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IGM Reviews (Independent Games & Music)

This is a new feature in which our writers will review the latest Independent Games, enjoyed by Indie Gamers and Indie music fans alike. We want to highlight the ingenuity of the designers in their game play and sound design. We hope this feature will shine a light on designers who are creating games with a much deeper message of creativity, who are not bowing to the commercial pressures of the mainstream. Creating games that have the space to be excitingly different! 

IGM REVIEW… TAKESHI AND HIROSHI BY SEIICHI

Hi! I’m Seiichi and I recently got to play the heart-warming indie game, Takeshi and Hiroshi. It is developed by Japanese studio, Oink Games. Inc (you may need to translate the page into English) who have been making games for the last 10 years, many of which are analogue games but some have been developed for purchase on the App Store. Ultimately, a tale of two brothers, Takeshi is an amazing, ambitious young game designer, who is confident in his abilities, but is also stubborn about receiving any sort of help or advice when it comes to his first game project, Mighty Warrior. His little brother, Hiroshi, is a charming and happy little guy who pushes and inspires his big brother Takeshi but is, however, inundated with re-occurring medical problems that put him in hospital. Throughout the game’s seven chapters, Takeshi entertains young Hiroshi by letting him play Mighty Warrior every time he visits him in hospital. Though unknown to Hiroshi, the game is unfinished, therefore Takeshi has to remotely take control of all the enemy encounters in the game and thus the game’s design, into his own hands!

The game is split into both ‘Drama’ Parts and ‘Game’ parts. ‘Drama’ refers to the cute hand-crafted stop-motion animation scenes and ‘Game’ refers to the turn-based strategy style of gameplay that you, the player, take control of. The game tasks you to think in the shoes of a game designer; Takeshi’s dream job, in order to craft a fantastic experience for Hiroshi, but also a responsible big brother. In other words,…You’ve got to let the little guy beat you, but the beating has to feel like it was one heck of a challenge!

 In what feels like an inorganic, but strangely satisfying resource management system, you need to strategize that the enemy encounters you create: the type of enemies and the order in which they hit Hiroshi’s player sprite, are ‘Stressful’ enough for Hiroshi and that he feels ‘Joy’ after he defeats the enemies that stand before him and instead isn’t, you know, dead-game over. Hitting the quota for ‘Joy’ means you can move onto the next chapter and you can try to beat your ‘Joy’ high score for the chapter whenever you want.

Rejoice in both Hiroshi’s immense satisfaction (and quite literally your own. There’s very little worse feeling you can get whilst playing this game than when seeing ‘The Hero is defeated… Hiroshi feels down’ type out on the Game Over screen) and Takeshi’s confidence and elation in himself as you appropriately challenged Hiroshi as a player, which is one of the fundamentals of Game Design theory in ensuring you’ve got a game your audience want to go back to.

There’s no better feeling than when Hiroshi is on only 1 Health Point, holding on by a thread after an enemy encounter that you actually designed yourself. By properly understanding how much damage the enemies do and their special abilities and how that translates in providing a challenging experience for the player, you’re already on your way to becoming a Games Design aficionado like Takeshi himself! Good on you! This is one of the ways successful challenge is interwoven with emotional storytelling, as if every completion of a chapter results in Hiroshi feeling better and happier in himself.

This leads into the game’s fantastic sound design. The exceptionally talented Kazuomi Suzuki (Soundtrack to other music by Kazuomi Suzuki – Sound Designer https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/kazuomi-suzuki/1210466006) who has worked on the sound design of other Oink Games. Inc titles was behind the game’s Sound Design, Background Music (BGM) and Sound FX. The game’s Sound Design is intended to be organic and to make you feel relaxed whilst playing the game whilst hitting the right heart strings . For example, every time a character takes their turn to speak or think, you will hear a xylophone note play, which is a natural match for these cute and tangible puppet models. It is clear that the approach taken with the creation of the game’s sound design was greatly influenced by the friendly and endearing nature of stop motion animation and also the way it is created.

 This is a demonstration into the art of Foley in order to get the desired sounds and effects the developers are after. The game’s music is very much wholesome and in places inspired by retro RPG fantasy style of games like the first Zelda game on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and series like Dragon Quest. This has ties to the Chiptune genre of music, which is stylised electronic music commonly featuring in other game’s sound design as well as serving as a pastiche of them within popular culture. Takeshi Yokemura, one of the members from the famous Japanese Chiptune band, YMCK (May need to translate into English) composed the theme song behind Takeshi and Hiroshi which can be heard in the credits and features in the Nintendo Switch Launch trailer. Takeshi and Hiroshi is thematically a game about optimism and having respect for one another, which this upbeat and charming rhythm manages to encapsulate. Hiroshi is Takeshi’s biggest fan after all, and Takeshi wants Hiroshi to experience all he’s able to do. The tune also serves as an additional message for how wonderful games can be and what they can be for us as an interactive medium unlike any other.

In summary, this is a delightful game. The main appeal is most assuredly the cute ‘Drama’ segments that serve as the game’s intended story, however the turn-based strategy ‘Game’ segments are enjoyable for they are a fair challenge with new enemy types introduced in every chapter as Takeshi works concurrently to improve the gaming experience for Hiroshi. It’s a short game which you can play to completion within in a day, so it’s perfect for a casual experience. If you’re not a big gamer I highly recommend playing this game as it’s not a big-time investment and after all, you’re supporting Indie game devs!

You can play Takeshi and Hiroshi by subscribing to Apple Arcade and it is available on Nintendo Switch, where it is 10% off until 30/08/20

MUSIC INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS – SPOTLIGHT GUEST FEATURE

This is a new feature in which we will interview music industry professionals involved in the independent music scene who through their endeavours have enabled exciting, new emerging music to thrive.

Roger Kent – Kick out the jams & Oyster Music consulting services

In today’s feature we interview Roger Kent from Kick out The Jams, and Oyster Music Consulting Services, who provides us with 6 bands or artists he thinks are worth our attention on our industry curated guest Playlist.

Hi Roger, Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you become involved in music, and what’s your musical background:

I suppose I started out when I was Social Secretary in the 70s when I was a student in London (Westfield College, London University). My responsibility was to book the bands and organise all the various entertainments on campus on behalf of the student union who ran the student bar. I’ll be the first to admit that most of the bands I booked have largely disappeared from the history books, though there were a few that some your readers will probably have heard of – The Stranglers, Squeeze, The 101’ers (Joe Strummer’s band before The Clash), The Damned and The Sex Pistols ( they turned up unannounced and tried to blag their way onto the stage. They did play a few numbers but they were so awful that they were pretty much booed off by the audience. This was in ’76.)

When I left Uni (having been kicked out due to lack of application!), I went to work for a small chain of independent record shops called Our Price Records, which later expanded to over 200 shops nationwide. After that I worked for a music trade mag (Record Business), a small record label (Teledisc), export distributor Caroline International and ultimately as Head of International at Proper Records/Proper Music Distribution.

How did you become involved in the UK music scene, and who are your co-workers?

About three years ago I decided to get into live music promotion and started Kick Out The Jams, initially with a series of shows at my local venue The Forum in Tunbridge Wells. One thing led to another and I thought it would be fun to start promoting shows in Camden, initially at The Good Mixer and subsequently at The Dublin Castle, The Amersham Arms (in Deptford) and a few other “one offs” at venues like The Water Rats, Rock’n’Roll Rescue, The Old Blue Last etc.

Camden was the scene of most of my student/ post-student drinking adventures back in the day (my college campus was in nearby Hampstead), so it felt like a kind of home coming really. We used to frequent The Hawley Arms (before it became famous as Amy Winehouse’s local) and Dingwalls mainly.

I also started putting on Kick Out The Jams stages at The Alternative Escape in Brighton (part of The Great Escape Festival), and then a 3-day “pop-up” festival of my own during TGE week called The Brighton Mix-Up. The highlight for me in Brighton was putting on Fontaines DC in May 2018 at a tiny 60 cap theatre venue above a pub called The Marlborough Theatre.

Kick Out The Jams is just me really, though I have to name check Diarmuid at Rotor Videos who has been the most amazing sponsor for my shows from the very first one at TW Forum right up to the present day. Also Caffy St. Luce at The Zine and Kelly Munro at End Of The Trail who  have been incredibly supportive of what I’m trying to do and have co-promoted numerous shows with me over the years.

What are your main musical influences, and what genre of music to you have the most enjoyment in supporting?

I have very eclectic taste really and when I’m asked this question about KOTJ, I usually just say “we like good music”, but I suppose my “go to” genres these days are post-punk and indie guitar bands.

What makes a good record in your opinion and what are the qualities you look for? 

That’s quite a tricky question, but I suppose if it’s a single then I’m looking for a wham bam opening salvo and some great hooks with a playing time of less than three minutes ideally. When it comes to albums, I think it’s important that there is an overall coherence to the thing, so the sequencing of the tracks is incredibly important. Listening to an entire album on one sitting seems to be something of a dying art in these days of Spotify, YouTube etc, but it’s incredibly rewarding if you prepared to find the time to do it, and for me, playing a vinyl LP and perusing the album cover and liner notes is by far the best way to do it, though maybe I’m just showing my age here!

Can you provide us with a brief explanation of the 6 tracks you’ve added to the guest curated playlist what makes them stand out for you?

My six tracks are:

BLAB “R.I.P.” –“ indie punk from an Essex girl”

Anorak Patch  “6 Week Party” – amazingly accomplished song by these Colchester schoolkids

The Clockworks “Can I speak To A Manager?” – anthemic post-punk pop from the Creation23 signings

MINATORE “Boys Tell Lies” – Nottingham-based alternative prog/rock/punk

Faux Pas “That’s My Ego” – talented young band from York playing grunge/punk

Smalltown Tigers “Five Things” – Incendiary punk from three girls based in Rimini, Italy

What recent projects have you been working on that you been a part of and what have been the highlights for you based around this?

Most of my time recently has been taken up in a seemingly endless round of re-scheduling my shows in this time of Covid-19. I have also tried to put on some streaming shows, but for me the buzz isn’t really there to be honest. I’ve been doing a regular series of podcasts with my co-conspirator Andrew Winters, which is always good fun. You can find them on Mixcloud under Kick Out The Jams A&R Podcast.

What events are you currently working on and should we be looking out for?

I’m currently in the process of putting together a revised line up for a new two day weekend “all dayer” event under the name of Camden Calling Festival. It was supposed to happen on the first weekend of July at Dingwalls, but inevitably it was postponed, and I am now scheduling it for mid-February at The Black heart in Camden, so keep your eyes peeled for an imminent announcement about that!

How has the global coronavirus pandemic affected your work within the music sector?

See answer above!

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the UK music industry in the long-term?

Once an effective vaccine is available, I think the live music sector will bounce back quite quickly, but of course there have already been a number in grass roots venue closures and I think there will inevitably be more. Props to the Music Venue Trust and others who have campaigned tirelessly to support indie venues at the difficult time, and who have been instrumental in persuading the UK Government to provide a fund which will help venues to survive until meaningful live shows can resume. As things stand currently, most GMVs can’t run live shows profitably with the social distancing regulations as they are, so they need all our support to tide them over, so go buy their merch or donate cash if you possibly can.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

More amazing live shows in 2021!

josh cooper – Roadkill Records

In today’s feature we interview Josh Cooper, Music Publicist at 9PR, founder of Roadkill Records, and guitarist at Terminal Gods. He provides us with 7 bands or artists he thinks are worth our attention, on our industry curated guest Playlist.  We previously reviewed one of the bands on his label called After London, and their excellent new single ‘Operator.’

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Josh. Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hey, my name is Josh Cooper and I’m the founder of Roadkill Records which I run with my label partner Chris Blake and our artist Jake Griffiths. What we do has changed over the past few months. Our business model was very reliant on live shows which we ran monthly or more at grassroots venues across London. We assist bands with their releases, distribution, management, PR, bookings and we put material out on vinyl, CD and cassette. We also host our own podcast.

Recently we’ve been focussing on keeping things ticking over during lockdown. Luckily we were still able to continue recording the radio show remotely, we’ve also been helping bands with creating extra content like interviews, sessions, acoustic versions, playlists, competitions etc. Just trying to keep busy while we waited to get artists back recording and gigging.

How did you become involved in music, and what’s your musical background

We’ve all spent a decade or more playing in bands and that’s how we met mostly, on the gig circuit. We came from relatively different musical backgrounds in terms of genre but originally bonded over the more surfy stuff. I started DJing, then I began promoting nights in a basement venue and it grew slowly out of that. Y’know in those early days it might have just been us and a punter or two. It took a little while for word to get out and we had to start upsizing venues.

Surely enough though a crew emerged of regular attendees and bands, and I decided to make the jump to label as a way to use the brand we built to promote my friends music. I thought they deserved more attention and it seemed like quite a natural step.

What are your main musical influences, and what genre of music do you have the most enjoyment in supporting?

With the original nights we were set on “Roadhouse Rock, Leather Clad Licks and Grindhouse Grooves”, it had the garage-rock pulp theme to it, tried to stick to mostly bands that sounded like they fit in a Russ Meyers film or something. Playing the bar in Dusk Till Dawn. But things branched out over time, there really wasn’t that many bands doing that stuff, and bigger bands I really liked and wanted to book could be playing psychedelia or grunge or anything else, we’ve even dipped into doing the occasional more gothy/electronic line-up. Genre became less important but the idea of keeping line-ups specific stayed. The vibe has to flow. I never wanted to put on shows that felt disjointed, we’ve all played on too many line-ups like that. In terms of the label it’s still fairly mixed, what we care about most is the songs.

What makes a good record in your opinion and what are the qualities you look for? 

Well before we even think about a record there’s certain things you look for in a band. How are they on stage? How are they off stage? Is it a working relationship you think you’d both benefit from, are you compatible? Then you’d do a single or two, an EP and see how the reception is in terms of sales, press and numbers. If it all lines up and it’s working nicely then you discuss investing in a record. It’s a big commitment. If we had more funding it might be different, but we can’t afford to splash out on a dud.

But if all is well, all I would ask from an album is that it’s true to the band and wasn’t recorded on your mate’s iphone. Quality control is important but we’re fairly easy going.

Can you provide us with a brief explanation of the 6 tracks you’ve added to the guest curated playlist what makes them stand out for you?

Of course! The first is our latest release, ‘Operator’ by After London. We’ve been working with them for over a year now and they’re all big choruses and audacious production. Live they’re so much fun and the last two shows they headlined (both at The Shacklewell Arms) were off the wall.

Projector have been a big part of my life for a little longer, we signed them 2018 and we did a vinyl EP shortly after with a Moth Club launch party which still stands out as one of my favourite Roadkill events. We joke about their bangers, but literally everything they write is a great big banger, including their last single ‘Superstar’.

Next up is ‘Black River’ by The Sly Persuaders which is taken from their second album. What to say about the Slys. They’re not just on the label, they literally are the label. They’re the best band ever.

‘Black Light’ by Enemy Of The People is a surf 7” we did shortly before lockdown, managed to squeeze in a Blondies celebratory piss-up for that one too. That’s out on beautiful coloured vinyl, each one is unique. Some look like clearest ocean, some look like puke.

Then I have the new remix from Muertos of their single ‘Write To The Devil’. It’s a gorgeous take on their rockier original version, it was also something of a swan song as they decided to call it a day very recently, but they leave behind a really awesome back-catalogue and a tonne of hazy memories.

Then I have two more, not from bands on our label but just two that we’re big fans of and think everyone should know about. The first is Sex Cells with ‘Outta Kill’ which is taken from their new ‘Nightmare Hall Tapes’ which quickly followed their flawless debut album. And lastly a brand new one to see you out with; ‘Cruel’ by Nuha Ruby Ra who is another artist we think is absolutely smashing it right now.

What successes have you had that has made a significant impact on your career?

Firstly my record label isn’t my career, it’s a passion project that we all do because we enjoy being involved in that world and amounted enough experience that we thought we could help out. I think it’s one that can be a hostile environment and there’s a lot of chancers out there, so we volunteer our time and thankfully it just about breaks even. I work a day job as a music publicist though so it does feed into it, it’s another area of experience which has improved the service we provide at Roadkill.

So I’ve had lots of impactful moments in my work, worked with a bunch of my favourite artists and have been very lucky. But for Roadkill stuff the things that stick out to me are always the shows, it’s where something you work on behind the scenes for ages becomes real. It’s where you can see people’s reactions in real time, its culture, it’s your local community. The first Lock Tavern all-dayer, the first Sly Persuaders album launch party at

Nambucca, the aforementioned Projector EP launch party at Moth Club, the first NYE bash, last year’s Summer Festival, God Damn at Shack and loads more. That’s the good shit.

What campaigns are you currently working on and should we be looking out for?

We have some new projects coming, two from existing Roadkill extended family members which we’re both really excited for, both completely different and I can’t say much more than that right now. Projector finished recording their next EP. The Sly Persuaders are currently recording their third album. And After London are still riding high from their new single but we’ll be following that up with another soon enough. 

How has the global coronavirus pandemic affected your work within the music sector?

Mostly the lack of gigs and recording. It just put a big old stopper in everything we’d planned. We were about to move up to some larger venues with some of our bands, we were in the middle of planning release shows and tours and recording schedules. Everyone’s in the same boat though so there’s not much else we can do but get back on it when it’s safe to do so.

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the UK music industry in the long-term?

I think it will be a long while before gigs are back at all. Unfortunately at a local level there’s no financially viable way to do shows under social distancing guidelines, we wouldn’t be able to sell the tickets or make enough on the bar to even come close to covering costs. So until people can rub up against each other again it’s a no go. I don’t know when that will be. This also means that our venues are still under threat, and some workers in that industry are still without any income, freelancers not protected by furlough schemes. I imagine it will be devastating for many and some won’t recover from it at all. Once we can, we’ll need to work together to build it back up, and this time people within it need to be protected from anything else. It’s shown up areas of the industry for how badly they were structured to begin with. I hope just like essential workers people can now appreciate how important local arts scenes are and that’s reflected in how much they pay for it.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

Keep on doing what we’re doing, try and be as flexible as possible when it comes to making plans right now. But whatever happens we’ll still be about to plug good music by good people, and eventually we’ll be able to celebrate that again properly.

Melli Foris – End of the trail creative

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Melli. You’ve been someone who has been a great supporter of our blog, sending over your music recommendations. You can also be seen at many gigs being a very active supporter of the live music scene which is great to see.

How did you become involved in the UK music scene, and who are your co-workers?When I came over to the UK I was more into electronic music with couple of my friends being DJ’s and playing various venues across the UK and Germany. We had some good times being up until the wee hours.

A couple of years ago I left the raves behind me and started going to gigs and the first bands I discovered were Cabbage and False Heads.I went on takings pics and recorded videos of the live events I was attending and started posting them on my socials.
Last year in April I met Kelly Munro from End Of The Trail Creative at a London festival and well the rest is history…

What are your main musical influences, and what genre of music to you have the most enjoyment in supporting?As a German I do like my techno so DJ’s like Westbam, Boyz Noize etc were on my playlist from early on to recent discoveries of Bristol based DJ’s like The Milkshake Boys and Red DJ.

My two older sisters were huge Depeche Mode fans so they got me hooked on that and we can throw a bit of Rammstein and Bowie into the mix as well.

I can thank “The Ärzte” (Berlin punk band) for my love of punk music. They were played at every house party I went so you just got obsessed with them.It’s fair to see that I do like my punk bands but I really don’t want to be tied to one genre only.

What makes a good record in your opinion and what are the qualities you look for?I am not a musician and I don’t wanna dissect a song. To be quiet frank even I don’t know all the time what I am looking for…..but I know when I hear and feel it.
It’s getting hooked on a guitar riff, an electronic element or a certain line of the song you can connect with.
If I scout at live gigs – Stage presence is an important factor for me. Some bands have so much energy and draw you in and it brings you so much joy watching them and you feel like being a part of them if that makes any sense – I had it a few times now, didn’t even know the bands beforehand.

Can you provide us with a brief explanation of the 6 tracks you’ve added to the guest curated playlist what makes them stand out for you?

  • Pigeonhole “Figures, Figures, Figures”I stumbled upon Londoners post punk outfit Pigeonhole by pure accident but this is such a gripping tune..i especially love the ending “This is a public service announcement…Figures, Figures, Figures…Pigeonhole…Goodnight.”
  • Face Paint “Bomb”A band I discovered by reading an article in Clunk Magazine. It’s an infectious indie-psych rock song and I love that it’s splits into two different tempos, a slower start and a faster second half.
  • IDLES “Ground”So far my fav tune from the upcoming album Ultra Mono next month.It has an electronic feel to it and the line “Do you hear that thunder” must be re-quoted so many times by now..i even have a badge of it (hahahaha)
  • Cabbage “Get outta my brain”I am a huge fan of Cabbage for several year’s now and really glad that they are putting tracks out again so I think they deserve to be on that list. I personally miss seeing them live as it was always a sweaty crazy mess lol
  • Birdman Cult “Time”I saw them at my last Bristol gig in March ( was a good night) and this release is my fav one of them as I like the frenetic and heavy sound of it….so much energy in it…
  • SLONK “Postman”This is the debut single release from the upcoming album, ‘Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years’, – honest and intimate lyrics starting out with an acoustic guitar and the culminating “Joe, just admit you could be a wicked postman” outro recorded by a bunch of friends from bands.

How has the global coronavirus pandemic affected your work within the music sector?Like most people involved in the music sector it was a huge blow and in all honesty 2020 is a write off.

With no live gigs happening my work as a gig photographer is non existent.I was supposed to attend SXSW in Texas as part of the EOTT crew which was an important event but it didn’t happen and the festival summer was cancelled along with most gigs.
I ended up working on a lot of admin and research tasks you usually never really have the time to do, attending webinars and endless live streams.

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the UK music industry in the long-term?The main issue will be to find a solution regarding “physical distanced” gigs to make it profitable for venues, artists and everyone else involved in the process. This one will be the most tricky one in my opinion.
Live streaming and paid versions of it will definitely play an integral part of how we will be able to experience “live music experience” in the future. I already seen venues/promoters picking up on that and giving artist a platform to promote their music.

And lastly, what are your future plans?Right now I am in the process of launching my own music blog in collaboration with a friend from Bristol.We want to feature all the bands we love and review new releases/EP’s/albums etc. Once it’s safe to do so we planning on putting on gigs with focus on gig swaps of London and Bristol bands.
Additional to that I am looking at the possibility managing my own artist/band so let’s see what happens there.

Melli

Luke Branch – Cool Thing Records / Asylums

In today’s feature we interview Luke Branch CEO of Cool Thing Records (https://coolthingrecords.bandcamp.com/music), who provides us with 6 bands or artists he thinks are worth our attention on our industry curated guest Playlist.  We previously reviewed one the excellent acts on his label BLAB and their new single R.I.P.

Thanks for joining us Luke, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am the songwriter and singer in Asylums and the co-founder of Cool Thing Records and Cool Thing Presents on Soho Radio. I’m basically just a lifelong creative geek who loves working and collaborating with other creatives.

Cool Thing is very much a labour of love and our only intention is to support new talent and be a positive presence in artists lives.

How did you become involved in music, and what’s your musical background

I’ve been playing in bands and writing songs since I was 12, through the years I’ve worked with so many managers, booking agents, Labels, Publishers, PR people etc promoting various projects.

6 years ago I just felt empowered to take a more crucial role in the release of my own music with the launch of Asylums and thusly Cool Thing was born. Because we felt good about our work releasing Asylums we started to sign new acts and built from there.

What are your main musical influences, and what genre of music to you have the most enjoyment in supporting?

I have no genre bias, I enjoy Hip Hop, Jazz, Punk, Ambient music, Soul and all sorts.

Cool Thing is very eclectic in terms of what we sign. I do however enjoy writing twisted guitar music with big pop hooks for Asylums.

What makes a good record in your opinion and what are the qualities you look for? 

Authenticity and passion.

Can you provide us with a brief explanation of the 6 tracks you’ve added to the guest curated playlist what makes them stand out for you?

The following tracks are all Cool Thing Records releases, they have very little in common with each other musically, but they all have the two crucial ingredients – authenticity and passion.

A Cause In Distress – Lumbering 

BLAB – R.I.P.

Private Jetlag – School Night

BAIT – DLP

The Horse Heads – Castles

Suspects – Innocence

What successes have you had that has made a significant impact on your career?

I can only measure success on a creative level, if I’m happy with the music I’m making and enjoying collaborating with my band mates and the label roster then I quantify that as success. However, we recently received a PRS Grant and that made a big difference

What campaigns are you currently working on and should we be looking out for?

A Cause In Distress – Lumbering (Single campaign)

BLAB – R.I.P. (Single campaign)

Indian Queens – God Is A Woman (Album campaign)

Asylums – Genetic Cabaret (Album Campaign)

How has the global coronavirus pandemic affected your work within the music sector?

It has affected it for sure…… no gigs, limited record shops opening etc. My heart just goes out to everyone in the sector that earns a living in these areas and is struggling. For Cool Thing we are fairly adaptable to change and we have adapted as much as we can.

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the UK music industry in the long-term?

I am expecting people will still need entertainment as much as ever, we may need to explore different deliver methods moving forward.

And lastly, what are your future plans? Stay passionate and hopeful and keep working hard on the releases we have coming up and complete another Asylums album.

Producer’s Producer – Spotlight Series

This is a new Spotlight feature in which we will interview producers involved in the independent music scene, who have been instrumental in overseeing all aspects of the creation of a song or album.  The producers are instrumental in getting all of the musicians to play their best, the music to come out the way it was intended, and to make sure that the sounds of the engineer in the studio are fitting the song style.

Like a film director, the music producer has to be able to make split-second decisions and convey their vision of the final song to all those involved—the audio engineer, the musicians, the singer—in a manner that gets the best performance possible from each of them. The music producer needs to be able to focus on what’s going on in real-time as each track is laid down.  This requires great communication skills as well as an excellent understanding of logistics and budgets. In addition each producer will add their own tracks to our industry curated playlist below with the artists they are working with

Gavin Monaghan – Magic Garden Recording Studio

In today’s feature we interview Gavin Monaghan, Vibe Wrangler-In-Chief at Magic Garden Recording Studio, and Music Producer at Magic Garden Recording Studios, who describes his different approaches and techniques to recording and what it is to be a producer/engineer in the modern day music scene.  He has worked with, In no particular order: Robert Plant, Editors, Kid Kapichi, Scott Matthews, Stone, The Twang, Moses, Grace Jones, Jaws, Babes In Toyland, Mike Scott, Femi Kuti, The Sherlock’s, Eddie Grant, The Blinders, Ocean Colour Scene, Jimmy Somerville, Tony Christie, Mercury Rev, The Membranes, Space, the list goes on and on and on.

Thanks Gavin for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to us about the incredible work you do as a producer, working busily behind the scenes of the UK’s music scene.  This is so often overlooked, but has been a fundamental part of what shapes UK music.  Producers contribute in more ways than is often given credit for.  We want to shine a light on what you do and what has inspired you to be in this business.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?  What’s your working style?

Since the end of the 70s, I worked in all shapes and sizes of studio. From Wessex where the sex pistols were recorded, to George Martin’s air Studios, and compass point in Bermuda.

I have also fashioned impromptu studios in unusual spaces. These by necessity often have the control room space in the same area as the live room. This method has its drawbacks, but is very good for communication. These days I don’t really care much about where I work as long as the band of the artist has great songs. I spend a lot of time in my own space Magic Garden Studios. I have built it in an old nail factory building from the 1800s, and the live room is truly huge, which gives me a great drum sound and enables a band to play live together if necessary.

I start by hearing the band’s songs, this is everything for me. I communicate with the band after hearing the songs, and we work together until we discover the best key, arrangement and style. When we go into the studio, everyone is mostly on the same page and you can leave a little room for the magic to happen.

What’s your musical background, if any?

I play a variety of instruments, my main instrument is the bass guitar. I also play guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion, and during the 80s and 90s I learned how to program synthesisers and I have a collection of classic synths. This is very useful as music is mostly cyclical. Similar themes emerge with slight alterations over the years to cross pollinate and form new styles. I also have a huge collection of pedals, drums, guitars and amplifiers to provide variety in the recordings.

Who is your favourite producer and how have they influenced you by their working practices, Explain what you have learnt from them?

My favourite producer is probably Tony Visconti. His track record is 2nd to none, and it always even now seems to find a new way of recording and interpreting an artist. The way he works with space in a room to glue the sounds together has been a major influence on me when I am capturing real instruments, and his work with Bowie, T Rex and thin Lizzy is inspirational.

Who have you been listening to recently?

I try to stay very current in my listening. Of course I have old favourites. I continually return to Iggy pop, Bowie, Bob Marley, Coltrane Wu-Tang and massive attack. But music in 2020 is also extremely interesting. Today’s musicians have whole catalogues of previous releases to learn from and be inspired by.

I love the districts, Dave, the 1975, Leanne Le Havas, Jhenny Beth, Denzil Currie, Blackwater’s Fontaine’s DC and Idles. I also love Miley Cyrus, Billy Eilish, and Christine and the Queens great music is everywhere you look.

Can you provide us with a list of tracks that you would recommend for us to add to both our Spotify Music Industry Curated and our Indie Future Best Spotify Playlists?  Perhaps the songs you have found inspiring and some of the ones you have worked on?

Certainly. This is my Inspiration list:

Not In Love –  Crystal Castles and Robert Smith

Nothing Breaks Like a Heart – Mark Ronson Miley Cyrus

A Wolf at the Door – Radiohead

Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen

Cold Little Heart – Michael Kiwanuka

Across 110th Street – Bobby Womack

Young Blood – The Districts

Too Real – Fontaines D.C.

She’s Lost Control – Joy Division

Sponji Reggae – Black Uhuru

Streatham – Dave

Saw Bones – Anna Meredith

Clap Hands  – Tom Waits

These are some of the songs I have worked on:

Bullets – Editors

My Lucifer – Ghosts of Social Networks

12 Harps – Scott Matthews, Robert Plant

Either Way – The Twang

Sardines – Kid Kapichi

Stay Silent – STONE

Chasing Shadows – The Sherlocks

Magic Carpet Days – Ocean Colour Scene

Brave New World – The Blinders

Londinium – Plutonik

Tokyo Drift – Shai Brides

Gold – JAWS

JCB – Nizlopi

Are you affiliated with a label, and do you have connections with publishing, A&R, TV/film, or radio companies?

As a freelancer, I produce music for any label that has signed a great artist and wants me to work with them. Quite a few of my productions end up on TV as part of a soundtrack, and most of them get radio.

 What are the 5 qualities Musicians should look for in a producer and why? 

I could say a lot of things here, the job of producer can vary between musical director, comedian, cheerleader, spiritual explorer, magician, guitar tech referee and psychiatrist. Sometimes it is best to just get out of the way and let the band create. The number one requirement is to be open minded and not to shut down ideas before you have thoroughly heard them through.

 Do you have any words of caution for artists looking to work with producers?

Make sure that you have heard their work, of course. But more importantly, make sure they hear what you’re saying to them when you tell them your ideas. There is nothing worse in the studio than inflexibility.

 What are your top tips for musicians wanting to communicate their ideas with a producer?

At the start of every session, I play the band’s music in front of them, and we’ll discuss ideas. Everyone gets a turn to speak, and if anybody comes up with a brilliant concept we write it on the big board. We also play music by other artists that inspires us. We point out various parts of the arrangement and sounds of instruments that are exciting to us. They don’t necessarily have to be relevant to what we are working on, but there is normally some crossover in this. People might play me a snare sound, and I might play them an illustration of how to build dynamics in the song.

Explain how you operate as a producer? 

This is a very loaded question, every job is completely different. I am often employed as a co-writer by a publisher or record company, and at the end of the session the artist and I both sign a split form where we both agree what our role was in the creation of the song. This cuts out all sorts of problems later.  But mostly, I work on other people’s songs for an agreed fee determined by my manager Giles Stanley. Everyone agrees what is fair, and we proceed accordingly. I do not own anybody’s masters, after I am paid for my services.

How should people get in touch with you about taking on a project?

I am very easy to find, I’ve been in this industry for 40 years and there’s a lot of waffle on the Internet about it. Please feel free to send me your wonderful hit records for me to work on.

Thanks Gavin for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.  Lastly, do you have any current projects you’d like to fill us in on that you can share with us?

I get very excited by independent music. It’s the life and soul of the industry, and I love working at a level where the band are still hungry and creating vital music. Music production is my life’s work and I have always got something interesting going on. I am currently working with several bands and solo artists who are destined for great things, watch this space.

dan lucas – AncHOR BABY RECORDING STUDIOS

In today’s feature we interview Dan Lucas of Anchor Baby Recording Studios, who describes his different approaches and techniques to recording and what it is to be a producer/engineer in the modern day music scene.  ABRC was established in 2005 in the heart of Kent UK. This large, purpose-built analog and digital recording studio has since become known as a unique and inspiring environment for the creation of recordings and mixes of the highest fidelity. Catering for genres across the board – from jazz, folk and blues through to indie, punk, metal and hardcore.

Songs produced at ABRC have been featured on BBC Radio One, Radio One Rock Show, Kerrang Radio, Planet Rock, Totalrock, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6, Radio X, Amazing Radio, BBC Introducing & hundreds more internationally.

Also make sure to check out the link below in which Dan takes Mike Exeter (English sound engineer and record producer who came to prominence via his work with British rock bands Cradle of Filth, Judas Priest Black Sabbath and more. He is also known for his work with the British guitar player Tony Iommi, being his longstanding creative studio partner) around his studio. https://youtu.be/BMxOzqWKHhE.

Dan, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be involved in our first ever feature about Producers working busily behind the scenes of the UK’s music scene.  The work that you, and other producers do is so often overlooked, but has been a fundamental part of what shapes UK music.  Producers contribute in more ways than is often given credit for.  We want to shine a light on what you do and what has inspired you to be in this business. Please tell us more.

What’s your working style?

I work wherever the artist is comfortable, that’s the most important thing for me. But, although my studio has a large console etc. , people always remark on how homely and relaxing it is.

What’s your musical background, if any?

I’ve been a musician since I was 4 years old, starting out with piano. At 8 I started playing guitar and bass, then started on drums at around age 12. As a musician I’ve played in various styles of bands, everything from a gypsy jazz trio to a thrash metal/hardcore band. I’ve toured over 30 countries as a musician with various artists, and recorded in numerous studios. I also sing and play various percussion instruments. I work with artists of extremely varied styles, and produce those artists in a way which is sympathetic to their music 

Who is your favourite producer and how have they influenced you by their working practices, Explain what you have learnt from them?

I couldn’t pick one really. But, I am a huge admirer of Kurt Ballou (best known as the guitarist for hardcore band Converge and for his prolific recording and production work at his own GodCity Studio). He has a knack for capturing raw energy of a band that lots of others can’t compete with.

Who have you been listening to recently?

Production is an ever-shifting craft, and it must be constantly studied. Producers should always be listening to music, both old and brand new, being experts of their main genre. Artists may want to find out the type of sounds that get you hyped, and they’ll want to have a general idea of the direction you’ll push them in.

There’s no straightforward answer really. I thought the Billie Eilish record was great, and the new Phoebe Bridger’s album. I often end up listening to lots of older stuff too though. The dark elements of The Cure and Killing Joke always get me, along with the beauty of early Coldplay records, the harmonies from old Disney soundtracks and the haunting soundscapes that Danny Elfmann creates.

Are you affiliated with a label, and do you have connections with publishing, A&R, TV/film, or radio companies?

I have produced records for bands on various labels, but I’m not affiliated with one as such.

What are the 5 qualities Musicians should look for in a producer and why? 

A creative brain, patience, an open mind, someone who the band respect in terms of their precious work, someone who makes the band feel like he/she is on their side.

Do you have any words of caution for artists looking to work with producers?

Do your homework! Is this producer outputting recordings that you admire?

What are your top tips for musicians wanting to communicate their ideas with a producer?

Do so in the politely manner, and understand that the producer is on your side (if you picked wisely!)

Explain how you operate as a producer?  Indicate whether you are paid by the hour or by the project, whether you have any ownership of the master recording, do you get any writer’s share if you play an instrument on the track or rearrange the song?

The way I charge varies depending on the project. No, I don’t take ownership of any master recordings or ask for writers points UNLESS I have substantially contributed to the writing of a track.

How should people get in touch with you about taking on a project?

Via the links on www.anchorbabyrecordings.com

Thanks Dan for this insightful interview.  Lastly, do you have any current projects you’d like to fill us in on that you can share with us?

I have recently finished the 3rd album for Hastings/LA band Maid of Ace – it’s a total assault on the ears, and made up of ten aggro punk rock songs. Another recent project includes the single “Coney Island, Baby!” for Salvation Jayne which covers everything from glossy pop vocal hooks through to huge QOTSA style guitar riffs. I’ve also been enjoying working with Bugeye and The Pearl Harts on some totally live studio sessions, among numerous other current projects ranging from gypsy jazz through to death metal.

Indie Future Music – Record of the Day

Today’s chosen Records of the Day – This is Music that has drawn our attention and has featured in our most recent playlists. Highlighting the best new, independent releases, and records to share with you each weekday.

chroma – Head in transit

Welsh trio, Chroma and their song Head in Transit gets our editorially chosen record of the day.  This is not only due to it having a great energy musically, but it’s also a song that reflects the current malaise everyone is experiencing at the present time.  This exciting new record, released via Talk Over Me Records. It begins with a striking hypnotic drone like guitar refrain that draws you in, with Zac’s almost Paul Cook like drum patterns accentuating everything Bev is playing on guitar, complementing each other musically.  The powerful vocals from front woman Katie Hall that are delivered in a conversational manner, accentuate the dissolution and collective impasse in people’s daily lives, where no one has the answers but people need to share their struggles nonetheless.  It feels as if the protagonist is trapped inside a call centre where other people’s problems run around their consciousness, as is described by the line ‘we all disintegrate into a state of dissolution.’  Bev’s gorgeous fuzz toned guitar is not too dissimilar to Ron Asheton’s in style as it generates a ferocious as well as hypnotic tone throughout the track.  It is both ragged and raw, droning persistently throughout the song to further intensify the meaning and  context of the song.  Zac’s drumming also builds the songs energy, as the drum rolls and crashes punctuate the melody.  This is a brilliant executed song that has a raw rhythmic energy uniquely of its own. This band have accomplished much during their career supporting the likes of Peace, IDLES, Astroid Boys, Pretty Vicious, VANT and Tigercub, and have received funding and support from Festival Republic and PRSF.  Their debut album is on hold for the time being.  On the strength of this single it is eagerly awaited.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

NEWS & VIEWS

latenight honeymoon – afterglow

Latenight Honeymoon new single ‘Afterglow’ released on 7th August, has so far gained attention from:

John Kennedy for giving ‘Afterglow’ a spin on Radio X “Afterglow from The Codependency EP out on August 28…Sounding Great on Radio X  Exposure!”

Andy Zicklin on Amazing Radio US show and for the quote “a really great live band”

& Black on Track Radio Show.

Independent Music News have premiered the single ‘Afterglow’ from their forthcoming EP Codependency: B.S.T. “Afterglow is an indie masterpiece packed full of meaning, remorse and enthusiasm. A beautiful reminder of the intricacies of the internet in an epidemic, Latenight Honeymoon are a band to look out for. Now go and play this song on repeat.”https://www.independentmusicnews.com/premiere-latenight-honeymoon-afterglow/

Full release Today 7th August

https://www.latenighthoneymoon.com/

salvATION jAYNE REMIX LISTENING PARTY & EP

YOU’RE INVITED – SALVATION JAYNE’S REMIX EP -LISTENING PARTY – THURSDAY 6TH AUGUST 8PM📌 Check in to the FB event: shorturl.at/nqFIX📌 Pre-Save on your streaming service: https://ingroov.es/remixes📌 Pre-order on Bandcamp with sales going towards Refuge : https://bit.ly/2CTm1OH

CLASH AUDIO AMMUNITION DOCUMENTARY

Such a revolutionary band The Clash were! Just seen this documentary which explains why, as the band discuss their writing and recording process. ‘Origination is instinct… being open to new ideas…nothing is off limits..not doing what’s expected. When you don’t realise what you’re doing then you do new original things.’ This is perhaps why they still remain such a creative force today, and an influence on contemporary music. Their writing absorbed their experiences and surroundings. Collectively they pressed forward by creating something that was a true reflection of themselves as musicians and people, and still sounds as exciting as it ever did.

Indie Future Music – New Releases

Copy of Copy of Indie Future Music Best

These are brand new Creative Sounds UK Music Playlists with some of the best tracks that have been on repeat play on our digital turn table. This week we’ve got 12 amazing artists tracks that cut new ground! Take a detour and drive into exciting new territory with the latest in Indie Rock Music. Our goal is to recognize the efforts of promoters, venues, Radio Stations and music fans who’ve been championing these new acts. Be part of this community in spreading the word in providing the necessary support for the UK Indie music scene to thrive. PLEASE LIKE & ADD THESE SPOTIFY PLAYLISTS TO YOUR PLAYLIST LIBRARIES! To ensure the emerging music we’re supporting gains more streams.

 

Playlist reviews

salvation jayne – remix ep

The new Remix EP released on Friday by Salvation Jayne defiantly breathes new life and energy into Rock. The EP Comprised of remixes by the awesome Saint Agnes, The Pearl Harts, Violet Vendetta, Jericho Tozer, Fuji Hideout & Tiiva. The quality of musicianship and mixing are what makes these tracks truly impressive! They encompass hard-edged electronic sound, with the added appeal that the mixers have created irresistible beats to match. Rave/Techno/Dance/Electro-Rock/Punk are all added into the mix resulting in an album full of unbridled energy. Music that is a glorious hybrid of post-hip-hop beats married to techno’s drive and punk. This EP will unite two very different types of music fans – ravers and rockers. This is music that is fiercely independent, stands on it’s own merits, and rages against being pigeonholed. These mixes have a unique energy of their own, and I expect they will be retained longer on your playlist than most hyped bands who come and go.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

the rills – the angler

This exciting new tune from the Rills has a catchy Libertines-esque melody, and a driving beat.  The song opens with some solid bass and drum work establishing the rhythmic structure of the song, reminiscent of Buckler and Foxton as an integral element of the band’s sound.  The stabbing guitars have a distorted gritty quality similar in tone to ‘The Ha Ha Wall.’  The Angler includes tasteful lead lines within a 3 or 4 note framework, and bouncy sing along vocals.  The observational style lyrics are both entertaining and perceptive.  The subject of the song is about a sycophant and poseur who tries too hard to impress, like ‘An actor who never plays a part’ with a dress sense to match. They jokingly compare the angler to ‘Angela Merkel in a shell suit.’  Undoubtedly there is a lot of promise in the band who’ve got talent, style and literary prowess in equal measure. I’m certain that we will be hearing a lot more from this Lincolnshire band in the near future.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

blab – R.IP.

Instantly catchy, guitar riff driven banger from (Essex Girl) Fran Murray, also known as BLAB. ‘RIP’ is her debut single released on Cool Thing Records, who certainly know a thing or two about championing exciting new music.  It’s a song full of attitude with a nod in the direction of the observational lyricism of Polystyrene, drenched in gorgeous heavy fuzz tones and expansive swaggering psychedelic pop sounds of Stone Roses.  

This is an anthem to breaking up and a big FU to a car crash of a relationship. With words spat out with sardonic wit, they aptly express both anger and disappointment “I gave you my heart, I gave you my car, I’m amazed that you managed to drive it this far.  I crawled underneath and I unscrewed the seats.  What a waste of a decade now you rest in peace.”

The production also heightens the mood of detachment and confusion, in the ethereal qualities of the backing vocals and alien space invaders blips. Like all the best Post Punk Music the dissonant noise adds to the songs charm. All in all there is a lot to hook you in with this track, and I am certain hearing this debut will keep you wanting for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Muca & La Marquise – ‘London’

‘London’ is an excellent debut by Muca & La Marquise, from Brazil and France retrospectively who wrote the song on a sunny afternoon in London Fields. It is an open love letter to the city. It tells the tale of two foreigners falling for the charms in town. The song has a charming joyful quality about it very much in the tradition of Astrud Gilberto’s Girl from Ipanema with sumptuously mellow chords. La Marquise sings passionately about her attachment to London, a city she has very much fallen in love with. The evocative lyrical motifs, the tone of her voice, and the three-piece band arrangement wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Keren Ann album. Her vocals are light, delicate, and pretty, somewhat like a modern-day Françoise Hardy everything about this new release injects new life into the genre. Listeners will be enchanted by the 60s Parisian jazz vibe brought very much up to date; celebrating the diversity of the city that welcomes musicians from across the world who settle here and make this their home. It is also very poignant, in these times of Brexit that this single celebrates the shared cultural heritage of the city, and engenders a deep sense of belonging. We look forward to hearing much more from these modern day troubadours.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Bitch Falcon – ‘gaslight’

Bitch Falcon’s ‘Gaslight’ is a powerful rock song with a message.  The song’s lyrics appear to express the vulnerabilities of being in the public eye, and the attempt to live up to another’s expectations that can ultimately effect a person’s sanity.   There is an intensity in the rhythmic structures and angular riffs laid down by Nigel Kenny on drums and Barry O’Sullivan on Bass.  This is combined with the hypnotic vocal delivery of Lizzie Fitzpatrick on vocals and guitar, whose vocals swirl around hauntingly like a person struggling to make sense of the situation.  The grunge like heaviness of the music creates a wave of sound that metaphorically feels like intense distortion, bearing down on the protagonist, threatening to drown them out with crushing doubts and insecurities.  There is an exciting other worldly unpredictable quality to this track.  There are distinct echoes and abstract splashes of Sugar Cubes and Gang of Four, and vintage post-punk or experimental groups.  The band from Dublin have clearly got a very exciting future ahead, and we look forward to hearing more from them in the near future.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After London – ‘operator’

With a huge sounding fuzz bass opening, this bold post punk song, opens with an energy that commands your attention, and doesn’t let go. It’s a cosmic blend of Peter Hook’s atmospheric guitar and  Howlett’s/Prodigy’s rock-inspired drum rhythms, infused with rave music beats/breaks that’ll have you dancing and fist pumping in equal measure. On first listening you’re immediately won over by After London’s sound, something that’ll fit comfortably on our playlist alongside Wolf Alice and Dream Wife. The punctuated drum beat accentuates the swagger of the lyrics, challenging anyone to moderate or control another’s behaviour. The singer spits out the lyrics with such strength and conviction, you feel swept along by the energy of the tune and compelled to join the party.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Cameron Hayes – ‘Super ego’

This is such a powerhouse of a song, complete with growling guitar and forceful lyrics. The vocals reach such volume and intensity throughout. Cameron’s, emotive, edgy voice typical of some of the best ‘Wall of sound artists,’ belts out a repetitive refrain about letting go of inhibitions, and living in the moment. This is a firm favourite, and will definitely be worth looking out for more exciting music from this artist in the future.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Witch Fever at The Lock Tavern


Witch Fever are an exciting young band who demand attention from the outset with songs which are raw and uncompromising and take the audience into new territories of noise, rhythm, and language.  Taking their cue from the attitude of Iggy Pop at his most furious imbued with the street poetics of fellow Mancunian poets like Mark E Smith, the lyrics are a parodic takedown of misogynistic stereotypes with tongue in cheek humour.

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The singer Amy captivates the audience with her sardonic firebrand lyrics in which words operate at exciting conjunctions with music and performance to create a riotous live show. Her skill as a vocalist shines through allowing her to combine a raw vocal delivery with astonishing range, sustaining notes in a way that adds ferocity to the message like a rallying cry for change. There’s is a message of conviction and confidence throughout the set underpinned by Alisha’s guitar skills, using many textures and techniques that create an incredible rhythmic drive in conjunction to Annabelle’s thunderous battle rhythms.

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Added to this is Alex on bass who lends a gritty dirty fuzz with top-of-the-beat steadiness to support Amy’s dynamics as a vocalist and adds the glue to their sound.  Throughout she contributes vocal harmonies and playful banter on stage with the rest of them.  At one point Alex goes into the audience following Amy’s cue and she returns to the stage lying down on her back with Amy looking humorously down at her bandmate, both of them having given it their all. They have an explosive energy on stage that is unpredictable and exciting to watch.  This added to the chemistry they have as a band is truly is infectious.

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Witch Fever definitely connected with the crowd this evening putting on an undeniably memorable show. They are all talented songwriters, who are clearly adding an exciting energy to the live circuit.

Witch Fever at The Lock Tavern

Set List

Daddy pt.2

In Birth

Carpet Asphyxiation

Creeper

Bully Boy

Toothless

Dictum

 

Photo’s  Jeff Moh

 

Album Review :: Joan As Police Woman – Damned Devotion

Album

Joan As Police Woman

Damned Devotion

February 9 2018 (Play It Again Sam/Pias)

9/10

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

 

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‘Damned Devotion’ is Joan Wasser’s fifth album as Joan As Police Woman and is a triumph in writing that touches upon levels of raw honesty, with songs that express uncertainty and acceptance of the ephemeral quality of human experience, that move the listener through feelings of hope, laughter, tears and love.

The album kicks off with a beautifully haunting soulful number called ‘Wonderful’ which is reminiscent of Al Green; expressing a sense of being lost in the moment. The tone in which Wasser sings expresses a sense of letting go of the past and opening up to new beginnings. The sweet and soothing tones are accompanied by a Portishead pulsating drum sound that weaves naturally with the vocals, and bond strange sounds together with real emotional force.

‘Warning Bell’, a song about not seeing what might come next and perhaps based on this karmic tendency, utilizes inventive drum machine programming and keyboards evoking the sound of the hands on a clock turning, and perhaps the circular nature of repeating the same mistakes. The hypnotically soulful ‘Tell Me Tell Me’ is a number full of softness and warmth. The call and response quality of the vocals makes you feel that Wasser is exhorting the other person or herself to listen to their inner voice, to do that which will make them truly fulfilled and happy, and isn’t dependent on another’s expectations.

‘Steed (for Jean Genet)’  is reminiscent of the funk groove of Prince’s ‘Paisley Park’. A dizzying sensual tune that compels the listener to lose themselves in the persuasive beat, as if being driven by physical appetite rather than spiritual need; while the title track makes great use of programmed drums to create a sound like a person being both enslaved by the affections of another but and at the same time enthralled by that attachment, and unable to break free.

The wonderfully atmospheric number ‘The Silence’ uses repetitive drum beats and repeated phrases to expresses the fear and inhibition of revealing the truth and the inevitable consequences. Exaggerated by the disturbing repeated phrase of ‘the silence’ it accentuates the exact opposite as it reaches a deafening crescendo. One of the highlights of the album.

Elsewhere, ‘Talk About It Later’ has the qualities of an Alabama Shakes song with a great soulful groove and rock guitar sound, ending up with just the bass sound complemented by great backing vocals; ‘Silly Me’ too has a similar feel with spartan guitar and keys that accentuates the self-reflective quality of the song. ‘I Don’t Mind’ completes the album with echoing drum and words that encourage the listener to see there are no sureties in life, and experience can teach us lots if we choose to learn from what life throws at us.

What one is left with when hearing the songs on ‘Damned Devotion’ is just how well Wasser articulates the contradictions in life that drive as well as bind; and the individual’s ability to create personal purpose against the odds. It’s an exhilarating album that takes the listener on a journey of emotional exploration and discovery.

http://littleindieblogs.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/album-review-joan-as-police-woman.html

CADILLAC THREE GET THEIR BUZZ ON AT THE EMPIRE Cadillac Three/Tyler Bryant And The Shakedown Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London Sunday 6th November Words: Ade Riches, Pictures Eric Duvet

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Southern American country rock is developing an ever increasing audience in the UK enjoying the mix of southern rock, blues and hard rock. There is something genuinely compelling about the soulful patchwork of roots-infused melodies, muscular riffs and rambunctious, raw and real rock’n’roll.

So it came as no real surprise when I arrived to see a packed out Shepherd’s Bush Empire populated by genuine fans of the genre that devotedly follow the stable of acts who are becoming an ever increasing presence on the UK rock scene with bands such as Whisky Myers, 1000 Horses, Blackberry Smoke and more.

Tyler Bryant blasted off tonight’s proceedings, beginning with an almighty rally cry to the cause. “Are we ready to party?” he exclaimed. Then it was all engines burning into the funky refrain of ‘Weak And Weepin” that certainly woke up the Empire. Incredibly tight interplay between drums and backing allow Bryant to showcase his mastery of the blues guitar, sustaining the audience’s reaction with improvisation that speeds up and slows down excitingly to build the opening number to a crescendo.

cadillac three

Their next number, ‘Criminal Imagination’, kicks off with a thunderous bass pattern sounding distinctly Grunge like in the realms of Alice In Chains meets Lenny Kravitz. There is great interplay between both guitarists with incredible dual lead patterns that excite the audience even further. Whilst keeping the music flowing the band thank the audience for showing their support for live music and take a quick moment to show their pride at being on tour with their fellow Tennessee countrymen.

Without hesitation the second song moves seamlessly into the next, ‘House On Fire,’ a raunchier number heard on the ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ soundtrack. Tyler Bryant’s exhortation in his lyric is to set the house on fire tonight emphasised by rolls on drums. The band expertly builds the atmosphere, coaxing the audience to put their hands along to Bryant’s solo improvisations which are truly impressive.

It is safe to say that the audience are loving every minute and it is understandable why The Shakedown have supported some of the biggest artists on the planet including ZZ Top and AC/DC in Europe earlier this year.

cadillac three

Tyler remarks that he has known Cadillac Three for eight/nine years and emphasises that the band have been in the UK more than they have been in their own country and then goes onto introduce the various band members.

‘Downtown Tonight’ is the next song that begins with Tyler making a real point of encouraging the audience to show him their hands and to make some music together. The band continue to keep warming the audience with their infectious energy and this adds extra excitement to the opening of the song. With a wonderful repetitive slide guitar refrain the song builds and builds and clearly shows some traces of the influence of elder bluesman in Bryant’s playing. This allows for some sterling guitar work that at times is reminiscent of the finger picking style of Jeff Beck using echo and the theatre acoustics to good effect.

The band gradually increases the speed of the rhythm and show just how tight they are as a unit. Once again the audience are spellbound by their skill and artistry as a band.

cadillac three

Tyler explains that the next song they will play honours the influence of the founders of rock music he has grown up with and is a tribute to their love of the blues that led them to discover the music of the Cadillac Three. He asks everyone in the audience to “drink to the cause”, explaining that nobody can touch this music and we are honouring it tonight. The band plays a great interpretation of ‘Got My Mojo Working’ that speeds up half way through the song and takes on all the characteristics of Deep Purple at full throttle. Tyler uses the octave effect pedal to create eerie open string pedal tones that contribute to the unique Stratocaster sound he has developed in which his phrasing gives way to lightning fast finger changes during his solo.

‘Aftershock’ has grungy tones reminiscent of Soundgarden in which Tyler moves effortlessly up and down the guitar fret board in semitones that finally give way to a frenzy of arpeggios. The song has a wonderful pounding bass line throughout that allows Tyler the space to move from a fast crescendo to end on a slow blues refrain.

Finally Tyler introduces the penultimate number and to play a bit of blues for us that he promises will take us to the Mississippi delta. ‘Lipstick Wonder Woman’ is a great song to end on with him showing his mastery of the slide guitar. He expertly gets the most out of the slide with a sound straight from the bayou, exemplifying Bryant’s guitar and songwriting work with its stripped down sound.

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The band play us out with their final song, ‘House That Jack Built’ which allows Graham to show off his guitar artistry and has everyone in the house totally enthralled as they end with rapturous audience response.

Following a short intermission the band that almost everyone has come to see The Cadillac Three, one of country’s heaviest sounding bands, gently walk across the stage waving their hands in utmost appreciation as the applause erupts in the auditorium.

There is a funky backing track in the background that allows the band to take up their positions. They plug in and slip into the groove of the backing, allowing their playing to slowly build in volume until it becomes clear their opening number is ‘Bury Me In My Boots’. Without hesitation the audience sing back the lyrics. This is a song that clearly has commercial appeal and is a great attempt at southern rock breaking into the mainstream with a huge sound created by the three of them.

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‘Slide’ is the next song, and it’s a little more akin to their rock’n’roll sound which allows Jaren the lead singer to strap on his lead guitar whilst Kelby on lap steel takes over main vocal duties. It’s great to see the musical interplay between the various members who instinctively respond to one another musically on stage. Then it’s straight into the next song, ‘Soundtrack To A Six Pack’, a gritty, high-energy, rock-driven party tune that really gets the audience buzzingand really encapsulates what this night is about, “kickin’ on back with good friends, dancin’ like they’re on a mission”.

The band provides a healthy dose of slide guitar and relentless percussion to really get the party started and ‘Tennessee Mojo’ has an infectious repetitive slide guitar refrain with a great sing along chorus that gets everyone bopping their heads and singing back the words in approval. This is a great number that you just want to keep on going. The instruments cut out and the room bellows to the sound of ‘Back Down South Don’t Ya Know’, punctuated with impressive drumming. The band clearly love what they are doing in equal measure.

As if it couldn’t get better ‘Back it Up’ is another great song with a pounding beat that is almost Bonhamesque in just how hard Neil Mason hits the drums. The band gets the audience singing back every line, creating an incredible audience reaction the like of which I haven’t seen in a while. Cleverly controlling the feedback from the speakers Jaren strikes harder at his guitar and as the music reaches a crescendo, he throws a can in the air, shouting “it’s good to be back in London and seeing you getting bigger and bigger every time”, and it’s clear to see why.

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There is a quick guitar change and the band ramp up the volume into the heavy ‘I’m Southern’ which has another infectious sing along chorus and the band play another electrifying performance that instantly connects with the crowds.

‘Party Like You’, has a nice funky riff that has everyone clapping and is definitely a fan-favourite due to its high-energy. It also has great instrumentation with hints of Ram Jam’s song ‘Black Betty’ and is awash with great country party clichés. When a band like this has the ability to go by their own rules musically, I feel at times the song swings too much towards bro country territory.

That being said the next song, ‘Graffiti’, is for me a fabulous song lyrically with all the emotional depth and sentiment of Springsteen at his best expressing the adventure of youth and what it’s like growing up in a small town.

Jaren responds to the audience’s affection for the band and shows his gratitude for their support by exclaiming: “It’s pretty cool and we sure appreciate you! We’re with you like Braveheart or some shit”.

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‘Running Red lights’ is a tremendously powerful ballad that is a heartfelt tribute to Jaren’s wife. It’s clear by the emotional intensity in his voice just how much it means for her to be with him in the audience this evening. The stripped back guitar accentuates the desperation in Jaren’s voice, and features stunning lap steel guitar playing from Kelby Ray Caldwell. When the band stops everyone in the audience continue singing the chorus right up until the end. Jaren explains to everyone that they’ve come a long way from the Barfly and he thanks everyone for supporting southern rock.

‘Peace Love And Dixie’ has a funky riff and infectious drum pattern, in a similar vein to Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’. It clearly fixes the band’s colours firmly to their mast and is their modern day anthem to the south.

‘Get Your Buzz On’ has a great interplay between Jaren and the drummer Neil Mason who once again hits the drums with such force and complexity in his playing, it is truly stunning to watch him in action. This follows with ‘Life’, a very bluesy number about relationships you don’t want to get into, Jaren explains.

‘Down To The River’ is a powerhouse of a performance with both flanger and phase effects fully turned up on his guitar; Jaren controls the resulting feedback with considerable skill and assertiveness. The song seems like a spiritual yearning to return back to his roots when troubles are too much to bear, and for Jaren this means that deliverance comes to him in the waters of the delta. He flicks his guitar pick in his hand as if to shrug off life’s adversities. He breaks into a lead guitar burst over his back and explains how he has been crying between songs and is a little embarrassed.

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‘Days Of Gold’ is a real foot tapper of a song and the audience happily sing and clap along getting everyone back into a party atmosphere while one of the final highlights of the evening’s set is ‘White Lightning’, a song that the band fought for to as their first choice single for Big Machine record label as it is a firm favourite that everyone knows the lyrics to, a ballad Jaren wrote to his wife.

The Empire once again erupts to the sound of the whole audience singing each and every line of the song and it’s a great way to end tonight’s performance and there’s a feeling of being uplifted by the great atmosphere and sheer enjoyment felt by everyone in the room.

There is an encore and Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown join Cadillac Three on stage with a Tom Petty jam. Jaren reminds everyone that he has known this kid for a long time and it’s clear they have taken him to their hearts. They finish with their last song, ‘The South’, about being raised in Nashville, Tennessee.

People had come to be entertained by a band with their roots unashamedly in southern American rock, who have targeted the European market more than any other. It is clear all their hard work has paid off, and the transition to bigger venues is definitely on the cards. Whilst taking their bow Jaren ends the show with these final words: “God Bless London, and God Bless the south!”

Cadillac Three setlist:
Bury Me In My Boots
Slide
Soundtrack To A Six Pack
Tennessee Mojo
Back It Up
Party Like You
Graffiti
Running Red lights
Peace Love And Dixie
Get Your Buzz On
Life
Down To The River
Days Of Gold
White Lightning
The South

Tyler Bryant Setlist:
Weak & Weepin’
Criminal Imagination
House On Fire
Downtown Tonight
Mojo Workin’
Aftershock
Lipstick Wonder Woman
House That Jack Built

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LIVING OUT ROCK N’ ROLL. THE STORY OF THE BABYSITTERS AND THE LAST OF THE TEENAGE IDOLS Film Reviewer: Ade Riches 25.9.13

livinoutrocknroll

Some of our most famous rock and pop stars are associated with North Kensington and have lived, posed, played and died in the area.

So how fitting it is to be watching a film at the Portobello Pop Up Theatre at the heart of the Portobello Counter Culture scene watching Livin’ Out Rock n’ Roll about London’s Babysitters and the Last of the Teenage Idols.

This is a rockumentary that perfectly encapsulates a time in the 80s when rock bands purposely chose to tart themselves up, and deliver hard rock with a self-conscious wit.

The Babysitters were formed in the spring of 82 by a chance meeting in Carnaby Street which was also a local hang out for Hanoi Rocks and other such luminaries. Fed on a diet of various Dolls and Heartbreakers numbers the band established itself on the London music scene playing with Marionette, Hanoi Rocks and others at places like Dingwalls and The Marquee, resulting in a support on Hanoi Rocks’ UK tour.

The film traces the development of the band, showcases their live appearances and highlights the ups and downs of their career. They had everything to play for with regular appearances in the music press such as Sounds, Melody Maker and Kerrang.

We hear about the hilarious antics of the band supporting Hawkwind on their UK tour including incidents involving effect pedals and stink bombs, manure on stage and other startling tales.

Among the interviewees are Buttz, Shuff, Vom Ritchie (Die Toten Hosen) and journalists Ben Marshall and David Stubbs. Charlie Harper, Captain Sensible and Mike Read also make cameo appearances. There is also a section on the London rock scene below the offices of Melody Maker.

The film aptly displays the impressive energy with which they pushed themselves, against impossible odds at times. It’s heart-warming to see how they overcame adversity with such great sense of humour.

As is often the case with bands who burn so brightly in their early years the in-fighting and last minute line-up changes proved to be this band’s final undoing.

Buttz talks about forming his new band, ‘Last Of The Teenage Idols’, releasing one album. Boo went on to play in T-Rextasy, Jimbo went off to America and did actually form a Babysitters 2 for a short time and Stick returned to civilian life.

We are left in no doubt at the end of the film that these four blokes on stage clearly had the time of their lives just by being themselves, laughing and enjoying the rock n’ roll lifestyle with no external outside influences and expectations.

We share the roller coaster ride with them, and it’s a real and genuine account of the lifestyle. Living Out Rock N’ Roll is fun, entertaining and insightful.

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