Psyence- Black Hole

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September 16th || Bethan Shuff

Back in February, Psyence took the title of Best Band at The Music Awards of Staffordshire and Cheshire. Shortly after, they proved why with their debut EP ‘A New Dawn’. Between then and now, Psyence have been busying themselves with some big name festivals like Tramlines, Sound Ciy and Festival Number 6. What we didn’t know was the behind the scenes Psyence were in the studio creating some magic and have popped out a single, the first of 2017: Black Hole. Sucked in yet? You will be.

Spacy guitars and reverb vocals invite you into the world of Psyence, the inner workings of their mastermind musical ventures. Listening to Psyence is like having an outer-body experience; it takes you to a new level of psychedelic trance you didn’t know existed. You are snapped back to reality by the sound of Joe Walsh’s kit and a funky little guitar lick.

Black Hole takes risks. Each segment of the track contrasting with the previous one, yet fitting in so well – you never know what direction it’s going to take next, but it’s the right one.

A kaleidoscope of trancy synths and swirling guitars are accompanied by the catchy hook of the chorus ‘someone save me I think I fell into a black hole’ Steve Pye sings, with soft echo backing vocals of ‘down I go again.’ This song will be circling around your head for days.

Not heard it yet? No problem. Check out Black Hole here:

Spoil Sport- Magpie

September 14th || Leah Hamer

Fresh meat. There’s nothing better. Well, if by meat you mean music, and by fresh you mean new, of course. A debut release is a chance for upcoming talent to make an imprint on society and tell us all who they really are. This is exactly what all-female four-piece Spoil Sport have done with Magpie.

Let’s be honest, Stoke have been gagging for a girl-band around here for yonks. And not a bunch of squeaky, silicone, badly contoured princesses lip-syncing either. I mean proper cool lasses that dare to be different and chose to make interesting and intriguing music- which is exactly what the members of Spoilsport are and do.

Fuzzing feedback opens the track, with a ghostly voice singing in the distance like an eerie enchantress. Then the juicy riff comes thudding in, with flickers of a distorted guitar and a dense bass line following. A steady drum beat pours in afterwards before the volume is stripped back, to make way for the colossal vocals of Agatha Riley. The simple and short verse structure prepares you for the punch of the dramatic chorus- as all the instruments parade back in with the repetitive and quirky vocals, Black and white fly over me/Black and white come set me free. The lyrics are loaded with curiosity and mystique, yet remain catchy and memorable.

Deep and dusky, the rest of the track continues- experimenting with light and dark sound, pulsating in and out of your speakers. There are sprinkles of Wolf Alice and Yeah Yeah Yeahs throughout with all of the band members holding the same badass image, sound and attitude of their respective frontwomen. Imagine four Ellie Rowsells or four Karen Os.

A remarkable aspect of this is the maturity that the entire band have brought into the studio- this does not sound like an amateur debut, it has been crafted with thought and imagination, helped even more by the skillful hands of Sam Bloor at Lower Lane. Spoil Sport are a powerhouse of talent already.

Engaging, intelligent and addictive- Magpie is a piece of bliss and Spoil Sport are ones not to miss.            

Magpie by Spoilsport will be available to stream and download soon.

Spoiled- Even They Would Not Sit Back And Do Nothing

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September 15th || Leah Hamer

They say one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Not for Luke Medlock though. After showing his prowess in All The Best Tapes and being the photo/video whiz behind so many well-loved local creations, he is venturing into the big wide world of solo work with his latest project, Spoiled. Fresh from the studio with Sam Bloor as the mixing man, here is his debut release, Even They Would Not Sit Back and Do Nothing.

With a distorted fuzz the track plummets into a black hole of destruction. The gravelled scream of Luke claws its way into your ear drums- well, what remains of them. There’s no messing around with this one- straight in there with the chaos, none of this messing around with an intro malarkey. The intensity and volume is overwhelming as the gnarly guitar and deafening drums explode all around you. Screeches of feedback and symbols bashing up and down surround your consciousness, even for the remaining moments after the song has turned silent. With filthy guitar solos and relentless vocals, it is hard to comprehend that this is all just one bloke in a studio.

Luke in general is a pleasant human who likes dogs and taking photos, so to hear him unleash such aggression is compelling, to say the least. But his talent undoubtedly needs to be remarked upon- flying solo is by no means an easy task and to be so proficient in so many musical elements definitely requires some applause from us all.

Dirty and invasive, Even They Would Not Sit Back and Do Nothing has given Luke a platform to showcase his diverse skill set. Spoiled is a project that we need more from.

Even They Would Not Sit Back and Do Nothing is out on Monday 18th September.

 

Alma Smash Headliner

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September 13th || Bethan Shuff

When hearing who was on the bill for ALMA’s single launch, I was so excited. Four of Stoke-on-Trent’s talented young bands all in one place for a measly £5 – what more can you ask for? That’s the price of a pint at most gigs. Can you imagine how gutted I was when I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it? Luckily for you (and me), I did make it and I’m here to tell you all about it.

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First on was Spoil Sport, Stoke’s only girl band. By girl band I don’t mean Girls Aloud or The Saturdays. These four fierce females have got attitude, sass and grunge; the best kind of girl band. I’ve seen the girl’s play as a three piece before, but I was excited to see them in their full form. Some technical difficulties prior to starting disappointed the girls, who wanted to make a sharp and hard-hitting first impression to their audience – an audience that was the largest I’ve seen for an opening band, which speaks volumes about Spoil Sport. Agatha’s dark, moody vocals with slow, deep basslines set the grungey mood for the evening. Tiff and Fliss’ guitars bounce off one another to create melancholic melodies, whilst Meg’s drums keep everything together. I’m A Bitch and a cover of Miley CyrusWrecking Ball were amongst the set, and due to finishing ahead of schedule, Tiff, Agatha and Fliss performed a fun, relaxed cover of Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana. The vibes I get from Spoil Sport are so empowering and it’s so refreshing to have a female-only line-up in our male-dominated music scene. If there’s one thing we need more of, it’s fiery females like these guys.

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‘Hello, we’re Nirvana UK’ Sam Bloor laughed as The Overcast took to the stage and set up their gear. The Overcast don’t just turn up at a gig and play, these guys put on a show and perform. The amount of energy Jim Carter expends exhausts me just watching him; his stage presence is second to none as he moves from each side of the stage with a voice so powerful I don’t know how his lungs don’t collapse. The relationship between the band members is obvious; these four friends are just doing what they love and doing it bloody well. Sam Bloor’s backing vocals compliment Jim’s perfectly and his guitar tones are filthy. Nick Farr’s quick fingers make easy work of the intricate bass lines and he still manages to bounce around like it’s nothing. Each member puts their everything into every track, I mean, the photos of Dan Cartlidge’s drum face will tell you that much. Smother, a single from The Overcast’s upcoming EP found itself on the set list, and is set to be released at the end of the month; it went down a treat with the ever-growing crowd and you’re going to love it too.

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 Plastic took the main support slot, returning to Stoke as a five piece after Connor Hamilton joined the line-up last month. During the set Connor showed why Plastic took him on, he played the bands catalogue with ease, as though he’d been there from the start and he makes a cracking addition to the sound. Plastic is another band whose performance is on another level – hair is flicked and bodies shaken, it’s as though the music has possessed Matt Awbery as he stares into the souls of the audience, spits and rolls around in the crowd. It’s a set I won’t be forgetting any time soon. One thing I loved about the band that it wasn’t all about the frontman – don’t get me wrong, Matt has an incredibly solid persona, but the band took it in turns to chat into the mic and have a laugh with each other so we got a feel for their personalities. ‘This is I’ve Been Floating, it’s about taking a load of drugs’ Matt introduces a wavey psychedelic intro with slow and floaty guitars; it takes a dark turn and a vortex of heavy guitars and thunderous drums comes crashing down on you. Plastic have some big plans in the pipeline for the end of the year; the biggest thing they’ve ever done. Keep your eyes and ears open.

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It was finally time for ALMA to head up on stage, coming in through the side door like pro’s. The floor of The Exchange was packed to capacity with no room for movement as ALMA alone had sold over 100 tickets. ALMA have had a few line-up changes in the past, but this one is strong. The band have found their sound and are killing it. Plug In/Plug Out was released last week, and further releases will follow in its footsteps getting bigger and better. That doesn’t mean that the band are neglecting their old works though. Tracks like Help Me and Taken For A Fool have had a re-vamp for their live performances and still fit in nicely with the new single as ALMA experiment with different tones and effects. Sam Fieldhouse has really developed his own style and Ross Litherland’s guitar slots into place and fixes everything together. I can honestly say that James Whitehurst is one of Stoke’s best drummers for his age, watching his hands fly through complicated combinations, solos and unusual time signatures is mesmerising. Jack Kennedy is your typical cheeky chap, having a laugh with his mates in the crowd and giving us what we wanted. Between the original songs we were presented with a rocked up cover of Rhythm of the Night, where Jack invited a few audience members onto the stage with him. Chants of ‘Pacifier! Pacifier! Pacifier!’ from the crowd were too loud to ignore, and so ALMA finished their set with the Catfish and The Bottlemen track. Sweaty and exhausted, the band left the stage, leaving behind an exhilarating buzz as teenagers piled out into the smoking area to congratulate the lads.

ALMA are heading somewhere big, and plan on taking their music out of Stoke and making themselves known around the UK, but know ‘Stoke will always take preference.’ You can listen to Plug In/Plug Out here: 

Marquee's Huge Headliner

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September 11th || Leah Hamer

The first fresh meat of the evening was Undercurrent- a band composed of several musicians who have all been previously active in other local music ventures. On Friday they climbed aboard the ship for the first time as a fuzzy, heavy three-piece with a purpose to create volume and attitude. Jitters and inhibition did not appear apparent, as bassist Mitchell Dowley launched himself around the venue with his wireless Stingray, diving into the crowd to kiss a bloke named Barry. Seb Clarke on vocals suited this darker genre and found ways to intrigue the audience with his Jazz, as he played around with the feedback and tinkered with the electrical circuits of the guitar to make industrial beeping sounds. Drummer Ryan Dawkins was extremely proficient as he impressively mastered an odd time signature and remained tight throughout. There were glimmers of potential across the board with tracks like Wake Up, but amongst this were some timing issues and undefined melodies – yet these are issues that will fade with regular gigging and writing.

Straight out of the garage came second act Plunge, a wavy indie four-piece, also forged from the pieces of numerous other local bands. With a trendy, current style that was lapped up by the teenage audience, it was clear from the start that Plunge would fit in seamlessly into the Stoke scene. Frontman Ewan Wilcox has this strong, accented, talky voice that suits the band perfectly.  The rest of the band performed decent riffs and steady beats, but they have room to get more creative and imaginative. Slow, swaying numbers simmered away at the start, until they performed a cover of Gold by Jaws which seemed to ignite a spark in them all. After that the set was electric and engaging with tracks like Tomorrow Is Another Day. The four-piece flourished as the lights turned red, they shook off the nerves and felt the full magnitude of what they had achieved. It was a debut to be proud of, yet confidence needs to be injected into these guys now- a burst of energy and colour into their systems will liven up the entire performance and give them a chance to stand out.

Shropshire four-piece, Social Confusion, entered the stage next- bringing a flash of Brit pop to the evening. The most mature of the bands, they had a vast skill set and striking armoury- with the bassist boasting a damn fine Rickenbacker (alongside his Pickle Rick shirt). Teamed with Fred Perry’s and Pretty Green, they knew their sound and stuck to it. Pure, anthemic, repetitive 90s indie with power-to-the-people lyrics and quick riffs. They were a clear call back to the traditional sound of the Stoke scene. At times the songs blended into one but no one seemed to mind- the crowd were wild for them- climbing on each-other’s shoulders and spraying cans everywhere. The band lapped up every second of it.

Finally came the headliners, Marquee, who were itching to get onto that stage after selling a whopping amount of tickets. The crowd trampled in as their walk on hip hop tune blasted through the speakers. The four-piece were in their element immediately as guitarist/vocalist Kieran Breese charmed the crowd and they kicked into their upbeat rap mix led by Calum Lightfoot, Throw It Back. They chucked in a few covers ranging from Arctic Monkeys to The Beatles to The Hives- all of which were tricky to pull off, especially on drums- yet Alex Grant managed them with ease. Admittedly there were some errors- primarily with an out of tune guitar, but the band owned up to this with admirable honesty and made light of the situation. Full of swag and attitude, the band soaked up the limelight- interacting with the crowd, jumping off the stage, and bashing out the people-pleasing numbers that their fans knew word for word. On the night they announced that the rest of their day had been spent recording an EP in a professional setting- the news that everyone wanted to hear. As some of the band members and many of their fans prepare to enter a life of work and university, it was a gig for all of them to remember.

Alma- Plug In Plug Out

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9th September || Bethan Shuff

Over the past year, ALMA have been finding their feet, securing their line-up and searching for their sound. They’ve found it.

Plug In/Plug Out crackles and distorts its way through the speakers until the melodic guitars start to break through the noise. Young producer and Fears Chella frontman Andy Gannon worked his magic on this intro for the ALMA lads.

James Whitehurst behind the kit, a funky beat created with a brass drum builds up the intro and wavey guitars drop into a dirty, distorted riff. This is nothing like their previous releases; their EP ‘Last Orders’ was full of young, teenage angst, where their last single Help Me was chilled out and cool. Plug In/Plug Out proves ALMA have grown, matured and developed their sound into something dangerously cool and modern, experimenting with different sounds and making their mark in the local music scene.

‘Plug me in / Plug me out / Do what you want to’ the catchiest of choruses over the contagious dream pop, grungy guitar of Sam Fieldhouse with Ross Litherland’s subtle deep bass. Jack Kennedy’s vocals are so fresh and relaxed; he tells me the track is ‘about people moving in and out of your life, quite literally as if they plugged themselves in and out whenever it suits them. We feel like that is something people experience, especially in our later teenage years.’

I keep seeing ALMA go from strength to strength, and they’ve really hit the nail on the head with Plug In/Plug Out. You can catch it live at The Exchange tonight, Saturday 9th September for their headline gig, with support from Plastic, The Overcast and Spoil Sport. You’d be a fool to miss it.

RINSE- We Need To Talk

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September 8th || Leah Hamer || Lee Barber

After spending the last few months wisely plotting and stroking their beards behind the scenes, local boys RINSE have been widely missed. Their name has been scribed across the bills of world renowned festivals such as Dot to Dot and the Bristol Harbour Festival this summer, all whilst they have been cruelly teasing fans with the promise of their debut EP. The day has finally arrived and one thing is for sure- We Need To Talk.

                A dreamy trickle of strings begins the opening track, More Than Friends. A tornado of drums swoops in and cranks up the volume before the distinctive vocals of Josh Hollingworth plunge in. Lyrics of failing love are intertwined with high twangs on guitar before a nail-biting build-up of elements leads you to a welcomed surprise. Contrary to your expectations, the chorus arrives to be stripped back and calm- an intelligent and effective choice. With sporadic symbols, a killer Josh Hassall bass line and an occasional hazy guitar providing the back drop to the desperate and hopeful words, I know we could be more than friends. Then a tumbling mountain of guitar and drums explode into the verse once again before the chorus returns, this time with double the production that we expected the first time round.

                RINSE tap deftly into the realms of 90’s Brit-pop and grunge music in second track, Citadel, with droney chord progressions on electric guitar, swiftly carrying you swaying through the ballad. Hollingworth’s vocals are as gently prominent as ever, laced with chorus call undertones, while Hewitt’s guitar style is without a doubt coming into its own, with his cunning riffs and great use of pedals making his guitar play almost a sound you can instantly recognise as his. As with all the other band members, Hewitt’s modesty probably makes him to be one of the most under-rated guitar players in his hometown.

                That famous RINSE guitar twang opens up closing track, Velvet, in a lightning intro, before the stomping and hearty drum beat of Ollie McNicholas flies solo with the verse vocals. Fluctuating between a fast-paced guitar and a steady staccato vocal line, you are pulled back and forth until you are flung into the spaced-out, experimental build up, with distorted vocals and a groaning transition into the chorus- where every member lets rip. Velvet is perfectly executed tight-rope walk, balancing between the tranquil, trippy grunge and the all-out, guns-blazing power playing, that this EP has reflected throughout.

                With this EP, RINSE have proficiently mastered their signature sound, whilst managing the delicate art of creating individuality within every track, showing absurd talent from every member in the process. We Need To Talk is definitely one to talk about.  

We Need To Talk is out now and is available to stream and download on the usual platforms

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Love Spoons By Dylan Cartlidge

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Martin Gooding || September 7th

Dylan Cartlidge is a name that will soon be escaping from a lot of lips. The Middleport born, North East based MC has dropped his latest single Love Spoons and it's something truly special.
Multi Instrumentalist Cartlidge spirals through the track with a chaotic energy channeling equal parts Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Andre 3000, smothered in Midlands charm. Clearly as comfortable delivering complex bars and thoughtful lyricism as he is creating catchy, funk-laiden hooks dripping with pop sensibilities and jazz energies.
Keep your eyes on this one, a truly unique talent

Love Spoons is available on most platforms via the link below

https://lnk.to/LoveSpoons

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Filth Headline The Underground

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Leah Hamer || August 22nd

After conjuring up quite a reputation for themselves in the past few months of their lives on the scene, Filth returned to The Underground- the venue that granted them their first ever gig, only this time- it was all about them. First on the bill was punk trio- Feedback, but the first band I caught were grunged up kids, Keys.

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                After forming earlier in the year, and adding the talents of Rewenge’s former guitarist Ellis Gibbons to the mix last month, things have been looking promising for the alternative four-piece. Keys brought to the stage comical song names like Jim’ll Riff It, an infectious energy, a strong drum beat, and a sense of how to perform robust riffs that are the shining points of each song, especially Ocean. With fuzzy tones and dark rhythms, it soon became apparent who this alt-foursome’s main influence was, but if it wasn’t clear enough- they performed a cover. Tackling Wolf Alice’s Giant Peach could only be forgiven if it was executed perfectly. Sadly, it was not- it was messy and lacked clarity. If covers are a path they want to explore again- they need to think outside of the box and pick something outrageous and turn it into their own. Yet they picked themselves up with a string of originals that continued to show shimmers of potential like Come DownKeys are young and have plenty of time to perfect their art and mature on stage, but they need to get back in the garage and practice until their fingers bleed.

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                An all-female band around here has been long overdue, then out of the blue- Spoilsport came crashing onto the scene, bagging gigs left, right and centre. A haze of fishnets and glitter entered the stage, with stone expressions and calm dispositions. Then the colossal voice of Agatha Riley silenced the crowd. Powerful, established and deep with stimulating vocal lines- she was the initial pull of the entire band. Then the rest got into the groove- with simplistic chords and riffs that complimented each other without being too aggressive or ballsy. They showed a clear understanding of how to create fresh, interesting and demanding tracks. They too chose to do a cover- but not one that you would expect, Wrecking Ball. It was nearly unrecognisable after they had absorbed it- turning it into a moody, 90s grunge piece that they could have passed off as an original number.  I’m Such A Bitch was full of honest brutality that gave them likeability, and their final track Magpies, was well performed, despite being written the day before. Now its practice practice time so they can smooth out the mistakes and get themselves ready for a serious session in the studio. A release from these girls is a necessity and I can’t wait.  

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                Finally the main attraction, Filth, took to the spotlight- with a downsized line up, after losing their former singer and bassist Jack taking on the new role up front. The crowd went wild as they performed tracks from their debut EP-Filth, SDA, and Fade Out- all teenage anthems about adolescent anarchy. Jack is a hidden gem, with a cool tone and suitable pitch for their style- and his talent will only grow with confidence. He performed with a baritone six-string guitar, an interesting choice that perhaps needs consideration, as with that he lacks the depth of a regular bass that would give them heavier vibe. As well as this, he switched back and forth to the synth- where his skills truly hide. The synth is definitely something they really need to incorporate more. When it was used it gave them an incredible edge and identity but Jack unfortunately only has one pair of hands and lacks the useful ability to play both simultaneously! Another member might need to be added in order for them to really accentuate this element of their sound.

Lewis was brimming with talent on lead guitar- with an ear for captivating riffs and plethora of effects at his disposal. Teamed with his Gretsch, he tinkers with distortion, wah, fuzz, reverb and delay constantly- he is the entire key to the Filth sound. His solo work was vastly impressive. It was amazing to witness him play one-handed and with the guitar behind his head- but he did these hyper, tricky solos far too often. He needs to hold onto that special stuff until the finale to blow us all away even more. Drummer Adam was tight throughout- the glue holding everything together. The crowd loved every second- girls were on top of lads’ shoulders, drinks were flying, and even the Jeremy Corbyn rant made an appearance. Ending on Bitch, they finished the set off with another lightning solo and mosh pit- a massively successful headliner for a band that have come a very long way.

You can listen to their debut EP, Filth, here: 

Divenire- Quaint Romance

Leah Hamer || August 18th

To witness the growth of a band is always a priceless pleasure. As they soar from venue to venue, develop their sound, forge their fan base and perfect their media image- it is a joyful experience to watch a band truly up their game. With their latest single Quaint Romance, Divenire have done just that.

The birth of Divenire was hasty and unexpected- overnight their line-up and name had changed, forcing them to work to work their way up the ranking system of local musicians once again. After the releases of their popular tracks, Arcade and Caravan, the boys cemented their place in the scene. Now, however, the charming four-piece have unleashed their brightest work to date.

The raspy, pop vocals of Dom Morgan open the track with confidence. With sweet guy-meets-girl lyrics, they remain true to their heart, continuing to create teen love songs that remind you of butterfly riddled stomachs and sweaty palms. Then the trendy melody of the guitars roll in from Dom and Josh Holmes. The verse plods on steadily before the dynamic chorus springs on you, with its edgy tones and popping dance-beat. Pulling away from standard structures, the second verse is full of impact and flows into the chorus once again seamlessly.

The track ends with echoing backing vocals and wavy distortion, bringing it all together in a polished and precise manner. Like a diamond pulled from the rough, Divenire have come out of Lower Lane Studios in their best condition yet. They have been wise students in the past few months- new graphics, new website, new image, new tracks, new attitude. They are clued up and ready to go.

 After their debut headliner went down a treat back in June, the charming four-piece are returning to soak up the limelight on September 1st, returning to The Sugarmill once again.

Quaint Romance is available to stream and download now: hyperurl.co/QuaintRomance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Release Unleash Hell On The Sugarmill

Credit: Ben Hough 

Credit: Ben Hough 

Ben Hough || August 17th

The day arrived for Release's headline show at The Sugarmill. Release haven't been in Stoke since they last played at The Sugarmill supporting Idles in May, so the crowd anticipated for another adrenaline packed performance by Release with support from ALMA, Postal and a Bonsai acoustic set. As the barriers went up, the crowd packed in.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

First to the stage was Bonsai's lovable front man Chris Hough to play a few songs on an acoustic guitar. As he sits on the stage, he introduces the first song of the night. A cover of Run by Stephen Fretwell which is more commonly known for the theme song of Gavin and Stacey. People stop to listen as his voice fills the room. Chris then plays a few songs that he has written himself. Songs like 'Flowers on the shelf' really show his love and passion for his own work. The guitar playing from Chris wasn't perfect but it wasn't an issue as his strong vocals and thoughtful lyrics were the main attention of his performance. After three songs, Chris invites Bonsai's guitarists Joe Hough and Richard Brown to join him on stage. Brown's usual Fender Stratocaster is replaced with an acoustic whilst Joe plays lead work on his electric gweet. The next song played was 'Fruit Shoot', a song brought out by Bonsai earlier this year as a full band. The tune did miss its funky bassline and complex drum beat but Brown and Joe played tight enough to bring a full sound. Bonsai are hoping to release an E.P later in the year which includes all 4 songs they played. Songs such as 'Yesterdays Tomorrow', had a slow intro with soothing vocal melodies before the song progresses into a powerful chorus outro. I can see this one being popular amongst the fans. Bonsai will return as a full band to the Sugarmill on the 2nd September to Headline a charity event set up for Musicians Against Homelessness.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

Next on was Indie Grunge Band Postal for their second live show. The four lads were slightly nervous before playing but they soon found their element. Cam Livesey is their lead vocalist who has an alternative tone to his voice, influenced by American punk rock. Tom Waters is their only guitarist. He plays clean bar chords with a nice distortion sound to fill out the chorus. Bass heavy riffs are the pinnacle of Postal's sound, provided by Dave Paxton. Tom Clarke, otherwise known as Gavin, keeps the band tight from the back. The bass drum of Clarke's kit complements Paxton's rhythms on the bass as he navigates the fretboard. In the third song, titled 'Jon Jones' Livesey's vocals a sometimes hard to comprehend but the tone of his voice shows potential for great things in the future. As soon as this band get more confidence behind them, they could go a long way in the local music scene. Gavin drops his drum sticks towards the end of the tune but revives himself quickly and to the untrained ear, it was unnoticeable. Postal played a cover of The Clash's 'Should I stay or Should I Go' accurate to the original record. This cover suited the style of Postal and was sang well by Livesey. My personal favourite was their recently brought demo, Chemical Dive (find it on soundcloud). This song was played very tightly as the crowd sang back the leading vocal line. Watch out for more Postal this year as they make their way on to the scene.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

The notorious boys from ALMA were up next. After a spell of local headline gigs, they return to The Sugarmill as main support for Release. Their electric indie rock sound livens up crowd as the moshing starts. Jack Kennedy sings and plays bass guitar with style and confidence. James Whitehurst plays solid beats on the drums, their second song of the night was 'Taken for a Fool'- the song starts slowly with intricate licks from both guitarists, Ross Litherland and Sam Fieldhouse. The well-known chorus kicks in as the crowd sing back to Kennedy. Jack is one of Stokes finest young front-men but I think that his true potential is restricted by playing the bass guitar. Let's just say he is no Paul McCartney, but a real talent in the making. ALMA love to get the crowd involved. One thing they do particularly well is tease the audience by stopping, letting the guitars ring out, and kicking back in with plenty of overdrive provided by Litherland and Fieldhouse. The crowd loved it! 'Help me' is another one of ALMA's popular songs. After seeing this band several times, this is the best I've heard them play this song. Whitehurst stays tight throughout with no mistakes. He is the newest addition to ALMA's lineup and he's had a great impact so far. As Kennedy rolls up his sleeves, ALMA break into their final song. Fieldhouse's solo proves him as a great guitarist, his squealing guitar captivates the audience. ALMA's sound can be hard to pull off, but they certainly did tonight. Catch ALMA for their headline show at The Exchange on September 9th.

Credit: Ben Hough

Credit: Ben Hough

OI OI! Release are back where they belong. 2017 has been a great year for Release getting out of town. You can feel the excitement build up as the crowd awaits their performance. 'Donald Punk' is their opener and it has everything you can think of. Mayson Nicholson uses a slide to create a distinctive sound on the guitar. Jack Mitchell rocks the violin solo. Punk Rock with a violin, I know, I've never heard anything like this either. Then Tom Price sends an exhilarating drum fill to finish the song. What a Talent! 'C U Next Time' is a fast-paced song in all departments. Lead Vocalist, Caleb Allport, doesn’t stay still for a second. A great presence to add to their chaotic sound. Allport's vocals have just the right balance between punky and melodic. From watching this artist, I can tell one of his main influences is Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine, but he gives it his own British twist with a distinctive tone. 'Publik Urination' was played with a pre-lude which proves there is a diverse nature about Release's set. The intro that everyone knows drops and the room packs with energy. When a band look like they enjoy their set, then so does the crowd. Release made a great example of this. Mitchell and his violin return to the stage for 'Ip Dip Dog Sh*t' which makes the sound even bigger. Allport ventures into the busy crowd but professionally, he remains in the zone.

Credit: Ben Hough 

Credit: Ben Hough 

Release had a great year in 2016 after bringing out their second E.P. Including songs like 'Back to the ol' Routine' which they had to play, along with 'Neat Seat'. These two songs, in contrast, display great vocal range and versatility from Allport. Nicholson uses a selection of loop and delay pedals to create a great noise. By this point in the set, his nipples are on display. Release also won single of the year at the 2016 Staffordshire and Cheshire Music Awards with their next song of the night, 'The Inevitable'. The crowd erupts as the violin melody comes in. The violin is such a beautiful instrument and Mitchell plays it with utter finesse, using his fingers to create harmonics. This is what makes Release so unique! Aaron Roden is a very technical bass player. He uses his musical head to work a synth and a backtrack into the mix. The last three songs of Release's set are expected to be a part of their third coming E.P this year. Their new song, 'Repetition Repetition' had a few technical difficulties, but it didn't stop them. They kicked into their next song, 'A Man Who Hated God' before finishing with 'Up in the Skies', my favourite song of the night. The vocal melody provided by Allport captures all kinds of emotions. I struggled to be constructive on Release's set on Friday night. From the beginning the boys were on top form. A great prospect with a unique sound and a truly amazing performance.

Credit: Ben Hough 

Credit: Ben Hough 

 

 

 

Leo Fest 2017

Ben Nixon || August 10th

Photography || John Morris

Deep in the labyrinth of Stoke-on-Trent’s heart, a new presence is making waves. As my senses guide me, deeper and deeper, I see it. Birth: the creation of a new asset, another facet of our exponentially growing music scene. Leo Fest. The hype had been building in anticipation of the event. Alongside, the pressure of great responsibility. Leo Fest projects a great strength, the potential to ignite the scene, to be one of the greatest events in the city. And it was.

The location, Trentham Rugby Club. A cautious curiosity shadowed my mind, questions arose: How is the space going to be used effectively? Will it work?

Day 1. As I arrive at the location, I walk down a narrow lane, and through heavy gates, I feel the warm pulse of House flowing in the air. My senses take over. I follow the sound. The dubbed ‘Mane Stage’ is in sight, provided by WonkStock & WoNk coordinator, Tim Simmons. Bodies flood around, the atmosphere thick as the torrents of rain. Not that this stopped me or anyone from having an epic time. I find Liz Mathews, the event Coordinator and main brain behind Leo Fest. A nervous excitement animating her (as a fellow event organiser, I knew how she felt). We were joined Event Managers, Eve Sweetmore and Rich Brown, each in equal anticipation of the unfolding event. My first instincts, left me feeling impressed that so much had been achieved in so little time and the atmosphere was pumping.

Later, I decided to explore, to see what other treasures Leo Fest still hid. I headed to the club house to find the ‘InRoar Stage’ (and most importantly, the bar). The names of the stages show the organisers' humorous side. Dubbing the stage names in relation to the event name. Great move. It works. On the side of the building, a familiar banner from Music Store Pro, who had generously provided a lighting rig for the event. If you haven’t visited MSP yet, then do so. As a musician, and event organiser, they have everything you need. And they're awesome people!

I managed to catch a few of the artists in action inside: Rich Redwin (also one of the organisers), James Johnson, Martin Gooding, Satisfiction, and Afterburner - who all blew me completely out of the water with the sheer quality of entertainment they provided. However, there was one band that night that had me in anticipation from the moment I knew they were playing: 10o’clock Chemical. I headed back over to the ‘Mane Stage’ for their headline set at 10p.m (nice!) and was left in wonder by various projections and lights gleaming in night sky. These wonders were provided by up and coming lighting magician, Adam Till, and his company, Opticool Illusions. A beautiful display.

The monstrous sound system stood tall and proud to the right of the stage. was brought in by Ash Henderson at Sirius Sound Systems who, like Adam, are gaining a reputation for their talents. 10o’clock Chemical descended onto the stage, launching into their electrifying set. Everyone felt it. The Universe felt it. A great set and a fitting finale to the first day of Leo Fest. Day 2. I braced myself for the second round. Early afternoon. I approached the gates: I could hear the party in full swing. The weather stuck out for the most of the day, seemed to draw in new audience already seduced by the festival's spirit. Unfortunately, I was on a time constraint,but I got to see a few artists: Jim McShee, Big Face (Nic Andrews), Grant Foster, Dj Liam Banks and John Paul Green, Macious - who were all epic!

A fire is growing in the musicians of our great city. you can sense it, see it in their performances. The one set that stuck out unlike any other was from the legend that is, Carl Wilson, (aka CJ, aka Dr Carl), who was backed by Ash Wall, Jim MyCock and Norman Sole. Carl is a rare spirit that has graced the lives of many and his energy and his contagious humour. The crowd were absolutely mental - roaring with laughter, lost in the show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t experience the rest of the day as I had prior commitments to attend.

The reports from the following day echoed what a stomper of night took place. I managed to watch a live video of Captain Stingray’s Grove Machine and Anu’s set, it was full on rave and everyone was emerged fully into the Leofest vibe. Give it a go. The Finale. I arrive slightly late to the festival, the atmosphere still basking in its hectic glory yet juxtaposed by a fresh relaxed energy that now surrounded us all. It was just the ‘Mane Stage’ operating today and it promised to end the event in style. I witnessed the sets of; Tofty & Bennet, TVP (Trent Vale Poet), Julia Mosley, John Dhali, Goya, Deluge and Kitsune.

Immense. Every single last one of them. The end. Liz wanted to give special thanks to the following: Jay Tilly, Stu James, Dan Elsmore, Andy Pickett, Mark Bradley, John Morris, Adam Till, Mark Crawford. This city is a beautiful one. You find yourself being constantly inspired and you realise how extraordinary the people forged in it are. To the creators, organisers and artistes of Leo Fest, congratulations. You have just pulled off something wonderful that will have big implications for the city.

I encourage anyone with a new idea to step forward with it, make yourself known. You could be playing a part in the progression of not only you, but your city and beyond. You will never know if you never try and ideas remain static without motion.

** Principle of Stretch - “If you can, you can’t. If you haven’t, you must” **

Thieves Asylum Launch New Single In Style

Emily Jones || August 9th

Thieves Asylum have had an indescribable few months. Fresh from the back of a string of brand new single releases, including the epic ‘Look Inside’, the four-piece are quite literally taking the local music scene by storm.

And on Friday night at The Exchange in Hanley, that very storm tore through Stoke-on-Trent as Thieves Asylum headlined (and conquered) the night.

Things began steadily with Misovia, a young four-piece alternative rock band, filling the opening slot. They performed original tracks including ‘Untitled 5’, ‘Why Bother’ and ‘Retrospect’, as well as a brand new instrumental track built from a colourful spectrum of layers. Although still very much in their early stages as a band and with areas to build on, Misovia carry a great amount of potential.

Bonsai were the second and final support for the evening, another band with something of a buzz surrounding them. They opened their set with ‘Clowes Avenue’, their most recent single, before settling comfortably into the music with tracks such as ‘Eskibar’ and ‘Fruit Shoot’. “If anyone feels slightly shit about themelves”, said front man Chris Hough to the crowd, referring to ‘Yesterday’s Tomorrow’, the penultimate track of their set, “then listen to this and it’ll make you feel happy”.

As Bonsai stepped off stage and the crowds began to gather, a feeling of anticipation and excitement hung heavy in the air. The large “THIEVES ASYLUM” banner that hung behind the stage, appeared more prominent now than it had done on my arrival. Smoke machines, lighting rigs and ground shaking walk-on music were in place and you just knew that you weren’t going to be able to forget this band and this night, too easily.

As Joey Tomasso, James Perry, Dan Thompson and Alex Grocock took their positions, standing like soldiers about to commence battle, they revved up their instruments and ripped straight into their set. This confidence was something I had never seen in them before, with each member providing a vital, well-rehearsed and tightly executed slice of the Thieves Asylum sound. ‘Reflections’, ‘IKYKIK’, ‘Noc Noc’ and ‘Just A Flame’ stood out as being some of the best live tracks I’ve witnessed this year and their adoring crowd, consisting of fans old and new, lapped up every inch.

It was this very confidence that helped them smoothly brush over a minor technical difficulty, leaving them to smash through the rest of their set with professionalism and sheer enjoyment. Tomasso looked comfortable on stage, as did the rest of the band, losing himself occasionally in the music he was making. As they entered the final track of their set, the prodigious ‘Look Inside’, their strongest release to date, Thieves Asylum were full of fire. With strong releases and an identifiable and ever-increasing sound, the four-piece are now well-cemented into the local music scene and stand like a towering beacon of all that is good and mighty with this city and its music.

LUKE WHO'S TALKING EP REVIEWED

 

Martin Gooding || August 8th

Grime, ahhhhh Grime. I've always had a troubled relationship with Hip Hop's British cousin, at times exhilarating, some times captivating but mostly lost on me. The latest EP "Luke Who's Talking" by local MC L.F.E dips it's toes into each of those categories at points but the one thing it absolutely confirms is that we have a very special talent on our hands.
The first track "Artist" sets the bar very, very high with a mesmerically adept study of his position within the current music scene. The song features one of the finest lines on the record and one that I feel says alot of L.F.Es artistic and personal outlook
"No slave to another man's pyramids"

L.F.E is an artist not afraid to step outside peoples preconceptions and step outside the limitations of genre and concept, these aren't single syllabic club bars, these are eloquent and intricate in equal measure.

The EP reaches another high with the first verse of "My City". L.F.E really showing off his skills as a poet and a storyteller, taking us on a journey that first feels like he's criticising but quickly becomes an ode to to the people that do us proud, those that rise above their limitations.
"Go Ahead" is the epitome of a solid club record, guaranteed to liven up any party and "Peak" hits all the right notes. Throughout, the record is enjoyable and is at its very best when L.F.E is deep in multi-syllabic flow, tearing a new niche for himself in the local scene, at its worst it's a very enjoyable grime record guaranteed to hold it's own against any MCs in the city.
 

Watch L.F.E's live performance on The Honey Box below.

Let Malthouse Electrify Your Soul

Leah Hamer || August 5th

Huddled away from the light of the local scene, Malthouse spent many months of last year in writing captivity, honing in on their art and revitalising their minds. To the pleasure of fans, they made their comeback earlier this year with an appearance on The Honey Box that teased the audience with the hope for new material in the distant future. That future has become the present. Taken from Extracts of the Soul, the soon-to-be released live EP from the boys, comes the lead single, Electrify Your Soul.

Immediately the shiver-inducing falsetto of Kieran Oakes tingles your heart, as you smile to yourself with the thought, Malthouse are back. A gentle, twinkling guitar melody accompanies the dreamy vocal line, as volume and passion grows like a vine into the robust chorus. Full of energetic wisdom and slick, bluesy guitar work- it is everything the local four-piece excel at and more. It trickles back into a tranquil verse before the tumbling drumbeat of Matt Grinham leads you once again back into the key of the chorus. Charming backing harmonies add depth and charm, emphasising the range of Kieran as he explores the octaves with ease and grace.

Recorded and mastered under the watchful eye of Sam Bloor, it has the crisp cleanliness of the Lower Lane maestro. Undoubtedly, the release has quenched our thirst- yet there is a longing for more and an eager anticipation as to what Extracts of the Soul will bring.

Sultry, slick and, as the name suggests, filled with soul, Electrify Your Soul has reignited fire of Malthouse.

Taskerz Return Transformed

Leah Hamer || August 3rd

With a fresh new line-up and a swanky new Z in their name, Stafford-born four-piece, Taskrz, have lived a year that has been heaped in change. Yet in the unmistakable valour of the original rock veterans and musical entrepreneurs, Jack and Sophie Bret Tasker, alongside the mystic violinist and blossoming florist, Laura Ellement, they have not allowed this change to inflict them. Instead they have continued to record and gig endlessly without a moments pause. Welcoming in the hearty new fingers of Rob Haubus on bass guitar, they have now been able to present their first collection of music together as this new power team, Heart That Bleeds.

An upbeat, twangy guitar pops your ears, followed by a series of snapping cymbals, before a charming melody intertwines itself into the title mix. Jack begins the steady vocal line, followed by the stormy distortion of Sophie’s striking voice in the chorus. Later, the stinging strings of Laura on the violin add an elegance and class to what could otherwise be categorised as a regular rock song. The most poignant moments come from the roaring crescendo of Jack’s repeated cries, ‘I know I’ve been a god damn fool’. The final moments trail off slowly after the rage of emotion to ease you gently back into silence.

A sneaky surprise follows with the second track, Baby Keep Walking, as you pick up on the saintly voice of local folk master, Nixon Tate, of the very same Nixon Tate and The Honey Club, who joins the rest of the crew. In this proud collaboration of native minds, the vocals of Sophie, Laura, Jack and Nixon are electrifying- each bringing a vibrant splash of colour to the edgy, experimental number. Filled with reverb and distortion, Baby Keep Walking, is a snappy ode to the badass attitude that Taskrz rock all day every day.

Recorded at DROMA and engineered by Jack Tasker himself, before being shipped off for some mastering over at UTC, both tracks are reflective of the versatility of Taskrz and the hands-on, caring craftsmanship that goes into the creations at DROMA. Listening to this alliance of local musicians is a joy and something to be aspired to.

Heart That Bleeds will be available to listen to and download on Wednesday 2nd August from: https://thetaskers.bandcamp.com/album/heart-that-bleeds

Taskrz will be performing live at The Market Vaults, Stafford, alongside Merrym’n on the same date, followed by The Swan Inn with Emily Jones on Thursday 3rd August.

Marquee Double Track Review

Leah Hamer || August 2nd

Since forming mere months ago from the collective ashes of other projects, Marquee have been solidifying their place within the Stoke music ranks with every waking moment. Their continuous gigging has seen their name splattered across the walls of venues and the world of social media, allowing them to sink their claws into the ripe, young indie crowd. After the success of their first releases, Do What You Need and Playground back in May, they have made a hasty return to the land of recording.

Throw It Back was the first release we were granted with. Beginning with an isolated, grunged up, punk riff with that welcomes you in to their dirty little mix. Then comes the surprise- rapping. It is a complete contrast to their previous work that jolts you momentarily, after we have been used to the dual singing of Kieran and Calum. Think Beastie Boys meets Slaves. The rest of the track follows a marriage of rap and grunge, in a huge twist from the numbers that we have heard from the band previously. It is admirable to see their experimental nature as they try to break the moulds of local music- yet it needs to be scrubbed up with a good sponge and scourer. Although a decent mixing and mastering effort by George Hopkins, it could do with the polish and refinement of the studio to really hit it off.

Again showing another element of their established arsenal comes Sealed Wth A Kiss- a track that has washed ashore onto an entirely different continent to Throw It Back. Opening with a bass riddled with overdrive, there is a Nirvana-esque promise in the song. The bass continues below the haunting lyrics, ‘She walks like a ghost in the night/And she whispers my name as she turns out the light’. There is a dark theme to this track that is matched by the grizzly guitar and heavy drum beats- yet they are a little to symbol dominated for my liking. It is more of a traditional indie-rock track compared to its predecessor, so the question remains as to which direction the band will choose to favour in future.

Marquee have the ingredients to becoming a top-class band, yet so far they have given us a mixed bag of tracks with all varying styles. It is clear they are in the difficult early days of finding a sound that truly encompasses their identity. The tools are there, so with some more time to write and develop, followed by a good quality session in the studio, they will be ready to make their mark.

Marquee will perform live at The Session All Dayer at the Jolly Potters on Sunday 27th August.

Six Foot Psycho

Lee Barber // July 31st

Stoke's music scene has gone from strength to strength in the last twelve months, and Six Foot Psycho are the latest new band to hit the city. And they hit it hard. After building some strong hype on social media before even having any music available, Ben Comley's vision finally came to light when Grant Foster became the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle to complete the band's line up. The four piece act, also featuring Liam Banks and Rich Howshall, recently released two demo tracks, Ride On and Separate The Game, and when we say released, we mean unleashed.

Ride On sits on a rainbow of musical influences, ranging from blues, funk, rock and a nice dose of psychedelia for good measure. With a drum beat and bass riff you can't ignore creating a sound foundation for Foster's reinvented vocals, you're taken on a hedonistic, energetic adventure you'll be more than happy to on again and again. Foster has been a prominent figure in Stoke music for a number of years now, running in several music projects as well as founding Grey Wolf, but with Six Foot Psycho he has infused himself into the project so much that at times it's hard to even recognise his voice. He is certainly proving early on the he will be a vital addition to the band.

Separate The Game takes you down a much darker, sinister path, opening with an eerie guitar melody leading into a slow goal melody, which is then built on with a steady, calculated snare reminiscent of Joy Division. As the track builds momentum, it begins to come clear where the real influences of the band lie; hints of Tame Impala and BRMC lie buried within the heart of the track, while The Black Angels tingle the very edges of the song when it drops and you're taking off into a dark psychedelic experience, and once it's over you find yourself desperate to relive but unsure if you'll survive its power to seduce.

Six Foot Psycho are without a doubt a band aiming to give Stoke's music a new direction to consider, and if these two track are just the demo's, that direction is looking pretty exciting.

The Underground Reopening Party

Popular Music Venue Celebrates New Owners

Leah Hamer || July 18th

Babyshambles. Mystery Jets. Editors. The Underground was crowned the home of dirty indie rock and roll in the days of MySpace and MTV2. It became a cult classic with its legendary Club NME nights playing host to the tunes of forgotten noughties heroes. After its thirteen-year-old life, there were fears that the establishment would have closed, had it not been for the team behind The Exchange- who took on the new project in order to keep the iconic club alive. To celebrate their new ownership, an almighty gig was in order.

                On Friday 14th July, The Underground opened its doors for free and welcomed the talents of a variety of local artists for the evening. Soulful wonder John Dhali kicked off the evening with medley of inspiring anthems, gearing up the filtering in crowd for a hopeful night.

                Craig James Key took to the stage next with a warming voice and peaceful disposition. His sweet melodies were tickled on the strings of a shining Epiphone as the crowd sipped and swayed with him. With a mixture of original tracks like the poignant Paranoia, and some singalong numbers to such as Half The World Away, he had the perfect mixture to keep the audience entertained.

                With an array of covers under his belt, Alex Webb entered the arena next, with his engaging and decisive vocals and easy charm. With tracks like American Boy, You Know I’m No Good and While My Guitar Gently Weeps- Alex is no stranger to a challenge, clearly. With the confidence to cover such an eclectic mix, he is out to show everyone his talent for moulding and renewing even the most well-known songs.

                As a man with a personal love and passion for The Underground, it was a pleasure to see Ryan Dooley perform an intimate solo set, without the fellas of Faraday behind him. He could not praise the venue enough and complimented the new owners continuously. A voice that bubbles with nostalgia, the crowd were in adoration of Ryan’s return to the venue, as he performed both numbers from his current endeavour including Roots and Animal, and his past work with All The Young such as Today.

                Next came another artist who had found his footing at The Underground- Joey T. However, in the true fashion of an opening night- it didn’t all quite go to plan! With a series of technical difficulties, the set was forced to end before it had even begun. Yet Joey promised to return another time to give us the show we were waiting for.

                Closing up the gig were The Manalishi, armed with their band of loyal lads chanting MANA MANA MANA FUCKING LISHI. With filthy, fast rock n roll, the drinks were flying and the crowd was moshing- this is the mentality that The Manalishi always inspire. Starting off with their latest release, A Little Less Violence, the band continued to please the rowdy audience with their anthemic, loud heart-pumpers such as Out of the Blue and Sneaky Freaky. The gig came to a close as everyone’s ears were ringing and shoes were sticky- the true aftermath of The Underground. Yet it wasn’t over, the Red Stripe would keep flowing until the early hours with the DJing of Calum Murphy.

                With a following gig on the Saturday evening completing the celebrations, The Underground is back alive and kicking. Someone call Pete and Carl.

GBH will be performing at The Underground on Friday 18th August. Support comes from Adam Probert and John E SmokeDirty Rotten Souls and The Glass House Museum. Tickets on sale now through See Tickets and Music Mania. 

A Cut To The Quick

Leah Hamer | July 14th

After hiding herself away from the world of music for several years to focus on journalistic pursuits, in 2016 Emily Jones snuck out from her hiatus, picked up her guitar and arose once again to the gigging sphere. With this comeback, the pressure was on to trap her talent within a recording and so she called up the wizarding minds over at DROMA Records and UTC Studio. Together they have produced, A Cut To The Quick, the first instalment of two releases she has planned for 2017.

The raw squeaks of guitar strings open up the EP with New Year, a song that revives your hopes and expectations of life. With an earthy voice and gentle strums of her guitar, Emily is comforting and homely throughout the track. Like a wake-up call, she sings ‘new day, new hour, new start, new year’, to shake away the cobwebs of your mind and begin afresh.

The lead single, I Hope It Hurts, follows with its forceful storm of angst. It begins mellow, a building rage throughout the verse turns into this vocal inferno, complete with its bellowing reverb. The backing guitar of Jack Tasker is jazzy and smooth, and the towering drums of Sophie Bret Tasker give the track the extra volume that the lyrics require. Brutal and honest, you would be wise to not make enemy of Emily.

Penultimate track Upsticks is bluesy and comes with a wiggling beat that makes you move. There is a rebellious, smirking attitude with this track, ‘Upsticks, take your shit elsewhere.’ Tom Bath comes in with a harmonica giving it this lively, country feel. Liberating and fun, it reflects just another angle of Emily’s skill set.

One of the remarkable elements of this EP, is how daringly different it is to Emily’s live performances. Those that have caught her in person will recognise Emily to be an endearing soul with an ever-strengthening voice and charming wit as she rests her guitar across her lap and tells the crowd short anecdotes. A Cut to the Quick is an enhanced Emily- she is commanding, intimidating and superior. The addition of electronics and drums provides a melodramatic force field surrounding her voice. Jack and Sophie Bret Tasker act as her supportive side-kicks, giving her the energetic, confidence boost that truly magnifies the first three tracks of EP.

The final track, however, gives Emily her own solitary platform to present herself. Fool brings back a wave of darkening emotion, with her reflective lyrics and stripped back production. Broken and real, she does not shy away from truth. It is hard listening- you are forced to understand the words and relate to their gut wrenching meaning. As wonderful it is to see Emily brightened by further production- Fool reminds you that she is just as powerful standing alone.

With poignant subject matters, dazzling vocals and a proud, courageous attitude, A Cut to the Quick is the perfect display of Emily Jones showing the world who she is.

A Cut To The Quick is out today via DROMA Records.