The Spitfires: Live in Southend

Watford three piece The Spitfires returned to Chinnery’s in Southend this past Saturday.

They came on the trail of their new single ‘Enough is Enough’, would it be enough to keep them in the hearts of Essex’s mods?

Roaring out of the traps with crowd favourite ‘Last Goodbye’ and ‘The New Age’. The fury of The Jam and melodic rumble of The Rifles combined with their playfulness to kick-start the dancing. A word that became omnipresent throughout.

New single ‘Enough is Enough’ took the defiant spirit of Hard-Fi’s debut ‘Stars of CCTV’ and threw in, well, everything! The brass, at times hinging on the love of Frankie Knuckles and at others, drawing upon ska, funk and soul they have become famed for. It’s such a raucous carnival affair that, it sets frontman Billy Sullivan freer than ever before.

Remember, their 4th album is imminent, this isn’t a band with a new sheen, this is one with crowd favourites. Nothing touched the vibrancy of the crowd’s reaction than on ‘Enough is Enough’.

Speaking of crowd favourites, ‘Something Worth Fighting For’ was sounding more desolate than ever, clinging to the last shred of hope in a world gone bat shit. Meanwhile. The blistering guitar solo on ‘Return To Me’ and the euphoria of ‘On My Mind’ defy all logic of the working classes in recent years. Social comment and escapist rebellion should always meet these standards!

It’s fair to say, they left Southend as favourite adopted sons

*Image coutesy of Tony Briggs

Sean McGowan - Curate Calm, Create Chaos EP

Southampton's favourite son Sean McGowan releases the EP 'Curate Calm, Create Chaos' via Xtra Mile Recordings on the 1st November.

Although McGowan's debut album (Son of Smith) was all of a high standard, its flaw was it was disparate in style at times. Here, a focus on stripped back acoustic guitars and cinematic orchestration has heightened the two things McGowan does best, defiance and emotion!

Here's our track by track review:


I'm OK

McGowan's ability to find melody and simultaneously offer gut wrenching honesty lyrically is out in full force here.

The universality to 'dealing with death / dealing with demons' is one all can relate to but, few use this pain to such positive effect.

With ‘The Joker’ causing a stir amongst those who have missed the fucking point, McGowan's song about mental health is perfectly timed. ‘The Joker’ is not about inciting violence, it’s a clear shot at the criminal under-funding of mental healthcare. As McGowan sings 'this one is for the lost', the poignancy of the film and the song strike home, painfully so.

Heartbreaker 

Even in 2019, for a man to lay their inner most feelings, especially romantic feelings on the line like this, is rare and courageous. The confusion, the hurt and the sense of loss McGowan displays being in a relationship, let alone out of one is laid bear with a fine eloquence.

The stunning Celtic style backing vocals of Kate Lynn (also violinist on the EP) and McGowan's lyrics will bring self-examination of the brutal kind. Am I enough? Will me and you make it? How do I know you're OK?

Silk

In the 90s, the tabloids and magazines heightened what it was to be a man and a woman. You must be a supermodel on a diet or you must a super lad drinking and shagging. As impactful as it was, the rise of Social Media feels more over bearing with its 24/7 access.

With that in mind, McGowan examines the negative side of Social Media on society. The intense pressure on how to live your life from both the male and female perspective are looked at with heart and soul.

As the orchestration builds, the fragility and beauty of life being tormented is rammed home with gut wrenching effect.

Money

Frankly, any song with an Only Fools and Horses reference in deserves to be number one! Much like Del Boy, McGowan has dreamer’s mind-set. No matter what is thrown in his way, McGowan walks forwards swinging, hits the canvas and then gets up again with a grin on his face.

Queen of the West

The EP’s standout moment! Such is the clarity of the music; McGowan need not have sung a word. The subtle acoustic guitar build is bitter-sweet and tinged with an acceptance that someone close (Margret) has passed away.

As the Lynn’s violin and vocals soar, the military drums pound into view, laying the platform for McGowan’s most daring and triumphant moment to date.

His punk fire rattling alongside the innocent Noah & The Whale 'First Days of Spring' beauty to bring all of McGowan’s hurt and grief to beautiful climax!

Whoever Margret is, McGowan has gone further than “write her name in history”, he has etched her into the hearts of his fans.

Moon Duo - Stars Are The Light

Portland based Sanae Yamada and Ripley Johnson released their seventh studio album 'Stars Are The Light' on the 27th September via Sacred Bones. With the distinct purpose of re-imaging themselves in a world going mad, how would their synth driven reinvention fair?

For the most part, their archetypal style remains, but, the instruments have changed. 'Fever' and 'Flying' find Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada finding far out grooves to traverse. The bombast of Johnson's guitars is replaced by outer cosmos production but, familiar and likeable patterns remain. On 'Fever', their ability to trip out comes to the fore, again, with subtle production tools being applied alongside sumptuous guitar licks.

Their previous work often witnessed an open ended nature. Expertly deploying hooks on the guitar and taking them for an aimless meander. It's where their true beauty lay. On the title track however, they have gone against this grain. 'Stars Are The Light' is as complete piece of pop art as you can imagine. It strays into the everyday mind set of longing to escape rather than being otherworldly.

Former single 'Lost Heads' also walks this line.  Johnson's guitars are still at play, and after a residency in Salford this year, picked up influences from the psyche work of James on 'Bitch' and 'Girl at the End of the World'.

The hypnotic elements of Primal Scream's 'Autobahn' loom, but, 'Lost Heads' is far dreamier and acid tinged. Its ethereal qualities are that blissful moment on a night out; the headliner has blown you away and now your floating in space.

'Stars Are The Light' is a fine a re-imagination of what Moon Duo can be. If anything, they have been to tentative. There is definitely a sense there is more in the tank. That said, not many can switch up their DNA as effectively as this seven albums in.

Liines: Boston Music Rooms, London

Manchester's Liines embarked on their co-headline tour with Bis last week at Boston Music Rooms. After critical acclaimed for their debut album 'Stop-Start' and a plum support slot with Sleaford Mods, was this their time to shine?

setlist.jpeg

It was their longest set to date, it didn’t bother them. Such is the defiance of their punk rock, even the unheard material was met with glee. The dank 'Find Something' throbbed with danger at every turn. Its indomitable groove has a raw sexual energy that threatens to overspill into something violent.

Tamsin Middleton's bass playing on 'Shallow' was an exemplary display of how destruction and angst can be joyous and life altering. Middleton's hip rolling swagger is hypnotic throughout, none more prevalent on the disco-punk of 'Disappear'.

It was on 'Disappear' where dreams of bigger things for Liines emerged. The hook of Leila O'Sullivan's drumming, combined with power of Zoe McVeigh's vocals all come together in a moment of outcast bliss.

This was again echoed on modern alt-classic 'Blackout' and the banger 'Never There'. The intensity remains, the hooks filter through, and your left with thoughts of, 'do we have another PJ Harvey on our hands?'

Did they announce themselves as future festival headliners? No, probably not. They proved the co-headline slot was more than warranted. Expect mainstage festival bookings galore next summer!

*Image courtesy of Olivia O’Sullivan

Reverend & The Makers: Electric Ballroom, London

Sheffield icons, Reverend and The Makers took to London’s Electric Ballroom on the 10th October for the ‘Best Of’ tour. Often, and peculiarly ignored by Radio X and BBC6, they showcased what they had been missing!

They’re not of cultural fabric of the UK in the same way of Primal Scream, but, they do have their adventurous spirit at their core.  They push egos to one side and share vocal duty to suit the art. Lead guitarist Ed Cosens delivers 60s pop gem ‘Makin’ Babies’ expertly and, on ‘Black Flowers’, something truly magical happens. Keyboardist Laura McClure’s spellbinding vocals on the Portishead inspired track. As she sings “our love got up walked out of the room”, everyone is under her beguiling spell.

The styles keep on coming, ‘MDMAzing’ and ‘Bassline’ stray into 2am Ibiza territory and set the dancefloor alight. Meanwhile, Cousins’ guitar playing on ‘Black Widow’, finds that expansive rock sound their mates Arctic Monkeys never quite nailed on ‘Humbug’, ‘Suck It and See’ and ‘AM’.

Make no mistakes though, John McClure is the big draw. Literally! It’s no disservice to the band, but his ability to stray from spoken word, to Damon Albarn, to Liam Gallagher and remain true to his Sheffield roots is truly remarkable.

It may be because they never hit truly dizzying heights that they still have the early days feel of “one of us”. More likely, the truth lies in Frank Turner’s ‘Try This At Home’:

“Cause there's no such thing as rockstars
There's just people who play music
And some of them are just like us
And some of them are dicks

Here’s to another twelve years.

*Image courtesy of Mike Halcrow

Paula Wolfe – White Dots

London and Norfolk based artist Paula Wolfe has returned with her new album ‘White Dots’. Written, arranged, engineered, produced and mixed by Wolfe and it’s out now on SIB Records.

‘White Dots’ delivers an array of storytelling, often character driven and sometimes, achingly personal. ‘Cherrington Road’, is based one of Wolfe’s earliest memories. The sweetness and innocence of her 3-year-old self singing in the garden of a family home will melt the blackest of hearts.

On ‘Bonnie’, Wolfe opens up about trying to move on from a relationship. Not just any the relationship, but “the one”. The one which everyone else is unfairly judged by. The one that raises you up and hinders you simultaneously. The simplicity and the honesty of Wolfe’s vocals and the subtle orchestration is a glorious dichotomy of elation and sadness.

It’s not always personal, ‘Caravan Man’ is a fictional account of a man Wolfe saw on French campsite. Her ability to jump into the world of someone else is effortless and no less interesting. The intrigue on Wolfe’s vocal “Caravan man, who are you waiting for / what are you waiting for” is as powerful las the Death Star tractor beam. Then, when her Kate Bush-esque vocals soar alongside the organs, a wholesomeness and realness akin to The Kinks’ ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ album.

Former single ‘Georgia Blue’, details the life of a cross dressing train driver. The hallmarks of The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’ circulate as Wolfe portrays a modern day outcast with great affection and warmth.

This is a fantasy album. It’s a what if the spirit Lily Allen and Laura Marling merged with the great characters of Ray Davies’ song writing and is sung by Kate Bush and Carole King. Layered with such vivid characters and enriching landscapes, Wolfe has provided an album that keeps on giving.

Thousand Yard Stare: 100 Club, London

Thousand Yard Stare returned with a new single ‘It Sparks!’ recently. A firecracker embodying all that they were and all that they might become. Last week, they opened their Indie Daze set at 100 Club with said single.

Whether it was the glowing reviews or Lammo spinning it on 6music, the band were clearly buoyed. Giles Duffy’s guitar licks were more aggressive than ever and, frontman Stephen Barnes prowled the stage like man possessed. Not everyone was aware of ‘It Sparks’, they were four minutes later!

Their energy was tangible and this power grew all night, prompting Barnes to profess “it never used to be like this”. Signalling that a new album was coming lit the touch paper for this crowd. It was as though; they were more determined to prove their worth to the band than the other way round. It’s church in the middle ages or football before the businessmen sold it out in 1992. A communal sharing of love and faith to something bigger than themselves!

Throw in a VAR gag for the classic ‘0-0 AET’ and a devastating rendition of ‘Wonderment’ to close the set out, and TYS were straying into the region of demi-Gods!

The gig’s defining moment though, come from the live debut of ‘Schizm Algorithm’. Eight minutes of John Squire grooves via menacing Rage Against The Machine bass hooks. This gig proved, there is so much life left in this band.

Furthermore, their fans know it too!

*Image courtesy of John Marshall

The Velvet Hands: Live in London

“Everybody's looking for last gang in town
You better watch out for they're all comin' around”

 

Falmouth’s The Velvet Hands kicked off their intimate sold out tour off at London’s Roadtrip & The Workshop this past Tuesday night.

The Clash had a gang mentality, The Libertines had it and now, The Velvet Hands have it! Despite the rock n roll, the punk fury and the icey coolness of the vocals, they have warm embracing nature. It’s so inviting that, on the modern classic ‘Party’s Over’, the raucous crowd invite themselves on stage for a dance.

On the debut album record, The Strokes influences were plain to see. Live though, they transcend their NYC heroes. As the BRMC inspired ‘Sick of Living’ catches fire, their welcoming spirit permeates the sweat drenched room. What Richard Hawley does via pop couplets and enriching arrangements, The Velvet Hands are doing with garage punk rock.

New singles ‘Don’t Be Nice To Me’ and ‘This Feeling’ also go down a storm. The word is out! The former, a Cribs meets Strokes banger is the pick of the bunch with its ecstatic closing moments!

Brace yourself Britain, you’re about to get new national treasures!

*Image courtesy of Craig Taylor-Broad

James Dey - Autumn EP

Leeds artist James Dey has released his third EP of the year. Creating one for all four seasons, he now embarks on his ‘Autumn’ edition. Here is our track by track review:

Well-trodden

Like the Spring and Summer affairs, the opening track is an instrumental piece (well, 95%). It’s a simple, well-honed piece, signifying the beginning of autumn. Life is still in the air, hope of one more great adventure before winter lingers. The hatches have not been battened down yet!

Weightless

The autumnal feel, arguably the most tangible of all seasons in alternative music has been nailed by Dey here. The gentle loss of life to the beautiful golden scenery permeates throughout. The addition of Fie Meneghello vocals gives the EP a joyous sheen.

It conjures images of a couple so completely in love, they annoy all and sundry around them. They are going to eek every last ounce of fun out autumns glow.

Autumn in Lisbon

The dual vocals continue but here, they stray form folk into indie pop territory. So much so, this would not be about of place on Belle & Sebastian’s ‘Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like Peasant’ album.

Skein

The close of autumn is nigh, death is upon us. Winter is coming! Dey encapsulates the big weather change with a gear change musically too. The gentile ebb and flows become more drastic.

As a result, it’s Dey’s most difficult piece of music to dat. However, when the isolation of the acoustic guitars combining with the sublime and aimlessly meandering orchestration, it’s clear, the complexities on show are more rewarding than his previous efforts.

Argh Kid – Riot

Manchester’s Argh Kid has been one of the shining breakthroughs in 2019. Less than a week after they released their debut EP ‘Derelict Dreams’, he returned with the explosive single ‘Riot’.

The raw power of Public Enemy combines with the Beastie Boys outlaw instincts to provide well timed assassination of government. As the visceral production takes hold, just consider, in 2 months, an unelected leader has lost 6 votes, 2 court cases, stated no custom checks in NI, stated there will be custom checks in NI, sacked members of his party, and dithered on about Jason Donovan. What a time to be alive!

Thankfully, leadership comes in many forms. UK spoken word artist Dave Scott (aka Argh Kid) has stepped up to the plate. His distinctive Mancunian vocals adopt venom of Jason Williamson and aggro yet melodic tones of Tom Meighan circa ‘Club Foot’.

Meanwhile, all around him a bassline throbs to echo down the ages. The guttural hook is soul shaking and, as Scott decrees “don’t believe the shite”, a breed of patriotism you can be proud of emerges. Not the bloated lunch on expenses, Churchill wannabee guff of Mark Francois!

Put simply UK Hip Hop hasn’t felt this vital since the early work of Kano and Dizzee Rascal. It’s pure, its violent and it’s working class intelligence from the gut!

Café Spice – Open Door

Manchester’s Café Spice have returned with their third single ‘Open Door’ on 27th September. They have dates in London (The Old Church, Stoke Newington 30th November) and Manchester (Band on the Wall 10th December), gigs which are sure to sell out.  

‘Open Door’ is a tale of failed romance and moving on but, crucially, its delivered with rare honesty and integrity. The lyrics, from the opening line, come with a striking poignancy:

“My heart is full / My heart is heavy”

Immediately, the scenario of impending break up looms, the pit of your stomach will turn to knots!

Their previous single ‘Bn2’, showcased with aplomb, cliché is not part of their remit. There is not an ounce of triumphant closure on display. Like any aspect of life, there are no full stops. The end is clear, the pain is tangible, but the concept of “what’s next” is as freeing as it is daunting.  

Café Spice have delivered yet another outstanding single. New acts, attempting the complex, in this case trifecta harmonies, often show promise but are not fully formed. Much like First Aid Kit circa ‘The Lions Roar’, they are coming with fully formed pieces of emotive art.

Getrz - Think of the Future

Swindon outfit Getrz self-released their second EP ‘Think of the Future’ at the end of August. To date, they have been a band that has been scintillating on the live circuit but not transferred that prowess to the studio. Might this be their time?

'She Heard I'm A Dreamer' and 'Annie' suggest both yes and no. Both littered with moments to entice you in but fall short of blowing you away. The former, has an infectious chorus and Tom Meighan inspired vocals but, after threatening the killer solo, it doesn’t materialise. ‘Annie’, signs of with Miles Kane in disco mode and is peak Arctic Monkeys playing their best Pearl Jam riffs but, lacks the hook in the chorus.

The title track will divide opinion. Big resounding rock anthems like this always do, especially when they come with a piano reprise. One man's 'Layla' is another's Bill and Ted. However, the ambition, the vision and crucially, the conviction to put this is out is inspirational. This is the stuff of rock giants 4 albums

What makes you question the missing elements is the sparkling ‘How Do You Think I Feel?’ . A true moment of punk rock glory. Their love of grunge is channelled via a punk-pop playfulness. A sonic that might well take them to stardom.

It goes further than this though. We’ve all heard a million punk-pop tales of relationship woe. Big deal! Getrz though, have that top notch British drama feel to their story telling. Gritty, painful, and laying bare the feelings of the common person can relate to.

This is not the moment where GETRZ breakthrough but, they are peeping over your hedges and ready to burst in!

*Image courtesy of Jon Mo Photography

The Velvet Hands – This Feeling

Fresh from supporting 2019’s all-conquering heroes Fontaines D.C. and the omnipresent Liam Gallagher, the Falmouth four-piece are back! Their new single ‘This Feeling’, is released on 27th September via Jam X Recordings.

If previous single 'Don't Be Good To Me' was a solid jab, 'This Feeling' is a massive right hook! The brazen NYC rock n roll of The Strokes collides with the Danish punks Iceage. The results, slice of pure devilment.

Despite the chaos, there are moments of pop majesty. The Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist meets Julian Casablancas back ‘n’ forth vocals recreate the Pete and Carl dynamic for a drunken night out in 2019.

Nevertheless, it’s the intensity that overshadows everything here. Pete Shelly may have left this mortal coil but, his soul lives strong and furious in the The Velvet Hands.  

There some moments of real pop majesty lurking within here. The early Libertines back n forth vocals being the cream of the crop. However, it’s the intensity of it all that overshadows everything. With the spirit and the joy of the Buzzcocks in their hearts, it’s to visualise the assault they put upon their kit in the studio.

Thousand Yard Stare – It Sparks!

When Thousand Yard Stare returned in 2015 at the 100 Club, no one could have foreseen the two fine Eps that followed. Such was their quality, most believed this was then riding off into the sunset on top.

The gigs kept coming though, and now, it’s coming full circle with another 100 Club date on October 3rd. To mark the occasion, they are releasing a new single 'It Sparks' via Stifled Aardvark Records.

Recorded at Raffer Studios in Kent (with Callum Rafftery), it continues in the vein of the Eps. Adopting new directions into their underdog spirit. The pomp and pomposity contained in the orchestral opening melts into House of Love via The Cult's guitars. It's a glorious pop music moment. 26 Seconds of vile Tory austerity disintegrates into menacing rock music.

It’s one thing to attack, it’s another to take people with you. In Stephen Barnes’ vocals, they have an instrument to do just that. They’re the musical equivalent of the Phil Kingston, the climate change protestor who sat upon a DLR train for his 83rd birthday. They carry a depth of love and selflessness you simply have to follow.

Barnes has always carried melody well but, this feels more like a performance. Throughout, he threatens a Johnny Rotten snarling violence but it never fully materialises. It’s pure drama, holing the listener in a state of excitement.

This is a notable point in TYS career. It might not be their best pop single, but it's definitely their most profound. With a new album in the offing, exciting times lay ahead.

Get Cape Wear Cape Fly! - The Unconventionals

After the triumphant return of Sam Duckwork’s moniker Get Cape Wear Cape Fly in 2018, the Southend troubadour is back with a one off single. ‘The Unconventionals’, written, recorded and put out in 24 hours is out now!

Musically, it has all the hallmarks of Get Cape's introspective pop music. The hope and critique of Billy Bragg is once more prevalent. However, sonically, this feels like a leap off moment for Duckworth. Whereas 2018 was reinvention of the hopeful Get Cape sound relevant to 2018, ‘The Unconventionals’ treads pastures[AM1]  new.

This is a single, lyrically embedded in the political mess of today. However, Duckworth’s guitars are less hopeful indie kid and more Wilco via New Orleans ray of sunshine. It’s a seed of proof that there is a way forward, the dross of Brexit will not be forever.

Mark Morriss - Look Up

Mark Morriss releases his 4th solo album ‘Look Up’ on 20th September via Reckless Yes Records. The Bluetones frontman is relentless on the live circuit but, four years since his last album (The Taste of Mark Morris), is the magic still there?

Fortunately for Morriss, the world flipped upside down politically and served his muse well. The Stevie Wonder inspired ‘All The Wrong People’, hilariously bashes the insane machinations of Trump aka the “big blonde hippopotamus”.

Live favourites ‘Rimini’ and ‘Roll Away’ follow similar paths. The former, written the day of the Brexit result, ended a year long bout of writer’s block. Full of sci-fi charm, Morriss deals with the shock of the referendum result. His ability to get across the aching feeling of lost in your homeland is remarkable.

‘Roll Away’ though, is another animal. Morriss, returning home from a Bluetones rehearsal, heard Anais Mitchell and Martin Green’s song on the radio. Struck by its message about refugee’s plight, re-recorded with stunning effects. With the Today Programme reporting daily on migrants crossing in dinghy’s, Morriss’ vocal brings home the haunting tragedy of those without.

Unsurprisingly, the record is littered with pop instincts, a hallmark of The Bluetones and his solo career. ‘Holiday of a Lifetime’, written by a campfire with his children, contains an elegant simplicity and beauty reflecting those surroundings. All the while, a nagging sense of a forlorn reality awaiting end feels inevitable.  

The wholesomeness fades on ‘The Beans’. Morriss’ lyrical wit and savagery take aim at a tumultuous relationship. Meanwhile, on opener ‘Adventures’, Morriss twists and turns from country-folk to Roxy Music and Dexys via the sublime Saxophone work. Again, Morriss deals with the Brexit conundrum: examining the isolation its caused so many reasonable minded folks to endure.

Not only is the magic still prevalent, its flourishing. ‘Science and Nature’ is, for our money, Morriss’ pinnacle. ‘Look Up’ is full of creative risk taking which rivals

*Image courtesy of Ben Meadows

Lacuna Bloome - Plastic

Brighton four piece Lacuna Bloome release 'Plastic' on Thursday 19th September, the lead single from their upcoming EP recorded at Audiobeach Studios (Producer Forbes Coleman).

It's easy to be swept along by the majesty of their playing. However, on 'Plastic', they have delivered a stunning indictment of the times. With Blake and peak Ashcroft in their hearts, poetic summation and defiance oozes from their souls. The punk insight of Billy Bragg emanates from the line “What you see is out of plain sight / Drifting everywhere” but, frontman Niall sings, it's with Johnny Marr's heart.

Musically, Ride's pop tinged 'Future Love' collides with the thunder of Stone Roses' 'This Is The One'. The sun kissed psyche guitars loop to sail you away to hazy climates in the early stages before, blood sweat and tears of the closing stages bring you crashing to shore.

Those closing moments, they're more than bombastic rock n roll. As Niall wrenches “yes its changing”, something more than music is happening. This is a gut wrenching clarion call echoing the desperation of Ian Curtis on 'Closer'.

Hope has been sparse of late. Maybe, just maybe Lacuna Bloome are the catalyst for the change they passionately decree. Winter is coming but, it would appear this four piece are drawing their Jon Snow battle lines, get behind them and charge into the night!

*Image courtesy of @shotbybutch



James Dey – Summer EP

Leeds' James Dey is releasing an EP for each season in 2019. Following on from his superb 'Spring EP', comes the equally fine 'Summer EP'.

Dey has pulled a master stroke on this EP. Focusing on how love and fond memories emerge from the rare but cherished warmer days of the UK, he has taken the personal and made them universal.

The loving nostalgia on 'Him For Her' will take you to the place where you and your loved one are the only care in the world. Dey takes in the insignificance of human without a trace of melancholy and builds layers of love upon the characters. It is only fitting that, Dey adopts an Elliot Smith style for this hand in hand stroll along the beach.

His Smith influences join forces with The Beatles on 'The Nettles Looked Nice Today'. There is a warmth here that showcases a warmth and talent that should be recording in Abbey Road.

'Awake' lifts Dey to the level where those who could fund that project, will find it hard not to do so. The gentile guitars alongside the slow moving traffic takes a dull Uk town on a hazy afternoon and paints it full of colour!

As the world looks back at 'Definitely Maybe', 'The Holy Bible', 'Dummy' and 'Dog Man Star' 25 years on, 'Awake' creates a sound scape worthy of overlaying a montage of those hopeful days. 'Awake', although calming in presence, is the sound of young hearts searching their minds, reaching for identities as yet unfounded on long summer nights.

With two more EPs to come, Dey has set the bar impressively high to match them.

Argh Kid - Derelict Dreams

Manchester's Argh Kid set 2019 alight with former single 'Neighbours'. Now, spoken word artist Dave Scott is back with a new EP ‘Derelict Dreams’. Recorded at Editors' Justin Lockey's studio, Scott, backed with a band, attempts to build upon his razor sharp wit and social comment.

Whilst Scott's words are the star of the show, his band are serving up something almost as special. ‘Tearaways' combines the languid style Loyle Carner with Get Cape Wear Cape Fly’s warming brass circa ‘Teenage Chronicles…’. It allows Scott to conjure a murky North West landscape sound tracked to Scorsese’s vision in Taxi Driver. Meanwhile, on ‘Reunion’, they pay homage to Membranes legend John Robb via destructive bass playing.

Lyrically, across both these songs, Scott's reputation continues to rise, rapidly. ‘Tearaways’ paints pictures of dimly lit parks, fights, cider, and drug, something teenagers, generation after generation can relate to.

'Reunion', a brutal analysis of an abusive father (“Was it the left or the right when you kicked her goodnight”) is a haunting and righteous reliving of teenage pain.

Then there is 'Beige'. Musically, it again shows of another side, bringing in Celtic folk influences. Scott's lifelong battle against isolation and social attitudes that will move you to tears. Teachers setting a path for impressionable young minds to “other” him is a crushing but, the spirit and, the loving endeavour to search for belonging is heart-warming.

In a time where vultures sit at the head table, Scott shines a light on the only route through this quagmire. The difficult pathway, the one where society and the individual show willing to learn and understand other cultures not “send them home” or bully in articles (“bankrobbers” & “letterboxes”).

To say this is a step up from their previous singles is harsh, 'Frank' and 'Neighbours' are top draw. Nevertheless, a step up this is!

Ivory Wave - Uptown

Birmingham’s Ivory Wave have been threatening peak Happy Mondays and The Twang on their previous offerings, now, they have hit that groove and begun to stride beyond on ‘Uptown’.

Sun kissed and begging for your best ian Brown march on the dancefloor, it’s a going to leave you in a heap the morning after. The irony being, this is a tale of leaving those debauched nights behind you.

That said, such is the beauty of the shimmering jangle guitars, a love affair of guitars searching for Balearic escapism comes to the fore once more. It’s taken the lo-fi pop hooks of Ian Brown’s ‘First World Problems’ and funnelled them through the everyman swagger of The Twang to produce a breakthrough moment for the band. This feels like the moment the influences become theirs to play with as their own sound becomes dominant.

*Image courtesy of Luke Jones