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SINGLE REVIEW: FloodHounds – ‘Near-Life Experience’

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FloodHounds are one of those bands who in the whole timeI’ve been following their releases who have never let me down. Every release – through their musical evolution – has been a bloody joy. Their music is so obviously well crafted but, and this is crucial, it comes with a raw power.

‘Near-Life Experience’ is heavy alt-rock; crunchy guitars, pounding drums and explosive riffs.. Many bands can do that, I know but the edge FloodHounds have is firstly their song-writing, and secondly their sheer musical ability. The drumming is relentlessly pounding but it’s musical; it’s not mindless thrash – it’s full of clever clever fills and subtle use of cymbals. And Jack’s guitar playing is outstanding; full of unexpected sounds, non-lead lead guitar (if you get what I mean) that shines. And he doesn’t do solos, I mean he could and it would be amazing but the power of the band’s music is in the sound of the whole band.

The subject of ‘Near-Life Experience’ is obvious really but for certainty, songwriter Jack Flynn explains, “Lyrically, the song delves into the struggle of feeling numb and disillusioned but reminding you to break free of that apathy, seize the day and hold on to the moments that make you feel alive. I’m sure everyone has felt those moments when the daily grind overwhelms you, and you feel like you’re not living your life to the fullest, hopefully some of that energy blasting through the speakers can reach out to drag you up out of the haze”.

Look, the power of this song is going to blow your mind. It’s heavy alt-rock but it comes with meaningful words that have their own power. So bloody good, it hurts.

The info

Known for their blasts of stomping fuzzed-up indie guitar, savage riffs and hook-heavy choruses; Yorkshire’s FloodHounds deliver tight rabble-rousing live shows; bursting with startlingly jagged guitar, driving bass and wild rhythmic drums. Lyrically catchy, the Indie rock trio’s powerful punk-infused and darkly melodic tunes, stay with you long after the gig.

Floodhounds have played live all over the country and put on their own headline shows, playing sets on the festival circuit at Isle Of Wight Festival, Brighton Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Live at Leeds and Tramlines fringe, as well as played sold out support slots with the likes of Kid Kapichi, The Blinders, PINS, Projector, King Nun, Strange Bones & Calva Louise. The band have also ventured abroad to play in Paris twice at the iconic Parisian venues Supersonic and Le Truskel.

The band are

Lauren Greaves – Drums
Jack Flynn – Vocals/Guitar
Anna Melidone – Bass

SINGLE & EP NEWS: Pop Vulture drop new single ‘Left For Dead’, debut EP ‘Another Success’ set For July release

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Art-rock outfit Pop Vulture have shared new single ‘Left For Dead’ and announced their long-awaited debut EP ‘Another Success’ via Come Play With Me Records/EMI North due 5th July 2024.

Following new-wave post-punk hybrid first single ‘Comforting Lie’ which arrived earlier in the year, ‘Left For Dead’ is still full of experimentation and just as fiercely unrelenting. Stepping away from their guitars, they’ve crafted a sense of unease and reflection. Waves of viola and trombone wash over the track, as the pulsating synth bass and breakbeat-driven drums nod to the vibrant energy of the British 90s dance era.

Emerging from the Leeds’ DIY scene, Pop Vulture wield influences from the dissonance of the No-Wave movement and the unconventionality of post-punk and drape them over tightly-wound grooves. All of this simmers away underneath stream-of-consciousness themes, often of mental health and the relentlessness of living…

The debut EP sees PV pushing the boundaries of guitar music and culminating musical taste. From the rowdy, driving nature of punk and its commentary on social issues, to the pulsing flirtatiousness of electronic music, and experimental edges of alternative rock.

LISTEN to ‘Left For Dead’ https://lnk.to/PV-LFD
PREORDER ‘Another Success’ https://popvultureuk.bandcamp.com/album/another-success

Live Dates

11 MAY | In Colour Festival @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
16 MAY | The Alt Escape, Brighton

SINGLE REVIEW: Gravy – ‘Wait Another Day’

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Leeds band Gravy do Indie. Now. as you may know. Indie is not one of my favourites when it comes to musical genres. For an Indie track to win me over it has to have something, ‘Wait Another Day’ has something.

Now, before I go on, the band’s name is crying out for some sort of gravy based witty comment, but I’m going to resist that. You want gravy based humour, come up with your own.

Now the song has all the stuff Indie needs; jangly chiming guitars, that certain vocal style – casual I guess, that sparseness that Indie songs have in bursts. The certain something is the band’s own take on Indie. It comes with a poppy catchiness, an irresistible beat that is hard not to throw some shapes to. But there is more; a bass line that throbs through the track, and some frankly wonderful guitar flourishes. And, to top this off, it comes with a bittersweet element, an edge to the sound.

What this adds up to is a track that while based on genre where many tread the same musical path, stands out because of those unexpected elements. A track that won me over in the first 30 seconds; much to my surprise to be honest.

‘Wait Another Day’ is one hell of a song. The band’s first release, it promises much goodness to come from them in the future. Fabulous stuff.

SINGLE REVIEW: Su, I Think – ‘close to god’

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I do love a great pop song, and ‘close to god’ is ticking all the right boxes. It’s pop in a kind of 80s way – all smooth groove and dreamy synths.

But wait, there is more. It’s the clever touches of sound that really kick this up, way up there.The sparse but rich sound where the persistent slow beat doesn’t drown that euphoric dreamy synth. And then there are the touches of vocal effects layered over the rich main vocal. And yeah, you could just enjoy a casual listen but the true reward comes with a deeper listen, then the real effect hits you, it’s hypnotic and mesmerising.

And there is the extra layer added by what the track is about; Su explains “‘Close to god’ is a song about giving into desire so much that you forget about yourself. The feelings of bitterness that come when you’re giving too much time away. When working on this track, for my upcoming project ‘real love’, we wanted to write about how easy it is to lose yourself amongst all the dopamine releasing when in a new fling. Ignoring the red flags and getting as ‘close to god’ as possible whilst ignoring all the obvious consequences. Opening your eyes and realising that maybe the Love might not be that good at all”.

You see, what we have here is a track where the music tells the story of the song as much as the lyrics. And it’s sonic bliss.

‘close to god’ is sophisticated, classy and a blast of bliss for your ears. Go on, give your ears a treat.

SINGLE REVIEW: VENT – ‘Controller’

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If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while you’ll know that I love a great pop song, and VENT’s ‘Controller’ is one hell of a great pop song.

I could best describe the sound as a beautiful unholy mix of pop from the last 5 decades of that thing we call pop. There is that edgy odd sound of Sparks, the sounds of late 70s’ post-punk electronica, the electro pop of the 80s’ – like Ultravox and Thomas Dolby, weirdly the odd hint of early Spandau Ballet, the echo of 80s’ big pop – if you, like me spent at least a portion of your youth in the 80s I refer you to the meaty sounds of King and the smoother sound of Heaven 17, a seasoning of Rave and moving up to the electro-pop of now. And this is by no means comprehensive. The band refer to it being Nu-Pop’ a genre I have to admit I haven’t quite caught up to.

So for me it’s just a huge pop track that just insists you dance in a suitably jerky way to its edgy beat. Something that sounds new and fresh. The meaty beats, the vast synths that soar, the oddness of the subtle sounds that run through the track, and the powerful vocals that at times form a staccato beat and at others are huge.

And hey, the words are about something, so this is a track not just to listen to – because musically this is outstanding, not just to dance to but to listen to properly to hear the words. The band explain “:Controller’ is about growing up with a complex father son relationship and feeling like a lot of the issues and battles that existed in that dynamic are reflected in the male leaders of our society and the population. It’s a reflection on the loss of some parts of childhood (and the loneliness of that) but also a look forward, to appreciate the effect it’s had”.

VENT have made something wonderful here, something new, something fearless, I have fallen completely under its spell, this is addictive. This is a must listen.

The info

VENT is the collaboration of musicians Thom Buckley (Team Picture) and Chris Mulligan (WH Lung). Through pop gilded sensibilities they’ve curated a project based on danceability and sincerity. At a time where in some circles it’s still cool to be cruel, they’ve elected to speak from the heart and reach for connection instead.

Speaking on the release, the artists say: “This second single feels central to the project as a whole. The themes and ideas we’re looking to investigate in the entire record are brought forward with more urgency and empowerment on this one. Musically we’re trying to tap into the nu-pop sensibilities of someone like Marie Davidson in a more direct way, bringing in some maximal guitar sounds and percussive elements that help shape the rest of the record.”

Autumn will see VENT release their debut project, a collection of songs that look back at a combination of childhood, teen and young adult experiences. Its main focus is to unify and empathise, taking the approach that to care is not uncool, to be sincere is important and to be earnest about things is not some cheesy, embarrassing or cringe thing to do.

SINGLE REVIEW: Stellar Anderson Project – ‘You Don’t Listen’

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The Stellar Anderson Project is a name I have seen coming up in gig listings for some time now but this single is the first music I have actually heard from them. It’s a cliche but true nevertheless that clearly I’ve been missing something special.

From my audio scanning of their music on Spotify (ED: Other music streaming services are available) there seems to be two musical threads that run through; what I’m going to call a certain 70s’ feel and a hint of Celtic rock.

What I mean about it having a certain 70s’ feel is that the sound is very much about the instruments without any embellishment. It sounds like it’s made by a band playing together. And yes, that’s not unique to 70s’ music but you see it’s the focus on a powerful intimate vocal that makes me hark back to then.

‘You Don’t Listen’ is a gritty-ish ballad backed by soaring keys and an absolutely fabulous acoustic guitar. But for me the standout, the focus, of the song is Stellar’s voice. It’s impassioned, it’s powerful, at times gritty and at times sweet as can be. It’s the sort of voice I haven’t heard for ages, perhaps way back to my youth. It’s a lesson in how to convey emotion without vocal histrionics and over-emoting. Less is very much more.

And I must say that the words she is singing are fantastic; simple yes, but simple and great is oh so hard to do. Like her voice, the words are just right to convey a rich story; you just need to read between the lines.

The combination of voice, words and music in ‘You Don’t Listen’ makes for something beautiful, powerful and emotional. This is one very special song

The info

The Stellar Anderson Project is a collaboration of musicians featuring the songs of Stellar Anderson. She currently is working with the amazing Chris Holman, who has worked with British rock icon Julian Cope for over a decade. He has also worked as guitar tech on many world tours for rock bands including Venom.) They have more exciting songs and shows to come this summer including supporting Carol Hodge and Julia Othmer.

Stellar Anderson is a Scottish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She is an artist with something to say and writes straight from the heart. Celtic roots and classical training shine through. The songs are lyric driven with strong hooks, melodies and moments of fragility in ballads that will pull on your heart strings. From stripped back solos to full on drama, she covers many genres.

SINGLE REVIEW: TC & The Groove Family – ‘Stand Strong’

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TC & The Groove Family make damn fine music, bloody damn fine music. It’s funky, Soul-y, Jazzy, Afrobeat-y and has a groove that’s irresistible.

‘Stand Strong’ – the first release from the band’s forthcoming EP – has something of the retro about it. It combines their jazz sound with dub, and some burningly funky soul. I vowed to not use the description Nu-Soul in this review but I find myself kinda put in the position where I have no choice but to use it. And yet there is more in this musically twisting and turning 61/2 minutes. At one point there is an extended sax solo that reminds me of early Madness; yep, there is ska in the mix.

You see, like many bands who make damn fine music, TC & The Groove Family’s music is hard to define. And to be honest, time spent trying to define it is time wasted. It’s music that is all kinds of fabulous, played by musicians who are frankly outstanding. It’s music that demands that you bloody dance until you can’t dance any more, but then you can just sit exhausted and listen to this band play, and reel in amazement.

And yet there is another layer to this track because it comes with a message; a message in words supplied by Franz Von. Franz explains ‘Stand Strong celebrates our ability to look within and around us to find courage. It highlights our perseverance, determination and strengths in facing adversity, encouraging everyone to recognise these strengths and use them to better themselves and the people around them’.

It introduces the theme of community empowerment that unifies the forthcoming EP,
the track highlights those throughout history who have created movements in the face of
adversity, encouraging listeners to stand strong with their communities in the present day.
Transmitting a poignant message of solidarity at a time of global turbulence. And the band’s multifaceted music is the right carrier of such a message; mixing many different sounds into one fantastic unified sound.

Enough of this, time spent reading my review is time you could be spending listening and grooving to this absolutely wonderful track. It’s a bloody joy, people.

Oh, and one more thing I have to tell you. There’s a shorter radio edit version of the track, it’s just as good as the longer version except it’s shorter. My recommendation, you need the long version in your life.

The info

Originally formed in Leeds, TC & The Groove Family’s sound reflects the diverse musical and cultural backgrounds at the core of the project, with songs exploring grooves and genres including afrobeat, broken beat, jungle, jazz and grime.

The forthcoming ‘We Have Each Other’ EP sees the band refine the sound debuted on their 2022 album ‘First Home’. Returning to work once again with producer Tom Excell (Nubiyan Twist, ONIPA), the project explores a darker sonic palette, channeling a deep appreciation of UK bass and electronic music alongside afro-jazz sounds and hip-hop sensibilities. It documents a time of change within the group – a new lineup, plus members living in different cities and pursuing various paths – whilst also reflecting the turbulent socio-political climate, and the major shifts and changes on the horizon for humanity.

Building upon the core of the Groove Family, the project features contributions from Nubiyan Twist’s Aziza Jaye, and BBCR1Xtra-backed Birmingham MC SANITY. Despite the heavy subject material, the band strike an optimistic, uplifting tone, encouraging listeners to look around and embrace community, whatever that may look like. No one should be lonely when celebrating each other, and the band encourage an ethos that says ‘it’s good to be me, but it’s better to be us.’

SINGLE REVIEW: The Beer Snobs – ‘There​’​s No Night Buses To Beeston’

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What you are always guaranteed to get from The Beer Snobs is something that musically is a blast; and ‘There​’​s No Night Buses To Beeston’ is no bloody exception to that. It’s a blast of something that I could describe as garagey punk in a style that kinda sits in a Buzzcocks stylee with something of The Stranglers in the power of the musical attack, with an intro that sounds like a mutant Sabbath. What I’m saying here is that you can pogo to it, got that?

With the bloody great music, you’re guaranteed to get fantastic words; and this too is no exception. This is a protest song, a commentary if you will, about the state of the country. And yes, I know that’s not immediately obvious from the title but bear with me.

The song starts at the population wide level:

We’re going all cashless
We’ve gotta use cards
With contactless payments
In restaurants and bars
Rising energy prices
And gaps on the shelves
There’s an NHS crisis
And Boris didn’t help

Before moving to a raging attack on the bus services in Leeds:

There’s no night buses to Beeston
But there’s night buses from Leeds
The N1 from Infirmary Street
Fulfils the student needs
There’s no night buses to Beeston
But there’s night buses from Leeds
And you can get to Lawnswood School at 02.53

Whatever happened
To the 923
Every Friday and Saturday
To Beeston from Leeds
It had same driver
Every week
Nicknamed The Fightrider
The fare wasn’t off peak

There’s no night buses to Beeston
But there’s night buses from Leeds
The N1 from Infirmary Street
Fulfils the student needs
There’s no night buses to Beeston
But there’s night buses from Leeds
And you can get to Lawnswood School at 02.53

And while this might seem like a pretty abrupt change of subject, it isn’t. You see it’s the things that affect your life on a personal level that really rankle, that get you all riled up. And the crap bus services are a symptom of the state of now.

And these words are delivered with something I’m going to call a sense of humour; which makes it all the more powerful. It’s a song that gets you angry while at the same time leaving a smile on your face.

‘There​’​s No Night Buses To Beeston’ is the very embodiment of a punk protest song, and it’s bloody fucking great. Music that gets you crazy on the dancefloor and words that make you think. Go listen right now.

This is the first release from the forthcoming second studio album from The Beer Snobs.

SINGLE REVIEW: Gurgles – ‘How D’ye Like Me’

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It has been a while – quite a while to be honest – since I’ve reviewed a release from Gurgles; this is a pity, so I’m happy to have something new to listen to and write about.

For those of you who have not heard of Gurgles, or possibly have heard of them but not actually heard any of their music. What they do is hard to describe in a pithy sentence. It’s quite proggy, a little poppy and frankly somewhat strange. That’s strange in a good way.

‘How D’ye Like Me’ is one part Buggles, one part Yes when they went ‘all modern’ and produced by Trevor Horn, and one part that sits somewhere in a kind of Bozo Dog Band, Neil Innes sort of area. Or it’s a kind of electro prog-pop in a sort of early early 80s style with the odd zoom off in an odd direction. These odd zoom offs are the spoken lists that appear; lists of mainly strange fashion items, some of which may provoke some memories if you’re of the right age.

This, frankly confusing, breakdown doesn’t tell you that the song is a catchy number that will have you humming along in no time at all. And if you take time to listen, you’ll get that it’s a clever song about trends and how they change. Or at least that’s the sense I get.

The other thing is that the members of Gurgles are scarily good musically so they have the ability to combine sounds and styles that may not, at first sight, go together. So the combination of 80s’ electro-pop with straight out of the early 70s prog synth makes, in their hands, perfect sense.

Look whatever you may be taking from my review, the thing is that this good music and fun music guaranteed to make you smile. In a phrase, fab gear.

The info

Gurgles are a three piece (Bass, Keys, Drums) brother-and-sister plus Bradley Cunningham Bradford based progpopband.

Songwriter and Fender Rhodesman is Augustin Bousfield, co-producer of much of Saint Etienne’s recent output, solo keytared up electropopper and ex of Mucky Sailor and Nope. Plus a writer of TV music including the theme tune to Deal or No Deal.

This the first single to be released from the forthcoming album, ‘Sogs and Songs’ which is slated for release on 27th April 2024.

SINGLE REVIEW: Cheryl Holland – ‘Into The Heat’

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This is the first release from West Yorkshire dance singer/songwriter and producer Cheryl Holland I’ve reviewed.

Look, I have to be honest here back in the day Cheryl’s rave sound dance music just wouldn’t have been my thing; but time passes and things shift and I find myself really liking this track. It’s so bloody joyful, and I find myself compelled to throw some – somewhat embarrassing – shapes.

It is, as I’ve already hinted, a rave dance track with all that entails Big driving bass beats, stabby synths, euphoric builds, clever breakdowns; you know the type of thing. The thing is it’s all done so well. The sound is faultless, the way it’s put together is perfect. It just leaves you to feel the joy and dance your arse off. Cheryl has a voice that soars high. The music complements her vocals and she pulls off some clever spoken passages that just add to the mix.

You’ve probably worked out that this is a retro sound but hey, does that really matter. It’s got me hooked on a sound I wasn’t into at the time, and when it’s this good I don’t give a damn. This is music that makes you want to get sweaty out on the floor. And this is all good, it’s very very good.

Get your dancing shoes on, crank this up and dance yourself into a small pool of sweat. ‘Into The Heat’ is euphoric dance music that’s brimming with joy.

The info

Cheryl teamed up with Tom Sleeps, a progressive/trance producer and DJ to make this track.

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