SMS | Vent – Escape From Myself


VENTEscape From Myself

In a snap, Vent wakes you right up, being a massive, imposing intro, before properly getting going with Punchline which, despite being a little over the place timing-wise, establishes this awesome, unrelenting hardcore sound in the same vein as Employed To Serve and Frontierer, and it’s only emphasised by a manic, lung-bursting pace and a damn good breakdown.

Things are tightened up better in Stuck, where they throw out these great, crazed vocals, rampant drum flares and grimy bass chords, and lastly is Reveal, which hits out with raw riffs, a pounding seismic rhythm and an insane energy that is outright infectious.

I had no idea about this group until last week, and it sure as hell didn’t take long for me to get hooked. They just grab you by the throat and force you onto this very short yet very wild ride, so a couple of nagging flaws aside, Escape From Myself is a banging debut.

Maybe a ballsy long shot considering they’re practically in their infancy, but I believe Vent have already got the tools to certify themselves as major players in the Scottish metal scene.


SMS | Courage My Love – SPECTRA



Teenagers is about as infectious as an opener gets, pulling you in straight away with a vibrant pop vibe and a bubbly chorus, and they only step it up a notch with Original, which may be one of the best written songs they’ve ever produced to date, in particular with the many charming references to the 80’s, ranging from Cyndi Lauper to Michael Jackson – that’s only scratching the surface, too – and the sound compliments it nicely.

Speaking of which, the EP notably begins to follow a similar trend sound-wise, continuing into Girls, littered with these exuberant guitar chords and fuzzy drum shots. Slow Motion is a nice catchy number with more great lyrics and is built upon warm, silky bass tones, and Harlequin Romance is surrounded in this blissfully velvety ambience; this especially applied through the super sweet synths; while being driven by these contrasting thumping beats.

Everybody’s Lonely is another highlight in regard to the writing, and is also the most energetic cut so far, soon closing out with one of the most stunning climaxes to any record of 2020, Sleeptalker, which is ripe with emotions that spill through the Arn-Horn twins’ powerfully glowing harmonies.

In my mind, Courage My Love only get better with each passing year, and SPECTRA is the cream of their already luxurious crop. The Kitchener trio are smart enough to know that in order to stay current and elevate their status, they need to continually freshen up their game and develop their talents, and that couldn’t be any more clearly evident than here.

There’s a little of everything – energy, atmosphere, joyfulness, thoughtfulness, straight up fun, and pure sincerity – and with every listen, my love and respect for the tremendously talented, internationally renowned group grows fonder.


SMS | Sertraline – Clouded Minds & Silver Lines

SERTRALINE - Clouded Minds & Silver Lines EP Cover Artwork Final

SERTRALINE – Clouded Minds & Silver Lines

The group don’t waste any motion as they kick off with the critically-acclaimed Inside Out, which brings forth the newly refined, immense-scaled sound that they established with their previous hit Relapse.

Every element is a winner here; Lizzie’s incredible multi-layered vocals, Mike and Tom’s sweet dual guitars, the hefty rhythm fused by Si and Hendo, an unforgettable chorus, and most importantly, captivating stinging lyrics that confronts fake people and rightfully calls them out on their bull.

They harken back to their debut EP with Mean To Me II, which is fittingly focused on past reflection. The whole song is coated with a rough sense of aggression and a tenor of anger hanging in the air, and that certainly shines through the performances here; Si being the stand out with his unbelievable double-pedal work behind the kit.

2205 feels even gritter and grimier than what precedes it and is in many respects the highlight of the lot. The hooks are infectious, Lizzie gives what is potentially her greatest performance ever with superb, unrelenting, heart-spilling vocals, Hendo’s basslines pack a shaking punch, and the guitar solo in the middle is pretty radical.

The intro to Screaming For Sleep takes its time building with this anticipation, eventually unleashing into this unyielding wave of hostility that stays persistent, contributing to this crazy, high-octane energy and at the end of it all culminating in the most fearsome of breakdowns.

From there, they fly immediately into their latest single Isolation, a rampant, no holds barred assault complete with that same dynamic intensity carried over from the previous track, blinding technical riffs and in-depth writing that leaves even more of a resounding impression than what was probably intended given the ongoing situation across the globe.

Earlier this year, I predicted that Sertraline’s latest offering would rank among the best to emerge in 2020, and I haven’t been left disappointed in the slightest. Clouded Minds & Silver Lines is a rare case of perfection, where no conspicuous flaws can be spotted.

The Midlands metal quintet – who have visibly bettered their abilities from day one – have went above and beyond to deliver an impeccable effort, with no songs falling short, all of them rating of an equally outstanding quality, combined together in one truly tight package to create something that is, to put it bluntly, bloody awesome.

Sertraline are not to be underestimated, they’ve proved time and again that they can hang with, or even surpass, the elite in the British rock scene, and they should be recognised as such.



SMS | Mother Focus – Mezzo Forte



As is their wont, the outfit spring on us an enticingly infectious belter of a track in the form of their latest single Lady Fortuna to kick off the proceedings, highlighted by bright keys, sexy sounding bass tones and a great guitar solo. They continue the party with Shine Two, which is also awfully catchy and particularly defined by marvelously dazzling synths, nice cymbal-focused beats and ravishing harmonies.

The excitement only escalates to the nth degree with Paradise, where the drumming is at it’s most powerful and the overall energy is off the freaking charts. But do they finally slow down with the closing tune, Quiz Machine? Don’t be ridiculous, they just increase the pace to it’s limit and coax an urge to start dancing and flailing around like a lunatic, it’s just that bloody intoxicating.

No bones about it, Mother Focus’ debut record is sensationally awesome, a masterwork in terms of generating a breath-taking buzz that words can’t do justice for.

Without a hint of hesitant doubt, this can be easily classed as one of the best Scottish EPs to have emerged in 2020 to this point, and this band badly warrant more public attention for their sparkling skills.


SMS | Ticker Tape – Leap Year



A short but slick opener, NYE is smooth in the offset but picks things up in no time flat with swift drum flurries and the like. The opening third of Vacation Town is quite easy-going and treats us to some meaningful lyrics, then the dial is flicked back up to give us a cracking, catchy chorus, among other things.

Anything//Everything is a fantastic loving piece with a considerable size to it, mostly coming as a result of the great guitars and impassioned vocals, also accompanied by tip-top overdubs. Spring is an immensely wild blast that ramps up the buzz to an unfathomable degree, and a rollicking rhythm helps keep that energy rolling hard in Westport, with the pace only lowered for a nice string-based section before launching into a hot climax to wrap up what is an awfully well-layered track.

Song No 6 is the most low-key cut yet, and the most emotional by a fair margin in regard to both the vocal performance and the writing, plus it’s carried by some mellow bass chords and chilled trumpets. The brief but electric Ball Game serves as the bridge into the peppy and pretty memorable Dog Days.

There’s a lot of flair to the drumming in Jukebox; after which is Coney Island, another stripped back tune and the album’s outstanding highlight, being so raw and palpable in its sensitivity, showcasing some very magnetic and heartfelt lyrics brought to life beautifully by the pleasingly warm singing.

It’s back to business as normal with the fun and chipper Bleeding Out, the middle sequence especially bringing a smile to the face, and finally things culminate with the sweet Calendar Year.

As far as the USA is concerned, the New York quartet are hands down one of the most noteworthy discoveries as of late, showing off their mighty talents through an excellent record featuring such a diverse collection of numbers that don’t necessarily stick to/fall under one specific genre, instead visibly incorporating a blend of ingredients from the likes of pop-punk, emo and indie rock, and to their advantage.

Ticker Tape’s sophomore effort is undoubtedly one of the best from across the board this year, and it’s about time their name becomes more of a major facet in the mainstream scene.


SMS | The Girl Who Cried Wolf – Crazy Things



Turn The Page shimmers with these dark, haunting electronics, in time being led on by Lauren’s bewitching voice, repeating the lyrics until they are glued in your subconscious, as well as a smooth beat that picks up sharply in the closing minute.

Next up from that is Crutch, which is so catchy and quite captivating with its snazzy, addictive melody, and the rhythmic title track has a dazzling sound that flows and develops from the beginning to the end, and is defined by perhaps the most magnetic writing of the lot.

Drop To My Knees is a solid number with a sweet chorus and effectively vindictive tone to it, and lastly, Bad Weather makes for a decent finish that continues the trends from past songs.

Just short of a year on from their debut, yours truly has long anticipated a record from the Glasgow duo, and the final result is something pretty satisfying. Granted, it would have been nice to see it released during a less frantic time in the world, but that didn’t stop them from delivering delightful new material anyway.

While a couple of the selections don’t hit the same mark as others, The Girl Who Cried Wolf nonetheless impress with their respectively refined abilities and combine them together to create music that is fresh, atmospheric, and featuring relatable themes that most can sink their teeth into.

Above all else, Crazy Things serves as an ideal demonstration for what this talented pair have to offer, simultaneously continuing to showcase their boundless future potential.