Monday, 25 February 2013



Photo by: Kristin Tully
This latest blogcast is even more overdue than my overlong overrunning overview/review. Never mind, with just the final part of that to go, featuring some of the top live gigs I was fortunate to get to last year, I've decided I just MUST get podcast #12 out there already. Especially as I've now already recorded podcast #13 and got that up on podOmatic! So much for that schedule encouraging me to get these done quicker. Ha! Ah well, I did make it quite clear I'm not really one for such schedules. They just mess things up anyway. *drinks to non-schedules* I shall continue scribbling things down on my multi-coloured post-it notes. That seems to do the trick.

Photo from the band's Facebook page feels a bit odd writing up this now given I've recorded podcast #13 already. Shock! I do believe I am doing what they call 'multitasking'. Or as UK comedian Miranda would correct me, it is what everyone calls multitasking, there is no need to add, 'what I call'. Miranda is a strange phenomenon don't you think? I may be isolating any non-UK readers/listeners here so apologies for that. It is a British sitcom based on a very silly thirty-something woman called, surprise surprise, Miranda. It really is just so silly but I do find it almost sidesplittingly funny. It seems to be rather divisive however. A bit like marmite in that people either love it or hate it. I say that about Marmite but I'm a fence-sitter when it comes to the yeast extract. I like it on a sarnie if I'm having cheese or crisps with it but not on its own. And it ruins toast in my opinion. Back to Miranda, some people just don't get it. I like that silly aspect of it, it is stupid but funny with it and at times even clever. Now, <best Heather Small voice please> 'What have you done today to make you feel prooooouuuuuud?' Well, I've almost finished writing a live review of Luke Jackson's recent gig at The Stables in Milton Keynes that he's going to post it up on his very own website. There's loads more I'm working on but I really need to be getting on with this so keep an eye out. Not literally remove your eye from your sockets of course. Oh dear. I think I have caught the Miranda bug. Best crack on with the playlist and stop all this buffoonary! Oooh, what a cool word. Buffoon. Boofunary. Me likes.

The Playlist:

The Slow Readers Club
Naturally, this band featured in my list of top bands I came to last year. With a sound as grand as this I'm expecting big things to come for The Slow Readers Club. Reading off a list of radio plays they have enjoyed since releasing their debut self-titled album last May is like reeling off a list of all the ones that matter these days. From the hugely supportive BBC 6 Music (please give me a job, I make really good tea), BBC Introducing (I make really good tea & have a knack for finding some pretty amazing new music), NME, Q Radio and NME TV. Not only that folks, but also they've had exposure via Sky Sports and ITV.

Their video for the song Block Out The Sun was featured on Coldplay's website helping to bag their YouTube channel a staggering 155,707 views! Amazing. That exposure would certainly have helped but what's most important is the sheer awesome quality of their music which will of course leave listeners begging for more and thus guarantee their return. I find the video for Feet on Fire absolutely fascinating, which is why I've shared it above, for your viewing pleasure. It must have taken ages to animate but the end results are great! Now I want to see what a lego me would look like. My South Park avatar is pretty cool although I did that when I had long hair so it could do with revising a little.

You can sample the entire debut album via the band's Soundcloud page, which I embedded in that review post I mentioned. Alternatively, click on the song above to take you right there. Then get over to their official website and get buying it. These guys are going places. 

Face The King
There are some really strong big US rock bands out there at the moment. Ones it is a complete pleasure to keep stumbling across via the Twitterverse. Oh, Twitterverse I do love you so. Face The King are epic and anthemic. Their big atmospheric sound is more than capable of filling the biggest arena or stadium, even now. They're also fond of giving their supportive fans FREE downloads which here at the Badger's Set (I don't know why I refer to it as such but it sounds kinda cool - admittedly, cool in just my own freaky mind) we do love indeed. The latest song you can grab is You, Me & the SOUND which is very boisterous, just as it needs to be, but also wonderfully melodic. Visit their website for this FREE download and keep updated with everything going on with the band because things are set to move along fast for them this year. 

They are no one trick ponies to be sure and they can do the slower rock ballads with just as much brilliance. Parachutes springs instantly to mind but having heard Due North, there is no way I cannot share it with you here. It is magnificent. To be so good and completely independent is testament to how great a group (and this goes for individuals too of course) can be when putting in all that hard work and commitment. I want these guys to make it bigger because if they do there's a chance I will get to see them when they hit the UK for a tour or festival run.

The song I played on the podcast, The Burning and the Falling Down is taken from their second EP which has received great critical praise and positive reviews not only in print and on the internet but also on local and out of state radio. You, Me & the SOUND is taken from their next EP due out soon.

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
I was thrilled this contemporary folk couple won the Best Duo award at this year's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards because they deserve this praise and industry acceptance so very much. Both coming from musical families and meeting each other many years ago when they were a part of the folk-pop group Equation, they have come a long way since those early days.

Live music is where it's at for these guys and having seen them three times already I can assure you they well and truly knock your socks off. Kathryn's voice is so strong she manages to enchant you into a much better reality for the duration of the show and beyond. The most recent one I attended was at The Stables in Milton Keynes last November where the pair were joined by string musician Patsy Reid. As fantastic as the two are together, Patsy added a few more marvelous musical layers to a number of the songs as well as some pretty awesome backing vocals. During their acceptance speech when collecting the above folk award, Sean gave a big thanks to all the people who come out to their shows when they tour, saying they are (we're) the ones who makes these things happen and how incredibly grateful they are. As someone who is a regular show goer I will always try and get to theirs if they are nearby and with such quality on offer I urge anyone reading this to do the same.

Gilmore & Roberts
Another contemporary folk duo who deserve all the accolades coming their way. They lost out on that BBC folk award but there are many more they are sure to get. I voted for them in the Spiral Earth awards because what I find so wonderful is how they each combine their skills together so perfectly. The mix is just spot on. When one is playing up front, even though the other may appear to be just in the background, contributing an important element to a song, you come to understand how no, actually each of their performances is integral to any one particular piece.

Their third album, The Innocent Left is a remarkable record and one you really should own. What I also really enjoy is the alternating mix of one member dominating the main vocals for a song. Mix that up some more with an instrumental here and there like the awesome Over Snake Pass and you get an album with so much to enjoy you'll be wanting to lap up as much Gilmore & Roberts as you possibly can. Live, they are magnificent so that would be a wise and worthy choice for an evening of spectacular musical entertainment too. In fact, you can check out all the tour dates that are up on the website right now and before or after you do this, why not take advantage of their SAVER DEAL. Buy ALL three of their fantastic albums for just £25. For the high quality of music you're getting, this is a bargain.

Ben Glover
Photo from Ben's website
I sincerely hope I do get to catch Ben's gig in Milton Keynes in a few weeks when he is supporting the lovely Gretchen Peters. Ben is also off on the road again to support the wonderful Mary Gauthier. Sadly, there are only two UK dates for that forthcoming tour, both in Northern Ireland. I may well have to submit a claim to my as yet non-existent expenses account, so I can head over to one of the European dates. Or perhaps even catch them over in Nashville. Now that would be sweet. *stamps feet and screams, I want a TARDIS, please*

Ben has been over there in his second home for a few months now working on more music after the release of his latest fourth studio album, Do We Burn The Boats. This album impressed me hugely and I've enjoyed listening to his previous records too. While they themselves have a high level of quality, the progress he's made as he's continued working hard through the years is evident. Treat yourself to some top Americana-fused music from a guy at the top of his game.

Flight Brigade
These guys were awesome at Bakewell Music Festival last August and deserve hefty praise for their self-produced debut EP. This is available as a FREE download from their website so what are you waiting for? Get on it folks. The Shaw Court Sessions is a collection of songs mixed in a bedroom and it sounds damn good for such humble beginnings. There are six great tracks for you to enjoy and they each showcase a quality that is a knock-out when playing live. Their sound is one that sticks with you and for all the right reasons.

Great news about their debut album having now been mixed, which is what the band have been up to over the past two months. There are also a bunch of gig dates up on the website so get along if you can. Take it from someone who has seen them, they are more than worth it. You will have an awesome time.

Boat To Row
Regular readers/listeners/visitors will know Boat To Row are another band I caught live at a festival last summer. They were perfect at Truck Festival and I was frustrated I couldn't get to one of the dates on their November tour when they were on the road promoting the release of their latest EP, Loyal Light.

They're so vibrant with such cosmic energy if they play near you I highly recommend you go along. Likewise, check out their music and links via their Facebook page.

Beyond The Wall to Stornoway
Well, it is rather far north isn't it? You will have to forgive me for the Game of Thrones references for a while as I'm a tad too excited about the new season of the tv show. The new album from this Oxford-based band, Tales From Terra Firma is due for release on 11th March and is available for pre-order worldwide via both iTunes and Amazon. I am beyond ecstatic that Brian's beautiful solo number November Song has made the cut to close the record. I'm not sure how the recorded version will sound, if there will likely be valid additions from other members of the band. I had the immense pleasure of hearing this tune when I saw Stornoway for the first ever time at Beautiful Days in 2010. That makes me feel old now we are already in 2013 but there you go. It is a really lovely song and I wish I could have filmed a better video. The video below via YouTube is much better than my own. The song is just so megagoosebump-inducing! I do hope it is on the set list at the forthcoming gig.

Before I share that oldie - although as it is a song on the new album I guess it is also a newie too - you need to check out the official video for the first single from Tales From Terra Firma, above. It's called Knock Me On The Head, and it is quite simply, stunning! Loving the moustache bassist Oli Steadman is sporting as the news reporter too. Hope that comes out for the song on the tour. Seriously though, the layers of instruments on this particular song, the lyrics, how it all comes together is sublime. It is also very catchy. Something to get into your head and stay there. In the making you want more kind of way, I mean.

I would have loved to have made it to one of their Oxford homecoming gigs at the Town Hall but not only would the fuel costs have been a bit much as the month wears on, the tickets for those gigs were selling quick and fast! I tried but by the time I could afford to buy some all the standing tickets had been snapped up. So, on to Leamington Spa it was. Ironically I'll be seeing them at the same place I saw Water Mountain and Seth Lakeman exactly a year previous. I wonder who it will be come 2014. Bring it on! If tickets haven't yet sold out to one of their shows near you on this tour then do the sensible thing and get some quick. They are an awesome live act and that one festival slot in 2010 was enough to get me hooked. Their debut album, Beachcomber's Windowsill was one of my 'walk to work' albums last week, reminding me of the bags of talent they contain and getting me all the more excited for not only the gig, but the new album too.

Reichenbach Falls 
This EP is a real delight! I'll Never Go Anywhere Without Her Now contains 4 stunning tracks. Kicking off with opener The Best I Could, which buffers you gently into the ambient sound with some neat delicate vocals. Listening to just this track cements in your understanding where the band get their name from. This is tranquility. This is musical beauty that would translate into something akin to the natural beauty of the Reichenbach Falls

Risky from Reichenbach Falls on Vimeo.

Blessed Blush you may have heard if you read a post I published a few weeks ago - prior to the release of the EP - and this just moves things along perfectly, stepping up a level. Hands aren't holding back on that lever and the level keeps cranking up with Risky. This third track would be my personal favourite of  the lot, if I was forced to choose just one. In The Wreckage brings things to a beautiful close but be warned you really will be left wanting more! I'm humming this one in my head already, long after having listened to it. There's something that latches on to you with the music being made and put together here. The mix of instruments intertwine like the finely cooked meal of a master chef.  It is indie folk verging on soft rock steeped in contemporary Americana. In sum, it is one heck of a tasty treat. Go buy it, please. 

The beauty doesn't stop there either. The physical CD looks like a little vinyl record. Brilliant. This is such a wonderful touch and a tip of the hat to not only the resurgence of vinyl but a good nod to the past.

Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou
Trevor and Hannah Lou have filmed this new video for their single, For A Minute There, which is also available as a FREE download. So much FREE music for you all this time round. This blogcast was worth the wait wasn't it? There's more to come too. The song is taken from their beautiful album, La Ferme De Fontenaille, which I highly recommend. It was a real treat to see them live when they supported Tom McRae on the first leg of his solo tour at the end of last year. They were amazing. Such synchronicity when they stand and play together, it really is like they work as one. And their harmonies are a thing of flawless beauty. I've mentioned how they've been gigging it up crazy having gone out on their own unique tour of working men's and social clubs. They also opened for the awesome Beth Orton last December too. 

The single comes with the rare b-side Redemption Movement. Recorded at one of their first duo recording sessions back in 2008, it is a wonderful track.

The Scholars *NEW SINGLE*
Love The Thunder
As I've featured the latest single from this top Oxfordshire-based alternative rock band a few times already I just wanted to point out again here that you can get the track from their bandcamp page for just 79 little pennies. Please do and let's get these guys snowed under with the response. Big time is coming a knocking. There's a storm coming but it's a good one that will see them smash it through to the big time. I'll be playing the song on the next podcast too.

Make sure you check in at their Facebook page and bag yourself a bargain bundle. They are offering a Love The Thunder bundle. £15 gets you two neat physical CDs, a nifty new t-shirt and a mug. Some cool merchandise for you to help promote the guys wherever you're at.

"This is Epic.." BBC Introducing

"Really strong song" - Tom Robinson, BBC6 Music

"I really liked their previous single Wired and so I was eager to hear the band’s new release Love The Thunder – the good news is that it sounds even better.." - Glasswerk
"Love The Thunder has a faster pace and the mix of instruments is very well produced. The synth and guitar set the rapid rhythm but there is also a lovely piano melody that flits in and out. The drums are solid, while the bass growls. And above all of this the low pitched vocals are strong. The chorus has some fine backing vocal harmonies too and then a lovely guitar solo cuts in, before an abrupt ending leaves you breathless.." Glasswerk

King Sukh
It's not so much lions and tigers and bears oh no, but rather lions and penguins and bears in this official video for Sukh's recently released debut single, Kings. I featured this in a previous post but the video hadn't been published at that time so here it is again. He is one talented young chap destined for greatness in my opinion.

I'm keeping it brief here as I'll be playing Kings on the next podcast so there will be more featured on Sukh next time. The album is sublime though, I will reiterate that. If iTunes is your thing then click >>here<< to buy the single so it can continue whetting your appetite for the album.

Wings of Apollo Flying High
Just randomly coming across bands like Wings of Apollo is one of the chief reasons I could not live without Twitter in my life now. What a huge sound they have! Some of their tunes hark back to some of the massive classic eras and other bands over the years but these guys not only pull things together superbly to sound original, they add so much of their own souls into the mix as well.

There is so much going on I'll admit it is hard to know where to begin. The guitar playing is exquisite. It is perfection. Think Jimmy Page at his experimental best and yes that is a lofty comparison but it's what I'm hearing at times, via this debut self-titled album. It is a FREE album too by the way so why not go grab it for yourself and see (or hear) what all the commotion is about. The ten tracks therein will well and truly rock you in to another week. There's a real heavy and wonderful blues to the likes of Can You Hear Me Now and this is mixed cleverly with the hard rock sound. Son Of A Gun is so hook-laden you'll be singing and humming along before very long. Jesse Korby's vocals cut right through everything to deliver lyrical parcels that remain crystal clear and poignant. It's great how he's able to showcase his range with the likes of In The Morning, too. Don't get me wrong, while it's important to share the huge talents of Jesse, Wings of Apollo is by no means a one-man band. Bassist Pat Graves and drummer Dave Martin are integral. Pat's appreciation for 90s grunge is evident and this spills out through the speakers in such a way it alters the whole in the most positive of ways. The transcendental qualities of the 9 minute closing anthem Temple is sheer musical bliss. The intro builds up with a gradual perfection lasting four minutes. What follows is nothing short of a classic!

In fact, it feels to me like they've done something akin to UK band Syd Arthur. With their debut album On An On they capture the magic and all that was great about late 60's and 70's psychedelia. Using their outstanding talents they rework this into something that's fresh and new. Something that is unlike anything else out there. This is one of the most important things about this kind of stuff. It really is original. It is unique. It is exciting! There's a foot firmly in the past but the eyes are well into the future. Wings of Apollo do something similar but with rock verging on the cusp of some grunge as opposed to the psychedelia. It's so brilliant. It is breathtaking. There should be a warning for listeners to ensure they stock up on oxygen tanks because they'll need them. Wings of Apollo are flying high indeed and making music like this it won't be long before they soar like the eagles of old!

Laurence Fox Shoudn't Be Sorry For His Words
The dashing Mr Fox has now released his EP Sorry For My Words. It features that first song he put out, Gunfight which I think caused him to be inundated for more. Where has he been hiding all this time? Well, he hasn't exactly been hiding I suppose. He is a successful actor and fatherhood has no doubt kept him rather busy.

I'm just happy we get to hear the awesome music he can make. Sorry For My Words is a gorgeous collection. You'll notice a familiar face in the video for So Be Damned. It is Laurence's cousin, fellow actress Emilia Fox. Now go and grab yourself a digital copy of the EP via iTunes >>here<<

I bought the EP from iTunes myself only yesterday and tweeted the woes of forgetting my iTunes password yet again. Almost every single time I buy stuff from there I forget it and have to reset. I suppose that is kind of extra secure as changing it so often means it's less likely to be hacked. Anywho, I included @LozzaFox in those tweets and he replied, 'get in!'. I am still on a high from this. Great stuff. Now go, buy these wonderful tunes.

Jesse Will
What another phenomenal find! So far away down on the other side of the globe but it would be so worth the trip to see this guy play live. AMAZING! It was thanks to the Facebook adverts again. Like with Andy Ruddy, an advert for Jesse's music page popped up while I was on the book of face. I clicked, I read, I watched, I listened. I am now hooked and need more. Luckily for me he has an EP due out imminently. In fact, he is playing a launch show for it on Friday 1st March but sadly that tricksy teleporter is on the blink so I'm unlikely to make it to Aukland in time. Sorry Jesse. Another time. I have Julie Lamb to catch live down in Wellington of course so I should get on with planning and saving for this trip shouldn't I? (Calling all those who would like to sponsor me again please? No-one? Well, you know where I'm at if you do!)

With quality like this, 2013 will be a huge year for Jesse and you'll be hearing lots more from him I have no doubt. More to come from him in future posts. Do keep up to date at his official Facebook page.



As a former member of the acclaimed Irish band Deanta, Mary is no stranger to music and listening to this debut solo album, you would not believe she has been absent from the scene for 15 years. The album was released on 4th February on Back Lane Records so I must apologise for the delay in sharing this. North is vibrant and so full of grace. It contains some wonderful traditional Irish folk songs which Mary delivers with an immaculate precision that enchants. As is only to be expected with many traditional songs, the subject matter is rarely on the cheery side of the spectrum. There is room for the more upbeat kind of song though, such as The Banks of Claudy. This track is infused with eloquent strings rooting it to the traditional. Even on songs such as this and the opener When A Man's In Love, Mary's voice rises above everything and still moves you, albeit it in a different and more gentle manner.

If forced to choose a favourite I'd say it would have to be Mary's original song The Boatman. This is easily one of the stand out tracks from an altogether very impressive record. It manages to capture you and pull you in. When Mary sings about that mist rolling in from the sea, you can feel it wrapping around you. It's cold and dark as it swallows up her dear beloved boatman. The fires lit on those shores roar with a ferocity at the loss. The fires are beacons of a desperate hope. The instrumental arrangement on the track is sublime. Let us also not forget the incredibly moving tale of John Condon. I've heard so many poignant songs over the years spanning so many different genres but I can honestly say I have never heard anything as truly moving as this one delivered via Mary's unique and beautiful voice. Likewise, The Month Of January deserves singling out too. 

Mary's is one of those voices you will want to hear sing to you ceaselessly. How she manages to pack such emotion and feeling into it is magnificent. It's as though she has some supernatural ability whereby her vocals wrap themselves around your heart. Depending on the accompanying musical arrangements and the subject matter in question your heart will be gently massaged or probed deeply to the core of your soul. She is deeply affecting, a crucial quality in the diluted music market we find ourselves in today. She may have been away for those 15 years but Mary Dillon is back and with North, she proves without any shadow of a doubt how she stands mountains above her contemporaries.


Once again I must start off with a sincere apology. Story was released way back at the start of January so it is near unforgiveable I am only just featuring it here now. You all know my issues with lack of time by now though but yes, I have slapped myself many times for being so slow with this one. It's madness considering how much I rate it. It is still in the car stereo so that alone shows how much I'm still enjoying listening to it after what amounts to about three months. Story is part one of a 22 song cycle collectively titled as The Long Lost Story. Part two should be out later this year.

This is a really interesting record. Opening track The Turns does just that. It turns in some way, incorporating a fair bit into this first four or so minute introduction to David Bronson's music. From the softer parts where his vocal gets to shine to the maniacal parts where he struggles to be heard. This is executed beautifully as the subject matter calls for something just like it. And that guitar riff in the final act is quite simply put, magnificent! The wild guitar and rockier tones continue with Times which feels very much like an extension of its predecessor. Now it is time for the journey to begin. So far, quite big in scope but don't get too comfortable just yet. This hectic feel is reigned in a little with If. The pace soon picks up again but producing something akin to what real pop music should sound like. That is before the rock guitar riffs return to dazzle you. 

Easier takes a step back, puts its feet up and pulls on the heart strings of contemporary Americana with perfect precision. It is a welcome change of pace and demonstrates a contemplative rest on this journey we've embarked upon. There's another explosion into heavier rock with The Ones. This is a fast-paced romp, razor sharp both in terms of its music and the lyrics. It's time for more melancholic contemplation with the stunning Us. I can really appreciate how amazing this must sound as a live acoustic song as part of a set. Complete with some outstanding backing vocals from Maria Neckham who must get credit for her flawless appearances throughout earlier tracks as well. Us is gentle and delicate. It jumps back into Americana with both feet on the back of some nifty bass. This is a standout track for sure. Momentary too, contains so much within it you can't but keep putting it back on to discover new gems that blend together so seamlessly.  

Just when you think all the avenues this journey will take have been explored you're cast Adrift. This is yet another standout track managing to launch you up as if on to a comfortable cloud filled with fluffy calmness. Let yourself be guided by this marvelous music. Float away and enjoy it completely, as is intended. Likewise with Outside. The gentler tones persist and Maria Neckham gets her own solo lines. After all of her exquisite backing vocals so far, these bring with them a tremendous depth. Unending (Underture) brings the album to an adequate close and it is in direct contrast to its opening. The journey has been somewhat a rollercoaster but Unending puts it nicely at rest. End of Part One. To Be Continued...

I must admit Story isn't an album I put on and loved instantly. After really soaking up the talented offerings of David Bronson though, it is one that did grow on me very quickly indeed. That is the most important thing here and where it differs from many other 'growers'. I really wanted to listen again and again. You may well love it instantly but even if it takes a listen or two to bed in, after a couple of times you will wonder why on earth it took you so long. Then you will just keep on listening to it. Like I mentioned, it is one of only two albums I've put in the car that has remained there for quite a number of months. Mixed by legendary producer Godfrey Diamond (Lou Reed, Aerosmith) the end result is well-accomplished and I'm left excited about part two.


Just before I manage to completely collapse this page thanks to all the bits I'm embedding to share I have a couple more things to add that really need your attention.

John Grant
I was fortunate enough to catch John live at Beautiful Days a few years ago and he is mesmerizing. I love his debut album Queen of Denmark which he brings completely to life on stage with his flawless performances. Pale Green Ghosts is the follow up and due out next month. This video proves it is going to be something special. John is also over in the UK on tour in May so don't miss out. Believe me, it is well worth it!

It is wonderful to watch how Bellowhead get their loyal hoards of fans jigging about on their feet. With music so incredibly jig-inducing it is not surprising and none more so than with this video for the latest single from their most recent award-winning album Broadside.

This 11-piece juggernaut of a band are without much doubt one of the best live acts around and this video showcases them in their element live at a sold out Glasgow gig. Bellowhead will be setting out on a UK tour in November. Yes, it is quite a while away yet but given it is only days away until March hits it will be here before you know it. With their tendency to sell out venues you'd be wise to grab your tickets in good time.

07/11 - Bury St Edmunds - The Apex                               08/11 - Warrington - Parr Hall
09/11 - Cheltenham - Town Hall                                       10/11 - Blackburn - King George's Hall 
11/11 - Aylesbury - Waterside Theatre                              12/11 - Birmingham - Symphony Hall
13/11 - Guildford - G Live                                                14/11 - Bedford - Corn Exchange
15/11 - Wrexham - William Aston Hall                              16/11 - Portsmouth - Guildhall
17/11 - Exeter - Great Hall                                               18/11 - Truro - Hall for Cornwall
19/11 - Frome - Cheese & Grain                                      20/11 - Leicester - De Montfort Hall
21/11 - Aberystwyth - Arts Centre                                   22/11 - Chesterfield - Winding Wheel
23/11 - Folkestone - Leas Cliff Hall   

Paul McClure is a Master of War
Well not literally of course but I think you'll agree how mighty fine his version of the classic Bob Dylan song is. What a treat this is. Paul has recently gone solo and is signed with Clubhouse Records whom I rate very highly so get checking out more from Paul and other acts on this wonderful label. I shall be keeping my own eye on Paul and feature more on him in the coming months. In the meantime, I think this cover is stunning!


The Spiral Earth Awards 2013 *CAST YOUR VOTES PLEASE*
Please please please get to this website and vote for your favourites across the categories because votes like this from the public, from fans themselves really means a huge amount to bands and artists.

This mention here is particularly for you to consider voting for the hugely talented and rather wonderful man that is Nick Burbridge. He is nominated for Best Songwriter and you can read more about why I've personally voted for Nick by reading that post >>here<<.

My appeal here is to point out that although an incredibly strong contender, Nick is a complete outsider insofar as promotion and being out on the gig circuit goes. His unique and poignant songs rarely secure much in the way of high profile airplay and he does not enjoy the support and back up that comes to most in the business. Further, I'd like to point out a few important things about his recent album Gathered, which secured him this nomination. It was made at zero cost; publicised entirely from home; reviewed only on merit; and with nothing more in mind than the desire to fulfill a creative need in writing songs. From the numerous albums I was introduced to last year I selected Gathered as one of a select few top favourites. This is because here is a quality Nick brings to the table that in between records is sadly missed and rarely, if ever, matched. Get yourself to the bandcamp page where you can listen to Gathered in full then hop on to the Spiral Earth Awards website and support this outsider to win an award he so clearly deserves.


Go go Emo mighty moshin emo rangers! Yes, that's right. This is actually a thing! Awesome stuff! Seriously, this is an actual thing. No, this is not what I've been working on since the last blogcast. If it had have been though, I'd be mightily impressed with the results.

And that just about wraps things up folks. I really had better draw this blogcast to a close. Sincere apologies for all delays but these are just a given when juggling a full time job and all the rest of it. I'm still absolutely loving it all so there will be tons more to come. I'll have the Luke Jackson at The Stables gig review up in a matter of days. This will be followed by the fourth and final part of my overview/review of 2012 (yes finally). Then there's the blogcast for podcast #13, which as mentioned is already live so I have made a start on that.

As always there's heaps more stuff I want to share right now but there must be an end at some point. Peace to you all and thanks for your continued support!

Monday, 11 February 2013


Howdy again. Back so soon I hear you shout in a unison of utter amazement. Indeed. Most of this was already written. Can you imagine if I had attempted to fit all of this into one gigantic post? Madness. Brevity is key these days with our dwindling attention spans so they say. Ah, rubbish! It is because people pander to this false conception that things are now so very short. This in turn makes people have shorter attention spans so it is almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy I'd say. Dear me. I hadn't intended to get so serious there. I can be brief where necessary but this is my blog so I guess I can ramble on as much as I like. You still seem to keep coming back for more so I must be doing something right, uh? A huge thank you from me for your attention, by the way. If there were no readers there would be little point in me carrying on. And even when I do end up spending the majority of my free time putting everything together and then getting frustrated, I just cannot stop. I don't get annoyed too often but hey, I'm human and so especially when Blogger seems to be playing up, or I can't get videos to embed properly and the clock ticks past midnight and all I've done since getting in from work at 6pm is sit at the laptop it can all get on top of me somewhat. There's just too much great music out there to not share it though.

Now, I've finished this latest part of the overview/review it is time to go outside and throw snowballs. Maybe even build a snowman. Yes folks, the UK has been hit by another colossal load of snow. I was supposed to be heading over to Banbury for a birthday afternoon but as is to be expected, the UK grinds to a halt when such weather hits. I will reschedule that planned sojourn, put my feet up (in the vain hope they will warm up at least a little) and enjoy some Fraggle Rock...erm I mean, Game of Thrones. What the heck, I'll watch both! The old Gods and the new, if you like. Hope you enjoy the below. Please share and buy some music from the below bands, get to gigs as and when they're local. Music really does make the world go round and it makes life so much better.


The Scholars
These guys are the business! I have shared many a post and retweeted countless tweets on Twitter about them and what they've been up to over the past nine or so months. I must also convey again how hugely grateful I am for the email interview Adrian and Chris took part in for a special blog post last year (which you can read >>here<<).

I finally got myself along to a gig of theirs at AKA in Banbury recently. This was the closing night of a bunch of gigs promoting the release of their most recent single, Love The Thunder. It is another top tune demonstrating why they need to be signed up to a label and quick smart! Sadly, as Adrian points out in the interview, record bosses aren't taking any risks on new indie acts these days no matter how much talent they display for all to see. It is a crime but an unfortunate and negative result of the current digital age. This is a band that would so pay off! Nevertheless and after downsizing from 5 to 3 members, The Scholars burst back on to the indie scene last October with the release of their first new FREE single Wired. Check it out below and grab your own copy via their bandcamp page. They are shrewd folk when it comes to the business and know exactly where they want to be but also accept the mountain of a challenge it is to get there. In the face of the huge changes across the whole industry they decided to release their latest material as individual singles as opposed to one EP. This means more frequent press for them too as just as the hype from one single is starting to diminish a little, it is time to launch the next.

Playing live last week they rocked big time, closing the set with what I guess has become quite a signature tune, Turbulence. Taken from the independent film of the same name, the band's music was also featured in it.  That was then and this is now, and now they have a catalogue of tunes that pull music fans up close and personal. Considering there are only three of them up there on the stage, they punch out a clear alternative rock sound to match any of the larger established contemporary acts out there. After supporting the likes of The Boxer Rebellion and countless other top bands in the past, what now needs to happen - and it should only be a matter of time (and a short time at that) - is for other big bands to give them a supporting slot on a forthcoming tour. Then will come that all-important signing which the guys are more than ready for as they continue to work on new stuff and plan more shows further afield. To be honest, the Editors who have their fourth studio album due out later this year could do a lot worse than sign them up to support them on their next promotional tour.

This alternative rock band have such an original and unique way to sell and share their music. Think pioneers in these new uncertain times. In a similar vain to The Scholars I guess, with adapting to the way things seem to be going. Getting proactive rather than plodding along in a reactive way. Releasing their album via sets of two track 7" vinyls, fans can snap these up at gigs or via the awesomely named official website That is not all either. The digital online world is spreading ever wider and swallowing up more or less all areas of modern life. As important as holding on to the past is and producing something as unique (for new and current bands these days anyway) as these 7" vinyls via which to sell their work, each purchase comes with a code for fans to gain access to the MP3s, videos and extra footage of each song. See what I mean about being proactive and well, damn cool to be fair. It is a new and creative way to market themselves. Could this be the new way to do it? With vinyl seemingly making a comeback to some degree, I'd say it is likely.

Furthermore, to have supported the likes of Incubus and Muse, heck if you've not heard of fiN before now brace yourself because this year I'm pretty certain you will. Although they hadn't originally planned to, due to huge popular demand I believe the band are releasing an album download. This will collect together the singles they released individually throughout 2012.

I mentioned when selecting Eve as one of my top favourite songs of 2012, how each and every tune they put out is so very different. Again, you can pretty much throw out any attempt to pigeonhole them. They play heavy, they play soft, they do instrumental and when they venture into the realm of general pop, it is pop the way it should be done! I say it about all acts I feature and enjoy so very much but I NEED to see them live and soon. I am still waiting for that expense account for gigs but you know what? fiN are a band I would hitch hike to go see if I couldn't afford to make it. Such is their quality.

This indie outfit from Derby amazed and dazzled me with their debut self-titled album packed to the hilt with indie classic after indie classic. There's a real feel that yet again, this is another band who have come out to produce something rather unique in a world where let's face it, things often do end up sounding the same. Listening to this album for me is like a wondrous journey. Starting with an invasive but very welcome punch with Three Words, it never stops offering up one delight after another.

I've made it well known how much I dig With Landscapes in particular. While I rate all the others this one is a special stand out track, demonstrating with such clarity the extent of talent within this band. The exciting thing is there is not too much longer to wait until the release of follow up album, Horizons. The first single from this was released late last year and was featured in the previous post. 

Everyone needs a bit more hardcore rock in their lives. Look no further and pump it up with the banging sounds from this Cannock-based 5-piece. The three tunes I've come to play over and over again for quite some time now are so tightly produced I'm surprised they are not yet signed up. Understandably there has been a lot of interest so come on execs and bosses, get signing that dotted line already and get these guys producing a full album and out on a UK-wide tour. The UK, no...even the world needs some Lightfire in their lives.

The band recently launched their Run Aground EP with a sold out gig where they no doubt blew the roof of the building off with such force, it's a good job the moon was not directly above or it would have been pushed out of its orbit. Think of the problems with the tides that would have resulted. Still, even if that had have happened it would have been totally worth it to hear these guys play the way they were meant to. And while they are very hard and very loud, their melodies are elegant and they bring out a softness and delicacy that fully compliments their sound. Stunning work!

They also have  that all important Lightfire Man Championship title belt they compete against each other for. Great stuff! and you can purchase Run Aground from iTunes >>here<<.

Out of Fiction  was one of the first iTunes downloads I purchased after finding this hard alternative rock group on Twitter at the beginning of my twitter musical experience. So technically this EP was originally released in 2011 but after getting signed to Engineer Records at about the time I bought this, they relaunched the debut with a number of live shows. They then went through a bit of a drastic change in line-up having to find and gel with a new drummer and bass player. For many, such a major shake-up may have signalled the end of a band even after only having just been signed up. But no! Remaining members Adam Smart and James Wells kept their feet firmly on the ground and rooted to making a success of IRIS.

They are another favourite band who cater for my harder rock sounds although they're by no means one trick ponies. Their tunes are diverse, interesting and bang on what I need to blow the cobwebs away at the end of a rubbish day. One of my particular favourite songs of theirs, The Shade is much less harder sounding but  still packs a mighty good punch. Spine-tinglingly (is that a word? it should be) amazing guitar too! Citing Chuck Norris and Alan Partridge among their influences they have humour by the boat load. As they've now settled into this new line-up they play and produce music of the utmost quality. There's a shed load of live dates up on the website so make sure you get along to a show if they're playing anywhere near you. I am keeping my eyes on the dates for one that I can get to I can assure you.

The Slow Readers Club
These guys are completely mesmerizing! The sheer scale of quality from their versatile electric guitar coupled with Aaron Starkie's captivating lead vocal probe so deep, their music embeds itself in your soul upon the first listen. It refuses to let go so that songs like Follow Me Down will be playing themself on your mind radio for months to come. Keeping you company when you need a decent tune to block out the gloom of places you're not able to hear such music. Their songs provide the kind of range you long for from a band. There's upbeat tunes so catchy your legs will be on the move into a jig, down to the hugely emotive and darker brooding ballads mixed in with electro masterpieces.  They offer hope that there are bands out there with something original to offer. They have been likened to Interpol and Editors which are very worthy comparisons indeed but I must stress there's nothing samey about them. What I'd like to see is a joint-gig with The Slow Readers Club and The Scholars on the bill. What an amazing line-up that would be. 

You should preview their debut self-titled album above and then buy a copy via whichever format suits you best. Make sure you catch them live when they gig too because this is the kind of band to put on that kind of gig which burns itself into your memory for eternity. To purchase via iTunes click >>here<<. For other methods visit the link at their website >>here<<.

Pawns or Kings
From full on rock to this gentler indie folk band from The Ozarks in the US. Their song Come To Pass (in time) from their EP Letters to Lucy is now firmly one of my favourite songs of all time. I can never play it just the once and it will not be uncommon to start playing it when I get in from work, hit that repeat button and to still be listening to it hours later. They have so many more tunes to be proud of too though so do check them all out for yourselves. While I do enjoy hearing original work from all bands I come to follow, covers can always provide something interesting. Particularly when they are made all their own and strikingly different. Pawns or Kings recently covered He Doesn't Know Why by Fleet Foxes. The reason? Well, Ed from the band had the song stuck on loop in his head for quite some time and was finding it difficult to move on from it. So this cover version and video was produced, helping him move beyond it. I have just played it on my headphones at full volume. Goosebumps aplenty. Amazing!

As far as I am aware Pawns or Kings do still have a full length album due out at some point this year so keep those ears wide open for news on that. I will share it as soon as I have it. In the meantime, you can stream a live set they performed recently in which you can view by clicking >>here<<. It was a real delight getting to watch this one night a few weeks ago. And then again that following weekend. I will most likely watch it again too, such is my enthusiasm for these guys. Follow the link if you'd like to check it out. The sound quality is pretty amazing.

The second video is one of Ed's original songs. His attempt at a love song he says. I think you'll agree he pretty much nailed it! There is so much more to enjoy from Pawns or Kings so please get on board. Like, tweet and share galore.

Under A Banner
Back to my own neck of the woods with Under A Banner who I played on the very first podcast I did. I've been following these guys fairly closely since March last year and their album The Ragged Rhythm of Rain is one you should seriously add to your collection. You can purchase a hard copy direct from their website or click below as you sample it to take you to their bandcamp page where you can get a digital download, if that's more your thing. It is a stunning collection of lyrical poetry and marvelous musicianship. There are a number of live dates up on the website so please do get along if you're near because live music is where it's at. This is what the songs were written for and how they are truly meant to be experienced.

As time moves on, things just keep going skywards for Under A Banner. They shared the beautiful artwork at their Facebook page for the digital digital release of their song Some Stories, which has been selected to be a charity single for Help For Heroes. It will be released on May 4th and there has been a video shoot too so I'm really looking forward to seeing that when it is unveiled. It is a really moving song so do have a listen to it below.

Right! It is time to get brief I'm afraid so I will ramble on much less below and just share a few more great bands you should be checking out and listening to.

The Black Feathers

What a find this contemporary folk duo has been! Amazing! Stunning! Just beautiful. I was gutted they had to cancel their gig last Friday but I've been going to gigs for years now and fully appreciate this had to be done. What is most important is that Sian gets herself better and doesn't risk damaging her voice if she had have gone on to perform that evening. Having experience of artists playing when they're clearly not well, I know this decision was not made lightly at all and only at the final point it was obvious rest was needed. I was gutted, but on a selfish level for myself because of how wonderful The Black Feathers are and how much I wanted to see them. Not to worry though as they are playing two gigs in my county in April. I should be there for them both. Now get listening and sharing folks. They have just hit #1 in the UK folk chart on Reverbnation so get in on the action if you haven't already!

Boat To Row
A bunch of hugely talented young contemporary indie folk musicians make up this juggernaut of a group. Not to be missed!

And few more quick shares that cannot be excluded:

Arcane Roots

The Como Brothers Band

Face The King

Echo and Drake



As always, my apologies for those I couldn't include but I will be sharing so much music over the coming year you will no doubt get featured here and there. I finally feel like I'm almost there with concluding this review then with just the live music section to go. That is pretty much all written up already with just one more gig to add and a tweak here and there. Then Band of Badgers Presents...#12 will finally make it to the blog and #13 to follow which I am currently recording. Busy busy busy. You wouldn't think today was my birthday. I don't know what a proper day off looks like anymore but I'm really not complaining. 


PART I   >>here<<
PART II  >>here<<
PART IV >>here<<