Small Advent 2019: Day #6 – Carl Anscombe | SMALL FEATURES

I’m a big fan of artists who are willing to avoid pigeonholing themselves to strictly one genre and instead choose to explore a variety of styles, and Carl Anscombe from Castleford is no exception.

After being given this debut album to review by the man himself, Carl hooked me in with a range of tunes that covered the spectrum of pop, rock, acoustic and even hip hop, and while there were a couple of misfires, he pulled it off effectively for the most part.

The world would be a better place if acts regularly striving on the mainstream charts were able to be given that sort of creative freedom to try a little of everything, because it’d mean more music like that of Carl’s on the radio.


Small Advent 2019: Day #5 – Jared Celosse | SMALL FEATURES

Raised in England, now based in Scotland, Jared Celosse is one of those acts that brings a sense of class and maturity to his music, and as such is a musician who is far too overlooked.

Going back to his contribution to Olive Grove’s Archipelago EP collection, you get to see his talents on full display, as he curates these sublime tracks that make a magnetic impression with his euphonious piano playing, spectral vocals and that ability to surround the listener in this enthralling atmosphere, and better yet, he’s able to translate that perfectly into a live situation.

I feel privileged to have discovered Jared this year, and I can give him the utmost of recommendations.



TIMEWORN – Leave The Soul For Now

From a brutal dark corner in Norway, metal quintet Timeworn have been churning out some of the dankest material that the country’s scene has to offer since they originally emerged in 2014, and with a pair of great records already under their belt, they’re back to reinforce their status with their upcoming third album – Leave The Soul For Now.

In an instant, they set the bar to a ridiculous degree with Sky Castles, hands down one of the most tremendous openers to any record in 2019, crashing out the gates with these massive dynamic riffs, vast reverbed yells and just this sheer sense of force in general.

A cool chant makes for a nice intro to Count The Crosses, which doesn’t surround itself in an echoic vibe on the same level as previously, instead coming forth pure and steadfast with strong raw vocals and another walloping rhythm.

Just as that track ends, Oblivion Seekers rips your eardrums clean off with a barrage of noise. The basslines are resolute, the fierce and diverse drumming is prominently showcased, and they switch effectively between slow, swelling grinds and these faster, immensely exciting sections.

Hellwater commences in a different fashion, the guys opting to take their time building up with some good chords as they go and provide a taste of their cool writing that spans the whole of this superb piece.

But after that laid-back experience, they turn the juice back up for the smashing colossal Paradise Crown, which comes complete with a belter of a chorus and sizzling solos, and they manage to keep that seething intensity consistent as they charged through the unrelenting Visceral Reality.

At this point, given everything they have thrown out, you would assume that the fuel in their tank would be drained, but not even close, with the group refusing to hold back on the full-frontal assault of The Fallen King, which again features some stand-out lyrical hooks, all culminating in a hell of a breakdown.

And last but not least, Vagrant Heart, a grand 10-minute climax that lays into the atmospheric qualities and is boosted by the broad-range singing to cap off this album with a resounding bang.

Good grief, talk about an experience. Timeworn’s latest effort is utterly spectacular, a beast of a creation that is persistently breath-taking through practically the entire near-hour it goes on for. Simply a rousing epic that will definitely prevail as one of the best metal releases of the year.




MAVEN – Am I Awake?

London melodic rock outfit MAVEN have been on the grind since 2013, and if it weren’t for the fact that constant issues no fault of their own had held them back, they would have reach a greater level by now, and if you need perfect proof of that, then you must take it upon yourself to check out their upcoming EP – Am I Awake?

A nice impending intro breaks out into the massive, arena-scale Stronger Than You, which smashes head-first into the listener with blinding riffs, a freaking awesome chorus and the fieriest of harmonies you could possibly get, and the colossal, perfectly-mixed sound invokes these electric thrilling vibes.

Not an ounce of that energy is lost or wasted proceeding into their most recent single Heart & Time, linked by rigid bass chords and blasting drum beats and fantastic lyrics that catch on dead quick and are a tonne of fun to chime along to

And finally, they keep the ball rolling feverishly into the last of the bunch, Am I Alive, another dynamic banger with more of that great, fast-latching writing, a purely zealous rhythm and these sweet hooks that are reprised as the song settles down to a quiet close, allowing for space to breathe after that experience..

Am I Awake is an insanely pleasing, heart-stopping rush of wild proportions that keeps you buckled in at a relentless velocity. The only downside? Oh yes, it is indeed that old cliché spouted in most EP reviews: it’s not long enough. I think MAVEN are more than willing and able to step up a gear into the full-length album route…



pocket knife

POCKET KNIFEArchipelago Vol 3

A few months ago, Olive Grove Records released the first two volumes of their Archipelago series featuring Jared Celosse and Chrissy Barnacle, both of which impressed in their own ways.

Now it’s time to be treated to the next pairing, starting with Vol 3 which comes courtesy of Pocket Knife, a group I’ve had a vague but positive experience with in the past, and after having listened to this, I can definitely call myself a fan.

Within seconds of No Benefits, I’ve fallen in love, thanks to the superbly bitter and smutty writing delivered by Louise in such a serene, uncaring manner, and the glossy synths are a nice bonus. The beat is ramped up for the catchy Custard Cream, again featuring some enjoyably surreal lyrics and really cool basslines from Michael that are distinctly present through

The high-pitch, vintage-like keys are beyond sublime in the chilled out Kick You In The Face, led by some placid dual vocals. They continue to implement variety into their sound by bring something real pretty in the French-spoken Manger Constructeur; a similar essence being carried forward into the final number Last Piece Of Pie, which really succeeds in reflecting that feeling of wretched anxiety,

This is a seriously fantastic record that hits the jackpot with so many elements: the performances, the words, the subject matters, the production, that sense of diversity, just everything imaginable over the space of five memorable, cinching songs that are all bare minimum excellent.

Pocket Knife are an intriguing duo who hold the ability to create something special, and I’m dying to hear more.




MOONSOUPArchipelago Vol 4

And now onto Vol 4 of the Archipelago line-up, hosted by Moonsoup, aka Niamh Baker, and she brings forth pretty similar vibes to Pocket Knife.

Unsustainable is a pleasingly laid-back starter defined by sweet, dreamy guitar chords, and that tingling ambience rolling into Funny Little Thing, which is equipped with soothing bass tones, a gentle beat and really delicate harmonies that put across the sadness of the writing quite well

Soup Soup Soup has a bit of a bouncier melody to it, Indecisive Sl*t-B*tch effectively displays a cynically harshness, and she saves the best for last with I Don’t Like Rocket, featuring the most curiously absorbing lyrics of the EP that should ring true to life for many.

Displaying a legitimate authenticity in her music with no visible traits of phoniness present, Moonsoup’s contribution is a mild, engaging and overall satisfying one.



Go Fourth


Outstandifold & The Wettygrippers from Kilmarnock are a rock outfit that I’m more than familiar with, being one of the first ever acts covered on this website when I took a look at their Hoors & Poodir album back in 2015.

They’ve been long overdue a revisit, and luckily, they’ve just released a new record under the name of Go Fourth for the public’s listening pleasure.

As expected, the guys fire out the gates in blistering fashion with The Key, complete with aggressive riffs, resounding vocals and a banging chorus. Without so much as a break, they launch right into the next cut I Don’t Wanna Know, where the energy is only doubly swelled; the main hook especially being so infectious and emitting these thrilling vibes.

Writing’s On The Wall is lower in pace but the rhythm section stands firm and belt outs some punchy beats throughout the song, and despite a couple of awkward mistimings where they slip a little, Intoxicated is a genuinely engaging piece with pretty nice writing and a pleasant assembly of hums boosting the mood

Horizons is another enjoyably catchy addition to the set, lined by some great guitar chords and solos in the latter half, and RISCO bumps up the speed further, being fuelled by swift and flurried drums while neat electronics linger in the background.

The Deceit regains that assertive tone, but the focal point comes out of nowhere when at one moment they break into a brief wave of supreme, groovy madness, and they close off with the effective ballad Faith Hope And Clarity.

It shouldn’t come as much of a shock, but the troupe have pulled it out the bag again. Go Fourth is a relentlessly exciting, hard-hitting compilation of quality tunes from a cracking act who are underrated beyond belief and should be getting a decent amount of attention for what they can do.



POP 1280 – Way Station

Following the release of their previous record Paradise in 2016, New York industrial punk outfit POP 1280 eventually settled down for a while after difficult line-up changes and the need to re-spark their creativity. Now after much hard work behind the scenes rekindling themselves and crafting fresh material, they are finally set to return with a brand new album entitled Way Station.

The first track Boom Operator really hammers into the head with sharp shreds and scathing electronic notes, while Under Duress begins in a more subtle manner and maintains that pitch where a glowing ambience comes into formation.

The Convoy is a strong interlude that carries your attention with looping keys, then circling back to the originally established sound as they slip into Doves, complete with the good embittered singing as before.

Hospice is easily the highlight so far, with engaging lyrics and a ticking beat that grows more vivid as the tune progresses. Monument strenuously elevates the harsh tone, particularly with the words being spouted and the series of thumping drum crashes that dominate the majority of this piece, and that stays a prevailing factor in Empathetics, another one that stands out writing-wise.

Leading The Spider also makes an impact with a slow, murky pace that lays on thick the sense of force, but The Deserter makes for a significant change; a cool, minimal tune mostly compromised of reverberating strums and further use of repetitious piano taps

Home Sweet Hole effectively creates this uneasy, haunting feeling, frequently striking with a barrage of noise while getting stuck in the mind with a great hook, and after that, Secret Rendezvous eases the audience out nicely.

After a long period of uncertainty, POP 1280 have re-emerged with an excellently constructed and captivating record that takes various twists and turns but never taking the eye off the ball as it does.





Kent alternative metal collective Crostpaths have barely been on the scene a year or so, but they’ve made some damn fast progress, highlighted perfectly in their recently released self-titled debut.

A solid intro gives way to Pariah, and immediately apparent are Ritchie’s supreme nu-style vocals which have an extent of authority to them, and he’s flanked excellently by Owen on backing duties, and together they are the focus of the great, memorable chorus.

While the opener was sharp and in your face, Meridian simmers to an easier tempo and drives forward with some pretty neat guitar work and a solid rhythm section, before pushing into a more involved second half.

Lastly is Bulldozer, which has a considerably darker edge, thanks to the deep and disgusting bass chords, rigid drum beats and thick riffs, and in conjunction with the good lyrics, it makes for a worthwhile conclusion.

Although seriously short and could have probably done with more time to allow a better chance of a longer lasting impact, Crostpaths display their chops in a valid manner across a trio of diverse, forceful tracks that showcases a lot of promise for this group down the road.




NOVANTASome Are Stars

A project a whole three years in the making, Novanta is comprised of multi-instrumentalist Manfredi Lamartina and drummer Agostino Burgio, and the final result of this extended enterprise is a four-track EP entitled Some Are Stars, and thankfully, the hefty wait has been more or less worth it.

Outside Noise mesmirises with this exuberant shoegaze sound, and the duo, accompanied by the warm vocal talents of Dario Torre, sweep between smooth, settled verses and a ravishing, riff-spoiled chorus, although it can feel a little too washed out. In comparison, The Plot Thickens is a lot looser and crisper, shining with some luminous synths, a simple but cool drum beat and more sleek chords.

Marco Barzetti’s great singing is undoubtedly the focal point of To Realise, where he effortlessly helps to steer the polished melody, and finally is Lovers, which proceeds at a really slow and pleasantly poised pace, persistently hitting out with these radiant keys from beginning to end.

It can lack a little in spots and some of the unbalanced mixing can lead to some elements overpowering others, particularly in the tunes featuring harmonies, but brushing that aside, this is otherwise a preen and pristine record that, when at full strength, is able to suck in the listener within an engrossing atmosphere.





This is certainly one of the most intriguing cases to come to my attention as of late; the collaborative work of Mali singer Kankou Kouyate and Scottish musician Mark Mulholland, with the result being an album titled Kuma.

Although the timing is a little off in the beat, Sigi is nonetheless a solid introduction with a cool riff-line and a fine first showcase of Kankou’s talents, and despite the language barrier to English speakers, she is still able to hook your attention quite effectively with her own native tongue, and that remains concurrent going into the pleasingly acoustic Da.

The title number is pretty enchanting with its catchy beat, and in keeping with that theme of variety, Bin shifts into a very traditional folk-focused direction, emphasised by the misty harmonicas.

Obadya has a stellar essence to it that truly comes through the mystical bell sounds. Kankou displays a stronger vitality in her singing than ever before in Ne Bi Fe, while with Dimi, Mark steps up with rugged guitar streaks

Lo and behold, Ko Da Koma is another interesting divergent piece that takes a turn into the country/bluegrass category. Yande is a key highlight that really develops as the pair proceed through the verses, striving in a widely graceful final third, and lastly, Djuguya makes for a decent conclusion.

Well, I have to admit that I was originally hesitant, and even then there are a few glaring issues, but taking those out of the equation, this is a fascinating experiment that isn’t afraid to dive into and play around with various styles, and as a result, Kankou’s latest record is one that those with a broad scope in music should certainly give a shot.



Small Advent 2019: Day #4 – Spyres | SMALL FEATURES

It feels like Spyres only emerged the other week, how are they rising so far up so fast? The answer’s pretty much a no-brainer: they’re damn good.

My personal introduction to the East Kilbride-bred quartet came in August when I got to see them live as part of the Saint Luke’s All-Dayer following positive touts from Discovery Music and I was really impressed.

Brilliant vocals, sweet riffage, a hardy rhythm section, and most of all, a strong presence that comes forth with an air of confidence and an exciting sense of energy that they’re able to maintain with ease.

To garner such wide attention with so little in their arsenal – namely one of the Scottish scene’s best debut singles of 2019, Otherside – is a testament to their talents, and judging by the decent opportunities already coming their way, expect this group to make serious headlines in 2020.

Small Advent 2019: Day #3 – Franky’s Evil Party | SMALL FEATURES

This series would be rendered moot as a farce if Franky’s Evil Party weren’t included. I’ve went on and on endlessly about the Dumfries dance psychos, so I’ll do my best to keep this short.

January, King Tuts, supporting Bad Hombres, totally unaware of them before, I was caught completely off guard and left an entirely new man.

Don’t hear from them again until the Leader EP is dropped, absolutely blew me sideaways and made a permanent impression with a batch of mental tracks like nothing else that I’ve heard as of late.

Seen them on stage a couple of times since, and they are a dominant live force that very few can match up to.

You know what, in such an abundant Scottish scene, where we have such a healthy selection of pop, rock and especially indie punk acts at the minute, why don’t we have those who are willing to delve into an original course like this mob?

Well, the fact of the matter is that we pretty much don’t, and therefore Franky’s Evil Party stand as their own unique, unhinged and controversial entity.

Slime City – The Blue Arrow (29.11.19) | SMALL GIG TRIPS


Before getting to the Slime City boys, there were a pair of supports to contend with, both of whom were totally brand new to me, and first was Hex Bar.

They proceeded to deliver a few pretty sweet, energised tracks that had quite a fair head-bobbing bounce to them and constant shifting between various tempos to keep it fresh; the third fully instrumental song of the set in particular was a belter that really clicked.

The rhythms were firm, guided by satisfyingly dense bass chords and super slick and steady drumming, and the partnering crispy guitars worked off each other quite nicely.

Couldn’t comment much on the singing, as it was usually too quiet, but seemed fine enough from what I heard. If I did have any issues, the only real minor flaw would be that they could have been a little less still, as it noticeably contrasted with the usually high octane-material and they could have allowed themselves to radiate a greater presence.

But putting that aside, they were nonetheless enjoyable on a sonic level and I would happily see them again. In fact, I want to hear more, because there’s certainly something lurking there with these lads.

Again, I was going in blind for 10AM, and they entered on dressed as if attending a beach party in the midst of a heatwave…interesting choice.

Right off the bat, they lit up the room with an infectious pop punk sound, carried right through a series of jumping, melodic songs dotted with damn catchy choruses, entertaining lyrics, and themes spawned from the most bizarre of inspirations; kidneys, eye infections…you know, standard fare.

When not battling problems with mad tuners and sudden disconnections, they gave the jam-packed audience sharp blazing riffs, solid bass work, off-the-dial drum fills and joint harmonies spread out between the three, and although they could get a bit too frantic and fall apart a little in the early goings, for the majority of their slot, the trio were freaking vivid and vibrant, obviously having a blast doing what they did, and as a result, me and the rest of the folk were hooked.

A hell of a strong first impression made here. I’ve not discovered that many worthy new bands under the pop punk banner as of late, but 10AM have turned me into a fan, and I highly suggest others who dig this sort of thing get them checked out as soon as possible, you won’t regret it.

Who knows, they could become a major asset to the scene, there’s no denying that they had the talents to do so.

Admittedly, while being aware of the name for a while, it wasn’t until quite recently that I actually checked out SLIME CITY, and I was thoroughly impressed by their line of singles released to date, so the hype was understood and I was curious to see if they could replicate the same vibe in a live situation. Short answer: yes.

The turnout was crazy, as crammed to the rafters as it could possibly get, a few (smartly) spilling over and taking refuge on top of the couches at the side, and while there wasn’t much room to move – like, at all – the people cheerfully looking forward to death still tried their best to shake their sweltering bodies along to the juicy music being played, regularly banging their heads and occasionally clapping.

The three churned out some immensely addictive, supremely infectious belters such as Great British Skeleton, Dial-Up Internet, and BBC’s sound of the summer, One Day Die, plus the very reason we were all gathered here, Glasgow’s A Sh*tehole, was a glorious anthem, and throughout, the dreary nihilistic words were echoed back by the attendees.

They flowed through peculiar, unpredictable sequences brimming with the sweetest of hooks created from Michael’s dynamic riffs, Michael’s groovy raw basslines and Michael’s electrifying drum flurries. In addition, the briefly cancelled Michael was a cool singer with a beautiful quirkiness to his voice.

The energy levels were running hot, their chemistry was tight and the presence was as intense as it gets, rubbing off in magnetic fashion across the humid venue. On top of that, their new member Shoe made a cracking debut, and the solo (sole-o?) was out of this world.

Making their leave after the awesome Less Jools and a wee slosh for measure, it was an immaculately extravagant experience intertwined by sighing in unison, contemporary patter and evocative reactions to vinegar-topped fingers, and overall, as accurately advertised, I left The Blue Arrow and went home mildly satisfied.

But seriously though, tremendous effort from the boys, they earned everything here.

Small Advent 2019: Day #2 – Inferiem | SMALL FEATURES

One of my more recent discoveries to grace this list, Inferiem from Motherwell first properly came to my attention when they had been nominated for the SAMA for Best Metal Act, a prize which they ended up bagging.

A fortnight later, I saw them open for From Sorrow To Serenity at the Cathouse and was impressed, and afterwards I gave their self-titled debut EP a look, and I was so blown away by it that I had no choice but to give it a belated feature on Small Record Reviews.

Over the course of a few years, these guys have clearly worked their asses off to develop both their sound and their performances, and as a result now stand as one of the most promising bands of the genre that the Scottish scene has to offer.

If you fancy a good jolly head-bang this season, Inferiem are your ticket. You won’t regret it, I sure didn’t, and I’m buzzing to see them again alongside Godeater in January.