Faithless Rituals | SMALL MUSIC SCENE: ISSUE #10



The producer of the project, Eagles Of Death Metal contributor Dave Catching, welcomes the audience essentially hyping everyone up, ensuring that they be prepared for the apparently awesome experience that lies ahead…and he is sure as hell not lying.

The band enter and make their presence felt in supreme fashion as they churn out You Got Nothin’, which batters through your skull with these stout, blinding riffs courtesy of Sean while the Hell Kitten herself Kayley displays her fantastic vocal knacks. They flip the dial and take it down at one point, keeping it low and building anticipation for a solid amount of time, before launching back up in explosive waves.

The established energy only grows more prodigious in Lost In Shock, characterised by this sensationally dynamic rhythm herded by wieldy bass rumbles and driving drum shifts from Russell and Max respectively.

Punk Song is where they start to dive into the more ambitious material, in this case efficiently straying through a multitude of different signatures and patterns but maintaining a fresh buzz the whole way right up until the blow-away climax, while treating us to cracking solos and good lyrics.

It Won’t Stop is an interesting one, combining an old-fashioned blues style with this dark, foreboding tone, the final result being groovy as well as menacing, and the uniqueness makes this a prime highlight.

Skull & Pistons is more straight forward, but that isn’t a downfall whatsoever, because it’s fast, furious and flat out intoxicating. She Is So isn’t too dissimilar in that regard, being another rousing banger linked by a memorable chorus.

With Blue Desert, the group have another go at producing an elaborate, progressive track, and the outcome is an eleven minute symphony that is broad and divergent, composed from a mixture of everything imaginable; chords, beats, singing, pianos, strings, peculiar synths and whatever other bits and pieces they can get their hands on; and it’s quite the magnificent spectacle.

And as more or less a special encore, they make their exit with the catchy, immense, and exhilarating Electric Church, and you might need a wee trip to the doctor if you’re not sent home smiling by this beast of a song.

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise given the standard that Sky Valley Mistress have developed over the years, but Faithless Rituals is an absolutely outstanding album, nailing it with bullseye after bullseye, not a single track undeserving of being here, it comes as close to perfect as it gets.

These four have been around the block for ages, and with talent of this calibre, it’s a heinous crime that they are still floating about at their current level. They are so long overdue a breakthrough, and this record may very well just be the ticket. Seriously, how much more evidence do you need at this point?



Image may contain: text


Glasgow’s favourite dreadlocked busker puts his usual catalogue of covers to the side for one moment to deliver his first original single in a while, and the result is something super special.

Ben’s rich voice carries so much emotion and weight that not only does he have barely any bother whatsoever encapsulating the listener swiftly, but his stunning writing makes a strong impact with plenty of ease.

Throw in some fresh, elegant piano work and bewitching strings, and you have yourself a tremendous song that deserves widespread public attention. It’d be fair to say that the mainstream charts at the moment is in dire need of high quality material such as this.



HEART TO HEARTHeartbreaker

Zicky and company get things off to the most awesome of starts with the blinding 0 Love, loaded to the lid with an overwhelming energy, and the chorus is a thing of beauty. The singing is really stark and gruff in Someone Else, and the pretty good writing does well in holding your attention, while the firm drumming and subtly added acoustics broaden out the sound nicely in the melodic Insufferable, also shining in the vocal department.

The writing is especially magnetic in The Quiet War, which is driven by a roaring power and definitely has a visible passion riding behind it. Equally, if not exceeding it, On The Line is another dynamic heavy hitter that irresistibly fires you up and wanting to join in on the jaunt, and that zestful, emotional intensity is carried through to the end of the supreme finale, Comaxtose.

Outlandish Zicky Dice, or Nick Zoppo to be boringly accurate, may have put aside his music to pursue his other dream in the form of wrestling, but even years later, he has proven to have not missed a step, because Heartbreaker is from bell to bell (no pun intended) a fervent, tightly produced blast that never fails to entertain regardless of how many times you decide to give it a spin.





She Always Comes Up Smiling bobs along to an appealing drum beat, and there’s a generally chirpy energy in the air which fully comes to life in the engaging chorus. Next up is The Letter A, which is buzzing with a lot more force behind it, particular due to the gruffier riffs and rigid bass chords, and the vocals elicit droves of emotion.

The pace keeps rolling at a zealous flare throughout the catchy Stop The Days, and racked up even further in the utterly wild and exhilarating The Karma Party, with awesome synths to boot, and the lyrics of Nothing Stays The Same hit you in the right spots.

They then pause for a moment to present us with a brief acoustic number titled You Can’t Know Everything, I Don’t Know Anything, which has you fully enraptured, and they leave us by delivering one more showcase of excellent writing in the riveting final track Plastic Flowers.

Brand New Friend, if they’re not be considered as such already, are well on their way to becoming one of Northern Ireland’s finest underground music acts across the board, consistently pushing out material that is just as giddy and amusing to the senses as it is provoking to the feelings.



2019 was a fulfilling year for the Scouser rock group, mainly thanks to the release of what is an outstanding debut album, Loaded Gun, and their first follow-up single is a doozy in it’s own right.

They don’t even give you a second to settle down, they blast off from the starting line and jump straight into what is a bloody mental, dynamic track.

The tempo is at an uncontrollable pace, the energy throughout is contagious and off the chain, the guitars are blinding, the rhythm section keep on tight form, and the singing has a hell of a fire riding behind it.



LEMON DRINK – Better Run

Lauren welcomes us in to Pull Your House Down with a set of rigid, resonant bass notes, after which Sophie enters and hits out with the lyrics via her rich, sublime pair of vocal cords, and in conjunction with KC, they build it further with nice guitars, and Harry forms a beat through his solid drumming.

They suddenly crank up the dial for Manic, which is so bubbly and energetic, the rhythm firm and flying through at a snappy pace and invoking a desire to get your dancing shoes on and go wild, staying true to the title in that regard, I suppose.

A Song For You is a very well written piece, the lyrics telling a strong story that unfortunately many girls could relate to, and the singing is effective in getting the point across. A memorable chorus and a battering stroke are valuable bonuses too.

They ease it down at first for the final number Gomez, but they eventually restore the stride and treat the listening audience to an intoxicating melody and sleek riffs.

For the last year, the Glaswegian indie pop troupe have only gotten better and better, and in my mind, the Better Run EP is the icing in the cake, the finest possible showcase of what this amazingly promising outfit have to offer.



book klub

BOOK KLUBSomni/Deathbed

Somni startles your curiosity with these juicy chords and establishes a stunningly dark tone, from which they add to the meat with fabulous, unorthodox vocals, deep bass timbres and steady drumming through the verses, exploding into a grand, catchy chorus highlighted by these gritty, in-your-face riffs.

Deathbed is a perfect blend of being melodic while also being frenzied, leaning fluently back and forth between the two styles. The singing remains on healthy form, and the guitars are seriously great.

Book Klub are fast becoming one of Scotland’s most promising post punk prospects, and for damn good reason. They’re very much capable at what they do, and this pairing of fantastic songs prove that.


Room To Breathe Single Artwork


The Edinburgh alternative pop duo have been making definitive waves since revamping their sound a couple of years back, and they continue their steady rise with another great track here.

Stephen does well in the instrumental area, forming a sublime, shrouded melody with dots of ambience lingering.

Keli is candid and to the point in her vocal deliveries, forcing your attention to the hard, even uncomfortable lyrics diving into the strain of a dominant one-sided relationship and the stinging after effects even when broken free.




The second chapter of the Glasgow outfit’s forthcoming EP starts off very nice and peaceful, with the eponymous frontwoman blessing us with these sweet, pleasant vocals and delicate acoustics.

The pieces start to fall together as a country-pop influenced sound becomes distinct, with other elements such as subtly rich guitar chords and a fluid rhythm adding to the fray, and the lyrics are simply captivating, perhaps some of the best we’ve seen to date from the group.




Laura’s new single is definitely one of the most different pop tracks I’ve heard lately, the reason for that being her vocal style.

It feels less that she’s simply singing and following the routine formula, instead it’s more that she’s spilling her guts from the heart without any sign of holding back, and with that spontaneous essence about it, it seems all the more genuine.

Making up the rest of the song are emotional lyrics, a sweet piano-based melody and a stellar production where the subtle harmonic sounds in the background help create a stunning aura.




The Welsh scene is chock full of amazing hidden gems, and this Cardiff electronic psych-pop duo are among the most unique.

Their sound is a tough one to narrow down, but is quite intriguing and stunning, combining fuzzy chords and lovely keys, driving with a solid beat and being led forth by ravishing singing, with hard guitar riffs being added to the mix in one instance.

Top it off with interesting writing concerning not wanting to follow the traditional, so-called “normal” lifestyle and opting to be alternative, and you have yourself a wonderful, original package.





Glasgow’s most beautiful punk lads are back at it again with another glorious track, which is noticeably upfront a lot more polished and tightened up compared to their previous works, so that’s one immediate positive.

This is a raw rocker with a meaty, banging rhythm to it, where Eddy spurts out stinging bass tones and Nathan batters out these fine drum beats, while Nick hits out with superb riffs and biting vocals, all leading up to a gratifyingly insane climax.



A violist’s master degrees project producing cinematic music with a Glaswegian alternative hip-hop duo sounds quite out there as an unhealthy clash of styles, but once you get the chance to hear it, you’ll quickly be on board with it thanks to how effectively it’s actually pulled off.

The first single from the Erocean collaboration has such a divine, almost ethereal sound that is fused from delicate, very subtle harmony chimes and a fiercely atmospheric blend of voila and electronics, and later on we get Conor Moore stepping in with a solid rap performance and good lyrics.



ISAKThe Great Expanse

They get a pretty solid, forcible energy running early on with the titular opener, with a persistent, grumbling beat prevalent from start to finish, and it gets a lot more involved as they progress with the addition of drilling chords and the like, and they keep that impulse pumping quite well flawlessly transitioning into the now fully instrumental Beyond The Karman Line, at one point hitting a thrilling apex.

The boys get ambitious with Falling Satellite, which spans a whole eleven and a half minutes, and although they could have easily snipped it down a little, it’s nice, brooding stuff nonetheless

Interstellar is a throwaway that doesn’t add up to much, but the next cut is certainly worthwhile, Ablaze, where the vocals finally return to the fray and are on great form. The rhythm is particularly crunchier than before, defined by chunky bass rumbles and clobbering drum punches, and the buzz escalates to an exciting level.

They remain strong and sturdy moving into Out Of Reach, with tasty riffs aplenty, before hailing it as a wrap with the simple yet good Call Of The Void.

Although it can’t be denied there are a few notably weaker spots, The Great Expanse is an overall sweet and impressive effort from the Glaswegian stoner/doom trio, perhaps one of the better acts of the genre that the city has to offer.


GODNO!Unholy Water

Am I hearing that correctly? An ensemble of several Reckless Yes roster members under one banner? Count me in, please.

GodNo!’s short but sweet debut outing has an engaging rhythm and a lovingly oft kilter ring to it, especially coming through the solid multiple, varying harmonies. The distorted riffs are real cool, and the chorus is pretty fun too.





A genuinely hilarious intro starts this off before Elijah properly kicks off the record with the single, Rendezvous. The main hook is quite smooth and catchy, and the rapping is pretty slick and vindictive through the verses.

There’s more humour in the opening lines of the solid Dos-E-Doe, but the pulse is lit up a few notches through Living, where there’s a real energy brimming, and John Givez’s cameo is a welcome addition.

Then we come to what is by far the highlight, Petty Bop, which is insanely addictive thanks to spot on performances from all three involved – Locked Messiah, Taylar Bee, and Elijah himself – a cool beat, a persistent juicy bass tone and probably the most flawless hip hop chorus I’ve heard in a seriously long time, and it leads well into the chilled, relatively atmospheric Dolo.

Homicide is the other noteworthy focal point of the batch, where Elijah breaks out with stabbing, unyielding race-focused writing, and he absolutely kills it in the delivery to a point where you couldn’t possibly not hang on to his forceful words.

P Word is a decent, sharp cut, SugaHoneyIcet has a fire to it, especially with Mvtha Cala serving as an ideal guest, and Elijah soon caps off with an encore reprise of Rendezvous, this go around CK Da Legend helping out and triumphing in that regard.

The Florida rapper’s debut mixtape is a damn sweet effort all around, and more fans of the genre should be getting this stuck in their ears, because the dude has something special going for him here.



POWER TRASHSome Old Tragedy

While the raw distortedness is distractingly rough, Monuments is a hearty, rocking opener which the band blast through at a brisk pace, and the singing is just wired with passion. The energy remains abundant in Purgatory, complete with sweet riffs, super slick drum work and a catchy chorus.

They calm things down a touch for the solid E Is For Extinction, which boasts some decent writing and has quite a fine melody to it, but the excitement returns full force with Gauntlet, where the guitars are especially frantic and the vocal deliveries once again supremely enthusiastic, and led in by a neat bass intro, No Navigator makes for a dashing finish to the lot.

It’s hard to say whether the Queens outfit bring much new to the table, but this debut EP is nonetheless a fun collection of lively bangers that everybody should have a shot at.


DENI: “Change” Single Launch @ Sneaky Petes | SMALL GIGS


Coming out of the cold, depressingly wet and wild of Storm Dennis and entering into the very cosy warmth of Sneaky Pete’s, Rebekah Kirk would take to the stage, somebody I hadn’t heard by this point but certainly had heard of, and always in the positive sense, and yeah, rightfully justified I’d say.

She carried herself with a distinctly radiant and confident manner that you would expect from big stars; even when dealing with a sudden technical fault, she carried on like a professional and finished up.

On top of a good writing and instrumental ability, her strongest tool was her voice, which could cover all bases where required, from the sweet and tender low notes, to the sharper, broader pitched vocals .

Whether it’d be Just, her grand single Haunted or the infectiously memorable Too Late, she had myself and the rest of the folk completely entranced, making for an overall dashing start to the show.

I first became acquainted with Megan D when they supported Be Charlotte at The Attic last May, and I was honestly blown away by their talents.

Right from the get go, they were sh*t hot, unleashing so much love and care into what they sang, strumming away without a care and being quite active. The buzz was maintained throughout the whole set, showcasing a wonderfully vivid personality, genuine harmonies and picture-perfect guitar skills; a complete package, to be quite frank.

In combination with the aforementioned elements , all the songs were a delight, with no weak links to be found. I Can’t Wait was beautifully touching, previous singles Holding On and Save Me A Seat pleased as always, and new cuts Thief and Time To Kill were excellently written.

I’ve recalled saying this in the past, but it bears repeating that Megan is one of the Scottish scene’s best kept secrets, and given how long they’ve been grinding away, they really do deserve to be rewarded.

Now for the stars of the night DENI to make their way on in the bid to launch their latest single, and the crowd eagerly filled the space as they commenced with the amazing Never Know. They flew through a selection of classic numbers to begin with, the majority blending a mixture of pop and country, perhaps even a tinge of rock lurking in the more involved pieces.

Deni herself, geared up in her fancy trademark dungarees, was a pure natural with a keen presence, an acoustic savvy and a beautiful voice. She also has one core strength that’s all so important – the power to hook in an audience – and this was perfectly showcased when she performed Inhaler solo and she was so captivating, you couldn’t take your eyes off her, it was stellar stuff; likewise with All At Once.

Making up the rest of the outfit were William and his combo of hardy riffs and grooving chords, George and his super slick bass lines, and lastly Matt and his consistently solid drumming.

In terms of other notable highlights, I Don’t Know How To Feel was great,
Exposed was driven by an intoxicating smooth rhythm, and Miles was joyfully superb, so much so that Megan D brought up her pal for a wee dance. And as for Change itself, it was a lyrical wonder.

Not too surprising to say this given that I’ve seen the group in the past, but it was a fabulous set that was definitely worth braving the weather and making the long journey to come for, and if an act can achieve something like that, then they must be a little special, right?

The Tether’s End | SMALL MUSIC SCENE: ISSUE #9


REMISSIONThe Tether’s End

With not a single wrinkle of time wasted, they launch full-force into Mother War, an utterly thunderous opener where all gears are running at max, grabbing you with a huge, imposing-scaled sound. One brief pause to breathe later, and they continue the charge with Temples, sinking in with these insanely good, formidable screams of several shapes and sizes.

The pace is racked up further yet in the super tight Submit To The Order, led by some spectacularly dynamic riffs and closing out with a heaving breakdown, while Black Scorched Earth enters the fray in a grimier fashion before taking off at a mentally brisk speed and sending the energy levels off the f***ing charts.

The lyrics of Like Tears In Rain are superb and tailor made for live shows, and the late solo is a total belter, and the title number is from wire to wire an aggressively fierce breath-taker.

The guitars in Transcending Chaos are just freaking unreal, the drumming batters through like an unforgiving stampede, and the chorus is fantastic, and Writing On The Wall is, funnily enough, well written with a great hook in the middle of it all.

They fly furiously through Forced Entropy, being sure to leave an impact despite the short length, the guttural roars of the dank Architects Of Oblivion are sweet, and the concluding screeches are beyond belief, and finally, we reach the end point – Breaking The Sun – and they don’t hold back serving out a whopping climax just perfect to headbang to.

So if you’re too naïve to have guessed what is apparent, I was totally blown sideways and back again here. Remission have fallen into my radar and made a mighty stamp with what is one indisputably one of the heaviest, phenomenally adrenaline-racing experiences I’ve sat down for in recent memory. It’s flat out awesome, and there is absolutely not a single thing I can think of to count as a negative, it can’t be described as anything other than flawless.

Where have these guys been hiding? Why aren’t they being given more exposure? These guys should be plastered over Kerrang, Metal Hammer and the like, and major record labels should be flocking to them ASAP. The amount of promise they hold is simply boundless, and if given the golden opportunity, they could easily grow into one of Australia’s prime metal acts.




KITTIKandy Kassin’

I made the bold move of naming the dashing Katie Doyle as one of my hot picks for 2020, and she’s already living up to those prospects with another tremendous single.

The track is defined by the most deliciously exquisite of R&B sounds, heightened by the infectiously rich production. Katie’s vocals as always are impeccably fabulous, so strong, loaded with personality and cut from the same cloth as Amy Winehouse.

Completing the package are the wonderful overdub harmonies, a slick piano performance and beautiful, inspiring lyrics promoting positivity in one’s self and not caring about the viewpoints of others in that regard, a potent message that folks of all sorts should aim to live by.




Madison edges in tenderly with the first song, Fragile Heart, and in a snap, she has your full focus, alluring you in with a sublimely lush and warm voice which is so pure and genuine. It’s easy to believe the words that she sings, and coupled with the stunning pianos, the sense of atmosphere is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

The writing continues to shine even brighter in the beautifully melodic Home, you find yourself fixated and enthralled by the story being told, and the chorus is just amazing, and the subsequent Quieten Down has a distinctly catchy pulse to it.

The concept of Simple Love is endearingly heart-warming. As the title suggests, it’s about being humbly grateful for the littlest, most basic of joyous things in a relationship, and she closes out with the powerfully entrancing Treehouse, where the feelings of nostalgia run wild, the emotional investment is at an all-time high, and the overall scope is grand.

The LA-based artist has only went and produced one of the, if not THE, most splendidly fantastic EP’s of 2020 thus far. I can’t think of that many who bring such a beauty and legitimacy to their music on a sentimental level like Madison does, and even the idea of providing two different alternatives to the tracks is a nice touch too.

This lady is a rare kind of special, and mainstream attention for her awe-inspiring capabilities hopefully becomes a reality if the industry was smart enough to place their stakes on her.




It’s went beyond opinion and appears to now just be common knowledge that Dunfermline lads Oskar Braves are one of the definitive Fife acts, and not surprisingly, their next single is another awesome selection.

Entering in to sublime chords, the track quickly forms a graceful life. The vocals are simply tremendous, bursting with so much love and fervour that you cling on to instantly, and with help from the mellow assisting harmonies, you can’t resist embracing the wonderfully wholesome lyrics.

It also has such a grandiose, ballad quality to it oozing with both a thick atmosphere and a great scale that only elevates your buzz, mirrored really well through the instrumental performances.

An extraordinary number and nothing less, furthering cement Oskar Braves as a group destined for a bright future, with a dedicated fanbase following closely by their side.





Scotland’s most sacrilegious band (yeah, mind that?) are unsurprisingly killing it again with another belter under their notch.

The boys don’t bother sparing a single moment and go full on with a rambunctious, exciting energy, along the way dishing out a brimming mixture of capable vocals, strident guitars, grungy bass tinges, ringing drum streaks, and the most intoxicating of choruses that will be left clanging in your brain afterwards thanks to the addictive hooks.




The assault begins with the title track, and holy moly, talk about running on all cylinders. Literally, every member brings their A-game from the get-go; no warming up, no settling down, just immediately clicking; and it comes to a head with a phenomenal chorus that you will not only be replaying in your head for days afterwards but be spurred to proudly sing along to.

In the following Destined To Fail, the large, imposing roars are damn good, and perfectly bounce off the pitch-perfect harmonies. The drumming is both sturdy and kinetic and reaches an optimum in the sweet breakdown. Before you even get a chance to breathe, they charge full steam ahead into the massively forceful The Key To Fear, led on by the echoic bass chords and insanely strong, fiery riffs, and that sense of power keeps an unrelenting grasp on you right through to the end.

A Change Of Fate has a danker, filthier edge to it not seen to this degree in the previous entries, and the writing is pretty potent and gripping as well; not to say that it hadn’t been before, but this is where it gets to be truly displayed, and they ramp it up to mammoth levels with the outstanding We Bring Destruction, a five minute banger which is rampant and knock-you-silly heavy, retaining a robust pace as far as they can until they smoothly take it down for a quiet finish.

Ladies and gentlemen, I had high hopes for this EP, and Titan Breed have triumphantly blown away my original expectations. From bell to bell, a total stormer that just nails it in more or less every sense, from the performances, to the themes and lyrics, to the diversity between the numbers.

This band are right up there as one of Scotland’s finest metal acts, and I think we should all be chipping in to help them rise to the top fast.




Within seconds of Touch commencing, Rachel sparks goosebumps across the arms with a palpable, stunning atmosphere through her dazzling voice, a gentle beat and the eerie harmonic hooks regularly popping up in the background.

Gorgeous spins it up a hint for a track running off a super smooth melody, being centred around a stunning, infectious chorus, plus the mood remains concrete following on from the opener.

Even more so than previously, Pxrxdise is indescribably gripping; Rachel truly stepping up her vocal game as she expresses the lyrics with a convincing fortitude, and the writing stays compellingly captivating in the lovely finale, S/he.

It’s been established long by now that Rachel is a multi-talented queen, and among her strengths, as perfectly demonstrated through this EP, perhaps the most resonant is her ability to create music so etching and enchanting – both as a composer and a wordsmith – that not many in the Scottish scene can match, and for that reason, she absolutely warrants attention and admiration.



outlines HOT

THE OUTLINES – House Of Thieves

One tasty bass intro later, and the trio launch into Man Down, which they charge through at a contagiously electric pace, sparking a thrilling feeling within the listener and getting them fired up with ease, and the guys match that with their mix of fervent vocals.

If that cracking starter for ten wasn’t enough, they keep the steam running red-hot into Mind Trip, which is equally if not more dynamic thanks to the raw brisk riffs, meaty rhythm section and great chorus, and they wrap up the mad ride with the title track, which is insanely addictive, packed with pretty enjoyable lyrics, and featuring such an awesome hook.

It doesn’t even go beyond ten minutes, but I’d be damned if I said this wasn’t one of the most blinding, mental records to have emerged in 2020 thus far. Punk fans, get on these Nottingham boys right now, you won’t regret it.



ASP No Brainer Cover


Straight away, we are introduced to Anna’s writing talents in Overthinker Anthem, touching upon an issue that many jittery, anxious folk have dealt with in one way or another to a tee, plus the guitars provide a reasonable burst of energy. On top of having such an immensely catchy chorus that is easy for live audiences to croon along into, Poke The Bear is defined by a latching, thick bass-focused sound and screeching noises.

On the opposite end of the scale, A Week Without Worry is slower and groovier, and features more identifiable lyrics; likewise, B-Movie is creatively and metaphorically humorous, and the synths are to die for, especially that nod to John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Where Does The Other Sock Go is undoubtedly one of the more original topics tackled by any music act I can think of as of late, if not ever, and it’s purely wonderful. Drunk Enough To Tell is a solid acoustic based ditty with a nice, swinging melody, and the album’s namesake is fairly bouncy.

Goth Girls is a cheerfully charming tribute to the titular people in question, and the late on riffs are dead good, Everybody’s Checking Everyone Else Out is an exciting rock anthem, the duo of Unexpected Tenderness and Temporary Smile have a more emotional quality to them, and she finishes with a bang courtesy of the intoxicating Shooby Don’t.

Anna is more than just a secret poet, and her savvy goes beyond whatever may be classed as gimmicky, because No Brainer has proven that she is one of the most imaginative and amusing artists that exists on the scene, but it’s not all fun and games, as she does make the effort to dive into touchier areas in her standout, special way.

Those seeking fresh and different content, consider this a key recommendation.




Maria In Parenthesis serves as the most beautiful of introductions, thanks to the divine mixture of strings and piano keys, but it’s in Murmurations where we get to see the artist at their full capacity, serenading with these delightful harmonies and provoking curiosity with a surreal yet gripping soundscape that is difficult to put into words, it just has to be heard to be believed.

Epicene has a peppy melody and grander scope than before, and it’s only elevated to another level by Umbilica’s sterling guest spot, then Grawl!x shifts the brand into yet another direction with In. There’s a jolly, almost daffy tone to it, the rhythm has a bit of strength behind it thanks to the thick drum beats, and completing it are hints of harmonica and wonderful accompanying vocals.

This Is Real continues that lively, energetic sensation to ensure the already forged smile on your face remains, but then it takes a sudden dark turn towards the end, and that moods flows well into the opening of Chaos, considerably quieter and lower, and the tune as a whole is so mysterious and borderline haunting, getting chills slithering up your spine in the process; screeching noises at the kick off of Apophenia maintain that, but eventually tuning it up into something with a neat prevalent pulse.

Rachel Protector is completely instrumental, yet from the minimal beginning to the jubilant conclusion, it firmly holds your attention. We Dreamed A Blue Dot is short and by itself doesn’t rank anywhere beyond decent, but it proves to be an effective stepping stone to what is an all and all astounding finale in the form of Sonder.

I can’t honestly recall the last instance of being so entrapped within a zone listening to music, but Grawl!x has crafted this incomparably immersive experience with Peeps, which sucks you into a dreamy auditory environment that leaves you feeling like you’ve just been on a magical journey once you find yourself on the other side.





 A gratefully welcome addition to a bustling Scottish post punk movement, the Perth group have already satisfied with a few great singles to date, but their latest product is above and beyond their best yet.

They fly through at the most infectiously electrifying of tempos, and that alone makes it a blast, but oh wait, there’s more. The warm-tempered vocals are excellent, the rhythm is robust, the cracking guitars solos are effective, and oh my god, that wailing synths melody is the epitome of perfection.

A certified five star coup that I’ve quickly become disgustingly addicted to and can’t stop replaying. The new front-runner for 2020 track of the year.



MATT MEGRUEThe Mourner’s Manual

We starts off the record nice and easy-going, with Matt making quite a solid impression on the audience, and once he has them sat down, he suddenly knocks up the pace for Afterglow, which is energetic and guaranteed to get the adrenaline racing, particularly with Matt’s passionate vocals and the fleeting drumming adding to the buzz.

Mono Not Aware is defined by a real pounding beat, and again the style is changed up to something of a spoken nature, and it admittedly does snap your attention, having you clinging on to Matt’s inspiring words and intently hearing what he has to say. It’s Not Business barely lasts over a minute, but it’s such a stiff hard-hitter that it makes an impact regardless, then the somewhat stripped back Let It Hurt efficiently showcases plenty of emotional value.

The NRA Took My Baby Away is a rare downfall unfortunately, being disjointed and incoherent despite the attempt to tackle poignant themes. However, he begins to recover with ’93, linked up by some pretty good singing, even if it is a little tricky to hear over the noisy guitar, and he’s fully back on track with the fluently driving Crash V Lennon.

Mirror, Mirror is catchy and has a dabble of ambience in the background, Hymns Of Hope features engaging writing as well as a vivid scope, and he saves what has to be the best for last, Here’s To The World, which is such a touching, enthralling middle finger to those who want to spread hate, when instead we should all be making the effort to promote positivity and make the planet a better place to live for everybody.

Save for a brief slump in the middle, Matt Megrue’s debut album is freaking fantastic. With a knack for performing, penning and experimentation, the South Carolina marvel has the necessary tools to make a huge impact in the coming years.




LIVE WELLWinter Jawn

Stay is just dripping with all the emo tones in every aspect – the writing, the singing, the instrumental sound – and it’s a decent track with a swaying rhythm to it and a catchy chorus.

But Classes is indeed the hotter of the pair here, captivating with an engaging energy forged from the great riff work, a thumping beat, a high-octane melody and the heartfelt harmonies, plus it helps that the lyrics are really good and investing.

Following on from a bountiful full-length effort last year, the New York bunch have refreshed tastes with a couple of brief yet fine and entertaining songs worthy of giving a spin time and time again.





It does feel like the Massachusetts alternative pop outfit have constantly improved with every new piece of music that they put out – which is always a good sign – and it can be safely said that their newest song is their finest result.

Flowing along a sublime, silky sleek melody, there’s plenty of feeling behind the harmonies, especially during what is a lively, superb chorus, and on top of that, the rhythm is quite solid, the guitar chords are to die for, and the lyrics make a mark.



NO FRANCO – No Franco

Determined to make an instant impression, the lads don’t hold back as they plunge head first into Saturdays, going off the chain with this unreal, tenacious energy that perfectly captures the feeling of a wild drunken bender. It Always Rains is a dank-toned pessimistic number with good lyrics that pulps along to a hard rhythm made of extra thick bass tones and rapid drums, and it slowly but surely escalates from being quiet and solemn into a loud and large belter.

Here We Are is another which drives back and forth between a variety of styles, hitting full power in the superb chorus, plus the vocals are pretty durable and the writing is once again thoughtful and worth mulling over, and wrapping it up is Phantom Limbs, which opens with a dark, dismal sensibility before returning to the same manner in how they begun: unleashing full force with a berserk fury, firing out abundant yells and blunt riffs as they smash through to a hefty conclusion.

Considering they have barely even begun to scratch the surface under this new post-Losing Ground banner, No Franco have nailed it with a striking debut EP. As far as I’m concerned, they are destined to be one of Scotland’s hottest acts in the post-hardcore field, so best watch this space.


Perfectionism | SMALL MUSIC SCENE


HOTEL MIRAPerfectionism

The boys open up with the big and bold title track, where this vibrant energy is formed, showering the audience with thrilling vibes, and if you thought that was a rush, then you ain’t seen nothing yet, because the poignantly personal This Could Be It For Me follows up on that by tripling the buzz with a sweet sound and the most sensationally intoxicating of choruses.

In Jungle, the guitars have a more notable presence, the drum beat thumps hard and the key ensemble vocal hooks are such a joy. Some nice clever lyrics are penned in Arcade Heart, and frontman Charlie here and in the bassy Better On Your Own helps accentuate them with his damn fine, heartful singing, especially in the latter with these huge zealous yells.

In comparison to the previous cuts, Speaking Off The Record is a lot more polished and subdued and effectively so…well, at least until they pick up for the bouncing second round. The Eyes On You reverbs with a pounding pulse, and the exhilarant kicks are fully restored in the supremely glorious and unhealthily addictive Son In Law.

The thrills remain alive and potent in Ladies And Gentlemen, another well-written piece, A Song For Daisy is a simple styled yet captivating song, and they bring it back up for You Know Best, to culminate in an enjoyably explosive manner.

It has been a moment 4 years in the making, but Hotel Mira’s return to full-length territory (assuming we’re taking JPNSGRLS history into account) has resulted in them producing what is far and wide their greatest work to date.

It’s pretty obvious that the trio have made the effort to evolve and built upon their skills from day one, right up until the present day, where they have utilised said skills to their best advantage to put together a dazzling, high quality line-up of tunes that get you invigorated and fired up and in the mood to let loose and go wild. You couldn’t ask for a better Valentine’s Day gift than that, surely?

Hotel Mira, I’ve long considered one of Canada’s most excellent exports, and as of now, they sit headlong atop the mountain.




TOM McGUIRE & THE BRASSHOLES – Caveman/Battle Weapons

You’d be hard-pressed to find as many Glasgow acts with so much buzz behind them than Tom McGuire and his jolly bunch of Brassholes, and following a viral hit in 2018 and a stonking debut album in 2019, they’re putting their hat in the ring once again for 2020 in a big way, starting with this juicy two-part undertaking.

Their forthcoming single Caveman is a total departure from everything that’s ever came before. This is not the usual fun, light-hearted dose of amusement, instead Tom penning some dark, compelling lyrics circulating the suffering of mental health and hitting a new low point after the most positive of highs.

He really exhibits that through his genuinely magnetic vocal performance, and the rest of the guys reflect the mood effectively through the instrumentations, before finishing in forceful fashion.

And that brings us to the second half, Battle Weapons, which is also something fresh and new from the group. A completely instrumental ten minute saga (being released in multiple parts on a weekly basis as I speak) that totally runs the gamut, venturing in every possible direction that you could imagine – fast and exciting, slow and groovy, lively and energetic, hushed and curious, the lot – and you find yourself completely immersed from start to end.



THE GIROBABIES – Fetching Pitchfork

The undefinable yet superb long-time veterans of the Scottish scene for a decade now, and clearly show no signs of slowing, judging by their most recent single what also happens to be one of their finest works yet.

Mark’s rugged vocals hold this shrill drawing power as always, pulling your attention to the sharp lyrics tackling the negativity of social media and the internet in general, nailing it to a tee really, plus the backing harmonies from the team are on form, especially those from Jo that stick in your head.

The tight bass and drum combo create a grooving rhythm, the guitars and keys are solid, and the sitar is sublime in the brief stint it partakes.



THE JABConsume

Riot is a sweet, merry, mid-tempo groover that gets things running nicely, only building as it progresses to the finish, and the title number keeps the flow moving with a great littering of guitars that contribute to a nifty melody.

Beautifully Broken switches it around for a pleasant, stripped back piece with engaging lyrics brought forth by the emotional singing. Analeeza is more lively, but the qualities of the previous entry pretty much carry through to here as well

The single Dank Mississippi is just awesome, the blues/southern influences bursting through in waves, especially with the delicious combo of banjos and harmonicas, and the chorus is immensely catchy, and you will get it stuck in your head, there’s no other option.

The energy continues to remain ripe and stimulating in Straws, and you’ll be finding yourself hard-pressed not to be bare minimum humming along to the chief hooks. Genuflect is a return to the simpler form, and it engrosses the listener with ease with more strong, capably delivered writing, but they’re quite eager to flip the deal once more, as the short, slick Repeat And Play is bursting with an electrifying verve.

There’s yet another tone change for the graceful Just In Case, followed up the compellingly written Dumb, featuring some real cool work on the drums throughout, and they send us home with From Good To Bad and its cracking rhythm.

Given the length of time spent putting this together from the initial spark, Jam Alker and co have clearly meticulously crafted every song with careful precision, leaving nothing lacking meaning and only allowing material with substance to be featured, and the final result is an entertaining, diverse and at points poignant record that totally cements their hyped up distinction as one of Chicago’s currently best rock and roll bands.





If you’re looking for an artist who could very well be hitting up the Canadian mainstream charts quite soon, then this Toronto native has to be a notable candidate, given the quality of the material he’s dishing out.

The lyrics are as pure and explicit as it gets, Tarafi absolutely not holding back and being unafraid in spitting bilious honesty, taking shot after shot of a bad lover who has done him wrong, and he is tremendous in unleashing all this built up animosity inside.

Interestingly enough, despite the venom, his singing is still so soulful and excellent, and combined with the ear-melting production and catchy chorus, the result is a captivating track which anybody who has suffered a similar fate will get a cooling release from.





They successfully get a rousing sense of excitement on the go with The Journey, built up by a hardened rhythm and an explosive chorus led by the fairly impassioned singing.

Following on from that, the title track starts at a slow and steady tempo before firing it back up, and all the while, we get some solid, meaningful lyrics.

The intoxicating energy is ramped up twofold in the riff-fuelled Lifetimes, and they sustain the buzz as they cap off with the avid chief single Angels.

With the only real conspicuous flaw being that all the tracks appear to follow a very similar formula structurally, Tribeless have made good in their first true effort, which has opportunely showcased what they have to offer while providing a fun and zesty listening experience.

If they can broaden their sound for their future releases, then there’s no reason why this trio can’t go on to emerge and stand triumphant as valuable prospects within a flourishing Welsh rock scene.



SPAWN ZEROWhatever Makes You Happy

From the get-go of Save Yourself, Spawn shows a hell of a lot of intensity in his rapping and that grabs you immediately. After that is Cloud Vomit, where he is teething with such raging hostility, getting across his feelings in an effectively stabbing way as he takes a firm stand for himself; same again in the shorter but just as snappy Moodswings.

ENVY is decent, although a step down from the last set of cuts. Jazz Williams’ production knacks lend themselves to the cool and dark interlude Failed Venture, but then Doom Patrol hits an entire new level writing-wise as he takes a shot at his dad, and the revelations are so hard-hitting that you’re almost stunned.

In the case of Agony, he’s not afraid to being truthful about the tough state he’s in, and there’s spots of humbleness coming through not properly seen before. The Light’s is catchy and well-produced and shrouded in a semi-chilling vibe, and Boldly Going Nowhere is another that’s quick but absolutely no breath is wasted in getting honest thoughts out into the open.

SUFFER is one of the more poignant picks, Spawn making it clear that he needs to be selfish just to survive in his life, whilst throwing some shade towards those who feel the need to drag him further down, which many can surely relate to.

Lastly, he goes for broke in Switching Up, a perfect, resonant bookend that closes the chapter on more or less everything that he’s dug into throughout, and as you could probably guess, and doing a 180 on the record’s namesake.

It’s been a while since I’ve came across such a worthwhile hip hop album, but here we are. Spawn’s collaboration with Jazz Williams has resulted in something so shrill, so gripping and crammed with a varying mix of candid emotions that you have no choice but to sit down, listen and confront the subject matters that he dives into.

Anyone and everyone who is into the genre needs to makes an effort to get this one checked out, it’s quite clear Spawn has put heaps of work into this and it’s mean a lot to him, and with me at the very least, it makes a mark.




In practically an instant, Liberation gets you all fired up and ready to party with the grand blaring of brass, and from there some inspired vocals, a great chorus, and the sexiest of sax solos blessed by the almighty gods above.

2 & 4 is simpler and shorter, but doesn’t waste a solitary second, giving you the urge to dance with its groovy rhythm. The guitar work is superb, and the lyrics are pretty solid too, although the spoken sections do halt the pace somewhat

Thought totally reverses the situation, now opting to strip down everything to bring us something smooth, sleek and jazzy, where both the lead and backing harmonies are on divine form, and the riffs are killer once again.

But they make a return to the standard for the blistering final song Not In The Mood, littered with the most intoxicating of hooks and a swinging melody that flows through from beginning to end.

The Edinburgh company are one of the hottest new acts on their local joint for good reason – they’re a hoot, and this rollicking debut EP proves that as undisputed fact.




As Viet Snatch gets the ball rolling, it’s so hard not to fall in love with the lush, pristine freshness of the production. The song hits with a juicy beat, spurts of brass, crisp guitar chords and effectively mild, low harmonies.

Now that we’re settled in, they up the levels with Endless, which is melodic, hooking and has a worthy performance from AMP Medley, the first of several talented guests contributing to the work here. Also, the organ-esque synths are quite pleasing.

Floating In The Blue is just as catchy, if not more so, being seriously light and bouncy and getting a buzz growing inside; Issac B’s brief but impassioned feature adding fuel to that fire; and the chorus especially is amazing.

ABSOD doesn’t hold back whatsoever, it’s a straight up dance banger and an absolute adrenaline-pumping thrill, and that spirited energy keeps burning into Camille, where the lyrics are the highlighting aspect here.

The writing is only outdone in the fluorescently tranquil Mars Argo, where the emotion of what is being sung feels legitimate, and Kate Brunotts’ nails it in her appearance and helps elevate an already great piece, and afterwards, they conclude with the solid +39.

While they fall under the electronic/pop category, there is definitely some genre bending going on here as the Brescia outfit take their music in a multitude of pathways, never sticking to the one formula.

Whatever providing an astonishing blast, or taking it down to a softer mood, Jester Society are damn good at what they do.




VULTURE PARTY – Vulture Party

Mayday Cockerel placidly enters to the sound of sweet keys and nice strums, and it’s not long before it sucks you in with these intriguing lyrics transmitted via stunning partnering harmonies.

New Humans has a catchy recurring beat that gets you further engrossed into the group’s neat overall sound, and from there, your attention is well and truly grasped by the poignancy of the words defining Sun Dance (available on cassette, by the by), several times thinking to yourself “…wow…”

A haunting intro paves the way for Fear For My Child, and it maintains that dark tone right up to that captivating, chilling final section, primarily due to the eerie ensemble singing, and the chorus of the subsequent Open For Zenga makes a stamp.

Betray Him Back is utterly enriched with atmosphere, the stand out elements contributing to that being the Moonlight Sonata-inspired pianos, the glimmering harmonies and the initial stripped back nature that it commences on, and Ivy is quite lovely in its own right.

In comparison, No-One Gets Persecuted In Space is one of the more dynamic selections in a sonic basis, that energy remains at a high over the course of the joyous, rhythmic Young Enough To See The Light, and Vulture People brings the album to a close in a similarly alluring fashion to how it began.

There are few records that spring to mind from recent memory that pulled me in and had me consistently captivated, but that is exactly the case with Vulture Party’s self-titled debut. A creative act spawning curiously dazzling content that few can match.




The boys’ latest single fires out hard, swiftly simmering down before diverting into something both melodic and palpable, especially through the great chorus. The harmonies are real good and the drumming makes an impact.

The B-side Survive is considerably way heavier, boasting the team up of weighty riffs and crunching bass chords. The excitement is fresh as they charge through at a brisk pace, the singing again is impressive, and they even take time to ease things up with a more synth-based direction in spots.

A scintillating pair of banging tracks from a young band who are becoming all the more promising with each passing day.



GO TO GIRL – Honesty

The Edinburgh indie pop quartet were undeniably one of Scotland’s most promising newcomers last year thanks to a pair of outstanding singles – Shake and Rush, the latter being one of the top tunes of 2019 altogether – and they’re keeping the momentum rolling strong with yet another worthy addition here.

The writing is for sure their most mature and emotional yet, doing well in capturing the unpleasantness of splitting up from a relationship, but then inspiringly flips the sadness on its head with a more positive outlook, encouraging to get back on your feet and stand defiant and tall.

On top of that, the performances are great as always – sugary sweet vocals, sublime guitars, and a catchy rhythm section – and they deliver another contagious chorus, which is fast becoming a trademark of theirs.



VELVETHoly Days Of Obligation

They open up with the nifty instrumental titular intro which adequately sets the mood and gives you a wee taste of what their music will be like.

Things properly get going in Unrequited, the first third being fine and silky, the second building up a sense of energy, and the home stretch going all out in thrilling fashion. The drumming is consistently good throughout too and lends itself to a catchy rhythm in later parts. Fluid guitar chords and dreamy synths are the rife components of Sex & Suicide References, and the singing is particularly strong here as well.

Valentine is a stellar minimal track that has a hardy sense of emotion seeping through the nice writing and tender vocals, and there’s even a hint of atmosphere lurking, and coming away from that, the guys flawlessly make the transition to the final tune Blue Roses, and although initially shaky and seeming distractingly out of time, they recover with a cracking, high-octane climax.

 Having discovered the indie pop group through fellow musicians GRAVELLE and the “fans also like” section on their Spotify page, they have gone and suckered me in with a great EP that, though not without flaw, has shown me the potential riding behind this outfit.




From note one of Mistress Jane, the band’s music clicks and gets you buzzing, sustaining that as they batter out snappy riffs, crunchy grunge-infused bass lines and a real fine chorus. Mystified only elevates the crazed sensation to another level, just loaded wall to wall with heaps of energy, while also being boosted by good singing, brisk drum beats and simple yet supreme vocal hooks.

But oh boy, it somehow gets even more mental in I’m No Well, as the tempo is booted up to an insane scale that’ll leave you gasping for breath. It’s pure intoxicating, and the super catchy rhythm is beneficial in that area, and while not quite as intense – to be fair, keeping a fire that hot going is a toughie – they keep the power running and flowing through the finale, Lost Our Way.

This is just awesome. No joke, trying to keep still while writing up this review was an impossibility, it’s too contagious to not boogie along like a maniac to.

It’s needless to say that the Bathgate troupe are already displaying plenty of promise here with what will surely go down as one of the most impressive Scottish debut records of 2020.




The Dumbarton six-piece are one of those acts who come under that category of undoubtedly having a strong following yet seemingly only been quietly attaining success – selling out King Tuts for your first live show is a fair achievement – but having being introduced to their music via their forthcoming single, they definitely have something going.

A very sweet, pleasing to the ears melody carries through, driven on by the warm and stunning harmonies. The rest of the performances are just as satisfactory, whatever it be the nice pianos, solid guitars, or the steady rhythm pairing, and the lyrics overall are pretty engaging too.





All Compasses Go Wild gets things going in excellent fashion, the track being defined by these glowing, almost warm vocals, as well as great guitar lines and popping drum beats, and there’s a lot of life in the chorus.

Those qualities remain consistent in the hooking Absent Guest, and Johnnie is catchier yet; how it could possibly not get stuck in your head, I have no idea. However, things do start to noticeably samey with Bird Free, with nothing much new added on aside from a couple of neat chord strikes here and there.

But they recover just in the nick of time with Godless, where the lyrics really begin to resonate and scoop your attention. It’s as if they had the listener settle in at first with the music, and once achieved, then they were ready to hit out with the compelling material.

Let The Days Drift Away is where all the elements merge together to create an utterly fantastic, engaging tune headed by a smashing vocal performance, and they maintain a bustling energy throughout Now Time, right up to the huge, bursting finish.

New York City In Space is another solid, melodic choice, then we get perhaps the best display of writing in London Skies, which evokes some strong vibes of nostalgia and you find yourself getting emotionally attached quite easily, plus the riffs are splendid, and they close out with a bang courtesy of the sweeping and divergent nine minute piece Wander.

An evident lack of variety in the early stages notwithstanding, Post Neo Anti is yet another impressive notch in the esteemed career of Close Lobsters, who even this far down the road have proven that they have still got the wherewithal to produce a record of a legitimately high standard.





 Craig chooses to ease us in with the low-key Sleepwalking, a sweet trap-influenced cut that wades along to a chilled beat, but one that has just enough of a kick that you can bob your head along to it, but the mood is flipped around for This Ain’t Love, which has much more of a vivid melodic pulse, further ignited by a catchy chorus and thick drum thumps.

Caught In The Rain is so bright and buoyant, especially with the sweet electronic harmony-like effects, and he brings the full shebang with the classic, addictive as hell closing number Control, which is beaming with a pure high-octane sense of spirit and riled up energy, and colour me impressed if you’re able to sit totally still.

While technically not as deep or imaginative content-wise compared to his previous two efforts, that doesn’t matter, because Restoration is so well produced and riveting regardless, and a true return to his early roots under this venture.

I for one appreciate that he hasn’t kept himself pigeonholed under the same banner with each respective release, and because of that, I think it would be fair to name him as a candidate for Scotland’s most diverse electronic artist in the game right now.




People Come slithers in slowly with Anik’s softly spoken words, a more notable beat coming alive as it progresses and ventures into an entrancing, looping chorus that is lyrically interesting, but even more so, it forges a chilling, magnetic atmosphere.

That same sound is expanded upon in Who’s, with more layers added to a further sublime production – the synths in particular are quite nice – and this is where Una begins to make her contributions with stellar, sleek harmonies.

Part Of Me is an incredibly catchy, dance-based number with a lot of spirit, engaging lyrics and a perfect blend of dual vocals from both of the artists, and Polly has a sharper, darker tone surrounding it, and again, the rapping and singing is tremendous and keeps your attention fused.

Kali resonates with that same vibe but with an extra dose of ambience, especially with them utilising the famously rare halldorophone to stunning effect, and we finally we come to Cast It Away, which continues to ring with a chilling pulse and stick in the head with an insanely good and perpetual hook, from where they gently simmer down and fade to silence.

I’m thoroughly impressed with Lovelife, it’s an utterly captivating experience that takes an intriguing look at romance in a creatively binding manner.

I can say for sure that this is one of the freshest, most original records I’ve been given to look at as of late, and it would be ideal to see the Icelanders be given more mainstream exposure for their cool, noteworthy abilities.





Right from the opener All These Days, you find yourself fixated and getting lost in the ravishing atmosphere that is smoothly formed, and he allows you a whole 5 minutes to get settled and breathe it in. Sanctuary Mornings is full of this enthralling life and primarily defined by sensationally sweet piano work, while Flowers Bloom progresses with these notably tender acoustic strums.

The vocals are stepped up to a remarkable degree in the vamping It’s Burning Down, where these neat riff effects are plastered around as well, and by the end of it, you just sit there in awe at what you had listened to. We then get treated to the brief sublime instrumental interlude Kevin’s House, after which we get the most chilling of intros leading into For A Little While, considerably peeled back at first, with more instruments joining the fray, and the entire time the singing is purely stunning, and the lyrics are great and seeping with emotions.

Say Goodbye is another absolute beauty, so fluorescent, hook-littered and featuring the most gripping writing yet. Tomorrow Has Made You is just as sweeping, the guitars and crisp, rattling bells adding a lot here. Too Dark To See reels it back a little, Flaming Pumpkin Head creates a curious, forcefully eerie sound through the duelling, multi-directional chords and haunting, humming harmonies, and he concludes with the dazzling and addictive Is This The Life.

I feel I have encountered something truly special here. The man describes his music as “sad folk gems”, and “gems” is quite right, because this is an astonishingly gratifying LP that is so lucid and so heartfelt, and I think that his talents should not go unnoticed whatsoever; he is as legitimate as they come.


Steven Kemp


Slow is a pretty decent starter for ten, but Steven really gets going with Holy Ghosts, which is awfully lively and has a catchy kick to it. He tones down the pace a touch for the lyrically poignant Run Away, where he’s also able to effectively highlight his emotions.

Home is another steady goer that is fairly minimal but engaging nonetheless, particularly as the passion comes through in waves toward the end. Those loving, sensitive feelings are ripely displayed throughout Eyes Closed, and Wolf has the most charming of choruses you could possibly imagine.

A switch of a dial, and we get the brief, joyous 101, which has quite the folk/country feel to it. Walk On moves to a fine beat and flowing melody, the intoxicating Rise & Fall steps up the energy, and he seemingly throws everything he’s got into the fervent final number, Quick.

As my personal gateway to the talents of Steven Kemp, I believe he has done a bang up job in piecing together an compilation of excellent songs, a few being straight forward but others hitting the mark with the right amount of sincere sensibility.




Weekend In Berlin initiates with a solid beat, and in the meantime, this tenderly radiant atmosphere falls into place, and as it progresses, layer upon layer is added, the instrumentations becoming greater and gradually building this buzz. At the halfway point, they briefly settle and hold the pace before continuing with the norm, finishing up as a very sweet, chilled out yet also catchy tune.

It’s Always Been There is definitely more of an involved track, laden with quotes and an addictive as hell melody fused from the juicy resonant electronics, while still carrying through the warmer, ambient house quality of the previous piece lurking in the background for that bonus touch of depth.

A cracking pair of numbers to provide the perfect introduction to the Scottish DJ/producer combo duo who might be turning heads sooner than later.



HANNAH SLAVIN – I Don’t Give A F*** About You

Well, I’m sure glad this was plastered all over my social feeds on Saturday morning, because this meant I got to discover a great new act who made a serious impression with this one.

The Glaswegian’s latest single is an awesome, wholly empowering pop dazzler with superbly magnetic lyrics, a vivid pulse and a sweet production quality. The vocals are so on-point, and how could you resist singing loud and proud along to the awesome chorus?

A superstar in the making? Very much so.


THE GALLERYS – You’re A Dreamer

The Kent trio came into my consciousness when they bestowed upon me their single On The Other Side, and they secured my fandom with that firm first impression.

The lads have kicked off 2020 by totally outdoing themselves with this latest cut, which has a constant, dashing energy buzzing throughout without the slightest slither of slowing down.

The vocal work as always is top notch, the drum beats are punchy, the guitars sleek, and the chorus is a pretty strong, damn addictive one.




2019 was a pretty tight year for the Glasgow indie-pop troupe – highlighted by the Lipstick EP – and their 2020 is set to get rolling this month with this delightful forthcoming single.

From the get-go, the guitar chords are super juicy, and stay that way up until the end, helping to hoist the oh-so-exuberant melody.

Combine those factors with fine harmonies, firm bass tones, peaking drums and a memorable dance-inducing chorus, and you have yourself a winner right here.



The Brooklyn punky-poppy-rock group have a new album dropping in a couple of months time, and there’s no way to get more buzzing with anticipation for it than with the entertaining title track.

The well-written song drives with an engaging, springy rhythm produced from the nice basslines and fluent drumming, the guitars are really great, the harmonies are sublime, and that lead hook is so contagious that you simply have to chime along.


ZEROES & ONES – 15 To 1

Introduced to me indirectly via Lisanne of Tiny Murder – who incidentally features here and is fabulous – the Galway group have got me hooked with their debut single.

The vocals are super warm and smooth – albeit a bit drowned out in the mix – and hit a peak when it comes to the sweet chorus, the riffs are nice and fizzy, and the rhythm section are strong and help develop this into something pretty catchy and of the toe-tapping variety.

Oh aye, and the music video brings me so much joy. I quite like these guys.


Feed The Engines! | SMALL MUSIC SCENE


L-SPACE – Feed The Engines!

In 2018, Scottish electronic group L-Space delivered their awe-inspiring debut album Kipple Arcadia, which ultimately made #2 on The SMS 100 and cemented them as, in my mind, one of the country’s coolest and most talented troupes.

Then in 2019, they released the Music For Megastructures score, which was well put together, but it felt like a departure of sorts, lacking the bits and bobs that made the previous effort, and their brand as a whole, special.

However, in the present day of 2020, they are gearing up for their next release, Feed The Engines, and I believe this was the true follow-up that my heart desired.

Karoshi commences with the eerie computerised voice of Lily, but eventually we do hear her in her full clear-cut glory, which is beautifully sweet and delicate as always. Right from the offset, we get some incredibly potent writing; the line “I want the revolution, but I’m tired” alone is the perfect sum up of current society.

Ok is heart-warming, and showcases such a diverse range in the synth work, which admirably roams in multiple directions in just the space of over 3 minutes, and Diamonds Are For Breakfast is an engagingly catchy track with a terrific chorus, a thick pulsating beat and these glowing harmony-like notes.

The spiralling words of The Machine Will Handle It get caught in a loop inside your head, and it’s immersed in very haunting overtones; the robotic keys contributing to that in a compelling manner. Nightvision is a lot creamer in comparison and quite nice, although it would have been to have seen it be expanded further beyond the shorter runtime.

Unit Of Production is another incredibly written cut that hits close to home, and Jimmy Reid’s famous speech is perfectly implemented, and there’s yet another creative idea at the base of Extinctathon Champions 2020, which is somehow able to be both coarse and harmonious simultaneously.

Bloom Rapids is an intriguingly different kind of love song with a stunning vibe surrounding it, boosted by the solid drums and sweet riffs, the previously released Fill Your Heads With Static returns here, as always making an impression with its radiant cybernetic composition to match the inspiration, and it all comes to a close with No-One Lives Here Anymore, dark and chilling, yet glimmering with a faint hope of light in the midst of sorrow.

Wow. This is a thing of beauty. Two years after being exposed to and falling in love with Kipple Arcadia, L-Space have triumphed again with another exceptional product. But it goes further yet, as there is one major difference between them: Kipple Arcadia I liked at first and it grew on me, but Feed The Engines made a striking impact instantly, which alone warrants the argument that this is even better and perhaps the greatest thing they’ve ever done.

I’m constantly amazed by this trio’s ability to apply ridiculous amounts of creativity and use that to form these dazzling stories with fascinating themes conveyed via enchanting lyrics, and it’s paired up with a tremendous sound that is being regularly and impeccably evolved.

L-Space – or Post Coal Prom Queen, I should be saying – really are one of a kind, the exact sort of act that inspire me to get enthusiastic about the very prospect of exploring every nook and cranny for the best music out there.

*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 7th FEBRUARY (lossless) + FRIDAY 3rd APRIL (physical/digital)*




Glaswegian post-hardcore quartet Dead By Monday have been around the block for a few years now, but it wasn’t until 2019 where they truly began to make major waves, and they have initiated their 2020 in a huge manner with their self-titled debut full-length release.

They don’t hesitate delivering the juicy stuff right from the offset with Lost Generation, a bloody whopper of a track with a massive scale to it, and a key factor in that is leading man Jordan’s scarily strong vocal power, plus the guitars and drums are weighty, and it manages to regularly switch it up in style.

They keep that intensity alive in the adverse, politically-charged American Horror Story, which is brimming with hardened bass tones; the latter carrying through into Dreamseeker, which is defined by an insanely catchy, boogieing rhythm and sweet chorus. Bed Of Nails flurries through at a forceful pace, and the singing is the stand out quality of Hear Me.

We finally get to have a breather with the interlude, and after some gentle acoustic strums, they fire back into the madness with The Binding, where they also expand their reach with such additions as the warm harmony hooks. They fly through Atom Bomb with an unbridled energy and hit out with great solos and a solid breakdown, and they crank it up even higher in Until Death, battering out thumping beats while giving us more memorable writing.

Then out of nowhere, they swoop into a completely new direction with the two-part Fractured, the first half a totally stripped back piece that is captivating and genuinely emotional, and they even apply strings which is really cool. They then fluently transition into the mental second half, serving as an outstanding climax to an outstanding ride.

I have honestly been so taken aback here. In the past, Dead By Monday were just another act in a loaded scene, but following huge progress in such a short span, they have went above and beyond in their efforts to produce what is all by rights a phenomenal album that I’m confident will rank as one of the defining Scottish records of 2020; not just in the rock/metal genre, but across the entire board.

I’m so proud of the guys and have all the respect in the world for them. I predict that things are going to change for the better, because they have visibly endeavoured and branched up to another playing field, and they deserve to be promoted to a wider audience.





What’s that? Horn & Hoof Records compiling a split EP featuring four of England’s finest punk acts? Don’t mind if I do.

London quartet Werecats are first up to the plate. You Will Love Me is an enjoyably breezy, melodic tune with a lively stroke to it and pretty good harmonies, but it’s a shame that the ballistic Pizza Tramp is as short as it is because it would have been awesome to see it expanded upon in full glory, but as is, a sweet way to begin.

Derby trio The Atoms take the wheel now and aren’t hesitant in being brutal in the lovingly spiteful I Hope She Dies, featuring cracking riffs too, and similarly, Steve Is A Smackrat is damn catchy and hooking, so overall, a top notch pair of contributions.

Brummie group Skimmer kick off with Cinders, where everything on the instrumental side of things is excellent and the vocals are fresh, and they crank up the tempo for the decent Anastasia. More worthy additions here.

And finally are Oldham ska punk threesome The Crash Mats, who open with You’re A Loose Cannon which is a quick and blinding track with dynamic rugged guitars, and they only get better with the awesomely entertaining, full-frontal Curry Party.

Clearly, the best were saved for last, making for a banging conclusion to a damn fine assortment headed by a bunch of acts that every punk fan should definitely be giving the time of day.




NEVERMAN – It’s Not A Prison, It’s A Prism

 Based in Portchester, the rock quartet Neverman have done a lot to grab attention within a short period of time, including a respectable sell-out of Wedgewood Rooms, and as their popularity increases, they’re getting ready to finally put out their debut EP – It’s Not A Prison, It’s A Prism.

They slide at a lax pace into E=McK, eventually flipping the switch to a middle tempo, and from there they deliver solid vocals and riffs, and the melody is nice and engaging. A fair starting point overall, but they truly begin to pick it up with Holes, which is pretty damn catchy, especially given that it’s carried by a groovy rhythm, and they wrap it up with a prime solo.

Now we’re getting into serious business with Picasso Dream. Right off the bat, the bass lines are funky, leading into these low, mounting verses that then launch into terrific, memorable choruses. And then we come to the closing lead single Ibiza ‘98, where the drumming pack a punch, the harmonies display more passion than ever, the lyrics are noteworthy, and the main hook is a pure belter.

While it does take a while to find proper footing, this is nonetheless a really sound effort that is exciting and entertaining when it hits a peak, and there’s more than enough reason here to become a fan and join the boys on their rise to the top.




ANGELLORE – Rien Ne Devait Mourir

It has been a four year wait for fans, but after a part-strenuous, part-creatively satisfying shift, French atmos-doom outfit Angellore are set to finally return with their new album – Rien Ne Devait Mourir.

A Romance Of Thorns is first, where an orphic choir greets the listener and sparks their curiosity fast. From there, they patiently take their time in building up the mood in several phases, the most memorable of those being carried by Lucia’s stunning voice and the decent extreme vocals, and both the middle and closing sections where the pace is ramped up. A few minutes could have been shaved off, but bonus points for the ambition to open with a meaty piece.

Dreams starts off with a pleasant mix of woodwind and acoustics and maintains that throughout the rest of the pretty solid track complete with good lyrics and rocking guitar work. Drowned Divine is another lengthy song where they go full-on gothic through the lyrical content and it makes for an investing narrative as a result, and the singing across the board is on top form.

Blood For Lavania is great with its driving pulse and catchy chorus, the completely instrumental Sur les Sentiers de Lune is majestic, and makes for a nice gateway into the final tune Que Les Lueurs Se Dispersent which is, aside from the somewhat overly long pauses hurting the stride, an enjoyably grand scale affair.

So while it’s true that there are a number of spots that lack oomph, this is otherwise a cool, dark and even sometimes ethereal record with an engaging theatrical vibe to it, and when at its best, it’s totally magnetic.






Since emerging on the Glasgow scene five or so years ago, the quartet of Anchor Lane have seen a swift rise and developed into one of the key young, fledgling rock acts that Scotland has to offer, and their potential has been put to the test with the release of their debut full-length album – Casino.

The opener Blood & Irony kicks off pretty plain and simple, not much to it initially, but suddenly towards the end, they totally let loose with an explosive climax. Now they set a proper pace with Fame Shame, where the energy is off the charts and that especially benefits from the avid vocals and prominently hot, stimulant riffs.

Voodoo drifts along to a juicy, steady groove and the chief hook is quite enticing, and then we get a great display of lyrics in the title track. But with Clocks, the boys return to pure, honest, good old-fashioned rock and roll at its finest, complete with the excitement, the dynamic rhythms, the passion; the whole lot essentially.

The stirring Stone Cold Hearted sweeps along being helmed by excellently tasty basslines, and following on from that is the fantastic Shell Of Me, hands down the highlight writing-wise, where in a mature fashion they really manage to pull through the necessary emotions and get you drawn in.

Familiarity is restored in the cracking Flatline, which is so damn catchy, and in combination with the contagious chorus and top notch drum beats, you sit there biting your lips desperately trying hard to not chime in and boogie along, and boy, is that a challenge.

And if you thought the bass was cool before, it is doubly so in the belting Dead Run, which also happens to scream with an intoxicating buzz that couldn’t possibly not get you fired up to another degree, and they keep that frenzy firm and frenetic right through into the supreme finale, Honey.

Given their growing popularity and established standard, Anchor Lane had a hefty task in delivering a record that lived up to the hype, and live up to the hype it did.

Casino is from bell to bell a feverishly rollicking, unforgettable trek that succeeds in presenting a mixture of thrilling and depth-fresh content, and as such, this is the evidence that the band are the future of Scottish rock music, and if they’re able to excel at this early stage in the game, then they are going to grow into something truly phenomenal down the road.




If you want to talk about a band who are riding a flux of momentum at this present moment, Lucia & The Best Boys are on fire and only getting bigger, and set to elevate to higher heights yet with their new Eternity EP.

Dazzling synths serve as the intro to City Of Angels, an utterly radiant and astonishing tune which fires up the energy levels in no time flat, brimming with sharp drum shots, solid riffs and a wonderfully flowing melody. The lead single Good Girls Do Bad Things has an appealingly darker, punkier vibe flashing back to a few decades past, but still remains vivid and vibrant, coming equipped with a catchy chorus, awfully nice harmonies and a neat showing of synths.

The surge simmers down for My God, where Lucia herself steers the sublime tune with her absolutely stellar, magnetic voice, and that helps in making sure the strong lyrics resonate with the audience, and other minor details such as the good mix of chords and keys add up to a grander whole, and they punch it back up a notch to finish on Flames, which swings to an enjoyably wavering, particularly bass-focused rhythm partnered up with the great guitar work.

After a number of years on the circuit and a couple of touted previous releases, Lucia & The Best Boys have resolutely outdone themselves here. Everything is improved upon, topping all prior stuff they’ve put out, and the members have upped their games to a level like never before.

Lucia & The Best Boys have made a decisive statement, and it’s that they are ready to advance to the big leagues, and I’m confident that they’ll be starting off that campaign by becoming one of Scotland’s most distinguished breakout acts in 2020.



FAT-SUITWaifs & Strays

Fat-Suit are just one of many mass ensembles prominent in Scotland today, and perhaps one of the very best too if their latest album Waifs & Strays is anything to go by.

Rumblings is a perfect introduction to what the group have to offer, being an engaging number that flips up, down and all around, commencing quite lively, settling down for a milder guitar-driven middle, and gradually leading to a juicy payoff. They waste no time and kick off hot with Keo. The sax in particular is a delightful joy to the ears, plus they continuously cram layer after layer of bustling instrumentations as they go.

The Crane And The Crow is a relatively smooth going piece that is chocked to the lid with brass, but Countryside Quiet is considerably different in tone, and keeping true to the title, it’s a pretty merry, light-toned song with a touch of atmosphere as an extra booster. In stark contrast, Brum Doing A Wheelie is so jubilantly vibrant and bouncy to a point that you’d be dying to shake your hips while a big fat grin is plastered on your face.

The keys are quite nice and the bold basslines are gushingly supreme in Caretaker, and the drums come through with a fair amount of intensity as they progress towards the finish. Uh-Oh fires out the gate quickly, although outside of a few nifty spots, it doesn’t quite have the same pulse as the previous tracks. Things improve again with Mombasa, where a cool, ambient beginning transitions into another brimming tune packed with energy, and they soon wrap up with the simple, subdued Lunar Milk.

I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to discover Fat-Suit, but better late than never, I suppose. This is one of the most entertaining hours of music that I’ve experienced as of late, the majority of which evokes literal physical reactions in the most positive way possible. Not many can achieve that, so as far as I’m concerned, this is something respectably special.




 Hailing from Kansas, The Pedaljets are undeniable veterans of the American scene, having spent decades touring around the block and honing their craft, and they are still going strong today, as demonstrated with the forthcoming release of their first album in six years – Twist The Lens.

Disassociation Blues is a nice solid opener to get things moving, being fuelled by this driving drum beat. Meanwhile, Placid City Girl fittingly enough strolls at a casual pace, features a keen hook and has an old school pop vibe to it.

Certain cuts such as Downtown and Loved A Stone are straight-forward but quite melodic, others including Uncounted Heads, One Away and The Fader are beseechingly bouncy, and the likes of Transfer Is Done and Sleepy Girl are slower and more subtle, while showcasing good writing and notably nice guitar chords.

This Is Sepsis is a superb track that is rocking, catchy and chocked with freaking sweet solos, and the other main highlight has to be What Only Cats Chase, which makes an astounding emotional impact.

All in all, a great record tied up by a sound collection of songs with enough variety to them to keep it fresh on the first and eventual respective listens.




GAB DE LA VEGABeyond Space And Time

Gab De La Vega from Brescia, Italy describes himself as “a singer-songwriter with a hardcore punk background”. That was more than enough for me to dive in and check out his latest creation – Beyond Space And Time.

He fires out the gates in stupendously energetic fashion with Phoenix From The Flames, getting a buzz ignited instantly, and he settles into a groove from there with the decent Story Of A Human Being.

The emotions are in full effect with the milder YYZ, but the excitement crops back up in Perfect Texture, renowned for a great hook, and the strings make for a nice addition.

The lyrics of songs such as Rosary Of Days, As One and the harmonica-laden Words Unspoken have a significant latching power that keeps the attention wholly drawn in; Gab’s healthy voice a major factor in that.

We’re also regularly treated to fast and furious bangers like Bomb Inside My Head, We’ve Already Seen All This and Something’s Not Ok, before he eases out tenderly with I Still Believe.

As far as new discoveries go, Gab De La Vega has been a worthy one, and as Beyond Space And Time unfolds, it becomes clear quick that the man is not only able to give us some rocking tunes that are sensational, catchy blasts, but the writing is authentically personal and almost effortlessly captivates.

The dude has handfuls of experience under his belt and has visibly applied his developed skills to the best of his ability, and as such, the final resolution is seriously satisfying.





A perpetually growing presence in the USA national punk scene, Washington quartet and Wiretap roster members American Television continue their roll with a banging new album entitled Burn It Down.

As you’d expect, they kick off in heavy-hitting fashion with Awkward Universe, but Standing Still is the first track where the lyrics come forth into the limelight, and impressively so as they are spouted with plenty of bitter hostility behind them.

The guitars are on firm form in Dead And Gone, and at least doubly so in the exhaustively immense Drinks, accompanied by chunky bass rumbles and stinging blasts of drums along the way.

There’s no rest for the wicked as they continue the charge through the relentless Parasite, Dad’s Song is short and snappy, and while not quite as crazy, Technology hits the mark with the writing for sure.

Wasteland, USA is solid enough, the words of Misprint are a shining facet, and lastly Great Divide makes for a good, catchy finish.

While it loses a little steam nearer the end due to a red-hot middle third, Burn It Down on the whole is a high class effort, an emphatic rush grounded by some noteworthy commentary on the dire state of the world today, and punk rock fans should very much be seeking this out.





Over the course of the last few years, The Rhubarb of Glasgow have been quietly climbing up the ranks in a bid to establish themselves as the city’s definite doom ensemble, and their upcoming Black Sun EP will surely help them in their case.

They really lay heavy into the stoner influences quite quick in Drag Me To Hell; the guitars sounding particularly gritty, and especially with the awesomely addictive chorus highlighted by the dual back-and-forth between Sean’s cool vocals and Hannah’s gorgeous harmonies. They completely flip the dial for a solid minute and crank up the pace, briefly returning to familiar territory before exploding onto a mental climax.

The Waters welcomes us with these thick, ominous chords and looming drum taps, near the halfway point considerably boosting in scale and becoming something sweet, albeit maybe a little too stretched out.

Right from the get go, Part-Time Suicide is super grungy and deliciously so, the bass tones disgustingly thick and the drum beat more potent, and the singing is again top notch. Save for a couple of iffy spots, this has a driving energy to it and definitely takes full advantage of the lengthy runtime.

The last song I’d Do Anything goes in a conspicuously different direction, with more attention being focused towards the writing side of things, and it all culminates in a raging buzz.

Despite suffering from a few hiccups that are distracting, The Rhubarb have nonetheless showed a hell of an improvement in their games since their humble beginnings and are growing into a legitimate force with each passing day.




With much love and help courtesy of Nicole from Moonstruck On Clydeside, I had the opportunity to discover Ronan Francis Doran, who has launched his new Our Friends, The Dead project, and the first product under this banner is the Spilled Wine EP.

He enters steadily crawling into Moth Unto The Flame, shrouding the listeners’ ears within a thick ambience, and as he maintains the mood while subtly raising the pace, he impresses with some skillful acoustics, engaging hooks and a mysterious, commanding vocal presence.

The title track is considerably more involved, complete with persisting drum beats and more good guitars, and it’s here that we truly get to see one of Ronan’s strengths that makes him stand out, and that is the unpredictability of his music, where he goes off in a sonic tangent that leaves you unsure where it is headed, but keeps you curious along the way nonetheless.

The final of the bunch is The Wolf And The Mountain and it is the best yet. Ronan’s singing style is oft-kilter but unique and thoroughly captivating, and as such, the writing hits all the right notes, and for him to be able to evolve the content and retain interest while doing so for a lengthy 7 minutes is admirable.

Undoubtedly one of the most different artists I’ve come across as of late, and he has kicked off this venture superbly with a trio of mesmirising, almost hypnotic pieces that capture your attention and give you a craving to hear more.