Monday, 31 October 2016

Feature: Jake McMullen (31/10/16)



Jake McMullen is a Nashville-based songwriter, originally from Los Angeles, he relocated to Nashville to pursue his passion for songwriting as a solo artist. At only 23 years old, he’s already established himself as an accomplished songwriter, now following up his critically acclaimed EP ‘Always’, with a new release. The first single from the new EP was a cover of Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’, and now he’s released the next single ‘Giving Up’.

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
I was around 10 when I saw a friend of mine play a show in Orange County where I grew up and thought it was the coolest thing ever.  After seeing that I asked my parents for a guitar.  Been playing music ever since.

I’ve been in and out of bands and projects over the years but its probably been about 2 years now of pursuing my own thing.

2. What is the most inspiring musical performance you’ve ever seen?
At the moment I can really only recall how I recently saw Kanye perform and that was on another level. The production was so minimal but so captivating.  It was a very intentional show.  And I admire that deeply. I could go on forever about the metaphors and the meaning for me behind this whole tour he’s been on.  All that to say, it was super inspiring.

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
James Blake, Bonnie Raitt, Miles Davis and Vince Staples

3 Qs for Jake:

1. Which three countries would you most like to tour and why?
This is a tough question for me because I feel like I really would be fine playing in any country that presented the opportunity for me to play.  But if I had to pick I’d probably say: 

1. U.S. - I’ve done west coast tours and cities throughout the U.S. on small runs. But would love to be able to do a full U.S. tour soon.
2. U.K. - I’ve heard really really good things about the U.K. and admire a lot of the art that has come out of there.  Really would love to be able to head out there at some point.
3. Australia - I spent some time in Australia/New Zealand between my move from LA to Nashville.  It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been.  Was also a super introspective time and had a lot of self-realizations while out there.  So to be able to be out there again playing music would be a dream.

2. Who influences you musically and what inspires you lyrically?
Musically I don’t think it really is a who for me.  It’s just the way I hear things and what is pleasing to my ear that influences me musically. I definitely am inspired by what I listen to which I think is only natural.  But that varies on a daily basis so for me it really just comes down to expressing the right feeling through the right sound for me. Having an idea and trying to find the right way to dress it up and present it in a way that feels right to me.

Lyrically, its mostly personal experiences. Whether that be things I am feeling, or a conversation I had with someone or whatever.  I think most if not all of my lyrics have spurred from something personal.  Its important to me to be able to play songs I have written and be able to latch on to what I am saying and live in those words.  I can tell when its forced or contrived.  And if I feel that way I know others will as well. I want to believe what I am saying.

3. What process did you go through creating ‘Giving Up’ and how much did it differ from the other tracks on your forthcoming EP?
Giving Up has served as the catalyst for everything I have been making nowadays.  I was just sitting at the piano one day and my hands played those chords.  From there I knew somewhat where to take it. I remember showing it to the producer I work with, Micah Tawlks, and feeling nervous because it was this territory I had yet to explore or not really allow myself to wander into.  But he was super responsive and encouraging of it.  I had written two songs prior to “Giving Up” that we ended up scrapping because I had put them in this weird position of trying to move forward sonically but retaining a lot of the singer-songwriter or whatever “genre” you want to call it sensibilities. And I think because of that the songs suffered.  Not that I’m not proud of the songs or anything.  I just think those songs weren’t necessarily right for what was going to be next.  But I do think they led me to finding “Giving Up” the music I am now and realizing there is no box or set of rules to stay inside when making music or art for that matter.


Random Q:

1. What is one thing you wish you’d never given up and one thing you wish you could give up?
For a long time in my life, I was juggling both baseball and music.  I just couldn't keep up with both because of the time they each take.  Clearly I chose what I truly passionate about, but I wish there was a way to still be playing baseball on a regular basis.  

As for the thing I would give up, while I realize the necessity of social media and the benefit it plays with getting my music out there, I do wish I could give it up, even temporarily.  I find times when I just want to rid myself of the noise and distraction that it adds to life. 

'Giving Up' Review:
'Giving Up' is a powerful track with droning bass, keys, a steady and solid beat throughout, with the addition of seemingly simplistic guitar. Layering up to create a stunning soundscape, reminding the listener of the latest Bon Iver release but being just far enough that it proves Jake to be a talented musician in his own right. Jake's vocals are warm and unique and bring the honest lyrics to life, showing a true vulnerability via his music. From listening to his 'Dancing On My Own' cover and now this original track, I'm excited for this forthcoming release... 


Jake's Links:

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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Spotlight: Amy Lee (29/10/16)



Amy Lee, well known for being the Grammy award-winning co-founder and lead vocalist of Evanescence, has released a new Amazon Music Originals family album, ‘Dream Too Much’. Inspired by Lee’s song and her own musical upbringing, the album features guest appearances by several family members, including backing vocals by her siblings, and instrumentals by both her father and uncle.

'Dream Too Much' Album Review:
It's fair to say this is a little different to our usual reviews, however, if you have kids (or even if you don't) this album is definitely worth a listen. 'Dream Too Much' is an upbeat poppy track, with a positive message sung throughout and an imaginative accompanying stop-animation music video. Amy Lee's vocals bring this wonderful world to life, and there's a mixture of great songs across this release, songs for those dreaded car journeys as well as lullabies for when you can't sleep. Whilst this is a family album and clearly aimed towards kids, there's many teens and 20+ people that have been sharing the same opinions that even they love this album and have been listening to it - I'm with them on that! 


Amy Lee's Links:
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Friday, 28 October 2016

Feature: Rosie Crow (28/10/16)


In her former life Rosie was the eponymous front woman and driving force of indie-art three piece, Rosie & The Goldbug. Defiantly basing the band firmly out of their native Cornwall, Rosie has collaborated and toured all over Europe and the US with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Brett Anderson, Carl Barat, Shakespeare's Sisters, and Pete Went of Fall Out Boy. Her forthcoming self-titled album was recorded in Cornwall, the first single 'Stop Believing' was released earlier this year and now she follows up with 'Don't Wait' and 'Charlotte's Song', a third single, is set to be released soon too... 

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
I started playing the piano when I was very young because my sister was such a good player and I wanted to copy her. I played piano and sang throughout my childhood and teenage years. It was a natural progression to want to continue into adulthood. 

2. What is the most inspiring musical performance you’ve ever seen?
 I saw Patti Smith at Brixton academy and it blew my mind. She was so intense. I was such a fan that I cried for most of the performance because I was so inspired. I was right at the front and she did keep looking at me - I think because I had tears rolling down my face!

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
Hopelessness by Anhoni. It's addictive. 

3 Qs for Rosie:

1. What has been the best and worst thing about going solo compared to working with your previous band ‘Rosie & The Goldbug’? 
The best thing is that I can work on my music at anytime. I don't have to wait to rehearse with the band to finalise how songs are going to go. The worst thing is, I can't hide behind a persona so I would feel more exposed if I got a bad review, or felt something negative.

2. You’ve previously toured all over Europe and the US with some big names, but where would you most like to perform and alongside whom?
I've always wanted to play main stage Glasto and appear on Jools Holland..... I wouldn't be fussy who else would be playing. It would be a life long achievement. 

3. Which track from your debut solo album are you most excited / apprehensive about people hearing and why?
I would have to be 'Charlotte's Song' because it's so personal about loosing my best friend last year. It's very sad but I think it’s also soothing, especially for anyone who has lost someone close. I'm pleased to have captured some of her essence in a song that will always be with me. 

Random Q:

1. Three songs everyone should listen to?
Beirut - The Rip Tide
John Grant - Black Belt
Anhoni - 4 degrees 

'Don't Wait' Review:
'Don't Wait' is a punchy pop track, with a dark undertone, it encapsulates Rosie's sound perfectly and introduces listeners to her unique approach to music, giving them a taster of what they're likely to hear on her forthcoming album. Memorable melodies, vocals gliding over layers of warm piano, growing with striking beats and added synths throughout. It's a short and sweet song, forcing the listener to replay the song a few more times... 


Rosie's Links:
'Rosie Crow' Album (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/album/id1154842820

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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Rewind #11 (27/10/16)

Semantics EP - Semantics
Semantics are a post-punk indie rock band from Birmingham, and they've released their debut self titled EP, which the four-piece had recorded over the course of 2015. Bridie Green (guitar), Josh RB (bass), Rob Lilley (vocals/guitar) and Simon Lees (drums) formed back in August 2014 and have since been crafting and defining their own sound. The result is this fantastic release which will stick in the heads of anyone who listens to it!



Ultraviolet EP - Dagny

Since featuring Dagny and her debut single 'I Say' back in 2014, she has gone on to create huge waves in the music industry. Dagny's performed at some big festivals and venues around Europe and has now released her EP 'Ultraviolet', 'Backbeat' is the lead single and has gained support from all over the place. Get ready to get infectious melodies and upbeat tunes stuck in your head...



The Valley - Ardyn

We shone the spotlight on Ardyn earlier in the year, and were lucky enough to see them live at Barn on the Farm too. We loved their debut EP 'The Universe' and we're now loving their latest single 'The Valley'. It's a dark and haunting song with a steady beat that that grows into a positively wavering chorus. We're excited to hear even more from this talented duo in 2017...



Through Your Hands - The White Raven

The White Raven were easily one of our favourite bands of 2015, and that has continued into 2016... So when we found out they were releasing a debut album, we got really excited. 'Through Your Hands' is a fantastic release full of stunning soundscapes, wonderful vocals and just genuinely great music. I've always loved this band for their ability to write incredible lyrics and piece them together with complimenting melodies, beats and riffs. Personal favourites are 'Wake Wait', 'Summon' and of course 'Keep'... 



Let It Burn - Mavrick

After 2015's breakthrough single 'Remedy', the stage was set and now Mavrick releases his debut EP 'Atlantis'. Released on 7th October via Universal Music Sweden, it's already been playlisted on BBC Radio 6 in the UK. 'Let It Burn' is the lead single from the six track release and has already gained support from Noisey and Clash. This is a wonderful soul-filled electro pop sound and I'm loving it.



Get Recovered - April Towers

Electro pop duo, April Towers, recently released their new single 'Get Recovered'. A staple track in their live shows, it's 'about saying enough is enough. Time to sort this mess out.' They've just toured the UK, which included their biggest headline show to date at Koko. Their sound has evolved since we featured them, so be sure to give this one a listen! 



China Doll - Mark Elliott

Mark Elliott is quickly becoming the master of charming, effortless electro-pop. Since his debut single 'Dead End Love Affair', he's snowballed and started making real waves in the world of music. His fresh take on nu-soul shows the skill and musicality Mark holds. 'China Doll' is yet another fantastic track, it's a slow jam that will have everyone grooving in one way or another. 



'Should I?' - Henry Bateman

Last summer we reviewed Henry's debut album 'Take A Form', now he's releasing his next single 'Should I?'. Much like his previous album, it's a beautiful acoustic song with warm vocals and stunning lyrics; however, I feel like this track surpasses all Henry's released before. It's a step in the right direction, with added layers creating an atmosphere that pulls the listener in. I'm excited to hear even more from Henry! 


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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Spotlight: Cage The Elephant (26/10/16)


American rock band, Cage The Elephant, returned last year with their fourth studio album 'Tell Me I'm Pretty'. More recently they've released their new single 'Trouble', performed at Reading and Leeds Festival this year, and played alongside Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Biffy Clyro as special guests. Now they've announced a major European tour, Matthew and Brad Shultz, Jared Champion and Daniel Tichenor are back!

'Trouble' Review:
Cage The Elephant returned with a bang last year with their album 'Tell Me I'm Pretty' and this year stepping up alongside Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Biffy Clyro at Reading and Leeds was quite some feat. I've always been a big fan of Cage The Elephant, but I think this release has been my favourite to date, it's got a bit of everything, whilst staying true to their trademark sound they've manage to evolve their sound even more than in previous years. 'Trouble' the latest single is no exception, a slower start, reminiscent of their earlier track 'Shake Me Down', which was proven to be a popular track amongst followers and non-followers - everyone's heard of it - and 'Trouble' holds the right potion to follow in it's footsteps. With steady beats and bass underlining steady intricate guitars and almost haunting layered vocals. Matthew's vocals highlight the stunning lyrics in this track, which Cage The Elephant have always been known for bringing to life with their alternative rock sound.
The rest of this release is also incredible, and if you like what you hear below, be sure to have a listen to the other tracks on the album, it feels more intimate than their previous albums and is a real headphones, shut the world out album, enjoy!


See Cage The Elephant Live (2017):
16th Jan: Academy, Dublin, Ireland
17th Jan: O2 ABC, Glasgow, UK
19th Jan: Albert Hall, Manchester, UK
20th Jan: O2 Academy Brixton, London, UK
23rd Jan: Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark
24th Jan: Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
27th Jan: Columbia Theatre, Berlin, Germany
29th Jan: Backstage Werk, Munich, Germany
30th Jan: Dynamo, Zurich, Switzerland
31st Jan: Fabrique, Milan, Italy
1st Feb: La Paloma, Nimes, France
3rd Feb: Le Transborder Festival, Lyon, France
4th Feb: Razz 2, Barcelona, Spain
5th Feb: La Riveria, Madrid, Spain
6th Feb: Hard Club, Porto, Portugal

Cage The Elephant's Links:

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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Feature: Red Moon Road (25/10/16)


Red Moon Road, formed in 2012 by Daniel Jordan (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Sheena Rattai (vocals, percussion, keys), and Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner (vocals, mandolin, banjo, guitar, keys). The Winnipeg folk trio began their path towards their latest album 'Sorrows and Glories' with a shattered leg, a cancelled tour and a long 2000km trip home. Now fully healed and returned from a year of extensive and adventure filled touring across seven countries in Europe and North America, they release their third album. We caught up with Daniel Jordan for a Q&A... 

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
Music has been apart of our lives for many years.  Both Daniel PH and Sheena took classical piano lessons as children, but differed greatly in experience after that.  Sheena grew up singing gospel music in the Church, and when she met Daniel J in university was studying opera at school, and singing R’n’B in underground clubs at night.  DPH meanwhile, was playing drums in a heavy metal French-Canadian prog-rock band with his brothers!  Meanwhile, I grew up on the music of the Beatles and Led Zepplin, but went to university to study jazz, which is where I met Sheena.  I guess we ended up playing folk because we tried everything else!

2. What is the most inspiring musical performance you’ve ever seen?
For me it would be any of the “Tragically Hip” (one of Canada’s most popular bands, but relatively unknown in the rest of the world) concerts.  Gord Downie is a captivating and utterly insane performer.  For DPH it was a tiny little French Canadian club back in Winnipeg (which is a hub of incredible musicians), and he recalls the solo of one Darren Savard (look him up, Canadian Country Music Award Guitar player of the year 4 years running), who is AMAZING, but in DPH’s words, “I watched him leap off the cliff of his abilities and soar to something transcendent, and no one but he and I, who made eye contact just after, even realized it.  It was a breakthrough.”  And, while this sounds incredibly local-centric, for Sheena it was the CD release show of also-hometown hero’s “The Bros. Landreth”’s Joey Landreth acoustic encore.  It was “so honest and broken and what I want to evoke on stage”.

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
Sheen: Plants and Animals and Lucius
DPH: Moulette (from Bristol) and Jason Isabelle
Daniel J: Punch Brothers and Royal Canoe

3 Qs for Red Moon Road:

1. You’re on a UK tour, but which country would you most like to tour and why?
Hmmm.  Well, we love England! But it would be pretty cool to get up to the Scandinavian countries or down to Austrailia.

2. Where do you usually look for songwriting inspiration and has this changed over the past four years since you formed? 
Lots of our writing is inspired by our family, our home and history, but we’ve travelled so extensively since forming, and heard so much incredible music, that our experiences have shaped all of our writing.

3. Which is your favourite track from your album ‘Sorrows and Glories’ and why does it stand out to you?
Thats like trying to pick a favourite child BUT, the opening track “Beauty in these Broken Bones” is a total outlier in that it’s a choir, acappella, and showcases Sheena at the height of her vocal ability, and that is saying something.  Check out the live video to see what we mean.

Random Q:

1. Band / artist you wish were still around?
DPH: Don MaClean
Sheen: Jeff Buckely or Prince
Daniel J: The Beatles or David Bowie

'Beauty In These Broken Bones' Review:
'Beauty In These Broken Bones' is an incredibly powerful song, Sheena's soulful vocals carry the melody backed by both the Daniel's deep and atmospheric vocals. Layered up with claps and stomps this becomes a pretty awe-inspiring performance, there's so much meaning and emotion flooding the lyrics and this brought to life perfectly by Red Moon Road. With this song in mind, add in stunning guitar and strings, the wonderful sounds of banjo and mandolin and percussion and piano thrown in for good measure, this album is a soul filled folk release that's bound to capture anyone's attention... 


Red Moon Road's Links:

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