Thursday, 25 October 2012


Hey folks, folkesses, tweeps, tweepesses, facebookers, facebookees, linkedInners, beboers (is that even still going?) and all those who wish to be referred to as whatever. Manflu must have been responsible for causing some degree of delerium as I recall one particular dream I had where I was playing the dulcimer for Status Quo although I'd forgotten how to play it. Actually, it felt rather more like a Sam Beckett Quantum Leap moment where I'd leaped into the dulcimer player's body at the precise moment the band were starting a song. But all that aside, Status Quo? My brain needs to have a strong word with itself! Why couldn't it have been Led Zeppelin? Jeez, brain, thanks for the memories and all. The reason for this particular post is because I'm taking a short break from focusing on publishing the podcasts via the blog but fear not because they will be published and with their blogcast, to boot. I just really need to catch up with recording them for Acoustic Spectrum. Band of Badgers Presents...#10 is recorded and ready so if you want to listen to it make sure you tune in to Acoustic Spectrum at 7PM (BST) Thursday.

I've got all the tunes lined up for #11 and already I'm working on #12 too. It's kind of like a summer break then. Except it isn't summer (bbrrrrrr) and technically there's no break. I'm still working non stop to get things sorted and also with the reviews I am massively behind with too. In fact, the more comprehensive reviews I write and publish are going to have to start taking a bit of a back seat I think, if I am to keep up with the podcast schedule. It's hard making such sacrifices given I enjoy doing all of these things so very much. As it may be a week or more before I'm able to get the blogcast for podcast #10 up online I have so much other music I need to share with you right now which is why I've settled on this Mid Week Music Mix. As opposed to the Wednesday Waffle I toyed with a while back, this is more just about the music and less about my waffle. Unless of course you count my writing about the music to be waffle. I have no doubt that sometimes this is the case but hopefully I come down on the side of good waffle, if so? Anyway, let's get straight on with the marvelous mix of music then before y'all click off to find someone less waffley.

Michele Stodart

I count myself blessed I was able to see Michele perform some of the tracks from this debut solo album, Wide-Eyed Crossing, when she was second up on the main stage at Truck Festival in July. There, she proved she has more than what it takes to make it on her own now she's resting that bass she plays for double platinum selling band The Magic Numbers. She was always going to have a proficiency for the music but that never automatically means what is produced as a solo project is going to be good enough quality to carry an entire album. Michele Stodart needn't worry on that score however, as this offering ticks all the necessary boxes for it to be a runaway success.

Released on Monday 22n October, Wide-Eyed Crossing has already been gathering some promising reviews from the broadsheets and interest from national radio. Granted, some of the interest may be due to her associations with her band, but this is far from a bad thing. Once the album is heard for itself, it has enough merit to carry itself.
Right from the opening track Here's To Somehow, with its rather upbeat melody it doesn't shy away from the melancholy side of the lyrical spectrum, as you might expect. With banjo and other added instruments it builds up a wonderful atmosphere of pure Americana to set the mood. Michele's vocals are strong from the off too and for all the power of the instruments on the track she holds her own above them just right.

Take Your Loving Back is a more ethereal affair, both vocally and musically. Other standout songs include the beautiful Invitation to the Blues, an evocatively emotive number which also features a guest vocalist in the form of  Conor O'Brien from Villagers. The pairing, as they at first sing separately before harmoniously together, is just perfect. Recently released single Foolish Love has a rhythm that will pick you up and dance you off, refusing to put you down until it's through. When it does put you down, you'll put it on again so you can dance along yourself. You can't escape the intensity of the final killer line delivered with such delicate fragility, 'I hope you feel this same pain one day, soon.'

What comes immediately to mind on My Baby My Sweet is how very like a Carpenters song it feels in parts. This is to its credit with its harmony laden lines of , 'And is it love', which garner a force to carry you up into the clouds. Aside from the more involved yet still floaty chorus, this is probably one of the most stripped back numbers on the album. There's deception in the air when it comes to List of Don'ts but it is most welcome. Starting out as a simple keyboard lullaby, it is delicate and sounds almost like effort has been left at the door. Not that it suffers for it in any way. It fits very well and the real fun starts half way through as it gathers what sounds like a full brass orchestra.

In sum, Wide-Eyed Crossing provides a window deep into the personal soul of an individual already known for her work with a hugely successful band. There is heartbreak and anger, but also passion and love mixed perfectly with a panorama of exquisite musical sounds that really bring the songs to life. This is a collection of ten intense, personal country and blues songs from a talented songwriter who I imagine has been itching to step up front from behind that bass.

It has been quite the busy year for Michele and her touring band having already shared the stage in supporting Villagers, Alabama Shakes, Duke Special, and Slow Club. She also sold out residencies at London's Boogaloo and Betsey Trotwood. A few festival appearances followed throughout the summer ending with her first solo headline slot at Lodestar festival in Cambridge. In addition to releasing this stellar debut album, she is closing the year off with her first solo UK tour this November. The dates are listed below so do get along if you're local and able to because you'll have a cracking evening of top quality live music.

Boat To Row
This is another band I first heard about and saw play live at the spectacular Truck Festival. Needless to say with their musically tight, multi-instrumental sound and breathtaking performance I was an instant fan and have only not followed them relentlessly due to the ever-present lack of time issues I'm always going on about. That said, I'm now on the street team so expect to be hearing lots more about Boat To Row over the coming months. It's by no means obligatory but I am delighted they're a Midlands-based band. Homegrown talent is always great to share with the world and there is so much of it to share I dare say I could fill entire lengthy posts with it. I may well here and there, as time goes by.

In the meantime while I knock out some suitable words to do them justice please check out these two great videos. The first is the one recently released for the song Freedom, which will be featuring on their forthcoming EP, Loyal Light. The song features an army of instruments including the magnificent mandolin which adds its very own dimension by way of opening up a portal direct into your world. The footage is taken from amongst their summer festival appearances. I'm honestly rather excited to be a part of helping promote this local young indie folk band because they have such a vibrancy and wonderful energy about them. The music they offer already has me wanting more so watch this space.

The second video is of the title track from the EP recorded as part of the Croft Sessions inside a shipping container. It's a striking result and gets me thinking more about my filming bands and artists inside a Campervan at festival, idea.

Also their UK tour begins on 21st November at The Bodega in Nottingham. All the dates are below and tickets can be purchased via gigantic >>here<<.

Under A Banner

Having featured this Midlands based band a number of times on the podcast already, it is with immense pleasure I can share the fact they now have their full album available to buy digitally via their bandcamp page for just £5. That is just a fiver for 11 really well-written and superbly produced songs. This is a band who have a very indie soul indeed. Tired of the fakery, shallowness of the popular music industry and its hollow celebrity culture, they just want to be able to express their thoughts, ideas and passions through real proper salt of the earth type music. This is why real musicians, real musical artists go into the business or try and make it out there in these super tough times. 

With The Ragged Rhythm of Rain, Under A Banner have something special. Many of the tunes have been floating about for some time in various forms on their Soundcloud page which is where I first began listening to them following coming across One Cure For Man way back at the start of my podcasting project. Since then I've kept in touch and up to date. I was all set to get to their gig in Wolverhampton in June before some crazy man decided to crash into the car I was driving. Thanks crazy man - not. So the resulting situation meant I missed out but I sincerely do hope I can rectify that at some point. 

The songs I got used to have since all been jazzed up and, I wouldn't say dressed up is the right word but they have certainly been given a few enhancements here and there. Not that they necessarily required it I guess, as the quality of the writing and musicianship on those earlier versions was very impressive. These 'enhancements' recorded for this album have nevertheless added even more depth to that already possessed by the lyrics alone. When We Used To Dance starts off much like a forgotten Levellers song might do. I mean this as a compliment to how the fiddle has been interlaced with the existing structures producing something with an added oomph. Likewise, the violin makes a welcome, if somewhat haunting appearance on Some Stories. It is quite a haunting song though, based on a mostly true story we're told. It is on the sad side but does grab hold of you rather tightly. Some Stories are never meant to be told but missing that bullet meant this story was told. And told brilliantly it must be said.

The Scream is one track in particular I know has received a lot of very positive feedback. It has a building urgency to it and with the darkly insistent piano added by Alex Vann its rallying cry against oppression of all kinds is piercing. There's also First Light, which still retains a depth you may not be expecting from admittedly, a drinking song. This is followed by the wonderfully inclusive This Is England Now about all the things that bind people (not just he English) together. It's nice to hear a song focus on those positives as opposed to the negatives, even though the negatives will no doubt continue providing the majority of material it does for musicians.

The penultimate track Sunburst has a violin and string section serving to lift up those clear crisp vocals.You'll need your shades on if you don't want to get too dazzled. Finally closing with Back To The Sea is an inspired choice. Beautifully atmospheric, the sounds and the lyrics are hyponotic in themselves as they entice you back to the sea demonstrating the evocative power of the oceans.

This is a steal for just £5 so make sure you grab your copy now at the bandcamp page.

    Friday 2nd November -Acoustic set @ The Clarendon, Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton - Tickets £3 (in aid of British Red Cross) support from Ramblin' Pony & Nathan Kilcoyne
In Brief... 

Andy Ruddy

To finish off this marvelous mix there's the wonderful talent of singer-songwriter Andy Ruddy from Bradford. I came to this chap thanks to the little Facebook ads that pop up on the side of the screen. For once, I'm grateful to these ads. Amongst all the stuff I don't need there is this. There are songs and free downloads via Soundcloud so make sure you get clicking and enjoy this lad's amazing music. There will be more to come from Andy in the future.

Katie Cole 

Finally, Katie Cole is celebrating the release of her alternative country pop single I Can't Wait (Out 22nd October). With hints of Shania Twain, this is a really nice light and fun song. Check out the video for the song and the Press Release below courtesy of Prescription PR.

Katie Cole’s New Single ‘I Can’t Wait’ and Video Out Now!

Acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Katie Cole has just released her new single ‘I Can’t Wait’ through Beverly Martel Music. The track will be the leadoff single from her much-anticipated album, titled Lay It All Down, which is set for release in February 2013. The album features a guest appearance by songwriting and screen legend Kris Kristofferson.

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, and now residing in Los Angeles, Cole relocated to the United States to begin developing her sound with acclaimed record producer Howard Willing (Counting Crows, Ok Go, Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow). The result of this musical partnership was the "Lost Inside a Moment EP," which unexpectedly received two BBC Radio 2 playlist spots. Shortly after this release, Cole received multiple awards from organizations such as ASCAP and OurStage, and landed an illustrious Movado watches ad campaign that ran nationally in 2011.

Cole describes the new single and album direction as "a little bit more organic and rootsy" than her previous work. "It's somewhere between American Country and British Pop," she mentions. "I drew influences equally from icons like Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac, along with newer artists like Brandi Carlile and KT Tunstall."

"I Can't Wait" is no stranger to the airwaves - it is already receiving several spot plays on BBC Radio 2 and has been added to the New to Q/Q Radio playlist. Writer Alan Harrison of No Depression magazine has praised the new single, stating, "Katie is on the cusp of becoming the 'next big thing' in Nu-Country."

Producer Howard Willing enlisted the talents of A-level musicians to perform on the record, including 2 members of John Mayer's band Aaron Sterling (Natasha Bedingfield) and Sean Hurley (Colbie Caillat) along with Roger Manning Jr. (Jellyfish);Tim Pierce (Faith Hill); Lyle Workman (Beck); and Zac Rae (Jason Mraz).

Although still in the early stages of her career, Cole has toured in multiple cities throughout the US, as well as in London, UK. Over the years, she has shared the stage with many big names including Anna Nalick, Jackson Browne, and Glen Campbell. In addition, Cole was the only female vocalist to appear on Campbell's final 2011 studio release, "Ghost On The Canvas".

For more information, please visit:

Press Contact:
Ellie Clarke, Prescription PR / or +44 (0) 1223 505 328

Tuesday, 23 October 2012



WOW! Mary Gauthier’s Live At Blue Rock has blown me away so hard and fast I’m writing this review from a parallel universe. Seriously, an album packed with such heavy quality I certainly wouldn’t want to drop the CD on my foot as I imagine it would do some pretty painful and irreparable damage. Although she’s been releasing music for the last fifteen years to increasing critical acclaim, I was shocked to learn Mary only wrote her first song at the age of thirty five. The album dazzles not only the ears but contains a collection of deeply inspiring songs, each and every one of which delves deep inside the mind. Atmospheric to the point you can smell the American mid west in the air or the beer and whiskey breath of I Drink, or even the burning Sugar Cane. Whether you’re a first time listener or long-time fan, once this album is in your stereo it won’t be leaving for quite some time.
The first few tracks set the bar so high I wouldn’t have been surprised if that bar had started orbiting the globe. Yes, there is darkness and brooding in abundance but this is what makes these songs connect so strongly with people. We listen, we appreciate, we learn, we grieve, even. But most importantly, we feel! What we have to be thankful for is that there are musicians out there who can speak to us without commandment and without patronizing but rather with a compassion there should be much more of in this world. This is something Mary does flawlessly through her music.   

Being only the second track on the album it was going to take a hell of a lot to beat Last of the Hobo Kings, for me. While it remains one of my new top favourites of all time, there are many others worthy of such a title. This one in particular however, is one of those songs that stand out a mile, even amongst such a mix of amazing tunes. It has a character and style that renders the vivid images of the true story of Old Steam Train Maury who, ‘knew how the nation was doing by the length of a sidewalk cigarette butt’ as he walked around with his, ‘walking stick sceptre and shredded coffee can crown…’. It sounds like it belongs to the traditional folk pantheon such is the skill with which it was written. It is gorgeous with its delicate mourning country roots, sensational strings and some aptly placed harmonica. It has me going goosebump crazy from start to finish and I could write pages and pages just about this one song but still not do it justice. It really has absolutely everything I’d equate with musical perfection.

Then there’s the heartbreaking and emotional autobiographical song, Blood is Blood. No doubt touching on Mary’s feelings about having been adopted and feeling for a long time like something was missing from her life. It’s that something that roots us into life purpose and gives us a sense of comfort with our identities. It is thus something which everyone can relate to. The song hits you right in the gut first off before covering your heart with its shadow. It nevertheless leaves behind a sense of personal enlightenment demonstrating the secret power therein.

The devastating and tragic story of Karla Faye is told via another song with deep country roots. It draws on the delicate soul of a very lost and troubled young girl. The emotional force with which it is performed, thanks both to Mary’s leading vocals but also Tania Elizabeth’s backing vocals on the chorus and her accompanying violin throughout. It should pull hard on your heart strings and if it doesn’t then you have a cold heart. Not that I’m passing judgement.

Two of Mary’s classic fan favourites also make the cut in I Drink and Drag Queens in Limousines. The first could be a therapeutic way of having accepted alcoholism, the character believing they’ve followed firmly in their father’s footsteps. In reading more about Mary I read somewhere how this song helps remind her about the person she was for a time, and the person she could have ended up as. She admits her life could still follow that path and so the song acts as a deterrent, almost. The second is just as autobiographical as she relates more of her own troubled history with a deeply sincere and engaging performance of the title track from her second studio album. Having mastered the song writing craft to the degree she has, there are always welcome snippets of who she is. These come through in the many character and story songs but with songs like these two, it’s like you get a direct experiential link to her own soul and personality. I feel privileged to share in such an experience.

Don’t be duped by the seemingly overlong final track either. As it’s a live album it would be acceptable if it really was almost fifteen minutes long. However, while the buzzing country number, Wheel Inside The Wheel could bring this colourful collection to an admirable close, there is still one hidden gem to come. Existing fans will know it is of course the cherished and treasured Mercy Now and boy does it close the proceedings in true style by way of a gospel choir on backing vocals. It brings a whole new dimension to the song that will have the finest of your hairs standing on their ends.

These are all valid, deep, personal, articulate, thought provoking and emotive stories. When not about her own life, as incredibly interesting as that remains, there are numerous rich, vibrant characters ranging from dispossessed hobos to those belonging to The Rocket and Cigarette Machine. They’re all bought to life by not only the spectacular lyrics but by Mary’s watertight vocals. Possessing a power and vigour they serve to amplify the immaculate quality. Add to this the intricate and intense violin arrangements, I’d go so far as to say this album offers a real transcendental experience. There’s no mere passive listening. The finished product grabs hold of you by the ears and pulls you right into the heart and soul of all the stories.

Mary pours a torrent of passionate artistic creativity out through her hands to write the way she does. Then she does it all again when performing, captured beautifully by this album. There’s such depth to the whole thing I advise you to don some scuba gear with plenty of spare oxygen tanks because you’ll be listening to this on repeat over and over. From experience, Live At Blue Rock is perfect to introduce you to Mary Gauthier. It will have you checking out her recorded works but only once you’re able to stop playing this one. Even then you’ll have to coax it away from the stereo itself.

I only wish my words could heap enough praise on Live At Blue Rock or indeed upon undeniably one of the best singer-songwriters from across the pond I've had the distinct pleasure to be introduced to since starting to write these reviews. This I don’t just get from this one album, as remarkable as it is. I’ve done a little digging, checked out numerous live videos and read a few interviews. One thing’s for sure, Mary Gauthier is one phenomenal and talented spirit I intend to get to know much better.

Track list: 
 Your Sister Cried ~ Last of the Hobo Kings ~ Blood is Blood ~ Cigarette Machine ~ Our Lady of the Shooting Stars ~ The Rocket ~ Karla Faye ~ I Drink ~ Sugar Cane ~ Drag Queens in Limousines ~ Wheel Inside the Wheel

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Having been following his music and live video output for a while now, I arrived at Luke Jackson’s headline gig at Rugby Roots Club with rather high expectations. Admittedly, I knew full well he would deliver on each and every one. Suitably prepared to be wowed, he nevertheless managed to blow my expectations right out of the water with an outstanding performance that was nothing less than perfection. Days later and I’m still picking myself up off the floor after being knocked for six by the sheer force of exuberant power on show.     

Starting with the opening track from his debut album, More Than Boys, even I feel a little lost for words at how phenomenal his voice sounded right from the off with Run and Hide. Demonstrating remarkable professionalism there was no need to warm up and get into the swing of things. With an almighty BOOM, I was hit dead on from the first second he began strumming his guitar and the first words to pass his lips. The vocals were faultless throughout the evening but to start with the strength he did makes you instantly aware of the clout he has. Something he will no doubt continue building from through what can only end up being an incredibly successful music career. Indeed, with being so darn good at this young age, I’m struggling to see how it will be possible to get any better. I’m looking forward to seeing how he does it though, because one thing this gig proved is he has a staying power far beyond much I’ve seen from others his age.

Following this sensational start he played a medley of songs patched together consisting of an inspired and wonderful mix of stripped back well-knowns. From U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For to The Animals’ classic, House of the Rising Sun, the way he makes these flow so effortlessly into each other as one is just sublime. Yes, medleys do this I know but you just watch Luke play this live and you’ll see something different; something special. Always refreshing to see.

Entertaining us with stories about the songs he featured provided a sense of the person behind the music which helps anchor an audience. Joking how rock and roll he was by dedicating the song Kitchener Road to his grandmother, he wrote this after hearing about the name of the road where she once lived after she went back to see what it was like after so many years away. It is a real contemplative number. Then there was reminiscence of a different sort when introducing a song originally written for his college band, The Fox Patrol. Home Is Where The Heart Is may have been completely stripped back for this acoustic show but his ability to alter songs to suit his particular set the way he does, further shows his praiseworthy skills. That said, I’m genuinely excited about hearing the livelier band version, ‘Me and the band go a little bit crazy with that there at the end,’ he commented after it, or words to that effect.

Naturally, many of the songs are about being young and growing up and yet they are written with a reflective maturity that can grab a hold of listeners of any age or at any stage in their lives. For instance, How Does It Feel is about kids growing up and going off into the world to live their lives, but written from the perspective of the parent. It is heartfelt and poignant with a beautifully gentle melody no doubt emphasised all the more when experienced live. Enticing a knowing smile, it features mentions about the things all parents warn their children not to do but things they did and do themselves.  
As brilliant as Bakers Woods is with its youthful simplicity detailing those childhood days climbing trees with friends, it has a slight tinge of melancholy being a reflection on those days long since gone. Being one of his earliest songs it contrasts quite drastically with one of the most recent, Fumes and Faith. This alone shows why Luke has got in abundance, whatever it is that will lead to a very long and successful career. It is a masterfully crafted song with lyrics written from direct razor sharp observation about the state of youth and society as it currently descends into someplace we’d rather it didn’t go to.

The first half was bought to a close with two songs from the aforementioned album. The penultimate Last Train is about a soldier returning home with the heavy weight of how he is going to break the news of his compatriot’s death to his family, a deed he’d promised he would carry out. Luke takes you right into the heart of this scenario and his voice carries the associated emotion superbly. He really makes you live through the cavalcade of feelings. The recorded version is moving enough but up close in his presence, I dare you not to be moved by the resulting performance.

As high as the quality already was, it only increased as the second half kicked off with some rip-roaring riffs courtesy of Fathers Footstep Blues. It was a number that really got the feet and legs a-moving to its deep bluesy rhythm. As if by magic the leagues rolled by on the trail of those riffs with Luke’s dexterous guitar playing fuelling the travel. We weren’t in Rugby anymore but in some dusty blues bar across the Atlantic. It was flawless and so captivating to watch. Whether showcasing more originals from the album like Let It All Out, Big Hill and More Than Boys or playing brand new tunes like the beautiful lamenting love ballad Mary May, everyone was hypnotised by the high calibre of this musical mastermind.

Luke even approaches his cover versions with an innovative flair. I loved his reworking of Sting’s I Hung My Head. While remaining a tribute to the original version, it is nonetheless completely original in and of itself. He managed the same with his rendition of Lonely Boy by the Black Keys in which he exercised the higher end of his remarkable vocal range to glorious effect.

In sum, Luke went so far beyond amazing, amazing was little more than the tiniest speck of a dot to us all there sitting in the cosy room at The Merchant Inn. The venue was wonderfully atmospheric with a crisp and quality sound system, adding to the overall perfection. It created a real intimate ambience, capturing the mood beautifully. Host Richard Barnes made a very valid point at the end of the night when he talked about the kind of quality Luke possesses. This was a chance to catch a small, intimate gig with a rising star of tomorrow because there’s no doubt this hugely talented Canterbury lad will be moving on to huge things. I can appreciate why he fits so well into the Roots categories but be under no illusions, already applying the kind of thoughtful and mature style to his songwriting together with a refreshing originality he is destined to entertain far beyond traditional folkists. It certainly came as no surprise he has been nominated for next year’s BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. With performances like this one, his fellow nominees have a lot of work to do if they even want to get close to where he’s at.

Certainly no stranger to the live circuit, this gig however was a way for Luke to further test his rapturous rapport with an audience. To trial what his headline shows will be like and consist of. He nailed it that’s for sure. Luke has the confidence, charisma and the abilities to do this night after night to growing crowds. It’s pretty obvious this is what’s going to happen. All the more helped along by continuing to open for well known and respected artists like Martyn Joseph, Steve Knightley and Show of Hands, exposing him to greater numbers of people.

Even with twenty three numbers I didn’t want it to be over but one thing is for certain, I feel privileged to have been in attendance for such a rare and special evening of exemplary musicianship. I honestly cannot wait for the next time. As remarkable a breakthrough as More Than Boys is and all the well-deserved attention it is receiving, I must make clear there is so much more to Luke Jackson one can and MUST experience. So to finish I’ll break this down into points:

1.      If you don’t have them go and buy his EP Run& Hide and the debut album, More Than Boys. (Or via iTunes - Run & Hide - More Than Boys.)
2.  Get connecting via his website, by keeping updated at his Facebook page and subscribe to the YouTube page.
3.   Get yourself to a show and soon! He is about to embark on a 30 date tour supporting Martyn Joseph so there is no excuse for you to miss out!

Friday, 5 October 2012



Introducing The Scholars.

Since being directed to their MySpace page about a year ago, The Scholars fast became one of my favourite new indie bands. Now, indie is not a genre as many will scream and shout and I agree, it is not. But then, indie in the context I use it frequently refers to the independent nature of whatever it is that is being discussed. In my honest opinion, the fact The Scholars are an unsigned band is a heinous crime given the star quality of not only what has come from them before but even more so with the phenomenal music they are producing today. Their latest single Wired is released on Monday 8th October as a FREE download. Check it out for yourself and get on board! Share the music, get in touch with the band via their Facebook page, and offer your comments, thoughts and suggestions. Most importantly talk about how great they sound and demand their tunes get played on your favourite radio station and that they must play gigs in your towns. It's still about word of mouth these days folks or tweets of tweeps, if that's your thing.

There are some fine radio stations and shows out there but there’s a whole heap of junk too. The same repetitive noise some of them play should warrant their controllers and presenters be jettisoned into deep space (without breathing apparatus or space suits). What is needed is for them to embrace the true music stars of the future and they need look no further for inspiration than The Scholars. Naming the band as one of a few of my own Bands of the Moment, I’ve featured them on my podcast no less than three times already. While they continue making such kick ass songs like Turbulence, This Heart’s Built To Break and the latest, Wired I will continue to play them again and again. This band is what modern music should be all about! It drives it on for a fan of real hard working musicians like myself and hits home the message that there really are so many amazing acts out there that, for all their brilliance remain just under the radar. Only just though, as these guys are primed and ready for launch. The bottom line is your support for highly professional talented bands like The Scholars, is needed and very much appreciated.  

The band itself emerged in a rather gradual manner, beginning with Adrian Banks and Chris Gillett back in 2007. Both were playing in various other bands until they finally started writing together by the time that year was out. They started big too, by way of writing a full 10 track album called Turbulence. Recorded on a 4 track, they managed to persuade a local producer to record it for them. Cue the addition of a drum playing friend and an initial 3 piece set up was born. Unfortunately, they were a band with an album but no gigs with which to showcase it.

Various individuals came and went as the early days was no doubt more about testing what worked and with whom in what way. How would they build up a live performance making music fans take notice and want to hear and see more from them? How were they going to take those early accomplishments to the next level? It was a constructive process that paid off when a quintet finally emerged by the middle of 2008. Then it was show time as the new complete line-up was ready to be unleashed on unsuspecting (but very lucky) audiences.

That initial album, Turbulence, consisted of various demos of a number of different styles. I’d say it was a work of raw creative genius. I mean this in the sense that maybe not all of the tracks would have been perfect, ready to release or indeed great (they may very well have been all these things, I must add) but much more importantly they were a way, for Adrian and Chris at least, to figure out what they were capable of together musically (and in turn, as a band) and exactly what they may be able to achieve in the future. Five years on and they are still writing together, having produced some of the finest alternative electronic rock songs I’ve had the pleasure of coming across. I was so enthused I found myself returning regularly to their MySpace page anticipating new releases.

Turbulence, the album, may not have been released to the world but the title track was released as a single in 2009 and led to an interview on BBC6 Music with Tom Robinson. Listening to the song it's easy to understand why it generated such interest following its release. It has everything needed to grab your attention and pull you in for more. Superbly written lyrics, striking vocals from Adrian and utilising sounds that embed themselves deep down in the musical parts of your brain. Festival slots throughout that summer followed so The Scholars were on the move at last. Their inclination for doing things on a grander scale seeped into their live endeavours as they won a BBC Introducing Battle Of The Bands after just a few weeks out on the road. The momentum kept building as they were spurred onwards, working hard at playing shows and writing new material. Going on to share bills with the likes of Two Door Cinema Club, The Boxer Rebellion, The Cinematics, The Big Pink, Chapel Club, Animal Kingdom, Wintersleep and A Silent Film, they have also played the wonderfully laid-back and independent Truck Festival as well as Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.

2010 saw the guys become heavily involved with an independent feature film. Turbulence was its name and musical romantic comedy was its game. They played a major role in this venture and Adrian had a starring role, satisfying the acting side of his professional ambitions. Producing the soundtrack for the film as well as being an important part of the story itself meant more exposure for those early songs, especially the terrific tune that is Turbulence but also the likes of Blood Runs Blue. Although still at an experimental stage with regards their sound, the seeds planted from the work on that initial unreleased 10 track album were growing fast and bearing sumptuous tasty fruits. Emulating some of the styles of their favourites bands to an extent, which is only a natural part of the process, The Scholars' own distinct sounds were emerging from their hard work and dedication.

Debut EP, Arrival/Departure was released in 2011 and it was after hearing this I was well and truly hooked on to them. No way was I letting go. My initial thoughts were, sounds similar in style to the Editors. As a huge fan of that band I didn't want just an imitation of course but there was no worry about that with Arrival/Departure because Adrian's uniquely distinct and engaging vocals married with the sweeping electronic synths and powerful melodies provided the perfect mix. Indeed, after hearing this I wanted a full album immediately. If you don't have this EP in your collection I urge you to rectify this situation quick smart. A direct link to where you can purchase this at iTunes is >>here<<.

This Heart's Built To Break was the second single to be released but in January this year and fans got this little gem all for FREE. It is still available as a FREE download so make sure you grab your copy and share the information and link (below) with the world. Again, following the release of this single I desperately wanted an album from the band and while this is selfish of me, I think it will be hard for you not to agree this is something that MUST happen, in time. In order for us to help make it so, we need to ensure we all get right behind this amazing trio right now. That's right, they recently lost two band members but no, not in the sense of having left them behind somewhere. Adrian, Chris and Leigh are not that careless. Producing such great stuff, they cannot be. You will find out a little more about this recent change in line-up from the interview below as well as discovering loads more from the guys themselves.  

Interviewing The Scholars

As the first band interview to be featured on this blog, I shall be eternally grateful to Adrian and Chris who kindly answered this barrage of questions I sent to them. All this for you wonderful readers, listeners and fans of great musical taste to learn more about them and the band. As they launch their latest single, Wired on 8th October let's delve in and when you're done if you haven't already check out the unofficial video for Wired at the top of the page. From Monday 8th I'll also embed the single so you can simply click and be able to download your own copy.

Wired is the first of five new songs the band have for us and what a start for their 'relaunch' as a trio again. I say relaunch but the efforts of former members Tim and Josh are not and never will be forgotten. Wired has everything required to propel The Scholars back into the stratosphere of the modern music world. Brimming with a quality sorely lacking on the radio playlists today it should only be a matter of time before we are hearing them added to such lists in order to do the all important job of vastly increasing the quality of radio output. 

Starting with answering a question about the conception of the band, a brief history from the beginnings up to today, I used some of this information for the above write up. Here's what else Adrian had to say:
We've been lucky enough to do a lot of things a lot of bands at our level haven't but we've had just as many lows as highs and it's still to this day a struggle to make a serious mark in the music industry. It's a broken industry and for any band out there it's so so hard but we keep battling on! Recently we changed to a Trio again. Two of our very close friends just couldn't commit the time anymore and we respected them for there honesty and was so proud of the work they did and the place they got us to today. They will be sadly missed and this year has been particularly hard for us. BUT we're still here and we'll still be making music. 

Who came up with the name The Scholars and how was the name settled upon?
A: Way back in the formation of the band we were struggling for a name, but it came from a visit to Stratford upon Avon when my Dad saw "Scholars Lane" and told us….and it was as simple as that! No legendry story I'm afraid to say! 

As a collective how do you approach the song writing and the recording process? Is there primarily one member who writes etc…? 
A: Me and Chris write the music together, it's just kind of worked that way - we were never adverse to other members contributing, but being brothers and living under the one roof meant we could knock out demo's at a great pace, it just seemed to work. Normally when a demo's finished, we would offer it up to the rest of the band and they would tell us if they liked it or not. We'd work on demos we liked and they developed in our live shows and sift out which ones worked and which didn’t! 

What kind of effect, if any, has the recent alteration in the line-up had on how you make music together as a group?
A: Being a 3 piece has made this process a lot easier and almost more collaborative - Leigh has some great synth pads which he adds for texture and we've been able to really fill out our live shows with some of our new gear which is all operated from the drums! We've also embraced the extra space in our music and explored more keyboard and harmonic ideas. We've written some new songs recently which we are so proud of and can't wait to road test them on new audiences!  

For those reading about you for the first time, having not heard any of your songs, how would you sum up your overall sound? What about the kind of sound you are aiming for?
A: Wow..okay.. a mixture of Electro Rock and 80's new wave with a moody dance feel..something like that.. We never aimed for a sound but it evolved from early demos to definitely the more darker elements of Alt Rock. Due to my low singing voice and aggressive guitars we do get compared to bands we like, but I think its certainly moving away from that into a more defined sound that seems to be quite refreshing to new audiences, which is great! I think in the early days we sounded very like the bands we admired but that’s a natural thing I think. You listen to bands you like, you write music, there will always be crossovers. It's just what you do after that makes things interesting.. 

Chris: The other day someone compared us to The Chameleons, which I thought was pretty cool. It's good that we mostly get compared to decent bands.

Considering Social Networks, it has become evident to me that certainly in the early days and even for a number of years to follow, it requires bands (or indie artists of many areas) to really work hard and relentlessly at self-promoting. Are there still times when you feel like giving it all up and just playing Skyrim instead or heading to the pub after work? What encourages you to keep at it?
A: All the time! And For the record, me and Leigh are massive Skyrim fans and we still somehow fit it in. It’s bloody hard to keep doing. Ideally you want a company to jump on board and manage that side for you.. but its all money. Tim, our former 2nd guitarist and PR man was incredible at keeping the band alive online and working around him not being in the band has been a massive challenge. Chris has really taken it on board to crack on with the emails and talking to management types - with regards to social networking - I like to do that myself - I also design posters and have quite a large say in artwork and image for the band. Leigh is a dap hand at making our videos and editing various things to keep our visual online marketing interesting. We all talk to each other and all have opinions on our online structure and so far it seems to work. Having our own little areas just builds into the larger picture. It’s a lot of time and effort but the buzz we get from playing live and the reaction we get from people when we release stuff is enough to keep going. We all love music and playing and writing – that’s what it’s all about….time for a drink ;) 

Do you think Social Networks (and/or even the internet in general) are helping or hindering real quality emerging talent? Why? (Although let’s face it, Simon Cowell has done his best to annihilate quality talent via the television).
A: It's great exposure for any emerging talent, but at the same time its so saturated its hard to know where to look. The likes of X Factor esq shows really blind what the reality is to make it as a successful act with a career and not quick cash for covers. Some blogs are useful for sifting through the shit – and spotify is a great tool. Anything that exposes people in the right way that can benefit upcoming bands is invaluable to reach the right audience. If you dig a little you’ll find so much more than what TV and Radio1 expose us to.
What are your thoughts on how the music industry itself operates these days?
A: Battling with the economic fall and the internet age has shifted the industry to a place where money is few and far between. There's not much trust anymore and it's trying to work itself out, except no one seems to know how. Once the problem with illegal downloading can be worked around things will hopefully pick up, but until then bands are going to have to find new and more inventive ways to get out there – the industry now is enough to put people off getting into making music, maybe we’re crazy?    

What would you say has been your biggest challenge as a band so far?
A: Adjusting to a 3 piece for me, I think we would all say various things - but that or just trying to get out there and finding new ways to do it! Always trying to write a better song is the goal.

C: Agreed. Trying to capture our sound on record has been something that has driven me to insanity over the last 4 or 5 years, and if something is not right to me, it can really create a pretty tense atmosphere. With these new tracks, it was the most relaxed I've ever been in a studio.
As musicians, there are no doubt numerous bands and individuals of all kinds of styles that have influenced you all, both in terms of general jamming for fun and professionally. Name just ONE each that you’d have to say has had the most impact on how you ‘make’ music right now.
A: This will divide people but I don’t care….Chris Martin

C: John Frusciante. But Simon Green (AKA Bonobo) has also had a huge impact on the way I make music.

Would any one of you ever appear on a reality TV show if it meant getting the band some exposure? If not all of them, which ones would you refuse point blank to do?
A: Road to V? Otherwise, none of them. We refuse to watch any of them but we can understand why people want to use it as an exposure platform. Just not really us. It does more damage than good. 

You have five really great songs ready to unleash on the world, the first of which, Wired is released on Monday 8th October as a FREE download. What is the impetus for a) releasing them one at a time as opposed to a full EP and b) why for free?
A: We've been advised by companies and friends that singles are the way forward. People are unfortunately losing interest in albums and releasing singles can get you way more exposure than an EP - unless you’re in a position where you have a big enough fan base. 

Explain what Wired, is about?
A: Lyrics I write about are normally based on a personal experience or an onlookers view to a situation. I try to, on the most part get away from telling the listener what I’m thinking and instead provide them with a story or an idea that they can make fit into their world. It always pleases me when people explain their idea of a song I've written even if it's not what I've envisaged. It’s boring to be told what to think, right? Wired is about how someone gets under your skin and knows how to push your buttons. “You know how I’m wired” refers to the fact that everyone feels in control but when someone can control you – just how hard it is to escape them and the effect they have on your life.

What hurdles are in the way of you making a full album and can you see these being conquered? What kind of shape might such a longer record take?
A: One word. Money. – If we were to record an album, it would have to be with some money behind us to really capture what we would want on record. 

Are there any big named bands you would love the opportunity to support on a UK (or even beyond) tour? Which ones? 
A: For me - Coldplay, The National, Muse, Interpol....any pioneering band that we grew up listening to really. I’d love to play with Elbow, just from an advice point of view – they are a real hardworking band.

What about collaborating with any other people musically, bringing them into the band for a project perhaps? Alternatively, any specific music producers you want to work with?
A: Too many to write down but I think we'd all be open to working collaboratively if it was done in the right way with the right people and was interesting for us all! Crossing genres can either really work or ruin you. I guess it’s who you’re aiming for. In terms of producers…umm…really admire Peter Katis, Jacknife Lee, Brian Eno and Jeff Saltzman.

You’ve made it through and are heading out on your first UK headline tour. What qualities or sound in a supporting act(s) would you look for?
A: I’d want to look for a band who have been on the unsigned circuit a while who we may have played with who deserves a break. 

What would you consider has been your biggest and most accomplished gig so far? Does this differ from what you’d choose as your favourite gig?
A: Biggest gig would be supporting The Boxer Rebellion with We are Augustines last year around the release of our EP - it was a fantastic day playing with two bands we hugely admire. 

C: Our Arrival/Departure EP Release party at The Regal in Oxford will always live long in the memory - incredible venue, soundguys and lighting.

Do any of you have any pre-gig rituals?
A: Paying for parking and grabbing a quick dinner…oh and deciding on a setlist. I normally sing in the car to warm my voice up.

How do you like to best unwind after a show?
A: Gah, I wish we say we could but the reality is we don’t. We often pack up and head home. The nearest is probably listening to BBC4 on the way. If the bands we're playing with are good we'll stick around and enjoy the show. Leigh likes to grab a few beers, he's a laid back kinda fellow, except when Tottenham lose. 

Can we expect some shows to come following the release of Wired? Where would you most love to play?
A: We will be doing a few shows around the Midlands following the release. Would love to play...err….SO many! Wembley, Reading/Leeds, Roundhouse and Glasto. Well, in England anyway. Shameless plug, but for our shows, best visit our facebook!  

If you weren’t in a band or into music like you are, what would you be doing with your lives instead?
A: I’m a jobbing actor as well as juggling a music career. I think I’d always want something involved in the arts.

C: If I wasn't in a band I'd still be looking for a job within music.

Music guilty pleasures: Name an album or band/artist you owned or liked when you were a kid/teenager that makes you want to go back in time and have a word with yourself? (if there is one) 
A: I brought a Stained album once. God, it was tripe. Why did I do it?!

C: I bought the single 'Escape' by Enrique Iglesias. No regrets.

I’m aware Adrian is an actor. What aspirations do you have regards that part of your professional life?
A: I grew up acting and it was music that I got into later. I love both though. I trained as an actor and I’m lucky enough to have a great agent who puts me up for loads of stuff - Ideally I’d love to be involved with a comedy series or feature film – but as long as I’m working in either I’ll be happy. I get a different buzz off each. Acting you get to put your stamp on someone else’s idea where as music exposes what you make. You can't hide behind someone else’s work.

You were involved in the making of the independent film Turbulence which has recently been selected for a premier at Edmonton International Film Festival. This should expose the band to more people in a completely different setting, what are your thoughts and hopes on this? 
A: We are so lucky to be involved in this film and I was extraordinarily lucky to be a main character as well as being involved in providing the soundtrack. It’s been some time since we did the film but its great to see it still make waves, especially abroad! It certainly gives us a new audience. It was a fantastic project to work on and we’ll have to wait and see what comes of it.

What are amongst your most important non-musical influences? 
A: For me, the Media in general. I write a lot about how devastating it can be and how it moulds people’s perceptions. I really hate it and the effect it has on society but it’s great to draw on. Other than that….Art, friends and family.

What kind of plans do you have for, say, the next twelve months? 
C: I think we've been doing this long enough to now be realistic with our goals. As long as we can stick to our plans for the releases, and continue to write better songs, then we will be heading in the right direction.

Once again, my sincerest thanks to Adrian and Chris for the above and all the best with the release of Wired.  Keep fully up to date with all things The Scholars at their official page via Facebook. As Adrian pointed out you will find all these gig dates on the Facebook page so go hit that all important 'like' button and prepare for some awesome live shows. Get along and support the band, let's help them get to where they deserve to be!
Banbury Folk Festival - 12th October
Oxjam, Purple Turtle, Oxford - 13th October
AKA, Banbury - 26th October (Free Entry)
The Bell, Adderbury - 3rd November
The End, Birmingham - 23rd November
Winter Warmer, Fat Lil's, Whitney - 16th December

The Scholars are:
Adrian Banks
Chris Gillett
Leigh Taylor

You can (and should) follow The Scholars on Twitter @TheScholars.