KATEE KROSS – Show Your Hand
Katee Kross is undoubtedly one of the most prolific and hardest grafting musicians in Scotland at the moment, with a trio of albums, countless gigs and a regular web series to her name, among a multitude of other things, and now she is set to release what has to be her most anticipated work to date – Show Your Hand.
If you’re not immediately hooked in by the opening titular lead single, then you might just have a brain cell or two loose, for this is a dazzling, stimulating track just full of life and everything clearly thrown into it, making for something unforgettable and easily Katee’s most perfect song to date.
In contrast, Two Outlaws is a very pleasant, easy-going piece that bobs along at a sleek comfortable pace, and Diamonds In The Dust has a notable beat to it, plus Ross’ work on the electric guitar is seriously slick.
Dancing With My Past is a definitive highlight of the record, where Katee is at the top of her game on the singing front, her voice beautiful and crisp, and the lyrics making the impact that they should. Bumblebee is enjoyably melodic, while Still The People Talk is another catchy, fired up addition.
The writing continues to hold attention throughout the piano-driven Please Stay and the smooth Never Meant To Be Forever, the energy is running on all cylinders through the rollicking What Will Be and only escalating further into the outstanding final number Keep On Keepin’ On.
Given all her past material, expectations were high here, but Katee has exceeded beyond notions with an album that is simply magnificent, with every song clicking in one way or another and exposing the Bishopbriggs native’s pure talents to a broad extent.
I’ve toyed with the idea over the last couple of years, but after listening to Show Your Hand, Katee Kross is now without a doubt in my mind the brightest, most promising prospect that the Scottish country scene has to offer, and she has truly earned the right to achieve greater things.
*AVAILABLE ON SATURDAY 22nd FEBRUARY*
There are few acts who have made a greater impact in the Norwegian punk field than The Good The Bad And The Zugly, and their list of achievements has only been expanded with the release of their fourth album – Algorithm & Blues – and if this isn’t a bona fide validation of the earlier statement, then I couldn’t tell you what is.
Commencing with the most Thunderstruck sounding of intros, Welcome To The Great Indoors is a phenomenal banger that wastes little time in delivering all the stacked goods in one fresh combo.
But that is only just the beginning, as they afterwards dive headfirst into Fake Noose, short, sharp and featuring both hefty vocals and an outstanding chorus, and that fierce energy continues to be carried over into Staying With The Trouble.
The on-surface inspirational interlude Follow Your Dreams quickly flips over into the amusingly harsh Kings Of Inconvenience, and that bluntness stays fresh through the catchy, riff-tastic (Oxygen) Mask.
F*** Life is another major focal point with it’s awesome, humorous writing and brain-gluing hooks. That also rings true for Corporate Rock, and What Have You Done For Me Lately whacks up the tempo to a berserk pace controlled by the tight rhythm section.
The Kids Are Alt-Right is the best in terms of content, as it takes a sharp look at the uncomfortable reality of the world’s ongoing political turmoil. F*** The Police is about as punk as you could possibly get and it’s a blast, and there’s one last quick breather before the guy wrap things up in exhilarant fashion with Requiem.
Jesus H Christ…if you want the proper fundamental example of how to make the perfect punk rock record, then no look further than this.
Algorithm & Blues is from start to finish a clear-cut, flawless product that swiftly establishes and limitlessly runs off a crazy momentum that gets your pulse racing to uncontrollable levels, and it helps that the performances are superb and the writing is unbelievably good, especially given how it can delve in both comedic and darker tones.
Ratings aren’t my forte, but in this situation, I feel like I need to break tradition and award this the full shebang of five stars. This album has set a considerable standard to be followed in 2020.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH VIRAL PROPAGANDA
A few years ago, a humble little outfit named Quiche burst onto the Glasgow music scene, and in the short time since their debut, they have swiftly rose up the ranks and established themselves as one of the country’s definitive underground psych-rock acts, and they have totally certified that claim with their recently released new EP – Cardboard Sunset.
Their latest single Dazed makes for a satisfying opener, being quite bright and jazzy and coming through with striking lyrics and a brief but damn sweet overdub-based hook. Grey Matter is even more entertaining, bustling along to a boogieing rhythm complete with a neat mixture of slick basslines, catchy drum beats and the addition of faint claps, plus the vocals are on really great form and the guitars are top notch.
They improve further yet with Silhouette, a sublime number that begins virtually stripped back to not much more than light, radiant keys and magnetic singing, before other elements are thrown in to build it up and it caps off on an astonishingly loaded note. And then we come to the last of the bunch, Reality’s Not Fun, which also starts off placid and calm, but gradually comes more to life and presents itself as a splendid conclusion highlighted by devilishly cool guitar work.
Quiche have compiled the best of their music in order to produce what is a quick but ultimately impressive dazzler of a record that displays plenty of promise. It certainly gives me hope that this group are en route to a prosperous future, which could very well be achieved if they continue to deliver material of this standard and then some.
THE WARHAWKS – STARDUST DISCO
Following on from the release of their 2019 full-length debut Never Felt So Good, New Jersey alt-indie rock group The Warhawks seek to keep that momentum alive with their next EP release – Stardust Disco.
Deliver is quite a snappy opener with a semi-punk tone surrounding it, and they keep the pace running hot with the insanely catchy and electric I Can’t Wait, which is topped off by a banging chorus. Dire is similarly supreme, moving along to an addictive, flowing groove and hitting out with memorable lyrics.
A hell of a cool, zippy drum beat racks up the energy levels in Other Side Of Life, and the basslines are more vivid than ever. The sharp guitars are the key factor in Hang Around, and last but certainly not least, the bloody good and intoxicating Don’t Give Up Your Heart finishes things off in storming fashion.
I’m thoroughly impressed with this one. Some hearty, layered and infectious quality content over the span of six strong songs make for an absolutely fantastic result that should not be flying under anyone’s radar.
*AVAILABLE ON SATURDAY 1st FEBRUARY*
IN ASSOCIATION WITH PART TIME PR
CHRIS SMALL – Something In The Water
Based in Perth, Scotland, Chris Small has been producing music for the better part of the last decade, and his upcoming latest creation Something In The Water is an ideal introductory platter for newcomers such as myself.
Something In The Water itself begins the record on a very lively, chipper note, particularly with the enthusiasm-infused harmonies and glorious brass section on hand. Time is a total diversion from that though, Chris instead opting to go in a more tranquil, jazzy direction, complete with a silky drum beat and stylish work on the piano.
Roses sticks with that mood, slithering at a chilled pace, enticing with tender guitar and bass chords, and delivering some nice, impressionable writing, and following on from that, Lay With Me makes for a pleasing, easy on the ears track to wrap it up.
A professionally crafted and juicy EP from who is for sure one of the country’s most underappreciated composers.
It would have been nice to see a touch more variety thrown in (more of the same like the titular number, to be specific), but pesky nitpick aside, this is one that deserves plenty of exposure once out on the digital streets of the web.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 28th FEBRUARY*
Chinese Whispers of Clydebank originally came to fruition back in 1984 and eventually breaking up, before reuniting 35 years later through a uni project, and in the process they crafted the full-length album About Time.
King Of The Night is such a vibrant opener that grabs you in an instant, and they only step it up another notch with Breathe, which is insanely addictive. It bobs along to a sweet beat, the tender acoustic chords are a delight and the Phil Collins-esque vocals are utterly superb. They then suddenly go in a radical dance-oriented direction with the title track, and it is a spectacular blast, after which is Rico’s Theme, a top notch instrumental piece.
Never Been A Better Time is defined by great riffs and a tasty hook that is guaranteed to get stuck in your head. The guitars remain a strong element in Midnight Movies, but it’s the glorious synths that steal the show, and while Au Revoir is a bit more straight-forward, the chorus is fantastic.
Take This Heart Of Mine is awfully catchy, Hammer It Home is drenched in this overwhelming 80’s vibe and the riffs are astounding, and lastly is You Can’t Turn Around, a decent one to finish on featuring some of the best writing of the lot as well.
One listen through later, and I have so much regret for having not found out about this group sooner, because About Time is a simply terrific record. I admire that Chinese Whispers stuck with the sound that was hot when they formed all those years ago, but have successfully brought it forward with a modern sensibility.
Admittedly, it does start to wean a little towards the end, but on the whole, especially when clogged together by a lush, high quality production standard, this is an album that deserves far more attention, content like this can’t afford to stay under the radar.