Sunday, 24 March 2013


<Brrrrrr> Yes, I am still up here in the clouds. I made the mistake one evening last week of checking out a few videos of Sigur Ros at their recent UK shows. I did this not even for my own personal, selfish enjoyment but to find a couple to include in a blog post. Alas, I found myself unable to stop watching them. Reliving such a transcendental musical experience is not something one can just stop doing, once started. And thus any hope of me coming  back down to Earth for the foreseeable future have now been torpedoed out of the ocean. There's just too much snow down there right now anyways. I am well above the snowline up here. Cold, yes but I now have a fully insulated duffle coat. As almost a whole month after that gig I still cannot shut up about the AMAZING Sigur Ros, it is only right I should share a recent Press Release (<<click there) with y'all. Yes, it is some news on their next album Kveikur - due out in June (jeez, try saying that fast after a few beers). They have also announced some more UK and European gig dates for later in the year. After this last time I think I will need to get this fix in November or else wallow in despair at the vacuousness of life without Sigur Ros live! If only I could afford to get myself to Norway for that Oslo show on 28th November. I could attempt to combine it with seeing the Northern Lights. That would be it for me. I would never get back down from that experience.

On a serious note, this snow is now beyond a joke. I'm not one for moaning about it usually. This is the UK. This is our weather. Plus, it is a natural thing. Nature does as nature wishes based on how nature is operating (although I'm a believer in climate change and the mess of crap humanity has done and is doing to the world). Science. Meteorolgy more specifically, I think. Get over it. However, I will have a little whinge today because the snow the UK had yesterday prevented me traveling to Leamington Spa to see Stornoway at The Assembly. Gutted! I have only been looking forward to this gig for like, 18 months! The snow wasn't too bad in places but some of the roads I'd need to navigate on the way were treacherous. Add to that the sub sub sub zero temperatures making it all an ice-filled death trap late at night for the return drive and I just had to choose the safe option. As boring as that is, I do value my life. Still absolutely gutted though. Less annoyed about it being the snow's fault and more so about the lack of quality live music in Northampton. I still need to look into this more so but no bands I enjoy seem to really play here. It is frustrating. Anywho, I'm hoping I can catch the Stornoway boys at one of the four festivals I'm hoping to get my ass to this summer. Unless we really are in the lands of Westeros (Game of Thrones, apologies to you non-geeks), there should be no snow then. Although, I remind myself of the country I live in and the last six wash-out summer seasons we've had. I know we will all be moaning if a full on three month Indian Summer hits but bring it on, I say. Please!

Right, enough waffleage for now. I have so much music to share with you and MUST MUST MUST crack on with blogcast #13 as well. So I'll be limiting my waffle below. Enjoy!

This wonderful local indie rock band from Wolverhampton have had their moving song about a soldier, Some Stories, chosen to be an official charity song for Help For Heroes. It isn't released until May 4th but the video was released via YouTube a few weeks ago. Please please please view, like and share this wonderful piece of musical film and help promote the track for the release in May. A lot of hard work went into producing this and the quality reflects this. It's such a fantastic tune as well. One of my favourites from the band's album The Ragged Rhythm of Rain. You can get a digital download of this smashing album for just £4.99 from Under A Banner's bandcamp page >>here<<.

Also please check out all the gig dates on the band's own website and get yourself along if you're local to any. It is a crime I'm still yet to get to one myself but this is purely a logistics issue or else I'd be at more than just the one. My time will come and I really can't wait for it. In fact, I'm incredibly jealous of you folk who are near these current batch of dates. Always keep up to date as more will no doubt be going up over the coming weeks and months.

One gig, in particular that will be spectacular is the one at The Victoria Inn in Derby next month. For just three little pound coins you will have a superb night of live music. Support will be in the form of alternative rock band The Standby Setting who you can sample out below.

Friday 19th April - The Hole in the Wall - Shrewsbury
Friday 26th April - The Victoria Inn - Derby
Sunday 5th May - Woody's Music Bar - Hednesford
Thursday 30th May - The Islington - Islington, London
Saturday 1st June - The Old Beams - Stourport on Seven
Sunday 7th July - The Robin 2 - Bilston (Supporting Quill)
Friday 2nd August -The Shakespeare Street - Stratford Upon Avon

The Standby Setting

Picture taken from Aidan's Facebook page.
Another charity single I included on the blog and in a podcast a while back is Let Them Know from Belfast-based singersongwriter Aidan Logan. While on the subject of charity singles I thought it appropriate to mention it again here. It is heartfelt and full to bursting with emotion. Pips is a cause for suicide prevention and as with all charities, needs the kindness and generosity of folk to help it achieve its aims.

More recently, I've heard the finished version of what will be the first single to be released from Aidan's forthcoming debut album and it is a treat! I have to remain ssshhhh'd for the moment but the release of the single is imminent so you can share my excitement soon enough. In the meantime and to appease you why not have a listen to this free download Aidan self-produced. I've included it before but for those new readers or those who aren't reading posts in any particular order here it is again for you.

You can also download the song from Aidan's bandcamp page >>here<<.

Pic from fiN Facebook page -
On Monday 25th March one of my top bands from last year, fiN, release a digital download of their album Life Is Wasted On The Living. There is no limit to the quality these guys have. Their music is so rich and diverse. They don't rest on one sound, or one particular genre-defining concept. They remain indie to the core as well, which is humbling in today's messed up music market. Especially for a band that is so damn good! I don't believe an album release of this nature was ever pre-planned. Instead, fiN release their music in a truly unique and independent manner. No doubt it is down to the phenomenal demand for their music. Such phenomenal music will always induce a phenomenal response of course.

The whole lot here is nothing short of brilliance and perfection! There are always going to be places for musicians as strong as this to go in their future development but these really do have a complete package already. From instrumental The Artisan, which borders on progressive to the heavy rock infused pop of Rapture through to the divine Eve and beyond. There  really is something for everyone here. If you want to learn a bit more about the guys behind fiN and how the songs came together I highly recommend the 11 minute documentary below. It is enlightening. Then go buy the album via iTunes by clicking >>here<<.

If only their album launch gig was on Friday 5th or Sunday 7th I would have got my ass down to London so fast I would have left trail marks. I'm venturing down to see actor/singer-songwriter Iwan Rheon at Bush Hall on the Saturday night so would have made it a marvelous mega music weekend. Not to worry. My time will come soon.

What a fabulous tune Spotlight is. As you know I get lots of bands and artists following me on Twitter and I'm always grateful for them interacting and sending me links to their music to check out. This is precisely what Jonny Andrew from The Varese's did. Naturally, it is not possible to listen to everything as it comes through nor to feature it all. I really would if I could folks but I just don't have the time. Unless there's any music publication or radio station out there that wants to give me a job to do this all the time. I'll work 24/7 if so. Seriously! I do try my hardest to work through everything but there will most often always be some kind of delay.

Anywho, without digressing into the woes of lack of time as I always do (but cannot help it), I'll shut up and share this official music video for Spotlight from this tremendous indie rock band from Liverpool. Much more to come from these guys in the future.

Having featured on my podcast a couple of times already, it was only right we caught up with what's going on down under with the Lavers brothers Dom and Sebastian. My thanks to Dom for including me in the mail out alerting us to this latest new single from the band, I've Been Waiting. Recorded at Studios 301 in Sydney with producer Simon Todkill (Matt Corby, Kanye West, Catcall) it is another impressive tune from Lavers.

Now after enjoying this beauty why not get along to iTunes and buy a few of their awesome EPs please? Click >>here<< and support such brilliant indie music.

From the summer sun of down under all the way back to my snowed in doorstep of Northamptonshire now. Lew Bear tweeted this cover he put up on his Reverbnation page yesterday and I have fallen totally in love with it, if I'm being honest. It is a wonderful cover of Carleko's Jimmy Hammer Fist. It is breathtaking. It may well be that I am living most of my free time in George R R Martin's fictional Game of Thrones world of Westeros but listening to this song put me instantly in mind of it. I'd been there reading yes but it is as though listening to this song from Lew Bear somehow physically transports me there. I can feel the icy winter winds biting and I don't mean our own poor excuse for winter that doesn't seem to want to release its grip. It reminds me of the song played as the closing credits rolled to season 2 episode 9's Battle of Blackwater. Astounding.

I'm only a week late for this one! Still, it's now here so go get it folks and support this great local indie rock band. These guys are based around Aylesbury, Northampton and Dunstable. I would totally have gone to see them play on February 9th but I was booked up to see the marvelous Luke Jackson in Milton Keynes. My eyes are on their future gig dates though, so I will make it at some point this year. Their website describes them as The Stone Roses meets The Rolling Stones with an Oasis attitude. Check them out for yourselves and stop missing out. I'm really digging this, their official video for this latest single release. It is quality. 

Those Derby lads are back with yet another tune from their forthcoming second album that will knock you over with the sheer force of its excellence. It is awesome and has something really different added to the band's regular mix which makes it that extra bit special. I could barely contain my excitement for Horizons after hearing the last single, High Lights. If possible, this has taken my level of excitement up so high I'm soaring through the clouds. It is available right now via all the platforms. iTunes, Amazon and Spotify for starters.


OMG! AMAZING band! SENSATIONAL music! I love The Boxer Rebellion like you would not believe and yet they are still relatively new to me. I have Chris from The Scholars to thank for pointing me in their direction and recommending their album Union. Featuring them here just briefly to make you aware of a FREE 6-track EP they are giving away. This in return for you joining their mailing list. Given how stunning this music is, it is the least they should be requesting from you. It could be a rouse but it is a very clever one indeed. The EP features two tracks from their three previous albums in preparation for the release of their new one later this year. By signing up to the mailing list you will be notified first of any updates from the band. Those to do with the new album, videos, gig dates and tickets for these. After seeing The Last Republic play a cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence at Truck Festival last year it took about seven or eight months for me to remove a Depeche Mode CD from the car stereo. Hearing The Boxer Rebellion's cover of that song makes me want to return it there.

I had fully intended to share this particular video on the last blogcast for podcast #12 but with how everything all comes down on top of me as I hurry to get them published, I did miss it. My bad, I know. This song was on Perry's second EP up on bandcamp which you can grab FREE >>here<<. You should also grab yourself his first one, Ropes. I'm a big fan of all his music but I absolutely LOVE this particular song!

Perry played at The Bullingdon Arms in Oxford last Thursday as part of an event run by New Music Connection. I'll have more details on that and hopefully some videos that will be going up soon. Not from me however. Unfortunately due to my day job, finances and the distance I was unable to get down to Oxford for it.

Something completely different to what I usually tend to share or play. Equally magnificent though! This is another one where the band sent me a tweet to check it out. I LOVE it! It sounds so big. I love how the electronic dance sounds come together. It's akin to a quality trance track complete with breakdown, yet with better vocals. Here I sit at my laptop writing away and it has me wanting to get on up and actually dance. Without having had a alcoholic drink to boot! I'm looking forward to more from You Can't Dance and will be sharing more in due course. Now say BYE and get up and dance. Download it for FREE too.

I guess what I really loved when I heard this was how it isn't like the run of the mill stuff that is out there in this genre already. That is the most important thing and should help these guys distinguish themselves from the rest.

Sorry, I'm a little late sharing this one too. I did play Parachute on podcast #13, which although I'm still yet to get the blogcast up online at least the podcast is available. I'm working as fast as I can but in the meantime I just had to share these fantastic songs from The Como Brothers Band's recently released EP Still Waters. This is quality music of the highest calibre. It is all very much self-produced and independent to the core as well. Their achievements are astounding quite frankly. 

While relaxing and enjoying these top tunes please please please lend your support and vote for these guys to play the Warped Tour. You can do this by visiting this BATTLE OF THE BANDS page >>here<< and following the instructions. The members of the band will be hugely grateful to you. As with almost ALL the artists I feature, they rely on your kind support to get them further and further with their music and they don't forget this. It is what makes them different and better than many of the 'top' bands who are signed to big labels.

Back to their astounding achievements thus far. There's more to come as their music is about to feature on the premiere of MTV's Real World Portland - March 27th.

More on this band another time as this post is turning into a longer one than the blogcasts. Typical me isn't it? A few things to share becomes a mountain of things to share. After hearing this only today I just have to include it though because it is lashings more of the beautiful Q-word - QUALITY! A stunning and breathtaking song. This bodes extremely well for Summa's future.


To bring things to a close I've opted to share an episode of a Vlog I've recently started following. Or should that be vlogisode rather than episode? Mere details.....Daniel Kai is an all-round entertainer who also happens to be a part of a new musical project called Waiting For Hollywood. More on the band side of things another time as I should be able to bring you an EXCLUSIVE live acoustic performance.

This vlogisode is of the utmost importance to EVERYONE in the WHOLE world so please make sure you watch it, take down the crucial zombie survival tips and then share it on.

I too, happen to be a huge geek for The Walking Dead. I think it is the utter grimness I seem to love so much. And of course watching people get eaten to death alive. I don't quite know what that says about me but there it is. Kai's take on it here is hilarious and the characters he slots in throughout demonstrate how talented he is at this entertainment business. 

Don't forget - take down these tips! Geeks like us know what we're talking about when it comes to this. When it comes to Z-Day (Zombie Apocalypse (and you know it is a when, not an if)) we will no longer be laughed at. We will be the ones who survive the longest. Hopefully. Maybe.....Erm..... Whatever happens, you're more likely to survive after watching this awesome video than if you don't watch it. Do the sensible thing and hit subscribe to Its Daniel Kai when you've watched and shared it.

One thing that sticks with me - NEVER LISTEN TO MICHAEL JACKSON's THRILLER!! Musical dancing zombies are even more freaky!

Until next time folks, blogcast #13 - ciao. Unless of course Z-Day arrives. *shudders*

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Hey folks. Apologies for not being a tad more brief and being able to complete this overview/review all in one post way back in January. That would have been much neater and more appropriate. But then of course I would have no doubt missed out even more than I already did with those top albums that started it all off. And yes, I know we are now half way through March already (a whole quarter of the way through) but you know, technically if we take it to be the financial year, I am still in time. Cutting it thin I know. There's just so much to look back on and include! It actually makes me dizzy doing so. The year went so quickly and don't even get me started on the speed this one is going at. When thinking about Luke Ritchie's The Water's Edge being the first album I reviewed back in early March I'm like WTFing at this crazy time speed. Surely there must be some kind of 'Big Bad' The Doctor needs to come and sort out. Could it be The Rani did not perish during that Last Great Time War, and is now somehow siphoning off our time? I remember writing that review up just before going to Wales for a weekend break. While there I watched the awesome Norwegian film Troll Hunter. Not sure that needs to be expressed here but if you haven't seen it yet, you should do! I can't recall if it was last year I first saw Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, or if it was 2011. No matter, it is one of those films I can (and do) watch over and over. Again, if you've not seen it, give it a try. Oh dear. Digressing once more. And so early on too. There is no hope! 

Let's crack on before Christmas really does come to smack us in the face again. Do make yourself comfortable and put those feet up. Grab a nice cup of tea or coffee, a beer or glass of wine perhaps. Once again, the below are those that really stuck out as something special last year. However, that doesn't mean I hold any of the other gigs, bands or artists in any less esteem. I'm passionate about live music and enjoy pretty much each and every gig as something unique and individual. As with the albums, I will undoubtedly miss some and for this I apologise in advance.


Editors - Birmingham - June
Their latest album has been a long time coming. Originally scheduled for release in October 2012, the departure of Chris Urbanowicz last April set this back and the date has since been revised to some time this year. This gig, one of only two UK dates in Birmingham, had all the same electrifying energy of previous shows. There is something deeply mesmerizing about Tom Smith! As band frontman he exudes such charisma, captivating all in attendance and holding us all in thrall. Oh yes, he maintains a trademark intensity that reverberates out from the stage in tidal waves. The set list included many fan favourites from the previous three albums as well as a few of the new tunes, like Sugar and Nothing. Even with Chris gone now, they sound strong and musically tight. Absolutely fucking* amazing! The band have not long returned from Nashville where they've been recording. Various festival announcements have been made including Reading and Leeds amongst many European ones. *expletive wholly necessary

Thanks to a work colleague who is a friend of the band, I did have the opportunity to attend a big charity gig they were a part of last December (along with The Courteeners, The Temper Trap & others). Sadly due to the timing, finances and work I was unable to make it. Curse my situation!! Come on someone, give me a job doing this please! Apologies. *composes self before continuing* Needless to say when they tour the new album later this year I will certainly be there. At least once, possibly twice, maybe even more. Thankfully the Editors are a band who have been consistent in producing something different with each album so far. It's always better, yes, but with the differences they adopt and utilize, what came before remains as powerful. If that makes sense? I'm really quite excited about this new album and it is definitely going to be one of the highlights of 2013, musically, I think.

Luke Jackson - Rugby - October
This young man possesses such a power it belies his youth. I'm not afraid to admit I was quite moved by his sensational performance at this solo gig at Rugby Roots Club. I am very much a fan of Luke and believe this year his level of exposure is going to go stratospheric. Not wanting to miss out and given how much I thoroughly enjoyed this October gig I bagged my tickets for his recent local solo show at The Stables in Milton Keynes last month. Even though money is scarce these days and I will have to be even more selective about the gigs I attend this year, there was just no way I was missing out on this one!

I won't repeat my review here other than to point you in its direction >>here<<. It is quite a thorough one at that but I think the quality of what Luke offers music fans deserves a complete and full appraisal. I will say that if this is your kind of music, or even if it isn't what you may typically enjoy, if you go see Luke live you will come away feeling moved I assure you. That power he has possesses some magic that will have you wanting more and quick smart.

There are number of dates up on his website so if he's somewhere near you it makes sense for you to get to a show. It does not make sense to miss out on what will be a musical highlight of 2013 for you. There will of course be more dates going up as the year goes on. Meanwhile and to keep right up to date head to Luke's Facebook page and give it a like. He's regularly posting updates including many a new video. Oh and you can also read my review of the outstanding gig at The Stables >>here<<.

Shearwater - Brighton - March
I've been a fan of this US indie folk rock band ever since stumbling across them thanks to the name of a character in a book I was reading in 2008 (The Castle series by Steph Swainston). I bought their album Rook, which was out that year and I have been hooked ever since. For me, Rook will always be my personal favourite from them but 2012's Animal Joy has some top tunes on it too. Seeing them play live was a dream realised. They didn't do too many dates in the UK but this one in Brighton happened to coincide with me seeing a play about Anne Boleyn there. I snapped up tickets as soon as I saw it advertised and had music writing/coverage been my job I would have been in London for their return in November. Shearwater are underrated in my opinion but they have a loyal fan base spanning the globe. Live, they were superb even though there were a few big changes to the line-up. Didn't matter in the slightest however, as they played like they'd all been together forever. These guys are definitely on the list of bands you MUST try out! Leviathan, Bound shuffled on to my iPod shuffle on a walk home from work just recently. Sublime!

Winter Mountain - Leamington Spa - March
Now, these guys were a real find! I usually tend to read up on the support acts for most shows I attend and check out a few of their tunes beforehand. Not so much to sing along, more to familiarize myself with the sound. I didn't get chance to do this for this Seth Lakeman gig in March so Winter Mountain were a true surprise on the night. Two such interesting and genuinely lovely guys who met while backpacking across the US in opposite directions. They both hopped on a train to Memphis (I think, if memory serves me correct), got talking and the rest is history. Their performance completely blew me away and this year should see them release their debut album on Cara Dillon's Charcoal Records. To whet your appetite you should grab their EP from iTunes by clicking >>here<<. If they happen to be billed to play near you, either as headline or support then make sure you go see them. You will thank me for telling you to do so afterwards.

Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou - Oxford (Tom McRae) - November
I could have seen this duo at Truck Festival in July had I not been my regular self regards organization. Organized chaos is the way I work, at times, and to be fair it has stood me in good stead. If it's not broke don't fix it. Well, perhaps a tweek here and there wouldn't hurt. I have a diary this year in which I'm being ultra (perhaps just under ultra if I'm honest) organized. Anyway, I'd booked my Tom McRae ticket as soon as he announced he was touring solo to promote Part 2 of his Alphabet of Hurricanes album, From The Lowlands. As always Tom was magnificent but I've reserved this mention for the support because they were phenomenal. Trevor and Hannah-Lou's vocals come together so effortlessly and produce sounds that are just exquisite. They toured endlessly last year as they geared up for and released their album, La Ferme De Fontenaille. A cracking album, four songs from which you can sample via The Proud Surrender EP below. Then get clicking and buying and then along to a gig if there's one nearby. In addition to supporting for Tom McRae, they did their own tour of social clubs and got to support the wonderful Beth Orton amongst so many other marvelous gigs. They are also on the bill for this year's Wood Festival so don't miss out on that one. More about this festival soon.

An Evening With Gilmore & Roberts
Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts - Wellingborough - October
This was a special night indeed. What a venue too! Tables and chairs laid out making it feel like we were at an awards ceremony. It was as if the walls were made especially for taking in the music and feeding it out to the our ears via direct aural tunnels. Sublime! This would not have been possible but for the deftness of skill from this stunning duo. This tour was primarily to showcase new songs from their most recent release, third album The Innocent Left, but we were treated to a number of other top tunes from the previous two as well. Opening with Jamie's Scarecrow got the feet a-stomping right from the off. With that jig-inducing fiddle combined with the fierce guitar strum as the sad, sorrowful story of the subject's failure is played right into your mind. A booming start for the pictures painted via music and vocals were vivid enough as to be mistaken for hallucination. This brilliance was only extended further as the night went on and the tunes came rolling out from the stage. The second song was another deep character piece, this time from Katriona in the form of a famous military doctor history saw fit to remove. This is one of the beauties of this kind of music, and this kind of act. They write and play songs that entertain, that move but ones which also educate. I'd never heard of Doctor James before hearing this. I read up on her immediately after, such is the level of interest the song invoked within. 

Katriona and Jamie are everything I expected them to be. Two of the most pleasant and humble musicians I've had the pleasure to watch play. Their interaction with the audience never ceased throughout the entire evening. Whether this was via them detailing how and why they came to write certain songs, or when Kat tested us to see if we could guess what her original song Silverscreen was about (I'm not telling), they warm you to them instantly. There was a real sense of getting to know them on a deep personal level. The explanation behind the emotions that shaped some of the songs made them resonate all the more. For example, Letters was written from Kat's great-grandmother's point of view. She was a Dane who worked for the BBC World Service during World War Two. She had countless letters passing through her, all the time yearning for one from her son. Amazing as a recorded track, played live it not only transports you back through time but it pulls tightly on those heartstrings. Likewise, Traveling In Time was for her granddad following the memory loss resulting from the stroke he had. This was an open window right to her soul and one delivered with such grace it's hard not to let a tear or more escape. Particularly as it bought forth feelings about the elder people in my own life, past and present. It is a wonderful gift to immortalize them in songs such as these. Fleetwood Fair took us into an interval with its kick-ass chorus Kat tried to get us all to join in with. To give the audience their due, many did.

It's not exactly uncommon these days but from all I've seen, Jamie's lap tapping guitar skills are amongst the very best. These were demonstrated aptly with The Stealing Arm as it opened up the second half of the evening. This is based on a traditional song from circa 1800, rewritten and worked to a leg-jigging tune.

No Rest For The Wicked told of their not so rock and roll lifestyle of driving up and down the country while on tour. Yes they do love it and admit they'd have it no other way but how there certainly isn't any energy left to chuck TVs out of hotel room windows. And that's when they are lucky enough to have a hotel room instead of kipping on someone's floor or in the vehicle itself after an overpriced meal out of a service station. This was followed by one of my overall favourites, Shuffle and Deal. Everything about this song is sublime. Kat shared how far from being the gambling sort, she learned to play poker at a festival using gravel for chips. The character of the song is a little deeper in trouble than this. Jamie did a grand job standing in for Larkin Poe with his backing vocals. Although they were quite rightly masculine, he delivered them with the gentle grace befitting the song.

Then there were the instrumentals such as Over Snake Pass and Seven Left For Dead. As enjoyable as these tracks are on the album, that enjoyment is quadrupled when seeing them performed live. They really launch themselves into these pieces. Don't get me wrong, the vocals on the others never hide the high quality of their musicianship, both individual or combined, it's just eye-opening to see them play this way.
Their reworking of the traditional False Knight On The Road bought the evening to a hallucinatory close. I don't know how they manage it but while your eyes are never off them as they play and sing, at the same time the images of the girl besting the antagonist are striking. The whole story is played out in full view. Without actual visuals and thanks simply to the skills and abilities of Gilmore & Roberts. It was Jamie's original song Louis Was A Boxer, based on a customer in the Subway sandwich shop he worked in while at university, that provided the encore. At the end Kat thanked everyone for coming out on a very cold Saturday night and urged us all to get our friends and relatives out to support live music  in the future. I went to a lot of gigs throughout 2012 but this was one of the finest, without a doubt. It was my first time seeing this pair but I can assure you it was the first of so very many to come.

They are about to embark upon a Spring Tour so check out the dates at their website and get yourselves along. You won't regret it! They'll also be featuring at some festivals throughout the summer no doubt, before setting out on an Autumn Tour when I hope to catch them again, if not before.

Willy Mason
There were many more gigs from last year of course and you should know me by now - I would love to give them all some space here. I must at the very least give a brief mention about the Willy Mason gig at The Musician in Leicester back in May. If I had the arts of powerful sorcery at my disposal (I'm still on moving a pencil a centimetre off the table), I would have physically relocated this pub down to Northampton, long ago. Or perhaps merely punched out a spatial portal enabling me to step through to it as and when required. These are just little details. But, yes, Willy Mason, what a performance!! Mystical, magical, marvellous music! It was like being transported so effortlessly to the deep south without breaking a sweat. If only every Monday night contained such entertainment. He is mesmerizing live and I urge all who are fans, or even just those who may only listen to him in passing and enjoy his tunes, to get to a show as soon as you can. It was also at this gig I saw the enigmatic Jinnwoo who opened as first support and is definitely someone you should check out!

Sadly, I was unable to make it to Beautiful Days last year but I sure made up for that by attending not one, but two other small independent festivals. I always considered Beautiful Days to be a relatively small affair. In comparison to Truck and Bakewell however, Beautiful Days is colossal. The small size of these other two is by no means a bad thing. It serves to make you feel even more directly connected to the musicians and bands you get to see. You can (and should) read my full two part review of Truck and then get to their website to bag your tickets to this year's event. They are flying out. More on that festival soon too.

Bakewell Music Festival was smaller still with an added bonus of stages being under a roof. Good job too as with the 'traditional' wash out of a summer we had last year, there were a number of downpours in between the bursts of sunshine and heat. Here, I saw Seth Lakeman for the second time of the year, always an outstanding first class performance. Other bands/artists that stood out for their quality were Jake Morley, with his lap-tapping guitar and poignant lyrics; Neon Railroad with their rockier sound and some great original songs; Sam Draisey, who performed a few covers with a real flair of originality and who's entire set was outstanding; Ryan Lauder with one of the strongest performances of the weekend. Special mentions for the headliners, Flight Brigadegyp, Gypsy Fire and of course Mr Seth Lakeman, who all made the Saturday night one of heightened merriment. I must give a nod to String Driven Thing's song Hey Jack too because as an Ode to the great Jack Kerouac, it really struck deep with me. Then, as the electrics blew and there was niether amp nor lights, country/soul band Phantom Limb closed the festival in true acoustic and unplugged style. They came down off the stage, hauling their instruments behind them and set up in the middle of the marquee. The remaining audience gathered round for what was a splendid intimate set.

It is back on the Truck for the 'they're so damn good they knock you over sets'. Little did I know at the time but this was one of The Last Republic's final gigs as a band as they disbanded not long after. This was a very sad fact and one I'm still crying over. They were just such a fantastic band playing inspiring and truthful music. Their set at Truck was one of my top highlights! Boat To Row build up such a huge momentum with their multi-instrumental juggernaut and had me knocked over by the force as well as so elated I was almost on the ceiling of that tent. I was looking forward to The Dreaming Spires and enjoyed them so much I went for the repeat acoustic performance in the Merch tent the following day. It was like sardines in a can in that tent but totally worth it. Conor O'Brien and his Villagers captivated me with tunes from debut album Becoming A Jackal and a few from their now released follow up Awayland. Tim Minchin could easily have closed the night with his side-splitting (as in literally and being in need of sowing up afterwards) comedy genius songs including the banned on TV Woody Allen Jesus

Due to previous negative press I'd read, I will admit I hadn't been expecting anything too amazing from Saturday night headliners and festival closers The Temper Trap. I was most pleasantly surprised with what we got to see and while they were not the best band overall, they were very close, closing the proceedings in perfect style. The most phenomenal, outstanding and sensational act of the whole event has to be Scottish rock band Frightened Rabbit! It was great to get more intimate with their music on the second stage but they should probably have been on the main stage with the crowd they drew and how much they had the audience in the palm of their hands. The band have recently released their latest album, Pedestrian Verse, which you can buy from their website -

So, that's about a wrap (not a rap, oh dear, imagining myself rapping is rather amusing - perhaps one day....for charity) for the live overview but like I say all the gigs I went to were pretty amazing. Not to neglect Don Broco outperforming We The Kings, as great as they were. What I could hear over the screaming girls that is.

Until next time folks, Peace to you all. to see Stornoway on Saturday, oh yes!


PART I   >>here<<
PART II  >>here<<
PART III >>here<<

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Photo from Sigur Ros Facebook page taken by Alexandre Fumeron 
Howdy music lovers. I am typing this post from the lofty heights of a fine cloud city way up in the atmosphere. Why am I up here, you may ask. You may or may not recall I had tickets to go and see a certain Icelandic band I've been a big fan of for pretty much fifteen years now (yes, that does make me feel on the old side). Sigur Ros is that band and they are responsible for me not being able to come back down to Earth just yet. In fact, their performance was so wonderfully transcendental I will be up here for the majority of the coming year I expect. At least. Perhaps well in to next year too. It is fffffreezing at this altitude though so if someone wouldn't mind throwing up an electric blanket I would be eternally grateful. Oh, I'll be needing a generator as well of course. One with a mighty long extension.

In order to at least try and reign in the lengthy blogcasts, I'm aiming to share on a more regular basis. We'll see how it works out but that Manic Music Monday post I published a few weeks ago seemed to be so well received the number of views it got has leaped so far ahead of any of the others I'm wondering what kind of magic is at play here? May there be dragons in the world helping to release this magic? Yes, more Game of Thrones there I'm afraid. I was all set to begin Big Sur by Jack Kerouac after finishing the Bob Dylan Chronicles. That made a perfect book to follow Mr Bob but I couldn't settle into it. Unlike me. Especially where Kerouac is concerned but it was not that the book itself was holding me back. Not that book anyway but something to do with the fact I'd recently watched 15 episodes of Game of Thrones and couldn't stop thinking about the jaw-dropping events from A Storm of Swords, which I finished at Christmas. So, I just jumped right in to A Feast For Crows last Sunday and am now over half way through it. I'll agree that while it isn't anywhere near as riveting as its two-part predecessor, I am still speeding through it and remain as hooked to the story. Then soon it will be time for A Dace With Dragons. I may disappear for a time when I start part one of that book.

Anyway, without much furhter ado of my rambling and babbling let's get on and share some amazing music shall we?

Another stunning track for you here from Mark. Plus, it is FREE too. You seriously need to be grabbing this because the talent locked up inside this guy, which he demonstrates so aptly through his music (and now photography too no less, see that separate Facebook page >>here<<), is of the highest calibre. Please share this. With it being so good it is a crime it is free. Still, we who are on no pay rises and rubbish wages welcome these freebies and as a thanks to Mark we owe it to him to share it with everyone we can so they too can appreciate and enjoy his talent.

Mark recently finished a few live dates around the UK and is currently on a European adventure as he performs in Amsterdam and Paris before returning to London. He's so captivating I can't wait to get to a show myself.

He also released EP The Traveller back in September last year and this collection of four top tunes is available for just £3.16 via iTunes. Stop wasting any more time, click >>here< and buy them. Then Mark can get right on to his next tour and I can see him play live. This guy is going big places this year so get on board before the bus gets so crowded you can't fit. If you can catch a live show make sure you do!

Over the border and into much heavier territory with this band. What absolutely fantastic sounds Schemata Theory produce! This is the official video for A Complex Slate and it completely knocked me for six. It was after I'd tweeted about listening to some Funeral For A Friend that the band's drummer, Josh sent me a link to the video to check out saying if I liked Funeral, I might like it. I didn't just like it, I love it!!

This is some quality heavy rock from this metal outfit. There are guitar riffs in there that will catch you when you're falling through infinity from the awesome banging rock. This is a top tune to blow away those mangy cobwebs left over from Monday so you are awake, alive and ready to face the rest of the week. While I'm yet to grab a copy of their debut album Dry Lung Rhetoric I shall be rectifying this folly sooner rather than later. A Complex Slate has not just left me hungry for more, it's left me ravenous for more.

What a unique and ingenious concept this is. Bringing music lovers together in an unusual setting, most often a living room. Just wonderful. The set of videos I've had the pleasure to enjoy have barely touched the surface and this is a global movement, folks. It's one of those situations where although it was only a couple of weeks ago (if that), I've had so much on and my mind is darting here, there and everywhere, I can't even remember how I came across Sofar Sounds now. There's intimate performance then there's this. Playing in your living room. Packing in a fair number of folks to enjoy it and just letting go. I must thank them for the two below in particular though because these two guys really are something else. Mark Nichols (featured above) mentioned a gig he did on a narrowboat one time which would be another perfect location for a Sofar Sounds video.

I was well and truly hit by an almighty giant-sized WOW when stumbling across this video. As part of Sofar Oxford #252, it is sublime. Take Off Your Shackles is the third track to feature on Josh's debut EP Mountains In Hurricanes. This is out on this very fine day of 12th March so get buying your copies now please. You can purchase via his bandcamp page >>here<< or via iTunes >>here<<. Physical copies are available too via the bandcamp route.The title track is beautiful by the way. Check it out, go on. Then prepare to part with a little bit of cash to own the awesome EP.

Not one to skrimp (that a word?) on the sharing I MUST also share another of Josh's videos. This one is for the Rooftop Session of the beautiful title track Mountains in Hurricanes. This is magical!
Indeed, if I had space here I would also be sharing Figure You Out filmed live at The Black Boy just a few weeks ago. This one is rather impressive too. You will be able to find it easily enough I'm sure but the link is >>here<< for you anyway. You see how nice I am? Now get buying that EP, thank you please!

Zander Sharp's is the second video from Sofar Sounds I watched, this time for Sofar Oxford #225. He mesmerized me just like Josh before him. What a stunning vocal he has. There's such a depth of emotion and yet he gets so tranquil. And that summation is based on this amazing performance alone! After seeing this I sought him out and got listening to more awesome songs on his Soundcloud Page. There's a 5 track demo up there as a set. I would pay to own this if I'm honest and that's before any tidying up for a final produced version. Where do I send the money? Send me a neat little CD. Have a listen to these demos below and see if you don't agree by the end of them. His writing is quality!

Things are busy busy busy for Zander as he gears up to release an EP recorded by none other than those Stornoway lads (who themselves released their second album, Tales From Terra Firma this week).

If you want to learn more about Zander from his own words then check out this really great interview with him for NSTV. Just click >>here<<. His outlook is endearing. There really is some great music out there but it takes time and a bit of effort to seek it out from all the dross the mass media piles upon us. He didn't say it himself but Zander's music is some of that really great stuff, even this early on. Like with Luke Jackson, Mark Nichols, Aidan Logan, Leo Stannard and Perry Hood, Zander Sharp and Josh Savage are firmly on my 'ones to watch' list so I'll be featuring lots more from them over the coming year.

Progressive psychedelic Canterbury collective Syd Arthur may currently be across the wide waters readying themselves for their performance at SXSW in Texas but the news needs to be shared about the latest single released from critically acclaimed debut album On An On. It is a double A-side featuring Ode To The Summer / Edge of  The Earth. Try before you buy and have a listen below. I highly recommend the album too while you're at it.

As I said in my review of the album, On An On takes the listener on an epic journey. Ode To The Summer breeds thoughts of hot cloudless days which cascade through the mind and will have you reaching for your Pimms on the porch table while you gaze up at the evening sunset. Listening again I can assure you this is true even in the current depths of wintry hell we find ourselves. If you want to forget about your freezing ice blocked feet then grab Ode To The Summer and get hot. This prepares you perfectly for the next stop on the magical musical journey. Yes, you will venture right to the Edge of The Earth. You will return but you will never be the same again.

I'm uber-excited to have recently confirmed I'll be attending this year's Wood Festival and covering it on the blog. I will therefore be seeing Syd Arthur play there. Full report in due course. More on Wood in my pre-summer festival special soon.

Praise for debut album On An On
'Dorothy begins with a calmative wash of heat-have guitars, then cedes to a lazy, joined at the hip groove that's a small marvel of poise and subtlety.... Enchanting'

‘Dizzyingly intricate… they bristle with energy and ideas’

‘Strong compositional ideas… a careering piece’

‘Absurdly talented’

‘Syd Arthur are sons and heirs of those Canterbury musicians who did sometimes whimsical, sometimes intense things with psychedelic and progressive rock’

‘Intricate compositions, expertly woven to make these stunning aural conversations between all of the major sensory points in your body.’

‘Staggeringly good. It will take something exceptional to beat On An On to Prog Album Of The Year’
Classic Rock

‘Fleet-fingered folky flavours steeped in prime prog history’

‘Their debut album On An On has maintained the psychedelic influences and enhanced them with a modern pop sensibility. The musicianship is intricate and finds them sounding like Devendra Banhart in his softer moments’
The 405

‘Ornate and glassy-eyed perspectives’
Daily Mirror

‘A unique sound that is both full and intriguing… curious and surprisingly uplifting’
Guitar Techniques

 ‘Blends taut mandolin lines with fuzztone propelled jazz guitar… fresh and relevant’

Also heard on 

BBC Radio 2, (Dermot O Leary), BBC 6 Music (Gideon Coe, Cerys Matthews, Tom Robinson), XFM, Amazing Radio, BBC Scotland, NME Radio, Q Radio


Indeed it is time to don those briefs. Oh dear. Apologies if I've just induced vomiting with that one. Tut tut!

Lights At Ten is the latest single from this alternative rock band. They have a tremendous and big sound I'm loving right now. Hope I can get along to a show at some point.

It was announced last week that festival favourites Bellowhead and The Levellers will be headlining this year's Cambridge Folk Festival on the Friday night. This is fantastic news as this is another of the festivals featured on my 2013 festival mission list. I've potentially added a fifth one today but not quite sure I'll be able to make five. Four will be stretching my limited funds enough as it is. Great news these two awesome bands will be at Cambridge though. The Levellers are no strangers to the festival having appeared a number of times as have Bellowhead I'm sure. It's just as sweet for Saturday night with KT Tunstall and The Mavericks. There will be many more an announcement to follow over the coming weeks and months and I will also be featuring this festival in my pre-summer festival feature. It will be a warm up of sorts. Boy, do we all need warming up. Hopefully this Arctic weather is a sign for a beautiful hot festival-friendly summer for 2013. Remember, tickets tend to sell fast for this one and they do often sell out so get yours before the rush.

Following the above announcement, it seems only fitting to share the latest video from this, one of my top most favourite bands of all time (yes indeedy). Alone In This Darkness is one of Simon Friend's songs from their most recent album Static On The Airwaves

While I remember too, you only have a matter of hours left to vote for this album in the Spiral Awards 2013. Please see my post on these awards and who I've voted for in a number of categories by clicking >>here<<. I don't wish to impose my choices upon you but please vote for Nick Burbridge in the Songwriter category and for The Ballad of Andy Jacobs by Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman for Best Song. They so deserve to win their respective awards. They all do I guess but these two are extra special. 

Yes, there is an end. This has not been a bad rounded up post to be honest. I had originally planned to title it Tuesday Tune Takeaway, which I loved the sound of. However, as time ticked on and I kept typing things up and embedding things, it became apparent that possibly one or two people may get to read the published version on Tuesday itself. Thus is why I settled on my second mid-week music mix. The last one was only so many months ago I can't recall but hey, let's chill.

To close here's a funny little video I stumbled across recently. It kind of speaks for itself really and for Levellers fans particularly it should be something to make you laugh out loud*. Until next time folks, which should be very soon indeed, peace to you all. Keep warm! 

*Please note not lol