SMS #6: New Ways Of Living



Big Scary Monsters are undoubtedly one of the most bountifully diverse labels in terms of showcasing some of the coolest up and coming acts, with such notable examples including Jamie Lenman, Cultdreams and Gender Roles.

Dublin indie pop ensemble The Winter Passing are my most recent discovery from the loaded roster, and having checked out their freshly released sophomore album – New Ways Of Living – I knew I had stumbled upon something special.

Without a second to spare, they dive straight into Ghost Thing, which fires you up with this large, utterly dashing chorus, and just like that, you’re infected with The Winter Passing bug, leaving you keen to stick around for the rest of the ride.

So with you now sat comfortably, they proceed onto The Street And The Stranger, and it’s here that we get a fabulous showcase of the spot-on vocal combo, where Rob’s hearty singing blends so nicely with Kate’s lovely, velvety harmonies. They launch the tempo upwards and reclaim the energy with the persistently fiery Melt, then blaze through New York with these rushing riffs.

The writing is top notch in Crybaby, taking a stab at those unwilling to take accountability for their negative actions, instead complaining about facing the consequences, plus the bubbly hook is just amazing. Greetings From Tipperary floats forward in a calm drift, and Resist is another catchy number that’s also furnished with great drum beats.

Something To Come Home To is a super sweet piece about finding that one person who changes your life and maintains your will to live in even the darkest times, knowing that they will be there for you. The minimalistic and chilling I Want You covers a similar theme, and they close out with the equally enveloping Mind Yourself.

So as I said at the beginning, The Winter Passing are something special, and this album is solid proof of that. New Ways Of Living engages you with a little of everything – jubilant numbers, creative lyrics and emotionally pulling storytelling – spawned from a quintet of very talented performers, linked together to form one of Ireland’s best kept secrets.




There are few acts in the British hardcore/metalcore scene at the moment who are displaying as much future promise as The Human Veil. Within the span of 2 years, the Manchester quintet have consistently dished out music of a high standard, only getting better with each single.

They’ve especially been gaining a lot of steam over the unpredictable course of 2020, with people swarming towards them in flocks, and I have a sneaky feeling their growing popularity is going to hit a new peak with the release of their forthcoming Fractures EP.

After commencing with unsettling tones, they make the quick switch into Faceless God, a hell of an opener that resonates with this manic, relentless force. Matt’s expansive vocals are crazily strong, and the Hannibal Lecter-inspired themes tackled are twisted and demented but stick with you as a result.

The titular lead single is how I came to discover the band in the first place, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. It’s a perfect package – mighty, heartfelt singing once again, Jack and Adam’s dual sweeping riffs, Jordon and Sam’s packing rhythm, a stampeding breakdown, an unforgettable chorus, and connectable writing concerning the internal war of mental health struggles.

8612 is also phenomenally potent, throwing up a scathing middle finger to the societal system trying to oppress the public and manipulate them under a strict vision, and this song encourages people to rise up and take control of their own lives; as they should, of course. The guitars have an extra technical flair, and the basslines crush it at a fissuring degree.

A Thousand Crows is another effectively uneasy cut that dives into the disturbing psychology of those who lose all sense of self-control and “become a monster”, an element well conveyed through the roaring, guttural screams.

But they reverse that vibe for the great climatic track, Lone Wolf, with an affirmed, awe-inspiring message of hope and positivity that we should all strive for in order to kick the arse of darkness and negativity.

At the risk of sounding unprofessional but not caring so, Fractures f***ing blew my socks off. On the surface, it’s an astoundingly immense, shattering record that is heavy, gut-punching and beyond exciting.

But it’s the lyrics, complete with genuine emotional input, stirring metaphors and an attention to detail that elevate The Human Veil from being another statistic in the crowd, to a refreshingly legitimate act capable of many amazing things. And mark my words, they will be successful because of that.



FOOTThe Balance of Nature Shifted

The Melbourne quartet of Foot have been doing a bang-up job establishing themselves as one of Australia’s essential desert rock bands, and after already impressing with their first two albums, the guys step it up again with their third release – The Balance Of Nature Shifted – fronted by one of the coolest, most vivid covers I’ve seen in a while.

Despair On Hope Street starts us off, and the group do well in forming a deliciously rugged, grungy sound that many will find deliciously reeks of the 90’s, and mixed in with that are these cool, swell vocals, and the chorus is great too.

The pace is accelerated a little in the somewhat darker E-Sports, grooving to a nifty drum beat and featuring some sweet guitar skills in the middle, and Green Embers glimmers with this mystical sensation that sparks your curiosity further, and the reverbed harmonies really help accentuate this, almost putting you into a trance of sorts.

Ride It Out is a belter of a single, charging forth with an intoxicating energy and showcasing magnetic writing which I take as a reflection of the current generation being suppressed by the system driven by the elite of the previous generation who are in charge.

That dynamic power keeps firing on into Investment, complete with persistent guitar chords, great echoic hooks, and a grand scale to it overall, then the lyrics are again a focal point in the primordial Break The Altar, nihilistically questioning the reason of our existence and if we serve a purpose in the whole scheme of things.

Jungle-style bops are the gateway to the riveting, infectious and thematically investing Neighbours, and Manic Progression empathetically speaks out against certain folk with detrimental viewpoints who believe that they are right and oppress anybody who they consider to be weak and not match up to this very specific, narrow-minded criteria.

Concluding with the jam-packed High, Foot have demonstrated this worldly awareness (and wariness) on such a high level that I can’t recall another rock act living up to, and it never ever feels shoved down your throat, as they deliver their messages in such a carefully calculated and mindful manner.





I’ve spoken many a time about Edinburgh electropop duo Chuchoter, and for good reason. Since discovering them live at King Tuts at the start of 2019, they have quickly become one of my favourite acts in the Scottish scene, with their Pieces and Crush EP’s being regarded highly in my eyes.

So of course, when they announced a new record called I’m Good, I was thoroughly buzzing, and lo and behold, once it hit the shelves, I found myself loving it.

Never before have they been so quick to spark a buzz in an opener as they have with Not With You, dashing through at a rapid pace with sharp, bass-thick beats that then give way to these luminous high-pitched notes in the damn catchy chorus.

I consider Emily to be one of the best writers in the country, and she lives up to that distinction in Skindeep, being unafraid to flip off thirsty guys hitting on girls purely based on their looks and not caring about any other quality, as perfectly captured in lines such as “my personality is not a bonus”.

And lastly, we have Good On My Own, which nicely blends the strongest elements of the previous two tracks, complete with engaging instrumentals, great vocals, and more effective lyrics about taking a stand and rightfully being proud of your independence.

If you’ve had a positive past experience with Chuchoter, then you’ll be glad to know that this will also be worth your time and money. Another cracking addition to the pair’s brimming library, and it seems like it is becoming an impossibility for them to produce bad music at this point.




In terms of acts who are able to bring the party and take you on an exciting ride, Faversham band Karobela have been one of the most successful to leave that effect on me as of late, and you too can experience that glow if you take the time to check out their self-titled EP.

The electric feeling comes alive as soon as they get rolling with Candy, emitting such an infectious energy, and a big factor in that is the performances, whether it’d be Lauren’s shining voice, Rob’s slick riffs or the enticing rhythm Ben and Katie drive forth.

But they really get down and dirty with Skin & Bone, which has a much heavier, more rugged tone to it; the guitar chords and basslines sounding grittier and the drums maintaining an extra vibrance to them, plus the turned up tempo helps to excel the buzz.

Liquor Heart enters with a sequence of primal claps and proceeds at a steadier groove, but it’s still riveting nonetheless, particularly as Lauren steps up her vocal chops, and the writing is quite good as well; likewise in the case of Good Luck Trying.

Then to finish off, they give it everything in No Mercy, an outstanding finale that is dynamic on all fronts, each member displaying their full potential and not holding back as they dish out the ravishing thrills.

Karobela’s record is a wonderfully rollicking romp that is barrels of fun, and it only gets better every time that you chose to stick your headphones in and give it another whirl.




Growing up in New Brunswick, Canada and currently based in Edinburgh, Jane Blanchard only fell into my radar quite recently, having been featured in the Scottish Alternative Music Awards’ monthly single showcase.

Her contribution was a worthwhile one, so I sat patiently for her eventually released third EP – Still, Again – and I had settled as a fan there and then.

The aforementioned contribution Missing Me is the track that opens this up, which reels you in and embraces you with these lovely hypnotic, swirly vibes, amplifying your attention with a thick and fuzzy chorus.

Then it’s the title number, which bounces along to this tasty rhythm formed from amazingly infectious drum shots and nice, delicate touches of bass, and Jane really begins to show off her wide-spanning vocal capabilities, and with Settle, she particularly displays a subtle yet firm assertiveness in both her singing and her lyrics.

Care begins lightly with an easy-swaying melody, but gradually picks up in power with a somewhat rampant charge, before pulling it back again; subsequently switching between the two styles, and she finishes quite fashionably with the engaging, well-written stripped back piece, Take Me Home.

Following on from a favourable first impression, my second impression of Jane Blanchard has been even greater. She is such a dazzling artist who produces music with a sound part raw, part fancy, pretty sleek in the smoother sequences, while pumping in the meatier moments, and combined with her nice writing, you can’t help but fully immerse yourself in it.




On a recent surf through the Lost Map label, my attention was drawn towards an intriguing figure by the name of AR Pinewood. I didn’t know much beforehand aside from him residing in an undisclosed part of Scotland, but I would soon get acquainted with his talents as he had just released his debut album – No Life.

As he starts off with the title number, he sings through a manipulated, robotic voice, which catches you off guard, but you quickly latch on to him and provide your attention as he engages you with pleasing acoustics.

Publicly Shamed sucks you in further, and you find out that he’s a compelling writer who keeps you gripped through every sentence. You also find that he’s constantly mixing up his sound and keeps it fresh, which is showcased as early as the electronic pop-infused Faux Misery, made more infectious by the shakers in the background.

Best Self demonstrates that he’s quite efficient in drawing a lot of emotional power; the lyrics being both clever and heartfelt, and that trend continues in the affectionate, kind-hearted I’m Okay, which legitimately had me smiling, it was just that sweet.

The gears are shifted in Other Side, which is a lot bouncier and catchier, with a hootenanny vibe of sorts, and Where Did You Go is similarly lively and melodic, topped off with the delightful bonus of harmonicas.

But for all the happier tunes dripping with positivity, Pinewood is also capable of conveying a pessimistic sense of sadness, and he proves that so effectively in Hyperbolic through his naturally-written words. The straight-forward Hotel has an absorbing air to it, and he fashionably makes his exit with the dazzling Write Home About.

Many uncertain people would probably take a glance at AR Pinewood for the mysterious masked character that he is and see it as a mere gimmick, but trust me, there’s a lot more to him than that, and this record solidifies that fact.

The computerised vocals are likeable, but when you get past that, he really is a great, pure harmonic singer. He’s an enrapturing storyteller who can cover a range of themes, and as already touched upon, his sound is awfully diverse and never at any point feels rehashed.

So while curious and cryptic on the surface, underneath you have yourself an immensely talented and entertaining fella.


trade secrets

TRADE SECRETSThese Other Lives Part One

Fronted by industry veteran FJ DeSanto, the proclaimed future synth rock group Trade Secrets have been one of my most striking finds to come out of Los Angeles, and it turns out I came across them at the perfect time, just as they were putting out a new EP entitled These Other Lives Part One.

As Out The Picture kicks off, I’ve immediately fallen in love with the indescribably pure and pristine calibre of the production, and what we get is a pretty nice instrumental piece that is fiercely radiant, dotted with bright, fresh keys and cool chords.

In a different light, Frequency has more of a rad dance essence to it, especially with the thick, vibrant beats at the base of it, and the singing isn’t too shabby either, and the following tune Immersed keeps that established dazzling sensation running strong throughout.

But the best is certainly saved for last – Burning Daylight – an awesome, excitement-sparking track that is insanely catchy and infectious, and good luck trying to keep your body still listening to this.

A terrific, fully satisfying record that fans of electronic music should not be hesitant to pick up.


Trade Secrets · Burning Daylight



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