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.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 14th FEBRUARY*
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.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 14TH FEBRUARY*
IN ASSOCIATION WITH 23 UNIVERSE
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.
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.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA
TAFARI ANTHONY – Centerfold
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.
*IN ASSOCIATION WITH LPR AGENCY*
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.
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.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH HACKNEY RHYTHM
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.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 3rd APRIL*
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.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 20TH MARCH*
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.
RED HEARTED VIBRATIONS – I’ll Be On The Mountain
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.