SMS | Ink4Ivy – Not Another Demotape

INK4IVYNot Another Demotape

It takes a real ambitious moxie for folks to get together and form a band in the midst of a global pandemic, but this Germany pop-punk troupe took the plunge, and while the live and touring circuits are out of the question, they have kept busy producing a bountiful amount of material, and this brings us to their debut EP right here which is undeniably a quality result.

Everything you could ask for from an act of the genre, they provide in spades; eager vocals with a sizable spirit behind them, bustling melodies loaded with catchy hooks spread throughout, nice riffs and rhythm work, and just an infectious energy in general.

Older Nights has such an intoxicating buzz to it that gets you all hyped up big time, while When We’ve Started and Last Summer are solid, light-hearted bouncy tunes in their own rights. The lyrics are on noticeably strong form in Down A Hole, and with Echo, they finish off in the same manner as they started; in a cheerfully bright and lively fashion to send you away all fuzzy and happy inside.


SMS | Odd Saints – Blame The Young

ODD SAINTSBlame The Young

So truthfully, I know little to nothing about this Murrieta, CA indie-pop-rock outfit, but what I can say for sure after they cropped up on my Instagram via the power of sponsored ads and I took the time to check out their Blame The Young EP is that they are good at what they do.

As an intro, Recognize was the perfect option, building up the pace before bursting into an excitable frenzy sparked by the cool mix of decent riffs, stocky drumming, and addictively twinkling synths.

From there, they’re off to the races and keep that buzz alight to the end, with each song one after the another delivering awfully good melodies, interesting lyrics, and best of all, smashing choruses to invigorate your serotonin levels to a satisfying degree; the highlights being the titular number and the charmingly fluorescent See You Later.

They promised music worth singing and dancing to, and I can confirm with this solid and engaging effort that there’s no false advertising here.


SMS | Pretty Preachers Club – Going Nowhere Fast


The Glaswegian bedroom pop duo came to be in 2020 and kept very busy throughout the hectic year with a variety of releases – which I’m guiltily late to the party on – and this included their debut Going Nowhere Fast EP which I’ll say straight off the bat is simply marvellous and hooked me as a fan instantly.

The harmonies are so pure and stellar, and the pair blend together effortlessly in that regard, and just as effortless is their ability to draw you into the lyrics which are equally latching, mostly relating to the frustrations of a relationship not seemingly progressing anytime soon; hence the record’s title.

And oh my, the utilised piano keys and synths are gloriously ravishing too, forging a beautifully comforting atmosphere in the surroundings and making for cushioned melodies that are soft and harmonious, while the simple beats push forward the nice and tender rhythms.

The title track is the ultimate example which best displays the above elements, but the mighty fine Could Be Worse also stands out in particular with its rockier feel courtesy of the savoury combo of acoustic and electric chords, and If You Like and Hey Boy are real beauties brimming with graceful emotions; the latter extra amplified by the dreamy strings.


SMS | The Raft – Summerheads And Winter Beds

THE RAFTSummerheads And Winter Beds

You couldn’t ask for a more promising start than Clear Water, which is quick to establish a skin-tingling fluorescent, synth-infused atmosphere that only grows in size as it progresses, then There’s No Going Back has a mixed post-punk/shoegaze character to it and features polished vocals, engaging guitars and a few hints of juicy trumpet dotted in spots.

The chorus of So Bright is utterly addicting, Hold Back The World is gorgeously ambient, and although You’re An Animal falls more into a basic category, the follow-up Skeletons is another embracing track transforming into a high-octane dazzler in the second half.

Then comes a slog where Another Day is simply fine and Heavy Metal Eyes overstays it welcome, but thankfully Thinking About You grabs your attention immediately with grooving basslines which remain prevalent throughout the entirety of this pleasingly light-hearted ditty.

The likes of soft harmonies, excellent chords and vibrant electronics help make Twisting a satisfying melodic cut, with This Is War following suit in that regard. You Need Me radiates with an intoxicating energy, and last but certainly not least is The Story Or The Song, which serves as a sublime conclusion.

Underground music veteran Phil Wilson is a highly underrated talent, and this album is pure evidence of that fact. Granted, a couple of songs could have been put aside and there are instances where the pace can drag a little, but aside from that, this is a very rich record that, when at its peak, is simply out of this world and is guaranteed to provide a meditative, musing listening experience.


SMS | Sinn – Malevolent


Following on from a decent building intro, the guys kick it into full-gear for Half-Life, a palpably dynamic opening number featuring obscene screams and a wholly charged rhythm, and they don’t hold anything back as fire into Limbic Resonance with that same intensity; in fact, you could argue it’s raised up even further, from the swift pace to the energised guitar work.

A thick battering of the drums and then it’s onto Moses, which is shorter but clobbers with an enforced aggressiveness. Vanta Black starts off deceptively quiet, but lo and behold, of course we get another banger, and easily the catchiest of the lot so far with several cool hooks to boot, great clean harmonies, and a few immense guitar solos escalating the energy to an unfathomable level.

After that, the title track makes for an ideal closer dishing out last time blast of wholesome heavy goodness, finishing off a cracking EP from the promising Virginia metal trio who have entered 2021 off with a considerable bang.


SMS | Hearts & Hand Grenades – Turning To Ashes


The New York quartet bring forth an overall entertaining rock album that, while falling a little short in areas, make up for it with a selection of potent bangers worth smashing the replay button for time and time again.

The title track and For The Weakened start the record off in relatively good fashion, and Daggers and I Hide continue to keep it at a solid quality, but venturing into the second half, that’s when the juicy material truly comes alive.

Adrenaline features awesome tempo-elevating sequences, Nothing Left has an infectiously rampant energy, impressive solos and enjoyably catchy hooks, The In Crowd launches from blues-rock influenced verses into gloriously barraging blitzes, and My Sickness serves as a high-octane climax.

With a focus on commanding raw and raunchy vocals, clobbering rhythms and intense riff displays, Turning To Ashes is a great debut from a great band who could potentially make something of themselves if able to up their games.



SMS | Matt Charleston – Songs For The Weekend

MATT CHARLESTONSongs For The Weekend

The Sydney man has commenced 2021 in a respectable fashion with an album that is quite the relaxing experience, where the writing is engaging and the music itself is easy on the ears, but that’s not to say there’s a shortage of bright, energetic sequences that raise the bar, for there are plenty of those on hand too.

Most of the number are enjoyable little ditties gleaming with a mixture of influences ranging between pop, country and a hint of rock also featuring memorably encapsulating lyrics; highlights including Lovers Lane, Great Western Highway and Living The Dream.

Meanwhile, the likes of Smallest Time and Love And Navigation up the ante with some extra melodic flavour and distinctly catchy hooks, and if that wasn’t enough, Matt enlists the help of a series of guests that improve the songs even further.


SMS | Shells – Colours


Instantly, all your focus is pinpointed towards the sublime opener Heart Beating which is very rich production-wise from the get-go, and it only gets better as SHELLS blesses us with a tight combo of stunning vocals, sweet instrumentals and fixating lyrics. She only continues to positively sway with Mexico, which is sonically sleek and ambient, embracing you with this undeniably comforting warmth that is reflected nicely in the writing.

Like I Love You is hands down SHELLS’ best track to date, thanks to its stellar synth-based melody, highly addictive beats and the insanely ravishing chorus, and throughout it all, the harmonies reach an excellently impressive peak. Another One starts off completely acapella, but soon enough multiple layers are added on piece by piece, leading to an infectiously pulsing number that urges you to dig down deep and strut your stuff.

It’s been a long 4 year wait for SHELLS to drop her sophomore record, but talk about patience paying off, because this is an utterly fantastic, bountiful EP that improves upon virtually every aspect of the electro-pop artist’s initial debut, and for all the hell 2020 put the world through, at least it wrapped up on a superbly positive note thanks to this.


SMS | Kerri Watt – Neptune’s Daughter

KERRI WATTNeptune’s Daughter

It’s no secret that Kerri Watt has been pegged as a future major star in the Scottish scene, but wow, she has gone above and beyond with Neptune’s Daughter, which is from bell to bell a sensational romp that sparks a variety of tangible emotions.

Attached are an endless list of infectiously rousing pop jams, ranging from the hair-raising, lyrically notable Chasing Aeroplanes, to the unfiltered country-influenced bop Jessie, to the frenzied whirlwind that is the soulful title track; each containing strong choruses, eager singing, brilliant hooks, energised catchy rhythms, and just bright and bouncy vibes overall.

But there are a few selections that hit the mark in a different fashion, such as the cool and atmospheric Cut Me Loose, the rich and fiercely engrossing standout Hellfire, and the touching, piano-focused culminating ballad, I Wanna Sing For You.

As if it wasn’t obvious enough by this point, Kerri is indeed a superstar in the making, and this album is surely guaranteed to stand tall as one of the prime debut records of 2021, mark my words.