Gig Review :: Pressure Kids

“Pressure Kids” are a talented band of twenty-somethings hailing from the West Midlands who would like to introduce you to a world of guitar-laden pop and a happy-go-lucky attitude to the world of music.

Having solidified their line-up in 2011, they are now a strong, experienced 5 piece with a charismatic and professional female lead singer, giving the band an interesting dimension.

The band are currently working on an EP which they plan to release in late 2011 and are currently performing in their local music scene and beyond.

They have recently played a series of gigs, including their local ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition, in which they have reached the final. I went along to the heat gig and the semi-final and thought their performances on both occasions were incredible.

For the Semi Final, the band opened with a stripped down cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game”, with a spotlight on the lead singer and a single guitar accompaniment; a delightful and touching homage to the late soul singer with Pressure Kids’ frontwoman paying her respects perfectly with soulful and powerful reflections on Miss Winehouse’s sassy and haunting vocals. As this cover faded out, the band kicked into their own repertoire of tracks. With effervescent energy and a great rapport on stage, the band certainly engaged the audience where heads were bobbing, toes were tapping and plenty of people were dancing. Their sound is full and profound with hard-hitting percussion and edgy guitar riffs. The vocalist has a strong tone and has great control of her voice which compliments the intelligent and witty lyrics perfectly. The set ran smoothly and the band received a great reception from the crowd once their slot was over. The 5 accomplished and talented musicians gelled on stage and were a genuine pleasure to watch and listen to. There was no pretention or angst, but plenty of raw ability and star quality.

The reaction from the audience was extremely complimentary and excitable, with a general hubbub of interest in the band. Once the audience vote opened, a swarm of fans headed to place their votes for Pressure Kids who were, in my opinion, champions of the evening and thoroughly deserving of their place in the final!

A selection of the band’s songs include “Monster”, with a catchy-chorus and fun lyrics and their new track “Blinded”, which will undoubtedly be stuck in your head after listening to it (video of live performance below!). “Robots Break Hearts” is another great upbeat track whilst “We never really got on anyway” offers a slower, edgier take on ‘Pop’.

I recommend, no, I URGE you to head over to the band’s Facebook Page and show them some support. You can download their first EP for free and acquaint yourself with a fantastically talented and interesting unsigned band! You can find Pressure Kids at: www.facebook.com/pressurekids or www.youtube.com/user/pressurekidsmusic

[J]

Single Review :: Crazy Arm – Tribes

“…I can’t wait to hear what the Crazy Arm boys have in store for us in September.”

I’ve made it pretty clear in the past that Born To Ruin is one of my favorite albums in a long time. Crazy Arm’s brand of gruff, melodic, political punk was a breath of fresh air and I’ve been hooked ever since. The guys are gearing up for the release of their second album and, if ‘Tribes’ (and previous single ‘Ambertown’) is anything to go by, Union City Breath will be another top notch release from the Plymouth-based band.

Like a lot of Crazy Arm’s material, ‘Tribes’ is a very socially conscious track. The line: “I don’t want to live in a fucked up world” opens up the song and perfectly captures the message the band are trying to spread. It’s a track that deals, primarily, with equality and promotes the idea that, no matter what sex or race a person might be, they have rights. It encourages morality, but manages to stray away from feeling overly preachy. When a song has such a clear message that can be hard to avoid and can often feel like it’s been laid on a bit too thick. That isn’t the case here. Musically, it’s everything you’d expect from a Crazy Arm song. The rabble-rousing track is driven by awesome, forceful, guitar playing and kept together by the solid rhythm section. The drums are particularly prevalent, but that’s no bad thing. The changes in pace are fantastic and, coupled with Darren’s fantastic vocal range, really help to drive the message of the track home.

The quality continues with the B-side. ‘Help For Heroines’ relies heavily on the the roots punk/country punk sound that differentiates Crazy Arm from the rest of the bands in the current UK scene. That being said, it doesn’t lay off on the intensity. It’s still fast paced and best played at full volume. If this is the quality of tracks that were cut from Union City Breath, I can’t wait to hear what the Crazy Arm boys have in store for us in September.

You can’t go wrong here – Two great tracks from a great band. Buy the single, go to the shows and support them any way you can. The band head off on their first ever UK acoustic tour later this month, with Cory Branan and Sam Russo. Following that, they’ll be touring across Europe with Against Me!, on their headline shows, in November. There’s details of their future touring plans here.


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

Single Review :: Funeral For A Friend – Broken Foundation

“…a highlight of the band’s career”

Funeral For A Friend are back with the third single to be released of their latest album, the brilliant ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’. Broken Foundation is a return to form for the welsh rockers that will keep both new and older fans happy.


On the heals of ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’, weaker and softer tunes left the band stuck in the ‘emo’ trap and competing with pop-punk bands instead of staying to their roots. Thankfully they refused to conform any longer and are back and better than ever.

Indeed this is a return to the band’s first two albums – heavy and in your face. But it’s built on the wealth of experience accumulated over the years by the post-hardcore veterans on how to create great melodies and memorable choruses. The only problem is that this track typically starts off so fast-paced that it doesn’t get the opportunity to build up into something bigger – instead staying at the same pace throughout.

That being said, the blistering guitar work combined with the blend of singing and screaming makes this a highlight of the band’s career and one of the better songs they have come up with in the recent years and an instant post-hardcore anthem.

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/

Single Review: Your First Mistake – Today is a Good Day to Bury Bad News

A while a go I took a sunny trip to Edinburgh to interview Sean from Your First Mistake. Now I’ve been given a sneaky peak at the upcoming single Today is a Good Day to Bury Bad News.


Since the last time I spoke to them YFM have added another guitarist to the line up, so in the light of this news I was expecting something big from the lads. To read the interview with Sean click here.

I was a bit surprised when I first listened to the track, it was much quieter and softer than what I’ve come to expect from them. For the first half of the song it listens like the token ballad track that appears on most rock albums. I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker for the slower tracks just for a bit of variety, so the guitar not being the forefront of everything going on in the song is a nice change for me. The drums definitely make this track in my eyes, the guitar takes a back seat until the breakdown half way through and it’s the drums that set the pace.

After the halfway point the track takes a definite turn and you’re hit with a wall of sound with the guitar coming into play with a pretty nice hook from the lead, a lot of screaming and cymbal crashing.

All in all a pretty good track from the lads of Your First Mistake, if I had to rate it I’d give it a 4/5. You can tell that the addition of another guitarist has helped the band evolve since the last time we’ve heard from them but you can make up your own mind about the track by listening to it!

Today Is A Good Day, To Bury Bad News


Myspace|Last.fm|Facebook

One Night Only :: Single Review – Can You Feel It?

3 years after releasing their debut album, One Night Only are back with their self-titled second. They are also releasing a single, “Can You Feel It”, in conjunction with Coca-Cola.

The music video for “Can You Feel It” was released on YouTube in March and has received ample amounts of praise and over 190,000 views. Perhaps the backing of a major international company such as Coca-Cola will give the band the musical acclaim they’re striving for.

The track will debut as the soundtrack of the forthcoming global advertising campaign for the Coca-Cola television commercial called “Walls”, the theme of which being young people enjoying kicking-back with a can of Coke and their favourite music.

After a few listens of “Can You Feel It”, it is catchy, upbeat and fun but there doesn’t seem to be much body to the song. The instrumentals are good with strong percussion and nice guitar riffs throughout the track, but nice is a word commonly used to describe something that’s lacking a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ which can be found in an awesome song of higher calibre. In terms of lyrics, this song falls a little flat, it’s certainly not lyrically interesting or exciting but after successful appearances at festivals over the years, such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds & T in the Park, I have a feeling the “Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh” in the chorus is aimed at excitable festival crowds this summer and international fans. So if crowd interaction is what the band want, “Can You Feel It” won’t fail to get people moving and singing along.

You can tell that the band have teamed up with Coca-Cola for this track too, it’s light-hearted and will easily reach it’s aim of appealing to a global audience, what with the simple verses and chant of a chorus. The international advertising campaign features teenagers from around the world singing alongside One Night Only and gives them the opportunity to upload a video and add it into an interactive music video. Accessible online via Coca-Cola music sites, teenagers will be able to see themselves in the video with the band; a strong unique selling point for cyber-happy teenagers. I get the impression that audience participation is key in this single, in more ways than one, and as far as pop-rock anthems go, I fear it falls a little short of the mark, but in terms of a light-hearted, simple and catchy tune, it hits the nail on the head!

One Night Only band member George Craig said, “The whole vibe of this project was to show that music has the same effect on people all over the world. It can be a real release from day to day life and there’s nothing better than getting in from school, opening a Coke, and playing your favourite music”.

Overall, the single does exactly what it says on the tin (or can…?). It’s a soft, catchy pop song with an upbeat vibe and good musicality. One Night Only are grabbing the global industry by the horns and hoping this campaign with Coca-Cola will boost their success even more. [J]

‘Can You Feel It’ is released on the 8th August 2011.

Check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXc6nZjWckM

The track will make its debut as the soundtrack to the new global Coca-Cola television commercial called “Walls.”

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

Single Review :: London Elektricity – Elektricity Will Keep Me Warm / The Plan That Cannot Fail

Hollow, cold and haunting, London Elektricity’s new single “Elektricity Will Keep Me Warm” is humble but sharp-edged, with rough, raw straight-from-the-wax breaks and a minimalistic, slow-motion-movie approach to a genre that is no longer afraid to show its versatility (and one that, fortunately, does not rely on “rinsing it out proper” to gain popularity.) This two-tracker is London Elektricity’s first work in 3 years, and with vocals reminiscent of Sia’s “Breathe Me” and an odd change in moods being a prominent feature, Hospital Records’ new offering might not be ripping up every dancefloor in the country this month, but it definitely won’t be going unnoticed.

“The Plan That Cannot Fail” is a slightly safer bet for London Elektricity, admittedly, but fails to disappoint. A piano richer than a bath of Belgian Chocolate and Honey, an infinite soundscape, a drum break like James Brown’s backup after a 12-pack of redbull and what can only be described as some insane kind of spiritual, euphoric, feel-good, summer’s-here-but-it-isn’t-really-but-it-feels-like-it stellar experience for the soul. Nice.

Both tracks are taken from the forthcoming album “Yikes!” which is coming soon on Hospital Records. Pre-orders are available now.

http://www.hospitalrecords.com/

Watch the video from 18/03/2011 at http://londonelektricity.com/tv/

Promo :: Nu-Tone – Shine In (feat. Natalie Williams) / Bleeper

A 4/4 timebase, offbeat pads, filter build-ups and organ-style “I’m a dreeammerrr!” stabs? Say these words to any dance music nut and they’d probably think you’re describing a slightly dodgy ’97 Paul Van Dyk track. So how about I tell you that this is a Drum N Bass track? Don’t believe me? Well, the proof is in the pudding for Nu:Tone’s new 2-tracker on Hospital Records.

A year or two ago, this would have been almost unheard of, but it’s there. It’s frantic, the drums roll and the vocal sample catches your ears to the point where you begin to hate yourself. Shine In boasts a sound that is almost probably maybe definitely influenced by Camo & Krooked’s simplicity, Danny Byrd’s soulful percussion and the massive suddenly-stopped-giving-a-crap party vibe that few artists can pull off but everybody tries to anyway. Couple all of this with vocals provided by MOBO award nominee Natalie Williams and baby, you’ve got a stew going.

Whilst Shine In may definitely be a radio and dance floor favorite, it does seem to lack any sort of lead melody, and it seems to be catching the whole 4/4 DnB thing at what I’d consider to be the tail end. Liquid DnB has seen radical changes in the past few years, and whilst I have every intention of blasting this on the way to work tomorrow and probably tripling the speed limit in the process, I’m trying to hum along to it but I just can’t. How much this matters, is down to opinion – regardless, I’d definitely skank it out to this. With an atmosphere that just screams “it’s time to hit a nightclub” and clean, crisp production, Shine In will definitely be hitting the playlists in no time at all.

On a darker tip comes Bleeper, a strange affair of deep dubstep-style bassline (not the warp warp warp’s but the rattles-your-spine bbbbbuuurrrrr’s, fortunately,) some big-ass fucking drums and a series of arpeggios that boggle the mind. With synths roaring like some deranged 2011 Vangelis with a skin condition, Bleeper is definitely Nu:Tone’s Hyde to his Jekyll, and it isn’t afraid to show it. Hospital Records are well known for their sister label Med School, providing a much more warped view of the world, and this track seems to be a sort of inbetween. It’s liquid and bassy, but it’s…odd. The Human Centipede odd. And that’s definitely not such a bad thing, in this case.

I can’t help but think the contrast between sections is a little too high in places, however – notably in the build, where it seems to be that Magnetic Man have supplied 30 seconds of track for no apparent reason. It sort of takes the dark away – they didn’t stop for a cheeky red bull in A Nightmare on Elm Street, so why should this? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just a little – peculiar. Bleeper is a maze of fog, fairground rabbit costumes with sharp, bloody teeth, with somebody face down in a drug-induced coma – this just seems like the short cut.

What Nu:Tone definitely shows with this release is his flexibility. The age of the DnB artist, as compared to bloke who plays tunes and rinses it out and stuff, is upon us – and Dan Gresham, as he’s known to others, is definitely answering the call. What’s great to see is that this really doesn’t feel like an A & B side – both tracks are fantastic in their own right, and it looks like Nu:Tune is doing his part to tear open the mind of the Drum N Bass community. Hopefully, metaphorically – or Hospital Records might have chosen their name a little too literally.

Nu:Tone – Shine In / Bleeper is available to buy from the 14th February from the Hospital Records shop on 12″ Vinyl and Digital Download.