton Candy Planets, where Vanny rocks hard with his superb drum skills. Orion’s Pointy Belt is similarly hectic, blasting through various speeds and styles as it proceeds.

Continuing the running theme of implementing plenty of diversity in their music, Red Velvet Dreams lowers the pace and marches on with a commanding force, and the writing is the distinguishable major factor of Chester Milktoast.

With Sympathy For The Prey, they go in this intriguingly weird direction (Fox Medicine, weird? I know, right?) where they form this reverberating atmosphere of sorts that is sustained by Neezy’s echoic harmonies, and there’s also great hooks present here too, and to finish, Space Kitty chucks all subtlety out the window in favour of a deranged, highly energetic track dedicated to the titular character.

Two completely conflicting kinds of sounds, a far cry from each other, yet they are somehow meshed together effectively in a way I can’t explain. They just make it work, and that takes mad talent. If you’re in the mood for content that is original and out of this world, then Fox Medicine are a must. Buy a ticket, take a ride.

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Goldencore

GOLDEN COREFimbultyr

Okay, I know that the Norwegian metal scene is good, but for two guys aged 17 and 15 to be signed by a label to release their second (not first, SECOND) full-length album, that’s nuts. But that’s exactly the case with Ammerud partnership Golden Core, who are fresh off unleashing their sophomore record – Fimbultyr.

The lads establish a dominant force with the first song, courtesy of dank guitar tones, resonant snare shots and desolate vocals, and the aggression is only being cranked up with the shorter, petulant Runir Skal Rista.

Runatal is a 11-minute monster that manages to retain interest through consistent style and tempo changes that keep it fresh and engaging, never weakening their sound as they go, and it helps that there are great hooks dispersed throughout.

After that low-tempo marathon, they deliver something brash and berserk with Hrafnaspa, where the drumming hits harder than before and the riffs are more involved, not to mention the singing has an effectively gruesome punch to it. A swift blast of intensity from the somewhat needless Villist Vaettir, leads into Blod, which keeps that raw energy going strong.

The opening few minutes of Buslubaen are built up by these potent strikes, eventually unravelling into another bold, lengthy number which again goes through a series of altering movements and doing so well, and the album ends with the foreboding, almost unsettling instrumental piece Lite Vet Mennesket.

Johannes and Jakobsen have seriously impressed me here, forging a record that is diverse, sturdily performed, and able to make an impact with its callous force. These two have a bright future for sure, as demonstrated by their ability and laudable know-how to create music to a high standard.

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hunting

HUNTINGWhatever You Need

Coming my way via Canada recently was the Vancouver trio of Hunting, who had humble beginnings based around alternative folk, but as the years have passed, they’ve developed into something different and even greater, as demonstrated in their latest album – Whatever You Need.

What they have to offer comes to light with Scenes From TV Screens, as they showcase this amazing fluorescent sound that is warm and rich, first cool and calm before launching into an exciting climax.

The personal, positivity-filled writing of Gold Day lifts the spirits, while She Was is a delightfully catchy and melodic number. Black Shirt is an easy track to fall in love with, given the thick, cool guitar chords, dense cymbal beat and superb chorus; this should definitely be considered as a future single.

Better With Time quells the pace to provide something more acoustic-focused and tender, Devils & Angels is a brilliantly written piece, and Whatever You Need itself is so bright and luminous all around, shining with these grand vocals, and the addition of rugged riffs give it that edgy girth under the surface

Falling has these lyrics that pop out and almost have you joining in, they grab you that easily, Spider Tree bounces along with yet another intoxicating rhythm, and they finish effectively with the smooth and captivating Not Been Sleeping.

Well, colour me impressed. Hunting have produced an outstanding record that is choc-a-bloc with these seasoned, emotionally versed synth-rock songs, and better yet, they have no fear in turning the tables and switching up their sound in various directions as they progress.

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YARDARMS

YARD ARMSA Glossary Of Broken Humans & Beating Hearts

The duo of Noah Villeneuve and Billy Golding have been involved within the Bristol music scene for a long time under various projects, with their current undertaking being Yard Arms.

They made a good first impression with their debut Maiden EP last year, and now they have returned for their second effort – A Glossary Of Broken Humans & Beating Hearts.

Idea Of Me & You is a tender and melodic track, which really does well in conveying that feeling of emptiness, particularly through Noah’s fluid harmonies. The sound is very nice, where there is almost this shallow lightness present amidst the darkness. Keep On Laughing has a lot of life to it, united with the more positive theme here, and features stirring guitars and a rousing rhythm.

Comfortable captures that melancholy essence once again, and Billy shines with deft drum fills throughout the song, and finally is Heavy Silences, a very polished tune that comes through with both this sublime ambience and a lot of riled passion, and as an added bonus, there are neat snippets of brass in the background.

On the whole, Yard Arms have done well in developing their aptitudes in order to produce another great, plain and honest record that is as genuine as it gets, and capable of attracting an audience that respects a quality like that.

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TameB

TameBERSERKSuper Thinking

 A few weeks ago, my attention was pulled in the direction of London multi-instrumentalist James Pain, aka tameBERSERK, and I liked him a lot, and not long afterwards, he came out with his debut album – Super Thinking – and naturally, I jumped at the chance.

Spring Grove sets an intriguing mood with nice repeated piano keys before coming in with these bright bell-like notes. A mystical intro of sorts to Centerfold is expanded upon with heavy shots and engagingly surreal electronics that create such a cool melody which totally entraps you

The instrumentations of Best In Show are even weirder in nature, and in combination with the neat varied-pitch harmonies, we get an insanely catchy track with the most infectious of beats pushing it along, and it transitions flawlessly into Favourite Years, the enchanting song that made me a fan in the first place

Until lays heavy into the bass tones, and Velo simmers down on the oddity to lend a lighter tune that is considerably heartfelt in both the writing and the vocals; these two aspects remaining key strengths going into Traditional.

Following on from an interlude, Eastern Western restores this sense of energy that especially comes through the tubular guitar chords which protrude here. Ari Atoll is a fascinatingly rich twisting and turning piece with a really great chorus, and James finishes this off in the most spectacularly jubilant way possible with the brilliant Single Point Of Failure.

No beating around the bush here, I just love this. James Pain has burst onto the scene in a supreme fashion, churning out one of the most impressive debuts to make a mark in 2019, a record that emanates with this outlandish quality while being able to implement various customs and present a solid amount of feeling at the core of it all.

In the name of everything that is holy, please don’t pass this up if you have the chance, James is a talented fellow that sure knows how to stick out from the crowd with his riveting music.

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YOUTHILL

YOUTH ILLUSION – Terms Of Submission

Given the quality of this nation’s scene, it’s natural to be submitted umpteen great rock records on a weekly basis, and here’s another – Terms Of Submission, the debut release of globe-spanning London quartet Youth Illusion.

Straight off the bat, the guys succeeding in making a sweet first impression with the blistering lead single Better Off, highlighted by a banging chorus where the writing shines and Zach’s singing comes alive with a clear fire. They don’t let the pace slip moving into Cover Up And Die, where Rory’s basslines are more prominent, giving the rhythm a welcome extra level of force.

The double dynamic riffs from Matt and Zach, and Tim’s stiff drum strikes are the key ingredients that make Enemy as good as it is, in addition to some effectively hostile vocals in the second part, and they bring the record to a satisfying finish with the intense, hook-dotted Rebellion.

While not breaking ground or necessarily bringing original content in any capacity, Terms Of Submission is a damn cool EP that riles up the listener with this consistently fierce energy that is addictive and gives you the urge to go nuts.

***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 15TH NOVEMBER***

IN ASSOCIATION WITH SAN PR


patrickW

PATRICK WHALERGarden State

Craig Ferrie has caught my attention in the past with several great albums under the guise of December 91, and now he’s back to do the same, although this time under the new façade of Patrick Whaler, accompanied by the record Garden State.

Wake Me Up is a really glossy starting point that shrouds the ears in a thick, haunting atmosphere. That carries over into Somewhere Down The Line, before settling down into a nice track defined by intriguing lyrics and exquisite clarinets courtesy of Loren and Peter.

I Worry captures that sense of being apprehensive about yourself and your life in self-reflection, and Craig partners up well vocally with Marielle for Spanish Steps. From there, an involved instrumental soon proceeds into the engagingly solemn Lazy Like On A Sunday, the mood infused by the chilling piano keys.

Rut hits the emotions hard with blunt nihilistic writing, easily the most impactful in that category here, although Garden State is considerably lighter and more melodic in tone.

Difficult To Be Around begins with this grinding loop, before turning into something with this chipper bounce and a super catchy chorus, and again Craig impresses with his lyrical aptitude; the same can be said for Trouble In Paradise. Been Running has a lot of energy to it, before All Around The World flips the switch and provides a powerful conclusion.

This dude doesn’t get enough credit and quite frankly, this needs to change. His consistently well-written, down-to-earth music has yet to fail in leaving a notable impression, and Garden State is assuredly his finest work to date, indeed worthy of everybody’s attention.

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BRAVADO

BRAVADOCascadia

Dundee outfit Bravado is a ragtag group of folk from different sorts of backgrounds but united by the cause of music. For the last 5 years, they have been up and down the Scottish circuit, and if you need a taste of what has garnered them plenty of attention, then look no further than their most recent album – Cascadia.

The two-parter Dark Side is a rampant introduction that revels the listener in glistening synths and great guitar solos, and Guilty sways with a simple, cool hook. The pianos are a stand-out element of the passively-paced Where Have You Been, before they step it back up for the infectiously rocking Past The Point, and Look Into Me only elevates the energy with solid drumming and unbridled riffs.

Memories Of You is a vivid ballad, while the short Circles sticks with its catchy chorus. Return To Rock features these amazing choral harmonic sounds as well as jutting basslines and pretty enjoyable writing.

Wasteland is the undisputed highlight, as the vocals are displayed at their very best and get the emotions across quite well. The pack return to a familiar format with the heavy-going Ballad Of Roxy And Tim, eventually settling into somewhere middle of the road for the decent Better Than Lonely to bring things to an end.

Although suffering from lacking in any real complexity and the production standards leaning on the distractingly raw side, Cascadia is nonetheless a fun record that delivers in many respects and offers a varied selection of tunes that are worth revisiting again and again.

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JohnTiller

JOHN TILLER – Battle Ready

Hailing from Manchester, folk rock artist John Tiller is looking to get his foot in the door and make his presence known via his forthcoming debut EP – Battle Ready.

The melodic title track is a nice way to start, as John puts on display his great vocal and guitar skills; similarly so and improved upon with In The Dead Of Night, the lyrics beginning truly break out and hit the mark, as well as being treated to a really good chorus and a gracious sound that becomes ever more vivid as it develops.

The Tinman is perhaps the highlight in terms of writing, with the listener being induced by John’s engaging poetic words, and finally is Broken Now, which appeals with an easy-going melody and light toe-tapping beat.

While pretty straight-forward and not doing much to be distinct, Battle Ready is nonetheless a solid effort that shows that John Tiller has the tools handy to make something of himself. It’s just a case of stepping out of the circle and being able to create a unique identity that will separate him from the crowd.

***AVAILABLE ON MONDAY 25TH NOVEMBER***

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Eepee | SMALL RECORD REVIEWS: ISSUE #4

HYYTS

HYYTSEepee

If you’re even the slightest bit active within Glasgow’s music scene, then you will have surely at least heard of the name HYYTS, the collective title of pop duo Adam and Sam who have had a whirlwind of a year, ranging from dishing out a few acclaimed singles, to major support slots with Boy George and the like, and killing it with packed out headline shows of their own.

Now they come to another major milestone of their careers with the long-awaited release of their debut EP, cheekily titled Eepee, and there is nothing to be disappointed about here.

Right off the bat with Bullet, the sound is so pure and rich, totally savoury to the ears, and that element quickly becomes complemented by Adam’s slick, more or less flawless placid vocals. This, in addition to the chilled melody teamed up with a smooth, lo-fi beat, make for a promising opener that has me immediately engaged.

Things only better as they progress into Bridges, which expands the surrounding atmosphere with a couple of extra meaty layers, and delivers a fantastic chorus with a glorious hook that is so hard to rub off from your mind.

And if you were impressed thus far, then you haven’t seen anything yet, because next up is Heaven, where Sam brings his best here in shaping a flat out awesome, plucky dance ballad with an astonishing energy that could easily stimulate any occupied club.

However, DWY is a complete reversal, opting to return to a minimalistic route and giving us a sincere cut which is ripe with emotions that efficiently come through the sweet lyrics and heartfelt harmonies. And keeping within that general area, the boys finish on an ample stripped back rendition of Hungover, highlighted by cool piano keys and basic yet catchy clicks.

It was sensible to expect something of a high calibre here, taking into account their line of achievements and the sheer amount of potential that they hold, and the duo have clearly stepped up to the challenge here and smashed the hype barrier clean off.

HYYTS have readily produced one of the definitive Scottish pop records of 2019, feature five superb tracks that each go in a different direction and stand on their own as unique, fusing together to create a satisfying whole poised by Adam and Sam’s equally incredible performances.

2020 and beyond is going to be a bountiful journey for these two, who now stand tall as leaders of the country’s musical underground, and if you don’t believe that same sentiment after experiencing this, then you might just have a screw loose…

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CarlyBRIDE

CARLY CONNORAlways The Bridesmaid, Never The Bride

Since re-emerging into the spotlight a couple of years ago, Easterhouse songstress Carly Connor has seen consistent success, earning that through her clear-as-day talents.

Earlier in 2019, we were treated to her debut EP, The Goldie Hawn Stole My Guitar, which was awfully good, but just a mere few months later, she has ceremoniously trumped herself with the follow-up – Always The Bridesmaid, Never The Bride.

Any newcomers to Carly’s work are sure to be hooked in fast by the self-explanatory title track, which is the perfect display of her writing ability as she pens some amusing lyrics that are just screaming with this bitter attitude that a lot of folk can relate to, plus the chorus is really lively and enjoyable.

In contrast, Half Of Me Without You is definitely more loving in tone, with a genuine longing being expressed through the potent vocals, while the song is boosted by a neat, mid-tempo rhythm section.

The music is considerably eased down to an almost completely stripped essence for the emotional Swear Box. With not much more than an acoustic guitar accompanying her, Carly is allowed to go all out alone, on her own terms, and captivate the audience with a sad tale that is utterly gripping.

 And while their attention is fixated, she comes through once more for the somewhat standard yet still warm and affectionate Don’t Toss Us Away to bring things to an end.

Carly Connor has undoubtedly elevated her game here, with all of her key tools visibly developing since her previous release, and because of that, we get a wee doozy of a record that has truly confirmed her as one of Scotland’s prime acts in the country division, even more so given the alternative touches and no-nonsense personality that she brings to her music.

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exnations

EXNATIONSPink Haze

Within a mere couple of years, New York trio EXNATIONS have been making waves with their brand of “sad-pop”, hitting new heights with their recently released sophomore EP – Pink Haze – and if this doesn’t convince you of their talents, then nothing will.

An instant aura is sparked as Tether commences, and following on from that, they get the rhythm going with a sweet beat while the audience is indulged by some silky smooth, warm harmonies that fit their style to a tee.

The energy is bumped up with Floating On A Pink Haze, which bursts with this beaming life that becomes rife through the supreme synths, hammering drum shots and an extra effort in the singing.

These factors only continue to make their presence felt in John Hughes Movie Soundtrack, suitably titled given the purely nostalgic 80’s vibes dripping out of this one, particularly during the ravishing chorus, and the lyrics are great here too.

Their latest single Slow Erosion strides at a gentler pace, simultaneously soaking within a thick atmosphere and showcasing more nice writing, but they gradually turn up the dial with top notch guitar work and a sense of passion becoming apparent.

Modern Kids is easily the catchiest of the lot; you’ll find it really difficult to resist dancing along to; and soon they subside again for the enchanting and emotional finale, Dreaming Still.

Hands down one of the most dazzling records to hit the shelves all year that just sucks you in with empathetic content and a marvellously transcendent sound that is beyond infectious, firmly elevated by a high quality, professionally handled production standard.

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Throatsnapper

THROATSNAPPERAbout The Dead

In 2015, Belgian sludgy doom metal four-piece Throatsnapper first came to prominence with their self-titled debut release, but it wasn’t until their long-awaited follow-up album – About The Dead – that they would truly hit their stride.

A faint 30 second screeching intro explodes into the grimy Another Way, with Jan ploughing through on the kit with an uncompromising force, Jannick and Jens dishing out these daunting riffs and Wouter blasting these sheer vocals, and coming in around the middle are these heaving, stomach-churning drops.

From Wood To Gallows takes it steady, gradually creeping in and setting the mood; Wouter plucking out these thick bass chords as they go; before out of nowhere exploding into the heavy stuff, although this time giving us something a little more melodic and somewhat catchy, but without sacrificing any of the established elements that make their sound work.

Main single Why follows the pattern made routine by this point, but they are coming off louder and larger than ever before, with none of the members holding back whatsoever in their fields, and they only escalate as they head towards the finish line. Emerging fresh off that, Wintermoon is where they finally break from the formula and fire straight into the hefty, gut-punching material with awesome guitar progressions galore.

We get a reprieve as they kick off To Hades, but of course that doesn’t last long, returning to their regular scheduled content in no time flat. A fine number but probably the most standard of the bunch. However, they make up for that with the climatic Dodenmars, with the bass tones especially reaching murkier, ear-piercing limits and the vocals hitting their optimum level.

Despite representing a genre that’s not always the best when it comes to variety, Throatsnapper – through their commanding performances and shattering instrumentations – manage to deliver a product with diversity between the brutal, thumping tracks and a persistently engaging hook to keep listeners immersed.

 Easily one of the most promising young metal acts I’ve come across from the continent as of late, and definitely deserving of more widespread attention.

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MarthaBean

MARTHA BEAN – Here Comes The Snowstorm

Now this isn’t meant as a putdown for anybody following his path, but it’s common knowledge that the acoustic/singer-songwriter field is very packed and competitive, and also one with a limited toolset to hand where you have to bring something worthwhile to make even the slightest impact.

Only a miniscule handful make it through, and similarly, not that many leave much of a lasting impression to begin with, but Martha Bean from Leicester is a different story, having created a special result with her new EP – Here Comes The Snowstorm.

Exhibited quickly in Slippers To A Wedding are Martha’s enchanting harmonies, which are soft and super sleek, which in turn makes her very welcoming and you find yourself captivated and giving your utmost attention to the charming lyrics of this song.

Another aspect that is vividly present is this beautiful sense of atmosphere, becoming more prominent in Beneath The Shadows, which in addition to the vocals are formed from her delicately polished strumming and the marvellous accompanying string section, and together they blend impeccably.

The lead single Along The Lonely is another strong cut thanks to a lovely melody, a cool and collected drum beat and the interesting writing which dives into what is means to have a so-called “happy” relationship.

Circles continues to imprint with a light, chilling tone and magnetic words, before she closes out with perhaps the most touching of the lot, When I Hold You In My Arms, an emotionally-flowing love letter from mother to child that will tug the heartstrings of anybody, parent or not.

Martha Bean has done an absolutely fantastic job here. Not only is she a great performer, but much more importantly, she is real, genuine and down-to-earth; a vital benefit here because instead of producing standard, bland material that music of this sort can easily fall into the trap of, she has crafted tunes that are from-the-heart as it gets and able to make a deep, personal connection with the audience.

One of the most positive, true-to life-listening experiences that I’ve had the grateful pleasure of indulging in this entire year, and funnily enough, given the title, I can’t help but feel this is a quintessentially warm record to get all cosied up to as a distraction from the cold, harsh winter weather.

***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 15TH NOVEMBER***

IN ASSOCIATION WITH LOST IN THE MANOR


WAAFstrangers

WE ARE ALL FOSSILSSongs For Strangers

Since bearing witness to him play Glasgow alongside close buddy Marc Halls in 2017, I’ve been a keen follower of Jakob Oelofse, aka We Are All Fossils. Last year, he delivered a great album in the form of The Optimist, and he’s back to entertain further with his next compilation – Song For Strangers.

Merry Go Round is a pleasing opener with a warm sound that is strengthened by the accompanying pianos and strings, after which Just A Little Spark picks up the pace a little as it rides along a chipper melody to tap your foot to and striking lyrics that seamlessly grab your attention.

We All Know That is a significant highlight, the first half almost haunting in tone and the detailed writing entrancing the listener, eventually leading into a grander, still magnetic second half that lights up the senses.

The minimal, prominently chord-driven My Long Lost Friend is dripping with this terrific celtic-folk vibe, and the double dose of When You’re The Rut and Bad Dreams keep things remaining simple with more tender harmonies and light acoustics. Finally is Winter Sun, perhaps the best written of the bunch, and it makes for a wonderful closing track.

Songs For Strangers is another welcome, well-executed addition to Jakob’s illustrious library, but honestly, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from this chap.

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CRHy

CRAIG-RUSSELL HORNEYamantaka

Glasgow chap Craig-Russell Horne is a face that I’ve been following closely since The 21st State ceased to be and he dived into the world of electronic music. His mainstream-focused debut Robotz & Machinez EP was a solid first impression, but it was with his dark, offbeat album Into The Absence Of Light that he truly crafted an identity for himself.

He recently revisited the more traditional pop sound, and successfully so, with his Sleepwalking and This Ain’t Love singles, but being him, he’s decided to divert from the beaten path with another intriguing concept record completed within the space of 67 hours – Yamantaka – exploring the Buddhist faith through the 7 chapter story of, what else, Yamantaka.

With Transcendence, it becomes clear quite fast that Craig is entering house territory this time around. There are some nice harmony samples dotted about until midway through where a thumping bass beat is thrown into the mix, with more juicy flavour added on as it progresses.

Yama’s Warning is enriched by an almost haunting atmosphere, emphasised in particular by the eerily creepy enhanced vocals, and the song melody-wise harkens back to Terrifying off the previous album, which actually sorts of fits here.

The Battle Of Yamantaka & Yama is resolute and in your face, an ideal reflection of the tune’s theme, and the predictably minimal Meditative is carried by the good, albeit overly autotuned singing.

However, Enlightened is a complete flip-around as it goes in a stimulating dance direction, although at points it does seem a little too similar to the earlier Yama’s Warming.

Dukkha is a candidate for top highlight here, bringing forth some legitimate emotions seeping through the interesting lyrics being sung. And that also rings true for the sweet final offering, Samsara Is Broken.

In spots, it doesn’t quite hit the mark that I hoped for, and it’s probably not going to have the same long-term impact that Into The Absence Of Light made, but saying that, this is a compelling piece of work touching upon curious ideas while branching out into and experimenting with a range of different styles, both achieved pretty well.

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hOLYSNAKES

HOLY SNAKESBe Kind

 When I ordered a physical copy of Queequeg’s Coffin EP from Make-That-A-Take Records, it came accompanied with another record from the label that was released earlier this year – Holy Snakes’ Be Kind.

The Dundee trio self-described themselves as “garage soul”. I wasn’t entirely sure what that entailed but given that these guys had slipped my radar for a while now, I was willingly eager to give them a bash here.

Well, they certainly deliver on the soul front from the get-go with the slow-grooving God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, which blissfully feasts the eardrums with an enticing bass line throughout.

The rawness of the production takes a little time to get used to, but it proves to be effective in Welcome To The Neighbourhood, helping to boost the damn nice riffs that gives the music an appealing, encompassing blues vibe, and it caps off with a stirring climax.

That same energy crosses over into the boogieing Applause Sign, bringing an extra level of excitement via the rad rhythm driven by fervent drumming, especially in the later half.

Train Song lies on the opposite end of the spectrum, bringing the pace back down again for another cool, easy-going number where the vocals are at their best, and they finish stylishly on the solid, lengthy Feels Fine.

As an introductory piece, Be Kind makes for a handy showcase that succeeds in showcasing the talents for Holy Snakes, thanks to a neat bunch of songs that each provide their own individual treats to keep folk amused.

And I’m also appreciative of the different offering from the usually punk-focused MTAT team, because good music isn’t limited to just the one genre.

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IN ASSOCIATION WITH MAKE-THAT-A-TAKE RECORDS


LNT

LIKE NO TOMORROWNo Self Control

2019 has seen me being showered with an endless stream of cracking punk bands residing in the USA, and here’s another hailing from Virginia – Like No Tomorrow – who just recently came out with a new EP titled No Self Control.

Grand Delusion is a belter of an opener, the four guys wasting little breath in delivering a hard-hitting track with full-frontal vocals, a good guitar solo from Kevin and a blinding chorus.

Eviction Notice starts fine but begins to fall apart as it goes along, with everything going out of time and getting messy, ultimately leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Although they do begin to recover with All My Friends Are Dead; not totally tightened up but definitely better, plus it has a great hook to it and Matt’s deliveries are on point.

They’ve more or less properly found their stride again with the title number, pushed by a hardy rhythm produced from Ray’s rugged bass lines and Art’s catchy drum beats, and those same elements carry over into the fiercely energetic Skate Rat’s Revenge.

The performance are again a little iffy in the verses of Emotional Vomit, but this is made up for by the raunchy lyrics and another stand-out chorus. The writing continues to be a highlight with the riff-loaded Thank Yer Mom, and they close things out with the fast and furious Shoulda Been Eddie.

Undoubtedly, there are a few kinks that the quartet could have easily fixed up and made more coherent, but thankfully this is only a glaring issue in brief waves, because otherwise Like No Tomorrow come through with a rampant, balls-to-the-wall record that is insanely entertaining. Flawed? Yes. Worth the price? Hell yeah.

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ohchill

OH CHILLOh, Two Animals

 South Korean rock duo Oh Chill first became known to me under their original name, 57, back two years ago, and then they disappeared off my radar since, only just recently coming back into my attention with their current guise and a debut album to go along with it – Oh Two Animals.

Love Me More makes for a promising start, getting an energy going and setting these grungy overtones that come to life through Jun’s solid guitar work. The pair only step up their game twofold with the dynamic title track, where the dual rowdy vocals mesh together quite nicely.

The mixing’s a little off on Do Not Run, but Snow still breaks through to deliver some real blistering drum beats, and the intensity only builds up and up towards the finish.

Road Kill is a slow-running instrumental that makes for a pleasant change of pace, serving as a good pause before getting back to business with Should Be Better, coming equipped with a banging chorus and prime riffs; the short and snappy The Message similarly swaying myself with a juicy rhythm.

unfortunately doesn’t make much of an impression, but You And I sure as hell does; an off-the-chain belter where both members lunge in full force and tear it up.

And after dicing out one loud and wild track after another, they give us something more mature and even fairly emotional with the finale, On And On, highlighted by these passionately hollered harmonies.

The production isn’t the cleanest and it could have done with a little spot of polishing up, but otherwise the newly-christened Oh Chill have went and made a statement, making their talents known with a really fun, rousing record that certainly should not be taken for granted.

If given the opportunity to try out Oh Two Animals, whatever you do, don’t pass up on it.

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Grave Danger

GRAVE DANGERTomb It May Concern

 Halloween is awesome, but how do you make it even more awesome? Being treated to the perfect soundtrack for the season, and luckily, the world was bestowed that by Californian goth-ska outfit Grave Danger who, for the second year in a row, released a spooky EP by the beautifully cheesy title of Tomb It May Concern.

Shredding riffs make for a rocking intro to the energetic Give Up The Ghost, getting the audience in a state of buzz via a tubular wave of brass and spirited vocals, also entertaining with some fun, alternatively romantic lyrics along the way.

The fun times extensively roll on throughout Bigfoot Beach, where the rhythm section really show off their wherewithal. Cemetarrarium is mentally wild, to say the least, plus the writing is amusing, the theremin adds a suitably ghostly essence and the chorus is such a blast.

They then tackle the Misfits classic Halloween in their likeable style, in the process pulling off quite the charming rendition, after which they culminate on the raving Undead End Job, again featuring a tonne of character, especially taking into account the almost deranged singing here, and engaging lyrical content.

A slightly odd nitpick for a light-hearted record of this nature, but the gothic element is a little lacking in big chunks, which is only a complaint given how much they promote themselves as such, but taking that out the equation, Grave Danger’s sophomore record is a devilish magnificent party that could honestly be enjoyed 365 days a year, never mind exclusively around October.

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IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA


MilhouseVH

MILHOUSE VAN HALEN4

 A few months ago, Manchester drummer Milhouse Van Halen embarked on an project to release a series of 12 acoustic EP’s spanning across an entire year. As of now, he’s reached number 4, offering a pair of nihilistic punk tracks.

The first, Romance, is a brutally honest dive into a relationship that is empty and totally drained of love, cleverly working in how that is displayed in simple events such as watching a film or eating dinner together.

The second, Divorce, is more harsh in tone, and effectively so, with the artist not holding back as he details a break-up through the ruthless lyrics and his sharp vocal delivery.

It may be short, but Milhouse Van Halen makes a swift impact through these two songs with no false emotions or strings attached. This has made me a fan personally, and I’m looking forward to what he has in store for us next for the remainder of this venture.

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IN ASSOCIATION WITH HORN & HOOF RECORDS