Album Review :: Brett Detar – Bird in the Tangle

Grab your stetson and lasso and let them wagons roll as Brett Detar takes us out into the wide blue yonder for some camp fire classics


Brett Detar

Bird in the Tangle © Brett Detar

Contrary to the less than profound and heart-warmingly cutesy-poo blurb above, Brett Detar’s Bird in the Tangle is not a saturated, Malborough Man oriented country album. Instead Detar’s obvious talents, and love for a genre that has often been at the butt end of jokes for its over romanticized notions, are lent more towards a deliciously sinister and vibrantly honest approach to country music.


With a career that is deceptively longer than his 32 years would suggest, Brett Detar’s musical journey has seen him helm and participate in a number of bands such as Pensive and Zao in the later half of the 1990s. It was not until he formed a side-project with fellow musicians Chad Alan, Joshua Fiedler, Neil Hebrank, and Jeremiah Momper forming The Juliana Theory that Detar would find stability in his musical direction. Touring and recording material for nine years up until 2006 with a spate of recent reunion shows having taken place in August of this year.

With this vast musical resume behind him, Detar now ventures into the solo artist world. Since the breakup of The Juliana Project, Detar amassed a number of songs from his every day dealings and with the financial backing and time ready to dedicate to such a project, Bird in the Tangle is the end result.

The album opens with a trio of vastly different and highly enjoyable country numbers; “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “The Devil’s Gotta’ Earn,” and “It’s Only the Night” a hauntingly serene ode to the long gone, misty eyed past of the old west debauchery and lament. These opening tracks have a wonderfully gifted infusion of alternative country mixed with traditional slide and guitar techniques normally associated with this type of music. However, Detar’s lonesome vocals give a 21st century indie feel to the overall concept and subject matters.

“Coasts,” and “Cocaine Whiskey and Heroin” are much more upbeat, enjoyable ventures into Bluegrass and Americana anthems. The latter of which is a wonderful pseudo lament to the foibles of the human condition, a vague warning that the vices and enjoyment of dizzying highs can be all too much for one person to endure. It’s up tempo and toe tapping optimism however flashes a roguish wink to the listener and audience that it might not all be bad.

Closing the album are a trio of sinister sounding, raspingly vocal tracks shine as wonderful examples of Detar’s passion and raw musical ability leant to a 21st century twist on country music. “We’re Broken but we’ll Never Be Alone,” and the final track “This World aint got Nothing” are two microcosms of Detar’s sound and ambience the artist has created for himself and listeners.

Although this frankly realistic and post post modern take on a genre littered with self detaching clichés is refreshingly honest, Bird on the Tangle tends to let itself down a little on the originality front. Standing at an adventurous eleven tracks long there is a stark sense of repetition when it comes to both subject matter and delivery of tone, vocal and musical arrangement. The tracks “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “Caged Bird” and “This World aint got Nothing,” all have the same slow, lethargic pace that feels all to familiar by the time the album closes. This is of course a staple of the Country and Americana genres but to be placed on a debut album does not entirely encourage listeners to pursue further avenues.

The album on a whole however is a very enjoyable and interesting twist on a scene that can be often overlooked as being a serious and inspiring collection of artists and work. Too often is the country genre associated with the rose tinted spectacles of Kenny Baker, Dolly Parton and Glen Campell, each with their crotch hugging, bra bursting rhinestone outfits and perfectly permed hair leering at us from the stage singing about dead dogs. Bird in the Tangle is a much more realistic, deeply brooding album filled with eclectic and indolent tracks that would be more at place amongst the dysentery riddled high plains. Indeed this is an album more suited to 2011’s “True Grit” audience than the 1969 version.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The album is available for a short period of time on free download via the official site. This is also home to all the usual tour, bio, discography and album sales information: http://www.brettdetar.com/

Going Underground :: Hans Island

It was inevitable. Sooner or later it was going to happen. I’m doing this weeks segment of Going Underground on an indie band, Hans Island. I know, shocking.

Apart from being named after the smallest of a section of three islands, you can tell from first listen that Hans Island clearly have a sound that could make a big impact. Though yes, it is ‘indie rock’, it is accessible and they all do have those weird boffy haircuts that so many of the kids these days seem to dig so much, there is definitely something special here – something that makes someone like myself want to write about them.



Despite all the mainstream factors, which by all means, if you enjoy, go ahead, the band have another side to the music. Its a rawness that almost borderlines on a grunge-esque sound, especially on songs such as Give Over and The Murphy Incident. The latter of the two tracks being highly reminiscent of the Foo Fighters in their earlier days.

I think the main thing that is interesting about Hans Island is that is difficult to put your finger on exactly where their niche lies. They seem to have been influenced by such an abundance of different genres, and unlike so many other bands, this is shown in such a transient way it feels almost as natural as morning wood.

The boys from the Hans get 4/5 brews. It’d be 5, but they are technically still a ‘indie’ band. I have my principles, damnit!



The band will be releasing their single You’ve Been Told on the 8th of November 2010. It will be available via iTunes, Amazon, Play.com, Tesco, 7digital, We7, Napster and some other places too.

You can find details on the album release party – where you can pick up a special limited edition copy of the single – here.

You can also listen to their debut EP on Facebook

Going Underground :: Doll & The Kicks

© Emma Stone Photography

“You’ll be hard pressed to find a better live band right now”

Going Underground has tended to be the realm of Mr. Critchley and local punk bands. Not that I have anything against either of them, but I’m here to broaden your musical palette with a band that are bound to have you dancing and singing along in no time…Doll & The Kicks.


Their unique sound and elaborate, high energy, performances have made the Brighton based foursome one of the must see bands of the past few years. Their unique brand of danceable, punk infused, pop has captured the attention of music lovers around the world, now they’re back gracing stages across the UK and Europe until the end of November.

Having missed the majority of their set in Manchester earlier this month, I caught them in Leeds on Monday and was, once again, blown away. I must’ve seen them live five times now, each show better than the last. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better live band right now.

These guys are bound for big things and rightly so. Be sure to catch them on one of the following dates:

Sneaky Pete’s – Edinburgh – Oct. 7th

The Classic Grand – Edinburgh – Oct. 8th

The Flapper – Birmingham – Oct. 9th

Hoxton Bar & Kitchen – London – Oct. 13th

The Kraken Wakes – Portsmouth – Oct. 14th

Louisiana – Bristol – Oct 15th

The band’s new double-A side single ‘Skeletons/The First Time’ was released on September 20th and it’s bloody brilliant! You can order a physical copy for some bonus track goodness, or download it on iTunes. For more songs, dates and to buy t-shirts and whatnot check out their MySpace page. Also be sure to check out Emma Stone’s other photos from the Leeds show here.

Ska & Pop-Punk Promo :: Fighting Evil is Cool!

Closing the record is Brain Salad, a zombie anthem with the chant “what do we want? we want brains, brains, brains.”


The thing with local bands is that there’s so many of them. Pretty much all are shit. But occasionally one of them, despite not ‘making it big’ or what-not, seem to stick together because they seem to just have so much fun. Half Man Half Biscuit spring to mind. Another one, is Fighting Evil is Cool!. It’s not just the fact that there’s cutesy four-chord riffs and a trumpet that makes you realise that here is a band not doing it because they want to be the next NME-cover fuck-wits, but that they’re doing it for the shits and giggles. And that’s something no review is ever gonna convey really, but we’ll try for the craic.

Quintet ska-punk outfit Fighting Evil is Cool! hail from Derby way. They sound like what The Sprites and The Zutons would if they co-wrote an album. There’s a trumpet, a kazoo gets brought in given half an opportunity, and there’s songs about hobos, satanists, zombies and giant monsters. I know of well established ska bands that don’t do what these guys do half as well. So what is it they do?

They’re a band you’d stumble upon playing a back-room in a pub and end up, ten pints later, £30 quid down and alot of skanking later, dancing with complete strangers thinking they’re your best mates. They’re a band you’d remember with fond memories a couple months down the line and go “yea, that was a wicked night”. They’re young and energetic and a little bit geeky.

So, highlights of the debut? Baron Nagant features the kazoo previously mentioned, has really fantastic progression and catchy hooks: it’s a sweetly made pop song. Dave gets a little bit more punky and Go On Get Wasted has gotta be up there in a dual with Titus Andronicus’ Theme From Cheers for the coveted title of Drinking Song of 2010. Closing the record is Brain Salad, a zombie anthem with the chant “what do we want? we want brains, brains, brains.”

Simply put: if you’re into ska and bouncy songs, check ’em out. You’ll find something you like. If they’re gigging in your area, go. I bet they’re wicked fun live.

MySpace | Facebook

Going Underground :: Special Agent Set

©2010 Adam Higgins

What Would Joe Barlow Do?

Has it really been 2, 3 or 4 weeks since the last Going Underground? I don’t know or care, and neither should you. Today we show the world the wonderful Special Agent Set, fronted by a handsome man named Joe Barlow (no relation to Moon & Back’s own Barlow).

I always find it extra peculiar when good music comes from a giant toilet like Bolton, but Special Agent Set are definitely something special. Sounding like they should have been on Punk-O-Rama 3, their sound is of true pop-punk. They don’t bend to fit into a cliche, Fall Out Boy-esque, style like so many others. This is a thinking punks band, not music for 14 year old girls who wanna donk the drummer. Think Hot Water Music. Think Lawrence Arms. Think Belvedere. Think fucking awesome!

The band have just finished recording their album, which is due for the release in the next month or so, so look out for that! Also there is an acoustic E.P available on their BandCamp page.

I give Special Agent set 4/5 special brews, they’ll get an extra point when they enlist me as their front man.


Special Agent Set are opening for the Get up Kids at the Dog and Partridge this Thursday (26/08/10). Details can be found in the link below:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=136525733043308&ref=ts#!/event.php?eid=136525733043308&ref=ts

You can also check them out on MySpace

Going Underground :: Well Wisher

This weeks musical cavaliers are, Manchester-based, Well Wisher.

I first heard of the band Well Wisher, working with vocalist Michael Cahill who, in his eternal drunken wisdom, once imparted on me a piece of advice I will take to the grave:

“People need to realise to early 90’s emo music was the best kind of music ever and just start listening to it again.”


It was something along those lines, anyway. This band is exactly that; ‘Emo’ music at it’s best. Reminiscent of sounds before the My Chemical Romancers, before Jessie Lacey and before TBS lost John Nolan and became audio diarrhea.

Well Wisher’s greatest strength isn’t on record, (not that the recorded stuff isn’t wicked!) but during their live shows. They have such an incredible dynamic, you’d think watching Black Flag was a laid back gig. There is humour, great audience interaction and such raw energy in every members enthusiasm for the music they play, not to mention some D.I.Y stunts throughout the set.

Luckily, and the reason this has come out a little earlier than planned, WW are playing at the Oxford this Thursday 29/07/2010 along with half a dozen other awesome bands. No words I write could describe just how cool it is to watch this band play, you can only truly believe it first hand. With such great live sets and an upcoming E.P (which the band aim to have out by late August, if any band was gonna bring back a music scene that truly deserves reviving, Well Wisher are your men.

I give them 5/5 Special Brews, with bonus points for being so damn old school.


Details of Thursdays gig can be found via this link:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=126357054069516&index=1

You can listen to Well Wisher via their Myspace which can be found at:

http://www.myspace.com/wellwisher10

Going Underground :: Above Them

With a minimum of bands to bother (probably due to festival season) I’ve slowly found my clarification for existence slipping away, so decided to start ‘Going Underground’ — A cliché-named segment to promote wicked music that very unfortunately evades the public eye. This will feature on the site weekly/bi-weekly/whenever the fuck I feel like it, I haven’t decided yet.

First on the agenda is a beautiful band called Above Them.


Above Them have been flying just below radar for sometime now, but since the release of their “now-nearly-a-year-old” album, Blueprint For A Better Time, the trio have been well and truly making a name for themselves in the punk scene playing with other greats such as Chillerton, The 255s and even the almighty Chuck Ragan.

The bands sound itself is a hard one to pin: It’s slick, smooth and melodic but at the same time featuring all the rawness of true punk rock or a chapped arse, but in a good way. Above Them have totally found their own sound. They’ve a uniqueness that is so relieving when compared to the many ‘might-as-well-be-tribute’ bands that occupy the punk scene.

As a live act the boys don’t hold back, with high energy, hard-hitting sets and some half decent banter to boot. Go and listen to the boys from Pontefract on Myspace, buy their album, go watch them live, whatever. Just make sure you sample the sweet sound that is Above Them. Oh, and buy a t-shirt, they’re smart as fuck.

I give Above Them 4/5 Special Brews, they lose a point because they’re from Yorkshire.


Above Them are playing an all day festival at the Oxford pub in Manchester this Saturday 24/07/10. Details below:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=111334772244725&ref=ts

You can buy Blueprint For A Better Time on i-Tunes by clicking this link:

http://itunes.apple.com/uk/album/keep-smiling/id367479798?i=367479828&ign-mpt=uo%3D6

Interview :: White Belt Yellow Tag – Glasgow’s King Tut’s

The northeast’s hottest new alternative rock band gives an exclusive interview to Moon & Back Music ahead of their UK tour


wbyt

White Belt Yellow Tag

With their debut album Methods scheduled for release on the 5th of April, White Belt Yellow Tag are currently in the process of a relentless tour of the UK. With the inaugural date of the tour in Glasgow’s world famous King Tut’s, Moon & Back Music caught up with them to discuss their plans, thoughts and personal opinions on their music and peers.

With a growing fan base throughout the British Isles and beyond, White Belt Yellow Tag (WBYT) bill themselves as an alternative rock band hailing from the northeast of England. Comprising of Justin Lockey and Craig Pilbin, they are more than usually joined on live tours with Tom Bellamy on drums, the trio were more than happy to take time out from their busy pre-show and tour schedule to speak candidly with Moon & Back Music.

On the eve of their tour that will take them to numerous locations varying from smaller to mid level venues from Newcastle and Leeds to York and of course London. When asked about the relentlessness of the tour, the band replied with their usual casual swagger. Agreeing that the pressures of the road were indeed something that could not be taken likely, it was merely another occupational hazard and the price that has to be paid when playing in a road band. Indeed, Tom Bellamy when consulted as to his impressions of Glasgow admitted it was relatively hard to get one when he had only been present in the city for approximately an hour. The other members had been present a little longer and all agreed that they found Glasgow, and King Tut’s, more than an enjoyable place to play. The city, and Scottish crowds in general, has certain notoriety for tougher, less easily pleased crowds but this merely added to the excitement and prospect of the evening’s gig for WBYT who relished in the pressure.

When approached about the nature of the band’s direction and potential ambitions of the new album, WBYT took a decidedly more philosophical and more unexpected approach to the dealings of the music industry. Upon the mention that their website described them as alternative rock, Lockey, Pilbin and Bellamy scoffed at the notion that such a broad encapsulation of an even wider variety of music could be used to describe them, or any, kind of music. When quizzed on this notion, the band simply replied with the idea that their music, although certainly more than qualified to be described as alternative and indie rock, was not intended to be bracketed with such a mainstream title. The direction in which WBYT has taken in recent times has not been dictated by corporate labels or indeed what is deemed “fashionably popular”. It has been more akin to a group of musicians who enjoy working, playing and touring together and more than willing to commit their foreseeable futures to a project that has a great promise and is filled with potential.

In the current financial climate with its frivolous uncertainty and equally harsh commitment to any great future investment it is difficult for bands like White Belt Yellow Tag to flourish on talent alone. However, with their excellent attitude and fierce loyalty to their cause it is no surprise to find that WBYT are now on the verge of being booked for several major summer festivals throughout the country. In an industry as volatile as the music one, especially in today’s climate, it can be an almost impossible task to stand out amongst the crowd. White Belt Yellow Tag, however, may just be about to disprove that theory but only time will tell

Jonathan Whitelaw


Check out the band’s official website and MySpace accounts for upcoming tour dates and releases: http://www.myspace.com/whitebeltyellowtag and http://www.whitebeltyellowtag.com/

Promo :: Shift Enigma – You’ll Never Know

Liquid Drum N Bass – Soulful & chilled, but just upbeat enough to go completely tits to it when you feel like it.


With a guitar riff strongly retsembling the acoustic version of Incubus’ “Pardon Me” (for some reason,) an incredibly famous (and overused) rave acapella and an overall slight lack in production value, You’ll Never Know, on paper, sounds like the kind of track you find littered all over IMOdownload and SoundCloud because it’s been promoted to hell by some 14-year-old, raised by the Internet rather than his parents, and bound to end up in an IT support job. That is far from the case -Shift Enigma’s latest offering is a track of charm – blissful percussion, a touch of heartbreak in the vocal, a structure that resonates in you – and that’s a pretty rare thing in a genre that generally prides iself on how loud and distorted it is. A little Staind – Outside to Metallica’s St Anger, if you will. Relax. Enjoy. Tune out.

Promo. :: Hold Your Horse Is Announce UK Tour w/ Crooked Mountain, Crooked Sea

Crooked Mountain, Crooked Sea are a Brighton based four piece who make a post-rock/post-hardcore racket along the lines of Fugazi, Cursive, and Drive like Jehu. In 2009 they recorded a debut EP described by reviewers as ‘a shouty delight’, ‘a raw, atonal blast of alt-rock’ and ‘astonishingly mature’. The band came to the forefront of the Brighton scene, playing shows in nearly every venue and sharing stages with the likes of Itch and Everyone to the Anderson, as well as being played on BBC 6 music by Tom Robinson. 2010 will see them taking their sounds elsewhere with the release of their absolutely brilliantly titled second EP ‘It’s the Falling That Counts, Not the Landing’.

CM,CS MySpace


Hold Your Horse Is are a three piece from Frimley/London/Brighton who take a heavy influence from 90’s American Indie and 00’s British Post-Hardcore. Their unusual name istaken from the title of a seminal album by 2 piece Californian noise merchants Hella; whom they don’t sound much like.

In just over a year of existence, they have been: played on Radio 1 by Steve Lamacq and Huw Stephens, played on 6 Music by Tom Robinson, picked up ex-Reuben bassist Jon Pearce as manager, self released 2 EPs sold and played over 60 shows, sharing stages with a huge range of bands such as Micachu & The Shapes, Baddies, To The Bones, Tubelord, Blakfish, Brontide, Copy Haho, Dive Dive, Spectrum 7, Chickenhawk and the Outcry Collective.

HYHI MySpace