SMS #66 | Fonzy & Company – Touche


The Kids Stay Home is an absolute belter of an opener that’s bubbling and bursting with an immensely infectious buzz. The vocals across the board are glowing and firmly committed, the guitars really help in creating a rousing rush, and the sweet chorus is unforgettable. The group keep flying on stylishly with the palpable Precious Malicious, where the riffs are once again out of this world, boasting an added aggression here, and the rhythm section are on sturdy form, plus there’s a solid and subtle ambience lingering in the early goings too.

The lyrics have been fantastic up till this point but really capture your attention in particular during the quick and snappy No Way, firing shots at those from elder generations who can’t properly understand and relate to the struggles today’s youth have to endure, and the purest of emotions are displayed at their optimal degree in the wonderful finishing tune, The Serenade.

What makes the Bristol outfit’s record so great is the genre-bending quality of it, where they are never sticking to one particular sonic route, constantly mixing it up with such a broad variety that very few other acts can match up to. Intertwined with devoted performances and engaging writing, and you have yourself a bloody superb EP.


SMS #65 | Bleaks – Bleaks


One blare of feedback later, we shift into the unadulterated frenzy of Break Of Day, headed by blunt, chesty singing. After having set the mood, the lads amp up it further with the purely chaotic Disgraced, featuring rigid riffs and the drumming battering out a hysteria of hammering beats in every direction. The Bleaks Theme is a catchy bobber with an undercurrent of tight bass tones vibrating throughout, eventually devolving into total carnage in the closing moments.

They blitz the senses with the breakneck Yack, then fire up the aggression even more through the deafening vocals in Wise Guy while keeping that rapid pace charging on. The combined stabbing lyrics, cool guitars and stiff rhythm of Signals are addictive as all hell, and they save the best for last with the formidable climatic belter Jolt In My Brain.

A damn fine, heavy, heart-stopping and beautifully mental debut effort from the Glasgow hardcore punk supergroup, all in all, and if they’re ever up for it, I’d happily pay to hear more.

SMS #64 | Katherine Aly – Shadows Are Made Of Light Too


Immediate interest is sparked as soon as Glow & Ignite kicks off, which is from bell to bell a wonderfully radiant and vivacious song in every regard that couldn’t possibly not get you smiling. The swaying dazzler Pariah has a darker and more emotional flow to it, with Katherine’s beautiful voice carrying that weight through efficiently.

The levels of passion featured in Never Giving Up On You are insurmountable, with much love and care bubbling behind the lyrics, and Katherine giving 110% conviction and dedication in her incredible performance, mainly during the exceptional chorus, and she continues to display more of that warmth and tenderness through the synth-drenched Hey Girl, emphasising that it’s perfectly fine to suffer a negative day now and again, and that you can get back on your feet and start afresh tomorrow.

The short and sweet Hype Up is so bright and catchy, with Katherine’s broad vocal range being truly displayed here. Maybe In Another Life not only features some contagious harmony hooks but also effectively captures that longing for how things could have turned out better under different circumstances. Rules is glisteningly spectral in nature and has a vividly magnetic pull to it, and the record comes to a rousing close with the utterly sweeping and fired up Butterflies.

The Edinburgh alt-pop queen had quite a task to accomplish with her debut album; naturally her biggest release to date; but she has blown me sideways, coming through with a valiant and phenomenally devoted effort, undoubtedly cementing her as a hot new sensation in the Scottish scene, if she isn’t considered as such already.

SMS #63 | Me & Munich – Postponing The Past


Things get off to a pretty promising start with the rollicking and energised opener Godspeed, and they keep the flow riding high in the riff-intensive Unspoken. Out Of Luck is the strongest cut yet, mainly owed to the focused vocal work and the engaging, relatable lyrics reflecting on when it all becomes too much and you find yourself battling struggles one after another. Stimming Youth is a great, sonically catchy piece, and Keep The Pain perhaps even more so, where the guitars steal the show with plenty of sizzling exhibitions front to back.

The guys then scale it down for Shadows Unfolding which swings with a solid amount of emotional resonance, but they return to hefty form with the stellar Broken Are The Most Evolved, highlighted by an electrifying chorus, more fiercely passionate singing, and strong writing detailing how those who have been forced to suffer have a better understanding of the world compared to those who are safe and stuck in their entitled bubbles.

Wash It Away shudders with definitively thick bass tones, the memorably written Catatonic packs a rhythmic punch, and a juicy guitar-driven melody and packing drum beats assist in making Serenity a super infectious banger. They then finish stylishly with A Curse In Your Ocean, defined by the theme of letting go, thus concluding the latest record from the Danish rock outfit which successfully makes a remarkable impression and is absolutely worth checking out if you find yourself unaware of this band’s talents.

SMS #62 | Nimbus Sextet – Forward Thinker


High Time is a freaking infectious ditty where the brass section strut their stuff in an effective manner, crafting a melody that has you swinging, and Charlotte De Graaf’s fresh vocals add another level to the already great music.

The titular piece follows, and as you listen, you’ll find your body shaking and shimmying beyond your control, courtesy of the insanely addictive and engaging rhythm. The guitar and bass work throughout is slick, and both the keys and sax thoroughly impress when given the spotlight.

Woodview provides a nice reprieve after that fun frenzy, and it transitions damn perfectly into Another Place, which is a cool and composed number that gets you sinking back deep into your chair while you are serenaded by the satisfyingly polished horns, before climbing up into another buzz towards the end.

Search For Solace is mainly defined by the sweet pianos and creates a particular mood that sparks that image of a cosy, intimate bar in some tucked away urban corner of New York. From The Shadows is a similarly pleasing sonic affair, then the group bring the juice one last time for the electrifying To The Light.

The newest album from the Scottish jazz ensemble is a stellar sensation, forming refined atmospheres in the low-key songs while cranking up the energy through the entertainingly high-octane sweeping cuts.

SMS #61 | Vanives – Thanks


Love Like I’m Falling eases in super smoothly with a loose atmosphere forged in the process, which is further hoisted by the incredibly eloquent vocals that get you absorbed right from the off. Babyshowers rings with some subtle R&B influences, and the thoughtful lyrics are provocatively latching; a trend that continues into the emotionally rich and sonically cool Old Names.

The dual performances of Birds are magnetic as all hell and have you totally frozen in a focused state as each half tell their side of the solemn story. Finn, as brief as it is, serves as an intriguing intermission, then the heat begins to pick up with Just Draw Daisies and its dapper beats, and it also exits to a neat outro.

The chorus of Basic Love has you flourishing in waves of euphoric ecstasy, and Cola indulges in a trip of nostalgia. Arc Of The Moment bursts with a gracefully grand scope at its highest heights, the mainly acoustic Bardennoch is a great reflection of self-doubt and that awful perception of seeming worthless, and Nothing caps the record off on a powerful and enveloping note.

The duo’s debut album is something awaited for so long by myself and I’m sure much of the Scottish music community, and Stuart and Roan have outdone themselves. The writing taking into consideration the hardships of love and the importance of life choices make this their most mature and antiquated release to date without a doubt, plus the production standards are also ace and play a major part in the investment factor.

SMS #60 | Odia – Prize Fighter


Into The Light is an incredibly stunning opener that creates this vivid, wide-open sound brought to a grand life primarily through cinematic-level strings and lovely vocalising. Next is the title track, and there are seriously not enough words to give it justice, but in the fewest that can be possibly mustered, it’s a dynamic, epic piece with an unbelievably sensational energy that generates a blistering excitement. The piano/fiddle melodies are addictive, the rocking guitars are so cool, and the electronica-influenced synths intermixed with the pipes are stupendously sweeping. Not only the highlight of this record, but a considerable candidate for the best single of the entire year altogether.

The Bothaneers commences relatively smoothly with a nice Celtic air but steadily elevates into another appealing and catchy piece, and Meilleurs Jours is calmly mind-easing while regularly brightened up and radiant keys. The irresistible basslines lead on the borderline-funky rhythm of Prega Amore Mio, and the gentle singing is wonderful too. Papillon blossoms with a lot of positive life and urges you to find the nearest ceilidh hall in order to let loose your contained hysteria, The Priory provokes similar feelings with its elating buzz, Phaelon is dripping in a lucidly spectral atmosphere, and the nifty electronically-infused Goodnight Rachel makes for a very solid and worthy conclusion to the lot.

The Scottish-French-Malaysian world music fusion have come together to produce one of the very best, if not THE best, releases you will bear witness to from the genre in 2022, and people shouldn’t dare pass on it if given the opportunity. It’s a satisfying listen through and through, and at its peak, as already touched upon, it’s a spectacular experience that won’t be forgotten any time soon.


SMS #59 | Tuff Bear – Tuff Bear’s Picnic


After an unassumingly jolly intro, the semi-titular Picnic swiftly gives way to a fancy, funky instrumental interlude, drenched in synths, led on by cool chords and peppered with bird chirps and la-la-la’s aplenty, but it’s with How It Feels where things properly get going astonishingly well, being a grooving lucid piece headed by Theo’s sublime harmonies while anchored by a great beat and bassline, and the late addition of trumpets are very much welcomed with open arms.

Talk To You is blissfully chilled out, and bb sway’s accompanying vocals are delightful beyond words, then Theo’s lyrical talents are brought out on full display in Not Very Well, as he convincingly articulates his inner anxieties of trying to confidently show his love without feeling like a fool. The World’s First Trillionaire is another that blooms with silky serene vibes, but the final track Wake Up flips the switch to present a deliciously feisty and infectious dance banger that leaves you in a reeling high.

The Bristol-inhabiting Somerset musician achieves an A grade with his prime debut EP, courtesy of consistently strong singing, appealing writing, an effective mixture of stylistic routes, and just a straight up marvellous production quality from bell to bell.