11 Under-The-Radar Recommendations @ Reading & Leeds 2019 | SMALL FEATURES

So for anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention, the prestigious Reading & Leeds 2019 is next weekend, playing host to a multitude of awesome bands and musicians.

But with all the big names plastered across the board, there lies underneath a vast array of smaller but just as equally capable acts spanning the line-up who deserve more attention.

So if you’re willing to take a chance and have that itch to discover something new, then here’s our top choices…


 

 

 

 

 

 

MILK TEETH

(The Main Stage: Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday)

Admittedly, it’s a little weird kicking off this list with a band who are gracing the main stage, but this is a line-up of acts we feel deserve more attention, and Milk Teeth definitely fall under that category.

The Stroud punk rock trio have such a diverse arsenal, with material ranging from the lighter and melodic Owning Your Okayness, to the heavy-hitting and poignant Fight Skirt, or falling somewhere inbetween with the likes of Stain.

Whatever the style, you’re treated to some banging tracks that are characterised by banging riffs, gritty bass tones, stinging drum currents, and a supreme vocal combo.

If you fancy yourself a dedicated Roadrunner connoisseur, why not put Slipknot, Korn and those other big names aside for a moment and treat yourself to a humbler act who are just as worthy of being on the star-studded roster.

And if you’re dead set on making your way to Reading & Leeds, it’ll be worth being down the front bright and early.


 

 

 

THE FAIM

(Radio 1 Stage: Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday)

The Australian quartet have been making major waves over the last year or so, namely with the release of their Summer Is A Curse EP, and they are riding on a hot momentum in the run-up to their forthcoming debut album.

The aforementioned EP is the perfect showcase of what they have to offer – high-octane alternative pop bangers that are catchy, rich in their sound and oozing with an unrivaled passion from each of the members, particularly frontman Josh, who gives it bare minimum 110% in whatever he does.

It’s surely only a matter of time before these four start to become regular faces in the charts, so best get down to see what all the hype is about.


 

 

 

 

 

THE LAFONTAINES

(BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage: Reading Friday/Leeds Saturday)

The greatest gift that Motherwell has ever delivered to the world?

Maybe, but what is certain is that rap-rockers The Lafontaines are a hot commodity that truly stand on their own, head and shoulders above the rest, firmly established as one of Scotland’s quintessential acts, and yet we are amazed that they’ve still to truly make that breakthrough, even if they did climb into the Top 40 earlier this year.

They’ve got a trio of staggering albums to their name, donning an extensive collection of content that is utterly wild and thrilling, guaranteed to get the blood pumping with massive thumping rhythms, from there continually holding your attention with a mixture of Kerr’s phenomenal work on the mic and fiercely sharp-witted writing that connects on another level.


 

DREAM STATE

(The Pit: Reading Friday/Leeds Saturday)

The Welsh music scene is undeniably abundant with cracking musical talent, including the likes of Junior, Holding Absence and the act in question here – Dream State.

Back when they were just getting started, we already saw a tonne of potential lying underneath, and they’ve only went above and beyond what we expected from them, rightfully developing a reputation as a major force to be reckoned with at the top of the nation’s underground metal picture.

Be it in their music or on stage, they never fail to bring forth this unbridled raw passion that results in these exceptional blinders that are not only damn heavy and exhilarating, but defined by these emotionally ripe, heart-tugging lyrics that effectively leave a lasting impact.

They have earned their spot, and if they continue going strength to strength the way they have been doing so, then the heights that these talented folk are going to reach will be ridiculously insane.


 

 

 

 

HOT MILK

(The Pit: Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday)

We can’t remember the last time an underground band emphatically burst onto the rock scene and rose up the ranks as swiftly as Hot Milk, but it’s well earned.

The self-proclaimed “emo powerpop” outfit are a tour de force, so far delivering a flawless streak of superb numbers, and given the talent on hand, that should come as little surprise.

Jim and Hann are not only fine guitarists but an astounding vocal pairing who match up as perfectly as you could get, and the team of Tom and Harry on the bass and kit respectively are a sturdy team that add an extra kick to already packed tunes.

They are going to be huge, they just are, it’s practically inevitable.


 

 

THE SNUTS

(Festival Republic Stage: Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday)

Back in 2017, we had the privilege of getting to review the Whitburn boys’ debut EP – The Matador – and being happy with the results, while also stating them to be “an act brimming with a lot of potential and are sure destined for greater things sooner than later”.

Well, it’s nice to see that the talented bunch have actually been given their due, garnering more attention as the months roll on.

It’s safe to say that they have developed into one of Scotland’s chief indie rock acts, and if you’ve been unfortunate to have not been exposed to their range of infectiously engaging numbers, then get yourself acquainted ASAP.


VISTAS

(Festival Republic Stage: Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday)

And yet another top-notch young act flying the Saltire at the festival.

Similarly to The Snuts, the Edinburgh natives have been turning heads over the last year and quickly forming a wide fanbase, and also like The Snuts, their music has been good from day one and only gotten sweeter.

The trio consistently spoil us with brilliant, bouncing tunes loaded to the lid with stimulating choruses, zealous vocal performances and dazzling guitars. What’s not to like?


KID KAPICHI

(BBC Introducing Stage: Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday)

Perhaps our favourite discovery to ever emerge from Hastings, the lads reeled us in early last year and impressed us and many others with a superb EP, being quick to top themselves with an even better sequel just recently.

Their backlog is choc-a-bloc with hard-edged rock tracks that are blunt and rugged, dripping in these stern punk overtones, and that subtle harshness has them standing out from the rest of the pack in our estimations.


MANTRA

(Radio 1 Stage: Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday)

We’ve been closely following the London three-piece as far back as the Lyger days. We’ve known from the start that they were talented, and we are so happy that more and more are also beginning to realise that fact.

Nothing but tasty rock belters with great writing and addictively gritty rhythms from these guys, and they are only improving with each passing year. Hopefully they’ll be at a status beyond “under the radar” sooner than later.


LION

(BBC Introducing Stage: Reading Saturday/Leeds Sunday)

Beth Lowen waltzed into the picture last year and had a throng of ears pointed in her direction when she made a sheer mark with her smashing self-titled debut EP, which she has followed up on nicely with a pair of even better singles.

Personifying her is a palpable charisma and a marvelously gruff, magnetic voice which she uses as an effective tool to draw listeners into her compelling, impeccably written songs.

She may be small now, but she definitely holds all the essential qualities to rise above and carve bigger successes in the near future. Only time will tell.


ISHANI

(BBC Introducing Stage: Reading Saturday/Leeds Sunday)

There are few artists in the country, big or small, who have made a connection with us in the way Ishani has since she came to our attention in 2018.

She stands apart from others with her dazzling class of electropop which is attractive, yet haunting. Elevating this aspect is her magically enchanting vocal ability and seriously mature writing skills that just captivates like nothing else.

You couldn’t have asked for a better choice to represent not only women at a major festival, but also the Asian music community, which we wouldn’t mind seeing given more exposure if it means being more talent like Ishani being exhibited to us, and the general public as a whole, for that matter.

Nothing Dramatic | SMALL RECORD REVIEWS: ISSUE #1

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TIRADE – Nothing Dramatic

***AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 30TH AUGUST***

It was back in 2016 that we became enamoured with Manchester rock quartet Tirade after they launched their self-titled debut and impressed us with a mixture of their talents and Press To Meco-inspired antics.

We finally got the opportunity to see them live at The Hug And Pint recently, where they only went up in our estimations, and if that wasn’t dandy enough, we’ve now been given the chance to experience their long-awaited follow-up EP – Nothing Dramatic – and the results are pretty smashing, to say the least.

The boys burst the door down firing on all cylinders as they kick off with the thrilling, turbulent title number, and things remain as such in No Time, where the lyrics begin to make their presence felt and quickly leave an imprint, being carried through Jake’s strong lead vocals and the top notch backing harmonies which blend up damn near perfectly.

These qualities ring even more true in what is hands down the stand out track of the record, the catchy To Be Honest, while the sweet riffs go in a rawer direction in Burned Out and pack an extra thump to them as a result, and they continue down that path as they charge through the heavy, storming finale, Well Spent, personified by a sturdy rhythm and a pseudo-breakdown of sorts in the middle.

There’s very little in the way of wasted measure here; as soon as one song ends and the listener is at a buzzing high, they swoop in to take advantage and hook their attention onto the next equally engaging banger. The sound also evolves as it goes along, making it feel like a complete experience with a natural progression, and not just a case of five pieces being unevenly spliced together.

We are beyond happy that Tirade have turned in a superb second effort, and in terms of excitement, these four have clearly established themselves as a group trusted to deliver it at a significant standard, and we can only hope this translates into a well-deserved rise towards greater heights.

*IN ASSOCIATION WITH SAN PR*


TheV

THE VANITIESWell It’s Not My Fault If You Think I’m Uncultured

***OUT NOW!***

Modern punk is taking over Scotland right now, and with a plethora of outstanding groups like Baby Strange, Rascalton and The Dunts floating around, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Recently, we discovered another cracking act to add to the pile: The Vanities, and the Glasgow four-piece last month put out what is honestly a serious candidate for our Scottish EP of 2019 – Well It’s Not My Fault If You Think I’m Uncultured.

Within seconds, they have us instantly hooked and already buzzing as they go charging at a blazing tempo through 38’s, piercingly belting out the vocals along the way, and they keep that high velocity energy pumping along moving into Gang Culture, now taking the time to display some superbly snappy writing while treating us to a doozy of a catchy chorus.

The pace is booted up even further for the short yet immensely dynamic Scumbug, loaded with great riffs, an off the chart drum beat and even some tidy harmonicas as a cheeky bonus. They choose to calm things down a wee bit for the last of the lot, Smash N Grab, again displaying their lyrical knacks, but being The Vanities, it doesn’t take long for them to rise up again to provide a bouncing climax.

The foot is never off the pedal in this gloriously raw and mental ride which has quickly validated the four as a quintessential act within the local scene, and one that could potentially could go very far, if given the chance.


miynt

MIYNTStay On Your Mind

 ***OUT NOW!***

Without a doubt, one of our favourite discoveries to emerge from mainland Europe this year has to be MIYNT from Stockholm, who has been making considerable waves as of late, all in the lead up to the release of her brand new EP – Stay On Your Mind.

After The Rebel serves as an enticing harp-led intro, ICloud proves to be a perfect introductory course for newcomers, being a dazzling lo-fi piece featuring these pure, sublime harmonies, warm bass tones and a memorable chorus.

From there, we are treated to a line of other engaging songs such as the exuberantly easy-going Peaches, the equally catchy and spine-tingling Lucy In Disguise, and the definitive highlight, The Idiot; the main factor in that being a serene, utterly addictive hook, made all the better by, again, the amazing vocals.

Delivering one last dose of divinity with the closing title track, this is easily one of the most transcendent alternative pop records to crop up in recent memory, owed to material that is soaked in a gorgeous ambience, further driven by the artist’s fine performances and lyrical work.

*IN ASSOCIATION WITH DRILL DOWN MEDIA*


Stdukes

ST DUKESStranger By The Day

***OUT NOW!***

In 2014, Glasgow ensemble St Dukes burst onto the scene and were quick to make a big impression, truly cementing her arrival a few years later with the release of their debut EP. Things had been quiet in the camp over the last number of months, but they’ve emerged from the studio with another record at last – Stranger By The Day.

Alibi starts off easy-going with a light, at times almost folk rock tone, where the guitars are quite nice, and they keep that cool tepid pace flowing, before suddenly switching gears for a heavier, passion-loaded finish.

Now that a groove has been established, they remain in that excitable mood with the highlight of the trio, Hug N Pint, which is catchy, has a chipper energetic melody and good writing to boot. They freshen things up a little for the last of the bunch, They Said, letting Sarah take lead on the mic with her charming vocals for what is another solid, smooth track.

Being a long-awaited follow-up, we expected the quartet to improve things, and they have done exactly that here. At the risk of coming off as greedy, we would have wished for something a little longer, but as is, it’s a short but satisfying, top-notch bundle that tides us over regardless.


Highway491

HIGHWAY 491These Places, In This City

***OUT NOW!***

Breaking out from the sea of multiple blues rock groups that span Scotland are the Glasgow quartet Highway 491, who caught our attention with their debut album – These Places, In This City.

This is chocked to the brim with a series of neat numbers, the majority of which are defined by some deliciously cool rhythms assembled from good basslines and nice drumming, radically satisfying guitar licks and great vocals.

Admittedly, a chunk of the tunes do fall towards the generic side, not bringing much in the way of anything new, but the guys more than than make up for that with a selection of cracking highlights that are spread throughout.

The Record and Crime & Punishment shine with memorable choruses, the pairing of Boom Boom and Smokestack Lightnin’ are pure catchy and elevated by some top notch harmonica work, and the 7-minute 3rd Time Lucky is a delightful belter with an old school feel that evolves over the longer duration.

So despite the more standard additions, there’s nothing that springs to mind that comes close to unlikable, with plenty of quality material on offer here to earn a recommendation from us, and long-time fans of the genre are sure as hell going to get a kick out of this compilation anyway, regardless of what we say.

Jessica Lynn – The Ice Box (11.8.19) | SMALL GIG TRIPS

jessica


Before Jessica Lynn would grace us with her presence, we would be treated to a pair of familiar local supports, the first of whom was 17 year old Jordan Stewart.

While she was openly nervous when chatting to the folk, obvious from her fast speech and tripping over words, fortunately that shakiness went right out the window whenever she performed, and she did so well. Even when she slipped and forgot a line, she played it cool and recovered with no bother at all.

Most of her material was simple musically, but it was boosted by a real sense of maturity and honesty writing-wise. X Ray Vision was a big highlight for us, Sisters carried a resonant theme, and other slower pieces such as Lead Me Back To You were actually quite magnetic.

We were hooked, and clearly the rest of the audience were too. Despite most being total strangers, they were respectful and gave Jordan their utmost attention. Overall, she pulled through and personally impressed us, getting the show off to a positive start in the process.


Up second was our old friend Colin Bell, aka Fallen Arches, who offered something different to Jordan, with most of his tunes being full of life and driven by these engaging acoustic melodies. He was fiercely passionate in his performing, with his singing loud and heartfelt, and his frenzied strumming a pure blur.

His music featured a range of lyrical content, spanning enduring a loved ones’ major health incident, getting his head kicked in and, in his words, humping…obviously that’s Colin putting it bluntly, they were usually a lot more emotional when how they were described.

Okay granted, there was the upfront D***head, where the crowd were invited to chime in, and they did exactly that, which involved us blindly swearing as none other than Jessica Lynn was stood right beside us…talk about a Glaswegian welcome.

On that note, the people were having a blast, listening intently while he played, sharing a cheery laugh over his dark, often morbid quips, and even clapping along to Footprints.

It was, in many respects, a beautiful train wreck, but in all seriousness, he did a banging job, entertaining those in attendance while turning up the dial within the room and igniting a newfound buzz as soon as he was done and over with.


And now for the hotly anticipated main event – Jessica Lynn, of course.

From the get-go, she was super appreciative of the support, and it didn’t take long whatsoever for her to get a party going, as she and the crew fired through one delightful song after another, with very little room to catch our breath, instead opting to keep that excitement roaring at a constant high.

We can’t recall the last time that we’ve witnessed a musician bring such a charming, infectious enthusiasm anywhere close to the standard Jessica had throughout essentially the entire set. She was all smiles and put bucketloads of legitimate effort into everything she did, especially in the singing, and because of that, the audience would linger onto every word, and in turn admire the lyrics.

The rest of her entourage were excellent as well; whether it’d be the suave Steven, Momma Victoria & Poppa Peter, the sharply dressed Brian or the immortal legend Grandpa Bob; and they served to elevate the tracks to a higher degree. Their chemistry was clearly tight-knit, but being a family affair, that comes as expected.

She was an energised ball of fire and regularly egging the attendees on, encouraging them to get involved as much as possible, and that was accomplished with ease. In fact, proceeding towards the end, the volume of those on their feet and dancing just grew and grew. It was simply a blast to watch, and the atmosphere in the venue was purely electric, only being amped up with each track that was dished out.

It was a totally tremendous performance that brought an arena sized spectacle to an intimate setting and firmly validated that Jessica has earned every single ounce of success attained over in America. It’s no wonder she has become a rising sensation, and her music deserves to be taken to a global level.

But it goes beyond the music. Sharing a conversation with Jessica, we found her to be one of the most down-to-earth human beings that we’ve ever met, and as a matter of fact, that sentiment can be said about the whole group.

Working for nearly a decade around the underground music scene, there are undoubtedly a lot of lovely folk, but we have dealt with handfuls of bad seeds with less than pleasant attitudes who endlessly ride on their egos, so when a superstar like Jessica, with the major status that she holds, came forth and proved herself an absolute humble soul, that honestly made our heart soar, and we left very happy with a lot more faith in what we were fighting for.

The moral of the story: we all need more Jessica Lynn’s in our lives.

(Also, Jason is the cutest wee person according to Victoria, and he will proudly wear that badge with honour for as long as he lives.)

Saint Luke’s All Dayer 2019 | SMALL GIG TRIPS

STLUKES1


Kicking off the epic 7 hour marathon was the man known as Matt Scott, one of the few on the bill totally new to us…well, barring an appearance as part of Anna Sweeney’s outfit at King Tuts the week before.

He started out decent, not immediately grabbing us, but after a few of his solid consistently upbeat rock tunes feature good vocals, great stuff from his accompanying entourage, and a few tasty solos thrown into the mix, he swiftly improved in our eyes and had us firmly hooked until the end.

A satisfying way to start off the day, suitably warming us up and getting us buzzing for the journey ahead.


Next up was John Rush, a bloke who initially came into our radar through a certain David Blair, and he promised to “depress the f***” out of us.

While we can’t go that far, he did have our undivided attention with his range of tunes, primarily off his Beneath The Apple Tree album which we listened to earlier this year.

The lyrics were strong and emphasised by John’s emotional harmonies; the highlight of the set being Sister, where he just exploded with this riled passion. Add to that some excellent harmonicas and acoustics, not to mention a pleasant sing along with the crowd, and you have yourself a heck of a talented singer-songwriter who is as legitimate as they come.

And remember: the jacket never comes off.


Our pals at Discovery Music had touted relative newcomers Spyres as a must see act, and we could totally see why.

We got a Van T’s vibe off them, obviously a big positive in our books, and the four ignited this fiery energy within the Winged Ox and reeled in both those already present and anyone else who happened to be passing by.

The dual riffs were great, the rhythm section were driving with plenty of force, and the singing was hearty as all hell, and they kept the pace running strong throughout, with us thoroughly engaged all the way.

Radiating with an edge and a tonne of confidence, its been a while since we were so blown away by a new find, but Spyres pulled it off. Bloody impressive stuff, and we implore everybody to get them checked out pronto, because we can potentially see them rising to the top dead quick.


Fresh and high off that buzz, now it was time for one of our most anticipated picks of the day, the almighty Franky’s Evil Party, who we have been championing ever since they blew our minds at Tuts back in January, and on this day, it was that plus twofold.

The shredding and the synths were relentless, there was an awe-inspiring shift on the bass and drums, and we got wild, barbaric howling from Josh as always; a formidable frontman always seemingly toeing that line of complete lunacy when on stage.

Their sound was huge and the presence immense, blowing us away with one unadulterated banger after another, including Big Push, and the no holds barred Paradise which capped off with an epic berserk meltdown.

Despite having to call it quits early, this was nevertheless an utter unreal performance that was brain meddling and breathtaking, a 2 for 1 deal that reminded us that Franky’s Evil Party are in fact f***ing awesome and one of the best live acts on the go in Scotland right now.


So after barely getting any sort of breather following that carnage, we squeezed back into the Winged Ox for Lizzie Reid, who we had seen previously as part of Crystal, as well as Russell Stewart’s mob, but never for her solo stuff.

She treated us to a nice set of alternative pop songs often running off pleasantly smooth melodies, and they were quite mesmerising when at their best, although we also got a couple of higher energy pieces that were awfully catchy. Lizzie’s vocals were wonderful, plus she was a good guitarist and had an equally capable group by her side.

It was more simple and straightforward compared to the last few on the bill, but nonetheless worth being present for.


Now for one of our favourite women on the entire planet – the newly blessed Scarlett Randle – who has rightfully been gaining more attention by the day, and as is her wont, she opened up with ABBA and got entering crowd members joining in to Dancing Queen.

There are few artists in the Scottish scene who have the confidence that she bolsters, with her flaunting a glamorous charisma that is charming, carrying right through into her jazzy get-up, which was soon halved for the final song.

But when push comes to shove, Scarlett is more than just a colourful character with a likable sense of humour, she’s a genuinely excellent singer and songwriter, as demonstrated through the lyrical content and beautiful harmonies in the likes of oldie Berlin and the spellbinding Her, but that’s not to take away from the other infectiously bubbly numbers such as Falling and the currently untitled piece.

A simply fabulous set as usual from an artist destined for bigger things in the not too distant future.


We had never heard of the band WEB prior to them being announced for the bill, but that didn’t matter too much, as they had us cinched within the first minute.

The trio sounded tight, visibly invigorating a multitude of others within the rammed room as they dished out strong riffs, basslines and thumping drum streams in equal measure.

This World Can’t Hurt You and Sandstorm were particular stand outs, and the energy only elevated as they progressed to a wild finish. A cracking display that was, all in all.


A handful of people instantly flooded back next door to see Luna The Professor get started, and after being taken aback by them at King Tuts at the top of the year, we were looking forward to them too.

The guys as expected belted out a range of banging indie rock anthems, putting a lot of effort into their playing, whether it’d be great skills on the guitar, the dynamic rhythms or the smashing lively vocals, and as more entered, they too stood to attention and enjoyed what was on offer.

They always prove to have a solid presence, and that was more abundantly clear given the size of the stage that they were gracing. While not quite the stormer like the one we were in attendance for last time, it was still another successful effort in the books for the young Wishaw quartet.


We had heard only snippets of Voodoos in the past, but we knew we’d be in for something sweet, especially if their SAMA nomination last year was anything to go by.

Truthfully speaking, we don’t need to say much, the audience reaction spoke for itself. By miles, the hottest the heaving crowd had been so far, as we found ourselves in the midst of mental folk bouncing, moshing, yelling, clapping and drunkenly waltzing about.

It was a positively electric atmosphere that enveloped the totsy room, all of which was truly earned, as the four delivered snappy punk tracks that left very little space for dull moments. Easily one of the more impressive bands of the day so far.


It had been 2 and a half years since we were last within the presence of the beautiful Edinburgh lads Indigo Velvet, so we were eager to finally catch them in action again, and the results were pleasing.

They seduced us and the rest of the keen folk around the vicinity with their delightful brand of tropical pop, which has clearly only better developed over time, plus there was a continuous variety throughout, one minute being sleek and melodic as anybody would predict, but in some spots they could take it in a rockier direction and it proves to be just as effective, even a little more exciting.

Bringing their wondrously addictive songs to life were polished performances from all five guys across the board, and with very little in the way of flaws or mistakes, it was among the best executed sets we had seen over the course of the day.

A key moment was when they got everybody chiming along and boogieing to the awesome Sunrise, and making their exit to a rip roaring ovation, they served as one of the event’s most noteworthy highlights.


While taking a quick break to rest our aching feet, we could hear SNASH blaring from the next room, accompanied by impassioned cheers. As we eventually came through, it was obvious that the lads were picking up the pretty mess left by Voodoos earlier on and cranking it up to another level.

The pits were twice as big and bloody non-stop, and surfing went down as the four on stage inspired the havoc and bloodshed unfolding with their fast and furious bangers that were bitterly hard-hitting, and at the centre of it all was the ring-leading frontman with his angst infused yells that circulated while the rest of the group followed behind him in stomping fashion.

An absolutely joyful spectacle, that was, and thoughts and prayers for the staff and security on hand.


We put our hands up and admit to having never listened to underground heroes Strange Bones at all before, but whenever in discussion, they were always built up as ones to watch. As soon as Bobby launched himself off the top of the barrier onto the heads of the crowd within the opening seconds, we immediately regretted not ever doing so.

In the space of half an hour, he trotted around essentially the entirety of the venue, on and off stage, like a bloodthirsty psychopath with the mic in tow, scrunching his neck with the wire as he went, bursting out with insane lyrics in the middle of a hurricane of frenzied, loose-screwed people who joined in the ongoing massacre screaming and bounding around like their lives hinged on it. The tunes were immense and everybody responded in kind.

It’s tough to describe everything that went down in words, but what we can say is that we had just bore witness to a f***ing biblical event. How are Strange Bones not huge already? That had to have been one of the most monumentally deranged sets that we’ve ever experienced.


Right then, so Parliamo somehow had to follow THAT. After getting a brief spell to sober up, we headed on through, and luckily those early worries were out the window quick.

Their tunes were tightly produced and managed to keep the knackered attendees going with a vividly engaging sense of energy, rapid tempos and catchy choruses. Jack had a damn good voice and was off the wall, constantly being possessed by the spirit of Ian Curtis, the riffs were nice and flashy, and the rhythm pairing had a lot of juice in the tank.

But it wasn’t just purely about sending the place wild, as they had some slower stuff in their arsenal inspired by living in a ‘wee sh***y town” that had more mature lyrics featured. Trust us when we say that we adored spectating the chaos earlier, but this was a much needed breath of fresh air that helped separate Parliamo from the rest of the star studded pack, thus making them a worthy option to bring the Winged Ox stage to a close.


13 diverse acts scratched, only 1 remained: the almighty Tijuana Bibles, who we had been big fans of for ages, but kept missing out on the opportunity to see in the flesh.

Underneath a shower of strobes, leading man Tony established himself with an authority through his assertive singing, yelling and occasional wailing, while throwing in an oddball essence here and there that made him all the more captivating to watch.

Elsewhere, the guitar performances were quality, the drumming slick and the bass tones just plain supreme, not to mention that their chemistry was clear and the energy levels consistently up to the brim, with their general sound packing a weight that validated their position headlining a sizeable venue like this.

The guys spoiled us with an array of new stuff; all of which was class and ranks as some of their heaviest material to date, which has got us extra buzzing for their forthcoming album; before sending the audience home happy with the phenomenal Pariah.

Despite the insanely good bands that preceded them, Tijuana Bibles were still able to up their games and pull through with an outstanding set which perfectly culminated one hell of a staggering daylong ride.

Chrissy Barnacle & Jared Celosse – The Old Hairdressers (9.8.19) | SMALL GIG TRIPS

ChrissyJared


The first half of the night was helmed by Jared Celosse, who had completely flown under our radar until we were given the lucky opportunity to experience his portion of the Archipelago EP prior to release.

The fella of course treated us to a selection of tracks from the aforementioned record, including Wave, New Orleans and the goosebump-inducing Crashing Down, as well as additional older and newer pieces.

He had a magnetic quality, fixating the silently frozen crowd with his fantastic fresh voice and stellar work on the keyboard, and you know what? That was enough for us.

Don’t get us wrong, we adore the strings and the synths that give his songs a grandiose size, but those two traits of his alone had us all captivated and totally drawn in, even without the extra bells and whistles.

There are few artists that we know of that can capture that kind of magic in a stripped capacity – such examples being Carla Easton, Rosie Bans and Josephine Sillars; all incredible pianists in their own rights, incidentally – and Jared is one of them. What a privilege to be in attendance for a set of that calibre.


And now for the second half featuring Glaswegian mainstay Chrissy Barnacle, who we were super excited to finally see live again, especially after falling in love with her side of the EP.

For starters, her vocals were supremely good, not only covering a broad pitch range, but also flawlessly conveying the right emotions where appropriate to such a sharp degree. Complimenting that fact was her fiercely vivid spectrum of facial expressions, and wow, we’ve never seen a musician so focused and committed into a zone, as she was totally enveloped within every single solitary action, word, movement…just plain everything.

The songs, whether it’d be Witches, Cannibal Rats or Guard Dog, were magical and unpredictable in tone, more specifically in the writing department, spanning the gamut of being sad, interesting, bizarre, snappy, darkly comical; a little bit of all you could imagine, really; and completing the package was some outstanding skills on the acoustic guitar.

We were thoroughly mesmirised, sat still in awe from beginning to end, as were the rest of the suckered in audience. Chrissy is a unique enigma, a definitively one of a kind artist on another level that nobody else in the Scottish scene seems to match up to, and considering the hefty standard of the country’s talent, that’s one hell of an achievement.

It is a real shame that she has not already been recognised as such on a wider public scale by this point. Perhaps too radically different for the mainstream, but what’s wrong with having a square peg in a round hole now and again?

Carly Connor – The Goldie Hawn Stole My Guitar | SMALL RECORD REVIEWS

Carly


In late 2017, we had the opportunity to witness Easterhouse lass Carly Connor live in person at King Tuts. Name aside, we hadn’t been too familiar with what she had to offer, but on that night, she effortlessly made a mark and has kept us fans ever since.

Fast forward a couple of years, following a line of unsurprising further successes, she is back in full form with her highly anticipated new EP – The Goldie Hawn Stole My Guitar.

Within seconds of the cool title track kicking things off, we are immediately reminded as to what had initially drawn us to Carly, as she shines with an impeccably dazzling voice that is equally sweet as it is raspy, with a tone that is ravishing, yet also featuring a sharp sense of attitude that has you hooked.

Carabelle is where things really pick up, being an exciting, energetic doozy of a number; so big in size, featuring an immensely catchy beat and the vocals reaching an outstanding peak.

Semolina And Cyanide is a little more simple, toning it down from the previous tracks, but still pleases with awfully fine acoustics and gripping lyrics, and that also rings true for the heart-warming closing piece Greenock Hotel, which is ripe with waves of emotion.

With more or less all aspects delivering at a good standard bare minimum, plus plenty of distinction between each of the songs, this is an enchanting record that nicely mixes the sounds of country, pop and soul and leaves an impression in the short duration that it lasts, also making for a perfect introductory package to those out of the loop of her talents.

Carly Connor has a definitive star quality to her; a real-life Wild Rose as it were…well, minus the criminal conviction, obviously. Although she’s been on the go for several years, we still feel she has only scratched the surface for what she is truly capable of, and the next logical step would be for her to treat us to a full-length album, but we’ll wait and see.

***OUT NOW***

Oskar Braves – Dance On The Fire | SMALL SINGLE SPOTLIGHT

There are few Fife acts that have caught our attentio as much in the last couple of years as alternative rock outfit Oskar Braves, and if their latest single Dance On The Fire doesn’t convince you, then we can’t think what else possibly could.

The group’s finest track to date – perhaps one of the best Scottish songs of the year – clearly implements their new wave influences into the sound and is defined by a tremendous, out-of-this-world energy that is both thrilling and infectious, particularly with that cracking chorus.

It has a sweet beat to it, and the lyrics based around the idea of not conforming to what the crowd are following and doing your own thing make a positive impact, and it helps a tonne that they are brought to life via a fervent vocal performance.