Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Review 06/07/10- Dining With James "Demos"


Band Name: Dining With James

CD Title: Demos

Press Pack Included: No

Review: These 2 tracks were sent to our hotmail.

Gloucester based Dining With James kick off proceedings with “Intro & Safari,” which sounds like it is a live recording with the crowd coming into the mix. This is clearly a band influenced by their modern indie rock with the slowly picked guitar riffs and ramshackle guitar. The drums are solid and varied in places, while the bass does most of the lead work while the guitar, apart from the bridge sections, sticks to an average chord progression for the genre. Second track “Town Of Irony,” kicks off with a well executed drum pattern, staying solid, keeping a good beat for the guitar and bass to come into without any awkward tempo changes. Again, this track sounds live and the guitar plays the solid chord structure while the bass becomes the lead instrument with it’s slightly varied riffs. It’s a quick track with little variation but is good for a throwaway number.

All in all then, Dining With James are a decent band with decent songs, however with an already over stocked indie genre there is very little here to give them an edge as there is little variation from the standard indie template.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Review 15/06/2010- City Of Ashes "When Black Fuels Blood"


Band Name: City Of Ashes

CD Title: When Black Fuels Blood

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: This EP was sent in the post by the band. This included a handwritten letter giving brief information about the band, where they have played and how to get in contact with them. This small package also included a promo photo of the band. This handwritten letter was more personal than an email and shows the band have taken the time to sort something out for us and I’m sure they would do the same for any other promotional material.

This EP goes right for the jugular instantly with “The Art Of Opacity.” After the inventive intro, the tempo starts high and continues with a solid metal drumbeat which is not afraid to deviate from the standard beat pattern with fills and rolls to compliment the heavy guitars and passionate vocals. This track really gets the listener going before running smoothly into a slightly more downbeat number called “In The Cold Light Of Day...” The clean guitar for the verses is crisp and actually clean, whereas some “clean,” guitar sounds can still distort. This guitar keeps a great rhythm while the lead guitar uses tremolo picking and inverted chords to create another layer to the track, as do the vocal overdubs which are used throughout the chorus. The drums are again solid if not overly spectacular, something which is a good thing in this nu metal/punk metal genre. Third track “Between A Rock & Her Razor,” seems to have been turned down in the mixing process as it does take a little bit of concentration to hear it as it should be heard, but the performance is once again top notch, with everyone well drilled at their jobs, so this can just be fixed with a little bit of TLC on the desk. Final track “Butterflies & Barflies,” is another acoustic/clean number with a very folksy rhythm and the stripped vocals. Both guitar and vocals are isolated yet still together in the mix, every note of the guitar is heard without any trouble and every intonation of the voice is audible too while the interplay between the 2 is exquisite.

All in all, a fantastic EP from City Of Ashes. This is a band who like to experiment with their genre, not letting themselves be tied down to one way of playing.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Review 14/06/2010- Tiberius Project "Starvation"


Band Name: Tiberius Project

CD Title: Starvation

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This track was sent directly to our hotmail account.

“Starvation,” Tiberius Project’s second submission to us is another metal stomper. The guitars are instantly the main focus of the song as they thrash out an impressive staccato intro. The drums are once again solid despite their immense speed with double bass being thrown in whenever the time feels right. The vocals are more audible than in their previous effort, taking pride of place high in the overall mix. The solos are once again hugely overdriven and laden with various effects to give them a fuzzy yet clear place in the mix while the rest of the band chugs away in the background, pushing the decibel level up.

After the enjoyable “Dream Over,” Tiberius Project have taken our advice on board in terms of levelling everything in the mix, making this their best effort to date with the vocals taking the place they deserved to take in the first place.

Review 14/06/2010- Stereo Influence "Stereo Influence EP"


Band Name: Stereo Influence

CD Title: Stereo Influence EP

Press Pack Included: No

Review: These 2 tracks were sent directly to our hotmail account.

Stereo Influence kick off with “Inequalities,” an indie track which is placed right in the vein of the current crop of British indie bands with it’s overlaid distorted riffs and almost ska funk drumbeat. The guitars are well constructed and are well mixed together while the bass is kept, as tradition in this genre, veiled behind the overall mix. The vocals seem to lack passion for alot of the track. This could either be because they have been turned down or the vocalist was perhaps nervous going into the session. Either way, the focal point of the track seems to lack something which will set it apart. Second track “Eye’s Shut,” takes a slightly heavier stance than the bands previous effort, the drums especially seem to be taking more from the Dave Grohl school of drumming than Matt Helders. The guitars are still constantly riffing but unlike “Inequalities,” there is a solid chorded rhythm for the lead to base itself around. The bass is again lost in the overall mix with the multitude of effects that the guitars use. The vocals in this track are more in your face than the last effort but still seem to be lacking a cutting edge that makes you sit up and take notice. Again, this could be a mixdown problem or the vocalists own nerves.

Overall, this is a decent effort by Stereo Influence but seems to be lacking a killer blow which would perhaps give them the edge in a cluttered market.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Review 03/06/10- Heart Of The Sun "Heart Of The Sun EP"

Band Name: Heart Of The Sun
CD Title: Heart Of The Sun EP
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: This CD was received via the post with a small press pack, written on word we think but with the added twist of using a picture of the band as the page background, which made the page more visually stimulating. Part of our previous review for “My Media,” was added with other quotes from local press. A good little package.
This is our 2nd experience of Heart Of The Sun and it kicks off once again in slightly funky fashion with “I Don’t Think About It.” The vocals are ear catching despite being shrouded in some effects which sometimes muffle the words, but nothing that is imperative is left out. The guitars are veering between indie, hard rock and funk riffs which gives an anticipation to the sound as to what style will be coming next. The drums are happy to keep the solid reggae/funk beat as long as they get chance to fill where necessary. The added synth in the final chorus adds a new element to the sound and gets away without being too obtrusive. The synth breakdown leads nicely into a repeated chorus which builds to a bit of a whimper instead of a crescendo, Heart Of The Sun deciding to go for a “Speed Of Sound,” style calm section before hitting the ground running again. Second track “Burn Me Up,” is set firmly in the funk camp, little genre variation expressed in the opening seconds. This is very reminiscent of Bristol based band The Hit-Ups, who often have a very funky verse while the chorus could go either into rock or funk. Heart Of The Sun have a heavier sounding chorus but keep the funk vibe of the track alive with the style of guitar play and the sometimes off beat drums. Final track “Sally Think Fast,” is a fast tempo more indie based jaunt, with enough riffage to blow a few of the established acts off the stage while the drums are keeping the tempo fast without sounding like they’re ever going to give up. This track is a particular favourite as the screamed breakdown which devolves into part funk part DIY punk with the very effect laden guitar licks, really sets it off as something new.
Overall, Heart Of The Sun have done it again! Another dose of top quality indie funk without the fuss of some of the more established acts.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Review 26/05/10-Deathalizer "More Than Gone"


Band Name: Deathalizer

CD Title: More Than Gone

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: This track was sent to our hotmail with a brief biography explaining who Deathalizer are and giving website addresses. This was set up in an interview style format which is not something you see everyday with press packs. This was something slightly different which could have gone into a little more detail.

Deathalizer claim to be “where Metallica left off,” and with the heavy yet slightly funky bassline, you can see why. This track does not overpower in the listener with it’s early bars, and tries to maintain that heavy but polished vibe throughout. The vocals are clear and precise, quite similar to Hetfield in his delivery and intonation. The more screamed vocals are still audible without being too piercing and the overdubs in the chorus are reminiscent of the effects used by Soundgarden. The guitars aren’t hugely prominent, keeping themselves shrouded in the mix to perfect effect until it’s their time to come forward for a well constructed if not overly flamboyant solo. The latter part of the song kicks up a tempo and the drums do this without needing to cover over or build to a crescendo which is something that even the greats have a habit of doing, much to our annoyance. The mix is crisp and clear, not too many fancy effects are used here, which is refreshing in the myriad of Metallica-esque metal which seems to all too often rely on the masking of samples and effects.

All in all, a great track from Deathalizer, something which is both classic and contemporary without being a pastiche of the two. A brilliant effort by Deathalizer.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Review 18/05/10- The Digital "Take Me Back"


Band Name: The Digital

CD Title: Take Me Back

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: This track was sent to our hotmail account along with a brief, yet highly informative bio and some additional contact details. This is very helpful in determining the assistance we can give The Digital.

The Digital, a band of 16 year olds from Middlesborough have already attracted some local attention, despite their age. “Take Me Back,” seems to be tapping into the current indie scene whilst still having enough power to get dragged into the less respected areas of the genre. Vocalist Lewis really pushes his voice as far as it will go, very much in the same way Dave Grohl does. Lewis is not afraid to let his voice croak and crack while trying to convey the passion he clearly has. His guitar playing is basic, but for this genre you don’t need the guitar acrobatics of something like metal, while Joe’s bass is solid and well executed, not letting himself be tied to one basic riff, which really adds an edge. Matthew’s drumming is hard and loose, not so loose to drop the beat, but loose enough to have a real drive, something we like.

Overall, a cracking tune from these young lads from the north. With their passion and clear goal driven minds, they can go far.

Review 18/05/10- Harry Loisios "Mountain Of The Gods"


Band Name: Harry Loisios

CD Title: Mountain Of The Gods

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: Press pack is brief, outlining Harry’s location and influences. It provides some contact information, but is lacking in images and detail in how Harry Loisios came to this album.

This instrumental album kicks off with it’s title track, “Mountain Of The Gods,” which starts off with a grand, bombastic intro. Sounding suspiciously like it’s about to be a classical record, Loisios tears into some shred guitar, very much in the vein of Malmsteen or Satriani, hundreds of notes coming through over almost blast beat drums. This fret wankery abates briefly at certain stages of the track, allowing the metal rhythm guitar to resonate through the well balanced mix of samples and live instruments. “Morning Kiss,” immediately slows the pace down, with it’s obvious classic influence, the acoustic guitar being picked out to act as a little bit of respite for the listener, before heading into another hard rock number in “Queen Of The Night.” Some of the opening bars sound like something from a sc-fi racing game on the N64 (F-Zero X for those in the know!) and another piece of Satriani. However, instead of being another thrash, the bulk of this track is played more like a Metallica/Dragonforce style slower number. Another quick classic interlude with “Prelude In E Minor,” a 1 minute acoustic break like “Morning Kiss.” Then it’s again on to another belter in “Burn Out.” Again, the mix of samples and live instruments is well balanced, so much so the organ following the guitar in most of the verses (if you can call them that) is audible enough for even the most casual of listeners. “Longing For Love,” is next up, and this shows that the classic guitar is not just for latin music or acoustic ballads as it features heavily throughout this track to create another layer of sound under the now standard samples and drum lines. This is a perfect touch to a track which lacks the over exuberance of previous tracks but adds a new dimension to Loisios’ repertoire. “Long Legged Woman,” begins at a happy medium, the tempo not too high while the guitar still throws out some flamboyant and often brilliant riffs and licks. Final track, “Love & Rejection,” is another slower number and has some similarities to some of the classic power metal ballads, with sweeping riffs and synth samples resonating in the background.

Overall, a great instrumental record from Harry Loisios, and it would be great for fans of Malmsteen, Satriani and Vai. A brilliant effort.

Review 18/05/10- Luke Thomas "Tonight"


Band Name: Luke Thomas

CD Title: Tonight

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This was sent to our hotmail account.

“Tonight,” is a folk number from singer songwriter Luke Thomas. This track is quiet and introspective, almost ballad like in it’s delivery. It is mostly guitar and vocals for the opening verse or so, but as the song progresses, maracas and piano is introduced into the mix of softly delivered vocals and slightly repetitive guitar. There is clearly a passion in his voice, but he keeps the level low so the guitar won’t be drowned out, which is beneficial in this mix. The chorus sees a vocal overdub with contrasting keys which adds to the overall texture of the track.

All in all, a beautiful song well executed and well mixed. The guitar is a little repetitive, but there is enough going on in the overall scheme of the song to overlook this minor flaw. Well done Luke.

Review 18/05/10- Behind Hollow Walls "Wolves"


Band Name: Behind Hollow Walls

CD Title: Wolves

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: This track was sent to our hotmail with a detailed explanation of where the song came from, who the band have supported and who they are going to support in the future, a link to their Myspace and who is in the band. This was a great press release by Behind Hollow Walls.

The track itself, “Wolves,” is one of the mainstays of their set and starts very much like Bullet For My Valentine and bands in that genre. The drums keep a solid, often fluctuating beat while the guitars both thrash and riff in equal measure. The breakdown after the second verse adds a new dynamic to what began as a straight metalcore thrash. The breakdown is melodic with it’s carefully picked riff and harmonised vocals and acts as a welcome breather before heading back into their thrash. The growled vocals are well executed without being too obtrusive in the overall mix and they seem to sit well with the harmonised backing vocals. The guitar solos are not too OTT and keep well within their set parameters. The sound is low, but this track could be remixed at a later date to raise the volume of the track.

Overall, a great track from Behind Hollow Walls, despite it’s lack of top end volume (though, as mentioned, this can be easily fixed.) Very well written and well performed by the band.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Review 4/5/10- Ghosts "Ghosts"

Band Name: Ghosts
CD Title: Ghosts
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This demo was sent directly our hotmail.
Ghosts, the experimental side project of The New Believers Rich Powley is a work in progress but is already taking shape as something great. “Dark Days Final Swamp Rat,” is a dark, ambient trip through different synthesised drum sounds while the rhythm guitar keeps a steady beat and the lead plucks out dischordant licks all over the place to create an even more intense atmosphere. Echo and reverb combine in places to bring a bit of musical melodrama to an already claustrophobic piece. Even the high range synth/Moog breakdown doesn’t manage to pull this out of the darkest depths. “Ghosts 002,” marks a tempo change and introduces another dark, more industrial element to a project which is already shaping up to be very interesting indeed. Fusing the black metal edge of Beltane with the EBM stylings of Avoidance Of Doubt, “Ghosts 002,” is a thrash club anthem (if we’ve invented a new genre term for it!) which could darken even the brightest of hearts. “Fred & Me, “ is the final song in this package and this is lighter, more relaxed than the other 2, a marked difference in appeal and style. The synth line is reminiscent of mid 80’s Gary Numan while the optimistic back layer lifts up the listener. The spoken word sample seems to have been lifted straight from one of the Manic Street Preachers more aggressive works while the slight breaks add another darker edge to the overall sound.
As demos go, this is up there with the best. The interplay between goth, thrash, EBM and general electronica is complex yet wonderfully executed. If this is what Ghosts comes up with on his own, imagine what this project would do with a full live band.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Review 28/04/10- Death Disco "The Proof"

Band Name: Death Disco
CD Title: The Proof
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: The press pack included was very brief with only minimal info and one band picture. The EP cover from which this track is from was included in a ZIP file emailed to our hotmail.
Hailing from Italy, Death Disco describe themselves as “music concerning dark atmospheres although rarely melancholic,” and this is demonstrated by “The Proof.” Most of this track is bass heavy, á la Peter Hook while the guitar is sparingly used throughout. The pre chorus, chorus and post chorus have the guitar veering between melodic riffage and balls to the wall power chords while the drums circle a very familiar beat. The vocals are all in English and sound no different to any Anglo-American band, giving Death Disco a wider appeal than just in their native Italy. The music is not too heavy or dark, just as their claim suggests but there is an atmosphere to this song that transcends normal UK indie pop and most of the American stuff too, placing Death Disco firmly in the 80’s indie rock style (The Smiths et al).
Overall, a good track by Death Disco. Mixed well and well balanced throughout, there are no faults. It would be good to see if they can step it up a gear and really go for the jugular, but this is a good ease into their sound.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Review 20/04/10- Little Room "Little Room"

Band Name: Little Room
CD Title: Little Room
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP was sent to our hotmail account.
First track “Breaking Gnosis,” instantly draws you in with it’s prominent piano and almost sampled drums. This song sounds alot like “Walking After You,” by Foo Fighters, as it’s a low tempo, well mixed track with a great deal of compression and minimalistic instrumentation. As this track is labelled as “Edit,” we would like to see what has been cut from the overall ambiance of the song, but this is a well constructed edit. The second and final track is a rough mix of “Drowning In Mercury.” Even though this is a first mix, it seems that there are few signs of it not being mastered, sounding as good as some other bands polished work. This is a bit more cluttered, but that gives this track a marked difference from it’s predecessor. The drums fill and wander where possible meaning there is a more fluid structure to the overall sound while the guitars don’t get in the way with their riffs leaving the vocals to really shine through. There are a few indications of this track being relatively MOR á la Snow Patrol, but this is no bad thing in the current musical climate.
All in all, a good little package which demonstrates the band’s style well. It would be good to hear a full version of “Breaking Gnosis,” and a finished version of “Drowning In Mercury,“ in the future.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Review 15/04/10- Megahera "Lethal Noise Of Violence"


Band Name: Megahera

CD Title: Lethal Noise Of Violence

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This EP was posted to us without a press pack.

Italian metal heads Megahera kick off their EP with “Let It Loose.” This song starts like all classic metal should, fast and loud. The guitars are chugging along at a great pace while the drums keep it all solid at the back. This is pure headbanging material, much like old school Metallica and even some of the really classic Sabbath moments. The vocals are low on volume but the echo effect used creates extra volume. The guitar solos are OTT, but perfectly executed for this genre, not leaving any part of the scale untouched. “Welcome Back (Heavy Metal)” is another fast thrash through the metal genre, but there are subtle nuances in the mix which make the guitars double in frantic energy with the added reverb and echo throughout the track. The drums are very similar to “Let It Loose,” but this is a genre trait. The double bass pedal keeps defying the odds and the vocals are again drenched in echo to create more volume. At around the 4 minute mark in this epic 8 minute song, the bass gets a starring role as the genre seems to shift to a more funk rock footing, with the guitar covered in Hendrix-esque effects and the drums going down in the mix. “Before The Night,” is next up and continues on the standard thrash metal theme. Again, the solos are OTT but well within thrash metal standards, the vocals are still low in the mix and echo throughout while the drums continue to pound away in the background. “Nasty Savage,” rounds off the EP starting with 4 part harmony before going straight into the same thrash guitars. However, the bass then again takes the lead with a very variant riff, something which holds the song together very well.

Overall, a good EP by Megahera. There are flashes of different directions in the EP but are rarely experimented with, which is very much a shame. But for a great example of ’83 era thrash from a modern band, this is well worth a look.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Review 27/03/10- TLi "Live"

Band Name: TLi
CD Title: Live
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP was sent through to our hotmail account.
TLi, Westcountry based punks kill 2 birds with one stone by sending us a Live EP, which shows us what they’re like both on record and live, so that saves a bit of time!
“Fighting Cider,” is a fast paced, true punk rock track with loud but solid drums, fast distorted guitars and the odd screamed backing vocal line. It’s clear that they enjoy what they do as there is a slight laugh from one of the singers during the song, but that just adds to the live effect. It would be good to hear that song properly recorded as there are nuances that are just out of earshot on the live version. Final track ”Smallscreen Horrors,” follows the same basic principle as “Fighting Cider.” Again, fast, short and loud make this song another punk rock belter.
All in all, both tracks are good tracks and their rawness live is encouraging. It would be good to hear them recorded properly but if this is the raw base version, then there is great promise.

Review 27/03/10- Tiberius Project "Dream Over"

Band Name: Tiberius Project
CD Title: Dream Over
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP was sent to our hotmail account.
Brazil is not the first place people think of when you mention metal, but this isn’t the first Brazilian metal band that have come into contact! Tiberius Project kick off their “Dream Over,” EP with “Before Sunrise,” which sounds very much like a Megadeth track, heavy, sweep picked guitars, vocals that are growly and low, and drums which fill everywhere. The lead guitar is perhaps too prominent in the mix, making the vocals even harder to hear and the drums almost non-existent at times. This is a good song, just needs that little bit of polishing on the desk to get the drums as epic as they should be and the lead guitar to take it’s place in the mix without being the centre of attention. “You Bitch!” is better in the mix, the lead guitar being heard but not overpowering the vocals in this Metallica style thrash metal track. The drums let the guitars take the tempo strain while they keep a great platform in the back line. The vocals are more screamed this time, with what sounds like group shouting during the title line which adds more texture to the voice. Final track “Avenger,” starts with a Chinese scale and some samples before kicking in with some more furious thrash guitar and great solos and riffs. The vocals are again the main attraction in the mix while not swamping everything else. This is a straight down the line thrash metal track, no great deviation from the tried and tested formula which means that they can be an average thrash metal band, while the other 2 tracks showed their slight differences. Even the pan pipe solo during “Avenger,” is somewhat expected, but still a welcome textural change.
All in all, a great EP by Tiberius Project which demonstrates their differences and their similarities in the genre. Maybe “Before Sunrise,” needs a bit of a touch up in the studio to just get all of the levels right, but otherwise, great effort.

Review 27/03/10- Thee Chancers "Miss Morgan"

Band Name: Thee Chancers
CD Title: Miss Morgan
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: This EP was sent to our hotmail with a brief biography and contact details for Thee Chancers.
Southampton based Thee Chancers are clearly a band with a bluesy background. “Tomorrow Morning,” kicks off this EP and boy, does it kick it off. There is an urgency, an energy coming off this track with the gritty vocal line and constantly riffing guitar. The drums back up with a solid beat which keeps this track bursting with energy. The breakdown during the song is clean and effective, just building the anticipation for another burst of energy. The guitar riffs near the end of the song are well constructed and well mixed. The title track “Miss Morgan,” is up next and it slows the tempo to a brisk canter, with layers of guitars working well together. The gritty vocals again make this bluesy while the drums yet again tap out a solid rhythm for everyone else to take their lead from. Final track “Colossal Seduction,” is a blues folk number with well written acoustic guitar riffs and chords while the drums take a back seat to let the rhythm guitar keep the beat going. The vocals are slightly less gritty here, but still just as bluesy as they have been throughout.
“Miss Morgan,” is very reminiscent of Rockburn’s EP with it’s clear blues influence and this is on a par with Rockburn too. Not as slick but with this style that Thee Chancers have built, it doesn’t need to be, it needs it’s slight ragged edges. This is a wonderful little EP and this band could do great things.

Review 27/03/10- The Reading Room "Running Without Rest"

Band Name: The Reading Room
CD Title: Running Without Rest
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This track was sent to be considered for Funderworld.
Coventry based folk duo The Reading Room may not quite be out of college, but they know how to put together some quality rhythmic folk. Within the seconds of “Running Without Rest,” it’s clear that these guys have honed their trade. There is a great rhythm to the wonderfully constructed, bright acoustic guitars, a certain jauntiness about the rhythm that is reminiscent of Seth Lakemen’s more fiery moments. The lead line (which maybe a guitar, maybe a mandolin) intertwines fantastically with the impact guitar and even the drums give impact without compromising the overall sound of the track.
“Running Without Rest,” is a beautiful track with great potential, well mixed and produced and with wonderful musicianship.

Review 27/03/10- Swirl "Adrenaline"

Band Name: Swirl
CD Title: Adrenaline
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: This was sent through to our hotmail with artwork and a brief explanation of the band’s beginnings and their relentless touring from 2009.
Right from the off, it’s clear that “Adrenaline,” is lifted straight from American classic hard rock with the glossy vocals, thumping drums and heavy guitars. This means that it is hard rock by numbers, but this is a good thing. The lack of genre deviation in this genre means that bands can concentrate on writing killer songs and making sure that they are perfectly versed in them. This is a prime example of such beliefs, with well executed guitar solos bringing a break from the solid rhythm work the guitar is doing. The track is well produced and well mixed, meaning that this really does fit perfectly into the American hard rock genre.
All in all, a good little track, nothing too special from Swirl but a great way to be introduced to the band as it leaves you wanting that little bit more.

Review 27/03/10- Starblood "Starblood"

Band Name: Starblood
CD Title: Starblood
Press Pack Included: No
Review: These tracks were sent to our hotmail account.
“Haunted,” kicks off Starblood’s 2 track demo and it begins with something Joy Division would be proud of. Droned synths, digital sounding drums and a sense that this track is going to live up to it’s title. The synth ends up becoming an all too obvious loop which after the 3 minute mark becomes quite grating and too repetitive. It does eventually breed a new riff for a brief period but this is too late as by this point in the track, you’ve begun to switch off. “Door Into Summer,” introduces an acoustic guitar which seems to bring a bit more life to the track, overdubbed riffs sit side by side and work well together while the synth is used for backing music only, while the drums are also overdubbed to create 2 separate rhythms. The introduction of the electric guitar makes this track sound a little like The Cure’s “Wrong Number,” just without being too over reliant on the original loops.
Overall, a good couple of songs, however the repetitiveness of the first track may mean that listeners never get round to the second, much more entertaining track.

Review 27/03/10- Splyce "Splyce"

Band Name: Splyce
CD Title: Splyce
Press Pack Included: No
Review: These tracks were sent for Funderworld consideration.
The package sent through by Splyce starts off with “Infatuation,” a rock stomper with great vocals and guitars that are overdriven and heavy without going too overboard. This track has got a distinctive groove with the bass and drums holding a good rhythm throughout. The track is well mixed, with vocal overdubs that don’t interfere with the well constructed guitar riffs. The second track sent through is “Shame,” another hard rock stomper with a hectic yet wonderfully executed riff as it’s intro. Again, the drums and bass are mixed well and keep a great rhythm throughout. There are moments in this track where the singer is giving his all, and that shows with the slightest break during a long note, but this is all cleaned up so effectively that a casual listener would not notice the change.
All in all, great couple of tracks from Splyce. It would be good to see if they can deviate from their standard a little more, maybe get a cutting edge in an already crowded heavy generic rock market, but they would certainly enjoy some success before having to make any radical changes.

Review 27/03/10- Roisin Ellen Brophy "Roisin Ellen Brophy"

Band Name: Roisin Ellen Brophy
CD Title: Roisin Ellen Brophy
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This track was sent for consideration for Funderworld.
Folk songstress Roisin Ellen Brophy has already had some success in the South West with band Slaveen and the 2 tracks here continue the musical trend she forged with them. “Rid Of You,” starts as a folk ballad with just acoustic guitar but builds as the song moves on, introducing electric guitars and drums later. The vocals are slightly dwarfed by the full band in the mix, but that’s nothing that can’t be sorted on the desk later. And it’s a shame that they’re dwarfed because they are strong and heartfelt. The guitars intertwine without any obstruction and they don’t compete for attention, preferring to all be as important as eachother. The keys throughout are understated yet wonderfully constructed and the drums hit the right beat for the style of song. “Beauty Blue Eyes,” is just straight folk, showing the versatility in Roisin’s song writing styles. This is where her voice comes into it’s own, really setting this song apart from many acoustic numbers out there at the moment.
The 2 songs are great songs from Roisin. The only downside is in “Rid Of You,” with the vocals being lost in the overall mix. But otherwise, a brilliant pair of songs from Roisin.

Review 27/03/10- Oriol Stardust "I'm Sorry For Loving You"

Band Name: Oriol Stardust
CD Title: I’m Sorry For Loving You
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: This EP arrived in the post with a brief explanation of where Oriol has played.
Barcelona based folk rock singer/songwriter Oriol Stardust starts off his EP with the title track, “I’m Sorry For Loving You.” This track has jangly ramshackle guitars, a varied drum beat and some great vocals. The choruses layer the vocals to create an extra texture while the bridge adds a jaunty drum line. This is very reminiscent of Peter, Bjorn & John as instead of being a ballad it’s a celebration which puts a smile on the face of anyone who listens to it. “September,” brings the tempo down a bit, showing Oriol’s dynamics. The organ backing sounds like The Bad Seeds while the guitar has a similar effect to “Walking After You,” by the Foos. The drums keep another solid rhythm and the electric lead line is distant but well produced. “Dead Town,” begins like a protest song with powerful vocals and guitar alone. Well mixed again and well produced, especially with the second guitar and organ coming in without seeming disjointed. A breakdown lets the drums come in, which again hit a solid beat. The song continues to build throughout, giving a great sense of rhythm. Final track “Top Of The Hill,” settles everything down to it’s climax with it’s 60’s style drumbeat and organ combo. This is perhaps a weaker track than the other 3, but not by any great distance. Oriol just seems a little bit out of place in this track, maybe with the tempo being a little bit lower.
Overall though, “I’m Sorry For Loving You,” is a great EP with some brilliant songwriting by Oriol and some great musicianship thoroughout.

Review 27/03/10- Nothing New "See In The Dark"

Band Name: Nothing New
CD Title: See In The Dark
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This track was sent as demonstration for Funderworld
Cardiff based pop punk trio Nothing New certainly know what their audience likes! This track begins with a faux radio version of this song’s intro before hitting the ground running with power chords and muting through the verses. The drums keep a great beat while enjoying throwing in the fills. The vocals are layered to create more power and the guitars are heavy without sounding like metal guitars. The chorus creates a natural sing-a-long for everyone listening, which is great for the pop punk genre while the riffs that pop up during the course of the song are well constructed and singled out in a quiet yet great mix.
All in all, great track by Nothing New though it would be nice to see if they can go to the other end of the pop punk scale, maybe with an acoustic number or something with a little more bite. However, take nothing away from “See In The Dark,” it’s a great pop punk song.

Review 27/03/10- LAF "Sparkle"

Band Name: LAF
CD Title: Sparkle
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This was sent to the hotmail account.
The LAF have their influences firmly in the classic late 60’s/early 70’s rock and that is no bad thing at all. “Running Out Of Time,” has a great little organ/synth line throughout, sounding very much like “Whiter Shade Of Pale,” and other great songs of the time. The drums keep a solid beat while the guitars are drenched in effects and lower in the mix to just keep another rhythm ticking over. The guitars do come into their own during the solo, throwing on some Hendrix-esque overdrive and riffing with great competency. The vocalist has the hint of Cave about him but likes to extend the note, making this more dreamy than Cave. “The Philosopher,” starts with another guitar riff drenched in reverb and echo which makes the song again quite dreamy and psychedelic, which is what the LAF are going for. It does sound like something The Cure have written during the mid 80’s but that’s just the riff itself. The song overall keeps in the trend set by “Running Out Of Time,” dreamy rock which makes the listener relax and take in all the textures given.
All in all, great little EP by LAF, played to perfection and really chilled without relying too heavily on overproduction or computerised instruments.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Review 26/03/10- Small Engine Repair "Have You Seen What I've Become?"

Band Name: Small Engine Repair
CD Title: Have You Seen What I’ve Become?
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This track was submitted for ScreamLite Records’ charity compilation.
“Have You Seen What I’ve Become?” is a beautifully tragic folk number, with all of the key ingredients. The vocals are gritty and well sung, demonstrating a personal touch to the song while the guitar is allowed to ring and strings to reverberate without too much problem. The piano bassline is well mixed, not too loud in the grand scheme of things, understated but still playing it’s vital role. The string section that comes in during the chorus is again understated, but well put together with the overall sound of the song.
Overall, a beautiful track by Small Engine Repair with all the makings of a folk ballad classic.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Review 25/03/10- The Ruby Kid "Winter In The City"


Band Name: The Ruby Kid

CD Title: Winter In The City

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This EP was picked up at The Croft, March 14th 2010.

Now, The Ruby Kid, at first look, would not normally be something that ScreamLite Records would look at. However, after a closer look, it turns out that The Ruby Kid is far more than just standard rap/hip hop. Like Clayton Blizzard, The Ruby Kid veers away from the usual bling and cars approach and looks more at Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Arctic Monkeys. Like all of his influences, The Ruby Kid (aka Daniel Randall) raps about politics, the music industry, literature and philosophy without sounding contrived or ham fisted. “Art Versus Industry,” is a scathing attack on preconceptions and it’s clear that The Ruby Kid’s music is very much personal expression, the anger and passion all come through in great one liners, a flowing rap which doesn’t rely heavily on swearing but more on the art of popular culture, literature and his Yorkshire upbringing. “East 6th(Between 2nd & 3rd)” he makes mention of Cohen, Miles Davis, Dylan Thomas, Yiddish strike songs and Elis Island, really demonstrating his eclectic music taste and his wide knowledge of American & British history and culture. A word too for his backing musicians who don’t seem like a standard backing band, more like equals in The Ruby Kid’s goal, and all of the musicians and backing vocalists involved are all brilliant throughout, infusing their styles and genres with the eclectic muses of The Ruby Kid.

“Winter In The City,” is a great demonstration why underground hip hop in the UK is thriving. The vast influences and cultural knowledge of The Ruby Kid makes this EP something very special indeed...A hip hop record that a metalhead would like. And for that, and the brilliance of his rhymes, The Ruby Kid has produced something brilliant.

Review 25/03/10- Kids Love Lies "Under The Bed"

Band Name: Kids Love Lies
CD Title: Under The Bed
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This single was picked up at the Mother’s Ruin, March 18th 2010.
Kids Love Lies are making a name for themselves with their female fronted indie post punk and this single, “Under The Bed,” is a perfect display of their sound. The guitars are mixed well while the vocals are allowed to really shine through the melee of catchy hooks and riffs. There is a great drum beat throughout, which moves and flows just as much as the excellent guitar work. Somehow this track restrains itself when there is enough energy going on with the instrumentation to break free and really get even the most critical of indie kids going. The B-Sides kick off with another fast paced guitar driven number, “Big Mouth.” The vocals take a starring role in this track, with yet more passion and drive behind the female voice at the front. As the song reaches it’s chorus, the dynamic guitars and hectic bass make sure that the song doesn’t hit a wall halfway through and the drums yet again flow and change as the song progresses. The final track on this single is the acoustic balladry of “Learning To Smile.” This is a truly beautiful song with the seemingly heartfelt vocal line and bright acoustic guitar keeping the rhythm going to make sure that this is one sure fire lighters in the air moment.
Overall, a great single package from Kids Love Lies. Well mixed, well produced and great musicianship all make Kids Love Lies a great band.

Review 25/03/10- Beltane "...Through Darker Seasons"

Band Name: Beltane
CD Title: ...Through Darker Seasons
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This album was sent through to the hotmail address.
Again, like Laceration, this is not a genre we claim to know much about. But Beltane are one of the bands we’ve heard of in the genre. As one of the bigger names in black metal we were honoured that they contacted us, so thank you to Beltane.
Once the slightly starstruck nature of their emails sunk in, we got stuck into “...Through Darker Seasons.” Right from the off, “Sentinel Ov Death,” hit hard with blast beats and guitar licks aplenty, tearing apart everything in their wake. Even the haunting whistling found a place in the mix, which unlike many bands in the genre, is very well done. Hints of Inkubus Sukkubus and Cauda Pavonis come into the second track “Call The Ships To Port,” with the well executed synth lines in amongst the crushing guitar. The vocal line is hidden by some great production making this track a more EBM style song, something that would not be out of place in London’s Slimelight club, somewhere it’s probably been played! This really shows off Beltane’s dynamics and their genre bending capabilities. People into their black metal will enjoy the song for the guitar lines and drums, while EBM heads will love the synth production. “Winter Forest,” reverted back to the force and fury of “Sentinel Ov Death,” but with another fantastic drum line which bounded along rather than blasting during most of the song. Again, Beltane demonstrated that they can veer off the standard black metal path by changing tempo quickly and freely. “Satanic Reawakening MMVI,” throws both Beltane’s black metal fury and their EBM stylings, making this a louder, faster and much better alternative to the emo-lite pretenders such as Enter Shikari and really puts Beltane up there with the best in both genres.
The rest of the album veers between both confidently and brilliantly, making this a thudding, pounding, roaring record with enough moments for music fans new to the darker side of metal to ease them into it with a good contingency of EBM tracks. Overall, a great album by a great band.

Review 25/03/10- Clayton Blizzard "One Two Three Home"

Band Name: Clayton Blizzard
CD Title: One, Two, Three, Home
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This album was picked up at The Croft, 14th March 2010.
Clayton Blizzard, Bristol based MC-cum-folk wordsmith really straddles genres. “Sad Music Is Uplifting,” gets right to the point with the solid beats of The Streets, piano of Muse and brilliant skills of Clayton who decides that it’s better to use his Bristolian accent to express himself than try and be someone he’s not, which really makes a difference. None of what he’s saying is about the usual rap subjects, which makes him a prime candidate for people who hate the over commercial hip hop and rap and prefer someone who can write something more personal. “New Strings On An Old Guitar,” sees Clayton playing the guitar while still rhyming about things personal to him. With a beatbox style beat in the background and the looped acoustic guitar Clayton could turn heads of the people in The Croft there for a metal gig in the back room without problem. Even the mandolin solo fits perfectly in the overall mix which makes sure that everything finds it’s place without getting in the way of the messages that Clayton is trying to get across. “Winning A Raffle, Losing The War,” is a typical bright folk song with some great lyrics throughout. This is very much like some of Beans On Toast’s true folk moments, beautiful sounding guitar and lyrics that make you chuckle while listening out for the next great line. The end of the song even parodies “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which is a turn of pure genius from Clayton. “Letter To America,” is another pop at the US and the conflict’s that they’re involved in, and this is a new twist on the well trodden path. A ska/reggae/dub/folk number which relies on the vocals more heavily, along with the samples that pop up in the middle, which is how this track should be.
Overall, Clayton Blizzard is a new twist on folk music which is something more inspired than both most commercial rap and most commercial folk and for that, Clayton Blizzard should be proud.

Review 25/03/10- Discipline X "The Devil's Whore"

Band Name: Discipline X
CD Title: The Devil’s Whore
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This track was sent in for ScreamLite Records’ charity compilation.
Despite the title, “The Devil’s Whore,” is in fact a grunge/punk style track from Discipline X. This track has been mixed well, with the guitars looping around the solid drum beat with well constructed riffs and great little licks. The track as a whole sounds alot like Nirvana “Bleach,” era with the vocals a little better produced than some of that album. The breakdown demonstrates Discipline X’s dynamic structures and even shows a classical guitar can fit into a fast punk track.
All in all, a good track by Discipline X which defies the expectation given by the title!

Review 25/03/10- Fresh Milk "Fresh Milk"

Band Name: Fresh Milk
CD Title: Fresh Milk
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP was sent direct to our hotmail.
Fresh Milk start their EP with a blast of heavy metal worthy of Beltane with their growled vocals and heavy guitar. However, part way through first track “Back For More,” the band shift gear and go into lilting ska which comes as a complete shock after the fast start. This is how the track continues until it’s finish, making this one of the most diverse songs around today. The band move back to more familiar territory on “In Control,” where their thrash credentials are again shown to the world. The drums are on fine form, really not sticking to a basic beat and the guitars are played in the right way to make them take a leading role. Final track “Lights Out,” is another thrash through 2 minutes of quality metal which continues to show Fresh Milk on top form throughout.
All in all, a great thrash EP from Fresh Milk, well mixed and produced and, especially with the ska experiment on “Back For More,” shows that being thrash isn’t just playing by numbers loudly!

Review 25/03/10- Birthrite "Is There Anybody Out There?"

Band Name: Birthrite
CD Title: Is Anybody Out There?
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This track was sent for ScreamLite Records’ charity compilation.
“Is There Anybody Out There?” starts with a great drum roll which sets the tone for the track as a whole. With vocals reminiscent of Joy Division and Talking Heads, Birthrite play to it, with the guitar looping round with well constructed riffs and licks to add more texture into the song while the drums keep a solid yet groovy beat behind. Sitting in the post punk style, the guitar rattles and clangs in the foreground of the song while still having enough overdrive bite to make it fuzzy and unmissable. The solos are slightly fraught in places but still have enough to make many guitarists jealous. The middle 8 breakdown shows off the guitar again while the drums build the anticipation for the final fling before the end, with brilliant effect.
A cracking track from Birthrite with all the ingredients to really help to band progress further.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Review 24/03/10-Bateleurs "Hello Girl"


Band Name: Bateleurs

CD Title: Hello Girl

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This track was forwarded for ScreamLite Records’ charity compilation.

This song from Swindon’s Bateleurs is similar to Alberto Veto’s tracks- indie folk. The one major difference between this track and the Alberto Veto EP is that this track is very laid back and calm. “Hello Girl,” seems to have all the makings of a very epic ballad for Bateleurs with it’s mellow acoustic guitar and tambourine backing. The vocals are more Weller than Veto’s which compliments the bright sound of the guitar, despite the minor chords and downbeat mood of the song. The drums are strategically placed, not playing all the way through the early stages of the track and not really coming into their own until during the middle 8.

Overall, great track which maybe could have done with a little more in the way of texture behind the guitar. That, however, does not take anything away from the writing talents of Bateleurs.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Review 23/03/10- Alberto Veto "Alberto Veto"


Band Name: Alberto Veto

CD Title: Alberto Veto

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This EP was submitted for ScreamLite Records’ charity compilation album.

Alberto Veto are clearly a band who are very at ease with their music at the moment, and this is reflected in their brilliantly catchy indie folk rock. “Careful,” is a song that Paul Weller wouldn’t feel bad about putting on his album while the vocals throughout the 3 songs have a hint of the Modfather and Bowie about them, easing the song into it’s mellow groove without being too obtrusive on the well constructed music. “Happiness,” is an insanely catchy uptempo number in the middle which got us jigging along in true Frank Turner fashion with layered vocals and a very solid, jumpy drum beat to keep it ticking over. Even the tempo shift right at the end had a touch of class about it even though we were taken aback by the sudden change, but it was no bad thing whatsoever, really showing off their dynamics. Final song “Ropewalk,” is a real folksy number, pitching somewhere between Elbow and Mumford & Sons, with well strummed guitar throughout, not letting the beat drop at any stage. Again, another song that gets you jigging to it’s relentless beat. You can imagine doing a bit of a Hoedown at their shows!

All in all, a great little package from Alberto Veto, with all of the makings of some great indie folk. If Elbow can do it, then these guys can’t be far behind.

Review 23/03/10- Destruction Of Mankind "Necktie For A Noose"

Band Name: Destruction Of Mankind
CD Title: Necktie For A Noose
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP was emailed via our hotmail account.
Another slice of black metal, this time from American solo artist Destruction Of Mankind. “Preeminent,” starts the EP with a sample which runs into some extreme black metal. The guitars are thrashing through the song at a great pace while still showing flashes of brilliance. The drums are blasting throughout while the vocals are lower in the mix than previous black metal offerings, making them harder to decipher in the overall song. “Preeminent,” ends with the sound of smashing glass which drones out and straight into “Hardcore.” This song takes a while to really get going after a lengthy sample at the start. This could be cut down slightly to keep the music flowing, but when the song does kick in, it’s worth the wait. The guitar continues to impress despite the tempo and the drums continue to blast beat through the mix. The samples continue throughout the EP, something which could get distracting after a while and stop the music being the main attraction on this EP. “Genocide,” shows a different dynamic from D.O.M. but only briefly which is a shame.
All in all, “Necktie For A Noose,” is a good EP from Destruction Of Makind but it can be seen as a little too black metal by numbers. “Genocide,” showed flashes of a different dynamic, but it wasn’t expanded on. However, this is a solid black metal record and Destruction Of Mankind really have a future in the genre.

Review 23/03/10- Call The Doctor "CTD"

Band Name: Call The Doctor
CD Title: CTD
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP was picked up at The Mother’s Ruin, March 18th 2010.
Bristol’s Call The Doctor are beginning to build quite a following in the area, and their live show was something to behold with all the raw power and passion of a band of their style.
Their power seems to be slightly diminished on record with the guitars taking a backseat approach behind some strong female vocals. The drums are keeping a solid beat throughout the 6 tracks on offer here, but don’t really make too many moves from the formula which is quite a shame. The guitars are overdriven and good, but they could have done with a little more volume in the final mix. They demonstrate their riffing skills during “Running With Scissors,” and throughout there are overdubs and little guitar nuances but it is a shame for them to not have quite as much of a place as their show suggests. The vocals are strong, with the singer showing off her range very well and also showing where that passion would be if there was a bit more on the final mix for everyone. “Four Foot Two,” does demonstrate Call The Doctor’s lower tempo side, with well constructed riffs and muted guitars which make a good song. Again, the vocals show good range and passion but it’s again let down by the final mix.
“CTD,” is overall a good EP, it’s just lacking the kind of energy that Call The Doctor can produce. Whether that’s a side effect of the final mix, or it’s just that their live shows are more raucous than their studio performance remains to be seen, but this is not something that would put us off seeing them again.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Review 09/03/10- Destination Anywhere "Sobstuff, Tales & Anthems"


Band Name: Destination Anywhere

CD Title: Sobstuff, Tales & Anthems

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This was a free album download from Myspace.

Destination Anywhere are a German ska punk band very similar to Less Than Jake and Streetlight Manifesto. But don’t let that put you off! This is an excellently produced album with some great horn production throughout. The first 2 tracks are standard ska punk tracks, high tempo and full of energy, but it’s track 3, “Oblivion,” where it all begins to show how Destination Anywhere bring a little more to the party than most other ska bands. There are hints of metal and thrash throughout, with even some screaming to add to the sound, making this track a turning point for the band. From there, “All The Things That We Have Seen,” takes a more Hendrix approach with the well placed flange on the horns and guitar. The song also slows the tempo a bit without seeming contrived and forced, which many bands of this genre suffer from as they continue to produce the same songs album after album. “Welcome To Hangover,” introduces a reggae tinge to the music, making another stark change to the first couple of tracks, which is welcome at the midway point of the album. “Permission To Sing,” continues a new trend with heavy crushing guitars and horns used minimally. The vocal line is slightly drowned but that benefits the guitar and drums as it allows them to take a starring role after playing second best to the horn section. The final few tracks go back to the traditional ska punk ethos, but the guitars are allowed to play it a little heavier, sounding more like Propaghandi than Less Than Jake.

Overall, “Sobstuff, Tales & Anthems,” is a great album full of catchy, bouncy ska punk tracks which would feel at home in any punk club anywhere in the world.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Review 09/03/10- The Idyllists "Les Singles"


Band Name: The Idyllists

CD Title: Les Singles

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This EP is available for free download via Myspace.

The Idyllists seem to have forged out a very British indie sound from their American location. With guitars like that of The Coral and vocals like that of The Lightning Seeds, The Idyllists are something very special indeed. There are hints of country in “Crowded Room,” which show how this band are happy to tread slightly off the beaten track while still maintaining their principle ideas. Blues, indie, country and rock all mingle in the beautifully constructed pieces of indie pop rock that The Idyllists specialise in. All tracks are beautifully mixed with the vocals slightly distorted to give another layer of sound in the overall mix.

All in all, this EP is a truly spectacular effort by a band that should rightfully be a British band!

Review 08/03/10- The 9's "Here Be Monsters"

Band Name: The 9s
CD Title: Here Be Monsters
Press Pack Included: No
Review: No press pack included as band emailed download link via myspace.
This EP gets off to a flyer in true punk/metal style with “Wrestling With Tigers.” The 9’s use ferocious guitars and strained yet good vocals to have a track which could be played alongside bands like The Blackout and You Me At Six but also alongside some of the classic rock bands that dominate album sales worldwide such as AC/DC. This ferocity and tempo continues through second track “Sweet Victory,” which seems like a bitter and venomous kiss off to someone or something but still has the well mixed sound and punk ethic. The 9s then decide to show their dynamic with a slower number “Nothing Left To Give.” This still has a crushing guitar and heavy overdrive but includes a great guitar breakdown and a slightly more introspective vocal line. As the EP continues on, the tracks begin to show that a less ferocious and more technical approach can also pay dividends in this cluttered genre, with the guitars competing for technical supremacy and lead role in the overall mix, something which seems to have pushed the vocalist to really unleash his full force which in turn benefits the entire band.
Again, The 9s show off another less ferocious number when they throw “Empire Strikes Back,” into the EP. This is a more “bouncy,” song as it were, something that would get any crowd jumping up and down in appreciation of it’s sheer wonderful catchiness! Overall, this EP is a great example of how a band can make themselves a little different in a cluttered genre. Very well done to The 9s.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Review 01/03/10-Various Artists "Home Vol 1"

Band Name: Various Artists
CD Title: Home Volume 1
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: The press pack included was an overview of the origins of this compilation and included hyperlinks to all the artists involved. Very concise and very relaxed, making us feel part of the creation. This less formal approach worked well.
This is a first for ScreamLite Records, an unsigned compilation put out by like-minded musicians for free. Before we get into the review, we’ve got to say this is a fantastic idea, making sure that bands and musicians you know get a new audience, so well played to Snippet and Bob Wotnot, who both feature on this compilation.
“Home,” is described as an assortment of folk, quirky pop and even Latin music from across the world. American, British and even Norwegian bands all feature on this 15 track compilation. It gets off to a beautiful start with “Collecting Skies,” by The Big I Am. Orchestral and folksy all at once, wonderfully produced and incredible in every way, The Big I Am could feature in an old theatre or an intimate folk club gig and not be out of place with their sound being very reminiscent of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds more subdued moments. That is followed by “Maybe In The Holidays,” a burst of electro indie pop from Big Hands Big Hearts. Again, wonderfully produced and brilliantly executed by both vocalists who seem to be having a conversation through their singing, which makes for a great change. Next up, another piece of quirky indie pop, from Norway, “Skipping Down The Street,” by My Little Pony. Very reminiscent of Peter, Bjorn & John, this Oslo based quartet write catchy melody hooks and drench them in happy go lucky synths and folksy guitars, another killer track. Head Of Light Entertainment follow that up with some offbeat leftfield Euro folk with “Lady Godiva’s Horse,” which sounds both like a great 60’s pop band (think Spencer Davis Group) and the kind of folk you get from Mumford & Sons, both upbeat and offbeat all at once. The tempo and mood quietens next up for The Million Stars track, “Small Rain,” a heartfelt folk ballad with orchestral backing. The vocals sound like Cerys Matthews’ later solo work while the guitar is allowed to do enough to keep a steady song while being the basis for the orchestral touches in the foreground. Another outstanding track.
One of the two brains behind the operation, Snippet is up next, with “Man Without Mobile.” Another quirky little number, this starts like it could have been an early 90’s Oasis B-Side, but develops into something far more agreeable as this short track progresses. A Dan Whitehouse track is next, “If I Grow Old.” This track is a remix by Soap Company and this would not go amiss in a TV programme or sports montage to reflect defeat or loss as this track alone sounds moody and meaningful, but is accentuated by the low end piano and remixed vocal line. This track sounds like it should build to one almighty crescendo and does not disappoint with the vocal line hitting a more powerful stride at the end. Dual credit to Dan Whitehouse and Soap Company. That is followed up by Beachy Head Music Club’s, “English Way Of Coping.” Very Beatles-esque in it’s delivery, this slice of quirky pop relies on the narrative vocals explaining the title, which it does very well. Another great selection. Stealing Sheep are up next with “Sleep.” Another female vocalist, and another beautiful song, perfectly put together and well written. Another dose of Theremin (much like our favourite Jerry Afraid) and even xylophone make this both wonderfully childlike and serious all at once, especially with the very end of the track punctuated by giggling and conversation. The other of the two masterminds behind the compilation, Bobby Wotnot, is up after Stealing Sheep with the longest track “Vermillion.” Both folksy and mildly Latin (even with the harp!) Bobby seems settled and calm, which is a trait running throughout this compilation. This is the kind of song that would go down well as a Sunday calmdown after a loud Saturday night with it’s unobtrusive instrumentation and slow tempo. “Have You Seen My Love?” by Bad Dancer is up next and they’ve taken a funkier, early 80’s approach to electro indie with this track. Great tempo and all electronic instrumentation it seems to borrow from both Gary Numan and “Japanese Whispers,” era Cure while throwing in a modern vibe to move proceedings along without compromising on style. Dutchman Wim Oudijk throws another perfectly made piece of quirky pop our way with “Bath.” This track seems particularly quirky, starting out as a variation on elevator music and breaking down into harmonised vocals and swing, this is one hell of a great song.
Mutley follow up with their own folk swing number, “Medusa.” This track seems to want to swing more than anything else, brass section in full flow while the piano keeps a blues swing variation going. But the haunting Theremin (back by popular demand!) seems to take this track into darker realms and makes this seem more like a track pulled out of a 20’s club but made to sound like the club is haunted but it is still a fantastic track. “Get Up,” by Richard O’Flynn is the penultimate track, which reverts back to more traditional folk and brings the tempo back up. This track sounds like it could fit easily on a pop punk record with full band, but just as easily fits right here with it’s acoustic taps and nuances. Finally, Cleemann finishes this epic compilation off with “Ambitious.” Another track with alot of samples, electronic enhancements and remixed beats, this track may be downtempo but has an optimistic tinge to it, making this song more of a grand finish that perhaps others would have been.
Overall, this compilation is mind blowing, combining so many different sounds and textures, Snippet and Bobby Wotnot should be proud of their achievement here.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Review25/02/10- Subgenerates "Demo"

Band Name: Subgenerates
CD Title: Demo
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: Subgenerates sent a link to their demo via email but did include some information about the band. This included contact info and a photo of the band but was very brief. This could have done with being more structured but included all that was needed.
Subgenerates sound like they are firmly planted in the ’77 punk era with their uptempo songs and sneering vocals. The main difference with this and the mass of ’77 era punk bands is that Subgenerates have honed their craft and are not as ragged as many of those forerunners. Subgenerates seem to play like the Sex Pistols but have aspirations to be placed more with the Buzzcocks and even at times bands who were big in the 90’s. The breakdown of “Pacify Me,” has a “Beetlebum,” quality to it and “M.K. Delta,” seems to sound like Graham Coxon’s solo work with a bit more of a bite. The speech samples in this song are well chosen to keep with the track’s tempo and are reminiscent of Holy Bible era Manic Street Preachers. “Mal Wart,” is another thrash through the guitar neck with more snarling vocals and fast beats.
With such a mix of influences in one short demo, Subgenerates could have sounded very cluttered and all over the place. However, they’ve managed to pull off well constructed punk music while their individual influences show through without getting in the way of overall sound. A great effort.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Review 19/02/10-The Appreciation Post "Work/Sleep"


Band Name: The Appreciation Post (http://theappreciationpost.bandcamp.com)

CD Title: Work/Sleep

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This EP was a free download from Myspace.

“Work/Sleep,” starts with a bang and seems to continue in a similar vein throughout. The Appreciation Post are moulded in the Army Of Freshmen/Starting Line image and play very similar music to the aforementioned bands. The music has a great beat and the synth nuances are very well placed in the overall scheme of things in each song. The mix is perfect, making sure that every instrument knows it’s place and that the vocals are just a little bit above the music, not detracting from the song. “No Songs Is Good Songs,” is the first sign of dynamic with it’s slightly slower tempo and more muted instrumentation which really throws The Appreciation Post into the mire of pop punk bands from the US, which is a shame for a band who clearly have worked hard at trying to make themselves a little bit different by using the synth.

However, it’s when we hit “Fear Of Loss,” when things really start to kick up a notch. This song begins like something the Lostprophets would put out as the first single from their next album while retaining enough of The Appreciation Post to not be too overbearing after the slightly “pop punk by numbers” early tracks. It seems to have a new quality which will take the band a bit further in an already clogged up genre. While The Appreciation Post should not forget their pop punk roots, it may be a good idea for them to add a track or 2 more like “Fear Of Loss,” to their repertoire just to gain a little bit more attention.

Review 19/02/10- Antidotes "Adventures Close To Home"


Band Name: Antidotes

CD Title: Adventures Close To Home

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This does not include a press pack as it was a free download via Myspace.

Antidotes are plying their trade in the kind of math rock genre that made Foals popular and they pull it off very well. The guitars are constantly vying for you attention with calculated and well structured riffs and solos, though they do sometimes miss the odd note which is down to the amount going on rather than the guitarist’s playing. The mix is pitched well between pure noise and glossy over production which continues on with the math rock influence. “Football Is A Sport,” is a particularly well executed instrumental track to start off the EP, while “George, Tell Me About The 80’s,” is played at the perfect speed to not over complicate matters like the other 2 tracks have a tendency to do.

Antidotes have pitched themselves in the kind of genre which goes down well with the current indie student crowd and they execute their songs with the kind of vigour and joy that would make this genre more accessible to everyone.

Review 18/02/10-Laceration "Disfigure, Devoured, Forgotten EP"


Band Name: Laceration

CD Title: Disfigured, Devoured, Forgotten EP

Press Pack Included: No

Review: This was a free download via Myspace.

Now, we don’t claim to be experts on death metal, but this is one hell of a fine example! Laceration have put three tracks together which combine the core elements of thrash, black and death metal to make one great cacophony of noise. The three tracks go together to create the EP’s title and each song intends to create both atmosphere and pure adrenaline to show that this band are not just death metal. Some of the guitar work is faintly reminiscent of “Kill ‘Em All,” era Metallica, while the overdubs are taken both from the best that Cradle Of Filth had to offer (before they got “big”... supposedly) and, somewhat strangely, computer games. It may just be us but the synth style overdub in “Devoured,” sounds a bit like Bowser’s Castle from Mariokart 64!

All in all, this a prime example of the more extreme aspects of metal at their very finest, and despite the niche market, Laceration can easily find their core audience to be a rather large one.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Review 17/02/10- Gloucester Road "You're Not Mine"

Band Name: Gloucester Road
CD Title: You’re Not Mine
Press Pack Included: No
Review: The band sent this album in the post and included a covering letter which was forward and to the point, clearing up one or two confusions along the way. Well constructed covering letter.
Gloucester Road who have obviously worked hard on their sound and their mixing as this album is mixed in such a way it would be able to compete with the big guns in their genre. From the start to finish, this album is laden with balladry and beautiful vocal interplay. Tracks such as “Drivin’,” and “A Different Kind Of Love,” demonstrate a slight leaning toward the Red Hot Chili Peppers whereas tracks like “Let’s Go (Featuring Fabiola Melegari)” show how the band can turn the groove on and off for the sake of a beautifully penned and played folk indie ballad. Gloucester Road balance on the edge of pure and wonderful brilliance and being sucked into the void of indie acts out there today. The guitars never stop trying to impress with their constant well constructed riffs and awesome solos while the rhythm section taps out a solid and unobtrusive beat. The record is perfectly mixed and well presented, the guys obviously sparing no expense to get it pressed with full booklet with lyrics, something that many new acts shy away from.
The one slight criticism we would have of “You’re Not Mine,” on the whole is the mid section seems too reliant on balladry. This area could have done with a slightly more dynamic changes to keep the listener on their toes. Having said that, all of the ballads are done with grace and beauty, so it’s nothing to do with the tracks. A brilliant effort by Gloucester Road.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Review 14/02/10- A Is For Armageddon "A Is For Armageddon"

Band Name: A Is For Armageddon
CD Title: A Is For Armageddon
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP does not include a press pack as it was sent direct to the hotmail account. It does however include 1 artistic idea, possibly for a logo or EP cover.
From the opening bar of “Nostalgic In His Youth,” it is clear that A Is For Armageddon are aiming for a very saturated part of the heavy rock market, hints of early Muse show through with the fuzzy, overdriven guitar and the almost constant drum fills. The vocal line is very loud in the mix, almost dwarfing a very basic guitar line which needs something else, whether from another guitar or the bass as it is easily lost in the overall mêlée of sounds here. With the vocal line this high in the mix, it is also clear where the singer is trying to accentuate or lengthen notes, something which often goes awry. It does harken back to the late 70’s but it needs to be on an even keel with the rest of the music in terms of the mix. The mix is again brought into question during “Critical But Stable,” where the layered vocals are too low in the mix, giving the basic guitar lines alot to carry, something which it only does during the breakdown, after having to cope with a small timing fault in the minute or so leading up to it.
A Is For Armageddon obviously have passion and aggression which are good qualities but this is an overall poor effort from the band, something which would not bode well for them if they were to progress. It’s probably a good idea to go back to the desk to polish these 2 songs up.

Review 14/02/10- Step Down "Sonic"

Band Name: Step Down
CD Title: Sonic
Press Pack Included: No
Review: There is no press pack included in with the demo as it has been emailed direct. However, the email does refer to some design work created by one of the band.
“Sonic,” is immediately catchy and beautifully mixed, with the opening guitar parts sounding like The Cure circa 1979 and the vocals taking on a powerful yet pained role in the mix. The band play with dynamic structures brilliantly, allowing the song to build at a pace but subside regularly to give the listener the chance to calm down in the lulls before getting back up again for the chorus’ in particular. Once the song has built to a suitable pace and volume, the band throw in some more Cure-esque moments with the lead guitar playing complex sounding riffs drenched in a great echo/reverb effect. The guitar solo is also wonderfully executed and crafted in such a way that does not detract from the whole band sound, the drums pounding out a great beat and the bass intertwining with the lead guitar on more than one occasion.
This one song, if it serves as what this band can do, shows how great some of the talent out there is and Step Down can be considered as one of the best unsigned acts to come to us so far, up there with Al Baker and Rockburn.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Review 05/02/10- Heart Of The Sun "My Media"

Band Name: Heart Of The Sun
CD Title: My Media
Press Pack Included: No
Review: No press pack as band emailed track directly.
At the start of the track, the immediate concern is that this is another indie band trying hard to get themselves noticed in a world where the Arctic Monkeys are king. However, this presupposition is blow straight out of the water by catchy guitar riffs and a funky bass hook. The band still has it’s indie roots and credentials but they’ve brought a modern funk to the song, reminiscent of “Guitar” by His Purpleness Prince. The vocals are a bit lower in the mix than they deserve to be, but they do the singer justice, really showing how powerful he likes it. There is also lyrical repetition which will give any crowd something to chant along with the band, making them an instant hit with a slightly tipsy rabble at a good indie club. This is also another one of those tracks that could easily fit in with the likes of “Ruby,” and “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” in a indie club DJ setlist.
Despite the brilliance of the track, it seems a shame that there isn’t any more to listen to. The band maybe being coy and teasing us but it may have been better to shoot more stuff over to show their full and true potential. There is also one slight mixing problem at the end of the track where it cuts off with a pop, but that’s nothing a 5 minute studio rearrange won’t cure. Overall, great track, good band and big things may one day be theirs.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Review 04/02/10- The Joy Formidable "Greyhound In The Slips"

Band Name: The Joy Formidable
CD Title: Greyhound In The Slips
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This song did not include a press pack as it is a free download offered by the band via their Myspace.
“Greyhound In The Slips” is the latest single from The Joy Formidable, a Welsh trio who are on the cusp of supporting The Temper Trap in Europe. The band have also got a UK headline tour coming soon. This song is a tour de force of pounding bass and haunting vocals from both singers, the male vocals by Paul Draper of Mansun. This is very well put together as a song, there are dynamic shifts and some well placed nuiances in the mix, such as the synth hum which continues throughout the song, but is only given a prominent role in the overall mix at certain times. There is something very distinctive about the sound of this band, something which we can’t quite put our finger on. Even the last 30 seconds which have the band fooling around can’t detract from the brilliance of this track, and it shows how much the band are enjoying their music at the moment, a superb effort.

Review 04/02/10- Jerry Afraid "Jerry Afraid EP"

Band Name: Jerry Afraid
CD Title: Jerry Afraid EP
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: The press pack included was short and very plain, but it did include a rough idea of some cover art that Jerry Afraid would like to use in the future along with 2 colour photos of him performing at The Louisiana, Bristol. It does however cover some of the bases, such as contact information and some of the venues that Jerry has played. The pack itself could however be improved with some more detail about his style and maybe some more about the EP itself, but it does give enough of the bare facts to get by.
From the very start of “There You Go,” you get the impression that this is what Radiohead would sound like as a folk band! The almost hypnotic strummed acoustic gives a calming sensation while all around is very well structured chaos. Jerry has somehow done what many bands since the aforementioned Radiohead have tried and failed to do and that is combine traditional guitar and various leftfield instruments such as the prominent Theremin. The vocals are well executed and well mixed which shows the strength in Jerry’s voice alone.
Despite the brilliance throughout of this musical juxtaposition you can sometimes get the sense that if you stripped all the odd instruments away that this would be any normal “one man and guitar” folk project, a path that has been trodden so many times that it would be hard to break through the pack. However, with plans for a full band and the leftfield instruments, this would be one occasion where weird is definitely better.

Review 04/02/10-SubClass "Expect More Casualties EP"

Band Name: SubClass
CD Title: Expect More Casualties EP
Press Pack Included: No
Review: This EP was picked up on Saturday Jan 30th 2010 @ The Cooler, Park St, Bristol. Hence there is no press pack. All information available on the band’s Myspace.
The EP itself if very well designed and eye catching. Great insert which details where the band are from and performs all of the functions of the press pack, giving links and a brief bit of info on the band.
From the opening few bars of “Fallout” it’s clear this band is not afraid to try something different. Through the song they seem to be part Pearl Jam, part Nirvana and part 50’s American high school prom. This is a bold experiment in sounds and genres which unfortunately doesn’t pay off, especially in the bridge where the clash is all too evident. With this track being so important to grab the attention, it may’ve been better to start with “Killer” or “Modern Times.” “Killer” is reminiscent of “The Riverboat Song” by Ocean Colour Scene with it’s well executed guitar riff and pounding drums. This is another genre ticked off in a big way, very heavy indie rock without all the confusion of the first track. Final track “Modern Times” is another heavy indie rock song which gives more dynamic structure than the other 2, much of the song has drums which always seem to be building to a crescendo without ever getting there, keeping up a great tension and atmosphere throughout.
Overall Expect More Casualties EP is 66% great tunes. However, the mood created by the first track could put off any perspective buyers/casual listeners. It would have been good to see something a little more in tune with the last 2 tracks.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Review 31/01/10- The Joe Public "Take It Back"


Band Name: The Joe Public

CD Title: Take It Back

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: Starting with the press pack, it was short but included all of the essential information. The reviews section contained some famous names which will be a tipping point in any negotiations in the future.

The demo sent through was only a single track demo, but this was an unreleased mix of the lead off track of their next EP. “Take It Back” is a typical new indie style song, with a chugging bass line and heavy guitars restrained in the overall mix. The vocals are clear and concise which means that after a few listens we even began to know the words, the sign of a great songwriter. The song may have only been 4 minutes in length but included dynamic changes, which put us very much in mind of Muse.

While this is a good track, it lacks a cutting edge to distinguish it from quite alot of the other bands out there at the current time. We would have liked to have heard more which could have demonstrated this, but because only one track came through, we will make sure to check The Joe Public in future and keep up to date with progress. We would however have preferred to hear some more.

Review 31/01/10- Rockburn "Rockburn"


Band Name: Rockburn

CD Title: Rockburn

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: First off, the press pack included with this CD is very concise and includes all the information needed to make easy contact with the band. The review page is very enlightening, giving us a brief overview of how they’re often labelled. Some of the information regarding where their songs were being played demonstrated their capabilities (Anfield being a particular highlight) and their reach. The photos included showed them both staged and in the middle of performing, making it easy to see how album inserts and promo material would look. The sticker was a much appreciated personal touch.

The demo itself immediately got us dancing, which is a fantastic sign when it comes to a band who are heavily connected with their 70’s blues rock. “Red Dress” had some issues with the sound quality (there seemed to be a muffled hiss throughout-this could be a reproduction issue) but nothing that could not be ignored. The first 2 tracks were typical blues rock stompers with catchy riffs and drum beats. The vocals were raspy and well executed, putting us in mind of a young Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin I/II era) and everything was mixed in equal measure. The final track of the demo “The Last Stop” demonstrated a new dynamic, still classic blues but with country touches, again all mixed beautifully. Despite this being an under-represented genre in the modern alternative rock scene (The White Stripes being the flag carriers for the genre) this still has a sense of the new about it, no bad thing in itself. A modern twist on something as well regarded as 70’s blues rock shows how Rockburn have been creative in their approach.

The presentation of the disc itself could have been a little better, maybe including rough artwork, but overall this is a cracking little demo with a band who already have high expectations with airplay at Parkhead & Anfield (Celtic & Liverpool FC respectively) and thoroughly deserve more.

Review 31/01/10- Al Baker & The Dole Queue "Demo 2008"


Band Name: Al Baker & The Dole Queue

CD Title: Demo 2008

Press Pack Included: Yes

Review: To start with, very impressive press pack. Well written and well presented, including pictures of the band and contact details. Also gave overview of upcoming dates and of what was on the demo, along with coining the genre “Troubacore” which is a stroke of genius!

The demo itself is well recorded and well constructed, Baker and his Dole Queue really showing what they’re worth in terms of raucous energy and spirit, much (and I’m sure they’re heard this) in the Frank Turner/early Jonah Matranga spirit along with more Flogging Molly than Dropkick Murphys. Even with the premise of the first song here “Thank God I’m An Atheist” being about a troubled relationship between a Christian and Atheist, Al Baker et al. don’t try and dilute their sound or raw energy. The vocal interplay between Al and Ali is beautifully executed and well balanced in what could be a very cluttered mix, another factor they avoid with ease. Despite earlier praise for the band not diluting their sound, with an album on the horizon, the band could have included something a little slower, a style which is only briefly eluded to in the intro of “I Won’t Forget You.”

All in all though, a brilliant little package and it’s more than enough to look out for them on tour and get your hands on Al’s solo debut “On The Use Of Jack Boots.”


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