Wednesday, 29 November 2017

EP Review: XXX ~ DIRTY ORANGE

Dirty Orange are a swaggering rock n' roll three piece from London made up of George Wilkins, Scott Thompson and Connor O'Shea. Describing their sound as 'raw rock with plenty of energy, vitality and meaningful lyrics,', the band have been together for almost two years now and already have a number of impressive live appearances and studio recordings under their belt.

New four track EP 'XXX' resonates an immersive aura of raw and emphatic opulence from start to finish. Opening number 'Time and Again', with its' extravagant and vehement sense of urgency, is my personal favourite. The track is defined by ardent vocals, delivered with style and spirit throughout.


'Dancing with the Gypsy' is laced with attitude and stellar instrumentation; it's gripping, fierce and delightfully irascible. So too is the melodiously arresting 'I Don't Mind'; suspenseful, absorbing and fierce from the start, this track is defined by thunderous drum beats and gravelly vocals. Rock n' roll at it's finest.

Bringing proceedings to an explosive and unequivocal cessation is the sharp and fiery 'Council Estate'. Jaunty riffage atop a once again vociferous vocal styling ensure that the EP most definitely goes out with one hell of a bang.

With an art for rich and immersive songcraft, Dirty Orange are most certainly the festival headliners of tomorrow; theirs is the kind of music you can imagine reverberating through huge crowds. Their highly charged musical swagger will undoubtedly lead them to success in the very near future.

Listen to Dirty Orange below:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /dirtyorangeband
Twitter: @dirtyorange3
Instagram: @dirtyorangeband

Monday, 27 November 2017

An Interview With QUEEN ZEE ~ 12.11.17

It's been a gargantuan year for Liverpool based quintet Queen Zee & the Sasstones. They've played alongside the likes of Cabbage and Marmozets, performed at some of the UK's most prominent music festivals over the course of the Summer and celebrated the release of a monumental EP in the form of 'Eat My Sass'.

As months of relentless touring reached its' cosmic conclusion at Leeds' Pie Race Festival, I was able to talk to Zee about all things past, present and future. Endearingly warm, stark and quick-witted, here is a character quite difficult to portray accordingly in words and do her justice. Undeniably, Queen Zee & the Sasstones are an incredibly special kind of band, and not only because of their flair for immersive, gripping and unequivocally fierce punk rock... it goes far beyond that; they are a band for the modern age, celebrating diversity, equality and humanity through their artform.


How and when did you all first come together as a band?
I met Jay in 2015. I was writing poetry and he was doing black metal type guitar stuff. I was going to put poetry over it... it was awful! We had a gig and he didn't turn up, and then six months later I put the demos of Queen Zee online... he was like 'I don't like the demos, but lets do a band anyway!' 2 days later, we played a gig... it was horrendous but yeah, that was the start of it.

What did you grow up listening to, and how did it influence you?
My dad was in a hardcore punk band called Moth Fucker! I think that influenced me a lot. I grew up around punk music but I always loved 80's stuff, like The Human League, Dead or Alive and all of that. I think I liked the bands that kind of merged all of that together, so post-punk type bands like Joy Division. Then I discovered Manson, Placebo... I latched on to that in terms of gender issues and stuff like that. I was a big Placebo obsessive!

You recently released the 'Sass Or Die' EP... what sort of reception has it received?
We kind of just slipped it under the radar and didn't really do too much press around it or push it, so it's been quite nice just to road test it and just go out and play it every night. The response to it in terms of the single, and 7-inch as well, has been great. It was on the footy... it was on Scotlands' World Cup match! To have a song about gender violence appear on Soccer AM or whatever it's called was cool! To get that little nod from the mainstream was flattering.


Were there any particular themes, topics or emotions that you wanted to explore creatively whilst writing it?
We didn't really write it as an EP... we've just written songs freely for like a year and a half and then we were planning on doing three 7-inches. We did one, and then instead of doing the second and third one we decided to do four songs instead of two. Some of them are old and some of them are new so there's not really a coherent theme. I think we just write from experience about what are lives are like at that time.

You've spent a lot of time on the road over the last few months... is there anywhere you always particularly look forward to playing or have had good experiences in the past?
Leeds is great! The last time we played in Leeds really was one of our best shows. We've always really struggled in London. When we first played there, we had a really bad reception but then more recently, our last three London gigs have been really great. We played at The Garage and it was one of the best nights of my life. It was amazing. London is really fun, but then it's also fun to play in little towns too... my favourite place to play is Scotland. It's just fun to be there and I always enjoy it. It's just so hospitable, and whenever you go there you feel really welcomed.

Music aside, have you got any interesting hobbies or strange talents?
We recently discovered that I'm really good at jumping really high. There were all these steps so we were trying to see how many we could jump up, and I managed to jump up eight steps! Everyone was really impressed. On stage I do a lot of climbing.


There seems to have been a bit of a resurgence of punk into the music industry, and it is a word I see attached to your name quite often; how do you feel about that?
I hate it when bands are very obviously part of something, you know when Korn were like 'No, we are not a new metal band!' Yeah, you are... just accept it. So if people think we're a punk band, then yeah sure. We don't try to be a punk band... we don't sit down and all listen to the Sex Pistols and think they're great. There's different influences in there and I don't think any of us actually listen to that much punk music. In terms of DIY ethos, I think that's where we all came from and that's the scene that we're from so I think I'm quite proud of it... but I think proper punks might be offended!

You recently posted a statement on social media thanking people for their love and support in the year that you've been performing as a transgender woman. Have the experiences that you've had in this last twelve months  had  an impact on your concept of music, making music and of the industry as a whole?
I think I was very scared when we first started this. I even lied to our manager. It's very obvious when you listen to the songs how I think, feel and what I've got going on in my head, but my manager asked me some really blunt questions about it and I lied to him because I think I was really worried that I'd be judged or singled out as I have been in the past. It's actually been incredibly welcoming. We've got a really great team around us who are very supportive and comforting, so the industry itself has been really great. Obviously we are alienated from certain aspects of it and I am maybe treated with a little bit of disrespect here and there but as a whole, it's been really nice. Going on stage every night and connecting with people is something that makes me feel a lot less alone, which is an amazing feeling. I don't think I would have been able to go through my journey in the same way if I hadn't been playing music.

Did the Queen Zee persona emerge from your experiences in this last year?
In terms of a band and what makes it up, I do think the band is always going to be an exaggerated version of yourself... so when I'm on stage and I'm really angry, I don't walk around being that angry all of the time! When I'm really sad, over dramatic and a bit of an emo, I'm not like that at home. It's  a way of getting it out but at the same time it is still you. It's a bit like theatre. Queen Zee is very much myself but exaggerated!


In terms of the bands' creative process, are you the primary songwriter?
Myself and Jay kind of share the heavy lifting. Jay typically turns up with songs that are done and he's like 'This is it, this is where we go,' and I'll write the lyrics on top where as when I turn up with an idea it's half finished... it'll be like a riff and we'll just jam it out but that was when we were a two-piece band. Since new members have come in, it's more of a jamming process. Franks' bass playing is amazing, same with Daves' drumming. The song's not done until everyone has had their input. I'd say myself and Jay write most of it, but everyone else has their moment!

Would you rather be able to travel back in time or see into the future?
See into the future. You can have an idea of the past from books, photos and so on but the future... you just don't know. I think maybe there's a manipulative part of me that would love to know what's going to happen and then use that to my advantage! If I know something horrible is going to happen, I can stay out of it!

Have you got any guilty pleasures? (At this point bassist Frank and drummer Dave join in)
Zee: I love Pointless. I'm obsessed with Pointless. Frank, do you want to get in on this?
Frank: What's going on?
Zee: We're talking about Pointless!
Frank: Oh yeah, Pointless is well sick.
Zee: Guilty pleasures though... we watch endless Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.
Frank: I wouldn't say that's a guilty pleasure! It's really good.
Zee: I don't feel guilty at all.
Frank: I really like Bargain Hunt.
Zee: There's another one... we feel kind of bad about liking Undercover Boss.
Frank: Undercover Boss... I think it's a bit crap.
Zee: It is crap, but we do enjoy watching it. I love the really shit makeovers they give them! They give them highlights and no one recognises them which is brilliant!
Frank: What about you, Dave? Is it smooth music?
Dave: It probably is smooth music. Storage Hunters, as well.
Zee: With touring, people think you're in a van and you're partying and having a great time. Touring is spending at least 12 hours a day in a Travelodge with Channel 4 watching Kitchen Nightmares and that's it... and Pointless. I watched one with Dick and Dom in it and they turned out to be really clever. Pointless is just the most punk-rock thing going... you heard it here first.
Dave: What's the guy called that presents it?
Frank: Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman.
Zee: He's just done an album just called 'Xander'. I know this because we've got a single coming out and we have to look at what's being released on the same day and it's Bradley Walsh and Xander. That's what we're up against.


If you had to sum up 2017 in one definitive emotion, what would it be and why?
Zee: Tiredness.
Dave: Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares... but all one word.
Zee: Exhausted. We're very exhausted but it's been-
Dave: Good. It's been alright.
Frank: I'd say 'testing'.
Zee: I do think this year has been a 'show us what you've got' kind of thing because we did our first bit of touring, our first single came out and then the EP. We were going out with bands like Marmozets who are really serious and slay it every night and it's like 'Can you keep up with them?' So yeah, it's been a test... and I'd like to think we did okay!
Frank: I think we did really well.
Zee: We've cried a few times!
Frank: You've cried a few times...
Dave: You cried at Monsters Inc a few days ago!
Frank: It's pretty emotional. The ending where Sully has to say goodbye to Boo...

Finally... what are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future?
Frank: Just carry on, really.
Zee: We're really hoping to open a restaurant that fails so that Gordon Ramsay can come in.
Frank: He can shout at us a little bit.
Zee: You know when it's like three in the morning and you feel like you should be asleep? I was googling what his favourite song was and I found out that it was 'Yellow' by Coldplay and now I feel like he might appreciate what we do! But in terms of seriousness, we're gonna release some more music and we're gonna play more shows. We're going to keep doing that until people stop wanting us to do it... or until one of us dies. Although if one of us dies, we can just replace them... until at least four of us die.


Listen to Queen Zee & the Sasstones below:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /queenzeeandthesasstones
Twitter: @queenzeeuk
Instagram: @queenzeeuk

 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Single Review: Up All Night ~ THE WIRED

Sheffield based quartet The Wired (comprised of Caleb Smelt, Jacob Beaumont, Richard May and Max Smith) have seemingly been a little quiet over the course of 2017, but the concluding half of the year thus far has seen them cascade back onto the scene in colossal style with a string of titanic live appearances across the country, and a brand new studio release in the form of the catchy and compelling 'Up All Night'.


The track seamlessly detonates with jaunty riffage and emphatic drum cadences. Energetic, edgy and articulated from the word go, 'Up All Night' is an unwaveringly resolute display of indie-rock n' roll at its' absolute finest. It's dexterously defined by a cool, harmoniously buoyant vocal verve, and is packed full of zealously beat-driven melodic mystique. Definitely the bands' finest offering to date.



'Up All Night' is available from Friday 24th November via all major music platforms. The band are set to play a mammoth hometown headline gig at Plug on Saturday 2nd December. Tickets available here.

Listen to The Wired below:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /thewiredsheffield
Twitter:@__thewired
Instagram:@__thewired

Monday, 20 November 2017

An Interview With SHEAFS ~ 10.11.17

With an already impressive back catalogue of studio single releases behind them, and an ever growing repute for their colossal live performances,  SHEAFS (made up of Lawrence Feenstra, Callum Wright, Charlie Eastap, Charles Mellor and Chris Goodacre) are fast becoming the ones' to beat on the Sheffield music scene. Latest release 'This Is Not A Protest', with its' ferocious riffs and angsty lyricism, was unassailable in its' delivery and earned the band deserved high acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1, This Feeling and Radio X. One thing's for certain, they are a band with a big presence; emphatic, unequivocal vocals atop vehement instrumentation ensures that once seen, these guys are impossible to forget.

I was able to speak with frontman Lawrence and bassist Cal following their final hometown show of 2017 at Sheffields' The Leadmill. Having just played a triumphant set to a sold out crowd, the energy and delight from the pair was evident, and it was interesting to hear more of the successes within their career thus far.


How and when did you first come together as a band?
Cal: You take the lead here, mate. Well I wasn't there initially, was I?
Lawrence: Me, Chris and Charles all knew one another from somewhere or another, and then we were like 'Well we can't start a band with just a singer and two guitarists so lets put an advert out, reluctantly, for a bassist and a drummer as well.' We did that, and managed to draft in Cal and Charlie... that was it, really!
Cal: That's a little bit inaccurate really, because actually I put an advert out for myself. I was a guitarist actually, I didn't play bass.
Lawrence: A very good one, I must say.  

What did you guys grow up listening to, and how did it inspire you?
Cal: Lawrence was into a lot of N-Dubz.
Lawrence: Can we just judge each other? That would be more fun. Cal started out with My Chemical Romance.
Cal: I dabbled in Slipknot. Just dabbled. It wasn't intense, but I dabbled. What were you into? Lawrence would listen to N-Dubz, Tinchy Stryder... big Tinchy Strider fan. When we're backstage, that's sort of like your go-to isn't it? The one.
Lawrence: Who, sorry? Is he an insect?
Cal: You were into a lot of Spandau Ballet...
Lawrence: To be fair, serious answer now, I got into music quite late. My mates who listened to music would listen to more electronic kind of stuff really... more dance music. Then through some way or another I moved on to what I suppose is more indie music... stupid things like The Wombats, basically what you'd listen to when you're younger. Stupid songs like that and then I realised that I was a little bit different to my mates. Every time Arctic Monkeys or something like that would come on, I'd be well into it but as soon as Deadmau5 or something like that came on I was a bit like 'Ugh.'
Cal: I'm the same really because I think when you're growing up, you're more into what your mates are listening to... but then you find your own.
Lawrence: It's a bit collective really, isn't it. It's trying to find your way when you're younger and shit, and then that's kind of the pivotal point where you go 'Right, actually... I prefer guitar music even though everybody else is into dance music.'
Cal: I think the difference as well is that if you have a friendship group who are into dance music or whatever, when you start to break away from all of that you're just a little bit more passionate about it because you found it yourself as opposed to being exposed to it by your friends. When I went to uni, that was kind of like my thing and I wanted to be in a band. I do think we all got into it quite late.
Lawrence: Definitely. I only started playing guitar when I was 18. I only got a guitar because I wanted to play songs on a night to listen to. I just wanted to play along to the songs that I liked to listen to and then from there, it kind of just grows.


You've had a pretty big year so far; you had quite a big festival season, a couple of successful single releases and plenty of praise... I don't mean to feed anyones' ego here! If you had to pick just one highlight of 2017 so far, what would it be and why?
Cal: I think we both know what the highlight would be, really. It's probably Y-Not isn't it? It's got to be.
Lawrence: Awkward. I was going to say Tramlines! I think it's different though. Faith, everything that we do at this point is new to us... everything we do. So when we played Y-Not, we played the allotment stage and we had a bit of a point to prove, I think. We'd made a bit of an impression at Isle of Wight and Y-Not was our chance to prove ourselves.
Cal: Y-Not for me personally is like my hometown festival because I'm from Derby which is really close where it's set, so it was a really big thing for me. It was the first festival I ever went to. It was very special for us, but everyone else who went to that festival hated it!
Lawrence: It's probably the closest we'll get to like a mainstream festival, I think.
Cal: Probably. Quarry Stage aside, we had a really great time at the Allotment Stage with This Feeling. We came off stage and we were buzzing because it'd gone really well, and then we got asked to do the Quarry Stage.
Lawrence: It was massively last minute. I remember Charles had that bottle of whiskey... he came off stage and there was about three quarters of this bottle of whiskey left. As soon as we came off stage, it was a bit of a relief. We felt like it went well and we were celebrating. Aaron Procter got a message over his earpiece or whatever and he was like 'Look lads, do you want to play the Quarry Stage?' and of course we said 'Too right, we fucking do!' Next minute, we were smashing all of the gear over to the other side.
Cal: We were under the impression that it was happening in a few hours, but then we were told it was now and that we had to be over there straight away.
Lawrence: I don't know how you can top that personally, as a band. You come off stage after a performance where you're literally on the ceiling and you think it's fucking massive... and it is massive for us, and then you come off and go over to do something magnified. I say this honestly, I don't think we'll ever be able to top that.
Cal: Even down the line if we get to do a show in front of that many people again, which obviously we hope we do, it might be planned and we'd expect it... but with that, we were kind of all ready in deep water with it being a festival, and then we were pushed in even deeper. I don't know if you remember, but I said to you 'People are going to leave when we start playing. Just expect it.'  They weren't expecting us... they were expecting a rapper, bear in mind. It's such a different genre.
Lawrence: We tried our best to get them involved.

Did someone drop out? Is that how you got the slot?
Cal: It was Nadia Rose, the rapper. I'm very grateful that Nadia didn't make it... sorry, Nadia. We got told we were playing the Quarry, which is brilliant, but when we were told who we were replacing... such a different artist. Solo artist, rapper... completely different. But somehow it worked! Somehow we made it work and we are so grateful. I couldn't stop smiling, which is kind of weird for me on stage because we try to be a bit... cool.
Lawrence: I don't know what he's talking about...
Cal: It was awful weather. When I say we had to walk through mud to get our gear to the other side... it was a walk that, realistically, should have taken us five minutes but it took us fifteen. It's memories, though!


Music aside, has anyone in the band got any strange talents or interesting hobbies?
Cal: Lawro's pretty good at football. It's not very strange, but he's quite good. Again, I'm pretty good at football. Nah, I'm awful.
Lawrence: You know when you're in PE and you're forced to do rounders or whatever... you know when you do stupid sports like that? As much as I like Callum, he might be the last person you'd pick. Only because if you ask him to throw a stone across the room, he wouldn't hit the wall.
Cal: Maybe my talent is not being good at sport... which then is a talent because I'm very good at it. I'm trying to think of other talents... Charles is the best bartender in Sheffield. Have you ever seen him pour a pint?! He does it with grace and art. And Chris...
Lawrence: Chris has got the best haircut in Sheffield.
Cal: That's his talent... having a good haircut! And to be fair, and he'll love this, he's quite good at writing tunes. Apart from that mate, you're pretty bad.
Lawrence: Pretty average.
Cal: Charlie is mint, isn't he? Just at everything. He's just one of those guys. We have a good time!


I really like how loud, expressive and opinionated your music is. Do you think it's important not only to use music as an outlet for entertainment but to try and educate people and get them talking as well?
Cal: I think it depends what sort of artist you are and what you're trying to expres, really. If you're trying to express angst, which I suppose is our kind of thing. We're not very political. Well we are individually, but not through our music... yet! Watch this space... second album! Our music is more about social stuff... 'Mind Pollution' have themes about things we're perhaps a little bit dissatisfied with. In terms of politics, a lot of bands like that are doing really well. We're really big fans of a band called Strange Bones and they do the whole political thing amazingly. They've got their heads screwed on and the music that they make is just amazing and quite resonant. I do think some bands really benefit from being quite expressive in their music because it makes people want to listen to it and hear what they think. But then I don't think it's necessary... I don't think you have to do that. You've just got to play whatever you feel.

Would you rather be able to travel back in time or see into the future?
Cal: Travel back in time. I'd love to go back to a time where online music isn't really a thing and see what that's like.
Lawrence: 60's. Mid 60's. I'd probably work my way through after that, I think.


Tell me something about SHEAFS that no one else knows...
Cal: There's definitely stuff...
Lawrence: A lot of stuff...
Cal: Some stuff we can't say...
Lawrence: We told Callum, because he used to have slicked back hair... we asked him to grow his hair because we kind of wanted him to match a little bit. He's half way there now, I think. He used to have the Magaluf look.

Finally... what's next for SHEAFS and what can we expect from you in 2018?
Cal: We're putting together a tour which should take place February/March time, along with a coinciding single which will be announced in the near future!
Lawrence: Coming soon...


Listen to SHEAFS:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /sheafsband
Twitter: @SHEAFSband
Instagram: @sheafsband

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Single Review: New York ~ CONFLARE

Admittedly, the small West Yorkshire town of Castleford isn't renowned for its musical heritage... but ambitious pop-rock quartet Conflare look set to change that once and for all. The band, made up of Toby Hanmore, Rob Hawkins, Sam Wilkinson and Ethan Bradley, already have four stellar studio releases under their belt in the form of a self titled 2015 EP, as well as three gritty single releases 'Real', 'Conquistador' and 'Tempted'. Having frequented some of Leeds' finest music venues, the quartet are set to round off 2017 in spectacular fashion with a huge upcoming headline show at Belgrave Music Hall at the end of this month and the release of a new single, the deliciously infectious 'New York'.


A sterling guitar introduction leads into what is undoubtedly an intense and atmosphere soaked track, packed full of emotive lyricism, brisk melodics and an impressively confident vocal brio. Conflare really have mastered their art perfectly, and have such an apt, effortless ability for indie-rock songcraft.

Conflare release 'The New York EP' on the 29th of November. Listen to 'New York' here


Where to find them...
Facebook: /conflaremusic
Twitter: @conflaremusic
Instagram: @conflare

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Single Review: Oosh ~ HELLO OPERATOR

There are so many great bands emerging from the beautiful city of York at the moment, but if I had to select a favourite... without hesitation, I'd pick Hello Operator. The band (made up of Max and Sam Dalton, Peter Greenwood and Eddy Ellison) truly are the epitome of hard graft; having been together since 2014, they have largely split their time between relentless touring and unleashing a number of uninhibited, forceful and equally impressive studio releases. Debut single 'Stephanie' took the music world by storm back in 2015, and that was proceeded the following year by 'Operator Hour' and the 'Love Is A Loan EP'. Their already impressive musical back catalogue has seen them receive acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1 and This Feeling, and though 'Oosh' is their first studio offering of 2017, the effortlessly brilliant rock quartet have had an immensely busy and successful year thus far, complete with live appearances galore, including a European tour and a number of high profile festival appearances here in the UK.


The track is defined by spirited, emphatic vocals and vehement instrumentation; from start to finish, its' exceedingly powerful, dynamic and has you transfixed. They are undoubtedly a band who have a real flair for diverse and wholeheartedly immersive songcraft, complete with raw emotionality and a spirited, highly charged musical swagger. 'Oosh' is edgy, gripping and fierce, and is undoubtedly the bands' strongest work to date. If this is anything to go by, 2018 looks set to be the year of Hello Operator. Watch this space.

Listen to Hello Operator below:


Where to find them... 
Facebook: /hellooperatorband
Twitter: @hello_operator
Instagram: @hellooperatorband

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Single Review: Bleed Me Dry ~ THE BROOKES

Grimsby seems to be a bit of a hub for musical talent at the minute, and undoubtedly, quintessential rock 'n roll quartet The Brookes are one of the seaside towns' finest exports. 2017 has been a somewhat prolific year for the band thus far; having undergone one or two line up changes in recent months and subsequently spending a great deal of time holed up in recording and rehearsal studios, its' safe to say that they truly are stronger than ever before. Comprised of Benjamin Keal, Fraser MacDonald, Elliott Gant and Lauren Taylor, new single 'Bleed Me Dry' is their musical inaguration under the current line up, and what an introduction it is; exuding atmosphere, passion and avidity, this is The Brookes proving once and for all that they mean serious business.


Kicking off with augmented guitars and tumultuous drum beats, the track is quite literally an all around stellar affair from the very first note. This vehement yet incredibly articulated instrumental storm is succoured to perfection by frontman Bens' vociferous vocal styling. One of the most striking things about 'Bleed Me Dry' is its' lyrical disposition; its' expressive, opinionated and starkly recalcitrant.


 In this day and age, it is easy to find yourself lost in the ever expanding sea of up and coming guitar bands striving for success and notoriety, but what The Brookes' have managed to do here is create something utterly brilliant, which despite undeniably defining them as a quintessential British rock n' roll band, undoubtedly has an edge that sets them apart from the crowd.


'Bleed Me Dry' is available from Friday 10th November. Listen below:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /TheBrookesUK
Twitter/Instagram: @TheBrookesUK

Monday, 6 November 2017

An Interview With RAZZ ~ 18.10.17

With two mesmerizing albums under their belt RAZZ, despite their youth, are already somewhat old hands in the music industry. Their altogether unique and transfixing sound emits passion and intensity; some songs having an infectious air of synth-pop, complete with catchy hooks and choruses whilst on the other end of the scale, they have the ability to shock you with tracks that exude an almost haunting darkness. Coupled with a colossal stage presence, RAZZ truly are one of, if not THE most exciting musical discovery of my 2017 thus far. Throughout the course of October, the German rock quartet (made up of Niklas Keiser, Steffen Pott, Christian Knippen and Lukas Bruns) embarked on their very first UK tour alongside Yorkshires' Glass Caves.

I was able to chat with frontman Niklas following the Leeds stretch of their tour at the much loved Brudenell Social Club. It was my second time seeing them live, having initially discovered them when they played in the beautiful city of York just a few days earlier. Honestly, one of the most rewarding things about what I do is discovering new bands to fall in love with and within seconds of their performance having begun, I knew I'd found something special.


As we were about to begin, Niklas told me in a somewhat endearingly excitable manner that this was the first time he'd ever conducted an interview in English before. He then spent a good minute or two trying to pronounce 'Pontefract', the West Yorkshire town where both Glass Caves and I are from. Getting to travel the world and take your music to completely new audiences far and wide must surely be one of the scariest, albeit most exciting, parts of being in a band but RAZZ seemed to take to UK life like ducks' to water.

How and when did you first come together as a band?
Three of us all went to the same kindergarten and then we met Lukas at high school, where we all thought we'd like to start a band. We've now been together for five years or something like that.

What are your earliest memories of music? What did you grow up listening to?
I've grown up listening to all of my fathers' vinyls. He was into U2 and Depeche Mode... all that kind of stuff, which I really liked listening to. To be honest, we've got something in Germany called Ballermann Hits... these are the songs that are played in Mallorca. Those songs were really crappy but when I first listened to them I was like 'Yeah, this is good!' Then I found Depeche Mode, and I definitely prefer that!

Has this been your first time in the UK?
This is our first time ever! We've never been to the UK before and it's pretty amazing. The people in the crowd... some of them will stand there which is fine but there are also people, especially young people, starting what I think you call mosh pits? I really like that! That's pretty cool. I really like the UK.


So you've had a pretty good reception at this string of gigs, then? Has anywhere in particular been a highlight?
I think so. So we were talking with the Glass Caves and they were saying that the best crowd was in Leeds today. There were so many people and it was a really lovely crowd. They were pretty good to us so this crowd were amazing. There were a lot of cities' that I really liked. York was pretty amazing and Edinburgh was really nice.

Have you had enough time to be able to go off and be tourists in all of these new places?
Just in Edinburgh, to be honest. We've just spent a lot of time driving around and seeing stuff from inside of the van but in Edinburgh we had a night out with the Glass Caves and they were showing us the castle which was really, really cool. So we've been small tourists!

What's the music scene like where you're from?
I think, not only the music scene but in general, the people are the same... really, really nice and there are so many of them that like to go to concerts. A lot of younger people really like concerts which I like so it's quite similar, I guess. We are from a really small village, with only about 1,500 people living there. The next town is about 50 minutes drive. To be honest, a lot of the people living there are not really into going to concerts so it's not as popular as it seems to be here.


Music aside, has anyone in the band got any strange talents or interesting hobbies?
We're really good at playing FIFA! Steffen was pretty good at playing Ego-Shooters. We've got a playstation 4 in our van. We spend a lot of time playing on it... so you get pretty good! When we drove from Edinburgh to Bristol, it was like four or five hours so Steffen was really playing it non-stop so he must be really good...

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do; is it the writing and recording process and getting to see a great track come together, or getting to go out on the road and actually perform the songs live to an audience?
Everything is quite good! I really like recording because you can really get into sounds and really try to make it the best thing you've ever done... but I do also like being on tour and being able to present the finished work to the people who are there to see you. That's really, really amazing... to see people coming to your show because they want to see you. But I do really like recording because that is what musicians do... finding things and finding nice sounds. If I had to choose one, I'd probably go with touring.

Are you the primary songwriter or is it more of a collaborative effort?
Kind of. I write the melody and the lyrics then I go into our rehearsal room and the others' will bring in ideas or drum beats. It's kind of like building a house, building up and up all of the time.


If you could travel back in time, where would you go and what would you do?
To be honest, I'm pretty happy to be alive in this time! I mean, we're living in a good century... but if I had to travel back in time I'd probably go to the 80's because I like that kind of music. I like the 80's! Or maybe the 70's... or maybe the 60's? I don't know! There are just so many good bands... I mean, The Beatles started out in the 60's!

Is there anything in your career so far, whether that's a particular song you've made, a certain show you've played or perhaps something else entirely, that you're either especially proud of or feel has been integral in getting you where you are today?
A few things. It was a huge honour to play Rock am Ring, which is the biggest festival in Germany. There's Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, and we played there which was really good. It's a bit like your Reading and Leeds. But it's also been an honour to record with Stephen Street. That was a lot of fun. Stephen Street worked with The Smiths, Blur, Morrissey... and he was producing our second album. He worked with so many great bands, so for us that was amazing.

Finally... what are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future?
Actually, we have achieved one of our dreams already and that was to play in the UK. We hope to come back again, so that is one of our aims.


Listen to RAZZ via Spotify below:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /officialrazzmusic
Twitter: @wearerazz
Instagram: @officialrazzmusic

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Album Review: Visions Of A Life ~ WOLF ALICE

Beautifully unconventional is the perfect way of describing 'Visions Of A Life', the long awaited follow up to 2015's Mercury Music Prize nominated 'My Love Is Cool'. London based quartet Wolf Alice (made up of Ellie Rowsell, Theo Ellis, Joel Amey and Joff Oddie) have taken the bull by the horns when it comes to the infamous difficult second album challenge... and the result is something quite spectacular.


Opening track 'Heavenward', with its' effervescent instrumental sonority and haunting vocals, is a painstakingly beautiful teaser of whats' to come. The introduction is somewhat lengthy, with well over a minute of shoegaze-esque melodics before Ellies' vocals kick in. Ethereal and thought provoking from start to finish, it's the kind of track that lingers on your mind long after its' reached its' conclusion.

The interestingly titled 'Yuk Foo' was the bands' first glimpse into their second album, and with its' distinctly punchy, attitude infused punk-rock aura, it's safe to say that the track definitely makes a lasting impression. "You bore me, you bore me to death," Ellie snarls, amid a furious, guitar-led tonal storm. The track is a stroke of pure brilliance, providing the perfect backdrop to any situation worthy of rage or hauteur.


The charismatic and catchy 'Beautifully Unconventional' is perhaps the most commercially appealing track on the album, seamlessly blending the bands' usual rock styling with something with a little more groove. A soulful yet deliciously girlish vocal styling is complimented perfectly by sparkling instrumentals throughout.


'Don't Delete The Kisses' is one of a few tracks on the album delivered with an almost spectral divinity. Complete with achingly romantic lyrics and a synth-pop scrim, it's a delightfully charming story of uncertainty and desire that most everyone will relate to in one way or another. "I might as well write all over my notebook that you rock my world," Ellie croons, thus bringing a somewhat girlish but endearing sentimentality to proceedings.


'Planet Hunter' withholds a touching vulnerability, elucidated by lyrics that exude melancholia and nostalgia. Delicate and beautiful, it's the perfect example of the bold and experimental direction in which Wolf Alice have taken with 'Visions Of A Life'.

'Sky Musings' has an almost thought provoking intricacy to it; sung in barely more than a whisper, it builds up momentum before reaching its' psychedelically charged climax. 'Formidable Cool' is compiled of similarly spoken-word verses, leading into a searing chorus. It's atmospherically layered throughout, all but jumping between genres from one verse to the next; however, bold as it is... it definitely works.

Both the short but sweet 'Space & Time' and the censorious 'Sadboy' have an exotic yet divinely elysian quality. Irresistable, addictive and vibrant, the album seemingly continues to pick up the pace as it races toward a empyrean cessation. Then comes 'St. Purple & Green', which has a paradisiacal feel to it, edging in with theatrical, otherworldly vocals before suddenly immersing the listener in an explosion of guitars and fulminating drum beats.


'After The Zero Hour' is, quite simply, a story in song. It's dramatic, spirited and soul-stirring. As is our grand finale 'Visions Of A Life' which as well as providing the albums' title, acts as an absolutely stunning denouement. 'Visions Of A Life' as a whole is Wolf Alice at their absolute finest; it's intrepid, brave and beautiful from start to finish. Impossible to label and even more impossible to forget, the band cast off what is conventional and derivative in favor of something a little more empirical.

'Visions Of A Life' is out now and can be purchased and streamed via all major music platforms. Listen via Spotify below:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /wolfalicemusic
Twitter: @wolfalicemusic
Instagram: @wolfaliceband

Friday, 29 September 2017

Single Premiere: Paint It Blue ~ LIFE AQUATIC BAND

Life Aquatic Band are an incredibly soulful and eclectic six-piece from Sheffield. Having released their debut EP 'Dog-Party Weekend' earlier this year, the band have become renowned throughout their home-city and beyond for their energetic live shows and delightfully experimental sound.


New single 'Paint It Blue' is vibrant, emotive and absorbing; by bringing together a variety of genres and instruments, they effortlessly manage to create something unique and extraordinarily beautiful, combining effervescent melodics and an instantly recognizable, dreamy vocal styling. The track most definitely leaves a lasting impression with it's Americana, folk tinted edge and candid overtone. Equipped with passionately driven harmonies and pensive lyricism, it lingers on your mind for quite some time after listening to it and showcases the bands' impressive ability for intense and atmospherically layered songcraft.

'Paint It Blue' is out now. You can listen to it below via Spotify:



Where to find them...
Facebook: /lifeaquaticbandLAB
Twitter: @lifeaquaticband
Soundcloud: /lifeaquaticband

Friday, 8 September 2017

Single Review: Cold Love ~ ATLANTA HOUSE

Atlanta House have seemingly been a little quiet over the course of the last few months but behind the scenes, nothing could be further from the truth with the band having been locked away in the studio for quite some time working on new music. The latter half of 2017 will undoubtedly see the Leeds based quintet (made up of Matt Hirst, Connor Carbutt, Jake Ingleson, Nigel Ngwenya and Luke Williams) reach a shimmering crescendo with the release of their long awaited debut EP 'Home' at the end of this month, and brand new single 'Cold Love' is most definitely a stirring introduction to the fruits of their labour.


The fine songwriting, rich instrumentation and a raw, confident vocal brio certainly leave a lasting impression. The lack of an instrumental introduction ensures that the track is equipped with an extremely driven sense of atmospheric tension from the word go. Frontman Matts' vocals, from the very first note, are delivered with poignant conviction and, at times, even exude a somewhat dark air of wistful melancholia and bewilderment. I am by no means saying that their previous work has been of a lesser standard; they've always been good... but there is something truly great about 'Cold Love'. It's resolute and stark; it's a lyrical exposition of both vulnerability and strength, and an unwaveringly expressive display of the staggering and impressively mature direction in which Atlanta House have obviously decided to take their sound.


Debut EP 'Home' is released on the 29th of September. Listen to 'Cold Love' below:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /AtlantaHouse1
Twitter: @Atlanta_House
Instagram: @atlantahouseofficial

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Festival Review: TRAMLINES 2017 DAY THREE, Sheffield ~ 23.07.17

It's always somewhat sad when the Sunday of Tramlines weekend comes around because you know it's the final day and it's all almost over for another year. However my schedule for the day definitely helped ease the pain a little bit, and consisted of both old favourites and a couple of acts I've heard a great many good things about but never actually seen.

My day begun at Maida Vale with a band who are fast becoming one of my absolute favourite live acts. Suffice to say, a Generation gig is somewhat of a vehement whirlwind; it's fast paced, hard-hitting and delightfully raucous. Having seen them for the very first time only a couple of weeks ago, I fell head over heels in love with their audacious punk-rock styling and all around energetic, impassioned aura. The only complaint I have about this particular performance was that, being on so early in the afternoon, they didn't have more of an audience to enjoy it with them; this is a band worthy of hitting the big time and who can offer something unique, fun and exciting to the industry. I reckon we'll be seeing and hearing a lot more of Generation in the months and years to come.

Generation

Crystal Bar always becomes somewhat of a second home over Tramlines weekend, and it has to be said... the sound, lighting and general set up this year was nothing short of spectacular thanks to the wonderful people at Aggressive Management. I have a lot of love for Bayonet; they're four genuinely lovely guys with a huge amount of talent and musical creativity. Their deliciously upbeat indie-pop styling translates perfectly into the live setting, appearing effortless and opulent, and exuding a lively sense of ebullience from start to finish.

Bayonet

One of the most wonderful and critically important elements of any music festival is, in my opinion, discovery; it's always great seeing so many of your favourite bands collectively, but I also try and make a point of adding at least one brand new act to my schedule. Sleeptalking have managed to evade me thus far this year, but I've heard so many people talk of how completely and utterly brilliant they are... particularly live. I wasn't disappointed. Intoxicating, spellbinding and with an authentic and eccentric edge, I genuinely never wanted their performance to end. Displaying such bold and extravagant showmanship throughout, these guys definitely know how to put on a real show.

Sleeptalking

I have so much respect for King No-One as not only are they a band with personality, zest and copious musical ability, but they are a band who have something to say and aren't afraid to voice their opinions on some of todays' most controversial topics; to that end, they can always be relied upon for a shimmering and luscious live show and frontman Zach Lount is such an enigmatic performer. They appeared at ease on the sizeable Crystal Bar stage, and this was definitely one of the strongest performances I have managed to see from them to date.  

King No-One

Words alone could never be enough to describe Keir and his astounding talent. Music is everything to me, and I go to a lot of gigs, but I have never been so moved by a musical performance before until I saw him; I even had tears in my eyes at one point. It's difficult to explain in a way that would do him justice and I do think that ultimately he has to be seen to be believed... but what I will say is that I was unbelievably blown away by his powerhouse vocals, which are so stunning and completely unlike anything I have ever heard before. To think that any one person could be blessed with such a beautiful, soulful voice really is nothing short of a miracle and in all honesty, I feel blessed myself to have been able to watch him perform in such an intimate setting. How he is, as of yet, unsigned is beyond me and I think that in the years to come this performance will go down as one of those historic 'I was there' moments. The music world has lost a number of its' brightest lights in recent years... Bowie, Prince and George Michael, to name but a few, and I think the problem with the industry as it is today is that there are too few artists with a big enough talent and charismatic enough personality to not necessarily replace these legends but to at least be memorable enough to deservedly stand alongside them and be seen in a similar light. I can safely, wholeheartedly and without hesitation say that Keir truly is a superstar in waiting.

Keir

Admittedly, I was exhausted by this point, but what better way to end my Tramlines Festival 2017 than with a band I have come to see as firm friends over the last couple of years... Leeds' heroes, The Doldrums. It's been a year of change for this band so far, having recently lost a member and then subsequently gained a new one in the form of brilliant new bassist, Tom Wilde. With Josh Langley now the sole frontman and lead vocalist, their sound has noticeably changed a great deal of late, but this is definitely a positive thing; with their new music sounding positively huge and their live performances growing stronger by the day, I'm so proud of how far they've come since I first discovered their music back in 2015.

The Doldrums


Until next year, Tramlines...

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Festival Review: TRAMLINES 2017 DAY TWO, SHEFFIELD ~ 22.07.17

I was particularly excited for day two of Tramlines 2017 for the simple reason that my two favourite bands Cabezudos and October Drift were both scheduled to play at my favourite of the festivals' fringe stages, the Crystal Bar. I think the whole world is aware by this point that I have a bit of a soft spot for Cabezudos, though I'll hold my hands up and confess that I missed the majority of their performance due to being (fashionably) late arriving. What I did see was Crystal Bar packed to the rafters, despite their early stage time, and everyone completely in awe of the band and their effortless and euphoniously emotive live show. This is a band well suited to the festival environment and who are clearly at ease on a sizeable stage. 2017 is already proving to be the year of Cabezudos and as their fanbase continues to grow, things only look set to get bigger for this Liverpudlian quintet.

Cabezudos

Following a catch up with Cabezudos, it was time to head off to my second venue of the day to see Grimsbys' finest exports, Mint. I spent a lot of time at Tiger Works Bar during last years' festival, and it's a great little venue... admittedly, one of the main reasons I like it so much is the air-con and the fact they sell my favourite brand of cider, but the stage set-up and sound are always second to none. Mint are the perfect festival band for a number of reasons; first and foremost, their impressive ability to craft the ultimate feelgood indie-pop anthem, and secondly, the simple fact that they can always be relied upon for a thoroughly entertaining, fun and energetic live show. This band have such a flair when it comes to bold and dynamic instrumentation, and there's such an endearing chemistry between them which makes what they do all the more authentic. Every time I see them they seem to have upped their game, and this was most definitely the strongest performance I've seen from them to date.

Mint

When it comes to putting on a totally raw and atmospheric performance, I think it would be incredibly difficult to beat the sheer might of Avalanche Party. Complete with fervid instrumentation and searing vocals from the word go, they had their audience in the palm of their hand and this was nothing short of a spectacle. Frontman Jordan Bell hangs over the stage and eyes his audience almost menacingly; it's impossible to look away, and he is undeniably mesmerizing.


October Drift are undoubtedly one of the most hardworking, dedicated young bands in the country and it's wonderful to see them doing so well at the moment. Fresh from a coveted performance at Glastonbury earlier this year, and returning to the Tramlines Crystal Stage for the third year in a row, the band drew in a gargantuan crowd... and rightfully so; the raw and unforged energy within their sound radiated throughout the room as they powered through their hard-hitting set with force and jubilance, frontman Kiran Roy leaping from the stage at one point and performing from the rooftop.

October Drift

SHEAFS seem to have had everyone falling under their spell of late, and have become a much loved and familiar fixture on this years' festival circuit. They have such a phenomenal stage presence, supplying killer vocals and stunningly vehement melodics by the bucketload. They truly are one of the most impressive and powerful live bands on the block, and I always notice whenever I see them that there's always a real sense of excitement and awe throughout the crowd within seconds of them having taken to the stage. To be able to command an audiences' attention so wholly as SHEAFS do is an impressive feat indeed, and this performance was living proof that they are 100% worthy of the hype surrounding them at the moment.

SHEAFS

It's been a while since I last saw The Wholls, so despite the pouring rain (and with a drunken Jack from Cabezudos in tow, by this point belting out his rendition of "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" for the people of Sheffields' listening pleasure) I made my way over to the Frog & Parrot. Zealous guitars coalesced with staggering vocals and an all around audacious instrumental vim made for an exceedingly trenchant and rhythmically pulsing performance. The Wholls never fail to delight.

One of the best parts of Tramlines is seeing bands supporting bands. Here's Jake from Breed, Tordy from The Wholls and Aaron of AMP Live

It's impossible not to fall in love with the vibrancy and vitality of Paves, and I couldn't think of a more perfect way of ending Saturdays' proceedings than seeing them perform again for the first time in almost a year. This was their second set of the day, having already performed over at The Rocking Chair for This Feeling earlier in the afternoon. This was to be their 'secret set', though word must have gotten out because the Frog & Parrot was fit to burst. The band took to the stage at midnight, immediately filling the room with their transcendant and ludically hypnotic musical aura. Frontman Lukes' confident vocal verve is perfectly accentuated by thrilling riffage and an all around soulful, atmosphere soaked edge.


Special mention must go to the brilliant Aaron Procter of AMP Live, who has done such a wonderful job and curated an absolutely brilliant line up at the Frog & Parrot this year. Ending day two of the festival watching him be passed through the crowd like a king was quite the experience!



Part Three coming soon...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Festival Review: TRAMLINES 2017 DAY ONE, Sheffield ~ 21.07.17

I think it's safe to say that Tramlines 2017 was the gift that just kept on giving. This was my fourth year in attendance at the Sheffield inner city music festival, and I managed to see more bands than ever before in some of the citys' most impressive independant venues. The festival is always the highlight of my year, and not just because of the bands themselves and their performances but the friendly and relaxed atmosphere as a whole; I always bump into so many friends, and I always walk away with at least one new favourite band to rave about. That's the inexplicable beauty of a music festival.

The Garage Flowers
My weekend began at the Frog & Parrot with a band I've been dying to see for months. Hailing from Essex, Breed are an eclectic grunge-punk force to be reckoned with and gave an exceedingly atmospheric performance, lead by snarling vocals and laced with searing melodics.

Breed
Next came The Americas, and where do I begin apart from to say that I am 100% in love with this band and everything that they do. I've managed to catch them live four times in the last couple of months and their performances are always nothing short of breathtaking. For a three-piece, they have such a gargantuan stage presence and present an energetic, shimmering sound and upbeat aura which commands attention from their audience from thrilling start to gratifying finish.

The Americas
Kashmere almost certainly have an intriguing yet endearing quality to them, and never fail to impress with their creative and infectious blend of indie-pop. Soaring riffs and a cool, confident vocal flair resulted in them breezing through a set packed full of vivifying and intelligent crowd pleasers, thus sealing their place as one of the most exciting new acts on the block.

Kashmere
The band I was most excited to see this year, was undoubtedly the achingly cool The Garage Flowers. By the time I arrived at the Three Cranes Hotel for their performance, I was quite literally jumping up and down (much to the amusement of frontman Joe, I think!) with excitement. These guys have it all; a flair for witty and intelligent songcraft, infectious hooks and a kooky image to match. Despite being given a terrible mix on stage, which the band had asked to be changed on numerous occasions. and their set being unfairly cut short due to timing issues, the quartet powered through it in spectacular fashion with immense spirit and dynamism. They bring an unforged element of fun and eccentricity to everything they do, making it all the more frustrating that they were treated so badly by those responsible for overseeing this stage of the event. However, with Joe drinking just enough to make himself be sick on the pool table in valiant protest, I think it's pretty safe to say that they got their revenge. All of that aside, I was thoroughly impressed by what I saw and I cannot wait to see them again soon.

The Garage Flowers

Part Two coming soon...