Rona Mac is a musical enigma nestled in the heart of Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Wind swept by the sea, and mysteriously combed by the countryside. Debut album Sheelah was nothing shy of mesmerising. Aching with earnest acoustics, laced against licks of fierce, raw lyrical honesty. Rona Mac set our souls alight with an untamed DIY approach, that resulted in the most confessional, heartfelt body of work.
Often so bold as to go where no lyricist has gone before, Rona Mac’s charm exudes from her unwavering realness. Writing, performing, mixing and mastering initial indie-folk tracks alone. Rona relished in clattering makeshift instruments together to create song. Curating her debut in the cosy corner of a caravan. Carefully extracting each passing thought, each pang of a memory, each pestering desire to scream out how she truly felt. To capture songs that played out like snapshots of her life, in the hope of awakening and inspiring others.
Returning in 2021 with latest single ‘Weapon’. Rona Mac is out to make her mark on the music industry, and make an impact she certainly does. Breaking boundaries, Rona soars with a newfound untamed sound, as ‘Weapon’ quickly engulfs each and every one of its listeners. Brooding over the bark of a heavy bass guitar, before bursting into the addictive fizz of an indie-pop anthem. Gone are the pots and pans as makeshift drums, and welcomed are the grazes from electric guitar strings. This meaner, moodier style adds an unexpected but gorgeous grit. Allowing Rona Mac to delve even deeper into her intoxicating lyrical honesty.
Expansive and undeniably different, ‘Weapon’ is musically miles away from debut DIY album Sheelah. Yet this intriguing switch of styles shows clear progression for Rona Mac, and will leave listeners desperately needing to hear more.
A standout symbol for queer identity, a blazing feminist icon, bundled up in dog-eared folk tenderness. Rona Mac is the glorious hippie muse we all yearn to be, and will certainly yearn to listen to.
Stream ‘Weapon’ on all platforms now via Rose Parade Recording Co.
As Spring bursts into bloom, our favourite queen of hearts Rebecca Hurn returns with her stunning single, Panic. Due for release on 30th April, but available to pre-save now. The single is a follow-up to the gorgeously festive Something About Christmas and October’s mesmerising Love Like This. Written among the bustling romantic boulevards of New York City, almost 2 years to the date. Asides from an intimate live performance at Bleecker Street’s The Bitter End, Hurn has kept this latest surprise single close to her chest until now.
Deeply personal, Panic is a poignant pop track that explores the highs and the lows that we can go through at the beginning of a new relationship. Hand in hand, Hurn sweeps us away with majestic song writing, cradled by the caress of sweetened vocal chords. Striking the balance just right, between story-telling and song. Instruments are perfectly paired, as gentle acoustics glide across verses, and the chorus breaks with building percussion. Bold enough to make a memorable impact, just as a quickened heartbeat would when caught in the moment.
A singer songwriter drawing largely upon her own experiences for inspiration. Rebecca Hurn divulges music as a memoir. Heartbreakingly honest, leaving no emotion unexplored, or a word left unsaid. Panic is poignant yet perfect, as it captures those inner monologues that we often shy away from expressing ourselves.
Following the intimate debut performance of Panic in New York, Rebecca Hurn described the tracks meaning herself:
“I have this thing where I think…. when I’m like – I start seeing somebody – Oh my God I know how this is going to end and it’s never nice – so I think when it’s good ….I’m like Oh God when is this going to go wrong! So that is what this is kind of about.”
This keen ability to match unhindered lyrics, with a soft and almost delicate soundscape, allows Hurn to truly tap into theemotions of her listeners. There is an air of wonder and magic to her music, with its twinkling acoustic strums and patters of percussion. Yet also that firm grounding from its emotive meaning, and a compellingly raw human aspect that yearns from the aching truth in her vocals. Creating music that makes us feel alive, by making us feel.
Produced and recorded by Cardiff-based Lee Jon House, Panic is a beautiful single from a mesmerising musician. It is with excitement that we wait to behold what the rest of 2021 has in-store for Rebecca Hurn.
With an appearance at The Isle of Wight Festivalset for September. To our delight, it won’t be long until Rebecca Hurn will be enchanting audiences once again.
Mr Bewlay is an eccentric musician, determined to re-define everything that we know about music. From the bright and bubbly Her Name is Juniper to the sombre piano ballads of Fake Yourself. Bewlay is shaking off genres and shaking up our eardrums. Yearning that we explore as many new sounds and styles as possible. Proudly breaking away from any constraints of the mainstream, Bewlay paves his own beautiful path, and it’s a road that we certainly want to join him on.
Latest track Dan “The Don” Wilson introduces itself with a thumping 80s synth line. Pair this with marvellously kooky lyrics about central character “The Don”, and Bewlay strikes gold yet again. From music that is mind-warpingly mesmerising, to a story unusually fascinating. Bewlay makes no apologies for allowing all forms of their creativity to flow free.
On the topic of his latest release, Mr Bewlay discusses:
“Dan “The Don” Wilson is really a deep look into opposites. I teamed up with my old friend Dai Griffiths [producer] again and together we built up this song from fragments and incomplete ideas. At one point we didn’t know where it was heading and let the song guide itself, it was very exciting! I really wanted to convey the stark difference between the commercial instrumentation and the surreal lyrics and I wanted that to be the underlying theme of the track, that of beauty and ugliness.”
Not merely content with releasing music that is any way “normal”, Bewlay shines as a charade character himself. With an ingenious, read between the lines style of song-writing. On this latest track, Bewlay pens lyrics that purposefully don’t make sense.
Off the wall and intentionally strange. Dan “The Don” Wilson unfolds into music that we are not meant to understand. Ingulfed instead by thoughts of “Triple Decker Bacon Supremes” we allow ourselves to be transported into this artist’s colourful world. A place where the ordinary surely becomes extraordinary, Bewlay provides a musical thrill ride full of twists and turns. As a listener, you never know what to expect next, and that is what makes Mr Bewlay so bewilderingly brilliant to behold.
Produced by Dai Griffiths, Dan “The Don” Wilson is the 2nd instalment in Mr Bewlay’s ‘Synthwave Trilogy’. This independent release has incorporated multi-media assets from likeminded independent artists. Including bespoke pieces from Veronika Purplesfinx, Stephanie Gunnz, Emily Irvin and Rose Ashley. The cover art for the single was digitally created by the Irish artist Cor McGowan and fulfils the theme of contrast with the uncanny-valley burger, dripping with meat, grease and cheese.
Stream ‘Dan “The Don” Wilson’ on all platforms now
Despite the unprecedented challenges that 2020 has brought upon music, I have been incredibly inspired by the continued efforts of musicians and the entire industry. Those who have dedicated so much of themselves to creating. Doing all that they can to bring joy, in the darkest of times.
To celebrate their unwavering determination, I am so pleased to share with you, a list of 5 of my favourite EPs from this year.
Rosehip Teahouse ‘Chillin in the Void’
Wrapped in serenity and sweetness, Rosehip Teahouse’s first EP of 2020 quite literally transports its listeners away to another realm. From the softest twinkles of synths, to dreamy lullaby vocals from lead singer Faye Rogers. ‘Chillin in the Void’ is a completely mesmerising offering from the Cardiff-quintet. In tune with both music and emotion, Rosehip Teahouse infuse gentle instruments against tender lyrics. Enabling them to create a blend of indie-pop, that is poignant, but oh so pleasant. Yet, if one EP wasn’t enough, swiftly following ‘Chillin in the Void’ was latest EP ‘Fine’, another gorgeous slice of music goodness from Rosehip Teahouse.
Bursting with all of the brilliant enthusiasm and flamboyance that we have grown to expect from Cardiff’s Buzzzard Buzzard Buzzard.‘The Non-Stop EP’ is home to seventies power struts and a cool retro vibe. Certainly a delight to discover during a rather desolate year. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard have a keen sense of embracing music from the past, but ensure they bring it bang up to date, with their own unique twist. Dancing with modern-day politics and an unabashed jest. We groove from the fun Double Denim Hop to the satirical quips of Hollywood Actors. With ‘The Non Stop EP’ catapulting this rising band headfirst into the spotlight.
Hauntingly beautiful, Manchester musician Lindsay Munroe entrances through debut EP ‘Our Heaviness’. Set against the backdrop of a rigid religious past, Munroe bestows her anguish in gorgeous confession. Pairing eerily muted vocals with a beguiling soundscape, ‘Our Heaviness’ is an EP bearing tracks that latch onto their listeners, and resonate within our very core. With Munroe evoking such a bold honesty, her music is profoundly moving, particularly the track Split. There is a captivating literary-feel present throughout her songwriting, that implores us to pry deeper into her inner-psyche. Proving that Munroe is not only a wonderful musician, but a fascinating muse.
London-based Talk Show have been acquiring a stirring buzz around their music for some time now. From a reputation for fearsomely frantic live shows, to brooding new single releases. 2020 saw the band present their highly anticipated EP ‘These People’. Boasting brash anger and unwavering lyricism, ‘These People’ is in full grasp of its gritty sound. Frontman Harrison Swann, an intoxicating enigma, standing centre stage among a band who channel all of their energy into these fast-paced, unforgettable anthems – look no further than Petrol Head, if you need clarification. Dominating a sinister charm, Talk Show rouse an indescribable impulse, dragging listeners kicking and screaming toward their addictively fierce new breed of punk.
Bittersweet and bold, Phoebe Green portrays the delirious intimacies of a corroding relationship on latest EP ‘I Can’t Cry For You’. Taking the listener on a hypnotic thrill ride, Green rebounds from the hard-driven indie of Golden Girl, to the distorted psychedelia in Grit. Unhinging senses and pushing the boundaries of every comfort zone, on her lyrically bruising but brilliant EP. Awakening a new persona, Green glows with flame-orange hair and a witty humour. As ‘I Can’t Cry For You’ bares a musician not afraid to toy with our inner-most thoughts and feelings.
Well, it’s December 1st and Christmas is on its way. For me though, this date marks something rather special on my calendar. Today celebrates 1 year since I started ‘Becky and the Bands’, and what a year it has been!
What was just an idea in my head and a burst of enthusiasm, has grown to become something I could never have imagined. Beginning writing with nothing other than an incredible love of music, putting my thoughts out there was very scary! Yet I received such an overwhelming amount of love and support from you all, and every day since, I remain in complete awe at how much positivity and warmth you continue to show me. I cannot put into words how sincerely grateful I am. ‘Becky and the Bands’ has provided not only amazing opportunities, but also wonderful friendships, experiences and a complete adoration for the music industry.
We are all aware that 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges on the world, but there is no denying that it has hit music so earth-shatteringly hard. However, despite all of the chaos brought upon us. We continue to support, nurture, and provide for one another. Showing bold bravery in the face of uncertainty, and an unbreakable bond — That has brought us all even closer together, despite being so far apart.
Music lives within each and every one of us. It is our passion, and our comfort. It keeps us busy, and calms us down. It is our livelihood, and our lifeline. Music may not be playing as loud as we would love it to be heard right now, but if you listen close enough, then you’ll realise that WE are music. We play the instruments, plug in the speakers. Our voices, our words and our passion are what keep us going right now
Writing has been a tremendous help to me over the past year. Discovering and celebrating brilliant new music, getting to know so many lovely musicians, working with the most incredible companies, publications and individuals. Music has opened my heart to an entirely new outlook on life. However what it has shown me the most, is how hardworking, dedicated and inspiring music, and everyone who is a part of it, really is.
A huge THANK YOU to you all!
Your support this year has meant the world to me, and I’m so grateful for you!
Happy 1st Birthday
Becky and the Bands
I wanted to celebrate the amazing musicians I have written about this year!
The most experimental and groundbreaking of his work to date. Dan Bettridge has made a fierce return to music, in the run up to latest EP ‘Good People. Bad Habits.’ Lyrically immersing himself in new depths, whilst musically reaching new heights. Bettridge has boldly tread into unexplored territory, harnessing newfound vocal effects, an array of…
With just over a month to go until the release of highly anticipated EP ‘Good People. Bad Habits.’ Dan Bettridge has gifted us with another slice of what we can expect, in the form of latest single Sign. Following a hiatus from releasing music since 2019. The dawn of 2021 saw the appearance of initial ‘Good People. Bad…
Rona Mac is a musical enigma nestled in the heart of Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Wind swept by the sea, and mysteriously combed by the countryside. Debut album Sheelah was nothing shy of mesmerising. Aching with earnest acoustics, laced against licks of fierce, raw lyrical honesty. Rona Mac set our souls alight with an untamed DIY approach, that resulted…
As Spring bursts into bloom, our favourite queen of hearts Rebecca Hurn returns with her stunning single, Panic. Due for release on 30th April, but available to pre-save now. The single is a follow-up to the gorgeously festive Something About Christmas and October’s mesmerising Love Like This. Written among the bustling romantic boulevards of New York City, almost 2 years to the…
Mr Bewlay is an eccentric musician, determined to re-define everything that we know about music. From the bright and bubbly Her Name is Juniper to the sombre piano ballads of Fake Yourself. Bewlay is shaking off genres and shaking up our eardrums. Yearning that we explore as many new sounds and styles as possible. Proudly…
An EP from Welsh indie-quintet Campfire Social has been highly anticipated for some time now. Following the stirring buzz that swarmed from singles released throughout 2020 and early 2021. Latest EP release ‘Everything Changed’ encapsulates the excitement and intoxicating energy that has exuded from their music. Taking a big bite out of 90s emo-pop, with a heady…
Expanding on their impressive indie sound. Latest single ‘Early Dreamer’ sees Cardiff-based Twin Stranger introduce a refreshing twist on the genre, with a reflective and brooding, yet melodic breakaway track. As waves of psychedelic rock and power pop burst through, creating music that is both vibrant and immersive. Opening lyrics battle the ever-tempting pull between…
After a hiatus from releasing music, Swansea favourites Trampolene return with rousing spoken-word track ‘Come Join Me In Life’. Fronted by Jack Jones, Trampolene are certainly not a band to shy away from. Boasting music that is unapologetically loud, outspoken, and bold. This 3-piece have garnered a reputation for packed-out, reckless, and brilliant live shows. …
A fresh face in South Wales’ indie music scene, singer-songwriter Alcie Bela is mystifying. Perfectly pairing dark witted lyrics, to a delicate acoustic folk sound. The musician is currently recording her upcoming EP at a studio deep within the heart of Welsh woodland. Ensuring the seeds of her kindled earthy spirit are sown. As debut single ‘Don’t…
Horizons are set to embark on their Independent Venue Week Tour of Wales. Between the 25th-31st of January prepare to be enthralled by exciting sets from the incredible new Horizons prodigies, as well as performances by many other Welsh bands, including special appearances from Holding Absence and Junior. As sessions from the artists are streamed…
Despite the unprecedented challenges that 2020 has brought upon music, I have been incredibly inspired by the continued efforts of musicians and the entire industry. Those who have dedicated so much of themselves to creating. Doing all that they can to bring joy, in the darkest of times. To celebrate their unwavering determination, I am…
2020 has seen Phoebe Green literally “Reinvent” herself. From a striking new single in July, to her current EP release. The Manchester based singer-songwriter has awoken a new persona, and she is certainly not one to be messed with. Possessing flame orange hair, and a dark witty humour, Green is flourishing. All while raining a glorious revenge…
Stepping out of the flamboyance and fun of previous release ‘Her Name Is Juniper’. For new double-A side ‘Fake Yourself’, Mr Bewlay takes on the far more somber role of an eccentric lone pianist, and the results are nothing short of sublime. Stirring vocals and soft piano keys entrance, with Bewlay knowing just how to…
Cradling tender emotion in the palm of their hands, is a skill that Cardiff indie-pop band Rosehip Teahouse have completely perfected. Boasting a back catalogue of gorgeously cathartic music. Latest EP ‘Fine’ merges old and new tracks, entwining memories, thoughts and feelings into just shy of a blissful 15 minutes. Swooning vocals from lead singer…
Horizons Cymru have announced the Welsh musicians and record labels, awarded funding from the Horizons Launchpad 2020. The 33 chosen Welsh artists/record labels awarded funding: Aleighcia ScotEadythFaithFoxxgloveHakoHemesHigh Grade GroovesHVNTERIfan PritchardK(E)NZKingkhanLeila MckenzieLos BlancosMace the GreatMadiMaguguMalan JonesMass AccordMawpitMinasMonique BPhoenix RiseRazkidRecordiau JigcalRona MacSomething Out of Nothing RecordsSonny Double 1SwannickSywel NywSZWEThalloThe Honest PoetTraxx This year has seen Horizons’ most…
Frosty nights, cosy firesides, mulled wine, and mistletoe. December is here, Christmas is fast approaching, and serenading us this festive season is the gorgeous new single ‘Something About Christmas’ from Welsh singer-songwriter Rebecca Hurn. ‘Something About Christmas’ is mesmerising in its entire composure. From tender emotive pangs, to cosy Christmas references. With vocals as soft…
Bold and charismatic, an intoxicating charm blazes from the flamboyant powerhouse and emerging talent, that is Mr Bewlay. If personality alone is not enough to draw you in, and I dare anyone not to swoon under the spell of this captivating young musician. Latest single ‘Her Name is Juniper’ is the psychedelic spark that will…
With a passion for supporting emerging musicians. The exciting South Wales based initiative Forté Project, have launched their new application process. Giving six lucky individuals, the chance to join their prestigious talent development project. Previously only available to young musicians from South Wales. Following support from the PRS Foundation and the Arts Council of Wales. The Forté Project…
Punk rock is infamous for its love of rebellion. Rule-breaking, non-conformity and an unwavering bold stance in both style and substance. It is a genre that regularly depicts a state of turmoil, and hits back at society with a vengeance. As global politics and the state of the world at large, are currently tipping the…
Meet the Cheshire band, providing all the bite of a classic rock sound, with an intriguing modern twist. The Moondogz tether gritty instrument playing to moody vocal blues, and latest album ‘What’s Done Is Done’ will spark the curiosity of any classic rock fan, and grab the attention of all who dare to listen. No…
Bold and charismatic, an intoxicating charm blazes from the flamboyant powerhouse and emerging talent, that is Mr Bewlay. If personality alone is not enough to draw you in, and I dare anyone not to swoon under the spell of this captivating young musician. Latest single ‘Her Name is Juniper’ is the psychedelic spark that will ensure you fall head over heels for this intriguing “mista”.
Owning an eccentric Bowie-esque swagger, Mr Bewlay demands our attention from the very get-go and ‘Her Name is Juniper’ soars with effortless precision. Turning a sharp tongue to lyrics that drip in bubbly lovelorn lust, and pairing them with a melodic soundscape of synths. Showcased is a true showman, impeccably switched on to what sounds good and harnessing the electrifying capabilities of shooting to stardom, with both a driving talent and compelling alter-ego.
Oozing all of the makings of a musical muse, Mr Bewlay is mysterious, wickedly brilliant and devilishly fun. An enchanting character that dominates both their sound and style, ‘Her Name is Juniper’ is the catalyst that will surely send them to the stratosphere.
Having produced a single so strikingly catchy, Mr Bewlay can boast their intent of enchanting any and every listener they ensnare. There is no denying that ‘Her Name is Juniper’ will snake around your mind and invade your brain, nestling itself delightfully into your memory, until its firmly lodged at the top of every playlist and listened to on repeat. It is a chaotically fantastic funhouse, for all of our senses.
For fans of Adam Ant, Mr Bewlay is a musician that exudes such a delectable confidence. Something so inherently appealing is paraded by their utterly compelling uniqueness. A trait that makes them stand out and shine bright, above all others.
There is an overwhelming urge to shout loudly, that Mr Bewlay will soon become the next big thing we will all be talking about, listening to, and loving. Whether it is a result of the magically mesmerising ‘Her Name is Juniper’, or their vibrantly playful personality leading the charge. I for one, cannot wait to watch them skyrocket.
Punk rock is infamous for its love of rebellion. Rule-breaking, non-conformity and an unwavering bold stance in both style and substance. It is a genre that regularly depicts a state of turmoil, and hits back at society with a vengeance. As global politics and the state of the world at large, are currently tipping the scales. There is no denying that punk is the musical outlet we need at the moment.
Eager to shake up society and our music scene, are the fiery Pseudo Cool. Possessing all of the grit and grunge you could desire; this band have a sound that is edgy and untamed. Led by siblings Cathy Bastian (lead vocals, bass) and Lloyd Bastian (backing vocals, guitar), family ties run deep throughout their music. Lead guitarist Dylan Howells, and drummer Shay Bevan complete the lineup.
Bursting out of the South Wales town of Maesteg, Pseudo Cool blazed onto our radar just this year. As 2020 has seen them release not one, but three new singles. All of which have received heavy praise, including backing from BBC Radio Wales and Horizons Cymru, as well as a string of music blogs, publications and podcasts. With tongue-in-cheek lyrical jabs and jangled guitars, Pseudo Cool inject humour into their music. Yet add just enough of that raw punk-bitterness, to sharpen our taste buds.
First single ‘Modern Man’ released in July, gave us a first glimpse of what to expect from Pseudo Cool. Debuting their edgy punk sound to the world, the band certainly kicked off in style. With unapologetic lyrics poking fun at modern 21st century masculinity. ‘Modern Man’ is a satirical quip, that delves into the strives and struggles of your everyday relationship. Delivered in a rhythmic blend of riffs, instruments glide along with Cathy Bastian’s muted almost spoken vocals, which interject that brooding tone we adore. Reminiscent of female punk fiends such as Siouxsie and Debbie Harry.
Progressing only further with sophomore single ‘Wrong’, at the end of September. Pseudo Cool rose the tempo of their music higher, breaking previous vocal and instrument boundaries they had set for themselves. As their muted brooding sound, gave way to a punk-rock charm; Bastian flexed her pitches and flaunted her vocal flair on this track, and it is truly a delectable transformation to behold. Proving her to be a multi-tonal, and very capable vocalist. Seeking influence from the likes of Lily Allen, with the grit of popular Dublin newcomers Fontaines D.C.
Exploring every branch of punk is certainly on this band’s agenda, as they prove their worth yet again on latest track ‘I’d Like To Watch’. Released just this month [October], with a sound so ominous and dark, it sizzles from a sinister twist. Abolishing the punk-rock prowess of the predeceasing ‘Wrong’. Pseudo Cool have built a bass-driven track, that is entirely different to the previous two guitar dominated singles. Raw, grungy and heavy, ‘I’d Like To Watch’ reflects the muted brooding of ‘Modern Man’. Although any satirical comedy that was present, is now long gone. Replaced instead with a sensual, simmering atmosphere. Unnerving, yet so deliriously exciting.
Pseudo Cool break the rules, refuse to conform, and stand bold in both their style and substance. Modern rebels of the music scene, their sound embodies the true spirit of punk, and they are a dose of EXACTLY what we need to hear right now. Set to release more singles before the year is out, it appears that the chaos of 2020 has delivered us a band so chaotically brilliant.
Listen to Pseudo Cool on all platforms now!
All tracks were Produced and Mixed by Cody Reynolds-Shaw of Trenova Sound
As Cardiff continues to produce an array of exciting and talented musicians. Meet Static Inc. A three-piece alternative rock group, who are crossing borders not only musically, but also where language is concerned.
Combining both English and native Welsh within their debut track. Latest single ‘Tangelo’ is enriched by its varied blend of tongue, adding an interesting perspective. Lines interchange their language seamlessly, meaning verses are coolly multi-lingual, in an effortless transition.
Often musicians sing in just one language during a track, but to hear two very different languages laced together in such a way, is a breath of fresh air. Despite drawing on lyrics that are solemn and moody. The gritty realness that exudes from this debut is refreshing, as Static Inc place heart and personal experience within their music.
Based on a bedrock of rumbling alt-rock. Static Inc build truly expansive music, as they progress through their multi-layered track. Standing at an impressive seven minutes, ‘Tangelo’ is segmented with upbeat, catchy guitar solos, that schmooze against fizzing drums. Musical correlations flow from one part to the next, and motions are fluid-like within this rock-operatic daydream.
Varying sections create a single that is digestible and easy to listen to. Even with its lengthy playtime, ‘Tangelo’ never falters. Faint hums of influence spark from Queen’s 6-minute ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’, with similar styles that only deepen in intensity as the minutes progress.
As a strong instrumental closure brings ‘Tangelo’ to its crescendo. Drums clash with an industrial fury and guitars pulse along in a medley of sound. Incorporating an entirely different style, when compared to the multi-lingual lyrical moodiness of the opening few minutes. These purely playful 4 minutes, allow for such a profound instrumental pitch, that charges the track with a new lease of energy.
Static Inc are clearly a budding new band, out to prove that language is certainly no barrier when it comes to music. All whilst harnessing a unique and intriguing sound. Capable of telling a story entirely its own, without the use of any words at all.
Music thuds through the walls, and the building shakes from the blaring pulse of the speakers. As doors fly open, and countless people weave in through the darkness. The packed-out gig is hot and humid. Filled with laughter and noise, beer and chanting. Livelier than any stadium, a wall-to-wall show at Fuel promises to please. The band on stage certainly do not disappoint. Gritty guitar work, blaring vocals, and clashing drums engulf the room, delighting the eagerly awaiting crowd.
An atmosphere that is surely engrained within heavy metal band SouthBound, who celebrated the release of their debut EP ‘Even Angels Sin’, to a packed-out show at Cardiff’s Fuel Nightclub in January. Determined not to let lockdown deter their spirits, the band have been working hard on creating their sophomore release. Proudly presenting, latest single ‘Bermuda’ to the world.
A gritty guitar anthem, you can really sink your teeth into. ‘Bermuda’ roars with feminine ferocity. Lead vocalist Megan Jenkins sets the tone, as ravaging guitars and drums whir around her. Choosing to keep pitches low and biting to begin with, the band allude to that sinister tension, building throughout their music.
Providing sublime guitar pitches, substantial enough to satisfy any rock n’ roll fan. Classic influence from giants such as Slipknot, Slayer and Avenged Sevenfold are clear to be heard, and evoke this bands hungry desire. Resulting in the grungy, alternative soundscape that charges ‘Bermuda’.
Rooted within the heart of the Welsh Valleys, a passion for music runs deep in the veins of SouthBound. There is such resonating energy present, that rings clear through their music. Instruments are pushed to breaking-point, with a fearless style of playing. Vocals are steeped in Megan’s rich Welsh accent. It is these bold touches of home, that push SouthBound forward in Cardiff’s metal scene, and ‘Bermuda’ is certainly a promising catapult.
Living, rehearsing and recording amidst Tottenham’s bustling warehouse community. Musical-outlet World News have clear intentions of becoming an indie band on the rise. With latest single ‘Lend Me Your Brain’ pairing hooking basslines to rhythmic jangled guitars. Low-pitched vocal purrs provide the final ingredient, to create a sound that is blisteringly direct.
There is no denying that this band know exactly what they want, and there is a sense of certainty that they will soon achieve it. With such a bold style rooted to their music. We can feel the soul of its very core. Notes of nostalgia hum from lead vocalist Alex Evans, particularly in the subtle understatement to his voice, remnant of years gone by. While smooth basslines glide in close comparison to The National. Faster-paced segments hone the slightly unhinged approach of main inspiration, Squid. With just enough lo-fi distortion creating character, World News may have a sound that is direct, but it is far from monotonous.
Subtle tempo changes and moving rhythmic pitches, allow the track means of flow and direction. Matching in tempo, to its lyrics. Written during the breakdown of a relationship, ‘Lend Me Your Brain’ explores peaks and troughs of anxieties as they bubble away, whilst coincidingly battling painstaking doubt, and a reckless abandonment of one’s own self. Yet all the while, remaining eerily grounded. As the music flows, so do thoughts, feelings and emotions. Brushing against the grind of daily life. The bass rumbles on like the rattle of the underground tube, vocals simmer like the swirls of fumes that clog the air. Condensed in sound, as though packed into the claustrophobic warehouse confinements. Lyrics are brought to life by their music.
It is these pops of sheer genius, that set World News apart from anyone else. Runaway brooding segments, in which the bass takes over and rampages throughout the track, like an emotional train wreck. Vocal drones that demand attention, like a jilted lover needing to be heard. World News are taking control of their sound and style with brilliant assurance. As Debut EP ‘Job and Money’ is set for release on 18th September. Dominating the indie genre, is surely next on their agenda.
‘Lend Me Your Brain’ is available to stream on Soundcloud now
Streaming on Spotify from 18th September, along with their Debut EP ‘Job and Money’
Sultry and slow burning. Delve into the intoxicating confessions of Vienna-based musician Fleming, through latest single Guilt and Pleasure. Led by a seductive blend of electronic percussion, mixed by Grammy nominated producer ill Factor. Slinky piano keys glide against drawn-out guitars, to brood among ambient atmospheric vocal pitches. There is an undeniable sleek, professionalism present. So authoritative and impactful, we are swept off our feet.
Exploring the experience of a simultaneously playful and powerful relationship. Guilt and Pleasure mirrors its musical intensities, as exquisitely as its lyrical prowess. By style and sound, we are captivated within this rousing contemporary track. Submerging soft R&B with soulful, modern blues. Fleming exudes energy similar to the late-great Prince, with a slant in sound towards Childish Gambino or Steve Lacy.
Guilt and Pleasure is a soundscape that fizzes with a passionate, eloquent vibrance. Lyrically entangled in the reckless lust of youth, yet rooted in nostalgic 1970s notes. Fleming chimes “Just take me back to the hotel room, and let me love you” as lyrics swathe against a gorgeous, simmering retro-authenticity. Swaddled are woozy synths, with hazy distorted vocals. Adding considerable body and depth to a track that consciously balances the chaotic current day, with a homage to decades and genres past.
Dark romantic notions linger, as though Fleming is hunting the forbidden source of his desire. Under late-night hazy skies, that merge with crowded smoke-filled rooms. Wine glasses gleam under golden spotlights, where stolen glances are exchanged. Guilt and Pleasure teases at sentiment and hooks our attention. Certain are its demands that Fleming is one to watch, with a tender yet mischievous nature.
Exuding intoxicating charm, woozy emotion, and a dose of witty humour. Be prepared to swoon over latest EP Madhouse from Matt Maltese. Dreary everyday notions and nostalgic thoughts combine to create the most exquisite music, when paired with the sombre song-writing capabilities of this enchanting musician. Oozing an array of delectably smooth tracks, Madhouse hones notes of jazz, indie and Maltese’s classic bedroom DIY style.
From the dizzying romantic highs of Queen Bee to the agonising lows of Sad Dream. Maltese remains the reigning king of hearts, and if this recent vocal rendezvous is anything to go by, his reign is unlikely to end anytime soon. With eclectic yearn, Madhouse culminates to linger amongst late-night lovers and that sultry summer moonlight.
Breathing a new lease of life into music reminiscent of the past. Maltese’s modern musings schmooze against slinky piano keys and lo-fi tones, with fizzes of seventies pop for good measure. Vocals are crisp and effortless, and from a purposefully lounging lacklustre delivery emerges nothing shy of perfection, within these soft yet stirring songs. Met with the warmth of backing vocals from Asha Lorenz(Sorry) and guitars by Brian D’Addario(The Lemon Twigs).
2020 has become a completely different year to what we expected, when it began in January. Plans were in place, and headliners were being confirmed for major UK festivals such as Glastonbury, and Reading and Leeds. With the outbreak of Coronavirus in March affecting the world as we know it, of course festivals made the sensible decision to pull the plug following government guidelines to abolish mass gatherings. Musicians and concert venues alike began to cancel shows, and live music as we knew it, ceased to exist.
With no live performances likely to take place until at least August or September, and even that remaining dubious for the time being, with the UK having remained in a form of lockdown since late March. Due to flurrying anxieties that were swirling regarding the global pandemic, the future of healthcare resources, our economies and the survival of many local businesses. With lockdown looming over us, we as individuals had no choice but to adapt to the strange changes in our existence. Despite all of this taking its toll, we continued to progress, and all hope for live music was not lost.
It wasn’t long before musicians, being the natural creatives and entertainers that they are, came up with an innovative way to still engage with their audiences and bring joy by providing a heartfelt distraction. Thus, what was an occasional treat for fans, such as a livestream Q&A, or an intimate at home gig, became the norm. Almost every artist I can put my mind to, has now hosted a live stream session on a social media platform of some form. Music fans are rejoicing, and the trend is really skyrocketing at a time when live music feels so lost to us all, and we feel so lost ourselves.
By musicians hosting their own live stream gigs, and so many thousands of fans tuning in. It wasn’t long before blogs, music publications and websites began tapping into this, and the livestream festival was born. Often spanning over the course of a weekend, Livestream Festivals such as DIY Magazine’s DIYsolation Festival, or more recently Dork’sHomeschool Festival, have given a platform to hundreds of emerging indie and alternative artists. Bills have included the likes of rising Welsh band Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Manchester’s Phoebe Green, Brighton-based Porridge Radio and Cambridge’s Cavetown.
Livestream Festivals such as DIY’s DIYsolation Festival, or more recently Dork’sHomeschool Festival, have given a platform to hundreds of emerging indie and alternative artists.
With these festivals doing so well for emerging artists, whilst also helping contribute donations to our NHS and key workers. The phenomenon is only growing. Why would this not be something huge stars would want to be a part of too? It’s left me wondering, with summer soon arriving and major festivals not set to go ahead, will we be watching our Glastonbury Headliners via a livestream performance instead?
Just imagine the help and funding, events on this scale, could provide for research charities, food banks, the NHS, and many more. It would be groundbreaking.
If UK festivals opted for a not for profit approach, as so many magazines and music websites have already done successfully. Just imagine the help and funding, events on this scale, could provide for research charities, food banks, the NHS, and many more. It would be groundbreaking. With live streams becoming such a popular form of entertainment, surely this could be an idea worth investing in?
There would be obvious hurdles and festival organisers would have to treat those who had bought tickets to the physical festivals with care and consideration, however if refunds are already issued for festivals not going ahead this year, or if ticket-holders are offered a place for next years festival instead. If live streams were billed as taking place and shared with us all, surely that would be an amazing uplifting experience for everyone.
Major festivals would have the social media knowledge, marketing tools and funding to hopefully deliver a polished and professional livestream experience. Drawing on inspiration from those festivals I have mentioned previously, created by music magazines DIY and Dork. Both festivals to the viewing eye ran without so much as hiccup. Granted I do not know what had gone on behind the scenes, but I avidly watched both and they were fantastic. DIY chose Instagram as their provider, and acts had hour long slots on Instagram live to perform. Dork continue to host their festival on their own website, instead opting to harness a mixture of live and recently pre-recorded content, to showcase acts over a number of different stages with varying slot times. As well as performances, both festivals also had different angles such as artist radio shows, story telling, comedy and so on. This worked wonderfully well for both events, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed. Very generously the publications also donated all funds raised to charity or the NHS.
Let’s hope I’ve predicted the next big thing here, and this is already something the likes of Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Download and many more are keenly looking into. Imagine the varying genres each could offer, the donations just one festival alone could drum up. Live streams are proving to be immensely popular and personally I feel it would be a trend our innovative and ever-changing festivals could certainly build into something stratospheric .
Musicians are providing us with an intimate live performance, from their home to ours.
Whilst the world is in lockdown, it may seem as though gigs and live music are a distant memory for many of us. However, even in these strange times, there is one shining beacon that is continuing to bring joy to music lovers, and it is a phenomenon that is sweeping across the music scene.
Live stream sessions, are becoming increasingly popular, with hundreds if not thousands tuning in to watch their favourite artists performing on social media platforms, such as Instagram.
Musicians are providing us with an intimate live performance, from their home to ours. We are given possibly the closest insight into their lives, that we may ever have. Combined with the fact that these performances are so beautifully DIY, there is just something so raw and real about them, that makes them wonderfully special.
We see first-hand those little swirls of nervousness, chit-chat with fans, nods to watching family members, stumbles in their performances and laughter. The songs we love are stripped back to their bones, often we can be gifted to an acoustic rendition we may never have heard before. Personally, I feel as though we’re experiencing music in what could be its purest form. It is as though we are hearing the songs we love, in their original demo format, and there is just something so blissfully rewarding about that.
Even though these shows are being brought to us over our phone, tablet, or laptop screens. So far, I have yet to notice any terribly bad sound quality or severe lagging issues. I guess it is a little nod to how good our modern-day technology really is; often taken for granted, but it is in times like these we realise how important it is.
During a period of isolation, live stream gigs are creating a sense of togetherness. Music fans are interacting over live chats, sharing their favourite songs, moments, and memories together. All whilst enjoying a unique performance from their favourite musicians.
Album Listening Parties, Social Media Account Take-Overs, Q&As… the list goes on. It is remarkable how many wonderful, innovative ways we as humans are finding, to enable us to still hold on to that sense of community we share, by continuing to discover and create.
Their existence is bringing so much joy and happiness to our new found world, whilst also helping to combat those feelings of loneliness that many are incurring. High praise is certainly deserving to the artists contributing. Despite this being a period which will certainly go down in the history books as something terrible, in an obscure way it is also helping me to see how much goodness there really is in this world, solely from our overwhelming love for one another and that sense of community we still strongly share, even though we’re apart.
What better way to relax and unwind, than putting your feet up and watching a good film?
Seeming as we’re all music lovers here, I thought I’d compile a Music Film Guide for you all.
Here are 5 films about bands and musicians, that I think are definitely worth watching.
1. The Dirt
A must see for anyone who loves rock and roll. The Dirt is based on notorious 80s rock icons Mötley Crüe, and their rise to fame from then until the present day. The film is centred around the highs and lows of their music career, and their personal lives. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion from start to finish but is definitely worth watching. I’ve seen this film countless times now and it just gets better with every watch. It’s gritty and raw which doesn’t always make for easy viewing, but it shows Mötley Crüe in all their glory, providing one hell of a story. Through The Dirt, we experience the incredible times they’ve shared together and it feels like you’re right there with them. The actors are superbly alike to Mötley Crüe themselves which makes The Dirt even more fantastic to watch.
Supersonic is a rockumentary film that takes us on the journey of Oasis’ immense rise to fame. It is incredibly interesting to watch. The whole concept is so well put together, I really got lost within it from start to finish. Supersonic is constructed beautifully through series of recorded footage and pictures dating back to the bands conception, which take us down the winding path of Oasis’ memory lane, with all of the twists and turns along the way making it a bumpy ride. We witness never before seen interviews and backstage footage which come together to create a remarkable picture of Oasis from the very beginning until now. I found this documentary film an absolute joy to watch, I learnt so much about Oasis and it gave me a far deeper insight than I’ve ever had before. This is definitely worth watching even if you’ve only heard the classic songs, as you’ll discover so much more about their personalities and their story.
3. Bohemian Rhapsody
This film is incredible. If you love the band Queen, or even if you don’t, then you still need to watch Bohemian Rhapsody. It is one of the most moving, powerful pieces of screenplay that I have ever seen, and captures front-man Freddie Mercury’s life exquisitely well. The actors that portray each member of Queen bear such an uncanny resemblance to them in real life. In particular the actor who plays Brian May looks so alike to him, that it led me to think they could actually be related. Everything about this film is phenomenal. It tells the story of how Queen became the band we know and love today, and follows their journey from formation to stardom, and the infamous Live Aid Concert. All whilst showing us glimpses of what we didn’t see before in their personal lives, which provides a fascinating insight into their existence, behind all of the fame. Bohemian Rhapsody is a glorious tribute to and celebration of Freddie Mercury’s life. Captured forever through film, which can be cherished for generations to come.
4. Rocket Man
Rocket Man soars into the stars, showing us the immense rise to fame of musician Elton John. I will warn you, the start of this film is VERY cheesy, as it follows the setup of any cliché musical, but please stick with it. I promise you, the film blooms to become something that will shake you to your very core as the story unfolds. Through a fantastic portrayal by actor Taron Egerton, Elton John allows us the privilege of an incredible look back at his life from childhood onwards. Rocket Man is a fiercely brave and bold film, that hides no aspect of the stars personality. Through Rocket Man, Elton John bares his all with us; from family quarrels, to his battles with substance abuse, and his private love life. The film is truthful and intriguing, and overall fascinating to watch. A celebration of his wonderful career, and life.
5. A Star Is Born
I know this film isn’t technically related to a real-life band or musician, but it does feature the incredible acting and vocal talent of Lady Gaga which I think is good enough to count. Although A Star is Born is fictitious, the story and message it conveys about the music industry is staggering. Particularly the pressures which artists can face. I would urge anyone who has a passion and love for music to watch this film, it embodies both dreams and nightmares that are very real within the industry. Asides from this, the story is also wonderful and romantic. A Star is Born follows the rise of Allie (Lady Gaga) to stardom after she meets a famous musician (Bradley Cooper) by chance, at a bar she sings in. The film features original songs performed by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (who knew he could sing?) that are brilliant and the soundtrack to this film is amazing on its own. I adore A Star is Born, and could watch it over and over again, and never tire of it! I’d love to know what you think!
I hope you enjoy watching my film suggestions above. All of them are available for you to stream online!
Make sure to eat plenty of popcorn, and escape into another world, just for a little while.
Let me know if you adore any of the films I’ve mentioned, or if you have any music film suggestions for me, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I always love having new films to watch, especially if they’re about a band or musician.
A fresh burst of talent, Dan Burridge, is a young indie sensation and I absolutely adore his sound . He has a very distinct tone to his voice that you won’t be able to get enough of. I feel there is something unique about it that quickly sets him apart from others. I can picture him wrapped around a microphone, balancing off the edge of a stage, with a euphoric energy. Think an early edgy Alex Turner meets the indie pop-fizz of the likes of Declan McKenna. I have a strong inkling this guy will bring so much joy to a music hungry crowd.
‘Just Fooling Around’ is a single that will shake you up and make you feel good again. It possesses everything a great indie track should. A shredding guitar riff, a punchy bass, and a superb vocalist. I cannot big Dan’s vocals up enough on this track. Asides from that though, the instrumental backing to this song sounds tremendous, and it’s made me think that as well as being a solo artist, Dan could also slot perfectly into the role of front man in an indie-rock band if he so wished.
Previously Dan has gigged around South Wales playing acoustic sets, so ‘Just Fooling Around’ is our first taste of hearing him performing with a full band incorporated into the mix. Personally, I feel it suits him exceptionally well. Having that extra flair and spark to the music really drives not only his vocals, but his whole unique sound and style forward, and defines his music fantastically. I’ll be very interested to see how Dan develops musically, and would say he’s certainly a growing artist we should all keep in mind.
Many people have asked me, “How do you discover all of these new bands?” Well, here is one is my little helpers.
There are many streaming platforms out there; Spotify, Soundcloud, Amazon Music and Deezer to name a selection, all of which have different takes on offering music to listeners. For me though, one of Spotify’s newest features has proven to be wonderful in discovering new music. Spotify Radio.
Admittedly a feature that initially irritated me, Spotify Radio will continue playing songs when you reach the end of the album or playlist that you were listening to. In place of the artist, Spotify will then play you related artists, or songs from the same or a similar genre. This feature first irritated me when I was driving. Due to my cars Bluetooth limitations, I wasn’t able to change the music using my car’s sound screen. I wanted to continue listening to the artist I had chosen. However, the radio feature doesn’t allow you to go back, and by skipping I was just delving further into Spotify’s chosen station.
As I was driving I eventually relented my skipping frenzy, and carried on my journey with the Spotify radio playing. To my surprise, when I actually listened, it turned out that Spotify new my tastes pretty well. Although I hadn’t heard the artists before, the songs I was listening to caught my attention. As soon as I was home and my car was safely parked, I quickly added them to my ‘liked songs’. The radio feature had me hooked.
I have since discovered so many new bands and breakout acts in the indie genre this way. The Howl & The Hum, Black Honey and The Rifles to name a few. I’m sure many of you, as I’ll admit I used to, will quickly grab your phone and turn off the Spotify radio feature as soon as it interrupts your listening and plays an unfamiliar artist. I must stress though, give this feature a chance. I know we’re all creatures of habit, but if you’re a music lover and want to discover new music, which I’m sure you do. Asides from going to gigs all the time, this feature can be extremely helpful in broadening your music horizons, without even having to leave the comfort of your home (or car). If you are listening to an artist for example, Spotify will also sprinkle in a few of their songs too, as the radio playing will be ‘Artist’s Radio’ or ‘Playlist’s Radio’. I know Spotify isn’t loved by some artists and bands that despair at its algorithms and rising power in the music industry, but from my small corner of the world I will be honest and say I am lover of the app. I’ve been using it since 2010, having tried both the free and premium plan. I’ll admit it’s a modern app that I cannot live without.
Spotify allows you access to millions of artists and has thousands of playlists on any genre you can think of. The app is fantastic for listening to almost any song you could possibly wish for. The platform is very user friendly and doesn’t cost a fortune either. By listening through Spotify, you have the ability to listen to songs without the commitment of having to buy an album or vinyl. If you hear an artist on Spotify and you end up loving them, then of course you will support them by buying their material and attending their gigs. As a try before you buy option though, I think Spotify really is the champion.
Next time you’re listening to your favourite album on Spotify, and the radio plays after it. Don’t skip it. You might be surprised by the amazing new music you discover.
Many of you I’m sure will be wondering why a certain someone wasn’t included in my recent blog post ‘5 of my Favourite Gigs From 2019’. Well, this is because I felt she was worthy of a post dedicated just to her. Phoebe Green is an artist that I personally adore, but asides from my love for her, there is no denying that she has quickly become a rising icon these past 12 months. Absolutely storming 2019 in the process. With a signing to Chess Club Records, 2 new singles, and a string of live shows under her belt. Phoebe Green has certainly made a name for herself. I wanted to celebrate this hugely successful year of hers and explain why Phoebe has taken the crown for 2019 in my eyes, and I’m sure many others’ too.
I’d like to introduce Phoebe Green as an incredibly talented singer and songwriter. Phoebe writes her material herself, and her songs are a reflection of her own existence. This open window into her life, is something to be treasured. A very honest and brave lyricist, who does not hide behind a persona on stage. What you see when Phoebe performs is raw and real, and for me this makes her very special. From a young age, Phoebe has been passionate about music, and this is shown in her lyrics, that reflect as much colour and character as her name and personality. Originally hailing from the small seaside town of Lytham, Phoebe has since moved to follow her music aspirations and is now based in Manchester.
2019 has seen Phoebe take on supporting tours with the likes of Sundara Karma and Swim Deep, and most recently play an arena show with The Courteeners in Manchester. Earlier this year, Phoebe also had her very own headline tour in collaboration with ‘Get it Loud in Libraries’. An organisation that takes the quiet element out of libraries and instead fills them with music of all genres, in locations across the UK. As a result, this meant that Phoebe’s first tour was set to be so incredibly unique. Of course, I was first in the queue to get tickets to attend one of the shows, with the closest to me being Coventry. Asides from Coventry, Phoebe also played at libraries in Huddersfield and Liverpool this past summer. From what I saw; a smaller venue, with a dedicated crowd of fans, allowed Phoebe to shine exquisitely on stage. If I’m being honest, it wouldn’t even be fair to label the shows as being gigs, in my opinion the performances and atmosphere were far more intricate and intimate than that.
In Coventry Central Library, the stage was nestled in amongst the book shelves. It couldn’t have been anymore perfect, and it suited Phoebe so well. I don’t think I stopped beaming from the moment I arrived.
The first band to take to the stage were Porridge Radio. I’d never seen them before, but as soon as their set started I was captivated. Lead singer Dana has an incredible voice. I remember being completely fascinated by her sound and style. The songs they performed were gorgeous. Thanks to this gig I became a huge fan of Porridge Radio. I’ve recently written about them in more detail, congratulating them on their signing with Secretly Canadian Records.
Phoebe’s entrance to the stage was reserved, but beautiful. The room was so quiet you couldn’t hear a pin drop, and in that moment I felt for her. You could see that it wasn’t necessarily nervousness, but more a process of adaptation that was taking place. When you’re used to singing in front of a rowdy crowd that are fuelled on beer, to then be placed in front of people who are all patiently waiting in a library just to listen you. As Phoebe admitted herself, it was a change. Certainly not the environment she is used to performing in, as I’m sure would be the case for many other bands and artists.
As Phoebe began her set and the words of ‘Maniac’ began to echo around the room, you could see any hesitations she may have had melt away for her, as she relaxed into her surroundings. Needless to say, her performance was completely mesmerising. Phoebe has such a talent for song writing, and coupled with her incredibly beautiful vocals, this makes for a sublime pairing. A slight presence, that blooms in song. Phoebe Green is a flower bud, that bursts into life under the sunshine of the spotlight. She is wonderous to hear and behold. I’m not ashamed to say that Phoebe’s music has accompanied me through some of my loneliest, sleepless nights. Her songs have been there for me when I’ve cried, when I’ve overthought situations, and when I’ve simply needed something to listen to. So, to see Phoebe performing on stage, merely metres away from me, was very surreal. Phoebe’s set that evening was better than I could have imagined, and I felt so emotional during and after her performance. It was overwhelming in the best way possible.
To explain a little more about Phoebe’s music itself. Her self-released album 02:00am is gorgeous, and the lyrical content is haunting. It will reverberate with anyone who has ever been hurt or has longed for love. Vocally, most of her songs on this album are delicate to begin with, but the choruses are so powerful. Her songs transfix listeners with lyrics that speak of the frailty of the heart and mind. Encased in Phoebe’s soft vocals are subject matters that are certainly not delicate, but instead incredibly real, and piercing as a result of this. Phoebe sings of hurt, deceit, lust and love. For example, on the opening track of that night ‘Maniac’, Phoebe does not shy away from how weak we can be made to feel when blindingly in love with the wrong person. In contrast ‘Watercolour Envy’ speaks of a woman scorned, and shows beautifully, just how powerfully we can react when wronged by those we hold dearest, especially when infidelity is involved. The sheer raw emotion conveyed in Phoebe’s songs showcase her talents incredibly well. After listening to this album in full, it may come as a surprise that Phoebe had written these songs at just 16 years of age.
I know that Phoebe will openly admit she is embarrassed by the content of this album now, from having written the lyrics at a young age. However, despite her uncertainty, I’d like to assure her that for any listener, her songs will always be so relatable and poignant. Although, I can understand why she does feel detached from them. I know if I too were to look back on past relationships, and in turn old feelings that were inscribed within song lyrics, I’m sure I would also suffer embarrassment. Still it needs to be said, Phoebe as an outsider looking in, your lyrics are stunning. 02:00am should always be an album that is celebrated and loved.
Phoebe Green made her long-awaited return to music in March of this year. Prior to this, 02:00am was released in 2016. Her long hiatus from recording music has certainly helped her to grow, with ‘Dreaming Of’ clearly reflecting this. A stand-out, stand up for yourself ballad; ‘Dreaming Of’ lyricises a strong, independent woman who refuses to be put down, and aims to break free from her relationship and escape from a condescending partner. Phoebe projects so beautifully the betrayal that so many of us face, when we come to the realisation that we are in an unloving relationship, which we certainly do not deserve to be in. I’m so pleased to say that the passionate delivery of this new debut single gained Phoebe instant recognition. Clash Music and Pitchfork had both written stunning articles on Phoebe’s success by the end of April, and later in the year Phoebe had an interview with music heavyweights NME.
Phoebe’s new single came hand in hand with her signing to Chess Club Records, who clearly saw her talent and ran with it. Chess Club Records are a well-established name in the music industry, currently home to indie superstars Sundara Karma and Billie Marten. Chess Club also initially started the careers of giants Mumford & Sons, who put out their first EP with the label. This shows the sheer scale of what they see in Phoebe.
As I mentioned earlier, this year really has been the making of Phoebe Green. Being signed with such an expansive label as Chess Club has opened many doors for her, all of which she has gladly walked through. Many supporting and headline tours have kept her schedule busy, along with various festival appearances. Before finally closing the year playing an arena show with The Courteeners, which is certainly not an achievement to be taken lightly. However, Phoebe has remained modest throughout it all. Undoubtedly, one of the nicest people you could meet, Phoebe is so friendly and is genuinely such a kind-hearted person. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the pleasure of meeting her twice now. Initially following the gig in Coventry, I was over the moon to be able to speak to her, and more recently when she toured with Swim Deep at The Globe in Cardiff. Phoebe makes time for her fans and is so appreciative of everyone who speaks to her, and it’s these little sparks in her nature, that make her so wonderful. When I spoke to Phoebe after her set in Cardiff, she remembered when we spoke in Coventry. As a fan, that was so lovely and meant a lot to me. It proved to me that her fans obviously mean as much to her, as she does to us. Despite her clear musical talent, the lovely person that she is makes her all the more special.
I cannot wait for Phoebe to release her new album. As well as ‘Dreaming Of’ and her newest single ‘Easy Peeler’, which is equally as incredible and powerful in it’s emotional depth. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Phoebe perform two other new unreleased songs live. One I believe is called ‘A Song For Alex’ and the other is called ‘Double Vodka Lemonade’, which is my favourite. As soon as the album is released, it is without doubt that I will find myself writing about Phoebe again. But for now, I must congratulate Phoebe on the immense success that 2019 has brought her. It has been such a brilliant year for her, and she should be so proud of everything she has achieved.
I’m sure that 2020 will bring her even more happiness and success.
I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to read my writing, and for appreciating the incredible bands and artists whom I write about. I wish you all lots of love, happiness and more wonderful music in 2020.
This album was released on Christmas Day. Before this, it was kept a total secret. There were none of the usual pre-album single releases, or marketing strategies to prepare us. We weren’t aware this was happening, until the tweet came through on the bands page and the album was available to stream online. What a present it was.
The surprise element sent fans into melt down, and there was no denying the buzz around this album. So many questions teemed about it from not only fans, but names in the music industry too I’m sure. The release was a completely wonderful surprise. As it was Christmas Day though, I struggled to find a moments peace to listen to the album in full. On Boxing Day morning, I seized my chance. I listened to the album in its entirety, twice for good measure. My first impression? Honestly, it’s just stunning.
This new album has stripped Blaenavon back to their roots entirely. Recorded mainly just using a piano and an acoustic guitar. It consists of pure, raw, emotional lyrics that encapsulate singer Ben’s struggle with anxiety and depression. The album speaks of pain and hurt, but also of recovery and redemption. It’s a stunning vocal outlet of emotion and feeling, gift wrapped in gorgeous piano playing and acoustic melodies.
Stand out favourites for me are ‘Michael’, ‘slow down, cyclist’ and ‘write it down’. I just love how real and simply recorded these songs are. I don’t think I can gush about this album more. The way they’ve left dialogue in from where they’ve conducted the recording session, the emotional conversations, the odd bursts of laughter. It doesn’t appear to me that there were any forced retakes, any attempts at utter perfection. This album is perfect simply as it is. Blaenavon. Ben. Honestly this album is a masterpiece, and you should be very, very proud of it.
The songs are extremely touching and truthful. Whether there is intense meaning behind them, or whether they are simply the produce of a recording whim on the spot. The fact they leave the listener guessing and to draw on their own conclusions is magical in itself. For me, this album isn’t one that necessary needs to be understood and dissected lyric for lyric, as I have seen people calling for. It just needs to be listened to. It’s beautiful.
“What happens when you listen to one version of something so much that when it’s properly recorded it’s difficult to accept.”
Well Christmas is almost upon us, and the end of the year is in sight. The festive season is often a period of reflection for many of us. For me, this means an opportunity to look back on all of the amazing gigs I’ve had the pleasure of attending in 2019. Live music is a big part of my life. A couple of years ago I made a promise with myself not to miss out on gigs I wanted to go to. I started going to more gigs in local venues, and it has honestly been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve gotten to know so many new bands, and discovered some incredible music, along with meeting the loveliest people.
I thought I’d share with you, 5 of my favourite gigs from the past year.
Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres – Sin City, Swansea, February 2019.
Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres are a fantastically talented band of musicians, that perform blissfully well together. They really are a must-see. Their origins as a band derive from playing together during a string of festivals. At which time they whipped up a frenzy with fresh, exciting music, and firmly squashed rumours that they were merely a side project for Peter Doherty.
In February of this year, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to see them for myself. In typical fashion, the gig was running late, door staff had informed me. Peter was out walking his dogs along the Swansea coastline at sunset, and who could blame him? It is beautiful. Once we were allowed in, I remember being puzzled for a second, as the band were already on stage. It took a moment for me to realise what was going on, and then I noticed Peter moving amps around and Jack tuning his guitar – it was soundcheck. They’d let us walk in on soundcheck. It was such an amazing experience. You could see the band were enjoying the unexpected early attention. With the gig being in the heart of Swansea, it gave Trampolene front man (AKA Puta Madres guitarist) Jack Jones, the opportunity to play up to a home crowd, reciting one of his most popular poems ‘Pound Land’. Pete also treated us to a few chords from beloved Libertines tunes, that really got the crowd going. There was no doubt in my mind then that this was going to be something extraordinary.
When the band came back on for their main performance, it was wonderful to see how chaotically perfect they were together. Resembling a gypsy punk-band, The Puta Madres are a spectacular sight to behold. As their debut single ‘Who’s Been Having You Over’ blared out to the crowd. Keyboard player Katia was a stunning free-spirit on stage. Drummer Rafa was the best kind of crazy. Needless to say, if you have read my previous posts you will know the adoration I have for guitarist Jack. Violinist Miki was kind and gentle amongst the madness. Bass player Miggles was more sensible on stage, but was wonderfully close to them all. I got the impression The Puta Madres are a band of friends, a band of lovers even. They have an adoring relationship with each other, and this is reflected beautifully in their stage performance.
The band sang and laughed, engaging with the boisterous crowd throughout the night. To hold on to my barrier position was hard, but by God there was no way I was giving that up. They introduced us to new single ‘Paradise is Under Your Nose’ and other soon to be album tracks. As well as performing hits from The Libertines and Babyshambles. As a treat for Jack’s birthday, Pete also gave him a moment on the microphone where he performed a stunning song ‘Lighter than Paper’, that is still yet to be released.
Honestly, I cannot explain to you just how much I enjoyed this gig. It was different, it was wild. I cannot recommend The Puta Madres enough.
This is The Kit – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, August 2019.
This gig was a real standout for me, because believe it or not, before that night I’d never heard a single song of theirs. I went to see This is The Kit with someone who adores them, in Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, and I decided to treat myself to the rare experience of hearing a band for the first time on stage. No spotify binging desperately trying to learn lyrics, no frantic searches for past set-lists. I just wanted to enjoy seeing them fresh in front of my eyes.
Honestly, the performance was sublime. Kate Stables, singer and founder of the band has an exquisite voice that really shone under the spotlight the night I saw them. Speaking openly, I’d say I was transfixed for most of that evening. Without questioning her vocal talent, she is also a wonderfully gifted songwriter. The lyrics in her songs are beautiful, and work stunningly well when placed against her voice, and the soft soothing playing of her instruments, whether it be the guitar or banjo. I remember being lost in songs such as ‘Bullet Proof’ and ‘Solid Grease’. I was frantically asking the person next to me as soon as they would finish, “What is this song called?” I went into the gig with an open mind, and it was sublimely rewarding. I was met with a beautiful band, in which all members are gloriously talented. Aside from Kate Stables, other band members such as Rozi Plain, are vocally talented in their own rights. Rozi has a growing solo-career ahead of her too, having recently played Cardiff’s Sŵn festival, amongst other locations.
You can clearly see during a This is The Kit gig, how in love with them their fans are. They have a niche cult following, that I’d guess they have acquired from dedicated festival going. This band can silence a room with their purely gorgeous soft songs, and in the next breath make them dance and sing with fan favourites such as ‘Moonshine Freeze’. All of which I had the glory of beholding for the first time. I watched how adored they were by those that knew them, and I too was captivated.
Now, I cannot even begin to tell you how desperate I am to see this band again.
This is The Kit are a gem certainly not to be missed.
The Amazons – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, February 2019.
Before I begin, I just have to say that this gig really was something special. I’d only managed to find out about it a few days before. The Amazons weren’t playing at many venues and had kept their announcements rather low-key. Probably because they were channelling much of their energy into the new album, but being as dedicated to music as they are, of course they wanted to treat us to a ‘little something’ before the release. I remember frantically searching to see if any tickets were still available, and to my relief, thankfully there were. I was so excited. Especially as I knew the venue was smaller, which makes all the difference. Although, of course I do go and see bands in larger venues, I much prefer a smaller gig, as the band are not lost on the stage and lighting. They are there, right in front of you. No huge barrier gap, no security guards in your way. It’s just you and the band. I think that was what I enjoyed most about that night. The atmosphere was just so intimate. To have the honour of seeing a successful band like The Amazons on a stage at my level, not high in the sky. It was fantastic. Honestly, if you go and see any band you love in Clwb, trust me when I say you will not be disappointed, but The Amazons really took the roof off the place!
I remember the night vividly, the room was awash with dedicated fans, all eagerly waiting for the band to take the stage. On a cold February night, the turnout was brilliant, and it was so great to see. It had been a couple of years since the release of their debut self-entitled album, and at this point in time, us fans had only been graced with new album Future Dust’s first single ‘Mother’. With the new album due in May, anticipation lingered strongly amongst the crowd. We were all anxiously waiting, desperate to hear any new material, and of course the classic tunes that we all knew and loved. The Amazon’s certainly obliged our request, by scattering new songs amongst our favourites. Us fans rejoiced. Any Amazon’s gig would be fantastic, but it really felt exclusive to see them playing in the small but mighty venue that is Clwb. We hung off every word that fell from Matthew’s mouth. Lyrics were sang adoringly back to the band, and they revelled in it. The room was alive, Clwb was alive.
Everyone was there for one reason, to witness the sheer amazing power of The Amazons.
They certainly delivered this, and more.
I remember the ending of this gig was phenomenal. Having kept us waiting, craving throughout the entire setlist. We were hit with it. ‘Junkfood Forever’. Mine, and I’m sure many others, favourite Amazons song. It was fantastic. The room completely blew up, and I’d say going to this gig was worth it just for this song if nothing else. That’s how good it was.
The All-Dayer (Headlined by Matt Maltese) – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, November 2019.
This all day gig was a real treat. Starting earlier than usual, it was a jam-packed line up born from a collaboration between Council Records and So Young Magazine. Bands including Rosehip Teahouse, Drug Store Romeos, Talk Show and Happyness took to the stage. Headlining last but not least of course was the king of wounded lovers, Matt Maltese.
The first band I saw that evening, Rosehip Teahouse, are a wonder to behold on stage, their performances are beautiful every time, and this gig was certainly no different. Personally, I find them so endearing as a fresh, new band that I’ve written about them in more depth in my post on 10 Emerging Welsh Bands.
Drug Store Romeos were a new band on me, but their sound was so unique and different to anything I had heard before. To put it simply, they were nothing short of mesmerising. Lead single ‘Now You’re Moving’ was stunning, and Sarah was fascinating to watch perform, with her ability to sing and play piano, all whilst dancing and engaging with the crowd at the same time.
Despite this gig having a lengthy line-up, the intervals between each band were kept short and concise. I think this is what made everything run so smoothly, the gig was constantly moving, and there was never a point at which the evening lost momentum. In the intervals where bands were not on stage, I could see it was a fantastic opportunity for networking. Event organisers and representatives from the magazine and label mingled in with the crowd of fans, and band members who were also watching each others’ set. People were chatting, and getting to know each other. It really seemed as though there was a community spirit here, and that this was something more than a gig. Something rather special, I’d say.
The next band to take the stage were Talk Show. The lights were completely dimmed, and it was at that moment I felt the atmosphere change. I could see lead singer Harrison limbering himself up to take to the microphone, as if preparing for an exorcism. Holy hell did the devil take hold. Trust me when I say, I was blown away. Talk Show switched the night up in seconds, turning it into an eery, energy-filled punk show. Honestly, this band ripped my heart out of chest and stuffed it back in again with their music. Possessing a real “hold on for your life” feeling. They dominated that stage, and their performance. Talk Show hail from South London, and are similar in style to Slaves or Idles, but with more of a frightening twist to their lyrics and sound, that makes them so much better.
I wasn’t sure where the night was going to go after this, as Talk Show were so different to what I was expecting, given the style of previous bands and the subsequent headliner to come, Matt Maltese. I think that was the reason why, unfortunately the next band Happyness didn’t do it for me after that. I can understand how the mood needed to be changed, due to the complete contrast between Talk Show and Matt Maltese, but for me Happyness just didn’t work here. I hate to review anything negatively, and this is not a reflection on them as a band at all, as I could see how their sound was fun, and catchy, but it was just not right for this segment of the line-up I’m afraid. This is just my personal taste though; the crowd seemed to love them.
Last in the line-up was Matt Maltese. I absolutely adore this man and his music. I discovered him following the release of his single ‘Greatest Comedian’. Matt’s album ‘Bad Contestant’, dominated my summer last year and was mostly all I listened to for the remainder of 2018 if I’m being honest. On vinyl, it is an absolute masterpiece. Matt was at the top of my lists for artists I needed to see, so I was beyond delighted when I realised he was coming to headline this all-day gig in Cardiff.
Matt’s music is very close to my heart, so to say I was excited would be a sincere understatement. His music means so much to me, to describe how I felt waiting for him to come on stage, well I’d say I felt emotional more than anything else. I’d played his vinyl over and over, I’d cried, I’d laughed. Matt felt like more of a companion to me than a musician. So, to be faced with the fact that any moment now he was going to be performing the songs I adored so much, merely inches away from me, it was completely overwhelming but utterly blissful. It is an unreal sensation, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with, when you know you’re going to be in the same room with someone whose music honesty means that much to you. It could have accompanied you through the happiest or the saddest times in your life. I think this highlights why I feel so passionately about the live music scene. These artists are there for us when we could be completely alone, and to then be able to see them and treasure their songs and the memories attached to them in our own lives, is stunningly beautiful. This is what musicians need to hold on to and cherish about their fanbases.
Matt’s setlist that night was utterly gorgeous. To be able to watch him play piano and sing, so closely. Honestly it took my breath away. Matt played songs from ‘Bad Contestant’ including the incredible ‘Like a Fish’, and mixed in songs from his newly released album ‘Krystal’, which is of course a triumph, and I’d argue more emotional in its content than its predecessor ‘Bad Contestant’. My favourite from this album is the track bearing the same name, which I was also lucky enough to hear him perform live that night.
Matt even made time to run his own merch table, and greet fans after the show. Of course I went bounding over, and introduced myself. How could I not? I really felt as though Matt went the extra mile in this gig, not only with his stunning performance, but all by how approachable and personable he was. It really made me smile, ironic really, with lyrics so heart-breaking.
Massive Wagons – Patti Pavilion, Swansea, October 2019
I just had to choose this gig as one of my favourites! I love a good rock show, and Massive Wagons made sure I experienced one in all its glory. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this band a couple of times now. The first gig was on a whim, as we had booked tickets for a Saturday night out. A few drinks and some good music. The added bonus was that I got to see this amazing band! Their live music was great, and during the days that followed I listened to their albums and I was hooked. I had to wait a few months to be able to stream the other songs I’d heard live, as they were touring prior to the release of their next album ‘Full Nelson’. It was this album that really cemented my love for Massive Wagons.
When their next headline show was announced a year later, there was no way I was going to miss out! Although I’ll admit I did have some difficulty getting hold of my tickets due to a local disgruntled ticket supplier, but I was determined not to let anything dampen my spirits! Massive Wagons were coming back to Swansea, and I was so looking forward to it. The Lancashire rockers put on an incredible show, as I knew all too well from when I last saw them. This time though, I loved the songs, I knew the lyrics and I couldn’t wait to be down at the front.
Billed as an evening of rock and roll, there were several bands performing before Massive Wagons took to the stage. Ryders Creed, Scarlet Rebels and Ravenbreed got the crowd ready for what was to come. The room wasn’t packed, but it was a Sunday night and to be honest we were having a such a good time. Who needs a boring Sunday in, when you can go to a rock show?
Massive Wagons stormed the stage. Baz’s hat introduced them, by making a perfect landing on the coat stand, which made all of us laugh and cheer even louder! One thing I will say that makes Massive Wagons so great, is how fun they are as a band! So many rock bands take themselves way too seriously, but Massive Wagons are a real down to earth and friendly band. You can see within seconds of them being on stage, that they love being there and they work extremely hard for it too. Baz, lead singer of the band, recently wrote a very touching piece on their Facebook page, explaining just how much dedication it has taken to keep the band going. For me this makes going to their gigs a million times more worthwhile. This band absolutely love what they do, and for the price of a ticket to go and see not only a rock band that care, but a rock band that put on one of the best performances I’ve seen. It is worth so much more, and it keeps the dream alive for not only them but us as fans too.
Massive Wagons have a mixed following of all ages, and this could be seen that night in Swansea. They’re the type of band that I love, and my whole family could love. Their reach spreads far and wide, and this is fantastic. Their music consists of classic rock and roll, punchy guitar solos, and one hell of a voice. Massive Wagons are brilliant, and really make you want to get up and get involved. If you want a taste of how great they are, just listen to ‘Hate Me’ or ‘Ratio’, and then come back and tell me what you think. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, if they’re coming to your hometown any time soon – go. You’ll see one of the best rock shows around.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed hearing all about my favourite gigs of this past year. Of course there were so many more I enjoyed, and I wish I could write about them all. If you would specifically like to hear about any other gig that I went to, please feel free to get in touch! Alternatively, if there were any gigs you loved in 2019, please share them with me! It would be lovely to hear from you!
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you lots of love, music and happiness in 2020.