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ALBUM NEWS: Fizzy Blood release debut album ‘Pan Am Blues’

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After three EPs and a three-hundred-day-a-year touring schedule, Fizzy Blood have finally released their anticipated debut album Pan Am Blues with contradictions on full display.

Drummer Jake Greenway explains, “I can hardly believe our Pan Am Blues is out in the world, it’s been a labour of love and we’re all so proud of what we’ve accomplished. From coming to the end of six years worth of touring in 2018 and having to figure out who we were as people, as a band, and completely starting from scratch in terms of our sound and approach to song-writing, I couldn’t be happier with the finished article. This album has given us a new lease of life as artists and made us fall in love with making music again and If anyone who listens to it can even hear a crumb of that, we’ve done our jobs”.

To mark the release, Fizzy Blood have also unveiled a music video for their new single Flavour Of The Month.

“Flavour Of The Month is a song about fleeting obsession”, explains vocalist Benji Inkley, “I’m an extremely compulsive person; if I get an idea in my head, whether it’s the beginning of a song, or something more trivial like testing out a build in some of my favourite video games, then I have to see it come to life as soon as possible without thought of how my behaviour affects those around me. I think the contrast of the rhythmic and upbeat backing music to the lyrics does a good job in masking the real meaning behind them. Something we’ve gotten fairly good at!”

Fizzy Blood have been releasing episodes from their retro-futuristic thriller series, also titled Pan Am Blues. Created in collaboration with the White brothers of 10 Days Productions, it showcases talent from up and coming actors Sydney Craven (Eastenders), Robbie O’Neill (Boiling Point, Little Boy Blue) & Jessica Barker-Wren (Dumbo).

The album

Stream/download https://frictionless-artist.com/qovxk6e

Tracks

Centre of Nowhere
Complementary
Pearly Whites
Heart of Stone
Flavour of the Month
Viva Lost Vegas
Out On The Waves
1996
10:23
Famous Planes (feat. L E M F R E C K)
When It All Falls Apart
Ka Palaho Beach (feat. Dead Nature)
Last Orders at the Latest Bar On Earth

Recorded over a period of 3 years in various locations around the UK, debut album Pan Am Blues touches on a myriad of themes and musical influences; dystopian modern life, familiarity and comfort in nostalgia, soul-searching, isolation and sees Fizzy Blood adopt a fresh contemporary sound fusing Bedroom Pop, Indie Rock, new-wave R&B and Soul.

Guitarist and songwriter Paul Howells explains, “I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with whilst making this record is that we had an idea of how things were going to go down on our path as a band and as people, and it didn’t go that way. We all had moments where we didn’t know if we were going to do this band anymore. The process of picking up from that and then trying to start again was quite difficult, but I’m glad we’re where we’ve ended up. I wouldn’t change it”.

About the band

With roots in Leeds’ bustling music scene, Fizzy Blood have three EPs under their name to date – Pink Magic (2018), Summer Of Luv (2017) and Feast (2015). Across these releases their sound has consistently grown, and gathered plaudits from BBC Radio 1, Radio X, DIY, Wonderland, Clash, The Metro plus many more.

Fizzy Blood have toured all over the globe since their inception. Highlights to date include SXSW, Zandari, Reading & Leeds, The Great Escape, Boardmasters and Bestival festivals, support to Hockey Dad, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Spring King, plus a run of sell out UK headline shows.

Benji Inkley – Vocals / Guitars
Paul Howells – Guitars / Keys
Tim Malkin – Guitars / Keys
Ciaran Scanlon – Bass
Jake Greenway – Drums

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SINGLE REVIEW: Sunday Lendis – ‘With Ease’

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There are times when I agree to review something based entirely upon the description of the music the artist or band play. I guess this is something of a throwback to the days of my youth when, unless they got radio play or a friend had a copy, all you had to go on was a review in one of the weekly music papers. Sometimes those reviews were too clever for their own good and didn’t actually tell you what the music sounded like. Beyond that there was the ‘love the cover, let’s get it’ method of buying; something which led to some interesting choices in my collection.

Anyway, the point I’m making here is that this release from Sunday Lendis is one of those. The description of her music as jazz-folk blended with electronica had me as soon as I read them. What I had in my head, and the initial listen confirmed it, was something of the feel of Joni Mitchell.

The sound of this is at the same time rich and complex, and simple.It’s simple in that at its heart is a tune that is beautiful and quietly compelling. The richness comes from the music; a carefully crafted and fantastically played blend of vocals, instruments and electronic sounds.

It is not a case of when one of the sounds – jazz, folk and electronica – takes a lead; the feel ebbs and flows. Sometimes this is signalled by an instrument – the drums coming in – and sometimes by a stripping back of the sound – to voice, handclaps and synth washes. But it’s seamless, it’s sinuous.

But for me it is Sunday’s voice that charmed and mesmerised me. She goes from soft folky, to jazzy to spoken voice with astounding ease. And she is singing words with meaning. The song is about feeling lost, when your skin doesn’t seem to fit you perfectly and you are yet to grow into it. Sunday explains ‘I hadn’t given myself the time or patience to figure out who I was, during the final year of my degree covid hit and I felt like I was left with nothing. This song explores those feelings of drifting, feeling lost and unsure of yourself especially during such difficult times’

This is an incredible song; wonderfully written and arranged, beautifully played and sung. I know it’s early in the year but I just know that this will be one of my favourite reviewed releases this year. It’s that good.

The info

Sunday was born and raised in Australia, moving to the UK in 2010. She graduated from Leeds College of Music in 2020. Since then she has performed at events and venues such as Jazz Cafe, The Old Queen’s Head Islington, Brudenell Social Club and festivals such as Green Man and Shambala Festival, Liverpool International Jazz Festival, Manchester Jazz festival; and has worked with established Northern artists including KOG, Tom Excell, B-ahwe and Yaatri.

Since the project’s beginnings Sunday Lendis has been supported by The Sound & Music Composers Award, Launchpad and Leeds Conservatoire’s Artist Development Grant.

Her debut EP ‘Long Exposure’ is set to release this Spring.

EP REVIEW: Zero Cost – ‘Proxy Wars’/’Moving Up’/’Tartuffe’

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Hull’s Zero Cost do raucous as fuck hard punk with a message, a meaning. And this is just how it should be. Got that, good, let’s delay no further.

‘Proxy Wars’ should need no explanation, after all we’re in one right now. But this one is not the first as the ‘found speech’ at the start of this track reminds us. We are talking breakneck raucous ear pounding here, with guitars that slice. The odd sound that you might identify as metal. This, and this is no surprise, rocks musically, and gets you thinking.

Now ‘Moving Up’ was a previous stand alone track, this is what I said then. Yep there’s still those metal elements but this is punky as fuck. Played at breakneck speed, vicious guitar upfront and centre, vocals spat out in a tumbling rush, drums thrash. The song seems to be about not being held back by society, making the most of your life and fulfilling your potential – from what I could work out, those words come thick and fast.

The final track of the three is a surprise. ‘Tartuffe’ is a weirdly almost folky sparse guitar and voice track that kind of reminds me of early Rainbow in what I can only describe as a completely bizarre way. The title is going to need some explanation – I had to look it up – tartuffe means ‘a hypocritical pretender to excellence of any kind’. From what I can work out, and I may be wrong, it’s a call out to bands that don’t live their music, who just put on an act.

The more I hear from Zero Cost, the more impressed I am. This is a band who do it right, fucking right. The writing, the playing, is just so good. And while they have a sound, the songs don’t do same-y. And the unexpected ‘Tartuffe’ shows me that they are a band prepared to step out and do something fantastically different. Blast your post New Year cobwebs out of your brain with this.

SINGLE REVIEW: Lolas – ‘The Stars Go Home And Cry’/’Cherry Police’

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My first review of 2023, and it’s a fabulous slice of dreamy pop from Lolas. Lolas might be new to you but who they are shouldn’t be; the duo are Naomi Mann and Fizz Smith of The Seamonsters fame. The thing about The Seamonsters was that they always had an ear for a great tune, and these songs sure don’t disappoint on that. Let’s leap in.

One thing I should warn you about ‘The Stars Go Home And Cry’ is that it starts off really quiet; so don’t, unless you really like to deafen your neighbours, be tempted to turn up the volume. So as the dream-pop guitar gradually builds the song turns into something that I can only describe as a big dream pop ballad with, and this is crucial, more than a hint of a classic pop sound, something of that Fleetwood Mac feel is there too.

Musically the things that are going to grab you are the subtle and clever dreamy guitar and a wonderful use of piano. And the vocal is a complete joy, totally compelling, it builds with the track into something that is glorious.

‘Cherry Police’ features more of that piano, I say features although it should probably be piano led. Again the feel here is in that pop ballad kinda sound. Although, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s more than a hint of early Kate Bush in the sound and feel. The combination of voice and piano is completely lovely.

In the time I’ve had access to this, I have to admit I’ve become somewhat obsessed with these two songs. The songwriting, playing and the way they are put together is fantastic. The sound is gorgeous, that mix of the now in the dreamy pop and the retro classic pop is mesmerising. These songs weave a beautiful spell.

SINGLE REVIEW: Sandra’s Wedding – ‘One Horse Town’

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There are two things I just know I can expect from any Sandra’s Wedding release – a tune that’s going to stick in your head forever and great words. What you can’t expect is quite what it’s going to sound like because, although they have a certain feeling in their songs that marks them out as coming from the band, the sound of the song fits the words. Form follows function, if you will.

‘One Horse Town’ has a kind of big rock song feel. And when I say rock, oh sod it I’m going to use a phrase that’s sitting in my head, I mean in the Springsteen sense. Guitars are muscular, drums pound but there’s a huge tune and a sense of dynamics that rips at your soul.

And the words, the words tell of a town that’s in distress and decaying. It tells of the lives of ordinary people. You get that Springsteen thing now, don’t you. This isn’t a new story to tell, it’s a timeless theme, given where we are now; it’s a story of now. It’s also a story we can recognise as being of The North.

This isn’t just a great song, it’s an important song, even a protest song. And when I say great song, I mean there’s more than the brilliant tune, there’s a feel that’s addictive, a feel that comes from the heart; it has that instant classic feel. This is a truly outstanding release. A ‘must hear’.

SINGLE REVIEW: Rodeo Garden – ‘Old Man’s Eyes’/’Reine’

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Some time ago I reviewed an EP from The Bleachés called ‘Easter Island’; well The Bleachés are no more but out of that come Rodeo Garden. It’s early in their musical journey but boy is their first release good.

‘Old Man’s Eyes’ does Americana but it does it in a loose, sometimes warped kinda way with added 60s’ psychy pop. It manages to sound both almost casual and beautifully arranged. Gorgeously ‘warped a bit’ guitar punctuates the loping beat. And while you marvel at the way Rodeo Garden bring these influences together into something utterly beautiful, you’ll notice that it’s danceable too. Need anything more?

There’s more of a psychedelic pop sound to ‘Reine’. I’m hearing later period Monkees – you know after they started doing their own stuff, I’m also hearing The Strawberry Alarm Clock and bits of 60s’ British R’n’B. And yet, as retro as my sounds-like references are, there are hints of an indie sound. It’s intoxicating.

These songs are so well put together and the playing is brilliant. They both grab your attention immediately, and reward deeper listening. Hear it once and you’ll be grooving, listen again and the sonic nuances will enrich your ears.

This debut release from Rodeo Garden is a complete joy. It mixes sounds from all sorts of times and places into something wonderful. This you gotta hear.

EP REVIEW: Yutaniii – ‘Yutaniii’

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A while ago I reviewed Yutanii’s single ‘Chasing The Dragon’ – which can be found on this EP – and found that it was one of those ‘I love this but for the life of me can’t say exactly why’ tracks. Hopefully the EP will help me decide.

The opening track ‘Bodysnatchers’ is surprisingly groovy, well at least to start off with; after that it gets decidedly dark. There’s that mix of post-hardcore, space-rock, acid rock madness with a hint of Cardiacs. Detuned sounds jar and jerk. It sounds like a cross between a band that might have appeared at a Stonehenge Free Festival and something I can’t define. It is incredibly addictive.

Up next is ‘Chasing The Dragon’. It’s full of grinding sounds that come from the depths of hell, and a vocal that proclaims loudhailer style. This is until, and inexplicably, it breaks out into a passage of extremely tuneful space-rock. But hey, who the fuck cares, it’s all part of the joy.

I am still no further into discovering exactly why I love this music. Let’s keep going.

‘Coven’ surprises with a start that is rock but with a sense of melody. Now there’s still those jerky jarring sounds but they’re toned down. It does the loud/quiet thing; an astoundingly beautiful guitar break that turns into a swirling twirling fairground keyboard that sounds somewhat like ELP (but dirty my friends).

‘The Tesseract’ is like – and please forgive the retro references – a cross between Hawkwind and Here & Now. It’s spacrock but it has more than a touch of psychedelic rock. It shifts, it goes off on weird sonic paths, It’s all quite bewilderingly beautifully chaotic.

And then to the closing track ‘Cosmic Joke’ which for Yutanni could be termed the ‘tasteful ballad’. A gorgeous tune, tasteful guitar. It almost sounds indie. That is until it gets all warped organ. The joke here is this track doesn’t do what you might expect of the band.

I think after hearing the whole EP I am closer to knowing quite why this music is so good. Firstly it’s music made by a band that just take it where they want, there’s no ‘sound of Yutaniii’ beyond what is best described as a broad range. Second, for all the sonic chaos, the quality of playing on these tracks is frankly outstanding. And thirdly, it’s just grin inducing fun, it’s music played for the sheer joy of it, the love of it.

Yutaniii make brilliant and compelling music. This EP intrigues and mesmerises in equal measures.

EP REVIEW: boyproblems – ‘He Loves Me Not’

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I have to be honest when I first heard this EP from Sheffield’s boyproblems I wasn’t sure about it but a couple of days later it all clicked into place. I’m sure I’m not the first to have this happen.

The EP’s first track ‘Haystacks’ is going to set the scene (well in some ways, and not in others). It’s kind of emo with shoegaze vocals but it’s all done with, what I can’t help but describe as, pop sensibility. I mean it’s guitary but not heavy guitar, and it’s bouncy as hell. It’s a joy.

‘Possession’ takes that sound but adds crunchier guitar. It also adds some Zeppelin-like guitar runs. If this sounds strange, it is but it’s way cool. It sounds really sad and emotional. This is reinforced by a vocal that sometimes sounds on the ragged edge of falling over. Look this is the sign of a band who want to take their sound further, much further.

We’re back to a more emo sound with ‘Games’. But there’s a tune that’s as earwormy as hell, and it compels your feet to dance. I say emo but the vocals take a poppier shoegaze route. The whole kind of reminds me of some of the Twee bands back in the day. Twee was a kind of bouncier poppier version of shoegaze, and something I was really into at the time. Up next is the more indie-pop of ‘Overwhelming Emotion’. The vocals spill out words at a rate of notes while guitar notes tumble over each other. Lovely.

‘Stuck’ is a surprise. This thing is an epic. It does that quiet/loud thing. The quiet is a wonderfully poppy thing with the sweetest synths, the heavy is raging guitars and odd angular rhythms jar.

The indie-pop of ‘Shut Up & Kiss Me’ takes us back to a joyous bop. Yep, this is one big danceable track. It’s angular, jerky, it takes off in different sounding bits. Gets all indie-rock for the big finish. This is going to take you a journey, people.

Oh boy, does this EP end with something big, ‘Loveless’ is a big shoegaze track full of raging emotion. It’s soulful, it’s gloriously loud. It’s huge.

The thing about this EP, and I rather hope this is maintained in future, is that while the mix of influences is there in all the tracks; each track sounds different, while still sounding like the band. And I love that. The easy thing is to just write songs that all fit easily into the same genre. The difficult thing is to go with a sound that fits the song, and to hell with fitting into a niche. boyproblems take the difficult route, and do it fantastically.

This is a fabulous EP; great songs, great playing and a continuously compelling sound. This is so bloody good.

ALBUM REVIEW: Tom Priestley & Martin Trippett – ‘Shades of Chaos’

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Another album from Leeds based performance poet and multi-instrumentalist Tom Priestley, and his partner in art Martin Trippett. Always sometimes to look forward to both lyrically and musically.

The album opens with the dark ranting of ‘Sick!’; I want to emphasise that I’m not using the word ranting as a criticism. I rather love ranty songs.It takes a sparse abrasive sound; a sound I’m going to describe as early Fall like. The key here is that It’s your basic guitar and drums deployed with a sense of frustration and no little aggression to match the words. The words, delivered with Tom’s usual completely unmistakably Leeds’ thing, speak of a variety of ways you can be sick or sick of things; sick of feeling ill, sick of being hopeless, sick of the eternal time that, I assume, passes by with no variation. And while the words might speak of frustration. A dose of anger; the way Tom puts those words together has that wry dry as fuck humour I’ve come to expect.

Up next is the equally abrasive ‘Elastic Radical’ which takes as its core the story of a football match. This unless I have misinterpreted it. It sounds strangely like Glam Rock, a mutant Rock ‘n’ Roll with aggressive guitar and a tingling piano; guaranteed to raise a smile, it just tickled me. The words spill out like a torrent, just the sound of them is compelling. But do listen properly.

Lifeless Culture’ is less a song and more a poem with musical backing. This makes it no less compelling. The sound is fuller; driving sparse drums, bass and two guitars. One of those guitars provides atmospheric sounds. The words are a journey through our culture now; that’s culture in a wider sense. How the beauty of the world is drowned out by a tsunami of worthless, well, crap to be honest. It references, at least I think so, social media. The drowning out of proper discussion. The draining of hope. It therefore seems to expand on, or add to, the themes of ‘Sick!’.

Next up the heavier rock – I’m talking chugging riff here – of ‘Going Nowhere’. The heavier bassier sound suits the words that speak of, no surprise here, going nowhere fast. The grind of life now which seems to be at hyperspeed but does it get you anywhere? Be honest now. It talks of the speed with which the world seems to insist on going now.

‘Dystopian Nursery Rhyme’ is about the continued decay of our world and society. Make no mistake this is dark. The sound is grinding guitar, and a bust of harmonica. Yes, I guess you could call it dystopian blues. ‘Things Are Getting Strange Around Here’ speaks of the ‘strangeness of life’. It seems to advocate dropping out of the world now. It goes from rock grind to psychedelic beauty.

‘Noize Box’ is wonderful musically. And here I have to admit that despite listening to it on repeat for a period that must have had my neighbours cursing I have yet to work out.

The remaining three tracks form a three part piece – Confession. This is a spoken word piece accompanied by what sounds like improvised piano.

Part One ‘Enterlude Of A Slow Motion Car Crash’ seems to speak of the confusion and twists and turns of life. It asks eternal questions. It, obviously, describes life as a car crash but one that takes years to happen. Part Two ‘Within The Whiplash Realm’ talks of the result of a car crash life. What you can miss by treating life as a rehearsal. And Part Three ‘Exitude Into A Martian Time Dimension’ seems to allow the narrator to step outside of the world and observe.

The aggressive sound of the album – barring the final piece – sets up an album that is about the increasing disillusionment we have with the world, with society and with life. The words are words to ponder, to savour, to listen to properly. To hear the images and feelings they describe.

This is an incredible album. Even if you’re not into poetry or spoken word, can I strongly suggest that you do listen to it. it’s a compelling, incredibly rich and rewarding set of songs and pieces.

EP REVIEW: Keep Back Ivy – ‘Where We Are Going’

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What I love about Keep Back Ivy’s music is that it’s really hard to pigeonhole it. Even in one song you’ll think ‘OK so I’ve got it now’ but then, suddenly, it changes and you have to start thinking all over again. This is of course my reviewer head talking where such things are important. My music lover head just loves it because it’s great. And because they write songs about things, important things.

EP opener ‘Won’t Forget You’ is a song that is actually about the opposite of what you’d expect a song called that to be about. It’s actually about somebody or something who won’t let you forget about them however hard you try. Emma says that it’s about the Labour Party, and more particularly about her relationship with it.

It sounds like a cross between Spanish guitar music, arch art-rock and grunge played on something like a cello. Look I did warn you. It alternates between skittering sparse sections and huge swirling, twisting sections.

And to the almost claustrophobic ‘Endless Cycle’. Here the music is overwhelming, dense with then sparse. There is a darkness in the sound of this track. That darkness is carried through to a guitar solo that almost sits apart from the rest of the track. The song, as Emma explains, is ‘largely about the Tories using the pandemic to syphon money off to their mates’.

With ‘You Don’t Know Me’ there is something of 80s’ electro-pop in the sound. But that’s only part of it. Listen closely and you’ll hear that there’s a skittering sad bass pad that sits under the sometimes brittle brightness. And there’s a slow section that is somehow mourningfully sad. This is music that’s telling a story. The story it tells is one about the lives of people we think we know about but don’t.

‘Where We Are Going’ sounds more like a sad question, and not the end of a journey. But musically it’s lovely in a sad way.

The middle two tracks show the duo’s commitment to highlighting societal issues. It reflects the time of the pandemic and things that happened during it. But it doesn’t do that in a ‘boot in the head’ sort of way. The duo’s approach is one of taking the quiet way of centering the songs on people.

Musically the songs sound how I would expect Keep Back Ivy’s songs to sound. Chock full of a wonderful mixture of sounds, put together and played beautifully. It has moments of unexpected juxtaposition that surprise and thrill. Emma’s vocals are wonderfully full of emotion. And Andy’s guitar shines.

This is a wonderful EP. The songs are beautifully put together and the words compel closer listening. It has a quiet mesmirising beauty that casts its spell over you. And yes I know that’s unexpected given what the songs are about, but that’s what Keep Back Ivy do.

Links to socials, streaming and more: https://linktr.ee/keepbackivy

Buy CD, downloads, and CD and merch bundles: https://keepbackivy.bandcamp.com/album/where-we-are-going

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