Video :: The Pierces – It Will Not Be Forgotten

Indie femme fatals latest video arrives with a sprinkling of pine fresh scents


The Pierces - You&I © Polydor

With more than a hauntingly familiar nod to the queen of folk/psychedelia rock Stevie Nicks, The Pierces deliver a beautiful, eerie and eco friendly video for their latest single “I Will Not Be Forgotten”

Sisters Catherine and Allison Pierce bring their own brand of new wave infused, indie rock back for a fourth fully fledged album You & I which comes with the rather enviable/laborious subplot of being produced by Coldplay’s Guy Berryman. The single, however, is anything but confusing or ambiguous as the vocal talents, Particularly in their layered, textured ability to enthrall a mighty, choral sound from two very talented women, there is a wonderfully retro-respectful feel to this latest single from the album. Available now for immediate download and viewing pleasure, it comes with a highly touted recommendation.


Check out The Pierces’ tour schedules and further information at their official website: http://www.thepiercesmusic.com

Promo & Album Review :: Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

“nearly makes it, but slips on more than the last hurdle…”

There are big, big boots to fill when it comes to writing a primarily acoustic-guitar based record. Let us not beat about the bush: if you are going down that path, something else is needed to carry the album through it’s ten or dozen or however many tracks without it lagging. Some succeed, most fail. Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s debut full length Last Smoke Before the Sun nearly makes it, but slips on more than the last hurdle.

The release of this full length, today incidentally, was rather anticipated amongst those who have heard of this chap. After the charmingly disparate A Million Miles Out EP of late 2010, featuring the brilliant Atlas Hands, Last Smoke Before the Sun seems a bit too polished, clean and worked on. Don’t get me wrong. I was not expecting Lua or Angeles, but unfortunately comparisons can’t not be made.

The record opens with Pictures, released back in March. For a new listener you’ll think “yeah, it’s nice…”; as an opener, it doesn’t grip you but more dulls the senses with it’s repetition and monotony. For all that though, it is a cute song for all the first-loves and rightly followed by the ‘lovely’ Box of Stones. By the end of this one though, if you’re attention is not wavering and the record isn’t slipping into background noise, 1904 will most certainly do that for you.

That lagging mentioned earlier is rectified by Atlas Hands, a Ben Gibbard-esque take on lost love with a couple of charming lines and cutesy finger picking going on (YouTube). However when this is over the album slips back in to its musical equivalent of trudging through snow until half been picked up by the waiting-to-be-used-in-The-fuckin-OC Shine. At this point, you may as well turn the record off.

So what is there to say? It isn’t a bad record, but Leftwich exhibits an inflexible approach which is exacerbated by most tracks been produced too cleanly. Lyrically the chap is decent and wears his heart on his sleeve but this is not reflected within the instrumentation of the tracks themselves. Which is a real shame. The 2010 and 2011 EPs were spot on, but scaled up to a full length record? No, it doesn’t quite have that something else…


Website | HMV (Signed Copies @ £7.99)

Promo :: The Blanks (UK Tour)

Making A Capella Cool Again

After a successful trip to the UK earlier in the year, The Blanks are back for another short run of shows. Better known as “Ted’s Band” from, hit TV show, Scrubs, the quartet aim to make a capella cool again. Sam Lloyd – who played ‘Ted Buckland’ on the American hospital comedy – Paul F. Perry, George Miserlis and Phillip McNiven deliver a night of music and comedy for all the family.

If four guys singing a capella (with a bit of ukulele and some ‘talking toys’ thrown in for good measure) and performing comedy sketches sounds like your kind of thing, you can catch The Blanks on their remaining UK dates:

  • June 21st – Highlight, Portsmouth
  • Jun2 22nd – Sub89, Reading
  • June 23rd – Moho Live, Manchester
  • June 24th – Sub91, Leicester
  • June 25th – Student Union (Graduation Ball), Dundee
  • June 26th – Apollo23, Glasgow

Album Review :: Nerina Pallot – Year of the Wolf

Pop Rock STILL looks good


Nerina Pallot - Year of the Wolf © Geffen Records

Following from the release of the first single “Put Your Hands Up”, Nerina Pallot’s eagerly anticipated fourth album has at last arrived despite delay. Year of the Wolf follows on from the strong potential that “Put Your Hands Up” promised, the added bonus of the gleaming production values and specifically aimed lyrics and harmonies that only big record labels like Geffen can create.


As previewed in May here on Moon&Back Music, Nerina Pallot has become one of the most underrated although established pop rock femme fatales in the music industry today. With her charismatically soft vocals tempering the often thrashing, almost maelstrom like rock piece behind her, Pallot has established a wonderful balance between delicacy and strength. Two stereotypically stalwart characteristics of supposed “pop rock”, the term itself somewhat of an unhappy juxtaposition, Pallot has the ability, and now track record to prove it, that there is indeed the possibility of breathing some creative and enjoyable life into this dying horse.

It is with a rather cynically smug attitude then that Year of the Wolf fulfils the expectation that the single “Put Your Hands Up” was a rather unfair and typically mass appeal effort of a single and not a fair reflection of the artist. With an almost unrecognisably different sound to the aforementioned single, Year of the Wolf delivers much more of the bitter/sweet, almost folk infused rock soft enough for mothers to enjoy that has been a staple of Pallot’s rise.

With tracks like “Grace,” “All Bets are Off” and “This Will Be Our Year” the agonisingly adorable voice of Pallot is measured, calculated and immaculately executed to make even the most cynical of listeners crack a little smile. Lyrically, Pallot weaves a magical and intricate storytelling ability to the most famous of pop subjects, facing adversity, lost love and the rise and rise of her own stardom. Indeed if such overly sugared topics are ever to be heard then they should be from the confident but still brutally fragile tones of Nerina Pallot.

To justify the tag of pop rock, the riff heavy tracks “I Do Not Want What I Do Not Have” and “I think”, the later even including a purposely “generic electric guitar 1” produced solo that would not sound out of place on a 1970s kids TV show about the future effects of global warming. Yet there seems to be an infectious, strangely satisfying softness to these tracks that make the listener smile once more, tapping their feet to the audio friendly drums and percussion.

Year of the Wolf is the album that fans of Nerina Pallot have been expecting. With nothing vastly different to her previous work, although the artist herself claims that this was her hardest album yet due to the adverse effects of pregnancy, the album is a satisfying, if a little flat addition to her growing discography.

Not to be confused as a classic or genre defining piece of work Year of the Wolf is an album that deserves any credit that it attains. For easy listening, beer garden on a warm afternoon background music then it is doubtful that any other album released this summer will match it. The easy on the ears lyrics and soothingly slow pace of the album as a whole make it the perfect compliment to a British summer by Nerina Pallot arguably the undisputed beauty queen of pop rock.

Jonathan Whitelaw


For tour dates, availability and everything else Nerina Pallot check out her website: http://www.nerinapallot.com

Advanced Single Review :: Nerina Pallot – Put Your Hands Up

Pop Rock has never looked so good


Nerina Pallot - Put Your Hands Up © Geffen

Released on Monday 23rd of May ahead of her much anticipated album Year of the Wolf in June, Nerina Pallot’s new single “Put Your Hands Up” signals the dawn of the summer with a smoky voiced, feel good track to kick off the sunshine months.


Finding the balance between fragility and strength is an often daunting and often mis-cued trait for most recording artists. Aim for delicacy too much and you can come across as soft, border lining on the frankly feckless and far too weak. Go the other way and the tendency for audiences is to bracket you in as an over rambunctious, deliberately obtuse and unnecessary publicity hound. Far too often have these unfair tags and labels been applied to artists who were frankly undeserving of them.

It has thus fallen to another young female vocalist to venture her name, and reputation, into the fray that is pop rock, a genre that has altogether been blighted in recent years as the mediocre stomping ground for the even more mediocre. Indeed it would seem that any artist who is not clad in festering meat or leering at beautiful women from the confines of their Lamborghinis and decadent, mirror surrounded nightclubs, has been sucked down the plughole into the depths of “popular” rock.

With a little trepidation then, Pallot’s latest venture into this market, her fourth fully fledged album since 2001 on her fifth different label in that decade, should be regarded as a whole as the sound of an artist finally getting recognition of her hard work and obvious talents. “Put Your Hands Up” is an enjoyable, toe tapping and more importantly fun song that deserves its place amongst the millions of so called “non music aficionados” iPods and radios. For those listeners perhaps more used to a little more substance from both Pallot and their music then it will not be found here. A little drab and altogether two dimensional, “Put Your Hands Up” feels like the type of song designed merely to get a foot in the door. Whether it does or not remains to be seen of course.

In all the very beautiful Nerina Pallot is a singer/songwriter that deserves much more credit and recognition than she gets. Her adorably brandy flavoured voice and multi-instrumental talents shine much brighter than this single could ever fully demonstrate. But, with the imminent arrival of the fabulous sounding Year of the Wolf delayed until June 13th, it will be interesting and intoxicatingly intriguing to see where this talented woman takes herself and fans next.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Avilibility of the single and album and subsequent tour dates can be found on Nerina’s official website: http://www.nerinapallot.com/

EP Review :: Rival Sons – Rival Sons

Forgotten how to rock? Take two of these and see me in the morning.


Rival Sons

Southern California is a rich and affluent corner of the world when it comes to music. Whether that be from the hazy, psychedelic days of The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash or The Eagles to harder acts like Guns N Roses by way of The Beach Boys, this sun kissed haven of beach bodies, glitzy showbiz phonies and Pacific ocean breezes offers up another fresh bunch of vocalised young men. Ladies and Gentlemen, you are introduced to Rival Sons.


Having spent the past three years paying their dues in the clubs and bars of SoCal, a relatively tradition route into the business that is often overlooked and bypassed in the modern, digital era. This retro, non kitch, throwback is in perfect keeping with the style, harmony and even subject matter of the Rival Sons, a hard rocking, hard working American band with a wonderful sound and penchant for their audience.

Fronted by impassioned Jay Buchanan who’s smooth whiskey vocals sound like their fuelled by passion and velvet smoke, this four piece band are a refreshing breath of fresh Marlborough air in the modern, hard rock era. Their self titled debut EP displays amply what this group can go on to achieve if given the opportunity.

Starting with the high tempo, in your face, full frontal nudity tracks, “Get What’s Coming” and “Torture” lead guitarist Scott Holiday smashes his way into the listener’s head whether they like it or not. With hard hitting, pulsing riffs and hooks, the distortion of his amp and ability to turn a grinding, down and dirty strum into the delicate, almost ghostly solo on “Get What’s Coming” dance eloquently with Buchanan’s vocals.

With a Bonham esque drum intro from skin slammer Michael Miley kicks of the third track “Radio” as Holiday’s fret flicking finger dancing crashes through the walls and into the fore. A percussion heavy track, bassist Robin Everhart provides a temporal spine in which the all out action, wild vocals and at points experimental sound of the track fly recklessly around his solid, steady performance.

In quiet contrast, “Sacred Tongue” is an acoustic, southern charmed song that oozes the passion and ability that Rival Sons possess. This, coupled with the crescendo bursting, ear drum thrashing final tracks “Sleepwalker” and “Soul” stand as a considerable, comprisable and compelling introduction to this classic rock inspired four piece.

There is wonderfully energetic and inspiring comparisons to classic and hard rock giants of a by gone era to be found in the music of Rival Sons. Led Zeppelin, The Eagles and even the cockney charm of Thunder can be heard in their music. As the media proclaims that Rock is dead and pop is the new Queen(?) it is warming and compelling to know that there are still artists out there unashamed to grab a beer, hook up a stack and let her rip. Rival Sons will be touring with Judas Priest on their UK tour throughout July.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Tour dates, info and album availability are available at the band’s official website: www.rivalsons.com

Promo :: Austin Lucas UK/European Tour

After the release of A New Home In The Old World, Austin Lucas is heading out to tour the UK and Europe once again. I know for a fact that Austin loves playing European shows, so anyone who heads to one of these is in for a treat. Joining Austin on all of the below dates is Digger Barnes. A regular member of Chuck Ragan’s band, Barnes has also released his own solo material in the form of Time Has Come and a two 7″ records.

Having seen Austin live a couple of times, I know that you won’t walk away disappointed. So please go and check out a show if he’s playing near you. The UK dates are a little sparse, but I know he’d do more if he could. Check out the dates below.


May

3rd –  Hannover @ Chez Heinz
4th – Wiesbaden @ Schlachthof
5th – Aachen @ AZ
6th – Brighton @ Prince Albert
7th – Leeds @ Santiago’s
8th – Brixton @ Windmill
9th – Paris @ Espace B
10th –  Laussane, CH @ Espace Autogere
11th – Freiburg @ Swamp
12th – Stuttgart – Club Zwölfzehn
13th – Cologne @ Underground
14th –  Helsinki @ Bar Loose
15th – Berlin @ Lovelite
16th –  Schweinfurt @ Alter Stattbahnhof
17th –  Dresden @ Ostpol
18th –  A Vienna – Fluc Wanne
19th –  Budapest @ A38
20th – Prague @ Studio Rubin
21st – Chemnitz @ Pyro Catharsis
22nd – Bremen @ G18
23rd – Hamburg @ Molotow

It’ll be a shame if you can’t make it. If only he knew two awesome guys that could put together a little ‘tour documentary’ for those three UK dates…

Gig Review :: Tiger Please, O2 Academy Birmingham

Put U2, The Killers, Kings of Leon, a tiny dab of Mumford and Sons and Explosions In The Sky in a room together, and you’re probably about 90% of the way to Tiger Please’s sound. You’ve probably heard it somewhere before – that strange mix of Indie Rock with an ambient feel. Ironically, they list their influences as a few of the above – and I wrote that before even checking their band page out. Awesome.

Signed to Walnut Tree Records, the band have played Download and Sonisphere festivals, and supported the likes of InMe, Kids In Glass Houses and most recently, Funeral For A Friend – must be a Welsh thing. I’m aware that InMe aren’t Welsh, before anybody says anything.  Their EP “Seasons” became available in 2010, a year after “They Don’t Change Under Moonlight,” an album with almost as many interludes as full tracks. There may be a reason behind this – the music that Tiger Please write seems to flow freely, rather than following a set path – the physical content of the music seems less important, and it’s easy to get lost in conversation with Leon Stanford’s broken voice (particularly in City Lights,) somewhat reminiscent of Damien Rice – it’s a tangle of soaring arpeggios, meant-to-be-vocal-harmonies and sharp-edged, no-bollocks, honest production, akin to the likes of Kings of Leon’s Aha Shake Heartbreak.

I’ll be blunt – they tried  too hard. Getting a crowd to not hurl abuse at you is an achievement when you’re a second support band that sound almost nothing like the main event, but to try and get them singing along two songs in a row is a little futile, if you ask me. It’s a shame – musically, the band were fantastic – not something I’d get up and go crazy to, granted, but they were far from out of practice, and during Stanford’s big vocal sections (particularly during Spring And Its Offering,) it’s hard to look away when you’re driven by a voice capable of both beautiful hurt and burning passion. You just – believe every word he says. You just didn’t want to sing along, in this instance. Good band, wrong crowd, and they should have let their music do the talking.

Right now, they’re the nation’s diamond in the sand – a band that are happy to meet their fans and provide a sound that combines the epic and the honest like bacon goes with eggs. I can say, without doubt, it’s only a matter of time until these guys are huge – but until then – enjoy the dirty little secret that is Tiger Please.

Advanced Album Review :: Delta Maid – Outside Looking In

Prepare yourselves for the next big Blues thing


Delta Maid

Delta Maid

Having appeared here recently on Moon & Back Music with a unique and enchanting cover of The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” the anthem of a thousand misspent hours on FIFA 11! She is, of course much more than simply a popularity jockey, much, much more. In fact she could very well be one of the biggest indie acts in Britain before the year is at an end.


The monumentally strong positive vibe around Delta Maid is something that is emphatically enjoyable and refreshing in the modern era of music. Hailing from the musically rich shores of the Mersey in Liverpool, there must be something in the water there, this young, blonde, blues-woman has been touring the length and breadth of the country with her vivaciously jolly, upbeat and most importantly traditional take on delta and blues rock.

So, with great pleasure, M&B can present an advanced preview of her upcoming debut album, Outside Looking In released on the 9th of May. Acting as what will surely be a massive springboard for the commercial success of this young artist, Outside Looking In is fine example of what, how, where, why and when a debut album of a musically conscious act should release in this topsy-turvy world of music.

A country and blues album first and foremost, the album debuts with “Broken Branches,” a softly spoken, lightly finger plucked blues based track that shines a wonderfully warm and welcoming summer’s glow on the rest of the album. The southpaw, southern charms of Delta continue through “Spend a Little Time,” “Running on Empty” and “All I Dreamed” each a masterfully crafted arc of mild bourbon flavoured country that can’t help but make even the hardest of listener’s foot tap gently.

The titular track acts as vague interval between the separate parts of the album, a track very much in the vein of Patsy Cline. By her own admission, Delta is heavily influenced by Cline and her ilk, a fact that is very prominent throughout the duration the album. Although many have attempted to recreate the soulfully rich and lamentably spiritual qualities of the rockabilly and honky-tonk queen, very few have ever succeeded. Of course it would be foolish to say that Delta Maid is the next in line to the throne but it would not be a far stretch of imagination to see it perhaps in the future.

A wonderful boiling pot of variance, both in tempo and genre, Outside Looking In is thirteen tracks of diverse, lovingly crafted songs that seemingly offers a great deal to a lot of people. From the high tempo, borderline indie pop tracks like “Of My Own” and “Back the Last Horse,” Pretenders fans will find great comfort and pleasure in these electrocuted, beat intensive tracks.

In comparison, Delta Maid breaks the hearts of the listeners, quite literally with the soul founded, almost scarring tragedies like “Dance With my Broken Heart.” “Footprints” also follows in this vein, her musical and vocal range abilities more than displayed and vaunted for the benefit of her audience.

In all Outside Looking In is an album of great depth and talent. This, in theory, should act as nothing more than accelerating catalysts for a young woman on the cusp of a fabulous career. As is often the case, however, this may not in fact BE the case. With the frankly tempest like atmosphere that surrounds the industry at the moment, a fine line exists between success and failure, regardless of ability. Let us all hope then that Delta Maid is a name that will be more than welcomed in venues radios and downloads for many years to come.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Outside Looking In is availible from the 9th of May, 2011. Check out Delta’s official site for furtehr details, touring dates etc : http://www.myspace.com/deltamaid

Single Review :: Some Kind Of Leader – Changer

A new Welsh Indie outfit are ready for your ears.


Some Kind of Leader

Are there any more over used terms in modern music than “electro”, “indie” and “rock”. Save for the overtly peculiar and frankly self indulgent “eurodance” of Lady GaGa, these three loosely fitting genre types cling to bands like the saggy, frowning trousers of children’s entertainers or Party Clowns to the uneducated. Yet the latest Cardiff based group, Some Kind of Leader, have taken a bold step forward and branded themselves as the triple crown of vulgar mediocrity.


Hailing from the shiny Welsh metropolis of Cardiff, Some Kind of Leader are seeking to make their own mark on the music scene the same way as their national brethren Stereophonics and Catatonia have done before them. Currently unsigned, this aspiring four piece have set about the challenge of conquering a small piece of the overcrowded market with enjoyable, if a little shallow, music.

Their most recent single offering, “Changer” is a lethargic, mid tempo indie number that performs well as background music for any and all occasions. This should not be misconstrued necessarily as a bad thing, after all Dire Straits and The Eagles both started as entertainment, party/pub bands who were more there for dressing than performance.

Musically and professionally, “Changer” is sound, as is the performance of the confidently quiet members of the group. The lead vocals of Ali Price acts as a tame overlord to the cymbal heavy drumming of the wonderfully Welsh sounding Gareth Davies. It is his percussion partner Matt Blumberg who steals the show however as the constant heartbeat of the track and evident talent as a fret board master are given their due respect and time to shine on the track. Guitarist Leon Hartley also deserves more than a nod as his specifically Indie sounding strumming are capable and unnoticeable competence.

In all, “Changer” serves as a fairly bog standard introduction for yet another indie band trying desperately to make a mark and name for themselves. Regardless of scale of ambition, Some Kind of Leader have some hard work and endeavor ahead of them, a fact that they are no doubt aware of. A point of interest would be some of their other work, notably, “In Our Best Interests,” which acsts much better as a broader spectrum and representation of the group’s ability, ambition and musical direction.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Check out the band’s official website here: http://www.myspace.com/somekindofleader